Still Living Gorgeously

Just no time to write about it.

You've probably all suspected as much, given the recent lack of posting, but Helen and I have decided to stop writing here.

Since we started the blog at the beginning of the year I've started doing up a house and garden in Seattle and Helen has stopped being a student, got a new job, moved house and got herself engaged and we're just TOO BUSY to do the blog justice.

It's making us really sad to call it a day - we've 'met' many wonderful people through this blog and really enjoyed all your comments and ideas.  Please catch up with us on our personal blogs - mirrormirror (Paola) and Beholden (Helen) or else at mirrormirror (Paola's online lifestyle shop) or on Countryside Weddings (Helen's beautiful new wedding blog).

We'll still be trying to live gorgeously and posting up as many gorgeous recipes and ideas on our personal blogs as we can.

Adieu.  And thank you.

A Scrumptious Summer Salad

A wonderfully easy and scrummily successful salad made for the Sis’ birthday party was a potato and green bean salad adjusted from a recipe in a free supermarket magazine.

It couldn’t have been simpler to make, which was handy, as we scaled it up to satisfy 80 tipsy young people.

Boiled new potatoes

Caramelized red onions

Boiled ‘green’ beans – we used broad beans, peas and runner beans

Tossed together while warm with a dressing of half white wine to extra virgin olive oil.

Leave to cool to room temperature then serve with a sprinkling of chopped macadamia nuts (we used cashews).

It was served alongside a hog roast, quiches, a green leaf salad and a couscous salad, but I think would work as a good foil to any summer barbeque or grilled meat.

I think a garnish or fine chopping of mint could have worked nicely or the addition of chunks of feta .As it was, though, with no risk of curdling mayonnaise, it was perfect for a summer party in the sunshine.

My Gorgeous Bling

is a 1950s natural sapphire and two brilliant cut diamonds in a platinum setting on a white gold band.

I think I may just be the luckiest girl in the world.

A rather gorgeous evening

Pictures will of course follow, but there are a couple readers who may be interested in my news...

Sausage & Spinach Pie

What to eat? It’s summer, but it’s grey and close.

It’s Sunday and you’ve been working 9 days in a row.

You don’t like red meat (except sausages), your partner won’t eat fish. He’s on his last day of an 11-day shift and you want to treat him.

You get yourself to Nigella and pray that inspiration comes in a cupboard-friendly recipe.

A pie! Comforting, satisfying, servable warm with salad and cold for lunches for the rest of the week.

You can’t make pastry, but hey! There’s a twelfth time for everything. Now… which pie, with which filling, can your full but dinner-free fridge fulfil?*

Sausage. Spinach. Breadcrumbs. Eggs. Hoorah. There is a feast here after all.

The pastry worked a dream. God bless Nigella and all who sail in her – I’m claiming the addition of egg yolks to the dough as the pertinent binding ingredient.

I cooked it late afternoon and by dinner at 7pm it was just warm, perfect with a side salad of tomatoes and mozzarella on spinach.

And guess what, it’s gorgeous cold for lunch, too.

This picture taken hastily by the Boy before snarfling the whole piece! Apologies!

I think this may just become a picnic staple.

* Does anyone else manage to do that? Spend £80 in Sainsburys only to have nothing for dinner and a fully stocked and useless fridge? We’ve been eating fried halloumi with Chinese soup this week…

Berry Pavlova

If you're staring out of the window waiting for the rain to stop, then this is the perfect dessert to get you into a summery mood.  And if you're sweltering in 100 degrees then this the perfect light dessert to cool you down. 

It's also a great way of using up the last of the summer soft fruits and, because it's entirely made out of whipped air and fruit, must have very few calories indeed. (This may not be entirely true - Ed).

Having tested a few different pavlova recipes over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the best is from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat  (which comes via an Australian foodwriter Stephanie Alexander).  Aussies and Kiwis apparently argue about who invented pavlova - I'm just glad someone did.

Nigella's/Stephanie's recipe is pretty much a standard pavlova recipe including both a teaspoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of cornflour. The clever bit is that they suggests preheating the oven to 180°C (350°F), then reducing the temperature to 150°C (300°F) when it goes in the oven.  Then after cooking for an hour, the oven is turned off and the pavlova is left in the oven overnight to cool completely.

The aim is to get a pavlova which is crunchy on the outside but is soft and meltingly chewy, a bit like marshmallow, inside.  You may need to experiment a bit.  The above timings were perfect for my oven in London, but my pavlova here cooked too quickly and went a bit too brown.  I managed to salvage it by turning the oven right down and the texture was still pretty much as it should be. Ideally though the meringue should be whiter than in the picture.

I topped mine with raspberries and sliced strawberries.  The very best pavlova in the world though is topped with passionfruit pulp (as in Nigella's recipe below).

