Keeping Caffeinated with Rombouts

My love of coffee is well known amongst my friends, family and colleagues. Whereas in the past I’ve been of the “get as many as possible down my neck” approach, not really caring about quality, these days I’m much more fussy about the coffee I drink- I’ve pretty much halved my consumption but with that has come the expensive habit of popping in to a coffee shop at least five times a week to get my fix of something that isn’t instant.
I really need to cut this down but up until now I haven’t found an alternative that I can make at home that I love enough to forgo my cafe habit. I was recently sent a box of coffee from the folks at Rombouts and whilst I knew it would be good based on prior experience, I really didn’t expect for it to replace my beloved double shot Americanos.
The one cup filters from Rombouts have massively impressed both myself and my equally dedicated to decent coffee boyfriend a lot. Both the Colombian and Italian style varieties have become firm favourites for their smoothness, depth of flavour and complete lack of bitterness. They make a great Americano when topped up with hot water and also provide the perfect base for lattes, cappuccinos and iced coffees.
I normally steer well away from any kind of decaf coffee but gave these a go on the back of how impressed I was with the caffeinated versions and it looks like I might have finally found an acceptable coffee that won’t keep me up all night when the evening coffee cravings strike.

The little travel cup included in the package has been great for the walk to work. Given that I pass two branches of Costa most days and can rarely resist the lure, this has saved me a huge amount of money in a short space of time- for the price of one takeaway coffee you can get an entire box of one cup filters (£2.69 for 10) with change left over.

Should the mood strike I can even take a biscuit or two with me on my walk thanks to the individually wrapped cafe biscuits- you know how really good coffee shops serve a speculoos biscuit to go with your drink? There’s something very satisfying to get that same experience at home, feel smug about saving money and still getting to enjoy one of your favourite luxuries.
The ground coffee is, as you’d expect, equally as good. Both blends are single origin and fair trade- the Cuban one has notes of cacoa and caramel in it making it my favourite of the two and perfect to go with a lazy weekend breakfast.You can get Rombouts products direct from their website (as well as all of the accessories and biscuits you could ever need!). If you’re looking to cut down on your coffee shop habit then I highly recommend them as the brand to try- let me know if you try any of the coffees and which one is your favourite.

Those Groundbreaking Spring Florals

*Insert cliche “The Devil Wears Prada” quote here…*

Cliche aside, I’m of the if it ain’t broke school of thought and if florals are what I’m instantly drawn to the second the sun decides to shine and there’s a warmer feel to the air then so be it. This dress was an impulse purchase from the Monki sale, snatched up on route to my first date with the boyfriend as it happens. It’s another case of shopping karma as well, as I had wanted it full price but didn’t have the money. Finding it in my size for just £12 was the perfect start to what turned out to be a wonderful evening.

Dress: Monki | Shoes c/o Ego (now £14.99!)

Ok, so it’s not the most Spring like of outfits in terms of colour and I didn’t quite manage bare legs [thank you Primark sheer tights] but it’s a step in the right direction.

As with all of my Monki wardrobe additions [and it does now appear to take up at least 1/3 of my current clothing collection] I love the over-sized fit- perfect for when you’re dealing with recovery from an eating disorder and hiding those food babies!

Now the weather is improving I’m getting quite exciting for building up a new warm weather wardrobe. So much of the clothes I lived in last year remind me of tough times and sadness, they don’t represent me and the person I’ve become. I can’t afford to go mad but with some careful saving of those pennies I reckon I can manage a trip or two to Primark, and of course Monki and get some pieces that both look good AND make me feel good.

Which high-street shops Spring collections are you loving the most right now?

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Dressing up the Hoodie

I’ve already professed my love for the humble hoodie recently and whilst thinking of ways to wear it that wasn’t just with jeans I remembered how I saw it styled in Monki when I made my purchase. The store had paired the grey version of my sweater under a simple black camisole dress so I figured why not give it a try myself? I’m not entirely sure I’d wear it like this often, something so bulky underneath something so flimsy doesn’t give the most flattering of silhouettes but it was fun to branch out and try something new.

Hoodie: Monki (comes in loads of colours!) | Dress: Unknown but similar here | Boots: Long Tall Sally

I think the word best used to describe this set of photos would be “wonky”. In my defence almost as soon as I stepped foot outside it started to rain but knowing I wouldn’t get any other time I decided to power through hurriedly hence the slightly slanted (and headless) shots.

