Out and About: Taste of Winter

So I’ve been a bit lax on this blog recently, but life has been so busy and I’ve not had time to type stuff up on here – so sorry about that! I will get better I promise! Anyway, let’s turn back to almost two weeks ago when I headed to Taste of Winter at Tobacco Docks in London. I was lucky enough to win tickets on Erica’s blog, courtesy of the kind folk over at Electrolux, to the first night of the festivities and it was brilliant!

A Christmas tree of meringues = GENIUS!

Something else that’s genius, decorating the tree with chocolate!

Festive cupcakes!

Look at the size of those cakes – amazing!

Before I start banging on about the ALL THE FOOD, can we just take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness that is Tobacco Docks? Having never been there I didn’t know what to expect so I just assumed that it would be like every other exhibition thing, a soulless dingy massive room, with lots of partitions. I could not have been more wrong, well I suppose there were partitions but the partitions and stalls were in these beautiful old brick warehouse building, with gorgeous arches, high ceilings and small hidden rooms tucked away in a warren of a building. The docks have been lovingly and sensitively restored and definitely hark back to the era of their build. It’s a fascinating building, so when you add a bit of Christmas sparkle and cheer and you’ve got yourself one amazing Christmasy exhibition space. Well done Taste of Winter.

And now let’s get down to the important stuff…what did we see, what did we do and, most importantly, what did we eat? Well we eased ourselves in slowly with a wander around upstairs, tasting the cheeses and snapping pics of the cake and of course the obligatory ‘TASTE’ sign photograph. We skipped all the demonstrations because I’m impatient and wanted to get to the actual food, plus I worried I’d be the one person to mess up… After more browsing and tasting we bought our first ‘plates’: the ribs from Barbecoa and a chicken croquettes from another place that I’ve forgotten the name of… And boy were they good, I could have happily spent my remaining ‘crowns’ at those two stalls! Thankfully Lau persuaded me otherwise and we wandered around some more trying the tortilla crisps and umpteen Green and Black tasters before buying truffle mac ‘n cheese from The Ember Yard, a BBQ Pork Belly bun thing from Kurobuta, Ostrich curry from Assado, Pumpkin Donuts from Andina and my personal favourite Barbecoa’s sticky date pudding. Talk about a taste of heaven. It was so delicious.

So there we have it, my first experience of Taste of Winter and it was pretty awesome. Have you ever been, what were your favourite foodie bits to test?

– Fi xx

Out and About: The Harry Potter Studio Tour – The Third Time is a Charm*

On Saturday I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford for the third time in three years and it was AMAZING.

Months and months ago a friend started moaning about marrying a muggle and how, while he would go on the tour with her, visiting with him just wouldn’t be the same as going with true Potterheads. Well after that all the Potter fans around the table were jumping up and down like Hermione with the answer to the question and suggesting a group excursion. As soon as the decision was made we all realised that we wanted to visit at Christmas time and see Hogwarts in the snow – I mean who wouldn’t, right?!

So, the months passed and we pulled up outside lots J and K at Leavesden Studios. Just like the previous two times it was magical and interesting and fun and full of joy and just perfect! Have you been? If you’re a Potterhead like me you’ll love it. If you’re not I’m sure you still will. l found it super interesting to see how special effects, sets and costumes work and look in real life. It’s fascinating I tell you. Now I must warn you if you continue with this post you may indeed see spoilers that may reduce the amazingness of this tour if you one day do visit. Consider yourself warned!

This is just a very very small selection of photos from the day. There’s just so much to see and do as you wander through the tour area. Like I mentioned this was my third visit and I still saw things that I didn’t notice last time; the back window in Dumbledore’s office, old desks from the transfiguration classroom and of course the new dark arts exhibit. If you’re a Potter fan then you must visit.

Laura xx

*So the title of the post is possibly a little bit of a lie as it implies that the first two times I visited the studio tour I was less than impressed, which is so totally not the case. They were both epic! I think I could go every year and still love each visit. Maybe that’s what I’ll do.

