Apple Cake

Last weekend was the first weekend my beloved KitchedAid spent in the flat, pride of place on the kitchen work top, just wonderful.

We had plans for our friends to come round and watch Frozen (late to the party I know, but yes, it was amazing) so I thought it'd be best to bake an apple cake. Apple cake is my absolute favourite, yet quite underrated by most I feel. When I was younger and we used to go and visit my Babcia (grandma) she would always have an apple cake baked ready for us, and I always used to go back for seconds and thirds - I still do.

I baked the cake using the recipe from my Basics Basic Baking Handbook, a foolproof recipe that has never failed me. You will see in the pictures that the bottom of the cake looks doughy and underdone - I'm still figuring out the limits of the fan oven in my new flat - BUT I really didn't mind because it gave a really lovely puddingy texture. I also love to add more than the recommended amount of cinnamon just to make sure the taste comes through but still isn't over powering - plus it makes it smell extra delicious when in the oven.

The cake went a treat with only a few slices left on Sunday morning, which me and the boy OBVIOUSLY had for breakfast! And kudos to the boy who took the last two photos, such a superstar!

What's your favourite kind of cake?

Throwback Thursday | Frank

I missed last week's post purely because I was too het up with seeing the Arctic Monkeys on Friday (an amazing night, I might add). This week I'm going to do another more 'recent' throwback thursday album by one of my ultimate favourite artists, Amy Winehouse.

'Frank', was the singer's debut album - released 20th October 2003 on EMI. It is widely known that Amy Winehouse wasn't actually entirely satisfied with the album due to recording company pressures, and although the sound and style of Frank differs widely from her second, and much more popular album 'Back to Black', I still think this album deserves some recognition.

It's true to say that 'Frank' has strong jazz influences, compared to the much more Motown-esque vibes on 'Back to Black', but I like it, I like everything about it, because it is still infused with strong hip hop beats throughout.

I have a couple of standout tracks on the album 'Intro/Stronger Than Me', which introduces us to Winehouse's strong attitude towards relationships. What I really love about this album is the lyrics, which at some points make you choke with laughter, and this song is certainly an example of that. My next standout track is 'Fuck Me Pumps', which innocently sings of the distaste Winehouse finds in the way girls act to get that guy. Again, the lyrics in this song are so pungent, its hard not to scoff with laughter at the observations. 'In My Bed' is another example of Winehouse's opinions and attitudes towards relationships.

There's many reasons I love this album but one of them is the rawness of Winehouse's lyrics, and her amazing ability to tell stories that in some cases could be perceived as slightly mundane, in the most captivating and sometimes hilarious ways. Her opinions and views shine through like a beacon of hope for all female artists and females alike, as she bluntly tells everything the way it is. I'm a sucker for a good lyric, if you didn't already know, which is why I find this album so great in so many ways.

I strongly believe that Amy Winehouse was one of the best lyricists in recent years and it's a crying shame that she's no longer here to share her talents with the world. But instead of leaving this post on a sad and mournful note, I want to celebrate her contribution to music, including Frank (as I feel it's forgotten more often than not), and remind everyone - if you didn't already need reminding - of what a fucking awesome artist she was and still is.

Holiday Wears | Bikini Edit

We're just a couple of days away from booking the flights for our first ever holiday (five years later... I know) and although as I'm writing this, the British skies are grey and gloomy, all I can think about is buying loads of brightly coloured, wildly patterned holiday wears.

Here's my bikini edit - special mention to George at ASDA, so affordable and such excellent designs, bravo!

Rose print bikini set, £12 - As a lover of all things floral, despite not being girly in the slightest, it was love at first sight with this bikini set, and at just over a tenner for the set, who can argue?

Multi-colour bandeau bikini set, £12 - Another favourite from George, its bright and loud and I love a bandeau. 

Leopard print 'two sizes bigger' bikini set, £12 - I'm not really one for being bothered about having padding in a bikini but I just adore the print, again loud, bright as well as beautiful. 

