Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Terry's Chocolate Orange Christmas Leftover Muffins

The full title of this inventive recipe is 'Terry's-chocolate-orange-New-Year-sweet-Christmas-leftover-muffins'. By the time Boxing Day rolls in, as do Christmas' survivors, leftover turkey is usually seen as the order of the day. But surely too much credence is given to our seasonal savoury companions - turkeys, geese, duck, pork, usually the preserve of stodgy sandwiches - what of leftover sweets? In the spirit of New Year celebratory baking, and clutching some of the remaining Christmas Terry's chocolate orange, I decided to turn my sweet leftovers into a muffin recipe. As the saying goes, adversity is the mother of invention. And so leftover chocolate was the mother of this invention.

Ingredients (Makes 12)
3/4 Terry's Dark Chocolate Orange
2 large eggs
4oz self-raising flour (or baking powder and plain flour)
4oz caster sugar
4oz soft butter

For decoration (see below)

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 5 (or equivalent)
Cream together the butter and sugar until soft
Add the beaten eggs to the mixture gradually, a bit at a time
Fold in the flour until combined
Chop the chocolate orange segments into chunks
Stir chocolate chunks into the mixture
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes

For decoration I went (again) with leftovers - in the form of glace cherries, mini meringues, chocolate chunks, chocolate stars - so go wild and dangerously and experiment with whatever you happen to have to hand!

Good luck and comment below or tweet your progress!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Blogmas 20: A Very Merry Vintage Time Lookbook

Hanukkah, Christmas, winter, holidays...whatever your particular turn of phrase you use for this time of year,  it's a time of year for festivities and feasting and family and friends. Whether you like it or not it tends to lend itself to reflection, Christmas is the pre-drinks to the sobriety of New Year as Advent is the calm before the Christmas storm. 

I suggest it is a time for wearing something special and spending some of the bonus time you have to dress up, do your makeup, spend longer on that bathroom routine, or all of the above. This might also give you time for that reflection that seems to be in at the moment. Considering a change in the new year? Will the new year bells ring in a new look?

If it's a major life change or a simply swapping your go-to lipstick, have a ponder while trying out some new looks with some old inspiration. In the form of looks of vintage Christmas pasts, I give you Cashmere and Cushions merry vintage time lookbook!

A classic little black dress moment with Miss Audrey Hepburn

Go Loretta Young for full-on 1950's glam
Big floppy hat, big oversized coat, overdone red lips and you are ready for anything the season throws your way.

Vintage pinafore
A cute little girl dress or short dungarees in the right material and you're done!

Femme fatale - Belinda Lee
The original bunny girl outfit revisited for Christmas...for those Bridget Jones moments. Just be wise when choosing the day for wearing this one!

For the child (or Shirley Temple) within you, that wishes to conjure up the lore of Christmas Eve
Proving that simple, chic pyjamas can look great at any age.

Season's Greetings for every one of my lovely reader's, whether or not you have stuck with us for nearly 4 years or not!

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 15 December 2014

Blogmas 15: Frozen review

In a world that at times seems almost dominated by the culture of the Disney multinational media corporation, the fact that Frozen burst into cinemas in November 2013 to greet the reception it did makes its success wholly tangible. For those out of the loop Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen sees its revisionist take in the form of a feminist, all-singing all-dancing ice-athon. Disney has taken on Andersen's fairy tales before, in the form of The Little Mermaid and others, but the treatment this one received - Broadway singer Idina Menzel, sisters doing it for themselves Elsa and Anna, court jester snowman Olaf - is entirely postmodern and joyful. 
In my opinion entirely worthy of its fame as the 'best Disney film in a decade'. So, if you haven't jumped on the filmic bandwagon quite yet, take yo 2014 stress, 'Let It Go', and make this one of your winter 2014 films to watch.

