7 Blogs I Read Everyday

Mikayla Mallek

I think I maybe like reading blogs even more than I like writing one. I’ve been reading blogs for well over ten years, from back when blogs were more like online diaries and my friends thought I was weird for liking them (I kind of feel a bit smug that blogging became so big… I always knew it was great). Many of my favourites from then are now defunct whilst still others have moved onto pastures new, old monikers forgotten in favour of slicker, fancier websites. Times have changed, man. But I do still love to read blogs and will forever recommend my favourites to you – which is exactly what this post is about! I follow a lot of blogs but when my Feedly gets too full I will often skip over other posts and head straight to those from my very favourites… 

Captain Awkward

If you’ve ever come to me with a problem, I have probably either recommended this blog to you, or regurgitated advice that I read on there. I know without a doubt that reading Captain Awkward religiously for the past few years has made both me and Paul better people. I am more compassionate and understanding, better at setting and keeping boundaries, stronger in my communication. And I didn’t even write in with a question! (Although I have been tempted to on a couple of occasions…). I have always loved an agony aunt column, and this truly is the kindest and best one out there on the Internet. It will change your life, I guarantee it. 

Joy the Baker

If you like delicious things, and I’ll bet you do, then Joy the Baker is the one for you. She is a truly delightful human who champions butter and sugar, drops pop culture references into her recipes and is an expert at making pies. I have made many of her recipes and they have all turned out excellently. I often find one of her recipes pops up in my feed and I am inspired to make it that very same day, such is the delectability of her food photography and writing. Her books are also often pulled down from my shelves, and her Instagram Stories have convinced me that she *needs* a cooking show. 

Sophie Cliff

Sophie is kind of an old-school blogger, in that she is all about the writing. Whilst her photos are pretty, too, if you want something juicy to read every day then you need to get yourself over to her blog. She shares everything from honest life updates to travel diaries and fashion posts so you’re bound to find something you love there. She’s relentlessly positive, even in the face of adversity, unfailingly honest and just a generally all round lovely lady. Her blog feels like catching up over coffee, which makes it the perfect morning read!

Hannah Gale

I know I’m not the only one who loves Hannah’s blog; she was named Blogosphere Magazine’s Blogger of the Year after all. If you’ve not visited her blog then you’re very behind the times; her writing style is so refreshing and her flat lays are always on point. Hers is a true lifestyle blog, with everything from nostalgic lists and interiors to beauty & fashion posts, updates on mental health to easy recipes and musings on this online space we all occupy. She’s currently pregnant and I’m really looking forward to her posts on motherhood as I’m sure they’ll be as funny, honest and heart-warming as all of her others. 

Oh My, I’m Inspired

I am biased because Jess is my sort-of-sister-in-law but I absolute adore her blog. I have always admired that Jess has such a strong sense of self, and it really comes across in what she blogs about. She’s recently discovered minimalism, which has been so interesting to follow along with, and dedicates her time to charitable efforts and a bit of knitting. All of which are relevant to my interests – and if they are relevant to yours, too, you need to check her out. I’m also very in awe of her strong aesthetic – I need to get on that myself! 

A Beautiful Mess

I’m not a religious reader of this blog, but it’s one I come back to time and time again. If you’ve been around the Internet, I’m sure you’ve come across this mega-blog run by sisters Elsie and Emma. One of the original and best, they’ve got a team writing recipes, craft projects, fashion posts, interiors updates and plenty more besides but it’s their personal posts that I always love best. Elsie is currently in the process of adopting her daughter from China, and I’ll definitely be following along as they bring her home. 

Yes and Yes

Last, but certainly not least, Yes and Yes is written by Sarah, who is who I want to be when I grow up (even though she’s not all that much older than I am…). It’s smart, funny, and full of great, practical advice for women who want to be kinder to themselves and the world. I love her True Stories interviews on Mondays and I have so much time for hearing about how Sarah has designed a life that she truly loves. Her archives are full of gold, so if you’ve got some free time then I would recommend a delve into them! 

