A festive bat

Meet my very festive bat. He flew in from Elphicks on Columbia Road. He decided mid-November to hang around this spot in my living room. I don't think he'll be leaving any time soon. IMG_1615

I took a break from blogging during the second half of 2012 to focus on other things. But I've really missed it. So here I am. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of snow to put your priorities in order.

I can't wait to see where 2013 takes me.

x

Around the house: a badger, a Biba girl & two owls

I thought it was time I shared a few images from around the flat. I've posted a few bits on Instagram so if you follow me there, you'll have seen a few bits and pieces. Unbelievably, it's a whole year since we moved in. I still feel like I'm settling in, rearranging and finding spots for things which don't have obvious homes.

The mantel. Apparently one money-box just wasn't enough. The badger was a gift and is from the Quail range at Liberty. The owl (Hedwig) I fell in love with when I spied him at Caravan Style a couple of years ago. He just had to come home with me. They both live on the mantelpiece. Both are sadly closer to empty than full. The teacup trios were gifts, the left is by Susie Cooper (I wrote about it here) and the right is a vintage set by Collingwood (c.1924-1930). The couple dancing print is from the brilliant 20 X 200 site.

The bookshelf. Another little wise owl. This guy was £1 from a charity shop. He lives with a very weather-beaten yellow submarine, complete with fab four aboard. The Beatles toy was the Mr's when he was a child. Our bookshelves are overflowing but there's still space for these guys.

All the little ukuleles lined up.

The sofa (and the ukes). The Mr's collection all lined up watching telly on the sofa. Left to right: A charango, a Mele soprano ukulele, a banjolele, my SpongeBob ukulele, and a Lehua ukulele all together, just hanging out. And before you ask, no I can't play any of them. The sofa, or couch as us New Zealanders tend to call them, was donated by the Mr's uncle when we were trying to fill the unfurnished flat. It's covered with Charles Eames fabric apparently. Love.

Liberty print cushion

And here's a Liberty print cushion I ran up on the sewing machine. I'm halfway through making another one in green.

Framed biba poster

The bedroom. This is an unsigned original Biba poster photographed by James Wedge. I really wanted to have it on display as I just love her. You can't really see from my photo but the Gold Biba logo is printed in the top left hand corner. These posters were never used or sold by Biba as they were produced in 1974 just before the company folded. There are a few floating around online if you look for them. She's lying on the most rich and opulent cushions. She doesn't really match the wallpaper, which I'm not really keen on but in a rented flat what can you do? If those legs and butt aren't motivation to get up and go for a run in the morning I don't know what is.

I love looking at pictures of other people homes on blogs so thought it was only fair that I shared some of mine. Stay tuned for part two (once I've had a tidy-up).

Bits & pieces 4: Chanel, beetroot and a vintage slip..

Gee whiz it's been busy lately. Some days it seems I barely have time to breathe let alone write a coherent sentence (and I write for a living). I've decided that a few treats are the only way to get by. I'm making this month brighter with:

1. New make up, and Chanel's new spring nail colour called 'April'.

2. Actually finding the time and will to paint my nails.

3. Beetroot for dinner. The bright pink vegetable that truly is the sweetest of them all. Roasted, boiled, raw, grated or baked in a chocolate cake: I adore it all. Especially when the mister cooks it for me and when it's in all shades of gold and pink.

4. A green vintage slip I bought on a day trip to Brighton recently. It's currently soaking in a bucket in my bathtub. A few minor amends and it will be as good as new in no time.

5. Breakfast. I've been making an effort to actually eat breakfast at home before work these days. This is apple, pecans, soy yoghurt and oats. Deliciousness in a bowl.

How do you cope when you are too busy to think? What little things do you do to cheer yourself up?

All photos by me.

How my garden grows

Remember that ridiculously cold Saturday a few weeks back, just before the snow came? For some unknown reason, I decided to venture into my garden to see how it was coping in the cold, to pick some kale, and to see if I could spy the first few flakes falling.

