Tuesday 29 January 2008

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket is like heaven in book form. Although the production is outstanding (I have been seen stroking the cover) the contents is even beThe Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brockettter. With beautiful pictures, recipes and tips on everything from quilting and knitting to baking and painting, this is not only the perfect read for those would-be domestic goddesses but also for what I like to call the armchair domestics (we can aspire to such things). Since reading it I have had a burning desire to make my own quilt - although I'm sure I don't have the time, money or wherewithal but still... it's good to dream. And the title sums it up. You can read through this book without feeling pressured into doing anything, or being guilt ridden about lack of domesticity... it is, as it says, very gentle.

Jane Brocket delights in domesticity, adhering to a lovely philosophy - that women should ignore the dust in favour of expressing themselves creatively in the home. Lively, curious and creative, she takes inspiration from her surroundings, from art, literature and nature and the the gentle arts of knitting, baking and sewing, enhances her family life. From angora cushions to gingerbread houses, from crochet blankets to geometric quilts, she injects her home with colour, beauty and fun.

Jane's career as queen of domesticity kicked off with her blog Yarnstorm, originally about knitting, it now has a huge international following with over 38,000 hits a week. The Gentle Art of Domesticity is the culmination of her experiments and research into all things creativly domestic and is "a glorious synthesis of craft, style and intellectual pleasures". Although I think this book is perfect for mother's day (2nd March) you'll actually want to keep this one for yourself. Everything about this book is beautiful - worth every penny of it's £25 xx

The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket is published by Hodder and Stoughton.

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Sad News

I am totally shocked at the news this morning that Heath Ledger was found dead in his house in Manhattan yesterday. Although no one knows what the cause of death is it is assumed that it is an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. He was so young (only 28) and always seemed to take his popularity and fame in his stride - which is why I think it came as such a shock. He's never been all over the papers with drink or drug problems - although was struggling with drink and sleeping pills after the break up of his relationship with Michelle Williams and his portrayal as the psychotic Joker in the new Batman film. This was however, freely admitted by Ledger whose family believe his death to be accidental. My heart goes out to his friends and family - especially his daughter Matilda. xx

Monday 21 January 2008

At Least it Will Be Over Soon

It's the most depressing day of the year. It's official. I only learnt this about half and hour ago but now it all makes sense. Having woken up in the most foul mood (so foul that I've been having to listen to soothing Classic FM at work - even though I don't think I'm supposed to) I then finally got my two day hangover from the weekend. My housemates managed to encourage me into silly drunken behaviour on Friday and Saturday which all though was hugely fun was possibly a little rash considering it's affect on my cotton-wool brain today.

Luckily I didn't need to use my brain at the weekend - well I realised it would be no good to me when I awoke with head pounding on Saturday - so instead I thought I'd try out some of the new range from one of the most famous names in haircare and the youngest ever hairdresser to enter the prestigious Hall of Fame, Umberto Giannini. "The Incredible Body range adds volume, bounce and shine to lifeless hair for a full-bodied and salon perfect finish that increases texture and manageability of unruly hair. The Incredible Body products include: the Voluptuous Body Shampoo, Amazing Body Conditioner (available at £14.99), Shapely Body Mousse, Enviable Body Blow Dry Spray and
the Defined Body Texturising Lotion (all priced at £4.19)"

The Voluptuous Body Shampoo really works - my hair was definitely volumised and although I think it's pretty difficult to tell whether conditioners work on the volume front and the Amazing Body Conditioner didn't feel like it was doing much at the time, really softened my hair without flattening or coating. They both smelt great and are fantastic value for £14.99. The packaging was the usual Umberto Giannini style, which I think could do with a little sprucing, and the instructions on the back are simple at best - which is fine as you don't need much instruction to wash your hair although for some of the other products I'm going to try out this could be a bit tricky. After washing I tried Shapely Body Mousse. This is tricky to control when you press the button so be careful - but it does work and smells nice. I've yet to track down a mousse that can put up with a night on my pillows but although there was less body my hair definitely wasn't flat - and the natural wave which appears the day I've washed it no matter what I do looks nicely defined rather than, quite frankly, a bit of a mess.

So whilst drying and fondling my newly washed locks I got to read The Meaning of Sunglasses: A Guide to (Almost) All Things Fashionable. This beautiful book is a really refreshing take on the increasingly popular beauty and lifestyle book. Freeman is the deputy fashion editor for the Guardian and contributing editor to Vogue... in other words, she knows her stuff. This is a truThe Meaning of Sunglasses by Hadley Freemane style guide - it's not wear to shop it is how to wear clothes and what to avoid.

Both funny and wise, this takes us through the most intriguing sides of the world of glam fashionistas. Why Botox is like cocaine, how to wear shorts without looking like a strangely dressed schoolboy, and why there's no such thing as 'fashionably late'. This is the down-to-earth A-Z bible covers of the more unspoken aspects of the fashion world; 'Sex and the City, what it gave us in terms of fashion and what it didn't', 'Moss, Kate, and how she ruined your wardrobe', and 'Logos, the bleating of the insecure'. As well as old but enduringly tricky favourites; Haute couture, taking self-indulgence to a whole new level', 'Patterns - or test patterns', and 'Pink'. My favourite being Low Slung Belts and the point thereof. Only with tunics and voluminous tops, ladies.

