Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #88

Happy Friday team! I hope you’ve had a good week and are ready for an epic weekend! We’ve not had a Friday favourites post for three weeks now so it’s high time we got back to celebrating the happy things, big and small, in our lives. First up has to be our Portugal trip. Unsurprisingly we had the BEST time. It was a holiday of sunshine, swimming, sand between our toes, brilliant books, lovely friends, lots of chattering and scrumptious food. Basically perfect. A relaxing time in the sun is always a good idea, am I right?!

FRiday Favourites 88 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

In other good news from this week, autumn’s arrived. Hooray! As I’ve mentioned a lot in the past it’s my favourite time of year. So I’m over the moon that it’s finally here, although I could do with the temperature diving a bit. What’s with that humidity?! Eurgh. But with pretty autumnal leaves, stunning tress and conkers everywhere it’s hard to complain about the heat. I mean, just look – swoonworthy!

Next up, I’ve had some lovely time with the family this week. From an evening spent eating yummy food at Box Park, to an afternoon of baking and Netflix with the sisters followed by a delicious birthday dinner for the Fatherbear. It’s been quite a week for fun with the family. I’m really so very lucky to have the family I do.

In other Friday favourites news, I’ve booked a holiday! I’m off to Hamburg in December for a long weekend of yummy food and Christmas markets. It’s going to be such fun! Have you ever been to Hamburg, what would you suggest we do?

 Friday Favourites 88 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

The final thing on today’s Friday favourites post is all the good books I’ve been reading recently. From an incredible memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am, to a fascinating fictionalisation of Laura Bush in American Wife and with the un-putdownable Tower of Dawn topping it off a long list – over 10! – I’ve been enjoying every page. Yeah for good reads!

So tell me, what’s made your week incredible?

-Fi x

Wishlists: Autumn Wardrobe

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are getting crunchier and the temperature is dropping. That means it must be my favourite time of year, autumn. I could spend forever nattering about why autumn is brilliant and what I’ve got planned for the season – in fact I already have done in my recent Autumn bucket list post – but I won’t bore you with that again today. No, today’s post is my autumn wardrobe wishlist. Containing those seasonal pieces that I’ve been lusting over for the last few weeks, which would make my autumn wardrobe complete. Items that I’ve almost bought a bundle of times – somebody stop me! So read on if you want some autumn wardrobe inspiration!

autumn wishlist

Like Lau mentioned in her Autumn wishlist post I’m all about the dresses and black tights when autumn arrives. Partly because, yes, it’s easier early in the morning and partly because it’s a look that can transition from work to evening and into the weekend with minimal additions. As long as the accessories, i.e the jacket and shoes are right, then you’re set. Simple! So therefore my autumn wardrobe wishlist includes no less than five dresses. The great thing about dresses is that they are all so different. So while they’re an easy win they look so interesting. So whether you’re in the mood for stripes or a simple colour block dress, a bookish look or florals you’re sorted! Just don’t make me choose just one of these dresses. I’ll fail abysmally!

autumn wishlist1

Green CoatStriped Shirt / Star Jumper / Navy Blazer / Grey Tweed Blazer / Ankle BootsStriped ‘You’re Smashing It’ Top

Next up on my wishlist we have the jackets and blazers – step two in my perfect autumn uniform. In autumn it’s often warm enough to forego the really warm winter coat with fur lining and opt instead for blazers and jackets. Something lighter and cooler but still some protection from the chill or, let’s be honest, the rain! This year I’m really keen to add a tweed blazer to my wardrobe as I think it’ll move some of my more summery dresses into an autumn appropriate outfit. Same with the navy one and that’s, perhaps, a little less school teacher or professor in look! As for the longer green jacket, that feels like it might be a smarter work option and I’m in love with the colour. Jade is such a good autumn colour!

