Friday, 31 August 2012

Update: Last Days Of London (And The English Countryside)

Well, this update place is not really mainly about London, as I have been living in the countryside since March, but it sounded good so thats why it got to be the post title! So, this time next week I will be heading to the airport and catching a flight out to Los Angeles for 10 months - hasn't time gone fast since I made the announcement that I was moving? I thought I'd just put together a little roundup of my last few months on British soil (I have not done a post like this since the end of April, so we'll take it from there!) full of some of the things I've been up to and some posts from here, and my beauty blog you may have missed!
1. I have been obsessed with blue and white Breton stripes this Summer. | 2. I finally found confidence wearing prints with this fantastic Whistles skirt. | 3. I've practically lived in this blue Volcom shirt this Summer, photo taken at Somerset House, which I think is one of the best outfit post locations in London. | 4. I teamed up with Vestiaire Collective and got my hands on this beautiful See by Chloe bag I first spotted at London Fashion Week. | 5. I found my casual Summer style with some fringed aztec prints. | 6. Speaking of prints, the first outing of my favourite sundress this year, which an awesome palm tree print.

As a boarding school girl, this year has been the first year I've ever had to think about what to wear every day (hello school uniform!), and this Summer while I've been carefully editing my wardrobe to work out what to take with me, I've seen that I've really started to define my own style with my wardrobe choices; lots of basics, stripes, and either neutral colours or blues. I've also started to learn to accessorise properly! 
1. Inspired by an incredible fresh topped pizza I used to order in Pizza Express but it got discontinued, I experimented with pizzas with fresh toppings, and found an incredibly perfect recipe for pizza dough. | 2. A recipe from my French kitchen, one of my all time favourite lunches; king prawns in lashings of delicious garlic butter, served with a glass of ice cold rose and some fresh crusty French bread. | 3. I investigated the incredible effects of what happens if you sandwich my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe together with marshmallow fluff. | 4. The most refreshing and simple iced tea recipe you'll ever need. | 5. I decided my lunches could do with jazzing up a bit this Summer, so I experimented with open topped bagels. | 6. I discovered what happened if you mixed Innocent Smoothie and alcohol and froze them to make ice lollies. The best adult frozen treat of the Summer, thats what!

While I did put some of my preferred recipes on the blog while I was at university, I really started posting and creating my own recipes in earnest this Summer. I can also note that while I still have a long way to go, and I have no idea what sort of set up I'll have in my kitchen when I get to Los Angeles, my food photography has improved somewhat too, which can only be a good thing! I've started to learn a few tricks that have helped.
1. Label M's Organic Moisturising Lemongrass Shampoo and Conditioner are great for reviving your hair after you have got out of the swimming pool. | 2. For the first time ever I've started wearing bronzer this Summer; I've found The Body Shop's Honey Bronze Bronzer is perfect for my really pale skin. | 3. I've been loving lots of things from L'Occitane's Peony range, but this shower gel has really provided a floral burst every time I shower. | 4. I've been using it for years, but recently Nars' 'Orgasm' Illuminator has been my complexion, but in a bottle. | 5. I picked up this bottle of NUXE oil with gold particles in in France, and I've found that rubbing it into my arms and legs really highlights my tan. | 6. L'Occitane's brand new Angelica Exfoliating Gel has really cleaned down deep and refreshed my face, one of my brand new go to products!

