Blog Every Day in May: Bad Advice

“What is the worst advice you have ever received?”

I really can’t think of any memorably bad advice anyone’s given me…not personally at least. Here though are some truly rubbish bits of ‘advice’, care of some of my favourite (although possibly least romantic) songs….

Mungo Jerry, In The Summertime

If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel
Speed along the lane
Do a ton, or a ton and 25
When the sun goes down, you can make it
Make it good in a lay-by

(Classy man, classy)

Tammy Wynette, Stand By Your Man

Sometimes its hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man

(Er no, that’s just how it’s done)

The Turtles, Elenore

Elenore gee I think you’re swell,
And you really do me well,
You’re my pride and joy etcetera

(Etcetera? Seriously?)

Nancy Sinatra, These Boots Were Made For Walkin’

You keep playin’ where you shouldn’t be playin
and you keep thinkin’ that you´ll never get burnt.
Ha! I just found me a brand new box of matches yeah
and what he know you ain’t HAD time to learn.
Are you ready boots? Start walkin’!

(Well that sounds like a healthy approach)

Rolling Stones, Under My Thumb

It’s down to me, yes it is
The way she does just what she’s told
Down to me, the change has come
She’s under my thumb
Ah, ah, say it’s alright

(Oh, shut up)

Every Breath You Take, The Police

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

(Creepy. Mighty creepy.)

For good measure though, here’s some really *good* advice, even if it is from an album about horrible break-ups….

Fleetwood Mac, Don’t Stop

If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you’ve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,
I know you don’t believe that it’s true,
I never meant any harm to you.
Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
Don’t you look back,
Don’t you look back.

Ems x

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Wednesday Wants….. Katie Grand Loves Hogan (and so do I)

My Hogan bowling bag is one of my most treasured possessions. I ummed and ahhed over it for an age in the Selfridges sale a few years ago, but I’m so very pleased that I got it, as it’s never left my top three favourites from my handbag collection. I have a similar fondness for the Hogan brand as a whole, and it’s one of the few shops I will really gawp at along Sloane Street in London unless there is some fabulously different window dressing going on elsewhere. So when I spotted this new capsule collection by Love Magazine Editor Katie Grand, well, I began aching for the lot!

Editor in chief and stylist Katie Grand was invited to work with Hogan on a Spring/Summer 2013 collection, which includes sneakers, ballerina flats and purses. Grand selected several existing styles which she re-worked in awesome colours and fabulous fabrics, as well as creating all-original pieces and tying everything together beautifully with a super-cute leather heart motif.

I’m crazy about the sugary-sweet colours, the shiny leather, and the vivid kitchness of it all. I want them all.

But here are my faves anyway….

I am totally hooked on the wonderful colours and textures of these re-vamped ‘Attractive‘ sneakers. They are carefully crafted from leather, suede and patent leather, with little playful fishnet panels. The cute heart emblem features on the tongue and the heel….although as much as I’d choose these for the colours, I can’t say I’ve ever seen myself wearing wedged sneakers. They are £355.

A close second favourite for colours though are these lush green H194‘s. These too are made from beautiful leather, suede, patent and fishnet panels, as well as padded ankles and the heart detail at the heel. I can see me wearing these to death with skinny jeans. They are also £355.

The shade of these Moccassino ballerina flats is just to die for in my opinion. Especially with the yummy blue against the pink. They are made from patent leather with contrasting trims, the heart detail on the toecap and profiled H on the heel. The leather is polished using a special procedure and product which brings out its incredible brightness and translucency. Love! These are £240.

To match my flats, I think I’ll take the large purse (or rather, little handbag) in the same colours. In the same ultra glossy patent, the bag features exposed hand-dyed trims as well as a removable shoulder strap. There is one ‘accordion’ style pocket inside, as well as four card slots. It’s £355.

I do think that this small purse is super practical though, and so black would seem a good choice (and looks fabulous against the pop of pink too!). The contrasting leather interiors include a mobile phone pocket with four card slots and an accordion pocket. It would fit beautifully inside your hand bag, but personally I think it’s a great party bag for a night of dancing! This one is £275.

You can see the entire collection here….what are your favourites?

Ems x

Wednesday Wants….. from now on they shall be in triplicate

So I rather enjoyed choosing three things for my Wednesday Wants last week…. and who can blame me? Three imaginary / virtual purchases are better than one right? And so I figure that from now on, and whenever I have difficulty choosing, my Wednesday Wants shall come in threes…..