The kale I grew from seed is going strong, and is one of the few things that has survived the cold. All good kale recipe suggestions are welcomed. My cauliflowers are still doing okay too, but have some way to go before they'll be dinner.

Big Ginger here was watching me. Just chilling in a hidden pot. Too shy to come over for a pat, but happy to pose for a photo. I hope he found somewhere warm to hide before the snow came.

This is a forgotten frozen beetroot. Planted last summer, it never made it to the salad bowl as it grew too slowly. Poor old beet.

I'm looking forward to rediscovering my green thumbs from underneath my mittens. I'm planning on planting beans, more beets and loads more. I'm also making it my mission to fill the dozens of empty pots that came with the garden. It's the first time I've lived in a flat with a proper garden since moving to London, and I'm so looking forward to transforming what was a completely Blackberry strangled jungle to my own green sanctuary.

Note: if you're wondering why the colours in this post are so whack, it was that weird light before snow came, and I've been playing around with Lightroom for a bit of fun.

Snowflakes in my hair.

I love snow in the way only someone born in a sunny and humid climate can. I spent most of Saturday looking out the window anxiously, in the manner of a host waiting for an expected guest to arrive for a dinner party.

{I took this from my kitchen window on Saturday night - that's how excited I was. You get the idea.}

Don't get me wrong, I'm really not keen on the cold months. But if there is fluffy, or even sludgy, white stuff on the ground, the cold endless grey of London's Winter doesn't seem quite so bad.

Hello Mr Snowman.

There's the Mr at London Fields, clearly not dressed for the cold. No hat, no  gloves, and slip sliding around in his desert boots. I'm just as bad with the shoes, each year when it snows I have a total footwear dilemma.

It has been a very mild Winter so far, and I had convinced myself it would be Spring in no time. Judging by the weather forecast, I think it may be time to fork out for some Hunters...

There really is nothing better on a snowy day than a brisk walk, a trip to the pub with friends, and a snowball fight.

x C

Sunday bake off: When I made a vegan wedding cake...

I will never understand people who say they don't really like cake. I mean, really? What is not to like about gooey, sticky, double-chocolate fudge cake? Or light-as-air sponge cake dripping with passion fruit icing, layered with jam and cream?

But then again, maybe it's just me. Cake. I love cake. I think I like baking cakes even more than I like eating them. Now that the other half and I live on our own I have more space to bake. Away from the busy kitchen of my previous flat, filled with gin-drinking and wine-drinking, chatting, fabulous girls. Cakes are being baked far more frequently. I have space for several types of flour. And sugars. My Kitchenaid mixer is not packed away in its box and now has a permanent spot on the bench. Baking is good for the soul (if not so good for the hips).

It's not even the taste that does it for me (don't get me wrong I'll always have at least one slice) - it's the visual feast of cakes that I enjoy the most. Icing, berries, cream, little people toppers, mini bunting and then flowers on top. And cake plates and cake stands (which I don't love as much as my sister but I still have more than I need). Then there's cake forks and cake tins... I won't go on. You see, I just really like cakes.

My old friends Louise and Dan got hitched at the end of last year in a lovely low key ceremony at Islington Town Hall. Guess who had volunteered to bake the wedding cake? Yip, me. (I took care of hair flowers and button holes too but that's for another day).

I didn't want a structured, iced to strict perfection wedding cakes like these. No, I like cakes to look baked, and although it sounds cheesey, that they have been baked with love. Not carved from polystyrene.

It was a very busy week and I hadn't had enough time for a trial run. To make matters more complicated, several of the guests (and my best buddies) are vegan. So no cream, eggs or butter could be included. I've made quite a few vegan cakes before, but I wanted something special. Then I was told about this recipe for Raspberry Blackout cake. I adapted it slightly and baked it in two different circular cake tins so I could create tiers. The final touch was just lashings of vanilla icing and fresh raspberries.

That's me above putting on the finishing touches at their house after transporting it in pieces by taxi. Topped off with baby bunting I made earlier. And I'm pretty pleased to say not even crumb was left the next day.

Image 1: Sweet Dee Design on Etsy Image 2 & 4 by Luke Image 3, iPhone pic by me.

Oh hello there Winter...

...I was hoping you'd passed us by. Like everyone else in the UK, I'd been lulled into a false sense of security that Spring was on its way and that I'd be lolling in the garden sipping gin in no time. Sadly, I've had to dig out the mittens and wool tights again to keep away Jack Frost. Despite the chill, I've been keeping myself motived to walk the four miles to work in the morning by trying out my new Christmas camera on the way, snapping whatever catches my eye and hopefully walking off the winter waistline in the process.

Everyday I walk past Violet cakes with a heavy heart, knowing that I can't just pop in for coffee and a slice of ginger and molasses cake (truly the best cake I have ever eaten and yes I would have it for breakfast). But how cosy does the little cafe look in this pic? Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

This yellow beauty caught my eye as the ticket inspector checked its frosty windscreen. It's such a daffodil yellow, and looks so cheerful (even with a thick layer of ice covering it).

I'm trying to take a couple of pics each morning, as I don't have much time to spare (no time for dawdling otherwise I, a. get cold and b. am late to work). I'll try and share them on here. I really appreciate the morning walk - it's better than sitting on a crowded bus, surrounded by commuters, with coughs and runny noses, talking loudly on their mobile phones.

Fingers crossed I'll get to take some snowy pics before this cold snap passes!

xxx C

Bits & pieces 2: January blues

A few things that are helping me chase away the January blues:

1. Eating cake and buying ribbons at the lovely Ray Stitch on Essex Road. I really need to find a permanent home for my sewing machine.

2. Reading about the gorgeous Alexa, while in bed with a cold.

3. Listening to this guy, after seeing him play a smashing show at the Hackney Empire last Wednesday. (Sorry about the rubbish iPhone pic - it was dark).

4. This is Mr Ukulele's bike. I'm spending my days looking at lady bike's on eBay, and hoping the perfect one will crop up just for me. It's time I replaced my old one.

5. Eating fancy mushrooms from Sporeboys at Broadway market. Reading and making yummy stews and soups my Christmas present cookbooks, this and this.

6. Loving our new old writing bureau. It was old and scummy when we bought it from a nearby charity shop. It looks much better with several licks of paint. It's nice to have another place to sit as sometimes we're fighting for desk space. And it doubles as drawers in the bedroom, which we had been annoyingly living without.

7. And which also doubles a sort-of dressing table for my pretty things. I'll share a before and after of the bureau on here soon.

8. Dreaming of drinking Blood Orange Gin Sparklers in my garden, when Spring has sprung.

9. Being addicted to Instagram. Completely, utterly addicted actually. You can find me by looking for @theteapotexplodes.

10. And finally planning a city break to Paris in March. The Eurostar is super cheap this month and it's a couple of years (far far too long) since I last went to the city of Serge Gainsbourg and Chanel. This was a tea party my sister and I had at the apartment we stayed in on my last visit. I've been looking up new places to go, away from the usual tourist trappings - any suggestions?

xxx

Pics all by me, except 4. by Luke and 8. from 101 Cookbooks.

It's been a while...

Sometimes life just gets in the way of, well, all the good stuff. That and perhaps moving flats and starting a new job in the same week wasn't such a bright idea. Without any time off work. Argh. Aside from that, it's only taken nearly two months since moving in to get the internets sorted as the previous sods who lived here didn't pay their bills. But nothing to whinge about, our new flat rules so I thought I'd share a few pics now we've rediscovered all our stuff that has been hiding in boxes...

There have been moments where I've felt like I'm drowning in a sea of forms over the last few months but hopefully, it'll all be worth it. And as for the new job, it's pretty good, incredibly busy and the people are great. That and apparently I'm a much nicer person now I don't commute and get up at stupid-o'clock everyday. It's amazing what an extra couple of hours of sleep does for your relationship/complexion/disposition.  How do you cope with moving/changing jobs and times of endless chaos?