Monday, 24 September 2012

While the cat's away the mice will play!

So my Mother's long awaited trip to Europe begins tomorrow so I will be house sitting, cat sitting and fridge raiding for a little less than 3 weeks with the Boyfriend. Even at the old age of 27 I still get excited about the prospect of a "free house" and my friends and I are still using that term regularly should we want to invite people over; with no shame!

As the weather has suddenly turned horrible and rainy and freezing cold I went out today to buy a few pick-me-ups as well as trying to decide what shmancy things to cook for the Boyfriend now I have the WHOLE kitchen to myself.

Firstly and completely unrelated to food I purchased a few little things to add to my Autumn wardrobe...

Racing green Soft Skinny Jeans from New Look (£20 - Bargain!!)

Barry M Nail Paint in Cappucino

Studded Suede look boots

Next onto the food and as this was more a spur of the moment shop than a considered trip with a list etc it shows more what I fancied for lunch rather than any sort of planning for the week ahead!

Firstly I bought some Nutella so that I could make Miss Glamorazzi's Nutella hot chocolate which you can see HERE! I would normally have the Hotel Chocolate Caramel hot chocolate but with the weather as it is the supermarket alternative would have to do!

The honey is because of my sore and croaky throat. After the Boyfriend's fancy dress party at the weekend my voice has gone and I sound a little "Macy Gray" today. I like honey in or on anything but as it's cold I'm going to make honey and lemon tea and NOT HAVE ANY MORE CIGARETTES!!

I've picked up some veggies which aren't terribly exciting (hence the use of Instagram!) but it does mean I'll be able to make Jamie Oliver's Butternut Squash Soup which is my all time favourite and a Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato mash a la the Good Food website HERE.

I am on the hunt for some more Autumnal recipes especially if they go well with a glass (bottle) of wine! Obviously just as a hot toddy ;)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

30 before 30: Learn to dance - ballroom, ballet or hip hop?

When I deciding I want to learn to dance I didn't anticipate that it would be so difficult, so expensive and quite so embarrassing!

In theory, I wanted to emerge from my twenty-something cocoon like a cross between Ballet Beauty Darcey Bussell and Strictly Come Dancing's lush Latina Flavia Cacace whilst still being able to do a pretty good "Thriller" should the opportunity present itself. It seems I may have set the bar (barre) too high in wanting to learn to dance and I'm heading for a Napoleon Dynamite tribute act.

See example 1:

And even he made it look good in the end!!

I feel I may have missed the boat and if I leave it any longer I may do more damage than good - physically and socially! At 27 can I honestly join a hip hop class or sign up for the ballet class I left when I was 6?

The point of the 30 before 30 list was to do the things I've missed out on them whilst I can get away with it so the selfish, twenty-something me is going to bloody well learn to dance.

Now that Strictly Come Dancing is back on the TV I'll again start moaning to the Boyfriend that I want to dance like they did during wartime. Swtiching from Waltz to Foxtrot with a cheeky Swing Dance and then a Quick step. Like they would never see each other again; gazing into each others eyes in a tornado of sequins, kiss curls and sweetheart romance. Whilst we've tried to strut our stuff at weddings there's only so much shuffling you can do before you're found out as a fraud.

Another option is to go back to mirrors and tights and bleeding toes just with the added pressure of cellulite by taking up an adult Ballet class. (Do they actually exist?) I'm not delusional thinking that my Prima Ballerina  Dreams are within reach but something like this from "Centre Stage" would be an achievement:

Finally, and this is probably what I'm secretly hoping to do is the type of dancing that anyone who knows me would not ever think me capable of doing is Hip Hop or Commercial Dance. Even typing it makes me cringe a little as I'm about as "street" as Mary Berry and have never owned joggers or listened to NWA. The attraction is simply the fact that it is so far from what I would normally do. So in tribute to my 30 before 30 list maybe that's exactly why this is the perfect choice:

So there are the options; I don't know whether to try all three and see how I go but I know it's going to be one thing ticked off of the list. To say I tried it, I smiled and I danced like no one was watching.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Royal scandal #2: Topless Kate Middleton Photos

Our regal Royals are drowning the tabloids again. Maybe not the British rags but the scandal is still out "there". The next morning after the news about Kate Middleton broke I don't think any of us had to look very far to find the link to "those" topless photos of Princess Kate Middleton on holiday with her new Husband Prince William.

