My weekend has mainly been spent…

Gourmet Burger Kitchen Bristol Gourmet Burger Kitchen Bristol Izzy and Franky College Green Bristol Jesse throwing a tantrum Nutella French Toast Roll Ups Apple Scrumble Birthday Candles Izzy

  • Trying to persuade Jesse to go back to sleep until the sun came up.
  • Lingering beneath the covers for as long as possible.
  • Dragging myself downstairs for a cup of tea.
  • Snuggling on the sofa with the children while we all waited for Mr. LA’s brother to surface. He’s been staying with us for the last week.
  • Grabbing a quick breakfast and jumping in the shower.
  • Pulling on a frock, black opaques and my beloved Lotta clogs. They’re rarely off my feet and I’m already planning my next purchase.
  • Riding the bus into town.
  • Slowly making our way up Park Street.
  • Popping into the Music Room to buy a songbook for Izzy. She’s just started learning the guitar and so far she’s really enjoying it.
  • Stopping for lunch at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. So much love for their Camemburger. And the sweet potato fries. And the baconnaise.
  • Eating too much.
  • Continuing up the hill to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
  • Trailing after the children as they rushed from room to room, marvelling at dinosaurs, exotic animals and curious rocks and minerals.
  • Listening to them both chatter about the paintings and sculptures on display. This was actually the first time Jesse showed any interest in the art galleries and I really enjoyed hearing his take on things.
  • Popping to a few shops before meandering back to the harbourside.
  • Dodging the crowds as we strolled past the market stalls.
  • Waiting patiently for a bus.
  • Doing my best to ignore Jesse as he threw a tantrum that involved rolling around on the floor and whinging loudly.
  • Feeling sleepy all the way home.
  • Collapsing on the sofa.
  • Drinking tea and waiting for our online shop to be delivered.
  • Packing groceries away while the children played.
  • Cooking and eating Asian Style Salmon and Noodle Broth.
  • Wrestling the children into the bath.
  • Reading Jesse a few chapters from The Twits*. Oh how we love Roald Dahl!
  • Sipping wine as the men agonised over which film to watch.
  • Giving up on Sinister half way through. Not my cup of tea at all.
  • Falling into bed around midnight.
  • Waking up to early morning cuddles from Jesse.
  • Drifting in and out of sleep.
  • Eventually making my brother-in-law a birthday breakfast while Mr. LA wrapped his presents.
  • Waking the birthday boy and tucking into Nutella French Toast Roll Ups.
  • Spending most of the morning in the kitchen.
  • Discovering Pushkin Press via an interview on BBC Radio 6. I’ll be ordering Izzy The Letter for the King*. It sounds fabulous.
  • Making scrumble {again} with windfall apples from my neighbours garden.
  • Cooking up a huge pot of chicken, sausage and prawn jambalaya.
  • Chatting and laughing our way through lunch.
  • Lighting candles and singing happy birthday.
  • Watching The Addams Family. The children had never seen it before and I’d forgotten how funny it is.
  • Falling asleep on the sofa.
  • Frantically finishing my chores when I realised the time.
  • Making the children beans on toast for supper.
  • Coaxing them into the bath.
  • Reading bedtime stories and giving goodnight kisses.
  • Feeling too lazy to cook.
  • Munching on haribo and popcorn instead.
  • Being banished to our bedroom so the men can watch Game of Thrones.
  • Looking forward to curling up underneath my duvet and falling asleep very soon.

Love Audrey xxx

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Love Audrey Adores ~ PicStick Photo Magnets

PicStick Photo Magnets

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I take a lot of photos. The ones you see on the pages of Love Audrey are really just the tip of an enormous photographic iceberg. My camera comes everywhere with me, and I have no idea how I managed to survive without Instagram for so long.

While there’s never a shortage of photos on the numerous digital devices I have in my possession, I am pretty useless at printing pictures off and displaying them anywhere other than online. I’m determined to put this right, so as well as pulling together a gallery wall filled with family photos, I also accepted PicStick‘s kind offer to transform some of my favourite images into the beautiful photo magnets you see below.     Picstick Instagram Photo Magnets

For the uninitiated, PicSticks are high quality glossy photographic magnets. Each photo measures 50x65mm and is 0.7mm thick. They come as a grid of 9 photos that can be easily separated by tearing along the perforations or simply bending and snapping them apart.

