Monthly Archives: April 2013

Socially challenged (and win a social media course!)

Facebook Toast –

Pinterest,  StumbleUpon, HootSuite, YouTube, Instagram, Linked In (BREATHE) Bebo, Blogger, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler.. Is this the kind of language you hear that makes you break out in a sweat and want to run for the mountains and get back to basics and make fire with twigs?

I understand. Don’t worry. You are normal and everything is fine.

Social Media is a phrase that everyone has heard, but not everyone necessarily has a grip on. I have been asked by countless bloggers, marketers and other industry professionals, HOW do you do it? WHY bother doing it and (this is the most common) I haven’t got TIME to do it.

I am in no way a guru when it comes to Social Media. (I am more of a guru when it comes to cake. Eating, not making. This is how I know I am not a guru in Social Media.) But I do have some kind of a grip… but I wanted to know more.

pic from

I spoke to Elizabth Floyd, who is head of Business Training Made Simple and decided to attend a couple of their courses.

The Made Simple Group run business courses in pretty much everything you can imagine, with a huge emphasis on social media. There are full day courses specifically for Twitter or Facebook, courses in blogging and Google Adwords..etc. You can see a full range of their courses here.

I did two full day courses – Social Media level 1 (an introduction) and Social Media level 2 – where we delved more into strategy and implementation.

Now, you will read an awful lot about lots of different social media courses, but these were absolutely BRILLIANT. 

AND THERE WAS CAKE. I’ll come back to this crucial point later.

pic from zinc
The first course was run by Michelle Carvill, founder of Carvill Creative. Michelle is one of those people who makes you feel instantly relaxed and at ease, even though she has enough credentials to sink a dingy. 

She was full of energy (ZING!) she was dynamic, encouraging, clear in her explanations and jam packed full of amazing information you never knew you needed but now know you clearly cannot live without it. 

The course covered Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and YouTube, from the absolute basics through to using these tools efficiently and with confidence. And when I say basics, I mean setting up accounts and answering questions like ‘What does Tweet mean?’

So even though I was aware of most of the things discussed in this session, it was still incredibly valuable for me to do. When you work independently, whether you blog or have your own business, you don’t often get anyone saying to you “Well done” or “You are doing this right.” So for me, this was a huge confidence boost, just knowing I was on the right track.

The second day was Social Media level 2 and delved a bit deeper into planning and strategy development. This course was run by David Taylor, again bursting with energy, laden with credentials and MD of 2010Media. I learnt a great deal in this session and went home with a lovely long list of new tools and ideas I was looking forward to implementing into my own blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

The courses were held in Farringdon, London. Each day was a full day, from 9 – 5.30pm, but the hours flew by.  The groups were fairly small (around 12-15 people) so you had the opportunity to talk to everyone – there was such a wide range of ages and careers that this was hugely interesting as well!

pic from

A delicious Pret a Manger lunch was provided and tea and coffee was on tap throughout the day. There were regular coffee breaks, where we were surprised with fresh fruit, cakes, sweet treats and scones with jam and clotted cream! Honestly, were it not for the actual course, I would have thought I was at some kind of amazing hotel. 

I cannot recommend these courses enough. If you are someone who has no clue where to begin, or if you are someone that has been working away relatively confidently, but would like to understand the nuts and bolts a bit more and develop a strategy for yourself, then these courses are for you. You leave with a sense of real accomplishment, a real life certificate (!) print outs from the day and oodles of online resources at your fingertips.

To top it off I have a £20 discount voucher for you to use against any of their courses! Just enter POPPY20 at checkout.

And just to go back to the ‘why do I need to do social media?’ question; With 70% of online purchases  coming from an online or peer recommendation and with 40% of the UK population being on Facebook.. can you afford not to?

I’m just going to tweet this post now… from my HootSuite… yep. I totally know what I’m doing.

Win a SOCIAL MEDIA LEVEL 1 COURSE at Business Made Simple, worth £239.
If you would like to win this wonderful prize then just enter my giveaway below. (Click on the Rafflecopter link if it doesn’t pop up.)

