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New kicks & a new chapter










Photography by Kellie Scott. To book her & see more of her work, please visit: www.kelliescottphotography.com 

Hair by Anne at Peter Mark Arthur Street. 


I never thought I'd be a trainers girl. But alas, over the past couple of years my opinion has greatly changed. I'm tall girl and I've realised after spending many years in heels that I'm far more comfortable (and regal!) in flats.

I adore the new Puma campaign featuring Kylie Jenner so when Life Style Sports offered me a pair of the new Puma trainers, I jumped at the chance. I picked the gorgeous Puma Core Creepers, £75. These look more like shoes as they made from a suede. I've been wearing them constantly - the sole of them also provides a little lift and I think this definitely contributes towards the comfort factor. I teamed my new Puma trainers with old M&S jeans (you can get very similar in River Island here), an M&S polo neck and my classic & well loved Jaeger coat

I really love these pictures - Kellie is honestly one of the sweetest people I have ever met and I think she really captured my mindset at the moment in them. 

I've been really reflective this month as I turn 25 next month. 2016 has been a roll coaster year for me - I stopped doing things that made me unhappy and often it's hard to give up bad habits. I'm so excited for November, turning 25 and a new happy chapter in my life. 

A mini break to Milan









I love a mini-break. Give me 4 or 5 days in a city over 2 weeks on a beach any day. I love exploring and there's no better way than to do this than with your friends. Mini breaks are the perfect bonding opportunity so when the flights from Belfast to Beragamo opened with with Ryanair, I booked straight away. The flights were super cheap - I think it was little over £100 or the two of us. Admittedly, we did not book cases (an over sight on the shopping front) but we managed just fine with hand luggage.

I was a little concerned about flying to Beragamo as I knew this was a) not in Milan and b) we had to travel to the city centre & we speak no Italian. However, there are plenty of buses outside that take you to Milan's Central Train Station for around €5 single.

We stayed in The Square Hotel as this was located about  5 minute walk away from the Duomo. If you are like me and are fussy about hotels, you will find that Milan is expensive. However, if you are used to going to Dublin & staying in 4/5 star hotels, the price is proper comparable. Our room was huge - a bit like a New York loft and the breakfast included was fantastic. The hotel also had a huge rooftop restaurant & bar which was such a joy to just chill at. 

If you are thinking about going to Milan you need to be shopper. There's everything from the coolest Zara I've ever been in to Gucci that has a coffee shop attached - of course we had to stop and have a snack for Instagram purposes alone! We visited la Rinascente - the most amazing department store I've ever been in. It is super high end but not pretentious. We spent about 4 hours just wandering around! The department store also has a lovely restaurant that over looks the Duomo. The Duomo (Milan Cathedral) is also worth a visit. I found it very moving - it was so grand but so silent. We also did the ascent to the top of the Cathedral where you literally stand on the roof - trainers or flat shoes recommended as the stairs are very steep!

We actually visited Milan during Fashion Week and expected it to be crazy but it is a surprisingly chilled out city. It's really easy to just walk around & wander and find little gems.

Admittedly, the food we had was a little lack lustre - but let's be honest, you go to Milan for the shopping, not the food. 

Would I go back to Milan? Yes I would. There's a lots of galleries & museums we didn't get a chance to visit and it was our first visit (plus hardly anyone I knew had ever visited!), it would be great to go back to explore a little more!

New season scents





Autumn/Winter scents are always a huge part of the seasonal beauty routine. Along with swapping bright coral lipsticks for purple & red tones, I always welcome changing from sweet summer scents to the musky & deep florals for winter. Aramis recently sent me some of their new collection - definitely something here for everyone but I had one clear winner!

This scent really takes me back to when I was younger. Tommy Girl was the first fragrance I bought. I picked it up in an airport on the way home from a family holiday. I think I was about 8 at the time. The Girl is fronted by new Hilfiger designer Gigi Hadid who is taking the world by storm. The scent is a new take on Tommy Girl for a new generation - it's clean, fresh and inoffensive. It's perfect for pre-teens and teens alike and at £34 for 100ml, it won't break the bank. 

