Monday, April 30, 2012

In Season - Asparagus

It's that time of year when the Asparagus comes out in force.  Lovely bundles of greenery that can be found at every Farmer's Market, greengrocers and if really desperate at your local supermarket.  I have a total love-affair with Asparagus - from the sturdy type with thick stalks to the superfine spindly green fronds with delicately tinged purple tip. 
On display at Borough Market
For a good six weeks this delicate vegetable features heavily at our table, making an appearance as a leading ingredient, or supporting star, it doesn't matter.  However, my favourite way to eat Asparagus is still the most simple, lightly steamed or roasted with lemon oil, served with butter and flakes of parmesan.

I've put together some of my favourite recipes using Asparagus, give them a whirl and let me know which one is your favourite!
1. Creamy Asparagus and Goat's Cheese Risotto
2. Asparagus, Gruyere and Leek Quiche
3. Pork Stirfry with Asparagus and Sugarsnaps
4. Asparagus with bacon and a poached egg (this makes a fab breakfast)

What's your favourite Asparagus recipe?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Flower Fairies

I recently came across this book when I was tidying out some shelves, and absently opened it to browse for a few moments.  An hour later I was still there, captivated by the beautiful illustrations.  Cicely Mary Barker spent most of her childhood drawing and painting and she was greatly influenced by Kate Greenaway - another favourite illustrator of mine.  The children in her books were modelled on real children from her sister Dorothy's Kindergarten and her flowers are all anatomically correct!

Flower Fairies are tiny creatures (the biggest is only 20cm tall) that live in the bottom of gardens, the middle of grassy meadows, and on the edge of distant marshes. Wherever and whenever a seed sprouts, a Flower Fairy baby is born. Each Flower Fairy lives and sleeps in their chosen flower, plant or tree, and as this grows the fairy grows too. Each and every Flower Fairy is in charge of looking after their flower or plant; keeping it strong and healthy by making sure it has plenty of sunshine and water to drink, sweeping away dead leaves, and polishing flowers and stems.  These are some of my favourites...


Cornflower fairy

Apple Blossom fairy

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Living with Light -

Scandinavian Living

I can't get enough of bright, light interiors;  If I were to define my prefered decor style I'd say a cross between Scandinavian and French - the simple lines and light of Scandinavian design really attract me, and the shabby-chic French look just compliments it.  At the moment London is bowing under leaden skies, thunder and bouts of torrential rain and Spring and Summer seem to have retreated in despair.  When the weather is inclement I take to my books for summer inspiration and one currently on my bedside is Living with Light by Gail Abbott.  It's full of fresh inspirational shots of light-filled rooms and how to use small details to make a stylish statement in keeping with the Scandinavian look. "The colours used in many Scandinavian homes are whites, neutrals and the tones and hues of nature - the grey blues of a northern lake at dawn or the cool vanilla light of the midnight sun.

Surfaces are painted pale, or emboldened with blocks of bright white. Windows, triple glazed to keep in the heat in winter, are dressed with fine, unlined fabrics to let in the maximum amount of light, and mirrors reflect every gleam of precious daylight or candlelight into nooks and niches"

A serene light-filled room to eat in

I can see myself working in this space

and sleeping in this gorgeous space

I love the way the light is reflected through this doorknob

Small details, the napkins and plant, make the difference
How do you like to bring light into your home?

Photo sources: all Living with Light by Gail Abbott

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ballerina Chic


There is something so graceful and compelling about the look of a classic ballerina; the posture, the slim limbs, enviable figure and the hard to put to bed myth of glamour and style. We all know the reality is actually somewhere inbetween this image and the life of a ballerina as portrayed in Black Swan. As a child I really wanted to be a ballerina; I loved the book Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, fancying myself as Pauline Fossil. It wasn't to be. It turns out I had two left feet, I was too tall and too clumsy to even last a month in my class. I got over it...but I have never quite got over my fascination with the ballet world and the ballet look. I love wrap cardigans and ballet shoe flats; I can stare forever at pictures of ballerina's and a trip to the ballet is one of my rare pleasures.

Rehearsing in the studio
Graceful lines and beautiful precision of hand placement
Natural beauty
Swan Lake - a favourite

What's your favourite ballet or cultural activity?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Sorry readers...I spent a HUGE amount of time at the weekend, writing posts and scheduling them for all of this week, only to discover today that for some reason or other all the content of these posts has been deleted/gone missing!  There is obviously a rather major glitch on Blogger and I'm hoping it will be sorted out VERY quickly.  The downside to this is that there may be a lull of a few days in posts as the reason why I'd done them in advance is I'm so incredibly busy with other commitments this week and I knew I wouldn't have time to post. That'll teach me to try and be organised!!!  Back in the next couple of days and hopefully this problem is a one-off!

Monday, April 23, 2012

7 Resources for better blogging

I've been mulling over a post on writing for some time. Should it be a 'how to..' post; a finding inspiration post; others' thoughts on writing?  I've decided that I just want to write something more personal..that is why I write and where I've found inspiration, support and a critical friend when needed.
I write because I can't not.  I've written since I was a small child - some dreadful poems (which I still have), some short stories, a couple of teenage novellas, two unfinished novels and of course my blogs. Writing for most of us is part of everyday life too and I truly believe that most people can learn how to write - that is, not necessarily like the bard or other great writers, but write better and well; write content that interests and leaves the reader with something to take away.
With this in mind I've pulled together some resources that have helped me on my writerly journey in the hope that some of them might work for you too...

