Accidental Coriander and Bacon Frittata

I think this might just be the best thing I have ever cooked. Ever.
I don’t know how it happened, but I suppose hunger does that to a girl. Survival etc.

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset
All day I had been looking forward to left over curry (I have a bit of a weird thing for cold curry. I am convinced, and I am fully aware I am alone in this, that it tastes better). It was that super-excited, get-me-through-today kind of excitement for this left over curry, and I got home only to find my mother eating it. Heartbroken.
Anyway, I trotted over to the fridge to explore potential meals. Why is it when you’re hungry the fridge always seems really empty, no matter how well stocked it is??? I’m trying to reduce my carbs at the moment so bread, rice, pasta etc were all out. What I did have were eggs and my new Le Creuset pan thing so the only logical conclusion was frittata! Not that I have ever made frittata before, hence the surprise that it takes the the crown as Best Thing Ever. So, I give you bacon frittata, starring my new favourite herb, coriander…

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

1 Shallot (chopped)
2 rashers smoked bacon (Chopped – lardons would also work(I am afraid I am going to insist on the smoked variety. It adds to the taste and makes you think of summer campfires and friends and s’mores))
1 clove garlic (crushed or chopped)
3 eggs (or as many as you want. At least three though)
Milk
Salt
Pepper
Fresh Coriander
A few cherry tomatoes
Parmesan Cheese
Avocado (optional)

Crack the eggs into a jug or bowl, chuck some milk in (about 200mls but the exact quantity isn’t overly important) along with some salt and pepper, and whisk with a fork. Leave to one side for later.
Pour about a tablespoon of oil into a pan and turn to a medium heat. When hot, turn down the heat slightly, add the bacon and stir for a bit until it looks cooked and is starting to leave a residue. Add the shallot and continue to stir. You really do not want this to stick. When the onion is looking soft, add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Turn the heat off but leave the pan in place popping in the tomatoes and ripped coriander. Try and make sure there isn’t an abundance of ingredients on the very edge of the pan. Pour egg solution in and put into the oven for about 15 minutes. When the eggs are set, cooked and coming away from the edge, remove from the oven and sprinkle freshly grated parmesan (or pecorino) over the top. I served this with an avocado. When I say serve, I mean I cut an almost-too-soft-but-just-right avocado in half and munched the entire thing with my frittata. I guess you could share this but…it’d be a struggle.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Advertisements

Buzzing about Beauty in Debenhams

I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek at all the gorgeous new products coming to Debenhams for S/S15 last Thursday, and my, what an adventure it was. The interior of the lift had been decorated with clouds so by the time we landed in the midst of manicures and were handed a cocktail, we were thoroughly in the holiday spirit!

deb10As seen on so many catwalks, contouring is still a firm beauty favourite, and with so many brands offering contouring kits, now is the perfect time to give it a go!

deb8

I fell slightly in love with this Clinique oversized chubby stick! It’s a super easy to use illuminator and is so creamy yet light. It’s on my wish shopping list!

debs2

#NoFilter? This is surely a must for any Instagram selfie queen – light filtering photo enhancing powders. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to try them but I am intrigued. I want to try them all and take lots of photos in front of the Eiffel Tower with a little beret…
deb1

debsbeauty

deb4

Exciting news! Make Up Forever is launching in Debenham’s on May 19th. I have never actually tried any of its products before, but luckily some lovely people all the way from France had come over especially for the occasion and gave us both beautiful makeover. The real clincher here is that the makeup is waterproof. Yup, you read that right. w-a-t-e-r-p-r-o-o-f. Including the foundation and bronzer. There is even eyeliner for the waterline that doesn’t budge. This, girls, is pretty much the holy grail of cosmetics. SUN, SEA, MAKEUP!!!!!

deb5

download

And here is the beautiful Rosalyn after her makeover (ignore the eyelashes – she has far more dedication than me and has extensions). Her skin is glowing!

deb7

Nomdeb9

So many products, only one face. Sad times. What do you think you’ll be looking out for?

