Fall in Love with Fall ♥

Did I mention that Fall is my favourite season? Yesterday was the first official day of autumn so it seems like a good time to celebrate some of the reasons why I love this time of year.

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{Never mind Sonia Rykiel, I am the Queen of Knitwear and I can’t wait to dig out those sweaters (old and new) hiding in the wardrobe and team them with my jeans, ankle boots and a long cosy scarf. Comfort dressing at its best!}

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{I’m also looking forward to going for long walks, marveling at nature’s shifting colours and breathing in the crisp autumn air.}

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{Autumn is the time to eat toffee apples, apple pie, apple crumble – in fact, pretty much apple anything.}

Hot chocolate

{Ideally with a cup of steaming hot chocolate with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top…}

Mulled Wine

{…Or a warming glass of mulled wine…}

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{…In front of a roaring log fire…}

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{…Wearing a pair of cosy sheepskin slippers}

Pumpkin

{Let’s not forget Halloween..}

Fireworks

{…and, of course, Bonfire Night and amazing fireworks displays.}

And then, when autumn and all of its wonders start to draw to a close, the countdown to Christmas begins in earnest.

Happy Autumn to you all ♥

 

 

Recipe: White chocolate & lemon cake

lemon & white chocolate cake

One of the things I love about living in a country with distinct seasons is how the food that we eat changes as we move from one season to the next. In summer it’s all about fruit, salads, seafood, barbecues and chilled rose wine, preferably enjoyed al fresco with the warm sun beating down. As the weather gets colder I start to crave richer and heavier foods like casseroles, lasagne (with or without the pasta), apple pie, and look forward to sipping hot chocolate or red wine in front of an open fire.

I’m sure my waistline would benefit from living in a warmer climate but my taste buds would definitely miss the autumnal fare. I am starting to draw up a list of recipes that I want to try this season but in the meantime this lemon and white chocolate cake is perfect for the Indian summer we’re having at the moment when it’s still warm enough to enjoy a cup of coffee and slice of cake out in the garden.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g white chocolate
  • 2 egg
  • 200 ml sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 250 ml plain flour
  • Grated zest from one lemon and 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

 

  1. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy
  2. Melt the butter and stir in the chocolate. Add to the bowl
  3. Stir in the flour, lemon zest and juice
  4. Pour the batter into a greased loose base cake tin
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes in the middle of the oven at 200 degrees
  6. Sift over some icing sugar and serve with raspberries and whipped cream

Autumn Resolutions

Autumn resolutions

Summer is still lingering here in England – the weather is (mostly) T-shirt friendly and the Mr Whippy ice cream van is still parked outside the school gates every afternoon tempting us with yummy ice creams. But there are definite signs that autumn is drawing in – the mornings are much cooler, the evenings are getting darker and Halloween themed merchandise is starting to creep (yes pun intended!) onto the shop shelves.

Autumn will always represent new beginnings to me. It is my favourite season, not least because my birthday falls in it (as do my husband’s and both my sons’ so it’s a busy time of year). As a child the arrival of fall would be signalled by the start of a new academic year and all the paraphernalia that it entailed like new school shoes and new pencil case. And while I left education many years ago, I still feel that renewed sense of purpose at the end of summer. For me, autumn beats new year hands down when it comes to drawing up a list of goals and resolutions for the next 12 months.

Some of my goals from last autumn remain the same: exercise more, eat healthily, strive to live in the moment but I have also added a few more:

1. Be more selective about my spending. The 30 Day No Shopping Challenge made me think about how often I buy things (for myself or for the children) that I simply do not need. 9 times out of 10 I shop online and somehow when you ‘click to buy’ it feels less real than punching in your pin at the counter or handing over real, hard cash. I really should be focusing on clearing things out of our house rather than bringing more stuff in.

2. Stress less, or to quote that popular saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Let’s face it, I’m not a brain surgeon – if I make a mistake at work it is not going to kill anyone. Similarly, the world will not end if my son is late for tennis or my daughter forgets her schoolbag. And let’s not even get started on all the replaying in my head of conversations I’ve had and agonising over what I’ve said or not said. If something is said and done there is no point in worrying about it.

3. Use my time wisely. Now that all three of my children are at school, all of a sudden I have 30 (!) child free hours every week. Sixteen of those will be taken up by work but the rest of the time is mine. Fourteen hours sounds like a lot but I know how easy it is to fritter them away doing nothing apart from checking Facebook, Pinning pictures of my dream home or searching online for stuff I don’t even need. So if I want to be able to fit in the things I want to do like exercising, seeing friends and blogging as well as the things I need to do like the ironing, cleaning and cooking I need to plan my time better.

4. Carry on blogging, but in a realistic way. I started this blog as a creative outlet when I was in between jobs. Now that I’m working again, the blog has slipped down my list of priorities and over the summer I questioned whether it was worth carrying on with. I have decided that it is but posting every day is not an option at the moment so two or three posts a week is a more realistic goal.

5. Make a real effort to spend more one-to-one time with my children. It’s easier said than done as the weekends tend to fill up with sporting activities, birthday parties etc but having time alone with each child is so important. They’re all at different stages of their childhood with different things going through their heads and I want to give all three of them a fair share of individual attention.

