Monday, 31 March 2014

Cats & Cake!

In the last month a fab little cafe has opened in East London and last week I got to spend a couple of hours there with two of my favourite things; Cats & Cake!  Lady Dinahs Cat Emporium is located a stones throw from Brick Lane on the Bethnal Green Road. It is a 2 story cafe, which is a huge cat toy, all spaces have been created with the welfare of the cats in mind. It houses 11 rescue cats, details of all can be found here which are adorable, who spend the day playing in a huge cat house.
Such has been the enthusiasm for this emporium that all slots are fully booked until July.
It's very well organised, with 2 hour slots available for creams teas, savouries and cake. Access to the parlour is through a secure room where the 'kitty' rules are briefed along with hand washing and sanitisation. Food is prepared in a separate area, which ensures that both the welfare of the customers and the cats are met.
My cream tea was lovely, plenty of jam & cream and a tea pot big enough for 2 good cups of tea, great value and lots of fun with the cats.  The cats have lounge posts in the window, where they bask in the sunshine and draw lots of crowds from passers by. its a fun place which looks like its going to be a huge success.
The team are both helpful and knowledgable of both the menu and the cats. It's a fun place which looks like its going to be a huge success.

Fatal Attraction

It may be over a quarter of a decade since Fatal Attraction hit the movie theatres, but in today's society we are still living with the fallout of that film. It created the terminolgy "bunny boiler" which is now a recognised noun in the Oxford Dictionary;
NOUN
• informal
A woman who acts vengefully after having been spurned by her lover
It is one of the most memorable films from the 80's and for a short time put the fear of god into any adulterating male!... Last Friday a theatre audience and myself watched this film bought to life on stage and I'm sure there were many men thinking hard on their travel home!.
I am learning that what most critics don't warm to I actually enjoy. I go to the theatre to be entertained  and this stellar cast certainly do this.
Dan Gallagher is played by Mark Bazeley an established British actor with many film & Tv credits, Dan's wife Beth is played by Sex & the City's own Charlotte - Kristin Davis and Bunny Boiler Alex is played by Natascha McElhone , David Duchovney long suffering ex wife in Californication with direction by Trevor Nunn.
The play mixes an 80's vibe into today's staging, with clever slick scene changes you move between Bar, apartments, NY office and country pile smoothly accompanied by electric blue lighting.  For those not familiar with the movie plot:- "The famous story of obsession and revenge explores how a chance meeting in a bar and a casual encounter quickly becomes a living nightmare for Dan Gallagher, a successful New York lawyer, and his young family. After spending one weekend with the gorgeous Alex Forrest, he assumes he can just walk away, but Alex is a woman who refuses to be ignored. She pursues Dan and his family with terrifying consequences."
Mark & Kristin are both very good, strains of 'Charlotte' coming through in Kristins role of Beth, and Natasha McElhone is outstanding as Alex and takes bunny boiler to another level. The play sticks firmly to the original film (the original ending was changed from feedback from pre-screenings of the movie) including the fated Bunny scene (2 white bunnies are on the cast list for nightly scene steeling scenes!) and a much more subdued ending. This play is thrilling, incredibly well acted, does it measure up to the original film... no, but I don't think anything can match the first view  of that movie, as the element of surprise was heart stopping. This play starts slow, but builds to its climatic conclusion with thrills and gasps...  exactly as the movie did 27 years ago... grab a ticket, its worth it for the trip down memory lane, or to remind your man just what lengths some women will go to if crossed!....
Here is the original film ending ..... 
hell hath no fury like a women scorned!...


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Life's stories...

I am a firm believer in Fate and sometime it works with us and sometimes against us and it seems this weekend Fate tested my emotions. This weekend I saw the date of the loss of my beloved Gramps's fall adjacent to Mother's Day, a day equally emotional. I grew up with my grandparents and their loss although not so 'gut-wrenching' is still felt every day.
Last week I hooked up with my friend Ali for drinks and a burger as she was in London for the RNA book awards ( Ali is the author Ali Mcnamara) Ali has just started writing her 6th book and as always we end up talking plot lines and stuff.... this lead to me talking about dealing with loss. It's 5 years this weekend since Gramps passed and later this year it will be 10 years since Nan passed. Growing up with both as an instrumental part of my life their loss was hard to deal with, it took me down some very dark paths but also opened up a whole new world to me which probably wouldn't have happened.  My blog evolved from a scrapbooking online forum that I joined shortly after loosing Nan, this became a saviour and my blog became an outlet for life when the outside world was a little hard to deal with. From this I have made and met some fab online friends. One of which is Ali. It also led to me working for the Big Yellow Store on Oxford Street, I took some time out about a year after Nan died to spend more time with Gramps and get my head sorted, Mr Selfridge came knocking just at a time when I need to de-hermitise myself.  So even though this weekend has been emotional, it has also been filled some happy memories, some of which we shared  in a trip to the cemetery with my mum. I will never have the daughter/mother relationship with my mum that others, but we are finding some middle ground and if that's sitting on a bench under a blossom tree at a cemetery sharing a coffee and reminiscing then that's fine by me.
This year I received my first Mother's Day card!.... yes I got one from the Kits!.... bringing a much needed smile to my face this morning...
My Nan always said that your life is like a book, some people are in it for the whole story, some just for a paragraph and others for a chapter, however long they share your life story, be blessed. So thankyou all for sharing this book so far....


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Sweet treats & bakes

Since cupcakes became the phenomenon across London streets and markets a few years ago, every season just like fashion another sweet treat becomes on 'trend', dosunts, cronuts, meringues and macarons have become fashionable of late.
This week I've been lucky to sample a few that have been hitting the headlines.
Peggy Porschen - is undoubtedly the queen of the cupcake world. I have several times visited the Parlour in Belgravia and been lucky enough to ice cookies with the cupcake queen herself. Last week Peggy launched a sweet treat range at Selfridges foodhall, and this week launches a collection of stunning cakes for Mothers Day. The meringue & chocolate kisses look perfect for spring, along with the cute iced cookies. The honeycomb is amazing, perfect melt in the mouth moments. As you can see it looks gorgeous and worth a trip to the big yellow stores foodhall or online.
Cocomaya - usually famed for its chocolate has recently launched the CocoDough into its bakery range. The Cocodough is a hybrid pastry, a cross between a doughnut and a croissant. Its a croissant pastry filled with creme anglais, deep fried like a doughnut and then dipped in sugar.
The salted caramel is amazing.... even Nigella tweeted hour fab her's was last week. The CocoDough is available from the Selfridges Foodhall in the bakery.... in mini & man size!
Sticking with the Donut theme on Saturday whilst out and about in London I picked up a donut from St John's bakery.... aside from their amazing bread St John's is famous for its donuts, from custard, chocolate or jam filled they are decadent, delicious and very naughty!. I picked up a rhubarb jam filled one which was moist, and so light it really did melt in the mouth, perfect for an afternoon treat with a cup of monmouth coffee. I also picked up a slab of bread pudding, this is my absolute favourite baked treat, my nan made the best bread pudding, however St John's comes a very close second, delicious.

Monday, 24 March 2014

5 New York loves - Books

This weeks "New York Loves" post features another of my favourites... Books! from literary places, bars and reads.... grab a coffee and sit down and enjoy my literary musts from New York City.
My 5 Literary musts!
New York Library  opened in 1911 this beautiful building is guided by Fortitude & Patience the Lions which flank the stairs leading into the Library. This is one of my favourite buildings in New York, whether studying, reading for pleasure, admiring the architecture or living your 'sex & the city' moment by fleeing down the majestic stairwells, its a must for any book lover.(situated on 5th avenue & 42nd street)
Bonnie Slotnick - Books for Cooks this little book store sits in the side streets of Greenwich Village and is a haven for bakers & cooks, utterly delightful. The epitome of a childhood sweet shop for cooks. (more details here)
Central Park Literary Walk - the avenue which stretches through Central Park is not only flanked by some of the oldest and majestic trees in the city, but is also littered with homages to some literary greats including Robert Burns and the great bard William Shakespeare. Splintering off this is Kids Corner which has 2 of the most delightful statues in the park Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson.
The Strand bookstore - 18 miles of books, new and used all under one roof. In 1927, Ben Bass opened Strand Book Store on Fourth Avenue, home of New York’s legendary Book Row. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row, which started in the 1890’s and ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor, the perfect venue to while away a couple of hours in the city that doesn't sleep.

The Flatiron building opened in 1902 and is now the home of Macmillan Books ... featuring a cute little cafe in the lobby and a cool bar just around the corner. The Flatiron along with being one of the most iconic buildings in New York its also the place to author spot!.

