Wednesday, September 29, 2010

J. W. Anderson SS11

So I haven't really jumped on the SS11 bandwagon yet. I'm barely coming to terms with AW10. I'm still (technically) on my SS10 summer holiday. Ah, fashion moves so fast... These images of J. W. Anderson's SS11 collection felt immediately relevant though. Yes, there is probably a 'spring freshness' - whatever that might be - to the colours/colour combinations but I still want to wear it all right now. Transitional, universal, whatever you choose to call it. Maybe I'd add tights and a nice warm coat to make it weather appropriate. Otherwise bring on the giant doilies, pleated skirts and cable-knits. I will find a way to integrate peach, pistachio and white into my winter wardrobe! I particularly love the last image; elbow-length knits over full length mesh sleaves here I come.

Eight pieces from this collection are available now exclusively at Liberty here. I would like this beautiful skirt please. I really fancy a pleated skirt now you come to mention it, thanks Mr. Anderson! EDIT - I saw this skirt in Liberty yesterday, it is beautiful! It is acid/faded, dip-dyed Tanya Lawn fabric and the bit at the top that looks like a belt is the inversion of the pleats. LOVE it.


Chuck x

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beautiful Beautiful Boots - New Kid

Hello Boots. Hello Boots of my Dreams. Hello Boots so lovely you deserve a capital letter. We're talking proper noun Boots here. They are from New Kid (can't find a website) and are made in Tuscany by Rachel Beagley. Well, probably not all of them but hey... Anyway, they are stocked at Gargyle, Urban Outfitters and Bespoke Boutique. And I think (over tinternet) that they look much more expensive than $170/£120. Look at the tan pebbled leather. Look at the gold panelling. Look at the wonderful gold triangular studs! I love you perfect western style chelsea Tonk Boots...
These are pretty fab too. I don't love them with the passion of a thousand suns like I do the Tonk Boots but they're still lush. Great boots. Only boots though.
(Pictures from Gargyle)

Chuck x

Monday, September 27, 2010

B's Gangsta Tattoos

Q: How much do I love Beyoncé? A: A lot. A lot, a lot. (Anyone getting The Parent Trap reference? Yeah...). Q: How much do I want her new temporary tattoos? A: Also a lot! Got quite excited when I saw them on Refinery29 here. Apparently they will be available from Sephora, among other obscurer US websites, from November 1st from $16. That is considerably cheaper than the Chanel faux tats. They are also considerably more bad ass and, as I'm sure you know by now, I am pretty bad ass! These would look amazing on me...

(Picutres from R29)

Chuck x

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mixed Macaroons

I'm back. Again. For good this time. University is on the horizon and the holidays are officially almost over. *Sob*. After arriving home on Friday night (walk + bus + train + bus + plane + bus + tube + train + car = long day) and collapsing into bed, I arose yesterday and baked! We had a large dinner party for my Pere's birthday and I assigned myself 'Treats'. There was Chocolate, Walnut and Hazelnut Cake (Nigel Slater, Appetite) which I burnt - oops, teach me to over-multitask. There was Custard Ice Cream (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The River Cottage Family Cookbook, great book) because I had to do something with all the egg yolks from.... the macaroons!

Like pretty much everyone I enjoy a macaroon. I don't adore them, they are not my most favouritest baked good but I am very fond of them indeed. And they are luxurious. They are, to me, one of the definitions of 'treats'. This is possibly because they are a lot of work. But they were a gift and they were delicious. I made the Ottolenghi Chocolate Macaroons (sans rum) and their Lime & Basil Macaroons and then I made up my own Raspberry Macaroons. And I got a bit power happy with the old capital letters...



