Saturday, 31 December 2011

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

                                                             She moves under the mistletoe, slowly, begging to be kissed.

She wears sequins, a New Year's prerequisite, bringing her own disco ball to the party. 

A faux fur coat ensures that she won't be too cold.

The turquoise tassle earrings ensure that in case the sequin skirt, sparkly fishnets, showgirl hat, the white chiffon top contrasting with the dark bottom, or smile aren't noticed, the earrings might be.

What do you feel is necessary attire for New Year's Eve? Sparkles? A tuxedo? A bright lip?

What are You doing New Year's Eve?

Wishing you a fabulous 2012, with much love and success.

Outfit: Hat, from Grenwich Market seller; turquoise tassle earrings, Tallulah Tu; white peasant top, Forever 21; sequin skirt, Marks and Spencer girls' section.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Wrapping Idea

                       As much as I like to think Jay-Z and Eminem would go down against me in a battle, in their battling days, circa 1994, I might have some competition.

I'm not a natural rapper. I'm not a natural wrapper either.

Then I met someone who wrapped everything beautifully and saw it as integral to the present itself. I had to raise my game.

I going to give away the game. Can you handle it?

Get yourself a trademark. This year, mine is the tags. Sparkly pen on waxy leaves- it's natural, it's festive, what's not to love. I haven't only used brown paper but I do think it highlights the colour and shape of the leaves and the ribbons better. It's true that there isn't as much room to write a note, but I prefer the quick clue approach to tags.

Do you have any wrapping tips or ideas? Are you a wrapping lover or wrapping hater?


You can flavour vodka with pretty much whatever you want. My Mum does an amazing raspberry vodka. I enjoyed peach vodka through autumn (recipe below I've heard of chili vodka, butterscotch vodka (put some Werther's in the vodka, shake and let infuse for a week and then strain), and Christmas pudding vodka. I think the latter is a step too far.

Last year, I discovered the gold standard of flavoured vodkas. Limoncello. Limoncello is basically just lemons and a sugar syrup added to alcohol. It's intense, refreshing, evocative of summer and thus amazing in the winter.

Limoncello Recipe

The zest of 5 lemons
1 litre of vodka
750g of white sugar
700mL of boiling water

1. Zest 5 lemons (you don't need the juice from the lemons as the juice makes the taste more bitter, the zest just allows the lemon oil to infuse the alcohol).

2. Add 1 litre of vodka and put into bottle.
3. Shake to release the oils from the zest and shake once a day, or when you can remember, for a week.
4. Make the sugar syrup by pouring 700mL of water over 750g of sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Empty vodka and lemon mix into sugar syrup. Stir. This year I used golden caster sugar instead of white, thinking the colour would be, well, more golden. It's purer and more lemon looking with white sugar.
5. Pour mixture into bottles and shake. Continue to shake once a day for a week. Strain lemon zest from the liquid.

Although this may be a bit late to start as a Christmas present, it would be ready for New Year's Eve. It would also make a sweet birthday present or thank you to someone who really, really deserves something lovely.

Drink limoncello as a liqueur-- it is sweet-- on ice or from the freezer for maximum lemon freshness.

I made lemon curd at the same time as the limoncello (it's easy to zest and juice a few more lemons) and have been loving it with a little vanilla ice cream. Yogurt would be even more refreshing, I'm sure.  I used this recipe
and will happily again. I used the zest of a clementine and a lime, as I ran out of lemons. The photo of the zest above is actually from the lemon curd mission, hence the small orange ribbons.

What do you think? What's a sweet homemade present, given or received? 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Anna Karenina meets Boris Yeltsin

Sometimes you have a business meeting in Russia with Boris Yeltsin. I know, it happens regularly. Don't worry-- the dress code is simple. A faux fur hat, wool, a surfeit of pearls and big blonde Russian oligarch's daughter's hair. Apologies that I haven't achieved the latter.

I heard Kiera Knightley is set to play Anna Karenina. I'm ready for lots of romantic windswept scenes in the Russian snow. I do hope they give her the ubiquitous symbol of Russians: the fur hat. In the image below, the hat looks like I've swiped a part off a bear. I like to think of this as giving a sense of rugged individualism.

Below, I'm set for the business meeting, politicians' wife style.

Friday, 2 December 2011

London Lights

                People rave about how glorious New York City, Paris or wherever is at Christmas time. Christmas lights are anything but subtle and discreet- that's not the point. Yet London seems to be doing its tasteful, discreet, elegant best this year. I love that there aren't Frosty the Snowmen or Santa Claus' dominating the light landscape. London opts for umbrellas and blues.

Most Londoners don't believe the Underground is a pretty star bathed in gold. Seeing this in person had me converted.

If you're a Londoner, forget the Oxford Street crowds that you'd normally complain about- it's Christmas time, what do you expect? Just enjoy some city lights. Look up and you'll remember that London's architecture is just as pretty as any other city.

Alternatively, be the other archetypical Londoner: Scrooge, and scoff at the Christmas insanity.

I liked how this star looks like a spider's web. It's perhaps an easy metaphor to not get too caught up in Christmas or just get caught up in Christmas. Which do you prefer?