Guardian Girl

Unbold, unsmoked, untasselled

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on April 27, 2010

Yesterday’s outfit was tempered for the office and then reconstructed when I got home and had access to my housemates’ wardrobes for photographic purposes. Strictly speaking this is cheating, as my rules are that I must wear my own clothes where possible, and that I must wear the outfits out and about like a brave person, not just piling them on for the photos and immediately casting them to a corner of Room 101 when the lens is put away. However on this occasion I knew my housemates to own the perfect garments for the job and there was no way I was going to tramp through a rainy day in Nin’s beloved Opening Ceremony wedges and Jess’s vintage Stephen Marks ikat jacket. Come to think of it I didn’t actually ask the girls if I could wear them for the photo either, but I know it’s OK. I really know it’s OK. If either of you is reading this, I hope it is OK.

The posing is very difficult when no one’s in, as the iPhone camera has no self-timer and using a reflection is tricky. The result is altogether buffoonish.

Tread lightly

Tread lightly

Unsightly

Unsightly

I worked late last night so dinner was actually cobbled together from the vastly expensive shop next to the office and eaten at my desk, meaning Hugh’s mackerel roll had to play the part of a bedtime snack instead. A rather indulgent snack, admittedly, and not home-smoked in the least. But why smoke it at home when Sainsbury’s had done such a great job of smoking it for me? It was their Taste the Difference kiln-smoked stuff, which I’d never tried before – unbelievable, I promise. I do seem to sound like a Sainsbury’s ad sometimes, which I’m not proud of at all, I can tell you.

Hot smoked mackerel sandwich

Hot smoked mackerel sandwich

McSmoked mackerel sandwich

McSmoked mackerel sandwich

And now I turn my attention to The Measure, whihc has already caused me untold heartache this week. And to think it’s only Tuesday.

For logistical purposes I tend to divide up the various tasks in The Measure and assign them to different days of the week, partly so that I have more chance of being able to achieve them, and partly to give myself an excuse for wriggling out of something if I don’t really want to do it. Saturday was a case in point. I YouTubed the band Hurts as suggested and found them to be pretty brilliant. Their song Wonderful Life is amazing and I can’t quite work out how they’d passed under my radar. The video did make me scoff a bit but black and white stuff usually does, especially if no one is smiling or moving, especially if there is a girl doing pretty dumb dance moves. They seem like funny chaps in their interviews anyway. After watching all this happily it dawned on me that The Measure hadn’t mentioned just their music, but their hair. By my rules, whatever The Measure says, I am supposed to copy. There was no escaping it – this meant going out and getting a crew cut.

Reader, I couldn’t do it. I simply didn’t have the gall. I’m not proud of my head shape at the best of times (too flat at the back, and other complaints no person other than my own self would bother to spend much time noticing), my jawline is not looking its best at the moment, what with still being less distinct than it once was after the previous run of baking adventures, and my skin, sadly, could never be described as ‘best’, ‘better’ or even ‘good’. It seems to me that these three things are the key deciders in whether a woman looks good with a crew cut.

It’s all very well bravely cutting off your hair for a blog and making it all into an interesting experiment. But what if you change your mind about the blog a few weeks later (as has been known to happen) and end up spending all summer in tears, and a wig, incapable of looking anyone in the eye, particularly members of the opposite sex, and dear God what if you are thirty now and are supposed to be becoming more confident in such situations.

So in the end I let the mental debate drag on until I could tell myself all the hairdressers would be shut and the day was over, meaning the task didn’t have to be done after all. My chest is constricting just thinking about it.

Today I am experiencing yet more heart freezing. The post office nearest my office, despite being in Primrose Hill, doesn’t stock French Vogue. However I managed to find the Measure-beloved curtain tassel-wearing Vogue interview on a website so I could see what I was aiming for. Fine, I thought, these tassels ain’t that crazy, they make kind of good accessories, I’ll go for it. So I logged on to the Guardian’s suggested source of such items, Pret a Vivre, selected the recommended tassels… and discovered that my order was going to come to £88 plus £12 for delivery. That’s £100 on tassels.

