Monday, October 31, 2011

Wooooooo


Now I'm not really a Halloween gal but this is both cute and edible - i.e. two of my favourite things. I still think iced biscuits are massively overrated as a baked good but I'll eat most things given the opportunity and this wasn't bad. And it is all festive. Major seasonal props. I hope all the Halloween fans out there have had lots of spooky fun.

Boo!

Chuck x

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some Clothes I've Worn

Yeah, black trousers are definitely my safe place. They are just so blissfully versatile and they remove the whole colour coordination thing (more or less). It is difficult to find the perfect pair though. In terms of jeans types, my Levi's are a little too low cut (my kidneys like to be lovely and warm), my Uniqlo jeans are falling apart after less than a year and my new Uniqlo cords, which are lovely, do rule out a lot of textural combos. I'm nowhere on smart black trousers. The material needs to be right (not itchy, not stretchy, not shiny), the cut needs to be right (slim, not skinny), the details need to be right (proper pockets, ankle hems, ideally cuffed). I just haven't found anything suitable on the high street. One of my lovely lady friends has a great pair from the Kooples but that isn't really an option right now...

Anyone seen anything?

Chuck x

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recent Eats

The pearl barley + good stuff is actually a loose variation one of Joy's recipes for farro salad. Farro is sadly not so supermarket available but pearl barley is one of my favourite things so I wacked it in there. Also, my new favourite thing to do with pearl barley is to cook a bunch of it and pop it in some tupperware in the fridge for whenever I need it. I Heart Easy Fridge Food. The above is quick and comforting and sweet and carby and relatively healthy - just what I need when I'm eating alone.

The most delicious thing in this post is the least appetising looking though. The mega awesome leftovers tagine was frickin' awesome. I haven't given up meat completely yet - my new stance is that when I eat it I will eat it as respectfully as possible. We bought the best quality/welfare lamb joint we could afford for Sunday lunch with friends (which was totally delicious, thanks Chef R) and relished it and then maximised the leftovers. I don't like cold, leftover lamb but smother it in spice and stew it for a few hours and it is excellent. The lamb fed six on Sunday and then with a lot of padding out (hey there chickpeas and sweet potatoes) the tagine did four more servings.  And every single meal that bit of lamb made was scrumptious. In my books that is respect. Thanks lambikin.

I made up the recipe from an amalgam of about eight internet sources and my personal inclinations and it was so good that I wrote it down to share with y'awl. Notes - every tagine recipe I read is all like blah blah blah apricots but I'm not crazy about big ole chunks of fruit in my savory food so I substituted sweet potato for sweetness. If are a fruit/meat pervert then knock yourself out but maybe scale back to standard potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1-2 onions, chopped finely
  • 1 thumb (the weird standard measurement) of ginger, grated
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Paprika
  • Harissa
  • Honey
  • 1 generous squirt tomato puree
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 can chickpeas (400g), drained
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into medium sized pieces
  • Roasted lamb shoulder, cut into bite size chunks
I don't think this recipe is particularly pedantic - spice it however you fancy with any appropriate spices you can get your grubby little mitts on.

Recipe:
  1. Heat some oil in a large saucepan or cassoulet and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and spices until soft.
  2. Add the lamb, potato, tomato, puree and honey.
  3. Stew for a while, say an hour and a half. If it is looking thin then you can take the lid off for a while but otherwise leave it to do its bidnez.
  4. Stir in the chickpeas a couple of minutes before serving.
  5. Bam! Sweet, sticky, spicy tagine with lots of melty lamb and chickpea goodness.
This was one of those times where winging it worked - yey for those times!

What good things have you eaten recently? Do you have a favourite leftovers recipe? I'm always intrigued to hear new ones although I have a substantial pile of cookbooks to browse through at the moment... Weekend bliss here I come.

Chuck x

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Loaf 2


Just as awesome but slightly better. I remembered the salt this time - win!

I'm not up to Malin Elmlid's Bread Exchange levels yet but maybe I'll get there eventually. Any sourdough experts out there? If so, can you help me? How do I avoid that one especially cavernous hole? Obviously it is authentic and home-made and I love it but it would be easier to spread peanut butter on without the big hole...

For those of you who were interested, I would recommend Dan Lepard's sourdough starter method which you can find here. Because it uses extra agents (live yoghurt & raisins) that purists would probably turn their noses up at it is fairly idiot proof. See me, for example. Come back in a week and let me know how your little buddy is doing. Mine is called Albert and it is love. I'm going to go feed him right now.

