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January 2012

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Shoes. Who doesn’t love them? From Casual Flats to Killer Heels…. all girls love them, some more than others. Personally, I have a love hate relationship with shoes. In my younger years, I used to walk around for hours in 5 inch heels with no problem, I could walk all around the malls in Kuwait with my killer heels, my feet never once hurt.

Fast forward a good few years later & a fractured coccyx, I had to give up my love of killer heels. I now rarely wear them because my feet & back end up killing me after an hour. It’s a shame really, why do killer heels need to look so pretty? Christian Louboutin teases me with shoes that I can never wear.

Instead, the 5’7 me wears flats on a day to day basis. Sure, I’m tall enough to not really need heels, but sometimes you want a little boost. Right?

In my work place, heels are not wise, especially with the amount of walking you need to do from one end to the other to get a good cup of coffee & food, so flats are the best thing ever to guarantee pain free toes. I was recently asked by Next to review a pair of shoes from their online collection. What girl could say no to a pair of shoes? Not me that’s for sure!

After browsing hundreds of shoes, wondering if I should get a pair of killer heels then being unable to walk in them, the practical me decided to get a pair of tan coloured loafers (approx £18) which I can colour co-ordinate with black & tan clothes (I’m a huge believer in colour co-ordination FYI!) in the office. Flat, so the potential of ripping my feet apart is limited & of course a pair that look good (you do get some hideous flat shoes!).

48 hours after ordering, they arrived at home. I took them out the box and my first thought was that they look even better than in the photograph online. The colour is a very intense tan colour which looks great with the clothes that I’d co-ordinate the shoes with. I tried them on and walked up and down the hall way to break them in a little.

Normally with wearing shoes for the first time, your feet would hurt after a while, but this was not the case with these shoes. Even after walking around for a good hour, my feet didn’t pinch, my heels didn’t rub or start burning which normally happens to me.

I ordered a Size 7 (41) and sometimes, depending on the style they can fit perfectly or be too tight, these fit perfectly. I was a little hesitant at first after I ordered the size, then I thought to myself, if they don’t fit me perfectly, then my mom could have them as she is a perfect Size 7.

Luckily for me, my mom never got to steal the shoes. She did however, model them for me so I could take photographs….

I have since worn the shoes to work several times, walked from one end of the campus to the other, went shopping after work in them & my feet are still in one piece, for a change! They were a great work wear choice & I’ve purchased a few other pairs of flat shoes from Next with the same pain free results.

Perfect.

It’s easy with men… shirt, trousers & tie and hey bingo, you’re ready for another working day! With women, it’s much more difficult. You can’t really wear the same thing in the same week, you get bored of your wardrobe choices & try to change things up daily with accessories.

In previous blog posts, I’ve stated how much I hate clothes shopping, I get really grumpy when I can’t find what I’m looking for. I generally have an idea in my head & I get it. If I don’t, I give up because I hate spending hours going from shop to shop!

With work clothes, you HAVE to look a certain way, you have to have the correct image & you can’t just throw any old thing on! Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I just can’t be bothered. I stick my hair up in a ponytail, put no makeup on, wear a tank top & a cardigan along with a pair of my endless amount of black trousers. But, I can’t dress like that ALL the time. Especially with the company I work for (other than Dress Down Fridays, of course!)

Every month when I get my salary, I go work clothes shopping. I pick up a few more tops, cardigans, trousers then look at dresses & attempt to talk myself into buying one for the office, visions of me in a little black dress, a black cardigan & killer heels. But, I’m still trying to talk myself into buying one.

I go to bed at night trying to figure out what on earth I’m going to wear the next day. Tomorrows choice? A purple blouse, black trousers, a black cardigan incase I’m chilly & heels. I’d probably end up changing my mind numerous times until I resort to my original choice. Sucks to be a women sometimes!

Do any of you women have the same work wear frustrations that I do? Do you keep buying new work wear?

Have you ever been to a Restaurant which leaves a lasting impression on you & your friends for days, weeks and months? A Restaurant you can’t stop thinking about and recommend to everybody and anybody who’d listen.

Piccolino’s in Newcastle is just that.

A few months ago, I was recommended Piccolino’s by Club Individual while I was away on Business in Newcastle for 2 months. As a lover of one of their sister Restaurants, The Restaurant Bar & Grill in Glasgow, I couldn’t say no!

Via twitter, I booked a table (always handy!) for my friends who recently moved to Newcastle & myself. When we arrived, we were sat at the bar & given glasses of complimentary Rose Prosecco before sitting down and ordering. Looking at the menu, there was a lot of variety & it was hard choosing. I think we spent a good 15 minutes trying to pick!

