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Friday 31 May 2013

Friday Wishlist: Gorgeous things you'll want to buy RIGHT NOW

The perfect maxi dress. £69 from Joy.

The perfect necklace. £86 from Boticca.

The perfect plates. £32, from Melody Rose at Culture Label.

The perfect filing cabinet. £495 from Graham & Green.

The perfect neon handbag. £19.99 from Zara.

The perfect ring. £35 from Tatty Devine.

Sluttery Sales Spy: Orla Kiely, Nine West & Traffic People

Bargains galore and a Liberace quiz? I'm really spoiling you this week.


Traffic People silk printed dress, £45 (was £99), ASOS

Swoosh! I'm always excited when Traffic People dresses end up in the sale, because they're so darn pretty. This one is 100% silk, fully lined, and has gorgeous covered buttons. The voluminous top half means you can sweat to your heart's content in the summer heat (yep, I'm still holding out hope that summer heat is actually going to be A Thing this year) and no-one will be any the wiser. Oh, come on, don't pretend that you merely glow. We all know that's not true, and silk is not usually all that reliable at keeping sweaty secrets. But I think we can trust this dress. Even the model's giving her armpit the sly eye, and she seems quite happy with her findings.

Trollied Dolly feather print dress, £32 (was £55), ASOS

I love red dresses, but it can all go a bit lady of the night/Christmas party/lady of the night at a Christmas party if I'm not careful. The cutesy bird and feather print on this Trollied Dolly dress should go some way to mitigate my night-ladyness.


Elephant pendant, £11.20 (was £14), Urban Outfitters

ELEPHANT AHOY! Just be careful that the trunk doesn't get wedged in your cleavage. Those tusks could cause some damage.

SNASH Peanut Gallery necklace, £50.30 (was £55.90), Fab

I'm a sucker for jewellery with little people on it, because - somewhat predictably - I like to name them. And with this Peanut Gallery necklace, I've got SEVEN to name! Obviously, Derren, Hilary and Steven are already taken care of. What should I name the other four?


Joeley2 sandals, £59 (was £100), Nine West

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our destination: Pattern Central. I think my feet are going to like it here.

Mandy sandals in green, £53.99 (was £59.99), Shellys

SO MINTY FRESH! These are the sandals we need for skipping merrily around town this summer - plenty of strap action to support our feet, plus a not-too-flat heel to prevent aching arches. They're the perfect sightseeing sandal. Also: STRIPES. I love the green and white, but you'll also find red, black, and blue versions. 


Mina striped skirt, £30 (was £55), ASOS

Womankind breathed a grateful sigh of relief when Sian rounded up the best dresses with pockets this week. I think we all agree that pockets are very handy (especially when your hands are in them - BOOM BOOM). I am of the opinion that almost every item of clothing is enhanced by side pockets, and skirts are no exception.

This Mina skirt from ASOS is ever so pretty - those dark stripes are navy, apparently, which bumps up its skirtovision points from me - and although the model is making it seem like she can only just squeeze the tip of her pinky into the pockets, I think she's just doing that modelly thing of trying to show us it's a pocket, without looking like she's had her hand amputated at the wrist.

And I don't know about you, but this tippy-toed right foot pose is the one I'm going to be adopting while waiting for buses, doing the photocopying, hanging around the water cooler, that sort of thing.

Orla Kiely Lovebirds skirt, £46.40 (was £58), People Tree

Go and have a closer look at the print on this Orla Kiely lovebirds skirt from People Tree - it's lots of little amorous peacocks (or it could be turkeys, but that doesn't seem quite so 'fashion', does it?). Either way, I like it very much. I'll admit I had concerns about the elasticated waistband - it's all a bit Cotton Traders catalogue circa. 1993 - but with a belt, it looks perfectly acceptable.


Gravitational Pull brogues, £29.50 (was £89.99), Irregular Choice

We need to talk about Behind the Candelabra. And by 'talk' I mean SHOUT LOUDLY ABOUT HOW AMAZING IT'S GOING TO BE (mainly I'll be responsible for the shouting part; you lot can just listen and nod).

Liberace and I have a lot in common, actually. I also had my boyfriend cosmetically remodelled into a younger version of me. I too have a $55,000 marble bath with gold swan taps. Not to mention the fact that I can't close my eyes after Rob Lowe performed surgery on me, either. But the really spooky coincidence is that I love glitter as much as Mr Showmanship himself. I KNOW. And I reckon he would've definitely loved these Irregular Choice Gravitational Pull brogues, which I imagine would be the sort of shoes he'd wear to a funeral, or for a low-key hike. Maybe even for a dip in the pool. 

