Saturday 31 December 2016

Blogger Identity Issues

I'm having identity issues as a blogger

I'm a "food blogger".  I slipped into that label not long after I started my blog as most of my posts were about food.  I love food, I love cooking, I love visiting places that feed me and I love trying new things that are food related.

But I also like cats, candles, history, nail varnish, books, dresses, wine, films, technology, face creams, exploring London and napping.  Not so much make up - I'm utterly rubbish at that.

I didn't set out with the idea to start this blog as a food blog.

I've been a "food blogger" for so long and felt that every post needs to be food related but I'm starting to feel it's really limiting me on what I post and how often I post.  Lately I've been so busy with work that I can't even be bothered to make a meal from scratch, never mind coming up with a new recipe, taking pictures of it and writing about it.  I've been a pretty crappy food blogger lately which is what made me think about what sort of blogger I want to actually be and why I want to do it.

Monday 26 December 2016

52 in 2016 - a Reading Challenge

Not normally one for New Years resolutions, I set myself a 2016 "challenge" rather than a resolution because I think that maybe the word "challenge" will make me more likely to do something...That challenge was to read 52 books in 2016.  That's one a week for people who might be mathematically impaired like me...I thought this was a sensible goal as once I curl up with a book, I can easily fly through the whole thing in a day.

So how did I do?

Sunday 25 December 2016

Pigs in Duvets

A twist on the classic Christmas pigs in blankets - chipolatas wrapped in streaky bacon snuggled with cranberry sauce in flaky pastry

Pigs in blankets are pretty special, right?  What's not to love about mini sausages wrapped in bacon, aka "pigs in blankets".  I'll tell you what - pigs in duvets.  And not just pigs in duvets, pigs in duvets snuggled up with a cranberry sauce hot water bottle.

I had a lightbulb moment when I was dreaming back to last Christmas.  We had some leftover pigs in blankets (what kind of monsters are we to have leftovers?!) and I made sandwiches with them and they were the best thing my tastebuds experienced that Christmas.  Honestly, give it a go!  Anyway, I was thinking about pig in blanket sammies and then I was also thinking about sausage rolls and then thought how amazing it would be to combine the two.

Sunday 11 December 2016

Assumption Abbey Fruitcake

Assumption Abbey fruitcake - a rich, dense cake loaded with soaked fruits, nuts and spices made by Trappist monks in Ava, Missouri

It seems as though most people, especially avid bakers, have their "go to" traditional recipe for Christmas fruitcake.  Not this family.  We don't want to spend hours in the kitchen soaking fruits, baking, sloshing alcohol over a cake at regular intervals or anything like that.  This family gets their Christmas fruitcake baked by monks.  When I say "we", I mean my mum and this is all about her obsession newish tradition of getting a 2lb fruitcake from Assumption Abbey.

Now you may think that the monks are baking a cake especially for my mum but this isn't the case - they bake around 25,000 a year!  My mum loves their cakes so much that I'd like to think they can sense that when her yearly order comes through and when it's time to top the cake being sent to her with fruit and nuts that they add a little extra love to it.

Saturday 5 November 2016

Photo a Day 2016: October

I've hit the time of year where everything I do and think about is work related as I work in the glorious world of retail.  We've now hit "peak" so the whole team have been furiously planning for the most epic time of the retail year.  The plans are now being put into action to make sure our wonderful customers have some fantastic products to choose from and will hopefully be impressed with some of the great deals that will be happening!

So yeah...blogging (and most other things) have been put on the back burner for the moment but have still been having a *bit* of fun - here's what I was up to in October...

Tuesday 20 September 2016

30th Celebrations in London

I've been saving this post for a while because although it's about birthday celebrations, the birthday in question wasn't actually happening until today...

My little sis turns 30!  Happy B-day, B!

A few years ago we all met up in London to celebrate my mum's birthday so plans were made to do the same again this year.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Simply Ice Cream - I Scream for Ice Cream!

