Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Stable, Southampton - review

The Stable Southampton
southampton soton blogger
places to eat southampton
The Stable restaurant review

The Stable

As I mentioned in a recent post, Southampton has seriously upped its foodie game in the past few years – with multi-million pound investments to various parts of the city, the new restaurants mean there’s such a huge choice if you’re looking for somewhere to eat. Though I’m usually found eating in the West Quay Watermark, we ventured up to Guildhall Square last week to eat at The Stable. This is known as the Cultural Quarter, and there are some lovely restaurants as well as my favourite coffee house (Mettricks) up here. I’ve been to The Stable before, but we were invited to try their new menu recently and we very gladly booked a reservation.

The Stable is a very refreshing restaurant experience – there are a lot of places serving food in a deliberately American style, whereas The Stable focuses on staying local. Starting nearby in Dorset, the simple concept was born – fine food and cider. It’s a brand that has grown across the South and it stands out from the rest – it really does have a very friendly atmosphere and the food is all locally sourced. So, depending on the restaurant you visit, the ingredients will be different – and it’s a refreshing, honest approach to food that I love. The new menu includes some additions that started out as specials, and were so popular, earned a permanent residence. They’ve also added new pizzas, salads, charcuterie and cheese sharing boards as well as the arrival of The Stable’s first house ice cream – made especially for them by a farm based in Devon.

The Stable in Southampton has an industrial mixed with countryside living feel – high ceilings and elements of metal mixed with wooden walls and plants. We were seated on the mezzanine level and it was perfect to be able to look down at the people below, as well as being a little more separate from those who were just coming for a drink. The amount of choice of Cider on tap is certainly a cider-lovers dream, and definitely a selling point of the place. The Stable seems like a place you can come for drinks and a chilled out atmosphere, as well as place you can come with family if you fancy some pizza. After perusing the menus (the lettering, styling and touches of gold foil were much appreciated by us designers), we ordered at the bar. The queues cleared very quickly with the staff behind being very efficient, and we were back at our table in no time at all.

We started with the garlic bread, and goodness, this was far too easy to eat! It was really thin and crispy, slathered with delicious garlic butter. Graham also had an Ashridge Devon Gold cider, which he said was lovely and very smooth.
I’ve eaten a pizza there before, so this time I opted for the The Lamb Bamb Boogie pie. It was delicious and the pastry very light and crumbly, served with a mountain of salad and some chunky potato wedges. Graham had ‘The Big Jerk’ pizza, which is a new addition, and loved it – jerk-chicken, bacon, red peppers and mozzarella on a thin base.
For pudding, we tried the new ice cream. You can choose three scoops from their five different flavours, as well as the choice of crushed nuts or raspberry coulis toppings. I’m a huge fan of ice cream and it’s the perfect pud if you fancy something sweet to finish on that isn’t heavy.

For a Friday evening, it wasn’t packed out but pleasantly ‘buzzing’ – basically, the perfect size for everyone to do their own thing. Whether you’re after a night out necking some cider (they offer cider tasting boards which are great if you fancy trying a few) or just a romantic evening eating some good food, The Stable is a great bet.

A big thanks to The Stable for inviting us to try their new menu.

Pizza at The Stable
new menu
southampton food review blog

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Top Scrapbooking decorations

top scrapbooking decorations

You all know I love scrapbooking by now (you can find my past posts right here!). If you’re new to scrapbooking and have visited Hobbycraft, The Range or some online stores before, you may feel a little overwhelmed. There is A LOT out there. There are so many paper collections, embellishments, a huge variety of standard things like adhesives, as well as stamps, inks and all the things in between! I thought I’d write a post today sharing my favourite pieces that I use for decorating my scrapbook layouts.

scrapbooking essentials uk

Letter Stickers

Letter stickers are one of the things that I hoard and seem to have the most of! My collection is quite large but you definitely don’t need lots. Hand lettering makes great titles, so don’t feel pressured to use stickers for everything. If you’ve visited Hobbycraft, they have a rack of letter stickers called ‘Thickers’. These are £4 a pack so pretty expensive, and I only buy these when they’re on sale. Homesense and TK Maxx are a great place to look for cheaper stickers, as well as Hobbycraft’s own range. I even found some ‘Thickers’ in B&M for less than half the retail price so keep your eye out. You won’t know the brand once they’re on a layout anyway! Some of the cheaper letter stickers have adhesive that may wear off, so I’d recommend attaching them with an extra bit of glue.


