Friday, 28 September 2012

::: The Vintage Tea Party Year ~ by Angel Adoree ~ review :::


Angel is the founder of The Vintage Patisserie, a popular vintage hosting company offering bespoke tea parties from a bygone era, delivering everything from music, makeovers and - of course - a customised menu of tea party treats that elevate any function into a swanky soiree. Her first book The Vintage Tea Party Book is a huge success for the unique way in which it addresses all aspects of vintage culture with beautiful photography and delightful illustrations. The Vintage Tea Party Year takes you on twelve months of parties, celebrations and tea-time treats as well as introducing more games and craft projects for your chosen theme. See the New Year in with vintage style, make Valentine's Day extra special, give every child their dream tea party, find inspiration for weddings and baby showers, be the talk of the town with your own summer street party and wrap up for winter with a vintage-inspired Christmas. Angel's inimitable style will take you on a seasonal journey and help you put on the perfect tea party whatever the occasion.

(Disclaimer: I was recently sent this book for review. I may have got this for free -  but my opininons are are my own)

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There are few things that make me happier than a nice, colourful, well written, easy to understand cook book. It is true to say that the new publication from Angel Adoree is more than just a cook book. Much more. 

It is a whole party book. A book for planning sumptuous gatherings. Full to the brim with ideas.  Perfect for going through of an evening with a cup of tea, a pen and a pad of paper for scribbling down the ideas that will flow. And, trust me, they will.

Honestly, I have am rarely gushing about a book -  it takes something proper special -  but this is one of those occasions.

I love Angel's creative personality, which is abundant and slightly infectious, as well as her attention to detail mixed with candid notes about why she has made something and what it means to her.

Presented in the same style as her first book, Vintage Tea Party, with the same beautiful illustrations, there really is something for every occasion. And each section of the book has not only recipes, but ideas for staging and even how to fix your hair. Victorian style. 

Valentines Day, a Children's Party, Bonfire Night ( I love the fact this was used as opposed to the ever popular Hallowe'een ) Christmas and even a Gentleman's Tea Party are featured. Not that you have to use the recipes from a section for those particular events. Like I said, wait for the ideas to flow.

The thing I liked most was not one mention of the word vintage in conjunction with polka dots and cupcakes. So very refreshing. Not that there is any thing wrong with either. They are just not my thing.

 I for one, this very Yuletide (12.5  weeks people - gah!), shall be making the Choux Pastry Swans, Savoury Pizza Popcorn, Mini Banana Splits, Cinnamon Tea Cosies and Asparagus Cigars, all washed down with the delicious sounding Whiskey Champs.

I may even make a headscarf picnic blanket as a gift for a lucky friend. Who may never actually receive it on account of me keeping it.

The Vintage Tea Party Year is  published by Mitchel Beazley and  is available at all good book stores and on line from October 3rd

Perfect for the festive wishlist.

8/10

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Summer Memories


Yes, I know that technically Summer is over.  I would be beg to differ that it ever actually made it here this year, but there were some glorious days in amongst the grey skies and wet pavements. 

I have photographic evidence to prove it.


I felt the need to store these posts up for some reason. Perhaps, because the long hazy days were so few and far between, I feel the need to spread them out through the Autumn to enable them to linger a little longer.

They were precious to me.


We have a certain place that we always go for a picnic. Anywhere that has it's own windmill and a pond gets my vote.

When it is still, and the modern cars have passed, you could be sitting under the trees at any point in time. The scattering of  19th Century houses have remained unchanged, the village hall seems to be the centre of the community and people say hello when they are walking their dogs.

Which are always very interested in our foodage.


We have tried other locations and on one occasion drove around to different places - only to find an abundance of other people. That'll never do.

So, we made a pact this year to go to a few tried and tested pick-er-nik spots. And it worked a treat. Shade, seclusion and no teenager boys strumming their girlfriends in broad daylight. 

Yes -  you read that right.

