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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Birthmas Tide.

Salut, mes amis.
I've been awol for a while due to having had an operation, followed by a very sleepy and ineffective recovery period, which encompassed my birthday and Christmas! Tomorrow, I'm off to France to visit my Dad. I'm taking the overnight ferry - thank goodness I'll be in a cabin! Originally, I was just going to be in a "reclining chair" for the night.
I've been a really lucky lady this year, with regards to presents and lovely celebrations. Among my many wonderful gifts, I got a graphics tablet from Dan's parents. I've been experimenting with drawing on photos. Here's one of the little naughtypants cat.

In the new year, expect more updates, more often, and more joy! I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve! x

Monday, 10 December 2012

Goats' Cheese Delight! House Gallery Café - Camberwell

I've lived in the Camberwell area for over a year now, but until the other day, I'd not found a really wonderful cafe south of the river. I noticed the House Gallery Café when I went past it on the bus on the way to Peckham one evening, and made a mental note that I had to go back there at some point as it looked intimate yet airy, and had a slightly alternative look to it. Recently, I've not been being very creative with my outfits so I thought I'd mix it up a little bit to go to a new cafe! Why not?!
teal tulle skirt We visited the House Gallery Café with our lovely friend Emma, on a crisp, bright and blustery day and it was warm and welcoming inside. I immediately ordered a Soy Chai Latte which is my go-to cafe order. It was foamy and frothy and smooth. I really like Chai Lattes and this one did not disappoint. I've tasted very sweet, honeyed Chai, and very savoury, spiced chai, and this one sat somewhere between those two extremes.
house gallery cafe
bacon sandwich south london
goats cheese sandwich south london
Dan ordered a luscious, breakfasty bacon sandwich on soft white bread, and I ordered a Goats' Cheese, bacon and avocado sandwich, also on white bread. At first, the guy behind the till told me they'd run out of Goats' Cheese, and so I said I'd be happy with ordinary cram cheese. To my delight, when my sandwich arrived, the guy told me that he'd run out to buy Goat's Cheese especially for my sandwich because I'd looked so crestfallen before! What a top lad! The sandwich was soft, the bacon was crunchy and it was ace with the rocket salad.
The House Gallery Café, as the name suggests, is also an art gallery, and the profits from the café go towards the running of the gallery. It's a great space, the staff are attentive and friendly and I can't wait to visit again. Next time, I think I'll have to try one of their fresh, home-made milkshakes.

belted jumper

*Tartan Shirt - Topshop*
*Black Jumper and Teal Tulle Skirt - YesStyle.co.uk*
*Leather Belt - Topshop*
*Deer Brooch - A gift from my Uncle* 

I've also reviewed a Korean cafe in London, and a vintage cafe in Brighton. Check those out, if you like!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Library Fashion, and Poetry Readings.

Since I last wrote, I managed to get a job! Hurrah! Rejoice! It's only a teeny tiny job, but it's employment nonetheless, and we can't be picky. I'm now a part time library assistant. What a wonderful title!

librarian style
So rather appropriately, I am dressed in a very librarian-ish style in these photos, especially with my big bun. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to do that bun, and I WISH I did, because I think it looked pretty good with all that volume. I've not managed to recreate it since! You can't quite see the bun itself in these photos, but trust me, it was a satisfying bun.

japanese tea mug
 This is my absolute favourite mug. Actually, that's a lie; I have two favourite mugs. Dan likes huge, huge mugs that hold a pint of coffee, whereas I prefer a nice medium size. It'll hold a satisfying amount of tea, but it still looks fairly dainty, and I won't sprain my wrist trying to lift it! This one is from a Japanese pottery/crockery shop called Doki. We also have a set of bowls, but I want
EVERYTHING from this shop. Everything is so beautiful and unique, and it's all so well made.

librarian fashion

 * Peter Pan Collar Dress (worn as top) - YesStyle * 
* Tartan Skirt - Vintage *
* Teal Cable-Knit Tights - H+M * 

In addition to my new job as a library assistant, I suppose I could tentatively call myself a poet, as I've now taken part in my first ever poetry reading! This was an event to raise awareness of the incarcerated members of the Russian Punk band, Pussy Riot, and it was curated by a new friend of mine whom I met on the Golden Hour tour, a poet called S. J. Fowler. My poem was probably the least political of all those read at the event, so I was extremely nervous beforehand. As each poet got up to read their piece, it dawned on me again and again that I am just NOT a political poet. Nevertheless, my poem was well received, and I would very much like to do something like that again. I have a lot to work on, but ultimately, I want to be a writer, and this is a step towards my goal!
Have a quick peek at my reading here, if you'd like. Also, have a look at the other poets if you have a moment.


