Guardian Girl

Blazers #1

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on February 2, 2010

Blazers I can do but the rest of the garments in this shoot are totally under-represented in my wardrobe. I’m going to be in the same pair of black jeans all week because my other trouser options keep falling apart.

I need the Measure to recommend me some decent strides, please. Preferably ones that won’t make me look too much like Sandi Toksvig.

What?

What?

Clot

Clot

Photographer Cari just emailed to congratulate me on my improved posing skills after seeing yesterday’s effort but I think she might retract her blandishments on seeing the above.

The old broken foot is still preventing me from wearing heels and I’m getting mighty fed up with it now. The growing-out fringe continues to produce curtains. When oh when will it be long enough to tuck behind me lug’oles?

Food update: last night I went home alone and cooked chorizo carbonara for 10. I don’t know what to say about it. A surreal evening spent hovering over a vast cauldron of calories feeling very much like I was doing the wrong thing, mostly because I have yet to work out what I’m going to do with it all. It’s so filling I could only eat one bowl, although I might possibly have revisited the vat on my way for a night-time wee.

I have a recently developed a pretty embarrassing habit of listening to new-age sound effects as I drift off to sleep. Last night’s was supposed to be a campfire crackling with a few crickets chirping nearby or something. But all I could hear was frying chorizo, haunting me with its oily fumes. I had to switch over to “medium cicadas with owl near creek”.

Measure update: yesterday I pulled my socks up and got going on the kitchen linens front. I am soon to be the proud owner of a Chanel-style John Lewis oven glove. I already have two very nice oven gloves and could really have done with the apron but the Labour and Wait website is out of stock. Blooming Guardian readers have sucked them dry it would seem. What a shame. The best thing about online shopping is that you often get to send yourself a free gift card with a personalised message. If you enjoy, as I do, fabricating long and convoluted jokes purely for your own amusement, I recommend this.

As for some of the other items on this week’s list, I’ve been a mild Yeasayer fan for several years now so no action was required on that front. Tanlines provided the soundtrack for Saturday night’s bollito misto feast and got the thumbs up from Phoebe and I. I didn’t buy any though – if I’m going to spend money on music I’m going to go and buy a record, and I feel a bit embarrassed about going up to the counter with an album that’s in the Guardian that week. Is that ridiculous? Coming from a girl who walks around with a stuffed toy pinned to her shoulder because it was in the Guardian that week, probably.

Vocab update: thanks to Abby for teaching me the word ‘blandishments’ when we were 15. I knew it’d come in useful one day.

Conclusions:

  • Nothing left to conclude.

This week’s wrap-up

Posted in Fashion, Interiors, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on January 29, 2010

Today’s outfit isn’t way off the mark, and Flavie and I even ventured out of the toilet into the office reception area for the shoot. The result is that the photo looks less like army night footage this time, although given the theme of the fashion it might have been appropriate to keep things grainy.

Look sharp

Look sharp

Be blunt

Be blunt

I did get my ponytail on the wrong side and tilt my head in the opposite direction from the model’s, but I have to honour tradition.

On the subject of this week’s Measure, the less said the better. What with a best mate’s 30th, the end of the January pay period, lunch breaks filled with blog writing and outfit capturing, and evenings spent over the stove, I somehow didn’t find the time to put my name on the Anya Hindmarch for Barbour waiting list (much as I would love to), or spend hundreds of pounds on a designer bag. I’ve been rubbish. I now have a bit of cash in the bank, a shopping trip planned and several hours earmarked for a home restyle over the weekend, so I hope to make restitution for my indolence forthwith. Or, in other words, get up off my rump and try harder.

As regards This Column Will Change Your Life, I couldn’t let the week end without making reference to the fact that it might have been aimed directly at me this issue. Why don’t they teach you how to make simple decisions in primary school? If only they did, Britain wouldn’t keep producing chowderheaded buffoons who can’t decide what to have for dinner without the direction of a Saturday newspaper supplement.

I put Oliver Burkeman’s three models for decision making into practice this week and found them extremely useful in every situation, especially choosing which song to listen to next. These rules will stay with me, and might actually change my life for the better.  Get this man writing the national curriculum (caps?).