We have been subjected to this twice during the warm weather. In my day, you went somewhere off the beaten track. Not to a public place with children playing catch.

What can I say? Times they are a changin'. 


I do love the seasonal change that is upon us, but, just seeing the photos from this day back in July has made me forget that I am sitting here with rain lashing against the window, the lamps on because it is so dismal out there and a bowl of home made soup waiting for me.

And not a teenager in sight.



Monday, 24 September 2012

John Frieda Brilliant Brunette ~ Review


There has been a bit of an influx of major hair care brands lending themselves to retro hair styling. Both John Frieda and VO5 have created a succession of You Tube tutorials - some of which have oddly become TV adverts - aimed at certain products, which are to help you achieve the "look". 

Last year, Tickety Boo Tuppney created a fabulous set using a John Frieda tutorial. Behold her locks here.

Brilliant Brunette® Multi-tone revealing Moisturising Shampoo

It all looked like a bit of faff to me -  despite the excellent results on Tup's hair. All that said, I am a  fan of John Frieda products -  especially their Frizz Ease serum. Next to Vitapoint, which my Nan & Ma swear by -  it's something I have been known to use a lot in the past.

After the recent chameleon hair debarcle thanks to ColourB4 -  which I guess is ironic, as my hair did, in fact, return to the colour it was before using it - I have been toying with the idea of just giving in and dying over it again. A nice chocolate brown is all I am after.

 Mmmm. Chocolate.

So -  when JF contacted me and asked me if I would like to write a review for some of their  range, I thought "Fo Sho". With the promise of a "multi dimensional" and  "illuminating" shine, from the  shampoo & conditioner I was sent -  I was hoping that my barnet might be a little more salon-esque.

The Brilliant Brunette Shampoo lathers well -  rather a lot for such a small amount - which gets a tick in my book, as it means you can be a bit frugal and make it last for ages. It also smells rather nice and left my hair feeling clean, but not squeakingly so, as with cheaper hair soap.

Liquid Shine Illuminating Conditioner

The conditioner - a product in general I am faithful to Aussie Hair Care for on account of smell and performance - did make me feel like the woman from the Timotei advert of my youth (I spent a long time, as a child, washing my hair sitting on the side of the bath, whilst pretending to actually be rinsing my bum-legnth hair in a river. Ahem.)

My hair was nice and silky -  again, not using very much product - and once dry, actually, very glossy looking. And most importantly, for my hair, not fly away.

All in all, John Frieda products work for my hair in the way advertised. 

Now, I just need to decide if I want to dye my hair again. 

Mmmmmm. Chocolate.



Thursday, 20 September 2012

Sissinghurst Castle


There is nowt quite like a glorious garden in glorious weather. The Beard and I were blessed with both when we had some holiday last month.

Aiming to get as much out of our National Trust membership as possible, we travelled down to Sissinghurst Castle -  married home of Vita Sackville West.

I am already in love with her childhood home -  Knole - which we visited last year.


Initially, I was a little disappointed that only the library, tower and gardens are open to the public and I will admit, I huffed a bit. I like me old houses, so I do.

But -  on entering the walled garden, all huffyness was forgotten.


There were so many varieties of flowers -  especially roses -  on display, I could not stop snapping them. I have a yet unrealised dream of a garden full of roses and wildflowers. Something I cannot bring to fruition on our tiny balcony *WEEP*


Although it was fairly scorchio weather wise - there were plenty of cool shady bits. And not only were there flowers, but also apples and a whole host of beehives.

I could see myself becoming a beekeeper and making my own beauty potions from the honey. I have been following Neals Yard Bee Lovely campaign with much interest as well as all the national ones . We really do need these little furries in all their shapes and sizes. Hand pollination is not something I relish the idea of. 

And we all know, I do love the beeeeee's.


There is a really intimate feeling to the gardens. They were in full bloom when I visited, and they were heaving with all sorts of butterflies and buzzy things.


