Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer-RING in London

& Other Stories Gemstone Ring
Because it's just not summer without an epic statement ring… I've got my eye on this one from & Other Stories and if I get my hands on it, I might just wear it straight through the Autumn.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Homemade Refried Beans


I love Mexican food and I also love making it at home. That said, I would classify what I make at home as Mexican-inspired as I'm well aware that what I do isn't authentic in the least… It still tastes great though and that's what matters, isn't it? Anyway, I've recently started making my own refried beans and I have to say, it makes all the difference. This isn't your typical sludgy, muddy goo that you get in cans at the store. This dish actually tastes like beans and it's great for having in the fridge. I use this on tacos, fajitas, bean burritos, dips and other dishes that are perfect for lunch or dinner. It's convenient to make this as a compliment to a dish on a Sunday and then enjoy the leftovers through the week.

Don't be scared off by this dish. It's not at all hard. While it does look time-consuming, it's mostly just being home for the time as the beans simmer, but doing it this way eliminates having to soak them overnight. For me, this is helpful because I never remember the night before.

I would suggest that you feel free to experiment with flavors in your beans. You can take out the garlic or add more, use lemon, add chili flakes or whatever sounds good to you, but this is how I make mine. Finally, I haven't tried freezing these, but I'm sure you could if you wanted. It would be nice to have some homemade refried beans in the freezer available for random taco nights.


Ingredients
500g dried pinto beans
2 litres of water
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method
1. Rinse the beans in cold water using a colander and put into a large, round, flame-proof casserole. Pour 1 liter of water over the beans.

2. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Remove the casserole from the heat and keep covered. Let it stand for at least 60 minutes and then drain and rinse the beans.

4. Return the beans to the same casserole and add the remaining 1 liter of water. Simmer over low heat, covered for 3 hours or until the beans are very soft. Check on them throughout the three hours and if needed, add more water so that they don't get dry and burn.

5. After the three hours when the beans are very soft, drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.

6. Using the same casserole, heat the olive oil and stir in the minced garlic. Cook for about 1 minute or until soft, but don't let it burn.

7. Add the beans and mash them with a hand-held potato masher. Stir in about 100ml of the cooking liquid. The beans mixture should be like a paste. If necessary, stir in more water a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

8. Continue to cook uncovered on low heat for about 10 more minutes until very thick.

9. Season with salt & pepper to taste. If desired, serve with lime wedges or sprinkle a bit of lime juice across the top.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pink Julep Weekender - May 22, 2015


The bank holiday weekend is here! I hope you have lots of fun, exciting things planned, but just in case here are some ideas to keep you occupied if you don't…

  1. Watch: I recently started watching The Returned on Netflix and now I'm hooked. It's a little bit spooky, but not too much and kind of a thriller. It's completely addictive. 
  2. Listen: Sound & Color is the new album by one of my favorite bands Alabama Shakes and while it's a lot different from the sound of their first album, it's got me hooked all the same. Definitely worth checking out. Click here to listen to Sound & Color on Spotify.
  3. Do: It's Memorial Day weekend in the US which means lots of sales! Why not treat yourself to a little online shopping? I'd suggest starting with the Baublebar sale for stocking up on some fab accessories for the summer!
  4. Do: Take advantage of the extra time off by starting up a batch of Limoncello that you can enjoy throughout the summer. It's the perfect little after-dinner treat and super easy to make. Click here for my recipe.
  5. Read: I've been reading Always Pack a Party Dress by Amanda Brooks this week. I'm not finished yet, so you can expect a full review later, but I'm enjoying it so far. You may recall her previous book I Love Your Style which is one of my all-time favorites. If you've got some downtime, you might enjoy this book which includes lots of stories about Amanda's life in the fashion industry, growing up in Palm Beach and more. 