Recipe from 'How to Eat'

Film Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

You could feel the tension bubbling beneath the hushed giggles and gossip in the packed out cinema. The manager of this newly-built complex hurried to the front to welcome first-timers in the hope of wooing their future return. Noone listened, all waiting for the curtains to pull back and the now-familiar swooping notes of the Harry Potter theme to fill their ears.

The time had come.The dementors, the wands, the incantations, the fabulously saccharine wardrobe of Dolores Umbridge (the character, costume and dark punishment methods each deserving their own Oscar), the children’s roles developing along with their facial hair. Potter was back, with a new director, a slightly altered (and I have to say, less satisfactory) score and many more hormones to boot. Hermione Grainger knows no acting skills, I’m afraid, but I’m delighted to say that Ron and Harry have grown into their parts with aplomb demonstrating maturity and subtlety that is used to develop the parts beyond the merely perfunctory. Luna Lovegood proves herself a gifted addition to the cast and the development of Nigel (the eager first-year fan of Harry) and Neville Longbottom are welcome and skilled.

This director showed his skills in set-piece scenes. The post-Harry/Cho-kiss dissection between the three best friends was aglow with giggles, the swooping travels through London on broomsticks with accompanying swooping score, the bonding conversations between Sirius and Harry were each in their own right beautiful moments of cinema.

As ever, though, the books far outweigh the films in detail, narrative and character and plot development. Once again, the director and editor can do little beyond provide the edited highlights, depending ultimately on an audience love of the books, or an acceptance of sudden and unexplained scene shifts with little or no support. Harry and his friends fly to London, and ‘appear’ in the hall of the Ministry of Magic (the set of which sits imagnitavely between 1984, the London Underground tiling and the vaulted carvings of  Whitehall– kudos to the design team). Cut to them in the Chamber holding the prophesies with no explanation of how they got through the various doors, vaults and corridors in between. Frustrating episodes such as this jar only momentarily, though, in an engaging and fast-paced film which will certainly delight fans and non-converts alike.

Accio DVD!!

How Green is Your Summer?

By Mary Jo Matsumoto

The “green revolution” seems to be here for good, and the best part of the hoopla is that the selection of sustainable and organic products just keeps getting better. The downside is that there’s so much hype around it, sometimes it’s difficult to tell what’s truly good for the planet and what’s just a good excuse to charge a few more dollars. Because it’s such a new market, the nuances of what makes using organic better than non-organic, and why sustainable fashions might actually help the planet the most, are often lost on consumers. As one of my friends recently pointed out, “If you served spotted owl at the dinner table it might be organic, but not necessarily sustainable.” Here are some of my fav new stylish, sustainable, and sometimes organic products that might make your summer a little greener.

Frequenting the cultural festivals near her local hometown in Mexico, designer Olga Abadi discovered the ancient Mayan technique of binding everyday materials into useable products. Abadi’s take on the crafting technique involves turning hundreds of candy wrappers and soda labels into fully functional, fun and stylish handbags The result is Nahui Ollin, a specialty line of handbags inspired by age-old techniques that sustain the environment through recycling materials collected from small, independent factories in Mexico. Not only are they adorably colorful, they are extremely durable and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. My favorite is the tutti frutti clutch, great for toting cosmetics in my bigger bag, and perfect when I want to carry a smaller bag.

If you read my blog, http://www.trustyourstyle.com, it’s not a big surprise that I’m a huge fan of organic cosmetics. I also live in sunny Southern California, so when the organic cosmetic manufacturers I’ve been interviewing started telling me that products containing SPF are not necessarily good for your skin, I freaked! The answer? Very old fashioned advice: wear a hat. The one I recommend is Wallaroo because they use UPF 50+ fabric which has been tested by the Australian Radiation Protection Agency and found to block 97.5% of the sun's ultroviolet rays. Best of all they come in tons of fun colors, prints, and neutrals plus there’s 15 styles. I’m partial to their best-seller, The Casual Traveler.The rounded top and 4" adjustable brim keeps your face and neck protected and a hidden interior drawstring ensures one size fits most. It’s crushable, packable, and ready for your next trip to the beach. For more information go to www. Wallaroohats.com or call (303) 494-5949.

This little suit may not be “green” in an environmental way, but it’s definitely a keeper that you will want to wear for seasons to come. (That qualifies as ‘sustainable’ doesn’t it?) Green poster girl, Cameron Diaz, was snapped everywhere she went wearing this green Le Doux bikini and I predict you will be too. The Le Doux “Lollipop” suit can be viewed at www.ledouxswimwear.com or call 1-888-284-2420 to order.

