Sunday, 31 January 2010

Buca! Buca! Buca!

O and I went back to lovely Wales this weekend, it was one of my oldest school friends birthday and she celebrated hitting 30 in fabulous style!  We had a beautiful private dining room in a cool private members club called Cameo Club, which is in Pontcanna an area of Cardiff which is famed for being a bit arty and bohemian.  The room was beautful (see below), the food delish and we all celebrated the evening by having a few too many sambucas! 

(image via Cameo Club)

I love the fact that we are all still the best of friends, even though school is such a distant memory now!  We have all changed so much...but what made us laugh in school still makes us laugh now!  I love E's husband and P's boyfriend and it's great when we can all hangout together!  Here's to many more nights on the 'buca!

Hope you all have super weekends!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Cake Committee

Just before Christmas my friend Nora invited me to a charity event in Elephant and Castle in South London.  She and a couple of friends have joined forces to set up a charity called The Cake Committee and their facebook fan page can be found here.  The idea behind the group is get together and enjoy the simple pleasures of eating whilst sharing your recipes with friends.  The committee meets every couple of months and simply operates a £5 cover charge which is donated to charity and offers you the opportunity to try as many pieces of cake possible whilst washing them down with multiple cups of tea.

On saturday afternoon I was sat on my sofa catching up with the weeks news in The Times and came across a lovely article in the saturday magazine all about the cake committee and included some of the groups recipes, one of which was Nora's recipe for her famous macarons!  Below are some of the photos used in the article and I have also included Nora's fantastic recipe!  Next time the committee meet, I will be sure to post the invitation, as it is a great cause and what can be better than raising money whilst eating cake!

Nora's recipe for Chocolat Macarons (taken from The Times)

Nora’s chocolate macaroons

Makes about 40
25g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
110g egg whites
Pinch of salt
30g granulated sugar

For the ganache
250g cream
230g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
60g unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Sieve and mix together the icing sugar and almonds. Using a food mixer, whip the egg whites with the salt until foamy, then increase the speed and slowly add the granulated sugar, continuing to whip until stiff. Fold in the sugar and almonds until the mixture is shiny and flowing, and small peaks settle flat.

2 On parchment-lined baking sheets, pipe the mixture into rounds and leave to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Bake at 160C/Gas 3 for 10-11 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes to ensure they bake evenly. When cooked, transfer to a rack until cool, then remove from the parchment.

3 To make the ganache, heat the cream and stir in the chocolate. When melted, leave to cool for a minute, then stir in the butter. Allow to cool at room temperature or chill in the fridge until it can be spread or piped.

4 Pair macaroons of similar size and sandwich with ganache. Refrigerate overnight so the flavours can blend. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Let them eat cake

I've been a baking this evening and thought I would share my little creation!  It's a caramel apple loaf and it's currently sat in my kitchen begging to be eaten... but I'm trying my hardest and will have to restain myself until tomorrow evening.  It was incredibly easy to make and i'm sure you can count the apples towards your five a day total!

175g of soft butter and some extra for greasing the loaf tin
175g of golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 x eggs
225g of self raising flour
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
4 heaped tablespoons of greek yogurt
2 x regular apples
50g walnuts
50g of soft toffee
2 tablespoons of double cream

  • Heat the oven to 160 degrees and grease a 2lb loaf tin then line it lengthways with greaseproof paper.
  • Beat together the butter, sugar and and vanilla extract, once mixed then add the eggs.
  • Add the flour, cinnamon and yogurt - I used the healthy eating yogurt!?  Token gesture to healthiness!
  • Add in the chopped apple and then stir in slowly.

  • Pour the mixture into the tin and then added some chopped walnuts across the top of the mixture.

  • Put it in the over on the middle shelve and leave it to bake for one hour to 1 hour 30.  Mine took 1 hour 10 mins.
  • Once the cake is cooled, make the toffee sauce by melting the toffees and cream in saucepan and then drizzle onto the cake adding extra walnuts.

