Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A flying visit to Manchester....(PICTURE HEAVY...)

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It's been a shamefully long time since Mark and I last visited Manchester but we headed up at the weekend to catch up with Mark's brother and pay a flying visit to one of  our favourite cities. You can see just how excited we were by these photos, we both really love Manchester and could happily live there, we did see some lovely flats too, I just need to find a job up there! 

Wearing my Seasalt coat (necessary for the rain!), H&M striped top and Mac Impassioned lipstick. 

Manchester Central Library is awesome and I could have spent all day in there, how beautiful are those windows?!

We also made a brief stop in Chinatown to try and find some Chinese figs but to no avail :( I love this archway though, the colours are gorgeous!

Takk Manchester is a super cool Icelandic inspired coffee bar/restaurant in the Northern Quarter where I felt very uncool, this was hipster inspired dining at its best! ;)

This amazing mural was by Nicholas Chaffe (@nickchaffe) and I absolutely love it. There are so many little details in it and I keep noticing new things every time I look at it. Now I just want one of my own! 

OK, so the food and drink at Takk was amazing! I had the avocado, bacon and tomato sandwich on sourdough bread with a flat white (check out the genuine graffiti-covered school desks! ) which was absolutely delicious. Mark had roast potatoes, shallots and pan-fried chorizo with scrambled eggs and sourdough which I was super jealous of! 

The graffiti was amazing, I especially loved this beautiful vine and bird one on the side of this youth hostel- isn't it gorgeous?!

This was the first time I had visited the Northern Quarter and I loved it- the rickety fire escapes and quirky shops felt very Brooklyn to me, I may have to pay another visit to keep my New York cravings at bay!

The Museum of Science & Industry/MOSI was super fun and although we spent the entire afternoon there, there was still a lot that we didn't manage to cover so a full day (or two!) would be needed to do this justice I think! 

We saw a replica of the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) a.k.a. the Manchester 'Baby' computer which was very cool...

The exhibits on Manchester's textile industry were so interesting, just look how complex this machines look!

I mean wowee! 

This thistledown coat was super cool- a must have for every fashion blogger I think ;)

They also had an exhibition on 3D printing which was brilliant, I loved how brightly coloured these all were!

These are 3D-printed frames of an animation of a bear climbing some stairs, they don't look like much here but quite something 'in action'. 

My little brother was always a fan of Bob the Builder when he was little and these were the original models they used in the show (before they remade it!)

A very cool cine camera, I love the Italian stickers on the case!

The forst all-metal printing press was invented by the Earl of Stanhope, this one was made sometime between 1810 and 1830...

The museum also houses the world's oldest oldest passenger station, originally known as the Coach Offices. Built between June and September 1830, the Coach Offices consisted of separate booking halls for first-class and second-class passengers on the ground floor. I get the feeling that Gemma will appreciate these pictures, that gal loves a good train! ;)

The steam train still pulls a little carriage around the track which looked super fun but we didn't get chance to go on it which was a shame, maybe next time!

More cool murals...

I love the contrast of the old buildings and the uber modern Beetham Tower, that is one shiny building!

This is an awful picture but it was an amazing pie! We went to Pi in Chorlton for dinner after a long day walking around town and it was the perfect finish. I am now a fully fledged Pieminster pie fan (this was the Shamrock) I just need to get my hands on some more to try...

We went to the North Star deli in Chorlton for brunch before heading back on Sunday morning, the perfect finish to a wonderful weekend! 

Where should I try next in Manchester?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Leon chilli con carne recipe...

Chilli con carne is a meal that I absolutely love but have never made from scratch before. I don't know why I was so hesitant up till now but once I saw this recipe in the Little Leon: One Pot recipe book (a very lovely birthday present) I decided that I would give it a go! This was the perfect thing to make on a Sunday afternoon and luckily it makes enough that you can have it for dinner on Monday too. We served it with rice but it is also delicious in pitta breads...

* 1½ carrots
* 1 onion
* 2 cloves of garlic
* 1 stick of celery
* 1½ tablespoons of olive oil
* 500g of minced beef
* 1½ bay leaves
* 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
* ½ of oregano
* 3 tablespoons of tomato puree
* 600g of chopped tomatoes (1½ tins)
* 1 tablespoon of paprika
* 1½ teaspoons of cayenne pepper
* 50 ml of malt vinegar
* 1 x 400g tin of drained kidney beans
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and quarter the carrots and onions and put in a food processor. Add the peeled garlic and celery and blitz until it is finely chopped. 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the blitzed vegetables and fry over a gentle heat until the vegetables have softened.

