Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Back To The Old House

Apologies in advance if you're the sort who doesn't enjoy rummaging through other people's photos.... I, however, bloody love it. I finally persuaded (forced) my lovely Granny to dig out some photos from her youth, and these are the fruits of her labour. Many of the snappy little numbers she wears led me to oh-so-casually enquire 'So... did you happen to keep any of your dresses?' but she's having none of it, unfortunately.

Here are my grandparents, John and Joyce, on their wedding day in 1956. My great-aunty sewed her divine Broiderie Anglaise dress as their wedding present, would you believe!

For their honeymoon, the newlyweds hot-footed it to Jersey, where they hired out scooters and sunbathed on the beach. Please note their deliriously happy expressions and my Grandad's rather dapper suit.

Finally, we stumbled across some seriously archaic photographs, dating back to as far as the 1930's. My granny as a baby (complete with a shock of black hair), my infant Grandad posing awkwardly on a chair, and my Grandad as a slightly older lad strutting his stuff down a pier with his ridiculously well-dressed Ma and Pa.

Finally - the piece de resistance - my great-grandparent's 1920's wedding photograph. That dress is absolutely beautiful, and just gaze in awe at her Marcel waves. 

Now, I am pining for some teenage pics of my Mum back in the 70's - this should be interesting!

Monday, 28 June 2010

A Luscious Mix Of Words and Tricks

Last night, having exhausted my own DVD collection, we decided to give the much-applauded 'Garden State' a whirl. Whilst better than your average, inane rom-com (Sex and The City 2, I'm looking at you here), I found it a bit lack-lustre really. P'raps it was my growing dislike for Zac Braff that dampened my enthusiasm for it - why does he always purse his lips? It did, however, reconfirm my belief that Natalie Portman looks more delightful with short hair, and made me fall in love with this little number all over again:

p.s. Do you agree that The Shins are one of those rare bands that, live, sound exactly as they do recorded? Spooky eh.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Carrot Cake

I like to think of myself as a relatively modest person, but my recent Carrot Cake endeavour had me almost shouting on the rooftops, it was that good! I, too, frown upon fishing for compliments, but this bloody delicious cake had me forcing it upon anyone who passed our threshold and demanding a mark out of ten. True story! This isn't just me being boastful though, it really was pretty yum - one friend had one mouthful and announced I no longer needed to buy her a 21st birthday present, just to make her an entire cake for herself. Sounds like a plan. If you fancy tasting this magnificent cake for yourself, here's what you gotta do...

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees, and line your cake tin with foil to avoid any unnecessary scrapings once it's baked. Pop 175g of Muscovado sugar, 175 ml of sunflower oil (really!) and 3 eggs into a mixing bowl, and stir furiously!

2) Grate up two entire carrots, until you've got what looks like a pile of lovely, chopped-up ginger hair. If you're going to be really fastidious about it, chop it up a bit so the strands aren't too long and stringy. Zest the rind of an orange, but resist sampling a morsel - it ain't as tasty as it smells, believe me.

3) Finely chop up a handful of walnuts and chuck that, as well as the carrots 'n' zest, into the rather gelatinous mixture. Reflect for a moment about how this cake is actually really, really healthy what with all the nuts, fruit and veg it contains (ignore all the sugar, oil and, later on,  icing - you can't sweat about the small details.)

4) Add 175g of (sieved) self-raising flour and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (definitely don't taste this). Finally, to add a bit of spicy goodness, you'd best put in a big teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Once it's all stirred together, pour it into your cake tin and whack it in the oven for 40-45 minutes. You may now lick the spoon.

5) Once the baking is all over and done with, I'm afraid you have another agonizing wait before eating may commence - it needs to cool right down before you can ice it, unfortunately. I feel your pain; I got so antsy that I put it in front of a fan to try and hurry up the process a bit.

6) After about half an hour or so, you could distract yourself by making the icing. I personally think it would be a crime not to pair it with cream cheese icing, but if you are a bit vanilla in your tastes, you could always opt for a butter icing. Mush together tablespoon of full-fat cream cheese (none of that Philadelphia Light, please), half a tablespoon of butter and shitloads of icing sugar. Keep dipping your finger in, and since you may be biased as you want to eat it as soon as possible, get someone else to check it, too. It's surprisingly hard to strike the balance right so that it doesn't just taste like just sugar or just cream cheese, but the two combined. Once the cake is cool to the touch, you're good to go. Smother that badboy in the extremely delicious cream cheese icing, and throw on a few more walnuts for good measure. Ta-da! Looks amazing, no? Wait 'til you try it. 

Such a tasty success was the cake, it was a mere few days later that round two of carrot cake bakin' commenced. Before you think 'You greedy pigs!', it was for a gift. My sister & I gave the lovely Jemma this rather delightful cake stand for her birthday, and it would be rude not to fill it with cupcakes, wouldn't it? The upside to making carrot cupcakes is that they take a mere 20 minutes to bake, so you can eat them sooner - I mean, give them away sooner. Shh.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

All Hour Cymbals

Yeasayer are hands down one of my most eagerly anticipate bands I'm seeing this summer - and believe me, I've got Wolf Parade, Beirut and Grizzly Bear on the cards. I have watched this video zillions of times but it simply refuses to get old. This wonderful video shows what lovely noises a band, minimal instruments and a flat-full of Parisians willing to chant and slap the floor can make. 

