Sunday, 29 May 2016

Quirky Homeware

I am a little obsessed with homeware, I always seem to wander off to the homeware aisles in shops to the frustration of the boyfriend. Over recent years, especially in the last year, I have been building up my own homeware essentials. I have also had some things given to me as presents for birthday and Christmas. So I thought I would create a flat lay (because any excuse for a flat lay right?) of some of the cool and quirky things I have collected over the years.

Cacti are obviously a new (well I guess not so new) must have. I picked mine up from a little independent flower stall in Manchester. It’s hard to go wrong with a cactus, they look great and they’re so easy to take care of. Another thing you might notice are the butterbeer mugs. When you go Harry Potter world in London and buy a butterbeer you can choose to buy it in a plastic cup or a butterbeer tankard, so obviously I had to get the tankard and now I get to proudly display them on my shelves (even if butterbeer did not taste that great).

I’m not sure when this memo got sent around but apparently I like frogs. Or so it would seem from my little frog collection that has come from many places, including Thailand and Barcelona. I am now worried visitors will clock them and think I really like frogs and go buy me more frog paraphernalia. I have also gained some pretty quirky salt & pepper shakers too, the pacman ones I bought for the boyfriend whilst my sister got me lightbulbs ones. My family and I tend to buy each other quirky homeware items and honestly I’m beginning to lose space to put them, I may have to move into a bigger place to accommodate them.

What quirky homeware items do you own?

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

It's Lunch o'Clock at... Crazy Pedros

In the heart of Spinning Fields where some places are mainly about ‘being seen’ it is great to find an alternative restaurant which has a more casual feel about it. Not that there is anything wrong with the fancier places in Spinning Fields but it is good to have a more laid back option. Crazy Pedro’s has the quirky décor expected now in Manchester, with posters of bands like the Stone Roses on the ceiling and unusual framed cartoons on the walls. They like to call themselves a part-time pizza parlour and a full-time party bar - as the evening goes on it turns into more of a drinking establishment with doors staying open until 4am.

However I am here to talk about their lunch menu which is on 12-3pm every Monday to Friday. This is the first in my series on lunch menus, or just eating out at lunch, throughout Manchester. Every Friday it’s a bit of a tradition at work to go out for lunch and I have been to so many places now writing up on my experiences just seemed like the next natural thing to do. If I write up on them then I can justify eating out so much to myself and my bank balance – doing it for the research obviously!

So back to Crazy Pedro’s. I first ate here when I first moved to Manchester like a year ago now and have good memories of the pizza, we went during happy hour which is between 5pm till 9pm Sunday to Monday and includes offers like £10 a pizza, £2 a slice and 2 for 1 cocktails. Such a bargain! I haven’t actually ate there since then so when someone at work suggested going there for lunch I was more than happy to give it a go. 

They offer a £5 lunch deal which in Manchester these days is a pretty good offer as more and more places seem to be matching London prices. With the £5 lunch deal you can either have 2 slices of pizza, large nachos, or a hoagie (which is served with nachos) and any soft drink for a fiver or upgrade to beer for £1 extra. I chose to go for the pizza option with a soft drink, which comes served in a red cup like you see in the American movies. 

They usually have 3 or 4 different pizza options that you can choose from including whatever special they have on that month – when I visited they had one called Dreggs – a take on Greggs with sausage roll, baked beans and brown sauce. The bases are thin and crispy which I really like for a pizza and they have an interesting selection on flavours. The one I chose was the Kimbo Slice which has pulled pork, pepperoni, salami, ham, beef soaked frank, smoked bacon and sweet scotch bonnet sauce. The sauce didn’t feel too hot for me but I do like spicy food, one of the people I was with who’s a little more sensitive to spices said it had a bit of a kick, so I guess it’s dependent upon your spice tolerance.

