Friday, December 31, 2010

A Cold January?

Bezzy Beth just sent me the BEST link. It was to MusucBag, purveyors of body shaped sleeping bags! Yes, the name is a bit questionable and strange things came up when I accidentally typed Mucus Bags into Google but the idea is genius. They are marketing them as the answer to all your music festival chills but clearly they should be selling them to people living in freezing student houses/icy icy death traps (or maybe that is just my student house...). The boyf has taken to working in his sleeping bag but you can only pull it up to your armpits since inevitably you need your hands free and the stairs do become a real danger. Here is the solution! Combining full coverage and full mobility these little pieces of heaven will keep you warm to -13oC (which sounds about right for our house where I had a centimetre of ice on the inside of my window for a while)!



And, as well as being warm, you'll look pretty darn stylish...

I know, the excitement.

Chuck x

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sharing Sales Pt. II

I am still feeling like too much of a food/TV lump to produce coherent prose. Bad luck to y'all. So instead here are some more sales items I have been lovingly admiring. This time c/o ASOS...



How great is this whole look?? I really like Holly Fulton (check her out on Show Me Your Wardrobe - so sweet and stylish) and I think the shirt is particularly wonderful, even if my breasts hardly need arrows pointing at them!



A bargainous way to get some Ms. Fulton into your life. I find I don't wear leggings as often as I used to though...



Fell in love with this after seeing it on Louise Gray on Lulu Kennedy's blog. Great pose too.


(Surface to Air chinos - £145, now £65)

Hardly ground-breaking but pretty and practical and the cut looks pretty good. Could see myself getting a lot of wear out of these. And £80 off...


(Zoe & Morgan Love Bite ring - £85, now £51)

I really like Zoe & Morgan, they make pretty, quirky, interesting jewellery. For my (mid-summer) birthday one of my aunts gave me an IOU on 'something that you will keep for ever'. This has proved harder to find than expected since pretty much everything fashion, fiction or food related (my favouritest things) is too temporal. Jewellery is the obvious choice but I hadn't seen anything that I liked enough to blow the IOU on. Zoe & Morgan might change my mind though...

Does anyone have any ideas on 'things that you will keep for ever'? I quite fancy some champagne saucers but I know I will break them. I'd really like some nice cutlery too but it seems a bit prosaic. What are the options beside jewellery?

Chuck x

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sharing Sales

I have made a couple of online sales purchases (I'm nowhere near brave enough to face the real thing) but I just cannot justify buying another pair of shoes. I must comfort myself with my new brogues and the Ferragamo wedges I scored on ebay this term. It's not like I'm hard done by! But I have seen some smart shoes with great reductions in the last couple of days and I had to share. I am spreading the sales love for those who can indulge...


(Underground creepers at Office£75, now £45)

I'd love some Underground creepers but unfortunately now is not the time. I might have also received a sizeable leopard print item for Christmas and the combo might be a bit much...


(Grey patent loafers at Office - £62, now £40)

I have had my eye on these for ages. I admired and seriously considered buying them full price. Grey and patent? Two of the best adjectives ever.


(Wedge ankle boots at River Isand - £84.99, now £40)

These remind me of the Emma Cook for Topshop boots which I have eternally regretted not buying.
 

(Suede block heels at River Island - £59.99, now £25)

Pleasingly chunky and stable looking. Would work well with thick tights or summer legs.

You are all noble shoes. What a pity I do not have room in my life for you. I hope that you find good homes.

I could easily post many many more lovely things I have found in the sales. Would you be interested?

Chuck x

Monday, December 27, 2010

The One Where I Shopped My Closet

I know, the expression 'shop your closet' makes me throw up in my mouth a bit too but I actually did it! I may or may not do a 'things I got for Christmas' post a little bit later (probably not actually but I'm sure things will feature) but in the mean time I give you this amazing cardigan...


