29 June 2020

How I Stay Sane in Lockdown | Part 2

lifestyle blogger, favourites, round-up, waterlow park
Waterlow Park
If you read my first 'How I Stay Sane in Lockdown' post, you'll know that I have had a lot of spare time on my hands that I needed to fill. Since then I have even more books, podcasts, an online course and various other things to update you on.

Over the past weeks, we have also witnessed the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement on social media and on our streets. I have used my time this month to educate myself further on systematic racism and how to be an anti-racist. Within the below round-up, I have highlighted in yellow resources which bring awareness and education to these topics. I am donating 100% of earnings from affiliate links in this post to the Runnymede Trust, UK's leading independent race equality think tank.

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LEARNING
In the last month I completed MSE's Academy of Money online course with the Open University, which is a free course on personal finances, from spending and saving to mortgages and pensions. It is made up of 6 sessions, so you can choose to study the whole course, or just focus on one session (e.g. budgeting). When I was at school, we didn't learn about any of this so whilst in lockdown it's a great time to educate myself on managing personal finances. I'll come back to the course later on in life as well, to refresh my understanding of mortgages or pensions for example. Knowledge is power, and being able to confidently manage your finances is a great asset, so I'd highly recommend trying out this course.

LISTENING
On the subject of MSE (Money Saving Expert), I really enjoyed listening to Martin Lewis' episode of Desert Island Discs. Other podcasts that I have been listening to lately are:

I Weigh with Jameela Jamil - I first became aware of Jameela Jamil on Instagram, where she is outspoken about body image and feminism among other pertinent topics. On her new podcast, I Weigh, she interviews inspiring people from various walks of life. I really enjoyed the Reese Witherspoon and Roxanne Gay episodes and I'm looking forward to listening to the episode with ALOK next.

Work in Progress with Sophia Bush - Actor and activist Sophia Bush would be one of my dream dinner party guests. Not only is she dedicated to activism (spreading this to her followers via her social media accounts - follow her on IG now), she is thoughtful, inquisitive and kind which comes across on her podcast. Sophia's guests are varied and interesting and she always has gripping discussions with them on important issues. With Covid-19 she has produced an episode with an infectious disease specialist and with the recent rise of the BLM movement, she has had discussions with several black female writers, film-makers and organisers - I would particularly recommend the episode with Dr. Melina Abdullah. The discussion on defunding the police and reinvesting funds to other services using real life examples is eye-opening and logical.

Grounded with Louis Theroux - I mentioned this podcast in my last round-up, but I wanted to give a quick mention to his episode with Rose McGowan which hadn't been released when I published that post. A gripping episode where she discusses her childhood in a cult, her work in Hollywood and taking on Harvey Weinstein.

READING
My pace has picked up on the reading front and I am astonished to say that I have read 3 books since my last post. I honestly can't remember the last time that I've read that many books in succession but I'm really enjoying reading in the garden or before bed. First up, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo* (joint winner of the 2019 Booker Prize) follows characters of different ages, generations and backgrounds who represent the different facets of black womanhood in modern-day Britain. Next up, Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult* also tackles the issue of race, this time in America. I don't want to say too much to avoid giving away the plot but the novel explores white supremacy and the subtleties of racism in various areas of work, the court and daily life. A thought-provoking read. I also read Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge* which in my opinion is a necessary read for everyone in Britain. The book gives a comprehensive overview of racism in the UK and how British history has produced the inequalities and systematic racism we see today. It is an engaging and informative read and I urge you to prioritise reading this. While you're here... please sign the following petition to include this book on the GCSE reading list, to ensure it is studied in schools. Click here

COOKING
To be honest my enthusiasm for cooking earlier on in lockdown has waned slightly. I haven't been trying out as many new recipes but the ones I have are definitely ones to share! I've listed the ones you need to try below:

Persian Barbari Bread - I found this recipe via @sw3kitchen, who has made this recipe multiple times according to her feed. The IGTV for the recipe is linked here which gives the overall gist of the recipe but visit the webpage when you attempt this as the video doesn't include all of the steps! The first time I made it, it turned out really well - it was easy to make, looks beautiful and is delicious. Also it uses plain flour instead of strong bread flour, which is a bonus as most people have it in their cupboards.  

Masala Omelette - This Nigella recipe is the perfect light lunch - it's tasty, spicy and protein-filled. I normally eat this with chopped salad and flatbread. Also I am obsessed with fresh coriander at the moment so I love an excuse to scatter it over a dish!

Honey & Sesame Halloumi - Okay so this might be a bit of a cheat. It's not technically a recipe but it's game-changing. If you like sweet-and-salty combinations then you need to try this. Fry the halloumi as you normally would in a pan. Once it is crispy and golden, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sesame seeds then fry for about a minute longer. Georgina Hayden has saved a Halloumi story to her IG highlights which shows how to fry with honey so check that out too.

WALKING
Lately I've been obsessed with tracking my steps on the iPhone Health app and I'm trying to hit 10,000 steps a day. Luckily in my patch of London, I live near lovely green spaces. I've listed a few of my favourites below:

Parliament Hill - It takes me around half an hour to walk to this landmark hill, which is part of Hampstead Heath. It has stunning views of the central London skyline, ponds and plenty of lush green space.

