Guardian Girl

Autumn glow

Posted in Make-up, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on October 1, 2009

What is an autumn glow? A slightly paler version of a summer glow?

Maybe I’m a bad judge of such things but this make-up look appeared inadvisable to me. It’s not really going to fool anyone you’ve just come back from holiday, is it?

Nonetheless I’ve been faithfully recreating it on my own face every day this week. During The Break I was wearing a lot of heavy black eye make-up so it’s been quite nice in a way to see my face again. I do like the way that when you’re used to wearing quite a lot of slap and then you look in the mirror bare-faced, there’s a sort of honest look about your reflection.

I’ve been doing my make-up in the bathroom this week rather than the bedroom as I usually do. I can’t explain this phenomenon, it just came about. Fascinating isn’t it? The reason I mention this is that my bronzer remained in my bedroom for the first few days, and I couldn’t be bothered to walk across my enormous  flat and get it, so I actually brushed brown eyeshadow all over my cheeks instead. Now I’m writing this I feel embarrassed about it but at the time it felt absolutely logical, like when I used to put all my chewed-up Trident gum back into the blister pack it comes in and keep it on my desk, so when someone asked for a piece I’d slide back the cover and they’d see half a pack of fresh bits next to half a pack of gnarled up spitty lumps in varying shades depending on what else I’d most recently eaten, and it was only when several people had reeled back in horror and disgust that I sort of looked at my behaviour from the outside. I suppose that was more revolting than the eyeshadow thing but it my head it seems similar.

I have remembered to use eyeshadow base about 50% of the time, which feels like quite an achievement, but even better is the fact that I’ve been using make-up brushes! Yes I have, because the friend and designer who puts my photos into squares for this blog, Michelle, who I’m sure you’ll remember from earlier posts, gave me the most brilliant present – a tiny box filled with make up brushes and an angled mirror.

I’ve had a bit of a turnaround on the lipgloss front too – it looks less Posh Spice with long fringey black hair, and is edging very slightly closer to Meg White (if I look at myself with my eyes so squinty as to be pretty much closed).

Here are the make-up photos then. Considering how horrified I was when I saw the original, the result is a relief.

Autumn glow

Autumn glow

(I spilt water on the mag and photographed it at dusk, sorry Lozza)

Awful blow

Awful blow

 

Sadly I look like a monk here. Certainly not bronzed. I think this is because my bronzer was originally one of those double ones that has highlighter and bronzer in the same compact, and I went out having fun, dropped my handbag and smashed the powder blocks so they mashed up together. So what I’m now putting on my face is a mixed-up sheen about the same shade as my natural skin tone. It just makes me look a bit more pearly than usual – rubbish, especially on bad skin. I ought to buy myself some cheap bronzer I guess.

Conclusions:

  • I look forward to discovering what a winter glow looks like before long.
  • Putting a bit of lipstick on your cheeks to make them look flushed is one thing, but perhaps streaks of brown eyeshadow’s taking it a little far.
  • Make-up brushes really make things easier.
  • Nothing wrong with looking like a monk.
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Wednesday 12 August

Posted in Fashion, Make-up, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 13, 2009
Lady

Lady

 

...and the Tramp

...and the Tramp

First things first – sorry about the impenetrable block of text below. I’ve gone through putting returns in three times and it still doesn’t work, so will investigate further and sort it out soon.

On this day in history… a simple black dress, ballet pumps and an up-do. Mercy me.

