Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Cupcakes, macarons, walks in the woods and a very Instagrammable brunch

Hello lovely! What did you get up to over the Easter break? I managed to work my way through a lot of my suggested Easter ideas / activities which I mentioned in my last post ... so thought I'd do a little Easter weekend summary.

Cheeky brunch

I was a complete cliché and ordered avocado with poached eggs and smoked salmon. Too good. Although I don't understand how I can usually devour a full English breakfast without any problems at all and then when faced with a smaller - and healthier - plate of food, hit a wall. I ate through this proverbial wall (I can't stand wasted food!) but did spend the next few hours feeling about six months pregnant. But a long (7 mile) walk in the woods (see below) soon sorted that out!


Day trips

Earlier this week we took a trip to the V&A Museum. It wasn't the sunniest of days, so was a good day to be holed up inside. I could quite literally spend all day there. You walk in and see all the nude sculptures and busts on the ground floor. Some of them pretty sassy. I loved the intricate designs on the ceramics and glass (the iridescents being my favourites!) and all the mind-blowing masonry. Particularly the Roman pillar, originally 38 metres tall, but cut into sections to fit inside the museum, but even so, barely fitting. And don't get me started on the four poster bed with the dragons - I love the idea of dragons watching over you as you sleep! We didn't eat at the V&A this time as nobody got time for those sorts of queues. But South Ken is brilliant for food, so there are plenty of other options just paces away from any of the museums there. We opted for PQ as their chorizo quiche and freshly squeezed apple, melon and pineapple juice are to die for


Walk in the woods

On the one day that we were guaranteed a rain free day, a trip to the woods was in order. I'd heard plenty of good things about Highgate Woods and being just a few minutes walk from Highgate station, was easy enough to get to. I kind of emulated my "walk in the woods" look from this post with tan boots, jeans and a light sweater. I'd say Highgate Woods is good for those who don't like to walk miles on end, and is perfectly suited to children thanks to the playing fields and playground. However the woods may feel quite small if you're like me and prefer to cover more ground (we ended up walking the circuit several times). It's also worth noting that when exiting the station, you walk up an extremely steep hill which isn't very wheelchair / pushchair friendly. It's definitely doable, but be prepared - I was knackered before we'd even got to the woods, but it was worth the climb! Nearing the end of our walk in the woods, I got told off for swearing by a middle aged woman ("there are children present!") but in fairness 1) her dog was viscous and jumped at us out of nowhere, so it was a natural reaction to swear! 2) her "child" was about 13. I'm sure he knows worse. The c word at the very least.


Easter cupcakes


Blessed with the sun this Easter weekend, we decided to venture into town to spend some time in Primrose Hill - otherwise known as the most beautiful place on Earth. I'd seen on Primrose Bakery's website that they were doing some pretty tasty looking Easter cupcakes for the Bank Holiday weekend. So that was The Quest. We rocked up at the bakery but none of the Easter cupcakes mentioned online were there. Sad times. So we stocked up on cakes topped with mini eggs, one especially colourful and sparkly one with a fluffy chick on top, and some mini cupcakes for later. Annoyingly the mini egg cakes weren't sponge - they were crispy cakes topped with lots of icing - and were too sickly sweet to eat. But Mr Chick made for a very tasty cake instead (Mr Chick survived and is currently sitting in our Easter flowers in the lounge). We sat and ate our cakes on Primrose Hill, cooing at two of the most beautiful huskies being walked, and watched a huge group of people run an egg and spoon race. Not to mention the excellent views into London, product of a wonderfully clear and sunny day. 


Easter baking, cooking and gaming

My family brought me a macaron baking kit back from France which I took a punt on. I didn't photograph the result though as they were pretty shocking! Macarons are meant to be all smooth and glossy, but these ones had so many air bubbles in them. They were fine on the first day, but the day after they'd lost their crunch and were all soggy and messy. Still tasty enough (that ganache in the middle being the real MVP) but so awfully soggy you couldn't eat them without the aid of a spoon. So going forward, I won't be cheating with kits  - I'll just make from scratch. Yes, a lot more efforty and time-consuming, but obviously worth it in the long run! I had better luck with my seafood paella. I made way too much, but it made the first day back at work pretty special (leftovers are the best!). Other than that, there was lots of glorious downtime. Including playing old family favourites like Frustration and Scrabble. I didn't exactly wear the items from my "baking, crafting and gaming" look from this post here, but admittedly I have ordered the kitty shirt since! ;) I didn't receive any Easter eggs this year, but that's ok. I explicitly asked for no Easter eggs this year because as funny as it sounds, I'm kinda of over chocolate. I think I ate so much over Christmas that the relationship chocolate and I have has been a little.... tainted ever since. Don't get me wrong, I'm still the biggest chocoholic there is. I just need to break myself in again... gradually!

What have you been up to lately?

