My WilliamVintage appointment

If you follow me on Twitter you might be aware that a few weeks ago I won a competition hosted by the man who Vogue dubs “the vintage king” – Mr William Banks-Blaney.

Obviously when I say you might be aware, I’m being sarcastic; I’ve talked about it A LOT. I’m pretty sure that Charlie thought I was having a panic attack as I checked my phone half way through dinner and promptly started hyperventilating over William’s congratulatory message! After taking a few deep breaths I contacted William to arrange an appointment to choose my prize – a stylish autumn coat – and started day dreaming about spending the afternoon in the company of a man who dresses one of my favourite women in the world (Dawn Porter) as well as a whole host of inspirational/beautiful ladies including Lana del Ray, Tilda Swinton and Eva Green.

WilliamVintage store
WilliamVintage in London

As the morning of ‘coat day’ arrived, I headed over to WilliamVintage for my one-to-one appointment, armed with a nervous smile and a box full of homemade chocolate truffles (I’m pretty sure I’m incapable  of turning up to anything empty handed). William greeted me at the door with a huge grin and immediately made me feel welcome in his world; a world filled with beautiful haute couture Dior, pristine Courreges and the finest Yves Saint Laurent.

Watching William at work was an awe-inspiring experience. As he talked about his recent finds, his passion and extensive knowledge came alive; this man knows each piece like the back of his hand and is one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met. You only have to listen to him speak for 60 seconds to realise just how deeply his obsession runs! Despite being an appointment only boutique, WilliamVintage is far from pretentious – both Will and WilliamVintage’s Director Elspeth were personable, open and incredibly lovely. As I tried on a mountain of stunning coats, capes and jackets I knew that he would give me an honest opinion and not just try to ‘sell’ me anything in order to turn a profit. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting William will know that he derives genuine pleasure from helping someone find that perfect piece, whether you’re a competition winner with an empty purse or a regular client with an extensive bank account.

vintage coat
vintage coat shopping

I could have listened to William talk for hours about the treasures in his store – everything was immaculate, each item beautifully cared for and presented – but after spending forever sighing over haute couture and spinning around in beautiful coats, I finally managed to narrow down my favourites. Part of me could have quite happily skipped home in a floor length aubergine velvet cape (it had a seriously amazing hood that almost covered my whole face) but the sensible side of my brain stopped me from being too hasty.

When I walked in the door of WilliamVintage I had no personal criteria; all I dreamed of was a beautiful coat that would last me a lifetime. Although I had no preconceptions about the colour, the fabric or the cut, I actually ended up being torn between two fairly similar coats, both from the 1960’s and both detailing minx fur collars. The grey Sixties swing coat with dreamy creamy fur was hard to leave behind, but I consoled myself by taking home this hand tailored cashmere beauty – in the end it won out thanks to its elegance and charm. Everything about it feels magical, from the pockets, the length and the lining, to the fur and those beautifully crafted buttons…it is one of those special pieces of clothing that makes you feel like a new person when you wear it.

vintage fur coat
vintage swing coat

Homemade Halloween

Originally this was going to be a straight forward “How To…Make A Poison Ivy Costume” post, but I had an absolute nightmare creating it and so, I’ve decided against that title – it’s entirely my own fault for being so stubborn and envisaging such a high calibre costume!

This Halloween my fellow hosts and I decided to run with a Batman villain theme; we had Bane, Scarecrow, Cat Woman, Two Face, the Joker, the Penguin, Harley Quinn and Black Mask. After some deliberating, I opted to dress more along the lines of comic book Poison Ivy than Uma Thurman’s portrayal in Batman & Robin, which meant I either had to go naked or find a green strapless bodysuit/leotard. Let me tell you now – unless you want to spend a fortune, it’s basically an impossible task! I preferably wanted a corseted bodysuit that would hold everything in, but it proved difficult enough to find anything that was long enough in the body AND kept my boobs under control.

