30 December 2012

Haul | 'rush-shopping' // unashamedly addicted to topshop

The other day I was feeling a bit blue. It was nearly Christmas, I was hormonal and was determined to be pathetic about life. And when I'm sad, I shop.

I had an hour and a half before I was due to meet some friends so I hopped on a bus to my nearest decent-sized Topshop and I rush-shopped.

Now, I like to think I'm a good person to shop with. When it comes to friends trying on clothes I would say I'm patient and encouraging and happy to go where they want and wait while they try. I advise, I compliment, I go and I fetch all manner of different sizes and colours without a moan in sight. When it comes to me shopping, however, I'm a machine, and I don't want anything stopping me. I rush-shop.

I was in, I was out. I spent £140. Need I say more?

I think the theme of the shop was 'wear with spanx'...

I'm hoping when I get around to trying these on again I'll have changed my mind and take at least two back...I could definitely do with a fair chunk of that money back, that's for sure.

I also got these snazzy little booties:

I bought my first pair of heeled boots a month or so ago and they are HIGH. So high I can barely walk in them and nearly fell over 3 times wearing them last week before I changed into my fabulously flat Chelsea boots and hurried on on my way, trip-free. These are a farrrr more sensible height. A very comfortable height actually. I wore them out for the first time that night and they were super comfortable and super easy to walk in. I paired them with black Topshop Leigh jeans and a cream strappy Topshop top - I think Sir Philip Green himself should write and thank me for keeping that store afloat. Anyway, at £45 and leather they are a seriously fabulous bargain, in Topshop terms at least.

I'm sure I'll be in a Topshop again soon now I'm flush with Christmas money and, in fact, a Topshop voucher. Mmmmmmm Topshop. But, until then, any advice on how to style those dresses would be most welcome. And anyone know where I can buy some spanx?..!

29 December 2012

Recipe | t'is the season to (stuff yourself and) be merry!

I've never been a great cook, cooking's not one of my things. I don't whiz things up and make it look easy as cake. I can, however, whip up cake, if I've got a half-decent recipe and a half-decent frame of mind.

I had decided that this Christmas I was going to make a Yule log and, considering mama Siddalee is vegan (and that I have avoided spending any money whilst being at home this Christmas), I made a vegan log. Generally, the recipe uses ingredients most non-dairy households would have in their kitchen cupboards/fridge and it makes a super-yummy chocolate cake relatively quickly and easily.

Siddalee's Chocolate Yule Log

(/Buche de Noel de Siddalee if we're being French about it)

What you'll need:
200 g / 7 oz self raising flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
30 g / 1 oz drinking chocolate powder
75 g / 3 oz soft brown sugar
225 ml / 8 fl oz water
85 ml / 3 fl oz sunflower oil
25 g / 1 oz chocolate drops

150 g / 6 oz vegan margarine
350 g / 12 oz icing sugar
60 g / 2 oz drinking chocolate powder


1. Preheat oven to gas mark 4 / 175C / 350F
2. Sieve all of the dry ingredients for the cake in a bowl and stir
3. Measure water in jug, add oil and stir (looks so pretty! lava lamp time!)
4. Add liquid to dry ingredients a bit at a time, stirring thoroughly and 
making sure the liquid is fulling mixed in before adding more


5. Add chocolate drops and beat the mixture
6. Pour mixture into a shallow tray lined with non-stick baking paper
7. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes/until cooked!

8. Tip cake onto baking paper, cut a shallow line 1.5 inches in 
and roll tightly, using baking paper. Leave to cool
9. Put margarine in a bowl and beat until fluffy
10. Mix icing sugar and chocolate powder together and mix into
margarine until even and smooth
11. Unroll log and ice all over before rolling up tightly without
baking paper
12. Ice the outside of the log, smoothing all over before running 
knife along lightly to make uneven ridges
13. Sprinkle icing powder for snow!

Now, seeing as this recipe is for a plain ol' round chocolate cake, I had some issues. Namely that it broke into 5 identical pieces when I rolled it. In the end I went for a layered effect...I managed to smush some of the broken bits to get 3 layers of cake which I iced before icing the top. Also after an hour or so the icing powder soaked up some of the icing moisture and went a bit hard and brown which actually added to the log effect, but don't sprinkle until just before serving if you don't want this! Overall it was delish, super yummy and chocolate-y and absolutely smothered in chocolate icing, just how I like things.

I've used this recipe before for a chocolate sandwich cake, just split into two greased cake tins and use icing for middle and outside. Cook for about 20 mins. If you're doing just one big lump o' cake, as the recipe suggests, cook for about 40 mins. I've doubled the amount of icing because the original recipe didn't give enough either time! Hope you make and enjoy!

It's Chriiiiiiistmaaaaaas!

Well, it was. And it was full of such festive joy! Thought I'd share a few snapshots!

Mama S made this little feast for Christmas breakfast before laying the table with all kinds of festive decorations. It was the first time we had Christmas just the two of us, without the crazy nans and extremely loud aunts and uncles and she worked so hard to still make it super Christmassy! She bought a snazzy little vegan box of goodies which had meat-free alternatives to pigs in blankets, turkey, gammon and even had some delicious balls of stuffing, my fave!! There was even roasted parsnips and mashed swede, it was SO GOOD.

