30 March 2014

five a day

Did I just entice you onto my blog with a bowl of salad? You're welcome. What a great way to end a weekend full of sunshine eh! Remember my post live fresh? I'll be honest, it's been a rocky road since I pledged to live fresh. January is a funny month because I [like many I'm sure] get super excited about all these new things I'm going to try and do in the coming year. It's now March and although I have tried to eat fresh as much as I can, I still get tempted to the dark [mainly chocolatey] side. Lucky for me the sun came out in full blast this weekend which means more of the above vegetable-delight because it's light, it's refreshing and it usually goes well with a bbq.

baby gem lettuce, red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions & flat leaf parsley [salad]
virgin olive oil, modena balsamic vinegar, half a lime juice & a pinch of salt [dressing]

Excuse the crisps, but overall it's been a relatively healthy weekend packed with lots of dancing, salads and fruit fiestas. +Asad got excited about having a bbq but luckily it was still quite cold outside so I got to stay indoors [woohoo]. Instead, I decided to make some reggae reggae roast chicken with some cous cous to go with that salad, and we spent the afternoon snacking on all sorts. He had also found some absolutely delicious baba ghanoush from +Sainsbury's which we demolished in about ten minutes. And for dessert, there was lemon tart and I was also excited about my new recent find - this Fabulously Free of Melon Salad! from the legendary +M&S. Finally, a convenient fruit salad I can eat - yeeey!

All in all, looks like Live Fresh might just happen after all…


P.S. Today was Mother's Day in the UK so am wishing all of the mummys out there a very happy mother's day! Look mum, I'm eating all my fruit and vegetables :D

26 March 2014


Seriously. Let's just take a moment and fully absorb the beauty that is the recent collaboration between Topshop x Adidas Originals. Almost too much for me to handle. I have a massive crush on this range - it's bright, it's fun, it's comfortable. All my favourite things rolled into one. WISH LIST TiiiME.

printed vest, green [ £26 ]
print sweatshirt, black & grey [ £55 ]
football tee, orange [ £30 ]


23 March 2014

fluo flower power

collaboration | h&m x versace

Oh how I love a good high street collaboration. This one's actually a bit of a throwback collaboration, when H&M decided to team up with the good people at Versace. At the time, my dedicated and fashion-obsessed friend Lara had decided to queue up at ridiculous-o'clock to get her hands on some of the pieces. She then kindly offered to pick up a couple of things for me too [I'm so spoilt]. She managed to get me these amazing pair of fluo floral leggings. They are pretty loud and to be honest I was waiting for the right occasion to feel brave enough to take them out for a proper spin. Today seemed like as good a day as any. Call this my H&M spring look, thanks to my flamboyant Versace flora covered legs.

top [zara]
jumper & rings, right-hand [h&m]
leggings [h&m x versace]
trainers [nike]
sunglasses [rayban]
silver ring, left-hand [saharan arts]

Also, this jumper. I have seen it everywhere for the last six months and I have wanted it and the time has finally come for me to own my very own one. It is super soft, cosy as and makes me feel huggable like a bear. There seems to be all sorts of colours available now, including some really cute ones in this spring's pastel shades, but I opted for my go-to black because I want to wear it with E V E R Y T H I N G please.

Jewellery has been minimal these last few months but when I do wear, my go-tos are usually rings. These three gems [again, thank you H&M] are in my go-to colours and look great worn together for both a casual or dressed up look. Can't go anywhere without them at the moment.

location | Gitane London

I wanted to take Diane to the Riding House Cafe near Oxford Circus for a coffee but we were turned away [always remember to book ahead for this place, it's worth it]. So, we decided to just go to wherever had a spare table nearby and ended up in Gitane. A new small café based on modern middle eastern and persian cuisine. Diane had salmon with rice and salad and I had a spicy pepper pasta salad and cherry tart for dessert. The food was good, my salad definitely had a kick I won't forget, and staff were friendly. More chilled than buzzy and had cute details inside. I thought their sugar bowls were so adorable.

