Messy House, Messy Head

 

I’m definitely one of those people that can’t think straight when the space around me is cluttered and messy. Too bad then that our house is somewhat coming down around us at the minute as I hurry to finish my cookbook and begin to qualm the all too predictable nerves that accompany the release of such a thing… what will people think, say and (let’s face it) criticise? Yep, I already know there will be a few ‘haters’ (as the tinternets like to call them) but I hope there’ll also be more than few ‘lovers’ too (is this an internet term, and if not, why not?). All this worrying coupled with a recent facebook request asking what our favourite book is brought my rapidly depleting memory capcity back to an old classic I use to love – namely, the hilarious ‘Lucky Jim’ (written by the wickedly witty writer Kingsley Amis). Along with the title we were also encouraged to leave a quote from said book and this is where the planets suddenly aligned in my brain as I (bingo!) realised the world really hasn’t changed all that much in the 60 yrs since it was first published… in essence, we are still dealing with same s**t we always have been and probably always will. And in case you are wondering what the hell I am wittering on about, here is that exact (light bulb alert!) quote I am referring to…

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“Haven’t you noticed how we all specialise in what we hate most?”

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In addition to this little epiphany and discovering a site that seems to specialise in slagging off successful bloggers (I have made a vow not to read it again – too much hate makes me ill), I’ve come to the conclusion that there will always be people pointing out your flaws or trying to tear down your achievements. I’m not saying I don’t have negative thoughts now and then but I always try and focus my energy on the good in others and what they do -and anyway, doesn’t it make people unhappy being so critical all the time? So yeah, I’m not perfect, and what I do may not appeal to everyone but at least I know I’ve given my all, my everything, my best, and really, what more can I do?

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What I will say is ‘the more you give, the more you get’ so I’m determined to put out as much positivity as I can muster and hope that I can spread a little joy (as well as getting some back, ahem) in the process… c’mon, don’t lie, we all want to be loved and accepted! I’m pretty sure these chaotic mind bender moments really aren’t being helped by the stack of dishes in the sink, ramshackle bookshelves and unpacked suitcases – maybe the moral of the story is to keep the place tidy lest you (meaning me) risk falling into a pit of darkness and despair. If you’ll excuse me then, I’m off to sort my house and head out – and perhaps do a spot of really bad crocheting too. Yep, feel free to laugh yourself silly at that top pic because a knitter I am most definitely am not but as they say…  ’God Loves a Trier’. Peace out x

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LFW… Orla Kiely SS14

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I’m currently sitting here wearing my Orla Kiely boat print t-shirt with pride. Obviously where I’d really like to be is at London Fashion Week ogling all the wonderful collections and in particular I would’ve loved (repeat looooooved) to have attended the always brilliant Orla Kiely presentation – but unfortunately this season it was not to be. Our move has coincided rather badly with fashion week although I have written a little NYFW round-up for Hunger should you wish to read my more official views on the subject.

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However, I couldn’t let my adoration for the Orla Kiely SS14 collection go unnoticed on the blog… because, you know, it’s kinda amazing – would ya just look at these outfits!!! Styled by the tremendously talented Leith Clark and with a seventies safari meets Moonrise Kingdom backdrop, this range floated my boat and then some. The knee high sandals and socks combo still gets me every time too – ack, soooo cute!

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There were zebra prints, over-sized pockets and ‘oh my giddy aunt’ beret’s galore, as well as a beautifully muted palette with pops of pink and red that is so perfectly understated I just can’t seem to get enough of it (I’ve literally looked at these images a hundred times already – sad but true). Yep, I’m that giddy girl who just wants everything now, now, now but, of course, I can console myself in the meantime with the fact the current AW13 collection is just as fantastic.

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It excites me so much to see an Irish designer like Orla get so much well deserved attention – sometimes us Irish wans can often be the butt of the fashion scene’s joke but with Orla Kiely flying the flag with super duper designs like these we will continue to hold our heads high.

I think we can confidently say the lady has done it again, don’t you agree? What a gal.

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p.s. images are from fashionising.com

p.p.s. you can read my other Orla Kiely posts here, here, here and here.

