Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Selvedge Pop Up

Selvedge is one of my favourite magazines.  It's guaranteed to inspire and make me reach for the Copydex every time I pick up a copy.  It was with utter joy that I stumbled on their pop up shop in Anthropologie last week.  It's not huge but it looked beautiful.  And very arty.  And all these threads haves sent me into a necklace making madness.

Anthropologie, 14 February-2 April, 131-141 King's Road, SW3 4PW,

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Home Barn

I've been longing to go to Home Barn ever since I found their website whilst hunting for taxidermy beetles.  I finally made it there last week and cannot believe that I've been missing out on this place for so long. It felt like walking onto a film set.  A huge, freezing cold barn, crammed full of antiques and treasures; industrial lighting, swathes of flags, taxidermy creatures and botanical drawings on every wall.  My dreams come true.  The downside being nothing was a bargain.  Though unlike so many of the places trying to do this - there's no rubbish here.  Everything is great.  There's no pretend vintage, no dodgy replicas.    

 The shop is in Little Marlow, junction 4 off the M40.  If you can't get to the actual shop they sell online at 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Natalie James

In the week running up to my 30th birthday, I think the Cubs had come to an agreement to make my life as difficult and as testing as they possibly could. They threw day long strops and would alternate hourly meltdowns come nightfall.  So by the time I left for London I looked and felt like I was actually heading off to my fiftieth.  My first port of call was Liberty; Instead of leaving with the lipstick I'd come for, I walked out with a full face of professionally applied make up.  For free.  

I love makeup.  All the beautiful packaging; the promise of a new, better you.  I'm  a marketing man's dream - embarrassingly gullible and desperate to believe that it really will make me look like Kate Moss. 
My problem is the application.  Even though I've had countless lessons and have even worked as a beauty journalist, I can never do it as well as I want to.  So before an event, a night out or just when I'd quite like some me time - I often make a detour to the nearest beauty counter for a transformation.  
I usually head for a Bobbi Brown or Chantecaille stand; so when I was approached by a beautiful, fresh faced girl from Chantecaille- no hint of orange foundation anywhere -  I happily put myself in her hands.   She was so unlike any of the make up artists I've come accross in  previous department store dashes.  After being an account director at MC Saatchi for the last seven years, she- Natalie - decided a change of career was in order and became a make up artist. She was business like, interesting and kind. And incredible at make-up.  She got me and exactly what I wanted in seconds.  There was none of the awful pretending I liked it and having to rub it off afterwards in secret.   
Make-up's never really been of high importance to me - a bit of tinted moisturiser and mascara and I'm ready to go.  Though now I'm getting on a bit, I feel that that and the sleep free nights are beginning to take their toll;  I need to become a bit more high maintenance. My first step is booking myself in with Natalie for a makeup bag analysis/overhaul/lesson.  And then we'll go from there.  Hopefully shopping.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Ottolenghi Caramel and Macadamia Cheesecake

I'd quite like to pretend that I'd made this myself.  But I won't. I'll be truthful and admit that it was made by my Mother in Law Suze and delivered to my doorstep.  I've since eaten it for every meal.  Breakfast today, lunch and supper yesterday and I think I'll get a few more out of it today too.  It's an Ottolenghi recipe that I've looked at a million times but have always been put off making by the length of the recipe instructions.  I actually read it through though last night and it's really not as bad as it looks.  I cant explain how delicious it is.  And worth every single second that it takes to make it.

For the cheesecake
400g good quality ricotta cheese, at room temperature
(if it seems too watery, hang it in muslin overnight to drain)
200g good quality cream cheese, at room temperature
120g caster sugar
2/3 vanilla pod
4 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
60ml soured cream
Icing sugar for dusting

For the base
160g dry biscuits, Hobnobs are good.
40g unsalted butter, melted

For the nut topping
150g macadamia nuts
90g caster sugar

For the caramel sauce
65g unsalted butter
160g caster sugar
100ml whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 140ºC/Gas Mark 1. Lightly grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
To make the base, whiz the biscuits to crumbs in a food processor (or put them in a plastic bag and bash with a mallet or rolling pin). Mix with the melted butter to a wet, sandy consistency. Transfer to the lined tin and flatten with the back of a tablespoon to create a level base.
To make the cake batter, put the sugar and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways in half and, using a sharp knife, scrape the seeds out into the bowl. Whisk by hand, or more easily with an electric mixer, until smooth. Gradually add the eggs and soured cream, whisking until smooth. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and place in the oven. Bake for about 60 minutes, until set; a skewer inserted in the centre should come out with a slightly wet crumb attached. Leave to cool at room temperature, then remove the side of the tin. Transfer the cake to a cake board or plate – but you can serve from the tin base if that proves tricky. Now chill the cake for at least a couple of hours.
To prepare the nut topping, scatter the nuts over a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 140ºC/Gas Mark 1 for about 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the sugar in a saucepan with a very thick base (it is important that the layer of sugar is not more than 3mm high in the pan, so choose a large one). Heat the sugar gently until it turns into a golden-brown caramel. Do not stir it at any stage. Don’t worry if some small bits of sugar don’t totally dissolve. Carefully add the toasted nuts and mix gently with a wooden spoon. When most of the nuts are coated in caramel, pour them on to the lined tray and leave to set. Break bits off and chop them very roughly with a large knife. It’s nice to leave some of the nuts just halved or even whole.
To make the sauce, put the butter and sugar in a thick-bottomed saucepan and stir constantly over a medium heat with a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth, dark caramel. The butter and sugar will look as if they have split. Don’t worry; just keep on stirring. Once the desired colour is reached, carefully add the cream while stirring vigourously. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
To finish the cake, dust the edges and sides with plenty of icing sugar. Spoon the sauce in the centre, allowing it to spill over a little. Scatter lots of caramelised nuts on top. The cheesecake will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

Biker Boots from Heaven

Words cannot express just how much I want these boots.  There are two things holding me back from secretly slipping them in my basket; One being that I already have the exact boots, just without the studs. Although it's the studs that are really doing it for me.  And two they cost more than a term of the Cub's school fees that I also need to pay for this week.  Maybe I could pretend I'd stuck the studs on my existing ones?  No one would ever know...

Caleen studded leather biker boots 
by Isabel Marant

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Brazilian Escape

Sig Bergamin's Brazilian abode is making me a) want to re-decorate and b) move to Brazil.  I thought that I'd been quite bold with my colour decisions but looking at these - I may need to go back to the drawing board.  Sorry Chaz.

Images all from Architectural Digest

Monday, 4 March 2013

Dance Pony Dance

I've spent the whole weekend mopping up sick.  Sorry if you're reading this over your breakfast.  It started with the small Cub, then the bigger one and now Alice the dog is joining in for good measure.  It feels quite like we're living on a Zombie film set. But we're ok, we've got this dancing pony on a loop to keep us going...