Sometimes food, sometimes fashion, sometimes just life .................................

Please leave me a comment, I would love to hear your views x

Thursday, 28 October 2010

A letter to Santa

Champagne coupes - I have lots of flutes but really like the idea of the glamour associated with a coupe

My Christmas wish list includes:

  • Fragments by Marilyn Monroe

  • Slinky silk jersey leopard Wildeve dress from LK Bennett

    • The Vert body lotion by Bulgari - I fell in love with this fragrance when it was the house toiletries in the Hilton Maldives Rangali, and now whenever I wear it I am transported back there - well I wish I was

    • Black knee high riding boots

    • A cream vintage cake tin

    I am going to add to this as I go along - not expecting Santa to bring them all but it might help me in the post Christmas sales.

    Wednesday, 27 October 2010

    How to wear chunky?

    Christian Dior Autumn Winter 2010/11 - I love the hand knitted jumper on the left, I saw it in Vogue and thought I can achieve that look - I can buy a High Street chunky knit and some ribbon and customise away - the flaw in the plan is that all the chunky stuff on the High Street (Zara have a long line Aran type cardigan with a belt) makes me look shall we say "matronly" - in a Hattie Jacques sort of a way (I am only a UK size 12 so this should not happen). The last time this look was "in" I borrowed the lovely man's home knitted Starsky and Hutch cardi (it was pre marriage, some time in the mid '70s) and even as a skinny size 10 the resulting sumo look was not good. Best leave the look to the man who did it best!

    Monday, 25 October 2010


    No time for a long chat, got to get out in this glorious Autumn weather - just thought you might like the photo of the guests at a "bring your own pumpkin" party my daughter went to x

    Thursday, 21 October 2010

    Andrew Marr's Quote

    "A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting" - discuss.

    Well bloody hell none of my bloggers are I am sure. Although we haven't met, in my head you are well educated, glamorous (or well turned out), with hair where you should have (or if not see my post coming soon on the Boots Smoothskin), living fantastic busy lives which make me wonder how any of you have the time to blog. You all have excellent social skills, are brilliant parents (where applicable - see Hestia's Larder, Wilderness Chic and Mrs Jones) great pet owners (where applicable - see Mrs Jones, Wilderness Chic and Hestia) amazing artists (see The Mermaid Gallery) and have fabulous wardrobes (see Mrs Jones, Christina at Fashion's Most Wanted and Wilderness Chic) and beautiful homes (see Splenderosa). Oh and obviously you are all hugely talented (anyone I have not mentioned) on the interweb!

    And anyway, do any of you have mother's with basements? Mine has a cellar - does that count? - although I don't think wireless would work down there!

    Wednesday, 20 October 2010

    The Eyes Have It

    I mentioned some time ago when I was tagged, that I love permanent eyelash extensions but was concerned about having them with my newly acquired contact lenses. Well the story progresses, I had a break from the extensions and found that underneath them, my own lashes seemed to have grown thicker and longer - wasn't what I was expecting at all. When I have extensions, I only use eye liner (Buried Treasure Powerpoint by Mac - fantastic go with everything colour), but now that I am extension free, I use Lancome - a sort of white undercoat called Cils Booster, followed by their vibrating mascara in black, and I like the results. However I was out with a friend recently and thought she was wearing falsies, but actually she had been using Rapidlash serum, and it does really work - I am a week into using it and am convinced - if mine look like hers do after a month, then the extensions will be no more.

    So onto the subject of contact lenses - I had 20/20 vision until about 4 years ago, when I suddenly needed bright light to see restaurant menus - I had a moment's revelation in Scott's when I asked for a torch to look at the menu, and a pair of reading glasses were proffered! Or had to hold things further away from me to focus. I reluctantly had an eye test, and sure enough I needed reading glasses, now I realise this sounds naive, but I did not know you could easily buy these things off the shelf, and the optician was in no hurry to tell me this either, I struggled to find anything I thought suited me and didn't make me look like an old lady, and in the end settled for a pair of nude coloured MaxMara frames - a cool £300. No sooner did I have these things, than I noticed I was holding stuff away again to see it clearly, I never had them with me when I needed them anyway (in a hotel shower, how can you tell the shampoo from the conditioner from the shower gel - you can't without being able to read the label - in fact on a recent Italian trip, my hair was exceptionally soft because I used sodding body lotion instead of conditioner - actually it did really improve my hair and totally banished any frizz). So as fast as you buy reading glasses you need another pair - you need them in every room in the house unless you are going to wear them on a chain around your neck (no I am not) or on top of your head (yes sometimes) or worst of all keep them on all the time and peer over the top of the frames (never). I bought cheap glasses after I left my Maxmaras in the seat pocket in front of me on a flight to Malta and they were never handed in.