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Things to do during the Easter holidays. And more importantly... what to wear

Easter is finally here! Now comes the task of deciding what to do on these glorious days off from work. And more importantly, what to wear (always a quandary!) So with today's post comes an Easter post with a difference. Instead of overloading you with Easter eggs and Easter gift guides, I'll be sharing ideas of things to do during the Easter break and styling an outfit for each occasion. Be sure to let me know your favourite look!

Spring time walks
Whether by the sea or in the woods, it's the perfect time of year for a walk. It's milder out, and the sky is gradually looking cheerier and less pissed off. It's this time of year that nature's prettiest buds and blooms are begging to be photographed. It's still a little bit damp underfoot given recent weather, so a good pair of boots is a must. As is a rucksack and a cosy knit. If you're less about nature and are in London this Easter, why not try a city walking tour? Some are guided and you'll need to pay for, otherwise you can find plenty of free walks and maps for them on the web. There are so many to choose from including themed ones from the likes of Harry Potter, Jack the Ripper and so on.

Boots   //   White rucksack   // Ring    //   Roll neck jumper   // Jeans

Day trip
Be it a museum, art gallery or zoo, why not be a tourist for the day? If you're in London over Easter, catch the new Lands of the Lions exhibit at London Zoo which will transport you from London to India's Gir like that. Or if you have children or younger family members to entertain, why not try the Where's Wally experience at the Shard? Fashionistas will love the Vogue exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. For days like these, wear light layers with a light cover-up - because rain is always sadly a possibility! - and shoes that won't rip your feet to shreds in the first ten minutes!


Brunch with the girls
I love going for brunch on my days off. During the week I have a rushed bowl of cereal before work and never really get to sit down and enjoy what I'm eating. So going out for breakfast / brunch is always some what of a treat for me. The Breakfast Club is a popular choice, but if you can't face the queues why not try Bill's or Duck and Waffle? Wear wardrobe staples in neutrals and tans with pops of colour here and there, dressed up with a pair of heels. Heels or wedges will take you from casual to chic in less than 60 seconds. A trench coat at this time of year always ticks all the right boxes too. Think small ish bag. You won't need to carry much - just a phone to Instagram that avocado toast, right?


Picnic
Weather permitting of course! Bring your finest picnic blanket, fancy patterned cups, plates and napkins and maybe a thermos of soup / hot chocolate / both should there be a chill in the air. I just love this half moon picnic hamper set - so unusually shaped, but in that white aesthetic that all us bloggers have come to love. Currently 50% off in the sale, it's a Spring must have. And now get ready for an abnormally wide image.... #LucyFail


Shopping
Because stepping into Spring requires a new wardrobe right? A rookie mistake I make every time I go shopping is taking too thick a jumper or too bulky a coat which then I have to cart around with me. So wear a thinner jacket like a blazer or a leather jacket. I like to wear ankle boots when I'm out shopping - I don't mind wearing heels as I'm losing stamina in my old age and not at the shops for hours on end like I used to be. So heels are now doable. But if you tend to spend most of the day at the shops and / or tire of heeled boots easily, why not opt for some white sneakers? (see "day trip")


Cinema
I know that you can go to the cinema any time and that it's hardly Easter specific, but it's worth noting that some pretty epic films have been released lately - Batman v Superman is this Easter's must see! Cinema temperatures are always so unpredictable and can go from being toasty as to who-the-fuck-turned-on-the-aircon? So I always like to bring something cosy with me like a blanket cape or a scarf. A fluffy faux fur jacket will work equally well here.



Easter baking, games & crafts
Baking being something I'm statistically very likely to be doing this weekend! Why not invite a friend over and make some Easter treats? Pinterest is full of inspiring Easter arts, crafts and bakes. And why not dig out family favourites like card games and board games? Always good for a giggle! When it comes to baking and crafting, opt for casual items of clothing that don't have fussy washing instructions - you don't want to be getting your dry clean only items ruined! This dungaree playsuit fits the bill perfectly. As good as it looks with a white tee underneath, I really like how dungarees look with printed blouses and shirts. I especially love this powder blue kitty blouse.


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I think my favourite outfit has to be "brunch with the girls" - although "cinema" and "shopping" are close contenders! I am heavily coveting the white backpack. tan heels, camel top, denim skirt, pale blue jeans, yellow bag, lace top, everything from the "cinema" look, the dungarees, the cat shirt... who I am kidding?! I want and love them all! <3

Which look is your favourite?

Saturday, 19 March 2016

#15 Life as we know it

This weekend has been a bit of a novelty. Because for once, I didn't have any plans whatsoever. But that's ok. I told myself I'd get myself organised and tidy my room, but that didn't go well. Particularly when I was surprised by the arrival of  my sister who had come back from uni for the Easter holidays and I was so massively happy and distracted, tidying suddenly seemed like a really boring idea. We unanimously decided it was one of those weekends that we didn't fancy stepping outside for. It was grey and murky outside, and we're not about that life. So instead we thought what better excuse to sit around watching Disney films? Watching Disney films in your twenties is hilarious. Let's just say, when no longer equipped with a young and innocent child's mind, some lines in Disney films are pretty damn filthy (watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks for the best line ever from one of the children, Paul!). But that aside, it was nice to have a break away from my phone and computer for a change. I also delved into my adult colouring book to continue one of the patterns I'd started over Christmas.