Post-food, I left Diane with my camera for a little bit and she ended up getting arty. When I came back to the table she said "I took some photos of some empty plates" nonchalantly. Not sure what I was expecting but think they turned out pretty well, especially given she was only taking pictures of empty plates... [the above two photos are hers]

There were subtle but perfect touches in Gitane, including a little Easter / Spring corner with blooming flowers, cute chocolate mini eggs and other tasty treats. There was also an area dedicated to their speciality teas and the kitchen was hidden behind a beautifully decorated door at the back of the restaurant. They also have a loyalty card so if you like what they offer, get involved.

nails | silver bullet & black cab (+rimmellondon) and red (colour show, +Maybelline UK)

I haven't been on-form nail art wise in recent weeks and am genuinely ashamed of showing you all the plain and cracked nail work that accompanied me out today. I was so embarrassed that I decided I had to do something about it [finally]. I was just playing around and without even thinking, I ended up with a half flower monochrome motif which would have gone perfectly with my outfit today. Oh well, at least the rest of the week's outfits will get to enjoy this design. Hope you like them too!


london | photos [of me & tables] by +Diane Talabi

10 March 2014

sunny spring

This weekend marked International Women's Day. After spending the actual day with boys [and as lovely as they are], it was only right that I spent the next day celebrating [and chilling] with one of my favourite lady-rocks: miss Diane. Our catch up involved the usual good food, giggles and chatting about life, the universe and everything. Though it's always fun to hang out, I think it's important to sometimes take the time out to recognise achievements, get grounded and get organised for the next challenge. I feel pretty fortunate that I have some very strong women role models in my life and this weekend my thanks go out to all of them. If you don't know who you are, I'm sure I'll remind you at some point ;-)

coat [Zara]
jumper [Esprit]
jeans & shoes [Topshop] 
scarf [H&M x Versace]
bag [handmade from Madagascar]

For our little date, Diane suggested heading over to The Table Café. After reading a couple of reviews,  we decided to try and head over relatively early given the pre-warnings of long queues. We arrived just after half eleven and it was super well timed because soon after the queue was up the street! Neither of us are that patient so an ideal situation. We sat amongst one of many groups of dinners on either side of a long, large wooden table. Almost canteen style. It was pretty buzzy [Diane wasn't sure she liked how busy it was but I quite enjoyed the atmosphere]. Despite being down on staff, service was prompt and friendly. It was a lovely space to eat in, airy and modern, with a comprehensive brunch menu serving your standard savouries [full breakfasts], sweets [pancakes & waffles] and a wide variety of brunch drinks [coffees, teas, smoothies, milkshakes and even cocktails]. From what I could see on the plates that wafted past me, everything looked tasty. I chose the house speciality dish of sweetcorn fritters which was delicious, a little too big for me but yummy all the same. Another good test is the milkshakes - genuinely one of the best I've had, creamy yet light and hit just the right spot.

i had | sweetcorn fritter & poached eggs, vanilla milkshake and a latte
diane had | eggs royale, morning glory smoothie and a cappuccino

Post brunch, it only seemed right that we had a little wander especially as the sky was bright blue, cloudless and the sun was shinning. The warmest day so far this year apparently and London looked amazing. We walked past the Tate Modern, along the Millennium Bridge and made our way over to the One New Change shopping and office complex next door to St Paul's Cathedral. This strip of London is one of my favourite places to walk around, especially on a beautiful day like yesterday. It's one I usually either recommend or take visitors to as I think it gives a great view of the city. Although I've lived in London most of my life, I still find myself discovering new places which is always fun. Diane works in the city so was like my little guide, taking me to One New Change which I hadn't been to before. On a day when Londoners and tourists were swarming the streets [understandably so], One New Change was a welcome break from the masses - it was quiet, cool and a great place to do some afternoon retail therapy. All in all, a great little day. Now, let's just hope the sun stays!


london | photos [of me] by +Diane Talabi

3 March 2014

craft beer here

event | Craft Beer Rising
location | Old Truman Brewery, E1 6QR
post also featured on tikichris.com

Last Sunday, I offered to drop in to a festival I had never heard of before: Craft Beer Rising. Those of you with a penchant for beer may already be familiar with this event, unlike me: a complete novice and not the biggest beer fan. Great start. In order to make sure I wasn't immediately turned away at the door, I brought along my buddy +Asad for some beer street creds.

Located on Brick Lane and surrounded by some amazing-smelling food markets on a bright sunny day, initially it was difficult for me to focus on getting my beer on. As soon as we entered the venue, the brewery smell hit me and I thought this must be what beer-heaven smells like, hehe. We were greeted by some very cheery folks who showed us to the main desk where we could get tokens. We exchanged cash for play money and off we went to investigate the 60 or so stalls of breweries.

[1] Bohemian Brew's coffee-y, fruity and biscuity beers
[2] This-a-way: keeping us focused on Destination Beer

[1] Craft Beer Rising play money, way more fun than the real deal
[2] Shot-sized tasters of Bohemian Brews' concoctions, (clockwise from left) coffee, orange & choccy biscuit

There was no real starting point so we just decided to dive in and start browsing and tasting. Soon enough we got into the swing of it and it was really fun, even for a beer amateur! The first few stalls we tried weren't to our taste. I was sticking to the blondes as anything stronger would have made me sad. Asad suggested I focus on pale ales so that became by buzzword at every stall :D Eventually, I managed to bag myself a 1/3 pint [yep, I went big] of something delicious from Hells Yeah! of Camden Town Brewery. A light, citrusy beer that made for a good start.

