A Little Chocolate Fabulousness....

warm chocolate pudding with caramel sauce

chocolate mille crepe cake

salted caramel six layer cake

two ingredient chocolate mousse via here

milk chocolate souffle with nougat whip via here

chocolate souffle with dulce de leche


salted caramel chocolate fudge cake

thin mint brownies

hot chocolate on a stick

chocolate truffles 

chocolate peanut butter fondant

cookies n cream Oreo fudge brownies

All images via Pinterest....links given where found.  

Some days are just chocolate days....

Autumn appears to have arrived this week....
wind, rain & winter boots
layers and scarves...even a hat one day
happy days!

This week-end feels like a time for pies, soups and crusty bread.
snuggling up with a book
blankets & warm socks
comfort & joy

I love summer but I think I might love autumn just a tiny bit more.

I cannot thank you all enough for the amazing & very lovely response to my post on Wednesday,
I don't always write so personally but I needed to share & thank goodness I did.

You were so kind with your comments & emails 
please know that I truly appreciate every word you said - 
I could absolutely tell that every word was heartfelt.

Thank you.

Have a lovely week-end.


Lend Me Your Ear....

where to start?

well, possibly by saying the last few weeks have been bursting at the seams with "stuff"
life, children, surprises, good news, bad news, change, fun, drama, family....
stuff followed by more stuff

i am writing it down in an attempt to organise my mind :)

some horrible things happened. 
to make it worse these things were within my family.
trust was broken. respect destroyed. words said that shouldn't have been said.
accusations & lies. things that i would never put up with from a friend.
irreparable damage.
the kind of situations/events/conversations that you run & re-run at 2am when you wake up thinking about them.

i was surprised. i was hurt. i was sad.
but i was also furious. 
i have way more respect for myself than to ever let myself be treated in that way.

i have distanced myself from the people involved & the situation.
i am certainly wiser and i will - very soon - be stronger.
i remain disappointed though.

what have i learnt?

that i have really amazing girlfriends who don't judge, roll their eyes or back off.
instead they nod their heads, listen & know exactly the right things to say.

that sometimes people just don't want to hear what you have to say. 
even when you (& they) know that you are right.

that sometimes you can talk until you are blue in the face, say the same thing a million different ways - but if someone doesn't want to hear you, then your words fall on deaf ears.

that friends are absolutely the people you choose to have in your life.

that some people do not deserve to be part of your life. even if they are family.

that sometimes the people who treat you the worst are your family.

that bad/mean/selfish/intolerable behaviour is never acceptable and no one deserves to have that in their lives.

that if you wouldn't put up with it from a friend, there is no reason that you need to put up with bad behaviour when it comes from a family member.
people can only behave towards you in the way in which you allow them to behave.

that people don't essentially change and that's okay, you can move on.
leave them where they want to be.

that you can only be responsible for yourself, you are not responsible for others.
their bad behaviour & actions are their fault, not yours.
however much they attempt to blame you. 

that i really hate drama & confrontation!

that sometimes (and with some people) even if you don't get to say the stuff that needs to be said & that you want to say - it's okay.
keep those thoughts in your head, take the high road & hold on really tight to what you know is right. 

that i am very good at packing things/events/actions in a box & putting it to the back of my head - sometimes, it's essential to get it all out, talk it out & leave it right there in the coffee shop.

that sometimes being the "normal" & the "it's-alright-for-you" person in your family is hard work.
it's only "alright for me" because i work hard & live a respectful, considered, considerate life in which thinking of others is essential. not optional.

trust your instincts because generally people do behave in the way you expect them or the way you know they will. 

that actually it's not my job to "fix" you - you're an adult, you fix it.   

 and so i move on. as you have to.

i am still the same person i was before.

i have great clarity about what is right & what is wrong.
wrong is always wrong - there aren't degrees of it.

i believe that when people do bad stuff, deep down somewhere in their hearts they know it and sooner or later, they will admit it to themselves & the regret & remorse will be theirs.
not mine.

there are actually more important things in life & i am a great believer in perspective.

two weeks ago a good friend shared the news that she is fighting breast cancer.
she has four children, two of them the same ages as mine.
she is just two years old than me.
she is brave, strong, determined, inspiring.

my issues of the last month seem like nothing in comparison.
they are nothing in comparison.
her issues are truly life & death stuff.
scary. really scary.

life. it's a real challenge sometimes
thank you for listening.
it's better now.  

