Sunday 30 March 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! I spent mine with two of the most important ladies in my life, my Mum and hers - my Granny. They both mean an awful lot to me, but I wanted to talk about my Granny, because I don't talk about her much on her. Granny is 97, and she's pretty amazing. She lives alone, looks after herself (and everyone else) and polishes off 3 bottles of wine a week. We have fantastic conversations about literature and travelling - I mean, she's nearly 100. She's lived a fascinating life, and what's more, she still remembers all of it.

I love talking about people's grandparents - these people mean so much to us, and their generation has seen so much - just think how much the world has changed in the last hundred years!


Saturday 29 March 2014

March Edition of Books are Amazing featuring Franky

Welcome to the March edition of Books are Amazing! This month's guest poster is the lovely Franky from Love Audrey with a children's books special. There are two of my absolute favourites here, so I thoroughly approve. Take it away, Franky!

The first module I took for my English MA a few years ago was called ‘Transatlantic Childhoods: Literature and the Child Study Movement 1880-1920′. Apparently, the class examined ‘tensions in attitudes to, and representations of, children in the nineteenth-century, when emergent sciences, especially evolutionary theory and psychology, raised significant theoretical challenges to previously cherished “Romantic” assumptions about children’s innocence, malleability, and intuitive, spiritual creativity’. Thrilling stuff.

While much of the theory was lost on me, what I did take away from the class was a new found love for the simple pleasure that is reading children’s literature as an adult. Since then, returning to books that permeated my childhood has given me no end of pleasure. Not only do I find myself drawn in by the story and its characters, I also lose myself in memories from my past, relishing the nostalgia I feel for the time I originally read the novel. Looking at things afresh, through the lens of adulthood, and contemplating how much of the person I am today is down to the books I read way back when, is fascinating.

My contribution to Sarah’s ‘Books Are Amazing’ series is a handful of suggestions for those of you that might want me to join me on this literary trip down memory lane...

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The classic tale of little Mary Lennox and her secret garden at Misselthwaite Manor has been my favourite children’s book to return to as an adult. The story of Mary, a disagreeable orphan who is sent from India to live with her estranged uncle in the Yorkshire dales, is magical, dark, mysterious and whimsical in equal measure. Burnett captures what it is to be an awkward child perfectly, while still imbuing Mary with enough feistiness to turn the whole household upside down. The description of the garden as a wilderness, hidden behind a locked door for many years, and its subsequent transformation at the hands of the children makes for compelling reading.

The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Wealthy Sarah Crewe is trying to make friends and settle into her new boarding school when she suddenly learns she’ll never see her beloved father again. Plunged into a world of poverty and endless drudgery, she soon learns that kindness and generosity are the only riches she needs. It is Sarah’s imagination, illustrated so beautifully by the author’s description of her story telling and day dreaming, that I love most. The notion that our dreams can elevate us from a difficult situation and that we can be whoever we chose to be remains a powerful message, even in adulthood.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
I re-read this book in one sitting. The intoxicating tale of a treasure map, a perilous sea journey, a mutiny lead by Long John Silver and a dangerous scramble for buried treasure, all seen through the eyes of young Jim Hawkins, is filled with action, intrigue and adventure. Stevenson may have written it with a young audience in mind, but I was on the edge of my seat all the same. If Jack Sparrow is the only pirate you’ve had dealings with recently, I’d really recommend giving this a whirl.

Little Women by Louise May Alcott
I vividly remember reading this for the first time, and I’m pleased to say my love for the March family endures. Again I wept when Beth fell ill and I still love Laurie. Once more I was overcome with a desire to disappear into the domestic world created by Alcott within the pages of her book. I still want to step inside that cosy cottage and live Jo’s life, poverty and all. I was struck by the book’s celebration of the simple things, as well as the fact that Jo and her sisters are rich despite their lack of wealth or material possessions. There was a little more religion than I remembered, but it’s a beautiful read that I found no less inspiring the second time around.

This year I’m planning to re-visit The Little House books by Laura Ingles Wilder which I adored as a child. I read most of them by torchlight, long after my Mum had told me to go to sleep! Now you’ll simply find my Kindle glowing among the bed covers while my husband dozes next to me.

Friday 28 March 2014

Friday Frocks #157 - I haven't thought of you lately at all.

I always think when you do an outfit post featuring something that you wear all the time, it feels a little like you should apologise for it. Of course, being all ‘This old thing? I wear it all the time!’ seems a little fake but honestly, I do wear this old thing all the time. It’s actually been one of my favourite work outfits recently, although photographing it has made me realise that it is way shorter than I thought it was… so maybe I should keep it out of the office in future.