I have just spent 15 minutes grappling in genuine anguish over this matter. It might seem like a nobrainer but I promised myself this time I would give it a proper shot, keep the project entertaining, be subversive about it, play it unsafe. But I also promised myself that, as ever, I wouldn’t sacrifice my own physical health, financial stability or personal relationships in the process. It seems this is already proving an impossible combination. I looked at the tassels. I looked at the checkout total. I looked at the tassels. I looked at the checkout total. I decided I’d spend £100 on a nice bit of jewellery, at an enormous push, so why not on the tassels? I filled in my details. Then I thought of my mum reading this blog (as she often does, to keep up with my news) and I imagined her discovering I’d spent £100 on curtain tassles to put around my waist and neck, and in my mind’s eye I saw her shoulders sag under the weight of responsibility for having spawned this tortured beast and I heard her exclaim “Ohh, Jody!” with saintly exasperation. And I decided not to buy the curtain tassels.

My heartbeat has just about returned to normal.

Is this simple purchase anxiety? It might be, but there is definitely an extra level of torture added by the fact that I don’t even want the ridiculous curtain tassels anyway and I’m only even considering spending my money on such an absurd outlay because the Guardian told me so. But presumably there are legions of people out there who buy all sorts of things for exactly thast reason, although it might be Grazia or Glamour instead of The Guardian. To me it almost feels more guiltifying to buy something you like instantly. It seems too easy. Is this a wider psychological phenomenon or is it just me? I’m not sure.

Cripes almighty, I’m going to make a cup of tea.

And so, with tea drunk, here is today’s outfit, looking nothing like the picture. It is now very late and I must literally run home to cook a duck.

Floral dance

Floral dance

Awful stance

Awful stance

Conclusions:

  • It’s all just a blur of tassels and heartbreak and flaked mackerel and dramatic shadowy music videos and Oh! I am all a-faint.
Advertisements

Brow beeten

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on March 1, 2010

Dressing in unexpected ways can produce some real delights; new hairstyles and garment combinations I’d never have thought of myself. It can also produce disasters so heinous that I risk causing myself actual physical harm through delaying toilet visits, too self-conscious to leave my seat and trek past a room full of people in that day’s foolhardy get-up.

In fact the psychological damage has relatively little to do with the outfit itself and more to do with the fact that I don’t feel comfortable in it. Friday’s skirt, borrowed from my housemate Nin, no doubt makes her look like a ravishing Thomas Hardy heroine. It made me look like a market-ready swine trussed up in a hessian sack. The fact that I also got the shoes wrong and chose an unflattering top tipped me over the edge, I’m afraid. I managed to get over it while walking around the office during the day but, when it came to after-work drinks in the pub, my confidence totally failed me and I had to go home and sob without paying a visit my old workmate’s leaving drinks elsewhere (sorry Lucy).

For the next three days I have worn my own choice of clothes, probably no different to anyone else’s eye but much more favourable in my own fragile heart. I also excused myself from cooking duty on Saturday in order to go to Photographer Cari’s birthday meal. So it has been a rather unGuardianlike few days. The lack of Measure in this week’s bumper fashion issue enabled me to spend a bit of cash on a proper pair of trainers with shock absorption and anti-pronation support (if you’ve ever had a metatarsal stress fracture these words will hold some meaning), which will surely benefit my wellbeing far more than any posh handbag.

I did achieve one Guardian-related venture this weekend though: Yotam Ottolenghi’s candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu recipe. Only without the candy beetroot. And without the yuzu (no kidding).

Candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu

Candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu

Standard beetroot with lentils and you-must-be-freakin-kidding-me-mate

Standard beetroot with lentils and you-must-be-freakin-kidding-me-mate

Very defeatist – I was in town on Sunday seeing the beautiful Irving Penn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and I’m sure I could’ve tracked down some yuzu nearby, especially since Yotam had kindly explained all about the stuff. A cross between lime and mandarin sounds delicious but in the end it started pouring with rain, time was ticking and I decided to go for the lime substitute instead.

