I cannot wait for Thanksgiving next week! We are heading to NYC on Friday to spend the holiday with my family, but I have definitely been getting into the festive spirit here in England. Pumpkin Pie the most traditional dessert to dive into after Thanksgiving dinner and I really like introducing my in-laws and friends to traditional Thanksgiving foods over the years, which is why I was so excited when Innovative Bites sent me an entire box of Baking Buddy Natural Pumpkin Purée so I could bake some lovely desserts to share.
London is gorgeous in the Fall – there’s a cold snap in the air, the leaves change colour and it’s one of the best times to visit because it’s a little less touristy than in the summertime. If you are visiting between October – December and wondering what to pack for sightseeing around the city, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
We have been blessed this year with warm weather until the last week. The temps went from 65-degrees F to a crisp 50 degrees F. It’s usually a lot colder than this though as we make our way into November but layering during this time of the year is key. If you’re visiting London, you’ll likely be out and about, visiting all the landmarks and while there will be a chill in the air, you may get a bit hot if you are doing a lot of walking. To be comfortable, I’d recommend a light sweater – the one I am wearing from HM is so soft, not too thick but still very warm on its own. I also love the bell sleeve (it’s my favourite trend this year!). HM is one of my favourite stores to get cosy jumpers from – they have an amazing variety this season at affordable price points.
A comfortable pair of jeans is also ideal for walking around. I love these black jeans with a bit of stretch from Marks & Spencer – they look great with flats or boots and are a great transition piece as they can be dressed up with a pair of heels and a silky top for dinner in the evening. I’d bring a couple pairs of trousers that you can transition from day to night with you.
Shoes – the most important part of packing in my opinion as you want a pair of shoes that are super comfortable for walking around the city! I love these leopard print mules (on sale) from River Island and have been wearing them every single day to work as they match with nearly everything. Bring with you a great pair of flats like these and a pair of nice boots that will keep you warm.
A secure bag for all of your belongings is also key for walking around London. I highly recommend a cross body bag as its easier to keep an eye on your things but have also been using this fantastic tote bag from Accessorize for all of my autumn essentials. This bag is awesome because it comes with a middle compartment inside that also zips up, so you can store your wallet, passport, and any other important possessions inside safely zipped up. It’s also big enough to store extra layers such as a scarf, extra pair of heels for dinner, makeup, etc.
Finally, bring a very warm coat with you. As Ciaran and I were walking around Hyde Park on Sunday, it got freezing as the sun set. I love this wool checked jacket I got from J Crew last year – it’s incredibly warm. I find that the coats from J Crew are made to last and they’re generally very well-made. The previous J Crew coat I bought a few years ago was a gorgeous bright pink wool number that lasted me several years. It’s still going but I gave it to my little sister when I upgraded to the checked wool one pictured above. They are investment pieces, but worth it. I would also recommend bringing a pair of sunglasses – even though London can be doom and gloom during the colder months, it’s nice to have a pair of shades when we do have a glimpse of the sun!
To recap, I would say comfy-cozy is definitely key when it comes to packing your autumn wardrobe for London. You are going to be doing quite a bit of walking, quite a bit of pub crawling and quite a bit of eating and you’re going to want to feel warm and comfortable whilst doing those things so think practically when packing above all else!
- Sweaters for layering
- Smart denim/black trousers
- 1 pair of flats
- 1 pair of boots
- 1 pair of heels for dinner or going out
- A cute scarf. My little sister got me this adorable reversible scarf Poncho that I wear all the time.
- A very warm coat – I love this one from J Crew this year.
- A cross body bag – I have always been huge fans of COACH cross body bags and most recently love my Cambridge Satchel Co scalloped bag
- An LBD or jumpsuit- always comes in handy for lovely dinners out and always looks chic
- A few silk tops for going out
- Camera – I love my new Olympus Pen EPL8 – it’s a fabulous little camera that takes tack sharp images. It’s small enough to throw in my bag and is perfect for traipsing around London.
- Hair straightener
- UK Adapter for your electronics
*Pin for later
One of my goals after our wedding and honeymoon was to take more cooking and baking classes because anybody who knows me, knows I am absolutely rubbish at both! I can cook and bake a few things really well, but I really want to learn how to do more! When I was invited along to the PAUL Éclair Baking Masterclass at their Covent Garden patisserie, I was ready for the challenge!
