The Complete Menu of Options for the M&S Valentines' Dine In Special 2016. What Will You Choose?

It's my favourite Marks & Spencer Dine In long weekend of the whole year, the £20 Valentines' selection. The courses are always sprinkled with total show stopping choices, like this year's silver pearls of smoked salmon as a starter.

So without further ado, here are the options for each course.

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So, what did I choose? The Mexican lime non-alcoholic option for our drinks. Starter just HAD to be those silver salmon pearls. The main is steak, side is garlic mushrooms. For dessert I chose the twin hearts for us, and the meal also includes a little box of chocolates.

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I also picked up this gorgeous white chocolate mini-cake, which wasn't in store when I did the Valentines' gifts post last week's. It hasn't lasted until Valentines' day however, Smix and I ate it this afternoon. 

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The M&S Valentines' Dine In 2016 runs until 15th February, and is in store now. 

Novelty Pancakes. Too Good to Eat?

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Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, so that makes today Pancake Day. The day to use up all the ingredients that people adhering to Lent will be avoiding. The day to ruin a frying pan or two, and set off the hall smoke alarm.  

Whats your choice though? Thin, European style crepes? Or thick, fluffy, American breakfast pancakes? 

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I asked Twitter for their favourite pancake accompaniments. 

@RaphaRat "I'm French but I definitely go for the big, fluffy, thick ones!! #yum" 

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@TheSarahStoryNI "I *may* do mine with bacon and Nutella today!" 

@SummerRay "Bacon & Maple syrup all the way". 

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@RichardJohn "Golden syrup, banana". 

@LeStewpot "Lemon & Sugar or icecream & raspberries". 

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@Foppyish "Chocolate, peanut butter and banana. ALL AT THE SAME TIME". 

@JayneKitsch "Weave bacon into a lattice and bake with a layer of brown sugar and cinnamon. It'll go beautiful and is amazing for pancakes or as a burger topping". 

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The Valentines' Day 2016 Marks & Spencer Lust List

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Marks & Spencer Valentines' Day food & drink gifts 2016 are as inventive yet classic as every year. Lots of sweets, and a selection of comical Valentines' Day cards. You can view many gifts online, but here's what I spied in the Sprucefield store yesterday.

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The floral options are bright and colourful. Stray from the usual dozen red roses with yellow, orange and pink buds.

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They had these limited edition chocolate sculptures at Christmas, but the red shoe has came along for Valentines. 

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Here are some treats I brought home. 

Jellies £3 : Sweet Hearts £1.50 : Love Hearts £3

Jellies £3 : Sweet Hearts £1.50 : Love Hearts £3

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These are from the spring sweet collection, but many boxes are wrapped in wrapping paper. Saving you the job. 

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Rose & Violet £4 : Marzipan Fruits £4

Rose & Violet £4 : Marzipan Fruits £4

These mini cupcake chocolates are so cute. 

Cupcake chocs £8

Cupcake chocs £8

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If chocs & sweets don't suit your loved one, then I spied some gorgeous Indiand themed interior accessories in the home department. The faux elephant taxidermy is very cool. 

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Celebrate Chinese New Year at M&S

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Monday 8th February marks the Chinese New Year, this one ahead being the year of the monkey. You can celebrate in style with traditional Chinese dishes from Marks & Spencer's Food Hall. There are western favourites such as spring rolls and egg fried rice, but also some less familiar dishes for the adventurous, such as prawn dim sum and dumplings.

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The Chinese Favourites box, priced £10 is the best value. It has rice, chicken dishes and two vegetarian options included in the handy takeaway style box. I love duck wrapped in those delicate little Asian pancakes, and you can choose whole, half or quarter duck sizes.

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You'll find many takeaway favourites in the M&S Chinese range, plus some dishes you might not have tried before. If you've never had Singapore Noodles then you should try them. They are one of my favourites. 

I've tried a few different dishes from this range previously and have never had any complaints. Home prepared rice or noodles can be tricky to get right, but I loved the egg noodles from M&S.

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The whole range is quick and easy to prepare, no need for marinating or dicing. The selection of appetisers is great too, with ribs, spring rolls and sesame toast.

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£3

£3

Dim Sum £3.30 : Toast £3.75

Dim Sum £3.30 : Toast £3.75

Finally, what's a Chinese meal without prawn crackers!

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A Bouquet of Devine Scents for Valentines' Day, from Yankee Candle

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A dozen red roses is the Valentines' cliche that no woman really minds. It might not be inventive, but it does always feel special. But what if you'd like to give your partner something a little more, or maybe your girlfriend is allergic to real bouquets of flowers, in that case Yankee Candle's True Rose collection of home fragrance can swoop in to the rescue.

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True Rose and Wedding Day are 'Fragrances of the Month' which means you'll get 25% off purchases of those scents. It's a beautiful looking jar, with the bright red to brighten up a room during the tail end of winter. 

The scent is accurate and nostalgic for me. My Gran used to grow roses outside her little house, so there was a welcoming scent when you walked the path to her door. 

If you prefer reed diffusers, then True Rose is available in that format too. Reed diffusers are lovely to place in a bathroom for a long time aroma in a smaller space. 

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Pink Carnation makes a special appearance this month, and a trip to your local Yankee store will prove that you can put together a bouquet of floral scents, if you feel like being adventurous with your home fragrance. Perhaps use a tart burner with half of a True Rose tart, and half of a pink carnation tart and see how it smells. 

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So if you're stuck for present ideas, why not visit Yankee Candle and pick from their cutely packaged romantically themed sets.  

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Sakura Sushi, Belfast - I Got It Wrong...