Poison Ivy costume, Bane costume
Poison Ivy and Scarecrow

After checking eBay and Amazon everyday for almost a month, I cast the net wider and hit up every possible shop Westfield had to offer on the hunt for anything that looked remotely flattering and cost less than £30; I even resorted to riffling through the Ann Summers sale. Five hours later, I admitted defeat and it was only by chance that I found a black lycra bodysuit for £12.99 in TKMAXX the next day. My long red wig came from eBay for £10.99 (and was worth every penny) as did my Emerald Stargazer lipstick (£3.35) and I found some reasonably priced artificial ivy on Amazon for £4.90. My green tights came in at £1.50 from trusty old Primark and I used superglue (£4) to attach the leaves. Be warned – I spent hours sewing on an under layer of green fabric (I used my apron from last years costume) and I had to kindly ask my boyfriend to glue the ivy on to the bodysuit whilst I was a. wearing it and b. lying down to stop gravity taking its toll on the glue! I finished off the costume with black ankle boots and a green cardigan from my wardrobe. The cardigan was a stroke of luck as not only hid the back of the bodysuit – which I neglected after realising the leaves were going to fall off every 5 minutes – but it kept me warm on a cold evening.

PURSE FRIENDLY TOTAL = £37.73

I also made a few more tasty themed treats this year. The ginger dead men made a welcome return, whilst the pumpkin shaped rice krispie marshmellow bites and graveyard chocolate cake proved popular with our ghoulish guests. Charlie and I wanted to display our guacamole and crisps in an inventive way, so we carved a lovely vomiting pumpkin and spread the dip over a chopping board!

gingerdead man
pumpkin rice krispie treats
graveyard cake
vomit pumpkin

Just Desserts: Strawberry and caramel cheesecake

Remember back in August when I made Chocolate Pudding Cups for Domestic Sluttery’s ‘Just Desserts’ club? Well this time around the theme was cheesecake. Since the last cheesecake I attempted failed spectacularly (sob) I was eager to try a new recipe. Until last week I’d never made a baked cheesecake before, so, with a determined attitude and my sleeves rolled up, I dove straight in.

Confession time; this should have been a caramel and macadamia cheesecake but I accidentally burnt the caramel and used all of the nuts in the first batch. Drama! As non of my local shops seem to stock macadamia nuts, I had to improvise and alter the recipe slightly…but hey, it’s all part of the baking process, right? Aside from the additional strawberry topping, this recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s first cookbook. Enjoy!

strawberry and caramel cheesecake recipe

The cake:

  • 160g dry biscuits
  •  40g unsalted butter
  • 600g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 60ml soured cream icing sugar for dusting

The caramel sauce:

  • 65g unsalted butter
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream


Make it!

  • Pre-heat the over to 140°C and lightly grease a springform cake tin, lining the base and sides with baking parchment.
  • Whizz the biscuits in a food processor (or do it the old fashioned way and beat to death with a rolling pin) then mix with melted butter until you have a damp, sandy consistency. Transfer to your tin and flatten out evenly with a spoon/your hands.
  • Put the sugar and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways in half and scrape the seeds out into the bowl, then mix until smooth.
  • Gradually add the eggs and soured cream, whisking until smooth. Pour the mixture over the top of your biscuit base and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 60-70 minutes until set; a skewer should inserted into the centre should come out with a slightly wet crumb.
  • Leave to cool in the tin until room temperature, then release. Be warned – transferring to a plate can be tricky with such a delicate cake! Serve on the cake tin base if you don’t trust yourself to drop it (or get a lovely assistant to help you lift it). Chill the cake for at least a couple of hours in the fridge.
  • To make the sauce, put the butter and sugar in a thick bottomed saucepan and stir constantly over a low heat with a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth, dark caramel colour. The butter and sugar will look as if they have split but don’t worry, just keep stirring! Once you’ve reached that yummy colour, carefully add all the cream whilst stirring vigorously. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • To finish the cake, dust the edges with some icing sugar and pour your caramel sauce into the centre; depending on how long ago you made the sauce, you may need to heat it slightly. Top with freshly washed and cut strawberries et voila! You should have a beautiful cake that will keep in the fridge for 3 days.

