What to Wear: For a night out [26 weeks]

One of the hardest things about being pregnant has been trying to retain a feeling of being fashionable. So many maternity styles are either standard (i.e. stripes or tunic tops,) or not my style at all (empire line swingy or full dresses,) that it’s hard not to feel that you have lost all of your personal style. I was pretty excited to find these trousers and snapped them up for my birthday dinner, to make up a spring-appropriate pale and interesting outfit.

Jacket: French Connection (non-maternity and old)
Vest: H&M (non-maternity)
Trousers: Isabella Oliver Messina trouser (Size 10)
Bag: Mulberry
Shoes: Topshop Gwenda’s
Necklace: Monica Vinader

I know a lot of people don’t want to splash out on maternity clothes but I think it’s worth it. You wear the items you buy in much heavier rotation when pregnant as there’s nothing else you can wear. Plus I want to enjoy this amazing period of my life rather than feeling rubbish about myself because I don’t feel good. It’s worth thinking ahead too, I’ll be wearing these for a few months after baby arrives I imagine, with their comfy elastic waistband and a few months of summer yet to go.


The Big Three-Oh…

As I write this, I am in my last week of my twenties. Good bye to what has without doubt been the best decade of my life so far. I spent 6 years at Manchester University, became a fully fledged doctor, managed to evade disater as an over-worked and hard partying junior doctor and completed my training as a GP, picking up a couple of extra diplomas along the way. Not bad for a 29 year old I don’t think. Then there’s the blogging speed train taking me through wedding-ville, and currently ending here at Florence Finds which quite neatly celebrates its 6 month anniversary tomorrow. 🙂

Image from Wedding Chicks

My Mum alway says her thirties were her best decade and that seems to be the prevailing opinion… it’s a given I’m likely to be better off and have more career stability, but is it really about confidence, growing into your sense of self? Mum met my Dad, got married and started her family (with me) in her thirties, so it’s not suprising she looks back on that decade as the best one. I on the other hand did much of that already… I met Pete at 21, got our two cats, bought our first home and got married, all by the time I was 27. That sounds unintentionally depressing really, so much already done. When I was a teenager and wasn’t allowed to do things I always remember Mum saying, If you do everything now, what is there left to enjoy? (I think she was secretly talking about sex, but it’s a good life motto!) Strangly though, I don’t feel like I’ve done everything, more like I’ve been laying the foundations. I honestly don’t think I would have had the energy to do everything I have done if I hadn’t had Pete’s support… you know how they say ‘behind every man there’s a good woman’? Well in my case, it’s the other way around and there isn’t a day goes by that I’m not thankful.

Balloons by Luis Montiero

I’m not sure how I feel about being thirty really. The media tells us exactly how we should feel – that sense of dread at getting old, searching for wrinkles and grey hairs, the end of your carefree years and the start of being properly grown up. I dont feel any of that. After years of saying I would always have a big party for my birthday, I now find myself surrounded by friends who have had children, fulfilling the media picture I just painted, less available, less carefree. In some ways it feels like just another birthday, no rite of passage, no great fanfare to welcome me into this fabled new decade. And you all already know I actually can’t even find an appropriate dress for the occasion!

Image from 5 Inch and Up

Of course, my thoughts have turned to the future already; instead of planning things I wanted to do before I’m thirty, I’ve been thinking about my thirtieth year. After a lot of thinking I’ve only really come up with one must-do. I’ve never been to a festival and after years of not getting organised enough or having the time or money I decided this would be the year I would go to Glastonbury, an enthusiasm swiftly dampened by finding it was having a rest year. After a bit of research I’ve opted for Bestival instead in the hope if it being a little more suited to being a grown up. And yes, I will be treating myself to a teepee or something similarly comfortable.

There are other things I want to do… I’m still on a perpetual planning mission to travel and we have more tweaks to make in the house, but I wouldn’t consider any of it monumental. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m happy with my lot.

I’m curious though, how being at the same stage or considering the approach of a big birthday affects you? There is always a stifled groan when people mention their impending thirtieth whereas I can’t think of any better excuse to celebrate! What I can’t quite reconcile is if it should be a wild night or elegant relaxed affair, but I don’t feel pressured to make it monumental. I suppose because I don’t feel it’s the last chance for anything, more the beginning. If you have already turned thirty, how did you feel about it? Are there any things you want to do before you are thirty? Or if you’re already there, is there anything you wish you had done?

I’m all (twenty-nine-year-old) ears,


Friday Food: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

You can all breathe a sigh of relief! It’s the end of January and so I thought we all deserved (at least a picture of) a big piece of chocolate cake!

I also decided to post this particular recipe as it’s one of the cakes I’ve made for the cake table this evening at Pete’s birthday party, at his request. We have a tradition now of him leafing through the The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbookand choosing his own cake. This one is pretty spectacular and although I would have liked mine to turn out taller, it’s still very impressive. A must for chocolate fanatics or anyone just wishing to celebrate the end of January! 😉

Image Credit: Zoe Bakes.

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
170g plain flour
160 ml whole milk

For the chocolate custard:
500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 x 20cm cake tins, base-lined with greaseproof paper

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius (Gas 3)

2. Put the butter and sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or a handheld electric whisk)
and cream until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl
with a rubber spatula after each addition.
Turn the mixer down down to slow speed and beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder,
baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt until well mixed.
Add half the flour, then all the milk, and finish with the remaining flour.
Mix well until everything is well combined.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 mins.
Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins
before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

4. For the chocolate custard: Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml of water
into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

5. Mix in the cornflour with 120ml of water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan.
Bring back to boil , whisking constantly.
Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill until very firm.

6. When the cakes are cold, using a serrated knife, slice a thin layer off one of the cakes.
Put this layer into a food processor and process to make fine crumbs.
Put one cake on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the chocolate custard over it with a palette knife.
Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it.
Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides.
Cover with the cake crumbs and chill for about 2 hours.

How much do you just want to shove your face in that?

Birthdays are the best 🙂


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