Monday, 3 December 2012

Looking At Me?

'People always look hotter with sunglasses on'
- Char-Char

Wise words from a very wise friend. 

A simple accessory with a powerful effect. I think it is important to look at a pair of sunglasses as you would clothes. Certain styles suit certain shapes. Having just broken my fav pair of sunnies, I contemplate putting off a cheap $20 purchase and investing in some designer bad-boys. Nothing too flash, just something with a bit more kick. When it comes to investing in anything with a 'name' I always go for something timeless. I want something that in 4-months time, I won't pack away and never see again because low and behold it was a temporary fashion craze.

 To contemplate this potential investment a little further, I have stepped away from the magazines and turned to the albums. Oh yes, the beautiful albums which hold some gems to give me an idea of what to steer away from. Walk with me...


Cute family photo. With matching sunglasses, what is not to love? Besides the fact that my current hair-style is remarkably similar to my mothers - I am not overly concerned with these shades. I do feel however that the blue tints need to stay in the 90's. 

 


Daaaahling! I feel like at least 1/4 of my face is covered by in plastic. Who needs a mask when you have bug-eye glasses to keep your under lock? I am a fan of big-framed glasses but you need something a bit more than a straight-shot insect replica to make them look fashionable.


Yes, this is a self-shot. Yes, it was taken in a discount store changing room. Aviators anyone? An iconic style. Papa Pete still has his from the 80's and they have not failed him as of yet. I do like them but I feel that they never really worked for me. I really wanted them too but couldn't make it happen. 


Just when you thought it couldn't get any better! Fake tan? Check! Awesome pose? Check! Blue aviators? Heeeelz yeah! I really want to say that these were purchased with a party-theme in mind however I did actually wear them out on more than a few occassions...



I really need to work on my poses. Anywho, we have started to walk down the path of today's concept of 'normal' eyewear. Nothing too loud, just simple square based ray-ban. 



What I should have been wishing for in this one is for my glasses to stay together forever. Purchased form a thrift shop in Massachusetts, these $7 gems guided me around the world. I love a good print down the side - tortoise is my personal favorite. 

As you can see, I really have walked down a long winded road. Some hits, some (very big) misses. I don't know exactly what works for me but I feel that a sturdy frame is worth the investment. Karen Walker perhaps?
Slightly in love with these 'Anywhere Crazy' style glasses


My advice? Don't keep them guessing. 
Do not hide behind the frames and pick something which you love no matter how badly you will regret it in the years to come.
As I always like to say:

Laugh now, Cringe later!


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Deck The Halls!

It was Thursday.

Birds chirping, coffee brewing. A delightful start to the morning.

Shower running...

Front door knocking...

Front door knocking getting louder...

Ugh, Charlotte must have left her keys inside. 

Jump out of shower, throw on a towel, run to the door...

'Gosh women, the things I do for you - this would be so embarrassing if it wasn't...'

Oh why hello there Firemen carrying out alarm testing!

Usually I have time to get changed before encountering my first stranger of the day.
Come back later? Yup, no worries. 

It's been one of those bloody weeks. 
First day of summer? I snapped my favorite sun-glasses. The kind of 'Oh My Gosh I love your glasses! Where did you get them from?!' pair. 
This morning I open the window to get some air in the hot-box that is my bedroom and whoops there goes my 18th birthday ring!

What is to blame? The heat. I have no need to complain though. Of course spending the summer in Sydney, Australia was not going to be all icicles and snowflakes. My walks to work have become 'weaves' to work as I dash in and out of air-conditioned shops to savor the icy chill air. Am I right in thinking that temperature change can make us a wee bit cray cray though? Delirious, some might say. Being the first official week of summer, this also means that the season of Christmas is truly upon us. This year, Christmas for the H-Clan is going to be spent in Vietnam. In that heat, my guess is that Rudolph is going to have a bit more than a simple red nose this Chrissy.

Deck the halls people, we are in for a scorcher! 