The Library Hotel.... the perfect place to stay for any book lover. I have had drinks here, maybe one day I will get to stay!.Guest rooms contain unique collections of books & art, with 6,000 books in the reading room. With a rooftop writers den, poetry garden and a Bookmark lounger serving literary themed drinks it really is a book lovers dream stay.

My 5 Literary bars!
Hudson Bar & Books.. there are a couple of these across NY, but the one on Hudson in the West Village is my favourite. They are old skool cigar & whiskey joints, beautifully decorated with old books. 
Minetta Tavern - opened in Greenwich Village in 1937, favourited by Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald and Dylan Thomas it still has its old style New York charm. Owned by Keith McNally  (Balthazar & Pastis also part of his portfolio) is a perfect spot to view the life in the village and read a book.
Champagne Bar at the Plaza - The Plaza needs no introduction in the literary world and this bar was made famous in The Great Gatsby, when Tom confronts Gatsby over Daisy. This is the height of luxury and perfect for a magical special occasion.
The Round Table  at the Algonquin Hotel features a round table famous from the literati of the 20's & 30's and the birthplace of The New Yorker., steeped in history its the perfect place for a cocktail or two!
Old Town Bar  situated in the Flatiron district and a short walk from The Strand bookstore. This bar is a favourite of Frank McCourt and Nick Hornby. As well as being funky, it also features some original features from its 1892 opening... perfect venue for a beer & burger.
My 5 NY reads....
Over the years I have read many books featuring New York... here are 5 that I have loved over the years for many reasons.
I heart New York - Lindsey Kelk -  fleeing a cheating boyfriend, wearing no more than a bridesmaid dress, and  Louboutins , Angela Clark jumps on a plane to NY to begin a whole new life. The story epitomises the essence of NY and the city where dreams are made.... a fun read, perfect pre-read for a NY trip.
Something Borrowed - Emily Giffin - I read this book many years ago, long before the movie and I fell in love with the NY that Emily describes, it sums up the summer in the city, when the jinty heads out to the hamptons each weekend. It is a perfect book of friendship, & love with NY as its backdrop. Rachel has been Dex's best friend since college and in love with him since then, until she introduces him to her best friend Darcy....
Lucia Lucia - Adriana Trigiani - this features the story of Lucia a 25 year old daughter of an Italian immigrant family in the 1950's of Greenwich Village New York. Bucking the trend Lucia secures a job as an apprentice in a ready-to-wear department of a chic New York department store. Lucia Lucia is the story of a girl who risks everything for the belief that a woman could - and should - be able to have it all. Before Mad Men made strong women a feature of the 50's, Adriana Trigianai was championing them first... from the back streets of the village to the luxury of Madison Avenue I completely fell in love with this NY.
Christmas at Tiffany's  Karen Swann -Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland with her heart broken to stay with each of her best friends in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris and London. At each location she receives a list of things to do, taking her out of her comfort zone and creating a new life at each location... There was so much of this book I loved.. here's a previous post.
From Nottinghill to New York with Love Actually - Ali Mcnamara  - I loved this book, it sums up so much of the best of NY, it captures its essence, vibrancy, fun and the feeling that anything can happen where ever you are in the city... with some fab hint's & tips in the book, Scarlett style its a blast from start to finish. 
I hope that you have enjoyed by 2nd post in my New York loves series..... here's my first, featuring cupcakes!...many of you have asked for a London equivalent ... watch this space as a similar post will be coming soon. ... what's your London / New York loves?

Sunday, 23 March 2014

London Heights .... The Shard

Part 2 of my morning heights adventure in London was south of the river  at the top of Europe's tallest building The Shard. I had booked a "photography" morning, a special slot being trialled at the Shard. The early morning slot enabled professional & amateur photographers to access the viewing platforms with tripod & photography equipment usually not allowed in normal viewing times.
New to the photography scene I am a very naive amateur and welcomed the hints & tips that were given from photographers around me.
This was my first visit to the Shard and would completely liken it to the "Top of the Rock" experience in New York. Viewing platforms are sited 800ft above the streets of London with 360' views across the city and beyond. The platforms are accessed via 2 super sonic high speed kaleidoscope lifts. Lift 1 takes you from pavement to level 33 in 25 seconds, Lift 2 to floor 68 in similar speeds!....
Floor 72 is accessed via stairs, and are worth the climb, the views are spectacular. I was so lucky with the weather as it had rained hard during the night but Saturday dawned bright and clear.  I was nervous of whether an attack of vertigo would kick in with the floor to ceiling glass, however the structure and space lend itself to a real feeling of security.
Watching the Thames snake its way through London, was like the imagery from a popular east London soap, with Canary Wharf in the hazy distance, along with the Thames Barrier behind and in the far distance I could just make out the QE2 bridge between Essex & Kent.
 Looking down onto the streets below was like a virtual model village, with trains running along a childhood track, complete with remote control boats along the river.
Across the river North of London, you could make the arch of Wembley stadium, BT tower, Monument and nestling amongst the skysrapers of London the Tower of London.
I had a fab time spending saturday morning above the streets of London, it allowed me to play with my camera, get loads of hints and tips and enjoy and explore this amazing new landmark without the crowds of normal sessions. Will definitely be visiting again and exploring more of what The Shard offers. Afternoon Tea and a stay at the new hotel are on my wish list!.

London heights .... Duck & Waffle

This Saturday saw me jumping onto a 6am train and heading into London for some early morning breakfast. My chosen venue for such a early morning outing was Duck & Waffle, 40 story's above the city of London at the top of Heron Tower.
Booking a 6.30am breakfast slot on a Saturday morning, I expected to be dining alone, I was so wrong.... D&W is open 24hours, and a venue of choice for clubbers and early risers!. I had heard mixed reviews of Duck & Waffle, but decided to make my own opinions. The venue is 40 story's above London in the Bishopsgate area of the city, a stones throw from Liverpool Street station. The venue is a mix of urban warehouse, street & glamour, with grafitti'd walls, and chandeliers all complemented by amazing views. Accessed by a glass elevator with ascends London in less than a minute, its not for the faint hearted!
Seated in a corner overlooking East London, I watched the sun rise over the East, clearing the haze in the distant. The team were very polite, helpful and made you feel very comfortable. I opted for the full english, with coffee & grapefruit juice. A number of people around had the signature duck & waffle, .. maybe next time I will try.
A sign of a good breakfast for me is perfect eggs... having chosen poached this would be the test!... I had nothing to worry about, they were delicious, poached perfectly with golden runny yolks... delicious. 
With only a handful of tables covered, I was allowed to roam and take photographs from several views which just enhanced the experience. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my early morning breakfast at Duck & Waffle and have added it to my restaurants to return to list....  service, food and views were amazing for a Saturday morning.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Friday 5... march treats

It's Friday, a week before payday so a little pick-up is needed. I've decided to use this Friday of the of the month to share my 5 treats from this month.
1. Asda Heart crumpets - at christmastime Asda's sellout success were their christmas tree shaped crumpets. For Valentines / Mother's Day they have packaged heart shaped crumpets for the occasion. Yes I know its an advertises dream, but this simple little treat put a smile on my face over breakfast this month, perfect for breakfast in the garden.
2. Spring flowers - I love spring flowers and this month daffodils and tulips have fallen in my basket frequently, an inexpensive way to brighten up the day and know that light mornings, blue skies and sunshine are around the corner.
3. Food magazines - its been ages since I have had time to sit and enjoy the simplicity of sitting and reading a magazine. This month I managed to grab an hour in the sunshine reading this months magazines, bookmarking some recipes that I want to try this spring.
4. DVF pouches - this year see's Diane Von Furstenberg celebrate 40 years in fashion. As one of my favourite fashion icons and 50% discount I picked this little pouch set up from work. The colour mix fits with lots in my wardrobe and as a huge tote fan I use pouches lots to hold different things in my large handbags!
5. George Michael Symphonica - I downloaded this album and purchased the CD. This is a beautiful album, featuring much from the set lists of George's symphonica tour accompanied by a full orchestra. Its the perfect backdrop whilst preparing dinner, background music and unwinding on the tube on the commute home. I was lucky to see George on this toute twice, the first in Verona and the second at the Royal Albert Hall. There are re-workings of some of George's songs and some beautiful covers all stunningly arranged ... this will be huge and a much deserved hit for George.
what treats have found there way into your shopping basket this month?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Totes Amaze Tuesday

