Monday, 29 December 2008

The Perfect Red

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. My sister, the soon to be Mrs B de M, got me a whole goody bag for Christmas and in it was the perfect red nail varnish. Dovima by Nars is postbox red - not only very festive but it matches my favourite red shoes which I shall be wearing for New Year's Eve. It's also a great excuse for post-Christmas laziness. I'm sitting listening to the Archers on my laptop with my toes in separators waiting for them to dry... bliss xx

Monday, 8 December 2008

Wedding Make-up

Slightly annoying that I can't announce some of the wedding progress on here in case Mr J looks at this - which he does sometimes out of loyalty (Hello!) but... well things are progressing. Last week however whilst going crazy with the scanner in John Lewis for our wedding list I decided I was feeling strong enough to go up to a make-up counter and announce that I was getting married. Well, I wasn't that blunt. I wanted to try out the new Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser and one thing led to another, I mentioned the wedding and the next thing I knew I was trying out primers, foundations and bronzers (with the ever vigilant Mumma B overseeing and giving approval on all three which I promptly purchased but more on that in a bit).

I'm going in for a full make-up trial next week with Sophie - the reason I got lured into this was that Sophie who will be doing my make-up looked fantastic. Here foundation was the perfect shade and I'm afraid that quite often you get accosted at make-up counters by rather terrifying orange people. I ended up spending quite a lot of money there (probably encouraged by my afternoon of scanning barcodes which feels like shopping without spending any money!) and I'm assuming I'll spend some more when I go back but these purchases really have worked. I think this will be my first stop for make-up from now on.

I bought the Laura Mercier Hydrating Foundation Primer which you apply after your moisturiser and before your foundation. It's incredibly light (I worry about suffocating my skin after applying foundation, pore minimiser, primer foundation...) and hydrating and you really notice the even application of foundation after using it. The foundation itself was quite a find. I have pale skin with light brown freckles. This means that pale foundations leave me looking washed out with patches where the freckles are hiding and darker foundations make me look at bit fake tan. I've been using lighter foundations with a touch of Benefit's Talk to the Tan but Laura Mercier's Moisturising Foundation in Warm Ivory really does match my skin colour (we did colour tests) and stays on all day! To give me a touch of colour I bought the Pressed Powder in Golden Bronze. I usually use Benefit's Hula in the summer but it really is too brown for winter. I've been applying this after foundation rather than after complete make-up application so that I can mould it in whilst I go. I love it.
I'm really looking forward to my make-over. I'll let you know how it goes. But if your doing your Christmas shopping and you fancy treating yourself speak to the girls at Laura Mercier and I'm sure they can tempt you into a Christmas present just for you. If you want to buy online go to Space NK xx

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Popping My Cherry

That's what we'll be doing tonight. No I haven't decided to turn this into an intimate and graphic blog the 'cherry' I'm referring too is my Westfield shopping center cherry. I used to live down the road from it and now live slightly further down the road from it so feel that I do really have to go at some point. I'm using Christmas shopping as my excuse and secretly hoping that Mr J will arrive and whisk me off to Yo Sushi (I've got a raw tuna craving). I've heard good things about Westfield... but maybe that had to do with the free champagne that was being handed out (god damnit I missed that) so I'm thinking that it won't be quite as horrific as I'm expecting it to be. Wish me luck - if I never write again I'm still wandering round the Westfield trying to find the exit. Send help xx

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Heroin Diaries

I thought that The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star would not appeal to me as I'm not a fan of heroin. That sounds odd but there is nothing more boring than people (usually boys) telling you proudly how many drugs they've taken in what quantity... blah blah blah. But I was pleasantly surprise. Nikki Sixx is my least favourite member of Motley Crue (bet you didn't know you had to have a favourite member!) but I could not put this book down. It has made me want to go on a bender dressed in leather trousers (I'm just about suppressing this urge)... I would say that a love of rock music is quite a necessity for this book. otherwise you'll be bored by the various Whitesnake, Ratt and New York Dolls references. Go get it, it's great (as is The Dirt - Motley Crue: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band) xx

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Pretty Polly

This may not necessarily be the time of year to be concentrating on your legs but I guess it is the time of year for tights and so, in a way, we will still be getting our legs out and we all need a little help when they have been deprived of the sun for... well basically all year. Pretty Polly have not only launched the new Pretty Polly Love Legs Prepare to Bare collection but they have taken it one step further and have staged a protest against cosmetic surgery on Harley Street. Models paraded down the road in tights lead by 'Coleen's Real Women' winner Sasha Parker. OK so they are models which means they are unlikely to need cosmetic surgery in the first place but taking over the streets clad only in skimpy tops and tights is one way of getting noticed! With short skirts, tights and boots being prominent this winter you've got to keep those legs looking presentable.

So for the last two weeks I've been using the Pretty Polly Lock in Moisturising Leg Oil (£9) which is lovely and actually very non-greasy for a leg oil. I'm not sure it is better than This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil 120ml (£32) although I do think it is a little less greasy and is absorbed quicker but if your dry legs aren't that bad this is a fantastic cheaper alternative. This is great post shaving - use on slightly damp skin the mixture of coconut oil, passion flower and vitamin E not only locks in moisture but soothes dry skin.

The Rich Leg Mask (£9) - this is the only product of its kind. It contains hydrating clays and minerals to nourish and moisturise your legs. Use once a week and you can really feel the difference. And, its the perfect excuse to sit and read for 10 minutes!!

