Making spirits bright...

To me, the arrival of Christmas signals one thing and one thing only. Unlike the Mini Eggs of Easter or the Toblerone of Father's day which, despite the March/June influx, can actually be brought all year round...Christmas is the only time of year it is acceptable to eat (read: gorge) on the one, the only, CHRISTMAS PUD. And what a splendidly incredibly wonderfully marvelous time of year that is.

It's Loggi time of year!

Last year after some festive Pinterest searching and a few too many mince pies, me and Mikey decided to embark on some light woodwork. Three hours later and covered in sawdust...Loggi was born. This year, an army of Loggis (read: 11 Loggis) descended upon my local town after we got our act together and sold a few at our local Christmas Fayre. Next year we are aiming for world domination - if we can find an electric chain saw that is...elbow grease is not the one.

The most wonderful time

In case you were wondering after reading my last post - yes I am still enjoying getting wrapped up like a pig in a blanket and nosily looking into people's festive front rooms while pretending to walk the dog. This time however, we dipped into my local park which has got a wee festive make over. Ho ho ho! Anyway, this week has consisted of:
  • - Turning my bedroom into a grotto fit to rival a Harrods window display.
  • - Trying to convince my Mum to throw out Christmas decoration tradition (aka ping-pong head wise men that I made when I was 7) and go all classy on our asses this year. Not happening.
  • - Falling madly and irrevocably in love with every single animal under the sun (am I hormonal…is this Christmas cheer?!). Facebook video has convinced me that my life is lacking a baby hedgehog.
  • - And, finally, wondering why mulled wine and never-ending cheeseboards aren’t acceptable all year round.

Winter Walks

Do I love anything in the world more than I love Desperate Housewives and fluffy slippers? Answer: Yes – CHRISTMAS. If I could picture my little corner in heaven 70 years from now it would be abound with fairy lights, mince pies, tacky decorations and mulled wine on tap. Because I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to make beverage requests when you finally reach that big ol’ party in the sky. #WaterIntoWine and all that.

Birthday Weekend in London

A modern day princess doesn't wear a tiara and sit on a throne. Oh hell no - a modern day princess drinks copious amounts of cocktails, eats her body weight in Italian cuisine and looks out over her kingdom - or Canary Wharf in this case - from her swanky hotel room.

Wedding: S + M

You know sometimes when you're out and about and you briefly spot a couple who is just so YES. Who just look so right for each other and your heart does a little fuzzy flip of happiness that the world has brought two perfectly suited people together!? That is literally Sarah and Matty. Except this time they didn't flash past me in a supermarket or on the train. I got to the spend the whole diggin' DAY with them. And basque in the loveliness of all their friends and family. And eat a full 3 course dinner. And laugh way more than is socially acceptable for a wedding photographer to laugh at the speeches.

Venice ¦ Part 5

So, I'm spending the first evening of October dreaming about being back in Venice again. Specifically, being (relatively) tanned, having prosecco on tap and always having pizza within a 3 metre radius. There are so many incredible, splendid things I could say about Venice but the most splendid of them all is CALORIES. Because calories do not count when you're on holiday and they certainly don't count if it's upwards of 30 degrees outside. Everyone knows that. Case closed.

Venice ¦ Part 4

I don't think I need to blab on about how hot or how beautiful Venice is again in this post (you can find those posts here and here, respectively). Instead I'll tell you that we went out for dinner on Wednesday night and watched the sun set while tucking in pasta for me and sliced beef for Mikey. At least one of us was getting stuck into some typical Italian cuisine, huh!

Venice ¦ Part 3

In Venice you'll either be walking on foot or hopping onto a water taxi. Yep, a water taxi. Sounds fun, huh? Try going on one in mid July when the lovely idea of a water taxi turns into the horrendous reality of what is essentially a green house on water. The things are nasty hot in July and absolutely unbearable unless you can stand outside where there's a slight sea breeze. Me and Mikey would quite happily never set foot on one again.

The Great British Bake Off: E01 Review

Photo courtesy of The Guardian
How good does it feel to see them all walking single file and nervous into the baking tent again? Almost too good to handle. Thirty whole challenges for us arm-chair bakers to sink our teeth into.