Chuck x

Monday, October 24, 2011

At the End of my Legs


It makes me happy to look down on these. They are all the things I like. Blissfully comfy but totally awesome shoes (they have spongy, padded soles!). Warm, dry feet. Lace ups. Chunky socks. Grey. Ribbed knits. Grubby black denim. Rolled cuffs. I LOVE cuffs and rolled hems - I am all about them. I think it harks back to my misspent youth. Did anyone else go through that mega flare phase when they were 11-13? It was a massive thing at my school - denim and fluorescent cords with each hem about a metre wide. They had to go over your shoes and, gosh, they got disgusting. Because they kept behind trodden on they got all dirty and frayed. You would trail grubby strands of trouser. Worst of all though, they acted as straws to rain water and puddles, metres and metres of soft fabric soaking up all the liquid in sight. I remember one particularly unpleasant incident when we went on a school trip to London and it rained all day and the streets were slick with dutty London town water and my (bright pink cord flared) trousers sucked up water past my knees. PAST MY KNEES. It was so disgusting. Short, skinny jeans were a revelation to me. Dry legs! I never want to wear trousers past the ankle again. I wonder if I will change my mind - fashion makes people fickle but I just can't picture it.

What do you want to see when you look down?

Chuck x

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New to Me



L: Gallery 4 available on Asos Marketplace


These are three of my favourite new (new to me) designers from the latest round of fashion shows. Well, I'm not sure if Gallery 4 showed anywhere but I found them at about the same time. Also, forget about New York, Paris or Milan, these are all London/UK based. That is an accident on my part although it probably stands to illustrate the way that London is a hotbed for young talent (hello - yours truly!). I'm always interested to see new designers and their work, particularly so if they tick my aesthetic boxes, as these do. It is exciting to find people/designers/collections that mesh with your personal taste and push you to think about the clothes you wear on a daily basis.

Obviously none of these designers are very outré. And they have some striking similarities... What can I say? I like what I like and I like:

  • Muted tones and pastels that aren't really pastels - dove grey, washed out nude, oyster, soft but steely blue, heather, very pale peach.
  • Soft, draping fabrics - silk, worn chiffons and georgettes, the occasional touch of satin, buckets of fluid jersey. I want things to hang and float and drift and swoosh.
  • Interesting, abstract prints - watercolours, splatters, dark and messed about photographics, collages of familiar images that you can't quite recognise. As much as I love Mary Katrantzou's hyper real digital prints, and I do love them, they wouldn't slide very smoothly into my existing wardrobe.
  • Maxis - see 'Drape and Swoosh' as per above.
  • Pockets - fairly self-explanatory, I hate being without pockets.
The above designers all feature aspects of my Favourites List but they also go beyond it. Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones encourage me to be romantic and to reconsider a little my opinion on tailoring. When tailoring is this soft, fluid and comfortable looking there might be room for it in my life. Maki Aminaka and Marcus Wilmont show me that florals don't have to be sweet, chintzy or girly - they can be armour! Louise Rhodes and Amy Moreton remind me that I need to stop cutting my muted tones with black and brave an all pastel outfit. Also, why don't I own a beautiful, printed maxi when they consistently one of my favourite things?? Oh yes, because the high street don't seem to make them. This might be an item worth saving up for...

What do you think? What are the things you look for over and over again? How do you think about your wardrobe?

Chuck x


Friday, October 21, 2011

Something To Be Really Proud Of

In the meantime...


My First Sourdough.

Not 100% perfect but absolutely 100% awesome.

Something from nothing (almost).

Chuck x

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thinkings

Dear Blog,

I would like you to be better. I'm just trying to work out how right now.

All the best,

Chuck x

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chris de Burgh All Over this Town

So this is unexpected... I have never never been a red kind of gal. I've historically steered well clear because lots of shades violently wash me out. And there are all those connotations of being a lady in red (See Chris de Burgh, Exhibit A). Red is sex and power and divas and Golden Age goddesses, all of which I admire and none of which I identify myself with. And yet, look what's happened to my wardrobe. Look at all that red! It has crept in while I've had my back turned. I've always had red lipstick and I bought the red heels in a fit of passion when I was 17 (and have worn them consistently since then - good buy, 17 year old me). I hadn't thought of the scarf as red, it is tomato-y orange, until I saw it in the context of my ruby hoard. The rest has miraculously appeared in the last few months.