QUIZ TIME! Test your Liberace knowledge! I got 10/10, obvs. *Fistbumps Liberace's spirit*

Beau shoes in mint, £49.49 (was £54.99), Shellys
I've saved my favourite 'til last. These Beau shoes from Shellys come in four different colourways, but these mint beauties are calling my name. In fact, they're SCREAMING my name. All day and all night. The only thing that will shut them up is a jolly road trip to my house, in the back of a Royal Mail van. Och well. Needs must, I suppose. 

So, what are you lot spending your pay cheques on this month? Don't say MOTs and new washing machines. I mean FUN STUFF.

Shoe Porn: & Other Stories

I'm so very in love with & Other Stories at the moment. Mainly their shoes. Here are five gorgeous pairs to brighten up your Friday.

These leather toggle flats are pretty perfect. They're £39 and my feet will be slipping into them the second the sun comes out (in 2015).

How swish are these beech wood wedges? I love a wedge without a platform. They're £125. Ouch. Beech is expensive.

No, I wasn't expecting to want a pair of pink trainers, either. But I do. I want them very, very much. These customised Nike Trainers are £70.

It's taken me a while to decide if I liked these, but the patent leather and plum colour has won me over. They're £89, though. Damn.

OK, I know these floral shoes are £95, but that doesn't stop me from being crazy in love with them. Buckles! Colour blocking! A chunky heel! Yeah, they're all things I get giddy over in any shoe, putting them all in one is pretty much waving a red flag in front of my credit card.

Gluten Free: Oatcakes

We love a cheeseboard here at Domestic Sluttery, but we remain firmly divided on the value of oatcakes. Our Siany and Laura are amongst the haters, while I am definitely a fan; I don't think a cheeseboard is complete without them. I can understand why people don't like the sawdusty varieties that tend to come in those biscuits-for-cheese selections you can buy. I'm sure I can change a few minds with these oatcakes.

The problem for us gluten free-ers is that, even those of us who are fine with oats, it's hard to find any oatcakes that are actually gluten free. Even oatcakes made from just oats (lots have wheatflour in there, too) aren't made from certified GF oats so they're out. For a bunch of people who can't eat any of the usual crackers on a cheeseboard, this is frustrating (to say the least). If you can't tolerate oats, try using quinoa flakes or some gluten free porridge (the type made from flaked rice) instead.

Oatcakes (makes 12-16 oatcakes)
You'll need:
  • 150g gluten free porridge oats 
  • 35g lard, melted (if you have some, rendered bacon fat is especially good in here)
  • a pinch of salt
  • hot water
Make it!
  1. Preheated your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  2. Combine the oats, oil and salt in a bowl and add the water, a little at a time, until you have a thick paste.
  3. Divide the mixture between two 20cm sandwich tins and press to cover the surface.
  4. Score the surface to make 6 or 8 wedge shapes in each tin.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. 
  6. Cool your oatcakes on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Thursday 30 May 2013

The Hobbs Sale

Hobbs, not unlike Whistles, is a place that I have a love/hate relationship with. I adore their NW3 range, but can rarely afford it. And their standard range can be all very grown up. Today I'm wearing shoes that I've had to super glue the heel back onto after playing on a climbing frame. That's not terribly grown up.

Yesterday when I wrote about amazing dresses with pockets, you all told me that you were going nuts for their dresses so I decided to take a proper look. Now I'm in love with a bright yellow mac. It's not in the sale, it's £139. Here's a little look at their sale pieces before I blame you all for my bankruptcy (which, I admit would be a nice change from the norm).

You are going to fight us to the death for this animal print trench coat. Seriously, get your paws off it, we will cut you. What's that? Even in the sale it's £95? See, this is exactly what I'm talking about Hobbs. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR.

Now this is more like it. This is a very cute blazer and it's £65 in the sale. Only size 6 or 8 available online, but as is often the case, you'll probably find more sizes in the shops. Still expensive, but you know Hobbs cut a good piece of cloth.

Unfortunately, no parallel universe exists where mustard yellow is a good look on me. But this pleated dress is super foxy and £69 and you should buy it. Worry about how you're going to iron it next week.

Yes, I'm going to be wearing this nautical jumper very soon. It's £49.

