Wednesday, 26 November 2014

City hopping | London

We stayed at the Novotel Wembley, which meant a lovely view of the famous arch. England were playing a couple of days later but it was surprisingly quiet – although a shame I didn’t see the arch properly lit up. The location was excellent, as we missed the hustle and bustle of the city centre, but could easily get around on the tube (Wembley Park on the Met Line was minutes away). Apparently, there’s an outlet store now as well – and for the festive season, an ice rink. We didn’t go but it’s certainly worth thinking about and a great hotel to stay it if you’re planning on going. We paid £67 for a room and breakfast and on arrival, found out rooms were going for £300+.
On our first evening, we ate Hawksmoor Seven Dials (which you can read about here). It was by far, the best meal I’d ever had, never mind the best steak! I had 400g of rib eye and it was cooked absolutely beautifully – I don’t think I could ever have steak again, anywhere else. It’s actually one of the places I’m considering booking for my 25th birthday in a couple of months; the cocktail is so extensive and I only sampled one, so what better reason?
We also took a trip to the Cambridge Theatre and saw Matilda the Musical. I love going to see shows in London and normally prefer plays over musicals, but this was great! Again, the location was good, easy to get to and lots of places to eat and drink in close proximity. If you’ve not been to see it yet, I highly recommend it – although it is quite long, so take the kids to a matinee! The performance was so energetic, parts were hilarious and when I look back on it, it still puts a smile on my face.
All around London at the moment are Paddington Bear figures – there are 50 in total and they’re all part of the Paddington Trail (you may have see the hash tag on Twitter). Eventually the figures will be auctioned off with the proceedings going to the NSPCC. How many have you spotted so far? I loved the Sherlock Bear, designed by Benedict Cumberbatch (Museum of London) but first we saw the Bear Necessities (The British Museum). We were definitely really touristy on our second day!
I don’t think I’d been to The British Museum before, but I loved it. I wish we had more time there, as I don’t feel like I saw enough – there’s so many different rooms, it’s difficult cramming it in, no matter how long you have. We followed the route suggested on the map as were short of time (they recommend an hour to 90 minutes). It will sound really nerdy but I love looking at old artefacts; things like ceramics, jewellery and paintings are what interest me most.
Another place I’ve blogged about is BRGR.CO where we had afternoon tea. It was so much fun and a unique take on what is quintessentially a British past time. The fact that Time Out rated it in their 101 things to do in London means it’s worth trying out – it wasn’t my favourite afternoon tea experience but I’m glad I did it.
We ended the day with a trip to the Museum of London, but only because I wanted to see the Paddington exhibition. It was in reality, quite disappointing and I was really underwhelmed. I was expecting a big exhibition, but it was only a small display, with an extra interactive area (for children). By this stage, I was exhausted after being up so early and lugging my heavy bag and coat around all day, so we only spent about 40 minutes there. I loved Victorian Street; looking at all the shops set up was almost like going back in time and reminded me of my Victorian school trip when I was in year 5! If only I was dressed up to fit in... It was great seeing the Olympic Torch and the section dedicated to London 2012 was incredible too – bringing back so many good memories of sporting achievements!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Afternoon tea | BRGR.CO