Scarf - old H&M / Vest - Cos (ebay) / Heels - old Topshop
Suede Skirt - Topshop (ebay) /  / Trousers - Asos (ebay) / Espadrilles - Majorcan supermarket (€3!)
'Love' Beret - Chatham Girl (awesome birthday present!)

I blame Acne and Charles Anastase and also maybe Dr Martens. And all the delicious wine tones that are out and about at the moment - burgundy, bordeaux and port. Surprisingly forgiving on pasty English skin. So rich and decadent. Now I'm going to have to re-assess my character... Darn it!

Have you embraced any new and unexpected colours recently?

Chuck x

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some Clothes that I've Worn - More Lo-Fi Lovin'

So I still haven't cleaned my mirror... One day I will. One day I will also stop pulling weird faces in photos. That day is not today though. It probably won't be tomorrow either. Eventually perhaps. When I am old and wrinkly. Although what is the point of being old and wrinkly if you don't get to pull weird faces? When I am old I shall wear purple etc. Purple doesn't seem very crazy these days. When I am old I shall rock Advanced Style. Much more fun.

Chuck x

Friday, October 14, 2011

Five Favourite Friday Fings


1. Look at Fever and Few's mad new kitten scarf! So bonkers, so good. I really think that could be my catchphrase. It is certainly one of my key aesthetic mantras. Just looking at this scarf cracks me up - he is so fat and stately, it is so saccharine and ironic, it would make such an excellent scarf. I love everything about it.

2. The boyf described Lindsey Thornburg's Darby dress as 'elemental' which is surprisingly apt. A unexpected shot of insight! I really like the sense of fire and air in the print - pretty and interesting but not shouty. It also looks like it would be a joy to wear; soft, drapey, swooshy and comfortable. That could be my alternative catchphrase. Seen at the ever inspiring Honey Kennedy.

3. I'm sure most of you will have seen these Ancient Greek Sandals on StyleBubble but I thought I would put them up here too because they really resonated with me. I wonder if there is a way to say 'resonate' without sounding like a dweeb? My eyeballs just bonded with their simplicity, natural colours and interesting, artisan details. I wish it was summer (and I had a bigger budget) so I could wear them every single day. I can't imagine getting bored of these.

4. How cute is baby Leo?? For the most part I have sat out the current big 90s fashion re-run. Not because I dislike it on others but simply because I don't have the energy to commit to it myself. It all seems so recent - I've only just been there, I don't need to do it again yet. This hilarious (so bonkers, so good) Stylist's Own Romeo maxi dress is almost enough to make me reconsider though. Like almost everyone I have a soft spot for Romeo + Juliet. The sound track, the costumes, the setting, the attractive cast members, oh yeah, the Shakespeare. This dress takes me back to my emotion-drenched youf.

5. Puppies. That is all. I nearly bought Hanna Melin's dog print at the Renegade Craft Fair last weekend but unfortunately I didn't have any cash. Will have to admire it across the internet instead. All of the dogs.

Happy weekend y'all. I'm mega excited about the big fat sleep I'm about to have. It's going to be so goooood. You might think I'm uncool but you would be wrong!

Chuck x

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Favourite *Pun Alert*

I'm currently compiling a post about tea towels. I know where my (tea) towel is, right? Anyway, that will be an in depth and thorough analysis of my love for the tea towel and will feature an impressive array of tea towels from around the world. [Warning - these claims may or may not be wildly overreaching]. However, I have just found my new favourite website and I must tell you about it immediately. The original post will just have to wait. It is *drum roll please* To Dry For - a site entirely dedicated to designer tea towels. Check out the pun! I love a pun. And when they say designer tea towels they don't mean branded, logo-y things, they mean all of your favourite illustrators! Julia Pott, Donna Wilson, Dear Colleen, Gemma Correll, Keep Calm...


Look, it is a TEA Rex! / Country print / Bake Me

Awesome!

Chuck x

Monday, October 10, 2011

Draw in Endless Light

Draw in Light SS12. Perfection as ever. Consistently one of my favourite collections. I just want to wear everything they create. I've said it all before. Beautiful beautiful beautiful. Pastels and darks, soft shapes and interesting lengths, perfect prints - watercolour sweeps and shadows and, this season, maps. Be still my beating heart.