Lime & Basil


Chocolate Macaroons:
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 12g cocoa powder
  • 2 free-range egg whites (60g)
  • 40g caster sugar
Chocolate Ganache Filling:
  • 65g dark chocolate
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 50ml double cream
  • I put some vanilla essence in the chocolate mix to stop it curdling/graining up.
Raspberry Macaroons:
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 40g caster sugar
  • Red food colouring
Raspberry buttercream filling:
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 45g icing sugar
  • 1 tbspn raspberry jam
Lime & Basil Macaroons:
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 5 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Lime & Basil Buttercream Filling:
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 45g icing sugar
  • juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • 5 large basil leaves, finely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 170oC. Draw £2 coin sized discs all over lots and lots of baking paper, making sure they are well enough spaced.
  2. Sift the icing sugar and almonds together. [For the chocolate macaroons add the cocoa now.]
  3. Whizz the egg whites and caster sugar together in a separate bowl. I whisked until they were thick and glossy, possibly I slightly underwhisked them since they weren't full 'stiff peaks'/turn-upside-down-able but that worked for me.
  4. Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the dry ingredients. Fold in the next 1/3. Fold in the final 1/3 and continue folding until the mixture is smooth and glossy. [Fold in the lime zest and chopped basil or the red food colouring for the lime & basil macs or raspberry macs respectively.]
  5. Drip the mixture onto the discs on the baking paper. I used a teaspoon and made a lot of mess. It is quite fiddly getting the mixture pseudo-circular and within the lines. Practice and practice - like colouring within the lines!
  6. Bang the tray vigorously to spread the foot. Leave uncovered to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes.
  8. Leave to cool and then generously add filling. Sandwich together and then EAT. At last.
Chocolate Ganache:
  1. Melt chocolate and butter over hot water.
  2. Heat the cream and then stir gently into the chocolate.
Raspberry Buttercream:
  1. Whizz the butter and icing sugar together until they go pale and fluffy.
  2. Fold in the raspberry jam to taste.
Lime & Basil Buttercream:
  1. Whizz the butter and icing sugar together until they go pale and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the lime juice.
  3. Stir in the lime zest and chopped basil.
Gosh what a lot of typing! Imagine how long I spent in the kitchen... It was worth it though, there was much parental praise. I felt gloriously like a child who had successfully slept the night through without wetting the bed or some other important achievement. Happy Birthday Pop.

Chuck x

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes

Because I can. Because it is amazing.

Chuck x

Achievable Craft

I saw these paper heart garlands on one of Martha Stewart's many blogs. There is no doubt that the woman is a bit mental/overambitious but these seems like something I could manage. What a sweet thing to send a friend in a new flat, city, country. Or to just make for your own bedroom... 

(Martha Stewart's The Craft's Dept.)

Chuck x


I've found it! I've found the way I want to incorporate shearling into my life. I can't afford the level of aviator jacket I fancy, I'm leaving aviator caps to the more dedicated, the shearling mittens here are just too frivolous but these Dr. Martens are perfect! I saw them ages ago and then forgot about them and then I saw them again in The Telegraph seasonal fashion magazine and my interest was resurrected. Shoddy journalism though, they said they were 'shearling boots, £85 from John Lewis'. Nothing about that statement is true. Technically they are not shearling because the lining is faux. Neither are they £85, they retail at £95. John Lewis doesn't stock Doc Martens... But they are available from the DM website and they look fab. Practical, warm and snuggly - hello shoe perfection. I truly hate having cold/wet feet and these look like the perfect antidote (well, second only to the £200 actual shearling versions but those tragically ain't going to happen). I would wear them with the tongues turned down...


They will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine. Somehow.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Best. Oatmeal & Raisin. Cookies. Ever.

I had some free time this afternoon so I baked. And it was gooooood. I've been craving oatmeal & raisin cookies for ages and I found the most amazing recipe on Smitten Kitten, a fab blog that was new to me. Oats, raisins and walnuts. Drool. The walnuts really make it.

It took an act of supreme will power to make the cookies at all - the cookie mix was irresistable.

Some freshly chopped walnuts... Can't wait until the walnut trees in our garden start releasing this year's crop - know your food's providence!

Ingredients (I translated the quantities very roughly from cups to ounces - not an exact science as far as I'm concerned)
  • 4oz butter (salted as ever)
  • 4 1/2 oz brown sugar - I mixed mine up, mostly chunky, granulated brown with some dark muscavado and some golden caster, for flavour variety.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla essence
  • 3oz plain flour
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 6oz oats - I used Waitrose 4 oat porridge mix with all sorts of goodies in because that was what we had in the larder.
  • 3 1/2 oz raisins
  • 2 1/2 oz chopped walnuts
  1. Heat the oven to 180oC.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together.
  3. In a new bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.
  4. Stir the dry mix into the wet mix.
  5. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts. This will destroy your upper arm muscles/give you one buff arm...
  6. Mould into rough balls and smush flat-ish onto a lined baking tray. I placed my cookie balls 1.5-2 inches apart and (rare for me) they remained individual cookies and didn't morph into one super cookie!
  7. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Mine took 12 mins because they were quite big.
  8. Leave to cool/cool enough not to burn your fingers. Eat with a large glass of milk. Bliss.