Ten Lovely Things: Autumn

As friends and regular readers will know, autumn is my favourite time of year. The crisp air, the smell of bonfires, colourful leaves on a grey pavement, homemade soups and pies, layering with chunky cardigans, wearing knitted socks and boots…there’s something about this time of year that makes everything feel enchanted, like anything is possible.

If like me you’re currently feeling a little overwhelmed by the world, why not take a step back and pick something lovely to do from my autumnal list – I’m making it my mission to savour every moment.

things to do in autumn

Bake a pie
If you’re lucky enough to have the weekend off, why not bake a pie? Savoury or sweet, there’s nothing better than sitting down in front of a good movie with a thick slice of homemade pie and a pot of tea.

Put together a weather appropriate playlist
You know when you’re listening to music on your journey to work and light bursts through the trees at the perfect moment, or when the beat of a certain song matches your footfall and for a second everything feels awesome? That’s what your autumn playlist should sound like.

Put a pair of fresh pyjamas on the radiator for 10 minutes before putting them on
Mmmm, cosy pyjamas. Need I say anything else?

Write a letter to a friend
When everyone is running around like it’s the end of the world, it can be difficult to find time to see even your nearest and dearest. If you’re struggling to pin down your pals, set aside an hour in the evening and write to a friend you haven’t seen in a while; having an unexpected letter land on the doorstep can put a smile on someones face for the rest of the week.

Make a vat of soup
Whether my bones are aching, I’m suffering from a cold, or when I just fancy something for lunch that will warm my cockles, soup never fails to sooth me. Making your own is fun (and easy!) plus if you’re super organised, you can make a ton and take it into work with you; you’ll be the envy of all your colleagues AND you’ll save money too.

Find your nearest woodland/park and go for a walk
I can’t recommend this enough, especially if you don’t go to the gym very often or if your work requires you to sit down all day. Taking half an hour to stretch your legs, clear your head and get some fresh air will not only re-energise you, it will inspire you.

Turn off your computer and curl up with a good book
Even if you don’t work with computers, chances are you still spend far too much time staring at a flickering screen. Your laptop, your iPad, your phone, your television…turn it all off for an hour and get lost in a book instead – your brain will thank you for it.

Eat dinner by candlelight
I used to live in an area that was susceptible to power cuts in winter, which resulted in eating dinner by candlelight on more than one occasion. One time in particular, my housemates and I had just finished baking pastries when the lights went out and the TV fell silent; we ended up having a wonderful evening filled with conversation, wine and soft lighting! Instead of drifting into your usual dinnertime routine, turn out the lights, turn off the TV and light some candles – you might have fun! Make sure you have plenty of cheese and a good bottle of wine to give it that extra autumnal atmosphere.

Compile a list of things you’re thankful for
I know it sounds a bit soppy, but if the change in seasons has left you feeling lost at sea, the best thing you can do is focus on the positive anchors in your life. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and be honest with yourself – does your life really suck? List EVERYTHING that you’re grateful for, even the smallest details, like the ticket man who smiles at you in the morning, or the woman in the coffee shop who knows what you want without asking.

Treat yourself to some new socks
Nothing, I repeat, nothing, beats a new brand new pair of fluffy socks.

Making macaroons (for the first time)

Although I bake quite often, I have the bad habit of sticking to a handful of recipes that I can do well. I know it’s naughty but I can’t help myself – when I’ve made something pretty and I’m proud of it, I don’t want to make anything else! This week I decided that I needed to pull myself out of the recipe rut, so I stepped away from the cupcakes, put down the truffle tray and tackled a sweet treat that I’ve wanted to try for a while…the macaroon.

I must admit, I was a little nervous about the whole process (my piping bags tend to be reserved for decorating) however, they turned out quite nicely for my first attempt even if I do say so myself. I made two different flavours – raspberry and lemon – and both mixtures were just ever so slightly off the mark. The lemon mix was a little too thick and didn’t produce that polished coat that one associates with a well made macaroon, where as the raspberry mixture went the other way and was a tad too runny; it did have the smooth shiny surface, but they expanded quite a lot on the baking tray.

