Tuesday, 27 September 2016

How to make an apple crumble... when you don't have any of the ingredients

This could have just as easily been titled "winging it". Because that was how that this recipe came about.

The story

If you were here with me last time, you will know that I am only a few weeks settled into my new home. One of the more pleasant surprises from the move was that my garden actually has all the fruit. There are two pear trees, a cooking apple tree, rhubarb, wild strawberries, some fruit that I can't even identify, and two separate patches of raspberries which are quickly devouring the whole garden. I am up to my elbows in fruit, and it's bitter sweet, because there are only so many raspberries you can eat before you get bored. It was time to take action.

At the weekend I was faced with two new apples and again, all the raspberries. Then I had quite the light bulb moment: what better weekend for an apple crumble?

It was a fine idea. Until I discovered I had zero ingredients for any sort of crumble.

I didn't have the right sugar. I didn't have the right butter. And once the apples were peeled, cored and de-bruised, there wasn't a whole lot of apple there.

But I am no quitter. Such a trivial thing wasn't going to faze me.

The lack of apple was easily recovered by adding raspberries to patch up the crumble base. I'm not sure that using Bertolli olive spread was ever for recommended use in a crumble topping.... but I went with it. And you know what? It looked and tasted like a traditional crumble. And oh my, it was delicious.

Not too sweet, and not too sharp, the fruit seemed perfectly fine despite using the wrong sugar. And apples and raspberries were a winning combination which I'll be using in crumbles time and time again. In the meanwhile, if anyone wants any raspberries, you know where to find me...

Thursday, 22 September 2016

UPDATE // Buying my first property

It feels like ages since we last spoke to each other! Long time readers will know about my latest purchase - The House. Looking for a new flat or house is all very exciting when it comes to going to look at properties, but nothing could have prepared me for the stress of placing an offer and the overall buying process. Having been unsuccessful on one property (being outbid at the last minute) and then facing a bidding war on house #2, thankfully my final offer on house #2 was accepted. That was November last year. There wasn't a particularly long chain, but the administration, fees, and waiting time un-romanticised the whole exciting buying your first property notion.

The original memo was to complete over the May 2016 bank holiday weekend. But a few days prior to the Bank Holiday, there was silence. And silence is never a good thing. Turns out the other end of the chain needed serious medical treatment which would span May - July. So instead July was the suggested month. Nothing. The majority of August passed and then suddenly it all happened in a flash. The exchange was finally made.

For those not familiar with the whole buying process, the exchange is where it all becomes legal and official. The completion date was set for 1st September and the guy in my now home confirmed he had booked his removals van. It all became very real very quickly.

But despite it all being locked in and technically legally binding, there was still that niggling feeling and ALL THE ANXIETY. Only earlier this year did I read an article about someone who had exchanged, had a completion set in stone, and booked their removals, only at the last minute for it all to come crashing down. The result? They lost their apartment and had to start their property search all over again. So despite exchanging, I couldn't relax. I was super paranoid and had that awful, awful feeling that it was all going to go tits up.

Fortunately I was proven wrong. I picked up the keys on 1st September and stood inside my new home, amazed at the prospect of owing a house before hitting 30. It still doesn't quite feel like 'home', but it's getting there. Some rooms initially smelt stale so over the first two days, a vigorous cleaning regime was put in place. Every inch of the house was cleaned. I hired a carpet cleaner and spent a whole day cleaning carpets. I have added lots of my own touches like reed diffusers and candles, and those things combined with the smell of your own cooking (in my case, largely red wine based meals!) really helped eliminate that new home smell.

There is still a lot that needs to be done. Rooms are still looking fairly empty, and will carry less echoes once filled with furniture. The living room and kitchen are no longer filled floor to ceiling with boxes, which is a start. Only on week two did I unpack my clothes and buy an ironing board. It's been so nice not to wear the same old things and to be crease free! FINALLY got Internet at the end of last week, so normal service at Curiouser and Curiouser can now be resumed!

