Thursday, 31 July 2014

#ToastOfTheTown Manchester Copthorne Hotel

Toast of the Town Millenium Copthorne Hotel
Back at the beginning of June I was kindly invited by Millenium &; Copthorne Hotels to come along to #ToastOfTheTown. I called upon my lovely friend Sarah to join me and went along to the lovely Copthorne Hotel, Manchester to find out what it was all about.
The series of Toast of the Town events was created in order to celebrate all things British, by asking resident bloggers to think about what is special about their town or city, and what it means to them. Our event was, of course, a celebration of all things Manchester and was based around the very exciting theme of cocktails!
Toast of the Town event bar set up
Copthorne Hotel Salford Quays
Toast of the Town
After being greeted with yummy canapes and champagne, having a wander around the room to become familiar with the other bloggers and the ingredients, we were warmly welcomed by the event host. Isn't the hotel in such a gorgeous setting, right on Salford Quays!
Sarah Next Dress Cocktails
Bramble Cocktail
After the introduction, Sarah got stuck in to making the first cocktail, the Bramble. The host walked us through the steps as a handful of bloggers whipped up the delightful treat. It was delicious, so good in fact it's become a solid favourite of mine. Also, how gorgeous is Sarah's dress!? It's from Next.

After a few other bloggers made a twist on the Mojito, I got stuck in to the Classic Cosmopolitan, done just right. Though I don't think I've quite mastered lighting the orange peel just yet...
JustRach making cosmopolitan
Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail
Heads stuffed full of new cocktail making information we took a short break to get our thinking caps on and let our creative juices flow before heading back in to concoct our own special drink. We took the opportunity in the break to head outside onto the lovely quayside and take a few outfit snaps.
Next Dress
JustRach MissLuxe Blazer
MissLuxe Blazer Disco Pants
MissLuxe Blazer SheLikes Boots
We headed back in and got to work - tasting, testing and experimenting - trying to use all of the information we'd been given during the session.
JustRach making cocktails
(Photo credit:
After two attempts I finally settled on my drink. I present to you....
Old Dog New Tricks Gin Cocktail
The Old Dog, New Tricks - a modern twist on a classic gin cocktail.

I've always loved Manchester, more than any other city I've been to and that's for it's ability to make you feel at home, whilst still feeling like a city. In London I feel very small and insignificant, and often overwhelmed - whereas in Manchester I feel very calm and cosy. I adore the mix of old and new buildings scattered about. Warm red brick sandwiched between cool glass and metal. I based my cocktail on these things that I love about Manchester the most - a classic giant, yet undeniably modern.

I scribbled the recipe onto the back of a business card as I went along, so if you're curious to know what it tastes like...
1. Fill a short glass with crushed ice
2. Add 50ml gin to a cocktail strainer
3. Squeeze in the juice of half an orange.
4. Add 25ml orange curacao
5. Add 25ml cranberry
6. Add just a dash of cane sugar syrup (to taste)
7. Strain the lot into the glass
8. Garnish with a slice of orange and a sprig of mint
9. Enjoy!

Thank you so much to the Millenium & Copthorne Hotel staff for making us feel incredibly welcome and to Joesbloggers for inviting us along to such a fantastic event!

I'd love your comments and thoughts below, or: @justrachblog //

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Celine & Chelsea

Celine Paris
JustRach Celine Chelsea Boots
JustRach edgy rock style
SheLikes Chelsea Boots
Celine SheLikes Chelsea Boots Cat
JustRach North West Blogger
JustRach Celine SheLikes Chelsea Boots
Chelsea Boots Swan Speckled Egg Models Own
Models Own Swan Speckled Egg Nail Polish
Chelsea Boots c/o She Likes // Celine Tee c/o Persun // Jeans: Jack Wills // Nails: Models Own Speckled Egg (Swan)

Something a little different from me today, because looking back over these photos I feel like my outfit is fairly edgy and that's not something I'd usually go for. A few of the pieces I've chosen are actually things I usually tend to stray away from, I have to say though, I like it! I felt like a total rock chick with the red lips and blacks in my outfit. 

The boots aren't usually something I'd go for either but I'd been toying with the idea of getting some Chelsea boots and I thought the cutouts on these ones from She Likes were fab for summer and something just a little different. If it hadn't been so hot recently I'd probably be living in the boots as they're the comfiest things ever.

Another thing I usually stray well away from is t-shirts, or anything really, that has text printed on it. Usually I think it's pretty tacky but on this occasion I couldn't resist. I've seen them about, it looked so comfy (and it is) and it reminded me of my trip to London to see Jade.

What do you think of this slightly more edgy look? What are your thoughts on printed tees?

I'd love your comments and thoughts below, or: @justrachblog //

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Etsy Lusts #2

JustRach Etsy Lusts
Hopefully you all enjoyed last weeks instalment of the Etsy Lusts series, I know I sure did (although my bank balance didn't!) I've got to exercise a lot of restraint making these posts you know! :) Enjoy!
This post wouldn't complete with an obligatory iPhone case and this week I simply cannot stop chuckling over this little Hula Girl cat cutie from BraveMoonMan.

