Best of the Blogs - 9th December

I can't believe how quickly the first week of my foray into blogging has gone & it's already time for a round up of the best posts I've been reading this week!

Events

There have been some absolutely stunning weddings & events on the blogsphere this week, but my three favourites have to be (from left to right) :

This beautiful 1920s DIY London Wedding over on Whimsical Wonderland Weddings. It was the amazing bridal bouquet that first caught my eye but the entire wedding is just perfect. The bride's dress from Vionnet has to be one of the most simple, yet stunning dresses I have seen in a long time. 

I would love to have the opportunity to work at Aynhoe Park one day & this amazing wedding over on Rock My Wedding just reminds me why. It has to be one of the most quirky venues out there but it looks stunning from every angle! This bride & groom certainly seem to have found the perfect laid back, happy vibe to go with the venue. 

This London wedding is another one where the flowers that caught my eye initially, but the styling of the whole event is a vision in white & I just want to dive head first into that cake!!!!

Interiors

I'm slowly getting the Christmas spirit and this great Christmas Special on How to Decorate from Wear & Where has definitely helped. I challenge any of you not to get in the spirit after you've had a browse through all these festive images - & if you don't ... bah humbug on you!

I'm a huge fan of Abigail Ahern and was lucky enough to do her online design school this year. If you are a budding interior designer & don't have have the chance to do her course (or even if you do) then you must up for her blog. She is a font of wisdom on all things design and this post on 'Some Decorating Don'ts' is a must read. I think I might have avoided a few of my more disastrous mistakes if I had discovered blogs before I discovered a paint brush!

Some little girls dream of living in a fairytale castle, I just dream of living in a loft or anywhere with lovely high ceilings & an industrial twist. This light filled loft over on Desire to Inspire just has me green with envy! Not only does it have that amazing industrial feel but the designers have also managed to bring the outside inside in the most spectacular way. I'll be dreaming of this house for weeks!

Best of the Rest

Is it just me or are the women of Paris some of the most chic in the world? Londoners will always be some of the most fashionable, but so many women in Paris just seem to exude this timeless elegance and classic style. Over at Wear & Where this week, the girls have a great interview with a Londoner who has just returned after four years in Paris. Aside from the great article, they've got some great fashion finds for you.

Ever feel like you're the only one who attracts all the weirdoes? We all have a disastrous date story to two & I'm sure we all know friends that have stories even worse than ours, but it's always nice to realise that you're not alone! Thanks to Darling Lovely Life & her 'Ten Signs He's A Bad Egg' post we can do. Every single story has had me cringing & I still can't believe some of them are true: guy who declared love in the first week I am talking to you! Please do go check it out for yourself. 

Finally, 'tis the season of the holiday gift guide. There are hundreds out there at the moment, and I'm currently guilt of writing some of my own, but this one from The Londoner really stood out. There are so many things I'd like to add to my wish list, but the Corkicle is definitely up there with the cashmere scarf. 

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P.S Are there any other great posts out there this week that I've missed? I'm always up for some recommended reading. 

Week in Pics ... 8th December

Ever feel like you never want to leave the house again? I'm beginning to think that bears have a great life - what with the whole winter hibernation thing they've got going on!!

Apart from last Sunday, I've been avoiding the cold outdoors as much as possible and working my way through my rather long to-do list of jobs round the house. Wednesday saw the arrival of this years Christmas cards from Moo and I'm pleased to say that I'm over half way there writing them. Hoping to get them all n the post by the Tuesday!

I also received my order from the lovely Lucy Says I Do with my gift tags and thank you cards. Once the cards are finished, project Wrap Christmas will commence with vengeance. 

The little ring dishes that I spotted over on the Treasure Hunter also arrived. The robin now has pride of place on my office dish and the deer is residing on my bedside table. These little beauties are only £7.99 over at Flamingo gifts

The other lovely arrival in the post was this months copy of The Simple Things - perfect bedtime reading when I'm curled up under a nice warm duvet!

Last Sunday we decided to brave the cold weather and went for a lovely lunch at The Feathers in Woodstock. When it's only £24.99 for three courses it would be rude not to over indulge!! The roast was lovely but the crab starter and the sticky toffee pudding were definitely the two stars of the show. 

If Sunday lunch wasn't enough, that was to be the first of four meals that I ate there this week!! They definitely need to take the Moules marinières off the menu before I turn into a mussel!

I have now made a promise to myself that I cannot embrace the lift of a hermit for the rest of the winter so the plan for the week includes:

  • my very first laser hair removal session - though I am worried this is going to be painful!!
  • first Christmas party of the season
  • two venue viewing for a corporate party I'm planning in January
  • the start of Project Wrap Christmas 2013

Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend!! See you all next week!!

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5 under £50 ... Prints

Now that the upstairs of the house is finally coming together, I've started to dream of decorations. I've spent far too many hours scouring the internet for artwork, pictures and prints to decorate the walls with & these are some of my favourite prints so far. 