Conclusion:

  • First week over and I’m a scone-filled, noodle-loving, quiff-sporting picture of happiness. Not partaking in the Measure shopping list, or putting any pressure on myself to do so, has been good but a bit cheaty given the nature of the experiment.
  • But one serious complaint: my clothes still smell of kippers.

Eggs, flour, crutches

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Interiors, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on November 23, 2009

A report on the end of last week, shortish on words and longish on pictures.

First, a miraculously tasty and mechanically successful two-course dinner that also provided Liv and I with a Eurostar picnic on Friday: Yotam’s delicious and not that tricky Crespéou omelette mountain followed by Dan Lepard’s bananarama tropicana cake, which was alive-tasting (not in a cannibalistic way), like a lardy version of a piña colada only less saccharine. Mine was a little uncooked in the middle and overcooked – perhaps even burnt – on the top, which I think means I need to get more involved with foil.

Crespeou

Crespeou

Crasspeou

Crasspeou

Tropicana banana cake

Tropicana banana cake

Botty-rama banana cake

Botty-rama banana cake (I despair of this caption as much as anyone, yet can't stop finding the word 'botty' funny)

Next: finally a fashion photo that reveals my new, cutting-edge space boot:

A walk on the wild side

A walk on the wild side

A limp on the mild side

A limp on the mild side

As I traversed Antwerp in this get-up, Liv consistently got the hysterics about how small my other foot looked compared to the hopalong foot. It made me know how the dog feels when the humans laugh at its ear, which has turned itself inside out.

And finally: the results of a tired, late-night interiors styling session. Check out my cosy open fireplace in particular.

Glass extension

Glass extension

Arse extension

Arse extension

Black interior

Black interior

Slack, inferior

Slack, inferior

Raising eyebrows

Raising eyebrows

Erasing eyebrows

Erasing eyebrows

Now a few boring sentences I feel obliged to write for the sake of structural consistency. I wouldn’t bother to read them if I were you.

This week’s first impressions are affected by two significant factors.

1) I was in Antwerp having a wonderful time all weekend so I didn’t buy the paper – Adam is saving me a copy and I checked it out online on Monday instead.

2) I have very little cash this week so I suspect that shipping actual tons of dried fruit and brandy into my flat to bake stuffy Christmas foods that nobody much likes anyway will be low on my agenda, as will buying £250 bottles of men’s fragrance. I’d like to try to make at least one xmas treat as it’s nice to turn up bearing foodie gifts for one’s family and take some of the culinary strain off the hosts, but we’ll have to see how practical it turns out to be this week. I wonder how many Guardian readers pulled their fingers out on Sunday and actually baked xmas cakes.

I notice that the Measure sends mulled wine and minced pies up the list this week so perhaps I’ll be more likely to get in some shopmade delights and eat them instead. Liv is taking me and my busted foot shopping at Tesco’s in her little blue van tonight so I’ll ask her hallowed advice on the matter.

The fashion spread on Hitchcock heroines is one of my favourite looks and I’d usually be in my element, but I imagine the spaceboot will undermine most of the glamour of a pencil skirt.

Conclusions:

  • I love Yotam, I do.
  • Cakes are just as good as they were last time I tried them.
  • Fashion is hard enough to achieve with an average paycheck and an average girth, but just you try adding a leg brace and crutches to the equation.
  • While we’re here, it’s amazing how many people stare at you when you’re in this condition, and even more amazing how many burst into laughter directly afterwards. You get used to it pretty quick. I have of course swiped at a few select people with my crutches in response, which is something I learned in an assertiveness workshop.
  • Interiors schminteriors. ‘Tis is the season of just trying to keep warm.

A farl cry from Hugh’s recipe

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on November 19, 2009

I’m getting well into the warm fracture booty now but it doesn’t half take ages to get everywhere. Last night I damn near broke my neck and wasted years of my life transporting flour and potatoes to Phoebe’s house for a wee dinner party with Nin and Liv. Not that it was a waste of time to go – it was lovely. I’m just used to racing everywhere in a huff rather than taking time to admire the empty fried chicken boxes and soggening leaf mulch of London’s streets.

I cooked us all a fry-up, which was supposed to incorporate Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s potato farls but ended up starring gluey mash instead.  The bonus was that mashed potato is bigged up in the Measure this week, so I was inadvertently succeeding at one of this week’s to-dos while failing at another.