As well as the usual food, fashion and lifestyle content, I have got lots of house and home related posts and advice coming up which hopefully those of you looking to get onto the property ladder will find useful! And of course.... a sneak preview of the house itself very soon ;) Thanks for bearing with me! x

*image source Pinterest

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

OOTD // Pyjama chic

When you hear the words "pyjama chic", I'm talking silky two pieces which look like luxe sleepwear, and loose trousers which could easily pass for pyjama bottoms. Although not brave enough to wear the former out, as for the latter, I'm all about that comfy trouser life. Having had a pair for years now, they are officially the comfiest things ever. I wear them around the house and on plane journeys they are are a GODSEND. I usually get raised eyebrows from people when I wear them; hey you lazy sod, too lazy to bother getting dressed today. But au contraire, ladies and gents. These are proper legit trousers.

Up until now, I haven't felt very comfortable wearing them out for other events that don't include the airport or a quick dash for groceries, but the pjyama chic trend coming around makes me feel a little less timid to wear such a look out.

Camisole - thrifted
YSL bag* - Farfetch
Trousers - Forever 21 (old)
Shoes - gifted

Because of their loose shape, I like to wear something a little more fitted on top to balance out the look. I usually go for strapless bandeau tops, or a delicate camisole like the one featured above. This top I've had for years (a hand me down from my aunt!) and is one of my favourites. It has scallop detailing on it too - meaning I was all about the scallops right from a young age!

And can we talk about the shoes? These were a recent gift from family who just came back from holiday and they are the comfiest things I have put on my feet in a very long time.

How you do feel about the pyjama trend?

*A huge thanks to Farfetch for introducing me to the bag of my dreams!

Friday, 12 August 2016

Friday night feels // moules frites, seafood risotto and Belgium beer

A couple of months back I met a friend for a long overdue catch up and had zero ideas where to go to eat and drink. We were walking around for a while and came across a Belgo. For those of you not already acquainted, Belgo is a Belgium inspired bar and eaterie, which specialises in Belgium beers and moules frites. But not just any moules frites. With options including Thai green curry, BBQ and chipotle, these are mussels with a difference. On that occasion I had a risotto and I usually find these very heavy, filling dishes with not nearly enough flavour... but Belgo's king prawn risotto was a revelation. It was hands down the best risotto I have ever had. I was so impressed with my first visit to Belgo, I went back again one Friday to a different branch to indulge in more Belgium beverages. Oh and the same risotto. Which was equally good second time around.

The risotto in question is their king prawn and asparagus risotto cooked in champagne, brandy butter and lobster bisque. A very luxurious dish which although rich sounding, isn't at all. It being the first risotto where I can easily clear my plate and not have to surrender early on account of being full.

The real MVP of the meal however were the moules frites. Whilst I can deal with a few mussels in paella, I'm not a huge fan of them as they are a little too fishy for me... I would never order a pot of them by themselves. However that Friday I tried the Belgo ones and I was converted. The ones I tried were meaty rather than fishy and were consistently good - you didn't get bored after a set amount of time. The ones I tried were the chorizo ones which were infused with the lovely paprika oil and had a dusting / sprinkling of parsley. Straight away I knew what I'd be ordering on my next visit!

The drinks menu at Belgo is a daunting thing. With so many beers on offer, it's difficult to know where to start! The Tripel Karmeliet was a good choice and came in the most awesome glass with a fleur de lis at the base. Their wine was equally good too!

Have you ever been to Belgo?

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Autumn / Winter Lookbook: Damart

I'll be honest... I hadn't heard of Damart before. It's not a brand I've seen mentioned in magazines, on social media, or the blogosphere. I received a press release through the post the other week and whilst I receive a few fair press releases, I don't always share them on here as they aren't necessarily tailored to me, my interests or this blog. This press release for Damart on the other hand, really grabbed me. From the way the campaign was shot, to the way the model has been styled - it was all very 'me'. Especially the hair. Oh I love long tousled hair. Here are my top picks from their A/W collection:

I adore the pleats, patterns, textures and colour palette running through the campaign. And can we talk about the boots? Beautiful boots FOR DAYS. My favourite look of them all has to be the fur gilet, worn with a loose blouse, belted trousers and knee high boots. Although I wouldn't exactly say no to the blue shirt / blouse... what a beauty.

