Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Style XL Awards 2017


 




It's been just over a week since I went to Birmingham for the first ever Style XL awards. Run by Leah, this informal award ceremony was a personal, almost intimate affair. I was surrounded by familiar faces and friends, in the upstairs of a local pub. No fancy red carpets or sit down meals. This was just what I needed, a little event just to see all my favourite girls again.

Now back to the awards. I'll be honest with you here and tell you that due to Facebook algorithms, I had no idea that nominations were even taking place! I had a few weeks of feeling incredibly guilty that I hadn't nominated my personal favourites. So the first I had heard was my email from Leah telling me that I had been nominated as 'Most Inspiring Blogger'. WOAH! For me, this was a bit of a head scratcher. I don't blog very often, I'm not that great at it, and therefore had no real understanding as to why I had been nominated. But I'm not here to complain, obviously I was super touched! 
With this in mind, I went to the awards with no expectations of winning. I was up against some of my most favourite, influential bloggers that I happen to call good friends and I was just humble to be sharing the same category with them. So off I trotted to the awards with 20 plastic tiaras.


We've all seen that bit in Mean Girls, right? Where Cady snaps up the prom queen crown and throws pieces to all the lesser known girls for being amazing in their own right. Well that's what I did- not that I was crowned of course, but I gave out little pieces to those that did AND didn't win. Not because I felt sorry for those that lost but to remind each and every one of them that they are making a difference. Regardless of categories, awards, titles...as a blogger, you make a difference to at least one person and impact them in some amazing way. Be it confidence, opinions, compassion, style, individuality... To me, showing them their recognition was so worth so much more than winning an award. 

Lucia snaps a pic of her piece of tiara
 Kelly is a selfie superstar in her piece
Kat and her beautiful daughter, Mya
Blog queen Lottie proudly donning her piece
Double the babes in this selfie with Diana and Becky


And finally, yours truly with category winner Tanya, 'One to watch' winner Aimee of Radioactive Unicorn and the gorgeous Becky 

What i wore

Usually I would of bought a super cute new outfit for such an occasion but this time I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture. A small awards afternoon to recognise the bloggers within our plus community. So I pulled out a dress I'd had in my wardrobe for ages that I got secondhand on EBay. Wore it with my Skinnydip clutch bag and Asos velvet boots. The shawl was a strip of fur I bought at a boot sale for £1.50 I will always aim to stand out but this shouldn't have to come at a cost. Sometimes shopping your own wardrobe and adding fun accessories is all it takes for a new look. X

Monday, 6 March 2017

Spring menu at Polpo Bristol

I was super excited to go on a mid week girl date to Polpo on Whiteladies Road last week. I had been nagging my husband for a good few months about coming to this award winning Italian and the opportunity never came around.
So naturally when the super babe that is Sarah Starling of Yes Starling! asked if I'd like to join her, who was I to say no! 

After a warm welcome and a drink, I browsed the menu and I won't lie, I wanted 99% of it. From the small plates to large plates, to pizzas, to breads, to puddings, I wanted a bit of everything right there and then. Luckily, Polpo gives you the option to do just that. With no set rules on the order in which you eat, Polpo offer a range of dishes that vary in size and it really takes away the struggle of choosing your main meals. Small plates are just that. Perfect for ordering a couple of dishes and sharing them. Pasta and pizzas came in both small or large options and the bread options could be shared too. 
Now, I have eyes bigger than my belly so it was easier to discuss what we wanted and then go with the welcomed advice from our waiter. 
Here's what we feasted on: 

 
   Beetroot cured salmon, horseradish cream & dill crostini


 
Marinated baby octopuses

 
Spicy pork and fennel meatballs

 
Crab & chilli linguine

 
Squash, blue cheese & walnut bruschetta

 
Roasted sea bream, grilled fennel, brown shrimp & capers

 
Chilli & garlic prawns 

 
Chocolate salami, ricotta doughnuts with blood orange jam & an Aperol sorbet

Of course, all of these dishes were served between the two of us. I might like my food but I could never fit this lot in by myself! 
Overall, the dishes did not disappoint, although I wasn't as keen on the desserts as I had hoped. I knew if I went for something other than my favourite tiramisu, I'd be unhappy. I think this could be a personal quibble rather anything else so do not let that put you off!
As a meat lover, I didn't really opt for much meat. The menu is full of such light, flavoursome dishes that it really didn't need heavier options. I find it's so good to go for food that you wouldn't usually order and now I've poured over the entire menu, I'm already thinking about what I'm having when I return. 
A big thank you to the guys at Polpo for having me and to Sarah for yet again letting me be your date for the night x

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Rose Duo with In The Style Curve

If there's two things I'm really into this season it's plisse and pink tones.
When asking if I'd like to choose an item or two from the Curve range at In The Style, I knew it wouldn't be long before I was selecting a little pink number, the Emmeline Rose Pleated Wrap Dress. The fact it was also in that gorgeous pleated plisse fabric, only sweetened the deal a bit more. 

