When it comes to homemade cocktails, I like two things – 1) anything with champagne and 2) things that can easily have a non-alcoholic version. Drinking is something that (properly – i.e. outside of peach schnapps) came to me relatively late in life, and if you’re the non-drinker at a party, some alternatives scream out like a flashing beacon. Social pressure to drink, particularly at Christmas, can still be awkward, and carrying something that isn’t obviously a glass of water, can make conversations with those you hardly know pass with less awkwardness.
Absolutely nothing says Christmas like overflowing, snow-covered, star-topped mince pies. I really want to say that store-bought is good enough, and that we shouldn’t bother making these ourselves, but I’m not quite there yet. However, in amongst the Christmas shopping, spending time with loved ones (and working in retail…), December is just not my time for pastry making and perfecting mincemeat. Instead, I bring you the most decadent, boozy, flaky and rich mince pies. Four ingredients, a small stir and we’re done.
I’m starting to feel like I’m the last one to put a tree up. (Who even has time for tree shopping nowadays?). But, lack of festive foliage aside, I do have a huge stash of new decorations (to go with last years stash, naturally). Last year was my first Christmas having my own home, and I was slightly staggered at the cost of decorating a home – since then O and I are planning to gently build up our collection of special ornaments.
Ahead of the biggest weekend of the year, please see below for current live discounts, links and codes. I’ll keep this updated as we go into Black Friday tomorrow, so do check back for more…
Selfridges – 20% off most of the site (10% off beauty). Use the code SELF14 –http://bit.ly/1vmF3yw
Liberty – 10-20% off for Liberty card holders – http://bit.ly/11X4uNz
John Lewis – price matching competitor promotions – http://bit.ly/1vRskGT
Boden – 30% off using code F4V7 – http://bit.ly/1HI5NjI
ASOS – 20% off using CYBERWKND20 – http://bit.ly/11X8FsP
Topshop – Black Friday edit – http://bit.ly/11Xld3l
Boohoo – 30% off and free delivery – http://bit.ly/1zZ1Vpk
All Saints – 20% off using CYBER – http://bit.ly/1HIf7nyH
House of Fraser – 40% (!!) off brands – http://bit.ly/11XAlh4
Whistles – 30% off across the site – http://bit.ly/1vRw4bq
Feel Unique – Christmas discounts – http://bit.ly/1HIjwXG
Sweaty Betty – Use code Black20 – http://bit.ly/11XJFBw
I feel like we’ve skipped Autumn somehow, and gone straight from blue skies into the depths of a cold, wet winter, with frost just moments away. Which is frankly fine with me, so lets just hit full steam ahead to Christmas. We started our festive shopping ridiculously early (as in October), but I still have an awful lot of the big gifts to buy. However, I thought I’d show you some of the special bits and pieces I’ve seen over the past few months, starting with those little presents needed to charm the people who have everything already…
I had an email from a very lovely reader this week. I’m lucky that lots of you send me emails and say lovely things about the goings on at TE. I’m very grateful, and when people enjoy what you poor your heart and soul into, it does make it more worthwhile. If none of you were listening, I know I wouldn’t have anywhere near enough motivation to keep on being creative.
It’s officially time to get these Christmas recipes on the road. The festive spirit has not arrived in my mind yet, but I’ve had this recipe playing in my mind for weeks, and it was finally time to whip it up.
For O’s birthday this year (which was *ahem* over a month ago…), we went for a full day of site seeing, quality time spending, trying not to argue, day out. It started with his small extra presents (a book, and every type of percy pig ever made) and then we skipped down to The Tower of London. (I picked up our tickets from Attraction Tix, which seems to be the cheapest place around).
Last week I headed down to Evoluzione at Hotel Xenia with the Zomato crew, for a tasting menu prepared by Michelin Star awarded Italian chef Andrea Angeletti and his team. I’ve been using the Zomato app for some time, and uploading reviews as I go on my merry way through every burger in town. I find it really useful – particularly if I’m in a new part of town and looking for somewhere more exciting than Starbucks. (Otherwise known as the ‘free power and wifi cafe’).
The setting was really beautiful – definitely a great venue for a date or a quiet family get together. It’s not remotely stuffy, and all of the staff were brilliant – quiet a task when you’re entire restaurant has been filled with wanna-be food critics! The vanity tables were set up to give us all a chance to watch how the food was prepared – I’ve never done any ‘chef’s table’ kind of affairs, but it was a really lovely experience. Definitely the kind of thing worth doing with someone who’s got a real passion and understanding of cuisine.
On Saturday, O and I trotted up to Alexandra Palace for an evening of fireworks. Aside from being late, and filled with ‘islington mummies’ (the incredibly entitled and annoying kind with children named Florence and Roland), they were really lovely. Although I can’t really bring myself to believe that it’s actually November. Not to sound like my mother, but where has the year gone?!
I won’t tell you again quite how important tea is. But it’s transformative powers to take one from Miranda Priestly wannabe to supportive colleague in three simple cups (at least three. Yesterday I had six. Before 10am) is magical. Now we often have office wide debates on builders-versus-Yorkshire tea (Yorkshire. Always.) and on where to get the best peppermint to see you through that carb induced lull that follows a chicken katsu lunch day.
There were roaring fires, home made sausage rolls and a fresh batch of chilli jam. Followed by raspberry wine and the gooiest-fudgiest chocolate cookies. Outdoor dinner is great idea for weekend, you can check reviews on picnic table for outdoor party at here www.kidfriendlyhome.com/best-foldable-folding-picnic-table/
This winter vegetable salad is the perfect way of using up any old vegetables you’ve had kicking around the bottom of your vegetable draw for a few weeks, that don’t any longer look quite good enough to take pride of place on the Sunday table. I’ve used manuka honey to glaze in the last fifteen minutes of cooking, which enhances the natural flavour of the winter vegetables and warms your soul on wretched winter evenings.