Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Fancy Christmas Face and Hands: The Big Day...s

I like really love Christmas.

Christmas Eve: went out to see The Hobbit. Definitely wasn't overdressed. Definitely. 

Wore a lilac dress with a cute little perfume bottle print and a long knotted strand of pearls. I'm thinking I really need to keep better track of what make up I wear because this was two days ago and I have no idea, except that the lipstick was Bourjois Sweet Kiss 54 Rouge Glamour. I have an inkling my eyeshadow was two blended shades from my Soap & Glory Tricks of the Shade palette, which I've been meaning to review since I bought it nearly two months ago. I'm a terrible blogger. Le sigh. I also gave myself a Christmas haircut (chopped an inch or two off my "fringe", which had ceased to be a fringe and become just a slightly shorter section of hair. It's back to about cheekbone length now.)

Fancy Christmas Weekend Face and Hands

Friday 21st: fun little last minute shopping trip with my sister. Topshop gold suede look dress, my mama's Accessorize scarf, a ribbon chain necklace, purple cardigan, peachy earrings. I'm wearing a MAC Paint Pot in Bare Study on my eyes. It's glorious. And I didn't have to pay for it, because it was given to me by my lovely friend The Moroccan Shopaholic.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Cooking: Brown Sugar Meringues with Chocolate and Cranberries

What could be more Christmassy than a party treat which combines brown sugar, chocolate, cranberries and nuts, right!? These sweet, chewy, tiny meringues look super pretty piled on a plate, and you could top them with a whole range of things.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

V&A Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950

image via The Guardian
image via The Guardian

This gorgeous exhibition in the fashion gallery at the V&A contains some stunning dresses, modern and vintage, classic and avant garde, and displays most of them to their very best advantage.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas Cooking: The Cranberry Sauce Has Real Cranberries!

Christmas time means you get to eat everything! And before you can eat everything you get to cook it all! My favourite things.

This cranberry sauce is deep and spiced and orangey and sharp and beautifully red. It's adapted from Delia Smith, but I am a fiddler and a throw-everything-in-er, so I did what I do.

You will need:

300g cranberries
Juice and zest of 1 orange
3-4 tablespoons white wine
75g soft brown sugar (you could also use caster, but I always think soft gives a richer flavour)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (I used the crushed frozen cubes) or 1/2 tsp ground
1 cinnamon stick, broken in halves
2 or 3 bay leaves
1 whole star anise
3 whole cloves

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The One With All The Instagramming: London

Sooo I trundled off to London for the day to see the ballgowns exhibition at the V&A, and here are some pretty pictures! Everything is Instagrammed to death in case I have to give it up in January because they are being jerks. 

One of the galleries at the V&A:

Friday, 14 December 2012

It's Raining Again, I Wore Sparkly Stuff

Saturday I went to visit a friend and dressed up pretty.

F&F Eye crayon in Starry Night - a metallic charcoal chunky pencil that goes on thick and dark and a tiny bit sparkly and lasts all day.

Modcloth An Educated Guest earrings. So sparkly and pretty and vintagey! And they were half price!

Vintage silver, crystal and pearl (look) brooch.

Scarf by Mary Katrantzou at Topshop. This was also half price! £30 instead of £60. Designer collaboration stuff NEVER usually makes it to sale. Win!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Doom and Gloom and Cartoon Jumpers

It's super near the end of the semester and my brain is just constantly doing this now:

So let's have a nice quiet photo and gif filled kind of a post. Here is a bunch of stuff I've been wearing:

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Today in Racism: "It's Not Blackface, It's Art, You Cynics!"

Trigger warning for racism, and also utter headdesking stupidity.


So, this happened. This is make up company Illamasqua's Christmas holiday campaign, and everything about it is horrible. After they released the right image by itself on their Australian Facebook page, complaints began to mount up, since it quite clearly references blackface and minstrel shows. Eventually the image was pulled. AND THEN RELEASED AGAIN ON THEIR MAIN, UK PAGE, with this stunningly tone deaf statement:

Monday, 26 November 2012

All I Want For Christmas Is MORE STUFF

1. This adorable set of flavoured vodka minis from Sainsbury's. I will be the queen of cocktails! (Read: I will mix them all with cranberry juice and I will like it..)

2. This beautiful Frida Kahlo t-shirt. She is my totally-not-caring-about-conventional-norms-of-femininity hero, and this shirt is all kinds of cool.