It has been an amazing Summer for my beauty blog, The Glossy Guide, with a nomination in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2012 for 'Best New Beauty Blog' coming soon after The Glossy Guide's first birthday. (Incidentally, voting closes today, so if you still not casted your vote, I'd really appreciate it!) I had no idea when I launched it last Summer it would be such a great hit, and I've even surprised myself how much I really love writing about makeup and beauty, and I can't wait to discover some amazing new American products!
1. Authentic Mexican at Taqueria on Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill, London. | 2. I took an early Summer holiday to my home in Brittany, Northern France where I gorged myself on some of my favourite seafood. This starter was from a fantastic restaurant on the seafront in Cancal called Le Cancalais that I have visited several times. | 3. If you're visiting Canterbury and you want to drive out to a country pub, visit The Rose Inn in Wickhambreaux; I've had several totally delicious meals there this Summer. | 4. I found Williams & Brown, a fantastic seafood Tapas bar in the seaside town of Whitstable, their paella was the best I had this Summer. | 5. I've been big on cooking Brazilian Barbecue at home, inspired by Cabana, a wonderful Brazilian Barbecue in London where I enjoyed these delicious ribs at their restaurant in Westfield, Stratford. | 6. Another country pub, if you're ever wandering East Kent, stop off at the Hare & Hounds in the little village of Northbourne, the food is better than I have eaten in some acclaimed London restaurants!

The thing I love writing about the most in the world is food. I love writing about it just a little bit more than I love cooking it, and almost as much as I love eating it. Yes, my jeans may be a little tighter than I had intended at the beginning of the Summer, but while I may not have been in London with so many fantastic restaurants to sample, I've still managed to have some pretty incredible meals out in the sticks. I hope my Californian readers like to discover new foodie hang outs, because I'm really excited about starting my 'Places To Eat In Los Angeles' feature in the Fall (it's LA, not London, so I can say Fall not Autumn, right?)

So, that was my Summer! What have your favourite posts on Rachel Phipps and The Glossy Guide been this Summer? 'Weekly Love' will be back next Friday with a new post hopefully just before I leave for the airport! 

Friday, 24 August 2012

Weekly Love: Week 114

I've been trying to fit as much in as I can before I say goodbye to England, so this week has included some lovely country walks, and dinner with some of my best friends in some of my favourite places, including a mouthwatering Sea Bass at The Rose Inn. On Tuesday, Sherin and one of her school friends came to visit Canterbury, and we had a fantastic girls afternoon out at the seaside, and on Wednesday I drove (it was my first time on a motorway!) my Mother and I to Bluewater for a bit of light retail therapy - I have some lovely new clothes I can't wait to share with you all in outfit posts! I introduced her to her first ever Pinkberry (you all know how obsessed I am with the frozen yogurt chain) and I had another first in the form of a delicious Byron burger - I recommend their courgette fries; absolutely to die for!
1. A little snapshot of my outfit on a lovely day in Whitstable with the girls. The cardigan is from Monsoon, the handbag from Hobbs and the dress from New Look. | 2. I love it when my friends bring me presents, this mini Moet bottle is so adorable! Thanks Sherin. | 3. Cute little chairs outside an ice cream parlour in Whitstable. | 4. An idea at the seaside I must save for another day. | 5. Yes, I have polished off yet another delicious dish of mussels! | 6. Next time you dine at Carluccios' order the raspberry meringue with passion fruit cream for dessert - it is absolutely to die for!

Finally, another quick reminder if you have not already voted that The Glossy Guide, my beauty blog has been nominated for 'Best New Beauty Blog' in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, and I'd really appreciate your vote

What have you been enjoying this week, and what have you got planned for the weekend?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Recipe: Easy Lunchtime Bruchetta

After I posted this snapshot of this bruchetta I made for lunch one day a few weeks ago on Instagram, I had lots of requests to post the recipe. Now, usually when I'm planning to do a recipe post I test the recipe first, then make it a second time especially to photograph. However, now I have Instagram to play with (currently on my Dad's Android, and on my new iPhone next week) I'm probably going to be shooting and posting a few more recipe photos, the moment I've made them, so this post is a trial. Let me know if you like/ dislike/ don't mind this Instagram style recipe post, because even though I will still do the recipes with full colour photos etc. with my usual camera, if I get enough requests I'll do these types of recipe post too.
We grow our own tomatoes here at home, and not just the way normal people grow tomatoes. Generations of my family have been growing them in an industrial sized greenhouse we have on the estate, so we always have a glut of tomatoes every year. This means endless jars of chutney, tomato soups, things cooked in tomatoes, cherry tomatoes frozen so they can be used during the year, tomatoes being given as gifts... you get the picture. We're always on the hunt for new things to do with tomatoes. While I was doing the weekly food shop I picked up some French bread with the idea that there must be something tomato related for lunch we could do with it, and my father suggested that we try making our own bruchetta. (As a result, this recipe serves 2 for lunch, or you can buy a full size French stick like we did and have it two days in a row).

