Review: East Side, Caterham

When I heard that East Side and independent artisan delicatessen and organic coffee house was opening near us, I was excited.  Finally, a coffee house that was not part of an ever-growing chain.  I was also delighted to hear that it was being opened by one of the teaching assistants from my daughter’s school.  Isn’t it inspiring to hear that people are following their dreams?

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My daughter and I visited East Side on 31st of October and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  From following the progress of the shop fitting, I knew that East Side was a deli/coffee house inspired by a New York deli.  Having never been to New York I was delighted to find that it was just like the Big Apple Deli’s of my imagination.

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Decorated in what I would consider an industrial chic style with a mixture of vintage inspired and modern pieces it felt inviting and just a little bit posh.  Rather than pandering to a coffee shop chain, it felt as if each piece of furniture and decoration had been loving chosen with much consideration.   The brick wall look wallpaper and canvases depicting scenes of yellow taxi cabs and city views sparked the imagination and I felt as if I could indeed be in New York.   Add in old blue eye, Frank Sinatra himself crooning in the background and just walking in felt special.  I was also pleased to see that the Halloween decorations were carefully selected and fitted the scheme well.

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East Side is proud of its Ethos which includes providing good quality British produce and fairer than fair trade organic coffee, while being mindful of farm to fork miles and using recyclable packaging wherever possible.  It’s lovely to see so much thought go into an independent enterprise.

15049597_10154469442715659_544774393_nAlthough there were no menus on the tables, was so much on offer via the old-fashioned chalk board and at the counter.  Everything from slices of cake to caramelised onions and goats cheese pies.  Even a few homemade pork pies.   On offer were also a selection of American style sandwiches on bread of your choice.

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Since my daughter is on a dairy free diet, I asked about dairy free options and was delighted to find the owners were very knowledgeable about what was in their products.  They even offered vegan spread for the sandwich.  Gluten free bread options were also available, those with intolerances and allergies will be happy to know.

My daughter enjoyed a malted bread ham sandwich and a blackcurrant cordial.  The ham was thankfully not one of those horrible reconstituted loaves but looked rather like a slice of ham cut straight from a ham joint. It was thick and meaty and tasted delicious.

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I didn’t fancy any of the options on the menu that day and asked if I could have a custom sandwich of bacon, brie and caramelised onion toasted on ciabatta bread and was happily accommodated. It was utterly delicious!  I also had the nicest latte I have possibly ever had.  The coffee had such a smooth flavour and left no bitter after taste like some large coffee chains. The owners informed me that they had tried this coffee blend two years ago and had been so impressed with it they knew they had to serve it in their deli.

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In the fridges, a large selection of local charcuterie and cheeses to buy all of which the owners were happy to talk about and recommend.  There was also local honey and jams.  The fridge by the counter had a large selection of pork pies, pasties, pastries and cakes as well as some gluten free options either to eat in or take away for later.  What a lovely idea to stop in for a coffee but take home a dinner of charcuterie and cheese.  Add a bottle of wine and some crackers and you’ve got a low fuss dinner.

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The only down side I could see is that East Side might not be the best place to take small children.  Being on the snug side, the tables that are perfect for adult dining would not be able to accommodate buggies and there is limited space on the floor for little ones to play.  But on the other hand, it’s not really a kiddie sort of place.

I am so happy to have such a gem in our little town and look forward to my next visit.

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Bright Blessings,

Mrs R

x

 

My Fair Vintage tea shop

Hello my lovelies,

I have found the most amazing little cafe ever!  It’s just a tiny bit fabulous and I’m so excited to share it with you. It’s called My Fair Vintage and it’s found in Caterham, Surrey.

Everything about this place is straight out of my dreams  vintage tea shop dreams, and I adore it.  Aren’t those cute hanging tea pots and tea cups cute?

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As you walk inside, you are greeted with vintage loveliness and a cosy warm feeling of homecoming. Everywhere you look, there are gorgeous little trinkets and homewares to buy and beautiful vintage looking tea shop decorations that make my inner Pinterest maniac purr in delight!

Just look at those hand painted chairs and tables and the hanging honeycomb decorations…

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This picture is taken from their Facebook page and shows their toe curling Christmas deccies. I’m gutted I didn’t get a chance to visit during the festive season but have definite plans to go this year.

