Monthly Archives: August 2013

Salon Love

Hair and beauty

Hair and beauty

My husband just doesn’t understand me… and now I’m about to cheat…

Don’t worry – it’s not what you think. I’m still as loved up as ever with my fabulous Mr. D. The problem is that now we have moved house, he cannot understand why I still insist on trekking to the other side of the city to visit my usual salon.

“What’s the matter with you?” he asked exasperated, “we have a salon just down the road from us and you still want to go to your old salon!”

“Yes,” I replied equally annoyed, “because they know me.”

“So what? The beauticians at the new salon will get to know you too. I don’t see why it matters…”

And on and on it raged. Most men might not care who cuts their hair just as long as it’s done well and for a good price. Us ladies are different. We are very particular who we allow near our face, hair, nails and body. If they prove to be good, we will continue to use them no matter what the cost or how far we have to travel.

And it’s not only that but over time, we start to build a rapport with our beautician/hair stylist. They know what treatments we like; what products work for our skin and which don’t; how we usually have our hair styled etc. And of course there’s the bonding that occurs over the luxury pedicure. We talk; we tell them things; they tell us things; we share advice about things that aren’t even remotely related to hair and beauty. That’s why we keep going back to the same people time and time again.

 

And as I know only too well, good salons are really hard to find. I have had my fair share – and probably everyone else’s fair share  – of horror stories including the disgusting beautician who used window cleaner on my face (?) and the even more hideous salon owner who tried to cover up for her. So is it any wonder then, that when we find someone whose work we like and whom we bond with, that we make like Velcro and attach ourselves to them?

Over dinner with some of our friends the other night, Mr. D had a good moan to them about me traipsing for miles to get to my fave salon.

“Well,” one of my friends began, ” when you get used to a salon, you don’t really want to go anywhere else. That’s just the way it is.”

 

That told him! He even said that he overheard his female work colleagues talking about the same thing: that they would travel out of town to go to a salon that they really liked. I think he’s beginning to understand that it’s just what us girls do. However my friends did laugh their heads off when they heard that I was constantly emailing my hairdresser when I went on holiday – saying that I was taking the attachment thing too far!

 

So why is it that I’m now going to contradict everything that I’ve just said and visit a new salon that’s ten minutes from where we now live? Well it was Mr. D. who persuaded me to give it a go.  “Just go and see how it is,” he said. Furthermore however, it’s the weekend; I’m frazzled after a hard week, and I don’t want too travel too far for a well deserved facial and massage. But I am by no means abandoning my regular haunt – but it helps to have somewhere local to go to when I need a super quick pick-me-up.

So why do I feel so guilty? I feel like a cheating spouse! Does anyone else have salon issues?

 

Advertisements

Apricot Bakewell Tart

Who doesn’t like a large slice of Bakewell Tart? And if like me, you’re quite fond of apricots, then you’ll love this modern take on an old classic which uses apricot jam rather than the traditional raspberry. Easy to prepare and delicious – your family and friends will love this. If you don’t scoff the lot yourself, that is!

APRICOT BAKEWELL TART

 

Serves: 8-12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Cooling time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:
For the pastry

225g plain flour
110g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs

For the filling

4 heaped tbsp. apricot jam
150g unsalted butter
150g castor sugar
3 large eggs

1 egg yolk
150g ground almonds
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp. Almond extract
1 tbsp. flaked almonds
Icing sugar for dusting

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas mark 4
  • To make the pastry, put flour, butter, sugar, and salt into food processor.
  • Whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add one egg and pulse the processor until the dough comes together.
  • Flatten into a disc; cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about 3mm thick.
  • Grease  a 20cm, 3.5 cm deep fluted tart tin and line with pastry.
  • prick the base and chill for 20 minutes.
  • Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Remove the beans and paper.
  • Beat the remaining egg and brush over the inside of the pastry case.
  • Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Spread the jam evenly over the base of the pastry case.
  • Cream the butter and castor sugar together.
  • Gradually add the eggs and egg yolk.
  • Fold in the ground almonds, orange zest  and almond extract.
  • Spoon the mixture over the jam.
  • Scatter with the flaked almonds and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve with cream, ice-cream, custard or mascarpone.

