30 May 2014

three stripes

N A I L E X P E R I M E N T S ||

If you're a kicks fanatic like me, you will know that three stripes refers to the iconic Adidas brand. I'm not particularly brand-biased when it comes to trainers. Ultimately, it's whatever catches my eye, feels comfortable and doesn't cost a fortune [though if I did have a fortune, I would definitely start that dream collection, ha]. However, there are three classics I'm regularly drawn to: Vans, Puma & Adidas. They tend to create clean cut, good colour mix and comfy kicks. So when I was at London Designer Outlet with +Diane last weekend and saw these +adidas City Marathon trainers in Legend Ink & Ray Yellow, I fell mad over heels. Then when I saw the bargain discount [-52%], there was no going back. Then, I found this skirt in +H&M and an instant outfit was born in one afternoon. Theme: black, white & yellow. Power colours if you ask me. Best purchase this year so far. I have fallen so hard for my new kicks that this week's nails have been inspired by the +adidas three stripes.

Happy Friday!

Read on to find out how I did this week's nails…

Step-by-Step || if you feel like having a go too

1. apply your base background [ocean blue by +Maybelline UK Colour Show]

2. add a single thick yellow stripe down the middle of each nail [electric yellow by +Maybelline UK]
3. you may need to do a double coat of the yellow given the dark background [as above]
4. add a single thinner white stripe down the middle of each nail [matt white by Barry M]

And, voilà!

So simple right?

28 May 2014

strawberry and milk

D I S H Y #6 ||

Imagine a strawberry milkshake but deconstructed, with sweet juicy strawberries and yummy cake on the side all sprinkled with almonds. That was my epic dessert at Plum + Spilt Milk in Kings Cross this weekend. The name of this week's dishy is actually strawberry and almond cake w/ milk ice cream, my second course choice on the Gourmet Express Set Menu. This is not one of those places I can visit on a regular basis [unless money grew on palm trees under a rainbow of unicorns] but as it was a bank holiday weekend and I was in the company of the lovely sisters Emilia & Cati, it just felt right. I haven't even shown you pictures of the restaurant itself but based on the black shiny table and fine crockery, I'm sure you can tell immediately that this place has a special little something. The food tastes it too. At £21 for 2 courses [with à la carte mains averaging £25 / £30 each], I think this is a massive bargain and worth every penny. Super delicious and a real treat!


26 May 2014

print africa

S T Y L E || african print waistcoat

As soon as I saw this little print number at The African Market at Old Spitalfields Market, I was hooked. The pattern [big leaves] and the colours [blue and orange] are fantastic. Then, what really sold me was how versatile one piece of cloth was - ultimately it's a waistcoat but it can be tied up and styled in lots of different ways. These are just the two basic options [open and closed] but I'm sure you get the idea. As the print is so distinct and I wanted to show the waistcoat off properly, I tried to wear something simple underneath so as not to distract too much. I'm looking forward to experimenting more with this one though for sure.

blue & orange print waistcoat [the african market]
vest [uniqlo]
trousers [zara]
espadrilles [sole]
coat & sunglasses [topshop]
rings & bracelets [accessorize]

Hope you all had a great long weekend!

[ Diane's cute outfit ]

W H E R E || Wembley, London

I had never heard of the London Designer Outlet until a couple of weeks ago. I also [naively] didn't really know what an outlet is. After Diane's explanation and as soon as I realised all prices had been discounted in every shop, I decided that outlets are a magical place of bargains. For this little trip, we knew what were looking for but didn't mind browsing either. I ended up with a couple of skirts from H&M and some trainers from Adidas for super bargain prices [one of the skirts was £2]! Woop.

F O O D || Ping Pong

We got a little peckish mid bargain hunting so stopped in Ping Pong for an hour or so. I had some steamed & fried veg / prawn dumplings and vegetable sticky rice. Diane had a wonton soup, sticky chicken rice and some broccoli. I think we both agree that Ping Pong is generally OK but not amazing. Some of the dishes are a little bland while others are quite tasty. A good stopover for a quick bite to eat nonetheless.


23 May 2014

good grapes

N A I L E X P E R I M E N T S ||

This week's nails have been inspired by a vineyard I was helping to de-weed last week as part of a volunteering project with work. They were requested and this time I was relieved I wouldn't have to work out a super complicated design. I went for something nice and simple: two colours and this is the result.

