Saturday, 31 December 2011

Fun, Frolics & Fireworks...

is how I spent my New Years eve... this is a first for me to be out on New Years Eve. New Years eve is usually spent under a duvet fast asleep, but this year  I ventured out!!!....

 to see the final performance of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, at the Palace Theatre in London followed by the fireworks on the embankment...
Evening started at Jamie's Italian followed by a stroll through Cambridge circus towards the theatre.
It was lovely to see all the lights, Jamie's was elegant and white and Cambridge circus was very pink!

Priscilla has been one of my favourite shows, and I have seen it numerous times, it never fails to leave that glow (just like the ready break advert) inside after seeing it. The cast are fabulous and the show is a riot from start to finish!

Loved Alf from Home & Away,... Ben Richards was my favourite Tick and Oliver Thornton was fabulous as Felicia... legs to die for!... Here's a thankyou for the cast yesterday....
With Priscilla drawing to a close, I headed out onto the rain soaked pavements of London, and headed down to the Embankement.. I knew I would'nt get a great spot as some people had been waiting sonce early afternoon, but being on my own I knew that I would be able to squeeze in somewhere.

Even though it was damp and cold, I can honestly say it was worth it, the fireworks were fabulous, atmosphere amazing... and the happiest new year I have had in a very long time... happy new year to you all...

Friday, 30 December 2011

These are a few....

of my favourite things...
Every year I look back on my year and try to highlight my favourite bits... I cant believe how much I did in 2011!!.. its been really hard to choose just 11 from 2011! here they are:

2011 has been an adventure... New York, London, Verona & Toulon... I wonder where 2012 will take me?... thankyou for joining me on my adventure.. here's to so much more in 2012.x

Thursday, 29 December 2011

My indulgence...

Is without a doubt a book, from a small girl onwards I have never been happier than when my head is stuck in a book. I love the fact that on the most mundane of days & the daily London commute they have the ability to transport me into a different world... That for me is the magic of a book. This year saw me dip my toe into the e-book world and I love it, I'm never far from a book with a Kindle, IPad, IPhone and the old faithful of an actual book!... Favourites are still purchased the old style! Nothing better than curling up with a good book, mug of coffee and a bar of chocolate for an afternoon of sheer indulgence....
Here are a few that I'm working through the holiday period....

This time of year I also look back on what were my favourites of 2011 and what I am looking forward to in 2012...
Here are my favourites from 2011:-
  • Victoria Connelly ~ The Perfect Hero, Kay moves to Lyme Regis to run a bed & breakfast where she is soon has a guest house full of film cast & crew filming Persuasion!... as an Austen fan this was a joy and a great twist on a. Favourite classic
  • Lucy Dillon ~ The secret of happy ever after, Stepmother to 3 girls, and a boisterous Dalmatian, Anna's solace has always been a book, especially children's classics.. With the opportunity to run a bookstore for her best friend, Anna finds some escape... But can it all end happily ever after?.. This will make you dig out your old childhood favs..
  • Jemma Forte ~ From London with Love, with James Bond & famous bond girl as parents all Jessica wants is a sense of normality... Escaping to London from LA she conceals her identity and embarks on an internship at a Tv company... Fun read with a little bit of 007 glamour!
  • Eleanor Moran ~ Breakfast in Bed, Amber is a chef, about to be divorced and finds herself working in the kitchen of one of the most arrogant fiery chefs in London!.. Ex-wife's, daughters and soon to be ex husbands all add to the melting pot to make for a great read not as frothy as the title eludes...
  • Carmen Reid ~ New York valentine, Annie is off to New York for her dream job; 5th book in the Annie Valentine series and this didn't disappoint... With daughter in tow they head for NY to help save her best friends ailing fashion business
  • Cathy Woodman ~ The sweetest thing, Jennie moves to the country after a failed marriage into a ramshackle house & starts a cake business only to find that life in the country isn't as idyllic as she dreamed.. Fun read and the farmer next door was a teat!!!...
  • Ali Harris ~ Miracle on Regent Street, Evie embarks on saving the elegant old department store that she works in as the stockroom girl by Boxing day.. Filled with old school glamour, vintage clothes and soaps!.. A definite nod to the grand dame of regent street Liberty's... Loved it..
  • Jane Costello ~ Girl on the Run, Abby never one for exercise embarks on a fitness regime by joining her best friends running club.. Spurned on by some devastating news from her assistant she commits to a fundraiser with some unexpected results... A riot of a read, laugh out loud chick lit at its best.. This book inspired me to pull on the running shoes!
  • Jo Carnegie ~ Dirty Tricks, a romp of a read, the Jilly Cooper of today..set between Churchminster and London, Story of Harriet & Saffy, H volunteering for charity work in a community centre and S in Churchminster writing her book.. Full of twists and surprises great fun from start to finish..
  • Ali McNamara ~ Breakfast at Darcy's, Darcy inherits an island off the coast of Ireland and leaves her city life behind, and embarks on 12 months on the island. Her biggest challenge is to persuade 14 people to live there too... This book is beautifully written, it will make you want to go to island, and make sure that you have a tissue or two handy.. Loved it... 2nd fav book of the year... Added bonus was that I met Ali this year, where we chatted about some of our favourite things!.. Books, New York & from nottinghill with love actually.. Favourite book of 2010!
And finally my favourite book of the year:
  •  Jenny Colgan ~ Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe, Caring for her beloved Gramps, Issy pursues her dream job of a bakery; encouraged by her baker grandfather she embarks on dream... And the cupcake cafe is born.. This book is a joy, the relationship between Issy & her Gramps is heartwarming, a fabulous read with the addition of some very yummy recipes... Yum!
So those were my favourite "books to eat" in 2011, here's what I'm looking forward to in 2012