This Caravaggio skirt is gorgeous. The ruching is excellent. It's £64 and still available up to a size 18.

If the weather continues to be shit, I'm buying this definitely fabulous but totally out of season orange coat. But there's still no explaining the shrugs, Hobbs. Stop that, it's not 1994.

Sluttishly Savoury: Tomato and Chilli Risotto

I honestly don't know why some people don't bother with risotto simply because the stirring takes a while. This is exactly the moment to put some really good telly on your laptop, hook it up next to your cooker and zone out blissfully for half an hour or so.

This red risotto is chocful of store cupboard essentials, very easy to make, and incredibly tasty. It has a lovely unctuous texture, far more so than my usual recipe.

Tomato and chili risotto (serves four)

You will need:
  • olive oil
  • two onions, peeled and diced
  • three large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • six cherry tomatoes, halved
  • one large red chilli pepper, finely chopped with seeds removed
  • 400g arborio rice
  • two glasses of white wine
  • 1.5 litres chicken stock (use two stock cubes if that way inclined, I know I am)
  • one tin chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • butter
  • hard cheese
Make it!

Heat up a large saucepan and add a few sprays of olive oil followed by the onions and garlic. When nearly cooked, add the cherry tomatoes and cook a little more. Add your rice and stir round well. Cook for a couple of minutes until the rice is going slightly translucent (although you'll be cooking it for a while, so don't panic if you forget.)

Add the wine, a glass at a time, and let the rice soak it up. Then start adding your stock, a ladleful at a time - you know the drill! Watch your programme. I watched the rest of 21 Jump Street on Netflix. It was alright!

Let the rice absorb almost all the liquid,  then add another ladleful. And give it a good stir throughout, or you'll end up with a lovely layer of burned rice on the bottom of the pan.

About halfway through your stock, add the tin of tomatoes and your chili, and let the rice absorb the liquid. Add a few good grinds of salt and pepper, then continue adding your stock. Now, you've got more liquid than usual here so the rice won't absorb it all. This is not a problem. In fact, it will lead to that really lovely texture.

When you've added all your stock, let it simmer for a couple of minutes, then add a dollop of butter and remove from the heat. Let it rest for a couple more minutes,  then stir it through. Serve with pepper and grated cheese on top (gran padano or cheddar are both great). Enjoy!

Top tip: when heating up your risotto the next day, add some water (or some wine) and let it absorb into the rice to bring back that nice gooey, rich consistency).

@rupinjapan had a crack at it. Yay wine!
@daisy_fay wins points for presentation

Etsy Pick: Leigh La Loves Ya cult embroidery

Cult TV and film combined with brilliant craftsmanship: Leigh La Loves Ya is exactly the kind of thing Etsy was made for.

I found Leigh Bowser's work through the Australian magazine Frankie's blog and was pleased to discover she was a British-based talent. It's one woman and her machine in Leeds, making elaborately embroidered patches and brooches based on some of my favourite heroes and heroines. And Tobias Funke.

Oh yes, Tobias. Have you watched any of the new series of Arrested Development yet? I've still to catch up but that clearly won't stop me jumping on the AD bandwagon with this Never Nude design. It's available either as a key fob/chain or a patch/brooch, though I'd definitely go for the patch option in this case, so you'll never need to be nude again. Tobias is also available in his blue period.

I've never watched any Buffy. I've been told many times over that I should. Perhaps this brooch would encourage me to start.

But Twin Peaks, on the other hand, is a firm favourite (remember the Kate Rowlands badges?). Here's the log lady in all her early 90s bespectacled glory - though sadly shown without her identifying log.

And before someone else is favourite cat of the internet-verse, here's Tarder Sauce in a full-on glorious grump. Sporting this on your lapel could hardly fail to cheer you up.

Each embroidered piece costs between £10 and £12. There's plenty more designs to pick from featuring everyone from Bowie to Margot Tenenbaum, Enid Coleslaw to Frida Kahlo. Buy one, and pledge your allegiance to your favourite. Buy them all and have the best camp blanket in the world.