Feel like having a go at my experiments with me? I've recently started adding a quick guide, read on!

Step-by-Step || if you feel like having a go too

1. apply your base background [mint by Barry M]
2. add a horizontal stripe at the bottom of each of your nails [teal by Barry M]
3. add a vertical line onto the middle of each of the horizontal lines to form a T-shape [teal by Barry M]

4. add in your bunches of grapes by doing a 3-2-1 row of dots [pulsating by Rimmel 60 Seconds]

And, voilà!

I N S P I R E D _ B Y || Forty Hall

Every year, the company I work for encourages us to spend one day out of the office to help support a community project. This year the options were to help on a farm, run a community games tournament and interview coaching at a local school. Given I spend most of my working days indoors, I usually opt for the outdoor activity and just hope the weather is going to be great [you can do it London].

I decided to go back to Forty Hall Farm in Enfield. Last year, I volunteered there helping the team with their community organic vineyard de-weeding to help the new vines grow and helping to build a path for their newly formed orchard. This year, I ended up helping in the vineyard again [de-weeding to make sure our growing vines are able to get the water and nourishment they need] and helping to build raised beds for Forty Hall's new market garden. I learnt how to drill for the first time and love it.

Forty Hall Farm is a not-for-profit social enterprise which means they rely on volunteers to keep their projects going. The aim for all of their projects is to help teach local volunteers and young people new skills - anything from growing vegetables to marketing their future veg boxes to learning all about wine making. Eventually their lovely local produce is sold to fellow Londoners, hopefully helping to grow the projects even more.

As usual, I had to take a few snaps because Forty Hall [farm and surroundings] is a beautiful place. Even more so when the sun is shinning! Enjoy.

[ Forty Hall Café and friends ]

[ The Salad Garden & Herb House ]

[ The Orchard, Playground & Wild Walled Garden ]

21 May 2014

beagle's aubergine

D I S H Y #5 ||

No, this isn't an aubergine that belongs to a specific breed of dog. It's actually a grilled aubergine that belonged to me a few weeks ago under Hoxton station. That also sounds weird but I promise it isn't. In a pretty unexpected space [literally under the railway, left out of Hoxton overground station] is the restaurant Beagle London. After an afternoon of flower exploring and shopping [like Emilia and I did here], this seemed as good a place as any to have some lunch. You'd think it would be super noisy, cramped and maybe even a bit dark but it's actually the opposite. The interior design and high ceilings make it feel like you're in a light, airy penthouse restaurant in NYC or something. It's also conveniently placed for rolling back home after getting full up on a delicious meal. This week's dishy therefore goes out to Beagle's grilled aubergine with a chickpea salsa and crème fraîche (v). For anyone who's not sure whether London does vegetarian food well, this is proof number one. Their brunch menu looked pretty delicious too and the word on the street is they make a mean bloody mary too, enjoy!


17 May 2014

back to basics

F O O D || how-to, italian style

where || Cookery School, Little Portland Street

This week I had the absolute pleasure of spending an evening with fellow foodies, learning how to make a simple but indulgent Italian feast at London's Cookery School. I love to cook. However, I wouldn't say I was the best at it. Apart from the odd tips from mum and friends, I've always wanted to take time out learning how to properly do things in the kitchen. So when the opportunity came knocking at my door I knew I couldn't say no! I had an absolutely fantastic evening and will get mushy at the end of this post with thank yous, but first read on to see what we got up to...

learning from the professionals ||

Led by the heart-warming and charismatic principal / head chef Rosalind, we were introduced to the Cookery School philosophy: simple, modern, sustainable and fun ways to cook at home. Rosalind's aim is to demystify how to cook the proper way and believes in being as eco as possible in every aspect of her kitchen. For example, the team haven't used plastic in their kitchens for years so have had to experiment with new ways of cooking and storing. Quality is key: the team try to use ingredients from sustainable sources and try to only cook with produce that is in season. There is a lot of thought put behind which suppliers they use and work with. The chocolate they buy is from a company called Original Beans which plants a tree for every bar of chocolate sold. Keep it simple: You'll notice that we used very few ingredients to make this meal because Rosalind believes that less is definitely more. Following this meal, I would 100% agree. It showcases the ingredients better and rather than running around [and potentially failing at] making a complicated dish, it is a lot less stressful!