The Pretty Polly Secret Slimmer tights are amazing. I wore them to a wedding recently. Wintry wedding what do you wear? I found a great Audrey Hepburn style dress in LK Bennett which is knee length and has quite a lot of black on it. To avoid looking like I was mourning the loss of the groom to single women I wore natural colour Pretty Polly Secret Slimmer (£4) tights which are built to flatten your tummy. These were the perfect colour and thank goodness for the flattener. I bought the dress a couple of months ago and had definitely more tummy than before. Mr J admitted they were not the most ravishing he'd ever seen me in. In fact he made me stand in my nude tummy flattening tights in my nude seam free M&S underwear and nude bra whilst he rolled around laughing... thank goodness it's too late for him to retract the proposal!! The best thing about these tights was that I forgot I was wearing them they were so comfortable (and I usually hate wearing tights!).

I'm left wanting to try more - the Nourishing Leg Shaving Butter looks fantastic (you can use it on dry legs - perfect for when you realise that you haven't shaved just before you leave the house) and the Moisturising Exfoliating Leg Wipes which are great for a holiday. I've still got the Invigorating Leg Scrub (it can be also be used to exfoliate your back) and the Soothing Leg Gel perfect for energising tired aching limbs, at home to try so I'm looking forward to a winter of luscious legs. xx

Monday, 10 November 2008

Dry Skin Rears its Ugly Head

I've mentioned this before I have terrible trouble with dry skin bumps on tops of my arms and thighs. Thus far I have tried most kinds of exfoliators, oils and moisturisers to get rid of them and although I have succeeded in softening them up a bit after one day of lapsing they are back in force. I mentioned this whilst having a pedicure at Essence Beauty Rooms in Hammersmith and was recommended Environ's Derma-Lac Lotion. I nearly didn't get it as I have tried so many products that haven't worked and it is around £32 but I need to get this sorted out before I get married so I'll give it a go. I work close enough to the Essence Beauty Rooms to go in and complain if this doesn't work.

Its designed to treat rough, dry skin specifically feet and elbows and so far (fingers crossed) it really seems to be working. I've been using an exfoliating cloth in the bath and then applying the Derma-Lac with cotton wool. Although it was pretty pricey it should be used within 6-8 weeks so I feel that that's a fair trial period. After that I'm going to leave it for a week and see if they come back just as bad as they ever were. If they are reasonably fine still then I'm going to continue using this because so far the results have been fantastic. xx

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Good Choice

I have to say that to my own detriment I am not a big follower of politics. Don’t get me wrong as long as I am able I will always vote and in the run up to any elections I do make sure I am up to speed on who’s saying what. So I was surprised that I was as caught up in the American elections as I ended up being. Mr S came round last night and we ate chicken nuggets and watched the votes coming in and I did find it exciting and I was pleased that Obama will be the next American President. Although I do find myself being slightly doubtful of any promises in the back of my head (surely that’s what all politicians do when they want to be or have just been elected into office) I have more faith in Obama than my rational self would normally allow. I actually had a tear in my eye in the bath this morning whilst listening to the speech Obama made this morning. What triggered it? Obama thanking his wife ‘the rock of our family and the love of my life’ and telling his children that they had earned the puppy that would be moving with them to the White House. I don’t know why but that instilled more confidence in me then anything else because it reminded me of how normal he and his family are (even under the circumstances). Also its hard not to notice just how damn cool he is... Go team Obama xx

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


I know I always say this and maybe it’s just because I love cookbooks so much but the Leon: Ingredients and Recipes book written by Allegra McEvedy (award-winning chef and cookery writer) is really beautiful. Its lovely just to look at and feel and flick through but it also contains some useful foody information and delicious recipes. Leon has revolutionised fast food as we know it. Not only are the restaurants friendly and relaxing but the food combines the two fundamental Leon principles; tastes good and does you good.

It’s split into two halves; Ingredients and food info on the front teaching you about the basic building blocks of cooking, and the recipes in the back. But that’s not it in the middle there is a tear out Seasonality Chart telling you what’s in season when and some cool Leon stickers in the back. My only problem with this book is that the type and page layout can sometimes be a bit small, jumbled and off putting. I don’t think this will actually cause anyone any problems; it just seems a little daunting when you are flicking through. However, this is a cookbook that you really want to read. There is even a buying guide (what to look for) and a directory for where to get things in the back.

It’s really wonderful to see really original recipes not just the revamped standards which you can find filling an apparently new cookbook (not that I’m completely adverse to revamped old style recipes!). What I love is the simplicity of the recipes – there is no pretension here you feel that you can do this, that you are about to embark upon a recipe that a friend has passed on on a scrap of paper with the advice that it’s ‘really easy’. A great example of this is the Hummus recipe. How many of these have we seen? Hundreds and they are all slightly different. This one takes up a ¼ of a page and uses the standard ingredients. Nice and simple and enables you to go off on your own tangent if you are that way inclined. All too often now recipes have been fiddled about with so much you feel that you have to stick to exactly what’s on the page. For those of you who like a more structured adventurousness there is Roasted Garlic and Pumpkin Hummus just below!

