Faith

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Taking some time out to take tea for two…

In Uncategorized on August 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

Further to my plans to invest a bit more time into enjoying myself , I decided to kick my good intentions off in style, with a jaunt into Birmingham with my aunt to indulge in High Tea at the fabulous Hotel la Tour this week.

If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Seriously cool, Hotel La Tour is a beautiful retreat a stone’s throw from the shopping hub, decorated in sumptuous fabrics, with a mellow ambience and friendly, professional service.

 Afternoon tea has become a popular weekend treat for many, but Hotel la Tour’s really is something special. It’s not just the way it’s served – on a three-tier floor-mounted stand, with crisp white cloths and gleaming crockery, but the attention to detail – the delightful home-made delicacies to round off the finger sandwiches and scones and the specially-created exclusive cocktails.

The cocktail of choice for us was created to celebrate the birth of Prince George.  Created from passion fruit syrup, gin, vodka and egg white and presented in a crystal glass, The Little Prince is refreshing and light – a perfect choice for a summer afternoon.

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What I love about HLT’s High Tea is the relatively simple, but very unusual addition to the sandwich course of a modern-take on cheese on toast. The ham, smoked salmon and cream cheese, cucumber and mint, and coronation chicken sandwiches are neatly stacked beside a host of toast fingers with a creamy cheese dip that you just can’t get enough of. You can be as lady-like as you please to begin with, but by the time you take your last soldier, you’ll be scooping up as much of the cheese as you can…

Plain and fruit scones (at the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, not too big, not too small, but just the right size) served with heaps of thick clotted cream and strawberry jam  are a must for any afternoon tea, but the best is yet to come…and requires a bit of an interlude before you can really appreciate them properly.

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Forget your average French fancies, these over-sized mini desserts are the only way to round off an afternoon.  A blackberry jammie dodger, light chocolate biscuit with a thick blackberry jam filling, is HLT’s take on the old teatime favourite , served alongside a shot glass filled with a light and creamy panacotta with summer berries and cucumber, a strawberry macaron filled with a chocolate paste, and a moist lemon sponge with butter icing.

It takes a while to work your way through it all, but it’s well worth the effort…

While I shan’t be able to justify mid-week treats like this as a matter of course, since I’m a season ticket widow once again this year, along with my mum and my aunt, we can think of little better to do while the boys spend 90 minutes watching men fight over a ball. I think it’s fair to say HLT will be seeing a lot more of us before the year is out – and since anyone who books afternoon tea in August and mentions that they’ve read this will get a complimentary glass of fizz, I might be seeing you there too…

Afternoon tea costs £18.95 per person. Hotel La Tour is located in Albert Street – book on 0121 718 8000. Every Sunday, afternoon tea is accompanied by a live music set for additional ambience.

 

 

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A midsummer new year resolution – or: The art of cramming 12 months of good intentions into four.

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm

So, we’re in August. That’s seven months between my last post and this one. Impressive.

In my defence, it’s all been a bit hectic. At the beginning of year, I pledged to get my life:work balance in order, to adopt a healthier lifestyle both mentally and physcally, and not to sweat the little things.

It’s fair to say I have failed on all counts.

At the end of January, Adam asked me to marry him – I only had one eye open at the time as it was quite early, so I had to get him to repeat it, but one beautiful emerald ring later, I was properly engaged to be married, and a whole new whirlwind began.

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Now, just four months away from I Do, I’m revisiting those goals and am determined over the next sixteen weeks (WHAT!?) to stop working myself into the ground, stop allowing my worries about what everyone else wants to take higher priority than what I want, and take a bit more time out to relax – whether it’s downing tools and chilling out with friends, making sure I do get the the gym, even if it is only for 30 minutes, having a manicure (judging by the state of my hand in this pic; much needed) or just lying in the garden for 20 minutes in the middle of the day in lieu of lunch at my desk (I may be a little late to the party on that one…)

With just one week to go until my holiday, and not being in the pre-holiday shape and state of mind I ought to be, I think the wind-down needs to commence in earnest… starting from NOW.

 

Shaping up and shedding for 2013

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2013 at 9:19 am

The usual new year good intentions to shape up sharpish started in earnest yesterday. We hosted Christmas for our whole family in December, as well as a new year Star Wars party, so we’d grossly over-anticipated how much food we’d need. It’s really stuck in my craw how much waste there has been as I’ve thrown away pate, salad, cheese, puddings and cream, and countless other items that have festered in the fridge. It’s bad enough that we spent so much un-necessarily, but the fact that we’ve been so wasteful when there are people starving bothers me more.

As such, we’ve still got a freezer full of sliders, mini pies and even mini fish and chip bites just waiting for another gathering, because we certainly won’t be eating it on the new 2013 fitness regime.

Last week was too hectic to get things started to my shame, but yesterday saw my first gym session of the year – 40kms completed, 1423 calories burned, and agonising muscle ache to match.

