Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shedding My Winter Coat

I'm not actually talking about my hair, although that would be appropriate too. Rather, I would like this as my summer coat, please. Showerproof and zingy. Could colour block the hell out of it. Or, the easy option, denim shorts and a white vest. Done. Also, festival-tastic, apart from not wanting to destroy it.

It is Trine Lindegaard from ASOS Marketplace. It is well outside of my price range but I clearly need to check out some other menswear options. Also, lets talk Marketplace, has anyone used it? I've browsed a few times and seen some nice bits but never actually been enthused enough to buy anything. Any experiences?

Chuck x

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Failures of Will

So a couple of days ago I saw the below photo on Leap of Style (the long chain of tumblr re-blogging seems to lead back to the non-functional - sorry I can't trace it any further). I thought pretty, casual, summer, I love shirts... Then I thought nothing more about it.

Then yesterday, as I was walking past our local Joy, I saw the shirt in the window! Not vintage after all. Summer cutoffs girl popped into my head and I decided I had to try it for the sake of the interwebz. I loved it... Soft, drapey, slightly androgynous, shiny gold buttons - lots of my favourite things. I managed to put it back and leave the shop though, remembering my solemnly kept New Year's Resolution to buy no new clothes.

Today my will power failed me. I broke my New Year's Resolution. I bought the shirt - my first piece of new clothing since before Christmas. 3 months is pretty good but I feel a bit sad too... I've let my teachers down, I've let the school down but mostly I've let myself down (said the inflatable boy who went on a pin rampage). Then I think about the shirt and feel happy again. It's going to be totally versatile, man... Fully intending to wear it to work if I ever get a job post-graduation. And with my black jeans until it is denim shorts time. All the time - I'm going to wear it all the time.

Here is a cruddy webcam picture of me wearing my new shirt with my new hair. Which is NOTHING like Lou or Freja's. This is a combination of having cripplingly straight hair and getting a freebie haircut from a trainee. Oh yeah, and maybe something to do with me not being Lou or Freja. Haven't really decided what I think about it yet. I don't hate it, it doesn't make me want to gnash my teeth and cry into my pillow but I don't love it either. Maybe it will grow on me. Looking forward to washing out the 97 products she put in it and seeing what happens. This is as short as I have had my hair since I was about six - I would say that she chopped about a foot off some of the front! Eek!

Also, on a hairdressing aside, why does everyone want to give me a mullet!?? Had to actively fight not to get one today. When I repeatedly say I don't want layers (my hair is too straight - they come out all tacky and obvious) this means I don't want layers. It does not mean cut me loads of giant step layers and then try and layer my fringe! Jeez... I have spent so much time looking in the mirror today that my hair just looks like a wig and I am sick of my own face - weird.

Can't wait to style up my new shirt. Also, kind of psyched about another 3 month shopping abstinence - it makes purchases so much more exciting!

Chuck x

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hair Inspiration

(1, l-r: Myriad Ways. 2, l-r: Dazed, No. A, Coveted Canvas. 3, l-r: Abbey Lee Kershaw by Josh Olins?, Freja in Vogue?, Lenna Kai Petersen. 4, l-r: Freja by Josh Olins, 11010100. 5, l-r: ?, Taylor's Moleskine, Blondie) 

I've booked a haircut for tomorrow!

Lou and Freja - my hair icons. Sexy, scruffy, dishevelled, rock chic. Low effort, high impact. If I get their haircuts I will become them, right?

Chuck x

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pass It On

Can't be said often enough.

Join GrrrlVirus - Get it. Feed it. Spread it.

(Also, on a shallow note, love the classic zine style. Definitely need more photocopy collages in my life.)

Chuck x

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunshine and Silk Prints

Lazy weekends, so lovely. The sun has shone for most of this weekend (in a muggy kind of way) and I even sported bare legs this evening. Respectable, below-the-knee, vintage dress kind of bare legs but it is a start. I also purchased my summer shoes on ebay today (photos when they arrive - I'm quite excited, I'll be going Tomboy Style on yo asses) and, in my head at least, summer has arrived! I will never wear tights or coats again! Obviously I am jinxing everyone by saying this and it will rain tomorrow but for now I am optimistic.

In my glorious state of sunshine fuelled optimism all I want to wear is Gaby Basora's silk prints for Tucker. These are from her latest Resort collection but I want to wear them now. Aside - when was/is/will be resort time? I get confused by the multitude of fashion collections. Anyway, the prints are gorgeous, I currently have a massive crush on silk and I love the new shapes she is introducing. My body does not favour the tunic dress but my mind does and I want one! Also, the trousers and the shorts... Lush!

I'm sleepy so this isn't very deep, more of a 'look at the beautiful silk prints and wish for a long, hot summer' kind of a thing. Look...