I don’t know if I mixed in too little flour or what but hell, I think mash goes with pretty well anything and I was more than delighted to eat it with fried eggs, sausages, bacon, beans and toast.

I forgot to ask the girls to take my photo before I was dropped home by kind Phoebe and there was no Guardian farl snap for the day anyway, so this post is sadly unillustrated. Therefore I’m going to keep it short and sweet.

Tomorrow you can expect: booty (not that kind), omelette skyscraper, cake and possibly a home improvement feature ­– but let’s not set our goals too high. I have to do a mammoth cook tonight to get my tasks done before I head to Antwerp tomorrow.

Conclusions:

  • Consistency is key but when it comes to fry-ups you just have to be grateful for what you’ve got.
  • There’s arguably little point in walking around in an unflattering outfit all day in the name of the blog if I then forget to photograph it, but I can tell you it’s still quite pleasant being told what to wear of a morning. I missed that during my recent break and pretty much went around in little black dresses every day. It was boring.

Sunday

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on October 12, 2009

Today was a day of great expectations.

I recruited my most fashion-savvy-yet-honest homosexual chum and off we skipped, arms linked fabulously, to buy lots of Measure stuff. Here follows a breakdown of successes and failures succeeded by a heinous photo of me looking like I’m taking a crap in the woods.

Gold cuff This was achieved with Adam’s help, as French Connection had one I thought relatively nice, and he gets 50% off thanks to designing for Nicole Farhi, which is part of the same group. He thought the cuff was revolting initially but came around in the end. However he put the kiboshes on a gypsy-ish necklace I wanted to buy on account of its having some turquoise bits hanging off it. He said I looked like a middle-aged administrator in it. So?

Turquoise jewellery However I did find a fairly nice pair of heart-shaped turquoise (-coloured) earrings that look like something you might find on a narrowboat, only I found them in Accessorize. As I find some of my dearest friends on narrowboats, this has positive associations for me. When I say find, I mean they are there getting on with their lives, not that I scour narrowboats for new friends, which I don’t have the spare time to do.

A dress with a “rush of gold sparkle” Adam and I decided they meant one with a subtle gold glitter or thread spun through it, and I tried on several such garments in H&M (Adam’s conclusion: “That sleeve doesn’t do much for you, darling-heart.”) However I’ve sworn off high-street clothes wherever possible thanks to Nin and Phoebe’s reality check, so we headed to Beyond Retro where I found a dress so lovely that Ad and I decided to reinterpret the rules – it has a gold ruffle and cuffs rather than a “rush of sparkle” but hey, it looked nice. It even – dare I say this – had a faint air of the Pamela Ewing about it. I’m going to wear it for my 30th, and if I don’t get compared to Pamela every ten minutes I’ll have a tizzy fit.

’90s Madonna No conical bra-tops on the high street as yet but I allowed myself to buy Immaculate Collection on vinyl even though strictly that’s ’80s Madonna. I think it was released in 1990, just scraping into being Measure approved. Kind of. I just wanted the record really.

Mienna boots I was quite up for these but the moment Adam clapped eyes on them he declared them the most repugnant thing he’d seen in a long while, stamped his desert boot on the floor and banned me from even trying them on. Since I was fully expecting to look more overfed heiress than Twiggy chic in them, I went along with his judgement and with an enormous sigh of relief saved myself £140 into the bargain. How the Guardian gets off putting “only” in front of £140 during a sentence about boots is anybody’s guess anyway. 

Gap crombie Good job Ads was with me or I wouldn’t have known what a crombie was. I mean, I knew it was a coat but I couldn’t have been sure exactly what style. We found the coat in question and it’s a nice garment, thick and warm and relatively well cut. The problem is it made me look like Little Miss Whatever High Street. Very boring. Not inordinately flattering to my shape, although not ugly either. A darker grey tends to suit me better, while this one is a pale felty-marl-pebbly shade. All in all it looked fine but I couldn’t bring myself to spend £98 on it. It really would have been a waste of cash I can’t afford to spend. I would shell out that amount pretty happily if I put it on and thought “yehhh” rather than “erhhmmmm”.

Barrettes As Adam pointed out, I think Katie Grand and chums are thinking of a different breed of barrettes from those found lurking on the lower racks of Boots’ haircare section/Accessorize. A very poor selection to be seen, all of which would have made me look rather First Violin, even with messy locks. I kept my money in my purse and decided to wait for them to hit Topshop instead.

