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A secret burger

A few weeks ago I received a rather intriguing tweet one evening when I was getting into bed (must have been about 9pm) from TGI Friday's, asking if I wanted to know a secret.  Being the inquisitive little imp I am, I immediately replied and they asked me to tell them one of my secrets over DM before they would let me in on theirs.  Of course I can't tell you what I told them, it wouldn't be a secret then, would it?

The secret that they'd been keeping close to their chests was that they were rolling out a brand new range of handcrafted burgers, but that the pièce de résistance was a secret burger, unlisted on their menu and only accessible by saying a code phrase when ordering in the restaurant.  With Tom and I both huge burger fans, we were eager to take on the mission and taste a burger that claims to be so special it isn't even on the menu.

Last weekend we headed to our local TGIs in Poole (Tower Park) to investigate.  I ordered a rather delicious cocktail to start with - their Canada Goose; Grey Goose vodka, Amaretto, cherry brandy, maple syrup, cranberry and citrus juices.  I think it goes without saying on seeing that ingredient list that it was incredible.

TGIs cocktail TGIs cocktail

Then came the moment we'd been waiting for - when our waitress approached our table we had to surreptitiously state "We'll have what Jack's having" - to which the waitress rather excitedly revealed that we were the first to order the secret burger and that she couldn't wait to bring it over.  TGIs PR team had let the restaurant know that we were coming for a review and the lovely manager came over and introduced herself, as well as introducing the Head Chef who'd be whipping up our burger.

When the burger was brought over I think it's fair to say that we couldn't wait to dig in to the deliciousness that clearly awaited us.  Being a closely guarded secret I'm not even 100% sure of all of the ingredients, but there was a brioche bun, full to the brim with tasty fillings - I'd guess at Monterey Jack cheese (or some kind of melted cheese), beef chilli, peppers, and crispy, caramelised onions.  Served with Jack Daniels sauce on the side and their trademark chips.  I think I'd eat most things if they were slathered in Jack Daniels sauce so I was excited to see a little pot of that on the side!

TGIs burger TGIs burger

There is nothing I can type here that will describe just how good this burger was.  Tom and I descended into indiscernible groans of food induced happiness - the tender and flavoursome meat, the melted cheese, the crispy onions, all fused together to create an unimaginably amazing taste sensation.  Now I've tried several of the fancy London burger joints that generate queues around the block, as well as having visited America several times and ordered countless burgers at burger joints there (as well as it being one of my most ordered items whenever we go out for dinner) - so I consider myself to be something of a burger connoisseur, and let me go ahead and make a very bold statement which I also shared with the Chef when he came to see us afterwards - "This was one of the best burgers I've ever eaten"

TGIs burger

Just looking at these photos is making me salivate a little in memory of just how good that burger was.  TGIs is a restaurant that we used to eat out a lot at when I was younger (it was always a frequent choice on birthdays when you were allowed to pick your birthday meal) but I must admit I haven't been there quite as often over the last few years.  I can honestly say that after not only this amazing burger, but the brilliant service, we will definitely be heading back there ASAP.

Next time you're in TGIs, you must order 'what Jack's having' - you won't be disappointed!

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21

A payday wishlist

April feels like it's been a long month, and next week's payday is a particularly anticipated one.  In the last couple of weeks I've been spending money like it's going out of fashion - putting down a deposit on a new kitchen as well as having several dinners out, cinema trips, a rather hefty Next order of homeware bits and several new items of clothing.  So my bank account is now looking a little bare and there will definitely be no spending until Thursday rolls around.  This hasn't stopped me eyeing up a few items online though - I have been selling bits on Depop (or listing things I should say, not much selling going on) to try and make room for all the new clothes I want!

This anchor duffel bag is top of my list - I'm not sure if I'd use it for the gym, weekends away, or just put it on a shelf and swoon at it! It's $70 on Tnuck.com and shipping is $30 so I might have to do a little saving first.  Still, it has anchors on it so I'm pretty sold!
This dress was a recommended item when I was looking at something else on ASOS the other day - oh ASOS, you know me so well! Cute collar - check, nipped in waist - check, long sleeves - check, awesome print - check! This might have to get ordered come payday.  It's from Motel - £40.


This is less of a payday purchase and more of a potential 30th birthday wishlist addition, but it's too gorgeous not to mention.  This 88 Rue Du Rhone watch from The Watch Gallery is so classic and I love the diamond markers, now that would make a pretty special birthday present! It's £395 - but it is a big birthday right?


I am not sure if these shoes are ugly or cool, or maybe uglycool, but either way, I find myself strangely drawn to them! I've had them in my eBay watch list for a couple of weeks, payday might be the perfect time to bite the bullet and buy them, I think they'd look great with a leather jacket and skinny jeans.  On eBay - £29.99.



