I finally made it to the temporary Dior exhibition at Harrods during the week. I wasn't sure what to expect and wondered whether it would be similar to the exhibition at Le Bon Marche. Happily, it wasn't!
Let me tell you, Harrods is pushing Dior hard. The windows, the boutique section and even a cafe are all Dior themed.
One of the unique features of the exhibit is that Harrods has the muslins used to design their more recent garments. It's interesting to see the behind the scenes aspects of the design process.
Of course, they have plenty of eye candy as well!
Another of my favourite features is the Fashion Theatre. This is a scaled down version of a fashion presentation Harrods put on in the 1950's. These miniature dresses are amazing!
Speaking of the 50's, there is also quite a bit of memorabilia relating to Princess Margaret. The Princess had a special relationship with Dior and even had a special fashion show at one of the palaces.
We decided to treat ourselves well this Easter with a little relaxation courtesy of the spa. While we always visit the spa in Portugal, we never do the same closer to home. I think this is the start of a dangerous addiction. Maybe a blog series investigating the UK's best spas?!
The husband is now hiding my credit card.
Anyway, after a bit of research I was torn between the Four Seasons and the Connaught. The treatment I wanted wasn't offered in most London spas so that helped narrow my choices. In the end, I decided to book us into the Aman Spa at the Connaught Hotel.
Hidden in Mayfair, the Connaught houses the first Aman spa outside of an Aman resort.
On arrival, we were given fresh lemongrass tea and filled out some paperwork including an optional quiz to determine your dosha.
Since the husband I were both having treatment, we were shown to a double treatment room. In our room there was a private changing area with double shower although no toilet. I only say this because after having tea and listening to therapeutic running water I wanted to use the loo before my treatments which meant leaving the main spa area.
After putting on our robes, the treatment started with a footbath and discussion of what was ahead. If you are having a massage, you are given the oils to smell and choose what best suits you. I started with a mud wrap so the therapist asked what I hoped to get out of it and decided which oils to blend with the clay.
Time for another disclaimer- even though there were therapists available of both sexes, I was assigned the male and the husband was given the female. I found it slightly odd since I was having a full body mud wrap but went with it anyway knowing I had a massage to follow and wanted some strong hands.
Now, the treatments. I started with a mud wrap which was made to be moisturising. After the winter we are still having, my skin desperately needed some quenching. While the mud was working its magic, I experienced heaven in the form of a scalp massage. If you are like me and love having your hair brushed or head rubbed, you will love it. I swear I could feel my sinuses opening and my head clearing with each pressure point.
The husband went for an hour and a half massage and I topped up my mud wrap with one as well. The husband and I agreed these were probably some of the best we have ever experienced. They were so thorough that each finger was individually massaged.
Not quite ready to call it a day, we took a short walk to The Wolseley for an afternoon treat before heading home in a state of absolute bliss.
With the freezing weather and snow happening on and off all week, it's the perfect time for hearty Guinness Beef Stew.
Guinness Beef Stew by Cooks Country
3 T vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T tomato paste
1/4 c flour
3 c chicken stock (I used 4-5)
1.5 T dark brown sugar
1 t thyme
2 lb stewing beef, 1.5 inch cubes
1.5 lbs potatoes, unpeeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 T fresh chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Salt and pepper beef. Set dutch oven on stove on medium-high heat and add oil. Once simmering, add onion and cook 10 minutes or until well browned. Stir in tomato paste and garlic, cook for 2 minutes or until rust coloured. Add in flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, 3/4 c Guinness, brown sugar, and thyme. Ensure you scrape up browned bits on bottom. Allow to simmer until slightly thickened. Add beef, return to simmer and then remove from stove to finish cooking in oven.
Cook for 90 minutes, stirring halfway through to allow beef to brown evenly. Add potatoes and carrots, stirring to fully incorporate, you may need to add more stock at this point to ensure vegetables soften. Return to oven and cook for further 60-90 minutes, stirring at 30 minute intervals until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven, stir in 1/2 c Guinness and parsley. Serve and enjoy!
It starts as a solid and liquefies when you rub it in your hands. I don't know about you, but gas central heat does a number on my skin and this has seriously contributed to a major improvement. I haven't used in for cooking yet, but the health benefits are supposed to be amazing too.
American Chop Suey or American Goloush wasn't a dish I had heard of before Cook's Country. However, it looked like something the husband would enjoy so I whipped it up on the weekend. Flavor was a bit lacking for me so next time I'll spice it up.
American Chop Suey
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 T tomato paste
1/4 t red pepper flakes
28 ounces tomato sauce (passata in the UK)
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 T soy sauce or worcestershire
2 T oregano
1 T basil
2 bay leaves
ground beef (I used Quorn faux mince!)
3 cups elbow pasta
oil, salt and pepper
parmesan for topping
In dutch oven, cook pasta. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. In now empty dutch over, add oil and cook beef. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Add more oil and cook onion and bell pepper. Add tomato paste and allow to cook for 2 minutes until rust coloured. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, cooked beef, basil, oregano, soy or worcestershire and 1-2 cups of water. Bring to simmer and cook uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves. Add pasta and heat through. Serve -or- refrigerate overnight and reheat gently on the stove. Top with parmesan.
*If using Quorn or beef alternative, follow package instructions. Quorn is seriously the best thing ever. I was never really a fan of ground beef and you can't tell the difference. I served it to my carnivore and he didn't know!
With spring weather hopefully right around the corner, it was time to freshen up my makeup bag.
Who knew the power of new blush?
I'm a sucker for Laura Mercier and have been through several colours over the years. Last time was Winter Bloom which is described as a bronzed pink. I knew I wanted something brighter and ended up choosing Orange Blossom, an apricot pink.
When I wrote Sunday's post, I was full of good intentions. I had posts planned for the week ahead. I felt like I was getting some of my blogging mojo back.
I got ill.
Like really, really ill.
I caught norovirus.
It was horrific.
Apparently a really bad strain is making its way around the UK this winter. Why am I telling you this? So you're prepared.
If you live in America, you have certain conveniences that you don't have in the UK. There aren't really any 24 hour stores. Your house more than likely doesn't have a gallon of gatorade stashed in a cupboard. You rely on public transport surrounded by strangers rather than sitting in your clean car alone.
So, please keep your hand sanitiser at the ready after you take the tube, train or bus. You don't know who has touched that button or rail before you. Maybe now isn't the best time to be trying the new spring lipsticks at the makeup counters. Why not pick up something with electrolytes with your next trip to the grocery store? Also, the chemist has these things called rehydration sachets which is like UK pedialyte for grown-ups.
Anyway, use your hand sanitiser like it's going out of style so you don't need the rest. Be healthy my friends.
Made ribbon garland inspired by Pinterest. I have a little party coming up at work and this will be perfectly girly.
I haven't used heat on my hair since mid-December which means I'm now running out of ways to make it look good. I've been rocking my natural curls, but the English weather makes my hair more frizzy vs the perfect natural curls I get in the States. I'm still on the hunt for the perfect products to make my hair UK compliant. Until then, a side braid will do.