Total Pageviews

Friday, 13 December 2013

Rose's December Survival Guide

If you, like me, are feeling partied out and jaded before we have even hit mid December – here are a few little tips!

The Office Christmas Party
I've probably only looked at 73 different shops online looking for the perfect dress.  It was driving me quite potty before I gave myself a good talking to about not really needing a new dress, and that really good hair, make up and jewels will liven up any of the 476 black dresses I have hanging in my wardrobe that just aren't quite right.  Let's face it, it will be dark and everyone is pissed anyway.
Get the frock out a few days before and make sure it is spotless.  Nothing worse than grabbing it out the wardrobe on the day and noticing halfway through the champagne reception that you actually have gravy stain on your left nork and it slightly whiffs of a perfume you can no longer stomach. 

Fail safe styling products are:
Babyliss waving wand - these are soooo hot I actually curl my hair the night before, brush it out in the morning and maybe freshen 1 or 2 of the curls up before I go out.  So much easier than dangling in the disabled loo at work with an extension lead trying to do it while the chaps from Accounts are lining up with their hair gel. 
Killer earrings
What is really important is getting lots of sparkle on the earlobe so as to reflect your eyes as much as possible.  If the sparkle is too low you miss out on this effect. 
These, from ASOS, are perfect. 



Suck in pants
Yes we have all had too much Christmas Cheer by now, just 1 too many Pret Christmas Sandwiches washed down with a mince pie.  Sadly the party is looming and other than panic there isn't much you can do about this now.  Or so you think. 
I was in Monsoon the other day, idly looking around for party dresses (don't bother, their clothes are dire this year) and spotted these tights.  I gave them a try and have been so impressed – they really work, don't roll down and don't squeeze you so tight that your intestines get crushed and give you bad breath.  We've all been there. 

Hot new restaurant
You've left it too late to book something for that special night out with your best friends and can't think of anywhere new, lovely, charming and delicious?  Look no further than Plum and Spilt Milk – this is a recent opening.  Mr Rose and I had an historic dinner there a few weeks ago – a brilliant little find.






Christmas Presents:
It is now the 13th December so quite frankly if you haven't done your shopping by now you are horridly disorganised and I'm not sure we can be friends.  However, help is at hand because many of the big department stores have started their killer sales already. 

For the women in your life - Charlotte Tilbury's new make up range is HEAVEN.  I repeat – it is HEAVEN.  The red lipstick, So Marilyn, is the red lipstick I have been waiting my whole life for.  The bronze and glow is fabulous for contouring and grown up shimmer – it works on many different complexions.  I know this because when I have it with me in the office most of the women here borrow it.  It is that good.  You can't go wrong with the eyeshadow pallets, liquid eyeliner – actually all of it is divine.  And the packaging is soooo Chritmassy! 



If in doubt then I've never met anyone who doesn't like Diptyque's Baies candle which smells heavenly.

Cashmere always goes down well at Christmas, but make sure it is good quality.  No one wants to get a hole under the armpit by 4th January, which can happen.  So invest wisely.

For men, well who bloody knows what they want!  Notonthehighstreet have some lovely personalisable gifts, but quite frankly every middle class chap in England has now got a cheese board with his own name carved into it.  So if he already has one of those then really good leather gloves, vintage film posters, first editions of his fave book – all go down well. 
All I can say is you need to pray the men in your life have hobbies as it makes it so much easier to buy them things. 

Hostess gift
Very important to turn up on The Big Day not just with a bottle or two of Châteauneuf-du-Pape – but also something useful for the hostess.  A flower arrangement for the centre of the table is really nice idea.  Other possibilities are desert wine, placecard holders or musical crackers for Post Lunch Entertainment. 
Only thing you need to do is warn her what you are bringing so she doesn't duplicate. 

Hope you are all enjoying the festive season!

Elf Rose

xx

Friday, 6 December 2013

Christmas Approaches

After what has been a fairly stressful and busy year, slightly later than usual, I have got my Christmas Tickle. 

In my family we have a rather unusual approach to present buying.  We each email round a list of exactly what we would like to open (my requests this year were a YSL glossy stain, brown leather gloves, Bobbi brown lipstick in Roseberry, Clarins shower gel, bath oil or bubbles, sparkly stud earrings) and then everyone replies all saying what they are going to get you.  It is not really the spirit of Christmas, but we all agree there is nothing worse than the Christmas I received 11 sponge bags.

I've now bought everyone a present, apart from Mum who seems to be reluctant to make a specific request which suggests she is expecting emeralds.  Sigh. 

