Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Genny Diaries: Doodle (& Retriever) Fun)!

I had the best fun tonight at the puppy field and I wanted to tell you all about it. I love to meet all my canine companions in the evenings; there's so many of us that it gets a bit much sometimes and I just don't know who to chase! I had a great run around with my best, best friend in the world tonight. Her name is Gracie and she's also a doodle, though her pet Barry trims her hair right down - not like my shaggy mess. She is really curly too with a big duster-like tail that she likes to swish right in my nose. A lot of people say me and Gracie look like twins which I like, but she is a tiny bit older than me. Gracie is the sweetest friend you will ever meet. She's normally very calm and sensible and I would trust her with my life! I think I bring out the mad side in her though as tonight she went loopy and rolled in so much mud that Barry will have to throw her in the bath. Unlucky Gracie! Her golden coat had turned brown by the end of our play. The other doggy in the photos is Jasper, a golden retriever. Everyone admires Jasper for his sleek coat and maturity; he is very respected among us pups. He was also happy to run around and play today, though he kept jumping on and boxing with Gracie which made me think three can be a crowd sometimes! I'm sure he fancies her but Gracie's all about girl power. More of my best dog friends include Millie, a grey doodle- who's a year older than me and very kind but she likes to stay out of rough play, Monty, another doodle (we're so popular nowadays) who is absolutely mental, more nuts than me, and Luna, a poodle with the coolest hairdo going. I hope you've liked hearing about my friends! I'm exhausted tonight and have enjoyed sleeping on Dad's feet. Hang on, I definitely just heard the sound of the biscuit tin...gotta go...

Love, Gen

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Crushing on Diane Kruger: Elle Style Awards 2015

Photograph from Elle UK
I developed a major girl crush on Diane Kruger a few years ago, when I cyber stalked her whole Paris Fashion Week wardrobe (which was largely made up of Chanel beauties). Diane and Karl Lagerfeld's creations are a match made in heaven; she is an ambassador after all. Diane modelled another Chanel frock tonight for the Elle Style Awards, in this fairytale number from the Haute Couture Spring '15 line. I like how Diane's styled the dress, a lot more so than how it was worn on the runway- with weird, scuba look, high black boots and a gothic, black mesh veil. Of course, Lagerfeld always puts a Helena Bonham Carter esque spin on his catwalk aesthetics. I think Diane's soft natural appearance - her tousled blonde locks and very nude, not-there-but-there type makeup - blends perfectly with the hue of the dress. She looks like a doll here- in a good way! Her beauty look is flawless. I've already seen Heat magazine describe this couture dress as moth-eaten, but I think the bust part of the frock, with the beautiful subtle drop hem, separates the lace and stops it from becoming too much. The hanging metallic belt is a little kooky but it draws the eye and allowed Diane to maximise on the gorgeous silver accessories. All I've got to add is that it's a shame about the mystery white speck by one of her court shoes! I really hope that's not chewing gum...

Love, Izzy

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Retro Reading Room by Oliver Bonas

Le Cocktail Chair £425 // Geo Brights Yellow Frame £12 // Alphabet Mug £10 // Newgate Pantry Clock £30 //Decorative Storage Suitcase Neon Pink £30 // Old Bag Tea Bag Tidy £6 // Deliciously Ella Book £20 // Curve Vase £22

Today I fancied a bit of virtual shopping and interior design uisng Oliver Bonas' classy spring offerings. Oliver Bonas has a very set style; it's pretty modern, and funky, with that touch of mad sixties glamour. I prefer old furnishings generally and painted-up, vintage auction furniture will no doubt fill my house when I get one (!), but I can't deny the magnetic pull a clean, fresh spin creates sometimes. I picked these bits out thinking they would fill a super cute corner in a house, or literally create a reading room, if you have a large cupboard sized room you want to make the most of. I've always loved the idea of a reading room in a home. When I was growing up, I dreamed of being Belle in Beauty and the Beast, when she's got the privilege of sliding on a ladder around that stunning castle library.
I adore the print of this chair- it reminds me of the 90's style in the film Clueless (glam kitch) and it looks so comfy. You would only need a little space for these pieces- add a coffee table or side stool next to the armchair to seat your essential cup of tea (how sweet/funny is this teabag tidy?!) and this simple glass vase and quirky frame. The suitcase could tuck under the chair to house your reading material, and the clock would adorn any spare wall space! I've included this hardback by blogger and rare illness sufferer Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella. I've heard amazing things about this girl and from delving into her blog posts, I've clocked an array of wonderful recipes based around her whole foods, plant based, chemical and additive free diet. Her sweet potato brownies in particular are a huge Instagram hit and as a lover of sweet potatoes, I'm dying to make my own soon! The book looks such a treat for the eyes and the tastebuds, if you get your cooking act on! //