Its that time of the month where I share what handbag has been my arm candy for the month. I swap my bags around lots... but this one has been a favourite for a long time and it got dusted off  to compliment my new patent shoes.  I am referring to my Kate Spade patent Melinda. I love this bag, this style has been a favourite of mine since my school days and I get lots of people ask where I got it when travelling on the tube.
Kate Spade has always been a favourite destination of mine when travelling to New York, especially their little store in Soho. A couple of years ago they opened stores in London and an outlet at Bicester Village, however as gorgeous as they are, its not the same as NY!. Last year Selfridges launched a pop-up KS for the holiday season which was very dangerous for a lady with a discount card!.... hence the addition of my fabulous KS New York phone case and Manhatten map scarf (can be utilised to keep me warm, and not to get lost!!!! - justification for spending!)
Alas the Melinda is no longer available in this colourway, but the bowling bag is a staple style for KS so if passing Covent Garden, Sloane Square or Bicester village check them out... the stores are a feast on the senses, a cacophony of colour, the grown -up girls candy store!
This month I have been styling my bag with wide leg black trousers, and a black cashmere jumper, suitably accessorised with my yellow, white & black NY scarf, and my gorgeous black patent loafers
... I am so happy that flat patent loafers are making a comeback to the catwalk .. these are perfect & comfy from Clarks!.... This month I have taken my inspiration from the lovely daffodils that have been sprouting and swaying in the breeze across parks & gardens... love daffodils, so simple but brighten the dullest of days.
What bag has been making your month, and how have you been styling it?
Here's a recap of my previous months Totes Amaze Tuesdays!



Friday, 14 March 2014

Wednesday words - my March reads

Welcome to this months Wednesday words... a little late posting but better late than never! I've read 5 books so far this month and here are my favs so far.  These have entertained me both on my commute and some down time on my sofa.
If you're not the One - Jemma Forte ... This book centres around Jennifer Wright, who after a huge row with her husband finds herself running out of the house into the path of an oncoming car. - Whilst laying in a coma Jennifers brain opens up 3 time tunnels. Each tunnel takes her back to a significant other before her husband, and how her life might have been. This book once I had got used to the format of time jumps was a thought provoking read. For women approaching a time of "what ifs" it takes Jennifer back on journeys of her 1st love, the very clever university guy, the bad boy who never met the parents approval and the guy who was just too nice..... I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it took me down many a memory lane tunnel of my own and is an easy, entertaining read, especially for those that have at any point of their life thought .... Is this the one? ..
Prada & Prejudice - Katie Oliver .... I'm a sucker for any P&P themed/ influenced book and this didn't fail to hit the Austen in me!... Natalie Dashwood is heiress to a established department store with very little regard for much other than shopping , socialising & the odd scandal. Her grandfather owner of Dashwood & James brings in a hot shot consultant Rhys Gordon to sort out the failing business. Prejudices and a lot of pride are encompassed as Natalie is put to work for a living working alongside Rhys to turn the company around.  Throw in a rockstar ex, a spending ban & a daily battle with Rhys, Natalie's life is turned on its head, with several other characters weaving in & out of the story, this is a great first book in a series of "Austen" inspired novels. Rhys Gordon makes a fabulous Mr Darcy-esque character...
United States of Love - Sue Fortin ... Anna Barnes is a single mum to 16 year old Luke, living in the picturesque town of Arundel on West Sussex.  Soon she finds herself working for the gorgeous American chef Tex Garcia who moves to Arundel to open a restaurant. Life for Anna is looking good, until her Ex Mark appears back from a year long stay in America and decides to move back into the family home to get to know his son better. Things aren't as simple as they seem, as Mark is an ex-footballer and after a serious car accident he left Anna & Luke to move to America for his career and isn't being as honest with Anna as he should. With some great side stories this is a great read and perfect for an afternoon curled up under a tree or on the sofa!... Tex is a perfect leading man!
Love & Liability - Katie Oliver ....Following on from Katies first novel this tells the story of Holly James, daughter of Alistair James, partner in Dashwood & James department store. Evolving from a privileged upbringing Holly goes it alone in London to carve a career as a journalist for 'Briteen' magazine. Stitched up by her editor and sent to interview barrister 'Henry Barrington" she expects to meet an old stuffed shirt, instead she meets a young hot financial legal exec, who soon becomes more than just an interviewee. On her journey Holly meets Zoe a homeless teen runaway, and soon she is pitching a serious magazine feature. Throw in a back stabbing flat mate, a fiercely jealous editor, a hot headed chef lots of mis-communication Holly soon finds her life unravelling. I loved this book and is a great 2nd novel... easily read as a stand alone as well as in a series, tackling some serious issues it also ticks all the best bits of a great 'chick-lt' novel.
Made in Nashville - Mandy Baggot ... this book fell into my kindle basket purely because of the title, due to my fixation with Nashville TV series.  This book centres round Honor Blackwood. Hannah, 10 years previously was country's brightest star, this was until she was subjected to a savage knife attack from a stalker whilst performing on stage. Hannah hasn't performed since and suffers from many issues, nowadays she she spends her time finding solace in the local Target and in her best friends guitar shop. It is here that she first meet current bad boy & country rebel Jared 'Jed" Marshall. With pressure from her record company, and manager to return to performing, Honor is faced with some decisions. Helped by Jared ( who has some secrets of his own) this is Honours journey back to the life that she once loved. I really enjoyed this book, it was light but the characters had depth. Fans of Nashville this is a must.
5 fun reads for the start of Spring....... thanks Ladies for keeping me entertained this month....
What's been in your reading pile this month?

Monday, 10 March 2014

5 New York loves - cupcakes

New York is the home of the cupcake, its the city most associated with the sweet confection and has over the last decade seen a real Cupcake war emerge. There now boasts over 100 cupcakearies across the city all professing to be the best.
My top 5 across the city are devised for a number of reasons, some because you just have to visit because its an integral part of New York, others because they are just delightful. So in no particular order:-
Magnolia - The original cupcake bakery of New York. The first site located in Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village is the most visited in the city, with Red Velvet being there best seller. Sex & the City catapulted this little bakery to stardom, with queues around the block at the height of its success. It oozes 50's vintage retro and offers you a slice of a decade gone by. Originally famed for their 'swirled' icing, something many people had not seen until Magnolia iced their first tray of cupcakes.
Here is a post from a previous visit, when their banana custard was sampled !... oh my!. With franchises now in Bloomingdales, Rockefeller centre, Upper west side you don't have to schlep across the city now just to sample one of their delights.... although if you want to live a magic Carrie moment then I suggest you should.. ( just around the corner in Perry Street is the brownstone house that was Carries apartment in the series)
Sprinkles - Originally from the west coast of California in LA.Sprinkles have slowly expanded over the USA in recent years. Last year they introduced the first cupcake ATM outside their original store in LA.They opened in NY about 3 years ago now and are sited just opposite Bloomingdales on Lexington Avenue.  I've visited twice now and have enjoyed my experience both times. Sprinkles is bright, colourful complementing their signature look of a sprinkle circle on each cupcake depicting its flavour. I have sampled both the salted caramel and the eggnog and both were delicious, frosting not too sweet, cake moist and flavoursome. With an accompanying doggie cupcake bar, its the perfect sweet treat for adults & pups!
Billy's Bakery - is a neighbour hood bakery originally sited in Chelsea on 9th avenue, now with sites in Tribeca and The Plaza foodhall. Billy's is a charming 50's style cupcakery with its signature yellow & pale green. When i visited Billy's it was a beautiful warm spring afternoon, perfect for sitting on their bench outside sipping iced coffee and eating a  gorgeous moist carrot cake. I really liked this bakery, its a much welcome detour if you are on route to the Highline and Meatpacking district. It also gives you a glimpse of NY living away from the tourist areas.
Sweet Revenge - is a fabulous little bar/eatery which does 2 fabulous things Cupcakes & Wine/Beer and matches the best flavours to each other. From breakfast to brunch, lunch to dinner it is a taste for the senses. Over the years I have sampled Eggnog on a cold winters day, to Red Velvet breakfast waffles and one of the best Red Velvet cupcakes I have tasted.The space may be small but the place is so cool you don't mind nearly sitting on the next tables lap!... This a little way of the beaten track on Carmine Street and nearest subway is Houston... definitely worth a visit.
Georgetown Cupcakes - originally from Washington DC and famed for its DC cupcakes programme. This cupcake parlour opened in SOHO about 18 months ago. I visited shortly after opening and loved it... I think the pink blinged kitchen aid as the cherry on the top for me!. The parlour is very pink & black. It had one of best Christmas flavours when I visited and as I was catching up with friends I bought a selection... all full of flavour, frosting not too sweet and delicious.The Candy cane and the Eggnog were my most favourite for the holiday season.
I hope that you have enjoyed my 5 fav cupcake treats in New York ..... please share yours, I look forward to reading all about them.... pop back in a fortnight for more NY loves.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

5 New York loves

Welcome to a new post about one of my loves New York!.... I have over the past few weeks been asked to write hints & tips for friends & friends of friends travelling to New York. This has been asked many times over the last couple of years and every time I pull stuff together it gets bigger and bigger!.....
I don't in anyway profess to be an expert but hope that I help someones future visit. Looking back I have over 90 New York related posts on my blog and want to share them in themes. Every fortnight I am going to share my 5 loves from New York.
 I would welcome any comments and love to hear from you as I am always looking for new places to visit and recommendations, especially as I am now collecting ideas for my visit later this year.
This week's theme will be cupcakes!....

