My weekend has mainly been spent…

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  • Longing for a little more sleep after Jesse stumbled into my room around 5.45am.
  • Listening to Izzy cough and splutter. She woke up with a nasty cold.
  • Wishing Mr. LA wasn’t working away. I’ve a long run of solo parenting ahead while he’s shooting in Thailand. Lucky sod.
  • Sipping tea on the sofa.
  • Eventually summoning enough energy to make breakfast.
  • Very much enjoying my waffle iron, a fabulous Christmas gift from my in-laws. This recipe hasn’t failed me yet and I like mine topped with sliced banana and maple syrup.
  • Slowly getting ready to face the day.
  • Sitting quietly in my room with another cup of tea while the children played.
  • Marvelling at the massive amount of fun they can have with a few cardboard boxes.
  • Wondering why brave knights in cardboard castles and mismatched jimjams don’t feel the cold like the rest of us.
  • Coaxing the kids into their clothes.
  • Making a round of fish finger sandwiches for lunch.
  • Heading out for a long wintry walk.
  • Trailing after the children as they ran through the park.
  • Waiting while Jesse paused to pick up sticks and stomp through the mud.
  • Stopping to watch the swans on the water.
  • Popping to the supermarket.
  • Treating the children to a Kinderegg each.
  • Somehow assembling their tiny toys with my frozen fingers.
  • Popping into the playground.
  • Luring the children away as quickly as I could. It was far too cold for sitting on the sidelines while they played.
  • Stopping in at the library on the way home.
  • Waiting patiently while the children agonised over their choice of books.
  • Smiling as Jesse checked out Avocado Baby*. Again.
  • Letting the warmth of home wash over me.
  • Toasting hot cross buns and warming milk for mugs of hot chocolate.
  • Getting comfy on the sofa for a few hours in front of Alice in Wonderland.
  • Pottering in the kitchen while the kids carried on crafting with cardboard. Seriously, hours of fun. Not sure why any of us bother with expensive toys and gifts really.
  • Cooking and eating another roast butternut squash risotto. I’d been looking forward to it all day.
  • Reading Jesse a story and tucking him into bed.
  • Pouring myself a large glass of Baileys.
  • Watching Mr. Stink on iPlayer with Izzy.
  • Sending her to bed before binge watching Mr. Selfridge on Netflix.
  • Climbing into my own bed before 10pm. Solo parenting is tiring stuff.
  • Wanting to cry a little when Jess woke up at 5.30am.
  • Letting him snuggle with me beneath the covers instead.
  • Dozing side-by-side until almost 7am.
  • Deciding the children were much too full of cold to go out.
  • Spending a very lazy day indoors.
  • Writing lists and ordering supplies for Izzy’s 10th birthday party next weekend.
  • Sneaking upstairs to tidy the attic while the children were engrossed in a game.
  • Dreaming of the day this space actually functions as the shared office/guest bedroom it’s intended to be.
  • Sorting laundry and cleaning the kitchen.
  • Supervising the children while they made snickerdoodles.
  • Sitting down to enjoy a warm biscuit, fresh from the oven, with a steaming mug of tea.
  • Roasting sweet potato and onion with a little sage.
  • Boiling a pot of pasta and blitzing the veg with some stock to form a thick sauce.
  • Topping the lot with mozerella and a few breadcrumbs before whacking it under the grill.
  • Eating too much.
  • Dunking the children into the bath.
  • Putting away piles of washing and making beds.
  • Shampooing hair and towel drying tiny toes.
  • Listening to Jesse read before bed.
  • Creeping downstairs to finish tidying up.
  • Searching for the energy to write this blog post.
  • Hoping I can make it through the week ahead.

Love Audrey xxx

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My weekend has mainly been spent…

Kate Spade iPhone case Love Audrey The Weekend Love Audrey The Weekend Love Audrey The Weekend

  • Waking up alone. Mr. LA has been working away since Thursday.
  • Feeling grateful that the children had slept until almost 8am.
  • Letting them crawl into bed with me for some cuddles.
  • Heading downstairs for a cup of tea.
  • Enjoying a slow start to the day.
  • Tucking into a steaming hot bowl of porridge topped with dried cranberries.
  • Stealing ten minutes to myself in the shower.
  • Coaxing the children into their clothes.
  • Pulling on a favourite frock and thick black tights.
  • Relishing the sight of some winter sunshine and bright blue skies.
  • Loving my shiny new Kate Spade iPhone case, c/o Three.
  • Fixing the children a picnic lunch to be eaten indoors while they watched TV.
  • Heating up leftovers for myself.
  • Sending Izzy off to a birthday party.
  • Baking sugar cookies with Jesse.
  • Watching him play with his Lego.
  • Sneaking upstairs for an important Skype call.
  • Managing 45 minutes of uninterrupted grown up conversation.
  • Pottering in the kitchen and catching up on laundry.
  • Making butternut squash and thyme risotto.
  • Sipping white wine as I patiently stirred the stock into the rice.
  • Welcoming Izzy home just as dinner was ready.
  • Eating too much.
  • Treating the children to a few episodes of Charlie and Lola before tucking them into bed.
  • Pouring myself another glass of wine.
  • Watching Parkland, a fascinating movie about the assassination of JFK that focuses on the hospital where he was treated immediately after the shooting.
  • Wearily heading upstairs to bed.
  • Reading a few pages of Mrs Hemmingway* before drifting off to sleep. I’m very much enjoying this book so far, it’s beautifully written.
  • Missing Mr. LA.
  • Waking up as Jesse clambered into bed beside me.
  • Lingering beneath the covers for as long as the children would let me.
  • Finally following them downstairs for breakfast.
  • Wishing I’d remembered to buy eggs.
  • Gradually getting ready to face the day.
  • Craving some adult conversation.
  • Riding the bus into town.
  • Really feeling the cold. I don’t have a lot of love for this time of year, roll on spring I say.
  • Watching the swans on the water down at the harbourside.
  • Stopping in at The Stable for lunch.
  • Indulging in a cheeky glass of cider.
  • Jumping on another bus to Clifton.
  • Chasing the children across the downs.
  • Taking a million photos in the golden afternoon light.
  • Depositing Izzy at her drama class.
  • Killing time in Starbucks.
  • Walking back up Whiteladies Road just as the sun was setting on the horizon.
  • Making a mad dash for the bus as soon as we’d collected Izzy.
  • Trying to stop Jesse nodding off to sleep as we slowly made our way home.
  • Fixing the children scrambled eggs on toast for their tea while they frolicked together in the shower.
  • Digging deep in order to find the energy to put them to bed.
  • Making myself a cup of tea and sitting down to write this post.
  • Planning to tidy the kitchen and then collapse into bed.

Love Audrey xxx

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My weekend has mainly been spent…

Love Audrey Weekend Love Audrey Weekend Love Audrey Weekend Love Audrey Weekend

  • Waking up as Jesse clambered into bed beside me.
  • Silently creeping downstairs with him while Mr. LA snored on.
  • Sipping tea and sorting through photos for a blog post.
  • Feeling calm and rested as we waited for the others to emerge from their slumber.
  • Quietly enjoying how bare the house looks without its Christmas decorations.
  • Tucking into poached eggs for breakfast.
  • Tapping away on my laptop while the children watched cartoons in their PJs.
  • Listening to the rain fall outside.
  • Feeling cosy and warm indoors.
  • Taking time to reflect on 2014 and consider my goals for the year ahead.
  • Thinking about memory keeping in 2015. To scrapbook or not to scrapbook? I’m incredibly tempted by Project Life, but worried I won’t have time to do it justice.
  • Coaxing the children into their clothes and sending them out for some much needed fresh air.
  • Eating pizza.
  • Enjoying the sound of the children playing together.
  • Relishing an afternoon spent reading and writing.
  • Meal planning for the week ahead.
  • Catching up on laundry.
  • Roasting sprouts, cooking veg and warming pies for supper.
  • Reading a beautiful bedtime story. The High Street* by Alice Melvin is my favourite of all the books Jesse received this Christmas.
  • Settling down to watch Twin Peaks, a Christmas gift from Mr. LA’s parents. We’re both obsessed.
  • Drinking a salted caramel appletini. Liquid heaven.
  • Retreating to bed.
  • Waking up as our online food shop arrived.
  • Unpacking groceries and drinking tea.
  • Eating porridge topped with craisins.
  • Bracing myself for a day of solo parenting.
  • Gradually getting us all washed and dressed.
  • Heading out into the cold, crisp January air.
  • Riding the bus into town.
  • Wandering up Park Street.
  • Popping into Paperchase for a browse.
  • Scoring a heap of party supplies in the sale. Izzy will be celebrating her 10th birthday at the end of the month.
  • Treating the children to lunch at Bill’s.
  • Briefly visiting Bristol Museum.
  • Fielding countless questions about Ancient Egypt.
  • Browsing the bookshelves in Bristol’s Central Library.
  • Smiling as Izzy agonised over her choice of reading material.
  • Bumping into an old friend from Exeter.
  • Slipping into the cathedral.
  • Laughing at Jesse’s reaction to the sound of the organ. Let’s just say it’s not his favourite instrument.
  • Feeling chilly as we waited at the bus stop.
  • Tumbling into the house, relieved to be back indoors.
  • Warming myself beside the kitchen radiator.
  • Pulling on my PJs and making mugs of hot chocolate for the children.
  • Attending the performance of a play in Isabel’s bedroom.
  • Enthusiastically applauding its tiny cast.
  • Cooking and eating broccoli, garlic, cashew nuts and chilli with salmon.
  • Dunking the children in the bath.
  • Listening as they laughed and played together amidst the soapy suds of Lush Fun.
  • Reading bedtime stories and giving goodnight kisses.
  • Welcoming Mr. LA home from his shoot.
  • Secretly looking forward to returning to work tomorrow and the familiar routine that comes with it.

