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Saturday 30 October 2010

Gothic Bling: Skull Accessories

It’s the end of October, which means it’s officially autumn, and it’s also Halloween. Surely, then, the perfect time to add some Gothic touches to your wardrobe? Skulls are in style, and here’s how to incorporate them into your outfit.

If anything could epitomise this combination of seasonal change and Gothic grandeur, it’s this gorgeous sequined skull jumper by Markus Lupfer. Will be perfect with skinny jeans and ankle boots, and adds the right amount of sparkle. Being merino-wool it will keep you jolly warm which is really what we all want right now. Available from Harvey Nichols for £240.

Of course, nothing symbolises the British weather more than the black umbrella and nobody does skulls like Alexander McQueen. So really, this is a match made in heaven. This skull-print umbrella is a practical way to add some designer class, and black glitter-embellished skulls will give you an edge over the drudgery of the usual sea of umbrellas. You can buy it from Net-A-Porter for £190.

If the price of designer skulls is a bit too spooky, a great option is this knuckle duster ring from ASOS. A less obvious way to add the Halloween touch, it features a skull and heart design and would subtly toughen up the most feminine outfit. Frankly, I think this would go with anything and at £12 there’s nothing scary about the price.

This was a guest post by Claire Nelson.

Friday 29 October 2010

Etsy Pick: Randomly Generated

The genius (and ever so slightly geeky) Alex S sent me a link to Randomly Generated earlier this week. I want all of the little dolls! And let's be clear about this, I hate dolls. They usually freak me out. But who wouldn't want a little doll of the guys from The IT Crowd? They're only $40. Aren't Moss' glasses the cutest?

What about little Wayne's World dolls? Excellent! Excellent! Party On! Ahem. $30 for the two.

Is there something strange, in your neighbourhood? (In this case, your neighbourhood should probably be the length of your bookshelf.) Then you need Ghostbuster dolls! Obviously. They're $50.

Cocktail Hour: Pumpkin Martini

I love Halloween, as do most of my friends, so there are always lots of parties to attend, costumes to plan and excuses to drink ridiculous alcohol. This year I am holding out to try a Pumpkin Martini, inspired by this recipe for the Perfect Pumpkin Martini!

There are a whole heap of pumpkin based cocktail recipes out there, some of which seem to be much more trick than treat but this one seems pretty simple as long as you can lay your hands on some Pumpkin Spice Syrup (yup just like they use in your favorite seasonal coffee beverage!

Pumpkin Martini (serves two)

You will need:

4 fl oz Vanilla Vodka
1 fl oz Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 fl oz Double Cream
Cinammon Stick

Shake It!

1. Add the vodka, pumpkin syrup, cream and ice to a cocktail shaker and give it a good ol' shake until your drink is well and truly mixed.

2. Pour into a martini glass, grate nutmeg over to taste and garnish with the cinnamon, swizzle stick stylee!

Pumpkin Image from orangeacid's Flickr photostream under Creative Commons License

Book Rest Lamp

It seems at the moment that the only time I get to read is before I go to sleep, which inevitably ends with me falling asleep and dropping my book, losing the page I'm on.

What I could probably do with is one of these book rest lamps from The Literary Gift Company. The top of the lamp is shaped for you to rest your book on solving a lighting issue and the bookmark v folding the corner of the page dilemma (is it just me that has that?) in one. I also like how it looks like a little house when there's a book on it.

Book rest lamp, £40 from The Literary Gift Company (delivery is free on orders over £30 - hurrah!)

A Storm in a Jewellery Stand

As I'm forever leaving my jewellery all over the place (there's some hanging off my coat stand at the moment, I need to get a little bit more organised. But jewellery boxes are rubbish. They tangle everything up, and they're actually really ugly a lot of the time.

Enter Urban Outfitters. This isn't the first awesome jewellery stand I've seen on their website, but it is my favourite. I love that it's a unique design (by this I mean I love that it's not shaped like a tree). The raindrops add a cute touch too. The stand is £20, and it might be stormy, but it'll brighten up your dressing table.