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Thoughts on my Post-Baby Body

Thoughts On My Post-Baby Body // Amy Elizabeth

I fit into my old jeans but not into my old dresses or shirts. I’ve always favoured the stretchy denim. My old bras won’t even do up. My stomach is soft now, my belly button stretched, my skin marked by purple lines. I am torn, always, between respect for my body and everything it’s done and dismay at the ways it is now marked indelibly by our ordeal. Maybe my stomach will still shrink, it probably will, but I will be forever changed. How could I not be? I grew a human, and not a small one. 

There are two common threads when it comes to the post-baby body chat. It seems you are either expected to hate your new shape, punishing it with buggy boot camps and bemoaning tight waistbands after months of maternity leggings, or you’re supposed to not care, so in awe are you at the feat your body has performed. Am I allowed to admit that I sit somewhere in between? 

I miss my old body. It was a good body. We had a pretty easy relationship, which is more than most people can say. I have always been lucky that I fit the mould when it comes to societally-approved body shapes, and without too much effort. I could have lived happily with that body forever. It was easy-ish to dress (short legs notwithstanding) and it was healthy, for the most part. 

Thoughts On My Post-Baby Body // Amy Elizabeth

I don’t mind my new body. There are probably plenty of people for whom this body is their ideal. That’s probably true for everyone, actually, now I come to think of it (that their body is the ideal body for someone else, not that they all think my body is the best body – because it’s pretty average, all things considered). But it doesn’t feel like my body. It looks a bit different in my old clothes. I’m more aware of it, more self-conscious, which I don’t like. I was used to just living in my body, not thinking about it all that much. A privilege for sure, but not one that I wanted to give up.

I don’t like the stretch marks which now cover my stomach; an unwelcome reminder of one of my most unpleasant experiences and a badge of honour for the best thing I’ve ever done. Again, you are either supposed to religiously moisturise them away or wear them as a mark of pride. Again, I sit somewhere in between. I am not ashamed of my body; it did something pretty incredible. But I am also not head over heels with those little purple lines, even if they are a by-product of the thing of which I am most proud. 

It’s only been three months, so I know there are more changes to come. I’d like to get back to where I was before, in attitude if not in shape (although the shape would be nice, too). But me and my body are in it for the long haul, whatever happens… 

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A Day in the Life: October 2017

Day in the Life // Amy Elizabeth

Jazmin Quaynor

1am – Ben wakes up for a bottle so I dash downstairs to make one with the Tommee Tippee machine, hoping I can get back up and put it in his mouth before he starts squawking. No such luck this time, but he settles quickly when it’s finally in his mouth and drops back to sleep within 15 minutes. 

5.15am – Repeat Step 1! Usually this is Paul’s turn, but he had a long day yesterday and looked after Ben yesterday evening whilst I went to a work party, so I let him have a lie in and feed Ben again. Once again, when satiated with milk he drops back to sleep within 20 minutes. I hope and pray that he’s this easy forever, whilst knowing that he definitely won’t be… 

6am – Paul’s alarm goes off and I hear him get up but go back to sleep and don’t hear him leave for work. 

7.30am – I wake up briefly and think about getting up for a shower whilst Ben is still asleep, but fall back to sleep. Not going to lie, I feel a bit jaded after a few wines at my work party last night. 

8am – Ben wakes up and immediately screams for food. I run downstairs to make a bottle, and regret not getting up for a shower half an hour before. Thank my lucky stars that Ben is not yet moving and still finds it relatively fun to just stare into space, so I leave him in his Snuzpod after he’s eaten and dash into the shower for five minutes. 

8.30am – It takes a lot longer doing your make-up when you’re also trying to entertain a baby. I’m stopping after every step to make faces at him to try and make him laugh. It only occasionally works… 
9am – It’s time to get Ben dressed! We’re off to Rhyme Time with some pals today, and the library is always baking hot so whilst I dress him in a jumper, I make sure he’s got a short vest underneath so he can stay cool. 

