Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Jamie's Italian, Stratford.

I was recently invited to review Jamie's Italian Stratford, I'd previously been to the Shepherd's Bush restaurant a couple of years ago with Max, so I took him with me so we could compare the two. We haven't caught up in months as he's been globe-trotting with work, so it was nice to have a catch up over some good grub.

After getting a little lost thanks to the sat nav, we eventually found Westfield. Despite Westfield being a maze, Jamie's was really easy to find - it's a huge building in the outside area amongst some of the other restaurants. Now I'm afraid my camera wasn't charged up, so I had to use my phone for pics, so apologies in advance for the quality!

After being seated we started with Polenta Chips, Crispy Squid, and Baked Chestnut Mushrooms. The mushrooms were amazing, so tasty! The Polenta Chips are what Jamie's are famous for, everyone raves about them, and they're definitely worth getting. The Crispy Squid was ok, but the portion was tiny. I was very happy to see the mini-squid's though complete with tentacles rather than just plain ole' squid rings.

For mains I had the Honeycomb Cannelloni Trio, which was absolutely full of flavour, but so so filling. For a side I had Courgette Fritti (aka, fried courgettes), these were delicious, but the portion like the other side was tiny. Max went all out and had the steak, and the waitress very kindly bought him more polenta chips because he has a slight addiction to them.

Sadly we were too full for dessert, so after dinner we went for a wander around the olympic park to walk it all off. We found the coolest playground with climbing walls and slides (yes, we did go on them - watching Max slide down in a suit effing was hilarious), and outside gym equipment too! It'll be interesting to see how the park develops over the next few years, it still feels very stark and empty, but hopefully they'll find new uses for it and as more people move into the surrounding apartments it'll become used more.

We had a lovely evening at Jamie's, the food was proper Italian comfort food, and the perfect place to gorge ourselves while discussing our recent trips abroad and swapping travel tips!

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Monday, 28 July 2014

Lux Life's Birthday with a Marc Jacobs Giveaway.

Three years ago today I started this blog. It's amazing to think how much has changed in those three years; all of the amazing things I've done, how far I've come, how much I've grown up and become an adult, and what I've achieved. As a celebration and to thank you all for reading my ramblings, I thought I'd have a long overdue giveaway, and this time it's slightly different. I usually always have 'beauty' focused giveaways, but this time I'm having a bit of a 'travel' themed one, which includes goodies from Marc Jacobs and Selfridges. 

It's been so long since I held a giveaway that I decided to treat you. One lovely winner will win this funky and rather fun Marc by Marc Jacobs iPad mini case with the 'Rue the cat' design, worth £60, and the second lovely winner will win the London version of the gorgeous Phaidon Wallpaper City Guide, which is filled with beautiful photography and the best luxury restaurants, hotels, and places of interest in London. It's quite handy with my office being opposite Selfridges, it means I can just pop over there to buy goodies for you all ;) 

As always this giveaway is international, and the winner will be chosen at random. All you have to do to enter is follow me on Bloglovin', and comment on this post telling me the country that's at the very top of your bucket list!

You'll also need to leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win, and let me know how many extra entries you're entitled to. 

Extra Entries

3+ Tweet about my giveaway with the following: 
I've entered @luxlifeblog's giveaway to win a Marc Jacobs iPad case! Enter here; #lbloggers #fbloggers
2+ Follow me on Twitter
2+ Follow me on Google+

The giveaway is open for two weeks, and closes on Monday 11th August 2014. The winners will be emailed by Wednesday 13th August and also announced on Twitter. Good luck!

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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Veuve Clicquot Polo Gold Cup at Cowdray.

Last weekend some friends and I had planned to go to Cowdray Park for the Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup. The day before I roped Jasiminne into coming along too, as we've both been so busy we haven't seen each other since Cuba! That was two months ago! I think it's the longest we've gone without seeing one another, so I was just a little bit excited to see her again. I picked the girls up from Haslemere station, we packed the car full of M&S and Waitrose food, and we drove the short drive to Cowdray.

Thankfully it was a glorious sunny day, perfect for our gigantic picnic. We settled down on the picnic blankets, set out all of our fruit, meat, cheese, cookies, and champagne, and ploughed our way through it all. When we could eat no more we watched the polo for a bit (the match was King Power Vs Dubai), before getting ice-lollies to cool ourselves down. Then Jasiminne and I headed over to the Veuve Clicquot hospitality area, #VCPICNIC.

