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Friday, 28 October 2011

The sun'll come out tomorrow

When I was 3 and a half, my middle sister Annie came along.  My earliest memory is taking her home from the hospital.  Mum and Dad had given me a doll called Annie - so mum had an Annie, and I had an Annie.  Each had their own car seat.  I don't know if they read this tip in some parenting manual or whether it was their idea - but it worked a treat.  Family legend tells how I have always been fiercely jealous of Annie and when she was asleep in her cot tried to do her in.  Family legend is one of those things that might be based in a bit of reality, but largely it has been exaggerated over the years and laughed over at family gatherings.  Like the way everyone thinks I never unpack the dishwasher at Christmas.  LIES, DAMNED LIES! 

The actual truth is, that I've actually always been proud of my little sis.  She has always been talented and clever and funny. Head girl of not one but BOTH of our schools, voice of an angel, fabulous artist, zillions of A stars, Oxbridge educated, amazing career in Advertising…. Yadda yadda yadda.  But what I love about her is her fabulous optimism.  She always cheers me up when I'm down.  She always looks on the bright side of things.  Her glass is definitely half full.  To her, the sun is always going to come out tomorrow. 

Today is her birthday.  I am seeing her tonight to give her a fabulous present.  However, it strikes me that having such a brilliant little sister is the best present Mum and Dad could have given me.  She turned out to be far more fun than that blasted doll.   Having her live so close to me in North London makes me indescribably content.  When we badger Izzy to move nearby once she has finished Uni then I'll be truly happy to have both of my dear sisters nearby. 

Rose x

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Poetry and Mascara

A few years back I was lucky enough to work at the Museum of London. After spending 7 years in the City, it was such fun to work with really different people many of whom have become good friends. One of those is a dear pal Flora. Flora and I really shouldn't be friends on paper. But we do. We don't have a stitch in common but she makes me laugh and opens my mind, and one can't really ask for more in a friend, can one?
Flora now works for The Poetry Society. When she started work there I sent her my favourite poem for her review:

I eat my peas with honey;
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife.

I felt that I should probably know more about poetry so have asked her to send me a poem every week. So now, on what is now called Poetry Friday, she sends me a poem for review. Just one. Nothing too heavy (although we have had a bit of Sylvia Plath). Nothing too light. I am enjoying it awfully. If anyone would like to sign up to this service, just let me know and I'll forward them on.

What Flora doesn't know is that when I was aged 11, I won a Stratford on Avon Poetry Festival Prize.  My key memory of this is of wearing a ghastly terracotta culottes suit to get my prize (a book voucher).  I was obviously vain as a peacock, even then.  The poem was a dreary account of a great aunt's wishing to end her life - the last line was 'I want to go through the door of death'.  Extraordinary! 
If you are better at writing poems than I am, then why not enter The Poetry Society's competition?  An unpublished writer won last year and I think the prize is well worth having.  Not to mention the glamour of winning a poetry competition, something I can attest to. 

A few days ago I had a plaintive request from Flora.

Dear Rose. Please please please can you fix it for me to have a blog post about a good, truly affordable, non-flaky-shadowy-under-the-eyesy mascara. My current tube is running out and I seek advice as a matter of urgency. This has been a lifelong hunt for me, I'm still seeking The One. In expectation, Panda Eyes of Richmond. xx

Well this is more my area of expertise than poetry it must be said.  So here is my top 3 of good, but cheap, mascaras. 
No7 Boots No7 Intense Volume Mascara, £11.50.  I think the No7 make up brand is the best of the 'supermarket make up brands' - great colours which change every season and good products.  It isn't the cheapest but it is good for thickening.
L'Oreal Million Lashes £8 ish nice packaging and smell, doesn't rub off and gives good inky black colour.
Number 1 - drum roll please - Max Factor false lash effect.  £9 ish - 2 coats of this and you look like a Hollywood star.  It will stay on all day and last for ages.

Now my advice comes with a caveat, dear Flora.  The way to stop panda eyes is to not use under eye concealer, foundation or eyeliner on bottom lashes UNLESS you dust with loose or pressed powder.  Unless you do that, even a £100 mascara will slide down your chin by lunchtime after a spell on the District Line. 

Rose x

Photo of the day

As mentioned, the Parental Team are in Florida with Auntie Mame and Uncle R.  Dad sent through this photo today which I think might be cutest thing ever. 

They have obviously been doing lots of shopping while away.  As we know, Dad loves colourful footwear, so no prizes for guessing which his feet are.. 

Bet they are having a blast.

