Monday, 30 March 2015

Currently loving // H&M home

Whilst I still can't resist a coat or a pair of shoes, homeware is fast becoming one of my favourite things. Hoping to buy a house this year, I guess it's an understandable shift in behaviour. I have so many ideas of how I want particular rooms to look - colour themes, textures and materials - with plenty of images pinned and web pages bookmarked for inspiration. One of my favourite places for homeware is H&M. And I must say, lately everything in their homeware range is spot on. If you like copper and metallic touches, then scroll down for a feast for the eyes...

Like most other bloggers, I love a bit of copper. I don't know what it is that makes it so aesthetically pleasing. Maybe it's the fact that it goes with pretty much any colour and adds warmth to a room. As does gold. This gold pot is screaming to be filled with rings. And the hanging lanterns... just wow. I haven't really thought too much about a colour scheme for the kitchen just yet, but seeing this marble table cloth and cushion, I feel inspired. Back here I talked about how I was after a throw to replace the festive out-of-season one I still had on my bed - and I think I've found it! It's difficult to decide out of the grey or "mole" (a mocha sort of colour) but there is something about "mole" that is drawing me in. As is this sunflower candle. I imagine it must smell like summer. And just look at their magnolia candle - it's too beautiful. Although their recent addition of this marble candle is a close competitor. H&M do some really good looking candles and I honestly do believe that appearance wise, they could easily compete with those high end candles you always see in the background of people's Youtube videos! Another blogger must-have is the statement tray. The sort where you see beauty products / flowers / food / jewellery artistically arranged on said tray. I've seen immaculate photos of marbled mini dishes filled with rings and copper offerings, but this wooden tray had my name all over it. And let's not forget a couple of other quirky extras that caught my eye. Like this patterned pot which would be only too easy to fill with flowers. And that swan though. At first glance you'd think it was an ornament, but it's actually a bowl - multi-purpose item right there!

H&M are offering free P&P at the moment if like me you are tempted! You have until 7th April 2015 to enter the code 2946 at checkout. Also some of the above items are up to 50% off for a limited time only - so well worth a look!

Have you ever bought anything from H&M home?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Recipe // Chicken and mushroom soup

Remember my seafood and miso soup? It was an experiment, but a very tasty experiment which paid off. Since then, I've adapted my recipe a little to allow for a different flavour combination - chicken and mushroom. So if you're kosher or can't stand seafood, this may be the one for you! This time around I didn't add rice noodles as being a complete idiot, I forgot to buy them(!) ...but this recipe works equally well without the noodles and is ideal if you're following a no carb / low carb diet. However if like me, you love your carbs, you can find noodle quantities via my previous recipe here.

You will need...

  • x2 tablespoons of white miso paste
  • 1 litre of water / vegetable stock / chicken stock
  • 150g of mushrooms (I used shiitake mushrooms)
  • x3 pak choi
  • x2 chicken breasts
  • 1 or 2 spring onions

Method

1. Wash and chop the mushrooms and pak choi. I cut the pak choi in half lengthways and kept the mushrooms fairly large as both will reduce anyway once you start to cook. Chop the chicken into small pieces / strips.

2. Shallow fry the spring onions and chicken until the chicken is cooked. Gradually add the mushrooms and pak choi.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the white miso paste and water. You can add vegetable stock or chicken stock instead of water if you prefer - however I found the soup nice enough without stock. Add to rest of the ingredients in the pan.

4. Slowly bring to the boil. Once boiled, continue to simmer. You can add vegetable and chicken stock if you wish, but when I tasted mine, it had plenty of flavour already. Simmer for 5 minutes and then serve.


 Serves 2 people

Light, healthy and very quick to rustle up, it's the perfect soup to come home to after a long day at work. The chicken can easily be substituted for tofu too if you're veggie! If you decide to give this a try, make sure you Tweet me @Lucy_Angele using the hashtag #cookwithlucy or leave me a comment below because as ever, I'd love to see your creations! :)

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Where to eat in London // The Diner

If there's one thing that I've learnt, it's that you can't go wrong with a burger. Tasty, satisfying and often flexible in terms of toppings, they can help a bad day seem less shit. Living in London, I have tried many a burger but there aren't many that match up to that of The Diner. Up until now, I'd only ever tried the Camden branch. Admittedly only ever late at night after one too many cocktails. But all the same, a religious experience each and every time. More recently I've wondered how good The Diner actually is? Was my perception being skewed by alcohol? To be a fair judge, I decided to try another branch AND not have alcohol beforehand. And let me tell you now, the burgers were every bit as awesome.