I decided I ought to check out what’s going on in the head of this Katie Grand and bought a copy of Love, the magazine she edits, which WHSmith was doing a great job of hiding in some irrelevant place in the shop. I would have got it from a newsagent but I needed to pay by card. I read it later that night in the bath and got a bit spluttery about it. What is Pixie Geldof doing being treated like style royalty? Tavi on the other hand – what a girl. Apparently I’m not allowed to write good things about her without her permission and I’ve never read her blog properly but on the strength of that interview alone – top marks.

GQ Style I looked around but could only find GQ Plain. I didn’t like it much – I read it in the bath later too. It’s exactly the same as Vogue but with more erotic photos of men and slightly more openly misogynistic copy.

Aztecs at the British Museum I went along on my own having been dropped off by Ads with tears in my eyes. It was an interesting exhibition in the main and the turquoise mosaic masks were really incredible, but overall too much grey stone and too much writing on plaques obscured by crowds. One thing stood out: in the era of Moctezuma the Nahuatl word for gold meant “excrement of the gods”. I’ll remember this next time I need to refer to my new Godshit cuff. For £12 a think the British Museum could have pumped some interesting smells into the exhibition, or put a few fairground rides in, even if only slow, small ones. The shop was a bit lame too, apart from a range of sequinned decorations I had my eye on – the mask and the peacock were ace but I can’t see them in the online shop – can you?

That evening I rejected making potted mackerel in favour of hot buttered rolls with ready-smoked mackerel. The decision was a result of missing the Sunday supermarkets and being at the back of the queue when the Lord was doling out motivation to pot fish. I was at the back of all the most important queues, I tell you.

I swapped my Dallas boxset with Adam and Thomas’ DVDs of Absolutely Fabulous series 1 and 2, Ring of Bright Water and last year’s Criminal Justice, the first episode of which I watched that evening with my mackerelly rolls. Never have I seen such a frustrating, tense, brilliant thing. I was clutching on to this giant cushion thing I have all the way through. I have to stop writing about it though or I’ll go on for even more years.

Today’s outfit: I put it on for ten minutes to get the snap. I wore something totally different into town. There’s no need to ask why. An abomination:

Bare

Bare

Mare

Mare

 

Conclusions:

  • French Connection has some pretty nice jewellery.
  • No one has nice barrettes yet.
  • GQ is kind of  lame.
  • Love is a bit better.
  • Vintage dresses are much better.
  • I wish I’d spotted Jonathan Ross at the BM. Adam called having just seen him go in wearing a pair of rubber waders. Drat.
  • What’s with H&M sizing anyway? A size 12 dress fitted me perfectly yet a different size 16 clung to me like a terrible black contraceptive device.
  • Faith boots are controversial.
  • I will pot cheese, fair enough, I will. Manana.

Success/failure

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on October 9, 2009

This week has involved a certain degree of underachievement on the Guardian-worthiness front, which is often something of a relief to me as it reminds me I’m still aliiiive, not just an empty vessel into which the Guardian is poured each week. I wouldn’t want to take things too far and become a tabbouleh-eating version of Frankenstein’s monster, wheeling around the aisles of Whole Foods taking out young mums with my shoulder pads and scattering jewels in my eucalyptus-scented wake. Actually, now I get to talking about it that might be exactly what I want to become.

Tomorrow I will buy the Guardian and get back into the routine in a more disciplined fashion for the foreseeable future. In the meantime please find below a summary of the latter half of this week’s various successes and failures.

Success 1: Yotam Ottolenghi’s ricotta tart.

It’s another pie but it tasted damn, damn fine. It was possibly my favourite recipe of the whole experiment thus far. I cheated with pre-rolled pastry – an innovation of whose existence I was woefully unaware until I finally discovered a whole section of Sainsbury’s next to the butter where all the pastry has been kept for all these years. Ready-made pastry gets my full approval but the pre-rolled stuff is a bit silly – it broke off in unsatisfying strips like when you got new plasticine as a kid in those stuck-together sticks, and they are annoyingly difficult to squidge. I always squidge pastry into shape in the end anyway, even if I roll it first.

Back to the point: this is a great tart and you ought to bake it.

As usual my cooking equipment is limited to one rectangular baking tin in which I cook damn near everything.

