When words don’t come easy…

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Somewhere between the Christmas stress, starting a new job and a couple of exhausting nights looking after a sick toddler, I seem to have temporarily misplaced my blogging mojo. It’s not that I’m short of ideas or inspiration, I just haven’t got the energy to sit down and string the necessary words together. Tomorrow is the last day of school for the boys before Christmas and I’m sure the two week break will do us all good. At the moment, even getting out of the house on time in the mornings is a struggle, let alone keeping on top of the Christmas preparations and all the usual household tasks that mount up, regardless of whether it’s the festive season or not.

So, for tonight this is all folks. I hope to return in a few days with something more interesting to say! In the meantime, hope you all have a great weekend. X

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This Week’s Favourites

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My lovely husband offered to wash up even though he cooked dinner so I’m earlier than usual with my ‘weekly favourites’ post. It’s been a great week – busy but not stressful – and even though there are only nine (!!) days until Christmas I feel quite organised and in control (a definite first for me!). So without further ado here is the roundup I know you’ve all been waiting for!

1. I finished off the last Christmas shopping this week and of course no trip into town is complete without a Gingerbread latte at Starbucks to keep the energy levels up.

2. Cameron’s school Christmas concert was a delight: the children looked angelic and sang so beautifully it almost brought a tear to my eye!

3. Casper was not to be outdone and sparkled as Roman in his school nativity the following day.

4. As I mentioned in my last post we have put up all the Christmas decorations and I’m already dreading taking them down in the new year. January and February are my least favourite months and the house always seems so dark and dreary when the Christmas lights are packed away.

5. The little nativity set is a favourite with the children who love playing with it and moving the figures around. I don’t mind as long as it all stays on the mantlepiece!

6. The Christmas tree has a real mix of old, new and homemade decorations. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but there’s plenty of time for an immaculate tree when the children have grown up.

7. We went to a 1960s theme party last night so I wore false eyelashes for the very first time. Luckily my friend was on hand to help with hair and makeup as I think I would have struggled to glue them on by myself.

8. All ready to go in my 60s dress bought on eBay for £20! I didn’t take any pictures at the party but there were some fabulous costumes, includng Twiggy, Audrey Hepburn and the 1966 World Cup winning England football team.

9. After last night’s party a lazy Sunday was in order. I’m trying to make more of an effort to sped one-to-one time with the boys so Cameron and I went to the cinema this afternoon to see the new Disney film Frozen (and I managed to not fall asleep!).

Hope you all have a fantastic Sunday evening! X

Currently Coveting #15: The Perfect New Year’s Eve Dress

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A dense blanket of fog has covered our part of the world all day, making driving difficult and halting some flights in and out of London. It has been cold, damp, grey and miserable so I’ve cheered myself up by looking online for the perfect New Year’s Eve dress. I don’t actually know what we’re doing for New Year yet – we have been invited to a 1920s themed party, which sounds fun, but it’s grown-ups only and finding a babysitter is proving rather tricky…

Last year we had some friends and their children over for a three-course dinner and it was one of the best New Year’s Eves I’ve had for a long time (I’m almost ashamed to admit it but since having children I’ve been known to go to bed before midnight on December 31st…) But I think that even if you’re ringing in the new year in the comfort of your own home it is nice to dress up and wear something special. I would be more than happy to step into 2014 in any of these little numbers.

{All dresses from Anthropologie. Clockwise from top left: Eclat dress, £178; Honeyed Lace dress, £178; Cabled Garonne dress, £138; Orla Kiely Oasis Hearts Dress, £348; Amalie dress, £198; Glissade dress, £128}

Behind the Scenes at Liberty of London

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I finally watched the TV programme about Liberty of London last night. It aired on Monday here in the UK but these days I hardly watch any TV in ‘real time’! I found it fascinating (and moving in parts, the scenes with the 70-year-old Shukla who has worked at Liberty for 40 years almost brought a tear to my eye) especially as I interviewed the MD, Ed Burstell, last year about his vision for Liberty and the need for retail theatre on the high street.

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Liberty has always been one of my favourite London stores. Founded in 1875, the magnificent Tudor building itself is such a treat to wander around, even it there weren’t delectable products on every shelf and rail. Easier to navigate than the vast retail emporiums that are Selfridges and Harrods, it may lack the uber-cool of Harvey Nichols but the atmosphere seems somehow warmer and more inviting. Its carefully edited beauty, lingerie and footwear (the Manolo Blahnik collaboration was pure genius) departments are arguably the best you’ll find anywhere in London and I love that  Liberty has held onto its history as a leading textile design house and has not been swayed to ditch the more traditional elements of the store, such as its haberdashery department.

The highlight of the first installment of the three-part series for me was without a doubt Grayson Perry proclaiming that Liberty is the store “for people who find John Lewis too beige”.

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Wrap it up

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Scarves in all different colours and patterns are an essential part of my autumn/winter wardrobe. Not only do they keep me warm but they also instantly update my “boring” uniform of skinny jeans and baggy jumper. I already have a rather large collection of scarves tucked away in my wardrobe but on my Christmas list this year is a warm, tartan scarf to snuggle up in when the really cold weather hits (typically in January/February). A classic Burberry scarf in the softest cashmere would really hit the spot but I have a feeling that Father Christmas will be on a budget this year, so a nice one from Zara or Topshop would do just nicely.

