Friday, 24 February 2017

Lunch at Bella Italia, Exeter


Last week, I decided to go back to Devon for a couple of days to visit my family and, inevitably, we found ourselves on the bus heading towards Exeter for a big spend up. My eight year old sister had already browsed the Claire's Accessories website and selected a fair few sets of earrings which she wanted to buy. Having three younger siblings, I am used to shopping trips being centred around Claire's, Build A Bear, and Smiggle but we did manage to make it into Lush and a couple of clothes shops as well - thankfully as my sanity was slipping after the bright lights of Smiggle. We then headed to Bella Italia for lunch as we had heard that the kid's menu was great. I can uphold this - the kid's menu looked almost as good as the adult's menu.

The restaurant was dimly lit (as you may be able to tell from the picture quality) and felt very homely. There were little antiques and trickets all around and photographs and artwork adorning the walls. It was super busy on the day that we went but I think that is testimony to the popularity of this restaurant.


They had a large selection of cocktails and mocktails (finally something for the adults on this day out!). My auntie ordered meloncello - one of her favourites - but I decided against ordering alcohol as I am not too fussed on it in all honesty. So, I chose the peachberry mocktail which consisted of peach puree, cranberry juice, and soda water. It was pink and ombre and I could have drank about 5 of them.


My auntie and I decided to forgo starters (despite how tempted they sounded) but we nabbed a garlic bread strip each off of my sister's plate. She got about 5 garlic bread slices as a starter on her older kid's set menu and trust me when I say they were delicious. I love garlic bread anyway but this was so light and moreish. I had to hold myself back from grabbing the whole plate from her.




For my main course, I opted for the salmon with pesto, potatoes, and veg. The sauce that it came in what so delicious and the pesto with salmon was a combination I had never thought of before but I loved it. My auntie opted for the lasagne which was massive and so cheesy (just how it should be!). My sister got two mini burgers, a job lot of chips, and a salad skewer on her set menu. She spent most of the time smothering everything in tomato sauce before saying she was too full and giving me a plate of fries bathed in a pool of red - very horror movie-esque.




There was no way that I was going to ever say no to dessert. No matter how full I am, there is always space for dessert. And I was very happy to see that they had a dairy free chocolate cake with cherries on the top. Trust me, this was the most rich, chocolatey dessert I ever had. I couldn't even finish it because I felt like Augustus Gloop falling into a chocolate river. Or Bruce Bogtrotter. Or both. Definitely the way to go for dairy free people though who sometimes have to forgo that chocolate cake fix. My auntie went for the limencello meringue pie which I was also so tempted by. And my sister got mini donuts in chocolate sauce.

Overall, we had a delicious meal and the total bill for the three meals was under £40 which, I think, is quite good. I would definitely go back again as I have my eye on a mushroom burger that they have. Also that limoncello meringue pie - I need it!

Disclaimer: food was paid for in full and the restaurant did not know I would be blogging about them
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Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Curly Hair Struggles

 
My ex once described my hair as a 'beautiful inconvenience' and I think he wasn't far from the truth. I don't feel like myself when I don't have my curls falling down over my shoulders but they can also be an absolute nightmare. I think most curly girls will be able to relate to the struggles of having curly hair in a straight hair world.
 
Things get lost in it
I'm going to share with you a real life example of this that happened yesterday. So, I turned up for work and found - to my horror - that I had left my hairband at home and I can't work with food without one. So, my colleague suggested I use a chopstick he'd found out back. He helped me stab the chopstick through the bun I had scraped together and - surprise surprise - it snapped entirely in half. One half fell to the floor, the other was lost in the abyss. It took me five minutes of shaking my hair around before it finally came out.
 
There is hardly any selection when it comes to hair products
Imagine the scene. I run out of hair oil but the oil I had wasn't designed for curly hair and didn't make much of a difference. So, I head into Boots to find something better. I find a single stand in the three aisles of hair products designed for curly hair. By curly hair, I mean everything from a 2a to a 4c contained in about 15 bottles. It is even worse when you are outside of the city. In rural areas, there is pretty much nothing for curls. For example, the Boots in Ambleside told me that they don't stock anything for curly hair and I would have to travel to the nearest city to find said products. Great.
 

Products cost a small fortune
If I won the jackpot on the lottery, I would spend it all on products for curly hair. Those 8 new products would really come in handy.
But seriously, why is it so expensive? People with straight hair can just buy Poundland shampoo and conditioner and it doesn't make too much of a difference. Of course it isn't the best but at least they wouldn't end up looking like Hermoine after a potions class.

