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16 posts from April 2011

29 April 2011

Separated At Birth – Zara Phillips’ Hat

 

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                                Zara Phillips’ Hat                                                                                          Satellite Dish

It’s the obvious comparison of course, and in fact this was one of my favourite hats of the day, but this is just in case anyone in the Abbey couldn’t work out why the service was being constantly interrupted by garbled Chinese porn films and messages from outer space.

I also love how the Queen’s next grandson-in-law-to-be looks like such a thug, albeit a very jovial one.

Separated At Birth – Chelsy Davy

 

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                       Next royal bride Chelsy Davy                                                        Busty barmaid Bet Lynch

 

Prince Harry’s date and the potential next royal bride Chelsy Davy is a dead ringer for Bet Lynch. That’ll mean beans to any American readers, but suffice it to say that she was the busty ‘tart with a heart’ barmaid in Britain’s long running soap opera Coronation Street.

Random Wedding Thoughts – Victoria Beckham

 

It seems that poor dear not-particularly-especially-in-this-company-Posh Spice is so deranged by pregnancy hormones that she forgot to remove her gown after going to the hair salon to have her pony tail clipped on.

 

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Luckily for us, that means we can copy what she wore to the wedding for a mere £14.99 from Amazon. She’s also clearly of the opinion that if she slapped on enough eyeliner, fake tan and ridiculous shoes, we’d forget she was in her third trimester.

Nope, didn’t work for me either.

Hat was one of Philip Treacy’s better efforts on the day. But what’s with the hew-fangled ‘unicorn’ style of hat wearing nowadays? The Minx and I thought it was hilarious.

Royal Wedding Random Thoughts – The Cake

 

I’m super tired and still childishly excited – the family had a ton of fun watching the festivities in bed last night – but I’ll be posting up a few random thoughts throughout the day today. All in all I thought the whole thing was a stunning success, made me proud to be British and more homesick than I can possibly describe.  It’s London I miss, God love that huge, dirty, smelly, GLORIOUS city. 

I’ll get to the dress later on, but first up I wanted to share some pictures of the cake – one of the most stunning examples of the cakemaker’s art I’ve ever seen.

 

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Just look at that exquisite craftsmanship and incredible attention to detail. I have no idea how they could bear to cut into it.

 

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“The wedding cake, designed by Fiona Cairns, is made from 17 individual fruit cakes (12 of which form the base) and has eight tiers. The cake has been decorated with cream and white icing using the Joseph Lambeth technique. There are up to 900 individually iced flowers and leaves of 17 different varieties decorated on the cake. A garland design around the middle of the cake matches the architectural garlands decorated around the top of the Picture Gallery in Buckingham Palace, the room in which the cake will be displayed.

 

And yes, it was a fruit cake which can, contrary to most American opinion it seems, be utterly delicious.

   

They’re Getting Married in the Morning

 

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On the night of Charles and Diana’s wedding I had gone with a bunch of teenage friends to see the fireworks in Hyde Park.  It was a warm July night and London was en fete. 

I’d promised my mother faithfully that we’d get the last bus back, but after the fireworks were over and we’d squashed through the gates of the park with thousands of other people, it became obvious that there was no hope of making it home. I remember having to queue for ages outside an old-fashioned red phone box to give her the news that no, I wouldn’t be coming home, and yes, we’d be spending the night out on the street.

We found a space with a pretty good view on the Strand near St Clement Danes (the Oranges and Lemons church) and sat down on the pavement to wait out the night. My overriding memory is of how happy and good- humoured people were – everyone, even the police officers, laughing and joking, cheering every little incident, letting small kids get to the front, sharing food with people (ie. us) who had brought none. 

What we saw was nothing like what you see on telly -  just the procession trotting past us in one direction and back again the other way. There were no screens and the ceremony itself was relayed over speakers. Diana’s dress was crammed into the carriages and we hardly knew what it was like until we saw it later on TV. And yet it was one of the best nights and days of my life.