Simply Ice Cream review - a range of ice creams from Kent produced by hand in small batches using local, quality ingredients.

If someone asks you if you want to try ice cream in one of the hottest weeks of the year, there isn't much decision making to be made.  Not for me anyway because I'm somewhat of a sucker for ice cream.

Simply Ice Cream got in touch with me to see if I would be interested in reviewing some of their natural ice cream.  I loved the sound of their flavours (I'll get to those in a bit) and how all of their ice creams are made by hand in small batches using only simple, natural and local ingredients.  Obviously I said, "yes please!" and then waited excitedly for my delivery to arrive as instead of asking for specific flavours (or ALL of them...), I asked them to surprise me so had no idea what was coming.

Saturday 3 September 2016

Photo a Day 2016: August

I've been slacking again.  I skipped two months of my "photo a day" posts, I've hardly spent any time in the kitchen and I'm well off track on my 2016 reading challenge.  It's been super busy at work and it's been hot and...ok, ok, I'm just making excuses...

August is kind of the bridge between my least favourite season (summer) and my favourite season (autumn) but it's been a hot month and has only now started to feel that autumn is actually on its way.  I love autumn because you can wear more layers, you can snuggle up under a blanket and tis the season for comfort food!  Oh, and Great British Bakeoff starts again...hurrah!

Sunday 21 August 2016

My Homemade Guacamole

My go-to recipe for fresh, homemade guacamole.  A simple mix of avocado, spring onion, coriander/cilantro, tomato and lime - perfect for dunking chips in, topping a burger with or as a side for brunch.

I love snacking, don't you?!  It's even better when what you're snacking on is actually pretty healthy and not just a bag of crisps or other junk, right?  Cue fanfare and enter homemade guacamole and tortilla chips!  The best thing about both of these is that you can make a fairly decent size batch of both which will keep for days in airtight containers so you always have something to hand if you need something to nibble on.

Everyone who loves guac probably has their own prefect recipe.  I'm sure it's tasty but I'm telling you, mine is the tastiest ;)  I've been lazy and bought guacamole from the supermarket but it really doesn't compare to making it from scratch - homemade is much more fresh and zingy taste than anything made on a production line.

Saturday 30 July 2016

Afternoon Tea at BB Bakery, Covent Garden

A review of afternoon tea at BB Bakery in Covent Garden. Tea, savoury treats, cakes, pastries and scones are all part of the experience in this cafe just around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden Market.

We all love afternoon tea, don't we?  It's one of those totally English things that tourists and locals alike enjoy doing - teeny tiny sandwiches (crusts cut off, of course!), dainty little cakes and pastries, a pot of steaming tea and let's not forget the scones!  Before I continue, clotted cream or jam first?  If you tell me you like jam first then we're just not going to be friends.

So afternoon tea started around the reign of Victoria - dinner had been pushed back to 6-ish so everyone needed something in the afternoon to get them through to the main meal of the day.  It was also a great opportunity to get together with your chums for a bit of a chin wag or, as it wasn't such a formal meal as dinner, you could invite your daughter's potential suitor over to weigh him up.

Sunday 3 July 2016

Kintan Japanese BBQ, Holborn

Kintan Japanese BBQ in Holborn review.  Kintan is the first yakiniku-style restaurant in London.  Cook your own bite sized pieces of meat or seafood on the grill set in the table and enjoy with other small dishes, rice and noodles on the extensive menu

We had tickets to see Bill Bailey at the Hammersmith Apollo (he is a very talented and funny man, by the way!) so I met up with Mr Jones for some post-work/pre-show chow.  As it was not far from work and close to the tube station we needed, Mr J suggested going to Kintan Japanese BBQ.  Japanese?  BBQ?  Yes please!  Normally when I visit somewhere new I pour over the menu hours (or days...) before I get there and read up on the place so I know what to expect.  As this was an unplanned stop I had no idea what to expect and didn't even really realise that it was a BBQ until we got to our table..."ooo...what's that?  A grill?  In our table?!  Awesome!"

