Guardian Girl

The dregs of last week

Posted in Brain & heart, Fashion, Interiors, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on July 27, 2009

Last week was an altogether tricky seven days for following this godforsaken plan. I was tired, unprepared, trying to track down an iPhone in every spare moment (a feat that has still yielded no success thanks to the momumental mess-ups of first Natwest – which did everything wrong, and then Carphone Warehouse – which gave away my reserved phone after promising not to while I sorted things out with the bank.) Here are the final dregs of things I managed to vaguely achieve despite the difficulty of cooking recipes, photographing complicated outfits and buying copies of foreign magazines to look at vampire photoshoots while also mantaining one’s daily life. You know the saying that punctuality is the virtue of the bored, or something? Well following the advice of lifestyle magazines follows a similar pattern. I’m certainly having to sacrifice a fair portion of my social life in order to do this project, as I keep having to rush home of an evening so I can make pastry

Here’s one of the outfits I copied last week but have been hesitating to publish because I hate the photo so much. As is plain to see, this blog is not about my aesthetic vanity, so I must forge ahead with the endeavour. God forbid, I keep thinking, they publish a swimsuit fashion shoot. I really don’t know what I’ll do. Still, this one involves jumpers, so how bad can it be?

Belt up

Belt up

Belt down

Belt down

The hat and the  cardie (another FARHI by Nicole Farhi delight) are great but it’s not a look that I can pull off easily and the main event, the belt, I hadn’t brought with me to the festival.

Last week I also cooked another of Rosie Sykes’ recipes, which was supposed to be  sea trout with samphire. However she had thoughtfully provided alternatives to both main ingredients for those who don’t have time to visit the fishmonger/seashore, so I was able to make an equally delicious salmon with fennel dish. In fact now I get to thinking about it, it really was very nice, and the portion I couldn’t eat is waiting in the freezer for my later delectation.

Sea trout with samphire

Sea trout with samphire

Salmon with fennel

Salmon with fennel

Mine’s a bit shady in the photographic sense but it tasted good enough even to serve to someone else, which is sadly not always the case with my cooking.

On Friday night I was supposed to dash home after work and make the next recipe in the magazine, which was an apricot puree, but my dear friend Michelle, whose design skills have enabled me to copy Lauren Luke’s tutorials in terms of layout finesse if not photographic content, has left my workplace to fly to her home country, the US. It was a sad day for everyone so instead of leaving on time to stew apricots, I went to the pub instead. I was supposed to cook the puree later but, as anyone might have predicted, I stayed in the pub until closing time instead, feasting on several kingsize twixes and baguettes fetched for me from the nearest supermarket by concerned friends who found it distracting when my eyes rolled back in my head as they attempted to discuss the merits of Indesign versus QuarkXpress with me. I then ate a kingsize (can you spot the theme?) packet of crisps, several flapjacks and a muffin on the way to the bus stop, topping up that little snack with a cream cheese and salt beef bagel as a treat to myself after walking home from Seven Sisters cos I feel asleep on the bus. I think the day I can fit back into my old jeans may be some way off yet, but this is not a subject to be worried about within a five-mile radius of a bagel shop. Anyway, the simple conclusion here is that no matter how dedicated you are to the cause of becoming the perfect liberal-minded domestic goddess, you have to push all this aside to wave bye bye to a good friend, and eat junk instead.

There were further failures to report last week.

I was supposed to have a picnic, which was meant to involve fizz and apparently annoying frisbee players, but there was no time for such daytime frivolity. The closest I got was consoling myself – after a Natwest battle – with  a bag of healthy (for once) lunch stuff from Tesco, which I ate at my desk. Some sad picnic, huh.

I also meant to find time to restyle my bathroom in the manner of the Guardian‘s home feature, but that fell off the bottom of the to-do list by virtue of its being so utterly unlikely to produce any success that there was little point even glancing at those pages.

 There were also a couple more outfits from the week that I actually captured pretty faithfully, especially one on friday involving – gasp – a scarf tucked into a belt! And I liked it! Sadly, though, there is an added level of effort involved in my copying of the lifestyle in question, and that is the photographing of it. I just forgot to ask anyone to do my picture for me and was a little too tired and inebriated to take it myself when I got home. So a couple of days’ outfits got lost in the ether last week, which is disproportionately upsetting to me as in some ways I do like to be thorough. In some ways.

In terms of heart and mind, I read Oliver Burkeman and Aspects of love with interest and bore their musings in mind. I noticed that I hadn’t experienced a visit from the Imp of the Perverse for quite some time, but thinking this seemed to be like knocking on his front door (probably in the trunk of a tree in some enchanted forest) and calling out ‘coo-ee, little imp, come out and encourage me to drive into oncoming traffic.’

