Wednesday, 23 June 2010

World Cup Fever - The Menu

I wasn't even going to bother with posting about the England match today, but as Defoe just scored I will join the hundreds of sweaty fans who are suddenly forgetting their criticism of the ball, the pitch, the humidity, the vuvuzelas and the managerof just a few moments ago and instead cheering and singing - We did it once (albeit 50 years ago!) and we can do it again... and with just 60 mins left to play we'll see who is singing at the end of the match.

I made this little garland during the first match - I am not one for emblazoning my allegiances across my car, face and home normally (and to be honest my allegiances very rarely lie in British soil anyway) - I thought I better share it now because I am not sure it will still be hanging this afternoon.


I'm thinking of replacing it with a Wimbledon themed one - I haven't picked my favourites this year so I can't get disheartened just yet - or maybe a red white and blue one for Fourth of July?

(on a side note we will be celebrating independence day at The Papered Parlour)

Anyway, back to football, or more importantly, food.

Ahh Slovenia, here is what Wikipedia unappetisingly said about your nations cuisine:

'A typical dish is "Aleluja" (Halleluyah), soup made from turnip peels and a well-known dish during fasting'

Sounds delish, no?

I checked back with Food Network who suggested lurid pink Summer Borscht, which quite frankly looks like what you throw up after one too many alcopops and is scarily unappealing. Ditt cabbage rolls.
The other offering is chilled cucumber soup which not only sounds right up my street but also refreshingly appropriate for today's sweltering heat. Happily I click away on the link, to be met with the following:

"Hmm, the page you're looking for can't be found." - I went looking for a website offering delicious Slovenian cuisine and apparently this page does not exist. The error message also mentions:

"It may have been eaten by our server." - well at least someone will get to taste some Sloven food today!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Wimbledon Fever

Good lord the World Cup is boring! Everyone seems to be playing mediocre-ly. D reckons it's something to do with the altitude, but that doesn't account for every single team being crap. Apparently it's the ball, the Brazilian goal-keeper described it as a ball you would buy from the grovery store (incidentally Vin has a lovely sponge ball purchased from Sainsburys and he has shown a promising left foot whilst practising with it). Whatever, excusees, I'm watching Wimbledon.

And while tennis doesn't lend itself to culinary exploration the way that international footbal does, what could be more iconic than Strawberries and Cream and Robinsons fruit squash?

We will be attacking Wimbledon from all angles:

I will be wearing this outfit

Strawberries and cream gets an update here

Quintessential Summer - Pimms cocktails

England in the Summertime? You'll be needing one of these

and Wii Tennis for those rained off moments


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Father's Day Part Deux

I read over the previous post I can't help but wonder what kind of family portrait I am painting for my readers - the whole tone seems somewhat negative and the truth is, I love my weird family - we put the 'fun' in 'dysfunctional' - and I love corporate-sponsored gratuitous ift giving occassions.

So this is a second attempt at a Father's Day post - with cupcakes and all.

All dads like Guinness. In fact I'd go so far as to say that noone but dads like Guinness. Like James May and Saturday afternoons spent 'pottering', Guinness is a daddio pre-req. Both of my dads like Guinness and all my grandads too. David is also a fan - though he drank it long before he was a dada - and come to think of it little V is quite fond of licking the froth of the top of a pint too - remember that Boddington's advert with Melanie Sykes?

I had bookmarked some Guinness baking recipes for St Patricks Day but what with moving house I forgot all about it. So Guinness cake for Father's Day was born. Only a whole cake just doesn't seem right, cupcakes are much more... festive.

This is a Nigella recipe, from 'Feast' I think, only I was a bit nervous about jigging round with it to make a cupcake version (since reading Delia's 'How to Cook' I am religiously following recipes with much better results than ever before) - enter Patent and the Pantry a delicious eye-candy food blog that reminds me a lot of the domestic goddess herself - something about the scarlet peeptoes in the masthead pushes all my buttons.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

250 ml Guinness
110g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
170g unsweetened cocoa powder
450g granulated sugar
175 ml sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
200g all-purpose flour
2½tsp baking soda

250 g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
2 tbsp whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan, add butter and heat at medium-low until melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar, then remove from heat. In a small bowl, beat together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla.

