Saturday, 27 February 2016

Afternoon Tea at St Michael's Manor, St Albans

St Michaels Manor St Albans afternoon tea macaron mille feuille
St Michaels Manor St Albans afternoon tea teacup
St Michaels Manor St Albans afternoon tea chandelier
St Michaels Manor St Albans afternoon tea scone with cream

It was my Mum's 70th in January, and my sister Becky and I organised a weekend of treats for her to celebrate. Typically for us, they all revolved around food - brunch at The Beech House, dinner at Loch Fyne and finally afternoon tea at St Michael's Manor. Out of the four of us - my niece also came along - I think I was the only one who'd been for afternoon tea before, which made me realise that I'm spoiled - I feel like I go a lot! Perhaps it's a blogger thing - it's definitely been a theme at more than one event.

This was my first visit to St Michael's Manor, and it didn't disappoint. It's a beautiful, grand hotel which is a little surprising as it's tucked away down narrow little Fishpool Street. Sadly it was pouring with rain, but I'm hoping to go back in better weather to explore the grounds - they looked absolutely gorgeous. We were seated in the Lake Restaurant and ordered the Full Afternoon Tea, which included scones, cakes and sandwiches, plus a choice of tea. Rather than getting the Champagne Afternoon Tea, which includes a glass each, we ordered a bottle of prosecco to share instead... because we knew we'd want more than one glass of fizz, obvs.

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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Macarons and manicures

Brioche Pasquier Macaron Manicure Party
Brioche Pasquier Macaron Manicure Party
Brioche Pasquier Macaron Manicure Party

For someone who doesn’t like tea, I sure love an excuse for a tea party. In fact, I keep thinking about starting a collection of oh-so-twee vintage mismatched teacups and saucers. They’re just so pretty! And I could put gin in them!

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Friday, 19 February 2016

Recipe: Caramelised Chinese Pork Belly

Blue Dragon Chinese New Year Caramelised Pork Belly

It's been less than a week since I moved back home, but already I'm walking in the front door and am greeted with "So what are we having tonight?" It's actually quite nice cooking for a bigger group than just the two of us, although come next week, I will be getting back to my batch cooking ways. It's just easier, cheaper, and more efficient.

But for now, I appear to be working my way round the world with cuisines and passing the benefits onto my parents. This week, we've already had Italian and now it's time for Chinese. And a dash of Thai. In honour of Chinese New Year, Blue Dragon sent me a bumper pack of ingredients to cook up a feast, and I obliged.
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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Recipe: Tomato Bruschetta Garlic Bread

Tomato Bruschetta Garlic Bread for Expedia

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed a lot of complaining over the last couple of weeks about moving house. Like, a LOT. It really is the worst – there’s always so much more to pack than you think, and then once you’ve loaded a million boxes and done a thousand trips in the car, there’s all the cleaning left to deal with. And to add insult to injury, once all THAT’S done, you have to tackle unpacking at the other end. Ugh.

The worst thing about moving this time around though, is adjusting to living with my parents again – and this time, with Matt. As much as we appreciate the opportunity, we always knew it would be difficult to swap a two bedroom flat for my parents’ spare room, but as we try to find space for all our things, it’s just dawning how difficult. And that’s with two thirds of our belongings in storage, too. But it’s for the greater good – by the end of the year we’ll hopefully have our own place… and if not, we’ll have a lot of money in the bank! It’s going to be a challenging few months, but I think we can do it.

Expedia challenged me to make a romantic Italian-themed meal for Matt and I in celebration of Valentine’s Day, but as you saw, we could only manage takeaway pizza on the big day (and even though pizza is technically Italian, I don’t think Domino’s counts…). And so, a few days later, I took over my Mum’s kitchen and made a romantic Italian-themed meal for Matt and I. And my parents. Because sometimes you have to ignore the theme, and just make your Mum and Dad a nice thank you meal for disrupting their home all weekend and leaving your chaos everywhere. I’ll move those boxes soon, Mum, promise.

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Monday, 15 February 2016

The real meaning of Valentine's Day.

Rakuten Bloggers Pizza Picnic

I have very conflicted feelings about Valentine’s Day. The thing is, I was single for around a decade before Matt came along, and during that time I was pretty anti the whole shebang. I mean, it’s just a made up day designed to sell cards and flowers, right?

Well, yes. And also, as a single person, I’d feel a bit grumpy about my single status while watching most of the couples I knew get into arguments over the weight of expectation on V-Day. It just all seemed a bit odd, to me.

Now, though, I’m in a relationship, and torn between my anti-Valentine’s feelings and, y’know, quite wanting to be given a big box of chocolates. I'd also accept some more Melissa/Westwood shoes like these. So I always think of what my friend told me she did to mark Valentine’s with her husband: “We just use it as an excuse to have something really nice to eat.” Now THAT’S a message I can get behind.
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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Trip planning: Bruges

Trip planning for Bruges

We're off to Bruges next month for our second anniversary, and I can't wait! It's funny, Matt and I have travelled to a few places together - Florence, Paris, New York - but all of them are places I've been to before, so Bruges is extra exciting as it'll be new for both of us. Picking up some bargain tickets in the winter Eurostar sale is becoming something of a tradition, and it is a great feeling knowing that you're going away for a total steal. £70 return? Laaavely.

But what to do? I am a BLANK SLATE. All I know about Bruges is that beer is a big theme (and if I haven't learned to like it by now, I probably never will), but I'm hoping for other Belgian experiences like chocolate and waffles. Is Belgian wine a thing? Let's hope so.

It just looks beautiful and I'm excited to spend a long weekend exploring somewhere new. But I'd love your recommendations! Great restaurants, things to see, places to visit, stuff to do... hit me with it in the comments or on Twitter.
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Sunday, 7 February 2016

A Burns Night Feast with #TravelodgeFoodies

Cranachan - cream and raspberries dessert for Burns Night
Haggis, neeps and tatties for Burns Night

I love being challenged to make something new. It might not always go to plan, but I always learn something along the way, and it’s always fun. So, with Burns Night last week, I was challenged to create a Scottish feast for a few friends as part of Travelodge's #TravelodgeFoodies and threw myself into coming up with Cock-A-Leekie soup, Neeps and Tatties, Cranachan and of course... Haggis.

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