You don’t usually think of fashionable makeup and the organic movement, but think again! Afterglow Cosmetics offers a truly natural blend of pure mineral makeup with organic infused sparkling colors for a high-fashion look that’s actually safe for your skin and ideal for women with rosacea, acne and sensitive skin. Most impressively, Afterglow products have continuously been among the most highly rated for safety on the Environmental Working Group “Skin Deep Report” website. Chose from neutral colors for a bit of subtle sparkle during the day or a more sophisticated color palate for your most formal evenings out. Afterglow’s Organic Mineral Eyeshadow comes in 25 shades that will take you from day to evening and can be ordered at www.afterglowcosmetics.com

I am always a sucker for a company that makes the move into the all-natural realm, so I’m very excited to include Tarte in this roundup. I’ve always loved their products, especially their blush, that’s why I am so happy that they are now introducing their first all-natural cheek stain, Natural Beauty. Made with a preservative -free proprietary berry complex that includes blackberry, goji, acai, cranberry, pomegranate, and currant, it provides the same wonderful flush they are known for. I’m also loving their new Inside Out vitamin infused lipsticks that are preservative and paraben free and contain Vitamin C, A, E, and K, grape seed, lychee, green tea, acai, and chamomile extracts, plus jojoba, shea butter, and beeswax. I adore the old fashioned square cases that the lipsticks come in which make applying easy and fun. Available in Sweet Dreams (dusty pink rose), Zen (plum-berry), and Revive (true red). Tarte’s new Natural Beauty cheek stain will be available exclusively at Sephora and their Inside Out vitamin-infused lipsticks can be found at www.tartecosmetics.com, Sephora, and Bergdorf Goodman..

Who says organic can’t be luxurious? Under the Canopy’s 100% organic cotton Kimono Robe is soft and enveloping, not to mention free of

chemicals—just the thing to slip on before or after hitting the spa. Available

at Origin and Aveda stores and online at www.underthecanopy.com.

 

 

 

 

I’m heading out in a couple of days to sample a few organic spa treatments at the lovely Hanua Spa at Hotel Hana Maui. Voted the ‘Most Excellent Spa Hotel US’ by Condè Nast, Hanua spa uses an expansive base of organic ingredients. I’m hoping to have a very green not to mention relaxing visit and be back soon to talk about end of the summer fashions..

Wishing you many more green days!

June Photo Competition - Results

*Blushes*.  Oh well, only a few weeks late.

This month's judge was Kenzie Kate from incredibly gorgeous wedding blog 'Something Old, Something New' which makes me wish I wasn't already married.

Here's what Mackenzie had to say.

June here in New York is always a mixture of joy and doom. Joy from eating outside and unhurried walks out-o-doors and the return of leafy shade on the city streets. Doom from the impeding oppressive heat of July and it's subsequent air conditioning bills. So many of these images really capture the joy of June for me. Having never judged a photo contest before, (and feeling a little drunk off the power of it all), I'm having a surprisingly hard time choosing between all the glorious springtime shots! I hardly ever have a hard time choosing anything, so this says a lot about all the contributing photographers.

In my opinion the most joyous, June-ish image in the bunch was the purple water-lily drinking in the sun by trykemom. (trykemom, can you email us an image?  We'd love to be able to include it here).

 I want to BE the little purple flower. All bathed in sun, sitting by a sparkling stream. The lily actually looks comfortable to me, both warmed and cooled by mother nature. A perfect match for the season.

Having said that, an honorable mention would have to be awarded to the shady cabin view from Aunt Owwee. The technicolor glory of this little paradise really captures the feeling of vacation, (one of my favorite June activities). Everything has the well watered look of early summer, all dried off from the deluge of spring, warming in the sunshine.

 

 

 

 

 

Another honorable mention is deserved by cally creates for her June in Scotland image.. I'd love to see that little wildflower enlarged to about 4' x 5', hung a lofty space with lots of light and air. (Again, Cally, we'd love to include the image here, if you can email it).


And lastly, but not leastly, a hearty bravo to everyone who contributed. Even though you all made it really hard for me to decide, I had a great time doing it.

Congratulations to all.  The theme for this month's competition is astonishingly 'July'.  We'll be setting up the competition next week, but in the meantime get snapping your shots of drinking martinis on yachts, setting fire to things on barbecues, lying about in hammocks etc. etc.

Il ne pleut pas

Whereas here in Seattle I'm currently living a very gorgeous life.  I'm just too busy playing in the sun to find the time to write about it. 

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So now I understand why everyone suffers through the rain and gloom of a Pacific Northwest winter. We're off for a long weekend to the Oregon coast, after which I'm hoping a more normal blogging service will be resumed.  I might even tell you about our Fourth of July party.

Il pleut

All I can say is, it's very hard to live a gorgeous summer in these sorts of conditions.

Harry Potter 5 Film Review... coming tomorrow. Too excited to write more now...

Jolly Holidays

Prince William dances at a memorial concert for his mother, Diana, Princess of WalesWe're all packed for our caravanning holiday in North Wales so I will leave you in Paola's capable hands until my return. Had an amazingly gorgeous week in the presence of mighty musicians and will show and tell all on my return.

