29 December 2014

Plate Up. Pear & Chocolate Frangipane Tart

One good thing about going to stay in the country with friends over the holidays is having a quaint little break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The other good thing is being able to use their well-stocked country kitchen to do some cooking. Since living in London with very meagre kitchen appliances I have really missed baking on the weekend. So I took this as the perfect opportunity to whip up a tart - pear and chocolate frangipane for Christmas day. Yum.

What you'll need
300g shortcrust pastry
2 eggs
100g butter, melted
100g ground almonds
125g caster sugar
100g dark chocolate
2 tablespoons milk
300g pear slices in juice

What to do
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius and grease your tart tin well with butter. Ensure your pastry is at room temperature and line the tin. Pierce the base with a fork and blind bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make your frangipane by combining the eggs, butter, sugar and ground almonds in a mixer until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the chocolate and milk and melt together either over the stove or in the microwave.

By now your pastry should be ready. Remove the tart tin from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Spread the melted chocolate over the base and then top with the frangipane. Then arrange the slices of pear on top.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden.

Photos by Krissie.

26 December 2014

One Day. Merry Christmas 2014

Can you believe it? It’s Christmas time again – I swear I was only frolicking on the beach in the south of France last week but that was in July; Five. Months. Ago. I must say I feel very privileged to have experienced my first winter Christmas season here in London this year. A cold climate at this time of year truly does make a magical transformation. I’ve never felt so much festive cheer thanks to a city that is brimming with lights, full of decorative trees and abounding with festive spirit. My only sadness is that there hasn’t been any snow – but I am hopeful that it will still come at some point!

I want to say a big Merry Christmas to all you beautiful people – from whichever corner of the globe you find yourself reading. I hope that you have a magical day with those you hold nearest and dearest. I find myself writing to you from a location that is truly befitting of my first English Christmas – honestly I could be in a novel right now! I’m in a tiny country town that is home to about 500 people, staying in a little stone cottage that surely must date back at least 400 years, listening to crackling fire with a soul-warming glass of red in hand. I had the most perfect day with some family friends who made it seem as though home wasn’t so far away. To make it even better I shared my festive cheer with a little one year old cherub who's rapture and awe for twinkling lights and happy smiles reminded me to appreciate the little things in life and never take anything for granted.

Merry Christmas to all for it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Photo by Krissie.

22 December 2014

Eat Me. Polpo, Notting Hill

Italian and Spanish would have to be two of my favourite cuisines to eat, so when I discovered that there was a little restaurant named Polpo in London that was an amalgamation of both, I was smiling all the way to the table. Smack bang on Notting Hill’s high street you’ll find this eclectic little restaurant boasting a tapas menu with Italian cuisine rather than the typical Spanish – yum!

Authentic wooden tables and retro red booths adorn the inside giving the venue a rustic modern feel. My friend was here in London visiting from Australia so we had plenty to catch up on whilst we sipped negroni’s and perused the menu. With a fire in our bellies (courtesy of the strong drinks) and minds longing to reminisce, we found ourselves rehashing days of old, falling back into the ease of Year 12 chats about boys, gossip and the like. Honestly you could have transplanted the restaurant to our Australian school ground and I wouldn’t have noticed!

With so much chatting we worked up quite the appetite and our smiles widened as we enjoyed the Bianca pizzette, goats cheese bruschetta, fennel salad, beef meatballs and cheese croquettes. Talk about a feast! The food here is really great with nice flavours that aren’t too overwhelming or rich. Definitely a meal to enjoy that is perfect for grazing whilst having a good girly chat. 4/5

Where: 126 Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill W11 3QG (Polpo is also in Covent Garden and Smithfield)
Bookings: recommended on weekends

Polpo on Urbanspoon

19 December 2014

Must Have. The 2014 Gift List

It’s that time of year again, so in the spirit of the season I thought I’d put together a 2014 Gift List of all the things I’m coveting this year… and more importantly, wish I had the money to buy myself! As you can probably see, my frequent browsing trips to Harrods have significantly upped the price tag of all my wishful delights. Never matter, a girl can dream. Feast your eyes…

Prada Wallet £373 - the perfect timeless leather wallet

Celine Tote Bag £2,268 - you guessed it; the perfect timeless tote to match the wallet

Alaia Tailored Crepe Wool Coat £2,750 - an achingly chic coat

Marc Jacobs iPhone Case £30 - an iconic phone case that looks like something from outer-space

Jimmy Choo Heels £575 - I choo-se these! Yes please!

Bobbi Brown Brush Set £145 - for the perfect air-brushed make-up

Now, to find that millionaire boyfriend.......

Photos via retailers.

15 December 2014

Must Have. Winter Hats

A funny thing happened in London this past week. Where there was once a sea of heads in the crowd, this has now been replaced by a sea of beanies, fedoras and baker boy caps. It's official, winter has arrived. How do I know? Because it has definitely become 'hat season'. For me despite my chapped cheeks and frozen fingers I'm rather thrilled because I've always loved a good hat - not to blow my own trumpet but I seem to have been blessed with a face shape that suits them - hooray! Time to hit the stores because here are my favourites...

The Fedora
Ah the go-to chic fedora that has overtaken every girl's wardrobe in the last year. This modern style does urban-cool with ease and has become the token accessory of bloggers, stylists and fashionistas everywhere. Why? Because it just looks so good!

The Russian Fur Hat
Add a little international flair to your collection with this iconic style. Definitely one for a European winter, I can just see myself strolling through Red Square with bright red lipstick and matching talons.

The French Beret
Forget those awful bobble beanies and go for real style with a classic French beret. My grandma had a beautiful collection and I like to think I got my love of the style from her. Simply position on a slightly tilted angle and do hair in a low-side-chignon. Parfait!

The Wide Brim Floppy [I-can't-see-anything-under-here] Hat
You know what I'm talking about... the hat that is oh so stylish but requires you to turn your head at very dramatic angles in order to see anything. This style of hat is simply a necessity for your wardrobe; perfect for chilly but still days (wind is a problem with this bad boy) and for occasions when you want to ignore people.

The Wool Cloche Hat
Take a trip back to the 1920's with this classic style. Ever so chic and feminine, this is definitely one for Sunday strolls or brunch with the girls. Old world charm at its best.

Photos via retailers.

12 December 2014

Suitcase. Bruges, Belgium - Travel Guide

When I heard about the magic little medieval town of Bruges in Belgium I knew I simply had to visit. THEN when I heard it was host to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe I knew I simply had to visit ASAP! So with Christmas in the air and a cheerful spirit all around my friend and I headed off to Bruges on our adventure last weekend. If you hadn’t noticed already, we really do love Christmas and fondly refer to ourselves as little Christmas elves because we just adore the festive season.

Bruges, to me, is like something out of a picture book. The architecture is so distinctive with its iconic stepped shapes; there is history simply pouring out of every structure in this town. The cobblestoned paths and uneven walkways hint to times long before even my great-great-great-grandparents could remember and castle-like structures loom over the edges of the many canals to create a breath-taking sight.

There are a great many things to enjoy in this place and if you do visit at Christmas time the markets should certainly be number one on your list. They have a range of decorations, knick-knacks and food and drink stalls set up, along with festive carols and an ice-skating rink all set in a forecourt overlooked by the medieval Belfry bell-tower which chimes out relentlessly on the hour.

Take a stroll down one of the many winding roads and you’ll find an array of beautiful stores, or stop in at a cafĂ© for a soul-warming hot chocolate. The main cathedral Basiliek van het Heilig Bloed is also worth a peek inside for a dose of serenity. And what seemed beautiful by day becomes magic at night – when the lights come on the charm of Bruges is evident everywhere.

This is definitely a town for walking. Honestly there is no need for transport within Bruges. Everything is within a short distance and the cobblestoned paths provide the perfect location for wandering. We just walked around with no purpose, getting lost and stumbled across so many beautiful and wonderful things. If you fancy taking to the water, there are various boat trips that run through Bruges’ canals, or you can take in the sights on land in a horse and carriage.

I’ll make it easy for you: frites, waffles and chocolate. That’s it. If you’re in Bruges then you’re eating these three things! A chocolaterie sits on literally every corner – in fact I’d go so far to say that every third shop will be filled with sweets. Once you’ve had your fill of these delights you can find yourself a waffle shop. I had the best ones of my life at Chez Albert, honestly these were so so good. Then if you’ve got space later you must try some of Bruges’ special frites (fries) which are made with a special type of flour. Unfortunately we got our frites from the wrong shop (stay away from the Friterie on Market Square) but I heard Best Frites do them very well.

Looking back on my weekend, I felt like we spent two days in a Disney novel. This little place is not like anywhere I’ve been and its true character is something I’m sure to remember for a long time.

Photos by Krissie.

8 December 2014

Must Have. Beat the chap: my top five lip balms

As much as I’m loving London’s winter festivities at the moment, my lips are really suffering from all the arctic air! So much so that I took myself off to the store last week and stocked up on a basket full of balms (I’m serious I went wayyyy overboard). With one in every handbag, at my bedside and on my desk, I am now an aficionado on those that actually work to give you a baby-skin-soft pout. Here’s my top picks…

Vaseline Lip Therapy Cocoa Butter 
Good old Vaseline, you can always rely on them and now they've upped the ante and brought out a new delicious smelling lip tin. You can't go wrong with cocoa butter.

Paul & Joe Lip Treatment
Tell me anything is Parisian and I'll most likely love it, there's just something about that word! This balm is full of uber moisture perfect for those extra icy days.

Burts Bees Tinted Lip Balm
Since my mum first got me this a few years ago it has remained a favourite of mine: smells good, adds a sheen of colour and locks in moisture. Tick, tick, tick.

Nivea Lip Butter Tin Raspberry
I have long been an advocate of Nivea body moisturiser and this lip butter gets my seal of approval too. Plus I'm loving the raspberry scent!

Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm
I mean straight away what do you think of? Fairies and the like? Me too! The packaging is cute, the shade is sweet and the moisture is packed in.

With my handbag well-stocked, I’m ready for any potential suitors (*blows kiss*) and the bonus is I smell like a rainbow!

Photos via product brands.

5 December 2014

One Day. Somerset House Ice-Skating

It may only be early December but I have enough Christmas spirit already for everyone - even those of you self-proclaimed grinchs. Last week, on November 26th to be exact, I gave a contented sigh as I realised I had finished all my Christmas shopping and wrapped all the presents. Told you I was keen beans!

My Christmas cheer has only been increased this week with a delightful visit to Somerset House for ice-skating. We arrived in Christmas jumpers and all, ready to enjoy the occasion under the stars. This place just sparkled with all the Christmas festiveness you could hope for - there were cobblestoned pathways, a brightly lit rink and a giant Christmas tree that induced a reflex "oooh" as soon as you saw its twinkling lights.

After an aromatic mulled wine it was time to take to the ice. Skates were donned with a retro playlist to get us in the mood; the mix was Ed Sheeran, ABBA and of course YMCA had to be thrown in. We carved up the rink with absolute elegance and skill including elaborate twists and turns, while those around us clung to the railings... Actually maybe that was us, I can't remember which was the accurate version but who cares! We had a ball.

And as the night ended we took one last stroll of the square, watched the skaters hang up their boots and wished in vain we could reach up to pinch a decoration from the giant tree to take home.

Photos by Krissie.

1 December 2014

Style It. Ways to Wear White

This year, Vogue magazine came out with a nifty little series of clips called "73 Questions" - basically the premise is that a cameraman meets up with a different celeb each week and asks them 73 weird and wacky questions about their life. Of course it's all staged and rehearsed, but it is very entertaining with its rapid-fire style, plus there have been some insightful answers. Some of my favourites were Blake Lively who you see clearly loves to cook and Reese Witherspoon who showed she can do a nifty back-flip on a trampoline.

Anna Wintour herself was interviewed and when asked what's one thing you would never wear, she answered "Head to toe black". My heart sunk when she said it because I will readily admit that I wear a lot of black, and on the rare occasion, dare I say, I wear the shade head to toe. So now that I've been informed it's a cardinal fashion sin [I must say I do disagree] I thought I better come up with an alternative. Here's four stylish ways to wear head to toe white...

The white tux - Your new favourite dress isn't a dress, it's a chic tux set and white makes it all the more stylish. The perfect blend of masculine and feminine style, just beware of anyone holding a glass of red wine.

The casual chic - Ah the effortlessly undone look (that actually requires a fair bit of styling). You can't go past an oversized white shirt for weekend style. Set off your accents with some gold jewels and you're set for coffee to cocktails.

The cocktail dress - We all know and love the LBD but I think it's time we say hello to the LWD. Super stylish and sassy this is sure to work for day or night occasions.

The boho flair - Or give your look a boho twist with a gypsy-inspired top and an ever-faithful white jean. Of course a whimsical plait and some sun-kissed skin complete the look.

Photos via Pinterest.