Venice ¦ Part 2

Did you know that you can sweat through your knees? Neither did I. Venice in July taught me that apparently every single cell of your body has the capacity to sweat. Profusely. Unless watered down with prosecco and gelato every 5 minutes. #truetraveladvice #tta

Venice ¦ Part 1

So. After graduating on Monday (pictures might follow...if I can bring myself to share my dreadful hat-hair with the world..tbc) me and the fella went on a post grad holiday to the place where prosecco is cheaper than water and eating pizza and pasta non stop is actively encouraged, if not forced. I don't think there were many moments during our four day stay when we weren't either drinking prosecco, buying prosseco, or thinking about buying and drinking prosseco. And that is my kinda holiday. Amen.

My favourite rock bun recipe!

Sometimes there's nothing like a cup of tea and snuggle with a Hugh Grant film. Other times there's nothing like a cold glass of wine in the garden with friends. And sometimes, there is nothing quite like a good old fashioned rock bun. And even better when they're light as fairies and interchangeable! Amen. I'm pretty sure that you're gonna wanna try these babies out.

Afternoon Tee

Kudos to Mikey for coming up with the positively cracking title pun (though slightly worried that people may have thought I was just illiterate - I can spell 'tea' I promise). Short, sweet and snappy post today because I am working on an absolute corker of a tasty post for y'all this week. Hint: apricot rock buns. 

Cows and ice-creams (South of England Show)

*Disclaimer* All of these photos were taken with my teeny-weeny-four-year-old Lumix G2 which I saved from a dust filled stupor under my bed earlier this week. Sometimes the thought of lugging around my bigger Canon baby is just too much to handle on one small back (I'm sorry but it's true - what the Canon makes up for in image quality, it severely lacks in lug-around-ability) so I decided to revive my youngest child, Lumix, and pop him out for the day instead. So apols in advance for the slightly disheveled and unprofessional appearance of these photos.Sue me.

On Friday I went to the South of England show with my parents because, well...unemployment, free food and baby animals. If you've never heard of it before, the South of England show is like a farming animal food fun sun fest (official description), where you walk around masses and masses of stalls selling stuff you really don't need and then rotate around the food hall approximately 17 times picking up all the free samples of food and drinking all the free shots of beer. It's really as great as it sounds.

Blueberry Muffins Recipe

Blueberries. The wonder babe of the fruit world. Likable to the Boris Jonhson of politics, the Cheryl Cole of pop and the Olivia Coleman of acting - just so much BABE. Almost too much babe to handle, perhaps. Topping you up with Vitamin C, lowering your blood pressure and fighting wrinkles (allegedly) are just three of the super saucy things that these little balls can do. And what better way to appreciate their inherent goodness than by muffining them to high heaven?

Pub Grub

After a brief 2 week post uni celebratory hiatus (which included a total of 9 meals out and a hole in my purse the size of the Grand Canyon), I am ready to stop neglecting my blog...and start being a little more grown up with my $$$. You know, seeing as I'm no longer a student and, oh yeah - unashamedly yet undeniably unemployed.  SUCH FUN. So I'm whipping my blogging butt back into gear with a short and sweet post featuring pub grub, aka the grandmother of all English delicacies (the mother, of course, being the viccy sponge). 

The Best Brownie Cheesecake Recipe EVER.

Now I will be the first to admit that this little baby is the Beyonce-superbowl-half-time-show of sweet treats: you know deep down it's god damn bloody marvelous, but boy oh boy, it's just not photographing well. For those of you who haven't seen (excuse me, wut?!), this is what I'm talking 'bout:

Claiming Benefits

Here's to me wishing that 'claiming benefits' in the UK could always look this good. Punderful comedy over. Back to business: Last Saturday I photographed a charity fashion show in aid of Cancer Research. Not only did I get very excited about the amount of clothing there was fleeting around, but I also had a mini happy heart-attack when the girls from Benefit started unloading their box loads of product ready to sell. [Sidenote: If you haven't heard about it already (and I really question your sub-rock habitation if you haven't) Benefit is hook, line and sinker into its May campaign, 'Bold is Beautiful'. This little baby is helping two brilliant charities; Refuge and Look Good Feel Better by donating 100% of its profit from brow wax services up and down the country. So if you haven't already, make sure you book in for some brow lovin'. If you think your brows are damned perfect already, maybe the complimentary Gimme Brow product will sway ya, Ms Princess Delevignite.]

