Work commitments or just general distractions. Whichever I blame I've managed to let another week pass by without any blogging. Sometimes the temptation to come and just laze about is too strong to resist. But mostly I've decided I wanted to stop feeling like I was writing stuff to fill space. So I've put off some of the posts I had planned, rather than subject you to mediocre writing. But that's only part of the reason. This week my real distraction has been work. I've been reading a lot of industry related books lately. We're hard at work on Precept's new site so a lot of my time has been going on content plans. And when I wasn't thinking about Precept content, I've been thinking about coaching and wwWomen.

wwWomen is a new programme from Go Digital, that's helping North East business women. And I'm going to be a mentor! Or digital champion, as they like to refer to it. I've gotten on board to offer support and advice, with a focus on brand and social media. Along with a group of other digitally-minded women, I'll be delivering workshops and masterclasses. We're offering support on all sorts of areas from social media masterclasses to branding . And even working with bloggers. Something that daunts a lot of business owners I've worked with. I don't know if it's reaching out themselves that's scary. But I'm looking forward to opening up their eyes to how bloggers can help their brand. Whether it's giving tips on contacting bloggers, or having companies handle your media buying. So rather than trawling the web, companies like Total media can handle your outreach. It's not just important to reach out to bloggers, it's about connecting with the right people. How you do that is every bit as important as sourcing those contacts in the first place.

After our first meeting, I'm really looking forward to helping out. It's useful to be able to wear my Precept hat as well as using my own experience as a blogger. And if anything, it's made me even more determined to improve my own blogging. I've started to build a good network of people who I work with professionally (as a brand manager) and as a blogger. So it makes sense for me to take a more strategic approach to working on my own blog. I don't want to start writing hints or tips about blogging as such. But I do want to put more thought into my content, than just quickly shoving posts together. That could mean one of two things: either I find it harder to put content out, or my productivity will increase. Here's hoping for the latter.
images via pinterest

Lately I've been having trouble writing. I've become obsessed with the idea of space, and how that is affecting my productivity. I've convinced myself that in order to trick the words out, I need a desk. A little haven I can call my own, where I can go when I want to work. If I had a desk, I'd be more productive than working from my bed or the kitchen table. If I had a desk it would be near a window. Somewhere light and airy. Somewhere I could listen to the rain against the glass. Or feel the warmth of the sunshine. And the slightly salted smell of the breeze as it whips across the river. It would probably a Scandi style minimal desk, kept clean and bare instead of being cluttered with the usual rubbish that the rest of my room is. It would have nice stationery on it. And space for fresh flowers and a Jasmine Dowling calendar.

Unfortunately, the space in my flat doesn't allow for the luxury of a desk. And if I tried to fit one in my room, I'd just end up feeling cramped. But since I've got it into my head that it's my space that's stopping the words, I decided I needed to do something about it. Instead of writing, I tied my room. I thought that with a clear space and a clear mind, the writing would come. But somewhere between straightening things up, scattering pillows, piling up books and arranging flowers, the words got stuck. I had built my little nest, but then I had nothing to say. There's nothing more frustrating than when your words won't come out. But I know the reason why, desks and quiet spaces aside. It's not the space that I'm struggling with. It's that I do have something to say, something that I do want to write about. But I'm struggling with how I want to write about it. I've not quite found the right words yet. So bear with me, because I think until I've managed to find a way to write about the thing that's really on my mind, content might be a bit of struggle.
Authentic Hoody and Wide Knit Beanie c/o Longsands Clothing Co (get 15% off with RASPBERRYK15)

