Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Weekend Round Up #7: Birmingham Christmas Market

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Whilst I'm not a particularly traditional person, some traditions just simply can't be missed... especially if it's Christmas themed. For the past three years, Jordan, his housemates and I have been visiting Birmingham for their German Market; it's a weekend I look forward to as soon as winter visits. The food, the festive stalls, the twinkly lights and great company... perfecto. This year, Hannah, Jordan and Ross' parents joined us for some honey wine, winter Pimm's and a bratwurst. Christmas is nigh, folks.
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 photo image_zps71b04ea5.jpg  photo image_zps05e26c0e.jpg My Christmas pudding hat decided to make an appearance.  photo image_zps10e069e3.jpg  photo image_zpsabb5da84.jpg  photo image_zps01f86739.jpg As we were in the Midlands, a reunion with Rhiannon was definitely on the cards.

"Meet me by the ferris's behind a craft fair... on the right of the erm, carousel?" I said.

 Twenty minutes of muddled up directions (from my part) with 'Last Christmas' being sung down the phone (again, ahem, my doing) - I spotted her from afar and greeted her with some out of tune Christmas songs and the proposal to eat festive treats. Toffee apple cider was drunk, derp faces were pulled for Instagram, we hunted for the best doughnuts in town (I'm talkin' nutella, after eight and cinnamon chocolate filled pastries) and songs from Enchanted were well... chanted. It was so lovely to see her again and a HSM marathon is definitely on the cards for next time. Check her out on YouTube, her makeup tutorials are INSANE. Can I have her face? photo image_zps4904988a.jpg photo image_zpsc51f500c.jpgWe (minus Rhiannon) all headed back shortly after that for drinks and our final yearly tradition of our Birmingham weekend: we watched Home Alone. Hurrah!

The next day...As if we didn't have enough food, we shimmied over to Cosmo for the best Asian buffet in town after a brief visit to IKEA for (500) Days of Summer quotes and showroom drools. Food baby alert. Scratch that, we all had a family of eight nursed in our stomach after we had our wicked way with the food. We settled it with the only way we know how... Home Alone 2 and late night s'moreos (6 hours after the feast, mind).

...I'm just glad that I worked out for an hour every day to balance it out but after all, what is better than amazing company with the food to match? Ho ho ho.
 photo image_zpsd537ece0.jpg  photo image_zps9df55762.jpg  photo image_zps2a7edea0.jpg ^^ Yes, the sushi was displayed with dry ice and rainbow lights. I. know.

So voila! 
A weekend in December that I look forward to every single year.
It's been the best one yet :)

Do you have any winter traditions?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Afternoon Tea in Floral Corduroy Dungarees

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Happy Friday!

Forgive me for a very stereotypically British post today... This was our first ever experience of afternoon tea and Jordan wanted to celebrate the return of his Mini after 5 months of hard work so it just had to be done. We had to milk it (with our breakfast tea).

As I had two days off work, I hopped back down to the South Coast for a few days and proceeded to make the most of the time with 'relaxing' plans away from the hustle and bustle of London. We went to Bill's in Chichester and was immediately greeted with cobbled roads, vintage boutiques and the smell of roasted chestnuts. Christmas has arrived in West Sussex!

We decided to not opt for a posh ol' hotel as I didn't fancy acting a little pretentious to suit a social setting that I wouldn't feel too comfortable with. It's nice to treat yourself once in a while but I'll save it for when we feel more 'let's dress up like a proper lady and gentleman' (which is bound to happen in the near future if I watch any more Mary Berry baking shows). Bill's certainly had character, I'll give you that. It was dressed in a mix of rustic and modern decor with blackboards and wooden crates. Oh, I was a big fan of it and resisted the urge to get too snap happy as the waiter already found it amusing when I proceeded to vlog... and film a stop motion of salt 'n' pepper shakers. We were waiting for our food and needed a distraction from our rumblin' tums, OK?

I decided that it was my cheat day and to reduce the guilt from a day of simple carbs, a 45 min HIIT cardio workout was done prior to this! I'm trying to master the whole 'everything in moderation/it's OK to indulge with a balanced diet' thang. I'm getting there.
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Food for thought. Geddit? 
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See what I mean about the decor? Even the bloomin' cake stand is cute. See the mason jar with the sugar cubes too? Just lemme take the homeware home.

Top Tier:
Warm scones with homemade jam and clotted cream.
(Jordan and I both agreed that it was the best scones we've ever had... so far)

Middle Tier:
A selection of cakes and tarts. There was a cinnamon/granola/honey hybrid bar, a very rich slice of chocolate cake (still on the hunt for a Matilda slice), a lemon and meringue tart and a strawberry (and yogurt?!) tart.
(Everything was tasty but was a bit too sugary for my liking. I'm definitely more about the savoury/plainer flavours nowadays. Surprisingly, the lemon tart was our favourite despite me thinking it'd be my least!)

