Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Getting My Bake On: Slutty Brownies

Ever since reading about slutty brownies I've wanted to make (and eat) them. Unfortunately I do not own an oven so baking at home is not really an option. I convinced my friend P eating these would be a good idea and we took over his kitchen in pursuit of slutty brownie goodness. They were very satisfying to make as there was no weighing or measuring or any of that "folding in" malarkey.

I bought the only cookie and brownie mix that Waitrose sold. The quantity of the cookie mix was about half that of the brownie mix but it still worked out fine!
Oreo layer. They fitted perfectly. Eat the extra Oreos while pondering how weird American chocolate tastes.
Channeling my inner domestic goddess / smugly contemplating how many calories I'm about to consume. I gave up chocolate for Lent and have kept the ban up aside for this allowable exception. Everything in moderation, right?
Ready to go into the oven. Start to finish of prep time: around 10 minutes.
Out of the oven. Please ignore the hole. We were trying to test whether it was cooked. Check it regularly - you want it hard on the outside but still gooey inside.
Leave to cool for around the time it takes to watch one episode of Arrested Development (22 minutes). Cut into slices, small slices feel more restrained and lady-like. Plus, you can eat more of them because they're only small.
Cross-section of sweet Oreo-y goodness. Share with your friends and if there's any left over it'll probably keep for a couple of days. Although like I said, I'm no baking expert. It might just be safer to eat it all in one go. Just in case.
Do you like to bake? And are you horrified at the thought of using pre-mix if so?
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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Tea For....Bloggers! Millennium Knightsbridge Hotel

I was thrilled to be invited to try the afternoon tea at the Millennium Knightsbridge Hotel last week. Long-time readers of my blog will know that I'm a big fan of afternoon tea. Eating carbs is perfectly acceptable when they are served in such a well-presented fashion. After a tour of the hotel and a swoon at the view from a rather nice suite we sat down to tea. An ettiquette expert was on hand to give us some insight into the history of afternoon tea and some tips on how to mind our manners. Clinking your teaspoon on the side of your tea cup is a big no-no, as is cutting a scone (pron: skn) with your knife. It is open for debate whether milk should be added to the cup before or after the tea.

Not for eating! This little set up tempts you into the Tangerine Cafe Bar.

The beautiful sunny evening steams through the ceiling. On our tour of the hotel, we learned that the beautiful ceiling remains from when the building was a swimming pool - who would have thought that there used to be a pool on Sloane Street, just around the corner from Harrods?

An iconic London view from the suite. Can I live here, please? Something about this time of year makes me fall in love with London all over again after a long winter of cursing it on a daily basis.

Tea up! Mine's a pot of green tea with a slice of lemon. These are the selection of scones. The chef explained how they have gone for a twist on the classics with a savory scone, a raisin scone and a chocolate scone. I love how these are mini as it means you can try a couple of flavours. The scones were served with clotted cream, raspberry jam and  raspberry puree.
The cake plate did not disappoint. I find this the biggest hit-or-miss part of afternoon tea. I'm not a fan of pastries and shop bought cakes will not do (some afternoon tea establishments provide cakes which look suspiciously purchased!). The chocolate cup was amazing, filled with fruit and a super rich chocolate mousse. I gave up chocolate for Lent and beyond and now only have it very occasionally so my tastebuds loved this! Other delectable cakes came in the form of a chocolate eclair and a chocolate Victoria sponge.
The set-up.

And again. The sandwich selection was really good. No limp sliced bread here. There was a bruscetta, a mini smoked salmon wholemeal baguette (my favourite) and chicken and egg rolls. More sandwiches were available upon request which was great - we were so starving that our first round disappeared pretty fast (etiquette be damned when I'm hungry)!
Posing with the chocolate cup before it melted in my hands. Not that that would have been a problem.
A big thank you to the Millennium Knightsbridge for such a lovely evening.

What makes a great afternoon tea for you?
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Saturday, 27 April 2013

#GeorgeStyle - High Summer

The first sunny weekend of the year coincided with the George at Asda High Summer Fashion event. It was nice to browse women's summer clothes while the sun shone outside. Fashion seasons are often annoying out of sync with what the weather is doing!
OOTD: Dress: Primark; Jacket: M&S; Bag: Mulberry (Bryn's first outing! More on him soon.); Necklace: Accessory Crossing; Bracelet: Oliver Bonas

Getting ma hair done by the Powerpuff Girls.Check out that backcombing!

Finished - I asked for "anything so long as my hair is off my face" and ended up with this mini beehive!

Picking out my favourites from the new collection. I love red. I love dresses. Done!

Candyfloss!

