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Dance your way to Fitness with Aurora Studios Belfast

This week I was invited to an event a little bit out of my comfort zone – a chance to try out Belfast’s newest ‘dance fitness’ classes at Aurora Dance Studio, Fountain Street, Belfast. As someone who does not find traditional exercise particularly enjoyable, I was interested in finding out more about alternative ways to burn some calories. I took my cousin Anna with me to see what it was all about!

Aurora dance studios belfast

After success with Aurora Dance Company, offering dance classes predominantly to children, Aurora Studios owner Erin Lyle saw a gap in the market for a City Centre dance studio. Aurora Studios offer adult fitness classes with inspiration from hip hop, Latin, ballet, and burlesque dancing. Also on offer are Rebounding classes (exercising on a mini trampoline), Yoga and Circuits.

Aurora dance studios belfast

We had a go at Rebounding, Ballet Fitness and ‘Burlexercise’. All three were great fun and totally different to anything fitness related I’ve done in the past, with the only comparison being the Zumba classes I used to go to. My favourite would have to be the Ballet Fitness. Not too intense and I really enjoyed the routine. I will definitely be back to try out the hour long version of this class!


The studio is bright and airy, and perfectly located right in the centre of Belfast. The timetable has early morning, straight after work, or evening classes, to suit everyone’s busy schedules. Essentially it is a non intimidating, fun place to keep fit and learn a few dance moves in the process! This type of exercise is so much more suited to me than pounding the treadmill or more straightforward, cardio based workouts.

Aurora dance studios belfast

Thanks Aurora for a great evening!

Love, Laurel

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fancy some chocolate chip cookies that are soft, chewy and easy to make, even with a toddler in tow? Then this recipe is for you.

Chocolate Chip Cookies recipeIngredients (makes approx. 15 medium sized cookies)

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate chips

little boy bakingMethod

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Cream together the butter and sugars, before adding in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • Sift in the flour and salt, then the chocolate chips. Mix together the mixture to form a cookie dough – I ended up using my hands for this part.
  • Roll into balls about the size of a golf ball. You could also roll out the dough and use cookie cutters!
  • Place on grease proof paper and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  • The longer you bake them the more crisp they will be. When they come out of the oven they will look raw, this is ok!
  • Leave them to harden for around 5 minutes before transferring them onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate chip cookies recipe

homemade chocolate chip cookiesOnce cooled, the cookies have that delicious soft and chewy texture. They were a huge hit with Harry (22 months) who loved helping me make them! They also didn’t take long to make which helps when you have an impatient toddler who doesn’t quite understand the baking process!

I chose to make the traditional ‘cookie shape’ this time. But when I’ve made these previously we have used cookie cutters and the dough works perfectly with either method.

You could also add in different combinations to the mixture; white chocolate chips, raspberries, Smarties, hazelnuts or pistachios would all work well.

In total these took less than 20 minutes to make and tasted so good. Helping out kept Harry happy so all in all it was a winner!

toddler eating cookieLove, Laurel

From Baby to Little Boy

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but suddenly my baby boy has become a proper little person! I know that sounds obvious but it’s the only way I can explain it.

21 month old toddler

Harry is 21 months old now. He chats away constantly and can repeat most words we say, but one of the most significant changes happened in the last few weeks – his understanding of emotions and situations.

He says things like ‘what’s wrong?’ and ‘what happened?’ when he sees me rubbing my eyes after a long day or he hears a loud noise. Emotions and feelings have come to his attention, too. ‘Harry tired!’ he exclaims after he yawns and ‘Ella crying’ when he hears our dog crying at the stair gate, wanting upstairs to see us. If he hurts himself he now says ‘Banged my head!’ or ‘Sore!’.

from baby to little boy

Another change is he wants me to play along with him. ‘Come on’ he says and grabs my trouser leg and urges me to come sit inside his tent or make a Lego tower. If I am going about my business he comes over and says ‘What doing?’ which is pretty cute and funny.

toddler puddlesuit beach

All of a sudden he makes decisions, expresses interest in specific things and has his own preferences which he is not afraid to shout about. We must have watched ‘No-man!’ (The Snowman) and ‘No-Dog! (The Snowman and the Snowdog) about fifty times each at Christmas. He loves music and requests songs in the car and to watch on YouTube, which we have to play ”gain! ‘gain!’ over and over!

Harry has become attached to cuddly toys, too. His cot is now full of his little friends and he loves lining them up, calling out their names and giving them hugs. Speaking of hugs, he will give them out to us quite freely now, with the odd kiss, which is lovely.

toddler bubble machine

It’s not always so great though, he now loves the word NO! and shouts ‘no no no no NO!’ at any given opportunity. Sharing is something he is working on, and he has identified hair as something you can pull! We have had a few embarrassing incidents with other children, many more to come I’m sure.  He is eating really well at the moment, but occasionally throws a tantrum at being in his highchair and his bowl ends up thrown on the floor. He is not a fan of the buggy either and will plank when we try to put him in it!

baby mohawk

The point of this post however, is the realisation my little baby is well and truly his own person these days. We are no longer two adults with a baby. We are firmly a family of 3 individuals now (4 if you count Ella, which we do). We are loving seeing Harry’s personality develop and are amazed every day by something new he has learnt. Terrible twos are just around the corner though, let’s hope we are one of the lucky ones!

Love, Laurel

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