Carpe Diem xx

To check out my Little Mermaid post, follow the link below:

Friday, 12 December 2014

Blogmas 12: Cashmere and Cushions Winter Warmers

First things first, getting formalities out of the way, welcome back! Welcome to my first post in about 2 whole months and the first of the Blogmas 2014 series. As it is officially 2 weeks until Christmas and I am in full-on Love-Actually-Christmas-countdown, Christmas carol singing mode (you have been warned!), here are my top DVD Winter Warmer picks: 

Gilmore Girls: "Love and War and Snow" (Series/Season 1: Episode 8) - 2000

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) - 2011

Frozen - 2013
Review to follow!

It's A Wonderful Life - 1946
Review also to follow suit!

So snuggle up, watch out for 2-3 posts a week in the upcoming months, and tweet me using hashtag WinterWarmers or comment with your new favourite, family favourite, or unusual winter film/show picks. 

Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Disney and the Happy Ending: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen


The loving husband. The doting wife. The disneyfication of romance and relationships is not lost on everyone. Ariel, like every other Disney princess since time time immemorial, *SPOILER ALERT* gets royally hitched after her 1 hour 18 minutes aquatic adventure. First wavers (and second) would turn in their graves. The Little Mermaid (1989) was the first film I ever saw in the cinema, aged about five. It is one of the few Disney films that I have not regularly rewatched throughout my life since, so when I watched it again recently I did so alongside the Hans Christian Andersen original (1837). Stark, unforgiving and sprinkled with magic, the tale ends - SHOCK HORROR - differently to the film. Ariel doesn't get her happy ending. A 15-year-old mermaid who travels with a talking tropical fish and Jamaican crab in search of human love and a human soul? I'd still recommend it. At any age.

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Review: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Cloud-men causing weather chaos with hailstones? A grasshopper that plays the violin? Set across the iconic metropolis backgrounds of London and New York, James and the Giant Peach tells the tale of James Henry Trotter and a ladybird, glow-worm, centipede and others, as they leave England to sail in a peach to America. 

My first exposure to this literary imaginarium was the 1996 film, which I was obsessed with and watched over and over again as a child. The book, first published in America in 1961, is justifiably more magnificent, with Quentin Blake's illustrations creating the classic we know today. 

The inclusion of several cultural landmarks, such as London Zoo, might be one of the many reasons why Dahl's treasure is included in The Telegraph's list of 15 best children's books. It would be a sin to slander this book in any way. So I won't. It's a gem.

Carpe Diem xx

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Review: The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum


I've just read a book that combines adventure and a royal love story and involves the characters Tok, Cap'n Bill, Princess Gloria, Pon. a mermaid and Button-Bright. First published in 1915, it is The Scarecrow of Oz, the ninth in the 13 novel sequels to the infinitely more famous The Wizard of Oz. Involving Dorothy, witch Glinda, and posing the scarecrow as the hero, this epic ramble through Oz introduces a host of new characters and has existentialist and humanistic leanings. Who doesn't love ambling through a land where popcorn falls like snow?

The true reason I picked this one up and none of the baker's dozen of others, is that it was on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list, which I have just picked up again. This book takes my total to 34 (out of 339!) and is a welcome break from serious novellas. Finally, in Ozma's conclusive words "no one can go far astray in the land of Oz, and if Button-Bright isn't occasionally lost, he isn't happy".

Carpe Diem xx

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Review: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

When I first saw this on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list my first thought was 'why haven't I read this?'. The short answer is probably that it's an American classic and not a British one. Fast-paced, imaginative and beautifully written, Charlotte's Web is a timeless American children's literature classic. Telling the story of main characters Wilbur and Charlotte, a pig and a spider respectively, who wouldn't want to follow where this one leads? The tale can be read on many levels and is education and entertainment in one. I read this in an afternoon and suggest you follow suit if you haven't already!

