Woman in Progress Christmas Gift Guide: For Him

Final obligatory blog gift guide coming up.  I'm always at a bit of a loss with what to get Hugh, my Dad and my brothers.  They're pretty unhelpful when asked for ideas about what they would like so I always end up buying socks.  Hugh is ever-original asking for a Ferrari every year - will that ever get old?  If your man present-buying mojo gets a bit stagnant and repetitive then see what I've found.

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WIP Cocktail Club: Salted Caramel Espresso Martini

In my former life, I was a bit of a salted caramel expert, and whilst making A LOT of them over the last couple of years has dimmed my love of the chewy kind, I still seek it out in most other incarnations (the exception being crisps).  At this time of year (and most others too), an espresso martini is always a winner, and this recipe makes it all the more seasonally special with the addition of, the admittedly ubiquitous, salted caramel.  

My first homemade espresso martini used the recipe from Nigella’s Christmas cookbook, and this version is a complete homage to that - tweaked to capture Salted Caramel in all its glory.

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Woman in Progress Christmas Gift Guide: For Her

I'm one of those helpful people who say "I don't know, nothing really" when asked what I'd like for Christmas.  In case you have to buy for someone just as imaginative, here are our ideas.  Not a sponsor in sight (sigh) but still lots of lovely things to choose from. 

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Woman in Progress: Stacey O'Gorman

Stacey O'Gorman, co-founder of Meringue Girls, food stylist, recipe writer, author and now yoga teacher, has kindly taken time out from from her adventures to tell us her story in her own words and, of course, answer our questions.  "Be grateful for everything you have and take time to reflect on your achievements.  Above all, be playful and don’t ever take life too seriously!" 

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Woman in Progress Christmas Gift Guide: For Little Ones

We couldn't look ourselves in the mirror if we didn't do what most blogs do at this time of year, and create a gift guide.  Most blogs might get theirs sponsored, but ours is genuinely stuff we like.  If you're even remotely organised then this list is probably way too late, sorry.  If however you're disorganised like me then you may even be thinking you have loads of time.  Let me stop you - sit down - Christmas is 20 days away!  

Father Christmas obviously knows all the best things to bring but in case you don't, here are a few favourites.

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Reasons to move to the country #2: London still exists

OK, so this ‘reason’ is a little bit of a cop out, but I have to admit that one of the things I worried about before leaving London was that I'd just miss it too much.  But, four years on, I can let you in on a secret.

London is still there.  

And this is the thing about moving to the country, whichever city you might be moving away from: it still exists, you just might need to make a bit more effort to visit it.  

Here are a few suggestions for places to visit, by no means innovative or unique, but our experiences of them - just in case you need some.

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For the love of pod

I love podcasts.  Whenever I find someone else who's a fan it seems like we've hit on some secret club that we're both part of.  

I think it's the term 'podcast' which puts people off, but really podcasts are simply radio programmes which you can download and listen to whenever you want: in the car, on your commute, when out for a walk, at the gym or just instead of the radio.  You can download them onto your phone or computer using most streaming services, listen to them directly via your computer and there are Podcast apps on most smartphones.  When you've found one you like you can subscribe to it, so your favourites will appear ready to listen to whenever a new one is created.  I've listed my favourites below - including the one which got me obsessed in the first place.  If you don't listen to podcasts already, do please give them a go.

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Woman in Progress: Laura Eperjesi from Laura Eperjesi photography

This week's Woman in Progress is award winning portrait photographer, Laura Eperjesi.  Laura creates timeless images which document family lives, and from experience we know that her photographs and bespoke books are ones to cherish - some of my favourite pictures of my children were taken by her.   Laura found her soulmate at 19 and married him, 33 years ago, and they share three beautiful daughters.  They've also had the chance to live and work in France, Guadeloupe, Jamaica and Hungary whilst bringing up their family, and are now based in The Cotswolds and London.   Thanks so much to Laura for taking the time to answer our questions.