I followed the recipe from The Great British Book of Baking but used food colouring instead of colouring paste.

macaroon recipe

Lemon macaroons (makes 6 pairs)

  • 1 x medium egg
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 60g icing sugar, sieved
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Yellow food colouring

Strawberry macaroons (makes 6 pairs)

  • 1 x medium egg
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 60g icing sugar, sieved
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Red food colouring

The rest:

  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon curd
  • 1 tablespoon of seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 baking trays lined with non-stick baking parchment
  • A piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain tube


Make it!

  • Preheat the oven to 140. Draw 12 even circles roughly 5cm across on the lining paper on each tray.
  • To make the lemon macaroons, put the egg white, caster sugar and a TINY amount of food colouring into a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until the mixture is very thick and moose-like.
  • Combine the almonds and icing sugar and gradually whisk in, then continue whisking for 1 minute until you have a smooth, shiny and thick mixture.
  • Spoon into the piping bag and pipe inside the circles to make 12 small macaroons.
  • Rinse out the piping bag and repeat the process for your raspberry macaroons.
  • Place both trays in the oven for around 25 minutes, until firm. Remove and leave to cool – you should now have 24 colourful tops and bottoms!
  • When ready to assemble, whip the cream until stiff then divide in half. Swirl the lemon through one portion of cream so that there are visible streaks of lemon. Repeat with the raspberry and second portion of cream.
  • Spoon the lemon filling into a clean piping bag and pipe a good dollop of cream onto the underside of 6 yellow macaroons. Use the other six 6 to sandwich.
  • Clean the piping bag and repeat with the raspberry macaroons. Chill until ready to serve.

Money Supermarket’s Passion For Fashion Competition

Last week I came across a styling competition on Money Supermarket asking bloggers to create their perfect outfits for 5 different occasions; party, casual, outdoor, first date and office wear. The catch? Each look has to come in under £200, including shoes and accessories. Having found myself with a little spare time on my hands recently, I thought it would make a nice change of pace to show you what I’ll be coveting this season – autumn is my favourite time of year to buy clothes, and this provided me with the perfect excuse to do a spot of window shopping/bargain hunting!

PARTY

Sometimes it’s hard to find a pretty dress that costs less than £50, which is why I jumped on this £38 floral number as soon as I saw it. As the outfit is for a party I chose to forgo tights, which meant finding a dress that wasn’t cut too short for my frame (hence why I headed to Topshop’s tall section). I know that for some of you out there, this outfit might not be daring or sparkly enough for a party, but for me, it’s perfect; it’s opulence on a shoe string! The baroque trend is definitely one of the most decadent this season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it on a budget – keep an eye out jacquard fabrics, soft leathers, and heavily embellished jewellery.I opted for a colour palette of forest green, luxurious purple and deep black to give my outfit a ‘pretty meets gothic’ vibe. I don’t like wearing heels in winter (especially if there’s frost on the ground) which is why I opted for flats instead of stilettos. I wanted something patent to match the belt, and when I saw these Moschino style slippers, I fell in love – they’re a steal at £17.99! There are so many elements in this look that can easily be dressed up or down, that it’s almost like having two outfits; the dress could easily be transformed into a skirt by adding an oversized jumper, tights and boots, the vampish lipstick can be toned down by mixing with lip balm and applying lightly with a brush, and all of the accessories would work well with a casual outfit.

Party outfit

TOTAL = £175.99 (£24.01 left over for a cab home after you’ve partied the night away)

CASUAL
Those of you who know me will testify that this casual outfit is probably the truest depiction of my wardrobe! My day-to-day look is inspired by off duty cool – it’s laid back, but with understated fashion notes, like the Breton striped top and 60’s style oversized sunglasses. Adding a trench and skinny black jeans to the mix gives the whole outfit a classic vibe; think of yourself as a modern day Coco Chanel or Audrey Hepburn. Keeping up to date with the latest trends can be exhausting (and not to mention seriously expensive!) but the beauty of this outfit is that it’s built on a solid foundation of staple pieces that have stood the test of time. If you choose your casual wardrobe carefully and shop for classic shapes and styles, you’ll get the most out of your wardrobe without spending a fortune.

