A Rainbow of Fresh, New, Quick & Easy Cook Dishes at M&S, and They Are 3 For £10 Right Now!

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I dare not speak the words healthy eating, as a blog post about such in January goes down about as well as if I had suggested eating your first born, but I’ll just whisper, the products featured in this post are from the M&S Balanced For You range, which does help if you are on a healthier lifestyle type thingy. 

 

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All the new products have the Eat Well sunflower symbol and are packed full of protein, good carbs, veggies, vitamins and a rainbow of delicious ingredients. New recipes include the Soy, honey and lime salmon, chipotle chicken, soy, ginger and lime chicken, tandoori chicken, and coconut and lemongrass chicken. They are extremely convenient for families and couples on the go as they can be quickly microwaved as an alternative to expensive takeaways, but still have the same fresh ingredients that other take home from supermarket microwave meals don’t have.

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If pasta is more your thing then there is a new macaroni on the block in the chicken, ham, macaroni and leek, which cooks in the oven. This joins the macaroni and cheese prawn Balanced For You which is one of my personal favourites and if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it (I picked one up when I picked up this batch of goodies).

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Remember all the ranges are 3 for £10 mix and match right now, so it’s a good time to try some new dishes and refresh some old favourites. The Veggie range, and Eat Well Range too.

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Dear Santa, One Last Thing, Or Two... Karen Mabon Cushions and 100% Silk Pyjamas For a Luxuriously Kitsch Christmas

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I adore Karen Mabon scarves. I own a few, I’ve framed one & hung it on my wall, and I’ve featured her designs many a time here on the blog because they are just so ‘me’. 

This year Karen launched a homeware department in her online store, which saw many of her classic scarf designs translated into beautiful scatter cushions to brighten up any retro living quarters. 

As it’s so close to Christmas, some of the designs are sold out, but there are still some available right now to order as gifts. 

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I have the scarf print of the deep sea fellows!  

I have the scarf print of the deep sea fellows!  

If you’re feeling especially fancy, there are also 100% silk pyjama shirts, shorts and trousers too. The zodiac print in cheerful yellow is my favourite.

Should you be buying any Karen Mabon gifts for others, there is a gift wrapping service and you have until this Thursday (21st Dec) to order something in time for Christmas delivery. 

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Before I leave, I just have to note Karen’s three Christmas themed limited edition scarves. Only 25 of each colour of the bauble adorned ‘Deck The Halls’ scarves were made, and the gold is still available for £48. The midnight blue is unfortunately sold out, as is Karen’s Heathrow Airport commissioned ‘Home For Christmas’ design. I still have to blog them though, cause they are so cool!

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Sweet Christmas Treats & Desserts, Including a Game of Thrones ‘Inspired’ Box of Chocolates, at M&S

£6

£6

We have just about a week left to go, and Marks & Spencer still have some fantastic deals on, as well as brand new Christmas products fresh on the shelves. 

Whether you are looking for a last minute gift, party food, or a dessert for Christmas day, everything is now in store to choose from. 

One of the offers this week is this jolly little wobbling Santa biscuit tin filled with chocolate shortbread, for just £6. 

If you have a Game of Thrones fan who is a sweet tooth, I imagine these ‘Fire & Ice’ Chest of Drawers of chocolates would make a great stocking filler.

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There are lots of golden treasures to choose from amongst the chocolate gifts

I particularly love the golden cocktail shaker filled with mojito, Cosmopolitan & espresso martini sweets.

Thereis also a box of mini salted caramel pine cones, for £12.

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It’s definitely time to allow yourself to eat party food for no other reason than the time of year, and along with the savoury & chilled selections, it’s also 4 for 3 on the desserts in the Party Food Deal.

There are the cute Red Velvet Santa Hat Cupcakes, which are a return from last year, but also mini Christmas Tree Chocolate Cupcakes too, which are equally adorable. There are tiny, gold star adorned Billionaire Shortbreads, and for your gluten free chums, Made Without Wheat chocolate Brownies. There are also mini mince pies.

