Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

Tomatoverdose Part II

In Uncategorized on August 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Further to my tomato revelations last week, yesterday, I attempted to make soup.

I roasted a kilo of them with garlic, as per Jamie Oliver’s instructions, added them to onions and balsamic, blended them, and BAM, it was ready.

I’ve never made soup before but I’ve now added it to my dinner party pieces, I’m so impressed with how easy it was. Whatever next!?

Memo to self - clean plates after service and don't allow shadows!

Flat out

In fashion, shopping on August 30, 2011 at 8:21 am

Something strange has happened to me. I’ve bought two pairs of flat shoes in the space of a week.

I’ve long been associated with my collection of skyscraper heels, but even I am recognising that as we get closer to Autumn, I’m going to spend more time in skinny jeans and less time in little dresses, so I felt that to bridge the gap between wedge sandals and warm boots, I’d better buy something a bit more suited to whizzing around shopping centres and so on, rather than tottering – which is fine for meetings, dinners and evenings, but less so for day-to-day wear. Yes, I am nearly 36 and it’s taken this long.

And so – I’ve bought two rather lovely pairs – purple patent ballerinas and a silver beaded pair. They’re pretty – nothing special – but MY, they’re comfortable.

I’m not sure I’m a convert though, I can’t see as far and I feel like a hobbit. That said, my toes don’t get those crushing, excruciating needles of pain that threaten to topple me after 15 minutes standing upright.

Nontheless, having seen these fabulous stripy shoes at Dune this month, I’m trying not to think about them.


Since they seem to be the only summer pair not reduced yet, I’m standing my ground until they are. Even I know that I’ll only wear them indoors until next May.


In decorating, Holiday, home, Italy, New York, party, shopping, Uncategorized on August 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I’ve developed a new obsession. I’ve moved on from shoes, bags and earrings to wallpaper, colour-charts and cushions – albeit temporarily. I’ve officially declared war on The Boy’s House.

Since I moved in last year, I’ve cleaned out the cupboards (six-year-old salad dressing, anyone?), streamlined the shelves and introduced my Rosanna Bowles espresso cups and my martini glasses, but desperate times call for desperate measures and it’s time to go the whole hog and start from scratch. The outdated, and frankly hideous odd peach walls in the sitting room and kitchen (in his defence, a throwback from before he moved in) will soon be a thing of the past, and I can’t wait.

Unfortunately, our sitting room is a hotchpotch of nasty artex and dado rails, so naturally we’ve had to commission the services of a plasterer to give us the smooth canvas we need before I can let loose with my shades of caramel, coffee and teal and start layering textures. Man, plasterers are expensive – top tip kids, don’t bother going to university, learn a trade and you’ll be quids in.

So, as soon as the plaster is dry, I can choose my cool colourscheme, and then get stuck into the actual fun part – namely, choosing the cushions, fireplace, lamps and picture frames, before moving onto the next room – the bedroom.

Too much to ask?

I’m having daily rows about my need for a dressing table – I’ve long coveted Sindy’s dressing table and don’t think it’s unreasonable to want somewhere to store my perfume bottles and jewellery, and to be able to sit and do my hair and make-up in peace, is it? Add to that my desire for plush damson bedding and beautiful mirrors and accessories – oh, and a chandelier – to complete my boudoir, and I think I might have my work cut out.

It WILL happen

Sadly, the kitchen is a bigger, longer-term plan (largely because I’m not prepared to forego a holiday in favour of the house), but I have an interim plan to turn our sun-trap conservatory (plus side: beautiful space, negative points: scorching in summer, frostbite-inducing in winter) into a more usable space, after all, it’s such a waste to simply use it for plants and laundry drying, with bistro-style table and chairs, inspired by the gorgeous little coffee shops we visited in Italy, while updating the kitchen in cool retro kitsch style (again, I feel this needs to be done while Adam is out to avoid interferance.)

  I’ve picked out the styles, influences and trimmings that I want, and in a truly grown up way, resisted buying lamps and cushions until we’re done, other than having bought the fab blocked mirror we fell in love with in Dwell (note – it’s big we have to have it a different way up than planned) and a fantastic canvas of the Manhattan skyline to remind us of the great holiday we enjoyed in New York. But I’m always looking…

That said, if it’s not done by Christmas, I shall be most unhappy, since we’ve inadvertantly committed to making Christmas dinner for around 16 people. What?? We’ve discussed having a Christmas or New Year party this year, which is a whole new thing for me to get obsessive about, so it’s vital that I get Project H out of the way before developing a new obsession. Expect posts about canapes and guest lists in around three months (and hope to God we don’t host Christmas lunch, I can’t cope with that level of pressure.)

Back to school (kind of)

In PR, random thoughts, shopping on August 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Much as I hate coming back from my holidays, lamenting the idle days, the blue skies, the blazing sunshine, and the general air of relaxation, I do love that ‘back to school’ feeling I get. Refreshed and content, I’m always far more positive and ready to launch myself into work again once I get back, but obviously that means I need all the right tools.

Just like when I was 11 I had to go and pick out a new pencil case and buy a new protractor and set square (like I EVER used them), so I have to go and buy a stack of crisp, posh new notebooks, ink, paperclips and files, as though I don’t have cupboards full at home, all of which, I fervently believe, will give me more pride in my work and make my clients think ‘oooh, she must be very good, look how smart her stationery is.’