One of the great and most useful sections at this time of year is the section on soups. We are all feeling the crunch and the cold and there is nothing better for your wallet, lurgy and soul than a nice home-made soup. You can make it on Sunday night and take it to work for lunch during the week and feel full and soothed as a result. They are divided into seasons so you know what’s available when although in this day and age you can get most things at just about any time of year its often more rewarding to be using the right ingredients for the season – it often leads to a surprisingly more adventurous life in the kitchen too. Their Tom (Really) Yum Soup (in the spring section) can be frozen so is a perfect lunch treat. The picture of it is mouth watering. But the soup that I’ll be making asap (I’m suffering with the work cold at the moment) is the Good Soup for a Bad Day which is basically a chicken, pearl barley, mushroom and tarragon soup – you almost start feeling better just looking at it!

Leon: Ingredients and Recipes is a riot of colour and pictures, put together by friends and family you feel like you being let in to an inner circle, and being shown the tricks and secrets they use in the kitchen. Whether you are making the Love Me Tender Ribs, Fred’s Millennium Octopus or simply a Chocolate Milkshake this book instills confidence and enthusiasm. A perfect present for any foody or fan of the shops, even if you are only going to treat yourself to one cookbook this year let it be this one xx
Leon: Ingredients and Recipes (£20) is published by Conran Octopus.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Buff Myself Beautiful

I've decided to jump in feet first and immerse myself in this whole wedding thing. Imagine my horror when flicking through a magazine I found that '6-9 months before' my wedding I'm supposed to start toning and buffing myself beautiful. I've always suffered from dry skin on the tops of my arms. Although this goes down with a lot of exfoliating they never vanish completely (people who touch my arms think I have goose bumps) so I'm determined to find something to make them go away for good. Or at least for a while.

But what about the rest of me? currently a stone and a half over weight and not in the most toned of condition I bought myself a back scrubber, a cellulite brush, a exfoliating mitt and Clarins Total Body Lift Stubborn Cellulite cream. Not only have I bought them I'm determined to use them every day (I always run out of steam after the first week or so!). I'm gearing myself up to take some before and after photo's. Possible a little daunting to air ones flaws on the Internet but how amazing would it be to find a product that actually works... and if anything will surely Clarins are the ones to make it! xx

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Surprisingly I think it's going to take a while before I brazenly walk into department stores or up to make up counters and announce that I'm getting married. Apparently I will get to a stage where I do this and get fussed over and it actually makes things easier but at the moment I'm still a little nervy.

However, in Selfridges at the moment you can get your nails done for free and continue shopping afterwards without fear of smudges or getting varnish on that really expensive hat you were just trying on but costs more than four months salary. Marian Newman one of the UK's foremost nail experts has come up with a new product that not only literally dries hard in 90 seconds but also doesn't damage your nail or cause nightmares when removing. And now after years in the field she has developed Marian Newman: Nails. The Inks.

The Inks make colouring nails easy and accessible to more women. It is more immediate, and more disposable but still has the ability to stay on if the wearer wants it to. It is not intended to take the place of traditional nail polish but it is a fantastic alternative for the busy person who doesn't have the time nor the inclination to perform the nail polish ritual.

Ok so that was from the press release but its all true. I was a little bit wary about getting my nails done. I was looking for a cream hat for a November wedding and didn't want to be charged for the five hats I tried on and then got nail varnish on. But it does what it says on the packaging. First my nails were buffed. But not like they normally are. This was just a one sided buffer rather than the usual three way one and this really did make my nails shine. That's all very well I thought but as I found out later, this was the real thing.

Choosing colours was difficult - I usually go for a very light pink colour on my finger nails as I hate dramatic chipping but I went for a lilac silver colour - I mean, this stuff is supposed to come of really easily so whats the problem having a wackier colour for once? The pen applicator is a lot like Touche Eclait or other pen concealers and is just fantastic for application. Any bits that get on the skin or cuticles around your nails wipes off easily with a wet wipe and you really only need one application. You then apply the top coat which shines and hardens the nails and your nails are literally touch dry in 20 seconds and rock hard in 90. There was no smudging or dents and when I removed the varnish the next day it just wiped off with a bit of nail varnish remover. My nails are still feeling conditioned and shiny after the buffer and nail sensitive colour.

This is just what you need if you just don't have the time or the patience to put up with the constant base coat, top coat and intermediate layers and blowing of standard nail varnish. You could apply this on the tube with no problem and the range of colours go from the more demure pinks to the more ravishing oranges and purples. Really worth a try! xx

Thursday, 2 October 2008


I was half way through another post when Mr J surprised me on Tuesday with a bended knee, whopping ring and a request to marry him. Which I accepted. So the post got put on hold. As has pretty much anything else whilst I sit an look at the sparkles on my left hand and have panic attacks about being asked already when, where, in what etc. Anyway, a post is to follow I promise. Thank goodness I'm going to get the ring made one size smaller next week - it might encourage me to get stuff done!! xx

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Holiday Benefits

I don't know what it is about Benefit. Are the girls who work there are trained to tell when I'm vulnerable? do they send out chemical signals that makes me open my wallet? Before going on holiday I went to Boots on High St Kensington to get my top up of HydraQuench Cream by Clarins (which has changed... I don't like change but I'm sure this will be just as good as it always was). I already had everything else I needed for my holiday (it's amazing what you find when you are moving house. In my case 4 boxes of products. Mr J was pleased). The Boots on High Street Ken is a terrifying honey trap for those of us who think that a new item of make-up is a necessity and I couldn't believe it when I resisted the Clarins facial bronzers and the only Origins outlet for miles around. The door was in sight and then... I got sucked into the Benefit counter. I should have kept my head down but I made the mistake of making eye contact and that was that.

