{Party} Tables For Eating At

13 April 2015

It's party season in our house at the moment. Lily's birthday was last month, while Arthur's is next month. This means parties and family gatherings aplenty. I simply love these pretty party tables with their strung up lights - don't they look celebrational and special? Food for thought …


27 March 2015

On Tuesday of this week Lily turned 10. A whole decade. To celebrate reaching double-figures I laid on an after-school afternoon tea for her and six close friends. It was relaxed, fun and I hope memorable. Celebrating such moments in life is time well spent in my book.

So I set to work making tiny cheese & cucumber rolls, filling pretty striped paper cups with chipsticks, baking sausage rolls and filling cocktail sized vol au vents. Then there were mini strawberry & cream meringues, individual coconut & cherry loaf cakes, mini chocolate cakes, mini orange & almond cakes and paper cups filled with lemon cupcake popcorn, berries and chocolate discs and to top it all off a 'fox' birthday cake.

It's the decorations and tableware that also make a gathering an occasion and, in this case, turn one of the most special days of the year into one of the prettiest. All the decorations and tableware in this shoot are from My Little Day, a French online boutique that sell all the kit required to host the most beautiful children's birthday parties. From bunting, confetti-filled balloons and tassel garlands to paper plates, cups, straws and napkins in contemporary patterns. I even made party bags using the paper bags and mini paper rosettes  - they were the icing on the cake.


13 March 2015

In the last couple of weeks there has been a notable change in the everyday. The narcissus in my window boxes are about to bloom. I check the tight yellow buds that are just breaking out of their protective paper-like casing every morning. They are tentatively about to announce the arrival of spring.

It will soon be time to pack away the winter blankets and throw open the windows to let in the dappled sunlight. I tend to make a few subtle changes to my home to welcome in the new season. At the moment I am looking to update a picture that I've had on my kitchen wall for sometime to something new, fresh and optimistic. I find that when a piece of art has been on my wall for a long time, I fail to notice it anymore.

I have recently discovered Minted, an US-based online design marketplace that sells event stationery,  party decor and wall art from their global community of independent designers. An early pioneer of crowd-sourcing, Minted hold regular art and design challenges. Designers submit their designs, fans vote and Minted sell the winners. Minted ship worldwide and their prices are purse-friendly. It's a refreshing way to curate a shop and gives many independent designers the selling platform they need. This is just a selection of what is on offer. The fresh painterly patterns have a Scandinavian feel about them which appeals to me. They are calming while at the same time invigorating - perfect for the sunny spot by my kitchen window. You can browse the full art collection here. Which one would you choose?

Images from top: Morning Dew by Simona Cavallaro | Connection № 3 by Kelly Ventura | Flight of the Ocean by Sharon Rowan | Ice on the Lake by Renee Anne | Weathered by Melanie Severin | Trio of Spheres by Naomi Ernest | Sunset Fade № 1 by Kelly Ventura | Bits by Katie Craig

Minted are currently offering a 15% discount across its shop, but if your inspired be quick as the offer ends this Sunday.

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The Kitchen Cupboard {Lily Pond Stoneware Dinner Set}

4 March 2015

This lovely new Lily Pond Stoneware Dinner Set from Anthropologie caught my eye recently. I've been playing it safe with plain white dinnerware for decades now and sometimes I want to go that little bit further. The pretty frilly edge with its blue glazed trim is just subtle enough to keep within my crockery comfort zone. Its delicate fresh design would really come into its own now that we are on the cusp of spring, don't you agree?

Tables For Eating At

26 February 2015

For me the act of 'sitting down to eat' with family and friends is as important as the food itself: maybe more so. There's a wonderful small Italian restaurant close to us. The proprietor recently wrote on his Facebook page that he kindly requests that customers don't bring their phones to the table as he wants his diners to be fully present to enjoy on the food he has prepared for them - he wants the focus on the food and the company. How refreshing.