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Hello Sunshine

Soda Fountain Dress in ginger –

I love shirt dresses. They look effortless, understated, very feminine and they have sleeves. I’m a fan of sleeves. I don’t mind how little the sleeve is, but please let there be a sleeve. 

I just discovered this dress and I love it. It’s from ModCloth, who are based in the States but who also deliver to the UK – ding! This is their Soda Fountain Dress and retails at $44.99 – which is just under £29 for us. It comes in a variety of colours, but this hue is doing it for me.

Saffron the Ball Flats –

After delving around their site I stumbled across these- Saffron The Ball Flats – also from ModCloth and also very pretty. I can get a bit hot and sweaty in closed ballet pumps during the Summer, so these would be perfect for me and my tootsies.

Need Sunglasses – OPI

I thought if I was going yellow, I should probably go yellow all the way and this shade from OPI is not shy! It’s called ‘Need Sunglasses‘ (appropriate) and is zingy and bright and sunshiny with a lovely shimmery sheen. You will need a good base coat for this one – it’s not the thickest of polishes so you’ll need a bit of support from underneath.

So there you have it – I say let’s all dress up in yellow and do a Birdie Song flash mob.


Salad in a jar for a busy girl lunch

Since mornings can be pretty hectic, making my lunch the day before really does make a difference and is great for time saving. I love this very simple and pretty way of having a delicious and portable homemade salad – you can layer it up with whatever you fancy and the above is just one example.

The trick is to put your dressing in the jar first and then pack all your layers down tightly so the dressing doesn’t flow everywhere and come into contact with most of your veggies (salad leaves tend to go limp and floppy if they’re dressed too early) until you’re ready to eat it.

When you’re ready to serve, just shake it up (think Tom Cruise in Cocktail) and you’ll have a perfectly dressed fresh salad. Bam.

Here is one of my favourite salads (it’s not the one in the pic). Don’t forget – dressing in first, then layer up in the order of the recipe.. 

Poppy’s green and beanie salad, with parmesan and lemon

Half a can of cannellini beans
Handful green beans, washed, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
Handful sugar snap peas, washed and halved
Two tablespoons sundried tomatoes
Half an avocado, chopped
Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Grated zest of 2 lemons

1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper



Fine and Scandi (with a gorgeous giveaway)

Welcome to Northlight, who have made it their mission to bring the very best of Scandinavian living to our shores so we can all drink tea out of cups like the one below, carry beautiful bags like the ones above and look like Scarlett Johansson. (Her dad was Danish. It’s all I’ve got.)
One of the cups from Northlight’s House of Rym range

Look at this cup. It’s gorgeous. It’s designed into and delicate and pretty and classy and I really really really (that’s three) love it. It forms part of Northlight Homestore’s House of Rym range – a porcelain collector’s set, designed by Anna Backlund, containing different pieces in different patterns, designed to be mixed and matched limitlessly.

They have a gorgeous website, packed with all kinds of amazing Scandi brands, most of which I cannot pronounce (Pluto, Färg&Form, Klippan, Bengt and Lotta, Elvang, Susanne Schjerning etc. See? Hard.) But boy, they know how to do homeware.

A selection of beautiful Northlight homewares

They have everything you could wish for in home bits and accessories and I’m very happy to be pointing you their way.

If you nip over, please say a hello from me!

Northlight Homeware Giveaway!

Win a cup and saucer from their beautiful porcelain House of Rym range, designed by Anna Backlund.  If you would like to win this wonderful prize then just enter my giveaway below. (Click on the Rafflecopter link if it doesn’t pop up.)

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7 Minutes Molten Fudge Chocolate Cake

Image from Ana Fernandez

Image from Ana Fernandez

This recipe just made me swoon. It’s by Ana Fernandez, who lives in Venezuela and boy is she one clever dolly. 