In the Kitchen: Cheesy Pastry Apple Pie

A few weeks ago I was intrigued by the lovely Char’s post about an apple pie recipe. I know what you’re thinking, what’s so special about apple pie? After all it’s a standard recipe, especially in the autumn as things are getting cooler and darker. Well the special thing is the pastry on Char’s pie included cheese. Yes, that’s right, cheese pastry on an apple pie. Colour me intrigued. So I mentioned on Twitter or in the blog comments (I forget where) that I just had to give it a whirl myself and lo and behold the lovely people at Pilgrim’s Cheese sent me lovely cheese vouchers so that I could. Talk about kind! I’m never one to miss out on a baking session, especially when cheese is involved, so this week I made my cheese pastry and yumminess ensued.

Before I share what I made can we just remind ourselves of how stupidly easy pastry is to make – I mean you basically bung it all in a bowl, rub it in, add water and you’re done. Why do I always forget this? I always think it’s a hard thing to make, well not anymore! I will definitely remember how easy it is in future – I fear I might be making pastry ALL THE TIME from now on! I wonder what other lovely things I can make? Maybe mini chicken and ham pies, jam tarts (not with cheese though) oh and maybe nutella and banana somethings. Oh yummy, I feel some plans coming together!

So down to the food, to make the most delicious apple pie you will need

For the pastry…

  • 50g butter
  • 75g lard
  • 225g Plain flour
  • 75g grated Pilgrim’s Choice Mature Cheddar Cheese

For the filling…

  • 450g cooking apples – peeled and cored
  • 450g braeburn apples – peeled and cored
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

And all you do is:

  1. Cut the softened butter and lard up into small cubes and pop it in the bowl with the flour.
  2. Rub the flour and butter between your fingers until they form breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the grated cheese and a tbsp or so of cold water and bring the mixture together to form a dough. (See I told you pastry was easy peasy!).
  4. Slice your apples and pop them in your dish
  5. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture
  6. Cover with the pastry, add decoration (Christmas trees are a must at this time of year) and poke a hole in the middle for the steam to get out
  7. Cook on 220 degrees for 10 minutes
  8. Turn down the oven to 190 and cook for a further 40 minutes or until golden brown
  9. Serve with COLD (always cold) custard and enjoy

I can guarantee the pie is scrumptious and adding the cheese to the pastry gives it a real contrast in  flavours. Yummy! I enjoyed the pastry so much that I’m determined to try it on Michelle’s scrumptious sounding steak and ale pie in the future. Surely it can only be delicious?

So tell me, what’s your all time favourite pie filling, what should I try next?

– Fi xx

*Thanks to Pilgrims Choice for the yummy cheese for the recipe. I love cheese!

 

Out and About: Afternoon Tea at The Charlotte Street Hotel

Being thoroughly British means that I absolutely adore a spot of Afternoon Tea. It’s practically an institution in this country and I am always looking for a reason to sample tea from a new place. So when it came to deciding on a birthday treat for our Mum, my sisters and I were quickly in agreement, we just had to go for afternoon tea. Not only would the Mothership enjoy it, but we would too – selfish I know but a couple of hours eating cake and chatting over our teapots? Bliss.

After a hunt around we settled on The Bloomsbury Tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel, just off Tottenham Court Road in London. While it’s not one of the obvious London afternoon teas it was exactly what we were looking for. We planned to be wandering around London for most of the day so we decided that we didn’t want to go anywhere too posh. We wanted to enjoy the tea taking experience without all the pomp and circumstance if you will. You may find this a little odd seeing as we were celebrating a 60th birthday but actually Mum was all for a more relaxed tea too – phew!

Amazing afternoon tea with this trio. #london #afternoontea

A photo posted by @lau_evs on

So now down to the important stuff. What did we eat? Well this was a classic tea menu; sandwiches, scones and cake, but with a twist. Some of the options were just a little more exciting than the usual cucumber sandwiches and Victoria sponge cake.