Let me introduce myself...

I have been planning weddings since I was a teenager. I worked in my mother's fabric shop on Saturdays when most of the customers were bridal parties ranging from the 'can you copy this picture of a dress' through to 'I have no idea what I want, can you help me with ideas' brides. We've had catty sisters-in-law, overbearing mothers, bored bridesmaids and really sweet grooms (and everything in between).

The reign of the internet has now changed how you can plan and research your wedding and there are thousands of sites out there discussing locations, styles, themes, favours and STDs (that's Save-The-Dates to the uninitiated!)... When surfing recently, though, I found there was no one site for weddings in the UK in rural locations. No central directory for barns, fields and licenced sites that aren't hotels or stately homes. And nowhere offering advice as to extra precautions required in those situations: flies, marquees, rain and so forth.

And so, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my new (third!) site: A Countryside Wedding.

Let me know what you think and I hope to see you and your friends dropping by there sometimes to look at the pretty flowers and dresses! 

Clafoutis

  

So brace yourselves for a raft of cherry recipes coming up - the cherries on our tree are getting riper by the second.

In celebration of our first batch I made an immense cherry clafoutis.  When I was a student living in the South West of France many moons ago this dessert appeared on the menu everywhere in cherry season. It apparently originated in the Limousin, an area famous for its cherries, but is now found all over the Languedoc and indeed most of France.  

A clafoutis is essentially fresh fruit baked in an egg-y, vanilla-y, creamy custard, thickened slightly with flour. It is traditionally made with cherries, but other fruits such as apricots, plums and pears can also be used very successfully.

The best recipe I've found today is adapted from Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of South West France a book which really is not as well known as it should be. 

Cherry Clafoutis

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds cherries

3 tbsps plain flour

Large pinch of salt

4 tbsps granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 egg yolks

14 fl. oz whole milk + 2 fl. oz single cream, heated and kept warm

1 1/2 tsps vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of kirsch or some other fruity eau-de-vie or grappa (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C/Gas mark 4.

Find a 10 in wide cake pan or shallow earthenware dish or porcelain gratin dish and butter it extravagantly.

Wash your cherries and pit them if desired.  The clafoutis is much easier to eat with pitted cherries but purists swear it tastes better if they're left unpitted. And it's much less fiddly to prepare.  I think it tastes amazing either way.

Arrange your cherries in a single layer over the bottom of the dish making sure there are no gaps.  Cram in as many as you can.

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.

In a second bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks and then add the warmed milk and cream, whisking all the time. Add flavourings.

Stir the egg mixture into the flour.

When well blended pour the custard over the cherries.

Bake in the oven until it is set quite firm and is golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.

Dredge thickly with granulated sugar while still warm and serve either lukewarm or cold from the fridge with pouring cream if you dare.

A Reminder and a Request

First of all I'd like to remind you about this month's photo competition, which closes on the 30th.  Lots of beautiful June colour up there now - give yourselves a treat and have a peek.

June in the San Juans, Pacific Northwest

For those of you having trouble entering (Maryam, I'm looking at you), you need to first click on the group and then hit 'Join this Group' (bottom right of the page).  When the group is duly joined go the photo you want to enter and hit the  'Send to Group' button above it.  The 'Year of Living Gorgeously - June' should now appear on your list of eligible groups.

My request is as follows.  Readers of my other blog will know that we've somehow fallen into hosting a Fourth of July party here in Seattle (the irony of Brits holding a party for the Fourth of July is not lost on us, but it transpires that we should have a great view of the fireworks from our roofdeck).

However, we have absolutely NO IDEA what goes into making a successful Fourth of July extravaganza. (My chiropractor suggests hotdogs, jello and Bud Light which all sounds faintly revolting).  Please let me have any ideas which have worked well for you or point me in the direction of any online recipes or decorative ideas I can steal. 

All the best ideas will also be featured next month on Gorgeously, with very grateful thanks.

A mid-year gorgeous pause...

As the summer solstice passes us by in a deluge of rain and flooding (God love England), it seems only right to mark this mid-point with a few thoughts on my atttempts to live gorgeously so far.

Certainly, this blog has encouraged me to bake even more than I usually would and expand my culinary repetoire beyond the safe and straightforward. Not all ventures have been wholly successful but I have explored beyond my usual confines with a courage and a determination that some might call brazen.

I am usually a fast and furious reader, but with the advent of my bike, I've lost my precious book-time on the buses. That, combined with studies demanding much less interesting concentration, has left me staggering from one gorgeously read to the next. Without this blog, I would probably have left reading for pleasure altogether. That, however, may very well have been a good thing as more often than not, I have been left a wreck.

Photography is never going to be my strength, but I have really enjoyed seeking inspiration from your images and attempting to improve my own. I fear Paola will eternally excel me in this category, as her flickr hits can attest!