Bottom Tier:
A selection of finger sandwiches: smoked salmon, egg, cucumber and tomato with ham. Jordan wasn't a fan of the cucumber and tomato (I have still yet to meet a guy who likes them) and I didn't like the ham so it all worked itself out.
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Don't underestimate this.

It was definitely enough, albeit too much, for two people. I was ready for an afternoon nap afterwards but instead walked around the town with the twinklin' Christmas lights shining in the shop front as an attempt to burn a bit of it off!

A very well spent British day indeed! :)
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white shirt - Primark, floral corduroy dungarees - Topshop, Mary Jane geek shoes - Topshop, leather contrast sleeved jacket - Zara, bag - shop in Milan, tartan scarf - Topshop

If you wanted to see a movin' visual take of our food... I filmed the whole thing in a vlog/outfit of the day hybrid and embedded it below! I also included a snippet of us decorating Jordan's family Christmas tree and lightin' up a brandy topped Christmas pudding. Another first experience!

That's it!

I'm off to Birmingham Christmas Market tomorrow with a few friends and we'll be spending the weekend together in the Midlands. I can't wait! I'll be snappin' away so watch out for a post on it soon. I'm planning to look like a Christmas elf.

I hope you're having a lovely day so far!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

OUTFIT: Peter Pan in Disneyland

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In case you haven't noticed, I've been very obsessed with Peter Pan collars recently. I've also been coveting over the knee socks, oatmeal coloured tights and novelty hats. It appears that winter has sent my wardrobe on a trip down memory lane with school girl and Sunday best inspired outfits for the festive season. I've also been pairing it with my current favourite hat that's conveniently in a shape of a Christmas pudding... (more on that at a later date) I look like a Christmas elf and I couldn't be happier about it.

This wouldn't look out of place in Disneyland if Minnie Mouse decided to swap her red dress for a monochrome affair. To make it look slightly more grown up, a few changes had to be made. Straight hair has been replaced with unruly waves and the brown brogues throws in a splash of colour with an added bonus of androgyny. If you're not a fan of bare pins, I find that black over the knee socks helps to slim down the shape of the legs by emphasising the silhouette of them. 

It's lovely to pay an ode to our childhood clothes from time to time. I admit to even looking through my old photo albums (from the toddler years) for some inspiration. I'm on a mission to recreate my mother's concoction of a white shirt and tartan pinafore but her idea of a matching set of pink velvet tracksuit can stay back in the 90s... 

What trend have you been loving recently?

[Peter Pan swing top - ASOS, crochet shorts - eBay, over the knee socks - ASOS, brogues - Simmi Shoes*]

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Sunday: December 1st and a Request to Relax

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There's something very perfect about having December 1st arrive on a Sunday... SANTA IS NEARLY HERE (and Rudolph too, he's my favourite).

With 24 days to go until Christmas, the tree is up, the baubles are dancing on the branches and the fairy lights are twinklin' away at Jordan's house! I'm feeling so very festive and I'm itching to watch a Christmas film once the Man United match is over ;)

My monthly haul video will be up later on today too and I'm ready to export two other videos for the next week with another two planned on the way! I wrote out my filming schedule from December - January and have nine videos planned for the following weeks. Phew! 

I'm in desperate need of some tips on how to relax and switch off mentally so I uploaded a recent LUSH bubble bath and my weekend triple chocolate avocado cookies a la The Londoner as an attempt to persuade my mind into slowing down. A few Sundays ago, I had a Bath & Body Works Leaves candle burning, a LUSH comforter running underneath the taps and a festive bath bomb thrown in the mix to create a purple/pink glitter bath. Everything was perfect but I still couldn't wind down. I was going through my mental to-do list, drafting emails, writing notes on my phone and was planning every activity that followed in the next three hours to do before bedtime. I should've just kicked back, relaxed and quite frankly shoo'ed off the stress that kept sprinting around my brain. The thing is, I think I've forgotten how to just sit down to enjoy the art of simply doing nothing. Good thing Christmas is arriving soon , ey?!

On a happier note, I can't recommend these avocado cookies enough. Hold on a second, avocados... cookies... say wah? I recently found a recipe on Rosie's blog on gluten-free cookies and spied a lonely ripe avocado rolling around my kitchen. AHA! I then got to work and oh my, they're gooey, fudgey and yummy. VERY yummy. Jordan hates the green stoned fruit and requested another two batches too! No fear, you can't taste the secret ingredient either and they're definitely more guilt-free than the traditional ones. I can' recommend them enough. In classic Art Attack mode, 'try it yourself'.

What are you doing on the first day of December? : )

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Feelin' Foxy

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Today is a good day. 

What makes it better? 
This fox hat.

It was a weekend purchase at H&M and I have developed an unhealthy obsession with it. I've since bought a fox printed smock (look out for its appearance on here soon!) and I've been eating my almonds out of my fox printed snack box. It may be another one of my phases but it's an animal that I'm keen to welcome into my winter wardrobe. Just step riiiight in. 

