Saturday, 2 October 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffeneger

I thought I'd review this book, because I know that some of you enjoyed the Time Traveler's Wife - I know I did. It surprised me that I enjoyed it as much as I did, because I am generally uninterested in anything resembling science fiction, fantastical writing, etc. I really enjoyed the depiction of love between the characters and the complex plot though - it was a very enjoyable read, and one that stayed etched in my mind for some time.

So when I saw this new book by the same author, I thought I'd give it a try. I got through it quickly - I'll give it that, it was certainly gripping. But I can't say that I enjoyed it. It's about a set of twins, Edie and Elspeth, who are estranged. Edie has 21 year old twin girls, and when Elspeth passes away she leaves her flat in Highgate, London, to the girls on the proviso that they live there for a year. The story unfolds in London, exploring the relationship between the two sisters, and the secret of the rift between their mother and aunt.

Nifenegger has a great mind, there is no doubt about that. She knows how to weave a plot together, how to shock in the most intelligent of ways. But in this novel I found the characters undeveloped (except for Martin, I loved his depiction, though I'm not sure what that storyline had to do with that of the girls) and more to the point they were, almost all of them, unlikeable. I couldn't understand the motives behind their behaviour at all.

The story becomes very dark, so much so that it made me uneasy. And yet I kept reading. Perhaps the author is saying: you may dislike these characters and find it hard to understand why they do what they do, but what does it say about you that you are still reading, that you derive enjoyment from this darkest of stories?

I am not a fan of ghost stories, so maybe I was never the prime audience for this novel, but I found the whole thing a bit silly, a bit self indulgent, gratuitously dark. Gripping, yet unenjoyable. I learnt nothing about humanity. That might sound pious, I don't look to read books with a moral purpose, but I do hope to understand why the protagonists do what they do, what motivates them, and Martin aside, I failed to do that here. One to miss I think!

4 months

I can't believe we have been married for four months, and so much has happened that I have hardly had time to recap our wedding! I will get round to it, assuming it is of some interest! ;)

Life feels different but so much better - I love being married to Marc. Since we hadn't lived with each other I thought there would be an adjustment. I am an only child, I had always been very much my parents' daughter, I wondered how it would be to have my primary allegiance shift.

The truth is that there hasn't been an adjustment to speak of. It feels so normal, as though we have been in this state forever. It took me a few years into dating to feel ready for marriage but I'm not sure now what I was so worried about. I feel such a sense of togetherness and partnership.

After the wedding I did feel quite a bit of nostalgia about the wedding being behind me. I sought projects everywhere, I framed photos and our invitation, decorated our flat... but now I am settling into real life, enjoying the day-to-day things rather than plotting the next big thing. Life is good!

I bought Marc a traditional prayer shawl for the wedding. The Rabbi surprised us by asking Marc to cover me with the shawl during the ceremony. It was a very special moment.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Wedding cake

I spent a lot of time planning my wedding and envisaging what things would be like... I did lots myself.. the invitations, the bridesmaids' corsages, programs etc. By far the biggest feat was making my own wedding cake in Guernsey (where I live in a hotel) and transporting it to Tel Aviv.

Why did I undertake such a crazy task? We got married in Israel where wedding cakes are not the norm and very expensive. We had 8 desserts at our wedding - it didn't seem strictly necessary to also have a cake. But also I was inspired by smitten kitchen, where Deb made her friend's wedding. Did I think about how, as a bride, it wouldn't be fun transporting my own cake across countries far and wide, icing it the day before the wedding, decorating it just hours before? No I did not! It was stressful and difficult, but totally crazy and I'm so proud of it!

We only got round to cutting it at the end of the night, it was unannounced, we didn't think anyone would notice. It was more for a photo opportunity. But people crowded round and ate - it was such a fun, surprising and intimate moment! One of my favourite parts of our day.

