What's in my Handbag...

Thursday, 28 August 2014 ·

As one of those people who tends to carry around everything but the kitchen sink in their handbag I have to clean out said bag on more or less a daily basis to clear it out of receipts, old copies of Timeout and the countless bits of makeup that seem to collect down in the depths. 'What's in my handbag' posts are some of my favourites as I am inherently just a little bit nosy and love to get a peak into what other people carry around... So having just had one of my clear outs of my bag I thought I'd give you a peak into my bag....

First up my essentials: 
  • Purse with all the key points cards - most importantly Nectar, Boots and Costa
  • Oyster card & season ticket
  • iPad - I read at every given moment, especially on the way to and from work on the train so this is vital for me
  • Scarf - you just never know when it's going to get chilly in London
  • Sunglasses - you equally never know when the sun might come out
  • Phone (clearly I wasn't thinking when I edited the photo but I promise it's there, as well as my keys!)

Onto the make-up bag, I always used to carry around a bunch of make-up with me but I never used to apply it so I've cut it down to those few key items now: 
  • Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream - I use this for everything, lip balm, cuticle oil, eyebrow gel etc. 
  • Nail file - my nails are super weak and always break so I have to be able to smooth them out and get rid of any sharp edges. 
  • Nail varnish - as my nails are so weak I find most nail varnishes chip which is something I hate so I always have some nail varnish around to fill in any chips. 
  • Hair bands - this one goes without saying! 
  • Hand cream - the cold weather in London is a nightmare on my hands. 
  • Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Cherish - this is super easy to apply so perfect for on the go. 
  • Last but not least my new Topshop lipstick in Innocent. I'm one of those people where as soon as I have something new I have to use it weather it be clothes, books or make-up and this is my new obsession. 
Last but not least is my little emergency kit that I picked up from J Crew when I was in New York about 18 months ago. I got out of the habit of carrying this around with me but recently I've remembered how invaluable it is. With this in your bag you are equipped for every eventuality. The kit includes: 
  • Nail file
  • Hair spray
  • Breath drops
  • Sewing kit
  • Dental floss
  • Clear nail varnish 
  • Stain remover wipes
  • Deodorant wipes
  • Double sided tape
  • Clear elastic ties 
  • Earring backs
  • Lip balm - I seem to be collecting these as I've added 2 of my own as well 
  • Tampax
  • Plasters - I've since replaced these with my own 
  • Paracetamol - again I've replaced these since using them
I also added my own hair band, bobby pin and lip gloss to my little kit. I love that it all fits into the cute little mint green bag - it's perfect for just throwing into my handbag when I'm running out of the door and even fits into my smaller bags.

For the past few months I've also been carrying my Sony HX300 which I bought at the end of last year but obviously I was using it to take the pictures hence it not being featured. I used to have a 'proper' digital SLR but always found it a bit heavy and clunky to carry around on a daily basis so this new one is ideal.  

What do you guys carry around everyday as your essentials? 

Window Shopping in Lush...

Saturday, 23 August 2014 ·

With my birthday coming up in just over a month I'm starting to do some window shopping to put together my 'birthday list' of bits and pieces I might like. Of course, with my obsession for Lush this was my first port of call especially seeing as I haven't bought anything from Lush since just after Christmas (although I did buy a ridiculous amount in the sale which I'm still working my way through)!

Anyway, let's jump into my current shopping basket on the Lush website, fingers crossed I can resist the temptation to pick anything up before my birthday - but now I have about 5 baths a week, I'm getting used to the prune fingers now, my stash is running low!

First up bath products, arguably what Lush do best in my opinion:
  1. Melomint
  2. Sakura
  3. Dreamtime
Body / skincare, something I've never really tried from Lush so I'm intrigued: 
Now finally, lips:
Despite how much I love Lush, I only tend to buy things in the Christmas sale which lasts me for the year, so I'm starting to get the itch to venture out and try a few more of their products. 

I'd love it if you guys told me what your favourite Lush product(s) is/are so I can extend my shopping list!  

There's a First for Everything...