Lingerie at Topshop

I've only just been alerted to how pretty Topshop's lingerie is. I've long been a fan of the Odille range at Oasis, but since that is no more, I need some affordable and sexy smalls. As much as I love Myla, my budget really doesn't stretch that far. But I can afford these. Now I just have to choose which ones to buy.

I love to contrast piping on this navy set. It's so flattering. Just don't wear it under a thin t-shirt. Instead of having predictable polka dots, they're pinspots instead. It's £22 for the set.

I like that you can choose a size for the tops and the bottoms. Perfect if you're big up top. This silk set is £24.

I love the retro feel to this lacy set. I think you'd have to be quite small up top for the bra to work, but it's cute, isn't it? Only £26 too.

This is my favourite. I'm a huge fan of bright-coloured lingerie, and this blue is perfect. It's one of the cheaper sets at £22 too.

Can I have them all please?

Souper Douper: Spiced apple and parsnip soup

It's hard to believe it's already parsnip season, but by mid-October this most festive of root vegetables is back, ready to be fried to a crisp at Christmas.

For now though, there are far more wholesome and autumnal use for parsnips that can really come into their own at this time of year, particularly when there's a cold snap on the horizon (there is). One of these is parsnip and apple soup, a fruity concoction that positively reeks of Halloween and bonfires. It tastes pretty good, too.

The apples provide a warm fruitiness that contrasts nicely with the curry spices if you add them to your soup, which is what we're going to do here. This is best served on a chilly day with husjs of wholemeal bread.

You will need:
  • 50g of butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • 2 parsnips, roughly chopped
  • 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 litres vegetable stock
  • 100 ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche
  • handfulls of chopped coriander to serve
Make it!

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat and add in the onion, garlic, parsnips and apple. Add salt and pepper to season, then cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the parsnips and apple are tender.

2. Mix in the flour and curry powder, stirring constantly to coat all the ingredients evenly.

3. Add in the stock while continuing to stir well and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a further 5 mins.

4. Blend the soup to a smooth consistency (a hand-held blender works fine). Stir in the cream and coriander.

5. Pour the soup into bowls and spoon over a dollop of crème fraîche.

[Images: Seelensturm (top) and *clarity* (bottom)]

Thursday 28 October 2010

Conran Bentwood Chairs

My kitchen chairs are pretty awful (the landlady chose them, not me). One of them broke once, and I fell flat on my ass and threw red wine all over me. Apparently that's hilarious for everyone else! Stop laughing at me.

We definitely need new kitchen chairs in Sluttery HQ. There's a cute little cafe down the road that has some glossy blue vintage chairs, and whilst I can't find any in that colour, I've become rather taken with these green and red Bentwood chairs from The Conran Shop. They're based on chairs from the 19th century, and the glossy paint looks amazing. I want to stroke these chairs. They're pricey at £99, but at least I'll be able to have breakfast in my kitchen without thinking I'm going to end up eating it sat on the floor.

Design Porn: Me and Zena *Love Bites* Vampire Teeth Ring

I love Halloween and I love vampires so I was pretty much smitten with this Love Bites Vampire Teeth Ring, £12 from Me and Zena, also available in silver.

And if you want the full set, there is also a matching necklace, £14, which is also available in gold or silver.

By the way when it comes to vampires you can keep you wussy Twilight boys. I'm talking real vampires, and quite frankly that place in my heart is firmly filled by Eric from True Blood. Hell that guy even manages to look hot when he's rocking a tracksuit and hair foils *swoons*.

PS. I am still waiting on watching Season 3 of True Blood so feel free to share your declarations of vampire love but please, no spoilers!

You deserve a medal!

This week I have been spending a lot of time thinking about motherhood. My baby girl was a whole 7 years old, every birthday gets me a little bit harder! Plus there seemed to be a whole glut of new babies arriving, including a new arrival for our very own Selina. Seriously was there something in the water 9 months ago?!
Anyway, I can honestly say that motherhood is one of the greatest and most rewarding 'jobs' I have ever had *but* it it is also pretty darn hard. I think all those amazing mothers out there deserve a medal and if I could I would send everyone of them this very lovely wooden round medal brooch from Lost at Sea, which costs £12, and is available from their online shop.

And isn't this just the perfect card to accompany said medal. Its by Tea and Ceremony and costs £2.50

As a wee disclaimer, I also think that there are lots of fantastic daddies out there but today I am all about the mummy!