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Camper Cooking Pt.1… Sweet ‘n’ Sour Slaw

Cooking with limited resources can be challenging but also so much fun. Getting back to basics has been one of the best things about this move and I’ve been loving my one-pot wonders and endless salad variations, so I thought I’d share a quick one with you…

We’re feeling a little more settled today, and have both miraculously managed to get some work done – hurrah! Not only that but the deposit on our previous London flat has just come through, which means we can begin the flat search in earnest… so exciting!!!

In lieu of a permanent abode though I thought a little exercise in camper van cooking would keep me busy in between articles for Hunger and strolls to the beach. It’s a hard life, I know. Can you tell I’m more chipper today? Things are starting to fall into place so who can be unhappy about that. Onwards.

p.s. the maple syrup seen here was the sweetest gift given to us by our wonderful friends from across the pond who came and stayed with us for a few days last week. It’s seriously incredible stuff and the absolute perfect sweet to my sour in this simple but tasty dish. Enjoy!

Sweet ‘n’ Sour Slaw

1/4 red cabbage finely sliced

1 carrot grated or peeled

1/4 cup pickled beetroot, finely sliced 

handful of pumpkin seeds

coarse sea salt (Cornish Sea Salt is the ultimate – trust me)

ground black pepper

1 tbsp good quality maple syrup

1 tbsp of the pickled beetroot vinegar

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Toss, season, serve…. that simple.

and in case you are wondering about the potato salad. it was simply boiled potatoes, cooled and tossed with sea salt, hummous, chives and a little olive oil…. delish.

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Vivesoy, Vivejoy

If you visit this blog regularly you’ll know I’m pretty selective about the products I recommend. But, when I do come across something I believe to be blog worthy I have no qualms in giving it a well deserved thumbs up – and this new (to me) soya milk brand most certainly warrants a pat on the back. Up until now we’ve had a pretty limited selection here in the UK when it comes to soya milk, with only one major brand being at the forefront, so it’s great to finally have more choice.

Whilst I love to mix up my plant milks I always have a carton of soya in the fridge – I refuse to give up my morning tea, I only have so many vices left! Obviously too much of anything is never good but i’m happy with the balance we have in our own diet. We tried two different Vivesoy milks – unsweetened and cappuccino (i’m sucker for anything coffee flavoured), and were super impressed with both.

My problem with most soya milks is the sometimes unpleasant aftertaste, even with flavoured milks. Genuinely, hand on heart, not the case with this one. I’m so ridculously over the moon with their cappuccino flavour soya milk (which I served over ice, ‘iced-coffee’ style and in an ‘ice-cream’ float – yes, I went there) I’m in danger of becoming addicted …..seriously could not stop drinking this stuff and will have to stock up the next time I see it in Tesco for sure. Not much can satisfy my iced-coffee cravings other than a Starbucks (feel free to wrap me over the knuckles) but this is as close as it gets.

The other big soya milk hurdle for me is how well it works in tea. Being a total tea drinking nut I need a milk that is sufficiently thick and pourable, and this brand ticks both boxes and more. Oh, and my Husband insisted I mention how easy to pour the carton is – a little bugbear of his (p.s. he didn’t want me to feature his hand – ha, too bad). So yeah, what can I say ….it’s a goodun!

 

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DIY Orla Kiely

 

I can never have too much Orla Kiely in my life. Those prints….well, I think you already know how I feel about those prints. Suffice to say when I got these postcards as a little bonus gift when I shopped the recent Orla Kiely for Uniqlo collection I knew exactly what to do with them.

However, it wasn’t until they were doing a recent clear out at Matches, where I managed to score some super simple frames headed for the skip, that I was able to put my little postcard arrangement into action.

All it took was some white paper, a little bit of blue tac and hey presto, I had the perfect addition to my otherwise dull staircase that had been previously inhabited by two fairly cheesy prints I bought in Poundland in a moment of desperation.

Orla’s delightfully retro prints continue to brighten my life and with ‘Orla Kiely House’ available imminently I’d better start saving my pennies and pounds for the many pieces I will no doubt need in my life. In some ways I wish she’d just stop producing so many awesome things I can’t afford but at the same time I’m thinking, ‘keep ‘em comin’ Orla, keep ‘em comin’!

