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I've been meaning to make this tart for aaaaaages and now that I've tasted it I can confirm that it was worth the wait... we're talking seriously good eats people. It's perfect for a lunch, or sweet and cheesy starter for the next time you have guests over. It smells as good as it looks too.

You will need:
Olive Oil (and brush)
4 sheets of ready-rolled filo pastry
75g crème fraîche
125ml semi-skimmed milk
15g Italian hard cheese (grated)
3 medium eggs
7g fresh thyme (washed and de-stalked)
125g crumbly goats' cheese
4-6 fresh figs (halved)

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Brush olive oil onto the inside of a loose-bottomed cake tin, then start to line the tin with the filo pastry. Brush each layer of filo pastry with more olive oil before adding the next layer. 

Mix the eggs, crème fraîche, milk, most of the thyme and grated hard Italian cheese together in a bowl. When they are combined stir in the crumbled goats' cheese and season with black pepper. Pour this mixture into the cake-tin you layered with filo pastry.

Cut the figs in halve and lay them in a circle (cut-side up) on top of the mixture. Sprinkle any remaining thyme over the top. Bake the tart in the oven for 45 minutes until golden and set. 

Allow the tart to cool slightly before releasing it from the cake tin. Slice, eat and enjoy with salad.

With thanks to Sainsbury's for the recipe.

Today we made... Fig, thyme and goats' cheese tart

I've been meaning to make this tart for aaaaaages and now that I've tasted it I can confirm that it was worth the wait... we'r...
Wednesday, 30 October 2013
When I'm out I always try to be polite. I smile at people with whom I make eye contact, I thank the staff in bars and restaurants and I take great care to say excuse me as I make my way through a crowded room. It's shame not everyone is so inclined, for this weekend as I was out enjoying birthday festivities with my lovely cousin I came across what I can only describe as a drunken braying ass. Perhaps my opinion wouldn't have been quite so harsh if said ass hadn't commented loudly and repeatedly to his friend as he gesticulated in my direction "Is she wearing pajamas?" 

I can only conclude that this is the universe's way of mocking my own pretentious ass-like tendencies, because honestly, who poses for a photo wearing sunglasses indoors? I don't even have the excuse of being drunk at the time.

Jumpsuit: Anthropologie Coat: Anthropologie Shoes: Zara Sunglasses: By Marc Jacobs Jewelery: Vintage Belt: from a selection at Feather & Stitch.

Pajama Party

Have you seen that midi-length Tibi full skirt? The one that's everywhere at the moment. If you haven't here it is...

Left to right: Leather, Rococo and Simona Jacquard Full Skirts by Tibi.

Awesome isn't it? The red version seems to have sold out everywhere. I love the volume it creates and the way the pleats guide your eye to the smallest point of the waistline. The hemline hits dead-on mid-calf too. This is superb feminine tailoring. I want it!!! In fact I want it so much I've even considered making one myself, I still might. The reason I would go to such lengths is simple, I can't afford the Tibi one. Sob. I know, I know, first world problems... Fortunately however it is easily solved as the great retail gurus have already considered my plight and have produced some really fabulous alternatives. My favourite is the ASOS full midi skirt in squared check print. Check prints are really having a moment and this particular skirt will take you all the way through to spring, plus it will tone beautifully with this season's standout colour, pink.

Another skirt from ASOS that has caught my eye is this one. The leather look waistband is crying out to be paired with slightly sheer black blouse, if you like to show off your midriff a boxy cropped sweater would work well too. One word of caution, when worn with flats this look has the potential to imitate your Granny. Be warned.

I covet Tibi

Tuesday, 29 October 2013
 There's a special talent that runs in my family. My dad has it, I have it and I think my daughter will have it too. It's the ability to take any outfit, no matter how smart, elegant or sophisticated and make it look a little, well, undone. My dad accomplishes this with his unruly hair that will never be tamed unless it has has been cut, that day, by a determined barber. He gardens in new brogue's to my mum's despair and it is a rare thing for anything, regardless of age or state of repair to end up in the bin. Perhaps it is this attitude to clothes that has led to me having such an extensive and eclectic wardrobe. 

Take for example this leather trench I bought from Topshop about oooh, forever ago. It has buttons missing, it's got that rained on leather smell and honestly I think Columbo may have coveted it if he'd seen it in a shop. That's what I like about it though, the dishevelled wrongness when paired with a deliberate reserved ladylike look appeals to my non-conformist, the part of me that smiles when I see a toddler wearing fairy wings for a trip to the supermarket. It confirms what I've long believed to be true, that it's ok to be different, it's ok to have fugly stuff in your wardrobe as long as it means something to you and if that's a bit wrong well I'm ok with that.

Coat: Topshop (similar here) Blouse: Maison Scotch (here and on sale here) Trousers: Whistles (also love these) Shoes: Born Watch: Michael Kors Bag: Vintage (similar here) Belt: Accessorize Bangle: Stella & Dot 

Just one more thing...

Monday, 28 October 2013
Just as we've settled into a routine BOOM! In your face!! Yeah, I'm a half-term holiday and I'm coming to your house. Fear me... Well I say back in your box half-term chaos. Don't even think about getting rowdy, I am prepared for you.

First off, a nifty bit of shoe shopping (for the kids, of course). Followed by some fast food action and a movie. Who's your Mummy? Yeah, me and I ROCK!!!! This is usually where it starts to go wrong, the last time I went to the cinema solo with Bella and Bear, Bear pooped in his trousers mid-film. Sadly I was experiencing a parenting fail that day and had no change of clothes for him, so we did naked cinema. Yep, that happened. So, like I said I am prepared this time... they are spending the week with their Dad. Overseas. On his request. I'll miss them.

Before I found out about my get out of jail free card I had started to compile a list of things we could do that would be fun, creative and not too expensive. I was going to throw a little Halloween party for Bella and Bear and invite our neighbour's children, so pumpkin decorating was high up on the list. I didn't like the idea of Bear getting his hands on knives or pumpkin carving equipment though so I decided painting the pumpkins could be just as fun. Check out my Pinterest Halloween Inspiration board here. There are loads of holiday appropriate ideas from simple crafts with paper plates to spider inspired cupcakes and of course a whole bunch of painted pumpkins to admire.

One of my favourite activities at this time of year is to go for a walk on a sunny (I'll settle for rain free) day. If you take a plastic bag or two with you the kids can collect the fallen leaves, dry them out at home to make garlands and cards for Thanksgiving. One of my favourite places to walk near London in October is RHS Wisley. The trees are stunning and all the fresh air and exercise is the perfect antidote for cabin fever. Even better still, they have a half-term program designed to engage children with storytelling, music workshops as well as scratch and sniff craft activities. You can find out more about it here. If you live in the UK and London is too far for you to travel to, have a look at the RHS website for gardens in your area.

Another great resource is the local theatre. Many will put on activities specifically for children over half-term. We go to the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, last time we went to see a 'Charlie & Lola' puppet show, it was very engaging. My hot tip... bring cash for the interlude. 

The list of activities you can do is pretty endless there are museums, the aquarium, skating rinks, bowling, the beach, theme parks, petting zoo's, those terrifying soft play centers; if you do any or (if you're gunning for a mother-of-the-year award) all of these activities over half-term, you can give yourself a well earned pat on the back accompanied by a glass of wine. If you don't, hey don't sweat it. Kids need time-out to recharge too. A day in pajama's playing tent fort's is awesome. As for me, well I'm off to the spa. Please don't hate me.

Half-term Activities

Friday, 25 October 2013
When I moved to America in 2011 I didn't think I'd be coming back, at least not for a good ten years, or so. So when I moved into 'the most enormous house ever' I furnished it with large, sorry make that oversized pieces of furniture. What can I say? I was in the land of bigger is better and for the record I loved it. Oversized cars are cool. I never had to worry about boot space and I could fit a 15ft Christmas tree on the roof. I digress, the point is I didn't need to think too much about where or how things would fit into a space as there was so much space available.

Ahhhh America...

Fast forward three years and I'm back in my more modest house in London, clearly space is at a premium. One of the things I bought in the US is a super kingsize bed. It. Is. Enormous. My amazing moving people managed to get it upstairs and into the master bedroom in London and for the last six months that's all that has been in my bedroom. One big-ass bed. The reason for this is simple, nothing else will fit in there. This made me sad. It felt like the room had no personality and I really object to sitting on the floor to put my make-up on. It also made accessorizing outfits harder as everything was hidden inside the built-in wardrobes, hey I like a visual reference. I thought (a lot) about how to address this problem. A chest of drawers wasn't going to work, neither were shelves. In the end the answer was simple. A console table.

The 'Super King'

The trouble is, console tables are usually found in a hallway or a stylish dining room, not a bedroom. This made the search a little more challenging as I wanted something that would blend in, almost float against the wall, in fact something that was hardly there at all but at the same time would be sturdy without being bulky. It also had to co-ordinate with the colour scheme. So, I opted for glass and I love the result.

My 'hardly there' glass console table

The view

Being a lovely helpful sort I made a note of all beautiful pieces I came across while I was doing my search and here, for you, is my pick of the best console tables around. What made them stand out from among all the other tables? They have personality... happy me.

Left: Heal's Right: Garden Trading
Left: The French Bedroom Company Right: The White Lighthouse
Left: The Dormy House Right: The White Lighthouse
Left: The French Bedroom Company Right: John Lewis

Hardly there at all

Thursday, 24 October 2013
Cookie dough is soooooooooo goooooooood!!! I love making cookies, especially with the children, it's fun, gooey and always has a happy ending. Well apart from that one time, but we don't mention that. Ever. There are so many recipes out there it's hard to choose which to make. In my head there are four different types of cookies, these are crumbly, crunchy, cakey or chewy. Anything else is a biscuit (an English Biscuit that is). The recipes below make lovely cakey cookies, I undercook them slightly so they are a bit squishy in the middle. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
170g brown sugar
170g plain flour
60g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract (get the good stuff, it makes a difference)
120g chocolate chips

Martha Stewart recommends using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and adding the ingredients in the following order; mix the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, reduce speed to low and add the egg and vanilla and mix until it's combined, then add the flour and baking powder. When this has just combined stir in the chocolate chips. Now I wouldn't dare to argue with Martha, but I don't have an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. What I do have are three pairs of hands and a lot of enthusiasm. Bella and Bear squeal with delight and disgust when they squish all the ingredients together in the bowl with their little hands. We tried mixing with spoons but it's just not as efficient or satisfying. Besides, there's something good about licking cookie dough off your fingers. Please note it's a good idea to move the bowl at this point or those licked fingers will be diving back in for seconds.

To bake, heat the oven to 200ºC. Grease and line two baking trays and spoon the dough onto the trays in little dollops roughly three to four centimeters in diameter, I average about six per sheet as they do spread. If you would like flatter cookies take a glass and flour the bottom of it before gently flattening the dough on the tray. I suggest about 11 to 15 minutes in the oven depending on how fierce your oven is and how gooey you would like the cookie centre to be.

You may have to play a good defense when they're cooling... Bear was more determined than me today.

Here is the recipe for the second batch of cookies we made. If you want to go all out you can also add 150g of melted dark chocolate to this recipe to make Double Chocolate Chip Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies... sounds good right?

Crunchy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies:
170g brown sugar
170g plain flour
60g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
120g chocolate chips
120g chunky peanut butter
(A pinch of sea salt or an extra handful of lightly salted peanuts makes this even better)

Store the cookies in an air tight container lined with kitchen towel, they will keep for about three days at room temperature, if they last that long. Say it with me now... Sugar RUSH!!!

Cakey Cookies

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Skirt: Anthropologie (similar on sale here) Tweed Jacket: Vintage (love this one) Boots: Old (similar here) Top: Des Petits Hauts (last seen here) Coat: J.Crew Necklace: Accessorize (also love this one) Heels: Anthropologie (similar on sale here) Bag: J.Crew (similar here) Belt: Mulberry Hat: Anthropologie (similar here) Watch: Micheal Kors Bracelet: Etsy

Have you noticed how you can completely alter the look of an outfit just by changing the accessories, shoes or coat? I know I'm not alone in finding this nuance fascinating, otherwise following fashion bloggers would be a bit redundant really. I mean, the two looks in this post are totally dissimilar yet the the core outfit remains unchanged. One is relaxed with some bad ass ankle boots and wouldn't be out of place in a Tori Amos video (google her if you were born after 1995). The other is elegant and makes me want to go hang out around Somerset House, order Fizz and go home by taxi. 

The reaction the outfits got from passersby was different too. When I was all poshed up the wind blew my skirt around and onlookers giggled and engaged with me, but my bad ass boots may have intimated middle class Devon (all out walking their dogs or toddlers as was I fyi) because no one met my gaze in that get up... well either that or my fellow walkers were wondering what on earth I was up to in a tulle skirt on Dartmoor in the drizzle and were too polite to stare. Either way, I love both outfits and the point I'm trying to make is that by making a different choice a small change will alter how a look is perceived. 

If you're anything like me you have a wardrobe stuffed full of clothes and a number of go to pieces that you wear over again usually in the same fashion. People you know remember your clothes. Perhaps when you go to your wardrobe, in spite of the sheer volume available the inevitable wail of 'I have nothing to wear' echoes in your brain. Well, today I'm suggesting you look at your clothes from another perspective. Wear a dress as a skirt with a sweater or shirt over the top. Turn the collar up on your shirt. Add weight to your outfit with a scarf or layered necklaces. Change the length of your favorite jeans by rolling them up a little.  Play around with heel height and different trousers, maybe tie a belt in an unusual way. Heck, steal your husband's tie and get creative (not like that...). Apart from being hugely FUN, playing dress up will also highlight any gaps in your wardrobe which is helpful for the next time you go shopping. You'll be surprised at how versatile your clothes are, but the best bit will be when someone who knows you well will comment on your new look and you can honestly say "what this old thing..?" Cue smug smirk.

All Things Thursday Link Party

The same but different

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Jacket: Vintage (I love this one) Jeans: Hilfiger Wellies: Hunter Sweater: J.Crew (similar here) Hat: Anthropologie but old (similar here) Jewelry: Stacked rings are old (love these).

I'm fond of a cliché, so when I go to the country for the weekend of course I pack my tweed. Not just any tweed though, vintage tweed. This jacket is oversized, almost manly in design and I love it! I rarely do it up with the buttons, instead I pull it around me and tie it up as tight as I can with the belt at the waist. This gives it an almost peplum silhouette. On really cold days I turn up the collar, do up the buckle and bury my nose in the material. It smells of old clothes and Chanel perfume. Now then, where the devil did I leave my horse?

Country Tweed

Sunday, 20 October 2013
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