30 May 2016

Blogging Nostalgia

Hello Bank Holiday! An ideal Bank Holly post is a bit of a reminisce...

I've been getting massively into my blogging beginnings recently. A new blog design is on it's way - so excited for this to launch, it's long overdue! - which has me going through hundreds of old posts and taking down some of the really cringe ones...

Alongside this, I also spotted Tor's post on why she started blogging, we both started around the same time and a lot of her blogging memories and favourites are exactly the same as mine.

Some of my old favourites have been reinvented, like Lollipop26 growing into Buy Now, Blog Later or others that I've followed from the beginning now leading an entirely different life, like Elle from AllThatGlitters. It's nice to still have a load of other people that I can share the blogging nostalgia with, as well as adding newbies to my blog roll.

The quality in your content is paramount now, which definitely wasn't the case in 2009 - I've been here for a while! I both love and hate this but looking back at my terrible lighting, really basic iPhone photography and teeny tiny crops had me pining for them good ol' days.

Then and now is different on so many levels but I've loved developing my own blog while watching everyone else's change and emerge along the way. Paging through the hundreds of posts on here has me excited for a blog face lift and a reignite of what I love about the blogging community.

PLUS I have seen the light and realised just how little beauty time is given on this blog now. When I started it was rare there was anything other than a new favourite product or an 'EOTD' (that would be be Eye of the Day for any n00bs) post, now it's rare for a beauty post to even make it live. I may not have the same hours of spare time to concoct new looks, but beauty is still what I get most excited about, so let's bring that back, shall we?

The main difference between then and now is the sheer scale of competition. When I started there was obviously a ton of others doing the exact same thing, but there wasn't as much of a sense of hierarchy that there seems to be now, we all seemed to play on the same level ish, such a welcoming element.

Saying that, seven years on I still love the time spent with my blog - whether through events or actually putting time into a beneficial hobby (I was always that person who 'didn't have any hobbies') that I enjoy. I can't wait to see what the next development is in the blogging world, but I'll be here to see it through. Posting daily or just a few times a month, I've carved out my own little sequence and I'm pretty dang happy with it!

Onwards and upwards, starting with that face lift for North of London.

27 May 2016

The New Conservatory | Leeds

Hidden beneath the Leeds streets is another little nook of a bar come restaurant that's become somewhat of a heritage. It's one of those places that nobody seems to talk bout, yet everyone has tried. It's where you go 'for a couple' and the drinks progress to nibbles which progresses to a meal.

It's time for their new menu launch, which I went beneath the streets to try. A packed night of new and old faces to the New Con with a dreamy playlist from the live music that filled the room.

Instead of giving us a difficult decision of choice, we instead had tasters of all the new things on offer. A bite size version of the entire new menu.

At a glance; pork belly, crab cakes and halloumi to start. The pork was my favourite, although not the melt-in-the-mouth texture that normally comes with a belly serve, it was more comparable to gammon, which worked brilliantly with the bed of pea puree.

For main, a meaty taster of their steak skewer, rack of lamb, cod and a red pepper risotto. I have to share to take a pass on the risotto. There wasn't the creaminess that I love about the dish and it was an overpoweringly tomato taste with a really dry texture that didn't work for me. The steak skewer on the other hand, a must try - and much more of show piece if you're there for the full experience and the perfect mini sharer.

The desserts lined up in a perfect row; cheesecake, chocolate & amaretto mousse and a mini caramel sundae. The best thing about them all, they were all light and not too rich, perfect to finish off a three course experience. The chocolate mousse I could have eaten a bowl of, although it was much more liquidy than I expected.

The atmosphere was brilliant and I love the library surroundings while we ate, such a cute little restaurant nook! If you want to try it, the New Conservatory is often on the Pink Gorilla discounts (along with loads of other foodie places), ideal way to dip your toes in. Let me know what you think!

25 May 2016

Cocktails at The Botanist

The frequency of cocktail nights in my life seems to be amping up these days and I'm definitely not complaining. The latest was a crash course in the new menu from The Botanist, available around the country now, but for one night only, created at the hand of Leeds bloggers.

We had an intensive lesson on just how the cocktail tenders on all the bars work. The new summer menu is created with speed in mind. Botanist bars around the country train their bar tenders to free-pour, no measuring required, meaning quick service with multi-tasking tenders.

With the new menu comes new ingredients to the bars as they step away from purees and instead opt for fresh ingredients to pay homage to The Botanist title.

A photo posted by Phoebe (@phibster_) on

We were supervised in creating one of their new offerings, the Thai Basil and Plum Mojito, using The Botanist free-pour. Seriously tasty, plus I managed to bring a little personality to my own creation...

Smiling cocktail!

In order to really test our hosts for the evening, we put them through their paces with a blind mixing session. To add extra difficulty, the two teams of the night were presented with a table of ingredients, not all needed, and a riddled recipe. 

With no bias, I 100% agree with the judges that ours was the winning recipe. Not too dissimilar to what was actually required, just the lengthener missing. Let's just say we like the cocktails strong.

With patio heaters in place, me and the other half finished the night on the terrace - bellini for me, one of the many ales from The Botanist for him. 

Another Leeds drinking gem, with cocktail masterclasses available to give you the tricks of the trade. More of a beer drinker? Have a look at The History of Ale night to add some history into your drinking. 

23 May 2016

The Yorkshire Blowdry

Yorkshire Blow Dry has come to Leeds Central Arcade, ready to add some beauty and bounce to Yorkshire's hair.

I'm familiar with the concept of a blow dry bar, but walking into the Leeds first was still a brand new experience for me. In hindsight, it's a wonder more blow dry bars haven't popped up before. It's a truth acknowledged by most that you won't recreate the perfect hairdresser's style at home, so why leave it to just a cut and colour to benefit from it?

Greeted with prosecco (the bonus points are already adding up), we had a quick consultation to get a general feel for my hair type and what it was I was after. Bonus points added up when I had the easiest conversation about my sulphate allergy. No disgruntled looks from my stylist plus they already use entirely sulphate free products in the hair wash, so I got to have the full experience.

I opted for the beachy waves style (there's four core options, or you can of course suggest your own), perfect for the summer's day that waited outside the glass fronted store. A quick wash at the sink - including a seriously relaxing head massage - and the hair transformation could begin.

Products were run through my locks and rough dried before carefully adding volume just before my hair was completely dry. With my really fine hair, we agreed on using a straightener to create the waves to give them a chance to last. The trick of the trade? Spray hair before you curl to add extra staying power.

I loved  the finished look, completed with a strong layer of hairspray without leaving it crispy or taking away the natural movement. My favourite part of the look was actually how soft and shiny it left my hair - for two days! The amount of product piled on in the salon usually leads to greasy hair the following day, but it was avoided this time somehow, aside from a quick dry shampoo spritz on day two.

I left with that swishy feeling that you aspire to when leaving the salon. It felt like such a VIP experience, leaving me wanting to try the other styles - particularly the really volumised ones, just give me a special occasion and I'll be back in no time!

Highly, highly recommended treatment... Can one of the stylists come live with me please?