Tuesday, 31 August 2010
There are two things that I'm digging about the above snap:
a) The charming signage - pages of an old book fashioned into a heart shape and an adorable message (serious wedding decor inspiration!)
b) The shop itself - Lovely Bridal Shop in New York's West Village - an essential place to go for any Manhattan hip would-be-bride. Just another reason to book my flight!
I made my first batch of ice cream yesterday! I didn't start with the lavender and honey (soon!), but a simple and surprisingly delicious fresh mint. Seriously, had I known it was this easy to make something that tasted this good, I'd have started years ago! I have mint overflowing from my herb garden so this was the perfect use for it and served with gooey homemade brownies, it was a deliciously refreshing addition. But don't take my word for it...
Fresh Mint Ice Cream
500g whole milk
500g double cream
130g caster sugar
100g fresh mint leaves and stalks
Heat the milk, cream, sugar and all of the mint in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved and the ingredients are on the brink of boiling.
Take off the heat and leave to cool (you want the mixture to cool as quickly as poss so it's a good idea to plunge the saucepan into a sink of cold water).
Strain out the mint and put the rest of the mixture in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours.
Place into an ice cream maker and churn for approx 30 minutes. Voila!
To me, trousers are tricky. The right pair will give your mile-long legs and a perfect posterior - but where are the right pair?? Skirts and dresses are all about hugging the waist and skimming everything else, but pants have a million areas to conceal/flatter/lengthen/minimise. On top of that you also have to consider the cut of the season (nipped in waist, peg leg, surprisingly slouchy - how will that flatter anyone but a supermodel?!)... Well I've done my research and am happy to report I now own two new pairs of pants that work for the new season and my derriere. First off, the Gap trousers I mentioned last week, in the boy cut - sit low on the waist, cropped at the ankle, black wool. The second is a pair I picked up from Zara. Navy, high waisted (perfect with an extra-long skinny belt knotted around them to show off the hour glass waist), blouson and cuffed at the ankle. The shape is flattering (I hope!) and should see me through the next few months. here are some others - all from Outnet - that I considering equally worthy of the cash. Also, surprisingly retro...
Thursday, 26 August 2010
So smitten with these delightful tomes-turned-clutches by Kate Spade. Your favourite literary classics transformed into nifty evening bags, thanks to a clasp on the side. The pages even concertina outwards to create space. A savvy dash of colour for the saddest Autumn ensemble. What a smart cookie!
Readers of this blog will already know my obsession with all things paper (like the incredibly talent Su Blackwell). Well, I've stumbled across someone else just as special as Su. Peter Callsen works with everything from A4 paper to snow and ice and his creations are exhibited around the world (upcoming shows in Sweden, Spain, Norway and San Francisco. I love the fantasy feel of his pieces and the fact that he manages to imbue these simple slips of plain white paper with so much emotion and expression...
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
My mama bought me an ice cream maker for my birthday! Although I may attempt a classic vanilla once in a while, I'm more interested in letting my imagination run wild... My dad has always been a big fan of brown bread ice cream, so I may give that a go soon, but my first experiment is going to be Honey & Lavender, made using the lavender from my uncle's Provence garden. I'll give you an update after my inaugural effort. Any other delicious-sounding suggestions gratefully received!
Jaeger's new Boutique collection has finally hits stores. You can tell I'm in a shopping frame of mind - it's raining outside and all my summer clothes now feel decidedly too, well, summery. I'm already busting out the skinny black trousers and blazers, and August hasn't even ended yet! Anyway, the point is, there's no better time to start thinking ahead (to what I'm going to have to wear for the next ten months - damn long winters and a wedding budget). Anything I buy now has to last me a loooong time, so I'll be keeping it classic and the new Jaeger Boutique collection (aimed at a younger, hipper audience, with a price tag to match), is the right mix of timeless but so very now. These are my picks...
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Finally!!! You can shop online at Gap. It seems like it's the last place to get with the cyber shopping but it was so worth the wait- partly because Gap is the staple in every closet I know. It's simple, timeless and still manages to be cool. A month or so ago, I wrote about their new premium pant collection in Glamour. They've basically created seven new trouser shapes that they vow will suit any figure. I have to agree. Since my piece ran I've been sporting (and loving) the boy fit (seen above). No girl can live without the perfect pair of wear-anywhere noir trousers, and believe me, these are them...
