Afternoon Tea at the Sky Bar

It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper afternoon tea, so when my friends suggested a tea at lunchtime in the middle of work today, I didn’t resist for a moment. We’re lucky enough to work locally to Westfield Stratford in east London, which has a variety of restaurants and shops for us to indulge in every now and then (not everyday otherwise we’d all be bankrupt!)

So off we skiddled along to Sky Bar, which I never knew existed until I walked in, a beautiful balcony restaurant overlooking the random skyscrapers, train stations and restaurants of east London while having a lovely tea. The best part about this is that there was a 50% off deal going on as well, so it was cheap and guilt-less indulgence too!

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I always love beautiful decor when visiting a new restaurant, and this place fit tickled my imagination nicely – a huge ceiling with cool wooden floors and metal decoration, beautiful lanterns and quirky paintings at the entrance.

Onto the good stuff, the food – I think the picture below sums up how pretty this tea was. I wasn’t expecting a lot for what we paid, and was pleasantly surprised by how nicely put together everything was. Teapots with fresh roses, jugs of tea and milk, plates of scones, jams, sandwiches and tea, lemonade water (for people like me who aren’t tea drinkers!) and beautifully made desserts.

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We loved how well presented each plate of food was – between three of us we couldn’t finish this three-tier of sandwiches and cakes, and we had great fun swapping different flavoured macarons and cupcakes (by swapping, ‘sampling’ each other’s cakes!). My husband always says having afternoon tea is a bit of a girly thing, and that there are never enough sandwiches for his liking – personally I think afternoon tea is for everyone but I did love how girly and vintage-themed the flowers and crockery were. I also loved that there was a good mix of food for everyone, lemon cake, brownies, rich cupcakes, macarons, scones and three different fillings of sandwiches.

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I also love how full the table looked by the time all of the food arrive – I never like paying a lot of money for an afternoon tea experience which makes you feel as if you didn’t really get much. Half of the tea can sometimes be the visual experience and the beautiful decor to match beautiful food, which in this case certainly worked well together. My favourite thing was a little cute case with a single macaron with an ‘eat me’ label on it! Sadly enough I wasn’t allowed to take the little case home (I did eat the macaron inside though, it was an almond-flavoured one), but it did give me ideas for future tea parties…!

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All in all this was a lovely afternoon (even if we did have to go back to work after a long lunch!) and a perfect way to end the working week, and begin the bank holiday weekend!

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The Mad Hatter’s Tea at Valentines Mansion

I recently posted about some upcoming events happening in London as part of Find your London Festival, so made sure I  kept an eye out for local events that I could attend. This weekend saw the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Valentines Mansion and Garden, which was a really fun even put together for the kids to enjoy (and the adults!).

I’m a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (you can see the pictures from my own tea party for evidence!) and I always love seeing different takes on the idea of a quirky tea party. I love the idea of doing a tea party in the park, and what better time than spring?

My sisters and I took along my nieces and nephews to enjoy the fun, and were able to walk around inside the mansions and have a look at the historical site inside. The Tea Party was organised next to the mansion in the gardens  which had plenty of games, activities and equipment for the children, which we all managed to make good use of – I also loved the fact that there were plenty of people in costume!

One of the highlights of the Tea Party was the entrance of the Queen of Hearts, who told us we were very lucky to see her and that everything was “Marvellous!”, following with a parade with the White Rabbit and the Card Men, complete with pink flamingos!

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My favourite thing was probably this oversized Mad Hatter’s Top Hat, which we all took turns to sit on (and which didn’t collapse surprisingly), which was laid out for us to look at next to a giant plate of (foam) biscuits and some giant playing cards scattered around, as well as some very misleading direction signs!

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There were plenty of games which my younger nieces ran off to enjoy, which I thought were a great idea for kids to do in a park – I especially liked the fact that there was a croquet set!

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I also loved the random small touches laid out – oversized teacups, several top hats, a few Alices wandering around and plenty of flowers, cards and Chesire Cats, which really made the whole thing feel much more fun.