What's currently on your wishlist?

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Suzy Bishop

I must admit that I picked this dress because I thought it was more than a little bit 'Suzy Bishop'-esque, a la this dress (if you don't know what I'm talking about then you need to watch Moonrise Kingdom).  In true Suzy Bishop style I teamed it with my crocheted socks and cutout brogues - I nearly brought out a set of binoculars and my wicker picnic basket for the photos but I thought that might be a little too much.

Sheinside dress Sheinside dress Sheinside dress Brogues

dress: sheinside $33.33* // brogues: glamorous £20*
socks: asos £3

Just in case you wonder if I've grown two extra hairy legs, I should explain that Bodhi snuck in the last picture, he's such a little devil when we're having photos taken in the garden!

Rather coincidentally, just after we took these photos we hot-footed it to the cinema to go and see the new Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.  It was absolutely amazing, I'm so glad we caught it at the cinema as it was so beautifully shot and a must-see on the big screen.  Plus it's much easier to discreetly spend the whole film swooning over Adrien Brody in the dark of course... 

Hope you've all had lovely weekends.  We have some passes for a day at the gym/spa we used to be members of so we're off so a bit of gym and a lot of sitting in the jacuzzi and steam room.  This weekend has involved a lot of reading, eating and green tea, which has been exactly what I needed.  I've read a few great books over the last few weeks so I'm thinking of doing a separate blog post with some reviews of those if people would be interested in that?


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19

Peanut Butter Soft Scoop Frozen Yogurt Recipe

One of the best things about being an adult is when you realise that you can do things that would have been previously forbidden, with reckless abandon - such as eating ice cream for breakfast.  That's exactly what I did today, though I will caveat that statement with the fact that it was actually frozen yogurt, which we all know to be healthy, therefore a totally acceptable breakfast choice.

Joking aside, this recipe has no 'bad stuff' in it and so is a pretty guilt-free treat, whether you want to eat it for dessert, or indeed breakfast.  I love all of the Alpro Soya products and their milk and yogurts are a regular staple in my shopping basket so I was excited when Alpro got in contact to tell me about their #alprotops campaign - basically, having their yummy yogurts for breakfast with a variety of toppings such as coconut, mango, flax seed and goji berries.

#alprotops

But always one to try and mix things up a little, I decided to try out making frozen yogurt with their yummy vanilla flavour soy yogurt.  And, being one who would eat peanut butter with every meal given half the chance, I decided to throw that into the mix too.  Behold - peanut butter frozen yoghurt.

Peanut Butter Frozen Yoghurt

Ingredients

Two cups of Alpro Soya Vanilla Yogurt
1/2 cup of Alpro Soya Milk (almond milk or hazelnut milk would also work - in fact any milk!)
1/2 cup of peanut butter/almond butter etc - I used Morrisons Wholenut Peanut Butter as it's sugar free
1/4 tsp of salt
1/3 cup of sugar replacement - I used Fruisana fruit sugar, you could also use Stevia

Instructions

Easy peasy - simply blend all of the ingredients (I did this using my smoothie maker) and then pour into an ice-cream maker.  I did this in an ice-cream maker and then put in the freezer but you could put it straight in the freezer if you don't have an ice cream maker.  It makes a real soft scoop frozen yogurt (my favourite).  I added pecans as a topping and can confirm it was YUM.

The frozen yogurt is utterly delicious and I will definitely be whipping up another batch! You could also make this with plain yogurt and add vanilla extract if you don't have vanilla yogurt.

Peanut Butter Frozen Yoghurt Peanut Butter Frozen Yoghurt

Credit for this recipe goes to Chocolate Covered Katie - I just adapted the recipe to use the Alpro yogurt and changed some of the ingredients.

Would you give peanut butter frozen yogurt a whirl? (And would you eat it for breakfast like me?)

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8

Skinny Denim Dungarees

Tom normally takes my outfit photos, which usually involves a lot of patience on both of our parts; him clicking away and awkwardly trying to crouch down to my level so his height doesn't make me look like an ant being photographed by a giraffe, and me tentatively asking for 'just a few more', or asking for them to be re-taken when I realise my necklace is on back to front/flies are undone/hair looks crap.

So when I was in Leamington last weekend with Katy, Sarah and Char, and Katy kindly offered to take a few photos for me, I jumped at the chance.  I knew another blogger would know exactly the right cheesy poses to capture, and to do those trendy little 'detail' photos, because frankly, people need to see my watch and necklace CLOSE-UP to really appreciate them, right?

So, behold, a little photoshoot, expertly photographed by Katy.  Of course I threw in the obligatory 'cool blogger' peace sign post, but please note, I am being IRONIC.  It is an ironic peace sign pose.  Mmkay?