I am a lifelong fan of Michael Kors scents. In fact, my favourite scent of all time was Michael Kors Very Hollywood. This has been discontinued so I continue to wear the original Michael Kors as a substitute. Wonderlust is the new beautifully packed offering from the MK family. Containing bergamot and almond milk, this sweet scent one for ladies who love long summer holidays and many a cocktail. I like Wonderlust but loved the previous new release Michael Kors Coral much more - just personal preference. I think this would be a great scent for younger girls to get them into Michael Kors as things such as the original scent as much more grown up and musky in comparison. 

This out of the three is the stand out for me. I tried this scent after coming home from Italy where I had a fabulous experience trying out the new Louis Vuitton scents (if you are really into scents, I highly recommend going to try them out if you are close to a Louis Vuitton store). The DKNY Be Tempted scent smells so similar to the Mille Feux Louis Vuitton scent and it's about a quarter of the price! I love this so much that I've worn it everyday for the past month and so many people have remarked on it. It's one of those scents that you love but couldn't put your finger on what the notes in it are. To me, it just smells like joy & sparkles. However, the literature tells me it has notes of black currant bud, liquorice, patchouli and violet. I'm so in love with this scent that I feel I might have to stock up as with many of the DKNY fragrances, they tend to be limited edition so grab it whilst you can! 

*PR Sample. All opinions my own. 

Bull & Ram




t's been a long time since I went to a new restaurant where I had a good feed. It's a very Northern Irish thing to want to go somewhere and leave stuffed but it is our way. I was recently asked to come and review the Bull & Ram in Ballynahinch. I live about 45 minutes away so despite the jaunt, I jumped at the chance as they had just won three YES restaurant awards plus had an outstanding review from Jay Rayner in The Guardian.

Two things sold me before I visited - the mention of the interiors and the steaks. The Bull & Ram is located in what used to be an old butchers - the tiles depict farm animals and the stunning high ceiling looks so modern (but it actually is the original ceiling that they found behind 2 false ceilings!). The restaurant has massive big shop front windows that wouldn't look out of place in any cosmopolitan city. I wanted to go to try out their steaks, sourced from Hannan's meats in Moira. In fact, most of their menu is locally sourced. I'm a huge steak fan - no matter where I go in the world I will always try a steak. I've come to the conclusion that we do have the best meat in the world in Northern Ireland - nothing on foreign soil ever tastes as good as our stunning home produce.

I visited the Bull & Ram on a busy Friday evening with my friends. The restaurant is cosy, seating just 70 covers. I would recommend booking if you fancy making the journey down like me. There were couples, groups of friends and people of every age enjoying the atmosphere. They also have an extremely extensive wine list that also includes artisan wines hand picked by their amazing team. The Bull & Ram is headed up by Kealan McMichael. He has worked extensively in kitchens across Northern Ireland including the much loved Poacher's Pocket. His choice of location & building seems to perfectly match the beautifully selected menu on offer. 

The menu is so good that I had quite a time actually picking from it! The menu isn't huge or complicated - everything just sounded so good! They also have a list of daily specials based on what is in season - duck and mushroom were the call for October. Based on another review I read, I picked the French Onion soup. I'm a bit of a French Onion soup connoisseur - it is something so simple that SO many places seem to get wrong very easily. The best soup I ever had was in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas... that was until I went to the Bull & Ram. BEST FRENCH ONION SOUP... in the world! It was so satisfying and homely. My friend had mushroom soup (which she said was lovely but had deep food regret after tasting my French Onion soup). For mains I chose a 40 day aged fillet steak. Fillet is always my cut of choice and it was delicious - truly living up to my belief that we have the best meat in the world. I tried both mash & the beef dripping chips. The chips were outstanding - I could quite probably eat those and the French Onion soup everyday for the rest of my life and die a happy woman. My friend is a huge fan of duck and picked a special they had on the menu which she really enjoyed. 