    Re the looking like an old person thing, behaving like one is worse - not being able to see when you have missed a bit of food on crockery you hand wash, or that there are cobwebs everywhere, or that your make-up is smudged, or the bathroom tiles need cleaning- all things your eagle eyed offspring will cheerily point out, and that will horrify you when you can see. So I needed to get my eyes sorted.

    Things got worse or so I thought when I visited a large American wholesale outlet for an eye test because the TV screen was now a little blurry and some road signs were too small at a distance, and was told I needed to wear glasses all the time -" I don't think so " I said confidently, "I will have my eyes lasered or I will wear contact lenses!" The optician was happy for me to book in for a trial of contact lenses, and this was when everything became clear - another female optician helped me, she was a contact wearer herself, she boosted my confidence about managing them and told me that to cope without them for distance I could buy a pair of off the shelf +1.50 glasses, and to improve my reading with lenses in, I could use the same +1.50s - it works a treat. As I left her room my phoned buzzed, I was meeting my son outside, I went to find my glasses and realised I could see who was calling me - amazing, I met him and we wandered around the store, I was thrilled to bits with my new eyes until we saw a row of flat screen tellies and all were completely blurred, thankfully my technowiz son could point out that they were 3D TVs and I needed special glasses to see the picture LOL.

    The lovely lady optician had left her job the day after my consultation with her, which explains her lack of another agenda re selling me more glasses, and her supportive attitude if I wanted to have my eyes lasered. When when I went for follow up, the new optician tried to convince me that I needed to buy glasses for lens free days, I agreed to consider his advice but I am actually managing fine with True Eye lenses every day, I wouldn't rule out laser treatment but they seem to be coming up with better methods of doing this all the time. Anyone got any comments or advice it would be much appreciated x

    Tuesday, 19 October 2010

    I spent last night clutching a bottle of chilled white wine - now retitled An Aga Saga, by Joanne a trollop

    But not for the usual reasons - stressful day at work? No, dealing with small children? No, row with the lovely man? No, plumbers/carpenters/electricians? No..............................I picked up a pan which I had just taken out of the oven...................words cannot describe - well they can, but not here. I was multi-tasking which is normal for most of us, and I committed the range owner cardinal sin - save money and reduce cooking aromas by using the oven rather than the hob, lift pan out of oven using oven gloves, move pan on hob with bare hands. I wouldn't care but I always warn anyone who comes near the kitchen about this, I always put on a handle cover, but on this occasion I didn't. I rushed to the sink and ran the cold tap, which always runs warm for the first few gallons because of proximity to hot water pipes. I warmed the burn a little then ran back to the hob where the garlic I had been lightly toasting in the oven was now burning - this time I did use the handle cover.
    So when I eventually sat down to eat, it was with my left hand, whilst my right one was chilling on the wine (obviously had a glass at this point to soothe and calm). I Googled the doctor and found that you should never put anything ice cold on a burn, you should cool it and then cover it with cling film or a bag, so I spent the rest of the evening languishing on the sofa, feeling sorry for myself with my hand in a ziploc bag - very glamorous, but it did work, and I only have a tiny blister on my ring finger to show for all the pain (wouldn't be typing this otherwise).

    Thursday, 14 October 2010

    Your money or your life?

    It's been an unusual news week and poses a question for me - who would you prefer to be, or rather who is luckiest, the winner of the euromillions £113 million, or a Chilean miner ? - all 33 released last night after 69 days underground. Time really is the one thing that money cannot buy. I have found it difficult to follow the updates about the miners, this because just the thought of the darkness and confined space is enough to create panic and claustrophobia in me, it is my big fear. However I have no trouble daydreaming about what I might do with £113 million pounds (it's never going to happen because I don't do the lottery!) So this morning when I heard the news that the last miner had been safely brought up in the capsule I imagined the joy that he and his family must be feeling, and really winning the lottery couldn't compare could it?

    Wednesday, 13 October 2010

    Wallpaper to take out a second mortgage for?