All in all, I have enjoyed having the impetus to get projects made and look for events and posting potential in my day to day existence. I have stitched, baked and viewed, all in the name of blogland and, considering the pecuniary disadvantage I have had this year, it's been going pretty well! I'm looking forward to the next few months and, if this dreadful weather is anything to go by, I'll have plenty of reasons to stay indoors and get bloggorgeous!

Finally, a brief pat on the back to myself and all the fabulous helpers we enlisted at the major fundraising push that took place this Saturday. There are more images here, but a taster of our Summer Fete is below. We even had media coverage. The weather managed to stay reasonable all morning and rain called off play at 3pm, not before we took home a tidy £800 from sales of plants, cakes, books, craft projects, jams, chutneys, old toys and face painting. With a local bank pledging to match us up to £750, we are delighted that we now only have £800 to make by next February. I will be auctioning off the leftover craft items in the coming weeks and promise to let you know when and where you can find them.

Here's to a gorgeous rest of year, with many more projects, discussions and loveliness promised.... Oh, and maybe even some kitchen disasters too... You never know.

Paper Magic

As readers of my other blog will know, it is my little sister's 21st birthday this summer. She is ultra-groovy and much more trendy than me and is having a black tie garden party at our parents' house in Cheltenham.

In order to rein her rugby loving friends into suitable levels of dress and behaviour, I suggested a suitably formal invitation. The theme is 'Black Tie with a Hint of Pink' and the order of the day was economic style!!

We came up with A5 text printed onto acetate (clear plastic) and then tied through punched holes with pink organza ribbon onto cream handmade paper inlaid with pink rosepetals.  I used the back of a ruler to tear the paper into shape to continue the rural, country look. This all sounds much more complicated that the process actually was: an afternoon in front of a couple of Harry Potter's and it was all done!

The flower which embellishes the text is *ssshhhh* the tatoo that she has on her left butt cheek...See I told you she was a classy girl.

This is the finished article...

 

And the final cost was 24pence per invitation, including envelopes.

The Princess and the Peas

There is nothing more summery than shelling peas outside on a warm evening.  I've never been particularly fond of frozen peas, but freshly podded peas are another thing entirely. It amuses me that here in the US they are called 'English peas' - for yes, there is nothing more quintessentially English, even though nowadays it's really difficult to get fresh peas in an English supermarket.

Yesterday evening we fired up the outside grill, roasted a chicken, baked some potatoes and whipped up this salad from Nigella's seminal How to Eat.

The recipe makes it sound it sound more complicated than it is. All you do is take some shelled peas, boil them briefly until the cooked but still firm to the bite (2 -3 minutes for mine) and then marinade them while still warm in a goodly slurp of olive oil,  a couple of teaspoons of white wine vinegar, lots and lots of chopped mint and a teaspoon of sugar.  I forgot to put the sugar in last night but my peas were so sweet they didn't really need it.

If possible, marinade the peas for at least an hour.  Then separate the leaves from a couple of endives, add chunks of the butteriest avocado you can find (don't even bother if you haven't got ripe avocados) and spoon the dressed peas over the top.  The bitterness and crunch of the endive marries fabulously with the creaminess of the avocado and the sweetness of the peas and mint.

And there you have it.  June on a plate.

Oh, I forgot to add that I've made this before with frozen peas and it's still really delicious.

Father's Day

Yes, maybe this blog should be re-christened The Year of Making Cookies but for the life of me I couldn't think of anything else to make for Father's Day (why oh why did Kiddley have to close down?)

The Minx, who aged nearly two and a half, has acquired a little step stool for 'helping' in the kitchen, set to work eagerly.  Though in her case this mostly involved spilling flour all over the floor and licking out the bowl.

She was allowed to choose four cutters - so we went with Space Needles (rather appropriately), stars (because Daddy's a star), hearts (to say I love you) and er, rabbits.

All colours were also chosen by the Minx (though I hid the most garish tubes of writing icing) who also applied most of the sprinkles and all of the little crunchy balls. She thinks they are the most amazing things she has ever clapped eyes on and keeps announcing solemnly, 'these are WONDERFUL cookies'.  She also had to say goodnight to them before going to bed and visit them in their box first thing this morning. You never saw a prouder girl.

Or a prouder daddy.

Stocking the Supply Cupboard

The girl who is going to make a success of her job of running her home may be inexperienced but there is no reason why she should not be capable, and so she will recognise at once the advantage of managing on a budget, preferably a weekly one. She will soon acquire the foresight to apportion that money as efficiently as possible. If at the end of her week she finds she has a little money left, she will spend it on supplies for her cupboard. She will realise that a well-stocked cupboard is an economy and answers many emergency calls.

