Thursday, 26 February 2009

My last week in Paris

How has it come about so quickly? I am so sad! I have had such a wonderful six months and am just begining to feel like I have great friends and a real life here - not the life of an expat. And now I have to leave! I have had so much to blog about and have so missed updating this blog but to be honest I was just too busy having fun and milking my last few weeks in this fabulous city.

I don't know where to start, so this will probably come in a few instalments! Please bear with me!

Firstly, this last week has been so touching - everyone has made me feel so special and appreciated. I was invited out for lunch at the wine museum, which was fabulous. My colleagues surprised me on Monday with a goodbye party. Normally when people leave the company orders hors d'oeuves from outside and gets champagne. But for me, as a thank you for all my baking, people made things at home and brought them in! I was so so moved! It was a surprise because my last day was Wednesday (unfortunately I therefore didn't have my camera). I received lots of cool corporate gifts: a lovely backback, swiss knife and stuff and - most exciting of all - aircraft and satellite models! I'm such a geek but I love them!

Of course, I had to do something bakeworthy to thank them all (and an early party is just an excuse for more cake later on). I made batches of biscuits in the following flavours: peanut butter, chocolate, raspberry and almond and nut and wrapped them up in little bags to give to everyone. I have to say that these were really good - I ate too many! I also made this cake, which has the company's corporate logo on it. Instead of the company's name, I wrote 'merci' on it! It was a moist carrot cake and it seemed to go down well even though I couldn't find baking soda in France and the cake didn't rise correctly (hence 3 layers!).

This was very first time decorating a cake and because the frosting was cream cheese, it was really hard going! I'm going to have to improve.

Then my lovely and gallant male officemates suprised me by ordering flowers to be delivered to the office! So so sweet!

We then all went out for a lovely meal in one of my favourite French restaurants.

I love these people. I love Paris, I really do. I'm going to post about the wonderful chocolate shops I've visited, on the patisseries I have eaten, the wondrous shops I've discovered, the views, the monuments... that's all to come. I was sad to leave Paris when I lived here before, and when I left I remember thinking of all those who love and have loved this great city. But what I will miss even more, the thing that differentiates this experience from the last, are the amazing people I have met, the truly great friends I have made.

Tomorrow I am lucky enough to be going on a pastry course! Please keep reading for some decadent Parisian adventures to come!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Disney love (and survey)

Ry and I had SUCH an amazing time at Disneyland! Amazing bonding time, complete and utter silliness, laughter, dreaminess, fudge, good bad food and most of all FUN! You don't need prose to understand, these photos will do nicely I think!

We were impressed by the resort, having thought that the Paris version would be worse than those in the U.S. The only weird thing was that the characters and rides and everything was half in French half in English! Eery!

It was so cool that we had the only full weekend of sunshine in Paris in months and that no schools were on holiday. The park wasn't as full as it could have been, and from 9-10 at night we literally walked onto rides - it was awesome. div>It was quite hard adjusting to the real world when I got home though, I was bouncing around like a Disney character singing songs well into Tuesday! Teehee!

The pretty castle. The designers said they had to meet higher expectations for European visitors, who were used to seeing real castles - interesting!

Our hotel room - we loved it!

At the entrance and so excited! Notice my new hat - love at first sight!

Me at the Rainforest Cafe - I love elephants!

My favourite Disney villain - pure genius!

Love Mary Poppins and this Penguin scene!

We LOVED Space Mountain, which is much faster than in the States. Went on it about 5 times!

Me in It's a Small World!

Being silly after our beloved Rocky Mountain!

Havin fun!

A Disney show


So now I need to know:

1. What is your favourite Disney movie?
(Mary Poppins - LOVE it, love the myth and story, the moral, that we can find magic in the everyday)

2. Favourite song?
(Chim chiminey and Under the Sea! and.... and.....)

3. Favourite heroine?
(Hmmm, gotta be Ariel I think!)

4. Favourite hero?
(Peter Pan!)

5. Favourite villain?
(Ursula from the Little Mermaid)

Can't wait to hear yours!

Friday, 13 February 2009


I didn't get a chance to thank you all for your wonderful suggestions for my last-minute soirée, or to report on how it went. There are so many thoughts I want to share and I haven't had a moment - not one!

