Life: April Round-Up

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A slightly shorter round-up this month because as of two weeks ago I'll have been holidaying in Vietnam and Singapore and those photos won't have made the cut! I feel like I've spent most the first two weeks of April half trying to wear winter clothes for the last time and half trying to convince myself that the weather is nice enough to wear spring clothes when it hasn't been. This culminated in me wearing a beach dress, opaque black tights and a coat for a (thankfully) solo coffee date.

In pictures:


1. Breakfast at the Royal Exchange - the bircher museli is such a good start to the day and slightly less sinful than their amazing granola.

2. Kon-Mari-ing my apartment (well, trying to because minimalism will never really be my thing) and I find a dress I bought over two years ago with the tags still on.

3. Recent empties - sad times when most of these were bought in the US or Korea...

4. Lunch at Rossopomadoro in John Lewis - accidentally vegan cheese-free pizza. I'm not vegan but I hate cheese and dairy products so most days I do end up eating vegan but y'know just booked afternoon tea at the Hello Kitty café so not quite ready to go all the way yet.

5. A tofu bento box for lunch at Taro - I didn't take weekday lunch breaks for two years and I've now realised what a grim error that was.

6. Whistles sale bargains (ok, it was still £70) but I couldn't resist this top. Even if it is hand wash only and who has time for that.

7. Zizzi now have a (small but adequate) vegan menu - there's even a gluten free pizza. This was topped with cheese made with almond milk so I had to try it for research purposes despite already having had pizza that week.

8. Lunch at the Royal Exchange - hummus, avocado and egg on ciabatta, really must stop going here when I'm attempting to be on a budget but this was good and only the second time I've eaten something resembling avo toast. Less of an Instagram cliche than you might think,

9. An "off-brand" Instagram but maybe I'll be on Google Street View soon, wearing a red coat with gold buttons and eagerly snapping a picture of the camera car.

From the internet... I loved this post by Laura on the subject of Instagram and found myself nodding along. I look back at some of my early IGs and think "why the hell did I post such a bad photo" but those 2012 days were different times, my friends (let's not even get started on what Snapchat used to be like)... I am one of those weird people who doesn't like dogs but Michelle's puppy Milo is insanely cute! Sometimes I feel like it's wellness wellness wellness everywhere but wtf should I even have for lunch? Lucy has taken it back to basics with ten simple healthy habits. I've booked flights to NYC for July and love Hannah's old school trip planning idea.

How was your April?

lilylipstick

Fashion: Fun eBay Finds

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Half of me is intent on clearing out my fast fashion-filled wardrobe, creating the perfect capsule clothes rail and only buying quality investment pieces. The other half has just bought a Game of Thrones print skirt on eBay. As a teen I loved dressing in Camden Market's finest offerings - fishnet tights, tartan mini skirts, skull and rose prints, far too much black eyeliner... maybe this is why I struggle to conform to a paired down wardrobe or to buy anything labelled "workwear" and refuse to ever wear a grey skirt-suit. Maybe it's also the realisation that grown-up life is full of things that are serious and less-than-fun and that even if today's task is reading the electricity meter (um, how?) and tonight's conversation will enviably be house prices, mortgages and who has the most weddings to attend this summer, having a few fun pieces to wear while pretending to be a grown-up (or denying that I actually now somehow am) makes life seem a little less serious. 



Emojis are inescapable - when friends started using them on iOS at first I felt a little bit this-isn't-MSN-messenger but now I've been sucked in - they're such an antidote to writing "apologies for the delay" and "kind regards" multiple times per day and it's a super lazy but very satisfying way to communicate with anyone aged 9 - 90... Emoji print dress.

Half of my Instagram feed is avocado on toast (although I have actually only eaten it once myself because I don't really like toast) and avocado seems to have become part of almost every meal to the point where I think someone is deliberately withholding where I can buy avocados that are not either rock hard or already gross brown mush... Powered By Avocado body.

So, I'm totally obsessed with reading Game of Thrones and everyone else is obsessed with watching it. 2015 was the year of the Cumberbitch t-shirt but 2016 will be the year of the (slightly less obvious) Westoros map-print skirt... Game Of Thrones skater skirt.

#catsofinstagram is my favourite hashtag - whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed with life a few minutes of scrolling through cat pictures makes me feel calmer. I'm sure there's some scientific theory that stroking cats is good for you so pictures must have a little of the effect. For the future cat lady... Cat Print skater dress

I recently switched from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy and so obviously need to buy a "wardrobe" of phone cases to stop my Alpha meeting the same fate as my iPhone. I have a wallet-style case for throwing in my bag and for when out running but for mirror selfies...Silicone Marshmallow-Print case.

Lastly, it'll be summer soon and even if your main ports of call are the office, the gym and er, indoors it makes total sense to spend a large amount of thought and a significant amount of money on beach and festival clothes for the 3 days when you'll actually need them... Tie Die beach dress.