I loved our cake and I am so glad we had one in the end. Aletha of Pearls Events wedding planning asked in her blog whether wedding cakes are now a thing of the past. Who knows, but I think there will always be something special and intimate about cutting a wedding cake. I can't wait to pass the story of our cake down generations!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Craft Room - going red!

I have wanted a craft from for some time, as evidenced by this post. We live in a new rental flat right now (photos to come this weekend) and it has two bedrooms. The second bedroom houses random stuff we haven't had time to organise yet - it's a crowded mess - but this weekend I intend to revamp it.

I don't know why I stumped for red in the end - truth be told it was an impulse! For years I thought it would be really girlie, all white furniture and pretty pink things. Actually what I want is a very organised space. Attractive, but functional. Right now we have a futon in there and an uninspiring desk and shelf unit. Those aren't going, because they serve a purpose. One day when we have a house I will be able to get a big modern desk and loads of lovely shelves, but for now by adding my touch I can make the spare bedroom an inspiring place to craft all the same.

What I am missing is lots of storage. I will need to make a trip to IKEA for that, so this is a work in progress. For now, let me show you the goodies I have chosen!

1. A red Anglepoise lamp.

LOVE these and have wanted one for so so long!

2. 2 cushions to put on our cream futon

3. A pen holder

4. A rug

5. Some letters to spell out 'create'

I am so incredibly excited for these to come that I even paid for a Saturday delivery for some of it - it will be so awesome when it's here! Can you tell I am a new wife who needs projects now that the wedding is over? Haha! Seriously though, I am so excited about turning our flat into a home. I love interiors - always have - so I am in my element!

I will be sure to post before and after photos once the room is all set up!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Identity and name

It's so nice to be back! Since I realised that this blog could be found on Google when people did a name search, I didn't feel comfortable exposing everything personal on it, so I removed certain content, particularly because I had started a new job and I am cagey about private matters at work - I try to keep the two distinct when I can. And for a while everything I was living felt too personal to write about, not because I didn't want readers or friends to know, but because didn't want people who know me in a professional capacity to have binoculars into my life. I find it strange that I feel comfortable exposing things to people I haven't met, yet in a certain sphere I am reluctant to give of myself.

My identity has always been tied up with my name. My maiden surname is very distinct, and in Israel well known. It evokes a certain time and place, and it is exotic sounding. No-one could ever spell it - that part was annoying - but only my family has it. It's pretty cool to know that anyone you stumble upon with the same name is related to you. Also, on a practical note, I never needed my customer ID number for anything because I was almost always guaranteed to be the only one with my name. I am an only child, so that also factored into my thinking about whether to change my name. If I changed it it would die out on my side of the family. It felt like a lack of allegiance to my parents. I knew they wanted me to keep my name. My mother kept her maiden name at work and changed it for anything personal.

I had a real dilemma on my hands - I just didn't know what to do. In the end I changed my name, not at all sure I had done the right thing. I would pick up the phone and begin to say Vanessa Oldlastname and stop myself, sounding crazy. I couldn't quite utter my new name so would pick up and say 'hello' - completely inappropriate in the legal sphere!

But, I am growing into my new name, liking having a more 'usual' name. Almost everything has now been changed over but my passport, because I fly weekly, and I caught myself looking at my maiden name on it and thinking 'that's not right'. So the shift has occurred. It is nice to share a name with Marc, it makes me feel as though we are our own family. And I have come to realise that by changing names I am not letting go of the past that made me who I am, just taking on a name that reflects who I want to become.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


It has taken me so long to come back to blogging, maybe I needed to miss it to return; I don't know. We had a beautiful wedding, it was everything we had hoped for and more! I'm going to do a proper recap, but for now some photos!

It feels so different to be married - I feel a deep sense of belonging that I have never had, which says a lot considering I have never felt I didn't belong. It's hard to put that bond, that commitment, into words. I'm so happy to be Marc's wife!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Back and update

So here I am, back on the blog! I had missed blogging, but I couldn't unfortunately. My blog can be found on the internet when people look for my name, and I was going through recruitment processes where I needed to be anonymous. What there was to blog about I didn't want the world to know. I hadn't told my new employers about the wedding yet... so I had my reasons.

