Lately I've been...

Spring flowers co-ordinating my outfit with the fallen blossom petals... loving the Welsh Poppies, Nasturtiums and other blooms in my garden. Foxgloves, I love you...

Eating & baking baking spring birthday cakes and decorating them with nasturtiums and violets from the garden...

trying not to eat all the sourdough bread the Mr has been baking...

cooking up a nut roast pie and baking peach tarts for a friend over for dinner...

Sweet violets

picking teeny-tiny violets from the garden...

Ruby grapefruit & berries

trying to make up for all the cake by eating raspberries and grapefruit...

Lately

trying not to steal the neighbours cat...

then eating more cake...

enjoying the spring sunshine...

and spring storms...

Treasures

tidying up my inherited, vintage and new treasures...

As you can see lately has been all about being at home, baking cakes and hanging out in the garden.

All photos from my instagram @theteapotexplodes xx C

Paris: la deuxième partie (part 2)

I love the colours of Paris.

Black smoke. Whenever I look at this photo I get Ladyhawke's song "Paris is burning" running through my brain. This was taken from the top floor of the Musee d'Orsay through the clock tower window. The view is always incredible (even if you need to elbow off the tourists to get anywhere near the front) but on this particular visit it was even more memorable. Great plumes of black smoke-filled the Paris skyline.

This blue door leads to the apartment my sister and I stayed in on my last visit to Paris. That's Mr Ukulele, snapping away as ever, taking far more interesting pics than I do.

Cold skies and grey branches almost about to burst into Spring growth.

And the roses. The glorious roses of Paris. What is it about Parisian florists and the explosion of colour pouring out of their stores that is so spell binding?

Parisians just get colours so right. The pale stone buildings. Red lipstick. Pastel toned macaroons. Pink roses. Creamy cheeses. I've been spying Parisian colours everywhere since we came back from our mini-break.

And have you have seen The Little Paris Kitchen yet? I'm in love with Rachel Khoo's brightly tiled kitchen, red lipstick and pale green enamel cookware. Even if she does cook far too much meat for me (I'm a vegetarian but it doesn't stop me being obsessed with all cooking shows). I highly recommend, totally worth a watch.

Where do you find colourful inspiration? Is it the Spring flowers that are popping up everywhere at the moment or the shade of a favourite lipstick? I'd love to know what colours inspire you.

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.

Bits & pieces 3: All things red

A token Valentines Day post. I don't really dig Valentines Day, I'm far too cynical. For too many years in my teens I watched my big brother struggle in the door laden with roses and cuddly toys from his admirers (bleugh), and my mother working long hours at a florist. Flowers and chocolates are for every day, not just for Valentines Day people! But this year I've decided that instead of going around in a strop, I'm going to treat today as a good excuse to:

1. Wear my favourite red lipstick, Chanel Lune Rousse

2. Drink more than one glass of red from here with the Mr, (we'd probably be doing that anyway)

3. Wear my favourite red velvet dress.

Not too much for the office right?

4. Wear heart print tights and glittery hearts from Giant Dwarf in my hair

5. Make the Mr chocolate brownies, complete with a sprinkling of red edible glitter

6. Listen to Leonard Cohen's new album Old Ideas. And to this brilliant cover of 'So Long Marianne' by Bill Callahan

7. Avoid the television, especially Don't tell the Bride and Take Me Out. My two guilty pleasures

8. Buy myself some new perfume so I can indeed smell like red roses, even if I'm not carrying a great big bunch home

9. Eat big red juicy tomatoes from Broadway Market

10. Give the Mr a little card, because they do say that all us cynics, are secretly romantics at heart.

More denials of romance on Pinterest here.

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