Tuesday 29 November 2016


Clockwise from top left: Low Christmas because you listen to it together every year, bottled negroni and a new glass, spruce incense and an indigo quilt, a flock of starlings, the complete Michael Palin, spruce resin ointment and Santa socks, and finally, because he puts it on everything, a tiny bottle of sriracha that he can keep in his pocket.

Friday 25 November 2016


Clockwise from top left: The Future is Female, an incense holder with Japanese incenseperfume oil, House of Plants with a succulent wrapped up alongside, a marble pyramid to hold her jewellery, a book she's been meaning to read, a new pink bowl and a tub of her favourite ice-cream, cream mittens and warm socks, the complete Parks and Recreation because we need more Lesley Knopes in the world, a winter bergamot candle, and, finally, a boob bathmat because it'll make her laugh.

Tuesday 22 November 2016


I made my Christmas cake on Friday and not much has changed since I wrote about it four years ago.

I'm still making Nigel's cake and have been for, I think, 11 years now. I still use the same mix of dried fruit, I still bake it in late November or early December and then soak it regularly, sometimes with calvados, sometimes brandy. I still marzipan it and ice it and, most years, take it to Sussex to be eaten after Turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day.

I'm usually starting to feel ready for Christmas by this time of year but this year I've been feeling it a little more keenly. I've been putting things in jars ready to be presents since the Summer, we booked our flights south in September. I've been flicking through books planning what else to make, particularly Luisa's excellent book and its chapters on cookies and Christmas which have sent me online searching for baker's ammonia and gingerbread spices.

I'm going to be sharing some gift guides, just because I enjoy putting them together, but first, in case you want to make some of your presents donations to charity in the names of your favourite people, how about helping someone else to have a happy Christmas this year through Centrepoint.

Sunday 20 November 2016


When something big happens in the world I struggle with what to do. To carry on as normal feels wrong, not acknowledging something that has shaken us to our core feels false. But what to write when so many write more eloquently and knowledgeably on the subject, when every time I try to talk about it I find I can't arrange my thoughts into anything other than a tumble of sadness and anger and horror at what is happening already, what could happen next.

Over the last week or so I've been thinking about our wedding in New York. Two days before we got married we went to the Marriage Bureau to collect our licence. It was busy that day and we waited in a line to be given a ticket to wait some more. In front of us were two men who I think were from Germany and I started to well up at the beauty of being in a place where anyone could go to get married and everyone there was entitled to the same treatment, the same license, the same ceremony.  I felt that beauty over and over as we waited. We saw couples waiting, like us, for licences and couples waiting for their wedding ceremonies, couples of all orientations, races, nationalities, and ages. There were couples in jeans and couples in full wedding dresses and suits, there were couples on their own taking selfies on an iPad and grinning big grins, and couples with large families in tow. There was an overwhelming feeling of joy and love in the air. That's the America I know and that's the America that I choose to believe will beat this.

I thought this was a fitting way to end this post...

Friday 21 October 2016


It's been on my to do list all Summer. The thing that keeps being ignored in the rush of other things to do. I kept writing bits of posts and then abandoning them so failing a plan for today but wanting to finally break this rut I offer you these glimpses from Summer...

'On Sunday I was taught to meditate by a Scottish buddhist in a Motorhead t-shirt. He had long grey hair, silver skull rings, multiple earrings, and a soothing voice that took us through two meditations, so soothing that I almost dropped off.'

'On Friday I spent the day in the kitchen with the multiple pans and processes required for any Ottolenghi recipe. Taken at a slow pace I like the multiple processes, with time to clean as I go, ending up with a pastitsio ready to go in the oven, layered in a cake tin, it was time well spent. As the sauce cooked I made a strawberry cake, one I've made before, with local strawberries, I bought enough for the cake, and jam, and breakfast.'

And now I'm mostly wearing a pair of dungarees that I debated for six months and have lived in since finally deciding to buy them, making this dish which immediately became a weekly fixture round here, trying to knit, listening to this and watching this over and over, and liking these links: 

This post
This recipe 
These mittens
This book 

And finally for those of us in need of some comfort viewing can I recommend watching any and all of Michael Palin's travel documentaries - particularly this episode of Around the World in 80 Days. I genuinely think there should be a Michael Palin channel and a David Attenborough channel on TV.

Happy Friday x

Friday 8 July 2016


We got back to Edinburgh on Tuesday evening after a holiday that had been much anticipated and was much enjoyed and now we're easing back into being at home with the usual post-holiday routines; going to work, doing endless washing of clothes only worn for those few short sunny weeks each year, cooking, trying to get my fill of the short Scottish berry season.

For me, being back at home also now means Fridays spent at home or, more importantly, Fridays spent away from work.

It's something I first thought of over a year ago and, in my usual way, debated on and off for the months that followed but only felt ready to take the plunge on after our holiday in Copenhagen earlier this year. I've struggled with it in some ways. That full-time work means five days a week, and, that if you can, you work full-time because, well, why wouldn't you, is so ingrained in our idea of what work is. But, the idea of one day a week just for me, for being quiet, or for making, or writing, or cooking, sounded like it would be good for me, something I could do that would be positive rather than feeling like a passive observer of a working life that I wasn't able to muster much enthusiasm for. 

So, here I am, and so far today has included some very important catching up on the last two episodes of Game of Thrones, one of those loads of holiday washing, a little tidying up, writing some emails, baking a cake, and finally writing this, the first thing that actually feels like I'm writing in quite some time, something that I hope will be a feature of more weeks in future.

Tuesday 14 June 2016


A few more hours of work and then it's time for a break. A break booked in January in the dark days and now here. Work has been whittled down, crossing items off the list to a point where I know I won't have to think about anything left undone.

But before then we're off to see Belle & Sebastian in Glasgow tonight. It's 20 years since Tigermilk was released, 19 years since I started listening to them in our kitchen in university halls, 12 years (I think) since I first saw them live. It's always just pure joy to see them, I can't wait.

Friday 29 April 2016


I'm a cereal person. Some of my earliest memories include sitting at the table eating cereal and reading the backs of cereal packets, as a fairly fussy eater I would have happily existed on Coco Pops, my childhood cereal of choice and the cereal my Aunt always made sure she had in the house when we went to stay with her in Chester (and the cereal that sometimes still appears, usually when I'm in need of childish comfort or when I'm at my parents' house and I'm tempted by the cereals that have been bought for my 12 year old nephew). We would dig down into the box looking for plastic wrapped toys, collect coupons to send off for a branded bowl or mug.

I grew up and my cereal choices expanded through a period of bran flakes and sultana bran, into muesli, porridge, and granola (the grown-ups sugary cereal of choice) as they do. But recently I've been thinking that this might not be the best way to start my days. That sleepy bowl of cereal often means I'm hungry again shortly after I get to work, even porridge can leave me with a rumbling stomach by mid-morning.

So, for the last week I've been trying something else (something that also fits my recent realisation that drinking strong coffee first thing in the morning can, at times, send my head off in a slightly unpleasant direction and make my heart beat in a way definitely not recommended). I've been getting up and drinking a very large mug of tea from my favourite tea-drinking mug, having a shower, and then going back to the kitchen to boil two eggs using Molly's method. I make coffee while they boil then sit at the table. I sprinkle salt over the eggs, I eat and I read and, usually, I'm not hungry again until lunchtime.

I bought a Kindle last Autumn. After not understanding the appeal, after saying it wasn't for me. But this isn't the point where I say I'm a total convert, that I haven't picked up a real printed on paper book since. I bought it for those books that I will only ever read once, the books that I don't expect to develop an attachment to, the page turners where the story only really works in its first telling, the books that I bought and that sat on our bookshelves for a few years before, inevitably, they ended up at a charity shop or passed on to other people to enjoy.  And, as it turns out, that is exactly what I have ended up liking it for. It serves a purpose, and I'm sure my occasional late night reading sessions are better tolerated when I'm reading by the Kindle's light instead of the bedside light, but a lot of the time I just miss the paper. I miss flicking back through pages to remind myself what happened, I miss checking to see how much there is left in a chapter while deciding just how long that late night reading session might last, I miss book covers, and, as it turns out, I just can't seem to connect to books in the same way when they're on a screen rather than in my hands.

This morning I finished reading this. Mum passed it on to me when I was staying a few months ago. I started reading it sitting on the grass and eating my lunch, the first day it was nice enough to eat outside. I finished it wearing a flannel shirt, eating eggs and ham, drinking coffee, wondering whether it would snow today or just be cold, wet, miserable. I read it in bed, lying on my side turning the pages, each time realising that it was too late and I needed to go to sleep. I dropped it in my bag to pick up and read a few pages at a time. I read it while I made my coffee with something sitting on top to weigh down the pages when I couldn't hold it open. And as I finished it I cried for those characters and I thought about what comes from a book, whether it's just about the content or whether the act of holding a book in your hands, turning pages, making it your own can do something to you too. I like to think so.

Thursday 18 February 2016


Today is cold but the brightness makes me want to dress for Spring. Fed up with my usual Winter clothes I dug out a coat that I bought when I was 21 on my first trip to Paris, our first visit together. We were there in January on the coldest of days and I remember the light being blue, sitting outside the Sacré-Cœur with a freezing fog over the city, going up the Eiffel Tower at night before finding somewhere to warm up. I came home with my coat from the APC sale and a vintage stripy jumper. I still have both but rarely wear either, I'm not sure why.

Along with thoughts of Spring here are a few things I've been distracting myself with lately. 

This article: 'I don’t want to constantly be working on myself, or powering through tough times with validating, feel-good platitudes. We have bad days; we feel bad about ourselves. That’s OK'.
Crisp cookies 
Cold weather cooking 
Breakfast bites and these seedy squares
This new to me brand
These glittery socks
This house (shot by Brian
And this house which I would quite like to run away to...

Friday 12 February 2016


It's the little things. This morning I popped to a spot near work to get coffee and handed over my loyalty card to be stamped. The guy stamped the 7th spot and then just kept going from 8 - 12 before handing it back and saying my next coffee would be free. A little thing, a good thing.

This weekend there should be more good things as we're trying out a new Turkish place with friends, planning gyros, gelato and a few galleries. I hope you have good things coming your way too, here's my contribution...

Wednesday 10 February 2016


This year started as years can, with a shocking hangover following a night of fun with friends. From there there has been a bout of tonsillitis for me, a couple of unexpectedly late nights (it's nice to know that we can still dance until 3am once in a while), gyros from a new place that made us feel like we were back in Greece and that lead to us heading home to book flights back to Greece for real. We've planned a trip to Copenhagen in the Spring and I've tried a few new recipes, roasted Brussels sprouts with salmon, cauliflower cheese baked potatoes. I went to a sewing class and started a new pottery class.

And now, after too much rain and too many dark days, the sun is shining. It may still be cold but I can take that.

And my hopes for the year? To do some sewing at home, to carry on at pottery producing wonky bowl after wonky bowl, to go to yoga and not worry too much about my lack of flexibility, to bake the occasional loaf of bread, to get outside, to have more breakfasts like this...