Thursday, 29 September 2011

Water for Elephants

We finally watched Water for Elephants last night!  Have you seen it?

I was a bit worried that I might find it difficult to watch, seeing "Edward" transition into a less of a "teen frenzy" role (i'm more of a Jacob fan anyways), but I have to say I hardly even noticed and RP pulled off a very romantic character.  I found it hard to watch in other ways (yes, it's a little depressing at times), but I thought it was a lovely story, very well told.  Looking forward to watching it again already!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

My year of blogging

Yep, 1 year ago today, I wrote my very first blog post!

That first post was nothing groundbreaking, actually, just a couple of sentences, inspired by literally a handful of blogs I had only just discovered - but it was a start and I haven't looked back.  It was a bit of a slow start, to say I was a little overwhelmed by the whole process of actually "creating" a blog entry and figuring out how to actually work this Blogger program is an understatement! 

At first, my motivation for this little blog was to record my adventures over here in the UK so my family and friends could keep up with me.  I also wanted it to be an outlet to write - "back in the old days" when i'd send emails to everyone to tell them about a trip, I had many a comment about how much they enjoyed my writing, and I actually really enjoyed doing it, so I figured this would be a nice place to start to explore that further.

But mostly, I have been inspired by so many wonderful people all over the world who share their lives with complete strangers (most of who become friends) - from budding bakers, intrepid travellers, first time mum's (of both babies and furbabies!), fashionista's and just normal people like me having a bit of fun!  Blogging isn't just about writing about life, it's about being creative, being inspired (and inspirational), a true place to let your creativity flow - the "www" really IS your oyster!

Heck, I had absolutely no idea that the blogging community was SO BIG, that there were literally 1000s of blogs out there that I had yet to discover and just how addictive this whole shebang really is! I probably shouldn't mention the amount of hours I spend each day devouring not only my favourite blogs, but also discovering new ones in the process (mostly becuase you'd think I never actually do anything else with my life :) 

I still have a lot of work to do to really let 'Love, Lilly xxx' shine, and I also have quite a few posts that i'm dying to share (let's just call them 'works in progress for now') but i'm enjoying the journey and have a sneaking suspicion that this little virtual world is going to change my 'real' world for the better!

Saturday, 17 September 2011


OK, I know it's still a few months away until we should REALLY be thinking about next year, but I am.

And you know why?

Well, because I have no leave left from work and no holidays planned for the rest of the year (boo hoo), so I desperately need to start fantasising about all the wonderfully exciting things we'll be able to do next year!

Here's a taster of a just a few of the plans we have!

all images @ google

Thursday, 15 September 2011

I'm SO excited!!!

Have just found out that work has started on Bill's new London restaurant!

From what I can figure, it will be next to Mary's Living & Giving (177 Westbourne Grove, W11 2SB) - hint is in the purple sign of the shop next door!

pic via Bills Blog

Still no confirmation of an opening date (but said to be "November"), but I can guarantee that once I know what that date is, i'll be one of MANY queueing to get a table for that extra-special taste of home on opening day!

I'm not sure when I became so fanatical about Bill, but i've always had a soft spot for him, even before I moved to the UK - I just loved watching his cooking shows, streamed from his amazing light and airy house overlooking one of the most amazing Australian beaches - and of course, meeting him in person last year confirmed he's just one of those friendly, easy-going Aussies that you can't help but like!  Oh, and his food is to die for - eating at Bill's is always guaranteed to leave you feeling happy and content!

I have a feeling this will become a regular "Date Night" spot!  (hint hint Benny :)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Home, away from Home...

One of the things I miss most about living in Australia is having my own house.  

For the time we're in London, we will always be here temporarily, which means renting someone else's flat, sitting on someone else's couch (usually a worn out old ikea number), using someone else's dinner plates, sleeping in someone else's bed, etc etc, you get the idea.

The longer i'm here, the more I want my own house, to sit on a couch that I chose, to sleep in a bed that I chose (and doesn't have springs sticking into me), hang pictures, put up wallpaper and generally just make my own.

For now, I will make this rented flat as cosy as possible, and home will always be where the heart is, but I will still dream - and repin a ridiculous number of pictures to my "for my dream home" board on pinterest!






Friday, 9 September 2011

Happy Friday!

...and what better way to start the weekend than with an amazing blog post by Greedy Diva about my absolute dream destination - Santorini (and all of the Greek Islands for that matter!) - the only destination still on my "to do" list from when I first moved to the other side of the world!