When researching how to spend a day in London, I came across a Time Out article which consisted of 101 things you must do – one of them was to have afternoon tea at BRGR.CO. Now I think everyone knows about my love for afternoon tea and Jake, well he loves burgers (typical man!), so this was just a match made in heaven. We booked a table for 3pm and took the tube to Oxford Circus, before walking to BRGR.CO in Soho.
The restaurant is small, but at 3pm was far from busy – I’d recommend booking though, to be on the safe side, especially if you’re going for the afternoon tea. The decor is really minimalist and there’s a really casual feel, so I quickly felt at ease. There wasn’t much space between tables which is the thing that always gets me, but luckily there weren’t people sitting either side of us for long.
A man (who I can only assume was in a managerial or supervisory position) came over ready to talk us through the menu, which was actually displayed on a blackboard in front of me. As I explained we had done our research prior to arriving he didn’t talk us through the experience. I’d have liked the surprise anyway. We had the festive afternoon tea, which varied slightly from the standard – both are priced at £17 per person.
We were supposed to begin with some mulled wine on arrival, but apparently the “wine hadn’t mulled enough” and instead, had a flute of strawberry bellini – even better! Soon after, we had a glass of cranberry iced tea, which was so refreshing.
We didn’t have to wait long before the food arrived – all presented on a silver tray, a mix of sweet and savoury. We were also given our own individual tray which meant none of that reaching over and knocking things over, as is normally the way when sharing a cake stand.
For the savoury element, we had three mini sliders and mini portion of salted fries. Each slider was different with shrimp and lobster (with fresh coriander), turkey (topped with crispy bacon) and the standard beef burger (with cheese). Each was served in a mini brioche bun which was so light and soft. The shrimp and lobster patty was really interesting, but my favourite had to be the turkey; it was just so lean and crispy bacon was perfect. I was slightly underwhelmed by the beef slider – it was basically steak tartare, which is weird ’cos I love my steak blue!
For the sweet treats, we had a mini vanilla milkshake (which I dunked my fries in – don’t judge), a mini chocolate brownie, a mini mince pie and a mini chestnut cheesecake. I loved the cheesecake which consisted of layers of biscuit and chestnut puree – not a traditional cheesecake but so nice and incredibly moreish. You can’t really go wrong with chocolate brownie and the mince pie was the festive touch. I only wish the milkshake was larger; one slurp and it was gone.
At £17pp, the price was reasonable, especially when you consider the cost of traditional afternoon tea, particularly in London. The staff were excellent and everyone else dining looked to have a good time – including another couple who sampled the afternoon tea and took proper photos! I’d love to go back to sample one of the burgers and the fries toppings sound unreal! Even though it’s casual, it’s upmarket too – so you get the best of both worlds. For afternoon tea with a twist, this was lovely and I’d love to go back to try it again, when it’s not the festive season.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Theatre | Matilda the Musical

When I think about films from my childhood, Matilda is the first that springs to mind. As soon as I heard it was out in the West End, I knew I wanted to see it and I’m so glad I finally have – it’s a great show, full of energy!
I hadn’t really researched the show beforehand so I wasn’t aware it was more like the book – which I haven’t read for years – but now I do know, there were elements of it I didn’t like. Some parts just didn’t make any sense to me. For example, Mrs Wormwood was a professional dancer and there was a full scene of her with her partner, obviously to act up to the musical element.  I just didn’t understand where that fitted in, in the story.
Matilda is a gifted child – by the age of four she has read all the books in the children's section of her local library and moved on to the likes of Dickens, Austen, and Hemingway. She can also do advanced maths in her head and has a real understanding of the world. Unfortunately her TV-addict parents don't appreciate her at all. She spends most of her time reading, and the rest thinking up clever revenges on them. Things only get worse when she starts school, where the headmistress Miss Trunchbull is nothing more than a horrible bully. Getting back at the Trunchbull will be much more difficult, and dangerous, but Matilda's magnificent mind starts developing even more talents!
The musical element was fantastic, with the songs written by Tim Minchin. A lot of them also had real comedic value, which the adults definitely appreciated more. The way in which each song was acted was excellent and I have to mention the School Song which was a joy to watch – the coloured lit-up alphabet blocks were such a fun idea and watching the actors climb them was spectacular in itself. The lyrics were intelligent and the tune was stuck in my head for hours after!
I loved Craige Els who played Miss Trunchbull and played the role so well. He was just everything you’d expect the terrifying bully head mistress to be. He had me in absolute hysterics and made the musical so much more enjoyable. While I’m mentioning the actors, obviously the young actors were amazing! For most of them, it was their West End debut, but you really couldn’t tell. According to the programme, there are four girls playing Matilda and on our evening, she was played by Lottie Sicilia. Being the eponymous character, she has to get a special congratulations – she was fantastic!  There was that element of sympathy, but also that moment of rejoice at the end when she was finally ‘free’.
I think I compared the show too much to the film, which is why I really didn’t like the ending and it just seemed to drag on for too long. I’m used to the Wormwoods fleeing the country and then Miss Honey and Matilda walking into the sunset, hand-in-hand, a swing in their step. The FBI agents were replaced with Russians and the final scene culminated in the mafia chasing Harry Wormwood, causing the family to make a quick getaway.
We sat in the Upper Circle, about seven rows from the back and looking back, I wish I had paid more to sit in the stalls, or at least, a little lower down. If you’re wanting to save money, then the Upper Circle is for you – but don’t expect the view to be amazing. While our view wasn’t actually obstructed, at times it was restricted and I felt as though I was missing out on all the props and action. I paid £65 for two tickets so can’t have too many complaints! I also bought the programme for £5 (great value and worth every penny), a slush for the first half (£3) and an ice cream at the interval (£3.50).
Matilda is on at the Cambridge Theatre until December 2015, with tickets priced from £20 to £67.50. You can find out more details here.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Restaurant review | Hawksmoor