Chuck x

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chocolate, Hazelnut and Walnut Cake

Look what the cake monster turned into! From an ugly (if delicious looking) duckling into a swan...


Lesson learned: if your cake tin looks like it might overflow as it goes into the oven then it probably will overflow. Don't be lazy, scrape it into a bigger tin.

Oops. So Nigel Slater's Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake should have been a bit bigger. If you are going to use a 23cm tin as specified then make sure it is a good and deep one. This cake suits deep anyway. It is so rich and hearty and delicious. It is also super easy to make - it's amazingness is reliant only on great quality ingredients. As long as you have them then this cake is pretty much guaranteed to be awesome. The recipe only calls for hazelnuts but it is walnut season at home and I think they're fricking delish. They go all sweet and caramelised in the cake... Drool. Basically this is just a big pile of chocolatey, nutty goodness. You could probably throw in any of your nuts of choice if you are feeling crazy like me. Chop everything very roughly so you get big, hearty chunks.

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 250g butter
  • 250g sugar - I mixed golden caster and dark demerara, just make sure it isn't all white.
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 250g dark plain chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped (Nige uses 200g and no walnuts).
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped
Note - Nige also uses a small espresso (about 3 tbsp) in his recipe. The first time I made this cake I left it out because I don't like coffee in my baking. I've read since that you don't taste the coffee as such but that it helps enhance the flavour of the chocolate. I would have tried it this time around but I didn't have any coffee. 
Either way the cake tastes great without it and I just added an equivalent amount of milk for a bit of extra liquid.

Recipe:
  1. Grease and line your large tin. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in one at a time.
  4. [Stir in the espresso if you're using it.]
  5. Fold in the flour and baking powder.
  6. Mix in the 3/4 of the chocolate and nuts.
  7. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and nuts.
  8. Now Nige says bake for 80 minutes but my cake was done in 45-50mins. However long it takes for a knife to come out clean.
  9. Allow it to cool a little and then devour.


Eaten with homemade Blackberry and Apple Ice Cream. Foraged walnuts and foraged blackberries. Free and super natural food is the best! So satisfactory to make something out of nothing.

Chuck x

Friday, October 7, 2011

Five Favourite Friday Fings


1. This dress from Honor's SS12 collection took my breath away a little bit. The star is the absent collar obviously but also check out the swoosh and flow, the gentle colour and great shoes, the quiet loveliness of it all. A pastel maxi and brogues - bring it! This also looks like it should be a more flattering alternative to the peter pan collar which I love but isn't kind on the ol' bust. Anyway, perfectly delightful. Admire more of the collection at the line sheet, it is super sweet.

2. Ahaha, love Lassie and love this 'bitches n hoes' t-shirt from Gordon Holden. Very silly. Seen at The Coquette.

3. These embroidered vintage photos by artist Stacey Page are beautiful and surreal. I wouldn't have the balls to risk the pictures but I'm glad that she did. Page's work is yet another fascinating and lovely discovery for me from Izmay Ozga's blog - one of my favourites.

4. This geek chic shoot by Jackie Dixon of Show Me Your Wardrobe is just a bit great. Jumpers and shirts and odd trousers and weird hair and clunky shoes... So many of the best things! (So many of the things I like). It all feels very British. I love the nonchalant attitude and the excellent styling by Gemma Hayward.

5. Tricia of ventricular projects reminded me of the In God We Trust 'really fucking cute' necklace. I have long term love for them although I would go for the 'crazy sexy cool' one myself because I am crazy sexy cool, you know. I can't remember why I didn't buy one first time round since they are only $50. Maybe they don't ship to the UK? I didn't really do my research. If they do ship internationally I would also like the bitty heart ring. Lots of jewellery for me.

Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend? My plans extend to eating lots of cake. That is as far as it has got at the moment. Not that that isn't an awesome plan obviously! This week seems to have sapped me of coherence. Oh dear. Bed now. Night y'all.

Chuck x

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Easy, Breezy Teezies



I've been trying to work out whether you can legitimately compare upmarket t-shirts and drug store make up in a mutually complimentary way. I suspect not. These Zoe Karssen tees are easy, breezy and beautiful in their own casual kind of way but that still doesn't make them the Covergirls of the t-shirt world. I don't think. Oh well, it was worth a try. All I was really trying to say is that they are nice t-shirts and I want them. Perfectly soft and slouchy, drapey and delicious, grey marl and navy, Debbie Harry and nihilistic romance. What is not to like? No, they aren't breaking new sartorial boundaries but you'd just throw them on and look reliably awesome.