9.15am – I leave Ben on his play mat to have a kick around and make myself some toast, and steal a handful of Malteasers from the cupboard. Whilst I’m just finishing my second slice, Ben decides he’s tired and starts to complain loudly. He’s recently started to fight sleep, so needs a dummy and a little bit of rocking to go off but he’s getting better at staying asleep when he’s put down, which is a win. Accidentally step in my toast whilst I’m walking him around the room so I have to awkwardly take my sock off whilst holding a baby so I don’t get butter on the rug… 

9.30am – Ben is asleep so I work on today’s blog post and send a few emails. I also pack my bag for Rhyme Time. 

10.15am – Ben wakes up hungry, once again. We’re pushing it a little bit for time so I give him a bottle and text my friend with the other hand that we’ll be a little late. 

10.30am – Ben’s finished his snack so I change his nappy and pop him in his little bear suit for in the pram. Run around making more bottles, taking dummies out of the steriliser, brushing my teeth etc. 

10.40am – Finally get out of the house and have to jog up the hill. Get stopped by an elderly lady who wants to have a chat about how cute Ben is and tell me about her own children.We’re running late, but I don’t want to be rude so talk to her about travelling to Kenya with her 10 week old way back in the day for a few minutes before wishing her a good day. 

11am – Meet up with my friend Katie, her gorgeous boy Walt and her sister who’s visiting for the day. We tackle the giant hill and chat family dramas on the walk to Rhyme Time. 

11.20am – We’re a little late so squeeze into the corner ready to sing Alice the Camel (my favourite) and do the Hokey Cokey. 

12pm – We wander around Sainsbury’s and consider our options for Halloween costumes and Christmas jumpers for the bubbas. There’s really no sense of urgency when you’re on maternity leave so we probably spend a bit too long there… Ben falls asleep on the way home. 

1pm – I get home just before the postman arrives with a present from my friend Amy, who’s coming to visit on Monday. I open it whilst making a bottle for Ben as, of course, he’s hungry again. 

1.15pm – Once Ben is fed and happy, I leave him on his play mat again and make myself some soup. I eat it sat on the floor with Ben so I can make faces and shake rattles at him. 

2pm – We try a little bit of tummy time, and it takes about a minute before Ben gets annoyed. Time for another nap… 

2.15pm – I run around and do all my boring chores – mostly laundry and tidying the kitchen. Try to call the hairdressers to change my appointment but they don’t pick up and then totally forget to do it later on. That’s one for tomorrow. 

3pm – Ben wakes up for a bit more food, followed by a bit more play time. It’s at this point that I text Paul about how the day is dragging… I’ll be impressed if anyone is still reading at this point! I half play with Ben and half make a food shopping list for the weekend. Text some pals about preferred pizza toppings for our pizza-making party next week. 

4pm – Time for another nap… It’s harder to put Ben down this time so after trying a couple of times I give in and let him sleep on me. Pop Gossip Girl on to entertain me, and text a few more people about meeting up in the coming week or so. Staying in the house for even half a day is driving me a little insane already. At one point, the door goes with a parcel (I ordered Robert Webb’s book last night) so I have to get up carefully or risk disturbing my sleeping baby. 

5pm – Another round of food for Ben whilst we watch Gossip Girl together. I explain the whole Blair/Chuck situation to him, but don’t think that he really cares… 

5.30pm – We’re now on the countdown for Paul to get home so we go upstairs and stick on the Cheesy Hits playlist on Spotify so we can have a singalong whilst I fold the clean laundry. Ben is in the best mood he’s been in all day and laughs a lot when we sing Mambo No. 5. 

 

6.00pm – Paul comes home and jumps in the shower. He tries to teach Ben to hold his Sophie the Giraffe ‘chew toy’ so he can gnaw on it, but he’s not quite at the ‘grasping’ stage yet. Paul takes Ben downstairs whilst I finish sorting the laundry and straightening things out. 

