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!