Lifestyle

Lifestyle news and stories.

Suzanne HarissaNow when it comes to lovely dining, Sandyford in Newcastle might not spring to mind but our recent trip to ‘Harissa Mediterranean Kitchen’ has definitely opened our eyes. In fact we were a little reticent to share this gem of an establishment but since the blooming ‘Secret Diner has outed it as, “being so good he visited it twice” I only think it’s fair to give our view too.

This place most definitely has curb appeal and we were greeted by the owner (James/Jamie – depending on what day of the week it is) and we instantly felt as if we were at home, quite strangely as if we were going to a friends for dinner. Jamie was so friendly we were sure we’d already met him but couldn’t place where!

With a glass of ice cold water in hand, I started to talk to Jamie whilst Nicola took photos aplenty. My first question was; “What is Harissa” as I had visions of bottles of Harissa sauce in my head as my partner is a lover of all things spicy!  I on the other hand am a bit of a wuss, so Jamie talked through the menu and helped to select flavours that married well but weren’t overly spicy on the taste buds.

flowersThe decor is clean and crisp with such fab attention to detail. Jamie let us into a secret about the copper piping on the ceiling housing the Edison lamps (we’re not going to reveal his secrets though!).

Once all in-situ we were introduced to the restaurant and the concept of Harissa Mediterranean Kitchen or Harrisa for short.  Jamie explained the history of sister company Food Nation (at which point Nicola and I turned to each other and remembered Simon Preston who we’d worked with when promoting The Great North Eco-Feast way back in 2009 and is a director of Food Nation). You can read more about it here to stop me going off in on a whole other tangent!

Now back to the food. I was starving. I’d done a round trip to Leeds and back that day and Nicola had had a mega busy day and still had some prep for her LinkedIn training she was delivering the next day. Two tired, hungry ladies meant ‘eyes bigger then belly’ food consumption!

We started with a melody of nibbles in the form of spiced roasted nuts (hint go for the ones with less dusting for less spice), Honey, Cumin, Coriander & Smoked Paprika Marinated Olives (they warned us they weren’t pitted so all was good) Lemon, Chilli & Fresh Herbs Harissa House Pickles (punchy and well balanced).

Alongside this we ordered some marinated and char grilled Halloumi and some hummus – great flavours but I don’t think I will ever get used to the squeak of that particular cheese.

Fresh and lovely food Harissa

Next, mains. Be careful not to over order; at one point we had everything on our table as we hadn’t yet finished the starters.

We both opted for slow roasted shoulder of spiced pork with apple, grilled spring onion and crackling – they got me at crackling as it’s one of my all time favorites. It was tasty, but there was something missing and Nicola hit it on the head; honey. The very savoury taste needed to be lifted just a little with something sweet.

Et voila, a squirty honey pot was given to us and it really lifted the meal. Thankfully, the team didn’t think we were cheeky in-fact quite the opposite; the chef is going to make this part of the dish.

Mains HarissaDesert. We weren’t going to indulge but couldn’t resist and went for the honey, tahini & pistachio parfait and sesame praline orange and saffron polenta cake. Both were super scrummy but we couldn’t help coveting Laura’s and Kayleigh’s chocolate torte it was a ‘special’ and not on the menu. As we had already ordered it was a tad too late to change so we’ll go for that next time.

honey tahini and pistachio parfait

Overall:

There was a nice blogging buzz in the restaurant and it would be amusing being a fly on the wall watching us all trying to get ‘that perfect angle’! What was even nicer though, was people who saw us eating started to walk in and sit down and were greeted with open arms and the waitress (I’m so sorry we didn’t take your name) looked genuinely chuffed to be helping, ‘real customers’.

Hats off to food, your mission and your fabulous customer service, we’ll thoroughly recommend Harrisa.

Love Suz and Nic. x

 

War Paint Makeup bag from Smudge by JillyWhen Jill sent this parcel to our office, I got to thinking about our first meeting and just how different things are now.

It was a couple of years ago, I was delivering digital training across Yorkshire and she was working on the same programme. We connected immediately, two northern chatty lasses having a right banter!