Knitted by my granny and found in my cupboard! I am so pleased with this. It was created for me when I was about nine and was considerably too big. Sure, the torso was large but mostly I remember being blown away by the arm length. The arms came to my knees, my hands reached the elbows. I put it away assuming that it would never ever fit me but unable to donate a piece of couture. And then I forgot about it.

To be fair, this isn't my standard cupboard. This is more of a hole in my wall where I put things I don't wear but don't want to throw away. I look in it curiously maybe once a year and then forget about it. [One of the main things we are learning from this story is that I clearly don't have a very good memory.] Recently while browsing very expensive bobble knit jumpers on ASOS/Topshop it occurred to me that I might not need to buy one. I might have a genuine, homemade alternative... And I did! Check out the bobbles on this...


And I have finally grown in to it! I always assumed that my arms would never be long enough but I underestimated my grannny. She has smarts - my hands are exactly where they should be. I'm loving the navy, the buttons, the knit patterns. What a wonderful free find. Thanks, 'closet'.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

Chuck x

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Emma Sells - Style Inspiration

I might have accidentally spent this afternoon hitting the January sales online and browsing What Elle Wears. Oops. I'm sure that wasn't in my original day plan... For those not in the know, ElleUK.com chronicles what their staff wear every Monday, from editors to interns. I know! Irresistible - the voyeurism of it all!

Wandering back through the WEW archives I might have developed a wee bit of a style crush on ElleUK.com's Fashion Editor, Emma Sells... As well as writing a lot of the fashion and news articles on the website she also writes The Shopping Forecast blog (see what they did there?). I love her slightly androgynous style. She has some really great trousers and she mixes them with unexpected textures and 'statement' necklaces. Off on a tangent, I don't like the 'statement' tag, it bugs me. Don't know why. And I LOVE her hair - it is gorgeous! I am a classic straight-haired gal who has always wanted curls and this is why.

This first outfit might be my favourite, the skirt is just so perfect. And it is H&M! [That said, I love pretty much all of her outfits so don't make me choose.]








(All photos from WEW)

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Chuck x

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Macaron Christmas

Well, fine, be like that! I had been planning on making this a multi-post of small bits and pieces but Blogger wasn't cooperating. Pictures wouldn't load, pictures wouldn't load, waiting, waiting, broken. So, because I am hideously impatient, this is just going to be the one little bit and piece...

This post is dedicated to the glory that is a festive macaron (thanks for loading, little friend). Yup, it can be done. I couldn't help grinning when I saw this Peppermint Chocolate Macaron, they are just so happy!


Should you be in the area of NYC (lucky you) they are from Bisous Ciao. The romantic and well-travelled sounding Tanya creates many beautiful, delicious looking macarons. The flavours and combinations sound really interesting (below, l-r, orange blossom, jasmine and green tea, chai tea) and different but not ridiculous. I'm looking at you Pierre Herme with your Chocolate & Foie Gras Macarons - barf!




Since, sadly, I am unlikely to be in Noo Yoik anytime soon I wonder if I could attempt these?

Maybe a bit ambitious...

Chuck x

Monday, December 20, 2010

Totoro Thought Train

...Thought train, baby, thought train... [Sung to the tune of Love Shack]

This is quite a random post but my brain works in quite a random way so there you go. Let me talk you through it:


2. Reminisced fondly about Kate's Totoro necklace which has been on my Etsy favourite fo' ages.



3. Reminisced fondly about Totoro and Miyazaki in general.


(Source)

4. Remembered how I nearly fell off my sofa in excitement when I saw Totoro in Toy Story 3. BEST CAMEO EVER.




5. Dreamed of a Totoro soft toy and contemplated the general excellence of TS3...

End of random train of thought. Very cheerful.

Chuck x

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Could Be Happy the Rest of My Life -

- with a cinnamon girl...