 

A Trifle Bit Yum!

 

 

I’ve adored trifle ever since I was a child: fruit; custard; jelly; cream; numerous layers of yumminess… what’s there not to like? What’s even more amazing is that with zillions of varieties of trifle you can have a different one for every day of your life and you’ll never get bored!

I don’t believe that trifles should be solely reserved for Christmas but to make one completely from scratch can be quite time consuming. However, I’ve managed to find a recipe for a super quick trifle which takes a fraction of the time to prepare but is still extremely delicious.

ZESTY AND BOOZY RASPBERRY TRIFLE

 

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

4 tbsp. sherry or raspberry liquor
1 Madeira cake, sliced 1″ thick
5 tbsp. raspberry jam
250g/9oz fresh/thawed raspberries
290ml/ 1/2 pint ready made custard
Zest and juice of one orange
290ml/ 1/2 pint double cream, whipped

Candied orange peel/slices/fresh orange segments

METHOD:

  • Spread the jam over the cake slices and cut into bite sized cubes.
  • Divide the sponge cubes between four individual dessert glasses.
  • Pour the sherry or raspberry liquor over the sponge.
  • Divide raspberries between the glasses, reserving a few for decoration.
  • Mix the orange zest and juice with the custard and place over the cake and raspberries.
  • Top with a layer of whipped cream and place remaining raspberries and oranges on top.
  • Cool in fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

So Much For Sisterhood!

 

I’m really appalled by Katie Hopkins’ latest round of controversial comments but I really don’t want to give too much attention to a woman who clearly gets paid to be so vile – and take pride in it too. Katie has been very open about her lack of remorse in taking her now husband away from his first wife. Everyone knows about Katie’s penchant for married men so this doesn’t come as a surprise. She’s clearly not someone who believes in women sticking together, and sadly there are other women out there who come from the school of thought that if you see something you want – take it. And they do take with very little regard as to who it belongs to or who gets hurt.
Naturally, as a happily married woman, this doesn’t sit well with me. Mr. D. is without a doubt a real catch; the best thing to happen to me. He’s as gorgeous on the inside as he is on the outside. It doesn’t surprise me that he catches the eye of other women. But I would hope that he’d tell her where to go. However, I would hope that a woman would have a strong sense of sisterhood to not even go there in the first place.

Sadly, there are plenty of women who don’t have this sense of solidarity  – and so would go there without a second thought.

 

No guilt…

Earlier this year, on a night out, I got acquainted with the friend of someone I know. Kerry* was hardly what you could call shy and retiring but even I was amazed by a later confession – probably fuelled by too much alcohol – in which we got talking about ex-boyfriends and she revealed that hers was already in a relationship when she met him.

“Oh my gosh,” I said, “he lied to you! So when did you find out about his girlfriend?”
“Er, when he asked me out,” she replied, clearly thinking I was an idiot.
“You went out with him even though you knew?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes!” Kerry replied, a little defensively, “his girlfriend and his relationship are his business. Nothing to do with me. I was the one who was single so I was free to do what I liked.”

 

Let’s just say we didn’t promise to add each other on Facebook at the end of the evening.

With friends like these…

Amanda* was a girl I knew from school. She was definitely not the kind of girl you wanted to mess with but one thing that did impress me about her was her strong sense of loyalty to her friends. And they did seem to be a pretty tight bunch of people. As someone not cool enough to make it into this elite ‘girl gang,’ I have to admit, I did feel a little envious of their close bond.

Fast forward six years and guess who runs off with her best friends husband? That’s right – Amanda! What was surprising was that many of Amanda’s friends – as shocked as they were by what had happened – stood by her. Amanda, herself, didn’t feel any remorse over what she had done, claiming that her friend Emily and husband Sean had had a very unhappy marriage and weren’t suited. She even claimed that Emily had even cheated on Sean once. It all worked out very well for Amanda as she is still with Sean and they now have two children together.