Amazing. One day I will to be there when this kind of thing happens, when I am magically fluent in French and have a artfully shambolic flat in Paris. Well.. fingers crossed!

Should we kiss now? It feels appropriate.

Michael Cera is a lovely little specimen of a human being, isn't he? True, he plays exactly the same character in every film (himself), but he is undeniably quite adorable. Actually though, my mother is completely flummoxed by his appeal, but she thinks that Owen Wilson is a hot piece of ass, so she can be quiet. Alas, I digress. A fellow admirer of Cera's work (read: sweet little face), my good pal Jess recommended 'Paper Heart' to me. Since her film taste is pretty much spot-on, when the opportunity arose for me to see it I thought, yes, why not!

The 'mockumentary' follows the comedienne Charlyne Yi, a lovably awkward lady who has never been in (and doesn't believe in) love, as she goes on a road trip around America to try to better understand the concept of romance. Along her way, she interviews various love 'experts', ranging from the logical (divorcees, newlyweds, therapists) to somewhat unusual choices (such as children in a playground and Las Vegas wedding chapel workers).

Have you seen 'When Harry Met Sally'? If not, ignore me for a few seconds. If you have, you know those little interview snippets where it features old people recounting how they met? Well, this film features lots of them, accompanied by lovely, surreal, Science Of Sleep style animations (except not as good - think more pipe cleaners and bits of fluff, less Gael Garcia Bernal). 

The plot thickens when Charlyne meets a certain Mr Cera at a party, and he is instantly rather smitten. Nudged along by their mutual friends (the directors and camera men), the pair keep 'bumping into' each other wherever they go, until they decide to start making formal arrangements..... all the while being under the watchful eye of the camera. Despite being two perfect peas in a pod, the whole every-move-on-camera scenario starts to put a strain on their budding relationship, and things turn from golden to shit. It certainly tugs on the ol' heart strings when you see Charlyne's little face crumple, and you are bound to spend the rest of the film with your fingers and toes crossed so that they get back together. I, ahem, won't say what does happen in case you watch it for yourself, but I think it's bloody obvious.

I just want to quickly clarify: this film isn't amazing, per se. You hopefully won't make your dying words 'My life would've been great, if only I'd watched Paper Heart.', because if you were planning on it, you're a slightly unhinged individual. The only films worth mentioning on your deathbed are classics like The Graduate, and even then, haven't you got anything better to say? Anyway. Not a lot actually happens in this film, and if you are a suave, heart-on-your-sleeve individual it may frustrate you into shouting at the screen. But if you are more of a bumbling 'n' blushing sort, you will quite likely appreciate those awkward, sweet little moments captured perfectly on screen. 

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Birthday Shenanigans

Sad times children, I am no longer a teenager... I am bloody twenty! My frightening birthday was rapidly approaching and my favourite person in the world was all the way over in Edinburgh, so what's a girl to do? I decided to go and pay Edinburgh a little visit. Plus, my darling sis' college was hosting a Roald Dahl-themed end of year party and there's no way I'm missing that. I do love a bit of fancy dress.

So, on the eve of my birthday I slowly but surely make my way down to bonnie Scotland. After lots of hugs 'n' smiles at the train station, me and Lo head straight off to a barbecue on the meadows, for some fun times and burnt halloumi. Fast forward one indulgent 90's teen film and some much-needed sleep, we woke up on my date of birth to be greeted with breakfast in bed, courtesy of Laura's gentle giant of a boyfriend, Josh (as seen on TV!). We eventually haul ourselves out of her lovely flat and hit the shops for some serious window shopping. We went to a charming little cafe called Eteakette, where we feasted on posh fizzy drinks, sandwiches and, of course, cake!

Once we're all shopped out, we are about to go to a Diane Arbus exhibition when we receive an invite to Chrissie's private graduation showing. Naturally we plump for the latter, and I am very glad we did - I was astounded (and shamed) by all the wonderful creations from the ECA graduates.... oh, what I'd give to be talented. I may be a wee bit biased in my opinion, but I reckon Chrissie was definitely the best in her class - just look at this guy! Caption reads: Please don't touch me (I just don't like it)

We scamper on home to hastily eat some tea, before eagerly getting ready for the main event. Laura, inspired by Wes Anderson's latest offering, dressed as The Fantastic Mrs Fox, complete with an enormous furry tail and co-ordinating mask. Nice! Josh really had no other option than to be The BFG, all he had to do was spray his hair grey and put on some comedy ears. I myself dressed as The Spider from James and The Giant Peach. Sadly, one of the perils of being the one with the camera is you get no photos of with you in it, but if any surface I shall let you know. 