Ricotta tart

Ricotta tart

 

Ricotta blart

Ricotta blart

I’m afraid it looks slightly unsavoury as the tin was too big and therefore the sundried tomato paste too scant to give good coverage.

Success 2: Friday’s outfit/pose

I’m not saying I look great today – in fact I feel a bit of a doofus in all my bulky swathes of black. But you gotta admit I got it a bit closer to the original template than I usually manage.

PS I discovered it’s OK to republish photos as long as it’s for the purposes of review, comment or criticism, which I believe is what I’m doing here.

Fur

Fur

 

Errr...

Errr...

Failure 1: Dan Lepard’s tapenade dinner rolls

They look delicious (without the anchovy, obviously) but I just couldn’t fit these into my life this week. I know they’re called dinner rolls but they don’t quite fit with my notion of dinner. I suppose I could’ve had them with some nice soup or stew or meat and a salad, or cheese, or anything really. In any case I didn’t bake them, sorry. I went out for fish and chips instead. Confession over.

Failure 2: pretty much the whole Measure

I wasn’t too sure what any of it meant this week, beyond the words ‘eucalyptus’, ‘Madonna and Janet Jackson’, ‘Plum Sykes’ and ‘scrunchies’.

I did a bit of research on the internet and discovered that most of it required little action to be taken.

I missed Streetcar at the Donmar, Small Island doesn’t appear to be on yet and my eyebrows won’t easily look like Ruth Wilson’s.

The homes mentioned in the decor porn paragraph turn out to be very lovely and very unrealistic, hence use of the word ‘porn’. I clicked on, I clicked off, I got on with something more relevant. Go figure.

Baptiste Giabiconi turns out to be a very handsome fellow indeed but I’ll leave him to Karl.

Andrew Castle is a newsreader and I don’t have a telly.

This week’s grand fail, however, was my attempt to drink a peppermint tea martini at the May Fair Hotel.

This isn’t just a joke you know – this is my life – and I really do these things. Last night I arranged to meet two good friends, Adam and Katy, outside the Royal Academy, and we walked along to the bar together. I’d never been before and I’m probably never going back. There was no peppermint tea martini on the menu – I suspect this was  a fashion week special – and the place was heaving with the types of people I have a dangerous tendency to secretly think of as  ‘them’. I am not ‘them’, that’s why I never have rich boyfriends or PR jobs. I don’t like their loud voices, their hair or their jackets, and I don’t very much like their conversations either. We left and went round to a cheapish boozer around the corner for a mulled cider and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

Success 3: by failing so much, I saved a lot of money

This week I managed to get away with spending a whole little of money. I went out for fish and chips, I topped up my oyster and phone, and I bought a few dinner ingredients ( no more than £50-worth) and some stuff that smelt of eucalyptus and wasn’t tested on animals. So if tomorrow’s magazine demands that I buy rivers of pearls and lakes of caviar, all my pocket money will be lying in wait.

Conclusions:

  • The further I veer from the Guardian ideal, the cheaper life is.
  • The further I veer from the Guardian ideal, the more friends I see.
  • Tomorrow morning I will buy the Guardian and copy everything it says again.

A pepper or two

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on September 30, 2009

Last night Adam and Thomas came over for dinner and I cooked ALL of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s aubergine/pepper/chilli suggestions in a sort of nightshade-family feast. Most of them were a bit disappointing.

The baked aubergine/yoghurt/coriander dip with pitta was probably the best bit, and it’s translated into lunch the next day better than the pepper/tomato/scrambled egg dish, which was nice, but is a bit squeam-making to eat cold. The deepfried chillies were downright dangerous as one of them exploded in the pan, flying through the air and splattering my entire kitchen (if you could call it a kitchen, and if you could call it ‘entire’) with burning olive oil. Good job there were no newborns around. The battered aubergine and pepper slices were pretty much disastrous – soggy and mostly tasteless – but then I’ve never been much good at this type of battery. The stuffed pepper with beef and dill was bland in itself but very nice combined with the ultra-tasty pine nut, spinach and goats cheese one.

All in all aubergines and peppers aren’t my favourite veggies anyway and I remain unconvinced. I’m looking forward to trying the red lentil and coconut soup tomorrow for a bit of flavour.

Oufitwise I feel pretty OK in what I’m wearing today but the photo tells a different story (Captain Pugwash and the Gender Reassignment Therapy).