The salad was disappointing. I used extra beetroot and leaves to make it go a bit further and realised there was no maple syrup in the cupboard so used manuka honey instead. But even if I had got it right, I can’t imagine it being that much tastier. We ended up putting vinegar on it for a bit of kick. Maybe it was the prepacked beets that were the problem. Anyways Phoebe had been excited about this since she opened the mag on Saturday, and I’m afraid she left with her heart broken. If only I’d been less flippant about the yuzu!

Conclusion:

  • Rather than mooch around feeling sorry for myself all weekend, a short break seems to have been a far more sensible solution. Back to fashion dictation tomorrow.

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.
Tagged with: , , , , ,

Gurning bright

Posted in Fashion, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on February 22, 2010

I didn’t wear this outfit to the catwalk show earlier in the day, but I did put it on for a bit of telly watching later.

On the run

Got the runs

Conclusion:

• At least this was one of those outfits I had very low expectations of.

Tagged with: , ,

Jumping, fair trade

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on February 22, 2010

Steak salad, fairtrade cake, jumping in a pink minidress. That was the weekend for me. Wasn’t it for all Guardian readers?

Today I took the day off work and went to the Nicole Farhi show, being sure to take a packet of Mini Creme Eggs in my pocket (see this week’s Measure). I found it a curiously pleasing experience to eat chocolate while watching those coppices of bony thighs breeze by. It was like watching The Snowman in front of an open fire.

I also popped into Jigsaw and tried on the drape-front cardigan that gets the thumbs up this week. It was lovely and soft, a good colour and a great shape. But I still couldn’t make myself spend £79 on it.

Tonight, fried pineapple and ice cream. Happy times.

Mango, avocado and steak salad

Mangled avocado and steak salad

Shorts stuff

Warthog

Banana chocolate cake

Bedraggled chocolate cake

Conclusion:

• So far, the week is good and the food is great. The fashion, notsomuch.

Just enough time for saffron gratin

Posted in Food by guardiangirl on February 18, 2010

Despite still being in the midst of unpacking boxes, and certainly far too distracted to curate the necessary fashion shoots this week, I managed to find time to cook Yotam Ottolenghi’s winter saffron gratin for the housemates plus Phoebe last night. The verdict was very positive, what with breadcrumbs, grilled cheese and double cream being involved. I thanked the stars with every mouthful that I now have at least two other people to share these dishes with.

So enthusiastic were we to break open the oven and eat the bubbling delight, I forgot to photograph the finished product until it was almost eaten up. So here is a diminished gratin snap for you.

I bet it’s not every day someone offers you a diminished gratin snap.

Winter saffron gratin

Winter saffron gratin

Once a saffron gratin

Once a saffron gratin

Conclusions:

  • I don’t have a mandolin so I used a veg peeler to slice the swede and parsnips thinly (it goes without saying I couldn’t find any kohlrabi to add). The peelings admittedly give the effect of a compost bin when the dish is raw, but when cooked it becomes a regular-lookin gratin – trust.
  • Probably don’t take food prep tips from me, though.
  • Going to make another attempt at directing a photoshoot tonight. I’m determined to get at least one fashion shot in for the week. I have, after all, been attempting a rough approximation of the outfits during the day as usual. It’s just that extra logistical effort of the double-model shots this week that’s beating me. Tricksy.

Primary instinct

Posted in Fashion, Interiors, Recipes by guardiangirl on February 17, 2010

I cooked Hugh’s cinnamon bean dish last night and am now, in line with his suggestion, enjoying the leftovers out of a tupperware tub the following day. It’s very nice actually, with a bit of yoghurt stirred in, but I don’t have a comparative photo to prove this fact.