Enjoy with a brew and a gossip with someone you love!
Here's to a good week! x

Thursday, 21 January 2010

London Calling

If you ever get the chance, the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is a great way to while away an afternoon.  I have always been fascinated by the history of how London's transport network has developed and moved with the times and the museum tells the story in a great way not just with words and pictures but lifesize models of old tubes and buses.  The war period is particulary interesting and shows how important the underground became, not just for the purpose of moving around the city, but also for protecting so many lives.  One of my favourite areas of the museum is where they show so many of the beautiful posters that have graced the tube walls for so many years.  During the 1920s and 30s designing a poster for the underground was considered to be a great honour and the within the museum you can see some of these amazing art deco masterpieces. 

Now, what every great museum needs is a great museum shop, and today museum shops have moved on from the days of purchasing a souvenir rubber or biro to remind you of your day out!  The shop at the London Transport Museum is beautiful and has a whole range of different products to tempt you and you can spend as much time shopping as you did walking through the museum!  There are some great homewares and below are some of my favourites.  For those of you that don't live in London they also have an online shop, so now there is no excuse not to own your own london underground pair of socks!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A hug in a mug

I seem to have developed a habit of breaking mugs!  It may have something to do with the fact my washing machine sits directly underneath my washing up rack and china never seems to agree with the spin cycle!  I spotted these mugs on Rose and Grey, a fabulous homeware website that I stumbled upon today.  The site is full of great little unique pieces that you won't always find on the high street, as well as some beautiful pieces of furniture, some of which is reclaimed.

The mugs have reminded me of a great post that I saw on the fantastic blog littleoldhat this week.  I look forward to the next available free weekend as I would love to try to create my own decals and develop some of my own mugs that I hope will complement my new purchases from Rose and Gray.

Lunch time treats!

So despite the fact I'm on a ration of £7 a day until I get paid next Monday, I thought it would be nice to take a break from the spreadsheets and have a look around the shops! 45 minutes later, I'm skipping back to the office with a carrier bag from warehouse with this stunning top inside it!  This is the danger of working within spitting distance of Oxford Street and all the temptations that are offered within these temples to consumerism! However, I love the top and can't wait for the 1st opportunity to wear it!

Monday, 18 January 2010


(Image Sunday Times)

Good news!  Cancel all your plans for Wendesday January 27th as finally Mad Men series three starts on UK BBC4.  This wonderful nugget of information was brought to me courtesy of this fabulous article in yesterdays Sunday Times.  I discovered Mad Men towards the end of 2009 and avidly watched season 1 and 2 on DVD, and I now can't wait to see how the characters, fashion and relationships develop in season 3 as we enter the Spring of 1963.

Just like yesterdays article, I too love Christina Hendrinks' character Joan, what a fantastic role to play and despite the blatent sexism that existed back in those days, I love how she appears to be in total control of all men!  I love this fabulous photo of Christina from stylelist at last night's Golden Globes!  Though I'm not sure she is 36D as quoted in the article from the Times and I believe I'm somewhat an affianado in this area being a 36DD myself!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

What makes me smile!

The wonderful libertylondongirl posed a question on her blog today about what object makes you smile in your home and apart from O who always makes me smile, I would have to chose my fabulous Hennie Haworth print that my best friends bought for me as a 29th birthday pressie!  I absolutely love to sit and stare at all the fabulous places that are so amazingly illustrated!  I adore how it helps me to remember all the great times I've experienced in those cities and allows me to plan exciting future trips!  What makes you smile in your home?

I think that Hennie's illustrations are really special and totally my style. I love the colours and the whimsical ideas she expresses, my favourites are the recipes surrounded by the beautifully illustrated food.  It really inspires me to pop down to my local art shop and start getting creative myself!  If only my creative output could match my vision!  I've been looking at lots of fantastic blogs over the last couple to weeks and would love to get to the stage where I could design my own blog template!  I guess that's a challenge...!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Daily essentials

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1) A big steaming mug of coffee - image by Pierofix

2) Bowl of porridge to sustain me until lunch time - image by Elyse Patten
3) Catch up with the The Chris Moyles Show - image by Urban islands
4) Read the Metro - image by Annie Mole
5) Dream of living in New York again
6) Sky's showbiz site - it's a guilty pleasure!
7) so I can plan future cooking experiments!

