Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

It finally happened… I found something to rival Afternoon Tea!

“What?” I hear you say.

“There’s nothing in the world better than a lazy afternoon tea with perfectly sliced crustless sandwiches, fresh scones and the daintiest sweet treats?”

Well yes I thought so too. But then the lovely folks at Amara (the home interiors website that fulfills all my luxury lifestyle dreams) threw a bash at The Sanderson Hotel and I discovered the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party!*

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Amara’s Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Now technically, every afternoon tea I’ve ever been to has been rather a tipsy affair, (*cough cough* no tea thanks  just keep topping up the champagne *cough cough*) but this one is so up my street that I’m sitting here grinning like the Cheshire Cat as I think back on it.

I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures of the Sanderson’s open air Courtyard Garden, the stunning setting for our Tipsy Tea. It’s a lush leafy oasis of flowering plants, cascading water fountains and a reflection pool – the most perfect summer setting for a get together. (Note that it also has heaters for when British summer has it’s ‘snow in July’ moments.)

Alas though, upon arrival I was handed a glass of deliciously crisp and refreshing Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque champagne and was soon having a good old chit chat with the other bloggers gathered and the team from Amara so I didn’t get a chance to whip out my camera.

The Tipsy Evening Tea was another matter however! Where food is concerned, if it’s beautiful the camera comes straight out and every inch of this feast deserved to be captured.

Drink Me

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Dangerously for my somewhat empty stomach, we started with a flight of cocktails to get us in the mood. There were two tea based cocktails but I zeroed in on the mini martinis which were far more my, erm, cup of tea? One was a mini espresso made with cherry liqueur and orange marmalade  and the other was dark chocolate and raspberry liqueur. Neither tasted particularly alcoholic so the Tipsy Tea soon lived up to it’s name!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

As the champagne flowed the teastands were set before us with a flourish and I was soon clapping my hands together in sheer delight as the fun of it all. I mean, could there be a more perfect theme for a tea party than The Alice in Wonderland?

I started off with Alice’s Naughty Orange and Cointreau Drink Me potion, a scrumptious concoction served in a mini milk bottle with a straw.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Eat Me

Next, the scones. Soft, freshly baked, still warm from the oven cheese scones with a herby butter that I couldn’t get enough of. Heaven.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

The sandwiches were equally delicious, including a caramelised cornish crab bridge roll and a smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

By far my favourite was the Stack of King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieurs however. So much so that far later into the evening we were offered some extra helpings and I couldn’t resist polishing off another!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Down The Rabbit Hole

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

And then, of course, we come to the Sweets which were perfectly on theme. The dark chocolate and rum chessboard gateau almost finished me off. It was so light and yet so rich somehow at the same time, but then I had to try the pocket watch macaroons which were so light and perfectly balanced that somehow I managed to find room for two!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

The showpiece of the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea is of course the Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms, hidden inside a grass topper so you have to dig in to find them.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

If you’re looking for a fun quirky food experience in London I really can’t recommend the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party enough. It’s quirky, it’s a feast for the eyes, it’s delicious and it comes with a cracking cocktail menu. All things guaranteed to make Laura a happy bunny! (Or should that be White Rabbit?)

Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Where to find it: The Courtyard Garden at Sanderson London

Address: 50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG

Nearest Tubes: Goodge Street, Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road

Price: from £58 (£79 including a glass of premium champagne)

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: I was invited to this complimentary tea by the team from Amara.com (who might I say were an absolutely lovely bunch that I’m looking forward to catching up with again soon!) All views expressed however, are my own.

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Protein World #30DayChallenge

Up until this year I’d always dismissed the idea of calorie counting. My approach to weight control has always been to just eat well most of the time and then allow myself some naughty cheat days in moderation when needed.

Earlier this year, however, I was going through a bit of a tough time and suddenly all of my resolve went out of the window. I rapidly lost half a stone and when I got my appetite back put it back on just as quickly and not in a good way. I was being lazy, eating takeaways and lots of sugar and carbs and it just left me craving more.

For the first time in my life I decided that I needed some help to put some structure and control around my diet so I accepted an invite from Protein World to take part in their 30 Day Challenge – a lifestyle plan based around their Slender Blend Protein powders.

Here’s how I got on!

The Protein World Slender Blend 30 Day Challenge

Protein World #30DayChallenge

So what is the Protein World 30 Day Challenge? Well, it’s a 30 day weight loss programme based on the following guidelines for women:

  • 2 Slender Blend protein shakes per day
  • 1600 to 1800 calories on training days (six days a week recommended)
  • 1200 to 1400 calories in total on non training days (one day a week)

You can buy the Slender Blend protein powder on it’s own or as part of a package of complimentary Slender Plan products for a reduced price. I received:

  • The Slender Blend* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a Non-GMO, low calorie protein powder
  • The Slender Blend Porridge* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a high protein, sugar-free & gluten-free breakfast powder containing chia and flax
  • Hunger Buster capsules* – designed to help suppress your appetite
  • Fat metaboliser capsules* – designed to help kickstart your metabolism to help you burn calories faster
  • Protein World Shaker* – with a mesh insert to help you mix shakes without lumpy bits
  • A booklet with comprehensive meal planner (which links to recipes on their website) and instructions for full body workouts

The Important Question – Does it taste good?!

Protein World #30DayChallenge

The Slender Blend vanilla protein powder surprised me by tasting really good! I mix it with 250ml cold water if I’m out and about but if I’m at home I blend in a handful of frozen strawberries which bulks it out so that it fills a whole jar. Either way the shakes are nice and filling and keep me going until lunchtime which I wasn’t expecting if I’m honest.

The porridge is good too although as this needs to be cooked on the hob I only tend to eat it on weekends when I have a bit more time. My preference is the chocolate flavoured version.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

I’ve also tried the overnight oats peanut butter recipe from Protein World’s online recipe store. It doesn’t look all that appetising but tastes seriously scrumptious! The only downside is that the calories are on the high side for what I’d usually allow myself for my breakfast.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

How I Got On With The Plan

I found it difficult to stick to the plan to the letter but understood the general principle so I adapted it to suit my busy lifestyle. I was supposed to take the capsules every day but they remain unopened in my cupboard as I wanted to achieve any weight loss in a natural way. I also haven’t followed the exercise plans so I haven’t really toned up at all!

To counteract my lack of exercise I aim for the lower 1200 to 1400 calories a day, which I make sure I stick to by logging my food into a diary using MyFitnessPal. This app has been a game changer for me and makes calorie counting a doddle. I even used it when I went to Wagamama which helped me to find the healthy options on the menu.

The shakes are only 150 kcals each so when it’s practical for me to have them twice a day this makes staying within the calorie allowance really easy whereas on days where I can’t do this or can’t have shakes at all I find keeping within 1200 calories a lot harder. I went out for lunch today and had some sweet potato fries. I could have cried when MyFitnessPal informed me that a portion of them alone is 508kcal!

For dinner I try and make fresh low cal dinners if I can but there are of course days where I don’t have time to cook or just want to be lazy and free up some time. On those I’ve found that Weight Watchers frozen meals are a winner as most are below 350kcals but are really quite tasty and hearty.

Weight Loss Results

Protein World #30DayChallenge

For the 30 days on the challenge I faithfully stuck to having a Slender Blend shake or porridge for Breakfast and another for either lunch or diner, along with one other normal, calorie controlled meal and some healthy snacks.

I’m 5 foot and started off weighing 7st 13lb and had dropped to 7st 9lb after a month which far surpassed what I’d expected to achieve.

It’s now been four months and I now drink one shake a day and two regular meals. Realistically with any kind of ‘diet’ you need to stick to it and when I have off weeks and cheat weekends I do tend to put on a pound and then have to be really good the next week to even things out again, but on the whole my weight is much more stable.

Going on a calorie controlled diet won’t be the right solution for everyone, but it has helped me to take control of my diet and feel better about my health, so I’ll never say never again…

…well not about calorie counting anyway! :p

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: Protein World kindly provided me with the products to take part in the 30 Day Challenge in return for my honest account of my experiences.

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Life Lately

Wow, we’re almost halfway through 2017 and I feel like I haven’t had a catch up with you all for ages! Let’s set that right shall we? Here’s a little glimpse of my life lately:

Martinis, Music and Muses

I recently attended Peterborough Queensgate Shopping Centre’s late night event called Martinis, Music and Muses. Lucky shoppers that evening found themselves treated to complimentary martinis, a 2hr DJ set from Lauren Pope and lots of special offers in the stores for that night only.

Megs, the blogger and vlogger behind the beautiful blog Wonderful You was on hand to offer style advice to those looking to freshen up their wardrobes for the Summer. Along with fellow #Qbloggers Kat and Sabina, I was invited to sit down with her for a chat.

Life Lately

It was fascinating getting an insight into her life as a full time blogger (newflash people – it’s not all glamour and an easy life, she works bloody hard!) and hearing her opinions and experiences on all sorts of topics from negative comments to travel blogging and creativity.

She really was a sweetheart and it was great to meet a success story who is happy to encourage and support smaller aspiring bloggers.

I bought a bike (and cried a bit!)

I never really got into cycling as a child and then when I decided to give it a go one year at Center Parcs I promptly flew over the handlebars on day one, winding myself and acquiring a split lip, two black eyes and gravelled cheeks. It wasn’t really the holiday look I’d been going for.

Life Lately

I’ve been wanting to conquer the fear for ages and my fella is really into cycling so he’s been helping me find my confidence again. I’m now the proud owner of a beautiful Giant Liv Road Bike, which ironically is in size XXS since I’m only 5 foot!

I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s been easy so far; after a few practice sessions I’m still really nervous and wobbly, currently riding slower than a six year old and I haven’t mastered changing gears yet because I don’t want to move my hands once they’re clamped in position! I also managed to burst into tears twice after getting frustrated at myself for being such a wuss which was horribly embarrassing.

Life Lately

However, I’m determined to succeed and each time I go out I improve on something, so I’m heading in the right direction.

Healthy Eating

So when I went through my breakup the only good thing about it was that I lost my appetite and dropped half a stone. Then I started dating again and you know what that means don’t you? I put it all back on! It’s not like I’m overweight or anything, just that I want to find that happy balance. I’ve been eating a lot of processed stodgy stuff and want to get back to more home cooked, fresh, clean meals.

My current favourite meal is either Chilli Salmon and Roasted Asparagus (which I intend to share the very simple recipe for on here soon) or The Londoner’s Egg Fried Cauliflower Rice.

Life Lately

I found that you can buy microwave cauliflower rice at the supermarket now which saves faffing about making your own at home as it’s really messy and fiddly and means that I can whip this bad boy up in less than 10 minutes – hoorah!

Flowers On A Budget

I love brightening the rooms of my home with big bunches of flowers but geez it’s expensive to keep replacing them! At the Ideal Home Show I came across a company called Cote Noire and they were selling faux flowers that looked so realistic that I couldn’t help but snap up several big bunches. I’m saving a small fortune and they are really handy as photography props too – such a good buy!

Life Lately

#NichollsTieTheKnott

Life Lately

My friend Tiffany married Sean at the weekend and oh my goodness what a beautiful evening it was! I partook in that special kind of dancing that you only do at weddings, pimped my Prosecco with unicorn dust and had to declare it a cheat day because just look at the spread they laid on! Oh and did I mention the pizzeria outside baking fresh pizzas to order and the ice cream van?

Life Lately

Tiffany, of course, made an absolutely stunning bride – you can check out the pictures on Instagram, just search #NichollsTieTheKnott.

Borough Market

*I debated whether to include this given the awful events that have since taken place there, but it is so unfair that such a beautiful, diverse part of London should now be associated with the cowardly, evil actions of the few rather than with the happiness that it has brought to so many on a daily basis. For that reason I decided to share my recent happy memories. My heart goes out to everyone affected.*

A few weeks ago I met up with my friend Fran for a catch up in London and she introduced me to foodie heaven at Borough Market. What a place!

With everything from cheese to chocolate to chutney to chilli and every spice imaginable, it offered an eclectic mix of foods and cultures spanning from every corner of the globe. We spent a glorious hour exploring the stalls and accepting all the free samples of deliciousness, before finding a corner barrel from which we could enjoy our Prosecco and chocolate as we watched the world pass by.

Life Lately

London, my heart breaks and at the same time is full of enormous pride for your never ending spirit – I love you!

LovedByLaura

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My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

Living on my own for the first time in my life means that I have complete freedom to decorate and furnish my home exactly how I want to. My funds are rather limited though so I’ve been tackling one room or section of a room at a time. At the top of my list was something I’ve been dreaming of having ever since I started blogging nearly 3 years ago: A cosy but functional office/creative space.

It has taken a while to pull it all together (I painted the room at Christmas and then it didn’t get touched for about 2 months) but finally it’s ready, so let me take you on the tour!

A Tour Of My New Office Desk Space

The walls were previously painted in colour but it was all looking rather dated and dark as the room sits in the shade. I opted to brighten it up by repainting the walls in my favourite shade, Sail White from Crown. Not only does it brighten the room to help me stay focused when I’m working, but it also doubles up as a perfect white background for my photography too. Now all of my blogging can be done from one creative space, whereas previously I had to lug white boards around the house which was a right faff!

The Desk Of Dreams

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

My biggest purchase was my office desk which I am totally and utterly in love with, to the point where a couple of my blogger friends have come to visit and the first thing I’ve said is “would you like to see my desk?”

It’s a smooth curvy number from Dwell and it’s in a gorgeous glossy white. It’s also wipe clean which means I don’t have to worry too much about what I put on it. So far it has coped with splodges of foundation, melted chocolate, spilled coffee and much more.

Once again it’s multi functional and makes the perfect photography flatlay surface too!

Desk Essentials

I always feel more productive and less distracted when things are tidy and in their place but when I’m working on a post I often need lots of items around me to refer to. This might be products I’m reviewing, accessories for styling photos, information packs and press releases and of course my trusty notebook and pen (nothing beats a handwritten To Do List!).

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

I found this beautiful rose gold tray via Georgie’s gorgeous inspirational ‘dressing your desk‘ post on As You Wish UK. It’s from Kiki K and it’s perfect for keeping my paperwork together.

I specifically wanted a retro style office flip clock and knew it was fate when I found this one which mirrors the rounded design of my desk.

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

My two copper baskets are from a seller on Not On The Highstreet. I use them to organise the products that I’m writing about that day and as a magazine/book rack so that I’ve got something to flick through when I’m taking a break.

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

As much as I love decorating the house in fresh blooms, this can be really bloody expensive to keep up! I came across Cote Noire at The Ideal Home Show who specialise in the most incredibly natural looking faux flowers. They were so popular that it was difficult to get past the crowds but I persevered and I am so pleased with my purchases!

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

Desk Accessories

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

I opted to soften up the stark monochrome with soft pink, rose and yellow gold accessories in candles, cups and plant pots. I’m really pleased with how these little trinkets have brought the space together and make it feel feminine without being too sickly sweet and girly.

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

…I did have to carry the fluffy pink cushion through a busy shopping centre though after Tesco didn’t have a carrier bag big enough for it. That’s dedication to the cause!

Office Desk Details

Hudson Desk White | Dwell | Buy it here
Retro Flip Clock | Amazon | Buy it here
Wire A4 Copper Tray | Kikki.K | Buy it here
Copper Baskets | Lisa Angel Homeware and Gifts via Not On The Highstreet | Buy it here
Notebook | Oh Deer | Buy it here
Mongolian Pink Cushion | Tesco Direct | Buy it here
Faux Flowers | Cote Noire | Bunches not available online, but website here
Nourish: Mind Body and Soul Book | Amazon | Buy it here
Scented “Light Up The Room” Candle | Kate Spade | Buy it here
More Scented Candles | Baylis & Harding | Bought mine in Tesco home section, website here
Alphabet Letter Mug | Matalan | Buy it here
Succulent In Gold Dipped Plant Pot | Tesco (bought in store)

I hope you enjoyed my office desk space tour. Next time we’ll explore my new lounge, but in the meantime I’m going to celebrate my new space with a cuppa!

My New Office Desk Space _ Interiors

LovedByLaura

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Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo

Well blimey, it has been AGES since I last posted! What have I been up to you might ask? Well, mainly working, revamping my entire house and trying to cram in sleep sometimes which hasn’t left me with much free time to do anything else recently!

I did manage to escape to the newly refurbished Showcase Cinema in Peterborough with my friend Tiffany though for a relaxing girl’s night to watch Fifty Shades Darker.

Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo

My local Showcase Cinema used to have a reputation for being rather old and past it’s sell by date (think sticky floors and rickety foam seats) but thankfully those days are over! Rebranded as a Cinema De Lux, the Peterborough Showcase Cinema has had a super swanky refurb with lots of gadgetry to satisfy my inner geek and make the whole cinematic experience more fun!

In the lobby we bought drinks and took our cups over to the dispenser to mix and match flavours and create our own perfect fizzy combination.

Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo

We ordered popcorn and figured that if we ordered one sweet and one salty bag, then we could mix those together too.

…what we hadn’t counted on was that the ‘large’ popcorn size is actually ginormous! As in, bigger than my head ginormous! Look at the size of it!

Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo

In the screen room we were delighted to discover that the cramped, fold up seats of old have been replaced by super spacious electric recliners. I’ve never felt so comfy in a cinema chair before! Usually I’m a complete fidget; constantly crossing and uncrossing my legs and shifting in my seat but with these babies I hardly moved a muscle during the film.

Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo

So what about the movie I hear you say! Well, it isn’t going to win any Oscars but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless! It’s a bit raunchier than the first one once it gets going but it’s funnier with it and is really quite a sweet romantic movie overall (umm… that is if you ignore Mr Grey doing a few weird things like command his former flame to ‘stay’ like an obedient dog or that time he takes his new girlfriend to his former dominatrix’s hair salon, because THAT was always going to be a smart move wasn’t it Christian?!).

Speaking of the Oscars, I arrived home one day to find a massive box of goodies waiting for me. Showcase Cinemas had made sure that I could watch the awards show in style by supplying me with champagne, sweeties, popcorn and everything that I’d need to play Oscars Bingo during the ceremony.

Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo

I was going to watch it on Sky the next day as they always show the highlights in the evening, but in the end I stayed up to watch the show live and had so much fun chatting and playing the Bingo with other night owls on Twitter that I didn’t go to bed until gone three.

Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo Peterborough Showcase Cinema De Lux Oscars Bingo

I was a bit miffed the next morning though when I realised that I’d fallen asleep just before the whole Best Film debacle. (If you don’t know about it, they announced the wrong winner who then went up and was halfway through their acceptance speech before being told that they hadn’t won after all – cringe!)

After a really fun Oscars week, it was soon back to a life of work and decorating. The good news is that it’s almost all done now , which means that I can reward myself with another trip to the cinema most probably – Logan and Kong both look promising!

Big thanks go to Showcase Cinemas for not only spoiling me rotten, but also treating Peterborough to such a cutting edge cinema that we can be proud of at last!

LovedByLaura
Disclaimer: The lovely people at Showcase Cinemas welcomed me to experience the new Cinema De Lux on a complimentary basis, however all views are honest and my own. (I mean, what’s not to love about squishy reclining seats after all?!)

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