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Alice in Wonderland inspired homewares that I was sooo tempted to buy… and just look at that grogeous painted welsh dresser. It’s for sale, as is other furniture around the store.

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More gorgeousness!  But would you look at that red velevet cake!  The proprietress bakes all the cakes and scones from scratch. She’s a real cake baking master. Paul Hollywood eat your heart out!

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Let us bask for a moment in the  gloriousness that is this cake.

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On the day we visited, there were plain scones, fruit scones, victoria sponge cake, chocolate mini egg cake, coffee and walnut cake, carrot cake and what looked like lemon drizzle cake. How can anybody make a choice?

In the corner on the way to the kitchen is this vintage sweet shop where lovely sweeties are weighed by the pound. Dotted around the shop are sweetie cones filled with nougat, fudge and brightly coloured gem coloured candies.

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There’s a list of teas to choose from but I’ve always loved my breakfast tea which is what I ordered. I adore that everytime I visit I get a different tea cup.  All of the tea cups and pots are mismatched and unique. My daughter loves chosing her table based on which tea cup she wants to drink from.

Swish family Robertson

Swish family Robertson

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She calls My Fair Vintage the Posh tea place because she gets to drink tea from these lovely cups and can actually strain it through a little silver strainer. Fascination in the extreme to a five year old princess wannabe.

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The menu is everything you would expect from such a lovely tea shop.  The kitchen is tiny yet they manage to prepare such lovely meals at very reasonable prices. And all prepared from scratch.

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Swish family Robertson
I’m taking my good friend here in April for her birthday for afternoon tea and I’m excited to say that it was made possible because My Fair Vintage are able to cater so ably for those with food intolerances and allergies.

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I bring my daughter here at the end of every term as a little treat for working so hard and being well behaved at school. In July, I’ve decided to start a new tradition with her of coming here for afternoon tea.

Who wouldn’t want a bit of this!

On the day we visited, we tucked into this gorgeous chocolate cake.  It’s honestly the chocolatiest, moistest most decadent cake I’ve ever had.

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We landed up sharing the cake and the Bacon, brie and cranberry panini between us because I knew my little one would never be able to eat the cake and a whole sandwich.  Worked out well for me though because I got the best of both worlds!

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I honestly cannot recommend My Fair Vintage enough. Over the past year I’ve been visiting they have surpassed all my expectations and never failed to delivery not only excellent service, but quality food and a special experience every time.  Check out their Facebook page for opening hours and the latest news.

I hope you’ll visit and find it as fabulous as I have.

Bright blessings,

Mrs R

x

Hello my lovelies,

I’m excited to tell you about this cracking Curried Cous Cous Salad I’ve been enjoying lately.  It’s tasty, quick  and easy!  You can make it up and enjoy it in your lunch box during the week. Just make sure you serve it with lots of speed food ’cause it’s free food but you wanna make sure you’ve got 1/3 a plate of speed food to ensure a good weight loss.

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Here’s the recipe:

130g of Cous Cous (dried)

1 chicken/vegetable oxo cube

1 teaspoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon sweetener

35g of raisins (3.5 syns)

Place the cous cous in a bowl and crumble the oxo cube in with a teaspoon of curry powder, sweetner and 35g of raisins (3.5 syns). Cover with boiling water and allow to stand to absorb.

Mix once water has been absorbed and allow to cool. This makes around 4 portions so that’s about 1 syn per portion (rounded up).

Enjoy!

Mrs R

xxx

 

Pulse and Prejudice – a review

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I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Pulse and Prejudice by Colette L. Saucier for Netgalley.com.

I really did not want to like this book. As a die-hard Pride and Prejudice fan I have always felt that there should be no messing with the perfection of the original tale. But while I love my precious original version I must admit to having my interest piqued by the spin off tales I’ve been seeing in recent years.

Pulse and prejudice appealed to me because I enjoy a good supernatural novel and the idea of Mr Darcy as a vampire appealed probably more than I care to admit.

I started the book thinking it would be a waste of time and was prepared to scoff at what I thought would be a bumbling attempt at reinventing the wheel. I’m not ashamed to admit how very wrong I was.

I LOVED Pulse and Prejudice and having just finished it, feel I need to read it again!

I found it fascinating how the author managed to completely explain the original Mr Darcy’s behaviour by turning him into a vampire. Suddenly he became so much more likeable from the early pages rather than part way through the book. We see such depth and complexity to his character that I now realise was lacking in the original telling of the tale. But then again, Jane Austen could not have shown more of Darcy’s character and inner depth because her version was written almost entirely in Elizabeth Bennet’s point of view.