Things I am REALLY looking forward to: 

Well strictly speaking this has already happened, but Mr Rose and I like to do Hanukkah because he is sort of not very but kind of Jewish.   As neither of us really know what Hanukkah is about we decided when we first met years and years ago to give each other a little present every day worth no more than £2.50.  Believe me – that is no mean feat since Woolworths has closed!  But it is great fun opening a random gift every day for 8 days.  Last night he got a new washing line chord and looked really bemused by this, poor chap. But I pointed out he'd had some Fortnum and Mason chamomile tea the night before, so at Hanukkah you win some, you lose some. 

The Circle of Trust Christmas Dinner which takes place TONIGHT at a very glamorous location. Since Natalie has been on Maternity Leave, the 4 of us haven't had a really good chin wag for a while – so we've so much to get through tonight that an agenda has been created.  

We also have a Not Very Secret Santa to get through.  It will be a marvellous evening. 

In a week or so Cousin LL and Baby Heinz are coming to stay.  I've only spent 1 weekend with him since he was born in Germany, so am aiming to get as many cuddles as possible in for their visit.  I've taken a day off and am looking forward to the day immensely as I get to be a pretend North London Yummy Mummy but Cousin LL gets the 4am feeds!   It isn't for 10 days or so, but I already have it intricately planned: 

8.00am – Mr Rose says "Darling, you asked me to wake you up when I leave so this is your wake up call.  I've made you a delicious and nutritious Breakfast Smoothie so up you get!".  
8.07am – Mr Rose leaves to run the country and Rose falls back to sleep. 
09.30am – Rose wakes and races around the house with hoover to prepare for The Offsted Inspector – Cousin LL. No time for actual dusting, so the trick of using Pledge as room spray will do the trick.
10.10am – weak with exhaustion, Rose watches as little bit of Jeremy Kyle with a nice cup of tea.
10.40am – Rose remembers she was supposed to ice the Christmas cake – puts Mariah Carey Christmas Album on full blast, dicks around with marzipan, plastic reindeer and icing.
10.55am – pleased with the look of her cake, Rose instagrams the shit out of it, sends pic to Mum and Auntie Mame, tweets it and adds to Facebook.
11.01am – Rose frantically checks social media to see how many 'likes' the cake has got.
11.05am – Rose races around turning all of the Christmas lights on, lights scented candles, puts extra layer of lipstick on.
11.16am – Rose boils kettle, gets out most Christmassy mugs, Fortnum and Mason Christmas Tea, puts milk in milk jug, arranges cake stand with Christmas Cake
11.26am – Rose sits with nose pressed to window awaiting the arrival of Master Heinz and his mama, Cousin LL, who will arrive right on schedule at 11.30am.   We will squeal so loudly on being reunited that the neighbours will look out the window to see what is occurring.
The afternoon involves trying out the best buggy hotspots that Muswell Hill's café culture have to offer, a nice walk in the fresh air, little mooch around the shops.
Once the Little Prince has been put to bed and Mr Rose has returned from work, we will have civilised kitchen sups featuring champagne with hibiscus flowers in for a lovely festive touch,  and a giant chicken pie. 



Fast forward a few more days and we have Christmas Eve which Mr Rose and I are spending together, at home, having what we call Our Christmas Dinner – all of our favourite foods accompanied by some extremely good wine we have been saving.  Mr Rose is the chef extraordinaire and has been plotting the menu for weeks.  We do it every year and it is a lovely, romantic pause in what can be a really busy time. 

Then of course we have the Big Day!
There will be only 7 of us for Christmas Day at Auntie Mame's and Uncle R's house.  Which, for us, is a really small, select gathering.  Mame casually suggested that we have Beef Wellington on Christmas Day with the full on Roast Turkey on Boxing Day when a few more of us will be there.  

The decision was put to full public vote. We believe in democracy in this family.  No fixed voting, or dictators rigging the vote here – no siree.  This is not Zimbabwe or the Eurovision Song Contest!

When the votes came in it was a clear win for Beef Wellington – 4 votes v. 3 for Turkey.  So I'm very much looking forward to my Democratic Beef Wellington, with side orders of Liberty, Equality and Fairness. 




I hope you are all enjoying the most wonderful time of the year!

Rose
xx

Monday, 14 October 2013

A paint by any other name would not smell as sweet


Mr Rose and I have decided to get the kitchen painted.  We've got to have a tiny bit of structural work done and seeing as it will create a bit of mess and the kitchen could do with a fresh lick anyway, it seems like a good time for a refresh. 

