Wednesday, 3 February 2016

national carrot cake day

A Party Without Cake Is Just A Meeting - Or Is It? - 5 Birthday Cake Alternatives | Sundays and Somedays:

National Carrot Cake day (who decides this stuff ?!).

I do love a slice or two of carrot cake.  But I have never made one myself.  So I think today could be the day!

I've had some wonderful and some really not so wonderful carrot cakes in my life.  The worst was in a cafe in the Netherlands and was so dry and flavorless with barely any carrot to be found.  The best was at The Little Cupcake Bakeshop in New York City and was unbelievably moist, lots of carrot, walnuts and spices and toped with delicious cream cheese frosting (a must for me).  Perfection.   I swapped my Hummingbird cake with my friend's carrot cake and she never got it back!

So now to recreate something of equally good standards at home!

Here's a selection of what looks to be some of the most delicious carrot cakes around and a couple with a little twist of there own...

Carrot and pistachio cake. Beautiful!:

INCREDIBLE CARROT CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING {Simply classic, but probably the BEST recipe out there.  And that cream cheese frosting is so creamy, perfectly sweet and very stable!}

Carrot Cake with Orange Curd

Thursday, 14 January 2016

here and now

Here we are a 12 days back into real life after our UK Christmas & New Year trip.

Snow and ice gave us a slow start to the New Year with the first day back to school cancelled and a late start the next day.  That kind of threw us off our restart game.  All the snow gear was grabbed out the closet and the kiddos spent half the day sledding in the neighborhood and then drinking lots of hot chocolate and watching movies.  Maybe it was a blessing in disguise to ease us in.

I got online and ordered pair of Ugg boots on that snowy day.  My first pair.  Happy warm cozy feet.  

The Huzz is still in Europe.  Me and the kiddos, we travelled back here alone.  We are missing him.  Two sleeps to go and his back with us.  Reunited.  It will feel so good.

I've started my fitness off pretty well.  Three 5k runs in 4 days.  Two yoga classes.  Pat on the back for me.  That must have taken care of at least 5 of the sausages rolls I had over Christmas!!!


The Christmas tree came down on Sunday.  Reluctantly.  It feels so bare.   I am not taking away the lanterns or little white houses glowing with candles on my fireplace.  I am not ready for all the Spring stuff appearing in the stores.  I am looking forward to more cozy winter days and nights at home.


Thinking of a trip over Spring Break.  I suggested Alaska to the Huzz.  He wants beach and sun.  That sounds perfect to me!  Planning now needs to begin. 

Struggling to deal with my now 13 year old son.  He seems to think he's become all grown up in the month since he became a teenager.  I am apparently treating him like a baby!  Argh!!!   Help this is all new!

I binge watched the very last season of Parenthood during the evenings on my own this past week.  Loved it and cried a bucket load!  Love that Braverman family.

Happy Wednesday.


Sunday, 10 January 2016

a christmas recap

Carte de vœux - Lucille Michieli:

Welcome to 2016.

Ok we are 11 days in, but it's still all new isn't it.

We arrived back home in Portland on 1st January (at 11.57pm to be precise), returning from a fabulous busy family fun filled two weeks in the UK.  A trip long awaited and that of course went by in a flash of partying, feasting, drinking, feasting, gift opening, festivities, fireworks and did I mention feasting!

London looked fab, of course.  Street lights, Christmas trees, wonderfully decorated store windows.  My only regret was that we didn't have time to see more.

I really loved taking the kids to a Christmas Eve carol service gathering outside the local church.  With my mulled wine in hand and singing all carols (very) loud and clear!  My son, now 13 and full of runaway hormones, had a look caught somewhere between embrarrassment and amusement looking on at us.  My kids hadn't ever attended a carol service, so this was a totally new and wonderful experience for them.  I shall be seeking out more in their future.

Days rolled into one another.  Family, friends, cousins meeting cousins for the first time, seeing aunts and uncles that we hadn't seen for more than 4 years in some cases.  Sadly not seeing everyone we'd hoped to.  Feeling we are missing being closer to everyone.  Holding on extra long for goodbye hugs.  Tears or laughter, joy and sadness.

Lots of champagne, gin and tonics, sausage rolls, mince pies and chocolates!

It was a Christmas well spent.

Wishing you a wonderful year ahead filled with good things.


Monday, 16 November 2015

ear bling

365 days of the year I wear little black onyx stud balls in my ears.  I've worn this style forever (this is my 3rd pair).  Even on my wedding day!

I've tried and tested other earrings. Studs, loops, dangling ones, big big big ones!  But always come back to my much loved and treasured black studs.

