Friday, 29 April 2011

William, Kate and Hyde Park...

This morning I got up at 6.30am to put the finishing touches to our Royal Wedding picnic (I made cakes with jam in the middle, and Eton Mess) and headed off bright and early to Hyde Park to join in with the huge Royal Wedding party. We arrived just before 9 and the park wasn't too busy, so we managed to grab a really good spot with an excellent view of the big screens.

We also found someone selling official programmes, so we could join in singing Jerusalem!

And then we did lots of flag-waving...

...saw the amazing fly-past...

...and ate rather a lot!

I'm actually a bit sunburnt - there was a point where we thought we could feel a few raindrops in the air, but it didn't rain! The Hyde Park party was brilliantly organised, with food and drink, entertainment, live music and fantastic big screens so everyone got a brilliant view. And of course the dress was beautiful! I particularly liked William and Kate driving themselves off to Clarence House in Prince Charles's Aston. Perfect!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Easter on film...

I've just had my 35mm photos from the Easter weekend developed - the number of duff ones per film seems to be gradually reducing, which can only be a step in the right direction! Here are a few of my favourites...I think they really capture the glorious sunshine we had!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Miserly May: Week One

I suppose I should get this out of the way at the beginning - week one of my Miserly May effort has not gone well!

My frugal plans were scuppered by a trip to Bristol with some friends, which was great fun, but sadly the shops were very tempting! I held out for a couple of hours, insisting that I was just going to window-shop and help the others find the things they were looking for, but then I spotted a fab grey jumper with black birds on it in Primark, which was 'only' £14, and I couldn't resist. I know with Primark that if you see something good, you have to grab it! I also bought their bold stripy midi dress, but I'm going to return it because it's too big. Which is a shame, because I haven't seen it anywhere in the next size down!

I also spotted these amazing pink wedge sandals in New Look - I never, ever wear heels, and certainly not ones as tall as those, but my friends persuaded me that they were suitably fabulous and that they'd be really comfy and easy to walk in thanks to the wedge. I nearly bought them in Bristol but resisted, and felt very smug until I went to Taunton with my mum on Monday - as soon as I pointed them out to her, she said I had to buy them! Now I just need to get up the courage to actually wear them, although I can already think of lots of things they'd go with. Skinny jeans, cropped trousers, cute summer dresses...if the weather holds out!

So not a fantastic update, really - it's turned into more of a 'my recent purchases' post than a Miserly May post! However, this week I am determined not to buy anything else. And technically it isn't May yet - I could always just write off this week and carry on for an extra week to make up for it. Tune in next week to see whether I keep to my resolution!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A sunny Easter weekend...

I spent a glorious Easter weekend staying with my parents in Somerset. We made lots of cake - a Victoria sponge that was light as a feather thanks to the magic of the Kenwood Chef, and one of our absolute favourites, a honey cake, which we gave an Easter feel to with some Mini Eggs and fluffy chicks!

And the lilac tree was in full bloom, smelling gorgeous...

...and here's a photo of Molly, just because she decided to pose!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Miserly May...

I did so well during Frugal February - but then unfortunately the weather became all lovely and warm and sunny, and I went on a bit of a spring dress-buying spree and undid all my good work!

So I'm imposing another month of frugality (is that even a word?) which I am going to call Miserly May. It's pay day tomorrow (thank heavens) and from now until May's pay day I will not be buying any clothes, shoes, or accessories. And I'll be trying to keep a close eye on my general spending, too. Which means more weekly menu planning and less 'Oh, I'll just chuck a couple of bottles of that nice wine into my basket'.

I'm already being tempted, though - especially by this gorgeous fruity dress! Perfect for the gorgeous weather we've got in London at the moment (we're forecast 26 degrees for today and tomorrow!)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Keeping it in the family - Simply Portugal Soaps

Anyone mind if I give a bit of free advertising to my mum's lovely soap website? No? Brilliant.

Simply Portugal Soaps is a joint venture between my mum and her friend and soap-maker extraordinaire, Shelley. Shelley lives high up in the mountains in the north of Portugal, and she makes beautiful soaps using lovely natural ingredients. In fact, the olive oil she uses comes from her own olive trees, and the goat's milk comes from her neighbour's goats just across the valley. Mum and I went to visit when we were in Portugal last year and it really is idyllic!

And the soaps really are lovely, too - I'm not just saying that! They come in a whole range of delicious scents, and they're gorgeously moisturising. Shelley has even come up with a camomile and calendula soap, which is especially soothing and great for sensitive skin. I helped my mum out at a craft fair recently and couldn't stop sniffing them all!

You can order online (they're £3.85 per 110g block) and do check out the Facebook page too. Mum is even branching out into doing wedding favours - smaller blocks of soaps in beautiful little gift bags - which I think is a great idea!

Monday, 18 April 2011

London Marathon 2011

It was a fantastic day for all of us London Marathon spectators yesterday - slightly too hot and sunny for running, if you ask me, but luckily I wasn't actually running the thing.

Instead, I made (and ate) vast amounts of pancakes...

...took some arty photos...

...cheered on the runners (I was particularly chuffed to get a thumbs-up from Mike Bushell of BBC Breakfast fame!)