So I do what any self-respecting woman does: I create a Pinterest board of possible paint shades.  I order the catalogues of every Posh Paint company I can think of.  I leaf through all of my back copies of Living Etc and Elle Deco. Discuss with friends and relations.  Read Sunday papers about the importance of having muted, heritage colours in a muted, heritage house.  Nod in agreement when people suggest you pay £50 for a small pot of paint.  Wonder how on earth I'll get Mr Rose to let us spend twice of much money for something that does, in all fairness, just go on the walls.  Ponder the possibility of getting the right shade of Posh Paint and then get it mixed and colour matched into cheap paint.   Go back to looking at Fired Earth on Google images and sighing longingly. 

Here is Mr Rose's plan:  24 hours before decorator due to arrive, hop off to Homebase and grab any sort of pale blue shade that looks about right.  Phone Rose to ask what on earth Eggshell is.  Ring her back to ask how many litres we need.  
 

Reader, I had no idea how we would harmoniously deal with these conflicting approaches.

Yesterday we went out for lunch. On our way home we drove through Hampstead.  It was pouring with rain.  The car was chugging up the hill.  I announced that I wouldn't mind just popping into Fired Earth and just have a very instant  look at the paint samples pots. 

Silence filled the car.  Mr Rose was driving and he obviously had in mind the prospect of getting home to a warm, cosy house and reading the entire International Sunday Papers with a large cup of tea, whilst I did something equally erudite – caught up on Glee. 

Somehow I persuaded him to pull into a parking space and just let me run in. 

I raced off into Fired Earth trying not to look like a drowned rat, and trying to look like I totally belong in the expensive shops of Hampstead.  As I entered the shop flustered, my glasses steamed up like a paedo and it took me a moment to calm in the muted, heritage tones that filled the shop.


As I approached the sample pots I spotted this sign.  Reader, it was like the Angel Gabriel came down to me in Hampstead – Fired Earth were selling off their paint in old packaging that was being rebranded at a whopping 75% off.  

 


So a normal, small tin of paint had gone from a frankly ridiculous £50 to a 'cheaper than shitty paint' £12.

BARGAIN CENTRAL.

I grabbed a few sample pots and raced out back to the car to tell Mr Rose the good news.  For Mr Rose loves nothing more than a bargain. 

So – we raced home.  Quickly painted various muted, heritage shades of blue and duck egg onto our walls to see what we liked and ran back out to pick up the chosen paint from the store. 

 
In summary – we saved more than £100 on paint.  I got the ridiculously overpriced paint I wanted.  Mr Rose got the bargain of the century.  We only spent 10 mins discussing which colour to choose and therefore saved ourselves 2 weeks of debate. 
 

Marvellous.  
 
Basically my kitchen will look like this in a few weeks!   Hurrah!
 
 

 

Rose xx

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Cottaging

Last week I had a horrible bout of flu.  It was dire.  I spent days in bed, too weak to get the next lemsip or even press repeat on the Steel Magnolias DVD.   Sad times in the Rose Household.

By Sunday I was well enough to desire something other to eat than Heinz tomato soup and toast, and I was craving something to make me feel a bit better.  So inspired by watching several episodes of Saint Jamie Oliver I decided to make a Cottage Pie. 

I didn't just want any old cottage pie though, I wanted a low GI pie, packed with vegetables, strong tasting, satisfying and hearty. 

This is what I came up with.  I loved the orange and green mash - it livened up the dish a lot.

Ingredients

Lean minced beef
1 leek
2 onions
4 cloves of garlic
4 carrots
1 stick of celery – not essential
Sweet potatoes
Frozen peas
Few white potatoes
Worcester sauce
Tomato puree
Mustard
Can of chopped tomatoes
Fresh herbs (I used tarragon and flat leaf parsley)

Method

1)  heat up your oven to about 180 degrees

2)  on the hob, warm up frying pan with slug of olive oil. 

4)  gently soften the chopped onions, garlic, carrots, leek and celery and simmer for about 15 mins. 

5)  While you are waiting start chopping the potatoes – both the sweet and white – skins on or off, however you like.  Place in boiling water with good slug of salt for about 25 mins till really soft.  I like skins on as it is more vitamins, but for guests I would probably peel.

6)  chuck in the mince to the pan and brown it slowly. Add the herbs now.

7) for the sauce:  in a cereal sized bowl put in 2 table spoons of tomato puree, 1 table spoon of yellow mustard, 4 table spoons of Worcester sauce.  Mix up so you have a couple of inches of the sauce in the bottom of your bowl.  Top up with a little water if you like a very saucy pie.  Add to the meat and veg mixture.