The table plays an important role in the ritual of eating. Once sat at a table the mood and focus changes. Not only is it better for your digestion, but eating at a table is respectful to both the meal and the person who prepared it.

For me, three things contribute to the atmosphere of a meal: the food, the company, and the tableware.  I'm not keen on dressed up tables: you can keep your napkin rings and table centres. Likewise I can't abide the sauce bottle on the table either. I favour a relaxed table: maybe a tablecloth, a few floral sprigs, tea lights, and food presented thoughtfully and appetisingly. This applies for a supper gathering with friends to solo tea and cake perched on a stool at the kitchen table, between chores, on a weekend, while the kids are 'having a run out' in the park.

I find these images inspiring. They remind me to take time over food, to make an effort and make an occasion of it all. I shall be coming back to this subject again to share further images that I hope will inspire you as much as they inspire me. Bon Appétit.

Images: sfgirlbybay.com (top), handmadestudiotn.com (bottom).

Red Grapefruit-Syrup Loaf Cake

24 February 2015

Today I am sharing this recipe for a Red Grapefruit-Syrup Loaf Cake. Although a visually plain cake, it hits-the-spot on the flavour front perfectly: buttery, melt-in-the-mouth sponge with a fresh citrus zing. Perfect when enjoyed with a warming mug of tea.

Red Grapefruit-Syrup Loaf Cake

Serves 8 - 10

125g soft unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1/2 a red grapefruit
175g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp milk
juice of 1 red grapefruit
100g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4, and butter and line a 450g loaf tin well, ensuring that the lining comes up a good centimetre or so above the top of the tin.

Cream together the butter and sugar, and add the eggs and grapefruit zest, beating them in well. Add the flour and salt, folding in gently but thoroughly, and then the milk. Spoon into the prepared tin and put in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until golden, risen in the middle and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, get on with the syrup. Put the grapefruit juice and icing sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Once the cake is done, remove from the oven and puncture the top all over with the cake tester. Pour over the syrup, trying to let the middle absorb it as well as the sides. Leave the cake to soak up the syrup and cool completely before removing from the tin.

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's lemon-syrup loaf cake.


19 February 2015

Buttercup Days is four years old today. It's changed quite a bit over those years and good things have come from it. When I typed my first blog post I had no idea what my goal with it was: I still don't really. I started it while at home pretty much full-time with my then one year old son and five year old daughter. The blog served as a creative output in those stay-at-home days. Blog posts tended to be family centred. It was about being a mother to two young children, while also looking back at my own childhood. It documented those tiny but significant milestone and occasions that make up life. Food was always part of it and recipe posts were a fairly regular thing back then.

Every now and then, I have to stop and see where I am going with this blog. With both of the children very much settled into school life, I work those school hours 5 days a week. There's my daily task list for Seen and my Shopping Editor role at The Simple Things to fill the hours. The blog gets squeezed in as and when time allows, which isn't nearly as often as I would like, which can be frustrating. If only I had thought of doing this before having kids, back in the day when I had something called 'spare time'

With the vast majority of my posts being recipes that I make, style and shoot myself, I couldn't have chosen a more time consuming blog to write. To keep a blog going it has to be about a subject you are passionate about, that much I've learnt. My passion extends further than just the food itself and I plan to share that with you in the form of content that won't require me to cook up a storm in the kitchen in order to achieve a blog post. I still want the recipes to be very much the core of the blog; these new elements I hope will support and compliment the recipes.

Over the coming weeks I will be introducing a few new elements to the blog as it enters its fifth year.  I will be posting about inspiring cooking and eating spaces, beautiful kitchenalia and simple ideas and thoughts on the act of cooking, sharing and connecting over food.

No matter how I write up and plan my posts in orderly subjects, there will still be a few random posts (probably children related) that will pop up. I've got to keep it real, as they say.

To all my family and friends, the people I've met through Buttercup Days, and those who may have just stubbled across this post today - thank you so much for your support. It means the world.