I wore this exact outfit a few weeks ago to the Voucher Codes Swap Shop party, which was similar to last year’s event (there are some pics here). I picked up some great bits in the swap, although sadly none of them fit me. WOE FACE. It was a great night though – there’s quite a rush in coming home with bulging shopping bags having not spent a penny!


Wednesday 26 March 2014

Giveaway: Bumper Pack of Witch Skincare products

The lovely ladies at Witch Skincare have given me some products to give away to you all today, hooray! It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Witch products - ever since I became part of the Flawless Friends, I've been using their products religiously and have really seen a big difference in my skin. I love their exfoliating face wash so much - I refuse to use anything else now!

Here's what you'd get...

Blemish Stick, Blemish Gel, Foaming Facial Wash, Exfoliating Face Wash, Stick Concealer, Skin Clearing Primer and Cleansing & Toning Wipes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends at midnight on the 3rd April 2014!

Friday 21 March 2014

Friday Frocks #156 - I cast a spell over the west to make you think of me, the same way I think of you.

I might have a million dresses just like this one, but there’s not much that can go wrong with a red flowery dress, is there? I’m always stubbornly against the rule that redheads can’t wear red – if anything, I’ve worn it more since I became a redhead, and even have a little red car arriving next week so I guess I’ll clash even more of the time. Clashing is in fashion though, right?


Wednesday 19 March 2014

Mushrooms, Garlic & Butter - oh my!

Let me tell you something about me; I just really, really like mushrooms. They're the most amazing of vegetables, and if you add garlic and butter and cheese to the mix and serve it up for me, then I will probably just marry you right here. So many awkward conversations in restaurants, you have no idea.

I've made sauteed mushrooms a few times (such as in this Mushroom Lasagne and in this Cheeseburger Casserole) and I love them like I love disco, but sometimes I find that they get a bit drowned by the other ingredients in the recipe. So I wanted to make something which was all about their buttery, mushroomy goodness. I basically just made this up, although I bet I'm not the first person to put this all together. It's not groundbreaking, but it is so, so, SO good. Exactly what I wanted it to be - garlicky, mushroomy, buttery and creamy.

Friday 14 March 2014

Friday Frocks #155 - It wasn't like a rain it was more like a sea.

You know when you find something that's so very very you that you are almost tempted NOT to get it because it's terribly predictable. This is one of those times. I did get it though, because resisting a dress that combined all of my favourite things was just pure idiocy. Floral print? Check. Peter Pan collar? Check. Full skirt? Check? £10 in the sale? FLIPPING CHECK.


Wednesday 12 March 2014


I did so many cool things in New York last year. Not enough, though - I'm dying to go back! One that really sticks in my mind though was the burger speakeasy we visited. I'd heard that there was a secret burger joint before, and so when we went hunting for it, I was expecting it to be hidden away down a quiet alley or backstreet. So I was more than a little surprised to be led into the lobby of the super swank Parker Meridien hotel, where in one quiet corner, there was this sign (and also a little bit of a queue).

Friday 7 March 2014

Friday Frocks #154 - Got a secret, can you keep it?

I've had this dress in my wardrobe since a little Christmas splurge in the ASOS sale, and I absolutely love it, but I've had to quietly admit to myself that it's a bit too much of a tummy hugger. I don't usually point it out, obvs, but I have a bit of a belly and I usually dress to hide it. Thank god for you, skater dresses!

Even though it wasn't the most flattering shape, I couldn't get rid of it. I just couldn't. It's blue! There's a collar! MINE. So when Sainsbury's got in touch and asked if I wanted to review some items from their 'Love Your Assets' range, in collaboration with Spanx, I thought I would see if they could make me love this dress a little more.


Wednesday 5 March 2014

Pavlova: Fruity creamy dessert of wonder.

I set myself a goal a couple of years ago to learn to make meringue. I’d attempted it once and it went horribly wrong, but back then I rarely baked and really didn’t know much about anything at all. My second attempt went badly too, but that time I refused to accept it – I threw the failed version out, popped to the shop for more eggs, swapped my ‘foolproof’ recipe for the Delia version and I NAILED that sucker.

If you know how to make it, a pavlova is actually a super effortless and quick dessert. It’s light, too – perfect to follow up a heavy lunch or dinner. Oh, and it looks super impressive. You can even replace the cream with crème fraiche to make it even lighter but I’m not sure how down with that I am. I mean, double cream. Why would you take that out?
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