Pour into the slightly cooled Guinness-butter mixture. Whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Spoon batter into cupcake pan, so each liner is about three-quarters full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Once completely cooled, make the icing.

Beat cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Add the whipping cream and beat again until it is thoroughly mixed and spreadable. Add more cream if you want a thinner icing. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.


(my picture is a bit blurry and dark due to my black kitchen and the fact that I do all my baking at 10pm when Vin is sleeping... for better pics check out Patent and the Pantry)

Happy Day for Daddies

I have to admit something, though I'm usually a fan of the handmade, I have completely cheated this father's day - I bought cards and instead of the delicious brunch in bed of with homemade granola and fruit juice cocktails that Vin's dada no doubt deserves I bought him tickets to the Taste of London Festival tomorrow.

Buying cards was actually trickier than making them, not least because as well as a card for Vin to give to his daddy, I had to find suitable cards for my dads too. And between sappy sentiments and inaccurate platitudes every year I decide that the following year I am not only going to make my own cards, I am going to release a whole range of cards for modern families - "Best Dad in the World" just doesn't quite cut it for the father who I haven't spoken to in three months, while "Daddy's Girl" seems wholly inappropriate on a number of levels.

I wonder if there is a market for "To my Sperm Donor" cards? I definitely know that my bespoke line of "Just because you're married to my mom doesn't mean you're my dad, but I have been told to get you a card anyway" father's day card would be a surefire hit with the non-nuclear family of the 21st century.

For years I have been wondering why someone can't just make cards saying "You're like a dad to me" or something similar - this covers a multitude of familial situations; grandfathers, step-dads, uncles etc - and not a cutesy bunny in sight.

Here's some Father's Day inspiration from around the web, just incase you don't want one of my custom cards:


Try some napkin origami with this how-to from How About Orange - entirely useless, but maybe that's an appropriate sentiment for certain daddies?

Side-note:  it seems that Father's Day crafts are dominated with the shirt and tie combos of white collar professionals - wonder what Little V is supposed to craft for his dada who wears a fishnet tanktop and jazz shoes to work?

Food gifts seem to be popular, and can be personalised like these labels from Martha Stewart. Blonde Designs showed a quick but stylish junk-food gift and I like the idea of gifting this homemade barbecue sauce - but maybe not for my lifelong vegetarian papi.

And while D has banned me from buying him novelty items from Etsy (since a silkscreened octopus tie ended up in the charity bag), I can't resist this Mr Mustache Shaving Bag - I am tempted to use it as a make-up bag:




Friday, 18 June 2010

World Cup Fever - The Menu

The World Cup Fever is still aflame, although somewhat dimmer than our last meeting - what with a draw in England's last match and the inability to watch an entire game due to those irritating horns the crowd toot on ceaselessly (btw they have a wicked name, zoomzummers or something similar - but this does not make them any less headache inducing).

Today at the library Vin and I read a South African fable about a turtle because I felt it was my motherly duty to educate him about the host nation - he was very impressed to and only ate two of the books pages.

Tonight I was stumped for an Algerian inspired supper - so poor is my geographical knowledge I had to Google to find out where it was, but that led to finding the Food Network website where I fell in love with their World Cuisine pages. They have recipe suggestions from all the competing nations. And that is how tonight's supper of sweet cous cous came about.


Sweet Couscous with Dried Fruit
In a saucepan mix 580ml water, 100g caster sugar, 40g dried cranberries, 60g dried apricots (chopped), 40g dried cherries (chopped) and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Take off heat, stir in 500g couscous and cover for 5-7 minutes (or until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid)

Fluff up the couscous with a fork and stir in 60g toasted slivered almonds, drizzle with Olive Oil and serve


Entirely perfect, plus you can get it done in extra time for a half-time snack.

I'm not a meat-eater but I'm sure it wouldn't be entirely inappropriate to serve this with a lamb tagine, I ate it straight from the bowl as a dessert style supper


My last post about documenting our family life reminded me of this height chart from Fawn & Forest


While I love the old-school pencil lines on a wall or door frame, we move house too often for this to be a lasting record, instead you write the child's name date and age on the parcel tags and use a safety pin to pin it on the ribbon at the right height. Et voila - a permanent record that one day will make a lovely keepsake.