For Starters, I ordered Calamari Fritti (£6.95), my friend Emma ordered Bruschetta Con Pomodoro (£5.25) & her husband Rory ordered Caprese which is a Tomato & Mozzarella Salad (£6.75). The dishes were presented beautifully, I instantly fell in love with the Calamari & the homemade mayonnaise which accompanied it. If I really had to find fault, the batter of the Calamari was a little too salty for my personal taste but it didn’t stop me from loving every single bite.

My friends loved their Starters as well. The Mozzarella was fresh, the basil pesto drizzled over it teased your mouth with a whole lot of flavours. The Bruschetta was equally as good. The amount of garlic on the tomatoes was perfect, very ripe, fresh and it was a great size as well. Usually when you order Bruschetta, it is usually too small or too big.

After the plates were taken away, our Main Courses arrived around 10 minutes later, the perfect amount of time to wait I think, not too soon so you are still digesting food & not too long that you are starving. It was really hard for me to choose my Main but I decided to try Linguine ai Gamberetti which is Sautéed King Prawns, Chilli, Garlic & Parsley (£12.50). Emma ordered Nodino di Vitello which is a 12oz Veal Chop, grilled with Rosemary & Lemon Butter and Hand Cut Fries (£21.95). Rory ordered one of the specials of the day which I don’t honestly remember the name of but it was a white fish (sea bass maybe?) oven cooked in baking parchment paper alongside herbs, garlic, vegetables & capers.

My main course was full of flavour, the linguine was cooked perfectly to my liking, the prawns were a great size & they didn’t scrape on the quantity I was served either. The thing I loved most about my order was the fact that minimal ingredients were used in something that had so much flavour, good simple food.

Emma’s Veal was literally to die for. I had a good few slices of it after begging her to try it & I have to tell you, I instantly fell in love. To me, that dish alone summed up my love of Piccolino in a few bites. Can you literally be that in love with a veal chop? Hell yes. It was very simple, full of flavour & cooked perfectly. Emma was also madly in love with her Veal Chop and also loved the mayo I had with my Calamari so much she asked the waiter if she could have some so she could dip her fries in it LOL. Oh it was good. So good.

Rory’s fishy dish (sorry I have no clue what it was!) was nice. I’m not a huge fan of fish so I never tried it but he really enjoyed it. The amount of capers that the fish was cooked in, made it very salty but not overpowering. The vegetables were cooked perfectly, melting in your mouth & the dish was a good size. Once again, the dish was full of flavour. Sometimes with fish, it can be very bland but this was not the case at Piccolino.

Main Courses done & it was safe to say that we were all stuffed. I wasn’t going to have any dessert, however, as soon as I saw that they had Pistachio Gelato (£5.50) on the menu, my eyes instantly lit up. How could I not eat my favourite gelato? I adore anything Pistachio. The Gelato was so smooth and creamy, I could have eaten more but alas, other than licking the bowl clean or ordering more Gelato, I didn’t 😀 I would have loved Pistachio Gelato with little grounded bits of Pistachio through it instead of being all smooth, but hey…. smooth is just as good! It was served with a Pistachio Biscotti which was nice & crunchy. Maybe the next time I go, they’ll have little bits in the Gelato for me? *wink wink*

Emma ordered Tiramisu (£6.20). It was light, fluffy, full of flavour from the coffee & smelt amazing. It was served with a light custard & you could have licked the plate clean as with everything we ate that day!

It’s safe to say that after that meal, Piccolino is one of my favourite Restaurants EVER. I am also quite lucky that I travel to Newcastle a lot with my new job so I will be able to visit Piccolino’s more often. My next trip? Next week! I can’t wait! The first thing I did was let them know I’d be booking a table 😀 I would without question, advise everyone and anyone to visit this Restaurant. You’ll leave with a smile on your face & it will not disappoint.

Piccolino’s is located in Stockbridge House, Trinity Gardens, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2HJ. You can also visit their website, facebook & twitter pages for more information.

It’s no secret that one of my guilty pleasures is Pinto after visiting since the first day it opened. My ultimate order? Char Grilled Steak, Brown Cilantro Lime Rice, Pinto Beans topped with oodles of Hell of a Hot Habanero Sauce. Full of Burrito goodness!

& now, as a special offer throughout January…..

So, if you are in Glasgow…. what are you waiting for? Pinto is one of the must visit places in Glasgow if you love quick & tasty Mexican food 😀

Pinto is located on 138 Queen Street, Glasgow, G1 3BX

The beauty of social media sites such as twitter, they allow you to follow a whole host of different businesses as well as people. I follow a good amount of Restaurants on twitter, ones where I frequent a lot and others where I’m dying to go to. The people behind the account, make time for you, chat away to you and from those conversations, entice you into going to their Restaurant.

For me, two Restaurants stand out. Piccolino’s in Newcastle’s Quay Side and Restaurant Bar & Grill within Glasgow’s Princes Square. I love both Restaurants & the staff behind the twitter accounts. I’ve boasted about how good Restaurant Bar & Grill is already on my blog & twitter with reviews of food & events there, I can’t get enough of the place. I even got my parents hooked!