Suppose we make a tentative list of the articles that should be kept in stock.  The quantity of each depends on the amount one can spend, but the variety can be established. The most unpretentious list should include the following:

One box of cheese
One packet biscuits
One packet crispbread
Four tins of assorted soups
Two jars of jam
Four tins of vegetables
Two tins of grapefruit
One bottle of mayonnaise
One bottle of olives
Four tins of sardines
Two tins of tongue
One bottle of tomato catsup
One pound of rice

The Bride's Book, Edited by Dorothy Stone, March 1938

Off Registry or On?

I have mixed feelings about Wedding Lists. Some feel the inclusion of a 'We Are Registered At...' cards in invitations are elegant and understated, while others feel the implication that you are not invited unless you come bearing gifts a touch unsavoury.

If you plan to tread the path unlisted, you could investigate the wonders of locally produced, design-led gifts to ensure that your offering is unusual and heart-felt.

I love this selection from the vast catacombs of the Hidden Art Shop. Bowl and vase may be a bit girlie, but the Flow wine rack will please many a groom, I'm sure.

What are your thoughts on registeries? What's the worst present you've ever been given?!

Large Grass Bowl

Large Grass Bowl £65

Baby

Baby Porcelain Vase £45

Flow

Flow Bottle Rack £30

Miss Moneypenny Aluminium Change bowl £30

Flower Pot

Ash & Oak Flower Pot £35

Sensible Shoes

I have a dream. I have a dream that one day, a girl can walk down a street in comfort and style. I have a dream that one day, a fashionista will walk across a field, a park or a dale in elevation that won't sink into the earth, in straps that won't cut into the feet and in elegance that will live up to the outfit that graces her form.

I believe in a world where you can pay from £30 to £185 and remain proud of the lower portion of your ensemble.

I believe that I found comfort and a small amount of elegance in these. I believe, however, that had I looked further (ie below!), my dreams may have come true.SWEET ROCKET PRINT ESPADRILLEStrappy Slingback Wedges

Fado Heels from Toast £185  Patent leather sandals from Faith £45

Cotton Archive Print Espadrilles from Laura Ashley £30

Slingback wedges from Boden  £79

June Photo Competition

It's that time of the month again. I'll rephrase that. It's photo time again! As we're going a bit bridal over here this month, here's mine, taken at my brother's wedding last June.

Get your pictures online over here anytime before midnight on 30 June.

Heart_necklace_2As ever, we have a prize: this month, a simple and versatile silver heart on a chain to complement your wardrobe on more restrained days. Elegant simplicity which, as we all know, I'm not so great at.

Bribing and peerage requests go to Mackenzie, designer and purveyor of beautiful paper products and delights as well as having a great eye for a delicious accessory or centrepiece at her blog Something Old Something New.

Her tagline is 'Nothing Ordinary Will Do' which we at Gorgeously are happy to subsribe to.

Confused about envelope addressing? In a pickle with the mother-in-law? Drop Mackenzie a line and she can ask Xochitl, founder of Always a Bridesmaid. She will then post Xochitl's responses to some of your most burning etiquette questions in a weekly segment called "Wediquette, Shmediquette".

Lemon Frosted Pistachio Cake

Or summer on a plate.

This utterly fabulous cake hails from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen DiariesIf you haven't got it, then get your hands on a copy immediately - his easy, classic-British-with-a-twist seasonal recipes will make your life a whole lot more gorgeous, even if you just read the words and don't bother with the cooking.

Anyway, back to the cake. It's squidgy, moist and dense in texture, thick with almonds and pistachios and bursting with citrus flavours - the cake is flavoured with orange juice and zest, and the icing with lemon juice.  Its robustness makes this the perfect cake for a picnic or a barbecue and I have decided that all the nuts and fruit juice must mean that it is hugely healthy, though I suspect not exactly low in calories.

The recipe has been written down at 'Dressing for Dinner', which looks like an excellent UK foodie blog.  She made hers with orange blossom water, while I stuck to the original rosewater, which gives the cake a subtle Middle Eastern flavour.  I suspect a drop of almond essence would also work well. 

By the way, I ended up cooking it nearly 20 minutes more than the recipe suggested and next time might cook it in a 20 cm tin (instead of 22cm) to make a slightly thicker cake.

The icing was meant to be a delicate pistachio green and I was going to pipe little pink flowers all over the top (Nigel suggests sugar flowers and fresh flowers would also be nice, but our garden is only growing weeds at the moment).

 Unfortunately I was somewhat heavy-handed with the food colouring and I'd run out of pink writing icing so the Minx and I devised this alternative scheme which is possibly not the most sophisticated you've ever seen.  The Minx though, who 'helped' make it, looked at it thoughtfully and then pronounced it 'a wonderful cake.' She is absolutely right.

May Photo Competition: The Results!

As promised, the antipodean Jo from Desire to Inspire has taken the podium for judging this month. And, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado....