This is a also vegan recipe, (check your margarine) and although I haven’t made it yet, I know I’m going to love it and couldn’t resist popping it up here for all your eyes to see, just in time for the weekend… 

This recipe makes 2, so you need to divide the ingredients between the two ramekins.

What you need: 

2 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chopped cooking chocolate

What you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. In a ramekin mix the maple syrup and the margarine and place in the oven for
1 minute so everything will melt.
3. Mix in the baking powder, then the flour and the cocoa.
4. Place the chocolate on top and press slightly.
5. Bake for 5 minutes.

The end. I am in love.



Mimbles’ Fig and Apple Compote

Mimbles' Fig and Apple Compote

Mimbles’ Fig and Apple Compote

Last Sunday I went round to see Mimbles for breakfast. She is quite nifty in the kitchen is Mimbles. She sort of puts things together in pots and pans that would usually terrify me but they always come out being brilliant.

This recipe isn’t terrifying at all, but I was still mighty impressed that the preparation had begun the NIGHT BEFORE (hides Coco Pops) and involved stewing and Roobios tea.

It was so delicious. We ate it outside in the garden with the birds singing (this was on the day that Spring popped up to say hi), with natural yoghurt and almonds sprinkled on top.

Fig and apple compote

1. Soak 10 dried figs in rooibos tea – made with 500ml boiling water and 1 tea bag – overnight
2. The next day peel, core and chop an apple into 1cm pieces
3. Drain figs, cut off and discard the hard stem then cut the rest into 1 cm pieces
4. Place chopped figs and apple in a saucepan and stew gently for 30 minutes
5. Serve with yoghurt and almonds. 

Thank you Mimbles for a perfect breakfast – what a treat.



Retail Therapy: Monsoon

Did you see the sun on Sunday? Did you? Did you? I did and I decided that here at last was Spring so hip hip hurruh and put those Uggs AWAY. Bam!

Off I went to celebrate on Westbourne Grove, with a latte from Tom’s Deli and an unnecessary but delightful purchase from Monsoon. This is me snapping myself in the changing room, wearing said purchase… and I really really like it.

It’s called Zinnia (like a WARRIOR) and the pretty coral print features tiny flowers and leaves.. I love the sleeve trim detail too. Pretty pretty. 

Zinnia Print Top, Monsoon  £29

I wore it all day with my sunnies and flipflops.. and then… slowly.. the clouds crept back in… 

Today I am wearing my Uggs again and a massive wooly jumper. But I don’t mind.  This top may not have been something I needed, but it made me very happy.

Besides, it was Voltaire who said “The Superfluous, a very necessary thing.”

I quite agree. 


Zinnia Print Top – £29


Avo & eggs breakfast pizza


I would like to crown this brekky King of Brekkys.

I can’t get enough of avocado at the moment, (I think I’m averaging at around 4 a week. Oops) and this is a really easy way to combine it with my another of my favourite brekky foods – eggs. Eggs eggs eggs.

Continue Reading…


Stain Reaction


Photo courtesy of Surrender Dorothy

I managed to spill coffee on myself couple of days ago. Not just a weeny bit, but one of those enormous splashy spillages that made me wonder if I’ll ever not smell of coffee for the rest of my life.

I set about Google searching for magical remedies to get rid of the coffee splodge and stumbled across a very handy laundry stain removal guide from A Typical English Home. I love things like this – they make me feel just a bit more in control. (Ha.)  This guide is packed with special tricks of the trade, passed down from wise old washers through the generations… Some of them sound a bit dubious, but I am assured that this is no hocus-pocus  – these remedies work. Yep. Your new best friend will be vinegar, if I have anything to do with it.

So have a peek below and see how you can remove those tricky, pesky stains (think wine, blood, ink, grease etc.. eek!) and let’s all be as happy as the woman in the Rinso Soap poster above.

