Friday, 21 November 2014

Homemade Nakd Bars

Since being diagnosed as coeliac back in January, I have relied a lot on bars like Nakd bars to grab when I'm on the go or as a snack. I generally always have something in my handbag in case I end up being somewhere where there's nothing gluten free, especially as I'm someone who gets pretty 'hangry' if I don't eat every few hours ;)

Nakd bars are made from THE most simple ingredients, so I thought I'd have a go at making my own. The bars were a bit of an experiment but these were the rough quantities (it's hard to go wrong when you're using only two main ingredients).

I made chocolate mint ones. These make about 10 bars: 

1 cup medjool dates (pitted)
1 1/4 cup cashews
1 heaped teaspoon raw cacao
A few drops peppermint flavouring

Just literally chuck everything into a blender and blitz until it goes into a big squidgy ball. Soooo quick to make! Then squish it into a clingfilm-lined tin (I used a loaf cake tin). Put in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden a little and then cut up into bars. I wrap them up in clingfilm and keep in a tuppleware in the cupboard or fridge to grab and take to work. They should last a couple of weeks but you can also freeze them.

I've also tried this recipe using vanilla essence instead of peppermint flavouring which was divine, but you could experiment. My favourite Nakd bars are chocolate orange so I'm going to make those next. Other flavours you could add: dried berries / ground ginger / cinnamon / raisins / other nuts such as pecans.

What is your favourite on-the-go snack?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Farrow & Ball: Decorating with Colour + a Giveaway

Lately I have been very drawn towards monochrome, in both interiors and clothing. I wasn't feeling very inspired by colour, probably due to the gloomy weather at the moment. Yet the other morning I sat down to enjoy an early morning coffee before work, and picked up my new book, Farrow & Ball: Decorating with Colour. Written by Ros Byam Shaw and filled with beautiful photographs by Jan Baldwin, this book is kinda making me want to pick up a can of new paint and cover my walls in something more interesting than white.

I have always known Farrow & Ball for the best kind of neutrals (though I've now discovered they do wallpaper - I loved the bathroom in the book covered in THIS polka square wallpaper and now I want a dotty bathroom). Growing up, our family kitchen cupboards were painted in OLIVE and the walls in a beautiful soft grey which I can't remember the name of. I used to love sitting down with the paint charts and looking through all the lovely colours and names. Don't you just adore names like Elephant's Breath, Skimming Stone, and Dead Salmon!?

The book is split up into three chapters - Classical, Contemporary, and Country styles. I really liked the country style chapter the best. It made me want to move into a big ol' house in the countryside, paint my walls in various shades of Farrow & Ball greys, dot wicker baskets everywhere, and light a roaring fire ;)

I'm giving away a hardback copy of this book! Whether you'd like it just to flick through occasionally on your coffee table, or whether you're looking for inspiration on how to use colour in the home, it's a really lovely book.

Just tell me your favourite colour from the Farrow & Ball paint selection HERE and which room you'd use it to paint in your home. You also must be a follower of this blog. For extra entries, follow me on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram and leave a separate comment for each entry. I'll pick the winner at random next Friday 28th November. Apologies, UK entrants only.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Shop Independent this Christmas | 01 For Him

I spotted this Christmas challenge from Lola Hoad (who sells really gorgeous cards and prints, by the way) on Instagram last week and it really resonated with me. I'm guilty of leaving my Christmas shopping until the last minute and then making a quick dash to the high street to pick up presents for my family. While those presents are lovely, it doesn't take much more effort to just plan ahead a little and buy from independent designers. Not only are you supporting creative individuals, but their products are often better quality, made locally, and of course more unique! 

This little round up I've made isn't just from independent designers, but also from smaller companies who might need our support just a little more than the huge chains that have taken over British high streets. There's nothing wrong with buying from those shops, but it's a good thing to consider when doing your Christmas shopping. Let me know what you think of my picks! I've started off with those tricky men...

From top left, clockwise: 

Coffee Subscription / Pact Coffee. This certainly has my boyfriend's approval. I love waking up at his house to a freshly brewed cup of coffee. The coffee beans are all hand roasted and then delivered to your door (ground or not) as often as you choose, in their lovely brown paper bags. We've tried 'Chocolate Digestive' and 'Toffee Apple' so far. 

Cycle Bag // Brooks For the stylish hipster cyclist. 