Wash day is hell on earth
How do people wash their hair and then just head out and it is dry after an hour? It takes mine 4 hours minimum to air dry. And if I don't slap the product on the minute I step out of the shower then all is lost. Also the tangles! Oh, the tangles.


The straightening phase
I am pretty sure that most curly haired girls went through the straightening or relaxer phase. Those 5am starts to straighten your hair to leave for school at 7am. Then by 10am, it is curly again. Guys, I even straightened my hair for my wedding (which I deeply regret). So not worth it.

It rains on your good hair day
Why is this always the way? You don't even need to get your hair wet for it to turn into a frizzy mess. I took this pics today before I headed out to post a parcel and when I got back, my hair was huge.

It will suffocate your partner
Anyone else have a partner who complains about having your hair in their face when they are trying to sleep. I am sorry, it just spreads out! I can't help it. Now I have to contain it in a bun when I sleep. Joys of marriage, eh?

People ask you where you are from
People assume you are foreign or mixed with something because of your hair. When I tell them that I am Jewish on my dad's side, I get the whole 'ohhh ok' thing.

What are your experiences with curly hair?
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Monday, 20 February 2017

Breakfast at Garlands, Cardiff



This morning I was introduced to the gastronomical heaven that is Garlands in Duke Street Arcade by my good friend and housemate Becky. I managed to drag myself from my bed at the crack of dawn (10am) and we settled down in the chairs outside feeling very continental. But then it was cold so we rejected the illusions of continental elegance and headed inside.



The inside was very quaint and cosey. The walls were covered in pictures of famous Welsh people and the till area was adorned with fairy lights (very insta worthy). And warm - bonus!



Becky opted for a tea (that came with milk in a miniature milk pale - cute!) and I went for the Fentiman's mandarin and Seville orange juice. I wasn't expecting the juice to be fizzy, in all honesty, but I guess it was a fun twist on orange juice.
 



 
There we have it - the best pancakes I have ever eaten. I opted for these fluffy American style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. You could also have it with scrambled eggs but eggs and syrup isn't a combination I am ready to commit to just yet. Becky went for eggs benedict which, she assured me, was delicious. Admittedly, after this I could hardly move and deeply regretted wearing high waisted jeans but I cannot recommend this place enough.
 
If you're ever in Cardiff and in want of a delicious - and reasonably priced breakfast - this is the one.


Be sure to check out Becky's art blog and insta!
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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Day In The Life of a Student: Valentine's Day

In all honesty, I was dreading today. My husband is about 100 miles away and I didn't want to just spend the whole day moping around and writing bitter things on Twitter (@TheEmeraldDove, in case you're into bitterness and gifs). So I decided to spend the day treating myself and buying in to this whole self-love movement - well, as much as I could on a budget. Why doesn't Topshop seem to understand that I have no money? Stop thrusting your beautiful clothes in my face! But it didn't turn out to be as miserable a day as I had anticipated which, I think, is rather nice.
 



I started the day by having a lie in (well, as much of a lie in as I could get with my 8 year old sister calling me to discuss plans for us going shopping tomorrow). I decided that it would be nice to have a face mask to wake up my skin a little before jumping in the shower. The face mask that I have been using is by Quick Fix and is a charcoal and cinnamon one - it smells kinda Christmassy. I then had a glass of the smoothie I made last night consisting of frozen red berries, Alpro coconut milk, and cranberry and raspberry juice. It was nice - albeit full of pips. Next time I want to try one with bananas to give it a smoother texture but adding coconut milk was definitely a good decision.




I then brought myself to finally getting ready after scrolling through Instagram for ages (seriously, I'm addicted - check me out at @laurenmusinguzi). I was going to wear this grey top which has a peplum hem with my new asos necklace but when I went outside, I realised it is perishing and ran back inside to change into a huge jumper. I opted for a red lip because Valentine's Day and wore my new favourite fragrance from Zara which my husband actually chose for me for Christmas. On my fingers I have my Topshop stacking rings and my OPI nail varnish. Can you spot which one is my wedding ring? Clue: it's not a midi ring.



After I had dressed, I realised I hadn't actually prepared anything for my seminar on Women in the 1700s so I had to do a quick whizz through the lecture hand out and make an attempt as compiling something that made sense. Note: my prep was of no use because I was hugely confused by the whole thing. Mostly because it was poetry and I don't get poetry at all.