I have no white stockings with origami-like ruffles up the back, but can I be expected to? It’s another case of getting the details wrong, I’m afraid. I might soon resubtitle this project ‘My failure to succeed at becoming a Guardian cliche’, which, for a twenty-something, white, middle-class media professional, is really saying something about my ability to fail.
For all my recent bosating about getting better at doing my hair thanks to Priscilla Kwateng, today’s effort was a bit of a shocker. I pinned the plaits messily to my head so there were frizzy ends and kirby grips sticking out all over the place, and the top knot was more of a top tangle.
Before going home for the evening I had another little Measure mission to fulfil, which was buying the Dallas box set. Or one of them. I planned to find a burgundy silk blouse to really get into the spirit but the only one I found, in M&S, had no shoulder pads. That must be the first time I rejected a possible purchase on the basis that it didn’t have shoulder pads.
I found a kind-of wicked blouse in River Island with crazily big, frouffy shoulders and a nice print and shape, but it wasn’t very silky and or very burgundy – plus, after looking at my reflection for a while and hearing that American baseball game countdown music ringing in my ears,  I wasn’t sure if I was ready for such big shoulder puffs.
I was also haunted by a premonition (if that’s possible) of being sniggered at by my colleagues. I guess around Dalston no one would bat an eyelid but I like to be able to go to work dressed as myself, unedited in the main, and this top would have to get the red pencil. So I didn’t buy it. Incidentally I can’t find the blouse in question on the River Island website but the fact that they classify garments under the heading ‘bar tops’ says a lot about what’s wrong with a) River Island and b) bars.
I resisted another tempting purchase in HMV when I realised there are about eleven Dallas box sets, all at the bargain price of £12 each. I’m not even sure I like Dallas. Apart from some atavistic knowledge of Sue Ellen, who shot JR, the dream thing and the playground version of the theme song, I don’t actually have any familiarity with this programme. I might hate it, although it seems unlikely. So I was good, listened to my retail palpitations and just bought the one box for now.
I also bore in mind the impression it might make on visitors to my small flat when they walked in to discover that the only DVDs I owned consituted the entire history of Dallas, taking up half the sitting room. Bit weird, no?
The one remaining obstacle to success on this matter was that I didn’t have a DVD player or a laptop. I went to Argos and discovered you can get a portable player for £60, with the screen built in, so I bought it. This might sseem a bit financially irresponsible if considered in the context of needing to be able to watch Dallas to comply with The Measure, but I think it’s actually quite a wise purchase. At the moment I survive on a cultural diet of the Guardian (which already pulls more than its weight of influence on my life these days, that is quite clear), my record collection and Resonance FM.
These things are all fantastic in their own ways but they lend an austere atmosphere to my life compared to the days of old when I lived with two boys and got addicted to Dog the Bounty Hunter (purely my own doing). The addition of a film or two in the evenings would be nice, I admit, even if I won’t let a telly through the door.
So I took the DVD player home in the faith it’d add a little technological luxury to my life and baked mysefl a celebratory yoghurt pie.
So far I’ve found Yotam’s recipes to work pretty well even when followed lackadaisically, and this one certainly didn’t taste horrible. But there were a few things I did – or didn’t do – that marred the end result a bit.
First, I forgot to soak the vine leaves and thought it wouldn’t matter too much. But actually without blanching they were a little tough and very salty, as I used the ones in brine. I also missed the part about cutting off the tough bit at the stem, which is a shame as they made the pie difficult to slice – and chew. It was no real obstacle for me but I’m glad I wasn’t cooking for guests that night, as a slightly more fussy eater would have found this texture offputting.
The filling was nice, although a bit thick, I think because  I put too little yogurt in (ate the rest with honey while pie was in oven, surprise surprise). I couldn’t find all the herbs I needed in Sainsbury’s and the filling could have been seasoned better.
Also I topped the pie with a whole packet of dried breadcrumbs rather than only a tablespoon or two, because I thought they’d go off if I didn’t use them, and I don’t like to waste. I guess they would’ve frozen OK in retrospect, as bread does. I thought they’d go all crispy-gooey and lovely but the pie was altogether too dry and it just went very crumbly and sandy, really. Not great.
On the plus side, Yotam’s tabbouleh from last week, which I’d blasphemously made using couscous, made a pretty nice hot dish to go alongside the pie.
Pie

Pie

 

Dry

Dry

 

Mine actually looks kind of good in the comparison here, but only because I photographed my copy of the Weekend magazine so badly. I’m sure the favourable appearance wouldn’t stand up to a taste test.
And finally, this week’s Lauren Luke look.
I’ve really been enjoying this, actually. The photos don’t illustate what it actually looks like but I have some lovely purple Lancome eyeshadow and am finding for once that the primer Lauren suggests is really making a difference to how bright the colour looks and how long it stays on. I like wearing black eyeliner on just the lower lids – it makes me feel, if not look, a bit Bambi eyed. And the addition of some pink lipstick (in my case free lipgloss off the front of Zest magazine about five years ago) is making my face look like more of a sweet shop than a sweat shop for a change, rather than the usual pelted-by-tom-thumb-drops-travelling-at-high-speed look (see last week’s if you don’t know what I mean).
Violet

Violet

Violent

Violent

 

Special gratitude this week to Michelle, who did my photoshopping for me from all the way across the globe in Korea because my new design regular Jonny is poorly. AMAZing girl.
Conclusions:
  • Blanching vine leaves makes all the diffference, I imagine.
  • I’m getting a bit tired of the limited scope of the Sainsbury’s fresh herb selection. Isn’t everyone using them since Jamie Oliver started ripping them up and bunging them in everything? I’m sure they’d sell fine.
  • Experimentation with quantities isn’t always going to work – and with dry breadcrumb topping it didn’t.
  • River Island has the odd nice blouse. As always with that shop, though – stay away from naked flames.
  • Can’t wait to climb into bed early of an evening with that night’s recipe and a new episode of Dallas. Does this mean I’ve become old before my time? Undoubtably.

Saturday 8 August

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Make-up, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 10, 2009

This week I was in good company for the grand moment of opening the Weekend magazine to see what magic was on its way – my friend Adam was up from Brighton for a few days. He’d already read the magazine that morning, lending the event even more ceremonial weight as he knew what was coming and I didn’t.

However the suspense was mainly in vain as this looked to be a pretty unremarkable issue.

