Guardian Girl

Saturday 8 August

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Make-up, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 10, 2009

This week I was in good company for the grand moment of opening the Weekend magazine to see what magic was on its way – my friend Adam was up from Brighton for a few days. He’d already read the magazine that morning, lending the event even more ceremonial weight as he knew what was coming and I didn’t.

However the suspense was mainly in vain as this looked to be a pretty unremarkable issue.

So…First impressions


Where’s the usual fashion story? There’s only All Ages to be seen this week. It’s quite a relief as these outfits tend to be much more wearable – not to mention the poses being infinitely more poseable. Plus it’s all black this week. What could be easier for the average girl? Adam had also very thoughtfully brought me a belt and geek-chic glasses frames so I could more accurately follow the fashions later this week… watch this space.

The Measure

Wide, pale belts

No complaints – a nice Jigsaw belt by the looks of things, although doubtless not cheap.


…boots with heels? Insert retching noise here. I guess the ones in the picture aren’t that bad, maybe with pale-ish skinny jeans and a baggy vest or something. Oh, I dunno, I’m sure I’ll like them if I see them often enough, but whether these will ever make it to the high street is questionable.

The Rachel Zoe Project

I see, it’s a TV programme, which is why I knew nothing of it when it was mentioned before (no TV). While I think this woman is pretty and I sort of want to be her in the same unthinkingly ridiculous way I sort of want my bum to look how it did when I was seven years old, I fundamentally hate everything this woman stands for and think she usually looks like a doll in a dishcloth. I can’t imagine it being in any way healthy for me to watch this programme, so it’s a damn good job I don’t have a telly. And I think buying one for this purpose goes too much against my time-spending ethics. I’d far rather spend three hours baking the perfect meringue for my Cotswold Mess or chopping parsley into 3mm lengths than spend three hours sitting on my rump watching a shiny-haired vacuum in an off-the-shoulder dress parade up and down a shop floor, or whatever goes on in Rachel Zoe’s Polly Pocket world*.

*I’m sure she’s a really lovely person, though. I’m sure she is. Only slightly responsible for getting a generation of 14-year-olds hooked on laxatives. We all have our flaws, after all.

Brown legs in white dresses; sea views and bougainvillea

Enough! I used up all my holiday this year already so my forthcoming five-day break in Hamburg will have to do. But my god, those words, so evocative.


I’ve only ever seen Dallas in 2-min clips on Youtube so I might actually break through the paper walls of my Amish lifestyle and buy a cheap DVD player with a screen inbuilt so I can watch this box-set in bed. Whoopeee – hairspray, lipstick, drama. Oh heck, maybe I should start watching Rachel Zoe after all.


So from now on, each time someone asks me how I am, the answer has to be ‘AMAZING’. This will be interesting. I don’t mind losing a few pennies or my self-respect during the course of this experiment, but I hadn’t planned to lose all my friends…


No worries  –  I don’t own no deck shoes.

Thigh boots. On men

Hooray for not having a penis – it would be impossible for me to get this one wrong.

Bulky rolled-up sleeves

Damn it. I have bulky rolled-up sleeves about 94% of the time as I’ve recently found myself to be  consistently too hot and inappropriately dressed. Anyway I like the Duran Duranity of rolled-up sleeves. But this Warehouse blazer sounds nice so I’m willing to buy it in and give it a go if the rest of the week is relatively cheap.

Lauren Luke’s purple eyes

Yay! Those readers of this blog who bought the paper itself will know that Lauren looked really pretty with her indigo peepers this week, and I already have a fair amount of midnight-purpley eye make-up that I love wearing. So this is the only make-up look so far other than the Dita von Teese one that I’d naturally choose for my face. Thank the lord, it’s going to be a good week on the cosmetics front if nothing else. And talking of nothing else…

Fruity little numbers

Hugh has aggravated me this week (boo hoo, I hear him sob) by spending far too much time boiling fruits and berries. I don’t like boiling fruit and berries for a long time! It makes me uneasy to leave an unwatched pot, plus it uses up lots of money on my pauper’s electricity meter. I predict from the off that I won’t be making proper preserves as they also involve sterilising jars and waiting months to eat things. If I can’t wait ten minutes for chocolate sauce to cool, do you think I can wait four months to taste a drop of homemade Ribena? Tsk.

The new vegetarian

Yum, yoghurt pie, mmmmmm.

Black olive gougeres

Looking like something I’d love to eat and hate to bake. Is that most things? Possibly, but I’ll give these a whirl. Maybe they’ll be one of those things that fall into the category apparently defined by souffles (Nigella says so), whereby they seem tricky and impressive yet are basic to do as long as you follow the… oh, wait, you have to follow the recipe. That is tricky.


Quite reasonable, cheapish and easy-to-get-hold-of suggestions here.

This column will change your life

Looks like another one where you read Oliver Burkeman’s article, think how very interesting it is, stare into space with a wry/wistful smile for a while and conclude that what you can best take away from it is to continue in exactly the same vein as you were before. The kind of advice I like, really. However I will try to put more into the practice the wisdom discussed here about the relative futility of turning over a new leaf – especially given that I am such an avid turner over of leaves I’m practically a strong breeze. Hmm, symbolic.

‘It was a bit of a pipe dream’

As interors features go, probably not much for me to do here but stand in a sleeping bag and have my photo taken.