I decided it would be nice to go for a wander around town and get a snack before I headed to my two hour seminar. I chose this Higgidy Pie and an Innocent smoothie which I got from Boots and they were both delicious. The seminar was quite long and I didn't wholly understand the poetry but we discussed some really interesting topics such as motherhood and the comeback of motherhood as a fashionable thing after the rejection of it in the 90s in favour of careers and the influence of social media on the family unit.



I rounded the day off with a pizza and a hair wash. I didn't actually realise that there was a buy one get one free deal on and I accidentally ended up with two pizzas. I put one of them in the freezer and devoured the other. Who needs romantic meals when you can have a whole pizza to yourself?

How did you spend Valentine's Day?
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Thursday, 9 February 2017

I Got Married At 19

 
When I first met my husband, I would never have imagined that I would end up married to him.
We first met when I was actually seeing someone else (cheeky) via a well known online dating site (*cough* Christian Mingle *cough*). We chatted online for about a week before he arranged to travel down on the National Express coach to Cardiff for our first date. I drank a lot of Malibu and we ate chips and curry sauce. Classy, right? I got so drunk that I walked into a wall - be sure to add that to your list of ways to impress a teetotaller.
 
Somehow, I managed to get a second date. This time I was sober. We had kebabs in a hotel room in Northampton. This is pretty much a Nicholas Sparks novel. Call Paige Toon, I've got a story to sell her.
 
After 4 months of daily phone calls and travelling back and forth between Cardiff and Northampton (thank goodness for National Express), disaster struck. Visa disaster. My husband had to return to Uganda because his visa expired.
For. 3. Whole. Months.
For almost as long as we had been together, we now had to be apart for. We didn't know if he would even be allowed back into the country.
Good job there, Home Office.
But we made applications and arrangements and he was back. I was so pleased to see him.
 
 
 
He was now settled in Cumbria. I took the coach there. Bad idea. It took me 10 hours. 10! Never again. I now have a rail card and I have never looked back since.
 
That winter I went through a rather shitty time. So shitty! And because of the storms up in Cumbria, my man couldn't be with me in person. Although he was on the phone all the time, I was struggling and I really thought we would break up at that point. But he supported me so well and when we next saw each other, I felt so close to him. More close than ever. We had been together a whole year and the thought of marriage actually was seeming more likely now. I couldn't imagine life without him.
That February, he proposed. In the same romantic style the rest of our relationship had taken, I came out the shower and he proposed. My response? 'Will you let me put some clothes on first?'. But it was intimate. He held my hand and told me that he wants us to raise a family together and share our lives. It felt right. Everyone thought we were crazy - I was 19. If any of my friends got married at 19, I'd think they need their heads examining.
 
At the end of April, we married. My flatmates and family attended. Probably not what they imagined they'd be doing in their second year of uni.
 
 
 
We have been married for almost a whole year now. We have shared a lot in this year and I feel like I have got to know him so well. I have never known anyone to this point before. This year we have still had to be long distance. We have spent a few of these months living together and it was awesome. I saved so much money on train fares! Also he was kinda cool to be around.
 
But it is awesome being married. It's not always the heady excitement of kebabs in hotel rooms but it is nice. We watch Netflix and have private jokes and I know I can rely on him. I would say that friendship really should be at the heart of your relationship. Because the honeymoon period is lovely but it doesn't last forever but friendship can. Some of my favourite times have been just chilling watching Sherlock together and eating takeaway pizza. Him poking my food baby stomach like the cheeky man he is.
 
Although people say I am missing out and wasting my twenties, I'm content. If I go out, I know I have someone waiting for me at home keeping the bed warm. No returning home to a cold bed for me.
 
Naturally, everyone assumed I was pregnant. Or mega keen to start a family. Guess again, the only stomach bulge in my wedding pics was from the Chinese buffet I stupidly ate the night before (still visible through two layers of spanx!). We're not having kids yet. I'm still learning to look after myself. We're going travelling instead.
 
If I went back, I'd do it all the same. I was so young (I still am - only almost 21) but the thought that life could have got in the way if we had held off and I could have lost him - it doesn't bear thinking about. A life without the phone ringing at inconvenient moments, and his laughter, and the way he rolls around like a little kid when I tickle his side, and how we pronounce specific words in silly ways which is somehow so hilarious. A life without Luganda music blaring in the kitchen, and how he answers the phone shouting 'mulenzi mulenzi', and dancing together (albeit very badly on my part), and how he pulls me closer to him when he's half asleep at night. That wouldn't be a life I want at all.
 
