DOMESTIC GODDESSING

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Last night, I decided to be a nice girlfriend and make Henry supper. I envisioned a cosy evening of red pepper and chorizo soup, a fresh farmhouse loaf, and a pot overflowing with girlfriend points. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty smug as I unpacked all my organic produce and got to work. I was a domestic goddess of the first degree! 

As per usual, calamity ensued. A pesky chilli ruined my perfectly laid plan.

*Image via WeHeartIt*

It's a pretty fundamental rule of cooking, really; after chopping up a chilli, wash your hands. Wash them good. Unfortunately, in my little bubble of sweating onions whilst shimmying along to Days Are Gone (Haim forever!), this little tip of hygiene and self-preservation escaped me. And then I apparently touched my face.

Fast forward twenty minutes, and I was going nuts, eyes streaming, blasting my face with the shower, while a bright red moustache-shaped irritation erupted on my upper lip. Not the cool chef I had envisioned, I was a flailing mess whose head felt close to spontaneous combustion.

There was only one thing for it.

I had to smother my face in mango and vanilla yoghurt.

Which actually really helped. Until I licked took it off. So then I had to reapply.

Henry, naturally, spent the whole evening laughing at me. My culinary delight had been reduced to a scene involving yoghurt on my eyelashes, and inevitably, in my eyes, and after my impromptu face mask had taken effect (around half an hour) a bright red, Movember worthy 'tache on my face.

And supper wasn't served until nearly eleven.

I think I'll wait a while before my next kitchen foray. 

Mona.

LOMOGRAPHY ACTION SAMPLER

Sunday, 10 November 2013

For me, few things beat the excitement of getting a set of snaps back from the LomoLab. A few months ago I acquired an ActionSampler on my travels, and although the photos are far from perfect, to me they are wonderful little reminders of some brilliant times. 







The old-timesy quality of film photographs will never cease to delight me... And at just £29, this little camera seems a bargain for all of the sequential snaps now adorning my walls. It's light as a feather, looks adorable out of use on my shelf, and is as easy to use as a disposable camera.

Have you gotten your mitts on a Lomo? 

Mona.

L’OREAL SIN PERFECTION RANGE - REVIEW

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Until this year, I’ve been seriously lucky with my skin. Apart from the occasional monster-spot, I’d always had a really clear complexion, and any skincare regime I’d adhered to had been more for fun and pampering than due to any real need for something to sort my skin out. I’d always had gargantuan pores, but that’s not too drastic.

However, at the grand old age of twenty-three I developed acne, which was scarring quite badly. My skincare needs morphed from ‘smells nice and makes me feel fancy’, to ‘will actually make a difference to the appearance/feel/general wellbeing of my face’.


So I was delighted to be given a few bits and bobs from L’Oreal’s Skin Perfection Range to try, and thought I’d share the results with you!


First impressions of these products are that they look lovely, have a really nice texture, and smell wonderful. (Funny story - my boyfriend actually nicked the moisturiser a few times until I had to ask him to stop. He felt really bad and asked if it was because it’s expensive. I had to tell him that no, but it’s weird kissing a man who’s face smells so girly. Needless to say, product thievery has become a thing of the past.)

I’ve been using the Cleansing and Perfecting Milk, the Velvety Soft Toner, the Serum* and the Day Moisturiser* for a month now, twice a day (if I remember), and the difference to my skin is remarkable.

I’m not going to claim that these products are a miracle cure for acne. Mine is improving due to a face wash prescribed by my dermatologist, an effort to drink more water and be more careful with my diet, and the fact that I’ve started to exercise more regularly. I think that a lot of people expect mind-blowing results from new beauty products, but at the end of the day there is so much more to a healthy complexion than simply what goop you’re applying to your face.

Having said that, I really love these products. The cleanser and toner are lovely and gentle, my skin feels so clean and smooth after using them, and my face smells like a bunch of flowers, which I really like. A lot. I’ve also noticed a huge improvement in the scarring on my cheeks, and my pores look a lot smaller.

Basically, I think that these products are fab. No, there’s no miracle cure for your skin, but in my (very humble) opinion, these are pretty damned close. They’ll also leave you feeling wonderfully pampered – far more than anything I’ve tried in a similar price range. I actually get a little bit excited about using this range, every day. Clearly I need more adventure in my life!

Thank you very much, L’Oreal Paris – these get a big thumbs up from me!

Have you tried any products from the Skin Perfection range? What did you think of them?

Mona.

Products marked with an * are PR samples

CIDER MAKING

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

A few weekends ago, Henry, Baloo and I took a trip to Wiltshire to help some friends with the annual cider-making. A weekend of idyllic out-doorsy pursuits entailed, so I thought I'd share some sepia-toned snaps with you.