I found it disconcerting how the author seemed to use chunks of prose and dialogue from the original novel. I did however, think the use of quotes from famous poets and playwrights was a clever touch that showed how much research had gone into the novel.

The vampiric elements of the novel were cleverly interwoven into the storyline so that the reader can almost believe that Jane Austen herself must have known Mr Darcy was a vampire and forgot to tell us.

I was shocked by the love scenes between Darcy and Elizabeth because there were none in the original version and I hadn’t expected there to be any in the new version.  While said love scenes brought the novel into the modern world I felt that these, along with the other intimate moments between Elizabeth and Darcy helped to  portray a closer connection between them. The intimate scenes also fed the readers appetite for the romance that many felt to be lacking in Mr Darcy and Elizabeth’s declaration of love for each other close to the end of the original novel.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this novel it seems a shame that others might read it before reading Jane Austen’s version and assuming Colette L. Saucier the genius who invented such interesting characters. Other than that I loved this novel and can’t wait to read it again.

*Please note that while I was able to read this book for free for review, I will always express my honest opinion.  If I don’t like a product or an item I review I will say why and be honest about it. *

Bright blessings,

Mama R

x

Review: Garnier Ultimate Blends – the marvelous transformer

Hello my lovelies,

You must allow me to share with you my new favourite product!

Introducing, Garnier Ultimate Blends – the marvelous transformer!

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I do market research for Bzzagent a highly rewarding market research company. I have been doing market research for them for the past year and have tested products such as Lindt chocolates, sun creams and Dr Oetke pizzas.

The latest package that arrived from Bzzagent was filled with these gorgeous products and I couldn’t have been more delighted.

Since I had my daughter, my hair has suffered badly.  It’s been dry and dull, not to mention bushy. Whether from hormones or something else I don’t know.  I thought it was just split ends but even after having a hair cut within a couple of weeks it was back to being bushy.  I tried Argan oil but it made no difference and I kept on using my usual Pantene. Being a young mum it was easier, much easier to just put my hair up into a bun and be done with it.

I had no idea that a shampoo or indeed, a hair care ‘system’ would make such a huge difference.  I really wish I had taken before and after pictures but it never crossed my mind because I didn’t think it would make much of a difference to simply change my hair care products.

Using these products could not be simpler.  I just washed my hair as usual in the shower and used the conditioner afterwards.

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Before I shaved my legs, I put on the 1 minute treatment and continued to shave.  I rinsed it out and towel dried my hair. Running my hands through my hair afterwards, it already felt less dry and brittle. I combed my hair out and went to bed.  I must admit to never drying my hair with a hairdryer at night.

The next morning, when I woke up I was astonished!  My hair felt light and silky!  Gone was the bushiness I’d been experiencing and instead my hair was sleek and shiny! It also smelled lovely.  I added the Marvelous Glow Oil and the smell was intensified.

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I got several compliments about my hair over the next few days.  People asked if my hair had recently been cut, or mentioned how shiny it was. I also had someone mention that my hair looked so healthy.

I’ve been using Garnier Ultimate Blends – the marvelous transformer for two weeks now and I know I will never look back.  I noticed this product was on special at Morrisons and have bought several more bottles of Garnier Ultimate Blends – the marvelous transformer to make sure I never run out!

This product is highly recommended and nothing short of amazing.

Bright blessings,

Mama R

Homemade – a book review

*this is not a paid review*

 I found this absolute gem of a book at my local library and I love it so much, I NEED to order myself a copy.  It’s on the budget for next month.  I’m talking about Reader’s Digest Homemade.

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This manual for making it from scratch has a little bit of everything with a focus on every day items you’d normally pay a bomb for at your supermarket.

Some of the recipes require specialised equipment eg: a pasta machine or ice cream machine but I guess for those truly industrious souls there will be ways around this.   I’m particularly excited about the Pantry staples, pickles and preserves and home cleaning products sections.   I love the fact that not only are you saving money with these recipes and ideas but you’re also in complete control of what goes into your food and cleaning products.  No more harmful chemical nasties and preservatives!

If you’re new to a homemade lifestyle, DEFINITELY check out this book!

Bright blessings,

Mama R

x