November 30, 2012

Friday Home: Fruit and Nut Bread

It’s officially Winter on Saturday and with that for me comes cravings for all sorts of baked products, mince pies, christmas cake, cookies! I just can’t get enough at the moment (!) especially as it has suddenly turned very cold in the UK.

I found this fruit and nut bread recipe on Pinterest and thought it would be delicious for a weekend afternoon snack with a cup of tea.  It contains lots of lovely ingredients such as almonds, maple syrup, dried fruits but actually no butter (so it’s kind of healthy in my book!)

I’m adding this one to my Christmas baking list!

Click over to the lovely  Melangery blog for the full how to and loads of other lovely recipes. You won’t want to leave!

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Happy Weekend!
Rachie xo

November 29, 2012

New Website: One Fine Stay

I do love blogging about websites that interest me and last week I was sent some information about a holiday website called One Fine Stay.

The concept isn't new - basically instead of a hotel you stay in someones house when they are away. You benefit from cheaper rates and get to really experience the city you are staying in and the family that owns it gets a cut of what you pay.

However what is new is the standard of service. You book and pay through the website (just like booking a hotel) and you get a an iphone to use during your stay, free wifi as standard, local recommendations from the family that live there, white fluffy towels and toiletries from Kiehls or The White Company (that last bit makes me want to stay the most!!)  Also the houses and apartments on offer just look beautiful and although some of them are higher end in terms of price (and comfort!) I still found some amazing bargains.

For example this apartment in The East Village in NY for only $155 per night in January!  That is amazing value!  Oh and I love the decor - that brick wall - Swoon! I would so pretend I lived there!

One Fine Stay
And this one sleeping 2-3 in Greenwich Village in January in New York is only $250 per night! Very sleek and contemporary!

One Fine Stay

At the moment One Fine Stay only covers New York and London, however I'm sure that will change as its a really great concept.  It would be great for short city breaks if you are taking a baby, family holidays,  a hen night or just more flexibility than staying in a hotel!

Happy Thursday!

Rachie xo

PS: I received no incentive to write this post - I just really like the idea!

November 28, 2012

DIY Advent in a Jar

On Saturday it's December 1st! Do you have your advent calender yet? If not or if you are looking for a different idea to the traditional calender then how about this lovely advent in a jar that I found on Poppytalk?

It consists of little messages stuck to little pom pom balls that you put your hand in and pull out each day and each message contains a little activity (or gift you have a bigger jar.) Ideas for messages are things like"Put up the Christmas lights","Sing Christmas carols around the tree" or "Go ice skating!"

I think this is such a great idea as its a really fun way of planning activities over the holidays. Oh and the fun brightly coloured pom poms also double up as decorations for your tree!!

Click over to Poppytalk for the full how to here.


Happy Wednesday!

Rachie xo

November 27, 2012

Tuesday Tales from the Week

Does anyone else just want to cosy up at the moment? The days are so rainy and its so dark that I just want to hibernate! However Christmas is just around the corner so I have lots of lovely things planned over the next few weeks Whoop!

Here is what i got up to this week!
  • The sofa, the Christmas issue of Red magazine, a mince pie (the first of the season) and a homemade cappuccino makes a lovely afternoon!

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  •  Eating my weight in Pizza in Pizza Express with the hubs on Friday night!
  • I love my new horseshoe earrings from NW3
  • My colleague bought me a beautiful Italian soap from her travels. Its smells so lovely!
  • I snapped this festive season in the town where I live - Merry-Go-Rounds and Christmas lights - so  festive!

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Have a happy week!

Rachie xo

November 26, 2012

A Stylish Christmas Table

Hi all!

I'll be posting a series of Christmas table inspiration posts over the next few weeks as we start the countdown to the big day! I'm hosting Christmas again this year for my side of the family and one of my favourite activities is decorating the Christmas table in our kitchen.

This inspiration is from the beautiful Camille Styles blog which always has the most stylish parties and although it's actually for thanksgiving, the warm tones and candle light would also be beautiful for Christmas (especially a cosy Christmas eve nights dinner.)  I love the mass of candles used, the golds with the reds and those geometric napkins, and I really like the individual place flowers which is a lovely alternative to a flower centrepiece.  On the mantel I adore all the rustic looking foliage - I might have a forage in the garden to see what I can come up with!

For the full post click over here for all the details.

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Happy Monday!

Rachie xo

November 23, 2012

Friday Home: Pancakes

If you follow this blog often then you know how much I love pancakes. Whenever possible we'll go out for breakfast and have them with bacon and maple syrup. It is definitely one of my favourite meals. So when the folks from Abra-ca-debora pancakes got in contact to see if I would like to try their new pancakes and make up some new recipes then of course I said yes!  (in fact I said Woo hoo -Yum of course!!)

I had a bit of a think about what I really like to try in a savoury pancake - in fact this isn't really a new thing in my family as my mum always did both sweet and savoury pancakes on pancake day - usually with mince. It was always delicious however I wanted something a little more refined for my recipe and something seasonal.  I had a think and came up with Butternut squash and sweet potato, blue cheese (I used Roquefort) pecans, and thyme as I thought it would make a nice flavour combination.

