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

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.



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:

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:


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)


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)


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.




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


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?


Girl-e Obsessions

Dansk Kobenstyle cookware
I love the look of enamelled cookware. I have a set of Le Creuset pots and pans, but I'd like a covered dutch oven style pot and Le Creuset is a bit out of my budget at the moment. Dansk does enamel at a more purse friendly price and really, did the Danes ever design something that wasn't chic and stylish? I didn't think so. Kobenstyle is difficult to get in the UK, but not impossible. You can get vintage pieces from Ebay and Etsy, or new ones from Amazon.com.

Muji dishes
And while we're talking kitchens, I had to replace dishes I'd bought at M&S (less than a year ago!) because most of them chipped, so I bought some stylish and attractive, but very reasonable dishes from Muji.

The Bridge
I love the Danish/Swedish crime show The Bridge, and I'm so glad it's back for a second series. Saga is now one of my favourite TV detectives (after Columbo, Jessica Fletcher and Suchet's Poirot of course).

Aurelia Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser
I was trying to go budget with my moisturiser, and tried Say Yes to Carrots, but it was leaving a bit of a greasy film on my skin after rubbing it in. I really don't like heavy moisturisers. I took advantage of getting full time pay in December and bought this moisturiser from Aurelia for the first time. It smells divine and absorbs into my skin beautifully. It got it from Space NK, but you can also buy it from Net-a-Porter and Aurelia's own website.

Lazy Day free From ginger truffle slice
I am currently experiencing a horrendous illness which makes it impossible for me to eat anything other than dry crackers and slices of banana. I won't go into details. But as soon as my tummy is better, the first thing I want is a Lazy Day ginger slice. These are amazingly rich and decadent with a terrific gingery punch. They are vegan and gluten free, but you wouldn't know from the taste, believe me. I buy mine from Roots and Fruits on Argyle Street, but if you aren't in Glasgow, get yours online. They do a range of desserts, including their  amazing tiffin and chocolate dipped ginger biscuits. Yum!


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