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I'm taking you backstage again! This time at Orlebar Brown's Covent Garden shop where the SS15 collection of tailored beach and resort wear was shown both in in the shop, and to the delight READ MORE...
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Each season Showstudio invites their favourite fashion illustrators to create their own unique view of the collections, then they present each series READ MORE...
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I opened the cover of a new landscape photography periodical I had just received called Land/Sea and began browsing the photos and words as I walked into my kitchen READ MORE...
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Here's a little horror-inspired fashion viewing for your Monday morning! Directed by Trevor Undi and styled by Takafumi Kawasaki, the film follows model Jun READ MORE...
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Yes, this is a men's fashion post. And it feels right. This season's London Collections: Men was my first ever thanks to an invitation from long-term London Fashion Week sponsor Toni & Guy READ MORE...
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One day in Stockholm we took the ferry to the island of Djurgården to visit the Vasa Museum, one of Stockholm's most popular attractions. 'Vasa' refers to the Swedish warship READ MORE...
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Miss Kiki Salon is a collective that creates wearable art inspired by the beauty the find in their every day lives. Their latest designs form the Inui capsule collection READ MORE...
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April 07, 2014

Review: 'Treat Petite' by Fiona Pearce

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There's something so irresistible about miniature food, the treats we love made into tiny packages you can just pop into your mouth - virtually guilt-free! (Unless you're me and can't help but eat your weight in them.) Fiona Pearce, owner of Icing Bliss in London where she specialises in vintage-inspired cakes, knows the 'Alice-in-Wonderland' charm of little delectables and has brought us 42 recipes for mini bakes and bites in her second book, Treat Petite. The sweets cover everything including sponges, meringues, chocolate, pastry, choux, and biscuits, while the savoury section begins with a lesson in making perfect puff pastry, followed by seven recipes for tasty, bite-sized canapes. 

What I love most about this book is the simplicity of the recipes so anyone can make them, regardless of baking experience. It's also great for introducing novices to certain dishes that may otherwise be intimidating. You can start off small - quite literally! - and master your technique before attempting the full version - if that still holds any interest after going tiny! And you can have lots of fun playing with presentation, arranging Micro-meringue Kisses, Mini Dacquoise Towers, and Pistachio and White Chocolate Florentines (one of many possibilities) on pretty plates to wow your family or guests - or yourself! And it may inspire you to experiment with your own creations - I'm beginning to imagine everything I cook in its scaled-down version.

Treat Petite is published by Ivy Press and is available to purchase at Amazon (£12.99).

Here's a peek inside the book, packed with beautiful photos of every recipe and detailed, easy-to-follow instructions: 

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I love madeleines and can't wait to try this even smaller version, flavoured with freshly ground Earl Grey tea leaves and glazed with sugar, honey and orange. 

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Coffee Bean Biscuits are made with fragrant coffee shortbread to resemble the real thing - wouldn't that make a charming and delicious accompaniment to your cup of Java? 

The artwork that introduces each chapter is so wonderful and fun:

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Gilded Caramel Shortbread Squares and Chocolate Ganache-filled Tartlets with chocolate pastry - yum!


A savoury-sweet burst of flavour in a single bite, these Caramelised Onion Galettes with Goat's Cheese would be hard to walk away from after just one:

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 How delicious do these Caesar Salad Bites sound, with garlic butter-infused bread tart, crispy bacon, parmesan cheese and half a quail's egg? Add Mini Blini Stacks with Smoked Salmon for a very special brunch. 


In addition to running Icing Bliss, Fiona Pearce also teaches cake decorating classes at Cakeology in South-west London. Her first book, Cake Craft Made Easy, was published in 2013. 

January 01, 2014

New Years Eve in London: Fireworks 2014


I spent New Years Eve in my kitchen, because we had a party, and like everyone knows, people always gather in the kitchen at parties. And no matter how many chairs you have, people will stand. Has someone created a club yet that is just one giant kitchen? You wouldn't even need seating. 

On New Years Day I always post the London fireworks because they're pretty spectacular. The BBC says that peach flavoured snow and edible banana confetti fell on revellers during the show. I'm wondering, did they announce it was edible beforehand and therefore the crowd was full of people looking up with their mouths open? Or did it fall to the ground only to be eaten up by pigeons who are moaning in the streets today with sugar hangovers?

Here's to a fantastic 2014!

December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas! This is a late well-wishing, but my laptop was being used to run Spotify through the speakers. Somehow Beastie Boys' Brass Monkey made it into the Christmas playlist, and I must say that after eating to a level of discomfort that can't be described with polite words, it seemed about right. Here's Run-DMC's Christmas in Hollis for a little festive nostalgia with beats. (If you're viewing this through your email subscription, click on the headline of this post to view the video.)