For dessert we enjoyed a range of things from ice-cream to white chocolate creme brûlée. The brûlée was incredible - it tasted like a melted milky bar without being too sweet. Another menu stand out item!

The service was fab at the Bull & Ram - a really welcoming & polite team. Overall, I had a really great experience. The Bull & Ram is everything you want a Northern Irish restaurant to be - delicious, value for money, filling and friendly.

And the ultimate conclusion - would I drive the whole way to Balynachinch to eat at the Bull & Ram again? You bet I would..... just for the French Onion soup alone! 

For more information on the Bull & Ram, please see their website: www.bullandram.com 

For reservations, please ring 028 97560908. 

Many thanks to the team for a beautiful meal & their hospitality. 

Forestside Cookery School




A cookery school in a shopping centre? On first saying this, it might sound like a crazy idea but when you factor in free parking and ease of access, it's actually a genius idea (Plus, the Dunnes Stores in Forestside is fantastic... I went and bought a few things before my class..... Oooopps!). 

Chef Stephen Jeffers is the brain child behind this fantastic new venture. Located upstairs in the shopping centre (you grab the lift beside Sainsburys), the Forestside Cookery School is a beautiful hidden gem. The fit out of the cookery school is stunning - light colours, funky prints by Rory Jeffers and Smeg appliances (I have a life long obsession with Smeg fridges!). Local supplier Musgrave MarketPlace NI is supporting Stephen in his new endeavour by providing locally sourced ingredients for many of the cookery classes. Plus, the school also has a fun Cookery Shop were you can stock up on ingredients on your way out! 

The school runs classes practically every night of the week ranging from Asian to a Sunday Roast. There are also visiting expert chefs who specialise in things such as sushi if you want to learn how to make your favourite rolls! The school also is great for private parties and work team building days. 

Stephen Jeffers himself is a powerhouse. I really took to him when I met him a few years ago when he headed up another cookery school. He's a man who has really lived life - from working in some of Belfast's best restaurants to eventually owning them. His passion for cooking comes from working in restaurants since he was 16 and now he wants to give back these skills & knowledge to a new generation of budding chefs. 

At our particular class, we made a stunning salmon dish for starter. The whiskey smoked salmon from Musgrave MarketPlace NI was absolutely incredible, as was the fillet steak used for the main course. Stephen makes you feel like the cooking is easy, especially as you are assisted by two lovely Forestside Cookery School members (who also do the washing up for you!). I felt I learned so many new skills - chief among them that you oil your steak and not the pan.... who knew? A tip for life! 

The best bit about the experience is eating the food you have created with such a sense of pride. There is a really simple & fun sitting area where you enjoy your food accompanied by some outstanding wine.

The Forestside Cookery School experience is one not to be missed - it's fun, something a little bit different and a great laugh. I highly recommend it for a birthday present or team building exercise. I know I certainly can't wait to return and learn more new skills. Stephen can also create a private class for you if there is something special you want to learn or would like a family day out to create some classic heirloom recipes! 

To book your class, visit www.forestsidecookeryschool.com 

Belfast, I still love you


Many thanks to Liam Scott from Scotty Photography for the photographs. Check out his work on his social channels. 

Two of my best friends moved away this year- one to the Middle East and one to Wales. These were two of my friends who formed my core friendship group - the type of friends you can phone when you get a flat tyre or crying in the middle of the night. It has been a hard adjustment realising I can't just stop at M&S, buy some buns and drive to their house. 

It seems to be a real trend this year that people are moving away, whether that's for work, love or simply because they are fed up. This feeling of being fed up with Belfast seems to be a huge wave amongst people my age. I'm 24 and I get it. You think the grass might be greener. I spent my whole university years here - all five of them; four at Queen's and my Master's year at Ulster University's Jordanstown campus which is close to my house. Moving away was never an option for me - my best friend was staying to do nursing at Queen's and I would be across the street doing Politics. We have always gone on fabulous holidays so the idea of travelling or seeing the world never really phased me - I've seen parts world with my mum & my friends.