As Mama S had to work Boxing Day I arranged to see my nan for lunch before meeting up with the rest of the clan. I wore my new Jack Wills winter leggings in the morning - ridiculously expensive but also ridiculously comfortable - and got stuck into making a yummy Yule Log. Recipe to follow!

Boxing Day also happens to be my aunt's birthday and it's often a bit more festive than the actual day in my family. Christmas is my one excuse for dressing nicely and getting all my special things out for an outing!

OOTD: Gold short-sleeved top and black Leigh jeans, (both Topshop), black Chelsea boots (Office) & Chanel necklace

Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer (no.2)
YSL Touche Eclat (1.5)
Elizabeth Arden Intervene foundation (no.03 Soft Sunbeige)
Rimmel Glameyes Day 2 Night Mascara (001 Black)
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl (001 Black)
Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil (004 Black Brown)
MAC Pro Longwear Blush (Stay By Me)
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish (Soft and Gentle)
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural (Medium Dark)
MAC Lipstick (Amorous)

I had lunch (and games!!) at my nans before we went over to my aunts. For more games, natch. We're a pretty competitive family. Things can get preeeeetty tense.

There were even quizzes on our napkins... Seriously intense stuff.

I've also never had meatballs with anything but a tomato sauce...I don't know what this was but it was lemony and garlicy and utterly delicious. My aunt is such a culinary genius!

I've spent the last few days going to see my first ever ballet (amazing!!!) and catching up with friends which has all been lovely. I think this is the first Christmas I've really made the most of my free time and seen lots of people and gone to lots of lovely places. Working full-time really does make you appreciate a week off!

28 November 2012

Review | A Chickpea Extravangaza @ hummus bros

There is a place in Soho I have only ever dreamt of, a place where like-minded people meet, a place where my fellow men and women go to worship the one thing I truly believe in in this world-

The Chickpea.

Nah, I'm kidding. The chickpea is nothing on its own. NOTHING. What I'm talking about is the greatest thing known to man, so perfect in all its cream-y dip-iness, so wonderous in all its guises. I'm talking, of course, about hummous.

Cue Angelic music.

Those who know me know one thing for certain. I am obsessed with hummous.

We're not talking 'love the stuff and get a bit giddy when its part of the buffet at parties' obsession.

Oh no.

This runs deeper than that.

I've had hummous for lunch pretty much every day for the last 3 months.

Let me give you some time to digest that.

Anyway, the point is I freaking love hummous. I'm just trying to set the scene here guys.

hummus bros is a restaurant dedicated to, you guessed it, hummous. Located in the heart of Soho, it is a veritable mecca for lovers of this wonderous chickpea-dish in all its homemade glory. Having only really eaten supermarket hummous up until fairly recently (although, admittedly, a rather obscene amount of it), it took some time to get used to the more traditional Eastern-style hummous I first tried at Comptoir Libanais. Much thicker than our Western variant, this hummous is slightly smokier in flavour and can be a bit of shock to those expecting the light, almost mousse-like dip they are accustomed to.

(left: classic Western hummous with fancy star formation presention, right: more traditional hummous typically DRENCHED IN OIL MMMM)

hummus bros make a thick hummous, mild in flavour, which they use as a base for all manner of snazzy toppings. They mix chickpeas, lemon juice and tahini without garlic, so no need to worry if you're rushing to that meeting (or hot date) after lunch.

Hummous at hummus bros is no mere dip. It forms a base to which they add your topping, from guacamole to chunky beef to, wait for it, MORE CHICKPEAS! WHEYYY! The dishes come in small or regular sizes and, in my usual gluttonous manner, I went for regular. Big mistake. Even the website suggests a small. What is wrong with me?! Anyway, talk of my greedy tendencies aside, I went for a regular-size falafel salad (falafels, fresh tomato-coriander salsa, tzatziki and shredded cabbage) on hummous which was one of the daily specials. OH. MY. GOOD. LORD.


The falafels were STUNNING. Can falafels be stunning? Who cares. The were sooo yummy. I never reaaaally think paprika adds much to hummous but everything else was so perfectly delicious. And the pitta bread. Oh my God, the pitta bread! No flat, lifeless breads here. The regular came with 2 pittas (what is WRONG with me?!) and they were absolutely amazing, all warm and fluffy and fabulous. I managed one and a half before admitting defeat, leaving an upsetting amount of hummous too. These portions are huge.

The menu is to die for; goodie after goodie, all healthy and tasty and fabulous. I can't wait to go back and try the smoky barbequed aubergine and the tabouleh sides and the drinks look seriously lush. hummus bros do everything to eat-in or take-away, even selling the toppings by the tub, so you really can eat what you want exactly as you want it! 

I sat in the window next to this little bundle of joy. So cute! How many chickpeas do you think there are?

The website has the story behind hummus bros and you can even find out what your hummous-habits say about you! I'm a diplomat, obviously. As well as Wardour Street, hummus bros now have branches in Holborn and St Paul's.

So, what are you waiting for?!