We then moved to the Batemans Bohemian Brews stall where I decided to get adventurous. This fun team believe that brewing beer is similar to making biscuits, as they use the same ingredients. I forget now how exactly but I'm sure their website can explain in more detail. We tried three of their creations: Mocha Amaretto, Orange Barley & [the brand new] Winter Chocolate Biscuit. The first two were too strong for me but I quite liked the choccy biscuit one - an unexpected combination but nice surprise at how well it worked, coming soon to a town near you.

[1] Grub Corner hosted by a lovely looking fräulein
[2] My Hix's Fishdog with minty mushy peas and ketchup yuuuuummmmmy

With 60-ish stalls to try beers from, it can soon become quite dangerous. Especially when tasters are served in shot-sized cups. Lucky for us, this wasn't just a beer festival as it's complimented by some delicious food stalls serving the perfect accompaniments: saucisson sec, bratwurst, pork pies, burgers and what I ended up opting for: the Fishdog by Hix's. One of my favourite food discoveries this year. I can hear some of your brains thinking "but isn't that just a fish finger in a hotdog bun?". Well my friends, this is no meer fish finger sandwich snack we would usually tuck into on a rainy afternoon. Imagine the flakiest white fish you could get in a good Fish & Chip shop, make it giant fish finger shaped and Tuck In. It's surrounded by sweet, minty mushy peas of the perfect consistency and I topped with some ketchup. Bea-u-ti-full.

[1] Burger Bear: giving you burger hugs in amidst all the beer-haze
[2] Burger making tekkers by Burger Bear

The amazing food didn't stop there. Asad then decided he fancied some chips so we headed over to Burger Bear [the best name; I can just imagine a big burger giving me a giant bear hug]. But oh no, they had sold out of chips. It's OK though, the awesome guys at Burger Bear decided to give Asad a signature burger for the same price as chips. Winning. I then genuinely lost Asad for about 15 minutes. Not physically, but he was so into that burger I think everything around him just disappeared. It was just him and the burger bear burger; I hadn't been invited to the party.

[1] Glaswegian Heart, German Head
[2] Green King's ace bottles of brew, inside and out

Post-food, we tried out some more beer. It was great meeting such a variety of brewers, from those relatively new to the game to the seasoned pros. Other highlights for us were WEST brewery and Greene King. I was particularly drawn to the Greene King stall because of the colourful bottles and quickly discovered that their speciality beers were pretty good too. I first tried their Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, which Asad and I both later bought, and then went onto their specialities: Yardbird, Double Hop Monster & St Edmunds. This was definitely one of my favourite stalls, the beers were accessible (plus not too strong) and had a little interesting twist.

[1] Label Love: admiring beers with the full package
[2] Getting Educated: the lovely team and offerings from the famous Truman's brewery

Outside of the tastings, it was just fun looking at all the different labels. There was a particular stall, I think manned by the Duvel team which had the best bottle labels. They looked like they could belong in an art gallery or something, and had a little retro-touch which I'm always a sucker for.

Craft Beer Rising is also a great opportunity to discover and learn, even if you go in not knowing anything about beer. Another favourite stall was Truman's, the venue's own reps who were really friendly and super knowledgeable. I learnt about and tried Truman's London Keeper, while pushing my pale ale limits to the max. For most, beer is just something you drink casually in a pub or bar or with a tasty take-away. However, this particular bottle was pretty special. More like wine, you will appreciate it more if it's sipped alongside a good cheese board or even christmas pudding. Only 2,000 bottles of Truman's London Keeper were made, each bottle has been hand signed and finished in ivory wax; and like wine, it's meant to improve and develop over time [for up to a decade to be precise]. Me equals lucky girl to have tried it.

[1] Picking up a blue-top from the friendly team at Old Dairy brewery
[2] Funk and Brew: having fun ending the event with the legend that is Mr Scruff

Oh, and to top it all off - Mr Scruff was DJing as the backdrop to this great event. Normally I would have enjoyed with a cup of tea but beer was a good second on this occasion. Post quickly picking up a blue-top from the team at the Old Dairy stall, Asad and I decided to have a little dance with the crowd. It was pretty surreal but amazing. After a super funky set, the evening ended with the crowd singing along to a brass-band version of Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye. It was epic, and a perfect way to end a really fun day.

Special thanks to +Chris of tikichris.com for letting me be him for this treat, the cheery and extremely friendly folks of Craft Beer Rising, and +Asad for being a super beer-hopping buddy!

Make sure you check it out next year.