 
 

 I chose the dress because it's perfect for a hen do that I'm attending but as I love wrap style dresses, I wanted to see if I could work it in to a daytime outfit too. So instead of styling the dress for an evening out, I thought I'd show you how I dressed it down.

 Teaming the dress with some embroidered jeans and my silver boots, it's dressed up without being too ott. I ordered the dress in a size 20 and although it was a little on the large side, over jeans I think it works really well with that added slouchiness. 

 
 

The next item I chose was basically the same thing but in a skirt. I chose this in a size 18 and it run very small. Possibly a slight inconsistency with the sizing but don't let that put you off. The quality, cut, fabrics and price are the winning elements here. 

 
 

Again, I chose to dress the skirt down. Wearing it over tights, and dressing it with my baby pink Reeboks and khaki bomber jacket. You can find the Millie  Rose Wrap Skirt here 

 
Have you checked out the pieces in the Curve range yet? There's so many gorgeous items at such a good price here.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Swoon Gelato, Bristol

Now, if I was to ask you if you knew the difference between gelato and ice cream, would you know the answer? Because I sure didn't! 
Gelato contains less fat and is churned slower and longer than ice cream, reducing the amount of air added giving it that wonderfully rich, creamy texture.
Previously when I got to visit Swoon Gelato  at Christmas, not only did I get to sample their beautiful Gelato, but I also got a little lesson on how it's made too. Swoon pride themselves on using only the finest ingredients and the gelato is made in store, from scratch.

 

This month Swoon have been celebrating their first birthday, and have now revealed that they are opening up a second shop in Bath. I got to celebrate with owners Pat and Bruno, siblings who have a passion for authentic Gelato, in their Park Street residence. 
On arrival I couldn't be more pleased to of been given an Aperol Spritz in sorbetto form. Sorbetto is just as creamy and silky in texture as the gelato but is completely vegan friendly. 

 

With the counter full of an array of tubs, brimming with mouth watering flavours, you can also find gelato pops, sundaes, waffles, macarons and fresh coffee. And of course the 'Flavour of the month'.

 
   
        My personal favourite, salted caramel gelato and dark chocolate sorbetto. 

Swoon can be found on Park Street and more info can be found on their website 
here. x

The Burger Joint

So not only did I go out for a burger once last week but twice!! 
So when it comes to dining out, I'll be honest and say that burgers aren't top of my list when deciding what to eat. But The Burger Joint change that. With over 60 different ingredients, there are literally thousands of different combinations you could possibly choose from, the concept of building your burger the exact way you want it, is a bit of a game changer! All ingredients are locally produced and sourced and the menu caters for gluten free, vegetarians and vegans too. You could also have the option of a salad instead. 

The restaurant itself was small, with subtle lighting and simple decor but even though there were no empty tables, I didn't feel too packed in and for a Thursday night, I was surprised at how busy it was. A testament to good burgers, I say! 

 

Once we were greeted and seated, we were given a menu and an order form to create our burgers just the way we wanted them. 
Now I'm a bit of a coward and tend to stick to what I know and like so I opted for a traditional beef patty but there were 15 varieties to choose from - And that was just the patties!!
After much deliberating, I finally settled on my choices and couldn't wait for the server to take my order so I couldn't change my mind. It's no surprise that they supply your table with pencils so you can alter your order forms! Who knew creating your own food could be so fun yet so tough? *Phew*

 

So this is what I went for. Beef patty with chorizo, Brie and guacamole in a brioche bun, served with Parmesan and truffle fries, I also went for the garlic mayo and thousand island sauces for dipping. Heaven! 
The burger was superbly juicy and full of flavour and it was generously filled with my chosen toppings, although I will point out that the chorizo was wafer thin and the flavour was lost. Maybe it wasn't the best choice for my combo. Still, I wasn't too sad, overall the Burger was delicious. The fries were so good but after finishing my burger, I had very little room left. 
I'll definitely be returning and bringing my husband. I might even be a little more adventurous and try the kangaroo! Special thank you to Dan for the invite, I had a lovely visit. 

