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…)

Refinishing Furniture with Danish Oil

Refinishing furniture with Danish oil | Hello Victoria

Okay, so it’s been quite a while since posting – our trip to Kenya and the subsequent business of life when we got back has kept me away. It’s just a quick post today as I still have to go through our photos from the trip, and have yet to make much worth posting.

A while back, we obtained a table and chairs for our living/dining area. We loved that they were old and worn, but the colours didn’t quite match up, and the scratches on the chairs were quite severe. I didn’t want them to match exactly, but wanted the colours to be more similar.

Antique farmhouse table | Hello Victoria

It’s hard to tell in this photo, but the chairs were more yellow, and the table more red/orange

Staining seemed to be the obvious choice, but I didn’t exactly want to go through the hassle of all the sanding and refinishing. I did that before with a set of thonet style chairs that had been painted white (a travesty) and could still remember how long it took me to strip them all down to the point that I could stain them again. And then, of course, I forgot to use a wood conditioner and the stain ended up being all blotchy. 🙁 It was quite upsetting after all that time and effort. (more…)

No-Churn Pina Colada Ice Cream

No-churn pina colada ice cream | Hello Victoria

You have no idea how excited I am about this recipe!! Well, if you know me at all, then you’ll probably be able to guess how excited. I consider ice cream to be the best food group of them all. 😉

When I moved to the UK, one of the items I couldn’t bring with me was my Kitchenaid mixer. This was not just a loss in terms of making things like marshmallows and other meringues, but in the loss of ice cream. See, I got the ice cream attachment for my mixer a few years back for my birthday! It’s pretty great being able to make my own flavours etc. – but without the machine, I couldn’t do any of that.

No-churn pina colada ice cream | Hello Victoria

Now, I had heard about no-churn recipes before, but had only tried a couple in the past. This one got me excited in more ways than just being able to make ice cream; I happen to looooove pina coladas. Give me pineapple and coconut any day… and throwing in some rum doesn’t hurt!

What makes this no churn ice cream work is two things – the alcohol and the cream. By whipping the cream to soft peaks before freezing, you’re essentially adding the air that would have been churned in during the freezing process. The other thing that helps prevent the mixture from turning into a solid pineapple-coconut-popsicle, is the alcohol. It changes the freezing point of the mixture, helping to keep it soft. (more…)