I know it’s not glamorous, or trendy or even expensive but I find there to be something incredibly comforting in a simple bowl of bubble and squeak.
For the uninitiated – maybe you were raised by wolves? – bubble and squeak is basically leftover potatoes and vegetables, mashed up and gently fried until crispy and golden. It is often served after a roast dinner – using up remaining vegetables, and is a staple at Christmas time in the days following Christmas, when it is delicious served alongside all those cold meats that hang around for weeks!
It was served a lot during World War Two when rationing meant families had to work hard to make small amount of food last across several meals and very little went in the bin. I find that kind of thinking very appealing and hate to throw any foodstuffs away – I’m always looking for recipes that used the leftover, the dogeared and the slightly stale.
I love my bubble and squeak with a big dollop of brown sauce and veggie sausages. How do you take yours?
Back in June I asked three ladies to do me the honour of being my bridesmaids. I did this, for some reason, in the style of Lily Allen:
I chose my little cousin Molly, my sister Jess and one of my best and most long standing friends Iso.
Due to the different ages and heights of my bridesmaids I decided to go with a fairly plain and classic dress that I knew would suit all of hem and would be quite comfortable on the day. A quick look at Lindy Bop ‘s website left in me in no doubt that Audrey would be the right lady for the vintage look I was trying to achieve!
I initially though about having all my bridesmaids in polka dots but in the end I decide just to put Molly in spots and let my two senior bridesmaid rock a classic colour. I teamed the dresses up with this lovely royal blue petticoat:
I decided to leave the finer details of footwear to the Brideys to organise and made my final job to buy them white pashmina each and a Tatty Devine name necklace!
As usual lovely Flo Westbrook has done us proud with some images!
I’m very happy with the quality of the dresses and petticoats. I ironed my sister’s dress and the cotton was a nice thick material that held a pressing well. They looked lovely with petticoats under them and I didn’t hear any complaints from the girls about the petticoats although I know they can take a bit of getting used to! The two blue dresses were purchased in the January sale and only cost about eighteen pounds each. All in all the Audrey was a thrifty and gorgeous choice and I think my ladies looked fab in them!
I can’t imagine having spent my day with any other ladies!
The day after our wedding we woke up in our boutique hotel room, had nice showers in L’Occitane smellies and then, feeling rather tired, headed for home, after picking up cards and gifts left at our venue.
We made a pot of tea and sat down to open all these lovely messages and then tried to make room for as many things as possible on our mantelpiece. We had said that we didn’t need gifts but many of our friends and family gave us money or things they knew we’d love anyway and we felt totally overwhelmed by their generosity.
Our lovely P&P has pride of place and a selection of cards shows just a little of the love we received. That’s my bouquet on the right – lovely gypsophilia and freesia and little pearls!
We were grateful to receive these little instruction manuals too. They’re very informative.
With the support of Ladybird books I’m sure this will be a long and fruitful Union! Must say we loved leafing through these and giggling – what a fab sense of humour the people at Ladybird have!
I’m married! (Although you may have picked that up!)
The Dr and I tied the knot on the 31st of March and had a blissful day. I have lots of things to tell you about the day but I’m going to spread it out over a few blog posts, starting today with the most important thing: my outfit!
I tried on various dresses. I tried, I really did. After a distressing experience in a bridal shop a few years back I vowed I would not set foot in one again. On said occasion I was a bridesmaid and the assistant in the shop insisted on dropping dresses over my head that were several sizes too small (‘just to see’), shoved her hands up my skirt to help my into the dress and then paraded me around in front of the shop window with half my back hanging out of the dress. Or at least that’s how it felt to me. I was much bigger back then, had zero body confidence and didn’t own any dresses…
Luckily, 2016 finds me several sizes smaller and much more in tune with my feminine side. I didn’t visit any bridal boutiques, I met with Gilly from Gilly-Leigh’s Vintage and PreLoved Wedding Gowns and tried on a few of her vintage gowns but, as is the nature of vintage, she just didn’t have anything that was quite right at the time. She was lovely though and has an ever expanding range of dresses, so give her a look if that’s your bag.
I’ve been following Vivien of Holloway for some time now on Facebook and loved their bridal range. I sent for and tried on both the Grace and Duchess dresses.
