February 2015 – Time For A Refresh with Fashion and Food

Here we are in February. Are you feeling a little deflated because you didn’t achieve enough in January or your resolutions were not so resolute?

I think it’s time to get out and get inspired. Whether you love art and fashion, whether you’ve never been to an exhibit before or you’re an avid member; there is a lot to see. I’ve selected some great art and fashion exhibitions it will be worth seeing in February and some food ideas too (because seeing exhibitions makes me hungry!).


If you’re in NYC go to The Brooklyn Museum for the Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe (September 10, 2014–February 15, 2015). Why not make a day of it and have brunch, see some other sites and then have a delicious dinner (a great day out on Sat 14th Feb!). I fancy trying Piquant for brunch and then take a 20 minute stroll to the Brooklyn Museum.

You could then pay a visit to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens or Prospect Park Zoo. Once you have built up an appetite I would then take a walk back up through the park to Franny’s. Enjoy a relaxing lunch or dinner of seasonal Italian food in Franny’s no frills paired back space.


If you fancy going to the Rubens and Legacy: Van Dyck to Cezanne at the Royal Academy (24th January – 10th April 2015) you will need to buy a ticket. Once I’ve been to see an exhibition at the Royal Academy I like to head out onto Piccadilly. Depending on what I fancy I’ll either go to Waterstones (On Piccadilly) where they have an excellent cafe on the top floor,

for an afternoon tea I like Fortnum and Masons or for a high end dinner with friends I’ll book a table at a Hotel Cafe Royal.

If you want to take the kids to a free exhibition try the Grayson Perry: Who are you? at the National Portrait Gallery (25th October 2014-15th March 2015). You search out the Grayson Perry pieces that are dotted around and look at the other great portraits in between. I like the sound of the National Portrait ‘Portrait’ restaurant on the third floor. But if you are looking for something a little bit more low key with the kids I’d take a walk over to the Jamies Italian at Piccadilly Circus.

Or maybe head to an exhibition in Paris:
Enlightenment: Carte Blanche of Christian Lacroix – Le Musee Cognacq-Jay (till 19th April 2015) Museum of the Eighteenth Century


NYC Here I Am!

I’ve been in the USA for 5 days and so far I’ve been very busy. As soon as I arrived I got changed and we headed to an American football game (Jets vs Bears) for some serious tailgating!!

The guys cooked so much delicious food and there were a lot of drinks!! Jet lag and alcohol kicked in and I got very tired during the game.

Yesterday we headed to the west side meatpacking district to the High Line. If you are visiting NYC The High Line is definitely worth a visit. It is a disused railway turned into a long garden. It swirls above ground between buildings. Yesterday the weather was hot hot hot, perfect weather for walking on the High Line. There are benches to relax on and places to stop and eat and drink.
Good views on the High Linekerry on highline

I think I would have preferred it if it was less busy, obviously still tourist season right now, with coaches of people pulling up on one end. Maybe in a month when it’s turned more autumnal it will be quieter.
walk the line in NYC

After the long walk along the The High Line we headed to the Upper East side and had lunch at the East Pole. With no sign and quietly tucked away – it is a hidden delicious spot. The combinations of fresh in-season produce are creative. The menu is easy to interpret as they seem to be a mix of well known dishes with a twist. For example: we had a side dish of chips to share, but not just your basic chips. These chips had truffle oil and Parmesan cheese on them… mmmm delicious.

It would be a good spot to have lunch if you’ve been enjoying a visit to the Met museum or one of the many others around there.

East Pole NYC restaurant

Do you fancy 5 meals a day?

I’ve been thinking that I need to make a change to my diet, add a bit more energy to my step!  I’ve been looking into what I can add or change in my food to improve my energy and mood! Perhaps you could do with a bit of a mood or energy pick me up too, especially when you have a busy work and personal schedule!

A key change might be to have 5 small healthy meals a day. (some more info on this that might explain the concept!) – Please note that I think this may take some organisation and I think I’m going to try allocating my Sunday afternoons for weekly food prep!

Mood and Energy Ingredients and recipes to try:

  • A sugar-free museli will keep your blood sugar levels even – stop mood swings.
  • Walnuts are great for energising iron and mood stabilising zinc.
Suggested meal no.1: For breakfast try a sugar-free museli and add your own fresh fruit, nuts and yogurt. This one on Pinterest looks good.
Museli, fruit and yoghurt

  • Nuts are rich in omega-3 fats.These help restore the structure of cells in our brains so they communicate better. Boosts mood and memory.
  • Great quality dark chocolate (70% + cocoa content) in moderation has some great health benefits – such as improving blood flow to the brain and possibly improve brain function. For more great chocolate benefits head here. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium. This calms muscles and reduces anxiety. Also rich in antioxidants which regulate the neurotransmitters associated with mood function – keeping them stable!

Suggested meal no.2: Snack time for me. A little tub of my favorite mixed nuts like almonds, waltnuts and some broken up dark chocolate make a great pick me up between meals.