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Tired of Turkey? A roundup of the best alternative Christmas recipes

Is it just me or is anyone else tired of turkey? By the time Christmas comes around I've been to some many Christmas parties and had turkey served so many different ways that the last thing I want to see on my Christmas table is another turkey. If like me, you're looking for something a little different this year then this might just be the post for you ... a round up of some of the best show-stopping alternatives I could find on the web and some ideas for where you can order the tastiest possible ingredients:

Venison Loin

I was lucky enough to have venison loin when I went for a lunch meeting yesterday and it was absolutely delicious!!! 

For the meat, I recommend getting your venison from Touch of Hart. I originally found them via a Kickstarter campaign and was lucky enough to get my Kickstart reward box through the post last week with some delicious venison jerky, chorizo & bacon in it. You can either find them on their website, Facebook or Twitter

If you are looking for recipes to try, the venison wellington from Great British Chefs and the Pan-roasted venison with creamy baked potato & celeriac from Jamie Oliver both look equally delicious. Though if I had to pick one, it'd be the pan-roasted loin

Shoulder of Lamb

Shoulder of lamb was the first thing I ever cooked for Christmas dinner. It was about six years ago and I had just bought my first house in London. I invited my parents down and felt very grown-up cooking Christmas dinner in my own house for the first time. That year I bought the lamb from the excellent Blackface Meat Company. It was absolutely superb and I would definitely recommend them. 

I haven't tried this recipe yet, but this Mothership Lamb recipe on Ren Behan's blog looks stunning and it would make the perfect centre piece for the Christmas table. I don't think any guest is going to company if you put this down on the table rather than a turkey!

A Duck & Partridge in a Pear Tree

I have always wanted to try a two or three bird roast and when I saw this recipe over on the Foodie Bugle I knew I had to include it. They also recommend The Wild Meat Company who supply different options including a three bird roast, a duck & partridge ballotine, a pigeon & a pheasant ballotine and a quail & a pigeon ballotine

Good Old Gammon

Last up a delicious recipe from the amazing Rosalilium blog by Elizabeth. Her ginger beer glazed ham looks so good that I just want to lick the screen! I tried Nigella Lawson's ham in cola last year, but I will definitely be giving this one a shot just as soon as I have a cooker. 

All good local butchers will do a ham joint, but I've been using the Riverford boxes for the last 18 months and I've always found their meat to be excellent. I'm a firm believer in free range, but not so fussed about buying organic (though that's a long & lengthy debate for another post), however I really can't fault their meat. 

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P.S. What will you be cooking for Christmas lunch? I'd love to hear if anyone has any other great suggestions? 

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Giveaway!!!! Win a copy of "Gok Cooks Chinese"

I did tell you in my "Top 10 Gifts for Foodies" that I normally avoid 'celebrity' cookbooks with the same vigour that avoid non-alcoholic wine! I also said that the exception to this was Gok Wan's "Gok Cooks Chinese"

So, in celebration of Notes on a Napkins launch and in order to put my money where my mouth is, I though I'd giveaway a copy of his book. All you have to do to enter is follow the easy-peasy RaffleCopter widget below.

Gok Wan - "Gok Cooks Chinese"

Gok Wan - "Gok Cooks Chinese"

Any questions at all, just give me a shout & I'll be happy to help. The giveaway ends next Wednesday lunchtime and I'll drop the winner an email by Wednesday evening as well as updating this post. 

 

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PS. I suppose I'm supposed to have terms & conditions or something terribly complicated. But all I'm going to say is please don't enter if you're not in the UK and GOOD LUCK!

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Deck the Halls ...

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Every year my hubbie laughs at me as I try and wedge the biggest Christmas tree I could possibly find into the house! Last year they didn't have a large enough one on display so I merrily trooped off into the Christmas tree wood the next morning to have one cut down. 

Unfortunately this year the building works are seriously disrupting my plans for a tree to rival Trafalgar Square. It would seem the best I'm going to get is this little, stick-up "No-Fuss Tree" I spotted in Selfridges today. But that doesn't stop a girl from dreaming …

The trees of my childhood were always the brightest things imaginable. I wanted lights in every different colour and as much tinsel as I could fit on. The first year I had my own house and own tree to decorate, I decided to go for the minimalist look and I've been growing my collection of glass & china ornaments every year there after. Unfortunately I don't have any pics of my trees from years gone past, but I've done some online window shopping and found seven stunning baubles for three different themes. I hope this gives you all plenty of inspiration. 

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All I want for Christmas ... top 10 gifts for foodies

Now one thing everything knows about me is I love my food - and I mean love it!!! Cooking it, eating it, taking far too many pictures of it ... anything to do with food really!!! You're therefore guaranteed to find loads of foodie related gifts at the top of my Christmas list. This is a round up some of the ones I'm already lucky enough to have as well as a few that I'll be dropping some not so subtle hints to my hubbie about!

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How stylish does this leather handled wine cooler & goblets from Whisk Hampers look? At £235 I may have to wait till next year, but a girl can dream.