And as always after eating so much I have had to resort to changing into leggings....I regret nothing! 

December 16, 2013

How Last Minute Travel Deals Can Save a Packet


After a very nice Christmas back home with family in Canada last year, the first in four, we've got a non-traditional holiday happening this time around. It's going to be just the three of us and so we're considering going away. But with Christmas just around the corner - don't kill the messenger! - we're well into last-minute territory. So I've taken a look at the travel deals on Travelzoo - a win-win as you get a fantastic holiday at a fraction of the price. And for added value there are lots of packages available, including those featuring spa treatments, shopping trips, football matches, or even staying in a palace! Some of the deals are so good, exciting trips at low cost, that they might even be considered for gifts - who wouldn't love that?

You can do sunny holidays or ski holidays, but right now I'm daydreaming about Barcelona. We've never been, which is odd because we've been in the UK for eight years and I think as a Brit, even a pretend one, you eventually find yourself on a plane to Spain; it's just how it is. Everyone I know who has been to Barcelona has fallen in love with the city, some claiming it to be their favourite place in the world. I don't need to be convinced any further. 

But why would we want to go to Barcelona when the city is dead and chilly you ask? Because we can't really bear crowds to be honest, and the scorching sun and humidity is not our friend. That's right, we don't want to be around others like us! Also, I've read the locals take advantage of this tourist down-time to reclaim the city as their own. We might be short on daylight for sightseeing, but we've never been ones to pack an itinerary anyway; I'd rather miss some major attractions than be too busy to actually experience the proverbial soul of a place. Besides, it gives you something to discover next time. And this way the evenings can be ours for cafe-hopping which is probably our favourite thing to do anyway. You can learn so much about the culture by observing and partaking in their rituals, and the people-watching in a foreign city is always a big part of the fun. 


And, the bonus is experiencing a traditional Catalan Christmas. Apparently there's a rather scatalogical theme to their celebrations, believe it or not. There's always a 'pooping man' included in the nativity scene - did I miss that part in the bible story? - as well as a 'pooping log', as is the literal translation of "caga tio". I present this to you, from the Barcelona Tourist Guide in case you don't believe me:

"Caga Tio comes out on 08 December. It is a small log with a smiley face, wearing the traditional red Catalan hat - the Barretina. The name Caga Tio means 'Poo Log'. Every day between  08 December  and Christmas Eve, children look after the Caga Tio. They cover him with a blanket to make sure that he is warm and they feed him Turron every evening. This is to ensure that he is nice and full so that he will poo out lots of treats on Christmas Eve!"

Turron is a Spanish confection made from almonds and honey. As for what the log 'produces', the parents hide presents in him. I think it's hilarious that the log is given a smiling face and is well taken care of before he gets the stuffing beaten out of him with sticks. I happened to meet a Catalan women at the weekend and mentioned the traditions I'd read about, and she kind of smiled and rolled her eyes, seeming to acknowledge it was a bit 'out there'. Well, I think it all sounds like good fun!

November 22, 2013

New Look Holiday Wish List


I did a little window shopping online at New Look after a friend lamented not having anything 'glamorous' for the holidays, but didn't want to break the bank right before Christmas.  It's a conundrum for most of us, I think, trying to shop for some new looks for parties and family events when we're meant to be focussing on others. And all on a budget!

I like to choose pieces that are easy to wear and versatile. Comfort equals confidence, and with so many styles of clothing available it makes good sense to go with something that can work for lots of different occasions without being too middle of the road. So I went with a dress that pops in cobalt blue and works well for both day and evening. The shape is my favourite body-con style, it hugs the figure yet sits on the modest side, the short sleeves balancing the mid-thigh length to create a more subtle kind of sexy.

A great coat is essential for looking polished and put together as you get yourself from place to place. I went with a style that is a mix of classic in burgundy boucle, practical with its warm mid-length, and cool with zips and a biker style lapel. This coat can be worn for anything, with the exception of sledging and snowball fight!

Sometimes a tired outfit can be revived with clever accessorising. Take the the silver and white stone cuff. It's a festive piece that would instantly lift an all-black outfit, and add some extra icy winter sparkle to a white silk top or dress. The clutch is an essential party piece and should complement your outfit. This box clutch in black and gold geometric cut-outs is a stand-out item yet will go with just about any outfit in solid colours and maybe even some prints. And a sharp belt is another must-have for finishing a special outfit. The gold chain detail of this belt gives a touch of refined texture and will raise the style factor of black trousers or a form-fitting dress. 

And for a little cuteness and humour at home, I included a pair of New Look brown knitted mouse slippers which will keep feet warm on a chilly Christmas and New Year morning whilst being adorable. I think these will help make my friend's festivities a little more fun and exciting!

