If there’s one place I’m absolutely loving this year, it’s Neighbourhood Manchester in Spinningfields.  Ever since their relaunch in the summer, I’ve been super obsessed with the neon signs, bubblegum pink booths and kooky wall graffiti.  It’s got a really cool vibe about it and I always have a fab time there, both in the day and at night.

I was really happy, therefore, to be invited by Neighbourhood via Georgie Glass to have a cosy little bloggers’ brunch with a couple of my fave gal pals last Saturday morning.  Food, drink and girly chat in one of Manchester’s hottest hangouts?  You don’t have to ask me twice –  I was there with BELLS on.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m always on the last minute and, more often than not, running late but for once in my life I was actually the first to arrive so I sipped on some Prosecco – at 10 am! – while I waited for the others.  In stark contrast from Neighbourhood at night where the bar is full to the brim and every booth is taken with diners and revellers, Neighbourhood by day is a much calmer affair.  First thing in the morning, it’s the perfect place to sit and relax after a late one the night before (it had been Friday night after all) and I couldn’t wait to get some food down me.

Ten minutes later and my party had arrived – I was joined by Georgie (obvs), my lovely new pal Danielle King and the fab Sam Bella of The Travel Crush.  It was the perfect mix of Manchester-based ladies to have a cute breakfast date with and we sipped and chatted as we chose from the delicious new menu of brunch choices available.

Usually, I’m 100% an avo-on-toast kinda gal – this time last year I don’t think I’d ever even tried it and now I’m totally avo-obsessed – but this time I was completely swayed by the French toast option.  It looked amazing on paper and I plumped for cream, banana and mixed berries for toppings whilst Georgie went for the salmon, Danielle for the eggs and Sam made up for my disloyalty by choosing the avo.  To be honest, everything on the menu looked incredible and I could quite happily have had any of the (vegetarian) options and probably have been more than satisfied with what I got.

Whilst we waited for our food (which, FYI, wasn’t very long at all) we caught up with what had been going on in each other’s lives and got excited about future projects in the pipeline.  Sam’s settling back into Manchester life after the most insane time living abroad, Georgie’s planning something huge – get the 1st January in your diaries and get following her on insta girls! – and I literally can’t wait for Danielle’s KIHT brand to launch.

The food arrived and oh my, Neighbourhood DID NOT disappoint.  Like everything they do, from evening meals to cocktails, the brunch was presented beautifully on the plate (and the plates themselves are pretty Instagrammable coupled with the marble tables and powder pink salt and pepper shakers).  Everyone’s meal looked absolutely lovely and tasted even better.  I can’t speak for the others’ dishes – although the chorus of  ‘mmm’ and silence as they devoured their food was a pretty good indication – but the French toast was absolutely delicious.  Sometimes I find that French toast can be quite ‘stodgy’ and lie heavy on your stomach but this was actually quite light and, although I felt more than satisfied when I’d finished it, I didn’t feel like I’d overindulged which is always a bonus when you’ve chosen the ‘naughty’ option off the menu.  The cream, as expected was lovely, and the berries had a really lovely taste, which can be hard at this time of year.  I don’t know what exactly they had done to the banana but whatever it was it was great – it almost tasted like there was some sort of glaze on it – and I particularly liked the side of lime as it gave the whole dish a really nice flavour and a bit of a kick too.  Everyone praised their choice and, all in all, there were four very happy girls.

I think the thing about Neighbourhood is whatever they do, they do it well.  Yes, it’s got the glitz and glam with its edgy decor and guest list full of famous faces but it’s got real substance behind it too with great food, amazing entertainment and fabulous cocktails.  They played the perfect hosts for a catch up with the girls (and, by the way, the service really is fantastic) and I cannot wait to go back there for another brunch.

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This brunch was complimentary however, as usual, my thoughts and review are a genuine and honest reflection of my experience.

