WIP Cocktail Club: a Winter Negroni perfect for Valentine's Day
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I want to stay in
And drink negronis with you.
 

To be fair, this cocktail is equally good on any other day, but it's a great one for Valentine's evening - or a night with friends instead.  It takes moments to make, and is gloriously warming and, undeniably, strong.  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

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Finally it's February!

I've never been a big fan of January 1st, I'm feeling much more love for today, the 1st of February.  There's less pressure.  We are both keeping our resolutions (so far) and perhaps we'll write about some of the things we resolved to do as the year goes on.  Unlike our first two Women in Progress of this year, Sidonie and Caroline, Laura and I kept January for ourselves to get over Christmas, rest, hibernate a little longer and just get back into the swing of things.  Finally, it's February!

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Woman in Progress: Caroline Arthur, bridal design

With a Royal marriage later this year we thought we'd get in early and interview a bridal designer.  Our latest Woman in Progress is Caroline Arthur, couture designer, who launched a successful business by teaming her creative talents and eye for the beautiful with what many women anticipate as the best day of their lives.  If I had a wedding to plan Caroline would be on my list of people to meet!  Thank you for taking time to answer our questions and for the insight into your life.  Photo: Gabriella Norton

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Woman in Progress: Sidonie Warren from Papersmiths and Two Palms

At the latest count, I think I owned approximately 493 notebooks, with which I will, I'm sure, construct my plans to eventually conquer the world.  My stationery habit has been mentioned before, and it's given free reign to go crazy in the business of this week's Woman in Progress, Sidonie Warren.  Sidonie founded Papersmiths, home of beautiful stationery, in 2012.  We've been huge fans of Papersmiths for a while, and are thrilled that not only has Sidonie agreed to be our Woman in Progress, but also that she's now launching a new business, Two Palms, selling homewares and 'goods for the soul'.  I feel some spending coming on...

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Woman in Progress: Laetitia Maklouf

Our final Woman in Progress of 2017 is the wonderful Laetitia Maklouf.  Laetitia's funny and informative Instagram feed (a nearly impossible combo to get right) is where we first 'met' and we've been hooked ever since.  Whether you're a keen gardener or just starting out, her newsletter is one of our favourite emails of the week and a real motivation to achieve a bit of gardening every week.  Sign up to it here.  

We're thrilled that Laetitia's taken the time to answer our questions.

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Christmas Food Rituals and the Ambassador's Rocky Road

Christmas for me, is all about the food.

Yes it’s about the real meaning of Christmas (whatever that might be to you), it’s about the magic of it all for children, it's celebrating and laughing with family, and the John Lewis advert, but it’s also, very much so, about food.

Here are some of my favourite Christmas food rituals, and a very special new recipe for rocky road that could be served at even an ambassador's party...

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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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Kindness

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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