So…First impressions

Fashion

Where’s the usual fashion story? There’s only All Ages to be seen this week. It’s quite a relief as these outfits tend to be much more wearable – not to mention the poses being infinitely more poseable. Plus it’s all black this week. What could be easier for the average girl? Adam had also very thoughtfully brought me a belt and geek-chic glasses frames so I could more accurately follow the fashions later this week… watch this space.

The Measure

Wide, pale belts

No complaints – a nice Jigsaw belt by the looks of things, although doubtless not cheap.

Hiking…

…boots with heels? Insert retching noise here. I guess the ones in the picture aren’t that bad, maybe with pale-ish skinny jeans and a baggy vest or something. Oh, I dunno, I’m sure I’ll like them if I see them often enough, but whether these will ever make it to the high street is questionable.

The Rachel Zoe Project

I see, it’s a TV programme, which is why I knew nothing of it when it was mentioned before (no TV). While I think this woman is pretty and I sort of want to be her in the same unthinkingly ridiculous way I sort of want my bum to look how it did when I was seven years old, I fundamentally hate everything this woman stands for and think she usually looks like a doll in a dishcloth. I can’t imagine it being in any way healthy for me to watch this programme, so it’s a damn good job I don’t have a telly. And I think buying one for this purpose goes too much against my time-spending ethics. I’d far rather spend three hours baking the perfect meringue for my Cotswold Mess or chopping parsley into 3mm lengths than spend three hours sitting on my rump watching a shiny-haired vacuum in an off-the-shoulder dress parade up and down a shop floor, or whatever goes on in Rachel Zoe’s Polly Pocket world*.

*I’m sure she’s a really lovely person, though. I’m sure she is. Only slightly responsible for getting a generation of 14-year-olds hooked on laxatives. We all have our flaws, after all.

Brown legs in white dresses; sea views and bougainvillea

Enough! I used up all my holiday this year already so my forthcoming five-day break in Hamburg will have to do. But my god, those words, so evocative.

Dallas

I’ve only ever seen Dallas in 2-min clips on Youtube so I might actually break through the paper walls of my Amish lifestyle and buy a cheap DVD player with a screen inbuilt so I can watch this box-set in bed. Whoopeee – hairspray, lipstick, drama. Oh heck, maybe I should start watching Rachel Zoe after all.

Moaning

So from now on, each time someone asks me how I am, the answer has to be ‘AMAZING’. This will be interesting. I don’t mind losing a few pennies or my self-respect during the course of this experiment, but I hadn’t planned to lose all my friends…

“Overboard”

No worries  –  I don’t own no deck shoes.

Thigh boots. On men

Hooray for not having a penis – it would be impossible for me to get this one wrong.

Bulky rolled-up sleeves

Damn it. I have bulky rolled-up sleeves about 94% of the time as I’ve recently found myself to be  consistently too hot and inappropriately dressed. Anyway I like the Duran Duranity of rolled-up sleeves. But this Warehouse blazer sounds nice so I’m willing to buy it in and give it a go if the rest of the week is relatively cheap.

Lauren Luke’s purple eyes

Yay! Those readers of this blog who bought the paper itself will know that Lauren looked really pretty with her indigo peepers this week, and I already have a fair amount of midnight-purpley eye make-up that I love wearing. So this is the only make-up look so far other than the Dita von Teese one that I’d naturally choose for my face. Thank the lord, it’s going to be a good week on the cosmetics front if nothing else. And talking of nothing else…

Fruity little numbers

Hugh has aggravated me this week (boo hoo, I hear him sob) by spending far too much time boiling fruits and berries. I don’t like boiling fruit and berries for a long time! It makes me uneasy to leave an unwatched pot, plus it uses up lots of money on my pauper’s electricity meter. I predict from the off that I won’t be making proper preserves as they also involve sterilising jars and waiting months to eat things. If I can’t wait ten minutes for chocolate sauce to cool, do you think I can wait four months to taste a drop of homemade Ribena? Tsk.

The new vegetarian

Yum, yoghurt pie, mmmmmm.

Black olive gougeres

Looking like something I’d love to eat and hate to bake. Is that most things? Possibly, but I’ll give these a whirl. Maybe they’ll be one of those things that fall into the category apparently defined by souffles (Nigella says so), whereby they seem tricky and impressive yet are basic to do as long as you follow the… oh, wait, you have to follow the recipe. That is tricky.

Wine

Quite reasonable, cheapish and easy-to-get-hold-of suggestions here.

This column will change your life

Looks like another one where you read Oliver Burkeman’s article, think how very interesting it is, stare into space with a wry/wistful smile for a while and conclude that what you can best take away from it is to continue in exactly the same vein as you were before. The kind of advice I like, really. However I will try to put more into the practice the wisdom discussed here about the relative futility of turning over a new leaf – especially given that I am such an avid turner over of leaves I’m practically a strong breeze. Hmm, symbolic.