I love Neil Young. And I love fashion. Sometimes. Been having a bit of a fashion slump recently, probably due to having to wear all my clothes at once for warmth. I am sickeningly bored of all of them. A lot of editorial stuff has been leaving me cold too. This Dossier Cinnamon Girl shoot is lovely though. Shot by Cass Bird and featuring an exceptionally gorgeous looking Freja the atmosphere is perfect. Happy, autumnal, great colours... I particularly like that it isn't very fashion-y, subdued but beautiful, I want to wear it all. I want to be there too.

Spent about half an hour trying to upload the photos here but couldn't get it to work so here is the link instead.

A dreamer of pictures
I run in the night
You see us together,
Chasing the moonlight,
My cinnamon girl.

Love,

Chuck x

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Festive Chocolate Tart

So this is Take II on Tamasin Day-Lewis/Simon Hopkinson's Best Ever Chocolate Tart. Some of you might remember the comic disaster that was mine and R's recent anniversary - a wonderful weekend where anything that could go wrong did go wrong (nb. I still had a great time!). One of the many things that went wrong was this tart. I had a pastry disastre! It kind of melted all over the oven, itself, the baking beans... Too much butter maybe? Anyway, this time I decided to cheat and use shop bought all butter shortcrust instead. I rolled it all out, beautiful and paper thin, and draped it elegantly across my tart tin and it still came out looking very 'homemade' a la 5 yr old. It is thick and lumpy and all bubbled up but I imagine it will still taste nice. I clearly have no knack with pastry though...

But of course now the pastry is, fundamentally if not aesthetically, playing ball the filling decided to be troublesome. It was perfect last time, thick and smooth and truffle-y... We ate it straight out of the bowl with great pleasure for about a week. That was early November though and we are now deep into December. I am not sure this recipe is cold weather friendly -  you have to stir the melted chocolate into the egg mixture but the egg mixture was so cold (from being in our kitchen) that the chocolate pretty much solidified on impact. The only way I could get the chocolate and eggs to combine quick enough was with an electric whisk which basically turned the mixture into chocolate mousse! It felt a bit strange trying to spread the mousse across the tart base and then bake but it seemed to work ok... The surface of the tart looked a bit odd but we won't know until we try it later this evening. [Proper review later.] It looks pretty though!


Ingredients:
  • ~ 400g ready made all butter shortcrust pastry - I had quite a lot left over from a 500g block.
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 200g good dark chocolate
Recipe:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
  2. Roll out your pastry as thin as you can and line a 25cm tart tin. Blind bake (with lots of baking beads - it will inflate!) for 25 mins or until a pale golden colour. Remove from oven.
  3. Up the oven temp to 190oC.
  4. For the filling, beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until fluffy.
  5. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of water. Make sure it isn't touching the bottom or too hot because the chocolate will split/burn and go all horrid and lumpy. I tend to take it off the heat before all the lumps are gone and then just keep stirring until they disappear. Then let it cool down enough so as not to cook the eggs.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture onto eggs - make sure your kitchen is not too cold! Beat until combined and then pour into pastry case.
  7. Return to the oven for 5 minutes and then leave to cool.
  8. Eat and hope it will be delicious...
I am going to crack this recipe one of these days!

Hope everyone is surviving the snow!

Chuck x

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Comely Magazine

I recently watched last week's episode of Have I got News for You. I laughed at Ian Hislop being a grumpy old man about the cruddiness of British trains. And then I got a British train. They are RUBBISH, there is no getting away from it. Mine yesterday was 2 hrs delayed, including 45 minutes stationary at Swindon and outside Reading, and I missed my connecting train and got caught in the commuter rush. Boo. Luckily I had treated myself to some magazines so the journey was not as traumatic as it could have been. It was almost a pleasure as I was able to read both cover to cover and completely ignore my fellow passengers!

