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Budget don’t brag in the winter sales


I have a very strict sales buying strategy. I never loose my head and buy something I wouldn’t normally buy just because it’s reduced.

My philosophy is basically that it’s not a matter of what great discounts I can nab, and brag about, it’s about how I can improve my existing wardrobe with well-priced pieces I really want.

Anna Dello Russo said that when shopping during sales, you should not buy randomly, you should choose your favourite pieces, stick to a budget and you should only buy materpieces.

I don’t know if my budget will stretch to masterpieces, but she’s a woman after my own heart when it comes to budgeting, and being selective.

Last year in the winter sales I bought the Surface To Air wedge sandals in tan, which I wore all summer and then again on winter holidays chasing the sun.

I’ll always love them, and the tan leather is gaining a nice patina as the shoes wear in.

My sales picks for the winter sales are quiet strict. They are a pair of very sensible black heels for work, a pair of fun bright Surface To Air wedge sandals in red which will be perfect this summer and an everyday pair of black boots.

I can’t afford the black Acne pistols that I’ve been hankering for for years, as they’re 390 quid. But these Surface To Air numbers are quite similar, and at 210 Euros, I can still buy my bus fare.

acne heel sales 680x451 Budget dont brag in the winter sales

Melrose patent black heels, 164 quid from Acne

p16298 1 680x629 Budget dont brag in the winter sales

Surface To Air buckle sandal in red, 155 Euros

p16614 2 680x538 Budget dont brag in the winter sales

Surface To Air Paul Boots VI 210 Euros

Cupcake girl


Cupcake Girl from Pamela Reed + Matthew Rader on Vimeo.

We are all equally afflicted by cupcakes. It seems there’s no escaping these bite-sized noms of deliciousness. This video is made by the lovely Pamela and Matthew over at Meowzas.

The perfect plain sandal and the mental kaftan


kaftan 680x906 The perfect plain sandal and the mental kaftan

This madly bright Liza Bruce kaftan has reconfigured my summer. It’s wild, slightly mental and is a big hit with my Nana. Wearing it, I feel quite Bjorkish, only without the worldwide team of weird musical instrument developers and stellar career in sound and direct access to Mike Paton.

There’s only one way to go with a mad dress like this, and that’s a with a simple sandal.

These Isabel Marant Merrys, from places like net-a-porter.

The kaftan wafts like a spinnaker when you wear it, so a more extravagant shoe would only draw more attention. One spinnaker draws enough attention for me, but if you’re feeling low, I guess you could throw on a gold wedge like my fav YSL numbers.

I am all for one hot shot of colour in every outfit. I find it the most manageable and timeless way of using colour, plus, you avoid trends like colour blocking which spring up and require you to buy whole new outfits.

You can pick up a unique silk kaftan from Liza Bruce at 9 Pont Street London.

180871 in dl The perfect plain sandal and the mental kaftan

The great Australian pavlova


IMG 2044 680x510 The great Australian pavlova

I mentioned in my trifle post that one of the best side effects of custard making is egg whites for pavlova, and here’s mine from Christmas day.

My mum and, actually, come to think of it, most of my family are pretty good at making pavs. It would be an embarrassment as an Australian not to be able to make one, as we invented the lovely thing*.

There’s a few basic requirements for a successful pav:
• a good clean steel bowl
• pure egg whites unpolluted by yolk
• a slow oven and trained householders who won’t open it

Pavs are bascially a process of beating and drying.

Beat 6 egg whites, adding 1 cup castor sugar and 1/4 cup regular granular sugar slowly.
Before they reach stiff peaks, add a tablespoon of cornflour and a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.

When the whites make stiff, glossy peaks, slop six spoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered in baking paper.

Smooth the blobs together to make a circle, add any more whites on top of your circle.

I took a palette knife and made stripes up the side, so the pav went into the oven as a dome.

I baked it in a slow oven, around 150 degrees, for 40 minutes, or until lightly golden, then left it in there to dry out over night.

Dairy fans can fill it with whipped cream, I just dropped a punnet of blueberries on the top.

*highly contentious! My best Kiwi friend can’t stop claiming the invention of the pav EVERY time we’re in a cake shop. I say they get Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson, we have the pav. Fair trade, non?

How my head works with YSL sandals


170739 in dl How my head works with YSL sandals

So these YSL brogue/wedge/sandals are on sale right now, down to £472 on net-a-porter. But that’s not why I have to talk about them.

This is in aid of an insight into my mind.

I was at a dinner, standing around in a perfectly adequate pair of classic red suede courts – my wedding shoes in fact – but I could not stop thinking about these sandal/brogue/wedges and how improved my conversation would be were I to be wearing them.

No one would notice them, they’d be sneaking around down low in the dark, under my long black skirts. But they’d be there. And I’d know.

They’d be lurking about being a bright shoe/sandal/work horse of an accessory, and I’d know their magnificence was powering my every nuanced word. People would tilt their heads and laugh gaily at my wit, and it would be all thanks to this shoe.

I believe the conversation was adequate – something about the invention of the modern diesel engine and the rivalry between Italian motor manufacturers etc.

But there’s every possibility it could have been improved.

Taking Acland Street for granted


IMG 21321 680x906 Taking Acland Street for granted

As a St Kilda local, I very much took Acland Street and its bevvy of cake shops completely for granted.

I’ve just had the pleasure of directing my in-laws down there for a spot of touristing, and they brought me back this beautiful meringue.

I can’t bring myself to eat it, but it was a giant fluffy reminder that a row of creamy European cakes is a rarity, even for well-travelled Brits.

Christmas trifle Australian-style


IMG 2041 680x510 Christmas trifle Australian style
I’m non-stop gluten and dairy-free, but that didn’t stop my family requesting a trifle for Christmas day.

Nana is no longer able to answer questions about how she used to do trifle, but I remembered her saying “sherry makes you merry”, so I sloshed on plenty.

My recipe is below:

Cake layer:
1 x cheap and nasty jam roll from the supermarket
1 x bottle sherry

Jelly layer:
1 x packet of gelatine
1 x bottle sparkling rose

Custard layer:
1 x pint cream
1 x vanilla pod, split, seeded
6 eggs

1 x punnet strawberries, cut into heart shapes

Cream layer:
1 x pint (600ml) thickened cream
2 x teaspoons sugar
1 x punnet blueberries

Cut up sponge as you like and layer in the base of the bowl. Slosh with sherry so that it all appears wet with the good liquor.

Lay some blueberries on top of the sponge.

Make 600mls of jelly following instructions on the gelatine packet, only use champers instead of water. Don’t forget to add a load of sugar. Gourmet traveller has a nice way with champagne jelly. Chill in fridge until nearly set, then layer onto sponge.

While the jelly is cooling, make your custard. Or just buy some. I like the Mary Berry traditional custard method, which I used here.

Your custard needs to cool before adding on top of the jelly layer, so while this is happening, cut your strawberries into heart shapes.

I slice three good centre sections out of each strawberry, then trim the natural dip in the top for a more rounded strawberry shape.

Place the hearts around the edge of the bowl. Pressing them well into the glass will keep them visible once you pour in the custard. Do this next. Chill again, then add a layer of whipped cream.

Top with whatever you like – nuts, blueberries, honeycomb. Then nom heartily.

Guess what? They side effect of using all those eggs for the custard is that you have leftover eggs for a pavlova, and that’s coming up next.