Guardian Girl

Thighs, prawns and blue jeans

Posted in Uncategorized by guardiangirl on June 29, 2011

What a combination.

I’ll begin with yesterday’s outfit. I didn’t go to work in a swimming cossie – just didn’t fancy it yesterday – so I wore an orange and cream dress instead and then changed into the proper, risque version when I got home. The closest I could get to this look was an unruly get-up involving tying an orange vest over the top of a white one. It looked completely ridiculous – not so much an outfit as a portable pile of dirty laundry. To add insult to injury I tied the vest over the wrong shoulder anyway; there’s something about my brain that just cannot compute which way round things should go in photos vs real life vs mirrors. My friend Adam came over for dinner and responded very patiently when I opened the door in this outfit. I think the words ‘That’s interesting, poodle’ might have been used.

Take a dip

Take a dip

Take a dipstick

Take a dipstick

Whereas the model looks like a glamorous nymph emerging from the foliage ready to plunge into an icy bathing pool, I look like a bedraggled, unidentified lunatic who’s appeared out of the undergrowth without warning, only able to speak two words of Russian (“земснаряд” and “поймать”) and play Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 15 in D major on the harpsichord. That’s why I’m not a model I guess. Well, that’s probably simplifying things a bit.

Today I received the glorious gift of being allowed to put some clothes on, in a return to a familiar old chore: trying to look like a bearded man. I don’t have mint green jeans so today’s clothes are pretty dull. There’s no pleasing some people I guess.

Guys

Guys

Gal

Gal

Even with thorough art direction and a decent camera courtesy of my workmates Miguel and Amar, I can’t get the pose right. ‘Tilt your left hand. NO, your LEFT hand. Your…oh, forget it, that’s fine.”

Things are progressing nicely on the food front, though. The other evening’s courgette and lovage pasta contained no lovage but a great many courgettes and niceness. Last night the preparation skills moved up a gear as I made Yotam’s green tea noodles with grilled prawns for Adam. I was nervous about the sea vegetables, never having understood why you’d want to make food taste like algae, seagulls, barnacled old rope and rusty flagpoles, but actually this was pretty nice. Should’ve dried the noodles on a tea towel like Yotam suggested, but these details always seem so pointless until you realise the point (in this case to stop the noodles feeling slimy and entrail-like in the mouth. Mmph.)

Green tea noodles with grilled prawns

Green tea noodles with grilled prawns

Slimy noodles with grilled prawns

Slimy noodles with grilled prawns

Christ, this iPhone photography is really letting my presentation skills down. This dish took quite some time to compose, yet the picture just looks like a load of vague cat anuses piled up in a swamp.

Before dusk today I must buy those Clarks sandals out of the Measure. They look OK and are probably good quality/value. My other sandals are breaking one by one. All seems to add up to a reasonable conclusion for once. Talking of which…

Conclusions:

  • One must always dry one’s noodles on a clean tea towel. The difficult part of this is having a clean tea towel – mine seem to get bamba clad within a week, never again to return to that Shane Ritchie-worthy whiteness we (allegedly) all strive for in our lives.
  • No other significant learnings for the day
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Notice of resumed, but reduced, service

Posted in Uncategorized by guardiangirl on June 14, 2010

You know it’s been nearly a year since I began this project. My latest adjournment (of many) has lasted a while and it’s done me the world of good.

Waving goodbye to Dan Lepard has meant saying hello to my old clothes again and I feel returned to balanced human form, rather than the grossly consumptive, Little Otik-ish marionette of capitalism I had become. My tendency to use melodramatic language might not have changed, but I have.

I have, much to my surprise and pleasure, been doing some growing up. Life in the shared house is happy and serene as I enjoy a lack of pressure to rearrange the furniture once a week. My bank balance is far healthier and this weekend I was able to treat myself to some new clothes in preparation for Sonar without feeling guilty – because they were what I actually liked and needed, not what the Guardian liked and thought I needed. My running regime and healthy diet have left me feeling energetic, much fitter and quite right in my body. It’s not about being skinny, I might add – it’s about being how you’re meant to be – neither starved into this season’s frock nor still bloated by last year’s pie recipes. I knew I needed to take myself in hand rather, and I have.

The increasingly heaving bandwagon of other good folks embarking on this style of blog project has contributed to my shrinking back slightly, probably for some distasteful reason related to delusions of inventiveness. But most of all, as has always been clear to everyone else, my original plan to follow everything in the Weekend magazine was just far too ambitious – financially, temporally and psychologically. You can’t sign over all responsibility for your daily life to a magazine, no matter how tempting that may be for all sorts of quite dark but no doubt common reasons. I’m 30 years old and, while it’s fun to experiment and push one’s boundaries, it’s also an important time to exercise some free will and enjoy becoming a proper woman. It’s impossible to do that when you have to consult Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall each time you feel a bit hungry.

So all things considered, it’s definitely time to accept that the Guardian Girl project as it was once conceived, is over.

Yet I have missed, as always, the ritual of trussing myself up in harem pant combos, taking photos with friends in office toilets, updating the blog with mindless anecdotes and tittering over captions. That’s why I’ve decided to carry on with a reduced service, copying the fashion stories and leaving it at that for a while. I’ve shed many tears of self-pity over shelling out for clothes the Measure recommends and preparing the pricey fare of the recipe pages, but I’ve never really minded getting dressed up in something a bit odd and prancing through the park in it, indulgently gauging people’s reactions. The fashion shoots, while often mortifying, have been far and away my least tainted pleasure. And they’ve actually contributed to my wellbeing: I take my appearance (if nothing else) far less seriously than I used to.

So here’s to the new phase, and long may it continue, in glorious simplicity and mild blushes.

X

GG

PS sorry, that was all a bit ceremonious, but it felt nice.

PPS you might notice there isn’t actually a photo for today. Be realistic will you?

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.

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.