After some deliberation (and sending my mum selfies in both dresses) I decided Grace, with her snug waistline, wrap detailing and partial sleeves was a more ‘grown up’ look. I also thought Grace would show off the fact that, with a bit of help, I can have a tiny waist!
I should admit at this point that before I even bought a dress I had purchased these delicate beauties from Irregular Choice.
I later relented, admitted I couldn’t really walk in them and they might make me just fractionally taller than the Dr, and bought the same style of shoes in a kitten heel.
My next idea I cherry-picked from blogger Georgina Horne as she looked so lovely on her big day.
I fell in love with George’s petticoat and decided to add a splash of colour to my outfit in the same way. Luckily the fabric in my Irregular Choice shoes perfectly matched the teal petticoat I bought from Vivien of Holloway.
The dress and petticoat covered my ‘Something new’ and ‘Something blue’ and I figured a simple string of pearls might be a good look, so the vintage pearls that the Dr’s Mum gave me covered my ‘Something old’.
I borrowed a ring from my sister and completed the quartet.
The next question was what shape wear would give me the smooth lines I desired. I’ve lost lots of weight, but still have some jelly rolls on my tummy which get in the way of lots of clothing choices.
This Waspie Glamour Nouveau from What Katie Did did a perfect job and was relatively comfortable. By the end of the night I was feeling the need to remove it, I will admit, but it’s shape wear – it needs to be snug and it did make me look very smooth.
So here’s the overall look! More on hair and make up to come!
I’ve only had a few finished images from lovely photographer Flora Westbrook but they look amazing and they show off my outfit very well! I’ll be sharing more, have no doubt!
It is with something old, new, borrowed and blue I say:
Inspiration for my cake is probably down to one lady : Nikki McWilliams. I’ve loved Nikki’s biscuity goodies since I found her on Folksy several years ago. Since then she’s gone pro with the biscuit empire and her range of goodies has increased, tempting me each time.
I love her range because it takes me back to a time when a custard cream could solve most any problem. Grazed knee? I prescribe a Bourbon biscuit. Wasp sting? Jammie Dodger. And so on.
People pay crazy money for wedding cakes, so as a keen baker I pretty soon began trying to figure out if I was up to making my own. Mother in Law Barbara – who’s an amazing baker – was knocking up a three tiered beauty for her neighbour’s daughter when we were up North at Christmas and she assured me I could definitely make my own. She lent me a cake tin, gave me an icing smoothing tool and talked me through the finer points of buttercream.
I found this recipe on BBC Good Food and it had lots of good ratings and tips on how to make it. I felt confident I could make and ice three cakes – but what about the decoration?
Then comes my friend Becca, who bought me these British biscuit cutters for Christmas because they “Screamed Polly at me!”
The minute I saw them I knew my design was ready to go!
I think I found the cake the most stressful part of the wedding! It had to be left until close to the day and I am not a last minute person. The bottom tier chocolate cake was an enormous mixture and climbed out of the tin, the middle lemon layer did not rise anywhere near enough to be sliced into three and the little top layer fruit cake seemed a bit stodgy despite extra time in the oven. Then I had to ice all three layers and hope I didn’t mess it up too much.
The cookie cutters were great and the detailing was perfect. I used Renshaw’s icing for the bourbons and it had a lovely rich chocolatey taste.
The design in my head was very simple, just a layer of biscuit shapes around the bottom of each tier and a specially customised cushion from Nikki McWilliams on the top.
That bottom layer of chocolate cake was so dense that those two tiers alone weighed a tonne! I had to enlist help to carry it to the car…
I delivered it to the venue, explained how to fit it together and handed over my special topper.
Here it is, beautifully captured by Flora Westbrook! That one wonky Bourbon upsets me – it wasn’t wonky when it left my house, it’s a good job I’m not a perfectionist! I finished my top tier with little hearts and a gold bourbon. I love Nikki’s cushion – it sets it off perfectly and brings in our new surname perfectly!
We chopped it up and it was served as dessert – I was determined it was going to get eaten given all the headaches it had caused me! Wedding cake is so expensive and seems so often to go to waste. I had good reviews and the fruit cake in particular had a beautiful flavour. I’m proud of it and for a first attempt at anything like that I think it went pretty well.