Where I ate:
Hawksmoor Seven Dials, Langley Street, London
Last Thursday, Jake and I went to see Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre. As the show was starting at 7:30pm, we needed somewhere to eat beforehand and because the area is generally always so busy, needed to book in advance. Jake booked us a table at the Seven Dials branch of Hawksmoor for 5pm, although we arrived slightly later (thanks to a trespasser on the line at one of the tube stations).
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the reservations manager who took and hung up my coat before guiding us downstairs where the waiter took us to the table. The restaurant is underground and so, is quite dark. It’s really open plan with the bar on one side, the kitchen on another and we sat on the far side, next to the (extensive!) wine cellar. The site is a former brewery and you can definitely tell, the layout reflects it, if that makes sense? There’s a sort of mysterious feel, but the overall ambience is really relaxed.
What I drank:
Garden Party (White Port, Redcurrant Campari & Prosecco, strirred with Cucumber)
A very English version of Milan’s Sbagliato, a drink that translates as plain ‘wrong’ – after a bartender at Bar Basso mistakenly used sparkling wine in a Negroni in place of gin. First mixed by Adam McGurk at Hawksmoor Air Street.
Hawksmoor have a really extensive cocktail and wine list, with prices you’d expect from the area. Even though I perused the menu before we went, I still had no idea what cocktail I was going to choose – and ended up panicking, picking the first I saw. Obviously it didn’t go with steak at all and was more suited to being an aperitif. I’d describe Garden Party as a posher, boozier Pimm’s. It was very fresh and wasn’t as fruity as I was expecting. It was lovely though – definitely a sippy drink.
What I ate:
Rib eye steak (cooked blue) with peppercorn sauce and beef dripping fries, followed by peanut butter shortbread
Hawksmoor offer a pre- and post-theatre menu, well priced at £24 for two courses, or three courses at £27. If you’re in a hurry like we were, I’d definitely recommend choosing from the express menu; while at the other end of the spectrum, if time is your friend and you’re in a big group, there are so many sharing options. I’m already hoping to have my birthday at Hawksmoor, with a kilo and a half of Chateaubriand. The weights of the steaks are even written on chalkboards around the restaurant, so you can choose your preferred option.
I didn’t fancy any of the starters, so went straight in with the main – what was supposed to be a 250g rib eye, actually transpired to be 400g... and I polished the lot! Each express main comes with your choice of a side dish and I chose the beef dripping fries, for something different.  The steak was the best I’d ever had – both in England and abroad – it was cooked to perfection, the most incredible cut and quality, and the photo just doesn’t do it justice. I don’t think I can even explain how amazing it was – but I thoroughly recommend you check it out. The fries too, were so good – really crisp – but plenty for two to share. I swamped both in peppercorn sauce, which wasn’t too rich, with a peppery punch.
With three desserts on the menu, there was only one option for me: the peanut butter shortbread. I had high expectations after the steak and this didn’t let me down. It was basically a giant crown-shaped shortbread biscuit with a sweet filling of peanuts and salted caramel, accompanied with a scoop of ice cream. It was really rich and sweet, but wickedly moreish. The ice cream simply melted because the biscuit was fresh from the oven. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.
Our waiter was brilliant from start to finish, he was keen in hearing our evening plans, but was also professional and efficient. There was a slight query regarding our bill, but he dealt with it quickly and with minimum fuss. An optional 12.5% service charge is added to the bill, I’d happily pay that and more in terms of quality and service. The fact that my steak probably came to £15 is just remarkable. I can’t wait to return to Hawksmoor!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Liebster Award

