A Happy Hawaiian Christmas to you all…

‘Tis the season and all that! I was lucky enough to be invited along to Kua Aina in Victoria Square last night for a Christmas party with a difference. There was festive cheer by the bucketful but have you ever celebrated Christmas in Hawaii? Well, that is exactly what we did last night! I had never been to Kua Aina before despite my London friends telling me about their trips to the Goodge Street and Carnaby Street branches and making me jealous with their tales of gargantuan burgers with toppings to die for. So needless to say I was very excited to get an invite to try it out for myself. I am always ready to tackle a giant burger.

I met my burger buddy, Lynne #kindofabigdeal from Eating Ideas and off we went. I am generally really good at finding places but Victoria Square mostly has me stumped. If it’s not Urban Outfitters or Topshop then I don’t know where it is. Luckily Kua Aina is in a prime location on the restaurant level and was literally the first place we saw as we got off the escalator. (Once, I got lost in the carpark in Victoria Square for 35 mins and a carpark attendant felt sorry enough for me that he helped me look for my car and delivered me there using a golf cart, it was like magic.)

We were warmly welcomed and given our very own lei’s which I had secretly been hoping we would get ALL DAY, no joke. Mine was the best and had major lei volume. I was very lucky. We then got to try some samples from the Christmas menu. The turkey, bacon and brie sandwich with cranberry sauce  was my first festive treat of the year so it shall hold a special place in my heart. There was also a really great sage and onion portobello mushroom bap that I just couldn’t get enough of. Luckily I held myself back, because what happened next was outstanding…

Last night was all about creating your own ‘Legendary Burger.’ There were a lot of eager beavers all ready to try their hand at creating a burger AND the winner gets their burger on the Kua Aina menu for a whole month! I know, right? Such a great prize for something so fun! We inspected the table of possible toppings and I was so excited. Chocolate? Peanut butter? Curry? Horseradish? MARMITE? On a BURGER?? Oh you had better believe that I was going to make SUCH a treat.

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Potential toppings…

I decided on jalapeño, cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, marmite, horseradish and peanut butter on a beef patty on a golden seeded bun which I then called the ‘Linds Liked That’ Burger. Okay, so the name had zero originality. BUT you have to agree my toppings were definitely original. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. However, there must be a little bit of a Heston Blumenthal in me because the burger was GORGEOUS. Lynne also created a pretty major avocado / halloumi dream burger that was a hit.

Everyone loved their burgers and the sample of the delicious Mince Pie Milkshake to wash it all down with. I was even more excited when I learned that all of the milkshakes at Kua Aina could be made ‘hard’ with a shot of liqueur – I’m definitely getting rum in that bad boy when I go back.

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I would most definitely suggest that you consider a Christmas celebration (or any kind of celebration to be honest) at Kua Aina. The food is second to none (check out the Christmas Menu) and the restaurant itself is ideal for parties and for families – bring your appetites as you will most definitely want to try a little bit of everything! A huge thank you to Ed and Paddy from Kua Aina and of course to Brittany and Julie from Massive PR for the invite and not forgetting she’s #kindofabigdeal, Lynne for a fab evening!

Let me know where you are planning on having your festive frolics so I can gatecrash. Just kidding…… or am I…….

 

A week in the life of Linds…

 

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Along the Lagan Towpath…

You could be 100% forgiven for thinking I wasn’t going to post this week but HERE I AM. This week has been super busy and full of good times with chums so I believe that in itself is worthy of a blog post.

The Lovely Lynne (Eating Ideas) and I met for a catch up and a walk along the Lagan Towpath. I actually didn’t even know it existed apart from when I heard about it on the news for high profile happenings of a ‘romantic nature.’  Generally I am a lone walker, but there is so much to be said for walking with a friend. We walked right up to the Lock Keepers Inn and spent some time being shown around the Cottage and the barge by the lovely volunteers there. It was pretty impressive that there were 12 people living in that tiny cottage. I felt that I had to continually duck even when looking around the 2 rooms that are open to the public. Lynne became my PA for that time and we got some fun pictures

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Of course I was absolutely DELIGHTED when I heard Lynne ask the lady on the barge if I could put on the costume for some photos. It was then that I was able to share with Lynne the fact that I have an extensively large skull. Thankfully I did not live in the time of tiny hats or else everyday would have been spent at a jaunty angle. We then dropped into the Inn for some lunch before we braved the walk back to the car.