But now I'm thinking a little ear bling would be fun for the upcoming party season and up my game in the glamorous ear department!  An ear cuff or crawler.  Just on one ear (two would be over the top, for me anyway).  These are some of my favorites...

Image 3 of ASOS Mismatch Rose Cluster Ear Cuff and Single Ear Stud

Olivia Palermo x Baublebar Anderson Ear Crawler Set {under $50}:

H A P P Y   S P A R K L Y   M O N D A Y   T O   Y O U!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

national chocolate day has arrived!

It's a very good Wednesday when I wake up to hear that it's National Chocolate Day!  Bring it on!

I'm not a crazy chocoholic, but can be more than tempted to indulge when there's some good stuff around (and that firmly excludes anything Hersheys!!!!).   One of my favorite chocolate bars is the Dutch brand 'Tony's Chocolonely" which the Huzz brings home from his very frequent trips to the Netherlands.  But starting just a couple of weeks ago, my favorite local Portland grocery store, New Seasons, has started selling it (and is the first store in the whole USA to do so!!) so no more waiting for the Huzz to unpack his suitcase! Lucky me.

Milk (always my favorite)
Dark Almond Sea Salt
Milk Caramel Sea Salt
Dark Coffee Crunch
Dark Pecan Coconut
Extra Dark


H A P P Y   C H O C O L A T E   D A Y!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

fall(ing) into fall

Well summer has well and truly ended!  I've had the early morning walks in the dark with our dog Harvey, when I've had to pull my Hunters and my rain jacket!  Not pleasant at 7am, even before my first coffee!  The endless summer did actually end, of course it would - this is Oregon!

Thoughts obviously turn to keeping cosy, whether that's a feeling achieved with food, surroundings, ambience or style.  The change of season is welcome.  I absolutely LOVED our extended summer this year but definitely am feeling that Fall has made a welcome appearance.

Five things I'm going to enjoy this Fall are….

Wearing this fabulous skirt.  I purchased it from Marks & Spencer as soon as they were previewing.  I love this 70s style, and the hype around it being a "must have" was justified.  Beautifully designed and so well made, and the suede is perfect and makes you want to keep stroking it! 

This gillet from Zara caught my eye on Le Catch.
I pretty quickly found myself clicking on 'Add to Cart'.  Love it.

I'm determined to be more adventurous in the soup department.
Not just good old veggie soup, made with whatever veggies happen to be in the refrigerator!
This Lemon Chicken Orzo soup is going to be near the top of my list…

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup - Chockfull of hearty veggies and tender chicken in a refreshing lemony broth - it's pure comfort in a bowl!

This Fall Sangria.
I'm planning on serving this at a little gathering with friends at home next week.  Delicious.

White Pumpkins.  My favorite.

Are you ready to decorate for fall but have a tight budget? Try one of these budget-friendly simple DIY Fall Mantle Ideas. Easy enough for anyone to do.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, 16 October 2015

national dessert day

Yes its National Dessert Day!  What a tasty Friday!

We don't have dessert at home after every meal.  Sometimes some ice-cream or fruit.  But that doesn't mean I'm not partial to something sweet at the end of a meal, usually when out for dinner or with friends.  Here's a few desserts that would finish any meal and fit the bill perfectly for today.

Blueberry-Ricotta Tart

the sultans pavlova | Tanya Zouev

churros with chocolate espresso dip | drizzle and dip

Happy National Dessert Day!

Monday, 5 October 2015

a new york weekend

I've been tardy again!  What can I say?  Sorry!  We've been getting back into the whole new school year routine.  The Huzz has travelled back and forth a few times to the Netherlands.  And I went on a fabulous trip to New York City!!! Yay!

Last weekend I met up with two of my great British girlfriends in what is the 'middle' between London and Portland.  New York!  Three days and nights in the Big Apple doing exactly as we like.  No children calling out every 2 minutes.  No household chores.  No real agenda.

There was rather a lot of 'Popemania' going on last Friday, so we changed our plans around and avoided the areas where crowds were gathered and security was at it highest level.  Instead we took a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and all around Dumbo.  Admiring the fabulous Brownstones, neighborhood streets and great views back over to Manhattan. A lunchitme cocktail, instead of the usual afternoon car-pool drive, was a perfect escape from the norm!

A fabulous meal at Gelso & Grand and then discovering an even more fabulous cocktail bar, the Mulberry Project, down some steps under a handbag store, certainly started our Friday evening off well with one of the best Lemon Drop cocktails, ever.

We found a great breakfast stop just a few minutes from our hotel, which we visited two of our three mornings.  Greecologies is a Greek yogurt lab!  The most delicious yogurt, topped with a selection of either fresh fruits, amazing honey, granola, rose petal preserve or feta, olives, tomatoes.  Delicious and so worth a visit.

