Slider

Giraffe World Kitchen | intu Eldon Square, Newcastle

30/07/2017


Sitting in a prime location of Newcastles City Centre, on the top level of intu Eldon Squares new dining quarter you will find Giraffe World Kitchen. Giraffe World Kitchens motto is "Exploring the world of food is our passion. Our obsession. It gets us up in the morning and into the kitchen, never knowing exactly what we'll come across next." As the name suggests, Giraffe sells itself as something of a global affair. Take a quick glance at its extensive offerings and you’ll find everything from American short ribs to Japanese Katsu and spicy Mexican burritos. It’s rare to find such a celebration of different cultures and flavours all within one menu! Both brilliant for those who are considered fussy eaters or, like me, want to try a little bit of everything.   

First Impressions 

The restaurant’s interior evokes far flung corners of the world with an artwork feature wall inspired by India and Thailand, a chefs table covered with Moroccan pendants, global inspired patterned tiles and furniture upholstered in a range of colourful fabrics and leathers. We were greeted by friendly, happy staff and were shown to our table. Even though there was a heatwave on the day we visited and the waitresses suggestions (due to it being like a sun trap) against my better judgement, for the need to be seated somewhere photogenic I chose one of their corner booths. The overall atmosphere was a more informal vibe, however, for mid-day dining, this is absolutely perfect for our day date after a long afternoon of shopping. We were handed over our menus and offered table water, with well-informed staff willing to help you through your choice. With such a diverse selection of delicious cuisines deciding was really difficult so I took all the advice the staff offered. It was great to be able to try some foods I’d never had before, that world kitchen status is no lie!


What We Ate

To start we couldn't choose just one, so decided to share both the Shredded Chicken Tacos and Salt & Pepper Squid. The shredded chicken was incredibly juicy and flavourful. Just like you would get at an authentic Mexican restaurant. Accompanied with guacamole, sour cream and chipotle, what more could you possibly ask for? I won't lie, I was a little bit disappointed when I realised I could only have the one as Liam had tucked into the other. Needless to say, all was not lost as we still had our Salt & Pepper Squid to enjoy. Already a firm favourite of ours when we dine at Asian restaurants, these small fried balls of squid are simply delicious. Crispy yet tender squid served with a sweet chilli jam and fresh lime for an extra kick of flavour.

After tough deliberation and a gentle nudge from the waiter, for my main I opted for the Spicy Rice Bowl and Liam ordered the Ranch Steak & Eggs. Liam's meal only lasted 0.05 seconds as amongst me taking photos he had managed to almost eat all of his as he was so famished (blogger boyfriend problems) so sadly I can't really explain what his tasted like. However, I assume from the speed it was consumed it must have been pretty tasty. However, I can honestly say the Spicy Rice Bowl is the perfect way to make your mouth sing with joy. Understandably a firm favourite on the menu at Giraffe, the whole bowl is full of good-for-you things; nourishing brown rice with perfectly cooked chicken, sugar snaps, red peppers, crispy onions, chilli and soy sauce and topped with a fried egg. The entire bowl was dressed in a variety of different spices, but so well balanced I just couldn't stop myself from going back for more.

Even though our stomachs were practically bursting at the seams we knew we had to order dessert. The Churros arrived hot and crispy, rolled in sugar and cinnamon, and served with a warm dulce de leche dipping sauce and the Rocky Road Sundae was just what I needed to cool down as the heat had started to get to me. Delicious layers of vanilla and salted caramel ice cream, with chocolate brownie chunks, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and mini marshmallows. Need I say more, they were both the perfect sweet treat to round off our meal.

Final Thoughts

To summarise, if you’re looking for a relaxed dining experience with happy, friendly staff, a great variety of food; with a lean to the healthier side that gives you value for money then I’d totally recommend dining with Giraffe World Kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and I look forward to going back very soon! 




This post is in collaboration with Giraffe World Kitchen, all words are my own.

Those Three Words

08/01/2017


Those three words... Is it cancer? From the moment you find that lump in the shower. The second before you make that call to the doctors. The days that follow before your appointment. To being referred to a specialised unit. Those three words compacted into one question have the ability to change everything. 

