So by now you might well have seen me on the telly (I KNOW!). Regular readers will know that I’m a huge freezer fan so I’m delighted to be working with Sainsbury‘s on their ‘love your freezer’ campaign – if you haven’t seen the advert, I’ve got it right here, and it’ll be around on the TV for a while too – I saw it on Channel 4 during Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, which pleased me immensely! Read more
Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely evening with your friends and family (or indeed a quiet one at home). We had family round and did a huge Middle Eastern feast, with slow roasted Mechoui lamb, minted yogurt, harissa and sweet chilli jam, all stuffed into warmed pittas with red cabbage and salad. So yummy and a great way to feed a crowd.
So my lovely friend KJL did this awesome end of year roundup thing on Facebook, and it was so interesting to read, I thought I’d ask if I could do something similar. And because she is a very lovely friend, of course she said yes. So here, just for you, are the winners of 2014…
Well hello there! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas day. We had a small gathering as Mr E is working until 28th so our proper festivities will start there. The turkey turned out really well, though, and despite setting the table (and the floor) on fire with over-exuberant use of vodka when lighting the pudding, all went really well.
IT’S NEARLY HERE! If you’re hosting Christmas lunch/dinner this year, here is everything you need to do, including lots of tips to make it stress free and ensure you spend your precious time with your family and friends, and not too much chained to the oven! Remember, don’t panic, and just think of it as a roast dinner on a slightly larger scale.
Before you start, grab a cuppa and have a read through:
Lovely Asda sent me a very festive hamper this weekend: not chocolates, or chutney, no, the best kind: MEAT!
Of course, not everyone wants to eat a traditional roast turkey at Christmas, and Asda’s Extra Special range has some stunning alternatives, including an Extra Special rack of venison, and a unique six bird roast, with British turkey, skinless duck fillet, chicken breast, wild pheasant, partridge and pigeon. The thought of these ‘bird within a bird’ roasts sometimes puts me off (how do you cut off the skin and inedible bits of each bird?) but Asda’s chefs have worked hard to create a dish with all the nice edible bits. It’s covered in a lattice of oak smoked streaky bacon and all you need to do is shove it in the oven. It serves 10 and costs £40 – in store now.
I couldn’t finish off my gift guides without giving a little nod to our furry friends. It’s been a bit sad at English Towers since little Ninja passed away. I miss being attacked on the stairs, and slowly but surely the random white hairs are appearing less and less on everything I iron. Soon I won’t be cursing as I pick them off every item of clothing – and what will I do then?
As a mum (and I speak from experience here), there’s nothing nicer than opening a pressie containing lovely pampering stuff that you might think twice about splashing out on yourself.
In this Big Christmas Gift Guide, I’ve brought together a few lovely treats that will make you, your mum/your wife/your sister feel fabulous, because, hey, they deserve it.
So things on the house front have moved on AGAIN. After the third house purchase fell through, I’ve got to be honest, we were pretty despondent. I’ve never heard of it happening before, but the last one got right to survey and then the survey came in 20k under budget. Anyone else had any experience of that?
Anyhoo, it’s all change again, because we think we’ve found the perfect house – the one we’re already in! We’ve got some lovely plans to do the place up – with a spacious kitchen diner instead of our poky kitchen and separate dining room (more of this later, but my Pinterest page is burgeoning) and new floors and even bathrooms when funds permit.
Often, the most stressful part of travel is getting to the airport. On my last trip, the flights were difficult to book and I ended up flying from Heathrow, but returning back to Gatwick. We always use APH meet and greet parking (I love being met at the airport by someone who whisks your car away leaving you free to walk straight into the airport, then magically returns it just as you walk out again after your trip) so I decided to drive to Heathrow, leave my car, then get an airport coach back from Gatwick on my return. APH were wonderful, and moved my car to Terminal 5, the nearest terminal, so I had the shortest journey possible to pick up my car again. I was delighted.
I think teenagers are some of the most difficult people to buy pressies for (difficult all round, but that’s for another day haha). Thinking creatively about their presents, aside from the never ending list of PS4/Xbox related things occupies quite a lot of my time before Christmas, so I thought I’d share a couple of lovely present ideas with you.
A friend of mine’s got a bit of a thing for premium drinkies and, knowing I feel the same, sent me a bottle of this lovely stuff: Snow Leopard vodka. This uber cool super-premium vodka was created by Stephen Sparrow, a passionate conservationist and ex-drinks industry expert, who heard about the plight of the Snow Leopards during a trip to the Himalayas. There are just 5000 of these beautiful big cats left in the wild and Stephen created the Snow Leopard Trust UK with a goal to raise a million dollars a year to save them.
