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A Day With London Fashion Designer Charli Cohen and ... Her Instagram Famous Pomeranian Suki

A Day With London Fashion Designer Charli Cohen and Suki, Her Instagram Famous Pomeranian

London and Fashion. Two words that go together like ….er...London and Fashion.  I love fashion and its crazy scene, its colourful people and its ever changing landscape. I was raised by a mother who was a fashion model turned photographer, my father a fashion editor/writer and I started my early days as a model in Italy followed by short career as a wardrobe stylist in the film industry in Canada. I was surrounded, raised breathed and weaned in fashion's colourful flamboyant fabric.

So when a opportunity came up to bid on a “Day With A London Fashion Designer” for UNICEF, well it was in my mind sold before the auction had even finished.  I wanted this.  I thought this would be a fun experience. You know, get a few insider tips, a brief fashion update…and a little bit of a fresh perspective on the world of London fashion as told from the inside. What I didn't expect was to be impressed with this new generation of the conscientious designer, and how through this ethically moral compass fashion and its people are being redefined.

Fear. When Are You Suppose To Push Through It OR Heed Its Very Real Warning? 

FEAR. That is what I feel every time I ride that first chair lift of a ski trip.

I only learned to ski in my forties so never possessed that fearless, “throw yourself down the hill” childlike freestyle.  Skiing was outside my comfort zone and it did not come naturally due my total lack of any inherited athletic ability (or so I tell myself).  

Pushing through my fear I learned to ski. It allowed me to experience some incredible parts of the world I would have otherwise missed. All the while creating and redefining my own personal bests. I felt highs that can only come from overcoming fear and emerging out the other side victorious. But fear is multi-purposed.  Push through OR beware? As I get older those lines are getting blurred, not nearly as obvious as they used to be. Fear is there to stop you from doing stupid dumbass shit, right? 

So How Do You Know What Fear Is Trying To Tell You?

Dating For Friends. Making New Friends In A New City.

Girlfriends are your life source. 

They have gotten you through messy breakups, given you honest fashion advise (sometimes even unsolicited) been there to let you vent..and vent...and vent, hold your hair back when the Tequila shots are making their way back up, got you home safely, cried when you cried and made you laughed when all you wanted to do is curl up with your other best friends Ben & Jerry and drown your sorrows in a tub of Chuncky Monkey.  Girlfriends are your life source.. you could show up at their door at 3:00 in the morning with a dead body and they say nothing as they go and grab their shovel.

So now here you are, in a new city and a zillion miles from anyone you knows you shouldn't drink tequila. So you my friend need to get out there and find yourself some new local girlfriends...start dating for friends. 

My First Christmas After Losing My Parents. Trying To Find The Season's Joy Again

Of course like most things in life I do expect that a little rain must fall but no one warned me I would have benefited greatly from building an ark. I lost both my parents in 2017.  My dad on the 2nd day in January and my mother in May on my birthday. They had been married 56 years, 4 months, 26 days. As with any loss the "firsts' of birthdays, holidays or special occasions are particular hard but when it comes to Christmas... well that was my mother's favourite time of the year and her absence is resoundingly deafening. 

So how do you do it? How do you find the joy in the holiday season after losing someone you have loved so very much?

LIKELY THE BEST COOKIES YOU'LL EVER EAT. EVER!

Christina's Most Famous Almond Cookies

I LOVE to cook and bake. In fact, I think I am one serious chocolate ganache away from joining The Great British Bake Off. Of all the things I have baked over the years there is one that stands out as the most requested recipe EVER, my Almond Cookies. Without a word of an exaggeration everyone who has one of these bite size pieces of heaven tells me it is the "BEST COOKIE THEY HAVE EVER HAD". Their words, not mine, but I do tend to agree. These were my mom's favourite too so you should have seen my suitcase last Christmas as I baked these in London, wrapped them and flew them to Toronto. Thank God I avoided any sniffer dogs at the airport or 8 dozen lovingly baked cookies could have been snatched away at customs. So I thought the time has come to officially share the "almond joy" of the cookie/biscuit world... drum roll please....

