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Why cake dates should be your new Friday night






Friendships really change when you get into your 20s. Everyone has started to couple off, weddings, babies and stressful jobs mean that you probably see your bestie less frequently that you would like. I find that I know have one big night out a month on a Saturday night whether that be to a birthday party or into town for a bit of a pub crawl. It's nothing to do with money but everything to do with being busy.

However, I have got really into Friday night cake dates. Cake dates are fantastic for a few reasons. Firstly, you can go for a few hours e.g. 8pm-12am and be home for a good nights sleep. Secondly, you don't wake up with a banging hangover and lastly, it actually gives you a chance to chat! There's nothing worse than trying to have a life chat with your friends over the banging tunes of a nightclub!

My friends and I really favour two place - both located on the Lisburn Road. The Lisburn Road is actually a good meeting place - it's central to the motorway and easy to scoot up from town. We love Miel et Moi which is located on the upper Lisburn Road, next door to the The Albany. Famed for their delicious cakes, the setting is super cute and if it's a good night, you are able to sit outside. They are also licensed meaning if you fancy a glass of wine (or 3) with your cake, you are able to do that. We also recently tried out the new French Village on the lower Lisburn Road. Unlike the French Village of delicious salads and frys that you know of you student days, this is the grown up version that is part Patisserie and part Brasserie. Again, they are licensed if you fancy a drink with your cake. Their cakes are really outstanding - I don't think I've met one that I don't like!

If you are in the need for some friend time, schedule a cake date. They'll cheer you up and really inject some quality time into your relationship. 


A DINNER PARTY IN IKEA!









Photos by Darren Kidd, PressEye

There's nothing I love more than a good old trip to IKEA. It truly is a day out - between going for lunch and the trek around the store, I always end up coming home with 500 things I didn't need (Seriously though, best photo frames ever... SO cheap!). 

I was kindly invited recently to experience making a meal live in IKEA Belfast! I can cook quite well but I was surprised that 42% of people in Northern Ireland feel they can't cook at all! IKEA has found the the size of kitchens and dining rooms effects peoples entertaining at home. It was an interesting experience and I kept forgetting we were in the middle of IKEA and not in someone's house! 

IKEA are trying to encourage people to make the most of the space they have and enjoy food but most of all, the company of others. Along with other bloggers and media, I enjoyed a cocktail making workshop and a cooking class with chef Paula McIntyre. We made delicious chicken and salmon using IKEA ingredients. I was presently surprised by how tasty it was - I need to go for more lessons with Paula evidently!

On the evening we were also joined by Vincent O'Rourke, a senior counsellor from Relate NI. We actually weren't aware that he was there and watching us all night! He spoke at dinner about relationships and the importance of eating together in the evening for cementing relationships. 

At the event, I was so taken with the IKEA kitchens but more than that, the IKEA ovens! I plan on getting my own house in the next few years so I definitely know where I am headed to!

I had such a fun evening at IKEA and it was really thought-provoking. So many of my good memories involve cooking or special meals such as birthdays - I can't wait to make more memories in the future!

Thanks IKEA Belfast for a wonderful evening. 

Two times the pizza goodness













Let's be honest - pizza is one of life's greatest joys! So when I was invited to try out not one but two new Pizza Express stores in Belfast, I jumped at the chance. We started the night in the Bedford Street Pizza Express which has always been my favourite store. I have some good memories there (and yet always forget to wear flat shoes incase I have to go up the spiral staircase!). 

Two new stores have opened in Belfast which is a huge investment from the company - we are a city that loves Italian food! Even though Pizza Express is a chain, I've always had great food and great service there. The mushroom bruschetta remains one of my favourite things to eat ever! 

The first of the new stores is in Ballyhackamore. Since this is both the heart of East Belfast and the food central, it makes perfect sense to have a store there. This store has a very appropriate C.S. Lewis theme with his books lining the walls. The Ballyhackamore store definitely has a great atmosphere for date nights or a girl's night out. 

The second of the new stores is in St. Anne's Square. Perfectly located facing The MAC, it's a great post work, pre-theatre and family option. This store has a completely different interior to Ballyhackmore - it feels much more like an high end interior design magazine without being intimidating. I can imagine heading here on a Friday night after work with my mates and then heading round to The Dirty Onion for a few G&Ts. 

On our tour we tried lots of the new menu . My top pick was the honeycomb cream slice for dessert. I couldn't stop eating it! I also had a chance to try my hand at tossing a pizza. The outcome? I should stick to my day job!

Overall, both new stores are winners in my eyes. Great locations with glorious food. Long live Pizza Express!