For our all important pre-drinks, we stocked up on rum and pineapple juice, then hotfooted it round to their friend's flat, featuring a Willy Wonka, Mrs Ladybird and another Fantastic Mr Fox. It wasn't long before a pack of cards was cracked out and we played one of the best drinking games known to mankind, aptly named 'Gee Whizz'. Needless to say, we were all quite tipsy by the time we descended upon the actual soiree!

The party was hosted in the college, lending it a nice school-disco-but-with-alcohol atmosphere. It was all decked out with fairy lights and Roald Dahl murals, and each different studio hosted a different soundtrack, as well occasional bouts of karaoke. It was pretty amazing amounts of fun, though I unwisely decided to do away with mixers and just drink shots (bad. move.) so my memory is slightly hazy, particularly towards the latter end of the night. I have absolutely no recollection of our 5am walk home through The Meadows, where we apparently befriended a guy with a green face! Due to my squiffy state, the only photo I managed to take is this here one - a photo of Beth's hand taking a photo of the boys doing karaoke. It pretty much sums the night up, I reckon.

The next day we woke up far earlier than we'd of liked, to make our way back to dear Hull with as many of Laura's worldly possessions in tow as possible. Coupled with our bad decision of bringing no entertainment whatsoever, it was possibly the most nauseous train journey of my life. However, we salvaged things slightly by getting a nice greasy Burger King and wapping out Lo's laptop to watch Atonement. Eventually we rolled in at the station, where we were greeted with open arms and promptly whisked back to our nice, clean house. After absolutely inhaling our dinner, then came one of the best bits of birthdays - presents! Here is a little cross-section of my most aesthetically appealing gifts, including a beautiful 'sweetheart' necklace, apothecary-style lotions and potions and a cowboy mug. Oh, and I got a Latitude ticket! I am a lucky, lucky gal.

So far, twenty is not shaping up too bad!

Monday, 7 June 2010

An English Country Garden

Back when it looked like we were gonna have a summer - well, last week - my Ma asked me if I fancied going for a pic-nic in Burnby Hall Gardens. My first thought was HELL no, as the name itself conjures up images of pompous Manors and keen gardeners enthusing about plants, and also I am not an old woman (yet). But then I had a change of heart, as:

a) I took pity on mum, as her partner in crime, a.k.a my dad, was in Brazil, 
b) I was similarly orphaned, with my best buddies in far flung locations including Edinburgh, New York and Cornwall, 
c) sunshine and eating are two of my favourite activities, and
d) frankly, I had nothing better to do.

So off we set, armed with a pic-nic including apple juice, raspberries and those all-important sandwiches. To my surprise it was actually really quite lovely, with a massive lake full of ducks, water lilies and the most horrifically giant carps you've ever seen. By some bizarre stroke of luck, the abundance of little kids running around were dressed properly (like Victorian children) instead of the usual scamp's uniform of skinny jeans and baby Converse. That's what I like to see! All in all, the perfect mixture of scenery, serenity and sheer terror, therefore ideal for a pic-nic. Without further ado, here are a few snaps from the occasion...

Strike a pose, there's nothing to it.

Last but not least, whilst we were enjoying our post-picnic ginger ice cream, I spied this adorable pair who sat there the entire duration of our visit. You can't tell, but the lady was knitting and mister flat-cap there was reading the day's news, like the perfect clich├ęd old couple. But to spice it up a bit, he had full sleeves of nautical tattoos! What a guy.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Oh! You Pretty Things

So, earlier today I was having a root through my ol' book shelf and I came across this absolute classic - 'The Complete Beauty Book'. Purchased for a mere 50p in a charity shop, this 1985 beauty bible reckoned it was pretty avant-garde and aimed to 'take the science out of the art of makeup', whatever that means. 

It offers valuable nuggets of advice for any beauty novice; why not use a ruler to ensure your blusher is at a really nice angle? A black eyeliner definitely makes a good eyebrow pencil. Five shades of garish, pearlescent eyeshadow makes for a good day-look. And if you're wearing really heavy eye makeup, well, you might as well go the whole hog and wear dark lipstick as well. 

The hefty hardback is divided into sections for makeup, skin and haircare, with my own personal favourite sub-section being 'Disco and Elaborate Evening Makeup'. They aim to show readers of all ages how they can enhance their looks - this beauty was found under the teenagers and twenties category.... really?

Something about this old gal's expression makes me almost wet myself. I think it's how she's so pleased with her makeover, one eye bulges right out of her head. 

In the body care section, it more or less descends into soft porn (...and this is one of the less steamy images)

The skin care section shows several elaborate ways you can do a face mask, including slicing up an entire punnet of strawberries. The two green ones are firm favourites - the model looks understandably rather angry at having salad on her face.

Here is a rather delightful lipstick-themed montage. 

Now on to the best bit - a series of glamour shots that are so soft focused, it looks as if the photographer smeared Vaseline over the lens (to be fair - they probably did). Thinking about it, they look like the portraits that Deb takes in Napoleon Dynamite. Whilst you enjoy these bad-boys, just imagine living an era when looking like this was not only perfectly acceptable, but condoned!

Think I definitely finished on a high note there. Right, I'm off to try out all these looks.