The Burger Joint can be found in Fishponds, Bedminster and Clifton. Offering monthly menu specials and student/lunch deals. 
More info can be found on their website 
here.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Cornish Burger Co at Steam Bristol

Last night I popped down to Steam in Clifton to sample their new burger pop up. Who doesn't love a big juicy burger on a boring Wednesday night?!
Although having heard of Steam, I hadn't yet visited so I was really delighted to get the invite. Walking in to the former Clifton Down railway ticket hall, I was instantly smitten with the gothic revival architecture. With big beautiful windows, pointed doors and 2 huge fireplaces at each end of the room, it had an industrial feel but with candles, leather armchairs and warm glowing lights, it still kept the coziness and charm. 
The Cornish Burger Co are Steams current residents and they did not disappoint. Having been making burgers and paella for 20 years in Cornwall, only the finest Cornish ingredients are used. 


 

I opted for The Janner. A 6oz Cornish beef burger with cheese, streaky bacon and onion marmalade, served with the usual salad/pickle garnish and a side of fries. Now, as a self confessed bacon addict, this had to be up there with the best I'd ever had. Thick, smoky and super crispy, it was like a bacon, pork scratching mash up. 

 

As you can see, portion wise, I was not left hungry. The burger itself was super juicy and well seasoned. The bun was soft and the combo of the salty bacon and the sweetness of the marmalade was pure wedded bliss.
After finishing the food, I got to have a little tour of next door, Shebeen. A quiet little bar, almost bordering on mancave, with armchairs and a little nook, is set to become the perfect Irish whiskey bar. I'll be covering more on Shebeen in the future. 

Food is available Mon-Thurs 5pm - 9pm 
Fri - Sat 12 noon - 9pm and Sun 12 noon - 8pm


Monday, 30 January 2017

Overcoming My Fear Of The Smear

 

If you didn't already know, last week was Cervical Cancer Prevention Week  and with various amazing campaign ads doing the rounds, I realised that it was time to bite the bullet and book my first ever smear. 
Now some of you may be giving me the tuts and head shakes for not going, but some of you may be in the same boat as me and feel the gut wrenching fear of getting your bits out in front of a stranger. Well I was that person until last Friday.

At almost 35, I really should know better. I've had 3 kids, I'm no stranger to baring my intimates to strangers. But the thought of laying on a little table and being so exposed and 'looked' at, filled me with dread. Did I know that it was silly? That my health should be first and foremost over dignity? Yes and yes! 
As a fat girl, I did and still do think that I have flabby extras where there normally isn't and I think that overall, I was expecting some kind of fat shaming from the nurse. It's nothing unusual being the larger type, visiting your GP for a chest infection but being made to weigh yourself. Totally unrelated to that original illness you went in with but sure, it's because of your weight. *Eyeroll*

 


So i thought instead of telling you the ins and outs of Cervical screening and what it tests, I thought I'd simply tell you my account of my first smear. I honestly feel so ashamed of myself for putting it off so long! 
So I get called in by the nurse and take a seat in her room. We talk about the procedure, what the test checks for and when to expect any results. I'm asked to go behind the screen and undress from the waist down - I wore a simple skater dress and leggings so when I was half undressed, I was still pretty covered. I was then asked to lay on the bed with my knees up. The nurse is totally lovely and we chatted the entire time. No awkward silences and I was at complete ease. It was at this point that I felt like this was no big deal. This was her job, she must of seen a thousand fannies!! After dropping my knees outwards, she gently inserted the speculum (before I visited, I envisaged being wrenched open so wide that you could toss a couple of coins in. I was so wrong! It's inserted about an inch or so in and opened very slightly just so the cervix is in view.) and used the long brush to collect the cells. I was told to expect a sweeping, scraping sensation but I could barely feel anything if I'm totally honest. Then it was done! 
There was nothing embarrassing, no gross noises and the nurse didn't recoil in horror at the sight of my giant minge. With the number of smears falling, I wonder how many of those women that put them off do so because of small insecurities? It's made me wonder how many of those are overweight. Shouldn't the health of your body come before your dignity?  I might be deemed overweight but I like to keep myself pretty fit and that shouldn't just be about exercise but about the vital screening that is accessible to me. Should you have any concerns about getting your first test, please do check out https://www.jostrust.org.uk/ This site is full of information and support. And please know that it's ok to be worried or embarrassed, it's only natural, but it doesn't compare to the possibility of cancer x