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thursday TV Treats

It seems that February and the beginning of March has been busier at work for me than January... so very little time for TV watching, however what time I have had I've caught up on some favourites.
This month I've caught up on Revenge and looking forward to the season finale next week. March has seen the start of a couple of programmes that have gone straight to my favourites. Silk is much welcome return with series 3. Rupert Penry Jones and Maxine Peake are fabulous in this courtroom drama, alongside a great supporting cast. Mary Berry also has a new cookery programme on BBC2, its so lovely to see this grand dame of the kitchen back on TV in a series of her own. she is the epitome of every ones granny in the kitchen... here lemon drizzle cake in episode 1 just looked delicious.
 The rest of my viewing has been taken up with Nashville and White Collar.... completely in love with the Rayner & Deacon story line.... and White Collar is just cool, New York mixed with old school rat pack glamour... perfect.
I have 3 box sets that are languishing in my To View pile, which I am hoping to watch soon.
1. Breaking Bad - I have tried twice with this and I'm struggling with getting past the 1st episode. Everyone keeps telling me to hang with it as its one of the most talked about TV show in recent years... and I will love it... maybe I need to watch when I'm a little more relaxed and can concentrate!
2. Suits - dipped in and out of this when I've caught it on TV so picked up the box set for £4 and hope to watch from the beginning.
3. The Arrow - this is eye-candy heaven for me and looking forward to watching this as its pure escapism.
would love to hear what's been on your watch list of late... and should I persevere with Breaking Bad?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Menu Monday

Last month I was determined to get more organised with menu's as I had been surviving on ready meals, toast & cornflakes!... So I dusted off the slow cooker & pan and planned some menu's that I could either cook quickly or slowly!...
Two favourites which are appearing on this weeks menu are:-
  • Braised Beef & Carrots, Kale & Mash. ... this is a favourite from childhood and living with Nan & Gramps, but instead of cooking in the oven I throw everything in the slow cooker switch it on and leave it until I walk back in the door.  Basic ingredients are a a chopped onion, Stewing steak ( some recipes ask you to sweat this off before putting in the slow cooker, however that's too much faffing for me at 5.30am so I just put in the cooker) Sliced carrot either in rounds or batons, stock (I use a mixture of oxo cube & knor stock) 2 tbsp of tomato puree, pinch of paprika, salt & pepper and a good jug of water ( make sure all ingredients are covered) I then leave to cook on low all day.   Accompanied by Bartlett rooster potatoes mashed and a big bunch of Kale ( my favourite green, who would have thought it would be the "on trend" veg for 14!) perfect comfort food.  As you can see from the pictures it was a big hit with Fitz... dinner was hastily rescued from a curious kittie.. and nearly as good as my Nans. 
  • Spanish Chorizo Pasta ... this is a new recipe that evolved from a conversation at work last week and so quick when getting home late from work. Basic ingredients are: Chorizo, Sweet pepper ( i used an orange pepper) Chestnut mushrooms, Cherry tomatoes, half a red onion. All should be chopped into similar size chunks. Sweat these off in a pan, starting with chorizo and onion first, they should provide enough oil for the pepper, tomatoes & mushrooms to cook and soften. Throw a Lloyd Grossman sauce (on offer for £1 currently in sainsbury's) over the chorizo & veg, ( I used the sweet pepper sauce.) Served with Wholemeal pasta and a sprinkling of Parmesan this is delicious.
    This weeks menu will also involve Pancakes, Cod and a cacophony of Thai treats for a friends birthday at the end of the week.
    What's on your menu planning this week?
    (please note that all brand recommendations are my own and I have not received any samples or free product for this post)

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Social Media Sunday - February

Following on from January's Social Media Sunday, here is what has been keeping me entertained on my ipad & iphone this month.
Blogworld
Bright Bazaar - New York Cheesecake - found this blog, searching for a a cheesecake recipe and fell in love with it straight away. The photographs and styling are just gorgeous.  Have yet to make my cheesecake, but its filed for a free day!
Heart Handmade - Valentines baking & photography. HH has made my blog post favs for the 2nd month. The look and feel of this blog is just yummy. Nearly every post I like on bloglovin, full of lots of lifestyle and food posts.
Vivianna Does Makeup - 5 fav eats in London. This cool post from V of London eats is fun and informative. I have been to 2 of the 5 and the other 3 have been added to my London to do list. V has recently blogged a cool post on her recent trip to New York, which has also been added to my favourites.
Dolly Bakes - Bleeker Street - I am always on the look out for new places to visit when I go to New York. Rachel has recently been to New York and has posted some cool eateries, some I have been to but I am definitely adding the Bleeker Street Pizza place to my list for later this year... how scrumptious does that very large pizza look.
Spotted Rose - Aperture . I am slowly getting into photography and learning to do more things with my camera. I stumbled upon Spotted Roses blogpost on Aperture. What i enjoyed about this post was it explained things in easy terminology along with simple examples of things to do to improve photographic skills.
Instagram

Here are my 6 favourite pictures from February's Instagram .... the Metropolitan Police helicopter's imagery  continues to amaze me and they feature twice in this months montage. The scenic views of London from above are beautiful. This sunrise from the Shard is stunning. Mostlyyummy's photo of the first signs of spring snowdrops is delightful, the moss barked tree trunk in the background looks like velvet. Selfridges snap of a grey dank London skyline from the Tate gallery was taken during London fashion week  and reminded me of the start of one of the Harry Potter films... very cool.
Mrs M's fun photo of her kittie Reg is just fab... he is a bit of a character and this picture of him wrapped up in a furry throw is just perfect. DanTvusa is another firm favourite in the photo world, currently working and living in New York his photo's daily are fabulous. he has recently started to sell these. I would love to buy one, however there are so many great snaps its too hard to choose!.... Finally the MP in the sky team tweeted this image on the night of the tube strike of a gridlocked Trafalgar Square... as I was stuck in this for 65 minutes it a great reminder of a stressful commute home.
These have been my main social media mediums this month.... what have you been liking?, following? tweeting.....


Saturday, 1 March 2014

#Project Life ~ February 2014

Wow where did February go?.... March has arrived with a blue sky and a glimmer of sunshine, which is a welcome relief from the deludge of water that has fallen from the sky over the past few weeks.  February for me has been a flurry of auditors, year end accounts and reviews and objective setting! In amongst that I have caught up with some of my friends, (the rest are on March's must list!)  celebrating birthdays and just having some down time together over lunch and coffee. Birthday's celebrated this month were my oldest friend K, which involved lunch in the country, my nieces which  involved a big chocolate cake and breakfast... and my friends husband who has just spent another stay in hospital, so a quiet night at home.
Early February London was awash with both rain and lots of red, Chinese New Year evolved into Valentines, so lots of places turned red and were festooned with balloons and flowers. As you can see the big yellow store became red for a couple of weeks to celebrate both occasions.
The 1st week of February saw a 3 day tube strike hit London, this caused much frustration and very long days. The fabulous picture of a gridlocked Trafalgar Square from the Police helicopter was a welcome tweet, as it took 65 minutes for me to navigate this square on the night of the strike....
Dotted between the rain deluges there were brief glimpses of blue sky which I grabbed a snap of from a window in my office! Over the past week the daffodils have begun to bloom, showing the first signs of spring.  A brief security event led to a little excitement at work along with much activity over social media. My favourite snap of the week was one I grabbed very early one morning as the sun was breaking over the park on my commute to work.
As February finishes and hopefully we have said goodbye to the very wet winter, and March shows signs of Spring... I am aiming to take some much needed days off work, catch up with friends & sleep!.... I have a couple of fun days planned, and definately some down time is on the agenda for March. Here is what is planned for the blog.....