Lulu Guinness at Uniqlo

I’ve been crazy about everything Lulu Guinness for the longest time….. I have all sorts of bits and bobs in her amazing designs….. a gorgeous lilac corduroy hand bag…. a cameo fronted compact…. a couple of vanity cases and make up bags…. and the wonderful pop up book ‘Put on Your Pearls Girls’. All have been kind gifts or bargain finds though, as the brand is not at everyday spending prices. However, teaming up with Uniqlo has brought the brand to a much more affordable level…..

One of the latest high streeters to start collaborating with iconic designers, I’ve loved Uniqlo‘s Orla Kiely and Laura Ashley ranges. Bringing adored prints together with their well cut tees, I think it’s a great way to get hold of that designer you’ve always coveted. Of course, they sell out fast though (hardly any of the Orla Kiely stuff left) and I can see that one of my favourites has already gone from the website…. but here are my top three from the Lulu range (all at £14.90, but on offer at the minute at £12.90!)…..

Love knot stacker rings by Ring Binder

As a Folksy and Etsy account holder, one of my biggest browsing dangers are the newsletters they send each day…. there is always something I like that is featured, and some of them are so temptingly well priced! One amazing shop I have found on Etsy is Ring Binder, a treasure trove of clever and beautiful jewellery. I think my favourite has to be her set of three knot stacker rings, which you can have made to size and come in copper, silver plated copper and gold plated copper…. they are an amazing £7.67 for the three! I love the way the shop owner and maker Sarah photographs her items on leaves, and I think she has a wonderful collection….. I adore the little ‘Yes’ and ‘Oui’ rings too, and the cute little bow necklaces.

Trevor Jackson Skull Teapot

So I’ve got some kind of skull obsession going on at the minute….. possibly because of my new interest in everything Mexican Day of the Dead. I’ve been spotting gorgeous skull jewellery and bits and bobs for ages, but when Adam found this beauty I had to scream ‘waaaaaant’! It is currently sold out on the retailer’s website as far as I can see, not that it changes much as it’s a whopping $900! Still, a girl can dream right?

The creator, Trevor Jackson is a Seattle based artist / graphic designer / ceramicist / apparel designer / poet / performance artist. Often a cultural observation, his work uses slip-casting with earthenware and “traditional” Delft painting techniques (a style I have loved for ages), as well as transfer-ware applications. “He has a reverence for the traditions from which he draws, but will often retool those same traditional images and apply them in unconventional contexts”….. such as this remarkable tea pot…..

I want it allllll!!!

Something from the weekend….. back oop North: a visit to Leeds

Did you have a good weekend? I certainly did! I was so busy yesterday though that I couldn’t share it on the Monday as usual…. I couldn’t wait to put my weekend purchases to use (more revealed later!).

On Thursday morning (starting the weekend early as ever), we packed ourselves some cheese sandwiches and a flask of coffee, and made our way to Kings Cross for another trip up North. Adam’s brother and sister in law live in Leeds with two wonderful dogs, so we were looking forward to a visit, and seeing some friends up there too.

Out walking the dogs, view from our window, snuggling up with the dogs

As soon as we arrived at the house, it was straight outdoors for a walk with the dogs….. we had left behind a foggy, grey London, so it was a delight to get outside into the countryside, under a much bluer sky. On our return, it was time for tea, and we began our weekend of gluttony with scones (with jam and clotted cream of course) and smoothies (to try to be healthy). We mooched about for the afternoon, chatting, putting the world to rights etc. until a supper of garlic and chilli pasta (I must get the recipe) followed by a film.

I’m not sure how we missed Warrior at the cinema (anything with Tom Hardy is usually prioritised), but I’m so pleased to have finally seen it. When I was asked if I’d like to watch a film about cage fighting, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but as one would hope, this film has much more to it. Telling the story of two estranged brothers, and how they transpired to enter the same cage fighting tournament, it’s impossible not to grow fond of several of the characters…… By the time of the big fights at the end of the film, I was really rooting for them. The fighting itself is pretty compelling too, and I have to say I came away thinking I really must go and see some in real life! (I believe they often have events like that at the Troxy so will be keeping an eye out!)