This Christmas I bought kettle bells to try and do more strength work at home, so it’s going to be a case of trying to get into the habit of doing a good stint of ab exercises each day to try and get my physique into shape before I head off on hols next month. My usual failsafe technique to get back into an exercise regime is to treat myself to new workout gear, but in light of heading to the States in a few weeks time, it seems a bit stupid to do that here when I can get some fab gear over there for a fraction of the price.

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Note to self: Do not use as door-stops

Having battled through as much of the awful Christmas stodge, my body is positively welcoming the prospect of healthier salads, fish and stir fry dishes, and I’m on a mission to cut back on my biggest weakness – Coke. I’m currently drinking huge amounts of water with fresh lemon, but I’m not sure it’ll be sufficient to stave off the caffeine fix for long.

My Pinterest boards are proving a big inspiration – as well as looking for fitness advice and pins, the huge number of gorgeous toned women in beautiful clothes makes me determined to persevere and succeed…

Jump starting January – Happy new year!

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Crazy start to the year – and I’m not complaining.The first January after I set up my own company was the quietest, most worrying month I’ve ever known, and ever since I’ve been worried that the same thing would happen year on year, particularly with the constant doom and gloom press around the state of the economy.

I learned a lot of valuable lessons in 2012, wasted a lot of time and energy on projects that were not worth the grief and effort they caused, and gave too many people the benefit of the doubt and allowed myself to be made a fool of too many times – not this year! Mistakes are learning platforms, not something that should become the norm.

So 2013 marks a new start for Faith! I’ve made the usual new year promises to myself about my personal life and my business life, but the most important one, for both, is to get my finances in order, and to make sure I started on the right track, I’ve been following Penny Golightly’s Jump Start 2013 to the letter to help me do it – a step by step, easy to follow guide to doing essential admin and organising your life and finances in one fell swoop – within days I’d discovered a policy I’ve been paying for that I don’t need, a standing order to a charity that I forgot I supposedly supported (had been a Christmas gift) and cancelled my monthly subscription to a wine club and my weekly Graze boxes, all of which equates to getting on for £50 a month. GO ME!

I spent most of yesterday getting the boyfriend to do the same thing – filing paperwork, checking outgoings, clearing out drawers right through to carrying out a wardrobe cull to give those clothes that no longer fit or that aren’t liked to charity.

It’s amazing how much peace of mind the simplest of tasks can give you, but if we can stick to it through January (the hardest part is definitely going to be Tenner Week where we each have to try and live on £10 for the week!) I think it’ll become something we do every six months to keep us on track.

I love starting the year feeling so virtuous!

It’s (nearly) the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeear

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2012 at 10:17 am

Flood warnings aside, I am starting to feel slightly Christmassy now. I’ve got my organised head on and started stocking up (mainly on wine, to be fair) for the festive period, and have planned the Christmas Day menu, games and movie-schedule. Control freak? Me?

And the spare room is now piled high with gifts ready to wrap. I will not put the tree up until December 1st on principle, but as far as parties and festivities go, I’m all set to go.

I tried to get into the mood last Saturday. I spent the day buying gifts in Solihull before heading to the famous Frankfurt Christmas market in Birmingham in the evening. Should have left it.

 I understand the concept, and I like the idea of it, but sadly, in reality, I find it frustrating and annoying. I dislike having to fight my way through hoards of people to queue for 30 minutes for my hot wine. I get annoyed when I then have most of my hot wine knocked all over me as I fight my way away from the sales stand. I reeeeeeally don’t like being coughed all over and being engulfed in clouds of cigarette smoke, and the icing on the cake is having to fight my way back to the sales stand again to get my £3 deposit back for the plastic cup that the sales team mistakenly think I’m going to fall in love with and steal.

But I do like the caramelised nuts.

Maybe I went too early – as I say, I don’t think Christmas should start until December 1st when I can open my advent calendar (this year: Star Wars Lego). I love putting the iPod festive playlist on, unravelling the fairy lights and  putting the tree up while singing my head off and drinking hot chocolate. And on Christmas Eve, I love cracking a bottle of bubbly and sitting in front of the fire to argue with Adam about what constitutes a Christmas movie (me: The Holiday, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, A Christmas Carol. Adam: Gremlins, Die Hard, Elf) before watching The Holiday and preparing for our guests’ arrival…

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But it’s a good four weeks before I get to that stage and there’s a lot to look forward to first.

Naturally, I’ve started stocking up on Christmassy outfits for various gatherings – one berry-coloured sequinned little number should arrive today – and I’m counting down to the first festive occasion in my calendar, the BPA Christmas lunch, which this year for the first time ever will need to be a dry affair as I have evening commitments (I don’t see it ending well). The highlight though, will be BeerBeauty’s Christmas Party – hosted by the legendary Beer Beauty herself, Marverine Cole, who will be guiding myself and 40 other ladies through a range of tasty ales – not a sparkling wine in sight – and matching them to mini pies and bites. A ladies-only affair, it looks set to be a fantastic night at the Old Joint Stock.