I was feeling pretty low. I miss my long blonde locks and hate this mildly washed out ginger state that I'm destined to live in until my natural hair colour wins the fight (please win!). The thought of a little spruce up was too good to miss so I allowed myself to be pressed into a chair and things put on my face. A wiser person would have absorbed that and then made their excuses but not I. Yes I know that when I get home to apply my new purchases they will look nothing like they did in the shop but I find myself getting them anyway. Nor do I think to myself about what the little restraints in the product department could lead to in the fashion department. I decided on two things... if I bought four then I got £10 worth of points on my boots card. This to me seems like a fantastic idea, nevermind that £40 not spent is worth more than points I can only use to buy more products.

So what did I leave with?
  • Talk to the Tan - a facial bronzer that can either be mixed with your moisturiser or foundation or you can just use to highlight. I found it most useful post holiday when I always have a big non-freckled patch at the top of my nose from my sunglasses. It also neutralises any under eye concealers that can sometimes make me look a bit odd (once again due to the influx of freckles on my cheeks post holiday). It's £19.50 but you don't need to use very much so hopefully it will last a while. What is great is that you also don't need to be scared of it - I have yet to make myself orange!

  • Erase Paste - having been a devotee of Bo-oing for the last 6 or so years I was reluctant to try anything else. I really hate the blue bags under my eyes and Bo-oing is the only thing that comes close to fixing them. It is quite thick however so I let the make over girl try some one me. It's 'brightening camouflage for eyes and face'. Its really creamy and blendable and actually is really good. I'm not sure it gets rid of the blue as good as Bo-oing so I am still using a tiny bit of that underneath and then the Erase Paste which is really smooth and actually does reflect light (something I always thought was rather mythical before). It's pretty steep at £18.50 but again you really don't use very much of this at a time so will hopefully earn its keep! it's also fab for using around your nose to minimise any redness.

  • Talent Brush - it's all very well having the Erase Paste but with what should I apply it? I really love Benefit brushes. They are the perfect size and usually do exactly what is required of them. I was advised that the Talent Brush was actually better than the more expensive Concealer Brush (£14.50) and can be used on eyes and lips too. For some reason this is not currently available on the website but I think it was about £12.50 and is great for any application (although i still swear by the Fluff Brush £13.50 for eyeshadow application).

  • F.Y...Eye - is a nude primer for the eyes. A devotee of Lemon Aid which is still unbeatable if you have stains or dark patches on your eyelids but this is unlike any primer I've used before. It feels (and looks) completely matte and although still doesn't succeed in the impossible (keeping my eyeshadow on completely) it does a pretty good job at it and is great for a slight neutralisation of colour. Once again a seemingly steep price for such a small pot but only a tiny amount is needed.

I was a bit dubious about the Talk to the Tan at first - I mean how often do you need highlighting tan? but since I've returned from holiday I've been mixing it in with some of my paler foundations and it really works at darkening them up slightly but not losing the nice consistency and finish of the foundation.
To top it all off I was a very lucky girl and as payment for hauling ass to Wiltshire and driving my sister to a wedding she got me Lust Duster a fantastic loose power for eyes and face. This is great and although comes in loads of different colours my favourite is Snow Bunny as this can be used on the cheekbones and brow bones as a highlighter which is a great and simple addition to your make-up if you are going out after work xx

Monday, 15 September 2008

I'm Back!

From a fantastic holiday in the South of France. It was so relaxing and just what I needed after a frantic week moving. We did a lot of eating and drinking (Mr J was allowed to stay for a week before being sent home to make me a nest in his father's basement... which he did superbly). Am now back on the house hunt and Beziers seems like a long time ago but as I was frantically flipping through my diary I came across the card for one of the culinary highlights of the trip, l'Orb Restaurant.

About 20 minutes outside of Beziersthis little gem has just been opened by two English guys who tired of the B&B trade in England and have moved to France and opened a restaurant almost by accident. It was by luck that we went here - it is pretty difficult to find anywhere for supper on a Sunday night in France and Papa B thought that this one would probably be a safe bet but we had already tried one advertised as open on a Sunday but firmly closed when we arrived. As you drive into the square at Cessenon-sur-Orb you are drawn to the little green lights and square tables of L'Orb restaurant. We were starving and would have fallen on a croque monsieur but the food here was exceptional possibly the best of the whole holiday and all from two people who had never run a restaurant before and were still in their first month of opening.
The Verrine of brouse de brebis and pea guacamole was a highlight of the starters - it was like nothing I've had before and was the perfect size - too often you seem to get faced with a starter the size of a main course! I had a beautiful smoked salmon mousse which I'm a pretty harsh judge on as it's one of my favourite things. What was so fantastic about this one was the little flakes of salmon throughout adding a bit of texture. Now I don't eat rabbit so I am not really qualified to comment but dining with two people who are fans and according to whom the rabbit with new potatoes and vegetables was close to perfect - uncomplicated and tasty and again not in a daunting size.
Its sounds a bit pathetic but I can base my love or hate of a restaurant on a very small thing. The cheese board. And this one was exceptional. Small taster portions of brie and three regional cheeses including Cantal my favourite. The menu was so well thought out and prepared. We were happily full, not overloaded and groaning. I can't recommend this restaurant highly enough - I know it seems a bit sad to be raving about a restaurant run by English people when you are in France but this is the perfect combination of French and English food, presented with a flourish and served with a smile xx

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Pretty Feet

To celebrate our birthdays Miss F and I went for a Champagne Pedicure at Savana Spa in Westbourne Park. For £60 and 60 minutes you get the works all whilst sipping on a glass of champagne - what really clinched the decision for us was that you get to sit together which is actually quite a rarity! We arrived in our flip flops filled out the massive questionnaire and tried not to get too giggly. We were sat opposite each other which although was better than not sitting together at all made us feel like we were dominating the whole of the spa and talking over the tops of the pedicurists heads. Which we were. I hate to be anything other than gushingly positive about places like this because frankly I wouldn't want to be faced with dealing with someone elses feet for an hour but although this pedicure was fine it wasn't amazing and I'm pretty sure not worth the £60.

