Bakchich & Arabic Afternoon Tea

Last weekend I was invited to attend a blogger event at the newly launched Manchester branch of Bakchich, whose flagship restaurant can be found on the coolest street in Liverpool, Bold Street.

You’ll find it tucked down Chester Street, off Oxford Road, nestled in the heart of a buzzing student area. Keep your peepers peeled for this sign.

bakchich

The event was themed around Arabic afternoon tea, which was a very intriguing concept to me. I’m not overly enamored by British Afternoon tea. I prefer Cheese scones to fruit, and I’d take pie over cake if given the choice (I know I’m totally Northern, and proud).

We were greeted warmly by Gary, the General Manager, possibly (and I mean this in a highly complimentary way) the most Manc person I’ve met in a long while. Floral shirt button up the top, and rocking a haircut the Gallagher brothers would approve of (approval being some form of curt nod, following by an utterance of “Kid”).

After being seated and plied with Morroccan Tea (mint, green tea and a generous injection of brown sugar make up this delicious traditional brew, poured from a great height to generate bubbles), I took I few moments to appraise the interior.

You’ll find the staple beauty that are Morroccan tiles and prints, splashed across walls, floors and the menus in various guises and palettes; interspersed with burnished copper, filament bulbs and an urban vibe in the wall art and the tables and chairs.

What followed was a flurry of dishes being circulated between myself and my Husband and the other couple who had attended – well known and well loved Arabic, Moroccan and Lebanese favourites in miniature form – Shawarma, falafel, Lebanese Sausage, Halloumi, Manakeesh… As well as many other things I can’t recall the names of.

You can browse the full menu here.

One of the main highlights for me was actually the variety of soft drinks that were served – 3 different types of handmade Lemonades, blended with mint and limes, Rose, or pomegranate and orange blossom. They were all absolutely delicious, so fragrant and refreshing. None of the photos I took were very flattering but you will have to take my word for it that they looks beautiful, too.

The main delight of the event for me was meeting Amine (Pronounced Eh-min I believe, and apologies to him if I’ve spelled it wrong!). Founder of the restaurant, he served us many of the dishes and explained to us what they were, if they were vegetarian and what they were made of. He came to sit with is while we were enjoying our pastries and Arabic Coffee and we chatted happily to him about his passion for serving fresh handmade food. Amine was delightful, sharing our enthusiasm for Liverpool, where my husband and I used to live, and also sharing our joy that so many Indie restaurants are finding a home in Manchester.

His main vision, he said, was to make sure his food was tasty enough and also very importantly, affordable enough to have families dine with him as often as they chose. His menu is very reasonably priced; his food, right down to even the dips was clearly hand made with love and care, and his staff were friendly and welcoming.

Thank you to Amine for hosting us, we had a wonderful time – my husband was the happiest I have seen him in a while when that dish of pastries was placed before him!

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You can be sure we will come back, and I will tell everyone I know that Bakchich is delicious, and affordable.

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Feeling the Lebanese vibe

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Shoegazing

So this post title won’t mean anything to any one else but me – it’s a bit of an introspective post about Working life, if you’ll forgive that.

If any of you follow me on Twitter you might have seen that I posted about being offered an amazing job opportunity to be a COO (Chief Operating Officer) of a startup. I was really excited about it, because the business is a social enterprise, doing good rather than just making money. I was ready to jump in feet first, prepared for the high risk but high reward challenge.

It was the type of opportunity that literally fell into my lap, and I felt amazing for having been asked to do it. It speaks volumes about how capable I am and could be. It was a huge ego boost, to say the least.

Given that I would be walking away from a job that is, for all intents and purposes, stable I needed to think about it carefully. The salary was exciting, the CEO a great guy who I could work with as a peer and an equal, and I would have the opportunity to create something from the ground up and build a team around me.

BUT.

There’s always a huge but, isn’t there? The job would most likely require me to travel to Sheffield everyday. If not right away, then eventually. I currently live in Manchester and take a 15 minute tram ride into work – 40 mins door to door. This might have been worth the reward, but I know that travelling for 3 hours everyday would take a toll of my life and on my relationship with my husband, and that’s something I couldn’t risk and wouldn’t risk for the world.

