24.3.14

Where are the women?

I was reading a book of advice for unpublished writers, as I do occasionally. It's an okay book, more anecdotes about the own writer's life than actual instructions for creating a writing life, but sometimes I wonder if getting published is something that can actually be taught. Anyway, this particular writer used an entire chapter to say, if you want to be a writer, read read read.

Okay, good advice, but hardly needs an entire chapter devoted to it. He then goes on to fill the bulk of the chapter with a list of 80 books that he thinks are essential reading for an aspiring writer, books that inspired him and are worth encouraging others to read. The list is pretty good in that it covers high brow and low, various genres, current writers and past. But on the list there are only FOUR books by women. Four out of 80! Joyce Carol Oats, Shirley JacksonEudora Welty and Nadine Gordimer.

This seems incredibly remiss in my mind, and though I have no business offering advice to potential writers, I have read many many books in my life, and I have a very good education, and that chapter generally pissed me off. So here is a list of writers that I think he may have overlooked. It's not exhaustive because, well how could anyone write an exhaustive list of talented, interesting, inspired and inspiring women writers? There are too many to count. But here are some (in no particular order):

Jane Austin, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Alice Walker, Iris Murdoch, AS Byatt, Angela Carter, Donna Tartt, Lionel Shriver, Joanna Trollope, Ursula K Le GuinZadie SmithJane Smiley, Jean Rhys, Margaret Atwood, Willa Cather, Olive SeniorLouisa May Alcott, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Dodie Smith, Agatha Christie, PD James, Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieKate Atkinson, Alice Munro, Muriel Spark, Marjane SatrapiDoris Lessing, Toni Morrison, AL Kennedy, Zee EdgellPearl S Buck, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Sarah Waters, George Elliot, Rosa GuyVirginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Madeleine L'Engle, Margaret Mitchell, Edwidge DanicatLM Montgomery, Paule MarshallKate Chopin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susanna Clarke, Elizabeth NunezEdith Wharton, Amy Tan, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Diane GlancyLaura Ingalls Wilder, Arundhati Roy, Hilary Mantel, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Gisele PineauSE Hinton, Val McDermid, Flannery O'Connor, Marguerite Duras, Betty Louise BellSimone de Beauvoir, Natsuo Kirino, Joan Didion, Jhumpa Lahiri, Patricia Highsmith, Jung Chang, Azar Nafisi, Carol Shields, Jacqueline Susann, Daphne du Maurier, Anita Brookner, Eleanor Catton, Lydia Davis, Monica Ali, Gaynor Arnold, Beryl Bainbridge, Joanne Harris, Pat Barker, Nicola Barker, Nina Bawden, Louise Erdrich, Dorothy L Sayers, Pamela Dean, Mary McCarthy, Marisha Pessl, Callie Wright, A M Homes, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Curtis Sittenfeld, Jane Gardham, Penelope Fitzgerald, Collette, Lan Samantha Chang, Louise Welsh, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, Gillian Flynn, Helen Oyeyemi, Octavia E Butler, Alice Sebold, Barbara Mujica, Jeannette Winterson, Naomi Wood, Deborah Kay Davies, Joanna Russ, Emma Donoghue, Isabel Allende, Siri Hustvedt, Denise Mina, Linda Medley, Cathi Unsworth, Rosamund Lupton, Anne Beattie, Francine Prose, Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Christina Stead, Susan Choi, Alison Lurie, Leila Aboulela, Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, Stella Gibbons, Ann Nocenti, Gail Simone, Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Vowell, Lorna Moon, Rutu Motan, Audrey Niffenegger, Karen Maitland, Willa Muir, Dorothy Whipple, Adeline Yen Mah...

I know there are many more deserving of attention - who have I missed out?

#readwomen2014

13.3.14

Liebster Awards

The very lovely Skotskrutet nominated me for the Liebster Awards. Thanks!

The rules are that I must mention Skotskrutet on my blog (you should follow her - she is a Norwegian living in Glasgow and writes about food, fashion, travel, lifestyle), which I have now done.

Now I have to:
  • Tell 11 facts about myself
  • Answer 11 questions Skotskrutet asked me
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers and tell them I've nominated them
  • Ask them 11 questions 
11 facts about me:

  1. I'm from Virginia (Northern Virginia, suburb of DC)
  2. I watch too much TV
  3. I went to bartending school after I graduated from University (no, really, I did)
  4. I am the youngest of three sisters
  5. I am about 1/4 inch shy of being 6 feet tall
  6. The first LP I had was In A Different Light by the Bangles (someone gave it to me for my birthday when I was 12)
  7. My favourite flower is the peony
  8. My favourite authors are Iris Murdoch, Alasdair Gray, Jane Austin, Daniel Clowes and Raymond Chandler
  9. My favourite beverage is champagne
  10. I like playing backgammon
  11. I can riffle and bridge when I shuffle cards - my sister taught me how to do it when I was a little kid
11 Questions I have to answer:

1. Describe yourself in 5 words

Introverted American living in Glasgow

2. What is your favourite shop?

Is it boring to say Net-a-Porter? Or if it's a bricks and mortar store, I would have to say the House of Fraser in Glasgow or Liberty.