Late afternoon we tucked into hot cross buns, getting into the Easter spirit a whole week early. Normally I don't eat hot cross buns (I like raisins / sultanas / currants but can't stand traditional hot cross buns for some weird reason!), however last year Aldi stocked these beautiful varieties of hot cross buns that even I ate. So we were pretty delighted to discover them in Aldi again this year. Instead of the traditional raisins / sultanas / currants, these contain chocolate and toffee, and cranberry and orange. When placed under the grill, they let off the most delicious aroma in the kitchen. The cranberry and orange one actually smells kind of festive, and although it's clearly not Christmas, Easter is approaching - so in this instance, it's just a different sort of festive for a different public holiday! 


They taste so special and luxurious. In fact, if I was presented these in a blind taste challenge with other hot cross buns from the high street, I would have thought these were from one of the more upmarket supermarkets and that these would cost a pretty penny. But no. A four pack of either of these will set you back a mere... 99p.


Food photography requires discipline and restraint. Particularly when lovely warm hot cross buns are sitting right in front of you, and taunting you. I have neither discipline or self restraint. Hence why I had to get a cheeky bite before I could continue. Oops. But worth it.


Tomorrow morning we're planning a brunch extraordinaire of avocado toast which makes me all kinds of happy. As does managing to find frozen pre-peeled avocados in Tesco, which'll take out the fuss of avocado prep tomorrow morning. We literally just have to leave to defrost overnight and ta da... Other than that, I'm tempted to head back to Aldi and pick up more hot cross buns for Easter weekend. They are seriously that good.

What have you been to up this weekend? 

This post is not a sponsorship, and has been written of my own accord. Love of Aldi's hot cross buns, my own.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

REVIEW // A few nights at Citizen M Hotel

I would like to skip back to my birthday if I may? It was round about this time that M. treated me to a few nights away in London. We visited an Alice in Wonderland exhibition at the Museum of Childhood, went to a Spanish food festival on London's Southbank and drank our fine share of wine. We stayed at the London Citizen M Hotel, after M. had heard nothing but good reviews about it. I recently re-found all the pictures I took and was reminded what a lovely stay we had there and how this was something I definitely wanted to cover here on Curiouser and Curiouser.


THE ROOM
Being lovers of technology, we both really liked the tablet based room controls which could be used as a remote to the TV, to control the mood lighting in the room and bathroom, the blinds, and the music playing in the room. As you can imagine, we had plenty of fun with this. Me turning the bathroom lighting to green and then danger danger red when he'd disappeared into the toilet for too long. Him providing me with rainbow lighting when I was in the shower. The possibilities were endless. The deep red lighting was really dark and sultry -  perfect for nights in.


Not the biggest selection of films, but plenty of ones I hadn't seen before (always a plus!). One night we opted for A Million Ways to Die in the West as Family Guy / Ted humour appeals to us. And another night, Powder Room, as my mate's girlfriend stars in it and I've always been intrigued to see it (plus we both love Sheridan Smith!). Not solely restricted to comedies and family classics, there are a good range of adult films available too.


I loved all the extra little details - their witty text just about on every product in the room.
 My favourites being the door hanger and the dust bag for the hair-dryer:

 "Don't come in, there's someone naked in here"

Another personal favourite of ours were the blackout blinds (something that is very important to us -- as we can't sleep with the slightest sliver of light coming in through the window!). You could either have a thin film type of blind, or a thicker one which offered complete black out. Some people may not care for the city views we had out our window, but I personally loved watching the bustle of people walking back and forth on a day where I normally would have been at work myself. I loved how the bed was nestled up close to the window, with the outside framed like a picture.

 FOOD

We didn't get breakfast or dinner from the hotel as we know of so many lovely eateries in London already - but definitely something I'd try next time I stay at Citizen M. It's worth noting that there were lots of handy places for food nearby - like Vapiano and Marks & Spencer (we picked up our breakfast pastries from here).


RECEPTION

But despite not eating at the hotel, the downstairs seating area was pretty spectacular. There were both spaces indoors next to bookshelves filled with interesting knick knacks, and also a garden style seating area in the middle. The hotel boasts lovely decor on the ground floor, is peaceful, and the sort of place I'd love to go back to with my laptop and blog from. 


SUMMARY

In summary I found this particular branch of Citizen M to be well thought out and stylishly minimalist and chic. It definitely wasn't the biggest of hotel rooms I've stayed in - but having said that, you'll be hard pressed to find a sizeable hotel room in Central London! I loved the humour, wit and fun of this place. And the in-room tech made it feel very current. To read more on the hotel and to view room rates, you can find this information on their website here.

Have you ever stayed at a Citizen M hotel before?