Monday, 19 September 2011

Beautiful Suiting

Having just been promoted at work, I've got quite into Power Dressing... Having never been a fan of black, I'm now in love with it for its air of professional cool and power.

Cap Sleeve Waist Pleat & Bow Stretch Dress

This new M&S dress is my new favourite... Flattering, appropriate, and washable! The holy grail of work dresses!

Though I am now partial to a bit of black, you can't do without colour... And what is more Colourful than a berry red wool suit?!?!

The skirt especially is easy to wear, warm and incredibly nice on. The wool doesn't crease, and the lining doesn't get staticky with opaques!

And the footwear?

How about some gorgeous black suede heels, with cute triangular straps?

Autograph Suede Wide Fit Court Shoes with Insolia®

I'm such a twenty-something middle-ager, but I'm ADORING M&S this season! =D =D =D 


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Life Imitating Art

Lately I've been thinking about Art... It has been a while since I have spent a few hours in a museum, whiling away a few hours staring at beautiful combinations of colour and line. A couple of friends of mine are fantastic artists... One, a professional comedian, is an obvious suspect - always dressed flamboyantly. He accepts commissions to design stamps in Spain, and discusses constructing sculptures out of my hair. (Don't worry, I have no intention of cutting my Pride and Joy for Art's sake!) He introduced me, a long time ago now, to the art of Rinaldo, Ergisto and Cyrus Cuneo: Californian artists of the early 20th century. (A great Youtube view of California Artists with the Auction Network starts with Bonhams and Butterfields (Fine Art) #1 - I'm loving the William Keith and E Charlton Fortune's works.)

Rinaldo Cuneo - The Farm - c.1930

Rinaldo Cuneo - Storm Mountains - c.1930

Rinaldo Cuneo (1877-1933), "The Painter of San Francisco", started his adult life in the Navy, followed by artistic training in San Francisco under Arthur Putnum, working alongside Ralph Stockpole and Maynard Dixon. He went to England and became a fellow of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and later studied under Whistler. I love Tonalism in general, but I think his works are truly beautiful. Such a shame that he struggled to market them in his lifetime due to the advent of the Great Depression!

His youngest brother, Ernisto Cuneo, studied under John Sloan, and was an officer of the Kit Kat Club, an organisation that raised funds for art scholarships in early 19th Century New York. He specialised mostly in nudes and figurative drawings, and abandoned his art work to work in Real Estate...

Ernisto Cuneo - Nude Model, Kit Kat Club New York - 1920

Cyrus Cuneo also studied under Whistler, and settled in England, becoming a celebrated illustrator for London News and war artist, as well as becoming a Fellow of the Royal Academy. In my opinion, his war art is some of the most affecting I know, from a genre full of heart-rending material... The pictures below are prime examples of the genre, and particularly the top one, feels like it could be happening in Afghanistan right now! Such is the nature of warfare I suppose.
Cuneo Cyrus - British Pilot Destroys Fourteen Ammunition Trucks with a Single Bomb
Cyrus Cuneo - British Pilot Destroys Fourteen Ammunition Trucks with a Single Bomb - c.1915

Cyrus Cuneo - An encounter between Turkish and Italian Troops - 1911

What do you guys think? Have you had much experience with the Californian Painters? What do you think of the Auction Network programme? I'm interested to hear your views...


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Got to Love Sunshine!

Today was so beautiful and warm! A great day for getting out and about as part of Walk to Work Week

It's a great / hilarious website, where everyone taking part from all over the UK gets to log their miles walked over the week, and learn things like how many Muffins they've burnt off, or how many times they've walked to John O' Groats from Lands End!

I've got really into this, unsurprisingly, and am getting out every chance I get... I walk to work every day anyway, but as Boy and I are doing a 26 mile-in-a-day hike in September for the Alzheimer's Society, I thought now would be a good excuse to start getting into good habits before we have to get training properly!

So, this evening, we wandered out over some fields at the back of our estate, and walked off our nommy stir-fry dinner! =D

Considering we did a bit of scrambling up banks and through nettles, I was wearing TOTALLY non-practical outfit...

Sliiiiightly unflattering shorts, (okay, make that Very unflattering shorts...) and a cropped floral / hippy patterned shirt (from Oxfam). I wore these with walking shoes and a big red vintage coat. HOT!!! 

The boys were certainly amused by the flash of midriff! Normally never happens! =D

Those shorts in a slightly more flattering pose, but with a less cute top (Gap tank top from yeeears ago) can be glimpsed again, if you're willing to put yourself through it...

Not sure what I think of the shorts... They're from the Each charity shop again, and shorts are useful in summer. Hmmmmm. To keep, or not to keep, that is the question!!!! Thoughts anyone?

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Getting Back In The Swing

As mentioned in my last post, the camera's back, if not quite up to previous standards of photography...