Thursday, 21 August 2014 ·

So I've just finished one of my daily workouts, yes that's right I now work out 5 days a week minimum - crazy times, and it seemed like an ideal time for me to throw together a post about my new beloved trainers! Who ever would have thought I'd do an entire post about trainers, times are changing!

Since we moved in to the new flat and got an exercise bike I've been doing 75km a week spread out over 5 days so it seemed about time for me to invest in some new trainers considering I'd had my old ones since I was about 16! 

In all honesty I didn't do much research before I bought these, they were a little bit spur of the moment because despite how much I'm enjoying working out, £80 seems an awful lot to spend on a pair of trainers! So, I quickly decided on the Nike Free Tr 4 but then came the hardest decision...which colour? The charcoal and neon coral stood out to me as they aren't too in your face but equally I love the pop of colour on the laces and soles. 
These are ideal for me as they're super light weight and flexible. They are also so much more comfortable than my old trainers which I think comes down to their lightweight design. They provide just the right amount of support for cycling and since I absolutely hate running I doubt I'll need more support any time soon. 

In all honesty I'm not an expert with trainers and what makes certain brands/styles better than others but I'm obsessed with these so I felt I should share them with you guys.  

I'm currently on the hunt for some YouTube videos I can start watching to help me do more of a core workout so I can mix it up a bit from just cycling. Do you any of you have any recommendations? 

Collective Haul #1

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 ·

Over the past couple of weeks I've picked up a few bits and pieces here and there which I thought I'd share with you guys. Some of it may not be all that interesting but if you're anything like me (aka down right nosey) then hopefully you'll still enjoy a little peak into what I've been picking up here and there. There's a little bit of everything so lets dive in... 

Up first, razors (I told you it might be boring). They're one of those things I hate spending money on, don't ask me why, but needs must I suppose and I do love these Wilkinson Sword Xtreme 3 ones! Next up is Batiste dry shampoo, recently this has become a vital part of my daily routine as I've been working out 5 days a week and I don't like to wash my hair everyday.  
Whilst strolling the aisles in Boots I came across the new Rimmel Brow This Way. I wanted the tinted version for blondes but it was out of stock so instead I went with the clear version. I fill in my brows everyday with Mac Omega eyeshadow and I've been looking for a reasonably priced brow gel so we'll see how this goes! I couldn't resist picking up this Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Stick in Bad Bronze which I'm hoping will be ideal for doing a subtle smokey eye in the day. 

Now technically I didn't buy these but I had to have them resized so I couldn't resist including them. Matthew bought me this set of 8 sterling silver stacking rings from Silver by Ginger for our anniversary a couple of months ago and I am absolutely in love with them. I wear them pretty much everyday as they're so dainty and easy to wear and go with everything. Do you love stacking rings as much as me? 
My favourite thing I actually bought for myself recently has definitely been my new Nike Free Train  4.0's. As I said I've started working out 5 days a week so it seemed an ideal time to invest in some decent trainers. More on these in a post soon!

Last but not least the most random thing I've bought...a floral pig money bank! I used to have a Terramundi Money Pot but I recently had to break it as it was full so I picked up this cute little guy until I get a new Terramundi. 
I hope you guys enjoyed having a little sneak into what I've been spending my hard earned money on lately. I always love haul's as it tends to curb my urge to go shopping, except those occassions I see something that I just have to pick up...

EAT | Chiltern Firehouse

Saturday, 16 August 2014 ·

For all you foodies out there this post is for you! Chiltern Firehouse is the restaurant that everyone in London has been talking about for the past few months and is the new 'celeb hangout'. If you're anything like me this in itself may put you off as all I am interested in is some delicious food not who might be sitting at the next table. But fear not, when it comes to the food Chiltern Firehouse certainly does not disappoint! 

