Tuesday, 26 August 2014

AW14 Preparations with Barbour.

With this cold weather raining on our summer parade like a jealous frenemy, and September looming before us, I'm actually quite excited for winter this year. Usually I despise it, I dread the cooler days and having to get my jeans back out, I'm definitely a summer lover. I'm not sure why I'm looking forward to it this year, I think it has something to do with the fact I've pretty much had a continuous summer this year what with my holidays to Australia and Cuba earlier on in the year.

As the temperature has dipped below 20 Degrees Celsius I've actually found myself donning jumper and jeans already, it seems I've acclimatized myself to the warmer temperatures we've been having, and now as soon as there's a slight chill in the air I really feel it. I'm a huge fan of Barbour (you can see my previous post on when I went to the Flagship Store Opening), and I refuse to wear anything but my Barbour wax jacket when out on country walks during the autumn and winter, so when Barbour sent me a gorgeous new winter jumper, I was ecstatic. 

Over the bank holiday weekend my parents were away at an Indian wedding (I'm so jealous, Sid and Sadat, please can one of you get married ASAP!), so I was on 'Dylan Duty'. On Saturday we had a lazy day watching movies together, before I had my annual winter hair cut (yes, annual, how else do you think I grow my luscious long locks ready for every spring/summer?!) and then as soon as I got home I took Dyls for a walk up on the downs as the sun was setting. The weather was so gorgeous, and we sat on the north downs in the middle of the field watching the sun set before playing 'where's Dylan' - his favourite game.

The game consists of me turning my back on him and going 'where's Dylan?!' while looking all over for him, he hides in the long grass, and then he barks at me to let me know where he is. I then run over to him while he cutely buries his head in the grass trying to hide, and then we have a game of chase, before it starts all over again.

This time of year is really the only time we can play it, as the grass is the optimum 'Where's Dylan' length - and because of his colouring he blends right in with it! It is quite fun playing it in the snow though - oh gosh, please let there be decent snow this year, there was none last year and it made me quite annoyed.

The Barbour Evenwood Sweater is really warm and thick, a beautiful red colour that'll brighten up any winter outfit. I have a tendency to wear a lot of black in winter, so I'm trying to be more adventurous and wear more colour. The sweater comes up quite large, which I love because I hate tight jumpers, baggy ones all the way please! I love nothing more than rugging up in an oversized jumper to keep me warm.

*sigh* just look at that view behind me. I do love living here. It's so wonderful and peaceful after long weeks working in central London. It's such a lovely escape to just come home to every evening. And it's beautiful every season, in summer it's all pretty and feels quite nostalgic somehow, and in the winter it looks gorgeous and very romantic all covered in dew or snow.

Are you looking forward to winter?

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Double Oreo Chocolate Cake.

I came across a recipe on Pinterest for Oreo Chocolate Cake from Lulu the Baker a while back, and have been desperate to make it ever since. I finally got round to making it a few weeks ago, and although it looks absolutely vile and nothing like the beautiful original (it was definitely one of those 'saw it on Pinterest, nailed it' moments), it really did taste absolutely incredible, so I thought I'd share the recipe. Maybe you guys can make it look nicer than I can?

The double-layered chocolate cake is rich, moist (I hate that word so much), and fudgy, and the Oreo buttercream is just to die for. The ingredients is in the American 'cups', but if you want me to convert it into the UK measures for you, just let me know in the comments (or just buy some cooking cups ;))

For the ingredients you will need;

Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups plain flour
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot, strong coffee

Oreo Buttercream Icing

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
2 lbs icing sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 14.3-oz package Oreos (36 Oreo cookies)

Chocolate Cake

First make the cake.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 8″ cake pans and grease with butter.
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a large wooden spoon until combined.
- In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients and beat until it's smooth.
- Add the coffee (just like Lulu The Baker, I can't stand coffee, however if you put it in Chocolate Cake you can't taste it at all and it just really brings the chocolate flavour out!) and mix just until it's all combined.
- Divide the batter, which will be incredibly runny, evenly between the two pans.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick stuck in the center of each cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Oreo Buttercream

Now this is where mine went slightly wrong...I found it really difficult to crush up the Oreos, so it sort of came out a huge mess. Also I don't think the measurements are enough to cover the whole cake, so if I were you I'd double the measurements - better to have too much than too little (more for finger/spoon lickin'!). 

- First set aside 8 Oreos for decoration. 
- Combine butter, vanilla, and salt with a mixer. 
- Add icing sugar and milk and beat until light and fluffy. 
- Set aside 1 cup of the icing for decorating. 
- Add crushed Oreos to remaining icing and beat.
- Add more milk a tablespoon at a time until spreadable. Frost cake immediately.

