• FOOD,  LIFESTYLE,  Uncategorized

    Easter Monday treats and beats

    Nothing like working to some upbeat music. Today I am reflecting on some awesome beats and treats from yesterday, whilst getting ready for the day. My images wouldn’t upload yesterday, hence the delay in publishing this post. And I couldn’t resist throwing in a few more. There was something about this view of Oxford town centre yesterday that just made me stop. I think it was the light breaking through the clouds, and bouncing of people’s head. There’s definitely a message in that, but for now let’s appreciate this beautiful view.

    IMG_4816

    Music today has to be Leah McFall – whilst I know she has recently released her EP. I’m still felling this collab with Will.i.Am called ‘Home‘.

    Leah McFall music - home
    I am obsessed with pink blossoms right now, and so here’s another beautiful shot from a tree close to home. The season is clearly shifting, and these beauties never seem to last long so I’m making memories whilst I still can.  No filter was used in taking this shot.

    pink blossom trees

    cocktails
    Impromptu cocktails with the girls led to delicious tapas at Kazbar in Oxford. The atmosphere takes me to Morocco. The tapas are amazing, and according to one newspaper they were voted best Tapas bar in the UK last year. I would rate it 10 out of 10 myself. It is reasonably priced, with a great selection of food, cocktails, and friendly staff. I highly recommend.

    tapas from kazbar oxford
    Having moved to Oxford a few months ago, I have to say they have lots of nice places for food, great architecture and bars. It’s not London, but it has character and lots of posh people, and people with good style. You just might need a car to explore and find gems like The Fishes. I still think about the slow and low beef brisket, with creamy mash and spring greens to this day. It’s the kind of hearty meal you want in winter, or when you’re really hungry and it just makes you smile. The brisket meals in your mouth it’s so succulent and tender. Portion size is great too. Another great feature of this place was the generous garden space out the back, there were trees dressed with fairy lights and a picnic bench. I hope they turn it into a BBQ spot in the summer. Worth the drive out of the city.

    Slow cooked beef brisket, with creamy mash and spring greens

     

  • LIFESTYLE

    Spring into Easter

    Ok, so perhaps the title is a little off. Spring may make me happier, which in turn makes me a better person, right? Anyway, it’s been a minute since I’ve had a moment to upload and share some of my fabulous views and several mouth watering food sampling experiences.

    We’ve now crossed over to British Summer Time, the cherry blossoms are out, and my furry white hot water bottle is being used less these days – thank goodness! Winter feels long at this point, and have you noticed how everyone has bloomed like a bud in season, as the UK begins to waken up from it’s winter sleep.

    If you don’t already know, I am a Scottish chick living in the southern parts of the UK. I’m obsessed with cherry blossom trees (and sometimes trees in general), flowers, food and blue skies. I’m known for bursting into song (in appropriate moments) and I love tea, coffee, cake and cocktails! Not all at the same time, of course.

    Pause. Gosh, so much to update you on. Ok, here’s a few snaps from my trip into the city that is London, last week. I’ve definitely improved my photography skills over the years, and without blowing my own trumpet I am pretty happy with how these turned out.

    First up, I got a new dress! I love it! I am drastically needing a wardrobe update and this sweet piece from Zara was a steal for £29. I’ll update the link to this dress shortly. First time this year that I’ve been able to wear a denim jacket too. Thanks to the 23 degree heat that happened in London last Sunday.

    Popped into the new Chicken shop in Ealing with my friend for a bite to eat. We were pretty hungry, and the kind German waiter took his time to explain what was meant by a dirty burger. After a whole 5 minute chat about the thickness of bacon (my friend was affronted) I settled for a dirty bacon burger and my friend went for the dirty chicken burger. I forgot to take a picture of the food I was that hungry, but here’s a clip of pre-burger.


    If I had to rate this place, I’d give it a good 8.5 out of 10. Almost a s good as Honest burger, but the only thing I felt this place lacked was virgin mojito’s. I had just been out for some light drinks with friends the night before, and so these were firmly on my mind.


    OMG those olives though, with garlic were AMAZING. This was such a great night.

     

    Finished off the meal with ice cream in my favourite park. Who doesn’t love a Mr Whippy with raspberry sauce and a flake?
    Daisies for days…


    What a beautiful weekend. It felt light summer had arrived. A little bit of a different picture to this Easter weekend, but never let the quality of your weekend be determined by the weather!

    Happy Easter everyone! I’m about to take a load off, drink some tea and eat some chocolate big week with Frame Your World – we have two new stockists and fresh orders online. Then of course church on Sunday. Hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you decide to do.
    P.s I so wish I could have gone to the Easter Egg hunt in West London, but ran out of time.  If you can go, go

  • FOOD,  LIFESTYLE

    Weekend recap and Snapchat moments

    Hey guys! So I hope you all had a fabulous weekend, and Father’s day! I had the best time in Oxford with friends this weekend, and whilst I’ve been super busy with some exciting opportunities that have come my way. Here’s a few snaps from across the weekend… Had fun making fruit cocktails for the dad’s in church.  We also made some lemon punch and a poke of chips! These jars were so much fun. I want one for my home… I think Tiger has some! ​​These were my first encounter with banana pancakes and caramelised pears. No added sugar to them either (except those who opted for a white chocolate topping).

    The snapchat wouldn’t upload, so I decided to share a few things I love    and appreciate the role of a father from my experience. Anyone can be a dad, but it takes a man to be a father. I am blessed, and here’s a few of the reasons why. 

    This list of good things in reality for me is way longer, but I hope you can appreciate and start to think about at least one good thing about your experience of fatherhood. 

    There really isn’t anything like a fathers love and guidance, and whilst I appreciate we all have different experiences. It’s not a one size fits all.  I just want to encourage us today to think about the good qualities we have in the men around our lives and to encourage and celebrate those where we can. A father like figures in our life may not always be blood related for you, but who examples the good, the fun and the sound word when you need one? 

    So without further waffling. Here are just a couple of reasons you can be thankful for your day. One or none may apply to you, but I hope my brief list can inspire you. 

    1. He helps us identify our strengthens, and weaknesses (especially where boys are concerned).

    2. He provides and works hard to make sure we have what we need to live our best. 

    3. He sticks by me even when I drive him nuts (or the other way around).

    4. He has exampled to me that you can survive the storms of life. 

    5. He protects us and will come to our rescue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

    6. He thinks he’s always right and the kid is always wrong (but the kid knows that’s not always the true ?).

    7. He’s funnier when he doesn’t know it. He’s a hoot.
    Xoxo

  • COMMUNITY,  FOOD,  LIFESTYLE

    A royal weekend

    I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. London has been celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday! I have to admit I didn’t catch much of the celebration this weekend, but I did manage to catch some of the practice sessions of the Queens band for Trooping The Colour.

    https://www.periscope.tv/w/ai6Rvzc5MTM4MTh8MU93R1diVll6QkRLUZn3MpuIqhwgauumV7iWCqhb18mt_K7HRYc8Xm0tpqrO

    https://www.periscope.tv/w/ai6SDjc5MTM4MTh8MWpNSmdscG1Camx4THZfHoI6XY6ChGo_demmbHYjtAb96GRo-mF0H4mhA7Us

    In other news I’m on a mission to eat healthy, and educate myself of what foods best serve my body. I am enjoying finding new tasty ways to incorporate important ingredients into my diet, and as you may already know I love food, so here’s a few snapshots from my weekend. ​



    I also got £7 back from Oyster this weekend, so it was only right to treat myself to a Franco Manca pizza. Sourdough bread is much easier to digest than the original. It’s one of my favourites too. If you haven’t already tried, do check them out here. I rate this the best pizza in London by a mile. It had to be number 6 from their menu, chorizo, of course.

     

    I’ve been busy working my my new online collection, and making some rather important decisions right now for a new season in my life. All very exciting stuff. More will be revealed soon. 
    With much love

    Leanne 

    Xoxo

  • FOOD

    Saturday kitchen: chilli con carne  

    There’s nothing better than a bowl of homemade chilli when it’s cold and grey outside.

    Thanks to my friend I managed to make the best chilli I have ever had to the joy of making. I had to make a few adjustments as I didn’t have 500g of mince, so here’s what I went with.

    250g mince

    2 cloves of garlic 

    1/2 chopped onion

    1 chopped pepper 

    1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes 

    1/2 tin of kidney beans 

    1 beef stock cube 

    300ml boiling water

    1 tsp chilli powder 

    1 tsp coco powder

    3 tsp tomato purée 

    Pinch of cinnemon

    Chedder cheese to sprinkle 

    Basmati rice 

    Voila! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If you did, please let me know me@leannemacduff.com, and also any other variations of this yummy Mexican dish then please do share!  

     Enjoy! Xox

    Oh I took a snapchat too. ?

     
      

  • FOOD,  Uncategorized

    Smoked salmon love

    I have recently discovered the joy of poached eggs and salmon! It’s incredible, and despite years of turning down the cured fish for its raw appearance and texture. I am in love! ? 

    I don’t imagine this is news to anyone, but I was rather excited at discovering news ways to eat my favourite ingredients, and found a bunch of greens, with a slice of lemon brought a fresh and delightful lunch to the table. 
     

    P.S I find using the cling film technique to making poached eggs much more effective than the silicon cups I bought from Robert Dyas. If you’re not familiar with this technique, then get a cup and wrap some cling film over the cup and pour the egg into the cup. Add some salt and pepper to season, and wrap the clingflim into a nott before popping into simmering hot water (not boiling). This creates the perfect shaped poached egg in 4 mins (depends how you like the). I used to make them without, and got frustrated with some bad attempts that left me scrapping the egg off the bottom of the pan. 

    As January diets and resolutions kick in, I thought I’d share two other light but deliciously tasty, and fairly cheap dishes that will keep you fuller for longer. Did I just quote a cereal advert?

    Anyway this meal costs £5 and would make 4 meals (if you portion the cheese and beetroot).

     

    This tasty salad comprises of cous cous, beetroot and feta cheese, with spinach leaves. Masterchef eat your heart out. ?

    And one of my favourite ingredients (but not so healthy) Chorizo and mediterranean veg, sprinkled with parmesan. Ingredients for this meal cost me £6 including the parmesan, which lasts for weeks. This will stretch a few dishes too. 

    Hope you enjoyed my very quick cheap eats blog. If you have any quick and cheap eats then please do share, or if you try any of these let me know what you think below.  

     

  • BLOG,  FOOD,  LIFESTYLE

    The randomness of my day

    I cannot begin to tell you, or share the most amazing season of my life. 2015 has been nothing short of a miracle, and a so many stories to tell and share. Much of which will remain undercover for now, but I just want to share a little bit of my heart today.

    First, let me introduce you to this fantastic album, and one of my favourite songs right now. Hillsong United from their album Empire.

    Summer is making a subtle appearance. Today’s temp reached 18 degrees! We’ve just had a bank holiday weekend in the UK, and besides having a fantastic weekend, I was happy to go back to work today. I’ve recently discovered that I get more done when I’m under pressure with time. Spending most of my day in meetings, and checking various social media channels for updates, I did stop for a quick bite to eat for lunch – homemade curry from scratch! I don’t really have a picture to show you. :/ Darn it! Next time.

    Then today there was a mass of black cabs blocking the roads around Victoria. The word on the street is that they are not happy with TFL and protesting against Uber. I’m not a Uber customer, but I hear a lot of people use them because they’re cost effective and convenient. I caught the guys on camera. And I thought it was pretty cool.

    On other news today, I picked up my favourite magazine on the way home from Charing Cross.

    IMG_8491.JPG
    Oh yes, I have the luxury of travelling anywhere between zone 1-4 this week! It’s pretty sweet not having to think too much about the cost of my route! This week I can pretty much travel whichever way I like. My fellow Londoners will understand my pleasure. Time really is money in this city.

    Returning to the subject of the Stylist magazine for a moment. They’ve recently updated and changed their font, which I’m really sorry I don’t like. I get it must be boring for them to have to work to the same template for so long, but the smile on my face dropped when I opened up the pages. #justsaying

    How awesome are the light nights. I can hear the birds singing outside as I type this. I’m so excited. I need to go. Just made the most scrumptious salad. See photo above. MasterChef eat your heart out! ;)Now I must go prepare some strawberries and cream before settling down to do a little bit of work. Family are in town this weekend, so lots of planning to do in between. It’s another big week, but these are the best!

    Au Revoir!

    Xox

  • BLOG,  FOOD,  LIFESTYLE

    Spontaneous photography and MasterChef Uk final!

    It’s been so long!

    I’ve been rather busy with life, and all the fun elements that has to offer. I still love my job, challenges and all. I have so much that I want to do and experience, and doing my best to tick them off, whilst staying focused on the main areas of life that I’m building on. There is so much to be thankful for. If anyone follows me on Instagram, you will notice a theme in some of my photos, which I call #30daysofthankful. This hashtag probably rings alarm bells for grammar police, now that I think about it. However, it’s been one of my favourite things to do, and a source of strength on days that aren’t all that fun.


    They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Thankfulness is something I am particularly working on right now, and it’s serving me well. I also think it helps keep things in perspective.

    I hope this finds you well. I’ve just parked up in Starbucks (my favourite haunt) to push through this my latest writing project. I am so tempted to start the next book, but determined to finish what I’ve started first.

    This week is Colour conference, where thousands of girls will gather to refresh, energise, and challenge each other to be the change in our world. This will be my first Colour conference, and its suffice to say I am expecting a life changing week.

    Have any of you been following @MasterchefUK? I watched the final last night, and it was epic. I’ve followed this programme for a while, but this was by far my favourite episode/series to date. All three finalist were highly skilled, and appeared worthy winners. Watching winner Simon Woods pursue his dream, with humility and great diligence was more than inspiring. It was magical.

    His passion for food, and gift for cooking was evident for all to see. I think what touched me the most is his endurance to push through the nerves, to be open and teachable, and his determination to not give up. I’m sure he has felt like giving up many times over the years of his life, and what we see in the final few steps of his breakthrough is only a snippet to the years of perseverance he has endured.

    “Perseverance produces character, and character hope.”

    Here’s few of my favourite pictures from memories I’ve create over the last month.

               
    Until next time.

    Xx

  • BLOG,  FOOD

    A ragu kind of day

    I made beef ragu today, in the slow cooker! It was so amazing, and I’ve got loads left. This is my second attempt with the slow cooker in a month. Although given the complexity of this recipe (which really means it included red wine) I feel like I should be given a star or something for cooking something so grown up. Most of my meals are packed with taste, but equally simple and easy to make; like fajitas, chilli, spaghetti. They’re not really rocket science; although, I do believe I have found the best secrets for each (in my humble opinion). And I get to have loads left for lunch the next day! Bonus.

    I’m trying to make a slow cooker meal one once a week. Last week it was pulled chicken using things like apple cider vinegar. Again, feeling rather grown up in the kitchen. Gone are the days of beans and toast with a sprinkle of cheese! Haha Slow cookers are great for making bulk food that can be yummy, healthy and hearty in cold nights like tonight too.

    The truth is it doesn’t really matter what you through in, it’s bound to he good and ready in 6-8 hours on high. Just prep your ingredients and bunk it in the pot! Viola! 6-8 hours later and we’re done! Perfect for living a city lifestyle.

    It also means you can do other things. Like today I could work on photoshopping images, and not concern myself with cooking as I stayed home to wait on the delivery of my new desk and drawers!!

    Here’s my quick recipe and step by step guide on this delicious dish. The end product is even better and taster.

    Xox

    Step 1.

    Cut up the onion, and bung in some fresh rosemary. I recommend fresh because it smells so good!

    (null)

    Step 2

    There was some debate around should I brown the mince first or not. Google didn’t help, so I decided to brown it first. My mum always says it takes the fat off too, although, when I bought it said 8% fat, which doesn’t sound like a lot…?

    (null)

    Step 3

    Bung everything in, and let it simmer on high for 6-8 hours. In here you’ll find:

    1 x 400g tin of chopped tomato
    1 x tube or tin of tomato purée
    125ml (1/4 cup) red wine
    250ml (1/2 cup) of beef wine broth
    Season of salt and pepper
    4 garlic cloves

    (null)

    This is by far the easiest and tastiest recipe I’ve made in a long time. I used cheddar cheese to finish as I didn’t have parmesan, and it was still good.

  • BLOG,  LIFESTYLE

    New Year, New Opportunity 2015

    I’d like to wish you a very happy new year! 2015 is officially here, and after dancing till 4am, it is safe to say that I am well and truly hungover (and I wasn’t even drinking). I hope you all had a great New Years Eve, and day. I happily lay in bed till lunch, then headed out for a full English at Frankie and Benny’s with my bestie – There is nothing like a fry-up and fresh orange to cure a hangover.

    On the subject of food, I would just like to say that I normally go to BHS on these occasions as they do a 6, 8 or 10 piece breakfast for under £4. Today, I was surprised and delighted to discover that Frankie and Benny’s offer an 8 piece for £5 (especially when I was expecting to pay £10). I was less impressed to discover the Henzi baked beans they emphasised in their menu came out as 10 beans on my plate. Yes, you could actually count them. To give you another idea of size, it was about a teaspoon. We had to ask for extra beans, which they charged us £2 for. Crazy, but true.

    I spent the rest of the day chilling and watching TV with a few of the coolest people I know on the planet.

    Now most of today I choose not to think to hard, and enjoy my day off. However, as I lay in bed pondering the weirdness of the new day, and my plans for year ahead. I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how I’m choosing to live in 2015.

    **warning**
    I don’t want this to be another feel good blog post. The internet is swarming with those. It is far too easy to be distracted and lose focus in the multi-faceted society that we live in today.

    1. I will do more of what I love this year – I really want to invest more into growing my blog and you tube channel. I’ve been blogging for around 6 years, but I feel like I haven’t put my roots down. Whilst I look at other amazing bloggers, who have carved out a clear niche for themselves. I have decided just to keep doing the many things I love more, and I believe that by doing this the rest will become clear and fall into place.

    2. Get to know myself – This may sound strange, but it’s possible to go through life and never really discover who you really are. It’s deeper than knowing what you like, and dislike? Although that’s good too. It includes knowing what truly makes me happy, and how to process my thoughts and emotions. If we don’t understand how we work, how on earth will anyone else? This relates to the career your after, the relationship you want, the kind of life you want to lead. I’ve come to learn that successful people don’t achieve their dream based on intellect alone. We need to be able to tap into the instinctive nature within.

    3. Make good decisions – I have decided to be active in changing my tomorrow, by making good decisions today. I have accepted that making no decision, is making a decision; and I want to make less of those kind and be intentional about my life. I didn’t always follow through in 2014, so I’ve want to change that by taking a step to prepare for a better year ahead.

    I’ve also decided on three areas that I want focus and see grow this year. I believe that to bare fruit (live successfully) in 2015, then I’ll have to sow the appropriate seed (action), and water it (positioning ourselves, and being consistent) until harvest.

    I know this may sound cooky, but if there is one thing I’ve learnt in 2014 it would be the importance of guarding and feeding my mind with the right stuff. If we don’t feed our minds, our minds, the internet, our peers, and culture will feed us and as someone wrote the book ‘We Are What We Eat.’

    …And so to bed. Zzzz

    What are your three areas, or situations that you would to see change in your life they year? I’d love to hear them, so please share. 🙂

    Xox

    P.S I love this Instagram post from @propelwoman

    IMG_6409.JPG