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The Mad Hatter’s Party was a fun day out (including the bit where the Queen made all of the children hold hands to make ‘hoop’s while the smaller children were hedgehogs who ran through them, croquet-style!) and it’s great to see something like this organised for free somewhere local. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more things like this for the Easter Holidays which make a great distraction and let us enjoy the local park.

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A Mad Hatter-Books-Pastel Themed Tea

I held a tea party for my sisters this weekend, and I’ve finally manage to sit down (and rest!) to post the results, which I was really pleased with. My sisters and I decided that for Eid this year, instead of giving everyone Eid presents we’d do Eid experiences – a day out, a picnic, a tea. I love my afternoon teas so decided to organise a themed afternoon tea for the girls.

I had a little difficulty deciding on a theme because I liked so many, and initially was going to just do a Mad Hatter’s tea party. But I do love my florals and we all love books, so I decided to work these into the look as well, which worked a lot better than I thought it would – I was worried it would look really messy and nonsensical. My eldest sister commented that it also reminded her of a colourful fair or festival, especially with the colourful bunting, and thankfully the guests all loved the results of the tea!

Here’s what the table looked like, and some of the desserts:

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My favourite part of the decor and table were these – book-themed toppers for the cupcakes. I picked out a bunch of our childhood books so that we could enjoy a few fond memories of the books we used to love (including our first Urdu learning book!) – these were a hit with the ladies and I was glad I included these!

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I had various things scattered around the room  for display to implement all three themes – pastels and florals, book wallpapers, piles of books and a top hat with playing cards to tie the themes together, which I thought went wonderfully together, not to mention the ‘this way’, ‘that way’ and ‘wrong way’ arrows.

I’m sure you can tell that the most obvious theme was the Mad Hatter/Wonderland one – I loved the variety of decor which is out there and took the opportunity to scatter random quotes and prints around the table, as well as ‘drink me’, ‘eat me’ and ‘take me’ tags on the food and goody bags. I also ordered giant playing cards for us to play with, although it was quite funny to see how people would hide their cards!
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My mum also lent me this beautiful tea set which was love at first sight for me, and very apt because it’s actually a Harlequin Tea Set! These were beautiful dainty tea cups in bright colours with matching sauces, which I put on display and thought really made the whole table (not to mention actually made the tea party an actual tea party!)

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My nieces and nephews probably enjoyed themselves the most (you can see my nieces shouting and giggling through my letterbox below), although my sisters and sister-in-law had a lot of fun looking for the small touches around the room too, and putting on false moustaches, giant glasses and hats!

I was really worried about not having enough food on the day, so my menu was a little adventurous, surprisingly I managed to make more than I thought. Even better, the guests all brought some amazing food as well so we were all seriously stuffed and  from red velvet cake, cupcakes, chocolate trifle, sandwiches, pizza, samosas, chicken bites and kebabs, to name but a few of the things we had laid out.

Having said that, my nieces were the first to run to the sweet table and run off giggling with sweets in their hands!

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It was an exhausting but fun afternoon, which was made better by the scorching sunny afternoon and the yummy ice-creams we finished off with. We were meant to play games but we felt pretty lazy and the cushions on the floor were pretty useful for us to laze about in!

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It was really fun (and a little challenging) planning this tea party by myself, but I had fun doing it and also learned what I can make and what I can’t. I was really happy with the decorations I made, they took me a while (hence being quiet on the blogging front!) but I was really pleased with how it all came together.

So now I’m looking forward to the next Eid experience, and also more tea parties with different themes, which I’m already planning – I just need to recover from this one and I’ll be off again!

A Chocolatey Time at Choccywoccydoodah

Whenever I tell people about Choccywoccydoodah, some of them accuse me of making the name up. I’m not of course, it’s an amazing chocolate-and-cake shop off Carnarby Street, in Central London, and definitely somewhere to go if you love eye candy and mouth-watering treats.