Loveliness. Particularly like the model with the bob. Possible haircut opportunity has come up, any thoughts on styles, length, cuts etc.?

Hope you had lovely, sunny weekends.

Chuck x

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ebay Alert!

This is totally last minute but on the off chance that someone reads this in the next hour and fifteen minutes... Buy these shoes! They're Bally navy tasseled loafers, size 6/39. I love them but at £25.99 they have just gone out of my price range. They're beautiful though and they would be a joy to style...

Hope they go to a happy home!

Chuck x

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Week

The essay is in - hurrah! I'm actually mega impressed that I have managed to muster four pictures of me wearing clothes this week. It feels like all I have been wearing is a blanket and a frown. I am set to turn that frown upside down though, my workload is temporarily relaxed and the weather is warm and I'm vaguely considering a nap... All the good things!

Looking at these pictures, apparently in times of stress I turn to my jeans. Not a surprise, I guess. Perfect lazy dressing. That said, I am definitely in a jeans/trousers phase at the moment. I had a long skirts/dresses period but for now trousers are in the ascendancy. Sadly Poladroid has decided to crop out my lipstick and shoe choices which are what I generally use to perk up unexciting outfits. Guess you'll just have to use your imaginations...

On a totally unrelated note, I went into American Apparel for the first time in aaages today and I was blown away by the prices. Seriously, when did it get that expensive?? Also, I hear, Dov Charney is being sued for sexual harassment for the second time in a month. Choice. No wonder they're going down the pan...

Anyhoo, here's hoping the weather stays happy for the weekend.

Chuck x

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mixtape 4 - We Are All Folk

Decided to go with a genre instead of a theme this month. Interestingly, it is my first time with The Mixtape Project where I have had a complete taste clash with my partner. I received a CD of 'Math Rock' which is, and I quote Wikipedia, "a rhythmically complex, guitar-based style of experimental rock that emerged in the 1980s. It is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), angular melodies, and dissonant chords". I like to think I have quite an open mind about music but clearly I am actually just an old granny because I found 'math rock' simply BAD NOISE. It left me completely cold. As I imagine my folk music will leave him! You win some, you lose some.

This is pretty much just my 'Most Played' on iTunes. A lot of my favourites, none of it particularly new but all of it particularly lovely. I had big plans for the cover but I ended up being late and having to rush it, hence it looking crap...

If you like folksy stuff and you haven't listened to First Aid Kit or Mountain Man you really should - two of my favourite lady bands. I also had a thought... I always like finding a) new music and b) post and so, I presume, do many of you. If you have taken a burning fancy to any of my mixtapes (check them all out here) let me know and I will try and send a couple out.

Chuck x

P. S. Rest in Peace Elizabeth Taylor. So many beautiful tributes all over the interwebz.

P. P. S. Happy Birthday Stinker!

Sweet Tangerine Temptation

Why I shouldn't be allowed to go on the internet/ASOS:

I will see beautiful things that I desperately want and yet can't buy. Hey there, orange pleated maxi skirt. You are so many of my favourite things. I must admire you from afar though, with a tiny tear glinting in my eye...

Luckily I got some exciting news today to compensate for essay death and skirt losses.

Hope everyone is having a good(ish) week.

Chuck x

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One Bowl Baking - Coriander Flatbreads

+ One Board + One Frying Pan.

Flatbread - Bread for People Who Can't Make Bread. That is how they should advertise it. Because I am rubbish at making bread and even I can make delicious flatbreads. A bit of perspective - when I say that I'm rubbish at making bread I mean that I have tried to make bread maybe twice in the last eight years or so and it was bland and stodgy and I am too lazy to try, try, try again. I'd make an awful boy scout or whoever it is that is all for third time lucky. I get bored and disheartened too easily!

On an aside, this reminds me of the Beckett quote -

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Excellent quote from one of my least favourite writers. Not that he isn't very important and influential and he changed the face of literature etc. but have you ever tried to read any of it?? An acquired taste, I can only presume...

Anyway, flatbreads. I used this Ottolenghi recipe (seriously, make the whole meal - flatbreads + mushroom and pearl barley ragout + lots of lemon and yoghurt and good things = mouth porn) and though mine looked nothing like his they were still mega delicious. I have no idea how his ended up looking like tortillas because mine came out looking like irresistable buttery fried naan breads... Has anyone else tried these? What were your results?