We all know about my love for Instagrammable places and the newly refurbished Rosso restaurant has to be one of the prettiest eateries in Manchester.  I was super super lucky to be invited by the fabulous Georgie Glass (food photographer extraordinaire and founder of the fantastic new Bloggers’ Dining Club) to spend a beautiful rose-gold themed evening there sampling their new autumn a la carte menu and, in all honesty, wild horses wouldn’t have kept me away.

To be perfectly honest, Rosso has always been one of those places that has absolutely been on my list to try but I’d never actually got around to going to.  I’d been lucky enough visit the restaurant not long after their refurb at the LOTD launch party (click here to read my post on my embroidered jacket) and had been so impressed by the space that I’d been dying to make a reservation.

In case I hadn’t already mentioned enough already in that rambling intro, Rosso is looking absolutely beautiful right now.  Before you even set foot into the restaurant you’re greeted with the prettiest array of fairy lights, bows and Christmas decorations on the outside which makes it shine like a beacon from afar at the top of King Street West.  Upon entering, you really are blown away by how incredible it looks.  The fairy lights from outside now litter every pane inside, there’s a beautiful Christmas tree by the entrance and gorgeous festive boughs are situated on almost every surface.  Coupled with the bright and airy decor, it really is a sight to behold.

I said hello and joined the rest of the girls at the bar and the evening kicked off with a lovely compleimentary cocktail.  I’m currently trying to be really good and health-conscious at the moment and am really trying to avoid consuming alcohol so I asked the waiter if I could have a non-alcoholic cocktail, which he very kindly whisked up for me and tasted JUST AS GOOD as its naughty alter-ego.  Joining me for this beautiful evening was a lovely mix of bloggers – some old friends, some new – and I was super excited to be sharing a table with some of my faves: Ellie, Faye, Laura, Holly, Kat, Pamela, Vicki, Charlie, Natalie and Fiona.

Soon after our welcome drinks, we were escorted to our beautiful booth in the slightly elevated area of Rosso.  I’ve got to admit, I was absolutely blown away by the table settings – TOTAL props to Georgie and the Rosso team, it was beyond beautiful and just set the tone so wonderfully for the night ahead.  A massive thank you has to be given to House of Evelyn, Just Bee, Brand Attic, Hey Little Cupcake, Bottega and Louboutin for the lovely goody bag and gifts.

I’ve heard really great things about the food at Rosso but, being a vegetarian and just a little bit fussy, I’m never really sure how well anything will go down until I try it.  I must admit, I was really looking forward to the meal as I’d seen the menu beforehand so I was hoping and praying it was as good as it sounded.

On paper, the main course – ravioli con funghi e tartufo nero – ticked all the boxes. The menu boasted that it was ‘pasta parcels filled with mushroom, truffle and ricotta mouse in a wild mushroom cream’.  Pasta – tick.  Mushroom – tick.  Cheese and cream – DOUBLE TICK (even though, as you will have seen from social media, I’m trying to make a failed move to veganism).  It sounded like a literal dream and that’s exactly what is was.  The pasta was cooked to perfection and the sauce was just the perfect level of creaminess.  Sometimes, when I go out for food, I’m a little wary of anything with mushroom in as, although I love them, I feel like the flavour can be a little overpowering.  In all honesty, this wasn’t the case with this dish and I absolutely would choose this option time and time again.

Despite the delicious main, the dessert was the thing I was most excited about.  The exotically named ‘crostata di madorle’ was an almond tart, pickled damson and homemade Garstang Blue cheese ice cream.  Yes, you read that right – CHEESE ICE CREAM.  I had so questions about this.  Would you even be able to taste the cheese?  Would it be overly creamy?  Would the blue cheese be too strong?  Not being a seasoned food blogger, I really can’t do the description of what this tasted like justice with just words but what I will tell you is that it’s definitely an experience you need to try.  It was totally enjoyable but I do think it’s the sort of thing you’ll either love or hate.  You could definitely taste the blue cheese but if you’re worried about it being overpowering, it wasn’t.  It was really subtly done, beautifully creamy and I enjoyed having a different flavour present with the traditional vanilla.

