Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What's in my bag? - On a film set

School is finally over! Sort of.

I did my last exam yesterday, but there's still a leaver's assembly on Monday and I've volunteered to help with the making of a video about the school to enter a competition. Apparently there's a substantial prize fund! We assumed this was for us at first, and were only mildly disappointed when we discovered that it was in fact for the school.

It got me thinking though, what does one carry on a set? I've always assumed that the director or assistant director would be on hand with a bag of emergency things, but I imagine on the larger scale productions there is someone whose job it is to carry these. I settled on providing a mix of sustenance, useful stuff and the odd random object which may or may not have served a purpose.

Tin of cupcakes - I bought this tin the other day so I would have something to take spare cakes over to friends with and it's already been useful! My leftover chocolate cupcakes from a batch I made on Saturday (I meant to make 24... I got 41) served as our catering department for the day!

Camera - I'll admit, I didn't actually take this, I left it on the floor. Oops. But if I HAD remembered it, I would have used it to take behind-the-scenes snaps and kept as a back-up camera in case the others failed (it has a film mode)

Moleskine notebook & pencil - Very useful for making notes on what will need to be done next time and utterly stylish at the same time. The pencil is from La Musee et Jardin Christian Dior.

Make up bag - Just in case I had to be filmed. I didn't - thank goodness - apart from my hands, which I hope looked pretty good!

Friday, 24 June 2011


So, just to let my lovely readers know, I have given in to peer pressure and joined Twitter. I'm still slightly baffled, I must admit, but apparently the benefits are worth the mild confusion. So if you are also on this odd site, why not follow me? I'm here

The more observant amongst you may also notice a subtle change in my blog header and the title which appears on your news feeds. That's right, I've taken Justin Timberlake's/Sean Parker's advice and dropped the 'the'.
It took a while and a few scares when I almost lost the image entirely, but I think it's probably worth it. Because now, I'm cool. Also, it meant I discovered the videos below. If you've seen the Social Network, you'll probably enjoy them.

The importance of afternoon tea

Orange, almond and yoghurt loaf

Apologies for going AWOL for a few days - I feel like I have loads to do and yet would rather be sitting reading me new Sarah Dessen book in the attic. Anyway, I was recently gifted the recipe book Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days and have been frantically baking things from its pages all week. I'm home from school most of the time as my last exam looms nearer, and something about being on your own in the house makes you want to make your day a little more special, and what better way than making myself a spot of afternoon tea?

Reasons why everyone should have afternoon tea
  • It was a tradition started by Queen Catherine, wife of Charles II and you can't say no to a queen! Equally, Marie Antoinette loved sweet things, though she never ate all that much. How else could she have had the quote "Let them eat cake" attributed to her? It's also something you can see throughout Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. So that's two queens (albeit dead ones) who you would be defying.
From Marie Antoinette
  • People keep telling us that the whole cupcake trend will be gone soon - ignore those people. While the trend does flutter between cupcakes and macaroons and whoopie pies, the idea of chic little sweet treats is firmly back in fashion, and any bakery which realises that they just need to work with the times will stay in business for a long time.
  • Baking is an essential skill. Don't worry about it being perfect or looking like the picture, just get a good quality recipe book (like the Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days, used for the cakes in both the top picture and the one below), grab a friend and I promise you'll have fun. Plus, you've got the bonus of it being totally en vogue right now.
Rose (yes, ROSE) cupcakes
  • Henry James knew its value: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”
  • Throwing a tea party is an easy way to have a celebration for any occasion without the hassle of arranging a big party but something a little more special than a coffee morning. Try BBC GoodFood for everything from light Summer bakes to rich Christmas cakes.
  • There's no better time to sit and read a book. If your afternoon tea is not a social activity one day, settle down with a cup of tea or coffee, something sweet and a good book. I'll be sharing my picks for the Summer's best reading material soon. In the meantime, maybe go for something familiar and favourite, as a comforting book is what goes best with comfort food.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Alexander McQueen at Harvey Nichols

For all the things that have made me regret not living in New York, missing the 'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty' exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the biggest so far. I was, for a while rather jealous of you lucky New Yorkers enjoying our London-grown genius, but then Harvey Nichols came to the rescue. In conjunction with the New York part of the exhibition, the department store showed several classic, dramatic designs in its windows up until the end of last month. This prompted my first ever trip to Harvey Nick's while in London to see a production of Much Ado About Nothing. The clothes were stunning, and all the better for a lovely amount of afternoon sunshine.