With a festive spa-break with my best friend Donna planned and my annual girls’ Christmas Eve champagne brunch to look forward to, I am so looking forward to cracking open the glitter and high heels and getting into the spirit of things. With heaps of work to do, something’s got to give, and I fear it’ll be the gym regime, but hey, Christmas is a time to be merry is it not? 

Corking addition

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Just had the pièce de résistance arrive for the kitchen. Since we only have six chairs, and at last count, had seven guests coming for Christmas dinner, I thought it would be polite to show willing and get at least one extra place. I wanted something a bit quirky that would be a bit of a conversation point, rather than just, you know, a chair.

And here it is – a massive champagne cork; which weighs the equivalent to 1,300 regular champagne corks (heavier than you’d think, let me tell you), and 110 times bigger than an actual champagne cork.

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Shame it didn’t come with the rest of the bottle.

Dress you up – shopping fit for a pop icon

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I’ve had a good few weeks off from buying clothes and accessories as a result of mainly spending my money on kitchen items. This is apart from my beautiful sale-purchase LK Bennett wedges which I fell off within 30 minutes of wearing and removed several chunks from the wooden wedges as well as my flesh, I’m not including those as I am too upset about them.

However, my birthday is approaching and since I refuse to ask for a kettle or a cooker, I’ve been seeking inspiration, which I found last week having discovered Madonna’s new shoe range, Truth or Dare, at Selfridges.

I went to see Madonna for the first time back in 1987 at the Who’s That Girl tour, and having watched her reinvent herself over and over again over the 25 years that have passed since, it was fantastic to get the chance to see her perform the MDNA tour at Hyde Park yesterday. And, spectacular show notwithstanding, I have to say: HOW DOES SHE DO IT?!

It’s no secret that the woman has dedication and a punishing fitness regime that would make an Olympian beg for mercy, but she looks absolutely amazing, and can still put on a hell of a show. I always loved the JPG corset Blonde Ambition days so I was thrilled when, as one of her costume changes, she donned a frame-style corset reminiscent of those days.

Having removed that and the crisp white shirt beneath, she was laced into another corset by one of her dancer that showed just how tiny that toned waist is. Let’s just say my gym resolve has been heightened – I have a long way to go before I could ever look this good.

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Since it could take a good decade for me to get to that steage, I figure it’s wise to Iwork from the feet up, starting by circulating these pictures of the Michonski ankle boots, the Twidwell boots and the Corinie cut out courts to my nearest and dearest in the hope that someone takes the hint. You never know.

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Getting nowhere fast

In Uncategorized on June 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

It’s been a week, but nothing has happened in Operation Kitchen Refurb, other than I’ve covered all the walls in varying shades of purple splodges of paint. This morning, Adam left the house with the words ‘Maybe we should stick to the duck-egg blue’ and left a picture of a white and duck-egg kitchen beside the bed.

The boiler’s being fitted tomorrow, the electrics being sorted this weekend and we even have a date for the plastering, so it’s looking feasible that we can be done by the end of July… IF we can just agree on a damn colour.

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Purple Reign

In home, shopping, Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 at 10:14 am

Hurrah! I’m getting excited now, turns out the best way to get me on board with the outrageous and unplanned expense of a kitchen refit was to allow me to paint part of it purple.

Now that the boy’s agreed*, I am far more inclined to show support and measure walls for cupboards and choose oven hoods.

I’ve now unleashed my inner interior designer and am planning the finished look, which is what I need to do to keep me going through the next few weeks of rewiring, plastering, floor fitting, banging and swearing.

Thanks to the support of my fellow purple passionistas Eve and Liz I’ve now identified tons of purple accessories and appliances, but none of them have excited me as much as this aubergine DeLonghi coffee machine. I may only have one latte a day, but what a stylish way to have it.

Of course, I’ll have to have the kettle and toaster to match.

I’ve also been forced to accept that the Catherine Colebrook picture I’d planned on having simply won’t go with the new colourway, so I’ve set my decided on striking black and white pop-art for impact. Personally, I have set my heart on this shot of Audrey, but as this will be about my fifth attempt to bring her into a room in the house, I have to tread carefully.

But I have a plan – while I see Audrey presiding over the kitchen from the main dining wall, I think I can convince Adam to go for it with the diversionary tactic of suggesting that this guy gets to take centre stage on another.

Not just a hat stand. Oh no.

*in principle, it could all be off by Sunday

Bright idea

In decorating, home, Uncategorized on June 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

Much to my surprise, my proposal to scrap the caramel kitchen colour scheme in favour of a more regal deep purple was not met with utter horror last night. In fact, we’re actually going to pick out a few tester shades to get an idea of the finished effect.

It’s made me wonder if I can push things a bit further. I’m all for the recessed ceiling spotlights we’ve agreed on, but wouldn’t THIS be amazing over the dining table?

I realise there’s the risk that dinner guests will smash their heads in, but really, isn’t that their look out?