 

I actually bumped into Amanda several years after we had left school. By then she was expecting her second child – a daughter. It was a super quick catch up, in which she talked mostly about her children. She obviously wasn’t going to tell me about how she met her fella – and she didn’t know that I knew what had happened through mutual acquaintances.

Once again, there were no offers to keep in touch as I had no desire to keep in touch with anyone who treats their friends so shoddily. To sleep with a stranger’s husband or boyfriend is bad enough but when it’s the boyfriend of a friend or family member… it’s just not on.

Ruth* knows only too well the pain she felt when she realised that her husband, Simon*, was cheating on her with a woman she considered to be a friend, Erica*:

“I returned from a business trip and found things that things were not in it’s usual place or in the order they would normally be arranged. The biggest giveaway were the sheets being changed – something my ex-husband wouldn’t even know how to do. I asked a lot of questions but his answers were very vague and I instinctively knew that something wasn’t right.”

Eventually it was a local café owner who told Ruth what had really been going on:

“I mean we live in a town where pretty much everyone knows everyone. I can’t believe he was so stupid as to think he wouldn’t get caught. What I learned is that he had been seeing her for a while and that they had been seen out together. I now believe that whenever I was away working, he’d bring her over to the house. I didn’t know which was worse: the fact that everybody knew or the fact that he’d brought her into our home. It tore me apart that he cheated with a woman that I was quite friendly with. It was the ultimate betrayal.”

Ruth confronted her husband and her friend, before kicking her husband out. He then tried to work things out with Ruth but when it became clear that she wasn’t going to take him back, Simon then moved in with Erica and the two of them carried on their relationship for the next four years:

“I was never going to take him back. He’d destroyed my trust. There was no way our marriage could ever work. I was devastated though when he went to live with my former friend. Devastated but not surprised. However, what made it easier was knowing that he still loved me – if you could call it that – and that he was only with her because he was so needy and didn’t want to be on his own. Even our mutual friends agreed he’d be back tomorrow with his tail between his legs if I’d agree to have him back. Strange as this may sound even though I hated my ‘friend’ for pursuing my husband the way she did, I also felt sorry for her because it was so obvious she was second best.”

Ruth has since remarried and has very little contact with Simon – who is no longer with Erica.

“Thankfully they moved away shortly after they started living together which made things a lot easier for me. It took a while but I slowly picked myself up and moved on. I met Craig* about two years after my divorce. He restored my faith in men and relationships and we’ve been together for nearly nine years now. Simon even made an attempt for us to get back together just after I met Craig but obviously it never happened. By then, they’d broken up. I think she [Erica] was expecting Simon to propose after the divorce came through. It never happened and the relationship didn’t last long. I see Simon from time to time at weddings and other events. We are civil towards one another but I don’t know anything about his private life. As far as I know he’s not with anyone.”

I’m glad that Ruth got her happy ending and that Erica didn’t come out of this so well. I just hope she’s learnt her lesson and won’t hook up with a man who isn’t available ever again.

The same thing applies to men and ‘brotherhood’…

Sadly it’s not just women who have a lack of respect for relationship boundaries. Men can be just as bad too.

Gavin* has been with his wife Amy* for thirty years and married for just over twenty. The reason why it took so long for them to walk up the aisle is because Amy was already married with a young daughter when they met.

“It would sound odd to a lot of people but with Amy and me there was no sneaking around or hiding. Our relationship was common knowledge – even to her husband Rick*. Her husband had hoped that this would be something that would fizzle out and he was worried that if he’d pushed her into not seeing me again, she might leave him. As a result it just made me have absolutely no respect for him at all.”