Kintan is a little deceiving from the outside - quite narrow and simple.  Once you walk through the door it's completely different.  Cozy booths, modern decor and surprisingly spacious with the dining area split across two floors.  The kitchen is open which I always think is a good sign as you can have a bit of a nosy at what's going on in there!

Sunday 12 June 2016

Photo a Day 2016: May

May is always a pretty good month for me, mostly because it's the month I add another year to my age and usually get to celebrate being "birthday princess" with all sorts of fun things and treats.   This May saw us taking a river boat ride to Kingston, a trip to the aquarium followed by our first ever theatre show ("Woman in Black", highly recommended!) plus a foodies festival just around the corner.

Saturday 4 June 2016

Magic Baking Tin Review

The Magic Baking Tin - imagine being able to bake multiple shapes with only one tin...It comes with 21 pieces which can be linked together with 12 connecting pins enabling you to mould your cakes, cheese cakes, breads and pies into over 100 different shapes

The trend for baking has really taken off since The Great British Bake Off hit our screens in 2010, with over 2 million people tuning in for the initial showstopper challenges and a whopping 12 million people waiting to see Nadiya crowned the latest queen of baking last year.  It's no surprise that baking equipment has also seen a growth in popularity with retailers seeing sales in cake tins, cookie cutters and other tools double, triple, quadruple...

This is all great news for budding bakers and kitchen connoisseurs alike but with all of these nifty things available but you might start to find your cupboards become a bit jam-packed with different shapes and sizes of cake and bread tins.  What if you could find one tin that could magically transform from one shape to another so you didn't have to have one mould for every occasion?  Let me introduce you to the Magic Baking Tin!

Saturday 28 May 2016

Foodies Festival, Syon Park

Foodies Festival, Syon Park - Masterchef chefs doing cooking demonstrations, street food, drink tents, BBQs...everything you love about food in one beautiful park!

A beautiful sunny May morning and I had a date with ALL the food.  Today was the first of three days of the Foodie Festival at Syon Park so smothered myself with sun screen and headed over to the park to see what foodie delights awaited...

If you've never been to Syon Park, it's a real gem of a place - the big open green space smack bang in the middle of Isleworth somehow feels like you're in the middle of the countryside even though Heathrow airport is only about 7 miles away.  Wafts of BBQ hit me before I even got to the road leading through the park so I quickened my pace to get to the food!

I'll just warn you now; there are quite a few photos, all of my favourite bits, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed seeing everything in real life!

Sunday 1 May 2016

Photo a Day 2016: April

Happy May, everyone!   It's finally beginning to feel a bit more like spring and Instagram is "blossoming" with everyone's pictures of flowers and green things.  There's been a lot of things popping up in social media about wild garlic - I need to find out where I can find some locally because I'm desperate to try some as this is the best time of year to pick the stuff.

April was a pretty quiet month but seemed to feature a lot of food...burgers, steak, baked treats at work and quite a bit of katsu!  How was your month?

Friday 22 April 2016

Degustabox: March 2016

I received my first Degustabox last month and was pretty excited.  A box full of goodies delivered right to my door?!  Yes please!  I tell a lie - it wasn't delivered to my door because I wasn't in that day but they have a handy-dandy option to have it delivered to a selection of local businesses that stay open later so picked it up from there...

Anyhoot, March came around and it was time for my second delivery.  I'll be honest, I wasn't that keen on some of the things that came in the previous box but I'm all for second chances so had my fingers crossed for the contents of the second box.  I collected my box and was excited to see what was inside.  As was one of my kitties...

Sunday 17 April 2016

Sushi Manga, Whitton

Sushi Manga in Whitton (near Twickenham) serve fresh sushi, hot dishes such as rice, noodles and cats, sushi boxes, soups, salads and sides.