Rose x

Friday, 21 October 2011

A truly lovely Friday off work

Not being at work when everyone else is slaving away is a delicious feeling.  Obviously it is far better if you are lying on a beach with a mojito in one hand and a martini in another, but if you can't be on a beach then pottering about enjoying yourself on a random Friday in October is SUCH FUN. 

Mr Rose and I were planning to have an exotic Autumn holiday, but seeing as we are embroiled in our well documented housing scenario we are staying put for now.   As we had a few days holiday to use up and are quite frankly exhausted from work and estate agent drama, we thought we would have ourselves a little Staycation. 

As luck would have it, Mum and Dad are, as this blog goes to press, on a BA flight to Florida with Auntie Mame and Uncle R.  Because Auntie Mame and Uncle R have been frightfully clever with Air Miles they are going business class while my parents are going cattle.  I have this frightful image of Auntie Mame lording it over Mum by lobbing bits of business class food at her through the cabin.  Aim isn't really a genetic strength of ours, so I have visions of a stranger ending up with bits of lobster in their hair, while my mum reads her Jonanna Trollope and eats a cheese sandwich in peace. 

Mr Rose and I decided to take advantage of the Family Seat being vacant and set off this morning for The Shire so we could play Lord and Lady of the manor (translation - consume my parent's gin and sky plus).

I had persuaded Mr Rose that he needed a new smart pair of jeans and that we should stop off at the bargainalicious Bicester Village.

Bicester Village Fun

As we set off on the M40 he suggested we listened to one of his Radio 4 podcasts from his ipod as our radio has been broken for yonks.  I hesitated, as Power Ballads are more my style. However, the poor chap is so deprived of intellectual stimulation by living with me that I felt it only fair that we listen to his choice.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and now could answer several pub quiz questions on dynastic American and Japanese businesses of the 19th Century. 

When we got to Bicester Village we shopped till we dropped. I got not one but two merino wool dresses from Ralph Lauren, originally £200 each reduced to £24.99!!  loved it so much got it in black and brown.  Now have the dreadful dilemma of whether I buy brown tights to go with brown dress and risk legs looking like tree trunks???  

Mr Rose got a very smart pair of jeans and a couple of ties so we left very happy and continued our journey to The Shire. 
We had been here about 5 minutes when the next door neighbour popped round to give us fresh eggs from his hens as he knew we were here for the weekend and thought we might like them for our breakfast.  I nearly died of grattitude!  When one lives in a central London flat and doesn't know the names of the people who live 4 feet above one's head, it is beyond charming to be welcomed so kindly.  Seriously cannot wait for breakfast.

I then popped to the shops for a few provisions and on leaving the car park, speed dialled Mr Rose and ordered my gin and tonic - 'light on the tonic, heavy on the gin' and we kicked off our long weekend with the traditional feast of My Clan - gin and a bowl of crisps. 

We are now cat-sitting two of the strangest cats in England.  Fred is totally oblivious to any change in the person in his house.  If a coach full of Chinese tourists pulled up and descended on our kitchen he would just look at them as if to say 'Whiskers please, and be quick about it, there's a good chap'.  Coco, however, has the nervous disposition of a very tiny fragile humming bird.  She will just about get used to you, then you change your hairstyle and she thinks 'oh no I'm not sure about that I might have to hide under the washing machine now'.  
I explained this interesting characteristic to Mr Rose and, like a bull to a red flag, he pulled a horrifying face at her.  We haven't seen her for 4 hours.  Hope it is cosy under the washing machine. 

At this very moment, Mr Rose is gently dozing in front of Newsnight and I've got half an eye on Internet shopping.  I think I'm going to need some new boots to go with the frocks...

All is right with the world.  AND I haven't even made it to mum's bathroom yet to see which products she has foolishly left out for me to snaffle!! 

So goodnight, from 2 happy staycationers. 

Rose x

Thursday, 20 October 2011

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf

I have to credit Cousin LL with this little gem.  It is surely one of the greatest things on the internet, and I don't event like scarves very much.

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf

I just love the video! And it is perfect for this chilly time of year.

Rose xx

Monday, 17 October 2011

Chicken and Chorizo Stew

Mr Rose and I had a fun weekend poking around the East Sussex countryside enjoying a bit of Autumn sunshine.  As we drove back to North London on Sunday with our pals E&E we got talking about cooking and recipes.  E&E told us about a chicken and chorizo stew they had recently made, and Mr Rose and I liked the sound of it so much we dived into the nearest Sainsbury's to stock up on chorizo and made this lovely meal for supper. 

