Sexiest Bedroom

With Valentines day just around the corner I am imagining what it would be like to spend a night in one of the gorgeous rooms at London’s Blakes Hotel. Any one of these rooms would surely make your heart flutter, not to mention the Corfu Suite (top image) which was named by luxury hotel website, Mr and Mrs Smith, as the sexiest bedroom.

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all images via Blakes Hotel Website

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Christmas Fragrance Favourite

We do have a pine tree for our Christmas tree again this year, but I am about ready to give up on the traditional kiwi Christmas scent and roll in a ‘fake’ tree so that I can have a tree that doesn’t droop, have difficult decorating patches, or drop hundreds of pine needles on the carpet!

I also don’t need to worry about missing that gorgeous Christmas scent as I am already burning Crabtree and Evelyn’s delicious festive fragrance Noël in the form of a candle. With a lovely mix of sprigs of balsam and boughs of freshly picked firs, Christmas citrus and persimmons, and mulled spiced cider it brings a subtle scent evocative of past Christmas’ spent in the Northern Hemisphere, drinking mulled wine in snow capped London pubs.

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Our candle is a couple of years old now and is still going strong, the 2013 version is a 3-wick monster with 65 hours of burn time!

Have a festive weekend everyone! x

Just a wee bit excited…

about the Jo Malone boutique that has just opened here in Christchurch as a part of our department store Ballantynes.

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Jo Malone fragrances, candles and bath and body products really are divine. The scent combinations are interesting and definitely have a point of difference.  My absolute favourite fragrance (that I was generously given as a gift from a gorgeous family when I was teaching in London) is the Lime, Basil and Mandarin; fresh, with a little bit of zing, and just downright delicious!

Something from Jo Malone would be a very special gift for someone this Christmas.

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Have a fabulous weekend everyone x

Jealous Much?

Yes I am! Insanely so!

I miss living in London for a number of reasons and of course, one that nears the top of my list is the shopping! When I heard that Isabel Marant was doing a collection for H & M my envy radar went a few shades greener.

I loved to mix H & M pieces with more expensive ones, so when it was revealed that one of my favourite designers (whose pieces are a little out of my price range!) was going to have an affordable capsule collection at H & M I wanted to get on a plane and to the nearest store asap (H & M Australia opening soon!).

Here are my favourite pieces (I could quite happily have the whole kit and caboodle actually… ahhhh sigh….) from the collection that is released November 14th. To see the sneak peek of the whole collection, head on over shefinds.com

Hummingbird Bakery

One of my favourite things to do in London on the weekend was to head to Nottinghill Market and grab a cupcake from Hummingbird Bakery. Even Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan of the American style treats served up each day (though how many cupcakes Gwyneth has actually eaten herself would be interesting to know!)

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I made sure I purchased my very own copy of the Hummingbird Bakery recipe book before leaving London so I could reminisce (to a certain degree – I wouldn’t say mine are anywhere near as good as the originals!). The book includes many of their delicious cupcake, muffin, slice, pie and cake recipes and they are generally fairly easy to bake.

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Yesterday I attempted the Marshmallow Cupcakes – a vanilla cupcake with a gooey marshmallow centre and mini marshmallow filled icing! Yum!!

The recipe is relatively easy, however transferring the melted marshmallow into the cupcakes creates a bit of a sticky mess – thankfully nothing a bit of hot water can’t fix!

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Recipe (makes 12) 

  • 120 g plain/all-purpose flour
  • 140 g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 45 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 120 ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 medium pink marshmallows
  • 200 g mini marshmallows, for the frosting
  • 1 quantity Vanilla Frosting
  • edible glitter, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (325 degrees F) Gas 3.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

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Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Put the medium marshmallows in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave until melted and smooth. When the cupcakes are cold, hollow out a small section in the centre of each one and fill with a dollop of melted marshmallow. Leave to cool.

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Stir the mini marshmallows into the Vanilla Frosting by hand until evenly dispersed. (I used them as decoration instead and had only Vanilla Frosting on my cupcakes). Spoon the frosting on top of the cupcakes and decorate with edible glitter.

Vanilla Frosting 

  • 250 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • a couple of drops of vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed.

Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a little at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

Enjoy! X

Best of British

Here in NZ it is Queen’s Birthday weekend (a public holiday today)  so to celebrate I thought I would spotlight one of my favourite British fashion houses, Alexander McQueen.

I remember having only recently purchased my first piece of McQueen from Selfridges in London (the wallet in the pic below) when I heard the horrible news that Lee Alexander McQueen had committed suicide just days after the death of his beloved mother.

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Lee McQueen founded his label, worked as chief designer for Givenchy, won 4 British Designer of the Year awards, as well as the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award in 2003. His death left the fashion world reeling.

Sarah Burton, McQueen’s right hand woman, was named as the creative director given the responsibility to continue his work. She has done so well to combine the edgy tailoring that McQueen was loved for while adding a lighter, feminine touch.

Burton solidified her name as a force to be reckoned with when she was revealed to be the designer of Kate Middleton’s wedding gown in 2011. This was probably the best kept secret of the whole wedding and it was fabulous to think that royalty would support a Fashion House that had been through so much. Major kudos for a label that has  never been far from controversy.

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Spring 2013 Alexander McQueen Collection.

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The scarf emblazoned with skulls that became so coveted around the world.

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