It’s true when they say your wedding day is the best day of your life. In our case, it was the best week of our lives. All of our friends and family from around the world came to England to help us celebrate and it was the most special experience we could have had.
When it came to inspiration for our wedding invitations and save the dates, I looked to Pinterest, wedding magazines and wedding blogs. I wanted something a bit more unique and we knew the only way to get what we really wanted, was to design everything ourselves and I am so pleased that we did in the end.
I hope everyone had a very hoppy Easter yesterday! I have never done a style post on here and I wouldn’t consider myself to be a fashionista in the least, but I wanted to share this beautiful yellow bell sleeve top from Zara that I bought the other day. I wore it for our little Easter outing yesterday and received a lot of really sweet compliments on it. Yellow is such a happy colour and when I saw this top in the shop, I knew I had to bring it home with me.
The top is a lovely canary yellow and it’s cotton so it’s super light weight. I also couldn’t resist the darling bell sleeves. I paired it with a casual pair of white jeans, also from Zara, a pair of neutral sandals and my navy scallop Cambridge Satchel Co purse. You could easily dress it up though with a skirt, a pair of wedges and some drop earrings for more of an eventful look. For £30 you can’t beat it.
In other news, we kicked off Easter yesterday with a trip to the Tate Britain to see the Hockney exhibit, which is absolutely brilliant. If you haven’t been yet, I would highly recommend paying a visit before the exhibition is over at the end of May. I love Hockney’s vivid colours and it’s really interesting to see how his artwork has evolved from the 1950s to now. You can pick up your tickets in advance here.
Shop some of my other yellow favourites:
Our wedding is only 6 months away and I can’t wait for the special day to come. We started planning our wedding around Easter time last year and there have definitely been ups and downs. I wish I could say that I have absolutely loved the whole wedding planning process but truth be told, I never realised how much work goes in to planning a wedding and stressful it can be. Planning a wedding on top of having a full time job is very demanding, but I keep telling myself it’ll all be worth it in the end. A lot of my newly engaged friends have asked if I have any tips or advice to give them about planning a wedding and while I consider myself to be no expert, I have learned a thing or two throughout this crazy process.
WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING
Shopping for my wedding dress has been the absolute best part of planning my wedding. When I said yes to the dress, I was with my mom and it was one of the most special memories I’ll hold near and dear to my heart forever. We had gone shopping at a few different stores back in Kansas and the first time, I was with my best friend and my mom. I tried LOADS of dresses on, I highly recommend it. Even if you think you know what style you want, you may be taken by surprise. Bring a bottle of bubbly and just relax and enjoy the day. It is a day that is all about YOU and how beautiful you look.
The second time we went shopping, I was just with my mom and we walked into this little bridal shop and from the moment I walked in, I felt like I was in a winter wonderland of bridesmaids dresses. I tried on a few more dresses and my consultant had suggested I try on a dress we had actually thought would look amazing on my older sister. I reluctantly tried it on and ended up falling in love with it. It is classic, timeless and beautiful and from the moment I put it on, I knew it was the one.
My best advice is to relish the days you go wedding dress shopping and surround yourself with supportive people – whether it be your bridesmaids, best friends, your sisters, relatives or just your mum. Try on all different styles – you never know what will look good – you could be taken by surprise like I was. Soak it all in – if you are unsure about a dress or don’t feel that it’s right, just say no and keep on looking. Don’t get discouraged, you will find your perfect dress, it’s inevitable.
BRIDESMAIDS DRESS SHOPPING
I am going to preface this by saying to get a thick skin when it comes to shopping for bridesmaids dresses. If you have a lot of bridesmaids in your wedding, lay down the law from the get-go that your bridesmaids are going to wear what you want them to wear, even if that is a paper sack. Girls can be very opinionated and it will be very hard to please everyone, but at the end of the day, the only person’s opinion that matters is yours.
