My Little Duke

A night in Belfast with Diamond Elite

Steph DukeComment

On 14th March, my sister and I enjoyed a very special treat! We were driven up to Belfast in style for a Menu Tasting event at The Mac.

What a beautiful car!

What a beautiful car!

I cannot tell you how brilliant our experience was with Diamond Elite Chauffeur Services. Emily and I both know the owner of the business, Ruth, and we were keen to support her new venture and spread the word. In what is traditionally such a male-dominated industry, Ruth is truly bossing it!

Emily had previously enquired for her wedding next year, so this was the perfect chance to test-drive one of Ruth’s cars … and what a wonderful car / experience she gave us.

Joules shirt kindly gifted by Alana Interiors, Lurgan

Joules shirt kindly gifted by Alana Interiors, Lurgan

Even with very short notice, Ruth provided us with a dream car, chauffeur and even complimentary wine for our journey to Belfast. I was picked up right outside my door, my sister too!

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Being driven in both comfort and style up the motorway and whilst clinking our wine glasses together, my sister and I joked about how we could easily get used to this kind of lifestyle! The perfect treat for that someone special.

Ems and I arrived early at The Mac, chauffeured right up to the door. No long walk in heels from the train station! Hooray!

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We had been kindly invited by Rumour Mill PR to attend a special menu tasting evening at The Mac’s new Cafe Bar.

“Not many people know that the MAC is a charity. And just like every other charity, we have to work really hard to raise the money needed to survive and grow. One way we do it is via our new café bar. Every extra penny we make from our food and drink goes into doing what we do best – creating a space that kick-starts connections between people, and between people and art.”

Emily and I enjoyed a beautiful Prosecco Reception followed by incredible Wine Tasting c/o Direct Wine Shipments. Can highly, highly recommend these guys - the wine was top notch.

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Menu choice for the evening included:

MAC & Cheese (V)

Super Food Salad (V) (GF)

Classic MAC Burger *

served with a selection of MAC chips and dips

*Gluten Free option available

I went for the MAC Burger and Ems, the MAC & Cheese. Holy Moly. The food was superb.

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After fully stuffing our faces with as much wine and food as was good for us, we headed to The Dirty Onion for a G&T to finish what had been a brilliant night. It’s not often Ems and I get out together, especially not in the big smoke, so this was really special. Getting picked up right outside the bar at the end of the night was all the more sweet as it was pouring with rain! No calling a cab or running for the train - just stepping inside a warm, comfy car and getting a lift back home to your doorstep.

I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the guys at both Rumour Mill PR and The MAC for our kind invitation, and to Ruth of Diamond Elite for her generous discount. I would totally recommend you to hire a chauffeur for a night in the city! You can see more of our fun from the night in my highlights on my Instagram.

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* Disclaimer: This blog post is not sponsored, neither am I being paid to write it. It is merely a documentation of our experience - something we can fondly look back on! All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. *

Six by Nico Review

Blogging, Fashion, FoodSteph DukeComment

On Sunday 10th March I took myself off to the big smoke for a few hours. The weather was wild and so was my hair as I bumbled my way through the door of Belfast’s hottest new restaurant ‘Six by Nico’.

There has been a real buzz around this new eatery and rumour has it that you can’t get a reservation before the end of April! So when I received an invite to come and try the unique 6 course menu at ‘Six by Nico’ - I couldn’t say no.

Pic by Michelle  @two_daisies

Pic by Michelle @two_daisies

Six by Nico offers customers a series of carefully curated and constantly evolving restaurant concepts. Each six weeks, Nico and his team will serve a brand new six-course tasting menu – each one themed upon a different place or memory.

I have to say a special thank you to Rumour Mill PR for the invitation to attend Sunday’s taster event. The afternoon was kindly hosted by SKAPA and Cathy Martin and we were treated to the current menu - ‘The Chippie’ - I cannot wait to share these incredible dishes with you.