Thank you to the lovely Laura over at Blonde & Cupcakes for my Liebster Award nomination. This little space began nearly two years ago when I only had a couple of followers and regular readers who are non-bloggers. Since branching out to Bloglovin, my views, comments and followers has increased dramatically, so thank you everyone for all the love. I’ll be posting a Christmassy giveaway to coincide with my blogiversary, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Back to this post and the rules are as follows:
  • Thank the blog that nominated you, follow them if you'd like, and link them
  • Post 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions provided by the person who nominated you and then create a question set for the next group of nominees
  • Choose five to 11 people to nominate (including blogs with fewer than 200 followers) and link them on the post
  • Let your nominees know they've been tagged
My 11 facts are:
1) I was born nearly two months early but you’d find it hard to believe that I weighed less than four pounds.
2) I work in Travel Marketing and I love it – it’s so worth the two year wait I had after finishing Uni.
3) I still live at home with my parents and brother. I guess at 24, that’s quite bad but there’s no way I could afford to move out.
4) From a young age, my dad took me to watch Barnet. These days we don’t really have the time or money to go every week, but it was such a big part of my life, I can’t let go!
5) When I was 17, I was diagnosed with PCOS. People’s reactions to it are so ignorant and horrible as it’s something that doesn’t get enough coverage. I hate that it’s basically incurable but I’m learning to live with it.
6) My dream is to swim with dolphins – they’re my favourite animals. My room is actually still blue and there is a painted dolphin frieze above my dado rail!
7) I am addicted to buying DVDs – if I buy one, I end up buying five or six. I’ve actually got lists of ones I want to buy and my aim is to collect ALL the Disney ones... I didn’t realise there were so many!
8) I love to be organised – I make lists for lists. I make to do lists every morning at work, I love to makes lists to plan my meals in advance, I list things I want to buy or need, I list potential blog posts in my diary. I LOVE LISTS!
9) Talking of lists, when I was 18, I created a list of 30 things I want to do before I’m 30. When my laptop broke, I lost the file, but I have everything written down somewhere. I think I’m about a sixth of the way through it... I’ve only got little over five years left – eek!
10) I don’t have a large group of friends. I don’t really speak to anyone I went to school or sixth form with. I rarely see my friends from Uni. My two best friends live hundreds of miles away. But I am grateful for the friends I have and love nothing more than spending time with them. Blogging has helped with meeting new people and I’m firm believer that these friendships are for life.
11) My Auntie and Uncle live in Madrid and that means most of our family holidays have been to Spain. I’ve been to smaller towns that people haven’t simply heard of, as well as all the major cities too. I think Madrid is my favourite city in the world that I’ve been to – I love the culture, food, fiestas and way of life.
Laura asked me the following 11 questions, so here are my responses:
1) What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?
I cannot wait to make blueberry pancakes!
2) What are your greatest strengths or weaknesses?
My greatest strengths are my timekeeping and grammar (I’m such a pedant) and my weaknesses are my impatience and money management (although I’m getting better).
3) If you could wake up tomorrow in someone else's body, who would you pick and what would you do?
I’d love to be Lauren Conrad and basically do all the things that she does. She’s become so successful and is clearly dedicated and hard-working.
4) Why did you start blogging?
I started originally blogging at Look Black n Amber, as my Journalism module was football-related and I was working as part of the programme team at Barnet for a while – I was hoping to put my portfolio on there. I then realised I was limiting my readers and so branched out to Lucy Loves in the hope there would be something for everyone, whatever your interests.
5) What question do you hate to answer?
The ‘where do you see yourself in x years’ question. The majority of the time, I don’t know what I’m doing at the weekend, let alone in a number of years. I really don’t think I could predict the future and I suppose I don’t know what I want. I just take each day as it comes.
6) Do you have any favourite artists or bands? Who?
When I was a teenager, I was a real indie kid and all my favourite bands I saw live. My love for music really isn’t that great anymore, so I’d have to say Arctic Monkeys and The Courteeners.
7) Who is/are your hero(es)?
I don’t have any *sad face*
8) What's your most embarrassing memory?
I have so many! Countless drunken ones, the time I fell up the stairs at Barnet in front of everyone, I once got my finger stuck in a glass bottle... my most recent one was at work when I picked up my mug to wash it up, forgetting it still had coffee in. So I threw it down myself and screamed and of course, everyone stared. Luckily it was the end of the day but I did do a shifty walk to the car park!
9) What's your dream job?
My dream job from the age of about 14 was a Sports Journalist, I know that will only ever be a dream now.
10) Do you have any male crushes? If yes, then who?
11) And finally, please tell me a joke. A good one.  I love them.
I really don’t know many jokes, so here’s one taking the mick out of myself:
What’s an Essex girl’s favourite wine?
I waaaaaanna go to Lakesiiiiiide
I’d like to nominate some of my current favourite bloggers:
Luci – lipstickloveheart
Alice – Bright Town Girl
Olivia – Olivia Mulhearn
Candice – Beauty Candy Loves
Vicky – The Polish List
Mariah - StarlaSays
The 11 questions I’d like to ask these lovely ladies are:
1) What is your favourite thing about winter?
2) If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?
3) Do you change your perfume according to season and what are you currently wearing?
4) If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
5) Who’s your favourite actor/actress?
6) What’s your favourite flavour of Jelly Belly?
7) Which one beauty product could you not live without?
8) What is your proudest achievement to date?
9) What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?
10) Night in or night out?
11) What is your favourite childhood memory?

