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Seriously weather, do behave yourself

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

It's hailing - AGAIN! I've already been thoroughly rained on today and also nearly blown over by the wind which is quite some achievement given that I'm no lightweight! I would like to respectfully request that the bad weather sods right off. I have dresses and impractical shoes to wear and I'm bored of the rain and wind now.

Today's outfit was basically this one as I have shamefully few pairs of shoes that actually keep my feet dry. I had to start with boots and work around that. As there wasn't much point wasting camera memory on virtually identical photos, I took some snaps whilst I was out and about instead. Location - an excessively windy and rainy Liverpool city centre (I escaped the office to go on a Social Media Marketing course - rather fun just nattering about blogs and Twitter!).

You wait for one bus and then seven turn up at once...

The main train station is being redeveloped and this rather quirky little paving stone is one of the features.

Yup, Primark really does take up almost the entirety of this building.

And finally, it's not a Liverpool based blog without a shot of the Liver Buildings, is it? I wasn't down on the waterfront today but this Liver Bird popped its head above the new shopping development and was just asking to have its photo taken.

ps - I am suffering slight shoppers guilt, having just spent more than I planned on a gorgeous blazer. It wasn't really expensive, but my clothing budget this month is miniscule and I appear to have blown it already. Whoops! When I feel guilt-free enough to take it out of the bag, I may share a photo.

Are you ready?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

to see me without makeup and with two day old bedhead? Of course you are! Actually, I don't think this photo is too hideous (you should have seen the other ones!), and I did promise a while ago that I wasn't going to shy away from posting the more boring outfits. So here you go:

Jeans & black top - Primark
Grey top - Dorothy Perkins
Necklace - Accessorize
Ancient pashmina
And odd socks of course!

So my question of the day is - how tall do Primark think that short people are?! These jeans are definitely from the short range and they're a good 5 inches too long. I've worn them scrunched down over boots today which didn't exactly look great and although I quite like the turn-up look, I'm not so sure it's the way forward. The only reason I did it for the photo was because the hems were soaking wet from walking through puddles . Hmmm, probably not worth bothering about too much as they're already too big and hopefully I'll be into a size smaller fairly soon.

And speaking of puddles, has anybody else had any interesting weather today? I was merrily typing away at my desk this afternoon and then GLOOM descended. It was so dark outside, then this happened, followed by a glorious burst of thunder and lightning! All very exciting!

A Grand Day Out

Monday, 29 March 2010

In my book, Sundays (when not spent lying round being a sloth) are for going places. Yesterday's destination was Sizergh Castle - partly to meet up for coffee and cakes with some ladies from a forum I post on and partly just for a wander around. The forecast was either for sun or sleet: nobody could ever accuse the Lake District weather of being predictable! I decided to err on the side of caution in the end and went for sensible clothes. As it turned out, there was no sleet but it wasn't exactly warm so I think I made the right choice.

Jacket - George
Vest & jeans - Primark

Boots - M&S
Bag - H&M, via a car boot sale

I feel like such a div when I smile in photos! The photographer for the day (aka Mum) wouldn't take the photos unless I was grinning like a fool though, so what else could I do?

It's a funny house - part ancient castle, some Tudor panelled rooms, some very grand Georgian drawing rooms and some family rooms with tatty sofas overloaded with homemade and embroidered cushions. I've actually met the lady who lives there when I was there on a training course a year or two ago - she's the poshest person I've ever met but terribly nice (and rejoices in the truly splendid name of Mrs Hornyold-Strickland). She still uses some of the show rooms as guest bedrooms which I personally find rather fab. One of the lovely volunteers even gave us a sneaky peek into one of the ensuite bathrooms which was like something out of I Capture The Castle - built into the castle wall, accessed up a cute little staircase and with ancient faded chintz wallpaper and floral fittings. I was probably more pleased by being allowed to see it than is strictly normal.

As is common with most National Trust properties, sadly no interior photography allowed but here are a random selection of outdoor shots:

Front entrance

I just love all the different styles of windows on this wall

Spring has definitely sprung!

