Thursday, 30 June 2011

Better Days Ahead

I'm currently doing some upgrading to 'Love, Lilly' so please bear with the "not so pretty-ness" for a little while!  In the meantime, enjoy these little pretties instead!

{first pinned by Emilia Jane on Pinterest}

Monday, 27 June 2011

Just a couple more...

from the weekend...

The perfect picnic beverage (and SUCH an English institution):

I'm amazed at how much my strawberry has grown in just over a week - could there be a green thumb lurking under there after all?!


I'm going to tell you something, and I know you will be amazed!  Ready?

Our predicted 29 degrees on Sunday actually happened!  I know, amazing right?!

Pic courtesy of Ben's iPhone

I can't even begin to describe how nice it is to feel warmth on my skin - I honestly could sit out in the sun all day and not get bored of it!  Ben and I spent a couple of hours picnicing on Brook Green yesterday. Unfortunately sunbaking for hours isn't really Ben's thing, so we retreated to the sundrenched warmth of our flat instead and enjoyed dinner al fresco on our balcony - it was glorious! 

I know my obsession with the weather lately might seem a little OTT, but for this little sun-worshiper, London weather really does get me down.  After living in London for over 4 years, I truly understand now why the Brits have a bad reputation for being grumpy!

Friday, 24 June 2011


It has been ONE. LONG. WEEK. 

The summer months at work are always quiet, hence providing me with little motivation nor stimulation.  And to make matters even worse, the summery weather is yet to arrive and we have been dwelling in cloudy, rainy, breezy, cold weather.  Fear not, we have a day of predicted 29 degree temps on Sunday - I will be crossing fingers AND toes that I might actually be able to go outside without a coat for once!

Regardless, a lot of very good things have happened this week:

* We finally made it to Dirty Dancing, after the previous weeks fire disaster
* We have been nurturing our new balcony garden we planted last weekend
* We saw Bridesmaids - quite possibly the funniest movie i've EVER seen
* We joined a gym, and can't wait to spend all of our spare time getting fit and toned
* We applied for more Olympics tickets - fingers crossed
* We have been basking in uninterrupted Wimbledon coverage - tickets next year please

For the weekend: we'll be watching the Collingwood vs Sydney game early tomorrow, followed by a swim session at the gym.  Maybe a nice dinner for 2 with my gorgeous husband on Saturday night.  Our first Body Pump session on Sunday morning, perhaps followed by a drive to the country to soak up every one of those 29 degrees!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Oh what a night!

Yesterday was our 5 month wedding anniversary! Not usually a big deal I know, but being the beautiful and sweet husband that he is, Ben surprised me with tickets to see Dirty Dancing (on one of our first dates, knowing it is one of my all-time favourite movies, Ben took me to see a screening of the movie at a funky cinema bar in London Bridge), so it was the loveliest of surprises. HOWEVER, London had different plans for us! As it turned out, a massive fire had started in a neighbouring building to the Aldwych Theatre that morning, and consequently every street in the general vicinity of Aldwych was closed well into the night. Chaos ensued and unfortunately, the Dirty Dancing performance was cancelled.

The offending fire!
So, onto Plan B.   

We had originally decided to start the evening with another 'Ben & Leah memory', of dinner & drinks at the Coal Hole, which is the wine bar where Ben and I first met. We decided that we now, more than ever, had to honour that plan, so reminisced with a celebratory glass of bubbles. As we now had no other plans we decided to make the most of the opportunity to check out the newly opened, and much hyped da Polpo

Photo courtesy of alotonherplate
da Polpo is the newest of 4 Italian Bacaro-style eateries (along with Polpo, Polpetto and Spuntino) opened in and around Soho. I've read SO much about them all and couldn't wait to try out this new little gem. And we weren't disappointed - this really is my kinda place. We were lucky enough to get seats at the bar where we had a great view over the floor. It's such a relaxed atmosphere, you can't help but feel at ease. The staff are uber friendly and happy to have a chat (without being too intrusive) and were great to suggest both drinks and food. I had been reading alot about Campari and Aperol Spritzers during my research of Venice (for our trip in August, can't wait!), so I was keen to find out more. I already knew I didn't really like Campari, so I was happy to find out that Aperol was lighter and sweeter. I'm not 100% sure of the measurements, but it looked like one third each of Aperol, Wine/Prosecco and Soda, over ice. We tried one of each just to make sure, but Aperol was the clear winner - I could have happily sat there most of the night getting to know this new-found friend. 

