Monday, 23 September 2013

Autumn Accessories

Apart from the random freak heatwave that hit this weekend, it's safe to say Autumn has arrived! The streets are paved with golden leaves, the days are getting shorter and there's a definite chill in the air. Autumn is my favourite fashion season; I love the colour palette and the endless layering options that the colder weather provides.

Primark coat £25 // New Look boots £29.99 & bag £24.99 // River Island leather look jeans (old) // Dorothy Perkins blouse £28 // Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses 

I kept the chill out of this simple leather trousers & white shirt combo by throwing on my Primark trench. I picked it up a couple of months ago but am only really getting the good of it now. I love the contrast of the black faux leather against the basic cream coat and the quilted effect gives it more of a luxe edge. Making it look more Zara than Primark! Burberry experimented with different textures for their classic trenches this AW and the people at Primark were obviously paying attention.


Now onto accessories. Oxblood was a huge trend last year and it looks like isn't going anywhere soon. I'm not sure if the "fash pack" are still using the oxblood term but the shops are filled with the deep red, burgundy colour. It's the perfect tone for Fall; it looks great against the Autumnal palette of orange, yellow and golden brown. I'd spotted this bag and boots when I bought a pair of trousers in New Look and ended up going back for them the next day. Accessories are an easy way to add a seasonal update and a splash of colour to a monochrome outfit.


It's the details that caught my eye on these accessories. The 3 buckles on the side of the boots, the gold coloured metal hardware and zip trim on the bag; small details that make them appear more expensive than they actually are. The tote bag is also available in tan or navy but the red stands out for me. 


How are you updating your wardrobe for the new season?

Christy xx

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Clean & Lean Pancakes

For my birthday this year, my Mum gave me James Duigan's Clean & Lean Diet book. It's filled with information about nutrition, and has helped me to understand what my body does (or doesn't) need to keep up a clean and healthy lifestyle. I have to admit I haven't been too good at it lately, all my willpower seems to have disappeared and I just want chocolate and peanut butter ice cream all the time. The book actually has some sweet treat recipes in it, and one of my favourites is the Clean & Lean pancakes.


You only need 4 ingredients for the pancake batter

  • 100g organic oats
  • 200g cottage cheese
  • 4 free-range organic eggs
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon


All you have to do is chuck all the ingredients in a blender & whizz them up until smooth. Then pour 1/4 the batter onto a frying pan and cook each side for 2-3mins. Repeat until you've used up all the mixture, obviously. The recipe will make 4 medium sized pancakes.


While your pancakes are cooking you can prepare your toppings. I like to keep it healthy with Fage Total 0% greek yoghurt and lots of berries. I've also been know to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich with them. You can use any toppings you like but I'd make sure it's something sweet, otherwise the cottage cheese is all you taste. Agave nectar is a pretty good natural sweetener to disguise the cheesy taste!


Each pancake contains approximately 17.2g carbs, 16.7g protein and only 7.6g fat. They should look like this when they're ready...


This recipe comes under the breakfast section in James Duigan's book, but it does take a bit of time (well, half an hour tops). I don't know about you but I don't really have a spare half an hour in the morning when I'm rushing to get ready for work! The pancakes have become my go to for breakfast/brunch on my days off when I have more time. You'll probably only manage to eat 2 at a time so you can always keep the rest for a quick breakfast the next day!

Stack them up, grab a cup of tea and your favourite magazine, et voila! The perfect way to spend a Sunday morning if you ask me.


What toppings would you choose?

Christy xx

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Devil Wears Prada

I spent my last Saturday off shopping for gym clothes and lunching at 99 with Gordon; I know, my pulled pork burger definitely defeats the purpose of the gym clothes! Anyway, I wanted to share my outfit.


This Topshop dress has been everywhere. You've probably seen it on a million blogs already (I know I have!) and are possibly even bored of it by now but, in the words of Icona Pop, "I don't care, I love it"! The Carrie Bradshaw references are rife but that's because it really is the ultimate Carrie dress. If she were a real person, she'd have it hanging in her beautiful walk in wardrobe right next to that iconic pink skirt. I have a penchant for tulle myself (I blogged about my favourite pink skirt here and recently added this Boohoo beauty to my collection) so I couldn't resist this. With birthday vouchers from my sister ready and waiting, how could I? Thanks Laura!