So all in all, the conclusions are that the fashion and make-up will be much as I would usually go for, the cooking is largely going to irritate me and encourage me into improvisations so far from the original recipe as to be humorous, and I might get to buy a few nice bits of clothing. Pretty simple, pretty dull, pretty all right by me.

After first impressions had been harvested and shared with Adam, cider had been drunk and crosswords had been laboured over in the sunshine, we decided to get a few jobs out of the way so we could relax. The first tasks to tackle were a belt from Jigsaw, as seen in the Measure, above, and the commitment to start saying ‘AMAZING!’ whenever I’m asked how I am. I can tell you, as I’m writing this account on Monday, that it feels very much at odds with my character to gush in quite this way so early in a conversation, but the phrase sticks like mud on a wall or whatever the right phrase is. Adam and I ended up describing pretty much everything as AMAZING! all weekend, which was much less irritating for us than for anyone in our vicinity, expecially since the ‘joke’ increased in volume and horsiness as it did in frequency. My mum called up just now for our usual Monday chat and when she asked how I was, I told her I was ‘AMAAAAZING’ and she sounded so mum-pleased, which made me feel guilty as I don’t actually have much to report and am not particularly amazing after all.

But rewind to Saturday and the belt. We were in Dalston and Jigsaw was in Oxford Circus or Charing Cross. Neither shop was moving towards us at any great pace and we were unwilling to move towards the shops, so we went into an internet cafe and ordered a belt online instead. With P&P added I spent about 30-odd quid on this belt, and it was even in the sale, I think! I forget the original price. Nice, though. They only had a medium one left, which makes me nervous. Apparently the belt has been dispatched, so in a few days’ time we’ll discover whether it fits. I hope so.

I spent most of saturday in my weekend slobbing clothes but changed into the Guardian outfit ready to go out later. We decided I looked like Sharon out of EastEnders in this get-up. Witness:

Sloane Square

Sloane Square

Albert Square

Albert Square

We were planning to go out to meet my bro at a night at which this outfit would, I reckon, have been very poorly received. Perhaps even dangerously poorly received. Luckily (although sadly in terms of not seeing my brother), Adam and I decided to lie on the bed and ask each other questions  from my Brainbox quiz (recommended for ages 12-13) before we went out, which sent us to sleep, and the outfit never made it further than the corner shop to buy gin for that night’s recipe….

…which was blackcurrant liqueur. Adam, usually a confirmed follower of rules with exactitude, was having a mini-break in Reckless World, so we decided we’d simply empty a bottle of vodka, a bottle of red wine, some sugar and two jars of blueberry jam (high fruit content stuff, mind) into a massive pan and heat it up for a while. Then we poured it over gin and ice and got pretty drunk. It was delicious, but it was like drinking jam, I warn you, in case you should decide to do the same thing yourself.
Blackcurrant liqueur




  • Bit of an unexciting but restful-looking week – or is it just that I’ve been doing this experiment more than a month now and it’s wearing a bit thin?
  • Black outfits are easy to copy.
  • Purple make-up wins easily against green or blue.
  • Liqueur is fun to make in terms of mixing, but the sieving and cooling and sterilising sound more like vet training vocab than cooking words to me. Stay out of my kitchen, vet training!

Tuesday 4 August

Posted in Fashion, Interiors, Recipes by guardiangirl on August 5, 2009

I’m delighted to be back out of swimwear and into boys’ jeans and a jumper my granny knitted me many years ago. Although I love these clothes I have to admit that my interpretation of the model’s outfit is fairly weak – except for the hairstyle, which I’m getting much better at after weeks of practice. I still find it hard to get all the partings straight but I don’t have to look at them so nevermind.






It’s getting disheartening to repeatedly look so much less glamorous than this woman. She’s becoming my arch-enemy.

For din-dins it was supposed to be another of Hugh’s summer marinades – the final one, in fact. Again I didn’t get home until half eight or so and I really couldn’t wait another few hours to eat, so again I used his marinade ingredients to cook the meat without leaving it to soak. First I fried a bit of salmon in lemon, olive oil and the herbs, then ate it as a starter while I grilled some chicken pieces in the same stuff. It was tasty and moist and good.

Before I was allowed to bathe and bed myself (?) I had to attempt making my flat look like an Australian factory conversion – no small feat. I used to live in an old toy factory, which would have yielded so much more joy, but now I live alone, sob, I can’t afford wooden flooring and white walls and all that jazz. These interior design photos are going to become very samey very quickly as there are only so many angles from which you can photograph a small, dishevelled studio flat/large, luxurious cat litter.

Nonetheless I’ll have you know I put a great deal of effort and back-work into rearranging my furniture to meet the requirements. The resulting configuration means you have to climb over the sofa if you want to sit on it. But then the sofa is actually two chairs pushed together anyway, and those chairs are of such poor quality they are more like cheap dollhouse furniture that’s been zapped by that machine in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids sequel (was there one? Probably). The point is that I wouldn’t recommend anyone risked sitting on them anyway, so the amount of effort required to reach them is of little importance.

My cat, at least, was entertained by all this moving about of his usual landmarks.

Here are the results. I’m sure you’ll agree my flat now looks like something straight out of Wallpaper*:







The cactus room posed problems, as predicted. I’m afraid I just couldn’t make space for one. So I took a photo of the closest thing I have to a let’s-eat-breakfast-in-the-cactus-room-this-morning-darling table, which is an old dining table piled with records and magazines. Chic.