However I decided it was high time for another home styling session, particularly given that I’ve just moved into a new place. My housemates may have wondered upon coming home last night why all the furniture had been slightly rearranged so it looks a bit less nice than before, but hopefully all the homemade meals will go some way towards making up for this indiscretion.

So, here’s the first in a new series of improved Space imitations. I’m not going to write damning captions because I love my new home and feel I ought to settle in for at least a week before I start to cuss it just for the sake of a cheap pun.

Hall

Hall

Sitting room

Our sitting room

Picture

Record

Candlestick

Lamp

Fashion update: this week’s first shoot has been very tricky. If it had just been jeans and t-shirts (when does that ever happen?) on a grubby model in front of a white wall, I might have been able to fit the odd snap around moving house, but painting my face with ice-creamed Kate Bush make-up, trying to squeeze into diaphanous dresses I probably don’t own, backcombing my hair, asking a friend to don a matching outfit and stand around next to me clutching flowers, getting someone else to photograph us… it just hasn’t been practical, as I imagine you can imagine.

BUT… today I am wearing not only blue tights in homage to the Guardian shoot but also the first pair of heels my feet have touched in three months! The left paw is officially better! I can’t describe to you my happiness as I clopped along the pavement swinging my bag this morning, just shy of six feet tall again, builders suddenly saying good morning and laying down their coats across puddles, bluebirds flittering at my shoulder… oh, the joy of heels! That is until I got to the train platform and realised my shoe had filled with blood. A few months of living in Converse and plimsolls has encouraged me to nudge towards the Mrs Twit in terms of my appearance. Overgrown. I need to cut my toenails if I’m to wear pointyish shoes with pleasure.

Conclusions:

  • Cinnamon and beans make a good combo, and patience pays off when sweating onions (such a horrible phrase).
  • I heart high heels so heartily.
  • I tell you, it’s a new start. New(ish) job, new home, new heels, new razor, new running plan. By the start of the summer you won’t be able to tell the difference between me and the models in the Guardian. Just you wait! Then the blog will become pointless/have reached its apex, depending on your point of view, and I will move to LA to become a chef/interior designer/model/stylist/life coach/relationship expert/make-up artist. Perfectly true.
  • I spent my Measure money and half my food budget in Ikea on Monday. What can I say? I needed storage more than I needed the Smythson Daphne bag. Next week, next week…

Bye bye basin

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on February 9, 2010

I boiled the last in the suet pudding series last night, and savoured every bite. Served as suggested with double cream, it was a) sublime and b) a step towards morbid obesity that I would prefer not to have taken. Tonight it’s roast veg (and more lemon pud out of the fridge), tomorrow a rye loaf, and then I get a couple of days off to eat spinach leaves and contemplate my retreating navel.

It’s so boring going on about stodge and calories all the time – I’m yawning as I type – but it’d be a pointless experiment if I didn’t honestly share my concerns. And I think most people would be vaguely concerned about their health on their fourth consecutive day of suet eating. I am sorry though. I’d love to be able to transcend such drossful subject matter and, once I’m back in my trainers next week (when the broken foot is officially allowed to get some proper exercise again), I hope to set aside my Supersize Me cholesterol fears and chill the hell out.

There’s no photo of the lemon pudding but it is etched forever into the window frames of my mind, for it was truly one of the best desserts I’ve ever made.

Moving on, here’s a photo of me hunched in a loo.

Life's a peach

Life's a peach

You can guess this one

You can guess this one

Conclusions:

  • American football player in drag
  • Tara Palmer-Tomkinson three weeks after being fished out of a canal
  • Office girl on opium
  • All of the above

Also, you probably didn’t even (care to) notice but instead of wearing a small, white watch I don’t have, I wrapped my headphones around my wrist instead, creating an attractive yet functional accessory for the modern woman. And also, I quite like the way my terrible magazine photography makes the model look like a Victorian ancestor (although certainly not one of mine).

Now, enough with the parentheses: I’m off to Sainsbury’s.