It’s strange sitting here judging photos from the other side of the world. As the weather supposedly turns cooler in subtropical Australia and winter approaches I’m teased by images of spring rushing towards summer. Excuse me if I had a hard time choosing a winner. Not only were all the entries beautiful images but they brought home to me that here in Australia we are experiencing the worst drought in a century. Climate change is a threat to the natural beauty around us and we ignore it at our peril.

 

OK climbing down from my soap box I am pleased to award the prize to Cally and her gorgeous “rhododendron and blue door”. The colours are exquisite and that door! The softness of the image and of the colours is a treat to someone craving relief from harsh light and no rain.

I’d like to give two highly commended as well. (OK I’d like to give highly commendeds to everyone.) The first is to Baraka and “Chubster”. That little follow perched on the picket fence and that magnificent coastline behind. It’s almost like it’s painted. The second is to Paola and the very first image uploaded. I knew I was in trouble when I saw “Busy Bee”. The quality of images was going to be extraordinary. I can almost hear the buzz of that bee.

I’d like to thank Helen and Paola for having me as this month’s judge. I’ve had a great time eagerly awaiting each new photo. I’m hooked. If I wasn’t topsy turvy with the seasons here I’d whip out my camera and enter June’s competition.

 

 

And a little note from me. Thank you so much, Jo for taking the time to judge this month. Cally, do get in touch by email with your address and we'll do the necessary! Finally, I reckon this is the World Wide Web and if it snows in July where you are, then that it what July is to you. We'd love to see your pics in any season, so get snapping and join us for June's show, which we will be launching in a few days. Congratulations to all the entrants. Noone is a loser around here.

x

Organic Max Factor

Due to popular demand (well, Cally, but she's such a great force in the land of blog that it would be rude not to abide by her demands!) here is the only organic cotton maxi dress I can find. However, it has great credentials... Part of the Laura Ashley Archive range, it comes in at a bargainous £48 and is based on a floral sprig print from the 1970s.

It's simply gorgeous, and had I not already had a yellow dress added to my wardrobe, I would have been at the forefront of an orderly queue.

Do check out the rest of the range, though, as the majority is organic and all of it is delightful.

And, of course, gorgeous.

Max Factor

After mini dresses, skinny jeans, cropped leggings and supposedly over the knee boots, there finally seem to be some benefits to being tall in fashion land.

 Blue Print Maxi Dress

Paisley Glam Halter Dress ($148) and Blue Print Maxi Dress (£45)

Contrary to the fashionistas' predictions of the mini continuing to take over the high street this summer, there has been a backlash in the form of ultra long, floor skimming maxi dresses. I'm putting this down to boredom with the 24/7 pursuit of perfect summer pins: these will hide stubble, white legs, patchy fake tan, scabs from energetic frisbee throwing in park incidents (admit it, you've been there) and more.

The other lovely benefit is that, in an age where black tie seems to now mean knee length or shorter or, worse, some mini satin skirt and boob tube, these dresses bring a return to the swish factor that has been lacking in my life and I can wear it in the daytime too.

After my meeting with my new boss on Friday, I fell in love with the yellow number below and reported back to my Boy with images and ponderings. I have a severe financial crisis at the moment, have not purchased anything for myself in I don't know how long, and have not a single occassion to wear it for. However, it fits me, is made of beautifully soft cotton georgette lined in viscose (you would not believe the man-made fibred summer dresses out there - why good people why?) and I am unable to reproduce it at my sewing machine.

Yellow viscose & cotton print (£59) and Purple cotton tiered Sundress (£37)

This combination does not come together often. The Boy brought out his credit card and treated me. I'm a very lucky girl.

Blue cotton print dress with belt (£54) and Block colour cotton dress (£25)

I think these would be beautiful for any occassion this summer from picnic, to garden party, to wedding, to work, depending on the level of shoulder coverage required. Just be sure to team with the appropriate shoes. Flip-flops are utterly dress-upable these days, as long as they are suitably bejewelled, or else find some sandals with a strap around the back to hide the telling flick flack noise of beachwear from your boss.

Can you hear me swish?

Look out, it's a June Bridal Wave

The month of June is named after the Roman goddess, Juno, wife of Jupiter. As Juno is the guardian goddess of marriage, it is believed that couples who get married in June will have a married life blessed with happiness. Still more folklore rhymes about it:

Married in June, you're a bride all your life.
Bridegrooms in June have a sweetheart for a wife.

This month, we'll be looking at weddings and brides and the thousand and one ways to not spend a thousand and one pounds in this booming industry. We'll look at wedding presents, wedding outfits for the bridal party and guest, crafting and diy to avoid you spending like water. We'll look on the highstreet, on the designer racks and everywhere in between. We might even make a big white cake.

If you have a sartorial wedding question, drop us a line and we'll see what our fingers can click together for you. Cripes, if Net A Porter's having a go, we can too! And ours will more than likely be ever so slightly more affordable.