Okay so I think we all just need to stop for a moment. Breathe. Take it all in. Yep, you really are looking at a Moomin printed dress by Frockasaurus (great name!). I'm actually dying (not actually, don't panic, but maybe just a little inside over how much I need this dress in my life). I've been totally obsessed with Moomins since I was little and I have all kinds of cute trinkets, bags, notebooks and whatnot. This is definitely the icing on the Moomin cake.

How adorable and totally perfect for summer are these?! I am crazy about them. ClaudiaMadeThis not only makes watermelon earrings, but also all other kind of delicious fruits, and even cakes. At only £2.50 as well you actually can't say no. I know I can't.

More earrings, I know, but I can't ignore these lovely wooden Narwhals from VincaUSA. Oh unicorn of the sea, you are a majestic magical beast!

And before you comment and tell me.... Yes! I am fully aware that I have an Etsy problem. (The first step is admitting it, right?)

Do let me know what you thought of this weeks mega lusts!
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I'd love your comments and thoughts below, or: @justrachblog //

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Dining Al Fresco at Piccadilly Gardens Pizza Express

B and I were kindly invited along to dine at Pizza Express in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. Now, I've been to plenty of Pizza Express joints before (the St Andrews branch was frequently visited while I was at university) but none have been quite like this! We chose to sit outdoors and dine al fresco on this occasion, the warm Manchester breeze was too tempting to  miss out on, not to mention the beautiful view. The restaurant is set just at the edge of Piccadilly Gardens, right across from the Manchester Eye. On a sunny day like this it was easy to forget we were in the city at all.
Pizza Express Manchester Review
Piccadilly Gardens Manchester
After settling in our seats, we were promptly attended to by the super friendly waiter (hilariously tried to photobomb our olive money shot!!) who sorted out a lovely glass of rose and some of the yummy new Olives Marinate, which have pink peppercorns (which I avoided because I don't like the feeling of crunching into peppercorns!) in the marinate. Armed with snacks and drinks, we got well and truly stuck into the summer menu.
Pizza Express Olives Marinate
Pizza Express Olives Marinate Photobomb
JustRach Pizza Express Menu
A sucker for a good bruschetta, I opted for the Bruschetta Originale for my starter, as did B. It swayed from the typical crunchy bread you tend to get, and instead had a delicious, warm, doughy loaf with delicious traditional toppings.
Pizza Express Bruschetta Originale
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The sun was starting to hide away behind the clouds once we'd conquered our starters - it was lovely to admire the beautiful scenery whilst sipping on wine and awaiting our main course.

Of course, a trip to Pizza Express would not be complete without a pizza! I'm usually one to opt for something from the Al Forno choices, but I decided to go for pizza this time. Wanting to try something a little different I chose the Emilia, a brand new edition to the menu, featuring mushrooms, goats cheese, mozzarella and best of truffle oil. Yum, yum! It had a very earthy taste, definitely different from tomato based pizzas, but non-the-less delicious!
Manchester Eye Big Wheel Sunset Sky
Pizza Express Emilia Pizza
Pizza Express Emilia Pizza Black Truffle Oil
As a side we were recommended the polenta chips. I've never had polenta before, as far as I can remember, although I do recall my nonna mentioning it. The chips had an interesting taste, not unpleasant, but not something I can quite put my finger on either. The honey and mustard dressing they came with made them a delicious tangy accompaniment to my earthy pizza.
Pizza Express Polenta Chips
B was a somewhat typical guy and went for the Diavolo. Considering it translates as Devil in Italian, you can imagine what this pizza is like - spice on top of meat, on top of spice, on top of meat...
Pizza Express Diavolo Pizza
Pizza Express Diavolo Pizza Tabasco
The main event, for me, will always be the dessert! Life is all about pudding. I am obsessed with vanilla flavoured things. Most people see vanilla as a very plain flavour, but it's something I just can't get enough of - it's sweet, creamy, aromatic, heady and lingering. Naturally, when I saw that one of the new dessert offerings was a vanilla panna cotta, my decision was instantly made. I wasn't disappointed either, it was deliciously creamy and with a lovely strong taste of vanilla running throughout. Plus, I'm sure you'll agree it looks gorgeous - just feat your eyes on the speckles of fresh vanilla bean!
Pizza Express New Vanilla Panna Cotta
Pizza Express Vanilla Panna Cotta
B went for the tiramisu, being a coffee lover. He gives it the thumbs up (I'm not a huge coffee fan so I didn't try it) and I trust his judgement, so I reckon it was pretty good! It certainly looked delicious.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
After devouring our puddings, with very full bellies we sat out on the front enjoying the last of the sunlight over the gardens and people watching to our hearts content.
We'd like to say a huge thanks to PizzaExpress for inviting us and to the brilliant staff who really made our visit a pleasant one, we were properly looked after!
Are you a pizza, or Italian food fan? What would your ideal pizza look like?

I'd love your comments and thoughts below, or: @justrachblog //

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