I think it’s a common state of mind though – I know lots of people who love that ‘new start’ feeling – I get it at the beginning of the Autumn and on January 1st – the feeling of good intention, ambition and new challenges.

One step at a time though hey? I’ll make the first step to Paperchase.


In garden, home, Uncategorized on August 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

So this is how gardening works in our household:

Adam and I go to garden centre.

I choose nice pots, nice herbs and pretty flowers.

Adam spends four days in garden digging, mowing, composting and planting.

I sit in conservatory reading a book and occasionally saying words of encouragement.

This year, I made two exceptions:

1. I went to Chelsea Flower Show – see yesterday’s post about my spectacular lilies

2: I bought several tomato plants and planted a tomato garden.

Impressive huh?

You may mock, but take a look at it now – four months on.


I tell you what, I am turning into a positive gardening genius!

We’ve now reached this point – I have more tomatoes than we can possibly eat, even though we eat so many salads day in day out. So, since embracing my inner Monty Don was such a success, I have taken it upon myself to embrace my inner Domestic Goddess and start using them… I’ve found a recipe for tomato and basil soup in my Jamie’s 30 minute meals cook-book, so this weekend shall be largely taken up with making a batch. Fingers crossed it’s as simple as Jamie says…

In bloom

In garden, home on August 24, 2011 at 10:52 am

I’m not really the green-fingered type to be honest. I think a well-tended garden looks amazing, and I love having fresh flowers in the house, but when it comes to cultivating them and keeping them alive, I’m not in my comfort zone.

Earlier this year, I went to the Chelsea Flower Show, and was so impressed by the array of gardens and species exhibited.

Inspiring as they were, I was unable to replicate my favourites in my back garden due to the lack of a: space for a swimming pool or magic Faraway tree, and b: thousands of pounds for blue grass, sculptures and established evergreens.


What impressed me the most though, above the award-winning gardens, crazy sculptures and bespoke furniture, was the vast array of lilies. I love tulips, roses and lilies, but I’d never seen a display like these – the colours, and the scent, was overwhelming.

I couldn’t afford to buy bulbs for each variety, and amid the exhibition, I spotted the perfect candidate – standing out against the oranges, lilacs, pinks, whites and yellows, the Firebolt lilies, with their distinct deep crimson petals, caught my eye. The fact that they shared the same name as Harry Potter’s broomstick is neither here nor there, honestly.

So, having sought out the guidance of the expert team responsible, I purchased three Firebolt bulbs. They were planted back in May, and this week… this happened:

My Firebolt lilies

Needless to say, I am more than a little smug, and may well take a trip to Chelsea next year to expand my collection.

PS: For those of you that think this was completely out of character, I also bought a hat there… what can I say, I can’t help myself.

Gym’ll fix it?

In gym, health on August 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

Oh, my poor aching limbs.

It’s been a week since I started at my new gym of choice. The delight of only being 20 minutes away, compared to my previous 25-mile drive each way is beyond compare. I’ve joined Virgin Active at Solihull, and I am extremely pleased – incredibly well equipped, fancy indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and gubbins (not that I’ve tried them yet), and an extensive class table, I’m just dying to get stuck in.

I’ve been a bit of a maniac on the cardio front for the past year or so, I get a real buzz watching all the calories I’m burning notch up, but I’m all for change, so I booked an appointment with Dan yesterday, tasking him with helping me tone up my thighs, stomach and arms. I was pleasantly surprised – I’d expected him to draw me up a programme of reps on the various resistance machines and mix in a few pec flies, lat raises and so on with free-weights, but instead, he drew me up two different programmes – one centred around the PowerPlate, which I really like, and one focussed on the TRX system, the likes of which I’ve never come across before…


Basically, it looks like some kind of adventure playground, with pulleys and cables and straps hanging down. The idea is that use use these straps and pulleys to create resistance and work against them. I was set a combination of tricep exercises, squats, lunges and leg raises.


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The leg raises were my undoing – with one foot hooked into a dangling stirrup and my weight supported on my palms, I had to then raise the other leg 12 times. I felt like a monkey and after losing my balance and almost breaking my jaw, decided that it might not be my bag.

This morning, though, the screaming muscles in my thinghs suggest that the effort, and the feeling foolish, might well have been worth it, so I shall persevere.


Coming round to the Kindle

In book, random thoughts on August 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I love reading, always have, always will. Despite the attempted Great Book Amnesty of 2010, which saw me pick up books to give to charitry and then replace them back on the shelf reverently for about four days, when I swore I’d use libraries more and stop buying, I do in fact just keep on buying. And I have nowhere to keep them.

I’ve been toying with, and ultimately turning my nose up at, the idea of buying a Kindle for a while now. I love the whole experience of buying books – the smell of a book shop, the shiny, colourful, soft covers, browsing among them, reading the backs, the flyleafs, making my selections and then the anticipation of getting them home and beginning to devour them.

But this year I might have to succumb. Not only have I now filled half of my own and my parents’ homes with novels, I also can’t bear another year of cramming more books than clothes into my case for a fortnight’s holiday. Ten books, six pairs of shoes, 14 days’ clothes – one case. It just doesn’t go!

So, much as I’ll miss the feeling of fresh paper under my fingers, I think I’m going to have to give into technology. I have to think of all the extra  space I’m going to have. For shoes, maybe. Hmmm.