Easter Treats

As I’ve been working more than usual over the school holidays I haven’t had much time for baking, so it’s likely that my lot will have to make do with shop bought treats over the Easter weekend. But if you have the time, here are some of the most tasty (and pretty) looking recipes that I have found on Pinterest.

Easter Treats

1. Down the Rabbit Hole Cake Push Pops

2. Oreo Cookie Chick Easter Treats

3. Springtime Birds Nests

4. Easter Egg Fudge

5. Mini Easter Egg Cake

6. Healthy Easter Treats

For more Easter recipes and ideas see my Easter Inspiration board on Pinterest.

Interior Inspiration: A Place for Everything…

…and everything in its place. Oh, how I wish that could be my motto! I really hate spending any more time than necessary searching for things, whether they are vitally important, like passports and tax returns, or more trivial, such as a favourite lipstick or scarf. With five family members and too little storage space, I sometimes feel that I am fighting a constant battle against STUFF. However much I try to clear out and give to charity shops, sell on eBay or just shove into the loft, there just doesn’t seem to be any respite.

The main problem areas are the kids’ rooms and playroom as well as our bedroom, which also serves as my office. I get sent a lot of press releases and look books which I print out (not the most Eco friendly way of working I know, but I like to be able to underline key passages and make notes in the margins) so at the end of the day my desk is often a sea of papers.

And as anyone with kids knows, however much you encourage them to tidy their room before bedtime by the next morning it inevitably looks like a bombsite again. After we spent hours sorting all his Lego into different boxes by colour, Cameron’s room is not too bad but both Casper and Clemmie still have a tendency to empty out every single toy on the floor when they’re playing.

Kids Room Storage

The answer, for me at least, is lots of spacious storage boxes that you can quickly scoop all the toys into. Zara Home has some of the best kids’ storage solutions on the high street, like these boxes on castors. The boys have one each in white and I’m tempted to get this girly one for Clemmie’s dolls and soft toys. The little suitcases are also from Zara Home and are perfect for smaller bits and pieces, like toy cars or dolls’ accessories. Danish House Doctor is one of my favourite brands for homeware and this striped basket to hang on the door handle is really cute. I think one of these on each of their bedroom doors would be great for dumping toys and other paraphernalia in after doing the ‘downstairs sweep’ while they’re all in bed, ready for them to put away the following morning. I also like these storage baskets in the bottom row of the picture (l-r) from Ferm Living (another Danish brand, what is it about the Danes and interior design?), The White Company and H&M (which also has a great range of affordable storage solutions).

Storage solutions

For the home office, House Doctor again has some of the best and most stylish accessories, like these Creative Play storage boxes (bottom row, middle picture) which I ordered today from Design Vintage to store all my work papers in. The nifty wall storage unit is also by House Doctor, as is the rustic wire letter tray (in the bottom left picture) and the magazine files (top right). The white lacquer trays (from The White Company) are perfect on a dressing table or on top of a chest of drawers to hold jewellery, candles or makeup. And one can never have too many baskets – I use them to store everything from shoes, hats, scarves and gloves to all the chargers and headphones for phones/computers/iPads as well as the kids’ paints and craft materials. I usually buy mine from Ikea but this one from The White Company has a lovely washed grey finish.

 

Currently Coveting #22: The Perfect Spring Dress

My wardrobe is full of floaty summer dresses for balmy, sunny days and long-sleeved thicker dresses to wear with tights in the winter. What it is lacking, though, are those in-between dresses that are suitable for the lovely spring weather we’re having at the moment. I’m thinking of dresses that you can wear with bare legs on warmer days but which also look good if you add a denim jacket or cardigan and a pair of leggings when the temperature drops.

Here are some of the best I’ve found so far:

Madewell dresses

My favourites are these dresses from Madewell, which sadly doesn’t ship to the UK.

Anthropologie dresses

Anthropologie always has a good selection of dresses and it didn’t disappoint this time either. My favourite is probably the patterned tunic as I have a penchant for comfortable dresses that can be teamed with black leggings.