The return of my lovely silk FARHI by Nicole Farhi still fails to show it in a positive light. One day you’ll see its greatness.

This isn’t a good angle for me really. I’m crossing my fingers that the Guardian does a CCTV-inspired, shot-from-above fashion story soon. I’m getting sick of the sight of my underchin.

In style

In style

 

On stile

On stile

 

My new day’s resolution for tomorrow is to really get some dynamism into the pose. Watch this space.

In other news, I’ve been umming and ahhing a lot over one of the Measure entries this week – the Shaun Leane jewellery. I checked out astleyclarke.com and I really love the collection – except the one piece I could vaguely afford, which is the cherry blossom pendant. The rest of it is all vintage-looking and beautiful and reminds me of a Flower Fairies drawing, which I’ve always had a residual young-girl love for, but that single cheaper pendant looks more Keepers. I’ve decided not to part with my cash. Keepers always seemed to cause bad blood anyway. (If you picked up on them, please excuse the feminine hygiene implications of that sentence – it wasn’t what I meant.)

Resurrection

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on September 28, 2009

When I started this blog I decided to pretty much keep the whole thing quiet, bar telling a few friends who helped me take photos or directly asked me what the hell I was doing after walking in on me photographing myself in a bikini with a walking stick between my thighs. Rather than fabricating some phoney story about Hannibal Lecter for the post-gendered/neo-hiking era (I don’t know at all what I mean by this but it sounds like a joke, which is half the battle)  I told them what I was doing and gradually developed a small but loyal following of regular readers with whom I enjoyed sharing my adventures in Guardianland. A few other people happened upon it while searching for Dan Lepard recipes (poor souls didn’t get much help here), Andy Pandy (again, sorry folks) and female humiliation (probably not what they had in mind) .  Some of them kept coming back, and I decided the rest of the world could do without seeing it really.

But a few weeks after I decided to jack the whole thing in I posted the link on Facebook, since it was sitting there all finished with, which then led to something to do with Twitter and something to do with Stumbleupon and some other things I can’t quite get a grip on, which then led to bemusing amounts of people actually asking me not to give it up, while on their knees with tears on their faces. I have always felt it was my calling in life to sacrifice my personal dignity, large amounts of cash, my physical health and all my spare time in order to provide mild entertainment to friends and acquaintances. So it is with a heavy heart, a light wallet and an ambivalent smile that I’m resurrecting Guardian Girl.

My first post back should really be an extra special one, but it isn’t. It’s not even spectacularly unsuccessful. Just an unflattering photo of me in a checked shirt and a fairly insipid but I suppose satisfying rice and meat dish.

On Saturday morning I went off to buy the paper, accompanied by the slightly jaded cousin of my old sense of trepidation.

I sat on a bench and cracked open a can of Special Brew followed by Weekend.

I thought:

Food: same old, same old.

Lauren Luke: Christ alive, no offence to her but she looks like a burns victim this week. Bronzing is supposed to be SAFE.

The interior design bit: hilarious for reasons I’ll elaborate on later.

Fashion: more shirts and trousers.

Not much had changed while I was away – except that they’ve started putting some of their fashion pictures online! Hooray! This makes life much easier as you can see in high-def the look I was aiming for. Maybe I’ll even be able to stop taking rubbish-quality photos of the magazine pages soon.

The Measure was more interesting. I instantly clocked that I wouldn’t be able to afford anything by Dries van Noten but that Topshop was on the list too. Astley Clark jewellery – possible. The Reiss belt is lovely, and in fact I packed myself off to Angel that very day and bought me one, which cost an eye-watering 60-odd quid and made me feel extremely guilty. It’s not that lovely after all – it looks a bit Dorothy Perkins when you combine it with most of my other clothes. That 1971 collection is very nice, a bit Dallasy and a bit Suzi Quatroey, but when I put that sort of jangling stuff on I just look like I’ve been doing guilty trolley dashes down Primark again (which I usually have).

On Sunday it was time to face reality and get back into the cookery properly again, so I tackled Hugh’s first recipe of the week, which was something called Maqluba.