Friday, 20 February 2015

Our Stay at Swan House, Hastings: Photo Diary

On Thursday, Matt and I drove down to Hastings along a beautiful scenic route, to stay at Swan House, a boutique B&B right in the Old Town. Our two days were spent browsing the numerous antique and independent shops, hiking to the famous Hastings Castle in pouring rain and fog and sampling lots of delicious food and drink! Despite the weather, we had a lovely time. I just really appreciate this sort of quality time we get to spend together. The B&B gave us real luxury, from its plush bathroom complete with shell-decorated bath, its inviting sitting room with roaring fire and complimentary raspberry ruffle chocolates, and our ultra posh two course breakfast on our final morning. The views over Hastings once you're up the cliffs are incredible. The Old Town is the epitome of quirky cool; with endless boho-chic cafes and bars lit up like fairy grottos. We even squeezed in a bit of fun and childishness at the arcade. Highlights were stumbling across an Aladdin's cave with never-ending floors of vintage goodies, the Hanushka Coffee House (a library and white hot chocolate supplier) and spotting this adorable dog in a truck outside the fish and chip shop we ate in!

Our B&B:

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Lemon Curd Cake & Lots of Thrifting!

 Today my friend Rea and I took a relaxing trip to the seaside town of Deal- if you're ever in east Kent, then take a day trip there. It has a gorgeous beach with a pier, a seafront ice-cream parlour and numerous shabby chic, independent shops. If you do venture over for an evening, there are two chic and very up-and-coming cocktail bars and a range of more homely pubs that do amazing pub grub! As Rea and I both adore thifting, we ventured into every one of the eight charity shops on the high street to hunt for vintage gems. We found a huge Oxfam bookshop which was decorated really lovely inside and we spent a chunk of time admiring their extensive collection of antiquarian books. There were some gorgeous traditional covers- I always think old books like these can bring so much character into a house. Luckily my Mum agrees and our house is full of them! I picked up this classic edition of The Great Gatsby, one of my all-time favourites, and I wish I'd bought it now, though I was sensibly thinking about my three copies at home!

Browsing the shop really got us peckish, so we headed to a quirky little tearoom called Harriet's. It is like a timewarp in there, in a charming way; with retro lampshades, figurines and enviable sets of patterned china. We drank our milkshake and rose lemonade and devoured our incredibly light and tasty slices of lemon curd cake as we listened to the gentle, jazzy tunes of Billie Holiday (we guessed). A highlight of the afternoon was meeting this gorgeous doggy named Delilah. I had to ask the owner what breed she was as she looked so like Gen I was convinced she was a labradoodle, but nope- an Old English Sheepdog! Her colouring was so unusual! She was so friendly and pleased to meet us; such a well-trained dog too as her owner runs an interiors shop and Delilah just sits in the doorway saying hi to everyone but without disappearing! Except, her owner told us, for when she sneaks next door into a cafe for biscuits!

Back to shopping...we popped into a fresh fruit and vegetable shop during the afternoon which really ignited an obsession for me with organic products! I feel like I just want to go on a health kick now (I'll still allow myself treats as I want to carry on baking on Sundays!) I bought half a cucumber, a lime and a packet of mint leaves to add to the apples we have at home and blend a green juice! I'm using Fleur De Force's 'mojito' recipe from her book The Glam Guide. I will post how it went after I've made it! As always, thanks for reading!

Love, Izzy

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Sunday Stories: Our Valentines

Matt and I had a really relaxed Valentines (our eighth!) We woke up at mine and made a scrummy cooked breakfast of bacon, scrambled egg, grilled tomatoes and toast together. We swapped presents: Matt gave me this beautiful bumblebee necklace by Estella Bartlett which I wore yesterday evening for dinner. It's so small, subtle and dainty. The only thing with these sorts of necklaces is that I panic I'm going to snap their delicate chains! Matt also presented me with a bunch of red roses and three lots of delicious looking chocolate, as he knows that's the easy way to my heart. I got a set of chocolate Love Bugs from M&S which are so cute, and then two slabs of Chokablok in the flavours Excreme Brulee and Eton Mess. I bought Matt a thin, cobalt blue scarf (as he moans about standard scarfs but I feel he needs one for our dog walks!), an adorable pocket notebook from Paperchase that says 'Love You to the Moon and Back' and something else which annoyingly hasn't arrived yet! I also made Matt some marbled chocolate hearts by melting down two bars of milk and white chocolate and resetting them into heart moulds. I then decorated them with edible gold stars and silver balls! They came out really thick and tasty so I was quite pleased with them for a quick homemade job!