Highgate Cemetery - Near to the lovely Waterlow Park, Highgate Cemetery is one of London's smaller but incredibly beautiful Victorian cemeteries. It is well-known for housing Karl Marx's grave. You can now book online timed-entry tickets on weekends, which are spaced apart for social-distancing measures. When I visited it was quiet and peaceful and came across very few other visitors.

Clissold Park - I walked to this park via the New River Path, which was really interesting as I'd never done this before and it takes you through different parts of North London (starting way back in Hertfordshire) following along the river. This is a great park for a picnic with plenty of green space to pick your spot (read my latest post on How To Have The Perfect Picnic). I would recommend stopping by the Clissold Park Tavern for a post-walk takeaway pint.

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So that's what I've been doing with my free time for the last month or so. From the 4th of July in the UK, pubs and restaurants are allowed to open and people from 2 households can meet inside, so we shall see how that affects London. This may be my last lockdown post! Anyway I'll keep you updated on what I'm getting up to in future round-up posts - what should I call them? Monthly Favourites seems a bit retro. Hmm... watch this space...

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). As mentioned at the top of this post, all earnings from this blog post will be donated to For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page. 

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24 June 2020

How To Have The Perfect Picnic

picnic, food blogger, lifestyle, flatlay, sol, london
With the weather getting hotter in the UK this week, a picnic is the perfect way to spend time outdoors. Whether you are eating al fresco with your household or having a socially-distanced lunch, here is my guide to creating the perfect picnic...

Set the scene
Pick a nice spot. For a lunchtime picnic, I like half shade half sun location, so you and your fellow picnickers can choose where they want to sit. In the evenings, it is nice to find the last sunlight spot of grass to sit in. Picnic blankets or something to sit on is necessary. I like my waterproof picnic blanket (featured in the picture above) as it is thick and comfortable so works on various surfaces. If you are having a picnic in your garden, I'd add cushions for extra comfort.

Music is a nice addition to the picnic, so take a portable speaker with you. However, if you are in a park or public space, look around to make sure that your music isn't disturbing others.

Food
When it comes to the food, variety is key. My essentials at any picnic are:
- My quinoa salad (recipe here) which is fresh, light but still satisfying
- Chopped pineapple (chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before packing up)
- M&S Salt & Black Pepper Combo Mix a.k.a. the best crisps in the world. Waitrose & Partners do a similar mix but they are not as good as the M&S ones. Try them and thank me later.
- Yakisoba is my speciality, a Japanese stir-fry noodle dish. Tasty even when it's cold and I pack it with lots of cabbage and cauliflower.

Other nice picnic food options: cold homemade pizza, my three bean salad, crudité with dips, halloumi, houmous and salad wraps

Most importantly, don't forget cutlery! Nothing is more annoying than getting to the park and realising that you have forgotten forks for the salad. I wrap silverware in a tea-towel and slot it into a tote bag alongside the tupperware.

Drinks
An essential at any picnic is water. I take my Chilly's bottle* with me to stay hydrated, which is great as it keeps liquids cold for 24 hours - even when sitting in the sun. If I'm lucky, my boyfriend brings freshly-squeezed orange juice from home which is an excellent picnic addition.

In terms of alcoholic beverages, my favourite picnic option is bottled lager - Sol and Asahi are perfect in the summer (just remember to bring a bottle opener). Prosecco is a good option for a celebration as you don't need a corkscrew. If you're in the mood for draught beer, check out this handy map, which shows the location of pubs serving takeaway pints across the UK. Some also serve Aperol Spritz and Pimms, which are great summer drinks. It goes without saying to drink responsibly and take all rubbish home or back to the pub to recycle.

Let me know what your picnic essentials are in the comments below and stay safe in the sun! Getting sunburn, just once every 2 years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer. See my SPF Guide here.

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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21 June 2020

Self Care During Difficult Times

Looking after yourself.
lifestyle, blogger, looking after yourself, flowers, field, wildflower
Now more than ever it is important to look after ourselves. We have all been affected in some way by the pandemic, the world feels unfamiliar and the news is overwhelming. Be gentle with yourself, allow yourself to move carefully and slowly where needed, and take breaks. Below, I've rounded up some of the ways I look after myself during times of difficulty. These tips aren't the usual picture of self-care - no candles, no baths, no face masks (although indulge in these as much as needed!) I chose these are they are simple, free and work for me.

Delete social media
Take a break from Instagram. 

For me, scrolling through social media can be mindless and time-consuming at it's best. At it's worst, social media is overwhelming, addictive and exacerbates my negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity. So when I don't feel my best, I delete social media apps and re-install when I'm feeling more positive. Taking a break clears some of my cluttered head space and makes me realise how much I instinctively go to the space on my phone where the app was previously installed.

I realise that sometimes it's not possible to delete social media from your phone as you use it for work or for other reasons. I'd advise to reduce and make better use of your time on social media by:
1. Setting time limits on your phone e.g. half an hour a day. On iPhone, this function is under Settings - Screen Time - App Limits
2. Unfollowing accounts that are having a negative effect on you. Don't hesitate.
3. Where you can't unfollow specific accounts (maybe it's a friend's/family member's account), go to their profile to "Hide" their story and posts.