Cactus room

Cactus room


Cacktus room

Cacktus room


And finally, the adorable lift. At my home I have to go up the stairs like a regular pleb so I took a picture of me door instead, because it looks a little similar.



And that was that for the day.


  • I don’t have enough shoulders in my wardrobe.
  • Marinades are for the weekends, I’m now certain of it.
  • There are limited ways of restyling the same small room. That sad truth of home styling should be enough to put anyone off committing a crime punishable by incarceration – then where would you put the cactus room?

Monday 4, sorry 3, August

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on August 4, 2009

Today was the last day of my bikini wearing and I’m afraid I chickened out slightly and wore a vest for my photo. Mind you that’s pretty much the closest thing I have to the ridiculous garment the model’s wearing. I imagine most people would just be slightly irritated if you walked past them in that swimsuit by the pool at your average all-inclusive. There might be the odd cry of ‘Borat!’ as well. If I tried to wear it I’d look like a cross between Linda Lusardi and a trussed-up chicken, which is rarely the effect I’m looking for.  Never say never, though.

As a footnote, I didn’t go to work in this. I would be sent home and it’s a busy time. I put a little black dress and a jacket on. Know your limits.

Get a black swimsuit

Get a black swimsuit

Get a black cloak. Please.

Get a black cloak. Please.

 I wasn’t really into the pose but I did kind of try, a bit. You can’t see it properly in the photo but I was holding a wooden owl who’s made a previous appearance in this blog. He’s my one ornithological prop.

And that’s it! No more swimwear. For the time being, at least, and here’s hoping.

The photo was taken by dear Liv, who came over for dinner. We had another of Hugh’s marinades, with lamb (a combination of chops and kebabs to try out both his suggestions) served with green salad that tasted as if Sainsbury’s had washed it in mould, pitta bread, hummus and tzatziki. By the time I met Liv I’d already eaten most of a packet of pitta bread, I was so hungry. I bought that and some wooden skewers from the Turkish supermarket but it closed its shutters mid-shopping list, hence my escape to Sainsbury’s. Sadly this is the power of the global conglomerate. It can afford to stay open until I’ve walked home from Paddington to Dalston.

Once home I polished off most of the dips while Liv chatted to a bus tour guide on the phone. I did save her some though. The eating of the dips meant we were able to wait at least haf an hour for the lamb to marinate but we had to eat and digest before bed and couldn’t give it much more than that. I could make these marinades and add the meat in the morning before work, but we all know that time is for sleeping and plaiting one’s hair into complicated styles.

The lamb came put pretty nice, if a bit less tasty than his other recipes so far (see the previous few posts). Also not sure about grated onion. I think it gave the yoghurt a bitter taste. The lamb was tender though. Not bad; not the best.


  • Thank the gods and goddesses for the end of beachwear week.
  • Marinades probably do work better if you have time to leave them a while.
  • Onions are made for chopping or slicing more than grating.

Sunday 2 August

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on August 3, 2009

Another day, another episode of ritual humiliation. I’m going to keep this brief and we can move on fast. If you’re new to this blog, please scroll down to the previous post and read the disclaimer in bold.

Wat to be noticed on the beach?

Want to be noticed on the beach?


Want to be banned from the beach?

Want to be banned from the beach?

I don’t have a bloody candelabra thing so I had to use a bloody walking stick, OK? Now let’s move on.

Dinner was very nice – ginger and soy marinade. I couldn’t get duck cos J Sains had sold out. So I used chicken. I had the time to leave it in the marinade as it was Sunday, and the chicken came out of the oven moist, flavoursome, garlicky and delicious.

My only complaint is based on the day after, when I’m writing this.

The below email exchange between my colleague Cari and I illustrates the complaint better than my words alone. Some of it appears in Outlook font and I don’t know how to change it:

Guardian Girl (obviously not my real name – how portentous would that be?): 

Cari, if you eat a lot of garlic does it ever come out of your pores? I love garlic and don’t want to give it up but should my forehead really be smelling of a frenchman’s armpit the next day? I’m so ashamed.


Of all the spices, that is the one that comes out of the pores the most. If I’d had a Moaz Falafel the night before, it doesn’t matter how thoroughly I brushed my teeth or how much mouthwash I’d use, I would sit next to mum the next day and she’d tell me I reek of garlic. My own mother! But, everything tastes better with garlic. I put it in absolutely all of my food. I think it’s worth smelling a little anti-social for that heavenly taste. How do you smell your own forehead?


Phew, if it happens to you, that’s officially OK, as you’re officially one of my most glamorous friends. I smell my own forehead with my proboscis. Only kidding, I wiped the gentle sweat from my brow after my 15th cup of coffee today and then rested my head in my hand and noticed a garlic odour. Then I wiped various parts of myself with my hand and smelt it (making sure all the hot men in the office were looking first). I basically smell of the marinade I cooked my chicken in last night. This is going straight in the blog.


Ehehehe – it has to.


Alongside unforgiving photos of me in a bikini. Great.


Question 2: how on earth do you know what a proboscis is? I have to Google words that you casually drop in an email conversation at least twice a week. When you write about the side effects of the garlic chicken, can you slip in the term ‘olfactory nightmare’? I nearly pissed myself the first time you said it and I’ve strangely wanted to come across the term again.