  • Jane Costello - All the Single Ladies
  • Sasha Wagstaff - Recipe for Love
  • Fiona Gibson - The Great Escape
  • Fern Britton - Hidden Treasures
  • Jenny Colgan - Rosie Hopkins sweet shop of dreams
  • Carole Matthews - Summer Daydreams
  • Stella Newman - Pear shaped
  • Emily Giffin - Where we belong
  • Jo Carnegie - Horse Play
also looking forward too but not pictured:
  • I heart London - Lindsey Kelk
  • The Long Weekend - Veronica Henry
  • White Wedding - Milly Johnson
  • Happily Ever After - Harriet Evans
  • and the follow up to From Nottinghill with Love by Ali Mcnamara ... Scarlett in New York.. how exciting!
happy reading!. x

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dear Santa...

before Christmas I sent Santa my wishlist for my perfect Christmas... it looked like this:

  • Michael Buble crooning under the Christmas Tree, with
  • Jamie Oliver cooking the perfect Christmas Dinner, followed by an afternoon of rugby,
  • Jonny Wilkinsons thighs perfect afternoon viewing! followed by
  • an evening unwrapping George Clooney, a little something from Tiffany, and a year in New York!....
I think you may have got a little muddled, but as I know you are very busy I will excuse you!!!.. thankyou for my treats...
Jonny Wilkinson autobiography, Jamies Olivers Great Britain cook book, Michael Buble Christmas CD, Something from Tiffany's by Melissa Hill, Page a day Diary (complete with pictures Ive taken in NY!) Coach New York purse & keyring...
Just waiting for George to knock on the door x (one lives in hope!)

will post more of my Christmas treats over the next few days... hope you all had a fabulous Christmas...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A slice of New York in London...

Christmas and New York usually go together for me, but having spent Christmas there last year and a visit in May, even I couldn't justify to the bank manager another trip in December! ....
Last week, with a much needed day off, myself & C embarked on NY day in London ( well if T cant go to New York, then bring NY to T!)
Day started at the beautiful Somerset House.. where residing for the festive season is the Tiffany ice rink, gorgeous and very reminisce of the Rockefeller centre... the tree is beautiful and is decorated to compliment
the Tiffany windows story book.

Due to having just come off crutches, I didn't tempt fate and ice skate, but it was great fun watching from the sidelines in the comfort of the Skate Lounge, where we drunk hot chocolate and munched mince pies, courtesy of Tom Aitkens.

After a browse round the Tiffany sweet shop, which is a Tiffany blue box shop filled with Tiffany treats & sweets, we headed over to Covent garden. Destination of choice in CG was the colourful Kate Spade. I always visit Kate Spade when in NY and was very excited to see that they had recently opened a store in Covent garden. Fell in love with too many handbags... and my wish list for Santa is growing!

After a peruse through the market looking at the huge baubles (just like those at Radio City) we stopped off at the American Bar in the Savoy for a drink and gossip. It was great to just sit and relax in beautiful surroundings. The Savoy is one of my favourite hotels in London oozing glamour and style, and is stunning since its refurbishment the Christmas trees are elegantly understated and smell divine.

Refreshed and revived we strolled down The Strand towards the Coliseum for an evening at the ballet. Prior to the ballet food was required, as after much walking we were a little hungry!... just around the corner to the Coliseum is a Byrons... (probably the closest to Shake Shack).. love Byrons, designed to suit the ambiance of the area, great food and friendly service... loved that instead of mints presented with the bill we got Christmas clementines!... fantastic.

Fed and refreshed we headed to the Coliseum, where we spent a magical evening watching "The Nutcracker" the perfect ballet for Christmas, performed by the English National Ballet it was breathtaking and stunning.
Scenery and venue stunning, complimenting a stunning performance....

my little slice of New York in London.... perfect x

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Wild Boys of Pop...