Time rolls forward and she’s been a busy lady designing websites for businesses but also following her passion to launch her own cosmetics and skincare range.

Which is no mean feat.

I was genuinely over the moon to receive the parcel, all beautifully wrapped in brand colour tissue and tied with raffia string. I felt really proud of this gutsy lass.

Hidden within the parcel was a 100ml tube of Natural Tea Tree and Lemon Face Wash, £12 and a fab makeup bag emblazoned with War Paint (true enough most days!) which retails at £10.

The face wash is lush. A really subtle mix of tea tree and lemon, the lemon fragrance wins out for me, handy as I love fruity fragrances. My face felt really clean after using it and it’s especially good for oily skin (mine isn’t so I’d probably use the product every other day).

Jilly is developing a full range of skincare products and hand poured soy candles which are cruelty free, only tested on humans, organic and the ingredients are sourced in the UK.  Next on my list to try; the scrumptious looking lip balm and glosses.

If you’re keen to support small, local businesses, then jump over to Jilly’s website and take a look around.

 

When I was chatting with one of my friends about weaning she looked at me in horror! I genuinely thought it was ‘normal’ to let babies play with their food. It’s a little like burping isn’t it? You say good boy after each and every burp and celebrate the release of wind but at some point the line blurs and this gesture is no longer acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong when weaning first started I wanted full control of the spoon but when I saw the sheer glee and delight on my little boys face when he delved into his Babymoov bowl and squidged and squeezed the contents and then devoured the contents of his palm (I had only turned my back for a nanosecond). From that point he refused the spoon from me unless I relinquished at least fifty percent of the power.

I loved reading the blog by Babymoov’s chosen nutritionist Julia Wolman who recently answered my queries in my post entitled, Stressless Weaning: The Answers To My Questions  Here’s a little extract of, ‘Mess is Best: Why babies should play with their food!’

This is my son Leo at 8 months. Whilst weaning, my obsessive-compulsive tendencies made me mindful of the clean-up process that lay ahead, on the other hand, the nutritionist in me knew how important it was not to stress about the mess.

All too often I witness babies reaching out to touch a spoon or bowl of food to see and feel what’s in it, whilst the parent ever so quickly retracts it out of their reach. I understand, I have a fear of mess too, and I know it really is so much easier to just steer little hands clear of anything semi-solid. However, when it comes to weaning mess really is best.

Here are five good reasons why it is important for babies to explore (or squish, prod, smear!) their food at mealtimes:

1. It’s fun

2. Learning through sensory play

3. Increasing familiarity

4. Fine motor skills development

5. Hand-eye coordination

Whether using spoons or self-feeding, when babies do it themselves they are learning how to get food into their mouths. And while most of it may go anywhere but their mouth at the beginning, with practice they’ll quickly work it out!

#Messisbest but I must admit that I currently have help from MessyMe to keep it somewhat contained and Bibetta to keep the little fella clothes as clean as possible – read about our experience of these two brands very soon.

 

5 months after the treatment from Newcastle Foot ClinicMy feet are pretty much neglected for three quarters of the year, with the exception of summer sandal time and Christmas party frivolities, they’re housed in shoes or boots and barely see the light of day.

But for the last 3 or 4 years I’ve had a fungal nail infection that I could not get rid of. I know exactly when I got it. I’d bought a fabulous pair of Italian leather shoes from a charity shop, brand new and they were too small and nipped my big toenails. I only wore them twice.

I’ve bought all of the over-the-counter lotions and treatments (TOTAL waste of time and money) and nothing shifted it and in fact, all the picking and messing about made it worse.

State of my toenails with the fungal infection FEb 2016In February this year, I’d finally had enough. I was properly was fed up. Sophie’s wedding was in July and I wanted to have the option of wearing sandals. And varnishing over bad toes nails just wouldn’t cut it anymore. I wanted my feet back to normal.

A quick google search later and I was at the Newcastle Foot Clinic.

I was treated by Craig Burton, the owner of the Newcastle Foot Clinic. Patient, knowledgeable and lovely, he was insistent that he could treat my nails and there was a great chance that I’d not have to have the nails removed. He was also insistent that my story of foot neglect was not unique.