I am a total people pleaser, I hate letting people down, even if it costs me my own happiness. The time will come where you need to narrow down the dresses and make a decision based on what looks good on everybody. The one you choose will never be everyone’s cup of tea, but as long as you are happy with the decision and how they look, that’s all that matters. Your bridesmaids are there to make your life easier and if this is an aspect that is stressing you out, don’t be afraid to have a kind word about it with them.
Another tip for bridesmaids dresses – decide on a budget ahead of time. Make sure that if you are paying for all of your bridesmaids dresses, you have a budget that you can manage. If your bridesmaids are buying the dresses, make sure that they can afford them. Give yourself plenty of time to go shopping and look at different options. If you opt for custom-made gowns, order them 6-8 months in advance to give yourself time for alterations.
OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS
Planning a wedding comes with a lot of politics – who to invite, who not to invite, who’s paying for the wedding, should kids come to the wedding, what should the colour scheme be, and so forth. It can get very overwhelming and it can be really hard, again, to let people down. Sometimes you will feel the need to say yes, even though in your head you are saying NO. Everybody is going to have an opinion, but at the end of the day, what you need to remember is that it is YOUR wedding, not anybody else’s. Do what makes you happy – if you want a lime green colour scheme (of which I am not condoning) go for it. Hopefully you’ll only have one wedding, so make it count and don’t worry too much about what everybody else thinks.
DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE
Don’t be afraid to delegate jobs to family members and friends. Ciaran and I both have full time jobs and it takes a lot of discipline to come home every night and work on wedding stuff. Both of our families have been a huge help to us and for that, I am forever grateful because it really is too much for two people to plan and do everything. I have found that a lot of time, family and friends do really like to get involved, so go ahead and give jobs to them – whether that is booking out a block of hotel rooms for some of your guests, arranging a meeting with the florist, ordering decorations or just being on hand to help as and when help is needed. It’s good to feel supported throughout the wedding planning process – it makes a world of difference.
I never used to understand why brides would turn into Bridezillas, but there are admittedly certain points where I actually understand now. Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful jobs – from the logistics, the budget, the invitations, the band, flowers, seating arrangements, etc. All of these thoughts and to-do’s will swirl around in your head until the minute you say ‘I do’ and that alone is enough to make anybody go a bit mad. Take it from someone who gets overwhelmed very easily, when you are feeling stressed out, stop planning. Your wedding won’t be destroyed because you took a night off from planning to go out with your friends or went away for the weekend with your fiancé because you needed a break from it all. Don’t let it overcome your life – it’s not worth it. Keep a sense of humour about it all – and stay positive. Your day is going to be fantastic – you’ve put too much work into it not to be. Take a step back and just breathe. When all else fails, just think of how great it’ll feel when you’re on your honeymoon, kicking back and relaxing because you won’t have any more planning to do – now that’s the thought of pure bliss! 6 months and counting…
I love the festive season, which for me starts right after Halloween as Thanksgiving is a few weeks later followed by Christmas just a month after. For Thanksgiving this year, we celebrated it for the first time in London and had some family come around. We typically always have appetisers and nibbles throughout the day and this year I decided to put out a lovely holiday cheeseboard paired with my favourite wines from Marks & Spencer, because no cheeseboard is as good without the wine!
A few months ago, I was invited by M&S to go on a food and wine pairing course and had the wonderful opportunity to try a variety of incredible wines from their Wines of the World Range, which showcases a huge range of international wines from the world’s top wine producing countries – England, France, Spain, Argentina and South Africa. All of the wines in the range are outstanding and pair very well with a variety of different foods and they’re super affordable.