What makes up your morning routine?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

White out

O and I spent Saturday at his parents place in Surrey, which unlike London was still covered in a deep blanket of perfect fluffy white snow. After sliding down their road in my totally unsuitable car, which is really designed for city driving, we jumped out into the into their Winter Wonderland. Everything sounded so clear and calm, and I had that feeling of serenity that you get when you are stood at the top of an empty ski run when everything seems so peaceful. After stuffing our faces for lunch, O's Dad and sister suggested that we should go sledging! Now, I hadn't really come prepared for such outdoor activities, but was prepared to give it ago! Luckily O managed to track down various items of clothing to help keep me warm, including a pair of stylish joggers that belonged to him circa 1997 and O's Dad lent me his cycling gloves that were extremely toasty but about 3 sizes to big for me! As we headed outside, I felt like Scott off to the Antartic!

We had a great time sledging, though I apprear to be covered in bruises as my technique wasn't the best and I spent more time rolling around in the snow than sat on the sledge! Who needs the gym though when you have to walk up and down hills that are covered in snow!? As we headed back home for some well deserved cups of tea, I felt like a kid again and realised why snow is so much fun! However, I'm not so sure the guy in the video shares my sense of joie de vivre though!

Sunday night cookathon

So this evening has been a cooking freenzy and my miniature kitchen currently looks like a tornedo has blown through it!  First of all I attempted the Chicken Laksa that morphed into Prawn Laksa... I scouted around the web for a receipe and plumped for Mr Gordon "I love to swear" Ramsey, courtesy of The Times and it was the perfect warming soup for a cold winters evening.  The recipe suggested rice noodles, which I liked, but I think when I make it next time, I will use egg noodles.  Luckily, I have just enough left to fill me up after tomorrow nights gym session.

Following my success with the soup, I was feeling pretty confident and I'm a firm believer of striking whilst the iron is hot!  So, I got out the scales to perpare for attempt deux of cupcake baking!  I stuck with the same receipe as last time and kept my fingers crossed that I was going to see an improvement!  This time the yield was 9 and I'm happier with the outcome!  Still not perfect, but we're getting there!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Sample Sale Bonanza

The ever beautiful Graham and Green are having a sample sale next weekend in London ( Jan 15th - 17th) at 4 Capital Interchange Way, Chiswick, (Map Link).  I'm not normally a keen sample sale shopper, don't get me wrong, I love hunting down a bargain, but I find the atmosphere of sample sales a little on the crazy side sometimes!  However, I think i'm going to hop in my car next saturday morning and check it out, so I'll report back on my findings and hopefully some purchases too! 

Some of the looks on their website are beautiful, I just adore the bedroom look below, it looks so lavish without being over the top opulent.   Unfortunately, my hallway is very neglected and I think the star wall mirrors will look just perfect!

Freezing Britain

I saw this image in the Metro this morning and think it's amazing, the whole of the UK covered in a blanket of snow!  The image is also on the BBC along with lots of handy hints about keeping warm in the cold!  My favourite suggestion being "move to Australia"!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pucker up!

What better wait to square up to the cold weather by coating on the red lippy!  I'm already looking forward to Saturday night to get my glad rags on and rouge up my lips!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Royal Breakfast

How luxurious does this photoshoot look by hot UK photographer Miles Aldridge look?  It featured in the November 2009 issue of Vogue Gioiello.  Who wouldn't want to eat breakfast in bed with one's poodle and whilst decked out in jewels.   I love to believe that the Queen takes breakfast this way everyday!