Chuck x

Chenille Polkadots

Let me introduce you to my amazing new jumpy. Amazing new jumpy, interwebz. Interwebz, amazing new jumpy. As you might have guessed from the title it has CHENILLE POLKADOTS! Chenille! Fo' real! I am quite a lot in love with it. I have hardly bought any clothes this summer because le broke but when I saw this baby hiding at the bottom of a shelf in H&M I just couldn't resist. This quicky photo doesn't really do the colour justice, I would say that in real life it is somewhere between a camelly-beige and a very soft blush. And it is all lovely and warm. The only reason I was in H&M at the time was because I was freezing and on my way to the wedding and wanted to buy a scarf but all the scarves were urgley and this was glorious as well as snuggly. And it looked amazing (in a comedy sort of way) with my beautiful silk-chiffon dress and wellies. And the polkadots are so soft... Seriously, chenille is amaze! Why did we ever stop wearing it?? When I was wee I had a violently purple, chenille poloneck that had been given to me by my babysitter that I adored with an unholy passion and that made my parents' eyes bleed. Maybe that is why, thinking about it. My jumper contains angelic chenille though, not evil chenille. Je t'adore. It is my (slightly less dressy) version of DisneyRollerGirl's 'evening jumper'. It is love.

I will try and get round to putting up a photo of me actually wearing at some point. It is even better on - it hangs rather nicely. Can't do it now because a) I am busy wallowing in my pjs but more importantly b) my camera is too crap to take even vaguely usable timer/tripod shots.

Btw, as I am going away again on Friday and I have been a bad blogger recently, I am going to try and fit a week's worth of posts into today and tomorrow - funsies!

Chuck x

Electric Cupcake Maker

Yes, you read that right. Lakeland has bought out an electric cupcake maker. It is amazingly mad. From the outside it looks like an innocent toastie maker but no, inside are six cupcake slots! For when turning on the oven is just too complicated... It is brilliant because when you have prepared yourself a batch of cake mix and potentially some icing (and what looks in the picture like some homemade sugar art floral decorations) the really difficult bit is turning on the old oven!


Words cannot describe my joy at this truly useless bit of kitchenware. I adore Lakeland, their catalogue always brings me great pleasure, and I really think they have come up trumps this time. A whole delightful new level of strange and obscure. Bravo!
Chuck x

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mish Mash

Friends, fellows, countrymen (sorry Shakes for the bastardisation), life is vair busy! Nay, manic. Apologies for the unscheduled gap in posting, things got a bit out of control. Friday saw me in Norfolk for a wedding that lasted 48 hours. Seriously! Quite tiring. On the plus-side I did get to wear a very pretty dress with wellies which is pretty much the best look ever. I also got to actually spend time with R. Swings and roundabouts.

I also had the joy of getting a year's worth of clothing, homeware, kitchenware, books, work and shoes half way across the country without parents or a car. Cue Roy, white van man par excellence (whose van was actually red - shocker). Many boxes, much duck-tape, a closed estate agent, a lack of keys, a 4am departure by Roy, an amazing favour from my friend Beth, a sofa up and down three sets of stairs and much sweat later I am (mostly) moved in to my new student house. And the only casualties were the two suitcases I left on the train when I arrived home late last night an exhausted mess! Luckily my new house is vair nice! Well, vair nice for a student house and considerably nicer than the house I was living in last year at a lower rate. And the additional 20min walk uphill into university is bound to do wonders for my thighs...

I have a fire place and a candelabra and some gorgeous prints. I am very excited about the decorative possibilities. I will probably post some photos once I have moved in properly and I have started/finished some of my projects. In the meantime please enjoy this gorgeous photo from somewhere in my computer ('ooohh... it is in the computer'). Natalia as Dovima, don't know where it came from but it's fab. One day I'm going to get round to buying the Richard Avedon print of Dovima and the elephants that I glued onto my diary when I was 15. Until then this is a lovely recompense and sooo bang-on-trend. Get me.

(Source - don't know, sorry)
Chuck x

P.S. Despite my absolute lack of time I have managed to catch up with The Great British Bake Off, all of which is still up on iplayer. When I get some free time I hope to try the following:
Can't wait for the final next week!

P.P.S. Thanks to the lovely Saskia for her sweet words here. Read her blog, that's an order.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

If I Were A Boy

So many excellent Beyoncé songs, so little time... Not that I generally go for the ballads (less boogie potential, obv) but it was an apt title. 'If I were a boy' I would wear this Topman jumper. It is grey marl, hurrah! It has a hand-drawn illustration, hurrah! It is a BEAR, hurrah! Want it, want it, want it. Unfortunately it cannot be mine though because I am not a boy and the neckline will do bizarre things to my breasts. Boo.