So beverages aside, the food was just as inspiring and has left my mouth watering just at the thought of it. [FYI, a Bacaro is an Italian restaurant that serves small plates of food, very similar in style to a Spanish tapas bar.] The menu was quite extensive and featured lots of delicious sounding Italian dishes, whilst also making the most of the UK seasonal produce (think aspargus and broad beans at this time of year), and also had a large section dedicated to the meatball - and yes, even a vegetarian meatball, much to Ben's delight! We also tried the Mozarella & Broad Beans - I don't think i've EVER had mozzarella that fresh and creamy, the Zucchini & Chilli Pizette which had quite a kick, but not so much the incredible flavour shone through and a potato croquette that was a lovely contrast of crispy crumbed coating and light and fluffy potato inside. I think this review by faerietalefoodie sums up the da Polpo experience (funnily enough, the photos are taken from the exact same seat I sat in), all I know is that I can't wait to go back to try the rest of the menu!

Meatballs, Mozzarella & Broad Beans and Aperol Spritzer at da Polpo
We decided not to stay for dessert, instead we thought we might walk into Leicester Square for an ice-cream. Whilst we were wandering the streets of Covent Garden, I remembered that the new M&Ms World store was due for opening, so dragged Ben through the crowds of tourists and to my delight found the store open and buzzing!

For those who don't know, a big part of my job has been dealing with many projects relating to the opening of this store, so I know it's been a long time coming and have been eagerly anticipating this day for a very long time :)

The London store is the 4th store to open globally, after LA, New York and Orlando - and WOW, what a store - spread over 4 whole floors, the store is filled with all things M&Ms, some beyond even the biggest kids imagination. Stuffed toys, candy dispensers, sports equipment, ROWS and ROWs of different colour M&M's to gorge on, clothes, chopstix - the list goes on, you really do have to see it to believe it!  My only complaint, the only flavours available are plain chocolate and peanut, why oh why can we not have Almond M&Ms in the UK??? Could everyone please cross their fingers for Almond M&Ms some time real soon!

Yep, 4 whole levels!

I'll have one of each thanks!

His M&M Highness!

My new besties!

So all in all, after the disappointment of not making it to Dirty Dancing, our night actually had a silver lining and turned out even better than expected!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

All partied out!

It's all over for another year - the Summer Party has been done and dusted!  A nice time was had by all, the rain managed to hold out for long enough for us to enjoy drinks on the terrace, the meal as always wasn't fantastic (but when you're catering for 800 people I guess you can't complain too much), and as usual we spent most of the night on the dancefloor - my twice yearly fix of busting moves - noice!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Party Planning!

What better way to prepare for a night of free champagne and an open bar than a Daddy D burrito from Daddy Donkey!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

A summer party dress

I'm super excited!  The dress I ordered online has just arrived, i've tryed it on and it's fabulous!

Each year, my firm hosts a "summer party" for staff.  This is a grand affair, and because we're such a large firm there are only 2 venues in London where we all fit - Grosvenor House and, this years venue, Old Billingsgate.

One thing I struggled with when I first moved to London was the fact that EVERYONE gets dressed to the nine's for these do's.  So, each year I go on the eternal search for the perfect party dress (god forbid you wear the same dress twice).  I was really struggling this year, it seems a season for pretty floral sundresses (not quite the cocktail requirement) or super-short, perfect-pins numbers.  I had almost resigned myself to doing the unthinkable and re-wearing a dress from a couple of party's ago, but then this gorgeousness popped up (gotta love memory-advertising on websites these days).

I absolutely can't wait to be sipping some bubbles in this tomorrow evening!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Kerbisher & Malt

We were very excited to see that a funky new fish & chip shop has opened up just down the road from us.  We don't often get down to the shops around Brook Green, so it seemed like Kerbisher & Malt had sprung up out of nowhere.  We went for our first visit after a lovely day out on Sunday and am very excited to announce that this is THE best fish & chips i've had in the UK!  First of all, my excitement is based around the fact that you have the option of "crumbed", as opposed to the stock-standard grease-trapping batter that this country can't seem to get enough of.  My next favourite thing about K&M is the crumbed "calamari" which is actually a whole octopus, mini-tentacles and all. Ben is, of course, stuck with the chip butty, but to his delight has another vege option of onion rings!

Having recently caught up on Hugh's Fish Fight we were also pleased to see that K&M advertise as using only "sustainable" fish (although I would like to investigate this further to ensure the claim is 100%, my suspicions mostly aroused by Cod and Haddock being top of the menu).

Our only disappointment? They don't open on Monday's, so we couldn't go back for another fix the next day!