Archive for November, 2009

The Nutcracker by the Royal Ballet

November 29, 2009

Christmas is only a few weeks away and I’m looking forward to December 1st to finally be able to get into the Christmas spirit! Mince pies, carols, decorations, Christmas shopping and mulled wine…the run-up to Christmas day itself is often the most fun part of this holiday, which can be a bit intense at times! One of the loveliest Christmas traditions in Britain are the pantomimes, such as Cinderella or Snow White, and classic ballets such as The Nutcracker and The Snow Queen, which transport children and adults alike to a world of comedy, beauty and wonder.

Having grown up in France, I never had the chance to attend one of these traditional Christmas shows and it was always my mother’s ambition that I would some day see one. That day finally came on Thursday! A friend of a friend works at the Royal Opera House and managed to get us free tickets to the rehearsal of The Nutcracker. (Thank you Lou and Ryan!) Apparently, they never rehearse The Nutcracker usually because it is such a well-known, well-rehearsed piece. But this year, it is being filmed for the BBC so they needed to get all the cameras ready.

I’d never been to the Royal Opera House before as tickets are so dear and hard to come by. But honestly, it is a thing of beauty. The interior is domed, gold and red velvet adorn the walls and seats and the show itself…well! Let’s just say I cried many times at the incredible display of beauty.

The detail put into the costumes, sets and movements of each and every dancer is breathtaking and even a little overwhelming. The audience is transported from the traditional Victorian Christmas party to a world ruled by toys and fairies. The costumes were really incredible, especially those of the Snow Fairies.

Having done ballet for a few years, I completely understand the amount of effort, practice, precision and discipline that it must have taken to achieve such a beautiful ballet. Yet, even I was fooled by the dancers who make it look so easy! Illusions of dancing on air, lifting the women like feather pillows…but behind all that, the weight and pull of gravity…Astounding. It can’t only me who thinks there is something so wrong, yet so right, about fit men in tights!

The orchestra also did a fantastic job, playing Tchaikovsky’s music as it should be and moving me to tears. If you haven’t seen it, try getting tickets for next year, I hear they are already sold out!

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Cookie Girl Cupcake Decorating Class

November 6, 2009

I was lucky enough to attend a Cupcake Decorating Class last night at Westbourne Studios, West London, with the lovely Cookie Girl, aka Xanthe Milton. She has a book coming out in March which I highly recommend, having seen a sneak preview, entitled “Eat me!” Alice in Wonderland eat your heart out.

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There were about 9 of us attending and we each got a cute pinafore, piping bag and nozzle. Luckily for us all the hard work had been done by Cookie Girl beforehand: the cupcakes had been baked, the icing prepared in many beautiful shades and the hundreds of sprinkles were all at our disposal! She demonstrated 5 different ways of piping and we tried them all out. Then we free-styled on 3 more, ending up with 8 cupcakes each which we got to take home in little white boxes! Very cute cupcakes that taste amazing! My friends were so impressed with my decorating skills.

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All the glitter you can see is edible! How cool is that! And here is the first one I did. A bit wonky but I love it because it looks like a hat 🙂

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Here is a close up of the Rose cupcake, where you start by piping on the inside of the cupcake and working your way out:

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All in all a great way to spend 2 hours!

Cupcakes galore!

November 6, 2009

Decided to make some cupcakes having not made any for yonks! My first attempt was not even worthy of pictures, they all sunk! Terrible. I slept on it and dreamt of tasting my cupcakes as they used to be…and then came the epiphany! I used to use an electric hand held whisk which made the mix much fluffier. So, off to Argos I went and got myself a lovely Russell Hobbs whisk with 5 speeds, 2 types of attachement: dough and whisks, and all for £14! wooo! Bargain!

So worth the purchase, it made all the difference. My cupcakes came out light, fluffy and just as I remember making them the first time. Yay! I then made some royal and butter cream icing for them and here is the result:

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Pea and gammon soup

November 6, 2009

The clocks have gone back which means it now gets dark at 5pm. All my body wants to do is hibernate and eat stodgy, comfort food. I decided to try my hand at the classic ham and pea soup and the results were quite pleasing!

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Here’s my recipe for a tasty, comforting soup, ideal for a cold autumn night:

Pea and Gammon Soup

Serves 6

What you need:

1 red onion, chopped.

750g unsmoked gammon joint.

750g frozen peas.

Pork flavoured stock cube.

1L boiling water.

A few sprigs of fresh mint.

Salt and pepper.

What you need to do:

  • First, dice the gammon joint into inch thick chunks. Keep the fat.
  • Heat a frying pan or wok and when it is hot, place the gammon fat in. Stir for 2mins until the fat starts to sizzle and ooze out and then add the gammon. This is so that the gammon doesn’t go too tough and keeps the flavour from the fat.
  • Fry the gammon for 5-10mins until it’s completely cooked. Then remove the fat.
  • While the gammon is frying, boil 1L of water. Add the boiled water to a jug with the pork stock cube. Stir until dissolved.
  • Add the stock and chopped red onion to the frying pan. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for 30mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, place the peas in a big saucepan. Add a few mint leaves and stir.
  • After 30mins of simmering, add the mix from the frying pan into the saucepan. Be careful when you do this! Bring to the boil and leave for another 20mins.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and blend all the ingredients, using a soup blender. If the soup is too thick, add some boiling water.
  • Serve with a mint leaf on top and warm, crusty bread and butter! Yummy 🙂

Let me slowly peel your petals

November 1, 2009

Let me slowly peel your petals

Playfully- finding out about your dislike of celery and the colour of your first bicycle.

 

Let me slowly peel your petals

Gently- listening to your worries of times past, present and of things to come.

 

Let me slowly peel your petals

Seductively- discovering what makes you tick, tingle and how best to tantalize you.

 

Let me slowly peel your petals

Sincerely- allowing you to trust me with your all, knowing I won’t betray you.

 

Instead- I will feel blessed that your have allowed me to slowly peel your petals

And every day, taste the sweet nectar of your soul.

Life flow

November 1, 2009

 

Flow      flow     flow

Bump into a Rock.

Drown

a

bit.

Then                                       Top.

paddle to the

 

At the surface, grab a TwIg.

 

Flow    flow    flow          onto a                Lilly Pad

and settle down

 

Until  the next

Storm.