For those who don’t know, PAUL is a delightful French bakery and patisserie with locations all over the world, and all of their pastries and treats are absolutely beautiful and scrumptious. PAUL opened its first bakery in Lille France in 1889 and the company is still family owned, having been passed down through five generations of bakers! They still use traditional methods to produce the freshest bread and finest patisserie – you feel as though you are being transported to Paris every time you try a PAUL delicacy! PAUL has become a household name here in the UK and their French breads, cakes, tarts, macarons and the gorgeous éclairs are some of the best I’ve had and make wonderful little gifts for family and friends (ahem, Christmas is right around the corner!)Anyways, being masters of traditional French baking, PAUL has introduced a new series of classes where you can learn the art of making your very own éclairs and bread, just like the pros.
As I walked into PAUL located in Covent Garden, I was met by friendly faces and our éclair extraordinaire, who talked us through a bit about what we would be learning. We headed downstairs to the kitchen, threw our aprons on and got started!
Ciaran has always told me that baking is super easy if you stick to the exact measurements, and baking éclairs, I learned, takes quite a bit of discipline and it’s imperative to stick to the exact quantities to get it just right. If you can do that, you will end up with stunning éclairs to impress your friends.
The class is organised in to three parts: choux pastry basics, making pastry cream and making the fondant icing, followed by the fun part – icing your masterpieces.
Before each part, our instructor talked us through each and every step, demonstrating what to mix, how to fold, and what to add in when! After watching him once, we headed off to our stations, which conveniently have all ingredients laid out in the exact quantities, so you can’t really mess anything up! (Unless you are me, who accidentally added eggs and poached them on the heater and had to start over again….). Anyways… having all ingredients pre-measured helped us focus on the actual technique of creating our pretty éclairs instead of worrying about getting the measurements exact and fiddling around until they were right.
The class itself is about three hours long, which I found to be perfect as it gives you enough time to observe the instructor at work, and you don’t feel too rushed whilst you are creating each part on your own. The instructor is fabulous as well, coming around to everybody and ensuring nobody is lost! He also helps you out big time with the mixing, which is a bonus if you have no muscles as choux pastry is very thick and difficult to mix.
Once we finished creating our choux pastry, and learned how to pipe the pastry onto the partridge paper, off to the oven they went and within about 10 minutes, they came out beautifully golden brown, ready to be iced with pastry cream and lashes of fondant icing in all my favourite flavours – chocolate, coffee and vanilla – yum. We also had raspberries to include in the middle of our éclairs.
Seeing our pillowy perfect éclairs at the end of the class put a smile on my face and I was so proud after all that hard work, they turned out looking pretty lovely! They tasted fantastic too – I brought some home for Ciaran and they were devoured in a mere matter of moments.
At the end of the class, we treated ourselves with a glass of wine and charcuterie upstairs, which the perfect way to end the class!
I learned so much during the éclair masterclass, including how to make choux pastry, how to make my own fondant, and how to make my own icing as well as how to pipe the choux pastry properly to achieve the perfect shape, how to pipe the fondant and who to glaze each one with icing to make them look stunning. You learn quite a bit in a three hour span of time, which is awesome and it’s just a really fun class to do with a group of girlfriends!
The class costs £80 and you get éclair masterclass instruction, wine and charcuterie afterwards, a limited edition PAUL apron piping materials to take home with you and recipes/insturctions to make your very own delicacies at home! The class is perfect for a fun day out or even as a team building activity. It’s something so unique and fun to do and it gets you out of your comfort zone! If you want to learn something new or brush up on your baking skills, I highly recommend it! You can book the Éclair masterclass online from the 7th November onwards or email: email@example.com!
Thank you so much PAUL for hosting us – I had a blast! 🙂 Now it’s on to conquering my very own éclairs at home… I’ll let you know how I get on! 😉
Have you ever made your own éclairs before?
Happy Halloween! I can’t believe October is already over. This month flew by so quick and it was a super busy one! We visited some awesome restaurants, caught up with good friends and I had two successful launch parties at work. It was pretty non-stop but very fulfilling. I’m hoping that life starts to slow down a bit more in November and I am really looking forward to our trip to New York to visit family for Thanksgiving. I thought I’d share all that I’ve been up to lately with you.
At the beginning of October, we launched Vinoteca City, a fantastic wine bar, restaurant and shop that specialises in amazing off-piste wines from off-the-beaten-track vineyards from around the world and delicious food. It opened in the new Bloomberg Arcade just outside Cannon Street. The restaurant couldn’t be more beautiful, with a gorgeous wrap around bar, a lovely wine shop, perfect for grabbing a cool bottle on the way home from work, and an awesome mezzanine private dining room that plays host to tastings and parties – I know where I want my birthday next year ;). Anyways, the launch party was a great success and we had nearly 200 guests and press attend. The wine was flowing and the bar snacks were delicious. It’s always nice to see a launch party come to fruition after all the hard work. Nobody quite sees all that goes on behind the scenes for large-scale events like this and it feels great to see all the guests happy and having a great time.