Dungarees
Dungarees
Dungarees Dungarees
Dungarees
Dungarees Dungarees

dungarees: ebay £22.99 // bag: primark £9.99
long-sleeved top: h&m {instore, not online} // shoes: schutz {old}

necklace: pull and bear £6.50 at asos // sunglasses: the little deer £12 {sold out}

I have worn these dungarees loads since I bought them, I was looking for a pair with a skinny leg and these are just perfect, I was so chuffed when I spotted them on eBay.  I think they'll be out and about a lot over the next few months, plus Tom worked out yesterday that you can fit an iPad mini in the front pouch (I was wearing them at the time, not him) so you can pretend you're some kind of gadget marsupial (fashionable and multi-functional is definitely my jam).  They should probably add that to the eBay listing.

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38

Happy Days 03

I realise that yesterday's post was a list of things that make me smile, and so writing one of my 'Happy Days' posts in quick succession might rather be overdoing the positivity - but as it's pouring with rain outside and we've come home from our intended few days away camping because of the crappy weather I thought it might cheer me up to reflect on the things I am thankful for rather than dwelling on the gloomy skies.  Starting with a snap I took last week, oh sunshine... where have you gone?

001. Blue skies and sunshine.  Last week, it lifted my mood so much to be able to open all the windows, let the fresh air in and and enjoy the sounds of birds singing outside in the mornings.  Hopefully this spate of rain is just a glitch and we can get on with enjoying Spring!

Kite

002. Beautifully wrapped packages (from Urban Graphic Shop - review coming soon).

Parcel

003. Swapping clothes with other bloggers at an event organised by the lovely Hannah.

Blogger Clothes Swap

004. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse - kindly sent to me by Farmaline (£29.69*) - I have been constantly covering myself in this lately, not only does it smell absolutely amazing, it makes my skin look shimmer-y, soft and smooth.  A total wonder product.

Nuxe oil

005. Climbing trees with friends - featuring Sarah, Katy and Char.  It also makes me very happy to spend time with other bloggers, but not call it a 'blogger weekender' or feel the need to think up a hashtag, because actually, it's just a rad weekend with your mates.

Treeclimbing Treeclimbing

006. Making the ultimate sausage sandwich.  Sourdough bread, organic sausages, caramelised onions, NOM.

Sausage sandwich

007. Bodhi getting an amazing present in the post in the form of a nautical striped dog bed from Dunelm Mill (Hamptons Collection Dog Bed, £19.99*).  He has barely spent any time out of it since we got it so his glum face when I took his picture really made me laugh.  Cheer up Bodhi!  I am definitely buying this cute treat jar next time I'm in Dunelm Mill, I know that will put a smile on his face!

Bodhi dog bed Bodhi dog bed
Bodhi dog bed

007. My Pinterest addiction is showing no signs of waning.  This quote I found really resonated with me when I read it, especially as I'd just read an article about Arianna Huffington's new book 'Thrive', which is about focussing on your wellbeing - slowing down, getting more sleep, meditating and disconnecting from our devices.  She recommends switching your mobile phone off every night for the hour before you go to bed.  I wonder if I could manage that, it sounds like a really nice idea and I hate my habit of scrolling through Twitter in bed! I am definitely taking note of this advice.

What's been making you happy this week? What are the little things that you are thankful for?

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17

What Makes You Smile


My smile is one of the few things I actually feel confident about when having my picture taken. It sometimes surprises non-bloggers to hear that even the most seemingly confident of bloggers, despite their ability to have their picture taken multiple times and then post the evidence on the internet, have lots of body hang-ups. I am definitely the same and there are several things I would change about myself given half the chance, and try and hide away or not think about when having my photo taken. My smile however, is one of the few things I do feel content with.

People say I'm lucky to have a 'nice smile' - which is a lovely compliment, though it was years of braces and retainers rather than luck that straightened my teeth out and meant that I stopped feeling self-conscious of my crooked teeth as a child.  So when I write now about the things that make me smile, I am writing about the things that not only rouse a little half-smile, but a big ol' toothy grin! Like this one -

Cheesy grin

Here is a little video of some things that make me do a grin...


001. Bodhi dog
002. Peppermint tea
003. Books
004. Bedtime
005. Flowers from Tom
006. Mini Eggs

And here are some more, not in the video...

