hands holding wedding ring

Picture inspiration for a Highland Wedding

Beautiful wedding dresses, hunky Korean male models and delicious rice dishes… I’m writing a new book and I’ve put together a board on Pinterest with pictures to inspire me.

I don’t consider myself all that visual, but this time Googling what things look like has been terrifically helpful. First off, I wanted an attractive man to serve as a secondary love interest so I typed in Korean male models. (Research—so hard!) I picked these two delightful gents and now I picture them when I’m writing the scenes my character appears in. I’ve called him Hyun-Ki in my book—partly because it sounds so close to ‘hunky’.

Kim Sun Wang - male model

Antonio Berardi wedding dress

Next, I needed a wedding dress—the kind of thing you might find in a designer shop where the dresses on the mannequins never have a price label on them. I found this Antonio Berardi version. Isn’t it absolutely beautiful? I particularly like the high neckline and the asymmetric hem. And as for the train—a thing of beauty, no?

My characters go to a Korean restaurant so in the interests of research I looked up recipes, stumbling on the gorgeously-titled bibimbap—Korea’s national dish. It’s a mix of rice and veggies, topped with strips of beef, a fried egg and spicy sauce. You use chopsticks to break the yolk and mix it in to the dish along with the sauce.

If you’d like the recipe, it is here. And I’ve included the picture of the dish I made, which was the not-as-pretty as the BBC food version one.bibimbap - rice, beef, veggies and a fried egg Gochugang sauce isn’t widely available so I used sriracha instead, which is super spicy so you don’t need as much.

As my heroine’s intended looks like Jamie Fraser of Outlander fame (or Sam Heughan the actor who plays him), I needed pictures of Jamie/Sam for my board too, and found plenty of lovely ones.


Finally, I looked up wedding cakes. You can find amazing cakes online, but I decided my home-made one topped the lot.

You can see my Highland Wedding board on Pinterest here.

Highland Wedding #romcom

couple in wedding outfitsAh, the writer’s life… I’ve started the final book in my trilogy, the Highland Books. Called Highland Wedding, it’s a fascinating insight into the funeral industry… I’m kidding.

Highland Wedding is a rom-com starring the two characters from book one, Highland Fling. Here’s a short excerpt:

“Jack, will you marry me?”

Plenty of people are traditionalists. They believe, even though we are well into the 21st century, that it is still the man’s job to propose marriage. When I said to Katya I was thinking of proposing to Jack, she told me to go for it. The modern woman blah blah… before shuddering.

My best friend has a dim view of marriage, given her mother’s track record. And she hates the idea of being the centre of attention. As do I. Just not as much.

Jack and I live together and we share a cat—an old, grumpy moggie called Mildred. Not my idea, the name but her previous owner was an old guy who needed to go into residential care. The home didn’t allow pets (backwards of them) so we inherited her. I love Mildred. She thinks I’m okay and Jack she tolerates—just. This is the norm with cats. If dogs think they are human, a cat thinks it is God.

My point is there’s no need for Jack and I to get married—I just think we should. And I know our friends and neighbours in the small village where we live would be delighted. It’s a long time since there’s been a wedding in Lochalshie. Funerals are standard, but nuptials are few and far between. The only other candidates are our friends Stewart and Jolene, and Jolene point blank refuses. Katya says she reckons Jolene doesn’t want to tie the knot just in case someone better comes along. And with Stewart that bar isn’t high.

Back to my proposal… I’ve discussed it with Katya, sworn her to secrecy and chosen a date. A year—give or take a day or two—to the day we first got together, although we’ve known each other much longer than that.

The venue for where I pop the question? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the annual Lochalshie Highland Games and a rare sunny day in a remote village in the north-west of Scotland…

Wedding Woes

91926thank%20youMy flash fiction story this week is based on a recent “news” story. I imagined what the other side of the story might be.

Wedding Woes

Thank you notes were hard work – particularly if you couldn’t remember who’d given you what.

Nell’s wedding had been riotous. The celebrations went on until 4am, with all the guests taking advantage of the free bar. She’d been warned about the Scots.

She’d managed to speak to everyone on the night. Friends, family and colleagues seemed overjoyed to be there, their congratulations effusive and their wishes for the couple’s future joyful.

Which was why Mary’s gift seemed strange. She’d promised a generous gift, but her cheque was only £10.

Nell mulled it over. It was probably worth raising the point.


The news story was about a woman who posted up the contents of an email that she had received on mumsnet. The woman had attended a wedding and given the couple £100 (about $145). The bride wrote her an email saying the couple were surprised at the size of the cheque, given the warmth of the woman’s congratulations on the day and if she wanted to adjust the amount, they would be grateful.