Chicken and Chorizo stew. 
Ingredients: 4 large onions
Half a bulb of garlic
2 courgettes
Chorizo - in a semi circle sort of thing like this

3 peppers
2 large mushrooms
4 tins chopped tomato
Large dollop of tomato puree
4 chicken breasts
Sprinkle of flour
2 tins butter beans
Handful of red lentils.
Tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
Tonnes of salt and pepper

Step 1

Chop of onion and garlic (I whacked it in the magimix so it is finely diced)
Pop casserole dish on hob with a tiny bit of olive oil in.
Chop about quarter of the chorizo into 3 mm thick discs. 
Gently brown the onions, garlic and chorizo.  Once the chorizo has started to melt the onions and garlic go a pinky colour from the paprika. 
While this is cooking, fire up a frying pan and pop in the corgettes, peppers and mushrooms with about another quarter of the chorizo chopped up. Fry until they start to crisp up a bit but are by no means cooked.
At this point bung all into the casserole dish.
Step 2
Stir in the 4 tins of chopped tomatoes, blob of tomato puree, 2 cans of butter beans (drained) and handful of red lentils.
Mix all together.  At this point season liberally.  Add about 2 table spoons of sugar and 1 table spoon of whatever vinegar you use for cooking
We left if bubbling away on hob for about 10 mins on high heat then bunged in oven.
Step 3
Once it has been in oven for about 10 mins we diced the chicken, coated in flour + salt and pepper and fried very gently with the rest of the chorizo.  Once it has gone crispy but not cooked completely bung it in the casserole dish , give it a good stir.  We put it back in oven for 20 mins with lid on, 10 mins lid off.

Mr Rose had it with rice, I had it on its own (because as we all know, CARBS ARE THE ENEMY) and it was delish!  We have enough to feed us all week.  If I was doing for Sunday lunch with friends, I'd serve with buttered jacket potatoes, a dollop of crème fraiche on top, a green salad and large glasses of red wine.
There is so much veg in there it surely must be 17 of our 5-a-day??

We then collapsed on the sofa with Downton Abbey and felt suitably smug at our Top Chef status.  Perfect Sunday night.

Rose x

Thursday, 13 October 2011

An eventful Wednesday evening

Last night several things happened:

I went to meet a medley of matriarchs for supper in Covent Garden - it was my Grandmother's 84th birthday and Auntie Mame and my mum were taking her to our Musical of Choice - Les Mis. Annie and I met them for supper in Pizza Express and I had one of their Leggera pizzas for the first time, only 500 cals apparently and very delicious they were too.

Mame and Mum are excited to shortly be off to Florida with Uncle R and Papa respectively, I feel awfully jealous of winter sunshine and made mental note to lobby Mr Rose about holiday plans soon, which are currently on hold due to 'The Housing Market versus Rose and Mr Rose'.

Grandma announced at supper that she has joined facebook. I nearly swallowed a piece of rocket whole and nearly choked. Mame paled. Mum muttered something about how she never got the hang of it. She needs a lesson apparently, so the next grandchild to visit had better be warned.

After supper Annie and I hot footed it to her pad and watched The Only Way is Essex with a cuppa. It is so much better watching it with someone else. Mr Rose would rather have his teeth pulled out individually than watch it, and watching it on my own feels somehow wrong. It is a light hearted show and should be watched out of one eye, while the other one chats idly and sees what is happening on Twitter.

I tried on the 2 Gok Wan dresses which Mum and Dad had managed to grab for me in Leamington Spa. The high neck slash neck one made me look, as Annie put it, 'like a giant breast'.  This is why one need sisters, to tell you when you look a wally.  The other one though is divine and will be road tested this weekend.  Full report next week.

As Annie dropped me off at home she requested a blog post about liquid eyeliner, and funnily enough I have been doing a few experiments with it recently.

As a big fan of the lovely Adele, I have not only been paying attention to her music but also her styling. She has got lovely make up at the moment, really grown up matt shades with lashings of liquid eyeliner.

I can't sing like her but I can damn well copy that makeup

So I've been doing some testing and these are my top 2.
For daytime this cannot be beaten - Bourjois Eyeliner Feutre

For evening this one is best in black quartz - Estee Lauder  it doesn't smudge at all and looks classy all day long. as it has a very slight sparkle which is nice at night.

Don't be scared about giving it a try, but have a few practice goes if you aren't used to doing it. My fail safe technique is to apply it, smudge it off, they apply again. This give a lovely cross between a smokey eye and the sharp line.
Don't use it on the bottom lashes or you will look like you have drawn it on with biro. Not a good look. If you need definition there I'd suggest a long lasting gel liner, or eyeshadow tapped on with a liner brush.