7.00pm – I put the duck we’re having for dinner in the oven and then it’s time for our bedtime routine as Ben is getting pretty grouchy. We’ve been pulling it forward by a few minutes every night and this is the earliest we’ve put him down so far. Might regret it when I have to get up straight after going to bed, but you’ll never know if you don’t try! We give Ben a bath together and I get him into his pyjamas whilst Paul makes him a final bottle for the day. 

7.30pm – Paul reads us a few pages of Harry Potter whilst I feed Ben, and then we pop him down to sleep. He must be tired as he falls asleep almost straight away. 

7.45pm – I finish making dinner (hoisin duck stir fry) whilst Paul watches his favourite show… The One Show. We eat dinner and watch a rerun of A League Of Their Own. Have to avoid the Piers Morgan episode even though it has Roisin Conaty on, too, because although we love her we’re boycotting all things Piers Morgan. 

8.30pm – I finish writing up this blog post and we discuss vegan cheese. Get distracted learning how to set up a podcast. 

9pm – I make myself a chocolate pudding and pour a glass of wine. Treat yo’self 2017. 

9.30pm – I pick up my knitting project for a little bit whilst we watch Grand Designs. (So middle aged. So middle class). I’m working on the Dream Blanket from Knits Please in navy but it’s slow going at the moment… 

10pm – Bedtime! I’ll be woken up again in a couple of hours so I take off my make-up, put on my PJs and go to bed. Hopefully until at least 1am tomorrow! 

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How I Choose Wine

Disclaimer: This post is in association with WinesDirect.com

Other than, you know, having my baby with me, the best part about no longer being pregnant is finally getting to drink wine again. I missed it more than I thought, and having it back in my life is a joy. But, where once a casual night out would mean a good few glasses of wine, I’m a little bit more restricted now. It’s not all that sensible to be hungover when having to get up multiple times in the night and having to entertain a baby all day, so for now it’s quality not quantity that’s driving my wine choices (which is probably for the best).  I’m a relative newbie to the world of wine, and I certainly don’t know half of what there is to know about wine, but here’s how I’m choosing which wines are making the cut right now… 

Get to Know Your Grapes

In my experience, learning about wine is very much a trial and error situation. But, over time, I’ve got to know which grape varieties I like best and which I’m happy to pass over. I’m not generally a Sauvignon Blanc drinker, but give me a Pinot Grigio any day. I like a Rioja of any colour, and when it comes to red I’m all about the Pinot Noir. I’ve recently discovered Viognier, so I’ve been on the lookout for more of that. If I stick to the varieties that I know I like, I don’t tend to be disappointed. 

Look for an Offer 

Whilst I am not drinking all that much wine at the moment, I am also on maternity leave so I can’t be too baller when it comes to spending my money. I’m happy to pay a little bit extra for a bottle that I like, but there are so many offers on wine at any given time that there’s usually no need to stump up the big bucks for something drinkable. Sometimes that means just taking a chance on what’s on offer when I pop across the road to the little Sainsbury’s there, or it may involve a bit more forward planning and checking out the best wine offers online on some of our favourites so we can pop into the appropriate supermarket or place an order. 

Read the Signs 

In supermarkets, there are often little notes on the tickets for each wine that tell you about the flavour and which foods pair well with that particular bottle. The Pinot Noir we picked up from Aldi on Sunday said it was good with lamb, which is exactly what we were having for lunch so that was that sorted! If you don’t know what you fancy but you know what you’re eating, that’s a good place to start. 

Take Recommendations 

There are plenty of people who know more about wine than me, so I’m happy to take a recommendation – whether it’s from your friendly neighbourhood sommelier or a friend. If you like what they recommend, make a note and you’ll know for next time. There are a lot of good bars in Leeds that have more unusual wine lists and are happy to make a recommendation for you – try Ham & Friends and downstairs at Pintura for starters! 