So, who do you think deserves a medal today?

Cocktail Hour: Bakewell Tartini

Since discovering this cocktail last Christmas - and yes, it is definitely still a cocktail even if it only has two ingredients - I've been forcing it onto friends and acquaintances because it is criminally delicious. I've named it the Bakewell Tartini as it tastes just like the almond pastry. It's uncanny. You'll love this if you love marzipan, and even if you don't, give it a tiny try. I'm pretty sure it'll win you over.

You'll need:

  • A measure of amaretto
  • Cranberry juice
Shake it!

Pop some ice into a tumbler. Pour over the amaretto, top up with cranberry juice and stir. Sit back and marvel at how two ingredients can make such an awesome drink. Tell all your friends. Claim to have invented the name 'bakewell tartini'. Go on, I don't mind.

Flickr image from jojakeman's photostream.

Giddy up: Jigsaw horse belt

I never went through that horse-mad stage that seemed to afflict most of the girls in my school at some point. I only had a couple of My Little Ponies, bought because I knew that was the in thing to have, rather than from any inbuilt desire to spend my time grooming their fluorescent locks or anything. So I was more surprised than anyone when I started lusting after this horse belt from Jigsaw (actually I think it's a side effect of reading too much about Luella's horse riding obsession in her Guide to English Style).

It's a vintage-inspired stretch built with resin horse's heads forming the buckle. Though it costs £45 I think its use as a finishing flourish for lots of different outfits means you'd get your money's worth out of it. Personally, I'd team this up with a pair of flat boots for a touch of equestrian elegance (horse not included). Simple, rosette winning style.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Bollocks to Baking (sort of): Scarlet's Cookie Mixes

It's not exactly a surprise that I enjoy baking. But I'm more careful about when i bake these days. I work from home, I have housemates that are out and about all over the place and sometimes, I end up with five batches of cookies and an empty house all weekend.

And you can guess what happens to them.

It's the same with sending cookies and cakes as presents. Unless you know you're sending them to someone will a full house, you might just send when they're going away, or when their office is shut. Suddenly your generous gift of a dozen cupcakes goes to waste. No one wants cake to go to waste.

So I'm intrigued by the cookie mixes from Scarlet. Still a very lovely gesture, but without ensuring that someone is in to collect your parcel and worrying all day that no one will be there and it's the weekend and the cake will go bad. Instead, just send them a mix to make their own cookies. Each mix is £12 and you can get gluten free options for an extra couple of pounds. There's everything from white chocolate and cranberry, to rainbow cookie mix with colourful smarties. Your lucky recipient just needs to add an egg and some butter.

Then minutes later, they've got cookies. They feel like they've done fabulous baking goodness, you feel like an awesome friend. Everyone wins.

Wallpaper Wednesday: Britpop Liquorice Paper

I'm not sure if I'm more taken with this paper because of the scooter in the photo (don't keep your scooters indoors, kids). But I do like to modern Britpop touch to the paper, that doesn't overwhelm the entire design.

There are more colours, including a very traditional one, but I'm much more taken with this. I need some cool paper to line my desk drawers with, and this might be the perfect choice. Anything that nods to tradition but keeps it original is fine with me. And there aren't many wallpapers that have bulldog images on, are there?

This one is £55 for a 10 metre roll from Wallpaper Space.

Lend me your ears!

I don’t own ear muffs but I should. I say this every year, especially when I can’t find a warm hat to fit my big head, and I spend all winter convinced I have frostbite on my ears. THIS year, I tell myself, is the year I will get earmuffs. So I had a look around. Good heavens - who knew there were so many styles out there?

I couldn’t help but smile at these earmuffs with a faux-pearl headband from I’m not sure how comfortable they’d be, but they add a little class. In fact, at £10, they’re too sweet to pass up.

Initially, the concept of earmuffs with tassels sounds heinous (tassels! I know, right?) but I’m slowly being won over by this pair. These actually offer something more, they’re they’re a deliberate, conscious part of your outfit. They’re rather on the pricey side at £38 from Urban Outfitters, but even so, there’s something very sleigh-ride-through-Central-Park or ice-skating-in-Somerset-House about them.