Sandwiches; Crab & Avocado rolls, Brie and Apple sandwiches, Croque Monsieur, Prawn in a Marie Rose sauce sandwiches 

Scones; fruit and plain with jam and clotted cream

Cakes; Gin and Tonic Granita, Raspberry Cheesecake, Lemon Meringue Pie, Bitter Chocolate Ganache, Strawberry Pavlova

As for tea, we went with English Breakfast, Peppermint and Pistachio Iced Mochas. On a side note the scone option was very welcome as some odd members of my family don’t like raisins. Yes, seriously I speak the truth!

 

 

 

Laura xxx

Wishlists: In the Kitchen

The other day our kitchen scales broke. They were the really awesome free-standing kind that are metal with the silver bowl on top. Considering the amount of baking that gets done in the flat it’s a huge nightmare that we can no longer use them. On the plus side it’s meant I can start browsing the awesome kitchen sites that are filled with amazing items that I need in my life. Even though I haven’t quite found the perfect kitchen scales I have somehow found quite a few other bits and pieces…oops!

 

kettle / slate salad servers and bowlheart print glassespink pie dish / spotty mug  / pizza cutter / cake tinpineapple salt and pepper set / smeg fridge cake tin

The theme seems to be monochrome and red with a splash of metallic! I didn’t plan that, but somehow it happened anyway! So Santa, if you’re paying any attention to my corner of the internet please add some of these to my stocking…

Lau xx

 

Clothes Rail: It’s all about the Stripes

I love stripes. The fact that I own three black and white striped dresses and five blue and white striped tops makes that abundantly clear. Also the fact that, despite what’s already in my wardrobe, I still seek out striped tops and dresses whenever i’m in a clothes shop further supports this stripe love. What can I say, there’s something so simple and smart about stripes without having to make any effort whatsoever. I mean seriously what else looks well put together when you pair it with a statement necklace and skinny jeans? Not a lot, that’s for sure. Or correction, not a lot that doesn’t look super boring.

To continue this love affair with stripes I’m always pinning stripey outfits so I have inspiration about what to wear with my stripes. We wouldn’t want the outfit to get too samey would we! So here are some of my current favourite looks.

clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

As you can see I’m taking a lot of inspiration from the weather with the inclusion of blazers and plaid scarves that could also be rugs. So cosy right? How do you like to wear your stripey ensemble? What’s your current clothing obsession?

On Pinterest? And not yet following me? Well why not?! Head on over this way for lots of fun and pretty pins.

– Fi x

Life Rambles: The Last Seven Days in Numbers

The last week in the land of Fi was pretty special. The days have been non-stop and crazy and generally full-on and wonderful. They’ve also been exhausting, probably the reason I’ve  been in bed all day unable to do anything but sleep. Thankfully the rest and recuperation has worked its magic and I’m now feeling a little more human – hooray! So let’s take a look back at my week of awesome…

  • 7 days of fun
  • 1 film premiere where I ‘shared’ the red carpet with 14 film stars, as you do. I may have squealed on the inside when Jennifer Lawrence and Julianne Moore were just a metre away from me…
  • 3 Peppermint Mochas drunk (with the Christmas blend)
  • 2 new items from Joules – both stripy (of course)
  • 1 amazingly epic catch up over coffee and cake
  • 2 home-cooked meals in seven days
  • 3.5 hours in the car to and from Brighton for 1 meal
  • 1 family night in Carluccio’s eating all the pasta available
  • 1 night of catch ups with ex-colleagues
  • 32 floors above London enjoying the view at Centrepoint
  • 2 Christmas sandwiches eaten and enjoyed
  • 1 afternoon tea featuring: 4 different types of sandwiches, 1 granita, 2 scones and 4 mini cakes
  • 5 wonderful new authors that I got to meet and natter with during 1 evening of delicious canapes
  • 1 amazing meal of Dim Sum. The sweet pork dumplings were to die for. I may have eaten three…
  • 7 miles of walking around London exploring everything
  • 1 delicious birthday celebration meal in a gastro pub
  • 2 new electrical products – the Jawbone Up 24 (more on that soon) and a new phone – the iPhone 6 in case you’re wondering

So tell me, what have you been up to?