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If you are looking for some last minute stocking fillers, there are little crafty bakery sets, like the Decorate Your Own Santa biscuits, and a Colour In Santa Game Pack complete with chocolates.

 

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There are also fun novelty sweet gifts for the grown ups, with games that could be fun for Christmas Day. There’s a Golf Game with Chocolate golf balls, a Hum That Tune game with a chocolate prize for the winner, plus chocolate football & skittle games. They are all mix and match 3 for 2.

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I’ve already ordered my M&S Christmas cake for the big day, and there are lots of show stopping desserts to chose from. The Penguin surprise cake will always be a winner with the kids, and adults can choose from various puddings, classic cakes, ice cream cakes and mousses.

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Lastly, a quick note on the gifts. I was in my local store today and a lot of the range is already 50% off, Including all M&S beauty gifts, and the glorious Zodiac themed presents of cushions, candles, paperweights and mugs. You might even want to treat yourself, with the cushions now reduced to £3.75 and mugs £4. Happy shopping! 

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There’s a VEGAN Chocolate Liqueur at M&S and You Can Get TWO Bottles for £16 Right Now: Plus All The Other Special Tipples To Make Your Christmas-Tree-Decorating Weekend Merry & Bright

£12 or two for £16

£12 or two for £16

Can you believe your eyes? Marks & Sparks have made an all vegan chocolate liqueur, so if the temptation of a Baileys on ice makes you go back to plain vegetarian at holiday time, now you can stick to your guns and sip their Coconut Chocolate Vegan liqueur of an evening (see below).

Lots of the speciality drinks are on offer right now, which I will share with you in this post,  but with the liqueurs especially you can buy two bottles for £16, or even buy a crate online at £8 each here.

In the deal you can mix and match flavours, so you can try the exotic Yule Log Flavour Liqueur, or Salted Caramel, Egg Nog Cream, or Chocolate Peanut.

£12 or two for £16

£12 or two for £16

£2

£2

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also offers on their mulled wines, both red and rosé (see further below), and their traditional Non Alcoholic Mulled Punch is a reasonable £2 a bottle. 

Mulled Rosé seems super posh, doesn’t it? 

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The wines & spirits aisle in Marks & Spencer is a veritable treasure trove right now, with a tonne of different delicious concoctions to serve at parties and gatherings to wow your friends and family. 

As I said many of the speciality drinks have the bonus of being on offer too, so it’s well worth having a nosy in store if you have a few more gifts to buy, as they are great value, look substantial and festive too.

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There’s up to 30% off Christmas drinks here, and you can save £3 off bottles of spirits and cocktails from this selection.

Another mix and match offer in store that I love, are these boxes of hot toddies in several different flavours (below). You can get 3 for 2. There’s Gingerbread Brandy Hot Chocolates and Salted Caramel Rum Hot Chocolates, £6 for a box of two, and they include the glasses.

You Just whizz them in the microwave for 45 seconds. It’s pretty cool that the cream in the drinks comes from a Northern Irish farm, just outside Coleraine too. 

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So there’s plenty of choice of tipples for the adults for this weekend and the holidays beyond, but for the teetotal amongst us, and under 18s, there are lots of tasty, seasonal drinks in M&S to try too. 

There’s the Non-Alcoholic Punch I mentioned before, as well as two different Mulled Juices in the fridges that can be enjoyed hot or cold.

 

My absolute favourite however is the Spanish Clementine Juice. I buy it throughout the year too, but I challenge you to try it and not get the massive wave of nostaligia I always get when I drink it. It doesn’t taste like ordinary, fresh orange juice, it tastes EXACTLY like the orange you got in your Santa Stocking every year. It’s so sweet and delicious. The usual two for £3 applies to the mix and match fresh juices.