Matcha Miracle

I have a confession…my name is Charlotte and I have a Matcha green tea addiction. Next to my office we have a rather cool little coffee shop called Black Sheep (absolutely try it if you’re in the area. The cakes are pretty special too). The coffee there is so good that none of us can actually drink Starbucks now without major regret. So when last week one of my colleagues ordered a Matcha green tea instead of a latte, I was confused, intrigued and shocked all at once. It had been a long day. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want a green tea when they could have the dulcet, caffeinated notes of coffee to caress the tongue instead. I had to try it. It must be special.

I know it looks like swamp water. Just embrace it.
I know it looks like swamp water. Just embrace it.

The next day I tried it. Calling it legal crack is probably not the image the Buddhist monks who have been drinking it for centuries want it to have, but hey,  it’s a fair analogy. That evening I went home and cooked a risotto (I haven’t cooked in aged because I am just so tired in the evenings after working and studying all day). I also baked muffins AT THE SAME TIME with only one hiccough (they were courgette muffins so I personally think the accidental addition of the Risotto’s stock improved them). I then had enough energy to enthusiastically study for a further two hours and was tucked up in bed by 10.30.  Whut.

Look how studious it makes me!
Look how studious it makes me!

For a few months now I’ve felt constantly stressed from working and studying simultaneously, with my memory being awful and feeling generally foggy; not drinking for a month definitely improved this slightly but I still felt permanently tired and lazy with no motivation to anything that wasn’t strictly necessary.

It didn't last long
It didn’t last long

I’m telling you, matcha is a miracle.

General green tea addiction. Excuse the eggs.
General green tea addiction. Excuse the eggs.

It’s expensive but worth it. Healthier than coffee with more caffeine, and packed full of antioxidants, the zenergy is intense. I feel focused, able to happily get up at 6am (I have always been very much a late sleeper) and alive. I even bought my own tub and accompanying milk frother so I can have one in the morning at home.

How to have a luxury lifestyle on a budget

Luxury lifestyle on a budget

It’s no secret that I have rather expensive taste. Unfortunately, as many people before me have noticed, studying for a postgrad degree is not conducive to maintaining the shopping addiction.
The good news is that with a little patience and time, it is actually possible to shop as before without the massive price tags. The trade off is that you probably won’t have quite as much choice and might not find exactly what you’re looking for, but I guess that’s an even better way to save money, right?
So here are my online shopping secrets, don’t tell everyone…
www.allbeauty.com
This is an absolute treasure trove of cosmetics, beauty products, perfume, hair styling potions, skin care…the lot. There’s a massive range of brands and price points, from Rimmel to La Prarie and everything in between, this is a great place to find your favourite products at up to 84% off and discover new ones. I am now OBSESSED with Dr. Brandt (especially pores no more and the flexitone bb creme). Even better, the P+P is free on orders over £15 and my orders have all arrived within two days. I may have a mild addiction to this website. The stock does change, as do the prices, so the general rule is if you see something you love at an amazing price, buy it. If you get something and fall in love, buy another one quickly!! Confession time. Whilst fact checking (a very important part of blogging) I may or may not have distracted myself for 20 minutes ‘present shopping’. Do not click if you have something pressing to do.

www.shoeaholics.com
Kurt Geiger designs beautiful, wonderful shoes. Well known fact. What isn’t quite as well known is Shoeaholics – a discount shoe website operated by aforementioned KG babe with savings of up to 75%. The trade off is that many pieces are ex display, so may not be absolutely pristine, but it will say and depending on the price, it may still be worth it if you can arm yourself with a few cleaning products. (I just did it again. This blog post is costing me a fortune. Navy suede, Kurt Geigers as you asked). There is also a pesky £5 delivery charge, but I guess that’s what I’d spend in petrol and parking…right?