After our food, we spent the rest of the evening catching up and talking all things blogging.  I honestly can’t believe how many new friends and amazing girls I’ve met this year through blogging and it’s always so nice to sit and have a good long chat with them.  It’s great to be able to spend time with people who are into the same things as you and truly understand the blogging world.  Rosso provided the perfect backdrop for this and it was great to feel like you could truly relax after your meal and not feel like you were being rushed.

I honestly can’t stress what a gorgeous night we all had at Rosso: the food was delicious, the service was incredible and the restaurant is simply stunning.  I absolutely can’t wait to go back there – with my new rose gold Rosso card! – and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.  Thank you so much to all the fabulous team at Rosso who made our dinner so enjoyable and a big thank you to Georgie for the invite.

Have you been to Rosso yet? What was your favourite dish? I’d love to know – tweet me @jacintadawn

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In a world where having an Instagram is becoming a business and people are more and more concerned with how good their photos look, it can be easy to feel like you are being left behind in the photography game.  It seems like everybody either has insane photo skills or their own personal photographer shooting for them and it’s easy to get disheartened when you look at your own efforts.  This was definitely me six months ago – I knew how I wanted my photos to look but I just couldn’t capture it with my phone’s camera.  Half a year on and I’m by no means an expert AT ALL but I do feel like I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to help you get a better shot than you were before.

I’m sad to say it but no matter how much I love my iPhone 7 Plus, it just simply doesn’t compare to a ‘proper’ camera and the biggest tip I can give you before we even start is, if possible, to invest in a camera that suits you.  There’s, of course, loads on the market – including the stunning 4K Compact System Camera Panasonic that I’m hanging my nose over – and the key is to shop around and find one that fits both your budget and your skills.

So without further ado, here’s 5 of my top tips:

  1. Shoot in natural light

As I’ve said, I’m no pro photographer, so I feel the best way to get the light and bright sort of photos I want on my feed is to shoot in natural light.  I just find it so much easier to edit them afterwards and, ultimately, it means you may spend less time tweaking them too.  If you’re shooting products or flatlays, use the brightest room in your house and shoot next to the window.  Unfortunately, sometimes the light just doesn’t play ball and you may need to abandon taking photos altogether on a particularly gloomy winter day.

  1. Use cheap backdrops

Don’t have a marble table for your flatlay?  Is your wallpaper a little bit dark?  Don’t worry.  I have loads and loads of offshoots of vinyl and wallpaper I’ve either bought or collected as samples from the likes of B&Q and Homebase.  A lot of the tables in my house are glass or beech and they don’t really go with my look on Instagram, so I simply place a square of marble vinyl down and use that for my background instead.  You can do exactly the same with the walls too – glue a piece of pretty wallpaper onto a bit of card and you automatically have a nice backdrop for your photos.  Another top tip of mine is to buy two white LACK table tops from IKEA.  They’re £5 each and you can use them to create a little white corner of your room by using one flat and one propped up.

  1. Use props

I used to think the cleaner the better with photos and while I do still like a simple shot, I’ve moved past the days of just placing a lipstick in the middle of the frame and having nothing else around it.  These days, I love to experiment with extra things in the photo, especially when I shooting flatlays.  Grab an open book, your iPhone, a clutch bag and a faux fur scarf and place them carefully at different angles and before you know it you have all the elements for a luxe looking photo.

  1. Edit afterwards

I never manage to get the absolutely perfect shot that I feel comfortable uploading straight to Instagram.  Every time, I use editing apps on my phone (I’m not sophisticated enough to use the likes of Lightroom on my laptop!) to tweak the photo – whether it’s making it a bit lighter or sharpening up an area.  I love to use Facetune to make whites whiter and ColourStory is great for improving the overall brightness of the photo with the ‘curves’ tool.

  1. Use the same filter

If you want your Instagram to look cohesive then always make sure you use the same filter!  I use VSCO as I really love the filter in there and always use the same one so my grid has some consistency.  If you choose a different one each time, it’ll show on your feed.

What are some of your top tips for photography?  Which editing apps are your favourite?

