Birthday

booth revolution
How often can you get lots of people that you love in one room? Not often, I tell you. Not often at all.

With my next birthday approaching and no wedding or funeral on the horizon, I decided to throw a very glittery birthday party to get my nearest and dearest surrounded by fun, noms, and each other’s greatness.

We decorated…
…with packs of 16-inch metallic confetti balloons and 34-inch giant gold numbers from Bubblegum Balloons (the latter of which are still floating strong). Because the main room we held the party in has quite low ceilings and LED spotlights, we chose not to secure them but them them float just above people’s heads like confetti-filled clouds. The numbers, however, were held down with Bubblegum’s adorable little weights.

The majority of other supplies were all from Partyrama and their party superstore; the inflatable beer pong trophy, clear beer pong cups, gold and silver cups, gold and silver serving trays, table confetti, printed gold napkins, et al. It’s all in the details.

We ate…
cake pops to amuse the bouche and the incredible 10-inchers from Pizza Loco and their mobile pizza train. As well as being an insane visual addition to the party, the train delivered specialist pizzas as fresh as they come; the Magic Mushroom (chestnut and field mushrooms, oven roasted garlic, cheddar and mozzarella sprinkled with Parmesan and truffle oil), the French Melt (mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, French Brie or Camembert, and rocket), and the Analucian (mozzarella and Manchego cheese, spicy chorizo, and mixed marinated olives).

We posed…
…for hours upon hours in the ingenious Booth Revolution photo booth. With ex-policeman Nigel manning the booth (and ever so kindly catching flyaway beer pong balls for us), the four-person booth became Party Central.

And often filled with more than four people.

Though Booth Revolution have deluxe-sized booths, the ‘classic’ option was party perfect and came with three hours hire time, the lovely Nigel (though I’m sure he doesn’t come with every party), a props box, backdrop, unlimited instant 6 x 4” prints, a password protected online gallery, unlimited downloads (6 x 4” size), a disc of all the images, and full set up and break down.

We drank…
…and drank and drank. Beer pong, a magnum of Prosecco, and an emptied bar cart on top of my generous (and loose) punch pouring makes for happy faces all ’round.

We listened…
To this month’s party playlist on Spotify, obvs.

birthday party
birthday party
birthday party pizza loco
booth revolution
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Easy Cake Pops Recipe (The Easy-Peasiest)

easy cake pops recipe
Without a doubt, the most well-received entity to come out of the kitchen over the past year has been these little suckers: behold, ‘please give me the recipe!’ cake pops.

In preparation for my birthday party (more on that tomorrow), the Manfriend’s mum and I trialled a fair share of cake pop recipes, selected our favourites, and combined the most foolproof and delicious results to create this very easy cake pops recipe.

The final three variations were red velvet cake with white chocolate (and sprinkles!), vanilla cake with milk chocolate (and edible glitter!), and lemon cake with dark chocolate (and desicctaed coconut!), though the recipe will allow you to make any flavour combination of your choice.

Ingredients:
– A cake (each cake makes roughly 12 cake pops – I chose to make three cakes as I wanted a variety of options for the party guests to choose from)
– A tub of icing (you can use fresh if you have the patience, but Betty Crocker icing is a fantastic alternative)
– Cake pop toppings (I chose edible glitter, coconut, and sprinkles)
– A large ‘family sized’ bar of chocolate (I chose three so each cake had a different ‘coat’)
– Lollipop sticks
– A styrofoam block or something similar

Directions:
1. Make your cake! I did this one day in advance as I had three to knock out, but if you are making this on the day just ensure you have left one hour for the cake to completely cool.
2. Blend your cake for 10 seconds using a blender or food processor (it should all be milled, but not be too fine; photo guide, below).
3. Get out a sheet of greaseproof paper.
4. Put the blended cake into a large bowl and mix in a heaped spoonful of icing. Mix together until you reach a doughy consistency – adding more icing if needed – and roll into cake balls.
5. Put the cake balls on the greaseproof paper and refrigerate inside plastic containers for at least two hours.
6. Take the cake balls out of the fridge and place to the side while melting chocolate over the hob (best results come from placing in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water).
7. Dip the end of your lollipop stick into the melted chocolate and stick that end into a cake ball. This helps secure the ball to the stick as you load weight (chocolate) onto it.
8. After a minute, coat your cake ball in chocolate – smoothing out with a spoon when required – and stick it into your styrofoam block.
9. As the chocolate dries, sprinkle your toppings on top of each cake pop so they attach securely.
10. Rinse and repeat until all cake pops are made!
11. Let the cake pops stand for one hour in a cool spot. Remove from the block and refrigerate in your container of choice until ready to serve.

easy cake pops recipe
easy cake pops recipe
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In Review: Amba Hotel Charing Cross, London

amba hotel charing cross
I can’t even deal with The Amba Hotel (in the expressively grateful Valley Girl sense, of course).