Get outdoors
Fresh air and daylight

Getting daylight each day is important for vitamin D intake, it is mood-boosting and it contributes to good sleep. Fresh air is great for sleep as well and I find that going for a short walk can help clear the mind when I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed. I try to take a walk or sit outside for at least 20 minutes every day.

Move
Be gentle with yourself and your body

I hated P.E. in school and the thought of participating any type of competitive or team sport still terrifies me. Teenage me would never believe that I willingly exercise on a regular basis. But now I realise that exercise and sport are two different things. I exercise on my terms, with no competition or teammates, at my own pace and in my own way. When I am feeling my best, I exercise regularly and feel better for it BUT when I'm having an off-day (these crop up a lot at the moment) I don't feel like ab crunches and cardio. So I don't do it.

Instead, I aim to include more gentle movement - such as yoga or going on a walk. Yoga with Adriene has been a resource I use daily in lockdown - I'd highly recommend her morning yoga videos or her 30 Days of Yoga. Taking time out of the day to breathe, move and stretch the body makes me feel calmer and more at peace.

Rituals
Prioritise your routine

Having set routines in your day - whether it is your morning or skincare or tea-making routine - is important to keep up and prioritise. Your rituals are personal, calming and during a time of uncertainty they can provide a sense of normalcy and care. They don't need to be long and complicated, but making time for them without distraction is key. Most important for me is my skincare routine before bed, as it is calming and sets the tone before I go to sleep.

I think part of the reason that the above tips work for me, is that they all contribute to reducing screen time. In the current climate, we are on screens more than ever before with our Zoom meetings, Netflix and working from home, so I try to avoid screens where I can. Activities like cooking, having a bath, reading a book or magazine, and organising my space are the various ways I stay off screens. Reducing screen-time will improve sleep, give your eyes and skin a break from blue light, and is proven to increase productivity.

Let me know your tips for reducing screen time and what you prioritise when looking after yourself in the comments below.
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15 June 2020

Intermittent Fasting - My Thoughts & Findings

Time Restricted Eating, TRE, blogger, lifestyle, food, flatlay
Intermittent fasting (or time-restricted eating) is always something I have been curious about as it seems like a simple way to change eating habits without restricting the foods you are allowed to eat. Intermittent fasting is essentially an eating pattern where you eat or fast within defined windows of time. It appealed to me as it has many benefits such as inducing cell repair processes (autophagy) and reducing insulin resistance, as well as it being a powerful weight loss tool. However, it is important to stress that intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone, so please do your research and consult your GP if necessary before trying this.

Before lockdown, it seemed too difficult to fit IF into my lifestyle, as I would need to eat before I left the house for work at 7.30AM and would have my last meal after I got back from the office, which wouldn't be until 6.30PM earliest. So whilst in lockdown, I decided to try the most popular type of IF - the 16:8 method - where you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour period. I started this mid-May so I've been intermittent fasting fairly consistently for around a month now.

I have been using the Zero app which tracks your fasts, sends a reminder when you can break your fast, and allows you to log your mood and progress. In general, I aim to finish eating by 7PM which means I break my fast at 11AM the next day. Sometimes I go over the 7PM deadline, but this just means I eat later the next day. During my fasting period, I drink water and black coffee (no sugar) only.

In terms of exercise, I walk in the evenings which is the beginning of the fasting period and I do yoga in the morning when I wake up. I tend to listen to my body so if after yoga I feel like doing more of a workout, I'll do some pilates or cardio. I'm a big believer in listening to my body and recognising it's needs so my portion sizes, exercise and snacking behaviours all revolve around this.

How do I feel now?
I do feel slimmer especially around the stomach area but I have also not been drinking alcohol and exercising more during lockdown which may have contributed to this. I don't weigh myself as a rule so I haven't been monitoring weight loss/gain during this period. Not eating into the evening or first thing when I wake up makes me feel better both physically and mentally as well, because I'm not eating unnecessarily. The 16:8 method has been fairly easy for me to fit into my current lifestyle, so I will continue with this during lockdown, but when I go back to commuting I'm not sure if I will be able to keep it up. Nevertheless, I think it has been a useful tool that I hope I'll come back to in years to come.

My tips for fasting:
- Aim to maintain the same time window for your each of your fasts (e.g. 7PM-11AM) so you can adjust your daily routine to fit this.
- Ensure you stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- During your eating periods, choose healthy, energy-sustaining and nutritious food and stay away from high-sugar foods. My Superfood Oats and Go-To Salad recipes have been great choices that worked well for me.

Let me know if you have tried intermittent fasting and what your experience was in the comments below. Also if you have any tips when fasting then please share as I'd love to know!

