Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category


Sunday, April 8th, 2012

I first saw these Easter eggs in the shops a couple of years ago and when I was offered some duck eggs last week by my lovely riding instructor Sara Ussher, I decided to make them for my family (another occasion when I wished my parents had stuck to two kids).  They were also Pinterest inspired like many of my slightly crazy, over the top, recent projects.

A simple idea – the original Easter egg mould, is… egg of course.  Simply empty out the eggs original contents and replace with chocolate. Easy.

Yeah.  It is easy, but it’s time consuming, especially with duck eggs which are at least twice as big as chickens eggs.

 Martha Stewart has pretty comprehensive instructions that I won’t repeat here.  I don’t think you need to make it as complicated as that though.  Simply make a hole in the bottom of the egg with a pin, and then make a bit bigger and a bit bigger (gently), until it’s about the size of of a 5p piece.  Then you need to stick something in the egg to break up the yolk (I used a cake skewer).  Wriggle it about a bit and then the egg will come out of the hole when held upside down.  It comes out s l o w l y.

I then followed good old Martha’s instructions to sterilise the eggs (boil the shells with a tablespoon of vinegar for 10 mins – start with cold water).


Here they are drying after being sterilised:

Ready to fill with chocolate:

Melt the chocolate and put in a piping bag.  These duck eggs are BIG – each one holds about 175 grams of chocolate.  Much more than a hollow Easter egg.  I didn’t bother tempering the chocolate, far too much hassle and (in my opinion) unnecessary.

Leave to set, putting them in the fridge speeds it up a bit.

Next, decoration.  I didn’t have any brown paint but wanted a natural look, so I used some instant coffee mixed with a little bit of water to make a thickish dye, and used a paintbrush to splat it onto the shells

Once dry I stuck stickers over the holes to make them look finished off.  I’ve got a Cath Kidston sticker book which had some perfect little round stickers, but you could use any stickers that cover the hole.

Finished.  A basket of surprise eggs.  Pretty, natural and rustic.  I’ll let you know how they taste.

Happy Easter!


Friday, April 6th, 2012

Having my own baby has made me realise that I don’t just want gorgeous styled images of her, I want photographs of everyday things. Lunch. Baths. Naps (occasionally). Playtime. Real memories of my baby girl who is growing up all too fast.

Enough yukky stuff. Here’s bathtime.

Want something similar? Give me a call! x


Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I had planned the party for quite a while – I’d been scouring Pinterest just a teeny bit too much, as usual. I seem to have a knack for over exaggerating my talents and thinking I can do it all, in a short amount of time. My sisters and I turned into baking obsessed maniacs the week before, or at least I did, and they put up with it. Isabella got to lick the spoon and wear her new apron.

I wanted spring colours, with bunnies, chicks and ducklings, combined with the more grown up idea of afternoon tea. Let’s face it, this was really a party for me. She didn’t know it was all for her. I’m hoping she’ll look back on the photos and know how special she is to me, my little Isabelladorable.

My little sweetpea is one!

Fondant fancies made more babyish:


Bunny biscuits!

Easter chick wreath, a Pinterest special.  It was pretty easy to make.  Just take a polystyrene wreath, double sided tape and a million (ok 130) chicks and stick together.

I found this donkey and cart on Party Pieces and had to have it

Macaroons.  Batch one were a disaster,  batch two, thanks to my sister Rosie (annoyingly she takes the credit) looked GOOD! This recipe from BraveTart (ace name) was the one that worked.

Biiiig yellow balloons

With Daddy

Chick cake pops!

Birthday cake cake pops.  Another Pinterest inspired idea.

Easter egg tree :-)

Duckling and chick shape jam sandwiches.  My frugal and eco friendly Mum popped the leftover bits of sandwich (after the shapes had been cut out with cookie cutters) in the freezer.  An easy snack for Isabella when I’m in a hurry!

With some of her Auntie Rhiannon, Rosie and Laura and Uncle Dom

The kids each had a cake pop with a candle to blow out while Isabella (me) blew out hers

Her first birthday cake!  Baked in a sweetcorn tin as my Grandma used to do for us.  The ruffles are really easy to ice on with buttercream (there is a tutorial on YouTube)

Don’t grab the flame!

There was more time to play with presents the next day

What a lucky, loved little girl my baby is!


Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

It might not be that interesting to anyone else, but it’s a milestone to Mummy. Isabella will be one in less than a month, and I wanted to have a little party for her (or is that for me?).

I’ve been glued to Pinterest for about six months now, and saw a similar balloon invitation on there (if you haven’t already seen Pinterest, go now. It’s very pretty and very addictive). I adapted it with the things I already had, like the envelopes and the punches, and decided on lemon yellow as it’s a very spring colour that makes me think of fluffy chicks and Easter.