This dress has been hanging in my wardrobe unloved for so long I can’t even remember where it came from, I don’t really go anywhere that would require a little black slip dress but it actually fits quite nicely so I’m determined to incorporate it in to some more casual outfits- more likely with a simple tee or roll neck rather than a bulky hoodie though.

I also wanted to use this post as a chance to say thank you to those who commented or showed support on my “bad mood” post last week. It really is appreciated. If you hadn’t seen my joyful announcements on social media, on Friday I was finally told I can go back to work, starting Wednesday on (very) reduced duties so finally it feels like my hard work is reaping rewards. That makes it little bit easier to tolerate and I’ve been able to further ignite my desire to get well and get back up to my full role ASAP. Having this space on the internet where I can share my thoughts and struggles at times is invaluable and unless people start telling me they are sick of it, or don’t want to read it (although you could just click away from my blog) then I will continue to share my journey to health…a journey I only plan to undertake this one last time. I truly am so grateful for having so much support, and an incredibly supportive employer.

Has anyone else tried a hoodie under a dress like this? I really like how it looks, although perhaps a more oversized dress, or less bulky hoodie would help me feel more streamlined.

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UK Travel: Famous people of the North East- a touring guide*

There are many people who we associate with the North East of England. Join premium hotel group The Cairn Group as they look at a selection of famous people from the North East and find out why they are so well known- and where you can head to see top spots associated with them.

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1. Sir Bobby Charlton- Famous for being a part of the England football squad who won the 1966 World Cup. He was also part of the Manchester United football squad that won three Football League First Division titles as well as the 1966 Ballon d’Or winner. He also carries the achievement of most career goals for both England (49 goals) and Manchester United (249 goals) at the time of his retirement.

Whilst you would need to travel to Old Trafford in Manchester to find a statue of Sir Bobby Charlton (where he stands alongside former teammates George Best and Denis Law) he was born in Ashington- one of the largest towns in Northumberland. Football fans visiting the town should be sure to head along to the football pitch on Woodhorn Lane to see some grassroots football courtesy of Ebac Northern League Division One club Ashington Football Club (Ashington Community Football Club, Woodhorn Lane, Ashington, Northumberland, NE63 9FW or visit
http://www.ashingtonafc.com/home for further information).

This one might be worth bearing in mind for Father’s Day if your Dad is a fan!

Bryan Robson- Famous for being part of the Part of the Manchester United squad that won three FA Cups and a UEFA Cup, he also guided Middlesbrough to two promotions to the FA Premier League as well as three cup finals during his stint as manager at the North-East club.

Bryan Robson was born in Chester-le-Street although it was at Middlesbrough, in the North East where Robson achieved some of his greatest feats during his career. Therefore football fans are encouraged to head along to The Riverside Stadium to witness some thrilling Premier League action (The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, TS3 6RS or visit http://www.mfc.co.uk/club/riverside-stadium/).

3. Rowan Atkinson- Most of us know Rowan Atkinson for his roles in Blackadder and Mr Bean although his movie credentials extend to Johnny English and The Lion King. He was also the winner of the 1982 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Comedy Performance in the 1981 season.

Rowan Atkinson grew up on a farm that his father owned in Consett, County Durham. However for an exceptional glimpse into the actor’s early life you should visit the Cathedral Chorister School— it forms a part of Durham Cathedral and was also the place where former Prime Minister Tony Blair studied (The Chorister School, The College, Durham, DH1 3EL or http://www.thechoristerschool.com/ for details.

4. Robson Green- I’m fairly sure that most Mum’s of a certain generation had a soft spot for Mr Green, an actor who is most famous for his roles in TV series Soldier Soldier, Wire in the Blood and Grantchester. He was also part of musical duo Robson and Jerome where they were crowned winners of the Top Single & Album award at the 1996 Music Week Awards for Unchained Melody/White Cliffs of Dover.

Robson was born in the Northumberland market town of Hexham and raised in the North Tyneside small mining village of Dudley.He took his first steps down his acting career route by training at the Live Theatre in Newcastle upon Tyne (Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ or visit http://www.live.org.uk/).

5. Steve Cram- The track and field athlete has achieved numerous triumphs over his career with some highlights being a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics and several gold medals at the 1982 and 1986 Commonwealth Games (to name just a few).