Game on, game off

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on February 8, 2010

Oh GOD, when will nude shades go out of fashion? They’ve been on trend for long enough now – it must be at least a month or two since I first had to clothe myself in unsightly pastels. It’s high time we went back to black, please.

I’m determined to pull myself out of my fit of ill humour today but it’s not easy. Last night’s pudding was far less successful than saturday’s leek and bacon delight because I underseasoned it, undercooked it and overwashed the saucepan with this horrid ‘pink petals’ washing up liquid that makes all my food taste of a scene out of Bambi. Yeuch. I think it’s actually got under the skin of the pan.

After a late dinner of suet with a dripping garnish and a side dish of cream, I went to bed early and lay awake until 4am worrying about beige clothes.

Today I feel tired, grouchy and corpulent, so backcombing my hair into a sort of sub-Sarah Ferguson up-do, covering my eyelids in purple shadow and pulling on a crumpled sack of a skirt from the bottom of my wardrobe wasn’t quite the morning routine I’d hoped for. Mind you just putting ‘morning’ and ‘routine’ into the same sentence is something of an achievement for me so I’ll cheer up a bit at this juncture. There.

I’ve got it pretty close with the t-shirt, which is an old favourite my ex screen-printed for his former band, but funnily enough I don’t wear it that often these days and I noticed on the train to work – sadly too late to change – that it smells of the Jorvik Viking Centre. I haven’t been to the Jorvik Viking Centre but I spent much of my childhood in the Oxford Story, and everyone is always banging on about how they smell the same. ‘Blah blah, Jorvik bloody blah blah Oxford Story’ every bloody day. So boring. We get the point!

Hue beauty

Hue beauty

Warren Beatty (?)

Warren Beatty (?)

Conclusions:

  • Not feeling it AT ALL this issue. Request black shift dresses and salads.
  • Measure: hoop earrings are deemed quite wonderful this week, which is fine by me as I have many pairs of right big’uns and wear them all the time. At least I used to, before I started doing this Guardian Girl jape. Have you noticed they rarely put earrings on the models in the Guardian? In fact there’s often no jewellery at all, aside from a few gold cuffs lately.
  • More pudding tonight. It’s painful the amount of suet I’ve ingested over a three-day period. Psychically painful. However that leek pudding was probably the tastiest thing I’ve cooked for the project so far, and it was pretty easy.
  • I really am going to stop complaining now.

Hitchcock is it

Posted in Fashion, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on November 24, 2009

Dearest Olivia took me to Tesco’s to get the food shopping in last night and, upon setting eyes on the four-page list of ingredients I was supposed to buy, helped me reach the executive decision to give cookery a miss this week.

It’s the end of the pay period, I’m not exactly rolling in it and I’d rather buy electricity and phone credit than vine fruits and pudding basins. I apologise to my mum and dad for this because it means I probably won’t be turning up to either of their houses over Christmas bearing seasonal homebakery as I’d hoped.

Today my friend and now colleague Flavie accompanied me on a mini-reconnaissance through Primrose Hill to find a good taxi-hailing street where I could loiter, lumpen in my orthopedic footwear, and pretend to be glamorous despite it being pitifully clear that will be impossible for the next six weeks.

The outfit went down the pan because I couldn’t even bring myself to try on my pencil skirt with flats, let alone wear it to a new job, and then the accessorising fell by the wayside too.

Skirt suit

Skirt suit

 

Law suit

Law suit

We had to run away quickly because people started throwing coins at me. One of them implored me to please not spend the money on a good meal.

Conclusions:

  • In the absence of recipe cookery I was able to buy a trolley-full of exciting fruit, veg, yoghurt and other healthy items I hardly ever get to eat. It’s the equivalent of how a normal person feels buying a load of cakes and pizzas.
  • A few things ruining my chances of looking like a Hitchcock heroine this week: flat shoes, special boot, crutches, neon socks on crutches, too-low waistlines on clothes (cinching and flats have a difficult marriage), eighties tailoring, heavy fringe, lighting.