Immediate reactions were naturally inquisitive, some vulgar, a few found it hilarious that a Royal was naked so soon after Prince Harry's Vegas exposure and one person I spoke to simply said it was "very sad".

Under normal celebrity circumstances I would scoff at the desperate attempt at a badly veiled "surprise" money shot but this left me feeling a little uncomfortable. I don't profess to be a Royalist; nowhere near in fact but I am a woman and I just felt very sorry for Kate Middleton and angry that the French magazine disregarded the mutual understanding of Royal privacy after the tragic loss of Princess Diana.

Kate is not as highly regarded internationally as Diana (although that may change) and I'm not attempting to compare the two but lessons could have been learnt about what's required of a Royal (former or current) as part of their public duties in exchange for stolen moments of privacy that are off limits to the press.

Neither Kate or William surrendered their legal rights when holidaying at Lord Linley's French Chateau so they have every right to challenge the publication due to it's tidal wave of repercussions for both them, their families and the representation of the British Government internationally.

These photographs did not uncover a scandal, they did not right a wrong or act as judge for a crime committed by anyone involved but exposed an intimate moment between newly weds for which we all hold guilt for our part in the staining of Kate's reputation.

Please don't think I'm a prude and that seeing a topless shot will make me think any less of our new Princess because it doesn't but on a personal note I appreciate how private and special certain parts of a relationship and character can be and for a media company to rob that is unforgivable.

As we move forward into a digital age where citizens are the journalists and ownership of images and words becomes blurred and irrelevant it's only a matter of time before we are all exposed to some extent.

Hobbies, Extra Curricular, fill your time: A 20-something's take

It's Monday and I'm doing my normal weekly review of my 30 before 30 list and gasping in horror at how, apart from the Wine tasting, the camping (sort of) and the "all nighter" I've not made much of a dent in the list. and I've only got 2.5years to do it all!

It's made me think why I felt like there were things I was missing out on before 30 that I might not experience unless I gave myself a challenge. When you're young it's generally your parents that dictate what you do with your free time, what will set you up in the future, what will educate you and provide a good foundation and range of experiences that you may continue when you're older. 

Well if you're anything like I was as a child I changed my mind every 5 mins about what I wanted to do as a hobby! Below are some examples; please don't judge!!

  • Piano lessons
  • Guitar lessons
  • Clarinet lessons
  • French
  • Flower pressing
  • Rainbows, Brownies, Scouts! (Guides were had the boring trips away!)

Guten tag!

Due to injury a VERY short Ballet career

I still ride a little but not at 6am!

Quilling - straight out of Downton

We used to skate to pass the time

It may be that as you get older and you have more responsibilities you have less time for hobbies or new adventures but isn't it a shame to not try new things in case you don't get another chance?

So it's back to my 30 before 30 list because I don't want it to be too late to get away with skinny dipping!! ;)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Fancy Dress: J Party jeopardy

The Boyfriend and my Best friend share a Birthday so this year I am planning a fancy dress theme to our night out. As they share a letter it's going to be a "J Party" which is proving to be harder than I ever imagined. At first I was desperate to come as Jasmine from Aladdin; trying to fulfil a childhood dream and also base my look on my already dark hair and olive skin! Winner!

Magical Disney Princess

Bit of a Jezebel 
BUT it seems unless you are 7 years old the options are more "on the bedroom floor" than flying on the magic carpet.

Could it be we're TOO OLD for fancy dress??

Google has suggested a few alternatives...

I have an idea of what I'm going to settle on and I have this lovely lady to thank for it! Now where to find my dream Kimono in 4 days....