Did I say olfactory nightmare? I know about proboscis from a kid’s book, I can’t remember which – possibly the hungry caterpillar.


Yes – when your cat peed on your jacket and you didn’t realise until you arrived at work.





Saturday 1 August

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Make-up, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 3, 2009

First impressions

It’s a good job I made it to the pub before opening the Weekend magazine this week because my worst fear had come true remarkably early in the experiment. The fashion shoot this week is swimwear.  I instantly thought of doing some Photoshopping in the name of magazine authenticity but I’m just going to shut up and get on with it. I’m here to represent those of us with meaty, meety thighs and no time to bake meringues for their Cotswold mess, and I ain’t going to abandon the cause now.

The All Ages fashion looks much the same as the past few weeks, as my Guardian-reading friend Shirley pointed out. Very grey, with lots of plaits and layered up garments. I guess the stylist, Priscilla Kwateng, has her aesthetic and that’s that. The shoulders are the main event this week – luckily we’ve been primed for this by The Measure. I wonder how carefully they plan all this. I don’t have many shoulder pads in my wardrobe – yet – but I’m sure I’ll be able to manage some weak version of these outfits by relying on the greyness and the plaitedness and the bunched-upness.

The Measure

Paper planes bag looks nice and I have a holiday booked later this month, so I’ll have a chance to test how much more vacational the whole experience feels with the officially appropriate product on my arm.

Zoe report, Jimmy Choo boots and men’s Louboutins are all future releases rather than current, for which I’m grateful. The likelihood of me being able to afford anything leather by Proenza Schouler is very small, so I’m not counting on this working out either.

Hilfiger slim leg jeans – finally I’ll be able to buy some jeans in my new size.

I’m glad I don’t have to wear the two-sided leggings and I can’t even discuss the office air-con in the public domain as it’s too politically controversial, and I risk having my head price-tagged by a shivering colleague.

Lauren Luke’s make-up

That eyeshadow looks hideous but I’m a rehead at the moment (a result of my failed attempt to become a blonette) so at least this make-up look is aimed specifically at me. I feel special.

Hugh’s recipes look good, simple and tasty this week. Marinating stuff is usually a problem for me by the time I get home from work, but even cooking meat using these ingredients should be nice and at least I have two weekend days to spend macerating food.

Yotam does tabbouleh this issue, which is usually a problem for me due to the presence of the Evil Ones but as usual I’ll substitute sunblush.

How to bake: yum yum yum.

Wine. I won’t make it to Berry Bros but at least there’s a bottle here from Waitrose. Oh wait, it costs £55. Get lost then.

Oliver Burkeman. The advice I’m taking from this article is to continue with whatever I was doing previously and not give a damn whether or not anyone finds it interesting.

Aspects of love. Aww, reading about the sibling bond makes me miss my brother loads. I’ll arrange to see him this week.

Space. In theory I could probably copy this a bit, if the theory was quite a generous one that is. But hang on, what’s that, a cactus room? I don’t think I have a cactus room but I’ll ask my butler to check.

So enough of my first impressions and on to what I actually had to do today. The first thing was to wear a checkerboard-style swimsuit contraption. Luckily I was out for the day so had no opportunity to change into my bikini until that night, when the sun was as set as Angel Delight and I was as drunk as my house guests. I waited until two had gone home and one was asleep before getting my kit off for the photo.

I’d like to add a disclaimer here (and to each post about swimwear). The purpose of this blog is not that I find pictures of bikini models and paste them next to photos of myself copying their poses. What kind of masochist would do that? Not this kind of masochist. There’s a wider context (see What is the point of this blog?, right). I find the whole thing thoroughly embarrassing but if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound. I believe that’s the right idiom for the situation.

So, here goes…

Maximum exposure

Maximum exposure


Maximum humiliation

Maximum humiliation

Unlike most people I don’t own a chessboard swimsuit like the one the model’s wearing. I’ll have to join the crowd soon though, as that tan would be to die for with a nice set of lace undies on the first night with a new lover. Marriage proposals here we come!

Anyway let’s move on pretty quickly from that episode – only two more swimwear shots to get through before I can return to the suddenly reassuring task of being photographed in harem pants for the world wide web.

Next task for the day was to get me something from the paper planes collection by cloth-ears, mentioned in The Measure/above. I chose the travel charm because it was the cheapest thing and it’s pretty nice, although I can’t imagine attaching it to my phone, in all honesty. I usually recognise my luggage on the carousel anyway because it’s a ratty, falling-apart free gift from a conference held together with safety pins and tied with a yellow rag, among a sea of neat wheely cases from Debenhams or wherever you buy those things. I suspect most of them probably come from Beelzebub’s market stall. My mum always tells me how useful they are and I can believe it, but after a few years of following them down London escalators I have such negative associations I can’t even touch one without gagging. Anyway, my luggage charm is due to arrive at work this week, so that’s something to look forward to.