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All I did was roast the butternut and sweet potato with a little thyme and olive oil for about 30mins until it was soft...

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Then I heated the Abra-ca-debora pancake in the microwave for 30secs, mixed it with the Roquefort and pecans and then popped it in the microwave for another 30secs to melt the cheese. It turned out like this and it was so delish! (I actually had two!!)

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Okay I know you can make the pancakes yourselves but I tend to be pretty lazy with cooking on a week night - the hubs and I get in pretty late from work so this suits us down to the ground.

Then as a very indulgent treat I actually made a dessert pancake with the Abra-ca-debora sweet pancakes. I melted chocolate, used tinned black cherries drained and extra thick cream and it was almost like a Black Forrest Gateau. Black Forrest pancake I say! Perfect for Christmas dinner parties and so quick to make! Its foolproof (even if you always tend to have a few too many drinks by dessert - or is that just me?! )

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I know your mouth is watering!

You can see more delicious recipes (and some of them are really innovative) on the Abra-ca-debora homepage and you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Happy Weekend!

Rachie xo

PS: Although the pancakes were sent to me free - I really do like pancakes and these were yummy! :-)


November 22, 2012

Christmas Star DIY

Yes it's that time already! You may have already started to put up your Christmas decorations considering it is December next week! However I normally wait until we are at least a week into the month before I start dragging the boxes down from the loft! So that's around two weeks to go for me.

This year I'm determined to make a few of my own decorations. Perhaps making a Christmas wreath? And I was so excited to find this fabulous idea on Pinterest by Becky from Beyond the Picket Fence. I'm going for a rustic theme this year and the wooden background just fits in perfectly! It's so easy too! Click over for the full tutorial. Don't forget you could use white, green or even gold ribbon for that festive look.

Happy Thursday!

Rachie xo

November 21, 2012

A Peak at my Wedding Trailer.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Today is a short post but I thought lots of you might like to take a sneak peak! Its my wedding video trailer by the amazing Reel Love Films! It brought back so many memories of the happy day. I just love it so much!

Hope you like it too!

Did you spot my friend Will from Bright Bazaar taking pictures! He is such a blogger! :-)

Rachie xo

November 20, 2012

Tuesday Tales from the Week

It's really turned cold in the UK now and winter is definitely coming. Can you believe we are over half way through November already! Crazy! It will be Christmas before we know it!

Here's what I got up to this week!
  • The highlight of the week was definitely meeting these two little boys created by my lovely school friends Bethan and Jenny. They are both absolutely gorgeous!
  • I couldn't resist taking over a few gifts for them
  • Whilst in Gloucestershire we visited the Highgrove shop in the town of Tetbury. They had some gorgeous Christmas decorations that I will share with you soon!

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  • I ate Lebanese food at Yalla Yalla with my friend Laura. Yum!
  • These turquoise candles from Habitat are currently gracing my mantelpiece along with these gorgeous flowers.
  • I was sent a lovely box of goodies that I'll be sharing with you later in the week.
  • My wedding video arrived! Its so lovely!

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Happy Tuesday!

Rachie xo


November 19, 2012

A Beautiful Barn Wedding.

Happy Monday all! I couldn't resist posting this beautiful barn wedding from Style me Pretty. It is just so pretty and the barn is a great example of how lighting can really totally transform a space - it looks so magical!  One of my favourite details here are the pink shrub table centres grouped together and potted in the birch pots.. I'll be stealing that idea for a future dinner party!  The hessian runners on the tables and those single stem flowers in bottles are lovely too. I adore the anemones most of all.

You can see all the details over at Style Me Pretty here so do click over and see them - they are beautiful!

Rachie xo

November 16, 2012

Friday Home: Cream Cheese Lemon Bars

Pinterest is definitely my new go to site for great recipes. There are so many! I was drawn in by the gorgeous pictures of these Cream Cheese Lemon Bars which look so delicious and I clicked over to a lovely blog called Notions and Notations of a Novice Cook to find the recipe. Its a really beautiful blog where Pigamitha shares lots of lovely recipes. (Her photography is also stunning!)

The thing I love about this cake is that its actually rather easy to make. But the lemon slice is elevated to new heights with the cream cheeese frosting. Also dont you think those candied slices of lemon on top actually feel quite festive?

You can see the full recipe here
Happy Weekend!
Rachie xo

November 15, 2012

Present Inspiration: Ask her friends!

Happy Thursday all!

I get sent lots of press releases and information about new websites here at A Chi Chi Affair but I will only blog them if I think they are relevant to my readers. This new one called Askherfriends pinged into my inbox last week and I just loved the concept so I thought I would share it with you.

A brand new, online gift-giving experience that helps guys finally get it right with your present this year, AskHerFriends uses social media to rally together those who know you best and turn them into his own personal team of advisers.

It's simple ?he signs up, chooses from a wide variety of gifts and experiences on offer and puts them into his Advice List, which is then sent via e-mail or Facebook to your friends. They can then rate and comment on his choices, thereby deciding which of them will make you squeal in excitement the most. He has the confidence that you?ll love what he has chosen and you have the best Christmas ever.