Topshop dresses

Topshop is another go-to store for me when it comes to everyday dresses. I especially like the sweatshirt dress as it is both sporty and feminine. I wear a lot of grey and white already but the slash of deep pink adds a bit of interest.

Which one is your favourite?

Five on Friday

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{I went for a morning run with my boys on Tuesday. Two laps around the block followed by some lunges, situps and press-ups. Not enough to burn off all the chocolate I’ve been eating but it’s a start…}

Clemmie playground

{By mid-week Clemmie had recovered from the flu and was ready for a short outing to the playground}

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{I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at the cinema with a friend.  If you haven’t seen it, I would really recommend it: a really cute, quirky film with a stellar cast, funny but with a tinge of sadness.}

Fruit salad

{At his request, Cameron and I made fruit salad, with a mix of apples, grapes, bananas, clementines, strawberries, melon and kiwis. I had it for breakfast the following day with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, a squeeze of honey and a generous sprinkling of my homemade muesli. Yummy!}

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{I popped into Waitrose to get some milk this morning and they had some great bundle deals on magazines. I got five for only £10, a pretty good deal considering that they normally cost around £4 each! That’s my reading material sorted for this month}

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! X

Enjoy the Little Things

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They say that the secret to lasting happiness is finding joy in the little things and counting your blessings every day. So here is my list of the things that are making me happy right now:

* My sister is visiting from Sweden with her children at the moment. As I’ve been working lots this week I haven’t seen much of them yet but Clemmie has spent three days at my parents’ house and has been so happy playing with her cousins. And we have a big family lunch planned for tomorrow.

* I don’t mind the extra work as I’ve been really lucky to land a job which I love (at a time when I wasn’t even looking for work!) and can do from home.

* Today is Friday, my favourite day of the week, and after collecting the boys from tennis camp it is the official start of the weekend!

* The laundry basket is almost empty which means I can forget about the washing for the whole weekend.

* The sun is shining and will hopefully carry on doing so for the next few days.

* I have a butternut squash roasting in the oven at the moment and am planning to make this dish for supper tonight.

* One of my friends is popping over during my lunch break and I’m looking forward to a cup of coffee and nice chat.

* I got an email from Space NK offering me £10 off just as my concealer and foundation have both run out.

I wish you all a Happy Friday! X

Linked In

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1. This Asparagus with Egg and Parmesan recipe is the perfect dish for spring

2. Thinking ahead to festival season and wondering what to wear? Actress AnnaSophia Robb (of The Carrie Diaries) gives the lowdown on her favourite festival looks

3.  17 Spring Projects for a Happier Kitchen, including making your own Grenadine Syrup

4. Calling all selfie aficionados and budding photographers: Find out how to look amazing in photos

5. Easter is fast approaching and as usual Pinterest is the best source of inspiration for yummy treats to make, including these cheesecake filled chocolate Easter egg

6. Or go along to Harrods and gawp at what must surely be the most luxurious chocolate egg ever, priced at an eye-watering £28,000. Made of chocolate and decorated with gold dust, inside the egg is a diamond pendant necklace by Swiss jeweller Shawish.

7. If you’re in London, don’t forget to also drop in to the Fashion Rules exhibition at Kensington Palace, showcasing dresses worn by HM Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Diana Princess of Wales

8. Ever dreamed of writing your own book? Here are some tips on how to write and pitch a book proposal

HM Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales – See more at: http://www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace/WhatsOn/FashionRules?gclid=CPCexq7I1r0CFWoCwwodpFgAdQ#sthash.BuobJSFF.dpuf
Featuring rare and exquisite dresses from HM Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales – See more at: http://www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace/WhatsOn/FashionRules?gclid=CPCexq7I1r0CFWoCwwodpFgAdQ#sthash.BuobJSFF.dpuf

The Beauty Edit: Sleeping Beauty

A Good Night’s Sleep – four little words that are the holy grail for most parents with small children. Personally, I can count on one hand the number of uninterrupted nights’ sleep I have had in the last decade. It is one of the greatest fallacies of parenthood that once your babies sleep through the night, they will carry on doing so until they grow up and leave home. Or at least that hasn’t been my experience. My eldest son finally started sleeping through most nights when he was six, at which point I decided it would be a really good idea to have another baby!