TOTAL = £195.12 (£4.88 left over for a slice of cake and a pot of tea)

OUTDOOR

For me this look encapsulates everything I love about autumn and winter – it’s snuggly, warm, pretty AND practical! I can just imagine walking through the snow to a quiet coffee shop and curling up on a huge sofa (with a good book and a cup of tea) in this outfit. Like all good outdoorsy outfits, this look takes its inspiration from English heritage, brands like Burberry Prorsum, and of course, the rural countryside. In my opinion an outdoors outfit should be a mishmash of fabrics and patterns like tartans and tweeds, houndstooth, plaid, thick woollen cable knits and delicate Fair Isle. Having said that, you don’t want to look like you’ve just jumped in and out of your wardrobe; the aim is to look effortless, not crazy! I actually prefer dressing for the cold because I get to play around with layering – you can change a whole outfit just by adding another cardigan or jumper. Layering is also great for your bank balance, as you’ll wear some of your thinner jumpers right through to spring! This denim shirt dress could easily be worn without tights at the start of the summer (with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of cute sandals) and a good pair of wellingtons will last you for years.

TOTAL = £198.98 (£1.02 left over for a bag of marsh mellows to roast on the fire)

FIRST DATE
Choosing what to wear on a first date is quite possibly one of the most stressful moments caused by your wardrobe; it’s up there with dressing for fashion week and deciding what to wear for a job interview. My date night outfit doesn’t have a particularly romantic theme as I’m not a very girly girl, and I would never dream of wearing something like a body-con dress and heels on a first date! Taking its inspiration from the AW12 runway, this look is feminine without trying too hard. There are no frills or flowers; instead it’s relaxed, simplistic and modern. The clean lines of the dress remind me of casual cool brand Acne, whilst the ‘geek chic’ elements (like the patent loafers and charcoal liner) are influenced by Paul Smiths preppy collection. To me, this outfit is confident and approachable – which is exactly how I would want to appear on a first date – and if the man didn’t last, then at least the clothes would stand the test of the British winter! Adding thick tights to the dress and layering with chunky jumpers and cardigans as the weather gets worse is the perfect way to take this outfit right through to summer 2013.

first date outfit
TOTAL = £189.49 (£10.51 left over for a bottle of wine)

OFFICE WEAR
Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to work in places where my wardrobe isn’t restricted to the usual black skirts, white shirts, nude tights and heels. In light of this, I’ve put together a look that transcends the stereotypical office wear; something classic, tailored and smart, yet preppy and fashionable too. Inspired by masculine cuts (with a little heritage and graphic influence thrown in for good measure) it’s androgynous with a twist. I love the idea of mixing ‘smart colours’ like black, grey and navy with a pop of pink or a splash of yellow; it gives the whole outfit an overall runway aesthetic. In my opinion, dressing appropriately for work is about finding the balance between what you should wear and what you like to wear – I’m a firm believer that everything you wear for to the office should fit into your everyday wardrobe too! This cable knit jumper would look equally great teamed with jeans and trainers, the hot pink lipstick can be worn all year round, and the laptop case doubles up as a clutch bag if you decide to go out for cocktails after work.

cool office outfit

TOTAL = £197.98 (£2.02 left to buy yourself a coffee with at lunch)

The Burning House

“If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.”

the burning house

I’d been meaning to submit something to The Burning House for a while after becoming addicted to the site last year, but every time I attempted to curate my belongings I hit a barrier. It may sound trite, but for me, the word conflict really sums up the whole process up perfectly. As I looked around my room, I found myself questioning everything; did I really care about saving my laptop? Did that make me a materialistic douchebag? In years to come would I regret not rescuing more photographs? Should I leave everything of monetary value behind and focus purely on the sentimental?