Fi xx

Life Rambles: Recently Pinned

Gosh, I love Pinterest. Isn’t it just a never-ending source of wonderfulness? I could (and do) waste hour upon hour browsing all its loveliness. Above are a few of my favourite pins from the last few weeks. As you can see it’s all about Christmas, food, quotations and house loveliness. With a cute puppy thrown in too.

Bookshelf & Fireplace / Copper LightsQuizzical Puppy

Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies / What’s For You Quote / Patchwork Quilt

Christmas Jumper / Merry & Bright DIY / Workout T-Shirt

Fireplace & Trunk / If Not Now Quote / Crock Pot Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Are you on Pinterest? Drop me your links in the comments below, I’m always on the lookout for new people to follow.

Laura xxx

Smiley Happy Things: My Top 10 of Now

photo via Death to the Stock Photo

Good morning friends. Today I wanted to share a little list of the things that are making me smile at the moment. I guess you could, and we will, call it My Top 10 of NowCider with Rosie, Bright Bazaar and Daydreams of Summertime all do their own versions of this and I thought that I might jump on the bandwagon every now and then too. Fi already has her monthly Smiley Happy Things updates, and while I don’t want to join in on these, I do want to write this post. I don’t know if it will become a (semi) regular occurrence, or not. For now it’s just good to look at the little things that brighten up the days.

I’ve started using my cafetiere a lot more on the weekends (I don’t have enough time on a weekday morning to properly utilise it) and the smell is just heavenly. Post run relaxing with coffee while flicking through the latest copy of Delicious magazine? It’s my new favourite thing.

The youngest sibling is home from uni for the week which means that the three Evans sisters have been catching up properly. It’s 100 times better than weekly Skype dates.

Making Christmas Plans. The gift list is ever changing with new things being added and other being ticked off all the time. I’ve started the gift making and pre-Christmas catch ups and ice skating trips are making the way into the diary.

Staying on the Christmas theme, I think this year’s John Lewis Christmas Advert with Monty the penguin might be my favourite yet. Also the Coca Cola advert is back on our screens – hooray to that!

Over the weekend I headed up to Notting Hill and had a mooch around. It’s just so pretty – those pastel hue houses made me smile. I can’t believe this is my first ever visit to the area. I mean I’ve lived either in or within 30 miles of London for my whole life. It really is poor on my part!

London at Night. The best things about these darker nights means that I commute home in the dark. Yes it’s a bit miserable and I do miss the daylight, but seeing the sights of London lit up from my bus window is truly magical.

This week has been tough, but the light at the end of the tunnel has been catching up with lovely people. Coffee and cake with friends, birthday celebrations and lunches where you set the world to rights. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Starbucks peppermint mochas are amazing. No more words needed!

Also this week I had my first Pret Christmas sandwich of the year. They are so good. The crispy onions are my favourite part. These will definitely be a weekly occurrence over the next few weeks.

And finally I’m excited to be spending today in London with my fabulous Mum and equally amazing sisters. The Mumbles has just turned 60 so we’re treating her to a day in London town.

 

photo – Riley Briggs via Unsplash

Laura xxx

Wishlist: The Autumn Edit

Morning you lovely lot and happy Monday. I hope you’re all having a good start to the week?

Seeing as how we are now 14 days into November (what what?!) Fi and I decided that it was time for another wishlist post, the last one was way back in August! This one is all about the warm stuff, those fluffy, cuddly things that will get us through the cold snaps that are starting to occur – the fact that the cold is only just occurring when we are in November is amazing.

So here it is, my current wishlist…

 

Wishlist: The Autumn Edit

 

This ASOS dress has been in my saved items for so long, but I think now might be the time to bite the bullet and buy it. The colour reminds me of autumn leaves, so it should really be worn in Autumn. Right? I’m a huge fan of the ASOS skater dresses, and I love the textured detail on this one and that it’s a longer length than my normal dresses.