Ingredients: (Made 6 small-ish flatbreads/3 helpings)
  • 140g plain (wholemeal if you've got it) flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 140g Greek yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp oil + 2 tbsp butter (to approximate ghee) for frying
  1. Mix all the ingredients (except the butter/oil) in your one bowl - easy right! They should come together fairly easily into a dry-ish dough.
  2. Knead for a minute until smooth. Wrap the dough in cling film and stick in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Divide the dough into approx six balls and roll out as flat as you can on a floured surface. Yottam says 2mm but the thicker ones were totally yum too. I wouldn't be neurotic about it.
  4. Heat the butter and oil in your frying pan. Fry the dough until golden on each side.
  5. Eat immediately and burn your fingers being greedy.
So good. New favourite thing to make. Perfect accompaniment for any Middle Eastern style food.


Chuck x

Monday, March 21, 2011

Molten Metals

I'm rocking not one but two metallic nail varnishes today. SO on trend. Miu Miu SS11, I'm feelin' ya. Mostly they're just lovely and shiny. A nice, and largely unobtrusive, way to revel in my magpie tendencies.

(Silver Bullet - Topshop, The Old Bill - Butter London)

This is one of those exciting times when the cheap alternative totally kicks the expensive alternatives arse. The Topshop nail varnish is great! Really metallic, really easy to put on, you can even get away with just one coat... The Butter London stuff (which I borrowed from B) is pretty rubbish actually. Very very runny, sheer and sticky and smudges really easily. B thinks it might be a duff but my faith is gone. Go Topshop!

Do you like my pseudo-tatt? I quite fancy it. My current essay is completely vanquishing my brain at the moment so sorry if I am incoherent. Will probably be like this all week. Just to warn you...

Chuck x

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Sunday Book: Daisy Miller - Henry James

This is really more of a novella than a novel per se but I am going to fling it in since I am clearly beginning to develop a bit of a Henry James crush... I read Daisy Miller in the beautiful Penguin Classics' Selected Tales, which I would recommend if you are interested in James, but you can buy it individually. It is the story of a 'young American flirt,' Daisy, and her trip to the Old World. As ever, James' depictions of contemporary Europe are fascinating and beautiful - Vevey, on Lake Geneva, and Rome this time. Daisy bounds through this world breaking social conventions and shocking her compatriots by wilfully doing exactly as she pleases. I think that she is probably too spoilt and imprudent to properly qualify as a 'feminist icon' but she is certainly an overwhelming force of character. I'm not going to say anything more because I was surprised/shocked by the ending and I don't want to ruin it...

(How cute is my stegosaurus cookie cutter?? He lives, with lots of other bits of bric a brac on my mantelpiece)

Daisy Miller was an early work of James' and I don't think it is revolutionary but it is a short, accessible entrance into HJ if you were interested in trying him. Otherwise, if you already know and love him, another delicious, bite-size chunk of his style is obviously going to be a good thing!

Verdict: short, sweet, lots of beautiful continental 19th century Europe, great characterisation.

Hope you've all had a nice weekend.

Chuck x

Friday, March 18, 2011

This Week

Been playing with my camera and various photo editing programmes. Here are some of the things I've been wearing this week. Needs some practice but good, clean fun generally. That is all.

Have a good weekend!

Chuck x

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Rumours I've Heard About Anna Wintour'

Have you seen Lisa Hanawalt's series of illustrations, 'Rumours I've Heard About Anna Wintour'? [Just going to casually amend the American spelling...] If not, you must head over here to The Hairpin immediately and be prepared to spray whatever you are eating/drinking out of your nose. I actually think they make A-Dubz more endearing...

They're just so good! Hopefully Lisa will make them into prints and then I can buy the LV trunk one and giggle at it everyday... That is, until I can afford to buy my own LV trunk and then I will use that time for taking power naps in it. Obv.

Chuck x

Double Dutch - Malcolm McLaren

I saw this for the first time last night and it is amazing! Try and ignore Malcolm McLaren looking like a scary ginger perve and focus on the KILLAH SKIPPING. Yes, you heard that right, this is competitive skipping! Who knew? The fitness and skill levels going down here are crazy. Thighs of steel. They leapfrog, high kick and cartwheel two at a time while jumping multiple ropes that are clearly travelling at amount 70mph. My admiration knows no bounds.

Really want to buy a skipping rope now...

Chuck x

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Laura Ashley Lover

The new Laura Ashley Archive collection is out! And, yes, I'm cool for getting excited about Laura Ashley. Laura Ashley is a cool shop. Kind of. Its glorious re-released prints and sweet vintage style dresses are cool anyway.

Girly prettiness. That is all.

Chuck x

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Carven x Lee Miller

Frankly I don't understand how editors etc. do it. By Milan I'm already beginning to feel the fashion malaise and I'm pretty much out of the game by the time the circus hits Paris. I've checked a couple of shows but my relentless enthusiasm for browsing every single thing that covers has waned. Instead of being immediately on top of all things fashion I am looking forward to browsing and savouring over the next few weeks. Which brings me to Carven, I'm actually quite surprised I didn't check their show sooner because I am a young female blogger hence I must inherently love them. Blogger Carven-loving is a cliché (which I am apparently all over at the moment - I like macarons too, so sue me) but I do think Guillaume Henry is doing great work and he has clearly latched on to what people want to wear right now.