I have marked the festive season with both snow and sun in the past but it just seems like Ol' Saint Nic isn't going to be well fitted in a place like Vietnam. Considering that 'Let It Snow, Let It Snow' was playing in August at the local 'Western' supermarche when I last visited the country, it is obvious that Christmas isn't all jingle bells and Christmas trees in Ho Chi Minh. Thus, I have come to the conclusion that what makes Christmas so special is who you celebrate it with. At this time, each year  at least 5 out of 6 H-Clan members are together again. Carols, Trees, Gingerbread - the works. Instead, I sweat my behind off in Sydney, Middle-C freezes her tootsies off in Pennsylvania, Pattiecakes works his mind away in Melbourne and Mumma J, Papa Pete and Little C are currently taking part in a 'marathon' in Cambodia?
 Uh, yeah.

Holiday season starts when?
19th of December
Abode Number 7
Country Number 5





Wednesday, 28 November 2012

You Will Be Smitten!

I luff shopping.
I luurve shopping.
I looave shopping.

Bit of Woody Allen for you there.

Secret guilty pleasure? Supermarket shopping. I suppose it dates back to the countless food-shopping trips embarked upon with Papa Pete. With his blue, alphabetized coupon folder - the man passed on all there was to know about the art of nabbing a grocery steal. All good bargains start at the supermarket. Does this scenario seem familiar?

Question: 'Why did you buy so much of this?'

Response: 'Because it was on special!'

Excesses bottles of laundry detergent and copious amounts of toilet paper later, the H-clan is anything but understocked. My (self-professed) 'Frugal Father' has taught me well. How else would I know the multitude of foodie creations that can be produced from a single $1.99 can of tuna? 
Supermarket shopping spurs moments of nostalgia for me. I tell you what though, with all the technological hoopla that is smacking us in the face at the moment, a pleasurable journey to the supermarche has become quite the stressful experience. All novelty of 'power to the consumer' completely wares off as soon as there is an 'unrecognized item in the baggage area...' We get tricked into this idea that the self-baggage area is a stress-free, easy shopping station. Oh heeeelllz no it isn't! No matter what country I am in, the lady behind the screen just does not like me and my product swiping, item bagging ways. 

Oh life, why are you so hard on me?

Anywhoo - rather than carrying on with a usual rant, I did have a point for bringing up my luurve for shopping. 

It was a Sydney Saturday morning and Charlotte (my current partner in crime) and I decided to plop on our sneakers and head down the road for a spot of brekkie. Oh what is this? A market across the road? Don't mind if I do!

We stumbled around, admiring the knick-knacks on offer. After purchasing $13 worth of C.D's (Christmas beats for the festive season) we wandered past an eye-catching stall. I should have you know right now that I am a sucker for candles. I can spend hours in a shop making myself dizzy by sticking my nose in all sorts of gloriousness. These candles were a tad on the different side though, a crazy wonderful kind of different. 


Image/Logo from Smitten

Honestly, I have never smelt more heavenly candles in my whole 21 years of life. What makes these candles different from your average scented wax? Not only is each candle presented with a signature decoration to reflect it's scent, but the range of scents is just...delectable! My favorite? Blueberry Muffin! I could have strapped that thing to my nose and been a happy-camper all day. There is a scent to suit every person, home, personality and taste! AHmazing, I am telling you!
Check out their website and you will not, NOT be sorry!


Reminisce with a 'Home Sweet Home' or satisfy your sweet cravings with a 'Lemon Drop Cookie'. 
'Sweet Dreams' anyone?

Candles for Chrissy it is then! 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Miss Victoria.

The boob.
The tug.
The pouch.
The sack. 

Fu*k being a woman is hard. 

You probably have no idea what I am going on about right now but once you have finished reading this little beaut' you will know exactly what is going on. 

I would consider myself an observer. Some of the greatest people in my life are fellow observers. One of my guilty pleasures is people-watching. Who doesn't love a spot of people-watching? Observations are an inevitable side effect of such an activity. I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to people-watch in a fair few countries around the world. Fashion bounces up and down, we know this. However, what else bounces up and down? Trends and styles. And along with that, body types. I am not the first person to openly admit that the media distort our perceptions of real women

In fact, right at this very moment, a magazine with the Victoria's Secret models 'Shape-Up Secrets' lies next to me. Here is what I have learnt:

1. Only eat vegetables, fruits, seed and alkalized water.
Alkalised water? What on earth is alkalized water?
I'll stick to my tap thanks. 