When you move to a new area, the number one thing on your "to-do" list is to find your new "go-to" takeaways, right?!  Ok, maybe not the first thing to do but certainly quite high on the list...One of the first places I visited when we moved here in September was Sushi Manga - it had me at "sushi".  I've tried quite a few takeaways in the area, some good, some not so good but Sushi Manga has been a regular on the "I can't be bothered to cook tonight but still want to eat something tasty and not expensive" list.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Photo a Day 2016: March

March absolutely flew by!  It could have been because it finally felt like spring with blue skies, shining sun and brighter mornings.  I think it was probably because I got up to quite a lot - a week off work relaxing, a trip to London, lots of things going on at work...

March is a great month for food!  The start of spring means lots of my favourite greens - spinach, artichoke, broccoli...lamb is also tasty this time of year and perfect for an Easter Sunday roast!

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Classic Chilli con Carne

Classic Chilli con Carne - a simple recipe for this Mexican style dish which is perfect comfort food and great for freezing and eating as leftovers!

Chilli is such a simple dish but so comforting and filling (not to mention great for using as leftovers for lunch the following day!).  Everyone seems to have their own recipe and their own twist on this classic.  And is it "chili" or "chilli"?!  

I'll be totally open - I usually just get one of those sachets with seasoning and add it to canned tomatoes but isn't it much nicer to make something from scratch?!

Sunday 27 March 2016

Pig's Ears, Richmond

Pig's Ears in Richmond offers a huge variety beers from independent breweries, craft beers and not to mention the finest ribs I've tasted in a long time.  Read on for my review!

After a day on our feet wandering around the Tower of London we were famished.  We were going to go to a place near Waterloo but it was all booked up.  Then we decided to stop off in Richmond on the way home to a restaurant we've wanted to go to for a while but they were fully booked too!  Sigh.  I then remembered a little place I'd noticed the last time we were in Richmond so we had a wander and with fingers crossed hoped they would be able to serve us food.  Blink and you'll miss it, Pig's Ears is down a little stairway below street level but next time you're in Richmond make sure you keep an eye out...

Friday 25 March 2016

Tourists Together: Tower of London

A tourist day in London: having lived in London for almost 6 months now we decided we needed to get to know the city better and what better way to do it than be tourists!  Tower of London - old tour guides in the White Tower

Having now lived in London for almost half a year, Mr Jones and I felt it only right that we take some time to actually spend time in the City and appreciate it - I work in West London, he works more centrally but all we see of this amazing place are the day-to-day sights on our commutes.  What better way to explore than to spend a day as tourists?!

We originally planned to visit a few places - the Tower of London was a definite and then possibly the Churchill War Rooms and London Dungeons...I got an email from my uncle the day before with the advice of if we were going to the Tower "(which BTW, will likely take all day, at least) do go to peer at the crown jewels".  So off we set!

Sunday 13 March 2016

Degustabox: February 2016 (My First One!)

If you're on the internet (which I'm guessing you are if you're reading this...) then no doubt you will have seen all of the subscription boxes out there...I've tried a few, I've stuck with a couple and for some bizarre reason I've never tried Degustabox.  I mean, why wouldn't I have signed up to get edible goodies delivered right to my doorstep?!  I know.  Shame on me.

Well anyway, I saw a pretty great discount code so I'd get two whole boxes so signed up immediately!

Degustabox is one of the more pricey subscription boxes that I've tried (£12.99 a month without any discount code) and one of the things I wanted to see what whether the things you receive are actually worth the monthly subscription so for my first box ever I'm not only trying out and reviewing all of the items but checking to see how much it all would have cost if I bought it at my local supermarket.

So here it is - my inaugural Degustabox and the goodies inside!

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Photo a Day 2016: February

I started a photo a day project (PAD) in 2014 and am still going!  This is my photo a day and round up for February 2016

This year seemed to start off quite slowly but it's now flying by!  

I'm still on track with one of my resolutions (reading challenge) but have been pretty rubbish with the others however I have a whole week off work coming up so hope to spend more time in the kitchen trying out new things!  Have you managed to stick with your resolutions so far?