While in the Newcastle office for 2 months, I was recommended to go to Piccolino’s. So I did. It didn’t disappoint. I instantly fell in love with their Calamari, Veal Chop & Pistachio Ice Cream. I’ve recommended the Restaurant to everyone and anyone who goes to Newcastle, even my father who lives & works in Paris but goes to the Newcastle Office of the company he works for a lot.

& Now, I’m due to go back to Newcastle for work again for a while. Piccolino’s is where I’ll be heading ASAP. They also know me very very well now as you can see from the twitter conversation below….

& that Ladies & Gentlemen is how Restaurants should use Social Media sites.

Can’t wait for my pistachio ice cream now 😀

Last night I got an email from Starbucks talking about the launch of My Starbucks Rewards and the benefits. Now, every time you pay using your Starbucks Card, you’ll get a star. Every time you collect 15 stars – you will be given a free Tall drink! Not bad.

The app’s loyalty scheme will encourage people to qualify as a ‘gold level member’ to get free drinks. Customers paying with a registered Starbucks Card will get a free drink every 15 visits. After 50 visits they move from Green to Gold Level and get extra benefits such as free espresso shots, soy, syrups and whipped cream. If you already were a Starbucks card holder, you are automatically upgraded to Gold.

Your Starbucks Card works exactly the same, you will still receive vouchers for free drinks during promotional periods and the best new feature? If you have an iPhone, you can now pay for your drinks via the Starbucks App in the UK which is available on iTunes from today. Since the launch of mobile payments in America last January, there have been over 26 million mobile transactions and approx $110 million has been loaded onto Starbucks Cards directly through the mobile app. No more worrying about trying to find your card in your bag or forgetting it at all. It’s about time!

I downloaded the new version of the Starbucks App & played around with it, up until the point where you are barcode scanned. Sadly I am nowhere near a Starbucks at the moment so I can properly try it out, which I am not happy about. Serious caffeine withdrawals!

Looks good & I can’t wait to try it! Triple Venti Caramel Skimmed Caramel Drizzle Caffè Latte anyone?

On December 3rd 2011, my sister in law gave birth to my little nephew Oliver who was born at 12.44am at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, weighing just 5 lbs 10.5 oz. Two days shy of being four weeks old, he was rushed to Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow as he had a high temperature. After a number of hours and the obligatory urine and blood tests, Oliver then had lumbar puncture to take fluid from around his spine to check for meningitis. At first my brother & sister in law thought it may have just been a urine infection but were later told that he had contracted Viral Meningitis, not the most serious strain of the disease but serious enough that it hit the entire family for six when we heard the word meningitis. Oliver is now on the mend and was released from hospital on January 1st 2012.

So to try to repay the love and the attention that the Yorkhill staff have shown Oliver & other children like him, in such a short space of time, my brother decided to start fundraising to try raise at least £1000 for the Yorkhill Children’s Foundation.

Yorkhill Children’s Foundation provides enhanced medical equipment and resources which benefit sick children and babies who are treated at Yorkhill Hospital and within NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde. These can include innovative medical equipment, improvements in child and family facilities and paediatric research and training

Yorkhill Hospital has touched millions of lives since it first opened its doors in 1882. It exists to help sick children get better, yet it does so much more. As the largest children’s hospital in Scotland, Yorkhill has a worldwide reputation for excellence, treating over 150,000 children from across Scotland every year. Yorkhill Hospital is the sole Scottish provider of a number of highly specialised services including cardiac surgery, kidney and bone marrow transplants, paediatric intensive care and endoprosthetic bone replacement. It is also one of the only four UK children’s hospitals with an ECMO machine offering life support for children.

Without public support none of this would be possible.

I’m helping my brother with his fundraising for Yorkhill Children’s Foundation & it would mean a lot if you could donate as little or as much as you can afford to help young children within Scotland who need help. A few pounds would make all the difference to children’s lives & help the charity significantly.

If you would like to donate, please go to the JustGiving page that has been set up where 100% of all money donated goes straight to the Yorkhill Children’s Foundation or use the donation widget below.

No matter how much you donate, it all makes a difference.

Christmas…

& New Year are over….

& so is overdosing on amazing food! When else can you get away with stuffing your face like a squirrel full of chocolate for breakfast? or eat until you physically cannot move?

Don’t get me started on all the alcohol. I don’t think I have ever drank as much in my life as I did on New Years Eve. Champagne, Red Wine, Vodka/7up, French Martini’s.. the lot. I drank, I mixed, I got drunk. I regretted it. Cue the 3am toilet run, vomiting my guts up, wrestling with party poppers that were tangled around me & passing out fast asleep hugging a towel.

Was it worth the monster hangover the next day? Hell yes. But please don’t let me smell or look at alcohol for at least the next 2 months. I don’t think my liver could cope!

Happy 2012!