While I was using the internet at my friends’ flat to order the charm (I live in the Amish style with no computer, television, kettle, toaster, microwave or CD player)  I also took the opportunity to order some Hilfiger jeans, as I didn’t fancy making the mission into town to buy them on a saturday. I highly unrecommened the experience. I found the Victoria jeans mentioned in The Measure and thought they looked pretty horrible but I’m fast learning to suspend my disbelief in the name of compliance with the mass media. I then discovered they were only available up to a 32in waist, which isn’t big enough for me. My waist is considerably smaller than 32in but the bum, thighs and associated body parts (not quite sure what I mean by that but I’ll leave it in just in case anyone else does) that cause the problem, so I have to buy at least a size 14 or sometimes 34in waist men’s jeans in order to get a fit I can breathe in. This always does my head in. I mean, look at the picture of me in my bikini above (hard to believe I’m encouraging this but I have an important point to make and will always sacrifice my dignity to make a point). Fair enough I have a double chin and substantial thighs and all that, but all in all I’m no great chubber, am I. I’m a fairly normal-looking, well-rounded, healthy girl. I eat a lot of pastry and so on, but then I walk about 11 miles most days and I’m not a fool – I know roughly when to stop. So is it right that I’m considered too big for most designer jeans? I think it’s preposterous.

The skanky black colourway of Victoria jeans comes in a 33in waist though, so I decided to take the risk on those even though £80 is an expensive gamble. I was sure I could send them back if needs be.

The stupid online form and password system confused me and meant I had to re-enter my information FOUR times, after already having been made to feel like an ungodly whale. I tried to process the whole thing twice before i realised they only accept American Express, Visa and Mastercard or something anyway. So not only does this company penalise you for having good, strong, warrior’s thighs, it also penalises you for not being in enormous amounts of debt. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit now. In fact it was a happy outcome because I didn’t much want the jeans anyway – check out the unpleasant distressed effect at the ankles. But really, freedom of choice!

Another task for the day was attempting the green eyeshadow monstrosity of a look recommended for redheads by Lauren Luke this week. I so want to like Lauren Luke as she’s a ‘normal girl’ and she obviously knows her stuff, but some of the make-up just doesn’t look too nice to my eyes.

I copied it the best I coud anyway, using the usual eyeshadow primer to be really diligent about it. I don’t have any very bright green eyeshadow, for perfectly good reasons. If you have reddish skin, the last thing you ought to be doing is splashing the complementary colour of  red all over your face. I know it works if you use it as a cover up, but this is different.

It would be impertinent not to mention at this point an incident that happened when I was a teenager under the influence of magic mushrooms (sorry Mum). I’d been laughing so much at nothing much (tall people, fences, people of a normal height who somehow appeared very tall, etc) that I’d gone very flushed. I looked at my face in the pub mirror and saw red, red, red. At home I had one of those green colour-corrective primers to cover up my spots but I’d forgotten it that night, so i took out my Collection 2000 eyeshadow palette and spread my whole face with pearlised green powder, thinking it’d do the same job.  My best mate then came into the loo and found me standing there gazing at the mirror with a full-on, glinting layer of glittery green all over my face. Infinite hilarity ensued – so much so that the next woman to walk into the bathroom thought I was crying hysterically in distress and that my friend was bent over comforting me. She fussed over for us for god knows how long before realising the sad truth of our state. We later spotted a stray piece of toilet roll on a doorframe, which caused another hour or so of unbridled hysteria, but that’s another thrilling story for another thrilling post. All in all the point is this: I don’t tend to use pearly green eyeshadow much anymore.

Here are the pics:




And my greasy offering for this week:


Glamorous stuff. Gawd I need some decent concealer.
After all this tramatic photography I needed a good meal, as I’m sure you can imagine. I’d spent all day in the pub with my friends so I invited them back to sample the delights of Hugh’s marinade recipes. But I was hungry and drunk, and you know how it goes. What start off as the best marinating intentions soon turn into the irresistible compulsion to fry whatever it is you’re supposed to be marinating as quickly as is humanly possible and shovel it down the gullet. So that’s what I did. I served up some seafood mix first (couldn’t get fresh squid) and as I fried the second course (same ‘marinade’ but used to fry chicken) i could hear a lot of coughing coming from the other room. I say coughing, I mean choking, followed by inadequately stifled giggling and the sort of stage silences that come in between whispers. Instead of using a couple of chillies (too drunk to see them in the shop) I used half a tube of that fresh crushed chilli stuff and i think it nearly killed most of my guests. Being an accommodating host, I put less in the chicken, and people seemed to like it. In fact they seemed to like the seafood too. I suppose it was a sort of poor man’s sauna in a way.
I was a little too inebriated to remember to photograph the seafood to match Hugh’s picture, so took a photo of the chicken instead. It looks not completely dissimilar.
Marinated squid

Marinated squid

Fried chicken

Fried chicken

This is another vaguely Herschell Gordon Lewis-looking photo but again, the food was really tasty.
  • Where do I even start today? First, denim companies need to design jeans for women who are bigger than a 32in waist. Evans and all that novelty fat-people’s clothes stuff just doesn’t do – it needs to be normal clothes in bigger sizes. Or else.
  • Cloth-ears has great customer service. Hilfiger ought to take a leaf out of that book and throw away its copy of Thin in A Fortnight or whatever it reads at the moment.
  • Green eyeshadow gets the thumbs down, just like blue eyeshadow did.
  • Marinating stuff may be great, but almost as great and much quicker is simply frying food in the marinade.
  • The quicker this swimwear phase is over, the better – and may it never return.