www.TKMaxx.com
I don’t know why they didn’t branch into eCommerce sooner. As a shop, TKMaxx is stressful, frustrating and permanently grubby. Online, however it is akin to Aladdin’s cave, rammed full with ever changing pieces. You will need patience to peruse the categories, but it is undoubtedy worth it as the online stock always seems to be a lot better than what they get in some of the stores, and when it arrives it is in perfect condition complete with dustbag/ cases (where appropriate), as I assume pieces come straight from a warehouse, bypassing mucky paws on the shop floor. It’s free postage over 50 quid too…just sayin’. If you come across a label you don’t recognise, shopping on their website means you can google to gauge prices, quality etc.

www.wahanda.com
If you have any hairdresser/beautician loyalty, this is probably not the site for you. Great for finding new salons, and sometimes super nice salons, for a fraction of the normal price, Wahanda is a discounted directory of beauty shops. You can get up to about 70% off sometimes, plus Wahanda is always emailing out discount codes. A word of caution – always check out their website, look at photos and if you can find reviews, read them. Most shops will offer a returning discount to encourage you to return.

www.secretsales.com
If you haven’t already heard of this, get on it! Each day new brand sales go live with incredible discounts. There is also an outlet but you’ll need a fair stroke of luck to find what you like in your size. Just sign up and check the site every few days (it has a calendar so you can see what sales are coming up) and set an alarm so you don’t forget. It’s essentially a sample sale hub without the risk of bruised ribs and hour long queues.

So there you are – a guide to living and shopping well at a fraction of the price! What are your favourite places to visit for a guaranteed bargain? Let me know!

Charlotte xx

Shh…Sneak Peek at Radley’s SS15 bags

When I think Radley, I think cute dog dangling from leather bag. I’m wrong. The SS15 collection from Radley breaks all premise of previous designs; it is cool, colourful, and totally on trend. With colour blocking, texture playing and different styles, it has taken a small risk, but my, has it paid off. Each style has been carefully designed and beautifully created, and by moving away from the little scottie motif (sniff)  it will appeal to a broader market who previously may have seen the brand as a little mummyish. Is the new collection mummyish? Not a chance. Sure, it features some classic shapes, but they are timeless, and with the Delevingne being the face of one of Britain’s most popular heritage brands, Mulberry, classic has never been more on trend. Now is the time to buy Radley.

photo 1

photo 2photo 3

But it goes further. It plays with hues, mixing orange, red and pink in the same piece. There are adorable back packs. There are nautical pieces, laser punched handbags, and a colour called aluminium which may just be the prettiest shade of grey I have ever seen on a bag.

photo 2

I’m a little in love with it all. Particularly this combination of colours;

photo 4

| am also totally besotted with my new personalised luggage tag. I now feel obliged to take a mini break just to use it!

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly away.

One of the things I’m most excited for this winter is the prospect of wearing capes. Deep down I don’t think I’ve ever grown up since the days of running around my garden with a piece of fabric fastened to the back of my neck, pretending I was a witch. Or a superhero. And let’s not forget Harry Potter chic. This season’s capes are a little less gaudy, not as Halloween witchy and altogether far more socially acceptable, nay, encouraged.

Aren’t they pretty?

Check cape, Next, £65, Fringed Poncho,  East, £69, Camel Cape, M&S £110, Fur trimmed cape, Accessorize, £35, Tartan cape, Newlook, £19.99
Check cape, Next, £65, Fringed Poncho, East, £69, Camel Cape, M&S £110, Fur trimmed cape, Accessorize, £35, Tartan cape, Newlook, £19.99

Burberry SS15

Full of graphic florals, colour blocks and turquoise, Burberry’s SS15 show should have been pretty good. And most of the pieces were; I’m absolutely loving the netting, layers and bold brushstrokes. But we need to talk about the Birkenstock inspired footwear. Seriously. Was one summer not enough? What happened to delicate heeled sandals, leg lengthening yet comfortable wedges or at least gladiator sandals? Why is Burberry doing this to us? Not even Suki Waterhouse looks good in flat, practical sandals. The suede works as a perfect contrast to the delicate fabric of the dresses, yet the style of the shoes just clashes. That said, I’m sure every model who walked was eternally grateful to Mr Bailey for fall-resistant sandals!