Please let me know when you’ve answered the questions so I can read your posts and see who you mention – I’m always looking out for new blogs to read and people to follow.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Restaurant review | Yo! Sushi

Where I ate:
Yo! Sushi, Westfield Stratford, London
On Saturday, dad and I went to Barnet’s first round FA Cup match and as we got the tube from Stratford to Canons Park (long!), that meant stopping off at Westfield for lunch. Of course, we went to one of our favourite casual eateries – Yo! Sushi. I’d not been for ages, in fact since this post and there were even new additions to the menu in the form of the £8 mega bowls. While they offer great value for money and are probably so filling you don’t need to order anything else, all of the fun is in creating your hand rolls and choosing various dishes from the conveyer. It’s just part of the experience!
After waiting around 10 minutes (always queues everywhere, especially on a Saturday), we were seated at the bar, rather than a booth. This meant less space but at least we were in a prime position to get dishes. The staff were even opposite us creating new, fresh dishes and it was great fun watching them too. Ordering hot food didn’t take long at all and I was generally pleased with the efficiency. As I was driving, I stuck to soft drinks and took advantage of Yo!’s unlimited water for £1.10, drinking my weight in sparkling!
What I ate:
I immediately ordered a portion of the spicy pepper squid (145kcal) which is my all-time absolute favourite! It’s cooked to order so always really fresh and the batter, crisp. It’s a great way to begin your meal, unless you’re impatient like me and go straight for the belt. I found this dish a lot hotter than usual, with the surprise addition of tempura chilli! My dad ordered the tempura soft shell crab (181kcal) which was incredible.
While I was waiting for the squid to arrive, I chose the crunchy prawn ISO (126kcal), which consisted of three rolls. The last time I had this dish, I wasn’t sure about it and even still, I can’t work out if I like it or not. The prawns are coated in crispy katsu breadcrumbs, but the dish is cold. I think there are too many textures going on... I’ll stick to spicy chicken or duck & mango ISO next time!
I also picked up the spicy chicken salad (204kcal) which I’d not had for ages, but always used to love. It was exactly the same as I remembered – if anything, not as spicy. It’s a surprisingly filling dish, with large chunks of well-marinated chicken thigh, mixed leaves, julienne carrots and edamame beans, garnished with beansprouts and a soy, ginger & garlic dressing.
Of course I managed to have a dessert and opted for the strawberry cheesecake mochi (185kcal), which is lush! The crumb exterior is really light and then the squidgy filling is way too moreish. The custardy cheesecake flavour is just sweet enough and then you’re hit by the surprise strawberry centre. I just wish there were three or four pieces per serving – especially when you’re paying £4.30.
Even though it was a rushed lunch, it was still enjoyable, with the service being very good – despite the initial queuing. On Sundays, Yo! offer 10 plates for £20, which is a must-try! I reckon I could demolish those quite easily, it’s a shame there’s not a branch near me.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Nails | Ciaté velvet manicure