To decorate the cake, begin by placing one cake layer flat-side-down on a cake plate. Spread enough frosting on the top to cover it. Place the other cake layer on top of the first, flat-side-up. Use remaining Oreo buttercream to frost top and sides of the cake, then place some Oreos on top! 

If yours looks as disgusting as mine, then DON'T PANIC! I panicked and thought I'd just wasted all that time, but then I tasted it and OH MY DAYS. It was so moist. And so rich. And just so, damn, good. Everyone loved it, so it wasn't just me being biased.

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Monday, 18 August 2014

Summer Pool Party.

I've been insanely busy the past coupla weeks making the most of the last few weeks of summer, so please excuse the lack of blogging. However imma make it up to you now with an insane party that went down this weekend. You may remember how I blogged about New Years Eve when I managed to persuade Peter to hold an epic pool party, but I missed most of it due to too much alcohol (yep, I'm not proud), so this weekend was the summer party, and I remember all of it. Win.

Imagine this; indoor heated pool, awesome people, rockin' DJ, good tunes, good BBQ, and a lot of alcohol. Yep, it was a lot of fun. 

I got there early to help the boys set up and drive them to the supermarket. We went 'round throwing burgers, sausages, baps, and alcohol into the trolley, and then went back to the house and stocked up the fridges in the pool house; one fridge full of beer and cider, one fridge full of food, and the side covered in liqueur. It was nowhere near enough for the 70+ people who turned up, but luckily everyone else bought drinks with them as well.

We cracked open the classy rosé while everyone else started to arrive, and then James fired up the BBQ to give me food pre-drinking, as in his own words "Lux, this time you're eating, I DO NOT want a repeat of last time. I'm not looking after you again, because it's shit" :/ woops. So while James cooked up the huge BBQ, Peter got in the way of our girlie photo...

I'm afraid you'll have to put up with phone photos, as there was no way my camera was going anywhere near the pool. Luckily my phone is waterproof, so it was the perfect companion for jumping in the pool with...along with Dan who held my hand while I shrieked.

I was already soaking wet from James and Oscar sitting on me as soon as they got out of the pool, so I thought, why not? May as well jump in fully-clothed as well! 

After splashing about in the pool for a bit, more people arrived and the party really got started, so it was time to start on the vodka and coke and make the most of the awesome DJ!

My dress is an old H&M one, flip flops are Havaianas, and my hat is from California Crown. Red cup from SOLO. American style. 

The awesome thing about Peter's parties are the people. There's such a huge mix of people and you always meet new friends. He has a lot of hip-hop dancer friends, so some dance battles went down and then the Electric Slide happened...

After some more dancing and then a serious limbo competition, everyone was back in the pool as the night started to wind down. The last stragglers left around 4am, when the party started at 4pm...that's a 12 hour party, people! It was epic. I'll leave you with the rest of the photos...

James definitely ruined this photo.

The ultimate-party-host-limbo-king-dancing-queen himself!

Thanks for an awesome day/night Peter and James!

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Yelp 10th Birthday Bash.

Last Thursday I took Beth and Phoebe along with me to the Yelp 10th Birthday Bash. The lovely guys from Yelp London got in touch and invited us down, and we had an awesome time! Sadly we arrived quite late, so we missed out on the food :'( but we made up for it by shoving Bea's of Bloomsbury cupcakes (best cupcakes, ever) in our mouths and drinking the plentiful supply of rum and gin. 

The theme for the evening was 'White', with the 'Red' party being on the Friday. Sadly I couldn't attend the 'Red' party as I already had tickets to the Battle of the Bands at the Royal Albert Hall. Anyway, as the girls and I were going clubbing at Boujis after the Yelp bash, I wore a black skirt, my Topshop green silk top, and my white Zara blazer. I felt so short compared to Beth and Phoebe...

As well as food and drink, there was also a casino table from the St Giles Casino, and entertainment which included a fantastic saxophonist. 

We loved the Mexican stand, which was giving out tequila shots, nachos, and they had awesome hats!

We tested out the Pina Colada's being made in the VIP room, and then went in search of food. Sadly Big Apple Hot Dogs had run out of hot dogs, so we decided to try out the pancakes, only to find a huuuumungous queue, so we ended up giving up and having some Hotel Chocolat chocolate truffles for our dinner.

 Beth then decided she wanted a go with the Vodka Luge...

When things started wrapping up we wandered back to my car and headed over to Carluccio's in South Ken for some food before Boujis. We had plates of calamari and toast slathered in pate, before walking over to Boujis to meet the ROSL gang for a boogie ;) I'm not sure why I look drunk in this pic, as I was 99% sober being designated driver and all.

All in all a fun night! Thanks for having us Yelp, and happy birthday!

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