My best friend and I decided to reward ourselves by taking a visit there, we’d never been and decided to live up to our chocoholic natures and indulge for the day. It took us a while to get in (there was a 40 minutes queue on a busy Saturday afternoon) but this just gave us an opportunity to browse cakes, chocolate slabs and basically have a good look at the store below, while we waited to get into the eaterie on the first floor.

I’ll let you feast your eyes on the pictures, they’ll do a  better job of showing the amazing talent at Choccywoccydoodah and the beautiful (and edible!) things we saw than I can decribe. The theme at the moment is spring and florals, we were going to go a few months ago during the winter months, and look at the Halloween themed cakes, but I’m glad we didn’t now becaues the floral theme was so beautifully done.

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On the first floor is a cafe, where an afternoon tea is available, there’s a huge selection of cakes, treats, drinks and beautiful decorations, and there’s a very bohemian, arty feel for the whole place which is a delight to sit in.

We ordered a slice of cake with drinks (I had a pink lemonade, naturally), with me choosing chocolate praline cake and my friend going for a chocolate gateux. Each cake slice was huge, with about five layers of icing, buttercream, sponge and cream, encased in solid chocolate and drizzled in three different sauces. Sadly to say, it was an amazing slice but neither of ours barely managed to finish, which put a stop to us asking for a second slice.

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Harlequin Pics www.harlequinteaset.wordpress.com

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There’s plenty of beautiful decorations all over the store and the cafe, paper hearts cut out and hung on walls, embellished mirrors and crown motifs, and greenery everywhere. The seating area is just as electic and mixed, but goes with the decor and huge cake decor brilliantly.

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I loved the style and luxury of Choccywoccydoodah, there’s beautiful creations everywhere you look, complete with plush armchairs, belljars with cake, handpainted signs and some seriously beautiful edible stuff – when gonig up the stairs I even saw a chocolate snail hidden in a crack in a wall! I loved the attention to detail, and the cafe itself was surprisingly reasonable priced. The cakes on display (which are the main focus of the tv show Choccywoccydoodah) are probably a different matter, and I can imagine seeing one of these beauties at a wedding (I remember saying to my friend that it would have been amazing to have a towering six-layered floral cake like this for mine!).

For anyone in the area, I’d definitely recommend a visit, even if it’s just to browse and look at the beautiful cakes and chocolate creations on display.

The 1920s-Inspired Bridal Shower

A week before all of the wedding festivities began, my sister-in-law threw me a 1920s’-themed bridal shower, which was mainly an excuse to have one last shins-up with all the girls in my family before the real party began. It was a really fun day, with my mum, sisters (minus my eldest sister who was absent due to the birth of my newest, squishiest niece!), cousins and a couple of aunts all enjoying the dress up, good food and silly games which made us all explode in girly giggles.

You may have read about my vintage, floral, polka-dot and pearls themed bridal shower which was a few weeks before, so you can say I was already feeling a little spoiled!

My sister-in-law hosted the bridal shower in her beautiful home, and it was an amazing setting for a old-style, 1920s-slash-Great-Gatsby themed bridal shower which she decorated for and made some amazing food for.  Below is just a glimpse of the table setting – we didn’t get to put the banners up which we wanted, because all of us forgot to bring blu-tack or tape, and we didn’t want to ruin the wallpaper by using anything else! We told everyone to either wear 1920s themed costumes or just red, white and/or black to keep it simpler, and it was great to see everyone stick to the theme – I loved some of the make-up styles that some of the girls did too, dark red lips, heavy rouge and smokey eyes!

(Credits to everyphototunity for most of these photographs, and you can also see her post here as well!)

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The food was probably the real highlight of the evening – my sister-in-law and her mother are both brilliant cooks so it was going to always end in some very full bellies! I also was lucky enough to have two cakes – my sister-in-law made a beautiful red velvet cake, and my sister made a beautiful red, white and black cake with a yummy chocolate filling.  There were also some beautiful, miniature tarts, various dishes like chicken kebabs, finger sandwiches and to add to the desi mix, good old spring rolls and samosas!

