30 June, 2013

Viewpoint vibes


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Crop top - River Island
Midi skirt - Topshop
Suede leather bag - Vintage
Cut-out boots - DIY (tutorial coming soon)
Watch - Casio
Spiked bracelet - DIY

So this was my outfit for day two of exploring Stockholm; it withstood a jug of sangria, walks around town, far too much food, photos at the viewpoint and drinks in the evening. Long, Scandinavian summer days call for multi-purpose outfits!

You must know by now: I love a good midi skirt. This tube skirt is no exception and is an effortless day-to-night item. The only issue I have with it is that, whilst the double layer gives it a nice thickness, it's quite hard to iron and means that the skirt sometimes doesn't hang quite right. But, other than that, it's a perfect Topshop basic. The crop top was also such a good purchase - cheap and just an easy summer wear - I'm almost tempted to buy one in every single colour! Lastly, I know I keep featuring these cut-out boots and still haven't shown you my DIY but don't worry, that's on it's way I promise. They were hardly off my feet for ten minutes throughout my whole holiday, I just wish it was cool enough in Dubai to wear them here too! #hotweatherproblems


29 June, 2013

Stockholm photo diary

It's been quite tricky deciding how to organise the 300-odd photos from my trip into coherent and logical blog posts, but I think I'm on track now. Unlike with my Zambia trip, the chronology of these posts is going to be a bit looser but, having said that, I am going to start at the beginning. So, first of all, let me just give you a run down of our first couple of days in Sweden...

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After dropping our bags off at the hotel and freshening up, I put on this outfit and we went out exploring. Our hotel was on Sodermalm island, dubbed the "trendiest area of Stockholm", so we were eager to get out and see what all the fuss was about! First stop though, as it always is with us, had to be food. We lunched at this little, kitschy local cafe called Bla Lotus - a recommendation from my Spotted By Locals iPhone app (definitely check out their city guides, they give some seriously good suggestions and the no-wifi tracked map is a lifesaver in an unknown city). The entire menu was in Swedish, which almost scared us away, but the lovely waitress translated everything into English for us without batting an eyelid. I decided on the quiche of the day, which came with salad, pesto bread, lemonade and herbal tea, whilst Paisley went for one of their sandwiches... delish!

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After lunch we carried on wandering around the neighbourhood, admiring the beautiful architecture, expensive boutiques and fashionable people. Seriously, I would have been happy to spend my whole time in Sweden just people-watching! I got my creep on and tried to take some surreptitious photos of interesting people throughout the trip but, of course, they don't do these great characters justice. 

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By the late afternoon, my sleepless night on the plane began to catch up with me so we returned to our room and had a little power nap, before going out for dinner and drinks in the evening. One day down and I already loved the city (even if my bank account wasn't going to!).

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Our second day in Stockholm is a slightly embarrassing story. We ventured into the Old Town at Gamla Stan and had the very best intentions of being cultural - visiting the Royal Palace and museums - and we did begin by wandering around the beautiful cobbled streets...

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But then mid-morning sangria happened...

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The sun was shining, the view was wonderful and we were thirsty... why not! So, instead of going to see the changing of the guard at the Royal palace like we had planned, we sat, chatted, and worked our way through the pitcher. Be honest, this does sound like a much more enjoyable way to spend an afternoon though, doesn't it!

Once the sangria was finally finished, we ventured back into Old Town in search of a late lunch (yes I know, all we do is eat and drink!) and picked one of the many cute little cafes lining the streets.

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Swedes seem to serve everything in a wine glass, even Corona! How bizarre.

I ordered a traditional Swedish smoked salmon and potato dish, whilst Paisley went for a prawn salad with the most divine dressing. This was some seriously good food!

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Guess what, we did actually go and see the Royal Palace briefly after lunch (boxed ticked, well done us)...

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Then, after popping back to our room, we ventured out again to the Fotografiska museum and stopped at the viewpoint to take some snaps of Gamla Stan in the distance. Bear in mind that this was at about 8pm and it still stayed this bright for hours after that, how brilliant.

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We'd already spent far too much money on food for the day, so decided to go for a cheaper option close to our hotel - Middle Eastern street food from Amida Kolgrill (another recommendation from Spotted by Locals). It would appear that I can't stay away from Arabic food even when I'm miles and miles away from home! My order was the vegetarian option with couscous, whilst Paisley went for lamb with rice; they were both so tasty and great value for the huge portions. Not exactly traditional Swedish food, but what more could you want.

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So that's two days down and about about two kilos gained from the excessive eating and drinking!

Outfit post from day two up tomorrow...


27 June, 2013

When in Sweden, dress as the Swedes do

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I can't quite believe my little European jaunt is already over! I landed back in Dubai in the early hours of this morning and, as always, it feels bittersweet to be home. I've started trawling through my hundreds of photos and organising blog posts to tell you all about my trip but, for now, I only have the energy for a simple outfit post... I'm sure you'll understand.