Images via: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Candle Crush - H&M Home 3-Pack Candles

H&M 3-Pack Candles
I may be a bit late to the game, but I've recently discovered the wonderful H&M Home department and I'm a little obsessed. I mean, with such great prices, it's kind of hard not to be… I often visit the H&M on Oxford Street, head straight to the home department, spend on £20 and walk out with a bag full of cute, on-trend home goodies… What's not to love?
H&M 3-Pack Candles
I picked up these candles recently and I knew exactly what I wanted them for… Because they're unscented, these are the perfect candles for a dinner table because there's no scent to interfere with the food. I Already have plenty of navy & white table linens, so I knew I'd get some great use out of these candles. I'm hoping I can keep the little jars and throw in tea lights when the candles burn out because the patterns are so pretty. I've also got my eye on these and these… As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too many candles around for dinner parties, relaxing evenings or even to give as gifts when you don't have time to shop.

Do you have a favorite candle for using at the dinner table?

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes



I'm not a pancake person at all, but even I can't resist blueberry pancakes… They're just better than plain old normal ones. I really love this recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes because they're super fluffy and a bit lighter than typical pancakes. They're delicious served with butter and maple syrup with some bacon on the side. It's the ultimate salty/sweet combination and a great breakfast or brunch for the weekends!


These pancakes aren't at all difficult to make, nor do they take very long. I like making these in the morning, coffee in hand while my husband and I listen to music and he reads me the headlines from the paper. It's a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning or afternoon, depending on how late I've slept…


Ingredients
1 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
350ml buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
200g fresh blueberries
Butter & maple syrup for serving
More butter for frying


Method
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together with a wire whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside.

2. In a measuring cup, measure the buttermilk. Add the egg and vegetable oil and stir together with a small whisk or fork until combined.

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture all at once and stir with a rubber spatula until just moistened and slightly lumpy. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Over medium or medium-low heat, melt a knob of butter. Using a ladle, pour in the batter. One ladleful is one pancake. Spread the batter out if you need to.

5. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, turning over only when the edges get dry and the batter bubbles in the center of the pancake.

6. Serve the pancakes warm with butter and maple syrup. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies


Peanut butter cookies are my favorite! My mom always made these when we were growing up and at Christmas, as a special treat, she'd make them with a Hershey's Kiss on top. Anyway, I never go to a cookie shop without asking for peanut butter cookies, but there's nothing like homemade. With this particular recipe, it makes so much more than I need, so I like to bake about half of them to keep around and freeze the other half of the dough.

To freeze the dough, I lay down a large piece of cling film, dump the dough on top and use the film to manipulate the dough into a long log. Patience is needed here because it takes a few minutes. Once I have it in the shape I want, I wrap the log in baking parchment or greaseproof paper and freeze it over night. The next day I take it out of the paper and wrap the dough log tightly in cling film and put it back in the freezer. Whenever I fancy a few cookies, I just slice off a few 1 inch pieces and bake them at 180°C for 7 to 9 minutes. They aren't as pretty when they've been frozen, but they taste amazing and this way, you can bake only a couple at a time instead of having 30 cookies lying around.

TIP: To keep your cookies chewy and soft, store them in an airtight container with a slice of store-bought white sandwich bread. The bread will get hard and the cookies will stay chewy and soft.


Ingredients
1 cup smooth peanut butter (or use a whole 340g jar)
250g butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar plus more for coating
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups plain flour


Method
1. Beat the butter and peanut butter together with an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl for about 30 seconds or until smooth and combined.

2. Add both sugars, baking soda and baking powder, beating until combined. If necessary, use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides.

3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.

4. Beat in as much of the flour as possible. When it gets too sticky, stir in any remaining flour.

5. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or until cool enough that it's easy to handle.

6. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

7. Using your hands, shape the dough into small balls just smaller than a golf ball. Roll the balls in additional granulated sugar to coat and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

8. Flatten each cookie with a fork in a criss-cross fashion to create a lattice pattern and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are a light golden brown.

9. Leave the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for at least one minute before transferring to a wire rack or cool plate to cool further. Alternatively, eat them warm. 

Sweet Corn Risotto


I love a one dish meal and when you're after something completely decadent, you can't beat a risotto. I also happen to really love corn. Corn and risotto are two things that are great on their own, but in my opinion they're even better together. As far as the one dish meal thing is concerned, I just think there's something comforting about eating a dish that you can just scoop up with a fork or spoon and enjoy… Kind of like grown-up macaroni and cheese I guess. 


