London Lights, City Nights

As lockdown restrictions ease and the world gradually kicks back into motion, it’s clear that the tunnel back to normality will certainly be a long one. It would seem life as we know it has changed forever and whilst the damage to our economy has been disastrous, perhaps this momentary pause on life was what our minds, bodies, souls and most importantly this world needed?

Edit00005Despite my frustration of not working and being unable to indulge in my usual social activities, I’ve made the most of this time to work on some personal projects which have lead me to rediscover my creativity and imagination.

Edit00008The other week me and my boyfriend ventured out to another awesome shoot location, this time heading into London at night to get the full city in lockdown experience. With deserted streets and nowhere open in the centre of town, it was super eerie and surreal to see the bustling city of London now a ghost town.

Edit00012After getting a little lost around Canary Wharf, we finally reached this futuristic bridge located at One Canada Square underground station. It was the perfect moment to capture some epic shots as we had the entire place to ourselves.

Edit00007 Looking down the symmetrical lines of the tunnel echoed that view through the arches at Ouse Valley Viaduct bridge which we visited last month. In contrast to the viaduct, this modern walkway situated in the urban jungle of London, felt like we had left planet earth and were in some sort of a spaceship. It was a unique opportunity during lockdown to see the city of London so quiet and serene.

Edit00004 As nature flourishes and we as humans take a break from our usual busy lives, its significant to note how hectic our pre-covid lifestyles were. The compassion and kindness which has come to light during this time is also overwhelming and proves our resilience as human beings. So as we plummet back towards our ‘normal’ way of life, lets remember how this time in isolation brought us together and proved that not everyday has to be go, go ,go!

Magic Bullet; Four Fun Recipes

Happy Thursday guys! I’ve been busy this week experimenting with recipes using my new Magic Bullet, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite creations on here with you.  After shopping around online I found this Magic Bullet blender, mixer and food processor on Amazon for just £34.99, a fraction of the price you’d pay for a NutriBullet. It comes with all the essential extras including small and large blender cups, a stay fresh lid, a steamer lid and a flip top lid for on the go. All of the parts are easily washable and its sleek, compact design makes this the perfect counter top utensil.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe set also came with a handy recipe guide full of useful tips and tricks for making the most of this versatile machine. I was excited to learn you can even make cocktails with it! Anyway, here are some of my own creations for some healthy food inspo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStarting with the most basic of recipes I have tried so far, I decided to make my own almond butter from scratch. The principle is simple: roast a bag of plain unsalted almonds, pour into the processor and blend until a nut butter consistency is formed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow this does take some time and patience, so I would allow about 10-15 minutes of processing and every so often opening the cup to combine all of the almonds. It’s very satisfying when the butter does finally come together and seeing the consistency progress until a super creamy almond butter is formed.

Edit00013You can see from this series of photos as the texture changed – the more you blend it, the more creamy and smooth it becomes. It is however important to note that the Magic Bullet did seem to get very hot during this whole process, so do make sure to take regular breaks for it to cool down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was surprised at how well this turned out and the amount it made from just 200 grams of almonds. You can of course try this method to make any kind of nut butter and perhaps experiment adding some flavourings such as salt or honey to enhance the taste. This is such a pure and wholesome home made alternative to store brought nut butters, which often come packed with unnecessary sugars and oils.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy next recipe is another simple 3 ingredient store cupboard staple useful for breakfasts or a sweet snack anytime of day. Rawnola is a stripped back healthy take on granola using only dates, oats and coconut. For a single serve I just used 2 medjool dates, half a cup of rolled oats and a quarter of a cup of desiccated coconut.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlitz the dates a few times before adding the other ingredients, then just a few more 10 second pulses and the rawnola is formed. Be careful not to over blend it though as it will become too dusty, whereas the desired consistency is little clusters like a granola. Believe it or not, this actually tastes like cookie dough!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe original creator of this recipe, Loni Jane, became an Instagram sensation with her creation back in 2012 and ever since people have gone mad for this nutritious delicious snack. Whilst I enjoy using rawnola in a cereal bowl soaked in coconut milk and topped with plenty of fruit, the possibilities don’t end there. Try rolling the mixture into bliss balls, enjoy sprinkled on top of smoothie bowls, bake in the oven for a crunch or even add chocolate for an extra sweet treat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARawnola can be made in single batches as I have done here, or alternatively multiply the ingredients to make a larger batch which can be stored in a jar for up to a week in the fridge. No additives, no preservatives or artificial flavours, just a pure wholesome snack which will have you reaching for more!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith summer heating up here in England, my go-to recipe with the Magic Bullet has definitely been smoothie bowls. There are numerous combinations and flavours to try with smoothies and with just a few simple tips, you’re sure to have a super thick bowlful every time. Frozen banana, ice cubes and of course the work of the Magic Bullet will provide you with the basis for a perfect consistency whatever combo you opt for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrozen fruits are preferable and I’ve even tried adding a little bit of frozen cauliflower to fluff up my smoothies, which actually worked really well and added volume to my bowl. Serve in a coconut for those tropical aesthetic vibes and don’t skimp on those toppings, particularly the rawnola!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, moving onto a savoury recipe, I decided to make a roasted butternut squash and carrot puree. This is another useful one for meal prep, as the mixture can be stored in a jar and kept in the fridge for a ready made sauce or even just a dip.

Edit00030Once again this is a super simple process using minimal ingredients. For 1 jar full, cut about half of a butternut squash and 1 carrot for roasting. Bake for around 20 minutes, then place in the food processor along with garlic powder, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and a dash of almond milk. Begin to blend and gradually add a little water to loosen the mixture until a thick puree is formed. Taste and adjust seasoning as required, perhaps adding more nutritional yeast if you would like a cheesy sauce.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a tablespoon of this batch straight away for a creamy pasta and stored the rest in a jar for the week. Again, I would encourage you to get creative with this idea as you could use many other combinations of vegetables and seasonings, such as sweet potato and chipotle or cauliflower and cheese.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUpon review of the Magic Bullet, I am extremely impressed with the diversity of ways in which you can utilise it’s functions. Having one small and compact device which blends, mixes and processes food all in one makes food prep quick, easy and fuss free. I can’t wait to try some of the suggested recipes in the booklet and I know those handy on the go lids will come in useful when I finally return to work.

Polaroid Insta Feed Collage Creation

Since the days of social media and sharing our photographs online, the demand and popularity for printing pictures has very much decreased. With my mum being a photographer herself, I’ve grown up in a house full of pictures which still take me back to some wonderfully nostalgic memories over the years. This passion for capturing moments and cherishing them in the form of photos has definitely rubbed off on me, so I’ve always loved documenting my life through the camera too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven as a nineties baby who shares a lot of photos online, I’ve continued to print my favourite pictures over the years to create albums, collages or to frame on my wall. When I moved to Australia two and a half years ago, it became less of a priority to be printing all the photos from the incredible memories I was making at the time, yet I always knew I would create an album or collage when I got chance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were a lot of fantastic photos from my time living in Australia, so it was hard to narrow down the final polaroids for this section of the collage. In total I decided to make my creation span the past two years of my life – from moving to Aus, my brother getting married and then travelling again with my best friend back in January. Choosing my images for print was challenging, so I would recommend allowing the time to thoroughly scan your social media posts and all of your albums to get the very best of your pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInspiration to make this Instagram feed style collage came from one of my favourite Swedish influencers Janni Olsson Deler – https://janniolssondeler.com. The concept is simply to recreate a retro style timeline of prints across a certain period of your life, however you could also use this idea to collage a special event such as a wedding or birthday. It was the perfect solution for summarising the highlight reel of the past two years of my own travels and adventures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first step to making your collage is to find a suitable frame, preferably as large as possible. Then once you know the size of your frame, you can order the suitable number of polaroids to fit. My frame was 50cm x 70cm and the polaroids which I managed to get in a mini size from Inkifi were 5.5cm x 8.5 cm, so doing the maths I figured out I could fit 8 across by 8 down, equalling 64 polaroids in total. I decided to order about 10 extra prints as I wanted to see them all laid out first to perfect the balance of colours and compositions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt only £0.25 per mini Polaroid I ordered from Inkifi.com which proved not only reasonable on price, but also brilliant quality prints with perfect colour and a lovely matt finish. The only other element to consider is what you will be sticking your polaroids onto. I simply used the white paper insert which came in the frame along with a good old fashioned glue stick to secure each print in place. After measuring the boarder width and length each side, I began lining up and sticking each polaroid on side by side.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce complete, it’s time to open up your frame and give the glass a good clean inside and out, before placing in your final piece. I was so pleased with the overall outcome of my collage and couldn’t believe how easy it was to assemble. I purchased my frame from Ready Made Picture Frames in Basingstoke as this company has worked alongside my mum’s business for years, but equally you could easily find frames of all sizes online. Originally I tried hanging it above my bed, however this is a picture people need to get up close to in order to see the individual photos in detail, so I moved it to be next to my desk instead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis retro way of displaying your photos is not only aesthetically pleasing, but is also a perfect way to enjoy numerous snapshots all in one place. I will cherish my collage which encapsulates the past two years of my life, full of so many wonderful memories and exciting events. Who knows what the next few years will bring for me, but I can’t wait to make another polaroid collage following the next exciting chapter of my life.

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Perspective; Ouse Valley Viaduct Views

Finding new places and exploring local gems has become one of my favourite past times since travelling abroad has been off the cards over the past few months. I suppose being curious and adventurous is a given when travelling, however this time back home in the UK has forced me to discover some truly awesome spots right on my doorstep.

Edit 6The secret to finding these mysterious locations is through Instagram on which you can utilise the explore location tool. It’s a competitive market on the world of Insta for professionals to produce high quality content, so people are always going that extra mile to get the most epic shots.

Edit 5My most recent adventure with my partner in crime was Ouse Valley Viaduct Bridge in Sussex just past Gatwick. This was another hidden gem my boyfriend had tracked down via Instagram and we were both keen to get some unique golden hour snaps.

Edit 10Described as the most elegant viaduct in Britain, construction of the bridge commenced back in the 1830s and has continued to stand the test of time as a functioning railway bridge. Built through the undulations of the valley, the resulting view through that tunnel of 37 arches is spectacular.

Edit 1Composed of red bricks shipped all the way from the Netherlands along with smooth limestone, sunset hues cast stunning shadows through the viaduct at dusk. A playground for photographers, this bridge is truly unique for capturing different angles on symmetry and perspective.

Edit 4A final thought from me on Perspective; Stay in your own lane, comparison kills creativity and joy. 

Nourish Bowls; Zero Waste Dinners

When it comes to minimising food waste and making the most of your weekly grocery shop, the key is to have some basic store cupboard essentials as well as a little imagination. Using different herbs, spices, dressings and dips can turn the simplest of meals into something super tasty. Here are a few ideas for how you could create some healthy dinners packed with wholesome ingredients.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA simple vegetable dahl is a great way of using up those veggies and can easily be adapted according to what you have in stock. I used curry powder, a few chilli flakes and coconut milk to flavour the sautéed vegetables before adding the cooked lentils. Alternatively, you could easily swap those spices for any curry paste you may have leftover and replace the coconut milk for any kind of milk or plain yoghurt for an equally creamy consistency.

Edit00001My favourite nourishing bowl which always leaves me full and satisfied is a take on the classic buddha bowl. Choose a grain of choice for your base along with a generous mountain of salad greens, then top with your herby roasted veggies and sprinkle with seeds. I also finished this bowl with my current go-to dressing of hummus mixed with lemon juice and a splash of water. Any kind of creamy dressing you have to hand would work well on this too as well as those extra goodies like nuts, seeds or even a soft boiled egg for some extra protein.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re looking to vamp up your vegetables or perhaps win over that person who doesn’t usually enjoy them, making a simple batter or coating them in breadcrumbs and then baking, can turn veggies into something far more indulgent and appealing. I recently discovered the wonder of buffalo cauliflower wings (recipe on my blog – https://danianeka.wordpress.com/2020/05/19/recipe-buffalo-cauli-wings/) from which the batter made of flour and milk could also be used to coat any thickly sliced vegetable before roasting. Breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan or nutritional yeast if you’re vegan, is another way of adding a decedent crunch to your veg, particularly good on courgette chips.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving a well stocked pantry with the essentials is the secret to always having the means to throw together a balanced meal with whatever is going in the fridge. Know what your preferred herbs and spices are as these change the entire flavour of a dish. My current go-to ones would be garlic powder, herbs de provence (a mix of Italian herbs), paprika, curry powder and chilli flakes as well as the standard salt and pepper. In regards to a carb source I usually opt for couscous, quinoa, lentils, beans, chickpeas, pasta or noodles, again the typical store cupboard basics.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd finally, I am a condiment queen so I rarely have a meal without some kind of dressing or dip. Balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, ketchup and bbq sauce are my essentials, as well as chutneys and pickles which you will always find in my fridge. Whilst it’s good to use up fresh condiments such as hummus first, having some long life sauces are super handy for that finishing touch on your bowl of goodness. If your veggies are really on the turn, you could even make your own pickles, chutneys and reserves from scratch. These are just some tips and tricks on how you could make your groceries last longer and create delicious nutritious dinners from ingredients that may have otherwise gone to waste.

Studland Bay Sundowners

With some glorious weather heading our way a few weeks ago, it felt like summer already here in the UK and we were only in the month of May! Thankfully lockdown measures had slightly loosened their grip and we were finally allowed to drive to outdoor areas and even sit at distance from others in public spaces.

Edit00010As our favourite beach at West Wittering was closed, we still wanted to make the most of this mini heatwave and decided to head down south to a different beach instead. Studland Bay located in Dorset is a vast area of sandy beaches and heathland, overlooking the natural coastland rock formation of Old Harry Rocks.

Edit00004It was no surprise that everyone had the same idea to soak up the sun at the beach that week, especially with lots of people still not working. So it wasn’t until later in the day when the crowds slowly cleared that we were able to find ourselves a quiet, undisturbed view for sunset.

Edit00002It was perfectly serene over the bay as the sun showered golden hues over the water before slowly dipping below the horizon. Whilst we did have a few tinnies of G&T and crisps to nibble on, annoyingly cafes were still not open and there were no nearby shops to grab more food. A takeaway pizza or portable BBQ would’ve been the finishing touch to this idyllic setup.

Edit00007It was a truly picture perfect sundown at Studland Bay as we played some chilled background tunes and watched on at the mesmerising colour show across the sky, all created by the natural wonder that is the sun going to sleep.

Springtime Look Book; Eclectic Style

Style and fashion have always been a passion of mine and with the past few months in lockdown, my wardrobe has been lacking a bit of love! So having just received an order from Shein.com, I was inspired to film a spring themed look book featuring some of my new purchases.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like to combine higher end pieces alongside high street fashion to create a unique and eclectic style. Simply adding a designer pair of shoes, classic Daniel Wellington watch or statement sunglasses can turn an otherwise basic outfit into something far more stylish.

Edit00004Jewellery is also another important element when accessorising an outfit. My everyday pieces are gold or gold plated as it’s long lasting and compliments anything. A lot of these are from my favourite Portuguese jewellery brand CINCO, but mostly I shop my vintage jewellery in antique stores where you can find timeless designs which are also one of a kind.

Edit00006This was one of my favourite looks from the shoot as it combines that classic feminine silhouette of the fitted blazer, paired with those masculine Grenson chunky boots and oversized sunnies from KENZO. I would call this power dressing as I felt like a boss woman in this smart yet sexy outfit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMoving onto a more casual look, the backless white crop top, cute gingham hair scrunchy and old school Ray Bans completed this sports luxe combo. Comfortable and effortlessly cool, you can’t go wrong with this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve always been a lover of hats, so I jumped straight onto the baker boy trend when these came back around – I remember wearing those hats as a kid back in the millennium!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese little shoulder bags are another fashion which has come back around from the nineties. I think it’s fascinating how trends roll on round and we find ourselves digging back through our wardrobes or even wearing our parent’s vintage sunnies.

Edit00005Just being unafraid to experiment outside of your comfort zone makes fashion fun and exciting. Whilst current trends come and go in a flash, having style is timeless and can turn the simplest of outfits into the most killer looks.

VIDEO 8 THUMBNAILI had so much fun filming this spring look book and getting creative with alternative outfits for different occasions… now I can’t wait to walk out of lockdown in style!

Please checkout my video over on my YouTube channel @Dani Aneka – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnmyNWOutfk&t=1s 

Silent Pool Deep Blue Dreams

Nestled in the North Downs of Surrey you will find the natural wonder that is Silent Pool. This old chalk quarry fed by underground springs boasts stunning turquoise blue water surrounded by evergreen box trees, making for an ethereal atmosphere as you overlook the picture perfect lagoon.

Edit00005Being local to the area, it’s somewhere I’d heard a lot of great things about and been meaning to visit for a long time. There is of course the Silent Pool gin distillery based here too with its exquisitely designed floral blue bottle inspired by this luscious landscape.

Edit00008I’ve never seen such truly turquoise water in a naturally occurring pool like this before and the plush green trees overhanging the water create the most incredible reflections.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALegend has it that King John rode on his horse to the pool and abducted a woodcutter’s daughter, who he forced into the deep water and drowned. This folklore dates back to a book by Martin Tupper written in 1858 and it’s even rumoured that the maiden’s ghost can be seen by the pool at midnight.

Edit00002Given its otherworldly beauty and serene stillness, Silent Pool has been linked back to numerous historical stories like this and is even considered by some as a sacred site.

Edit00003I too felt very peaceful and calm by the harmonious elegance of the lagoon as we walked along the narrow paths enveloped in luscious greenery. A top tip would be to take a blanket and a little picnic to sit by the waterside and soak up the tranquility of such splendid surroundings.

Edit00004Next time I would be intrigued to take a tour of the gin distillery next door and have a proper insight into the history and background of Silent Pool. And if you’re looking for somewhere a little different to take a stroll or have a picnic with your partner or family, this is a truly unique spot which feels like heaven on earth ❤

Drinks Setup Aesthetics; Virtual Hen Do

Whilst we’ve missed out on catching up with friends and celebrating special events together in person during these past few months, at least we’ve had the wonders of technology to keep us connected. Swapping our Saturday night dancing shoes for the comfort of our sofa, socialising with groups of friends or family via video call has become the new norm.

Edit 3With it being my girlfriend’s postponed Hen Do date last weekend, we decided to throw her a surprise online Hen party. Having spoken a few days previous with the other Hens to plan some fun themed activities and games, one of the girls also put together a goody bag of our Bride’s favourite nibbles and even a fresh jug of Pimms, delivered to her door just before we all went online.

Edit 5Just like with any typical Hen Do, we did have a laugh discovering some naughty secrets and embarrassing stories – I can’t wait for the real thing postponed now to next year! I suppose lockdown really has brought people together in unique circumstances as we’ve learnt to keep in touch and socialise in new and imaginative ways. I’ve had some really fantastic Zoom meetings with colleagues, family and friends and although being in the confides of home, it’s a great excuse to get a bit dressed up and even put some makeup on for a change.

Edit 4I like to have an aesthetic background for my video calls too, so I’ve been utilising my desk space with my favourite ‘Stay Wild’ print complete with fairy lights and a bunch of fresh flowers each week. These exquisite little white Gypsophila flowers were the perfect finishing touch for the virtual Hen Do and they lasted over a week too.

Edit 1Soon enough we’ll be reunited with our nearest and dearest face to face, but I have also enjoyed the convenience of online socials. Needless to say, it will seem a lot more effort to head to even just the pub for drinks, now that we’ve become so accustomed to the luxury of a snuggly sofa and that bottle of wine ready by our side for top ups!

 

Date Night; Let’s Be Kids Again

Ok, so we might not be able to get dressed up and go to dinner and the cinema in town at the moment, but there’s nothing stopping us getting a little creative for date night. Last weekend we wanted to make another evening on the sofa a little more interesting, so decided to build an indoor den like back in the days of our childhood.

Edit 2The corner sofa in the lounge was the perfect starting point, then using two camera tripods we were able to lift the middle without too much obstruction inside. Another key element to consider when creating a den is what will secure the sheets together and onto things. For this I would recommend having pegs and elastic bands handy as well as using elements of  your furniture to secure it, such as tucking it behind the sofa cushions or trapping it inside the fastening of a tripod.

It does take a bit of trial and error to get it right, but this is all part of the fun and tests your ability to work together of course. Once the skeleton of our den was complete, I went about making all the finishing touches using plenty of blankets and cushions for a super cosy interior. I also had a few strings of fairy lights which gave the perfect ethereal mood lighting for our dreamy den.

Edit 6Ready with a bottle of wine, popcorn and a movie, I was so chuffed with our awesome date night setup. We had envisioned sleeping in our creation for the night, however we realised that the tripod legs would be too much of an obstacle when trying to sleep! Instead we left it up for a couple days and enjoyed the change of scenery for a few evenings in front of the TV.

Edit 7Whether you do this with your partner, family or even housemates, it really is a fun way to shake up movie night at home during lockdown. I definitely felt like a kid again as we cosied up and escaped the madness of the outside world in our fairytale fort.

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