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After landing in Stockholm early last Wednesday morning, my cousin and I spent the rest of the day wandering the streets of quirky Södermalm, and this is what I wore. This Zara skort has popped up on literally every fashion blog I follow (click here to see examples) and, seeing as I have a huge FOMO, I obviously had to have it too. I can understand why everyone loves it, though, as it's holds the perfect combination of minimum fuss, maximum style. Not to mention, my favourite Swedish blogger, Victoria Törnegren, wore it so well that I thought: "when in Sweden, dress as the Swedes do" (i.e. I'm obsessed with everything she wears!).

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In fact, every item in this outfit was a staple during my holiday. I wore the jumper, boots and bag non-stop too, so I apologise if there's not a whole lot of variety in my looks but, hey, at least I'm good at packing light!

More Scandinavia instalments coming soon, stay tuned.

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Metallic jumper: Mango
Skort: ZARA
Suede leather bag: Vintage
Cut-out boots: DIY (tutorial coming soon)
Necklace: Forever 21, similar here (used for DIY Balenciaga halo here)



18 June, 2013

Spontaneously scooting off to Scandinavia

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Striped crop top: River Island
Cigarette pants: ZARA
Knitted jumper: Mango
Denim shirt: Forever 21 (similar)
Cut out boots: DIY (tutorial coming soon)

So I'm flying away to the far-off land of Scandinavia tonight! First stop: Stockholm, second stop: Copenhagen. Like most other Dubai residents, I'm keen to escape to chillier climes at every possible opportunity, so I  wasn't about to spend my lovely ten day break (between moving jobs) sweating it out in the 40°C heat! Just the thought of switching my sandals for ankle boots, and being able to layer my outfits again, was enough to get me scouring the internet for flights. The photographs above show a few of the items being thrown into my suitcase this morning (they may look neat and tidy but, trust me, the rest of my room was not!) and will undoubtedly appear in my holiday outfit posts - how refreshing to mix up my fashion photos with a European backdrop, and not to have beads of sweat trickling down my forehead in every picture!

Aside from the cool weather, and the fashion opportunities that come with it, though, I am seriously looking forward to discovering a whole new part of the world - one that I knew hardly anything about two weeks ago! I've done my research since then, though, and my laptop history is now full of cringe-worthy google searches for "hidden treasures" and "bohemian areas", whilst my iPhone is overloaded with travel apps promising to show me how to "live like a local". Inevitably, I'm sure nothing will go as planned, and I won't visit half of the places that I have scribbled down in my notebook, but the anticipation and meticulous preparation is half of the fun of travelling, isn't it! 

I'm having a laptop-free, wifi-limited break so check on my Instagram uploads if you want to follow my trip, and I'll update you in detail on my return. Scandi, bring it on!


17 June, 2013

Banoffee pie in a jar

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I've been a banoffee pie enthusiast for years now - I think it's one of those desserts that you either love or hate - so I know the recipe like the back of my hand. I don't tend to use set measurements anymore, but Nigella's recipe gives you a good idea of how much you'll need of everything. I always used to make banoffee pie in a big glass dish but a couple of weeks ago I saw "Banoffee pie in a jar" on the menu at Pantry Cafe. I was too stuffed after my eggs benedict to even consider trying theirs that day but it made me think, "how cute and neat would it be to make it in jars, I should try that!"

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The easiest and tasiest way to make the toffee layer is to simply boil condensed milk in their unopened cans. Once you've boiled the cans, you can keep them for months, unopened in the cupboard, which makes this recipe super quick for the next time you want to make it!

So this is what you'll need to do: remove the labels, submerge the cans in a saucepan full of water, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and let the water simmer for at least 3 hours (I did mine for 4, on a very low heat). Allow the cans to cool before opening but, when you do, your condensed milk will have "magically" transformed into thick golden toffee...

[Tip: I always boil one extra can to be my tester. I'll open it after 3 hours and see if it's ready yet and, if not, i'll just keep it out and put the other cans back on to boil for another hour or so.]

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Next, crush up your biscuits (you can use any kind - ginger snaps, chocolate, oat... or just good old Digestives) and pour in a good amount of melted butter. Add a couple of spoonfuls of crushed biscuits to each jar, pressing down to create a compact layer. Place the jars in the fridge for at least and hour, so that the biscuit solidifies and does not crumble when you add the next layer.

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The next step is to dollop toffee into each jar, on top of the biscuit base.

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Then a layer of sliced bananas (you could also add some strawberrys or blueberries in here too!)...

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Whip up some double or whipping cream and smother it on as the fourth layer...

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And you're pretty much done! All that's left is to grate or drizzle some dark chocolate over the top, to make it look pretty, and there you go...

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Yes, yes, I know, this dessert is extremely rich and sinful. But the best thing about making it in jars is that you can just eat a couple of spoonfuls then close it back up and save the rest for another day! I've come across some low-fat banoffee pie recipes that replace the cream with yoghurt, which I should probably try next time but I just can't quite imagine it being anywhere near as good. So, for now, let's just be naughty and indulge in all the decadent glory of a classic banoffee pie!