    I was in a bar in Chester recently and found the perfect wallpaper for my living room - only to go on a feature wall, and only requiring 4 rolls - and best of all the lovely man and I both agreed that it was right for the room (we hardly ever like the same fittings/furnishings etc). So I trawled the internet looking for the paper - found some great suppliers like Timorous Beasties - what a great name, and finally found the one - Cole and Son, Saori.
    I placed an online order for samples £1 each and went for a couple more just to be sure, waited a couple of days, the samples turned up, and Saori was just right as we had expected. I telephoned my local stockist and placed an order for 4 rolls, leaving card details. And this is where I was very lucky, the store phoned me back - the paper was out of stock until November, and was I aware of the price? A steal at £143.70 a roll not including VAT! Needless to say I am not spending £800 to paper one wall of a room, although it did occur to me that I could order samples stealthily from several addresses and end up with enough to do a patchwork job ha ha!!

    Healthy Grown up Treat

    I have just made this recipe and had a small slice with a cup of tea - it is around 200 calories a slice, but only has dark chocolate and nuts rather than butter as the fat content.

    Chocolate Macaroon Cake

    First of all toast 20z of whole almonds and 20z of walnuts, then cool and grind.

    Whisk together 3 egg whites and one whole egg with 70z caster sugar until very thick and pale.

    Into the egg mixture fold 20z plain flour, 1 bar of good quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt with a touch of sea salt - fab) grated, and 20z cocoa powder, plus most of the ground nuts - keep a few back for topping.

    Pour the mixture into a 9" tin greased and lined, sprinkle with the remaining nuts and bake for around 35 to 40 mins at Gas 4, 180c. Leave to cool completely before removing carefully onto a plate - can be dusted with icing sugar if you wish, but looks lovely anyway . It is food like this which will help me slip into the Moschino Cheap and Chic dress for the posh wedding in November ;-( Actually I deserve every mouthful, in the past two days I have walked 4 miles, run 2 miles, attended 2 circuit classes (why???) and one legs, bums and tums class, and I can feel every muscle in my body and not in a good way!!

    Tuesday, 12 October 2010

    The Best Things in Life

    Well after doing a runner in Rome, you would think I might be planning on going straight at least for a while - but no, I spent this glorious Indian summer afternoon scrumping for apples with my neighbour who is 72 years young and very able up a ladder! We literally cleared a whole ancient apple tree of Bramley's - otherwise they would all go to windfall and be wasted, so I now have four carrier bags full to be distributed amongst friends and neighbours. The other freebie I have discovered today is walnuts, somewhere in this village there is a walnut tree, the birds are picking them and then dropping them all around our gardens, the plan for tomorrow is to find the tree and pick my own walnuts - how fantastic is that?

    A whole day of chocolate

    I made this - can you believe it? The eyeball features are actually chocolate spheres, and the dust is irridescent edible powder - it is more amazing in real life than in the photograph.
    When I left work in March, my colleagues bought me a day's chocolate workshop as a leaving gift, and on Friday 1st October I went along to Slattery's in Whitefield, Manchester and learned how to work with chocolate - it was fantastic! Unfortunately, or rather due to poor planning, I went off to Italy the day after, so I haven't had chance to do any practicing, but now I am home again, I am going to be making chocolate cakes on a weekly basis.
    The model I brought home will be perfect for a birthday cake for my daughter - a cake like this which is covered in thin layer of marzipan and then coated with chocolate ganache will keep for around 3 weeks - let's hope it tastes as good as it looks, if not it wont be my fault, the cakes were ready prepped for decoration on the day.
    If you live anywhere near Manchester, or are up North for a visit, you should book for morning coffee, lunch or afternoon tea at Slattery's, it is a family business, a confectioner's/cake shop with an amazing display of celebration cakes, then upstairs a tea room/restaurant, and on the top floor a cookery school which offers lots of different options for beginners to professionals. Highly recommended!

    Monday, 11 October 2010

    Italian Adventure Part 3

    What sort of person would do a runner from a high class joint like this - if you have been to Italy you will understand how this could happen to someone quite easily - the system goes like this - you go to the till and buy a ticket for what you want to eat or drink, then you go to the counter and tell the handsome waiter what you want - he is too clever to bother looking at the ticket, so gives you the drinks. When you have spent a couple of hours over a boozy lunch and just want a coffee to pep you up, you lean on the counter, tell the waiter what you want, he provides, you leave satisified and afterwards realise that neither of you paid the bill! To make up for this outrageous deed, you return the following day, order the same and pay for it (3.5 euros for a double espresso and an iced coffee - who said Rome was expensive?) and leave a generous tip, hoping that you have not been caught on camera! Since this is the system in many Osteria and bars throughout Italy, I wonder how much they loose out when us foreigners don't know how it works?