I didn't love everything in the collection but there were lots of lovely looking pieces. Am looking forward to seeing it all better presented because the lighting doesn't do it any favours and sunglasses in the dark is a pet peeve of mine that I struggle to overlook. Also, I imagine the details will be charming. Particular favourites - the tiger/lyger? jumper, the orange blouse, burgundy cable knit, wrapped plaid, dusky blue and Sunday school chic.

(Photos c/o

Also, excitingly, Henry referenced Lee Miller as a muse. Not sure where that is coming through in the collection but as a source of inspiration she totally ticks my boxes. Lee, swoon... Model, fashion photographer and Vogue war correspondent. She was raped at eight, had an affair with Man Ray, was an active participant in the surrealist movement, suffered clinical depression and post-traumatic shock syndrome in the aftermath of the war and later became a gourmet cook apparently! She travelled all over the world and met unbelievable people and took wonderful, powerful photos, oh yeah, and she was totally beautiful. What a woman!


Chuck x

Monday, March 14, 2011

Perfect Porcelain

After seeing a shot of Hidemi's lace pattern porcelain on the style files I couldn't not (hey there, double negative) follow up on it. Originally from Tokyo she moved to New York and turned her training in fashion design towards making gobsmackingly lovely ceramics. She has an Etsy store where you can go buy her work/generally drool at all the beauty. Not only are the bowls, cups and mugs gorgeous, they are gorgeously styled. I know it makes me a giant cliché but macarons will sell me anything, also, more importantly, bagels and ice cream! Possibly my two favourite things. Her pieces aren't cheap but they are handmade and heavenly. I can just about imagine treating myself/a friend to a mug for a special occasion but sadly, although I guess unsurprisingly, postage outside the US is muy prohibitive.

I'll just have to admire them from a distance...

Chuck x

P.S. Donate to the Japan Tsunami Appeal here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Sunday Book: Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex - Alice Domurat Dreger

Thought I would mix it up a bit this week and write about a non-fiction book. What can I say? I'm crazy like that! I read Alice Domurat Dreger's Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex (I know, catchy title) for my dissertation but I think that books about 'sex' and 'gender' and gender theory are interesting and important reading for everybody. Am I right? I can just feel you all clicking over to Amazon right now, thinking 'I must have this now'...

That said, if you are after a book about gender, or even, in fact, a book about hermaphroditism, I wouldn't recommend this one. It's not bad, don't get me wrong, and it would be a perfectly adequate introduction to the subject but there are better books out there. In fact, if you are after such a book I would highly recommend Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality by Anne Fausto Sterling which is in the below pile of some-of-the-interesting-books-about-gender-that-I-have-read-recently. It is more in depth, more thorough and more analytical and wider reaching, in my opinion. They are both well written, interesting books though. I read the AFS book on a romantic holiday with the boyf the Christmas before last. He totally enjoyed me constantly butting in with exciting facts about different intersex conditions and the horrific politics of the medical management of intersexuality. It totally didn't ruin the mood. What is good about the ADD book is her historical research and her use of case studies to examine the ways that 19th century medicine 'dealt with' hermaphroditism (as it was then). She has examined every recorded case of hermaphroditism in European medical literature from 1800-1915 (roughly) and it is fascinating to see how external social pressures shaped medical thinking about ambiguous bodies.

By the way, if you think this isn't relevant to you then you are wrong. The way that society and the medical community react to intersexuality is massively indicative of the way that we think about and view gender. Reading ADD's book it is shocking to realise that in many ways the 19th century had more flexible ideas about gender than we do today...