  • 1 Half Size French Stick
  • 2 Giant Tomatoes
  • Handful Cherry Tomatoes
  • Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Garlic Gloves
  • Handful Fresh Basil
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Onion
Cut the French stick into slightly diagonal slanted rounds, like pieces of garlic bread. Drizzle with a little bit of the olive oil, brushing it over the surface of the bread with a pastry brush if you have one. Crush the garlic cloves and spread a little onto each of the bread pieces. Put under the grill until slightly toasted. if you have an AGA, like we do (best cooker in the world) this should take about 5 minutes in the main oven on the top shelf. 

While the bread is toasting you need to make your topping. Chop the onion as finely as you can and set aside in a bowl. Chop all the tomatoes into small pieces, but not so small they won't make chunky bruchetta and add them to the bowl too. Usually this is not a problem with supermarket tomatoes, but if you grow your own some variaties are quite watery, I find I need to let my chopped tomatoes rest over a sieve for a few moments to let out any excess water before adding them to the bowl. Follow with the fresh basil chopped or torn into small pieces, another glug or olive oil, a few sizeable pinches of sea salt  (I don't think anything can beat good French Fleur De Sel for this purpose) and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Mix it all up, and add more seasoning to taste if needed. All you have to do now is take your toasts out of the oven, spoon this mixture on top, serve and enjoy!

I'd love to hear how you all get on with this one! Also, has anyone got any feedback for me from my previous lunchtime adventure, the Italian Style Open Topped Bagels

Monday, 20 August 2012

Recipe: The Ultimate Pizza Express Style Fresh Topped Pizza

Years ago, on the limited edition menu at Pizza Express there was this pizza that I absolutely adored and ate every time I went in there all year until it was discontinued, and they've never had anything on there menu as good as it again. It had a light crispy base with the usual tomato sauce, but the rest of the ingredients were served freshly crumbled on top, and it was served in a slight oblong shape on a piece of slate with a pizza slice. I used to find it perfect with a tall cold glass of Sicilian Lemonade. 
I love making my own pizza (I'm still working on a recipe for Full English Breakfast Pizza I just can't get perfect), so I decided to have a little play and duplicate the menu item I used to love and order so much. 
This recipe is mainly focused on the topping, but here is a recipe if you don't know how to make pizza dough. You really want to make your own so you can get the nice oblong shape, as cutting this pizza with the fresh ingredients on top it is very hard to keep them on the slice with conventional pizza slices. The recipe is from a great website called Baking Mad, where they also have some great how to kitchen videos which I think are great for beginners, including how to make cupcakes and how to make pancakes. The only thing with this recipe is I would say cook at 200 degrees, not 180, and allow 15 minutes for cooking, not 8. 

For the sauce, I like to use conventional passata (you'll need about 1/2 a jar for two pizzas) out of the jar as it is easy, but to improve the flavour I like to gently fry a crushed garlic clove in a little olive oil, add the passata to the pan and season with salt and pepper, sweetening a little with a pinch of sugar if it is a little tart and seasoning with a sprinkling of dried oregano (the best thing ever with tomatoes).

Add the toppings once the pizza is cooked, but you can cook a little of the mozzarella on top if you prefer. Slice cherry tomatoes in half, tear basil and mozzarella, scrunch parma ham (the best bit!) and rince fresh rocket leaves before arranging on top of your cooked base before finishing with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of the best quality extra virgin olive oil you have available to you. 

What are your favourite pizza toppings? And while we're at it, do any of my Los Angeles readers have any pizza parlours in LA they want to recommend? 