Japanese Geisha Halloween Tutorial

Birthdays, Dinner and Chinese Poker - never a dull moment

After trying to stick to the Marine Commando Diet for the last week (and losing 4lbs - hooray!) There was no stopping me at the all you can eat buffet for my Step-Mother's Birthday. Nothing says support from your Boyfriend like being snapped at the buffet. Trust me, I was a lot more excited than I look here!

I don't normally eat Chinese but my Step Mother is Chinese so only fair we have her choice, I have to say the desserts were a highlight. Not traditional Chinese offerings but scrumptious none the less; lychees and mango, blackforest gateau and a chocolate fountain with foam bananas and shrimps!! Yum!

 Seeing as it was my Step-mothers Birthday and my Dad and her had just returned from China after spending hours playing cards over late night drinks there were a few rounds of Flight played. If you haven't heard of it I can honestly say it's the MOST COMPLICATED card game I've ever played!

There's some info on it here although this was quite hard to track down on the net. Seems it goes by a few names but apparently lots of Chinese women play this kind of Chinese poker (羅宋牌九) and win hundreds of pounds! Not too shabby although after playing it a couple of times I still have absolutely no idea what's happening or who the winner is.

The Mr seemed to be enjoying it though...

The hand above is a winning hand?! You must make a 5, a 5, and a 3 and lay them down on the table not changing any cards and not moving them once you've decided. A colour run is the highest you can get and goes at the bottom, then 2 pairs, a triple,  pair etc with an Ace being 1 or 11. You are then awarded or penalised points against each other for rows 1, 2 and 3. Sound complicated?! IT IS! Thank god we're not yet playing for money!!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Reflections: The dreaded D&M

It's Saturday night and I'm in by myself for the first time in a very long time. The Mister has a cycle race tomorrow so is staying away as it's an early start. I really don't function well by myself; I find it's almost a waste of time that I could be seeing and chatting to people. It's strange being alone with your thoughts as it feels sometimes like your brain can't stop going over; or maybe that's just me?

So I've decided to get started with my letters and make the most of the quiet. I'm not sure I have many exciting things to share but I'll try my best to tell those people that I miss them and what it is about them that makes me smile.

I'm listening to the Garden State soundtrack and a little Elliott Smith. Maybe that's not helpful in making my mind stop thinking about things as the film itself leaves me a little vulnerable about mortality. This isn't meant to be a depressing post; more of a reflection that sometimes in moments of quiet the drama and pretence is gone and you can see things with a little clarity.

Goodnight to anyone that is reading this; I hope you savour that delicious moment of alone time as rare as it may be.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Letters to Cleo - An experiment

I've watched an awful lot of Downton Abbey over the last couple of days and I think it's getting to me. Whilst I don't want to ride horses to the next village or pretend that I care about falconry displays I would love to receive something exciting, secret or special in the post and hate that news from an old friend seems to always be in a Facebook wall post or text message. I suppose it's a bit quaint and clinging onto the dark ages but there's something very personal and delicious about opening up a letter from a friend that they've taken the time to write and send to you.

When I was at University my best friends and I used to write to each other and I can honestly say that during the worst home sick days they made me laugh, smile and feel like we were in each others thoughts despite being at opposite ends of the country.

I can't even remember the last time I had a handwritten letter sent to me and the last time I wrote one was to change car insurance and my hand was numb after the 2nd sentence! I'm not expecting delicate little notes to be passed to me on a silver tray by "Carson" but I do want to see if sending a letter to a friend still makes someone smile AND if it encourages them to write back. If I can incorporate any of my 30 list into the conversation too for help in reaching my ever nearing goal then I shall try as I'm not much nearer at all!

So, I'm going to post 10 letters to friends old and new, near and far and hope to bring them a smile. If any of them write back then I'll consider it a happy bonus!

First challenge, find out their address! How awfully 21st century that I don't even know my friends house numbers...