Now, hit me in the face and call me petri-dish level shallow, but Benefit's shit is so pretty. I know that you should never judge a book by its cover, but in all honesty, I think I'd bathe myself in fox poo if fox poo was packaged this well. Needless to say, I forgot about the fashion show and spent a good 20 minutes stroking, breathing and fantasizing photographing the Benefit make up stall. From every angle. Every height. Every crevice. And of course I know that your average blogger-type can never see too many pictures of make up, so here you go. Behold the beauty of the Benefit make up stand.

Fashion show pictures will follow soon I promise, but for now. Breathe it in, ladies. Breathe. It. In.

NOW COME AND TALK TO ME ON TWITTER DAMNIT (and have a bonne soirée). Bisous. xx

Smitten with Britain

Nothing says 'I'm British' like a cup of tea and slice of coffee cake. Except maybe pasty legs, unrubbed in sun-cream and being sick on a pavement outside a night club (hey, we've all been there). So with the birth of the new royal Princess, I am grabbing my English heritage by the horns and forcing myself to indulge in traditional British 'elevenses'. Which means coffee cake and tea. Followed by more coffee cake and tea. And maybe a good ol' game of croquet on my lawn, old sport. 

So as you can see my summer body descent is going well so far has been thwarted by the sudden arrival of this new batch of coffee cake. If your body is beach body ready regardless of your body fat percentage, I urge you to give this lil baby a go. It's worth every single calorie. The recipe is here. You're welcome. 

Smooth Operator

So, after having recently decided to descend into a Michelle Keegan style physique for summer, my body has been getting smoothie ready. I will admit that this weekend, following a six piece Pieminister delivery, the diet was flagging a little and my 'Michelle Keegan' was looking a little bit more like 'Michelle Mcmanus' (yep, bringing in a pop idol anecdote here), but I am determined to get back on track with a full week of smoothie goodness prepared. Obviously, I'm a big believer in the easy route, the route most traveled, the two-ingredient-I'm-a-student-I-can't-afford-quinoa route so my two favourite smoothies so far are nothing short of simple as shit. 

Juicy mango: 1/4 cup 0% fat greek yoghurt // 1/2 cup chopped up mangos // 1/4 cup milk // drop of vanilla essence
Banana-rama: 1 banana // 1/2 cup low cal vanilla yoghurt // 1/2 cup milk

I know that fruit can be notoriously expensive in comparison to an 8 pack of chipsticks (£1.50!),  but what I have found really helpful is LATE NIGHT SHOPPING. Me and Mikey discovered its benefits months ago when we popped out late to pick up sandwiches one time and realized that past 10.30pm ish, reduced stickers come out to play! Meaning I picked up an entire bag of chopped up mango the other day for £1.21. AND that was in M&S BP - the queen of the overpriced food shop. So my cheap smoothie rule is: make a late date with a fruity mate. (Just make sure you eat it the next day/freeze it!). 

In other less taste-bud-tingling news, I had my big old final French exam yesterday. Which resulted in me curling up in bed with lots of chocolate while mum brought me warm milk and stroked my back. Yep, it really went that well. (Note my sarcasm). Buuuuuut que sera sera and I'm so happy to have the next few weeks off to spend watching Keeping up with the Kardashians and Revenge and Gossip Girl and looking for a job and sorting out my future.

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Banoffee Cookies ¦ TheBettyStamp Recipe

When The Betty Stamp tweeted a few weeks ago that she was making some sort of banoffee cookie extravaganza and would be sharing the recipe soon, I practically squealed. And then when she actually posted the recipe, I did squeal. No, seriously, I'm not joking:
Which is totally squeal-speak for wow what a lovely looking cookie recipe, I would like to give them a go myself. And I cannot put into words how positively fabulous it was to get these little babies out of the oven. Or lick the bowl. Or polish them off in one day. Or bookmark the recipe for all my friends and family. Or think about having them made especially for my wedding and/or funeral. You know, the normal stuff that runs through your head when you taste a decent cookie. 

You can follow Betty's recipe here.  As you will see she totally mastered the layered cookie tower look, something that was never going to happen for me because a) I was too busy eating them and b) my photo wouldn't have looked half as beaut as hers (those straws! *heart eye emoji*). 

I would LOVE, and I mean LOVE to know if you bake these and what you thought of them. And if you have any other amazing, slightly different recipes that I might like just as much. 

I also made some of my own pretty naughty flapjacks, or a vanilla and chocolate marble cake if you're feeling fancy.
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Uptown Dunk

Mikey made a pretty decent observation the other day. In fact, it was an observation so profound that I leant back in my chair for a second and pondered how I'd never realised it before. His observation was this: 

'Oi Katie, you do realise that the only reason you drink so much tea is because it's an excuse to have a biscuit?'. 