This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here

Friday, 17 August 2012

Weekly Love: Week 113

The highlight of the London Closing Ceremony for me has to be our two most senior politicians, Boris Johnson and David Cameron rocking out to the Spice Girls. In other great British news, there is a Downton Abbey Season 3 trailer out. My week basically has been the same as always, but with a few added niceties included so that I could spend more time with my family before I leave, including some fantastic meals out (see pictures below), some time spent in our local pub and another trip to the cinema to see the Batman film (I only go to the cinema about three or four times a year, so going two weeks in a row is a bit of a novelty for me!) I have so much love for Anne Hathaway as Cat Woman right now!
1. Messing around in the car with my Dad's new Android phone. Upset he does not even know to use a Smartphone, and he now has a better phone than me, but while I look forward to my iPhone next month I can at least play with his! This is the picture he gets on screen when I call. I went a bit wild with it, if the house phone calls him her gets a photo of our house, and if my Mum calls from her car, a photo of her car on screen! (Geek out over.) | 2. I usually don't eat in chain restaurants, but from this moment onwards I am going to make an exception for Carluccio's - these mussels and clams steamed in white wine, parsley and chilli were perfectly cooked and simply divine. | 3. My August Glossybox arrives, The International Superstars edition and I think it was one of their best yet. There are two products in there I am already obsessed with, Lipcote and DHC's incredible Deep Cleansing Oil. | 4. Home grown vegetables. | 5. Homemade bruchetta made with said home grown tomatoes. | 6. Carluccio's Antipasti Platter.

As you probably have already noticed, I've made some design changes to the site recently, including a new About Me page, linking to a few new other pages; Blogs I Read, Where I Shop and FAQ's. If there are any questions you'd like me to answer in the FAQ's either leave them in the comments section or drop me an email!

Finally, another quick reminder if you have not already voted that The Glossy Guide, my beauty blog has been nominated for 'Best New Beauty Blog' in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, and I'd really appreciate your vote! Also, I've got a couple of reviews I wrote for some historical novels over at Judging Covers online this week; A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir and The King's Daughter by Christie Dickason - both fantastic books that I'd really recommend if you're looking for a good read!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for this weekend?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Places To Eat In Kent: The Hare & Hounds, Northbourne [Under New Ownership]

There is nothing I like better than a good country pub with a nice atmosphere, delicious food and great drinks. It is surprising therefore, that before a few weeks ago I had never been to The Hare & Hounds in Northbourne village in South East Kent before, because it is within walking/ cycling distance from where I live and work.
DSC_0158 2

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Currently Reading: Blogger Edition #3

More than writing mine, the thing I love the most about blogging is getting to read other peoples absolutely amazing blogs. I find that blogs are such an inspiration to me, they have got me interested in so many different areas, and I'm pretty sure when I finish university my love for the blogasphere is going to shape how at least my twenties pan out. There are so many blogs on my Bloglovin' feed, but I thought I'd share ten more of my favourites here with you all today. For more blog reading inspiration you can also go back through Currently Reading: Blogger Edition #1 & #2.
A-Girl-A-Style_-Columbia-Rd-2-930x620 1. Briony at A Girl, A Style

Aussie girl Briony's London and Cambridge based blog has really quickly become one of my favourites. All her photography is pretty and whimsical, and I use her to find the best spots to buy fresh flowers in London! Also, anyone who follows me on Twitter or has followed this blog for some time will know that the fact she is a political adviser in Westminster by day can only make me like her more. Also, it is nice to know someone is keeping up the style standards in Portcullis House; I remember sitting in the cafeteria in the Atrium one lunch time playing politician bingo (I swear it was only the one time and during the recess, people who work for MP's and Ministers are hard working people, I promise!) and bemoaning the sheer lack of personal style in our seat of government. 
2. Weronika at Raspberry And Red

What I think is great about blogging, is the ability to connect with and read about people living in different parts of the world. Weronkia is Polish, and I have been following her blog and beautiful photography for a couple of years now, and I love reading about her travels and her few months spent living in different countries and cities, most recently in New York and in Rome. 
Bunches pigtails badges school blazer
3. Lucy at Shiny Thoughts

