May the 4th be with you

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

– Yoda

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Comfort

I definitely need some inspiration on a gray and uninviting day like today.  So I gathered together some sparkly words of wisdom.

 

“Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong.
Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”

-Paul Coelho

 

“Live Long and Prosper”

– Leonard Nimoy

“Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens to the which our wills are gardeners.”

-Shakespeare (Othello)

Elf Woman

I have been mulling all day over an appropriate and aptly inspirational quote or saying about women for International Women’s Day…but after reflection and discussion…I don’t want a quote for today.  I want every day to be a day to celebrate women and being a woman.  Why should it be restricted to one day?

I do not think men should feel pushed out or left out because of this either.  We are all equal…if this is to be true and evident in our lives then let’s make it so.  Then, women should be celebrated and respected in all that we do in every day that we are.  And yes, we do need the international day to remind us, and spur us on… but that does not mean we stop thinking about it for the rest of the year.

London’s best Burgers!!

Burgers. The king of fast food, and now the king of the gourmet fast food. There are so many choices when a hunger for a burger kicks in, where do you start? I love a burger and have narrowed it down to my favourite three in London and I am sharing these with you.

3. Honky Tonk
This American style dinner does burgers, hot dogs and cocktails. I go for the chicken burger here, its well-proportioned, the bun is a brioche bun which is soft and adds a sweetness. There is lots of filling and everything is well flavoured and compliments each other. Mr Elf has a beef burger and there is a little bit of slip and slide going on but he is very happy with the taste.

2. Blues Kitchen
These guys have a few restaurants now, and are spreading across London. They are always beautiful inside and really do feel lovely to be in. The menu is compact but there is a burger special that changes every month. I opt of the cheese burger. It is well formed, delicious, not too much cheese and everything tastes fresh. Blues Kitchen have a range of their own sauces as well I used the BBQ ketchup and it was perfect. There is a good bun to burger ratio and it is not over cheesed.

Coming in at number one…the one… the only…

1. Honest Burger 
Ah…what can I say to sum up an Honest Burger. It is a wonderful thing of beauty. Be warned after trying one of these…no burger will live up to them. The patty is perfectly seasoned and cooked to order, it’s juicy and tender. The signature burger, The Honest, is wonderful. I know we are talking burgers, but the chips at Honest are also just divine! Crispy, hot, covered in Rosemary and some how tasting like summer.  Everything perfectly balanced, fresh and just amazing.

A special mention that is not in London but in Windsor is Flaming Cow.  Beautiful and unusual burgers a definite contender for the crown!  The Red Neck is a thing of wonder.

Wedding readings

 

We wanted to share our wedding reading with you as we love this piece of writing. I have also included some extras that we did not chose but loved as well.

XV. “Two bubbles in a crystal bowl appear”

Two bubbles in a crystal bowl appear
Born separately: round the opposing rims
Each for awhile in a charmed circle swims,
And shuns the other’s touch, as if in fear.
A gold-fish rising breaks the mimic mere;
A thwart tide, traversing the surface, dims
The placid water: from the distant brims
The bubbles swept together are one sphere!
They might have perished singly; might have known
Life but not love, and living separate
Have ceased imperfect, sundered mate from mate;
And thou and I have walked the world alone,
And died so, if the strong storm had not blown
That swept us hither on the tides of fate.

 

Other lovely readings that we also love.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love – I have found you. You are my sympathy – my better self – my good angel; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you – and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.”

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being ‘in love’, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”

The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James

“It has made me better loving you… it has made me wiser, and easier, and — I won’t pretend to deny — brighter and nicer and even stronger. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I didn’t have them. Theoretically I was satisfied, as I once told you. I flattered myself I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid, sterile, hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.”

We would love you to suggest your favorites or recommendations.

xx

 

Bread!

Inspired by Bake Off?  Bubbling with anger over the changes that are to come?  Or just fancy a bit of a bake… why not have a try at this super simple bread recipe.

I’m feeling a little heart ache that my favourites are no longer going to be part of Bake Off… so to plug that gap I am trying to bake myself some bread.  I’ve never done this without the aid of a machine or sourdough starter.  After a little research I come up with what seems to be an easy to follow simple recipe for a white loaf and given it a little tweak.


Ingredients

500g plain white flour (you will need a little bit extra for dusting)

1 tsp salt

7g fast-action yeast

3 tbsp olive oil

300ml warm water

1.5 tbsp poppy seeds

 

Method

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Create a small well in the centre and add the oil and the water, make sure the water is warm not hot.