After trying (and failing) a number of times to whittle my life down to a handful of items, I came across A Sentimental-less Dimension – a lovely post written by the equally lovely Spadge. There was something in the familiarity of her words that made me want to try again, and a few minutes later, I found myself emailing Foster Huntington, with my submission. READ MY ENTRY HERE!

Stand Up Tall: An up hill battle

Just recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my self confidence and how it relates to my size. Actually, perhaps it’s the opposite – I’ve been thinking about my size, and what effect it’s had on my confidence over the years.

A few weeks ago I came across this blog post over at Fuller Figure, Fuller Bust (which I INSIST you read after you’re finished here) where Georgina goes into detail about why she doesn’t hate skinny women, why slender women and curvy women shouldn’t be pitted against one another, and why the body snarking war so utterly ridiculous. Whilst I found myself nodding along in agreement, it was her sign off that has really stuck with me;

“every woman has the potential to be perfect in the eyes of someone else”.

Now everyone has personal preferences. You’re entitled to them. From food, clothes and sexual positions, to height, shape, or weight – one man’s/woman’s ‘trash’ is another’s treasure. Some gentlemen prefer blondes. Some women prefer their boyfriends to be taller than them. When it comes to my figure, I personally feel more confident as a size 12 than a size 10 or 14. My body has changed as I’ve got older – it changes when I exercise, it changes when I eat a weeks worth of cake in one sitting, and it will change when I have children – but the one thing that hasn’t changed since I turned 14 years old is my height. Many of us have those “I wish I was thinner/curvier” moments, but your height is one aspect of yourself that you cannot change, that you have to learn to love like nothing else; it’s something that will barely alter you’ve gone through puberty.

The idea that every woman has the potential to be perfect in the eyes of someone else is a beautiful concept, but unfortunately it’s something humanity has lost sight of thanks to a constant onslaught of media telling us who has “piled on the pounds” or become “scarily skinny”. To be fair to the press, it isn’t entirely their fault; this is something we do to each other all the time. We judge people by their appearance more than ever before – through blogs, through Facebook, over Twitter, through Instagram with hashtags like OOTD and WIWT…is it any wonder that everyone is a little on edge about their looks?

tall girls

Over the years I’ve been on the receiving end of some rather ridiculous comments, and I wanted to share a few with you. Why? Because it’s cathartic. Because it will hopefully encourage you to laugh at the haters, to give them the middle finger, and reclaim your confidence. Because it’s not about being perfect in the eyes of someone else, but feeling happy in your own skin. Yes it is an up hill battle, but with inspirational women like Georgina out there, it’s hopefully one that we can climb together.

“You’re tall”

You’re…observant? Seriously, what is the response to this supposed to be? If I had a pound for every time someone has pointed this out to me, I’d be a millionaire. There have been the occasional moments of positivity, like when a group of slightly tipsy girls in the queue for the toilet decided to tell me that they wished they were as tall as me, but for the majority of the time I hear the words, “you’re tall” it comes with a negative undertone. Would you shout “you’re fat” across the road to someone? I hope not. I could go on and on about how men who are the same height at me never get asked this question/aren’t starred at in the street…

“You shouldn’t wear heels”
Oh really, why not? Because it makes you feel inferior? This kind of attitude really gets on my tits. For me, this pessimistic view comes from the same group of people who think that all curvy women should hide behind baggy clothing. It’s absurd. I am 6’1 and like to wear 6 inch heels every now and again – so shoot me.

“You look like a drag queen”
You might snigger, but this has happened to me – and many of my tall girlfriends – on more than one occasion. Now I LOVE a good drag queen, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to be aesthetically compared to a man.

“You could be a model”
Ahh, the double edge sword/backhanded compliment. Men have tried to chat me up this way, and honestly? It’s bloody embarrassing. The pure focus of the ‘compliment’ is aimed at my height, which immediately makes me defensive. When women you don’t know say it, it’s even worse. If you respond with a polite thank you instead of automatically being self-depreciating, will they think you’re a self-centered bitch? Yeah, probably.