3. Benefit Lemon-Aid Eyelid Primer. I'm always trying to get rid of my undereye bags, and the yellow colour of this primer looks like it'd be good for covering up dark circles. Plus, it's called Lemon Aid! I want to be aided by lemons!

Monday, 19 November 2012

It Was A Red Dress Kinda Day, or, How To Cure Winter Blues

Ugh, winter is taking its toll on me. I am sick of being cold and tired and lethargic all the time. And I'm living in a north-facing ground floor room in Manchester in November. I miss daylight.

Best cure for winter blues? Dress all in red! Match your dress and earrings and lipstick! Go wild!

My umbrella is greeny-blue and fuschia pink. I was so happy it didn't rain today. I don't think I could have brought myself to carry it wearing red. I'd have had to just be rained on.

Jacket from Miss Selfridge, dress from Closet at Dorothy Perkins. Earrings from Dorothy Perkins. Pearl & gold necklace belonged to my grandmother. Lancome Le Crayon Kohl Noir eyeliner. GOSH Velvet Touch lipstick in 60 Lambada.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

TV Recap: The Hour, S2E1.

All style and no substance and actually not very much style at that.

The Hour is desperately shooting for Mad Men and painfully failing. I’d hoped that after the limp mess that concluded the first series they’d have turned it around, but it really doesn’t look like it. This episode was flat and wet and kind of dull and all over the place. I want to like this show really badly but it’s just letting me down.

You can look mad all you want, it's still true.

Heartbreaking: A Betty Draper if ever I saw one. These
silent scenes were ones the show actually did well.
At the beginning of this episode, The Hour (the in-show show) is in trouble. It is made extremely obvious that this is because it doesn’t have Freddie in it (“There’s a certain something… lacking. Edge. Bite.” Yes yes yes just bring him back already.) Hector has morphed utterly into a second-rate Don Draper. He’s turning up late for work every day and going out drinking in nightclubs every night, sleeping with chorus girls and leaving his poor Betty of a wife at home alone in her sad lavender apartment. Fine. Boring but believable. Bel is quivering under the sharp eye of the new Head of News, Mr Brown (and can I just say how happy I am to see Peter Capaldi again, now that The Thick of It is SOB finished forever), and trying to keep Hector happy, despite him being utterly crap and apparently ruining her show.  Lix is still 100% amazing. They should just make the whole show about her.

Beautifully shot.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Stealing Keira Knightley's Face: From Zero to Keira in 5 Steps

Let's talk about Keira Knightley.

Yep, she likes that idea.

I find her suuuupah annoying as an actress, but standing still, she's one of the most beautiful, elegant women I can think of.  She was stunning in Anna Karenina, born to wear gowns and dramatic jewellery, and her press tour is going bangingly. This Erdem gown is so pretty it hurts my eyes. And her make up is always flawless. So I stole it.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

All I Want For Christmas Is...

It's November 15th, that means Christmas is coming! It's not too early to make a list, right? Right? ...Right?

1. A fancy diary like a fancy lady

I like pretty notebooks, I like organising things, I like writing notes. Fancy diaries are a match made in heaven. Right now I'm using a £2.99 one from Rymans, but Paperblanks are sooo lovely that it hurts to look at them in shops. And because they're diaries they last a year! Price per use comparison? £12.99/365 = TOTALLY WORTH IT. Plus, you can find them a little bit cheaper on Amazon.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Going At It: Lip Crayons

Trend alert! It looks like make up companies have finally cottoned on to the old trick of colouring your mouth in with lip pencil, because lip crayons have started popping up all over the place since last spring, and happily it's got to the stage where there are a bunch of budget versions coming out. Because I have been known to be a desperate trend bunny, I bought, uh... four. Let's try them!

1. Barry M Lip Lacquer Crayon No 6 Candyfloss, £4.99

2. Topshop Lip Stick in Powder Room, £7

3. Soap & Glory Sexy Motherpucker Gloss Stick in Nudist, £8

4. F&F Lip Crayon in Tickled Pink, £5

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Literally Studies: I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS

One of my pet peeves is people using 'literally' wrong. People so often use it as an amplifier and accidentally end up using it to mean its exact opposite, 'figuratively', which drives me crazy. BUT I cannot work this one out at all. 

It's an advert for 4G, which as far as I can work out is exactly the same as 3G. It says "The waiting is over. Literally."

