Paper Snowflakes


I worked a bit more on this at lunchtime.  By the end of the week the window will no doubt be covered in snowflakes.  I think I’m hooked!


This is certainly work in progress.  Crafting (and as it turns out, cutting pieces of paper) is not my strong point!

My office at work with my three attempts (so far).

Lyndsey chose Paper Snowflakes for this week’s Martha Monday’s Project.  The office seemed the ideal place to put these, as I sit right next to the window and also have a pair of scissors always to hand.  I always like paper snowflakes (although haven’t made them for years).  My snowflakes are very random and I think I will have to check out some snowflake guidelines to help me cut better. 




Afternoon Tea at Claridges

Main image

Photo from Claridges website.

This past Thursday saw mum and I put on our finest clothes (sort of) and visit Claridges for afternoon tea.  Claridges Hotel is located in Mayfair and on our way we took a trip into Fortnum & Mason and then walked though Mayfair to the hotel. 

Piccadilly Arcade and Burlington Arcade are decorated nicely for the holidays.

The windows of Tiffany made me want to fall in love.

Claridges is decorated for Christmas with trees outside and inside the entrance.  Afternoon tea is served in The Foyer, a beautiful room which had a huge Christmas tree decked out in white and silver baubles.  This place is so elegant.  I felt right at home!

Champagne was served and a selection of sandwiches were brought out.  From left to right: smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese, egg and tomato, turkey with stuffing and ham and salad sandwiches.  Mum and I enjoyed them all but we loved the turkey and stuffing sandwich the most.  We were very grateful when we were offered another tray of sandwiches which made the experience even better. 

There are 30 teas to be chosen from at Claridges.  We chose the Claridges Gold Tea which was a rich and strong Assam.  This was the perfect tea to go with the scones – plain ones and apple and sultana scones served with cream and jam. 

The highlight (of course) was the pastries.  A fruit tart, pistachio cake with pistachio cream and strawberries, a chocolate macaroon with chestnut cream and a disk of chocolate and a passionfruit jelly with a raspberry in the middle and cream.  All of which were delicious. 

Completely full after eating so much but very, very happy!

Claridges gets booked up so early and we booked this back in September.  It was well worth the wait.  A great way to spend a cold afternoon in December.


This time last week mum and I were all packed for our overnight stay in Cologne.  Our mission: to visit the Christmas markets.  Cologne has four markets within the small city and I am pleased to say that we visited them all – one of them twice. 

It was a first for us to fly out with British Airways from the new terminal five building at Heathrow.  We treated ourselves to lunch of coffees and pastries at Gordon Ramsey, which was good fun but in all honesty not worth the £14 it cost.

Our flight took us to Dusseldorf and we then caught the train to Cologne.  The train was quick and efficient and drops you right into the centre of Cologne.  If the tickets are cheaper to fly into Dusseldorf (like it was for us) then I certainly recommend this way of travelling.  And it was only €9.80 for a single ticket which was incredibly cheap.

Cologne was cold but thankfully without snow and we were well prepared and wrapped up warmly for this weather. 

Our hotel was great.  10 minutes from the cathedral meant that we were far enough out not to be with all the other tourists but close enough to walk back in the evening.  The streets were clean and we both felt safe all of the time.  We stayed at the Renaissance Koln which is part of the Marriot group and were drawn to it due to the good Expedia offer but I would stay here again most certainly.

Cologne was decked out ready for Christmas but in more of a cosy and individual way than London or New York are.  I was in love.  And the markets were wonderful, very busy and they all had a good mixture of German speaking and English speaking people which made things a lot easier (my high school German lessons fail me now).  I was less keen on the market next to the cathedral and instead I preferred the others, as they were less touristy.  The market stalls sold beautiful decorations, fantastic hot food, Gluhwein (mulled wine),  and the best biscuits ever.  We did lots of shopping including a pretty purple silk tablecloth which I will be using at Christmas, wooden salad servers and of course, plenty of biscuits. 

Our time went quickly in Cologne but we were up early to cross the bridge to get a good view of the cathedral.  We had come over this bridge on the way into Cologne and I had been mesmerised by the padlocks attached to the metal bridge.  According to staff at the hotel, the padlocks started a few years ago when a couple would write their name on the padlock and then lock it and throw the key into the Rhein.  There were so many padlocks on the bridge and I loved looking at some of them and their names and dates of love. 

I’m not usually one for Cathedrals but the Dom was spectacular.  Make sure you visit the Treasury if you visit.  The treasures are breathtaking.  And no visit would be complete without viewing the remains of the Three Magi (the Three Wise Men!)

Food was a big part of this holiday.  Don’t go if you are dieting – it would be a waste!

Cologne will stay in my heart along time.  This is the best trip that I have made in Europe in quite a while and sits up at the top with Florence.

Perfecting Christmas – Cookies

My office becomes burdened with tin after tin of biscuits and sweets at Christmas.  By the 28th (when I return to work) I always throw out whatever is left so that no-one has to encounter them when they return in the New Year.  Last year I added to the burden of shop bought goodies (only myself and another colleague ever bake anything) and I purchased a tin of biscuits.  In the end I did make tiny chocolate meringues but by then everyone was so sick of sweets and sweet things that a bowl of fruit would have been enjoyed more!


This year however, I am doing homemade cookies and I know that these will be very much in favour.  I have a trip to Cologne at the end of the month which I am really looking forward to, and German biscuits will accompany my cookies into work when I return on December 2nd.  My plan is to get in early with my gifts so that (a) everyone is not already sick of sweets and, (b) I can tick it off my list. 


This past weekend I froze cookie doughs.  I am following Martha Stewart books and made a chocolate dough,  a peppermint dough for candy cane cookies and a sugar dough.  I am feel virtuous knowing that they are in the freezing waiting for me.   The problem was, everyone knew that my plan was to bake, bake and bake, so when I came out of the kitchen everyone said ‘where’s the cake and biscuits?!’.  It was time to head back into the kitchen. 


If I am not reading a book I read an old living magazine.  These cookies came from the 2009 January issue (one of my favourites – it’s the one with Martha’s list of staying well and having the time to do all the things that we need to do – I just think I need an assistant!).  The link for the cookies is here.


Now, mine didn’t turn out as pretty as the photo in the magazine.  But I DON’T CARE! as these cookies are lovely.  Really melt-in-your-mouth cookies.  I may now have to make another batch to go with my freezer doughs because these were a hit at home and at work today. 


Are you making ahead any cookies?  What recipes are you using?