2. For one month, only consume a 'green mash' of celery, cucumber, spinach and green apple.
Um, no. Since when has consuming food that looks regurgitated been delightful?

3. Spend all day skipping, boxing and running.
I would rather not. 

Right, so now we have decided that I lack all determination to become a Victoria's Secret model. I have also come to the conclusion that your life would be one run on the treadmill if you dedicated every day to maintaining such a figure. Life happens and I sure ain't going to be consuming regurgitated food with a skipping rope glued to my hand all day, every day.  

BRINGING ME TO MY NEXT POINT:

The boob.
The tug.
The pouch.
The sack.

Through my stellar observational skills, I have come to the conclusion that this is the inevitable development of the womanly figure. Preventable? Sure! Not with stupid diets and exercise regimes but with the simple skill of dressing to your shape (or Spanx). I personally feel that one of the big fashion problems that we face is woman who have no idea what looks good on them, so they dress to what Miss Victoria Secret wears - hence the development of all 4-key areas of the female body. We are trapped in a state of denial most of the time - and I am not afraid to admit it. What has created this? Online shopping. 
We choose clothing that looks stunning on Miss Victoria and boom, 5-10 working days later you are squeezing it over your bo0tay and curVes. 


Here's a little diagram to help you visualize what I am blabbering on about:



Basically, gravity f*cks us all. The moment we start realizing it, the moment the media accept it - we will all be better off. 
Once it becomes apparent that the bodycon dress does not suit every body shape, the prettier the world will become. 


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Strike-Out.

Friday evening marked the first of many nights out for Christine and Charlotte in Sydney.
The $7.99 pink fizz flowed, mojito's were shared and the big question of 'red or white?' was asked. 

Yes it was a marvelous night - which ended at home with two new friends...

ANZAC biscuits and Caramel-Macademia ice-cream. 

Oh life, why do you make things so difficult for me?

On paper, we look like an interesting pair. Blonde, foreign and always ready for a nice cocktail. The world should be ready to greet us with open arms. But instead, whilst sipping on our last drink we are asked the question, 

'Excuse me, do you think my friend is attractive?'

No kind sir, we do not think your 60-year old friend is attractive.

As much as we like the balding and over-weight set, were we too optimistic to think that a conversation with some Australian surfers is too far beyond the horizon? I am alway up for a ride in the waves. I went to surfing camp back in the day. I can 'hang-ten' and know how to rock a wetsuit. I couldn't explain my retirement fund plan (nor have I given it the slightest thought) and I don't think I would enjoy a dry-whisky. Why throw this at me? I am going to put it down to being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. When life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade. Obviously this area of town is the not the hot-spot for single 20-somthings. Well, the kind of 20-somethings that we are anyway. But it does make a damn fine cocktail and that, my friends, is just as a lucky little find as bumping into future Mr-Right-Now in your local super-marche!

It brings me to the question of 'expectations'. How often have you trailed the shops with the perfect outfit in mind, but it's not to be found. Anywhere. So you settle on something that will do the trick. Oh goodness, believe me, I do understand that this is a horrible way to think about men. Am I wrong to assume that certain words are used to describe women who think about men in this way? I am not to be too disheartened. Match.com.au does not need my membership. I am 21 for Pete's sake! In the prime of life! So what if the first swing of the game was a foul ball? 

Who cuuuures.

Ice-cream was pretty damn good.




Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Coconuts Anyone?

When I stepped off the plane last week and into the arms of Mumma J, it is safe to say that I was a tad frazzled. Having finished exams the day before, spending the night in an near-empty Christchurch bar with a group of 'Oh I am 20-something studying Engineering..'/ 'I actually just graduated from high-school this evening and this is me celebrating my next step into manhood', and finally packing up my flat whilst attempting to distribute my belongings all over the show - I just wanted a bit of home comfort.