  • Tomatoes and avocados are rich in B vitamins. Lack of Vitamin B can lead to irritability.6d12a2a00de82307813ca85ea25c08dc
  • Soy Beans (Edamame) have very high tryptophan. Trytophan is converted to serotonin in the body. This is the hormone that makes you feel happy!

Suggested meal no.3: Have a lunchtime salad and not just a boring salad of a load of old leaves! Salads in my book need to be fresh, tasty and filling. This salad from SkinnyTaste that I found via Pinterest looks amazing: Spiralized Raw Zucchini Salad with Avocado and Edamame | Skinnytaste. Last year we had a glut of courgettes/Zucchinis from the allotment and discovered how amazing they are raw very thinly sliced in a salad using a vegetable peeler. I think this is the recipe I used!



  • Lemon juice on top of carbohydrate based foods can lower their GI. This could reduce any blood sugar swings. “Fat and acid foods (like vinegar, lemon juice or acidic fruit) slow the rate at which the stomach empties and slow the rate of digestion, resulting in a lower GI.” (full info here)

Suggested meal no.4: Small potato salad with a lemon vinaigrette with a small portion of grilled chicken on the side (with a nice sauce). Or maybe try something smaller: pop the dressed chicken in a brown pita bread.

Or perhaps an afternoon snack like a piece of fruit can beat those afternoon sweet cravings! (A twist of lemon in a glass of water can help beat cravings.)

  •  Choose slow-releasing carbs such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and oats- encourage a gradual release of sugar into the blood. This will stabilise your moods.
  • Spinach and Kale contain great vitamins which are great for stabilising the brain.
Suggested meal no.5: Try and combine slow-release carbs where ever you can. This salmon and oatmeal burger looks good and is a different twist to the normal fish dish. Serve with a peppery salad of mixed leaves like rocket, baby spinach leaves and watercress and dress with a squeeze of lemon.
Salmon with oat crust

  • Try not to have too much coffee. Studies show more than 700mg of caffeine (about 5 cups of coffee) is associated with depression and mood swings.

Suggested drink no.1: Whilst working at your office desk it can be easy to get sucked into the cycle of teas and coffees. Next time reach for a green tea. Green tea made with steamed leaves has an amazing array of beneficial properties including “prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain”.

Suggested drink no.2: Warm water with lemon juice in it has many benefits include producing digestive juices! Read more about it here.

 Suggested drink no.3: Have a cup of Chamomile tea before bed. This can help with mild depression, relieve anxiety and sooth you to sleep.

Your secret baking desires could become reality!

My attempt at Macarons!

If you like me LOVED the Great British Bake off or find yourself a little bit addicted to the cooking programmes on tv perhaps it is time your tried your hand at cooking something more adventurous?

My tasty but not perfect Macarons!

One day I decided that I really wanted to perfect making macarons. They are not the hardest thing you’ll ever make but it seemed to be getting the stars to aline regarding the oven time, temperature and height in the oven plus what I actually put them on. I think a lesson might have helped!

Macaroon 4
Eating yummy Laudree Macarons

I am still to get them to look like those at Laudree but they were still delicious!

I’m always looking to develop new skills and try new things. For Christmas I was given an ice-cream maker and I’ve been making some delicious Italian Gelatos and Sorbettos (they disappear so fast there is no time for pictures!). Following on from my self improvement blog post on makeup classes, I decided to take a look and see what courses there are in London to help us become great cooks or bakers.

If you are looking to learn some new cooking skills then take a look at Atelier des Chefs – they offer a wide range of length lessons in a wide range such as French to Thai or desserts to burgers.

You could even book a corporate event there or perhaps a work do that could be a great team building exercise. Conveniently located at St Pauls and Oxford Circus.

Another place to take a look at that does a full range of classes is Cookery School at Little Portland Street. Their courses cover a full range of topics and you can do a single class to a series of classes. A single class could be a great taster or brilliant if you are so busy with work and home life that you cannot commit to a series of classes.

Perhaps you want to focus on baking. Bake With Maria is a baking school that aims to teach you how to create amazing baked goods that you can replicate at home – so, no fancy equipment you might not already own. They’re located in St Johns Wood. You can have a private party and/or do a class in bread, cake or pastries!

If you fancy learning how to decorate cakes then Cookie Girl based in North West London is available to teach you just that. Perhaps you want to make some amazing cupcakes for your little girls birthday with very personalised decoration – this could be just the class for you. They do classes, hen parties and team building so take your pick!

Fancy trying out making some delicious Sour Dough or other lovely Artisan Bread you’ve been trying at the bakers? Try out CoCoa and Heart’s introduction to Artisan Bread Making. Located in South East London/Kent borders you’ll be taught by a home baker (with over 16 years experience) – so no scary chef! You could learn a range of bread making techniques, make some chocolates or cakes.

If you want to take this to a whole new level then why not book a holiday where you will learn to make something new. Why not make sorbetto or gelato in Italy? Go to Sorrento for  five days and learn a new skill. At Go Learn To  they have many other holidays with different learning experiences.

All this food talk is making me hungry!

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