Monday, 31 March 2014

Cats & Cake!

In the last month a fab little cafe has opened in East London and last week I got to spend a couple of hours there with two of my favourite things; Cats & Cake!  Lady Dinahs Cat Emporium is located a stones throw from Brick Lane on the Bethnal Green Road. It is a 2 story cafe, which is a huge cat toy, all spaces have been created with the welfare of the cats in mind. It houses 11 rescue cats, details of all can be found here which are adorable, who spend the day playing in a huge cat house.
Such has been the enthusiasm for this emporium that all slots are fully booked until July.
It's very well organised, with 2 hour slots available for creams teas, savouries and cake. Access to the parlour is through a secure room where the 'kitty' rules are briefed along with hand washing and sanitisation. Food is prepared in a separate area, which ensures that both the welfare of the customers and the cats are met.
My cream tea was lovely, plenty of jam & cream and a tea pot big enough for 2 good cups of tea, great value and lots of fun with the cats.  The cats have lounge posts in the window, where they bask in the sunshine and draw lots of crowds from passers by. its a fun place which looks like its going to be a huge success.
The team are both helpful and knowledgable of both the menu and the cats. It's a fun place which looks like its going to be a huge success.

Fatal Attraction

It may be over a quarter of a decade since Fatal Attraction hit the movie theatres, but in today's society we are still living with the fallout of that film. It created the terminolgy "bunny boiler" which is now a recognised noun in the Oxford Dictionary;
NOUN
• informal
A woman who acts vengefully after having been spurned by her lover
It is one of the most memorable films from the 80's and for a short time put the fear of god into any adulterating male!... Last Friday a theatre audience and myself watched this film bought to life on stage and I'm sure there were many men thinking hard on their travel home!.
I am learning that what most critics don't warm to I actually enjoy. I go to the theatre to be entertained  and this stellar cast certainly do this.
Dan Gallagher is played by Mark Bazeley an established British actor with many film & Tv credits, Dan's wife Beth is played by Sex & the City's own Charlotte - Kristin Davis and Bunny Boiler Alex is played by Natascha McElhone , David Duchovney long suffering ex wife in Californication with direction by Trevor Nunn.
The play mixes an 80's vibe into today's staging, with clever slick scene changes you move between Bar, apartments, NY office and country pile smoothly accompanied by electric blue lighting.  For those not familiar with the movie plot:- "The famous story of obsession and revenge explores how a chance meeting in a bar and a casual encounter quickly becomes a living nightmare for Dan Gallagher, a successful New York lawyer, and his young family. After spending one weekend with the gorgeous Alex Forrest, he assumes he can just walk away, but Alex is a woman who refuses to be ignored. She pursues Dan and his family with terrifying consequences."
Mark & Kristin are both very good, strains of 'Charlotte' coming through in Kristins role of Beth, and Natasha McElhone is outstanding as Alex and takes bunny boiler to another level. The play sticks firmly to the original film (the original ending was changed from feedback from pre-screenings of the movie) including the fated Bunny scene (2 white bunnies are on the cast list for nightly scene steeling scenes!) and a much more subdued ending. This play is thrilling, incredibly well acted, does it measure up to the original film... no, but I don't think anything can match the first view  of that movie, as the element of surprise was heart stopping. This play starts slow, but builds to its climatic conclusion with thrills and gasps...  exactly as the movie did 27 years ago... grab a ticket, its worth it for the trip down memory lane, or to remind your man just what lengths some women will go to if crossed!....
Here is the original film ending ..... 
hell hath no fury like a women scorned!...


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Life's stories...

I am a firm believer in Fate and sometime it works with us and sometimes against us and it seems this weekend Fate tested my emotions. This weekend I saw the date of the loss of my beloved Gramps's fall adjacent to Mother's Day, a day equally emotional. I grew up with my grandparents and their loss although not so 'gut-wrenching' is still felt every day.
Last week I hooked up with my friend Ali for drinks and a burger as she was in London for the RNA book awards ( Ali is the author Ali Mcnamara) Ali has just started writing her 6th book and as always we end up talking plot lines and stuff.... this lead to me talking about dealing with loss. It's 5 years this weekend since Gramps passed and later this year it will be 10 years since Nan passed. Growing up with both as an instrumental part of my life their loss was hard to deal with, it took me down some very dark paths but also opened up a whole new world to me which probably wouldn't have happened.  My blog evolved from a scrapbooking online forum that I joined shortly after loosing Nan, this became a saviour and my blog became an outlet for life when the outside world was a little hard to deal with. From this I have made and met some fab online friends. One of which is Ali. It also led to me working for the Big Yellow Store on Oxford Street, I took some time out about a year after Nan died to spend more time with Gramps and get my head sorted, Mr Selfridge came knocking just at a time when I need to de-hermitise myself.  So even though this weekend has been emotional, it has also been filled some happy memories, some of which we shared  in a trip to the cemetery with my mum. I will never have the daughter/mother relationship with my mum that others, but we are finding some middle ground and if that's sitting on a bench under a blossom tree at a cemetery sharing a coffee and reminiscing then that's fine by me.
This year I received my first Mother's Day card!.... yes I got one from the Kits!.... bringing a much needed smile to my face this morning...
My Nan always said that your life is like a book, some people are in it for the whole story, some just for a paragraph and others for a chapter, however long they share your life story, be blessed. So thankyou all for sharing this book so far....


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Sweet treats & bakes

Since cupcakes became the phenomenon across London streets and markets a few years ago, every season just like fashion another sweet treat becomes on 'trend', dosunts, cronuts, meringues and macarons have become fashionable of late.
This week I've been lucky to sample a few that have been hitting the headlines.
Peggy Porschen - is undoubtedly the queen of the cupcake world. I have several times visited the Parlour in Belgravia and been lucky enough to ice cookies with the cupcake queen herself. Last week Peggy launched a sweet treat range at Selfridges foodhall, and this week launches a collection of stunning cakes for Mothers Day. The meringue & chocolate kisses look perfect for spring, along with the cute iced cookies. The honeycomb is amazing, perfect melt in the mouth moments. As you can see it looks gorgeous and worth a trip to the big yellow stores foodhall or online.
Cocomaya - usually famed for its chocolate has recently launched the CocoDough into its bakery range. The Cocodough is a hybrid pastry, a cross between a doughnut and a croissant. Its a croissant pastry filled with creme anglais, deep fried like a doughnut and then dipped in sugar.
The salted caramel is amazing.... even Nigella tweeted hour fab her's was last week. The CocoDough is available from the Selfridges Foodhall in the bakery.... in mini & man size!
Sticking with the Donut theme on Saturday whilst out and about in London I picked up a donut from St John's bakery.... aside from their amazing bread St John's is famous for its donuts, from custard, chocolate or jam filled they are decadent, delicious and very naughty!. I picked up a rhubarb jam filled one which was moist, and so light it really did melt in the mouth, perfect for an afternoon treat with a cup of monmouth coffee. I also picked up a slab of bread pudding, this is my absolute favourite baked treat, my nan made the best bread pudding, however St John's comes a very close second, delicious.

Monday, 24 March 2014

5 New York loves - Books

This weeks "New York Loves" post features another of my favourites... Books! from literary places, bars and reads.... grab a coffee and sit down and enjoy my literary musts from New York City.
My 5 Literary musts!
New York Library  opened in 1911 this beautiful building is guided by Fortitude & Patience the Lions which flank the stairs leading into the Library. This is one of my favourite buildings in New York, whether studying, reading for pleasure, admiring the architecture or living your 'sex & the city' moment by fleeing down the majestic stairwells, its a must for any book lover.(situated on 5th avenue & 42nd street)
Bonnie Slotnick - Books for Cooks this little book store sits in the side streets of Greenwich Village and is a haven for bakers & cooks, utterly delightful. The epitome of a childhood sweet shop for cooks. (more details here)
Central Park Literary Walk - the avenue which stretches through Central Park is not only flanked by some of the oldest and majestic trees in the city, but is also littered with homages to some literary greats including Robert Burns and the great bard William Shakespeare. Splintering off this is Kids Corner which has 2 of the most delightful statues in the park Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson.
The Strand bookstore - 18 miles of books, new and used all under one roof. In 1927, Ben Bass opened Strand Book Store on Fourth Avenue, home of New York’s legendary Book Row. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row, which started in the 1890’s and ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor, the perfect venue to while away a couple of hours in the city that doesn't sleep.

The Flatiron building opened in 1902 and is now the home of Macmillan Books ... featuring a cute little cafe in the lobby and a cool bar just around the corner. The Flatiron along with being one of the most iconic buildings in New York its also the place to author spot!.

