some happy things.

what a weeeeek! back from holidays laaate on tuesday night, with a bug from the plane (or the many, many hours walking around in the rain), and with a tiredness hangover - the worst kind. i had wednesday off work to recoup, and then was only in the office one day last week; the best and shortest kind of week, but also mega stressful because ~so ~much ~work to catch up on this week! pray for me. in the mean time, here are some of the bestest bits from my short week:

birthday extension: i don't know anyone who just has ~one birthday day, right? you at least have a work birthday and a real one, or a birthday week, or... month, like me last year, but as i was back in the office just the one day that week, i got to continue the fun with thanks to the bearded baker's mad cake-making skills; one sole slice of birthday cake that was waiting for my breakfast on thursday. oh yes, lemon curd and vicky sponge and ohmagawd it was the best breakfast ever, biggest birthday grin.

specs appeal (or not): you know that hilarious moment you realise your new glasses make you look like garth from wayne's world? well, that. i'd returned to work to many, many parcels awaiting me, and one of them contained my new "dodger" frames from glasses direct. yeah. they're very... michael caine in the 60s, and less erica in the now, but... i'm working them.

day tripping: on friday i bunked off work and headed south with some fab blogging babes, on a day trip to kent! thanks to visit england and visit kent, we were shown around the sights of margate, introduced to some of the local traders, and ended with a trip to dreamland! visiting the retro theme park has been on my to do list since it re-opened back in june, so i was super excited to finally get down there. more to come on that, but some incredible laughs and times spent with my gal pal sal (say that fast three times), on the beach, on the dodgems, and trawling the vintage treasure shops. fun!

blog awards! early saturday morning, #littleshaun and i jumped on the train and headed to leeds to help hayley host the inaugural bloggers blog awards, and we had the absolute best afternoon and night ever. with fifty or so bloggers due to arrive by 3pm, it was a whirlwind afternoon of checking in, changing and getting a cab to the venue to help finishing setting up and then all just a blur until the awards were announced. it's a good thing i prepared in advance really, because as it was... i only bloody won the best dressed award on the night! could not believe it. i mean, i looked like a fairy princess, but was so very honoured to win the award on the day! it almost made up for the fact i didn't win the award i was actually shortlisted for... haha!

sightseeing: with a couple of hours to spare in leeds on sunday morning, shaun and i got to a bit of sightseeing of places i missed out on seeing the last time... including a pit stop in at trinity kitchen after recommendations from rhiannon about the level of great food in there. well, she wasn't wrong, and we devoured our weight in food there before sluggishly making our way to the station and making the epic journey home.

another busy and amazing week, and doesn't look to stop again this week - honestly, i have at least a week of holiday still owing to me at work, and i reckon i'm just going ~take it and chill out at home. i need a week of lay ins to get me feeling normal i think... is that a waste? tell me that's not a waste!! how was your week? tell me all about it!

food | dinner down memory lane

earlier in the week i mentioned a small jaunt down memory lane that i took recently. not my own memory lane, to be fair, but a memory lane i wish could have been mine, had i had the chance to live ~through the 70s, and not just be born a couple of years shy of them. there's something about lace dresses and crochet bags and flowers in the hair that really resonates (weird, i know) with me, and that's even before we stop to consider some of my favourite bands of all time had some of their greatest hits in the 70s (hello, fleetwood mac anyone). 

so naturally, when i was kindly (semi) invited by marie curie to take a trip with them all in the name of a retro dinner with a difference, well, let's just say i'm not sure i've ever squealed quite so much in public before. the invite did come by way of the most distracted charlie one could ever hope to know, so many many kudos are owed to her by both katy and i, who somehow managed to both bag ourselves +1 invites to be by her side. something you should know about us girls: we know how to wrangle an invite when we want one.

i rocked up at current home of disappearing dining club "back in five minutes" drenched and slightly lost (it's in the back of a weird shop, see), and was promptly shown to the bar (that's me at the bar, see) - a bar that was quite clearly serving nothing but shirley temples with ~actual marachino cherries, because 70s. cocktail in hand, it was time to admire the attention to detail in the makeshift restaurant where it was already obvious that so much thought and attention had gone into creating this wonderful little retro dining club, designed to make that trip down memory lane happen so much more naturally (the lack of internet and signal would soon see to that anyway).

after a spot of mingling with the ladies behind the charity, it was time to take our seats for the first of many dated dishes (in a good way, of course) in our journey back in time, as well as some deeelicious and well-paired drinks to wash away the memories.