My favourite, though, have to be the classic faux-fur style earmuffs, like these ones from Muji. I tried these on in the shop and they’re not only light and comfortable on the head, but they’re OH so soft! They come in three colours - grey, black or cream.

Now… to choose a colour…

This was a guest post by Claire Nelson.

Shop in the spotlight: Anglo & Dutch

I heard about Anglo & Dutch over on Rockett St George's blog. Proving the point that people who stock good design know where the best designed stuff is. Anglo & Dutch is a unique vintage shop that stocks things you wouldn't expect. But things you really want. Like all of these old style pretties:

I've always wanted an abacus. I have no idea why. This on is German, and it's £20. Please buy it for me for my birthday next month.

Look! These apothecary bottles have a little poison bottle! How lovely. They're described on the website as 'very old'. I like that timeframe. They're £65 for the little set.

I'm a huge fan of globes, but now I've realised that I want one in French, for spinny inspiration. It's £37.

It's all fabulous. I'm going to spend a lot of money in this shop.

Book Review: Luella's Guide to English Style

Despite the huge amount of time I spend looking at clothes - on blogs, in the shops, in magazines and as part of my job - I seem to find myself more confused than ever about what I actually want to wear. Thankfully, help arrived in the form of a little hardback book, Luella's Guide to English Style, the perfect tome to lead me out of my stylistic jumble.

Luella's much-missed, much-loved fashion label was known for its joyous and witty take on clothing, with collections being called things like 'Daddy, I want a Pony'. It's hardly surprising that this book reflects that sparkle and dash. You can tell instantly that it's going to be a fun read - there's an embossed fox on the cover, a quote from a Bowie lyric on the back and it's all topped off with a fluro pink marker. However, I hadn't realised that prior to her career as a designer, Luella Bartley had been a journalist. So she can write too ... hurrah ... and you get the sense she's really impassioned about this subject matter.

Though the book traverses you through some of the key elements of English style and its tricksy relationship to issues such as the class system, sex and the bosom, essentially it's a call to arms. Luella holds up the muddy boot and the scruffy hair that's been tied back with an elastic band as the rallying symbols for a generation, eager for us to cast off the shackles of airbrushed beauty and fashion that's consumed unquestionably. The book outlines some of her favourite female style icons (clue: the likes of Cheryl Cole don't get a look in) and they're a mixed bag: Marianne Faithfull, Vita Sackville-West, Vivienne Westwood, Lily Allen and Princess Anne are all featured. A diverse bunch but all united by what Luella sees as the true English fashion spirit, one of rebellion and not giving too hoots about what people think of you. Each style heroine is shown alongside a great illustration by Zoe Taylor. The book then goes on to dissect some of Britain's great style tribes and identify classic bits of clothing. They're illustrated by photos that look like they've been torn from an inspiration scrapbook, inspiring in itself.

The book is like a cooler sister, leading you by the hand, showing you the ways of the world. There's non-fashion world experiences in here too that everyone will relate to - the rites of passages that are marked by visits to Boots for example, or some healthy reminders of teenage insecurities. Then, every so often, you get a reminder of how cool Luella really is, anyone else here a former flatmate of Justine Frischmann and M.I.A.?

The English boys get a look in too, as the book features some of the nation's most loved oddballs - from Bowie to Jarvis via David Hockney. While the book is utter heaven for fashion/music/art loving girls, Luella drops in enough pop references to make it just-about-boy friendly and it's great inspiration for them too - I caught my boyfriend having a good old read (but, then again, that could have been the section on bosoms that caught his eye).

This book has really stirred up my joy in clothes again and stopped me worrying too much about if they're fashionable or if they make me look slimmer. Long-lost favourite items are being pulled from the back of my wardrobe and being worn again and I'm trying to be a little less impressed by the label in something. As a result I'm looking a bit bonkers. But I am loving it. I'm hoping to be fully clad, ready to be part of the Luella style army when it finally arrives. I've a feeling this book is just the first step. Buy a copy of the book, and join in the fun.