Still hold my heart 30 years on... I am of course referring to the 80's original boy band Duran Duran. As previously blogged I have been a Duranie for a very long time. So with much excitement and trepidation I headed to the O2 last Monday for an evening with the original bad boys of pop.
I deliberated whether to go as due to several things I hadn't had the greatest of weeks and had just come off crutches... But I'm so glad that I did... It seemed that jumping up & down reliving my youth did me the world of good. My seat was fantastic and I became a screening teenager all over again.
Duran Duran have never been a band to stand still, the line up has changed a few times, they have experimented with their sound and direction, but I am pleased to say they are back doing what they do best and their last album is one of their best... Produced by Mark Ronson it is a fabulous piece of work, influenced by their Duran Duran and Rio albums.
Demonstrating that Duran Duran move with the times, a live Twitter feed was rolling across the screen on stage before the gig, urging all to Tweet #duranlive with messages ... Also during the show was a 5 minute twitter break!
Set list of the show was: (all highlighted songs link to a you tube clip)
Before the Rain
Planet Earth
A View to a Kill
Blame the Machines
Come undone
Safe
The Reflex
The man who stole a Leopard
Girl Panic (joined by Mark Ronson on guitar)

Is there something I should know
Tiger Tiger
White lines
Careless memories
Ordinary world
Notorious
Hungry like the wolf
Reach for the Sunrise

Encore1
Encore2

Can honestly its one of the best gigs I've been to... Simon was outstanding and he, John, Nick & Roger looked like they were having the time of their life. Set design looked deceptively basic but had a fantastic light & video display to each song. Duran Duran were groundbreaking in the launch of the pop video and some of the set showcased this. The boys have been back in the news recently with their new video for girl panic which is the follow on from girls on film! Filmed at the Savoy hotel it demonstrates Duran Duran at their best... Glamour, girls, champagne ?... what more could you ask for!... Fab night.x

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas with the Cookie Queen

Monday I spent the day with the Cookie Queen herself Peggy Porschen making Christmas Winter Wonderland cakes and cookies for the festive season. I've waxed lyrically about Peggy's parlour before and it is one of my favourite places in London for cupcakes and coffee...

 The Christmas parlour is delightful and is decorated beautifully for the festive season,the smell of gingerbread hits you as you open the door.

Across the road from the parlour is Peggy's academy. The team are warm and friendly from the minute you enter, with a small shop and lounge area downstairs to the school upstairs everything is decorated in Peggy's recognisable style.
The day started with a quick lesson on royal icing, making piping bags and mixing the right consistency icing for piping & decorating the gingerbread cookies. What amazed me was that Peggy doesn't use piping nozzles when icing her cookies... So a lesson in piping lines & dots was required the Peggy way! Perfect piping bag & small hole!

With piping bags ready it was icing time!.... 6 baubles and 5 snowflakes were iced and left to dry whilst we went for lunch.
With the "easy" part done,the afternoon challenge was to decorate the cookies and 3 mini cakes!...all thankfully with a little help from some glitter & silver balls.Throughout the day Peggy was patient and a great teacher sharing lots of tips and helping us all.

There were 7 of us on the course, 2 ladies having flown over from Germany especially for it. We all had a great day and went home with a great Christmas box of treats.. All wrapped & packed in the distinctive Peggy style.
Here are my treats... the cookies on the white tree & tray are Peggy's, the rest are mine!... I was very pleased with how they came out and look forward to eating!...
Thanks Peggy & team for a lovely day, had a fabulous time.x

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Grandfathers tale...

this year I have fallen in love with a magical Christmas story...  The Winter Carousel by David Melling.
The story is of a young boy and his grandfather and their discovery of a magical carousel in Central park.
It has also been the inspiration for this years Tiffany's windows, a variation is seen in all their stores but I am loving the 5th avenue windows the most!...

 would love to see them for real but can't have a Christmas in New York 2 years running!... will settle for the Bond street sights and Tiffany's skating rink at somerset house (story is being read at the Skating rink on selected days) Tiffany haven't released this book to buy, its only available by web. (think they have missed an opportunity of creating a beautiful legacy to hand down over generations.. ) it is beautiful and available here to read and listen to.
Today would have been my Gramps's birthday and this story tugged my heartstrings on the mutual love, between the little boy & his grandfather and I could imagine sharing this story with my Gramps, because Central park really is the most magical place to be in the snow....

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Buble & Ballet...

at Brown Thomas....
Part of my working week is spent with the Brown Thomas team, quite often a day trip to Dublin.. as you can imagine their is some friendly rivalry between the big yellow store and the brown store across the Irish sea!... this Christmas the yellow store has gone white with their winter wonderland and the brown store has been to the ballet.... the windows are beautiful, oozing glamour, and decadence...
from Sleeping Beauty...

to the dark and dramatic Swan lake

Cinderella and her ugly sisters... looking for her prince charming

to my favourite The Nutcracker.... pink, cakes & candy what more could you wish for for Christmas!..
all featured with their original designs and who better to switch on the lights from Brown Thomas but the gorgeous Michael Buble...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

chocolate martini...

was breakfast on Sunday morning!.... for my friend L's birthday in August I bought her a chocolate cocktail, whoopie & cupcake treat, it has taken us this long to co-ordinate diary's to book... so adding to my feast of a weekend I ended up in London Sunday morning mixing chocolate martinis for breakfast.