References/Resources:
- Intermittent Fasting 101 - The Ultimate Guide for Beginners https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide
- Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting
- Intermittent Fasting: Everything you need to know https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/intermittent-fasting-health-benefits-explained-by-nutritionists-a3968246.html
- Zero https://apps.apple.com/us/app/zero-fasting-tracker/id1168348542

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11 June 2020

My Favourite London Restaurants That Now Deliver

dotori agedashi tofu food blogger
Agedashi Tofu, Dotori

Eating out used to be my favourite pastime. I love the whole experience of a sit-down meal at a restaurant. The chit-chat as you browse through the menu, deciding whether to share dishes, whether to go for a starter, what to drink... Then onto the food itself, arriving steaming from the kitchen, moving glasses, pepper grinders and phones out of the way as more plates crowd the table. Savouring that first bite of the appetiser - whether it be a steaming oozing piece of burrata, a perfect morsel of kimchi jeon, or one of Dishoom's addictive okra fries.
For now, eating out is a thing of the past (and distant future) but luckily for my fellow Londoners, some of my favourite places to eat are now delivering! Whether you have a birthday or anniversary coming up, or just fancy a treat on the weekend, I've rounded up a few of the best... 

Dishoom
Dishoom, Breakfast, Indian, Food Blogger,
Pictured above is the from Dishoom's breakfast menu (their chilli cheese toast is to die for) but what I live for is their dinner menu. Inspired by the old Irani cafes of Bombay, Dishoom has taken London by storm with 5 locations across the capital (my personal favourite is the Shoreditch branch), queues of eager diners every night and a cookbook to boot. At their original Covent Garden location, you can expect to wait for up to 2 hours for a table at dinner time but now via delivery you can wait in the comfort of your own home. Their takeaway menu is smaller as they have selected dishes that can "abide a little travel". For my fellow veggies I'd recommend the House Black Daal, Jackfruit Biryani and Pau Bhaji. Dishoom even have their own playlist on Spotify "for extra Dishoom ambience". 


Homeslice
homeslice, pizza, dining, food blogger
Quite possibly my favourite pizza in London. Homeslice are famous for their giant 20 inch pizzas that dominate the tables (and conversations) of their restaurants. A great option for a weeknight date after work - it can't really get any better than sharing a pizza and an Aperol Spritz right? My favourite topping is Mushroom, Ricotta, Pumpkin Seed & Chilli - utterly delicious and unlike any other pizza. Homeslice also are offering a "Take and Bake" option, where they prepare pizza bases and garnishes which can be stored in the fridge/freezer to be popped in the oven at any time and finished with Homeslice toppings.

Homeslice "Take and Bake": http://www.homeslicepizza.co.uk/take-bake

Kanada-Ya
ramen, kanada-ya, food blogger, noodles, vegetarian, veggie
Friends and colleagues always ask me what Japanese restaurants I recommend, and I always point them to Kanada-Ya for ramen. As a vegetarian, it is hard to find ramen with a decent broth as it is traditionally meat-based but the Vegetarian Ramen at Kanada-Ya is hands-down the best veggie broth I have ever tried. It is rich and flavoursome and the noodles are always cooked to perfection. Make sure to include the Truffle Edamame and a bottle of Kirin Ichiban or cold Oolong tea for a winning meal. 


Dotori
dotori, finsbury park, korean, food blogger, dining
One for my fellow North Londoners here. Dotori serves up Korean and Japanese food in their bustling restaurant in Finsbury Park. I normally go for the Korean menu, as I eat Japanese at home, and their Korean food is so so tasty. I always leave with a full stomach as I can't help trying everything. I'd urge you to try the Oi Kimchi, Kimchi Jeon and Agedashi Tofu. Their Bibimbap and Korean stew pots are also excellent, but I'm not sure how well these travel. If I'm still in lockdown for my birthday, I think I'll have to choose Dotori.


I'm finishing off this post feeling ravenous... I cannot WAIT for my next excuse to get a takeaway. Let me know in the comments if you've tried out any of the above and any lockdown takeaway recommendations - I love discovering new places.
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31 May 2020

An SPF Guide | How To Protect Your Skin

sunscreen, beauty, sun cream, fashion blogger, summer, style
Marrakech, Morocco

I will not be the first person to tell you that you need to protect your skin from the sun. The harmful UV light from the sun can not only lead to skin cancer (which should be enough to motivate you) but also ageing which includes wrinkling, sun spots and pigmentation.

While I regret lying in the sun as a schoolgirl to make my limbs more golden (as I'm sure many of us did), my obsession with SPF has been going for a good 5 years now, so I've put together a clear guide on buying SPF (as it can be very confusing!) and shared some of my favourite products.


CHOOSING SPF
Your SPF needs to protect from both UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) radiation. This is sometimes known as "broad spectrum" SPF. 

UVA protection is rated either by stars (up to 5) or PA rating shown by the number of "+" (up to 4). The higher the number of stars/+, the better protection.

The level of UVB protection is indicated by sun protection factor (SPF). You should opt for at least factor 30.


USING SPF 
I tackle my face and body separately for SPF, especially when wearing makeup. 

For face, I use Bioré UV Perfect Milk SPF50+* after my moisturiser, before applying makeup. I picked up the Bioré Perfect Milk last time I was in Japan, and I love how it sits well under makeup, isn't oily, and has good UVB & UVA protection. Before leaving, I spritz my face with Bioderma Hydrabio Eau de Soin SPF30* which can be used over makeup. I take this in my handbag, so I can top up during the day. I love how quick and easy it is to use.