‘It was a bit of a pipe dream’

As interors features go, probably not much for me to do here but stand in a sleeping bag and have my photo taken.

 

So all in all, the conclusions are that the fashion and make-up will be much as I would usually go for, the cooking is largely going to irritate me and encourage me into improvisations so far from the original recipe as to be humorous, and I might get to buy a few nice bits of clothing. Pretty simple, pretty dull, pretty all right by me.

After first impressions had been harvested and shared with Adam, cider had been drunk and crosswords had been laboured over in the sunshine, we decided to get a few jobs out of the way so we could relax. The first tasks to tackle were a belt from Jigsaw, as seen in the Measure, above, and the commitment to start saying ‘AMAZING!’ whenever I’m asked how I am. I can tell you, as I’m writing this account on Monday, that it feels very much at odds with my character to gush in quite this way so early in a conversation, but the phrase sticks like mud on a wall or whatever the right phrase is. Adam and I ended up describing pretty much everything as AMAZING! all weekend, which was much less irritating for us than for anyone in our vicinity, expecially since the ‘joke’ increased in volume and horsiness as it did in frequency. My mum called up just now for our usual Monday chat and when she asked how I was, I told her I was ‘AMAAAAZING’ and she sounded so mum-pleased, which made me feel guilty as I don’t actually have much to report and am not particularly amazing after all.

But rewind to Saturday and the belt. We were in Dalston and Jigsaw was in Oxford Circus or Charing Cross. Neither shop was moving towards us at any great pace and we were unwilling to move towards the shops, so we went into an internet cafe and ordered a belt online instead. With P&P added I spent about 30-odd quid on this belt, and it was even in the sale, I think! I forget the original price. Nice, though. They only had a medium one left, which makes me nervous. Apparently the belt has been dispatched, so in a few days’ time we’ll discover whether it fits. I hope so.

I spent most of saturday in my weekend slobbing clothes but changed into the Guardian outfit ready to go out later. We decided I looked like Sharon out of EastEnders in this get-up. Witness:

Sloane Square

Sloane Square

Albert Square

Albert Square

We were planning to go out to meet my bro at a night at which this outfit would, I reckon, have been very poorly received. Perhaps even dangerously poorly received. Luckily (although sadly in terms of not seeing my brother), Adam and I decided to lie on the bed and ask each other questions  from my Brainbox quiz (recommended for ages 12-13) before we went out, which sent us to sleep, and the outfit never made it further than the corner shop to buy gin for that night’s recipe….

…which was blackcurrant liqueur. Adam, usually a confirmed follower of rules with exactitude, was having a mini-break in Reckless World, so we decided we’d simply empty a bottle of vodka, a bottle of red wine, some sugar and two jars of blueberry jam (high fruit content stuff, mind) into a massive pan and heat it up for a while. Then we poured it over gin and ice and got pretty drunk. It was delicious, but it was like drinking jam, I warn you, in case you should decide to do the same thing yourself.
Blackcurrant liqueur

Blackcurrant

Abhorrent

Abhorrent

Conclusions:
  • Bit of an unexciting but restful-looking week – or is it just that I’ve been doing this experiment more than a month now and it’s wearing a bit thin?
  • Black outfits are easy to copy.
  • Purple make-up wins easily against green or blue.
  • Liqueur is fun to make in terms of mixing, but the sieving and cooling and sterilising sound more like vet training vocab than cooking words to me. Stay out of my kitchen, vet training!

Saturday 1 August

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Make-up, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 3, 2009

First impressions

It’s a good job I made it to the pub before opening the Weekend magazine this week because my worst fear had come true remarkably early in the experiment. The fashion shoot this week is swimwear.  I instantly thought of doing some Photoshopping in the name of magazine authenticity but I’m just going to shut up and get on with it. I’m here to represent those of us with meaty, meety thighs and no time to bake meringues for their Cotswold mess, and I ain’t going to abandon the cause now.

The All Ages fashion looks much the same as the past few weeks, as my Guardian-reading friend Shirley pointed out. Very grey, with lots of plaits and layered up garments. I guess the stylist, Priscilla Kwateng, has her aesthetic and that’s that. The shoulders are the main event this week – luckily we’ve been primed for this by The Measure. I wonder how carefully they plan all this. I don’t have many shoulder pads in my wardrobe – yet – but I’m sure I’ll be able to manage some weak version of these outfits by relying on the greyness and the plaitedness and the bunched-upness.

The Measure

Paper planes bag looks nice and I have a holiday booked later this month, so I’ll have a chance to test how much more vacational the whole experience feels with the officially appropriate product on my arm.

Zoe report, Jimmy Choo boots and men’s Louboutins are all future releases rather than current, for which I’m grateful. The likelihood of me being able to afford anything leather by Proenza Schouler is very small, so I’m not counting on this working out either.