The image is beautiful though and I love the emerald earrings and pendant, the colour of the emeralds just jump out at you against the beautiful porcelain skin of the model.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Tea and Cakes

I'm planning a second attempt of some cupcake baking this weekend and I think I need to treat (see what I did there?) myself to a beautiful cake stand to show off my mini creations!  I don't want anything too twee, so love the idea of the black or the pink one below!  But, as we all know, there is nothing wrong with a classic and the V&A and Laura Ashley stands tick that box and get a gold star!

Everyones favourite little blue box

As I ran down Bond Street today for my usual lunch time dash to Pret A Manger for a take-out soup, I was struck with how beautiful the windows were in Tiffany.  I'm normally not a huge fan of Tiffany's windows, I often find them very cluttered and busy and coupled with the many other jewellers on the street, I don't think the jewellery jumps out at you the way it should.  However, today I was entranced by them, each window has a real etheral beauty about it.  I also love the sense of depth that each window has, it gives that extra touch of magic for their winter wonderland. It really reminds me of the Snow Queen or Cinderella and I guess what Tiffany are selling is the fairy tale beauty that owning piece of jewellery gives you, what more would a girl want for Christmas!? 

Monday, 4 January 2010

Trying not to wish my life away!

Boy it was cold today, as I was stood on the platform waiting for the train at 7.30am, with my teeth chattering away, I looked up and Richard Branson had hit the jackpot and placed an extremely well timed advertisement for Virgin Holidays advertisment.  Oh to have the Mad Men gene!  Thankfully I have the warm and sunny climbs of the Thailand beaches to dream off... we fly on on March 12th and after the freezing temps that existed today and according to the BBC weathermen look set to hang around for the rest of the week, the holiday can't come soon enough!

But first comes Project Thin!  I know, I know, you have probably read a hundred blogs over the last couple of days that state similar objections!  But i'm a determined young gal and I'm pretty dead set on achieving my goals!  But we all have to set ourselves some difficult objectives and I have set the bar 10ft tall!  Over Christmas, I was up late indulging my inappropriate crush on Pierce Brosnan in his last James Bond film "Die Another Day" and out of the sea walks Halle Berry, so as I'm sat there indulging on mini daim bars, I decided, why hold back, if you are going to set yourself a target, go for it! 

Just so you can all be aware of how nuts I am, i've included a little picture, it seriously makes you want to give up eating and I love to eat....and I mean love to eat!  So today adjusting back to my pre Christmas life of porriage for breakfast and either salad or soup for lunch was pretty tough... no more snacking on odd bits of Toblerone or some sneaky cheese and crackers. I survived though and not only that I had my 1st personal training session of 2010! R is a demon and worth every penny, every expensive penny!  So who knows what I could achieve!?  However, I may have to give up eating cupcakes and stick to just making them!  I don't think Halle eats cupcakes does she?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Perfect Sunday in London

So the last day of my Christmas break began with my alarm clock going off at 8am... I think O set it to prepare me for tomorrow!  We decided to make the most of the last day of freedom by delving into an area of London I have always wanted to visit but never made it to.  Columbia Road in the East End of London has a fantastic flower market every sunday and the street has a really buzzy vibe with all the flower and plant sellers bustling for business.  Behind the street market lies some beautiful and individual boutiques and O and I had fun rummaging around them all.  O, like me is fascinated by maps and bought an amazing blue, emerald, pink and yellow map from The future Mapping Company, we need to get it framed, but we both think it's going to look great in the spare room/study aka O's Den!  I loved the Supernice store and have the perfect spot above the bed in our bedroom for one of their wall art graphics, I need to measure up the space and will then be back to chose our piece of artwork! 

After chosing some tulips we then headed towards the Asian supermarket we passed on our walk to Columbia Road, my favourite soup in Eat is their Chicken Laksa and I have been searching high and low for some Laksa paste so I can try making the soup at home.  I was in luck, the store was a fantastic find and all being well with the soup, I'll be back there soon to investigate more of the wonderful foods they had on offer.