Gloomy, gloomy sky
It's well worth a visit so if you're ever up in that part of the world and/or you share my love for old buildings, go and have a look round.

A Saturday in the life of an undomestic goddess

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Today was all about the housework. Usually cause for much grumbling by self but I started the day off in a good mood (had a lovely lie in and then woke up to glorious sunshine outside) and it continued, so I didn't mind doing the chores today.

I braved Asda to get the food shopping done - the world and his wife were in there which usually causes me to get extreme trolley rage but no, today was all very chilled out. Shopping done, I headed home, did some laundry and then ventured into the garden. I don't have green fingers. Basically, if it's sprouting and doesn't look as if it's going to grow into a daffodil, rose or hydrangea, I'm likely to think it's a weed. Therefore I need to be under close supervision and am only trusted to edge the lawn and prune stuff (I don't do mowing). Hey, I'm an ace edger and pruner though so I say I'm just playing to my strengths. So nice being outside in the fresh air with sunshine pouring down on me and the birds singing merrily.

Then back indoors to the kitchen to try out a new recipe or two. It was one of my New Year's resolutions to try a new main course recipe every month. It's easy with baking - I can just whack open a recipe book and try my hand at pretty much anything but I'm much more reticent when it comes to "proper" cooking. Not sure why, but I'm aiming to improve. My March effort was a little bit of a cop out really in that although I was following a proper recipe, I've made the basic dish about a million times. But I doubt I'd have tried this particular combo of ingredients without the recipe, so I'm counting it.

Spring onion, new potato, baby courgette, pea, mint and goat's cheese frittata

As I was in the mood for a bit of culinary creativity, I attempted a dairy free version of this rather fabulous recipe, as featured on this week's Delicious Miss Dahl. I didn't have high hopes, mainly because soya cream is, quite frankly, gack. However it turned out rather well, although I think I'd add a little sweetness to the melting chocolate next time as not using proper cream meant it was a little more bitter than it should be.

And just to prove that you don't always need the exact ingredients (well you try finding fresh cherries in March!), I used dried cherries and simmered them with a bit more water for a bit longer. Oh and I used cherry vodka as our drinks cabinet is unaccountably lacking cherry brandy. Hitting the cherries and the little bit of syrup at the bottom of the pot is utterly delicious!

And the rest of the day? Various chores, a spot of room tidying and putting my new clothes away in the wardrobe. I ordered a couple of bits from Tesco during their clothing sale - the skirts are both the same style (ie the same as the floral one in my last post) but I love the grey and black floral pattern and the sheer exuberance of the colour of the red one. And who can resist a cute pair of pj's?

And a mini Primark haul... I was spend neutral on this as I returned a cardi that made me look deformed in the shoulders (cost £11) and picked up all this lovely lot (total cost, £11). Rather pleased with myself as there are some seriously nice dresses in store at the moment and I was strong willed enough not to buy them. The curse of the rails struck again though - rows and rows of cardigans in the exact colours I wanted and ALL in a size 8! Grrrrr!!!

As it was Earth Hour tonight, I took the traditional approach to an evening spent in candlelight and played some games - dominoes, spillikins and lots of card games. I should turn the lights out more often as it was really rather good fun.

Gosh, I'm on chatty form tonight. Congratulations if you've got this far and I do apologise if you've been bored by the trivialities of my day. Here's a final pic of some beautiful flowers that someone bought me to cheer me up. Cream, lilac and white stocks, just so utterly lovely.

Off I go to put the clocks forward...

Two outfits

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Just a brief update today as I'm still feeling a bit glum. Nowt serious and I'm sure it'll pass but it doesn't leave me feeling massively inclined to write jolly blog entries.

It was a return to the landing for photos as it's done nothing but rain for the past two days. Come on weather, sort yourself out. I'm sick of having wet feet!