Um... okay. That is technically correct. The waiting IS literally over. BUT, as a snappy punchline on an advert, I can't make it make any sense, because there's no way that this sentence could be not literal. It shouldn't say LITERALLY because "The waiting is over" can't be... figurative. 'Literally' is meaningless in this sentence. It serves no function except to sound impressive. "The waiting is over. METAPHORICALLY." "The waiting is over. ALLEGORICALLY." Those are nonsense.


Erk. My brain hurts.


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Twenty Three Years Later: I Try and Write A Better Harry Potter Epilogue

So, we all know that the epilogue of the unbearably good final Harry Potter book is unbearably disappointing. I find it spectacularly unsatisfying, so this what I like to imagine happened; a satisfying conclusion that ties up loose ends, nods at the emotional aftermath of traumatic events and closes some character arcs, unlike the official ending. I like to believe that Harry played Quidditch for England and became a teacher at Hogwarts. It’s his home. Eventually he will become Headmaster and live happily there for most of his life. He gets married to Ginny, who becomes the business manager of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes and makes it an astonishing success with George’s help as the inventor. Ron becomes a nurse and then a stay-at-home dad. It turns out he has a talent for domestic magic, which he never discovered before because he’d never tried. Hermione will become the first female Minister for Magic and is extremely popular, and never compromises her principles. She succeeds in liberating the house elves. When she retires from politics, she writes the next generation of Hogwarts textbooks. Neville goes to wizard university to get a wizard PhD and becomes a world expert in aquatic magical plants. Luna just carries on with her brilliant self. Teddy Lupin turns out a good hearted guy with a lot of girlfriends and a dragon leather jacket. He rides Sirius’s flying motorbike. Hagrid stays exactly the same. No one is named Albus Severus. 

Harry Potter looked out over the Great Hall of Hogwarts from the teachers’ table. It was the first day of term. Hundreds of bobbing heads spread out before him clattering their breakfast dishes and chattering loudly, bathed in the bright daylight falling from the bewitched ceiling. The four long banners of the Hogwarts houses still hung down, but no one sat according to house any more; scarlet, emerald, airy blue and sunny yellow mixed freely in the mass of black hats and robes that filled the room. Harry allowed the air of excitement to draw him in and found himself grinning down at the teenagers below as he scanned the hall for a few familiar faces. Next to him, ancient Professor Flitwick, now tinier than ever, happily piled bacon into his scrambled eggs.

A pang of pride as well as amusement swelled in Harry as his older son, James, swaggered into the Hall in his new red Quidditch robes, surrounded by friends. Harry himself had retired from professional Quidditch two years earlier when he was made Head of Gryffindor, but at sixteen James was turning out as good a Seeker as Harry had ever been, and as his coach, Harry pushed him ever harder. Harry trusted that the conceitedness which grew alongside his talent, fuelled by his good looks and the prestige of his famous father, would eventually fizzle out. This morning, James studiously pretended not to see Harry, who took great pleasure in waving to him as exuberantly as possible. Laughing at the half-hearted glare he received in return, Harry resumed watching for his timid younger son, whose first day it was, but saw him nowhere.

Albus had been sorted into Gryffindor only yesterday, to his own great surprise and relief. Watching him don the battered Sorting Hat had opened a floodgate of treasured, if painful memories for Harry, who in the few seconds it took for the hat to reach its decision had relived his own first night at school, drawing the ruby sword of Gryffindor from the hat in the Chamber of Secrets, almost drowning in a frozen forest pool, Dumbledore’s death, and the moment Neville had drawn the sword himself and dramatically slain Voldemort’s snake, precipitating the beginning of the end of the final battle at Hogwarts. Only a handful of people in the Great Hall now remembered it as it had been that night, with rubble torn from the walls, the long tables pushed away, and lines of bodies on the floor surrounded by weeping families. It startled Harry to think that none of the pupils now comfortably living their lives in front of him had even been born into a world where Voldemort existed. His own formative experiences were little more than a story or a history lesson to them. Now, when the bright eyes of excited first years performed the still-familiar flick up to the scar on his forehead, they wanted to hear about the World Cup. For several years after Voldemort’s final defeat so long ago, Harry, relieved of the burden of being a hero, had suffered intrusively vivid flashbacks, panic attacks and uncontrollable bursts of anger and fear. At one point he had thought he might never be able to return to Hogwarts, but time, talking and therapy had helped alleviate his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Feeling himself being sucked into a well of memories, Harry turned along the table to catch Neville’s eye. Now Professor Longbottom, Neville, already spattered in mud, was cheerily talking at the bemused new History of Magic teacher, and gave Harry the thumbs up. Comforted by his close friend’s good nature, Harry rose to head for his first lesson of the day. Practical Defensive Magic, once known as Defence Against the Dark Arts, was one of the most popular classes at Hogwarts, and Harry’s timetable was always heavy, but he had his own reason for looking forward to this particular lesson.