For body, I use Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect SPF50*. I like a transparent protection spray as I hate white streaky marks getting on clothing, but use with caution as it is easier to miss areas when spraying clear liquid. I carefully apply a good layer of this before leaving the house, and I take it with me if I know I will be in the sun all day so I can reapply. 

Key points:
- Reapply SPF every 90 minutes when you are in the sun
- Remember to reapply after swimming - this includes water resistant SPF
- Always double cleanse when using SPF on your face
- Check the expiry date of your SPF. On UK products, you're likely to find this by checking the period-after-opening symbol which states the number of months it can be used for once opened (e.g. 12M).

biore UV perfect face milk, bioderma hydrabio eau de soin, garnier ambre solaire
            Bioré UV Perfect Face Milk*                           Bioderma Hydrabio Eau de Soin*                     Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect*

STAYING SAFE IN THE SUN
Applying SPF is important to protect your skin but you should also:
- Choose shade over sun - the NHS advises to spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm in the UK
- Wear sunglasses and a hat and cover your shoulders with clothing to protect your skin in strong sun
- It goes without saying that sunbeds are dangerous and illegal to use under 18 in the UK. Read the NHS advice on this here


REFERENCES/HELPFUL LINKS:
Refinery 29 Top Dermatologists Answer All Your Questions About Sunscreen - https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/sunscreen-spf-dermatologist-tips-faqs

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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28 May 2020

My Go-To Healthy Summer Salads

Girl from North London, food, blogger, lifestyle, lunch ideas

The key to my ideal summer lunch is something healthy with a crunch (ideally raw veg), light enough to prevent a post-lunch slump but satisfying enough to keep me going until dinner. But most importantly, quick and easy to throw together the night before work or when ravenous at 1pm. In today's post, I share with you two salads that fulfil this brief and are also vegetarian, protein-rich and tasty. Perfect for eating at home as a quick lunch, packed in tupperware for a picnic or the office or as part of a summer buffet spread when entertaining (when all of these things are possible again).

QUINOA SALAD
(pictured above)
Serves one

Ingredients:
- Half a cup of quinoa or quinoa & bulgur wheat mix
- 8 baby plum tomatoes
- 2 inch piece of cucumber
- Handful of rocket
- Handful of olives
- 40g of Feta
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp of white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Generous grind of salt & pepper

Directions:
Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, pour into the mixing bowl and leave to cool.

While the quinoa is cooling, chop up the tomatoes and cucumber and slice the olives in half. Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jug.

Add the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, rocket and dressing to the quinoa and mix to combine. Taste and add extra seasoning or vinegar if needed. Finish by crumbling the feta over the top of the salad.

Options:
- Any salad vegetables that you have lying around can be added to this - try baby spinach, shredded baby gem lettuce or spring onion.
- Swap the feta for grilled halloumi. Tear the halloumi into bite-sized pieces and throw over the salad whilst still warm
- Roasted or grilled veg, such as red pepper, is a great addition. In the picture above, I've added courgette, aubergine and red pepper that have been barbecued and marinated in advance. If you are interested in the recipe for the marinated veg, let me know in the comments below as they are damn good on bread too.

lunch ideas, food blogger, girl from north london, lifestyle

THREE BEAN SALAD
Serves two

Ingredients:
- 400g tin of 3 bean salad mix (I like this one
- 16 cherry or baby plum tomatoes
- 4 inch piece of cucumber
- Handful of rocket
- Generous handful of olives
- 60g of Feta

For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp of white wine vinegar
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- Generous grind of salt & pepper

Directions:
Drain the beans, then stir with the dressing in a bowl.

Chop the cucumber, tomato and feta. Add to the bean mixture, along with the olives and rocket and stir well.

Taste to check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper if required.

Options:
- The beans can be drained and dressed up to a day or two in advance. I'll often dress the beans, eat one half in today's salad and pop the other half in a tupperware to use in tomorrow's salad.
- For vegans, swap the cubes of Feta for chunks of avocado.
- Carrot ribbons are a great crunchy addition to this salad - use a peeler to carve long ribbons of raw carrot and add to the salad.
- Sundried tomatoes (the type in oil in a jar) are a lovely addition as they add a bit of texture and sweetness

Leave a comment below if you try any of the recipes! I'd love to know your take on my favourite salads.

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25 May 2020

Pictures from Lockdown #2

girl from north london, peonies, flowers, decay

We are now starting week 10 in lockdown here in the UK, and the rules have been loosened slightly since my last post. Infinite outdoor exercise is now allowed; you can drive for exercise; and you are allowed to meet one person from outside your household at a 2 metre distance - which includes golf and tennis. In London, the atmosphere does seem to have changed - people seem less tense, more relaxed - although as I write this on a sunny bank holiday Monday, I am aware that our parks are filling up and social distancing isn't always followed.