This past weekend we had a small engagement party in an East London bar with a sprinkling of close friends and a showering of vodka. My lovely chap was beyond handsome (apparently one male guest compared his look to Tom Ford!) and I dressed for the occasion too... in this Rebecca Minkoff number (curvy-figure friendly!), towering black patent Mary Janes, a vintage bag and an undone Hitchcock heroine-style hair do. The night was a riot and three days later, I have only just conquered the hangover!
The whole Soho House loveliness is right up my alley. All that chic monochrome and old school style. The latest addition is the first stand-alone beauty salon-come-store is Cowshed Carnaby in Soho. Alongside an array of speedy 30 minute make-you-feel-human-again treatments (I'm all about the head and shoulder massage - in fact, I'm whimpering for one now...), you can also scoop up their amazing black and white, essential-oil beauty goodies. I can promise, nothing will look more classy on your bathroom shelf.
I do love a head scarf. While it may not be currently cool to tie a scarf around your entire head, it is in my humble opinion, sartorially timeless (though now we're selling our MG - sob - my days of roofs down and headscarves up is numbered). Audrey et al looked wonderfully chic and decidedly prim and I still plan on joining them when I can. I stumbled across a delicious little book in Liberty the other day, entitled She Bought A Liberty Scarf. On closer inspection, it's a selection of fourteen postcards, depicting Liberty scarves and has been reproduced from the 1930s. It's adorable and would make a perfect little present for a stylish pal. Annoyingly I wanted to snap it up for my lovely friend Lee, but as I'm sure she'll read about it here, I'll now have to rethink. Bah!
Friday, 20 August 2010
Talking of things I am dyyyyying for, I've also gone totally ga ga for these really quite exquisite fashion illustrations - also limited edition (which makes everything even more covetable, right?). It's a new chance for Vogue readers (me! me!) to own print from their favourite fashion illustrators. I'd be simply thrilled with any of the above. The Art In Fashion prints start at £200 and are, of course, selling out fast, so don't be coy about flexing your credit card!
To celebrate Puffin's 70th Anniversary, 1000 limited edition books have been created by some of the world's most fabulous artists and designers. I'm completely in love with this version of The Secret Garden - courtesy of illustrator Lauren Child. It's costs £100 and comes packaged in a perspex slipcase. What I wouldn't give to own one! They're available from September 2nd from Puffin. And if this beauty doesn't float your boat Orla Kiely's version of Little Women or Frank Gehry's Treasure Island might...
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
If you're as smitten with sugar as me, you have to check out Tartelette. Apologies if I am coming late to the party, but this bakery blog wows me on a daily basis with its gorgeous simple recipes and beyond beautiful photography. The writer, Helen, an ex-pastry chef who has relocated from France to Charleston, SC is also a food stylist and photographer. Seriously, if you can handle the tummy rumblings that will ensue, this heavenly blog is a must. Perfect for every Jackie out there...
There's a distinctly Parisian feel to the new pieces that caught my eye on the Outnet today. With recent drops from Etoile Isbael Marant and Vanessa Bruno Athe (plus this adorable scalloped frock from Marchesa), these French fancies are hard to resist - and if I could be so bold as to insist, definitely worthy of your hard-earned pennies!
How much would I kill for something from the current Mad Men auction on Ebay? The TV big-wigs at AMC have decided to sell off some of the show's furniture (like Don's desk!), with some proceeds going to the City of Hope. Top of my wish list would be a dress worn by Joan or Betty (this Betty dress is at $1,850 at time of writing - gulp). But I'd be equally thrilled with a desk lamp from Sterling Cooper to take pride of place in my living room. I'll carry on dreaming...
No secret how I feel about these cute cotton shoppers! They're around a tenner from Alphabet Bags and could double up as a hip gift bag stuffed with a birthday present... or just a treat to yourself. I love the old-school font and both monochrome combos.
Eight new shots of the bombshell whom inspires this blog have gone on sale this week. The intimate portraits, entitled Marilyn, were taken by photo journalist Eve Arnold, and the limited edition prints (there are 495) start at £350 a pop. Always kind of fascinating to get another glimpse into the starlet's some-time glossy world...
Monday, 16 August 2010
It's not exactly a newsflash that bananas turning to mush make a delicious cake, but I do forget just how luscious the kitchen smells when the sweet warm scent of those battered boys wafts from the oven!
