Lottie Loves: 47

Friday, 17 October 2014

Instagram of the week: The post-storm skies have been beautiful this week.

1. It's the weekend! *praying hands emoji*

2. Oh how I want Joy's new book, Homemade Decadence. I MEAN LOOK AT THAT COVER.

3. Speaking of cookbooks, Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food looks insane too! Have you been following the TV series? THAT Chocolate Celebration Cake looked like such a game-changer.

4. I am obsessed with this Autumn scarf. Can I treat myself to it because it's a Friday? That's a legit reason, right...?

5. I've been doing a lot of computer work this week and it makes my brain feel like it's turning to cheese. I have definitely needed these tips on how to meditate in five minutes or less. A bit of brain breathing space is essential.

6. Radox pink grapefruit and basil shower gel. I thought adverts lied when they insisted that a shower gel could really wake you up in the morning, but it's actually the truth! The grapefruit scent is so zingy and fresh it really readies me for the morning. Aaaand I can't stop sniffing myself for the rest of the day. #realtalk

7. I desperately want to create a DIY-instagram photo display. I haven't been too inspired by pintrest so far, so do you have any cool ideas?

8. What children around the world eat for breakfast. I find these studies fascinating, especially when the eater is pictured with the food.

9. I've been losing hours watching spoken word poetry this week. Sarah Kay is still such an inspiration, I love her piece Worst Poetry.

10. Josie sent me this brain-exploding adorable video this week. I'm so glad she's my sister.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Touring and Tapas in Barcelona

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

As you already know, we went crazy for Gaudi in Barcelona. But alongside our Antoni escapades we also squeezed in some touring, tapas and a half day of relaxation! We like our travels a little jam-packed and crazy, if you couldn't already tell...
Barcelona is a fantastic city to wander through. The main roads are cool and cosmopolitan whilst the narrow side streets are full of character and history. There is a real mix of architecture and style that makes Barcelona an exciting city that features both the old and the new. Before I get onto the touring in Barcelona, I want to show you just a couple of shots of the diversity that Barcelona has to offer.

Barcelona's Arc de Triomf stands over a long stretch of pedestrian road.

We strolled past people JOGGING in 35c heat (!!). This part of Barcelona has an almost Los Angeles like feel about it.

Then we turned down a side street and were greeted with imaginative, colourful graffiti. This city keeps you on your toes, for sure.

But I'll tell you about the touring now.
Meet Leon. An incredible London-born guide who now lives and works in Barcelona after falling in love with the city. His style of touring is enchanting. He is energetic, informative, funny and so creative. This tour was one of our favourite things to do in Spain. If you want to bag a spot, then visit Sandemans and book yourself a place! Sandemans offers free tours and at the end of the tour you can leave a tip for your guide.
I want to take you along for a little of our tour, Leon showed us some truly gorgeous spots and incredibly interesting sights.

Barcelona Cathedral.

After cleaning, it has only recently been uncovered. It's a fee to go inside but is a beautiful sight from the outside if you'd like to admire. It's well worth a wander past.  

Just opposite the Cathedral is a rare piece of Picasso street art named El fris dels Gegants. Apparently it depicts a Catalan festival that involves a human tower, which a child climbs then holds up 4 fingers. It's a funny one, hey?

Leon took us onwards, showing us beautiful churches including this one with the fabulous rose window.

And this modestly designed Catholic church.

We wound through beautiful, narrow side streets.

Stopped for a lunch of champagne sangria and sandwiches for lunch.
Can't complain...

Then we headed down to Columbus' Column (who incidentally is the only Columbus statue not to be pointing towards America, but to Algeria, as the Catalans refused to fund his voyage).

And our tour finished with Leon in Downtown Barcelona. If you get the chance to get on one of his tours, I urge you to do it. I can't imagine a better person to have introduced us to the city. As we were in the area, we had a quick wander up La Rambla, but it's nothing too special and full of tourist traps. However, the living statue street performers are worth a look if you fancy it!  

So after a couple of busy days of touring and sight-seeing, we found ourselves with a free morning. J proposed the (frankly crazy) idea that we might like to lie on a beach for a couple of hours, to unwind you know, as I hear people do on their travels.  

We walked down to Barceloneta, the beach most convenient for the city. 