 

 

 

 

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Smoky Toasty Vegan Quesadilla For One

What if I told you the main ingredient in this No’Quesa’dilla is, gulp, Brussel Sprouts. Would you scarper to the nearest non vegan blog faster than your little fingers can click? Hopefully it wont come to that and if I have managed to retain your attention until now then let me take this chance to say….Brussel Sprouts can taste good. Don’t believe me? One bite of these smoky toasty morsels and you’ll be eating your words. And your sprouts.

What you’ll need…

1 flour tortilla

1 shallot

5 brussels sprouts

2 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp hummus

1 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

What you’ll do…

Heat the oil in a pan. Slice the shallot and add to pan. Salt and soften for a few minutes. 

Finely slice the sprouts, add to pan and cook for several minutes before adding salt and the sliced garlic cloves.

Cook for a few minutes more before sprinkling over the smoked paprika. Mix thoroughly and allow the flavours to infuse before stirring through the parsley and transferring to a bowl.

Heat the tortilla in a pan for a few minutes before spreading the dijon all over, the hummus over half and then topping with the Brussel Sprout mix. 

Fold and cook in the already heated pan until toasty on one side before turning over. Once the other side is toasted, cut into three triangles and serve – particularly nice with a warming bowl of soup!

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Summer Scarf

As you’re reading this I should be lying on a beach in Santorini, sipping on something cool, reading a book and just generally having a sweet time. Summer scarves will be far from my mind and I hopefully will be rejuvenating my blogging prowess, ready to get back in the virtual saddle with more food, fashion and usual rambling posts.

I wore this last week when we were invited to (a fabulous) dinner at our friends and was thoroughly disgusted at having to wrap anything around my neck in the supposed height of summer.

But if I’m forced to don ridiculous attire in July then it may as well be covered in polka dots, right?

what i’m wearing…polka dot scarf/random store in putney…cotton blazer/h&m…blue animal print top/primark…camel high waisted trousers/mango…mustard woven belt/m&co…earrings/urban outfitters

 

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London Fashion Week Round Up!

What can I possibly say about London Fashion Week other than it was completely and totally mind blowingly awesome in every possible way. I don’t think I’ve properly digested everything so apologies if this post seems a little ramshackle – bits & bobs, highlights, favourite collections, outfits etc – too much to tell and too little brain power as yet to configure it neatly in my tiny mind.

I’m not exactly sure where to begin so let me tell mention the location first – Somerset House. Totally spectacular and a perfect setting for an inspiring week of design. The cobbles aren’t so great for walking in heels but the building is so utterly breathtaking, I can overlook that one tiny niggle.

Walking the gauntlet of photographers everyday was also more than a little intimidating. Funnily enough I was mostly stopped by Japanese Mags – which kind of thrilled me a bit, as I’ve always loved Japanese fashion and confirmed what I’ve suspected for a while now…….I need to visit that country!

People watching actually became one of the best aspects of fashion week – I find street style so inspiring and I wasn’t disappointed with the outfits that were rolled out. London has got it goin’ on!

Now, where do I start with the shows. Too many to mention really but my top picks have got to be Daks, Prose, Pam Hogg and for sheer unadulerated drama the award goes to Inbar Spector. Wow! I also keep thinking about how starkly beautiful the Antoni&Alison dresses were – those prints floated my boat big time. Would totally wear all of them.

The Daks collection was faultless, in my opinion, and all totally wearable. Classic British design (okay, the designer is American born but the house is British) with enough of a modern spin to make it feel fresh and totally new. The cut, the tailoring, the palate, all of it wonderful. Love, want, need.

Prose was another standout collection for me. The textures were unspeakably stunning and I love the fact she paired many of her standout pieces with a simple black polo – totally a look I rock, great minds think alike……

Attending the Pam Hogg show was like a frickin’ punk gig. Wild peeps in the queue as well as a show from Janice Dickinson and Jo Wood – could it get any more rock and roll?! Actress Jamie Winstone took to the catwalk in a magnificent dress and oversized bonnet. Despite her small stature she certainly lit up that runway as much as any of her leggy counterparts.