The month of December, in the run-up to Christmas started perfectly normal. Stressful, yes. But normal. I had a little bit of last minute shopping to do, a few more gifts to wrap and was working my arse off at work so I could enjoy the festive break. There was nothing I couldn't cope with... Then it happened. I found a breast lump. An innocent check in the shower; which I'll be the first to admit I did not do half as often I should have been doing, turned quite quickly into "WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?!" Apologies for the language. But I think eloquent thinking kind of goes out of the window in situations like these. So there I was, trying to make the decision of whether to ignore it and just hope that it was hormones doing their thing; after all, I am only 23 and still developing (right?!) or admit to myself I knew it was weird and it needed checking. I knew I had to go for the latter.

There is no way to really sugarcoat the whole experience that followed. I haven't cried as much as I had over those two weeks in a really, really long time. I genuinely thought I'd make the appointment with my GP, I'd be seen and be told it was nothing to worry about it and be sent on my way. I mean what do I know about what is normal and what's not when it comes to boobs? For crying out loud, I'm the girl with no boobs. But that didn't happen. He confirmed there was a 2cm stationary lump and it needed to be investigated further. The unit I was being referred to was described as a one-stop clinic; meaning they would go through all stages of what they needed to check there and then and you would receive all your results within a day. And, it was only a two week referral time. Why do some complain about the NHS again?!

So as I stood at the reception desk, with the referral slip in hand waiting to book my appointment, those three words popped up again. This time, I couldn't stop the tears I'd manage to hold together when I was in the GP's office. On my own, overwhelmed with the idea that in less than two weeks time there is a small chance I might be told I have the big C and there's nothing I could do about it. Those who I told offered to come with me, but I refused all offers. To take someone with me would suggest there was something I needed to be supported for and I was sure I would be in and out and it would all be over as quick as it had begun. But of course, those two weeks from the first appointment to your referral begin to take its toll. When you suffer from anxiety, giving you time to overthink is never going to be a good thing. Those three words. When I was in my car on my way to work. Having a laugh with friends. Watching the TV. Before I went to sleep. Those three words just wouldn't leave me alone. When you receive the letter in the post with the date of your appointment the word cancer is sprawled across the pages. I understand it's to prepare you for the worst; because there is a possibility of that being the final result from the checks you receive on the day, but it's still an unbelievably scary prospect to be faced with on paper. I had been holding it together in front of everyone, projecting the attitude of "it is what it is, I'll take it as it comes" and I just couldn't do it anymore. The night before my appointment I had completely unraveled. It was a week before Christmas, I wanted to be happy and looking forward to spending time with loved ones and instead, I was consumed with fear. I didn't want to be strong anymore, I just wanted the problem to kindly fuck off. I would cry and then stop. Then those three words would come back and I would cry again. It was time to let someone come with me. Regardless of the outcome, you need someone for support.

My GP had given me the impression that the first stage they would take would be to attempt to drain the lump; as it may be a cyst, and if it was to disappear immediately then I would be done and could be on my way. So after waiting an hour with posters plastered around the room with the word cancer screaming at you from every angle, to be seen and told I needed to be a radiographer when I returned I was a little overwhelmed and had another breakdown. By this stage, the waiting room was filled with women of all ages; some who evidently had cancer, those coming for further scans after beating cancer and individuals like myself, waiting to find out what the hell was going on. Needless to say, it's a place I never ever want to find myself sitting in again. Even talking about it now is making me feel nauseous. Four hours went by, I had my scan and luckily my lump wasn't anything that needed further investigation and I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, you might be thinking after all of this why would you waste time writing this post? And you're somewhat right. I'll be honest, I didn't really know if I was ever going to find the words to write this post. I mean really, how do you explain to the worldwide web that you had a cancer scare? I know I'm not the first person to go through this process and I certainly won't be the last. But awareness is everything. What if I hadn't been so lucky and had just left it? Then what? When it comes to cancer, your age is just a number. The importance of checking your body regularly is just so important. It can save your life. 