Course One - ‘Chips & Cheese’   Parmesan Espuma | Crisp Potato | Curry Oil

Course One - ‘Chips & Cheese’

Parmesan Espuma | Crisp Potato | Curry Oil

Course Two - ‘Scampi’   Monkfish Cheeks | Pea Emulsion | Wild Garlic | Gribiche

Course Two - ‘Scampi’

Monkfish Cheeks | Pea Emulsion | Wild Garlic | Gribiche

Course Three - ‘Steak Pie’   Beef Shin | Burnt Onion Ketchup | Mushroom Duxelle | Red Wine | Glazed Puff Pastry

Course Three - ‘Steak Pie’

Beef Shin | Burnt Onion Ketchup | Mushroom Duxelle | Red Wine | Glazed Puff Pastry

Course Four - ‘Fish Supper’   Cod | Confit Fennel | Samphire | Beer Pickled Mussels

Course Four - ‘Fish Supper’

Cod | Confit Fennel | Samphire | Beer Pickled Mussels

Course Five - ‘Smoked Sausage’   Pork Belly | Salt Baked Celeriac | Caramelised Apple | Black Pudding

Course Five - ‘Smoked Sausage’

Pork Belly | Salt Baked Celeriac | Caramelised Apple | Black Pudding

Course Six - ‘Deep Fried Mars Bar’   Caramelia Chocolate | Orange Sorbet | Cocoa Nib

Course Six - ‘Deep Fried Mars Bar’

Caramelia Chocolate | Orange Sorbet | Cocoa Nib

The photos hopefully speak for themselves. Gosh. The food was really incredible! I’m not entirely sure I can pick a favourite … probably the scampi or the smoked sausage dishes topped the bill for me! I’m a dessert person though so I can’t not mention the deep fried mars bar - literally have no words for this dish! Stunning. Just stunning.

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I can confirm that they make a decent skinny flat white too! Hurrah!

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Everything about this place is top notch, what an honour to get the opportunity to experience it like I did!

Lovely to share a table with these two beauties @lauras_little_loves & @two_daisies

Lovely to share a table with these two beauties @lauras_little_loves & @two_daisies

Photo by @brendangallagherphoto

Photo by @brendangallagherphoto

An "Insta-Class" with My Little Duke

Blogging, FaithSteph DukeComment

It took several requests and a gentle nudge from a friend for me to even consider doing something like this! I mean, who am I to give advice about Instagram?! I am nobody and I am certainly no expert. Tutor English? Yes, absolutely! Take a class on Instagram? Now that’s a whole other ball game!

As the date for the class drew closer, I had a major case of imposter-syndrome … but much to my surprise, the class ended up being over-subscribed and I needed to re-locate! Ok, I told myself. I can do this. I have something valid to say. I have my experience to share. And that is exactly what I did.

Flowers kindly gifted by  @gracehillflowers

Flowers kindly gifted by @gracehillflowers

My main aim was to offer the ladies a behind-the-lens insight into my experience of using Instagram over the last 4 years. It was important to me that they would come away from the class feeling both informed and equipped, and I do hope that this was so!

Here’s what they said:

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“Thanks so much for a lovely evening. It was so relaxed and you were refreshingly open and honest. I hope your other sessions go really well too - I’m sure they will love it as much as we did!”

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“Thank you for last night, it was a fascinating evening. So much information to help me negotiate the Instagram world. I will be working on creating more content, experimenting with my pics and I may even create a story!”

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“I have been trying to think of something to share so I could join with the hashtag #learnuaryni - turns out after a little insta class run by Steph from @mylittleduke, I did just that. I learnt some things about Instagram that I have been dying to know but most wouldn’t share. Steph was honest and forthright about her social media journey, and inspiring to say the least. The added bonus of course was the lovely ladies I got to meet there. We shared stories and ideas and this highlighted once again how these squares can bring likeminded people together to form friendships, business ideas, content creating and best of all, plenty of laughter (oh, and a love of cakes!) There are big things to come…”

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I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of women to join me for this first class. We giggled, bonded and shared our unique stories over copious cups of tea and cake. The discussion was honest and open and full of learning opportunities for everyone, myself included.

As many of you will know, I’ve been on quite a journey with Instagram over the last 4 years. What began as a small business selling items for mummies and littles has evolved into something I could never have imagined. Never could I have dreamed that I’d create content for brands, never mind getting paid to do so. Never would I have thought I’d be driving up to Ballymena to meet someone I’d become friends with online. Never could I imagine I’d listen to promptings from the Holy Spirit, then write and share what I believed to be something from the heart of God. The doors of opportunity are wide open and I’ve been learning to walk right through!

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So what sort of things did we cover in the class?

  • my personal experience of IG ( the positive & the negative)

  • content creation / working with brands

  • taking & editing photos

  • branding & blogging

  • growing a following

  • instagram for business

  • & much, much more!

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It was an honour to showcase some wonderful local ladies on the evening too. Rachel from @rachiebakesni made the delicious treats we enjoyed on the night … thank you Rachel!

mini marbled chocolate & clementine loaf cakes

mini marbled chocolate & clementine loaf cakes

can you spot Rachel’s homemade marshmallow?!

can you spot Rachel’s homemade marshmallow?!