See you soon!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Peter Pan Collars FOREVER!

Maybe there will come a time when I am "too old" for the Peter Pan Collar. Maybe that time has already come. I don't know. What I do know is that if something has a Peter Pan Collar then I am approximately one million point five times more likely to (want to) buy it. That, my friends, is maths.

red hair and glasses
Alack, my luscious mane is obscuring the wonderment of the Peter Pan Collar in this photo. But behold my slightly-condescending-visage. It looks like I am judging you. Perhaps I am. Perhaps, I was judging Dan as he tried valiantly to take photos of me! Will we ever know? Stay tuned to find out.
floral peter pan collar green peter pan collar

This green dress is one of maybe five go-to dresses that I own. Most of them weren't expensive, but they almost all have adorable collars. I like to wear this dress with white tights and patent black brogues. White tights are something of a new discovery for me, and I love patent shoes because they remind me of being a child, and also the scene in Twin Peaks where Nadine is worried that boys will be able to see up her skirt in the reflection in her shoes.
This blog post will be short and sweet, whilst I line up some more exciting things for you to look at. I've devised what is quite possibly the perfect autumn/winter cookie, and I have to show you the recipe, even though it is what I'd call a "cheat's recipe". My fortnight has been filled with looking after an ill Hemingway, attending pre-interview tests for a library job, attending appointments as well as celebrating our four-year anniversary, hallowe'en, and our friend's birthday. It's been busy, and there are some exciting things in store for the future!
If you don't believe me about my OBSESSION with the Peter Pan Collar, why not find out how wrong you are by looking here, or here or even here.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Blackbird Tea Rooms - A Slice of Brighton's Past!

I've been in Brighton for a couple of days on tour with the Gorilla Perfume bus. Stay tuned for a post about what we've been up to, and how beautiful all of the new fragrances smell. Until then, I've got INCREDIBLE NEWS about a new tea room in Brighton.
blackbird tea room
In case you hadn't already noticed, my life is spent in constant pursuit of whimsy. When it comes to anything twee, I am basically sold. That said, I like to think I can be at least a little bit discerning with these things. Perhaps I am a connoisseur of whimsy. I like that title - let's stick with that.
My stepdad, Andrew, had been recommending me Blackbird for a while, and yesterday seemed to be the perfect time for a vintage pick-me-up. Blackbird is situated on Ship Street, nestled among several other lovely cafes and eateries. There's Marwood which caters to the slightly scruffy, absurdist, coffee aficionado, Cafe Coho which is much more slick and trendy-looking, as well as Bagelman (my all-time favourite Bagel shop on the planet). I love all of these places, and I really hope that they ALL manage to survive in a competitive area!

vintage photo collection
vintage tea collection
The interior of Blackbird manages to address my craving for all things vintage, whimsical, and ever-so-twee, whilst still seeming somehow 'fresh'. It's very easy for a vintage-style tea room to become cloying or sickeningly twee, or aggressively vintage. Blackbird avoids this completely, pairing the vintage collections of photos, postcards and tea paraphernalia with white walls and mirrors, giving the place a light and airy atmosphere.
vintage china vintage postcard collection

Andrew and I chose to sit by the window which gave us a good view of the Fabrica gallery as well as some of the cafes I mentioned above. All of the china is vintage, and matches in a delicately mismatched sort of way. I really like mismatched crockery. In fact, I'm a big fan of mismatched EVERYTHING!!
The menu offered a suitably vintage array of cakes, teas, and savoury snacks. The couple at the table next to us ordered some gorgeous little sandwiches which came cut into triangles and carefully arranged on plates. I was very tempted but it seemed like a tea-and-cake sort of an afternoon. We ordered a pot of Earl Grey for two.

Vintage Earl Grey

Andrew had a slice of the Blackbird cake, the cafe's signature cake which was essentially a Victoria Sponge with blackberry jam instead of strawberry jam. I tried a bit and I've concluded that I prefer this sort of Victoria Sponge to the original type. I ordered a coffee and walnut cake, which was fluffy and perfectly sweet. Both cakes came with mixed berries scattered around the plate. We all know how much I love cake, and this cake was mindblowing.