I promise you that this trip WILL be happening next year!


pic @ greedydiva

Monday, 5 September 2011


Marrying a vegetarian has certainly opened my eyes up to the horrors of the meat industry, although not quite enough that i'm ready to convert (I still live in hope that I can actually convert Ben to animal, land and planet friendly meat), but it has certainly changed the way I, myself eat meat. I think this article by Hugh pretty much sums it up and like Hugh, I am quite happy to have meat-free days and love discovering new recipes that we not only enjoy, but crave.

One such recipe is this Spanakopita - sure, i've made Spinach and Ricotta type filo pies before, but there's something about this recipe that makes it too incredibly more-ish.


1sml onion or 3-4 spring onions
3 cloves of garlic
Rind of 1 lemon
400g baby spinach
200g feta 

250g ricotta
2 eggs (optional)
Handful of crushed, flaked almonds
Handful of chopped basil
Salt & pepper
6 sheets filo pastry
3 tablespoons of melted butter
Poppy or Sesame seeds (to decorate)

In a large frypan, sauté the garlic, onion & lemon rind until soft. Continuing on a low heat, place the spinach on top of the mixture with the salt and pepper and mix through until wilted.

There will be quite a lot of liquid in the pan, so take the spinach mixture out (leaving as much of the liquid behind) and place onto kitchen towel - squeeze out any excess liquid so the spinach is quite dry. Leave to cool slightly.  There won't seem to be much spinach, but this is normal so don't worry.

In a large bowl, mix the spinach with the remaining ingredients. I say eggs are optional, as the first time I made this I accidentally left them out and it still tasted wonderful AND had a lovely texture.

Brushing with butter as you go along, place 4 sheets of the filo over a round, low dish, fanning out around the dish so you have excess pastry around all of the circle.

Fill the dish with the mixture and fold over the excess pastry. Use the remaining 2 sheets to ensure the top is covered and also to decorate to make it look pretty. Brush the top with butter and sprinkle over either the poppy or sesame seeds.

Bake in the oven at 190 degrees for approximately 30 minutes - being careful not to burn the pastry. 

Serve with lemon potatoes or a fresh salad (or both!).

see what I mean about more-ish!!


Damson Gin, 2011 Vintage

Well, it's that time of year again - Damson season!

Damsons are shy little things, they only appear for a few weeks around September each year.  As Ben hasn't been travelling near any farm shops as late, we decided we would head to Borough Market on Saturday to try our luck at the Chegworth Valley Farm shop (where we had seen them last year).

The weather forecast was quite good so we decided to jump on a couple of Boris Bikes and cycled the 11 or so kilometres to the Market.  The ride was a bit chilly to start but once we hit Buckingham Palace, the sun was shining and we were having a lovely time.  Bad timing though, for the 2nd time in a month we missed the Changing of the just half an hour!  Never mind, we took advantage of the The Mall being closed off to traffic and cruised down past the Horseguards, over Westminster Bridge onto Borough.

Horseguards patiently waiting for changeover
As luck would have it, the Chegworth Valley stall was at the very entrance of the market AND they had Damsons!!!  The Damsons were a little smaller than the ones we used last year, so we ended up buying NINE punnets for our planned 3 batches!  Apparently they had been selling them for the past 2 weeks and only thought they would have 1 more week left in season - so this was finally some good timing on our behalf.

After moseying around the Market for a little while, soaking up the amazing sights and smells, making a few purchases (mushroom pate, walnut bread, fresh ingredients for spanakopita and baked peaches), it was time to get back on the bikes and head home.  We cycled a slightly different way home, but still made our way back up The Mall past Buckingham Palace - i've decided that this is one of my favourite things in London - after 5 years, this is what still makes me feel like a tourist in this city!

We had been debating for a while about which Gin we would use this year (last year, Tanqueray was definitely the winner over London Beefeater).  I was keen to try Sipsmith which is a Boutique Gin we've discovered that is distilled literally just down the road from our house. Sipsmith is produced in small batches and we purchased batch 126, which according to their website was produced on 18 April 2011 and was one of 333 bottles - pretty cool don't you think!

We also wanted to make Tanqueray again, not only because it turned out so good last year, but also because it's my parents favourite Gin and as my lovelies will be visiting us for xmas (just in time to start sipping!), we thought that would be a nice little treat for them :)  Ben also wanted to try a different Gin for his batch, and after consulting our Gin-swilling friend Owen, we decided to make a batch with Hendricks.

So after a good rinsing-off and de-stalking, we set to pin-pricking the Damsons, setting them in their respective jars, adding some sugar (a bit more than last year as apparently the smaller damsons aren't as sweet), and then the final moments of adding the gin.

Unfortunately, NINE whole punnets of Damsons wasn't quite enough, so our Tanqueray batch has had to settle for just half the amount of Damsons, however I suspect it's still going to be super tasty in 3 months time!