Now, not only am I in love with Knole, and since my visit, Sissinghurst, but also the lady herself -  Vita. I have always felt very drawn to her and Virginia Woolf, without really knowing why.

Although I still don't really know, that adoration was cemented when I climbed the tower to peek through a barred door at Vita's personal writing room.

Gah! It looked like a cosy, booked filled, cave. Somewhere to be creative in seclusion and comfort.

I need to get me a tower.


The views from the top are stunning. And it was lovely and breezy up there. The Beard hung around near the middle, not wanting to release his inner vertigo demon.

Vita Sackville West, as well as designing and writing books about her glorious garden, was also active in supporting and promoting the Womens' Land Army during the war. In fact, she wrote the  WLA book that Crinoline Robot gave me, as well as the forward to a Land Girl poetry book that I have.

And, thanks to a commenter on my post about Nymans, who is one lucky blighter to live in the grounds of Sissinghurst as a gardener, I now know that Land Girls lived on location  during the conflict.

What an awesome place to have digs.

 

It was a grand day out, and one I am very pleased we made the effort to drive to. I have never been so delighted to be "just a garden", for a delightful garden it is!




Monday, 17 September 2012

Back to my Roots ~ a ColourB4 review


I had planned one of these many moons ago, when I had long hair. The photos were of me with very very orange hair once the job was complete. Oh how you would have laughed. Alas, they were all lost in The Great Hard Drive Death of 2010 -  along with all my shots of my first trip to France. Bums.

So, I thought I would document this product once more. I have long since stopped using permanent colours on my hair, because I do tend to get a lot of build up at the bottom. 
And do you know what? I actually quite like my natural colour. So, I thought I would try to get it back.

Knowing how truly luminous orange this had sent my roots before -  I decided, before purchase to only apply it to the bits I didn't like.


Which was handy, as this was the advice of the pamphlet. A change since I last used it. I did, on both occasions, buy a back up colour in case of an unsightly result.

Folk who have used this before do tend to complain about the scent. Now, it is not fragranced by Chanel, granted, but it is also not gag inducing.


The only thing that made me wrinkle my nose was how much the product in colour and consistency  reminded me of... errr.... jiz. Which I am sure is fairly nutritional for your locks, unlike this chemical laden concoction.


So, I worked it all into my hair as suggested and then covered it and left it for an hour. I looked hot to trot during this phase. Mmm mm mmmm!

There is then a rather lengthy rinsing phase (10 mins) followed by a buffer phase (5 mins) followed by a second rinse (5 mins)

I did find my hair felt a little straw like whilst rinsing. Very squeeky in fact, like every bit of moisture had been taken out. So, I slapped on some heavy duty conditioner - I use Aussie 3 min conditioner on account of it's delicious smell and great results on my hair -  and then dried. 

I then rushed to the mirror to look.


I was proper pleased. As in clappingly so. All my hair, for the most part, appeared to be one colour. All that rinsing and wrinkly fingertips from so long in water was all worth it. Even the £11 price tag (you can get this cheaper from else where in the UK -  Wilkinsons I am looking at you -  but I had already bought it and was in a unthrifty mood for the sake of £5)

I set it with some Aussie Leave in Conditioner (I do this about once a month for a healthy shine, lovely smelling locks and ok lasting set) and waited to see what it would look like when done.


Huh. I was a bit bemused. The colour that I had rinsed out, that was not there the night before, appeared to back in part. And it seems to be getting darker as the week has progressed.  It has not gone back to the shade it was before, but it is certainly darker than it was in after the initial drying.

I have not used any chemical setting lotion on my hair this week at all (purely because I think it has been horribly dried out using this) and opted for some home made linseed stuff instead. Thankfully, by hair is now back to normal.

Initially, Colour B4 did exactly what it said on the box and I was very pleased with the results. But, now I am not so sure. Perhaps if I had dyed over it, instead of leaving it, the patchy dark bits that seem to be coming back to life, would not be noticable? 