When it comes to adventures in the great outdoors and exercise, usually I can think of something else I'd rather do. I'm not really a sporty person (other than ballet although my training is sporadic with at the moment). And camping is only ok when it involves live music and a lot of alcohol. Since I'm not exactly the outdoors adventure type, I wouldn't say that Longsands is one of those brands that I'd usually wear on a day to day basis. They're a North East based clothing company who offer a range of surf wear and outdoor clothing. Parodying the likes of American surf brands like Hollister, they've created a clothing range suitable for the biting winds and freezing North Sea, inspired by the epic and raw coastal landscape of the North East and Scotland. Their range is all designed and made in the UK, and for the last couple of weeks, I've been living in this hoody.
I've always had a thing about cosy hoodies, so while I might not be rushing out on a surfboard anytime soon, I love their Authentic hoody. It's made from a soft, super thick cotton/polyester blend and the hood is lined with a cream waffle fabric (which you can't really see in the photos). It's the easiest thing ever to just throw on if I need to nip out the flat and I can't be arsed to get ready properly. Or I'm just having one of those days where I want to slob around in something comfy. You know those days where all you want to do is eat pizza and watch TV boxsets non-stop. Usually those days are Sundays. I'm a firm believer that Sundays are a day of rest. Which invariably means I usually spend the whole day in PJs or get snuggled up in a hoody and jeans. But since the end of the Christmas holidays, I've been feeling restless and getting wrapped up in my new hoody and wide knit beanie, seemed like a good enough excuse for a wander. And of course to snap some photos of them...
From what I've seen of their range, it's all very easy to wear. And I know the jumper and hat are going to come in handy for Glasto in the summer where I need to keep warm inside a FREEZING tent. So even if you're not the sporty type, who doesn't need a decent hoody? And if you feel like treating yourself, you can bag 15% off your order by entering the code: RASPBERRYK15 at the checkout.