Green palm tree print bikini, top £16, bottoms £12 -  I love a bustier type design and high waisted bottoms so this is right up my street, I love the design but would slightly worry about the potential for an untanned mid-riff. It's slightly more expensive at £28 for the set, which makes me wince a bit, but certainly not the most expensive bikini in the world.

White polka dot frilled bikini, top £9.99, bottoms £7.99 -  A slightly more acceptably priced option from H&M, I really like the polka dot pattern, and never thought myself partial to a frill but I guess you can't choose who what you love, eh?

Vintage floral bikini set, £26 - This has actually disappeared off the Topshop website now, naughty, but I still love the turquoise and contrasting pink print, but Topshop, why do you take away the things I like?!

Le Volume de Chanel Mascara

A.K.A. The best mascara in the world.

I'm so excited to finally do a blog post about this, I've been waiting till I had to buy a new one and it happened, albeit a *little* sooner than I'd have liked...

I was on the bus one morning last week doing my makeup (naughty) and thinking to myself 'I must get a new Chanel mascara soon, this one is running out'. But before I could even finish my inner monologue, pondering the glorious moment of splashing out on a new mascara as well as using my double points voucher, the mascara wand flew out of my hand and onto the bus floor. The grimey, filthy, dirty upper deck floor of the 453. The horror. Thank goodness I'd actually finished applying my mascara, because there was NO way that newly disease ridden applicator was going anywhere near my eyes. So it was decided, that was the day I'd get a new mascara.

My love affair for the Volume de Chanel mascara came at the end of last year when my sister sent me a link for a free sample size mascara for the launch. Naturally I got two using my address and my boyfriend's address, cheeky but clever. Some of the girls I was working with at the time also got some sent and there was a general positive feeling on the mascara, apart from a few who didn't really like it. But I guess each to their own, as we all know with beauty bits.

I absolutely LOVE this mascara though, I have quite long lashes anyway, and never use an eyelash curler (as a benchmark) but I feel like it not only thickens my lashes, the mascara lengthens as well as separates. 

The brush is plastic, and unlike anything I've seen before, apart from potentially the old Rimmel Sexy Curves mascara without the curvy brush. With this mascara, I only need to apply a couple of strokes and I'm done. And as for longevity, I never have a problem with any mascara coming off (?!) during the day and the same goes for Volume de Chanel. The colour is the blackest of black which I absolutely love and the formula is quite fluid - something I had honestly never thought about because there's more to life but y'know, but still, there is something great about the formula.

I hope you can see the brush type from the pictures; I genuinely think it is why this mascara is so damn good. Mascara was always a product I would just buy whatever was cheapest but now I've found this, I couldn't not re-purchase, even at an eye-watering £25 a pop (no pun intended). I have taken 'before' and 'after' pictures so if anyone is desperate to see those, I'll post them!

I can't believe the beauty world has missed this gem of a product because I really think it could be very popular. If you've tried this mascara, let me know what you think or likewise if you purchase off the back of this review.

The Breakfast Club | Shoreditch

The first part of Friday's birthday extravaganza day consisted of heading into Shoreditch for a well deserved and long awaited brunch. I've been wanting to go to The Breakfast Club for an age, and I even remember at Bestival in 2010 there being a humongous queue for The Breakfast Club van in the mornings. 

I have to say it lived up to all my expectations and even more. I went for the Chorizo Hash Browns and the boy, unsurprisingly went for the Full Monty as well as an unfussy mug of tea each and a vanilla ice cream, peanut butter and banana milkshake that I cannot remember the name of, to share. The food was amazing and I loved the spicy kick to my breakfast, but we were both slightly beaten (me more than the boy) by the sheer amount of food. So many potatoes. But on the flip side, when I first looked at the menu I thought it was slightly on the pricey side, but now knowing how much food you actually get, I'd probably say the prices are about fair.