But I missed the blog and so I'm hoping to pick up where I left off.

Before I do, an update:

1. Less than 2 months till the wedding! Invites are out as of yesterday! It was a huge task to finish DIYing these, but they are finally done!

2. I am living in Guernsey for a few months with my new job. Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands. It's green and beautiful and people are so friendly. It was the only UK territory to be occupied in World War II. I'm looking forward to discovering more of its history as I stay here.

Yes, it's hard to be away from home (again) but it's a wonderful career opportunity. The City of London is so depressed that I had to be open minded and this company has been incredibly good to me. I hope I can make a good go of it. I'm travelling back and forth quite a bit, which is tiring, but it's worth it.

Hope you're all still around... looking forward to commenting more again and renewing the contact.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Dress doubt

Where does it come from? Does everyone experience it? It seems as though so many ladies on the Knot go through this, but sometimes I can't help but wonder whether there is a whole other normal word of ladies out there who don't obsess on wedding websites. Women who buy a dress and think no more of it.
I for one definitely had dress doubt. I tried dresses on alone, then brought my mother along with me to buy the dress I had chosen (which she also liked). I had only tried on about 10 dresses at that point. After I tried mine on, I didn't want to look at any more. Sure, some might be more flattering or opulent but my dress made me look like the image of the bride I had always had in my head: feminine, lovely, on the modest side. So many dresses are beautiful in and of themselves but not all, I thought, felt right for a wedding and this one did.
So what happened? What shook my conviction? Well, I showed photos of myself in the sample and no-one particularly liked the dress. On the dress board of the Knot, people said they weren't sure anything could be done to make it fit better. The size of the wedding grew. Suddenly perhaps my dress was too simple and sweet to stand up to so many people.
What did I do? I stressed. I became weird weepy anal bride and it's a surprise Marc's still around! But, slowly slowly I calmed down, resolved that I didn't want to buy another dress, and decided to wait to till the fittings to see what I thought.
And you guessed it. At the fittings I loved my dress. It fit beautifully. I felt even better than when I bought it. I didn't want to take it off and was sad to leave it in the dress shop.
So why do people doubt their dress so much? I have a few ideas...
1. They keep looking. There are so many dresses that could look good, as good if not better than the dress you chose. Looking doesn't help.
2. The time in between ordering and seeing the dress. It's torture. Time to look. Time to stress.
3. This is one of the most expensive purchases a woman makes on herself, and is probably the only one that is non-returnable and subject to as much scrutiny.
4. Pressure from/opinions of others. I don't like many of the dresses that people rave about on the Knot. Why, then, should I be upset when people don't like mine? There are so many trends and if a dress doesn't fit into one some won't like it.
5. The excitement? The thrill of trying on dresses, knowing it's the only time of life you can, and the thrill of ordering a wedding dress. It is so exciting and once you've done it it's behind you.
If you're doubting your dress remember: people won't know the other alternatives you had, and if you picked it's because you felt great in it, which really is all that matters. Stop looking at dresses and move on to another planning stage. Remember that you will be beautiful no matter what.
Did you have dress doubt? Please share your experiences - I'd love to read them!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Bought Marc's wedding band

Yesterday I ordered Marc's wedding band!

Months ago we looked in Tiffany's and he tried on lots of rings. He thought he'd want a plain platinum band but ended up not liking it on his finger and choosing a milgrain band. It looked so good - it was so happy-making to see Marc wearing a wedding band!

I went to the jewellery district in London, where Dad has contacts, to find a place to order the ring. Somehow I didn't find the experience particularly confidence inspiring for some reason.

