Lots of things to be done and a recipe or two, you can read if you like – it’s right up to you!

This is a time of year when our newsfeeds are full of new year’s resolutions and memories of the year gone by.  It’s a time when we make decisions about the coming year and feel full of excitement and ideas and plans.  Well, after our feverish few months running up to the festive period I actually took a couple of days to sit back and do nothing other than drink hot chocolate, watch Christmas films and snuggle on the sofa with a blanket, a cup of tea and our dog – which was great but then, as usual, I had to get up and get on with things (I am well known in our family for being rubbish at sitting still) and so I’ve been making plans for the Little Lemon for next year, tidying and sorting, and making yummy things for our Christmas guests like these Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies from Donal Skehan’s website (I discovered him recently on Pinterest and his site is full of divine-looking food). This is the best recipe for chocolate cookies I’ve ever found – they were definitely the most delicious cookies I’ve made and they didn’t last long with our guests (I might also have eaten quite a few of them!)

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I discovered this delicious-looking cake on his website, made by Kate Packwood of the Wild Flour Bakery in Ireland.  I’m planning to fit in a bit more baking in the new year in amongst all the fudge-making for our markets so this might be a good one to start with:

Wild-Flour-Kate_25Doesn’t it look amazing?  Speaking of cake, back in November we made the wedding cake for our dear friends Gemma and Ian whose wedding took place in the beautiful Tudor Barn in Burnham.  It was a three-tier cake (chocolate, ginger and butterscotch) with a cream cheese icing and decorated with winter flowers and berries to match the bride’s bouquet:

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Early in the new year we’ll be creating some new flavours of fudge – every now and then someone who comes to our stall will suggest a flavour that they’d like us to try out (this is how our celebrated Salted Caramel fudge came about) and quite a while ago a lady asked us about passionfruit fudge which she’d had in New Zealand.  We’ve also had requests for liquorice and for pistachio; up until now we’ve not been able to track down the perfect ingredients but we’ve managed to do so, so look out for some exciting new additions to our collection!

While I’ve been writing this, George has been asleep on my lap and my legs are full of pins and needles so I’m off to make myself a salted caramel hot chocolate, but I’ll leave you with possibly the cutest selection of pics I’ve seen this year:

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Happy New Year!

 

 

The Little Lemon, the Little Fox and lots of Duckies

I know I’ve not written for a while and have been meaning to for a few weeks but I hadn’t realised until I checked yesterday that it’s actually been about six weeks since I wrote about our weekend in Monza, and the main reason is that we’ve been rushed off our feet making giant mountains of fudge which is never a bad thing! This is the Little Lemon’s first festive season so we’ve jumped in feet first and booked ourselves in for eight markets and a wedding cake, all before the middle of December. Sound crazy? Well, maybe a little bit but it’s been so much fun so far that despite not being able to move for crates of fudge in our house we’re really enjoying ourselves.

We’ve twice had friends round for the evening to help us cut and package fudge in return for dinner, which is an alternative to Tupperware evenings (although now I come to think of it, it’s probably not that different) and we’ve been busy putting together our gift boxes too. This weekend, our Canadian friend Chaps who is on tour in Paris with Cirque de Soleil came to visit us and was not deterred at all by us roping him in to help at Lighting Up The Manor (setting up a state of the art show in a ginormous tent all over the world is nothing compared with setting up the Little Lemon…)

blue_gift_inst red_gift_inst small_gift_instNext weekend we’ll be at the Duck Pond market for Saturday AND Sunday; the last time we did a two-day event there was the Medieval weekend in August which was brilliant, and this time there’ll be Christmas music and mulled wine! Can’t wait.  After that we’ll be back at the Little Fox for an evening market (“The Starlight Market” which just sounds lovely and Christmasy) and then another two-dayer at the Duck Pond in mid-December. Phew. Oh, and some dear friends are tying the knot at the end of this month and we’re delighted to be making their cake for them. They’ve chosen beautiful autumnal colours for the wedding – imagine deep reds, burnt oranges, winter berries and leaves and you’ll get an idea – and the decoration of the cake will complement the bride’s bouquet. We’re very excited about it!