We've been pretty lucky here in Twickenham with the weather and have only had to scrape ice off my car in the mornings a handful of times but part of me misses the proper winter weather our northern friends have had.

Sunday 21 February 2016

8th Anniversary & Blue's Smokehouse, Twickenham

Blue's Smokehouse, Twickenham - American-style BBQ served in a casual atmosphere and where Mr Jones and I chose to celebrate our 8th anniversary!

So me and Mr Jones have been a couple for 8 years.  It feels like both a long and short time...I feel as if he's been a part of my life forever but out of my life so far, 8 years doesn't look like a lot on paper.  Or internet/laptop screen.  I love him to bits and am really excited that hopefully soon we'll be able start planning our wedding so that he can make an honest woman of me!

Before I start getting all gushy, let me tell you about how we celebrated our anniversary.  It involved some of our favourite things - charity shop book hunting, pubs and meat.  That's just how we roll.  

Saturday 6 February 2016

Photo a Day 2016: January

Ok, so January has somehow felt like the longest month ever but then "surprise!" - it's over!

It's really not felt like winter at all...I've not had to wear my big red Paddington Bear duffle coat more than a handful of times but it has been a bit chilly in the mornings.  I found a wonderful grey knitted "duffle-cardi" in a charity shop so that's kept the chill off when I drive to work.

I set myself a few "promises" for the new year and might have not got off to a flying start...ok, so I'm now on my 4th book towards my reading challenge and kept up with my 3rd year of "photo a day" but I've been nowhere near the gym and have cooked virtually nothing...I'll consider this as a virtual kick up the bum to get going!

Friday 22 January 2016

Things to Cook in 2016

One of the things I've promised myself to do in 2016 is to create more recipes so this calls for a list!  I love a good list!  Pinterest remains a firm favourite for inspiration for new foods and recipes as does FoodGawker and naturally, Instagram...while I've got boards and links galore for recipes that inspire me - here are the things I really want to get cooking in this year..

My cooking to do list - I want to challenge myself to make the things I've always wanted to this year including agedashi tofu

Saturday 16 January 2016

Photo a Day 2015: December

It's the end of another year - cliche, cliche, cliche, but I can't believe how time flies!  I also can't believe that I've completed two whole years of this "photo a day" challenge!  

December was a ridiculously busy month - me and Mr Jones both work in retail and it's naturally the busiest time of year.  On top of the usual added workload I started to look after a new group of products in November so was still trying to get my head around things like PC gaming steering wheels, flashy keyboards, all of the different types of fitness bands (there are a LOT!) and lightbulbs you can control from your phone...

December is also a month that always seems to be overflowing with hampers, Christmas meals, work parties...

Saturday 9 January 2016

A Night in Mayfair - Cartizze & Hakkasan

Cartizze.  You can find it in Lancashire Court which is a teeny tiny cobbled street that wouldn't look out of place in a Harry Potter film!  The bar is quite small with dark wood and low lighting which made it feel very cosy.

It's that time of year where there are a lot of work parties and nights out - it's a great way to visit places you might not normally go to and spend time with work friends outside of the office (usually with a few drinks under their belts!).

An invite arrived in my inbox for a team night out for cocktails and dinner.  I clicked the "accept" button and didn't really look at where we were going until much later on...when I did, I got really excited!  I mean, extremely exited.  First up on the agenda was Cartizze, a dark and cosy bar hidden down a cobbled street with an extensive cocktail menu, and then to Hakkasan which is a Michelin star Cantonese restaurant just by Berkeley Square Gardens.  Michelin star?!  Oh wow...

Monday 4 January 2016

UK Blog Awards 2016: Why I Entered

I've seen the UK Blog awards a fcouple of years running but have always beem a little too late to enter. I've submitted my favourite blogs, I've voted for blogs and even found new blogs to read and follow.  This year I saw the tweet on time to actually enter so thought "what the heck?!" and managed to submit this little blog in time.

I'm not sure I'm in with a chance of winning anything or even placing but wanted to enter for a few reasons...


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