Also, I've just moved to another area and didn't think I'd have much control over the process if it took place in London, so instead I ordered Marc's ring online. I think I got an ok deal, but mostly I just really like the ring he picked! Can't wait till it arrives!

I bought Marc's ring from a site called I totally thought I'd end up buying from BlueNile, but I was so disappointed by their customer service. I was put on hold for about half an hour twice, and when I finally got through they couldn't get me the ring in Marc's finger size because it's smaller than the average man's size. They don't go out of their way for you at all, which I thought was pretty poor. The site I ordered from had incredibly friendly people on the other side of the phone and was a pleasure to do business with.

I feel relieved to have that out of the way and I just hope it fits and that Marc likes it when it comes in.

Tomorrow I'll post about my ring: it's turned into a bit of a saga! In the meantime I leave you with a picture of Marc's ring from

Friday, 22 January 2010

My Dress

Finally, now that I have moved all the wedding content to this blog, I can post a photo of my wedding dress! I bought it in Israel after becoming engaged and whilst I have doubted my choice at times, I do love it and am excited to go and be fitted in a few weeks' time! It'll be wonderful to try on 'my' dress, the one I know I will be married in.

It was designed by an Israeli designer and is made in Israel by new immigrants. I deliberately wanted to buy a dress that would support the Israeli economy and provide jobs rather than order one in from China.

My dress is being custom made for me as well, which is always a nice extra!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Invitation tags

Making the front labels for our invitations is probably the most annoying part of DIYing invitations. It's the only cutting I've done myself, and I'm glad there's not much left to do. It's difficult to get straight lines and I'm finding that I'm a bit of a perfectionist on that front.

I take a piece of ivory paper, measure, draw grid lines, so that the piece of paper has lots of evenly sized ivory rectangles. I then cut the paper into long vertical strips and then stamp row by row. This is important because I am only using a part of the leaf stamp, so I need a cut edge or the foliage would stamp onto the next row. I hope this makes sense (if not, let me know).

I had brown strips left over from the paper cutting I had done, and I have been using these for the brown backing. I stick the ivory stamped rectangle onto the brown card using a Pritt stick, then trim the brown backing with sharp Fiskars scissors. There you have it.

I got the monogram stamp made for us on Etsy (love that side SO much) and the leaf/foliage stamp on Ebay. I have to say that I adore the look of the stamps together as I think it's a little unusual yet classy. I've now made about 130 invitations - about 70 left!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Invitations - will it ever end?

So I've been so quiet on the blogging front because I've been doing the invitations... sticking double sided tape, attaching ribbon, stamping, cutting measuring! My hands are destroyed! You see, our guest list appears to have grown exponentially, meaning that I don't have enough invitations by by original count and have had to re-order a bunch of supplies to make some (many) more.

At first I was like 'what's all the fuss about' when people moaned about how making one's own invites is sapping and monotonous. I suppose it isn't the hugest fuss, but it does take ages. Hours and hours and hours. The only way I can get through it is by sitting with someone as they watch tv and chatting intermittently. Otherwise I might die of boredom/frustration.

But I LOVE our invitations! More to come on those in posts to come, but I am proud to be using my own design for these. I know it's just a bit of card, and probably that most people won't even know how much work went into them, but I don't care! Looking at them sitting pretty with their inserts makes me smile! Can't wait until they go out to our guests. But I sure as hell won't miss them, or this particular wedding project. So much so that I nixed the idea of handmade 'Thank you' cards and fully intend to Vistaprint it.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Apple muffins with cinnamon butter

I actually made these beauties ages ago, to bring to Audrey when I visited her, and I never got round to blogging about them. They were seriously yummy! But if you are looking for very sweet muffins then these aren't for you. Their essence is that of a breakfast food. At least in the UK, muffins have become too sickly for my liking. Sickly and dry. These are not very sweet and have a lovely apple-vanilla aroma, together with a moist texture. Without the butter these are very light and a nice start to the day, one that does not feel too over-indulgent but remains a small treat. With the butter? Heaven.

from Susannah Blake's Book, Muffin Magic


2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbinate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
6 tpsp sunflower oil
2 apples, peeled, cored and finely diced

For the cinnamon butter

115g butter at room temperature
1/3 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 200c or 400f.