I picked up the latest Elle because I think Carey Mulligan is lovely but really the journey was all about Oh Comely. I had read a recommendation in the comments on Susie's recent mag post and then was amazed to see it in the cruddy station W H Smith. I don't buy many magazines these days because a) now Borders is gone and it is pretty difficult to get interesting mags in Bristol, b) so many of them are so expensive and, in my opinion, often don't justify the cost and c) if I have to read another article on camel being the new black I will have to claw my own eyes out. But Oh Comely really sucked me in, its byline is 'keep your curiosity sacred' - so irresistable. It isn't really a fashion magazine, it is about art and music and food and photography and vignettes and illustrations as well as some fashion, but it is beautiful and the writing is wonderful. There were mini short stories and articles about music downloading and chin hairs and happiness and they were totally engrossing. I can't enthuse enough about the quality of the writing. Fab fab fab. I felt genuinely inspired after reading this - RECOMMEND!



(What we listened to, What we ate, What we did)


(A portrait of music downloading)



(a lovely little vignette)


(Rhubarb pie recipe)


(Illustrate what is on your bookshelf - think I might do one of these)

If you see one of these do buy it - totally worth £4. I love you Oh Comely.

Chuck x

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ebay Alert!

I go through periods of spending a lot of time browsing Ebay. I am currently deep in one of those times. And look what I found! A ChloĆ© jumper COVERED IN SHEEP. I totally love it, it is wonderfully mad, but it is a small. Boo. So I am opening the floor to you. Be quick - there are only 2 days left on it. Currently £39 here...



I think I might do these ebay alerts more often - I see so many things that either wouldn't fit me or are slightly out of my budget. Watcha think?

Please someone buy this!

Chuck x 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cock-a-Leekie Pie

My First Pie. I am so proud! I feel all maternal, towards my pie and towards my friends who ate my comforting and nourishing meal. I am officially Mamma Bear now. I made the Cock-a-Leekie Pie from Ravinder Bhogal's wonderful Cook in Boots (which is apparently not in print which is a pity). It is a great book - lovely paper, photos, recipes, SHOES. I got it for Christmas last year mostly for the shoes and it turns out the recipes are excellent too. My good luck!

This wasn't a full pie, in that it only had puff pastry on top and no pastry underneath, but it was still very homely. The use of puff also totally justified me in not trying to make my own pastry! The chicken, leek and mushroom filling was so delicious. It was thick and creamy and lemony and delicious. The Ready-Brek glow of pride...



Festive pie!

Ingredients: (lots but easy)
  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned, boned and chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms (I used standard white mushrooms because I am cheap)
  • 4 thick sprigs of thyme
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • ~375g puff pastry
  • 1 egg beaten
Recipe:
  1. Skin, bone, de-sinew, chop chicken thighs. This is a NIGHTMARE. Unless you are muchos broke a la moi buy pre-skinned and de-boned chicken. Otherwise it takes ages and it is a bit gory.
  2. Preheat oven to 200oC.
  3. Melt butter in a pan (I used my treasure le Creuset) and add chicken, salt and pepper and seal the chicken.
  4. Add the leeks, mushrooms, thyme and lemon zest.
  5. Once the mushrooms have browned sprinkle in the flour and stir in.
  6. Pour in the wine and let it bubble off. Stir in the cream and lemon juice.
  7. Simmer for 5 minutes and then leave to cool. Decant into pie dish.
  8. Roll out pastry to 1cm thick and drape over pie dish. Cut off excess pastry and tamp down the edges with a fork. Brush with beaten egg.
  9. Bake for 25mins until golden.
  10. EAT! (accompaniments - mashed potato and peas, old school!).
Totally delicious. Definitely recommend.

Chuck x

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lipstick Love

Would any of your loved ones appreciate a perfect red lipstick for Christmas? Tragically none of mine would. Mother, father, sister, boyfriend - none of them lipstick wearers! I can think of a couple of friends who enjoy a red lip (although less than I would have expected given my love of lippie) but we're mostly rocking a poverty induced present amnesty. Sensible but disappointing when I come across a perfect present like this.

