Sunday, 30 October 2011

Everything and the kitchen sink

While we wait to sort out a new home I dream of kitchens. Kitchens with range cookers and white units and marble work surfaces. This is in fact my dream kitchen, although if I was being very picky I'd quite like some exposed brick work too.  I can't remember which blog I found this on but the original source is this Swedish Estate Agent which is a fantastic source of interiors inspiration.

The Boyfriend likes hyper modern glossy looking kitchens a bit like this one on The Age of Aquarius.  

The Boyfriend also has a thing about long stainless steel handles which I haven't seen anywhere and do not actually believe exist in anywhere other than his imagination.  Do you know different?

In the meantime I'm growing pragmatic about finding our new home.  It will happen when its ready I guess.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Autumn Stew

With the changing of the season's we have started to eat cosier food.  We took delivery of another supply of vegetables from my parents garden earlier in the week, including some big slices of pumpkin. Now my father is particularly proud of his pumpkins.  The very first time that The Boyfriend went down to meet my family, my father made him take photographs of my little niece to prove his prize pumpkin was larger than a 3 year old.   So anyway on Friday night we had a delicious pumpkin curry made from a simple yellow curry paste and coconut milk.

Tonight we had a sweet potato and feta stew with lots of warming spices.  We needed something hearty today having danced into the small hours at our friend Jo's birthday party. The Boyfriend also spent an overexcited afternoon at Loftus Road watching QPR's victory over Chelsea. I hope he'll sleep tonight.

Does anybody else have any tasty autumn dinner recipes to share?

Friday, 21 October 2011

We Need to Talk About...

As you know, I've been looking forward to watching We Need To Talk About Kevin since I first saw the trailer. I know I'm in a minority but for some reason I don't enjoy Lionel Shrivers style so I didn't finish the book but I liked the essential narrative. 

The film shows Eva, living a contrite, pleasureless life. Targeted by local vigilantes, working in a low status job, a figure of hate or curiosity amongst her neighbours.  Flashbacks tell Eva's story of how she ended up this way and why she accepts this as her lot.

Starting as a free spirited, well travelled career woman, Eva does not take well to pregnancy from the start. She is unable to bond with her baby or escape his crying.  She cannot nurture her defiant, incontinent, selective mute little boy. As he grows up Kevin builds on her unease and lives up to her low expectations, constantly goading her, tormenting his innocent younger sister while seeming to connect with his father. Eva is split between nervousness about her son and guilt at the thought she has somehow made him this way.  Over the course of the film, mother and son are in a symbiotic relationship leading up to a mass act of violence.

The cinematography is great.  The soundscape is clever and arresting - the sprinklers are haunting.  There is a repetition of intense red colour schemes throughout the film.  Splatter patterns are repeated. The lead characters mirror each others mannerisms, looks and behaviour.   

Tilda Swinton, John C Reilly and Ezra Miller are all fantastic.  Not to mention the young actors who play the little Kevin's.  Ezra Miller was at the screening last night and the audience really did shrink away from him a bit, although he had folk queuing up to have a fag and a chat as we left.   

This is very definitely a good film and I may even try the book again.  Although I thought it was fantastic and lots of folks will disagree with me, but I didn't love this film. Something about it felt too "deliberate". What do you think?

Recently I've also rather guiltily enjoyed Drive which I didn't think I'd like at all.  We also saw the Black Power Mix Tape as part of the London film festival.  It was great to see some impressive footage - especially the interview with Angela Davis - but somehow it didn't quite seem to hang together.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Weddings and Movie Stars

Its been a quieter more snuggly weekend after a busy week. So I've enjoyed looking through a bit of this coffee table book Weddings and Movie Stars which came out earlier in the year.

As you might remember I have a bit of a thing about old hollywood weddings.  The weddings are obviously glamourous and the dresses are beautiful but there also tends to be something quite simple too about how they celebrated.  There often seem to be smaller numbers of friends and family and many of the weddings take place in registrary offices or city halls. 

I love the book's cover photo of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. Apparently when they were pronouced married Lauren clapped her hands and said "Oh goody!"

The book has lots of weddings from the 1920s to the present day, including stills from films as well as real weddings. Its got my favourite shots of Elisabeth Taylor's wedding to Richard Burton, but there others too.