I do like that the darker bits are certainly more brunette looking than black, but I am confused by the chameleon-ness of it the whole affair.

Hmm.

An unsure 
5/10




Monday, 10 September 2012

Alone in Berlin - by Hans Fallada - review



Its Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels' necks...

___________________________________________________________________________

I thought, for some reason, that this was a fairly modern book. That'll learn me for judging it by it's cover. This book was, in fact, written and publish in 1947 by an author who never learnt of it's success.

I was sucked into this novel, well and truly. I was behind the main characters, The Quangels, from the get go, often willing them on and in turn, internally pleading with them to stop.

But there were other characters that I found myself intrigued by. Esherich, the man who has a job to do and would quite like to just be able to get on with it. Kluge, the petty criminal who pays a hefty price. Trudel, a young woman who tries to make a stand.

Germany under Nazi rule is something that I have been learning more about over recent months. The other side of the history, away from the well known markers, has always interested me. What was it like? What was the real reaction of the German public? Were there pockets of resistance? What happened if you were caught?

Weaved into this novel, answers were touched upon for me. It made me think about how much of the population, or Berlin at least, was in fear and maintained a "head down" attitude. Even those perceived to be at the top, were someone else's punch bag.

But, there were people who found the strength to fight back in bold and covert operations, sometimes with many participants, sometimes with a pair.

I could not put this book down, and I heartily recommend it to you with a rare

9/10




Friday, 7 September 2012

Nymans


You know by now that I love a good National Trust property. 

I like the smell of them. The age of them. The gardens and the walls of them. The history of them.


When we rocked up at Nymans, I knew nothing of the place. Just as well there was a handy plaque. How awesome? A lot of evacuees had their education disrupted by WW2, and I love the idea of some of being here, in such a beautiful place, learning and having some stability.


Some of the house was destroyed by fire in 1947, but has been left as was. Which I adore. 



I love it when things are left open to the elements and nature always seems to make things more beautiful when left to it's own devices.


Mmmmm. Old bricks. I kinda like them too and the way they have been left.


Not only does it have a fabulous exterior, but it is a welcoming abode also. The gardens are vast, and we did not have time to go round them. 



The gardens are so lovely that they have been open to the public since the 1930s, before the whole thing was given over in the 50s.


Something I have developed a penchant for of late, is trying to take my own photo in old mirrors. I like to think about who lived in the house and looked at their reflection.  I especially love them when they have that mottled greyness to them from their age.


Something I have noticed about NT properties recently is the relaxation on photography (no flash) and also how open they have become. A few years back, in my experience, it was all "please, not photos" and glorious displays roped off.

All the places I have been to over the Summer (an abundance of posts to come!) were far more accessible.


You get much more of a feel for a place when you can wander about, not touching, but getting near to the objects of the people who used to live there.

I am all for conservation and the protection of carpets and the like. I really am. But all the places I have been to recently have left me feeling a lot more fulfilled by my visit than they ever did before.


I take a lot of inspiration from old interiors. I am never too sure if NT places are modelled on, perhaps, old photographs of how a certain room used to look, if they have been left in situ since a property was donated to the nation, or if they are just simply stuffed full of personal artefacts by the present day custodians.


Either way -  I liked this room in particular. A lot. It looked comfy, creative and welcoming. As though the former inhabitant had just stepped out to get some tea. I like to think of them laying on the sofa and listening to music. Or sitting by a crackling fire, reading a book.


I have noticed that folk back them often had a writing room -  or at least a specific desk. I like this idea very much. I am thinking, perhaps, an old lidded school desk shall have to suffice for now.



Until my lottery win ship comes in at least.


Saturday, 1 September 2012

My Hair Curling Arsenal ~ 3) Barrel Curls with Sculpture Curler


Oh! Hai! 

Ready for some more of the Hair Curling Arsenal? Then we shall begin.



Now, the lovely folk from Sculpture Pin Curler sent me this for review a wee while back. But, in honesty, I love it so much it has become part of the regular arsenal.