8)  Chuck in can of chopped tomatoes with a sprinkle of sugar on the top to cut the acid and simmer it all together for about 5 mins. 

9)  Lay on the bottom of your dish.  Should cover it completely. 

10)  Open a bottle of red wine – pour out 2 glasses – one for you and one to cover the meat mixture.  It's important not too add the wine before this as you don't want to cook off all of that lovely booooze.

11)  Boil some frozen petit pois for a few minutes till soft.

12)  mash the potatoes together with dollop of butter, slug of milk – liberal salt and pepper.  Mash the peas into the potatoes, but not so much that the peas smaulch – the effect you are going for is orangey potato green speckles

13)  pop the mash mix on top of the meat. Use a fork to make a nice pattern on top so it goes crispy in the oven.

14)  Sprinkle a good handful of good handful of strong cheddar on top.  You can leave this out if you are being good.

15)  pop in the oven for about 45-50 mins till top is golden and crispy and the sides are bubbling.  Serve with greens and the rest of the red wine. 

YUM.   The best thing about this pie is the leftovers, once it has rested in your fridge for about 24 hours it became even tastier. 
 
 
 
Sweet Potato Cottage Pie
 
 
Rose
xx

Saturday, 7 September 2013

A new love affair

Signs that I am in love with a new man:

1)  My iPhone battery is constantly running low so I can talk about him with all of my friends and family
2)  When I have a quiet moment I run through the pics I have on him and stare into his dark blue eyes, longing to give his smooth face a stroke
3)  I have had 20 minute long discussions with bored colleagues about which of his pictures I should put on the fridge
4)  I wonder what he sounds like
5)  I think how cute he would look in certain outfits
6)  I've been making collages of his face with a sweet little app on my phone

So yes - I admit I am in love.  Cousin LL had a baby last week and he might just be the most darling thing I have ever seen. 

We'll call him Baby Boris to protect his identity when Working Title make a film about my us all.  Baby Boris is the cutest thing I have ever seen.  Sadly we have not met yet, as Cousin LL has moved to Germany.  Yep that's right - in 18 months she has got engaged, got married, got knocked up and moved to Germany.   It is indecent.  But a lot of fun. 

And after a very tricky pregnancy and birth, she has produced a darling little boy, who looks so cuddly and cute I can't tell you.  We are all thrilled and so excited about the Next Generation.

Rose xx

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Rose De Vacaciones

Mr Rose, Mum, Dad, Izzy and I are on hols. We are staying at the Spanish house of close friends S and M, who are here also, so what we have is a very jolly house party.

It has been a tough year so far for Mr Rose and I, so the holiday has been much needed. We are now almost packing up to go home after what has been a fabulous week at Casa Rosa so I thought I'd give you some of my highlights.

While we were here I had a birthday. I awoke to find the house decked in balloons.

We celebrated with traditional British afternoon tea, complete with egg sandwiches to rival Claridges and a Victoria Sponge my mum made which was totally delicious.

 

That was so yummy I had to lie in the hammock to recover.

I had some divine presents from everyone. When asked what I wanted this year, my instructions were 'frivolous'. So I got some lovely jewels, matching luggage, make up, clothes and was thoroughly spoilt. One cute little gift was this fab nail varnish

Holidaytastic, non?
 

In the evening we had Champagne and canapés

Followed by a divine BBQ.

 

My mother is, as you all know, a very glamorous woman. She is here for 2 weeks and has bought with her no less than 63 swimming costumes and matching kaftans. She swears she has only bought 6 but I feel fairly sure she changes it 7 times a day ("no one likes a wet bottom, darling") and I've not seen any repeats yet.

 

There was much excitement over K Middy having the new Prince George. We ran a little sweepstake.

 

And were glued to Sky News when they came out the Lindo Wing

 

Then we went out for dinner on the seafront to toast our future king

 

We loved people watching all of the Spaniards out for an evening walk with as many dogs as you would find in crufts. We most admired a lovely sausage dog and agreed he should be called Senior Chorizo.

Mr Rose has been treating us to lots of cooking. Before we came out he swotted up on Andalusian recipes which are totally delicious and generally involve so much garlic and chorizo that as soon as he announces he is going to cook something our mouths start watering and mum practically jogs to the gaviscon bottle. Big faves so far have been these two salads: Green Beans and Serrano Ham and Jamie Oliver's Tomato and Chorizo salad.