My actual-genius friend Jesse came to dine and ate the food happily but seemed relieved when she found out it was a Guardian recipe, as it was licence to come clean with the truth – that it “could do with a bit more salt”. I quite agreed, especially eating it cold the next day when this kind of dish is usually extra tasty. I perhaps should have used more than one stock cube. Also I chopped my herbs way too big again – bad gal. I forgot to cut them with scissors like a helpful commenter on this blog told me to do months ago.

Coming up soon is the first photographic evidence in a long while. Hold your breath.

First of all a little bonus (I wouldn’t get too excited): the old piccies that damaged the camel’s back last time around in August before The Break.

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

 

Completely fail to strike the correct pose

Completely fail to strike the correct pose

 This makes me wonder about my brain functioning. You can imagine what I’m like in an aerobics class – windmilling around in Studio 2 while the rest of the class is doing press-ups in Studio 1. I think I just forgot to look at the original picture properly. Or at all.

I have also uncovered the last recipe I cooked, weeks ago, to say thanks to the cat godfathers for looking after My George while I was in Hamburg living the unfettered life. It was a lime pie, one of Dan Lepard’s, and it tasted kind of nice but I burned the pastry so it went black and crumbly. Also I made the tragic error of purchasing these squidgy golden kiwi things – a different type from the usuals. I really don’t recommend them. Luckily I also had a packet of bog-standard kiwi fruit (how globalised consumerism has moved on since the rationing era) and they turned out to be enough to cover the pie with.

Kiwi tart

Kiwi tart

It's a start

It's a start

 

Right then, with that out of the way, here’s last night’s dinner (and today’s lunch):

Maqluba

Maqluba

 

Maq-loser

Maq-loser

 

Mine lacks lustre doesn’t it. I overcooked the tomatoes intentionally to try to destroy some of their innate evil. It sort of worked. I also ate most of the delicious toasted flaked almonds I was supposed to scatter on the top before serving, as they were just too tempting and too close to hand to ignore. Altogether it was a pretty drab dish for something that involved so much preparation and so many flavourings. Where did they all go? Stolen by the force of heat.

So on to the moment I’ve been dreading – today’s outfit. I’ll be frank with you; the past six weeks have not been kind to me. I have reappeared in cyberworld looking like a shadow of my former self, if shadows were larger, paler and messier than the original, which would make the world a very different place wouldn’t it? I do hope to return to form at some unspecified point in the future. In the meantime please bear with me. I am ‘everywoman’ after all, it’s all in me.

Get shirty

Get shirty

 

Get surgery

Get surgery

 That really is a hideous return to the project. Nevermind.

My head is going the wrong way because I still have very fragile connections between brain and body even after that half a chapter of The Alexander Technique for Dummies I read seven years ago. And despite photographer-Cari shouting: “Spread your legs wider!” repeatedly at me as I slumped on the sink outside a cubicle in which another colleague was trying to do a quiet wee, I preserved my dignity over getting the picture right. Obviously if I’d been wearing white silk bloomers there wouldn’t have been a problem.

On a happy note, please admire the snazzy bathroom in which I pose for these photos. We moved offices at work, so it’s bye-bye tampon machine and hello clean grouting from now on.

Conclusions:

  • Hugh slacked off a bit on taste this week. Also did you know the recipe called for holding a plate over the pan of boiling meat and rice and turning it upside down? Have you seen the level of success with which I am able to copy a very simple seated pose? Put the two together and you’ll see why I didn’t attempt this – I just used a spoon.
  • Topshop sold out of that amazing UFO dress ages ago, apparently.
  • Reiss does do wonderful accessories but who’d pay £60 for a belt? Oh.
  • Lauren Luke’s make-up gives her the appearance of a Marbella-dwelling ex-pat and makes me look like a sweaty grub.
  • It’s good to be back.

Sunday 16 August

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 17, 2009

Big disappointment today as I travelled all the way into town with my French Connection discount chum to buy the blouse in the Measure and found it wasn’t in the shops. What’s the blooming point telling us all how perfect the thing is if none of us can buy it? It looked like a great blouse as well, and French Connection is full of very nice stuff at the moment so it was tough not to cave in and get something. But I didn’t.

Adding to my aggravation was the fact that I was wearing a jumper on a hot day, a requirement of the between-summer-and-autumn fashion shoot this week. Here’s me dicking around in some more undergrowth. The scarf was courtesy of a friend who had it tied around her cat’s carry basket, along with a beautiful Lanvin one. Can you imagine how stylish you have to be to carry your cat around in a Lanvin-trimmed box?

