Thursday, 21 August 2014

dancing: a scrapbook page

I have done some scrapbooking!  This is my second page this month, which is quite good going considering how little I have done this year.  Anyway, I wanted to scrap the photo that I blogged here of my man and me dancing at Maja's wedding.  I layered the picture over a selection of Project Life cards that I acquired from Studio Calico, and slipped a vellum envelope just behind the photo.  I tucked my journalling into the envelope and a glimpse of my writing can be seen, revealed through the vellum, around the side of the picture.  The story is easy to access but not completely on show, and the writing doesn't take up the whole page.  Once again, I wanted to make a feature of the title and so I handwrote and hand-cut the phrase 'the best things happen when you're dancing' and arranged it around the photo.  I really love this as a technique lately, as I think the hand-cut words look delicate and intricate, and I love that they are in my own handwriting.

I think it's important to end with a reminder to take regular cake breaks while scrapbooking. Remember, you are an athlete and you have to look after yourself.  I am choosing to tell myself this.  Therefore a cupcake filled with lemon curd and topped with meringue is not only desirable, but necessary.

Kisses xxx

P.S. That brings #500snapsofsummer up to 295 with these 9 pictures, leaving 205 still to go.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

selfies and cameras

500 snaps of summer has really made me think about potential photo opportunities and I find myself scanning my surroundings looking for interesting pictures.  In this post I've cut together pictures of neon signs snapped outside the London Lomography shop, and a series of selfies taken in the mirrors of an empty flat.  Just to clarify, I didn't break into the flat to take the pictures; we were there to take a look around as a friend will be moving in and she wanted to figure out what needed doing and measure up for furniture.

And then the best way to finish off any day is date night in a cosy pub.

Kisses xxx

P.S. That's 12 more photos for #500snapsofsummer which brings me up to 286, and 214 remaining.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

cake pop win

I have made cake pops but once before because it was on my list of things to do before I'm 30.  And you can read about it here and discover that it was a total fail. However, I am a year older now and not a jot wiser, and some lovely friends gave a cake-pop mold to help me, along with proper sticks (noticeably missing from the failed attempt) and little bags with silver ties to put them in. I received this gift back in October and this weekend I felt that I was finally able to put the pain behind me and give cake pops another chance. And here they are! I will be the first to admit that the lurid pink food colouring got away from me somewhat, but the taste was a big improvement even if the design edges towards the tastelessly twee. I made a ginger sponge, coated them in white chocolate (spread on with the back of a spoon as dipping turned out to be impossible) and topped with little pieces of honeycomb.

The reason for this sudden baking spurt was that I was due to attend the annual birthday party of my good friend Tori.  I thought they might make a nice gift.  Tori-fest happens each year at the lovely home of Tori's parents and it's always wonderful with great friends, chance to catch up and have a sleepover, lots of food and valuable swimming pool time.  Tori is currently living in Spain so I love this regular chance to get together (although she will be moving back to London soon - yay!)

Cake pops were unwrapped and consumed, and they made amusing photo props.  They are also perfectly appropriate for a post-party morning swim and help very much to distract attention from that fact that your swimming costume is still cold and wet from the previous evening's Swim-with-Pimm's.  Although even a cake pop can prove challenging when you're trying to balance on an inflatable sting-ray.

Anyway, it was a brilliant weekend (although I didn't take as many pictures as I thought I would: too much swimming fun) and I can't wait to spend more time with Tori when she returns to the big smoke.

Kisses xxx

P.S. That's 9 more pictures to add to the ever-increasing-and-not-at-all-worrying #500snapsofsummer total bringing it up to 274 with 226 still to snap.  In slightly less than a fortnight.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

summer wedding in poland

The other wonderful wedding I attended this summer was my lovely friend Maja's.  It took place in Poland one weekend in July, the week after the hen party I blogged about here.  And I was incredibly excited and honoured to be a bridesmaid!  I have discovered in myself a love for bridesmaiding and I feel a little bereft now that all the wedding excitement is over.  I tried offering my services as a bridesmaid/hen party planner to other brides-to-be that I met, especially given that I have bridesmaiding experience, but no luck.  So if you're looking for bridesmaid, do let me know!

Since I was bridesmaiding, I actually took very few pictures, so I have included one or two here taken by the official photographer, and they are really stunning. 

Maja's dress was nothing short of perfect.  And she looked absolutely beautiful.  The challenge of the day was definitely keeping the long veil pinned into place but it offset her lovely gown brilliantly.  We were also extremely pleased with the bridesmaids dresses!  The layers in the skirt swish out when dancing and after a quick check in the mirror, we worked out between us that while the top layer did fly right out, the bottom layer left us with modesty intact and no knickers on show.  The perfect amount of twirl!

The couple are both excellent dancers and have spent many hours learning Ballroom and Latin in the time I've known them.  It was a real treat to watch them dance!