The ladies were also treated to gorgeous place-name hoops by the lovely Louise of @taylorit_ and stunning prints by mixed media artist, Lynsey of @lynseyauldart.

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A special thanks must go to the 6 brave women who came along to listen, to learn and to share their instagram stories. I’ve linked their accounts here:

Jillian @hennathome

Claire @thats_me_lady_c

Arlene @arlsnyro

Victoria @thecraftystag

Andrea @life_hack_mum_

Jenny @jennycatlowphotography - Jenny very kindly offered to take some photos on the night - such a lovely reminder of our session!

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It is no co-incidence that I’m sharing this blog post on International Women’s Day. I keep being continually blown away by the women I am having opportunity to connect with through Instagram - some real God-appointments and friendships! Gosh I am so grateful!

Alongside the group insta-class I have also been running 1-1 sessions. Like I mentioned earlier, these were also by request and I felt real imposter-syndrome all over again! However, after my first meeting I came away completely assured that I could actually offer something of value and I needn’t feel the fear.

My first meeting was with a woman who I greatly admire. Her God-story is pretty incredible and it was such an honour to have opportunity to chat 1-1 about using Instagram to grow her business. I now feel privileged to be able to call Charlene a friend and I can’t be more excited about being able to journey alongside her as she steps out in faith with @gracehillflowers! I really couldn’t have asked for a better person to *nervously* do my first session with!! Here’s what Charlene said:

“I had the priviledge of doing a 1-1 session with Steph. She has a wonderful knowlege of the world of instagram and was excellent at tailoring her knowledge to my specific needs in the direction I wanted our wee farm to take on the squares. I found her very open and honest in the information she shared. Through my 1-1 session with her, she has helped me gain more confidence through her encouragement and ongoing support. Thankful to call her more than a mentor now, but a friend.”

Charlene grows her own beautiful blooms at her Flower Farm in Loughgall

Charlene grows her own beautiful blooms at her Flower Farm in Loughgall

Here are some more amazing ladies who are availing of the 1-1 sessions. You girls are truly inspirational!

Sarah @iamsarahfletcher

Sharon @sharon_laura

Patricia @patricianewell1

Kerry @butterscotch315

Michelle @shelleyt_

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My most recent session was with Sara @saraallen_author. Sara has just launched her incredible book ‘Meraki’ and what a joy it was to spend time chatting together. This was indeed another God-appointment! I came away so blessed and encouraged, grateful to have spent time in Sara’s company.

Here’s what Sara said:

It’s #internationalwomensday and I thought Id mark the occasion by giving a shout out to this girl ... Steph Duke.

I’ve followed her on insta for a while and admired the authenticity she brings to a platform that can be very much all about my, myself and I.

Steph appeared real, not fake, not self promoting but someone who stood out as she bravely used her voice to encourage and inspire others by sharing her story.

When Steph mentioned that she was thinking of doing workshops on all things insta and sharing some of her experiences and lessons I couldn’t wait to jump in and sign up. But my ever complicated diary wouldn’t allow and so I thought I’d contact her and ask for a one to one coffee meeting instead.

Honestly I’ve never connected with anyone via insta before in person – I’ve DM’d, sent emails and commented but face to face was a whole new level of brave!! Especially because I still didn’t even really know what I really wanted to do with this platform.

I have loved Instagram for a few years, originally joining because I love nothing more than capturing a moment with a photo. I am a firm believer that a picture can sometimes paint a thousand words.

But if I am totally honest I had got a bit lost and disappointed with it all.

It has become a bit of an advertising, influencer platform with everyone vying for a little bit of attention and I’m not a fan.

I’ve lost my love for it but yet I am in a place on my personal journey where I know God is asking me to use my voice in whatever space and platform I find myself for good. I can’t just tap out.

I’ve spent the last few years writing a book which was published in December and as my lovely editor reminded me more than once the book is for others not me, my responsibility is to get the message out there. I can’t control what people will think of it but I do need to let them know it exists.

In steps Steph ...

As I tried to explain some of my ramblings as my love / hate relationship with Instragam and what I really wanted to use the platform for she listened, smiled and gave me so many key insights into what this platform can do & the functionality of how it all really works. Who knew there was a good and bad time to post? Of the importance of filters, stories and hashtags?

It is a minefield and one that I need to get brave enough to tackle with a bit more clarity of thought and planning but one that I now have a greater understanding of thanks to Steph. Who also helped me realise the importance of using platforms like Instagram for good!