Wheatfield

Wheatfield

 

Whigfield

Whigfield

 

Not really putting my back into it there – relying too heavily on the pastry belly for balance.

And talking of which – here’s dinner. It’s a pie!

I used up a load of vaguely mouldering fruit I had left over from when I couldn’t be bothered to make fruit leather last week. The addition of vinegar to the pastry threw me a bit and the dough stank of it, but the finished product was great. Excuse the blobs of creme fraiche. I forgot to think about aesthetics for a moment.

Apricot

Apricot

 

Money shot

Money shot

Never one to do things by halves (unless they are a pastry recipe), I have an ear infection in both ears at the moment and must leave this desk now to crawl into a dark corner and feel sorry for myself, possibly aided by tonight’s veggie soup recipe and last week’s Dallas boxset. At least the Guardian can look after the poorly among us, even if it can’t consider the skint.  

Conclusions:

  • Ear infection necessitates brevity.
  • Why Measure always so expensive/unavailable?
  • Vinegar in pastry not too rank.
  • Use up old fruit in pie.
  • Creme fraiche not pretty.
  • Nurofen.

Saturday 15 August

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 17, 2009

First impressions:

Fashion

  • My lack of a large selection of gilets in differing fabrics is going to set me back a bit here – and finding grass long enough to stand in rather than on, let alone a wheatfield, is going to be quite a challenge in Hackney.
  • Plus another bunch of menswear that, when recreated with my own wardrobe, just means jeans and a shirt every day.

The Measure

  • I popped over to the home of my internet-connected friends to Google most of this stuff in order to gauge how attainable/affordable it was going to be. The French Connection blouse looks lovely and is even more affordable given that I get 50% discount there thanks to my wunder-0-chum Adam, but aside from that every single thing (trainers, jewellery, bag) costs way more than I could afford, even given my determination to follow this experiment faithfully. Disappointing. I wonder how much the average Guardian reader earns?

Recipes

Brain and heart

  • I’ve mostly been avoiding cataloging the more emotional side of the advice in the Weekend magazine because I intend this blog to be more of an experiment about the do-ability of cooking, dressing and shopping as the Guardian suggests than about my psychological welfare each week. After all, there’s narcissism and then there’s narcissism. There’s some very good advice in this bumper happiness issue, by the looks of things, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to use my blog as a gratitude diary. What happens on tour stays on tour (in this scenario the tour is my internal life, and be happy it’s staying that way, since my internal life would probably have at least one thing in common with Aerosmith’s Get a Grip tour of 1993-94).

Make-up

  • No Lauren Luke! I’m relieved to have a break from uploading four close-ups of my face shot in bad light, and it’ll be nice to wear make-up that goes with the clothes I’m in. Only it’s mostly menswear this week, so looks like I’ll be bare-faced this week.

So the outfit today was just shirt and jeans for me as I don’t have a wide range of trousers to get it right. The photo was a little tricky, but my friend Thomas managed to get a pretty good snap of me hanging backwards off a park bench in some undergrowth. You can’t really see the clothes but since they didn’t match very well anyway today, the photo is really just for keeping up appearances.

After summer

After summer

 

Dafter summer

Dafter summer

Dinner for the evening was a very nice chicken pie recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi standing in for Hugh FW. The logistics of shopping with friends on the way home from the pub meant we were limited to Tesco Metro’s selection of ingredients. I used curry paste instead of harissa, boned my own thighs (…), replaced the sour cream in the pastry with soured cream dip (which seemed to work well) and used lemon zest instead of preserved lemon. Because it was late and we were hungry, I skipped the stages that called for letting things cool down – never my strong point anyway. All in all it tasted good – although better cold for breakfast the next morning.
Chicken pie

Chicken pie

Don't judge a book by its cover

Don't judge a book by its cover

I can tell how successful a recipe was by how much I wish I still had a slice in my fridge when I upload the photo later. This one’s making me slaver.
Conclusions:
  • There’s not enough grass in London. Or wheatfields. Could Agnes Denes pay a visit? Perhaps I should’ve popped to Dalston Mill for a photoshoot.
  • There aren’t enough cooking ingredients in Tesco Metros. They’re for those times you just need beer and some filled pasta things aren’t they. Planning, planning, planning.