007. Long bubble baths
008. Burning candles
009. Going on adventures

img credit: rainonawindowpane.tumblr.com
010.  Barbecues on warm afternoons
011. Digging my toes in sand
012. Road trips
013. Mint choc-chip ice cream
014. Netflix marathons
015. Snoozing on weekend mornings
016. Exploring with my camera
017. Slippers
018. The sound of birds singing
019. Fairy lights
020. Bike rides
021. Blog reading sessions
022. The sound of rain
023. Dusk in the summer
024. Walks in the forest
025. Fleece-y pajamas
026. Beating a personal best when running
027. The smell when it rains on a summer's day
028. Clean bedsheets
029. New Nike trainers
030. Planting flowers in the garden
031. Buying new notebooks
032. Brunch done properly (pancakes, eggs, bacon - yum)
033. Receiving handwritten letters in the post
034. Camping

img credit: rainonawindowpane.tumblr.com
035. Making smoothies (with lots of peanut butter)
036. Pretty sunsets
037. Foxes
038. Days spent with friends and family
039. Getting lots of fresh air
040. Yoga classes

What would be on your list of things that make you do a big toothy grin?

I'll let you into a little secret, even though I feel confident about my smile, I'd still like my teeth to be a little whiter! I've been using Colgate Max White One this week to try and achieve it, and am looking forward to seeing the results. Colgate Max White One Optic is the simple answer to an instantly visible whiter smile. Buy it in high street chemists or most major supermarkets, priced at around £4.49.

For your chance to win a designer handbag stuffed full of gorgeous summer goodies worth over £1000 show us What Makes You Smile by uploading your picture to Instagram using the hashtag #MAXWHITESMILE. Visit http://uk.glam.com to find out more and for T&Cs.


Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Colgate via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Colgate.

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11

Easter baking: Chocolate eggs and Hot Cross Buns

I can't say I've ever properly 'celebrated' Easter before, other than to scoff chocolate and revel in the extra days off, but something about the ending of Lent this year has made Easter feel like more of an occasion. I Spring cleaned the house on Friday, threw all the windows open and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine (before it went away today), filled a vase with daffodils and also baked and concocted some treats to be enjoyed over the weekend.  It also coincided with Tom coming home after being away for the week training, so I created a little spread on our dining table of Easter eggs, flowers, and a card for our -1 Anniversary (it was a year until our wedding day on Thursday - 362 days to go!)

As you might know by now, I'm part of a group of 'Oven Pride' bloggers, meaning that on a monthly basis we get set kitchen based challenges (and of course have the ability to leave our ovens sparkly clean afterwards!)  This month it was a very apt, Easter baking challenge - I would have got stuck into it earlier but the thought of melting chocolate to make eggs without being able to dip my finger in the chocolate seemed positively unimaginable!  This was my chocolate egg making kit - silicone moulds, chocolate for melting, and a chocolate melting pot.

Making Easter eggs

I made these on Friday morning, and breaking off a corner of the chocolate pre-melting was my first taste of chocolate in 45 days! It was rather lovely I must say - I expected an instant headache or wave of nausea but it was like I'd never stopped eating it!

The easiest way to make chocolate using a mould is to 'paint' the melted chocolate onto the mould several times, leaving the moulds to set in the fridge each time and continuing until you reach the desired thickness. To 'glue' the halves of the eggs together you just use more melted chocolate on the edges, push them together and leave them to solidify.  My eggs were not the neatest eggs ever, but it was a lot of fun (and mess!) making them.  I must admit I ended up with melted chocolate on my jeans, hands and arms, which is exactly the image I had in my head when I imagined my first day of being able to eat chocolate again after six weeks!

Making Easter eggs
Making Easter eggs

The eggs were relatively easy, and quick to knock up, but my next adventure in Easter cookery was rather the opposite! This time we were given a voucher to buy the ingredients for hot cross buns, the perfect Easter Sunday breakfast treat.  I used a Delia recipe, because, well, you can't beat Delia can you? I'm not going to include the recipe in this post but if you'd like to make some too you'll find the recipe here.

I haven't made any bread products before, that's rather Tom's domain in our kitchen, so I wasn't prepared for the amount of kneading and proving!  After its first round of kneading and proving, the dough was left to rise in our airing cupboard - then I checked the recipe and realised we didn't have enough time to give them their second proving and bake them before going out last night, so they had another stint of proving in the fridge overnight.  This morning the dough was rock hard (and freezing cold!) so back in the airing cupboard it went! I then had to separate them into individal 'buns' and - you guessed it - leave them to rise for a final time under a teatowel!  After making the crosses with flour and water they were ready for the oven.

Hot Cross Buns

Luckily for my parents, the buns being taken out of the oven coincided with their arrival at our house this morning, so they were treated to buns straight out of the oven.  Served with lashings of butter of course!

Hot Cross Buns Hot Cross Buns Hot Cross Buns

Even though they were rather a labour of love, I can honestly say that they were well worth it - they were utterly delicious! So much better than buying them from the shop, they were sticky, doughy, light, tasty and totally flavoursome.  I would absolutely make them again, though perhaps I'd make sure I got the timings right so they didn't have to spend quite so much time in the airing cupboard next time!

Thank you so much to Oven Pride for providing us with the ingredients to make such delicious Easter treats - it was so much fun celebrating Easter with such tasty treats!

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