This is a fairly unassuming place which you could easily overlook as it's tucked away behind high, black wooden gates. If you take a little peak through these gates you'll find a beautiful oasis tucked away just a stone's throw from Baker Street. There's a beautiful courtyard and bar area which is technically reserved for the hotel guests but we managed to persuade them to have a quick drink out there before having lunch with my brother. 
Essentially you can't really tell that this fantastic building ever used to be a fire station but probably the one clue you couldn't miss are these huge double height, glass paned doors which lead into the hotel bar area. All the mismatched chairs and slightly tired looking tables combined with fig trees and hanging plants overhead give a truly unique feeling and I couldn't get enough of it! I have a feeling I was a little antisocial at this point as I was snapping away on my camera. Also how amazing are those gold pineapple lamps? I never thought I'd be one for a pineapple light but who knows maybe I've been converted... 
The old school feel of the bar area is a little bit magical so I highly recommend trying to get in there if you can as I've never been anywhere quite like it and it's a great spot for a quick pre-dinner cocktail. So girls bat your lashes at the one of the many (very attractive) members of staff and see if you can blag your way in!  
As someone who is usually not a fan of open kitchens in restaurants, they tend to be noisy and sometimes a little smelly, this one really did blow me away. This might sound strange but it really is beautiful and I was jealous of the lucky diners who got to sit along the side of the kitchen while they ate. If you go as a couple it's definitely worth requesting a table on the 'bar' by the kitchen - I know that's where you'll find me next time I go! 

Now let's get onto the part you've all been waiting for...the food! 
To curb everyones hunger while we poured over the menu we ordered some of the 'Devilled Cucumber with Spiced Salmon Tartar' and the 'Crab Stuffed Donuts with Coral Dusting' which it seems everyone has been talking about recently. Now I don't like 'fishy' fish (I am aware that sounds ridiculous) and so I didn't try either of these but I have been assured that they were both delicious, particularly the crab donuts which were devoured pretty much instantly! 
Having all mulled over the menu for a good long time we all finally made some decisions. I went for the 'Roasted New Season Carrots with Chervil and Brown Butter' - may not sound that exciting but it was delicious. The carrots were beautifully sweet and the chervil and brown butter were great accompaniments.  
The boys went for 'Steak Tartare' which is something that's never really appealed to me personally...something about the idea of raw meat and raw egg.... But I have to say the simple presentation of it was quite striking so I couldn't resist stopping Matthew from tucking in and snapping a few pictures. 
The steak tartare was served with 'Firehouse Hot' sauce which was certainly hot! 
Mum went for 'Sea Trout Crudo with Yellow Mole and Coriander' which looked fantastic but I forgot to take a photo... 
Onto the mains... first of all I apologise as I only got a photo of Matthews as I got distracted by how good my steak was! I redeem myself (hopefully) though as his was by far the best dish of the day! He had some kind of slow cooked Iberico Ham which was incredible. The meat literally melted in your mouth and we were all thoroughly jealous! Although another recommendation would defintiely be the Lobster Noodles which both my parents had and it was lovely, even me, the non-fish eater, loved it! 
It was so lovely to see my brother again, with him living in New York I only tend to see him 2/3 times a year. This time I hadn't seen him since Christmas so it was long overdue! Matthew and I are planning on going out to New York in the spring to see him so I'm already very excited about that! 
I can't recommend Chiltern Firehouse highly enough, this is the second time I've been and it gets better every time. Due to it's current popularity it can be a little difficult to get a table but it's definitely worth the effort! 

BAKING | Triple Oreo Cupcakes

Wednesday, 6 August 2014 ·

My baking obsession is getting a little out of hand lately...my excuse is that with moving house I've been trying to use up all the food in my cupboards and so clearly I had to yet more baking! I recently discovered Cupcake Jemma's YouTube channel (how have I only just discovered it?!) and was during one of my marathon sessions catching up on all her videos I was instantly drawn to her Cookies & Cream Oreo Cupcakes and couldn't resist making them for myself.