I haven't had a rucksack since I was ten (I cried and demanded a grown up shoulder bag) but love this one!

Press day goodies. Lots more sugar and some George make-up to try.

After getting our make-overs and browsing the new collection, we headed onto Carnaby Street for some street style. I've never tried taking street style pictures before and suddenly came over all shy (most unlike me) and unable to ask random strangers to take photos of their outfits, despite the chance to win a hamper for getting the best looks! I will have to give street style another attempt soon. Fears are only there to be got over, right?

There are some great holiday pieces in the women's summer shop, some of which will definitely be making their way into my suitcase for my next holiday. I don't have any big Asda's near me and had genuinely forgotten how good value the clothes are.

What new season pieces are you loving?
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Friday, 26 April 2013

Mid-Week Eats: Bone Daddies

Ramen bars seem to be taking over London at the moment. As a lover of all things Japanese (despite the fact that ramen originated in China) this makes me very happy. Hannah and I paid a visit to Bone Daddies last week, there was no queue as it was quite early for dinner but the restaurant was already packed - always a good sign!

The menu is short and simple. A few ramen dishes and a range of snacks are sides/starters. I couldn't resist something called "cock scratchings" so opted for the T22. You can also order additional toppings for your ramen bowl so even if you choose one without cock scratchings, you can still give them a try.
The little jar contains hair ties so that you don't end up with a "hair in ramen" situation. I've been there and this is a very good idea.
My bowl came with a whole egg (with a perfectly soft centre), seaweed, rocket and the aforementioned cock scratchings.

Chopsticks.
Bibs are supplied for those who doubt their ability to eat without getting it on themselves. Pose optional.
I loved my ramen, I usually get bored halfway through a bowl but this had so many elements to it and was so flavoursome that there was no food boredom here. The food arrives quickly so this was the perfect pre-theatre meal. The shared tables and bar stool seating probably mean that they don't expect you to linger, especially given the reputation for long queues. The rock and roll soundtrack provides a nice break from tradition and the prices are pretty reasonable (although there is a service charge, just so you know). Also, it's probably not the best choice for those of you who are veggie or don't eat pork. I can forgive them this due to the cock scratchings.

Do you like ramen?
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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Review: Radiant C Facial Scrub Cleanser

As spring is finally here, it's time to overhaul my skincare. My rich moisturisers and hot cloth cleansers need to be switched for lighter products and SPF 50 is making a welcome return to my daily routine (I'm obsessive about using sunscreen, even in England).

I have sensitive combination skin so need products that don't irritate my skin but also prevent me turning into an oil slick, especially in the warmer weather which is hopefully here to stay. I also like to wear less make-up during the summer so good skincare is even more essential to make sure that my skin looks clear and glowing.

I couldn't wait to try the Radiant C Daily Facial Scrub Cleanser* as I've been on the hunt for a good face exfoliator for a while. As the name suggests, this product is gentle enough to be used daily and contains antioxidant vitamin C to product skin from the elements.

I've been using this scrub every morning - it has a subtle citrus scent which definitely helps wake me up (despite the lighter mornings I'm still not on the best terms with my alarm clock). The scrub foams up nicely so there's no need to use a separate facewash first making it a time-saver too.

Radiant C Facial Scrub Cleanser is priced at £17.65 and is available via this link.

What's your favourite face exfoliator?

*PR Sample
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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hong Kong: Shopping and Food

Another post from my Hong Kong adventure, I thought I'd share some of my purchases and food pictures. I did try my best to stick to my spending ban - I didn't buy any clothes but I couldn't resist a few holiday purchases:
I love Rilakkuma so couldn't picked up these note books from a shop near the Ladies Market. I am obsessed with lists so it's nice to have a light-hearted notebook to try to organise my life with. Does anyone know what the sentence on the notebook on the left means?
Some goodies from Sasa (think Boots, HK style). I picked up two Real Lasting Eyeliners - I first purchased one of these when I visited Japan a few years ago and they are amazing. My first one lasted me around a year so two happily went into my basket. I couldn't resist the mini Chap Ice lipbalm (you can never have too many) and picked up a couple of packs of oil blotting sheets, mostly chosen for their packaging.
Michelle recommended Majolica Majorca mascara so after much deliberation I picked by "Lash King". The range has some very unusual brush styles but this one looks like something I can get on with. I can't wait to try this!
The Ladies Market sells a lot of designer fakes at varying levels of authenticity. I picked up this "Links of London" friendship bracelet for around £4. I actually contemplated buying a real one last year before I talked myself out of spending that much on a fabric bracelet so happy to have this little piece of fakery.
Now onto the food...
Seafood noodle soup at an authentic Chinese restaurant found my one of my HK friends. Luckily she speaks Cantonese and was able to order for us - some of the menu choices were a little unusual, goose paw, anyone?
Edamame beans at a Japanese restaurant off of Nathan Road.
Shrimp and vegetable tempura.
Vegetable rice paper rolls at a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant on Knutsford Terrace. My friend R and I shared a few appetizers to start - there were just so many amazing sounding things on the menu not to.
Mini spicy fishcakes.

