With the summer wedding season already here I wanted to collate some wedding outfit ideas. So, I have taken to the ‘net and put together some of my favourite pieces!

Taste of London Food Festival. June 20 2013. 

Ready. Steady. Go. Glastonbury.

With the Festival season fast approaching I thought I would create a festival fashion mood board.

If money really were no option and it did grow on trees then I would probably try my best at purchasing one of the following dresses I have chosen to blog about.A lover of anything delicate, feminine and unique I have stumbled my way upon these weddingdresses over the last couple of months of trawling Pinterest and the Internet at large- key words have become my nemesis- especially “beach. wedding. dress” which merely brings up an array of scantily clad Filipino women wearing less than I would on a very hot summer’s day.

It’s not been an easy task trying to find a wedding dress suitable for the hot humidity I have chosen to endure in 10 months time! I also have to admit that I have not actually taken myself along to try anything on yet … for the most part- because I want to lose weight before trying anything on. I want to go along and shimmy into something gorgeous and feel light and ethereal and hopefully make my mother cry stunned by her daughters beauty and not (and this is how I currently see any session going), squeeze into something half done up, with arm fat hanging over the sides, sudden back cleavage, quivering lip and a sweaty brow from the whole uncomfortable strain. Then to have my mother say “oh darling, well…it could / would/ will be beautiful, once you’ve lost that stone you keep talking about”. Thus, I am tied to Internet dreaming for the moment, until I have whipped my ass in shape, walked that 5 minute (total pain at the moment) stroll to Virgin Active and lost”that stone”.

Also, - and this blog seems to be turning in to more of a rant now than my initial thought - why does every dress seem to have 3 noughts on the end? Since when did chiffon suddenly become worth thousands of pounds…? I thought that I might be clever and find a “delicate white embellished maxi dress” - detouring the price of the “wedding dress” title but, no, it seems every white maxi around that is even seeminglywearable or wedding”y” starts with “I’m worth more than you will be able to touch”. My final rant - since when did renting a dress for a week (another way around potentially wearing that perfect dress with the price tag only Beyonce should smile at) cost more than renting a super car for the same duration?

Rant over, here are the current dresses on my wish list:

Firstly, the uber talented Australian designer Amanda Garrett’s “Snowflake” dress. Sleek, timeless, whimsical and oozing feminine glamour mixed with a hint of Gatsby’s vintage, this dress really is my dream. A low back, small capped sleeves and smothered in intricate beading, you can’t really be too angry that this dress does come with a price tag of $4,700 AUD / (about £2854 GBP).

If you are UK based you can in fact purchase this dress from the magnificent Luella’s Boudoir, in Wimbledon Village (which I will make reference to later in this blog).

The second designer I have become a huge fan of is “Grace Loves Lace”, an Australian brand based solely in, you’ve guessed it, Australia! A collection of stunning hand made, bohemian- esque romantic dresses boasting an air of vintage antiquity, all at a more affordable, realistic price. Having Tweeted them to find out if they had any British stockists they informed me that even their Australian customers have to buy online. This’s my biggest fear with them, as even though I could quite happily purchase about 5 of their stunning designs, my worry would be receiving a beautiful dress that a) didn’t suit me b) didn’t fit me properly - as my curves are VERY different to the models online! c) couldn’t be returned!!! This probably should have been letter A) on my list. You have to give them your height, dress size and for some dresses, waist and hips- so the dress is hand made especially for you in mind, which makes sense that it can’t be returned but is a huge risk. They ship all over the world and have some wonderful testimonials from brides everywhere- interestingly, most having beach weddings like me! If only I could find something like this in the UK where I could try the dress on! The dress I have selected to show you is the Loren dress, retailing at $1050 - $1200 AUD (£638- £729 GBP).

The final designer that I couldn’t not blog about is Anna Campbell. I came across her dresses on Luella’s Boudoir website. A stunning looking boutique based in the heart of Wimbledon Village offering a mesmerising and unique looking collection of wedding dresses (and other bridal necessities). I have this on the top of my list to visit as soon as I feel I am on the way to my ideal beach wedding body!

Another Australian designer (clearly they seem to tick all my beach bride boxes), Anna Campbell’s dresses are flauntingly feminine and just so unique. The attention to detail is exquisite, as are the shapes and blend of materials used. For me I am looking for something feminine and light with a beautiful back and detail. Anna Campbell succeeds in all my wedding dress dreams. However, her prices are from $2999 - $6999 AUD (£1822 - 4254 GBP), a few reels of lace out of my price budget, but one can always admire, dream and imagine.

Below you will find a mixture of my favourite designs from Anna’s collection.

