Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Mini Egg NOTD

Hope everyone is having a lovely Easter weekend! Bump and I are currently propped up in bed with lots of cushions, (I'm typing this before I have a nap, the pregnant woman's prerogative) I have a Lindt bunny and a little Milky Bar egg next to me and Vanity Fair which I've just begun on my Kindle. Bliss!
The mini egg themed mani has been doing the blogger rounds of late, and I too have joined in on the sweet pastel fun this weekend. I think I've worn the L'Oreal Confetti topcoat on top of almost every mani I've done recently, I love it! I think it's because the glitter is so matte and the perfect size (not too big and no bar glitter either, I hate it!) and it lies so smoothly on the nails. If only all glitter was of this grade! My favourite colour to layer it over has to be duck egg blue though. It's such a pretty and delicate combination.

Time to bite off the bunny's ears! (So very wrong of me, I know!)

From thumb to pinkie: Ciate Bon Bon, Mavala Lagoon, Max Factor Diva Violet, Max Factor Juicy Plum, Essie Navigate Her, all topped with L'Oreal Confetti.

Monday, 25 March 2013

All the small things

Sometimes it isn't a massive haul of hugely expensive stuffs that makes you smile, but a few, small, carefully chosen treats. I took myself off with just over £10 in my pocket last week to indulge myself a bit after a couple of gruelling but rewarding days catering a workshop.

Above is what I "hauled" - mostly items that made for the loveliest, most indulgent bath ever, plus a little fashion pick me up: discounted deep pink roses from Waitrose, £2.99; purple butterfly tealight holder from Poundland, £1 (obvs); Yankee Candle votive in Vanilla Cupcake, £1.70; Ferrero Rocher, Poundland, £1; Lush Yuzu and Cocoa Bubbleroon, £2.95; and H&M mint headband, £2.50.

The Yuzu and Cocoa bubbleroon from Lush is my favourite Lush product - and my favourite bubble bath product ever. It's got such a comforting sweet chocolatey scent, and despite being really softening due to cocoa butter (it's much more moisturising than a standard bubble bar) it produces a decent amount of bubbles even in my hard water area. It's conveniently made up of two half-domes stuck together so you can pull them apart and make them last for two baths! On this particular night, I was very achy and exhausted from being on my feet and cooking all day, and so I used my bookchair to prop up a copy of Grazia in the bath, lit my little Yankee Candle votive (it smells amazing!), watched the butterflies on the tealight holder flicker prettily, ate a couple of my Ferrero Rocher and listened to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald's duets (I can't say I didn't sing along). It was HEAVEN.

I also picked this headband up in H&M - I have a small, oddly square head so hard headbands don't really fit me and I find them horribly uncomfortable, but I love wearing headbands as they accentuate my fringe. I always like pastel accessories in spring (spring? ha!) because I do like the sweetness of muted pastel shades, but full block pastels look hideous on my skintone. This has perked up lots of dark wintery outfits!

This was so immensely satisfying to do - I thought quite carefully about how I was going to spend this £12, much more than I have done in the past, and I love everything I did get for it. It's the little things, as they say.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Bejewelled Tuesday: People Tree

The ethical brand People Tree is going from strength to strength, I think - the Orla Kiely and other designer collaborations, beautiful organic cotton frocks, lovely block prints and affordable prices for great quality ethical pieces means it's a brand loved by many. I especially love that so many pieces are produced in Bangladesh and use traditional techniques like block printing and embroidery.

But did you know that they do some lovely jewellery? I'd never really paid attention to their jewellery before, thinking it might all be a bit too chunky for my tastes. But they do some lovely, lovely jewels.

Some of these pieces remind of me of the much pricier NW3 at Hobbs jewellery range, with their whimsical charms and bright colours. The hoop earrings and star necklace would look so amazing with a bright coloured maxi dress, they make me dream of summer. My favourite, though, is the brass charm bracelet. I just love the colours and the quirky little forest themed charms.

Bird earrings, currently £6.40

Cream collar necklace, reduced to £9.60

Brass charm bracelet, £8

Palm leaf bracelets, £6

Brass star necklace, £26
Beaded hoop earrings, £12

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Maps... they don't love you like I love you

Ah, the song lyric blog title cliche!* But it's true, both Bartimaeus and I love maps. They are fascinating representations of the world - but they also structure how we think about space and others. We have both used The Peters Projection and this, our favourite West Wing scene, in our teaching in order to get students thinking about how maps have always played a role in global power relations. Did you know how tiny Britain actually is in comparison to the African continent?

So when I saw this scarf on ASOS I couldn't but love it immediately! I already have a spinning globe pendant that's one of my favourite charm necklaces, but an actual map on a scarf? Amazing.

Warehouse at ASOS, £22

Then I had a google and came across these beautiful, but much more expensive chiffon map scarves. Though I think that limiting the designs to Europes, the States and Britain is somewhat parochial - especially given the rise of the Asian designer consumer!