I like this photo from Marlon Brando and Anna Kashfi's wedding.  The story goes that Anna was revealed to be from a Welsh shipping village after claiming to be an Indian princess.    

Love this picture of Frank Sinatra and Ava Garner... 

...And this one of Mick and Biance Jagger leaving Marylebone Town Hall

All in all a gorgeous book and lots of wedding inspiration. We think we may have found our wedding venue - although I'm trying not to jinx it by talking about it yet. I am thinking of starting a regular posting on novice wedding planning though.  I'll be back soon. x

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Only Way is Essex (And a Little Bit of Suffolk)

So after the hot weather last weekend, this Sunday was the real start of autumn. The boyfriend and I went for a long walk in Manningtree following some of the Essex Way footpaths to Dedham along the river Stour and to Flatford. 

It was the most perfect autumn day with clear bright sunshine, a sharp breeze and fresh earthy smells.  Autumn colours were everywhere.  Wide open green meadows, brown, orange and yellow leaves, trees and lichens. 

The first five miles or so we didn't encounter any other people.  We did get a little intimidated by some horses crossing the footpath through a farmers field and so we hid under a fence.  But the horses were just being friendly.  Oh dear!

There was just something fantastic and romantic about being outside in the countryside. Hay barns, acorns, conkers, lichen growing up walls, little streams, kissing gates, styles, weirs, rusting roofes and an abandoned tractor.  For lunch we stopped off at a beautiful old yellow beamed pub in Dedham Vale for a ploughman's and pint of cider.

I grew up in Essex and can remember punting on the Stour in summer holidays so loved seeing the little fleet of boats as we wandered along the river after lunch.  There were more people on this stretch, although it was still quiet.

We reached Flatford, the home of John Constable and the inspiration for much of his art.  Willy Lott's cottage has been preserved and there's also a teaching facility in a national trust centre. Here is my almost Hay Wain. 

We made it back to Manningtree just before it got dark, slightly achy from a long day but happy and contended.  I've felt rejuvenated and calm all day.  We will go back. x

PS. I think  have mentioned before how outstandingly stylish The Boyfriend is? Well I thought I might add that while I wore old leggings and my gym trainers for our walk The Boyfriend was dressed head to foot in Albam

Saturday, 8 October 2011

A little bit of Paris in North London

 Once a month some the shops in Crouch End stay open late on a Friday night for the Barboot.  They serve free wine, cocktails and cake and there are also people selling second hand goods and pretty home made things.  Last night the boyfriend fell in love with a rockabilly pocket square and a Japanese nudey lighter in the Haberdashery where we sometimes go for brunch; and he found a 1962 tube map in Moors Bar - the Victoria Line doesn't even exist on the map.

The real find of the night was Little Paris which for some reason I had mistakenly assumed would be a bit twee. It turns out that almost the opposite is true.  Its full of authentic industrial metal work and contemporary French designers. Utterly gorgeous and unusual stuff.  We particularly liked this 1940's cabinet. Great inspiration for when we find the new flat.  We will go back.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Baking Hot in Finsbury Park

It was our friend Andy's birthday party yesterday and we started off the afternoon in Finsbury Park. The grass was covered in beautiful red and brown autumn leaves.  The sun was strong and golden at an unseasonable 30 degrees in London. One of those gorgeous afternoons catching up with an extended circle of friends and drinking lots of wine and eating lots of cake in the park. The only thing was we were able to do this in October rather than August!
I made chocolate Guinness cupcakes based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. I was originally worried that the cake mixture was too runny as all the ingredients are melted together on the stove before they are cooked and I hadn't made cake this way before.  But I shouldn't have worried the cakes turned out really moist and chocolatey with an undertone of spice from the Guinness.

The picture above is from Nigella's website.  And my cakes are below!  I made cupcakes and a few special cakes in little heart shaped moulds.  The Boyfriend argued against the use of strawberries but I thought it was a nice accompaniment and the cakes went down very well with everyone at the picnic.  
I mentioned before that I want to get some practice baking as I'm thinking of making my own wedding cake when The Boyfriend and I get married next year.  I've not baked much in the past at all and I really enjoyed the practice.  I've also discovered that one of my favourite bloggers is going to do a series on baking classic cakes.  I may try to bake along with the blog. All advice very welcome.