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Life: June 2012

Finally bought Sherlock Series 2 on DVD
My amazing new throw from Urban Outfitters
The MASSIVE steak I had at Hawksmoor
Brilliant street art in East London

My nephew ready for his swimming lesson
Bargains from Carnaby Street
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee floatilla
Cakes at work to celebrate passing my first 3 months

Me and the girls at the PCC Pyjama Party
My Marmite ring for Marmite Afternoon Tea
Playing games with the family
The tasteful postcard from my GBF

Jubilee cake at work
Michael Jackson statue
Cosy blankets at Taste London
National Bourbon Day at Charlotte's Bistro
All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Explore: Taste of London


Regent's Park was recently transformed into a culinary festival of epic proportions for Taste of London. This wasn't just about local restaurants showcasing their wares, this was an opportunity for foodies to taste meals from some of the best and most prestigious restaurants in the country.



Each restaurant offered 3 or 4 courses for visitors to purchase with the festival's own currency of 'crowns', purchased from vendors around the venue.




I was determined to try the food from Le Gavroche, and my first dish was the braised beef cheeks with olives and a creamy polenta which was melt-in-the-mouth amazing.


We were also lucky enough to meet the head chef himself, the famous Michel Roux Jr! He also signed my recipe book - what a gent! (Annoyingly I blinked for the photo though!)




Here's what else I ate:


Asia de Cuba: Sweet brioche doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar
filled with butterscotch sauce, served with mojito sorbet


Barbecoa: Pulled pork shoulder, BBQ sauce and coleslaw
Launceston Place: Slow-cooked pork belly with apple jam,
truffle mash and pork popcorn
Launceston Place: Knickerbocker Glory
My favourite one however actually won the prize for the best dish of the entire festival and was from Club Gascon. Marmite Royale and Soldiers was served in an empty Marmite jar and was a combination of Marmite and duck, that was also slightly egg-y. It sounds gross, but it was so delicious, I literally didn't want it to end. As you can see I was pretty happy to eat it!


By the end of the afternoon I was full to burst, but it was a great opportunity to taste some of the most celebrated and expensive food in the world, for a fraction of the price! Taste Festivals take place worldwide, see their website for more details: http://www.tastefestivals.com


All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Shopping: Cath Kidston Sale

Cath Kidston has become an adjective in recent years; a name to describe anything floral, kitsch or with a new item with a vintage feel. It is undeniably cute stuff that gives an essence of homely without being stuffy. Granny chic, if you will. 

Their sales are always a great way to find those little extra home accessories that give your room a little pop. I picked up this set of 4 cereal bowls for £15 reduced from £22 - the understated pastel colours and simple polka dots are enough to perk up a dull morning's Weetabix, but nothing wild.


Here's my pick of the sale items, available online and in store now:
Top left: Petal half apron £12
Top right: Chicken quilted tea cosy £8
Bottom left: Boat hand towels £9
Bottom right: Floral ribbon £4
Photos from www.cathkidston.co.uk

Music: Amanda Palmer - Village Underground, 20/06/12



You may have read a lot about Amanda Palmer recently. She's been popping up in articles, discussions and white papers all over the internet due to the amazing fan-powered success of her recent Kickstarter campaign. Through the sheer love from her fans, AFP has managed to raise over $1million to fund her latest album and tour. In case you hadn't realised, this is IMMENSE. People have come together and contributed to make sure that their favourite performer is able to continue doing what she does best, and I'm proud to say that I'm part of that movement.




The reason I bang on about Amanda Palmer so much becomes obviously clear when you pay attention to what she does. Going beyond typical musician fayre, AFP completely engrosses herself in every aspect of her craft. Whether you buy an album, watch a live show, or just follow her on Twitter, there is always a touch of something else in the way that she interacts and wholeheartedly GIVES to her fans. And in return we are an obsessive bunch. 




The atmosphere at an Amanda Palmer gig is entirely different to any other show you may go to. Take the venue for example: there's no Shepherd's Bush Empire or Brixton Academy for her. She chooses places like Union Chapel, Heaven, and this time, Village Underground - spaces that allow her to make the whole show a piece of living art. For this show we were hidden away in Shoreditch, behind the famous murals of Great Eastern Street, serenaded with bagpipes while we queued to get in.




