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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Friendship after university

white people on a log
Leaving university means it is much harder to see your friends. It’s one of those sad facts about growing up, and like all of the sad facts of adulthood, whilst you know they’re going to happen, it still comes as a bit of a shock.
That said, you soon realise, once you no longer live in the same house as all of your friends, that you can still love them and be close to them even if you live far apart. For the last three years, we’ve all either lived, or spent a lot of time in London, so despite the initial shock of not living together, we’ve not been all that far apart. But by the end of the summer, we are all going to be living in different towns, and that’s kind of scary. Still, think of all the housewarming parties, and mini-roadtrips we get to take in order to visit one another – got to look on the positive side, right?

We went on a little trip back to Cambridge to bid farewell to a few old friends and professors who are moving on to bigger and better things. While we were there, we took a lovely trip to the Botanical Gardens to frolic among the flowers and pose on tree stumps and so forth.
Sunny Cambridge
UK Women Short Hairstyle
Pinecone hunting fun
Sensitive man with animals
daisy Cambridge Botanical Gardens
Save the bees Cambridge
Reservoir Dogs in Colour
Some of the photos in this post were taken by the legendary musical and photographic polymath, Francis Knights. Some of them were taken by my dear friend Dr (OMG!) Dyer. The dress I’m wearing is from Joy, and the cardigan is from H&M.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

My Grandma's Dress

70s Vintage dress
A little while ago, one of my grandmothers sent me a dress in the post. She lives in Australia and I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I’d like to. In the parcel with the dress was a little note explaining that her sister had made the dress for her in the 70s, as she was going to be a bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding. She was going to get rid of it, when my mum suggested that she could send it to me.
As soon as I unwrapped, it, I tried it on straight away, and it fit perfectly. It’s so purple and patterned, and I can’t wait to wear it to some kind of picnic or barbecue, or other summery event. I love how 70s it is, and how different it is from anything I normally wear. Most of all, I like that it was my grandma’s, and that there isn’t another dress like it in the world.
Grandma's Vintage Dress
70s fashion in London
Genuine Vintage dress
Here’s my grandma and her friend who was getting married. What a classic photo, and how stunning they both look! I feel honoured to be giving this dress a new lease of life. I love hand-me-downs (or Hammydowns, as I once thought they were called. But that’s another story for another day…)
Old photo of Grandma
Posing like Grandma
Thank you Grandma Helen for this beautiful dress.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Last-minute Champagne Chic

Quick Champagne Party
Sometimes, you've just got to be a bit decadent, am I right? I mean, whatever decadence means to you in particular, I don't think there's anything wrong with doing something for the sake of it from time to time. Even if decadence is just a bar of chocolate or putting on an old party dress to do the dishes, frivolity is important, if you ask me. Which you didn't. But there you go - I'm telling you anyway.
This weekend just gone, Dan and I took a last-minute trip to Cambridge for a lunch at my old college at university. We met up with lots of dear friends and it was lovely to catch up with everyone in a familiar but somehow alien setting... I feel odd being in Cambridge without feeling STRESSED! Anyway, as well as catching up with friends, we spent the night at Dan's parents' house because they live in the middle of the beautiful countryside nearby, and we fancied crashing the garden party they were holding in the village. I hadn't really brought any appropriate party clothes with me, but I found that I actually had some clothes that I'd left at their house, including this black pencil dress that I bought for a funeral many years ago. Since the theme of the garden party was 'Champagne and Jazz', it seemed vaguely appropriate in a sort of "last minute Champagne chic" kind of way... And really, there are few events where a 'little black dress' would be wildly inappropriate, don't you think?
Little Black Dress Cambridge
Sunny Cambridge Party
When we arrived at the house, it was only about twenty minutes before the beginning of the party, so as soon as I found the black dress in the wardrobe amongst Dan's childhood clothes, I chucked some gold eyeshadow at my eyes and hoped for the best. I find that as a glasses-wearer, you can get away with a fair amount of error, especially if you have really enormous nerd glasses with thick ol' lenses in them like I do! Sometimes, I put on eye makeup that I think is really bold and statementy, and then when I put my glasses back on, it barely looks like I'm wearing any at all. Do any of you have this problem?
Gold Makeup ideas
English country garden
No party would be complete without some little nibbles on sticks. I can claim no credit for these, as they were all made by my mother-in-law, whose philosophy on cooking emphasises flavour over fuss - an excellent food philosophy if you ask me. These simple canap├ęs are made of little cubes of good quality feta cheese, topped with a generous sliver of sun-dried tomato, all skewered together on a dainty little cocktail stick. There was another plate with olives instead of tomatoes, and they were delicious too. Everyone at the party thought they were great, and what with the glorious weather and the Champagne flowing, it seemed that the party was a real success.
Easy Canape Idea
Bourgeois ridiculous
Have you ever been to a party unexpectedly? It's a lot of fun to embrace some unexpected decadence, and to feel fancy with limited resources. I think it's really important to remind yourself every once in a while that you are capable of being a classy mofo if you need to be. Life lessons, guys.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

