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8/29/2013

Ginger's Jollies: Hanover Street Social

I am really lucky. I am in a position in the job I have where I get great holidays. I have had nearly 5 weeks off over the Summer, and it has been lovely having the time off to just recuperate, get on top of my college work (I'm studying for Playwork Level 3,) and have some time for rest and relaxation after a crazy last term (if you haven't guessed yet, I work in the Education/Childcare sector.) 

Whilst I've been having lots of time off, Boyfriend has been at work. So I wanted to take him out for a surprise night out/meal, just as a bit of light relief away from all the stress. I'd never been to the Hanover Street Social before, and nearly always go past it when I'm in town, so it seemed like the perfect place to take him. 

Our bubbly treat
The inside of the restaurant was really beautiful. There were candles on every table, and the lighting really set a romantic and relaxed atmosphere. The d├ęcor was really understated and cool, and the moment you stepped inside, you just felt relaxed and comfortable. Our waiter was really friendly and smiley too, and let us take our time in looking over the menu, which just added to the general feeling of calm and relaxation of the restaurant.

I had tried to decide what I wanted to eat before we went out, but of course, as is custom with me, when we arrived at the restaurant and saw the menu, I changed my mind. It all looked too delicious for words. So as an aperitif while we looked over the menu, I ordered us a glass of prosecco each. It's kind of become a dinner tradition to have one at the start of the meal, and this one didn't disappoint! 

For my starter, I ordered beef spring rolls with hoi sin sauce. I'd never heard of having beef and hoi sin as a combination before, so wanted to see how the flavours worked together. 

My Beef Spring Rolls
The portion size was amazing. There I was thinking that I'd get a few dainty spring rolls sitting on my plate, and BOOM, I was hit with a plate of beefy goodness. (My mouth is watering just looking at the picture I took.) There wasn't any fault I could make about the spring rolls...they were jam-packed with beef, the pastry was crispy and melt-in-the-mouth, and the hoi sin dipping sauce was the perfect accompaniment. I really appreciated the presentation on the plate (well, board) too. It was really rustic-looking and down to earth and let the food do all the talking. 

Boyfriend's black pudding starter. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry....I was a bit excited to start eating. ha
Boyfriend had the Grilled Stornoway black pudding on potato hash with poached egg and grain mustard sauce to start. 

Oh my goodness! 

I'm not over-exaggerating when I say it was to die for! The dish was so visually appealing, the egg was cooked to perfection, the potato was crispy and gorgeous, and the black pudding.....Soft and rich and succulent, scrummy and sensationally beautiful. I've only recently discovered black pudding, and I honestly don't know where I've been. This starter was the black pudding of champions. And it took all my willpower not to go in for another bite. 

Then, just when I thought it couldn't get any better, it was time for the main course...

My slow roasted belly pork. How beautiful does this look?
As a main course, I had chosen the slow roasted belly pork with Stornoway black pudding, apple and ginger puree, cabbage, bacon and sage jus. 

When it comes to food, presentation means a lot to me. If a dish looks beautiful, it sets the whole premise of the food itself. And my main was absolutely stunning. I had also completely forgotten that the pork came with black pudding as well, so I got a nice surprise when I slid my knife into the meat and found it gently resting on top of the belly pork! 

It really was a testament t how well the belly was cooked when I cut through it with just my fork (I can't use a knife and fork at the same time.) The flavour was absolutely gorgeous, and I don't really think I could have been more engrossed in eating a plate of food. The black pudding in particular was an absolutely sensational addition to the main. 

I am definitely a black pudding fanatic after this visit! 

Boyfriend's "blue" steak.
Blurry photo alert! Think I was too anxious to get chomping.
As his main, Boyfriend had the steak, and ordered it "blue" with the sauce bearnaise. I'm not a huge fan of ultra-rare steak, but I did have a bite (I just had to,) and it was a really beautifully cooked steak. I think Boyfriend really appreciated the fact that the chips came in their own separate container. 