So yesterday's outfit was:

Jumper, vest & headband - Dorothy Perkins
Skirt - Tesco
Tights - Ethel Austin
Pumps & bracelet - Primark

The tights are zig zag patterned and rather wonderful but I don't think it's quite come out on the photo. Never mind, I promise to take a closeup next time I wear them. The skirt is a bit bold and I didn't want to stand out too much at work, so tried to scruff down with the rest of the outfit. Quite like the way it turned out in the end.

As for today:

Dress & tights - Primark
Shrug -Evans
Brooch - gift
Various bangles

Ergh, my hair is looking vile in this photo. I'm sure it doesn't actually look that bad!

Underwear as outerwear...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Don't worry, I haven't decided to attempt the Superman look. It was more a case of discovering a pretty but rarely worn green vest with teal lace trim when turning out my underwear drawer and deciding to try and work it into an outfit somehow. It's a bit too cleavage revealing for wear by itself so I've whacked a black vest underneath it and a black cardi over it:

Jeans & cardi - Primark

Black vest - DP
Green vest - Monsoon clearance store
Scarf - gift
Boots - Evans

Do you like the new photo location? I ventured into the gardens at work on my lunchbreak - fortunately just before it started raining. I'm so envious of those of you who have a tame photographer. It's so hard to take photos of yourself outdoors without looking like a complete oddball! I had to try and avoid people (easier said than done as there are workmen everywhere at the moment) and as I'd forgotten the tripod, I had to balance the camera between a gate and a stone wall. Awkward!

Wonderful Shops - Part One

Monday, 22 March 2010

Welcome to a new (and I hope occasional) feature about shops and websites that are in my good books. No bribery involved, I just fancied spreading the word about some of my favourite places to spend money.

First to feature is Beautiful Notebooks .
How did I discover this fab little website? Well I keep a diary but I have two particular requirements when it comes to the notebooks I use - they must be A5(ish) size and they must have plain pages. You might think that it's fairly easy to find something that fits the bill? You'd be wrong. Paperchase's supply of plain paged notebooks is growing increasingly limited and boring and Amazon were no help - I'm not going to order something if you won't tell me what type of paper it is!

Then I remembered Paper Blanks, the trusty supplier of my actual diaries (appointment style ones). They make gorgeous, luxurious products that take in traditional methods and use sustainable materials and they're just so beautiful. I've usually bought them from Waterstones before but the range is never as big as I'd like it to be.

A quick google search later and I turned up . Immediately sucked in by the name, I had a delicious half hour or so of looking through all the various options before plumping for the foiled old leather version. I do wish that a couple more of the styles came with plain pages but we can't have everything we want, and their range is far superior to most places. And best of all, given my lack of patience, the site offers free UK p&p and the notebook was with me within 48 hours. That's what I call service! It turns out that the website is run by the people who own The Curious Otter Bookshop. What a cracking name for a shop. If I'm ever down in Devon, I'm heading straight there!

The notebooks are a little more expensive than the bog standard Paperchase version but frankly I'm bored of plain black notebooks. I want something beautiful to write my thoughts into. Also, I'm all for supporting the small retailers rather than big chains. So I'll definitely be heading back in a few months when I've filled this one up with my nightly wafflings.

Sunday evening...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

and I'm feeling somewhat blah. Today's outfit was chucked together at the last minute (and is consquently not very interesting) as I was in a rush to get out of the house to watch the football. Kinda wish I hadn't bothered as it was a very dull game and we lost. Grrr!

Jacket - George (it usually looks better fitted than in this pic)
Top, cardi & jeans - Primark
Pumps & earrings - Accessorize
Bangle - Shared Earth

I haven't been in a good mood for the rest of the day. The power of sport eh? I attempted to jolly myself up by doing some baking . We had many manky bananas that needed to be used or binned so I attempted the following for the first time.

A gently steaming banana and sultana cake for tea break at work tomorrow. I really need to invest in some new bakeware as I don't have a small deep cake tin. I had to use a 9inch one for this which was really too big and spread the mixture too thinly, so it's not as high as I would like it to be.