As a newbie to the cider scene, I thought I'd take a step back from the mulching and other technical aspects of the job, and instead offered my finely honed tree-climbing abilities to the apple collecting team. Baloo spent the weekend hustling the little'uns like a pro, and feasting on their Pombears, mince pies, and other treats.













It's such a treat sometimes to spend a few days doing something completely different from everyday life - especially with the knowledge that when we return, it will be to sample the fruits of our labout! All in all, it was a weekend well-spent with great company, food, drink, and clean country air to blow out the cobwebs. Although I wouldn't complain if I didn't see another apple for a while*.

Mona.

*Although I will happily make an exception if someone would like to make me some toffee apples?

WICKED AT THE APOLLO VICTORIA THEATRE

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A few weeks ago, I was offered two tickets to see Wicked by Shows in London. As a chronic show-tunes shower-singer, my answer was an instantaneous YES of the biting-off-your-hand variety. Fast forward a few days, and Fran and I were sitting in our (very nice) seats at the Apollo Victoria, bouncing up and down in our seats in anticipation, bemoaning the fact that no one else dresses up for the theatre any more, and giggling like loons over the time we went to see Mamma Mia in the cinema and she leaned over and whispered "Is this a musical?", mid-I Have a Dream.


And then the show started, and we were both stunned into silence by the sheer brilliance of the show.

This has been a difficult post to write - I am by no means an expert on musical theatre, and the expectation from a lot of blog readers seems to be that if you've been given something for free, you'll just say loads of gushingly nice things about it. However, my praise of Wicked has nothing to do with the fact that it was a comped experience, and everything to do with the fact that it was, hands down, the best thing I have ever seen in the theatre. 


Seriously. The show itself is fantastic (in terms of story-line, script, music), but the production blew me away. In everything from it's set design to it's choreography, I was left completely mesmerised (and the costumes were the stuff of my dressing-up box's wildest dreams. 

I wish I could dress up like Glinda every day, but my family, friends, boyfriend and pets would probably disown me.
Image from here
For me, however, the highlight of the show was Louise Dearman, who played Elpheba. Her performance was so, so wonderful, I had to gulp back tears at her solos (my mantra was "you WILL NOT cry in front of the other bloggers and journalists. Repeat. You WILL NOT" etc.). To use a very tired but totally appropriate cliche, I felt shivers up my spine when she sang. She was sensational.

As was my interval ice cream. I am nothing if not a die-hard theatre traditionalist.
All in all, Wicked was a jaw-droppingly good show, and I cannot believe that anybody wouldn't enjoy it. This is escapism at it's best, I really was transported to Oz for the evening! You can get tickets from just £18 from Shows in London, so please please do so, and let me know what you think!

I promise that it will knock you're jewelled slippers off.

And in case you're wondering, Defying Gravity is my new favourite shower show-tune.

That is all.

Mona. 

LOTMEAD FARM

Monday, 29 July 2013

Hi Cool Cats!

I spent the last few days with some amazing friends in Wiltshire. It was a slightly scary weekend, as I was introducing them to my new fella Henry for the first time... (You've already met him though, we've known each other for yonks and he was my little helper when I made my Raspberry & Basil Sorbet.) I'm pleased to report it went very well and we all left firm friends. The weather was determined to ruin all of our plans, but we made the best of it; a little indoor picnic never hurt anybody, did it?

As there were a few hours of sunshine yesterday, Henry and I decided to make a detour on the way home, and found ourselves at Lotmead Farm for a spot of strawberry picking. 


I think that strawberry picking is the best idea ever. It's a really fun, lovely, and peaceful afternoon, and you're left with a ton of goodies to take home. I love fresh fruit, and this is a much cheaper way of getting it than the supermarket.

Flower-crown - Topshop; T Shirt - ASOS; Dungarees - Topshop; Handbag - Topshop; Boots - Russell & Bromley


We spent about an hour foraging for the ripest, reddest strawberries, stopping occasionally for a taste. I had a strawberry patch in the garden when I was little, and was told to find the slightly manky berries that had been nibbled by insects, as they know which ones are sweetest. It's completely true, if you chop of the nasty bits they're perfect (also you don't have to feel guilty about eating them while you're there, as they'd only go to waste otherwise).


The strawberries at Lotmead are delicious - far superior to anything I've bought this year.


In the strawberry fields, we bumped into the owner, who told us a bit about the farm (they've planted over sixty thousand strawberry plants this year - enough to satiate even the most fanatic picker!).


He very kindly showed us where the best, unplundered plants were, and told us to check the strawberries the whole way around before picking them, as some haven't ripened totally yet.