Steve Cram started his athletics career with Jarrow & Hebburn AC when he was just 12 years old. The club is still going strong today with their athletes, as well as others from across the North East regularly competing at Monkton Stadium (Monkton Stadium, Dene Terrace, Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, NE32 5NJ or visit
https://www.jhac.org.uk/)

If you’re ready to start your star-studded tour of the North East then The Cairn Group has a selection of fantastic hotels in Jesmond that will put you in the heart of the action. Definitely worth bearing in mind as Mother’s Day, and then Father’s Day approach.

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The Christmas 2016 Degustabox (and £7.00 discount!)

As ever it feels like no time at all has passed since my last Degustabox review and it’s even harder to believe that this time round it was the Christmas edition. This was another truly excellent box of goods (although perhaps not very festive for a Christmas box?) and I’ve very much enjoyed exploring my way through the treats on offer this month.
It’s probably quite obvious by now that the selection I tend to enjoy the most is the sweet treats selection and this month was no expection. The Butter Crisps from Jules Destrooper (£1.19) are heavenly- a light and crunchy biscuit with a rich buttery taste with hints of caramel. These are just perfect with a cup of strong coffee and I imagine they’d make excellent ice cream sandwiches too although I’m yet to try that myself. New to me were the cookie squares from Michel et Augustin (£0.89) and I had high hopes from the description…four cookie squares play host to dark chocolate and a pinch of sea salt, these are insanely moorish and fully live up to expectations. Delicious and not for sharing! Equally addictive was the Crunchy Slam Dunk Peanut Chunk bar from Broderick’s. Mouthful of a name aside this bar (£1.29) is everything that’s right with the world in my eyes. Whole roasted peanuts, rice krispies, rich Belgian chocolate and a thick layer of crunchy peanut butter this is something that every peanut butter obsessive must try at least once.
The savoury snack selection was also a winner, mostly. Personally I didn’t fancy the sound of wild thyme and rosemary crisps from Piper’s Crisps (£2.00) as I’m not a herb flavour fan but my parents really enjoyed these and I think they’d made a good addition to a festive buffet table. Ryvita are something I eat a lot of and both the caramelised onion Ryvita Thins (£1.89) and the cracked black pepper Ryvita Crackers (£1.29) were very much enjoyed- the thins are perfect for scooping up dips and the crackers for serving with a big wedge of cheese!
Tea addicts will love the light, palette cleansing taste of the citrus mint sorbet tea from Ahmad Tea and delight in the gorgeous packaging. This would look lovely in a Christmas gift hamper too although I don’t have the price information to hand. For the kiddies over Christmas these Gruffalo themed cartons of apple juice are ideal. Who doesn’t love the not so scary beast?
Jazz up your trifle with Hartley’s Glitter Jelly (£0.75 each) in either mixed berry or raspberry flavours or delight guests of all ages by serving up a sparkly jelly and ice cream dessert. I haven’t made these up yet but I just love the idea of a sparkly pudding especially over the festive period.
I’m not going to lie, I was a little perplexed by the inclusion of Hollandaise Sauce as I’m not entirely sure what it is or what you do with it. Further research makes me think it would be perfect with eggs and bacon for a Christmas morning feast and the fact that the three pouches from Christian Porter Sauce (£2.50) can be heated in ten seconds in the microwave make these the ultimate convenience food.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you’ll know I love my popcorn so the inclusion of a long term favourite cinema sweet style from Butterkist (£1.69 for a multipack) as well as a new to me flavour- Choc Mallow (£1.49) was a delight. Choc Mallow is the ultimate in indulgent yet light snacking and despite initial reservations is a pretty good flavour for popcorn. Perfect for a family night in or a movie night with friends…anyone seen my copy of ELF?
Finally we come to the drink selection, now I didn’t try either of these personally but my Dad really enjoyed both the wild berries and strawberry-lime flavours from “The Good Cider” (£1.50 per bottle) served over ice. Ideal for a party or as part of a drinks hamper for any one who likes their flavoured ciders. Mum was the recipient of J20 Glitterberry (£2.49 for a four pack) and was very excited over the prospect of a glittering drink. This is the perfect soft drink for over the festive season with it’s spiced grape and cherry flavour and fun inclusion of edible glitter that gives it a magical glow.
If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.