Rick and Amy then went on to have a second daughter. Many people hoped that this would strengthen the bond between them and that she would stop seeing Gavin. But there was a twist in store…

“We all limped along for another six months after Lilly* was born, but the truth eventually came out: Lilly was my daughter – not Rick’s. Rick already suspected it so the news wasn’t that much of a shock. It was the end for Rick and Amy after that as he knew that I just wasn’t  going to go away. Amy moved in with me and we got married about a year after her divorce came through and we’ve been together ever since. People used to ask me if I was worried about Amy doing to me what she did to Rick but the honest truth is I don’t. They weren’t compatible and the truth of the matter is that if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else. Amy and I love each other even after all these years – we were meant to be.”

However for those of you who think that Gavin sounds a little too much like the cat who got the cream, it may be a comfort for you to know that it hasn’t been all plain sailing…

“Amy and Rick had a daughter, Rosie*, so naturally Rick was always going to be around as he had to play a part in his daughter’s life. Despite everything and how I felt about him, I was never going to take his daughter away from him – even though I love Rosie as though she’s my own. The three of us decided to behave as adults and put her first. This has meant that Rick’s been present at every sports day, school play and presentation evening. And it’s always Amy and him who went to Rosie’s parent’s evenings. At Rosie’s wedding, he obviously was the one who walked her down the aisle which I accepted; there isn’t much of a role for stepfather’s at weddings even though I helped raise her too. When the kids were young, we used to have him over for Christmas as Amy felt it was best for Rosie. And now that there are grandchildren, we still occasionally have to have Rick – along with his second wife Beth* – over for Christmas dinner. We’ve all learnt to be civil even though we’ll never be great mates but I’d be lying if I said I miss not having Rick over for Christmas. It’s not ideal but what can you do?”

I’m sure there are plenty who don’t feel any sympathy for Gavin – and who can blame them?

I remember a conversation at secondary school, in which I asked a friend if she thought it was OK to go out with a boy who was already seeing someone else.

“No”, she replied quite matter of fact.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because I would hate it if I had a boyfriend who did something like that to me,” she answered,”so I couldn’t possibly do that to someone else.”

Wise words from someone who wasn’t even sixteen at the time. Too bad people twice that age don’t take that advice. The world might be a happier place with less heartbroken people.

* Names have been changed

Irresistible? Just A Little!

My thesis for my MA degree was based on the subject of my favourite type of film character – the femme fatale. So it was no surprise that Mr. D. and I enjoyed the movie we watched last night, Irresistible, starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neil and Emily Blunt. It was actually released in 2006 but for some reason, I’ve only just got round to watching it! But it was definitely worth the wait.

 

 

 

Sarandon’s character, New York- born Sophie Hartley, is the archetypal woman who has everything: a fabulous life in Australia; two beautiful daughters; a loving and successful husband; a close relationship with her father;  a gorgeous house (I asked Mr. D. when we were going to get a house like that) and a great career as an painter and illustrator. And is she happy? You’ve guessed it, NO! Sophie is haunted by a secret which she has carried with her since her teenage years – and it’s a secret that threatens to destroy her piece of mind and happy family life.

 

 

Step forward the beautiful Mara (played by Blunt) who works with Sophie’s husband, Craig (played by Neil.) Stunning, intelligent, with a home and family life that looks as though it came straight out of the pages of a magazine, Mara seems a little too good to be true. Always willing to help Craig both in and out of the office, Mara also quickly latches on to Sophie as soon as she meets her and is eager for the two of them to be good friends. Mara tries to bond with Sophie through their role as mothers and also confides in her about the tragic death of her best friend Kate. But is Kate’s death all it seems to be? And can Sophie trust Mara?

 

 

It would appear not, as over the course of the next few weeks, trivial items appear to be going missing from Sophie’s home. It’s all put down to forgetfulness; grief over her mother’s death; tiredness and scattiness in general before Sophie begins to question Mara’s motives and suspects that she may be the culprit behind the strange goings on. Her suspicions do nothing to endear her to Craig who is slowly beginning to lose patience with his wife and refuses to listen to her. Sophie realises that the real reason why Craig refuses to listen to her and fire Mara is because he’s secretly falling for his employee. So in order to get proof that she’s being stalked, Sophie turns to stalking her tormentor – and a chain of catastrophic events follow.

