Absolutely Nothing To Read – Little Brown Pen

I have been spending way too much time on someone else’ blog recently. Little Brown Pen is the most fabulous collection of photographs and musings from Nichole a copywriter and photographer based, I presume, in Paris.

The posts vary from recipes to window displays to favourite cheeses and what to have for lunch, but the predominant theme – and the one I’m completely hooked on – are her colour focused photographs collated under the title “Paris Color Project“. They really are very special indeed.

Obviously I’m not the only one who has been inspired to fall in love with grey grafitti and chipped turquoise paint and bundles of bright red flowers and you can now buy some of the photographs in postcard and print size through her online shop, plus Chronicle Books are publishing a selection in September 2012.

If you haven’t seen the blog already then you must, it’s lovely, but do put aside some free time as it’s wonderfully addictive.

A few of my favourite photographs. There are so very many to choose from.





Tallulah and Hope – Summer Sale

My favourite kaftan brand in the whole world is having a serious Summer Sale.

The sale starts on Saturday 2nd July so put it in your diary and get online before it all disappears in a fabulous flash of silk!

Click HERE to go straight to the T&H website

Fashion Confusion – the maxi dress

I’m on my way back from London. Sitting in a cool, empty train carriage after a hot, chaotic few hours in the big smoke. I went for work, to meet with magazine editors who were young enough to be my children. Well almost. It felt very much like that. They were fresh faced and well rested and “sooo stressed” and I was the slightly past it, ex magazine person who actually said the words “I worked here almost 12 years ago”. Not something I needed reminding of.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to write about. It was the in between meetings bit, the part where I was pushing my way down Oxford street trying to talk myself in to the merits of taking the tube and trying desperately not to raise my arm and hail a taxi – I lost, my arm won. It was then that I had a good look around me and took in what everyone was wearing. And I don’t know whether I’m any kind of authority to say this – I’m not – but everyone was such a mess. The only person I saw who looked remotely neat and well dressed and enviable was my friend Jenny in her short denim shorts and red gingham shirt with legs stretching as far as the eye could see. Jen, you rock.

The main problem was this…..there were way too many badly fitting maxi dresses. I fell out of love with the maxi dress a long time ago when I worked for a brand, who’s name I won’t mention, who were, if you like, one of the first high street brands to bring the maxi dress to the masses and to this day I’m not sure that was a good thing. I often look at long, slender ladies with envy as they float around in their floral maxis and although something inside me is telling me I should love it, I don’t. They look like little girls or ladies who are trying to be little girls and I just don’t think it’s a good look if you’re aged over 12. An evening maxi is a different matter all together. Long for the right occasion is fabulous, long for the day time when you can’t see your feet or it’s showing a little too much cleavage and slightly burnt shoulders, is not fabulous. It’s frightening and dare I say it, rather lazy – albeit fashionably lazy.


Perhaps it’s also important to add that my bugbear with the maxi dress is predominantly when they’re worn in the city. Where hemlines will only trail on the floor and get grubby or trip you up when running for buses or get tangled in escalators when racing for the sale bargains. If worn at all it should be on holiday. Oh and if you’re pregnant. That makes perfect sense.


The other thing which dampened the day a little happened during my pilgrimage to COS, which I love. It was absolutely packed. Cos is never packed. Cos is calm and quiet and neat and tidy and still the best kept high street secret. Oh please tell me it is. How did all these people find out about it. I don’t think they even knew what shop they were in, it was more like a frenzied grab what you can closing down sale than the calm, civilised Cos I so miss. Deeply upsetting.


So now, after a confusing day in London I’m racing home to the safety of the countryside where maxi dresses are much less frequent and no one, but no one has ever even heard of Cos.

Absolutely Nothing To Watch – Californication

I said in my review of the inspired ‘Bored To Death’ that there are very few TV series that pass me by. There are a few box-sets however that for one reason or another sit in their polythene wrappers gathering dust even when I’m in the Sunday hangover position complaining of having absolutely nothing to watch. These DVD’s, like the fat kid on the high board, just stand there taking up space, the longer I procrastinate about watching them the less likely I am to jump in.