Sleep well with Leesa

20/11/2016


Photography by Sophie Lobban



When you are a self-confessed workaholic, like myself, a good night’s sleep is positively crucial. If I’m running short on rest you will definitely know about it, and not in a good way. When you are out the house twelve hours a day, there is nothing I enjoy more than getting home and welcoming my bed with open arms. My bedroom is my safe place. It is where I feel most relaxed and I can begin to unwind. However recently I found myself waking up several times in the middle of the night, and despite getting my full eight hours of sleep I would still feel tired for the rest of the day.

So when Leesa offered me the opportunity to try out one of their mattresses, I could not accept quick enough. If you haven’t heard of them before, Leesa is a mattress brand that was created with one simple task; to help people sleep better. You place your order online as quick and easy as ordering from your favourite clothes store and the mattress is delivered right to your house. I don’t want to spend hours (that I don't have to begin with) searching for a mattress, testing out different thickness, hardness, softness and everything else in a store. I want to be able to go online and with a click of a button place an order, with the peace of mind I won't be waiting weeks on end for my delivery. And with Leesa I was able to do all of this with ease. Within five minutes of heading to the website, I had selected my mattress, added it to my basket, filled in my shipping details and checked out. With a scheduled arrival date of within the week. It felt as though Christmas would be coming early this year!

What first struck me was how small the box was when the postman arrived with the KING sized mattress I was waiting to be delivered. I had ordered a king size mattress, yet what was delivered was a small box that stood to be around the height of my shoulders. How does that work?! The mattress was completely compressed inside; making it easier to carry and unpack simply and efficiently. For the post, I had every intention of photographing stills showing how easy it was to do, but I have recently pulled a muscle in my shoulder so I had to leave it to Liam's parents to take over and do the unpacking process for me and feedback. Luckily for them it was incredibly easy and took them only a matter of minutes to do. You just unroll it, unwrap it and watch it expand to a real mattress size within hours. What a treat!

After working a twelve hour shift, throwing my body onto the bed and sinking into my Leesa mattress was an incredible experience. I was snugger than a bug in a rug. The mattress is so, so comfortable – super soft, but still firm and supportive. And it’s a shame it has to get covered up with bedding – the mattress itself is gorgeous. Not only is it the most aesthetically pleasing mattress I have ever seen, but also the softest too! I had to call for Liam to come and try it too, which he couldn't believe how comfortable it was either. I guess we both didn't know what to expect as for years now we had just become accustomed to springs digging in to our backs. I think Leesa’s aim has been achieved 100%. The main goal is the customer's comfort and this is exactly what you receive, from start to finish. It's scary how I didn't even recognise that my previous mattress was clearly doing so much damage to my back.

Overall, my experience with the Leesa mattress is 100% positive. Not only was the order process efficient and easy to work through. But the speed, convenient, and compact nature of its packaging and delivery methods had completely won me over. Every purchaser can try and test the mattress with a 100-night risk free trial, safe in the knowledge that they can return it and receive a refund if they aren’t happy with it. Any returned mattress will then be donated to charity. Pretty amazing, right?! If you are interested you can read more about Leesa's story here and about the ethos of the brand. Leesa have been kind enough to offer my readers a £50 discount through this link, so if you're on the hunt for a new mattress; or after reading this post are questioning whether your current choice is the best for you, I'd wholly recommend at least checking out Leesa's site and the mattresses they have on offer.

Happy sleeping!



This post is in collaboration with Leesa, all words are my own.

Suit Up And Look Sharp With SuitsMen

09/11/2016

Wedding season may be drawing to a close, but there will always be an occasion a gentleman will need a suit. Looking great in a suit is no mean menswear feat. With ill-fitting attire, colour combinations and an endless array of ties to contend with, it’s a wonder anyone pulls it off at all. And while a great suit will make you feel (and look) sharp, world-wise, and sophisticated, a bad one will make you look like a hack, a ninny, or a man-child who still gets dressed by his mother. So it helps to know a thing or two about buying, wearing, and caring for the one you choose.