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We’re so pleased that the Little Lemon has taken off so well, and even the website is starting to garner more attention with online orders coming in and people tweeting us lovely messages about our fudge.  So, come mid-December we’ll have a chance to sit down and rest our aching feet, spend time with loved ones and enjoy a few days off, but until then it’s going to be a real whirlwind of a time. A big, Christmasy whirlwind covered in tinsel and baubles, of course.

Day eight of the 30 day photography challenge – routine

I try not to have too much of a routine, but there are a few things which I do every day like feeding George, Molly and Pickle, and taking George for a walk twice a day. Since I’ve been on school holidays, I’ve been getting up early and heading to the park with him for a run and to use the outdoor gym they’ve installed recently. In a week running up to a market, we get into a routine of making fudge and packaging everything, but we always try to take time to do our own thing so the days aren’t too samey.

One thing however that I always start my day with is a cuppa. I mean, I’m British and we all love tea – and for me it’s the best way to start the day and it’s usually me who gets up first and makes us both a cup. A morning without tea? Well, it wouldn’t be right…

cuppa

Day three of the 30 day photography challenge

This one was almost a last-minute pic because I’ve spent the day at the Duck Pond market with the Little Lemon and it was so busy that I hardly sat down all day! (Brilliant, but my back and knees were slightly less enthused).  We’ve been going to the Duck Pond markets since February and we’re really enjoying them, and today was the start of a two-day event which is much bigger than the usual, and one we’ve never done before.  This was also the first one I’ve done on my own (Beloved works on a Saturday) and actually, it was fine (I had a big flask of tea.  What more could you need?)  Towards the end, Ollie and Chris popped in and held the fort for me to take a quick break, and then helped me to pack everything away, along with my mum.  Four pairs of hands and a trolley are much better than one pair of hands and a trolley so I’m very grateful.

Afterwards, I headed round to my mum’s for another cuppa and to collect George, and ended up staying for dinner.  Then I remembered the challenge and thankfully there were clouds!  Of course, that shouldn’t have come as a surprise – good ol’ Blighty is very obliging when it comes to clouds…Clouds

Having a bit of a love affair with caramel

Last month at one of our markets, a very nice lady asked us if we made salted caramel fudge which got me thinking (we always like to try out new flavours in our fudge recipes) so we decided to have a go at creating one.  I found a great recipe for salted caramel sauce (thanks Nigella) and I have to admit that it’s really easy to make (shhh don’t tell everyone…).   With a couple of experiments and a change in the salt we were using (flakes work much better than normal sea salt), we’ve now got a lovely salted caramel fudge which proved a hit at last weekend’s Duck Pond market.

Because Nigella’s salted caramel sauce is so delicious, I began to wonder what else we could use it in.  The first (and most obvious) thing that came to mind was salted caramel cupcakes – my mum had asked me to make some cakes for her – and all it took was a simple cupcake recipe with the caramel lightly stirred in, a cream cheese frosting and a load of caramel sauce drizzled on top (according to my husband ‘a load’ wasn’t quite enough – the caramel sauce was that good!  Again, thanks Nigella).

Salted caramel cupcakes and salted caramel fudge

Salted caramel cupcakes and salted caramel fudge

I’ve spent a little bit of time today looking for different salted caramel recipes and so far I’ve found:

Salted caramel hot chocolate (going to try this one tonight using a bit of caramel sauce I’ve got left over)
Chocolate fondant with salted caramel brittle and caramel sauce (yum)
Salted caramel brownies
Salted caramel brandy butter (this one sounds perfect for Christmas, poured over Christmas puddings or home-made mince pies)

Something tells me that this love affair might last for some time…

 

 

Things which have made me smile this week

At the moment I’m counting the hours until the summer holidays, not because I don’t enjoy my job – I do – but because it means two things: 1) I get to see my husband during the day before he trundles off to work in the evenings and 2) I get to spend more time focusing on the Little Lemon.  Actually, three things – 3) I get to spend time in the garden (trying) to make it look nice and catching some sun and Oh four things – 4) I get to walk George twice a day, go for runs and get fit.  Actually, the more I think about it, there are plenty of things being on summer hols means and I plan to make the most of it.