It's been so warm lately, my outfits are swinging from spring to summer and back again on the occassional day of rain. Summery thingshave been sorely lacking in my Cambridge wardrobe since the whole "grown-up life" began, so starting to collect some flimsy things to wear in the warmer weather, so my few bits from my "previous" (i.e. unencumbered by work dress codes) life aren't worn out!

PLEASE excuse the moody expression... I'd just got the camera working, and tried so many times to get it to capture my new *bright* dress, but it was refusing to play ball. Trust the only remotely decent photo to be of me looking Massively Grumpy!!! Also, sorry for lack of anything other than dress.  (I'll probably try some different belt options with this soon.) Haven't quite worked out where to pose yet! The dress is actually a size 20 tunic top with ties that you can use to pull in the "dress" massively at the back... I got it, as usual, from a charity shop. We have a massive East Anglia Childrens' Hospice shop next to our local coop. Yay Saturday charity-plus-grocery shopping!!! =D

And here we have a slightly different outfit... My work outfit from the other day! After days of blindingly-hot sunniness, we woke up to gray, and threatening rain this morning. So I paired a knit tank with a long skirt. Under my lovely warm coat and black cashmere cardie it was warm enough (if slightly nippy) to walk to work in, and cool enough to keep me from sweating buckets / keeling over / getting a migraine in our boiling-whatever-the-weather office!

I wasn't expecting this outfit to garner much attention, but it got several favourable comments today! Odd what people love! I wasn't sure if the length of the skirt plus the high neck was a bit matronly, but I think the bare legs and the high high black suede-and-snake pumps lifted it out of the no-go area into rather a nice outfit! (If I do say so myself.) The components are a John Smedley black knit tank, M&S via Oxfam charity shop floral skirt and Jaeger enamel buckle criss-cross leather belt, plus old Kate Kuba shoes (not pictured).

Apologies for the bare feet. My left foot looks a bit mottled, and my right foot has disappeared completely into the duvet / mattress quicksand! Trust me, I was wearing hot shoes, but I kicked them off as my right foot got a bit chewed up on the 50 minute (there and back) walk, so I was eager to get them off once I was in the house, and didn't want to wear them to jump on our clean duvet! I think for the moment this will be my pose of choice, so shoes might not feature very often... Oops.

How's everyone else doing with the can't-make-its-mind-up weather?


Thursday, 5 May 2011


After my picture-free carrot cake post the other week, I thought I'd go one better with the lemon-y cake-of-awesomeness Boy and I cooked up for his parental visit the other week.

Okay, so I've finally got my camera up and running... So these pictures aren't exactly of the standard those of you who've been reading for a while came to expect when T-B was around, but they're from the heart!!! ;-D

This is me, post-cake baking, quite proud of the cake, but not wanting to show Quite how proud...

I'm wearing my absolutely AWESOME "Domestic Goddess" Grumpy Cat apron I bought in York at The Cat Gallery - they don't have it online, but I've found it here. (Scroll down a bit.) Not sure why I was wearing my denim shirt with my black and cream print romper. So Not A Match... But I suspect I grabbed the shirt in an "I'M FECKING FREEZING" moment, with little bother made to style!

And here are "My Boys". The most important one is holding the cake. ;-D But given I live with my Boyfriend *and* my Best Mate, they're both quite important! (In case you hadn't worked it out, the former is in the foreground, the latter reaching for something on top of the fridge in the background.)

Got to love Boy's Major Unimpressed Face...

I'm probably going to get in Major trouble for putting this photo up! (Particularly since his hair is slightly floofy. He doesn't think it's a good look. Oops!)

And, a Big Slice of the cake in question... Who'd'a thunk it was mostly courgette!!! =D It was pretty darn awesome too, if I do say so myself!

The recipe is mostly courgette, rice flour, ground almonds and a lot of lemon zest. The jam is strawberry, and the icing is pretty much just soy-margerine, icing sugar and lemon juice. Note the layer of icing in the middle... Boy is a HUGE fan of the trad. Victoria Sponge. This recipe is again from Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache, my absolutely favourite recipe book of all time! =D

What have you guys been baking lately?

I've had a break since these, but am quite tempted to do some Brownies this weekend... Nomnomnom!


Sunday, 24 April 2011

Judge a Book by its Cover.

Articles bemoaning the end of the physical book shop sadden me... 

I can't describe the feelings that well up when I am in a book shop, from Waterstones to the rows of antique book stores opposite the British Museum, or the light, airy confines of the London Review of Books shop, or the dark pannelled Daunt's on Marylebone High Street. I just love trailing my fingers across spines old and new, picking things out, excited about the journey ahead.

My favourite book shop of all is John Sandoe's, just off the King's Road, where I remember a very deep, involved conversation with one of the proprietors about the relative charms of the Jennings books. I was a fan of Jennings' Little Hut, whereas he liked According to Jennings best of all... I must have only been about ten, but that conversation, standing in the shadow of bookcases so tall you feel dwarfed, with all that black wood and the slick, colourful spines, will stay with me forever. The time taken by someone who could have chatted to my parents, rather than me, in an effort to make a sale, will forever be treasured, and that is just one of a thousand moments I've had in that shop that remind me that selling books is more than just about ease and low price. (Hello Amazon!) 