I've been reading The Cuckoo's Calling, the one poor JK tried to write under a pseudonym. I bought it before I knew it was her, based on a tweet from India Knight about how good it was. I'm not a JK Groupie so probably wouldn't have bought it had she published in her name, but I've enjoyed it so much I think it might be my Book of the Year. It's gripping, funny, insightful, gosspipy and beautifully written, really bringing Mayfair to life. I'm not normally a fan of detective stories either but now I think it might be a good genre to get into. If you have any suggestions let me know!

Izzy is showing off the results of a new love of running in a variety of gorgeous bikinis. Neon is featuring quite significantly in The Collection. She looks like she should be on Made In Chelsea she is so poised and gorgeous, but when she is bobbing around in the pool it's hard for me to remember she isn't my baby sister who will squeal with delight if you a) dunk her b) play catch with her c) offer to make up a dance routine with her. So we are instead bonding with a 45 min gruelling swim each morning where she yells at me like Tracy Anderson if I slow down. Which considering the amount of rose wine and bread I'm consuming is much needed.

Big thanks go to our lovely hosts S and M who have so generously opened their divine, Spanish home to us. S is keeping me entertained with her demon scrabble moves, and just when you are nearly asleep on a lilo, M will do a superbly executed dive bomb just to keep you on your toes.

Right, the sunbed is calling. It's the last day of the hols so we all know that means getting a bit fast and loose with the factor 20.

Adios amigos!

Rose x

 

 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

Well it is. 

We have to deal with all sorts of crap that men don't even have to think about. Like glass ceilings. More expensive haircuts.  Universal expectation that we will not have chipped nail polish.  Split ends.  How appropriate it is to be 31 ¾ and have a photo of K Middy pinned on your fridge.  No carbs before Marbs. Etc etc etc. 

And then of course, there is the worse feminine thing of all – tights.
 
Picture the scene.  The seasons are finally drifting from icy cold Spring into fairly chilly Summer and the time has come to go from your lovely thick, black tights (possibly navy on a Jaunty Friday) into something a bit more sheer.  Nude hosiery.   You pop into Marks & Spencer when you have a spare 10 minutes, as any fool knows M&S is the business.  

Fear grips you.

You see in front of you maybe 40 different choices.  I'm not even exaggerating.  A big M&S will have a hosiery department that is about 20 square meters.  It’s a fairly long time since you last wore nude tights, so impossible to go straight to some trusted favourites.  Now I'm over 30 I have trouble remembering what I did last weekend, let alone what tights I wore in September. 

Questions flood your mind.

1)  Do I want NUDE?  Natural Tan?  American Tan? Too beige and you look like a little girl going to a birthday party.  Too dark and you look like an ice skater. 
2)  What denier?   No doubt the smart ladies buy very sheer 7 denier tights but I will of course have ripped these to shreds by the time I have had my first Americano. 
3) 10 Denier?  Still risky.  They are possible if you are going to a wedding and want to have the sheer, sexy look – but if you go this low on the denier you will only be able to wear them once at most and you'll need to have another spare pair in your clutch bag ready to whip out in the Posh Portaloo in the middle of a field.  Chances are by this stage you will have had one too many and will rip the second pair too, will give up on the whole thing and will descend the portaloo steps, and then you will spy an interesting Frenchman you have been longing to discuss the state of Anglo French relations with and will spend the next 30 mins nicking his cigarettes, banging on about Carla Brunai and the whole time with a sheer, natural tan tail.   (THIS IS NOT BASED ON A TRUE STORY.)   (OK MAYBE IT IS SLIGHTLY TRUE). 
4) 20 Denier?  Well you might overheat on the tube?  Yes you can wash them 40 times but will you look like Nora Batty? Will you?  Hmm? 
5)  Toeless.  For if you want to wear open toe shoes. 
6)  What exactly is a gusset?
7)  Cooling tights?  Surely the point of tights is to keep you warm??
8)  Anti cellulite tights?  Well now they are just being stupid.
9)  Obviously we want them to make us slimmer.  But HOW MUCH SLIMMER?  Medium strength control?  Full strength? 
10)  Control from our knees to our chin?
11)  Or just control around the bottom?
12)  Control around the waist as well, surely? 
13)  Matt look or oiled??  Oiled makes you sound like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl and that has GOT to be a good thing. 
14)  Whatever you do don't buy shiny. 
15)  Seriously, why do I need a strengthened gusset?  What do they thing is going to happen? 
16)  The stockings or hold up option look lovely on the packet, but in reality by the time you get to Camden Town on the Northern Line they will be rolling down your dimply thighs in a most unsexy fashion.  Best saved for mini breaks. 