M. had The Diablo  - a burger topped with jalapeño mayo, bacon and cheese - and judging by his silence (a rare thing!) and beaming smile, it was going down a treat. My burger of choice is usually a classic burger with lots of extra toppings and sauces to personalise it how I like it. This time I opted for garlic mayo (a must!) and caramelised onions. 

No burger is a proper burger without a milkshake. I always sway towards chocolate milkshakes because... chocolate. But this time I wanted to branch out and try one of their hard shakes for a change. We went for The Choconaut - spiced rum, dark chocolate liquor and chocolate ice cream. Never did I think I could prefer a milkshake over Oreo cookie or chocolate brownie... but it happened. Heaven in a glass. We ate at their Spitalfields restaurant but there are plenty more located in London. You can find your nearest Diner branch here.

Have you ever been to The Diner?

Monday, 16 March 2015

The lipstick saga continues...

Brace yourselves. For what I'm about to admit isn't something you'd usually hear being uttered by an average blogger.

Scrolling through blogs and fashion editorials in magazines, you'll see red lip after red lip. Articles about red lippie being the perfect way to take your outfit from day to night, and berry being the coveted autumn / winter lipstick of choice. You'll even see vloggers filming at home, in their bedrooms, wearing the stuff.

And me? I am a lipstick virgin.

I don't own lipstick, nor have I ever worn it. Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to lipstick. I just can't pull it off.

Magazines tell me that with my fair complexion, pink is my colour. And that if I am to go red, I need to pick one with a pinky hue. I've tried sample after sample, and I just can't find one for me. Why not take a risk, you ask? But with the simplest drug store lipstick costing about £10, and then £26 or so for something more high end like Dior, it's not a risk I fancy taking. I know £26 isn't the end of the world, but at the same time, it's a lot of money to be spending if you get it home and realise it's not a colour for you. Once you've tried it, it's not like you can take it back to the store. And I wouldn't feel right selling a second-hand used lipstick on eBay. The other alternative would be to visit a make-up counter at a department store. But is it just me, or are the women on these counters really intimidating? How on earth did you gage a true representation of which shade of lipstick really suits you? These women are working on a commission basis - as fair as they're concerned, EVERY colour looks oh-so-amazing on you. Hence my cynicism.

I then considered my other options. Ideally what I needed was a lip palette - multiple colours for a single price. Last summer I tried several department stores and searched online, but to no avail. Blush palettes and eye shadow palettes were left, right and centre but lip palettes seemed to be an endangered species - very difficult to find. Then as luck may have it, one day I found one on ASOS:

Pop Mix rouge and lipstick set - £16.50

For less than the price of a high end lipstick, there are 36 different colours to choose from - reds, browns, pinks, peach, berry and bronze shades. I liked the fact this palette was multi-purpose and the colours could be used as blusher too. The colours are in cream form rather than powder, so easily blend to create as strong or as bold a colour you like. You may argue that a palette is less convenient and less portable than a traditional lipstick. However this particular palette is small, slim and lightweight and will easily fit into any clutch bag. One advantage of taking a palette like this with you on a night out would be that you could change up your look if you got bored of a particular colour. Have a nude lip when eating, then apply some of the more daring shades once you're finished with that wine glass!

Do you wear lipstick?

Friday, 6 March 2015

Suite dreams at The London Lancaster

A few Saturdays back, I walked through the revolving doors at the London Lancaster Hotel with absolutely no clue of the wonders the next 10 hours would bring. The lady at check-in was very friendly and welcoming, asking the usual sorts of questions; if this was our first visit, would we like a newspaper / wake-up call in the morning... then she mentioned that we would be receiving a complimentary upgrade. We were really surprised, said our thanks and walked to the lifts with the key card. For my original booking I'd selected a room on one of the higher floors of the hotel - floor 15 or above - and when we were in the lift we noticed that the room key was for floor 6. It was then that we were a little dubious about the whole room upgrade thing. Going from one of the higher floors to floor 6 didn't exactly seem like an upgrade. We watched couples in the lift selecting floors 18 and 16, and felt their pitying eyes on us as we pressed "6". However we remained open minded.

We got out of the lift, unsure of what to expect. We turned the corner and M. made an inaudible kind of noise of the surprised variety. The details are fuzzy. But as we walked further down the corridor, our room number came into focus with the words "Royal Park Suite". I assumed it was a mistake. This couldn't be. Things like this just don't happen to me. For part of the evening I even thought that M. had arranged it with the hotel in advance. But he assured me that he hadn't and that it was indeed a complimentary upgrade from the hotel.