If Mr National Lottery / Santa Klaus should be reading this blog, I really have been a terribly good girl (so far) this year and promise to do any of these dresses the justice they deserve.

Is any one else in the midst of planning a beach wedding abroad and struggling on what to wear? or any one who may have already been through it? Any advice on dresses especially would be hugely appreciated!

Emi x

Beach Hairstyles for my 2014 beach wedding!

Beach wedding dress inspiration!

Welcoming 2013 with three delicious dishes!

Only three days back in to the commuter barging, 9 - 5 rat race my body is well and truly pooped and definitely ready for another holiday and more feasting. However, no matter how much I long for the wood burning stove, the fresh country air and the peace and tranquillity of “no work” I am back in it now until our next trip (which we are planning already!).

So, after a long lie in on Saturday morning followed by a hearty bowl of porridge we set to a long day of “spring cleaning”, baking and making!

The first thing on my list that I have been wanting to do for ages was a batch of cheddar and spring onion scones. A great starter or accompaniment for any soup and the great thing about them is that there are only 3 MAIN ingredients and you can add whatever you want to them!

I was particularly excited to trial these as I got to try out my gorgeous new Christmas present, a Kenwood Patissier .

To create these scrumptious scones you don’t necessarily need a Stand Mixer and can of course do it all by hand, but if you do have one, it saves all the heavy mixing and extra kneading you will have to do.

What you will need:

350g Self-raising flour, sifted

1 1/2 tsps baking powder

Pinch of salt

75g butter, at room temperature

2 Spring Onions, finely chopped

200g Strong mature cheddar cheese

1 egg

150ml milk

Makes about 12-14 scones

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes (about)

To make:

  • Preheat the oven to 200degrees / Gas mark 7. Place the flour, baking powder, salt and butter in the bowl. If you have a Stand Mixer, fit the dough hook and knead on Speed 1 for about 1 -1.5 mins until well combined. If you don’t have a Stand Mixer then with a wooden spoon keep mixing the mixture until fully combined for about 3-5 minutes.

  • Add the remaining ingredients and continue to knead on Speed 1 for 1 minute, until well combined and forms a soft dough.

  • Without the mixture, add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.

  • Turn the mixture out on to a floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out with a rolling pin to 1 cm thick. Using a cutter (entirely up to you on size, I used a 6cm round cutter), cut out 12-14 circles. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet well spaced apart and bake for 10-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Serve warm with butter / chutney’s/ hummus… what every your tummy desires.

So having washed up my rather messy kitchen, I set to my second task, Cherry Cream and Chocolate Mousse, a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall special in his new recipe book Three Good Things. Now, I think you will all know by now that I adore chocolate and this recipe does not fail to impress ticking all the boxes with it’s sweet, velvety texture mixed with the sweet succulence of the cherries and light fluffiness of the whipped cream. Are you ready for it?

Here goes!

What you will need to serve 4:

500g ripe cherries, halved and stoned

25g caster sugar

For the chocolate mousse:

150g dark chocolate, broken into small cubes ( I used 1/2 bar 74% chocolate and 1 bar swiss plain orange chocolate with almond pieces)

3 large eggs, separated

20 g caster sugar

To finish:

200 ml double cream

To make:

  • Put the cherries into a pan with the sugar. Cook over a very gentle heat, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the cherries are starting to soften and release some of their deep red juices. Set aside to cool.

  • To make the mousse, put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Leave to melt, stirring once or twice. Set aside to cool a little, then stir in the egg yolks.

  • In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the sugar for a few minutes, until they form a soft meringue. Fold this into the chocolate mixture. Spoon into glasses and chill for an hour or so.

  • Lightly whip the cream until it just holds soft peaks. Put a dollop of cream on each mousse, add the cherries and serve.

SWAPS: Instead of poached cherries, use fresh strawberries- hulled, thickly sliced and briefly tossed in a little caster sugar. Or raspberries, again with a sprinkling of caster sugar, and very lightly crushed until the juices run.

Finally for our Saturday night supper to go with the scones, I made a Chilli chorizo and mixed bean soup. A perfect winter warmer, and it’s a cheap one too!

What you need: (to make for 4)

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

1 clove of crushed garlic

200g chorizo, diced

1 red chilli, finely chopped and de-seeded

1 can of chopped tomatoes

1 can of mixed beans in water

1 cube chicken stock

2 pints water

To make:

  • Sweat off the onion, chilli, pepper, garlic and chorizo until soft
  • Add the mixed beans (drained) and cook for a further two minutes
  • Add the dissolved chicken stock (added to the 2 pints of water)and the tin of tomatoes. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes, or longer, if you can wait!

A delicious home-made feast for a quiet Saturday night in, eating and watching a film, bliss!

A Christmas Cabin in the woods!

Christmas is 100% my favourite time of year. Getting together with friends and toasting the night away with home made mince pies and mulled wine, snuggling up in front of a roaring fire watching Elf, Christmas parties and then, of course, the stories from Christmas parties! Eating, drinking and thinking up thoughtful gifts for loved ones and generally being Merry! I couldn’t think of a better time of year!

This year instead of staying with my parents in the countryside, we booked this beautiful little converted stable block in the heart of Wales, Glentrothy Old Stables. Still only a stones throw from my family, we decided to set up camp here for a week of total recuperation! No Internet, no phone signal and most importantly, no noise! I do love London - most of the time- but being a country girl at heart and growing up in ‘the middle of nowhere’ I like nothing more than the sound of absolute silence.

So heavily present laden - a car full to bursting point- and one very unhappy kitten later we arrived at what I can only describe as a Christmas cabin in the woods, minus the snow of course! The wood burner crackling away, we plonked Tilly down and allowed her to explore her new abode for the week as we set to ‘hiding’ each others presents around the cottage- some more tactfully than others! Finally, some what exhausted from the long journey and not forgetting, month of pre - Christmas- celebrations, we eventually flopped down on the forgiving sofa, steaming mulled wine in hand and relaxed… . !

Off the beaten track, Glentrothy Old Stables is a one bedroom converted stable block on the Glentrothy estate in Llanvetherine- a 10 minute drive out of the market town Abergavenny. Surrounded by the Welsh rolling hills and the picturesque backdrop of the Skirrid and Sugarloaf mountains, the area allows you total escapism.

The property itself is down an impressively long drive through immaculately kept parkland and woodland, over beautiful cast iron bridges and cattle grids; you are literally swept through to your very own piece of Heaven.

On arrival you are greeted by silence and seclusion with just the babbling brook for immediate company. Entering the stable door you are hit with the smell of home, warm and inviting. The interior is as stunning as it’s exterior, ample room for 2 + our little cat, a wood burning stove complete with your very own wood shed just outside, two inviting and forgiving sofas which you just sink into - a real must if you are going to relax, games and idyllic homestyle magazines, to make you even more certain that this is the ideal homestyle! The bedroom is built fit for a king with solid wood flooring, a huge Kingsize cast iron bed, heavy silk curtains and beautiful lamps and other interior features dotted tastefully around. The kitchen is country cottage chic, with fun caricature of old hunters and aristocracy gracing the kitchen back wall, again, every appliance is there for all your cooking needs and more. The owners of Glentrothy have put so much effort in to this property and it really does feel as you walk through the door that you are walking in to somebody’s home rather than a self catering cottage.

Pre-Christmas food and stocking present shopping in Monmouth.

Christmas day was magical, we woke up to a fluffy snoring kitten and two large sacks at the end of the bed- Santa had been! After some homemade cranberry, blueberry and cinnamon tea and a lot of excitement we sat and opened our stockings, Tilly clambering over everything and chasing every rustle!

After smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and creme fraiche topped with chives on toasted crumpets we headed over to my parents house for Christmas lunch and, you’ve guessed it, more presents! I love buying people presents and start buying months before Christmas, which usually means by the time the day comes everyone has a sack full!

Home-made Eton Mess

And then it was home again for kitten cuddles and Scrabble…

And maybe some more eating… it is the month to be guilty after all!

The last part of our amazing week away was at my boyfriends parents in Devon. New Year was spent in their gorgeous thatched pub on Dartmoor; letting off party poppers, eating far too many cocktail sausages and drinking champagne, toasting in the New Year and making too many resolutions.

A perfect Christmas.

To see the beautiful Glentrothy for yourself and experience the sheer peace and seclusion, visit: http://www.cottage-holiday-wales.co.uk/

"Chocohola" Truffles, Pure Decadence!

For those, like me who are obsessed with anything chocolate related, especially when rich and decadent and covered in more chocolate or nuts….will appreciate this one.

I actually recently made these for the first time and they were so successful that I have decided to share with you lot!

The batch I made made up about 50 chocolates in total! I literally couldn’t believe how far the mixture went, it just kept going!

I personally made them for the guys I work with as a little Christmas treat and they seemed to go down really well, which was pleasing. I packaged them up (about 8 truffles each) in a box, that I decorated with my own home-made paper with a tag noting their name and what truffles they could choose. I had so much mixture left over I used some for a dinner party I had with a great food and restaurant blogger friend of mine!