Let me know how you get on!

Rose x

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Subtle Hint

Dear Mr Rose,

I tried this on today and I have wanted to snog myself ever since, it is the most gorgeous perfume I've smelled in ages.
Tom Ford Black Orchid
Pretty please may I have it for Christmas?

Yours hopefully,

Rose x

The X Factor, USA

So, most people I know are watching The X Factor.  Most of the women I know now want to be thrown around the bedroom like a rag doll by Gary Barlow who is MASTERFUL on the show.  Most sane people now want Robbie and Gary to present everything on TV for ever more.  A lot of people are considering having a 'Tulisa' i.e. substantial cosmetic dentistry which can turn you into a star.

Here is a gratuitous Gary pic.

What can I say?  Its a top show designed to suck you in from now till Christmas, when you will stop giving a monkey about any of the bozos that get to the top.

Now my friends, what you wanna do is watch a bit of The X Factor USA which ITV2 are currently showing.

The main reasons for doing this are as follows:

  • They take it SO much more seriously and this makes it way funnier
  • There are a surprising number of people called illuminating names like Jeremiah
  • They are amazingly talented compared to the UK version
  • They have extraordinary teeth
  • They let people join the competition from the age of 12, so you get to see some REALLY precocious kids
  • They are, unashamedly, bonkers.    
However, boring old Simon Cowell is in charge of the panel, not lovely Gary - so you can't have everything.

Rose x

Saturday Morning Breakfast

My love of receiving post is well documented.  One of the best things that ever pops through my letter box is the Lakeland catalogue.  I savour it and read it slowly, turning down the pages of the stuff I really want.  I rarely actually buy anything from it, but I think it is vital to keep up to date with the peg bags which double up as a set of kitchen knives.  I think it reminds me of my mum and Auntie Mame, the two best homemakers I know, who always have the right utensil for the job.  I like to think of it as The Little Book of Dreams. 

I was having brunch with my friend Irish C today, and she forlornly told me of a key lime pie she had made at 7 this morning for a dinner party tonight.  'Rose', she said, looking as usual immaculate even though she had been domestic goddess-ing while I was still asleep, 'What on earth are baking beans?'.  Poor Irish C - she needs to sign herself up to the Lakeland catalogue so she too can get herself these crucial things

However, my top thing from the catalogue is a very clever little invention.  
I think Saturday morning is my faveourite time of the week.  Mr Rose and I put on a huge pot of coffee and always have a nice tasty breakfast together.  Sometimes we go out but mostly we potter about the flat with Saturday Kitchen on in the background and make plans for the weekend.

My ideal breakfast is a poached egg on toast.  Till I found Lakeland's Poach Pods, my poached eggs were a disaster.  I usually messed up the whole thing.  While the toast was going cold, I'd be overcooking the eggs, breaking them at the wrong moment or I'd serve up a perfectly cooked egg in a puddle of water.

With these babies, even I can't mess it up.  

So do yourselves a favour, when you buy them - sign up for the catalogue and you too can dream about the latest technology in shower cleaning when it pops through your letter box.

Rose x

Friday, 7 October 2011

Gok's Frocks

Everyone likes a bit of Gok, right?  Well he has designed these frocks which he is selling through Sainsbury's.

I think this one is smoking!

The draping looks hugely flattering and the shape is gorgeous.  Perfect for this hourglass girl. 

I also love love love this black slash neck one with an exposed zip - very Vicky Beckham.

So now I need to get myself down to Sainsbury's sharpish to pick one or two up.   The best bit is they are only £40.  

Rose x

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Shining for Shine

Well, dear reader. I did it. Half marathon walk starting at midnight for Cancer Research can be ticked off the life list.
I managed it in about 4 hours 15 minutes, far faster than I'd managed in practice which just shows how fast I can walk when I'm desperate for the walk to be over!

Huge thanks to all who sponsored me. It was quite an experience. It was inspiring to see so many thousands of people pounding the streets in memory of those they had lost or to honour those who had survived. At one point I was nearing desperation and half planning my escape in a cab. It was 3 in the morning, I was all alone and totally exhausted with 3 miles left to do. Then all of a sudden I was over taken by a group of about 10 people who had my name written all over their t shirts. It was like a sign! So I ploughed on. 

Sunday I felt like I'd been to the 7th circle of Hell and back, but by Monday I was feeling normal again and tonight I'm even off for a swim with Annie.

My bottom isn't much smaller, but hopefully I can keep up the fitness regime and the policy of global reduction can continue.

Rose x