The Meaning of Sunglasses is the perfect way to wave goodbye to the most depressing month in 2008 - it is published by Penguin on 7th February 2008.

Monday 14 January 2008

Baby Boom

It seems that the place to be is the maternity ward in pretty much any hospital but particularly Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where Nicole Richie gave birth to daughter, Harlow Winter Kate Madden on Friday morning and Christina Aguilera gave birth to her son Max Liron Bratmen at 10.05pm on Saturday. Other new parents include Stella McCartney and Alasdhair Willis who had a son Beckett Robert Lee on 8th January.
But just in case you were getting complacent and thought that maybe the celebrity world was going to get a grip in 2008, Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse have been evening out the normal/abnormal, happy/sad balance with various unbelievable antics. First to Britney who was removed from her home by paramedics after locking herself in a bathroom with one of her sons. Her assistant and friend Ali broke the door down eventually and we were treated to the worrying sight of Brit being tied to stretchers with restraints and alternately crying, laughing and screaming at the paramedics. She was apparently high on various substances but having a close look at her (trust the Sun to be completely close up and in her face during a breakdown) her pupils seemed pretty normal leading me to speculate that she has actually just flipped a switch somewhere and had some sort of mental meltdown. On the bright side it prompted Simon Cowell to offer not only words of wisdom but seemingly a shoulder for her to cry on... the mind boggles.
Now, am I the only one who HATES Amy Winehouse's new hair? She would clearly never really suit being blond at the best of times but when its a nasty yellow-tinged bad peroxide job I think we'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who could carry it off. It also seems to somehow accentuate her still terrifying stick-thinness which doesn't seem to be getting any better. Meanwhile, in prison, her 'husband' Blake Fielder-Civil is reportedly fuming at her spending the night with producer Mark Ronson in the K-West hotel. I may be naive here but I'm pretty sure he's got nothing to worry about - the photo's of them taken on the night show him wearing a sharp suit and looking fit and healthy next to Amy with skeletal figure, terrible new yellow hair and an ill advised pair of 'City' shorts... Surely that can't be an irresistible look. I never thought I'd say this but 'bring back the Beehive'... even that dreadful thing is better than this!
Now after my previous rant about the shooting of Tatiana the San Francisco zoo tiger I lay awake at 4.00 this morning having had a horrible nightmare involving me having to watch my parents being chased down and attacked by tigers... I'll take this as karmic payback for my animal rights rant. xx

Tuesday 8 January 2008


Having had a fantastic but rather over the top New Year's Eve I have only just started recovering from the return to work. I try to never make any resolutions as I a) know how bad my will power is but b) will just get even worse January blues when I break them. But I do endeavour to be a bit healthier and fight back against the excesses of Christmas. I'm trying not to drink during the week, and cut down on smoking. I've also gone to trusty Boots and purchased my 3 for 2 vitamins - although this seems to be a case of shutting the door after the horse has bolted as I've just stopped coughing from my Christmas cold. I know I said that my spangly new laptop would improve the blog but I'm still transferring things across from the old one (partly because the old one keeps dying and having to be revived and given time off). But we're getting there.

One of the many news stories that upset me over the Christmas period (so much death, so much destruction) was the shooting of the Siberian Tiger at San Francisco Zoo. My heart goes out to the family of those mauled by Tatiana especially to the Sousa family. However, I feel that shooting a tiger (endangered at that) for being a tiger is like shooting a dog for barking (I hope I'm not giving anyone any ideas). They haven't shot the person who made her fence 4ft too low have they? I do understand that lives were in danger but surely they should have a tranquilizer gun on hand for these kinds of situations? For an animal that is constantly at risk of extinction it seems ludicrous to allow this situation to arise where one is shot in the captivity which is supposed to protect the animal and teach people about them.

Anyway enough of my animal ranting - January is all about survival and while I've been writing I came across the ultimate blog for those of you who wish that you were able to leave the office and travel the world but never have the time, money or have had your soul sucked dry by the constant monotony of working life. Never fear Jeff Henderson is doing it for you - go check out Clerk & Teller. It will whisk you away from dreary January and give you great ideas for planning your travels. And as usual Ondo Lady has started 2008 in style - a great way to get info on the latest reads, fashion trends movies... well just about anything you want an opinion on she's got it!

I wish I could add some insight about the January sales (which now seem to start before Christmas) but I have been too poor to venture within a 1 mile radius of a shop (except to buy some healthy food in an attempt to start 2008 thinner than I left 2007). I wish they would have March sales instead - giving our bank accounts time to recover for a real spending spree. If you feel you've earnt a reward for making it back into the office however, Philosophy (0870 990 8452) have come up with the perfect January treat. Their Portable Therapy at the Office (£22.50) is designed specifically to help your skin deal with busy schedules, extreme heating/air con, and help you feel energized at this depressing time of year. The handy bag contains empowermint face spray, empowermint hand cream and empowermint lip shine. Go forth and philosophise xx
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