Saturday, June 27, 2009

On your Marks…

I know I’ve already waxed lyrical about some of the wonders of the British High Street.

Then the icon that is M&S turns 125… And wonders will never cease…

There’s homewares… Not to mention the jams, cordials and fizzy pops that aren’t on their website…

Silk underwear with retro styling to accentuate those curves and give a bit of oomph to your retro frocks…


And as if that weren’t enough… The frocks come strutting by…

Not one of these is over £100 and not one of these is made of polyester or anything else yucky. Utterly inspiring and utterly timeless.

And then there’s the accessories…

An online museum of the history of their shop, packaging and products is worth a little wander too…

As per usual, though, I won’t be held responsible for any credit card bashing that arises as a result of this post… Though I’m getting VERY close to nabbing one of the orange/black/white tulip frocks myself…

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bump needs a break

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My belly at 14 weeks! Off now for a week’s sojourn in *sunny* Somerset so will get back on track on our return.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

A countryside wedding… As a guest

So as not to bombard you with too many images of this divine wedding at once, I thought best to give you the eye candy in easy-to-manage bite size chunks…

A Saturday in June…


A walk to the church


Following the sea of hats…

A beautiful ceremony with sunshine to follow…


A car poised to take the couple to the reception


Bridesmaids in silver silk with butterfly print


Confetti, top hats and feathers… A wonderfully quintessentially British ‘do…


An amble down the hill to the bride’s family’s house for a garden party to put the Royal Horticultural Society and the National Trust to shame.


Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower shows have little to say against this little taster… 

More to follow…

Monday, June 15, 2009

Storm clouds a’brewing

I got sunburnt this weekend.

This was the view from the car on the way home yesterday.


Then today I burnt again (seriously, will I ever learn that my Irish heritage laughs in the face of Factor25??) and then it hailed on my journey home.


And then I saw this picture that I snapped last weekend.

And all was right with the world.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Atop the cake

I have a very good cohort of friends. Friends who enjoy (!) being put on the spot and asked for things in the shape of intensely stressful once-in-a-lifetime requests…

Such as…

Merry Christmas!

Please will you make my wedding cake?

257 Jenny is the mother of my godchild (one of the flowergirls) and was something between a live-in nanny, surrogate aunt and all round best friend when we were growing up. A family friend, she turned 21 at our home when she lived there for 18 months when I was about 7. She also happens to be the daughter of an incredibly talented chef and made my sister’s Christening cake in 1986. It seemed only natural that we ask Jenny to bring out the skills again.

What… is it really such a big ask??!?

As you will know from my various meanderings we rather dilly dallied on the style and structure of what we wanted. In truth, as long as it didn’t look like any of these we honestly didn’t mind. Which wasn’t exactly helpful to a nervous non-cake designer.

So we got our thinking hats on, our design books out and came up with this 1950s retro look on the left as our favourite but with the pearls on the right rather than the stripes. For some reason, living with hayfever for 27 years has rather put me off flowers-in-food, so we decided on compact layers, and four at that!

Due to the Boy’s nut resistence and yet my LOVE of walnuts in cake, the layers were decided thus:

  • Fruit cake (without whole nuts but moistened with ground almonds)
  • Fruit cake (with whole nuts and moistened with ground almonds)
  • Carrot cake without nuts
  • Carrot cake with nuts


170 All recipes, instructions and general brilliance were sourced in the wonderful Mich Turner’s Spectacular Cakes who also founded the Little Venice Cake Company from where these images are taken.

The final result is the rather unflattering image of me here… with FIMO cake toppers made by yours truly as described here.





Needless to say, we were over the moon.  

Monday, June 08, 2009

A rather civilised evening…

I have realised that what with the flurry of activity around the wedding itself and the build up to it, I didn’t really have a chance to go into detail on any of the components. I thought you may be interested in our hen preparations (beyond this rather meagre post)and how one goes about NOT wearing phallic plastic earrings all day and a sparkly tiara. Don’t get me wrong, each to his own and all that, but clubbing was never my idea of a good time really and my friends would not appreciate my taking them to a stripper, nor vice versa.