The Library Hotel.... the perfect place to stay for any book lover. I have had drinks here, maybe one day I will get to stay!.Guest rooms contain unique collections of books & art, with 6,000 books in the reading room. With a rooftop writers den, poetry garden and a Bookmark lounger serving literary themed drinks it really is a book lovers dream stay.

My 5 Literary bars!
Hudson Bar & Books.. there are a couple of these across NY, but the one on Hudson in the West Village is my favourite. They are old skool cigar & whiskey joints, beautifully decorated with old books. 
Minetta Tavern - opened in Greenwich Village in 1937, favourited by Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald and Dylan Thomas it still has its old style New York charm. Owned by Keith McNally  (Balthazar & Pastis also part of his portfolio) is a perfect spot to view the life in the village and read a book.
Champagne Bar at the Plaza - The Plaza needs no introduction in the literary world and this bar was made famous in The Great Gatsby, when Tom confronts Gatsby over Daisy. This is the height of luxury and perfect for a magical special occasion.
The Round Table  at the Algonquin Hotel features a round table famous from the literati of the 20's & 30's and the birthplace of The New Yorker., steeped in history its the perfect place for a cocktail or two!
Old Town Bar  situated in the Flatiron district and a short walk from The Strand bookstore. This bar is a favourite of Frank McCourt and Nick Hornby. As well as being funky, it also features some original features from its 1892 opening... perfect venue for a beer & burger.
My 5 NY reads....
Over the years I have read many books featuring New York... here are 5 that I have loved over the years for many reasons.
I heart New York - Lindsey Kelk -  fleeing a cheating boyfriend, wearing no more than a bridesmaid dress, and  Louboutins , Angela Clark jumps on a plane to NY to begin a whole new life. The story epitomises the essence of NY and the city where dreams are made.... a fun read, perfect pre-read for a NY trip.
Something Borrowed - Emily Giffin - I read this book many years ago, long before the movie and I fell in love with the NY that Emily describes, it sums up the summer in the city, when the jinty heads out to the hamptons each weekend. It is a perfect book of friendship, & love with NY as its backdrop. Rachel has been Dex's best friend since college and in love with him since then, until she introduces him to her best friend Darcy....
Lucia Lucia - Adriana Trigiani - this features the story of Lucia a 25 year old daughter of an Italian immigrant family in the 1950's of Greenwich Village New York. Bucking the trend Lucia secures a job as an apprentice in a ready-to-wear department of a chic New York department store. Lucia Lucia is the story of a girl who risks everything for the belief that a woman could - and should - be able to have it all. Before Mad Men made strong women a feature of the 50's, Adriana Trigianai was championing them first... from the back streets of the village to the luxury of Madison Avenue I completely fell in love with this NY.
Christmas at Tiffany's  Karen Swann -Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland with her heart broken to stay with each of her best friends in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris and London. At each location she receives a list of things to do, taking her out of her comfort zone and creating a new life at each location... There was so much of this book I loved.. here's a previous post.
From Nottinghill to New York with Love Actually - Ali Mcnamara  - I loved this book, it sums up so much of the best of NY, it captures its essence, vibrancy, fun and the feeling that anything can happen where ever you are in the city... with some fab hint's & tips in the book, Scarlett style its a blast from start to finish. 
I hope that you have enjoyed by 2nd post in my New York loves series..... here's my first, featuring cupcakes!...many of you have asked for a London equivalent ... watch this space as a similar post will be coming soon. ... what's your London / New York loves?

Sunday, 23 March 2014

London Heights .... The Shard

Part 2 of my morning heights adventure in London was south of the river  at the top of Europe's tallest building The Shard. I had booked a "photography" morning, a special slot being trialled at the Shard. The early morning slot enabled professional & amateur photographers to access the viewing platforms with tripod & photography equipment usually not allowed in normal viewing times.
New to the photography scene I am a very naive amateur and welcomed the hints & tips that were given from photographers around me.
This was my first visit to the Shard and would completely liken it to the "Top of the Rock" experience in New York. Viewing platforms are sited 800ft above the streets of London with 360' views across the city and beyond. The platforms are accessed via 2 super sonic high speed kaleidoscope lifts. Lift 1 takes you from pavement to level 33 in 25 seconds, Lift 2 to floor 68 in similar speeds!....
Floor 72 is accessed via stairs, and are worth the climb, the views are spectacular. I was so lucky with the weather as it had rained hard during the night but Saturday dawned bright and clear.  I was nervous of whether an attack of vertigo would kick in with the floor to ceiling glass, however the structure and space lend itself to a real feeling of security.
Watching the Thames snake its way through London, was like the imagery from a popular east London soap, with Canary Wharf in the hazy distance, along with the Thames Barrier behind and in the far distance I could just make out the QE2 bridge between Essex & Kent.
 Looking down onto the streets below was like a virtual model village, with trains running along a childhood track, complete with remote control boats along the river.
Across the river North of London, you could make the arch of Wembley stadium, BT tower, Monument and nestling amongst the skysrapers of London the Tower of London.
I had a fab time spending saturday morning above the streets of London, it allowed me to play with my camera, get loads of hints and tips and enjoy and explore this amazing new landmark without the crowds of normal sessions. Will definitely be visiting again and exploring more of what The Shard offers. Afternoon Tea and a stay at the new hotel are on my wish list!.

London heights .... Duck & Waffle

This Saturday saw me jumping onto a 6am train and heading into London for some early morning breakfast. My chosen venue for such a early morning outing was Duck & Waffle, 40 story's above the city of London at the top of Heron Tower.
Booking a 6.30am breakfast slot on a Saturday morning, I expected to be dining alone, I was so wrong.... D&W is open 24hours, and a venue of choice for clubbers and early risers!. I had heard mixed reviews of Duck & Waffle, but decided to make my own opinions. The venue is 40 story's above London in the Bishopsgate area of the city, a stones throw from Liverpool Street station. The venue is a mix of urban warehouse, street & glamour, with grafitti'd walls, and chandeliers all complemented by amazing views. Accessed by a glass elevator with ascends London in less than a minute, its not for the faint hearted!
Seated in a corner overlooking East London, I watched the sun rise over the East, clearing the haze in the distant. The team were very polite, helpful and made you feel very comfortable. I opted for the full english, with coffee & grapefruit juice. A number of people around had the signature duck & waffle, .. maybe next time I will try.
A sign of a good breakfast for me is perfect eggs... having chosen poached this would be the test!... I had nothing to worry about, they were delicious, poached perfectly with golden runny yolks... delicious. 
With only a handful of tables covered, I was allowed to roam and take photographs from several views which just enhanced the experience. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my early morning breakfast at Duck & Waffle and have added it to my restaurants to return to list....  service, food and views were amazing for a Saturday morning.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Friday 5... march treats

It's Friday, a week before payday so a little pick-up is needed. I've decided to use this Friday of the of the month to share my 5 treats from this month.
1. Asda Heart crumpets - at christmastime Asda's sellout success were their christmas tree shaped crumpets. For Valentines / Mother's Day they have packaged heart shaped crumpets for the occasion. Yes I know its an advertises dream, but this simple little treat put a smile on my face over breakfast this month, perfect for breakfast in the garden.
2. Spring flowers - I love spring flowers and this month daffodils and tulips have fallen in my basket frequently, an inexpensive way to brighten up the day and know that light mornings, blue skies and sunshine are around the corner.
3. Food magazines - its been ages since I have had time to sit and enjoy the simplicity of sitting and reading a magazine. This month I managed to grab an hour in the sunshine reading this months magazines, bookmarking some recipes that I want to try this spring.
4. DVF pouches - this year see's Diane Von Furstenberg celebrate 40 years in fashion. As one of my favourite fashion icons and 50% discount I picked this little pouch set up from work. The colour mix fits with lots in my wardrobe and as a huge tote fan I use pouches lots to hold different things in my large handbags!
5. George Michael Symphonica - I downloaded this album and purchased the CD. This is a beautiful album, featuring much from the set lists of George's symphonica tour accompanied by a full orchestra. Its the perfect backdrop whilst preparing dinner, background music and unwinding on the tube on the commute home. I was lucky to see George on this toute twice, the first in Verona and the second at the Royal Albert Hall. There are re-workings of some of George's songs and some beautiful covers all stunningly arranged ... this will be huge and a much deserved hit for George.
what treats have found there way into your shopping basket this month?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Totes Amaze Tuesday