The next day was the annual “Take Mum to The Market Day” – have you all been to the Continental Market at City Hall? If not, for why? This year’s is amazing. I had been already with my amaze cousin and MiniFramps on Saturday so I had a sort of plan of attack, which of course went straight out the window. I bumped into the Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill while vying for some testers of cheese. She remembered me which was lovely. On reflection, when she last saw me I was once again hovering near a selection of cheese so maybe it was the situation rather than me that she actually remembered. Mum missed my big moment as she had been distracted by some incense houses. It was lovely to spend some time with Mum outside of the house and the Abbeycentre. I can also say with 100% certainty that I will be back at least another 7 times before it shuts on 22nd December.

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I went to The House of Vic-Ryn on Thursday to meet Spalison for coffee. She had the wee little ones with her which was lovely for me as I got to spend a lot of time putting Snapchat filters on Teddy. It takes very little to amuse me. This week, Spalison was going to a charity fundraising event for Children’s Cancer and the lovely manager at Flame on Howard Street had kindly donated a £30 voucher for their auction. This was passed over mid snapchatting and crazy chasing. It was almost eaten but we avoided that narrowly.

On Friday, I went to The White House on the Lisburn Rd to get my teeth whitened. That was quite the first. It was exceptionally quick and easy and I was happy with the results. I would totally recommend it. I wish I had before and after shots. The good thing is that the results were noticeable enough for me to be happy but not OH MY GIDDY AUNT enough for people to become scared/blind. I am going to go back again for another blast at it as I actually enjoyed having an hour to watch TV and nothing else.

During the time I was watching TV (because there was nothing on tbh) I started to think about this flaming trash heap of a year. In fact, although some really terrible things have happened and although I have had to close doors for my own good, I have landed on my feet in many ways.  My outlook has shifted somewhat. My skills of re-evaluation are en pointe. Instead of looking for the negatives (because believe me, they don’t need to be searched for) I look upon the positives, or at least I try to. When you list the negatives all out and you are still waking up each day and doing something, whatever it is, then you are winning. Sometimes I still hate the world, I think it’s normal for that to happen every now and then. But when I really look at it, I don’t think I would be as grateful for everything had the hard times not happened.

Let me know what you have been up to this week? I am nosey and also genuinely interested in your activities. buh byyyyeeeeeee xx

A week of indulgences…

Well hello, I hope you have all been engaging in wonderfully pleasant activities since we last met. I say that because I feel minutely guilty that I have been reeaallly taking care of myself this week. Although I don’t actually feel guilty at all because we each deserve to look after ourselves in whatever form that may take.

So, you all read my first ever hairdresser experience? Well since that I have been treating myself like I’m the business. On Wednesday I went to visit one of my dearest friends. His name is Ryan and he is amazing. We knew each other from my bar hopping days by sight alone but we fell in love when we saw each other at the opening night of Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet Tour over in Cardiff. If you have been following my Twitter you will have noticed much Madonna this week. You’re welcome. Anyhoo, he saw I’d been a tad down in the dumps and came to the rescue with a suggestion of “Madanna Cancerts on the sofa” round at his.

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Ryan is the most dedicated Madonna fan I know and our afternoon was AMAZING. He is also completely dedicated to his friends and I am lucky enough to be one of them. He introduced to Malbec wine which was a surprise bonus, as was the Madonna T-Shirt I am expertly modelling in the candid shot above. He works at Made In Belfast in the Cathedral Quarter so you should all definitely go there and show him some love.

Then on Thursday I went back to my newest favourite place Raw Food Rebellion on the Lisburn Road with The Mighty Spalison and her littlest bub, Teddy (who was exceptionally well behaved, he must not take after his mother.) They have changed their lunch menu and oh, how we dined. I got the Spanish White Bean and Tomato Stew (which was to die for) and the Snickers Cheesecake. Both courses were seriously gorgeous and tasted better than the majority of the processed food I have been forcing down my neck for 35 years. I had to steal the pics from RFR’s Facebook because I ate so quickly there was no time for photos.

Ps I was back again today and had mega lols with Emma and Bronagh. The food is gorgeous and the staff are so lovely. I don’t know why we are all not there on a daily basis tbqh….

So now we come to the biggie. Today, I had my first ever facial. Yes, once again at 35 years old I have never had a facial. I have had the same skin care routine since I was about 15 which involves face wipes and not much else. The horror.