If you're busy (and of course you are - who isn't?), then I think that you'll appreciate the ease of this recipe. It takes a bit of stirring and attention, however this can be made with things that you can keep on hand at all times, so there's no need to make a late night trip to the grocery store. Don't be intimidated by timing - you can probably do this from start to finish in about 1/2 hour or less. Personally, I rely on recipes like this for nights when I get home early enough for dinner, but too late for shopping or the day I fly home from a trip, but can't be bothered to go to the store. I can just whip this up anytime and it's deliciously satisfying.

For flavor, I prefer this dish with chicken stock, but if you're cooking for any vegetarian eaters, vegetable stock works perfectly fine too. Also, don't get too hung up on the size of the can of corn you use. This works with more or less corn - it's really up to your personal preference. If you're making this on the fly and don't have a banana shallot or garlic handy, feel free to skip one or both, but if you can manage, they add the perfect amount of flavor. That said, you could substitute a regular shallot, an onion, spring onions or whatever you can work out. If nothing is possible, then perhaps flavor this up by stirring in some dried chili flakes into the oil & butter 1 minute before adding the rice.


Ingredients
1 banana shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g butter
200g Aborio rice
1 litre stock (chicken or vegetable made from a cube)
100g shredded Parmesan cheese
150g sweet corn from a can (1 small can of corn, drained)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper to taste


Method
1. Melt half the better and the olive oil together in a large flame-proof casserole or saucepan over medium heat, stirring to combine.

2. Add the shallot and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and sage. Cook and stir for another minute, being careful not to burn it. Meanwhile, mix up your stock and keep it handy by the stove in a bowl with a ladle.

3. Add the rice and cook, stirring until the rice begins to color and is completely coated in the oil. You don't want any rice that looks dry if you can help it.

4. Add 1 ladle of stock to the mixture, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Continue to cook and stir until the liquid is all absorbed.

5. Repeat this process, adding 1 ladleful of stock at a time, constantly stirring and allowing the liquid to absorb completely each time before adding more stock.

6. When you come to the last of the stock to add, also add in the corn at that time and continue stirring until the liquid is all absorbed. It's okay if there's a little more than 1 ladleful for the last addition of stock. The corn should have sufficient time to warm through as your stirring and allowing the stock to absorb.

7. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan cheese. Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper and sea salt flakes if you prefer and serve on warm plates or in warm bowls.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

At Home With Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

At Home With Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott
I was given Jennifer L. Scott's first book Lessons From Madame Chic as a birthday gift and I loved it so much that I immediately ordered her second book, At Home With Madame Chic. Scott also writes a blog called The Daily Connoisseur and envisions herself as a "connoisseur of daily life." As someone who has always aspired to the same, I think it's pretty safe to say she's doing a good job. Scott's books are simply a reminder that we all deserve the best and quite often, the only thing standing between us and the best is our own stubborn habit of saving things for later.

Juggling work, life and family is hard and it's not getting any easier these days. Everyone is too busy to clean, cook and keep an organized home, but what do you do? Some hire a cleaning lady, which is great if it suits your lifestyle, but what if it doesn't? Should you live in squalor and filth, all in pursuit of the dream? It seems to me that the dream is only half-achieved if you can't find any peace, comfort and enjoyment at home. It's something I've struggled with my whole life, so believe me when I say that there is absolutely no judgement here… Just yesterday I couldn't make it all work and had to order pizza, which I ate on the couch in my pajamas while I worked and my living room was a mess. If you are someone who has it all together all the time, then congratulations - you're my hero and this book isn't for you. Seriously, well done! You've discovered the secret to my happiness and I'd love to hear your tips in the comments below. If you find it a little tough to juggle everything, your kids are screaming every time you try to have 5 minutes for yourself, your bathroom rug has seen better days and you're having a hard time getting dinner on the table every evening that doesn't come in a Chinese take-out box, then hop on over to the bookstore and pick up a copy of At Home With Madame Chic.