The process is simple. It takes no time at all to set up an account and you then have the option of uploading photos from your computer, phone or tablet. You can even connect to Facebook and Dropbox.

For my 9 magnets I used a mixture of my favourite Instagram pics and a few from my DSLR. The children feature heavily in my selection and I tried to choose images that would remind me of summer as we head into what will no doubt be a long, harsh winter. Picstick Instagram Photo Magnets

Full disclosure: I cleared a lot of crap from the front of my refrigerator to take this photo. Truth is, I desperately needed more magnets to make my rather chaotic ‘fridge filing system’ function properly. You would not believe the amount of admin involved in having two children at school! I may regularly fail to pay for school dinners, but at least I can now pin the bill up with a pretty picture before forgetting about it completely.

Each sheet of 9 photos costs $14.99 or £9.50 and you can choose which currency you would like to pay in. Shipping is super speedy and free to anywhere in the world, so there are no additional fees. Better still, PicStick are offering readers of Love Audrey a 25% discount on their order. Simply enter code AUDREY25 at the checkout. Forgive my use of the C word before the beginning of December, but I happen to think these would make excellent little Christmas gifts!

Love Audrey xxx

My magnets were a gift from PicStick, but all words and opinions are my own. Discount code valid until 31.10.14.

My weekend has mainly been spent…

Nutella French Toast Rolls Ice Cream Cone with Flake Troopers Hill Bristol Troopers Hill Bristol Troopers Hill Bristol

  • Cuddling with Jesse when he slid under the covers beside me some time around 6am.
  • Lingering beneath the duvet while Mr. LA entertained the children downstairs.
  • Dragging myself out of bed for a cup of tea.
  • Making Nutella French Toast Rolls inspired by French For Cupcake. We’ve definitely found a new favourite weekend breakfast!
  • Catching up on chores. We cleaned the house from top to bottom and it felt so good when we finally finished around 6 hours later! Note to self: don’t leave it so long next time.
  • Slow cooking a joint of pork ready to be pulled and then doused in homemade barbecue sauce. For reference, I always follow a variation of this recipe.
  • Jumping in the shower and pulling on some clothes just in time for Mr. LA’s brother to arrive.
  • Sipping tea and catching up.
  • Letting the children run outside when we heard the familiar chime of an ice cream van passing by.
  • Discovering that a ninety-nine ice cream no longer costs 99p.
  • Preparing a huge bowl of southern style slaw.
  • Listening from the kitchen as the children played in the bath tub and pulled on their jimjams.
  • Settling down for dinner. It always makes me smile when a meal that has had hours and hours in the oven is demolished in under twenty minutes.
  • Kissing the kids goodnight and pouring myself a glass of wine.
  • Nibbling on Pringles while watching Paranormal Activity 3. Meh, it didn’t frighten me at all!
  • Feeling a little tipsy as I clambered into bed.
  • Cursing yet another 5am weekend wakeup call courtesy of Jesse. He actually fell back to sleep. I didn’t.
  • Begrudgingly heading downstairs at sunrise.
  • Peeling Bramley apples for {another} scrumble.
  • Feeling a little better about the lack of sleep as the scent of them steeped in sugar and cinnamon filled my kitchen.
  • Needing lots of tea.
  • Prepping food for Sunday lunch with my aunt and uncle while Mr. LA fixed breakfast for the children.
  • Luxuriating in the shower.
  • Nattering on the phone to my mum while my hair drip dried.
  • Finishing my makeup and making a start on the filling for chicken and mushroom pie.
  • Welcoming our guests at the door.
  • Loving the sight of the children chatting and playing with my dad’s brother. If they can never know their Grandpa, it’s the next best thing.
  • Relishing the opportunity to share a big meal with my family.
  • Eating too much.
  • Worrying we wouldn’t be able to coax Jesse out of the house as he was so tired. Bribery did the trick. Thank goodness for chocolate.
  • Heading to Troopers Hill for a walk through the woods.
  • Watching the children climb trees, play with sticks and fly through the air on a rope swing.
  • Slowly wandering home for another cup of tea before my aunt and uncle departed.
  • Clearing the debris in the kitchen and collapsing on the sofa.
  • Feeling exhausted in the best possible way.
  • Letting Mr. LA treat us to a take away.
  • Climbing into bed and watching Suits until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Love Audrey xxx

Bristol Beginnings ~ One Year On

New House Bristol

I wonder when we’ll stop calling the new house ‘new’?

