Friday, 22 September 2017

Positivity Inc | Yoga and Mindfulness

The clocks haven't gone back yet and the darker nights are already creeping in, I have been digging out all of my favourite jumpers from hiding and starting to wrap up. Today is the Equinox and the first day of Autumn, the spiritualists of the world can find balance in themselves and all around them at this time of year. An equinox occurs when the sun passes directly over the Earth's equator, resulting in a day and night that are equal in length.

Eve from Positivity Inc treated us to a seasonal hatha flow last night. Using a mantra of letting go, just as the trees are with their leaves, in order to celebrate the occasion and also wrap up the last of their 'Summer of Yoga' sessions. During the whole of the Summer holidays, Positivity Inc provided welcoming, nourishing yoga sessions for families and locals to enjoy. Me and my daughter joined in, both inside and outside of the Isla Gladstone on many occasions, which was an amazing location to promote positivity and wellness.

Luckily, some of these wonderful sessions will continue and boy have they been popular. It is really great to see so many people, from all different walks of life, treating themselves to such a life enriching activity.

Treating myself to these sessions goes a long way in reducing stresses in my everyday life and I am a big fan of the current movement, which is helping children to get involved and also teaching them important coping mechanisms for life. Positivity Inc are very inclusive for children and they show them that yoga can fun and enjoyed by people of all ages. My daughter has now developed a deeper interest in yoga through attending these sessions.

I decided to ask Eve if she would mind me asking her a few questions, in order to share with you in this post and she happily agreed. Read the mini interview below.

Starting at the beginning, how long have you practiced yoga?
I began yoga 15 years ago in order to cope with situations in my personal life. I had emotions and upset from my mothers passing, which I couldn't let go of. Yoga classes and restorative massage helped me through this difficult time.

How long have you been teaching yoga for?
I have been active with community/youth work for about 25 years. However I only became a yoga teacher and fully qualified 2 years ago. I also done night classes back when the youth centre I was working with received funding for yoga sessions, during the time Liverpool was Capital of Culture 2008.

Do you ever find that by providing so many classes, you miss out on being on the other side of the mat?
No, I still participate in lots and LOTS of yoga sessions myself. Teaching is not my practice.

Do you have any tips for people who find it hard to connect with their breath during the yoga session?
I would say that it will come with practice, keep trying, focusing on your breath. We are used to breathing from our chest, so it takes time to develop the skill of abdominal breathing. Try not to judge yourself during your practice and keep trying to slow your breathing down.

Finally, aside from yoga what else would Positivity Inc recommend to promote positivity in our everyday life?
Mindfulness is the key to developing a positive mindset, this includes practicing yoga and meditation. Being in the present moment and actively eating well will help too.

Thank you to Positivity Inc for spreading joy and providing the community with a warm feeling this Summer and into Autumn, services like this won't go unappreciated!

If you'd like to join in this Autumn, head over to Stanley Park Tuesdays 9:30am and keep an eye on their Facebook page for other upcoming events. (I've heard there are some pretty exciting ones planned!!)

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Social Paranoia by Dane Cobain - Book Review

Social Paranoia: How consumers and brands can stay safe in a connected world.

With the consistent use of social media in many of our everyday lives, it is easy to become overwhelmed and even paranoid due to the many reasons which Dane Cobain covers throughout this book. From trolling, going viral, doxing and everything in between. It is a great read for brands and also bloggers, who often put themselves out there a little more than normal. When your reputation is at stake, a little knowledge goes a long way...

Even for those of us who don't experience paranoia from their online usage, you can still benefit from reading this. As it can only a good thing, to be reminded of what could go wrong, in order to create prevention strategies. Strategies which could help to keep you out of trouble in future or give you the knowledge of how to alleviate the situation.

What I enjoyed most about Social Paranoia was finding out about social media cases, which I had never known about before and gaining an insight on how the user - brand or consumer, could have or did, deal with the issue. A few of the cases, I had already heard about but I still gained more insight regarding them. Although the book is very survey/statistic driven, it still has the personal touch from the Author Dane Cobain, who also shares a few of his own stories and opinions along the way too.

Click below if you'd like to buy a copy for yourself.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Autumn chicken and barley soup recipe

As soon as the temperature drops and the leaves begin to fall, I pull my slow cooker out of hiding and then begin to home cook my favourite Autumn warmers. The chicken and barley soup which I turn to is a recipe handed down from my grandparent and it is the perfect comfort food.

In the slow cooker, it is simple to make and only really requires a bit of chopping and prepping then the rest makes itself. I leave mine on from the early morning until late afternoon and can get stuff done in between.

Please don't let the ingredient specifications put you off, as often things can be exchanged or weights altered and still turn out just fine. I use varying quantities each time because I'm a kind of a throw in as you cook, type of chef but the ingredients below do work out perfect!

