Saturday, 31 March 2018

mini victoria sponge cakes

It wouldn't be Easter without a little baking, would it?! I'm not very good at large round cakes (they always seem to be very dense) but I can muster up a good fairy cake and lemon drizzle loaf. Having spent many an afternoon with mum baking fairy cakes as a child, I'd like to think I have now mastered them! This Easter I decided to make a batch of mini Victoria sponge fairy cakes. This is a simple plain sponge batter with a gooey jam centre and classic icing sugar top. 

To make 24 fairy cakes you will need:

175g soft butter or baking spread (I used spread to get a really fluffy batter)
175g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
3 eggs
1 level tsp baking powder
Splash of milk
Blob of strawberry jam per cake

Preheat the oven to 180. Mix all the ingredients -except the jam- together as per any other cake batter. Add a desert spoon of batter to each fairy cake then add a dab of jam on top. Cover the jammy top with a small amount of batter and smooth over with a knife. 

Pop the cakes into the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. They will cook quickly so keep an eye on them so they don't brown too much. 

Once cooked (they should be springy to touch), cool on a rack. Once completely cool simply shower in icing sugar from a height. Et voila! Mini Victoria sponge cakes! 

Perfect for morning coffee or afternoon tea orrrr just as a snack- they are mini, after all! 

Wishing you a very Happy Easter - let's hope the rain stops soon. 


Saturday, 17 March 2018

sunday at the v&a

With The American revising away for yet more exams, I am enjoying some time with pals. A few weekends ago I enjoyed a lovely last-minute adventure to the Surrey Hills with Lauren and Oli - the weather was perishing and we confronted a very surprising hail storm but we had a super afternoon, finishing off the afternoon with a swift half in the pub before heading back to the smoke. Two Sundays ago was spent with Sophie and a visit to the V&A. 

Despite studying History of Art at university, it's rare that I find myself exploring current exhibitions.. I'm not very good at getting around to it and then inevitably get there after the exhibition has finished. However, this time around Sophie was organised and had booked our tickets to see the opera exhibition in advance. 

We met on the steps of the museum a la Gossip Girl (Sophie's Blair, I'm Serena but with a few less issues..) and greeted each other with  hugs and giggles. 

I'm not sure I knew what to expect from the exhibition however it was brilliant and I really recommend it to those who enjoy music and theatre. It plots the history of the opera across cities, right from its inception in Venice to the present day. I realise that as I write this the exhibition has now finished (see, i told you - i'm terrible with these things!)but here are some snaps highlighting the best bits!

Having taken in the exhibition we found a nice spot for some lunch. Sophie has just moved in with her boyfriend so we spent much time catching up over that and exchanging horror stories about living with a boy. A perfect Sunday to distract us from Monday dread.  


Sunday, 4 March 2018

beast from the east

Having enjoyed a week of blue skies and rising temperatures, we suddenly found ourselves living in a white winter wonderland, thanks to Storm Emma or The Beast from the East as it was affectionately coined. I love snow so was very excited to wake up to a white wash on Wednesday morning. Others in London were less enthusiastic, considering the train and tube network came to a stand still. Swings and roundabouts! 

Having wrapped up in all the clothes I set off on my walk to work, taking some snaps along the way.

St. Anne's was looking beautiful in the early morning sun and became a prime location for snow snaps.

The poor catkins didn't know what was happening, having just started to come out the week before. I'm hoping all my pots and bulbs haven't been killed off, especially considering temperatures dipped down to -5 at its lowest point. Only time will tell.

Storm Emma took longer to reach my parents' house but when it did, my god did it put up a fight. I have never seen anything like it as the combination of the wind and the snow being fine powder, the snow formed huge drifts like sculptures. Mum sent me pictures, each more amazing than the next.

Bella has probably never seen so much snow before, especially considering home had so much over Christmas. Mum reassured me she was keeping warm, as I did wonder whether she needed a little coat or something! Apparently farm dogs are hardy little critters. 

Isn't this the strangest sight?! The snow had blown up onto the verge and formed these abstract curves and mounds. There was no chance any car was going to be able to drive out of the village!

Now all the snow has gone and the temperature is sitting at a positively balmy 10 degrees. The birds are tweeting away and I have fresh daffodils on the kitchen table once more. The snow was nice whilst it lasted but now I'm looking forward to spring. Lambing starts next weekend at home and I'm looking forward to seeing those lambs bouncing around in sun-drenched fields. 


Friday, 19 January 2018

january blues

I like to think I'm an optimist, someone who 99% of the time sees the glass as half full, but even I can get a bit gloomy during January. The sun rises late and sets early; it's either drizzling outside or the wind is howling at 2am and most people are in hibernation until the sun shows its face once more. However, there are a few things which are bringing me joy (I feel a little like Pollyanna saying this but whatever works for you..) and which I hope will keep me smiling until spring shows its pretty face.

Last night Sophie and I enjoyed a simple supper around my kitchen table. I cooked a lemony courgette linguine and couldn't recommend it enough if you're craving some Italian happiness in your diet. Sophie also brought a beautiful bunch of yellow tulips which are proudly sitting on my table. I can't help but smile  every time I look at them. Thank you! 

