Hally's

Every Sunday should be like last Sunday. A slow morning, an easy brunch and an endless ramble around town. Given that I have been working in west London for nearly two years (eek!) and have lived this way for nearly a year, I was almost ashamed when I realised I had never taken my lovely flatmate to Hally’s - the perfect spot for brunch in Parson’s Green on New King’s Road.

Now, the King’s Road is a long old beast but knowing the area as well as I do (job related knowledge comes in handy from time to time), I can say with ease I prefer the Fulham end to Chelsea. Maybe it’s just me but there’s something far more relaxing about Fulham; it could be because there are less wannabe fashionistas and more mums with prams, I don’t know!

Take my word for it though, Hally’s is an adorable establishment with the perfect hot drink selection, more fresh cakes than you can shake a stick at and a bloomin’ marvellous brunch menu. Add in a lovely visit to the local Farmers' Market and you've got the recipe for a perfect morning.

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Ethos

So where were we? I feel like I’ve not written anything properly in ages. As usual my poor little blog ends up being compromised when life gets busy; I’ve been in recovery mode for a few weeks now after tearing ligaments in my ankle so a lot of my energy has been going into that. Another little change has been moving offices from my little spot in Hammersmith to Kensington. I must say I quite like the change, - new scenery, new people and a bit of new energy to reinvigorate my creative juices (something that can be difficult sometimes in the industry I‘m in!).

I feel like I’ve finally come out from the Christmas haze, through the fake snow, back into my routines and fully embracing this New Year. As a solid believer in moderation and eating your greens, I thought best to counteract the month long madness with a little goodness. Last week I went out with my lovely pal from City Experts (now Local Guides – have a read to find out how to become one!) and we went to a fantastic spot near Oxford Circus. Ethos is a Vegetarian establishment where they have a very simple, well, ethos! You get your plate, you choose, you weigh, you pay. They have an incredible range of hot and cold salads, veg, curries, dips, sauces and breads. Their signature scotch eggs are to die for and the aubergines were second to none. Even better my plate and pudding all came in under £15 - easily one of the best meat-free meals I’ve had for some time. I didn't take any photos of the food because quite frankly, sometimes food just needs to be eaten! I can assure you that it's divine though.

Located on Eastcastle Street, just off Oxford Street, this is easily a perfect spot for a quick bit for lunch (they do take away too) or a leisurely dinner.

I promise soon I’ll have a big girl blog post up with photos and long winded rambling like in days of old. Have a wonderful weekend and I hope the weather hasn’t been too terrible for you of late.

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Chocolate Guinness Cake

We’re all done with the idea of unsustainable resolutions aren’t we? We’ve remembered the ‘everything in moderation’ approach? I made this cake for a party and would suggest you do the same; the Guinness gives it a real subtle spice and keeps the sponge moist, whilst the cream cheese frosting gives a tang against the intensity of the whole affair. It’s incredibly rich so you can’t have that much, but it’s delicious all the same. I used Nigella’s recipe for this but made a few changes – I’d also recommend using a different frosting recipe as this was a more liquid, pourable topping whereas I’d prefer it to be frothy and bubbly like an actual pint of the black stuff (below I’ve included my recipe for my favourite frosting and not the Nigella one I used).

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For the Cake
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
cocoa powder
300g caster sugar
100g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
140ml buttermilk or sour cream (I used sour cream as it activates the bicarb a little better)
280g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder

For the Frosting
100g butter, softened
300g soft cheese
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350ºF, and butter and line a 23cm / 9 inch high sided springform tin OR two 9 inch sandwich tins (you can sandwich them together with a dark chocolate buttercream of your choice) like I did.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter in chunks and heat until the butter's melted. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and whisk the coca and sugar into the dark liquid. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the sweet, black liquor (be careful it isn't too hot at this point or your eggs and cream will curdle) and finally, whisk in the flour and bicarb.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour for a single cake or 35 to 45 minutes for sandwich layers. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack - it's a very delicate sponge!

For the frosting, beat the butter in a bowl with an electric hand whisk for 5 mins until it is light and fluffy. Then starts to mix the icing sugar and cream cheese into the butter a little at a time. Add the vanilla extract before one final whisk. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to ice the cake and then spread liberally all over.

Life Affirmations for 2015

I don’t know about you but I don’t believe in resolutions. To resolve suggests fixing yourself; we shouldn’t be fixing, we should reconcile what we have and seek to add to it. I’m sure, like me, we’ve all decided we need to change something in the past – hair, weight, diet etc etc, the usual New Year rigmarole.

Last year however, I changed that and decided to write a series of positive affirmations - no more negative change. I vowed to buy art for my flat, to improve my upper body strength and to be happy in 2014. I found these on New Years day and to my delight I’d done them, all of them! Except learn to meditate, but I’m sure that’ll come with time! So this year I’m going to put them here for all of you.

My 2015 affirmations aren’t life changing, probably nothing that I wouldn’t have done without the New Year, but they’re my changes. Little things I can do day to day to make me my best self. I also want you to tell me what you’re affirming to do this year? Have you danced around in your knickers singing yet because you’re so happy with all the ways you’re going to kick ass? No negatives, no self-deprecation – even if your goal is to lose weight, change the way it sounds ‘I’m affirming to eat better and move more’.

This is Kate in 2015:
  • I want to be able to do 25 press-ups. At present I can do 10, I’m adding one every two days until I reach my goal. 
  • My only failed affirmation from 2014 was that I never put the time aside to learn to meditate! This year I’m making more time to be mindful.
  • This year I will grow my blog. I’m amazed at how much this space has grown since I started blogging properly on here last year (after years of stopping and starting!). In 2015 I’m gong to try and put more and more into it, for you guys!
  • Be more Daisy Lowe - a statement I’m going to live by. What a creature! I don’t seek to look like Daisy, she’s a model, but I’m going to channel more Lowe in my life. Take her silhouettes and confidence. I see her as a yes girl and I’m going to take more of that forward in my day to day.
  • Pay off my Credit Card… classic
  • The only classic television show I’ve never watched, The Wire. I’m going to watch it from start to finish this year. I say this year; I’ll probably have finished this one by Sunday.

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January 2014: Love Want Need