The week was made so much more fun by the fantastic company in the form of my fellow intern colleague, Francisco, and my lady bosses at the Express – fun times!

Of course, if it hadn’t be for the kindness of The Daily Express team, I wouldn’t have had the privilege of attending London Fashion Week at all, so to everyone there, thank you, thank you, thank you!

For me the most exciting discovery of the week was the lack of trends for next season. Yes! This could not make me happier. That may sound weird coming from someone who wants to work in fashion but I’ve always loathed trends – people should look unique and individual, not like clones, dressed head to toe in a look they’ve copied straight from a magazine. Rather a counter intuitive comment from a budding stylist perhaps but that’s how I feel.

If London Fashion Week has taught me anything, it’s that the UK is still a hub for innovation and sheer creativity that knows no bounds. The Central St Martins Masters show I witnessed was proof of that alone. Bizarre and brilliant.

 

From the catwalk to the cafe. The Peter Jensen print which adorned the Embankment Cafe was, to put it bluntly, perfect, and felt like it enveloped all the fashionistas in style whilst they sipped on champagne – free on the first day, wahoo, guzzle guzzle!

A shout out to a show and designer I didn’t have the fortune to see. Vivienne Westwood has long since been a heroine of mine and even though she’s currently in the dog house with the fashion press after saying ‘people have never looked so ugly as they do today’, she’s still my number one.

Her AW2012 collection was outrageous and perfect. It’s probably just as well I didn’t attend the show as I may have squealed with delight from beginning to end. Majorly heart.

All I can say is – bring on Spring/Summer 2013 baby! Bring. It. On!

Oh, and before you go I must urge you to head over to postcardsfromlondon for more Fashion Week fun – doooo iiiiit.

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Candied Clementine Bundt Cake

I have a second so let me quickly pass on this recipe from VeganYumYum. I made it today and I am so excited to serve it to my parents when they arrive in the next few minutes – eek! Christmas is happening people, it’s freakin’ happening!!!

I’ve since dusted it with icing sugar and it looks even better.

The fondant icing was a bit of a bugger and next time I won’t bother boiling it – there’s no need. Simply mix the juice of two clems with 1 1/2 cup of icing sugar. Beat well to ensure there are no lumps – the boiling seemed to create lumps. Curious.

Happy Holidays Lovelies xxxx

Candied Clementine Bundt Cake

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My Vegan Christmas…..

…..hasn’t really gotten off the ground yet. Still on tour and still not cooking and creating the way I’d normally do around this time of year, which is, to be perfectly frank, making me miserable. It is right about now that I want to be in the comfort of my beautiful Cornish kitchen and not freezing my butt off in some cottage in Scotland. As idyllic as a cottage in rural Scotland may sound, it is not all it is cracked up to be – believe me.

So I keep myself buoyant with thoughts of all the things I will be cooking, drinking and eating over the Christmas period. I’ve been slowly gathering in things like vegan fudge, vegan chocolate caramels and after dinner mints. I’m determined this is going to be one heck of a vegan Christmas  - no holds barred, I’m going all out and then some. Sure, it won’t be perfect and I’m prepared for that but I’m going to give it a damn good try. After all this is our first Vegan Christmas and I’m still learning but that’s the exciting part- if nothing else I do relish a challenge!

For the big day itself I’m planning on a huge feast with all the usual trimmings, combining British and Stateside dishes because we thought this time last year we’d be spending this upcoming Yule in Chicago. It wasn’t meant to be, as they say, and here I am in Scotland and our new home in Cornwall is where we’ll be  spending Christmas. I could let the fact this is the third year in a row I haven’t decorated my Christmas tree get me down but that’s the least of my worries at this stage – we’ll be lucky to make it home in time for Christmas Eve judging by the chaotic weather right now. I had so very many plans for this year, the first year I might add, my Husband and I will be celebrating the holidays together. I will miss my family, of course, but we felt it was an important thing to do.