Photo from Jasiminne.
It was so hot we took it in turns using the fan, before realizing that paper plates make amazing free fans! Also it really scares me how long my hair is right now. I seriously need to get it cut. Just, ew.

Photo from Jasiminne.

We were sad to learn that we had just missed Tinie Tempah's DJ set...considering there were only about 30 people in the hospitality area, I may have cried. Anywho, we went and stomped divots with everyone else, and then settled down on a giant picnic blanket and our butler brought us champagne. Sadly as I was driving I could only have one glass, but Jasiminne had the rest of my share.

Photo from Jasiminne.

Photo from Jasiminne.

We then went to queue up for our complimentary Dior manicure, and after 20mins of standing there waiting were told they'd just finished them. NOOOO! So to cheer ourselves up we got some black truffle popcorn, had a swing on the swings, and then while they handed out the trophies (Dubai won), we walked out with the VC picnic blankets, champagne glasses, and cushions under our arms. Seriously. We didn't get our manicure, and everyone else was doing it too, which totally makes it ok. My friend Sophie even took the chairs and put them into the back of her 4x4! 

My dress is from New Look. I went through a phase of not buying anything from there for about a year, and now I've fallen in love with some of their pieces. My sunglasses are from Veuve Clicquot, they're kinda big for my face though, so they'll probably just sit on a shelf from now on.

We learnt from two lovely ladies from Veuve Clicquot that the Veuve Clicquot signature colour is actually yellow, because the colour orange wasn't actually used or heard of in France when VC was founded in 1772, rather people used to call the colour orange, 'saffron', or 'yellow-red'. 

Have you ever been to the Polo? If you'd like to know more about the actual game of Polo, you can find out in this blog post. It really is a great day out, and as you can see from the ticket at the top of this post, they're fairly reasonably priced at £20 for the grounds entry. Naturally you pay extra for the hospitality areas though, which are from £75+. Guards is also an excellent place to see Polo, however Hurlingham has become very chavvy the past coupla years and very overpriced, so try and avoid that one.

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Apres Cocktail Bar, London.

Being just round the corner from work, Apres has been on my radar for a while, and I often frequent it with friends. A trendy cocktail bar opposite Selfridges, every month they have a different mural on the outside wall. I love seeing them change it, and I think this months has to be my favourite so far! The cocktails at Apres are fabulous, absolutely delicious, and not badly priced for London.

The cocktail bar itself is intimate and stylish, and always busy and buzzing. They also have outside seating where you can smoke shisha, and a club 'lounge' area downstairs where a DJ plays and it has more of a dance vibe. Last week Claire and I headed down for a catch up and a few drinks. Apres had invited us down to try out their cocktails, sadly as always I was driving, and it was a work night, so I went easy and just had one cocktail and a 'virgin cocktail'. Claire went all out though and had her favourite; the Paloma, and another one who's name has escaped me.

I love Apres cosmopolitan's, they're my favourite cocktail and Apres certainly do a good one! The Virgin Mocktail I had was the Lavender Lemonade, an unusual twist on lemonade it was surprisingly tasty and incredibly refreshing. Despite being called 'Lavender Lemonade' it actually contains fresh watermelon, cherry cordial, and cranberry juice. I do love bars that have decent virgin cocktails, it makes me feel like 'one of the gang' when I'm driving and having to be good, instead of just sticking to plain ole co-cola.

Apres was also the place where I tried Tequila for the very first time! Take a look at the video below...

As well as a wide variety of unique and delicious cocktails, Apres also serve food that always looks really good and gives me major food envy while I'm sat there with my drinks. Sadly we didn't try this as after a few cocktails we decided we needed to go to MEATLiquor because Claire hadn't been before. Next time I go with the work crew though I'll definitely be trying out the food!

Have you been to Apres?

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Chocolate & Blueberry Pancakes.

I'm gonna start this post with an apology, I'm sorry. So, so sorry. But this post will make you hungry. Very hungry. So look away now if you're on a summer health kick. These chocolate and blueberry pancakes are to die for, they've been adapted from the Minimalist Baker's Oreo Pancake recipe, but I used blueberries instead of frosting as I wasn't really having a 'I fancy frosting' day.

Ok, so here we go. For the ingredients, you will need;

- 1/2 cup milk (MB uses non-dairy but I used dairy)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/4 cup of dark chocolate cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (very important btw)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- A standard pack of fresh blueberries


To cook the blueberries put them all in a saucepan on the hob and sprinkle a good amount of sugar over them. Leave them to cook and bubble away, stirring every so often, and when they're sitting in a good amount of their own juices, switch the hob off and just leave them to cool while you make your pancakes. The sugar takes the bitterness away and makes them lovely and sweet!