1.Two blogs that I go back to time and again are Write to Done and Writing Our Way Home, both of which offer timeless advice on mindful writing; guest posts by other successful writers/bloggers as well as numerous tips for improving your writing

2.  If you're new to writing a blog, or even if you just want to gain a few more skills then take a look at Blogging Your Way by Decor8 an on-line e-course on blogging that covers all the basics and more.  Also worth a look at is the A-List Blogging Bootcamp run by Mary Jaksch who writes two blogs herself about writing.

3.  If you're serious about your blogging check out ProBlogger which has lots of ideas for making your blog successful and includes articles on motivation, workflow, techniques, principles of successful content, RSS and other technical stuff.

4.  For more inspiration check out what other writers say about how they write, their inspiration and routines.  Stephen King's On Writing is both a memoir and a textbook for writers, explaining how he became a writer and what works for him.  I also got a lot from Writers on Writing edited by James Roberts; a collection of interviews with high-profile Australian writers who talk about how they structure their days, writers block and other aspects of the craft of writing.

Any thoughts? I'd love to hear where you go for help/inspiration
  • your favourite resources?
  • inspiration?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

French Pharmacy

A friend has generously just booked us a holiday to the South of France (whoop, whoop!) and one of the things I'm really looking forward to is browsing in their pharmacies.  They have the appearance of a clinical surgery with shelves piled high with products that look official.  That is, they don't have pretty pictures on them, they don't market them with visuals, instead they just name the product and the product speaks for itself.  The thing is, the products work.  Admittedly, you can now buy some of these products here now in our specialist chemists, but there's something extra special about getting the French product in France.  It almost seems as if the alchemy works better!  Here are some of my favourites:

As those who know me know...I'm addicted to lip balms and can't resist buying new ones.  This one is a German product but you can get it practically anywhere in Europe.  It's quite thick so good for the winter as it stays put!

These are beautifully packaged liquid soaps (they do handcream and household products too).  In order to be have the title 'Marseille' this soap needs to be mainly organic oils - they take their savon very seriously!  You can find these products in the UK now much more easily.

This is a great spritzer for the face - refreshing and cooling.

This is a great creamy product for taking off makeup and daily grime, leaving you with silky soft skin.

Good basic exfoliator to use after the gym/shower/bath and then slather on this...

- a gorgeous treat for your body that makes your skin feel super supple and smooth and smells totally divine due to its aromatherapy oils.  Guaranteed to soothe and relax all your muscles after a hard day.

a fabulous body oil that you can use all over, face included
Top your home facial off with a spritz of this calming toner; Caudalie also have the pretty packaging to go with the hard-working ingredients.

What's your favourite French pharmacie product?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Azure Waters

 Just because I love this image!  Don't you?  The play of light on the surface of the water; the shapes it makes; the invitation to dive into the blueness and become immersed; the questions it makes me ask..where is it?  what surrounds it? It totally transports me to somewhere else, somewhere with blue skies, laughter, and warmth..I hope on this blustery and wet day that it takes you there too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Five things...making me smile

Sunnyside up - my favourite way to start the day
 Smiling at all of these...
Cupcakes covered in sprinkles...

So cute - Sweet Paul
Gorgeous neutrals
So real I can smell it and imagine I am in a Parisian cafe watching the world go by...aaah...

Tell me, what's making you smile today?

Image 4/5 from here

Monday, April 16, 2012

Glimpses of the Weekend - briefly

It's been a chilled weekend and although it's nearly over and I'm preparing to return to work after two weeks off, I think I can safely say I feel a bit more rested than when the holiday began! Here's what I've been up to these last few days...
Vibrant tulips

and a walk, dodging the raindrops, in the grounds of Cannizaro House
Girlie early evening drinks in this pub in Wimbledon Village

Chunky chips and crispy chicken goujons (with mayo of course!!)
Catnaps on the sofa

TV dinner - Comforting Chilli
 As you can see, this weekend was mainly about eating and sleeping!  Hope you had a wonderful weekend and feel ready for the week ahead x

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Walkin' on Sunshine

Happiness... we all want it, search for it, grab it, lose it, get it back, lose it - again; I don't think there is anyone who could honestly say they don't want to be happy; but it's such a subjective thing isn't it?  I remember asking someone if they were happy; they were quiet for a moment whilst they contemplated the question and then they replied that they were content as happiness was a momentary or short-lived emotion in extreme.  At the time I thought that was a great response but now I'm not so sure!  Why shouldn't we be happy?  What's wrong with a more extreme version of content?  I for sure wouldn't turn it down.

In my own search for happiness I've read a lot about it...

 and here
 I really enjoyed Gretchen Rubin's book about her search for happiness - you can even sign up for your own happiness project here.

The reality is, that happiness means different things to us all, but the big things, health, good relationships and enough money to pay the bills probably apply to all of us. Then there are the unique things about our personalities that contribute to making us happy as individuals - for me it's time to be creative; time to sit still and be; fresh sea air and good food to share; it's music that lifts our souls and for me happiness is always encapsulated by this song, reminding me of a happy, light-filled time of my life...

What makes you happy?