If this is love, then love is easy

Songs and memories go together like cheese and pineapple (on sticks). Like macaroni and cheese. Like cheese and crackers. Like two things that are just meant to be.

Inside our heads there are probably hundreds of songs that when heard trigger a memory of some description. And every day new song/memories are made. For me, February provided some lovely new songs for my memory bank, with my favourite being assigned to Love is Easy by McFly - a song frequently played on my iPod.

I loved this song before, but now, in my mind, it reminds me of something very wonderful :-)

Girlguiding & World Thinking Day 2014

Today was World Thinking Day - a special annual day for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world. It is a day for thinking of each other, learning about and taking action on important issues, and since 1932 it has also been an important fundraising day. February 22nd was chosen for this day as it was the birthday of both Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, and his wife Olave, who was World Chief Guide.
The world of Girlguiding has always been a part of my life. Growing up, my Mum was Leader of our local Rainbows unit, so before I was even old enough to be a Rainbow (5 - 7 years) I was an honorary one - attending meetings in my stroller! I then moved up to Brownies (7 - 10 years) and then Guides (10 - 14 years), before re-joining my Mum at Rainbows as a Young Leader. On my 18th birthday I gained my Leadership Qualification and became an Assistant Leader. And now, well I've taken my next big step to being Leader of my own unit!

In January I took over as Leader of 21st Fulham Brownies. I'd only been helping out there for a few months beforehand, and in all honesty, it's all still a little overwhelming! But Girlguiding is a fantastic organisation, and helping to keep a unit open is something that's very important to me.
Before my first Brownie meeting, 1996
Girlguiding relies on the work of volunteers - Leaders and helpers are unpaid and give up their free time to run the units - and it is a great community to be a part of!

Were you ever a member of the Girlguiding (or Scout) family?

If you're interested in volunteering a few hours a week to this wonderful organisation, you can find out more here.

Recipe: Bagels, Bagels, Bagels! by Andrew

I am one very lucky girl. Why you ask? Because I live with a man who loves to bake. And he's so very good at it! This weekend he made bagels, a modification of the recipe from James Morton's Brilliant Bread book. (I was a big fan of James in the Great British Bake Off, his lovely scottish accent and knitted tops made him an instant favourite for me!)

So, as Andrew's first contribution to this little blog of mine, I give you... Bagels, Bagels, Bagels!
Bagels, the staple of American sandwiches and four times winner of the bread shaped most like a monocle, have often left me cold: chewy, dense and quite tasteless they never quite seemed to deserve the adulation they garnered. My internal bagel-bashing opprobrium was even more sharply focused on the whole hole affair; why has a bread with it’s own filling escape route been twinned with the most liquid of cheese?

This opinion held firm until a recent trip to New York, where I had a life-changing bacon and cream cheese bagel. Even with sticky, cream cheese fingers I could appreciate why bagels were a ‘thing’ and as such, the best ‘things’ deserve to be made. So, onwards……
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast action yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 15g honey (or malt extract if you have it)
  • 250g of water
  • bicarbonate of soda (for boiling)
  • poppy/sesame seeds
  1. Rub together the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Like bouncers in a nightclub, you have to keep the salt and yeast apart, otherwise it slows down the reaction. Add the honey and water to the mix and combine.
  2. Knead well for about 10-15 minutes, until it is stretchy. You’ll know when it’s ready. Cover and leave in a lightly oiled bowl at room temperature to prove for 1-2 hours.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and roll into a sausage shape. Divide the dough into twelve portions and shape them all into a baguette shape. Loop each piece into a ring and pinch the seam et voila you have a bagel.
  4. Prove on a baking tray for 30-40 minutes. Pop a big pan of water on and add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda when at a rolling boil. If using seeds, get a dish ready for them. Whack the oven on at 240°C/gas 9.
  5. Place each bagel into the water for a minute and turn over halfway through. Use a slotted spoon to take them out of the water, dip them into the seeds and set them down on baking paper (seed side down) to air dry slightly.
  6. After a few minutes transfer the boiled bagels on to a greased sheet of baking paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, but it’s best to check them halfway through.
  7. Eat them.
Ear them with cream cheese & bacon - you won't regret it!
Visit Andrew's blog for more intellectual musings and observations.