I so wanted to be in London for this day, but couldn’t make it work.  If you’re there give London a kiss and a hug from me, I’ve been so terribly homesick this week and watching the beginnings of the coverage is making my heart ache.. I’ll be staying up all night watching the coverage in bed with the Minx, wearing pyjamas and my big wedding hat.  The Minx has her favourite princess costume and tiara all picked out. There’s champagne, the fixings for a full English breakfast and and Prince William’s favourite chocolate biscuit cake in the fridge and I’ll be Tweeting up a storm, come and  find me on @mirrormirrorxx

But it won’t be the same. Sniff.

27 April 2011

Blossom Watch

 

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Cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry clafoutis, cherry cheesecake

 

I’m back! Did you miss me? Sorry, I disappeared so abruptly.  I got all caught up in preparations for our trip to Del Mar and Dana Point in Southern California, then we went on the trip, which was very lovely indeed thankyouverymuch and now I’m back in rainy Seattle.

Blossom watch was a complete bust.  I thought the tree would be fully out before we left, but the incredibly cold and rainy spring we’re having here meant that it didn’t bloom properly until we were away.

Here’s a pic from today though. Here’s hoping that this spring warms up soon so that these get a chance to turn into cherries. 

14 April 2011

Blossom Watch 2011 – Day 3

 

Looking promising.

 

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13 April 2011

Royal Wedding Souvenirs – Food

 

So I’ve been collecting links like crazy and am going to be boring you silly this week with a veritable parade of Royal Wedding memorabilia.  First up is food to get you in the mood for the big day.

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UK biscuit (cookie) bakers the Biscuiteers, have come up with a delightful Special Edition tin of biscuits, featuring crowns, glass coaches, tiered wedding cakes, flags, shoes, engagement rings, dresses and cathedrals. I would SO be buying this if I lived in the UK.

 

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Brighton-based cake designers Choccywoccydoodah produced this incredible take on their signature wedding cake to celebrate the event.

 

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Nottingham-based Castle Rock Brewery has created a special beer aptly called Kiss Me Kate for the occasion.

 

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German-based Donkey Products has created a lovely pair of KaTEA and William teabags, showing Kate in her wedding dress wearing an enormous sapphire and wallowing in oodles of cash.

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Poor girl has however got some very formidable inlaws to contend with though.

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Finally, for those of Stateside who also want wedding cookies then Eleni’s has also created a wedding cookie assortment featuring British icons, tiaras, engagement rings, horses and the bride and groom themselves.

 

 

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Or instead of commemorative china, you can buy cookies in the shape of commemorative plates, which seems to me to be much the best option. Also available from Eleni’s.

 

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More Royal Wedding stuff later this week.

12 April 2011

Blossom Watch 2011

 

It’s that time of year again, albeit about a month later than last year on account of the cold, wet and generally crappy spring we’ve been having here, but it seems that our enormous cherry tree is about to burst into flower again.

This is dedicated to all of you who don’t have 100 year old cherry trees in your back gardens.

 

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11 April 2011

Sweet View

 

These Sweet View prints by artist Jack Noel are really resonating with me this morning.  Over the last couple of years I’ve been gently researching my family tree on my father’s side and it seems I’m a Londoner as far back as I can trace – at least seven generations to silkweavers in Spitalfields and Bethnal Green; chairmakers and cabinetmakers in Brentford and bookbinders and stationers near the Strand.

This series of prints shows London as it’s lived by Londoner -  not the hackneyed tourist images but ‘views of the crossroads, markets and hidden squares that provide the true backdrop to a life in London”. So far he’s done six of the inner London boroughs, with another six to come later this year.

 

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Hackney  The view shows St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch (the famous ‘Oranges & Lemons’ church) – generations of my family were christened and married here.

 

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Tower Hamlets (Columbia Road Market)

 

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Westminster (I love how this is a corner of Trafalgar Square without a view of Nelson’s Column)

 

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Southwark (Borough Market)

 

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Wandsworth

 

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Really hoping he does a view of Notting Hill for Kensington & Chelsea.