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I loved the decor, and I’ll admit, I didn’t really help out with it at all because everyone else did such a great job, and my sister-in-law’s house was pretty much a perfect backdrop anyway. My eldest sister made Art Deco style banners, another sister added small touches like beads and coloured balloons, and of course my sister-in-law did the beautiful table settings, complete with matching napkins!

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The costumes everyone wore were lovely, although as usual, the babies in the family stole the show! I had a really pretty black and white striped-and-circles maxi dress which I had intended to wear, but which I couldn’t squeeze my oversized which I changed my mind about, and I ended up wearing a black lacy dress with pearl beads and a mini top hat, which was pretty perfect for me! I wish I could post some of the other girl’s costumes, but my pictures aren’t great and I’d like to protect their privacy, but everyone made an effort with feather headbands, feathered-print dresses and red,black and white dresses!

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We ended the day with lots of gossip and a raucous game of ‘pin the moustache on the groom’ which was a little embarrassing because of all the teasing I got, but also very fun because we blind-folded all the older women and made them join in! The bridal shower was fun, intimate and very relaxed, and also perfect to set the mood for all the wedding festivities which started a week later (especially as we all had to run around after the bridal shower to get the preps done!) I’ve not been to a 1920s/Great Gatsby themed party before, and it was really lovely to have one for myself, especially as it gave all of us the chance to be creative and let our inner-drama queens come out!

What did you think of our party – have you ever dressed up for a 1920s theme?

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My Vintage, Floral, Polka-Dot and Pearls Bridal Shower

I’ve been a little absent lately, I’m so sorry! I’ve had a crazy last few weeks with last-minute wedding preps and house hunting, which I’m hoping will calm down now that mostly everything is done! I can’t make any promises so watch out for my sporadic blogging, I’ll post whenever I can.

My eldest sister Happy Muslimah kindly threw me a bridal shower yesterday which was really fun, especially as it was full of lots of my friends, family and sisters which turned out to be really enjoyable. We decided to have a garden tea party, with the theme and dress code being anything vintage, floral, polka dot and pearly, and I loved how much effort everyone put in.

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The decor was provided by my talented sister, who made banners and table decor, as well as made some yummy food for the table. My other sister put together the pretty draping in the garden to make a canopy, and also put together a lot of the decor and food, not to mention taking some amazing photographs of the day (I’m usually the one with the camera but didn’t get a chance to take many this time!) – so most of these photos are credited to her. It’s hard to tell from the photographs because I didn’t include a lot due to people being in them, but I loved all the details – the banners, the pegs, the butterflies and the colour themes.

The food was absolutely beautiful, most of my guests brought a dessert or dish, and they were all gobbled down. My sister made chocolate-covered strawberries which I didn’t even get to try because they disappeared so quickly, my best friend made some amazing double-chocolate chewy cookies, and yet another friend made pasties and pakoray. There was also an amazing chocolate trifle made by my sister in law which was very popular, and which felt very light and moussy.

Everyone tried to make an effort with the costumes, and I love that they all had a different take on it. I’ll admit, I didn’t get a lot of time to sort my own out, but I loved the floral dress I wore and my eldest sister lent me a string of pearls which matched wonderfull. Below you can see some of the floral prints and polka dots people wore, my sisters also wore floral prints and one of them even went for an excellent 50s’ style outfit.

I think the babies stole the show though, they toddled around in their dresses (my newest niece was being a relaxed kitten) and enjoyed the limelight, I’m pretty sure most of my friends were in love with them by the end of the day.

I wish I should show some of the more fun pictures with my family and friends in it, but a lot of them practise hijab and would prefer to remain private – but I can assure you it really was a fun day!

All in all we had a really nice afternoon – we played silly games (one involved asked me questions about the fiancé which they had asked him the answers for previously, if I got the questions wrong I had to chew some gum. I got all but 2 questions wrong!) and we had a good catch up with old friends, took photos and ate some yummy food. It was a really nice start to the wedding celebrations, I still have some weeks to go but it was nice to see everyone make an effort and also weird to be the cause of it. We’ll be having a few more parties before it’s all over, I’m sure, but this one was pretty amazing to start with : )

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