A new pair of autumn books and a new striped shirt or top are definitely autumn essentials and with a pair of skinny jeans (of which I have plenty of pairs) I’m set for the perfect weekend look. And it wouldn’t be a wishlist post if there wasn’t some form of stripes included! After all my wardrobe is 25% stripes! The final item is the most gorgeous snuggly jumper. I love this pattern, the simplicity of it is everything. And I like the contrast of the simplicity and the neon colour. I think that works really well. And I only have three other grey jumpers so a fourth is allowed, right????

So there we go, my autumn wardrobe wishlist! Does anyone want to make a guess as to how many of these items I’ll end up purchasing? I’m hoping it’s no more than two, but who knows… Wish me luck!

-Fi x

In the Kitchen: Shakshuka

 Shakshuka - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

It’s no secret that I’m a big brunch fan. Whether it’s a plate of homemade eggs or a stack of pancakes from one of London’s finest establishments I’m always here for a brunch extravaganza. And while trying a new brunch place is awesome, sometimes making brunch at home is just as good. Not least because you can enjoy it while still in your pjs! We’ve shared some of our favourite homemade brunch recipes on the blog in the past. Like these yummy cinnamon buns, my favourite two ingredient pancakes and this breakfast scramble. But today’s post is a new savoury brunch option. One that’s fairly new to me – shakshuka.

I first encountered shakshuka a year or so ago on copious blog posts and Instagram shots and while it looked yummy I had no idea what it was. Well apart from a mash-up of tomatoes and egg, which looked to go perfectly with avocado! But I knew one day I’d try it and I was sure we’d be firm friends from that point. Fast forward to March this year and I finally tried shakshuka at The Rail House Cafe, and I can confirm that it was indeed love at first taste. There’s something about the spicy tomato and pepper combo that goes perfectly with eggs, as you scoop it up with crusty bread. So delicious. Just look!

Shakshuka - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

So delicious, in fact, that we had to make it ourselves and I can honestly say this is going to become a staple for brunch in our house. While it does take a bit of time, the steps really are super simple without any faff. And the time it takes is so totally worth it. Even better the ingredients are basically store cupboard ones so it’s likely you can make it whenever you fancy it, without any annoying supermarket trips!

Shakshuka: Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil / 1 onion / 2 peppers (a mix of colours) / 2 garlic cloves / 0.5 tsp cumin seeds / 0.5 tsp caraway seeds / 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper / 1 tbsp tomato puree / 1 tin chopped tomatoes / 4 eggs / 40g feta cheese

Shakshuka - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Shakshuka: Method

  • *Thinly slice the onions and peppers and finely chop the garlic
  • *Heat the oil in a lidded pan before adding the onions and peppers, cook until softened
  • *Add the garlic and cook for two minutes before sprinkling in the cumin, caraway seeds and cayenne pepper
  • *Stir in the tomato puree and cook until the paste starts to separate, then add the tomatoes and a tbsp water
  • *Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, until reduced a little. Stir in the herbs
  • *Make wells in the sauce for the eggs and drop in each one carefully. Cook until the whites of the egg are just set and the yolks are runny
  • *Sprinkle with feta and serve with fresh bread and avocado

So there we go, super simple right? And super tasty. Basically, you just have to make it. I can guarantee you’ll be as obsessed as I am!

-Fi x

Wishlists: Autumn Wardrobe Update

It’s no surprise that autumn is my favourite time of the year. You all know that I love a cosy jumper on an autumn day. See my Autumn jumper wishlist for more details on that obsession.
Now it’s not only jumpers that I am obsessed with, I’ve also been scouring the shops for other Autumnal pieces. I don’t want too much new stuff as my current wardrobe can easily become my autumn wardrobe. All I need to do is add black tights, a cardigan (or jumper), and some chunky boots. But it is nice to see what’s new in the shops and to possibly treat myself to some new things.
So that’s what I’m sharing today; my picks for an autumn wardrobe update.

autumn wardrobe update

As you can see from the above, a dress is a staple for me at this time of year. It’s an easy way to look put together, while still making minimal effort. I can’t tell you the number of days I’ve just thrown on tights, a dress and a chunky necklace, and then received endless compliments. I’ve had my eye on that navy Oliver Bonas dress for quite some time now. It comes in a couple of other colours too, but navy is my go to colour at all times. I’ve told myself that I have to wait for the sale, so far I’m sticking to that, but it’s tough!

