Thursday, 24 July 2014

Etsy Pick: GoodMoodMoon

Today I discovered GoodMoodMoon on Etsy. They're designers of gorgeous eco leather bags and accessories. They're also massive animal lovers so 5% of their profits go to homeless animal charities. Let's take a look.

I am so crazy in love with this clutch bag. I don't think I've ever said that about a clutch bag before, but the clever grabby strap means that I won't lose it ten minutes after going out. Amazingly it's just £23.49. Those lovely colourful bracelets are just £1.93 each.

They're yummy.

This gorgeous yellow bag is meant to be for an iPad but I haven't got one of those so instead it's going to be for notebooks. It's £22.29. Seriously. Just take all of my money.

I could keep so many secrets in this tote bag. It's huge and a bargain at £33.13. The reviews are all so positive, particularly when it comes to the vegan leather. This isn't the plastic pleather stuff that you get on the high street, they're super soft. This is the real deal, just animal friendly.

It's not often I write about designers outside of the UK and GoodMoodMoon are actually based in the Ukraine so shipping might take a while, but the postage costs are just over a fiver on most bags and I can't keep that sort of awesome to myself. That clutch bag is going to be mine. Probably not going to stop at just one colour.

Design Porn: Scribbelicious Literary Jewellery


I'm on hols in Wales this week, so today's Design Porn comes to you courtesy of that beautiful country (dons implausibly Newport accent, says "cwtch" a lot, generally embarrases Welsh heritage).

Scribbelicious (north Wales, far from Newport) take damaged books, some a century old, and puts them to new purpose as beautiful jewellery. But if you, like me, are a bit "arrgh" about doing anything to books - even damaged ones - then you can breathe easily as Scribbelicious also carries an enormous supply of original designs. Shakespeare works predictably well, and as well as Scribbelicious's own website, the RSC and Globe shops both carry exclusive, lovely ranges.

These lovely wedding cufflinks are made to an original design, and like all Scribbelicious's jewellery, you can choose your own quote, weddingy or otherwise. They're £20.

Scribbelicious' bangles are lovely - the Guess How Much I Love You rabbits would make a sweet gift for any smalls you might now. This Lord of the Rings design is £18.

The pendants are fantastic; beautiful designs that make the most  of the lovely quotes they use housed in silver plated ovals. Hello Tyrion Lannister, you speak the truth.

Pick from Shakespeare, modern classics, 19th century and inspirational quotes, depending on what you require.

This Mary Poppins pendant is absolutely stunningly done,  if slightly foreboding. But then that's part of the deal with Mary. There are a lot of quotes from children's books here, from Anne of Green Gables to a number from Alice in Wonderland. I've just been reading The Children of Green Knowe for the first time in ages and have only just recovered from how beautiful and apt the writing is. Often, children's writers say it best.

And of course sometimes you just need a Ronseal quote, like this lovely silhouetted Love Books pendant.

This RIDICULOUSLY lovely Sherlock Holmes pendant, with accompanying Bottle of Mystery, comes from a fragment of a damaged book. It comes in a themed box and is, like all the pendants,  £18. NB: any jewellery that involves pieces of a damaged books will feature different pages,  but definitely those characters. Check with Scribbelicious if you want to make sure.

And where would we be without Pride and Prejudice? I LOVE YOU LIZZIE, YOU ARE BRILLIANT. And yes, there are Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre editions if your favourite couple doesn't involve Miss Eliza and Fitzwilliam "I put my upper lip in curlers" Darcy.

Oh blimey, I really did get caught up with pendants. These lovely earrings come from a damaged Victorian edition of Romeo and Juliet and come in a lovely themed gift box. I love a themed gift box, it makes the whole thing feel like An Experience. These are £14.

I'll call it a day there or I'll never stop, but have a lovely rootle around and don't forget Scribbelicious do bespoke commissions. NICE.

Thanks to @frizbot for the fabulous tip-off.

Sluttishly Savoury: Pickled Red Cabbage

I have come to the conclusion that pickling vegetables improves your life hugely. Particularly pickled red cabbage. This is no weird exaggeration. Let me explain. It's the humblest of vegetables - often sidelined to winter braising. That is until we introduce it to vinegar. It then transforms into something freaking insane: it turns BRIGHT purple, it looks like fireworks on a plate, but most importantly, this slutty 'lil accruement can be sleeping in its kilner jar for months and months ready to partner up with a whole range of tasty items. 

To name a few: pulled pork, kebabs, sausages, burgers, anything barbecued. It's goes great with smoked mackerel pate, oily fish and cured meats. You can throw it in coleslaw, have it in sandwiches, it's endless.