Outfit details:
Hoody c/o Longsands, beanie c/o Longsands, jeans: BDG mid rise cigarette, satchel: Dr Martens (similar here), boots: Kurt Geiger
No matter what city you live in, Italian restaurants are ten a penny. Decent Italian restaurants on the other hand, are often a little harder to find. You know the ones I mean.. the ones where you get deliciously thin and crisp pizzas.. or proper Italian carbonara with fresh egg (not like the creamy slop you find most places). More often than not, I always find that the best ones are where they make everything from scratch and import their ingredients to get that authentic taste. And usually they're in the most unexpected of places. Paradiso in Newcastle is one of those places, tucked in the little alley next to Bierrex (formerly Popolo). But they're not a traditional Italian in the sense that all they offer is a range of tasty pizza / pasta combinations. They offer more of an authentic taste of the Mediterranean with a few eclectic additions. Their menu is a bit of a mixed bag with the odd Moroccan and Thai dishes sitting alongside more traditional Italian ones, but they definitely manage to pull it off. I've been a few times, both on a lunch time and on evening, but it's been a while since my last visit. So when I was invited along a few weeks ago, I couldn't resist seeing how their menu fared.
We must've both been in the mood for seafood since we ordered a feast of mussels, prawns, crab and seabass! For starters, we tucked into coriander, ginger and chilli grilled tiger prawns, and Thai style mussels served in a coconut milk, lime, chilli, garlic and lemongrass sauce. There are three things that are always consistent with Paradiso: price, portion size and freshness. The menu offers a range of dishes but there's nothing on there over £20 so even if you're ordering a la carte, you don't feel like you're breaking the bank. The portion sizes are ALWAYS generous. Our starters were decent enough in size to serve as lunchtime portions, or serve as a main meal if you added a portion of chips or a side! And of course, not to forget quality.. I'd opted for the Thai mussels, since I've suddenly developed a taste for coconut in the last few months. Mopped up with some homemade bread, the sauce was the perfect combination of creamy coconut and zesty lime and lemongrass. Deliciously moreish without being sickly.
Our starters were shortly followed by pan fried seabass and Risotto al Granchio. The ristotto was a rich dish served with crab meat, spring onions, chilli, garlic & mascarpone cheese. It was thick and creamy, but the chilli gave it just the right kick to stop it being too rich. The seabass was perfectly cooked with a slightly crisp skin, served with sweet potato and carrot mash, grilled asparagus and tomato pesto. Subtle but delicious and exactly what I wanted. I've been craving a lot of fish recently, and this was perfect without feeling too oily. And with the sweet potato and carrot mash, it felt filling without leaving me bloated.. giving me the perfect excuse to steal a couple of forkfulls of the risotto. And although we were stuffed, we somehow managed to save a little room for dessert..
After deliberating the menu for a while (and trying to figure out what we had room left for), we ordered a couple of espresso martinis and decided to go for a classic panna cotta and tiramasu. But then were kindly suprised with the selection of desserts too! The selection is the perfect option for when you can't quite make your mind up what you're in the mood for because it gives you little taster of their desserts menu. The great thing about Paradiso's desserts are that they're all made freshly in their bakery. Meaning that each one is super fresh and obviously tastes amazing! From the sample we had though, it's safe to say any of the desserts are worth trying. That is, if you have any room left afterwards. But I can promise you, they're worth saving room for!
After spending the last two days recovering from a pretty excessive New Year's Eve filled with sequins, surprise visits and far too much prosecco, I'm finally starting to feel like myself again. And after waking up to a mountain of McDonalds, I'm not going to waste my breath on the whole New Year / New me stuff, or bleat on about wanting to eat healthy. I've decided to have a year without New Year's resolutions. 2014 was a bitch of a year, and while there are some changes I want to make, I'll not be making myself a list of resolutions designed to set me off on the road to 'being a better person'. Instead, my only resolution, or promise to myself, or whatever you'd like to call it, is that I want to live purposefully this year. Now before I lose you, I'm not trying to get all philosophical. What I mean is that after a bit too much bad news and a whole load of horrible things happening, I've realised that maybe it's time to stop worrying. Stop worrying about the things that may or may not happen. Stop worrying about the things that are out of my control. Stop worrying about what I should say, or how I should act. And just enjoy now. I'm an over-thinker (and over-analyser) by nature, and while that isn't going to change, I'm making a conscious effort to trying and stop sweating over the stuff that really doesn't matter. So this year, I'm going to do more of the stuff that makes me smile and not going to look too far ahead. I'm going to let myself lie in late without feeling guilty about not doing anything. I'm going to not get stressed about blogging and try to ease myself into more of a consistent routine. I'm going to give myself more time to read. But most of all, I'm going to concentrate on immediate happiness, because life's too short to worry.
New Year seems to be quickly creeping up and yet I have to admit, I'm still not quite ready to let go of Christmas. Whether it's dipping back into Great Expectations or a Christmassy stroll with Sarah Bosson (who lives on THE MOST Dickensian street in Newcastle), I'm still feeling all festive. We took these photos a couple of weeks back before heading into town for the day. It's got to be said that sometimes when you live in the city, it's easy to miss its charms. And St Thomas Crescent has always been one of my favourite streets. And decked out with Christmas wreaths, it definitely had that perfect old fashioned Christmas charm. So camera in tow, we decided to take a little stroll down the Crescent and up to Leazes Park. Unlike the rest of the country, we've not been hit with any snow. But the biting cold was still enough to make your eyes water and give you an uncontrollable hot chocolate craving.
This coat and the Kurt Geiger boots have both been a firm favourite of mine all season. I've had my eye on cut-out boots for a while now but never quite found the right shape. Until I stumbled on this pair! They're still pretty simple and the cut out is quite subtle, so they're pretty easy to style. And with a 7.5cm heel, they're perfect for wearing during the day without feeling like you're going to cripple yourself. I've already posted once about the coat but the lighting wasn't great so I don't think it really did it justice. It's definitely my favourite TK Maxx find this year. With its oversized shape and neutral herringbone, it goes with practically anything. It's not the usual shape I'd go for, but I think that makes it all the more of a perfect fit in my wardrobe. I'm now convinced that everyone needs a grey, masculine shaped coat to complete their closet. Because it's loose fitting (and a size too big) it's easy to layer up underneath. Make it perfect for winter walks in the park!
Outfit details:
coat: See by Chloe (found in TK Maxx, similar here), top: Topshop (old but similar here), skirt: River Island, boots: Kurt Geiger, bag: Mulberry, scarf: Gap (similar here)
First of all, Merry Christmas! Hope you've all been spoilt rotten! With the chaos of Christmas finally over, it's time to start stressing about New Year. Yep, the party season is well and truly upon us. Whether you're planning a quiet one, or hitting the town, there's never really that much spontaneity about New Year's Eve, is there? And then of course there's the outfit stress. Do you go all out? Or for something more understated? And the shoes, where will you find shoes to match? Rainbow Club might just have the answer. There's no need to search endlessly for right shade, they can dye a pair of shoes to match your dress! As a wedding shoe specialist, they're not a brand I'd usually consider, but when sent me a pair of their Eliza shoes in black satin, I couldn't resist sharing. Since I tend to opt for plainer shoes to match heavily patterned dresses, these are perfect. They've got a slight platform and an elegant, slim heel that makes them perfect for any party outfit!
I've not had a pair of satin shoes for longer than I can remember, so they make a nice change from my usual suede heels. The fabric has much more of a sheen to it, so they stand out quite a bit more than my other suede heels. And I love combining them with different textures like this floral tapestry dress I picked up in New Look last Christmas. And I think they'll be perfect with my sequin Zara dress for New Year's Eve. They're such a classic shape means that they'll go with anything, but with their thinner heel, they feel a bit more dressy than most of my other heels.
Outfit details:
dress: New Look, heels: c/o Rainbow Club, necklace: vintage, rings: Pandora