On Tuesday night I stayed up till the early hours preparing the food- because I was spontaneous and had decided to host the thing that day - on Wednesday I rushed some more for the soirée, which ended at 2am and yesterday my wonderful friend Ryan came to visit me from London/Utah. He arrived at 11pm and of course we had to stay up chatting... again till about 2am! Ryan is like a brother to me. It is amazing that our friendship blossomed as it has. I met him in the summer of 2002/3 in London. He had just left Utah to study in Cambridge (MA in History) and I was just leaving London to live in Paris for a year as part of my degree. So we have never lived in the same place at the same time. He visited in me in Paris and I visited him in Cambridge. Then when I returned to Oxford he lived in Prague for a year, and I visited him there. In short, we survive with phonecalls, emails and trips! He is one of the people in the world that I love and respect the most. Ryan was Mormon but is no longer. I love to talk to him about religion and love his intelligent and sensitive approach to almost everything. I love that he still has an amazing relationship with his family. I love that we are so so different (I, conservative, him, less so). How he always found my boyfriends dull and how I found his egotistical, and how we never took offence. I love our frienship, how we can not speak for months and pick up where we left off. How we don't judge each other, how he appreciates my conventionality. I hope that whataver happens in life we will always be a phonecall away.

And there comes the second spontaneous decision of the week: we are not just going to DisneyLand for the day, as we had planned to do, but have decided to stay the night! It took hours to find a hotel with space, and luckily we managed to get the last room at my hotel of choice. We are staying at the Disney Hotel, the Sequoia Lodge (because of the fabulous pool) and are going to go in the early afternoon tomorrow to chill out there! It's going to be SO MUCH fun and I haven't been able to think of anything else all day!

So if you don't hear from me this weekend, it is because I am bonding with my younger self, being silly, and no doubt wearing Mickey ears! Bring it on! :o)

Happy V-day everyone!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Last minute soirée

As one of my fellows secondees will soon be returning to his firm, and as I will shortly be returning to mine, we stagiaires decided to have a soirée in a bar or something, to be together and celebrate.

Tomorrow there is some rugby or football game on (I never know these things) so it then became important to go to a bar with a television. The girls didn't want anywhere too rowdy, I'm not much of a drinker and need food pretty much straight after work (and the whole time during work) so I decided to invite everyone over to my house. I get to prepare lots of yummy food, be in my house (I'm such a home hermit - I love it) and have everyone round. I'm excited!

But I have to prepare a menu. Since it's last-minute I'm not going to do a whole feast or sit down dinner or chic array of canapés. What I'm after is something fun and easy!

Here are my current ideas. If you have any fool-proof easy crowd-pleasers please do share!

- mini pizzas
- mini goats cheese and pepper tarts
- chicken skewers with satay sauce
- feta, cucumber and tomato skewers
- fish goujons in breadcrumbs
- vegetable spring rolls
- egg sandwiches
- crudités dip
- crisps
- olives
- brownies
- cookies
- fruit

Saturday, 7 February 2009

No coffee, thanks

On Saturday morning I had to wake up very early and get a bus with my luggage. I was sitting at the bus stop at 6.30 in the morning, when the city was still asleep, waiting. Then a man from the apartment block across the road comes and brings me fresh coffee in a glass cup. He said he had seen me waiting and had made me a coffee! Some background: my firm has rented out a flat in a very nice residential area for me. The apartment block in question is respectable, and the man well dressed and polite. He didn't seem 'interested' in me, if you know what I mean. He said he just wanted to offer me coffee because he could see had waited for a while and it was cold. A lovely gesture. Or is it?

I'm not much of a coffee drinker, I have to say. I prefer not to drink things that really alter the way my body works unless it's an emergency, and I just don't like the taste that much, particularly French espresso. More to the point, I didn't know this man. He was probably completely innocent (how many people offer a date rape drug in a coffee at 6.30 in the morning) but - sadly - you never know. I felt awful refusing his potentially kind and sincere offer, but how could I be sure? I feel sad that we live in a world in which we can't trust others, but I can't change that and I didn't think it would be right to accept. So I politely declined, and you know what he did? He offered me an orange juice.

Was I right to turn down the coffee? What would you have done?

It's here

My new blog, not nicer weather sadly.