To make the pancakes, put a large pan on the hob and leave it to get nice and hot on a medium-low heat. Only lightly grease it, make sure there's no excess grease. 

Then mix the 1/2 cup of milk, tablespoon of oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract together in a bowl. Set the bowl aside, and then in a separate bowl whisk the 1/2 cup flour, 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, tablespoon of sugar (maybe add in twice the amount of sugar, I don't think this is enough), and pinch of salt together. 

Once combined, add the liquid ingredients that you mixed earlier to the dry ingredients, and mix together. It should be a reasonably thick 'cake batter' consistency, so not as thin as a crepe batter, but not too thick. If it's too thick add some more milk.

Then, drop small 'pancake-size' scoops of the batter onto the pan, and flip over when they start to brown. When ready flip them onto a plate, and stack up, pouring some of the blueberries and blueberry juice in-between each pancake until you have an epic chocolate and blueberry pancake stack!

 Once again, I am so so sorry. Enjoy!

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Saturday, 19 July 2014

Summer Smoothie Challenge.

I've long been a lover of smoothies and juices, especially homemade ones, so when Lactofree got in touch and asked me to create my own smoothie as part of their Say Yes to Summer campaign, I knew exactly which one I was going to make for you all. They kindly sent me a hand blender and huge parcel of fresh fruit, so as soon as it arrived I instantly got to work.

banana and berry summer smoothie recipe

I have two favourite smoothies;

Smoothie #1: Banana, blueberries, raspberries, milk, OJ, ice.
Smoothie #2: Watermelon, banana, pineapple, strawberries, spinach (yes...spinach).

As I didn't have any watermelon or spinach, and couldn't be bothered going to the shops, I decided to make Smoothie #1, but with a coupla changes. Instead of OJ I added coconut water, and then instead of ice I put some frozen gooseberries (homemade!) in. I also included the Lactofree milk instead of normal milk. The result was pretty tasty, and the perfect refreshing summer smoothie. I sipped on it whilst sitting in the garden  reading Cloudstreet with Dylan, dreaming of far-away destinations and planning where to go on holiday next.

banana and berry smoothie recipe
banana and berry smoothie recipe

banana and berry smoothie recipe

What's your favourite smoothie?

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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Make My Magnum x Selfridges.

Working so close to Selfridges has it's ups and downs; the down is that Oxford Street was named the most toxic street in the World last week (not good for asthmatics like myself), however the ups outweigh the down massively...and one new 'up' to grace the most toxic street in the world, is the Make My Magnum concept store within Selfridges 'Wonder Room'. 

Last Tuesday I skipped out of work to meet Bess and Rosie to go and make our own ice-creams, it's been quite a while since I last saw them so it was lovely to catch up. It was also the best fiver I've spent in a loooooong time! Just look at my ice-cream! 

Make My Magnum Selfridges

The Wonder Room is near the jewellery section at the Marble Arch end of the store, and you'll probably have to queue for a bit to get to the front, but it's well worth the wait. The concept store is open until 30th August, so get in quick! 

Make My Magnum Selfridges

Make My Magnum Selfridges
To create your own Magnum ice-cream, you pick your ice-cream (I chose chocolate caramel) and then you choose your toppings, then your 'outer' chocolate coating, and then finally the flavour of sauce drizzled over the top. There are a total of 20,000 combinations to choose from, and as you can only have three toppings it makes for quite a difficult decision! They have a wide selection from chilli flakes to almonds to edible rose petals. I chose some sparkly silver flaky stuff that tasted very sugary and sweet, honeycomb, and vanilla sprinkles.

Make My Magnum Selfridges

I then chose white chocolate as my 'outer' and had milk chocolate drizzled over, before the staff then tipped my chosen toppings onto my ice-cream. The outer chocolate instantly hardened to create that crisp Magnum coating.

Make My Magnum Selfridges
 And here's the result you saw earlier...

Make My Magnum ice-cream Selfridges

 It was probably the best Magnum I've ever had, if I do say so myself. 

Make My Magnum Ice-Cream Selfridges

Selfridges have some really awesome events on at the moment; you can meet some of the makers of the artisan products sold in-store, and they also have their rooftop pop-up 'On the Roof with Q' which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. I'm definitely going to be making the most of working so close over the summer months while the events are taking place!

What's your favourite Magnum flavour?

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