Sunday, 2 July 2017

WEDDING: Finding a venue

Tips for finding a barn wedding venue within 2 hours of Hertfordshire with no corkage

Now, let's be straight here. I'm going to start talking about weddings a bit on this blog. I'm preparing you now, so you can run if it's boring - but I promise I'll keep the yummy recipes and various life-stuff babble coming too, if wedding chatter really isn't your thing.

Even though we got engaged in October, we agreed that we wouldn't start 'officially planning' until 2017 started, as we were buying our house at the end of last year and assumed that we'd be a bit busy sorting it out. We definitely were. But I still grabbed a few moments to start planning, which consisted of working out a rough budget and starting to compile a list of venues that might be worth a look. It was worth it - we found one we loved, and we booked it a few weeks ago. May 2018, this thing is happening - eeek!

Now, I'm a bit of a control freak, and I like to plan things well. So I decided to create a spreadsheet of every venue I was looking into, filling in a list of criteria as I went which I'll share in a moment. This was quite a bit of work, but it was worth it. It meant that I had a record of all these venues and could see at a glance why I'd counted them out, or - more importantly - see if they were worth a second look. As it happened, our criteria changed a little, and so I did go back to my list, so I was so grateful that I'd gathered all this info.

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Sunday, 25 June 2017

Hello! Here's a big, juicy update.



So... I haven’t blogged in absolutely forever, and I was going to write this big long post about why, and my feelings about blogging. Then I just realised that it was taking me ages to write because I didn’t really want to write it, because everyone and their insta-boyfriend has written a post about their feelings about blogging... so I thought I’d just talk about what I’ve been up to instead.

And so I knocked this post out in ten minutes while waiting for Matt to come and pick me up from work the other day, so I think we all learned something there.

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Monday, 1 May 2017

REVIEW: Pizza Express, Berkhamsted

Review of new Pizza Express in Berkhamsted by food blogger based in Tring, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, The ChilternsReview of new Pizza Express in Berkhamsted by food blogger based in Tring, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, The Chilterns
Review of new Pizza Express in Berkhamsted by food blogger based in Tring, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, The Chilterns

We're settling in nicely to Tring - it's just such a lovely area, and I'm so excited to explore more places nearby, both in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire... the Chilterns is full of picturesque villages and excellent pubs. We keep promising we're going to strap on our walking boots and go proper exploring (I just bought some new ones from Spartoo, so I have zero excuse) but it hasn't happened yet. Actually, so far it doesn't feel like we've ventured that far (every time we go out to eat in Tring, we go to the same place!) but we've managed to make it into Berkhamsted a couple of times, which is just up the road.

It seems like this area is quite up-and-coming. Berkhamsted will soon be home to the second branch of one of my St Albans favourites, Tabure (and Matt's barbers are opening a branch there too, which he is very excited about) and Tring will be getting another St Albans fave, Lussmanns, later this year too (which I included in my St Albans restaurant roundup a couple of years ago). I love St Albans, but we were priced out of there when we wanted to buy property, which I think is the case for many people, so it isn't that surprising that independent businesses are moving this way too. And I am all for it, obviously.

We were invited to hop on the bus up to Berkhamsted to check out Pizza Express, which recently had a revamp. We timed our visit very poorly, as we tried a few items from the latest menu... about two days before they launched the new one. So unfortunately our main courses are no longer available to buy, but please join me in petitioning Pizza Express to rectify that, because I'm going to need their 'nduja mac'n'cheese and the Barbacoa pizza to be permanent menu items. SO GOOD.

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

WISHLIST: Dresses, bags and food for Spring

Spring Summer 2017 wishlist fit and flare dresses

Remember, back in the day, when I'd post regularly about clothes and shoes and bags and whatnot, and basically be a fashion blogger type person? Yeah, me too. I don't really see me going back to my ways completely (I never quite got over the awkwardness of taking outfit photos), but lately I've found myself falling in love with clothes again.

The problem of late has been that my kind of clothes simply haven't been in the shops. Honestly, my style hasn't changed all that much during the many, many, many years that I've had this blog (I actually wore a dress to a wedding on Saturday that I featured in an outfit post on here in 2012!) but what's deemed trendy has changed. I've been turning to online-only brands like Emily & Fin, Sugarhill Boutique and Collectif as my lunchtime wanders through my old favourites like New Look and Topshop have just turned up unflattering smock dresses, bodycon skirts that wouldn't go over my hips and midi frocks that would come down to the floor on me. Boo.

BUT! Suddenly, the shops are improving. I'm putting the blame at the feet of some of this year's most successful films - Emma Stone's wardrobe in La La Land was to die for (I now have a yellow flowered dress winging its way to me) and the dresses in Hidden Figures... oh, be still my heart. So here, for the first time in a long time, is a wishlist of some of the things I'm loving in the shops right now. Plus some food, because a girl's gotta eat, obvs.

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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

REVIEW: Chocolate making parties in Hertfordshire with The Choccie Drop





Okay, so it's way too early to start thinking about my hen party, but with my bridesmaids officially assembled now, I am pretty excited to spend a weekend with all of my favourite ladies. Can't we just have six-monthly mini hen dos until the wedding? It's AGES away.

One thing that got me thinking about hen dos was The Choccie Drop party I went to a few weeks ago with Matt. The lovely Kirsty holds chocolate making workshops in Hertfordshire, and we spent an evening creating items of chocolatey wonder and getting entirely covered with sugar. It was, predictably, great - because what could possibly be wrong with that scenario?
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Friday, 14 April 2017

RECIPE: Super chocolatey Easter cake

Best ever chocolate cake recipe for Easter weekend

Now, some bloggers are organised and think about their content months in advance. I am not gifted in that area. I'm not a big planner, and I often post recipes after just cooking them once. I like to think that it's my style - spontaneous! Crazy! And delicious!

Aaanyway, that's why I have had these photos of an Easter cake on my computer for a YEAR. That's right - last Easter Sunday, I made this chocolatey wonder, and then realised that it was far too late to actually share the recipe. Now, some might call that being disorganised, others might call it dedication. But I'm just going to call it the best gosh darn chocolate cake you'll ever have, and recommend that you make it this weekend. Or any weekend, really. Heck, make it on a Tuesday. It's a really good cake.

Obviously, it's ace covered in mini eggs and chocolate bunnies (a decorating tip which I totally didn't invent) but it's also ace with a slick of chocolate buttercream and nothing more. This is the only chocolate cake recipe you'll need.

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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

RECIPES: Sweet potato recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner

International sweet potato week - recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner
International sweet potato week - recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner
International sweet potato week - recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner

There are some foods I like so much that I could cheerfully eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. One of those foods is sweet potatoes, which is handy, as I was challenged to make a breakfast, lunch and dinner dish containing the most orange of potatoes as part of International Sweet Potato Week, which takes place from 1-13 April. Nope, I'm not sure why it's a 13 day week either. Maybe the greatness of sweet potatoes cannot be contained within one of your earth weeks, ever think of that?

I absolutely loved doing this challenge. I've been cooking a lot of the same meals lately - good meals, but samey - and it gave me a little nudge out of my comfort zone and I discovered some new recipes that will definitely enter our regular rotation. Just wait until you get to my dinner recipe, because daaaamn.

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