The venue is an industrial units in the heart of hatton garden but once inside is an eclectic mix of retro modern.. with lots of green & blacks chocolate...

 lots to do in the 2hrs... cocktails, whoopies (complete with chocolate marshmallow filing) and cupcakes... great mix of people on our table and we had lots of laughs, the whoopie filing was very funny along with the chocolate decoration on the martini glasses.... L won a bag of treats for her reindeer....

 a fun filled morning and great to spend some time with L. x

Saturday, 3 December 2011

christmas cupcakes with cakeboy

After a stressful morning at work, Saturday afternoon I headed over to CakeBoy in Battersea for an afternoon of Christmas cupcakes with the lovely Eric Lanlard... a treat booked months ago as a birthday gift.
I have already spent an afternoon with Eric earlier this year and loved it, and an afternoon of Christmas Cupcakes didn't disappoint.
First part of the afternoon was to make some decorations to adorn the cupcakes.... easier said than done... modelling paste, food colouring & glitter!.... very glad that we get a complimentary apron...
Eric is very patient, and exactly as you see him on the TV... what also amazes me how hands on he is, constantly clearing up behind you.... as well as interacting with his regular cafe clients... after the molding, painting & glittering, you are lulled into a false sense of security that the messy bit is over and out comes the cream cheese frosting for the 12 cupcakes. Flavours of the cupcakes are choc chip, vanilla, lemon and gingerbread.... all moist and absolutely delicious especially the cream cheese frosting... with demonstrations complete, I was then let loose with a piping bag to ice mine... opting for the vanilla & chocolate frosting.. mmmm
With the hard work over, a quick clear down is put into action before you are treated to an Afternoon Tea Cake boy style complete with Eric as Champagne boy!... absolutely delicious, the marshmallow coconut, with green tea cone & raspberry filling were luscious, as were the mince pies & macarons
everything was a feast on the senses and we were all like children in a sweet shop, unsure of what to try next, but wanting to eat it all!...
A great afternoon, thanks to Eric & team for a fabulous festive treat.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Taste of Christmas...Mmmm

Today dawned bright & crisp... it's finally beginning to feel Christmassy... a couple of friends and I were headed to the Excel centre in East London for "ATaste of Christmas".... this is beginning to be a bit of a tradition of ours and kick starts the build-up to Christmas. With a feast of exhibits offering samples and tastings it really is a taste of christmas along with some fabulous demonstrations from the cream of the chef world its is a real treat of day.
Getting there early we managed to see Jamie & Hugh open the proceedings and talk about what their Christmas plans are... looking forward to both their Christmas shows. Jamies Christmas with Bells on airs on December 14th C4, recipes can be found here and Hughs River Cottage Christmas airs on December 12th more details here

With the show open we browsed the stalls, tasting and sampling lots!... favourites of the day goodie bag from Jamies magazine, with Christmas essentials; Jamies Christmas pudding, duck fat for roasties, mulled wine syrup, magazine & big gold chocolate coin!.. yum yum... the Chocolate wine from the Chocolate Shop  wine company was also a big hit.... my other two favourites of the day were William Curley's chocolate demonstration and the Waitrose school of magic... see blog posts below.
Lots of treats purchased for Christmas and Florences boot was full on the way home!... looking forward to next year already...

Cookery school of magic...

Taste of Christmas would not be complete without Waitrose and this year they did not disappoint, the advert is already one of my favourites this year and this years theme at Taste was The Waitrose Cookery school of magic, showcasing Delia and Hestons style...

 along with some beautiful styling and a tempting array of waitrose christmas treats, you could also marzipan and ice a mini delia cake. there was magic and games galore... the fireplace skittles were a big hit with my friend winning a great present from under the waitrose tree. Hestons lab was today's version of Willie Wonka.. the curry popcorn was cool and his mince pies are utterly delicious.. and yes they do smell of christmas trees!
Delias kitchen was delightful, I wanted to take it all home;
along with the book stairs and the ribbon cabinet.... loved it all.... maybe waitrose could do a range of Delia furniture?...
loved it all... now compiling Christmas food treat list from Waitrose....

A Taste of Chocolate....

one of the challenges at Taste of Christmas is which chef to watch and demonstration to see... William Curley was my pick of the day!... well it was chocolate how could I miss that?..
William is the king in the chocolate world and has an amazing biog that most of us would salivate over, both his chocolate boutiques are a little slice of heaven...

Sourcing only the best ingredients in the world, his chocolate is devine... so I waited with much anticipation to see what he would make in the half hour slot... I wasn't disappointed, his twist on two childhood favourites, jaffa cakes and millionaires shortbread... both of the  recipes can be found in his book.
It was a treat to watch and listen and I learnt loads...he made it look so easy,  his book is on my wish list for Christmas .. mmm yum the jaffa cakes with orange chocolate ganache were delicious.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

On the first day of Christmas...

Starbucks gave to me, a free mince pie with an Egg Nog Latte..... so the holiday season is upon us and its beginning to feel a little like Christmas.
The 1st of December also means the start of Journal Your Christmas ( hosted by the very talented Shimelle)... last years was my first JYC to coincide with my Christmas in NYC!... but I loved it so much I've started another for this year. Here's last years...
Day1 is always an introduction & manifesto...

I am not going to get stressed about completing the album this side of Christmas... I'm going to blog & journal my days and then pull together everything with a deadline by the end of January. This is what I did last year and it worked for me, along with alieving the stress of a horrendous work schedule.....loving my Christmas planner tea-towel.....

