Tuesday, May 20

Gooey Toffee Brownies

Since having my own kitchen and utensils, I have really dived into cooking and baking, there's something extremely relaxing about cooking up your favourite delights or experimenting with new meals/deserts. So, knowing that Ben is a huge fan of brownies and cookies in general (an American boy at heart); I cooked up a batch of gooey toffee brownies. And yes, I did get the recipe from the ever-so-brilliant BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes. This is a must have cookery book! Or if you don't want to wait to bake these brownies, see their recipe here

These bad boys went in no time, they were dangerously delicious if I do say so myself. So good I had to pull myself away from licking the mixing bowl clean!

Thursday, May 15

Interior | Home Office

One thing I've always dreamed of is designing my own office when I got my own place. There's something about the office that represents your personality, where you are able to be as creative as you want; because you have to feel inspired in your work space in order to be productive! So as Ben and I have been in our new home for a few months, we are planning on creating an office where both of us can work, Ben designing for joinery and carpentary; whilst I'll be burrowing into books and no doubt procrastinating on blogs (whilst in theory I should be doing university work). The items I've chosen are suitable for both of us to work in; apart from the pink filing cabinet which can be purchased in duck egg blue: these items are harmonious for both sexes. 

2. Always hanging clock. (£62.48)

3. Airedale illustration. (£13.93+)

4. Rustic storage desk. (£294.71)

5.  White waste-can. (£21.85)

10. Acrylic magazine rack. (£24.95)

Tuesday, May 13

The Blue Mallard

Every once in a while Ben and I love to indulge in a meal out, whether its somewhere we've never been before or a old favourite, more often than not it's an old favourite we always revisit. Although I really enjoy cooking dinner with Ben and relaxing with home cooked food and a chilled glass of white wine, there's something exciting about switching things up a bit and letting someone else do the cooking. 

So we only deemed it necessary that we go to our favourite restaurant, The Blue Mallard to enjoy a late lunch, where we (over)indulged in a 3 course lunch. But hey, what's a girl to do?!

So we cracked open the fresh French white wine, sinking into our chairs as we deliberated what to order. The ambiance inside The Blue Mallard is so relaxing and oozes sophistication with its high ceilings, exposed beams and oak furniture. And not to forget, all of the food is homemade!
Eventually we made our minds up and for starters I had Chicken Liver and Port Parfait whilst Ben tucked into a fancy salad which I unfortunately cannot remember the name of! However I can promise you that it was delicious, as I had a cheeky test of it. 
For mains I was adventurous and opted for the Crispy braised pork belly, garden herb mash, sauté of black pudding, roast pear and sage jus meal which was outstanding; I am going to definitely try and cook pork belly for Ben soon, we enjoyed it that much! Ben's meal was just as yummy as he ordered the 12 hour confit leg of lamb; so tender and flavorsome!
Although we weren't planning on having a desert, once we were handed the desert menus we couldn't resist having the raspberry and strawberry meringue and the vanilla rice pudding and fresh berries. 

After stuffing ourselves, we paid our dues and had a leisurely walk to take in the fresh air and relieve our full tummies. We ended the night snuggled up watching The Break Up, an utter classic. 

Sweater: Mango // Jeans: Hollister // Boots: Zara // Bag: Mulberry // Watch: Michael Kors // Jewellery: Tiffany

Sunday, May 11

Weekly Musings

With exam season well and truly underway, I have been keeping myself motivated throughout the week by sticking to a timetable and then also ensuring that I still enjoy myself in my breaks. However I have a tendency for having too-long-'a-break when I'm musing through blogs or checking out Asos' new collections. However I'm sure you don't want to hear about my book-worm activities, so I'll keep to the fun stuff.

1. Book shops, especially the interior design section where you feel endlessly inspired. 

2. Waking up early, something which Ben and I do every week day, but for some reason my body clock has adjusted to this and as a result I wake up around 7am on a weekend. 