I've been getting our little patio in order for the coming season and am delighted to see my spring bulbs poking their heads through, just in time for Easter. I have also ordered myself a composting bin (how has my life come to this?!) and I can't explain to you how excited I was to set it up earlier this week. I've been thinking a lot recently about how much food waste is thrown away and sent to landfill so I'm excited to start filling up my food caddy with scraps and left overs and start making my own compost. This is probably the last thing I ever thought I'd blog about when I set this up 4.5 years ago!

On the occasional blue sky day, the Common has been flexing its aesthetic muscles and reminding me exactly why I love living in this pocket of SW London and why I don't need to move out just yet. 

My sewing machine has proved a love/hate item. I will be the first to admit that maths is NOT my strong point and so the whole aspect of measuring out fabric has been a little stressful, but the actual sewing part has been great and I am slowly building up a healthy collection of cushions. 

And finally, the prospect of heading home in February, and much later to America in June, is really encouraging me to press on through the bleak mid winter and see it out to the other side.

Crickey, Pollyanna would be so impressed with this post! Next post will be a little less smug, promise.


Monday, 1 January 2018

winter wonderland

At the mere mention of snow I revert back to being a six year old and start dreaming about tobogganing, building snowmen and curling up by the fire with a hot drink. I was so upset when we missed out on the snow before Christmas, it felt like our little corner of London was the only place missing out on the white stuff. So when we woke up on the 27th December to a smattering of snow, I was so pleased. Whilst home didn't have enough to play in, the surrounding area did. With a trip to Broadway to pick up things from the vets on our agenda, mum and I glad made the journey across into the Cotswolds. 

Though fairly slushy underfoot we still found a pretty picture or two...

My dream house ^^

The Malverns are also a good spot for snow and having finally lured Bella into the back of the car we drove up into the hills for a dog walk. Thank goodness Dad was driving though as the carpark was a slick of ice and though we have a Volvo, this one is clearly designed for dry roads. Thanks to the muscles of friendly passersby, we managed to navigate ourselves out of the ice and further along the hills before the sun slipped away.

The view is always amazing from up here but the sky was especially beautiful this day. I'll let the photos do the talking..

Mum, sporting her best Russian look ^^

I'm not sure we're due anymore snow at the moment seeing as it's so mild out but I'm glad I got to play in some before the year was up! 

Now, you'll have to excuse me whilst I go off and do a little snow dance...


Sunday, 31 December 2017

going potty over pottery painting

On a Saturday before Christmas Sophie and I met up at the Pottery Café on the Northcote Road for a morning of painting and gossip. We decided we wanted to do something festive together before we went our separate ways over the Christmas break and we thought a spot of pottery painting was in order. Neither of us had done this before but we both did A-Level art so y’know, what could go wrong?!

Having watched a quick demonstration from one of the lovely café girls we picked our pottery pieces and got started on our masterpieces. The pottery is all Emma Bridgewater so really good quality – I chose a half pint milk jug and Sophie went for a butter dish. I confessed to Sophie that I was very nervous I’d end up getting carried away with the sponges and paints and end up creating something that looked like a child had vomited over but Sophie reassured me she’d rein me in if I even remotely looked like I was getting sponge-happy.

I decided on a simple Christmas pattern complete with Christmas tree and snowflakes whilst Sophie created a farmyard scene for her butter dish – v appropriate. We chatted away the two hours and couldn’t believe how relaxing the whole process was and guess what – we didn’t even get too carried away with our sponges!

We both collected our pieces the Friday before Christmas and are thrilled with the outcome! We both decided we’d like to come back at Easter and I have my sights on painting two egg cups and Sophie is hankering after a flower pot or two.

I can't believe it's New Year's Eve yet again - where has the year gone?! I know I say this every year but I really will try to write more posts in 2018.. 

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!


Friday, 15 December 2017

pergola paddington

Miss. East and I worked together during our boarding school days and became known as Regina George (me, for some unknown reason) and The Compass (Rosie, somewhat more understandable) by the mischievous girls we looked after. Rosie moved to Singapore once we finished our year together and I moved to London however, we kept in touch with each others news (Rosie even got married!) and before we knew it three and a half years had passed and Rosie came back to England for Christmas. Naturally, we had to meet up.

I went to Pergola Paddington in the summer with Mel and Sarah so when Rosie told me she would be in London in December I just knew I'd have to take her here. I've never been to Singapore but it doesn't sound the most festive of places in December so I hoped Pergola Paddington would boost Rosie's and her husband, David's, festive mood. Draped in berries and ivy Pergola is a huge rooftop terrace overlooking the train tracks out of London. 

The bar is resplendent with hot toddies, festive punches and good old fashioned ale and beer. PR girls were popping prosecco alongside city slickers knocking back the craft beer. We opted for hot plum cider, complete with star anise and orange wedges. You're spoilt for choice for food - Patty & Bun, Tonkotsu, DF/Mexico and Made of Dough. Rosie and David opted for tacos- baja fish and classic chicken. I went for ramen at Tonkotsu. 

We chatted the evening away, exchanging stories from the last few years, discussed festive plans and had a bit of a gossip too. It's funny how time doesn't make a difference to a friendship, it was like we had never been apart. 

Merry Christmas Rosie and David! Enjoy your time t'up north and have a safe flight back to Singapore.