But it's not all doom and gloom! In this series of images, I share with you:

1) More flowers! I love the way that the peonies change colour and throw out their petals out dramatically as they decay. And I have discovered stocks! I love how sweet these humble flowers are.
2) Japanese cooking - I used to take this for granted but my parents are great cooks - feast your eyes upon the best miso soup ever (mum), delectable vegetable side dishes (dad) and sōmen - cold noodles in a tsuyu dip that we eat in hot weather.
3) The great outdoors - with the new rules stating that we can now drive further for exercise, we treated ourselves with a trip to Trent Park on the outskirts of London and it was beautiful. We also went on a social-distanced walk around our local golf club and marvelled at the empty mown grass as far as the eye can see
4) Me in my natural habitat - reading in the garden, coffee to hand with my trusty Adidas cap keeping the sun off my face. 

girl from north london, japanese food, miso soup, blogger
girl from north london, lifestyle blogger, outdoors, golf club
flowers, stocks, lifestyle blogger, girl from north london
japanese food, lifestyle blogger, somen, cold noodles, tofu, girl from north london
Girl From North London, fashion blogger, book, reading, lifestyle, Girl, Woman, Other
japanese food, cooking, lifestyle blogger, spinach, girl from north londonTrent Park, outdoors, woods, Girl from North London, lifestyle blogger, walk

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18 May 2020

What I've Been Wearing At Home

OOTD, outfit, fashion, style, blogger, jumper dress

What we're all wearing at home has been a huge topic of discussion during lockdown. From The Pillow Challenge that has been circulating Instagram, to the debate on jeans - are we trying too hard for donning a pair? Or is it about time that we climb out of sweats and into something more structured?

I've never really worn trackie bottoms, so they weren't really an option for me. However, I did spend several days in various pyjama bottoms during a bout of tonsillitis at the beginning of lockdown, after which I was desperate to wear actual outfits. Whilst my use of make-up has been infrequent, I've made a small effort by accessorising with jewellery or a watch. I've collated three lockdown outfits in this post - all which fulfil my brief of: a) comfort b) warmth c) I would wear them out of the house. 

fashion, OOTD, outfit, style, blogger, jumper dress
OOTD, outfit, jumper dress, blogger, fashion, lockdown
jumper dress, OOTD, outfit, style, blogger
Missguided Jumper Dress (similar*) | ASOS Hoops (similar*)

blogger, OOTD, mirror selfie, fashion, style, outfit, lockdown, jeans, denim, ysl polo
OOTD, style, lockdown, fashion, jeans, denim, blogger
blogger, lockdown, fashion, style, lockdown, OOTD, YSL polo, choker
YSL Polo (similar*) | Monki Jeans* | Olivia Burton Necklace | Olivia Burton Watch













fashion blogger, OOTD, mirror selfie, style
outfit, style, fashion, blogger, lockdown, OOTD, mirror selfie
Monki Jumper (similar*) | Zara Trousers (similar) | Olivia Burton Necklace | Olivia Burton Watch

What have you been wearing at home during lockdown?

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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16 May 2020

A List of Things I Miss, Don't Miss, Won't Miss and Won't Forget

Faltering Fullback, Pub Garden, Beer, Pint, Summer, London
The Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park

I saw this post (and this post!) on Man Repeller and loved the style and honesty of the articles, so I felt inspired to share a lockdown list of my own. If you enjoy this, I urge you to lose yourself in the comments section of the posts on Man Repeller - I loved seeing what we all do (and don't) have in common from all areas of the globe. Let me know your list too - I want to know!


What I Miss

The first sip of a fresh pint

The Guinness Challenge

Linking arms with tipsy friends when moving from one place to the next

The way the seats on the tube bounce when the train is moving and all the heads in the carriage bob up and down in unison

The change in tempo when you enter an exhibition

Wearing heels I can't walk in

Spontaneous plans after work

Picnics

Not having time for Netflix

Not having time for Instagram

Making lists of places to eat and ticking them off


What I Didn't Think I'd Miss

Queuing for the bus at rush hour

The clang of the bell for last call

Worrying about the marks that sunglasses leave on the bridge of my nose

Needing to put on SPF

Needing to put on shoes

Packing a suitcase


What I Don't Miss

Dreading going out but also fearing that I'm missing out if I don't go

Hangovers (and the paranoia that comes with them)

Feeling so overworked I can't stop to breathe

The Sunday Scaries

Cat-calling

Forgetting to message on people's birthdays


What I Won't Miss

Feeling like we're all holding our breath as we pass each other on the street

The hour it takes to sanitise, store, sort and wipe down groceries each week

Spending too much time on Instagram

That weird feeling of exhaustion after a Zoom pub quiz

Going through tubes of hand cream to compensate for the amount of hand washing

Not knowing how to end a Zoom call


What I Won't Forget

That I managed to co-habit with the same three people for weeks on end

That regular exercise makes me feel stronger and more stable

That it got easier by week seven

How we found joy in the little things

The vivid dreams I had each night without fail

How we still came together for birthdays, but in a different way

How great it is (and how smug I feel) not to be hungover every weekend

That our little cul-de-sac continued to bang our pots and pans week after week for our carers

That I can be still

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13 May 2020

My Current Favourite Breakfast | Superfood Oats

Breakfast, Porridge, Oats, Recipe, Healthy Idea, Blueberries

As mentioned in my latest post on How I Stay Sane in Lockdown, I have been working out more, so I find that I crave something filling and healthy but tasty after my morning workout. Enter an old favourite - porridge.