I kept the outfit monochrome to avoid this foxy hat being overshadowed by obnoxiously colourful pieces so out came a striped top and my leather contrast sleeve coat from Zara. Without the headwear, it's a very classic pairing with a nod to Parisian chic with a side order of androgynous styling. Combine it with a foxy hat? Well, that's a whole other story. Whilst I normally favour a polished and 'preppy' look - it can sometimes look a little boring and monotonous. Add in an unexpected accessory and voila! It makes it fun. If you find that your day-to-day outfits are following a repetitive routine, throw in something unpredictable to mix it up.

P.S. Is a fox a feline or a canine? I did a quick Google search and was presented with conflicting answers. They're meant to be related to wolves, dingos and coyotes but their features seem more cat-like to me. Foxy feline?

[Fox hat - H&M, striped top - H&M, leather sleeve coat - ZARA, black leggings - ZARA]

Monday, 25 November 2013

Weekend Round Up #6

Weekend round ups, it's been a while. Forgive me for not storing your last few weeks' worth of memories online but our pal BT Infinity will be comin' to stay for good next week. Just hold on and make yourself comfortable for summary #6.

You know me, I often remember my events from the food that I've eaten. This one has been no different so I hope you've had breakfast (or at least plan to after this post). Friday's usual porridge after my train journey was replaced with a warm cinnamon roll from Nordic Bakery. I thought I'd surprise my sisters and Jordan with their favourite pastry to start the weekend off nicely so off I trotted to Golden Square after work.

Saturday was the most exciting. It started off with holiday shopping, Christmas decorations gazing and dim sum - my long lost friend. Oh, how I've missed the dumplings and buns. We feasted on a lunchtime banquet and I'm drooling at the thought of it. It was lovely to catch up with my sisters and mum over croquettes, steamed cake and a cup of jasmine tea.

UK fashion blogger The evening was what I've been waiting for all week... Eeep. Jordan had booked a surprise for me at 7pm that night for my post-graduation present. He remained tight-lipped about the gift but thankfully gave me one clue to tide me over for the two weeks prior to the event: the theme was nostalgia. I was convinced that I had cracked it but he always wins, that clever man.

We walked right past my guess, walked along the Brighton promenade before he stopped, paused and slyly exclaimed:

"I said the theme was nostalgia... But not for the both of us. It's nostalgia for... You."
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I looked up and The Regency restaurant positively beamed at us. It welcomed us with twinkly lights and an invitation for us to try the tastiest local seafood the South Coast has to offer.

SQUEEEEE. It's been my favourite seafood restaurant since I've been little. I have been raving about it to Jordan for the past 4 years and we've always said that we'd try it. We never got round to it... Until now. Can we all pause for a minute and collectively appreciate Jordan's effort into organising all of this? Can somebody get the man a medal?

We kickstarted the evening with calamari (his favourite) and smoked salmon (mine) with a swig of cranberry juice (and coke for the gentleman).
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The main course was a no brainer. My childhood favourite: Lobster Thermidor. Although I'm not normally a cheese kinda gal, this dish has been done right. A whole lobster divided into halves, mixed in with herbs and cheese sauce before being baked for a crisp cheese lid. The lobster meat has been perfectly cooked, it's tender and the sauce complemented it completely.

We ordered a side dish of garlic bread to mop up the last remains of ze juices - it would have been rude not to, ey?
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We'd normally stop at a two-course meal but Jordan wanted us to have the full experience so we opted for dessert too. Yay! Definitely gold medal material. The most hilarious waiter (with a posh ol' accent) recommended the pistachio belladonna and homemade rhubarb crumble with custard. It was heavenly. The ice cream was strong with flavour and had been dotted with pistachio nuts too. It took us right back to the gelato from Milan last summer.

The rhubarb crumble was a British classic and each bite was met with a 'MMMmmmm...' And closed eyes. It's Jordan's favourite dessert and ugh you so! The custard was thick, luxuriously creamy and warmed up our cold winter evenings.  photo image_zps541e47e4.jpg With a full stomach and a grin from ear to ear, we left hand in hand with the promise of coming back to visit again soon. Date night wasn't over yet... Jordan drove to Brighton marina in his recently refurbished Austin Mini (a true beaut and a prized possession of his after spending the last five months giving it a face lift. The reward is a masterpiece for the eyes with its polished paintwork and sleek metallic interior). What was our plan? Thor 2!
 photo image_zps7f8729be.jpg  photo image_zpsd6d9c7b2.jpg  photo image_zps4886357b.jpg We were armed with popcorn and a Terry's chocolate orange. The Marvel creation didn't disappoint as expected and we were both pleased with Zachary Levi's appearance. The man can do wrong!

Sunday was a festive day. Over ripe bananas only meant one thing... Wholemeal honey banana bread. We baked it and Jordan's mum experimented with a gingerbread men recipe... They turned into abominable snowmen but were tasty all the same!
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The rest of the evening was spend in my Pikashu onesie and a lazy evening with a home cooked meal with my sisters and mum. Can weekends forever be like this one?
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It's true what they say, it's always the little things that matter the most and for me? Nothing beats great food with even better company on a cold winter's weekend.
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