Life

Happy 2015!

And see ya later stupid stinky 2014!

Yes, I truly mean that. 2014 was the worst year of my life and it was all my fault.

WHY??

1. I worried too much

I worried far too much about what other people were doing, and what the consequences would be if I made certain life choices – and in the end – I didn’t do or decide anything! I didn’t go for a job I actually wanted (and was still jealous of everyone else’s) and it took me until the end of the year to accept that spending a ridiculous amount on rent for an amazing apartment is frivolous but it makes me SO HAPPY!

2. I didn’t give myself any goals or challenges

I didn’t strive for anything or even decide on anything that I wanted to achieve last year – so I ended up not achieving anything. And it’s the worst feeling.

3. I wasn’t selfish enough

And lastly, I didn’t dedicate enough time for myself, and I didn’t make enough selfish decisions. I also spent 2014 thinking about what everyone else wanted or needed from me, which is great, but not when it comes at the sacrifice of my own needs. You can’t make anyone else happy, if you aren’t making yourself happy. You just end up feeling resentful.

I actually have a long mental (and physical) list of things I want to achieve. Some are big lifetime dreams, others are far smaller and I may not be able to achieve all of them this year, but here is my list in progress.

1. Learn how to drive

2. Join a sports team

3. Open a savings account and save at least £5,000 this year

4. Redecorate two rooms in my mum’s place

5. Plan myself bi-weekly Chinese lessons with my amazing friend/tutor

6. Run 10k (I have never been able to run more than 3k eek)

7. Plan a trip and help my Uncle visit my family in Singapore

8. Start upcycling more clothes!

9. Go on a volunteering holiday

10. Visit Bath and Stonehenge Lake District!

11. Blog at least twice a month

12. Eat less meat and eat more Japanese-y

13. Finish a book each month

This list is to be revised, updated and added to. How will you make the most of 2015?

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Taken from the vantage point of the roundabout, looking down onto the cluttered, vehicle strewn street.

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I wanted to take a picture that was authentic in that it was true East London. I wanted to take a picture that could show what is different about the residential areas of London, compared to other cities around the world. What strikes me when I visit other countries – like in the States there is so much variety between the houses’ architecture and so much more land, in Hong Kong – everything is built/integrated into the malls and shops and most people tend to live in tower blocks.

In the area I live in East London in particular, there a lot of huge Victorian houses. And everyone parks in the street. We also have a lot of roundabouts – something I’ve noticed to be really uncommon in America.

Photography

Photography 101: Street

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Day one is home.

I’m not a home person, I don’t really know what makes home home yet, but London is an amazing place to call that for now.

Here is a shot from one of my favourite places – Southbank.

Photography

Photography 101: Day one

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Life, Photography

Guy Fawkes fireworks at Wanstead Flats, Newham

For all Newham lacks as a place to live, it sure makes up for it on Bonfire night.

But with tons of firework displays dotted all over London, why am I telling you about this one?

Firstly, it’s free. Awesome.

As someone who lived in town which charged £15 for their fireworks display, free really is awesome.

Secondly, no one really notices poor, forgotten Newham and so the crowds are oh so spacious. Under-the-radar fireworks display equals non-pushy crowds. Yay!

And my favourite part – the fireworks are AMAZING. This years theme was music legends (my highlight was Sinatra’s My Way) with surprisingly perfectly synchronised fireworks.

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Food, Photography

Busaba Eathai ~ the only chain I’ll openly admit to enjoying

Chain restaurants get a bad rep. I admit to being immediately skeptical to any enthusiasm bore towards a restaurant chain as a collective. My reasoning ~ how can you love multiple restaurants whose main purpose is to produce an almost homogenous experience and be low cost as a result.

But even I can admit that maybe sometimes, I really do have a genuinely nice meal…. at a chain restaurant!!

For example, here is a meal I loved and it was at Busaba Eathai in Stratford – Westfield.

