Wednesday, 31 December 2014

WHITE PEPPER AND PINK PARIS















White Pepper, the London brand who made this outfit, are my new baes.  I've loved their clothes for a long time - they always land in that sweet spot between ultra feminine but with a bit of toughness.  They're bold but comfortable.  They're white but they're pepper.

While we were in Paris over Christmas we stayed in this dreamy pink apartment - as my friend Laetitia said, we were living the Marie Antoinette dream.   It was pretty cool being able to match the curtains while wearing White Pepper's rose-hued polka dot organza party dress. Since it was extremely windy and cold during our stay I wore this white teddy bear coat all the time.  It's so cosy and will also keep me warm back home during the much-feted Coldest Winter Of All Time In England Ever Times A Million that we're going to experience over next few months.  But then they say that most years, and then it just rains all over New Years and I feel sad.  Although luckily this coat has a hood so I'm covered.  The shoes in the last photo are also from White Pepper, I love them but didn't have enough room in my suitcase to bring them to Paris because I'm a classic over-packer.  I'll be wearing them a lot in the future though so they'll appear on this blog many, many more times.

I love you Paris, I love you White Pepper, let's have a menage a trois.  Have an amazing New Years Eve and stay safe out there kids xxx

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

MY MINCE PIE RECIPE


I'm reposting my mince pie recipe because apparently these are an annual thing?!

My grandma used to make perfect mince pies.  Elegant, with a uniform shape.  Fluffy, light pastry, and filling that oozed out gently when you took a bite.  Nowadays I'm the one in our family who makes the mince pies, but I don't have her recipe or nimble fingers so I just bumble about on my own.  The result is deep buttery pies.  And they really are pies.  Lack of resources means I use a muffin tray, so my festive treats are beefy.  They splat and crumble, they shoulder their way into the party instead of lightly skipping, the stars atop them a bizarre accoutrement, like a sumo wrestler wearing a tiny silver top hat.

However, they do the job, and while making them this year I took some photos.  So if you lean more towards big fat mince pies, you can follow my recipe below.


Monday, 22 December 2014

THINGS I NEVER KNEW ABOUT HAVING CURLY HAIR


After many years of over-straightening and even more years of hating my curly hair, I am now able to wear it naturally without feeling like it's a big fluffy mess.  However here are some things I didn't realise before growing it long that I wanted to share. Put simply - it's a big commitment.  HUGE.  So if you're thinking of embracing your curls and getting them lengthy, then you might want to read this first...

1. I started using terms like "anti-humectant", "co-washing" and "silicone-free".
Anti-humectant means a product that won't let your hair go frizzy in humidity.  It's basically a hardcore wax that you have to apply very lightly otherwise you'll end up with locks that look uber greasy.  My favourite is Aveda's one, it will last you approximately 47 years. Co-washing is when you don't use shampoo on your hair, you only use conditioner.  It's basically the same as using a cream cleanser on your face rather than a lather-based soap product.  I did it for a couple of months, but I really missed the feel of using a shampoo.  So now I use L'Oreal's EverSleek Smoothing and Nourishing shampoo and conditioner.  They're silicone and sulphate free.  I always leave in a bit of the conditioner (a tiny amount) after my shower as it really helps stop frizz and in general seems to help my hair feel and look better.  

2. I became convinced that sulphates are REALLY BAD.
A lot of people, especially those with curly hair, believe that sulphates and silicones are very bad for the hair and skin.  I don't know how much science there is behind these beliefs - personally I find I'm OK with silicones, but I steer well clear of sulphates.  Curly hair is very delicate, and it's pretty much universally accepted that sulphates are very harsh.  Same goes for people who dye their hair.  I also found mine grew so much more quickly when I cut back from the 'phates.  Now there are more and more sulphate-free hair options, it's not hard to find alternatives if you're that way inclined.

3. I was suprised how often I'd accidentally get food in my hair.  It happens all the time.
This is gross, I'm sorry, but it's true.  You take up more space with long, curly hair, and it will go places you hadn't realised it could go.  I don't mean hairs falling into food - luckily that never happens - but the ends will drip into soup and oh man this is not nice.  Likewise it took me a while to be able to apply deoderant without getting it onto my hair.

4.  It will take all day to dry.
I try and use heat as little as possible, so I spend a lot of time with wet hair, sat in my house, dripping from my head.  It takes ages.  Summer is amazing because suddenly your dry time is halved, but even then it's still a good four hours or so.  And you don't want to move it around too much or sit on the curls, so it's kind of a pain.  I spend a lot of time baking when it's a hair wash day because then I can close the kitchen door, get it really toasty in there, and reduce drying time.  I now think it's a legitimate excuse when female characters in the '80s would say they had to stay in or miss a date because they were washing their hair.

5.  There are websites that will tell you how your curly hair will react to the weather that week.
I'm not kidding.  People take this very seriously.  That's also one of my favourite websites for all my curly hair needs.