Needless to say, it attracted mumsnet mega outrage. Read the story here.


Followers? Not Just A Matter Of Chance…

Do I own the only cat in the world who likes cupcakes??

Do I own the only cat in the world who likes cupcakes??

Luvvies – so wonderful to talk to you once more.

[I feel I must now use these kinds of words now that I’m a creative type, albeit a creative type who is yet to make any money and who watches her ever-decreasing bank balance with a slight touch of gnawing anxiety.]

Several weeks into my new life as a freelance writer – ta-dah! – and my happiness knows no bounds…

This benefits not only me, but my beloved (we wed two weeks ago) who is enjoying daily compliments and increased housework effort on my part*, and the cat, whose strenuous efforts to steal food from my plate are now greeted with “Aw, are you hungry Freddie?”, rather than shrieks followed by a quick squirt of the water spray.

I say freelance writer, you’ll note, but not paid freelance writer so all of this happiness is all very well, but it’s no good without the moolah, hmm?

Blogging has been a learning curve. In my pre-married naivety, I imagined I could write a few wee, witty words** about weddings, people would flock to my site in their hundreds of thousands and et voila, a new writing career would emerge.

That’s right friends, I thought the good folks out there would stumble on my blog BY ACCIDENT, sifting through the billion and billions of sites out there and think to themselves, “Goodness me, what a stroke of luck! I like this woman’s witterings so sign me up instantly for regular updates!”

And then I would find myself batting off contacts from companies. “Yes, yes Clinique you are welcome to advertise on my site in return for a year’s supply of your clarifying lotion”, and “Really, Green & Black’s, you will pay me money AND give me a never-ending supply of your fabulous Butterscotch chocolate?”

At which point, I would play tough negotiater and demand that Green & Black involve me in their product development, namely tasting, from now on.

Oh reader, it did not happen… I have been investigating many of the ways one can use to get one’s blog noticed, read and followed. Australian business coach Casey Gollan has plenty of useful advice on unusual ways you can use to get your posts noticed. Tweeting old posts for example, promoting your post on LinkedIn and to your relevant LinkedIn groups and mentioning contacts on Twitter. He also suggests interviewing someone very influential in your field to creating a ‘how to’ video for YouTube.

[I have visions of me, Delia-like in my kitchen, happily laying sugar paste on a cake whilst instructing the viewer on the do’s and don’ts. Said picture might be spoiled by the cat jumping on top of the rolled-out sugar paste and leaving a dirty paw print in it.***]

Casey also recommends file-sharing sites such as SlideShare and Scribd, as these are sites people can go to find answers to questions, or if you have written something that answers a common question – say, how to put sugar paste on a cake – why not share it on Yahoo Answers, making sure that you include your blog URL?

So there’s a lot to learn, but it’s pretty interesting and exciting. Now I need to go and put some of these ideas into practice…


*Ladies and gentlemen – ironing was carried out. Red wine stains were banished from the floor. Rubber gloves and a face mask were donned so that maximum strength industrial cleaner could be applied to the oven and three years’ worth of grime removed.

**Hopefully they were witty words chums.

***Reader, this happened… I cut out the offending piece of icing.

A Farewell to Carbs

Doesn't the marbled chocolate make this look so pretty?

Doesn’t the marbled chocolate make this look so pretty?

Has something weird happened to time? It appears that I am now a mere nine days away from wedding bells and I am not entirely sure how that happened…

As is my wont, I set myself various ambitious goals at yon time when the wedding day seemed like an occasion far, far into the future. Most of them, in a purely shallow fashion, centred around being a size 6, sporting arms like Madonna and having come through the other side of the world’s harshest detox to guarantee skin so fresh, shiny and young-looking people mistook me for a 39-year-old instead of a… (er, ladylike modesty forbids me to reveal the truth dear reader).

Aye, all rather shallow hmm? So, what happened instead? There was wine, ladies and gentlemen. There were cakes and there was a lot of cheese. Yum! So, I’m now on Atkins*. Rumour has it that the 5.2 diet and the Cambridge diet are among those my guests are trying. Possibly I should contact said diet companies and ask for commission…?

So yes, Atkins, and carbs are now the mere daydream of mashed potatoes, or the enticing whiff of baked goods. To compensate for my carb-free life, I made millionaire’s shortbread today** to serve as favours for my wedding. I cut the normal sized-pieces into cute mini portions and I’ll be putting a couple of each into a china teacup and adding a hand-written note. Kitsch hmm?

I have to share the recipe for the shortbread as it’s one of the world’s nicest biscuits and three trillion times (at least) nicer home-made.