Some facts about intersexuality:
  • The sex vs. gender dichotomy is drivel. Physical, bodily 'sex' is just as cultural as gender. It would be better defined as 'biological gender', leaving 'sex' as the act of. There is no stable or definitive definition of biological gender - ADD's book demonstrates how medical definitions have changed through recent history (appearances > gonads > chromosomes > genitals...). None of these are reliable indicators of gender.
  • XX and XY are just the beginning, there is XXY, XXYY, XXXY, XO...
  • Cheryl Chase, the founder of ISNA (the Intersex Society of North America, sadly now defunct) claims that ‘about one in a hundred births exhibit some anomaly in sex differentiation and about one in two thousand is different enough to render problematic the question ‘Is it a boy or a girl?”. That is crazy! I think Down Syndrome is about 1/800.
  • Current medical management (although it is slowly beginning to change - a bit - thanks to lobby groups like ISNA) of intersexuality is entirely and shockingly genital. If a baby has a penis that is too small/a clitoris that is too big/ambiguous genitals that wouldn't measure up to 'normal penis standards' they will be 'made' into a girl. 90% of babies born with ambiguous genitals are assigned female (and given 'corrective' surgery such as clitorectomies) because...
    • "It is easier to dig a hole than build a pole" (actual quote).
    • Men have penis, women don't have penises - that is how gender is defined. Nothing to do with female genitals, only the presence/absence of male genitals.
    • Female pain and sexual function is undervalued - these procedures often require repeated surgeries throughout surgery and leave women with severely decreased/nonexistent sexual function.
  • Very few intersex conditions are medically dangerous (CAH is and undescended testicles have an increased cancer risk) - ambiguous genitals are abnormal not diseased. They are surgically 'corrected' because society has a tragically narrow view of 'acceptable gender'.
  • Unnecessary, intrusive and often harmful surgery on babies and children under the age of consent is wrong.
Sorry, got a bit carried away there but this is something I feel very strongly about. Also, for anyone more generally interested in gender theory I would really recommend Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw or My Gender Workbook. Her light, often comic tone takes a bit of getting used to but her content is killer.

On a lighter note, I hope that you all had lovely weekends.

Chuck x

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gratuitous Rye Rye Videos

Because she is cool. Because they feature M.I.A and she is cool. Because there is dancing. Because Sunshine makes me feel a bit warmer in my frosty student house. Because.

Chuck x

Rye Rye x Dimepiece

Did you know about Rye Rye? I didn't but then I'm pretty uncool so that probably doesn't mean much. Anyway, she is a new M.I.A, Santogold, Rihanna/Nicki kind of lady. When I say lady, she looks about 15 (Done my research - she is 20 but she has an adorable baby face/voice) but she has some very catchy choons and some serious dance skillzzz. I'm all about dance skillzzz, not personally obviously but a girl can dream...

Her latest video, for 'Hardcore Girls', is collaboration with Dimepiece. Ashley Jones and Laura Fama (the designers at Dimepiece) did the styling and she wears a lot of their customised pieces. In case the name Dimepiece is ringing some bells but you can't quite place it, they're responsible for the cross collars that have been all over the interwebz. They're available for purchase now.

They make other things besides that collar though. Particularly, they do a nice line in t-shirts. I would enthusiastically wear any of these. First time in ages I have felt even vaguely attracted to a 'slogan t-shirt' (barring band tees)...

(All c/o Dimepiece)

I'm something of a control freak so I guess the central one would be particularly suitable...

Chuck x

Thursday, March 10, 2011

LAA - Lipstick Addicts Anonymous

"Hi, I'm Chuck and I'm a Lipstick Addict. This is my first meeting."

I might have a problem...

(Revlon - Mauve it Over, Mac - Twig, Stila - Sonia, Nars - Shanghai Express, Rimmel - Bordeaux, Models Own - Blackcurrant, Mac - Cyber)

(Lancome - Rose Gravure, Nars - Funny Face, Rimmel - Retro, Guerlain - Regal Red, No. 7 - Diva)

These are a selection of my mum's cast-offs (Lancome & Guerlain), ebay purchases (hey Nars and Mac) and Boots. They're just the easiest way to perk up an outfit. Have to put myself under a lipstick buying embargo though - 12 is probably enough...

  • Mauve it Over and Retro are probably my most worn. The Rimmel lipsticks are quite drying but they do pack good cheap colour.
  • Sonia and Blackcurrant are sheerer, glossier colours. Need to be regularly reapplied/touched up but are probably more forgiving generally.
  • Shanghai Express only arrived this morning but I've had Funny Face for a while and Nars lipsticks are so good! RRP is crazy but they have really good density of colour and they last for ages. They have a waxy consistency so they don't slide but they aren't drying. Lovely. On my ebay saved searches.
Always up for hearing new lipstick recommendations though. Any favourites?

Chuck x

REM - Uberlin

Ok,. this is amazing. Aaron Johnson is adorable and light on his feet. Directed by his fiancée Sam Taylor-Wood. The boy got moooooves!

Good song too. Do watch it if you haven't already...

Chuck x

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Feminist Icon: The Female Eunuch

Ok, I'm referring to The Female Eunuch, rather than Germaine Greer herself, as My Feminist Icon because, sadly, I don't really have any positive associations with Germaine. Clearly she was amazing in her youth but, given my youth, I missed that and I have only seen her looking like an idiot on Big Brother and the like. The Female Eunuch though, it changed my life (in a way). Certainly it politicised my burgeoning, youthful feminism. I read it when I was fifteen [Note to self - must re-read] and it opened up a whole new world to me. Obviously I had been aware of suffragettes and bra burning and pay discrepancies and I knew I was a feminist but it exploded the potential of feminism. It forced me to re-consider the way that society is fundamentally patriarchal. And it is shockingly relevant to us now. Second wave feminism achieved amazing things but we are still such a long way from anything resembling gender equality, it's crazy.

