Thursday, 26 June 2014

Lazy Day Legs - The boyfriend short

I always hated shorts. I've always thought they were hideously unflattering. That they were for men and female hikers only. I always thought they made my waistline look podgy, my bum doughy and my knees thick. But in the last two Summers I've changed my mind. I started to turn when I bought my first pair of Siwy denim cut-offs. They were beautiful - the perfect amount of fraying at the leg, gorgeous studding detail and the perfect rise. I loved them. But then I realised you could see the bottom of my, well , my bottom and they had to go. I now own a more demure mid-thigh length rolled leg pair which are perfect for weekend slobbing about. But these leopard print babies are my absolute favourite. They are hands-down the best/ comfiest/ most flattering shorts I have owned. 

Top by Mango (now appears to be sold out in charcoal, but still available in blue);
Shorts by Current/Elliott; Shoes - Belle by Sigerson Morrison

These ones are designer - Current/Elliott The Captain which I picked up from trusty old Yoox. They seem to be pretty tricky to get your hands on, but there are loads of high street chino and boyfriend shorts around at the moment. Here's my round-up of the best.

These are Current/Elliott's denim rolled boyfriend shorts in ever-useful white denim. These are on sale on net-a-porter for £108.50. Still pricey, but beautiful and you can find cheaper versions everywhere at the minute - Zara, Mango and Gap are all doing a great range of denim shorts this season.

If you're looking for something a little softer and closer to the ones I'm wearing, then Gap have come up trumps with their Boyfriend roll-up shorts. They come in a huge range of colours - how gorgeous is this coral red shade? And they cost £24.95 - bargain!

And of course, you can always rely on JCrew to give good short. These are their Broken-In Boyfriend Chino Shorts in a fab paint-splattered army green. Again these come in loads of plain colours too. These ones are £79.50, but the block coloured ones range from £35 to £49.50. These are guaranteed to be the hardest working pair of shorts you own! 

Do not fear the shorts ladies, they are so flattering and so versatile. Sling them on with your Superga or Converse for a lazy day look or slip on a silk cami top and some simple heels (my Shoemint Kate sandals are perfect) and you have got a laid-back Summer drinks look nailed. Embrace the shorts, love the shorts - because believe me, they'll love you right back.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Summer Fair - Name the Ted and Fresh Gingerbread

I've been AWOL again, I know. I'm sorry. But this post should help explain why. Last Saturday was the school Summer Fair and Sports Day that along with the rest of the PTA committee I was in charge of organising. It was a loooooonng day. Set-up began at 9am, stalls opened from 10.30 am and we weren't packed up until 5pm. But it was such a beautiful day too. Everything looked gorgeous - from the glistening tombola prizes, to the mountain of cake donations, from my hastily created Human Fruit Machine to the bunting that had been lovingly hand-sewn from old school summer dresses by a very talented friend of mine. The sun gazed down on us from morning 'til night and all day I was surrounded by the faces of smiling children. It was hard work, but absolutely worth it. Here are a few pics from the day. (Thanks to my friend, Alan for the beautiful photos)

There is something so wonderfully, quintessentially British about a Summer Fete. Where else in the world would you see a tombola being rolled, teddies being named and ducks being hooked whilst Pimms is sipped? It feels so timeless. Because of that I always feel it is nice to bake something very traditional for the school cake stall. Of course, there need to be plenty of gaudy dolly mixture-topped creations to appeal to the kiddies. But when I'm at the cake stall I want to buy something old-fashioned and homely - a slice of victoria sponge or a freshly baked scone, some chocolate tiffin or a square of fresh gingerbread....

for the gingerbread
150g unsalted butter
125g muscovado sugar
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250ml milk
2 large eggs, beaten to mix
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 
dissolved in 2 tbsps warm water
300g plain flour

for the icing
1 tbsp lemon juice
175g sieved icing sugar
1 tbsp warm water

roasting tin, approx 30x20x5cm

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C/ gas mark 3. Grease and line your tin.

In a saucepan, melt the butter, sugar, golden syrup and treacle along with the cinnamon and ginger.
remove from the heat and add the milk, eggs and bicarb in its water.

Measure the flour into a bowl and add the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. pour this (very liquid) batter into the tin and bake for 3/4 to 1 hour until risen and firm. be careful not to overcook - you want this a little sticky.

While it is cooling, make the icing by whisking the lemon juice into the icing sugar, then gradually adding the water (you may not need to use all the water - you want a nice, thick, spreadable icing). Spread over the cooled gingerbread and leave to set before cutting into squares.

Simple Summer Fair perfection.

(this recipe originally appeared in Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess

Friday, 13 June 2014

The blues - Chambray Dress

Hooray! The sun is well and truly out! Which, of course means that so are my legs. Yesterday's sunshine-ready outfit was a new purchase. I can't remember the last time I bought anything other than for the children from Next. It's womenswear just isn't normally on my radar - I don't know why. But I clocked this lovely little chambray racer denim dress when it was featured in some of their press advertising. I thought it had potential. In fact, I searched for it online, but they were sold out in a size 10. Then, I was returning something in store this week and there it was, hanging near the doors and I just had to try it.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

It's Party Time!

God, I love a kids party! Which is a good thing really since I'm in the midst of planning three in the space of as many weeks. First up is the imminent school Summer Fair. I'm head of the Parents Association (did I mention that before? No? Probably because I'm trying to pretend it's not true myself! So stressful and did I mention thankless? Sorry. I'm at risk of going off on a rant here!) and the Fair is imminent (like next weekend imminent -aaarrgh!) so I am currently up to my eyes in bunting and raffle tickets. I am busily sorting tombola prizes and preparing rats to be splatted. I am the person who has to count those sweets into the jar so some lucky person can "guess how many" and win the lot. My husband says I should just make up a number, but really, that's not in the spirit of things, is it? It's loads of work but it makes the kids so happy, and really, I don't think I could just stand on the sidelines while someone else does all the work. I secretly love it.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Sunshine and Showers - Loving the Leopard

Well, what a difference a day makes! Yesterday the sun was shining and so I was out in the garden all day - weeding, planting, picnicing and playing with the children. Our garden is a small urban garden, but it is such an oasis of calm and remarkable quiet in the midst of the city. We were feeling some serious garden love yesterday.