30 July 2014

GIVEAWAY! What Naomi Wrote Turns One!

According to my archives, it was a year ago today that I published my first post on What Naomi Wrote. Sooooo... it's time to celebrate, by hosting my first giveaway!

While I'll be indulging in a peanut butter brownie (or three - check out the recipe here on Lisette's blog), and having a look through my first year on this site (I'm so proud of myself for sticking at this - it's been such an amazing outlet and so much fun), I want you to celebrate with me, after all, this blog is for you! So I'm hosting my first giveaway. It's also to say thank you for sticking with me, and whether you've been following for a week or the whole year, you could be the winner of these items:

Lush American Cream hair conditioner, Soap & Glory Smoothie Star The Breakfast Scrub, Quiet by Susan Cain, Sweet Freedom. 

All these items have featured on What Naomi Wrote in the past year and have all been bought and paid for by me to treat one of my lovely readers. They are all favourites of mine and I own all of these items, I love them all so much and I think you will too, so if you'd like to win this mini food, thought and beauty hamper, just fill in the rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. If you want to know a bit more about each product, read on!

Featured in Smell My Hair back in March, this little bottle of sweet smelling goodness is a dream. It lasts forever and the smell does too! People have commented on how nice my hair smells when I use this. It is so luxurious and is a staple in my bathroom cabinet.

...As is this body scrub. I wrote about The Breakfast Scrub in Super Smooth Soap & Glory last September and it is AMAZING. The smell of this scrub is out of this world, I could probably eat it. When I use this I feel like I'm smothering myself in granola - in the best way possible - and it's a great exfoliater for the summer months when you're pale like me and topping up the fake tan.

Most recently featured on What Naomi Wrote are the 'thought' and 'food' prizes. Quiet by Susan Cain - my favourite non-fiction read, and I'm sure yours too if you win! And Sweet Freedom, featured in Baking Witha Sweet Freedom, Lime and Mint Iced Tea, Skinny Iced Cappuccino and Lemon Iced Green Tea. Can you tell I love this stuff? This product is fantastic and should be in everyone's kitchen cupboard!

  • UK only
  • You must be 16 or over to enter
  • Closing date is 13th August at midnight - so you have two weeks to enter
  • I will announce the winner on Twitter on 14th August and contact the winner directly, too.
  • If the winner does not respond within 48 hours of me contacting them, I will draw another winner
  • The draw is totally random - hence why I'm using rafflecopter
  • Once the winner has been announced, contacted and responded, I will send out the prizes with a personal note written to the winner.
Good luck and thank you so much for reading my blog - I am sure there will be many more adventures to come which I will share with you all :)

Naomi xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

28 July 2014

A Nostalgic Lunch at Pollok House – Glasgow

Experiences, and memories of experiences in places create feelings that are pretty hard to dislodge. For the most part, though, they can stay where they are. I like the feeling of happiness I get when I visit my mum's side of the family in Glasgow. It's a place that will always remind me of love and nice, friendly people, and having a good time. It's like a second home, despite being hundreds of miles from my first one, and I love it. Do you ever feel like that?

Pollok House is a short drive from Glasgow city centre, through Pollok Country Park in which highland cattle graze and men play golf. It's idyllic, a step back in time, and a world away from the busy city centre. We went there for lunch on a Saturday, and we were greeted by my Grandpa's friend, who was the most welcoming, jolly waiter. The quality of service really does make a difference when eating out.

The restaurant is in the downstairs kitchen area of the house, and it looks as if nothing has changed in the hundreds of years its been standing. The house is beautiful, clean and brings back childhood memories of spending my pocket money on soor plooms from the gift shop, (and probably Downton Abbey for first time visitors in 2014) but this time we were hungry for some lunch.

I ordered the chicken and bacon open club sandwich and a pot of peppermint tea, and Grandpa chose the ham and mustard open sandwich.

It was the best sandwich I had had in a long time. It was served cold, despite the bread being toasted - yet it was still delicious and everything worked so well together. There was just the right amount of mayonnaise, and the amount of chicken and bacon piled on top of each layer was brilliant - far too often do I go out for lunch and get the measliest portion of meat on my plate.
Grandpa's sandwich was equally generous and delicious. We both finished our sandwiches and decided to go home for an afternoon nap. But not before taking some pictures of the gorgeous park in which Pollok House is situated.
A visit to Glasgow is complete with a visit to Pollok House, even if it's just for a little look around. If you've never been, I recommend that you do! It's so much fun to do something a little different, and even if big old houses aren't your thing, who can say no to a delicious lunch served in such a beautiful dining area?