Add the minced beef and cook for 10 minutes or until browned. Add the malt vinegar...

... mixed spices...

...and the rest of the ingredients. I'm not sure why the chopped tomatoes look so neon, they were a normal colour in real life!

Cook for 2 hours on the hob (realistically this was more like just over an hour), uncovered, stirring occasionally. Add water to prevent it drying out (if necessary)

Serve with rice and enjoy!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The perfect going out dress...

Going out is always a tricky thing, I love going out and dancing till my legs are sore but staying up late has always been a problem for me (I am tucked up in bed by half nine most nights!) Recently though I have been to a couple of shindigs (showing my age there!) and this dress is usually the first option on my list. I'm never 100% comfortable in anything too revealing but at the same time I am always far too warm so this sleeveless drapey dress from Whistles is the perfect compromise, It's fitted but not too bodycon and is long enough that I can wave my arms around with wild abandon when dancing without any fear of flashing! The colour is ace, described as airforce grey, it is actually a gunmetal blue (is that even a thing?!) and is a colour that seems to suit everyone. I love the fact that it is equally at home whether it is being worn to a pub, a house party or even a club- this dress truly is something special! 

Dress: Whistles, necklace: French Connection, shoes: Marks & Spencer
Luckily it doesn't need much accessorising (if any) and this simple geometric necklace is subtle enough to add interest without being overpowering. My hair had a lot of volume the evening I wore this so rather than trying to fight it, I went with the flow and ended up with some pretty eighties inspired make-up too.  I paired some bronze, gold and navy eyeshadow with my Soap and Glory Solar Power bronzer which I have a love hate relationship with. It looks fairly natural on my pale skin in real life but photographs really badly which is not cool... Paired with my Revlon lip butter in 'Peach Parfait', I was ready to roll. I love a string lipstick for the evening but it always seems to wear off pretty quickly and I am in no fit state to reapply it precisely so I tend to go for strong eyes instead- the more lived in they look, the better, I think!

I can't be dealing with walking for miles in high heels and as I was going from a house part, into town, I plumped for this M&S pair instead. Again, nothing ground-breaking but still fun to wear (and really comfy too!) You can get a better look at the nipped in waistline and pockets (!!) here too, they are only minor details but make a world of difference to the fit of the dress. I know I am gushing but Whistles really can do no wrong in my eyes recently, especially when they are making such beautiful dresses!

What's your failsafe outfit for a night out? 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Leopard print kilt...

So my new-found love for leopard print has spiralled into a full blown obsession thanks to this beautiful leopard print kilt from Sainsbury's (they really do have some lovely skirts in at the moment!) I spotted it online but my local store didn't have it and I had nearly given up until the lovely Emma managed to track it down and post it to me- thank you internet! I have worn the skirt a few times before with my black cowl neck jumper but I actually prefer it with this thin khaki/taupe knit, it looks much more interesting and plays into my luxe/fun wardrobe split. This is the kind of outfit I will wear all winter long, with a coat and gloves all of my extremities are covered but it has enough thin layers to cope with the heat blazing from all the shops. I know it's a controversial topic but surely an ambient temperature of 20-odd degrees is better than extreme heat and cold? 

Jumper: Kookai, top: Primark, skirt: Sainsbury's, tights: Tesco, boots: Nine West
This jumper doesn't get as much love as it should, it is lovely and warm but doesn't add unnecessary bulk under a coat. Perhaps its the colour that makes it one of the last things I reach for in my wardrobe, taupe doesn't exactly scream fun! ;) My hair is not a fan of the colder weather- the dampness in the air can make my hair quite frizzy but Percy & Reed's Wonder Balm is my favourite product at the moment, there's nothing it can't fix! Whilst I love darker, more Autumnal shades, it was the Essie Russian Roulette shade I went for from my new 'ravishingly rouge' set, you can't beat a classic red lips and nails combo! This lipstick is much brighter in real life but didn't photograph very well which is a shame, it is one of my best beauty bargains to date at a measly £2!

I really like the length of this skirt and although it looks very crinkly here, the asymmetrical zip is a really fun design feature. I really love these boots, I did think I was going to have to send them to the big shoebox in the sky (sob) but luckily my local cobbler is a genius and managed to resole them and make them look as good as new. There's something wonderful about boots that have been battered beyond belief, they are just so darned comfy!

