Doorstep Drop OffA few months ago, thanks to a very very dear friend, I discovered what is now quite possibly one of my favourite companies on the planet... Abel and Cole.
As soon as I logged on to their website I was converted, and every Monday I am now the extremely delighted recipient of a delicious variety of seasonal, organic veg. And who wouldn't find Monday mornings more bearable when you wake up to a great big cardboard box full of goodies sitting in the porch!
One of the winning factors for me is the ease of use of their website. It is so fool proof that even I manage to select my likes and dislikes, choose the dates I'll be on holiday (and so won't need a delivery), flick through the endless recipes and add bits and bobs onto the back of my main order.
small veg box which is £9 and plenty for the two of us. The weekly boxes are always varied which gives me the perfect excuse to try out new recipes (not always successful... as Robbie will vouch for) and it also makes sure we're eating more of our 5 a day!
You can log into the site in advance and change your order if there's something you don't like, or you know you need something extra. And it's not just veggies! There's a whole range of food and drink - all fresh and organic.
This was yesterday's delivery (and yes some of the items do arrive looking like they've just been pulled out of the ground, but this is to keep them fresh and to try and prevent any transit-bruising):
If there's ever a vegetable that someone might not be as familiar with using as they are with the good ole' carrots or broccoli, they even pop in a handy little guide like they did for this little aubergine...
We got an extra present for free (sometimes the nice people at Abel and Cole do that) - a mini mince pie. Unfortunately I scoffed it before I remembered to get my phone out and take a snap. My first mince pie of the season!
In keeping with the Christmas spirit, they'd included a Christmas booklet. As well as showcasing the wines and foods they sell online, there were some great Christmas recipe ideas too...
As well as fulfilling my vegetable dreams, Abel and Cole are also very particular when it comes to being eco-friendly. Not only can you leave your empty boxes on the porch each week for collection (they use them again), but they also have some very 'cool' cooler-bag ideas too...
This week I'd found their Chilli Crab Spaghetti recipe online, and ordered a few extra bits to make it. I'll post it up once its cooked. This is the crab meat that arrived in the above cool bag, nice and... cool :-)
Shopping for a Little White Number
I have to admit, I've never actually had a 'Muriel's Wedding' episode, where I've gone into a bridal shop (pretending to be engaged) and managed to drink the shop out of Champagne whilst trying on 90% of their stock (with a tear in my eye as I envision myself delicately sobbing into a tissue at speech time)... so when it came to me finding my wedding dress I didn't really have a clue what I was looking for.
At the beginning of my search, I had my heart set on something extravagant, with the thought 'I'm only gonna be doing this shizzle once, so it better be damn big!' The designer that seemed to answer all of my prayers was Ian Stuart, and I believed that these were definite contenders for strutting my stuff on the big day:
|Rhapsodia Ian Stuart 2012 Killer Queen Collection|
|Sapphire Ian Stuart 2012 Killer Queen Collection|
|Sapphire as above|
|Andalucia Ian Stuart 2013 Supernova Collection|
|Atlantis Ian Stuart 2013 Supernova Collection|
If any of these amazing dresses take your fancy, you can get some more details on them and others from Mr Stuart's amazing collection here.
However on trying some of these beautiful dresses (and they really are), I found myself leaning more and more towards a more fitted and slender style. Had I been getting married in an amazing country manor house then perhaps one of the above dresses would have fitted the bill, but as the wedding would be in the middle of London, and involved a bit of walking between venues - weather dependent - I was starting to look at dresses that reflected the overall theme of the day. On top of this, I started to think about what was really 'me' and this actually meant something more figure hugging and (being such a short a*se) less drowning.
So back to the shops I went...This time to a lovely boutique bridal shop in London - London Bride Couture. The ladies here are so welcoming and really make you feel at home (I was comfortable enough to try on practically the whole shop.) They've got a great selection of dresses from some great designers, and seem to be able to chop and change bits of any dress to suit your requirements.
Here are a few of the dresses that I tried and loved from London Bride Couture. The first three are by a designer called Intuzuri, and the last - Bali - a more fitted Ian Stuart number:
Two other brands that had me contemplating several wedding dress changes throughout the day were Pronovias and Jenny Packham. Here are a few more dresses to wet your appetite!
Now only 8 months away from the wedding, I think I have found THE ONE, although I am yet to order it... the deadline is December!
I'll be posting the chosen dress after the big day.... just in case of any prying eyes!
Tea, Cocktails and Wedding Venues
As Chief Bridesmaid and Usher, our dear friends Annie and Nick are subject to certain privileges (or chores as some may see them) prior to the wedding.
One of these was a sneak preview of our wedding venue last weekend. Robbie and I dragged the other happy couple up to Embankment for a guided tour around the venue of choice - One Whitehall Place.