APART FROM, the mugs of tea, of which mine wasn't optimally filled with water, which normally I wouldn't mind but when you're paying £2 for a mug of tea (not even a large), well it makes you wince y'know. And the same applies to the thimble sized (I'm exaggerating) milkshake at over £4. Don't get me wrong the tea was great and the milkshake was absolutely delicious, I just sometimes feel like over charging that much shows a lack of respect for the customer. I don't know, maybe it's just me.
Any who, I have to mention that the staff were extremely attentive, upbeat and friendly which always improves the experience. On arrival, and maybe because we were slightly early, we were 'upgraded' if you will from a table at the back to one of the window benches, which is always nice when that happens; makes you feel like you're being looked after.

The place was absolutely packed and by the time we left at about 11:50, there was a queue almost out of the door for the lunch time rush, which was no surprise to me but actually seeing that is always a good sign. They're obviously doing something right at The Breakfast Club and even though I'm a little late to the party, if you haven't been already, I insist you do so.

Outfit Of The Day | Arctic Monkeys @ Finsbury Park

First of all, I can only apologise for my awkwardness in the following photos, this is my first venture into doing outfit posts, which I really enjoyed preparing but I just think it will take a couple of go's to harness the awkward look on my face.

So yesterday the boy and I took a day off to finally celebrate his birthday, I'm doing this all a bit backwards, but we finished our lovely day by watching the Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park. They are our favourite band collectively, so it was really special and we had an amazing time.

Normally for gigs I'd shy away from wearing anything nice in case of it getting ruined but HEY, you only live once right?! I got this dress from Urban Outfitters in the online sale; a complete steal. I love how loose it is especially as someone who rarely wears dresses - I felt incredibly girly, and obviously made sure everyone knew how girly I felt by wafting my skirt and twirling around, obviously. I can't wait till the summer when I can wear this dress without tights, bring it on!

Dress - O&O @ Urban outfitters
Hoody - Primark
Leather Jacket - Oasis
Shoes - Converse
Leopard Print Socks - New Look (because it's important)
Bag - Deena & Ozzy @ Urban Outfitters

True Grace Green Fig Candle

I love fresh candle scents - you don't even want to know about my Calvin Klein 'Leaf' obsession - and sometimes I find them hard to come by. Especially when I benchmark everything against my most favourite CK candle, in the whole entire world :)

My old flatmate got this True Grace candle in 'Green Fig' for me for Christmas (ultimate super babe), and I absolutely adore the scent, not only because it is very reminiscent of the fresh appley/limey/everything natural and good scent of CK's 'Leaf' but it is zesty and all things good too.

I haven't lit this candle yet as I'm still enjoying the soft aroma it is giving our new bedroom but I know the scent will be great when I do. I've previously seen the True Grace range in John Lewis and obviously you can find them here, on their own website. I'd definitely recommend getting involved with this brand because of the pure amazingness of this 'Green Fig' scent. 

Plus how lovely is the glass jar?! Just all types of homey wonderful-ness.

Payday Wishlist May 2014

This post is a little late this month, but better late than never. So many good things, not even enough to mention but here's my payday wishlist favourites for May...

1. These loafers from River Island are just TOO good, I went and salivated over them in store as well. I've got a problem. 

2. I need a new makeup bag, and when I say 'need' I really mean 'want'. I really rate the River Island makeup bags and this one is perfect for summer and just general life. 

3. Ever since I got my foundation matched in Space NK and bought the NARS Sheer Glow, I've been lusting after this NARS Laguna bronzer because it gave the most lovely effect. I cannot wait to add this to my *new* makeup bag. 

4. I really don't need another bag but this small studded satchel from Zara is perfect for the warmer months. Usually I stick to dark colours as lighter colours are slightly impractical but I need to get me this. 

5. I bought some lovely little lampshades from ASDA for our new bedroom but when we got home, one of them was missing a part and is now sold out so I want two of these lampshades to replace, and at £7, they're a complete bargain. 

6. One thing that is currently incomplete in my kitchen is some cake tins, perfect for bringing cakes into work to save myself eating all of the cakes in the world. I love the Emma Bridgewater cake tins and now they sell the whole lot in Argos, so convenient. 