I love travelling and one of the best bits about it is discovering all of the wonderful ingredients in the local food markets and restaurants & then trying to track them down when you get home again! These monthly food boxes from Kitchen Nomad provide all the excitement without the need to leave the comfort of your kitchen. At £66 for three months, this could be the perfect gift for the adventurous foodie in your life.

Now I'm not going to recommend that anyone gets their naked photo taken and plastered all over a billboard - not one of Gok's better ideas really - but I am going to recommend his Chinese cookbook. I normally stay away from 'celebrity' cookbooks with the same vigour that I stay away from non-alcoholic wine, but I was given this last year and having cooked at least half the recipes in here it has become one of my go-to favourites.

Another one for the adventurous cook in your life - this Dolsot Bibimbap Kit from SousChef. Now I view the SousChef website as food porn, and if I had the money and the storage pretty much all of their canape service ware would have already found it's way into my kitchen - who doesn't need miniature Coke bottles in their lives? Slightly more realistic is this cooking kit for £33.50 with everything you need to make a fantastic Bibimbap (an amazing Korean rice dish). 

Another one for adventurous cooks - the Himalayan Salt Plate! Even I went "what the f@*!" when I was given two of these but I am now a convert I promise!! The idea is that you either heat them or chill them and then use them to fry food like scallops if they're heated or serve food like sushi if their chilled. Apparently the salt in the block can also cure things like sashimi, but I haven't tried this one yet. If nothing else, they are guaranteed to be a conversation starter at the dinner table!

Thanks my very generous friends who came to my wedding, I already have a large collection of LSA glassware including some of their stunning hurricane lanterns but this LSA Cheese Dome would be a perfect addition & at £85 it isn't going to break the bank. 

I have been very well behaved recently and I've been trying to cut down on the number of kitchen gadgets that I have. The one thing that you would have to prize out of my cold dead hands though would be my bright red Kenwood kMix. It is the one thing in my kitchen that gets the most use and ever dear hubbie uses it on a regular basis when he's baking. 

In one breath I'm saying that I'm trying to cut down on the number of kitchen gadgets I have and in the other I'm about to suggest a lemon squeezer - but I'm sorry this has to be the coolest lemon squeezer ever!!! It looks like a spaceship about to take off :) Ok - maybe I'm a bit childish, I admit it. 

I'm loving the idea of monthly clubs as presents this year - it just seems so much more exciting. One club I would love to join is the Jamsmith Club. For the princely sum of £54 someone you love, will get two jars of homemade jam delivered to they door every month for the next six months. They are all handmade by Vicky Smith and past flavours have included "Lemon, Pear & Ginger", "Wild Sloe, Crab Apple & Bramble" and "Summer pudding with Elderflower". You'll have to excuse me whilst I go make some toast ... 

Now it might just be me, but I swear every food lover dream of receiving a wicker basket with the F&M initials embossed on the top & this hamper looks just perfect. Snacks, sweets and fine wine - what more do you need for a night curled up in front of a big log fire?

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All that glitters isn't gold ...

When a christmas party isn't a christmas party ...

Last week I was so excited to be asked to plan a corporate Christmas party for a company I have already worked with once this year {on an epic Around the World themed Summer Party}.

I know this client likes to go all out for their parties; this summer we had three band, a vodka ice bar, a shisha tent, pop up food trucks and even a Spitfire flypast! 

So when they got in touch again, I was already having visions of an Apres Ski Lodge complete with a wooden bar and ice luge or a winter wonderland with a reindeer or two before I even had all the details.

As it turns out I was getting a little ahead of myself; the party isn't going to be till the end of January when we are all going to have stuffed ourselves on turkey & be over the cold weather and all things wintery. 

Back to the drawing board I go ...

I then got slightly sidetracked thinking about entertainment for this event. How to top the Summer party??? Then I remembered this amazing 12 piece Swing band I've worked with in the past {I promise to post about them soon}, which got me thinking ... what better way to showcase them, than by building the theme around the band and so "1930's Glamour" was born.

This takes me onto this this amazing photo shoot from Style Unveiled that I found whilst trawling the internet for more inspiration.

Even I don't end up going with this theme this time around, the colour palate is stunning and, with the right venue, this would be perfect for a corporate do or private event. 

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All about the rug ...

Little by little we are beginning to finish rooms off. The study still has a way to go, including skirting boards and cupboard doors, but the end is in sight. 

I'm so pleased with the way it's turning out & I got the biggest compliment ever when a friend popped over the other day, walked in & said "it feels like an apple store in here". Now that definitely isn't the feel I'm going for, for the rest of the house, but I wanted the study to feel clean, simple and modern. 

The one thing I'm definitely missing though is a good rug. Here are a few of my favourites, though I still can't decide. What do you guys think?

So, I'm liking all of them but at the moment options 1 and 4 are definitely my favourites. Given that option 1 costs more than my car & I'm not likely to be winning the lottery any time soon - it looks like option 4 is currently the winner!

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