The times they are a'changing

How amazing is this 'family portrait' taken over 30 years:


(it seems to be doing the rounds of the blogosphere but the earliest source I can find is here)

I am a bit obsessed with documenting time passing at the moment. Facing Vinny's first birthday I am left with a blurry fleeting memory of the last nine months, like the landscape that flicks before your eyes from a train window... but without a single full night of sleep.

I wish I had started taking monthly photos of Vin like this mama and this mama. That's why I think these Baby Month Cards from Blonde Designs are a great idea. I would have taken bump pics using them too, had I had the forethought.

I am putting together a photo-collage table display for one of the tables at Vin's birthday party, I plan to find pics from each month and line them up in frames or pegged up using one of these Ikea curtain wires

And because I am hoping Vincent will live up to his namesake and be a little artist when he's older, I could use it to display his artwork like this mama does:


So cute huh?



Thursday, 17 June 2010


While we were in London on Sunday we went exploring the Sunday Upmarket where we stopped by Jewellery by Vanya's beautifully designed stall. Check out her online shop here and hurry over to her blog where she is giving away one of her lovely handmade necklaces


Brick Lane Baby

I have been a terrible blogger lately. With like a million post ideas rattling around in my (newly shorn) head - yep that's right, I cut my hair mega short(!) - all I find myself doing is procrastinating.

Last weekend I got over my fear of travelling the city with Vin and we headed into the East End.


It is weird to think back on all the time I spent in London previously, I never enjoyed it. The crowds, the facelessness, the height and the speed (even the elevators move quicker) - it all made me feel very small.

I guess it shows how much those eyes and that mind have changed and grown, I recognised the shops and the streets but I drank it all in. The art and music and food - there was everything I love about Dam Square, the Champs Elysees and La Ramblas, but on my doorstep.


London has always held a mystical romance for me, I guess in the same way that Americans think of it - quaint and Victorian. But the London I am experiencing now is that and so much more. A vibrant and pulsing collection of mini cities, each with their own background, in-crowd and soundtrack, connected by a multicoloured spaghetti mess of electric trains hidden deep under the ground.


We're going again this weekend, to see David in Westend Live on Saturday, and then to Taste of London on Sunday for D's Father's day gift!


Saturday, 12 June 2010

World Cup Fever - The Menu

Hello friends, don't come too near. I am afraid to tell you that this house has been struck by World Cup Fever. Right now I am crafting a George cross garland, and I am off hunting tomorrow for Panini stickers to play with.


I wish wish wish V was older and we could learn about the countries England are playing, we would colour flags and learn new words and dress-up. I wish wish wish D didn't have to work tonight then we could invite friends round to enjoy the game. I would serve an American banquet with pecan pie and hotdogs and milkshakes and cupcakes like this one from Martha Stewart found via Amy Atlas


Instead I enjoyed an American inspired supper of corn chowder and mini cheeseburger croutons:


with Budweiser and California rose to wash it down:


and oh my it was nice.

The mini cheeseburgers were regular burgers that I trimmed using 1.5" cookie cutter, in mini buns (shop bought, but easy to make by rolling balls of bread dough and baking for a couple of minutes - Vin loves them!) with sweet gem lettuce, tiny squares of cheese and half a cherry tomato on top.

Tip: probably best to cut the burgers once defrosted and before cooking, mine looked somewhat butchered (ironic considering they were veggie-burgers)

Sweetcorn chowder:
In a food processor blitz together 1kg sweetcorn, 7 spring onions, 2 cloves garlic, 50g semolina to a speckled mush - I under did mine somewhat because I lovlovelove sweetcorn and like them whole

Scoop into pan and pour over 1.5 litres of stock, bring to boil and simmer 10 minutes - I poured off a lot of my stock afterwards, it seemed awfully runny

Meanwhile place a handful of nachos on a baking tray and scatter with grated cheese - pop in the oven or under the grill until the cheese is melted and top steaming bowls of soup - garnish with finely chopped red chilli and maybe the greens of some of the spring onions


I was hoping to make mini apple pies for dessert - I seem to have a little thing for food en miniature at the moment - but am frantically looking for recipes for Englands next two fixtures: Algeria and Slovenia(!) of all the countries I could be enjoying cuisine from: Japan, Mexico, France, Brazil...