Here's hoping you have a lovely sunny June with us here at Gorgeously. x

May Birthstones: Emerald

From The Bride's Book (1938)

Who first beholds the light of day
In Spring's sweet flow'ry month of May
And wears an emerald all her life.
Shall be a loved and happy wife.

The gifts of this gem are happiness in love, victory over sin and trial and the power to render the wearer invisible if she be unmarried.  With the emerald, as with sapphires, one may wear the synthetic stone: for its colourful completement to the personality is quite as effective as that of the genuine emerald.

Once upon a time it was thought that the emerald foretold coming events and was an unfailing revealer of the truth.  It was also supposed to improve the memory, and make one an eloquent and convincing orator.

::

Unfortunately, the emerald stone has rather fallen out of fashion these days. The result is that there is precious little availble to buy in new trendy shapes, but there's a bargain to be had in the antique market if you are enamoured of its hue.

This fabulous bangle just screams Versace and glamorous designer bling. I think I'd have to wear it with a hot pink max dress by a pool...

 

 

 

 

 

Not sure about its power to make you invisible: this emerald green silk wrap from Rebecca London will help you stand out in the crowd on a beach. And coordinated to this bikini, I will foretell forthcoming events for you and guarantee you victory over sin or, rather, victorious sinning.

Happy *belated* birthday, May!

Bright Days Ahead

by Mary Jo Matsumoto

I warned you last month that I’d be back with lots of sunshiny fashions, and the time has now come to talk about yellow. Not that it’s breaking news--no other color has been so ubiquitous this season. Just today I was asked to write commentary about the slew of stars who’ve been wearing various shades of yellow on the red carpet. I won’t go into great detail, but I will say that unless you have the great fortune to have hair the color of spun pale golden silk or are one of the lucky ladies with a warm olive skin tone, it’s best to stay away from pastel yellow chiffon gowns.

The good news is that bright canary yellow is pretty easy for all skin tones and hair colors to wear. We could talk about some of the stand-out lemon yellow dresses of the season, but chances are you’ve already picked up some version already.

J. Crew rain hat; Anthropologie trapeze earrings; Rosie Bow belt

In case you’re shy about wearing yellow, you don’t have to wear it head-to-toe. There are plenty of great and affordable accessories that will let you stay in step with the color-me-yellow mood of the moment. Hats, belts, totes, and shoes are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Since we’re talking about accessories, I should mention that I’ve been looking at and writing about this Jay Lane flower ring for over a month and still haven’t gotten tired of it! I just love the mix of a vintage style 60s enamel flower with shocking yellow. Plus it’s pretty…sigh. The Kenneth Jay Lane Yellow Flower Ring is available at www.etonline.com.

 

 

 

Moving on to confessions: one of my worst, most decadent vices is wearing designer sunglasses. I’m shameless about it, but I live in a place where it’s impossible to drive without them. Happily, I discovered a new affordable sunglass line this month and their shades are made in the same factory as Tom Ford’s high-end line. I’m in love with tons of their styles like the Avenue in Dijon. Check out www.sodaeyewear.com for more styles and information.

Wearing these espadrille flats around the house makes me feel like I’m on vacation. “Los Drillos” by Rubber Duck, are the creation of Danish-born designer Eik Braun Ottosen, who gives 10% of the production costs each year to Rubber Duck workers as a bonus—no shoe strings attached. “Los Drillos” come in many colors and designs, but I highly recommend the yellow Palms. There’s something very “weekend in the Mediterranean” about them, and the great thing is that they don’t cost a fortune and they’re unisex, so you can pick up one for yourself and one for your significant other, in hopes that he picks up on the holiday sensation. Shoes are available online at www.rubberduckbrand.com.

If all else fails, you can always sit the yellow craze out on a fiberglass stacking chair covered with yellow and lime poppies. These eye-popping Marimekko chairs just went on sale at Anthropologie and I’ve been trying to justify to myself why I need one.

 

 

 

 

At the very least, here’s hoping you’re able to get away to someplace warm and bright this summer. If you do, be sure and take some of Titan’s lightweight, durable, scratch-resistant and stylish 100% polycarbonate luggage with you. This super cool luggage comes in modern colors like red, yellow, black, silver, and champagne. Until this month, Titan was only available in Europe and Asia. Naturally, I’m partial to the yellow. You can find more information at www.titanluggageusa.com.

Wishing you many bright summer days in the coming months!

Last Call for May Photos

Some gorgeous, gorgeous photos have been entered this month (even if you're not thinking of entering give yourselves a treat by checking them out).

However if you have got a great photo which sums up 'May' to you then you've only got about 24 hours to enter it and win a fabulous prize.

Good luck!

It's fascinating seeing how the colours in the photo groups have changed from the soft greys and muted tones of January to May's vivid rainbow.

OUR LITTLE SHOP


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