For the Vinoteca City soft launch, they were offering 50% off food and I wanted to bring Ciaran along to see it! We headed there on a Sunday for the roast – which is pretty incredible. The beef is cooked to perfection, tender and rare and it comes with all the trimmings – a huge Yorkshire pudding, seasonal veggies and large crispy potatoes. On Sunday evenings, they have live jazz from 6pm onwards – I can’t think of anything cosier as the temps drop than drinking red wine, eating a hearty roast and listening to live jazz. I had some friends around my flat one Friday night for a really chilled out one – which was so needed for us all after a few intense work weeks. We drank quite a few lovely bottles of wine, snacked on charcuterie and cheese and caught up on life. It was really nice to just hangout and catch up.
The next day, my friend Claire and I headed to Mommi for brunch, a Japanese/Peruvian restaurant up the road from my flat in Clapham. The food there is lovely and they have an awesome boozy brunch deal – 3 courses + unlimited bubbles for £32.50 per person! The music is really lively in there and it’s perfect for a big group of friends. Later that night, we met up with our friends Mark & Hollie for dinner at Mac & Wild in the City – which has some of the most delicious venison chateaubriand in the world. It’s hands down, one of my favourite dishes in London, I highly recommend!I have been wanting to do a few more baking/cooking classes post-wedding, as anybody who knows me, knows I am terrible at both! I can bake a few things really well, i.e. pumpkin bread and cookies, but other than that, I’m pretty rubbish. I went to a really fun Eclair Masterclass at PAUL, more to come later this week, but I had a blast. Even though my eclairs didn’t look as pretty as PAUL’s do, it was still really fun to learn how to make my own from scratch!
The second big launch party at work was Cinnamon Kitchen Oxford, Vivek Singh’s first venture outside of London. It truly does take a village, and we put so much effort into ensuring it went off without a hitch and it certainly did! The launch party took place last week, and we had several dons from Oxford University there, along with many of the athletic clubs, local businesses, and all the top Oxford press. The restaurant itself is gorgeous, with marble flooring and walls, gold accents, a beautiful bar area and an awesome rooftop terrace that is secluded with lush botanicals and flowers. It’s going to be fantastic in the summertime out there! The food, as with all of Vivek’s restaurants, is divine. They had a great jazz band playing, champagne flowing and modern-Indian canapés circulating. It was so much fun and it’s always nice to hear so many guests’ wonderful feedback. Two launch parties down, and I couldn’t have been happier. I’m lucky to work on such a great team – we work really hard but have so much fun together too.
It’s safe to say I was pretty exhausted by the end of the month! Last Friday, I came home from work, collapsed on the couch and was asleep by 9pm. I didn’t wake up the next day until about 11am and admittedly did nothing all day but binge watch Stranger Things 2. Sometimes you need to just relax though and have a super lazy day after being on the go for weeks on end.
It was a pretty crazy and hectic October, but a good one at that. I am so looking forward to November and seeing my family in two weeks time for Thanksgiving. We’re headed to NYC on the 17th, followed by a short trip to bask in the sunshine and relax by the ocean in Palm Beach, Florida before heading back to London just before the Christmas madness hits.
How was your October? What did you get up to? I hope you had a fabulous month! x
One of my favourite parts of Fall is pumpkin everything. Pumpkin candles, pumpkin spice lattes (yes, I’m basic), pumpkin picking and pumpkin baked goods! As soon as September rolls around in the US, pumpkin mania sets in and I am so happy that the pumpkin trend has made its way across the pond!
I love really pretty stationary and loved designing our own wedding save-the-dates and invitations, but when it came time to sort out invitations for our Rehearsal Dinner, we didn’t want to fuss with designing them, posting them and paying an arm and a leg for them. We decided send e-invitations to all of our guests, via Paperless Post, and it was a great decision as they turned out beautiful, it was the most cost effective option and it was super simple to do!
This past weekend was great. It was pretty non-stop but I got to catch up with so many friends and it felt good to reconnect after not seeing some of them for so long! My weekends, admittedly, usually aren’t this eventful and I am oftentimes so tired by the time Saturday rolls around that I love nothing more than a relaxing day at home but this weekend was different and although I am pretty flat out writing this, I am so glad that I took advantage of my time off and spent time with friends.
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than ‘Netflix & Chill’ and by chill, I mean literally lazing on the couch and binge watching a really good show. The last month of work has been really stressful with a lot of long and intense hours. Sometimes, there is nothing more I look forward to than pouring a glass of wine, curling up on the couch and decompressing with a new show. There are some really good shows on Netflix that Ciaran and I have been watching lately so I thought I’d share a few of my favourites as of lately with you guys…