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Fun, Frolics & Fireworks...

is how I spent my New Years eve... this is a first for me to be out on New Years Eve. New Years eve is usually spent under a duvet fast asleep, but this year  I ventured out!!!....

 to see the final performance of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, at the Palace Theatre in London followed by the fireworks on the embankment...
Evening started at Jamie's Italian followed by a stroll through Cambridge circus towards the theatre.
It was lovely to see all the lights, Jamie's was elegant and white and Cambridge circus was very pink!

Priscilla has been one of my favourite shows, and I have seen it numerous times, it never fails to leave that glow (just like the ready break advert) inside after seeing it. The cast are fabulous and the show is a riot from start to finish!

Loved Alf from Home & Away,... Ben Richards was my favourite Tick and Oliver Thornton was fabulous as Felicia... legs to die for!... Here's a thankyou for the cast yesterday....
With Priscilla drawing to a close, I headed out onto the rain soaked pavements of London, and headed down to the Embankement.. I knew I would'nt get a great spot as some people had been waiting sonce early afternoon, but being on my own I knew that I would be able to squeeze in somewhere.

Even though it was damp and cold, I can honestly say it was worth it, the fireworks were fabulous, atmosphere amazing... and the happiest new year I have had in a very long time... happy new year to you all...

Friday, 30 December 2011

These are a few....

of my favourite things...
Every year I look back on my year and try to highlight my favourite bits... I cant believe how much I did in 2011!!.. its been really hard to choose just 11 from 2011! here they are:

2011 has been an adventure... New York, London, Verona & Toulon... I wonder where 2012 will take me?... thankyou for joining me on my adventure.. here's to so much more in 2012.x

Thursday, 29 December 2011

My indulgence...

Is without a doubt a book, from a small girl onwards I have never been happier than when my head is stuck in a book. I love the fact that on the most mundane of days & the daily London commute they have the ability to transport me into a different world... That for me is the magic of a book. This year saw me dip my toe into the e-book world and I love it, I'm never far from a book with a Kindle, IPad, IPhone and the old faithful of an actual book!... Favourites are still purchased the old style! Nothing better than curling up with a good book, mug of coffee and a bar of chocolate for an afternoon of sheer indulgence....
Here are a few that I'm working through the holiday period....

This time of year I also look back on what were my favourites of 2011 and what I am looking forward to in 2012...
Here are my favourites from 2011:-
  • Victoria Connelly ~ The Perfect Hero, Kay moves to Lyme Regis to run a bed & breakfast where she is soon has a guest house full of film cast & crew filming Persuasion!... as an Austen fan this was a joy and a great twist on a. Favourite classic
  • Lucy Dillon ~ The secret of happy ever after, Stepmother to 3 girls, and a boisterous Dalmatian, Anna's solace has always been a book, especially children's classics.. With the opportunity to run a bookstore for her best friend, Anna finds some escape... But can it all end happily ever after?.. This will make you dig out your old childhood favs..
  • Jemma Forte ~ From London with Love, with James Bond & famous bond girl as parents all Jessica wants is a sense of normality... Escaping to London from LA she conceals her identity and embarks on an internship at a Tv company... Fun read with a little bit of 007 glamour!
  • Eleanor Moran ~ Breakfast in Bed, Amber is a chef, about to be divorced and finds herself working in the kitchen of one of the most arrogant fiery chefs in London!.. Ex-wife's, daughters and soon to be ex husbands all add to the melting pot to make for a great read not as frothy as the title eludes...
  • Carmen Reid ~ New York valentine, Annie is off to New York for her dream job; 5th book in the Annie Valentine series and this didn't disappoint... With daughter in tow they head for NY to help save her best friends ailing fashion business
  • Cathy Woodman ~ The sweetest thing, Jennie moves to the country after a failed marriage into a ramshackle house & starts a cake business only to find that life in the country isn't as idyllic as she dreamed.. Fun read and the farmer next door was a teat!!!...
  • Ali Harris ~ Miracle on Regent Street, Evie embarks on saving the elegant old department store that she works in as the stockroom girl by Boxing day.. Filled with old school glamour, vintage clothes and soaps!.. A definite nod to the grand dame of regent street Liberty's... Loved it..
  • Jane Costello ~ Girl on the Run, Abby never one for exercise embarks on a fitness regime by joining her best friends running club.. Spurned on by some devastating news from her assistant she commits to a fundraiser with some unexpected results... A riot of a read, laugh out loud chick lit at its best.. This book inspired me to pull on the running shoes!
  • Jo Carnegie ~ Dirty Tricks, a romp of a read, the Jilly Cooper of today..set between Churchminster and London, Story of Harriet & Saffy, H volunteering for charity work in a community centre and S in Churchminster writing her book.. Full of twists and surprises great fun from start to finish..
  • Ali McNamara ~ Breakfast at Darcy's, Darcy inherits an island off the coast of Ireland and leaves her city life behind, and embarks on 12 months on the island. Her biggest challenge is to persuade 14 people to live there too... This book is beautifully written, it will make you want to go to island, and make sure that you have a tissue or two handy.. Loved it... 2nd fav book of the year... Added bonus was that I met Ali this year, where we chatted about some of our favourite things!.. Books, New York & from nottinghill with love actually.. Favourite book of 2010!
And finally my favourite book of the year:
  •  Jenny Colgan ~ Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe, Caring for her beloved Gramps, Issy pursues her dream job of a bakery; encouraged by her baker grandfather she embarks on dream... And the cupcake cafe is born.. This book is a joy, the relationship between Issy & her Gramps is heartwarming, a fabulous read with the addition of some very yummy recipes... Yum!
So those were my favourite "books to eat" in 2011, here's what I'm looking forward to in 2012