Combine flour, bicarb and cinnamon and sift into a large bowl

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, yogurt, milk, brown sugar and oil, then stir in the apples. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined, then spoon big dollops of the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.

Bake for about 20 mins or until risen and golden. Leave to cool in a pan for a few minutes and then tranfer to a rack to cool.

Meanwhile sift together the butter, icing sugar and cinnamon. Serve the muffins warm, with cinnamon butter for spreading.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sex and the City 2

Nope, no spoiler coming from me unfortunately (just speculation)! This is just a post to document my complete excitement about the release of SATC2. To say that I love SATC is an understatement. Hell, I even dragged my fiance on the SATC tour in New York! It was awesome.

I remember the excitement of seeing the movie when I went with Kate. It somehow felt like a momentous occasion - one we had been anticipating for some time (yes, I do know how sad I soumd). We couldn't wait to go in, and we enjoyed every second.

And now we are being treated to another film! I am pleased, of course, but I do think it's getting a little silly. I mean, why not just start the series again? It would be so much better. But hey, I shouldn't complain.

The release in the UK will be in late May... right before the wedding. I really hope that we can make it a part of the hen night celebrations. Nothing could be more perfect. Since I leave for Israel a week before the wedding, we may end up seeing it there! That would also be cool.

I hope Carrie doesn't have a baby: it seems at odds with her character. I hope Samantha gets back with Richard, but I don't think it will happen (it's much more likely that Smith will reappear). I think that Aidan will come back and that there will be infidelity issues between Carrie and Big.

So now I put it to you: what do you think will happen? I was spot-on with predicting it the last time but this time I just don't know. Can't wait to read your hypotheses!

LASIK/contact lenses

So finally I have to get vain and ditch the glasses, something I've been reluctant to do over the years. My eye sight has become progressively worse, through university, law school and long hours on the computer. Nowadays I am well below the driving standard. I feel disorientated when walking around, I can't read street names, in shops the shelves are overwhelming, on the underground I can't read the signs that tell me where the train is going. In short, I feel debilitated.

On my wedding day, when I will need to recognise so many people, it is out of the question to not have any sight assistance of some description. It would ruin my day. But I can't wear my glasses. I just don't think it looks good. And I have always resisted contacts because I hate the idea of putting anything in my eyes. I don't want the maintenance. I don't find the idea particularly hygienic.

So off I went to a LASIK appointment. They spent hours testing me for this and that... and concluded that I'm suitable. I was totally sold. I would love not to fumble for my glasses in the morning, to have the freedom of perfect sight. But - and it's a big but - the cost for both eyes is £4,500, about $7,500. I just don't have that sort of money to spare right now. I'm disappointed, but now is not the time for non-essential expenses. And try though I might to convince myself that this is essential, it isn't. Many people wear contacts and there is no reason why I shouldn't be one of them.

So next week I'll go to the optician and have a contact lens appointment. I would like to get disposable lenses, so that I can wear them only on special occasions. Day to day I'm more comfortable with glasses. Fingers crossed it won't be as bad as I fear. Do any of you have contact lens recommendations for me? If so please pass them along!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Hair ideas - advice?

Here are some hairstyles I like for the wedding. I want to look natural, but like a better version of myself. Curly hair is my 'trademark' so I don't want an elegant chignon or anything too formal... I'm thinking lose curles or waves.

I'm going to bring these photos to my makeup artist and hairdresser in February... hopefully she'll draw on them for inspiration.

What do you think? The first picture is my favourite!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Makeup trial

My amazing and beautiful future mother in law, Marilyn, booked us two girls in for a complimentary makeover at Space NK to give us ideas of what we might want. She made her way into London despite the heavy snow, and we spent the morning chatting whilst we were being made up. The range the assistant used was that of a French make called Chantecaille.