This night was a showcase of AFP's latest incarnation: Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, and her new album: Theatre Is Evil. 


Album artwork for Theatre is Evil, from www.amandapalmer.net
A blend of heartbreaking ballads that have the crowd (and AFP herself) in tears, and disco-worthy (yes, I said disco) energy fuelled tracks that make everyone shake off their tears and dance with their neighbours. The set was mixed up with a couple of The Dresden Dolls classics, an appearance by author (and AFP's husband) Neil Gaiman singing while accompanied by musical saws, and an encore of her own previous solo material, with the expected but never disappointing finale of Leeds United.




I LOVE going to Amanda Palmer gigs. They are always such a special event, with a sense of occasion and belonging - like we're all back we belong, in the arms of someone who actually cares. Thanks Amanda, we can't wait for you to come back. 


All photos by Ashleigh Jayne-O'Connell (http://writersblockandbrokenlenses.blogspot.co.uk/), or by me - please do not re-use without permission.

Food: Scandinavian Kitchen

A day's shopping on Oxford Street is an experience many of us have had over the years, but where it reigns supreme in high street fashion names, it severely lacks in decent places to eat. Tourists are left to put up with McDonalds and Starbucks, completely unaware that hidden behind Oxford St is a maze of streets and roads that hold some amazing places to eat.


There are two places on Great Titchfield Street that I've discovered recently, and the first is Scandinavian Kitchen (I'll write about the other one soon). This cafe gets ridiculously busy at lunchtime, both for eat-in and takeaway orders, but also to find some new culinary delights at the Kitchen's own shop.




I tucked into a plate of meatballs with 3 different side salads: potato, mixed bean and 'pizza' (comprised mainly of cabbage).




We also couldn't resist sharing a slice of homemade apple cake which was beautiful!




Wandering around the shop, the packaging was all so eye-catching and colourful, I was tempted to buy a load of items despite not always knowing what things were!


Please somebody tell me what this is!!
I'm sure the staff get fed up of people taking pictures of the food with rude English meanings, but I couldn't help chuckling at these sweet treats:





So next time you're on Oxford St, veer north and try somewhere local, unique and yummy.


All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Fashion: Peplum Pretties

I've been really skeptical of the peplum trend, because quite frankly, the last thing I want to accentuate is my hips. But my older sister pointed out that actually they are brilliant for hiding multiple stomach oriented sins, and like that I was converted.


I've broken into it gently, and haven't fully committed by spending loads. In fact I've hardly spent anything, but this £8 top from Primark is simple enough for me to be getting on with for now!





These are some of my other favourites at the moment. I'm not a huge fan of the peplum dresses, but I'd definitely wear these tops. What do you think?


Dorothy Perkins £27 Now £15!

River Island £25

Topshop £16

Warehouse £28
All photos from the attached links, except the Primark top which is by me. Please do not reuse without permission.

Recipe: Apricot and Peach Clafoutis

I love baking. But baking generally means cakes, pies and bread, which aren't all that good for you. I live with 5 other people and work in a busy office, so if I do make something for fun I can always shift it, but half of the fun is in the eating, let's be honest. 


I found this recipe in the Evening Standard magazine last week, it's by Rachel Khoo and is nice and summery. I like to think it's more healthy than my signature Mars Bar Cheesecake because it has fruit in it, but the sugar probably doesn't help!




Ingredients
4 eggs
150g sugar
Pinch of salt
50g ground almonds
2tbsp plain flour
100g creme fraiche
100ml milk
2 apricots, destoned and chopped
1 peach, destoned and chopped



Method

  • Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4, and butter and flour a 19/10cm baking dish or tin.
  • Whisk the eggs with the sugar and salt until pale yellow and thick.
  • Sift and fold in the ground almonds and flour.
  • Stir in the creme fraiche and milk.
  • Scatter the fruit into the prepared dish, spreading it out evenly.
  • Pour the batter over the fruit and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and set.
  • Serve warm or cold.

Follow me on Instagram (@charlienin) where I inevitably snap a pic of what I'm cooking most days!



All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Fashion: DIY Spike Collar

Embellished collars are everywhere at the moment, from lace to beads, updating plain shirts and blouses across the country.