100g cornflour

250g plain flour

250g unsalted butter

110g golden caster sugar

2 tins condensed milk (397g each)

100g unsalted butter

100g dark brown soft sugar

150g plain chocolate

150g milk chocolate

150g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease two 18cm/7-inch square tins (I find it’s easiest to use loose-bottomed cake tins – it makes removal of the finished shortbread much easier.)

Combine the flours and sugar in a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Bring the whole lot together until it forms a bowl, divide in two and press into the bases of the two tins. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool, but do not remove from the tin.

Place the condensed milk, unsalted butter and dark brown soft sugar into a heavy based sauce pan and heat very gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil slowly, stirring all the time. Once it has boiled, turn down to a simmer and cook for five minutes. The mixture will turn a lovely fudgy colour. Pour half over one shortbread base, and half over the other. Leave to cool and set.

Melt the three chocolates separately (I favour 30-sec bursts in the microwave) and place spoonfuls of each kind over the cooled caramel and shortbread. Aim to roughly cover each surface in the three different kinds of chocolate and then lightly tap the tin on the surface so that the chocolates merge into one. Using a skewer or a knife tip, swirl the chocolates to create a marbled effect.

Leave to cool and cut into small squares. You’ll get roughly 40-45 squares from this, but mini ones look sweet. Tip – if you cut this up before the chocolate has fully set, the chocolate topping won’t crack.

*Atkins, for those of you for whom dieting is a blissfully unfamiliar habit, is a low-carbohydrate/ high protein diet. While unlimited eggs, bacon and steak sounds good in theory, without toast, chips and other starchy gloriousness it all gets rather tedious after a while. It does, however, produce results though if you do it and fall desperately ill, IT IS NOTHING TO DO WITH MOI.

**Worry not, the said millionaire’s shortbread is currently residing in my freezer so it can be just-baked fresh on the day.

The Very Sweet (and the Very Sticky)

This recipe makes tonnes (four boxes this size).

This recipe makes tonnes (four boxes this size).

Hen parties, diets, guest lists, menus, favours etc – all have been written about recently and I now find myself a teensy bit bored of the whole wedding shenanigans…

So, as Christmas is on its way, I decided to add in a recipe for Peanut Butter fudge. The fudge is super easy to make, but do cut it up into small pieces as it’s incredibly sweet and may make all of your fillings fall out. To appease your conscience, use Fairtrade sugar and organic ingredients…

Peanut Butter Fudge (gluten-free!)

Grease and line a baking tin with grease-proof paper and set aside. Melt the butter slowly in a thick-bottomed pan over a gentle heat, add the milk and sugar and continue to heat, stirring gently until all of the sugar has dissolved. (The mixture shouldn’t feel grainy at all.)

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and allow it to boil for three minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the peanut butter and mix together well. Sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl and pour over the sugar and peanut butter mix. Beat together until thoroughly combined and pour into the prepared tin. Chill in the fridge until cold and then cut into very small cubes.

(For extra decadence, freeze the cubes for an hour and then dip in melted dark chocolate – use cocktail sticks to make life easier – and leave to set.)

Seeking Something Special for the Big Day

And my wedding WILL be uniquely special!

Do you think there is a bride-to-be out there who doesn’t want her wedding to be individual?

I ask because as a budget bride, can the wish for individuality and a special wedding that people talk about for years to come, be a possibility? Many moons ago, being able to invite a lot of guests to your wedding probably made it stand out so this need for individuality and specialness seems a little bit late 20th century/early 21st century spoiled and egotistical.

Nonetheless, I do want special touches for my own wedding. All those years of feminist principles do not seem to be able to bear the might of the pink, frothy tide of foolishness that surrounds the bridal industry and sucks up every Mrs in waiting. Perhaps I read too many fairy stories as a child, but it seems I’m powerless to resist the wish to be a princess for the day!

So, I want to make my own cake, defy convention and make a speech myself and my mum will be walking me down the metaphorical aisle (necessity as my beloved pops died two years ago) – but is there anything else that’ll make my wedding that wee bittie unusual? Answers on a postcard please…

(I’m drawing the line at birds of prey delivering the rings – they’d poo on the guests, surely? And in all honesty, an unusual, outdoor venue is far too adventurous for a Scottish wedding, given the vagaries of our weather.)

Meanwhile, this is an excellent site for brides (OffBeat Bride – altar your thinking geddit??) who don’t favour the conventional approach, and there’s some nice ideas for wedding (eco) warriors through GreenUnion. Finally ehow, as always, throws up lots of ways for you to break with tradition and make the wedding your very own.

Finally, Avive and Colin are in the finals of their local radio station’s win a wedding competition. As a budget bride, I thoroughly approve! You can visit West Sound Radio and find out more… (And er, voting for them would be really kind.)