3. What is your biggest dream?

Either to be a novelist or have my dream home.

4. Whose wardrobe would you like to own?

I guess Rachel Zoe's wardrobe, which is full of amazing vintage (I love the 70s about as much as she does) and is about as massive as you could imagine, but it would all be in way too tiny sizes!

5. If you were having guests, what would you cook?

Probably chilli. It's easy and it would allow me to use two of my favourite ingredients: hominy and liquid smoke.

6. And what would you wear?

I remember Rachel Griffith's character on Six Feet Under talking about having dinner parties and wearing something she called 'hostess pyjamas'. If that's a real thing, then I'm all over it.

7. What is your top travel destination?

I've never been to Morocco, but it has been on my travel to-do list for quite a while

8. What is your dream job?

I'm not sure if it exists - I'd love to have a job where I come up with ideas and then someone gives me the money to make them happen. Wouldn't that be great?

9. What food can you not resist?

Black olives

10. What three things can you not live without?

I guess people aren't things, so I won't say my daughter and my husband. I guess an  iPhone, a great handbag, and something fascinating to read.

11. What is your favourite piece of clothing?

Right now it's my Markus Lupfer fawn sweater. The sequin fawn is so pretty!

Now I have to nominate 11 bloggers. This is tricky, because they have to have less than 200 followers. But where? Bloglovin? Or by email? Or some other way I'm not aware of? And how would I know how many email followers a blogger has? And it turns out that most of the blogs I follow have thousands of followers. Who knew? I never really thought about it before. This is making me think. I should make a concerted effort to seek out new blogs with a smaller following - support the newbies! Anyway, after some snooping around on Bloglovin, I found 11 bloggers I do follow who have less than 200 followers. In the end, I chose to nominate 11 bloggers I follow who have less than 200 followers on Bloglovin:
  1. Forever yours, Betty
  2. Girl Around Glasgow
  3. Shoe Daydreams (one of my favourites)
  4. Honey Lushy
  5. Glasgow Food Geek
  6. Food and Drink Glasgow
  7. Miss West End Girl
  8. Poor Jessie Ann
  9. Sleekit
  10. These Stylish Streets
  11. Twisted Skirt
So, nominated bloggers, here are the 11 questions I'm asking you:
  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What city in the world would you most like to visit?
  3. What books are currently on your night table?
  4. What is your favourite song?
  5. What are your three favourite films?
  6. What personal belongings would you save from a fire?
  7. What super power would you have if you could?
  8. What is your idea of a perfect weekend?
  9. What is your biggest vice?
  10. How do you think the city in which you live in impacts your style?
  11. What is one thing you would like to achieve this year?

12.2.14

On peasant blouses

For some reason I have an unpleasant association with the peasant blouse. I think it's the name. For me it conjures images of Renaissance 'Fayre' costumers or RPG fans running around in the park at night in full regalia. But really, one must not be afraid of the peasant blouse. It's perfect for when the weather gets warmer - light, loose, comfortable. Great if you are going somewhere warm this summer - even better if you are staying at home. It would allow you to feel like it was something you picked up at a local market in some dusty, sun soaked town while in reality you simply sat on your sofa drinking Coronas watching your Game of Thrones box set. I'm not one to judge. That's what I'll be doing. Well, maybe with a margarita, not a Corona. But lets face it, pay freezes suck, times are tough and those are some pretty compelling dragons, am I right?

So, here's to staycations and to dressing like you have somewhere hot to go this year.

Boho white peasant top by Pyrus at Young British Designers
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I like the effect of the light embroidering on the black background of this top by Nanette  Lepore at Saks Fifth Avenue (scary model expression not withstanding)

A more restrained, altogether preppier iteration from J Crew

An ikat print version at Anthropologie

This slinky black silk version by Diane Von Furstenberg is on sale at Lane Crawford
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But if you can't get over the costume connotations of peasant blouses, try a little mexican embroidery in jewellery form, with this adorable necklace from Tatty Divine at House of Fraser.

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8.2.14

February wish list

Back to being broke, and this month is my daughter's first birthday, so I won't be spending much of our small disposable income on myself, but being a product of the age, there is always stuff I want. And the weather is changing just a bit, and I'm trying to re-teach myself how to dress for work after being off for a year. It's proving far more challenging than I had anticipated. I think I've got my trouser situation sorted. I rarely wear skirts. My wardrobe is about 80% sweater, so I don't need more of those. It's mainly tops that I need.


Asltey Clarke has introduced a line of 'Aphrodesiac' charms in time for Valentine's day. My favourite is this sweet sea urchin.
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This Jaeger coat has a nautical vibe, which is always a great spring look:
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Ballerinas - with love hearts!