What necessary but totally unnecessary frivolous purchases have you made lately?
lilylipstick

Recipe: #SpringSalads Tofu Scramble

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Spring is here and (climate change and snow-in-April permitting) so is all the lovely seasonal spring produce. Lighter evenings and (hopefully) warmer temperatures call for fresh flavours and this month Florette challenged me to come up with a spring salad creation. I also got sent some lovely goodies to inspire me - flaxseed is high in fibre and Omega 3 and is easy to add to a whole range of dishes for additional goodness and this spray on balsamic dressing might just be the best invention ever.


Weekend brunch is the perfect time for testing out a new recipe idea - I'd never made a tofu scramble before and have to admit I was sceptical but it was so easy to make and so tasty. Perfect for if you don't eat or don't like eggs - the texture is the same as scrambled eggs but there's no "eggy" taste and tofu is super high in protein so this is a great vegan brunch for days when you want something a little more grown up than Oreo cereal. I served my scramble with a fresh spring-inspired side salad - asparagus isn't in season for long so make the most of it while it is.

Ingredients:

- One pack of plain tofu
- One bag of Florette baby kale
- Asparagus
- Cherry tomatoes
- Capers (optional if you don't like them)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Seasoning for the tofu - I used tumeric, smoked paprika and a little bit of hot sauce
- Flaxseed (optional)

Method:

1. Press the tofu (the first time I cooked with tofu I didn't press it and it was grim) - I put the tofu on a plate, put another plate on top of the tofu and then put a hardcover book on top to weigh it down. This makes me feel like such a hippie until I go off and check Instagram for 15 minutes. Once pressed, pat the tofu dry with kitchen paper and "scramble" it with a fork.

2. Heat a frying pan and wilt the baby kale, throw in the tomatoes and asparagus for a few minutes and set to one side once warmed through.

3. Add the tofu to the pan and sprinkle with your seasoning of choice - I used tumeric and paprika for their colour (otherwise the tofu scramble will be white and not look very appetising) and a glug of hot sauce for a spicy brunch-time kick. Tofu doesn't really have a taste so while this gives it a bad rep as being bland it means that you can flavour it however you like. Tumeric not only gives the perfect egg-like colour but is an anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants and the paprika and hot sauce give it a Mexican-inspired flavour. While cooking, sprinkle over the flaxseeds and stir through (they won't affect the end taste), moving the tofu around the pan so that it cooks evenly.

4. The tofu is cooked once the edges start to brown slightly (10-15 minutes). Once done, serve alongside the wilted kale salad and dress with the capers and balsamic vinegar. I kept mine on the low-carb side but this would be great with rye toast or crusty sourdough, too.

vegan tofu scramble recipe

vegan tofu scramble recipe

What are you favourite spring eats?
lilylipstick

London Dining: April Round-Up

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Sunday Lunch at Blacklock Soho

Lazy Sundays need long, late lunches. The kind where you leave the table at 8pm not quite sure where the day has gone. Eliza suggested Blacklock Soho and I just saw "cocktails for a fiver" on the menu and was in. My Nettle Gimlet was small but potent - the perfect start to the meal and not the sort of drink you can finish off quickly! A quick browse of the rest of the menu showed that the restaurant is very meat-focused with its short, simple menu. My dining companions went "all in" for £20 and were presented with a huge platter of roasted meats and vegetables, along with additional sides and sauces. My "sorry I'm vegetarian but I could just order the peas..." was answered with a dish that well surpassed my expectations - a beautiful platter of bright colourful vegetables which included the best sweet potatoes I've ever tasted. I was so happy to have such a delicious plate of food to work at while my friends tucked into a Sunday roast and it was exactly the sort of food I would choose if it were on a menu. For dessert Blacklock continues to keep things simple with one option - a white chocolate cheesecake served from the pan in a huge sharing portion with seasonal fruit. The basement restaurant is surprisingly light and airy and the cocktails and accommodating staff would have me back here with meat-loving friends anytime.

blacklock soho sunday lunch
Nettle Gimlet; veggie platter; all in roast for three people; white chocolate cheesecake
Drinks and Tastings at 155 Bar and Kitchen Clerkenwell

For the Tabl bloggers' event this recent addition to Clerkenwell's already amazing dining scene was our venue. As well as a spacious bar and restaurant upstairs, 155 has a huge downstairs space to host events and was the perfect venue for an evening sampling Brighton Gin, The Fabulous Adventures of 698B, and Opium's gunfire cocktails. I live nearby and will be back for the Saturday brunch!