Which are the pieces that (nearly) got away from you?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Everyday luxe...

Recently we lent our camera to Mark's parents for a wedding so spent a week or so without it. Whilst they had it, I wore an outfit that I really loved and that has definitely been one of my most recent favourites. Originally I was just going to rely on my phone but I remembered that my iPad mini has a camera and I was pretty pleased with the results even though they now look massively blurry on this size screen. Although in itself, stripes, jeans and a snazzy necklace is hardly groundbreaking (!) the fact that I have found one of each that I love, is. Paired with the beautiful camel coat that Mark bought me for my birthday (you can see a glimpse of it here), I felt very French (bien sûr!) and very luxe. It's amazing how some good quality basics can lift your wardrobe! I have been in a bit of a style rut recently, on the one hand I still want to wear fun things but my taste in who makes them has certainly moved more upmarket (I can't be the only one who stalks Whistles dresses on ebay, right?!) whilst my budget has stayed the same. I guess this is an inevitable part of growing up but navigating through these two halves of my wardrobe has caused some headaches of a morning recently! 

Top: H&M, necklace: Accesorize, jeans: Gap, shoes: Clarks
I have a real thing for stripes and H&M have the best striped tops on the high street. This style is a shape I really love and although I would never usually go for a light stripes, this one feels and looks very luxe - good job H&M! (They currently have their blue and white one on sale too if you are in the market for a new Breton top) I was lucky enough to get an Accessorize voucher for my birthday this year and I have been on the lookout for a neutral statement necklace (is that even a thing?!) ever since my beloved white floral one broke so was pretty pleased to see this beauty in my local store! It is the perfect length to wear with higher necklines and has received more than a few compliments every time I have worn it, mainly along the lines of 'ooh, so shiny!' ;) I have been straightening my hair a lot more recently and I love how different it makes me look. I prefer the lived in look I get after sleeping on it but would love to be able to do that with products too, any recommendations?

These are the perfect pair of jeans that I was talking about a few posts ago, and although I was initially a bit dubious about the straight rather than skinny leg, I have worn them more times than I can count. They do have a bit of 'give' in them but they feel like proper denim rather than that weird stretchy material that jeans seem to have been made out of recently (jeesh, I sound old!) so are much more forgiving... I can even cope with the mid-rise as it does cover my tummy which has always been my problem area so thumbs up all round here!

Any tips for getting that tousled hair look with minimal effort? Where do you buy your 'basic' pieces from?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Cooking with Baking Mad: chocolate truffle cookies recipe

There's few things in life as satisfying as a warm cookie fresh out of the oven and I was able to indulge that impulse this weekend when I baked these delicious chocolate truffle cookies. I took the remainder of these into the office on Monday and I have never seen people so enthusiastic! Plus people were asking for the recipe, which is always a good sign I think! 

WARNING: these taste absolutely delicious and it is impossible to eat just one, however iron your willpower!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Stormy seas and burgundy...

These photos were taken all the way back in September but as this is an outfit I wear fairly often, I decided to use these pictures despite the clear change in the weather. I may always be warm but even I can't get away with just short sleeves now! I really love burgundy but I only seem to wear it in Autumn, I guess it just feels too heavy at any other time of year? These photos weren't taken in our usual location but I like the more urban look that our car park gives them (ah how pretentious does that sound?!) This is a pretty standard outfit for me these days, my pretty blouses have been looking too twee when paired with skirts so jeans have been the perfect way to toughen them up. 

Top: Tesco, jeans: Gap, shoes: Marks & Spencer, satchel: Brit Stitch
Unfortunately all of my photos ended up with this weird half-open smile but you can see just how chuffed I was with this outfit! This lipstick is the lovely 'Vixen' by Tesco and is the perfect creamy burgundy shade. I have been super impressed with Tesco's lipsticks recently- I can't seem to find them online but definitely look out for them instore, they are surprisingly good value!

I have raved about my beautiful half pint Brit Stitch satchel before but isn't it just beautiful? I love the fact that it matches my top so well too, I was so chuffed when I saw the blue-y grey colour in the pattern!

These jeans are another Gap purchase- am I just particularly short (I wear a 30" leg and the regular length is still too long on me) or are all of Gap's jeans just really long? Turn-ups are a bit of a love/hate thing but anything that draws attention to these awesome shoes can only be a good thing (at least till I can find somewhere to get them tailored)



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