For me, there's nothing more deflating than coming home from an amazing day at work only to have your positivity bubble shattered by a an ever-growing pile of laundry in the corner, a full & stinky garbage can and a sink full of dishes. It's life's little way of achieving balance and smacking you right back into reality. Working from home as I do doesn't make this situation any easier… In fact, I think it makes it harder in some ways. There's no "coming home from work" so you get used to it and it's hard to know when to stop working and when to start just being at home. There's no boundary and your work mess starts to blend into your home mess and it's all just one big mess.

Imagine this… What if you came home from work and your house was clean. I'm not talking about just once, I mean every day. And not just clean, but beautiful… It's smells good, looks great and feels amazing. A place you look forward to seeing where you can relax and not worry about last night's dishes or picking up the 40 pairs of shoes that have made their way into every nook, cranny and clean spot of floor in your home. A place where you want to be as much as any spa or hotel you've ever visited. Imagine further that you're the one who curates your home and that it's an activity that pleases you - that you can find pleasure in even the most mundane of tasks and that sweeping, mopping and doing the dishes becomes a part of your daily life that you can enjoy. The idea is that you'll never have to face the daunting task of cleaning your whole house all at once and that dinner is never further away than a little time because the fridge is stocked. If you need to take an hour to read a book by candlelight, have a bath or wax your eyebrows, you totally can… Everything is in control and you can actually enjoy the things you work so hard to pay for. Isn't that a nice little dream?

At Home With Madame Chic aims to give you all of this. Now, don't get me wrong… Scott isn't trying to turn you into some sort of Disney-inspired, glorified cleaning lady running around singing a Happy Little Working Song. There's no feng shui principle that needs to be followed. No tricks. This is a book about living your life in-style every single day in a way that you can enjoy every precious moment. A big part of that is keeping a clean, tidy, uncluttered home, mind and body. Perhaps even more important, Scott brings in a major theme of her previous book, which is using your best every day - something that helps to make the mundane more enjoyable. You deserve the best, don't you?

There's nothing particularly groundbreaking or new in At Home With Madame Chic, but that doesn't diminish its value… It's a reminder of what's so easily forgotten these days now that our work hours are longer, our minds are always running and we're constantly connected via phones, iPads and computers. One of the things she reminds me of is something my mother always says… Put 5 things away every night before you go to bed and your house will be tidy. Scott doesn't use the same words, but the sentiments are the same. Simple things such as having flowers on a regular basis rather than just on special occasions can spruce up the home. Before you say that they're too expensive, I'd like to point out that I just bought a beautiful bouquet of yellow daisies for £3.50 that lasted for two weeks and really brightened up my mantle - everyone complimented me on them, despite their humble price tag. This is not about spending a lot of money and landing in the poorhouse - it's about allowing yourself to enjoy the best you can afford. Whether a vase of baby's breath and carnations or an expensive, exotic array of orchids, they're all beautiful. Be comfortable in your choice and enjoy it. Candles to sooth, a regular schedule of your beauty maintenance routine, music that inspires you, using your best dishes and napkins regularly, maintaining your bushy eyebrows and sitting at the dinner table… All of these things make a difference and perhaps if we organize our schedules a little better, we can have it all.

Scott's book also provides recipes, dinner party ideas, music suggestions, affirmation suggestions and more… While I'll be the first to admit that I don't fancy all of her suggestions (I can't listen to classical music all day every day - I need a little something to sing along to) she does start the conversation and gives a jumping off point to curate your own perfect life. Scott also has a way of taking things that seem impossible and making them doable… She gives tips for tackling incredible tasks in a way that keeps you from putting them off. For me, this is invaluable. If you have children, she also gives great ideas and suggestions for managing their activity schedules, getting them involved and teaching them early to cultivate and take interest in their own daily lives.