    Maison Matilda - luxury B&B Treviso - the inner courtyard

    Our room - "The Music Room"

    Well I am back and it was a success!! I cant believe how busy my fellow bloggers have been whilst I was away and I have only caught up with a couple so far, when my phone contract is up I will get an i-phone so that I can blog on the trot.

    Anyway, here is a synopsis of the Italian road trip which I think went very well, I didn't once have that feeling of hating the hotel room and wanting to be home, which is quite normal for me at the beginning of a holiday.
    We started by flying courtesy (£75 return) of Ryanair (not bad once you have the relief of knowing that your hand luggage is not overweight/over sized and you will not be charged a king's ransom to check them) Liverpool airport has had a makeover and is significantly better than the last time I flew from there, although when you fly cheaply the name "self-loading freight" rings very true - don't ever think of paying for priority boarding with these companies, it means nothing.
    We were visiting Venice initially so flew to Treviso airport and stayed in a beautiful luxury B&B called Maison Matilda - perfect for a quick transfer from Treviso airport, and handy for the 4 euro train ride into Venice.

    Our lovely host Alex made breakfast to order each morning, fresh berries with honey and greek yoghurt, pastries and unusually (for me anyway) little breakfast pizzas, with freshly squeezed orange juice and espresso - the best breakfasts of our trip.

    Venice was breathtaking as usual, the weather was perfect, everytime I go I find another amazing tiny canal and a great bar to sip an aperitif or two. Have you tried the local tipple, an Aperol Spritz - it is the colour of Irn Bru or Tizer and tastes not dissimilar but looks so elegant and is often served with a huge green olive - delicious!

    The owner of Maison Matilda took the lovely man to collect the hire car and we set off into Tuscany with an initial flaw when the dopey chap from Sat Nav took us north for 15Km before we just knew something was wrong - you cant beat a map can you? Next stop Antica Casa Rondini in Colle di Buggiano - another luxury B&B in a car free Medieval hill top town rising above the Tuscan plains

    This village has a micro climate and orange, lemon and grapefruit trees were in all the gardens, then hanging over the garden walls into the narrow walk ways were fat ripe pomegranates. Buggiano has one tiny old restaurant where we ate fabulous local fresh ingredients including wild porcini mushrooms and black and white truffle. We tasted pappa al pomodoro, and ribollita which are fantastic Tuscan soups, more like a thick vegetable puree. The following evening we shared the best pizza we have ever eaten - thinnest crispiest crust baked in an open wood fire, followed by tagliata of beef served with truffles and rocket, truly outstanding.

    With heavy rain forecast for our second day in Tuscany, we decided to visit a thermal spa, we went to the fabulous Grotta Guisti in Montesummano - where we lavished in hot underground caves dressed in outfits which made us look like horror film extras, then lazed in the mineral rich thermal waters in the outdoor pool - our skin felt lovely afterwards, and the rain never came so all in all another rather perfect day.

    Florence was bustling, our hotel the J & J Hotel was another find, housed in a former monastery in the centre of old Florence, only one night here, but fabulous anyway.

    And finally on to Rome - ancient and outrageous and wonderful and still need to go back because there is always more to do - my list for the next visit includes, the Baths of Caraculla, the ViaAppia and Civita Vecchia - getting back to Rome is never going to be a problem because it is the lovely man's favourite place in a tie with Venice. The hotel here was less fabulous than the previous places, we still managed to have a penthouse room, with a terrace overlooking Villa Ada, and a lovely marble bathroom, it was only when the guests in the neighbouring rooms returned that we knew the walls were so thin, we might as well have all been in one room!

    One question for fellow bloggers - we ate veal steak in an old roman trattoria, we watched Janet Street Porter and her two veal calves Elton and David and understood that veal is actually the wasted by product of dairy herds (ie bullocks are not productive so have to go) - it was delicious and I didn't feel guilty thanks to Janet - what do you think? You can see from the photo that this was not meat from some tiny animal.