*all image credit belongs to the wonderfully talented-in-low-light trevor smeaton*

we're talking prawn cocktails. waldorf salad with crispy pork belly. duck l'orange. key lime freaken pie cheesecake for christssake. this menu could not have been any better dreamt up if it were ~actually being served ~in the 70s! all that was missing was a cheese hedgehog and a slice of vienetta. the lambrini, blue nun and - wait for it - mai tais for dessert were an ~absolute blast, and as we sat there laughing in great hysteria about how much this dinner party reminded us (oldies, not youths like little miss) of dinner parties thrown by our parents when we were small, sneaking glimpses of the festivities through cracks in the door while we were supposed to be in bed.

which i suppose meant that the event achieved the desired effect; starting a conversation about retro dinner parties, and encouraging people - young and old - to host a retro dinner party of their own and be part of the terminal illness charity's latest fundraising campaign: "dinner down memory lane". i can't imagine a better excuse to get some friends together for a good cause, can you?

a massive thank you to marie curie for hosting such a wonderful dinner party for us, to raise awareness about their great campaign, and again to get us talking about ways to help out their amazing nurses continue to do their much needed, and often tireless work. now, i will stop saying the words "dinner party" if you agree to consider hosting your own d****r p***y this november, and help raise money for this incredible charity... deal?

food | creative kitchen by alpro

hey, remember that time i used to cook all the time? like, when i had my own flat, and a boyfriend to cook for, and back when "dinner" was more than just a microwave meal or ramen for the nine hundredth night in a row? no, me either; it's been a while. but there was a time where i used to cook a bit, be a bit of a "trier", always accepting a foodtacular challenge. these days, less so, but when alpro got in touch to let me know about their newest addition to their range of plant-based alternatives to cooking "creams", well, i thought it was time to try again. 

whether it's desserts, pasta sauces, or asian dishes being whipped up with a cooking cream, alpro now have it covered in the dairy-free kitchens around the uk in their range of healthy alternatives for all of the tasty dishes. each of the products is completely plant based, meaning no chemical nasties or belly-aching worries to concern yourself with, plus they're totally healthy too - less than nine grams of fat (per 100ml) means you can eat all the food and not worry about having dessert too... right?

the newest addition to the range is the coconut cuisine, and so to the kitchen i went, inspired to attempt something akin to a curry - a coconut courgette thai curry to be precise. and wouldn't you believe it, it was bloody deliciious. and wouldn't you believe something else, i literally took no acceptable photos of my dish. why? because: terrible food blogger. why else? because: so determined to not stuff up the recipe, that my focus was entirely on that (and snapchatting the whole thing, uhm yeah) and not taking photos. 
never the less, this is the recipe i used, and i will attest to it being really, ~really tasty. having never tried the product before it's hard to know how it matches up to another coconut cream or milk, but there was nothing particularly after-tasty about it (my fave way to describe soya milk is "after-tasty"), so in my book, it was a top alternative to other less-healthy options.

another of the products i tried was the soya single "cream", which i used as a real-cream replacement in a bog-standard tomato and cream sauce pasta dish that i completely made up as i went along. i did take photos this time, but in my dingy kitchen, at night, in the middle of an eclipse (part of this is a lie), so they turned out worse than the imaginary ones from the curry. sorry about that. the soya single had that after-tasty thing going on, so more noticeable than the coconut cuisine, but still as tasty. plus, no belly woes, and that's the clincher really, isn't it?

so, erm, thanks to alpro for getting me back in the kitchen for a couple of nights, but... let's hope it's a few months between challenges eh? there's way too many dishes to do after cooking these sorts of meals, and when you're the only one doing the cooking ~and cleaning, well... the full belly doesn't feel so happy when there's chores to be done.

the range is available in most supermarkets now, i'd love to hear what you've tried?

some happy things.