Tuesday 28 July

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on July 29, 2009

Tuesday marked the beginning of the grey fashion shoot, which I knew was going to be simple enough for me to copy given the many grey clothes I own. I felt like a bit of a raincloud but a couple of people said they liked my outfit. I didn’t really wear the cardie tied around my shoulders as it would have been cumbersome and I’m not sure about the sartorial wisdom of tying a jumper around a jacket. But maybe I’ll change my mind, in the manner of scarf-tucked-into-beltgate. The hairdo came out looking a little Sandra Dee on me, although by the time I got home  and had this picture taken I was glowing like a pig and my fringe looked nothing like wot it had at 7.30am.







 I was supposed to buy a Ted Baker jumpsuit after work but I checked it out online first and, luckily for my bank balance, it wasn’t in the shops yet. So after a few quick drinks with designer Jonny during which we saw Meg Ryan walk past (bad highlights, proper trout pout, still a legend though isn’t she), I had time to rush home to cook parcels of food for my friends Liv and Dan.

I made three parcels out of baking parchment and one of foil, and here’s a list of their ingredients based on what i could find of Hugh’s suggestions.

I froze all my apples, which were meant to replace pears in one of the options because I can’t stand those grainy horrors, so i just served greek yoghurt with honey and nutmeg and some chocolate ice cream as slightly unconventional starters. Nice things to share though – three spoons and a coffee table are all you need really.

1) A couple of fillets of sea bass with butter, chunky-sliced fennel, vermouth and big hunks of lemon rind.

Pretty close to Hugh’s suggestion but for the typically lazy chopping, and it tasted delicious. The fish was really tender and all the flavours very subtle. Could probably have done with a bit of seasoning though. Couldn’t find any other more unusual fish in the supermarket and fishmongers are shut by the time I finish work.

2) Ginger, garlic, spring onion and soy, plus two chicken breasts and two duck legs.

Forgot to buy chillies and decided to bung the whole lot in one parcel rather than doing separate ones. I left it to cook for longer than the other parcels and removed the chicken first, then put the open parcel back in for the duck to finish cooking and brown a bit. This was really delicious. It’s a lovely way to cook chicken as it keeps it very tender, and the spring onions, which i don’t usually like that much, went lovely and soft and sweet.

3) A packet of ready-cooked and shelled mussels with white wine, butter, chopped garlic and thyme.

Mussels are another thing I’m not usually dead keen on but these’uns were very, very nice. The butter, garlic and thyme stopped them tasting too fishy. They were easily shared as we all stuck our forks in and ate them like party nibbles. What with the mussels being ready prepared, this is a super-easy idea and very much recommended.

4) Two bananas, a bit of white rum and a big Toblerone (minus a few triangles we ate on the way home from the shop).

Yum. Odd how bananas taste less like themselves and more like banana-flavoured stuff when you cook them. Also odd how difficult I find it to type the word banana. I left this parcel in a bit long cos it was puddingy and i didn’t want to serve it first (despite having already dished up chocolate ice cream and yoghurt for starters. ) The toblerone burned a little bit but this was nice as it made a layer of Dime Bar stuff on the bottom of the foil, which we picked off when it cooled.

Liv and Dan were suitably impressed by this papery feast and we had plenty between three of us.


  • Parcel cooking is the bomb. Easy, quick, low maintenance, versatile. This is a cooking tip I’m genuinely pleased to have picked up and practised enough to do it in future. It appeals to my George’s Marvellous Medicine sensibilities as you can throw in any old ingredient and see what happens.
  • I think I might be getting quite good at cooking now, which is great. A very satisfactory result of the project.

Monday 27 July

Posted in Fashion, Recipes by guardiangirl on July 28, 2009

Today’s outfit was a goodie, I think. I felt grown-up and received some (two) compliments at work, which was nice. Unfortunately this photo in no way reflects the positive elements of the outfit. The best thing was the lovely FARHI by Nicole Farhi silk blouse, which you can’t see properly in the photo. It is pale green with bloomy, button-tab sleeves and a sailory double-breasted popper front. It was designed by Evi. Dead nice. The skirt was out of Oxfam and I even had some green shoes from Dotty P’s years ago, but cos I had to take this photo myself again, I cut off my feet again. I wonder if this has some sort of Freudian implication. I also had a flower ring I bought a while back from Accessorize, but that got hidden too because I put it on the wrong hand. Details, details.

Here’s the visuals:







Look at that, my legs aren’t even leaning the right way again! Heheh, I’m so rubbish at this. Where’s my stylist?

The model looks so romantic. I am imagining a guy walking into his sitting room, seeing her reclining on the sofa and thinking ‘God she’s beautiful.’

I look like a chunky-legged Cindy Sherman rip-off after a shot of Rohypnol. I am imagining a guy I met that night walking into his sitting room and going ‘Oh shit, she’s still here. And she looks like she might be trying to seduce me. How am I going to get out of this one?’

Oh, I’m sure it’s just the lighting. Umm… oh yes, dinner! For dinner I cooked apricots with honey & star anise.

Apricots with honey & star anise

Apricots with honey & star anise


Aww, bless

Aww, bless


Something about the bottom photo makes me think of a furtive snap of a dog turd, but this dessert tasted delicious. It was really simple and satisfying to make, plus the ingredients were easy to get hold of. But a warning: it didn’t come cheap. The spices were pricey – I used a whole jar of vanilla pod. Why even sell it in a jar? Jars are for plural ingredients. And the recipe called for many apricots, and dessert wine. But I bought cat litter too, which is expensive, so might be skewing my perception of the price of the ingredients. I chucked the receipt away, obviously. On the plus side the recipe made four big portions and I could only manage one, so it has yielded several future puddings or breakfasts.