One of my core reasons for starting this blog under this name was my love of Belfast. As a city, we have suffered. But as someone who is 24, I proud to stand here and be part of a new Belfast... a Belfast that isn't known for bullets and bombs but for the Titanic Visitor Centre and a flourishing food scene. It really upsets me that people I know complain there is constantly "nothing to do in Belfast". Usually these are the same people who go to the same nightclub every Saturday night and eat in the same restaurants, week in and week out. There's nothing wrong with that - I can too be a creature of habit. However, open your eyes to the new businesses that are out there for you to support and experience.

The job scene here is definitely improving and it is encouraging to look in the business pages of the Bel Tel and see investment from huge brands and companies. 2016 in retail alone has heralded a whole new range of products available for us as customers.

Belfast is my home and it will always have my heart. Although I know many of my friends who have left for work may eventually come home, it is hard to hear Belfast being run down by my generation. I feel we need to be positive and try something new - head to the theatre, a new restaurant or bar, drive to a different park for a walk.... there's so much to discover on your own doorstep.

Home is truly where the heart is. I challenge you to find somewhere else in the world that has the humour we do, or in fact, the fish & chips, soda bread, veda loaf and tasty treats in general that we have.

Belfast, I still love you and I always will. 

Charlotte Tilbury launches in HOF Belfast







The excitement of Charlotte Tilbury launching in Belfast was palpable for the past few months. I had mentioned it in passing in a few live streams and people could not wait for the location to be announced.

Now they are up and running in House of Fraser in Victoria Square, I thought I'd share my thoughts and best products from Charlotte Tilbury. I'm so pleased it has finally launched here - I've spent a lot of time in Dublin buying from the brand and in Selfridges in London. In fact, before she launched her brand at Selfridges, she had a special unique pop up called The House of Rock & Kohl which I visited in 2013 in London. Since then, I've been hooked.

Charlotte Tilbury herself is an iconic personality. Best friends with Kate Moss who has also been her makeup muse of many years, her legendary voice & red hair makes her stand out from other beauty brand owners with her unique look. 

I love Charlotte Tilbury for one huge reason - she makes makeup easy. All of her makeup is designed in looks meaning if you are just starting out learning how to do makeup, you can buy the whole look in a bag. Charlotte Tilbury is also big on social media - all looks have an associated YouTube video meaning it's so simple to follow along to create your dream look. Charlotte also is constantly working on bit photoshoots and campaigns with world famous actresses and models on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair. 

I have three top products - Bond Girl lipstick, Magic Foundation and Colour Chameleon in Golden Quartz. I love the lipstick as it's the perfect brown nude and Bond also happens to be my surname! I fell in love with the Magic Foundation last year in Dublin - it has great coverage and really doesn't move! And lastly the Colour Chameleon eyeshadow sticks appear to my inner lazy girl. I love a cream eyeshadow and sticks make it even easier - apply them on the lid and blend out with your finger or a fluffy brush and you are good to go!

The Charlotte Tilbury Christmas products are also fabulous and make the perfect stocking stuffers. Look out for the super cute Christmas Bauble with eye mins inside and the Mini Lipstick charms. So sweet and a really great introduction to the brand for those who haven't tried it out. 

Plus check out the incredible advent calendar that I am DYING over! I need it in my life.

Charlotte Tilbury is now available exclusively in Northern Ireland at House of Fraser Victoria Square. Make sure to call in and visit the team - tell them I sent you!

The game changing porridge topping you NEED to make



I love porridge. I was raised on it - my granny wouldn't let me leave the house for primary school until I had it in my belly. Although I frequently lamented porridge as a child, I now find it to be a very comforting food. It's the perfect pre-work breakfast to fill up your belly. 