Smoothie, Scones, Pancakes

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs, and another walk with the dogs, Friday morning saw us walking into nearby Farsley for a few errands. As we arrived to the bottom of the high street, we were enchanted to see the old fashioned grocers and DIY shop, and as we walked up the high street to the little Post Office, I was very taken in by this charming, Yorkshire village. Having posted my parcel (another order from my Folksy shop), we took a look into a little haberdashers I’d had recommended, R.L. and C.M. Bond Ltd. I was immediately blown away by the walls upon walls of buttons and ribbons, and soon began rooting through the little baskets of vintage haberdashery. I came away rather poorer in purse, although very much richer in buttons! I couldn’t wait to turn them into new treasures, on rings, cufflinks, bracelets etc….. and so that’s what I did for most of yesterday!

Farsley High Street, R.L. & C.M. Bond Haberdashers

We made our way into town on Friday evening, to meet dear friends Craig and Sheli. It was Sheli’s birthday yesterday, so we celebrated with dinner at Little Tokyo. We’ve all been meaning to go for a while, and it was certainly worth the wait. We started with cocktails in the little bar area upstairs, next to the cute koi pond…. Sheli had their Apple Mojo, Adam sampled the Blackberry Martini, and I went for a twist on my old favourite, their Bloody Geisha. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could really taste the wasabi used in place of Tabasco, without it being dreadfully hot…. in fact I really enjoyed this version so may well try it at home!

Little Tokyo, Bloody Geisha Cocktail

Next, we were lead downstairs to a beautiful dining area with chunky wooden tables and sunken seating. Adam and I shared a starter of perfect vegetable tempura, before our Bento box mains (Adam and I went for the tofu steak, Sheli the chicken teriyaki, and Craig the chicken katsu) all of which came with yummy rice, ginger-dressed salad and more of the wonderful tempura. Ours were about £12, and I can certainly vouch for their value….we were totally stuffed with the delicious meal and struggled to quite finish!

Tofu Bento Box, Little Tokyo, Vegetable Tempura

And we really would have left it there, had we not been presented with such alluring dessert menus….. (Japanese fortune cookies with sesame and coconut….. green tea ice cream….. ginger cheesecake with cointreau sorbet….. coconut ice cream….. lychee ice cream…..) but we really couldn’t turn down such wonderful sounding dishes, despite our groaning tummies. Sheli had a lovely strawberry sorbet, which came served in a bowl made from ice, in which were slices of kiwi and rose petals (will be copying that idea!)…. Craig went for the amazing ‘crispy parcels’ which are essentially marshmallow spring rolls (utterly incredible!)…. and Adam and I shared the delicious Japanese style profiteroles, which are filled with ice cream and topped with a yummy sweet seaweed and sesame sauce. We could not have been much more impressed…. I was particularly pleased to see Adam had enjoyed the meal, having spent time in Japan and struggling to find a good authentic Japanese restaurant in England.

Japanese Profiteroles, Strawberry Sorbet, Marshmallow Spring Rolls

The gluttony didn’t stop there though, as we breakfasted on pancakes with maple syrup on Saturday morning, before heading out to explore a newly opened exhibition at the University of Leeds. ‘Marks in Time’ opened on the Friday at the Marks and Spencer Company Archive, and is a permanent exhibition featuring just some of the amazing collection there. To celebrate the 100th birthday of Marks & Spencer in 1984, they began to collect together hundreds of historical items from all over the Company and created the M&S Company Archive. A dedicated team at the site has put together and catalogued more than 70,000 items from the last 128 years, charting the iconic brand’s history.

Starting with the company’s early years, large glass cabinets displayed cards of buttons, pretty tea cups, clocks and household necessities….. it wasn’t until the 1920s cabinet that clothing began to appear. The exhibition is a real reflection on fashion history though, as well as social history, charting trends throughout rationing, post-war optimism, and developments in food technology. True innovators, the display explains how M&S became the first store to sell fresh chicken using their ‘cold-chain’ method, and began to stock innovative new products such as Terylene and the chicken kiev!

It’s not a huge exhibition, but it is well curated and interesting, and with hands-on displays, dressing up and even a colouring in table, I’d say it’s well worth a look-in if you’re nearby. And it’s free to get in.