We are back... again

My gosh it has been a long time little blog friend. Let me update. My laptop got damaged - badly damaged and I have been sans communication for the past two and half months. It has finally been repaired and they did a mighty good job, albeit by replacing the hardrive. I know that this would happen, especially since I have been meaning to backup my photos and research since the last time my computer crashed - that time I managed to get some dodgy bloke on a market stall to recover my photos, so at least little V's birth pics and stuff are safe. But I must have doubled my photo files since then, and the second half has been lost. Well, maybe not lost, the Tech Guys did return my damaged hardrive. So now I just need to find a dodgy bloke on a market stall (of which I am sure there are plenty in South London) and see if they can salvage anything - dear lord I hope so.

In the time we have been absent so much has happened. Little V is crawling now, and his mafia name would be Vinny Two-Teeth. He has also managed to navigate the step up (and sometimes down) into the kitchen which means there is no area of my home that is sacred. Oh and he has learnt to pull himself to standing, bypassing the pull to sitting stage and giving my a heart attack the morning I watched him pull himself up in his previously un-lowered cot - cue mama sitting on the floor, cot upturned, using a skateboard tool (damn Ikea allen keys - we have about twenty but not a single one fitted!) to adjust the cot base.

D is on stage nearly every night, this week he is playing the prosecutor, so a slightly bigger part than he was doing. I haven't been able to see the show yet, as we have noone we trust enough to watch V, plus I am trying to introduce a bottle/ cup of formula so he is not reliant on me and my boobs being ever-present, but as yet, he is resisting valiantly. D had a tooth pulled this week, so I have been playing nursemaid to two sore-teeth boys.

We have made plenty of friends in our area, V has many girlfriends, most of whom are younger than him, and it is amazing to think that they will all be in the same class at school, yet so different developmentally. It is V's birthday in 13 weeks and 6 days, so I am planning his party already. We are having a picnic in the park, with a sort of carnival/circus motif (I am not going all out with a theme, though I have seen some amazing ones online) cue plenty of bunting, balloons and alfresco food. Hopefully this September will be as warm as it was last year, if it rains we will be de-camping to our tiny flat, which backs onto the park, and will be overrun with babies and family. I want to invite the world to celebrate the most special day, and I will be going all-out party planner mode.

While we have been away my writing has suffered and no progress has been made on my book. It is ironic that blogs are such a procrastination and a distraction from writing, yet they provide such fuel and inspiration. I have however, been reading a lot. I have exhausted the cookery section of my local library, and have read all of Nigella's books. I am currently reading Delia's 'How to Cook' which is so interesting. I'm sure most people would skip the chapters on how to boil an egg but actually there are a lot of good tips (like how to test the freshness of an egg by submerging it in a glass of cold water). I'm sure the basis of good cooking lies in the simple advice, the kind that a mother or grandmother would have traditionally passed on.

I have also had a re-think about this little space here. I am going to re-do the layout and have a whole makeover. Plus I am going to streamline the posting, I have trouble defining what this space here is 'about' and that is probably because it is a mishmash of ramblings, inspiration, recipes and photos of Vinny. Keep watching and I will love you always.


Thursday, 22 April 2010

Being Childish

Today's 'get happy project' task is Being Childish. Very easy if you have kid of your own - but then you are probably quite accomplished in finding small pleasures and have days full of heart bursting moments when your little one smiles - but if you're shy borrow a child. Seriously, I'll lend you mine.

Feed the ducks, colouring in, dressing up, make a collage, dance around, run down a hill while yelling (even better - roll down it!), create a perfume by mixing all the smelly things in your bathroom, build a lego house...