We all know I’m jumper obsessive, so of course at least one must appear on this wishlist. I tried this jumper from H&M on the other day, in the cognac brown colour (which is basically my favourite mustard) and it was so snuggly. I simply love everything about it, the colour, shape and texture. Also wouldn’t it look amazing paired with the autumnal dress and brown boots? I’m in outfit heaven right now! The only slight issue with the jumper is that I saw someone wearing it in the office the other day, which means I’d have to be careful when wearing it to work – I really don’t fancy taking part in an unexpected ‘who wore it better’ contest!

I’ve never owned a pair of knee-high boots, but this year I’m thinking I should take the plunge and go for it. I’m in love with these Lindley charm tan leather boots. Yes, they are pricey, but are definitely worth it.

Staying on the brown leather train I should mention the beautiful leather shopper bag. For the past 3 weeks I’ve been borrowing Fi’s bag which is very similar to this and actually from Zara too. You see it turns out that I don’t have any winter appropriate bags. I’m talking big enough to throw all my winter woolies (scarf, hat & gloves) and with a zip to protect from the rain. This would be perfect. But at almost £90 it’s a bit pricey, so there’s no way I can be buying the boots and the bag this month. Maybe one, or both, need to move to my Christmas list instead? Watch this space…

 

Wishlist: Autumn Warmers

 

Now onto the warm stuff! Let’s face it the temperature has plummeted recently, which means all I want to do is curl up warm and hibernate somewhere. So that’s what the second selection above is all about! The fact that I have an obsession with owls and pyjamas means that I had to include these Owl Print Pyjamas from M&S. They are just the perfect combination, plus in the red and white colour they even have a Christmas feel to them – or is that just me?!

Snuggly socks = heaven. Snuggly socks + reindeers? I’m in Christmas heaven. Nothing else needs to be said! Along with these socks I also need this wheat pug. I have a small collection of wheat animals to warm me up in the winter weather, so I don’t need another one. But this pug is too cute to ignore!

Finally, it turns out there’s such a thing as Alphabet scarves. I need this L one in my life. If only it wasn’t such a dreary blue…

 

And Fi’s…

 

Untitled #27

 

Now that I’ve found the perfect winter coat and boots – and in the sale no less, hooray! – I can turn my attention to the important things – like winter woolies! So top of my autumn wishlist is a pair of mittens, these mittens, that mean you can use your fingers and still keep the rest of your hand warm, are a must as the colour combo is lovely. And of course I need a snuggly scarf to go with new gloves, that’s where this sparkly grey scarf comes in. It looks mahoosive and just perfect for early chilly wanders to the tube!

In my humble opinion it’s impossible to have too many Christmas jumpers and one that’s not all up in your face with its Christmas design is often a sensible idea. That way you can get away with wearing it in Autumn – I’m definitely about the Christmas love all year-long! So what’s needed is this subtle Christmas jumper that people won’t have a go at me for wearing! ps. In LOVE the holly theme!

Finally these heeled brogues, a variation on the ones on the last wishlist, need to be purchased as I know I’ll get so much wear from them during the colder weather. They’re just that perfect combination of practicality (no wet feet, smart but not too smart) and gorgeousness. Must buy this soon instead of just talking about it!

Untitled #26

Looking at the above it appears I’ve had a little moment in the Oasis site and couldn’t leave without wanting all of the things. But in my defence this lip skirt and this winter rose skirt will be just perfect with my new boots and coat and black tights this autumn. They’ll be super easy to look awesome, which is totally my goal  in life! As for the baroque floral dress, yes another Oasis item(!), just look at it! It’s so pretty and the material looks perfect for autumn. I need it.

A snuggly grey cardigan is also needed for those days when it’s chilly in the office and you need another layer, but you don’t want to bung on that old gap jumper (like I’d ever do that…!). This chunky knit from Fat Face would fit the bill perfectly don’t you think? And if I was to pair it with this padded gilet and some skinny jeans I’d be set for an autumnal walk, so let’s add that one to the list too!

So, tell us, what’s on your Autumn wishlist and what treats have you already purchased!

– Fi xx