Monday, 30 March 2015

Want, Need, Wear, Read

So, I spotted this as a series whilst blog-stalking the Blue Rinse (who has just had a gorgeous baby boy by the way if you also want to stalk) and I am slightly stealing the idea for myself as I really like the idea. Just to state the obvious, this is going to be a wish list, but categorised, which makes my inner nerd happy.

I mentioned way back in my August Favourites post that Rich and I were into Minecraft. We were into it for a really long time, but then stopped playing it quite so much in favour of other games. Then Rich bought it on Xbox One, and being able to play it in co-op mode has got us really obsessed again. So, when I spotted this torchlight on the Firebox website I immediately wanted it. I don't even know where I'd put it, but it makes me very happy. Definitely a want.

My spare bedroom has all of the bedding and accessories in it which were in my bedroom in my flat, which came from the house-share I was in before that, and that was a really long time ago now (5 years!) so I think it's about time I changed it up. Also because the bedding is Argos bedding it doesn't wash so well and looks faded and old. Mostly because it is old but y'know. The walls are white and the curtains are black in the spare room, so I thought this grey striped set would go well with the decor and I could still keep some of my bright pink accessories to give a pop of colour. 

Now that it's not chuffing freezing all the time I'm not having to wear all the layers when I go out, meaning I'm beginning to realise that I pretty much only own hoodies, and not many jumpers. I love the look of this sweater, as it would be perfect for spring teamed with my skinny jeans and docs. Unfortunately this one is out of stock in my size, so the hunt will have to continue. Has anyone seen anything similar anywhere else? 

I am really looking forward to reading this book after seeing a lot of people raving about it on Instagram and Twitter. It tells the story of a girl who sees the same house every day on her morning train to work, but then one day she sees something which shocks her and changes everything. This book appeals to me because I love to make up little lives and think about the people who live in houses I see on my way to work (not many really as most of it is on the motorway, but it still entertains me) and it has been compared to Gone Girl, which had me reading it in every spare moment. The only thing holding me back from buying it straight away is that it's still on the more expensive side of how much I like to pay for a Kindle book. I'll buy it when it either gets down below £5, or if I'm lucky enough to get any Amazon vouchers for my birthday. I just hope I manage to stay spoiler free until then!

I hope you've liked this new style of wishlist post, I've enjoyed putting it together even if it does have a random mix of things in it. 

Rachel x

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Beauty Matters Launch, Garforth, Leeds

I got an email a couple of weeks ago now inviting me to the re-launch of a beauty salon in Garforth, which is a little town about 5 minutes away from Leeds. I obviously said yes, as I know Garforth fairly well because it was a place Rich and I looked at living when we were moving to Leeds. Also, I'm trying to look after myself a bit more this year, and beauty salons are great places for pampering - so I thought I'd go along and have a nosy.

Beauty Matters has been in Garforth for over 15 years already, but has moved to a new place on the left hand side of the high street (if you're coming from the train station or Leeds). Sorry for the slightly rubbish photo, it was very dark outside! There's some free on street parking just outside, or you can use the larger car park just over the road which is for the whole high street, so can get a bit busy at times - but at least it's free.

Now, onto the inside of the salon. It's been decorated beautifully, it feels like going into a swish hotel; you feel at home, just in a better, nicer looking home. I didn't manage to get a good picture of the reception/nail area as you walk into the salon as it was too full of people all night, but there are large comfortable looking grey chairs to sit and wait on, and a wall full of nail polish which made me very, very jealous. 

There are 8 different treatment rooms, again all decorated beautifully, and the one pictured above is big enough for 2 people to have a treatment simultaneously. I'm still working on Rich to come for a couples massage with me, hopefully he'll say yes soon!

Even the waxing rooms look lovely, I almost felt like I could've been in a spa hotel abroad, except for the cold outside and Northern accents everywhere!

There are all of the usual treatments on offer which you'd expect at a "regular" salon, such as waxing, massages, nails etc. but there are some new, more unusual treatments available too. As we wandered the salon, having a little nosy at what was in all of the rooms we spotted a lady with a tube on her stomach which was attached to an unusual looking machine. Turns out that this is the 3D liposuction which is on offer at Beauty Matters. As a scientist I am a bit sceptical about how it works, but from reading the press pack, it says that it delivers RF frequency energy to the fat cells under the skin which makes them die and are removed by the body over a few months. I'm intrigued to know if anyone's tried this, and if they have, how are the results?

Another unusual treatment on offer is colonic hydrotherapy. Yep, you can now get a colonic in Garforth. If you don't know what one is, they basically put a tube up your bottom and squirt water into it, clearing you out thoroughly. It's meant to remove all of your built up toxins and make you feel a lot better and more energised. A bit gross, but could really help if you're trying to do a bit of a detox - I bet they'll be really popular after Christmas.