I love Ciaté’s innovation kits and in the past I’ve tried the caviar manicure and colourfoil kit. I bought the velvet manicure last year but have only just got round to testing it out. I have to admit that I’m the most impatient person in the world and usually want to give up halfway through but that really wasn’t the case with this kit. Of all the variations I’ve tried, this one is definitely the easiest and virtually mess-free. If your impatience has prevented you buying Ciaté’s textured manicure sets, try this one first and then maybe work your way up!
In each box, you receive:
1 x 13.5ml Ciaté polish
1 x 8.5g tube crushed velvet
mini brush
plastic tray
I bought the kit in mink cashmere. The polish came in shade cream soda – a dull grey colour – with the velvet also grey. The mink cashmere kit is only currently available at Selfridges, but you can buy blue suede direct from Ciaté.
Firstly, ensure your nails are totally clean – I recommend wiping each with a little nail polish remover. Using the kit is incredibly simple and instructions are included within the kit.
1. Paint each nail with one coat of the polish provided and leave to dry
2. Work on each nail at a time and a second coat of polish
3. While wet, sprinkle a thick layer of the velvet fibres over the nail, using the plastic tray provided
4. Brush away the excess using the mini brush
5. Repeat stages 2 and 3. Leave to dry for 15 minutes
There’s no need for a top coat (obv) and once dried, the results are incredible. I really could not stop touching my nails, as weird as that sounds... The only downside to this kit is its longevity. I’m not sure how long I was expecting it to last, but after three days, they started to feel abrasive. Obviously it’s difficult to keep them protected when you’re in the shower or washing your hands, but at £14, you’d expect a bit better than that.
I do have to say there is SO much velvet though, so you can always re-paint – once I’d applied the product and tipped the excess back into the tube, barely any of it had gone. 8.5g sounds like very little but it’s great value for money when you consider how many times it can be re-used. I imagine my polish will run out before the velvet. It’s just a shame the effect is short lived.
Have you tried Ciaté’s velvet manicure? What were your thoughts?