Ready? Here you go:

Soak in cold water, mixed with  two tablespoons of salt or ammonia.
Remove as much of the excess as possible, being careful not to spread the stain. Rinse from the reverse side with cold water. Gently rub in some liquid detergent and leave it to sit for 5 minutes, then soak for 15 minutes in cold water.
Mix 1 teaspoon of white vinegar with two cups of water and apply to the stain with a sponge.
Sprinkle baking soda onto the crayon marks and rub with a cloth.
Dab a little non-gel toothpaste over the affected area and rub gently. Wash off with soap. Repeat if necessary.
Rub stain with dish soap and a damp cloth, before washing with a biological detergent.
Pre-treat the stain with white vinegar or dish soap.
Sprinkle baking soda on the affected area to soak up excess grease. Rub the stain with liquid dish soap and wash in the hottest water suitable for the garment.
Apply an ice cube to the area to harden the gum, or put in a freezer. Scrape off as much of the hardened gum as possible then pre-treat the area with a mixture of dish soap and white vinegar.
Allow the mud to dry completely. Remove as much of the mud as you can then rub dish soap into the area with a damp cloth.
Create a paste with baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain and leave it to sit for an hour.
Apply a paste of baking soda and water and leave for one hour. Soak garment in cold water then wash as usual.
Sprinkle salt on the area to absorb as much of the stain as possible. Rinse from the reverse side of the stain with boiling water and wash immediately.
Squeeze lemon juice onto the stain and sprinkle with salt. Allow garment to bleach naturally in the sun.
Apply white vinegar directly onto the stain and wash immediately. Sunlight will also bleach stubborn stains.

Ooo and if you want a handy printable version to frame or stick on the fridge, then whizz over there to her lovely blog and grab the free pretty download.




Poppy’s Brekky: Lizi’s Granola
(and giveaway)


I’m a bit of a fan of breakfast, so when Lizi’s sent me some of their Treacle and Pecan Granola to sample I was rather pleased. I should probably mention here that as you know, people send me things all the time and it’s important that you also know that I ONLY write about things that I actually do love. There is never an obligation for me to write a review if I’m sent a product and I will always tell the truth about what I think. Poppy’s honour.

Continue Reading…


Read it: I Never Knew That About London

I often wander around London, wondering what the significance of the street names, monuments, buildings and parks are. There are so many nooks and crannies and never-ending numbers of amazing sounding names and places…there’s a sense of there being a story behind every little thing you see.

On Saturday I was in Foyles on the Southbank and I found the book ‘I Never Knew That About London’ by Christopher Winn. I love books. And I really love THIS book. It is packed with nuggets of information that make you go ‘No!’ and ‘I don’t BELIEVE IT!’ and ‘HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT?’ (Sorry – it’s that capslock thing again. Can’t stop it once I get going.)

Here is one of my favourite examples..

London Bridge is where London began – the first bridge was built in around (wait for it) AD 52 by the Romans. It was made of wood and so was pulled down and rebuilt a couple of times and in 1014 (beep beep – that is nearly 1000 years ago) the bridge was pulled down by boats being tied to it and then sailing away down the river.. and this is what gave rise to the song ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’.

I find it extraordinary that a little song that was devised nearly 1000 years ago is same song I used to sing while learning to French skip on elastics in my primary school. I have Saxon King Ethelred the Unready to thank for that, apparently.

I also loved learning that the British custom of keeping to the left had developed from jousting when competitors needed to keep their javelin or sword hand free. The reason that people drive on the right in France is because Napoleon was left handed! Badaboom!

This beautifully illustrated book is brimming with stories and snippets providing a spellbinding insight into what has shaped the amazing city of London.

I looked up Notting Hill, where I live, and discovered that Virgin Records began on Portobello Road, the local St Mary Abbot’s Church has the highest spire in London and Jimi Hendrix died in Lansdowne Crescent in 1970.

Well, I never knew that. 

I Never Knew That About London

Christopher Winn


Brown Sugar Shortbread
Baking Kit

Now THAT is what I like to see landing on my doormat. A pretty blue tin filled with yummies which I can just throw together in a bowl and make me some shortbread. Yee ha.