We originally started with vague intentions to do something ‘crafty’ or ‘relaxing’ and then going on to having cocktails or dinner or something like…

As the group of girls developed from about 5 to about 20, it became very clear very quickly that something ‘relaxing’ was either going to cost us all a fortune or was going to ostracise a good number of the crowd. If, however, your wallets are rather fatter than ours, options we investigated (in Central London) centred on…

The Sanctuary (of course!) … where you can get a day pass (but no treatments) with access to the atrium pool (with waterfall and swing!), the Koi Carp Lounge, Jacuzzi, and steam room for between £45 and £69 each (depending when in the day and week you want to go)

Other thoughts included the Angel Therapy Rooms in Islington and the Spa London in Bethnal Green.

We did realise, however, that that would then require people to go from fresh-faced and pampered to dolled-up and tipsy… We feared the turn-around would play havoc with our skin and our senses, so we turned to the idea of a crafty activity…

The Make Lounge is the only place that I have found that regularly offers the sort of light-touch, object focused workshop that we had in mind for our hen. I run similar workshops on a regular basis at my work, but unfortunately, we didn’t have any festivals on that my hens and I could hijack. The not-unreasonable £45 per person for three hours could see you making jewellery, bath and body products or for £55 each, fascinators or tiaras in four hours. You can bring your own food and booze to drink and nibble on while you’re crafting and with the tuition, product and materials included, it really is a great way to unwind and allow your possibly disparate set of friends to get to know one another in a relaxed environment.

Again, however, wallets got the better of us.

IMG_1198Having already put together my mum’s fascinator for the day, based on the shape and scale of one we had tried on, I was feeling pretty confident that I could teach the method (of sorts) to my friends…

(click on the images below for larger pics – it’s very easy to make your own fascinator and I may even bring on a tutorial if you’re up for details!)

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I did what I usually do in such instances… I raided ebay…

I bulk bought feathers (search for ‘coque’ and ‘hackle’ for the interesting looking ones usually gracing fascinators and go for a range of colours too) and a range of hairbands (for bases) in gold and silver. I managed to find a job lot of silk flowers in a variety of colours to use as centre pieces.

I brought along some beads I had kicking around at home, along with a hot glue gun and a range of wire and ribbon for attaching the options.

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My best friend hosted a crafty tea-party at her house for the afternoon of the hen. Cake, tea, champagne and frocks were required, along with the roses, the glue and the fun.

We then made our way to Malmaison Brasserie for cocktails and scrumptious dinner in their private dining room, which we had chosen both for the fact that it was an enclosed, though still vibrant space, and for the fact that bookings over 15 were able to make use of a reasonable set menu (although we didn’t use that system in the end…). With wine, cocktails and utterly full bellies, the bill came to £60 each, which considering we were in a 4* London hotel and had had an utterly decadent day, did not feel unreasonable.

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As a fortuitous by-product, the fascinators became our more civilised equivalent of the pink banner/stretch limo, identifying us as a group on a silly girlie mission, but not mortifying us beyond all recognition.

All in all, the day came in at less than £75 each for tea and dinner in London, with crafty activities and entertainment for 8 hours!

I can’t recommend this style of hen enough. For other ideas of the like, check out this thread on Time Out which glorifies in the unusual and chic rather than expensive and naff!!

A longer post than most, but just to say thanks to the girls for a gorgeous day, that just felt like the epitome of our tastes and fun! 

On an aside, I bought these for my two bridesmaids, which went down a storm! Retro, pink and not too far down the tacky route! I bought mine from the National Portrait Gallery shop, but check out ebay and the like for similar.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

First comes love... then comes marriage...

Then comes... yup...

The reason for my extended recent absence is due to the fact that at the moment, I have mostly been sleeping. That and feeling pretty 'ick' and eating absolute junk!

No, I've not come down with a bug...


My abdomen at just under 8 weeks...a small blob…

 12 week scan 2

And now at 12 actual thumb-sucking little baby!!!!

And me... though let's be honest, this dress is rather helping accentuate a rather less-existent bump than it implies...


At the moment, names for the bump include...

Battenberg (as I claimed a bump long before it was reasonably blamable on the baby. We have since decided the root factor is likely cake, and hence the name...)

Olive (again, as the measurement implied a small olive rather than a large bump-inducing mega-baby)

But names for after it has joined us in the world are probably going to be kept quiet for a little while yet...

I know this is supposed to be a wedding blog, but what can I say...the Pill is very efficient right up until you stop taking it...