...and ate cake. This is Sponge Cake Take Two, made with self-raising flour. The cinnamon loaf was fab, but the cake balls were undoubtedly the star of the show and they disappeared in record time!

And then we saw the most amazing moon over Greenwich on the way home!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Baking trials and tribulations...

I'm going to my friends' house to cheer on the London Marathon runners tomorrow (they live right next to the marathon route) and I thought I'd make a couple of cakes to take along. Namely a Victoria sponge (I just use my mum's recipe - you weigh the eggs and then use an equal amount of butter, sugar and flour. My eggs weighed 200g so that's what I used) and a cinnamon swirl cake.

The cinnamon swirl cake came together with no trouble at all - the batter looked so pretty before it went into the oven, and just as pretty when it came out! It's got a fantastic crunchy sugary topping and I can't wait to cut into it.

But then I got the sponge cakes out of the oven...and they were as flat as a pancake. Obviously, the (unlabelled) tub of flour in the cupboard, which I could have sworn was self-raising, wasn't. I looked at the poor sad cakes and knew that my options were to a) throw them away, b) eat them all by myself or c) try to salvage something out of them. 'Cake balls', I thought. And then when I'd stopped swearing, I had a quick Google for a recipe. The cake pop phenomenon that swept the internet a while back shows no sign of going away, and happily I discovered that I could turn my cake disaster into something ridiculously yummy with the addition of just a couple of ingredients. Namely a tub of ready-made frosting and some chocolate. Obviously I had to make cake balls, because I didn't have any sticks to turn them into cake pops, but I think they look pretty good!

And then I also did this:

Friday, 15 April 2011

Tweet tweet!

I'm not a member of the Twitterati myself, but that doesn't stop me loving these gorgeous bird pendants from Silver by Mail!

I've bought several things from Silver by Mail in the past and they've always been lovely - and I think they've really outdone themselves with these little enamelled birds. My favourite is the green and pink one, but they come in all sorts of colours and designs. They're quirky and a bit different, and I think they're really springlike! And at £33 each, I don't think they'll break the bank. You could even buy one for someone (or for yourself) as an alternative to all that Easter chocolate!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

New florals...

Another Thursday outfit post! I bought this fab floral dress from Topshop last week (honestly, the 'But I need more clothes! My old ones are too big!' excuse really is wearing thin now...) and I'm wearing it today with my long navy cardie and a leather belt from UniQlo over the top of it all.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Beetroot and barley...

Yes, it's another recipe from Domestic Sluttery! And another one that went straight to the top of my 'must try' list, instead of languishing in my recipe file for ages.

It's ridiculously easy to make - I didn't have dried mushrooms, so I just used a handful of fresh ones, and I had a leek that needed using, so I used that instead of onion. And I used the vacuum-packed cooked beetroot that you can get in the supermarket - the stuff without vinegar.

I just fried the leek and mushrooms together until the mushrooms had released their juice and everything had started to go slightly brown, and then followed the recipe from there on. I baked mine for an hour, because I didn't put mozzarella on the top - instead, I topped mine with a generous blob of Total 0% yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped dill. And it's seriously lovely - the beetroot is gorgeously earthy, the balsamic adds a bit of a tang, and the barley is lovely and chewy. I can see myself making a big dish of the stuff if I ever have a group of beetroot lovers round for supper!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Beautiful sunshine...

We've had amazing weather over the last few days - spring has officially sprung in the capital! Unfortunately I've been cooped up in the office most of the time, but the good news is that the lovely weather is set to last throughout the weekend, so I'll be making the most of it before it disappears!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Skinny stripes...

Another Polyvore outfit! I've been wearing variations on this theme a lot lately - either with Topshop Leigh skinny jeans (in black or navy) or with my new Mango straight-leg above-the-ankle trousers (what's the proper name for those? Cigarette pants or something?) My stripy tops are from H&M but this designer one was the closest I could find on Polyvore!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Where are my knees?

No, I'm not going completely crazy! Where Are My Knees? is a fab new blog run by five girls who all have their own weight loss and healthy living goals. You can pledge to join them in their mission by setting your own goals and updating them once a month on how you're getting on (that's what the new button at the side of my blog is about!)

My goals are to maintain my current weight and to run a half-marathon distance before the summer, just to see whether I really can knock a decent chunk off my current (pre-weightloss) personal best.

If you've been meaning to drop a few pounds, tone up or increase the amount of exercise you do, I'd definitely recommend having a look at Where Are My Knees - there are already loads of top tips on there!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

My new favourite thing...

Total 0% Greek yogurt, with a sprinkle of mixed spice and a drizzle of maple syrup. Seriously yummy! I gave fat-free yogurt a wide berth for ages, believing they're all packed with sugar and other additives (and a lot of them are). But then I realised that Total 0% has no added sugar and only 52 calories per 100g! It's gorgeous stuff!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

This is getting boring now, isn't it...

That's another PB. Can't quite believe it! This morning we ran 9.5 miles in 1:28.35, a minute quicker than last Saturday! It's amazing really - we're now consistently running between nine and nine-and-a-half-minute miles. Two and a half years ago, when I did my first half-marathon, I thought I was doing well if I managed twelve-minute miles!
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