First stop, supermarket.

Whoa buddy, the choices! For those of you who don't know much about Sydney let me tell you that the city as a whole is very health conscious. Everything is dairy, wheat, gluten, lactose..air...free. It is hard not to get swept up in the frenzy that is healthy living. This side of the world have got it down. Sneakers are the Louboutin to some of these people. I think it is fantastic, I really do. This is not to say that I am going to give up my love of ice-cream but enough for me to explore my options. Wake up and smell the chia seeds my friends!

I recently discovered these AHmazing Life Bars by 'Emma&Tom's Look After Yourself' health line. 
Packed with raw fruits and seeds and available in a range of flavours - YUM.
www.emmaandtoms.com


I do have a question though. How far does one go before admitting that being healthy, at times, is actually just...yuck?

Let me walk you through what happened to me.

Okay, so coconuts. Never been a cray-cray fan of them. Might have owned a coconut-shimmer scented oil back in the day but I don't go nuts for coconuts. Regardless, I have heard rumors that coconut water is the latest thaang to be drinking. It contains it all - metabolism boosting, antioxidant, heart-strengthening, liver detoxifying, miracle juice...all the words which are plastered over advertisements to make us assume that drinking this stuff will make us live until the end of time. So, there I was, in the fruit and vegetable store with my new sneakers on (doing as the Sydney-siders do) and I felt parched. Low and behold - there it was! Coconut water. Yeah buddy, look at me go - I walk over to the counter, I put down my coinage and yes, I know the store clerk is impressed with the healthy 'tude I am sporting right now. I bounce out of that store, coconut water in hand, ready to be swept away on a detoxifying journey.
Small issue kids...
It tastes like crap.
I tried to like it. I really, really tried! I wanted to like it but it just was...gross.
Oh man. I am an embarrassment to coconut water drinkers everywhere.  Maybe I can jump on the Aloe Vera Juice bandwagon? Or maybe I should just stick with the plain, old H2O.

Life, why do you make things so hard for me?

I want to say that the moral of this story is that life is too short to be consuming things we don't enjoy. A tad ironic considering the thing I don't like is what, presumably, will make me live longer? In this case, I shall look at it the same way I looked at parTAYing before my final exam.
If I died today (morbid, yes I know) and someone said 'Oh how sad, I hope she enjoyed her final days' I think that the person responding to such a comment should be able to say 'Yes, she dined on all that is fabulous and partied till the sun came up' instead of 'No, she smelled of coconuts and nobody ever saw her because she was in the library all day, every day...smelling of coconuts.' 

In conclusion, I shall embark on my journey of healthy living however I have decided that is all about balance. From this point forward, I shall look at it as a sort of 'eat your peas then you can go play' scenario.


Monday, 12 November 2012

Why Hello!

Woah buddy, it has been a while!
What has happened? Life.
You know how you love to read books but it just so happens that the only time you can manage to turn a page is when absolutly nothing is happening in your life? Yup, here comes that time! Actually, that's a bit of a lie. A little bit more than nothing is happening in my life right now. I am currently placed in Sydney, Australia for the next three months to complete an un-paid internship which hopefully will give me a glimpse into a potential profession which could be waiting for me upon graduating University next year. 


Not too shabby huh?

In the last few months I have managed to move back to Christchurch, New Zealand and complete the second year of my Bachelor of Arts degree. It's been a bit of a whirl-wind and at this very moment, I am doing what everyone else is doing and repeating the phrases...

'Gosh, this year has gone fast!'

'Christmas decorations already?!'

We all say it every single year but I swear time does seem to fly as the years go on. Must be the old age - hah! Any-who, since July I ran for the University Student Council and despite taking the 'Legally Blonde' approach and plastering the school in bright pink 'VOTE FOR CHRISTINE' posters - I fell short of 20-something votes. Life! I also managed to find myself a part-time job, get myself a car, pour coffee all over my laptop mid-essay hand-in week, replace 'said' laptop and score myself a super cool internship in Sydney - which is why I am here now!