It’s feels like home now. I think. It’s definitely grown familiar, become part of the patchwork of our lives.

We’ve changed so much, yet nothing is finished. Where there’s paint on the walls, there’s no carpet underfoot. Where we’ve built shelves and bought furniture there’s an endless expanse crying out for those all important finishing touches. Temporary measures have taken on a permanence that makes me wonder if we’ll ever plough through our ‘to do’ list and call this place ‘done’.

A few rooms remain completely untouched. The attic, our bedroom. Sometimes I struggle to sleep, adrift in a sea of chaos that continues to swarm with upturned moving boxes and endless posessions that have no home of their own. Still. One year on.

Were we right to move? Was the move we made the right one? Are we happier, more fulfilled?

I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. Earlier this year, I stumbled across a quote from Jeanette Winterson that immediately resonated with me. The words continue to swim inside my mind whenever I find myself questioning the way our lives are unfolding.

‘When we make a change, it’s so easy to interpret our unsettledness as unhappiness, and our unhappiness as a result of having made the wrong decision. Our mental and emotional states fluctuate madly when we make big changes in our lives, and some days we could tight-rope across Manhattan and other days we are too weary to clean our teeth. This is normal. This is natural. This is change.’

There’s a lot I miss about Exeter and there are things I dislike about Bristol. Watching the city slowly reveal itself to me over the last 12 months has been a bit like falling in love again. The real test was always going to be finding room in our hearts for its flaws and imperfections. You have to open your eyes to its harsh reality, see the city stripped back, bare, before you can say ‘It’s ok, I like you just the way you are’.

Life isn’t perfect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. I doubt this is our forever home, but I don’t need it to be. I could lament the fact we don’t live closer to the park, pine for the picturesque school run of days done by, or agonise over ‘better’ houses a few streets away. I’m too busy throwing down roots though, because I love this place, this house, our home.

I suspect I’ll love it even more when we finally, finally finish unpacking. Maybe by this time next year? I live in hope.

Read our Exeter Ending here and more Bristol Beginnings here, here and here.

Love Audrey xxx

My weekend has mainly been spent…

Egg and Bacon Cups Family Photo Picture Wall Izzy Jesse Playing Fish Pie and Apple Scrumble

  • Waking up as Jesse climbed into our bed.
  • Drifting back to sleep while Mr. LA headed downstairs to make tea and coffee.
  • Snuggling with Izzy for a while. She told me recently that she misses lying in bed with us at the weekend. Jesse wakes early, so we’re often downstairs by the time she surfaces.
  • Sleepily joining the boys beneath a blanket on the sofa.
  • Sipping tea and watching Tin Tin cartoons on Netflix
  • Cooking and eating Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups for breakfast. So good.
  • Gradually preparing to face the day. I was determined to slow down this weekend as I’ve been caught in a bit of a funk recently.
  • Catching the bus to Kingswood.
  • Excitedly stocking up on picture frames in Wilkos before rushing home to plan our family photo gallery.
  • Tucking into sweet potato chilli for lunch.
  • Losing ourselves in boxes {and digital folders} of photos, trying to pick our favourites and settle on a layout.
  • Snoozing on the sofa while the children watched a movie.
  • Reluctantly sorting laundry.
  • Inhaling the scent of bonfires and crisp, cool air as I hung the washing out to dry. It smelt like autumn.
  • Making meatballs and spaghetti.
  • Eating too much.
  • Reading Jesse a few pages from The Enormous Crocodile*. I’m so glad he’s fallen in love with Roald Dahl just like his sister before him.
  • Sipping wine and watching A Million Ways to Die in the West. It was so awful we actually switched it off before the end!
  • Retreating to bed.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Waking myself up with a bowl of porridge and a mug of tea.
  • Agreeing to an even lazier day than the one before.
  • Feeling content as the children played in their PJs.
  • Not doing very much at all.
  • Poaching apples in sugar and cinnamon.
  • Wishing my home could always smell as delicious as it did while they bubbled away on the stove.
  • Sitting down to a light lunch.
  • Curling up on the sofa to watch Hugo. Such a beautiful children’s film.
  • Drifting in and out of sleep as the kids remained glued to the movie.
  • Throwing open the French doors and encouraging the children to get some fresh air while I made dinner.
  • Smiling as they disappeared inside the tipi with colouring pens and paper. We barely heard a sound from them for the next hour.
  • Preparing fish pie for supper. It’s Mr. LA’s favourite.
  • Transforming the apples from earlier into scrumble. If you’ve never tried this half scone, half crumble hybrid, you really must. It’s amazing!
  • Eating way, way too much.
  • Depositing the children in the tub and giving the bathroom a quick scrub while they frolicked in the water.
  • Tucking Jesse into bed.
  • Sitting with Izzy for a while before she headed to bed herself.
  • Drinking tea while typing this blog post.
  • Looking forward to an early night and hoping I have the energy for another long week ahead.