You glance around you, lost in a sea of Lycra. You look at what other ladies are popping in their shopping bag in hope of inspiration.  You wish you had a Percy Pig to revive you.

Then. 

In the corner of your eye you spot something new.  Something lovely.  Something familiar.

A Beauty Hall.

Yes my friends, Marks and Sparks has branched out and now has a luxury beauty hall in the big branches.  And it is a wondrous thing.  It has a variety of lovely, unusual brands – not just their own – including Leighton Denny, Ren, Nuxe, Crabtree and Evelyn, Philip Kingsley and Skyn. 

Also, if you are in the market for a polkadot shower cap, some nice spongebags and make up brushes – you are in the right place. 

Here are some pics of just how lovely it is. 






As well as the non M&S brands – I have to say how amazed I was by the quality and variety of M&S make up – specifically the Autograph Collection.  Priced somewhere between Chanel and No7, with glossy packaging, lovely textures, good basics and staples plus some nice fashion shades – it is my new beauty crush.  I invested in this lovely bronzer, which is really good value at £14 and has a lovely glow.  They have a shimmery version and a matt version, so whatever you are after they have it.


I also invested in the Leighton Denny crystal nail file.  At £15 this probably is the most expensive nail file in the world but I am not exaggerating when I say it has changed my nails – it is amazing and my nails no longer split. 

I spent maybe a good 30 mins drifting around.  I never did buy any tights.  But boy, did I leave that store a happier woman. 

Rose x

Monday, 20 May 2013

T minus 6 days to Annie's Wedding


Eyebrows dyed?  Check

Hair highlighted?  Check

Hair conditioning treatment?  Check

Panic lost 7lbs?  Check

At home facial?  Check

3 pairs of control pants bought?  Check

3 pair of control tights bought?   Check

Eyelash extensions?   Check

New giant beige bra?   Check

Pin down Mr Rose and trim his eyebrows?  OUTSTANDING

Have 1st sunbed?  Check

Have 2nd sunbed?  OUTSTANDING

Pin down Mr Rose and slap some St Tropez on him whilst telling him it is just moisturiser?  OUTSTANDING

Shave legs to within inch of life?  OUTSTANDING

Scrub red bobbly arms twice daily and slather with moisturiser?  Check

Pedicure?  SERIOUSLY OUTSTANDING I HAVE CLOVEN HOOFS

Manicure?  OUTSTANDING – though I am manicure ready thanks to amazing new product

Diary cleared to allow for only protein and veg evenings in at home with early nights?  SORT OF

Overnight bag packed with every make up product known to man?  OUTSTANDING
 
Helpin Annie find the perfect natural but not too natural, long lasting but not dry coral lipstick?  OUTSTANDING
 
Keeping my excitement under control?  OUTSTANDING!
 
 
Rose xx
 
 
 
 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Annie and Mr Annie and a chocolate cake

So in just under 3 weeks my darling middle sister will be marrying her beau, Mr Annie. It only seems like yesterday that we were planning weddings for our many Barbie dolls and the one, polygamous Ken doll.

When she got engaged last year and I told friends and colleagues, their first reaction was always 'gosh how lovely' and then they cocked an eyebrow at me and said 'how are you taking it?'. For as the elder and unmarried sister, a sense of Jane Austen still lives in 2013.

But the thing is about love, that even though you may wish you had what they have, you are so pleased they are happy it cancels out the jealousy. I'm fairly sure Annie is deeply jealous of my BLUE SHED and we are both insanely jealous of Izzy's washboard stomach.

Mr Annie is like the little brother I never had, to see them together is a joy because they are not only soul mate ish, but he relentlessly takes the piss out of her, which helps to keep her grounded ;-)

My mum and dad, as you can imagine have been relishing marrying a daughter from home: dad has done full scale models of venues to work out seating plans and conducted raucous blind wine tasting tests which I thoroughly enjoyed. Mum has been sweet talking the local farmer into lending a field for the marquee, bribing old ladies to do the flowers and you can tell she has really got into it now by sending emails with menus for 4 days worth of celebrations.

So just before the wedding on the day itself, we are having egg sandwiches, sausage rolls and my mum's famous Almond Cake. Just reading the email about it gave me an idea and I got my Baking Tickle. This cake is famous throughout Warwickshire and is known to heal the sick. People who barely know her ring up and ask for one.

As Mr Rose has been such a Trojan in the garden this weekend (he is Master of Weeding whereas I'm more of a Creative Director type) I decided he had more than earned a cake. So I found my recipe book, found the page with it on and lo and behold, next to it was a recipe that belonged to my mum's god mother for a chocolate almond cake. So as he is a chocoholic I though I'd try it and he has given it a big thumbs up.