I haven't posted in quite a few days... my time in Paris is sadly coming to a close and I've been busy both at work and out. I also had to leave the blog alone so that I could give Michelle of ShabbyCreations time to do her magic, and it is all finished now!

I had wanted a makeover and found Michelle online - her work is beautiful. Michelle asked me to provide as much detail about what I wanted as possible. I drew this terrible doodle - I can't even figure out how to attach it (does anyone know how to attach a pdf?) - of small caps writing and a handwritten 'and', of flourishes and cake stands. Anyway, Michelle was able to very quickly transform my vision into a header. She gave me several options and I tweaked things. I love the outcome! The hardest choice for me was what to do with the buttons. Michelle proposed a number of flourishes and fonts, but in the end I wanted cake stands! I decided that they looked more original.

Hopefully this will be the start of a better blog!

Lately I have been baking simpler, fresher tasting things because I am in the mood for summer and feel 'done' with gingerbread, chocolate (blasphemy, I know) and cinnamon things for now. My palate says that it is time for berries, fresh lemonade, light cakes. If only the weather would cooperate!

Here is a very simple and easy cake that is refreshing in case you feel, like me, that we might just be able to summon some sunshine if only we ate 'sunny' food... here's hoping!

Apple and raspberry lemon cake.


2 cups + 2 tbsp flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 apple, peeled and diced
200g raspberries
1 lemon (grate rind, then squeeze juice)
icing sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil.

2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Combine sugar and butter.

4. Add eggs, beating well to combine.

5. Fold in flour mixture and grated lemon rind.

6. Fold in apples.

7. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.

8. Insert raspberries one by one into batter with fingers (mixing these in will squash them).

9. Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes.

10. Take juice of 1/2 lemon and heat on saucepan, adding icing sugar (about 1 1/2 cups) until dissolved. The result should be a fairly clear and liquid icing, not a thick one.

11. Pour icing over cake, wait to cool, cut and serve.

New pink things

I treated myself to some lovely new baking things: a ginormous mixing bowl and some pie dishes in baby pink... aren't they sweet? I'm already thinking of the girlie teas I will host!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

New look etc.

Dear readers,

Sixty eight posts in and I have loved every post and every comment. I am so pleased to have met such wonderful people and to have been inspired by so many of you. I thought I might stop blogging when I returned to London (in just 3 weeks!) when I started blogging six months ago, but I want my blogging adventure to continue and be better. I want to carry on reading your great posts and being inspired and hopefully bring you some musings and cake recipes etc.

If any of you have ideas about how I can improve my blog then I'd love to hear them. I'd love to know what you enjoy and what you don't enjoy. Please be honest.

Here's something I don't enjoy: the awful quality of my photos. I'm dealing with it, and very soon there will be no more hazy grey pathetic excuses for photos, I promise.

I am also changing the look of this blog over the coming days... please stay tuned and I hope you like it!

Thank you so much for reading and for sharing by writing, and for the comments that have encouraged me so much,

With love,


Monday, 2 February 2009

A happy surprise

Today, like every day, I ate my breakfast whilst catching up on emails and blogs. This morning there was an update from Clotilde Dusoulier on her blog Chocolate and Zucchini. I love her book and blog with French expressions! This morning there was a note on the blog saying that she would be visiting her sister in London this month and asking people to write in with suggestions of places she should try.

I immediately thought of one of my favourite places in London, a chocolate shop called Melt! It is in Westborne Grove/Notting Hill, and has minimalist design. It sells chocolate made with a water based light ganache and has an open kitchen at the back, which allows you to see the delightful chocolate being made! Heavenly.
I thought I'd mention it to Clotilde, not for a minute really thinking that she wouldn't know about it or, if perchance she didn't, that she'd read the email or reply. I'm just a two-a-penny blogger. But, lo and behold, half an hour later I had a graceful reply and my very own secret Parisian recommendation! She had taken the time to take a peek at my blog to see that I love cake and recommended... I shall not say more now, because I am going to visit the place and report back. Apparently there are some fruit flavoured caramels to savour (and anyone who knows me knows that fruit desserts are my fave).

It is so lovely of Clotilde to have taken the time to reply at all, and then to reply personally and so quickly. I was really touched! I thought: hers is a real passion, she is someone who really cares. And that made me very happy. So I wanted to share! I don't suppose that she will check this blog again, but just in case she does: merci beaucoup Clotilde!