Its that time of the month where I share what handbag has been my arm candy for the month. I swap my bags around lots... but this one has been a favourite for a long time and it got dusted off  to compliment my new patent shoes.  I am referring to my Kate Spade patent Melinda. I love this bag, this style has been a favourite of mine since my school days and I get lots of people ask where I got it when travelling on the tube.
Kate Spade has always been a favourite destination of mine when travelling to New York, especially their little store in Soho. A couple of years ago they opened stores in London and an outlet at Bicester Village, however as gorgeous as they are, its not the same as NY!. Last year Selfridges launched a pop-up KS for the holiday season which was very dangerous for a lady with a discount card!.... hence the addition of my fabulous KS New York phone case and Manhatten map scarf (can be utilised to keep me warm, and not to get lost!!!! - justification for spending!)
Alas the Melinda is no longer available in this colourway, but the bowling bag is a staple style for KS so if passing Covent Garden, Sloane Square or Bicester village check them out... the stores are a feast on the senses, a cacophony of colour, the grown -up girls candy store!
This month I have been styling my bag with wide leg black trousers, and a black cashmere jumper, suitably accessorised with my yellow, white & black NY scarf, and my gorgeous black patent loafers
... I am so happy that flat patent loafers are making a comeback to the catwalk .. these are perfect & comfy from Clarks!.... This month I have taken my inspiration from the lovely daffodils that have been sprouting and swaying in the breeze across parks & gardens... love daffodils, so simple but brighten the dullest of days.
What bag has been making your month, and how have you been styling it?
Here's a recap of my previous months Totes Amaze Tuesdays!



Friday, 14 March 2014

Wednesday words - my March reads

Welcome to this months Wednesday words... a little late posting but better late than never! I've read 5 books so far this month and here are my favs so far.  These have entertained me both on my commute and some down time on my sofa.
If you're not the One - Jemma Forte ... This book centres around Jennifer Wright, who after a huge row with her husband finds herself running out of the house into the path of an oncoming car. - Whilst laying in a coma Jennifers brain opens up 3 time tunnels. Each tunnel takes her back to a significant other before her husband, and how her life might have been. This book once I had got used to the format of time jumps was a thought provoking read. For women approaching a time of "what ifs" it takes Jennifer back on journeys of her 1st love, the very clever university guy, the bad boy who never met the parents approval and the guy who was just too nice..... I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it took me down many a memory lane tunnel of my own and is an easy, entertaining read, especially for those that have at any point of their life thought .... Is this the one? ..
Prada & Prejudice - Katie Oliver .... I'm a sucker for any P&P themed/ influenced book and this didn't fail to hit the Austen in me!... Natalie Dashwood is heiress to a established department store with very little regard for much other than shopping , socialising & the odd scandal. Her grandfather owner of Dashwood & James brings in a hot shot consultant Rhys Gordon to sort out the failing business. Prejudices and a lot of pride are encompassed as Natalie is put to work for a living working alongside Rhys to turn the company around.  Throw in a rockstar ex, a spending ban & a daily battle with Rhys, Natalie's life is turned on its head, with several other characters weaving in & out of the story, this is a great first book in a series of "Austen" inspired novels. Rhys Gordon makes a fabulous Mr Darcy-esque character...
United States of Love - Sue Fortin ... Anna Barnes is a single mum to 16 year old Luke, living in the picturesque town of Arundel on West Sussex.  Soon she finds herself working for the gorgeous American chef Tex Garcia who moves to Arundel to open a restaurant. Life for Anna is looking good, until her Ex Mark appears back from a year long stay in America and decides to move back into the family home to get to know his son better. Things aren't as simple as they seem, as Mark is an ex-footballer and after a serious car accident he left Anna & Luke to move to America for his career and isn't being as honest with Anna as he should. With some great side stories this is a great read and perfect for an afternoon curled up under a tree or on the sofa!... Tex is a perfect leading man!
Love & Liability - Katie Oliver ....Following on from Katies first novel this tells the story of Holly James, daughter of Alistair James, partner in Dashwood & James department store. Evolving from a privileged upbringing Holly goes it alone in London to carve a career as a journalist for 'Briteen' magazine. Stitched up by her editor and sent to interview barrister 'Henry Barrington" she expects to meet an old stuffed shirt, instead she meets a young hot financial legal exec, who soon becomes more than just an interviewee. On her journey Holly meets Zoe a homeless teen runaway, and soon she is pitching a serious magazine feature. Throw in a back stabbing flat mate, a fiercely jealous editor, a hot headed chef lots of mis-communication Holly soon finds her life unravelling. I loved this book and is a great 2nd novel... easily read as a stand alone as well as in a series, tackling some serious issues it also ticks all the best bits of a great 'chick-lt' novel.
Made in Nashville - Mandy Baggot ... this book fell into my kindle basket purely because of the title, due to my fixation with Nashville TV series.  This book centres round Honor Blackwood. Hannah, 10 years previously was country's brightest star, this was until she was subjected to a savage knife attack from a stalker whilst performing on stage. Hannah hasn't performed since and suffers from many issues, nowadays she she spends her time finding solace in the local Target and in her best friends guitar shop. It is here that she first meet current bad boy & country rebel Jared 'Jed" Marshall. With pressure from her record company, and manager to return to performing, Honor is faced with some decisions. Helped by Jared ( who has some secrets of his own) this is Honours journey back to the life that she once loved. I really enjoyed this book, it was light but the characters had depth. Fans of Nashville this is a must.
5 fun reads for the start of Spring....... thanks Ladies for keeping me entertained this month....
What's been in your reading pile this month?

Monday, 10 March 2014

5 New York loves - cupcakes

New York is the home of the cupcake, its the city most associated with the sweet confection and has over the last decade seen a real Cupcake war emerge. There now boasts over 100 cupcakearies across the city all professing to be the best.
My top 5 across the city are devised for a number of reasons, some because you just have to visit because its an integral part of New York, others because they are just delightful. So in no particular order:-
Magnolia - The original cupcake bakery of New York. The first site located in Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village is the most visited in the city, with Red Velvet being there best seller. Sex & the City catapulted this little bakery to stardom, with queues around the block at the height of its success. It oozes 50's vintage retro and offers you a slice of a decade gone by. Originally famed for their 'swirled' icing, something many people had not seen until Magnolia iced their first tray of cupcakes.
Here is a post from a previous visit, when their banana custard was sampled !... oh my!. With franchises now in Bloomingdales, Rockefeller centre, Upper west side you don't have to schlep across the city now just to sample one of their delights.... although if you want to live a magic Carrie moment then I suggest you should.. ( just around the corner in Perry Street is the brownstone house that was Carries apartment in the series)
Sprinkles - Originally from the west coast of California in LA.Sprinkles have slowly expanded over the USA in recent years. Last year they introduced the first cupcake ATM outside their original store in LA.They opened in NY about 3 years ago now and are sited just opposite Bloomingdales on Lexington Avenue.  I've visited twice now and have enjoyed my experience both times. Sprinkles is bright, colourful complementing their signature look of a sprinkle circle on each cupcake depicting its flavour. I have sampled both the salted caramel and the eggnog and both were delicious, frosting not too sweet, cake moist and flavoursome. With an accompanying doggie cupcake bar, its the perfect sweet treat for adults & pups!
Billy's Bakery - is a neighbour hood bakery originally sited in Chelsea on 9th avenue, now with sites in Tribeca and The Plaza foodhall. Billy's is a charming 50's style cupcakery with its signature yellow & pale green. When i visited Billy's it was a beautiful warm spring afternoon, perfect for sitting on their bench outside sipping iced coffee and eating a  gorgeous moist carrot cake. I really liked this bakery, its a much welcome detour if you are on route to the Highline and Meatpacking district. It also gives you a glimpse of NY living away from the tourist areas.
Sweet Revenge - is a fabulous little bar/eatery which does 2 fabulous things Cupcakes & Wine/Beer and matches the best flavours to each other. From breakfast to brunch, lunch to dinner it is a taste for the senses. Over the years I have sampled Eggnog on a cold winters day, to Red Velvet breakfast waffles and one of the best Red Velvet cupcakes I have tasted.The space may be small but the place is so cool you don't mind nearly sitting on the next tables lap!... This a little way of the beaten track on Carmine Street and nearest subway is Houston... definitely worth a visit.
Georgetown Cupcakes - originally from Washington DC and famed for its DC cupcakes programme. This cupcake parlour opened in SOHO about 18 months ago. I visited shortly after opening and loved it... I think the pink blinged kitchen aid as the cherry on the top for me!. The parlour is very pink & black. It had one of best Christmas flavours when I visited and as I was catching up with friends I bought a selection... all full of flavour, frosting not too sweet and delicious.The Candy cane and the Eggnog were my most favourite for the holiday season.
I hope that you have enjoyed my 5 fav cupcake treats in New York ..... please share yours, I look forward to reading all about them.... pop back in a fortnight for more NY loves.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

5 New York loves

Welcome to a new post about one of my loves New York!.... I have over the past few weeks been asked to write hints & tips for friends & friends of friends travelling to New York. This has been asked many times over the last couple of years and every time I pull stuff together it gets bigger and bigger!.....
I don't in anyway profess to be an expert but hope that I help someones future visit. Looking back I have over 90 New York related posts on my blog and want to share them in themes. Every fortnight I am going to share my 5 loves from New York.
 I would welcome any comments and love to hear from you as I am always looking for new places to visit and recommendations, especially as I am now collecting ideas for my visit later this year.
This week's theme will be cupcakes!....