Eating our mains was the longest stretch of silence out of the whole evening. In my eyes, that's a clear sign that the food was impeccable. When you;re too busy enjoying your meal to say that much, it's always a good indication that you're on the right track to gastronomical paradise


After all that delicious food, we were far too full to order dessert. So we had an after dinner drink instead. With his steak, Boyfriend had had a glass of the House Red Wine, and it was gorgeous and smelt just like Christmas. So I ordered the same drink to have after dinner. Boyfriend ordered a brandy. 

It was the perfect way to sign off a lovely Foodie evening. 

If you haven't been to the Hanover Street Social, get down there quick. The food is amazing, the atmosphere is lovely, and you get what you pay for and so much more. Not at any point did we feel rushed, and the staff were so friendly and helpful, which really helped make the evening. It was the perfect place to go to spoil the person who means so much to me!

For more information about the Hanover Street Social, go to: 












8/27/2013

University Beauty/Fashion Essentials | Just Add Ginger


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N.B: Before I start this post, yes, these are all photographs of me at various stages in university life.

I first started university in September 2005. So next month it will be 8 YEARS since I was a Fresher... What? Yeah. I'm surprised I can remember that far back too! 

I chose to go to a university that was about 4 hours away from where I lived. This was a deliberate move as I really wanted to fully embrace my independence and learn how to do things by myself. I grew up in a pretty small town, so going so far away was a huge learning curve for me!

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Now I'm not going to lie....Freshers' week in my first year of uni is a bit of a blur. 

Not because I am so much older now that my memory is starting to go, but because there was so much going on that it has all merged into one hazy blob of fun, parties, and very sore feet! 

Some of you must be gearing up to head off to your first year of university soon, so I decided I would create my own list of Beauty/Fashion Essentials that you should definitely make sure you pack when you're getting ready to go to uni. If you are staying at home and going to university, these are definitely items/products that you should have in your beauty & fashion arsenal at all times. 

1) Concealer: This is definitely my number 1 beauty essential. Concealer is going to help you out so much during your first year - Freshers' Week in particular. You'll need to invest in a decent concealer to help cover a multitude of sins, dark circles being the main one! Even if you don't indulge in all the parties and themed nights will be going on, the whole transition to university gives you such an adrenalin rush, by the end of it, you'll be exhausted! I love the Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer. It has great coverage, and really brightens up the under eye area. One tube will last you a long time too, and at under £10, it's student budget friendly! 

(...Having mascara to hand will also help brighten up your eyes. My current high street/drug store mascara of the moment is Maybelline The Falsies Flared, I put it on, and my lashes look so thick and long. It's fantastic!)

2) A Good Pair of Heels/Party Shoes: When I want to university, I bought new everything, including heels, and that I think was my biggest mistake. I was out nearly every single night of Freshers' Week, and my feet got absolutely shredded! Even if you want to buy some new things for university for the first week, if you know you'll be going out loads, take a pair of shoes that you know are going to be comfortable. Preferably one that are well-broken in. Then by the end of the week, you'll still have the feeling in your toes. And if your old-faithful shoes get worn to death, then you can move on to your new ones! New Look is a great place to find inexpensive, pretty shoes that are perfect for university.

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3) Fancy Dress: Freshers' Week, and university parties in general are the perfect time to get creative. You don't have to splurge out a fortune on fancy dress costumes. There are opportunities to customise things, accessorise, and even make costumes for parties. I would recommend investing in one good fancy dress costume, and then stock up on taking bracelets, necklaces, and accessories that you can mix and match to make your own outfits. 

One of the themes you usually find at uni parties is "Back to School." This is where your old school uniform could come in handy. And if not, getting hold of a cheap white shirt and plaid skirt is easy enough. In the photo above, I'm at a Toga Party...I made my costume out of a really cheap white sheet and some gold sequin trim.....it was cheap as chips and looked really effective. 