As a fully fledged British citizen, I know that I should not be degrading the infamous cuppa down to an unwilling pawn in a bigger picture of cookie love....but don't tell me you've never accepted the offer of a cup of tea solely because you know of its dunking capabilities?! I do this all the time. I'll never finish the cuppa, but what I will do, is slowly make my way through an entire packet of chocolate digestives. Why? Because biscuits dunked in tea aren't calorific, obviously. Just like chocolate bars shared with someone else, and popcorn at the cinema aren't either. These things are minus calories. They're good-time nutrients, and you can't put a sugar rating on those babies. 

Pictures from the Chocolate Theatre Cafe in Eton that me and the boyfriend visited last weekend.

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So Smooth

My healthy kickstart at the beginning of the year, like most NY resolutions, completely fizzled out by the 5th of January. Who did I think I was kidding that I'd stop eating chocolate before 4pm? Nobody - that's who. But with the smell of summer around the corner and the fear that I'll have to change out of baggy jumpers, fluffy socks and slippers for the first time in 5 months, means that some sort of body reboot has to occur. 

So, I'm embarking on this slow descent into a Cheryl Cole-esque physique by embracing smoothies. Because instagram. And because pinterest. Unfortunately, I haven't quite managed to jump onto the kale-quinoa-how-does-anyone-pretend-to-like-this-shit green smoothies yet, so I'm playing it safe with some banana and vanilla-yoghurt ones (low fat of course). Join me. They taste bloody good and a healthy outside starts on the inside! 
Ingredients: 1 banana  //  1/2 cup of low fat vanilla yoghurt  //  half a cup of milk  
Method: Blend and go baby, blend and go! 

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And please share your favourite smoothie recipes with me or go-to healthy snacks/dinners (link me link me link me! I need motivation!) 

Bloomin' lovely

Oooooh, is there any time of the year better than spring?! (answer: no, there damn well isn't). While I can fully appreciate that some people get excited about barbecues and denim shorts and salt spray and minimal clothing, what really gets my cogs whirring about this time of year is that blossom is out in force. Yep, I'm that lame. I cannot believe this stuff actually grows naturally on trees, and I haven't quite worked out why it's not an all-year-round fixture yet, but what I do know is that when it's out - I go mental snap happy. I admit that photographing blossoms in England today didn't quite beat photographing blossoms in Paris last year, but they really do make my little heart rejoice, wherever I find them.

Easy Viccy Sponge recipe

Oooooh the Victoria Sponge, the mother of all cakes. The quintessentially British masterpiece that deserves all the love of a million baby pugs. Rumour has it this lil beauty gained its name because Queen Vic herself enjoyed a slice, with a cup of tea from her golden throne no doubt. And if it's good enough for Queenie, then it's good enough for me! (And you).

I urge, no I insist, that you give this a go this weekend. Throw on a union jack dress à la Geri Halliwell, mix up some Pimms, and have a British baller of a weekend.

Ingredients: (Cake) 225g softened butter  //  225g caster sugar  //  4 large eggs  //  225g self-raising flour  //  2 teaspoons baking powder  //  2 round cake tins  // (for the filling) raspberry jam (or strawberry)  //  100g softened butter  //  140g icing sugar  //  vanilla extract 

Method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, grease and line two sandwich tins. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and baking powder until smooth. Divide this evenly between the tins and bake for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling by beating together the butter and icing sugar until smooth. Then add a drop of vanilla extract and continue to stir.

When the sponges are totally cooled, spread the filling onto one half of the sponge. Cover (and I mean cover) this with jam of your choice. Pop the other half of your sponge on top and lightly sprinkle with icing sugar.

It couldn't be easier and it couldn't taste better! Do you love Victoria sponge as much as I do!? I'd love to know if you'll be giving this a bake soon. Until then, chat with me on Twitter or follow me on Instagram and I wish you the loveeeeeliest, cakiest of Thursdays! 

Sunsational evenings

The sun tonight was so beautiful. So naturally me and Mikey hopped in the car, found some country roads, went for a spin and took some pictures. I should probably say that these pictures are slightly grainy because I'm going for that Kodak instant vibe, but it's actually because I either a) didn't realise I was in the wrong setting, b) was having way too much fun to notice or c) both of the above. But hey, I'm not claiming to be a professional. (Note my sarcasm). 

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