You can find out more about Pollok House here. I can't wait to go back again!


25 July 2014

Happy Friday at The Swallow Bakery - Cheltenham

I never used to pay much attention to the days of the week, but now I finally know what it is to have that Friday feeling, and I love it. I think I'm growing up. The student days are over! (Thank goodness).

Is it warm where you are? I drove to work at the crack of dawn and it was beautiful. The sun was spilling through the gaps in the trees and onto the fields, its golden light filtering through each blade of grass. Ever since I was little I've thought how nice it would be just to go and lie in one of those fields.

I love making the most of these summer days, eating breakfast, lunch and tea outside and indulging in ice cream. It's perfectly acceptable to eat it every day when you're on holiday, so why not treat yourself at home? It always tastes better in a cone.

I got my chocolate ice cream at the Swallow Bakery in Cheltenham a few weeks ago with my friend Chloe (I'm blogging about it now because I finally got my camera - and photos - back). The Swallow Bakery does the best ice cream in town - as well as some amazing milkshakes, sundaes and other cupcakes. It's my go-to place on spring and summer days when I'm visiting my university town and I highly recommend it for the food, service and gorgeous setting on the promenade.

You can find out more about the Swallow Bakery here. Enjoy your ice cream and have a happy Friday!


23 July 2014

Lemon Iced Green Tea

Fresh, cold iced tea is at the top of my list of go-to beverages these days. While I used to dislike the hot weather (bit weird, I know) I think working full time in an office has allowed me to truly appreciate the outdoors, especially when the sun is out. 

Now, when it is hot and sunny, even when I get home from work, there's nothing I love more than lying in the hammock with a good book and a glass of homemade iced tea to sip. This time it's green and lemony, probably my 'healthiest' homemade iced tea yet.

You can use black tea if you'd prefer - or any tea for that matter. A caffeine-free berry tea would be my next choice.
Recipe for lemon iced green tea
Serves 4

Ingredients to make one jug:
  • One lemon
  • Three green tea bags (use lemon green tea bags for an extra lemony flavour)
  • Sweet freedom/sugar to taste 

1. While you're waiting for the kettle to boil, slice up half of your lemon and pop the pieces into a jug along with the tea bags.

2. Fill the jug almost all the way to the top with boiling water. Squeeze the juice of the other half of the lemon into the jug.

Enter my favourite food discovery of the year - Sweet Freedom. I've used this to bake blueberry muffins, iced coffee, lime and mint iced tea and as a topping for my pancakes and it.is.amazing. It is a syrup made entirely from fruit, which makes it slightly better for you than refined sugar. You don't need to use as much Sweet Freedom as you would with sugar as it's naturally sweeter, so even though the bottle is quite small, you can get quite a lot out of it.

Anyway, I use this to sweeten my iced tea as it makes me feel like I'm drinking something that's good for me. I added about two tablespoons to the jug and gave it a good stir - it can sink to the bottom if you don't stir properly and get it all dissolved.

3. Pour the tea into a big bowl and add a load of ice. Stick it in the fridge to chill. This is the worst bit for me. I get so impatient.

When your tea is cold (woohoo) pour it back into the jug and add more ice. Give it another stir, pour into glasses and enjoy your tasty, homemade, healthy-ish lemon iced green tea. 

Will you be making iced tea this summer? What's your favourite iced tea flavour? I'm hooked on the stuff - I even poured some of this into a bottle to take to work. I don't know what I'll do when winter comes around...


21 July 2014

Coffee Time at iKafe - Glasgow

Coffee is something that, in the last three years, I have grown to need in the mornings. It all started at university when late nights and early starts were two things I faced most days of the weeks. I sort of loved it though. Coffee became this magical thing that helped me through the day. It made mornings more bearable and breakfast more enjoyable.

But coffee isn't just a drink to keep me awake. I love the stuff, the smell of the steam coming off the top of the cup, the familiar fresh, earthy, rich taste of mornings. It's become a breakfast friend, and something I only drink before midday. I love how it tastes paired with some peanut butter toast, or, better yet, chocolate cake, which is exactly what my Grandpa and I had when we went out for coffee time in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago.

iKafe was a firm favourite of my Grandpa's, until Moyra Janes came along and took the top spot for lunch. But he suggested we go to iKafe for a cup of coffee as I was complaining of a headache. Needless to say, the moist dark chocolate cake and hot, creamy coffee fixed me up in no time.