Californication has sat on my DVD shelf taking up space longer than the clichéd can of kidney beans in the kitchen. I don’t really know why I never gave it a go. Maybe I needed time to let X-files crawl its way to the deep recesses of my memory before I could see Duchovni as anyone else other than Spooky Mulder. Maybe it was Natasha McElhone’s accent in Ronin I was trying to forget but for whatever reason Californication sat, unwatched and gathering dust…until last week.

There are dozens of films and shows about struggling writers. We write about what we know and every writer knows struggle. From the aforementioned ‘Bored To Death’ to my new favourite radio comedy ‘Ed Reardon’s Week’ and onto the countless others, there is a vast pile of hugely likable celluloid characters of the written word. There is, however, one who stands head and shoulders above the rest, a God amongst these literary legends and his name is Hank.
Hank Moody.

Hank’s life is complicated. The love of his life and baby-mama Karen is about to marry Bill (or dial-tone as Hank calls him, so named for his droning monotony). Becca their twelve year old  rock-a-goth daughter is living with Mum and dial-tone leaving Hank on his own.

Hank is disillusioned and Hank can’t write. His last book, a deeply dark, soul-exposing cynically comical tome called ‘God Hates Us All’ was run through the Hollywood mill only to come out the other side as ‘A Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ starring Tom-Kat.

His agent and best friend Runkle, whilst waiting for Hank to tap the keys again,  is trying to hold on to his job, spice things up with his firecracker wife, the ‘sexy smurf’ and stave off the advances of his beautifully pierced PA.

And Hank, well Hank just can’t stop drinking, partying and sleeping with every beautiful woman California has to offer. With his dry whit, charm and dishevelled good looks every woman he meets ends up throwing themselves at him. He moves from one to another, quite often in the same night, and still they all love him.

However sometimes it’s possible to sleep with the wrong woman and so starts the spiral that keeps the show moving forward and the viewer hooked.

It’s the ultimate, “oh just one more episode and then I’ll do some work”.
I’m four seasons down in a week and I still want more…

Californication is for want of a better phase. Fucking Brilliant.

And killer soundtrack!

Absolutely Worth Smiling About…in appreciation of pink peonies…

Absolutely Nothing To Smile About – Peonies

Some friends came to lunch yesterday and brought with them the most beautiful bunch of pale and dark pink Peonies, which have made me very happy indeed, so I thought I’d write about them. I promise it’s not going to turn in to that kind of blog (a smug, look at me blog), but just let me have this one post.

Peonies played a starring role in my wedding bouquet and as much as I adore most flowers, there is something very special about them and for that I love them more than any other. I’m not quite sure what it is but they’re romantic and nostalgic and perfectly modern all in one stem.They cheer me up no matter what my mood and they make my house feel…..happy. Yes, I really did just write that.

So if you don’t have peonies in your sight, I strongly recommend that you go and find some. Florists and supermarkets are full of them at the moment and I guarantee they’ll make you smile.

And while I’m at it, these roses which I found poking through a neighbouring wall on our drive way are definitely worth a mention. I’m not responsible for growing them but I wish I was. They smell like roses should, sweet and delicious.

Happy, smug post about flowers is now over.

A wonderful week doing Absolutely Nothing….

Absolutely Nothing To Wear – Denim Dilemma

Absolutely Nothing To Cook – Meringues

Absolutely Nothing To Listen To – Brain Food

Absolutely Nothing To Eat – Smoked Cod and Cauliflower Chowder

Absolutely Nothing To Buy – Woop Studios

Absolutely Nothing To Eat – Dinosaur Sandwiches

Absolutely Nothing To Listen To – Radio Comedies

Absolutely Nothing To Read – One for the Kids-ish

Absolutely Nothing To Wear – Roll Up Roll Up


Lots more to come next week with contributions from our new authors.


Denim dilemma

I need a new pair of jeans. I never actually considered jeans as a wardrobe staple until about 10 years ago when I bought my first pair of PPQ jeans. They changed my life and I have never worn anything else since. Here’s a black pair – aren’t they just lovely.

So now that PPQ are taking a, hopefully short lived, break from jeans, I’m thinking about trying something else. But I have absolutely no idea where on earth to even start! I tried a pair of Superfine grey skinnies on once, a few years ago when they were the jean to own. I remember it so very very clearly. The changing room in Liberty, the excitement of having finally plucked up the courage to join the grey skinny jean gang and then I put them on. I can’t tell you how dreadful they looked. They did nothing for me from any angle. I felt like someone had painted my legs, badly, in grey using a spatula and the shape made my rather short legs look like stunted, over-ripe, bananas. The disappointment was enormous. In fact so much so, I’ve never spoken about it until now. I found the whole thing deeply embarassing – luckily I was on my own and didn’t leave the changing room – but the flipside was on the very same day in the very same department I bought the most fabulous pale blue cotton APC sun dress which I love and adore. So take that, Superfine skinny grey jeans which I thought I wanted.