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There are so many positive character traits to encourage and admire but I value kindness above them all.  Inspired by World Kindness Day, I thought I'd jot a few things down.  If nothing else, today is a prompt and a reminder to go out of your way to be extra kind for one day and see where it goes.

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Food rituals: a Halloween tea party

I’m not really sure I’m supposed to love Halloween as much as I do.  It, or rather the over-the-top celebrating-of-it that I love so much, is ‘a bit American’ as my Mum would put it.  But I don’t see that as a bad thing.  The nights are drawing in, which in itself can be a little depressing.  It’s getting colder and I never look as good in a polo neck as I think I should.  But Halloween appears at the end of October and it’s a riot of fun, garishness, slight tackiness and faux-gore hilarity.  Can’t go wrong really.  We're having a tea party after school this year, and I get to indulge my love of this tacky holiday in full.

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October Moodboard

I can't quite believe it's October and nearly Halloween.  I’ve been inspired by the creative side of this holiday so have gathered a few things that caught my eye.  We don’t make it in a big fuss in our house but I love to see how others do it...

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WIP Cocktail Club: a spooky spritzer for Halloween

I love Halloween.  It's something about the kitsch, fake spookiness and the excuse for a party.  And this cocktail, a violet white wine spritzer, is the perfect adult accompaniment to Halloween goings-on.  The good thing about this cocktail is not only is it delicious, but it's also absolutely not restricted to Halloween.  In fact I've had this at my friend Zoe's house in summer and winter and enjoyed it every time, I'm just annoyed with myself for only now requesting the recipe!

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Woman in Progress: Molly Aldridge, M&C Saatchi PR

Our next Woman in Progress is Molly Aldridge, mum to two gorgeous young boys and global CEO of M&C Saatchi PR.  Before joining M&C Saatchi, she set up her own PR firm, SLAM, which she grew from a team of four to over a hundred (whilst having a newborn - we're exhuacasted just writing this).  She combines this with being huge fun and one of the reasons we miss London so much.  

We've also completely abused her inability to say no (see below) by asking her to answer our questions.  Thanks Molly!

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Family resort warning: expect actual live children!

Before we had our own, we were only aware of children in restaurants if they were leaving as we arrived.  Now we’re very conscious of their presence.  We tend to book earlier sittings if the children are tired and only brave later sittings if the stars align and we have a tote bag full of games, crayons, a vast selection of items from the mini toys aisle in Tiger and, of course,  our phones.  Advice for those without children in tow:  if you go to a family restaurant on a family resort, there will definitely be real live, noise-making children. 

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I have a problem with "No"

My name is Nicky and I have a problem with no.  Well, not strictly true, with my children (in certain circumstances that aren't them crying in the supermarket) I’m excellent at it.  I can say it loud and clear and with clout.  Why is it so hard when another adult asks me for something?  Why can’t I say no?

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Nicky Comments
Woman in Progress: Laura Lea from Laura Lea Design

Our latest Woman in Progress is Laura Lea from Laura Lea Design.  Laura founded her Leytonstone boutique three years ago, and in that time her business has gone from strength to strength.  Laura's shop stocks fantastic artists and designers whose work can't be found on the high street (it's a must-go place for great gifts) and Laura also organises pop-up exhibitions around London to expose the artists and designers she represents to new audiences.   We're delighted she's taken the time to answer our questions.

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A love of food rituals and creating a new one

There are many reasons I love cooking. 

I love eating, first and foremost.   I’d rather invest time in cooking something tasty than eat something indifferent.  I also get a huge amount out of the process of cooking itself: a sense of detachment.  My mind can wander as I just focus on the process - it’s meditative almost (that sounds wanky written down).  But it’s also, massively, about the rituals food creates.  The moments and memories that food can conjure.  Eating and laughing together is one of the most joyful of family activities.  And if you cook and eat similar things at similar events, those times, for me, seem to become even more precious.  To separate the food from the occasion becomes impossible.  

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