The staff at iKafe were, of course, friendly (see previous posts about Glaswegians - could they be the friendliest people on earth? I think so). The man who served me was very good looking, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. He even offered to warm up the cake for me, but I declined. Warm cake is good, but only when served with lots of cold double cream and eaten in the comfort of my bed... heh.

I have been to iKafe for lunch before too and it's a lovely little place with reasonably priced, tasty food and lots to choose from. I'm not sold on the name - anything which has k in place of a c makes me cringe slightly, but the food, staff and overall experience makes up for it here. I highly recommend a trip to iKafe if you want somewhere quiet, relaxed and comfortable to eat, chat and enjoy a good cup of coffee.
Check the iKafe website here!


18 July 2014

Shop & Drop at Pret A Manger

Remember when I was all geared up for a day of shopping in Glasgow? Just a few hours later my arms were aching under the weight of bags filled with new wellies, dresses to customize and coconut shampoo and conditioner among other things I obviously needed.

I had to stop. It was so hot! I don't think I have ever experienced warm weather in Scotland – it was lovely, but after hunting down a restaurant on my mum's recommendation, only to find it was too posh (and intimidating) to eat in alone, I made a bee-line for the nearest Pret A Manger. I was hungry, thirsty and tired, and I knew Pret was the answer.

There isn't a cold drink I love more than peach and green iced tea. Pret's version is made with only natural ingredients and absolutely no added sugar. Interestingly, it didn't taste too dissimilar to Lipton's iced tea, which is laden with sugar. Pret's iced tea was nicer. (Take note, Lipton).

The vegetable crisps at Pret are the absolute best. Sweet, salty, crispy, and healthy...ish.

The sandwich I picked up was a Lebanese chicken flat bread. It looked so good on the shelf, but was actually really disappointing. One half of the wrap didn't have any chicken or feta in it, and there was a lot of left over flat bread. The second half was better, but still not abundant in filling.

The underwhelming sandwich was made up for by the free cookie I got from the guy serving me. What a nice chap for putting it on the house. He may have been hitting on me, but I like to think it's just the friendly Glaswegian way.

The cookie tasted like Christmas! Orange, white chocolate and cranberries filled a sweet, spiced cookie dough – not something I'd usually go for, but Pret knows how to balance flavours, and this was a combination like no other. Thanks again to the guy (I've forgotten his name) who gave it to me.

Even though Pret A Manger is a chain, I felt it deserved a spot on What Naomi Wrote. Despite the steep prices, (£4 for a smoothie?!) the choice, flavours and freshness (which equates to healthy in my head) make for a refreshing lunch time experience similar to that of an independent cafe. If I had the money, I would go there for lunch every day. 


16 July 2014

You Should Read: Quiet – Susan Cain

Ever meet someone who just... gets you?

There are so many people you talk to every day, without realising it, passing them off as not good enough – I mean, they're just not compatible with you. They don't get you. And you wouldn't get them either.

But sometimes, you meet someone who gets you, and it feels as if everything stops, and all the bad stuff gets a bit lighter. All the stuff that worried you before, the stuff that kept you from being your best, it all fizzles away and stops mattering. Because someone gets you, things feel a little bit better, and you wonder if that was the root of the problem all along.

Ever felt that way about a book? I hadn't, until I read Quiet. I feel as if it was written specifically for me, to me, like a personal letter straight from the author. Her name is Susan Cain, and this is the book that helped me realise that being quiet is OK – that being myself is OK.

"We like to think we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual – the kind who's comfortable 'putting himself out there'."
Cain describes quiet people as 'thinkers' and that's a term I can happily adopt to describe myself.

The book isn't a dig at extroverts, neither is it praising introverts – it's a discussion about what both types of people are, but not in the most black and white sense. You can be an ambivert, too, you know. And we can be an introvert in some situations, and extroverts in others. It's different for everyone.

The science behind our sensitive nature is explored, too. That's what I found really interesting, and created a good balance of theory, opinion and fact in this thought provoking book that formed the basis of my dissertation in my final year of university.

"Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quiet for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again." Anaïs Nin

I do feel as if this is a topic dismissed in society today. Almost everyone I have spoken to about it has brushed it off as some nonsensical theory that doesn't matter. But it does matter. Understanding personality types might be a step towards living in a more harmonised society, where quiet people aren't seen as strange or abnormal, and personal specifications in jobs don't require outgoing personalities.