4) Blusher and/or Bronzer: There is absolutely no question that you should have one, or both, of these items in your make up bag at university. A swipe of colour across your cheeks when you've been up partying/studying/revising all night will do you wonders and hide that fact that you've had practically no sleep. 

I've only recently discovered Sleek MakeUp as a make up brand, and I have been so impressed so far with the products I have purchased. I have two blushers (Pomegranate and Rose Gold,) and they are both so pigmented, and a little bit goes a long way. They are a really affordable brand too.

5) Lip Balm: Having a couple of lip balms in your make up bag is a really good idea for university. Having a selection means that you can keep one to hand in your university day bags, your purse, and your bags that you use for going out at night time. Carmex or Blistex lip balms have always been my personal preference. I love the formula, and they keep my lips looking glossy and feeling smooth! 

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If you are heading off to university soon, good luck! Make the most of the time you have there. 

It'll fly by so fast! 





8/20/2013

Visiting Monet's Gardens | Just Add Ginger

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Visiting Monet's Gardens whilst we were in France was definitely one of the highlights of my holiday! 

When you see iconic paintings, you get a pre-conceived notion of what a place might be like (at least, I do,) and when I went to Giverny, all of these ideas were blown out of the water.

I don't think I actually realised how big the garden was.To be honest at first, I didn't even realise that Monet had his own garden in which he did his paintings. I guess I just thought he found random spots of France where there was pretty scenery and decided to do a painting. But seeing all the parts of the garden that I did recognise from his art was really exciting. 

We went to the garden on a weekday, and it wasn't overly busy. There were, of course, lots of visitors (a lot of them could have been tourists,) but at no point did the crowds get overwhelming. The only place where there was a bit of a queue was outside the garden where you had to pay. Aside from that, we could walk around the garden quite happily at our own pace! 

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Monet's Gardens are definitely worth a visit. Even if you don't have an interest in Monet or art, the gardens are full of beautiful flowers and plants and is just a really beautiful and calming place to be. I've chosen photos that I think capture the essence of the Gardens. They are just absolutely breathtaking 

8/19/2013

Garnier Ultimate Beauty Oil | Just Add Ginger


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I am always looking for new moisturisers to try out. Having soft and smooth skin is something that instantly makes me feel gorgeous! 

When I knew my holiday was fast approaching, my first thought was "Oh No....I'm going to have to get a tan." But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how that wouldn't be the best idea. A lot of the fake tan products out there are not one-hand-friendly, and there was no guarantee that any of my friends would be free to help me apply it. So it was back to square one.

It was on the off-chance that I spotted the Garnier Ultimate Beauty Oil. I glided passed it when I was doing my food shop. The first thing that caught my eye was the packaging. It looked really enticing and luxurious, and reminded me of something you might find in a holiday market abroad. 

I was also really excited to see that it had a spray top. Don't get my wrong. I love cream body lotions and moisturisers, but I find them really tricky to apply on my back. With a spray top, I could just spritz and go! 

This oil definitely got a big THUMBS UP for the one-hand friendly packaging Garnier. Yay!

And then I got reading the label. Not only was it really nice to see so many oils packed in to one product (the oil contains Argan, Macadamia, Almond and Rose oil) but the main thing that caught my eye was the word Illuminates. At least if I wasn't going to get a tan on holiday, my skin would at least look nourished and healthy! I was definitely on to a winner. 

I purposefully didn't use the oil until I went away because I didn't want to risk any product getting on to my clothes or on my suitcase. So I waited until the first day away to try it out. 

I was not disappointed! The smell of the oil is absolutely gorgeous!! Now, I'm not that great at describing smells, but to me, the scent of the oil instantly reminded me of a spa (if you can imagine that!?) It's a really luxurious scent and I could really pick up on the Macadamia and Argan oil. The smell isn't overpowering, and lingers on the skin long after application. Some days I didn't even bother putting on perfume. The oil was enough to keep me feeling smelling fresh and delicious. 