Here are some great tips to go by when you are shopping for your next suit which may help guide you through the process:

- The width of the tie should match the width of the lapel.
- In general, thin lapels are more modern. Wide lapels are more old-school, Mad Men style.
- A pocket square is a great way of adding a level of polish, but make sure it doesn’t match your tie in pattern/fabric choice.
- A collar gap between your jacket’s lapels and your shirt’s collar can signify an ill-fitting jacket.
- Your belt should be fairly thin and the same colour as your shoes.
- Make sure you smartly match your shoes to your suit.
- Double vents in the back are more modern and fashionable.
- For a more casual, trendy look, opt for a single-button peak-lapel jacket.
- You should be able to place your hand between your chest and buttoned jacket such that it feels snug, but with room to move.
- Always unbutton your suit before sitting down, or you risk ruining it.
- Sleeve cuffs should be exposed about half an inch.
- If you sweat a lot, wear an undershirt.

If you need a little more guidance take a visit to SuitsMen and they will be able to to easily navigate the many choices of suits and formal attire from masonic suits and men’s waistcoats to men’s jackets and much more in between. Their suits are handpicked to represent what they feel are the best choices for the modern man, however this still leaves room for a lot of choice and have a dedicated number that you can call and speak to one of our friendly team should you have any questions or need some help choosing. What are you waiting for, get suited up and looking sharp today!


This post is in collaboration with SuitsMen, all words are my own.

The Beauty Of Change

02/10/2016


Photography by Sophie Lobban



Did you know in a typical day, a woman will be on her feet for over four hours? Whether you're a stay-at-home mum or a travel extraordinaire, a comfy pair of boots to carry you through the day is an absolute must-have. My life is anything but slow-paced. I work forty hours a week; travelling to meetings, getting up and down from desk or doing a mad dash to the corner shop because I've been so busy I have forgotten to eat. When I do have "spare time" I distribute it between working on my blog as much as I can, catching up with family and friends with the occasional (okay, maybe frequent) accolade of retail therapy and trip to the florist. Therefore, comfort is a necessity.  Finding a pair of shoes that are versatile enough to every aspect of life; and comfy enough to not hinder your plans, can be difficult. Thankfully, Marks and Spencer incorporate Insolia® technology into their footwear, helping reduce pressure on your feet to ensure you stay stylishly on your feet all day long.

When it comes to tackling the colder seasons in style, a heeled boot is my weapon of choice. They provide you with enough height to elongate the legs yet they aren't narrow enough to cause any strain on the ankles. Plus, they look great! So imagine my excitement to discover a pair with tortoiseshell detail on the heel. What makes them so great is that this detailing gives them just enough touch of uniqueness to transform an ensemble from day to night with ease. I decided to give these boots a genuine comfort test, one week of wearing them to both work and on the weekends. The result? I can honestly say at no point did I feel any discomfort wearing them. Providing me with the reassurance that you really do get what you pay for, which can sometimes be hard to come buy in footwear, unless you're buying trainers. See more about Marks and Spencer's boot fit guide here.

On a personal note, it is of a great relief to me that everything seems to come together when you truly least expect it to. You may have seen via my other social networks that I have a new job, which is the result of why I had became a little quiet on the blog so suddenly after getting myself back into it. I'm now working in social media - a career I've always wanted to be in and have been trying on and off for the last four years to get into. This little blog of mine has provided me with so many wonderful opportunities over the years, but this has to be the greatest of them all. I made the decision to not complete my university course and get a degree in something I wasn't passionate about because I knew I was capable of more, and chose to dedicate my time into working and blogging in the hope of it eventually paying off for something much more rewarding. Within the countless hours I have been swatting up on SEO, dedicating to understanding analytics and KPI's there have been times where I wasn't ever sure I would ever catch a break. It is so great to know that it really has in the end and at twenty three years old I am actually welcoming change with open arms.




This post is in collaboration with Marks and Spencer - all words, styling and outfit choices are my own.