Going to keep this brief and just say that this is an incredible, powerful book that has really inspired me. I might not agree with everything in it (still don't think I need to eat my own period blood to truly accept my femininity and my female body) but it did change the way I view the world. If you haven't read it I would really recommend it - it is very readable, accessible and enjoyable, as well as politically stimulating.

Thanks, book.

Chuck x

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!

Can't believe I forgot to mention it. Here's to all the wonderful women past, present and future.

Will come up with something better soon. My Feminist Icons? Things to Read? Things to Achieve?

Embarassed I spent International Women's Day talking about my hair...

Chuck x

Breaking the Hair Rut, Pt. I - Cinnamon Buns

I'm bored of my hair. I am stuck in a hair rut. I want new, glamorous, exciting hair. There are obstacles standing between me and my amazing new hair though...

A) I am hugely indecisive and I don't know what I want.
B) I have an unholy fear of hair dressers so will only go to smart, expensive, recommended ones and only when I am at my wit's end.
C) I am broke and totally can't justify spending the crazy amounts of money the aforementioned smart salons charge.

I also need to re-henna my hair because I am haven't done it in ages and I am getting rather strange looking roots but it is such a hassle. I use the Lush henna blocks and they are a great product - love the colour, the smell, the extreme conditioning effect etc. - but they are a bit of a bore. Grating/crushing/melting the blocks, distributing the mixture (which, lets be honest, has the colour and consistency of watered down cow poo) evenly through my very long hair, sitting around with my head wrapped in cling film for four hours (I like to give it a good soak), trying not to touch anything, trying to rinse all the grit out without blocking the bath plug... I feel tired just thinking about it. [It is nonetheless on my To Do list for tomorrow morning. Goody.] Also, I kind of fancy dip-dying and henna doesn't love chemical hair dyes. And what colour would I go? I don't think I've seen a ginger dip dye for all them being Bang On Trend. Low risk suggestions seem to be pillar box red or dark pink but blue has been suggested for contrast. Have I missed the boat on dip-dying? Would I be so 2010? So many things to consider...

In the meantime though I have been inspired by some up dos that will hopefully stave off the itchy feet for a little longer. I wear my hair in a bun - does anyone else remember that's what they were called before they suddenly became topknots?? Why did that happen? - about 80% of the time so I could do with mixing things up. I love MJ's plaits (and she did a much better job of getting a photo than I did - see the best of a bad bunch below) and the cinnamon buns tutorial over at A Cup of Jo (below left, obviously, not righ!). Because jewellery designer Caroline who models the cinnamon buns hair do is beautiful and casually perfect looking I thought I would try and emulate her.

Sadly the hair do didn't actually make me Caroline but a change is as good as a feast, or so they say, and while mine was a pretty crap version of the original I still quite liked it. With a little polishing and practice I can see it become part of my occasional hair repertoire. Unless I get all my hair cut off of course! Mwah ha ha... [Aware that I am sounding both verbose and a bit mad today - promise I'm nearly done!].

Do you have any hair thoughts? To dip or not to dip? To cut or not to cut? Long, short, colour, interesting but achievable up dos you've seen recently?

Chuck x

Monday, March 7, 2011

No Bowl Baking! Chocolate Cornflakes

+ One Saucepan.

I am totally regressing to my childhood. These were the food of my youth, primarily because they are so simple that even five year olds can make them unsupervised and they will turn out delicious. After seeing Harriet's Marsbar Rice Crispy Cakes a couple of weeks ago I have been craving my own nostalgic version. There are probably a gzillion variants on the recipe, it is totally flexible to personal preference and pimping out, but this is my Granny's so I am emotionally attached to it!

Ingredients: (This makes about 20 cupcakes)
  • 3oz/75g butter
  • 3 generous tbsp golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • Cornflakes - just stir in as many as you can. I always pour mine straight from the box without measuring...
  1. Put all the ingredients (apart from the cornflakes) in a saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until they are fully combined. Take off the heat.
  2. Pour your cornflakes into the saucepan and stir into the chocolate syrup. I just keep adding more until I've used up all the chocolate.
  3. Dollop inelegantly into cupcake cases. Eat hot or cold.
The whole process can't take more than 10 minutes and it is an instant chocolate hit. And everyone loves them - you never outgrow the basics!

Hope y'all had a good weekend.