But if you do not live in New York or London, or perhaps just missed out when they were on display, do not despair! I took several shots which, though I say so myself, look pretty good. I'd apologise for the reflections in the glass, but I actually think it adds something - especially in the ones where Knightsbridge's towering architecture seems to merge into the models. Enjoy!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A lady goes to the theatre

Last Saturday, I went to a play called Moonlight and Magnolias, performed at the Watermill Theatre. The play was about the making of Gone With The Wind, a film which I have never seen, but having seen the excellent play I now want to watch it as soon as possible! As luck would have it, I am also going to the theatre this evening, to an improvised comedy musical.

All these trips out to the theatre tend to raise questions of etiquette and, perhaps most importantly, questions of what to wear. Well, this is where I come in with my copy of How to be a Lady by Candace Simpson Giles. Last time, I shared with you the etiquette of attending a birthday party, so this time, it is the theatre.

Of attending the theatre, Simpson-Giles says: "a lady makes every possible effort to be on time for the performance." That is why the first feature of my outfit was a watch, to ensure prompt arrival. I chose a gold one to match my favourite heels, as I think it is always appropriate to dress upfor an evening out. Added to the gold accessories was a small sequin purse with a shoulder strap. This was to hold ice-cream money and, if necessary, a phone, which must always be turned off during the performance. Also in the bag, one could bring tissues in case of a sneeze at a quiet moment in the play, and Simpson-Giles advises that: "A well-prepared lady has a cough drop in her purse". This can be extremely useful in case of a coughing fit.

So we've handled the accessories, but what do you wear on a night at the theatre? The classic and safe thing to throw on is always black - chic and simple. However, there are really no rules, but it is nice to dress up a bit, especially for the ballet or opera or something like that. The main thing is that you will be comfortable enough to sit down in what you're wearing for a good few hours. Heels should be fine, but if you've got standing tickets, you may need a change of shoes or just have to take them off.

And so concludes my second "A lady..." post. Did you enjoy it? Can you think of some more situations/events I should cover in the future?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Inspiration Wednesdays

My photos:

The weather's been getting lighter recently,warmth and sunniness seemed on their way until today. The skies have opened up but only in a constant drizzle way, not a violent tropical storms way. Sorry for the gloomy picture (taken in London a while ago) but that's kind of how the weather is making me feel right now.
Entry to the 'Shoe Galleries' at Selfridges

Others' Photos:
Lara Stone in July US Vogue, shot by Peter Lindbergh

By Ruven Afanador. This shot appeals so much to my aesthetic, it's ridiculous

Ann He is fast shaping up to be my favourite fashion photographer. This is from her new series 'Rosetti and Roses' and I can definitely understand the name. Particularly in this shot, I can see a sort of resemblance in feel with Rosetti's Persephone. Do you know what I mean?

Monday, 13 June 2011

The secret life of second-hand clothes

So by now, I guess anyone living in the UK will have seen this ad for Cadbury's. If you haven't, or they don't show it where you live, I can recommend watching it now. As with all of Cadbury's ads since the gorilla-on-drums one, I don't really understand what this has to do with chocolate, or why it should make me want to buy it, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a brilliant short film exploring what really goes on in unattended charity shops/thrift stores.

I personally love the idea that these clothes, who have all been abandoned there for one reason or another, just getting up and having a bit of a boogie when everyone else has gone home. I can just imagine it happening in many of my favourite second-hand and vintage shops. I think that's mainly because once clothes have been worn by someone, they have a story to them. Sometimes it's good to know that story - maybe it was worn in a play, or at your great-aunt's wedding, or to the premier of Gone with the Wind - but sometimes, its history remains a mystery, and that can be just as exciting. What I'm trying to say is, when clothes are new, they don't really have a story yet, but once worn, they gain a life and character of their own, which I think this ad shows.