As a part of the goody bag I was given a £10 off voucher when I spent over £40 so once pay day hits I'll be going back to try out some of the treatments for myself, so will report back then on how the salon does from a customer perspective.

Rachel xx

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Yorkshire Meatball Co. Harrogate

Whilst in Harrogate the other weekend buying wedding rings and eating afternoon tea I took the opportunity to try out The Yorkshire Meatball Company which I had seen on Amy Liz's blog and Harley Wood's blog who are my two reliable Leeds and local area food bloggers. They never disappoint!

We headed to the restaurant quite early, which was good because they only just managed to squeeze us in as they were nearly fully booked that evening. It has a very rustic atmosphere, with very friendly wait staff. There were a mixture of families, couples and older people dining, which shows that it has mass appeal. To be honest, who doesn't like meatballs!

I ordered the fish balls which consisted of haddock, chorizo and parsley. They were on the classic lemon blanket (crème fraiche with lemon and sage) which complemented the fishy balls perfectly, being delicate enough not to overpower the fish, but still being flavourful itself. If I'm honest I didn't really taste any chorizo in my balls, they kind of tasted just like fishcakes, but in balls rather than discs, but I wasn't complaining as they were still delicious. 

The side I went for was the wilted greens, which tasted great, just didn't photograph so well. So I took a picture of Rich's roast vegetable side instead. All of the combos come with the option of a free Yorkshire pudding, which we both said yes to - of course - and look at the size of it. A whopper of a pudding! It was a little dry on its own, and a bit unwieldy to cut, but by the time it was combined with the meatballs and the sauces, it was yummy. Whoever says no to a free Yorkshire pudding needs their head looking at in my opinion! 

To share as a side we opted for the onion rings, served with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream. Unsual dipping sauces but they really worked. The waitress told us that these were the best onion rings ever, but as Rich and I have been on an onion ring rating mission since we started seeing each other, I have to disagree with her. The batter was just far far too hard. Rich thinks that this could be because they were gluten free, but even so, nearly breaking a tooth on one just wasn't worth it! 

A bit of a mixed review of the Yorkshire Meatball Co. but to answer the important question of would I go back? Yes I would, but I would probably order some different things next time. It's a cool place with a lot of potential, I do just think I probably didn't order the right things!

Rachel x

Friday, 13 March 2015

Afternoon tea at Sugar Therapy, Harrogate

A couple of Saturdays ago, Rich and I headed into Harrogate for the day to go wedding ring shopping. Rich bought my engagement ring from a jewellers there, and I had never been, so we decided to go be tourists for the day and hopefully tick another thing off the eternal wedding to do list.

As I was getting ready upstairs and Rich downstairs, I received a WhatsApp from him. Thoroughly confused, I opened it to see the magical words "Afternoon Tea?". Yep, I did my happy dance. He had been on TripAdvisor and had found Sugar Therapy who came very highly recommended.

We headed into Harrogate and went straight to Sugar Therapy. It was a tiny bit out of the town centre, but still perfectly walkable, and near to the train station. When we entered it looked a bit unassuming, but the display celebration cakes in the window were impressive so my belly did begin to rumble in anticipation. We were escorted upstairs to the "Afternoon Tea Suite" which was a lovely airy room, brightly decorated and with artwork for sale on the walls and on a couple of easels positioned around the room. It was relatively quiet, considering it was a Saturday afternoon, but this was a good thing as I felt we could really relax and take our time.

Charlotte, the owner (who was the chef behind Gu desserts apparently!) came up to talk us through the tea choices. You could clearly tell that she had put a lot of effort into creating the blends of tea, mentioning that she had tweaked a couple of them so the taste competed less with the specific type of chocolate she uses, and made others more complimentary with her baking. After spending some time sniffing the little jars of tea, particularly the super berry which smelled amazing, Rich and I decided to go for our usual coffees. Never have I wished I liked tea as much as I did when I was there! 

Our coffees arrived, and we were offered some water for the table, which arrived in an amazing pink decanter, very chilled, and completely free. It always makes me happy when places offer this alongside their other drinks, especially when you get a lot of water so you can keep topping your own glasses up. 

The afternoon tea arrived on a simple two tier cake stand, with some muffins and cream cheese on separate dishes. This is not an afternoon tea for those who like their sandwiches, as there wasn't one in sight, but the savoury part of the tea were these amazing cheese and red onion muffins, served warm from the oven. Charlotte talked us through the full cake stand, and again her passion really shone, I found myself getting very excited along with her! 