IMHO: I love the pizza here with its thin bases and quirky toppings. One thing I have to say is I did leave there still feeling a little hungry so I would describe this as a light lunch option but for the money you’re paying it’s a great deal to find in central Manchester. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Pretty Primark Pieces

Wow, like how good is Primark right now?! They have so many fun and stylish pieces in their SS range including slogan tees, cute skirts and all of the dungarees. It was really sunny the other day so I didn’t want to go straight home and as I work in central Manchester I thought – why not pop to the shops? Like we ever need an excuse to go shopping! I’d not been to Primark for a while so thought I’d try there first and then ended up staying for like an hour. Okay so let’s begin.

The first section I wandered towards was the homeware section, I feel like I’m magnetised towards this section every time I go in. I always subconsciously wander over then spend ages sniffing candles and touching blankets – but in a non-creepy way obviously. This French Vanilla one caught my eye as I’m loving all things with a sort of rose gold tint to it at the moment and this holder is so pretty, I love how fancy it looks for the bargain price of only £2.50! It smells ridiculously good as well.

The next thing I discovered was the black leather backpack. I have been looking for a little backpack on the high street for ages now so I was pretty excited when I found this, even more excited when looked at the price tag - £10! They’re sort of hipster looking and when you live in Manchester it helps to have a little hipster in you. Now I just need to nail down the rest of the look!

And finally the things I love the absolute most…MILKSHAKE PYJAMAS!!! My blog is called Minty Memories, originally it was called Mint Milkshake Memories (but I shortened it) as I love love love mint milkshakes and all other milkshakes really. So when I laid eyes on these bad boys I had to buy them! I think the bottoms were £6 and the top was £4. I’ve practically been living in them every night from the moment I get home from work, they’re so comfortable. Primark has some serious pyjama game going on right now, you have to go check it out. I want to buy so many more, how many pairs of pyjamas is too many?

All of this came to a grand total of £22.50, happy days. Have you picked up anything good lately?

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Browns, Manchester

I moved to Manchester last year and I’ve been meaning to try out Browns for a while now. So when they got in touch a couple of weeks ago and asked if I’d like to come along and sample their new evening menu I obviously jumped at the chance, but ya know, in a cool and aloof sort of way (hem). Browns is located in central Manchester on York Street. I love this part of Manchester, all of the architecture is beautiful and Browns does not disappoint. It’s in the converted Athenaeum which was originally the ‘imposing banking hall of Parrs Bank’. Basically it’s bloody beautiful. 

So the first thing we tried were the cocktails (naturally). We had a British Royal, which is a vodka based cocktail with rhubarb, and we also tried the Rose Garden. Personally this one is my fave, probably because it has gin in it, it tasted so sweet. I may or may not have gone up for seconds. There were a lot of canapés floating around throughout the evening, all of them delicious. I think I liked the ‘expresso style’ steak pasty the most out of the mains, it was SO rich in flavour. But the highlight of the night had to be the chocolate brownie. Oh my god it was the best brownie I have ever had ever. Like ever. I highly recommend trying this if you visit. Except I feel like I may have built it up too much now…it’s fine, you know, just your standard brownie (it’s not!).

IMHO: The food was incredibly tasty and the cocktails were worth the money – I feel like in some places in Manchester you can pay a lot of money for a shot of spirit and a bit of fruit juice but these ones looked great and they tasted great too. The prices are on the upper middle bracket price range but the food is worthy of this and every Monday – Friday from 12pm – 7pm you can enjoy two courses for £10.95 with deals on cocktails too. Bottom line is with the beautiful building, fabulous food and classy cocktails I would recommend Browns for a lovely night out.

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Disclaimer: Food & drink were complimentary but all opinions, especially those on the brownie, are my own

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Laura in the Lakes

So I mentioned in my previous post that when I am feeling stressed I like to go for a walk. Well, when I am really stressed I like to go for a really long walk. Around this time last year I had just moved to Manchester and was looking for a job which was proving to be difficult so I decided I wanted to get out of the city and go to the countryside for the day. I love the Lake District but hadn’t visited since I was a little girl so I did a little research and decided on visiting Keswick as I hadn’t been there before.