The nail painting was and is beautifully done. Nearly a week later having been barefoot through sand and be-flip flopped for most of the time not only is there not a chip in sight but they are still really shiny. For me the important thing is the massage of which there was barely a rub. I looked on enviously at Miss F's 1 minute massage and wished I could ask for longer but I'm British, and she'd already started applying the varnish.

The file was not vigorous enough either - both of us had dry skin left over afterwards although the hot foot soak with oats was lovely and really did soften our feet up. However, I can paint and soak my feet myself but rubbing and filing are not so easy. Miss F did manage to finally track down the most orange of orange nail varnishes - you can now see her feet coming from miles away. I really loved the experience but we'll be trying Miss F's usual place in the months to come to see how their £20 one compares. A little too favourably I think... xx


Wednesday, 20 August 2008

On the Move

It's a pretty busy time of year. It was Mr J's birthday yesterday so spent the weekend shopping for him and wrapping pausing briefly to cook spag bol for some friends on Saturday night. It's my birthday tomorrow so I'm decadently going home tonight (after a birthday pedicure with Miss F) to spend the day with Mumma and Papa B and then whizzing off to Norfolk for hopefully a weekend in the sun. This may sound like a lot of fun, and it is but it is all under the cloud of knowledge that I should really be packing up and sorting out my stuff as I'm moving in with Mr J and seem to have accumulated more possessions than anyone would ever need.... hence the silence. And I'm going away for two weeks on the 31st. It's going to be a busy couple of weeks xx

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer

The Gentle Art of Domesticity is an incredibly original and beautiful book. Ideas like that are not two a penny so I kind of assumed that Jane Brocket had found her niche and would stay in that area. But I was wrong Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats is not only completely different but is such an original idea I wondered how it hadn't been done before. This is the perfect book for mothers with young children, young children themselves, or indeed anyone who loved Enid Blyton and long for life to be picnics with tartan blankets and lashings of Ginger Beer.

'A wonderfully nostalgic cookery book, it will take you straight back to your favourite children's books and show you how to cook the feel-good foods that feature so strongly in them. So you'll find recipes for Milly Molly Mandy's Treacle Tart, a Swallows and Amazons Boat Breakfast, the Famous Five Fruit Cake and St Clare's Eclairs amongst others'.

Not only is this a nostalgic treat for adults it will inspire children to read and take an interest in food and cooking. I'm desperate to try Mrs Persimmon's Crumpets, Jeremy and Jemima's More-Jam-Than-Puff Jam Puffs and the Gorgeous Ginger Beer. Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer is guaranteed to bring out the old school domestic goddess in you, and make you very popular with your friends!! xx

Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats is published by Hodder and Stoughton

Monday, 28 July 2008

Inappropriate Behaviour

Maggie Thatcher - you either love her or you hate her... but does that mean that we should be discussing her funeral arrangements on the TV and radio whilst she sits at home still very much with us? How would you feel if people were discussing whether or not you deserved a certain kind of funeral whilst you were still around. How depressing. And all the while yet another person is getting stabbed for no reason. Surely there are more important things to be thinking about?
To get over it I had to go and buy myself Maybelline's new Define-a lash volume mascara - I love the original so am v excited about trying this out. The more volume the better! xx

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Seeing the Wood for Floozies

What the hell is Ronnie Wood doing? In fact, no that's unfair, what the hell does Ekaterina Ivanova think she's doing. Meddling with an institution that's what. Ronnie is back in rehab having once again fallen off the wagon - no surprises there - and shacked up with a Russian 19 year old. All over the papers Katia's mother is cashing in claiming that nothing sexual is going on, now she's saying definitely something sexual was going on. Then that it's got nothing to do with his money whilst in the same sentence complaining that her 19 year old daughter is only getting £300 a day for modeling for his paintings. She is also saying how degrading it is for her daughter to have to pose nude and how Ronnie is taking advantage of her. One question for you - what the hell is your 19 year old daughter doing in an escort club (where she met Ronnie) if she is so damn innocent?

This whole sordid affair is ruining one of the most respected marriages in rock history. Jo and Ronnie have been together for 23 years - she's stuck by him through countless bouts of drinking and rehab and the occasional indiscretion of the trouser department, yet he is still stupid enough to lose his head over a 19 year old gold digger. Will men ever learn? Being with you for 23 years breeds a loyalty that no floozy will have. When the going gets tough the twinky gets going and then you'll have to slink back on your knees and hope that the woman who knows you for what you are can forgive you. To top it all off I think Jo still knocks spots of the Russian - Katia doesn't even come close.

