Guardian Girl

Back after all this time

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on June 27, 2011

I have barely thought about Guardian Girl for the past year or so. Recently, though, I keep bumping into people I haven’t seen for a while who ask me if I’m still doing it and why I stopped. I always tell them it cost too much money, freedom and vascular health, any one of which would be a good reason to stop a blog. Yet despite repeatedly going over the reasons why this is such a stupid idea, just thinking about the subject planted evil seeds of temptation in my mind.

On Saturday I finally got to thinking that it really has been too long since I’ve had a legitimate outlet for my third-rate puns and crushingly unflattering photos. I used to think that reading blogs was only for idiots, so I had no idea of the benchmarks when I first started doing all this business. Since I’ve been away I have read quite a few, which has allowed me to realise that blogs are rubbish, bloggers are morons and I don’t actually have to worry about being a good writer, saying anything clever or having any sense of dignity at all. This realisation has spurred me back into action.

So, here we are.

Happily for posterity’s sake, we begin again with pies and swimwear! As you will shortly see, not that much has changed in the past year.

(We actually began with soup, but my photo of it has got stuck on a different camera, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that making soup out of salad ingredients is actually nice, even if you still can’t be bothered to chop vegetables small and therefore end up with an actual salad floating in some hot water.)

Glade tidings

Forbade hiding

Forbade hiding

A bad start on the formatting. A bad start full stop, maybe. I did put a skirt on before I left the house. Don’t really know what the caption means – is meant to capture a general feeling, I think.

So that’s swimwear covered for the day; now on to the lard.

I should mention at this point that in the time I’ve been away I have managed to shack up with a man whose appetite for a good pie matches – and possibly even exceeds – the indiscriminating gusto with which I cook them. This is a great relief because although eating two portions of pie for dinner isn’t ideal for a person, eating four is very much worse.

Mackerel and lovage tarts

Mackerel and lovage tarts

Mackerel: a lovely start

Mackerel: a lovely start

It hurts to be so positive, but this really did come out good. A great recipe Hugh, ta mate. I used cheat’s roll-out puff pastry obviously, and ready cooked and smoked mackerel. Most of my potatoes had turned green and sprouted like so many limited-edition Shrek Mr Potato Heads (? quip too forced? and also why use ‘so many’ like an american when you from england?) so I chucked those out and just used the remaining couple that were just squidgy, not deadly. Are you supposed to save green potatoes to polish your silver and clean your windows with? I need to ask that woman with the big weird plait who turned out to have buried her stillborn child in a park. Anyway I am digressing into offensive territory here. The pie was delicious, all agreed.

Second outfit of the week and it has been a sweltering day. Needless to say, the blanket only stayed on briefly while Miguel (photographer of the day) took this distracted iPhone shot in which I can’t even keep my eyes open. That’s being wrapped in blankets for you. The rest of the day I resorted to the most pink and blanketlike dress I own, which is just a pink dress.

The wrap

The wrap

The Mummy

The Mummy

Measurewise, I have got on the case in astoundingly conscientious fashion and purchased myself some leg make-up, so as never to stray into the sheer-infested territory of Pippa M’s fashion mishaps, and a collected works of Jane Austen so I can understand what this whole Anna Wintour parallel gag is about. Totally with her on the smileys though.

I have neglected to purchase any Stella McCartney eveningwear (guess why), drink a G&T with cucumber (taking it easy on the booze at the mo) and am not yet sure what I’m going to do about this issue of the Orrefors crystal tumbler or HBC modelling for Marc Jacobs.

Will update.

Off to cook courgette and not-lovage pasta now. Has anyone managed to track down any lovage this week?

Conclusions:

  • Too hot for blankets, too public for bikini bottoms
  • Hooray for pie sharing
  • Salad soup, who knew?
  • Sorry about blurry and malformatted photos etc. One day I will neaten all this up.
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Dresses to impress #1

Posted in Fashion by guardiangirl on February 23, 2010

Don’t feel like too much of a twit in my clothes today, which makes a really lovely change.

It’s just a white dress and a grey jacket, isn’t it, with the addition of some beetroot-coloured, woollen tights that were entirely my own choice. Well, I suppose they were the weather’s choice really. He (the weather, that is, who as we all know is an old man) certainly didn’t choose bare legs this week.

Dresses

Dresses

Messes

Messes

Conclusion:

  • Ach, not a lot to say really is there? Yotam’s soup recipe looks tasty for tonight and the week’s fashion isn’t too taxing. Quite looking forward to checking out the Measure-recommended sneakers and chucking out me old Converse. Looks like it’s shaping up to be an OK kind of a week.
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Ten years, ten looks #6

Posted in Fashion by guardiangirl on October 22, 2009

A little black dress, no probs. Needless to say I put on some tights and took off the Raybans for work purposes.

The shoes were given to me by an ex’s sister in one of those brilliant “Nice shoes!” “Thanks, I never wear them, you can have them” moments, but I’ve abused them too much and the heels are now at an acute angle and are bandaged up with fraying sellotape.  Once I was toiling through Angel in them and a woman outside a cafe stared so long and hard and disgustedly at them that I was forced to wave passive-aggressively at her. Even then she didn’t notice – too engrossed in the shoes. Her boyfriend noticed though, and was tapping her manically. Anyways, you can’t even see them properly in this picture but I’ve not got much else to say today. Happy Thursday.

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham looks genuinely posh

 

Vainglorious plebeian

Vainglorious plebeian looks genuinely sloshed

Conclusions:

  • The caption is a little laboured today, do forgive me.
  • Good job my wonderful mother gave me some money to buy a new pair of black heels for my birthday.
  • I need to fix the hem of my dress as well.
  • And remember to buy some more cat food on the way home.
  • Oh, and loo roll.
  • (Stop! – Ed)
  • (I grew up on Trev and Simon’s Stupid book [funniest book ever, still] and Smash Hits [every time the Ed interjected I thought it was Edd the Duck speaking and wondered why they couldn’t spell his name.])
  • OK, I’m really stopping now, bye.
  • Bye.
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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.