Love Audrey xxx

Hello 2015!

Love Audrey Hello 2015

After entertaining what felt like a constant stream of visitors over Christmas and New Year, we’ve had a delightfully slow start to 2015. The house was full of good friends and chaos on the 1st, so in a break from tradition I decided to wait a few days before reflecting on 2014 and sharing my hopes for the year ahead.

As it’s become something of an annual ritual, you can read my previous posts here before diving into the words and pictures below.

Looking back…

2014 was a huge turning point for me professionally. Although I’ve been self-employed for almost three years, I feel as if I only truly made the decision to strike out on my own around 12 months ago. Since then, work has been wonderfully varied and exhilarating.

During the summer, I travelled across the country to attend numerous celebrations as an associate writer for The Wedding Reporter, working tirelessly to produce what I believe is some of my best writing to date. Surviving my first real season as a wedding supplier alongside the demands of the school holidays felt like a huge achievement. The experience deepened my passion for weddings and strengthened my dedication to Emma’s business. Love Audrey Hello 2015

Since the start of the new academic year in September, I’ve been focussing on copywriting projects and social media management, primarily for small, independent wedding businesses. I’ve worked with some truly inspiring individuals and I’ve been incredibly proud of the words I’ve produced on their behalf.

Alongside this, I’ve also taken a few tentative steps towards creating a modest stream of revenue here on Love Audrey. As readers, you played an integral part in the opportunities I worked hard to create for myself in 2014, and for that I am deeply grateful.  Love Audrey Hello 2015 Love Audrey Hello 2015

As a family, our first full year in Bristol featured many adventures. We explored more of our new city and made plenty of memories. With two broken bones {my toe and Jesse’s arm}, multiple trips to A&E and the odd stomach bug, I can’t say they were all good, but I guess that’s real life!

The children are definitely much more settled than they were this time last year. They’re both growing up fast, and as their very distinctive personalities continue to evolve, I find myself enjoying time spent with them more than anything else. Love Audrey Hello 2015

It feels like holidays were few and far between for us in 2014, but Mr. LA and I did manage a weekend away in Paris to celebrate ten years together. Love Audrey Hello 2015

We also enjoyed a blissfully sunny stay at my parent’s house in Dorset towards the end of July as well as another, much colder visit back in October. You can read about them both here. A Bristol staycation also provided some much needed R&R at the end of the hectic six week summer holiday. We may not have made it overseas, but the children certainly had plenty of beach time in 2014!     Love Audrey Hello 2015

Looking forward…

At the beginning of 2014, I resolved to push myself far beyond the confines of my comfort zone in order to move forward creatively and professionally. This decision created a year that was often overwhelming and occasionally terrifying, but one that was also filled with challenging and rewarding projects that have helped me truly find my feet as a freelance writer. I’m aiming for more of the same in 2015.

At work and at home, I feel I’m entering the new year with a clear idea of my goals and intentions. I realised recently that striving to achieve someone else’s standard of success is an easy way to ensure you’ll always feel as if you’re failing. Establishing my own definition of what it means to be successful has given me a renewed sense of purpose and it’s this that I want to guide me through the coming months. In a little over a week, Love Audrey will be relaunching with a brand new look. I’m excited and nervous in equal measure. My hope is that you’ll love it as much as I do.

