5 of the best… ALBUMS that we’ve worn out in 2014

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As we review the last 12 months, we thought we’d share our greatest finds of 2014, from music, to movies, nights in and days out…

The Albums that have been the soundtrack to our 2014:

Hanna’s top 5

1. My Morning Jacket – At dawn

2. Ryan Adams – Gold

3. Rosie Thomas – If songs could be held (for sentimental reasons… our wedding song’s in it)

4. Phosphorescent – here’s to taking it easy

5. Lauryn hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (erm, because of my teenage years)

Sarah’s top 5:

1. Ben Howard – I forget where we were

2. Beck – Morning Phase

3. Asleep versions – Jon Hopkins – ethereal, this will transport you to a some beautiful place between awake and asleep

4. Bombay Bicycle Club – So long, see you tomorrow (not least because of Rae Morris’s sublime voice)

5. James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

And a sneaky honourable mention to “We are all young together” by Walter Martin – a kids album featuring Matt Berninger and Karen 0, that grown ups will love as much as kids – our baby boy goes crazy for this album!

Celeste’s top 5: 

1. Chet Faker – Gold

2. St. Vincent

3. Bob Dylan – blonde on blonde

4. Bright Eyes – I’m wide awake it’s morning

5.  & it’s a tie b/w Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow & M Ward – a wasteland companio

 

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Hygge and Hot Apple Punch

hygge-2‘Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of friends by a good fire?’ C.S. Lewis

I was listening to BBC Radio 6 music while working this morning; Lauren Laverne dedicated her show to the Danish idea of ‘Hygge’  (pronuonced ‘Heu-gah’). We don’t have a direct equivilent in English but I came across this beautiful explanation:

‘The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open-hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Celebrating the everyday.

We all Hygge – around a table for a shared meal, beside a fire on a wet night, making coffee, together at work. In our overstretched, complex, modern lives, Hygge is a resourceful, tangible way to find deeper connection to our families, our communities, our children, our homes and our earth. It’s an uncomplicated, practical method of weaving the stuff of spirit and heart into daily life without sentimentality then taking time to celebrate it on a human scale. Hygge is a kind of enchantment– a way of stirring the senses, the heart and the imagination, of acknowledging the sacred in the secular – a way of giving something ordinary a special context, spirit and warmth, taking time to make it extraordinary. Hygge is about being not having.’ (http://hygge.co/definition-of-hygge/)

We are in the high season of Hygge, as we relish in it and be grateful for the simplest and greatest joys, my challenge to myself if who else I can make space for by the fire of my Hygge season; my advent season,  Who are those experiencing the coldness of loneliness, poverty, sickness near me who I can create Hygge for?  That I can extend warmth and welcome to? For whom is this season marked by isolation rather than the warmth of belonging? How can I cultivate Hygge in my advent? My prayer for this season is that I can stoke a fire warm enough for many,

In keeping with the notion of Hygge here is a little recipe for a Fairtrade Spiced Apple Punch (taken from the Fairtrade Cook Book) to warm your hands and your bellies:

Ingredients

800 ml Fairtrade apple juice

2.5 ml Fairtrade ground cinnamon or

4 pieces of Fairtade cinnamon stick

4 slices Fairtrade lemon

16 Fairtrade whole cloves

30 ml organic Fairtrade runny honey

Method

Gently heat the apple juice in a saucepan.

Add the honey as the juice warms through, and stir to dissolve.

Add the cinnamon powder as well if this method is used, stir well.

Once the mixture is hot (it should not be allowed to boil), pour the drinks into large wine glasses.

If you are using cinnamon stick put one piece in each of the glasses.

Take each slice of lemon and impale four cloves.

Add one cloven lemon slice to each drink.

To serve

Sip this beautiful aromatic drink, and enjoy curling your fingers around the hot glass.

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Weekend in Pictures

The first weekend in December! Yikes!!

Christmas is coming & so Hanna and her husband picked their tree complete with complimentary mulled wine!

If that doesn’t get you into the spirit?

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First christmas in their new home.

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Sarah & Simon spent the weekend partying with their one year old.. look at that smile!!

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& catching up with a lovely friend visiting from Vancouver

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A breakfast made from whatever there is in the fridge turned out to be surprisingly tasty… even this one wanted a piece of it!

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The V&A Museum of Childhood has all sorts of nostalgic goodies including this guy!

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& to ready herself for her big move to Belfast, Celeste kept warm with a little Guinness at Broadway Market.

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 Hope you all had beautiful, warm, bright & advent-ful weekends!