I’ve shyed away as I don’t want to appear self- promoting. I haven’t wanted people to roll their eyes and think “here she goes again” but what I do want is for people to hear my heart in the words I share. Read the posts and understand that they flow from a heart that is surrendered to Jesus and that in sharing the things that flow from it I want others to connect with Him. To understand that He is the only reason I am something to share, He is the One who has transformed my life and I will gladly share His story for ever.

If you are thinking of connecting with Steph – do it! She has a lot to share and you will come away inspired and informed. Inspired to join the army of like minded “influencers” who are sharing their story to set others free and informed about all the technical know how and insights to help you make it happen.

I couldn’t recommend a session with Steph more.

Wow. Thank you Sara!

I am so deeply humbled and never more certain that if we offer God our WHOLE selves, He will take whatever we give Him (even if we feel like our hands are empty) and will use it in the most beautiful way.

So be encouraged today that even if you feel like an imposter - but you feel God stirring in your heart - DO WHATEVER IT IS THAT GOD IS CALLING YOU TO DO! I cannot begin to comprehend God’s plans and purposes for my life in the next 10 years, the possibilities are LIMITLESS. I’m learning not to limit myself! Will you join me?!

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And there you have it! I hope this post gives you an insight into my heart behind these sessions and a bit more information too. I’m currently running 1-1 sessions throughout March and April and intend on hosting another group class over the coming weeks as well. Please, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There is never any pressure to sign up, I’d be just so delighted to connect with you and share the details! You can message me through my Instagram @mylittleduke or drop me an email: steph@mylittleduke.com. Can’t wait to hear from you! Instagram can feel a bit intimidating at times, it’s time to take back control.

Teepees and Turning 4!

Steph DukeComment
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It was a weekend of birthday fun in our house as Phoebe celebrated her fourth birthday! I still can’t quite believe it, but here we are.

I was on the lookout for something a little different for Phoebe this year and when I came across local gal, Alanna on Instagram, I knew her Teepee’s were exactly what I’d been looking for!

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Never heard of ‘The Teepee Tribe’? You can visit their website here.

But, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered too! I chatted recently with the owner about her new business venture … you can read our conversation below.

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Q. Tell us a little about you and your family.

A. Hi my name is Alanna and I am a mum, wife and now the business owner of The Teepee Tribe!

Q. Why The Teepee Tribe?

A. After being a stay at home mum for three years I felt that I needed another focus in my life. I have always been a creative person and now I have found something that I am very passionate about. The Teepee Tribe has given me a new lease of life.

Q. What exactly is The Teepee Tribe?

A. The Teepee Tribe is a magical sleepover party! I come and set it up in your home and return the following day - it’s hassle free for parents.

Q. How long has your business been up and running?

A. I started the business the beginning of September and am so overwhelmed and thankful for how supportive everyone has been to help me get this little business off the ground.

Q. What has been your favourite part of the journey so far?

A. My favourite part has to be seeing the kids’ faces once they enter the room I have set up.

Q. What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

A. I’m looking forward to meeting more people and making more children happy. Oh, and I’m also excited about adding another new concept to the business for the summer … so watch this space!

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Alanna very kindly gifted Phoebe her Unicorn Themed Teepee Party and I am incredibly grateful. Phoebe had the most magical afternoon with her 2 very best friends from school. She’s even already requested the Teepees back again for next year!! Hope you’re free Alanna?!

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Currently The Teepee Tribe offer the following teepee packages (all of which can be viewed on their website):

Unicorn Tribe

Mermaid Tribe

Army Tribe

Sweet Dreams Tribe

Christmas Package ( I love this one!!)

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I highly recommend Alanna for your next birthday party. She has made the whole experience completely hassle free for us as parents! Alanna will deliver and set up your teepees, then return to take them down and away the next day. Plus, the look on Phoebe’s face when she saw the room was just priceless.

Thinking of booking? Well boy, have I got good news for you!

Alanna is being ridiculously generous and giving someone a pretty awesome Christmas present. One of our followers will WIN a Teepee Package of their choice (for up to 4 people) - our gift to you this Christmas!! All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is enter the giveaway on Instagram.

Thank you once again to Alanna for helping me make Phoebe’s 4th Birthday such a special one! The three girls were spoiled rotten and had the best time together. It was unicorn-everything: unicorn cake, unicorn face paint, unicorn gifts, unicorn party treats, unicorn doormat (see first picture) and unicorn pjs for everyone!

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Some of the finer details are listed below:

Pjs - Dunnes

Rainbow Unicorn Cake - M&S

Print - @sarahcameronart

Doormat - The Range

Chocolate unicorns - Tesco

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Now I best go and deal with the fact that I now have a four year old!!

S xo

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