Tuesday 11 August

Posted in Fashion, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 12, 2009

My magnificent pal Adam had very thoughtfully brought some geeky spec frames with him when he visited me at the weekend, so that I might better replicate this look:

Glasses

Glasses

Farces

Farces

I don’t think I’ll rush out to buy a pair and you’ll be pleased to know I didn’t wear them at my desk – only in the bogs. I think prescription-free specs are just about acceptable but if they don’t even have plastic in them, let alone lenses, they ought to be attached to a fake ‘tache in a dressing-up box.

After work I went on a little Measure-fulfilling mission, which was fun and successful. This experiment hasn’t dictated that I buy too much stuff lately, apart from a million pounds-worth of cooking ingredients each week, so I didn’t feel too guilty. Plus these were actually quite reasonable suggestions – a useful jacket and a white dress to do some small justice to the Ibiza dream despite not having the time or cash to book a holiday. I visited no fewer than four Warehouse concessions before I found the right jacket in the Argyll St branch, but it is a nice blazer, although not especially flattering. Bit Poddington Peas if you know what I mean.

Then I popped to Topshop and found a white maternity dress  reduced to £12. I highly recommened maternity wear to anyone who doesn’t already have some in her wardrobe. It’s so roomy. Admittedly I do look quite pregnant in this dress and you can tell its intended use from the fact that the hem dips down at the front to take up the slack for the baby who’s meant to be there but, in my case, isn’t. It also has an elasticated panel in the front, come to think of it. Is it a bit Hand That Rocks the Cradle to wear a maternity dress when you’re not pregnant? Could it jinx my fertility forever? Never mind –  I’m as barren as a nine-bob bit anyway.

By the time I got home I was ready to fail at the last of Hugh’s fruity recipes. Lemon verbena syrup sounds delicious but I’ve yet to find it on sale in the shops near me and it was 9pm by the time I arrived home from town. As usual I paid homage to his ideas (just to keep up the momentum of the experiment really) by eating some cakes. Heh. Ummm..

Because my performance with the recipes has been unforgivably disappointing so far this week I offer a photo as a peace offering. It’s the back of the t-shirt of a man I was walking behind down Edgware Rd. The slogan is the catchiest thing since Yes We Can.

 

 

aMAZing
aMAZing

 

My second gift to you is a snippet of conversation I overheard as I stood next to a young couple looking at floral dresses in Warehouse. The girl motioned to a particular example and said: ‘How about that one?’

‘Nah,’ said her boyfriend. ‘It wouldn’t suit you. I tell you who wears that sort of stuff a lot and looks really good in it though, and that’s my ex, Lizzie.’

She smiled sweetly and asked ‘Oh, did she?’ as they walked off arm in arm. I hope she was planning to slip some arsenic into his tea later.

 

Conclusions:

  • No geek specs for me.
  • Thank goodness the week of fruit preserves is over, as these recipes almost made me give up the whole experiment. It’s disheartening to aspire to such a distilled mainstay of rural life when you have neither the time, the equipment nor the patience to yield results.
  • Next up is Yotam’s yoghurt pie, which I promise to cook to the very best of my ability.

Flowing maxi dresses

Posted in The Measure by guardiangirl on July 13, 2009

Flowing maxi dresses are going down. It’s all about finding a dress that looks good belted yet reaches the ground, it would seem. At 5’8″ I’m used to having trouble finding long dresses and skirts that are really long, although in fairness I haven’t tried for about… 14 years. I assumed that since every cheap magazine is filled with maxi dresses at the moment (I say that but I haven’t actually read a magazine other than Weekend and the titles I work on for months – I just sense they’re full of maxi dresses), shops such as Monsoon, Next, M&S, maybe French Connection would be rammed with them. This is not the case – I could barely see any, and Angel’s charity shops weren’t giving either. So I headed for the last resort option that in my case always bears fruit – the market shop. It’s one of them that’s basically a market stall unloaded hurriedly into a shop, with a peeling box room covered by a musty curtain for a changing room. Cash only and filled with gaudy, rank garments you wouldn’t be seen dead in even if the Guardian told you to wear them three weeks in a row. I always find good stuff in these shops. It’s a questionable way to shop because as most people know, when surrounded by hideousness, a bog-standard nasty item looks like the bargain of the year,  but if you’re shopping with a fixed idea of what you’re looking for it matters less. I found, for another £20 (how long is this blog going to last on my wage? Weeks, I’d say. And what does that tell us about the pursuit of a magazine life? Whatever) a floor-length drapey black jersey dress with a weird, metal halterneck thing. It’s kind of a necklace with a dress hanging off it. I actually look alright in it, a bit Cleopatra-like with the fringe and this week’s eyeliner, which I consider a positive thing. I didn’t take a photo though. I was having a badly timed break.  Now I just have to work out where on earth I’m going to wear it. No doubt it will be making an appearance among these pages shortly. Possibly combined with a turban.

Conclusions:

  • Maxi dresses still look nicer flowing if you have big boobs. Making them cling to your curves gets all Morticia Adams if you’re obliged, for eccentric reasons, to team them with a fringe and Dita von Teese make-up. They go from looking relaxed and flattering to vampy and a bit naff. The men in the room would approve and the women in the room would think you didn’t have especially good taste. With a small chest, I can see it working much better. Yet another bird-bone prejudice then. Hugh had better get on to the salad recipes
  • Don’t bother trying to buy long dresses in charity shops. Get to the discount shops, which have just cottoned on. Or polyestered… no
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