Diana Vreeland : The Eye Has To Travel

Last week I attended a special screening of the Diana Vreeland film "The Eye Has To Travel".

The screening was at the invitation of Kellogg's to celebrate the launch of their new Special K Cracker Crisps*.

A socialite and fashionista, Diana Vreeland was the editor of Harper's Bazaar from 1937-1962, editor of Vogue 1962-71 and consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1971 onwards.

Directed by her grandson's wife, the film is beautifully made and visually stunning, her life story is totally fascinating. With contributions from Diane con Furstenberg, Angelica Huston, Manolo Blahnik, Calvin Klein, David Bailey and Veruschka plus her two very handsome sons Frecky & Tim, it is a fascinating, revealing and very honest insight into what can only be described as her quite extraordinary life and her legacy to the fashion world.

She remains, arguably, the most influential and inspirational fashion editor there has ever been, changing the face of fashion and publishing forever.

As well as plenty of anecdotes from those who knew her, there are many quotes taken from interviews on tapes with Diana herself. Her descriptions of Paris, London and New York throughout the early twentieth century in particular are riveting, it's a fabulous look at the history of those times.

I was absolutely spellbound - the second it finished, I wanted to shout "rewind" and watch the whole thing all over again!!

Please go and see it, it truly is a feast for the eyes....

    * Special K Cracker Crisps are a new savoury snack from Kellogg's, just 95 calories - available in individual packets or a box ideal for sharing. 
Three great flavours - sea salt & balsamic vinegar, sweet chilli and sour cream & chive.
Now available in all major supermarkets.

I can honestly say that these were very tasty indeed - and I don't eat lots of crisps. 
The fact that they are baked gives them a lovely non-greasy flavour, we thoroughly enjoyed them :)

The Cake & Bake Show 2012

Last week I attended the blogger launch of The Cake & Bake Show at London's Earl's Court.....
"the first live show dedicated to the world of cakes, breads and the art of baking".

Like it wasn't enough that - to my great excitement (having voted her my no.1 place in London for cupcakes)  - the launch took place at Peggy Porschen's Cake Academy....we also got to meet and watch as they each made the most fantastic creations, Peggy Porschen, Edd Kimber, Paul A. Young and Natasha Collins.

It was an intimate evening and all four of the above were without exception super-talented, interesting, fun and very generous with their time & with sharing their knowledge & experience.....

Peggy made the most beautiful rose decorated cupcakes, with Edd we all got to make passion fruit and chocolate macarons, with the amazing & super-enthusiastic Paul we made the best truffles I have honestly cross-my-heart ever had and with Natasha we painted "corgi" biscuits.

Having somehow missed the first two series of "The Great British Bake Off", my family & I are glued to the current series....Edd was the winner of the first series two years ago, has just launched his second book and will be appearing at & demonstrating his skills this week-end at The Cake & Bake Show.

All four of the above will be appearing at show, along with many other cooks, bakers & speakers including Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bake Off.

Tickets are selling fast for both days of the show but are still available for Saturday evening 5-9pm if you are interested in attending.

Earl's Court Brompton Hall
Warwick Road
London SW5 9TA
September 22 10am-9pm
September 23 10am-5pm

Edd's Passionfruit & Chocolate Macarons

Edd at work....

Peggy's beautiful rose decorated cupcakes - looking and tasting delicious

Paul "tempering" the chocolate

Messy work but someone had to do it....my chocolate bowl post truffle making!

Hush/London Writers' Club Short Story Competition

One of my favourite British luxury brands hush has teamed up with the London Writers' Club for a Short Story Competition.

They are looking for budding short story writers to create short stories of up to 2,000 words themed around the word "hush" 

The competition is inspired by hush founder & designer Mandy Watkins' passion for books & reading.

Stories should be sent by 31 October within the body of an email to info@londonwritersclub.com
All entries will be judged by a panel of experts and the winner will receive a £500 hush gift voucher, a hush gift set and a year's membership to The London Writers' Club.

The winner's story, along with 11 other finalists, will be published in a book which will be available to buy on the hush website. 
It will also be published online & digitally by Short Fire Press.

The winner and finalists will be announced at the end of November.

Friday Fabulousness....

Elie Saab AW2013

I think this has probably been the fastest week of my career as a "school mother".
It's amazing how different life seems now with my children at different schools for the first time & my daughter just having started secondary school.

While it is undoubtedly my daughter who is the one having the busier day - having moved from a very small school to an enormous one - 
I of course have a million and one questions for her when she arrives homes every evening!
I feel as exhausted with it all as she does!

She's exhilarated & so happy in her new environment...
everything is exciting, there are new subjects, books, people, food, sports, buildings....
she has totally taken it all in her stride, she's getting up earlier, planning her day, organising herself.

I honestly feel as though she's grown up right in front of my eyes in just a week.
She's is obviously being supported at home & at school but the onus is on her to handle it all - and she is, beautifully.
I'm proud of her - of course - but I'm just thrilled (and relieved) to see her so happy & enthusiastic.

I've had a lovely week getting my familiar term-time routine back in place....
catching up with friends and dealing with some work/blog-related plans.

I attended a wonderful blogger launch for The Cake and Bake Show next week-end of which I will share more next week.

I have also been invited to visit Prague in two weeks time....a short visit but one I am extremely excited about!!

The weather is becoming decidedly autumnal & the evenings are darker....
I do love summer but very possibly I love autumn even more :)
I am hanging on to my sandals for another week or so....but secretly can't wait to rescue my winter boots from storage!

Happy Week-end!!

Hello again, hello!

Back from four blissful weeks in France....
relaxed, sun-tanned, rested, well-read, well-fed & full of energy....
it's probably the best I feel all year!!

Our holiday was wonderful....
we stayed in two locations over the month, just minutes apart but each slightly different in character....
one a small town & one more of a holiday location.
We rented apartments - the same two as last year - and both worked out brilliantly.
One small & simple & one much more luxurious & spacious - I love both of them.

Even though we return to the same destination each summer, every year it feels different.
We explored new locations, shops, places to eat and to walk.
My children, one year older, do different things & change each year.

(view from our kitchen window)

Every year my summer book selection occupies more & more of my suitcase & this year was no exception. 
I read non-stop for the first three weeks & read everything that I took with me....
it was blissful :)

My favourite book was "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks....
an enormously moving, evocative and beautifully written book about the First World War. 
The best "war" book I have ever read, this is honestly a book that defines great writing, reading it was an experience. 
There were passages in it that I don't think will ever leave me and
I would recommend it to anyone.

We spend a lot of time on the beach....
& rest of the time we read, walk, explore....just be.

The best part of being there for such a long time is being able to "live" there as opposed to having the feeling of trying to do everything in the space of a week or two weeks.

It's all so familiar to us that it feels as though we adjust within hours of being there....
although I love that there is always something or somewhere new that we discover each year.  

We fall easily into a routine....
some days we explore, take the train somewhere along the coast or walk....
other days, we go to the bakery & then we head for the beach just 2 minutes & stay until the sun sets.

We explored Nice & we revisited Italy and Monaco, all of them were fantastic.

My aim each year is simplicity....

bread & cheese
iced water & ice cream
walking & talking
quiet & relaxation
the beach....playing, swimming, making friends
family time

Perhaps the best thing about our holiday this year was being to totally switch off....
my mind has been particularly busy & distracted this year & I needed to decompress.

I took a new notebook & pencils thinking that I would clear my mind by writing & making a list of plans - as I usually do on holiday, aided by the clarity that being away from home often brings.

What I actually found was that I didn't even open my notebook once & didn't really think about anything relating to life in London.....it was wonderful!!
Very unusual for me, but it worked....
I simply lived in the moment & didn't plan beyond the next day - that itself was totally refreshing and invigorating.

There's really something about the south of France....
and not just the fabulous weather.
Tomorrow I'm going to share some of my favourite places to visit.

For now though, I'm back, my children have returned to school - my daughter to her new school - and I have a full diary for September, some really exciting projects coming up.

And, of course, I'm looking forward to catching up with my blog reading & writing!!

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