Thursday, 30 July 2009

The Hummingbird Bakery

I visited The Hummingbird Bakery in Portobello, London last year for one of their infamous cupcakes - London's answer to The Magnolia Bakery in New York as made famous by Sex and the City. The cupcakes are delightful (as most cupcakes are!) and a recent gift from a friend of The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, means that I can now re-create the magic at home.

There is nothing better for me, than a rainy day outside with the comforting smell of home-made cakes inside. I enjoy baking cakes so much, measuring out all of the ingredients and the creativity involved in the icing. I don't get chance to bake that often though and once you've made beautiful cakes you also have to eat them - not good for your waistline!

So I thought I would share one of the recipes from the book, perfect for summer, if a Lavender cupcake takes your fancy at all.

120ml whole milk
3 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
12 small sprigs of lavender (optional)

lavender frosting:
25ml whole milk
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
a couple of drops of purple food colouring (optional)

a 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

Put the milk and dried lavender flowers in a jug, cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible. Do the same with the milk and lavender flowers for the frosting, in a separate jug.

Preheat the oven to 170℃ (325℉) Gas 3.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Strain the lavender-infused milk (for the cupcake) and slowly pour into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the egg and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minuted, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the lavender frosting: Beat together the icing sugar, butter and food colouring, if using, in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Strain the lavender-infused milk and slowly pour into the butter mixture. Once all the milk is incorporated, tun the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

When the cupcakes are cool spoon the lavender frosting on top and decorate with a sprig of lavender, if using.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

1971 Reiss

I have an on-off relationship with up-market high-street brand, Reiss. However, since my recent leather bag purchase, I'm looking upon them favourably again. This lookbook was inside my shopping bag when I got home, facing me with their new campaign for spin-off brand 1971 Reiss

Marketed as younger and edgier than the main Reiss line, this is an attempt to rival the likes of French Connection and All Saints and is due to hit stores 20th August. Founder David Reiss states, 
"We've had a great reaction from the press so far. We want to drive the brand further and cater for a wider audience. It's not really about lower prices - there are some lower entry price points, but also some at the high end. There's a lot of loyalty to the brand and shoppers that would love to have a wider offer. The mainline is having more luxury elements added and we need to add a more casual aspect to our offer (with 1971). We've been working on it for a while and this will be a major growth area for the usiness. We'll open a concept store in Liverpool One later this year which will have a large amount of space dedicated to the 1971 range".
My main concern with Reiss (apart from the hefty high-street price tag), is that although they follow a 'classic with a twist' ethic that I like, lately their pieces have been a little too conservative for my taste. This new line looks as though it will give me the edge to Reiss that I would like and judging by the images in the lookbook there is a definite buying opportunity with the range.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Rain in Style

Lisbeth Dahl at Plumo umbrella

I received this Edwardian style umbrella as a birthday gift, so I can now step out in style for this unpredictable British weather we're currently having.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Scottish Adventures

My weekend in pictures...

Start the weekend with a large capuccino from Starbucks

Stop off in Edinburgh first... 

... calling at Harvey Nichols for lunch and shopping

Then on to Glasgow, where we stayed in St Jude's apart-hotel

Then a great night out, with far too many cocktails - and no camera! Not too many purchases, as I'm saving (or trying not to spend!) my money for my upcoming trip to Paris

Reiss mushroom butter-soft leather bag

H&M jersey - Black bat-wing draped dress ❖ Khaki jumpsuit ❖ Purple dress with huge shoulder pads

Friday, 24 July 2009

My name is...

When the lovely people at mynamenecklace offered to send me one of their infamous nameplate necklaces, I could not resist choosing my 'cyber name' for the inscription.

Although everyone on the planet is already familiar with Carrie's ongoing relationship with hers throughout the whole of the SATC series, to me this necklace has become one of those cult and classic items that I'm so fond of. No matter that Carrie made them famous more than a decade ago, they still have that personal longevity quality that will remain forever cool.

If you too fancy investing in an iconic piece of jewellery, quote PNKBW for a little discount and worldwide shipping.

I have had a very hectic week this week. I have a week's holiday from work next week and I'm heading to Glasgow for the weekend in the morning. Needless to say, the preparation for the fun and frivolity to come has left me little time to catch up on my favourite blogs. I'm looking forward to having a week of leisure and being able to have the time to get back to my normal commenting, reading and blogging routine. Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Coffee & Cream

Today's outfit was inspired by these fabulous coffee  and cream limited edition Andrex® Shea Butter Knickers designed by up and coming British lingerie designer Ayten Gasson. They are launched to celebrate a new luxurious toilet tissue - Andrex® Shea Butter. The Shea Butter enriched sheets, scented inner core and luxurious dark brown packaging is designed to give you a fabulous feeling.

Vintage inspired lingerie designer Ayten Gasson has been specializing in beautiful panties and glamorous bralets for over four years. In that short time, the young designer has established herself in many of the world's most luxurious boutiques, including Bordello in London, Boudiche in Glasgow and Belfast, She Said in Brighton, Lilou de Blacon in Paris, and Oh Baby in America. Ayten Gasson lingerie is also available in Top Shop's flagship store in London's Oxford Street. To maintain a high level of quality, and in the grand old tradition, each piece is hand made in order to obtain a perfect, comfortable, and elegant finish. Shapes and styles are sourced from vintage lingerie patterns to create individual yet exquisite pieces.

I am not usually that bothered about my underwear - basic cottons from M&S usually suffice, I would rather spend the money on outerwear. But every now and again I will splash out on some divine lingerie and these knickers definitely are the most luxurious. Made from the finest silk, they include a Shea Butter panel which gives them an extra silky touch. Not only are these exclusive knickers available to buy for only £10 per pair but £5 from the sale of each pair is donated to the "Look Good... Feel Better" charity. They tied in very well with the coffee and cream theme of my dress, tights and shoes today.

H&M brown smock dress ❖ Andrex® Shea Butter knickers by Ayten Gasson ❖ John Lewis cream tights ❖ Ebay cream ribbon shoes

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

10 Reasons... to love Paris

I have just booked a long weekend in Paris for the end of next month. As an obsessive list-maker, I decided to remind myself just why Paris is one of my favourite cities.

1. Dreaming of another era through the streets of Boulevard Saint-Germain and Boulevard Saint-Michel whilst listening to Air's Left Bank  

2. My first trip on the Eurostar

3. Re-reading Sartre and de Beauvoir

4. Being able to use my new Paris Moleskine

5. Non stop Parisian inspiration from the Cherry Blossom Girl

6. Eating Laduree macaroons

7. Infamous Paris landmarks - the Sacre Coeur amongst many others

8. Shopping - in particular Galleries Lafayette

9. Flea-markets - this image is from a previous visit to Portes de Vanves

10. A trip to Versailles to be able to see scenes from one of my favourite films Marie Antoinette

Do any of you have any other good tips on amazing places to visit in Paris?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Saturday, 18 July 2009


On Thursday, I took another afternoon off work for the last chance to see the film Gigantic at my local independent cinema - this cinema can be depended upon to show only the best indie films, so I always keep up with what they're showing. I'm pleased that my time off wasn't wasted, the film was so good. It was a fairly simple love story but done in a quirky manner with many surprising twists. It acted out the dialogue style similar to films such as 2 Days in Paris and Before Sunrise, After Sunset.

I'm a big fan of Zooey Deschanel and if you're happy to watch a film for a fashion fix, her choice of clothing will definitely hit the spot. It looked to me as though she had styled herself as the clothing and accessories were so in keeping with her own off-set style. I couldn't find many images that focussed solely on her clothes, those above are all I could find but they give a hint of how good she looked.