I had never tried a savoury muffin before, as I can be a bit funny about mixing sweet and savoury, but these were amazing, especially with copious amounts of cream cheese spread on them. They were a bit crumbly, and didn't come out of their cases very easily, so a lot was left behind, but overall they were really delicious. In fact, they were Rich's favourite part of the afternoon tea (and not because he doesn't like sweet things, because believe me he does!)

Once we had munched our way through the muffins, it was time to start on the sweets. I didn't like that we were only given one serving plate each for the whole tea, as it meant that I had some savoury crumbs on my plate which would have been mixed with the sweet things (told you I was funny about mixing sweet and savoury!) however we were on a table laid for 3, so I may have swiped the empty spots plate for digging into the sweet things.

I'm not going to list every single thing on the stand, as there were quite a few, but I will mention that the brownie was incredible, no nuts, gooey and decadent, but not sickly in the slightest. Also, the moussy thing in the little globe balls was incredible. It was easily my favourite part of the afternoon tea, as it was sharp, sweet, had a blob of a citrus curd on the top and some gold leaf. As Charlotte said, "It's bling for your belly."

The choux pastry thing in the front of the picture was my only let down of the whole tea, but that's probably due to the rhubarb in it, which I am just not a fan of. The oreo cream concoction on the left was another stand out treat, the biscuit on the bottom was gooey and almost a cross between a brownie and a biscuit, and the cream was decadent and meltingly good. You can really tell that Charlotte is an exceptional patisserie chef, this was not your run of the mill afternoon tea at all. 

By the time we had munched our way through the whole thing, we were suitably full, so for £15 each (which included our coffee instead of tea) I think it was brilliant value for money. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending this afternoon tea to anyone. In fact, if I heard that anyone I know was heading to Harrogate I would immediately tell them that they have to try out the Sugar Therapy afternoon tea, and probably go on about it so much that they'd just go to shut me up. I can't wait to go back and try it again at some point, and I'm still dreaming about half of the treats I tried. Amazing.

Rachel x

Sunday, 8 March 2015


I know this is kind of late for a February round up post, but life has been kind of busy for a while, so unfortunately blogging had to take a back seat again. It has begun to calm down again, and I have this next week off from work so am planning on getting back on it from now on! This is going to be a bit of a word dump post, and is very wedding related, so if you just want a summary skip to the end - I won't judge!

A huge chunk of February was taken up with wedding dress shopping. Eek! As it is now only about 9 months to go until I get married, I figured it was about time to begin the hunt for the most important dress of my life. My little sister, aka best friend and my bridesmaid, moved to London in January, so I dragged her back up to our home town and went shopping with her and my Mum. The first shop was a huge one called Aisle of Brides, and they had rails and rails of every type of wedding dress you can imagine. My Mum and sister had great fun flicking through the rails and tagging all of the dresses they thought I'd like, and I spent a long time trying them all on, one after another. It was very obvious from early on what styles suited me, and when I tried on my favourite with a veil and tiara it did get very teary - completely unlike us as we aren't an emotional family at all!
We had another appointment that weekend, and then my Mum and I did a big dress shopping weekend in Leeds the weekend after. I must have tried on over 50 dresses easily, but so few were actually what I was after, it did make it a lot easier for me to make decisions. The teary dress from the first shop was the one I kept thinking about, so I took a day off work and went back with my Mum and Nanna this time to have another try on to see if it was as beautiful as I remembered. It was, so I spent a very long time prancing around the shop wearing it and then I bought it!! So exciting.

Whilst I was at home for wedding dress shopping I went to my Aunty's house a couple of times as well to sort out the invitations. My Aunty Ange is the most creative and talented card maker I know, and from the very beginning I knew I wanted her to make my invitations for me! As I write this she has just finished printing and assembling them all, I was very excited to see the picture of them all looking so perfect and ready to be sent out.

Other wedding related things that have been happening are making lots of decisions on venue decorations, flowers and cake flavours. I'm also on the hunt for a hair and makeup person, but it's so hard to just pick a person off the internet as you have no idea whether they're actually good or not. If anyone has any recommendations of people - even if they're just starting out - for the Telford/Shrewsbury area please do let me know!

Aside from all of the wedding planning and shopping that's been going on, Rich also came home in February. It was a week later than originally expected, but I am so glad to have him back in one piece with me again. We have slipped straight back into our usual rhythm of things, and life is back to its usual self. Having this week off together will really help out as we are always best when we spend a lot of time together.

tl;dr? I've done a lot of wedding stuff and Rich is home. Basically.

I'll be back in a couple of days with some very foodie posts, I've spent this weekend eating my way around Yorkshire, and have a lot of pictures to share with you!

Rachel x
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