7. I've had the 'Infrared' lipstick on my 'to buy' list for so long and now we're in spring, a new orange shade will go just nicely in my makeup routine. 

Oxford & The Ashmolean

So, how amazing is this weather right?! It fills my heart with joy.

On Sunday I travelled with my sister to Evesham to pick up two tickets for the Arctic Monkeys gig at Finsbury Park which will be on Friday. The tickets were a surprise for my boy's birthday earlier this month. The weather was absolutely perfect for driving through the Cotswolds, so we took the opportunity to stop in Oxford on the way back, where my parents met us, and we went for lunch then to the C├ęzanne and the Modern exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum.

The exhibition itself was wonderful, and really opened my eyes to the Impressionist movement in Europe in the late 19th century. I'd recommend a visit if you're in the area, and with our free, three-month art fund passes, we got our entry fees half price. Am I cultured or what?!

After the museum trip we had a walk round the city and found ourselves in The Fudge Kitchen, trying some free samples, needless to say I bought some Salted Caramel Fudge, as it tastes divine.

Despite growing up in the Home Counties, I don't think I'd ever been to Oxford, or at least couldn't remember doing so, but I absolutely loved it. I took some pictures of the amazing architecture you that the city is littered with. I'm not entirely happy with some of these photos but as long as I'm learning I don't mind.

If anyone has any recommendations for places to have lunch in Oxford, hit me up, I'm dying to go back to discover more of the history of Oxford and have a good nosey round all of the colleges.

The Ashmolean Museum

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's College (I think?!)

Lincoln College

Lincoln College

My dad larking around in the doorway to Lincoln College

What's For Lunch Today? Pyrlandia Polish Street Food | Rupert Street Market

Firstly, apologies for the crappy iPhone photos, I don't carry my camera around with me so these will have to do :)

Today I ventured down to the Rupert St Market again to have a bit of a mooch and see what would tickle my fancy. Walking passed the huge queue at the Freebird Burritos stand I went to last week, I saw a lot of pulled pork rolls and burgers, but I was looking for something extraordinary. I knew I would know when I saw it.

Cue, Pyrlandia, the Polish Street Food stall. I didn't even know this puppy existed but am so glad to know now. I knew what I wanted immediately as my Polish belly gravitated closer and closer to the tent. Bigos, all day, every day, with extra sausage; a Pols dream.

Bigos, which translates to 'Hunter's Stew' is very much a 'throw everything in the pot' kind of dish. The base of the stew is sauerkraut and cabbage, and as I know it, has about three or four different types of pork and mushrooms. This particular food stall offered the stew with potatoes or a bun so I went for the potatoes. It reminds me of going to my Grandma's and special occasions, so imagine my delight upon seeing it on my unsuspecting lunch break.

There's no nice way to photograph Bigos, so here's a very rough and ready photo, for a very rough and ready meal.

The meal set me back £6, but it's ok because I am literally stuffed, I wanted to have a choccy bar this afternoon but I just don't see that happening, which I guess is a good thing. I'm SO happy to have found a decent local Polish food stall to my work, as I know it will make lunch time choices that much easier.

Throwback Thursday | (What's The Story) Morning Glory?

I am so excited to do a Throwback Thursday on this album by Oasis as it really is an album everyone should have on their shelf, in my honest, yet humble opinion.

I have to say every time I listen to this album, I feel like I'm rediscovering it for the first time all over again, and that's certainly not a bad thing. '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?' by Oasis brings back so many happy memories of being a young child in the nineties; seeing my childminder's teenage daughters room plastered in Oasis posters, riding along in the car and listening on the radio and watching a group of three year six boys singing 'Wonderwall' in a school talent contest. OH THE NINETIES, how I still cherish you.

Anyway, (What's The Story) Morning Glory? was released on 2nd October 1995 on Creation Records and represents everything that was right with music in the nineties. Aside from all of the anthem singles (of which there were six... six!!!), every song on this album is great. More than great, they're fab. My personal favourite is the album title track '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?', I love the raw guitar sounds with the catchy lyrics. I don't know why, but it reminds me of summer, which definitely gives me positive vibes.