I had been really looking forward to it because I always love time with Marilyn, because my skin hasn't been so good lately and because I am so utterly bored with my makeup routine.

Here is what I looked like after the makeover. You must ignore my awful hair after walking in the snow. I really like what our assistant did, and I think that rosy and natural look will really come together once my hair is sorted out. Looking back I may want slightly more smoky eyes, but I want to remain very natural. I'm going to ask the makeup artist to use all the same makeup on the day of the wedding.

Marilyn so very generously treated me to some beautiful makeup and I can't wait to try it out tomorrow. I went and bought myself a new face cream and exfoliator by Origins. I hope that using this regularly will improve my skin tone.

I am such a lucky girl to have had such a fabulous spoiling day!

Thank you so much Marilyn for the time and effort it took to come in, for the close chats and for my lovely goodies! You looked absolutely radiant today. xxx

Snowed in

London is experiencing one of its coldest winters on record. It keeps snowing and it has been freezing outside for so long now. I know that in some parts of North America this is commonplace but I can tell you, to us it is just weird.

The authorities don't know how to cope, they don't have enough salt for the roads, airports are shutting down - utter chaos.

Of course it's frustrating for adults, who can't go about their daily work etc, but there is something to be mentioned about the very different attitude of children. The delight and enchantment. Today children will be sledging and playing in the snow, overjoyed. Sometimes I think that as adults, we lose that.

In this sort of weather what I like to do best is bake. Sadly, watching my weight before dress fittings in February, I can't do that. So instead I have been cooped up indoors doing my invitations, which I've nearly finished. Finally!

In any case, instead of feeling irritation at the disruption, I'm going to try to go out and enjoy this rare time (it hardly ever snows in London and when it does, it doesn't settle). Who knows, I may even build a snowman, replete with carrot nose!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Civil ceremony

A few weeks back Marc and I went to fill in forms to demonstrate our 'intention to marry'. This is an old tradition in England. In the past your names would be put on a noticeboard in the Church so that everyone could see who was getting married and could object if they so wished during a certain timeframe. Today names are supposedly posted somewhere in Camden Town Hall, a bustling and anonymous administrative building. Clearly, no-one objected because I was able to pick up our certificates and deposit them in the register office where we will have our civil ceremony!

We will have our civil ceremony in Old Marylebone Town Hall, where my parents got married. And Paul McCartney married his wife Linda there! Cool trivia.

Meanwhile I've been sent ceremony wording options and honestly? Most of them make me want to puke. I'm sorry but I just don't like mushy vows. I like to say what is necessary in law/according to a particular religion and nothing else. So I shall edit it all down to a bare minimum. The registrar will think I am very grumpy indeed.

So there's one thing ticked off the list. Oh, and did I tell you? I have a FA-BU-LOUS dress for the civil ceremony! Can't wait to walk down those stairs with Marc!

Hosting (salmon and cranberry orange cake recipes)

I have people round for dinner all the time... I love socialising that way. It's so personal, so comfortable and much more intimate and special than hanging out in a bar or restaurant after restaurant. Even that gets boring. I normally make nice but not overly complicated food... my Moroccan dish, perhaps some salmon, roast chicken.

But until this Christmas, I'd never really hosted a celebration meal before. On the 25th I invited Marc's parents round. His mother is a fabulous cook and always hosts us so beautifully so I wanted to give her a night off. Whilst I love cooking I have to say was hard work! I have to improve on the hostess front.

Do you have any hostess tips to share? If so please do: I'd love to hear them.

The most difficult thing for me was the timing: having so many dishes to prepare using just one oven, and keeping everything warm. I made salmon stuffed with vegetables and garlic butter, roast chicken and roast potatoes, roast vegetables, fennel in red peppers and broccoli with breadcrumbs.

I definitely think that I'm better at dessert!