Unfortunately, it doesn't really make me want to buy the product. Ooh, I could just do with a bar of Dairy Milk right now...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

I want it!: ASOS Leather Colour Block Satchel

ASOS has provided me with many an hour of longingly gazing at their multitude of dresses and cute sunglasses. As with many people lately, I have been obsessed with Cambridge Satchel company bags for a while now, and they have an exclusive one just for ASOS. However, all too many people have jumped on the bandwagon now. It's not really individual or jaunty to have a Cambridge Satchel any more, as everyone loves them, and have diluted the trend. Don't despair if you own one though! They are still well-made and gorgeous, you'll still find me lusting after any passing one. Plus, the quality means you can keep them forever, just be patient and you can wait until the followers of fads have gotten bored and moved on - soon yours will once again be the only satchel in the village.

In the meantime, I've found the perfect alternative in this brightly coloured number. I like its alternative shades of yellow and turquoise, not to mention the suede outer. What I most like about it though, is the slouchiness. That's what makes it such a different kind to the Cambridge variety. On one hand, you have structured, hark-back-to-schooldays perfection, and on the other, a relaxed, fun-loving ideal. Both are lovely - but I think right now, I'd go for this one.

Having said that, the worn-in feel of a satchel is generally how you can separate the fad-followers from the true Cambridge lovers. If you want to know who's just hopped on the bandwagon, it will be those with tough-looking, as-yet-unloved bags. Devotees to the trend who have been in on it since early days may have worn straps, scuffed bottoms and marked sides. If you want to join the satchel elite, make sure you love yours in the roughest way possible

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Inspiration Wednesdays

I'm bored.

It's the middle of the week, I got home early, I have an exam tomorrow but have done as much revision as I can. There's nothing on TV and I'm idly clicking between the Home and Profile pages on Facebook. Many Wednesday evenings are like this. I expect that this is a common problem, caused by a dragging feeling associated with the mid-week.

But what can we do about it? We have to fight the boredom! Therefore I have created the concept of Inspiration Wednesdays. Every week I will share a selection of my own photos and some shots by my favourite photographers. The result? An inspiring mood-board of a post which will inspire me, and hopefully some of you, to beat the boredom and do something creative, active or productive.

So here goes the first inspiration Wednesday:

My Photos:
Taken in Cambridge. I do like a man in a waistcoat...

I'm not sure how this happened, but it did

Other's Photos:
by Candace Meyer

by Ann He, Vote for her as Seventeen's Pretty Amazing Real-Girl Cover Contest winner!
Janneke Van Den Bosch photographed by Pierre del Carso

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Only the ocean and me

Summer is practically here. And what with all the talk of holidays and trips to the beach, it's got me thinking about swimwear. I've never been that concerned with what I wear in the pool or the sea - but I do know that I like one-pieces. The market is a little flooded with 50s style polka-dot swimsuits right now which, while gorgeous, aren't really my style. Enter New Look's Peacock Feather Swimsuit:
I like that it's a little bit psychedelic, but still subtle enough not to clash with most beachwear. I also favour the halter-neck because it's generally quite flattering. What about you? Do you prefer a bikini or a one-piece? And what colour will be the best for this season?

Jack Johnson - Only the Ocean

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Trinity of summer trends: Floral

OK, I'll admit, this one took me a little longer to gather images for than the others. I don't know why, since it's normally all over the magazines, but eventually I found a range of floral delights to clash together on the one page. I think that is one way that the confident fashionista can wear florals - clashing. Mix prints all over the place until it's so wrong it looks right. If you prefer a subtle approach, just stick to one key piece and wear it with block colours, picking out a shade from the floral pattern and matching that to the rest of your outfit.

Key pieces:
Tea dresses
Floaty skirts
Flower-shaped jewellery
Wedges or platform shoes
Pastel-coloured nails

Saturday, 4 June 2011

4 stylish gift ideas

Sometimes, for whatever reason, the standard birthday present is not an option. Lack of funds, no time or boredom with the usual sort of thing can prompt people to seek out a new and exciting present for a friend's birthday. But just what can you do? Allow me to make a few suggestions...