Out of all of the singles, I love 'Roll With It' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger' the most, the former for its upbeat and punchy sound, as well as the fact it is an anthem that everyone knows and the latter because lets be honest, Noel is the real hero of the Oasis story.

Normally I'm not one for interludes on an album, but for some reason I really enjoy the two intwined musical breaks, making the album feel more combined and gelled together than just a collection of songs. Like a rocky piece of art, with attitude to boot.

But we can't talk about Oasis's sophomore (and arguably best) album, without mentioning the final track; 'Champagne Supernova'. I'm a lover of lyrics, and although I don't necessarily understand completely what these lyrics in their entirety mean, the melody encourages an innocence about them, even though the song is probably infused by and littered with references to drugs. But I'm just guessing; most great songs are. Either way you couldn't imagine any other finale to what was then, and has remained such an influential album for our generation and many more to come.

What's For Lunch Today? Freebird Burritos | Rupert St Market

A burrito? On a Monday? Don't worry, this is catch up from Friday's lunch.

Every now and then when I'm in a daring mood, I'll hop off of my creature of habit train and get something different for lunch - this mainly happens when I'm feeling slightly fragile after the night before.

I ventured down to the market stalls on Rupert St in Soho, on the corner of Brewer St and perused the delicious looking eats whilst deciding what I was in the mood for. Cue Freebird Burritos, hard to miss with their bright yellow stall and wonderfully rich delights for the nose.

I got a chicken burrito with black beans, cheese, lettuce, medium salsa (the spiciest medium salsa I've ever had) and veggie salsa. The burrito cost £5.50, which to my knowledge is standard fare, if not slightly cheaper than average but no less full of flavour and um... food.

What I love about burritos is that they're so filling, they're bound to put you right from any alcohol-fuelled fuzzy headed-ness, but are a delicious meal aside from that anyway. Burritos are much more than just a carby hangover cure; but sometimes its really quite hard to come by a decent burrito place as most just lack flavour - I'm looking at you Daddy Donkey and Chilango's. The meat at Freebirds was juicy and full of flavour and their salsa was amongst some of the best I've tried.

I was thoroughly impressed and would definitely go back again to try their pork. You can find Freebirds Burritos across markets in London, and I would recommend paying them a visit, you won't be disappointed.

Rolo Chocolate Cake

Just a quick post to show you the cake I made for my boy's birthday earlier this week. It's a Rolo chocolate cake with a caramel filling and a chocolate buttercream icing. 

It was and still is so yummy. I found the recipe on the Good Food Channel website and even on a first go, it turned out amazingly; I love any cake recipe that uses oil instead of butter or margarine because they always come out light, fluffy and moist.

I'm always so pleased when a cake I've baked turns out well and actually rises, and would definitely give this another go, especially as I need to work on my icing skills. It's a but rough and ready but who cares?! It's cake!

Throwback Thursday | Franz Ferdinand

I've been waiting to find an album that would make you want a cry a little to realise its over 10 years old, so here we are - Franz Ferdinand's self-titled debut album.

Released on 9th February 2004 on Domino, arguably one of the best record labels (but that I guess is a story for another day), Franz Ferdinand were one of the bands at the forefront of the Brit-Rock Indie scene in the early-mid 2000s. I probably won't do this album justice as my sister is the real Franz fan out of the two of us but I'll give it my best shot.

I have to say, this album was innovative and pushed boundaries when it was released, I can't remember there being anything like it at the time. Although it fits nicely into the 'indie' genre pretty perfectly, the sound on this album was punchier and much more involved than the twangy guitar sounds that came later with bands like The Kooks and The Maccabees etc, etc (you know where I'm going with that).

I have to say that 'Take Me Out', the lead single on the album, is certainly up there with my favourite songs from that musical era and I've never seen anyone not dance along to it on a night out. I heard it played by a covers band a few weeks back as an opener to their set and it got everyone going.