How to make: Strawberry & Basil Drinks!

Strawberry basil Mojito
There's nothing more summery than a fruity drink, am I right? I've been wanting to try a Strawberry and Basil Mojito since I found out they were a thing, and since we were invited to a summer party yesterday, I thought it was the perfect time to make a Strawberry and Basil syrup. It's not difficult at all, and I'm just about to show you how I did it!
Summer Punch Ingredients
You will need:
- Strawberries (I used 2 400g punnets, but kept back about four strawberries for decoration)
- One lemon
- A cup of FRESH basil (or a couple of handfuls).
- A cup of sugar
In addition to this, you'll need a blender, a sieve or muslin cloth, a couple of bowls and a saucepan.

The first thing you need to do is to remove all the little green hats from the strawberries, and discard them. Then, transfer all the strawberries (except for some pretty ones you've kept back for decoration) into a blender. If you don't have a blender, I think you could probably get away with mashing them all up with a fork, but it will take a while!
Blended Strawberries
Once you've blended the strawbs, pour all the goop into a sieve, or even better, a sieve with a muslin cloth placed into it, and press all the juice through with the back of a spoon. Make sure you've got a bowl underneath the sieve, otherwise you're just straining strawberry juice onto your kitchen counter for no reason...
Sieve the strawberry smoothie
Set your strawberry juice aside, and squeeze the juice out of a whole lemon. You can pour the lemon juice straight into the bowl with your strawberry juice at this stage. If some pips make it in, don't worry too much because you'll be straining it all again in the end anyway.
cute lemon squeezer
Sugar cup
Basil leaves on kitchen counter
Measure out your sugar, and plop it in with the strawberry and lemon juice mixture, along with a load of basil leaves. Decant it into a saucepan (non-stick is easiest for cleanup) on a medium kinda heat, and stir it until it's been boiling for about five minutes, until it becomes sticky and... well... syrupy! Once it has reached that stage, turn off the heat and leave it to cool, before straining it through the sieve again, to get the basil out. This recipe makes a lot of syrup, but you can halve the recipe to make a more manageable amount of surup. That said, you can store it in a jar or a bottle in the fridge and it'll last a week or two, so if you end up with tons, NEVER FEAR.
Summer strawberry alcoholic
If you mix this syrup with rum and soda water, it makes an excellent 'Mojito-style' drink. It also works really well on its own with fizzy water, and some of my friends at the party tried it with sparkling wine and said it was super tasty, so it's a pretty versatile little syrup. The strawberries are sweet and delicious, and the lemon and basil give it a bit more of a grown-up, earthy taste.
If you'd like me to do more drinks recipes, let me know. I really enjoyed making this tutorial for you - let me know in the comments if you've got any questions, if you've made the drink, and if you've got any suggestions for other drinks you'd like me to make!
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