After playing around with the application for a few days, I discovered that if I sprayed it on straight after I had a shower, it kept me a lot more moisturised. The oil formula sunk in really quickly to my skin and I didn't have to wait for ages to dry. The spray top made it really easy to reach those "hard to get" places (back, neck,) and even though I couldn't reach everywhere to smooth the oil in, my skin still reaped the benefits of the oil with it just being on my skin.

There was only one little downside to the application (although it's a really minor one!) On the back of the packaging, it says that the oil is "Non-Greasy", which, for the most part is true, but if you are wanting to apply it on your feet, I'd wait for a few minutes before you walk around. Where we were staying had wooden flooring and tiles, and I did find myself slipping around a few times after I'd sprayed the oil on to my feet. 

Tile-skating is not a good look!

I am really impressed with this oil. It's such an easy application, smells amazing, and left my skin instantly looking and feeling better. It was also great at relieving the itch of my mosquito bites (which were really bad.) I picked the oil up for under £10, and I definitely got what I paid for.

If you're looking for a new moisturiser or beauty oil to try, I'd really recommend the Garnier Ultimate Beauty Oil. 

Which moisturiser or body oil is your favourite?

Holiday Lookbook | Just Add Ginger

Packing for a holiday has got to be one of my most favourite things to do. Like wrapping up Christmas or birthday presents. It just gets me really excited to the forthcoming event, and trying to decide what to take away is, and finding the perfect place for it in your suitcase just fills me with glee! 

Does anybody else feel like this, or just me?

I knew it would (hopefully) be hot in France, so opted for a lot of dresses, and a pair of denim shorts. Yes...I may have been tempting fate, but even if it rained (which it did,) I would remain fully in holiday mode.

Week One: Normandy 

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Dress: ASOS,
Cardigan: New Look,
Scarf: Primark,
Sunglasses: (Prescription)

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Rain Coat: New Look,
 Leggings: New Look,
Gold Wedge Trainers: New Look
The start of our week in Normandy was a bit rubbish. It took ages to drive there from Calais, there was a horrendous storm, and then, for the first few days, I was poorly (that's a tradition for me....I always am sick somehow on every holiday I go on!) 

The weather was also really changeable. First it was scorching, then it was cloudy, then it was scorching again. It made it really hard to know what to wear! Usually, I just opted for a dress, and then changed as and when I needed to.

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Dress: New Look,
Gladiator Sandals: New Look
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Dress: New Look,
Tote Bag: (Present)
 It all changed again when the mosquitoes attacked. They really took a fancy to my legs, and all the bites swelled, so I looked like I had some kind of plague. Wearing leggings was out of the question because they only made the swelling worse, so it was maxi dresses and exposure of my lumpy legs for a few days while the swelling went down (although, even now I still have "bruises" where you can tell they have been to visit!)

Week Two: Brittany

Brittany was slightly better weather-wise, and by the time we got there, my bites had started to go down, so I wasn't too embarrassed to get out my legs a bit more (I was hoping for a tan too!)

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Cardigan: New Look
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Jumper: H&M,
Denim Shorts: River Island
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Playsuit: River Island
The only extra piece of clothing I bought while we were away was an oversized black jumper from H&M in Rouen. I needed something a bit thicker to keep my arms covered to prevent any more mosquito attacks. It was so comfortable that I wore it nearly every evening.

There was a lot of double-wearing going on on this holiday. It wasn't because I didn't pack enough, but because the weather was so changeable, I had to go for things that I could wear with sandals or trainers. We were out for most days, so I had to take both footwear options with me, just in case it decided to lash it down again!

I kept my hair down for most of the days we were there. It was only on the days where it was getting a bit greasy where I asked my mum to help me put it up. To be honest, I liked it down better. I'm really loving showing off my curls by pinning up the top layer of my hair. 

Also, having my hair down meant minimal neck exposure to those pesky critters who enjoyed feasting on me so much! 

What are your holiday wardrobe staples?