Hilfiger slim leg jeans – finally I’ll be able to buy some jeans in my new size.

I’m glad I don’t have to wear the two-sided leggings and I can’t even discuss the office air-con in the public domain as it’s too politically controversial, and I risk having my head price-tagged by a shivering colleague.

Lauren Luke’s make-up

That eyeshadow looks hideous but I’m a rehead at the moment (a result of my failed attempt to become a blonette) so at least this make-up look is aimed specifically at me. I feel special.

Hugh’s recipes look good, simple and tasty this week. Marinating stuff is usually a problem for me by the time I get home from work, but even cooking meat using these ingredients should be nice and at least I have two weekend days to spend macerating food.

Yotam does tabbouleh this issue, which is usually a problem for me due to the presence of the Evil Ones but as usual I’ll substitute sunblush.

How to bake: yum yum yum.

Wine. I won’t make it to Berry Bros but at least there’s a bottle here from Waitrose. Oh wait, it costs £55. Get lost then.

Oliver Burkeman. The advice I’m taking from this article is to continue with whatever I was doing previously and not give a damn whether or not anyone finds it interesting.

Aspects of love. Aww, reading about the sibling bond makes me miss my brother loads. I’ll arrange to see him this week.

Space. In theory I could probably copy this a bit, if the theory was quite a generous one that is. But hang on, what’s that, a cactus room? I don’t think I have a cactus room but I’ll ask my butler to check.

So enough of my first impressions and on to what I actually had to do today. The first thing was to wear a checkerboard-style swimsuit contraption. Luckily I was out for the day so had no opportunity to change into my bikini until that night, when the sun was as set as Angel Delight and I was as drunk as my house guests. I waited until two had gone home and one was asleep before getting my kit off for the photo.

I’d like to add a disclaimer here (and to each post about swimwear). The purpose of this blog is not that I find pictures of bikini models and paste them next to photos of myself copying their poses. What kind of masochist would do that? Not this kind of masochist. There’s a wider context (see What is the point of this blog?, right). I find the whole thing thoroughly embarrassing but if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound. I believe that’s the right idiom for the situation.

So, here goes…

Maximum exposure

Maximum exposure

 

Maximum humiliation

Maximum humiliation

Unlike most people I don’t own a chessboard swimsuit like the one the model’s wearing. I’ll have to join the crowd soon though, as that tan would be to die for with a nice set of lace undies on the first night with a new lover. Marriage proposals here we come!

Anyway let’s move on pretty quickly from that episode – only two more swimwear shots to get through before I can return to the suddenly reassuring task of being photographed in harem pants for the world wide web.

Next task for the day was to get me something from the paper planes collection by cloth-ears, mentioned in The Measure/above. I chose the travel charm because it was the cheapest thing and it’s pretty nice, although I can’t imagine attaching it to my phone, in all honesty. I usually recognise my luggage on the carousel anyway because it’s a ratty, falling-apart free gift from a conference held together with safety pins and tied with a yellow rag, among a sea of neat wheely cases from Debenhams or wherever you buy those things. I suspect most of them probably come from Beelzebub’s market stall. My mum always tells me how useful they are and I can believe it, but after a few years of following them down London escalators I have such negative associations I can’t even touch one without gagging. Anyway, my luggage charm is due to arrive at work this week, so that’s something to look forward to.

While I was using the internet at my friends’ flat to order the charm (I live in the Amish style with no computer, television, kettle, toaster, microwave or CD player)  I also took the opportunity to order some Hilfiger jeans, as I didn’t fancy making the mission into town to buy them on a saturday. I highly unrecommened the experience. I found the Victoria jeans mentioned in The Measure and thought they looked pretty horrible but I’m fast learning to suspend my disbelief in the name of compliance with the mass media. I then discovered they were only available up to a 32in waist, which isn’t big enough for me. My waist is considerably smaller than 32in but the bum, thighs and associated body parts (not quite sure what I mean by that but I’ll leave it in just in case anyone else does) that cause the problem, so I have to buy at least a size 14 or sometimes 34in waist men’s jeans in order to get a fit I can breathe in. This always does my head in. I mean, look at the picture of me in my bikini above (hard to believe I’m encouraging this but I have an important point to make and will always sacrifice my dignity to make a point). Fair enough I have a double chin and substantial thighs and all that, but all in all I’m no great chubber, am I. I’m a fairly normal-looking, well-rounded, healthy girl. I eat a lot of pastry and so on, but then I walk about 11 miles most days and I’m not a fool – I know roughly when to stop. So is it right that I’m considered too big for most designer jeans? I think it’s preposterous.

The skanky black colourway of Victoria jeans comes in a 33in waist though, so I decided to take the risk on those even though £80 is an expensive gamble. I was sure I could send them back if needs be.