For those of you who didn't know, I used to live in Sydney back in the day. When I left for New Zealand in 2005, it is safe to say that I was a tad different. Super cool, but different. Self-dyed 'mahogany' colored hair? Oh yes. Carrot-like fake tanning skills? Yup. A killer sense of style with matching dark eye-liner and flat-peak hat to 'cap' it all off? Uh huh. 

But hey kids, we are back. In the land of long blonde hair and bronzed glows – I am going to be welcomed with open arms. Yes, that's right. J-Biebz or we shall we say 'Justine' Bieber hair cut? Sure. Skin that resembles Edward Cullen who recently was vomited on by the sun? Count on that.  Hello a summer of Instagram photos! We are going to need all the help we can get.

I now sit in a two-bedroom, North Sydney apartment, a-waiting the arrival of my stunning BFFL from England who will join me for the summer. Living the dream? Oh yeah - the dream of budgeting and attempting to score free drinks! It's going to be amazing. I just need to get my ass into gear and sort out how I am going to afford the finer things of life over the next three months. Part-time SUPER FUN job, here I come!!



Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Trip Of Dreams.

Once again, this post is way overdue. 
Once again, I have a brilliant excuse...

I was traveling around Europe!

After taking a year off from my studies, I decided to top it off with a bit of a soul-searching venture before I migrate back to all the glory that is the land of New Zealand, next week. 
I simply could not have asked for a more amazing month. I met some amazing people and saw things that people dream about. I would not change a single moment for the world.
The best thing about it?
I got to travel around the streets of places such as Venice, Rome, Athens and Istanbul with my little Claire Bear (a.k.a my sister.)

Claire and Christine.

Ah, what amazing fun we did have!
Where did we go?
Let me tell you!

We started off in Paris...


Later to drive to Switzerland...


Next stop? Avignon, France!


Not with out a sneaky look at Pont du Gard...


We attended a Flamenco dance in Barcelona, Spain...


And walked amongst the rich and tan of Nice, France...


 We gambled in Monte Carlo, Monaco.


 And took a gondola ride in Venice!


 Visited David in Florence...


 and awed at the beauty of the Tuscan fields.


 Made a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome...


and drank cocktails in Mykonos, Greece.


Made acquaintances with the Greek Gods in Athens..


and climbed the hills to the monasteries of Meterora, Greece. 


 We roamed the streets of Kavala, Greece...


 and paid our tributes to all those lost at Golipolli, Turkey. 


 Finally, we ended our trip amongst the busy streets of Istanbul with a day filled of mosques and belly dancing.


It was a trip that dreams are made of. Long bus days were met with amazing moments in places as magical as you could possibly imagine. 

Onto the next chapter - moving back to Christchurch to complete the studying!


All photos taken by myself. 


Monday, 21 May 2012

Overheard.

Setting: London train, early-evening rush-hour.

A passenger's phone rings.

Woman: 'Right, I am on the train - I need you to sort dinner before I get back.'

Man: Questionable gruntle...

Woman: 'Oh for Chr*st's sake! We have been married for 35 years and you still don't know how to make a bloody bowl of spaghetti?! Boil the water and put it in, it's not rocket science!'

Man: Questionable gruntle...

Woman: 'Sauce?! POUR THE BLOODY BOTTLE ONTO THE PASTA!'

Phone-call complete.

Woman: 'Bloody men...'

Amidst the chuckles of the surrounding travel-goers, I noted that this was only one of the number of similar conversations I have bared witness too as I have traveled too and from London during peak-traveling time. When asked to lend a helping hand at a bank in the city, I was reluctant as my feelings towards rush-hour train journeys are not held with high regards. Being the wee, fit lass that I am, I am almost always pinged with that feeling of self-guilt when I see someone older than me standing throughout the journey as I, relish in the comfort that is the beauty of a chair after a long-days work. As I give up my seat (with much hesitation) I begin the wonderful process of people-watching.

Oh how I adore a spot of people-watching!