From the first time I met Lucy, to the last time I spent the day with her a few months ago, I have never seen her not dressed in bright outfits and with a massive smile on her face. Her fantastic mood is infectious, and this extends to her super colourful blog which is perfect as a total mood booster if you're feeling down. 
4. Nicole at Gary Pepper Vintage

The stunning photos on Nicole's blog make me want to travel to exotic places, wear beautiful dresses and stalk around in very, very high heels all the time. If you're into visuals, and blogs who's photos are more editorial than personal style, why on earth are you not following this Aussie based blog if you're not already?
DSC_0626 5. Connie at K is for Kani

While her personal style is nothing like my own, for some reason I cannot get enough of Connie's style blog, K is for Kani. Follow her if you like colours, and if you want to come up with inspiring ways to wear what is already in your wardrobe in whole new combinations. 
6. Shini at Park & Cube

I think the reason Shini's blog is so popular is simply because her photos are stunning. She really makes you feel that you are there with her, be it be in Asia, at a leather factory or in a West London garden center tumbling about with the pots and plants. 
7. Emily at Cupcakes & Cashmere

Cupcakes & Cashmere has become one of my all time favourite blogs because Emily is someone I see a lot of myself in, but a lot of what I aspire to be by the end of my twenties too (I'm even moving to her home city of Los Angeles in a few weeks time). She is one of the main reasons I started to integrate food into my blog, and judging by everyones feedback, it has to be one of the best blogging decisions I've ever made. Emily's blog is perfect for you if you love blogs with a great layout, incredible photography, great recipes and wonderful daytime inspiration and personal style posts. I can't wait to get my hands on her new book, too: it is going to be my housewarming gift to myself in my new apartment!

There are not many French blogs in my newsfeed (I adore France, it is quite literally my second home, but while I can read French, I am lazy and therefore prefer not to), but I think Alix's blog has been there the longest. He photographs are stunning and whimsical, and I love how unique all her product features are compared to so many more other blogs out there. Also, her lingerie collection for Etam is to die for!
9. Shea Marie at Cheyenne Meets Chanel

As I'm due to be moving to Los Angeles in a few weeks time, life is all about Califonia Dreamin' right now! Shea Marie's blog has been getting me excited about Los Angeles since December, and her classica Californian style and photos around Los Angeles are enough to make anyone hop on a plane to the City of the Angels. 

Camille is one of the few examples of when I've met someone, they've given me their blog URL and then I've fallen in love with their site, rather than making friends through reading their blogs first. I met Camille at a party in North London one evening, and the next day when I checked out her site I could not believe what a talented person I'd met. She's half English, half French, so her style and her photos really appeal to me, as an English girl who'd honorary second country is France. Her blog has amazing style photos, great fashion features and articles, and you really ought to follow this girl - she's going places! 

What are your favourite blogs of the moment?

Friday, 10 August 2012

Weekly Love: Week 112

This week, the first week in August for me has been the beginning of the end, my last month in England before I move across the pond to the Sunshine State. I had an awesome leaving party (thanks to everyone who sent lovely messages hoping I'd have fun), and the next day four of us headed off to see Ted at the cinema - I was not sure I was going to enjoy it at first, but it turns out it is an absolutely hilarious film. I'm now looking to plan lots of great days, evenings and meals out with my friends and family (including a shopping trip for some last minute essentials at Bluewater, I've become so much of a Westfield Stratford girl I should revisit my old mall of choice before I go!) to make the most of the time I have left!
1. This beautiful Whistles skirt from the new collection is my first ever Instagram photo! I won't be updating again until I get my new iPhone in the first week of September, but I borrowed my Aunt's iPad when she visited to set up my account - I'm @missrachelphipps if you want to follow me!  | 2. Fresh cut flowers from the Pilgrims Nook gardens. | 3. Smoked Salmon scrambled eggs for brunch at The Cider Works. | 4. Food and drink from my leaving party - Rose at The Londoner's recipes for Watermelon Martinis and Fat Free Shrimp Salsa. | 5. Speaking of that wonderful skirt, a little preview I posted on my Facebook page of Monday's post. Make sure you like the page for more of these little 'behind the scenes' updates and previews! | 6. Lots of people have been asking me what I have for breakfast every morning - fresh fruit with coconut yogurt and a tall glass of Innocent Orange Juice with bits!