1. Throw an exclusive dinner party for just you and your friend. Cook a delicious meal, light some candles and lay the table for two. If your friend isn't impressed, they are obviously not your true friend. Stuck for a dinner recipe? Try this:

Citrus seared tuna with crispy noodles, herbs and chilli
(From www.jamieoliver.com)

2 pink grapefruits
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce
• 500g/1lb 2oz piece of sustainably sourced tuna
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for frying
• 2 or 3 fresh red chillies, very finely sliced
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 large bunch of fresh coriander
• 1 small bunch of fresh mint
• a couple of good handfuls of glass or cellophane noodles
• 4 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle

Squeeze the grapefruit juice and pour into a sandwich bag with the fish sauce. Add the piece of tuna. Tie up the bag, squeezing out most of the air so the tuna is completely covered in the juice. Leave for 40 minutes, after which time the outside of the tuna will be pale and ‘cooked’. Now carefully pour the grapefruit juice from the bag into a bowl, dry off the tuna and put to one side.

For the dressing, mix the sesame oil, olive oil and chillies into the grapefruit juice. Use as much chilli as you like, and season to taste. Tear off a good handful of coriander and mint from the bunches and put to one side to use for garnish later. Finely chop the remaining herbs and really pat these around the tuna to encrust it. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge until needed.

Boil the noodles for 1 minute until they are slightly flexible, drain and allow to steam dry and cool. Add a little olive oil to a hot non-stick pan, add your noodles and leave them until they are nice and crisp on one side. Now flip them over and do the same on the other side – it doesn't matter if some stick to the pan, just scrape them up and turn them over. Divide the crispy noodles between 4 plates. Slice your tuna up about 0.5cm/¼ inch thick – in Japan it's a sign of generosity to have nice thick slices of tuna, but I like them a little thinner as they are more delicate in the mouth.

Place the tuna on the noodles, sprinkle over the torn-up herbs that you put to one side earlier, sprinkle with the spring onions and then drizzle a couple of spoonfuls of the dressing over the tuna. Before your eyes you will see the cut sides of the slices of fish begin to change colour and ‘cook’. Serve straight away.

2. Offer your assistance as a stylist and photographer (without insulting their sense of style, obviously). Dress your friend up in a gorgeous outfit then have them pose for a few shots which they can treasure forever.

3. Collage a box with images from magazines which you think they'll like and then fill the box with little goodies. Some ideas for what to put in are:
Their favourite sweet
A small stuffed animal
A little notebook
A homemade card
Individual herbal teabags

4. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: cupcakes are easy to make, simple to decorate, and look fabulous when you put them in a gift box. People are often fooled into thinking you've been to a posh bakery or patisserie when they see them. Try my vanilla or chocolate cupcake recipes and decorate as you like.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Chic vanilla cupcake recipe

I made these cupcakes to take with us when staying with some friends over the bank holiday weekend and they were delicious. Light and airy with enough flavour not to be boring but not so much that it's overpowering. This is a great basic recipe and looks great with any sort of icing, but I've done a white chocolate and raspberry topping for this batch. If you want to make them to look like they came straight from the Hummingbird Bakery, simply buy a cute cake gift box like the one pictured above (available in all good cookery shops) and present with a flourish.

For the cakes:
200g unsalted butter, softened
370g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
400g self-raising flour
250ml milk

For white chocolate icing:
25g unsalted butter
200g white cooking chocolate
1 punnet of fresh raspberries, washed

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line 2 muffin pans with 24 cupcake cases
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract, then add the eggs one by one and beat until just combined. Add a quarter of the flour, mix, then add a quarter of the milk and continue alternating like this until all milk and flour is just combined with the mixture
  3. Spoon the mixture evenly between the cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into one cake comes out clean. Remove and place on wire rack to cool completely before adding icing
  4. Melt the 25g butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, then add the white chocolate, broken up as small as possible. Wait until this is fully melted, stirring regularly, then begin icing. This is tricky because keeping the chocolate over heat too long will make it go lumpy, but leaving it to cool too long will cause it to go hard. Work fast to put a dollop on each cake and swirl it round with a knife. Add a raspberry in the centre and put the cakes in the fridge until you need them so the chocolate sets.