- Sarah, Hanna & Celeste

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Bake your gingerbread hero

SarahF-Hero

This a a gingerbread a very liberal representation of my gran, Nessa, My gingerbread hero!  Feisty, strong, generous, brilliant. She raised two children and worked as a shorthand typist in Belfast all while going completely blind at 22. She walking her guide dogs through belfast in the height of the troubles, She was widowed young and has lives an independent, resourceful, full life, overcoming obstacles with grace and humour… she is brilliant

If ever there was a season to indulge in some simple but delicious baking it was advent.  So here is a delicious recipe and how to from Martha off of the Great British Bake off, and along with it, a fab little idea to get us thinking about who it is that has inspired you, by changing your world, or the world… As a season to take stock and be grateful, perhaps as you get baking some gingerbread you could take a wee bit of time to be grateful and make a little bit of gingerbread hero art.

For a fab recipe and how to make your gingerbread hero pop over to here

Happy Baking and hero making!

-Sarah

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..And their merry men: Old Fashioned Ode

You know what they say about behind every good woman…!  Us foxes know some great men, who in addition to being fine and brilliant have a great fondness for the fermented.  From time to time they might pop up and share their tasting notes and recipes, and so it is with pleasure we introduce you to our newest feature: (The foxes..) And their merry men!  First up is the hirsute and lovely Simon Francis.

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Old Fashioned Ode

This is in honour of a companion with whom I have shared many adventures – we have raised glasses in countless cities, under varied roofs, and with a changing cast of cohorts.
A simple and warming blend of Bourbon, Sugar, Water, Angostura Bitters, garnished with Orange & Maraschino Cherry.
…My job consists of a series of tangled tours around the globe, and at most stops along the way I often find myself with a trusty this familiar cocktail to hand, sipping slowly as it’s flavours dance across my tongue, rich sweetness, and zesty spice warming me both inside & out.
At this point it is almost ritualistic in it’s regularity (always enjoyed responsibly), and pseudo-“slice-of-home” in spite of it’s never having been drunk at my actual home. So, upon entering a more stationary season with considerably more time at home, I decided I would bring my touring tipple along back with me.
I am at times, a creature of singular focus and what some may label “obsession” (an attribute I have carried from teen Star Wars aficionado, through to professional musician)…
In applying this to this drink; a blend of relatively few ingredients, I decided to contemplate the parts that made the whole…
The official ingredients are as follows:
4.5cl Bourbon (or Rye Whiskey)
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Sugar Cube
Splash of Water
Orange Slice & Maraschino Cherry to garnish.
This allows for a considerable range of possibilities and options, as there are a kaleidoscope of interpretations of this simple recipe: Bourbon or Rye? Experiment with the bitters? White or brown sugar? Sugar syrup? …etc
Relatively early on I settled with Bulleit Bourbon as a base – I liked it’s spicy character and orange-y notes, and felt these worked as a good foundation.
Having experimented with different bitters on different equations, both myself and at the hands of many barkeepers I felt it best to keep it somewhat traditional and stick to the classic  Angostura bitters, whilst I do sometimes use an orange bitters in the absence of an orange garnish.
The sugar and the water are where I diverge a little – the sugar cube is elegant, but at times I feel it doesn’t blend in to the drink enough, and as much as I value labour and process, there are times when the marathon muddling required to mix sugar grains and water is inconvenient and enjoyable… So having decided upon demerara as my sugar of choice (I simply love it’s dark richness), I set about making a simple syrup with water, for easy use in future drink making. Just dissolve your preferred sugar in water at a ratio of 100g sugar : 100ml water. Simply heat and combine then pour in to a sterilised bottle or container and allow to cool.
Finally, the cherry comes under our gaze. I wanted nothing to do with those red plastic monstrosities you are sometimes served up, and so looked for something more refined. Ultimately I was introduced to the original Maraschino cherry from Luxardo, at a number of bars across the USA. You should most definitely seek these out if you haven’t had them before: they are delicious and addictive!
Additionally, you can make your own – a road I ventured along, loosely following a number of recipes found on the internet (search “homemade maraschino cherries”). Essentially a combination of sour cherries, cherry syrup, and a touch of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, which is then left to macerate and mix up in a dark cupboard. Ultimately, this process came at a similar cost to Luxardo’s own, though with a favour that definitely stands up to the original… I think both are options worth pursuing, and either way you end up with a jar of delicious drops of pleasure.
As for combining them… my personal ritual is as follows:
-Take your glass (generally a small rocks glass), and add a splash of the syrup: 10-20ml to taste
-Add two dashes of bitters.
-Add 1 maraschino cherry ad a slice of orange, and muddle gentlly.
-Remove the orange slice, and add 40ml Bourbon
-Add ice and return the orange slice to serve
-Drink slowly
-And exhale
-Simon

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Our weekend in pictures

imageHope you all had a weekend full of merriment – ours consisted on house renovations, mooching around a beautiful blustery Edinburgh, and enjoying coffee & banana
bread in the new and lovely Wild goose bakery (https://mobile.twitter.com/WildGooseBakery) in Leytonstone and Celeste has indulged her tom Selleck infatuation for a good cause and has become a mo sister :

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Hope your week is full of rest & play

-Hanna, Celeste & Sarah

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