To make the address labels and the balloon sticker on the back of the envelope, I printed out the circles (I designed them in Photoshop, you could do the same in any design program. It took a bit of trial and error to get the size right) onto printable labels from Staples, then cut them out with the scalloped circle punch. The balloon was free clipart, cut out using the smaller punch.

Scalloped Circle Punch (small 3.5cm) eBay
Scalloped Circle Punch (large 3inch) Handy Hippo
Printable Labels Staples
Printed Balloons Printed Personalised Balloons
Yellow Envelopes World of Envelopes
Mini Pegs eBay
Mini Envelopes – I actually got these from America a few years ago but there are similar ones on World of Envelopes


Thursday, February 16th, 2012

It seemed like a good idea while I was lying in bed one night. I was hosting Christmas and I would make a gingerbread village – a house for each of my family members. My bad luck that I’m the oldest of seven kids. I decided that my parents could share, so that was 8 houses, plus a mini one for Isabella. My projects can get a little ambitious just before I fall asleep. One more thing – I would make Mum and Dad a gingerbread version of their house, our childhood home.

I set about finding a few templates online, there is one on Good Food – the link to the template is at the bottom of the recipe, and there are also several here including a template for a church. I made up a few of them, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Mum and Dad’s was a bit more complicated, it took me a few days to draw out the template (definitely not to scale!).  I began to wonder about the wisdom of so much gingerbread.

I made a big batch of gingerbread. I cut out all the shapes for two houses, complete with windows. To make windows, put a clear boiled sweet (foxes glacier fruits are perfect) into the hole that you’ve made for the window before you put the shape in the oven. It will melt during cooking a make a lovely sweetie window. I was already sick of gingerbread. I soldiered on, and after about a week (and at least 6 double batches of gingerbread) had all the shapes.

You need real royal icing which sets hard to glue the pieces together – the type with egg whites (150 ml egg white, 1 kg icing sugar, tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix until smooth, and add water/more lemon juice if it’s too thick).

Enough waffling.  Here are the houses…

This is Mum and Dad’s.  I put little battery operated tealights inside all the houses so the windows glowed and flickered in the dark.

The tiny one with the path and log pile was Isaballa’s.  The other tiny one was Colin’s.  Can you tell I’d got fed up by then ;-)  The Christmas trees are cake pops!

The whole Honeywell village

This one was Lucy’s – she’s a student so the tiles are falling off the roof and it’s a bit of a mess. Very Lucy. Pretty but messy!

Lastly a santa hat cake pop. I started making cake pops last year after seeing Bakerella’s website and got slightly obsessed.

The last of the gingerbread has just been eaten. I think this year I might just make one house.


Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.  All of my family are descending on Friday so it will be chaotic, busy and lovely, just how it should be!  I’m looking forward to Isabella’s first Christmas, my little Santa baby looks gorgeous in her Christmas dressing gown!


Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Now those who know me will know that I’m a bit of a baking fanatic, and that I like things to look nice, and I don’t mind that it might take ages to get things right – but it must be right. I stumbled upon Pinterest when I was researching things for Isabella’s christening, and was immediately hooked (all my sisters are now hooked too, and quite a few of my friends, which is a bit annoying as they no longer think I’m a creative genius as they know I’ve just copied from Pinterest). It was here that I think I first found inspiration for the colour scheme for Isabella’s christening, and found lots of ideas for the dessert table.  I have to confess all these treats took up the best part of a week to make, with lots of help from Isabella’s (fairy) Godmother who is also my sister Rosie.

My Pinterest board for the christening:

I made a rainbow cake for my Auntie’s 50th, and decided  to make one on theme for the table.  I used Americolour gel food colours in everything, it’s the first time I’d used them but they are great, really bright colours that don’t run.  I made the bunting for the cake by printing out stripes and polka dot designs onto plain paper, cutting it out into diamonds and sticking them (folded in half) onto divine twine.  The icing is buttercream (butter, icing sugar and lemon juice), piped on in swirls.

The tablecloth came from Waitrose and the streamers from ebay.

Rosie spent a small fortune on Washi tape (coloured and patterned masking tape) in Canada, and I made the food label flags by sticking it onto food picks and sticking them into marshmallows so they’d stand up.  I wrote on the names of the cakes with a sharpie pen.

The cupcakes cases are Paper Eskimo ones from The Cake Decorating Company.  I made the chocolate buttons by using Wilton candy melts and a silicone button mould that was about £3 on eBay.  The key is to put the melts into a piping bag, melt carefully in the microwave (don’t over heat), and then pipe into the mould being careful not to overfill.  Then bang the mould on the worktop several times to get rid of air bubbles.