If you haven’t been before, Busaba Eathai is a chain of pan-Asian (I know, bear with me) cuisine, its interior tastefully fitted with a blend of dark woods, tropical flowers and musky incense. Its menu reflects the decor, with Asian dishes inspired by a variety of countries.

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Sen Chan Pad Thai

Pad Thai – a staple in my diet. I LOVE flat noodles, adore seafood and pretty much prefer any dish that has crushed peanuts (or a fried egg) on top. The addition of tart green mango and fluffy crab meat helps breath new life into this familiar and normally unremarkable dish. Plus, portions are HUGE.

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Chargrilled duck

Juicy, tender duck rested gently on a bed of firm broccoli, swimming in a rich umami pool of tamarind sauce. Alex, forever a skeptic about Asian-food portion sizes, wanted the biggest dish on the menu. And with a side of sticky rice, further accompanied by a portion of ‘Thai’ calamari, biggest dish he got.

Did he finish it? Not so much.

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So if you’re stuck in Westfield Stratford and you don’t want to fall in the trap of bad shopping mall food – pick Busaba. It’s like those reliable pair of uggs that you will never openly admit to loving but you’ll wear them all the time. I know, my analogy doesn’t even make sense, just eat at Busaba, it’s good I promise!

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Food, Photography

Ramen time

What better way to welcome the unwelcome cold weather than with an awesomely delicious bowl of Tonkotsu ramen.

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Droooool….. creamy pork broth

Melt-in-your-mouth BBQ pork belly, accompanied by seaweed, bean-sprouts, soft boiled egg, pickled ginger and spring onions, all swimming gloriously in a rich pork bone broth. This is my (Umai-bought) Tonkotsu ramen!

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My favourite dinner buddy

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Food, Photography

Making beef brisket even more special

Lazy city people like myself rely heavily on pre-prepared food. I wish it weren’t so, but sometimes it’s a worthy sacrifice to have a few more minutes with my loved ones each evening.

With this oh so terrible sacrifice, M&S comes to my rescue. Although their 3 for £10 meat deal offers me flavour and convenience, they do come in tiny, tiny portions! And this is where some simple ingredients help bulk up and transform my dinner.

A combination of Pinterest and tube-time daydreaming…. I present my Beef Brisket sandwich!

Beef on a bed of creamy coleslaw, topped with a sunny side up egg. Freshly baked Mediterranean bread laced with roasted peppers and olives, gently dipped in the beef brisket juices.

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Life

Is it time for a rebrand?

My initial motivation for starting a blog was to have something to do while I was applying for jobs post graduation. This meant choosing a topic was kind of hard since I didn’t have a whole lot going on in my life during this extremelycash-less period.

But months on, having failed to commit to blogging and slowly having neglected it – is it time for a rebrand?

I once read something which said that no one is going to care what you say on Twitter unless you’re a celebrity, or something to that effect. I feel the same is for blogging. You can’t get away with writing what you want without having a focus, a theme, for your audience to follow. No one is going to read your random sh*t unless you’re famous, duh.

While I love beauty (skincare, makeup, anything) I don’t know if I could compete with the hordes of highly qualified/committed bloggers and their loyal followers. Yes, I frequently daydream at the sheer thought of receiving beauty freebies (eek) but I don’t have the face nor the money to beauty blog.

I just want to talk about FOOD! My first love – food. Not a day goes past where I don’t photograph my meal, where it don’t plan my week around what nights and where can I eat out next!

I now sneakily start testing what FOOD related blog names I can have *lovehearteyes*

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Food, Life

The Big Easy ~ Covent Garden

Burger and Lobster? Burger and Lobster who I say!

The Big Easy is my new go-to recommended whenever any says anything ‘lobster’ related.

In fact I’d be tempted to say it’s my go-to BBQ recommended too! (I’m sorry Bodean’s, I didn’t mean it!)

Why do I highly recommend The Big Easy? Because the food is big, and the choice is easy. If you fancy reliable, yet filling Lobster meal – then the Big Easy’s for you. If you want said Lobster meal to come with all the trimmings AND an icy cocktail that’s altogether still cheaper than its competitors, then The Big Easy’s still for you.