The stupid online form and password system confused me and meant I had to re-enter my information FOUR times, after already having been made to feel like an ungodly whale. I tried to process the whole thing twice before i realised they only accept American Express, Visa and Mastercard or something anyway. So not only does this company penalise you for having good, strong, warrior’s thighs, it also penalises you for not being in enormous amounts of debt. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit now. In fact it was a happy outcome because I didn’t much want the jeans anyway – check out the unpleasant distressed effect at the ankles. But really, freedom of choice!

Another task for the day was attempting the green eyeshadow monstrosity of a look recommended for redheads by Lauren Luke this week. I so want to like Lauren Luke as she’s a ‘normal girl’ and she obviously knows her stuff, but some of the make-up just doesn’t look too nice to my eyes.

I copied it the best I coud anyway, using the usual eyeshadow primer to be really diligent about it. I don’t have any very bright green eyeshadow, for perfectly good reasons. If you have reddish skin, the last thing you ought to be doing is splashing the complementary colour of  red all over your face. I know it works if you use it as a cover up, but this is different.

It would be impertinent not to mention at this point an incident that happened when I was a teenager under the influence of magic mushrooms (sorry Mum). I’d been laughing so much at nothing much (tall people, fences, people of a normal height who somehow appeared very tall, etc) that I’d gone very flushed. I looked at my face in the pub mirror and saw red, red, red. At home I had one of those green colour-corrective primers to cover up my spots but I’d forgotten it that night, so i took out my Collection 2000 eyeshadow palette and spread my whole face with pearlised green powder, thinking it’d do the same job.  My best mate then came into the loo and found me standing there gazing at the mirror with a full-on, glinting layer of glittery green all over my face. Infinite hilarity ensued – so much so that the next woman to walk into the bathroom thought I was crying hysterically in distress and that my friend was bent over comforting me. She fussed over for us for god knows how long before realising the sad truth of our state. We later spotted a stray piece of toilet roll on a doorframe, which caused another hour or so of unbridled hysteria, but that’s another thrilling story for another thrilling post. All in all the point is this: I don’t tend to use pearly green eyeshadow much anymore.

Here are the pics:

 

Redhead

Redhead

And my greasy offering for this week:
Blackheads

Blackheads

Glamorous stuff. Gawd I need some decent concealer.
After all this tramatic photography I needed a good meal, as I’m sure you can imagine. I’d spent all day in the pub with my friends so I invited them back to sample the delights of Hugh’s marinade recipes. But I was hungry and drunk, and you know how it goes. What start off as the best marinating intentions soon turn into the irresistible compulsion to fry whatever it is you’re supposed to be marinating as quickly as is humanly possible and shovel it down the gullet. So that’s what I did. I served up some seafood mix first (couldn’t get fresh squid) and as I fried the second course (same ‘marinade’ but used to fry chicken) i could hear a lot of coughing coming from the other room. I say coughing, I mean choking, followed by inadequately stifled giggling and the sort of stage silences that come in between whispers. Instead of using a couple of chillies (too drunk to see them in the shop) I used half a tube of that fresh crushed chilli stuff and i think it nearly killed most of my guests. Being an accommodating host, I put less in the chicken, and people seemed to like it. In fact they seemed to like the seafood too. I suppose it was a sort of poor man’s sauna in a way.
I was a little too inebriated to remember to photograph the seafood to match Hugh’s picture, so took a photo of the chicken instead. It looks not completely dissimilar.
Marinated squid

Marinated squid

Fried chicken

Fried chicken

This is another vaguely Herschell Gordon Lewis-looking photo but again, the food was really tasty.
Conclusions:
  • Where do I even start today? First, denim companies need to design jeans for women who are bigger than a 32in waist. Evans and all that novelty fat-people’s clothes stuff just doesn’t do – it needs to be normal clothes in bigger sizes. Or else.
  • Cloth-ears has great customer service. Hilfiger ought to take a leaf out of that book and throw away its copy of Thin in A Fortnight or whatever it reads at the moment.
  • Green eyeshadow gets the thumbs down, just like blue eyeshadow did.
  • Marinating stuff may be great, but almost as great and much quicker is simply frying food in the marinade.
  • The quicker this swimwear phase is over, the better – and may it never return.

Saturday 25 July

Posted in Fashion, Interiors, Make-up, Recipes by guardiangirl on July 27, 2009

The first task of the day, after the paper had been bought and magazine scanned for potential ridiculousness, was to get dressed in a nasty approximation of a very feminine look. I don’t own much pastel stuff because I ain’t much of a pastel kind of a girl, plus I’m beginning to realise that a lot of the things in my wardobe are horrible clothes I bought at least nine years ago. I am only realising this now because I have to find the most similar garment to the one in the picture each day. Which leads to me sitting on my bed with a long face thinking ‘well i suppose the closest thing I have to that shirt really is the cream bell-sleeved top I bought for Beltain camp 2001 back when I was a druid,’ etc.  Witness saturday’s heinous combination, which left me looking like a frightened sixth former in 1997, suddenly liberated from the dictates of school uniform and clueless as to how to use this new-found power. Also I have no furniture in my flat that’s the right height to balance my camera on, so i had to cut my legs off at the ankles (in the photo, that is).