I decided to try The Beauty Company on Montgomery Street just around the corner from The Garrick (I can generally place most venues by the closest bar.) I knew I needed a proper initial facial so I asked for info via their contact form on the website and got a super speedy and detailed response that filled me with confidence so I booked an appointment. When I went in I was greeted by the lovely Hannah who made me a brew (extra points) and asked me to fill in a skin questionnaire which was extremely detailed which I was happy to see. I mean, this is my FACE. I can’t hide it from view if things go tits up.

The facial room itself was SO gorgeous. Pardon the awful picture but I was so relaxed I could hardly lift my phone. I would have been happy enough to just pay full whack to lie there for the hour but no, I was all about experiencing a facial.

Hannah explained what she needed me to do which was ensure my shoulders up were uncovered and get into bed (I know, I was SO HAPPY.) I knew I had made the right decision from the minute the treatment started. The Dermalogica oils and creams were divine on my skin and the hot towels were absolutely immense. Also included was a facial, scalp and shoulder massage which were well and truly needed. After the treatment ended Hannah explained that she would write out my prescriptive facial treatments and that I had a choice to purchase the products. At no time did I feel under pressure to buy anything but the facial was so good and left my skin feeling amazing so I bought myself a cleanser, toner and moisturiser and booked myself another appointment for 6 weeks time.

So I think we can all agree that this week has been super successful in the Treat Yourself department. I know we can’t do it all the time, but I have discovered that it is so important to take some time out for yourself. Do the things you love, with the people you love. Oh, and if you don’t know whether or not you love something but think you might if you tried it? Then GO FOR IT.

Let me know how you like to treat yourself. I need some new ideas as I am slowly conquering my pampering fears….

Linds REALLY liked this…

So, if you have read my autobi-BLOG-raphy to the right, you will know that the main intention of this blog is to talk about things that I like. Well, today I did something that I discovered I really, REALLY liked.

As a 35 year old woman with massive hair it may astound you (or not, if you have seen me up close) to know that I have NEVER in my entire adult life, been to a proper hairdressers…. THE. SHAME. I think I always had it in my head that a proper salon would be pretentious or that I wouldn’t ‘fit in’ or something equally as unproven. I suffered from chronic ‘salon fear’

I decided to bite the bullet today and thanks to my lovely friend Lynne (check her food blog out – Eating Ideas) who has smashing hair btw, I went on her recommendation to Bill Harris Hairdressing on Hill Street in the City Centre. I had walked past a couple of times before and had gazed in the window like Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol – but today I actually went inside.

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I had to steal this pic from Bill’s website as on the way out I was too busy being a hair goddess to remember to take one

I. WAS. PETRIFIED.

The feeling of fear however left me within seconds. I was greeted by the lovely Chloe who listened as I garbled at high speed about how I “have really big hair,” and “I need a colour,” and “I don’t know how to work proper hairdressers.” Luckily for me, Chloe was totally understanding and able to take me right away so I decided that before I did the ultimate chicken impression and flee the scene that I would go for it.

OMG YOU GUISE. Why did no one tell me how AMAZING it is to be properly pampered around the head area for 3 hours??? Chloe and I chatted about the colour that I wanted. Once the decision was made (which was SO much easier than I had convinced myself it was going to be, thank you Chloe) we were off. I took photos because I am self indulgent like that….

Ps my face doesn’t always look like that. Well okay, it does. I am a bit sad that I lost the photo of me under the heater but it’s probably for the best as I know my face was AMAZING. Anyhoo. Once I had the colour on I got all uber confident and decided to say hello to the man himself, the lovely Bill Harris. What an absolute gent. He was more than welcoming when I introduced myself via a disembodied voice from behind the transformer waving a giant cup of coffee. Not that I had expected anything else as Lynne had spoken so highly of him. We chatted before he went back to work on his client and I went back to imbibing my 2nd giant Americano of the morning.

So, this is the bit that I am most annoyed that everyone has kept a secret from me for so long. They MASSAGE YOUR HEAD WHEN THEY SHAMPOO?? I have never been as delighted. I now know why people go to the hairdressers so often. I was living the dream.

It was then that I realised in my garbled intro I had forgotten to ask if I could get a trim while I was there. Who goes to get their hair cut and coloured and forgets to ask for a cut? Well, me. I do.

Marianne to the rescue. I of course explained my lack of hairdressing knowledge and my inherent fear and she was more than happy to talk me through everything step by step. Not only that, the craic was mighty.