Oats have forever been known as a great source of slow-releasing energy but they are also a nutrient-dense food packed with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In addition, they are high in fibre and protein in comparison to other grains. To my oats I add chia seeds for their texture, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, blueberries for antioxidants and natural sweetness (I use frozen blueberries which are a better option out of season and economically), and mixed seeds for protein and fibre (I choose a mix which includes flaxseeds for their nutritional benefits). I enjoy my satisfying bowl of oats alongside my morning coffee.

Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup of oats
- 1/2 cup of cows or oat milk, plus extra to add if needed
- 1 tsp of chia seeds
- A handful of frozen blueberries
- 1/2 tbsp of mixed seeds

Directions:
Combine the oats and milk in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat, stirring regularly. Add the chia seeds.

Once the mixture has started to thicken and is well-heated, throw in the frozen blueberries. These will add pleasing swirls of purple to the mixture as they thaw. Keep adding milk to the porridge as it thickens, depending on how you like the texture of your porridge. More milk = thinner porridge, less milk = thicker.

As soon as the oats reach a texture of your liking, scrape this out straight away into a bowl (it can thicken quickly on the heat) and sprinkle over the mixed seeds. Eat immediately.

Swaps/ Options:
- Fresh blueberries are fine - I'd scatter these over as a topping rather than stirring these in the pan
- Other frozen berries would also work, or try chopped banana as a topping
- I haven't added any sugar or sweetener, as I don't think this recipe needs it but if you crave extra sweetness, try adding a drizzle of honey before sprinkling over the seeds

Let me know if you try out this recipe or have any other topping suggestions in the comments below!

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11 May 2020

How I Stay Sane in Lockdown

tulips, lockdown, girl from north london, round up
We have been in lockdown for 7 weeks so far in the UK. Now that I've passed the adjustment period and settled into the "new normal", I have rounded up all the things that have been keeping me sane in these strange times.

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ROUTINE
Having a routine has always been necessary for my mental well-being, but it's much harder to establish one without office hours. Having a set morning and night-time routine is the most important aspect for me as these frame the day and positively affect my mind frame when starting the day or heading to bed, and I've been setting my alarm every weekday so I always rise at the same time.

EXERCISE
It's surprising that I'm including this in here, as I rarely worked out before the lockdown but I actually have been working out 5-6 days a week. It has kept me (fairly) level-headed - I have noticed that I feel more negative on the days that I don't exercise - and means that I can challenge myself. I started out with the Joe Wicks' weekday live classes which got me into the rhythm of exercising at the same time each morning. Now I'm doing Chloe Ting's 2 Week Challenge which is a step up from Joe Wicks, but I like the change. I've also been practicing Yoga with Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga with my sister in the evenings, which I've found therapeutic. Each day varies - some are more dynamic, some are more holistic - and I always feel more calm by the end of the practice.

COOKING
Like many people, without restaurants or takeaways, I have been cooking a lot more at home. There have been some fails and some triumphs as I have been trying out new recipes rather than going back to dishes I make frequently. I've linked some of my more successful meals below if you are seeking some inspiration:

Homemade Pesto - a joy to eat, and easier to make than you think. You'll never want to go back to the jarred stuff again!

Veggie Quesadillas - Slightly fiddly but worth it. Serve with a large green salad and dips of your choice.

Corner-shop Curry Sauce - A fabulous, coconutty sauce. I swapped the chicken for cauliflower as I don't eat meat, added a few nuggets of frozen spinach because I couldn't resist, and substituted the chutney for marmalade. The result was heavenly. It was also a good excuse to indulge in my Patak's lime pickle obsession.

Spinach & Feta Plait - I found this whilst browsing through @sw3kitchen's IGTV and it was delicious and really easy to make. It would be a great idea for a pot luck as it's visually impressive and great for sharing. Don't scrimp on the Nigella seeds as they bring a heady, fragrant element to the pastry that make this a special dish.

Lentil Moussaka - This veggie alternative to a lamb moussaka went down very well in my household. I am obsessed with aubergines and this was a satisfying but healthy dish. I served this with stuffed vine leaves and salad. The recipe I used was from The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook* but I've also linked a similar online recipe here.

READING
Aside working through my giant pile of unread British Vogue magazines from my monthly subscription (whoops), I've also just finished Normal People by Sally Rooney*. It seems like everyone and their mother has gone mad for the TV adaption of the novel, so I wanted to read it first. I demolished it within a few days and the way that Rooney portrays the characters' feelings, misunderstandings and insecurities was almost painfully relatable. Next to read on my bookshelf is Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo* and Small, Great Things by Jodi Picoult*.

LISTENING
I have become a more regular podcast listener over the last 6 months - I love immersing myself in a podcast instead of thinking about work on my daily commute. In lockdown, I've been listening to podcasts while I cook or clean. Top picks during lockdown are:

Grounded by Louis Theroux - I've been a Theroux fan for years so was thrilled when this was announced. Each episode of his new podcast sees him talking to fascinating, high-profile people that he has been wanting to interview for ages. I loved the Boy George episode - especially when Boy George starts ringing a bell and chanting when Louis has technical issues from his side of the Zoom call.