In the lunch and snack fridge section you can try a mini Clementine drink (below), as they have that and an Orange, Pomegranate & Cranberry variety bottle. They are £1.50 each with a portion of sale going to Shelter, the homeless charity M&S heartily support every Christmas period.

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So make sure you check out all the fab offers in store this weekend, and the drinks gifts online . It’s a great weekend to pop into your local Marks & Spencer’s though, as they have the £10 Dine In Offer on all weekend.

Also I noticed all their beauty gifts are 50% off, which is huge, so if you still have some gifts to buy, M&S is your place. 

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Did You Know There’s a Giant Pikachu Hiding in Plain Sight in Bangor Town Centre? He’s in My Favourite Non-Residential Bangor Building.

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My favourite non-residential building in Bangor is one that you may not even take heed of. It’s sort of faded into the patchwork of the Main Street over the years, but when you take a good look, it’s a very unusual, modernist marvel.

From the front you can see the huge glass front door panel, and the windows are massive, and by the looks of them, still single-paned, which must mean it’s a pain to heat for current tenants Boom Studios

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The building was originally home to the Allied Irish Bank, built in 1969 to a design by Shanks & Leighton. Again I’m mourning my loss of a certain book, An Introduction to Modern Ulster Architecture, by David Evans, as it’s got a photo of the interior when the building was first built. It’s interior design was as modernistic as the outside. The walls swooped down to a curve to meet the floor, making the offices look like the inside of a spaceship, if perhaps the alien HR department.

A nice touch is the fact Boom Studios have had a poster made by Neal McCullough from Hand Drawn Creative (lots of great prints for Christmas gifts in his store by the way)  featuring the building itself.

So, the Pikachu? Well, Smix spotted it one day when we were walking down the town. It’s peeking out of one of the top windows, round the corner just off Main Street. Watch out for him next time you are down.

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Top Teacher Christmas Gifts They’ll Love To Receive, Including Gorgeous Diaries & Planners From Ryman Stationery

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It’s that time of year again, the toss up, do you gift your children’s teachers candles, soaps, or sweets? Well, this year you can give them something a little different, but something they be able to use and really appreciate. 

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Ryman Stationery’s online store has a wealth of gift ideas, including lots of beautiful diaries and planners. My absolute favourite pick has to be the gorgeous Zodiac themed notebooks, which would be suited to a family gift, as you will have to know their birthday to work out which to purchase!

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This year my son has a male teacher for the first time, so I chose this very cool Retro TV Games Console, which is actually on sale for £7.99 right now (I hope he isn’t reading this!) It plugs directly into your tv and had over 200 classic games, perfect for family fun on Christmas Day.

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There are also gift guides in the Ryman Christmas Shop, with presents at every price point. Everything I’ve featured in this post is under £15, with most being under £10, so super for that tricky to buy teacher gift, or stocking fillers for your loved ones.

You can take advantage of free shipping for orders over £40, or free click and collect for all orders. 

Have a nosy and try to resist buying yourself some fresh, shiny stationery if you can!

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Rudedoodle.tk- The Belfast Local Music Scene 2001-2005

Yakuza, The Front Page, playing ‘Curfew’ a yearly pre-12th of July look-down type affair

Yakuza, The Front Page, playing ‘Curfew’ a yearly pre-12th of July look-down type affair

 

 

I read ‘I’m With the Band’ recently, and it made me suitably nostalgic for my time when I would turn up to The Front Page no matter who was playing, at local gigs at least three times a week.  

I saw hundreds of shows, probably hundreds of bands, and loved the local bands more than the huge touring shows. Thirty of us dancing to a band playing their first show in the upstairs in Auntie Annies was my idea of heaven.  

The Dangerfields, Belfast’s hardest working, most on-the-road touring band, with dozens of members throughout the years

The Dangerfields, Belfast’s hardest working, most on-the-road touring band, with dozens of members throughout the years

The Killing Spree

The Killing Spree

 

 

 

I started loving only punk and rock, but as I met people, made friends, and agreed to go see their friend’s shows, I started loving dance music, indie stuff that I spent years mocking before, and by the end I would have turned up to see a guy banging a bin if it meant a good night out. 