When In Doubt, Go For Fizz 

You really can’t go wrong with a bottle of Prosecco. If you’re really not sure what else to buy, especially if you’re heading to a friend’s house or a party, then fizz will always go down a treat! 

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Motherhood Has Surprised Me

Motherhood Has Surprised Me // Amy Elizabeth

As everyone says, you can never be fully prepared for motherhood but the most surprising thing is how much it has surprised me. It has surprised me how hard it is. But it has also surprised me how easy it is. I hesitate to say the latter in case I jinx myself, but Ben has been so chilled out that I have found it so much easier than I expected. I am surprised at myself as a mother. I am more relaxed than I ever imagined I would be. I think we’re in a bit of a feedback loop with Ben; the more chilled out he is, the more relaxed we are and vice versa. I have finally learnt to go with the flow, and it’s Ben that’s teaching me.

Where before I would want to be prepared for every eventuality and keep everything on plan, Ben has his own agenda and right now I have the luxury of being able to be guided by him. Every time I have started to get anxious that he is not making progress, he has turned around and shown me that he was just waiting for the right time. So I have stopped worrying. I haven’t picked up a parenting book once, and I think that’s helping me, too. Benjamin is his very own baby and my job is just to let him do his thing. 

I am also a lot less ‘mumsy’ than I thought I would be. I have always been quite maternal, so I thought I would slip into that role with Ben almost immediately. But I am surprised to find that I do not love this newborn stage as much as I thought I would. Spending time with him is a joy, but spending every moment of every day with him is, well, a bit much. I am fighting so much harder for my own identity and to continue doing the things I love doing than I thought I would. I expected to let all of my hobbies and interests fall to the wayside, but I am surprised to find myself clinging to them harder than ever. Maternity leave is a long stretch of blank time and I have to fill that time with something other than solely baby-care because otherwise I fear I might go mad. But amongst all of that, I am still surprised to find how content I am just sitting with him asleep on me or watching him kick about on his playmat. I am surprised how fascinating your own baby can be, but also how boring your days together can become if you don’t work on it. 

People talk about the immediate, overwhelming love that you feel for your baby. I didn’t feel that. Or, rather, it didn’t come all at once the moment he was born. Maybe because I was so exhausted… At first I felt more of a sense of responsibility than I did a feeling of love, which surprised me. But, as I get to know him and his little ways, I love him more and more. He is such a sweet little babe and he is so very easy to love, which is no surprise at all. It is, however, a surprise that you can come to know someone so completely in just a few short weeks. I feel as though I know everything about him, but there is also so much more to find out. I’m excited for all of the surprises to come… 

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Using One Second Everyday for Memory Keeping

I’ve been using the One Second Everyday app every day for almost a month now, and I am *obsessed*. It’s my favourite thing right now, and I find myself rewatching the video time and time again. It’s, unsurprisingly, mostly little snippets of Benjamin right now and seeing his little faces and his hearing his little noises is such a joy. We have hundreds of photos of him, but video captures all his ways so much better – even in just one second snippets. It’s only been a month, but I can already see myself carrying this on all year. And I am rarely that committed to anything. It’s just such a good way of memory keeping, and it’s already teaching me a lot that I could really do with applying to my other creative projects… 

Start Now

I meant to start when Ben was born, but in the newborn haze it was impossible and it just fell out of my mind. Also… he wasn’t very interesting in the beginning. Now he’s moving and smiling, and it makes the video so wonderful to watch. I started on a random day that wasn’t significant in any way, and without any previous video-making experience. If I had waited until I was great at making videos or until an important date, I would be missing all of this gorgeous footage of my beautiful baby boy. You can decide which date to start your final video, so even if you feel like your first attempts aren’t the best, you can just keep them to yourself. But I have a feeling you won’t want to… 

Think About the Big Picture 

There are some of these video clips that I *love*. There are some that I really don’t like, and still more that are just, well, okay. You’ve only got one second and you have to do it every day, so it’s hard to get something groundbreaking for every single second. But it’s not about the individual seconds, it’s about the finished video. All together, even the clips that I don’t like make a big picture that I absolutely adore. It can be easy to get bogged down in the detail, when really it’s all about that finished article. 