Luella's Guide to English Style by Luella Bartley is £10.99 from Amazon

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Sluttery Eats: Gwdihw, Cardiff

I’m not even embarrassed to admit that one of the reasons I love Gwdihw so much is it’s name. Because, Gwdihw = goodyhoo. How is that not the best thing to say ever? It also means “owl” in Welsh. That’s double points right there, in my opinion. You know how the Domestic Sluts feel about owls.

It’s also great because it mixes that über-trendy-hipster-vibe-that-everyone-says-they-hate-but-actually-want-to-be-part-of, with actually being nice and friendly. I feel cool just being there, but not as though I can’t be myself. As they say on their website “There is so much love between these walls it’s stifling”. I felt the love guys. I felt it.

The food comes up trumps too, which is a definite plus. My taste buds kick into gear at the mere thought of the Español panini, £4.75, which is what happens to goat’s cheese, sun dried tomatoes and chorizo when they were good in a former life. Bliss. They also serve a rather impressive array of cocktails, as well as beers and other drinkies. (You stopped reading at cocktails, admit it).

Gwdihw (or as I prefer to refer to them, Gwds-ville) also play host to a wonderful-sounding Ukelele Night on the first Monday of each month. I’m nothing, nothing I tell you, if not an avid fan of a good uke. I just want to be there, thigh-slapping away, shouting “Play that uke, boy!” For some reason that sounds quite fun.

You can find the joy that is Gwdihw at 6 Guildford Crescent, off Churchill Way, in Cardiff, CF10 2HJ.

Socks + Sexiness = Socksiness

Over the knee socks have been a desirable ever since Cher rocked them in Clueless. But it takes a certain kind of look to wear them, and no matter how cool I think they look, they're not the easiest of things to wear. They're also a little bit cold, if you're wearing shorts or a tiny skirt to show them off, you'll get shivery. So, I plan on cheating after seeing a fabulous-looking girl wearing knee-high socks over tights, I'll be 'borrowing' her look with these babies:

These are perfect if you've not tried over the knee socks before. The ruffle tops are cute too. They're £8 from Urban Outfitters (who frankly could have put the model in a pair of heels instead of making her stand on tippy toes).

These pinstripe socks from River Island look so snuggly (by the way, loving their website redesign, so much easier to shop on there now). And they're a purse-friendly £4.99 too. But, I'd remove that little bow.

If you really want to channel Miss Cher (she was a 90s style icon, after all), then these preppy argyle patterned socks are perfect. Wear them with a little black shift dress. They're £8 from Topshop.

These are my favourite. They're sexy, they're cute, the handmade, and they're made from bamboo so they'll be snuggly soft and strokey too. They're $9.50 from Pinkpong on Etsy. They'll cost you $3.60 in postage too, but that's worth it for such prettiness.

Kawaii Cushions

'Kawaii' is Japanese for cuteness, and is frankly the only word I can think of for these cushions from Etsy seller mymimi. Among the range of huggable animals are a raccoon who currently graces my sofa.
I'm not the biggest fan of pandas - diversify your diet, you fools! - but look at this little guy. Look at his face! Look at him chewing on that nutritionally useless bamboo! Aww.
And this adorable golden tiger just wants a hug and maybe a foot rub. How can you deny him? Warning: these cushions are so cute that you won't want to sit on them. They're $38 each - about £25 - plus another few quid for shipping.

Sluttishly Savoury: Steak, wild mushroom and ale pie

On Saturday, after my epic trek back from the Arctic, I had a hangover and an entirely free day. This means one thing in Sluttery HQ: PIE. Not just any pie. The King of Pie. That pie, for me at least, is the steak and ale pie.

You can put any other pie in front of me, and I refuse to believe that it's better than a steak and ale. Not when we're talking savoury (if we're talking sweet, I'll eat cherry pie until it comes out of my ears, wow that's quite gross). But I'd never actually made it before. And you know what? Aside from the fact it takes a million torturous HOURS to cook, it's pretty damn easy.

But, there was some trial and error with the recipe. I need a bigger pie dish for a start. One with a lid. I had to make two smaller pies, and the meat wasn't as tender as it should have been, because I didn't cover it properly. But, now I know and I've got the whole of winter to perfect it. Even with a few tweaks in the recipe below, you can see from the photo that it's a mighty fine pie. Boozy, rich, and meaty, with added sweetness from the shallots. This was enough to feed four people and even Alex S enjoyed it, despite not liking ale or mushrooms. I think that's a success, don't you?

You'll need:
  • 1kg stewing or casserole steak.
  • 300g wild mushrooms (I think I had chestnuts, girolles, buttons, and chanterelles, but really you can just choose your favourites and throw 'em in)
  • One bottle of ale. I used Old Hooky. Choose something full of flavour, but not too rich. It's a good idea to go for a dark one that you'd probably drink yourself.
  • 1 Leek (because I had one in the fridge that needed using)
  • Four shallots
  • Splash red wine
  • 1 block puff pastry
  • Two cloves of garlic
Make it!
  • Brown the meat on a low heat with the shallots salt, pepper and oil. Throw in the crushed garlic and the chopped up mushrooms towards the end so they go all caramelly.
  • Once the meat is all brown, add half the bottle of ale and mix in a splash of red wine. Mix in the leeks (they'll fall apart if you cook them first) .
  • Transfer to a pie dish (told you you'd need a big one) and add more ale if you need to make sure the meat is covered.
  • Pop a lid on and place in the centre of an oven (preheated for about 150 degrees). You want to cook for at least three hours, but do check every hour and if you need to, top up with more ale to keep the meat moist. If, like me, you couldn't find a lid for your dish, you'll need to do this a lot. Which means you'll have no ale to drink while you're cooking and that's a bit rubbish.
  • Once your pie filling is nearly all done, roll out the puff pastry and pop on the top of the pie. Cook for another 15-20 minutes until the pastry has gone golden.
  • Serve on a plate that's far too big. Accidentally eat far too much. Plot making it all again once you've run out.
Got a favourite pie, or does steak and ale do it for you?

Bag Lust: Oasis Herringbone Bag

When I was younger, I wanted all the handbags I could get my little mits on. There are far too many on my coat stand. Now, I'm a little more refined in my tastes, realising that I very rarely move all of my stuff from one bag to another, because when I do that, I inevitably forget something really important. I basically use the same few bags until they fall apart.

So instead, I invest a little bit more in handbags, that are still cool, but go with everything I own. And once the seasons change, that's a trigger for me to buy a new one. Like this grey herringbone one from Oasis. It's classic, it's elegant and it's really damn cool. I really like the double strap and it's just a little too cool for school.

It's £40 and going in my collection very soon.

What are your handbag habits? Do you have many, and change daily? Or do you stick to the same one day in and day out?

Cool Coats: Topshop's Check Sheepskin Collar Swing Coat

Confession time: I already own this. I'm a dithering, fussy shopper and my usual way of acquiring clothes is to go out, like something, go back the next day and try it on, go home, obsess about it for two weeks and then buy it. I think that's why I buy so many second-hand clothes, because it removes the torment of the high street: I've got to buy it now or lose it forever.

This check sheepskin swing coat from Topshop isn't second-hand but I felt the same way about it that I would about a green chiffon Fifties prom dress that fits perfectly: I had to have it, right away.

It's a toasty tartan coat with a quilted lining, old fashioned buttons, brown suede elbow patches and a sheepskin collar. I just went on holiday, to a still sunny but freezing New York, and wore it over both skinny jeans and dresses with wool tights. It looked good and, more importantly, I felt great. This is one cool coat.

Monday 25 October 2010

Get Hitched

Behold! There might not be a more perfect pencil skirt in all the land. I love the pencil shape. Nothing office-y can rival it for sexy sophistication (don't argue with me about looking sexy in the office, there's nothing wrong with it). But pencil skirts are sometimes a little bit dull, aren't they? Sometimes I want a more interesting shape.

And that more interesting something is all rolled into this grey skirt from Miss Selfridge. I love the hitching, it's so cute (and the back isn't hitched, so I won't add any extra padding to my ass). The bow being just a little off to the side is the perfect detail. It's still a smart enough skirt to wear to meetings, just with a cute little twist. Only £32, too.

Shoe Porn: Patent Camel Flats

As much as I love the whole camel trend (and I remember it being the first trend I really noticed when I was a kid reading fashion magazines in the dentist), it doesn't really suit pale skin. Rather than look really washed out, I'd rather stick to pretty accessories instead. Like these patent camel pumps (when did we stop calling it nude? Isn't it basically the same thing?)