6. Get more sleep!!! I’m doing better than I was but still spend much of the day yawning and wishing for bedtime. I’m prescribing myself camomile tea and no screen before bedtime.

And on that note I’m off to bed. Happy Thursday everyone! X

 

 

Five on Friday

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{The boys went back to school last Tuesday. For one year they are at the same school, before it is time for Cameron to move on to secondary school.}

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{Clemmie didn’t start school until today so she and I went to Sweden for three nights last weekend to see my sister and her kids. We had loads of time at the airport before our flight so I treated her to an Anna from Frozen doll. Traveling with just one child was so easy and we had a great time.}

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{Today was a big day for Clemmie but she loved putting on her uniform and going into school. Some of you may remember that I was less than thrilled about her starting school so young but after several chats with the headteacher I felt reassured that the focus in this first year is very much on play.}

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{Some new beauty buys: A Rodial bee venom serum that I bought on the flight back from Stockholm and I also managed to get my hands on the much-hyped Multi-colour Les Beiges by Chanel. I feel a beauty post coming up soon!}

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{I am a self-confessed knitwear fanatic and these two jumpers from H&M and Hunky Dory are new purchases for the coming season along with a pair of boots, also from H&M. I love the zip detailing on all of them.}

Now that all three children are at school, I hope to have some more time for blogging. I have so many ideas but time has been very scarce over the summer holidays. Thank you to all of you who kept reading and commenting despite the rather patchy updating.

This weekend we’re going to Bristol to visit an old friend of mine. Last time we went it took us over four hours to get there so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the traffic will be light. Hope you have a fantastic weekend whatever you’re doing. X

Interior Inspiration: Beautiful Boudoirs

We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep but lately I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of burning the candle at both ends with late nights and early mornings. It started on holiday when we would stay up late, drinking wine and enjoying the balmy weather and peaceful surroundings. Now that we’re back home I’ve ditched the wine but I’m still staying up late working, reading blogs and watching Orange is the new Black (I only started watching it a couple of weeks ago and am already on episode 9 of the second series..) With the holiday behind us, lie-ins are also a thing of the past especially as the boys start back at school tomorrow.

I know what I need to do: go to bed earlier, cut down on caffeine, avoid looking at the computer at least an hour before bedtime, have a warm bath in the evening etc. But in the meantime, just looking at these pictures of gorgeous, restful bedrooms (from my Pinterest board – where else?) is also helping me feel more relaxed. Which one is your favourite?

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{How could you fail to get a good night’s sleep in this serene bedroom?}

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{The bedspread, the bedside table, the lamps – I want it all!}

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{A bit too colourful for me but I love the picture above the bed.}

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{Now that the colder months are coming what could be more luxurious than a fireplace in your bedroom?}

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{I love the colour scheme, the touch of greenery and the balcony. Bohemian style at its best.}

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{This headboard is on my wishlist.}

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{Such a cute way of displaying your shoes.}

And on that note I’m off to bed! Early start tomorrow. Sweet dreams to you all! X

 

 

 

 

The BBC Good Food Festival

Last Saturday we went to the BBC Good Food Festival held in the picturesque grounds of the historic Hampton Court Palace. It really was a feast for all the senses: a beautiful setting, gorgeous smells and of course lots of yummy food to taste. And taste it we did, walking up and down the stalls sampling everything from cheese and chorizo to brownies, biscuits and fudge before deciding what to buy. We were lucky with the weather too, it was the last day of sunshine before the rain arrived.

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{The boys and I in front of the fudge stall that sold almost every flavour imaginable from traditional vanilla and clotted cream to Jammy Dodger, Skittles and Bailey’s fudge. Casper got a tad over excited!}

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{Cameron tasting some cheese. In the end we bought five different varieties to take home, including caramelised onion, mango and garlic cheeses.}

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{These deep fried sugary churros were delicious – even more so when dipped in the pot of melted chocolate that they were served with. I have found a recipe on Pinterest that I intend to try next time I feel in need of a calorific treat.}

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{The beautiful palace was the perfect backdrop. It’s almost impossible to get a photo of Cameron these days without him doing the ‘Victory’ sign. Must be a ten-year-old boy thing!}

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{When you got bored of eating there were lots of games to play in the gardens, including croquet, giant chess and connect four. The children challenged Daddy to the tug of war and, thanks to a superb team effort, they won!}

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{Clemmie loved the ‘princess’ stamp that the ticket lady stamped on our hands when we arrived at the food festival}

All in all, a lovely day out. This week so far has been work, work and more work. Looking forward to the weekend and my mini break next week. X

 

Linked In

Links I love

1. I’m loving this simple twist on the classic ponytail

2. 25 products under $20 that will change (or at least improve) your life

3. Great tips for organising your closet and some inspirational pictures

4. The best back-to-school backpacks

5. Missing that holiday vibe? Here are seven magical winter travel destinations

6. Find out which everyday habits will improve the quality of your sleep

Five on Friday

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{Clemmie was happy to be back home with all her toys. She and I are off to Sweden again in two weeks’ time to visit my sister and her family.}

