Saturday in Brick Lane + A Cat Café*

Cat cafe near Old Street, London | Hello Victoria

*Technically, they specify that they are not a cat café, but it’s hard to describe the place without calling it that…

This past weekend, Richard and I decided that we just had to get out and do something. Too often when we have a day together, we waste it by relaxing around the flat all day. Now, I say wasted loosely here, as a day spent sleeping in, eating brunch, and watching a movie on the sofa is not a wasted day per se. It’s just that we often look back at months at a time, and feel like we haven’t really done anything.

Visiting the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

I always seem to take photos of Richard on trains – he hates it. I’m thinking of starting a series… or a coffee table book. 😉

So we considered our options and settled on visiting the market at Brick Lane! We had both been to Brick Lane on different occasions, but never on the weekend, when their markets are open.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. It was kind of small despite how much space there actually was. We’re both more into antiques than handmade stuff, and the market seemed full of screen printed clothing, or similar items. Not quite what we were looking for.

Visiting the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

Vintage cameras at the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

Vintage typewriters at the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

What they didn’t have in terms of stuff to buy, however, they made up for in stuff to eat! Nowhere near the options at Camden or Borough Markets, but they had momos! After living in Nepal, Richard has quite the affinity for those little Tibetan dumplings… so to say that he was ‘chuffed’ to see that stall, would be an understatement. And of course we had to share a sampling! We tried all the varieties except for vegetarian, and enjoyed them all. The spicy dip had quite the kick!

Momos at the Brick Lane market | Hello Victoria

Now, sharing a few dumplings isn’t quite enough for a full meal. There were some other amazing options available in the Brick Lane market, but we had another lunch in mind… salt beef bagels!

I had heard about the bagels here at Beigel Bake, as being the best salt beef in London. I’m a huge fan of spicy mustard and pickles… so these seemed right up my alley! But, if I’m being honest, I think the ones at Borough Market are better (controversial, I know). Maybe it’s the better pickles, but a lot of it is probably due to the fact that Beigel Bake cranks out like a bazillion of them each day, and they sort of just slap them together. Seriously, the lines there for bagels are mental. I like a bit more care with my food. (more…)

Visiting Camden Market, London

Camden Market, London | Hello Victoria

The other day, I happened to be near Camden Market for work, and thought I would wander the shops a while. If you live in London, then you’ll already be quite familiar with Camden Market, but for those who haven’t been, let me explain. Camden Market used to be this hub of alternative fashion, music, etc. The main street has tattoo shops and piercings aplenty, but lately tends to have become overrun with tourist traps. Once word got out about Camden, it got less alternative, and suddenly has 30 shops selling tourist kitsch along with the tattoos.

Camden Market, London | Hello VictoriaCamden Market, London | Hello Victoria

The main street is the kind of place to head if you’re in the market for a cheap pair of sunglasses, or phone case. But it’s the market itself that draws me in! Part food market, with open air stalls, and part handmade/antique sellers hawking scarves, jewelry, and the like. In the fall, it’s the perfect place to find a new scarf, or toque, and in the summer it’s a great place to find a new pair of sunnies, or a new bag! But in my case, it was the perfect excuse to try a fancy hot chocolate I had heard about.

Camden Market, London | Hello VictoriaCamden Market, London | Hello Victoria (more…)

Hello Lovely: Abstract Paintings

Abstract paintings by Lola Donoghue | Hello Victoria

abstract paintings by Lola Donoghue

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ll know that I’ve been trying to make a couple of abstract paintings for our living room. I’ve been having a hard time, and keep starting over because I don’t like how they turn out. The problem I have with painting something myself, is that I know I made it. I would probably like the painting if someone else had done it, but when I remember every brush stroke, I think it looks amature. Weird right? Does anyone else automatically hate their own handiwork?

I keep looking at photos of other paintings by artists that I like, but I don’t want to simply copy. I’ll probably never truly like my own work, but it’s cheaper than the alternative. Or at least that’s what I thought. There are lots of artists out there on places like Etsy these days, that can actually be quite affordable. Here are a few of my favorites.

Etsy

Lola Donoghue’s work were probably the first abstract paintings that I fell in love with. I’ve had my eye on her painting “Turn Left at the Pitch” for years now, and apparently she only has a few prints left, so I may need to buy it quick. She tends towards recognisable shapes, in bright colours, with plenty of pink and teal. She’s almost always on people’s lists of affordable abstract art, and for good reason!

Abstract paintings by Lola Donoghue | Hello Victoria

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I recently discovered Dan Hobday’s work and can’t believe how affordable his stuff is. I especially love that he does sets which pair together well for diptychs and tryptichs. There is a fair range of abstract styles, unlike many artists who tend to stick to one ‘look’.

Abstract paintings by Dan Hobday | Hello Victoria

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Camilo Matiz is another Etsy artist who does fairly colourful abstract paintings. They remind me a bit of Lola Donoghue’s work, with the colours and shapes.

Abstract paintings by Camilo Matiz | Hello Victoria

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Minted

Like Etsy, Minted have been a great resource for affordable art. Not only do they sell prints for the home, but they also do plenty of cards and other personalized items. They sell individual prints, as well as whole gallery walls, if you’re new to coordinating artwork.

Abstract paintings from Minted | Hello Victoria

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Making Your Own Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter recipe | Hello Victoria

I recently had a conversation with someone about sourdough bread. It all started when I mentioned I was a baker. He told me that there was a bakery near him that sold sourdough, but he didn’t know what it was or what all the fuss was about. I was quite happy to explain as I love talking about baking science.

See, sourdough isn’t a new thing. Despite its recent popularity, sourdough is what all bread used to be back in the day. Before breweries developed the commercial yeast that we now use today, the only kind of yeast we had was wild! Wild yeast is everywhere… in the air, on the walls, etc. – all you need to do is provide it with food, and water to let it grow!

Sourdough starter recipe | Hello Victoria

Make your own sourdough starter | Hello Victoria

They say Egyptians first discovered how to bake bread – someone left a bowl of a porridge type dish (made of wheat) lying around and discovered it started bubbling. I love the idea of whoever thought “let’s put this in an oven!” And since that day, we have been raising cultures of wild yeast to add air and flavor into our breads.

So, you want to make your own starter? You can go about it two different ways – first you can make one out of just flour and water, or you can use fruit and vegetables! Unwashed fruit contains lots of wild yeast on the surface, plus plenty of sugar inside to feed the yeast culture. Grapes are an obvious choice, but really any fruit and certain vegetables will do (apparently beets work). (more…)

Hello Shopping: H&M Home

H&M Home store interior | Hello Victoria

H&M Home store photo from Ideal Home

Unless you’ve been asleep for the last 20 years or so, you’ve definitely heard of H&M. Their low priced clothing and accessories have been a staple in many people’s wardrobes for the last few decades – as the second largest clothing retailer in the world, it has stores in 62 countries. You’ve probably been to one before, and mostly likely own a piece or two of their clothing. But did you know that they also sell home decor items?

I first heard about H&M Home a few years back, but hadn’t seen any of their items until I moved to the UK. There are a few stores here that sell their home decor line, but otherwise you can purchase it online. As with their clothing, the home decor items are current, on trend, and cost effective. Pretty much the perfect thing for someone like me, ha! Our flat still feels like it needs more finishing touches and accessories, yet I don’t have money to burn on frivolous things.

Most of the items that they sell are kitchen/table based, as well as some pillows, picture frames, and other items. I wish they had furniture or lighting, but I still love the rest of the stuff they have. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they sold sofas and tables? I can only imagine how sleek, minimal, and functional they would be.

So, have you seen their stuff in stores? Do you like it as much as I do? Here are some of my favorite H&M Home items in stores now.

Textiles

H&M Home textiles | Hello Victoria

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Beetroot Ravioli: Making your own Striped Pasta

Beetroot ravioli recipe | Hello Victoria

When I used to work in Vancouver, BC, my office was right near Granville Island. Every now and then, when I forgot my lunch, I would wander over to the Granville Public Market to see what took my fancy. One of the stalls I always stopped to admire, was the fresh pasta from Duso’s. The flavour combinations were always inventive, and they would add stripes to their pasta! Ever since seeing them, I have wanted to make my own striped pasta.

A few years back, I was given a pasta roller as a Christmas present. It was a most unexpected gift, as it was from a secret santa exchange, and I didn’t know the person who had my name very well. It was absolutely perfect, as I had been dying to try my hand at making fresh pasta! And once you’ve mastered making plain pasta, striped or coloured pasta isn’t very far off! It’s not any more difficult, but it is time consuming – oh so time consuming…

How to make striped pasta | Hello Victoria

Making fresh ravioli is only really worth it if you’re going to make unusual flavours. It takes so much time, that’s it’s not worth making regular cheese or spinach pasta. You have to mix together the dough, allow it to rest, make the filling, roll out the dough, fold + roll some more, then fill and cut the ravioli. Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure if I’m a masochist, or just love to cook and bake. It’s up for debate. 😉

To make your pasta striped, you have to mix together both regular dough, as well as coloured. While you could use food colouring, good coloured pasta is made with natural ingredients. Cocoa powder makes brown, beetroot powder for red/pink, spirulina powder for green, tumeric or saffron for yellow, and tomato paste for orange. All of those ingredients have intense enough colours, so you only need a little bit.  It means that they won’t alter the flavour of your pasta considerably. (But remember, the colour of the pasta will lighten when you boil them.)

How to make striped pasta | Hello Victoria

As I was making beetroot filled pasta, I opted to add beetroot powder to 1/4 of the dough recipe, substituting for 5-10g of the flour. It gave it a lovely bright fuschia colour. You’ll need to experiment to see how much colour ingredient you need to get your desired shade.

How to make striped pasta | Hello Victoria

Okay, now the instructions for how to make fresh ravioli (using a roller). It’s a bit of a long explanation, but stay with me! If you already know how, and just want the recipe for the filling, scroll to the bottom! (more…)

Convent Garden Antiques Market

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Covent Garden is known for being a part of London full of designer shops, and fancy restaurants. Wander around this area and it’s all Chanel, Burberry, and Louis Vuitton as far as the eye can see. But, if you visit on a Monday, you’ll find something quite different from the usual finery.

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Covent Garden antiques market | Hello Victoria

Every Monday the Apple and Jubilee markets at Covent garden make way for antiques! Once home to fruit and vegetable sellers back in the day, these markets are usually home to stalls selling handmade wares and lots of touristy kitsch. The antiques you find on Mondays are a refreshing reprieve from what you find the rest of the week. They tend to set up a bit later than most markets, so if you end up there too early, just wait until closer to 11 or 12. I thought that being there around 10:30 would be late, but half the sellers were still setting up their wares. (more…)

Plaster vs. Plastic: Installing a Polystyrene Ceiling Medallion

Installing a polystyrene ceiling medallion | Hello Victoria

A long way back, I wrote about how we installed a plaster ceiling medallion (‘ceiling rose’ here in the UK) in our living room. It was far more difficult than we originally thought, due to the weight of the large plaster ceiling medallion (we used this one from B&Q). So when it came time to finally add another ceiling medallion to our bedroom, we decided to try a polystyrenee one instead!

See, we were lazy, and didn’t want to spend all that time and money on installing a plaster ceiling medallion. That, and the fact that the selection was incredibly limited at local DIY stores – we couldn’t find one in the right size that wasn’t insanely expensive. So, after our success in installing plastic coving in our kitchen, we decided to go the same route with our ceiling medallion. Plus, it takes like 5 minutes to put up!

We ordered this ceiling medallion from Amazon, as the middle circle was large enough to accomodate our IKEA pendant light. Many medallions had detailing too close to the middle, or were too pricy. This one had detail right in the center, but the smooth expanse around it was wide enough for our needs. We simply cut away the middle detail, as our light would cover it anyways.

Installing a polystyrene ceiling medallion | Hello Victoria

When we received it, I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t smooth and ready to paint, like our coving had been, but resembled polystyrene packaging. It had that rough nubbly surface. So, I thought I would try a trick I read about on Daniel Kanter’s blog Manhatten Nest. He painted his plastic medallions with watered down plaster/filler to help make them look older. I mixed up some, but I think I made it too wet… when my first coat of primer dried, huge cracks formed all over the surface!

Installing a polystyrene ceiling medallion | Hello Victoria

I was sooooo bummed, as sanding a detailed medallion is ridiculous. I tried to remove the larger cracks with sanding, and then hoped that a few coats of primer would fill in the rest. Well, it took like 6 coats before they started to look okay, but even then had more texture than I would like. After primer, I used our ceiling paint to do a couple more coats. (more…)

Hello Lovely: French Seam Details

French mattress cushion inspiration | Hello Victoria

french mattress cushions from Restoration Hardware

A while back I found myself obsessed with french seam mattress cushions. A bit weird of a thing to be obsessed with, but I loved their look. The French seam adds a lovely detail to ordinary fabrics that is subtle, but just makes the item look more tailored. A bit fancy… how french?

So as I’ve been drafting up ideas for upholstering our bed, or making floor pouffes, I keep coming back to the idea of french seams.

Right now, I am thinking of making a sort of bed slipcover for our white MALM storage bed frame. Something that won’t involve taking the whole thing apart, but will make it look like I did. 😉 In the end it’ll look sort of like this bed, but with french seams all along the edges.

Upholstered bed frame inspiration | Hello VictoriaUpholstered bed frame inspiration | Hello Victoria

Restoration Hardware bed frame

I figure I can add some plywood to make the headboard taller, then pad with foam and batting. After that, I’ll make a bedskirt to cover the base, and a fitted cover for the headboard. I may even make them all one piece, but I’m unsure as of yet. Does that make sense? The headboard will have seams all around like the one below.

French seam headboard inspiration | Hello Victoria

french seam headboard inspiration

My original inspiration came from this bed’s headboard. Then when I was googling more inspiration, I came across some photos of headboards with simple bed skirts, and my idea was realized. It’ll be easier than trying to upholster each piece of the bed frame, and then put it all back together. (more…)

Visiting Old Spitalfields Market: Traders Market Days

Spitalfields Traders Market | Hello Victoria

When I first moved to the UK, and Richard and I were setting up our flat, I wanted to find some antiques. My style tends to run a bit eclectic, and I like a good mix of new and old furnishings. As we were buying so much stuff at IKEA, I wanted to find some antique markets in London that I could visit without having to drive a few hours. One of the first that popped up, was the Old Spitalfields Market. But the thing with this market, is that it only does Antiques on Thursdays, and has what it calls a Trader’s Market most other days. It also does some other one day markets (sometimes just once a month), so visit their website for more information.

So if you’re in the market for antiques, go on Thursdays, but the other days are interesting too! Spitalfields has a number of food trucks and stalls, and even just completed a new food hub, dubbed the Kitchens, in the middle of the market. If you’re in the neighbourhood, it’s a great place to grab lunch! When Richard and I stopped by recently, we were on our way to another part of London for dinner, and just wanted a snack. He had some prawn dumplings from Dumpling Shack, and I got a lamb shawarma from Berber and Q. As he put it “I won” the afternoon snack competition, because my food was waay better value for the money, and looked awesome!

Spitalfields Traders Market | Hello Victoria

I had seen someone else receive their shawarma and thought, that looked good! Nothing beats melt in your mouth meat, tahini, chili sauce, and pickled jalapenoes!

Spitalfields Traders Market | Hello Victoria

But food isn’t all Spitalfields Market has on offer! Around their new kitchens hub, the market has begun constructing scandi style stalls for their traders. It used to be more fold out tables and white fabric, but now each vendor gets a little wooden booth.

During the Trader’s Market you can find plenty of handmade and local clothing, accessories, and jewelry. I got a lovely necklace from Richard last year, from trader Littlesmith – a custom bar pendant with the GPS coordinates of where we met. (I know – he’s a keeper!) I would say that more than half the stalls cater to women, with scarves, purses, dresses, and jewelry taking up more than their fair share. However, you can find leather jackets, funny silk screened shirts, antique maps, and artwork. A little something for everyone. (more…)