Faliero Sarti, £222

Actually, these map scarves from Korea are my favourites of the bunch I think - I love the range of colours and the generous size. 

Ebay, £11.41

Ebay, £11.41

*Actually I was rather disappointed to find out that this song isn't really meant as a tribute to all things cartographical but as a somewhat needy plea to Karen O's musician lover of the time who was leaving for a tour. Whatever. It's about maps to me.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bejewelled Tuesday: Oscars highlights

Although I love awards ceremonies and all the glamour of the gowns, to be honest, this year's Oscar offerings generally left me cold fashion-wise. Too. Many. Pale. Pastels. Yawn. Why are Hollywood actresses in general so afraid of colour?

Anyway, I thought a different take on the usual dress deconstructions might be to take a look at some of the jewels, because there were a few very pretty sparkly accessories going on. Here are my favourites.

I think in terms of dresses, Olivia Munn and Jennifer Garner were two of my favourites, each opting for rich, luxe, bold jewel tones in a sea of eau-de-meh. Their jewels didn't let them down either.

Olivia Munn's little gold studs PRECISELY demonstrate why I think this size of stud can be so very flattering for the face. With her baroque gold and rich burgundy gown, they were just enough in terms of accessories, allowing the dress centre stage but framing her gorgeous face perfectly too.

Ah Jennifer Garner, I love thee in so many ways as it is. But really, a pewter (possibly blackened rhodium?) and diamond set paired with a rich violet gown? I swoon at the combination.

Now here's a pair of statement earrings courtesy of CZJ (I wasn't a fan of her dress much, there's always something a bit to "cabaret" about her gowns that's very aging). I adore the jumbled pave setting (look closely and you can see pearls adding dimension to the gems) and think a pair like this would be a beautiful modern option for an Indian bride.

Winner Jennifer Lawrence. People are divided on both the dress and the award, but what I really adore is the delicate gemstone necklace draped across her decollete and down her back. It's just breathtaking. I'm not as keen on the chunky round leverback earrings which don't seem to go with it, in my opinion but the necklace with the simple yet statement gown was stunning, fresh and delicate.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rabbit Recipes: Chilli Paneer

This is Bartimaeus' favourite dish, and the recipe is here as requested by the Monkey. I make it two ways - of late I've been doing it this way which is quicker, and I actually think, tastier than the long-winded recipe I used to use (where you coat the paneer cubes in a mix of ginger, garlic, egg and cornflour, fry, set aside and then add to the veg at the end). This is actually crispier (the egg coating actually slides off the cubes when you re-add them to the pan, leaving them soggy and without flavour). Some versions call for vinegar and tomato ketchup - they also make the dish soggy, and they just overpower all the zinginess of the chillies and ginger so I have always left them out.

This is a dish from a curious cuisine known as Indo-Chinese (I'll post up my recipe for non-deep fried "vegetable Manchurian" another day) which is basically an Indian take on Chinese food. That said, there is a distinct Indian-Chinese cuisine that developed in Calcutta as a result of Chinese migrant workers who lived there, as I found out from attending a presentation by a fascinating anthropology project - but I don't really know if this authentic Indian-Chinese fusion food bears any resemblance to its wildly popular Indian counterpart. There's also Chinese cuisines that use chilli and spices that are more reminiscent of India - basically, there's a lot of crossover going on!

1 red onion, sliced
1.5 tbsp minced ginger paste (I grate frozen ginger, it's much easier to work with)
1.5tbsp minced garlic
400g paneer block cut into cubes (I love chopping up paneer, it's so satisfying)
1 fat red chilli and 1 fat green chilli, sliced into rings (deseeded if they're too spicy for you - have a nibble at one to check!)
1/2 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper, sliced
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
5 spring onions, chopped
handful chopped fresh coriander

1. Add 3tbsp of sunflower or vegetable oil to your wok and heat until quite hot.
2. Add cubed paneer and fry untill golden brown on all sides and crispy.

3. Turn heat down to medium.
4. Add sliced red onions to the pan and fry briskly until a bit softened. Then add 1tbsp of each of the ginger and garlic, and the chillies, and mix thoroughly and fry off for a couple of minutes.

5. Add sliced peppers and turn up heat, frying them briskly. Add the remaining ginger and garlic. Add soy sauce so it sizzles, and then salt to taste. Allow peppers to char a bit. There should be a nice dark brown glaze by now, if not, add a bit more soy sauce.

6. Toss in spring onions and coriander, stir through, and take off the heat.

Recently, I've been serving this with spiced noodles, but I actually also really like this served with plain basmati rice - the cleanness of the rice and the savouryness of the paneer is just lovely. The proper Indo way would be to eat this alongside a couple of other dishes (like the above veg Manchurian) with a stack of fried puffed breads called puris.