November 20, 2013

Create an Avalanche in a Glass

AvalancheThis seems especially apropos today as I'm watching flurries flying about out the window. Too soon! Here's something cold and icy that's much more palatable. Piccadilly Institute have created a special cocktail for the holidays, called The Avalanche. Topped with a Lego man skier, this snowy concoction is like Christmas come early!

Here's the recipe so you can make your own Avalanche at home:


12.5ml Ketel One

12.5ml Crème de banana

12.5ml Amaretto 12.5ml

White cacao

Milk to top

Prep glass with crushed ice; mix all ingredients together in a shaker and pour over. Top with extra crushed ice and garnish with crushed amaretto biscuit. Place Lego skier delicately on top of the avalanche.

With its sweet creaminess I'll bet it makes a nice alternative to the traditional, super rich egg nog. (I had to look into whether Brits even drink egg nog - I've not assertained this in my eight years here. Although it is said to have possibly originated in East Anglia, I'm still not sure!) 

October 30, 2013

Piccadilly Institute Serves up the Ultimate Spooky Cocktails

Piccadilly Institute_Death Do Us Part low res'Death Do Us Part' is a sharer-cocktail served in The Chamber Room. Presented in a 'human heart' with smoking dry ice, it looks like something straight out of a mad scientist’s laboratory. The cocktail is a hearty mixture of Bacardi gold, Lamb’s, apricot brandy, shaken up with orange and pineapple juice. 

I can never get on top of figuring out and executing an awesome Halloween costume in time for the night, so creating my own scary spectacular isn't likely. It's just as well because I find it's more fun to let others host a night of fright for you, and one event that makes me wish I was in London this Halloween is the party at Piccadilly Institute. Serving the ultimate in spooky cocktails, the evening is described as 'like a rave set in a horror film' - how can you not want to go to that? 

Featured here are some of the cocktails you can indulge in with a friend - they're all for sharing - and enjoy a properly eerie and spine-chilling Halloween!

The Piccadilly Institute is located at 1 Piccadilly Circus, London, W1V 9LA.

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Piccadilly Royal, served in The Noir Room.  This cocktail is spooky enough to give you nightmares. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to anyone going dressed as the Grim Reaper in need of a skull. The Piccadilly Royale is the king of Halloween cocktails as it packs a frightfully delicious punch with a mixture of Eristoff vodka, Chambord, raspberry puree, lemonade, and prosecco. Warning: if drunk too quickly it may cause brain freeze!

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Bate’s IV Therapy, served in The Clinic Room. Every Halloween is undoubtedly blood thirsty and if Dracula had a choice in where to party it would be here. That’s because Piccadilly Institute has blood on tap. That’s right, the Bate’s IV Therapy cocktail is quite literally served through an IV bag on wheels, which is handy if you fancy a boogie and a constant supply of a tube-fed cocktail at the same time. A blood curdling mixture of Absolut Raspberry, Chambord, passion and raspberry puree and apple juice - although it looks like blood, it tastes a lot nicer!

June 19, 2013

Clever Bridal Styling Saves the Day


A friend's sister is getting married and she came to me with a dilemma that is a nightmare scenario for a bride-to-be. No, she didn't find out that her betrothed has been leading a secret, unsavoury life; rather she no longer likes the dress she bought last year, and that may be the worst of the two evils in a bride's mind! Achieving the *gasp* moment when appearing at the back of the aisle is the goal of many for the wedding day, and anything short of looking stunning will not do. (I was afraid of having my makeup done badly - the most talented makeup artists cannot make sense of my eyes for some reason - so I did my makeup myself. And wound up applying too much 'dewy look' product on my cheeks and appearing in photos as if I'd been shellacked.)

Back to the dress. I asked a few questions and found out that, luckily, she didn't find the dress particularly awful, she just found it 'blah' now, which was probably a result of being overwhelmed by choices and so going with something on the plain side. She was afraid of her look falling flat and passing down the aisle practically invisible. The first thing to do to put her frantic mind at ease was to give her options. First, she could buy a new dress. That's not feasible for most; however, you can get custom made wedding dresses in less than two weeks from JJs House at wholesale cost, so there are actually reasonable replacement options available. And there are lots of things you can do with styling, embellishments, and accessories to give impact to a dress and salvage your original purchase. 

If you're looking at having the dress embellished, get quotes from as many local seamstresses as possible. Our bride opted in the end to have a bow added to the bodice of her dress, but the shop that sold her the dress was going to charge £400 to do it! So I recommended she find an independent seamstress with experience with wedding gowns who would be happy to do it and not take advantage of her situation. She did, and paid a fifth of the original quote. 