(Around 6-8 servings)

750g chicken drumsticks
300g pearl barley
2 large onions (or 1 onion, 1 leek)
300g celery 
Half a tin of tomatoes (juice drained)
 500g carrots
1 chicken stock pot 
1 tbsp mixed herbs
1 tsp thyme
4 bay leaves 
A sprinkle of pepper and gravy salt
Boiled water to cover veg and chicken (Around 2.5 - 3 litres in my slow cooker)

Add chicken drumsticks raw to the slow cooker, then cover with the boiled water. I set mine to high, which means it would take around 4-5 hours. You can cook yours longer on low if needed. Next peel and chop the carrots, wash your celery sticks and chop them too. Then chop the onions and add all of the veg to the slow cooker, including the drained tinned tomatoes.
Finally add the stock pot, herbs, extra thyme, bay leaves, pepper and gravy salt and mix them all up.

After around 3 hours on high, or 6 on low take out the chicken drumsticks. Now you will need to remove the skin and discard that. Next take all of the meat off and put it back into the slow cooker, being careful to check for any bones left in. Sometimes the ends of the chicken drumsticks can fall off, so double check! Discard all of the bones, then give the soup with the meat added back in another good stir and leave to finish off cooking.

If you feel that the soup has thickened too much at any point just add more water. I also like to hunt down and remove my 4 bay leaves at the end, just like my mama told me to. However this is not essential.

Serve with fresh bread or even better a crusty roll or baguette.

Thanks for visiting and I hope that you will enjoy this recipe as much as me.


Friday, 15 September 2017

VR-Here Review | Liverpool


If you follow my social media channels already, then I've probably already spammed you with the fact that I visited VR-Here yesterday. I was really excited to get the real VR experience after trying the google cardboard version at home. VR stands for virtual reality and in my opinion, it is one of the most impressive advancements in the gaming and tech industry. However, the price tag and space requirements necessary for a decent set up, don't make it practical to have at home.

That is where VR-Here come into the equation, providing their VR venue to customers in varying time slots. Whether you are a new gamer or well seasoned one, you will feel welcomed at VR-Here and they will provide you with any support that you may need with a smile.

I met Bryan who works there at the arcade and also through out their social media channels and you can sense his enthusiasm and knowledge within this field easily. He kindly made me the video above and these can also be made while you enjoy your experience there too.

After being given an introduction to the software and how to use the control pads, I began by trying 'The Blu' which is a life like, interactive aquarium. I was wowed by the way the fish instantly began to swim away as my arm brushed nearby and it felt really natural too. The dimensions were evident and brought the experience to life completely. I could have stayed in there for a while however I wanted to move on and make sure that I tried out the other games before leaving.

Next I played raw data on co-op mode and this included us teaming up and annihilating waves of killer robots, who were hellbent on destroying us. It felt pretty epic to be immersed into this scenario and got my adrenaline pumping for sure!! 

Finally, I jumped into the green screen booth in order to do a recording of me playing Space pirate training. I love how the video turned out even though I am an amateur to the VR world. 
It didn't take me long at all to become familiar with the pads and I enjoyed the time spent there thoroughly. It was an intense, immersive and realistic experience.

Why not visit their website and find out more about them?

Thank you to VR-Here for inviting me and also featuring me on their vlog above.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Starting Reception

It's official the kids are back in school and this year my daughter has started in reception. She began nursery aged 2 and then she moved to the school nursery aged 3, during which time I began college courses in order to build up my CV. So she has spent just over a year in the school already and is used to being in the swing of things so to speak.

Before July she attended nursery three days a week, this will now go up to five mandatory days. I have to admit that during nursery I enjoyed being lax now and then by letting my daughter stay off at times when I thought she was too tired to go in. Sometimes she wasn't necessarily unwell. I will definitely miss the slightly more, laid-back feeling of nursery and I'm sure Mia will too.

However, we are both still excited for the new journey. Two days in and it is going smoothly so far. I am expecting Mia to be unable to keep her eyes open come 6pm on Friday though, after her first full, five day week.

Although costly, shopping for her first full school uniform was really excited. I loved getting those first photos of her dressed smartly from head to toe.

After a little peruse around town, I opted for these short sleeved shirts from Matalan. These are minimal crease material and feature a velcro top button, that children can easily open or close themselves for comfort.

We are practicing each day to get her used to the uniform and the buttons are still a little too fiddly for her, i think this will become easier once the fabrics loosen on her shirt and cardigan.

Click here to shop these shirts

 I also took her to Clark's for a shoe fitting, as I felt that making sure that she had the best shoes to begin her new school year, would start her off well and comfortable.

I have had zero complaints about her uniform so far, win!

 We chose a pair from the lights collection, Trixi Beau black patent shoes.

These have a button on the side, which makes the shoes light up with each step. Not very noticeable now but they will more than likely show up better, as the darker nights and mornings begin to draw in. I will probably write a full review on these, once Mia has had a good wear out of them. No scuffs yet! Mia also decided last minute that she wanted packed lunches, so I quickly bought a My Little Pony packed lunch box.

Lastly, I was advised to visit a Facebook page for bobbles, to match her uniform and I was genuinely impressed with what they had to offer. Bows Bobbles N Clips sell super cute ribbon bobbles and clips with your chosen schools colours and badge on. I have already received one order from them and I am very likely to reorder in future too.