I left with a spring in my step and I honestly felt like a new woman. It’s fair to say that the years of random haircuts and home dye jobs had taken their toll on my barnet BUT I can say with complete certainty that my follicles were treated the best they ever have been today. I have inserted a photo so you can observe my well treated follicles….

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My hair has never been all one colour… Ps arty much?

I know I’m not on my own with “salon fear” so I am telling you, if you relate to this, get yourself down to Bill Harris Hairdressing. Not only will you have the best hairdressing experience, you will also have major craic and be so well looked after as soon as you walk in until the moment you leave. Also, the salon is in an ideal City Centre location for anyone to pop in and book an appointment.

Thank you SO much to Chloe, Marianne and of course to Bill for making me feel completely at ease. I have already booked my next appointment to go back and I can’t wait.

What do you do to treat yourself? Let me know if there is anything else I have been missing out on, like HEAD MASSAGES……

This week I changed it up…

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Greetings Earthlings. I have been somewhat silent this week which if you know me is extremely unusual and out of character. Let me correct that by offering you some words and the gorgeous picture above which I took this morning at 8.30am on my walk along Loughshore. If you haven’t been, I am telling you – you must go. It’s so beautiful and peaceful and photogenic. My Instagram has never looked better, I tell thee

So this week I changed my normal walk route and I am so happy that I did. Firstly I decided that I was just about crazy enough to take on Cavehill. Now bearing in mind the last time I went up Cavehill I had to stop at the first hill and slide my way back down, this was definitely a challenge for me. But oh my WORD – I loved it. I even loved it when I stopped for breath at the bottom of the last hill before McArts Fort and some amazingly fit man RAN past me as if he was powered by some form of engine. That man is my hero. Thankfully I was able to stop on many occasions and take “photos” which were actually just excuses to pull my lungs down from my throat. Anyhoo, if you haven’t done it already, I recommend Cavehill. Below are some of the shots I got while heaving in a horrendously unladylike fashion

Mountaineering completed, I took myself back in the general City Centre direction. It’s almost Christmas Market time so I am enjoying my unofficial supervisors post as I survey the progression of the set up as I pass City Hall everyday. I decided that the Lisburn Road has never received enough love from me. Why did no one tell me how much there is up there?? Is it some kind of secret? Well, if it is then I have discovered it like the intrepid traveller that I am. I had already heard of Camile, the highly recommended Thai restaurant from my buddy over at Eating Ideas but I had absolutely no idea how far up I was going to go so I just kept wandering. When I came across a costume shop called Rubber Johnnies I almost had apoplexy but regardless, I continued my quest.

I had been to Cafe Mauds with my friend, The Mighty Spalison before so when I saw it I decided to turn back. It was then that I discovered possibly my most favourite place. There is an amazing raw food restaurant called Raw Food Rebellion, I popped in because I felt that a smoothie would be called for given that I had eaten my body weight in pizza the previous evening (I blame Trump). I fell in love instantly. Everything about it is a dream. The decor is clean and airy and SO cute and the staff are an absolute pleasure. The fact that their smoothies are named after pop stars also made me exceptionally happy. So far I have imbibed a Jay-Z (99 problems but my health ain’t one) and a Kelis (my milkshake takes all the boys to the yard) – my plan is to go through their smoothie list and then start on the food. Even if you aren’t usually into raw / vegan / gluten free treats etc, you should definitely make Raw Food a priority to visit next time you are on the Lisburn Road.

Don’t worry Bootleggers, I have not forgotten you. I paid you a visit in the company of my abso faves and we had SUCH a day. There is only one man for me and his name is Al Capone. Well okay, more like 5 Al Capones.

Before I go I would like to share an observation. So, as I am sure you are aware it has been a tad rainy this week. Needless to say, I have managed to be caught in EVERY downpour that has happened because I am just LUCKY THAT WAY. Umbrellas are awful. Well, not the umbrellas but some of  the humans who are in control of them. You would be forgiven for thinking that umbrellas had a mind of their own. I understand that in windy conditions they can be a bit unruly. What I don’t understand is why it is MY responsibility to duck and dodge the spikes of your brolly’s when really YOU should be more in control? If this is your chosen method of protection from the rain then bully for you. I choose to put my hood up. At no time when I am wearing my hood do I feel the need to jab my fingers out into your path and eyes although I am now considering doing this as fair’s fair.

Well there you have it, have you been anywhere new or fun that I should know about or visit? Have you ever taken someone’s eye out with your umbrella? Drop me a line and let me know. LOVE YOU BYE BYE XX