Vintage Rocks Unveils The Cactus Cottage Hair Parlour in South Belfast

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When Clare Afshar started Vintage Rocks Hair Salon in 2009 in a little Avenue in South Belfast, she hoped, but she never dreamed of the success that would come her way as the business grew in size and prestige over the years. Word of mouth ‘marketing’ would swell her customer base month by month, as tales would be spun about the little, retro hair parlour near Forestside, creating the most stunning coloured barnets in Belfast, and bohemian curls to die for. (click any photo for a closer look)

Clare took on more stylists, trainees, and even an in-house makeup artist in the later years, as business kept booming. Clare and her team are known for beautiful, intricate wedding hair, weaving in fruit and flowers. They are kept busy all year long with weddings, and Clare loves making someone’s special day flow easily.

But as the books grew bigger, Clare felt that part of what made Vintage Rocks unique, was being lost- she wanted to scale things towards a private salon. 

Private salons are very common in bigger cities like London, L.A. and New York, and Clare can keep her client list and work to an appointment only schedule in the brand new salon she has had made especially for the relaunch. 

Introducing, The Cactus Cottage Hair Parlour. 

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Vintage Rocks was Belfast’s first vintage hair salon, and Clare will still specialise in those styles, along with coloured hair and curls. She uses beautiful products which are all cruelty free. 

All appointments are one-to-one, and whether Clare is working with someone who is young or old, she just loves making them feel wonderful when they leave the salon, and happy with their style.

Being a private salon allows a more ‘distilled’, exclusive Vintage Rocks experience, which is more true to the origins of the parlour and what Clare envisioned from the beginning, and what she wants going forward for the salon and her clients.

There’s a reason Vintage Rocks boomed in popularity so greatly, and why Clare is in such great demand. Personally, I have been going to Vintage Rocks since it opened in 2009, and I drive from Bangor, which is a good 90 minute round trip to get my hair done- but it’s worth it, and I wouldn’t go anywhere else; and of course I will be following Clare to the Cactus Cottage.

Find Vintage Rocks on Facebook. 

Vintage Rocks on Instagram

Phone 07565753900

click any photo of the salon below to enlarge

 

Karen Mabon’s New Scarf Collection Is Ultra Iconic - Partying Sausage Dogs

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My favourite accessory designer is back with her new collection, with party sausage dogs, owls, and under-sea adventures adding to the family of silk scarf prints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time Karen Mabon adds glorious swimwear to her brand, and I love it.

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The purist in me loves Karen’s scarves the most though, and I adore to the core the ‘Fashion Scarf’ covered in dolled up fashion victims like me. I totally spy a leopard print coat and a stripy skirt.

 

 

It comes in two colours.

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My other favourite from the new collection, probably my actual top favourite to be honest, is Shelf Life because it appeals to the collector in me. You’ve got your little teapot and leopard and sideboard and I just love it to bits.

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Okay! Go visit Karen Mabon today, you get free UK shipping, the new collection is live, new scarves, swimwear, there’s cushions too, there will be umbrellas soon too (if you keep up to date with Instagram stories you get sneak peeks!)

 

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Snazzy Picnic Week Lunch- Thanks, DELI-LITES!

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The sunny weather has returned, just in time for Picnic Week! Northern Ireland’s own delicious sandwich, sub and salad range DELI-LITES popped by with a little picnic for me. 

Their newest food-to-go range includes dairy free, vegan and gluten free options, as well as superfood bespoké bowls, filling subs, and traditional much loved sandwiches. 

You can find DELI-LITES in Sainsburys, convenience stores and coffee shops across Northern Ireland. 

Belfast Chef Stephen Taylor-Winter Makes The Finals of M&S UK Wide Burger Competition

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Belfast-based chef, Stephen Taylor-Winter, and Chef in Residence for Gaggenau Ireland, has been selected by M&S as one of eight finalists in a UK wide burger competition.

This summer the retailer has launched its ‘Best Ever Burger’ and, to put it to the test, challenged top chefs across the country to create the ultimate burger topping recipe for their hometown, showcasing the very best regional flavours and produce.