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thursday TV Treats

It seems that February and the beginning of March has been busier at work for me than January... so very little time for TV watching, however what time I have had I've caught up on some favourites.
This month I've caught up on Revenge and looking forward to the season finale next week. March has seen the start of a couple of programmes that have gone straight to my favourites. Silk is much welcome return with series 3. Rupert Penry Jones and Maxine Peake are fabulous in this courtroom drama, alongside a great supporting cast. Mary Berry also has a new cookery programme on BBC2, its so lovely to see this grand dame of the kitchen back on TV in a series of her own. she is the epitome of every ones granny in the kitchen... here lemon drizzle cake in episode 1 just looked delicious.
 The rest of my viewing has been taken up with Nashville and White Collar.... completely in love with the Rayner & Deacon story line.... and White Collar is just cool, New York mixed with old school rat pack glamour... perfect.
I have 3 box sets that are languishing in my To View pile, which I am hoping to watch soon.
1. Breaking Bad - I have tried twice with this and I'm struggling with getting past the 1st episode. Everyone keeps telling me to hang with it as its one of the most talked about TV show in recent years... and I will love it... maybe I need to watch when I'm a little more relaxed and can concentrate!
2. Suits - dipped in and out of this when I've caught it on TV so picked up the box set for £4 and hope to watch from the beginning.
3. The Arrow - this is eye-candy heaven for me and looking forward to watching this as its pure escapism.
would love to hear what's been on your watch list of late... and should I persevere with Breaking Bad?

Monday, 3 March 2014

Menu Monday

Last month I was determined to get more organised with menu's as I had been surviving on ready meals, toast & cornflakes!... So I dusted off the slow cooker & pan and planned some menu's that I could either cook quickly or slowly!...
Two favourites which are appearing on this weeks menu are:-
  • Braised Beef & Carrots, Kale & Mash. ... this is a favourite from childhood and living with Nan & Gramps, but instead of cooking in the oven I throw everything in the slow cooker switch it on and leave it until I walk back in the door.  Basic ingredients are a a chopped onion, Stewing steak ( some recipes ask you to sweat this off before putting in the slow cooker, however that's too much faffing for me at 5.30am so I just put in the cooker) Sliced carrot either in rounds or batons, stock (I use a mixture of oxo cube & knor stock) 2 tbsp of tomato puree, pinch of paprika, salt & pepper and a good jug of water ( make sure all ingredients are covered) I then leave to cook on low all day.   Accompanied by Bartlett rooster potatoes mashed and a big bunch of Kale ( my favourite green, who would have thought it would be the "on trend" veg for 14!) perfect comfort food.  As you can see from the pictures it was a big hit with Fitz... dinner was hastily rescued from a curious kittie.. and nearly as good as my Nans. 
  • Spanish Chorizo Pasta ... this is a new recipe that evolved from a conversation at work last week and so quick when getting home late from work. Basic ingredients are: Chorizo, Sweet pepper ( i used an orange pepper) Chestnut mushrooms, Cherry tomatoes, half a red onion. All should be chopped into similar size chunks. Sweat these off in a pan, starting with chorizo and onion first, they should provide enough oil for the pepper, tomatoes & mushrooms to cook and soften. Throw a Lloyd Grossman sauce (on offer for £1 currently in sainsbury's) over the chorizo & veg, ( I used the sweet pepper sauce.) Served with Wholemeal pasta and a sprinkling of Parmesan this is delicious.
    This weeks menu will also involve Pancakes, Cod and a cacophony of Thai treats for a friends birthday at the end of the week.
    What's on your menu planning this week?
    (please note that all brand recommendations are my own and I have not received any samples or free product for this post)

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Social Media Sunday - February

Following on from January's Social Media Sunday, here is what has been keeping me entertained on my ipad & iphone this month.
Blogworld
Bright Bazaar - New York Cheesecake - found this blog, searching for a a cheesecake recipe and fell in love with it straight away. The photographs and styling are just gorgeous.  Have yet to make my cheesecake, but its filed for a free day!
Heart Handmade - Valentines baking & photography. HH has made my blog post favs for the 2nd month. The look and feel of this blog is just yummy. Nearly every post I like on bloglovin, full of lots of lifestyle and food posts.
Vivianna Does Makeup - 5 fav eats in London. This cool post from V of London eats is fun and informative. I have been to 2 of the 5 and the other 3 have been added to my London to do list. V has recently blogged a cool post on her recent trip to New York, which has also been added to my favourites.
Dolly Bakes - Bleeker Street - I am always on the look out for new places to visit when I go to New York. Rachel has recently been to New York and has posted some cool eateries, some I have been to but I am definitely adding the Bleeker Street Pizza place to my list for later this year... how scrumptious does that very large pizza look.
Spotted Rose - Aperture . I am slowly getting into photography and learning to do more things with my camera. I stumbled upon Spotted Roses blogpost on Aperture. What i enjoyed about this post was it explained things in easy terminology along with simple examples of things to do to improve photographic skills.
Instagram

Here are my 6 favourite pictures from February's Instagram .... the Metropolitan Police helicopter's imagery  continues to amaze me and they feature twice in this months montage. The scenic views of London from above are beautiful. This sunrise from the Shard is stunning. Mostlyyummy's photo of the first signs of spring snowdrops is delightful, the moss barked tree trunk in the background looks like velvet. Selfridges snap of a grey dank London skyline from the Tate gallery was taken during London fashion week  and reminded me of the start of one of the Harry Potter films... very cool.
Mrs M's fun photo of her kittie Reg is just fab... he is a bit of a character and this picture of him wrapped up in a furry throw is just perfect. DanTvusa is another firm favourite in the photo world, currently working and living in New York his photo's daily are fabulous. he has recently started to sell these. I would love to buy one, however there are so many great snaps its too hard to choose!.... Finally the MP in the sky team tweeted this image on the night of the tube strike of a gridlocked Trafalgar Square... as I was stuck in this for 65 minutes it a great reminder of a stressful commute home.
These have been my main social media mediums this month.... what have you been liking?, following? tweeting.....


Saturday, 1 March 2014

#Project Life ~ February 2014

Wow where did February go?.... March has arrived with a blue sky and a glimmer of sunshine, which is a welcome relief from the deludge of water that has fallen from the sky over the past few weeks.  February for me has been a flurry of auditors, year end accounts and reviews and objective setting! In amongst that I have caught up with some of my friends, (the rest are on March's must list!)  celebrating birthdays and just having some down time together over lunch and coffee. Birthday's celebrated this month were my oldest friend K, which involved lunch in the country, my nieces which  involved a big chocolate cake and breakfast... and my friends husband who has just spent another stay in hospital, so a quiet night at home.
Early February London was awash with both rain and lots of red, Chinese New Year evolved into Valentines, so lots of places turned red and were festooned with balloons and flowers. As you can see the big yellow store became red for a couple of weeks to celebrate both occasions.
The 1st week of February saw a 3 day tube strike hit London, this caused much frustration and very long days. The fabulous picture of a gridlocked Trafalgar Square from the Police helicopter was a welcome tweet, as it took 65 minutes for me to navigate this square on the night of the strike....
Dotted between the rain deluges there were brief glimpses of blue sky which I grabbed a snap of from a window in my office! Over the past week the daffodils have begun to bloom, showing the first signs of spring.  A brief security event led to a little excitement at work along with much activity over social media. My favourite snap of the week was one I grabbed very early one morning as the sun was breaking over the park on my commute to work.
As February finishes and hopefully we have said goodbye to the very wet winter, and March shows signs of Spring... I am aiming to take some much needed days off work, catch up with friends & sleep!.... I have a couple of fun days planned, and definately some down time is on the agenda for March. Here is what is planned for the blog.....