3. The sound of rain pattering on the windows: a common encounter living in Britain.

4. Having no unhealthy food in the house; therefore avoiding that mid-afternoon lust for junk food.

5. Rediscovering old series from my teens; such as The Hills and 90210 - and the fashion choices mid 2000's, nostalgia at its best.

6. Recycling Ben's old tees as my pajamas, i.e. snug as a bug in a rug.

7. Homemade scones, served warm with butter and raspberry jam ... de-lic-ious.

8. Dinner parties and hosting evenings in, as I am a homebug, this is my sorta' thang.

9. Finding hidden gems in the place where you live, Ben and I found a quant little cafe which we are planning on visiting some time soon!

10. Ebay, whether you're selling or buying, Ebay is a great online shop. Ben & I have just sold our old oven, fireplace and coffee machine. Saving up those pennies never felt so good! Goodbye unwanted items :-)

What has been making you happy this week? I'd love to know what main things inspire you!

Thursday, May 8

A Guide to Istanbul

Good morning! I hope you're having a great week so far and that you are looking forward to the weekend ahead. I know I am, on Friday Ben and I are having my brother and his girlfriend over for her belated birthday celebration. I think I may just remake the carrot cake I made last week as it was such a hit! Or I'd be fascinated to hear of any of your favourite cakes/dream birthday cake as I just love cooking and getting flour all down my Cath Kidston apron!

Anyways, giving that it's Thursday and over on Instagram there'll be no doubt lots of #throwbackthursday snaps; I want to share with you my guide to Istanbul. I seriously cannot believe it was a month ago that I was enjoying the sites and culture of Istanbul; and now I'm, well, revising for my exams this month. 

For this guide I am going to keep it real simple, with the top five places/things I would recommend seeing whilst you visit and then giving you the low-down on costs and whatnot as we all need to face the financial reality of a city break.

2. Galata Tower: If you aren't too scared of heights and you want a panoramic view of Istanbul then head on up the lift to the top of Galata Tower. This tower was built in 1348 and was formally known as the Tower of Christ, intended to watch over the Golden Horn of the Bosphorus River. Also, if you're a bit peckish, and don't want to get blown away, head inside and enjoy a extravagant lunch full of delightful treats and enjoy the view while you eat. 

3. Topkapi Palace Museum: This place is an absolute must for all art lovers, architectures, historians and theologians. This museum, which is more accurately multiple museums in one grand botanical garden has outstanding artifacts, claiming to have Muhammad's tooth and also Moses' staff. Also, the jewels are phenomenal, making fine jewels in a jewellery shop look amateurish. I have seriously never seen anything like it before, gold and emerald encrusted beds are just the start of it!

4. Galata Mevlevihanesi: Not the most touristy of places but you seriously need to visit this museum of tranquility when you visit, when I visited it was a beautifully warm spring morning and was able to really appreciate the gardens; and the snoozing cats lying around the gardens. You can also book to watch the Whirling Dervishes in action, taking you back in time and experiencing the culture.

5. Bosphorus River Cruise: Although not exactly a sight in itself, once you depart from the docks you literally have the best sights of Istanbul from the river, so be sure to bring along your camera and snap, snap away! However just some cautionary advice, go to the docks at Zoe Yacht Bosphorus Cruise Istanbul, here a return journey will cost you 10 Turkish lire, rather than the extortionate prices advertisers elsewhere. A good sign is with this cruise is the locals use it, therefore you know you're getting your money's worth. Hop off at any island and enjoy a leisurely lunch people watching and taking in the fresh air, whilst enjoying fresh, local cuisine. 

Let's get down to the nitty gritty prices, what you have to consider at all times is the exchange rate, when a dish is for 26 Turkish lire, do not have a heart attack, divide it by the exchange rate, which is on average for GBP 3.5 so really your meal is costing you £7.40 something. You can really enjoy yourself in Istanbul and live a leisurely lifestyle without breaking the bank (if your exchange rate is good that is). 

I hope you enjoyed this guide to Istanbul, all the of the top 5 sights are linked up if your wandering eyes wish to muse :-) 

Tuesday, May 6

May Mood Board

May is well and truly upon us now and I am overjoyed as I adore warm weather and all the summery things that come with it; apart from wasps, I hate wasps. But I can cope with them if it means warm evenings, indulgent picnics and long evening walks. So I have assembled an array of different things which I'm looking forward to enjoying in the following months. 