I made Katie's Cranberry and Orange cake, and I have to say that she is a genius because she made that recipe up herself and it is completely and utterly sublime. Everyone loved it. And it's a lovely centrepiece cake, so definitely one to tab in your books. I also made peanut butter biscuits and gingerbread biscuits. Yummy!

Here's the recipe for the cake. NB: I omitted the orange liqueur (couldn't find any) and added half a cup of orange juice in addition to what the recipe calls for and it made for a lovely moist cake.

Cranberry Orange Cake

3 c. flour, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. oil
1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp orange zest
1 Tbsp orange liquor
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
3/4 c. buttermilk
2 c. fresh cranberries

for icing:
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-6 tsp fresh orange juice


-Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare basic bundt pan.
-In bowl of stand mixer, add sugar, butter and oil and beat until light and fluffy in texture as well as color, about 5 minutes.
-Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine 2 1/2 c flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
-Whisk to combine well and set aside.
-To sugar mixture, add orange zest.
-One at a time, add egg and beat to combine well.
-Add liquor and vanilla, beating to combine well.
-Add orange juice and buttermilk, mixing to combine well.
-Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl.
-With mixer on lowest speed, add flour mixture and mix until almost combined.
-Stop mixer and remove bowl.
-In bowl flour was in, add remaining 1/2 c. flour and cranberries.
-Toss to coat and add to batter.
-Using large spatula, fold cranberries and extra flour into batter just until combined.
-Pour batter into bundt pan.
-Tap on counter to remove air bubbles, smooth top of batter away from center of pan.
-Place into preheated oven on rack in center of oven and bake until toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out clean, about 1 hour.
-Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 20 minutes.
-Turn cake out onto wire rack and cool completely.
-Once cake is cool, in medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla extract and orange juice, 1 tsp at a time until medium consistency is achieved.
-Drizzle icing over top of cake, decorate with orange rind and fresh cranberries and serve.

Salmon Recipe

1 whole salmon, boned and skinned
2 carrots
1 courgette
a few stalks of celery
1 parsnip
1 glass of white wine
(add any other vegetables you like)
1/2 (apprx) cup butter to smear
4 tablespoons butter
whole head of garlic
1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
food string

1. Place salmon half down in a baking tray covered in aluminium foil, with the cut part facing up. Place strings under the piece of salmon every few inches. These will tie this half to the half that will be placed on top.
2. Crush garlic and blend with butter.
3. Smear onto open half of salmon
4. Using a mixer julienne the vegetables
5. Fry the vegetables in a small amount of butter, salt and pepper to taste, until they are soft but not brown.
6. Place vegetables on open half of salmon, ensuring they do not spill over the sides.
7. Place remaining piece of salmon cut side down on top of the vegetables
8. Tie the strings together so that the two halves of salmon and vegetables are held in place.
9. In a bowl, crush the remaining garlic, add wine, 4 tablespoons of butter, squeezed lemon, salt and pepper and pour over the salmon.
10. Cover in tin foil and bake in the oven at 180 ceklcius for about 30 minutes, but ovens vary so do check.

This was a yummy light addition to normal holiday food. It can look elegant and was enjoyed by all.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year!

Last night, like every other NYE, Marc made me his special risotto! It has become quite the tradition and I certainly looked forward to it. It was absolutely delicious! Later on in the evening, Marc and I brought in the new year with some great friends, Harry and Natalie. It was so exciting, because as we watched Big Ben and the countdown, we realised that this is the year that we would be getting married! We were both really excited and hadn't expected to be! The other couples there were engaged as well, so it made for a really cool atmosphere.

Now, as ever, comes resolution time. I go for dress fittings in Tel Aviv in February and I have 5 weeks to tone up a little before I see my dress again. So I want to look better for that. I know that I should have started sooner but, if I am conscientious, I think I can make a small difference in that time. The crunch is on!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year filled with love and laughter, health and fun!