Okay, so sometimes it is... When I need a book for book group, which I don't particularly fancy, and know will probably go charity-shop-wards soon enough, or if I am getting an excruciatingly expensive employment law book that's £50+ in Hammicks Legal Bookshop ( - not that I don't love it, but god, the prices are EYE WATERING!!!) and it's £12 on Amazon.

But I still want the little stores to be there. The ones that present me with the greatest adventures you can have in your own head. I love finding treasure, from the day Claire talked me into buying Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache in an anonymous Waterstones, to the expedition where I asked Karen in John Sandoe's for a recommendation of some unusual books to read on a plane; coming out with Richard Russo's Empire Falls and Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake. Empire Falls remains to this day one of my personal high points of literature, and represents a great achievement for me. It was the first book - aside from one of the trashy romance novels, literally Mills and Boon stylee, that got me through two years of ilness (and still do get me through the bad patches of depression and panic I am still occassionally plagued with), that I read from cover to cover when I recovered from a debilitating and incredibly confidence sapping health issue that kept my teenage self from getting up, going to school, and having a normal life for far too long. The concentration it took to read that book was something I did not think I could do, but thanks to Karen, and to an amazingly rich tapestry of words, I found the experiences I had been sorely missing during my "lost" months of ilness, and gained back a small ounce of confidence in my own ability to bounce back.  That tiny achievement in the scheme of things still keeps me going today.

I digress.

When you're in a book shop, how do you choose the book? I tend to go for a cross between an analysis of whether or not I have heard of the author, whether I like the title and the cover, (nothing pink or curly or too fussy thank you!!!) and whether it feels right in my hand. I like little slips of books, and massive doorstops too. I hate a book to be too large or chunky to hold, though if it is large in size, let it be easily opened - and kept - at the right page... 

Some of my favourite "come to me" books I've encountered lately have been:

The Coralie Bickford-Smith designed Penguin Classics... Particularly The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Seriously... How awesome are all the bugs? I'm not the world's biggest Sherlock Holmes fan, though Benedict Cumberbatch did do an awesome turn... But this book, with all its Antipodium tones really ticks the book buying box for me. Judging a book by its cover? Oh yes.

I so want this skirt... But that book is the Next Best Thing!!! =D (Photo from Cupcakes For The Eyes)

This Jane Eyre edition is also stunning. I think it really evokes the atmosphere of the book, and as I take great pride in choosing to own the editions of books I think are the best representation of the words inside, I'd buy this over other editions any day...

The cover art is by Petra Börner. I think her work is generally pretty awesome...

What about The Long Song by Andrea Levy?

I just LOVE the colours of this book, shortlisted for last year's Man Booker Prize. Take Andrea Levy's name, add a story about Jamaican Plantation life - my mother spent a while in Jamaica in the 70s, and its culture and history fascinate me - and put a kick ass cover on the front, and I'm SOLD!

What about you guys? Any stories to tell, or books that just took your breath away?

Hope you're all having a truly lovely long Easter weekend!!!


Friday, 22 April 2011

My New Best Friend.


Decision made.

I've decided I need to broaden out this blog a bit. Just churning out fashion titbits isn't doing it for me anymore, as it really just brings home quite how limited my capacity to run this blog on clothes alone is. My beloved photographer is miles away, my own camera is just a tad shoddy, and I'm too busy to spend all my free time researching my fashion loves. Not only that, but to be honest, my miniscule salary doesn't really cover much more than minimal spending on clothes, and so I need to focus on other things for a while...

That's not to say I'm not going to blog about fashion anymore, I will be doing that, but I will also be doing posts on theatre, film, travel, work, play and, my favourite of all, food... In particular, on that last score, the wonders of healthy home cooking, and the trials of being a celiac who can't eat dairy or potato either!

It's been a very long road for me to come to accept how my body needs to be treated, not feeding it things that make it run slower, or cause me pain. Instead, I have had to find alternatives that fit in with all aspects of my life, and make it easier to keep up with the hectic pace of 21st Century 20-Something living! I've been helped with that to a large extent by my awesome boy who makes sure that I don't just eat hummus and rice cakes 10 times a day. He's very into three square meals, and has been nudging me to keep me from using my old food-as-punishment device I used to give in to most of the time. The one where I'd make myself sick eating things I knew would degrade my intestines, give me headaches, and blow out my stomach to three times the size it should have been. For this, and a million other things, I'm so grateful.

Anyway, moving on from the mushy stuff... Hope anyone who already reads my blatherings here will stick with me. Hopefully there's plenty still out there to inspire me. It just won't necessarily be fashion, at least not every day...

Off I go to eat some gluten-and-potato-free toast (trust me - hard to find!!!) and hazelnut butter... Nomnomnom.