Not only do I note peoples questionable office fashion-wear (I find a secret pleasure in the ol' power-suit and sneakers combo), but I notice those who gravitate towards their phones and those who know, that although there is no sign pointing out that phones should not be of use whilst traveling, conversations are best had when the whole world is not lending an ear. Don't get me wrong, it is not like I black-list anyone who does engage in a phone conversation or two whilst using public transport. I get that for some it is the only time during their day when they might actually be able to have a conversation without the presence of a nagging colleague or a sticky-fingered child. For some, traveling on the train is a momentary escape. As the world rushes by you, you get a wee break before you enter the doors of life again.
Why not take pleasure in other peoples phone conversations? How many times have you flashed a smile to a complete stranger as you both note that Passenger X will be visiting his mother in Cornwall this weekend and 'He doesn't care if she doesn't like her, they have been married for 15 years and she is his wife and mother to his children.'

Someone should really write a book about funny conversations 'over-heard on public transport.'
Because I would buy that!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Time To Get Seriously Serious.

There is something quite cathartic about clearing out your wardrobe. I have been a hoarder from way back. The kind of kid that, when packing up to ship myself down to University, brought every pair of shoes, every book off the shelf and every item of clothing from the wardrobe. Do I wear 95% of it? No. As I embrace all that is 'adult-hood,' I decided to ditch the old and limit all that is new.
 Boy, is that easier said than done! 
How many times have you picked up your 'favorite' top, the one which looked so darn good (on the ASOS model), the one which goes with everything (that you don't have in your wardrobe) and thought to yourself...
'Yes, I shall keep you because the situation might occur when we will need one another.'

Sweetie, we both know that situation is never going to happen.

After having a conversation with my (soon to be a high-school graduate) younger sister about essential College attire, I started wondering if the items I call my own are really worth paying that continuous excess baggage fee I seem to face every, single time I travel. This moment really should have occurred as I packed away the untouched, sixth pair of shoes at the end of a week-long trip away. Seriously though, are my clothes weighing me down?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Every woman has their weak point. The certain items which get chucked in your bag without even a thought in the mind. Mine? Shoes. I know, here we go again, another girl completely obsessed with shoes. I love a good pair of shoes but what makes me different is that I love a good pair of simplecomfortable shoes. I lurve, luff, loave the pretty stuff but give me a pair of neutral-toned loafers and I am smiling from ear-to-ear. 


Walk with me...



Keds - White, high-top = Essential. I am not going to lie, I am a little bit depressed as I can't seem to find the classic high-top ANYWHERE anymore. They go with everything - jeans, shorts, dresses. A timeless shoe really. Comfortable, affordable and oh, so groovy.


Converse - Speaking of groovy, check these babies out! Converse high-tops were my high-school must have. If you wanted to be cool, you had to rock the black high-tops. I have always been a bit dubious about this particular shoe, however. I personally feel that there is a line which can be crossed from 'sensible shoe' to 'clown foot.' Am I right? I waver between both sides, which is why I am more partial to your flat-soled Ked. Couldn't pass up on a bit of leopard print though!


Ballet Flats - I have to have flat, flats. I like my foot to the ground, ballerina style. This is why Topshop is perfect for me. I had my favorite pair of Topshop flats for two years, only recently updating them. They are super affordable and comfortable. They are also the only pair of flat shoes which have not cursed my feet upon their first outing. 



Classic Sneaker - I always invest in a classic white sneaker. The kind of shoe which goes with pretty much everything. This year I went with Jack Purcell for Converse. Super, dooper comfortable and not clown-like at all. I usually head to somewhere like Target to pick up my yearly pair of white sneakers but this year, with a European adventure on the cards, I decided to splash out and get something a bit snazzier. 

So I suppose you can see my problem. Shoes are simply a hazard to my sanity when jet-setting abroad. I swear, if I have to do the 'baggage re-shuffling of shame' on the airport floor one more time I just don't know what I am going to do with myself! 

What should stay and what should go?
Probably one of the hardest questions you will ever have to ask yourself my friends!





Sunday, 13 May 2012

Oh Hello!

Please forgive me.
It has been a million years since I last did post however I feel that I have a good excuse!