This recipe was actually for banana bread but the loaf tin was too big for the amount of mixture I had so I popped it into muffin cases instead. Cooked quicker and tastes just as delicious!

And just to end with, two things that are definitely helping cheer me up this evening. A slightly mental looking cat, and some rather sculpturally droopy tulips which were a present from a lovely friend:

Project Wardrobe

Saturday, 20 March 2010

I have been meaning to do something about the monstrosity that is my wardrobe for so long. As I'm a truly fantastic procrastinator, it's only taken me a year to get round to it! Here is the problem (well, half of it anyway):

Very ugly! I really don't like fitted wardrobes anyway but who in their right mind would install something that takes up almost an entire wall of a bedroom and make it so BEIGE?! This is only the wardrobe half - the one on the other side of the chimney breast houses the boiler and a few shelves so has my bags and jewellery and assorted rubbish stashed in it. Ach, this is the problem with living in a rented house, it's all someone else's bizarre taste. So today's task was to make them look pretty. And what did I need to do this? Well, an extra pair of hands (I roped my Mum in to help) and the following:

One roll of expensive wallpaper, double sided sellotape, scissors and a chair to stand on as we're both midgets.

It took much longer than I expected. Things to lay the blame on - my inability to cut in a straight line, the wallpaper being weirdly fluffy once cut into, blunt scissors, weirdly unstraight sellotape, my bad temper, the wardrobe doors for a) not being straight and b) constantly sliding sideways... the list goes on. But it's done and it looks gorgeous, even if I do say so myself! I can't do anything about the uber-beigeness of the rest of the room but this is a good start and it's making me smile every time I walk into the room and look at it.

And just to further prove the dreadful choice it was to install said wardrobes, this is how much space there actually is inside it. The space behind the right hand sliding door is just a wall, it's so annoying!!

Feeling Springlike

Friday, 19 March 2010

It was sunny this morning, honestly it was. Ok, so it then descended into wind and lashing rain by about 5pm but at least I was dressed for the weather for half of the day! This is probably the girliest outfit I have worn since I was about 6 years old but you know what? I love it. There's something about cute pumps and funky tights (I am seriously smitten with these cornflower blue beauties) and a dress with a double layer hem that makes me want to twirl round in the sunshine smiling at random strangers. I didn't actually take it that far as I'm way too shy for that kind of behaviour but the spirit was there.

Dress & cardi - Primark
Tights - Dorothy Perkins

Pumps - Schuh
Bangle - Shared Earth
Locket - allthingsyummy @ etsy

Some of the little touches that perk my mood up just to look at them:

And just because I'm in a whimsical mood and it's Friday, a couple of pictures of me pratting around at work today. In my defence, we have an Alice in Wonderland event on this weekend and my office ended up full of hats and costumes. Who could resist donning a silly hat?

I really don't like profile shots of my face, bleurgh

Embracing my inner slob

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

I had an interesting chat this morning with some of the MSE gang about blogging and what we do and don't post pics of. I've noticed that on the days I don't post, or don't post pics of my outfit, I tend to be in jeans or slobby, comfy clothes. I'm in total admiration of all the ladies out there in the blogosphere that look immaculate every day - even their casual outfits are several degrees more stylish than my better efforts. I'm clearly not one of these higher beings and I doubt I ever will be.

But I'm not going to feel ashamed or embarassed of what I wear. To very roughly paraphrase something that a wiser person than me pointed out this morning, it's just as important for bloggers to post their house clothes and everyday lazy outfits as it is for us to show off our lovely clothes. I'm sure there are plenty of us out there, just normal women who don't always have the time, energy, fantastic wardrobe or just the knack that allows some people to always look so good. But why shouldn't we talk about our outfits when they're more everyday than we might like? Anyone that knows me in real life will rapidly come to realise that fashion is not the be all and end all of my life. I love to blog and I love to read about what other people wear and do with clothes but for me, this is about more than just showing off my good days.