Next, we ventured back into town, and decided to investigate the Silver 70s exhibition at Leeds City Museum. Running until Sunday 22nd April, the free exhibition celebrates a highly eventful decade, inviting visitors to explore a house in 1970s Leeds. Filled with typically colourful and garish wallpaper and fashions, the exhibition features some very recognisable and much loved (by me at least) home wares, books and toys….. in each room I spotted memories in the form of Sooty puppets, a copy of Tufty, Fisher Price pull-along dogs, pastel coloured Tupperware (that my Mum still has!), stainless steel tea sets and that big plastic tree house toy that I think we had at nursery school.

Having been born in the 80s I was surprised to see so many things I recognised, but then I suppose things didn’t move quite so fast then….. and I’m not ashamed either, to say that I truly enjoyed the exhibition’s soundtrack of The Carpenters, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and The Commodores. I also loved the interactive elements….. design your own outfit and wallpaper based on 1970s fashion….. digging for fruit and veg reflecting the ‘grow your own’ culture and the wonderful ‘The Good Life’ show. I also got the chance to design my own Jubilee plate, next to a cabinet filled with Silver Jubilee memorabilia….. I can’t wait to see the equivalent collections for this year’s Diamond Jubilee! I wouldn’t at all mind a home filled with the gorgeous furniture and nick-nacks we saw though, and even the lime green kitchen units! Again, well worth a visit for anyone my age and older if you’re in the area.
By that time, we needed a sit down and some sustenance. We found both in the stunning Tiled Hall which sits between the Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery. Surrounded by gorgeously ornate green tiles, grand marble columns, a barrel-vaulted mosaic ceiling and the original parquet flooring (all only recently rediscovered), we ate yummy courgette and lime cake, and Caramac ginger fudge cake, along with great coffee. You can actually hire the hall for events….which I’ve mentally noted for future!

Afterwards we wandered a little into the gallery next door (especially enjoying the excellent Stanley Spencer paintings on the staircase) before heading over to snoop about the shops in the Victorian Quarter. I love the old arcades and the pedestrianised high street, not to mention the excellent selection of shops there! The Harvey Nichols window display was as impressive as ever, but better still were the windows at Mulberry which I’m sure were designed to tell Adam to buy me one of the Alexa hand bags cunningly draped over giant ice creams. He didn’t take the hint though unfortunately!

Dolls in the window at Mary Shortle, Leeds City Museum, Window at Harvey Nichols

For dinner, it had to be a trip to Bradford for a curry. We were super impressed by the extensive vegetarian options and gorgeous dishes at Saffron Desi…. the best of which was probably Vera’s Lahore Nihari Special with lamb cooked on the bone. My Channa Paneer Biryani was delicious too, and it was refreshing to see so many options for the vegetarian biryani…. rather than just the same thing as the others with the meat taken out!

Heading home rather stuffed, we settled down to watch How To Train Your Dragon, which Adam has been going on about for ages. It didn’t disappoint, and he’s probably right that it’s one of the best non-Pixar animations of recent years.

Sweet Lassi, Lollipop reward at Saffron DEsi

It was a slightly earlier start on Sunday, so that we could eat our breakfast of pancakes before heading over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in good time. I’ve been wanting to go for ages, and the clear day promised some good photo time. The park is a wonderful place that “aims to challenge, inspire, inform and delight”, and is visited by some 300,000 visitors every year. Open all year round, there is really nowhere like it I know of to see amazing artwork in the open air. The grounds themselves are worth the visit, and it was lovely to wander about with the dogs (who are allowed in nearly all the outdoor spaces whilst on a lead), especially on a gorgeous spring day.

There is certainly something about seeing such stunning sculptures in the remarkable landscape too, and in the natural light. I loved finding the next piece as we explored gardens, fields and woods. My favourites included Anthony Caro’s ‘Promenade’ which appears to be watching over the beautiful and expansive lake….. Antony Gormley’s ‘One and Another’ which is a surprise find atop a huge tree trunk, rather like those hidden on top of landmarks such as The Roundhouse….. Marcia Farquhar’s beautiful, giant rocking horse, ‘The Horse Is A Noble Animal’…… and Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ‘Seated Figures’ which preside in duplicated, rusted form next to the charming Camelia House. I also enjoyed spying at the menagerie through the trees (we had to take the route adjacent to the menagerie path with the dogs) and adored the almost secret grotto, Lady Eglinton’s Well, which is carved into rocks next to the reservoir damn. A little owl sculpture which used to sit above the stone dating the well to 1685 has long gone, but the spring it was built around still creates a well in front of the grotto, which was a gift to local people.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

As we crossed over the pretty bridge back to the car park, I was reminded of one of my interviews for my degree course, which actually took place at Bretton Hall, the house in the centre of the park. The others marvelled that I’d chosen London over this picturesque setting to go to college, and I had to rather wonder why I’d not been more tempted to spend my student days there. Still, things would have worked out rather differently I’m sure, so I’m grateful for my choice. We will certainly be visiting the sculpture park again though (which is free to enter…you just pay to park) as there is so much more to explore…. I’m hoping we can go in the summer for a whole day and take a picnic to eat on the lawn. I really can’t recommend a trip there enough.