After our breakfast, we joined Mum and Dad to walk Gen a couple of miles around our village. She got absolutely filthy which was no surprise! Mum and Dad wanted to pop shopping for someone's birthday... (it's my 22nd tomorrow!!) so Matt and I spent the afternoon babysitting Gen, which is basically a practise for when we have little ones! She's so whiny and attention seeking when Mum and Dad go out! We all settled down on the sofa to continue watching Twin Peaks: an American, supernatural drama that's our ultimate favourite. I even had a short nap; I was just so chilled and comfortable! Matt made me a wonderful three course dinner at his for the evening; he did the fantastic M&S deal as it's such great value for money, but it took a lot of work for him to cook! He wrote me out a tiny menu which was really thoughtful of him! He also decorated the table perfectly, with candles, confetti, romantic themed napkins and mini floral bunches. As you can see, we started with antipasti (cold Italian meats and olives) and moved onto massive steaks, sweet potato cubes and mediterranean veggies. The cava was delicious too and didn't taste too alcoholic, so I ended up feeling a bit squiffy! We ended our night with hot belgian chocolate souffles and by watching one of our favourite comedies, Horrible Bosses. I hope you all had a lovely Valentines, whether you spent it with loved ones, friends or pampering yourselves!

Love, Izzy

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Charm of Independent Cinema: Testament of Youth

Top: Actress Alicia Vikander with Shirley Williams, Brittain's daughter (Telegraph). Other photos Harpers Bazaar.
Last Wednesday I saw Testament of Youth with my Mum and sister at an independent cinema named the Empire in local Sandwich (a town I always mention!) Sandwich is special to me as my grandparents have lived there all their lives, I went to school there and I now work there! The cinema dates back to 1937 and has kept its original atmosphere, with its dated (but plush in those days) red velvet chairs, the teapot brewing in the interval and the lovely, vintage cardboard ticket slips. Back in the 40's the cinema would seat 600, with balcony rows; now it is a standard tiered auditorium that can squeeze in 130 people. My Mum clearly remembers going to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs here, on its re-release in the 70's.
For me, the thought of seeing this sort of film at a multiplex felt a bit wrong; the Empire aptly set the scene with its intimacy. Normally, watching a film here feels like you're on your sofa in the comfort of your own home, but unfortunately the ambience was slightly spoiled. We just so happened to sit next to a man- who seemed perfectly friendly and pleasant- but who had an ever-lasting bag of popcorn. He was rustling and crunching for two hours out of the two and a quarter film running time! It was so frustrating that every time the film would come to a particularly moving scene, in would go the hand, and then came the excruciating crackling sound. It feels so trivial to be moaning about popcorn noises when you've watched a film on one of the most horrible things imaginable, but that was what made me angry in the first place. It felt like this man was lacking in respect while watching such a serious, emotive depiction of real life.
Anyway- I think this guy's got more attention than deserved! The actual film was a wonder;
a harrowing account of a woman's standpoint on World War I, as her loved ones are sent to fight. I say sent but what was striking about the depiction of these men, was that they were quite desperate to go. They clearly did not know the fate which awaited them. A poignant line from Vera's brother showed this: "It will all be over in a month or so". If you aren't aware, Testament of Youth is based on the memoirs of WWI survivor, writer and pacifist Vera Brittain. Vera famously postponed her studies at Oxford University to serve as a voluntary aid detachment nurse in London, Malta and France; this other-worldly experience of humanity urged her to put her tales onto paper for the world to read, and in a bid to discourage war from happening again. Sadly it obviously did. I couldn't help thinking how relevant the closing speech of the film remains, where Vera states that Britain and their enemy are the same, that they're human, that they feel exactly the same, and that repeated revenge is wrecking the lives of millions.
James Kent managed to heighten the emotion in this film to an intense level, yet it's been done in such a natural, reverent way that I didn't shed too many tears, as I was expecting to. It's a film that absorbs you, demanding you to form opinions and soak up history, rather than blub for the tragic romance element. The deaths of even Vera's close ones aren't lingered on, almost as if to show that this was the norm; that this was every family's suffering. There is absolutely no violence shown; instead we are drawn into the blood bath battlegrounds where nurses fought to save British and German soldiers, some with much more feeling than others. In contrast, other parts of the film are filmed in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and Derbyshire countryside, to symbolise Vera's ideal of world peace.
Alicia Vikander is a talented and determined actress, mirroring the sole determination of the woman she portrays. At the start of the film, she comes across as a little spoilt (she is from a wealthy family); this soon translates into hypersensitiveness and a strong sense of independence. She reminds me an awful lot of Felicity Jones, in terms of dedication to her part and her overall grace. Alicia's costumes kept my eye throughout the early stages of the film. In places I felt they looked almost too modern, but I suppose her family clearly had money, and who knows how fancy the options may have been for the richer back then. I especially loved a tassel detailed, embroidered jumper (pictured at the top), as well as her many dainty yet statement hats; Brittain was partial to these in real life. The costume department apparently scoured vintage caverns to collect up the pieces they believed Vera would have worn. The stylisation did detract from the meaning of the film in places, though the idea of the rich still being consumed by the war is a powerful one; emphasising the loss of control for the whole of society.
I would definitely recommend you go to see this film while it's on. Seeing this has made me put Testament of Youth on my reading list (I only knew the story through word of mouth and the media before) and it's made me want to look into teaching the war texts at A-Level English as an area of interest for my PGCE.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sunday Stories: Pt.6 (Mini Victoria Sponges & A Fond Farewell!)