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{I’m still on a shopping ban but the kids desperately needed some new clothes for autumn so I went slightly mad in Zara Kids this week. They really have some fabulous stuff for both boys and girls.}

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{Now that Casper is moving up to the junior school, both boys needed new backpacks and school supplies like pencil cases, pens and water bottles etc. I still LOVE shopping for back to school things just as much as I did as a child.}

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{OK. so I’m not allowed to shop but I can still look, right? The planning for my A/W wardrobe is well underway and this jumper from All Saints is top of the list along with a new pair of ankle boots and winter coat.}

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{Two weeks of pizza, ice cream, chocolate, cinnamon buns and wine (not necessarily all together) have left their all too visible marks. Time to switch up the healthy eating a gear with the help of recipes such as this delicious-looking one for salmon and chickpea salad. More food inspiration can be found on my Pinterest board.}

Hope you have a fab weekend. It’s a three-day one here in the UK and we intend to make the most of it with plans to go to a food festival and to Ikea to check out new kitchens. What are you up to? X

A Holiday to Remember

Hello again! Over two weeks since my last post – the longest gap since I started blogging – but we have just come back from our two week summer holiday in Sweden. We went to an island called Gotland, just off the east coast, where I spent pretty much every summer from the age of 0 to 12.  It was just as beautiful as I remembered and there’s something magical about seeing your kids running along the same beach and jumping in the same waves you did as a child.

Apart from allowing the children to play on the iPads during the long car journeys and a bit of Instagramming for me, we had a fairly screen free holiday. I decided not to blog while we were away, partly because of the rather patchy wi-fi and also I needed a proper break from it. Over the past couple of months my heart has not really been it, and I was debating whether or not to give the blog up. Now that we’re back I feel more motivated to carry on and I think that when school starts up again I will hopefully have a bit of time to actually write some of those posts lurking in the back of my head.

But first, here is a quick summary of our holiday:

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{On board the boat from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark. Unfortunately this is the last summer the boat is running so next year we will have to figure another way of getting to Sweden.}

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{Crossing the famous bridge from Denmark over to Sweden. Luckily there were no dead bodies and the weather was glorious.}

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{After more than 48 hours of traveling by car and (two) boats we made it onto the Swedish island of Gotland and arrived at the cabin where we were staying.}

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{Much of our time was spent on the lovely sandy beaches that stretch for miles around the island.}

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{Jumping in the waves with my boys}

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{Clemmie didn’t like going in the sea but she was very happy playing on the beach.}

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{Casper is very proud of his sandcastle.}

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{We were really lucky with the weather and it was warm enough in the evenings to go on the beach and see beautiful sunsets like this one.}

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{We played mini golf three times and each time it ended with a tantrum but the kids still claimed to love it and wanted to play more!}

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{On one of the many water slides at Gotland’s big water park}

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{The highlight of Clemmie’s holiday was getting a cuddle from her all-time heroine Pippi Longstocking. The original house seen in the Pippi films is on Gotland and is now part of a bigger amusement park with lots of rides}

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{And if that wasn’t enough, we also spent a day at Tivoli in Copenhagen on our way back to the ferry. Not quite so lucky with the weather that day but at least there were no queues!}

So that’s it, a brief synopsis and rather a lot of pictures of our holiday. Hope you are all well and enjoying the last of the summer.

‘Til the next post. X

Super Smoothies

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When life gets busy it’s easy to let healthy eating habits slip and instead reach for sugary snacks as a quick pick-me-up. Having a smoothie for breakfast helps ensure that you get at least two or three of your five a day and, if you add some superfoods, it will also keep your energy levels high, boost your immune system and stave off sugar cravings. The lovely people at Indigo Herbs sent me a big box crammed full of some of their best-selling healthy goodies such as wheatgrass, spirulina, bee pollen and Acai powder. Time to dust off the smoothie maker and get creative!

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First up was this smoothie made from mango, bananas, orange juice and a teaspoon or two of organic Acai powder, organic wheatgrass powder, organic Maca powder, and organic raw banana powder. To find out more about the health benefits of these superfoods, check out the Indigo Herbs website.

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Next, I tried a blueberry and banana smoothie with some added spirulina powder, banana powder and bee pollen granules. I was especially intrigued to try the latter as I had just read an interview with Victoria Beckham in Vogue where she was enthusing about bee pollen’s wrinkle busting properties and other health benefits. It has quite a coarse texture and I found that even after a thorough whizzing in the blender, there were quite a few large bits floating around in the smoothie. It still had a great flavour, although I preferred the first combination of ingredients.

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I also tried sprinkling some bee pollen granules on my morning muesli and that, to me, was a better way of eating it.

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A small, family run company based in Glastonbury, Indigo Herbs prides itself on only supplying the best organic, wild crafted or quality assured products available. All the powders came in generously sized packaging, so there’s plenty left for me to try more recipes. Ordering via the website couldn’t be easier and, although they will not give specific nutritional or medical advice, the knowledgeable team are happy to talk customers through the various products on offer.

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