Bretton Hall and Grounds at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We drove home via Blacker Hall Farm Shop…. we’d foolishly hoped to have lunch in the restaurant there, forgetting that it was Mother’s Day. It was fully booked of course, but we still enjoyed pootling about the farm shop, tasting home made cakes and picking up some bits to tide us over….. including what is probably the best cheese scone I have ever tasted!

After we’d returned and packed ready to leave, we snoozed away the afternoon snuggled on the sofa with the dogs. But soon it was time to head back to the station to make our way back to London. The journey passed brilliantly fast as we watched a few episodes of my new favourite New Girl though, and before long, we were home for a much needed early night!

Ems x

P.S. My proper photos of the weekend are on my Flikr page, here…..

Sorting my growing button collection back at home

Planning for a rainy weekend……

We’re set for rain this weekend, so you’ll have to plan well and ensure you have indoor plans too! Here are some of my ideas for things to do in London and beyond……

Shopping

St David’s Day True Taste Market at the Southbank Centre

In celebration of St David’s Day, the usual food market behind the Royal Festival Hall will showcase Welsh produce including lamb, cheeses and chocolate. There will be lots of Welsh products to buy as well as cookery demos to watch from the likes of James Sommerin and Rhodri Edwards.

An exhibition

Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum

I love this world-renowned annual exhibition and have been going for years. Hosting the most remarkable images of nature, wildlife and the environment inside a specially built space within the museum, I adore the mixture of rarely seen wonders of the world, alongside comical and diverting images that could well have been taken on our door step. The photographs are selected from thousands of entries all over the world, and presented beautifully on backlit screens.

I would very much advise booking online in advance and going earlier in the morning as it does get very busy.

Until 11th March

Adults £9

To drink

Town House, 31 Beauchamp Place

Whilst you’re in Knightsbridge at the Natural History Museum, visit the elegant Town House Bar. Serving a variety of cocktails and Asian Yakatori skewers over three floors, this sophisticated venue is nestled within an ivy covered Georgian house on exclusive Beauchamp Place.

A recipe

On Saturday, I’ll be sharing Adam’s Healthy (ish) Spaghetti Carbonara recipe…. so get in the eggs and bacon.

A Film

You can still catch The Artist and The Descendents at lots of cinemas, both of which I suggest you don’t miss. We’ll be off to see the well-rated The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel though…..will let you know how it is! I can’t recommend Rampart I’m afraid though, as much as I thought it was going to be brilliant. Woody Harrelson is marvellous but I’m afraid I found the film rather dragged.

Out and about in London

The Big Egg Hunt

200 eggs created by leading artists, designers, architects and jewellers (including Polly Morgan, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Bruce Oldfield, Nicky Haslam and Mat Collishaw) have been hidden all over the capital. A fundraising event for Elephant Family and Action for Children challenges the public to try spot them all, in order to win The Diamond Jubilee Egg which is valued at over £100,000……the unique piece of jewellery has been specially crafted by Faberge, and is encrusted with 60 fine gems on an 18 carat gold egg.

At the end of the hunt, all of the eggs will be gathered together to be auctioned for charity. But I have my eye on the Le Collier Plume D’Or which has been created specifically for the Fabergé Big Egg Banquet charity auction and is one of a series of unique couture egg pendants, “created by Fabergé to re-imagine and pay homage to the artistry and ingenuity of the legendary, iconic jewelled Imperial Easter Eggs, the most famous of Fabergé works of art, and a vital part of the continuing legend.”

We’re hoping to enter the photography competition once we’ve been on our hunt….. there’s a chance to win a great Sony camera and to have your photo exhibited at Somerset House as part of World Photo London.

To help you on your hunt you can find zone maps here.

And to stand a chance of winning the big egg prize you need to get hunting soon….. all text entries must be in by 3rd April.