Again, you’ll find a huge range of these in most shops. Instead of using letter stickers for titles, stamping is a great alternative. I have a few different alphabets with different fonts and all varying sizes so they can be used as large titles or subheadings. If you’re using wooden block stamps, remember that it can be a little tricky to get everything aligned straight. Clear stamps mean you can mount the letters onto an acrylic block and create a neater finish, if that’s what you’re after.

I also love using roller stamps – usually between £2-£4 each depending on where you buy them. The sentiments are small but they are good value, and I love adding these to my Project Life spreads in particular. Generally they come with dates as well as phrases and symbols.

In terms of ink, I find cheaper inks work fine if you’re stamping on to matte paper. If you’re stamping onto a glossy finish, Stazon is an acid free ink that is less likely to smudge. Another tip if you’re using acrylic stamps, is to rub the surface with a rubber first so it takes the ink better. It gives a much better stamped result!

uk creative art blog

Project Life cards

I have a large range of Project Life cards, but they’re not limited to this purpose. You can make some lovely layouts using PL cards as decoration too! I’ve used them in grid layouts, as well as layering pieces. You can also cut them up so they’re smaller or cut around the sentiment on the card. Project Life cards generally come in a huge kit, so you’re likely to have plenty spares. That means you don’t have to be so precious with them, and it opens up a huge amount of possibilities when you see them as decoration, not just for pocket scrapbooking.

Die Cuts

Finally, my absolute favourite decorations to use are die cuts. These usually come in packs and are all cut out for you, but I’ve made my own before too. A lot of scrapbooking paper is patterned and I often fussy cut around the shapes to make embellishments (and it’s also much cheaper). I have various dishes on my desk for the smaller shapes, and then larger boxes to hold the bigger die cuts. They add instant interest to your layout and give a professional finish.

Is there anything you’d like to add to the list? Pop them down below – I never need much of an excuse to add to my growing stash!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Diner Southampton - Review

The Diner Southampton

southampton soton blogger

West Quay food review

American Diner Southampton

The Diner
West Quay Watermark

Southampton has recently stepped up its game in terms of food – the new Watermark West Quay opened late last year and the introduction of plenty new restaurants has made a world of difference. I am a huge foodie and the sheer amount of choice we have now means the new development is basically heaven! We’ve had a lot of mainly London based restaurants opening which is great and I’ve frequented Byron far too many times I’d like to admit. Franco Manca is also a firm favourite and, if you’re after great American food, ‘The Diner’ is where you’ll want to visit.

Tucked away at the end of the strip of restaurants on the terrace, and below the West Quay North entrance, The Diner sits proudly and the glowing neon signs mean you can’t miss it. It’s a lot bigger than it looks from the outside and the seating is ample – with the choice of booths as well as tables. Graham and I attended their press night last week and the food went down very well indeed.

The restaurant feels like a very trendy bar, with neon lights inside and beautiful coloured tiles. The ambient lighting and pipes and tubes that line the ceiling give a really modern, industrial feel. There is a huge amount of choice on the menu, from burgers and hotdogs, to chili, ribs and sandwiches. We had all the starters very kindly delivered to our table, with my personal favourites being the classic American tater tots and the buttermilk chicken strips. For the mains, our table was full of burgers, a side of mac n cheese, sweet potato fries and I had a ‘BCC Dog’ – a beef frankfurter topped with their chili con carne, cheese and bacon. The portion sizes are extremely generous and everything is served in those classic plastic baskets you see in the movies.

I also met Lana that night, who was there with her brother Max, and we had a great night chatting and talking blogging. It’s always so nice to meet someone new and gel instantly! We were served by Callum who was wonderful – he let us take our time when ordering and was attentive and polite. A big thumbs up to all of the staff, who were extremely friendly and helpful all evening.

