Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Some of My Favourite Instagram Accounts

The one thing that I struggle with on Instagram is the number of people I follow and I wish that I could create lists like I do in Twitter. I feel like I miss so many posts, and I have to specifically search users to catch up on their feeds. Anyway, I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite Instagram accounts so that you can check them out too. They inspire me to take better photos and fuel my shopping habits!


What Instagram accounts are your favourites?

Monday, 27 July 2015

Review - Chop Chop, Glasgow

Rick & I headed out to try the new Chop Chop restaurant in Glasgow's city centre a few weeks ago. The restaurant is on Mitchell Street and thankfully isn't far to walk from Central Station as I had high heels on for a change! We were celebrating being together for two whole years (hasn't it flown!) and so I had dressed up especially in my sequin skirt, to be greeted by Rick who had come straight from work in his jeans and T-shirt as it was dress down Friday. Ever so slightly mismatched, we were greeted at the restaurant and shown to our table. I had hoped to be seated under the fantastic (fake) blossom trees, but we were offered a window seat instead. Next time I'll ask for the tables in the middle!

We ordered a range of dishes from the extensive menu rather than going for the unlimited banquet (£20.95 per person). I did note that children under 5 can eat from the unlimited banquet menu for free, so perhaps on our next visit we'll take the kids so they can try too.  

The dishes come to the table as they are made, in random order. We had ordered a few 'small' plates - although they were far from small!! 

"In China, diners order collectively and share all dishes."

As it was our first visit, the waitress made us up some dipping sauce for the dumplings we ordered of soy sauce and vinegar to which we added garlic and chilli to suit our taste. The service was spot-on; just enough attention to make us feel special. I've been at some Chinese restaurants before when the waiting staff walked by your table every 2 seconds which was just too much!

The fried pork & Chinese leaves dumplings (£4.85) were delightful, dipped in my mix of soy, vinegar and garlic - using my chopstsicks I might add! After our dumplings the remainder of our dishes arrived. The food was amazing, and there was so much of it! We thoroughly enjoyed each and every dish.

I had aubergines with garlic (£5.65), chicken with peanuts (£5.55) and beef with red peppers (£5.95). Each dish was flavoursome (I had steered clear from the spicy ones) and there was a variety of textures which made for an interesting meal... the soft cooked aubergine, the melt in the mouth beef (my favourite) and the crunchy peanuts through the chicken. 

I of course had to try the desserts too. I had the ice cream dumpling (oh my word!! I could have easily eaten more than one, it was soooo good) and a small plate of sugar string apples that you dip in iced water before eating to crystallise the sugar coating. It was bizarre biting through the crisp sugar to be met with a warm cooked apple, but they were really tasty.

"Chop Chop" is a phrase that reminds me of my mum... my sister and I would hear her exclaiming these two words as she tried to get us to hurry up and get a move on. It's thought that the English word "chopstick" originates from this phrase, basically meaning "quickly". When I'm using chopsticks though I'm far from quick! 

You might think from the name that the restaurant is a fast food diner. The restaurant is very brightly lit and the paper placemats and plastic plates perhaps might make you think chain/fast food restaurant, however the tables and chairs are stylish and the blossom trees, to me, are beautiful and unique. So it's a bit of a mixed bag in terms of the interior decor. There were a couple of larger groups at the restaurant during our visit, and it's definitely the place that would be well suited to groups of friends rather than couples looking for an intimate meal.

The food, however, is far from what you would expect in terms of fast food quality. Every dish was freshly prepared and they all were fantastic. There's no artificial colourings or preservatives used, and I didn't have a food hangover! 

We'll definitely be back.

We received a complimentary meal in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are my own.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Review - Dora and Friends Sing-Along Summer

Dora is growing up and still going on magical adventures with her friends Alana, Emma, Kate, Naiya and Pablo.

This Summer Nick Jr. are touring the UK with special karaoke booths giving little ones the opportunity to create videos of themselves singing along to the Dora and Friends: Into the City! theme tune (I've listed the full tour dates at the bottom of this post). Karaoke booth videos can be entered into a competition where winning videos will feature on Nick Jr. giving your little ones a chance to star on TV!

My two are super keen to go and visit Dora and do some singing when the booth lands in Glasgow next month. If you can't make it along, don't fret... every day from 10am to 1pm you can watch your favourite Nick Jr. shows with on-screen lyrics so you can sing along too. You can also enter your own home video into the competition at nickjr.co.uk or on the Nick Jr. Facebook page.

We were sent a box of Dora and Friends: Into the City! goodies for the kids to try; this is a brand new toy range from Fisher-Price. The toys feature in the room tour I did of the littlest's bedroom which you will find on YouTube here.

Opening the goodies - thank you Nick Jr.

Littlest's bedroom

We've already been having great fun with Dora and Alana (£10.99 each)... so much so that we've misplaced one of their tops! Oops!! These dolls are great and are my favourite items from the toys were were sent, however the only thing I don't like about them is the shoes as they keep falling off! Despite the shoes, the dolls are robust and have already been in and out of the bath with the kids,  been played with in and outside the house and are already a firm favourite.

Each 8" doll comes with a charm that can be attached to the bracelets which I think is a lovely concept...