Chuck x

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Sunday Book: Daniel Deronda - George Eliot

Victorian novels - so much misplaced stigma. First there was Dickens' Little Dorrit which I surprisingly liked and now there is George Eliot's Daniel Deronda which I totally loved. I read Middlemarch a couple of years ago and liked it but didn't completely bond with it. I suspect that was more to do with my timing than the book itself - I'm going to need to reread it now after my recent DD love-in. Heads up, I think Eliot is probably an author that demands a higher-than-average level of reading attention. That's not to say that she or her novels are 'difficult' (at least Daniel Deronda isn't), just that she has so much to say that if you simply skim them you will miss out on a lot. But yes, everyone, Daniel Deronda is really good! How un-analytical but how true. Wonderful rich plot, wonderful rich characters, wonderful rich book.

It is another big fatty - my budget copy is about 680 pages, I think. The Wordsworth Classics are £1.99 which means that you get a glorious amount of book for your buck. Although the book is named Daniel Deronda it could have as easily been called Gwendolen Harleth. The beautiful Daniel and Gwendolen would be the book's hero and heroine if the author wasn't Eliot, hence rendering the terms rather morally simplistic, they are the book's protagonists at least. They probably get roughly equal screen time but Gwendolen completely dominates the first half of the book and, I think, has the stronger character. After a chance encounter we watch their lives become dangerously intwined. The backstories and psychologies are so fleshed out it is incredible - Gwendolen and Daniel are incomparable to the functional Arthur and Amy in Little Dorrit for example (don't get me wrong, I didn't totally object to them even if they were a little 'good' for my liking, they fulfil the plot requirements but they are one trick ponies). There is oodles of plot as well, it is all very exciting. Not only could I not have predicted the ending, I couldn't have predicted the middle. I don't really want to say anything in case I ruin any of the many surprises...

(DD sitting on top of a Cecil Beaton scrapbook)

Also of note, the fascinating investigation of Judaism in Victorian society. Obviously the book isn't completely free of anti-Semitic prejudices (although let's not pretend that our wonderful modern society is either, here's looking at you Mr. Galliano) - it was published in 1876 after all - but it is unbelievably open and forward-thinking for its time. It is astonishing to compare the characters in Daniel Deronda to the archaic Jewish caricature who pops up briefly in Little Dorrit (1857). An entirely different world and conception. I don't know enough about the portrayal of Jewish characters in English literature to comment on it in any depth but I was really impressed.

The whole book warmed my feminist cockles. Not so much because of the content but rather the quality and breadth of the novel. I truly love Jane Austen, she is one of my favourite novelist and imo she has written some of the most conceptually perfect books in the English language, but I can see the argument (even if I don't agree with it) that her novels are domestic, narrow and 'feminine'. Their miniature scale leaves them open to that kind of criticism. Daniel Deronda though could taken on the Victorian patriarchal literary establishment! She just covers so much ground - travel, religion, local and national politics, morality, bad marriages and illegitimacy... Her intellect and brilliance shines so fiercely. I know I sound like a fan girl but I do feel a bit in awe. I want to thrust it all the people who have ever spoken patronisingly about 'women's writing' and tell them to stick it in their pipes and smoke it! Not that I'm against women's writing but I find the term and some of its implications theoretically dodgy. Anyway, I'm going to stop talking because I have already said enough vast, sweeping, unsupported, un-academic things to give any of my tutors a heart attack and I wouldn't want to actually kill them.

The long and the short of it, this is an amazing, affirming, thought provoking book. There was laughing, there was crying, there was a real emotional connection. It is great and everyone should read it!

Has anyone read it?

Chuck x

Friday, March 4, 2011

Orange Dreams Cont.

Are these the answer to all my orange dreams? They are the ASOS Malcom brogue and they're only £35 and they are very orange... I think they're amazing but I have a lingering worry that they would be a bit harsh with the black skinny jeans/trousers/jodphurs that are my go-to basic. I'm not wearing enough skirts at the moment... Any thoughts?

Chuck x

I Heart Nails

These need a bit of perfecting but I was playing around this afternoon and I think they're pretty cute. Need to round the edges of the hearts so they look less like arrows! Also need to look after my hands and nails, they're a state at the mo...

Using Nails Inc. in Hampstead Heath, Collection 2000 topcoat and Essie in Eternal Optimist on my pinkie. Think it probably looks more pro with a base coat but I kind of like them on naked nails.

Chuck x

Thursday, March 3, 2011

J. W. Anderson - The Fear of Naturalism

Love this so much more than the catwalk photos - just feels like a more faithful representation of the clothes and the spirit. I want to be inside this video even though Hannah Noble scares me a little bit...