Enough of my sombre musings. This is supposed to be a time of joy, happiness and peace. In reality I should be counting my blessings because I am a very lucky girl with a wonderful Husband and a fantastic family. Let me then cheer the mood by quickly telling you what I have lined up for my Christmas dinner. Whilst I had wanted to make a chestnut pie for the main I’ve now resigned myself, mainly due to time constraints, to sampling Redwoods celebration roast. What I’ll be serving alongside is sure to excite any true foodie, omni, veggie, vegan or otherwise. Of course there’ll be roast potatoes but also a sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, spiced brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds, braised cabbage and apple, sage and onion stuffing balls, maple glazed parsnips and gravy. I still haven’t decided on afters but it’s a toss up between a Mont Blanc, an ice-cream bombe or cinnamon poached pears with ice-cream and brandy snaps. Maybe you could kindly help me choose? It would be much appreciated.

Drinks are very important at this time of year and aside from the usual mulled wine, on Christmas Eve we’ll be sipping on divinely festive glasses of Nigella’s Poinsettia Cocktail. Christmas Day itself will see us drinking Candy Cane Martini’s (I’m pretty excited about these!!), which is a recipe I discovered in this months free Sainsbury’s mag. You could grab a free mag yourself or save yourself the trouble and follow the recipe below – yes, I have been kind enough to type it out for you, you can thank me all later!

candy cane martini

Pour 50ml chilled vodka into a cocktail shaker. Add 3 drops peppermint essence and ice cubes and shake well, until the shaker frosts. Strain into a martini glass, top with *lemonade and decorate with a sprig of mint and candy cane on the side.

*US readers please note Lemonade in the UK is akin to Sprite – a sugary fizzy drink with a mere hint of lemon. Do not use traditional Lemonade.

Also, for those of you interested in spicing up your day and doing something a little different with your brussels then see the recipe below. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

spiced brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds

1 onion

10 brussel sprouts

1/2 pomegranate

1 teaspoon cumin

sea salt and pepper

Finely slice an onion. Heat a little oil and soya butter in a pan and lightly fry the onion until it softens – about 8-10minutes. Remember to season your onion with sea salt to ensure they don’t colour.

Slice the brussel sprouts – fairly thinly, you should get about four slices out of each sprout. Add to pan and fry for about 10minutes until they soften but don’t loose shape – we don’t want any mushy sprouts here;)

Sprinkle over the cumin and thoroughly mix allowing to infuse for a few minutes. Season. Before serving stir through the seeds from the pomegranate – you may have to encourage them out with a knife or just give the back of the fruit a hard tap with a wooden spoon.

And finally. I did make these odd little sweet treats one day when I was bored and desperately wanted to bake but had none of the relevant ingredients to do so. They are strangely moreish even though they are like a cross between chocolate covered cookie dough and a cake ball – neither one nor the other and kinda difficult to describe. Confused? I am. Hopefully, someone out there will appreciate it – they sure did comfort me when I needed cheering on a horribly cold and lonely day.

chocolate covered cookie cake balls

1 cup plain flour

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup soya milk

3 tbsp agave nectar

1 banana

1/2 bar vegan dark chocolate

handful of vegan white chocolate buttons

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 fahrenheit.

In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients. Mash the banana and combine with the soya milk and agave nectar. Stir into dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. If it is too dry add a little more milk and likewise if it is too wet add more flour.

You should make a rough dough. Pull off small pieces and rolls between hands to make a ball shape. Place on a baking sheet and repeat. Bake in oven for 15-20minutes.

Allow to cool. Melt chocolate in a saucepan with a splash of soya milk. Roll the balls in the chocolate and top with each with a white chocolate button. Allow to cool and the chocolate to harden before eating. Keep in freezer and let them thaw for at least 20minutes before eating.

Okay, that’s all my news for now. I’m leaving you with an image of my advent calendar because I think it’s mega cute. It was a gift from my Husband – he got himself one too so together we could count down the days to our reunion (pass the sick bucket?).

It’s been great to catch up. I’m so looking forward to posting about some more magnificently seasonal delights very very soon. Just in case I don’t have an opportunity to update before the 25th let me take this opportunity to thank you all for being such wonderfully loyal readers and to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas x

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