6.  The pineapple and scrunchies are important for curls that last.
I have so many scrunchies.  I like velvet ones because they're the softest, and feel a bit luxurious.  And the pineapple is when you have all your hair on the top of your head in a ponytail while sleeping.  It's the best way to make sure your curls look good the next day.

7. Water is your best friend.  It's also your worst enemy.
Rain and humidity sucks and makes curly hair frizzy, but if you wet your hair in the morning you can "reactivate the product" and your hair will look just washed again.  It's one of life's great mysteries.

8. You need special towels.  Or T-shirts.
Normal towels rough up the cuticle of curly hair so it's best to use a special curl towel, or even just an old T-shirt.  I style my curls when they're soaking wet so I get big clumpy curls, and then use my towel to scrunch the water out.

9. In the beginning you can never rely on it looking the same way after a wash.
The hardest part of having curly hair is that everyone is on their own journey.  Let's hold hands.  But the truth is you have to experiment with loads of different products and techniques, you have to try lots of different methods, you have to invest time and thought into it.  I had many months of never really knowing how my hair would look after each wash, which can be tricky.  Every curly head is different (although there are some attempts to define curls in terms of groups, here's a quiz you can do to find out where your curls fit in).  However, the good news is that once you discover your magic combination you can stick with it, and end up with hair that is reliable, and it's so much easier than having to blow dry or straighten it.  Plus you'll have then reached end of your hair journey and achieved something wonderful for the entire world.  Right?

12.  You'll spend a lot of money on conditioner.
Ratio is always 2:1 when it comes to buying conditioner and shampoo.

13. In the morning you have to let it settle.
I would always take it out the pineapple and think it was a ruined mess so I'd try and fix it before leaving the house.  Then one day I took it out and left it for half an hour and realised it just takes time to drop into a normal position.  This was an important lesson.  Especially for a chronic fiddler.

14.  You'll look younger. 
Someone asked me if I was under 14 the other day when I had my hair curly!  UNDER 14?!  I wasn't wearing make up so that probably helped too, but it was one of the best moments of my life.  Then I found three grey hairs and the joy ebbed away slightly, but still!

15.  You will talk about it a lot.
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to my husband, my best friends, my mother and sister, strangers, people on the internet, and anyone else I've ever bored by discussing whatever hair issue I had or had just overcome that week.  I should probably also apologise for this post as I'm still doing it.  And on that note, I'm going to stop.

Friday, 19 December 2014

15 TIMES LORELAI GILMORE WAS AWESOME


I recently finished watching 'Gilmore Girls' for the first time.  Now when someone asks me if they should start watching this TV show classic of the early 2000s, I say immediately, "No.  Absolutely not.  I would not recommend that".  The reason?  Because if you start, you will not be able to stop. For several months I lived in Stars Hollow, the town the Gilmore women call home.  I cried when they cried, my heart would beat faster and faster before every kiss, and I fell completely in love with them both.  Now that's a great thing for a show to have, right?  Characters you adore and want to spend endless amounts of time with?  Well the problem for me was that, since I was coming late to the party, I could spend  - not endless - but seven seasons of time with them.  And I did.  Around season five it got to the point where I was looking forward to it being over, because then I'd be able to get on with my life.  I was so invested in them and their stories that I couldn't give it up, but at the same time I realised that until I finished watching, I wouldn't think about much else.  It was like being addicted to a drug that you know they're going to stop making on a certain date, so you carry on using the drug until then.  And you know it will be hard when you can't get the drug anymore but you're also secretly going to be relieved because being addicted to something is kind of tricky when you need to have a life and see your friends and work and stuff. 

This is one of the best shows I have ever watched, it's funny, it's smart, it's consistently engaging from beginning to end, and I strongly recommend you steer clear of it.

I'm going to be doing a rundown of some of my favourite moments for each character, I warn you this post contains tonnes of spoilers, but that's OK because you're not going to start watching it anyway are you?  ARE YOU?  First up is Lorelai Gilmore, mother to Rory, daughter to Emily and Richard, inn-owner, lover of good men, and coffee addict.  If I ever have kids I will  base my parenting style solely on how she is with Rory, and I say that as someone with incredible parents who I love very much and who, I think, did a great job with me and my sister (although it feels arrogant to say that you've been raised well).  

1.  When she supported Rory's decision to go to Yale, even though she'd always wanted her to go to Harvard.  This was an especially excellent slice of parenting because Rory's grandparents were desperate for her to go to Yale, so naturally that would have made Lorelai feel weird, but she pushed those resentful, rebellious emotions to one side and supported her daughter. 


2.  When she explained to her mother how to use the internet.


3.  When she was estranged from Rory and let her go off and do her own thing, even though her daughter was becoming more and more like the person Lorelai had tried to avoid turning into twenty years earlier.  Seriously, their reunion made me sob with joy more than any other relationship moment in the show.  


4.  When she knew her best friend was pregnant because Sookie's tastebuds stopped working.



5.  Everytime she sassed Luke and further cemented their onscreen relationship as a classic Hollywood couple - the grumpy but dreamy man, and the sharp-witted but vulnerable woman. 