Finally, another quick reminder if you have not already voted that The Glossy Guide, my beauty blog has been nominated for 'Best New Beauty Blog' in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, and I'd really appreciate your vote

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Recipe: Double Stuff Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Filled Cookies

The other day I was sitting at my parents kitchen table, pondering the jar of marshmallow fluff in the larder. I'd originally bought it as it as an ingredient in the filling for Whoopie Pies in The Hummingbird Bakery cake book. However, to also make Whoopie Pies you also need Natural Yogurt for the batter, and as I did not have any of that in the house I was trying to figure out what else I could make with the fluff that I had all the ingredients for, and thus the Double Stuff Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Filled Cookie was born. 
'Double Stuff' comes from 'Double Stuff' Oreos (I love the fact they have extra filling). I decided to make mini versions of my all time double chocolate chip cookie recipe, then 'Double Stuff' fill them with Fluff. The cookies, which usually are double the size, (the recipe makes 9, here we are going to   make 18 cookies to make 9 sandwich cookies) are an amazing Lorraine Pascal recipe which are wonderful an chewy on the inside. 

  • 100g (4oz) Unsalted Butter, Softerned
  • 200g (7oz) Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • Vanilla Extract
  • 165g (5 1/2oz) Plain Flour
  • Salt
  • 1/2tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 30g (1 1/4oz) Cocoa Powder
  • 100g Bag (3 1/2oz) Plain Chocolate Chips
  • 100g Bag (3 1/2oz) Milk Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F), Gas Mark 5. Line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together until combined. I use an electric mixer for this, but I'm sure you can do it by hand too! Add the egg and a dash of vanilla extract. Mix well. Add the flour, a pinch of salt. baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder. Mix it in until it forms an even dough. Add the chocolate chips and mash together with a spoon. Make 18 small balls, 9 evenly spaced on each tray. Bake for about 10 mins, or until the tops are cracked but they are still very soft to the touch. This is what makes them delicious and fudgy. Leave them to cool for about 10 mins on the tray before transferring them to a wire cooling wrack to ensure the bottoms are nice and crisp. 
Now, I don't think you need step by step instructions on how to fill these cookies with fluff, but a few little hints and tips I don't think will go amiss! Less is more when you're adding the fluff, too much and it will pour out of the sides, making things get rather sticky! Also, if you are not planning on eating them straight away, store them in the fridge so the fluff hardens a little and does not go everywhere! 

What is your favourite thing to do with marshmallow fluff? If you try this, let me know how it turns out!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Weekly Love: Week 111

How amazing was the Olympic Opening Ceremony? I settled down to watch it after an afternoon sunbathing and barbecuing on the beach, and it really made me proud to be British. I have not caught much of the games, not being one to watch sport of television, but I hope to catch some of the Rowing finals, especially the Mens Eight, as I always enjoy a bit of my old sport! I hope everyone has had a great week - I'm getting ready for my leaving party tomorrow - lots of cooking and baking involved, which I love!
1. A little outfit post preview featuring a beautiful Ness & Pepper silk scarf. | 2. Barbecuing on the beach. | 3. My new favourite Yves Saint Laurent Gold nail polish, such an amazing formula. | 4. Sunbathing and chilling on the beach in the two tone sunglasses the guys at Breo sent me, and my Figleaves bikini. | 5. A round up of my favourite July products on The Glossy Guide. | 6. Homemade Kung Po Chicken.

Also this week, as I have done the last couple of weeks I've been sharing some of my beauty tips along with some of my fellow bloggers and the Grazia Beauty Editors over at Grazia Daily; this week, my must have beauty product for the week! Also, another quick reminder if you have not already done so, that I would really appreciate your vote in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards where my beauty blog The Glossy Guide is nominated for Best New Beauty Blog! 

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend?