Kenya: Shaba National Park + Mt. Kenya Safari

Enjoying Sarova Shaba Lodge | Hello Victoria

Okay, so after we left Samburu, we started on our way towards Shaba National Reserve. We were headed for some relaxation after a few days spent driving around on safari. The two reserves are right beside each other, but it took longer than expected to get there due to the ‘locals‘.

Shaba National Reserve | Hello Victoria

See, we ended up caught in the thick of a massive herd of camels! The locals tend to herd their livestock through the reserves, which can often scare off the more exotic animals. In this instance, I didn’t mind too much, as I happen to love camels. On my bucket list is to do a camel safari through the desert, and stay in a bedouin style tent.

Shaba National Reserve | Hello Victoria

Once we got through the camels, it was pretty quick up to the Sarova Shaba Game Lodge. The terrain here, despite being so close to Samburu, was far more rocky, and looked fairly volcanic. As we got closer to the lodge, the rocks gave way to trees and then the river that runs alongside the resort. Shaba Lodge was a lot ‘fancier’ than Samburu, and we wanted to make the most of our two days of relaxation. So we checked in to our room, and headed for lunch.

Enjoying Sarova Shaba Lodge | Hello Victoria

Enjoying Sarova Shaba Lodge | Hello Victoria

Enjoying Sarova Shaba Lodge | Hello Victoria

We pretty much spent the next two days in and around the pool, reading our books and snoozing. It was quite lovely! There were more people at this lodge, and yet we pretty much had the pool to ourselves! Most of the groups staying there were taking safari tours each day, while we had already spent over three days doing just that. So instead, we ate and got all kinds of lazy for two days… (more…)

Inspiration: Rugs in the Kitchen

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

bright vintage rug in all white kitchen via jacquelenclark

While the kitchen progress is ticking along slowly, I can’t help but look ahead and think about accessories. All the white cabinets and pale walls have me craving warmth and texture. I’m thinking a funky wood clock, patterned faux roman blind, and a vintage rug!

Okay, so the rug may not actually happen. See, Richard isn’t a fan of having a rug in our kitchen. He sees it as a place for crumbs and germs to live, while I see it as much needed warmth, texture, and style in our all-white kitchen. I have been eyeing this rug on Etsy, but am worried it might be a bit too small for our space.

I’ve debated spraying a rug with some sort of repellant fabric spray, but am not sure if that would help (or convince Richard). For now, I would be content to vacuum it regularly. See, I have always lived with some sort of rug/mat under our kitchen sink areas, while Richard has not. My mom always had flat weave mats to stand on, and I loved the feel underfoot. All soft and cushy…

But enough about how they feel, look at them! Doesn’t a rug just add so much colour and interest to these kitchens?

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

bright pink kilim in a tuxedo kitchen via laurengrant

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

dark kilim in a pale sage kitchen via glitterinc

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

colourful rug in a dark green kitchen via wtf

Vintage rugs in the kitchen | Hello Victoria

red persian rug in a white kitchen via homedeco

So where do you stand? Rugs in the kitchen – yay or nay? Gross and crumby, or stylish and awesome?

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Kenya: Samburu National Reserve

Exploring Samburu National Reserve, Kenya | Hello Victoria

Okay, be prepared for a reeeeaaaalllly long post (with way too many photos) – I’m not quire sure how to condense it anymore than this 🙂 As I’ve mentioned before, Richard had to go away at the end of May for a month, for work. But, unlike most jobs where maybe you go someplace boring, his sent him away to Kenya! Not exactly great, being on my own for a month, but it meant that we could do a Kenyan safari at the end of his trip!

See, Kenya is surprisingly expensive! We were probably the only young people we saw at any of the places we stayed, other than a few couples on honeymoon. Everyone else seemed to be either there for work, or retired. The only way we were able to afford the trip was because Richard’s flights were already taken care of, and we got discounts at the places we stayed.

Exploring Samburu National Reserve, Kenya | Hello Victoria

I loved this cactus, it was seriously massive!

But enough about that, let’s talk about the actual trip!

I flew in to Nairobi airport in the afternoon, and Richard came to collect me. He had rented a vehicle through work for most of our trip. See, while there are national reserves in and around Nairobi, some of the best ones are a fair drive away. Our first day was pretty much all travel as we drove from Nairobi to Nanyuki. It was a sort of halfway point from Nairobi to the Samburu National Reserve, which was our first safari destination. During his previous month there, Richard had found a nice little hotel in Nanyuki called Le Rustique, where we could spend the night. I’ll be honest, I was pretty tired after my long indirect flight, and crashed pretty quickly.

The next morning, we drove to the reserve, and I began my new favorite game of “find the animals”.

Exploring Samburu National Reserve, Kenya | Hello Victoria

If you know me personally, and especially if you knew me as a child, then you know I love animals. I wanted to be a veterinarian for the first 13 or so years of my life, as it meant being surrounded by animals. I asked to visit the pet store like most kids ask to go to the candy store. I may have also convinced my dad to buy a few pets while in said stores… (more…)

Summer Borscht

Summer borscht recipe | Hello Victoria

It’s beginning to feel like fall over here, despite the fact that it’s still technically summer. The weather here in London definitely hasn’t received that memo 😉 The chill in the air has got me craving soups, casseroles, and all things cozy. But, as it’s still summer, I thought I would compromise with this summer borscht!

My grandma used to make two kinds of borscht, summer and winter. And my favorite was always summer, hands down. I loved the fresh dill flavor, slight tang from the sour cream, and the salty ham. And not only does this meal taste good, but it looks kind of fun too! Depending on how much beetroot you add, or how bright their colour, it can turn out almost pepto-bismol pink!

Summer borscht recipe | Hello Victoria

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Kitchen Progress: Subway Tiles with Contrast Grout

Subway tiles with contrast grout | Hello Victoria

And so, we continue the kitchen saga! After we got the cabinets up, and the paint on the walls, work stalled. Richard went away to Kenya for a few weeks, and then I joined him for a little 10 day trip (photos coming soon, I promise!). After that, we sort of just got used to the walls the way that they were – all bare plaster and drywall. But, we had plans for them! Richard and I are both big fans of subway tiles, and thought that they would suit our 1920s flat. Modern and historic at the same time, no?

However, I didn’t want just white on white, since our cabinets are already going to be white. I wanted to do a contrast grout for a bit of drama in our little space. I looked around at inspiration and settled on a medium grey tone for the grout. I didn’t want to go too dark as I didn’t want it looking busy, but dark enough that you could actually see the grout.

White subway tiles with grey grout inspiration | Hello Victoria

white subway tiles with contrast grout from Patchwork Harmony

Once we had our plan in place, we started shopping around for tiles. We decided to go with Tons of Tiles as they had the best selection of smaller sized subway tiles and fair prices – plus they did sample tiles! We ordered their beveled mini metro white gloss, mini metro white flat, and rustico white gloss. Richard was really into the beveled tiles, as they most closely resemble the authentic metro tiles here in the underground. My only concern was that the uneven edges when they’re cut would make the corners and edges of our walls look wonky. I like the idea of using beveled tiles, but only on a single wall.

Subway tiles with contrast grout | Hello Victoria (more…)

Cleaning Tarnished Silverware with Baking Soda

Cleaning silverware with baking soda | Hello Victoria

As I mentioned before, Richard and I collect antique or vintage silverware, instead of getting a proper set. We love the idea of using these pieces that often get relegated to a “fancy cutlery” drawer, in our day to day use. But there’s a reason that people avoid silver cutlery in favor of stainless steel – tarnish. So how do we go about keeping our mismatched set looking nice?

Cleaning silverware with baking soda | Hello Victoria

A few years back I was told this magic trick by an antique store owner on Fort Street in Victoria. Simply combine baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and boiling water in a container, with aluminum foil covering the bottom. What happens is some sort of chemical reaction where the tarnish is attracted from the silver to the foil, removing tarnish almost instantly! I don’t know how, but it does! Trust me. (more…)

Kitchen Progress: Cabinet Frames + Paint

Okay, it’s been a quite a while since I updated you guys on the progress here in the kitchen. So long that I have actually been asked if it’s done yet (nope!). And as for where we”re at? Well, after Richard left for a month away due to work, kitchen progress sort of stalled. I ordered a bunch of stuff, but haven’t really made any progress.

As for what we have done since I last blogged about it? Well, we finally have a functioning kitchen again!

Increasing storage with IKEA cabinets | Hello Victoria

After we patched all the holes in the walls, and cleaned up from demolition, it was time to paint! We had chosen Barest Hush by Valspar to be the colour for our walls. We tested a couple of swatches, but Richard was worried they would be too dark, so we settled on this option. My goal was to have a grey tinted green that didn’t read too strong either way. As our living room is grey, I didn’t want the whole place to feel the same. But of course, I also didn’t want too bright of a colour, as I tend to prefer more muted walls. Let the colour come from the furnishings, in my humble opinion.

Valspar Barest Hush | Hello Victoria

Valspar’s Barest Hush

For the cabinets and trim, we are sticking with our tried and true All White by Farrow & Ball, colour matched to Valspar paint. This time around we went with their premium paint, as it was the most scrubbable option. It also comes with a built in primer, so win-win! However, due to time we didn’t get around to painting the cabinets, just yet. That’s a job for another day. Or month… year… sigh. Procrastination is real folks.

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Damson and Frangipane Tart

Damson and frangipane tart recipe | Hello Victoria

As I mentioned in the lemon tart recipe post, one of my favorite cookbooks is by the Bouchon Bakery. It contains a recipe for a plum tart that uses a wonderful pâte sucrée crust, and frangipane filling. I made it before as a thank you for some plums I was gifted, and have loved the combination ever since. Frangipane works well as a base for almost any fruit, especially stone fruit. So when we were given a load of damson a week ago, it was the first recipe I wanted to try.

Damson tart with frangipane | Hello Victoria

Damson tart with frangipane | Hello Victoria

Now, a word of warning here. Unless you’re a masochist for baking (like me!), I won’t recommend making a damson tart. Instead, use any larger plum, or even nectarines, or peaches. The amount of wedges you need to cut from the tiny damsons is ridiculous, and takes ages. However, if you’re like me, and have more damsons than you can eat (and a lot of free time), why not? (more…)

No-Churn Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream

No-churn strawberries + cream ice cream | Hello Victoria

In my quest for more no-churn ice cream recipes, I came up with this delight. It’s strawberries and cream season over here, especially with Wimbeldon just over, so why not ice cream? Enter my way to use up some of summer’s red + juicy bounty – strawberries and cream ice cream!

Now, just a word of warning, this stuff is rich! Basically, lots of no-churn recipes out there use only cream, with no milk. The increase in fat (and the ability to whip it up) makes it nice and soft sans ice cream maker. The only thing is that you’re eating a lot of cream. So this is the kind of ice cream to consume in small doses, just like gelato! (Man I love gelato…)

No-churn strawberries + cream ice cream | Hello Victoria

I’m working on another vanilla base that uses some milk in it to cut the fat, but it’s not ready yet. I’m hoping to use is to make honeycomb ice cream, just like the kind Richard loves from Nothern Ireland, but am debating adding a ripple of chocolate to it. Good idea, or keep it simple? (more…)

Easy Three Ingredient Pineapple Popsicles

Three ingredient pineapple popsicles | Hello Victoria

Now, lots of recipes out there call themselves quick, simple, or easy… but I am here to say that THIS pineapple popsicles recipe, is seriously easy! You just chop up some pineapple (or buy it pre-cut – it’s up to you how lazy you want to be) and mix it with two other ingredients.

Three ingredient pineapple popsicles | Hello Victoria

As with most new recipes that I try these days, this one comes from the latest Waitrose magazine. Seriously, I love this thing. So if you happen to have a giant pineapple ripening on your counter, and need something to do with it – why not try this? (more…)