Guardian Girl

Non merci

Posted in Fashion, Food by guardiangirl on July 4, 2011

THE HIGHEST FORM OF NO.

Totally tropical

Totally tropical

Totally horrible

Totally horrible

Conclusions:

  • What further conclusions does a person really need to draw? This is a time for being kind.
  • Hugh’s sage and cheddar scones were incredible – really like eating the feeling of getting in a winter bed – and only took half an hour to make, all in. Everyone should give them a go (and you too could look like a model!)
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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

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?

Copy the little children

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on April 28, 2010

Last night’s dinner was supposed to be smoked duck with pak choi but, due to a late night at work and a lack of desire to jog further than necessary to reach a big supermarket, it became chicken with cabbage. Since there was no photo to copy anyway, this struck me as no great shame and I soon managed to get to sleep without having failure nightmares.

Today, however, things have taken a distinct turn for the worse. I am concerned about my fashion karma. Is there not something very wrong about copying the style of a four-year-old? It’s widely considered misguided to wear one’s hair in pigtails to the office, so going one step further and directly aping a toddler’s outfit – complete with pinafore, kiddy hairgrip and pull-on plimsolls – must be thought of as a full-blown mistake at best. Amazingly I’ve already received several compliments on my hair today – but haven’t quite been able to bring myself to reply, “Thanks, I got the idea off a baby I saw in a magazine.”

Stripes

Stripes

Cripes

Cripes

I think the conclusions for today ought to be promoted to the level of disclaimers.

First, I’d like to apologise to the model’s parents, who I’m sure aren’t reading this but who I imagine might find the above photographic episode rather chilling if they were.

Second, I’d like to apologise for still not being able to get left and right right, and for therefore scrunching up the wrong hand.

Third, I’d like to apologise deeply for having my shirt outside the pinafore instead of underneath. I had it on under the dress this morning and it was billowing out everywhere in a most ridiculous fashion. I knew it was a busy day at work today and I wanted to look vaguely credible when required.

With all that sorted, it only remains for me to report that today I clawed back the ground I lost yesterday and followed The Measure to the letter by buying a pair of Asos navy tailored shorts (only £25 and I need a pair that fit). They are meant for men and yet I bought them big because I find it humiliating when menswear is too small for me. This means I run some risk of looking like Uncle Buck in them, but that could potentially be no bad thing.

Now I get to think of it, I’m not sure if Uncle Buck ever wore shorts, but I’m pretty sure he went fishing. Also, I think it would categorically be a bad thing if I looked like Uncle Buck, but I don’t like deleting thoughts after I’ve gone to the trouble of typing them. That’s why I’m going to sign off now before things get out of hand.

Au revoir x

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.

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…

A harried curry

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on February 15, 2010

Harried might be something of an exaggeration as I very much enjoyed padding around my much bigger, posher new kitchen making this Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe last night. But dinner was merely a comma between cleaning my old flat from top to toe and trying to unpack some of the thousand or so boxes of detritus that are presently making it impossible to move around my new bedroom. You don’t need to know the finer details of my life at this point – only that I am struggling through a house move with no cash card and no storage units. This is clouding my brain and making outfit/photo-copying very difficult. A sense of humour and a world of ridiculous poses are returning… but slowly.

Here’s last night’s curry. Simple and tasty but not mind-blowing.

Chickpea, potato and kale curry

Chickpea, potato and kale curry

Chickpea, potato and cabbage in a hurry

Chickpea, potato and cabbage in a hurry

Conclusions:

  • Whether it’s breaking a foot, running out of cash, getting poorly, going on holiday or moving house, there are definitely times when the Guardian lifestyle becomes reight challenging to recreate. This week is right up there at the top of the list. But I will continue to do my very, very (nearly) best to hit the mark.
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Baking for instant gratification #3,766

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on February 11, 2010

I liked the idea of Dan Lepard’s How to Bake recipe this week, being an enthusiastic fan of cider and bread. Unfortunately though, I insist on having dinner on the table within a few hours of buying the ingredients. When it comes to food preparation, I don’t do overnighters.

Instead of trying to change my ways and learn the indubitable joys of properly risen bread from an expert, I took the decision to make this cider loaf my own way – the instant gratification way. I was willing to suffer the consequences, which turned out to be fairly minimal. Luckily I have a deep appreciation for the sort of airless, dense baked goods that wouldn’t make it past the car park of a church fête, so opening the oven door to what looked and felt like a wheaten quern stone didn’t faze me in the slightest. Liv was over and she enjoyed it too, straight from the stove with melting butter and posh raspberry jam. The best bit was the base, which I’d left stuck to the bottom of the tin when cutting the top, softer bit into slices. I managed to jemmy the base off the tin in one piece with a knife and we ate it like a giant cookie. It was pretty rad.

NB I couldn’t find pure rye flour so I used a wholemeal multigrain seeded bonanza I found down J Sains.

Cider rye

Cider rye

Slightly wry

Slightly wry

I didn’t do a good job of this aesthetically speaking, but I did enjoy the eating. Bravo.

I also ought to address the matter of Topshop trophy jumpers. I am still living on cash because of a banking problem. I forgot to put money from my stash into my purse yesterday morning as I was in a rush to adorn my wrists with gold cuffs. I realised this at 5.30pm as I contemplated setting off to Topshop. No Eiffel Tower sweater. Not enormously disappointed. Ends.

And on to today’s outfit, about which I have no complaints. Miraculous!

Spring

Spring

has sprung

has sprung

I guess every photo’s going to be pretty much identical for the rest of the week.

Conclusions:

  • Today’s post was brought to you by the Society for the Preservation of Overlooked Tools.
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