The dress is so easy to wear; I went for a casual lunch look by throwing on my old biker jacket and my favourite Topshop flats, with a simple Marc by Marc Jacobs bangle and skull pendant for accessories. The grey tulle adds a touch of glamour and excitement to an otherwise mundane outfit. I think that's what makes the dress so popular. The casual spaghetti strap top half keeps it casual, so you can get away with wearing it any old day but still feel a little bit special with the tulle floating behind you as you stroll down the street. Or do that little prancey running-in-heels thing Carrie does to cross the road. Even if you are only nipping to the Co-op for a pint of milk! I also wore this dress in London where I went casual again but with a denim jacket, statement necklace and sandals. It may only be a £30 dress but it didn't feel out of place on Sloane Street!

Now, onto something even more special. Let me introduce you to my pride and joy, in the words of Carrie Bradshaw herself...


HELLO, LOVER! After over a year of saving, this little beauty has finally made it's way into my wardrobe! I first spotted it on The Londoner (where Rosie seems to have it in every colour, lucky bitch!) and fell in love with it's chic simplicity. It's a classic; soft black leather with gold hardware, something that will never go out of style. If I'm going to spend a fortune on a bag, I want something I will use forever, and then pass onto my children! Don't get me wrong, I love a Charlotte Olympia Ted or Lulu Guinness lips, but eventually I'll grow out of them. But not the Prada saffiano tote; it adds a touch of class to any outfit and is here to stay! It has 2 zip compartments, another large one in the middle (plenty space for all my crap!) and a detachable shoulder strap. I've drooled over it in 5 different countries while I saved up, and still love it just as much now as when I first decided I wanted needed it. I kept £200 of my wages every month, all my birthday and Christmas money, collected £2 coins and put £1 in a jar every time I worked out. A few times I had reached the target and then chickened out, deciding it was better spent on holidays. But finally, I decided to go for it and headed to Prada in London to purchase the love of my life. It was the scariest moment of my life handing over my card knowing that all my hard earned money would be gone within minutes, but it was worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than walking around with a beautiful, leather bag on your arm knowing that you earned it.

*There was a slight hiccup, where I had to return the next day after noticing that the logo said "PPADA"!!!! I was quite upset pissed off but they exchanged it for me, and my PRada and I will live happily ever after.

Topshop dress and shoes // H&M biker jacket // Marc by Marc jacobs sunglasses, necklace & bangle // Prada bag

Have you ever saved up to get your hands on a luxury accessory? What do you think of the tulle dress?

Christy xx

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Camden

On our penultimate day in London we jumped on the tube and headed North, where we wondered around the shops and markets at Camden Lock. I had no idea just how many different markets there would be, or how big they are, so it ended up taking us all afternoon. There was such a variety of stalls that I was almost scared to miss out on anything, so made sure we visited every little corner of every market! We had planned on visiting the Amy Winehouse exhibition at the nearby Jewish Museum as well as getting lunch at the Roundhouse's pop up beach, but somehow time ran away from us. By the time we were finished at the markets the museum was closed. And it turned out the beach was shut that day for some reason!


We might not of got to do everything we wanted but we had a great day anyway. The street art was something else; I loved all the Amy Winehouse portraits that we spotted on the walls. Camden is like nowhere I've ever been before. It has such a unique vibe, nothing like the other parts of London we went to. Sure it's a bit grotty and run down in some places but it only adds to the individual personality of the area.


Eventually the wave of aromas from the food stalls started to get to us. If you're hungry you can find pretty much any type of cuisine in the Camden Lock markets; Indian curries, Pad Thai, Turkish kebabs, Caribbean jerk chicken, French crepes, ice-cream... whatever you're in the mood for, you'll probably find it. All I wanted was a comfy seat and a good cocktail! So, we skipped the street food and headed for Porky's on Chalk Farm Road.


Porky's is an American smokehouse style restaurant which has only recently opened. You are hit with the delicious smoky BBQ smell the minute you walk in and the Memphis theme is apparent from the pictures of Elvis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash et al that are plastered on the stone walls. As always, we began with cocktails. The menu lists a range of classic cocktails with a Porky's twist; typically Southern with lots of Bourbon and whiskey flavourings being used. Being a little more adventurous than usual, Gordon went for the Porky's iced tea. A blend of "courvoisier vs cognac, vermouth, bols triple sec, infused with earl grey, lemon, sugar and ginger beer". He was unsure at first as he's used to the normal mix with coke, but it turned out better than anticipated! I'm not a big fan of whiskey drinks so they rustled up a classic Cosmo for me at the bar.


