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
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