Suzy Pelta

This baking kit is the brainchild of one Miss Suzy Pelta and is one of three you can choose from, including Mini Victoria Sponge, Brown Sugar Shortbread and Chocolate Sugar Scones. Yep. Yum.

Suzy had sent me the baking kit for the Brown Sugar Shortbread and so a couple of days ago I put on my favourite pinny and had a Suzy Pelta baking afternoon. (Complete with flour up the walls, in my hair and somehow in the radio?) Each baking tin come complete with everything you need, pre-measured and packaged and an easy-to-follow instructions sheet too… lovely. (And perfect for Poppy.)

The only ingredient I had to supply myself was butter – above you can see flour, corn flour, sugar and mahoosive chocolate buttons. (The choccy buttons were to make a dipping sauce afterwards, but my brother ate them all before I could make it. This is true. He asked me not to put this in. But I have done anyway. Ha.)

The first job was to cream together the butter and brown sugar. Now, I don’t have a cake mixer at the moment and so I do this by hand. It is HARD! Is it just me? Am I missing something? Seriously, I have to picture my grandma doing it so that I don’t give up and get the Dremmel out. If she could do it, I can do it. But, OW.

took a photo of the dough all rolled out in its long log before I popped it into the fridge… but honestly, my photo looks too weird and wibbly to show you.. But look look look how pretty my little shortbreads are all pricked so neatly with a fork! (I did that.) *Smug Poppy* 

And here they are straight out of the oven! I was getting very excited at this point. They looked like shortbread, they smelled like shortbread…

And they tasted like shortbread! Really really REALLY delicious and very profesh. Not too sweet and perfectly balanced. I can say this without being show-offy as I can’t actually take any of the credit at all – it is all down to the kit. I just had to mix it together.

I sprinkled them with lavender sugar and popped then in my cookie tin. I made 26 pieces altogether and they’ve been a hit with everyone who’s popped in for tea.

p.s. They would have been even better with the chocolate dipping sauce…

Bake with Suzy

WIN a Suzy Pelta Baking Kit!

All you have to do to win this super duper prize is one of the following, (the more you do the more chances you have.) Good luck!

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Hide and Seek (Why I’m camera shy)

A part of why I love living in London so much is that feeling of anonymity you can get in your own home town. I of course have my friends and family who can spot me a mile off, (usually staring vacantly into space or eating a cake) but then there are those bus journeys, tube rides, museum trips and park strolls where no one knows who I am and I can return again and again, never seeing the same person twice.

In my three years of blogging I have not once shown a full picture of myself (although again, my friends are looking at this pic thinking it’s OBVIOUS that it’s me) but it’s a decision I made at the beginning and am now thinking about again, as my readership has significantly grown since then.

I have never really talked much about Pre-Blog-Poppy (PBP) as I never considered it to make particularly interesting reading.. but I thought that I should maybe fill you in as to why I’m being a little more camera shy than most other bloggers out there.

A little while ago, after several years in the music industry I had a brief taste of the very beginnings of fame. Don’t get me wrong – I was never super duper crazy famous, but I did have a couple of experiences where people I didn’t know seemed to know me, and liked to shout at me, point at me and stop me on buses.

Suddenly I was very easy to find.

It didn’t feel right to me and I could see the direction it was heading, so I made one of the hardest decisions of my life and got off the bus… and breathed a huge sigh of relief. (And then I panicked as I had to get a job, but that’s a whole other story.)

I value my privacy so much more now after that experience and feel very lucky to live in a place where I can be anonymous as well as part of the fabric of my local community.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyalty and readership over the years – it means so much knowing that you’re following my blog because you like what I write, rather than how I look.

So, for now I hope you’ll forgive me for being behind the camera instead of in front of it, and perhaps in a little while, when I’m feeling a bit braver, I’ll pop up and surprise you.