  • Jane Costello - All the Single Ladies
  • Sasha Wagstaff - Recipe for Love
  • Fiona Gibson - The Great Escape
  • Fern Britton - Hidden Treasures
  • Jenny Colgan - Rosie Hopkins sweet shop of dreams
  • Carole Matthews - Summer Daydreams
  • Stella Newman - Pear shaped
  • Emily Giffin - Where we belong
  • Jo Carnegie - Horse Play
also looking forward too but not pictured:
  • I heart London - Lindsey Kelk
  • The Long Weekend - Veronica Henry
  • White Wedding - Milly Johnson
  • Happily Ever After - Harriet Evans
  • and the follow up to From Nottinghill with Love by Ali Mcnamara ... Scarlett in New York.. how exciting!
happy reading!. x

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dear Santa...

before Christmas I sent Santa my wishlist for my perfect Christmas... it looked like this:

  • Michael Buble crooning under the Christmas Tree, with
  • Jamie Oliver cooking the perfect Christmas Dinner, followed by an afternoon of rugby,
  • Jonny Wilkinsons thighs perfect afternoon viewing! followed by
  • an evening unwrapping George Clooney, a little something from Tiffany, and a year in New York!....
I think you may have got a little muddled, but as I know you are very busy I will excuse you!!!.. thankyou for my treats...
Jonny Wilkinson autobiography, Jamies Olivers Great Britain cook book, Michael Buble Christmas CD, Something from Tiffany's by Melissa Hill, Page a day Diary (complete with pictures Ive taken in NY!) Coach New York purse & keyring...
Just waiting for George to knock on the door x (one lives in hope!)

will post more of my Christmas treats over the next few days... hope you all had a fabulous Christmas...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A slice of New York in London...

Christmas and New York usually go together for me, but having spent Christmas there last year and a visit in May, even I couldn't justify to the bank manager another trip in December! ....
Last week, with a much needed day off, myself & C embarked on NY day in London ( well if T cant go to New York, then bring NY to T!)
Day started at the beautiful Somerset House.. where residing for the festive season is the Tiffany ice rink, gorgeous and very reminisce of the Rockefeller centre... the tree is beautiful and is decorated to compliment
the Tiffany windows story book.

Due to having just come off crutches, I didn't tempt fate and ice skate, but it was great fun watching from the sidelines in the comfort of the Skate Lounge, where we drunk hot chocolate and munched mince pies, courtesy of Tom Aitkens.

After a browse round the Tiffany sweet shop, which is a Tiffany blue box shop filled with Tiffany treats & sweets, we headed over to Covent garden. Destination of choice in CG was the colourful Kate Spade. I always visit Kate Spade when in NY and was very excited to see that they had recently opened a store in Covent garden. Fell in love with too many handbags... and my wish list for Santa is growing!

After a peruse through the market looking at the huge baubles (just like those at Radio City) we stopped off at the American Bar in the Savoy for a drink and gossip. It was great to just sit and relax in beautiful surroundings. The Savoy is one of my favourite hotels in London oozing glamour and style, and is stunning since its refurbishment the Christmas trees are elegantly understated and smell divine.

Refreshed and revived we strolled down The Strand towards the Coliseum for an evening at the ballet. Prior to the ballet food was required, as after much walking we were a little hungry!... just around the corner to the Coliseum is a Byrons... (probably the closest to Shake Shack).. love Byrons, designed to suit the ambiance of the area, great food and friendly service... loved that instead of mints presented with the bill we got Christmas clementines!... fantastic.

Fed and refreshed we headed to the Coliseum, where we spent a magical evening watching "The Nutcracker" the perfect ballet for Christmas, performed by the English National Ballet it was breathtaking and stunning.
Scenery and venue stunning, complimenting a stunning performance....

my little slice of New York in London.... perfect x

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Wild Boys of Pop...