Good luck! And have a brilliant weekend!

Ems x

London Fashion Week AW / 2012…. My pick of the trends

I have never considered myself at all trendy, in fact, probably anything but. I love thrifting, vintage shopping, charity shops, mixing and matching etc. far too much. But at the same time I adore fashion, and to me, the trends of London Fashion Week are a taste of things to come…..here is what is going to be on the High Street soon and what you’re going to want.

Whilst I never go in for a whole trend and clothe myself top to bottom in Top Shop’s very best ‘now’ look, I am definitely prone to a little peer pressure….and because I could happily shop every day and collect a wardrobe the size of the entire United Kingdom (if only) it’s pretty hard not to succumb to the impressions of a trend or two.

And so it is with great excitement that I look out for the offerings of London Fashion Week and I find myself aching for a huge shopping session. I’m not one to be swayed too badly though, and will always pick out as many ‘never in this worlds’ as ‘wants’, and so here is my little round-up of my favourite trends to come out of London Fashion Week Autumn Winter 2012….and a little about those I certainly won’t be hankering after too!…..

The Peplum

Perhaps because it has its roots firmly in British Fashion History, I’m ever so keen on this trend. A cute and chic frill over a skirt, or from the waist down of a blouse… it’s so deliciously vintage. Not to mention the wonderful effect it has on those of us with proper girly figures…..

Peplum at Burberry Prorsum, Mary Katrantzou, Stella McCartney

Cinched waists, bows and belts for an hourglass figure

And along those same lines, I will always be grateful to see the hourglass figure featured in a season’s trends…. blessed with large hips and a defined waist, I love the little bows and belts cinching in the waists and providing a voluminous skirt beneath…..

Cinched waists, bows and belts at Burberry Prorsum, Erdem and Stella McCartney

Big Knits

I can’t always be girly and refined though, and my current winter uniform of over-sized jumper and leggings is both comfy and practical. And, if it’s on the runways, it can’t be *that* slobby!…..

Big Knits at Acne, Mary Katrantzou and Jonathan Saunders

Leggings

And speaking of leggings…. True, on the runways they weren’t so much a comfort feature as a chic alternative to tights….and seen with longer length skirts and heels rather than minis and pumps as they have been, I’m keen to take this look on……

Leggings at Clements Ribeiro, Issa and Bora Aksu

Winter Florals

It goes without saying that the spring trends will feature girly florals, but I’m delighted to see some here for winter too, which is of course when we really need some cheering up and colour lift……

Winter Florals at Erdem, Giles and Temperley London

Military

I like this because it’s feminine but not girly….. I’d love to invest in a really good military style coat this year, and one with a good waist-hugging belt would be splendid…..

Military at Burberry Prorsum, Top Shop Unique and Alexander McQueen

As for the not-so-likelys…. I really can’t see me picking up the padded hips seen at Beradi, McQueen and Mary Katrantzou (I have enough in that area already thanks)….. nor am I keen to accentuate my chunky calves with the mid-length skirts seen at Roksanda Ilincic and Top Shop Unique…… and it’s a definite no to the loose leather trousers everywhere! I’m not yet taken with all the purples on show, but then I said that last year about orange and then became obsessed with it…. It is more likely though that I’ll take advantage of all those lovely pink hues, like those at Holly Fulton.

All in all though, and without having been to a single show….I’d say that this year’s London Fashion Week has thrown up some very useable trends. Now just to get shopping!

Pancake Day!

Ready, steady, flip!

My name is Emily and I can’t make pancakes. There, I’ve said it. It is a constant source of embarrassment to this northern lass that I can’t make Yorkshire Pudding or Toad in the Hole (I’m usually a pretty good cook otherwise). It’s the batter see, I can’t make it work. It always comes out too runny or lumpy or just doesn’t work when it’s cooked. I suppose I shouldn’t feel too badly…. the pancake making in my home as a child was always a man’s job (although my Mum can at least boast a decent Yorkshire Pud).

And so it falls to the man of the house to make them today. I’ve prepared everything at least so that he only has to whip up the batter and get flipping. Here’s what I’ve got ready to go with ours…..