As you know, I work my curls with dry hair and a product. For this particular post, I used mousse on clean hair on a rather hot day and left it for only a few hours to dry. I usually leave my sets over night.

I section off and pin up my hair with an array of clips I have to hand. Apparently the only ones to hand were Union Jack bows. Chic.

After running mousse through, I am ready to roll.


Now. The Sculpture Pin Curler  (SPC) and I did not see eye to eye at first. I thought, in truth, that it was a faff and surely using my mascara tube was just as easy?

Non. I have been using this for a few months now, and yesterday tried to use my mascara and it was pap in comparison. Those little comby grips at the end seem to make all the difference when it comes to keep the ends in tight.


And I have only tried barrel curls with this product -  or my mascara for that matter -  because on trying flat pin curls in the past, I have had varying, crudula, results.

However, I hold out hope that this demon shall soon be exorcised, thanks to this nifty device.


So, I roll & pin. Roll & pin. Roll & pin. I have found, whilst testing this, that I have found an easy rhythm to work in. 

The grip at the end does its job perfectly, and any straggly bits I have (due to layers) can be caught and rolled in as I go up the hair.

This is the main, and significant, difference I have discovered against my trusty lash defining tube. I do not have to pull the SPC  tight to ensure that the ends stay in, which helps enormously when having to swap hands at any point.


I always roll the top layer first - and always downwards. I then roll the bottom layers up.


I still struggle with the back of my head. As you can see from the long spiral bit up the middle of my bonce. Thankfully, this does not really affect the overall look. And even if it does, I can't see it!  So it doesn't exsist. Ha!

I was just around the house for this set -  but barrel curls work really well for a headscarf or  beret about town too -  because they just look like they are meant to be there. Win.


Ah ha! The results. Remember, this was after only a few hours due to the heat of the day, and I have to say I was pretty pleased. Good old mousse. Never lets me darn.

I would usually sleep in these -  and because there is no plastic or foam or any of those elements - they are proper comfy to kip in.

I really like the front of my hair when I first take the barrel curls out. I think it looks a little bit Hollywood Monroe. But, they are not this defined all over (which is where that lack of back bonce thought comes back to bite me in the arse) -  so I invariably always brush out.

I run my fingers through it first. 

And then pull a "OMFG! WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MY CURLS!!" face.


But fret not, you will not have ruined all that effort. I have learnt over the last couple of years, that working a brush through really does ...errr..work. Fer-ewwww!

I have found that, depending on the product you use, the curls really do last with this -  at least to leave some shape for the days to come. I am lazy moo at times and cannot be bothered to re-pin minus product, but the SPC works just as well on dry locks.

The other thing I have found this useful for is creating hair styles. The grippy ends of this are magic. 


In the boxed set you receive not one, but 2 of these beauts -  along with a styling guide with retro illustrations. There is a brief guide of how to set your hair -  but I am not sure I would call it a "how to" if you are a beginner. Never fret -  the internet and it's plethora of tutorials are at hand.

The Sculpture Pin Curler is duel ended - with one grippy end slightly smaller than the other. I tend to only use the smaller end to give me a tighter core to my curl -  but the larger end is just as easy to use.

They are made from durable plastic and I have washed mine in proper hand-hurty hot water 
(although not all that recently if you look closely at the one on the left  -  ack



Shipping from Australia worldwide, mine arrived to my door in Blighty within a week.

The boxed set retails at $35 + p&p, but there is an unboxed "refill" available for $16 + p&p which is just the one. I am rather pleased by this option, as I do panic about losing mine. It actually never leaves the house. It is my precious.

You can also follow the company via Twitter and FaceBook.


I really do love this product and can highly recommend it. And no, I am not just saying that because I was sent it.  As you know, I am not that kinda gal. It certainly would not have become part of the Arsenal if it was a dud.

Ease of Use:  8/10

Comfort when Sleeping: 10/10

Longevity of Curl: 7/10




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