I have to say, it wasn't the best beach. Very busy and full of merchants trying to sell drinks, clothes and even offered a massage to J... The sand was kind of dusty and it was hard to switch off with so much going on around. 

But we got to read our books, catch some rays (read apply factor 30 and sit in the shade) and do a little chilling. If we had more time though, we would've caught the train up the coast to a quieter, more natural spot. But you live and learn to allocate more than 3 hours for a little relaxation!

Once we dusted all the sand off ourselves, we still had one important thing to do in Barca. Sample the tapas! I had big dreams of snagging a table at Quimet & Quimet or Tapas 24, both of which has fantastic reputations for tapas.
However I hadn't factored in that lots of restaurants close in Spain on a Sunday and Monday, the days we were looking for lunch. Sadly my choices above were unavailable and I had to start my tapas hunt over. Eventually we settled on Taller de Tapas, a tapas chain. The food is good, as is the atmosphere and location but I desperately missed a sense of authenticity and tradition. However it's great for dipping your toe into concept of tapas. 

You can sit inside at the highly polished bar, complete with smiling barman

On one of the long wooden tables

Or outside in the plaza under a canopy. We like a little fresh air and people watching, so opted for seats outside. 

We poured carefully over the menu, eager to make the right decisions from such a vast choice! We ordered all at once and each dish zipped out of the kitchen once ready.
First up, Patatas Bravas with garlic mayonnaise and spicy paprika sauce. Fried potato was not what I expected... It was tasty, but a little strange. 

The sizzling prawns cooked in a clay pot with chilli, garlic and mountain herbs were much more satisfactory. Arriving at the table literally sizzling, smelling delicious and looking ever so tempting.  

Quickly followed by the small fish catch of the day, fried and served with lemon. This is one of my favourite dishes. Thoroughly smothered in lemon juice, these little fish are utterly moreish. 

But the highlight of the meal, by far, was the pot of sizzling artisan Astorga chorizo braised in Asturian cider. They were delicious, melt-in-the-mouth morsels of flavour. Rich and smokey and slightly addictive! I wish we had bought some Spanish chorizo home with us, it was just to die for. 

We rounded off our meal with grilled green asparagus with walnut dressing. Crunchy asparagus, nutty dressing and a light and delicious way to finish lunch. 

Big fan. 

And after that last mouthful, we headed to the train for the last stop on our adventure. I've got one more Spanish blog post coming your way and it's full of Madrid madness. Stay tuned!

Lottie Loves: 46

Friday, 10 October 2014

Instagram of the week: I like to spot Autumn everywhere. I'm also the girl that crouches down to take pictures of a puddle...  

1. J and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary this week. I am so lucky.

2. I love these 17 no-carve pumpkin ideas. So chic!

3. Have you seen Gone Girl? I went this week after so much anticipation. It was really, really good but I have to say that the book is better. But isn't that always the way?

4. I've been layering like cerrrr-razy this week! Loving it. Loving cable knit. Loving Autumn!

5. These dogs from around the world posters are adorable. I have to say I did a little puppy window shopping...

6. GBBO is finished and this saddens my soul. These 28 GBBO innuendos are still making me chuckle, though.

7. I went for a massage this week (thanks, J!) and I don't think I can go back to my normal weekly routine without a massage now. I practically FLOATED home. It was the beeeeessst thing ever.

8. I attended the most darling tea party last weekend and ate so much cake! It was a joyous experience and it was such a delight to see old friends.

9. I also discovered Chai Tea! It tastes like Christmas and I love it.

10. Have you seen Carlton rock his Carlton Dance on Dancing with the Stars (skip to 0.53 if you don't fancy the whole thing)? One for all you 80s and 90s kids.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