The magic charm bracelet (£9.99, far left) features each of the Dora and Friends characters. The bracelet comes in a pack with two additional bracelets so you can share with your friends and customise the bracelets with the assortment of charms provided. This is a lovely concept and the littlest gave me one to wear to work! Some of the charms seem a little bulky for the bracelet, but the littlest has really enjoyed playing with these alongside the dolls. They're a great size for her to pop in her pocket for when we go on our own adventures.

Hola, Dora!

The Dora Smartphone (£9.99) looks just like Dora's phone from the show and you can pretend to take photos, take calls and listen to phrases and songs. I think my kids were wanting more from the phone... however it's ideal for toddlers as there is just the one button to push. 

There is going to be a Twitter Frenzy tomorrow (Monday 27th July) at 11am to Midday using the hashtag #DoraSingAlong where you will have the chance to win some great prizes!

Here are the full tour dates:

  • Waterfields Retail Park, Watford (Dora Costume Character) – 27th July
  • Westwood Cross Shopping Park, Thanet – 28th July
  • St. David’s Retail Park, Swansea – 29th July
  • Crown Retail Park, Leeds (Dora Costume Character) – 31st July
  • Clifton Moor Retail Park, York (Dora Costume Character) – 3rd August
  • Ravenhead Retail Park, St. Helens – 5th August
  • Halls Mill Retail Park, Bury – 6th August
  • Middle Engine Lane, Wallsend – 10th August
  • Glasgow Fort Shopping Park, Glasgow (Dora Costume Character) – 12th August
  • Boulevard Retail Park, Aberdeen (Dora Costume Character) – 14th August
Sky Retail Stands:
  • Brent Cross, London – 18th-19th July
  • The Centre MK, Milton Keynes – 25th – 26th July
  • White Rose, Leeds – 1st- 2nd August
  • Intu Eldon Square, Newcastle – 8th – 9th August
  • Bon Accord, Aberdeen – 15th – 16th August
We were sent a selection of Dora and Friends toys to try. As always, opinions are honest and are my own.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Home & Interiors - a Room Tour of my Daughter's Bedroom

For once my daughter's bedroom is clean and tidy, so I thought this was an ideal opportunity to do a quick room tour. For those of you that aren't regular readers, my littlest is 4 years old (going on 14!).


Let me know what you think!

If you're interested, her bedroom at the old house was featured in this blog post from my archives.

Sarah x

Monday, 20 July 2015

Hair - Time for a Change

I used to change my hairstyle frequently as I was growing up... you'll see them all here in this post from my archives. I had short hair then long hair, fringe then no fringe, short, spiky hair then long, smooth hair... and I've gone through various colours too! However for the past few years I've been growing my hair and haven't had more than a trim. I've also managed to successfully grow out my fringe (I started in August 2014, so that's been nearly a year!!). I have been feeling a bit 'meh' about my style recently though and it was definitely time for a change... there seemed to be a disconnect from my grown out fringe and the rest of my hair - I was keen to have a cut that brought it all together.

Back I went to Ellen Conlin in Giffnock for a colour and cut.

Settled in my chair ahead of my colour consultation. We decided to stick with the blonde highlights but to add some darker slices through the mid-section to give some depth to the layers.

This is me before!

Colour is on and I'm enjoying a wee glass of fizz (I wasn't driving!)

Time for the cut

Ta da... the finished hairstyle #salonselfie 

Later that evening Rick & I were out to celebrate being together for two years... cheers!

I absolutely love my new style. Here's hoping I can get it to look this good when I style it myself!!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Bedtime Routine & a GIVEAWAY

For a while, my son's bedtime routine at my house involved listening to an audio book after we had read a few stories together. However the Fireman Sam audio book was a bad choice on my part as it got him too excited and I needed something a bit more relaxing than the high action stories of fire fighting in Pontypandy. The concept was genius though as it did encourage him to stay in bed as he focused on the words as they floated round his little bedroom.

Now he's a bit older, instead of a star reward chart we are keeping tally of points on the blackboard in the kitchen. He gets 10 points if he goes to bed on time and a bonus of 5 points if he stays in bed until 7am. There are minus points if he gets up!! He is highly competitive, so this seems to work as he competes against his little sister for the top spot each week. The reward is a treat of some form... I'm yet to decide what this will be, but perhaps it could be a Lego minifigure, or an ice cream (where has the sun gone though!?).

Anyway, step in Vicky Arlidge with her 'Lullabies for Children' CD. The CD is 45 minutes of relaxing lullabies that have captivated both my son and daughter. Unlike some children's CDs, I am able to listen to this also without it annoying me! We read our usual bedtime stories and then I press play on the CD player in our hallway... hey presto, the kids lie and relax and listen to the vocals and I can crack on with the housework (or perhaps put my feet up and chill myself!).

Want to try the CD for yourself? I have three CDs for my lovely followers to win! All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

UK entrants only please
There will be three winners, each receiving one CD
No cash alternative
Competition ends on 2nd August
Good luck!

Thank you to Vicky Arlidge for providing this prize. Her CDs can be bought on Amazon here for £2.99 with free delivery.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Fashion - Leopard Print Shoes

I'm a huge fan of leopard print... I seem to be drawn to all things leopard print when I'm shopping... I just can't help it! 

I used to have a pair of leopard print boots from Boden that I wore to work but they've now seen better days (my old colleagues used to say it was giraffe print anyway!) and my Boden leopard print gladiator sandals are also on the way out so I'm on the hunt for some other additions to my wardrobe!

And how cute would these be for the littlest!!

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