The rules are it has to be simple and it has to instill a sense of nostalgia.

p.s. sorry this post is short and pic-less - I have bad cramps but will try to edit tomorrow. Loves x

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Things to Smile By

Yesterday I had a long conversation with my best friend. She is suffering with depression and anxiety and it is getting worse everytime we speak. She is seeking therapy and has been on a concotion of medication for years. It hurts to see her like this, and I know how low she is because, at times, I have struggled with mental illness and crippling anxiety too. I like to think I have overcome a lot of my demons, and have learnt to control those that will never leave. Being with David has helped me grow and having a child has given me perspective, strength I never knew I had and an abundance of joy. Leaving Birmingham has been so good for my soul and all the travelling, counselling, bottles of wine and soul-searching I have done in my life have contributed to the person I can call 'happy'. My friend sees this change in me, we have known each other for nearly ten years, she has been there in my darkest times and now I regale her with stories of love and kindness and inspiration. I think this may be why when she calls me she asks for answers, she wants to know my secret.

I know I don't have the answers, but there are tools that I use to help me see the bigger picture, help me smile and ease out my shoulders. Every day this week I am setting her an assignment - and you readers, please participate too.

This morning I sent a message asking her to make note of at least five things that make her smile throughout today. I told her to reply at the end of the day with her list, and I sent her my list from yesterday for inspiration.

1. Vinny laughing hyterically while I jump around trying to swat a wasp
2. Roast potatoes for dinner
3. Painting my toenails
4. Buying plants at the garden centre
5. Having a two hour conversation with my best friend

The beauty of this exercise is recognising little moments of happiness and instead of letting them slip by, actively noticing them and holding onto them. You can either start the day by promising to do this, which is great because it will increase your happiness levels throughout the day, or look back before your sleep and find some joy in even the crappiest of days.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

la mer

I just love the sea and I love photographing it. No matter how crap you are at photography (and most of the time I am) the twinkling waters or crashing waves always make a good shot.

Here are some pics I snapped on our trip to Eastbourne over Easter. I played around with the contrast and saturation a bit so sometimes the sky looks a bit blue and sometimes it's more dark and stormy - it was mainly grey the whole time, but I think these pics accurately sum up the changeable nature of an English Summer - right?







what we done when we was away

went for afternoon tea here...


which looked like this...


and this...


and this...

Sometimes I forget that I’m not Bakerella, which is how my cup-cookies/ cookie cakes/ muffin biscuits came about.

It started with this post from Bakerella. I made these cookie mix jars for my sister and my friend as part of the Handmade Christmas project. But then I didn’t see my friend over Xmas. And by the time we did go out to dinner, it was embarrassingly late to produce my gift. So I shoved the jar to the back of the cupboard where I forgot about it until last week when I was clearing out the cupboards ready for the move.


p.s. does anyone have any ideas who to stop the sugar from mashing into the M&Ms like that? Bakerella's look a lot neater than mine did!

In what I thought was a baking inspired brain wave I decided to use up all my ingredients before moving. I made bread, cake, lemonade (600g of sugar- hell yeah) and decided I might as well use up the cookie mix too. Only I couldn’t remember how much butter to use. So I guessed. Which led to Very Runny Cookie Dough. I couldn’t mould the balls with my hands. So I poured it into muffin cases instead.

And they looked something like this.


They were the perfect consistency for cookies, still soft in the middle, but crunchy on the outside. Just a bit umm… weird. Being that they were cake-shaped and all. But hey, if it’s good enough for Bakerella.
When I was writing the February chapter of the book I scribbled down a couple of Orient inspired recipes for quirky twists on Chinese New Year celebrations. I wanted to try Fortune Cookies, but they looked too fiddly and I got lazy. So I decided to make a cake instead. Green Tea Cake. Yes, that’s right, green tea. In a cake. Well you like coffee cake don’t you?


All the recipes I’d read using green tea specified something called Matcha Powder, which I’d never heard of before. Matcha is powdered tea, about the consistency of dust, or for a more appetising analogy, icing sugar. Having never heard of Matcha I had to improvise. We buy Clipper loose leaf tea, which I crushed in a mortar and pestle (you could also try breaking open a green tea-bag), then pushed it through a mini-sieve. I couldn’t get exactly the right texture, so instead of a gentle green coloured mixture I got a sponge with tiny black fleckles, which I didn’t mind so much. When I mixed the icing however, it looked like a bizarre salad dressing, but it tasted just right.