One Pot Pasta

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Sometimes I like to pretend I'm Italian. I pretend that I ride a moped, long, thick dark hair billowing in the wind and I'm off to my grandmother's for freshly made pasta and a glass of red. I love the life of imaginary Italian me, but sadly this life only exists in my head. Problematic, eh? I've managed to placate with myself by cooking up Italian style treats whenever possible (and drinking loads of red wine anyway) and this is a recipe that I absolutely love. I am actually so excited by this recipe. It was the very first thing I made in my Le Creu after endless dreams of basil, tomatoes and spaghetti. The vibrant colours of the ingredients in the pot together makes my heart happy as does the gorgeous, traditional flavour. Once cooked, the spaghetti is aldente and silky, the tomatoes are softened and the shallot still has a little crunch. It is an Italian dream, one pot wonder. I love it so much, it is currently my weekly pasta dish having knocked Rosie's Avocado Spaghetti off the top spot! And that's saying something...
Oh and this recipe is just the easiest. 1 pot, under 10 ingredients and it will be ready in 15 minutes. It's an essential for your pasta repertoire and if you too like to pretend to be Italian, you'll love this one.

The original recipe is one of Martha Stewart's treasures

For One Pot Pasta you will need (serves 2):

170g wholewheat pasta
170g baby plum tomatoes
1 shallot or small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 large sprigs basil
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
500 ml water

Fresh Parmesan to serve. 

Begin by finely slicing your garlic and shallot. Slice any tomatoes that are a little big.

Then put ALL of your ingredients into a large pot. Whack it all in, water and all.
Then put onto a medium heat and cook for 10-12 minutes. Stir frequently or use tongs to keep the pasta loose. Cook until all the water is soaked up and the pasta is silky smooth.

Scatter over a little extra basil is you're a particularly basil-y person. 

Serve with lashings of freshly grated Parmesan. 

 And cherish! I know you'll love this recipe. It's a winner.

Have you made your Christmas Pudding?

Monday, 6 October 2014

It's that time of year again! The days are shortening, the temperature is dropping and supermarkets are sneaking Quality Street tins into their aisles. Summer seems to finally be on its way and now I'm on a Christmas prep hype. I'm looking out for gifts, seeing if I can score a bargain wrapping paper and I'm of course keeping up my family tradition of making our own Christmas Pudding. It's a truly lovely thing to do, three generations working side by side in the kitchen. We only add things we like into the pudding and nibble on the ingredients as everything goes into my Mum's huge, baking bowl. Once everything is in, everyone stirs the bowl for luck, love and wishes. It's one of my favourite things to do, and makes me excited for the festive season to truly begin.
If you want to make your own Christmas pudding, you can follow our Three Generation Christmas Pudding recipe that I put up last year. Add in the ingredients that tickle your pickle and subtract the ones that don't. Have fun with it and perhaps quietly hum a Christmas song as you stir your own bowl.

Ho, ho, ho!

Lottie Loves: 45

Friday, 3 October 2014

 Instagram of the week: JK Rowling is the boss.

1. Strictly is back (yup I'm still talking about this, and yup I'm still old)! Simon Webb is already my fave. What moves!

2. Long catch ups with old friends. You just can't beat 'em, can you?

3. I love Tracy's And I Quote series

4. Have you seen this video about trolling? Spoken word is just so good at addressing issues we have all been through and continue to go through. Watch it. Bravo Shane Koyczan.

5. I'm looking for another podcast to add to my listening list. I'm going to try out The Art of Simple podcast. Do you listen? Or have any other recommendations?

6. Juice! I was kindly given a juicer last weekend and I looove it! J and I are loving carrot, apple and ginger juice with a zing of lime. 

7. I saw The Equalizer this week. It was a bit violent for my taste, but it reminded me how much I love Denzel Washington. If you haven't seen him in Flight, change that asap!

8. 'Tastes like the colour grey'. Irish people taste American junk food.

9. I treated myself to a new schoolbag this year. Whilst some go for sophisticated, soft leather handbags, I think you can't go wrong with a good ol' backpack. I plumped for this Roxy beauty and I'm in love.

10. The 33 most joyful things that ever happened. Thank you, Buzzfeed, for your constant source of euphoria. And don't tell anyone, but I may've cried at one of these...

