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

Fashion

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.

Hiking…

…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.

Dallas

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.

Moaning

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…

“Overboard”

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.

Wine

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

Blackcurrant

Abhorrent

Abhorrent

Conclusions:
  • 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!
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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:

 

Redhead

Redhead

And my greasy offering for this week:
Blackheads

Blackheads

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.
Conclusions:
  • 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.