 

 

Irresistible is an Australian film, set in Melbourne and directed by Anne Turner. It’s enjoyable but it has a rather earthy, no-frills vibe to it rather than the glossy veneer of the nineties Hollywood movies of the same ‘crazy woman’ genre that I loved and still love e.g. – Single, White Female, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Disclosure etc. This film is packed full of twists, so it is very entertaining, although I did predict a couple of those twists. However, the final twist was a real shocker that I would never have guessed, but Mr. D. was left feeling confused by this so perhaps more clarity was needed so that the viewer could really feel the impact  when Mara’s true identity is revealed. Plus a little more of the eerie factor wouldn’t have gone amiss, so that the final scene would have been as strong as that in Psycho. Furthermore,  I feel that the title is a little misleading and a more appropriate one could have been chosen.

 

 

I know this film didn’t get spectacular reviews but then again it didn’t get terrible ones either. With a few tweaks here and there it could have been in the same league as other femme fatale films – this one was edging dangerously close to the border of soap opera territory. But it was still a good film with a strong cast and I would definitely watch it again (Blunt’s Aussie accent was very convincing.) It would be worth watching just to see Emily Blunt’s outfits again – that girl must have had a field day in wardrobe!

 

Of course films like this always make you think. A character like Mara can strike fear into the heart of the viewer. What would you do if you were Sophie and someone was threatening the stability of your home life? How would you feel if no one would listen when you tried to tell them that the likeable young miss was not who she claimed to be? And what would you do if your once devoted husband suddenly had his head turned by his new, pretty, young colleague? I was able to give Mr. D. an answer to the last question when he asked me – he soon wished he hadn’t!

 

 

 

Myleene’s Dress Is Pure Klass

 

I’m not a huge fan of yellow. I don’t think it does anything for me and I have very few yellow items of clothing in my wardrobe. Plus if I did have anything yellow, I’d have to combine it with something black which is the predominant colour in my wardrobe and risk looking like a bumble bee!

And I’m certainly not one to fawn over garments worn, designed or promoted by celebrities. However, I saw this gorgeous yellow, strapless,  broderie dress by singer and presenter, Myleene Klass – and it was like falling in love for the first time! It is stunning. And I think the vibrant yellow shade actually adds something unique to the overall style of the dress. I couldn’t imagine it in any other colour. The cut, the look, the design… I would be thrilled to own something as beautiful as this.

 

myleene-klass-for-littlewoods-strapless-broderie-dress-97-littlewoods-136381652439512801

 

Myleene wore this amazing dress to the Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards back in June of this year – and as expected, she looked fabulous in it. For those of you who aren’t into the strapless look, the dress also comes with detachable straps.

 

The dress is available to buy at isme.com

 

Armchair Masterchefs

 

My husband and I pretty much gave up on television a while back. No matter how many channels there were, there still didn’t seem to be anything worth watching. But there are still some shows we make time to watch religiously. At a risk of sounding like a couple of oldies who have nothing better to do, Mr. D. and I are addicted to culinary competitions which seem to be all the rage on television these days: Come Dine With Me, The Great British Bake Off, Masterchef, Next Great Baker… you name it, we watch it! In fact it’s more than watching it’s become a full scale obsession. We must tune in to see what happens next: who stays… and who goes. Oops! That’s Big Brother which we don’t watch!

 

 

We have a lot of fun watching these shows. They’re entertaining and informative but they can also be quite depressing. Why? Because after years of thinking that I’m a pretty good cook (I’m no Heston but I’m not bad either) I’ve suddenly realised that compared to the contestants who take part in these shows, my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. I’ve come to this conclusion after realizing that:

  • My pastry making skills are far from perfect (as explained by Mr. Hollywood and Ms. Berry.)
  • I have no idea how to make sushi – even though I love to eat it!
  • There is a tendancy for me to overcook food (as pointed out by Mr. D!)
  • I can really only bake cakes when I have a little help from my friend Betty Crocker.
  • Rare, medium rare, medium, well done… it’s all the same to me!
  • I’ve lost the ability to poach a decent egg.
  • I’ve never heard of half of the ingredients mentioned in the show.
  • There is no way I can chop onions, apples, carrots etc. so that all the pieces are virtually identical.
  • I have no idea how to debone a duck.
  • There’s very little chance of me being able to adequately filet a fish.
  • I don’t have the kind of palette where I can successfully identify every ingredient in a dish.
  • It’s really not a good idea for me to attempt to flambé anything…
  • Me and sharp knives are a dangerous combination so it’s really not a good idea for me to go at the speed of the professional chefs or the other contestants.
  • I like to take my time in the kitchen – that probably explains why we never eat before 10pm.
  • I probably don’t add as much seasoning as I should.
  • I love eating shellfish – but haven’t got a clue how to prepare it.
  • This may be an Anglo-Italian household but there is no freshly made pasta in this house as neither of us know how to prepare it!
  • If I cook fish so that the skin is super crispy, it’ll be burnt.
  • We like to drench our food in sauce – none of this ‘little smidgeon’ business.
  • We also like large portions in this house!
  • I haven’t got a clue how to make ketchup or barbeque sauce from scratch.
  • I’ve never used most of the gadgets and kitchen appliances I’ve seen.

 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ve learnt a lot from watching these shows and have got lots of new ideas.  We like to put what we’ve learnt into practice:

  • I can make bruschetta better than I did before.
  • I now know what goes into making honeycomb.
  • I know how to remove bones from fish easily.
  • I know the secret to a good pesto sauce.
  • Seasoning is important!
  • So is not overcooking food!
  • Garnishes are important but there should also have a purpose other than just decoration.
  • We come across lots of new flavour combinations.
  • I know that you should never wash sea urchin (not that I’m likely to cook it!)
  • we’re trying to put into practice that less is more!
  • I know what’s meant by tunnel boning.
  • I also know what a ballotine is.
  • I know how to pronounce words such as ‘coulis’ and ‘melange’.
  • I see the contestants mistakes and know what NOT to do.

 

 

I still have an awful lot to learn and I’m getting there slowly. There’s still hope for me. But I know that no matter how much I learn, I would never want a dressing down from Mr. Hollywood or Mr. Ramsay so there’s no chance of me ever entering one of these competitions. I know which side of the television screen is the safest for all concerned!

 

 

English Lessons

College student blogging

Happy Head and Heart

Mindfulness, Conscious living, Energy Healing, Happiness

General Health Magazine

Official General Health Magazine page for women and men! Free advice to become more healthier, smarter, fashionable, confident and successful.

Run for God Blog

Live it, Love it, Teach it

Good Morning Diva's

Ready for the world

Transhomemaker

Being proud to be a vintage housewife

Anchors & Swallows

My Vintage Journey

An American Vegan in London

Amy Joy Lanou: Vegan Foodie Discoveries while in London on Sabbatical

the good, the fab and the lovely

sit back, relax and enjoy!

Lolsys Library

Fun blogs about the wonderful world of books and learning!

The Godly Chic Diaries

Smiling • Writing • Dreaming

Tea Leaves and Tweed

Tea, beauty, life, and whatnot

cookinandshootin

"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it." - Julia Child

Clean, Cheat, Repeat

Eating clean or having a cheat?

Coconut craze

I'm obsessed with coconuts!

taste of colours

everything has got taste

Foood Post

My journal of foood musings and eating memoirs

Life of Bonnie

All the little things that make up my life!

Linda Creation

Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It's about sharing, honesty & identity.

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes

My blog about recipes and cooking, topped off with a cup of coffee or tea!

%d bloggers like this: