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You will need:

For the shells: 
2 large eggs
60g ground almonds
110g confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
20g castor sugar
Yellow food colouring
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

For the lemon curd:
2 eggs
50g turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
Juice of two lemons

Good quality lemon curd is readily available in shops so don't think you have to make this part to succeed with the recipe. I totally cheated, but if you want to make your own here's how. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs, sugar and cornflour well. Add the lemon juice then heat the mixture gently in a pan for no more than 7 minutes while beating it continuously until it thickens. Allow the curd to cool then transfer to a fridge to chill before using it to sandwich the shells together.

As with the milk chocolate and vanilla macaroons we made last week, separate the white of the eggs at least 12 hours before you intend to start baking. You can keep them in the fridge, just allow them to come back to room temperature before you begin.

Preheat your oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Grind the ground almonds and confectioners' sugar in a blender until it is a fine mixture. Strain this through a sieve onto a baking tray. Bake the mix for 5 to seven minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl using an electric hand whisk, when they start to form soft peaks add the castor sugar a little bit at a time. Stop mixing when the egg whites become a little stiff and glossy. Add the yellow food colouring and lemon juice and mix until an even colour is achieved.

Strain the cooled almond and sugar mix through a sieve onto the now yellow egg whites and fold in carefully with a silicone spatula. Fill a pastry bag with the mix and pipe out around 30 circles onto a prepared baking sheet, try to keep the circles uniform. Don't worry if you can't though, they'll still taste the same.

Now step away. Leave your perfect circles alone for at least an hour or until a crust forms on the surface. Once this happens cook the macaroon shells for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool. Use a thin metal icing spatula to remove the shells from the baking parchment. If they stick pour a trickle of water between the paper and the baking tray to help ease them off. 

Assemble the macaroons by spreading the lemon curd on one half of a shell and then sandwich with a matching shell. Chill for one hour before serving.

Lemon macaroons

You will need: For the shells:  2 large eggs 60g ground almonds 110g confectioners' sugar (icing sugar) 20g castor s...
Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dress by ASOS - similar here and I love this one
Shoes by Zara
Leather jacket by Muubaa from Feather & Stitch
Sunglasses are Marc by Marc Jacobs
Belt - find similar here
Bracelet by Stella & Dot
All other jewelry is vintage

Last Saturday I met my sister, a lovely friend (whom we shall call tall blonde) and her new (very tall) boyfriend in Wandsworth, London. The idea was just to go for a few casual drinks, keep it low key and then head home. So naturally we ended up ordering tequilas and missing the last trains home. At some point mid-way through the evening (my sister had not yet arrived) the very tall boyfriend popped over to the bar to replenish our glasses; within a second of his departure tall blonde and I were accosted by 'young hedge fund guy' who also happened to be a Posh Rugger In Cream Khakis…

Tall blonde and I were bemused by his sudden appearance, we felt awkward however we politely engaged in chat. Young hedge fund guy quickly established the two tall people were dating and then continued to stand around awkwardly. Soon after tall blonde excused herself to go help with the drinks (read escape) young hedge fund guy admitted he was playing a bar game called 'awkward' and in fact he had been dared to come and talk to us by his team mates. Seriously?? Yep, apparently people do that. I'm not certain whether he won the game, as the whole experience was horribly awkward from start to finish or lost because he fessed up to the fact he was playing a game in the first place. I suggested he had played marvelously, it was clearly a huge win and he should definitely go and tell his team all about it.

Now, tall blonde was wearing jeans and a neutral draped shirt with booties, I was wearing black linen slacks from Anthropologie, a pink American Vintage vest and a cream linen blazer. Just very lovely going to the pub attire, not showy, fierce or overtly sexy; I do wonder though whether our casual outfits in some way encouraged this interaction? Would we have been singled out as approachable fodder for a pub game if one of us happened to be wearing the fierce LBD from ASOS in this post? I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. In the meantime I need to find somewhere new to drink.

Say again?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014
If you're from the UK you may not be as familiar with Anthropolgie as you are with other prominent high street brands. Indeed of the six UK stores that have opened since 2009, three are located in central London (Regent's Street, King's Road and Selfridges) with the remaining stores in Guildford, Edinburgh and a pop-up shop at The Village, Westfield; so if you happen to live and shop anywhere in-between you may not have had the opportunity to glide through the doors and browse the immaculately presented merchandise for yourself; but that needn't be a problem, the online boutique is flawless and I can guarantee that this darling of American retail will capture your heart and imagination.

Something Anthropologie does very well is casual attire, their clothes have a chameleon-like quality that enable you to dress them up or down depending on the occasion. That doesn't mean the clothes are lacking in glamour or that wow factor, not at all (check out my post featuring the beaded composition top by Yumi Kim if you require convincing) in fact it's the evocative and glamourous nature of these clothes that gives them their luxurious laid-back appeal.

I've cherry picked my favourite relaxed pieces from the resort collection, all are available online now just click on the image to be taken directly to the website. While you're there check out the amazing home wares too; they're quirky, colourful and elegantly grown-up.

Amity button-down in ivory

How perfect is this shirt? This unbelievably soft rayon button-down by Sam & Levi achieves a chic, effortless aesthetic and it also comes in this seasons runaway colour, a delicate shade of pink blush.

Clara button-down in coral
For a boy-meets-girl look pair this silky rayon button-down from Maeve with cuffed denim and loafers, don't forget a statement necklace to complete the outfit.
Filigree lace top in grey
This mint rayon pullover by Dolan is as effortless as a tee, the sheer lace overlay gives it a sexy edge when paired with beautiful lingerie, or if you prefer you can layer it over a light chambray shirt.

Starflower sweater in neutral
If you peek closely at this textural pullover you will notice rows of flourishing viscose blooms, it's perfect for adding a feminine touch to a jeans-and-tee combo.

Avaline scoopneck in light grey
Layering is made ultra easy with Bordeaux's soft rayon top, the shimmery satin trim adds an unexpected textural element while playing with depth of colour.

Heathered cowlneck in mint
For mornings when you want to look chic but your brain won't function fashionably just reach for this amazing mint, loose-knit, cotton popover by Porridge, the brain-child of Laura Stange; it will transition perfectly from winter to spring looking equally chic paired with denim and booties or a flowing pleated midi-length skirt and loafers.

Limpopo blazer in blue
Who says outerwear need be basic, timid or tame? Stand out from the crowd by pairing Cartonnier's blazer with everything in your wardrobe, from boyfriend denim to flouncy frocks.

Fayette vegan leather jacket in brown
Every woman needs a go-to brown leather jacket in her wardrobe arsenal and this vegan biker from Cartonnier is timeless and versatile.

Pilcro Stet slim ankle jean in tinted denim
Anthro and Pilcro work so well together. It's easy to understand why; the simple yet flattering silhouette of Pilcro denim inspires layering and the soft give of the fabric makes them an instant favourite. 

Selected Femme marled coat in light grey
Danish brand Selected Femme have been designing unique collections since 2008, driven by a desire to create unmistakably feminine silhouettes that complement a women's individuality. This coat has a wonderful boyish oversized look in a versatile neutral colour. It's a no-brainer. Throw it over a sweater and jeans (as styled below) or work the layered look by wearing it over a modern wide leg suit and jacket for the office.

Carnation check coat in pink
If you were last in line to get the coat of the season (a pink one) and failed to bag the one you wanted Anthro have come to the rescue with this fashion forward checked version. Checks are featuring heavily on the AW14 catwalks at fashion week so learn from your mistakes and snap this one up NOW!

Mus & Roew Jargon brogues in bronze
Ok, I get that this might be a step too far into girl-meets-boy and starts appropriating his look for those of you born wearing heels but I would love to just give you a little push towards these brogues. The best fashion periodicals are all over the flat shoe for SS14 and beyond. Call it a backlash from the sky-high heels we've been rocking but the flat is seriously HOT and here to stay. I love the contemporary buckle and bronze colour palette, these brogues are ridiculously elegant and guaranteed to be comfortable after a day strutting your stuff around the city.

Nail casual luxe with Anthropologie this spring

Monday, 27 January 2014
If your shelves are where you dump odd bits of paper (while they're waiting to be filed of course), or periodicals, or nick-nacs, or the multitude of kids stuff brought home from parties and school that you don't know what to do with; well you may try to ignore them as a matter of course. I have some news for you… they don't have to be this way.

I won't lie to you. I am a natural organiser. My old school friends still tease me about my neat freak habits and it was always a source of amusement to my house mates that my books were in height order,  often grouped by subject. I like order. Over the years this has developed into a discerning appreciation for beautifully arranged shelves. Bella has inherited this sense of 'everything has a place' from me. She rearranges her teddies before bedtime and woe betide the miscreant who has a paw out of place.

My sister noted, the last time she visited that I was the only person she knows who arranges their books by colour. To me it is a natural progression. I organise my wardrobe by item and then by colour so when I slide open the floor to ceiling height doors I am greeted by a rainbow of clothes. It makes dressing simpler and is wonderfully easy on the eye. So I decided to do the same with my books. It makes me smile, it's the literary equivalent of a colour wheel.  

Raw oak shelf ladder by Garden Trading

If you'd like to be inspired by some truly amazing interiors check the Bella & Bear pinterest boards.

Decorating and organising shelves

Friday, 24 January 2014
This is the first in a series of macaroon recipes I would like to share with you. I am addicted to macaroons. My eyes are always drawn to the sumptuous displays in a patisserie window; staring at the delicate rainbow of colours, guessing as to the flavour... my mouth starts to water involuntarily.

This is not the first time I've made macaroons. In fact I've been researching recipes and perfecting my bake for about six months now. I'm getting better. This last batch though, wow! The shells are crisp, yet retain their gooey interior and the ganache is perfection, being both delicious and a beautifully smooth, firm consistency. The flavour is incredible too, a truly rich and decadent treat to accompany afternoon tea or as a sweet amuse-bouche with coffee at the end of a meal.

Now I'm not going to pretend that this is an easy recipe. It's not chocolate rice crispy cakes, but it's not rocket science either. I cannot state how important patience is when making macaroons, if you follow these instructions and get the ingredients right, you can do this! It's worth the time, trust me.

You will need:

For the shells: 
2 large eggs
60g ground almonds
110g confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
20g castor sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 vanilla bean

For the milk chocolate ganache:
60g of milk chocolate
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean

Ingredients & tools

Separate the egg whites from the yolk and keep them in the fridge for up to 24 hours. After 12 hours you can start to make macaroons. Bring the egg whites to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat your oven to 150ºC (300ºF).
Put the confectioners' sugar and ground almonds into a blender and grind them into a fine powder. Strain this mixture through a sieve onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Allow it to cool.

Beat the eggs in a bowl until they start to form soft peaks, using an electric hand whisk speeds this process considerably. When the peaks start to stiffen gradually add the castor sugar continuing to beat the egg whites constantly. Add the cocoa powder and continue to mix until an even colour is achieved.

The beaten egg white & cocoa before the almond/ sugar mix is added

Strain the cooled ground almond and sugar mix through a sieve over the egg white mix, fold in the mixture using a silicone spatula. Scrape the seeds from half the vanilla pod and add to the mixture, folding them in gently.

Carefully fill a pastry bag with this mixture and pipe out 30 uniform circles (about 4.5cm) onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. I use a silicone baking mat for macaroons as I find it easier to lift them from the tray after baking, it's not necessary for success though. If the macaroons stick after baking, simply trickle a little water between the paper and the tray and remove with a frosting spatula or any other very pliable, thin knife.

Once you have piped out the circles set them aside and leave them alone for at least one hour or until a crust forms on the surface of the macaroons. Then bake for 10 to 12 minutes. They will rise and spread a little in the oven. Allow the macaroons to cool slightly before attempting to remove them.

Piped out and resting

In the oven & cooling

To make the chocolate ganache create a bain marie, break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it slowly. Add the butter allow it to melt while gently stirring the mixture, then add the cream continuing to stir. Scrape out the vanilla seeds from the remaining half of the vanilla pod and add to the chocolate mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before chilling the ganache in the fridge. I found the ganache was a little runny even after chilling so I added a very small amount (two teaspoons) of icing sugar to the mix to allow it to thicken and set a little in the fridge.

Spread the ganache over half the shells and sandwich with a matching top. Chill the macaroons for 1 hour before serving. Enjoy...

Milk chocolate & vanilla macaroons

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Pleated skirt by Whistles (similar here)
Denim shirt by J.Crew
White 'boy' shirt by J.Crew
Watch by Michael Kors
Necklace by Accessorize (similar here)
Ankle boots by Anthropologie (sold out but I love these Converse as an alternative)
Stack of rings are old, find similar at Baublebar

Have you seen British Vogue's 'The Catwalk Edit' on sale with the February issue? Ooooooooooweeeee there is some colour coming our way this spring!! Brights, pastels, neons and colour blocking galore. I'm in heaven. Pleats sashayed down the runway at Christopher Kane, Proenza Schouler, Celine, Dries Van Noten and many other shows so it's safe to say that investing in a bold pleated skirt is a good decision for spring 2014; they are not going anywhere soon. Look for mid-length in a metallic or crisp pure white fabric for truly modern appeal.

This Whistles skirt has been a favourite and a summer staple of mine for three years now. I dress it it up and down depending on the occasion. I've even worn it belted as a mini-dress at the beach. Here I've layered it with two J.Crew shirts and a pair of little grey ankle boots that have been idling away at the back of my closet. I can't tell you how much I enjoy it when I can recycle a key piece in my wardrobe from season to season (that's why I'm looking just a teeny big smug in that last pic).


Friday, 17 January 2014
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