Finally, I’m determined to create more in 2015, to read often, and write the things that are in my heart as well as on my mind. I want to remember that being too busy to do the things I love means I need to address my priorities rather than find more hours in the day. I hope to satisfy my wanderlust this year, plan an adventure and travel further afield with my family. I want to see old friends and make new ones too.

How about you? What are your hopes and dreams for 2015?

Love Audrey xxx

Love Audrey Bakes ~ Chocolate & Cranberry Cake

Chocolate & Cranberry Cake

When it comes to Christmas cake, I always choose chocolate over candied peel and cloves. I’ve been baking this beauty on Boxing Day for a few years now, and 2014 was no exception. Along with a huge ginger glazed ham, an epic cheeseboard and an array of festive leftovers, it helped feed 14 members of my family.

The delicious combination of dense, dark chocolate and ruby red cranberries creates an air of decadence. Served warm with cream or ice cream, it would also make an ideal dessert at a New Year celebration. Chocolate & Cranberry Cake

You will need:

  • 375g dark chocolate {70% cocoa solids}
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 50g plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 170g low fat Greek yogurt
  • icing sugar, for dusting

{Cranberry Filling}

  • 300g Cranberries
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 5 tablespoons creme de cassis
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Begin by making the cranberry filling. Stir the cranberries, caster sugar and cassis over a medium heat until thick and jam-like. Add the vanilla extract and set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, break the chocolate pieces and melt gently in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.

3. Line the base of a 25cm loose bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper. {I used my 20cm tin and adjusted the cooking time accordingly.} Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy, then beat in the remaining ingredients. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.

4. Tip half the batter into the tin, then top with the cranberry mixture, spreading it evenly and leaving a 3cm border. Top with the remaining batter and bake for 35-40 minutes until set. Leave to cool in the tin.

5. Serve warm or at room temperature. Remove the cake from its tin, top with a few stray cranberries and dust with icing sugar. Serve with double cream or vanilla ice cream, if liked.

What did you bake this Christmas?

Love Audrey xxx

Original recipe via December 2011 Waitrose magazine

Christmas Countdown

Franky and Jesse

Oh December, you have certainly kept me on my toes! As well as concerts, parties and plays, there’s been plenty of work, not to mention a child with chicken pox! I always have such grand plans for blogging in the run up to Christmas. Hats off to those who have been filling my feed with festive inspiration in recent weeks. How do you find the time?!

As the school term finally ended last Friday, I could feel myself slowly beginning to unwind. I’ve worked hard this month in order to give myself some proper time off and I intend to fill each day with heaps of festive fun.

We kicked things off on Saturday with a visit to Bristol’s German Christmas Market where we indulged in bratwurst and mulled wine. After lunch, we wandered to the harbourside, popping into the Arnolfini and MShed before making our way home. Bristol German Christmas Market

It was a perfect winter’s day; crisp, cold and bright. I made a concerted effort to capture a little of the city as we strolled along its streets. Sometimes I forget how new it all is to us, but when I look closely, it still takes me by surpise. There’s street art hiding around almost every corner and love locks to be found on Pero’s Bridge. Bristol Street Art Love Locks

I can’t resist this bright red backdrop down by the water. It made for some great photos in the summer, and it felt particularly festive at the weekend.  Izzy

On Monday, we travelled to the other side of the city to take the children skating. Clifton on Ice wasn’t cheap, but the children’s unmitigated delight meant it was worth every penny! Jesse really wasn’t too sure to begin with, but as soon as he got his hands on a penguin, he was a away. In fact, I struggled to keep up! I did manage to stay upright though, that’s got to count for something?! Clifton on Ice Clifton on Ice

We’ll be filling Christmas Eve with more of our favourite festive activities. There’ll be homemade mince pies, mulled wine and probably plenty of excitement! I always make slow cooked beef in beer and the children look forward to opening one present before bed. The package in question contains everything they need for the night before Christmas, including shiny new pyjamas, a Christmas movie, popcorn, hot chocolate, mini marshmallows, a bath bomb and a bedtime story. It’s my favourite gift to give.   Clifton on Ice

Merry Christmas from all of us. See you on the other side!

Love Audrey xxx