08 April 2011

And the Winner Is!

 

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The winner of the beautiful Shabby Apple dress is AmyShe made comment number 5 as drawn by the cold heartless random number generator.  Have fun wearing your dress in San Francisco.

If you weren’t lucky enough to win, then remember that Shabby Apple has offered mirrormirror readers a 10% coupon code. Just enter mirrormirror10off at checkout.

Congratulations again to Amy. I have sent you an email telling you how to claim your prize.

07 April 2011

Recipe of the Week – Scones and Clotted Cream

 

I think we’ve talked about his before, but American dairy products are different.  Butter is less rich, and the creams have less fat content and, to my great chagrin, thick spoonable, dollop-able creams (I adore the word ‘dollop’) just don’t exist. And nor does clotted cream.

 

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This thick spreadable 55% fat cream is even quite difficult to find in London – it’s a speciality of England’s West Country, and should ideally be consumed in a little teashop somewhere in either Devon or Cornwall at a table heaving with flimsy bits of chintzy china and mismatching embroidered napkins.

I haven’t been able to track it down at all in the US, but last month on our trip to Vancouver, I was thrilled to see it offered as part of the afternoon tea at the Shangri-La, and even more thrilled to be given some as a gift by Stéphane, the world’s loveliest concierge. This month, the wonderful Viv made a return trip to the Shangri-La and came back bearing more clotted cream from Stéphane. Truly I am lucky in my friends.

 

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Clotted cream should be eaten with freshly made, billowy soft, barely sweet scones. It’s taken me a long time to track down a decent scone recipe but this one from the BBC website is really good. It uses buttermilk, which is slightly unusual,  but gives the scones a delightful airiness and slight bite.

Ingredients

225g (1 2/3 cups) self-raising flour (if you can’t get self raising make your own by adding 1tsp of baking powder to 1 cup of flour).

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

1 pinch of salt

50g (3.5 tbsp) chilled butter

25g (1tbsp) caster or baker’s sugar

2 handfuls sultanas (golden raisins) optional

125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

4 tbsps milk

A little extra flour for rolling and dusting

Preheat the oven to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 7. Butter a baking sheet.

Take a big mixing bowl and add the flour, baking soda, salt and butter. Chop at the butter roughly with kitchen scissors or a knife, and then rub it into the flour. Aim for a reasonably fine crumb but don’t rub it in too much or the scones will be dry.  Remember to lift your hands high in the air while you’re doing this to aerate the mixture.

Stir in the sugar.  I added two handfuls of golden raisins (sultanas) at this stage. They’re entirely optional or else you could also use normal raisins or currants.  Don’t use too many or you’ll weigh the mixture down.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in nearly all of the buttermilk and milk. Stir the mix with a spatula until the milk is absorbed and then bring it all together with your hands. The dough should be very soft, almost sticky. Use the last remaining buttermilk and milk to bring together all the flaky bits at the bottom of the bowl if necessary.  Use a light touch at this stage.

Dump the dough on a lightly floured work service. Knead just enough to get rid of any cracks and then pat it down gently until it’s a least an inch (2.5cm) thick.  Take a round cutter – the size is up to you, I tend to make mini ones, and cut out your scones. The cutter makes a delightful sighing sound as it pushes through the dough. Gather up the trimmings,  pat together again and cut again until all your dough is used up. You should have enough for around 5-6 large scones or 10 mini ones.

Here are my little honey bunches excitedly waiting to go into the oven.

 

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Dust with flour and bake in the oven for around 10-12 minutes until risen and golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Serve as soon after baking as possible with jam and a generous dollop of clotted cream.  Strawberry jam is traditional but I used the very last of last year’s cherry jam from our tree and they were incredibly delicious

I always serve mine the Cornish way with the cream on top. Apparently Devonians put the cream first and then the jam. This is supposedly the subject of much fierce debate in the West Country.

My awesome red spotty teapot is from Rosanna Inc (which I didn’t know was a Seattle-based company) via discount site RueLala. If you still haven’t signed up for lots of lovely bargains, here’s an invitation.