Still hold my heart 30 years on... I am of course referring to the 80's original boy band Duran Duran. As previously blogged I have been a Duranie for a very long time. So with much excitement and trepidation I headed to the O2 last Monday for an evening with the original bad boys of pop.
I deliberated whether to go as due to several things I hadn't had the greatest of weeks and had just come off crutches... But I'm so glad that I did... It seemed that jumping up & down reliving my youth did me the world of good. My seat was fantastic and I became a screening teenager all over again.
Duran Duran have never been a band to stand still, the line up has changed a few times, they have experimented with their sound and direction, but I am pleased to say they are back doing what they do best and their last album is one of their best... Produced by Mark Ronson it is a fabulous piece of work, influenced by their Duran Duran and Rio albums.
Demonstrating that Duran Duran move with the times, a live Twitter feed was rolling across the screen on stage before the gig, urging all to Tweet #duranlive with messages ... Also during the show was a 5 minute twitter break!
Set list of the show was: (all highlighted songs link to a you tube clip)
Before the Rain
Planet Earth
A View to a Kill
Blame the Machines
Come undone
Safe
The Reflex
The man who stole a Leopard
Girl Panic (joined by Mark Ronson on guitar)

Is there something I should know
Tiger Tiger
White lines
Careless memories
Ordinary world
Notorious
Hungry like the wolf
Reach for the Sunrise

Encore1
Encore2

Can honestly its one of the best gigs I've been to... Simon was outstanding and he, John, Nick & Roger looked like they were having the time of their life. Set design looked deceptively basic but had a fantastic light & video display to each song. Duran Duran were groundbreaking in the launch of the pop video and some of the set showcased this. The boys have been back in the news recently with their new video for girl panic which is the follow on from girls on film! Filmed at the Savoy hotel it demonstrates Duran Duran at their best... Glamour, girls, champagne ?... what more could you ask for!... Fab night.x

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Christmas with the Cookie Queen

Monday I spent the day with the Cookie Queen herself Peggy Porschen making Christmas Winter Wonderland cakes and cookies for the festive season. I've waxed lyrically about Peggy's parlour before and it is one of my favourite places in London for cupcakes and coffee...

 The Christmas parlour is delightful and is decorated beautifully for the festive season,the smell of gingerbread hits you as you open the door.

Across the road from the parlour is Peggy's academy. The team are warm and friendly from the minute you enter, with a small shop and lounge area downstairs to the school upstairs everything is decorated in Peggy's recognisable style.
The day started with a quick lesson on royal icing, making piping bags and mixing the right consistency icing for piping & decorating the gingerbread cookies. What amazed me was that Peggy doesn't use piping nozzles when icing her cookies... So a lesson in piping lines & dots was required the Peggy way! Perfect piping bag & small hole!

With piping bags ready it was icing time!.... 6 baubles and 5 snowflakes were iced and left to dry whilst we went for lunch.
With the "easy" part done,the afternoon challenge was to decorate the cookies and 3 mini cakes!...all thankfully with a little help from some glitter & silver balls.Throughout the day Peggy was patient and a great teacher sharing lots of tips and helping us all.

There were 7 of us on the course, 2 ladies having flown over from Germany especially for it. We all had a great day and went home with a great Christmas box of treats.. All wrapped & packed in the distinctive Peggy style.
Here are my treats... the cookies on the white tree & tray are Peggy's, the rest are mine!... I was very pleased with how they came out and look forward to eating!...
Thanks Peggy & team for a lovely day, had a fabulous time.x

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Grandfathers tale...

this year I have fallen in love with a magical Christmas story...  The Winter Carousel by David Melling.
The story is of a young boy and his grandfather and their discovery of a magical carousel in Central park.
It has also been the inspiration for this years Tiffany's windows, a variation is seen in all their stores but I am loving the 5th avenue windows the most!...

 would love to see them for real but can't have a Christmas in New York 2 years running!... will settle for the Bond street sights and Tiffany's skating rink at somerset house (story is being read at the Skating rink on selected days) Tiffany haven't released this book to buy, its only available by web. (think they have missed an opportunity of creating a beautiful legacy to hand down over generations.. ) it is beautiful and available here to read and listen to.
Today would have been my Gramps's birthday and this story tugged my heartstrings on the mutual love, between the little boy & his grandfather and I could imagine sharing this story with my Gramps, because Central park really is the most magical place to be in the snow....

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Buble & Ballet...

at Brown Thomas....
Part of my working week is spent with the Brown Thomas team, quite often a day trip to Dublin.. as you can imagine their is some friendly rivalry between the big yellow store and the brown store across the Irish sea!... this Christmas the yellow store has gone white with their winter wonderland and the brown store has been to the ballet.... the windows are beautiful, oozing glamour, and decadence...
from Sleeping Beauty...

to the dark and dramatic Swan lake

Cinderella and her ugly sisters... looking for her prince charming

to my favourite The Nutcracker.... pink, cakes & candy what more could you wish for for Christmas!..
all featured with their original designs and who better to switch on the lights from Brown Thomas but the gorgeous Michael Buble...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

chocolate martini...

was breakfast on Sunday morning!.... for my friend L's birthday in August I bought her a chocolate cocktail, whoopie & cupcake treat, it has taken us this long to co-ordinate diary's to book... so adding to my feast of a weekend I ended up in London Sunday morning mixing chocolate martinis for breakfast.