Ship Street Brighton coffee and walnut

Yes I know, this is two photos of the same cake from different angles. Rather gratuitous, I know, but it was a glorious cake and as such it was necessary to capture its wonderment! In the background of the photo on the right, you can see the Blackbird cake that Andrew ordered.

blackbird brighton blackbird cake

As we paid, the beautiful woman at the till asked me if I was based in Brighton as they are starting up a craft evening. I was heartbroken to have to tell them I lived in London now. Can I justify moving back to Brighton so I can drink tea, eat cake, and do some knitting with these lovely ladies? You should check out their website and facebook page for more photos and information - this may well be my favourite vintage tearoom in the country and I've been to a fair few! I will definitely be visiting again when I'm next in Brighton, and so should you - especially if you love all things vintage, waitresses with victory rolls, incredible cake, and a well-decorated toilet! (Yes, even the toilet is perfect!) I'm in love!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Walking The Cat

Salut!
How are you liking the new blog design? It's still a work in progress, but I think it's going to be super pretty when it's done!
Today, Dan and I decided to kill two birds with one stone and take some photos for the blog whilst we were taking Hemingway for a walk in the garden. He's grown so much! Remember when we brought him home for the first time? I know, I am a crazy cat-lady!
The light outside had that perfect moody-but-gentle Autumnal quality. Yes, I know, it's pretty weird to walk your cat, but I've seen far weirder animals on leashes. (Ferret on a leash, goat on a leash, teacup pig on a leash, anyone?) We live in London, and after reading that the life expectancy of an outdoor cat in London is 2 years, we decided that taking the cat out on a harness was our best bet. At least for now.
cat on a leash
Hemingway doesn't mind being on the leash at all. He doesn't exactly enjoy it when he is in the house, but once we're outside, he is too busy sniffing things and exploring to mind. This is our very overgrown garden!
red head bangs
Over the summer, we didn't use the garden as much as we anticipated, and when we looked out of the window one day, the whole patio had been overrun with ivy and creepers. The tiny little bush in the middle had turned into an enormous tree, and the garden was like a jungle. I'd love to sort the garden out so that next spring and summer we can have some little barbecues and parties. Maybe that should be our next project!
My hair is finally growing, and people have been noticing how long it is getting. I can put it in a bun now, for the first time since I was about 17, I think! Exciting stuff. It may sound mundane, but as someone who has had short hair for roughly five years, it's lovely to be able to swish my hair again! I'm sure that before long, I'll crave my neat little bob again. Such is life!
Owl Brooch Regarding accessories, I've hit a bit of a wall recently! I almost always wear a necklace, and it's usually a fairly dainty one. Much as I love my necklaces, I think it is time to branch out. Or to 'brooch out'. Ohoho. This little owl brooch is from Cath Kidston. I got it in a lovely set from one of my ex-colleagues, last Christmas. It came with a gnome and a toadstool. I'm sure they'll make an appearance at some point, if I keep trying out this whole brooch thing.
hemingway cat
Hemingway saw a little insect that needed to be chased! He goes quite well with my green tights, doesn't he? Who needs accessories with a cat as majestic as this?
Have you ever seen someone walking a strange animal on a leash? Do you think I'm weird for walking my cat?
Dress: YesStyle
Tights: H&M
Shoes: Dr Martens
Brooch: Cath Kidston
Glasses: Specsavers

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Learn to make: RAINBOW CAKE!

Chums! The time has finally come for the much-anticipated Rainbow Cake tutorial! This is how to make Rainbow Cake in the UK!

This is not a cake for the fainthearted! It contains a LOT of sugar, and a LOT of artificial colouring. It's the sort of thing I almost certainly wouldn't have been allowed to eat as a child - but now that I'm a grownup I can go absolutely WILD and bake whatever I want. Stickin' it to the maaaan.

Rainbow Cake

I made this cake for my beautiful friend Tara (who does beautiful art which you can see here) because it was her birthday. Roughly speaking, I followed the Martha Stewart recipe (which she got from somewhere else, but that's the internet, guys!), but I'll take you through what I did!

Rainbow Cake Ingredients Food Colouring

So let's start with ingredients! Obviously, Martha Stewart's recipe is American, so I had to substitute with ingredients I could find in England! I also converted all of the American measurements (cups, etc) into Metric measurements, using the wonders of Google.
Here's what I used:
* 360g (but let's be realistic, more like 400g) of Plain Flour.
* 4 teaspoons of baking powder.
* Half a teaspoon of salt.
* 250g of unsalted butter.
* 400g of white caster sugar. (1. That's an unHOLY amount of sugar, even once I reduced the amount. 2. I usually use golden caster sugar but you want the mixture for this cake to be as white as possible so that the rainbow colours shine through better, so I'd recommend white caster sugar here!)
* 5 egg whites.
* 350ml of milky milk. Skimmed or semi-skimmed is best.
* 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Not the lovely natural stuff with a syrupy texture and brownish colour. Remember, this cake is in no way natural!