0 (2) 0 (1) 0

Late Turner at the Tate Date

The moment I saw the Late Turner exhibition on Twitter it found a spot on my Autumn To Do list. So when a friend I hadn’t seen for (we worked this out and whimpered) two and a half years asked if anyone wanted to see it with him, I couldn’t respond quickly enough.

photo 1
The glorious Tate Britain

After fighting my way through the standard super car traffic of Knightsbridge and taking a couple of expected wrong turns we were finally reunited and headed off to the Tate Britain to see the pretty painting and grab a much needed coffee.  Photography isn’t allowed within the exhibition, but I’ve included a few from the Tate website.

photo 2

Visually, Turner is brilliant. I saw the Turner and the Sea exhibition at the National Gallery earlier in the year, so it was wonderful to experience a concentration of his later works, where he had totally refined and developed his skill, used beautiful, bold colours yet was still experimental.

Peace - Burial at Sea
Peace – Burial at Sea

Naturally I don’t like all of his pieces, in fact I downright dislike some of the less saturated works. His paintings of Venice, Italian mountains and the sea in particular, however, more than make up for this in my opinion (not that I’d complain at all at having any Turner hanging in my house, ever). Some of his watercolours are also on display in the Tate. So beautifully detailed, he does with watercolour paints what I thought would only be done with oils. We couldn’t help but wonder how furious he would have been if he had accidentally splashed or dripped a terrible wrong colour on the painting in its final phases. Me? I’d have cried.

Regulus 1828
Regulus 1828

One of the most interesting things about seeing so many Turners so close is that you can really appreciate the level of detail that each painting possesses. His brushstrokes, while seemingly random, are so deliberate and incredible detail is achieved despite the frequent mistiness. His are not works that you can glance at before moving on; the more you look the more you see. Unfortunately we looked at one piece a little too hard and spotted a skull shaped white patch on a lady’s dress. Creepy.

Late Turner is running until 25th January 2015 and tickets are: Adult £16.50 (without donation £15.00) or Concession £14.50 (without donation £13.10)

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/ey-exhibition-late-turner-painting-set-free

If you go or have been, let me know what you think!!

photo 4
Gratuitous gallery shot

Coding Clothes

My timelines are currently full of images of this top, along with comments criticizing and questioning Spanish fashion retailer, Zara’s sense and sensitivity. Bad taste or bandwagon? Word on the street is that this top for children is too close in design to the pyjamas issued by the Nazis to concentration camp prisoners. Sure, we have stripes. And yup, there’s a star too. With the word ‘sheriff’ written on it.

Those of you with an eagle eye will spot that the stripes in question here are in fact horizontal, and anyone with a basic historical knowledge of WWII knows that the stripes forced upon thousands of innocents were vertical. In fact, this top evokes the holocaust in the same way Christian Louboutin is an ardent communist supporter. But then, I suppose bandwagons are fun to jump on, especially when something so controversial is at the centre, and this isn’t the first time Zara has caused outrage in an on behalf of the Jewish community; let’s not forget the swastika bag debacle of 2007. That aside, this particular tee shirt bares more resemblance to the traditional depiction of an inmate’s uniform in a legal prison than to 20th century torture chambers, raising an entirely different question; why on earth has a sheriff retained his badge after being sent to prison? One can only assume that Zara is catering to penny pinching parents by allowing their children to play wild west and cops and robbers seamlessly without so much as a costume change.