And there’s no such thing as a career ladder; it’s a rock face. A scary and ever-shifting one at that.

I was devastated. The guy at the startup was really empathetic and understanding, wanting me to make a decision based on knowing all the facts and taking into account the worst case scenarios.

It was exactly the sort of job I was ready for, the thing I wanted to do most as the next step in my career.

I never believe there’s really just one thing you want to do and that is that; you’ll be happy never moving on. And there’s no such thing as a career ladder; it’s a rock face. A scary and ever-shifting one at that.

There are steps in reach, and some more after that, like ledges and handholds on a climb; each one a stopping point on the way to the final destination. It might be a slight sideways climb, an upwards leap, or even a short retreat back to get to a better vantage point. This job for me was an upwards leap alright, and there aren’t many of those that come along you’re perfectly suited for.

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I rapidly moved through the stages of grief and denial, closely followed by a bout of anger.

I need to begin to accept the things that I cannot change, and try and influence change myself to get me to the next handholds on the climb.

Have you ever had a career dilemma? Want to try something else? Let me know in the comments.

As an aside, the black brogues in the blog header are Jasper James Brogues from TKMaxx.

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Larch Living

Anyone who has followed my blog for sometime now will know how much I love supporting small businesses. They may also know that I moved into my first home this September in Manchester, and naturally I had my eyes open for cute living items to make it feel like home.

Larch Living, a company I have been following on Instagram for a while now, really caught my eye with their eye catching Skandi-style homeware items in monochrome hues, as well as offering a delightful selection of Jewellery and miscellaneous gift items perfect for Christmas.

Who doesn’t love scatter cushions, I ask?

The Cloud and Raindrops cushion was  the one I fell for- shop it here. its a beautiful soft linen fabric, and although you can’t see in the photo, the reverse is patterned in tiny black raindrops!

Here it is in pride on place on the bed!

Seeing as I mentioned the jewellery, I thought I would show off what is by far one of the most beautiful pieces of jewellery that I think I will ever own! A ceramic hummingbird. The quality of this piece is beyond what I was hoping for, with a delicate chain. The colours of the paint and the enamel glaze are really beautiful. Shop it here, it’s on sale at the moment too!

Visit their website as there’s not of items on sale right now so you can pick up a bargain in time for Christmas.

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Thrifty Blogger Update #2

Hey everyone!

Just a short post really to check in, take a breath, and to update you on life in general, really.

I’ve not been able to update my  blog as often as I’d like to recently, and that’s mainly down to a few things; first, my job has hit a really new exciting level. I mean, really exciting. Unfortunately that means I am now busier than I’ve ever been in my life!

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I’m working on a development plan to become a director in the company where I work as a Business Development Manager. This isn’t your typical sales role, It’s really developing a business from the ground up, getting stuck into the startups we’re funding or investing in. The exciting bit is it’s not just one company either, but several all rolled into one group structure, and that means amazing things are lined up in my future.

Secondly, it’s been dark. No really – when it’s dark, I can’t take photos of things to write blog posts about. I’m sure we all feel the pain of long dark winter nights in the Blogosphere. It’s hard to snatch time in a weekend to dedicate to it, when that’s really your only spare time.

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So following that, the wonderful Marie at Didi’s Boutique in Altrincham who I’ve blogged about before nominated me for the blogger awards 2016. Now, I’ve always shrugged off bloggers awards, mainly because I’m not hugely interactive in the blogger community in the way other bloggers are, and never thought I would be able to compete with them!

Hi Jess I’ve nominated you because not only are you lovely, but you champion small businesses, people like me 🙂 love you x

But Marie’s nomination message almost moved me to tears and made me feel so proud of my little blog that I had to register it, out of maternal pride. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but if I get shortlisted, I’ll count that as a massive victory in itself!