This weekend was our sixth wedding anniversary and we celebrated it by taking the Little Lemon to the market.   The sixth anniversary is represented by sugar so I suppose selling fudge was quite an appropriate way to spend the day!

In between customers at the Duck Pond market, surrounded by fudge

In between customers at the Duck Pond market, surrounded by fudge

We always take a moment to wander around the market when we’re there to say hello to some of the other stallholders we’ve made friends with, and I always pop into the petting zoo for my fix of fluffiness.  This week I played with a piglet (he squealed a lot) and sat with a tiny bunny on my lap.

Cute!

Cute!

Several of our friends and family popped down to see us which was brilliant and our friends Janine and Steve whom we haven’t seen since Australia three years ago came along too.

On Wednesday last week I went along to the press night of Dirty Dancing which I thoroughly enjoyed – it was nice to be back at the Piccadilly Theatre and to see old friends.

An incredibly pink Piccadilly

An incredibly pink Piccadilly – picture shared from Charlotte Gooch

Last weekend we had some friends and family round for a barbecue in the garden as a sort of early anniversary celebration – Simon did all the cooking and even made us an enormous Eton Mess for dessert (one of the many reasons I love my husband – who doesn’t love a guy who can whip up an Eton Mess at a moment’s notice?)

Simon eating his Mess straight from the bowl (this is not a flattering view of the garden - hoping it will look better in the coming weeks)

Simon eating his Mess straight from the bowl (this is not a flattering view of the garden – hoping it will look better in the coming weeks)

And we discovered that some of our neighbours who had lost their black cat have found him again (phew).  They posted notices up on trees and fences to let us know:

Found him!

Found him!

Here’s to another week filled with things to make us smile!

 

A barking good day out

We’re feeling shattered but brilliant after our day at the Mayhew’s Hyde Bark yesterday. We decided to have George with us for the whole day in the end and he had a fab time too – as the car was (expertly) jam-packed full of all of our market stall stuff there wasn’t space for all three of us, so George and I went on the tube. This was George’s first time on the Underground and he was brilliant – beautifully behaved and not at all spooked. I also discovered that people are very chatty when you’ve got your dog with you which is really nice and a bit different from travelling in the rush hour!

George travelling on the Central line

George travelling on the Central line

Ready to welcome the customers!

Ready to welcome the customers!

Once we got there, George sat patiently by a tree while we set everything up and then we entered him for a couple of the doggy events: Waggiest Tail and Handsomest Male. He didn’t win (he got distracted by a stick and forgot to wag his tail) but had a great time meeting lots of other puppas and chatting to the judges throughout the day.

It’s been quite a while since we’ve been to Hyde Park and we’d forgotten how beautiful (and how big) it is – it’s the perfect setting for a day full of doggies and market stalls. We had a really successful day, with lots of people complimenting us on our fudge which is always great to hear (“The lemon fudge is sensational”; “Amazing lemon fudge”; “Best lemon fudge ever!” all on Twitter – so lovely). We were also filmed as part of a reality show when Caroline Stanbury bought some of our treats which was unexpected but exciting (we had to sign a waiver afterwards, and then have our photographs taken *holding* the waiver).

We met so many really lovely people, and quite a few of our friends came along to support us which always makes a good market day great. And, to top it all, we were surrounded by puppas of all shapes and sizes – a perfect way to spend a Sunday! We got home just in time to watch the Grand Prix (brilliant!) but fell asleep through the end of it (less brilliant). We’re definitely planning to do the event again next year – we hope you’ll come too :)

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