Falafel Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

Back in my university days after a night of clubbing, I had my fair share of falafel pitas. Deep-fried ground chickpea balls -- what’s not to love? This healthy version is lightly fried instead and packed with nutritional goodness like ground flax. The lemon tahini dressing is so yummy and creamy (I could eat spoonfuls of it) and goes really well with the falafel. For the salad, I used kale and massaged some of the dressing into it and let sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes to soak in and soften the kale leaves. This would also make for a delicious falafel burger which I'm thinking I need to make sooner rather than later.


Hilton London Syon Park

My friend’s wedding was held at the Hilton London Syon Park, and as soon as I stepped foot on the grounds I knew why. It’s a beautiful and luxurious hotel in the countryside, situated on the 200 acre Syon House estate with over 40 acres of gardens. Its grand and lush surroundings instantly left me mesmerized. It has been the country home of the Duke of Cambridge Northumberland (too bad) for over 400 years and you certainly feel a bit like royalty staying here. 

Situated in the gardens is the Great Conservatory where one of the wedding events took place. Great is an understatement to describe it. The Conservatory is absolutely gorgeous, especially at night, and one of my favourite aspects of Syon Park. Built in the 1830s, it is made from gunmetal, Bath Stone and glass. It is the perfect setting for a glam event and to dance the night away under the stars.

Not to be outdone by the stunning, vast grounds, the hotel’s interior is equally as lovely. Their rooms are stylish and elegant, with a crystal chandelier and a bathroom with an amazing walk-in rainfall shower with blue lighting (this made my early mornings rather exciting). Our stay here was definitely a highlight of the trip and I can't recommend it enough if you want a nice, charming place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.


Mehndi Party

A few days before my friend's wedding, we had a mehndi party to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. In Hindu weddings, a mehndi party is thrown with the bride's family and the bridal party where mehndi (also known as henna) is painted on the women's hands. My friend, the bride, got it done to both her hands and feet. It was my first time getting mehndi done and it was fascinating to see the designs being painted with such precision using only a small plastic cone similar to a cake decorating tube. The henna dye is all natural too. Made from dried henna leaves grounded to a powder, it's then mixed with a variety of ingredients such as essential oils, lemon juice and warm water until it becomes a paste.

The mehndi artists painted a different design on everyone's hands, each design equally as intricate and beautiful. The paste takes a few hours to dry so unfortunately we couldn't high-five each other during this time. Once hardened, you scrape the paste off to reveal a pale to dark orange print. The colour darkens over the next few days but gradually fades over time, after about a week. I loved getting mine done, my hands looked so pretty!


Afternoon Tea Delight

Afternoon tea was one of the things I was most excited to experience during my London trip. After all, it’s quintessentially British and involves two of my favourite things: tea and cute little treats. We enjoyed a lovely buffet-style afternoon tea at The Capability, an elegant restaurant at the Hilton London Syon Park, where the wedding was held. Everything was beautifully presented and traditional English breakfast tea was served. 

There was nothing short of sweet and savoury treats on hand like yummy tea sandwiches such as cheddar cheese with red onion chutney (that tasted like French Onion soup), smoked salmon with cream cheese and chives, cucumber with celery salt, ham with piccalil, and egg mayonnaise with cress. Other delectables included crumpets, cheesecake, brownies, Victoria sponge cake, and my favourite, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. I couldn't help going back for seconds and it was such a fun way to spend an afternoon relaxing and indulging in this popular British ritual.


London Landmarks

My trip to London was an amazing and whirlwind experience. Filled with delicious food, good friends (new and old), great sights, and incredible festivities celebrating my close friend's wedding, this was truly a memorable time.

Aside from all the wedding celebrations, we tried to cram as much sightseeing as we could into our already jam-packed schedule. We visited the usual tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London, London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, and Trafalgar Square. We walked everywhere and I loved taking in and seeing the city's historic and cultural landmarks. The buildings and architectural are one of my favourite parts of London -- they're so elegantly beautiful and I love the Victorian and Gothic Revival style of some of the buildings.

Here's a look at some iconic London sights. I will be blogging about various aspects of my trip for the next little while, so be sure to check back for more!

Big Ben

Buckingham Palace

Outside the gates of Buckingham Palace

The London Eye

St. Paul's Cathedral

Tower Bridge

Tower of London
Westminster Abbey
On the Millennium Bridge overlooking The Shard


London Bound

The past week has been hectic to say the least.  Running around getting stuff ready, planning our itinerary -- it’s always stressful in the days leading up to a trip. But the day is finally here and I'm flying off to London tonight! I think I've finally managed to figure out most of my packing, now it's just getting everything to fit in the suitcase. The blog will be on hiatus for the next two weeks while I'm away, but once I return, I will have many London related posts so be sure to check back then. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak at my beautiful sari that I will be wearing at my friend's wedding. I'm a bridesmaid and I'm so excited to wear this!


Wimbledon Inspired: Tennis Dresses

With Wimbledon in full swing and my being in London next week (just missing Wimbledon), I was inspired to do a post on tennis dresses. I haven't played tennis since I was a kid, but these super chic dresses makes me want to serve up one on the court. Tennis dresses are a sleeveless tank style with a feminine silhouette -- think pleats, collars, and fit-and-flare styles. This sporty-meets-high-fashion wear is something I could definitely ace (I had to insert a tennis pun). Maybe it's time to dust out that old tennis racket I have lying somewhere as I envision beating Maria Sharapova in my cute tennis dress...or not.


Banana Bread Cookies

If you love banana bread as much as I do, then you'll love these little banana bread whoopie cookies. They’re super moist and healthy (made with coconut flour and sugar), and have the same delicious flavour you get from banana bread. It also takes almost no time to whip up. I opted to make just the cookies itself, minus the whoopie part with no coconut butter, although now thinking about it, I don't know how I could turn down coconut butter. I would suggest halfing the amount of salt and cinnamon that the recipe calls for; the first batch I made, I found the salt and cinnamon to be a little overpowering.


Packing Essentials: London Edition

In one week from today, I will be heading to London, England for my good friend's wedding. Packing is stressful enough as it is for me, but when everyone keeps saying to pack for all weather conditions in London, it doesn't exactly make things easier. Summer in London is not like Toronto. It doesn’t get as hot and it rains quite a bit, so it’s been a bit of a challenge trying to plan my outfits. I’m thinking jeans, leggings, one pair of shorts, and lots of layers. I’ve compiled this collage as a way to organize and figure out the essentials of what I need to bring. Hopefully this will make the actual packing process a little more bearable.