Last week, I booked in for an evening sandwiched between late events and early meetings and was truly overwhelmed by the whole experience.

First things first: the building. During my review searches, I had seen a number of previous guests coo over its proximity to the tube, but didn’t realise just how close it was. Amba Hotel Charing Cross is literally attached to the rail station and a 180-degree turn to face the front door as you emerge from the Underground. It is also rather majestic (yet unassuming) on the inside; I’m not sure anything could make a Londoner’s heart pitter patter much more.

And then, the service. From the second I went to check in, I was welcomed by a handful of staff that were not only pleasant and professional but genuinely friendly and considerate. I almost felt like a was about to stay in a friend’s (exceptionally enormous) home.

Climbing the grand wraparound starcases to the fifth floor, I entered the room and immediately wanted to cancel all the evening’s plans. The view (adjacent to Trafalgar Square)! The complimentary minibar (with a mini-sized Prosecco bottle)! The walk-in shower (and two-person tub)! The bed (adjacent to a large desk, but much more fun to do work in*)! The free iPad (hello, room service of the future)! The wi-fi (excellent, compared to generic ‘free wifi’)!

While I was Lady Boringpants and spent most of my afternoon having Nespressos over my laptop, its tourist’s dream of a location was not lost on my cold London heart; I opened all the windows to play peeping tom on the tourists and tourism on The Strand below.

After a tiresome evening of events and luxurious night of catching Zzzs, I played ‘Queen of The Amazon’ in the rain shower and sashayed down to The Terrace for a bit of Eggs Royale. Every single part of this scenario was perfection.

It was only checking out that burst the bubble. This hotel has the potential to become quite an expensive hobby.

* (I was recently interviewed for the Gumtree blog about the interior design in the Celebrity Big Brother house and I have to say I have never been anywhere so comfortable while ‘doing work’.)

amba hotel charing cross
amba hotel charing cross
amba hotel charing cross
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In Review: Afternoon Tea at The Lancaster, London

lancaster london afternoon tea
If you’ve been clicking around my blog for any longer than a week (thank you, superbabe!), you’ll know I love to pepper my work days with as much adventure as possible. Though I tend to work from dawn to dusk, I know I need to step away from the grind when schedules and clients allow.

When you’re in London, there’s no better escape than afternoon tea.

When a slot in Wednesday’s schedule opened up, I made a date with the Lancaster London‘s Ben Purton and his signature afternoon tea.

In August, Purton took over the hotel’s two restaurants (Island Grill and Nipa Thai), banqueting for up to 3,000 guests, room service, the Lounge Bar, and the Lounge Bar’s Afternoon Tea as Executive Chef.

All that and the man still manages to knock the scones – and then some – out of the park.

Kicking things off with a glass of Laurent Perrier, I decided to go for a pot of organic darjeeling (champagne of teas to follow the champagne of champagnes, naturally) while my tea buddy chose his favourite – a classic pot of English breakfast tea (a full-bodied version blended with three different Assam leaves).

While the tea timer did our dirty work, we began to plate up our savouries; a Lancaster London smoked salmon sandwich, an egg & wild cress sandwich, a cucumber sandwich, a wild mushroom, chicken and tarragon tartlet, and a roast beef-filled Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream (the cake-taker, by far).

With excellent timing, our waitress then approached us to ask if we would like any more sandwiches (not with scones coming!) and if we were ready for our scones (YES, ALWAYS YES!). The warm plain and raisin carb clouds were then served to us with homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, making all our dreams come true.

Making a push for the sweets tier, I took small bites of everything to ensure no sugared stone went unturned. From favourite to could-still-be-a-favourite, the final plate featured white chocolate and raspberry lollipops, apple and honey cupcakes, lemon fruit tarts, caramel and hazelnut tranches, and passion fruit and raspberry macarons.

When a macaron comes ‘last’, you know you’re dealing with a pro.

lancaster london afternoon tea
lancaster london afternoon tea
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