So, roll on April when I finish my degree and we move into the next stage of our life together. Let's hope I'm still singing his praises by our next anniversary.
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Saturday, 4 February 2017

What I Eat In A Day: Student Edition


Being a student, one of the most difficult things is sourcing substantial meals for a reasonable price. I find that when I am at uni, it is so easy just to hit up Just Eat or get a frozen pizza and then you realise a week later that you haven't eaten a single vegetable and that you have forgotten what a courgette even is. For that reason, I try to bring a lot of my nutrients in through fruit juices as I find it the easiest method - and usually a cost effective one too.
 



Breakfast

My diet varies a lot between when I am at uni and when I am at home. When I'm at home I'd have muesli with coconut milk and bananas or porridge. Whilst at uni, I find that I don't have the time or the motivation to even look at a saucepan so I usually opt for a Nakd bar (the mocha one is amazing!). But I am really trying to have breakfast more often when I am at uni and, since I am trying to reduce my dairy intake, I have been having a lot more different teas and lemon water.

 
 
Lunch

I like to eat larger meals at lunch then a smaller tea. I recently discovered the Co-Op Meal Pots - this one is Italian Meatballs. I would highly recommend! I had this with grapefruit juice which, admittedly, isn't my favourite juice but is so packed with vitamins and goodness that I try to drink it when I can. I had this in a fancy cup with a fancy straw so I could pretend I was sipping a cocktail lying on a beach rather than the reality of it being a midweek gallon of grapefruit juice.



Afternoon treat

I am an absolute sugar fiend so I like to have a little sugary snack in the afternoon. If I am feeling healthy then it may be a Nakd bar or some fruit but, more often than not, it is some kind of chocolate or cake. I recently had these macaroons from Madame Fromage in Cardiff (Castle Arcade) and they were divine - especially the strawberry one. I really need to go and try out the rest of the flavours.


Tea

I like to have smaller meals at tea time so lately I have been reaching for these Kabuto Noodles. Imagine, the convenience of a Pot Noodle but it actually tastes fresh and delicious. I like these beef ones but the vegetarian one is delicious too. I would highly recommend trying these.



Pudding

One big flaw of mine is that I am literally hungry every half hour so I round up the day with a little sugary snack. This is really highlighting my sugar dependency here. I love Easter chocolates so much - especially Easter eggs - and these little Galaxy chocolate eggs are so pretty and yummy. I accidentally ate a whole packet in a sitting though. There goes my new year diet (oops).


What do you like to eat? Do we have similar tastes?
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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Wearing Yellow In Edinburgh

Anyone who follows my Instagram (@laurenmusinguzi) may have noticed that I recently went on a short break with my husband to Edinburgh. This was a sort of anniversary/back to uni send-off mash up trip but who really needs an excuse to go on holiday anyway. We wanted to explore Scotland since we had neglected it a bit in the past and, being in the Lake District, it is really easy for us to travel there. We picked an ibis hotel to stay at which was about 10 minutes from the centre for £108 for two nights including breaks - such a bargain, right? And the breakfast was sensational! My expectations were low but when I saw the baked chorizo sausages and French toast with maple syrup, words can't even describe my excitement. I can't recommend that hotel enough for that price.
 
 
That really looks like Will Ferrell in the background, right?
 
 We spent most of the time there eating and wandering along the different streets taking in the sights. We also went to the National Museum which was awesome (especially the big fashion section which my man enjoyed perhaps even more than I did). There is nothing I love more than spending the day exploring a new place then returning to a hotel and diving into the big, soft marshmallow of a bed and snuggling up to watch some trash tv.
 

 
Let's pretend I had my eyes open here
 
Jumper - New Look (similar)
Jeans - Primark (similar)
Jacket - Topshop (here)
Boots - New Look (similar)
Bag - H&M (similar)


 
Foodwise, we had some excellent lunch in The Huxley where I had this coffee with almond milk and a 'superbowl' with beans, chicken, and chorizo accompanied by gluten free bread (but I can't seem to see it on their online menu anymore). Another amazing restaurant we visited was Howies - I can't recommend this place enough. The food was divine and so was the price! I had the salmon with a white sauce as my main (highly recommend) and an affogato for dessert. Both were excellent! My husband has the soup then the seafood chowder which was a soup dense meal but he was content. And after two pots of tea as well it came to £25 - incredible!
 


 
Tempting...


 
One man and his dog..

 
I had the most amazing time in Edinburgh and I would love to experience it in the summer as well. But I also want to see more of other parts of Scotland - maybe Glasgow then the Highlands.
 
Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Did you like it? Have you got any other northern UK destinations that you would like to recommend?
 
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