Confession time, I’ve already bought those brogues. I wore the black version of these constantly last year, so when I saw that M&S had them in this wine colour I became obsessed. Anyway I had a voucher so I ended up paying just 50p of my own money for them.

The same time that I bought the brogues I spotted that blazer. I was wearing a navy dress at the time (yes, I have a navy dress problem) and the blazer colour worked really well with it. I like that it’s quite casual, with a relaxed fit, but still looks smart. Plus it’s a good option if I don’t want to wear a cardigan but need another layer.

What is on your Autumn wishlist? Do you do a regular wardrobe update or do you stick to the same pieces each year?

Laura xx

Out and About: Morden Hall Park

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

We have lived in our home for two years now and yet the area still remains somewhat of a mystery to me. Don’t get me wrong I’ve explored loads of the area, but there’s just still loads more to investigate. Or to experience in a new way, in a new season. For example Streatham Common’s rookery is an entirely different place in the summer than it is in the depths of winter. No less lovely, just different. And that, I’d imagine, is going to be the case for Morden Hall Park too.

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

We first ventured into the National Trust property of Morden Hall Park over the summer and I’ve only just realised I’ve not shared any of the lovely pictures of the park on here yet. How remiss of me! So before we hit Autumn proper, I wanted to share Morden Hall Park in the summer. That way when I visit (and subsequently) share my autumn visit you’ll see just how different it is in autumn. Just imagine these pictures when everything’s covered in the rich red, brown and orange hues of autumn leaves! *heart eyed emoji*

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park is one of the only remaining estate on the banks of the River Wandle. The house is lovely and you can learn about the snuff mills in one of the two still standing there. But the real joy of Morden Hall Park is in exploring the beautiful grounds. There used to be a deer park around the estate and now those grounds are free for you to explore. They’re beautiful; from the winding river, to the beautiful rose garden and through the spaces hidden behind the trees.

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

If you’re ever south of the river and fancy a lovely day out, Morden Hall Park must be on your list. As you can see it’s beautiful. Even on a lovely grey summer day!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: An Autumn Bucket List

bucket-list

I think we all feel a kinship for a certain season, there’s just something innate in us that means we’re more suited to one of the seasons more than any other. For me, it’s most definitely autumn. There are so many reasons why it’s the best season ever, but I’m sure that key to this is that it feels like an abrupt change from Summer, my absolute least favourite season. Autumn is epic because it means the return of cooler, darker evenings, but there are still bright and sunny days for us to enjoy, even with a chill in the air. It also means the excuse to wrap up and snuggle down. Simply put it’s bliss.

This year I want to make the most of my favourite season and make sure I experience it properly. With that in mind I’ve made an autumn bucket list featuring all the things I want to do over the next three months. I’m all for a list of things to tick off as I complete them. Isn’t there a complete joy in that?!

Fi’s Autumn Bucket List

*Buy more snuggly jumpers that allow the sleeves to be pulled over my hands
*Spend Sunday afternoon in front of a gorgeous log fire
*Go blackberry picking before making a homemade crumble
*Go pumpkin picking
*Have a pyjamas day and do nothing but knit and eat biscuits
*Embrace mittens attached by string
*Wander along the river marvelling at the city at night with my hands wrapped around a warming drink
*Take a day to watch all of the Harry Potter films
*Bake a proper Pumpkin Spice Loaf
*Go stomping around in the woods with the puppy and kicking the leaves all over the place
*Make a proper steak and ale pie with homemade pastry and an epic warming casserole
*Light candles and read while snuggled under a blanket
*Visit Richmond Park for an early morning walk

What’s on your Autumn bucket list?

Fi xx

In the Kitchen: Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich Biscuits

bake-off-biscuits

 

I love this time of year, the leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air and The Great British Bake Off is back on television. I love the GBBO. There’s something so magical about this type of TV, on paper it shouldn’t work, and yet in the great British way of things it totally does. I watched last week’s biscuits week in awe of all the marvelous bakes that were occurring. I was also a little sad, because I hadn’t planned my life well enough to have baked goods with me for viewing.