Brighton Gin with a stick of minty rock. 
Opium's The Gunfire cocktail - inspired by the drink army officers would give their men in the 1800s. This was potent!
Dinner at Itsu Dining, Chelsea

Itsu is a Monday - Friday lunchtime staple, quick, healthy and there's practically one on every corner in Central London. My friend S and I had dinner at Itsu Dining in Chelsea which has two sushi conveyor belts, one with high bar stalls in the front and a cozier option at the back with proper tables - I'd recommend these over the bar if you're planning on a long catch-up! The sushi conveyor is so fun to watch - although its a nightmare if you're indecisive as everything just looks so good... there's a huge range of sushi as well as summer rolls, sashimi, salads and a menu of hot food to order from. The bill came to less than I was expecting and as a dedicated Itsu eater (the half price happy hour before they close makes me happier than most alcoholic happy hours) I'm surprised I'd not yet made it here.

The conveyor belt - everything is labelled and plates are colour-coded by price.
Origins Of Po-Up at Blessings Bar

Sophie and I attended the opening night of London's newest pop-up. Origins Of offers a simple menu of Middle-Eastern inspired dishes - spicy fried chicken, buttermilk infused cauliflower and beetroot falafels served either as tacos on mini flatbreads of in a sharing basket with a selection of dips. Hummus and flatbread is also on the menu along with turmeric-spiced fries. I loved the falafel - it's one of my favourite foods but surprisingly easy to get wrong (and as a veggie you eat enough of it to know the good from the so-so) but these were fresh and crisp tasting and not at all greasy with a vibrant red colour from the beetroot. The cauliflower was a surprise hit, too, it's amazing what spices can do to a usually rather uninspiring vegetable - my child's tastebuds don't usually let cauliflower near them but with a bit of colour and spice its a different story. The setting of Blessings Bar with its bright, light interior makes this pop-up perfect for after a day of hitting the area's markets. Open until early June so hurry on down...

origins of pop up blessings bar
Fireplace goals; falafel in flat bread; falafel, cauliflower and fried chicken tray; the menu- so nice to see loads of veggie options!
Where have you been dining this month?

lilylipstick

Life: Spring Chat

Friday, 15 April 2016

Well, springtime is officially here and it's time for a catch-up of sorts. A little diary entry for my blog because I'm sure every year speeds by that bit faster and it's sometimes nice to stop and take stock - I love how blogging is an online diary and sometimes those diary entries can be a little more real than just some cute filtered snaps. Sometimes you need a little moment to offload your thoughts, step back from your ASOS saved items list and reassure yourself that dying alone with cats isn't going to happen in the next minute (which is all you really need to worry about). So these are the little things, the back-of-mind thoughts of right now and I wonder which ones I'll still keep with me in a year's time and which, but for this blog post, will have been long forgotten about?

Neon art at Lights of Soho - new favourite pop-in for a coffee.
~ I am, for the first time in my true adult life, sticking to a weekly budget and it's so satisfying. I give myself a set amount per week for food, travel, socialising etc. and I've actually been sticking to it. Someone give me a Grown-Up Point.

~ I decided to dip my toe back into London's murky dating waters by downloading Happn. Too many of the male profile pictures are taken in the changing rooms of the gym that I go to and it unsettles me to scroll through people as I would the ASOS Petite range.

Happy afternoons with coffee and a Starbucks spring cup.
~ The day after said foray into online dating the screen literally fell of my iPhone. A sign from the universe if ever there was one. I taped it back together while slicing my fingertips apart, panicked that I wouldn't be able to Instagram tomorrow's breakfast and have since switched to team Samsung Galaxy which has a larger range of cat emojis.

~ I feel sort of lucky to be in the generation of people who (just about) remember life before the internet came and stole our souls. I felt so lost sans iPhone for two whole days but I remembered how I used to find my way around without GoogleMaps, I don't need to message my friends every 20 minutes to check that they still like me and the city has its own soundtrack which doesn't always need to be drowned out by those awful Apple earphones.

My favourite cup - flowers and birds!
~ I'm reading Game of Thrones at the moment (book 4 currently) and will actually scream at anyone who tries to talk about the TV show in my presence. I'm in awe that in the days of binge watching Netflix a book has made me laugh, (almost) cry and feel a tiny bit sick. One scene in particular I audibly gasped at while on a bus but this is London and you could probably noisily die in the street and no one would notice. Reading is one of my biggest joys and far more satisfying than starting at a screen or being sent a "hilarious" Tinder screenshot.

~ Timehop keeps reminding me that this time last year I was running 20 miles by myself and feeling like I could do anything ahead of running the London Marathon. I hope present and future me can tap into this feeling, despite the fact that I am typing this under three layers of blankets while watching a re-run of Man V Food.

~ I'm going to be a bridesmaid for the first time ever next year (at the age of 29!). I'm excited but I think the "big news" of a few friends recently (i.e. they are collecting far more Grown-Up Points than I am) has spurred me on to get my act together. Oh, wait, though, Food Network has just informed me that this is a Man V Food double bill. And I still have 2 GoT books to read...

The venti cup but it was free - how is this actually an acceptable amount of caffeine? 
~ I'm newly grateful for the friends I've made through the crazy internet - while I'm old enough that I don't get what Periscope is and am terrified by Tinder, I've found my crew on Twitter and Instagram and I still find that mind-blowingly amazing. London is fast-paced, impersonal and its easy to feel alone despite being surrounded by so many people - the internet's far from perfect but I love it all the same for letting me find people who Instagram food as much as I do.

Instagramming lunch at Blacklock in Soho.

~ I'm off on holiday for the rest of April so (shameless plug) follow my Instagram for a Vietnam and Singapore style grid. I may schedule some posts for while I'm away but...I equally may not. See y'all in real time in May! 
lilylipstick

Food: Cereal Killer Cafe - Brick Lane

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

I think most Londoners will be familiar with the Cereal Killer Cafe but outside of our London bubble it's still pretty novel. My "home" home is only 25 minutes away from London but a branch of Zizzi opening there is a Big Deal. I love the diversity of food options in this city, whether it be a Michelin-starred restaurant (rare, these days for me) or a street food stall, when it comes down to it food should be fun and that's exactly what Cereal Killer Cafe is.

Cereal Killer Cafe Brick Lane
Call the sugar police. Novelty cereals from around the world.
The tiny cafe on Brick Lane (there is a Camden Market branch, too) is stocked with more cereal than I have seen before - who knew there were so many varieties? As well as sugar-packed American imports, there are gluten free, vegan and some healthy-ish options too. You can make your own bowl (in a choice of three sizes) with your pick of cereal, milk and topping or chose a "cereal cocktail" from the menu. There are also coffees, milkshakes and, another American favourite, the Poptart. The cafe is packed with cereal-based souvenirs and fitted out with the hipster staple, mis-matched thrift-store furniture.

Cereal Killer Cafe Brick Lane
An Instagram dream.
Cereal Killer Cafe Brick Lane
Milk pouring in action. 
I am a huge cereal fan (my university days were spent dutifully eating Special K for breakfast in the belief that it was super healthy) but these days I rarely eat it and never buy it as I find that I'm always starving a couple of hours later and most cereals are packed with sugar, even if the packing would have you believe otherwise. But, for a weekend breakfast treat an occasional bowl of childish, sugary goodness does no harm - I opted for the "Did I Tell You I Was Vegan" cereal cocktail (Reece's Puffs cereal with Oreo topping - not exactly #eatclean, eh?) with Alpro coconut milk and a soya cappuccino. At £7.40 its not the cheapest breakfast option but the portion was huge and the novelty factor box is well and truly ticked by this place.

The cafe was quiet at 9.30am when I visited but got steadily busier and when I walked past again in the afternoon the queue was huge. It may be a visit-once type of novelty but for days when you just can't Instagram your avocado toast again and want to go back to a time when breakfast took itself a little less cerea-ously then it's just the ticket.

Early mornings on Brick Lane mean you see all of the street art on the shop shutters.
Have you visited any novelty eateries recently?
lilylipstick

Fashion: Summer Wishlist

Sunday, 10 April 2016

I don't know, we get one day of blue skies and bright sunshine and despite the temperature being in the low teens I find myself heading out to do errands in a beach dress and heart-shaped sunglasses (worn with a coat and trainers like the style icon I am). I'm a summer girl through and through and can't say no to the opportunity to replenish my summer wardrobe, even though summer pieces past have been worn so infrequently they are still as good as they were when purchased in 2010. Sometimes you just want new things even if you don't need them, right?

As I skip towards my late 20s and as I still haven't grown any taller than 5'2" my summer picks are less trend-led and more just what I want to wear when the sun is out and I'm in a park with a can of M&S gin and tonic in hand. I love sea-like blues and whites, cool fabrics and pieces that I can layer up and start wearing now and well into September too. For a non-jeans wearer I'm currently loving all things denim. Denim skirts were my sixth-form casual staple and it makes me feel both old and young again to see so many of them in the shops this season (although mine will have a slightly longer hemline in 2016 compared to 2006). I'm slowly trying to make my style a little less "girlie girl" but I'll never be able to resist a floral dress for summer and as for the sandals, being a grown-up and germaphobe means no more flip flops in London, sorry credit card...


1. Applique Babydoll Sundress - Topshop
2. Oversized denim jacket - Topshop
3. Alice Embroidered Top - Oasis
4. V&A Harriet Ruffle Dress - Oasis
5. High Waist Denim Skirt - Topshop
6. Bardot Frill Off-Shoulder Top - Topshop
7. Oriana Leather Sandals - Church

What's on your summer wishlist?

lilylipstick