Misti’s Flower Diary: Of Peonies and Poppies

Misti's peonies from Freddie's Flowers

Back after a short break, Misti revels in the gloriousness of town and country. Starting with parties in London then to poppies in Buckinghamshire and an end note of peonies in London.


Hello! It’s been an unbelievably busy two months. So busy I went AWOL, but I


Raise your glasses

First off, I have to kvell. My husband, Henry, wrote a book that came out in
November called Empire of Booze. This spring it was nominated for best
debut drink book at The Fortnum & Mason Awards and last month it won!

Misti & Henry on the train
Misti & Henry en route to awards


As you can imagine, the party in Piccadilly was perfection. The waitstaff made
sure no one’s champagne went flat and everyone went home with iced rosé
lollies and goody bags. Mary Berry was there and I insisted Henry introduce
himself to her. You see when he was in high school, he worked in a cheese
shop she used to frequent and quite often it was he who served her. Mrs.
Berry was very polite and seemed pleased that a former Amersham boy took
home a prize that evening.

Henry collects his award

Happiness is…

After the celebration, we walked on down to Duke’s for cocktails. Alessandro,
our favourite barman, served up the smoothest martinis and French 75s you
could ever imagine. No wonder he’s the best around. Later walking back to
the train station through the rain was one of the best feelings ever. Then again
summer storms have always made me happy.


Kind of like poppies. Which are the state flower of California where I was
raised. Several years ago when we me moved into out flat, I sowed some red
poppy seeds in the flowerbox off the kitchen window. Nothing grew. Until now!
It seems the poppy seeds blew into the pavement cracks right outside our
building, just below my flowerbox, and have finally bloomed. It’s so bloomin’
wonderful I can hardly stand it. Nature’s wonderful.



Poppy spotting with Piglet & Pooh

Over half-term, we were in Buckinghamshire with my in-laws. It was a
momentous occasion the day my five year old walked to the pub with her
Grumpy for the first time ever. Through the fields and forest they went like
Piglet and Pooh. Helena looked at him as if he were a hero and pointed out all
the poppies along the way. Her efforts were rewarded with a bag of crisps and
a glass of juice at our Little Missenden local.

Poppy spotting


Then Henry and I set off without her for a couple of days. We holed up at our
favourite place in the Cotswolds while she continued to enjoy her holiday with
Nanny and Grumpy. The day of our departure, we stopped off in Oxfordshire
to see a friend and her daughter who had just collected honey from their
bees. What a sweet treat that was! They let us sample their honeys collected
at different times throughout the year. I was surprised by how much I could
taste the varied floral notes. Sweetest of all was the jar they gave us to take

The sweetest jar of honey

Freddie welcomes me home with fresh flowers

Back in London there was a Freddie’s box full of fresh flowers waiting on our
doorstep. This made the transition back to reality and city life all the easier.
Because no one can feel sorry for themselves when they have an
arrangement of pink peonies to cheer them. Go on. Try it. Look at a vase full
of Sarah Bernhardt blooms and try to be sad. It’s impossible, especially once
their sweet scent hits your nose.

Misti's peonies from Freddie's Flowers
Peony pick me up

Peony cake, anyone?

My daughter’s neighbourhood buddy turned four last weekend. Being the
most avid baker on our street, I volunteered to make her birthday cake. Her
request was a vanilla cake with strawberry frosting and gold fairy dust. The
topper I chose was one of Freddie’s perfect peonies. We had a unicorn
present it and she was thrilled. Almost as thrilled as I was to receive this
week’s fresh flowers. A top-up of even more peonies! Please Freddie, keep
them coming.

Peony cake



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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