I’m lucky in that, as long as I go to bed before midnight and don’t drink more than two glasses of wine, a lack of shut eye doesn’t bother me too much (unlike my husband who is not, shall we say, at his most sparkling first thing in the morning). The effects the lack of sleep has on my skin is another matter though and I’m constantly on the look out for new products to boost my arsenal against the sleep thieves (a.k.a my children).

And it seems I’m not the only one who is searching for eight hours sleep in a bottle or a  jar. The beauty shelves are bursting with products which promise to help you get to sleep, pamper your skin or even your hair while you sleep and cover the damage caused by sleepless nights. Here are a few that I would like to try:

Sleep Collage

1. A relaxing soak in the bath is a nice way to unwind before bedtime. This indulgent Drift Away Milk Soak by Space NK contains ingredients which have a calming effect on busy minds.

2. The Deep Sleep Heavenly Candle by This Works has notes of Lavender and Camomile to soothe your senses.

3. Promising to ensure “a blissful night of slumber” this Deep Relax Balm by Aromatherapy Associates is the most luxurious sleeping pill I’ve ever seen.

4. Squirt This Work’s Deep Sleep Pillow Spray on your pillow and let its soothing scent of Lavender, Vetivert and Wild Camomile send you off to the land of nod.

5. You can actually improve your hair while you sleep with the Thickening Serum from Bumble & Bumble that works overnight to give you thicker, fuller hair.

6.The name alone was enough to draw me in: Dragon’s Blood Night Cream by Rodial promises a smoother, brighter, more even complexion by the time dawn breaks.

7. The Overnight Body Treatment by Sarah Chapman is packed with potent anti-ageing ingredients and relaxing essential oils.

8. If all else fails, hide the dark circles with Laura Mercier’s Secret Concealer and take comfort in the knowledge that at least you look well-rested.

9. Or plump for By Terry’s Hyaluronic Eye Primer which promises to erase sleepless nights by reducing puffiness and lifting fine lines.

All products available at Space NK

 

 

 

Recipe: Blondies with Brown Sugar Frosting

Blondies

I’m not a big fan of chocolate cake so it will come as no surprise to hear that brownies don’t feature high on my list of favourite things to bake. Recently though, I’ve come across several recipes for blondies – basically brownies without the chocolate – which I had earmarked to try on a rainy day. Well, yesterday that rainy day finally materialised. It was the first day of the Easter holidays and with Clemmie still recovering from flu and the aforementioned rain pouring down outside, it was the ideal time for all of us to get stuck into some baking. With icing sugar covering every surface of the kitchen like fairy dust, we measured, poured and stirred in relative harmony.

And the end result? Well, the kids loved the frosted blondies but they were a little bit too sweet for my liking. I think next time I will omit the frosting and use the chocolate chips specified in the original recipe (we were out of chocolate chips so I used some mini fudge pieces I found in the cupboard instead). It is a great basic recipe, however, and I look forward to experimenting with new flavours. I have seen recipes for banana blondies and peanut butter or salted caramel blondies, all of which sound yummy.

I used a mix of two recipes: one for basic blondies (any recipe that has ‘no fail’ in the title gets my vote!) and another one for the brown sugar frosting. I prefer to follow Swedish or American recipes as they tend to use cup or deciliter  measurements for the dry ingredients which I find easier than weighing everything. Usually when I’m making something that I plan to post in the blog, I measure the ingredients anyway but with three kids clamouring for the same wooden spoon I just didn’t have time. The first recipe includes the weight in grams but the frosting recipe only has cups measurements I’m afraid.

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Basic Blondies:

(Makes 16 bars)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Butter or line an 8-inch by 8-inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (230 g) lightly packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar which seemed to work fine)
  • 1 large egg
  • 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (140 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
Optional Extras (Add one or a combination to customize)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips (white, milk, semi-sweet, dark, etc.)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped and toasted nuts
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped dried fruit or shredded/flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup liquor (bourbon, whisky, rum, etc.) Note: Increase flour by 1 tablespoon to accommodate
  • 1/2 teaspoon flavourings or extracts (coconut, mint, rum, raspberry, etc.)