Notice I stuck with my spelling of hummous throughout. It's called integrity, OK?!

22 November 2012

Heartfelt Apology

I know, I know, what a wasteman.


The last month has been pretty manic and, I'm sorry to say, siddalee took the brunt of this.

But I will be back with a vengeance soon!

In the meantime, enjoy this-

Carolee Schneemann Interior Scroll, 1975

11 October 2012

participation // a journey to higher intellect

(i hope)

Since moving house my journey to and from work has become delightfully shorter yet frustratingly bit-y; I often find myself missing the 40 minute train journey I used to make twice a day that saw me race through books like wildfire. In my continuous (and generally so far unsuccessful) attempts to become more cultured, intelligent and generally fabulous, I've decided to 1) ensure I make the time on a regular basis to read (TOWIE can wait) and 2) work my way through some books that will actually open my mind and get my little grey cells working again.

I'm a great fan of contemporary art; I guess, if I had a 'specialist area' it would be art since-1950. Many people find contemporary art to be difficult to understand and engage with - I like it because I think it aims for exactly the opposite. I picked this little beaut up at the weekend on a bit of a whim. Part of the Whitechapel Gallery's Documents of Contemporary Art series it 'explores the desire to move viewers out of the role of passive observers and into the role of producers'. Editor Claire Bishop brings together writings from critics, curators and artists around the concept of participation within contemporary art and whilst some of the names (Barthes, Eco, Bourriaud) may incite the age-old I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND IT-fear, the 195 page-count does something to calm the fear whimpering inside me.

I actually managed to read the introduction by Bishop herself all in one go on the train the other day. Already, after just a couple of pages, I could feel the cogs moving, the rust crumbling and my brain building stamina as it moved from crawling to jogging back into gear.

Having now made a significant dent in the first of the readings, I am beginning to comprehend the complex nuances between the terms 'open' and 'closed' work, and the variant levels of participation an author can encourage. Whilst Sol LeWitt left detailed instructions for recreating his line works so that, despite who recreated them, they would always be identical to his original piece, Damien Hirst tells those creating 'his' spot paintings that the spots must be of equal size and distance with no discernible pattern - but leaves exact colour and sequence (or, rather, lack of one) up to them. With Hirst we see aspects of collaboration, a form of participation. Some artists take this concept further, and begin to create co-producers out of spectators to their work. Anything involving this element of creativity and input on from a person (or people) separate from the artist opens up the possibility for numerous different outcomes. How could you not love work that is unpredictable, fleeting and ever-changing?

It's nothing groundbreaking, but I'm enjoying it. I'll keep you updated. Plus, how cute is the series?!-

On 'participation': 'this apparatus is better, the more consumers it is able to turn into producers - that is, the more readers or spectators into collaborators' - Walter Benjamin

09 October 2012

veggie haven // a not-at-all-unbiased review of tibits

tibits is absolute veggie heaven. It's like a pick'n'mix for vegetarians and vegans alike where you have a world of pulses, tofu and vegetables at your fingertips. I'm not even going to pretend like I'm looking at my recent trip to tibits in a critical light. I'm not. I'm writing about it as an out-and-out advocate, a shout-from-the-rooftops fan.

I've been vegetarian since I was 10 and 4 years ago my mum became vegan. When I'm at home I pretty much eat a vegan diet. Except for that time last Easter when I bought a family-size bar of green and blacks and decimated in in 5 minutes. And did the same thing the next two days running. But we don't talk about that. I also pretty much never have dairy, eggs or honey at my own place either so it's only really when I'm out that I'm unable to resist the temptation of cheese in all it's cheesey splendor.

Sunday I met a friend for some dinner. She's just got back from travelling and, since her return, is trying out being vegan. Obviously I suggested tibits. Any excuse really.

Sometimes I go and eat whatever I want, sometimes I go and only eat the vegan offerings. This time, I went vegan. And boy did I go all out. Situated in the Food Quarter on Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, tibits is a little sanctuary amongst the hustle and bustle of central London. The food is set out like a buffet; you take a plate, pile it with what you want and take it to the counter to pay. You pay for how much it weighs, so if you're feeling a light lunch, you only pay for a light lunch. Pretty sweet.

The falafel is SO GOOD. I'm fairly certain it's what chickpeas aim for in life. In an attempt to be vaguely professional, I'm not going to lie, the quinoa salad let me down. Coriander is one of the worst ingredients known to man and ranks right up there with fennel - the of-the-moment but oh-so-grim herb-y devil - on my list of Things I Want to Banish to the Fiery Pits of Hell. Basically, it had coriander in it. Vom.

We both had a freshly-made juice, a good chin-wag, and a delicious meal. I honestly think if you're fairly open to eating (or at least trying) beans and pulses tibits is a place for everyone. Every time I go I leave with a happy tummy, a happy heart and a happy head because hey, sometimes it just feels nice knowing you had a completely cruelty-free meal.

Essentially, it's freaking awesome. Go. Eat. Enjoy.

08 October 2012

testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

I like art, fashion, make-up and food. This blog is about to prove that.

It's going to take me a (long) while to get this all up and running; in the mean time, enjoy this-