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

Gaudi's Barcelona

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Our time in Barcelona went too quickly. Even with the most stringent of itineraries we couldn't fit in all we would have liked. However we knew from the moment Barcelona was on the table, Gaudi was on the table too. He is almost synonomous with Barcelona and a trip to the city without seeing his work is criminal! Ok, not really criminal, but we knew he had to feature. So this post will walk you through some of our Gaudi highlights. If our time was unlimited I would have loved to visit Casa Milà as I have it on good authority that it is home to one of Barcelona's best sunset views. But back to what we managed to cram in on our trip and my SD card. We arrived in the early afternoon after an incredibly comfortable journey on one of Spain's high speed Renfe trains - equipped with big comfy seats, headphones and Spanish Monsters Inc. 2, for those who can translate or are enthusiastic enough to try. After dropping our bags off we raced out of the door to see the bonkers-crazy-mind bloggling-awesome sight that was right on our doorstep. 

The Sagrada Familia

I had once visited the Sagrada Familia years ago, but the change in the building since then is incredible. Whilst the finished product will be insane, I'm sure, part of the thrill in visiting it over its construction is the change in the building. Both in progress and architecture style. This Basilica newbie was pretty excited to see it, too!

We made our way inside after admiring the gothic Nativity facade (pictured above). 

And I was blown away by the detail of the lofty ceiling supported by tree-like stone beams.

We had (cheerily) opted for an audio tour to guide us through Gaudi's masterpiece. We learned that Gaudi was obsessed with how light touched his creations. The Sagrada Familia has been consciously created to make the most of every drop of natural light at different times, dawn, day and dusk.

The colours truly are awe-inspiring. And even though the place mills with tourists there is still a sense of spirituality and peace.

The way the colourful, soft light touches skin and stone alike is quite beautiful.

The artificial light too is used thoughtfully and in moderation.

There is beauty and detail everywhere. I don't want to show you too much, in case you are planning to visit yourself.

And if you do plan to visit, make sure to go up one of the towers.

We opted for the Passion Facade and it was breathtaking - if not a little narrow and tourist heavy!

From the towers you can enjoy views of Barcelona.

Much of which is interspersed with the scaffolding surrounding the Sagrada Familia. There is a strange and enchanting juxtaposition about the place.

The view from the towers also makes the perfect spot for a Barca selfie.

Indeed a wonderful opportunity to take in the view and perhaps strike a pose.
Yes, yes, we are utterly ridiculous.

And if you're not interested in modelling atop the tower, simply admire the incredible artwork that the Sagrada Familia is famous for.

We also wanted to make our way up to Park Güell, as you can't visit Barcelona and not wader through this incredible place.
I couldn't help but buy this tshirt on our way there from Typographia. Featuring 'GAUDIzilla'. I wasn't nearly cool enough to be in Typographia, where each design is unique to the shops location, but I am thrilled with my tshirt. 

Anyway, Park Güell.

Created by Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudi, Park Güell was originally created for well-off families in the area of the park. It was to be devoted to residential use and enjoyment and locals still frequent the park today, the majority of which is free to enjoy. 

If you're interested in seeing Gaudi's work in the park up close though, you will need to pay admission into the Monumental Zone. Book ahead as you will need to reserve a time slot to go in. 

The planning and euros are worth it. A chance to marvel at Gaudi's work within touching distance is quite an experience. He is one of my favourite architects by far, someone who seemed to build his imagination around him. 

Mostly constructed in beautiful mosaic, the architecture and sculptures are colourful and captivating. 

Tourists queue to be pictured with Gaudi's Lizard, for luck, for tradition and for the sake of it. 

 A compulsory shot if you decide to wander through Park Güell's monumental zone.

It's a rare thing to capture him alone without a tourist stroking his ceramic scales. So if you want this picture, prepare to be firm.

Gaudi framing Gaudi. 

Mosaic detail is everywhere.

And the view from the Nature Square is another fantastic one. As Park Güell is situated at the top of Barcelona and atop a hill, you can see right down to the sea.

Another selfie is of course compulsory.

The Nature Square is surrounded by an undulating bench, which is of course covered in a rainbow of tiles and patterns. I can't imagine tiring of such creativity in what could've been an everyday space.   

J made the most of his panoramic camera and captured the wonderful strangeness of the bench.
Hey there! 

After getting our fill of the monumental zone we made our way into the green hills of the park. Even without the colourful mosaic, it continues to amaze.

I wish we could've seen more Gaudi during our stay, but his style is echoed throughout the city. And I'll have another Barcelona post coming your way soon, which will cover touring, tapas and trying to relax for ten minutes on our crazy adventure!
Adiós for now!

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