When you host a party, I am a firm believer that you always need a great red and white along with a champagne or prosecco. My two favourite wines from the M&S Wines of the World Range is this Domino del Plata Terrior Malbec Cabernet Franc from Argentina. It’s medium-bodied and has flavours of ripe berries and toasted spices and pairs wonderfully with mature cheeses and roasts and steaks. It’s also a great red for those who are still acquiring a taste for it, as it’s not too heavy. My choice of white for the evening was this Viré Clessé Florent Rouve 2014. This delicious oaky chardonnay from France was buttery and full of flavour. It tastes great with salty cheeses, turkey, chicken and is a superb wine to sip on throughout the evening as it’s not too heavy. My choice of bubbles, which is not pictured here, is the Ridgeview Marksman Sparkling Wine from England. I have really grown to love English sparkling wine since I moved here and this one in particular has undertones of brioche flavour that pairs exceptionally well with light seafood starters and is also a wonderful aperitif to kick the holiday festivities off!
I have definitely had my fair share of lame cheeseboards. I am American, but American Cheese should never make its way on to an elegant cheeseboard. A fantastic cheeseboard includes a variety of breads, biscuits, fruit, nuts, charcuterie and chutney – something for everyone! In terms of the cheeses itself. I would go for sharp, smoked, funky, sweet, soft, hard, fresh or aged cheeses. Also, I will say that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on creating a beautiful cheeseboard – there’s cheeses out there for every budget.
For our funky cheese, we went for this festive Wensleydale with Cranberry, orange and cointreau – it’s a sweet and fruity cheese that pairs really well with the English sparkling wine alongside grapes and biscuits.
This delicious Yorkshire Blue cheese is soft and creamy, made with milk from Yorkshire cows. I loved this cheese with fresh bread and it goes fantastic with a sweet Riesling or the English sparkling wine.
I love Goats Cheese – it’s my favourite of all cheeses and pairs the best with one of my favourite wines – Chardonnay. We bought this Kidderton Ash goats cheese from M&S and it tasted great with the French Florent Rouve Viré Clessé.
This Special Reserve Gruyre from M&S is the cheese of dreams – it’s nutty cheese tastes delicious with a medium bodied wine that’s not overly intense like the Domino del Plata Terrior Malbec Cabernet Franc. It doesn’t overpower the flavours of the Gruyre.
My final cheese was this indulgent, melting French Camembert from M&S. The most luxurious and delicious of all cheeses that again, goes superb with any sparkling wine, chardonnay or even the Malbec. Be careful, as it can clash with super heavy wines, so my suggestion would be to pair it with lighter bodied wines.
Make sure you take your cheese out of the fridge about an hour before serving, as cheese is best served at room temperature. When you assemble your cheeseboard, it’s good to separate the funky cheeses from the others so they don’t come in contact with each other. I also like to put little cheese knives for each and place different biscuits, nuts and fruit in between.
Now that you’ve got your wine and cheese pairings down – let’s have a think about all the other festive things you need to make this a fantastic cheeseboard.
Fresh fruit, honey, olives and nuts are my usual choices. I love the sweet and salty combination and think it is very fit for the holidays!
Honey goes fantastic with brie and goats cheese, as does, olives, chutney (for Thanksgiving, I bought the Damson Port Chutney from M&S), fresh grapes, biscuits, and parmesan breadsticks.
I also love charcuterie with mine – we are huge fans of the truffle Salami from M&S!
Other fruits that go great with a cheeseboard are clementines, figs, oranges, berries and apples. Some dried fruits also work particuarly well such as apricots, dried cranberries and dates.
Any type of fruit jam will work great with these cheeses! You can either go with the honey or the jam, but I like to add both because… well… go big or go home, right?
No matter what type of cheeseboard you plan to create this holiday season, make it sparkle with Marks & Spencers.
Thank you Marks & Spencer for sponsoring this post.
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I’ve expressed my love for halloumi on here before – I love it. It’s one of my favourite cheeses and super versatile. Truth be told, I am not a fan of cooking. I love food, but I loathe coming home from work and figuring out what to cook (thank god for Ciaran). In comes halloumi – It is so easy to throw on the grill and in a mere matter of minutes it’s cooked. One of my favourite ways to use this delicious salty cheese is in a salad and this roasted pepper salad is the most simple thing to make, perfect if you’re like me and aren’t a fan of cooking.