It was worth a go. It wasn’t until this point that I realised that I’d neglected a part of my own body for years; left it with a fungus infection no less! As I lay in the chair having my treatment, I really did wonder why I’d do that to myself.

The treatment that I undertook is called Clearanail  in which 50 tiny holes are drilled into each of your nails so when you spray them with the fungal nail treatment, it actually gets to the source of the infection.  It’s called Controlled Micro Penetration (CMP) and the drill is set to a specific depth meaning it never damages the nail bed.

Receiving the treatment at the Newcastle Foot Clinic

It doesn’t hurt at all. It was a bit of a weird sensation but it’s all done in less than an hour.

I was advised against painting my nails until the nail had actually grown out, which makes sense as you’d be defeating the purpose of the holes otherwise. I became a little obsessed checking the little holes in my nails (fascinating and odd), spraying my feet consistently every day. It was great when I spotted the holes moving and healthier nail following!

I had my treatment in back in late February ’16 and in 4 months I’ve got my nails back. They’re not perfect yet but they’re a million times better and I can see the new, uninfected nail growing nicely where my cuticles are.

I asked Craig’s permission to wear nail varnish to Sophie’s wedding; he said yes and that we’d check to see if I needed another course of CMP in the Autumn.

Looking down at my feet, I am so happy that they look normal again! I didn’t realise the impact that not getting them sorted was having. My feet were ugly to me for years, and now they look like my feet again!

I can’t recommend the staff at the Newcastle Foot Clinic enough. They’re really lovely and passionate about feet and general health. (I ended up getting orthotics for my shoes and my knee pain has completely vanished but that’s another blog post).

I’m off to paint my nails. If you want to find out more about the Newcastle Foot Clinic pop over and give them a Like on Facebook x

One of us has a shoe obsession (Nicola) and one of us has a packing obsession (Suzanne). Sargasso & Grey have just become our new favourite brand.

After an awful lot of ‘ooooh look’ we untied the ribbon on the beautiful, sturdy grey box and found our shoes packaged in their own dust jacket, a sure sign that the contents is worth protecting!

sargasso Nic wearing

Why are they different?

Sargasso & Grey’s shoes are designed by women for women. Ladies, we know how painful shoes can be. The blisters, the squished toes and the pains in our joints. Still, time and again, we’ll buy shoes because we just love how they look, how they make us feel and give little consideration to the long term effect they’ll have on our feet and bodies.

The Sargasso & Grey designers are determined to change this. They design for comfort as well as style.

They say…

Create beautiful and stylish shoes which offer a bit more width at the front, giving your toes more wriggle room and your feet space to breathe. We believe that shoes should be comfortable, fit properly and be beautiful. The smallest details such as padded insoles, extra width, slightly wider heel base on stilettos can make the world of difference.

Why we love them…

Undoubtedly the shoes are lovely. Pretty and stylish.  You don’t just have to have wider feet to wear this brand.

The Ready To Wear collection (made in Spain) comes in a range of wide fit styles for just about any occasion. The Sargasso range is Handmade in England and come in EE width and half sizes between 36 -43.

No more squeezing your fit into shoes just a little too small and waiting for them to stretch or slightly too large so they slop off.

The nude court shoes that Nic is wearing in the photo above are cut higher up her feet than regular court shoes. No toe cleavage. The heel isn’t too high for discomfort, but high enough to be smart and raise confidence.

From the Ready To Wear range, there are a beautiful grey, pink and navy suede version on the website retailing at £125.

 sargasso suz feet

The wide fit sandal (from the Ready To Wear S/S 2016 collection) in navy suede that Suzanne is wearing above, is a lovely contemporary summer sandal that would compliment just about any outfit. They worked really well with trousers, but would be lovely with white jeans or any of the floral maxi dresses or jump suits that are everywhere.

And the heel means you won’t get calf ache. Find out more on their website and remember if you sign up for their newsletter you’ll receive 10 percent off your first order!

Suzanne’s off to get a pedicure, what colour would go best with these navy suede sandals?