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Lazy Sunday: A Photo Vlog

Carpe Diem xx

Review: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

In the literary world there are some authors to whom you can turn for comfort. Some authors, some books are a pleasure to open. When you turn the first page of The Last Runaway, you get just that. The tale of the Underground Railroad in America in the mid-1800s is the warm bubble bath to the wet-fish-slapped-on-your-face shock of other tales. This story (the third Chevalier book I've read thus far) is that of Honor Bright. Using diary entries and various quilts we are guided through her adventure as she travels from England to another Quaker community  in America. She discovers oppression and racism and gets entangled in the Underground Railroad, which aims to move slaves from the south to the north across the Mason-Dixon line. Chevalier is a master of this style. Brilliant!

Chevalier has curated an exhibition on quilts, which is on at Danson House in Kent, England until 31st October 2014:

Carpe Diem xx

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Spring Favourites 2014

Beauty: I first tried La Roche-Posay a couple of years ago and have loved it ever since. Since it is quite pricey I haven't bought it regularly, but this month I treated myself to both the moisturiser (green to counteract redness) and the face wash. This French brand still doesn't disappoint!

Reads: This month I have been reading Neil MacGregor and absolutely adore his style. MacGregor is a historian who writes books based around historical objects. I'm currently reading Shakespeare's Restless World, which focuses on Shakespearean/Elizabethan London, and am looking forward to the epicly named A History of the World in 100 Objects.

Eats: In a vain attempt at eating a healthier, vegan-centered diet I have been trying different Nakd bars. They are compressed fruit/nut snack bars and are 100% vegan and additive free.

Entertainment: Who doesn't like a good 90's rom-com? Okay, so a fair few people, but I'm one to admit that I find them a great tonic to a difficult day. With a 90's soundtrack, 90's clothes, and an American high school romance based on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew (sticking with the Shakespearean theme here)starring HEATH LEDGER of course, 10 Things I Hate About You is on my Amazon wish list!

Carpe Diem xx

Monday, 14 April 2014

Review: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Whilst perhaps lacking the majesty and thrills of the blockbuster film of 2013, the cover of this first edition of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952) illustrates the charm and innocence that the books have to offer. According to Michael Ward's The Narnia Code, the fifth book in the Narnia series is the sun story, Lewis' exploration into the rising sun and dragons (saura). Dragons make several cameo appearances along the crew of the Dawn Treader's journey towards dawn, as they journey towards Aslan's land, beyond the end of the world. Seemingly lacking in a structure or purpose, the voyage is entirely magical and imaginative - I'm glad to finally get to rereading the series!  

Carpe Diem xx

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Review: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In contrast to the iconic Audrey Hepburn film, the 99-page gem of a book, on which it was based, is far more wide-reaching and all encompassing. In today's literary environment, where epic tomes such as the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Luminaries, are all celebrated for their length, it is refreshing to read Capote's 1958 Breakfast at Tiffany's and Three Short Stories. In less than one hundred pages the author manages to say all that needs to be said, leaving extraneous detail for the reader to conjure in their imagination. 

Similarly at odds with the glamour of the later film, the novella is set in sparse 1943 New York, not the sixties. The tale is a reminiscence on a brief encounter with Holiday Golightly, a glamorous but complex call girl. This fact, as well as her apparent mental illness - depression described as the 'mean reds' - is brushed over rather. For anyone wavering over whether to give it a chance, be brave! This one has a lot to give.

Carpe Diem xx

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Vintage Spring Style: Natalie Wood

Welcome back to blog! I've been going through my wardrobe, making a few purchases and getting inspiration for the spring/summer fashion season from vintage photos. Classic film stars of the 20th century are extremely useful when taking a elegant, vintage style and updating it with a 2014 twist. 

Born Natalia Zacharenko in 1938 San Francisco, the film star died an untimely death in 1981, at the age of 43. Her death is still shrouded in mystery - she was found drowned in deep water - and her star is largely outshone by the likes of Marilyn and Audrey, but her style is timeless. The 5'2 actress has a lot to give in terms of outfit inspiration, so whether its Natalie or other stars of the 40s, 50s, 60s, get out the vintage clobber and work it.

Happy Weekend!

Carpe Diem xx