Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eat your greens

I'm still on a green roll and although I've never really got into making my own smoothies, the January detox decreed that I at least give it a go!  I hadn't been out to shop specially for any ingredients so was limited to what was in my fridge!  Close inspection of the crisper revealed a pear, some spinach and some apple juice. So, in it all went, blended for a minute and what I was left with was reminiscent of something from a horror film; green and frothy.  Hmmmm.   Anyway, I gave it a whirl, and you know what?  It was delicious.  Yes, really.  I couldn't  taste the spinach just the sweet flavour of pear and apple.  I went around all day feeling very virtuous.  Next on the hit list is kale, and you all know how much I love that!

{green and frothy spinach smoothie}
So, here's what you need:
two handfuls of spinach, one pear, 250mls apple juice, ice.  That's it.  Blend and there'll be enough for two servings.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Making a cheeseboard

 I've always been a bit of a mouse.  I love cheese.  I mean, really, really, love cheese.  When I was little I used to get a block of cheese in my stocking at Christmas.  True.  My tastes have come a long way since that Christmas lump of cheddar and I don't think I can recall a cheese I've tried and haven't liked, although that's not to say I don't have my favourites!  I'll eat cheese with just about anything, on, in and just by itself, which is where the cheeseboard comes in.  In my opinion, you just can't go wrong with a good cheeseboard, but you do need to choose carefully.  I think it's far better to have three or four good sized cheeses than lots of different ones.  I try to choose a semi-hard cheese, a soft cheese, a blue cheese and I also like to put out some charcuterie, nuts and something sweet.

 I really love salted marcona almonds, figs, segments of tangerine would go down well too; maybe some olives, honey or jam.  Have fun playing around with your selection and then of course you have to decide, crackers or bread?
I serve my cheeses on a lovely heart-shaped slate that I bought one year on holiday.  It's great because I can chalk directly on it, letting everyone know what cheese they're eating.
But a rustic board works just as well.
Place your savoury and sweet treats on the board and serve with this fantastic sparkling apple sangria.  Remember to take your cheeses out of the fridge a good hour before you want to eat them, or their flavours will be muted.


Image sources: 1,6,7,11 here; 2-5 Jessica Lorren via here

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to make... a poeny bouquet

My love of these flowers is well documented (see this) and I think if there was ever a need for me to have a bouquet of flowers made for me I'd definitely go for a poeny bouquet.

Anyway, I recently came across this tutorial to make your own.  Makes it seem soooooo simple even I'm tempted to have a go.  Even if you're not getting married you could make this as a treat for yourself.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekend in brief

 So Friday saw London transformed under a wonderful white blanket of snow.  Schools closed early and it felt like stolen time.  Saturday saw us take a wintry walk on Wimbledon Common, followed by some birthday celebrations.  I found time to buy some winter white blooms to make up some simple arrangements and re-styled my coffee table and living room.  Simple things really, but it made me happy.  Hope your weekend was full of wonderful things too.

{wintry walk on the common)

{coffee table styling - see below)

What did you do at the weekend?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday Words - Good Grammar

True!  Bad grammar is my pet hate...apostrophes in the wrong places, was and were, homophones confused...come on peeps!  We all make mistakes sometimes, but surely there's no excuse for sloppy misuse of the English language.  If you're as geeky about this as I am then you may like to take a look at this, 20 common grammar mistakes that nearly everyone's setting my teeth on edge already!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

beauty lust-haves

At the start of a new year I'm always keen to begin new beauty regimes and try out some different products; unfortunately post-christmas penury usually puts pay to that little notion, but it doesn't stop me looking and lusting.  These are a few items currently on my 'to have' list.

I've used Laura Mercier products for a while now; mainly her tinted moisturisers which are a dream to wear and cover imperfections whilst imparting a healthy glow.  My latest obsession tho' is her bath collection in almond coconut.  For Christmas I was given the shower-gel, scrub and body souffle and it is like sinking into heaven.  The smell!  Divine.  Now I'm after the bath cream and handcream to round off my bathroom collection.

Okay.  Now I'm getting to the stage where when I pass a mirror I occasionally find myself 'practising' a face lift.  Do you ever do that?  You know, pull the skin back and see what you'd look like with a bit of work done by an extremely good surgeon!  Hmmn.  Maybe it's just me...anyway, this product has had rave reviews for delivering a younger looking skin without the surgery.  This product claims to deliver a complete skin makeover. What makes this next generation microdelivery peel so revolutionary is, that unlike peels of the past that only exfoliated, this peel delivers vitamin c into the skin as it's being rapidly exfoliated. It is resurfacing and replenishing the skin at the same time which is a new approach to skin rejuvenation. and best of all, it involves absolutely no downtime.

 I do love my Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser, but I'm nearly at the end of my tube and just fancy trying something different.  BB creams have been around a while now, but this particular one from Estee Lauder wasn't available in the UK until the end of last year. Currently only available in two shades, it delivers anti-oxidant properties with an SPF of 35, whilst also giving radiant coverage.

 this works skin deep dry leg oil. is an award winning product that deeply moisturises, transforming and rehydrating dry skin.  I need this.  Seriously, some days I wonder if actually my inner lizard is trying to escape.  There's nothing more aging than dry skin, so this is definitely on my hit list.

What products are you currently hankering after?  Any recommendations?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Greens...

I've always been drawn to the colour green; maybe it's it's supposed therapeutic qualities, or just because it draws out the colour of my eyes!!  Whatever the reason, green has been a lifetime love of mine.  I'm also fairly passionate about eating my greens;  As a child I hated them, despite the fact that all our veg was home-grown in my Dad's allotment.  Now I love the crunch of Savoy cabbage, the subtleties of spinach, and Kale is my new best friend, as you know from here.  I've recently discovered that if you massage kale, yes, you heard that right. Massage.  If you massage kale it takes away it's bitterness and you can eat it in a salad....this is one I'm definitely going to try (because I have loooads of time to be massaging veg, right..)  Recipe for kale salad with poppy seed dressing here.

Anyway, if you don't fancy that, here are some other super green recipes to help you on your way.

1. Spinach, Kiwi and Chia Seed smoothie
2. Grilled kale salad with beets, figs and ricotta
3. Spicy spinach dhal soup with yogurt
4. Chicken with braised savoy cabbage

Images: via google

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Fiction - Books by my Bedside

Although I love my kindle, and it's proved it's worth a thousand times over, I still have to have a 'real' book to read now and then.  There's something special about turning the page, smelling the paper, hearing the rustle; it's a far more sensual experience than pressing a button!  It's a bit of a tradition in our family that I receive several books on my birthday and Christmas, along with other gifts, and this year was no exception.  In the mix this year were three books that I don't think I'd have chosen for myself, but so far what I've read has been a hit.  First on the hit list were these two:

Syd Moore's Witch Hunt is a genre 'mash-up' that combines psychogeography, ghost, horror and detective fiction.  The story revolves around the main character Sadie Asquith, a journalist, and her quest to uncover the link between 21st century happenings and the Essex witch hunts during the English Civil War.  It's gripping. 'nough said!

Now, when I unwrapped The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, I wasn't immediately enamoured.  I don't like circus'.  They freak me out.  However, finding myself in a reading desert one weekend, I decided to give it a go.  How wrong can I be about a circus'!  This one anyway.  It's a magical delight, in every sense.  Try this for a flavour...

Also residing on my nightstand are these two corkers:

I've never been a Marian Keyes fan, but first impressions are favourable. I'll save a verdict for when it's finished.   Deborah Levy's Swimming Home takes two middle-class families sharing a villa, when a stranger comes into their midst. There are the usual conflicts and twists but the ending is spiky and unsettling.  Try it and see.

What are you reading?  I'm on the hunt for inspiration...

Monday, January 07, 2013

Gadgets for Girls

It's something else when your children buy you a present because they're too embarrassed to see you using something not quite up to their technological expectations.  That's exactly what happened to me this Christmas.  My present this year was a new camera.  I've been using a Coolpix point and shoot for the last six years and it's served its time I guess.  My kids, in their wisdom, decided it was time I had something a little more up to the job, and bought me a FinePix S4500.  It's not an expensive camera, as camera's go, but provides good quality pictures with a fantastic zoom that delivers.  I'm no 'techie' and worried about getting to grips with the different functions, but I needn't have worried.  A lovely walk along the Wey Navigations gave me ample opportunity to test drive the menu, from scene selection, autofocus, playing with the zoom, to using the panorama setting. As I get more confident I'll have a go with the manual settings's what I've got so far...
{using the zoom lens}

{auto-focus scene selection}

{close up underwater}
So guys, thanks for the presie ... looking forward to playing some more with my new toy!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Petersham Nurseries

Petersham Nursery is a little oasis of calm, residing just off the Thames tow-path near Richmond.  For many years it was the home of Australian chef Skye Gyngell, whose mediterranean food won the restaurant there a Michelin star in 2011.  The nursery itself is a curious mix of plant and plate, vintage furniture and quirky terracotta pots, but there is an overwhelming feeling of love about the place; the plants look happy and the tearoom is always pretty busy, although I have to say that I've never seen anyone buy any of the furniture, beautiful tho' it is; maybe that's because it's astronomically expensive! 

{happy plants}

{gorgeous old glasshouses}

{beautiful vintage furniture, crockery, pedastals}

{huge old mirrors and Venetian glass candlesticks}

{succulents - at a price!}
Despite the prices, a wander round Petersham is a restorative experience.  It's a peek into a lifestyle that I'd like to emulate; it's genteel and cultured.  Once you've pottered around the nursery, you can then take a lovely walk across Petersham Meadows, which have now been donated to the National Trust, into Richmond itself, and then loop back on yourself along the river path to Ham House.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Clean slate

Hmmmn; when I asked for my family's new year resolutions, the only thing I met with was a resolute silence.  When pressed for reasons why they were so unforthcoming, or even, dare I say it, ever so slightly defensive, I got a variety of answers that included; don't keep them so don't make them; boring; can't think of any...etc etc.  WHAT?!  I love new year resolutions...I get ridiculously excited about the whole clean slate thing; new projects; blank pages to fill in in my diary; starting again;  I'm not bothered that I might not manage a whole year of it, the important thing to me is the taking stock and changing tack if need be.  So here they are; my enthusiasm undaunted by nay-sayers...

Give my friendships more time and space to grow
Remember that I am good enough!  {See below}

I won't be afraid to stand out

or find a better balance between these two...

I will follow my creative heart

and enjoy the small moments

I will seek out places that feed my body and soul

and whatever happens, I'll remember I chose it
I'm going to develop an attitude of gratitude


and last, but not least, I'm going to remember that I have a spiritual dimension to my life too - whatever happened to my meditation practice?  the restorative silence?

what do you think of NY resolutions? 

image sources: 1.The Life Styled. 2 Pinterest

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

happy new year

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning"
And so a new year begins....
I wish you all a very
Happy New Year
May 2013 be a year of opportunity,
Peace and understanding.
A year to celebrate love,
A year to laugh and find joy in the small things.
Wishing all my readers many blessings in the months to come...