One of the things I really loved about this wedding was the warmth and welcome we received in Poland.  I had met quite a few of Maja's family before on previous visits and it was lovely to see them again, but during the wedding, we were all made to feel like one big family.  The couple had gone to a lot of effort to provide us with translations and the reception had a very inclusive quality; everybody was encouraged to join in and dance and celebrate.  

It was great to experience some of the wedding traditions in another culture too!  I have often joked with Maja that I look forward to her having a big Polish wedding one day, and she didn't disappoint!  There were lots of games and traditions, and in the picture above, you can see Maja triumphantly holding up the groom's hat, having stolen it from the groom while the rest of the men tried to prevent her getting to him.  We also played an equivalent game where we ladies had to prevent the groom from stealing the garter.

Once this merriment is accomplished, the bride tosses the garter, caught by yours truly, and then the groom tosses his hat, caught by....Maja's brother.  Apparently the tradition is then that we dance together and will get married within a year.  I'm not sure if that's to each other though?

And this is the dance as the other guests look on!  And eventually the other guests cease looking on and start to steal the hat.  I'm pretty fiesty if I say so myself, and the hat spent most of the time perches on my head.  I'm an enthusiastic dancer not a talented one, and tend to succeed most when my partners shout instructions to me over the music.  In this picture, I can't remember if I'm explaining that I'm not a very good dancer, or if we were discussing the fact that when we led the wedding party down the aisle earlier in the service, we were meant to walk arm in arm and we didn't. The other bridesmaids and groomsmen behind us did.  Ooops...

It was the most amazing weekend filled with love and laughter.  My only slight sadness is that its now all over (although I will ask Maja if she would like to renew her vows on an annual basis and have regular wedding re-enactments).  It was amazing and I wish the happy couple and wonderful marriage.

Kisses xxx

P.S. Another 6 photos add onto the #500snapsofsummer count bringing it up to 265 with 235 left to snap.

P.P.S. This just scratches at the suface of the fun we had and I feel I could write pages and pages about both of the weddings I attended this summer.  Both perfect, both different and both for people I love and am so happy to count as friends.  But I think this will be if for wedding posts now.

P.P.P.S. And if anyone does need a bridesmaid...

Friday, 15 August 2014

lovecrumbs: the stuff that dreams are made of

I have finally found it: the best tea and cake shop in the world.  This is the place that I would imagine for myself if I could build my cake shop of dreams.  Or I would imagine it if I could, but I think it was actually better than any of my tea shops in the clouds. In the name of research I have investigated many an establishment in London and to stumble across my ideal in in Edinburgh was therefore a little bittersweet.  Our affair has been fleeting, but I shall never forget it.  And one day, I will return.

Let me introduce to you Lovecrumbs, a cake-only cake shop.  There's no messing around with sandwiches or light lunches here.  Just pure, unadulterated cake.  I caught sight of their chalkboard sign in the street and thought to myself what a lovely name Lovecrumbs was, but I was hurrying past on my way to a fringe show and wasn't able to investigate thoroughly for a couple of days.  Oh how I wish I had stayed then and established a more lasting aquaintance with this haven, instead of a brief flirtation.  I visited three times in my last two days in the city, but I yearn for more of their fabulous cake.

Lovecrumbs opperate an order-at-the-counter system.  In my case, it was more of a stand-near-the-counter-in-agonised-indecision system as the cakes were displayed proudly in a cupboard and on the counter.  A list was chalked up (the photo below showing only half of the available selection!) and the cakes were a mixture of deliciously traditional and intriguingly inventive.  And of course they make all their own cakes to their own recipes and the hugely varied selection changes daily.  I eventually managed to narrow my selection down to 2 kinds of cake, and determined to come back in the afternoon so that I could have both.

I took a seat among the beautifully mismatched furniture and my tea and cake were delivered. Even the tea was thoughtfully presented: leaf tea in an open tea bag, skewered through so you could balance it in your teacup.  Milk came in a variety of drink-me bottles and I was served hot water in a thermos flask so that my subsequent cuppas were just as piping hot as the first.  But it was to be said that the cake was the real star.  On my first morning, I sampled the passionfruit meringue pie, which was piled with fluffy meringue and the passionfruit cut through in a tart, but deliciously sweet way.  I know I'm gushing, but cake shop of dreams, remember?

Later that afternoon, I indulged in humminbird cake which was new to me and turned out to be a wonderful combination of banana, pineapple and pecans in a soft, moist sponge with wonderful creamy frosting.  Slurp.  And the next day, I popped in and had carrot cake.  Carrot cake is one of my absolute favourites, and therefore disappointing if it's not up to scratch.  However, I knew by then that Lovecrumbs would not let me down, and their carrot cake was devine and had walnuts and a little touch of orange in it.  I wolfed it down.  I loved everything about this place from the friendly, welcoming staff to the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.  Even though Lovecrumbs did a steady trade with plenty of people popping in and out, I never felt that I needed to rush to leave and it was a lovely place to sit and read when the rain got the better of the city.  I love that they have turned a piano with the lid down into a table, I love that you could peer into the cupboard and look at the cakes and take a hundred photos and no one minded, I love eating the cake, I love the chalk board and the pretty fairy lights... I wonder if I can live there?