Thursday, 6 November 2014

October’s book | I Quit Sugar

Something a little different for bed time reading, but I had heard nothing but good reviews about I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson, so just had to buy it to see what the fuss was about. It’s probably not the best thing to read and attempt with Christmas coming up – but at least it’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions already in place. I want to quit sugar.
To be honest, I really don’t think my consumption is a problem and I began the book with an open mind. But as I read the introduction and background I soon realised, I probably am addicted to sugar and it’s actually worrying the amount we consume on a daily basis. Even when we think about good, natural sugar – at the end of the day, it’s still sugar! I don’t even want to work out my average daily sugar intake; it would be far too terrifying!
The chapters are split into weeks and each week has its own objectives as you embark on your sugar-quitting journey. It’s basically an eight week detox designed to slowly wean you off the white stuff. Sarah’s story was a great insight and almost a motivation for me to try and give it a go – she was a self-confessed sugar addict – and the tips and recipes along the way are most helpful.
After the eight weekly chapters, there’s a guide to all the utensils and equipment you’ll need, as well as helpful tips to get you started. Two important things to remember are say no to wastage and the freezer is your friend. The latter I learnt on a Jamie Oliver programme – it’s amazing what you can freeze and in some cases, it actually makes the produce better for you. It’s not all text either, there are infographics which make understanding the fact and science easier; while there are loads of images of food, which all looks incredible!
The majority of the book is dedicated to recipes – and there are 108 sugar-free offering, organised in a number of categories which range from breakfasts, smoothies and juices, to savoury snacks, desserts and even kids meals. While I believe that most children consume far too much sugar with so much convenience food on the market, I don’t think I’d make my child be totally sugar-free. Those days where fizzy drinks and sweets were issued as treats are long gone... In fact, my parents used to tell my grandparents not to give us sweets – we used to have fresh pears from the garden and greengages from the grocers.
I cannot wait to start this journey and just have a look at a couple of these treats which look divine!
Source: I Quit Sugar
Salted caramel halloumi and apple... mmm!
Source: I Quit Sugar
Raspberry ripple, apparently one of the most popular recipes... it looks lush!
I thoroughly recommend buying this book as it’s a really interesting read. I feel so much more educated regarding my food choices and the fact there’s so many recipes to try out makes this journey more achievable. So here’s to enjoying the next couple of months, but to a sugar-free New Year – to being happy and ultimately, more healthy!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

October favourites

This month, I’ve been
WEARING  Cosy jumpers
Oh my gosh, how cold is it getting?! I really hate going to work and coming home when it’s pitch black too, and it’s only gonna get worse! You can’t beat a cosy weekend in, all snuggled up in a cosy knit and I think that’s how I’ll be spending all my free weekends from now until the New Year. If only I could hibernate and resurface when it’s at least 20 degrees!
TESTING  Maddi Alexander rose pillow spray
I received this product in the Latest in Beauty Maddi Alexander Rose Limited Edition box – full of rose scented bath and pamper products. This 50ml spray has been designed to help unwind, relax and encourage a good night’s sleep. I’ve using the product every other night and while the smell isn’t as long-lasting as I’d hoped, it is really calming. I feel ready to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and I’ve found my slumber pattern has improved. If anyone knows of a similar product, please let me know!
SMELLING  Snow Fairy
Who cares that it’s only just turned November, my obsession for Snow Fairy began nearly two months ago! I love the bright pink colour, the fairy dust glitter and most of all, the sickly sweet scent of bubblegum and pear drops – it’s gorge. I bought two 500g bottles recently but I know I’ll definitely be buying loads more before Christmas... I love to stock up so that I can use it all year round! I’m loving Candy Mountain and Magic Wand this year too.
EATING  Ryvita thins
As soon as it turns cold, it becomes soup season and I end up having soup every lunch time at work (note to self, make some carrot and coriander... mmm!). I try not to eat bread and I don’t know how anyone can eat the original Ryvita crackers – they are so much like cardboard, it’s unreal. Ryvita Thins have become my favourite things to snack on, they’re so light and crisp. The cheese and black pepper ones are lush but I’m yet to try the sweet chilli, so hoping they’re as nice. Roughly 30kcal per slice, btw...
LOVING  Bourjois cream blush
Ever since I switched from powder to cream blush, I’ve not wanted to go back and I’ve this product to be a complete revelation. I thoroughly recommend it if you’re wanting to try a cream blush or if you’re on the hunt for a brand different from your norm. Even though it is a cream blush, the formula turns to powder once it’s applied, but it’s not grainy and so much easier to blend. I currently have shades 02 (healthy glow) and 03 (rose tender) in my makeup bag and love both!
LUSTING  Shearling jacket
I’ve wanted a shearling jacket for as long as I can remember – it was only last autumn I finally bought a pair of shearling boots. I just think they look so cool, I love leather-look exteriors, with the fluffy warmth of fur/wool inside. They really are perfect for winter. I actually ordered one from House of Fraser, but it didn’t fit so please please let me know where I can buy one.
What were you loving in October?

