‘I’ve found a brilliant new use for Freddie’s Flowers boxes!’

In this month’s Diary Misti discovers a novel use for Freddie’s boxes, makes a frighteningly hot chilli and wisely avoids politics…

So what’s it really like being a Freddie’s Flowers customer? In this month’s Diary Misti discovers a novel use for Freddie’s boxes, makes a frighteningly hot chilli and wisely avoids politics…

The first bake sale of the school year took place before Halloween. I made chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with Swiss meringue ghosts on top, as per my daughter’s request. Sometimes I do as I’m told.

After baking and decorating them all, it dawned on me. I didn’t have a cupcake carrier. I scanned the kitchen looking for something with which to improvise. A baking tray? A casserole? My husband’s wine boxes? No.

But boxes, yes! It turns out a Freddie’s Flowers box – before you leave it out for collecting – is just perfect for transporting little cakes.


I’m not going to lie; these cupcakes were a hit. Except with my own child. When it came time for her to choose what she wanted, not only did she refuse one of the ghost cakes she asked me to make, but she chose something prepackaged and covered in sparkly pink frosting.

I was so embarrassed. Though at age four I would have selected the same. Shiny things have forever held a special place in my heart. Perhaps that is why I love bonfire night so much…


Each year on the 5th of November, I make a chilli con carne. This year I made it with rioja as well as my homemade chipotle and ancho chile sauce. For this reason I called it El Toro de Fuego (‘The Fire Bull’!). We shared it with our neighbours before making our way to the heath with flasks full of whisky and pockets full of sweets. There, huddled like penguins, we watched inky skies explode with gold glitter.



The following night proved just as sparkly as we celebrated my husband’s new book, Empire of Booze, with a launch party at Russell Norman’s Ape & Bird. The highlight, for me, was my father-in-law chatting with Alexei Sayle, not knowing who he was.

I’ll admit I was a bit peeved about the champagne running out before I arrived, but I suppose that only speaks to the success of the party. Of course I didn’t mind quite so much once someone handed me a generous tumbler of sherry.


The next day I arose to the ‘roar of the butterflies’ but also a delivery of red roses, carnations, and rosehips from Freddie’s. Which was nice as my husband was off to Lebanon for yet another luxury work trip. I know. Woe is the life of the wine writer.


My husband sent me a text when he arrived in Lebanon but I was worried about him travelling to Bekaa Valley. I kept sending him messages to please let me know when he was safely back in Beirut.

My mind was put at ease when I finally saw a video of him and a group of fellow journalists holding cocktails at a swanky bar.



Back in the States or what I like to call The Old Country, nobody could focus on anything but the election. Hell, even at a distance neither could I. Several weeks back I had the wisdom to pre-book a massage for the day of the result.

Let me just say I intend to schedule one for every major election here on out.




On Saturday I took Helena to see Father Christmas in Leicester Square as she wanted early confirmation about her place on The Nice List. Afterwards we had lunch at the Portrait Restaurant then made our way to room 43 of the National Gallery. Helena’s favourite painting is in that room, Van Gogh’s Two Crabs. Which is rather what we were after walking about for five hours in the rain.

At home we curled up with hot chocolate and Peter Pan: “You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

And that’s exactly where Henry found us when he returned home that night with hugs and boxes of baklava.



at Coworth Park

Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009.  After her daughter was born, she began a blog called Chagrinnamon Toast that won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She was also named runner-up for the Shiva Naipaul Prize. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.


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