Next is styling. I found these bridal looks which show how an unlikely bridal colour, soft grey, can add a subtle pop to the look while maintaing the exquisiteness of the dress. A lace jacket will instantly beautify a plain bodice, while a belt creates a modern look:


And then there's your head to consider. She had been a bit non-commital about what to do when she bought her dress, not too keen on anything elaborate, but also not wanting to do something underwhelming. But since it's not a good look to go all-out on every aspect - meringue! - the best way is to go subtle with nearly everything and pick one thing to pop.  The editorial below, shot by Tim Walker, illustrates how an unusual tulle headpiece can be both lovely and dramatic, and with the right hair and makeup, balanced with the right dress (no, it doesn't have to be as grand and Vogue-worthy as this one!), can create a fashion forward bridal look. No jewellery needed. 


Our bride-to-be will be just fine. She's a lovely English rose of a girl with a great, beaming smile, and that in itself will make her a beautiful bride. 

May 21, 2013

Father's Day Gift Ideas


Men seem to be a lot tougher to buy for than women, I even get stuck when searching for gifts for the newborn sons of my friends. And now Father's Day is on the horizon once again and many of us will find ourselves fretting over the perfect token of our appreciation. But it's not really as hard as we think. 

There's the trend-tastic approach of creating gifts that are personalised to reflect his favourite interests, quotes, trips he's taken, etc. Some fathers will think that's just great. But I know if I gave my dad a framed printed listing everything he likes in one continous sentence of varying font sizes, it would get a hard stare followed by a grimace, then put down and forgotten, then three hours later he'd whisper, "Dee, what is that?" And then there are the 'man shops' at the mall that would have you believe that the one who is half responsible for your existence will be wildly amused by drinking beer from the top of his head, or a box that can be made to emit a rude noise. Alas, you can never go wrong with a watch. They're classic, practical, and they always fit. If your dad is a bit on the daring side, you may want to consider fashion watches for something that's different from the usual styles, especially if he's open to colour. And if he's of the more traditional persuasion there are lots of designer watches for men that offer style in a range of price points. The great thing about a watch is that there are plenty of 'risk-free' options that appeal to dads who don't like things too fussy, making it a safe choice that will still make a big impression.

If you were already onto that idea last year, here are a few others to consider:

  • Photo album. Online photo shops offer some really great options for creating a smart-looking book of personal memories. If applicable, make it about his grandchildren because you've probably noticed that your father is far more charmed by them than he was by you at the same age. 
  • Good socks. I know, I know. Historically it's a groaner of a gift, a total cop-out. But a lot of men tend to go cheap with their socks and their other half is having to constantly point out holes and be vigilant about taking them out of the daily rotation to avoid embarrassment in the presence of company. Make them an addition to a more fun item, and they'll become the gift that keeps on giving in terms of comfort and longevity. And dignity. 
  • Gift voucher for his favourite shop. You cannot go wrong with this, if our successful routine with my dad is anything to go by. Dads are typically practical people who are used to taking care of everyone else and their needs tend to come last. Giving them the ok to shopping for man toys will always be appreciated. 
  • Event tickets. If your dad is into sports or culture for example, there is usually something cool happening within a reasonable radius from where he lives . This one takes some foresight and planning well in advance, but it's worth it for the surprise factor. 

Hopefully these will help, or trigger other ideas your dear ol' dad will love! 

March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! With Ladurée Longings


I've been wondering whether people who celebrate Easter, but don't have children, buy Easter eggs and other festive chocolates...I don't think I did before mine came along, but then again that doesn't sound like me, I would have looked for any excuse! If Laduree's Easter collection, which just launched on their very new online shop - finally!!! - is anything to go by, adults are indeed indulging. In a big way. A five year-old just isn't going to appreciate the Chocolate Egg Tresor (seen in the last photo) in dark chocolate, enveloping a chocolate yuzu macaron pyramid in gold. Well, not enough to justify the €650.00 price tag, I don't think? (The Tresor is for pick-up only at their Castiglione location.) There was also a smaller version for €150.00. Obviously, these were the grand showpieces of the collection and we'd expect a heart-stopper or two from the legendary maison. 

The online shop is a re-branding called Les Marquis de Ladurée, all about "the taste of chocolate, the spirit of chocolate" (sounds better in French), so don't expect to find anything that doesn't feature the milky or dark treat heavily. They do deliver outside of France, you can find a list of European countries here, and the service does come at a hefty price, €43 to the UK. But for those of us nowhere near London where Laduree has several boutiques (maybe they'll begin shipping from within the UK? Please?!) it could be a rare treat. Go in with a friend! Or two, or three. 

You can see some photos from 2009 where we spent Easter half in Paris, half at home (my favourite of the treats was a mauve Laduree chocolate egg), here



Photos: Le Marquis de Ladurée



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