I was delighted to recently attend the 175th Birthday of White's Oats. I had no idea that it is made right here in Northern Ireland. Based in Armagh, the mill produces the highest quality of oats which are also exported to China, the USA, the Middle East and many European markets. I love their Speedicook oats - 1 cup of oats plus 2 1/2 cups of milk.. microwave for 2 minutes and I'm set for the day! At the White's Birthday celebrations, we tasted lots of delicious delights made by the much loved Jenny Bristow. However, I was extremely taken with a banana & pecan topping that I topped my porridge with. So much so, I asked White's Oats for the recipe! 

I recreated it at home & encourage you to make it too. If you love banoffee pie, this will be your dream come true. It's sweet, has a good bite to it and just brightens up your White's Oats in an instant. I made two batches, both which when cooled I stored in the fridge. I would recommend using it within a few days of making it (but don't worry... I've a funny feeling you'll be eating it from the fridge with a spoon!). It would also make an outstanding ice-cream or apple pie accompaniment. 

Ingredients
Serves 4
2 bananas- sliced 
100g pecans
White sugar
Water
Salt

Recipe

1. In a oven 160C, roast pecans with a touch of salt and sugar for approximately 5 minutes. Once roasted, chop roughly and set to the side. 

2. In a small pot make a light caramel with sugar and water. Once a tan shade, remove from heat, fold the banana through the caramel. Add the pecans. The heat of the caramel will cook the banana out leaving a small bite.

3. Serve! 

It's such a simple recipe that I know I'm going to be creating for years to come! You could also add some cinnamon for a little festive twist.

Happy Birthday White's Oats - thanks for the fab recipe! 

Autumn Blues








Many thanks to Liam Scott from Scotty Photography for the photographs. Check out his work on his social channels. 
Facebook www.facebook.com/ScottyPhotographyNI
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheLiamScottNI
Instagram: http://instagram.com/theliamscott
Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/c/TheLiamScott


Autumn is well and truly here. The temperature has dropped drastically lately. I have just arrived home from holiday in Italy and I feel like I walked off the plane into the new season! I anticipated this though and picked up some autumn and winter pieces when I was on my travels.

My new coat which I keep describing as 'blue denim' is from one of my favourite stores, &Other Stories. This is the Patchwork Wrap Coat - it is oversized with three quarter length sleeves. It's really unlike any other coat I own. It's a lovely soft colour whereas I tend to usually go for really dark coats. I thought this would compliment the large amounts of navy I wear in the winter months! Although the coat is blue, it still goes really well with black. I'm so excited as &Other Stories are opening a branch in Dublin soon on Grafton Street - I can't wait to make a journey down!

I teamed it here with black All Saints leggings, my favourite Adidas Superstar trainers and a COS top. COS is another brand I love - their clothes are so flattering and priced so well for the quality. I'm also wearing my favourite bracelet from Native Gem at Six for Gold Boutique. I don't wear much jewellery but this is my everyday piece and I always get so many comments on it - it's really unique and catches the light so well. 

Let me know what you think of my new autumn coat - impractical or chic? 

The Therapy Rooms at the Rosspark Hotel






I'm not very good at relaxing. It's a life long trait. My doctor once told me I was highly strung and needed to calm down.... this advice I have obviously taken on board (not!). I have a really busy brain and taking time out has always been an issue for me. However, my best friend Jayne couldn't stop raving about the team at The Therapy Rooms at the Rosspark Hotel so I knew I had to take some time to go and try them out in order to de-stress!

I hadn't visited the Rosspark Hotel in years - in fact, I think the last time I was there was for a family wedding when I was still at primary school. Located just outside Ballymena and about a 30 minute drive from Belfast, the hotel is easy to get to. The grounds are lovely and I've heard their afternoon tea is outstanding (I'll be going back for this!).