Speaking of twinkies. Who remembers Sienna Miller saying that Daisy, the errant nanny who was all too tempting for Jude can't-keep-it-in-his-pants Law, had better watch out and hope that she didn't bump into Sienna in a dark alley. Its wonderful to know that Sienna has learnt from that experience. She has such empathy that she has no qualms about running about with Balthazar Getty who's wife has fled with their 8 month old daughter after pictures of Sienna smooching her husband have been plastered all over the press for weeks. Does she not realise that she is even worse than the nanny - Getty is not only married but a new father and all Sienna's weak bleating that they are just friends means nothing when coupled with pictures of her draping her semi-nude form all over him at every available opportunity. I know she took the Jude thing hard but she clearly learnt nothing from the experience at all. xx

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The Kitchen Revolution

Right - it is finally here. The perfect cook book for everyone. Whether you are terrified of cooking or a cooking goddess who just have too much on to pore over hundreds of recipes The Kitchen Revolution: A Year of Time-and-money-saving Recipes by Rosie Sykes, Polly Russell and Zoe Heron is 'a foolproof way to get fabulous food on the table, save money and reduce waste'. It not only offers over 300 fantastic recipes but gives you a complete system for daily cooking with weekly menus, shopping lists, recipes for using leftovers and freezing things in advance and is based on feeding four people for £50-£60 a week.

Devised by three friends - Rosie Sykes the Guardian's Kitchen Doctor and has worked in the kitchens of some of the UK's greatest chefs she now runs the cooking at the Olde Bell Inn, Hurley. Polly Russell is taking a PhD research on food and the politics of identity, has cooked in restaurants and is currently working as a Content Specialist at the British Library. Zoe Heron is the muse for this book. An award-winning documentary producer, whose ineptitude in the kitchen inspired Rosie and Polly to create The Kitchen Revolution. She helped to develop the recipes and changed her culinary life. These three busy women have developed 'The System' a way to make every bit of cooking easier - from deciding what to cook, to actually doing the shopping, to making the most of your ingredients, fridge and freezer whilst minimising waste.

So what's The System? 'A way to plan the week's meals to allow for lazy days as well as cooking days, to cut down on the work in the kitchen and to make the most of seasonal food'. The best thing is that it's totally flexible - even though the monthly format can seem quite restrictive this in fact just helps you see what's available and in season. The meals are divided up so that every week you cook one 'big meal from scratch' the most labour intensive meal, two 'something from nothing' meals using up the leftovers in an appetising way, one 'seasonal supper' quick, simple and fresh, one 'larder feast' made primarily from store cupboard ingredients on those bare=fridge days, one 'two for one' comforting and dependable you eat half and freeze half and one 'lazy day supper' a 'defrosted two for one'. It's The System where Zoe comes into her own she is the one 'living the system' which she did for a year so that it's perfectly tweaked and adapted. She says its 'transformed her life in the kitchen'.

I could rave about the wonderful intricacies of this book for hours (their basics section sent me into a nesting frenzy) but The System just wouldn't work if you don't like the recipes. And these recipes are fabulous. Not only is there something for everyone but there are perfect balances of meals throughout the week. Having sat a dribbled my way through this entire book I've already picked out a few that I'm going to try asap. Hoisin Chicken Wraps with Noodle Salad (a Something for Nothing recipe from July's week 2), Vietnamese Beef Salad (another Something from Nothing) and Smoked Mussel Spaghetti (one of Octobers Larder Feasts). Even traditional dishes such as Roast Beef get a mouth watering twist to Roast Beef with a Pepper crust, Garlic New Potatoes and Green Bean and Red Onion Salad (July week 3's Big Meal from Scratch).

From the traditional to the exotic this is the most user friendly exciting cookbook I've seen for sometime. Everything about it is new and exciting and I challenge anyone to be disappointed. xx

The Kitchen Revolution: A Year of Time-and-money-saving Recipes is published by Ebury Press

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Taking Action

Right. That's it! I've had enough of my unattractive muffin tops and spare tyre. It has got to go. So, on the advice of the wonderful Miss W personal trainer and general health wonder I'm taking two weeks off carbs. Two whole weeks with no pasta, bread, rice even fruit juice! It sounds like torture but apparently I will see the results and it will all be worth it. It better be. If I see anymore four year old photos of me looking thinner, blonde and fabulous I'll explode!

So what did I do this morning? I had a bagel for my breakfast. It's our anniversary on Friday and then we are spending the weekend with my parents. I can't see myself going carb free for anniversary supper or missing out of any of The Mumma's cooking so the diet starts Monday. So this morning I thought I would indulge myself (and my hang over) with one last breakfast treat (Oi Bagel is the bane of my life!). I'll keep you posted on how the torture is going xx

P.S I would like to point out that this is not a healthy diet. You do need carbs and by missing them out completely you do sacrifice a balanced diet. Fruit for instance is a no go on the no carbs diet, hence why I am only doing this for two weeks and will then be back on the health kick. xx

Friday, 20 June 2008

Atmosphere Live at Koko

Having thought about it for the last 12 hours I really do think that last night seeing Atmosphere at Koko was the best gig I've been to. I really do. Joining forces with Brother Ali, Ant and Sean were on fantastic form combining old favourites with tracks from their new album. Unfortunately as usual Mr J can put it in better words than I can so check out his review here. xx

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Daddy Dearest

Just after Father's Day it is lovely to hear that Jamie Spears is spending a lot of time with his troubled eldest child. He's 'conversing' a lot with his Britney in the evenings as well as doing the (some) shopping and cooking (supper) for her (sometimes). He's really doing his fatherly duty... or so it would seem until you realise that he is insisting on being paid £1,250 per week to do it, and from her estate!