Zara isn’t the only fashion retailer to have found itself on the wrong side of the internet’s opinion in the past week for perceived offensive connotations. Mere days after the murder of journalist James Foley, Ann Summers launched a lingerie range named ‘Isis’. Obviously this wasn’t named after a certain Islamic militant group but instead after the Ancient Egyptian goddess of mothers and nature. Unlike Zara, who pulled the top from shelves, Ann Summers simply issued an apology for any offence caused but stated quite clearly that they would not be pulling it, nor changing the name. This is a decision that should be applauded; yes, ISIS is the abbreviated name given to the Syrian Government and Islamic State, but first and foremost it was the name of a goddess and of course a river in Oxford. Why on earth should the name be appropriated by evil with no refund option available? When I read the Harry Potter books for the first time, I found it strange that Voldemort was constantly referred to as ‘he who must not be named’, as if not mentioning the name of one who encompasses the fear of a society suppresses the force. It doesn’t, as was proven in most of Rowling’s later books. Isis is a very appropriate name for a lingerie range. It evokes beauty, femininity and gentleness, indeed everything that the recently prolific ISIS is not. 

Of course fashion can be, and has been used many times to make political statements, but this isn’t always the case. If Zara had thought for a second an innocently designed top for a child would cause outrage, it would never had produced it for fear of damaging its reputation and losing profits. Ann Summers chose the name for its bras months ago, before the majority of people had any idea who or what ISIS stood for. Fashion should be enjoyed and played with, not examined and analysed as if it were a long-lost play of the Bard. Sometimes, there is no deeper meaning or political statements. 

 

Australasia (Manchester)

I spent the weekend in Manchester, visiting one of my best friends who has run away, back up to the North. There aren’t a huge amount of advantages to this, but it was very nice to get away for the weekend and see somewhere new(ish). Living in the area, she has a rather good knowledge of the local places, or at least the ones worth knowing, and so booked us a table for lunch at Australasia.

Walking into the restaurant required entering a small glass pyramid, not unlike a Honey-I-Shrunk-The-Kids style louvre and going underground. Given its subterranean positioning, the entire establishment was light and bright whilst retaining its atmosphere, with delicate creamy yellow glows being emitted from low hanging lamps over each table (I was a little concerned that I would bang my head on ours, but apparently the the height and position were designed with clumsy people like me in mind).

There was no rush to have us seated and were invited to have a drink at the bar before we sat down for lunch, if we wished. We did. Naturally. Shortly after, we were lead to our table. The pale wood tables, cream wicker chairs and nautical cushions very much echo the restaurant’s name, and it is possible to briefly forget you are several foot below a major, damp, British city and could instead be on the other side of the world.

There are a couple of ways to eat, we were informed by our very attentive, friendly waiter, as he handed us our menus, one carefully annotated with gluten free options for my friend. We could either opt for several sharing dishes, which would mainly consist of Japanese, South East Asian fusions, or we could choose a starter and a more traditional main course, called ‘Big Plates’. We decided a main and a dessert would go down well.

I went for the cep buttered corn-fed chicken with girolle mushroom fricassée (nope, not sure what that all means either), whilst my friend selected the duck breast with butternut squash, quince and roasted hazelnuts, each with a side of sweet potato and rosemary mash. Given the number of fellow diners, the arrival of our food was speedy and beautifully presented. But they didn’t sacrifice substance for style in either dish. The flavours worked wonderfully and each mouthful was as exciting as the previous. I was quite disappointed when I finished what was a fairly generous portion.

Image
Corn-fed chicken with girolle mushroom fricassée

For dessert, and this really tested my decision making ability, I plumped for the passion fruit soufflé with pistachio ice-cream and
coconut sauce, based on the principle I couldn’t make it myself, and Charlotte had the lemon crème brûlée with raspberry sorbet. It whisked me up and took me off to food heaven, where I stayed for the cosmic duration of soufflé’s life. It as just…I have no words. And it came with unexpected honeycomb crunchy bits. It was a bit like receiving diamonds for your birthday and then discovering you’ve been bought the mine too. Sort of, I imagine.

Image
Passion fruit soufflé with pistachio ice cream

All in all, it was splendid. Definitely somewhere to go next time I venture upwards.