The tea added a lovely subtle flavour, almost refreshing with a the cream-cheese frosting I used below, but it was rich and thick and luscious with a chocolate ganache too.

p.s. I used a pound cake recipe as I was worried about the cake being too dry - but I have seen green tea used in shortbread, cupcakes and sponge sandwhiches too. The recipe is an American poundcake one I found on and I haven't got my scales here to covert the measurements (sorry British folk!)

2 large eggs
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tbsp Matcha (green tea powder)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar - I use my food processor for this but one day I will have a Kitchen Aid - in fact I'm considering pushing the wedding forward so I can put one on my gift register!
Gradually add beaten eggs
Sift flour, baking powder, and green tea powder together and add to the mixture
Pour into buttered pan (the recipe I read specified loaf pan, but I used a round one).
Bake at 200 for about 30-40 minutes.
I have to say this was the best sponge I think I've ever made - I used 00 flour which Nigella uses in all her recipes using plain flour - I'm not sure if it helped but it was good!

Blend a tub of cream cheese with a ouple of tablespoons of the green tea powder - add icing sugar to taste - I used a LOT of icing sugar to make up for the weirdness of the whole cake - it was lovely

p.s. cake + chopsticks = crumbs all over the floor and very little cake in your tummy!

a return to scheduled programming

Hello lovely readers who have kept coming back despite my complete lack of posting during The Big Move.

Finally I am back online after several cross words with a certain media giant Internet provider. I have to say my little blog break was actually quite enjoyable, in that it coincided with the lovely sunshine here in South London and many picnics were had and ducks were fed and photos were snapped.


I also got quite a bit of writing done for the book - but as I am an old-fashioned kinda gal I am handwriting in a little turquoise notebook with pink pages - longhand and full paragraphs too - because nothing gets me madder than poorly constructed sentences - actually that is a lie, there are plenty of things that get me mad these days. But as I was saying, writing longhand is both a pleasure and an inconvenience - you see, after writing in my little book I have to come home at the end of the day and type the same words into my lappytop thing here. This is good for my writing in that I get to re-draft and edit but bad in that it sucks up my precious writing time - and with a seven month old who is cutting his first tooth(!) time is very precious indeed.


But yesterday I saw the most amazing gadget on daytime TV - a pen that writes in ink on a normal pad, but then you plug it into the USB port on your keyboard and it transfers your writing onto the screen like a mini-scanner - this in itself was awesome but then the guy formatted the handwritten message into a word processer and it translated the text into ordinary type which could then be added to and edited! How amazing is this discovery! Why oh why did I not write down the name of this wonderous creation - because I am stupid that's why. If you watched 'This Morning' yesterday or you know what I'm wittering on about, please let me know. I want this pen!

The gap from blogging also had a really negative effect on my creativity - I get a lot of inspiration from the blogs I read and your lovely pictures. In fact there are several sub-chapters in the book that would not have any content if it wasn't for the inspiring crafts, cooking and cleverness of my favourite ladies - St Patricks Day for example was something I'd scrawled across the top of my 'March' inspiration page but then ignored because - I thought- what can you possibly do on St Patricks Day? Well a little blogosphere wandering came up with so many ideas - Guiness Cupcakes, shamrock twizzle sticks, so many many green foods, garlands and decorations. I am such a bad blogger, because I do this terrible thing where I save photos to my 'inspiration file' on my pc and never make a note of where those pictures were born. The file has been particularly useful whilsts sans 'net - but I don't want to post anything without crediting.

So this was a really long-winded return to this space of mine - I will be returning throughout the day (i.e. when Little V is sleeping) to update you with all the loveliness we have been getting up to in our little corner of the big smoke.

Blue Skies


Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Well, we made it to London folks, but not without a great deal of effort - pretty much everything that could have gone wrong in a cross-country move went wrong on the same day - but we are here. Crystal Palace, London, is my new home - for the next twelve months at least. And reader, I am in love. Any preconceptions I had about this area have been blown away by the refreshing and creative community I have found myself surrounded by. In just a tiny patch of land that makes up Crystal Palace triangle there is so much inspiration, delicious restaurants, vintage dress stores, gift shops and gallery space. The surrounding neighbourhood is green green green - with plants and squirrels galore. Our house backs onto a huge lake and it’s grounds and the street where we live is lined with trees.

