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SUGAR FREE APPLE COMPOTE

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Nothing says Autumn more than apples – tis the season for pies, crumbles, windfall produce, crunchy leaves and intermittent torrential down pours. And this is the perfect thing for those days when you have been soaked to the skin, your hair is plastered to your skull akin to a drowned rodent, you’re “waterproof” coat is wringing out in the bath and the world owes you a great big fat apology.

HOMEWARE INSPIRATION FROM THE 60S

One of the more challenging things about living with your partner, (for us at least), is trying to blend two often opposing aesthetics into something vaguely resembling a unified space. I like white, symmetry, uniformity and a strong scandinavian palette of minimalist neutrals. He likes dark wood, deep colours and oversized furniture. If we’d moved into the Georgian manor house of our dreams, I think we’d have ample space to experiment. Trying to find a blend of styles that also works in our central London home, is a challenge.

So, when Pavilion Broadway dropped me a line and asked me to explore their Eichholtz collection, it was the perfect opportunity for some fantasy furniture shopping. The Houndstooth inspired prints and 60s feel have something that has a little bit of both of us in it, which made it a great place to start thinking how to upgrade all those ikea investments. For cat lovers, also check outdoor cat house as a houseware!

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SALTED DARK CHOCOLATE TART

Tis the season of umpteen dinner parties. Or at least it’s felt that way. And whilst I may have made a snide remark or ten about having to slave away behind a stove morning, noon and night, I’m secretly thrilled at being able to have all our nearest and dearest round to our home – rather than schlepping into central London to eat sub-par over-priced food and pay circa £17 for a shit glass of wine. By the way, let’s check the best foldable picnic table for outdoor dinner aparties. 

Essentially, it’s been wonderful. And I know I’m entering middle age when I say I’m starting to feel like I’m mastering the skill of dinner party hostess. The first thing I’ve learned, is that pudding (it is always pudding, and never ‘dessert *shudder*), should be made at least a day ahead, and that tarts are an excellent option. (I also whipped up a lemon tart, and lemon puddings from the same mix – so if you’d like to see the recipe for that, shout up below).

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WITHOUT A STRUGGLE, THERE CAN BE NO PROGRESS

Long time, no content. The last six months seem to have slipped right on by, don’t they?! How are you? Is there anything new in the world?
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They say you get to an age where everything happens at once. I think that age may be happening to me at the moment. Since I last made myself heard here, every major thing in my life has changed. New job, new house, new friends, new pressures, new priorities.  These last few months have been pretty
tricky. Everything has felt cumbersome, complicated – exhausting. After a few days of respite from the office, I’m still so tired that mid-afternoon shakes overcome me daily. My body is ready and waiting for some new priorities – more sleep, more vegetables, more gentle strolls and afternoon swims.

Chance would be a fine thing. In e-com land, it’s full steam ahead for Christmas, and there is absolutely no respite for us manipulative bastards trying to convince you to part with your hard earned pennies in time for the festive season. Just wait, we’ll be stalking you round the internet, reminding of you of those god awful smelling candles you thought your mother-in-law might like before you know it. (Although, before you wack an ad blocker on everything, think of all the hard work you’re frustrating. Just for a second… then… as you were).

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The biggest change is definitely in home life. I’m writing this from my new home office, in the North London abode I’m now sharing with O. After three years together, we’ve taken the plunge. Fair to say we were probably both inordinately terrified, but so far we’ve bumbled along together without too many skirmishes. (Ikea rants and flat pack fall outs aside. They definitely don’t count). I’ve moved house three times in 18 months, and my last place of residence was an intensely stressful, anxiety inducing, misery causing experience. Not because anyone was horrible (may be), but a true personality clash that caused a great deal of sadness and did irrevocable damage to a once strong friendship. Some people, are truly not supposed to live together.

Yet, coming home to this tiny white box of ours, makes my soul sigh with peace. Despite the loo-flushing incident (don’t ask), the perpetual left on light switches, abandoned water glasses on every surface, one of us spending hours slaving over the stove, whilst the other spends equal hours cleaning every darn pan in the place… It finally feels like home. Not aesthetically perfect, not without snags, but a true sanctuary – a retreat from the hustle and noise of London, far above the city, with uninterrupted views for miles and miles. True bliss.IMG_9919

This week we have a permanently revolving door of guests, with parents, siblings, best friends, all coming to pop champagne corks and explore our new locals. Exhausting in its own right (particularly laundering fresh bedding and keeping the bathroom floor clean), but the kind of exhausted that keeps your heart filled with love for those people who make you laugh until you knock port across the new white table cloth (my bad).

I haven’t cooked so much in the past year, as I have this week – it’s felt like a new recipe or two every day, and so far no one has been poisoned. This afternoon I somewhat absent mindedly picked up my camera, and it reminded me how much I had missed you. So here I am – just saying hello.

ROSE AND PISTACHIO VICTORIA SPONGE

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The best thing about birthday’s is that you can eat cake for breakfast, and no one can be mad at you. The best thing about other people’s birthdays, is that you can hide away in kitchens for days beforehand, and no one is allowed to miss you. (Ditto, at birthday parties, for the socially awkward among us).