What are your favourite pieces from the Damart A/W collection?

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Things I'm loving this week #1

Popcorn - I will forever be a biscuit fiend, however lately popcorn has been my snack of choice. I used to hate salted (sweet for the win!), but now I'm coming around to the idea of it. Stores are starting to bring out some pretty interesting flavour combinations and we have been loving these bacon and maple syrup ones at work lately.

YSL bag - no word of a lie, this bag has made every outfit look extra special. I especially love wearing it in a more casual context as you may have noticed in my last outfit post here!

House magazines - house and home magazines are my magazine of choice at the moment. If you frequently pin interiors images on Pinterest then this right here is your porn.

New shoes one & two - I was naughty and picked up new pairs of shoes in the Office sale. Zero originality on my part as both pairs are tan and suede... but one pair are peep toe and the others are slip ons, so that's different enough right?!

Benefit Sun Beam - I have wanted to pick one of these up for the longest time and this week I finally took the plunge. It makes my skin feel all kinds of summery - even when it's grey and rainy out. #winning

Jo Malone - when the weather turns hotter, I don't like to wear anything too heavy on my skin. Jo Malone's earl grey and cucumber cologne may sound weird, but is subtle and fresh and has been my staple this week

Nature - I'm loving all the pretty colours at the moment. Especially yellow. I have a massive thing for yellow at the moment (particularly when paired with grey interiors a la Pinterest). Pinecones may seem like a weird choice, but my cat has been basking in the sun playing with them and it's all kinds of cute

L'Oreal Perfect Match - nothing sucks more than when you go to pick up more highlighter and your go to brand that you are loyal to and never stray from has sold out. And then discovering that your "back-up" option has also sold out. I bit the bullet and tried a new product this week and you know? I've been pleasantly surprised. True to its name, it blends really well.

What have you been loving this week?

* A huge thanks to Farfetch for stocking the bag of my dreams!

OOTD // A monochrome look with YSL

When it comes to fashion, I'm a bit of a colourphobe. If you were to delve into my wardrobe, you would be metaphorically drowning in a sea of black, white and grey. I'm all about that monochrome life, you see. The other weekend I got dressed in - you've guessed it - my typical monochrome get-up and ventured to the woods to catch Pokemon for a nice day out.

Top - Topshop
Jeans - Topshop
Bag - Farfetch
Shoes - New Look (old)

I'm so happy it's warming up as it means I can ditch the tights, boots and knitwear, and feel the sun on my skin FINALLY. I wanted to wear something simple and classic, without taking the shine away from my bag, as it's such a statement piece. And you can't get any more simple or classic than a pair of black jeans. I live in my black jeans. Everyone has their preferred cut / fit at Topshop, but my favourite is the Leigh range as it's not too high waisted, nor too low rise. The top I bought from Topshop a little while ago and it's been hanging in my wardrobe ever since, begging to be worn. And now I'm making up for lost time! I'm loving the off the shoulder trend at the moment - a white bardot top is so much more interesting than a bog standard plain white tee, don't you think?

I love how the bag pulls together the look. Suitable both day and night, this bag is a classic and will never go out of style. Check out that lettering. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before on a designer bag. It's just beautiful. A true work of art.

It's a small bag without being a small bag - you can still fit plenty in it. I'm used to carrying around large and heavy bags, so this was a lovely change and I feel myself becoming the small bag convert! I mean, do I really need to be carrying everything but the kitchen sink around with me?! I think not.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this look :) How would you style a bag like this? I have a few more outfit posts lined up with the bag to show it in a more casual context - so watch this space!

* A huge thanks to Farfetch for stocking the bag of my dreams!