When he arrived at his classroom, his younger son beamed at him from the first row and chirruped “Hi, Dad!” Next to him, Ron and Hermione’s daughter Rose – Albus’s best friend and cousin, and a brand new Ravenclaw – looked up from her textbook. Both Harry’s sons looked like him rather than Ginny, but only Albus had inherited his distinctive green eyes. Their daughter Lily, now nine, favoured the Weasleys.

As he waited for the class to fill, Harry amused himself by flicking through The Quibbler, these days a well-respected if quirky publication employing a number of promising Hogwarts alumni and edited by Luna. He was proud to see Hermione feature prominently in a long article about international merpeople territory rights, and a garish full-page advert for Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes that flashed purple and green as he looked at it. When he looked up, Harry caught the eye of Scorpio Malfoy, a pale, round-faced little boy who had been made a Hufflepuff. Harry inwardly chuckled as he imagined how Draco might feel about that. He and Malfoy would never be friends, but they had achieved a relationship of mutual respect. After Lucius’s suicide, Draco had donated much of the Malfoy fortune to help the families of the victims – magical and Muggle – of the Death Eaters, and sat on the board of several organisations that worked to improve the infrastructure of wizarding society. Harry thought that Scorpio looked like he might turn out to be quite a nice boy. Hufflepuffs usually were. Still nobody wanted to be in Slytherin; although it was no longer the factory for Dark wizards that it once was, it still tended to collect the bullies and their supporters, but it had also produced a handful of Harry’s favourite students. Harry would never be able to forget Slytherin’s part in the events of his own schooldays, but he also tried never to forget that the Sorting Hat had suggested he become a Slytherin as well.

A spontaneous hush fell over the room, and Harry realised the seats had filled up with tiny eleven year olds all bursting for their first ever real lesson in magic. Sharing their excitement, he stood up grinning, and gave his favourite instruction, one that never failed to produce a shiver of anticipation in an eager class. Harry remembered how much he loved to teach.

“Put away your textbooks and take out your wands.”


As dusk fell over the grounds of Hogwarts, Harry walked, as he did most days, down to the lakefront, staring out across the landscape. Dumbledore’s tomb and the tall marble cenotaph that stood next to it gleamed gently in the dark. Though he knew the long, long list of names inscribed upon it almost by heart, from Hannah Abbott all the way down to Fred Weasley, Harry stood by it for a moment. Time had taken away the sharp sting of pain that thinking of Fred or Sirius, Remus, Tonks or Dobby had once caused, but his heart was heavy as he briefly wondered how many more excited children there might be at school today if the many dead had survived. At forty, Harry sometimes felt very old. Trying to shake out a sadness that would never truly leave him, he lifted his eyes to the sky, drinking in the last glow of the sunset over the lake, the forest and mountains. He never tired of seeing Hogwarts’ beautiful surroundings, and stood there watching until it became too dark to see anything more. Wordlessly he conjured his Patronus and turned towards the castle, noticing Hagrid’s silhouette stomping around in the light of the fire outside his hut. A huge puppy skipped and rolled at his feet. Harry smiled, knowing that Hagrid was little changed but for the grey in his beard. He gave his affection as freely as ever, and loved Harry’s children like his own. Harry’s heart squeezed tightly at the thought of the people whom he loved so much, and how many of them he had lost, and he hurried quickly towards the castle, blinking away tears. The stag walked beside him.