Sluttishly Organised: Recipe Organisers

Recently, my mum and I learned the hard way what happens when you don't keep your recipes organised. I wanted her recipe for gypsy creams (I'm still working on GF-ing the recipe) and I was sure it was in one of her hand-written books. We spent 40 minutes on the phone, me desperately describing the book I thought it was in, mum pulling all her cookbooks out of the cupboard and rifling through them. We found the recipe eventually, but it was a reminder for both of us that it was time to organise all those scraps of paper and cut-out recipes somehow. I love this pink leather-bound file from Oh So Cherished. This A5 binder is really quite special, with pages of cream Italian paper to write your recipes on and plastic wallets to stuff with all the ones you're still trying out. It's £34.99, but it's handmade and would last forever. Go on, treat yourself!

If you're on more of a budget, Paperchase has a few recipe journals for £10 for you to chose from. All four of these journals are wipe-clean (essential when I'm cooking, how do you keep ingredients in the bowl?) with loads of useful sections for notes and recipes. They came with recipe card holders and a zip wallet, too, so you'll never lose that gypsy creams recipe again.

For a really pretty addition to your kitchen, you can always count on the V&A. This William Morris recipe binder is filled with gorgeous prints as well as handy places to keep your recipes. If you find yourself unable to access our handy cooking conversion charts, then you'll find them in this binder. It's £12.15 from Amazon.

How do you keep your recipes organised?

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Sluttery Travels: Local Living, Tuscany

I'm not very good at doing 'touristy' things. I'm all for visiting a museum or three, but I care little for guided tours and I'd much rather seek out the undiscovered than follow a crowd of people. I don't like having schedules when I'm on holiday. I'd much rather do things inbetween people watching in a cute bar. I like exploring and going on my own adventures.

When G Adventures invited me to spend a few days in Tuscany on their Local Living trip, I was excited and cautious at the same time. A group trip? Organised fun? Guided tours? It sounds like everything I've ever tried to avoid while on holiday. But, the local living aspect appealed to me - meeting real locals instead of staying in a hotel, trying local food, learning about an area from the people who love where they live. Yep, that sounds like a winner to me.

After a sleepy two hour transfer from the airport, we found ourselves at Stefano's home in Chianciano Terme. Staying in someone's home doesn't feel strange, it's welcoming and comfortable. You feel settled. And my room had a huge balcony. I probably could have had my own party on it. Instead I took sunset photos like the one pictured at the top of the page.

I made pasta! Seriously, I made this. I'll share a brilliant pasta recipe with you soon. Between visiting towns dotted about the area, and drinking in wine tastings and olive oil tastings and eating so much food, you meet local people and hang out and take in a cooking class or two. We learnt about slow food and what makes produce in the region so special, we walked to Stefano about why he doesn't necessarily want to profit from his produce, he just wants to make the best food that he can because it's important to the local area and culture. It's important to him.

I don't drive, so having someone else doing the driving for me is a massive help (and it means you can catch up on book reading). I'm all for train hopping and rambling - Italy do train travel brilliantly - but there are some occasions when a car is handy and the Tuscan countryside is one of them (I've since learnt that it is possible to forget how to to ride a bike, after falling off four times, I have the scratches to prove it).

This is the The Abbey of Sant'Antimo. Near Montalcino, the church dates back to the 12th Century and manages to look beautiful even on the most overcast of days. It sees huge groups of people gathering every afternoon to hear Gregorian monks chanting. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed. Hairs stood up on the back of my neck and while I didn't quite understand (or maybe even appreciate) the significance of what I was watching, I knew I was very lucky to be there. I won't forget that for a long time, and I probably wouldn't have had the chance to experience this had I been holidaying on my own.

Travelling with a group of people you don't know can be hard work. Once upon a time, I went on a group trip with someone who didn't drink water. Ever. It was the strangest thing, but he hadn't drunk water for years. And yet he still had a pop at the vegetarian in our group more than once. I do group travel a lot, and if it's fun 70-80% of the time (it usually is), then you're onto a winner. But on group trips, you're spending a lot of time with the same people and you can't always go off and do your own thing when you want. That can be exhausting. It won't suit every traveller, but on most occasions the bad outweighs the good.

Local Living in Tuscany is brilliant for so many reasons. If you can't bear the thought of a beach holiday and want to do something different, you'll get to do that. Despite the organised fun element, there were still lots of 'let's have one more drink and then go exploring' moments. Stopping for limoncello in the campo in Siena was wonderful. You'll meet interesting people and if you're a solo traveller, this can be a godsend - I'm all for exploring on my own on a sunny day, but sitting and a solo dinner is dull three days on the trot. Group trips don't suit everyone, but G Adventures show you the best of a country with likeminded people. If you like the idea of adventuring but don't like the faff and bother, it's the perfect middle ground. Their Local Living Tuscany trip is a wonderful way to explore one of the most beautiful regions of Italy.