280g good-quality dark chocolate , 70% cocoa solids

284ml pot double cream

50g unsalted butter

The Making Process:

  • Chop the chocolate and tip into a large bowl. For mine, I used 2 100g bars of 70% orange chocolate and 80g of 80% chocolate.
  • Put the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts and the cream has started to simmer. Do NOT stop stirring as the cream can stick and burn really easily.

  • As soon as it’s really begun simmering, remove from the heatand pour over the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and creamtogether until you have a smooth mixture of chocolaty velvet!
  • Add any flavourings to the truffle mix at this stage - I added a tsp of Vanilla essence. But you could also try bourbon, Grand Marnier, coconut rum or the zest and juice of an orange), or just leave plain.

  • Leave in the bowl to cool and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hrs.
  • To shape the truffles, dip a melon baller in hot water and scoop up balls of the mixture- or you could also use spoon measures or just a plain old tsp (so long as the mixture is malleable enough!
  • Roll the truffles into a ball - can be VERY messy!!! - then drop the truffles onto greaseproof paper. Apparently a good tip is to - lightly coat your hands in flavourless oil (such as sunflower) and roll the truffles between your palms. I however just totally went for it and was head to toe of quickly melting chocolate.
  • Now the fun part: Cover your truffles immediately after shaping. Tip toppings into a bowl and gently roll the truffles until evenly coated, then chill on greaseproof paper.
  • Try: crushed, shelled pistachio nuts; lightly toasted desiccated coconut; chopped up flake, or shave some white chocolate, or roll in cocoa powder, or just stick a plain old whole almond on top of the truffle.
  • To coat in chocolate, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Melt 100g milk, dark or white chocolate for 10 truffles. Allow chocolate to cool slightly. With a fork, pick up one truffle at a time and hold over the bowl of melted chocolate. Spoon the chocolate over the truffle until well-coated. Place on the baking tray, then chill.
  • Serving is totally up to you. For me I placed 8-10 truffles in a grease proof lined card box, tied with ribbon and a label, noting especially that “THIS ITEM CONTAINS NUTS”!!You could also put them all in individual foil or paper cases inside small, lined boxes tied with ribbon. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to give them as they melt VERY quickly!

I took this recipe off the BBC Good Food Guide but have heavily adapted it to my own personal experience.

Death by Chocolaty overdose!

Probably not the best thing to kick the New Year 2013 crash diets off with but maybe something to keep in mind for later in the month, when we’re all Cabbage soup and Dukan’d out!

Not for the faint hearted but a jolly impressive one all the same. This “Double-Decker Mud Cake” has everything going for it, it’s big and chocolaty and when you cut into it it looks great! 3 thick separate sponge layers glued together by a chocolate “caramel-ly” type sauce. This is decadence personified!

You can, even being the most loyal of chocolate lovers- only have a slither of this moist, rich and seemingly never- ending chocolate cake.

I made this one up as a gift for a dinner party and since then have become renowned for it, it really is a show stopper!

So if you want to try a piece of heaven in a slice, follow this recipe! I added raspberries, a dusting of icing sugar and thick white chocolate shavings to the top of mine (I was clearly trying tounsuccessfullymake it look healthy!).

For other topping ideas why not try: pecan nuts, white chocolate drizzle, strawberries - or anything berry related for that matter, desecated coconut or just a simple chopped up flake.

The Recipe:

Preparation time: 30 minutes (including standing and cooling time!)

Cooking time: 1 hr

Serves: An Army (about 12 hungry people)

What you need:

250g butter, chopped

150g white eating chocolate, chopped coarsely

2 cups (440g) caster sugar

1 cup (250ml) milk

1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour

1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

600g milk chocolate, chopped coarsely (You could also be adventurous and used flavoured choc- Orange chocolate works REALLY well)

1 cup (250ml) double cream

What you do:

  • Preheat oven to 150degree / 130degree Fan assisted. Grease two deep 20cm round cake tins OR line bases and sides with baking parchment
  • Stir butter, white chocolate, sugar and milk in medium saucepan over a low eat until smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl, then cool for 15 mins
  • Whisk sifted flours into white chocolate mixture then whisk in extract and eggs; pour half of the mixture into one of the tins. Whisk sifted cocoa into remaining mixture, pour into other tin
  • Bake cakes about 50 minutes. Stand cakes in tins 5 minutes; turn, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool
  • Stir milk chocolate and cream in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Cover; refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is spreadable. Reserve 1 cup of the chocolate mixture
  • Split each cooled cake in half. Centre one later of cake on serving plate; spread with 1/2 cup of the remaining milk chocolate mixture. Repeat layering, alternating colours. Cover top and sides of cake with reserved chocolate mixture

Et Voila!

If you try it, let me know how you get on and anything you might do differently!

Emi x