Going back to my roots

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Who remembers me as an illustrator?! It seriously feels like such a long time since I properly freelanced. I've sporadically done commissions over the past couple of years, but I am here to say that I'm back (it's taken all my power not to quote Dirty Dancing lyrics right now) and I've opened up a big cartel shop to make it a little easier to order commissions.

Click here loves.

So as you can probably tell I have got my creative juices (ew) flowing again and I am ready pick up that paintbrush and go. I really feel that I had lost myself over the past few years and even more so in the last few months. This year has been a particular tough one for my family and I but I'm ready to make 2018 the one full of possibility, happiness and hope. Matt and I are getting married in October so that opens a completely new and exciting chapter in our lives and we have decided that we really need to uproot and find ourselves somewhere new and different (we're looking at you Manchester) I love London and all it's amazing places to explore but as someone who has lived basically in the same region her whole life, a change is more then welcome. I've recently noticed how superficial - not saying a move will change that but it's how I currently feel and how little opportunities and offerings there actually is for us now. It's near to impossible to buy a house in the area we currently live and everything (not just property) is so expensive. So with just over two weeks left of 2017 and the new year on the horizon, for me it will all be about quality of life, respecting the fact that life is short and trying to do as much of what makes myself and my loved ones happy eg focusing on my creative side and trying to be my truest self and as in the moment as I can with my nearest and dearest.


It's Christmas time in the city

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Michael Buble has been on repeat since the end of November, ELF has been quoted left right and centre, mince pies have been warming in the oven and we've even had a dusting of snow to get us in the mood.With it being just over a week to go (whutttt!where has that time gone?!) the Christmas lead up is well under way. Throughout December I love seeing the city come to festive life. Sparkling, shining and looking it's very best.

I've made a list (checking it twice..) of some of my favourite festive views and spots to visit before the big day. Guaranteed to make even the Grinch's out there feel the warm and fuzzies.

Covent Garden
There is just something about those huge sparkling balls (chuckle) and twinkling mistletoe decorations that get me every year, I'm not even mad that they've been the same for several years running now. Whether it's day time or once the sun goes down, it is one of my favourite places to meander and take it all in with a loved one.

Why not share a mulled wine with someone at the crusting pipe and listen to one of the performers, as you sip and snuggle up under a blanket.

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Carnarby Street

This year they've gone all tropic on us and it is a lot of fun. Palm trees, parrots and colour! Home to the ever beautiful Liberty store with the most photographed flower entrance and my most favourite curated looking shopping destination and in  my opinion one of the best Christmas departments.

The Ritz
Fancy a festive afternoon tea which of coarse happens to have The Ritz price tag attached, but worth every penny if you enjoy your fancy fancy hotel settings and service. I've enjoyed normal afternoon tea here before but for Christmas you get to take a Ritz teddy bear away with you, carols sung as you dine and the gorgeous decorations surrounding you.

Even if that doesn't float your boat, walking around the outside and seeing the iconic decorations really gets me in the festive mood early on and whilst your in the Green Park area...

Whilst also in Greenpark take a wander down Old Bond Street and spot the beautiful shops all done up. Especially everyone's instagram favourites Tiffany and Cartier. Also make sure to check out Burlington Arcades and Fortnum and Masons (staircase shot) because they are always a treat.

Columbia Road
A great place to be any time of the year but as soon as December hits, it's my favourite. The smell of the pine trees, mistletoe hanging, all the green leaves, red berries and lingering scent of mulled wine. Perfect place to pick up some blooms or festive decorations for your table centre piece.

The Winter Forest 
Situated just behind Liverpool street station in Broadgate you will find Christmas trees for as far as the eye can see, twinkling lights and a teepee bar serving food as well as festive tipples. Open all week during the day and night - worth seeing it in both scenarios.

Leadenhall market
A short walk from London Bridge you will find one of my favourite places to visit in the heart of the city. Leadenhall market is only open on week days and will be filled with workers at lunchtime as surrounding areas include Bank and Moorgate. Impressive architecture and attractive at any time of the year but especially so when they erect the Christmas tree and dot the lights all around.

Find yourself on a very busy Oxford Street? Well then take a little detour away from the hectic streets and go do a stride by of the very famous hotel to view the beautiful decorations and if you can pop in  they've got a corker of a tree and it's upside down of all things, v. cool. I visited Claridges for a very special birthday afternoon tea last month and it was probably one of my favourites that I have experienced.

Somerset House
Whether you fancy going ice skating or just to watch people attempt it for themselves. I went last year to Hampton Court and that was quite enough struggling and hugging strangers then needs to be repeated - yes I ended up hugging a stranger in an attempt to stay upright... ha. There's plenty to do even if that doesn't tick the boxes for you, Fortnum and Masons has once again taken over the arcade with goodies galore and the very cosy looking lodge where you can enjoy a hot chocolate as the chill sets in outside. 

Now time to warm up with  hot drink after all that sight seeing...

Situated in Marble Arch is this funfair themed winter rooftop bar. I can vouch for the hot gin punch being a bit of a winner, especially on these minus degree weather days!

Get cosy under a blanket (every seat has one, yaaas)  and take a break from all that Christmas shopping on the rooftop lodge.


Jammy Dodger Biscuits

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I've made plenty of recipes from the Ms Cupcake cookbook since I got it and thought it was about time I made these jammy little biscuits. The dough itself is really easy to make and produces a really wholesome and tasty biscuit.

Shop bought Jammie Dodgers used to be one of those 'accidentaly vegan' products and admittedly they were never my favourite biscuit but nevertheless something that is vegan friendly is a-ok by me but recently they started unnecessarily adding milk powder making them a no go altogether. But these little home made jammy treats in my opinion tastes a whole lot nicer and of coarse fresher. 

350g Plain flour
1 Tsp Bicarb of Soda
Pinch of salt
140g Dairy free butter
100g Brown sugar 
3 Tbsp Golden syrup
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
Seedless jam of your preference
Icing sugar for dusting

Preheat your oven to 180c and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper

In a bowl mix together the flour, bicarb and salt. Then in a separate bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, syrup and vanilla. Once mixed, slowly start adding to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine or you can use your hands until it comes together as a dough. 

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can last up to a week in the fridge) once chilled, roll out the dough on to a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out as many shapes as you can. Using some very small cookie cutters (like these) cut out the shape in the middle of half of the cookies, or you can use a sharp knife and freehand. 

Bake the cookies for 8-12 minutes - you want them cooked through but not too browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack until cool cooled completely. Spread the whole cookies with a dollop of  jam. Place the cookies with a peek-a-boo window on top, allowing some jam to peek through and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

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