What are you most excited about this Summer?

Sunday, May 4

Weekly Musings

This week I came across a shocking revelation: my final week of second year at university is over. I thought I had another week left of lectures, only to find all the revision and final lectures were this week. I am relieved yet sad to be saying farewell to my second year, I guess I'm a big girl now, going into third year with a whole lot of dissertation work to be cracking on with. Anyway, apart from all my day-to-day stuff, I have still been able to appreciate non-work things despite the craziness. Hope you've had  a good week!

1. Weekly shops. Yes, you heard read me right. A bit of an odd thing to enjoy, let alone put at the top of your list, but it really feels so good to get out there into the big wide supermarket and buy all the fruit, veg and other tasty treats you've been running out of over the week. I think this week my trolly was full of nuts, my new snack and (not so secret) obsession.

2. Watching the making of Beyonce's visual album, although you may not think it could be possible, you will love her even more after watching it!

3. The Other Woman movie which is the ultimate chic flick, if you haven't already, you need to see it. I think Cameron Diaz should have her own bullet point on this week's Weekly Musings; as I think I may have a girl crush.

4. Letting my hair dry naturally, although I do love styling it with the hair dryer, I am loving the natural look at the minute.

5. Avocados. Tried them for the first time this week and me and Ben are huge fans! (They were in my trolly also).

6. When I'm not reading my favourite blogs, I source my inspiration from Pinterest. (Find my account here).

7. Bank Holiday Weekends. This weekend being one of them, with tomorrow being a full day of relaxtion and maybe a picnic at the beach with Ben and Dirty Harry.

8. Long showers, you could be anywhere in the world when you're in a hot shower. It's the perfect treat (and must have) after a long run with the girls.

9. Pink nail polish makes you feel all that more feminine.

10. Fresh bed linen; the best feeling ever to get into a fresh bed.

Thursday, May 1

Carrot Cake

Ever since I tasted Carrot Cake at the cafe where I work part time, I was hooked ever since. Whenever the chefs brought out a fresh, warm Carrot Cake from the oven, I would longingly wish to cut a piece for myself. However, if I did do that, I would be 200lbs and there'd be no cake left for the customers! So, over the weekend whilst Ben was busy doing work, I whipped up my first Carrot Cake, with a pot of steaming Earl Grey and arranged the garden furniture; I know, I am becoming quite the domestic goddess! It wasn't too long before Harry was imitating my longing face I do at the Cafe, wishing he could sit with us and enjoy afternoon tea. But let's get onto the magic that is the icing, this was delicious to say the least and the Ginger Buttercream Icing accompanied the Carrot Cake perfectly. I think Ben thought so too, as he indulged in a second slice. Definitely a cake worth making and find out how to below! (Oh, and by the way, I can take no credit for this recipe, it's all due to the ever so amazing BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes cookbook).


The Carrot Cake:

175g/6oz light muscovado sugar
175ml/6fl oz sunflower oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
140g/5oz  grated carrot (about 3 medium carrots)
100g/4oz raisins
grated zest of 1 large orange
175g/6oz self-raising flower
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg (freshly grated will give you the best flavour)

The Ginger Spiced Buttercream Icing:

140g of butter, softened (a generous 1/2 cup or 5 ounces)
280g of sifted icing sugar (2 cups)
1 TBS milk
1 TBS syrup from a jar of preserved ginger
(alternately you can use 2 TBS milk and 1/2 tsp ground ginger)


Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. 
Oil and line the base and sides of an 18cm/7in square tin (or any tin/cake mold of your choice!)
Tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs.
Lightly mix, then stir in the grated carrots, raisins and orange rind.
Mix the flour, soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. 
Lightly mix all the ingredients.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press in the centre. 
Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack.
To make the frosting beat all of the ingredients together until the mixture is creamy.   Spread this on top of the cake.  Serve at room temperature.