“Do you find it hard to get a boyfriend?”
You might be surprised how often I’ve been asked this, and how willing people are to just come right out and say it to your face. It’s kind of a shock to the system…like someone is judging your self-worth and condemning you to a life of singledom in one fell swoop, and for what, being Amazonian? Sure I’ve dated men who’re are my own height, but I’ve fallen for guys who are shorter than me too; I can’t change who I fall in love with anymore than you can. To be honest, it can be difficult to find a man who doesn’t care if you’re taller than him. Call it intimidation, call it an inferiority complex, call it childish; it is what it is. On the opposite end of the scale, I’ve been hit on by men who have a fetish for tall women. I’ve been offered money to walk across a mans back in nothing but a pair of heels. I’ve missed out on dates because guys are too shy to approach a girl of my stature. I’ve been groped inappropriately and I’ve even had guys start fights with me because I’m at their eye level.

Charity Shopping

In my tiny corner of London, there are only handful of ‘fashionable’ shops within walking distance, which is great for my bank balance, but not so great when I want to window shop and have to venture into the city. I am however, lucky to have a couple of great charity shops at the top of my street, so I thought I’d share a few of my favourite finds this year.

Charity shops have been my main source of clothing recently thanks to a tight budget and a lack of interest in the high street – is it just me, or is everything out there at the minute boring?

David Bowie bookDavid Bowie, A Chronology and Love Sick – £3 each British Heart Foundation

acorn salt and pepper shakersAcorn salt and pepper shakers that will look perfect on my dinner table – £2 Oxfam

Just Desserts: Chocolate Pudding Cups

The minute Domestic Sluttery launched Just Desserts, I knew I’d have to get involved – not least because I knew that friend and founder Sian Meades would probably beat me to death with a rolling pin if I didn’t bake something for her.

If you’re throwing a dinner party, these chocolate cups are the perfect dessert choice; they look impressive, they’re super easy to make, they’re cheap to produce, AND they only take 10 minutes in the oven! It’s a basic recipe, but it’s one that works every time. The best thing about these baked pudding cups is that you can make them as fancy or as laid-back as you like. Want to give it a boozy kick? Add a shot of brandy instead of the vanilla extract. Looking to score top marks with your dinner guests? Present your homemade dessert with two big scoops of ice cream, lashings of honey, a sprinkle of icing sugar and a handful of sliced berries.

chocolate pudding cups

You’ll need:

  • 300g of the yummiest dark chocolate you can afford
  • 75g of unsalted butter (don’t bother putting it in the fridge, you’ll want it to be soft)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 50g of plain flour
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • Icing sugar to decorate
  • Ice cream or pouring cream to balance out the extreme chocolatey-ness
  • Greaseproof paper
  • 6-8 ramekins, pudding tins/dishes or moulds

Make it!

  • Heat the oven to 200°C and pop the baking tray in to warm up.
  • Grease your pudding dishes with butter and a pinch of flour. Cut out greaseproof paper circles and line the bases.
  • Break your chocolate into manageable pieces and slowly melt over a pan of steaming water, occasionally stirring as you measure out your other ingredients. Once it’s all gooey, resist the temptation to dip your fingers in it – leave it on one side to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon until it’s nice and creamy (don’t worry, it’s supposed to look that small). Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add each egg one at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in the flour with a big metal spoon, followed by the chocolate and milk. Don’t forget to use a rubber spatula to ensure minimum waste!
  • Spoon out the mixture into your prepared dishes. If you’re going to eat them now, put them on the pre-heated tray and bake in the oven for 9-12 minutes or until the mix has risen and is just firm to touch. Turn out onto a pretty plate (try not to burn your fingers) dust with icing sugar, and serve straight away with a big dollop of ice cream.
  • If you want to save them for later, cover with clingfilm and pop them in the fridge for a few hours. When you’re ready to eat them, upwrap and bake as above.

chocolate pudding cup recipe

So, you want to get involved too huh? I don’t blame you. Each month the Domestic Sluts will announce a theme (this month it’s chocolate, obviously) and all you have to do is decide what you want to make, bake it, and blog about it, linking back to the Domestic Sluttery site and mentioning the Just Desserts pudding club. Find out more here!

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