Harry’s office at Hogwarts was cosy, warm and golden. Letters, books, snacks and newspapers were piled on every surface, and photographs covered the walls; in any direction he looked, Harry’s eyes would land on something to make him smile. On some bad days, this had been invaluable. This evening, he watched his small self and his teammates dancing and shaking their Quidditch World Cup for a few seconds, then turned to the group photo of his and Ron and Hermione’s families that they had taken on their holiday in Thailand the summer before. Lily and Molly Granger-Weasley sniggered together from behind Hermione’s mother’s legs, while Teddy Lupin wrestled Albus. After he had looked long enough, Harry collected his post from his huge eagle owl, Gretel. She had brought him a note from Dudley, with whom Harry was on surprisingly friendly terms, containing a photograph of his new and chubby baby. The baby would clearly take after Vernon, while Dudley’s second wife looked disconcertingly like Petunia. Gretel uh-hued impatiently as Harry read and ruffled her wings to draw his attention to the intruder in her corner; one of Pigwidgeon’s many tiny descendants was sleeping peacefully on top of the letter it had come to deliver. Harry recognised the luxurious Ministry for Magic parchment; it was from Hermione.

Harry –
Hope you’re all well and this reaches you in time for the first day of school! We’re so pleased about Rose getting into R. and sure you’re thrilled for Albus! Molly hasn’t talked of anything but the day she and Lily will get to be Sorted all week – think she will miss Rose terribly, would you ask Ginny if it’s possible for her to take L over to play soon? Molly would love it and sure Ron would as well. He and Arthur have been working on getting the flying car going again, did he tell you? George put something together last week that seems to have fixed it, but he says don’t tell Ginny or she’ll dock his salary from WWW! Perhaps visit Ron yourself if you get a chance – he misses talking to actual grown ups, but his cooking just gets better and better. We’re making plans to visit Bill and Fleur in Nice over Christmas, perhaps you’d all like to come too? And Teddy if you want, he’ll be delighted. Am suggesting him for an internship in Law Enforcement, though I know he was hoping for Mysteries. Work stressful as always but we are making great strides with the merpeople rights and hope we will have a real breakthrough with the Pan-Asian Committee for Magical Relations soon. Better go, have meeting with Cambodian delegation tomorrow. Send love to Ginny and kids and to you of course. Have a great term! Talk soon. H xxx

Hermione Granger
Head of the Department of International Magical Co-operation
Ministry of Magic

The rest of the page was filled with glitter and a large crayon drawing of a dragon. Harry longed for the day when Hagrid would teach Molly that they were not actually pink. Smiling over the Hermione-ish letter, he opened the door that led from his office back into the family apartment, and was greeted by the warm smell of roasting chicken and a shriek of “DADDY!!!”

Lily flung herself into Harry’s arms and he lifted her up to kiss her. Ginny, plump and beautiful, followed more sedately through the door, a stack of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes order forms in her hand. Harry felt the familiar thud of love in his stomach as he looked towards her. Lily’s and Ginny’s eyes were exactly the same shade of brown.
“Teddy’s coming for supper,” she said.
“And he’s bringing a girl,” Lily announced, crossly. She was hopelessly in love with Harry’s exuberant godson. Harry laughed, and strode towards Ginny, crushing his wife and daughter in a tight hug. Ginny, who always understood, squeezed Harry’s hand and allowed him to bury his face in her shoulder and kiss her hair, overcome by his happiness. He breathed in her soothing scent and noticed how her copper hair blended so precisely with Lily’s. As he began to drift into the comfort of the embrace, the quietest creaking of the door caught his attention. Harry lifted his head.

“Boys…” he began. There was a muffled giggle, and then the Invisibility Cloak fell to the floor, revealing Harry’s sons smirking proudly. Harry tried to look stern, but the memory of his own invisible ramblings floated unbidden into his mind and he just shook his head affectionately and waved James and Albus into the tight family hug. In private his sons were not too grown up to wrap their newly gangly arms around their parents and sister and have Harry ruffle their hair, overwhelmed with the love that filled his whole body. With his family pressed tightly in his arms and the heat of their aliveness spreading through him, tears began to trickle and then flow down Harry’s face. He cried for everything that he had lost, but even more for everything that he had now. They were tears of sadness, but also tears of joy, because Harry Potter was finally happy. Harry Potter was finally home.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Restyling: Emma Stone

Let's play "Ailsa thinks she is a better designer than Valentino"*.

Here is Emma Stone. I kind of love her and think she is like super cool and hilarious and I want to be her bestie. She is wearing a dress from Valentino. It kind of makes my teeth hurt.