I really feel like I need some light grey denim in my life:

And some 3D printing I can get excited about:

6.2.14

Consolation cookies

Now that I can eat normal food again, my husband very kindly made chocolate chip cookies for me. Isn't that sweet? Hah - pun intended, I guess. As an American in the UK, I really value a good, chewy chocolate chip cookie. As someone who doesn't eat butter (or any cow's milk product) or eggs, a truly good chocolate chip cookie can be hard to come by. Until I bought this totally unassuming little cookbook, The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek. Thin, no frills, no photos, and not much design to speak of, this book doesn't seem very promising on the outside. But the recipes are fantastic. This chocolate chip cookie recipe is a taster:

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies (I always leave out the pecans)

Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegan margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp non dairy milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use a dark chocolate bar broken into smaller pieces)
1/2 cup pecans (as mentioned above, I just leave these out)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (177 celcius). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together sugar, brown sugar and margarine. Dissolve cornstarch in milk and add to sugar mixture along with vanilla. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in batches, then stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

Using a cookie dropper or tablespoon, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. If you are baking more than one sheet at a time, rotate the sheets about halfway through the baking time. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yum!

5.2.14

Work!

Returning to work after a year-long break on maternity leave was hard, but music made it a wee bit easier. As I was leaving for work on that very cold, somewhat dark January morning, I saw headphones in my handbag and remembered that I have a phone full of tunes. Before I had Serena, I never went anywhere without music being piped into my ears. While I was on leave, I pretty much didn't go anywhere without my baby, so the constant music had to go. Now that I'm going to work again, I have 15 minutes of music bliss each morning, and 15 more each evening. At the moment, it has to be good, upbeat music with a brisk walking tempo that can propel me through the park and help me get into character, as I've I always viewed working in an office as a bit of a performance.

Here's the playlist that currently helps me get to work (as you can see, my taste is eclectic to say the least):




  1. Saga (feat. Santigold) - Basement Jaxx
  2. California Girls - The Beach Boys
  3. Make Some Noise - The Beastie Boys
  4. Turn of the Century - Chicks on Speed
  5. Man, It's So Loud in Here - They Might be Giants
  6. Baby, Please Don't Go - AC/DC
  7. Dog Days Are Over - Florence + the Machine
  8. Raise Me Up - Hercules and Love Affair
  9. Last Dance - Donna Summer
  10. F**k You - Cee Lo Green
  11. Over and Over - Hot Chip
  12. Lady Jesus - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
  13. Over Lovin' You - Electric Flag
  14. Queen Bitch - David Bowie
  15. Renegade - Styx
  16. Da Funk - Daft Punk
  17. I Wanna Be Your Dog - The Stooges
  18. Ain't It Hard - The Electric Prunes
  19. Divine Gosa - Bonde do Role

4.2.14

Valentine's gifts

You may have heard, there's this holiday all about hearts and flowers in February. Many people think it's pretty bogus. I can understand that, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for the 14th of February. My husband and I usually do celebrate (15 years ago, valentine's day was the first time we told each other 'I love you', so it's always been a special day to us) but this year I doubt there will be gifts. No matter. A girl can dream, can't she? And my way of dreaming is to put together a list to share with you guys. So here it is:

The bargain options:

Necklace, Emily Gao Jewellery at Etsy
The red and clear jewels and the black grosgrain ribbon give this statement necklace all the drama you'll need on Valentine's day.

Triple chocolate donut cupcakes from Heavenly Bakery
These look AMAZING. They are - brace yourself - vanilla sponge layered with melted vegan organic chocolate topped with vegan chocolate ganache and then topped with a vegan vanilla doughnut covered with vegan organic chocolate and sprinkled with vegan strawberry sprinkles. I'm doing that Homer Simpson open mouth drooling groan when I think of these. You can order a half dozen and they'll ship them anywhere in the UK.

William Morris: Artist, Craftsman, Pioneer
This beautiful hard cover book looks at William Morris's beautiful designs, but also touches on the very dramatic love triangle with his wife, Jane Morris and with poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Blueberry homemade liqueur, Harvey Nichols
This traditional fruit liqueur made from hand picked Slovenian blueberries, would be amazing poured over some vanilla Swedish glace (that's dairy free ice cream, if you didn't know that already).

The not-so-bargain options:

I love you loose pocket, Anya Hindmarch
You can never have too many pouches for your handbag. I have about three at the moment - for make-up, receipts, blister bandages, spectacle cleaner - anything that would be loose and hard to find otherwise.

Lilt perfume, Rouge Bunny Rouge
Just in time for spring, this peachy, leafy scent will charm you. Fragrances are so personal though, and Rouge Bunny Rouge has a range of beautifully bottled perfumes that should please all noses. Lilt's top notes are green leaf accord and fig leaf, with a peach, coconut and violet heart and a vetiver and musk base.

Rose gold plated cone bracelet, Jennifer Fisher at Net-a-Porter
This would look amazing stacked with other bangles - in other metal colours.

Butterfly silk scarf, Natalie B Coleman at Young British Designers
I love the colour combination, with the mint and pint. So pretty.
Bow French purse, Mulberry
How sweet is this ballet pink purse?

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