  • If possible, be mindful of camera angles.
  • The business of wrapping food in paper and baking it is a clear winner, and it takes no time and no effort once you get the paper out of the cupboard, which is the sort of task that tends to put me off trying such ideas – totally ridiculous.
  • Apricots are way nicer than I’d remembered.
  • Vanilla pods cost so much money, and then you just heat them up and ultimately throw them away.

Sunday 26 July

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on July 28, 2009

On this day in history I was allowed to wear a relatively normal outfit, but for the enormous flower cuffs, which I tried to emulate by tying white rags around my wrists. However I had to remove them before my shopping trip for fear of looking like a self-harmer among the supermarket community. I also had to put on some tights as it was breezy outside.




Sorry about all this pouting but, as you can see, the project dictates it sometimes.

My next task for the day was to try to look like Christy Turlington. I look absolutely nothing like her (see above) so this wasn’t going to be easy. I studied the Measure’s picture of her for a while and decided the main things I needed to do, other than sign up for major surgery, were to have darker hair with no fringe, whiter teeth, redder lips and dark blue eyes, and to be thinner.

The lipstick was about the only easy bit. I dyed my hair dark brown but the fringe will just have to wait as I can’t afford extensions – and if I could, I’d only be one of those women who has an obvious basin mark around the level at which the new hair has been attached. A proper mullet, in other words, which I’ve already rejected this month.  I wanted to get a teeth-whitening kit but my friend Adam told me his friend told him the best thing to use is Beverly Hills Formula toothpaste, so I got some of that and I must say it’s already working a treat. People keep coming up to me going ‘Christy, Christy, can I have your autograph?’ and I have to bat them away with my Swarovski-encrusted yoga mat. I also wanted to get some slimming pills while I was around the healthcare aisle, but Adam told me I was a clever girl so there was no need for such nonsense, and I was led away by the elbow to Argos, to look for some cheap coloured contact lenses. I suspect ‘contact lenses’ and ‘cheap’ shouldn’t really appear in the same sentence but hey, it’s only eyesight, you can always buy some more.  I’m telling you Argos used to sell coloured contacts but they don’t anymore, so I crossed that off the list as I wasn’t going to David Clulow or whatever to spend loads of money trying to look like I have dark blue eyes.

I ought to put a picture of CT next to a picture of me to demonstrate my (lack of) success but I don’t want to, and it’s my blog, so I’m not going to. Maybe later in the week, if I’m allowed to also put a picture of Maureen from Driving School to balance things out a little.

The recipe for that evening was sardines in filo.

The supermarket had no filo so I used a packet mix of shortcrust pastry I had in my cupboard. They also had no sardines, so I used smoked mackerel. The result was that I ended up with smoked mackerel pasties. They were really nice, I recommend them. All you have to do with those packet mixes is put some water in. Then you can squish handfuls around whatever you like in the manner of kids with Playdoh and toy cars, and put them in the oven for like 20 minutes. Never mind Hugh, never mind even Delia’s cheats. Follow my recipes instead. Get a packet mix, squash it around something, cook it.


  • I have actually reached a couple of conclusions of late. One is that having tidied my flat up a lot, decided I need to be more organised and filled my freezer with home-cooked meals, I do feel a great sense of wellbeing. I think this project is definitely making me happier.  What a result! The lifestyles magazines tell us will make us happier might actually make us happier. But is that just by virtue of matching up to their benchmarks? I dunno, probably, I’m no psychologist. But I know my pa would say it makes you much happier to have food in the cupboard and a neatly made bed. Mind you, do you need the Guardian to tell you that? I do, actually. I always thought making beds was like tying your shoelaces after taking your shoes off, until now. Now I see I was wrong.
  • There is also a darker conclusion I’ve drawn lately. I feel like a capitalist monster. I am very careful to waste no food in the making of these recipes as everything uneaten goes straight into the freezer, but still. There’s something really gross about the whole thing. ‘Oh, the Guardian says I have to buy five jumpsuits and a pair of trainers this week. Off I go to the shops then!’ Maybe if I stop shoulder-barging those charity people in the streets I can absolve myself. I’ll think more about this.

Saturday 25 July

Posted in Fashion, Interiors, Make-up, Recipes by guardiangirl on July 27, 2009

The first task of the day, after the paper had been bought and magazine scanned for potential ridiculousness, was to get dressed in a nasty approximation of a very feminine look. I don’t own much pastel stuff because I ain’t much of a pastel kind of a girl, plus I’m beginning to realise that a lot of the things in my wardobe are horrible clothes I bought at least nine years ago. I am only realising this now because I have to find the most similar garment to the one in the picture each day. Which leads to me sitting on my bed with a long face thinking ‘well i suppose the closest thing I have to that shirt really is the cream bell-sleeved top I bought for Beltain camp 2001 back when I was a druid,’ etc.  Witness saturday’s heinous combination, which left me looking like a frightened sixth former in 1997, suddenly liberated from the dictates of school uniform and clueless as to how to use this new-found power. Also I have no furniture in my flat that’s the right height to balance my camera on, so i had to cut my legs off at the ankles (in the photo, that is).