The Therapy Rooms are located upstairs in the hotel. The location is really discreet so if like me, you were rolling up at 7.30pm on a school night with no makeup on, you felt like you where going to a beautiful home away from home. The team at The Therapy Rooms do everything from bridal hair & makeup to LVL Lashes (one of my favourite treatments!) and all sorts of skincare treats. I went to the salon with my mum - she enjoyed a cup of tea downstairs whilst I stepped into relaxation with my therapist Nicole. I was booked in for a facial & reflexology. I had heard reports about Nicole's reflexology and that is was nothing sort of outstanding.

Nicole started out my treatment by assessing my skin. I have some breakouts at the moment so we discussed how we would help to treat these. The Therapy Rooms are a Skinician salon. Skinician is a range made in Northern Ireland. I hadn't tried the rang before so I was excited to experience it in action with a facial. The stand out product for me from the range was the Pro-Radiance Enzyme Peel. This is a treatment in masque form that helps to exfoliate and leave you with a brighter completion. As my breakouts were not active and rather just red marks on my skin, this really helped to calm the redness and smooth out the texture of my skin. 

After my facial, Nicole moved on to the reflexology. I have had reflexology before but this very much focussed on the physical aspects of my health such as stress or IBS. If you have never had reflexology, it is a treatment that involves massaging points on the feet that correspond to parts of the body. Reflexology is a great way to relax and Nicole was fantastic at it. She focussed not only on physical aspects but also the holistic aspect - she was able to pick up things I had been worrying about. I let her work away without saying much until the end when I told her everything she said was correct including that I had bad hips and that I am really hard on myself! I really felt the benefits of the reflexology days following my treatment which was great. The Therapy Rooms also kindly provided me with some Skinician products to take home which I have loved using so far. 

Nicole was the most lovely girl - she had such a calming voice & kind nature. I really do think that therapists make your treatment - it's a bit like customer service in shops. You'll always return to people if their manner is pleasant and they go out of their way for you. I can't wait to return to The Therapy Rooms for my next treatments and I have a long queue of friends who also now want reflexology with Nicole!

Appointments can be booked with the team at The Therapy Rooms on 07720618551 and you can check out more of their work & latest offers over on their Facebook page

Many thanks to Zoe from The Therapy Rooms for organising my treatments. 

*Treatments and products at The Therapy Rooms were provided to me FOC. All opinions are my own.

A new holy grail foundation



I have a unique way of testing products. I have a choir rehearsal every other Monday night with over 100 people,  some of whom I've known for half a decade. They know my face and are well used to me so they can detect quickly if I am using something different.

So last Monday, off I skipped to choir in the new Urban Decay All Nighter* foundation. I was sent two colours to try - 3.25 and 3.5. Urban Decay foundations come in some of the best colour options on the market for super pale girls right through to luscious dark skin tones. For reference, I wear Medium Ivory in Laura Mercier and NW20 in MAC - I am yellow toned. I find the 3.25 is the perfect shade for everyday and 3.5 is great for when I have fake tan on. The foundation glides on - I've been using my trusty £1.50 Primark brush to apply it. 2 pumps does the whole face and it has medium to full coverage. It dries down to a demi-matte finish so my oily followers might still want to powder to ensure best coverage. For me, I have normal skin with a little bit of an oily T Zone so I find just powdering the T Zone is fine for me. 

The coverage this gives is incredible - so much so that people all week have asked me about my skin rather than my foundation. This is always a great sign as it means the foundation doesn't look heavy on your skin! It has great lasting power - I've partied and done long days in this foundation and it hasn't moved an inch. 

If you work long hours (Hello hard working nurses!) or just want to make sure your makeup is super night out proof, this is the PERFECT foundation for you. 

Urban Decay All Nighter foundation retails for £27 for 30ml (which I think is great in comparison to its counterparts - Estee Lauder Double Wear is £31 and Laura Mercier Silk Creme is £35). 

If you want a flawless finish, definitely give this a go. I know I'll be wearing it right through to 2017. 

*PR Sample