Hexagonal Bottle Opener // Smug This is the cutest shop - so many gorgeous gifty things. If you can visit Smug itself that's even better because it has the most gorgeous cafe and so many lovely pieces. (See my post on it HERE).

Beardy Man Cushion // Laura Gee I just came across these fun cushions with different beard styles and think they're hilarious! Love 'em.

Butterbeer Soy Candle // Frostbeard Studio A Harry Potter inspired candle from their 'Book Lovers'' Series - how wonderful! I so so want to know what Butterbeer smells like.

Men's Waxed Canvas Washbag //Cire Super practical for chucking in their shaving stuff/ toothbrush but also really nice too. I love the pouch shape. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Tanya's Cafe, London

This past weekend I found myself in Chelsea with my Mum and sister whilst shopping for my brother's 18th birthday present (I'm pretty certain he doesn't read this blog, so I think I'm safe in saying that). In need of a mid-shopping refreshment, I remembered a place called Tanya's Cafe that I've been meaning to try for a while. Since becoming coeliac it's been my mission to hunt down nice places where I can still enjoy cake, and London's gluten free offering is definitely growing.

Tanya's Cafe is a cute little haven tucked within a hotel. We each chose a drink and a slice of raw cake and then I gave my Mum and sister a little lesson on taking a great Instagram photo haha. I told myself this week that I'd hold back on the foodstagramming, but it would be a sin not to photograph this food. All the food at Tanya's is beautiful and also gluten free, raw, refined sugar free, and organic, so you don't have to feel guilty. After posting my photo, I spotted myself on the Tanya's Cafe's Instagram ordering my drink ;) Talking of Instagram, I heard THIS fascinating little piece on bloggers using Instagram this weekend - worth a listen.

My Mum and sister went for smoothies and I chose a 'my sweet surrender' milk (cacao, hazelnut milk, medicine flower, dates, salt, vanilla) which was diviiiine but after sampling all of them, we decided that my sister's 'my balance' smoothie was the most delicious. They both went for the key lime pie and I chose the chocolate pear cake, and we concluded that this was the best option. Can you tell I'm a total chocoholic? It was to die for, with a layer of 'caramel'.

What did you get up to this weekend? After trekking through a monsoon to my boyfriend's house on Saturday night, we cancelled our fireworks trip (sob) in favour of having friends round for drinks and then a fun night out to a couple of bars. Sunday meant brunch with friends, then a lot of life admin and an amazing roast cooked by my friend who is currently staying with us. All in all, a good weekend! How was yours? x

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Toulouse 2014

So this post is about 2 months late but better late than never hey ;) I thought we could do with a bit of warmth on this cold day in London. My family has been going to France every August for the past fourteen years to stay in our friends' beautiful house a couple of hours drive away from Toulouse. You can see other France posts HERE. The last couple of years we have popped into Toulouse for a couple of days to explore the lovely city. This year we stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb in the Old Town which was perfect.

Toulouse is known as the Rose City due to its pinky coloured architecture and you can get a stunning view of this from the top of the Galerie Lafayette. This year we wandered around shops, ducked into little bars for cocktails and tapas (Toulouse has a strong Spanish influence, being so far in the south of France), and hired bicycles. We cycled up the tree-lined canal out of the city and stopped to snack on Milka chocolate. In the evening my brother, sister, and I went to a bar near the River Garonne and enjoyed beers and local Pastis. It was so fun! I think Toulouse is my favourite city in France, though I am a little biased having spent so much time there. Have you been to Toulouse?

I'll share the rest of the trip in another post, and I'll try not to leave it so long this time x

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Reading List | 01

When I was a child I used to devour books. I used to ask my Mum to keep my bedroom light on the dimmest setting when she turned out my light to sleep, so that I could secretly squint in the half darkness and continue reading my book.

These days it's harder to find enough time to read. I snatch 5 minutes here and there to read before bed or on the tube, but every now and again I set 20 minutes aside to read and I love it so much. In fact one of my favourite parts of going on holiday is to be able to lie in the sun and consume book after book for days on end and not feel guilty about needing to do something else.This past Summer a couple of friends asked me for advice on books to read and so I thought I'd share some of those recommendations on here.