Frills and spills

Frills and spills


Ills and spills

Ills and spills


Gawd, I can’t look at that any more. Scroll down, scroll down I beseech you! Noweth!

As if the pastel clothes weren’t enough, I also had to put pink eyeshadow on my face. I wasn’t impressed. The lack of eyeliner combined with my blunt fringe meant my eyes looked like currants stuck on the front of a gingerbread man.

I also had to wear lipgloss, which is very rare for me as I think it’s too Vicky Beckham c. Spice Girls era. Luckily I used to work on a duty-free trade magazine, during which time I got basically as many free cosmetics as I wanted (I know! I miss it so much…) so I have a drawer full of all kinds of unlikely make-up items, all of which are about three years old and smell of paraffin, but ne’ermind. Make do and mend.

The trick of brushing lips with a toothbrush is one I know well thanks to Just Seventeen in 1994 and it does work momentarily, but I’d still rather a good slick of red lipstick.

Anyway here’s the result of my efforts this week:


Summer pink

Summer pink


Summer hink

Summer hink


Thanks go out to Jonny, the latest graphic desinger chum to offer his skills in photo-fouring (but also the man who commented on my huge shoulders [please see previous post as I can’t be bothered to link to it – must dash to Carphone Warehouse {see any previous post}], so it all evens out in the end).

For dinner I was supposed to cook newspaper-wrapped bream. However I spent all day trying to get my tiny flat to look like a Guardian interiors shoot, which was no small feat as you will soon see, so I missed the shops and ended up shovelling down a tuna and pasta salad and taking a bottle of wine to a mate’s house instead. I tried to get a bottle of Australian riesling but whatever, I couldn’t see any, it was only Tesco Metro, I wanted to actually see my friends at some point, so I just got some cheap Pinot Grigio and headed off to dance to early ’90s club classics with my chums instead. So much more fun than baking fish in newspapers . Maybe Hugh could do a playlist one week.

So perhaps the most amusing thing I did on  saturday was trying to make my flat look like a chic, utilitarin Antwerp loft apartment. My flat doesn’t even have an official front door, so I have to let my friends in through a locked iron gate leading to a rat-infested concrete alleyway. It has no heating. It is decorated in mint-green woodchip and the carpets are royal red with a rank gold print. The electrics are so dodgy you have to choose between cooking dinner and being able to see while you cook dinner, or else there is a burning smell and the trip switch goes. My post is collected for me by a Turkish men’s club. The laminate-covered corridor is full of cockroaches and resembles something out of a David Lynch film if David Lynch set his films in Hackney and had no sense of mystery, only desolation. So whenever I look at the aspirational interior design pieces in Weekend magazine I feel a sense of wry amusement mixed with a strong pang of wanting, wanting, wanting that life. Please see below my tragic attempt at achieving that life. At least I have a home, and it’s dry, and it has a lock, and I have my own washing machine. And it only costs me seven-eighths of my salary each month to live there.

I’ll just post the pictures next to one another and you can see what I mean. I think no droll commentary is required.













  • There are too many tears cascading down my cheeks for me to see the keyboard, let alone draw conclusions.

Raspberry tarts

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on July 14, 2009

Last night was the grand finale for fruit tarts, perhaps luckily for my increasingly indistinct waistline, although sadly for my pastry-loving tastebuds. Hugh sure does put a lot of cholesterol in his recipes. I look upon this as a good thing but perhaps I should have undergone a series of Supersize Me-style tests before and after this project. Too late now ( I’ll tell myself). I’ve got a bit cocky by now about the success with which I’m not taking these recipes very seriously, and these raspberry tarts followed the same happy pattern. I keep finding that Hugh’s pastry recipes come out too dry (it’s hilarious to hear myself write that – WI here I come) so I always add extra eggs, water, cream or whatever is to hand, which I think is why I keep ending up with cakes more than pastry. I also realise that the dryness is more likely to be due to my lack of scales than his bad recipes, although I have been using an ace French measuring jug that has marks up the sides for each ingredient by weight, for example Farine 100g etc. You just pour in the flour, sugar or whatever, shake it around a bit and pour it in. I love this jug so much I use it despite it being full of cracks. I’m scared I won’t be able to find a replacement. Terrified. I suppose I should just look in the shops.

Anyway, I did channel my inner pâtissier(e?) at Hugh’s suggestion and glazed the tart/cake shell things with jam before filling them with the homemade pastry cream and berries. They were delicious.  Really, really great, and the pastry cream was simple to make as I ignored such words as ‘clean’, ‘gently’, ‘strain’ and ‘chill’, none of which I have in my vocabulary. My flat filled with acrid smoke when I preheated the oven because yesterday’s supplementary tart filling had bubbled on to the floor of the cooker and was burning, to which my shameful solution was to open the oven door and all the windows, and let the goo mostly burn away before putting the tarts in regardless. They only had a slight taste of industrial fires about them. I’ll sort the oven out mañana.

Raspberry tarts

Raspberry tarts


Raspberry barfs

Raspberry barfs


Mine could do with a bit more snow, hey? And those neat little turrets around the edge. And some distressed floorboards underneath.


  • Learning a bit more about pastry has been really fun, very tasty and surprisingly successful
  • All those tubs of cream, packets of butter and cups of sugar don’t go well with the fashion. Hypocrites! I knew it! I’m writing in
  • I think there might be more pies next week but tomorrow I finally get a salad, thank you Yotam