They're from Topshop, and they've got everything going for them, haven't they? I adore patent leather, you know that. But the bows are a great addition. And the strappy, zippy thing that they've got going on stop them from being too cutesy. The zips have got chunk gold heart charms too, just for added foot adornment.

If you want these (you'll have to fight me for them), but they're a rather bargainous £28.

Cute or Creepy? Nomskulls Cupcake Moulds

Having a Halloween party? Need to knock some suitably ghoulish snacks? Then look no further than these Nomskulls cupcake moulds. They come in a pack of four silicone skulls, and the idea is that you add dollops of cake batter into their hollow heads, bake, then add squiggles of icing (ideally in a gory colour combination of pink and red) to look like gloriously gooey brains.

What do you think? Would you use them any other time than Halloween? Would it freak you out to see them eyeing you up with their sinister empty eye sockets every time you rummage in the kitchen cupboard? Or do you often have occasions that call for macabre confectionery? If so, they're £11.99 for a set of four, from Totally Funky.

How to poach the perfect egg

If I'm out having breakfast, I want eggs benedict. No other type of eggs will do. Seriously, is there anything more perfect than buttery hollandaise mixed with gooey egg white? J'adore le oeufs. Or something. But here's the problem:

I can't poach eggs.

I don't know many people who can poach eggs. There's different methods, that work for some and not others. Sometimes involving vinegar, or creating a 'spinning vortex of water' but they're all a bit of a faff, aren't they? Often ending up with eggy soup. Even if they turn out OK, I've probably still got egg on the ceiling. You can buy Poachpods from Lakeland, and they work well, but I had a craving yesterday, so needed something immediate. Give me eggs!

I then found myself on this website. Who said you could poach them in clingfilm. No! Rubbish! I don't believe you! It looks too easy. And it is.

You'll need:
  • An egg
  • Whatever fancy things you want with your breakfast. I had wild mushrooms and bacon.
  • And a cup of tea. You definitely need one of those.
Make it!
  • Pop some clingfilm over a ramekin and break the egg into it, like this:
  • Tie up, and squish down the edges, so it looks like a little goldfish you used to win at the funfair.
  • Pop in a saucepan of bubbling water for three minutes and get on with making the rest of your breakfast. (UPDATE - If you're worried about this step, as long as the clingfilm doesn't melt, your eggs will be safe and tasty. Just keep the film away from the sides of the pan).
  • Open your little egg parcel (carefully, steam will come out) and pop on top of your breakfast.
  • Cut open with a knife and watch all the yummy yolk run out. Marvel at how perfect, feel rather pleased with yourself!
Now all I have to do is make the perfect hollandaise sauce and I'll never have to leave the house on a Sunday morning again...

Sluttishly Vegan: Sneaky Mocha Mousse

This mousse is a sneaky favourite of mine. Not only is it fabulous in its vegan, egg-free, dairy-free goodness, but it gives me endless delight when I feed it to unsuspecting friends only to tell them halfway through a mouthful that it's actually made from avocado. Simple pleasures!

Fear not slut fans, you don't taste the avocado at all, it just gives body and creaminess. It's a trick I learned from "Green Chef" Violetta Cope, an expert in all things foodie and healthy. In summer I add juicy cherries and a generous splosh of kirsch, in winter it's all about the coffee.

Sneaky Mocha Mousse (makes 4 little ramekins or 2 huge ones)

You'll need:

  • 50g dates
  • 6 tbsp agave syrup, maple syrup or sweet freedom
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50ml strong brewed coffee, cooled
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 50g cocoa powder
Make it!
  • First soak the dates in some boiling water until nice and soft. 
  • Drain them and put them into a blender with the syrup, vanilla and coffee. Blitz until smooth.
  • Halve the avocados, skin and remove the stone (this should be easy peasy if the avocados are nice and ripe). Add to the blender. Blitz some more.
  • Add the cocoa powder and blitz until smooth and mousse-like. Taste and add more syrup if necessary.
  • Spoon into ramekins or shot glasses and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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