Lightyear in Auntie Annies

Lightyear in Auntie Annies

Back then I had a blog, this is 2001 onwards, so it wasn’t called a blog, but it was a website that I updated with all the photos I would take at whatever gig the night before. By 2003 I found taking snaps of my friends, and strangers in the crowd, became almost as fun (and easier) than my always blurry digital camera photos of the actual show. 

Tracer AMC in Giros

Tracer AMC in Giros

So my site really took off then, as people would log on to see if there was a photo of them the next day. I blogged a lot on MySpace in the later years, 2004 onwards, and I wonder are there still photos on there. ... I’ll have to look.

Clockwise from top- Alan LaFaro & me, Cathal & Johnny Behind, Iona & Graeme (the proper photographers), Andy & Steven from Clone Quartet, and lastly Fastfude message board night out in Laverys. 

Clockwise from top- Alan LaFaro & me, Cathal & Johnny Behind, Iona & Graeme (the proper photographers), Andy & Steven from Clone Quartet, and lastly Fastfude message board night out in Laverys. 

Cave In, Auntie Annies. 

Cave In, Auntie Annies. 

But for now, here are some of my favourite pictures from that era, and if you want to see more, there are hundreds and about a hundred bands on the remaining site

There are three sections, local bands, touring bands, and snapshots, which are some of the crowd shots I treasure the most of all now. 

At the time 2000-2005 didn’t feel like it was a scene. It wasn’t the sixties, or the grunge era, but we definitely had such a beautiful music scene in Belfast, I will always keep fond memories of Skibunny, The Front Page, my stint working in Liberty Blue & that Little Pack we ran in for a while. 

I hope these photos bring you as much joy as they do me! Even though they are such terrible quality! 

Dirty Stevie in The Empire,  Fallout in Katy Dalys, The Debonaire's in Auntie Annies.

Dirty Stevie in The Empire,  Fallout in Katy Dalys, The Debonaire's in Auntie Annies.

Feline Dream, The Limelight

Feline Dream, The Limelight

Gavin from Panda Kopanda backstage in the Limelight, on stage in Katy Dalys. 

Gavin from Panda Kopanda backstage in the Limelight, on stage in Katy Dalys. 

Ciaran from Bloodbath Callaghan on stage in Auntie Annies, and Ciaran & Cathal near The Rotterdam

Ciaran from Bloodbath Callaghan on stage in Auntie Annies, and Ciaran & Cathal near The Rotterdam

Duke Special at The Waterfront

Duke Special at The Waterfront

Clockwise, Los Cabras The Front Page, The Vichy Goverment, The Uterus Women, and Goatboy in The Front Page

Clockwise, Los Cabras The Front Page, The Vichy Goverment, The Uterus Women, and Goatboy in The Front Page

Clockwise, Iden Green in Giros, The Evangleists in The Empire, Corrigan in Auntie Annies, Funeral For a Friend in The Mandela Hall

Clockwise, Iden Green in Giros, The Evangleists in The Empire, Corrigan in Auntie Annies, Funeral For a Friend in The Mandela Hall

The Most Luxurious Kitsch Scarves by Karen Mabon BLACK FRIDAY SALE

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I’ve been refreshing the Karen Mabon store since last Friday, well, because I thought last Friday was Black Friday.  

Karen designs the most ‘me’ scarves imaginable, and I love that she does a Black Friday sale, so I can bombard my parents with not so subtle hints to which print I would like from Santa this year.

The scarves are finest silk and cashmere, which means they are investment pieces for the quirky of us who would prefer a fancy dress dog print scarf to a posh handbag.

I truly think Karen’s pieces will only increase in price over the years, I’ve even got one of her scarves framed in my bedroom.

So get over to the sale and snap up a bargain! 

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