Luckily I had no driving to do last week but I did read an article about some posh gardens in which one plant had been growing in the same spot for 135 years, and upon reading this I experienced such an overwhelming desire to go and cut the plant down in the middle of the night that I began to feel nauseous. Good job I don’t live in the Lee Valley or that fern would’ve been dead meat. Vegetable. Whatever.

 Aspects of love suggested that low self-esteem doesn’t in fact make you less lovable, which certainly made me prick up my ears. Every time I found myself walking around the supermarket (where I spend most of my time these days thanks to a certain magazine), thinking how I hadn’t put any make-up on for at least ten hours and how was I ever possibly going to meet my Mr Right next to the polenta, and more to the point how was Mr Right ever going to be convinced I was Miss Right when I was clearly standing in such a hunched and self-conscious manner while comparing prices of the aforementioned Italian dietary mainstay, I thought to myself : ‘No no, he might not like your face much, but at least he won’t mind that you don’t like your face much today. In fact, he will love that you don’t like your face much today.’

Overall conclusion in preparation for the next issue:

  • Must (and will) try harder.

First impressions

Posted in Fashion by guardiangirl on July 21, 2009

This week I was at a festival, so I set my alarm for 6.30am, climbed out of my wet tent and made a trip to the showers followed by the shop to buy my paper, which came with a free packet of Andrex wipes and a cotton bag. I got back to the tent and had a slightly less enthusiastic look to see what was on the cards than has been known in weeks gone by. Being at a festival with a limited selection of clothes squashed into a rucksack and no cooking facilities is fun for a normal life but tricky if you’re supposed to be trying to replicate outfits and cook recipes in pursuit of the perfect middle-class lifestyle. Having said that I was at Latitude. This is where 75% of the Guardian-reading population (and their gaggles of highly styled teenage daughters) were taking their credit-crunch summer holidays. I’d like to point out at this juncture that despite seeing hoardes of distressingly perfect individuals getting festival style bang on in all their wonderful ways, I saw NOT ONE pair of heels and no lace shawls. So the Stevie Nicks style campaign of the other week clearly hadn’t yet filtered through to the masses.



  • Blimey! There are loads this week! A whole 11 pages of recipes. I’ll barely get through any of them but I’ll give it a try, and it’s interesting to note the difference between various chefs and the ease with which you can actually cook the damn recipes. I could instantly see that Rosie Sykes has a pragmatic approach to recipe writing – a description I wouldn’t have thought of as a compliment until I started this experiment. I’ve already begun to wish they’d have just a couple of weekend recipes that require a lot of faff, visiting the butcher, letting things cool and set etc, then publish a load of stuff you can cook in less than an hour and buy the ingredients for in your local shop. I can still see a lot of cream involved in these dishes.  Again, times are changing. Once that would have looked like heaven to me but I’m growing tired of the daily richness and slightly concerned about the effects

The Measure (so important that even the Guardian gives it a capital letter):

  • Good call on the harem pant pyjamas, as I had enough trouble with the daytime version. However Cari has lent me a pair of silk harem pants in the event that they should emerge in future shoots, so prepare for hilarity on that one. When she texted me saying she’d found them my response was: ‘ooh, just too late for last week’s shoot, but I’m sure Hammertime isn’t over yet.’ Big shout out to my own humour
  • The knitting kit sounds great but you can bet your bottom dollar I won’t have time to track one down at a festival/during the ensuing week, in which I have to collect my cat from his godfathers’ house (I know, fag hags eh?), cook 17,000 recipes involving gelatine leaves, try to get an iPhone contract so I can write this blog away from my spirit-crushing desk, wrestle for hours a day with the main object of my hatred Natwest because they failed to change my address SIX MONTHS ago and therefore I cannot get said iPhone as the address I gave Carphone Warehouse didn’t match the billing address and I’m now blocked for fraud reasons until I change my address back to the WRONG one, which takes FOUR DAYS, and work the usual 9-5 hours, get home from work and also attempt a level of human interaction. The knitting kit can probably ____ off
  • Pale foundation is unlikely to look terribly fashion forward on top of my summer-tanned body, but the vampire trend will be most welcome come winter


  • It has long been my experience that steel blue eyes do not compliment angry red spots, of which I usually have several


  • This is a section of the magazine I haven’t got round to copying yet, although I keep fervently wishing to. I blame this on Natwest, and will continue to blame everything on Natwest until they sort themselves out and complete one task with a basic level of competence


  • Don’t have one, mate
  • However – hanging paintings above the bath? Not likely in my little rented studio flat. They’ve only just redone the beautiful peach, watercolour-effect tiled surround. Guess I might just tear the picture of the bathroom out of the magazine and blu-tac that on to the tiles. Same effect, different size, with extra level added to hint at the nature of representation itself