NYC: Grand Central Station & The Rockefeller Center

We started our second full day in NYC with a visit to Grand Central Station - an obvious choice for two people new to the city. The centre of the station is cavernous! It's huge. And it's packed full of people on their way in or out of the city every day. The architecture of the building is beautiful - the large windows bringing in lots of gorgeous light, and the ceiling is painted a lovely turquoise colour with an astronomical design painted on it.
After Grand Central Station we headed to the Rockefeller Center, a complex of 19 commercial buildings built by the Rockefeller family in the 1930s (and the setting for one of our favourite shows - 30 Rock! Seeing the Prometheus statue will always lead to a humming of the theme tune...)
In the morning we booked combo tickets for the Top of the Rock and the Rockefeller Center Tour.
We were lucky enough to be taken round by Christine Roussel, the lady who wrote the book The Art of Rockefeller Center, and she was a fantastic tour guide!
There is a wealth of art all around the Rockefeller Center and without the tour we certainly wouldn't of discovered half of it - parts of the tour even took you inside buildings you wouldn't normally go in. If you're ever lucky enough to go to NYC, definitely do this!
To go to the Top of the Rock costs the same as the Empire State Building but, in my opinion, you still get an amazing view, that includes the iconic Empire State Building, and avoid the huge queues! Especially if you do the tour first, and then you get taken straight to the top afterwards - it's certainly a perk!
After all that fresh air above NYC we headed to Bond Street in Soho to visit the New York store of the company Andrew works for, before ending a wonderful day with dinner at Lombardi's - which was without a doubt some of the best pizza I've ever had! So. Much. Cheese! *swoon*

Reasons to be Cheerful - January

  • A wonderfully lazy New Years Day playing Scrabble & watching Sherlock
  • Taking over as Leader of 21st Fulham Brownies - eek!
  • Finally buying the La Luna Moon necklace from Tatty Devine
  • Flatiron Steak. Oh my!
  • Seeing my good friend Rachel for the first time in aaaages
  • Meatballs in IKEA...again
  • Flower heaven & a gold postbox (for Mo Farah) in Isleworth
  • Care Bear PJs & new gold dancing shoes from the Topshop sale
  • Plates of cherrys, almonds and grapes
  • Beautiful flowers from my love
  • Cheeeese puffs!
  • Discovering that tuna is actually really nice!

Read/Watched/Listened to/Saw/Visited:
  • Mojo (with Ben Whishaw, Rupert Grint, Brendan Coyle, Danny Hayes, Colin Morgan & Tom Rhys Harries) at The Harold Pinter Theatre
  • The Blues Brothers movieAmerican Psycho, The Darjeeling Limited & Silver Linings Playbook
  • Finishing Danny Wallace's Join Me & starting Paper Towns by John Green
  • New Sherlock - oh Benedict...
  • The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014 and the Tate Modern
To look forward to/to do in February:
  • Childish Gambino at Shepherd's Bush Empire
  • Heading home for a weekend
  • My little brother visiting
  • World Thinking Day with Brownies

Mini goals for February:
  • I love attempting to complete this map on Sporcle. So my mini goal for February is to try to learn & remember all 50 states of America!

Happy British Yorkshire Pudding Day!

...and also Groundhog Day!

Launched in 2008 in homage to the wonder that is the Yorkshire pud, British Yorkshire Pudding Day takes place every year on the first Sunday of February.

As a family of Yorkshire pud lovers - we are that family that have them with every kind of roast - I am more than happy to celebrate this day! Even if it means putting in a special request with the chef in The Crown in Islington for one with my fish 'n' chips. Accommodating chefs are the best kind :-)
Did you celebrate British Yorkshire Pudding Day?