Guardian Girl

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.
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Thursday 6 August

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on August 7, 2009

Hehehe, check out today’s outfit. I don’t have a fur stole to hand so I had to make do with the tiger I’ve had since I was eight or so. I thought of pinning him to my shoulder but this might have been distracting for the others in the office, so I just balanced him there for the photo and then he went back in my bag. To be honest I removed most of the accessories – bar the belt – once the shutter had closed.

I quite like what the woman in the picture is wearing but if you’re going to go mad on accessories like that, they really need either to coordinate or clash properly, or you just look like you’ve gone mad.

Coordinate

Coordinate

 

Reprobate

Reprobate

 The jumper is FARHI by Nicole Farhi menswear and is lovely for belting cos it’s made out of very soft, draping fabric.

I got the loopy bit of the hairstyle on the wrong side of the head. Before this project began I thought I knew my left and right, but I get muddled up between cameras and mirrors or something. It’s OK, I’ll pick it up eventually.

I was extremely excited about getting home because I was making Dan Lepard’s rocky road rock cakes. Gahhhh, just look at the recipe! I’d been looking forward to this all week. My usual casual chopping style left mine looking more like Alpine goat-path cakes after a mudslide, but we know it’s what’s inside that counts. I was a bit more careful about my measurements than I have been before after Dan Lepard linked to my blog on his baking forum and a legion of po-faced bun experts came barrelling over the brow of a cyberhill brandishing rolling pins and admonishing me for using the wrong equipment and overcooking stuff. I think they were being helpful. So yes, I was more careful (more careful, not necessarily actually careful) about quantities. However because I used such big chunks of chocolate and walnuts, the dough couldn’t really be made into golf ball-sized scoops. This is where I used my initiative and made one big blobby cake in the bottom of the tin instead, which I then cut into smaller pieces after it came out of the oven. I couldn’t wait for the chocolate topping mixture to cool before I stirred in the marshmallows, which meant they melted into a marbled swirl. I’d just walked six miles in the bucketing rain, hadn’t eaten since lunch and was standing over a pan of  hot, glossy, ribboning chocolate gloop to dot it with little-fluffy-cloud marshmallows. How was I supposed to wait for the thing to cool? I also tasted it liberally before it made it to the pouring stage, by which I mean I ate nearly all of it – along with the marshmallows and peanuts that didn’t go into the recipe. This meant that by the time I came to eating the rock cakes, I already felt slightly sick. But that didn’t matter because the cakes were so, so good. Eating a mouthful was like inching into a just-too-hot bath – a spreading feeling of semi-religious pleasure tinged with the slightly guilty suspicion that what you’re doing probably isn’t that good for your veins.

arrghghhghhghhrghrgrhhgr.

I put what I couldn’t eat in the freezer, but not before I had a second go at them after they’d cooled, thus making myself feel sick twice in one evening. Some people never learn.

Another great thing about these cakes was that they were easy to make, even for me, and the process was quick – except the whole palaver of getting things to this and that temperature (I hear in some places they call it ‘cooking’), which I could afford to ignore because I alone had to eat the result. Oh yeh, and also, if you make them, do put at least some salted peanuts in (I used a mixture of peanuts and walnuts) cos it makes them taste of Snickers.

I turn 30 in a few months and I might actually bake my own cake just so that I can have a whole mountain range of these. I could get in some real goats to climb around in this mountain range, as I love goats. It’d be like a budget version of the Arctic scene, complete with snow leopard, that I heard Jocelyn Wildenstein had in her house. And I could get some surgery for my birthday too, so I look more like my cat, George. My life plan is suddenly coming together.

Rock cake

Rock cake

 

Boulder cake

Boulder cake

 

Conclusions:

  • What a brilliant day! A tiger on the shoulder and the most enjoyable-ever chocolate cake stuff in the belly.
  • The path to enlightenment isn’t a path after all, it’s a stream – of condensed milk, melted chocolate and butter.

First impressions

Posted in First impressions by guardiangirl on July 27, 2009

My first thought this week was that I was going to try a new blogging format and catalogue my attempts by day, rather than by item.

My second was that I was going to format my bullet points in a different way, with full stops at the end of each one.

My third thought was that I’d better open the magazine and see what I had to do this week.

Frills and spills fashion

A bit girly – scary colours and bare legs – but I just got some more beautiful FARHI by Nicole Farhi (yay Evi!) clothes that I hope to incorporate, which is exciting.

Groovy in grey fashion

Good. I have lots of grey clothes and I quite like the hairstyles.

The Measure

  • The Hero blouse – what is this? The name of a Balmain blouse? I already know I can’t afford it.
  • Christy T – erm, well it’ll be a doddle to look like her. I guess I’m dying my hair again then.
  • Frilly brollies – useful and achievable, for once.
  • Ted’s biker playsuit – looks kind of like it might be alright on, but a bit scary, possibly too pricey and probably not in the shops yet.
  • Blonette hair – great but how do I incorporate that with looking as much like Christy Turlington as possible? Tsk, the writers of The Measure could’ve thought this through a bit better couldn’t they?
  • The Cameron/Brown holiday wardrobe circus – irrelevant to me. I don’t even care what celebrities are wearing, let alone politicians. It’s enough effort to work out what they’re saying.

 

  • “This is it” tour merch – fine. I hadn’t planned to buy any MJ socks.
  • “Cinch your waist” to be replaced with “square your shoulders” – since my waist is quite a lot less waisty than it once was I’m happy enough about this – but it could leave me looking like an American football player. In fact once I was sitting in the pub with a mate and he suddenly went: ‘Christ! You’ve got big shoulders, haven’t you,’ so either I’m well suited to this look or I’m in big trouble.
  • The Cheryl v Dannii debate – fine by me. I have no telly and vitually no idea about any of this stuff anyway.
  • Ditto Michelle Heaton – looks awful, send her down, keep her away from me.

Lauren Luke’s summer pink

Hmm, not sure. Pink eyeshadow can go either way, I already know this. At least I own some though.

Parcel force

Great headline, the sub in me notices. The belly in me notices that the recipes look pretty good and tasty. The brain in me notices that they also look simple enough to do and the worried woman in me can’t see a great deal of cream involved. Good all round.

Yotam Ottolenghi

This headline removes all the goodness created by the previous one (they’ve changed it online. Oh I know, it’s to so with search engine optimisation isn’t it. Good for them. Shame, for my purposes). The recipe is secondary. But delicious looking.

Blueberry almond bar

Yummmm, can’t wait to cook it.

Relationship matters and Aspects of love

Another new relationship piece! Gosh, the pressure is really on now for me to find somebody to share my life with. Poor sod had better be prepared for a lot of dinners at home. However, loved-up or not, I can see the sentence ‘get eight hours sleep a night’ or words to that effect. Certainly something for me to aim for this week.

Space

A flat filled with empty rice sacks – finally something a little more achievable for a girl of my means?