It was such a relaxing day. We arrived by mid-morning so we explored the village a little before stopping off for lunch. The village was so charming and pretty with ice cream parlours and cheese shops. We ate at a lovely little place called ‘Laura in the Lakes’ which was perfect not just because it had my name in the title but also because it had an outdoor seating area and the sun was beating down. We were sat right next to the market stalls so we got to people watch while eating. 

After lunch we went on a walk around one of the lakes. There are many lakes to choose from (six I believe) but we chose to go around Derwent Water and after some locals happily pointed us in the right direction we headed on down. We followed a winding path down to a field, after walking through the gate and around a bend the lake came looming into view. The views were breath-taking with the lake stretching on for what looked like miles and the mountains provided a beautiful back drop. It was just what I needed. We spent a few hours walking around the lake talking about nothing, stopping every now and then to skim pebbles and climb trees.

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places I have visited, it is easy to see why many films have been shot there (including the new Star Wars which I just discovered after a quick Google search was filmed where I went!). It’s so nice to leave the busy bustling city and head back to the peace and quiet of the countryside. I’m planning another trip there soon now that the weather is clearing up and I can’t wait. Have you ever been to the Lakes before?

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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Chunky Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sundays are my favourite day and what better way to spend them than binge watching Netflix and doing a spot of afternoon baking. This is actually my first attempt at baking cookies and I was really excited to make them. They are so quick and easy to make and they taste so delicious too.

What you’ll need…
1 and ¼ cup of Plain Flour
½ Tablespoon Baking Powder
¼ Cup of Butter
½ Cup of Brown Sugar
¼ Cup of Granulated Sugar
½ Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Cup of Chocolate Chips
1 egg

What to do…
Preheat you oven to 175 degrees Celsius

Melt the butter then mix in the sugar until it’s light and fluffy

Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly

Beat in the flour and baking powder

Stir in the chocolate chips

Spoon (or use your hands) to drop small rounded balls onto a lined baking tray

Bake in the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for 10-12 minutes until they are lightly golden then take them out and leave them to cool.

(Or eat them while they’re warm and gooey!)

I really wanted thick and chunky chocolate chip cookies as you can see from the pictures. I made my own chocolate chips using milk and dark chocolate (double chocolate!).

Thursday, 5 May 2016

5 Ways to De-stress

1.   Take a walk
Yes there will be no prizes on creativity for this one but I actually find it one of the most effective ways to de-stress. Just get out of the house/work/building/wherever you are and go get some fresh air. I always find things fall into perspective and I can feel the stress fading away with every step, especially when that step is into a beer garden. Each lunch time at work, especially on one of those days, I make sure I get out for a short walk even if it’s just for ten minutes. It releases endorphins and you might catch some lovely views.

2.   Exercise & eat well
When I don’t exercise and eat bad it definitely effects my mood. I begin to feel down and sluggish. On the other hand, when I regularly work out and ditch the sugar I feel better about myself, and my clothes fit a little better too…win win.

3.   Listen to your favourite Music
Put on your favourite jam (yeah I went there) and get lost in the music. Remember that album you used to love growing up? That song that you love dancing to? The one you know every single lyric to (and probably have an awesome dance routine to go along with it)? Whack it on and forget about the present for a moment.

4.   Pamper night
Who doesn’t love a pamper night. I can be so anti-social, I love spending a night in, or even a weekend in on my own. I start by having a nice relaxing Lush bath and putting on a face mask. Next I order in food, and by food I mean Dominos and plenty of it, put on my comfiest pair of pyjamas and binge watch Netflix. I get to watch all the TV shows like Gossip Girl that I can’t watch when the boyfriend is around and eat like no one’s watching.

5.   Do something fun!
One of the most stress reducing things I ever did was to go to an adult ball pool. It was an exhibition that was on at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester (I think it went all over the country too) and oh em gee it was so much fun! It was so de-stressing to act like a child again, doing back flips and taking silly pictures. The next fun things I’m planning on doing are Jump Nation and Junk Yard Golf.

What do you do to de-stress?

 What are your tricks for de-stressing? Let me know in the comment section below.
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