This reading list is a mix of my favourite books combined with books that I have read recently and enjoyed. I love a book that will suck me in but I also like a book that makes me think. I do read trashier books now and again, and enjoy them, but it's better when they make you feel something as well. I was never that interested in learning history at school, but I love a book set during a war or moment in history to learn about it in that way. I also love a book that will make me cry, is that weird?!

The Fault in Our Stars John Green
I read this on the beach in Ibiza and was left sobbing alone on the beach while my friend took a nap. It's an easy read but a deep subject and there are some beautiful lines in there which have stayed in my head even now. I am hesitant to see the movie - has anyone seen it yet? I know I'll need a box of tissues!

Never Let Me Go Kazuo Ishiguro
I absolutely loved this book - the way it was written, the unexpected realisation which you have when it is revealed what is going on. It's set in England in the 1990s but not England as we know it. I have friends who have read this who thought it was plain disturbing. It is a slightly dark subject (which I can't reveal without giving the plot away!) but it is beautifully written and thought provoking.

The Secret History Donna Tartt
I only just realised when writing this that I have including two Donna Tartt books in here. Not intentional! This was my favourite of the two though. The characters are what make this book, completely. It's fascinating and gripping and again, quite dark. (Wow I don't tend to read light and cheery books do I!?). This book is timeless, exploring the human character, and I really think it is a must-read. I definitely want to re-read this at some point!

The Time Traveller's Wife Audrey Niffenegger
This is my favourite book I've read in my life so far. It's clever, beautiful, imaginative, and such a wonderful and tragic love story. It tells the story of Claire and Henry, whose lives are utterly intertwined as Henry has a rare condition which causes him to unexpectedly travel into his own past or future. As an adult, Henry travels back several times to meet Claire as a little girl as she grows up and, years later, they finally meet in their present. Confused? Read it then ;) I've read this a few times and it never ceases to make me cry.

The Book Thief Markus Zusak
I read this in August whilst floating around on a blow up rubber ring in a swimming pool in the South of France. Kind of a strange setting to be reading a book which is set in Nazi Germany and narrated by Death, but it is a stunning book about a little girl who is sent to live with a foster family. It is such an interesting perspective of WW2 and is written so cleverly, a scrapbook of stories almost.

The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
I suggest you read this when you have a bit of time (such as on holiday) as it took me months to read due to only reading 5 minutes a day! I felt such fond feelings for the main character, a little boy called Theo, who really doesn't have the best luck in life. It tracks his life as it spirals out of control following the destruction of a bomb in New York City. There are such dramatic changes in scenery that it feels like several novels in one (and weighs the same as well!) and are clever plot twists. As with The Secret History, Donna Tartt paints such beautiful characters that I feel like I know them.
{I suggest buying this on Kindle if you have one, because it was partly due to the book's epic size that it took me so long to read, as I couldn't cart it round in my handbag easily.}

Have you read any of these books? Next time I put together a book list I think I will try and choose some lighter subjects to mix it up a bit!

Do you have any book suggestions? x

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

5 Happy Things

Happy Tuesday! It's such an amazing cold, crisp, and sunny day here in London! I haven't done a round-up post for a while. For me, blogging and Instagram are a lot about appreciating the little things in life - the beautiful everyday things that often don't get photographed. See more happy lists here, and here are the little moments that made me happy this past week...

1/ Making a mess experimenting with textures for new print designs
2/ I stopped at Boots on the way home from work to pick up some things and couldn't help but nip into Topshop. So glad I did because I found this beaut of a dress on sale at less than half price. Love ma stripes ;)
3/ These gorgeous feather earrings arrived all the way from the US of A. I picked these out from the Gifts for Her section at Uncommon Goods as I have a little obsession with feathery things! I love how unique they are.*
4/ The boyf turned up at dinner on Saturday night with this amazing 100% cacao hot chocolate bar for me. We tried it out on Sunday night whilst watching Flight (brilliant movie) and it was deeelicious. He got it from M&S and it was divine made with almond milk with a couple of teaspoons of agave syrup to sweeten it up. I can't stop drinking hot chocolate right now so I'm trying to make it as healthy as possible.
5/ A new sweet little new cafe opened up right by my boyfriend's flat (lits a 10 sec walk away) so we nipped in for coffees and a bacon toastie (for him) before work on Wednesday. It was a lovely break and treat in the middle of the week.

What nice little things have made your last week?

* This product was sent to me to review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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