Dinner Date: My Private Chef Experience

Private Chef Experience

Have you ever been sat at home thinking ‘I fancy hiring a private chef to host a dinner party for me’. No? Yeah me neither, that is until a few weeks ago. An email landed in my inbox from La Belle Assiette. They offered me the chance to have a private chef visit my home, and cook a 4-course menu for myself and a selection of guests. Maybe I was on a high from perusing their menus, or maybe I just felt like a real adult for once, because I said yes. And so began my private chef experience.

My Private Chef Experience

Living in London means my flat isn’t exactly a mansion. But we are lucky enough to have an open plan kitchen-lounge, with a reasonably sized dining area. So we invited a couple of friends over, for drinks and dinner.

I was introduced to my chef beforehand – Lina Lin. A talented chef who works for Roka during the day, and has a passion for supper clubs in the evening, Lina was a perfect match! We chatted beforehand via WhatsApp and a phone call where we discussed the menu and my needs. As much as I love Japanese food, I decided to go for Lina’s Singaporean menu (she has a couple to choose from), because honestly, it just sounded too delicious to pass up.

The Menu

  • Appetiser
    • Crispy Potato Curry Puff
  • Starter
    • Tauhu Goreng (Fried Tofu layered with Bean Sprouts, Cucumber, Carrot, Scallion and Special Peanut Sauce)
  • Main Course
    • Nasi Lemak (Fragrant Rice cooked in Coconut Milk and Pandan leaf, served with Beef Rendang, Sambal Prawn, Anchovies, Peanut, Cucumber and Sambal Chilli)
  • Dessert
    • Mango Sago with Coconut Milk

Lina was incredibly knowledgeable, professional, and friendly. And not to mention, an accomplished chef. Originally I thought it might be a little awkward having a stranger in my kitchen. Everything from laying the table, down to washing the dishes is done by your chef – so you get the whole evening off. After I calmed my urge to help, I relaxed and enjoyed a few drinks with my guests, before we were seated.

The meal itself was even more delicious than it sounded, and I loved how Lina explained the dishes and the origins behind them. After we had finished, we chatted about Singapore, food, and London life. It genuinely felt like we had just had dinner with a close acquaintance.

La Belle Assiette is an experience that I will never forget, and I don’t think my guests will either. If you fancy a night off, you can hire a private chef in London via La Belle Assiette (prices start at £39pp)

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This post is in collaboration with La Belle Assiette. Photos were by a professional photographer, however all views and words are my own.

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The Art of Slow Living: Is It Possible In London?

slow livingSlow Living: Is It Possible In London?

Several years ago I decided to up and change the way I looked at my approach to life. Basically I wasn’t happy. I decided that I was moving too fast, and I needed a break. That meant looking at the way I live, and the everyday things I do. A lifestyle and mentality rebrand, if you will. But let’s be honest, nothing is that straight forward. And is it even possible to incorporate slow living into a London lifestyle?

Slow Living in London

Over the past year I set out to try and find a way to bring the lifestyle concept of slow living into…well, my life. Our society is based on fast fashion, fast food, and even fast lifestyles. If you’re not living fast, then you’re not living at all. At least that’s what people say. I soon realised it wasn’t going to be easy, and the hardest part was figuring out what ‘slow living’ even meant to me.

  1. Stop being so materialistic. I told myself it’s good to have nice things, but it doesn’t mean anything if they have no value, and I don’t mean monetary. I’m talking about objects/experiences that have meaning. Like the expensive pair of sneakers I had wanted for years, which I finally bought myself with the first pay check from my new job.
  2. Quality over quantity. Whereas before I probably bought myself an item of clothing or went to a new restaurant every week, now I do it about once or twice a month. I put more thought into what I want/need, and the design and quality of the piece. I’d rather spend a little more on something that lasts longer and works better, than buy a bajillion items that don’t.
  3. Enjoying the little things. Because sometimes having a G&T by candlelight at home with my friends is much more mentally rewarding than going to the latest ‘on-trend’ bar, and wasting a ton of money on overpriced drinks.
  4. Slowing down my lifestyle. Admittedly this has been the hardest step out of them all, and it’s something I’m still working on today. A lot of people in London can’t (or won’t) grasp the concept of it, and it’s understandable when you live in a city that pulls you in all directions. After a rather successful end to 2016, the first half of 2017 was pretty rough for me. But I’m now trying to get myself back on track again. It may take some time, but if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

You can follow my attempt at ‘slow living’ and read more of my help posts here.

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24 Hours in Monaco | A Travel Guide

24 Hours in MonacoIt can be pretty tough visiting a new city, or country. You’re not sure where to eat, what to see, or even where to stay. Well I’m here to change all of that with my handy guides! They’re full of tips, tricks, and the best places to go. So stop worrying about how you’re going to make the most of your time in a new place; here are my recommendations for spending 24 hours in Monaco!

24 hours in monaco

24 Hours in Monaco

  • Drive to Monaco
    • Monaco is pretty small, and expensive. Unless you want to go all out, I’d suggest staying somewhere close by and driving into the principality.
  • Brunch at Café de Paris
    • This brasserie is world famous, and you’ve probably spotted it in a movie or two. Sit outside on the terrace and mingle with the rich & famous, whilst you enjoy coffee and pastries.
  • Check out that architecture!
    • For such a small place, Monaco has a surprisingly eclectic mix of architecture. From old palatial hotels, to modern apartments, and bridges sandwiched between cliffs.
  • Visit the Prince’s Palace
    • The Prince’s Palace overlooks the bay of Monaco, and it’s a stunning sight…as proven by the 100os of selfies taken there every day.
  • Wander the streets
    • The palace is situated amongst several quaint streets, each littered with gelaterias, stereotypical souvenir shops, and restaurants.
  • Eat ice cream by the harbour
    • Because who doesn’t want to stare out onto a beautiful crystal blue sea covered with yachts…
  • Go hunting for art!
    • Monaco’s streets are literally covered in art. From traditional statues, to modern google-eyed fun. It’s a must-see for any art lover in town.
  • Do dinner in Nice
    • Nice isn’t too far from Monaco, but it’s considerably bigger, and has a lot more restaurants on offer. Such as La Femme du Boulanger.

Well there you have it, my travel guide to 24 Hours in Monaco!
And don’t forget to check out the my other 24 Hours In… guides.

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Learning to Love Instagram Again – A Guide

love instagram

For a while now it seemed as though Instagram is imploding in on itself. Longtime and new users alike are tired of the new algorithm, bots, hacked accounts, and much more. We’re given pointless updates that no one asked for – a la Facebook – and to top it all off, Instagram don’t seem to be listening to any of it’s users complaints. Yet through it all, I’ve stayed true to Instagram, although it was pretty tough at times. And finally, I’m learning to love Instagram again.

Learning to Love Instagram Again

I recently took a mini break from Instagram. The best way to describe how I felt is disillusioned. I decided that I was tired of creating promo posts, endless flatlays, and worrying about what my next upload would be. So I went away for a few days, I deleted a bunch of old photos that made me unhappy, and I came back with fresh ideas.

  • Beating the System Or ‘finding a work around the new algorithm’. It’s not easy, but there are certain things you can do to claw your account back to the realms of the living. Posting once a day, and using a selection of new hashtags (repeat hashtag usage results in posts not being seen) in each post should do it.
  • Keep it Unique Easier said than done. But studies have shown that people are bored of overly stylised flatlays taking up their feed. The “big accounts” are all looking the same, and there’s a herd of copycats on their tails. Think about it; why would someone buy a knock-off when they can have the real thing? Creating unique, concise content is one of the best ways to draw in new followers, and keep the ones you have.
  • Love What You Do It’s so easy to just give up. But if you’re really not enjoying Instagram, take a break. Basically if it feels like a chore, don’t waste your time on it. Go away and come back when you’re ready – whether that’s after a day, or a month. I did and it helped me come up with a new look for my feed, a new strategy, and it made me a lot happier.

You can follow me on Instagram @bloomzy and read more of my help posts here.

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Choosing My Bridal Party | Wedding 101

bridal party

Choosing my bridal party was surprisingly easy compared to deciding on my wedding guestlist. I was never going to have 10 bridesmaids, and an entourage of flower boys/girls following me down the aisle. Much like our actual wedding, I decided on something small. I wanted those closest to me to be a big part of my day, and more than just an invitee.

Bridal Party: Maid of Honour

Obviously the first person I had to think about was my Maid of Honour (aka Head Bridesmaid). I didn’t really need to think too long about it either, because I knew exactly who would be my perfect Maid of Honour. My best friend and partner-in-crime, none other than Chopstickpanorama. It’s a tough job, and I know I personally would freak out if someone asked me to be their MOH. All the organising, the budgeting, the hen party…need I go on? But true to form, after a few tears and hugs, VA reacted exactly how I had hoped – she said yes!

‘Will you be my Maid of Honour?’ Biscuits by Lavish Slice*
‘Will you be my Maid of Honour?’ Card by notonthehighstreet.com

Bridal Party: Bridesmaids

Choosing my bridesmaids took slightly longer. Not because I was unsure of who to choose, but because I was unsure of how many to have. I’ve been to weddings where there are no bridesmaids at all, and others where there are enough to man a small ship. It’s safe to say I had no idea what the ideal number was. But after deliberating symmetry – coz what else would I consider? – and who I wanted to follow me down the aisle, I decided on three people:

  • My sister – Whom I love dearly, and could never even begin to think about celebrating my big day without. She also probably thinks I’ve forgotten about the dance pact we’ve made. But she would be wrong.
  • Jemi – A woman who has been with me through thick and thin, and who still loves me even after witnessing all of my awkward style choices throughout the years.
  • Ffion – My soon-to-be Sister-in-Law, and someone I can rely on when it comes to all the important things in life: good food, style, and telling me how it is.

‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’ Card by Jade Fisher*

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This post is in collaboration with notonthehighstreet.com, however all views, photos and words are my own.

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24 Hours in Oslo, Norway | A Travel Guide

24 Hours in OsloIt can be pretty tough visiting a new city, or country. You’re not sure where to eat, what to see, or even where to stay. Well I’m here to change all of that with my handy guides! They’re full of tips, tricks, and the best places to go. So stop worrying about how you’re going to make the most of your time in a new place; here are my recommendations for spending 24 hours in Oslo, Norway!

24 Hours in Oslo

24 Hours in Oslo, Norway

  • The best banana bread in town!
    • Is found at Supreme Roastworks, alongside some pretty superb coffee too. It makes for the perfect breakfast.
  • Walk along Grünerløkka
    • The latest trendy area in Oslo is somewhat akin to London’s Shoreditch. You’ll find a variety of independent stores, designers, coffee shops and restaurants.
  • Coffee stop!
    • Grab some caffeine to go from Tim Wendelboe – the coffee is high quality, as is the well thought out interior of this popular spot.
  • Architecture fans will love…
    • Oslo City Hall. Tours do run but only during certain parts of the year. However you can wander in freely and walk around the gorgeous interiors.

24 Hours in Oslo

  • Have Lunch in Aker Brygge
    • One of Oslo’s newest developments, the harbour side district is full of restaurants, cafes and shops.
  • Take in some modern art at Astrup Fearnley 
  • Take a boat around the Oslo Fjords
    • Littered with beautiful islands, stunning landmarks, and enviable Summer houses, the Oslo Fjords shouldn’t be missed. Tours run throughout the day, and start from the port in front of Oslo City Hall. Times depend on season.
  • Vippa for dinner!
    • Vippa is Oslo’s leading street food market, and you’ll find friends, couples and families enjoying a variety of cuisines alongside the sea front.

24 Hours in Oslo

Hints and Tips for 24 Hours in Oslo:

  • Stay in an Airbnb
    • You can choose something that suits your personal style, and it’s much more affordable than a hotel. We stayed in Inga’s stunning apartment.
  • Free wifi & charging in the streets
    • Look out for the smart benches littered across the city. They have USB charging ports, and free wifi!
  • It’s expensive, but…
    • Yes, Oslo is expensive but you can get your tax back on a variety of goods including clothes, homeware and food. Just ask for a tax form when purchasing your goods, and get your tax back at the airport.
  • Alcohol
    • Spirits & wine are only sold at Vinmonopolet stores. Everything else is available in supermarkets, but isn’t sold after 6pm on a Saturday, or at all on a Sunday. However restaurants and bars serve as normal.

Well there you have it, my travel guide to 24 Hours in Oslo, Noway!
And don’t forget to check out the my other 24 Hours In… guides.

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Save the Date: Choosing Your Wedding Guestlist

Wedding GuestlistSave The Dates by Sugar & Spice Designs*

We must have written, erased and re-written our wedding guestlist a hundred times. It’s been one of the hardest parts of planning our intimate (read: small) wedding. And today I’m going to let you in on a little secret…it’s not even finished!

Choosing Our Wedding Guestlist

Obviously the first people we wrote down were immediate family. Then it was the bridal party, and our closest shared friends. After that it became a bit more complicated. We have to stick to numbers, and it’s horrible trying to figure out where to draw the hypothetical line. It was also important to take into consideration whether our friends and family could make it to our location wedding. I say “location” because it’s outside London, and in the middle of nowhere. Honestly it won’t be easy for everyone to get there and find accommodation, and we understand that. We would love to be able to pay for everyone’s hotel/airbnb, but let’s be realistic – it’s not possible on a budget.

Choosing Our Save the Dates

Choosing the guest list may be tough, but there is a fun side to it as well – deciding on our save the dates! We both wanted something that reflected our personal style, as well as the theme of the wedding. I went straight to notonthehighstreet.com as I’d fallen for their wedding stationery at the press day I attended earlier this year. We narrowed it down to a couple of our favourite designs, and eventually we ended up with the Luxury Eucalyptus Save the Dates by Sugar & Spice, which you can see above (and below).

We were so happy with how the ST… note to self: don’t try and abbreviate ‘Save the Date’. But seriously, we were so happy with our final Save the Dates. The handwritten calligraphy in the form of our guests names (on the envelopes), added an extra personal touch. They’re simplistic, yet memorable, and the design matches our theme perfectly. We may still be finalising our wedding guestlist, but at least we have some awesome save the dates to help us along the way!

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My saves the dates were gifted to me by Sugar & Spice, however all views, photos and words are my own.

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