Monday, 3 November 2014

Afternoon tea | The Sanderson

A fortnight ago, Vicky and I went for afternoon tea at The Sanderson, Oxford Street. You will all know by now how much I love going for afternoon tea and I hadn’t been to The Sanderson before – Vicky had (you can read her post, here) and had thoroughly recommended it and I’m urging you guys to go if you get the chance, it truly is unique.
Guests are invited to the tumble down the rabbit hole and enjoy the wonderful world of tea – with an Alice in Wonderland themed, Mad Hatters tea party. The photos really don’t do the experience justice and it’s worth every penny – £38pp, £48pp with Champagne or £58pp with Pink Champagne. I know I will definitely be returning.
Upon arrival, we walked through the foyer and cocktail bar (very nice and perfect for pre-dinner drinks... the cocktails – from what I saw – looked divine), before reaching the terrace, where we were sat. Even though it’s technically outside and it was October, there are ample patio heaters meaning, if anything, you’re too hot.
The table was decorated perfectly, with bespoke crockery depicting magical birdcages, zebras and other imaginative ideas; sugar cubes were kept in an old wind-up jewellery box, complete with jingle and pirouetting ballerina; the menu was placed in the middle of an antique novel (I can’t remember the name of our one) and the napkin rings even had riddles printed on them. Mine was:
A box without hinges, lock or key. Yet a golden treasure lies within.
Do you know what it is? I certainly didn’t.
The waiter brought over the selection of fantasy teas, the loose leaves in glass bottles with ribbons explaining which each was – a great way to find out which we’d like. I knew I wouldn’t like the rhubarb & custard, while mint choc chip smelt lovely but I didn’t think it’d be right in tea form. I do like fruity teas so the strawberries & cream would have been lush, I’m sure – but I went for something different in the apple pie. It really reminded me of the classic dessert, even by the smell; there was so much cinnamon, it was a real winter warmer. There were also traditional teas and coffees on offer and we even opted for a flute of Champagne.
The three-tier stand soon followed, along with our pots of tea, which were adorned with the faces of kings! We started off with the sandwiches, which looked like colourful mini rolls. As always, there were four varieties to sample, which were: smoked Cumbrian ham with wholegrain mustard on sun-dried tomato bread, cucumber & chive cream cheese on spinach bread, cold smoked salmon & lemon butter on dark rye bread and finally an egg mayonnaise with watercress & smoked sea salt on lemon bread. My favourites were the salmon and the ham – the sun-dried tomato bread was just amazing. We even ordered more sandwiches, although Vicky didn’t like the salmon and I didn’t like the egg.
The daily quiche was cheese, mushroom & spinach, so obviously I didn’t eat that. I didn’t have the savoury scone either, which was a black olive scone – so moved onto the sweet treats which were all too good to eat.
First I tucked in to the sweet scone (sultana and cinnamon), which I ate with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam. The scone was light in texture and smaller than the norm, I think I could have eaten two or three of those.
The next tier had three delicious imaginative creations and I started off with the tick tock Victoria sponge – layers of sponge between vanilla cream and raspberry jam, topped with raspberry and decorated with a white chocolate clock face. That was my favourite until I tucked into the matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse in a dark chocolate tea cup. The mousse was heavenly, really silky with the addition of chocolate coated popping candy which was a real surprise. I finished with the melting mango cheesecake in white chocolate boat. Even for me, it was far too sickly sweet and I couldn’t manage any more than a couple of mouthfuls. The base was good though – a mix between chocolate sponge and biscuit!
On the top tier, we had three strawberry & cream marshmallow mushrooms, which looked a lot better than they tasted – for me there was a real lack of strawberry. The centrepiece was pretty spectacular: a plant pot filled with edible pea shoots and mini meringue carrots – they were just the cutest and I wish there was more than one each in the pot. So imaginative.
There was also something called ‘Jelly Wonderland’ on the menu but we were so full we didn’t see what that was about – there’s always next time, I guess! We did however finish our magical experience with the ‘drink me’ potion: a small glass bottle with a trio of layers. I was very much in wonderland as I sipped the passion fruit jelly, coconut panna cotta and mango coulis. The perfect blend of sweet and sour and the perfect finale to our whimsical afternoon.