Last but not least, the food colourings. These were a bit of a mission for me! I live in London, but there still appear to be less than a handful of shops that sell proper gel food colouring. I've made rainbow cakes before that have come out lacklustre and dull, despite the fact that I'd added the best part of a whole bottle of liquid food colouring! Our traditional English food colourings, whilst lovely and nostalgic in their little bottles, do not produce the bright colours you can get from American gel colours. I've tried the 'Silver Spoon' gel colours too, and they don't even come close to these 'Sugar Flair' wonders. Now, you can get them on the internet, but I made a trek to Chelsea, to visit the Jane Asher Sugarcraft shop. It's well worth a visit, if you are in the area and love cakey fun.

For the icing, you'll need:

* 500g of butter.
* 1kg of icing sugar.
* Sugar Flair 'super white'

Let's make this bloody cake then.

cake mix
cakey

Oh, I ought to mention at this point, that if you have a hand whisk, your life will be a million times easier when making this cake! Unfortunately, I do not have such luxurious items, so I did it the old fashioned way - with a wooden spoon! So, make sure your butter is lovely and soft, and mix it all up with your sugar, until it looks like a big yellowy play-dough ball!

eggwhite
cake batter

Your next move, is to separate the whites and the yolks of your five eggs. We only need the whites, because we want the cake mix to be as white as possible. Then, mix it up with your buttery, sugary joy - until it is gooey and combined!

vanilla

Then add the vanilla extract. Daintily.

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Set aside your goo, and focus on the powdery ingredients for a moment. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. There you go.

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This next bit is a little more tricky. Sift a bit of your flour mixture into your goo. Mix it up. Next, pour some of your carefully measured milk in. Mix it up. Then go back and put more of your flour mixture in. Keep alternating milk and flour until everything is smooth. Once that's done, divide your mixture into SIX BOWLS. As equally as you possibly can. Round about now, turn your oven on to preheat. (180 degrees celcius, gas mark 4, 350 degrees fahrenheit)

purple cake blue cake
yellow cake red velvet cake

Once you've divided it up into the different bowls, you can get to the super fun bit of mixing in your colouring! Start off with a tiny, tiny bit, and mix it like hell, until your mixture is pretty! Then add more! Keep going until it's really bright. Here are just four of the six colours I made. It had started to get dark outside by this point, so the colour doesn't look as amazing as it would have in daylight. Ah well.
Grease your tins with butter. You may have to improvise, and do it one layer at a time like I did, as I only have one round cake tin. It just means you will be baking for a long time. Fortunately, because each layer is very thin, they do bake quickly! They will take roughly 15 minutes, but I always check by sticking a skewer in and seeing if it comes out 'clean'. I recommend a cake tin with a bottom that pushes out, as it makes cake removal so much easier!

Photobucket

Whilst your cakes are baking, get started on the icing. This is going to involve creaming together roughly 500g of butter with a kilogram of icing sugar, give or take. You will need a LOT of icing. I weighed the cake when I'd finished, and it was about 3kg in total. Butter icing is naturally an appetising yellowish colour, but as I said before, natural is not what we want in this cake! I added Sugar Flair's "Super White" powder, which does magically make icing so much whiter! It's really cool. The key with buttercream icing is to play it by ear and keep adding icing and/or butter until it is the right consistency for you. I ended up making more as I didn't have enough to cover the whole cake. Take your cakes out of the oven, and LET THEM COOL! Never put buttercream icing on a warm cake, or everything will be ruined forever.
When they are cool, start to stack them. Start with the purple one on the bottom, followed by a layer of icing. Follow it with the blue layer, and then more icing. Each layer of icing should be lovely and thick. Keep sandwiching the cakes together in rainbow order, finishing with the red one. When you've got your amazing cake tower, cover the top and the sides in the remaining buttercream icing. Then, remove several shelves from your fridge so that you can store the monstrosity overnight.

rainbow cake
rainbow cake rainbow cake
Piece of cake

So there you have it. A mammoth post about rainbow cake! It was a slog to make, and I'd really recommend doing it with a friend, because it would be good fun and also cut down the making time a lot! Baking with friends is the best kind of baking. Give it a go. If you've got any problems or something isn't clear, leave me a comment and I'll try to help you as best I can. Happy Baking, chums! If you've managed to survive that mammoth baking session, why not have a go at these CAKE POPS I made last April!?