Yet again we skipped starters and dived straight into main courses. Gordon chose the memphis meaty ribs and tips, with a side of sweet potato fries. The huge pork ribs arrived covered in a smoky BBQ sauce and were perfectly complimented by the cognac cocktail. My choice was the chiliburger. A big, juicy beef burger piled high with tasty chili and oozing melted jack cheese. For some reason I decided on a side of mac n cheese. I don't even really like mac n cheese so god knows what possessed me. It didn't have much flavour at all to be honest and pasta was probably a bit too much with the monster of a burger. I'd suggest trying the BBQ beans or coleslaw instead. Or the sweet potato fries, they were pretty damn good!


It doesn't look like much when it first arrives, but both our meals were surprisingly filling. We struggled on though and both ordered dessert. My eyes were bigger than my belly, and I felt so bloated afterwards, but the cherry pie was my pudding du jour. An American classic with a sweet, fruity filling encased in a soft, buttery pastry and served with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream... Yum! The chocolate brownie sundae was Gordon's and he did not want to share a single piece of that chocolate mountain!


Porky's is a great little spot in the heart of Camden. If, like us, you're looking for somewhere to relax and rest your aching feet after a day browsing the markets in the sweltering sunshine, then this is the place. The waitresses will welcome you with a smile and make you feel right at home as you enjoy your epic meaty BBQ food. Vegetablarians, don't be put off by the name, Porky's doesn't just serve meat; the quinoa and butternut chilli sounds amazing too!


We didn't book ahead but if you want to you can call 0207 428 0998.

Where are your favourite places in Camden?

Christy
xx

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Bumpkin


In my last post I shared my favourite London meal (Tom's Kitchen; read here) so I thought it was only right that I share Gordon's as well. We'd spent the afternoon visiting the Tower of London, the Natural History Museum and the V&A and had worked up quite an appetite. At 7.30pm we were heading to see Wicked so we had to find somewhere that served a little earlier than most places so that we had plenty time to get from South Kensington to Victoria for the show! After wondering 10 minutes from the V&A to Old Brompton Road, we found ourselves at Bumpkin.


The friendly waitress showed us through the bar to the restaurant where we had our pick of the tables. Seeing as this was a pre-theatre dinner for us, it was fairly early and we were the only diners apart from a family of MIC-types that arrived shortly after us. Gordon chose our seats - a little wooden table by the window, brightened up by the shabby chic floral display and sunshine beaming in. It felt like we were dining alfresco in an English garden. There's a really relaxed, family atmosphere in the restaurant and it was easy to get comfortable and feel right at home in our pretty surroundings. We could of quite happily stayed all day while people watching out the window.


Bumpkin, not dissimilar to Tom's Kitchen, boasts a menu of British classics which changes with the seasons. Even their cocktail list carries the theme with names like the "Portobello Martini" and "English Garden". I opted for the fruity "British Martini" which was a gin based cocktail mixed with fresh berries and lemon juice and was perfect for my sweet tooth. Everything on Bumpkin's menu is sustainably sourced from British suppliers to make sure only the top ingredients are used. I reckon I was completely sucked in by the whole championing Britain thing because I ended up choosing fish and chips for dinner - is there anything more British? Coming from Peterhead (largest fishing port in the UK in case you didn't know) I've had my fair share of fish suppers and it's not something I'd usually order in a restaurant. The fish was coated in a delicious crispy batter and the mushy peas were flavoured with mint, which usually I don't like but it went down a treat. The presentation made it look more special than the typical "chipper" version I'm used to and I really enjoyed it. It was a huge portion for me (loadsa chips hidden under there!) but I managed to polish off the lot.


Gordon did his usual "man eat meat" caveman impression and ordered the fillet steak. It must of been good because he hasn't stopped going on about it since! His steak was served with roasted tomato, breaded bone marrow, chips and Bearnaise sauce. He doesn't like sauce on his steak so was pleased when it arrived in a separate dish. The only thing he didn't like was the bone marrow. Not that there was anything wrong with it, he just doesn't like it in general. I tried to get him to at least try it but it turned into a childish game of dares and I ended up being the one doing the taste test! It actually didn't taste bad but I wasn't keen on the jelly texture. 