These last few days have been pretty chilled: exactly what I wanted as recently I've been shattered, plus I'm on antibiotics. Saying that, as I list all I've been up to, it still sounds like a lot! Matt wasn't around much this weekend (he's gone to watch a live football game!) so we took the time to pop for a hot drink after school on Thursday. I am loving Sandwich more and more; it seems to be gaining a lot more independent eateries and shops, like this French based one named Smoke On The Water, which me and my Mum have loved for a while.

It was also my little sis's final weekend before she goes off to sail the Caribbean sea for six months on a Disney ship! She's training to become a cruise liner deck officer which is amazing in itself, but what's also exciting is that when she's qualified we as her family will get free entry to the Disney parks! Hurray for still loving Disney at (almost) 22! As a little farewell, Immy and I treated our parents to a Wagamama lunch on Saturday - my Dad was seriously impressed and ate everyone's left overs! Since his recovery he literally hasn't stopped eating. My fail-safe option at Wagas is the Katsu curry but I fancied a small change on Saturday. I had my usual sticky rice but with sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash breadcrumbed parcels rather than having chicken. They were so yummy- I am definitely considering slowly removing meat from my diet. After our lunch we did a bit of shopping in the cathedral city of Canterbury. I introduced Immy to Lush and she was pretty fascinated though moaned that it made her hungry as everything looks like chocolate or macaroons! I picked up a 'The Kiss' Lip scrub for one of my bestie's birthday (I'm sure she won't read this!) It smells gorgeous and I used the tester to see how it is on and it tasted like little sugar crystals. I'm actually really jealous as I want one for me but I think I'll wait and see if I get any birthday money so I don't feel guilty spending! 

I bought several new hair products to give my hair a real pamper tonight- another special edition Alberto Balsam conditioner (pink grapefruit, yum), a lemon and honey blonde enhancing shampoo, a Madagascan oil hair repair mask and an Argan oil heat repair spray. I can't wait to have a bubble bath and slather the mask on while I read my latest book- Paper Towns by John Green! Today has been spent tidying my room and just generally chilling. My Dad popped into the loft and found two huge Polly Pockets that me and Immy used to adore playing with. That was fun seeing how they worked again and reminicising. On a more boring note, I'm having to do Maths revision constantly at the moment for my professional skills test. I have to pass this to get onto my English teaching course which I find a bit frustrating as I've never been too good at Maths... Obviously I'm a reading and writing girl, hence my degree! I've got two more weeks to practise and fingers crossed I'll be okay. 
A highlight of this weekend was making these delicious miniature Victoria sponge cakes- I was proud as they turned out to be one of my best bakes so far. I topped them with these adorable sugar papers Mum bought for Immy that say 'Bon Voyage' and aptly have boats on! This recipe is really simple: I went for the classic 4oz of everything (flour, unsalted butter and caster sugar) and one egg combination to make the sponges. At first I thought they'd be too tiny to fit the raspberry jam and cream in but they turned out perfect, if very sickly! I nibbled on one of these by the fireside, complete with a kitty on my lap as we watched The Labyrinth. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend- it's an eighties fantasy film starring David Bowie (weird crush alert) and Jennifer Connelly. It's super quirky but in a fascinating way and I guarantee you'll find the soundtrack really catchy.  

How did you spend your weekend? xox