  • Free Range Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Cheese – the first ones will be savoury
  • Chopped Banana – a classic
  • Nutella – we have too many catering size tubs of this lying around for some reason and must get through it
  • Maple syrup – we are huge maple syrup fiends in this house, any excuse
  • Banana curd – this was home made by us and is brilliant with waffles, so we’re hoping its first pancake experience is a good one (perhaps I’ll share the recipe soon)

Growing up, my understanding of making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was that it was a way to use up foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of Lent. I now believe it’s also a way to cram in all that good stuff too, before embarking on your fast….. I don’t suppose very many of us go beyond giving up chocolate these days, but a tradition’s a tradition right?!

Apparently, in places like Newfoundland and Labrador, small tokens are frequently cooked in Shrove Tuesday pancakes. It sounds rather like finding the sixpence in the Christmas Pudding….. each of these tokens though are meant to be divinatory…. for example, the person who finds a coin will be wealthy. This reminds me of the little amulets the pilgrims to Real de Catorce leave for St Francis of Assisi that I saw at the wonderful Miracles and Charms exhibtion.

In England though, Shrove Tuesday means pancake races……. a tradition said to have originated when a housewife was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time, until she heard the church bells ringing for the service and raced to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. In Olney, where the fabled housewife is said to have lived, the most famous pancake race in the country has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to the finishing line while tossing the pancakes as they go. Apparently, if a man wants to participate, he must dress up as a housewife!

The seaside town of Scarborough celebrates by closing the foreshore to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting people to skip using long ropes from the nearby harbour. Whilst the children of Whitechapel in Lancashire continue a local tradition by visiting houses and asking “please a pancake”, to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition began when farm workers visited their wealthy neighbors to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings. And in Finland and Sweden, the day is associated not so much with pancakes, but with the almond paste-filled semla pastry.

We’ll be keeping it traditional this year though, and so I’m just waiting for Adam to get home to start cooking!

What are your plans for your pancake supper? Any good fool-proof recipes you can help me out with?

Happy flipping!

Ems x

Food tastes better with Love

The Waitrose Weekend paper has just told me there is scientific evidence that food made with love tastes better. Thank goodness….next time someone labels me a hippy for telling them something I make is all the better for that special ingredient, I can throw that back at them!

Seriously though, the idea that your mum’s spag bol or Sunday roast is better than even the most talented chef can create, has always fascinated me….is it because your taste buds have been brought up on those precise ratios of ingredients and cooking times….or is it because your mum prepares those meals with love? Well, as much as my curious mind may have tipped with the former explanation before, who’s to argue with the real scientists and say that love isn’t an important ingredient?

And in that vein, I’ve decided to share a whole load of ‘Made with Love’ recipes…. things we make at home all the time, and the things I look forward to visiting my mum to taste. Of course, you’ll have your own way of making lots of these I’m sure, but if the special ingredient really is ‘love’ then I hope these simple, hearty recipes will inspire you to add just that as you try them out……

Here’s a quick list of some of the recipes I intend to share:

  • Cottage Pie
  • Spaghetti Carbonara
  • Minced Meat Pie
  • Chilli Con Carne
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Apple Crumble

Watch this space……

Ems x

P.S. Apologies for the drippiness of my most recent three posts…. never before have I spouted on about love and other such gooeyness so much (must be all those heart-wielding teddy bears everywhere)….. Normal service will resume with the next post.

Because it’s Valentine’s Day……. A little Love Token

So after our visit to the Miracles and Charms exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, and because I’ve been toying with ideas of crafty arty projects, today I made a little love token…..it being Valentines and all.

I’ve been thinking of ways to create little worlds from bits and bobs, and love the idea of making things from lost treasure (or rubbish if you prefer). I’ve always been fascinated by small, detailed things that I could squirrel away, none more so than the little Charlie Chaplin matchbox toy that my brother and I fought over as children (it WAS mine). And so I got to thinking about making little scenes inside matchboxes…… and I finally made one today…..

Adam and I are always joking around saying I love you THIS much, and gesticulating to show just how much….. I might reach right out to the walls, and then Adam might just hold two fingers about an inch apart and tell me he loves me that much on an atomic scale. He likes to try to trick me too by doing something similar and saying he loves me that much on a galactic scale….I usually fall for it or spend ages trying to work it out.

Anyway, with that in mind I have made this little love token inside a Swan Vesta matchbox, where a man standing on the whole world is stretching his arms out to say ‘I love you THIS much.’