I highly recommend At Home With Madame Chic and I've already started implementing Scott's ideas and suggestions. I have a long way to go, to be honest. My house is lovely - not at all perfect or fancy, but I think it's nice and it always looks great when someone comes over after a hefty dose of elbow grease. That said, I work here. I live here. I want it to be nice for me and my husband too when he comes home - I am striving everyday for that seamless, enjoyable life of less clutter and more beauty. It's not a destination - it's a journey and I understand that. I once heard someone say they suffer from CHAOS - Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome. I could totally relate, however it seems that lately I have a steady stream of people coming over and I love that. I am a feeder and love a house full of people to look after, so I want to be happy when they come over - not rushing to clean the bathroom before anyone notices that it's a mess. With London flats being so small, the challenge is even greater, but I'm up to it and I've already had a clean house for 5 days in a row… I'd say that's progress, wouldn't you? I'm looking forward to reading the third book by Jennifer L. Scott - if it's as good as the first two, it will be a great addition to my bookshelf!

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Day Trip to Brighton


One of the first places I visited on my first trip to England 12 years ago was Brighton, so I was excited to go back for a visit to see if it was as fun as I remember and it was. Easily accessible by train from London, Brighton is a lovely place to visit for a wonderful day by the sea!

The Seaside and Brighton Pier
Seaside toys for sale along the promenade...
The Brighton Pier and promenade is only a short walk from the train station and a thoroughfare that takes you on an instant time warp to the Edwardian seaside of days gone by. Though it's more shabby than chic these days, if you use your imagination, you can almost picture a young Queen Victoria and her contemporaries frequenting the beach with their bathing machines for a bit of sun & surf.

Fresh seafood
Vendors crowd the shore selling all kinds of wares from children's toys to flip flops and you're never too far from a donut stand or a place to pick up some fish & chips to nibble on the beach.

One of the many fish & chips stalls along the promenade...
Unlike other beaches, you won't find much sand in Brighton, but pebbles… It does make walking on the beach in shoes a little easier, but sunbathers would want a chair for a more comfortable day of relaxing by the water.

Afloat - also known as 'the donut sculpture'
Along the coast, you might see a gigantic bronze donut, but in fact it's a sculpture called Afloat by Hamish Black. It seems appropriate that it would be a donut with vendors selling them all over, but it's actually meant to resemble what it a black hole would look like.

Can you see me?
Brighton Pier
The famous Brighton Pier is a great source of amusement… It's nothing glamorous to be fair, but a great way to spend a couple of hours playing games, riding roller coasters or having a drink, all while taking in the beautiful views of the British coast. I took the opportunity to ride one of the coasters on the pier, which is something I've always wanted to do… Coming down the incline on the tracks, it looks like you'll plunge right into the sea. It's thrilling and lots of fun!

Harry Ramsden's
Harry Ramsden's is a chain of restaurants that serve traditional fish & chips, which might not seem that remarkable. What is remarkable, for me anyway, is that this particular location just steps from the Brighton Pier is where I had my first ever fish & chips back in 2003.

I Have Great Desire, My Desire is Great
Walking seaside in Brighton, you can choose to go below and walk nearer the beach or to look out at the view from the street level above. I was glad that I chose the lower route because I saw this inspirational quote, which is actually a temporary art installation by artist Naoimh Looney.

Steve Ovett Statue
 A statue of local Olympic gold medalist Steve Ovett can be seen running along the beach…

Town
Gorgeous architecture
Away from the seaside lies a lovely town full of personality, shopping, delicious food and tons of character. The architecture is rather impressive too.

Victoria Fountain in Old Steine Gardens

For shopping, you can't beat The Lanes, a vast shopping area with all the great brands and a few quirky independents too. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the fabulous vintage shops that seem to be everywhere too. Also worth noting is Kensington Gardens, a street full of bookstores, homeward shops and quirky finds. While you're there, you simply must grab a drink at The White Rabbit, a funky Alice in Wonderland themed bar that's more hipster than Disney and boasts a rather cool, eclectic crowd.

Statue of King George IV

The Corn Exchange

Brighton Fringe Festival
Love this cow outside a Mexican restaurant in Brighton!
Great name for a pub…
Max Miller statue

The Royal Pavilion
In its heyday, Brighton was a popular resort town that holiday makers visited either to vacation or because they believed that salty seawater could cure many ailments. Because the Prince Regent (later King George IV) was a fan of Brighton, the town prospered and became a rather fashionable place to visit. George loved it so much that he built the Royal Pavilion, a sort of pleasure palace that he could escape to when he needed a break or a bit of seaside fun that was a bit looser than the trappings of London society. He could be free to enjoy his decadent preferences for food, women, drinking and gambling while hidden away in Brighton.

Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion looks Indian from the outside and is a magnificent structure to behold. Unfortunately no photography is allowed inside the Royal Pavilion which boasts incredible Chinese decor contrasting the outside completely. 


My favorite part of the tour of the Royal Pavilion was seeing the kitchen, table staging room and the dining room. The ornate dining room is of course rather grand, but the magic happened in the quarters just behind. The massive kitchen was only one of three, yet is bigger in square footage than most London flats. The table staging room is a smaller room with a long table, similar to the dining table where the staff could stage the table settings to work out how everything would fit and how it would look. I found that all very fascinating. Another thing about our visit to the Royal Pavilion that I loved was having tea on the balcony. Because it was a gorgeous, sunny day there were people everywhere on the grounds taking in the sun and having picnics. We could enjoy the view with coffee and cake from above, which was absolutely brilliant on a warm day. The tea rooms are located halfway through the tour, which offers a nice break in the middle of the experience.

The Indian Gateway to the Royal Pavilion
From 1914 to 1916, the Royal Pavilion was used as a hospital for Indian WWI soldiers who were wounded in the Western front. As a gift to say thank you, India gave the Indian Gateway to Brighton.


George IV spent a lot of time in the Royal Pavilion and it also hosted Queen Victoria for time, however this grand structure is no longer a royal residence. For more information on visiting the Royal Pavilion, visit the website by clicking here.


 Wall Art

We stumbled upon some epic wall art while strolling through Brighton… It was so amazing and detailed, I thought it deserved to be shared. For more information on the street art in Brighton, click here.






All in, a day in Brighton is great fun! There are plenty of things to do and see, great restaurants and pubs all over and the shopping could keep you occupied for hours. Well worth a visit! For more information on planning a trip to Brighton, check out http://www.visitbrighton.com

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pink Julep Weekender - May 15, 2015

Don't miss out on these five fabulous things this weekend… Which one will you do first?

  1. Watch: If you haven't yet seen Far From the Madding Crowd starring Carey Mulligan, then you simply must! I like to describe this film a a British version of Gone With the Wind… It's a lovely story, a beautiful movie and a captivating romance. Add the gorgeous costumes and hairstyles to it and there's not much more a girl could want out of a Friday night!
  2. Watch: My husband and I started watching Bloodline on Netflix this week… Oh my goodness it's addictive! This family has so many secrets and the longer they spend time together, the more than comes out… Well worth a watch, but don't be surprised if you spend the weekend binge watching all the episodes at once!
  3. Listen: If you haven't yet heard the new album Wilder Mind by Mumford & Sons, now's the time… I'll warn you though, this is no foot stompin banjo blarin bluegrass album. The boys have a new sound that totally works for them, proving that they're not just a one-trick pony. Click here to listen to Wilder Mind on Spotify.
  4. Do: May is #cookbookamnesty month! Donate your unwanted cookbooks to Beyond Food Foundation, a London charity that helps people at risk of or who have experienced homelessness to gain employment in the food industry.   In return, they will offer you a 2 for 1 voucher for dinner at Brigade Bar and Bistro to use before the end of June. Feel free to personalize your donations with a message for the future recipient written inside. Just drop of the book at Brigade (139 Tooley Street, London Bridge, SE1 2HZ) where there's a bookshelf in the front. Alternatively, mail your book to Beyond Food Foundation, 2nd Floor, The Fire Station, 139 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2HZ. It's a great cause and you can put your old, unused cookbooks to work doing something great for someone in need that might actually change their life for good.  Click here for more information on how to participate in Beyond Food Cookbook Amnesty. 
  5. Watch: I'll be the first to admit that The Age of Adaline is only okay as far as films go, but it's interesting enough to be fun and well worth the price of admission for the costumes, beauty and hair! I was marveling at Blake Lively's looks throughout the film and while it won't win any Oscars, I enjoyed it immensely. 
images via: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5