Another cocktail down, we moved onto dessert. The seasonal pudding menu was filled with strawberries, Pimm's and ice-cream options - typical British summertime treats! Gordon's favourite dessert ever is sticky toffee pudding so I reckon this is what made Bumpkin his stand out London meal. He got a huge portion served with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream. My dessert was really nice - iced dark chocolate and honeycomb slices with fresh strawberries and a yoghurt dressing - but nothing fancy. I couldn't really taste the honeycomb in it which was a shame as I'm a big fan, but it went down a treat anyway.



Bumpkin gave us a really enjoyable dinner in beautiful surroundings and I felt like I was lost in a dream there. It's almost too pretty, like some sort of fantasy land filled with flowers, fresh berries and sunshine. The Chelsea branch has an outdoor area called the Secret Garden which makes perfect sense and pretty much describes how the South Kensington restaurant felt to me. You can also find Bumpkin in Notting Hill and Westfield - see more info on their website.

Primark top and skirt // H&M sunglasses and sandals // Prada bag 

Eventually we had to drag ourselves away and hot footed it to South Kensington tube station. If you're planning to go to London's Apollo Victoria theatre and are looking for a casual pre-theatre dinner, I couldn't recommend Bumpkin enough. It's a short tube ride away and will put you in a good mood for the evening!

Christy
xx

Monday, 2 September 2013

Tom's Kitchen

After a day of strolling through the park in the sunshine and (mostly) window shopping, we needed to refuel. We made our way from Sloane Street, admiring the pretty Chelsea townhouses along the way, to our late lunch destination on Cale Street.

That Topshop "Carrie" dress // New Look denim jacket // H&M sandals // Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses // Primark necklace

For my birthday this year, my brother wanted to treat us to a top notch meal while we were in London. He had suggested Tom Aiken's Restaurant but after a quick online check of the menu, Gordon and I decided it wasn't for us. However, nestled in a quaint little street in Chelsea, you'll find Tom's Kitchen. The menu here is a bit less... posh, and more relaxed sounding. Just what we needed!


It started, as all good stories do, with cocktails. A long island iced tea for him (he really isn't one for experimenting, is he?) and a cosmo with a Chelsea twist for me. The "Cale Cosmo" is made with grapefruit and pomegranate rather than the traditional cranberry and it was perfect. We sipped our drinks and admired our surroundings while we eyed up the menu. Tom's Kitchen is a charming, casual affair. The decor is clean and simple, with a rustic touch. You feel like you really are at home in Tom's very own big, cosy kitchen as they serve up the best of good old fashioned British comfort food.


Unusually for us, we skipped starters and dived straight into the main course. A steak for the other half this time; an 8oz fillet served with watercress and chips. They offer bearnaise or peppercorn sauce but Gordon prefers his meat naked! Apparently the bloody juices from a rare steak are all you need. Each to their own eh? It came just how he likes it and he bloody loved it. I chose the chicken, mushroom and tarragon pie from the specials board. The best chicken pie I've ever tasted! It was served simply on it's own but the waitress had helped me to decide on a side of triple cooked chips to go with it. It was the perfect portion size, the perfect pastry, the perfect pie... yeah, I loved it. I soaked up every last bit of the creamy mushroom filling with the chips and washed it all down with another cocktail. Gin, apple, elderflower and cucumber made up the "Chelsea Gardens" concoction.


Moving swiftly onto dessert, Gordon had the hot chocolate pot; a melt in the middle chocolate sponge which came with a delicious scoop of pistachio ice cream. I indulged in what was probably the best pudding of my trip life. I've never really "got" the whole creme brulee thing but Tom's white chocolate and passionfruit version was a total game changer! Once I'd cracked open that caramelized barrier on top, I scooped out the sweet, tangy filling with the shortbread and felt like I'd never feel sadness again so long as this masterpiece existed. Sorry, drama queen. It was pretty epic though! If you try one thing at Tom's Kitchen this summer, make it the creme brulee.


Overall, Tom's Kitchen really impressed me. I honestly can't fault anything about our meal here and it was a fantastic birthday treat - cheers Joel! We ate at the Chelsea location but you can find them (and Tom's Deli) at Canary Wharf or Somerset house, where Tom's Kitchen Terrace is also open until the end of September. Check the website for location details and menus, or to book a table. You can find the fancier Tom Aiken's Restaurant here.

Have you ever been to any of Tom's restaurants?

Christy
xx
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