Since then I’ve never strayed from my PPQs but after 2 children and thousands of outings, my 7 pairs are starting to look a little frayed around the edges and until I can buy a new pair, it’s time to strike out on my own.

So what should I be looking for? I’ve trawled the pages of Net-A-Porter and it just gets more confusing every time. I don’t want bright coloured ones, I know that, I’m a jean purist so I’ll stick with dark blue, possibly black. I don’t want any stupid creases to make it look like I’ve been sitting down in them for weeks – why do they do that? – and I don’t want really low ones which show my, not quite so pert any more, bottom. I also don’t want ones which strangle my ankles, I’ve never been good in those. I need a very slight flare and a little bit of stretch but not of the Jeggings variety – another piece of leg wear which really upsets me.

So any help gratefully accepted please.

Oh and I’m also not spending anywhere near £200 on a pair of jeans. That’s just plain silly.


Ps. My rant about Superfine skinny grey jeans only related to me and my silly legs. Everyone else I’ve ever seen wearing them looks amazing. Really. I just thought I’d better clear that up.


Absolutely Nothing To Cook — Meringues

So thankful I am that summer is here and it is again possible to buy eggs from the farmer’s market — a pastel jewel box of eggs of different colors and sizes, all laid the day before by happy hens — that I have rather overdone it. Each week I cannot pass up the opportunity to buy one, or even two dozen (especially when she has huge luminous duck eggs). This has left me with an inevitable surplus of a perishable commodity and not much room in my fridge.



Last night I hit upon the perfect answer to my dilemma: meringues. SO simple to make, yet so delicious! Just four whites, when whipped with a cup of sugar and a pinch of tartar produces a giant plateful of airy delights. Whip the whites until just past frothy, then add the sugar and cream of tartar slowly until the mixture is pale and glossy with peaks. Dollop tennis-ball size blobs about 3 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

They can also be endlessly tweaked with different flavor combinations; switching some of the white sugar for brown sugar and a bit of espresso powder gave me these lovelies:

Try mixing in a bit of lemon oil or rosewater (and a teensy-tiny dot of pink food coloring, and sprinkle the tops with flaked almonds or chopped hazelnuts before baking. Bake for an hour at 275 degrees, until the meringues are a dry hollow shell with a chewy base. To serve, knock a hole in the top and fill with a flavored whipped cream, like a traditional Pavlova. I mixed a bit of chestnut puree into mine, but I imagine lemon curd or Nutella would also be absolutely delicious.

This only leaves the question of what to do with the four egg yolks you have left over. I made a herb omelet, but they can also be used to make the base for an egg custard which, when mixed with cream (and pureed strawberries or peaches, say) and frozen in an ice-cream maker….eggceptional. Serve with a meringue.



Absolutely Nothing To Buy – Moshi Moshi

The Moshi Moshi retro handsets are my very favourite thing of the moment. They’re the perfect back lash to the need for everything small and compact. These are anything but.

In a weird way too, they seem to stop the urge to shout down the tiny mouthpiece of a mobile phone. They make for a much quieter, if a little less subtle, conversation and quite frankly, I’d rather be seen using one of these than any of your newfangled blue tooth options.

You can buy Moshi Moshi handsets from Amazon by clicking here. Available in all sorts of wonderful colours. I’ve got a yellow one and it makes me very happy indeed. They seem to vary in cost from around £21.99 to £29.99. Not sure why.

Here’s the spec bit to give you all the information you need. Again all taken from Amazon.

  • Compatible with all 3.5mm jack mobile phones and computers, including iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad, and the latest MacBooks.
  • One touch button for convenient pick-up/hang-up directly from the handset (not all mobile phone support function).
  • Noise-reducing technology for a crisp and polished sound.
  • Luxurious soft-touch finish for ultimate comfort and feel.
  • Eliminates up to 99 percent of the radiation absorbed compared to a direct use of mobile phones.