Let's bake: Coconut and Raspberry Cake

13/09/2016

Yes, it's a bit naughty. Yes, it is a little bit messy. And yes, it is most likely to be at least half of your daily sugar intake but sometimes we need something decadant to reward ourselves for life's little triumphs. Right? In my opinion managing to get ready on time in the morning is enough justification. But you know, less about me... Great British Bake Off has finally returned, gracing our TV screens once more (thank goodness!) and I find myself ensuring that as the clock hits 8 o'clock Wednesday night, I'm comfortably placed on the sofa, paired with a slice of cake and a cup of tea to wash it down with. Please tell me I'm not the only one?

In preparation for tomorrows episode I decided enough was enough, farewell to the supermarket versions, I wanted to make my own. Now, I'll be the first to admit I am sadly no Mary Berry. However after easing my way in with chocolate cookies and sourdough bread at the weekend; and succeeding in not giving anyone food poisoning, I decided to tackle one of my all-time sweet treat favourites - Coconut and Raspberry Loaf. I know fruit in desserts won't be everyones cup of tea, but for me it is the pièce de résistance. However you could always switch it up and make it with chocolate instead, or flavour it with lemon. Both are perfect pairings with coconut. This one has a triple hit of the good stuff both outside and in; coconut oil, coconut milk and desiccated coconut, creating a rich, textured and flavourful cake, that’s spiked with tart raspberries and a layer of raspberry jam brushed on top. Raspberry and coconut are a match made in heaven and given I was able to pull it off without any errors, I’d say this is a good one for bakers anywhere from novice level upwards.

If you're a little hesitant to get into baking as you think it could be a hefty price-tag, don't be disheartened! For all my ingredients I got almost everything - with the exception of Coconut Milk, Coconut Oil and Frozen Raspberries, from Lidl for the grand price of £6! This recipe will create a cake that will serve at least six to eight people, which you could stretch to even ten to twelve, if you you want to ration the portion size. Averaging less than £1 a portion. What a bargain for a fresh, delicious tasting treat that the supermarket simply cannot produce. Plus! You will have over half of the ingredients left over to use towards more recipes too. If you like the look of this and want to make it yourself, go grab your apron and get yourself to the kitchen!

What you will need:

- 175g Desiccated coconut
- 330ml Full fat coconut milk
- 225g Caster sugar
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 250g Self-raising flour
- 130g Frozen raspberries
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil or the Frylight alternative will work too
- 3 tbsp Raspberry Jam
- 1 tbsp Water
- 1 tbsp Desiccated coconut for finishing
- A handful of fresh raspberries for finishing (optional)
- Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

What you need to do:

1. In a mixing bowl combine the desiccated coconut and coconut milk, then leave for an hour covered.

2. Once this hour has passed pre-heat your oven to 190 °C or 170°C if you're using a fan bake.

3. Whilst the oven is warming up, line a 2lb loaf tin and grease with coconut oil. If you want added help to lift the cake out with later, then lay some baking paper big enough to cover all sides in the tin also.

4. To the coconut mixture, add the sugar, egg and vanilla and stir in with a metal spoon. Then sift over the flour in stages, and stir in. Finally fold in the frozen raspberries. The mixture will be thick, almost porridge-like.

5. Spoon the mixture in to the loaf tin ensuring the mixture is distributed evenly, and place in to the centre of the pre-heated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or you can always check to see if it's baked by inserting a knife to the centre and seeing if it comes out clean.

6. Leave the cake in it’s tin for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it and carefully lift it out using the baking paper. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack. This will take approximately 2 hours.

7. Once it’s completely cold, heat the raspberry jam and water in a small pan and cook for around 10 minutes. Then brush the jam over the top of the loaf and scatter with more desiccated coconut. Apply some more of the hot jam glaze to the centre of the loaf (if you want) and add the fresh raspberries.

7. Finally, dust with a little icing sugar, grab a knife and serve.

Follow Me

© CharissaRae - a North East Fashion, Beauty, Travel and Lifestyle Blog. Design by Fearne.