Chuck x

Felicity Brown - Ruffled Goodness

Mmm... Millefeuille... Dessert rhapsody... Sorry, that is just what Felicity Brown's work does to me. Thousands of leaves of silken ruffles - so romantic and delicious. The lovely photos of her latest collection over at Couture & Crumpets (two of my favourite things too!) reminded me that I needed to check out her AW11 stuff. Foolishly I didn't do this immediately and so of course I forgot for a bit but now I have remembered and all is good. The collection is beautiful, as is to be expected, and I like the new integration of prints. Apparently it is inspired by “Bedouin women, costume and Picasso's etching work” (Felicity Brown to LFW) which are some pretty exciting references as far as I'm concerned. Always preferred Picasso's etchings to his paintings, scandalous or not?

(Photos via LFW)

Felicity's designs are available to buy (if you have a deep pocket) at the wonderful Young British Designers e-shop. Imagine the swish...

Chuck x

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Bowl Baking - Polenta Shortbread

+ One cake tin.

I've decided to implement a potentially regular 'lazy baking' feature. I love to bake crazy, complicated, visually appealing things that require 97 different pieces of kitchen equipment as much as the next person but sometimes I just feel laaaaaaazy but I still want a fresh, sweet, easy baked hit. So, here I'm going to focus on things that are simple and, more importantly, require minimal washing up because I'm a big baby and I hate washing up. I understand that it is a necessary part of cooking but I don't have to like it!

First up, polenta shortbread. I love shortbread, mostly because of all the delicious butter... mmm... butter. It requires pretty much no ingredients, it is a piece of piss to make and it is totally sweet and satisfying. Underrated, in my opinion. I added the polenta because we had some (how my baking often works!), because I'm a big fan of it and because some recipes recommend semolina for a bit of bite and I didn't have any. You can definitely feel the chewiness of the polenta in the shortbread and I liked that but if you don't like polenta this may not be for you.

  • 6oz/175g butter
  • 3oz/75g sugar - golden caster if you've got it. I made a sugar mixture of white caster, demerara and muscavado which added a nice depth of flavour.
  • 6oz/175g plain flour
  • 3oz/75g polenta
That is it!

  1. Preheat your oven to 150oC. Grease your cake tin.
  2. Put all your ingredients in your one bowl and combine with an implement of your choice, a spoon is fine. Work into a smooth mixture that you can pick up easily.
  3. Dump said mixture into your greased cake tin. Push into the tin and flatten evenly.
  4. Prick all over with a fork to stop rising.
  5. Bake for about 60 mins - until nice and gold and firm in the middle.
  6. Do leave it (irresistable as it will smell) to cool a bit or it can be tricky to get out of the tin neatly. Sprinkle liberally with caster sugar and eat with a bucket of tea while still warm.
Done! Done and yum. How do I love thee warm shortbread? Let me count the ways... Casually bastardising E.b.b there but all is fair in love and baking.

Chuck x

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums

I'm not a Wes Anderson obsessive, I've only seen Fantastic Mr Fox and The Darjeeling Limited but I really enjoyed them both and he always seems to look natty. The Royal Tenenbaums has been on my To Watch list for ages partially because of this gentle appreciation of Anderson and partially because the pictures of it that are frequently referenced on t'internet are fairly universally fab. I hadn't watched it yet because somehow I rarely find myself in the right frame of mind for low key quirky independent films - I'm normally knackered whenever I end up sitting down to watch a film and I assume the aforementioned will be too taxing for my worn out brain. This is obviously rubbish for the most part so when I was (partially) forced to watch it at the weekend I was actually quite pleased - decision out of my hands!

And guess what, I really liked it! Things happen and everything. This one of my main worries with 'independent films', that I'm going to end up wasting ninety minutes of my life watching a French layabout pick his nose. This has happened, it is not an entirely unfounded worry although obviously it is a gross generalisation. I'm sure lots of you have seen it but I thought I would share my pleasure and some stills anyway...

As a book lover I had to enjoy the book montages that recurr throughout - surreal but excellent.

Margot's 'look' is as amazing as the internet would have you believe. Child Margot is the best though - she has attitude! Love the way that she wears her childhood clothes as an adult, not a look that would work for me (going to pass on adult sized Gap Kids hoodies) but great on her.

And, to my surprise, I really liked Gwyneth Paltrow in this. I'm not normally a big fan (excepting Sliding Doors and Shakespeare in Love off the top of my head) but her Margot is brilliantly dead eyed and secretive and wrapped in the ubiquitous fur coat with matching fur belt...

Also of note, the menswear is amazing although I didn't get any stills and I LOVED the interiors that were goin' down. I want more pink walls and portraiture and pastel bathrooms and boars heads and maps in my home...

Check it out if you haven't seen it or re-watch it if you have. Charming, funny and visually luscious.

Chuck x