Don’t Sweat It 

There are a couple of days that I didn’t get to get a clip of video, and some where I had more than one – so I just used one from a different day to plug the gaps. Every video of Ben is precious to me, and it doesn’t really matter if it wasn’t taken on that exact day – especially when we’re not doing anything of note. I want to get as much variety as possible, but ultimately this is about capturing our real life. I know that when I look back in even a few months time, I won’t be criticising the fact that I didn’t have a new video each day or that there were too many of him on his play mat, I’ll just be looking back on those memories and smiling. 

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Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder // Amy Elizabeth

 

One of the best things about the weather turning cooler and the evenings getting darker is that it’s Sunday roast season once again! Piles of crispy roast potatoes, big dollops of creamy leeks and lashings of gravy… it’s all nothing without the main event. We’re currently having a love affair with lamb, slow cooked so the whole house smells delicious and it’s so tender it’s falling off the bone. It can be a little bit pricey, so we only opt for lamb when we’ve got guests, but it really is a showstopper; all you need is time and the lamb does all the work to make you look good. 

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder // Amy Elizabeth

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1.5kg lamb shoulder
  2. olive oil
  3. salt & pepper
  4. 100ml red wine
  5. 200ml chicken stock
  6. 1 whole bulb of garlic, separated into cloves
  7. sprigs of rosemary, oregano & thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Pour the wine and chicken stock into a roasting dish slightly bigger than your joint.
  3. Place the herbs and garlic cloves into the bottom and lay the lamb on top.
  4. Cover with two layers of foil and place in the oven.
  5. Cook for 4 and a half hours before removing the foil and returning the lamb to the oven for a further half an hour to crisp up the skin.
  6. Remove to rest for half an hour before the rest of your dinner is done. Remove the bones and shred the meat to serve.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Going Pumpkin Picking

Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth

Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth

In pursuit of the completion of my autumn bucket list, we took a trip today to Farmer Copleys in Pontefract for their pumpkin festival. It really was the perfect autumnal day, with a whole field of plump pumpkins just ripe for the picking. There’s something so appealing about the bright orange pumpkins all nestled in a field, isn’t there? It just makes me want to light candles and eat pie and generally celebrate everything that’s great about this season.

We initially rejected a wheelbarrow because I was convinced we’d only pick up one, but they were all so delightful that I couldn’t settle on one single pumpkin so I ended up hefting three back to the car. I should have known that my indecisiveness and magpie-like nature would run riot when faced with a plethora of delicious squashes to choose from! 

Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth

It’s so lovely to have these days with Ben already, even if he does tend to sleep through them (and look rather put out in the photos!) but I do already look forward to the days when he’ll be going around the field with me, weighing up the merits of different pumpkins. There were so many kids running about with painted faces and toffee apples choosing their pumpkins, and it warms my heart to think about doing that with Ben in the future. I so want to have seasonal traditions like pumpkin picking to look forward to every year, so there’s no doubt that we’ll be back to Farmer Copleys next year to pick up another pumpkin (or three!). 

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6 Cookbooks I Just Keep Reaching For

6 Cookbooks I Just Keep Reaching For // Amy Elizabeth

I have a pretty sizeable cookbook collection but, like most people I imagine, there are definitely quite a few that are gathering dust. Whether it’s because they’re a specific cuisine, a little bit complex or just not the kind of food that we usually make, the majority only get brought out on special occasions. On the flip side, there are those cookbooks that I am constantly reaching for, week after week, whether it’s for a bit of guidance or inspiration, or to draw on an old favourite recipe time and time again. 