As someone who is apparently notoriously hard to buy for I think this is just inpired as of course your friends know what you would like!  Also, even if you don't want to share what you are buying there is a really good questionnaire that narrows down the choice of gifts by questions like; Who is the gift for?  How much do you want to spend and what does she like doing? You then get a list of suggested gifts and links to lots of different websites to be able to buy them direct.  Its like a beautifully curated shop where all the products are uniquely suited to the person you are buying for.

I tested this on buying a gift for my Mum and I genuinely got a list of really lovely products that I know she would love (which I must say doesn't normally happen on similar websites that are tied in to specific brands.)

However the best thing about this site is the quality of the recommended gifts and the suppliers Askherfriends have on board. From household names like Selfridges, House of Fraser and Topshop to cool boutiques including Coulson Macleod, Agent Provocateur, Fox and Rose and Etsy. I know that if the hubby used this website I would definitely get a gift I would love to receive without having to drop loads of hints. In fact I'll definitely be leaving this blog post up on the laptop a little bit too long so he sees it :-)

Happy Gift buying!

Rachie xo

November 14, 2012

DIY Personalised Cork Coasters

Happy Wednesday all!

I have such a great DIY for you today that I found on Martha Stewart via Pinterest. DIY personalised coasters! They are so easy and cheap to make, you can actually buy a pack of coasters here and here for only a few pounds. They would make such a lovely homemade Christmas gift! You could also use them to decorate your Christmas table by painting them in the colours of your theme; or how about doing a personalised initial at each place setting?

You can see the full how to if you click over here.

Happy Wednesday!

Rachie xo


November 13, 2012

Tuesday Tales from the Week !

Well after last weeks whirlwind Halloween party my mind has now turned to decorating and planning lots of lovely wintry activities.

Here's what else I got up to this week!
  • Two incredibly special little boys were born. Welcome to the world Kit and Ellis. I cant wait to meet you!
  • We spent Friday night seeing Bond - I loved it! Who else has seen it?
  • I bought these shoes for all the Christmas parties coming up! Love the pointy toe - I know I'll get so much wear out of these...
  • Impromptu cocktails at home on Saturday night - just because...! :-)

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  • We went on an Autumn walk in the conservation area around our house. How beautiful does the countryside look and the lake? Look at those lovely colours against the blue sky.
  • Cheese and biscuits and sticky toffee pudding is perfect Autumn food.
  • It was a tad chilly so it was first outing for the winter woollies!

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Have a lovely week!

Rachie xo

Ps: Happy Birthday to my big sis today!

November 12, 2012

Under the Oaks Chilli Party

I love posting seasonal inspiration and this Chili under the Oaks party by Bloom Designs and featured on HWTM is just  lovely and features some great inspiration. Jenny is lucky enough to have an amazing oak field in her back yard and decided to throw this party to make the most of the Autumn weather and to give thanks to some lovely people in her life.

The party featured a harvest inspired dessert bar, a s'more bar (Where can I get chocolate marshmallows in the UK??) and cocktails and wine including harvest moon punch. She also cooked three different types of chili and served it with potatoes, salads and corn bread. Yum!

I love all the natural textures used to keep in with the party theme, those hay bales, wooden crates, lanterns the hessian/burlap material. it really ties things together.

Do click over to HWTM for more pictures and the full write up.

Rachie xo

November 09, 2012

Friday Home: Garden Improvements - Before and After!

Having work done on our garden was long overdue - We have lived in our house 2 and half years and had hardly done anything and to be honest it was driving us mad! We didn't have time to do anything and even the small things seemed to take ages and I think it almost ended up looking worse than when we moved in.  In fact I can hardly bring myself to show the before pictures they are so awful!  So with the wedding out the way we decided we couldn't put up with it any longer. We needed a proper entertaining space so our garden was use-able and so we could enjoy it!

Okay deep breath - here is the before

You can see the small patio we had which leads off the kitchen diner - it was too small to sit out there and the drainage was really poor so it tended to get a bit flooded when it rained which obviously isn't ideal. We had already demolished a shed to the left of the picture and were half way to demolishing the old coal stores from the 1930's in this picture.

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We hated it so much that it almost became a bit of a dumping ground! It was horrible!!

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This is the first day of the works taken through the window - the workmen dug out the existing patio and levelled the top garden with the existing earth.

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Then in the space of a couple of days - this happened! The new decking went down really quickly. They actually did the frame first but I don't have a picture of this as both of us are going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark at the moment!!  I just love how they used railway sleepers around the decking and the way they created the steps so there is a definite step up to the garden

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The deck was then stained and some new turf was laid!  (Do excuse the back as we are still working out what to do here.)

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And this is after!  Can you actually believe how much better it looks?  We used it for our Halloween Party last weekend and everyone seemed to love it. It is just such a marked improvement and is now a fantastic space for entertaining.  I cant wait to properly dress it and have some parties out there in the summer!  I'm thinking scatter cushions, sun loungers and cocktails as the sun goes down!

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 Did you like my big reveal? Are you doing any work to the garden at the moment?

Happy Weekend All!
Rachie xo