I can't recommend this book enough. If you're not sure about reading non-fiction, Quiet is a great place to start. With anecdotes from Cain's life interspersed throughout the book, it's as enjoyable as reading a work of fiction. You can find out more about Quiet here, and here.


14 July 2014

Morning Fuel at Tinderbox – Glasgow

I can't figure out why I love shopping. I don't spend lots of money on stuff, but I enjoy wandering around cities I have known forever, and finding new places to enjoy. I spent the weekend in Glasgow visiting family, and it was the most relaxing break. Every day I use a computer, so it was wonderful to leave mine at home and spend time with people and see things.

On Friday I spent the day in the city centre, doing a bit of shopping for a camping trip next month (August is going to be the best month) and awkwardly admiring trainers (I do not fit in in sports shops). But like every time I go shopping, I have to find somewhere good for breakfast first.

I wandered out to Ingram Street, a ten minute walk from the city centre, to find Tinderbox, (a place Grind My Beans raves about). The place was fairly empty, but buzzing nonetheless. The staff were busily making coffees, stocking up the fridge for the day and chatting away to each other in their bea-utiful Glaswegian accents.

Of course I ordered an Americano, but it took me a while to decide what to eat. If it hadn't been 9am, I would have picked a slice of the jaffa cake, but pastries are (obviously) more breakfast friendly. I eventually chose a pain au raisin, the best kind of pastry, according to the cute guy serving me.
If you're on a budget, Tinderbox is your next stop. I paid about £3 altogether, the coffee alone coming in at £1.65.

I could see an upstairs seating area from the bar, but it wasn't until I walked to the end to pick up my coffee that a whole seating area around the back was revealed. I sat down at a small table and took in everything around me: a latte art wall of fame, notice board, gorgeous furniture (am I old and boring for saying that?) and quirky wallpaper. The atmosphere was chilled but vibrant. It was nice and quiet, but I can imagine it fills up quickly as the day goes on, and even more so on weekends.

A Smiths-esque soundtrack with hints of Florence and the Machine and Shura complemented the gorgeous interior, making the whole experience beautifully uplifting.

Do you ever feel like running away as soon as you step inside some coffee shops? Tinderbox was so wonderfully unpretentious, a refreshing change from the usual 'hipster' hangouts. I felt welcomed and at home. The staff were so friendly, but who isn't in Glasgow?

But back to the food and drink. The coffee was strong, hot and perked me up, but I think I need to break the habit of ordering small – I always end up wanting another one. I think one day I will have to venture into the world of milky coffee so I can get a nice picture of the latte art. 

The pastry was full of juicy, sweet raisins, but I would have liked a bit more custard in the middle (Coffee #1 has yet to be beat). Having said that, Tinderbox is way up there with Timberyard. I loved it there. I can imagine going back with a group of friends and spending an afternoon playing board games and people watching out of the enormous windows. 

If you're ever in the area, pop into Tinderbox and see for yourself just how great this place is. I know I'll be back again soon. You can find out more about Tinderbox here.


7 July 2014

Recipe: Skinny Iced Cappuccino

On Saturday I dressed up as a lion for a children's church event in town. It was so much fun and the kids loved it, but by the time I got home, I was whacked. I honestly don't know how people with big frizzy hair cope in the heat – my lion's mane was tied up in a bun as soon as I got home and I was craving something strong and cold to cool me down and soothe my headache. Caffeine always helps, and because I hadn't had a coffee all day, I decided to have a go at making an iced one. 

I love iced coffee, but the amount of sugar that goes into the ones in coffee shops is off putting. Making my own was so easy, tasted great and gave me the pick-me-up I needed without making me feel like I'd just drank a dessert.

Recipe for Skinny Iced Cappuccino


  • 2 tsp instant coffee – I used Black & Beyond espresso because I like it super strong. 
  • Half a cup of skimmed milk
  • Sweet freedom/honey/sugar to taste
1. Boil the kettle and put your coffee in a mug. 

2. Fill the mug half way with the boiling water and stir.

3. Top up with milk and stir again. (I am essentially telling you how to make a cup of coffee, it's that easy).

4. Next add your sweet freedom/sugar – I used about three teaspoons.

5. Fill half a glass with crushed ice and add to the coffee in your blender.

6. Whizz it all up and there you have it.

No fancy frothing needed – the foam forms all on its own in the blender.

Mm mm mm. What's your go-to recipe for iced coffee? Let me know your recommendations – I might be going through a phase... I also made iced tea that day, but that's a recipe for another post, another day.

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