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Tip onto a floured bench.  Knead the dough until it is smooth and soft.  Flour a proofing basket, or place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl.  Leave to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

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Knock back the dough.  If you haven’t done this before, the aim is to remove the larger air bubbles, I like to gently pull the edges of the dough into the middle and press in.  Line a baking tray with baking paper, shape the dough into a ball and place on the tray.  Leave to rise for a further hour or until doubled in size.

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Heat your oven to 220c or gas mark 7.  Make sure the oven is hot before you put the dough into the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a nice golden crust and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.

Cool on a wire rack…or cut right in!

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My favourite place for recipes is the BBC Good Food site, have a look and get inspired.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes

 

I love the smell of proofing bread!  It is homely, warm and almost as good as the finished thing!  Take a moment to enjoy this moment, it’s a thing of beauty that we have managed to create this wonderful reaction.

I spread butter and vegemite on my bread whilst it is warm and…it….is…. wonderful.  even if I am blowing my own trumpet.

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Don’t feel you have to stick to poppy seeds, you could sprinkle pumpkin seeds on the top before you bake, or mix in some dried tomatoes and basil.  Or try a sweet option, maybe some honey or dried cherries.  Delicious!

 

7 Destination Wedding tips

We have had a few questions following our blog about the wedding so thought it would be easiest to answer them here.

Here are the things we think you need to think about before booking your destination wedding.

  1. Think about what you want. It sounds simple but really have a think about what you want as a couple, who do you want to be there, what do you want from the day.  All these things add up, and in the heat of the moment booking that flight to Vegas might seem the perfect way out of table planning or cutlery choices.  Take time to think about what you are choosing.

  1. Destination weddings are perfect if you (and your family) are prepared to step back and let things happen. If you pick a location be aware places like Thailand work on Thai time.  Perfect for some, okay for others and a disaster for those who like to be in control.  Ideally pick a location you have been to before, that way you have more of an idea of the culture and organisation you are likely to experience (this is advice we didn’t listen too).  Also if you have dreamt up your perfect flower arrangements and table decorations as an eight-year-old playing dress up…do reflect carefully before paying the deposit.  You are not likely to be able to get involved in the intricacies of the planning, flowers are normally what is available and in season, table settings are normally chosen from a small list of options, you are unlikely to hear the band play before the actual day…all these things add up!

  1. Give your guests as much notice as you can. Go against tradition, never mind how many weeks you are supposed to give for save the dates, invitations.  We saved money by skipping save the dates and sent out invitations with all the information with a 12 months’ notice.  Even if you have been planning for a while, trips abroad take time to arrange especially if your friends and family are spread out or have children.  The more time you give people the more people are likely to be there.

  1. That being said…be sensible about how many people you invite! If your guests are traveling around the world to be with you, you want to be able to spend time with everyone, before, after and during the big day.  We only invited 55-60 people and 40 made it on the day.  40 is still a big number of people for a destination wedding (big families).  Also remember less people will save money, which means more savings to spend on fun activates with your guests.  We spend a day on a boat, went on scooter rides, had meals out, went to a local dancing, cooking classes which is not possible with a huge guest list.

  1. Think about the dress. I know this seems an early stage to be thinking about this…but if you know what dress you want and it involves a cathedral train or big full skirt…think about the destination and how practical it is to get your dress to your location!

  1. Pick a hotel with good communication. I can’t stress this enough.  The Kala and Fern the wedding planner we had were amazing.  Everything was arranged via email and the replies were swift and well explained.  You don’t want to be waiting a week to hear back with an answer to simple questions.  This will only increase stress levels and decrease the enjoyment running up to the day.

  1. Out of season bookings. We decided to save money by booking in the off season (just outside of the peak tourist season for Koh Samui) which was a calculated risk.  September is the rainy season, although we arrived in August and it was already raining.  This did create some anxiety and there were times that make us consider if this had been a horrible mistake.  However, the actual day had a massive thunderstorm about a two hours before the ceremony but then the sun came out.  I think it was worth the money we saved and the hotel had a contingency plan, however, it certainly raised nerve levels if this is going to ruin your time, the savings might not be worth it.

  1. We were sneaky and chose, booked and paid the deposit on our wedding including the date before we announced to family and friends. It seems mean, but it stopped 100% of the possible arguments about dates, locations ect.  I would recommend this option but it is what worked for us, it might not work for you.