Now, I don't think she looks BAD here at all (although she does look surprisingly like Rachel McAdams, another cool-seeming beauty who should just accept that blonde isn't her colour). The main problem is that the dress is SO focus pulling. She probably looks like Rachel McAdams here because nobody even glanced at her face because they were so distracted by the dress. Especially on a red carpet, (and man is she lucky that this one wasn't actually red, because HOLY CLASH, BATMAN), no one wants to have their outfit drag everyone's attention away from their face. Probably no one made eye contact with her all night. (I'm kidding, of course. In person this probably wasn't that much of a problem, especially if she's as radiant in the flesh as I like to imagine she is. But in photos, which is what she's dressing for, what the eye is drawn to is nothing more than that seam across her tummy and the big blob of candy pink.)

So, again, this doesn't really look bad. It's just that I think this could look a lot better. How? I'm glad you asked.

1. Get rid of those horrible sleeves. I almost always think fancy dresses look nicer with no sleeves, or at least elbow or three quarter length ones, and these are way too puffy. She looks like she has candy floss arms. I think the sheerness is a cute touch that I'd probably like in any other colour, but this Barbie pink can't support more cuteness. She isn't going to a 7 year old's birthday party (she's actually going to ELLE’s 19th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration in Beverly Hills. Of course.) Take off the sleeves and this becomes instantly more elegant.

2. Break up the pinkness more. She's got the right idea with the black clutch, and those shoes which are an absolutely perfect spot on stroke of genius, and also gorgeous. But it's not quite enough. I'd say she also needs a slim black waist belt, perhaps in patent leather, and a touch of black at the throat as well. I like the idea of a black cameo brooch at the collar, which would really help counteract the effect of the dress pulling all the attention away from her face by drawing the eye back up there. I like the earrings, but they aren't really doing any work for her in this look.

3. Better hair. Her make up is pretty much perfect, but it's very low key (as it needs to be with this dress), so she needed more impact in her hair to help draw focus upwards to her face. As it is, her head is practically invisible. I attribute this mainly to the blonde, which I don't like on her at all since it totally washes her out, but she couldn't really have had the red and worn such a pink dress, so okay. They were right to go with a relaxed updo, but not THIS relaxed updo. I don't like that giant fringe on such a delicate face, and those flappy bits by her ears are sad. Something much more clean and grown up was called for here.

So, to the right is my (pretty terrible) impression of how this could have looked really elegant and classy. It was so nearly a perfect, cute, fun little look but they let that pinkness overwhelm everything.

Of course, though, if she'd dyed her hair back to that glorious red and worn this in maybe a navy blue or deep green with a sprinkle of yellow gold jewellery, I'd probably have died of happiness. MISSED OPPORTUNITIES, GUYS.

* Disclaimer: Yes, I know that the designers at Valentino now are Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. OBVIOUSLY. But that doesn't sound nearly so snappy.

Monday, 15 October 2012

A Week in Sheep's Clothing

So, I had a busyish week and a run of semi-interesting outfits. Who wants to look at them?! Oh right, you do. ...



... Well anyway here they are. Please to excuse my super crappy photos.

On Monday, I wore a black sheer asymmetric shirt dress that I will forever think of as my funeral dress (I don't wear a lot of black), a silk scarf I got in Paris for like 15 euros, and a giant man's tweed suit jacket that I found on top of a wardrobe in my house with all the tags still attached, and no one in my family recognises it at all or remembers buying it, so I just brought it with me.

 Tuesday I insisted that because the sun was shining it must still be summertime. I went to Nandos and ate my weight in chicken, and then we went to Spoons and had puddings and two pitchers of cocktails and then I exploded. Dress is from Dorothy Perkins. Sunglasses are NEW (protip: buy sunglasses in the autumn, they're all on sale. £4 from Urban Outfitters.)

Wednesday I went shopping and made believe that I live in a sepia tone photograph and can pull off a trench coat. The black sleeves are dated already but I like them. I'm not fancy enough to have black leather sleeves.

Thursday I sat on a train for four hours, and I wore a new shirt because Urban Outfitters are infuriating but I can't stop giving them my money. Don't worry, it was in the sale. Everything I buy was in the sale. Including this jacket, which was from Miss Selfridge and cost me £20. In the background of the left shot you can see the horrible fuchsia holdall I use (it was a prize or something). Carrying it and wearing orange, I was like a walking neon sign. This was my least favourite outfit of the week, I felt like it was awkward.

Friday I went out for dinner and discovered that it's really hard to take photos without a full length mirror. Another new Urban Outfitters shirt. Oops.

Saturday I went to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower (liked it!) and started to work out the picture thing. Um, sort of.