Frills and spills

Frills and spills

 

Ills and spills

Ills and spills

 

Gawd, I can’t look at that any more. Scroll down, scroll down I beseech you! Noweth!

As if the pastel clothes weren’t enough, I also had to put pink eyeshadow on my face. I wasn’t impressed. The lack of eyeliner combined with my blunt fringe meant my eyes looked like currants stuck on the front of a gingerbread man.

I also had to wear lipgloss, which is very rare for me as I think it’s too Vicky Beckham c. Spice Girls era. Luckily I used to work on a duty-free trade magazine, during which time I got basically as many free cosmetics as I wanted (I know! I miss it so much…) so I have a drawer full of all kinds of unlikely make-up items, all of which are about three years old and smell of paraffin, but ne’ermind. Make do and mend.

The trick of brushing lips with a toothbrush is one I know well thanks to Just Seventeen in 1994 and it does work momentarily, but I’d still rather a good slick of red lipstick.

Anyway here’s the result of my efforts this week:

 

Summer pink

Summer pink

 

Summer hink

Summer hink

 

Thanks go out to Jonny, the latest graphic desinger chum to offer his skills in photo-fouring (but also the man who commented on my huge shoulders [please see previous post as I can’t be bothered to link to it – must dash to Carphone Warehouse {see any previous post}], so it all evens out in the end).

For dinner I was supposed to cook newspaper-wrapped bream. However I spent all day trying to get my tiny flat to look like a Guardian interiors shoot, which was no small feat as you will soon see, so I missed the shops and ended up shovelling down a tuna and pasta salad and taking a bottle of wine to a mate’s house instead. I tried to get a bottle of Australian riesling but whatever, I couldn’t see any, it was only Tesco Metro, I wanted to actually see my friends at some point, so I just got some cheap Pinot Grigio and headed off to dance to early ’90s club classics with my chums instead. So much more fun than baking fish in newspapers . Maybe Hugh could do a playlist one week.

So perhaps the most amusing thing I did on  saturday was trying to make my flat look like a chic, utilitarin Antwerp loft apartment. My flat doesn’t even have an official front door, so I have to let my friends in through a locked iron gate leading to a rat-infested concrete alleyway. It has no heating. It is decorated in mint-green woodchip and the carpets are royal red with a rank gold print. The electrics are so dodgy you have to choose between cooking dinner and being able to see while you cook dinner, or else there is a burning smell and the trip switch goes. My post is collected for me by a Turkish men’s club. The laminate-covered corridor is full of cockroaches and resembles something out of a David Lynch film if David Lynch set his films in Hackney and had no sense of mystery, only desolation. So whenever I look at the aspirational interior design pieces in Weekend magazine I feel a sense of wry amusement mixed with a strong pang of wanting, wanting, wanting that life. Please see below my tragic attempt at achieving that life. At least I have a home, and it’s dry, and it has a lock, and I have my own washing machine. And it only costs me seven-eighths of my salary each month to live there.

I’ll just post the pictures next to one another and you can see what I mean. I think no droll commentary is required.

Sofa

Mylounge

 

Gkitchen

Mykitchen

Gsparebed

MySPareBed

Gtaps

Mytaps

Gwardrobe

Mywardrobe

Conclusion:

  • There are too many tears cascading down my cheeks for me to see the keyboard, let alone draw conclusions.

Two cheated recipes and a cheated make-up look

Posted in Make-up, Recipes by guardiangirl on July 22, 2009

Another condensed post containing some rather poor attempts at following the Guardian step-by-step.

First of all, the recipe I was supposed to cook for my friends the night after returning from a festival, after a long day at work and not much sleep. As you can imagine, popping to the butcher to buy the ingredients for slow-cooked pork cheeks, crushed Jersey Royals, broad beans & grain mustard sauce wasn’t top of my agenda. However I did try to cobble together something resembling the intended dish.

I wasn’t too fussed about the prospect of buying a pig’s head, what with animal slaughter having been a fairly prominent theme throughout my life. It also would have been highly entertaining to turn up to my friends’ beautifully neat and stylish home brandishing the thing with a murderous look in my eye. I once returned home swinging a floral handbag from which I produced an enormous calf’s tongue, much to the horror of my boyfriend at the time. It still had a big, tough root thing attached and I had to boil it, then peel off the fractal-looking tastebuds, which made a loud rasping sound. We feasted on it for days and quite enjoyed it, although the gristly bits were slightly sickening. Anyway, I digress very far from the path of pig cheeks. As I keep pointing out, I’d been away for the weekend and had to make do with popping to the Tesco Metro near my friends’ home. They had run out of or didn’t stock: pork of any kind but chops, onions, carrots, leeks, thyme, broad beans and mint. What a rubbish shop. Still, they had wine, so I bought some of that, lamely improvised the other ingredients and went round to see Adam and Thomas. What we ended up with was sausages with mashed potato and butter beans. It ain’t pork cheeks, is it. Tasty though.