my my, haven't i been a busy girl; barely time to breathe since we last caught up - what with work, packing, handing shit over, doing good in the community, and then heading off, it's been a bit of a whirlwind really. let's start at the very beginning of the (last) week, shall we, and see what's been keeping me busy, and been the silver lining in another otherwise hectic and stressful week:

dinner with a difference: on monday, charlie, katy and i headed into a secret dining room in the back of a weird shop on brick lane, for a charity dinner/blogger event with a twist; every course was retro themed and perfectly paired with a deliciously boozy drink from the same era - the 70s. with abba and tom jones and fleetwood mac vinyls spinning in the corner, the ladies from marie curie really knew how to whet our appetite, before they genuinely did feed our appetites. more on this in the week, including some faaaab photos of the three of us.

early birthday presents: during the week, little gifts kept making their way to my desk, and getting me all excited for my impending birthday. last year's was a bigg'un so this year, i kind of decided to just let it happen and not be too fussy about it. obviously there was a trip to turkey with my gal, but there were no boozy dinners or drinks out, i kind of swept it under the rug (bar a few hints here, natch). so to have a couple lovely friends remember and send me sweet parcels in the post made me very, very, happy. especially when the contents of said parcels included more unicorn paraphernalia for my unicorner at work, and well-timed hair pins that matched my wednesday outfit... perfection!

a big old change up: on thursday i got my hurr did. like, did did. a whole lotta did. i made a decision and went with it, and some moments regret everything and at other times am glad i had the balls to do it. i've wanted pastel hair for as long as i can remember, but... i'm not sure it suits me. not yet. and it's not quite the colour i'd hoped for, so i have a second appointment at rockalily in a week to have another go at perfecting the recipe. wish me luck; full update to come.

holidaaaaaze: on friday, rebekah and i finally took off, istanbul bound, for four days of sightseeing, late-summer sun, and unexpected (turkish) delights. but not before heading to world duty free for a bit of a vip tour around the new and improved shop (it's masssssive!), the offer of a make over (we had no time!) or hand massage (it was so busy!), and quick stop at their tasting bar for vodka martinis - yes, thanks to belvedere vodka, we started our holiday right! i was sleepy within the hour, but thanks to the spesh birthday baggy they handed me over the counter, i had all the rejuvenating serums i needed to look my best at arrival. thanks so much to managers nicola and jane for making our departure so much more fab than usual!

tasty treats: istanbul has many a wonderful delicacy to offer its visitors, but none more wonderful than baklava, and limited edition moschino coke cans. ok so the cola tastes mainly the same, but oh so pretttttty, but baklava? how have i gone through life never knowing this tasty treat? this sweet, honeyed, pastry treat? that's a great question, and one i cannot fathom an answer to. obviously i had a sheltered upbringing, but fear not, for once you taste baklava, you cannot escape the desire to have it again. because of this, we ate it a lot over the weekend. a lot. and i don't regret a thing.

and that brings me to wednesday night, sick as a dog since i landed, in no way thanks to six hours of recycled air conditioning, thirty hours of summer rain, or many, many hours without a proper sleep, but hoping for a better day tomorrow. x

style | award winning (we hope!)

skirt c/o | top c/o bonmarche | bag c/o lydc | shoes c/o new look | crown : markets

last week i threw a few options at you about what i should wear to the bloggers blog awards this weekend in leeds. well, you discussed and i listened. and then i (probably) disregarded all your opinions and opted for the safest, and most me-est option of them all: some sort of ethereal garden princess, in an totally age-inappropriate outfit.

but you know what? i don't even caaaare; this outfit is the most comfiest, the most prettiest, and the most "that girl is not from around here"-est outfit i could wear really, and after my wear-all-the-black admisson from last week also, it's nice to be able to still find some suitable pastel options in autumn. so ner! i love how it's worked out, and feel totally award-ready now. where's my red carpet!?

*oh my gawd, look at those roots! dire.*

when i saw this skirt on site at boohoo, i knew it needed to be mine. in fact, there are loads of gorgeous tulle skirts on there at the minute, i wonder if there's a trend happening that i'm not privy to as yet... that would be a first - me on trend. what a thing to celebrate!

ok so in all honesty this whole outfit is basically just an updated-for-autumn version of the very same one i wore to the yorkshire wedding back in june, and... i'm pretty much ok with that, because i felt super pretty and princessy at the time, and who the hell doesn't want to feel like that more than once? maybe it's the erica-equivalent of jeans and a tee shirt? ...clutching at straws there...

look, any excuse to not act my age (when do i anyway?) and dress like a bit of a princess for a day, eh? nowt wrong with that. now, wish me luck - i'm off to meet a bunch of my blogging idols - eep!