For the cupcakes: 
- 110g self raising flour
- 15g cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
- Pinch of salt
- 125g caster sugar
- 135g unsalted butter (softened) 
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tbsp. whole milk
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 packets Oreos

For the buttercream: 
- 200g unsalted butter (softened) 
- 450g icing sugar
- 3 tbsp. whole milk
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 packet Oreos (crushed) 


1. First of all preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius or 335 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your cupcake baking tray by lining it with cupcake cases. 
2. Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl. 
3. Add in the unsalted butter and eggs and whisk together until well combined. 
4. Add the whole milk and vanilla extract whilst whisking. 
5. Add 1 whole Oreo cookie to the bottom of each cupcake case. 
6. Place a spoonful of your mixture into each case so that it is approximately 2/3 full. 
7. Now place the baking tray in the centre of the oven for approximately 22 minutes or until a skewer, when placed in the middle of the cake, comes out clean. 

Now to keep you occupied whilst the cupcakes are baking away it's time to make the buttercream icing. 
1. Whisk the unsalted butter until pale and fluffy - this may take up to 5 minutes so be patient. 
2. Add half of the icing sugar and whisk for 2 minutes (starting slowly), once combined add the other half. 
3. Slowly add the whole milk and vanilla extract whilst whisking. 
4. To make the buttercream a little more exciting, blitz the Oreo cookies in a food processor until you have a fine granules - you could always do this by popping the cookies in a plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin if you don't have a food processor. 
5. Fold the crushed cookies into the buttercream. 
6. By now the cakes should be done so place the icing into a piping bag and get piping! I recommend waiting until the cakes have cooled to ice them so that your icing doesn't melt. 
7. As a final finishing touch and to make them just a little over the top add another Oreo cookie onto the top of each cake! 

And now...finally...dive in and enjoy! 
This was so much fun to bake although I didn't get to enjoy too many of them as a certain someone was found munching on them at every opportunity and before I knew it there was only one left! These are a definite crowd pleaser and they look fantastic considering how easy they are to make. 

The Green Juice

Sunday, 3 August 2014 ·

For the past few months I've been trying really hard to be a little healthier and a big part of this was making smoothies for breakfast each day to up my daily intake of fruits but until now I'd never tried making a green smoothie/juice! I was in Pret recently and I picked up one of their 'Green Goodness' juices and couldn't wait to try and recreate it at home.

Since Matthew and I moved in together, on the top of our shopping list has been a new blender and so I did my research and decided to go with the Magimix Le Blender. Being as impatient as I am, we decided to pop in to John Lewis yesterday and pick it up in person to avoid sitting by the front door waiting for the postman for the next few days!

First of all I just want to say how happy I am with this blender. We had a Kenwood blender in my old flat which was good but now I have this one I realise just how fantastic a blender can be! Although I originally thought this was going to make more of a green smoothie than a juice I was pleasantly surprised by the result. If any of you are int he market for a new blender I can't recommend this highly enough!

Anyway onto the recipe....


- 2 (large) handfuls of spinach (washed)
- 2 green apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
- Juice of 1.5 limes
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- Approx 3 inches cucumber (peeled and diced)
- 400ml filtered water


1. It's important to always put all of the liquid ingredients into the blender first so start by adding 400ml filtered water and the lime juice. 

2. Throw in all of the other ingredients on top making sure not to go over the maximum fill line. 
3. I use the smoothie setting on the Magimix Le Blender as it automatically varies the speed throughout the process but if your blender doesn't have this option simply start it off on a slow speed until it all starts to combine then whack it up to a high speed. 
4. I would recommend blending this for at least 60 seconds to ensure it has a smooth consistency (I can't stand a chunky smoothie / juice!).
5. When it's done give it a quick taste to check it's how you like it and add anything extra if necessary. Then pour into your favourite glass with a couple of ice cubes and enjoy! 
This juice is super easy to make and so refreshing so my intention is to try and start each day with one of these on the train on the way to work. I do however plan to experiment a little bit by using kale instead of spinach and maybe adding some pineapple to add a little sweetness. 

Considering how much I'm loving this blender already (24 hours and I'm obsessed) I will definitely be doing some experimenting with different recipes over the coming weeks so if you want to see anymore recipes or you have any recommendations I'd love to hear them! 

Also if you make this juice I would love to see your pictures so tag me on Instagram or Twitter (@theopaldiary) so I can see your versions!