This post is sponsored by Panasonic.

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Any blogger or Instagrammer worth their salt is obsessed with pretty interiors.  I don’t know about you but there’s nothing I like more than scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram to get some homeware inspo, whether it’s for jazzing up a little corner of my bedroom or looking for a way to make my home office look beautiful as well as being functional.    The internet is an Aladdin’s cave full of ideas but with modern day budgets tight for millennials looking to make a house a home, it can be easy to get disheartened when you realise you can only afford a quarter of that expensive lamp you’ve been eyeing up.

I’m a big believer in a few inexpensive little touches going a long way to transform your interiors and I was super excited when one of my favourite homeware stores, Housing Units, kindly sent me a few beautiful bits to help make my house feel more homely.

  1. ‘Lady Boss!’ Fine China Mug, £8.99

Is ANY home office really complete without a Instagramable mug to pop at the side of your laptop?  If I’m going to spend 8 hours a day in my spare-room-cum-office it sure as hell better be filled with pretty things.  I’m a sucker for anything with metallic gold on it and I do think I’m a pretty kick-ass girlboss so this gorgeous fine China ‘Lady Boss’ mug literally ticks alllll the boxes.  It’s definitely a large mug so holds lots of your beverage of choice and just looks so damn pretty sat on your desk.  My ‘Lady Boss’ version isn’t currently online but there are two very similar ones from the same range; a ‘1,2,3 Prosecco‘ one and a ‘There’s too much tea in my Prosecco!‘ version.  I want all three.

2.  HU:Home Ginger & White Lily Candle, £14.99

You know when you find a candle you just fall in love with and you want it in every room of your house?  Yeah, that.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I found out Housing Units had their own range of candles.  I call a spade a spade and more often than not when shops have their own brand candles they’re usually a little disappointing and don’t really have a strong smell.  Hand on heart, this is not the case at all with the HU:Home range.  The ginger and white lily is such a gorgeous floral smell – it’s super strong, but not overpowering, and when I opened my delivery from Housing Units, I could definitely smell it as soon as I opened the box – and that was before it had even been lit.  I absolutely adore having candles in the home – who doesn’t want everywhere to smell nice!? – and think they can go such a long way to making a room feel homely and relaxed.  Housing Units really wanted to create a range that was bespoke and considered and embarked on a rigorous testing process to find the finest quality wax and scent, and it’s definitely paid off.  There’s quite a few scents available, so you’ll definitely find one you’ll like, and they even come in diffuser and room spray form too, so there’s no excuse for every room of your house not to smell divine.

Buy here

3.  ‘Champagne Please’ Doormat, £24.99

There’s nothing more frustrating, darrrling, than people turning up to your house sans Champagne in their hand – and with this on your front step they’ll have no excuse not to.  This chic, glittery doormat is the perfect addition for creating the right impression as soon as someone walks into your home.  I love a slogan and the glittery words are actual real pieces of glitter (as oppposed to shimmery threads) so it really has a feel of luxury and high quality.  It’s made from really strong tufted coconut fibre so it’s durable and made to last and a really great fact is that they use exterior paint to dye it instead of food dye (like other brands do) so it really is going to withstand even the muddiest and heaviest of boots.  And if Champagne’s not your tipple, there’s a ‘Gin o’clock?‘ one too…

Buy here

4.  SWEETS!

Nothing makes a house a home more than being able to pop on your comfies, chill out on the sofa and munch your way through a pack (or two) of your favourites sweets.  I don’t know how the lovely team at Housing Units knew jazzies were my fave but I’m super glad they did…

If you haven’t been to Housing Units yet, it’s really time you paid them a visit.  They have the most beautiful bits and pieces for your home, from full blown furniture sets all the way to tiny little trinkets for your desk – they even have watches and purses too from well known brands!  Now is literally the perfect time to go because it’s a wonderland full of festive fayre and they even have their Santa’s Grotto up already.

Have you been to Housing Units yet?  What’s your favourite item in this blog?

Visit online: www.housingunits.co.uk

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