I SO want to buy someone the Daniel Sandler All for Eve lipstick. All net profits go to the Eve Appeal which was set up 'to save women's lives by funding groundbreaking research into the prevention, detection, treatment and care of gynaecological cancers'. Gynaecological cancers don't get enough press and this is such a great cause. And the product looks great too - win/win. Daniel Sandler's make-up is supposed to be very good and the red looks really rich and luscious. I remember reading about the collaboration aaages ago on DisneyRollerGirl and then forgetting about it but Christmas is the perfect time to remember. Everyone loves lipstick afterall (apart from my fam - boo)...


I really hope someone buys this. If I have any money left after Christmas I might just have to treat myself.

[I was going to post an entirely gratuitous picture of Bette Davis in All About Eve but Blogger was being rubbish... Sad times.]

Chuck x

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snappy Shoes, Smoke Pants and Abortion Rights.

So this post title probably isn't making all that much sense at the moment but it will, I promise...

After I got my last big essay in I rewarded myself with a little shopping splurge. I decided to make the most of the 20% off ASOS own brand deal that was on at the time (and actually looks like it is back on now) and bought a whole bunch of things. Yeah, I qualified for free next day delivery. Obviously quite a lot of it had to go back because it wasn't quite right but I did keep an amazing pair of crepe trousers and some brogues. The brogues have an amazing fleecy lining and make me look, in my humble opinion, very dapper in a 1920s gangster kind of a way. The real excitement was the troos though. They really remind me of early Land in Any Human Heart - very Bloomsbury intelligentsia. And the crepe hangs very nicely and I can comfortably get tights under them when it is chilly. Best of although is their colour name - ASOS calls them 'squirrel'. This is clearly mental. As the boyf helpfully pointed out this could only possibly be true if you were looking at the inside of a squirrel. Morbid but true. Makes me grin every time I put them on though!


(the lovely Land and dreamy/idiotic young Logan in Any Human Heart, c/o The Guardian)

The trousers also reminded me of these beautiful Stine Goya trousies which I saw on Founders and Followers. Unsurprisingly they have not called them 'squirrel', they have called them 'sierra' which is altogether more desirable.



Anyway, here is my take on Land/Stine Goya's trousers with my new brogues...


And the abortion rights? Well. Whenever I spend any real amount of money on myself I feel guilty. Probably some left over Catholic guilt from another generation. I like to try and assuage this guilt by also spending money on something worthwhile. The logic totally makes sense to me. To offset my new shoes and trousers I bought myself a subscription to Abortion Rights. They obviously always need funds and it is an issue I feel hugely strongly about. My university Feminist Society held a conference recently where feminist comedian Kate Smurthwaite (of Cruella Blog) spoke on behalf of Abortion rights and she was very funny and inspiring. Did you know that women in Northern Ireland can't get abortions on our NHS? Fo' real. The NHS. Abortion Support help Irish women travel to England to get abortions - donate to them here. Abortion Rights itself 'is the only national grass roots membership-based democratic campaign working to defend and extend women's rights to abortion'. Help to support them here - student membership is only £5.


On the topic, I enjoyed this poster which I saw here.


Phew. Long, slightly random post. Need to go and get dressed for the theatre now!

Hope you're having a great weekend.

Chuck x

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette

In anticipation of seeing 'Somewhere' sometime soon-ish I thought I would catch up on Sophia Coppola's 'Marie Antoinette'. I missed it at the cinema and have just never got round to seeing it. Turns out I hadn't missed much. I really enjoyed the Antonia Fraser biography it was based on which doesn't cavil at drawing attention to Marie Antoinette's frivolities and indulgences but also tries to give the background to them and paints the young Dauphine warmly and sympathetically. In the book there is a real emotional connection to the often foolish Antoine, in the film there basically isn't. The film is all fripperies and no heart, en mon avis. The acting is bland, the American accents are wince-inducing and there is remarkably little plot or character development. BUT, and it is a big but, it is gorgeous, jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Kirsten Dunst's voice sets my teeth on edge but she looks beautiful. The costume department excelled themselves and the Versailles settings are stunning... It is a visual macaron.