Back in August last summer I posted a blog touting  The Battle of the Belfast Sushi Joints. Back then my favourites, Yo Sushi! Belfast came out on top, but I believe I was a little hasty writing Sakura in Botanic off as too authentically Japanese for me (not necessarily even a bad attribute!).

Sakura's mighty nigiri tray

Sakura's mighty nigiri tray

In August when I went along to order take out from Sakura, I was struck by the distinct lack of pictures of what everything was on the menu. Even as a sushi enthusiast I'm very much still a 'point at the picture of the sushi I want' customer, even dining at Yo! So I just asked Sakura to make me up some sort of takeaway and unfortunately that day they chose a huge platter of only nigiri (raw fish on blocks of rice). No rolls of any sort, or even maki. 

Then, as a Yo Sushi! westernised sushi experience veteran, I was faced with a piece of nigiri that literally had octopus suckers on it.  I concluded Sakura was too rich for my tastes.

It's got suckers on it! 

It's got suckers on it! 

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So, Thursday past, Fashion Week launch, I'm up in Belfast anyway so I take advantage of being near somewhere that actually sells sushi (Bangor is a sushi desert) and with parking easier near Sakura, I decide to have another try.

Hooray! A giant sign outside with PICTURES of three different trays you can buy to takeaway. I immediately go inside and point to the sign with glee. I chose the medium tray on Thursday, but today I picked up one of each of the sizes to show you what you can get. 

Small £4.80 Medium £8.50 Large £12.50

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These rolls are especially good, they've crispy bits in them (technical foodie term). 

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So Sakura, forgive me, I was wrong and now I love you. The website gallery shows me many wonders I would love to try too. Maybe I should print out the pictures and take it with me to do a bit more pointing ordering. The rolls with the yellow on top, second down left, those look GOOD. 

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Daring Double Denim Launches West Coast Cooler Belfast FASHIONWEEK

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Yesterday the well-heeled of Belfast & beyond gathered for the launch of the schedule of Belfast Fashion Week, March 10th - 13th 2016. 

We will see the return of nightly catwalk shows featuring collections from both the high street as well as from independently owned boutiques plus local designers’ work and the popular Sushi Saturday and Style Sunday events to round off the long weekend of fashion.

 

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 THURSDAY 10 March, ALL DAY ‘Cutting It’ Workshops & Seminars. An all-day event geared towards those seeking careers advice or inspiration/information on careers in the fashion, film & costume industry locally. For more information, contact BFW on 02890421509

THURSDAY 10 March, 8.00PM - DESIGNER BOUTIQUES AND LOCALDESIGNERS. Tickets priced at £20 or £30 for FROW available from 028 9024 6609 or via www.belfastfashionweek.com

FRIDAY 11 March, 8.00PM - HIGH STREET. Tickets priced at £20 or £30 for FROW available from 028 9024 6609 or via links on www.belfastfashionweek.com

SATURDAY 12 March, 2.00-4.00pm - SUSHI SATURDAY “The Director’s Cut” at ZEN. To book, call 02890421509price £30pp.

SATURDAY 12 March, 8.00pm FASHION AWARDS.  Tickets priced at £20 or £30 for FROW available from 028 9024 6609 or via links on www.belfastfashionweek.com

SUNDAY 18 OCTOBER, 2.00-5.00pm - STYLE SUNDAY in support of Action Cancer at Deane’s at Queen’s. To book call 02890381555

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Fashion Week director, Cathy Martin (in the above video in gold sequins) usually enforces a 'no jeans rule' on fashion week catwalks, but she's bending her own rules this year for the 'daring in denim' trend. It's easy to do: wear as much denim as possible in one go! I loved the outfits for this look. Denim pinafores, huge flared trousers, and a sequin badge adorned jacket from Diamond Dolls in Banbridge. 

Check out the sequins jeans on the model on the left, in mermaid colours of blue & green. 

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Former Miss NI absolutely rocking local designer Nor Lisa striped dress

Former Miss NI absolutely rocking local designer Nor Lisa striped dress

The second highlighted trnd was pretty, girly ruffles. Lots of wedding guest wear, but I love the cheeky edge of the Topshop silk bomber jacket on the model far left.

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The final look on the models combined acid brights and sequins, both going to be huge this spring.  I love brights, especially wearing neon orange. See you at Fashion Week!

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W7 Make Facial Contouring Child's Play With Their Chunky Crayon Set at Under £5

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Contouring was one of the big makeup trends of 2015, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.  

Once the trick of drag queens and thespians taking to the stage, the Kardashian klan (rarely is that name whispered around The World of Kitsch) brought contouring to the world. Previously only used for heavy duty theatre makeup, many women now use the tricks of contouring as part of their daily routine.

The winning way to use contouring is to be subtle with it. Make it an every day quick routine, not a half hour layering process. 

It will take a little practice, so here's my top tip of a products to buy should you want to try your hand at contouring in 2016. 

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W7 is a cheap and cheerful makeup brand that I've seen locally in Gordon's Chemist and Menary's. You can also  buy online, or on eBay like I did. 

They have quite a few excellent dupe palettes, but it's their new contour crayons I'm drawing your attention to today. 

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For just under £4 I got the pack of three crayons, contour, bronzer, highlighter and it includes a handy sharpener.

The packaging shows you exactly where to draw the various shades onto your face, then all you have to do is blend it in. The crayon consistency means it's buildable colour- you can put on a little, or a lot. You can blend then add more should you desire a stronger look. 

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I've used a powder contouring set before, so I really liked playing around with the crayon instead. I prefer a powder for highlighting, but find the crayon easier for nose highlighting. So the w7 contouring crayon set is now part of my routine. Check out their other  contouring products in their store and let me know on Twitter if you've tried the crayons yourself @rudedoodle.

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