Also, it has magical healing properties. It prevents flu, it's a gastro-regulator which means whether you're blocked or loose (sorry) it'll sort you right out. It's good if you're anaemic, if you have respiratory problems but perhaps most importantly - it works miracles on a raging hangover.  

Convinced this stuff should be free on the NHS. Now go forth and pickle.   

Pickled Red Cabbage (makes a large kilner jar's worth)
Preparation Time: 30mins
Inactive Time: 3 hours
Cooking Time: 15mins
  • 1 average sized red cabbage, quartered, woody stem removed and finely shredded
  • 2 handfuls of table salt
  • 1 litre white wine vinegar (cheap stuff)
  • 300ml red wine (cheap stuff)
  • 250g caster sugar 
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
Make it!
  1. Place the shredded cabbage in a large colander with a bowl underneath. Scatter the salt over and give it a mix with your hands to make sure all the cabbage is coated. Leave for a few hours. This draws the moisture out (which collects in the bowl beneath) and removes the bitterness. 
  2. After 3 hours, wash the salt off and place in a massive bowl or your largest pan. 
  3. Heat the vinegar and red wine in a large pan with the sugar, peppercorns and bay leaves. Once it's boiling, remove from the heat and strain off the spices. 
  4. Pour the clear hot liquid all over the red cabbage to fully submerge it. Leave to cool completely.
  5. When cool, transfer the cabbage and liquid to a sterilised jar and keep refrigerated. Ready to use the next day, and lasts for months and months. 

Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes!

Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes not only have an excellent name, suggesting both whimsy and violence, but also a fabulous range of bright, summery jewellery, mainly made of laser-cut acrylic. Everything is made by the cheery looking Sally from her flat in Glasgow, aided and abetted by her cat Chi.

I absolutely deserve a cake merit badge, but alas I haven't made an arctic roll so can't claim it. If you've made our lemon and pistachio version, then you're eligible. Choose your favourite indie merit badge for £15.

BLACK SWAN! I saw the film in the cinema and thought it was an intensely powerful masterpiece. Then I watched it at home with friends and decided it was the campest nonsense since Showgirls. Pick up a black - or white - swan brooch with mirrored feathers for £12.

A laser-cut ferris wheel! With eight teeny pods! Hanging on a long silver chain! It's £34. For that price, you could have got 34 goes on the ropiest ride at my local fair. It was an office chair attached to a cherry picker. For a quid you could go up and then down again. It's much better to buy this necklace than go up and down 34 times.

Where was this cat brooch when I was writing a guide to being a crazy cat lady? It comes in silver glitter or plain black for £14. Obviously you're going to get the glitter one. The choice between glitter and not-glitter is no choice at all.

At the time of writing, it is the hottest day in the history of days and I am wilting and desperate for rain. I shall wear these umbrella charm earrings, in the sale for £2.50, in the hopes they make water come from the sky.

I love these heart mug earrings but it's really bothering me that the red pencil hasn't been sharpened properly. Quick, one of you buy all their stock so they can take this image down and we can all sleep easy at night. They're £12 and they'll probably do you a deal if you buy, say, 40 pairs.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Excellent Women: Vivian Maier

Have you heard of Vivian Maier? Until recently, hardly anyone had. If it hadn't been for a chance discovery, she may have been remembered only as a nanny by those who knew her personally. But during her career looking after children in Chicago and New York, she also pursued her personal hobby of street photography. She took over 100,000 photographs and hid them in storage lockers. Discovered all these years later, they've now earned her recognition as one of the 20th century's finest photographers.

She also loved taking photographs of herself, and has since been nicknamed the original 'selfie queen'.

An American of French and Austro-Hungarian origin, Vivian travelled between Europe and the United States before coming back to New York City in 1951, having picked up photography just two years earlier. By 1956 Vivian left the East Coast for Chicago, where she’d spend most of the rest of her life working as a caregiver. She carried on taking pictures right up until the 1990s.

Later in life, Vivian became quite poor and was ultimately saved by three of the children she had nannied earlier in her life. Fondly remembering Maier as a second mother, they pooled together to pay for an apartment for her. Unbeknownst to them, one of Vivian’s storage lockers was auctioned off due to delinquent payments - and in those storage lockers lay the massive hoard of negatives Maier secretly stashed throughout her lifetime.

Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof.

Our culture loves to idolise people - we're always tempted to put anyone with talent on a pedestal, especially if they come from a 'lost' age. Which is why the film Finding Vivian Maier is so unique - it attempts to discover who the real woman behind these incredible images was - even if the truth is not always what we'd expect.

Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, Maier’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never before seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her. But as Maloof meets people who knew Vivian, new questions arise about her life and work. The families who employed her as a nanny have mixed memories, and hint at her dark side. 

Finding Vivian Maier was released at UK cinemas last week- you can find tickets here.

Maier's life provides not only a fabulous insight into America in the second half of the 20th century, but also into the life of a woman who chose not to marry, have children, or seemingly even make any close friends. Much of her mystery is set to remain an enigma, but this film and her photographs provide a tantalising glimpse into a lost world.

Here's another of Vivian's haunting self-portraits. You can buy books on both her work as a street photographer and her pictures of herself on the Vivian Maier website.

Top Ten Barbecue Recipes

Phew! It's way too hot to have the oven on. Your choice is simple; eat cold food or cook outside. Assuming that you don't get caught in a sudden downpour which drenches the food and flames, a barbecue is a pretty delicious option. May we suggest you throw some of these recipes on the barbie?

Burgers. Every barbecue needs a few. We've got burgers to suit every taste! From smoky beef and Thai, to chicken and cheesy. You'll never need to look elsewhere for burgers again.

These sticky ribs are worth firing up the barbecue, even if they're the only thing you cook. Can't find ribs? I've used the same marinade for chicken drumsticks to wonderful effect, there really is no excuse not to try this.

Have you ever noticed how many foods on sticks you find at barbecues? Of course, it's the best way to avoid burning your fingers, just don't poke yourself in the nose while you eat. Gin and tonic lovers will go crazy for these gin-soaked chicken kebabs and vegetarians will love our halloumi skewers. I'd put the Quorn pieces in this barbecue hoisin Quorn recipe on skewers, too.

It's not a barbecue without potato salad. If you have some space on the grill for extra carbs, we've got three ways to barbecue potatoes. Actually, I'm often more excited about the sides than the meat on the barbecue. Case in point - Mexican corn on the cob. No barbecue should be without cucumber and red onion pickle (this comes with a warning: you will eat the whole jar in one sitting).

Don't forget dessert! The ol' banana-on-the-barbecue is a classic for good reason. Try this dairy free version. Not a banana-fan? Try mango skewers instead. See? Food on sticks are a barbecue staple!

Still hungry?! Check out more of our top ten recipe posts.

Spots and Stripes

Frances and I were having a chat the other day about prints, particularly spots and stripes. She's all about the stripes, I'm often head to toe in polka dots. The two patterns are retro classic and we can't get enough of them. Here are some gorgeous pieces in our favourite prints.

Purses at the ready, this lemon polka dot dress is just £36 from Love Miss Daisy. Listed just earlier today, it's 80s does 50s and it's just about perfect. Buttons down the back, pockets, sweetheart neckline. It's get everything. If it's still on sale after I've had my lunch, I'm buying it from under your noses.

Oh how cute are these wedge sandals? Boden is knocking it out of the park this summer. £20 very, very well spent. Damn, I could spend a fortune in the Boden sale.

This striped coat is just verging on the right side of Beetlejuice. It's in the sale and £84.10 in the Boden sale. I heartily recommend accessorising it with a dalmatian. (Please can I borrow a dalmatian?)

Half polka dots, half pleaty-stripes. This is such a great skirt. It's £29 at Sugarhill Boutique. Swish about as much as you like. Even at the bus stop.

This might be a terrible photo of a gorgeous model, but cast your eye down and check out her brilliant scalloped shorts. Love them. I've been trying to get Frances into them all week. They're £21.

Nope, still not bored of this beautiful yellow sundress. It looks like a bag that you're pick 'n' mix comes in. It's £45 from Joy.

Oasis are very, very good at a bold stripe. And they're good at a midi length. Amazingly, this skirt is £35. It's been a long time since I thought Oasis was reasonably priced. All sizes left, but be quick.

I concede that going all out 50s polka dot can be a little too much, so Lindy Bop's navy halter dress is the perfect solution. It's just £29.99. The Audrey dress at the top of the page is also Lindy Bop and also £29.99.

"Would you like a flake with that?" This candy striped shirt is very ice cream seller in the 50s but styled with dark skinny jeans, red lippy and a beehive, it would look utterly gorgeous. It's £40 from 20th Century Foxy.

Now this is my favourite stripe skirt. The clashing flower print is fabulous. It's £45 and I will not be wearing it with any sort of crop top. Stop trying to make fetch happen, ASOS.
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