Just looking at the track list now makes me want to sit at my desk and listen to it all afternoon, for the nostalgia and also the pure amount of brilliant tracks and musical genius. They're all such strong songs, and the album has quite a distinctive sound all-round, with the typical Franz Ferdinand type drum beat, married with Alex Kapranos' deep, inviting vocals and interesting lyrics, I just can't find a downside to this album.

Unlike many of the bands that emerged during this era, Franz Ferdinand are still making music which can only be testament to their talent and song-writing abilities. I still can't believe this album is just over 10 years old. Do you remember when Franz Ferdinand burst on to the scene? I'd be surprised if you didn't.

NXD Free Film Festival

Just quick apologies if there are any spelling mistakes or anything, I'm without internet for just over another week after moving into a new place and attempting to use my phone, but hold tight, Virgin are on their way.

On Saturday, after only being the new flat for a day and having completed the unpacking, we ventured out to the park up the road where the New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival was hosting it's penultimate evening in the form of... Wait for it... Singalong Grease. Need I say more? Ok I will...

We turned up at 8pm to an already packed field, so ended up wedging ourselves in near the front where people were already sat. There was a jerk chicken BBQ on the go with a constant queue, bikes at the back for anyone to hop on and help power the showing, and a lovely early evening sky, stretching across the London skyline as the sun set.

It took a while for the film to get going but when the music kicked in there was a sea of over 500 strong ear to ear grins, head bopping and singing in unison.

The event did encounter a technical difficulty half way through, but was actually a well needed break for everyone to stretch their legs and pop to the bushes for a wee... I know, but next time NXD, portaloos please!

By the end of the film everyone was up on their feet singing and dancing along, which was so much fun and great to see. 

There's quite a few things I absolutely love about where I live and the real sense of community and bringing people together in New Cross is without a doubt one of the best things.

Here's my best try's at getting some decent iPhone piccies. Does your community do anything like this that you've been to? What do you love most about where you live? 

Throwback Thursday | The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Can we just take a second to appreciate the continuity of this feature? 

Ok, good. And long may it reign.

'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill' - Lauren Hill is an album that everyone needs on their shelf/computer/whatever, you need it in your life. I wanted to write about an album much more recent than last week's instalment, as well as covering a completely different genre to show how varied my taste in music is (although it mainly leans towards boys with guitars), so this album fits the bill perfectly.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released on 25th August 1998 by Ruffhouse Records and Columbia Records. You may know Lauryn for her part in the popular music group The Fugees, her controversial comments related to race, maybe because she's had children with Rohan Marley (one of Bob Marley's sons), or perhaps it's even because she was in Sister Act 2. However you might know of Lauryn Hill, there's one central point and it's because she's bloody talented.

As previously mentioned, this album - as a hip hop album - wouldn't normally come under my line of interest but, it's an iconic album and portrays Hill's raw talent for what it is - unfaltering. The album shifts between songs with interludes of children talking about the meaning of love as a whole and how they interpret it in their day to day life. I guess for me, without looking to much into it, represents the innocence of love and how important it is to the human race, as well as how it touches on every part of our lives. But y'know, that's just an idea.

The tracks on this album range from slow, melodic and meaningful songs to more up tempo songs that you can bounce along to down the road (I know I shouldn't do it, but I can't help myself). In every instance though, the lyrics - whether sung or rapped - are on point and relatable. From Hill's beautiful ode to her son and the unconditional love for him in 'To Zion', to the rose-tinted recollection of her youth in 'Every Ghetto, Every City', to the more general, yet philosophical (in a sense) nature of 'Everything is Everything', this album is absolutely jam-packed with amazing songs that you just won't be able to stop singing.

And just to back up my love for this album (despite it insanely successful), Rolling Stone have included it as No. 5 in their Top 100 Best Albums of the Nineties. I'm sure you've heard of this album before (I'd be a little shocked if you hadn't, just a little), but if you've never taken the time to listen to it, I urge you to do so; this is one album you won't be able to stop playing.