We popped behind the bar at one point and made our milkshakes which was so much fun! Rebecca helped us out here, and we could make any concoction we liked. The Diner uses ice cream made in Italy and have so many flavours available, including Hazelnut, NY Cheesecake, banana and peanut butter. We made our shake with vanilla, banana and strawberry, mixed with malt and it was the perfect finish to our meal. I also may have had a chocolate milkshake during the meal which I can confirm was delicious too!

I’d definitely recommend The Diner if you’re after some classic American grub with a huge amount of choice – perfect for families and foodies alike. The prices are very reasonable, especially as the portions are massive. I’m looking forward to heading back and trying the pancakes I spied on the menu!

A huge thanks to the PR team for organising and inviting us along.

the diner

southampton blogger uk

the diner milkshakes

southampton lifestyle blog

the diner review

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Current favourites


It’s been a good while since I shared some of my favourite things here on the blog, so I thought I’d share some on this dull Sunday. I always struggle a bit in February so here I am focusing on some of the good stuff.

Stephen Toeking

I know socks probably aren’t high on the agenda of most people’s favourites list, but this pair is particularly special. I have a little giggle every time I wear these and they honestly brighten my morning when I put them on. I love the constellation print and the pun, as well as being in total awe of the great Stephen Hawking – wearing these don’t fail to put a smile on my face. ChattyFeet have a huge range of hilarious pun-based socks and socks make a great add-on present – worth a look if you fancy treating someone or yourself.

A Man called Ove
Fredrik Blackman

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this. I thought it might be a quick, light-hearted read that was funny and not much else. But boy, did this take me by surprise. It took me a little while to get into the book but once I did, I was hooked. It is both heartbreaking and funny – it is such a sweet story and I so recommend adding it to your reading list. I cried my eyes out when I finished reading it and if you’ve just started, I recommend persevering. Ove is a character that you’ll dislike but you’ll understand his reasoning as you get through his story. I love that you find out about his past and it definitely made me wonder about other people – why they are the way they are and the past experiences you don’t see.

Becoming a Successful Illustrator
Derek Brazell & Jo Davies

2017 is the year I really want to focus on my illustration, and it’s something I talked about in depth in my resolutions post at the beginning of the year. I had this on my Christmas list after hearing Holly Exley talking about it in one of her Youtube videos. It is full of so much knowledge and a definite must have if you’d like to become a professional illustrator, or even if you are one already but want to expand your knowledge base. It covers the nitty-gritty things like contracts and terms, as well as the ‘taboo’ topics like pricing. It contains a lot of case studies and thoughts from artists who have just started out, or those who’ve been in the game for years. I love this book - it provides practical knowledge while still giving offering endless inspiration.

Eau de Parfum

Another Christmas present and my new favourite perfume – the classic ‘Chloe’. This one is in a different vein to the mostly creative things I share on my blog, but a favourite none-the-less. I find wearing this soothes me and helps to calm me down – a must if I’m feeling particularly anxious or stressed. I love that scents can do that and, though this one is on the pricy side of perfume, I know it’s a classic and one I’ll wear for years to come.

Art Journaling
and being creative

Finally, a not so surprising favourite if you’ve been reading the blog lately. If you read my last post on how to create an art journal, you’ll know I LOVE art journaling, though had fallen off the wagon in recent years. The great news is; I’m back on it and absolutely loving it. I’ve been gluing and collaging in this yellow book like mad recently and have been trying something new – more like mini scrapbook layouts without the pressure of filling a large 12x12 sheet. It’s so relaxing for me to vent and fill these pages with random thoughts that might not make any sense, but is good to get out anyway. I’m sure I’ll share some spreads soon, but if you’d like to look at all the journals I’ve created in the past, here’s a link for you to have a look at all my journaling posts.

If you’ve shared some recent favourites on your blog, please share them in the comments below! I love discovering new reads and being nosy about other people’s likes – even better if it’s something I’ve been wanting to buy and basically need the enabling. Have a great week! xo