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M&S’s Best Ever Burger features a mouth-watering combination of short rib, chuck steak and bone marrow for ultimate succulence, providing the base for Stephen’s creation. Taking inspiration from Belfast, Stephen’s recipe includes Young Buck Blue Cheese, which is the first raw milk cheese to be produced in the region, celeriac watercress and Northern Ireland’s infamous Hannan Guanciale, all topped with a punchy dressing of Dijon mustard, Horseradish sauce and Lakeshore Wholegrain mustard.

Stephen said: “Northern Ireland has amazing local produce and it’s been brilliant to put an Irish spin on M&S’s Best EverBurger. From Hannan’s Guanciale made in Ulster, to Young Buck Blue Cheese, I wanted this recipe to celebrate the breadth of produce in Northern Ireland, bringing together flavours for a knockout burger dish. I’m proud of our culinary heritage in the region and it’s been great to take part in a national challenge which has given this a fun and seasonal platform.”

Stephen was classically trained in France at Le Cordon Bleu and has worked in prestigious restaurants around the world. He has worked for all three Michelin star restaurants in Northern Ireland and has cooked for senior members of the Royal family. I wonder if the Queen enjoys a burger on the BBQ?

Marc Jacobs Twinkle Eau So Fresh Perfume Smells Like Parma Violets Sweets

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My search is over. I have literally blogged about this for almost a decade. I have hunted the Internet for a perfume that smells like Parma Violets and finally there is one that smells EXACTLY like them.

The newest Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh 75ml size is only £36.99 at The Perfume Shop  right now which is a massive saving. 

I happened to stop to test out their sample while passing their store this morning and couldn’t believe my search was finally over. 

A Trip to Dublin- M&S Summer Food Launch - Adventurous Eating Ahead! #MandSSummer

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On Thursday I took a little trip to Dublin for the evening thanks to Marks & Spencer Ireland, who invited me to taste test some of the Summer 2018 Food Hall range which will be appearing in stores very soon.

Whilst it’s backwards it begin with dessert, the most ‘kitsch’ and unusual products I spotted were from those ranges, so let me share those first. 

The Ice Cream Toffees (below) are simply delicious, very sweet and very moreish.

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The Sea Salt & Vinegar Caramels had to be the biggest ‘must try’ of the whole evening for me. I’d describe them as being like a salted caramel with a little bit of a kick. There’s definitely not a sour vinegar taste to them. Definitely one of those products I love M&S for, because I love trying new tastes and combinations and get so fed up of the same old pairings so anything crazy like this I always have to try out.

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Ditto these, Milk Chocolate Truffles infused with Oak Matured Vintage Cider, but they get even more cool points by being packaged in miniature wooden barrels. These are perfect presents for cider connoisseurs, they are just terribly cute.  

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Lots more from the Sweet Treats stand, the gourmet mallows are divine by the way, if you see them in store they are worth a try.

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Onwards to The Grill. M&S have launched a great range of affordable meat with offers across many selections of cuts.

On the night we had choices of beef, steaks, vegetarian sausages (the sweet potato is my top choice from 2017 btw), and their ever popular burgers.   

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Their picnic ranges are sublime with plenty of veggie options including the little Beetroot & Mint, and Carrot & Pumpkin Seed Veggie Bites you see at the front below.

Of course the Deli Coleslaw and Potato Salads are the stuff of legends, but if you haven’t heard they also do other low calorie options like Beetroot & Pink Apple Slaw.

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We also has some lovely cocktails to try, but the kitsch option I have to show you is the Penny Cocktail which had a delicious British Strawberry Cream Soda mixer in it. 

Of course the mixer is a non-alcoholic lemonade, so watch out for that one in store for summer BBQ parties. 

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I can’t wait to see everything start to arrive in my local M&S, there are so many tasty treats to pick up! The BBQ Grill items for this summer especially are going to be delicious. The beef was so tender it was as if it had been slow cooked for 48 hours. 

I’m hungry all over again! 

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SeedCell - A Quirky Little Garden Project For Your Family, The Future of Growing Your Seeds

I’ve always grown veg each year starting since Smix brought home the traditional planted bean from nursery and it gave me the window-sill gardening bug, which is ironic as I also have the knack of killing house plants. I can keep vegetables alive for the span of spring to harvest, but give me a house plant and it’s dead within the span of a year.