05 April 2011

Things I Am Loving – Alessi Tigrito Cat Bowl

 

I promise that I’ve completely stopped buying expensive cat accessories, though I’ve been horribly tempted by the Tigrito Cat Bowl by Alessi, mostly because, with its grey fur and white paws,  it looks so much like Flora.

 

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It does however cost $90. so let’s just admire it from afar, shall we? (Though it appears to be on sale via Amazon in the UK).

Instead, here is a picture of the real thing, looking rather nonplussed by the fake Tootsie Roll cat poop we made to play an April Fool trick on the Minx. It worked like a dream, particularly when the Husband ‘cleaned it up’ and started licking it. Never have you seen such a grossed out six year old.

 

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Truly if you ever need to make fake poop, Tootsie Rolls are your friends (sorry, I don’t think there’s an equivalent in the UK). Just a few seconds in the microwave and a bit of sculpting required.

   

04 April 2011

KK Outlet Wedding Plates

 

There’s twenty four days to go until the Royal Wedding, so I’m continuing our round up of rather brilliant souvenirs. In fact you’ve all been sending through such fabulous links I’ll put together a proper round up post in the next day or two.

In the meantime, these plates are extremely special and deserve a post of their own. London-based communications and creative agency/gallery KK Outlet commissioned up and coming designers to create a collection of unofficial commemorative china for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  They’re available online here and they’ll ship all over the world.

 

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02 April 2011

They Draw And Cook

 

As you know, I aspire – with varying degrees of success – to do a little food photography. To my mind recipes just aren’t complete without pictures.

On They Draw And Cook  Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell. a brother and sister team, together with sundry other wonderfully talented artists, have put together the web’s biggest collection of illustrated recipes. Aren’t these exquisite? Looks like there are some great recipes too.

Photography suddenly seems very passé.

 

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{via Helen at Countryside Wedding}

01 April 2011

Giveaway! Beautiful Shabby Apple Dress

 

It’s Spring and this not-so-young woman’s fancies are lightly turning to getting the heck out of rainy, cold and miserable Seattle and going somewhere warm and sunny in Europe instead.

 

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Fortunately for all of us dreaming of summer, the lovely peeps at Shabby Apple have very generously offered to give away one of their delightful summer dresses to mirrormirror blog readers.  After much humming and haaahing (sp?) I have chosen this cute ‘Trevi Fountain’ dress worth $78 a) because the pics make me want to go back and live in Rome and b) because I think the cut and colour will be flattering on lots of people.

 

Capture Cffsapture

 

There are four different ways to enter the competition and everyone can enter up to four times.  Just make sure you tell me how you’ve entered in a comment below. The competition closes at midnight Pacific Standard Time and I’ll use a random number generator to draw the winning entry as soon as I wake up on Thursday 7th April.

If you win you’ll be able to choose your size and the dress will be shipped directly to you from Shabby Apple if you live in the US. If you live elsewhere, I’ll have it delivered here and then ship it out for FREE, so everyone in the UK and beyond can enter too. And if you aren’t lucky enough to win, Shabby Apple has provided the coupon code mirrormirror10off, so we can all get 10% off at the store.

Below are the different ways to enter. Remember you can enter all four ways as long as you leave a comment telling me how you’ve entered below.

1) Leave a comment below saying if and where you’re thinking of heading on vacation/holiday this summer

2) ’Like’ mirrormirror on Facebook  (leave a comment below saying you’ve done this)

3) ‘Like’ Shabby Apple on Facebook (leave a comment below saying you’ve done this)

4) Tweet the following:  I’ve just entered to win a beautiful Shabby Apple summer dress. You can too!http://is.gd/lkSbhM  (And leave a comment below saying you’ve Tweeted).

Buona fortuna!

Update: If you’ve already ‘liked’ mirrormirror or Shabby Apple on Facebook just let me know in the comments and that can count as an entry too. Oh and make sure you mention each entry in a separate comment.