 

 

As you can see its not giant, but its very rich.

To make it you need:

2oz butter
4oz caster sugar
3 beaten eggs
4oz drinking chocolate
2oz SR Flour
2oz ground almonds
1 tsp almond essence
Chuck it all in a 6" cake tin at 180 degrees for 50 mins.

 

Serve to a hungry man on a garden bench while he admires his handiwork.

And no, none for me- I've got a bridesmaid dress to fit into!!!

Love,

Rose xx

 

Banko fun

About 6 months ago, Mr Rose and I were aimlessly wondering around Homebase trying to pick which Crown paint was a good enough copy of Farrow and Ball's Dorset Cream to fool Aunty Mame, when I stumbled on the previously unknown concept of shed paint. Shed paint! I know, brilliant huh?

You can paint your shed violet, rose pink, line green, slate, stone, Cotswold fart - whatever you like.

I clocked the shade 'forget me not' and made a mental note to transform our shed come spring. This weekend was the allotted time so we skipped back to Homebase and bought it. I woke ludicrously early yesterday morning and raced outside to get the first coat on.

The reason for my speed was that I wanted to slip outside before Mr Rose woke up. He is the sort of chap that does things properly - if he'd awoken I'd have been made to read the instructions, prepare the area, wear appropriate clothing, cover the ground etc etc. All of this would have totally ruined my impulsive moment!

I forgot to get a 'before' photo but you get the drift here.

And here is the finished product:

Anyone wondering what the effect was of not preparing the area? Well we now have some rather blue strawberries...

Here is Whispa from next door admiring it

We went to Ikea yesterday and snapped up these amazing solar fairy lights to go in the plum tree next to it:

 

It was so easy, and just a flash of colour at the end of the garden has transformed it.

Love,

Shed Obsessed Rose

(I don't know who I am anymore)

Xx

 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Going, Going, Gone Girl

You have probably seen half of the people on public transport reading this book


I don't normally like thrillers, as I'm a total scaredy cat but I am gripped to this book. 

It has lots of twists and turns and has kept me interested on the Northern Line all this week.  A perfect summer read!

Highly recommended

Rose x



Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Effortless Glamour


I often think that around Easter is the least attractive time for a British female.  We have survived a long winter, not unscathed, and the days of freezing cold wind, the heat from tube carriages and general lack of Vitamin D are taking their toll.   I don't know about you, but I'm finding getting out of bed on cold mornings even harder than normal because the winter has gone ON SO LONG and I can't take it anymore.  Instead of glamming up in the morning I feel like closing the curtains and staying inside with a greasy pony tail and old joggers.    

 
However, the show must go on!  Here are two tricks I've come up with that enable me to stay in my warm cosy bed as long as possible in the morning.

 
Bendy rollers

Hair is the first key to effortless glamour.  Get your hair looking good and it will distract from any winter weariness.  But if I set my alarm half an hour early so I can get up and use my Babyliss Waving Wand for curly locks, or give the mop a proper blow dry then I will guarantee to just hit snooze 4 times till I get up, spray some dry shampoo on the roots and run out the door with the hair of a slattern. 

Now I haven't used these since I was a kid, but I spotted them in Superdrug and thought I'd give them a try.  Old school, huh?!

The beauty is that you wash your hair at night, rough dry it, wind these babies in like this…

Bedtime Chic
 

And then just go to sleep.  OK so they aren't the most comfortable things ever but you get used to them and the brilliant thing is you wake up with hair like this..


Bendy foam rollers - the results!


Which not only always works brilliantly, but the curl lasts till you next wash your hair – giving you glamorous hair for days – for zero work on it in the mornings. 

 

Really thick foundation

If ever I am asked which foundation I use, then the answer is 'well I have about 4 different ones depending on what I need it for, where I'm going and how good my skin is!'. 

The secret is to keep changing it depending on your needs, which can vary from one day to the next. 

In the summer I just use tinted moisturiser (Liz Earle is the best), the foundation that takes me through winter is an Armani one which is heavenly but recently I've been looking so tired it hasn't cut the mustard. 

Like most modern foundations it is really all sheer and light and glowing, which is great if you've had lots of sleep and can top up the patches with concealer and also finish with powder etc.  But who has time for a 3 step programme on a Monday at 7.40am?!  Not me, that's for sure. 

A few weeks ago I rummaged through Annie's make up bag and found Estee Lauder's Double Wear Foundation.  



I put it on and was HOOKED.  With this stuff it is all you will need on your face apart from a touch of blusher.  It lasts all day long.  I put my face through a lot – air conditioning, tube carriages, long days..  but it doesn't ever need touching up. 

Yes it is quite thick, but if you match the colour to your skin tone properly there is no reason why you should look too made up.  And they do 30 shades, so excuse for getting that wrong  ;-)
 
 
So there we have it - a few things to glam you up, really quickly, on cold winter mornings. 
What tips do you have for instant glamour?  Let me know!
 
Rose
xx

Monday, 18 March 2013

The importance of Brand

Mr Rose has many good qualities.

You can name any country in the entire world and he will be able to tell you the current political situation, the state of their economy and a brief history of their wars. 

He is blessed, follically speaking, and will never ever go bald.

He is braver than a lion.

He wears what I tell him to.

He knows all about Wagner. 

He loves going on holiday to exotic, 5 star beach locations with me and never makes me go sightseeing or mountain biking. 

However, nobody is perfect and Mr Rose is what can only be described as a Stubborn Little Bugger.  

For months I've been wanting to try out my new loaf tin from Lakeland, but every time I offer to make him a banana bread, he screws his face up like a toddler being fed a sprout and replies 'well you can make it but I wont be eating any of it because I DESPISE banana bread'. 

Yesterday my darling mum sent me back to London after a very lovely weekend of Warwickshire Rehab – with a bunch of very mouldy bananas that had 'come off the back of a lorry'. 

(Don't ask)

So I was determined to make some banana bread for Mr Rose's breakfasts (he has a tendency to leave the house to go and run a government department with only an apple inside him – I see it as my duty to the Nation to make sure he arrives at Westminster well fed).

I needed to get rid of him for about half an hour while I went about my secret mission so I nonchalantly asked if he knew where my records were for a savings account.  He bounded up the stairs 2 at a time and spent a merry half an hour tutting at how bad my filing was till he jubilantly found it. 

By which time I'd whipped up banana bread, chucked in some raisins and REBRANDED it.
So when he approached the kitchen to see what I'd been up to, he was presented with Breakfast Loaf – a new concoction of mine.  Full of protein, goodness and fruit to keep him going on his way into the office. 

Reader, he wolfed it down and had another slice this morning for breakfast, so Her Majesty's Government is being properly run today – we can all rest easy. 

The recipe was got from one of my all time fave blogs:  Esther Walker's Recipe Rifle (read it, it is magnificent) – and the exact recipe can be found here.  She has 3 different banana bread recipes on the site, but this was the only one which I didn't need to go and buy new ingredients for.   The only thing I changed was adding in 2 handfuls of dried chopped raisins and apricots.

So here's to fooling boyfriends with the rebranding of banana bread!  Pics below...

Rose
x


Breakfast Loaf - not banana bread!!

Aren't the daffs lovely? 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Bree Van De Kamp comes to North London

I thought I'd share this amazing cookie recipe with you.
 

Now Mum – before you start fanning yourself and exclaiming that I shouldn’t be eating cookies due to the bottom the size of China issue – please note this was as part of my efforts to turn my road into Wysteria Lane. 

One of my lovely neighbours had a gorgeous baby girl a few weeks ago, and as she had a rather long birth ended in an emergency C-Section I felt she was definitely in need of some spoiling.   So I googled 'best ever cookies' and this recipe came up!

It worked really well was super easy, making me look like Bree Van De Kamp.  They are doughy, gooey, and indulgent just like Ben's Cookies. 

 
Double Chocolate Cookies, Makes 12: 200g butter, 200g golden soft sugar, 100gcaster sugar, 1 large egg, 275g self-raising flour, 75g cocoa powder, three BIG bars of chocolate (white, milk and dark), a dollop of milk.
 
Blend the butter and sugar, really soft almost runny butter works best.  Then basically shove everything else in - if it is a bit dry add a dash of milk.  The choc should be quite decent sized chunks.

Bake for about 10 mins, maybe less.  If they come out looking a bit raw don't worry, as they cool they will continue to cook a bit and you want them nice and gooey. 

Here they are pre oven – do admire the lovely Mrs Chicken in the background

 

 

And here is the finished object. 

Yummy double chocolate cookies
 
 
 

So just pop on a full face of make up, pop them into a charming basket with a gingham ribbon and deliver 90%* of them to your nicest neighbour. 




*Obviously Mr Rose wasn't going to let all of my baking leave the house unsampled


Happy Baking!

Rose x