Chuck x

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Magnificient Seven

I have been tagged by IsabelleOC (le chuffed!) to reveal 7 marvellous and strange things that you, the interwebz, don't know about me. So here goes...
1) When I grow up I want to be Doris Day's Calamity Jane. I love Calam with an unswerving loyalty.

2) I like to sing guitar riffs. Badly.
3) I am physically incapable of only eating one squashed fly (biscuit, obv) - I have to eat the entire packet.
4) Hard-boiled eggs give me the willies.
5) I can whistle in 4 ways. Count them, bitch! Once I have nailed proper wolf-whistling that will make it 5. Mostly when I try I just spit all over my hands though...
6) In my head I can dance like a ninja. This inspires my questionable taste in bad bad dance films:

7) When asked at five what I wanted to be when I grew up I said 'an author, an artist and a potter'. Ambitious much? One of those still rings true.
Ahh... There are so many more random/funny/boring/narcissistic things I could share about myself but instead I am going to leave you on tenterhooks and save them for another day. In my turn the seven blogs whose seven secrets I would like to hear are *drumroll* Not Just Medical, Saturday Jane, Caitlin Shearer, Searching for Style, The Style Crusader, Park & Cube and The Clothes Horse.
I feel cleansed.
Chuck x
P.S. Feels weird putting in a 'me' tag

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Warm (not) Woollen Mittens

September is upon us and although I am longing for a miraculous Indian summer (c'mon...) it seems likely that autumn is on its way. These mittens from ASOS almost almost have me embracing the idea of icy winter breezes. If I had a 'frivolous accessories' fund this is how I would be buying into the shearling trend. As it is they are £36 and I can't justify that by any stretch of the imagination but they look beautifully snuggly nonetheless. Love a nice pair of mittens...

Chuck x

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nightingale Wood - Stella Gibbons

Καλωσόρισες! See what I did there? I said 'hello' in Greek because I just got back from Greece. Clever, right? Not that I know Greek or anything but the internet is a wonderous place... I have just had the good fortune to spend a luxurious week on the Greek island of Zakynthos lolling between the glorious Mediterranean sea and a sun lounger like a little, round grey seal. The simile is a worryingly apt one even though I am looking surprisingly tanned for an English rose at the mo. Ten youfs shared a villa, threw themselves gracelessly off a pontoon (or maybe that was just me... So I am not athletic, so what?), drank questionable amounts of questionable ouzo, gossiped and read lightweight beach lit. Not exactly a stressful situation but I decided nonetheless that it was the perfect time to start working my way through India Knight's list of comfort reads that I wrote about here. My key choice for the holiday was Stella Gibbon's Nightingale Wood:

(Available from Amazon here)

Now, there is no getting around this, the cover is awful. Painfully twee. The gender stereotyping as I sat next to Ed (reading a black and gold Tom Clancy novel about assassination and KGB agents) was embarassing. However, I powered through this because I adore Cold Comfort Farm. A favourite book and an expecially favourite film - one of those rare brilliant adaptations, en mon avis. Rufus just smoulders so beautifully... *minor Rufus Sewell revery*. So more of the same Cold Comfort goodness was basically what I was hoping for. Unfortunately not so. None of the characters were sufficiently likeable. Viola is probably the closest thing to the main protagonist in the story but she drifts in and out of the plot and is dim and wet for all she is sweet and virtuous. I don't do wet heroines! Neither of the male leads are particularly attractive prospects either; Victor is stolidly handsome but boring and misogynistic and Saxon is 'wolflike' but self-serving and obsessed with money. Hetty's cynical intelligence is often overbourne by her intellectual snobbishness and her unforgiving nature, Tina's valiant attempts at self-understanding seem to be undermined by her plotline...

As in Cold Comfort Farm Gibbons does a fine line in minor characters. Mr. Wither's aging paranoia and suffocating mediocrity are great. Madge is pitch perfect as the big-boned, middle-aged woman who prefers the company of dogs to the messy beastliness of people. My favourite was probably the evil Phyllis Barlow as (slightly masochistic) Queen Bitch. These miniature gems, along with the charming period setting and details, make the book a pleasant read. That is about it though. I wouldn't spurn or violently condemn Nightingale Wood but I can't imagine a situation where I would actively recommend it either.

It is sweet enough. Damned with faint praise! Maybe it was just outshone by the Greacian sun... Anyway, that is one more to cross off my ultimate comfort reading list.

Chuck x