The High Low - I know I am (very) late to the game with this one but I have been enjoying Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton's conversation, rounding up all the best bits from pop-culture. Each week, I am left with a list of articles, books and programmes that I want to ingest (and probably will never get around to). Nevertheless, their charming, uplifting conversation and strong female bond boosts my mood when I am chopping garlic or cleaning the bathroom.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware - Table Manners might be my favourite podcast. Ever. I demolished the previous eight series before lockdown and while I have to say that I miss their previous format where they would cook for their guest each week,  I still enjoy their Zoom interviews with guests that they have been trying to pin down for ages, such as John Legend and Florence Pugh. Their recent episode with Mel and Sue was a listening highlight of lockdown.

WATCHING
Instagram Live might be one of the biggest trends to come out of lockdown. I never paid attention to them previously, but I have been setting reminders to tune into the following livestreams on a regular basis:

Rupi Kaur - Her free-writing sessions that she sporadically hosts during lockdown are cathartic and I love her calming voice and speed of the sessions. Any creative writers or those who enjoy writing in any form should definitely make time for this.

Lizzy Hadfield & Lindsey Holland - These best friends host a weekly chat on every Monday. I like their candid conversation which covers everything from loneliness to feeling low but they have a good laugh too. They also have just announced that their podcast - Things You Can't Ask Yer Mum - is coming back for a third series so I'll be eagerly awaiting to add that to my weekly listening.

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So that is a rather large round-up of the best bits that I have been doing and consuming during lockdown. Let me know how you have been staying sane during lockdown too in the comments below.

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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7 May 2020

How to Make the Best Aeropress Iced Coffee

iced coffee tutorial, Aeropress
As the weather is warming up, it is time to switch from hot coffee (mine's a skinny flat white) to iced. As coffee shops are currently unavailable to us in lockdown, I've been practicing my iced coffee skills at home. For those that don't have an espresso machine at home but do have an Aeropress, I've put together a "How To" guide for you, as I know most of the iced coffee tutorials on the internet use an espresso machine.

On a side note, for any coffee lovers who don't have an Aeropress or an espresso machine, I'd highly recommend investing in one. I've been using various cafetières for years and prefer the Aeropress because:
1. It makes the perfect amount for one cup
2. The taste is noticeably better
3. It is much easier to wash up
4. Composting is super easy as the used coffee grounds pop out in a perfect disk straight into your compost or food waste bin.
If you're interested in getting your hands on an Aeropress, I've linked to where you can buy one here*.

For this tutorial you will need:
  • An Aeropress*
  • Ground Coffee
  • Ice
  • Milk of your choice
  • A Cafetière

STEP ONE
Measure approximately 1 tablespoon of ground coffee and pour into your assembled Aeropress.

STEP TWO
Fill the Aeropress with boiling water up to line 1 marked in the image below. Stir the coffee grounds and water and using the plunger, press down the coffee into a short glass (or mug) of your choice.

STEP THREE
Pop your 'shot' of coffee in the fridge for 1 hour. For those who are more impatient, chill it in the freezer for 20 mins.
STEP FOUR
Once your coffee is chilled, start on the milk. Pour 60 ml of milk into a baby cafetière and pump the filter up and down *carefully* to froth the liquid - Kate La Vie shows how to do this on her Instagram stories here
You should end up with fluffy, frothed milk like below - and should double or triple in volume. 
 STEP FIVE
Pop 1-2 ice cubes into the coffee. Any more will dilute the coffee.
STEP SIX
Pour the frothed milk into the coffee. Those of you that are good at latte art could do this now - as you can see this is not something I have mastered yet, but the result is still pleasing.
Let me know how you get on and if you have any at-home iced coffee tips please share them in the comments below.

This post contains affiliate links, denoted by an asterisk (*). For more information, please refer to the disclaimer on my About page.

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5 May 2020

Pictures From Lockdown

Header Image

One good thing to come out of lockdown is that I have come back to Girl from North London. I have neglected this blog for almost 3 years, but I have missed writing for myself hugely and am excited to be back.

I'm lucky enough to have outdoor space in lockdown, and have shared a few images from my garden below. The roses are more bountiful this year than any before and have been a real joy.

Flowers are essential in the house as well, and we have at least two vases of cut flowers at a time during these past weeks. The tulips pictured are the 'Sorbet' bunch from Waitrose and are a beautiful multitude of pastel shades. Watching them transition from perfect straight stems to drooping and scattering into madness is enchanting. We've repurchased these three times. Pick up a bunch on your weekly shop if you can.

I have done my share of baking - you'll see that I have jumped on the banana bread trend, marvelled at how the dough swells when making hot cross buns and made chunky cookies (all which disappeared quickly).

While we don't know what the future holds for London, I want to keep updating this little corner of the internet with various bits and pieces from my brain. Watch this space...

Waitrose Sorbet Tulips
Cookies, Baking

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