If you're the financially challenged sort like myself then you may have noticed that the price of having some bling on your collar is somewhat more than the less shiny variety. And I just can't bring myself to pay for something that, quite frankly, may a) fall off in the wash and b) I could make myself. So I decided to make some subtle but effective changes to my new Matalan top, seen here before I took my scissors to it.



eBay is a wonder for buying small craft things if you can't get to a haberdashery, and is sometimes cheaper than a bricks-and-mortar shops. I got 20 of these spikes for £3.09, and also in the pic are my dressmaking scissors which don't completely ruin the material when it's cut into.




The spikes are like mini screws with a flat back, so it was as simple as marking on the collar where I wanted to put the spikes and snipping a tiny hole to push it through.




As the top is very busy, I didn't want to put too many spikes on the collar, so two on each side did it.





What do you think?



All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Shopping: Topshop Sale - The Store!

Sleepy Slough in Berkshire is best known for being the town where The Office is set and being under the Heathrow flight path. Very slight claims to fame which mean it doesn't exactly have much to attract hoards of tourists. Or shoppers. The high street is full of the basic bargain haunts and the obligatory Starbucks and Greggs, but there's also a very dilapidated looking Topshop, but as it said there was a sale on I figured I'd pop in while on a visit to my see my older sister.


As I looked through the sale rack, I realised that it wasn't the only discounted rail. In fact, EVERY rail was a sale rail. It dawned on me that I'd stumbled across the holy grail: A Topshop outlet! The store has a pretty good selection of items, starting from around £5 and also include a limited selection of shoes and accessories, and loads of jewellery at £1.50.


I got this pink metallic tee just to top off my obsession with allt hings shiny at the moment. It was reduced from £35 to £10.


As a seasoned bargain hunter, I am not opposed to trawling through sales, charity shops and car boots and I love the feeling of finding something that hopefully won't be seen on anyone else, but for a fraction of the original price. This place is definitely going to be one of my new 'secret' bargain spots!


All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Shopping: Another Primark is Coming to Oxford St!

There's surprisingly few Primark stores in central London. When the first Oxford Circus store opened there were scenes of carnage as people practically wrestled each other to get to the bargains before anyone else. Well, be prepared for it to happen all over again! On my way to the tube after work last week I did a happy dance in front of this sign:

Being only 5 mins from my office, this is bound to RUIN my bank account. But I'm very excited! Roll on September!


All photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.

Explore: Marmite Afternoon Tea at The Botanist

When I told people I was going to this event the reaction was predictably split between "OHMYGOD WHERE IS IT AND HOW DO I GET A TICKET?" and "Why on earth would you want to go to that?!". Marmite really does bring out the extremes in people's taste buds, but I am very much in the 'Love' corner. A staple family favourite since I was a baby, I've been practically brought up on the stuff, and much to the disgust of many I can happily eat it out of the jar. When my friend Ms O told me about this I was so so SO excited!


So on Bank Holiday Monday, we put on our tea dresses (and very relevant jewellery) and headed to The Botanist in Chelsea for this genius twist on the most traditional of English meals.


Finally I had an appropriate place to wear this ring!
Us in our tea dresses
We started with some rather fancy tea before the feast began. Ms O had rosebud and I had mango which, considering I can't stand tea, wasn't actually too bad. 


But that was all a precursor to this:




So on the top was a selection of cakes made with Marmite chocolate. I can unequivocally say that Marmite chocolate is the most disgusting of all the Marmite related products that have infiltrated the supermarkets, but actually these cakes tasted just like regular chocolate cakes and brownies. However, I wasn't there for the sweet stuff and I have to admit I had a bite of each but swiftly moved onto the savoury yummies beneath.


The middle layer was freshly baked cheese scones served with Philadelphia and, of course, Marmite.




And the bottom layer was Marmite sandwiches (crusts removed obviously!), cheese on toast, and cheese straws.




Oh my I was so full by the end! It was great to see so many others having the same tea as us in room, and regardless of whether you love it or hate it, Marmite really is a great British institution, and this was a brilliant idea!


1st photo from www.marmite.co.uk. All other photos property of Shopped and Dropped, do not re-use without permission.
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review