The biscuit lollipops were pretty easy.  The recipe is from Peggy Porschen’s book – both the books have the same recipe.  It’s great because the biscuits don’t really spread at all during baking, but the key is to make the dough the day before and leave it in the fridge overnight, or even for a few days.  I got paper sticks so that they could go in the oven (the plastic ones can’t).  Roll out the mixture quite thickly (I use two bits of dowling and keep the rolling pin on those either side of the dough, so that when you roll it out it’s all perfectly even), cut out your shape and remove the excess, and then with one hand on top of the cut out biscuit, carefully push the stick in about an inch.  It’s a bit of a knack, but if you go wrong just roll it out again and have another go.

Then ice them with royal icing (150ml egg whites, 1 kg icing sugar, splash of lemon juice plus more to get to the consistency you need).  Morrisons sells piping bags that are perfect, they are plastic which are better than paper as the icing stays moist, so if you get bored or need a break you can have one without the icing going hard and getting ruined.

I found this recipe for the pink smartie cookies a while ago when I was looking for a white chocolate and raspberry recipe.  It’s on the carnation milk recipe and these cookies are so yummy, you will want to eat them all.  They freeze well, so make up a load and put some in the freezer (a tin of condensed milk makes double the recipe shown), and then you can just get them out and in 10 mins have fresh cookies.  A guaranteed way to look like a domestic goddess ;-)  The recipe is easily adapted, add cocoa for double chocolate cookies, etc.  As I wanted these to fit with the theme I bought a couple of tubes of pink smarties and used those instead of white chocolate, and omitted the raspberries.  By the way, the raspberry ones are lovely, but they keep much longer without them.

The white cake was our wedding cake, from July 2007!  I had it prefessionaly re-iced, my skills don’t stretch to that!

I’m trying out the new Blogstomp app, which is why there is a watermark on the images.  It let’s you put montages like this together easily and quickly.


I have more photos to share of the rest of the christening, but first things first ;-)


Thursday, October 6th, 2011

All those of you that came to my Newby Hall office will know what an amazing place Newby Hall is, and what a wonderful place it is to work. I LOVED being based there, but after having Isabella I came to realise that a baby and a 20 minute drive to work wasn’t going to be easy. We moved house when she was 4 weeks old (talk about everything coming at once!), and so now have space for an office at home. Reluctantly I decided to move from Newby Hall and work from an office at home, at least for now. My plan is to have my babies (!) and then, in several years time, once again work from Newby Hall.

Not much has changed from a client point of view, I will still be holding portrait days at Newby Hall, and weddings of course are always on location. Engagement sessions will also be on location now as well. I will be holding wedding consultations, portrait viewings, and pre-wedding meetings at my home office.

That’s to my lovely husband, it’s a lovely office – with (almost) straight wallpaper, fresh paint, and even an open fireplace. I’m thinking about installing a wood burning stove to keep nice and cosy in winter. I will look forward to welcoming you here, and of course having a cuppa and a biscuit!

The new address is:
Holly Cottage,
YO61 1SF

Now I’ve been terrible at blogging recently, and have been on maternity leave so only working on a few ‘keeping in touch days’, but here is one of my favourite images from a wedding last month. Maternity leave officially ends now, so I’ll be back working with no excuses not to blog!


Monday, July 18th, 2011

I know, I know. I’ve been awful at blogging since Isabella was born. OK, so I do kinda have an excuse – babies take up more time than you knew you had. She is sat on my lap right now just about to demand something or other. However I do have to admit to being darn lazy in this department. I have the photos but just haven’t posted them yet, there is always something else to do. And she grows so quickly that as soon as I have taken and edited a set of photos, it’s time to start again.

I won’t bore you with hundreds of photos, but here are a just a few of my favourites so far. Already looking back I can’t believe how much she’s changed. Photos are so important. My Mum said that you look at your baby every day, and they always look the same. Then, one day you wake up and they’re 18. It’s so true.

Some are snapshots taken on a phone, others are taken on my professional camera. All are very precious memories (WARNING: becoming a Mum makes you soppy).

I will blog again soon, honest! I have weddings, engagements and portraits to share. Watch this space!


Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I’m very proud to announce the arrival of my daughter! Isabella Dora was born on Thursday 17th March at 6.52am weighing 8lb 5oz.

She is a little sweetie! She’s keeping us on our toes and can be quite demanding but she is totally worth it. She’s asleep beside me now.

More photos to follow when I get a chance – it might be some time!