Don’t believe me – take at look at this:

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Sorry for my poor photo quality – mood lighting does not make for good photography lighting!

All this Lobster goodness (plus icy cocktail don’t forget) for £20. Ah, okay so it’s not your everyday meal, but it’s worth the treat; I felt real good sitting there in my bib.

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Me in my bib, waiting patiently (not patiently) for my Lobster

But what else is on the menu – excuse my poor manners – plenty, I say, plenty.

One of the big draws about The Big Easy is that it regularly has deals for the food aficionado and bargain hunter among us. Each night of the week there’s a different Deep South inspired deal, I remember seeing unlimited shrimp, BBQ, steak and lobster amongst these nightly deals. It’s also known (although I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing it) for it’s live music.

Live music and great deals – what more could you want!

I’ll tell you what – great decor! Yes, it ticks all the boxes. I visited The Big Easy Covent Garden branch (it’s second branch after it’s flagship restaurant on King’s road) only a few weeks after launch, and after having read quite a ton of terrible reviews regarding service I happened to have a pretty hitch-free and extremely enjoyable dining experience. Ask for Mike, he’ll crack jokes and tie your bib for you, one of the few times I’ve felt a waiter fully deserved a generous tip.

I hope The Big Easy stays like this, I can’t wait to book a return visit 🙂

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Food, Life, Photography

Polpo ~ fancy lunchtime tapas

Hello my old friend!

Blog time no see.

heh heh heh, I’m so funny.

Anyhoo, what better way to ease myself back into blogging that to give you a scrummy scrummy update of where I’ve been eating!

Polpo, a tapas restaurant in Farringdon (slash Clerkenwell?) is a rustic/hipster cool kinda place. Menus come printed on rusty, ‘aged’ paper – which I very generously took a picture of!

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As you can see the menu is fairly decently priced, typically a bit more expensive which you expect the closer central you go into London, however the menu is vast enough that there’s something at everyone’s price point.

On to the food!

As there were 3 of us for Alex ‘s (my colleague) Birthday lunch, we decided to be extra greedy and exceed the recommended at-least-two-dishes.

We went for….

Potato & Parmesan crocchette

Potato & Parmesan crocchette

Classic beef & pork

Classic beef & pork meatballs

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Lamb & mint meatballs

Prosciutto, mozzarella & basil bruschetta

Prosciutto, mozzarella & basil bruschetta

Tenderstem broccoli, chilli & garlic pizza

Tenderstem broccoli, chilli & garlic pizza

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Birthday girl!

Rabbit ragu, black olives & gnocchi

Rabbit ragu, black olives & gnocchi

Sliced flank steak, rocket & Parmesan

Sliced flank steak, rocket & Parmesan

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the Boss tucking into ‘his’ steak dish

Pork belly, radicchio & hazelnuts

Pork belly, radicchio & hazelnuts

Tiramisù pot

Tiramisù pot ~ just for me!

And what a lovely end to a lovely meal, to then receive a ridiculous bill!

Having chosen the restaurant, without really comprehending how much we would order, when our bill exceeded £100 I was definitely weeping.

While it was an absolutely delicious meal – I had a few niggly negatives:

  • I’d booked a table especially – and yet we were given the absolute worst table in the house! We were placed right near the kitchen counter – not fun 😦
  • I have never had such stroppy staff. While they were timely and semi-efficient, jesus, if I’m tipping you then I at least expect a smile and some manners!
  • Which leads me to my last point – we HAD to tip 12.5%. I’m okay with tipping, but I’m not okay with tipping when your service is rubbish!

All in all, I would definitely recommend the food especially if you’re in the area – the service could be overlooked if you were a little more pushy and assertive than I was. However, Clerkenwell has so many more delicious eateries at a much more budget friendly price that you wouldn’t be missing out if you didn’t pay Polpo a visit!

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