Friday, 5 October 2012

My Autumn Goals!

Recently, I've been looking at beautiful Autumnal pictures on lots of American blogs. Usually, they depict pumpkin patches, hearty mugs of spiced "apple cider" (Or just "apple juice" to English people such as myself!) and plenty of crispy dried leaves. Whilst these are beautiful, they don't really depict my personal experience of Autumn, which looks more like this:

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Which is dramatic, but not in a sunset maple leaf kind of way! London becomes miserable and rainy in the Autumn, and stays that way until the Spring. People get angrier, and fringes get plastered to furrowed brows by the wind and the rain. To combat this mood, I've decided to sample as many Autumnal treats as I can get my hands on! First on the list, was the most incredible toasted cheese sandwich (or "grilled cheese" as the Americans call it!)in London!

Photobucket

I bought this beauty from a stall in Borough Market, called Kappacasein. Borough Market has more delectable food stalls than I could hope to review on my blog, but this is definitely a good place to start. This sandwich was fairly expensive at £5, but it was more than worth it. Two slices of artisan bread encasing a mountain of cheese are pressed inside a large grill until the cheese starts to ooze from the sides. At this point, the person behind the stall opens the sandwich and scoops a generous helping of a finely chopped onions and herbs on, followed by even more cheese. This photo does not do justice to the amount of cheese involved in this sandwich. Finally, the extra cheese is allowed to melt, before the whole thing is wrapped in greaseproof paper and napkins.
I wandered along the Southbank, devouring this beauty. I can see why it has been featured on so many blogs before mine. It must be tasted to be believed! Borough Market is very close to London Bridge Station and can be reached via the 35 and 40 buses, among others.
Sampling sandwiches is not my only goal for this Autumn; there are others! Here's my list!

Candy's List of Autumn Goals!

- Get a job! Earn money! (Especially if I want to keep eating £5 sandwiches!)
- Try a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
- Decide how my novel is going to end.
- Write a good ol' portion of it.
- Get paid to make music.
- Start thinking about button pins for Robin!
- Write several blog posts every week!
- Send all the save-the-dates for the wedding.
- Volunteer at the library
- Re-read the first book in The Cornish Trilogy by Robertson Davies.

Music-wise, there's an Autumnal gig coming up as part of the Royal Horticultural Society's Harvest Festival. I'll be singing with Robin Grey, and there will be all sorts of fun Autumny activities including cider-tasting. (REAL cider, not just apple juice!) More info about this event is available here, but the more the merrier, so you should totes come!

To conclude, here's a picture of Hemingway, reclining in his lovely cute, Autumnal way.

Photobucket

So what are your Autumn Goals? x

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Autumn Resurrection.

Salut encore mes amis!

August and September flew by in a flurry of trying-to-be-employed-but-not-succeeding-to-be-employed, and here we are already, in October. I have a couple of lovely posts lined up for you, including a Rainbow Cake Tutorial, so stay tuned for that!

Me and Daddy Dearest

Here's a picture of my father and I (taken by my dear friend David Elbaz of GamraProductions) at Letchworth Station after a day of recording for my Dad's latest musical project. This is going to be a post in which I update you on the various musical endeavours with which I've been involved in the recent months. My Dad's old band, The Perfect Disaster (facebook and wikipedia) have somewhat reformed in order to record some new music. It's all on the horizon as we've been busy mixing and recording and doing technological magic on it, but if you can't wait here's a sneak peak of some of the new material.



So there's that. In addition to collaborating with mon père, I sing backing vocals for Robin Grey, a wonderful man who writes beautiful nu-folk tunes. I am very lucky to get to sing with him and other incredible musicians such as Basia Bartz and Caitlin Roberts who also play in Robin's band. I am aware that I am using many superlatives, and may be approaching 'gushiness' (a word I may have just invented...) Nevertheless, if you want to know what we sound like when we play together, watch this video:


Or listen to this:


Well, that's what I've been up to. I'll be posting some outfits soon, but until then, forgive me for plugging music I've been involved with! I am very excited about these projects and I want you guys to be excited too! (That's an order!) Until next time, here's a "cheeky" shot of Robin in the Abbot Street Studio recording some vocals for the new album. You should like us on facebook to see when we're playing shows, although I'll undoubtedly remind you!

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Adios! Stay tuned like I said, for the RAINBOW CAKE TUTORIAL, and to find out my AUTUMN GOALS FOR 2012!
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