kitted out ||

On the menu: fresh pasta with asparagus and garlic flowers and for dessert tiramisu. First, Rosalind and John demonstrated how to make the basics of our meal: tagliatelle and biscuits. Making fresh pasta is actually really simple, it just involves plain flour, semolina flour, eggs and a pasta machine [need to invest in one of these!]. The biscuits for the tiramisu were also equally simple, this involved eggs, cake flour and sugar. That's it. There I was thinking we'd have to remember lots. It is so straight-forward that they do the same classes with kids [who get it] - no excuses then! After the demonstration, Rosalind's team then got us prepared to get our cook on. We got into teams of six and were kitted out with all of the equipment, [all measured out] ingredients and recipes needed.

the pasta ||

The dough we used had been made that morning [needed time to do its magic]. We divided our dough into quarters and started feeding into the pasta machine. You start off with the thickest setting and as the dough gets smoother you increase the setting to make it thinner. The thinner the dough, the better the pasta [Masterchef doesn't lie]. If the pasta gets sticky, you add a little semolina. As the dough extends, you may need a partner in crime to help hold it. We were taught to try and use the back of our hands as this is cooler [so less of a sticky situation]. Once it's thin enough, you then cut into manageable strips with a pizza cutter. Finally, you feed these pieces one by one through the tagliatelle setting on the pasta machine. Strands are kept separate by adding a little more semolina into the mixture. I was not great at pasta making, but some of my team were instant pros. Emily found it really therapeutic too!

the sauce ||

Our pasta sauce was made up of three ingredients: asparagus, garlic and olive oil. First, we cut of the asparagus heads and sliced the stalks lengthways to imitate tagliatelle slithers. Then, the garlic leaves [which are beautiful and super fragrant] and cloves were finely chopped. We put some oil in a pan and added the diced garlic cloves [EXPERT TIP - always add garlic in when the oil is cold, it has a high sugar content so will burn very quickly and become bitter if added to hot oil]. Once the oil starts bubbling a little, add the asparagus [these take a little longer to soften vs. the garlic leaves]. Then add your garlic leaves and flowers and after a minute or so the room will smell delicious. In this time, get your pasta on - it will only take a couple of minutes.

the tiramisu || 

If you hate cream, don't read on. If you love cream, this is the one. Whisk up some mascarpone cream and your egg yolks. Then, gently fold in your [separately] whisked double cream and [separately] whisked stiff egg whites and caster sugar. Once mixed together, add in the Marsala. This is your delicious cream layer. Add this into the bottom of your bowl, then get your freshly made biscuits and dip into an expresso and rum mixture. This last bit literally takes a second on each side, any more and your biscuits will crumble. Add the espresso-soaked biscuits onto the cream and get to layering - meaning, repeat please. Until it's full to the brim. Then, sprinkle some cocoa powder onto your last layer of cream. Done. EAT IMMEDIATELY. I'm joking [a little]. You'll then need to put this beauty in the fridge for at least 6 hours to set and let those flavours blend. You will notice however that unlike the majority of my team, I decided to unintentionally go cream-heavy. It was worth it.

thank yous ||

As soon as everything was made, Rosalind's team quickly cleared away all of our mess and created a long dining table. We were then served our creations restaurant-style with the addition of a side salad and after dinner coffee with chocolate nut clusters. It was such a treat and I have to say the food smelt and tasted fantastic. Maybe even more so because we'd put the work into it. It was such a fantastic experience. I would like to say a massive thank you to +Chris Osburn of Tikichris.com for inviting me along and to the team at Cookery School for being great teachers, particularly Rosalind who genuinely made my evening. Learning how to cook in a proper kitchen can be intimidating and scary - Rosalind made me feel instantly comfortable and excited to go back for more. Last but not least, thank you to my fellow team mates - a biscuit-stealing-finger-tasting-even-though-it-was-banned bunch - for the giggles.

A great experience that I would highly recommend. I'll be going back for the bread making course when it's back up if anyone fancies joining!

course prices || single classes av. £100, courses av. £500, Cook's Certificate £6k
closest tube || Oxford Circus
more information: www.cookeryschool.co.uk