You see, I was in Spain.
Rota, Spain to be a bit more specific.
Visiting some cool kids in the U.S American Navy to be even more specific. 
So, as you might imagine, it has taken me a good seven days, a wee snooze in a bowl of cereal and a tap on the shoulder from a London train conductor (following yet another wee snooze) to get some life back in me. 
However, I am back!
Back and ready to rumble despite living in a state of delirium for the last week. 
It's rather funny what can happen when you are too tired to function.
The strangest things came to my head as I walked about the city of London, one step from falling asleep on the side of the road.

Are Martha Stewart and Oprah friends?

Is there a big difference when you walk up an escalator versus to walking up stairs?

Do people who work on the train, catch the train to work?

After coming to the conclusion that M-Stew and Oprah are probably caught in your classic 'Frenemies' scenario, and yes, when you walk up an escalator the steps disappear making it an easier climb - I decided that this week would have to a write off. Excess Sangria and Tequila has tainted any productive bone I have in my body. 
And I am not even sorry!

Anywho, how beyond gorgeous does K.Middleton look in her latest green Jenny Packham number?


Seriously woman, the jokes over. Do you ever look bad?
Don't you hate it when people make looking this good, easy?
Psssh.

Oh to be a Duchess!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes.

I had big plans for today. 
I was going to go out and purchase all those last minute things I need before I dart abroad this week.
Then it started raining...
As I stared aimlessly out the window, sipping on my third English Breakfast tea of the morning, my feet got me moving towards the cookbook shelf. 

'Today,' I thought 'I shall bake."

Now I know I said that I was going to compose 5 posts detailing my favorite bits and bobs, however I have decided that (in my spontaneous nature) that I shall post them randomly. Although baking is one of my most favorite things to do - I thought I would give this gem a spotlight of it's own.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
From 'The Hummingbird Bakery - Cake Days.'



As we all know, I am a sucker for anything pink. This my friends, does not stop at clothes and accessories. Oh no, when I can get my hand on a pink cookbook - I have to snatch that baby up!

Introducing:


I am under the impression that the originators of The Hummingbird Bakery are some-what legends within the English baking scene. The whole book is simply delicious! Filled with cakes, cupcakes and whoopee-pies, you simply can not go wrong WHICH is why I dabbled in a bit of cupcake creating one rainy afternoon!




FOR THE SPONGE:
120 grams (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
300 grams (10½oz) caster sugar
2 large eggs
20 grams (3/4oz) cocoa powder
40 ml (1½fl oz) red food colouring (such as Dr Oetker)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
300 grams (10½oz) plain flour
240 ml (8½fl oz) buttermilk
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda   

FOR THE FROSTING:
100 grams (3½fl oz) unsalted butter, softened
600 grams (1lb 5oz) icing sugar
250 grams (9oz) full-fat cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)

 Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line your muffin tin and get that bad-boy ready for action!
 





 Using an electric whisk, or better yet, a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Break in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition and mixing in the bits which attach themselves to the side of the bowl.




In a separate, small bowl, stir together the coca powder, food colouring and vanilla essence to form a paste. Add the paste to the batter, transforming your mixture to a crazy colour of red





Sift together the flour and salt in another bowl, then add the flour to the batter in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and mixing thoroughly after each addition. Finally, in a small, wee bowl, mix the vinegar with the baking soda together by hand and toss it into the cake batter, mixing it right on up!





 Spoon the batter into paper cases so they are ¾ full. I am slightly obsessed with my new ice-cream scoop with dollops out the batter in the most perfect of ways. Place your creation in the oven let them back for 18-20 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a short while in the tin, then place on a wire rack to cool completely before you whip some frosting on them.



Cream-Cheese Frosting:


 Using the electric whisk or freestanding electric mixed with the paddle attachment, , and mixing on low speed, beat the butter and icing sugar together until no large lumps of butter remain and the mixture is sandy in texture. Add the cream cheese and mix together slowly until everything is whipped together, then increase the speed to medium and whip the frosting till light and fluffy. 

Cover all but one of the cupcakes with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese frosting. Place the remaining cupcake in a food processor and blitz into fine crumbs, then sprinkle the frosted cupcakes with the crumbs (or sprinkles if you prefer.)