Anyway, the past two years I’ve had those snazzy little greenhouses you buy in B&M Bargains that you build a bit like the kids’ play tents from the 1980s’ from plastic rods, with a big tarpaulin over the top. I was scuppered last July when we were away on our Portstewart week and there was a stormy night and when we came home my greenhouse had blown over and all my veg for that year had been ruined. The greenhouse had been destroyed.

This year, I was Googling to see who had the same greenhouse for the best price and was giddy (I’m easily pleased) to find Home Bargains had a WALK IN one for only £19.99 (it was online but it isn’t now, but they do still have them in my local store. I also bought two of these smaller ones.) 

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On May Day my Dad came round and helped me construct it and it was actually quite a good size. You can stand up fully inside it, and it’s sturdy. My dad put some brackets on the decking to secure it, and some screws on the bricks to make sure it wouldn’t move around or blow over like the smaller one did last year.  

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Anyway, on to my review. I had lots of regular seeds planted, but SeedCell contacted me about their very cool product, a biodegradable seed packaging that snaps off and simply pushes down into the soil. 

There are lots of variety of seeds to choose from and they sent me many to plant. I got some herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, all in the easy to plant triangular pods.  

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How you use them-  Soaking a pot of compost or patch of soil in water, the individual cells - once snapped free -can be pushed down into the earth. The curved topside of the seed pod remains above ground allowing rainwater to runoff, preventing the seed from getting soggy and also providing a more visible marker for the location of emerging seedlings.  Once planted, the seed pod absorbs and retains the moisture it needs, feeding the water directly to the seeds inside using patented water absorbing technology. The pod protects the seeds as they begin to germinate in a safe microclimate, before breaking down naturally and leaving zero waste. * In my photographs the seed pods aren’t fully pushed down, they should be pushed in further but I wanted to show you what they looked like.

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What I loved was that you didn’t get your hands muddy, pushing the pod in you didn’t have to touch the soil at all, so if you wanted to do some planting with your kids, this could be a very mess-free way of doing so. 

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Also because you can buy the SeedCells in single pods, rather than how you usually buy packs of seeds, if you live in an apartment in the city and you are pushed for space and maybe only want to plant one pot of chives or coriander or a sunflower, you don’t have to buy a pack of 100 seeds, you can just buy a single SeedCell. There is no waste. 

 

 

 

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I also love their box of mixed seeds too, it’s also a good idea for those who want to grow a ‘salad’ and don’t want to buy three or four packs of seeds and have lots of left over seeds unused. They’ve been really clever and thought of what people really want from a product. 

I really love this product range and look forward to seeing what comes next from them. You can buy their products from their website, or Amazon, find them in DIY stores and Garden Centres. Their Instagram is @grow_seedcell Twitter @grow_seedcell Facebook SeedCell Youtube SeedCell Videos 

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Mad Men Furniture in Game of Thrones Locations? Surprisingly, It Looks Fabulous - Betty’s Lounge Homewares

 Carrickfergus Castle

Carrickfergus Castle

Betty’s Lounge Homewares is a vintage furniture specialist, where they curate the finest mid-century pieces from all over the globe, bringing them to Northern Ireland for collectors to purchase, but also for movie and television productions locally.

Their Instagram feed is an absolute beauty, packed with swoon-worthy furniture, kitsch adventures (their recent trip to L.A. looks a lot of fun), and pieces that they have chosen to add to their collection that you can purchase yourself.

Betty’s Lounge is pretty exclusive, viewing is by appointment, but the good news is they also have pop up shops at the start of each month, which you can find out about on their Facebook page. These can be in various locations in Ireland both North and South, so if there’s something you see amongst their separate Instagram Feed of Current Betty’s Lounge Stock, and you fall in love with it, you could ask them to bring it along to a pop up near you. Otherwise they ship all over U.K. and Ireland.

 The Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges

It was their show-stopping photos of beautiful Eames Lounge Chairs in some of Northern Ireland’s most stunning locations from their main Instagram feed that caught my eye though. They even took a classic chair to The Dark Hedges, one of the actual locations from Game of Thrones.

Admittedly I am a freak with an Eames Chair tattoo, but I think these photos are something I would even put on my wall, especially in lieu of being able to afford one of the actual chairs myself, as yet! A tattoo and one of Betty’s beautiful photographs is as close as I can get right now! 

(All photography copyright Betty’s Lounge) 

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 Titanic Attraction

Titanic Attraction

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