Of course, no afternoon in London is complete without afternoon tea, and feeling slightly worse-for-wear courtesy of the previous evening, we opted for the traditional menu at The Royal Horseguards Hotel, and forwent the Champagne ...did those words just come out of my mouth?!? (or fingers should I say).
The tea consisted of the expected but also included a couple of little surprises such as this rather delicious egg mayonnaise choux pastry
After 'unlimited refills' of sandwiches... cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, coronation chicken, beef and horseradish... we moved onto our scones - obviously smothered with a healthy dose of cream and jam, and then onto the tantalising puds...
|Amazing flavours: Earl-Grey-chocolate-melt-in-the-middle-bomb-lollipop|
|Bitter sweet: sharp fruit topping over a delicious creamy base|
|And of course, a mini cupcake|
Somehow managing to heave ourselves out of the bed-like armchairs and away from the delicate strings of the harp we made our way across the hall to the wedding venue.
I'll save the wedding venue pics till after the big day next year... but you can see some of the function rooms here.
Still feeling full, we took a stroll along the River to the church where we will be having the ceremony - The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy. Unfortunately - as expected - the chapel was closed, but we managed to get a peak of the newly landscaped courtyard area.
Having not eaten or drunk anything for the last hour, we were all starting to fade away and so had no option but to nip into the nearest watering hole to recharge. Luckily this happened to be one of Annie and my favourite bars at The Savoy Hotel.
Just before the bar there is a 'mini museum' with some interesting little additions such as this framed coin that was the first taken by the hotel in 1889... (and happened to be for a bottle of Champagne!)
After studying the extensive menu, soft drinks definitely seemed like a cop-out and hangovers were forgotten as we tucked into cocktails accompanied by the live pianist... (in the very dark bar area)
Being the Bond Season, this was the specialty offering:
So of course we had to sample. It was a refreshing mix of gin, vodka, wines, syrup and Japanese Yuzu juice, which we could have sat drinking all night!
As well as the Skyfall, we also sampled the Piano Man; another refreshing mix that even included cucumber... the perfect cocktail to get you back into the swing of things!
Home Best Buys...
When Robbie and I first moved into our home, every shop I visited warranted a purchase for my new abode! However, almost 800 days later, I have grown to know and love my staple purchases that no cosy home should be without!
CandlesWith a two year old Great Dane to contend with, we need as much help as possible when it comes to keeping bad odours out and good odours in!
|Boycey Mac taking up resident spot on the rug!|
Not only do these Jo Malone candles look the part, but they smell divine and last for ages! My personal choice is the classic Lime, Basil and Mandarin, but pretty much all of their flavours give off an amazing scent that will have your guests oo-ing and mmm-ing all night! Buy yours online here.
|Even the packaging is sumptuous!|
Photo AlbumsI can't remember the last time I took a film to be developed or even saw a disposable camera! With so many of us now using digital cameras and sharing picture through social media, I think fewer and fewer of us have hard copies of our memories. There's something quite special about sitting on the couch and laughing with friends over a glass of wine as you remind yourselves of terrible haircuts and outfits that shouldn't have ever been designed... ever!
I can't stand clutter, but a couple of albums grouped together like these Anna Bilton Crocodile Embossed Leather Photo Albums offer an ideal way to showcase your treasured pictures and decorate your coffee table with a chic edge.
CushionsNo couch, bed or chair is complete without a pile of decorative cushions added to it! I love Catherine Tough's Creature Cushions that come with appliqued chicks, sausage dogs or owl designs!
|Too cute to resist!|
Elemis Bath Milk
If you like to drown yourself in luxury then look no further then Elemis Milk Bath. Pouring a few drops of this heavenly scent into a hot bath will have you relaxed and smelling gorgeous in no time. You can also apply it directly to the skin - it's great if you suffer from dry skin and is also said to help eczema and psoriasis.
Elemis marked their 20th anniversary with this rather sumptuous limited edition glass decanter. Being a fan of the product I had to have this large bottle adorning my bathroom shelf, and now I just top up the decanter with the bath milk as and when it runs out. If you're a fan grab one here before they're all gone!
When it's cold outside and you're snuggled up indoors with the dog and Channing Tatum or Ashton Kutcher on your screen, every girl (and most men - not that they'd admit to it!) needs a cosy throw to balance one's chocolate on and tuck in one's tootsies. I love this Biba one that even has a leather carrier should it require transporting to a friend's house!
FlowersI love having flowers in the house, and really think they add a freshness that no amount of Febreeze or wide open windows could add up to.
Changing flowers every week started off as being a fun element to the weekly shop, but chucking out endless amounts of dead tulips and washing dirty vases soon became pretty arduous - not to mention pretty expensive!
I found some fantastic artificial flowers in Selfridges, and these rather handsome Hydrangeas adorn my dining table week in week out! And the only attention they require is a little dusting every now and again!
|At almost £18 each they're not exactly cheap - but they won't be dying on you anytime soon!|