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My blog has become an extension of my work in social impact investing in my day job. I constantly ask myself, how can I use my time or my skills to help businesses prosper? I hope that I have managed to help other businesses with my blog – Such examples spring to mind as the wonderful Holly’s Lollies I supported in her Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.

In doing this, I find my blog fulfilling to write, and I hope as enjoyable for people to read. (Apparently my blog also got included in an infographic for best UK Fashion blog, but I’m not so sure about that!! You can view that here!)

Thank you to my readers for reading and commenting, every single one I massively appreciate.

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Love xxx

A sweet creation retro sweets box

Xmas Gifts for a Sweet Tooth!

This post falls into so many categories for me, I’m so excited about it!

Firstly, SWEETS! Secondly, Small & Local & Handmade Business! tick, tick tick!

But seriously, this post contains two beautiful candy-related items from two different sellers which would make great Christmas gifts for a loved one or a friend – the best thing about it is that they won’t break the bank, and you’ll be supporting a small business in the process.

First up are these Retro sweetie boxes from A Sweet Creation, A Manchester confectionery seller who also specialize in events.

These boxes cost only £5 each, and can be ordered directly from their Facebook page by following the link here! Items come giftwrapped and with a blank gingerbread man tag to write out. They always respond super quickly to messages, so don’t hesitate to have a chat about placing an order.

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candy box!

Secondly, is a piece of jewellery almost good enough to eat!

If you have a female friend with a super sweet tooth and penchant for jewellery, then look no further than this ADORABLE miniature sweetie jar necklace, created by the very talented Caroline at Tiny Treat Boutique. Her pieces are exquisitely detailed and really reasonably priced. Go and have a browse of her Etsy shop for other pieces. You can get anything from hot dogs to cake! I chose this piece because I literally cannot resist a coconut wheel.

Tiny Treat Boutique miniature pick and mix necklace
Tiny Treat Boutique miniature pick and mix necklace

Tiny Treat Boutique miniature pick and mix necklace Tiny Treat Boutique miniature pick and mix necklace

The detail is incredible, and the quality is brilliant. I love wearing this piece, almost as much as I love Pick n Mix!

Want more Christmas gift ideas for Booklovers? Or for that person who has geeky interests, ranging from insects to video games? Check out my Geek Pinterest board!

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Jake Shoes Review

I’d love to begin this blog post with a happy birthday shoutout to Jake Shoes, an independent shoe retailer based in the North West, with bases in Stockport and Manchester City Centre. they celebrate 40 years of business this year, staying strong when many small independents have been closing down. I support small businesses however I can as a blogger, and in the run up to Christmas, shopping small and local is more important than ever!

I’m rather sheepish to say that I didn’t get them a gift for their birthday, but instead they sent me a very generous gift which I’m sharing with you today.

These amazing Vagabond Chelsea boots!

Jake Shoes Vagabond Boots

Chelsea boots are a wardrobe staple, and I have to admit I’ve been hankering after a pair for a while. I’m rather fussy with boots – high street copies of real leather styles just don’t cut it, both visually and in terms of how they feel on your feet.

These Chelsea boots are real leather, and after wearing them in with extra thick socks I can envisage them being comfortable for years to come.

the elastic around the ankle is robust yet gives enough for me to tuck in my jeans. I love the rich tan colour of the leather, they are perfect for autumn days, and will carry me well into winter and spring with the durable heels and soles. They are available in various other colours and styles, too.

I found them pleasantly neat on my feet – as a size 7 chunky boots make me feel rather stomp-y.

I styled them with my skinny jeans from Next and my zip grey tee from M&S.

I made my selection by using their new website, which is easy to navigate and filter down to style or brand of my choosing.

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Jake Shoes do their own designs as well, which you can browse on their website – I must admit I’ve got my eye on a few pairs of shoes at the moment!

Thank you so much to Jake Shoes for the opportunity to write for them. It’s always great to support Manchester Businesses, and see the Northern powerhouse growing.

The boots were selected by me and sent as a gift from Jake Shoes, however all opinions are my own!

Jake Shoes Vagabond Boots

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