Christina's Almond Cookies - Likely The Best Cookie You'll Ever Eat

Ingredients For Almond Cookies.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs (910 grams) butter room temperature. Cubed

6 Cups All Purpose Flour (750 grams)

1 1/2 Cup Granulated (Castor) Sugar  (340 grams)

1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (10ml)

1 1/2 teaspoons Almond Extract (10ml)

1 1/3 lbs of Crushed Unsalted Almonds (605 grams)

1 lb Fruit Sugar (450 grams). You will likely have sugar left over. You can also substitute with Vanilla Sugar or Icing Sugar but this recipe works best with Fruit Sugar

READY, SET, BAKE

Grinding Almonds.

1. Crush your almonds in a food processor until chopped well. 

Cubed Butter.

2. With your mixmaster and paddle attachment cream together on medium speed butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and almond extract. Beat well. On low speed add 5 cups of flour and crushed almonds. Alternating one cup at a time between the flour and the almonds. Mix well stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You have now just made my favourite raw cookie dough. Taste it. It is fabulous. I love it as much raw as baked. 

Almond Cookie Dough

Dough will be soft, sticky and delicious. 

Almond Cookie Dough on Cutting Board.

3. Working with small batches of your dough on a floured surface knead some of the remaining flour into the dough. Just enough for the dough not to be sticky and roll out into long "snakes".  Don't add too much flour. Cut into equal lengths and bend into a crescent shape. 

Rolling Out The Almond Cookies.

The diameter of the roll and the length of the cut will be up to you. Just make them all uniform so they will bake evenly. 

4. Place on greased and floured cookie sheet several inches apart. You can also use non-stick silicon sheets instead of greasing the cookie sheets. Bake at 325°F (165°C) for 20 to 27 minutes depending on size until golden. 

Almond Cookies On A Baking Sheet.

5. Remove from oven. Wait about five minutes or until slightly cooled before using a spatula and moving them onto a cooling rack. They are very delicate when hot. 

Almond Cookies Cooling on rack

6. Once completely cooled roll in fruit sugar. Fruit sugar, also known as fructose is finer and sweeter than granulated sugar and as the cookies themselves are not too sweet the fruit sugar really works well. It is sometimes harder to find depending where you live. Some better grocery stores carry it. You can also find it at some health food stores or there is always Amazon.com. where you can find... just about anything. 

Dusting Almond Cookie in Fruit Sugar

ALL READY FOR TEA

This recipe yields a lot of cookies, so two things. You can half the recipe and not compromise the cookies by doing so. Also know that these cookies freeze very well and can be kept for months in the freezer after baked...that is if no one knows where they are hiding. 

Almond Cookies Ready For Tea

Over the years many a school teacher, family member or friend have received these cookies in various ways. Inside colourful hand painted boxes to holiday cookie tins. But I think my favourite way to gift them is in a mason jar. It travels well (not in a plane way too heavy), protects the cookies which are delicate and it looks special. Tied with some ribbon and a handwritten tag and they will deem you the next Martha Stewart or for you Brit's a much, much younger Mary Berry. 

Almond Cookies Ready for Christmas Giving

Warning: Can be Addictive. Please Enjoy Responsibly

If you have any incredible cookie recipes you would like to share please send them along to me. I love to bake, love to eat and love finding new ways to do both together. I guess I might need to reboot my gym membership too now that I'm baking. Worth it!

Merry Christina... I mean Christmas. Ho Ho Ho

MAKING THE MOST OF THE SHORT WINTER DAYS...GET OUTSIDE!!!

SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS, EAST SUSSEX ROAD TRIP

If you are anything like me the lack of sunlight as you approach the dead of winter is so unbelievably depressing. Living in London it actually starts getting dark at 3:30 in November AND we haven't even got through the worst of it. So what is that saying, make hay when the sun shines?  So in order to survive the long, dark winters you have to make the most of the short sunny days and a road trip is exactly the way to do it. 

6 THINGS I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW STARTED IN LONDON, THAT I DON'T WANT TO LIVE WITHOUT TODAY

London has always been an exciting, creative city. Its history, art, culture and subculture has shaped the world scene today and I am not just taking about The Beatles or that Grandad Boy-Band, The Rolling Stones. I was very interested in learning that some of my favourite things (insert Julie andrews singing here) were born out of London.