Soft shell crab noodle salad.

We shared a seafood and vegetable red curry for our main which came stuffed inside a pumpkin! I love pumpkin so this was pretty amazing.

What are your favourite holiday purchases?
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Saturday, 20 April 2013

Travel Journal: Taipei

Next stop on my adventures was Taipei, just over an hour's flight from Hong Kong but very different - for a start, hardly anyone speaks English! My friend P moved to Taipei last year so knew all the good places to visit and saved me from having to use my rather poor sense of direction. My pictures from Taipei are mainly of food:

The Diner: Taipei style.

Pancakes. Because as much as I love sampling local foods, pancakes are sometimes a more appealing brunch choice.

A sleeping giant panda at Taipei Zoo. Still, I can now say that I've seen one.
The tea house had some unusual food offerings. This was the star item on the menu - deep fried prawns with mayonnaise and sugar sprinkles, anyone?
Of course, I wanted sushi for lunch (again). I also tried Taiwanese food and Japanese food but sushi will always be my favourite, especially when its cheaper than a sandwich is in London.
There is no such thing as "too much" sushi. The ones with the egg on top are my favourite. It was still raining but a visit to outdoor hot springs meant that the rain didn't really matter when you're getting wet anyway. By this point I'd given up all hope of my hair looking normal. Rain and humidity are not a good combination.
Hot Pot for dinner. For someone who cannot cook and finds raw meat terrifying, this was surprisingly fun. You order various things and put them in the boiling water until you think that they're cooked. If I say so myself, I was impressed although all the steam in the restaurant may result in frizzy hair (although by this point I was embracing the frizz, there's really no other way). 
An art exhibition in a bar. Taipei has great nightlife, bars are open until really late and when you feel like a 1am snack the night markets are there to provide you with steamed buns and octopus balls for around 50p.

Have you been to Taipei? What's the most unusual food you've eaten on holiday?
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Thursday, 18 April 2013

Travel Journal: Hong Kong

I recently came back from a trip to Hong Kong and Taipei. First up: Hong Kong. Hong Kong is somewhere that I've always wanted to visit and just thought that I would do "one day" as its a common stop-over destination. My original plan to go to Taipei for a weekend basically turned into a slightly longer break (it's quite a long way away) and the chance to visit two cities. I have friends working in HK so had the days to myself to explore and the evenings to catch up with them and go to the restaurants they had discovered - perfect!

Day 1: My first of many HK views. Who cares if you've arrived on the 7am flight and managed about 10 minutes of sleep when there's a whole new city to explore?
A steep walk down to SoHo. Attempted to get my bearings and take in everything as they'd be no one to show me around the next day. Luckily Hong Kong is really easy to get around and everyone speaks English. We then hopped on the MTR for all you can eat sushi at the CityGate mall. I took the "all you can" part very seriously.

Cable Car on Lantau Island. We got this back to HK island after a visit to the giant buddha, just as the sun was setting and then went for traditional Chinese food in Central.


The Big Buddha.

Day 2: Riding the escalator to Central. Taking a selfie and listening to my iPod. First stop was Starbucks for much-needed caffeine and to plan my day. Next up: Star Ferry, bird garden, flower market and a wander back to TST.

Mystery fruits on Nathan Road. Grateful if someone could tell me what the shiny red fruits are.

Fake Mulbz in the Ladies' Market. I love bargains so the ladies market was fun for picking up tourist tat and seeing a range of fakes of varying authenticity.

Back to TST in time for the light show before dinner on Knutsford Terrace.

Day 3. Took the tram up to The Peak. It was raining. The view at first was about 1m in front of me, I sat in a cafe reading Facebook statuses about Margaret Thatcher. Sometimes this is my only appropriate response to Real Life.

Once the rain had cleared.

Back on the tram and off to Stanley beach. A lovely break from the bright lights of the city and the sun did eventually make an appearance!

I went for a walk and visited a temple and a monastry.

Hopped on the bus back to Central for a quick Chanel pilgrimage. Last HK supper was at Din Tai Fung to sample their famous dumplings and say farewell to my HK-based friends. I loved the city and would definitely return (partly for the food!). There really is something for everyone in HK and it'd be impossible to get bored. Next stop: Taipei!
Have you been to Hong Kong?
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