Battered But Beautiful Banana Cake
115g soft brown sugar
500g soft mashed bananas
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. Grease a baking tin.
Cream together the butter and sugar til light and fluffy.
Beat the eggs and mix in one at a time, then fold in the banana. Sieve in the flour, salt and bicarb of soda into the bowl and mix to combine thoroughly.
Pour into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for approx and hour.
Eat while still a little warm.
How cute and kitschy are these boutique boltholes from Lovelane, based in Cornwall? This is so my idea of roughing it. The classic caravans are lovingly and classily restored, plus equipped with BBQs, garden furniture and crisp bed linen etc, so no need to pile the car high with extras. The caravan site is based on the South West coast (with camping too) in a pretty spot with cotton hammocks strung between the trees in which to laze by day and glittering parafin lamps to help you see the way by night. I can almost smell the sea air and taste the potted shrimps...
Friday, 6 August 2010
It's not actually until Tuesday, but as I'll be in the depths of France and probably closer to a cornfield than a computer, I thought I'd write about it now. Much to my family's amusement and annoyance, birthdays are a big deal to me. I love to feel special. I love to make other people feel special. There's nothing nicer to me than one entire day, every year, that is all about loveliness. Eating what you want, being somewhere picturesque, being showered with love (oh, okay and a few gifts). I have a rule that I will never work on my birthday (only once did I have to break it and my wonderful Us Weekly pals requested Dean & Deluca bake my favourite coconut and lemon cake so it wasn't too torturous). For many, many years now, I have celebrated my birthday at La Renjardie, my mum's house in France. We have croissants under the cherry tree while I open cards and pressies, then I do a birthday bed (this consists of me arranging all my new goodies on the duvet and taking a picture for posterity - childish? shallow? moi?). We cycle to the river and laze in the sun (or sometimes shelter from the rain the 10th of August sometimes brings showers), then have a posh picnic with smoked salmon and fizz. In the evening we barbeque. I love the ritual of this happy day, and to be surrounded by the people I adore most. When anyone enters my world, I aim to make their birthdays this glorious too... As for the next twelve months, well I'm trying to turn back the clock age-wise, if my wrinkles will allow (I think I'll attempt to be 32 forever), but so far every year has got better and better so I'm optimistic. My mum once told me her early 30s were when she felt her best as she had acquired wisdom but her body was still pretty perky(!). I know what she means - the past couple of years may have brought their challenges, but they have also come with happiness, acceptance and experience. And I know that the next twelve months will be filled with even more amazement, excitement and joy...
Okay, I admit it. My chap (there, I used it!) isn't the only object of my affections. I am seriously, literally, completely, stupidly in love with Jon Hamm. Of course it's the Don Draper-ness that had turned me to putty - brooding, suave, tortured and immaculate - but the new pictures of him in W still make me a little tingly, and here he's not even in character. I'm a sucker for a big strong man, dark hair, slick style, artsy, sporty... of course my chap is all these things too (and has even been likened to DD), so my crush is totally acceptable behaviour.
Once again I wish I still lived in New York so I could snap up one of these new dresses from J Crew. Actually, if I lived there, everyone else would be wearing them too. Fine I'll settle for a free plane ticket to pick them up (and visit my fabulous pals at the same time)!
I have a bit of a thing for hearts. I know it's girly and a bit cliche but it's also kitschy and cute (especially when it's not too obvious). To me, this little olive oil dipping bowl from Cox & Cox is the perfect example of charming but not twee. I also have a bit of a thing for bread and good olive oil (talking of which, this delicious Carluccio's lemon oil is hard to beat...). I'd like this sweet little bowl on my kitchen table with a hunk of rustic loaf and a big glass of wine.
Thursday, 5 August 2010
Why oh why do I have a cold in August? I am shivering at my desk, huddled in my new Stella cardi, feebly sipping Itsu miso soup and knocking back extra strength Berrocca. The only way to beat this is a break in the sunshine - which luckily I have tomorrow. In just one short flight I will be in Bordeaux, at my mama's glorious ramshackle old farmhouse, surrounded by sunflower fields. We'll celebrate the engagement with fizz in the garden, float in the nearby river, eat crepes in the village square, read a tower of books, mooch around the local brocantes for charming wedding tchotkes and talk until the sun goes down and the bats take to the skies and the stars begin to shoot.
Bring me sunshine!