Needless to say I am inspired muchly. I am sans Internet until some unforeseen reconnection date, which is irksome, but I have to say, the time spent reading and writing is lovely (though much of it is spent caring for Little V who is still so sick). I have spent just three days here and I have found a new project, profiling the wonderful shops and businesses I have found - with a view to creating a mini guide book of the area. Also, after a visit to the local library this morning I came home laden with baking literature which I have no doubt will yield some glowing reviews. I have been snap snap snapping my way round the town in proper tourist style - we are so very high up here, it offers such great views of London city. Moving itself creates opportunity for creativity, I am working on some ‘Change of Address’ cards to let people know our new details and making new friends has inspired me to put together a little biz card with a not so subtle plug for this here blog space of mine. And of course, I have been working on the book, still buzzing with ideas and a million photographs to be staged to grace it’s cover and pages.

So in short friends, the move went off but not without a hitch. Inspiration greets me at my new front door. Beauty will follow shortly.

Adieu lovely, but not for so long I pray


Cherry Cake & Ginger Beer


This book is pure love and nostalgia threaded with long-lost treats, baking recipes and childhood literature. Jane Brocket has had the envious task of re-reading kid-lit classics such as ‘The Famous Five‘, ‘What Katy Did’, ‘The Borrowers’, ‘The Secret Garden‘, and ‘Anne of Green Gables’ - scouring them for the culinary treats they hold in their pages. Treats like the kind mother would lovingly prepare, wrapped in a handkerchief, to be enjoyed on a cliff-top after discovering buried treasure. Treats like Paddington Bears Marmalade Rolls and Milly-Molly-Mandy‘s Little Patty-Pan Sultana Cakes. The book is spotted with delightful illustrations straight from the pages of your childhood. Books and food are the perfect combination, add some nostalgic charm and a longing for the simplicity of youth and you have this ‘golden treasury of classic treats’.

Recipe For Hunger


Beach/ hills/ garden/ park/ field/ woods/ secret island
Outdoor shoes and clothes
Swimming costume and towel
Roller skates, skipping rope, balls
Trees for climbing
Map and compass
Flower/ tree/ bird reference books


1. In large space, mix adults and children with fresh air

2. Add outdoor equipment as required and according to season

3. Allow the ingredients to blend for several hours

4. When blended, remove from outdoors and bring inside

5. Bake or make a treat or two

6. Feed well, and leave to read good books

I will definitely be re-creating ‘A Funny and Delightful Supper’ inspired by ‘The Railway Children’ and this sugar-coma inducing chocolate fest.

Brue Bogtrotter’s Heroic Chocolate Cake (from Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’)


350g soft brown sugar
350g soft butter
6 eggs
270g self-raising flour
80g good quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 tablespoons milk
Chocolate buttons to decorate


350g icing sugar
115g cocoa powder
150g soft butter
3-4 tablespoons milk

26cm round cake tin, greased and lined

1. Pre-heat oven to 180

2. In a large bowl cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy

3. Add the eggs into the mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition

4. Measure out flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl, then sift into large bowl. Fold in gently with a metal spoon, adding enough milk to make the mixture smooth but not runny

5. Spoon into the tin and level the surface

6. Bake for 50-55 minutes until a metal skewer comes out clean. Check the cake after 30 minutes and if necessary place a sheet of foil on the top to prevent burning

7. Leave the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool completely, then turn out

8. To make the filling and topping, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl and add butter and two tablespoons of the milk. Mix well with a round-ended knife or electric whisk, adding more milk if necessary to make the icing soft and easy to spread. Taste, and adjust the flavour with more icing sugar or cocoa if necessary

9. Carefully cut the cake into two layers. Spread a good quantity of butter icing on the bottom layer, replace the top layer and cover the whole cake with the remaining icing. Arrange chocolate buttons on the topping.

* recipes via “Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer” - Jane Brocket

p.s. read author, Jane Brocket's blog here