My new writing set - who knew they still made these?!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

30 Before 30: Camp in a tent (high five for hats!) Postdated!!

It has been a little while since my last post and for that I must apologise. I have no dramatic or personal excuse other than "life" itself and all it's petty distractions.

During my time away though I have unknowingly ticked off one of my "30 before 30" challenges which is "Camp in a tent". Now before people who know me compose an angry response and tell me it's not "real" camping at a festival if you're not making your own fire and wiping your bottom on a leaf, let me assure you that it poses challenge enough for me to camp in any form.

I like to think I can be chilled out (when required), that I love music festivals, my friends and especially the sunshine so combining them should be a winner from the outset; BUT I DESPISE CAMPING. This isn't some Essex Princess rant about needing to be constantly pampered (Boyfriend manages to ground me/put me in my place on a regular basis) or that I'm just being awkward I just can't grasp why, unless absolutely necessary, someone would want to sleep in a tent?

Fast forward to Boyfriend, family and thousands of other Essex drunkards heading to V festival for a mixture of pop and grime in equal measure whilst those waiting for Noel Gallagher and Tom Jones get sloshed on the floor surrounding by teenagers! Hurrah for not caring anymore!

So I hope the following images will show that after a day of sunshine, approx 12 pints of your finest own brand cider and little more to eat than some doughnuts and a box of chow mein even the most critical "hotel" people can become the happiest camper EVER!

Awesome Autumn - breathe a sigh of relief, it's cosy nights from here on in!

For those that don't know me well (or at all - hello new friends!) they will be very aware that like badgers in the dark and Gremlins after a dip I can go a bit crazy for Autumn! I thought I'd take a second to note down my ideas before I explode in a whirlwind of finding my gloves and looking for cooking apples to bake!

Whether it's because I love to wear as many layers as possible, because I adore hot chocolate, cinnamon, leaves on the ground and boots that go with everything OR just because it brings us a season closer to Christmas I don't know BUT I simply do love this season. J'adore l'Automne!

Now the sun has gone (was it ever here at all?), cosy nights are drawing in and we're planning cheeky nights with friends and dirty takeaways rather than long cider filled days I seem to change my lifestyle to suit the cold.

I have to say goodbye to my favourite reading spot now the clouds are rolling in and it's getting bloody freezing on those iron seats!

My secret thinking/reading/writing spot
 looks a little sad

Meanwhile, I shall be curled up on the sofa with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in my ski socks and an enormous knitted jumper, determined to get through the following before it's time to start watching Christmas films!


  • The Hypnotist - Lars Kepler
  • Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan
  • "Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story - Various

  • Anna Karenina
  • Les Miserable
  • Raaz 3
  • The Thick of It 
  • New Girl
  • Winners and Losers

The breathtaking Olivia Palermo 
Another of my Autumn treats is to pour over the glossy leaves of some of my favourite magazines in search of the perfect coat, knit, boots, dress and early ideas for the "hard to buy for"s. Shallow? Possibly! Deliciously self indulgent? Of course. Whilst I'm not a slave to trends it's exciting to see a fashion shakeup and why not? It's a new season and a new chance to play dress up! When I'm not rocking some kind of striped top with coloured skinny jeans I shall be sampling a little of the following:

Autumnal highlights:
Brocade - think glitz, gold, silver, vintage flock, threaded silks, rich materials and beaded and gilded from head to toe
Gothic - Beaded, lacy, leather and suede, blacks and greys with spikes and chains and belts
Heritage - More of a standard Autumn/Winter trend but with Downton as an influence it's more gentry than farmyard
Peplum - As a woman of curves, meat on her bones and a desire to hide rather than attract the eyes to my middle I shall be in search for the forgiving Peplum!

This year's A/W trends suggest I will again have trouble pulling off my much loved "Cat" jumper for the 3rd year running...thankfully for the Boyfriend, I'm sure.

Lastly although not least of the things I have planned for my first official day of Autumn (or the first that I've stopped wearing flip flops on) are these. I don't believe they need anymore introduction. And, you're welcome.

Taken from BBC Website from the glorious Lorraine Pascale