How sweet - a father being paid to spend time with and look after his troubled child. It warms your heart doesn't it xx

Monday, 16 June 2008

Veet Veet

When I was asked to test drive the new Veet in shower hair removal cream with Shea Butter and Lily. I was more than a little dubious. Naturally dark haired with roots that I think must have been inherited from some former monkey relative even waxers have a tough time with my bikini line (I'm sorry I know that that is too much information but that's the area I'm going to test the Veet on). You should leave it on for 3 to 6 minutes (6 minutes being the absolute maximum) and you get in the shower after 1 minute and do what you do once you're in there, trying not to get too much water on the cream. You then use the rough side of the sponge (that comes in the cap of the cream, before you do what I do and assume you haven't been given one) to remove the cream in circular motions. I didn't abide by these laws exactly.

I was at my parents house which has no technical shower but has a shower attachment so I put the cream on waited 4 minutes and then clambered into the bath to use the old school stand-in-bath-and-shower technique. I started to use the sponge assuming that nothing would happen and low-and-behold the hairs started to come away. And not just a sparse few, a lot of hairs came away. I was really impressed with the final result. This cream really does work and, as someone with sensitive skin I had no adverse reaction to it. OK so its not as good as waxing and I did get stubble after a couple of days BUT the stubble was smoother (unlike the stubble that appears after shaving) and this is so much cheaper than waxing it's unbelievable. It's about £5.99 for 150ml which will last quite a while. I definatly recommend this even if you are a dedicated waxer like me this will tide you over the poorer times and those days when you just need a bit of a tidy up. Full thumbs up xx

Monday, 9 June 2008

Giving Councils a Bad Name

Now I hate to be jumping on any bandwagons here but has anyone ever met a nice, sensible parking warden (I forget what their new name is... as I assume has everyone else. Parking enforcement officer?). I have to say that there have been times that I have argued and won against a perfectly fairly awarded parking ticket and this may be my karmic retribution, but my most recent one is so unfair that I thus far have not been able to bring myself to pay it (and yes i know this will bite me in the ass come the 13th which is, unsurprisingly, the date that they fine goes up to £100).

If anything could make it worse it was that I was parked outside Mr J's house in order to go to B&Q to get the necessary equipment to decorate his father's kitchen whilst said father was away for a week. I do not know how painters and builders are not like bean poles. It was hard enough loading the paint in the car let alone moving the furniture, painting the three coats (high ceilings and all), sanding and varnishing the floors and then moving all the furniture back. I just hope he likes it! xx

Monday, 2 June 2008

A Table in the Tarn

A Table in the Tarn: Living, Eating and Cooking in South-west France is not your normal cookbook. It reads like a cross between Grand Designs and A Year in Provence it is the story of Living, Eating and Cooking South-west France. From the first page you are longing to visit the beautiful Manoir in Raynauds if not find your own dilapidated farmhouse and do your own renovation. Written by Orlando Murin who packed in his job as editor of BBC Good Food to start his glorious B&B with his partner Peter Steggall, A Table in the Tarn is filled with beautiful photographs and the gorgeous recipes. Rather than throwing you straight into the recipes this book takes you through the whole process from finding the Manoir to renovating it and introduces you to the cast of characters featured throughout the book. Written with great humour and flair this is a book that you will want to sit down and read like a novel.

With fantastic recipes from herb omelette's stuffed with ricotta and mushroom and onion marmalade tartlets, to fillet of Dover sole in horseradish sauce and twice-baked garlic souffles. The main courses including crisp roast duck with olives, spiced pork belly with onion confit and saddle of lamb stuffed with Agen prunes and rosemary will really get your juices going. And to top it all off there's dark and deadly chocolate mousse, peach-almond crumble and apple-cinnamon crostata. This is the perfect present for any foodies and those who dream of escaping to sunnier climes xx

Friday, 23 May 2008

Shock to the System

It's a bit of a shock to the system being back in the office after a week away. The first shock being landing in Rome airport to see suitcases lying on the runway - and I don't mean where the bags are unloaded (although there were some bags and prams lying nearish there too). Mr J and I immediately started praying for the safe return of our bags. This is where they sent the luggage after the terminal five fiasco. No wonder hardly anybody got their bags back. Even so I have spent most of this week thinking to myself 'this time last week....' (this time last week we were sunbathing in beautiful Taormina).

I'd done a bit of shopping in Sicily - the ceramics there are fantastic and having bought a birthday present for my sister and some presents for my parents and Miss F and having been bought a spectacular and extravagant bowl by Mr J as my holiday treat (as if the holiday itself wasn't enough) my hand luggage felt like a time bomb. I couldn't stand anyone to be within 1 metre of me in case anything broke. I think everything was fine but the bowl seems to have completed my set of kitchen things I've been accumulating over the last couple years and now I just can't wait to have my own kitchen. Chance will be a fine thing at the rate we get paid. I don't think we'll ever be able to find somewhere within our budget and specifications. But it's official the search is on so any suggestions...