I got a bit screencap heavy because there was so much to see. These are my edited highlights. Click to see my natty montages in their full glory...

i) LOVE the colour palette - pastels galore. Their a loads of great, sumptuous group scenes too.


ii) Rustic M. A. - maxing and relaxing on the lakes, in the fields and at her retreat surrounded by musicians. As you do. While you are at it maybe a little opera with yourself as the heroine?


iii) Naughty M. A. - fairly scant historical evidence to back this up but very glam nonetheless.


iv) Sophia Coppola does have a wonderful eye, she composes perfect scenes.


v) Food montage! The eating/drinking/gambling/dressing-up/shopping montage to I Want Candy was pretty much the best part of the film.


vi) K-Dunst's gorgeous pink hair. 'Nuff said.


vii) My 2nd favourite shot - such a great sense of scale.


viii) My ultimate favourite shot - love the cheeky Converses! And the high heels and the tights obviously.


Frothy froth froth.

Chuck x

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tabbouleh and Other Stories

Feeling a bit mopey this evening (for no particular reason) so I am going to keep it short and sweet. Not to blow my own trumpet or anything but I made a delicious supper tonight and I thought I would share. I went for a light Middle Eastern theme - who doesn't love themed food? - and made Red Onion, Chilli and Lime Tabbouleh with Roasted, Spiced Chickpeas, toasted pitta breads and yoghurt. The recipes were from Nigel Slater's The 30-Minute Cook [N.B. currently only £5.99 on Amazon - bargain!] which I have been enjoying a lot recently. Sorry, I am clearly all about the parentheses today.

Anyway.

Things I have learnt in making my first tabbouleh:
- Bulgar is just 'cracked' wheat. I did not know this. More fool me.
- Don't listen to your bulgar wheat when it tells you it is thirsty, it's eyes are bigger than it's stomach and topping it up with water will make it go a tad soggy. Nige tells you to wring it which sounds strange and I was feeling lazy so I didn't, this was potentially a minor mistake.
- 6 tablespoons of bottled lime juice ≠ the juice of 3 limes. I assumed it would but I can't imagine that Nige intended his recipe to be quite so Starburst-y.
- 50g is a LOT of parsley.


Ingredients:
  • 150g bulgar wheat - Nige used 75g as a side but I wanted a main. I didn't double any of the other quantities but it still turned out very well balanced.
  • 1 medium, sweet red onion, roughly chopped
  • 25g flat-leaf parsley - Nige wanted 50g but I hadn't noted down quantities when I went shopping and it never occurred to me that he might require more than an entire packet of the stuff. Again my measurements worked out well as far as I am concerned.
  • 1 medium-hot red chilli pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • juice of 3 limes/4 tablespoons bottled lime juice (maybe?)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Recipe:
  1. I don't like raw onion so I cooked my red onion first, just with some olive oil and a bit of brown sugar, and put it aside.
  2. Cover your bulgar wheat with boiling water and leave for 15 mins. I left mine uncovered and this seemed to work out.
  3. Mix the finely chopped parsley, chilli, lime juice and olive oil together with salt and pepper.
  4. Fluff the bulgar wheat and toss with the dressing and warm onions.
  5. Stuff into a pitta bread with lots of chickpeas and yoghurt and make an enormous mess all over your clean skirt...
So easy. I was really impressed.

On other notes, have you heard about Jill (of Polkadot) and Elle-gate? A huge and flagrant breach of copyright from a brand/magazine that I know a lot of us admire. Startlingly unprofessional. Show your support here.

In more cheerful news Sarah at The Licentiate is holding an actually-great blog giveaway here. I particularly have my eye on the Kevyn Aucoin book - have heard so many good things.

And so goodnight.

Chuck x