- 1 block of halloumi (any brand you like)
- 1 pack of rocket
- 3 peppers – red, orange and yellow (we use the Sainsbury’s basic pack)
- Pine Nuts
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Nice bottle of balsamic
- Heat up a non-stick pan on high with a bit of olive oil
- Heat up a small sauce pan on medium
- While the pans are heating up, cut the halloumi into thin slices (it cooks better and quicker when sliced thin)
- Chop the peppers into small chunks
- Prepare two bowls with equal amounts of rocket
- Once the non-stick pan is heated up, throw on the peppers first and season with salt and pepper, let them simmer for 3-4 minutes
- Throw on the halloumi at the same time and season with paprika
- Toss the pine nuts into the small sauce pan and allow to toast for 10 minutes
- Continue to turn the peppers until they are nicely charred on the outside
- Once the halloumi is golden brown on one side, flip all pieces over and leave to cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden
- Once fully cooked, remove the peppers and halloumi from the pan
- Toss the peppers in a bit of balsamic and place evenly into the bowls on top of the rocket
- Dice up the cooked halloumi and evenly place into the bowls
- Remove the sauce pan from heat and toss the toasted pine nuts on top
- Serve whilst the halloumi is still hot – pairs great with a glass of Sauvignon blanc
And voila – in 20 minutes you have a super healthy, delicious and hearty dinner!
It’s no secret that one of my favourite types of food is BBQ and it’s one of the things I miss most about Kansas City. There’s something about the taste of authentic KC-style sauce that is really comforting and makes me feel a little less home sick from time to time. So, over the past few months I’ve endeavoured to seek out some quality BBQ sauces from my hometown from various places in London. I’m planning to add to this post as I discover and collect new bottles, but wanted to share it for anybody from Kansas living in London or for those who just love great BBQ!
Prairie Fire BBQ was started by Michael Gratz, a native Kansas Citian who moved to London in 2013. While he loved the burgeoning food scene in London, he missed KC’s authentic BBQ (how could you not?). He started making batches of his own sauce for family and friends and eventually started selling it at various markets in London. Thank god for all of us because this sauce is awesome. Gratz modelled his sauces from some of the best BBQ joints in KC including Joe’s KC, Jack Stack and Gates.
I have known about Prairie Fire for quite some time now, but could never track it down! I was walking by The Hampstead Butcher in West Hampstead and saw it in the window one day and rushed in to buy both the original and spicy! These sauces aren’t exactly cheap – never in my life did I think I would be paying nearly $10 (£6.50) for a bottle of BBQ sauce, but it’s so worth it.
Other places you can buy Prairie Fire include: Wyndham House, Parsons Nose, HG Walters, Jack O’Shea’s Moen Brothers, Provenance Village, Brompton Food Market, Dugard Daughters, Kent & Sons and Allen’s of Mayfair.
I love the original sauce – it’s got a hint of spice and tastes delicious on just about anything. BBQ grilled chicken is my ultimate favourite though to make with this sauce.
We were in M&S a few weeks ago browsing the American section and came across this Stockyard BBQ sauce. Stockyard BBQ isn’t an establishment in Kansas City, but is sold at the Original Juan grocery store on Southwest Boulevard in KCK and for some odd reason has found its way on to the shelves of M&S in London. Hey, no complaints from me though because this is another fantastic sauce. It’s sweet, spicy and smoky, and exemplifies the taste that authentic KC sauce is known for. It’s super versatile and goes with just about about anything – marinades, dipping sauces, you name it.
We are going to the newly opened Bodean’s in Covent Garden over Bank Holiday weekend and planning to pick up some of their Kansas City-inspired sauce to bring home with us to add to our collection.
If anyone out there has any suggestions for where to find authentic KC BBQ sauce in London, I’d love to hear them!
Thanks for reading x
Ciaran and I just moved into our new flat and we’ve been busy furnishing it and decorating. IKEA has been our go-to for a lot of our furniture and to be honest, we’ve found some really great pieces there. The last time we went there, we picked up the Vittsjo Nesting Coffee Tables for the bargain price of £45! I really love the look of a gold and marble coffee table and I had found a lot of IKEA Hacks about how to achieve this expensive look on a budget. So while this DIY IKEA Hack has been done and written about previously, I thought I would still share it with all of you!