I hope you like it, despite the sappiness. I’m planning to make some more, although perhaps less romantical, and perhaps get around to selling them on Etsy. Thoughts, suggestions and requests gratefully received!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

P.S. Thank you to Adam for taking the photos! xxx

A Pretentious Valentines….. Our way to celebrate Valentine’s Day

Right now, those of you who know me, may well be thinking that Valentine’s Day and all its associated ephemera are really not my bag. And you’d not be wrong. But then those of you who know me really well, may indeed know that I love to celebrate Valentine’s Day…..in my own way……

Since we got together, Adam and I have honed a little tradition for this day. Not fond of the overly commercial excuse to remind each other that we love one another (and we certainly remember just how pantsy it was when we were single), we decided to do things our own way. Now, maybe you won’t think this is romantic at all, and I’m not suggesting everyone celebrate today this way (although I certainly believe it is the BEST way to celebrate today), but I just thought I’d share how we ‘do Valentines’ in the hope of inspiring those who might like to move away from the more conventional way…..

We did Valentines this year on Saturday, mainly because we were so excited about it, and also because it meant we had a much longer evening to enjoy it than on a week day. There’s a real formula to our Valentine’s Day, and I can’t see us ever budging from it….here are the vital ingredients:

1. The entertainment

For our Valentine’s Day entertainment, we like to choose a film to watch at home on the sofa (snuggled up). The main thing in the choice of said film is that it should NOT be conventionally romantic. Having chosen Lost Boys and Big Trouble in Little China as our last two Valentines films, we have a sort of criteria: the film should ideally involve scariness (in a silly way), datedness (ideally we want something from the 80’s), and certainly an air of the utterly ridiculous.

This year, we really wanted to incorporate a Sci-Fi element, and so after asking for advice from our most discerning (*cough*) film buff friends, we arrived at a decision: Lifeforce.

Lifeforce is a 1985 classic, directed by Tobe Hooper and based on the novel The Space Vampires, published in 1976, by Colin Wilson. There really is everything we could want in this film….. Space Vampires….. a comet threatening the planet….. Zombie Apocalypse…… a romance between an alien and a human (or is he?….)….. and, PATRICK STEWART.

We really did excel ourselves this year…… I can’t think how we can top this next year.

2. The food

This bit is very important, and in fact we haven’t wavered in our choice since starting this tradition. The meal should be ordered in, and no time spent slaving over preparation or dish-washing. We have always opted for a Chinese take out, although any style of take away will do. It should have a feast-like quality (you will see we didn’t hold back, with our entire coffee table laden with naughty treats), and the idea isn’t to sit together over candle light and enjoy some decadent menu (plenty of other days for that), but to enjoy over-eating an obscene amount of non-healthy food. You can use plates, cutlery and such of course (we’re not complete barbarians).

3. The drinks

This is where a smidgen of sophistication can slip in…. if you were going to choose Fish and Chips for your take away meal of choice then I would say a pot of tea would both elegantly partner this and also enter very much into the spirit of the festivities. We usually go for wine though, and because I can’t drink anything else, a nice one. This year we went for the rather lovely Crying Vine Shiraz. The spicy and berry-rich flavour was enough to match our rather greasy menu and its mish-mash of flavours, and there was something about the name that fitted our not-commercially-romantic theme.

4. The mood

Now I’m a big tea-light fan all of the time, so lighting a few candles is allowed, providing they are not in the shape of hearts or sickly-sweet-scented (that would ruin your enjoyment of the food of course). We don’t get AT ALL dressed up for our Valentines either, and more to the point, it’s important to wear something comfortable to allow sofa snuggling (read: slobbing) and of course plenty of ‘give’ for that big meal. I did make an effort to put a bit of make up on (never without the mascara anyway) and comb my hair, but there isn’t really much point glamming up for this kind of night, when we are both mainly looking at the space vampires and zombies on the screen anyway.

Now I know this will sound horribly unromantic to plenty of you, and perhaps you’ll feel sorry for us even that we are ‘missing out’ on red roses, heart-wielding teddy bears and Marks and Spencer’s special sparkling rosé. And it’s fair to say that our traditional Valentines is indeed a rebellion against the commercially acceptable modes of expressing romance. But in honesty, we really value this day because it’s sort of a way of us saying we *can* be all romantical, but we don’t need to follow anyone else’s rules of how to do so.

So, er, Happy Valentine’s / Zombie Apocalypse / Rip-off-Red-Roses Day everyone!