What did help ease us back into things was a delicious supper at Chisou just off Hanover Square in central London. This is (probably) the best sushi I have ever tasted. It was my sister's birthday yesterday and it is family tradition to go for a sushi blowout for her birthday supper as it's her favourite. We'd never been to Chisou before but it was tracked down by her boyfriend and we left feeling completely full and very happy but also wanting to just wait another hour until we could have another round (the kitchen had closed so we would have been disappointed). This is not the cheapest of restaurants but it is definitely worth every penny my sister and Mumma B the sushi experts were both seriously impressed so I can but hope that someone sees fit to take me back there xx

Monday, 19 May 2008

Sicily and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher

Mr J and I have just returned from a fantastic week in Sicily. It did rain on and off for the first four days that we were there which was annoying but this did mean that we did a lot of sight seeing and the initially rather expensive hire car paid for itself with our tours of what seemed like the entire east coast.

The best bit was definitely arriving in our final destination, Taormina and our last hotel Hotel Villa Carlotta which is by far the most fantastic hotel I have ever been too. If you are wanting a romantic weekend away this would be a great choice with a lovely roof terrace restaurant, garden bar and beautiful rooms it wasn't exactly cheap but the situation was unbeatable too. Taormina is a beautiful town on a hill overlooking the sea (the hotel has a private beach). I did rather freak out when we left our restaurant on the second night to see Etna oozing lava in the distance but apparently it does that quite a lot.

As soon as we arrived at the Hotel Villa Carlotta I insisted on lying on my sun lounger in silence so that I could finish my book, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: Or the Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale. An investigation into the true and shocking Road Hill House Murder - one of the first murder investigations to involve detectives and and seen to invade into the lives and home of an upper class family. Using police notes and accounts of the time this is a genuine insight and assessment of a gruesome story that was never quite solved. I could not put this book down - the only bad thing about it was I struggled to find any book to follow it up with (thank god for John Irving). I really thought that it would be more miss than hit on the fact front and would be pretty inconclusive. But I was completely wrong. I really recommend this book it will appeal to everyone especially fans of non-fiction and crime. Endlessly compelling this book will keep your mind occupied for weeks after you've finished it xx

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Book Worm

Miss M and I are trying to be more virtuous... there has even been talk of jogging but that has yet to be put into action. We have however joined the library.

It was Miss M's idea and I'm always easily persuaded into anything so I went along. Miss M says her flat is just too small for any more books and I've worked in the book industry for three years which means that my room is barely accessible from the book high risers all over the place. It was also a novelty for both of us to go to a library and not get out theological books from the 18th century (university library that is...). It was actually very calming to mooch around the shelves and inhale the musty old book wafts. I highly recommend it. Will have to get back to you about the jogging (last discussed whilst eating an entire brie) xx

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I have only pre-ordered two things in my life. Juno - which is one of the best films I've seen for years and the new Atmosphere album When Life Gives You a Lemon You Paint That Shit Gold: Deluxe Edition. The exciting thing about pre-ordering is that just when you've kind of forgotten that they are ever going to exist they arrive in the post like a present. The bad thing is - that to pre-order something means you must really want it. And patience is not a virtue I possess.

Thankfully the Atmosphere album was well worth the wait. As usual this album is completely different from its predecessors. Based on fictionally stories thought up by the ever prolific Slug and smoothly produced by Ant, When Life Gives You a Lemon You Paint That Shit Gold: Standard Edition sounds like nothing they've ever done before - but in a good way. My favourite tracks are Puppets, Yesterday and The Waitress which are definitely the 'sing along' tracks on the album. It hasn't been out of my CD player since it arrived and prompted me to immediately search for (and find) tickets to their show in June at KoKo where they will be playing with Brother Ali. I seriously recommend going (if tickets are still available). You will definitely get your £15.50 worth - available through (the best events website in London) xx

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Sucked In

If it is this month that I am declared bankrupt then I shall be holding Miss M a little responsible. We took the day off work on Thursday to go shopping. It sounds extravagant but with both of us working in badly paid industries we both rather felt like we have been constantly on a strict budget since leaving university. So we wandered through Selfridges and manged to restrain ourselves although, for me, the beauty counters are like heaven. We nipped into Boots on our way to Yo Sushi for some lunch, just to pick up some L'Oreal SuperLiner for me when lo and behold we get waylaid by the Benefit girls wanting us to try thinks. Stronger women than us would have kept on walking but next thing I knew I was at the till with Dr Feelgood, Hollywood Glow, and That Gal. They didn't even have any of the eyeliner left!

Both of us are aware that quite often with Benefit they look great but don't actually do anything. Miss M got off lightly by getting That Gal and Lemon Aid - the latter I swear by and use every day. As for the former... I'm not so sure it does anything. It's a primer which goes on before your foundation to brighten your face and keep your make-up on. Whilst it may keep my make-up on I can't say I've noticed any brightening... but then again it's hard to tell under bright office lights what's going on! But for £19.50 I want to see some difference!

Dr Feelgood (£19.50) is supposed to give you a smooth matte finish when applied over your make-up. However, the girl in the shop informed me that she uses hers underneath her foundation. This does seem more sensible to me as surely you'll just muss up your foundation by rubbing anything over the top of it but again I can't see it making any difference. It does smell nice though... and feel nice. But as for closing my pores and giving my face a matte finish? I just don't see it. But again it's early days and I may yet be surprised. As for the Hollywood Glow. It must just be my skin that likes to be as pale as possible. Miss M loves this... I can baste it on to no avail. Nothing. None of the promised 'rose-bronze' tint. But I'm determined to get my £16.50's worth and make it work. Back to the bathroom for me for more experimenting I say. I'm determined that it will be money well spent. xx
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