6.  Whenever it snowed. 


7.  When she was at home watching 'A Star Is Born', and Judy Garland is singing 'The Man Who Got Away' and then Luke knocks on the door and...you know. 


8.  The Friday night dinner where she, Rory, Emily and Richard sort out all of their big built up issues.  It's depicted as a long montage, at points they're all shouting, then they're eating sorbet, then they're laughing, then they're fighting again, then they're completely exhausted.  It goes on, and on, and it's one the best bits of TV I've ever seen.  


9. The crazy and creative ways she celebrates her daughter's birthdays. 


10.  How she talks along with every film. 


11.  When she is a super successful business woman and runs her own hotel, but it's no biggy. 


12.  When she eats junk food.  Constantly. 


13.  How she maintains her relationship with her mother, and always bats off Emily's put-downs with sarcasm and a shrug. 


14.  Her love of coffee. "If it was physically possible to make love to a hot beverage, this would be the one"


15. When she frickin' proposes. 


I know I've missed loads, so feel free to add more...

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

BEYOND CLUELESS IN THE UK


'Beyond Clueless', the documentary directed by Charlie Lyne, which we soundtracked, is going to be showing in cinemas around the UK from January the 23rd!  If you want to go and see it you can find out all the info regarding dates on the film's website.  It will also be showing at loads of Picturehouse cinemas on the evening of January 27th.  We love the Picturehouse and the team who work there, so we're all very chuffed about this.

In the meantime you can gaze at this poster created by Charlie and some of the other amazing bods in the 'Beyond Clueless' team.  Sadly Jeremy and I don't have any artistic skills, so we (thankfully) didn't contribute.  I'm totally in awe of their expertise.

Monday, 15 December 2014

ST. LUCIA AND ALICE MCCALL












We've just returned from the dreamiest holiday in St. Lucia (thanks Mum and Dad!) where we stayed in an amazing hotel, with bodacious food, excellent activities - BEACH VOLLEYBALL ANYONE? - and hot, hot, hot sun.  Oh and cats!  So.  Many.  Cats.

The island is beautiful, we took a trip to the rainforest and climbed a zillion feet in a sky gondola, then our guide grabbed starfruit off a tree for us.  I don't ever want to eat fruit in any other way, sorry Sainsbury's.  I packed my new Alice McCALL dress (I don't know why the 'Call' is in Caps, it always makes me feel like I should shout that bit of her name), which is decorated with a watermelon print.  Wow this post is very fruit-heavy.

I have been a long distance admirer of the Australian born designer's clothes, and when I saw this on sale I figured it was finally my chance to own a slice of her particular brand of heaven.  I guess I will have to put it away now until next Summer, but who cares, it's CHRRIIIISSSTTMMAAAAAASSSS.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

TEEN WITCH + JUCE




This isn't really an outfit post, it's a jumper post, because I love this bit of wool a lot.  Especially since it reminds me of one of the greatest films of all time - a movie I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.  It's from ASOS and it's super soft and cosy, I've been wearing it loads around the house.  Also it fulfills a lot of buried desires because I still wish I was a witch.  And a teenager.  Speaking of the occult, have you seen the new video by everyone's new favourite band JUCE?  It's magical.


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD








I'd never made gingerbread before, but it's super easy, you just mix everything together with a bit of egg and golden syrup till it forms a dough, then you roll it out and cut into shapes.  I love baking with golden syrup, it reminds me of being a kid and putting it on my porridge in the morning. I would let it pour off the spoon, transfixed by the caramel ooze slowly dribbling onto the oats.  And consequently would always be late leaving the house for the school run.  These biscuits are great because you can add  more or less cinnamon and ginger, and can use different flavours of icing, next year I want to try lemon.  For decoration I got some christmas cookie cutters and edible silver stars and balls, and melted a lot of dark chocolate.  Some of which was left over and had to be eaten by me.  What a tragedy.

Makes about 30 biscuits.

INGREDIENTS
350g plain flour, with a bit extra for when you're rolling out the dough
175g soft brown sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g butter
3 tsp ground ginger (more or less can be added depending on taste)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Mix together the flour, butter, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon.  Using a food processor or electric beaters, keep mixing until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar.  In a separate bowl mix the egg and the golden syrup together, then pour that into the flour/butter/spices mixture.  Mix it all up until you have a smooth dough.  Put that in the fridge for about 15 minutes while you line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Roll out the dough until it's about 0.5cm thick, and cut out shapes with the cookie cutters.  Keep doing this until you've used up all the dough.  You might have to bake them in several batches - my kitchen was covered in gingerbread christmas trees.  They should only take about 12-15 minutes to cook, and will end up a deep caramel colour.  Take them out the oven and let them stand for about 10 minutes before moving them onto a wire cooling rack.

I decorated mine with dark chocolate - I just melted about 200g and dipped the biscuits into it, then left them to cool on greaseproof paper in the fridge.  I also used glace icing.  I mixed together icing sugar and water till I had quite a thick consistency and then used a spoon to drizzle it over the biscuits.  You could also make buttercream icing and pipe that on, or use different kinds of chocolate.