In a medium sized bowl, stir the melted butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg, vanilla, almond extract (optional) and the salt. Add flour and stir until incorporated then mix in any extras such as chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit. Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for around 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean. Cool, then cut into 16 squares as they are or after adding the frosting.

Brown sugar frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir until the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the powdered sugar with a whisk. Spread the frosting on top of the blondies and allow to set before cutting into squares.

Currently Coveting #22: Nike x Liberty

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Time to hold my hands up and take back everything I said about not being a trainer kind of girl – these babies are just too cute to pass up!

For Spring/Summer 2014, Nike and Liberty London have once again collaborated to create an on-trend collection that combines the sports giant’s classic footwear with floral prints from Liberty’s extensive print archive. In pretty shades of blue, with laces and trimmings in beige, the collection manages to combine sporty and delicate with stunning results.

Anoosha, a 1930’s print featuring blossom and bell flowers; Lora a print based on a 1970s version of William Morris’ ‘Willow’ pattern; and Crown, a design based on various paisley block prints, adorn the Air Max 1, Air Max 90, Roshe Run. For the first time, vintage running favourite the Internationalist also receives a Liberty makeover as do basketball classics, the Blazer and the Dunk Sky Hi.

Launching today, the full collection, which also includes running shorts, a windbreaker, and a vest is available in-store and online but it’s selling fast so hurry, hurry!

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Which is your favourite? I like the Internationalist (bottom left in the picture above) and the Blazer hi-tops (below) the most as they have thinner soles than the other styles.

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Five on (ehrm..) Sunday

I’m a couple of days late with my Five on Friday post. It is all very well having a posting schedule to follow but sometimes life just gets in the way (as it should, I’m sure you would agree). The best laid plans as they say…

We’ve had a busy weekend, celebrating my mum’s birthday and also finally starting in earnest on the spring cleaning projects I’ve been planning for weeks. It is a mammoth task so we still have plenty to do but at least I’ve bagged up lots of old clothes, toys and crockery, ready to go to the charity shop. Some of the nicer bits that I cleared out from my wardrobe were dropped off at a ‘Labels for Less’ dress shop yesterday so hopefully I will make a little bit of money out of my old purchases. We will be tackling the loft and the garage over the next few weeks…

Last night my husband and I were supposed to go out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The babysitter had been booked, the present bought and outfits (mine anyway!) decided upon, but again things did not  turn out quite as planned. Just after we had finished eating the birthday cake at my parents’ house yesterday Clemmie suddenly came down with a temperature of 40 degrees and started complaining of a sore throat. She has had several bouts of tonsillitis in the past (a couple of times she has even ended up in hospital – once her tonsils got so big and inflamed that she struggled to breathe and turned blue, and another time her temperature soared to over 42 degrees) so I wasn’t prepared to leave anything to chance. The babysitter was cancelled and we made an appointment to see the out-of-hours GP at the local hospital. Luckily it turned out to be a virus and after some Calpol and a lot of sleep, her fever was almost gone this morning. My husband went to the party on his own for a couple of hours while I put the kids to bed, had a glass of wine in front of Revenge and then went to bed myself. Such a shame, but the main thing is that Clemmie is OK and rather than dwelling on the missed party, here are some good things from the past week:

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{The walk home from preschool takes twice as long now that there are flowers to pick!}

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{It’s rainy today but we had some lovely sunny days last week so I grabbed a moment to sit outside with my coffee and magazine}

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{I’m enjoying having a new bottle of my favourite perfume. The kids were very generous and bought me the large size of Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb for Mother’s Day. After years of switching between different perfumes I think I’ve finally found my signature scent.}

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{School’s out for Easter! Cameron’s school celebrated by holding their annual Eggstravaganza – a chocolate fueled frenzy of raffles, tombolas and fun games.}

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{Clemmie and I in matching stripes on Friday. I love this jumper from H&M, it was only £7.99 so I have just ordered it in a couple of other colours.}

Hope you’ve had a great weekend! X