The venue is an industrial units in the heart of hatton garden but once inside is an eclectic mix of retro modern.. with lots of green & blacks chocolate...

 lots to do in the 2hrs... cocktails, whoopies (complete with chocolate marshmallow filing) and cupcakes... great mix of people on our table and we had lots of laughs, the whoopie filing was very funny along with the chocolate decoration on the martini glasses.... L won a bag of treats for her reindeer....

 a fun filled morning and great to spend some time with L. x

Saturday, 3 December 2011

christmas cupcakes with cakeboy

After a stressful morning at work, Saturday afternoon I headed over to CakeBoy in Battersea for an afternoon of Christmas cupcakes with the lovely Eric Lanlard... a treat booked months ago as a birthday gift.
I have already spent an afternoon with Eric earlier this year and loved it, and an afternoon of Christmas Cupcakes didn't disappoint.
First part of the afternoon was to make some decorations to adorn the cupcakes.... easier said than done... modelling paste, food colouring & glitter!.... very glad that we get a complimentary apron...
Eric is very patient, and exactly as you see him on the TV... what also amazes me how hands on he is, constantly clearing up behind you.... as well as interacting with his regular cafe clients... after the molding, painting & glittering, you are lulled into a false sense of security that the messy bit is over and out comes the cream cheese frosting for the 12 cupcakes. Flavours of the cupcakes are choc chip, vanilla, lemon and gingerbread.... all moist and absolutely delicious especially the cream cheese frosting... with demonstrations complete, I was then let loose with a piping bag to ice mine... opting for the vanilla & chocolate frosting.. mmmm
With the hard work over, a quick clear down is put into action before you are treated to an Afternoon Tea Cake boy style complete with Eric as Champagne boy!... absolutely delicious, the marshmallow coconut, with green tea cone & raspberry filling were luscious, as were the mince pies & macarons
everything was a feast on the senses and we were all like children in a sweet shop, unsure of what to try next, but wanting to eat it all!...
A great afternoon, thanks to Eric & team for a fabulous festive treat.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Taste of Christmas...Mmmm

Today dawned bright & crisp... it's finally beginning to feel Christmassy... a couple of friends and I were headed to the Excel centre in East London for "ATaste of Christmas".... this is beginning to be a bit of a tradition of ours and kick starts the build-up to Christmas. With a feast of exhibits offering samples and tastings it really is a taste of christmas along with some fabulous demonstrations from the cream of the chef world its is a real treat of day.
Getting there early we managed to see Jamie & Hugh open the proceedings and talk about what their Christmas plans are... looking forward to both their Christmas shows. Jamies Christmas with Bells on airs on December 14th C4, recipes can be found here and Hughs River Cottage Christmas airs on December 12th more details here

With the show open we browsed the stalls, tasting and sampling lots!... favourites of the day goodie bag from Jamies magazine, with Christmas essentials; Jamies Christmas pudding, duck fat for roasties, mulled wine syrup, magazine & big gold chocolate coin!.. yum yum... the Chocolate wine from the Chocolate Shop  wine company was also a big hit.... my other two favourites of the day were William Curley's chocolate demonstration and the Waitrose school of magic... see blog posts below.
Lots of treats purchased for Christmas and Florences boot was full on the way home!... looking forward to next year already...

Cookery school of magic...

Taste of Christmas would not be complete without Waitrose and this year they did not disappoint, the advert is already one of my favourites this year and this years theme at Taste was The Waitrose Cookery school of magic, showcasing Delia and Hestons style...

 along with some beautiful styling and a tempting array of waitrose christmas treats, you could also marzipan and ice a mini delia cake. there was magic and games galore... the fireplace skittles were a big hit with my friend winning a great present from under the waitrose tree. Hestons lab was today's version of Willie Wonka.. the curry popcorn was cool and his mince pies are utterly delicious.. and yes they do smell of christmas trees!
Delias kitchen was delightful, I wanted to take it all home;
along with the book stairs and the ribbon cabinet.... loved it all.... maybe waitrose could do a range of Delia furniture?...
loved it all... now compiling Christmas food treat list from Waitrose....

A Taste of Chocolate....

one of the challenges at Taste of Christmas is which chef to watch and demonstration to see... William Curley was my pick of the day!... well it was chocolate how could I miss that?..
William is the king in the chocolate world and has an amazing biog that most of us would salivate over, both his chocolate boutiques are a little slice of heaven...

Sourcing only the best ingredients in the world, his chocolate is devine... so I waited with much anticipation to see what he would make in the half hour slot... I wasn't disappointed, his twist on two childhood favourites, jaffa cakes and millionaires shortbread... both of the  recipes can be found in his book.
It was a treat to watch and listen and I learnt loads...he made it look so easy,  his book is on my wish list for Christmas .. mmm yum the jaffa cakes with orange chocolate ganache were delicious.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

On the first day of Christmas...

Starbucks gave to me, a free mince pie with an Egg Nog Latte..... so the holiday season is upon us and its beginning to feel a little like Christmas.
The 1st of December also means the start of Journal Your Christmas ( hosted by the very talented Shimelle)... last years was my first JYC to coincide with my Christmas in NYC!... but I loved it so much I've started another for this year. Here's last years...
Day1 is always an introduction & manifesto...

I am not going to get stressed about completing the album this side of Christmas... I'm going to blog & journal my days and then pull together everything with a deadline by the end of January. This is what I did last year and it worked for me, along with alieving the stress of a horrendous work schedule.....loving my Christmas planner tea-towel.....