RAGE AGAINST THE LATRINE. ASIA TOILETS - HOLY CRAP!!!!

A-BROAD OBSERVATION - TOILETS OF ASIA

I have always consider myself a student of the world, you know... open to celebrate the vast colourful differences between one world, culture and traditions and my own. I have been fortunate enough to travel different parts of the globe and I willingly drink in those cultural differences between countries, ....until now.

PLAYING IN THE MUD. LOOKING FOR BURIED TREASURE ON THE BANK OF THE THAMES

You think you have learned all there is to know about London history?  Been to every museum,  taken every tour, listened to every audio guide about the Tudors "this" and the Stuarts "that". Well until you start digging in the London mud, turning over a few rocks your education on London is totally incomplete

A WEEKEND IN NEW FOREST Where Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away

Ever bored with London? Ok, that is a trick question. But sometimes you need a get away. Turn down the volume, unplug, breathe fresh air and exhale. New Forest is just the wonderful escape to do just that. Just a two hour drive south of the hustle and bustle of London where the only traffic you are likely to hit are a herd of wild horses taking their own sweet time crossing the street.  

The Notting Hill Carnival

An estimated 2 million people descended for two days for The Notting Hill Carnival, one of the largest Caribbean festivals in Europe.  With thousands of dancers, performers and some of the biggest and (loudest) sound systems you can carry on the back of a truck, I had to go and let my inner "island girl" out.

REMEMBERING PRINCESS DIANA- 20 YEARS LATER THE WORLD STILL MOURNS

I know if you are old enough you will remember exactly where you were when you heard the news that Princess Diana was dead. AUGUST 31, 1997.  I can hardly believe that it has been 20 years. I remember setting my alarm to watch the fairytale wedding of Princess Diana to Prince Charles like 750 million others and sadly setting that same alarm 16 years later to watch her funeral. 

My Crazy Obsession With Chalk Paint... OR...How I Spent My Summer Vacation.

For those who know me even a little you would know my obsession with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint has gotten waaaay out of hand. In fact there are family members who have suggested that they are concerned for me and my mental well being when I run out of things to paint. Well luckily that day is not here yet. So I thought I would share my obsession and take you through step by step my latest Annie Sloan Chalk Paint project as I repurpose someone else's junk, two old side tables into my personal treasure...all while not spilling a drop of rosé.

LONDON'S DEVASTATING FIRE. Why was I so compelled to visit Grefell's charred aftermath? Because... LIKE A MOTH TO THE FLAME I had no choice

It is believed to be started by a faulty appliance. The fire broke out in Grenfell Tower, an apartment building in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea not far from where I live.  Grenfell is located in a pocket of social deprivation within one of the wealthiest areas of Britain. London's wealthiest borough yet its poorest neighbourhood. 

FEARFUL IN LONDON ? Strangely, Not Like You Might Think

By now everyone has seen and heard about the terrorist attack at London Bridge and Borough Market. Currently leaving seven dead and 48 seriously injured. As a Canadian living in London thankfully I have never experienced this kind of anger, panic and terror these extremist groups are invoking on others. However this Canadian girl has now found myself in the middle of city that is a prime target for attacks. Am I fearful….?  Not yet. Am I keenly aware of my surroundings as a potential target….?  You bet I am.

HOW TO SPEAK BRITISH. BLIMEY... WHAT ARE THEY SAYING???

HOW TO SPEAK BRITISH. BLIMEY... WHAT ARE THEY SAYING???

It was my birthday.  May 15th. The day I came into the world...and it was the same day my mother left it. My mom had been diagnosed 3 1/2 years ago with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She cheated cancer once before, ovarian. I was 10. No reason to believe that she couldn't do that again. Or at least I thought.

Crazy REAL British Laws You Are Likely Breaking Everyday.

So currently I am back in Toronto to spend some time with my mother and family. It is spring, it is April and the weather REALLY, REALLY SUCKS. Barely a crocus in sight.  Currently in London however the weather and foliage looks exactly like this!