The Southern Tuscany Local Living tour is for seven days and costs £799. I was a guest on the G Adventures local living trip. Tuscany is my new jam.

Waxing Lyrical: Melt Candles

I made a little shrine to my Jilly Cooper autograph with Shine, Still and Eden. Don't judge me.
Candles. Amazing, right? When you find a make you like, (Gemma wrote about her favourite the other week), it's a really nice treat.

There is the most gorgeous florist in Camberwell called Pesh Flowers, run by women with impeccably cut-glass tones and an absolutely inspiring skill when it comes to flower arranging. It's a lovely shop, and I always stick my head in where possible.

However, my budget is more £3 bunch from Morrisons than bouquet, so I tend just to buy florist flowers for other people. Candles though - now we're talking. I bloody love a candle. Pesh Flowers carries a large amount of the range from Melt Candles, which I have smelled and bought extensively over the last couple of years. They're a really gorgeous range, handpoured over 36 hours in Lancashire's Ribble Valley, and all presented in smart black cylinders with little quotes on them. You can get a bunch of sizes, from skinny little things to huge, glorious towers in all manner of pretty colours. Prices start at £7.50 for a travel candle in a little silver tin,  to £32.50 for a 'tall and fat' candle. My favourite is the short and fat candle (£17.95), which is about four inches wide and five inches high and just looks a million dollars.

If you want to know which one candle to buy, it's Still. That's it. Off you go, shoo. A completely stunning mix of lavender, geranium and all sorts of other stuff, it's a dusky, relaxing fragrance that fills your room with the sort of atmosphere that usually requires several gins, a really good dinner, and a starlit sky on a summer night.
 If you want to know what OTHER candle to buy, you want More (RIP the magazine). Having forked out a ton of cash for a Jo Malone red roses candle for my mum at Christmas, I wish I'd just got her one of More, which is a really sumptuous, cheerful and slightly soppy rose fragrance. It's delightful.

Any hoo,  I followed Melt on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, and as a bonus their PR sent me some of their summery candles to try. This is a bonus because they're not cheap. They're not cheap, and some of the other ones stocked in the florist, like Blush, smell like you've been punched in the face by a sticky child who is covered in glitter.

(A quick look at the website suggests that Autumn and Saddle would be of very great interest to me. Does anything smell as delicious as autumn air and leather? No.)

Shine travel candle

When I was at home over the weekend, my dad muttered something about my brother still using Lynx in his late 20s. Shine smells alarmingly like that. Moving on.

Eden short and fat candle 

I love Melt's descriptions for their candles. This is Eden's:
"This is one of those rare creatures who offends no-one and delights everyone. She does all seasons and all places in the home, behaves impeccably at all times, is well mannered and charming and so makes the perfect house guest/gift. She’s the “girl” that everyone wants to be friends with and everyone wants to know. We like her .....A LOT!"
I wasn't best friends with this girl at first because, when unlit, she smelled like a cross between citrus sweets and air freshener. When she had settled in (it! It!) it was rather nice, much woodier than I was expecting, but probably a bit too subtle to tempt me.

Dance luxury glass jar

This was a real surprise actually - I'd had a sniff of this one in the florist and been left rather underwhelmed. When lit however Dance is an ideal bathtime candle; light,  floral and gentle without being unnoticeable. I felt calm and happy after a good whiff of this.

Joy room scenter

Right, I'm not tremendously convinced by Melt's smaller candles. I left Joy burning in the kitchen for three hours, and whenever I walked in to make sure it wasn't on fire I was left with a rather underwhelming smell of nothing much. If I put my beloved Lily Flame Bluebell Forest scented tin (ghastly packaging, but smells like magic and is only 50p more from Waitrose) in there for 10 minutes, I feel like I've fallen through a magical door into flower land. The colourful candles (tall and thin, short and fat, tall and fat) all seem to give off a much stronger fragrance which I like.

So,  here are the final thoughts. Concentrate on the luxury glass jar and the beautiful fat candles (my tall and thin Still candle that I bought the other week is a terror for spilling wax). I love the slightly bark-like texture of the colour candles, and there are some delicious scents here. I can't wait to see what comes into stock in Pesh Flowers next.

PS - buy Still. And then buy More. And then Saddle and Autumn and tell me what they're like, plskthx.
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