Eventually, having filed our punnet and our tummies, we headed to the farm shop, to pay up, and grab some locally baked cookies and shortbread, for sustenance on the return journey. 


The farm shop also sold jam sugar, so let's just say I've got big plans for my spoils of the day.


We found Lotmead Farm through pickyourown.org, which is a perfect little website if you fancy grabbing some fresh, local produce. You can find everything from your berries to your vegetables (but I don't like vegetables - I think they're boring). 

How was your weekend?

Mona.

WELCOME TO THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Hi Cool Cats,

I'm not sure if I've ever really mentioned this before, but I'm an Islander, born-and-raised. These days I'm just as likely to be found wandering around London or Berkshire, but the Isle of Wight is still (and probably always will be) where I consider to be my real home. 

Not too shabby, huh?

I've been hiding out down here quite a lot this summer (I don't think I'd be able to survive this heat without being able to dip my head in the sea at regular intervals!) and Baloo agrees; much as he loves the hustle and bustle as what we bumpkins refer to as 'the Mainland', he's a beach bum at heart.


Whenever I come down here, I find myself irresistibly drawn to my old childhood pursuits. These include (but are not limited to):

(1) Tree-climbing: like a (red) squirrel.


(2) Country drives - I say "drives", but I'm actually being driven. At the grand old age of 23, that pesky pink license still alludes me.


(3) Playing in the Sea - My favourite game is one called Pirates, where you jump on to other peoples vessels and capsize them, leaping back to your own without getting wet (if you're a very skilled pirate),  and infuriating friends, siblings, and the occasional unsuspecting stranger as you make your escape, calling back "TAKE THAT, YE SCAR FACED MANGEY CURRRRR!!!!".

Ahem. It is possibly best to avoid any kind of water-based activities with me.


(4) Treasure Hunting - There are few things that give me more pleasure than wandering through little village stalls and shops on a sunny afternoon. My room is stuffed full of knick-knacks appropriated on such meanderings.


(5) Cream Teas - no explanation necessary, right?


(6) Fancy Dress - here is a fetching picture of me dressed as a unicorn, for your pleasure. 


Anyway, I was wondering if you'd be interested in a few posts which detail (slightly more thoroughly) my favourite places and activities down here? Either just for funsies, or if you've been considering a visit? A sort of Mona's Guide to the Isle of Wight style thing? 

I have a feeling that Baloo and I could write a pretty comprehensive guide, and it is the year of the Staycation, apparently!
Please let me know what you think!
Enjoy the sunshine,

Mona. 

WEDDING

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My beautiful cousin Louise tied the knot on Saturday. She was the most stunning bride...


It's actually a really sweet story. She met her husband on holiday in New Zealand, and they had a long-distance relationship for three years, when he asked her to move to Australia to be with him! She upped and left for a new life full of love and sunshine, and they came back to Scotland to get married.

Obviously this wasn't an occasion to pass up on, so my family packed into the car and made the (long) journey up to Pitlochry.

It was exciting for lots of reasons. My big brother needs little excuse to don a kilt, we were all excited for the ceilidh, and it was the first time that my cousins have all been together since my littlest brother (the baby of the whole family) was born!


We had a big cousin's breakfast in the hotel, and then after a big girly getting ready session, wandered down to the church, chattering our heads off and carrying our heels until it was time for photos, when our flatties were left to sunbathe...


After a beautiful ceremony, we all crowded around Lou in the church yard to offer our congratulations (and to sneak a better look at her dress and her beautiful orchids). 


We were given bubble wands instead of confetti... It took me right back to my childhood, blowing bubbles in the sunshine with my massive family!


I wore a flower crown and dress from Topshop, a Tiffany bracelet, a vintage handbag, and very old Urban Outfitters shoes.


I wasn't the only one dressed up to the nines... I lost my heart to this dapper Scotsman!


The reception was a total blast.


It began as quite a civilised affair, giggling with my cousins in the sunshine, and getting to know the latest addition to the clan (the Groom, James - you'll be pleased to hear we all thoroughly approve!)...


... Before we were invited to sit down for the speeches. Yes, we all laughed lots and a few tears were shed!


Our place settings included little boxes of chocolates (mine may or may have disappeared before the starter...)


After an amazing meal, we all kicked off our heels and tore up the dance floor to the fantastic band, Ceilidh Monogue. I love a good plan, and apparently so does Louise; she booked them on the name alone! Luckily though, the gamble paid off, they really got everybody moving! 

We only took two breaks from dancing. One for cake (of course!)...


... And one to get a snap of all the cousins!


Apparently a love for silly photos is deeply engrained in our shared DNA. That's one for the photo-album, I think!

Mona.
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