In honour of my Hen Do I decided to have another go at a Wet Set. For the uninitiated, a wet set is a method of curling your hair using rollers. You know in old films you see housewives with their hair in curlers, wrapped in a headscarf? That’s a wet set in progress. Wives would have their hair in curlers all day and whip them out and style their hair quickly just before their husbands came home from work. I’m not sure why they bothered as, if 1940s husbands were anything like the Dr (my fella), they probably wouldn’t have noticed if their wives had a scooped out pineapple on their head!
I did have a go at a wet set when my hair was a bit shorter here but not for any event, just for fun.
I had some help from bloggers By Gum By Golly and Retro Chick and I grabbed all the equipment I needed from Superdrug and Boots. I’m still learning but I love the effects and I think I might try and do a few more over the next couple of months and see if I can perfect a technique that works for my hair.
I decided to add some curls as part of my Hen Do prep. I had the house to myself so I had a nice long bath, opened a bottle of Babycham, washed and conditioned my hair and then put my hair up in curlers with a spritz of Setting lotion.
I used sponge rollers and then put my hair up in a cotton scarf. I don’t mind sleeping in curlers actually – some people find it very disruptive. I found them less annoying than the Dr’s snoring!!
The next morning they were all still there – I have been known to tear unruly rollers out in my sleep!
This is the point at which I got very excited, cos: CURLS!
I combed the curls through gently with my fingers and teased through a smudge of Boots Curl Creme. I added a beautiful spray of orchids from Uptown Curls and I was good to go!
I was very happy. And I definitely prefer it to a scooped out pineapple. The Dr has yet to comment on it…
My stained glass bunny was a present from my Mum and came from Jenny Newall it’s really lovely and I’d definitely recommend a look at this seller – I love a bit of handmade, as you know!
I finished the whole look off with a big jug of Spring flowers which always spells Easter to me! Hope you had a lovely Easter – mine was eclipsed a little by my wedding which fell a few days later, but we did squeeze in a roast chicken dinner with my sister and a few chocolate eggs! More on the wedding soon!
It involves a roast, a musical and Easter nests. This year I roasted a chicken for the carnivores and I made a hot cross bun bread and butter pudding for dessert. Then we relaxed on the sofa with My Fair Lady and a bottle of prosecco.
My sister had told me I’d need to wear one of my retro dresses for my Hen weekend.
A quick look through my wardrobe gave me lots of options but in the end I plumped for this Myrtle dress from Lindy Bop. I bought this a little while back and haven’t yet had an opportunity to wear it. I bought it because I loved the print – that combination of turquoise squares and pink roses was a winner as far as I was concerned.
I also loved the lapel detail – what an unusual shape at the bust, with some button features too.
I teamed my myrtle up with some mid heel Trinkletina shoes from Irregular Choice. I’ve had them ages and the blue and pink floral fabrics are so cute! They were a good match. A pink cardi from H&M and I was good to go.
Myrtle is a great shape and this size 14 dress fits my torso perfectly, really nipping me in at the waist. It’s a good weight and I love the bust detailing. It looked fab with a petticoat and was comfy enough for me to dance in all morning. I can’t see to find it on the Lindy Bop website but a quick Google tells me there are still lots of them for sales from other places and in a range of colours and patterns. It was the perfect dress for my Hen Do and I’ll always remember it and how good I felt in it!
It was my Hen Do this weekend and my sister had organised lots of activities she knew I’d enjoy.
We met at my house in the morning and headed over the road to a nearby Church. I was a bit puzzled by this location and wondered if I was to become a wife a few weeks early!
I needn’t have worried, we were ushered into a back room and met by Caroline who taught us an amazing 1940s style dance routine.
She was a great teacher and had the patience of a saint with me and my chicks. Amid giggles, collisions and stopping for a Mr Kipling fuelled break, she actually managed to get us all dancing in time together and the routine looked pretty good by the end!
These photos look posed but they were all taken as we danced! There’s a video on its way to us and it was a great way to start the day. I’ve discovered I’m not as bad a dancer as I thought and I even enjoyed myself!