Sunday I went for brunch (smoked salmon bagels, hello!) and sat on a train for four hours AGAIN. But it was sunshiney and pretty and I didn't really mind even though I finished my book in the first forty five minutes. I wore a green dress with flowers on from ASOS that I bought 65% because Anna Kendrick wore it (she is a famous person and how often do you get to wear the same clothes as famous people?), and I added a cable knit jumper when I got chilly, which was immediately. Plus I bought a new lipstick and added that (why yes that is a selfie on the train), but I'm not sure about it because it's like, REALLY pink.

BONUS: Here's today's outfit!

And another shot of my new lipstick (sorry, "lip butter" - it's Revlon in 075 Lollipop. I thought it'd be a lot more sheer but, it's SO PINK.) 


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Sunglass Slut, Episode 5: Evil Bizarro McCrazypants

I am a fan of sunglasses that make me look like an Evil McCrazypants, as loyal readers (hahahahahahaha) might remember. I got these after a tip from Dodai over on Jezebel about where to find lookalikes for these Prada Baroque sunglasses (more on those later. LE SIGH <3). They were like $5.99 on a slightly dodgy looking website in LA.

Bizarro Ailsa (Aslia?) is pretty much in love with these. THEY'RE LIKE THE SIZE OF MY WHOLE FACE. AND WAIT TIL YOU SEE THE ARMS.

Bizarro Aslia is also totally cool with not wearing any make up. In photos on the internet. Totally cool. Definitely no nervous panicking here. Totally. Yep.

The weather's patchy today but it was beeautiful on Saturday and so I wore these with some (fake, alas) pearl earrings and a white dress to the farmers' market at my primary school and got lavender shortbread and plum and cinnamon jam. Good trip. (Oh man do I love food.)

This is Katherine, the other famous Hepburn sister. She is also a head, but she actually has a nose, even if it is a bit squashed. These sunglasses make her feel stylish and sassy.

These are their amay-zing arms. Metallic copper. Swirly. Literally pinned into her head. (It's not the first time.) (They're just kind of wide, even for me, and I have a normal person head, not a tiny polystyrene doll head.)

Okay. So, if you'll excuse me, I have to go plot some evil deeds.

Truthfully? I have to write a letter, read some poems (if I can persuade Katherine off the top of the book), send some stern emails, make some salmon and roasted new potatoes. The letter will include Charlie & Lola stickers. Wild life. Wild.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

One Simple Reason Why Jeremy Hunt Should Not Get To Be Health Secretary

And surprisingly, it's not his appalling behaviour over the BSkyB fiasco, or even the fact that he proudly believes that homoeopathy works.

Am I above using embarrassing photos to make fun of somebody awful?
Apparently not. 

It's this little line:

"Jeremy Hunt voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks against scientific and medical consensus."

Now, there are two parts to this, which make up two reasons, but only one of them is incontrovertible proof that he ought not to be in charge of healthcare.

The first part is "Jeremy Hunt voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks". If you ask me, no one who is anti-choice or who wants to restrict abortion access even a little bit, let alone halve the current limit, should get to be in charge of anything (abortions for anyone who wants one, I say). But you know, it was a free vote and that's an opinion. The undeniable proof that he is not able to be the Health Minister is the second part:

"against scientific and medical consensus."

Against scientific and medical consensus. That means that this man ignored the advice of medical experts because he valued his own beliefs and preconceptions more highly than facts. Does that sound like a man who you want to be in charge of the NHS? No. His belief in the effectiveness of homoeopathy is another example of ignoring facts and evidence in favour of bolstering his own opinions. 

People who prefer to believe things that are proven untrue than listen to scientific truths and the advice of medical experts should not get to run health services. The End.

Note: I am not particularly anti-Tory. I am pretty unbiased because I do not have a party affiliation, or particularly strong views for or against any of the three main parties at this point. I am disappointed and cynical about all of them. But I am certainly anti-bigotry, anti-regressiveness and anti-ignorance in all their many varied and insidious forms, and this man seems to me like someone who is bigoted, regressive, and wilfully ignorant. Sadly, this seems to be true of very many politicians. Ew.

Sunglass Slut, Episode 4: Tyger, Tyger, Burning Free

Hey, you. You know what's even better than £1 Primark sunglasses?

Ignore my stupid arm. Buy a tripod, Ailsa.
Yes, that is real sunshine.