On Saturday we stopped at Hugh Jackman's non-profit coffee shop, Laughing Man, for what was an outstanding latte (but alas, no sighting of Hugh!) and then moved on to visit the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial and admire what a fabulous architectural momument now marked this tragedy.   We took a stroll along the High Line Park, which really is a great use way of this disused railway and a major NY tourist attraction now and enjoyed equally by locals.

New York has such a great vibe.  Every corner hold something new and interesting.  I loved the street art ("grafitti" seems to give it an unexceptable feel).  Typical scenes like fire escapes tumbling down the outside of apartment blocks, small community gardens, neighborhoods each having their own distinct feel even when just one street apart.  We stayed at The Sohotel which was a perfect location and a great little rustic boutique hotel with everything we needed and super comfy beds, which we all we needed after a long day out in NYC.

Just having the time to wander, catch up, people watch and soak up all that is NY was the perfect getaway.  Here's to the next time!


Saturday, 29 August 2015

summertime blues

It's been an absolute age since I've been here.  Bloggers Block? Or a Summer Siesta?

I'm not feeling too blue about it though. This summer has been magnificent.  Talk about endless.  We have been spoilt with glorious days of blue sky, and I do believe a consecutive 19 days of 90+ degrees, with the rest not far off.  When it got a little too much (and I know I really shouldn't be complaining) and we had a couple of days of cloudy skies with a few showers and temps dropping to low 70s, it was enjoyed.  However, I wasn't quite ready for cooler days just yet.

Of course there is downside of this wonderful summer.  The lack of rain in Oregon has increased the wildfires substantially here in the Pacific Northwest I have never seen the countryside so parched.  And seeing on the news the fires that have destroyed more than a million acres of land, homes, old wooden bridges and more is frightening. Even though not on our doorstep, we could smell the smoke in the air and the smoke pollution on a few days was quite visible hanging over the city.  Thoughts always go to those in danger and those risking their lives to help.  So for this reason the rain that's arrived this past couple of days has been more than welcome.

For us it was a Staycation this year.  Lovely family came visiting from the UK and stayed with us for 10 days which meant lots of day trips, cousins getting lots of overdue time to play together, lazy dinners late into the evening, board games, movies, gin & tonics (plenty!) and a great time together.  My kids were at a few summer camps ranging from camping in the San Juan islands, to an art camp and lots of clay creations coming home every day!  A multi-sports camp and a beginners sailing camp (I love that they get to try out new stuff each year).  Plenty of sleepovers with friends, grilling outside almost every day, camping, summer movies and messing about in boats.  And of course lots of beach and pool days, keeping cool and in some cases escaping the heat of Portland for the cooler temperatures at the coast.

With just over a week to go until BTS (back-to-school) we have a camping trip, a 7th birthday celebration slumber party and school picnic to enjoy.  Fun up to the last minute and plenty of good memories of a great summer to carry us through what we know will feel like a long damp Fall and Winter.

Hope you're enjoying your last days of summer as much as we are…

Sunday, 19 July 2015

we all scream for ice-cream

National Ice-Cream day!

And perfect timing too, with temps today at 95 degrees!

Salt and Straw division st scoop shop - photo by Leela Cyd

In Portland, we are rather spoilt in the ice-cream department.  Salt & Straw being my favorite.  With a line snaking around the block at peak times (which is most hours of the day), at any one of its three stores (+ one in LA), it seems it's everyone else's favorite too!  I found that mornings are the least busy and it's no hardship having a little ice-cream indulgence before lunch!

Fresh handmade ice-cream with flavors ranging from Stawberry Banana Split to Goat Cheese Marionberry Habenero, and Meyer Lemon Buttermilk and Blueberries to Stumptown Coffee & Burnside Bourbon, it's an adventure for your taste buds for sure.  Of course Salt & Straw does have a vanilla (albeit double fold Vanilla) and a Chocolate (with Gooey Brownie) if you don't want to push your ice-cream boundaries.  And if you can't decide on what flavor (after sampling a variety), then you can always pick a 'tasting' board' of 4 different flavors - its more than enough to share, if you have to.

Salt and Straw Ice Cream Pints  
Salt & Straw - Portland ice cream shop. Flavors like Rhubarb Crumble with Toasted Anise, Dandelion Sorbet with Spring Flowers, Sweet Heat Apricot Wheat Ale with Candied Peppers, Honey Lavender, Lemon Basil Sorbet, Pear with Blue Cheese, Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper, Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbon

With pints to take home and an ice-cream cart to hire for events, Salt & Straw have got Portland covered.

Happy Ice-Cream Day!
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