So here goes, I'm embracing one of my lazy outfits. I haven't even brushed my hair today - how bad is that?!

Jeans & sleeveless cardi - Primark

Top - Dorothy Perkins
Pumps - Accessorize

Ah well, at least all the green in today's outfit meant I could wear my watch. It comes out of the drawer rarely because it's a bit bold and a tricky colour (although v.beautiful) and also because I have an awful habit of forgetting I'm wearing it and banging it off things. I bought it in an amazing little shop in Barcelona and it makes me happy every time I look at it just to remember that fab holiday. Must wear it more often.

Terrible Tuesday

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Feeling very meh today, probably due to overtiredness and general can't-be-arsedness with the busyness that is life. Plus today is just not a photogenic day. No makeup, scraggy hair, weird posture and somehow managing to look about 5 months pregnant! Do excuse all of these things please. I'll try harder tomorrow.

Dress, leggings & cardi - Primark
Necklace - Next clearance store
Bangle - pinched from Mum

I think perhaps I need to start going outside and checking the weather before I get dressed. I see sunshine streaming through the window when I wake up and I immediately think "Yay, WARM!" I should be used to English weather by now shouldn't I? Sunshine is not warmth and as my office is cavelike in terms of natural daylight and temperature, I've been pretty cold today. But I have all these pretty frocks just bursting out of my wardrobe and wanting to worn and it would be rude to shun them in favour of sensible, warm layers. Roll on higher temperatures and properly warm spring days so that I can wear this dress with wedges (and maybe even bare legs!) and not end up with frostbite on my toes.

Right, must go and swim! Apologies for the rambly tone of today's entry but I've got no brainpower left this evening.

My camera = annoying

Monday, 15 March 2010

I was muchly looking forward to showing off my new violet tights and then every single photograph I've taken this evening makes them look blue! A very nice shade of blue but very definitely blue and nothing like the glorious shade of violet they actually are. And as they're the only interesting thing about today's outfit, I feel a bit of a bore for posting an outfit pic. But I'll do it anyway:

Sans cardi...

Avec cardi...

Tunic, tights & ring - Dorothy Perkins
Cardi - Primark
Bracelet - gift

I'm not exactly sure why I am poking weirdly at my hair in both pics - I don't have nits or anything!

As I neglected to put the cake recipe in yesterday's post, here it is today:

Sweet Polenta Cake with caramelised apples

4 oz/100g plain flour
2 1/2 oz/70g polenta or yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
Grated peel of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
6oz/170g sugar
3 fl oz/80ml milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 oz/40g currants or raisins, soaked in hot water for 20 mins and well drained
3 oz/85g unsalted butter, softened
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced.
1 oz/25g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas Mark 5. Butter a spring release cake tin or line a normal one with baking parchment.
Stir the flour, polenta, baking powder, lemon peel and salt in a large bowl.
Beat the eggs and 4 oz/100g of the sugar in another bowl until foamy, then gradually beat in the milk and almond extract. Stir in the currants and then beat in the dry ingredients slowly, adding 4 tablespoons of the butter.
Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top evenly. Arrange the apple slices over the top and sprinkle with the almonds.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over a low heat and drizzle over the apples. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden and the apples are caramelised.

Then the optional part! The recipe calls for leaving it to cool for 20 minutes, then melting 4 tbsp apricot jam and 2 tbsp of water in a pan until melted and smooth, then spooning this over the apples to glaze. Leave until it's fully cooled and then serve with whipped or sour cream.

As none of us can eat cream and we usually can't be bothered waiting for the cake to cool, we eat it warm (minus the jam glaze) and sometimes with icecream. Mmmmm, it's delicious.

The recipe will stand any amount of tweaking as well. I use Doves Farm gluten free flour instead of normal flour and dairy free margarine instead of butter as it needs to be gluten and dairy free in order for us all to eat it and it still tastes amazing. You can chuck in a few splashes of lemon juice if you don't have fresh lemons to hand as well.