There’s something delightfully festive about a Harrods Hamper. Seeing as we’re all getting into the Christmas spirit here at English Towers, I was very excited when Harrods offered us the chance to try one out. We chose ‘The Sloane‘, and it arrived (you can track your order online, and it arrives within 3-5 working days) well protected and carefully packaged. The hamper, a glossy square dark brown cane basket with a faux leather embossed lid is huge – rather over huge, if I’m honest, for its contents, which I’d probably describe as all the ingredients for the poshest afternoon tea you’ve had in your entire existence.
The thing about home baking is that it should be a joy. My favourite times are spent in my kitchen – pinny on (Cath Kidston, a treasured present from my friend Taralara), oven on, flour everywhere, radio playing, people popping in and out for a chat or a quick taste – it’s my therapy. I’d go mad without it. Someone once told me that you should never bake when you’re miserable – nothing goes right – cakes don’t rise, things don’t taste right… it’s because the baking picks up on your mood, and I completely believe that’s true.
I’m no wine expert, but we’re starting to know what we like and what we don’t. Here are a few things we’ve tried recently, plus a couple of recommendations for the festive season. Cheers!
Christmas is my busiest (and favourite) time of year. I’m never happier than when I’m pootling about in the kitchen, doing a bit of work, a bit of cooking, cup of tea on the go, fairy lights twinkling… And this is why I didn’t go with the boys to buy the tree.
There’s nothing quite like that first mince pie of the season, is there? Yesterday I popped to TK Maxx and picked up a couple of bits including this AMAZING ceramic bun tin and a cute little freeform bowl. Time for some baking, then:
I love flowers – adore them. Mr English spent the whole summer buying me sunflowers from our local market, but now it’s moving into Christmas time, I’m all for red roses, fragrant pine and silvery eucalyptus. I was delighted, then, when the lovely chaps at Appleyard London sent me some of their beautiful Christmas flowers, the gorgeous ‘mulled wine’ arrangement – a mix of velvety red grand prix roses, pine cones, berries and seasonal foliage. The arrangement scented the whole house and made us all feel really Christmassy. I can imagine it taking pride of place in the centre of the Christmas table.
I adore Cath Kidston – I always pop into the airport shop at Gatwick to pick up notebooks and little treats (check out the new Christmas range – I’m coveting the oven gloves). I’ve also got a little peg bag and wouldn’t be without my favourite apron – a treasured gift from my friend Tara.
Lucky you! There’s a brand new Boden discount code live right now. From now until Thursday 13th November 2014 you can get a fantastic 25% off voucher code, plus free delivery. Hurry to Boden right now by clicking on the pic below and using code W8V4
With our house purchase still slowly moving forward (reeeeally painfully slowly, but nobody’s actually said no yet, so we’re holding out hope), my thoughts keep gravitating to my new kitchen. The Pinterest page is slowly filling up with gorgeous kitchen shots and I’m starting to make a few notes about what I’d like in my dream kitchen. Being a practical sort of gal, and needing everything close at hand, I’m a huge fan of Kilner jars. I like to have lots of things on display and within easy reach when I’m cooking, so open shelves will definitely be the way forward. Tombola Times are hosting a MASSIVE survey of tons of food lovers, asking them what their top ten hero products are, to try and discover the ultimate store cupboard (you can find the survey here), and most of mine can be found in jars in my kitchen:
So Halloween’s coming up. Sadly, I’ll be missing all the fun (not too sadly as I’ll be joining the inaugural voyage of Royal Caribbean’s new beauty, Quantum of the Seas). Here are a few ideas if you’re staying at home this weekend.
Happy half term! We’ve been really busy planning a trip to Florida next week (it’s Mr English’s 50th while we’re over there too), and I spent the weekend in London with my friend Erica (more of this very soon). There’s also been more work on The Secret Special Thing that Cannot be Mentioned. All will be revealed soon, I promise.
As a nation, we’ve never really embraced candy corn have we? I love the look (and taste) of them, and when I was in America I tracked down these mixed fruit ones (probably terribly untraditional) and knew exactly what to do with them. What’s the best thing about Halloween? All the trick or treat sweets mixed up in a big bowl of course!
Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a lovely chill-out day wherever you are. I’ve had a such a lovely week this week, with some AMAZING career news (that sadly I can’t tell you about yet – I know, I hate it when people do that too), and a visit from Sam, home from university for a couple of days (he’s loving it, by the way – London/uni life really seems to suit him). I also had an incredible time at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons – more of this later on in the week. We’ve also put an offer in on the HOUSE OF OUR DREAMS, but I’m really trying not to get too excited as it’s very early days and we’re still waiting on a mortgage too (but check out the garden – above – how pretty is that?).
- My top five fluffy American pancake ideas January 7, 2015
- The UK does Macy’s: my top five things to do in Sarasota January 5, 2015
- Ooooh I’m on the telly! The new Sainsbury’s ‘Love Your Freezer’ campaign January 3, 2015
- New year, new plans January 2, 2015
- English Mum’s Great Big End of Year Awards December 30, 2014