{In the picture above, clockwise from top left, is just a small selection of my current favourites: Grey and white star scarf from Danish brand Becksondergaard; Pink with stars from another Danish label Kudibal; Black & white leopard print from Swedish brand Ester Elenora; Flowery tube scarf from H&M; Another favourite from Ester Elenora; My favourite winter wrap-around in grey and white, also by Ester Elenora; Classic Alexander McQueen skull scarf; The perfect summer scarf in the softest pink with tiny white hearts from Becksondergaard.}

Currently Coveting #14: Vivienne Westwood x The Cambridge Satchel Company

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I’ve been looking for a bag that is both practical and stylish – and, most importantl, not black – for quite a while now. A couple of days ago I stumbled across this beautiful satchel by The Cambridge Satchel Company and I think the search is officially over. To celebrate its fifth birthday, the brand has collaborated with iconic British designer Vivienne Westwood to produce a limited edition range that combines the classic satchel with the queen of punk’s infamous squiggle print. The design also incorporates the pale tan straps and buckles which first featured in Westwood’s Pirate collection from 1981.

The bags, which come in two sizes and three colourways: yellow and black, white and red, and brown and black, retail at £195 for the 14″ size and £165 for the 11″ version. They are sold exclusively at Vivienne Westwood standalone boutiques and The Cambridge Satchel Company stores in central London, so I think a trip up to town is on the cards for me if I want to get my hands on one before they sell out.

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Embrace the Chaos

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{My Crazy Gang: They don’t half drive me mad sometimes but I love them to the moon and back}

This has been one of those weeks when we’ve been rushing around, late for everything, with tempers fraying left, right and centre. I love my three children more than anything in the world but sometimes the mixture of toddler tantrums, pre-teen hormones, sibling fighting and refusal to listen can drive me up the wall (especially when they’re all going on at the same time!)  Both boys left their scooters behind at school on the same day this week (I don’t know how they managed that – obviously forgetfulness runs in the family!) which meant that trying to get out of the house on Wednesday morning was even more fraught than usual. I had to take deep breaths and count to ten many a time this week, but I’m sure that one day when they’re all grown up I will look back and miss all the noise and mess!

But for now I’m just enjoying the peace and quiet that has descended over the house this evening as we all relax after our busy week. My father-in-law and his wife are visiting us from France this weekend so I’m going to dim the lights to hide all the dust, light some candles and put a bottle of bubbly in the fridge.

Happy Friday to you all! X

Recipe: Saffron and White Chocolate Cake

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Christmas for me is all about traditions – carrying on old ones from my childhood as well as creating new ones just for our family. Despite having lived in the UK since the age of ten, when I was growing up we always celebrated a traditional Swedish Christmas (with a few English twists). Much of the festive season revolves around food and in Sweden saffron is synonymous with Christmas. For St Lucia Day (read more about it here), which falls on December 13, it is customary to serve bright yellow saffron buns studded with raisins. While the buns are rather time consuming to make as the dough needs to rise (but they are oh, so worth it, I will share the recipe when I do make them), this cake takes hardly any time at all. My eldest son has inherited my love for saffron so I made it for his birthday earlier this month and I’ll make another one for the first of advent to serve along with Glögg (similar to mulled wine) and gingerbread biscuits.

Ingredients:

100g unsalted butter
100g white chocolate
0.5g saffron (if you’re near a Scandinavian food store you can usually buy the saffron powder in tiny (but expensive) bags)
2 eggs
160g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
130g plain flour

Preparation Method:

Melt the butter together with the white chocolate in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the saffron and put to one side.Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence until white and fluffy. Add the chocolate and butter mixture and stir until combined. Sift in the flour and carefully fold it in. Pour the butter into a prepared spring form cake tin. Bake in an oven preheated to 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes depending on the desire texture (I like the cake to be slightly gooey in the middle). Allow it to cool before serving.

Listen up People – It’s Friday!!

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{I love being a mum but sometimes we all deserve a bit of time off}

We have had a lovely afternoon with my sister and her kids who are visiting from Sweden. When the boys came home from school it turned into a bit of a mad house with five children aged from 2 to 10 running around, but it was great for all the cousins to get together as they hadn’t seen each other since August.

Now it’s winding down time, the children have just got out of the bath and are deciding which movie to watch for their Friday night treat. The rain is pouring down outside but it’s lovely and cosy inside. I’m going to light some candles, have a glass of wine and enjoy the peace and quiet before I cook dinner.

A great weekend (I hope!) lies ahead:  tomorrow night I am going out for dinner with my sister – a rare occurrence as we live in different countries. Then on Sunday I am going an even rarer trip to a spa with a friend. We are only going for one night but we have lots of nice treatments booked and I hope it will be a chance to recharge the batteries before the run-up to Christmas.

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! X

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Currently Coveting #11: French Chic

From Catherine Deneuve and Emmanuelle Beart to Josephine de la Baume and Lou Doillon, French women have captivated the fashion world for decades with their unending chic and seemingly effortless style.

A new book out this month entitled ‘Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance’ promises to reveal how our Gallic counterparts acquire (and maintain) that certain je ne sais quoi that doesn’t seem to diminish with age. Fashion journalist Tish Jett who also writes the blog A Femme d’Un Certain Age has lived among the French for years and studied them to learn the secrets behind their wardrobe, beauty, diet, and hair rituals.

While I’m mulling over whether or not to buy the book, I’m happy to get my French style kicks from the new A/W 13 collection by Comptoir des Cotonniers. Under new creative director Amelie Gillier, the label has been given a more modern feel, whilst still retaining an urban twist and feminine edge. The result is a contemporary rock ‘n’ roll inspired collection that bears more than a passing resemblance to Zadig & Voltaire, the cult fashion label that Gillier co-founded when she was just 21.

Here are some of my favourite looks:

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