Slow-cooked pork cheeks, crushed Jersey Royals, broad beans & grain mustard sauce

Slow-cooked pork cheeks, crushed Jersey Royals, broad beans & grain mustard sauce

 

Let's call a spade a spade: sausages and mash

Let's call a spade a spade: sausages and mash

 

Last night I stayed late at work and was then supposed to return home to make Cotswold mess, which involved dissolving gelatine and piping mousse among other incomprehensible tasks. I couldn’t wait three hours for meringue to cook or I’d be sugar rushing at bedtime, I have no piping bag (who does anyway?) and I frankly just could not be bothered to tackle this behemoth of a dessert. Emily Watkins obviously enjoys a faff but, as has already been established, I really don’t. I bought a packet of meringue nests, a Rowntree ready-made jelly and an Onken mousse, plus a punnet of raspberries, and arranged some of these ingredients in two glasses  to take the photo. Then I emptied it all into a trough and ate it up before me evening bath. Lovely. By the time I was slumbering happily between the sheets, Ms Watson would still have been greasing her piping bag. I think we all know who the winner is in this situation.

Cotswold mess

Cotswold mess

 

Mess

Mess

 

As usual, apologies for the low-rent photography. My logic was: if I don’t have time to make meringue, why waste precious moments turning the flash off?

My final cheat to confess to so far this week was with Lauren Luke’s steel blue eyes look. I tried it out at the festival, but I hadn’t actually taken my blue eyeshadow with me. I know, I know, I’m impatient is all. I did everything else she said and it looked much nicer with black eyeshadow anyway. Trust me, I tried the blue one when I got home and I didn’t even look like I was off to an Abba party or anything. I just looked like that girl at school who’s two sandwiches short of a picnic, cuts her own fringe and is slightly sexually provocative.

Steel blue eyes

Steel blue eyes

 

Steely glance

Steely glance

 

Conclusions:

  • Those recipes left me looking forward to trying Rosie Sykes’ dishes instead. Simpler, tastier looking, much less effort
  • Braised pig cheeks are probably delicious, but why bother when you could fry a packet of sausages? The average chipolata probably contains plenty of pig cheek anyway, mashed in with the trotters and snouts and eyeballs and abattoir floor-scurf
  • Arranging pre-bought mousse, meringue and jelly into glasses and laying them out all nice is pretty fun as cooking goes, although my lack of kitchen curtain and the close proximity of my neighbour made me feel a little vulnerable. Imagine the sadness you’d feel if you saw the girl next door carefully arranging two little raspberry-topped puddings on a plate, laying two spoons next to them, taking a photo and then eating both alone. And then, even sadder,  imagine if that girl was you
  • Blue eyeshadow is a bad invention

Get the look: Lauren Luke discovers her inner Dita von Teese

Posted in Make-up by guardiangirl on July 13, 2009

Well it’s all very well having an inner Dita von Teese, isn’t it.

This make-up look involves frosted eye primer and brow wax. I can’t help but feel that anyone who has these items in their make-up bag doesn’t need to be told how to put red lipstick and black eyeliner on. The beauty spot was a bit of a revelation though. In the past this has been strictly fancy dress territory for me but I gave it a go and drew over my natural beauty spot with an eye pencil. It actually looked kind of foxy and provides an ingenious distraction from acne, I discovered. You’d think it’d just look like too many dots on one face, but not so. Brightest star in the sky and all that.

Dita von Teese

Dita von Teese

 

Deep vein Thrombosis

Deep vein Thrombosis

Conclusions:

  • Less of a conclusion, more of question raised – do people really own frosted eye primer and brow wax?
  • Beauty spots rule OK

‘Beautiful’ bronzing

Posted in Make-up by guardiangirl on July 8, 2009

My first post and I am already bringing shame upon myself. It’s my 7am attempt at Lauren Luke’s ‘beautiful bronzing’ look. A previous letter to the magazine complained that Lauren looked exactly the same in all four stages of her tutorial, which I fear is the case for me here. Step 1: tired and pasty. Step 2: tired and pasty. Step 3: tired and pasty. Step 4: tired and pasty. Writing that has made me hungry for a cornish pasty.

Here’s the look I was aiming for, followed by what I achieved in my bathroom at home:

Admittedly I had neither expert lighting, expert photography nor expert equipment at my disposal, but nonetheless this is a bad result. I ended up adding mascara and pink blusher at the end because I didn’t want to leave the house looking like a maggot.

Conclusions:

  • Lauren Luke is instantly shaping up to be a harder act to follow, portrait-wise, than I had imagined
  • I ought to invest in a set of make-up brushes
  • A full face of beige make-up is not for everyone