Presto! A lovely cupcake for a rainy day!



Saturday, 21 April 2012

Lurve. Loave. Luff.

Am I one of the only people who Loves a bit of Spring Cleaning?
Love is an understatement actually...
In the words of Woody Allen in Annie Hall -
I Lurve Spring Cleaning
I Loave Spring Cleaning
I Luff Spring Cleaning

I am a bit O.C.D when it comes to organizing and tidying-up. People will either love you for it it or despise you for it. I can commit to the fact that for someone who does uber-amounts of office work, having organizational O.C.D is not a good thing when sticking to time-frames.
We are working on it though.

Anywho, as this loavely time rolls around once again, I have taken it upon myself to clear out my belongings - ridding the old, restoring the new. 
To the dressmakers I went to get some old dresses revamped. 
To the garbage bin I went with some shoes which could not be trusted in stormy weather.




Presto! Closet cleaned. 
Now, I know it's not some dream, walk-in wardrobe that we are constantly pinning on Pinterest. It is cute and small and most importantly - limits how much I can actually purchase. 
One thing I luff to do is to re-invent a style I once wore, way back when. Funnily enough some of my most treasured pieces are items I 'borrowed' (a.k.a claimed as my own) from Mumma J. Things like an old denim shirt or a big, cosy jumper purchased from a small seaside town - items which were loved before me and will be loved since. Style is such a funny thing. It always mind boggles me that one thing can be so trendy one day, and so not another. Ever thought about what items you are wearing now, that you will be cringing over later?
My own wee motto - 'Laugh now, Cringe later' seems to suit the future embarrassment I might face when reminiscing back on my early 20's. 
Who cuuuures though!
As I fumbled around the mountain of clothing which I call my own, there are certain things I just could not let go of. Certain things that I have continuously bought replacements for too. Ex-boyfriends old t-shirts which I really should toss but the idea of sleeping in a slightly less comfortable get-up is worth the emotional stigma attached to keeping an ex-flames belongings. Bad? Probably. 
So, I have decided to rise some of my favorite items to fame. I shall now be committing to posting 5 posts, exposing things such as my much-loved shoe collection to the journey of how I, Christine, chose my signature fragrance of 2012. Are you ready for it?! I can feel the excitement buzzing!
Maybe you could join me? I must say that I am rather heavy on the challenges at the moment huh? 

Lurve you long time!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Kindle versus The Book.

I am in a bit of bind.
With the introduction of my '21 Book Challenge,' I am walking into the grey abyss that is:

The Kindle versus Book debate.

Normally I am a fan of kicking it old school. I like my pens, my paper - my weekly trip to the stationary store to see what's cooking in the world of all that is staplers and highlighters.
Do you know what I love? Sticky-notes.
I can't put a sticky-note on a Kindle?
Point one for books.
I feel like the introduction of a Kindle to my life would just add to the height of the Mountain of Technology I seem to be trekking up. But they makes so much sense! As a frequent traveller, I like the idea that my carry-on baggage won't be slowly dislocating my shoulder as I migrate from security to my departure gate. Oh imagine the space for other things - like pens, and paper, and all the other useless objects I swear I need whilst preparing myself for my journey. 
Point one for The Kindle.
However, now that I think about it, what happens if my Kindle dies - mid-flight, mid-read? I won't be able to read during take-off or landing...
Point two for book.

Brilliant huh?
www.newyorker.com
But on the other hand, with the subtle light which the Kindle so kindly produces, I won't have to endure the self-doubt and anxiety filled decision to switch on my over-head light and become the most unpopular person on the plane. 
Point two for The Kindle.
Do we also consider the fact that the Kindle lets us download instantly to our devices? As someone who had to wait 3-weeks for a highly anticipated book, instant downloads are high up there in things to love. 
But I won't be able to turn a page? I won't be able to experience the smell of a book - something which everyone enjoys, admitted or not. My trips to the local library will be deemed unnecessary but on the other hand, I can kiss return fees goodbye?

Oh goodness gracious. 
What to do?
Anyone?