6 Cookbooks I Just Keep Reaching For // Amy Elizabeth

5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver

This is a very new addition to my cookbook shelf, but it’s been pulled down pretty much every other day since its arrival. Say what you will about Jamie Oliver, but the man knows how to publish a good cookbook. The recipes are simple, tasty and exactly the kind of food that we like to eat at home – which is all I want in an everyday cookbook, really. I’ve made quite a few recipes from this already, including creamy mustard chicken, banging beef stew and the soft-boiled eggs with home-made flatbreads and mango chutney and have bookmarked tonnes more. My only qualm is that despite all the dishes only containing five ingredients, they don’t all make up a meal so you do have to throw some sides in if you want to get your five a day. 

The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack 

The book arrived just before Ben did, so I haven’t had a chance to explore it properly but when I’m after a little bit of inspiration that orange spine just calls to me. I love Izy’s style of cooking, which is big on flavour but little on fuss and every recipe I’ve ever made of hers has become an instant favourite. Case in point: the ‘chorizo’ dip (a veggie bean dip that has the delicious smoky flavour of chorizo) and pitta chips are already my go-to if people are coming round for drinks. There’s lots of variations on a theme in this book and plenty of ideas for using up leftovers, so it really is a great one if you want to reduce your shopping bill and your food waste. 

Fress by Emma Spitzer 

From the moment this dropped onto my desk, I was obsessed. Not only is it a beautiful cookbook, it’s full of delicious recipes and the combination of world foods is an unusual and inspiring one. Emma acknowledges the many influences on her home cooking, from the Jewish recipes passed down from her mother to the Algerian ones shared by her mother-in-law. The recipes are bold and full of spice, but simple enough for this home cook to recreate without too much faff. If I’m feeling a little flat about our usual repertoire, this is my first port of call for something that I know both Paul and I, and any guests we may have, are going to love. Our favourites so far are the crispy baked chicken wings, the za’atar crusted halloumi and baharat spiced chicken. 

Homemade Memories by Kate Doran

This book is basically a warm hug. If you think of your favourite childhood treats then you’ll likely find a recipe to recreate them in this delightful cookbook, from home-made jaffa cakes and bourbon biscuits to recreating your very own caterpillar cake. This is a total nostalgia trip and is perfect for this time of year when eating delicious puddings whilst snuggling under a blanket is really the only way to go. My favourites are the boozy puddle puddings, the honeycomb biscuit cake and the roasted cherry & white chocolate brownies – but honestly, if you served me any of the recipes in this book then I would be in heaven. 

Brilliant Bread by James Morton 

There is something so immensely satisfying about freshly baked bread, but in the past I have found it the most daunting part of baking at home. James Morton’s brilliant book changed all of that and now I regularly knock up a loaf to go with dinner. I’ve mostly stuck with his no-knead white loaf (simply because it’s so damn delicious) but have recently started exploring the rest of the book to expand my bread repertoire and I’m very excited to get stuck in. 

Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman 

If you’ve spent any time on the Internet, you’ve probably heard of Smitten Kitchen. One of the original and best food blogs out there, Smitten Kitchen is an absolute treasure trove of delicious recipes – and the book is just the same but you can splash ingredients on it without fear of ruining your laptop… I’ll often turn to this book if I want a recipe I know won’t fail – Deb is renowned for being obsessive about getting things just right and it really shows. This book has a little bit of everything, from brunch dishes and salads to sandwiches and cookies. I love the apricot breakfast crumble (crumble? for breakfast? yes, please!) and the peach dumplings with bourbon sauce, as well as all of her dinner party tricks and recipes in the final chapter. 

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14 Blog Posts You Need to Read Right Now

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Way back when, I used to do a weekly round up of my favourite blog posts but that has rather fallen by the wayside. However, I still read blogs like they’re going out of fashion (which people say they are, but I don’t believe them) so I’ve amassed quite a few favourite posts over the past few weeks and months. Here’s fourteen great ones that I’m sure you’re going to love: 

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