Seriously: cake shop of dreams.

Kisses xxx

P.S. It seemed like the perfect time to share a cake shop given that The Great British Bake-Off is back.  And now that I'm back from Edinburgh, I can indulge and get up to date!

P.P.S. The #500snapsofsummer total is now over half way!  With these 14 photos I have now taken 259 and have 241 still to go.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

top five at the fringe

There was so much to see at the Edinburgh fringe and I found my days settled into a routine of sorts.  I wasn't pulling particularly early mornings and would leave my room around nine or ten and head into the centre.  Most of the things I saw were in the afternoons and evenings, and so I could watch all the street entertainment and collect flyers in the morning, book tickets for anything that caught my eye and collect any tickets that I had booked from hte box office.  When the weather was nice, it was lovely to be outside soaking up both the atmosphere and a large number of cups of tea.  Much of the time it rained and everyone crammed into coffee shops of under the nearest avaiable shelter.  And in fact one of the best pitches I heard was from a guy who was slouched miserably in the rain as everyone dashed passed; he was advertising his standup show which was beginning shortly, and his sales-pitch was: "Free comedy: it's warm and dry inside and there's free tea and biscuits".  Sadly I was on my way to a gig at the time.

In the afternoons and evenings I would run along to the shows I had booked, pausing occasionally to scarf down a sandwich, or a cake or some chips.  Yum!  I usually hit my last show of the night around ten thirty, and would emerge onto the streets around midnight, tired and happy, having run around for about fourteen hours in blissful excitement.  Needless to say, I slept pretty well!

For this post, I have picked out my top five performances; all of these groups I hope to catch again in the future!  Links are included along the way...

  First was Shakespeare for Breakfast, a morning show that offers all audience members a cuppa and a croissant, included in the ticket price. I'm never one to turn down free food, but while I might have gone for the breakfast, I stayed for the Shakespeare.  Each year, this company put on a fabulous Shakespeare spoof that was witty, entertaining, had the most ingenious pun and lovingly sends up all things bard.  I LOVED it and it really set me up for the day!  It's always nice to begin the morning with a good giggle.

Next on my list is He Had Hairy Hands was a wonderful play with a cast of four who managed all the roles between them.  It was a slick, blackly comic murder mystery which oozed dark humour, and I booked a ticket on a whim as someone handed me a flyer in the street.  That doesn't necessarily guarantee a great show, but in this instance, the gamble paid off.  There were loads of laughs, clever songs, ingenious staging and choreography and the whole show passed in a whirlwind of Midsomer-Murders-meets-werewolf style disaster.

I saw a number of a capella groups and there were a lot out on the streets entertaining the crowds.  But Out of the Blue, an all-male group from Oxford were my favourites.  And not just because one of these charmers serenaded me with Uptown Girl while we danced a tad awkwardly!  They are extremely talented and their music was faultless, but they also delivered a truly engaging, entertaining and downright funny performance.  In their show, the audience was right behind them and I felt like I was beaming the whole way through.  You can watch them on Youtube here doing their Shakira number - do have a watch as I guarantee it will put a smile on your face :D

My last two selections almost defy description; both were comedies and suffice to say I howled with alughter that I couldn't repress in both shows. The Pin are a sketch comedy duo who had created a perfectly formed sketch show which was beautifully surreal, awkward, endearing and most importantly, hilarious.  The show had a running theme and there was real intelligence behind the gags.  It fit my sense of humour exactly, and it was the sort of show you come out of wanting to tell people about but not being able to find the words.  It was the sort of comedy I want to take other people too and watch them watch it and laugh.

My final pick was Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare: a show that had been recommended by a friend from previous years at the Fringe.  The concept is simple: a cast a classically trained Shakespearean actors perform a cut-down version version of one of the bard's works.  This year is was Two Gentlemen of Verona.  It's cut down as they have a mere hour to deliver it.  But what makes this company different is that fact that, before the show, they get one member of the cast, selected at random, completely, utterly and rip-roaringly drunk.  And then anarchy ensues.  It's hard to describe how truly hysterical the result was, whether it was the rest of the cast manfully trying to jolly along their inebriated colleague, the inability of said colleague to remember his own lines, his propensity to abandon the show altogther and chat to the audience, saying other people's lines and just coming on to join in whenever he felt like it.  It's always impossible to explain comedy, so I'm not going to try any more; let's just say that I hardly stopped laughing.

So that's my list, but there are of course many honourable mentions: Showstoppers (a group who improvised an entire musical based on audience suggestions), Potted Sherlock (all 70 Sherlock mysteries delivered in 60 minutes), Riptide the Slasher Musical, What does the title matter anyway... I saw 19 shows in 5 days, but it wasn't enough!  I have become addicted

Kisses xxx

P.S. Another 15 photos make the #500snapsofsummer total up to 245