What You Need
Just a warning, give yourself an entire day to dedicate to this project. We didn’t think it would take as long as it did, but truth be told it takes a lot longer than we anticipated!
The pieces of the coffee table come disassembled. Take them out of the box and use the cardboard to lay them on. We used Ciaran’s parents garden for the project. Make sure it’s not too windy or raining out when you spray paint.
We started spraying each piece of metal as evenly as possible with the gold spray paint. You can use any colour you like. B&Q has a good selection of spray paints. Once each piece takes about a half hour to dry. Once they are dry enough, go back over with a second coat of spray paint to make sure you go over any spots you missed. Leave each piece to leave over night (trust me). We made the mistake of bubble wrapping each piece way too early and regretted it hours later when we had to go back and re-spray paint a few of the pieces.
While the pieces are drying, move on to putting the marble contact paper on the wooden board that will go on the bottom of the coffee table. This is definitely a two person job, and I would recommend buying 2 roles of contact paper just incase. Start at the corners of the board and slowly work your way up, smoothing out any air bubbles with a towel or wallpaper leveller (a credit card would even work for this).
Cut any excess off with an Xacto knife. We decided to fold the contact paper over the edge of the wooden board.
Voila! You will end up with a lovely piece of faux marble! The marble effect is a bit too dark for my liking and I’ve found lighter options from Ebay, but for now, it’ll do!
We let all of the pieces dry over night at Ciaran’s family’s house and packed it up to bring to the flat the next day…
We put all of the pieces together in our lounge, which was really easy.
The final product! I love the look of the nesting table, but Ciaran isn’t as big of a fan, so we are currently using the smaller table as a side table. I’ve also seen that people have jazzed theirs up a bit more with handles that can also be bought from IKEA.
I am now on the quest to decorate our lovely little coffee table. Any suggestions for coffee table books or tips to decorate, let me know!
What IKEA hacks have you done? I’d love to know! If you are keen to DIY your own table – here’s a bit of inspo!
Thanks for reading x
Scallops have always been a favourite of mine, especially combined with chorizo or pancetta (because any variation of bacon makes everything better). For those who want an easy, quick and delicious dinner to cook up after work or the perfect starter when hosting a dinner party, this one is a winner…
Ingredients (serves 4 for a starter or 2 for a main):
1 bunch of spring onions
2 large red chilis
2 cups Scallops
1.5 cups of diced chorizo
Honey to drizzle
Salt & pepper to taste
Any type of bread (we recommend olive ciabatta or focaccia)
Pour a tiny bit of olive oil in a pan and let the pan get searing hot.
Chop the spring onions and the chilis finely.
Once the pan is hot enough, pour the mixture in and leave to simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
After the spring onions and chilis have finished cooking, pour into a bowl and set aside.
Pour the chorizo into the same pan and let it simmer. The rendering from the chilis, spring onion and chorizo will help flavour the scallops.
After about five minutes, toss the scallops in with the chorizo and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until the scallops are entirely seared. This takes no longer than 5-7 minutes at the very most.
*Important tip: You do not want to overcook or undercook the scallops. The way to tell if a scallop is overcooked is if it tastes too rubbery. The way to tell if a scallop is undercooked is if it is cold in the middle.
The scallops should have a nice light brown sear on the outside, indicating they are well-cooked throughout.
I would recommend testing one out to be sure they are completely cooked.
Turn the heat down, and pour the scallops and chorizo in a separate bowl.
Slice up the bread on a cutting board and serve in the centre of the table to accompany your dish.
Pull out some your plates or for a party – find some beautiful half shells to present the dish on.
Place the spring onion and chili mixture onto the plate or shell, followed by the scallops and chorizo on top. Drizzle with honey, salt and pepper, and voila!