Happy Autumn all. 

Thanks for reading and leave me a comment if you managed to get this far! :)

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Alma De Cuba Review | Liverpool

 After being given a warm welcome by Sabre Beauty, me and my sister joined a bunch of local bloggers upstairs in Alma De Cuba and had an intimate dinner together! Alma De Cuba set the scene by personalising each of our places with our names and cute little goody bags too.

This small touch got us all chatting about the cosy layout, and broke the ice well. While we were busy choosing from the food and drink menu, live music played in the background and each song choice was spot on, I loved the relaxed mellow vibes. 

Having visited prior to this event, for their petal show and cocktails downstairs, it was lovely to see this other softer side of the Alma De Cuba experience.

 Firstly, I decided on my cocktail which was With Love From Poland, this consisted of Vodka, blackcurrant liqueur, honey liqueur, fresh raspberries, fresh lemon juice, agave syrup and apple juice. It accompanied my meal well and I could have continued drinking them all night, if I hadn't needed to make an early-ish departure!

For my starter I ordered sweet potato and chorizo croquettes and to be fair, as soon as I clapped eyes upon the menu, I knew that these were going to be the chosen ones. My love for the sweet potato is verging on obsession. These croquettes were melt in the mouth, amazing! I almost forgot that they had chorizo in too because they were so velvety, inside their crisp exterior. The dips surrounding them were a lovely addition and left me needing to add zero condiments myself, so after their mini photo-shoot I just dug in.

Next up I chose the Okra and Coconut curry and I was a little worried that the coconut flavour could be over powering or perhaps not to my taste, however I was not disappointed. The fragrant notes and spicy after kick were super tantalising, for my taste buds. 

Although the portion looks reasonably sized, I did struggle to finish it all, possibly due to the generous starter. I definitely didn't have the space for dessert but I had my eyes on the key lime pie and would probably order the starter, then dessert, on my next visit.
 The building which is now home to Alma De Cuba used to be St Peters Church and I think that it is fantastic that they incorporate that, into their decor and throughout their branding. From Gospel choir brunches and stained glass windows to their 10 commandment imitation.

A big thank you to Alma De Cuba for hosting this evening, I'm a big fan of this venue and have had a great time here on multiple occasions! I'm super eager to visit for their Voodoo night, which sees their usual petal show go dark and disturbing, with their amazing contortionists, dancers and drummers!

Friday, 25 August 2017

RopeWalks Food & Drink Lounge Review | Liverpool

Chicken wings and nachos

Just one look at the indulgent, food pictures from my meal at RopeWalks will tell you that I had a good food day. My dinner guest, my daughter and myself all enjoyed a mid week treat, sampling the menu. We loved the nostalgic atmosphere which was complimented by antique decor and furnishings and we all felt that RopeWalks was welcoming to families. I have found that dining out with children is not always plain sailing, so for us a cosy atmosphere is ideal. RopeWalks medley of sophisticated food and laid back surroundings, is a match-made in heaven for parents who often, can't dine out alone.

It was #NationalBurgerDay and RopeWalks had a fantastic offer on, £7 burger and chips. In fact, it seems that they often have great deals on. Another one, I noticed which is on-going is a free dessert for anyone who snaps their meal and posts it to social media, then shows their waiter. A fair trade, if ever I heard one.

For starters we ordered nachos with toppings and hot chicken wings. I love nachos with jalapenos and plenty of dip and these ones ticked both of those boxes. My daughter even joined in with a few of the plain ones, her food taste is currently, quite unadventurous and she was more interested in starting her main course!

Although it was the day of burger eating, I just knew that I couldn't manage it. It was an odd day for me and I don't always choose the lightest option on the menu, however this time I opted for a simple smoked salmon and bread. Each slice I smothered with fresh butter and laid a slice of salmon and salad atop. It was fulfilling and wholesome.

My dinner guest enjoyed their burger and found that it had the spicy kick, which they were desiring. I did get food envy at the sight of it, come on it's hard not to get food envy when a burger is sitting opposite you in all it's glory.

My daughter chose the chicken goujons and chips, now, she is quite the chicken nugget connoisseur and I can happily report that there was not one complaint from her, which was music to my ears. If my child enjoys her food, eating out, then my meal is even more satisfying as a result!

At the end of our mains, once she had 'finished' I had a nibble on one of her goujons and I thought they were good quality and tender.

(Wonky, red sauce love heart courtesy of me. Since Mia left an empty space, where she didn't want beans!

 Since I had eaten light, there was no doubt about me having a dessert. 
I ordered strawberries and cream and was slightly confused when a cocktail of cream arrived next to two raspberries, however I flowed with it and ended up in dessert paradise!

The creme was pleasantly sweet, moreish and rich.
Accompanied by biscuits and syrup.

I even posed with it, I was that happy with it.
RopeWalks found their way to my heart with the last course and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to their restaurant. They are just down the round from Liverpool central and also close by the Liverpool Echo Arena, so if you find the time, do pop by and indulge.