Well not this week. This week I decided that I would have to make some biscuits ready for the viewing of Bake Off. So that’s what I did, I made sandwich biscuits on Sunday night, and managed to save some for snacking on during Tuesday night’s bread week. I saw the recipes for these biscuits online awhile ago, so they seemed like the perfect choice to bake for biscuit week of bake off blog along.

Ingredients

For the biscuits: 250g soft butter / 50g icing sugar, sifted / 250g plain flour / 50g cornflour / 25g cocoa

For the filling: 50g mascarpone / tsp pure vanilla extract / 110g icing sugar

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 17oC

For the biscuits: beat the icing sugar and butter together / sift in the flour and cornflour, then beat again / divide the mixture and add the cocoa powder to one of the halves / divide each of the two mixtures into 12 balls and place onto a lined baking tray / press each ball with the back of a fork / bake for 12-15 minutes.

For the vanilla filling: mix the three ingredients together.

Once the biscuits have cooled, sandwich them together with the vanilla flavoured filling. 

This recipe made a total of six vanilla and six chocolate sandwich biscuits.

biscuits-homemade

I feel like Paul Hollywood would be very happy with this bake. The biscuits are quite simple, with a lovely buttery texture, and then the icing comes in with a super sweet kick and the two work well together. I probably could have made each biscuit slightly smaller and then made more than just 12 so that’s one to remember next time I crack out this recipe.

If you want to see what other lovely bloggers are baking then check out the hashtag on twitter or instagram and head on over to Amanda’s blog for the rest of the link up.

*this recipe is from Sainsbury’s magazine, you can find it here.

Laura xx

Wishlists: Autumn Jumper Love

Now that we are in September we can totally talk about Autumn, right? For me Autumn is all about long walks in the woods, curling up under a blanket with a good book, and of course jumpers! My weekend wardrobe during Autumn and Winter basically consists of jeans and a jumper. I save the tights and dresses for the slightly smarter weekday situation and aim for pure comfort on Saturday and Sunday. This obviously means that I have quite a good jumper collection, but I am always looking for more. In my opinion too many jumpers is just not possible. Although my bank account would disagree, so in the hopes that I don’t keep buying all the jumpers I’ve decided to share my Autumn jumper wishlist with you. 

Autumn Jumper Wishlist
Is it crazy how many slogan jumpers there are out there right now? I’ve seen so many in the shops and on Instagram. The three in my Autumn jumper wishlist above are all from New Look and I’d happily wear all three of them. Spoiler alert: I’ve already purchased the yellow ‘sisterhood’ one, as I love it so much. And I don’t have a yellow jumper (or at least I didn’t until now)! Saying that if the mustard one from Joules falls into my wardrobe I am totally on board with that. They are two different very different shades of yellowafter all.

Looking at the above picture it looks like I have a bit of an obsession with grey jumpers. As exactly half of the jumpers on my Autumn jumper wishlist are grey! But grey is a classic colour right, and who cares if I have at least two, okay three grey jumpers already? If I had to pick just one I think I’d go for the chunkier one at the bottom right, as I love that lace up detail. What do you think? What would be your Autumn jumper of choice? 

Laura xx

In the Kitchen: Homemade Bread

The smell of fresh bread is one of my favourite smells in the whole world, I’m sure I’m not the only person to say that. I can’t walk past a bakery without looking longingly at the bread display and trying to convince myself that I need that loaf or baguette. It really is one of life’s simple pleasures. I don’t think I could live without it. Just for context, I’m typing this while eating slices of toasted tiger loaf which have been smothered in butter and strawberry jam! Apart from eating it, the second best thing about bread, is making it. Homemade bread is everything. There’s just something about working those few ingredients into a tasty treat that makes me happy. The kneading and working of the dough is a little like therapy, without the expense!

And then finally the smell of bread cooking in the oven and the way it permeates the rest of the house, it’s wonderful. It almost makes me giddy with happiness.

I make bread quite a lot but the only homemade bread recipe in existence on this blog is a Serrano Ham and Mozzarella Quick Bread from a past bake off blog along ages ago. What is puzzling to me is how much I love to make bread, and yet how little I’ve discussed it on here. Well that’s about to change as today I’m sharing my basic white loaf recipe.

Recipe for Homemade Bread

Ingredients:

450g strong plain flour
1 1/2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
300ml tepid water

Sift the flour and yeast together in a large bowl. Mix in salt and add the oil and water. Mix together to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or use a dough hook on a stand mixer. You want the dough to be smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover. Leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size. Alternatively: leave the dough in the fridge overnight.

Next lightly knead the dough before shaping into a loaf shape and placing on a floured baking tray. Leave to rise for a further 30 minutes.

Dust with flour and cut the top of the bread in a cross shape. Cook in a reheated oven (200C, 425F or Gas 7) for 40 minutes. Tap the bottom of the loaf to check it’s cooked – a cooked loaf will sound hollow.

Enjoy your freshly made homemade bread with lashings of butter and jam.

So there you have it. The simplest bread recipe there ever was. Go forth and enjoy some fresh baked goodness.

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #87

Hooray for Friday! How have the last seven days been for everyone? My week has been good, although it has felt like the longest week ever. I don’t know why that is. Maybe because people are all starting to return from their summer holidays or maybe it’s because I’ve got an upcoming holiday. Either way I’m not really complaining. This week has been a good one, there have been plenty of things that have kept me smiling and that are worth mentioning in this Friday favourites list.

The first thing to mention here is the past weekend. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but a trip to Leeds will always make it’s way onto the Friday favourites list. Fi and I headed up north to celebrate a tenth wedding anniversary. Aside from how old it made me feel, it was a lovely trip. It really was a flying visit, with less than 24 hours in the city. But that was enough time to explore, eat good food, drink delicious drinks and natter away for an evening. We also lucked out on the way home with our seats being moved into first class. While we didn’t get all the perks of first class, like the free gin, we did get the extra comfortable seats and extra leg room and I can certainly get used to that.

So Tuesday was a run day and I wasn’t feeling up for an early start, but I also hate running after work. I find it so hard to get home and then go out for a run, so instead I ran home from work. So number two on the Friday favourites list is a lovely six mile run through South London. It really, really cleared my head. Don’t you just love how running can do that? The pounding of feet and the beat of the music removes all the noise and helps bring clarity. Also I found a few conkers on my run across Clapham Common, which was excellent news. That should keep all the spiders out of the house now that the weather has changed.

Next on the list is a trip to Picturehouse Central with some friends from Wales. They’d had a day playing tourist in London so Fi and I met them for drinks at Picturehouse Central after work. Luckily for us the rain cleared up and we were able to bask in the sun on the roof terrace and catch up on all the things. There’s something wonderful about meeting up with friends that you’ve not seen in a long time and everything being as relaxed as it always was.

My Mum stopped by for dinner this week, with the dog, and made her excellent lasagna. Everyone must have their own favourite meals, right? Well this is one of mine. It’s probably in my top five meals of all time, so of course it makes it into the Friday favourites list this week. I don’t know how she does it, but the combination of pasta and tomato and beef is divine. Plus the crunchy top layer is the perfect, and worth fighting for!

We’ve only got half of Friday left and then it’s the weekend. Like I said, this has been a long week so a weekend is definitely needed. Aside from a long run (again) – hooray for half marathon training! – my only plans are puppy sitting. My parents are away so it’s the perfect excuse for time with the doggo. I’m doing Friday night and Saturday day and I can’t wait. Obviously they’ll be a long walk, or two because Little Miss Lunabean will demand it. I’m also hoping to possibly enjoy the Autumnal weather with piles of blankets, good coffee and some board game time. Hooray for weekend plans.

How has your week been? And what are your weekend plans? Do share, I hope you have a great one.

Laura xx