CINNAMON SUGAR APPLE SKILLET CAKE

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It’s really great when you have an excuse to bake cake. It’s even greater when you can bake a gentle, Saturday afternoon, pottering in the kitchen sort of cake, because the people you’re cooking for will be pleased with any cake – even if it’s a little rough around the edges.

HUTONG IN THE SHARD

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I sometimes wonder, if O and I didn’t have near identical tastes in food, would we still be together? Much of our time seems to revolve around where the next meal is coming from. Dim Sum is an absolute food stable for us – buy it frozen from the Chinese Supermarket, and you’r 15 minutes and some soy sauce away from simple, satisfying comfort food.

EASTER NEST CUPCAKES

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When I was younger, I couldn’t decide whether Spring or Autumn was my favourite season. Since joining the working world, the two bank holidays in April and May have been the deciding factor. Although, as I’m writing this curled under a blanket, with wind absolutely howling around the house, and all the windows rattling in their frames, this isn’t the most gentle start to a new season.

>> By the way, let’s visit my friend’s new blog for mom: Stroller and Car Seat for Baby reviews

HOW TO DEAL WITH WORK-RELATED ANXIETY

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You know the days I mean. Something didn’t go to plan, someone took a ‘tone’, a harsh word was uttered. The deadlines are piling up, you haven’t taken a lunch break in three months, that dependable person let you down.

The days when you go home with your head whirring, you fall asleep thinking about work, you dream of your colleagues and you wake every 2 hours. For some reason you think 11pm is an acceptable time to check your emails “just in case” and several chumps are still working.

THE BEST BANANA BREAD

Hemsley and Hemsley Banana Bread Recipe

Last week I realised I had some unspent Amazon vouchers, and went on a cook book purchasing spree. Even though cook book hype is the best kind of hype, I didn’t feel thrilled with everything that arrived. Hemsley + Hemsley was the stand out success of the bunch.

HOW TO PEP UP YOUR MORNING ROUTINE

Hands up, I am absolutely not a morning person. I do quite often go into the office early, but that is because it is quieter and therefore fewer people will try and speak to me during the initial two hours. I’m no caffeine addict (coffee makes me so anxious I may as well be high), I just find being dragged from my bed via an alarm the most inelegant way of starting the day.

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WORK-LIFE CHOICES

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A New Year is relentless accompanied by swathes of commentary on work-life balance, ‘burn-out’ and the seek for ever lasting joy and happiness. And there’s so much goodness behind the sentiment.

But, in my experience, those ‘new year’ mantras cause more harm than good when they’re exhaustingly projected on to somebody else.

Thoughts on Juice

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I have a confession. I really don’t want to be one of ‘those’ January healthy people (FYI I had McDonalds last week. Twice), but I’ve become a bit of a vegetable fanatic. I got a very lovely shiny nutribullet for Christmas (spinach, red grape and raspberry is the best) and Phillips very kindly sent me a juicer last week, and now I just want to make juice out of every substance known to man.

SMELL THE ROSES

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My very lovely boyfriend had flowers delivered to my office on Monday. He always sends my favourites – a white and green bouquet filled with heavily fragrant lilies and soft, delicate roses. My inner princess revels in these deliveries.

STEAMED DIM SUM BUNS

steamed dim sum buns recipe

First week back at work after Christmas is absolutely not my favourite week of the year. After two amazingly relaxing weeks filled with friends, family, games, red wine and laughing until our sides hurt,  I have come back to earth with an exceedingly painful bump. And I’m not enjoying it at all.

14 THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR IN 2014

There seems to be a trend today about Christmas being ‘over’. As I only managed Christmas Day with my family yesterday, it is still only Boxing Day, and therefore left over pigs in blankets and an entire selection box in front of the fire are called for.

For those of you already back at work, I send my condolences. For those of you enjoying some quiet time out for reflection and rest, I bring you my 14 things to be thankful for in 2014:

14 things to be thankful for in 2014

NUTELLA COOKIES

nutella cookie recipe

This recipe uses pretty much an entire jar of nutella. It is, essentially, the grown ups way of ‘eating nutella with a spoon’ without actually eating nutella with a spoon. Plus there’s extra chocolate. They are also particularly good dunked in milk. And the milk, with nutella cookie residue, is the best tasting milk that could ever pass your lips.

MULLED WINE SYRUP

mulled wine recipe

Mulled wine, done the traditional way, is a right bloody faff. And it takes an age. And it involves boiling the alcohol away – which, during the oh so stressful month of December, is completely unacceptable. Daddy TE has found a short-term pain, long-term gain way of dealing with this, which also fulfils my requirements of an easy non-alcoholic cocktail alternative.

Crispy Duck Canapes

crispy duck canape recipe

About time I got round to a savory canape option – these crispy duck blinis have only six ingredients, are so simple and succulent. They taste great hot, lukewarm and cold – essential for any party option. Even if you don’t have a party to go to, this is a great alternative to calling for a takeaway or a simple supper to have with mulled wine and mince pies.

Christmas Jumper Biscuits

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In honour of Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day, I bring you the most garish of biscuits in my collection. Made on a festive gingerbread base (but feel free to substitute shortbread), lined with a jumper and decorated with snowmen, christmas trees, baubles, robins and holly berries. Subtle, these are not.