And think how comfortable they would be. Mmm, comfort...

Chuck x

Cake Monster


A sneak preview...

Chuck x

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

High Street Dress Up

I don't actually hit the high street very often. I read magazines, I admire blogger buys and I browse stores online but I don't go out and hit the ol' bricks and mortar shops all that much. You have to get there, they're always noisy and overheated, there are lots of horrid people... I just don't enjoy it as much as I used to. I remember, back in the day, when the idea of a day spent out shopping was thrilling. Not so anymore! Still, once in a while, it is fun to go in person and test fabrics and play dress up and try on a whole bunch of stuff.


Metallics, polka dots, cableknits, neon, pleats and brocade.

I didn't actually buy anything though! A) I'm well broke and I'm putting myself on a major budget and B) the more you use ebay the harder it is to buy full price high street clothes. The quality so rarely warrants the price. I was severely tempted by the Dotty P skirt which is pleated and covered in little stars. Warehouse also has a great selection of jumpers at the moment and you know how much I like a nice jumpy!


The middle jumper is faux Rodarte and the right hand jumper is faux Marant but I really like the first one. It might come onto ebay eventually...

Chuck x

Monday, October 3, 2011

The National Museum of Scotland

I just realised that I never posted my pictures from the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. This is obviously a massive oversight on my behalf because it is a really lovely museum. Recently renovated, a beautiful building full of exciting things. A superlative example of museumry (totally a word). Definitely go and explore if you are in the vicinitens, although, warning, it will bring out the child in you. We all got quite over excited...


That is all.

Chuck x

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Sunday Book: Coming Home - Rosamunde Pilcher

As you can see, this is a well loved book. Yellowing, well thumbed pages, crinkly sections from bath reading, battered edges, the gold rubbing off the cover... I can't imagine that it was new when the glorious VB got her hands on it. It has probably been read every couple of years since it was published in 1995. She certainly read it a whole bunch of times before she lent it to me and I'm so thrilled that she lent it to me. Have you ever had a book that you totally loved, instinctively, emotionally and nostalgically? A book that you loved despite the fact that you knew that it wasn't technically, academically a 'good' book? A book that you didn't want to tell people about or lend to people in case they didn't get it, in case they laughed and thought it was stupid, and that tarnished its loveliness to you? I've certainly got a couple and so does VB; Rosamunde Pilcher's Coming Home is one of her special books. Hence it was big and brave of her to lend it to me.


Luckily (phew!) I loved it too. It is such a lovely book - all warm and comforting and chocolaty. Sure, there are those who will argue about the nutritional value but more important is how delicious it is and how good it makes you feel. Lots of old favourites; 1930s, boarding schools, expats and the colonies, glamorous second families with mothers in maribou and handsome, dashing sons, horses and coastlines, Cornwall, young love, betrayal, WW2, Wrens and pilots, the Blitz, loss and heartbreak, Ceylon, death and reunions, sisters, romantic realisations, peace, innocent young girls maturing into beautiful, thoughtful young women... It is heart-warming and gripping, there is buckets of plot and adventure and the characters, particularly the heroine, Judith, are delightful.

A big, warm, emotional hug of a book. Hence being photographed with chocolate - millionaire's shortbread no less, that is how delicious the book is. Also, I bought a whole tray of millionaire's shortbread from Waitrose reduced from £2.39 to £0.10!!  In fact, I bought three trays. Today's major achievement. We suspect that there is a rogue reducer in our local shop because last week we scored many packets of crumpets for 10p each too. It is simultaneously a wondrous miracle and no real surprise that I can't fit into any of my clothes at the moment...

Chuck x

P.S. Thanks VB! Love you.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jewellery Cont.


Talking about jewellery...

I came across Ros Millar's jewellery on display yesterday and thought it rather lovely. Black oxidised silver and rose gold. Beautiful, organic shapes and diamond/studs - an interesting take on something that has been rather overdone recently. Her rings are cast in cuttlebones which I think is wonderful. It is such an ancient and brilliantly simple technique. Simple in theory, obviously, not simple in practice to make beautiful, wearable jewellery. The cuttlebone casting I did when I was thirteen certainly didn't look anything like Millar's! I just want to wear a couple of her rings subtly stacked. Not shouty but quiet and fascinating.

Chuck x