Upon opening the door, I was blown away by how large the room was and how light and airy it was. Windows lined the whole length of the room and offered beautiful views of Hyde Park. As soon you walked in, you entered a large room containing a side board with tea and coffee facilities, a dining room area, desk number 1 and then a sitting room area comprising of two sofas, one armchair, wide screen TV and a large coffee table. Down the corridor there was a large full length mirror which slid open to reveal a wardrobe, iron and ironing board, gowns and slippers. Just opposite, the bathroom had a lovely view across Hyde Park and was stocked with lots of White Company products. Even further down the corridor was desk number 2 and a very welcoming looking double bed with more lovely views of the park.


I was - and still am - really touched by the generosity of the upgrade. They could've given me the same room I'd paid for, but with a park view. Or the next room 'up' - like a deluxe room or something. But no. This was a suite. The highest ranking room they have. I looked it up and a room like this is worth just shy of £500 A NIGHT. It was Valentine's Day. It was a Saturday. I found it hard to believe that they'd have any rooms available - let alone a suite!

After quite literally walking from room to room with our mouths agape for about 20 minutes(!) we took some photos to help cement the memory, and started drawing all the curtains as it was growing dark. Drawing the curtains took a little while - especially in the dining room / lounge area! We had a a few hours spare before dinner so there was plenty of time to settle in, and eventually.... get the kettle on (sooo British!).

All dressed up ready for dinner, we made our way downstairs to the restaurant where we already had a table booked.



We shared a beautiful bottle of Malbec and deliberated over the menu. Everything looked so good. In the end we ordered the pork belly and the scallops to start.

Pan fried Atlantic scallops with truffled pea and cauliflower purée

Chinese style glazed pork belly, egg noodles, melon & cucumber salad with chilli, lime. coriander and tasted cashews

The scallops were beautifully cooked and I had major food envy. The pork belly was a good cut of meat which wasn't too fatty unlike other pork belly I've had in the past. It was beautifully presented in a glass bowl with lots of vibrant colours. The one thing I was really disappointed by was the main reason I'd ordered this dish - the melon and cucumber salad. I found the salad to be mainly lettuce. It didn't contain any cucumber and I only found the smallest bit of melon. The scallops on the other hand had cucumber on the plate despite the fact that cucumber wasn't actually listed on the menu. But other than that, the pork was a tasty and light dish. The lack of salad I expected means I probably wouldn't order it again in the future. For the main course we both had the duck.

Gressingham duck with roast carrots, kohl rabi and green beans, cavolo nero and soy jus

All components of this dish complimented the duck well. I especially loved the roast carrots and the greens. Normally I'd be done for after two courses, but their dessert menu was beckoning. We loved the idea of the honey panna cotta made with their own rooftop honey:


... however being a huge chocoholic, it had to be the chocolate trio:

Dark chocolate fondant, white chocolate and coffee foam and chocolate sorbet

I'd never had chocolate sorbet before, but it was really refreshing and light. The chocolate fondant oozed pools of liquid chocolate in the most satisfying of ways and was perfect with the white chocolate and coffee foam. We sat and enjoyed the rest of the wine and then headed back up to the room. Kicking my heels off I wandered into the bedroom and found....


Turn down service! Something I'd never experienced before. Slippers and and robes were neatly presented on both sides of the bed, where we were also left a breakfast menu for the morning, the remote and a packet of sweets. It was a lovely little surprise and it's little details like this that make a stay extra special. We promptly changed into our robes and slippers.


It was a really special night and one that I won't forget in a while. Just before bed, we made hot drinks (him mint tea, me hot chocolate) and sat in the lounge watching The Inbetweeners, and deciding on our breakfast:


I can usually sleep for HOURS however I was still really excited by the room and was the first out of bed, raring to go. Breakfast arrived bang on time and it was a feast and a half:

Cooked breakfast, toast, jam, fruit, yoghurt, cereal, hot chocolate and coffee

We ate breakfast at the dining table, with the perfect view over Hyde Park. We ate until it physically wasn't possible any more(!) and then adjourned to the lounge with our hot drinks.


We even found where the rooftop honey came from


We made the most of late check-out and stayed in the room until the very last minute. It was sad leaving our little slice of paradise behind, however I was - and still am - incredibly grateful that we were given the opportunity to experience this type of room. Thank you so much to the London Lancaster London for such an unforgettable stay.