Love Audrey xxx

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Love Audrey Bakes ~ Plum & Pecan Crumble

Plum and Pecan Crumble

Asking me which fruit I enjoy most in my crumble is like asking me to pick a favourite child. I just can’t do it. You could present me with plain old apple, apple and blackberry, pear and ginger, rhubarb or gooseberry and I’d be more than happy to tuck in. I’m even fairly open minded about the whole cream/ice cream/custard debate. Seriously, it’s all good.

But asking me which crumble I enjoy making the most is an entirely different issue. While I relish the simplicity of unadulterated apple, this plum and pecan beauty will always win outright. There’s something so enticing about the way the ruby red fruit glistens as you pull it out of the oven, filling the kitchen with their sugary aroma. Drenched in sweet, buttery syrup, the juices bubble up and burst through the golden, nutty crumble topping in such a satisfying way.     Plum and Pecan Crumble

Originally from How to be a Domestic Goddess*, I’ve followed this recipe many times in the past. On this occasion the fruit was foraged; a kilo of plums presented to me by our friendly neighbour two doors down. Only this afternoon, he popped round with a bag of windfalls from his apple tree. I certainly don’t regret telling his wife just how much I love baking. ‘Hello dear,’ he says with a smile. ‘Margot thought you might want these for a pie or something.’

My new Le Creuset Oval Pie Dish {c/o House of Fraser} was the perfect vessel in which to bake such a comforting, homely pud. I’ve shared nostalgic kitchen memories of this iconic French brand before, and I’ve fallen for their stoneware just as readily. Plum and Pecan Crumble

You will need:

{for the filling}

  • Approximately 1kg of plums
  • 30g unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 2-4 tbsp light muscovado sugar, depending on sourness of fruit
  • 1 scant tbsp cornflour

{for the crumble topping}

  • 150g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 150g demerara sugar
  • 200g pecans, some chopped finely, some left larger or whole

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5 and put in a baking sheet.

2. Halve the plums and put them cut-side up in the dish. You may not need all of them, but squeeze in as many as will fit comfortably. Dot with the butter, sprinkle with sugar and place the uncovered dish in the oven for 20 minutes. You want the fruit’s juices to have run a little and the fruit itself to be moving towards tender.

3. While the plums are cooking, prepare the crumble topping. Rub the butter into the flour, either with your fingers {my preference} or in a free-standing mixer with the flat paddle. I’m inclined to agree with Nigella when she suggests the processor creates too fine a crumb. Fork the sugar and nuts into the crumble mixture, and set aside for a moment.

4. When the plums have had their time in the oven, pour some of the liquid into a small bowl in which you have placed the cornflour. Mix to a paste, then stir into the plum dish. Add the crumble topping, pressing down lightly around the edges, before placing the dish back on the baking sheet inside the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the crumble is cooked and speckled golden-brown.

Trust me, this crumble makes everything better. What will you be baking this weekend? Tempted by plum and pecan?

Love Audrey xxx

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