We were starting to get peckish, so we headed south towards Liverpool Street station to find somewhere to warm up and get some nosh.  I had read in the sunday papers a while back about the Albion Cafe, it is the new Conran and Prescott venture and boy was it good!  We arrived just before the end of breakfast, so we both tucked into a huge full English breakfast and a mugs of steaming hot coffee, a special mention has to go to the freshly made baked beans - they were amazing!  The cafe also has a wonderful shop that specialises in great British food and drink, they also sold their own freshly prepared bread and cakes and it all looked mouth wateringly good!  There is also a restaurant upstairs (the boundary) and it would be great to try it out one evening for a blow out meal!  Fingers crossed...! x

1st shopping trip of 2010

When your boyfriend suggests a shopping trip, you don't turn the opportunity down!  However, it turned out to be one of those shopping trips where I came away with a big bunch of nothing and he returned to the flat weighed down with bags with a considerably lighter wallet!  As we hit the busy West End streets we called into one of my favourite US stores anthropologie.  I've been itching to show O around the UK version of the shop that I spent hours dreaming in, whilst I lived in NY.  The store is one of the most fabulous in terms of visual merchandising in London and has some beautiful and unique pieces including both fashion and homewares. The store reaches across 3 floors and spanning each floor on the left hand side wall is a vertical living garden, which from what I read in the press includes 18,000 plants all ecologically sustained from rainwater collected from the roof above!

The clothes are right up my street, I love the eclectic and vibrant style that the buyers have chosen, unfortunately this style costs money and some of the beautiful dresses were a little of out of my usual price bracket...However, there was a huge sale area in the basement and with my office being only around the corner, I may have to take a lunch break to rummage through the bagains!  I'm led to believe that everything in the store is for sale and my favourite display was the multiple alarm clocks, i'm fascinated by clocks and the display really reminded me of the wall art in one of my favourite bars in Balham - the clarence.  I look forward to returning next week, for more of a dig around the store!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Learning to blog!

So the blog is not even a week old yet, but I'm starting to learn my way around this new and exciting new world.  It's been fascinating learning about other peoples loves and interests and the cold winter evenings just seem made for sitting down with my laptop and a big mug of tea to while away the hours internetting!  I hope that the coming weeks will inspire me and i'll try to report on all my new experiences.

One of the blogs I have found oh, hello friend has really fascinated me and the wonderful always-sometimes-never I thought was a fantastic way to introduce myself to any potential new readers!

I always -
+ will suck my thumb - despite my entire family willing me to give up.
+ will get excited driving home to Wales.
+ Love spending time with O.
+ want to return to NYC.
+ love trying new things.
+ love how my friends are always there for me.

I sometimes -
+ am guilty of wishing my life away.
+ wish I could sing.
+ watch trashy reality TV.
+ am mean to the people I love.
+ wish I was brainer.
+ want to give up the real world and become a professional traveller.

I never -
+ want to regret my choices in life.
+ wish I had bigger boobs!
+ want to be incapable.
+ will be a quitter.
+ ever send all my Christmas cards.
+ want to stop thinking about the people I love.

Here's to a fabulous 2010! xxx

Friday, 1 January 2010

Cupcake attempt numero uno

As promised here is photographic evidence of my first cupcake attempt. As a beginner in the art of cake baking, I decided to start with what appeared to be the easiest recipe, the original and what some consider to be the best, "vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting". The recipe book states that the quanties would yield a batch of 12 cakes in UK muffin cases, I'm somewhat dubious as I wasn't able to fill the muffin cases to the required two thirds. So next time and there will be a next time, I think I will try and make 9 and hope that this will enable the cakes to rise to the top of the cases. All being well this will then allow me to ice the cakes so they look a little more professional! Can you tell i'm a perfectionist!?

However, O tells me they taste delicious and I was more than happy to scoff the left over frosting from the bowl! The problem is I want to make more today to try and perfect my baking skills, i'm not sure even O and I can choff our way through 21 cupcakes! I also feel quite sure that my miniature kitchen will not be able handle the mess I make... I'm definitely not a clean and tidy cook!