FREEEEEEE sunglasses. These cool tiger stripy ones came free with Elle one issue, something like four years ago. Why is it that the amount of money you pay for sunglasses is in inverse proportion to the length of time they last before they break or get lost (or someone sits on them)? By that logic, this pair will be hanging around literally forever. Ace.

The stripy-ness and the amber-ness means they actually kind of don't go with a lot of things, which is not a problem you usually have with sunglasses. But I can cope with that. By dressing in traffic cone orange, apparently. Go me?

Audrey has got her sunglasses on, and she is GOING to the beach!

(This is Audrey. I have no imagination. She is a head.)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Ship Garden

Dusk on the day of the first frost, November 2010

Waterfall, Iceland, 2008

The ship garden
houses a colony of winters.
The first day is ending
this morning,
everything was white and sharp.
The blossom of shadows under leaves
prepared to colour the small globe in darkness
to eat away at those hours of work,
damaged hands of water.
Heavy as a body
the silence, blue and cold
like an ocean, misplaced.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The World's Easiest Strawberry Ice Cream

Okay, well that might be a teeny tiny untruth, because really the recipe that I adapted this from is the easiest recipe in the world. But I fiddled with it a little bit, because I am a fiddler, and also in honour of it being Julia Child's 100th birthday (thanks, Google!), to make it a bit more exciting, but still ridiculously easy. The original recipe is here if you really want it. You definitely want A recipe, because not only is this ice cream
from Good Housekeeping
the easiest ice cream in the world, it's also delicious AND you don't need an ice cream maker. It's like, 75% pure fruit so it's also (relatively) healthy (for ice cream).Trust me. Scroll down to see what you'll end up with, then go hull some strawberries.

You'll need:

  • 400g strawberries, hulled
  • 100g raspberries or other soft fruit or berries. I used 50g raspberries and 50g peach. You could just use 500g of strawberries if you want to.
  • A handful of extra berries (optional)
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or seeds
  • 1 sprig roughly chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • More fresh berries, to serve

Now let's dick around with nature's perfection.
Cut up your strawberries and other fruit into small pieces (remembering to keep back the extra handful). Put them into the freezer until frozen; it's probably easiest to flash freeze them spread on a baking tray, because you don't want to end up with one big solid lump of frozen berries.

While the berries are in the freezer, if you're using the mint, pour about a third of the cream into a little bowl or cup and put in the mint leaves. Leave to infuse. Obviously the longer you leave them in and the more finely you've chopped the leaves, the stronger the mint flavour will become. I'd recommend letting it infuse for one to two hours for just a hint of flavour, or overnight if you want something a bit more noticeable.

Get the berries you held back and, using a sharp knife, slice them into thin, pretty cross-sections. I used the top, larger half of three strawberries and four raspberries and ended up with about twenty small pieces of fruit, which was perfect.

Poor quality iPhone pictures will certainly
convince you to try this recipe!
When your berries are frozen through, strain the mint cream to get the leaves out and put it, the rest of the cream, the sugar, vanilla and a third of the berries into the food processor. Pulse until the berries are broken down, then add the next third, and repeat until all the ingredients are in the processor. Then blitz until mostly smooth (no one will object to a couple of leftover lumps of berry). Taste at this point to see if you want to add more sugar or cream (which I didn't). When you're happy, gently stir in the slices of fruit.

If your mixture is still firm enough, you can have at it right away. If not, pop it in a freezer-safe plastic tub and put it back in the freezer until it's hardened up/ you're ready for it. 

If you're feeling fancy and want to impress, try some or all of these serving ideas: Scoop the ice cream onto a meringue nest and add whipped or double cream, a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce and handfuls of fresh berries. A garnish of tiny mint leaves will look elegant and sophisticated.

If you don't feel fancy, eat it straight out the tub. I won't judge you.

The original recipe says this will do for 6 - I would say 4-6, depending on your portion sizes.

These gorgeous blue bowls, which are new, were £3 in the charity shop for
5 small ones and one large one. I KNOW, RIGHT
UPDATE: I made this into a froyo by swapping out the cream for low-fat plain natural yoghurt. It's a lot sharper, but instead of upping the sugar I stirred in two crushed up meringue nests (about 25g of meringue). Eton Mess frozen yoghurt! Is that a thing? It needs to be a thing. It's probably a thing, I'm not cool enough to have invented it first. Anyway, my calculations indicate that if you get 6 portions out of 1 batch, every portion will have 88 calories. EIGHTY. EIGHT. Best ice cream ever? Probably.