The Churchill Bar and Terrace

Churchill Bar

Late last year, The Churchill Bar and Terrace at Hyatt Regency London opened its newly glamorous doors to welcome us in once more.. and so off I toddled to experience it for myself.

Sir Winston Churchill also sits on the terrace, bronze statue 'In Conversation' by renowned sculptor, Lawrence Holofcener

Sir Winston Churchill also sits on the terrace, bronze statue ‘In Conversation’ by renowned sculptor, Lawrence Holofcener

Situated on Portman Square, (I really love this part of town) you already feel that you are not in Kansas anymore.. and as soon as you walk through the door you feel as though you have stepped, not only back in time, but back in the company of Mr Churchill himself…

The stunning interior is designed by the internationally renowned design house, Bespoke by Brigitta Spinocchia, who have created a beautiful, luxurious and inviting bar, brimming with early 1900’s authenticity and a gorgeous Art Deco feel.

The Churchill Bar's signature sunburst motif

The Churchill Bar’s signature sunburst motif

It is also filled with subtle references to a young Winston Churchill and his beloved wife, Clementine, which include pieces of art, travel, books, (curated by Daunt Books) animals, champagne, cigars and whisky.

The bar stocks a selection of 28 fine cigars to be enjoyed on the terrace

The bar stocks a selection of 28 fine cigars to be enjoyed on the terrace

Elegant bookshelves feature books on subjects which Churchill and Clementine would have found fascinating. Gardening, travel, politics etc. Guests are encourage to leaf through them.

Elegant bookshelves feature books on subjects which Churchill and Clementine would have found fascinating. Gardening, travel, politics etc. Guests are encourage to leaf through them.

I didn’t know very much about Churchill and Clementine’s relationship before my visit, but from my short time at the Churchill Bar it became clear that theirs was a very special, romantic and beautiful partnership. Sweet notes and love letters they wrote to each other appear, handwritten, in the menu along with small illustrations of animals they used to draw to sign off. Sir Winston was a dog, (or most commonly a Pig) and Clementine, a cat.

You might notice some locally knitted animals sitting among the books in the bookshelves… Jock, (a marmalade cat) Rufus (a dog) and Pig, (you can guess). These also emulate Churchill’s use of his children’s toys as bookmarkers in his library at Chartwell. I think he and I would have got on rather well.

Even the bathrooms are beautiful...

Even the bathrooms are beautiful…

The drinks menu is extensive and the cocktails themselves are exquisite, all with a strong British legacy. With so many wonderful names to choose from, (e.g. The Winkle, Churchill Martini, Sidecar, Parliamentary Preserve etc..) I opted for the ‘Trafalgar Sour’:

“We mix Colonel Fox’s London Dry Gin with the finest Gloucestershire greengages and pear liqueurs. This is combined with a balance of apples and fresh lemon to give this drink a taste of the countryside”

Prepared by a wizard, (you should see him go – it was amazing to watch) it was completely delicious. The staff are exceptionally knowledgeable and are delighted to engage in all kinds of conversations about flavours, history and technique.. why is a drink muddled or shaken and not stirred? They KNOW!

There is also a delicious food menu with a strong British identity offering some of Churchill’s personal favourites, such as Welsh Rarebit, pork scratchings, potted shrimp, oysters and Scotch quail’s eggs…  

Loch Fyne Smoked Scottish Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill

Loch Fyne Smoked Scottish Salmon with Cream Cheese and Dill

And finally, the stunning (and heated) private terrace will make alfresco drinking a highlight of the Summer. Open until 1am, you can enjoy a classic cocktail and a cigar, (not suggesting you take up smoking, but if you are that way inclined…) and relax in the glamorous glow of secret London, wonderful food and drink and outstanding service.

The attention to detail is quite extraordinary. Every little thing you see (and don’t see) in this beautiful bar has been carefully thought about and selected by those who care passionately about Churchill and London. In doing so they have managed to bring his character and the era he lived in as a young man, to life. 

There is a story in every corner… and I loved it.

The Churchill Bar and Terrace
30 Portman Square