Friday, July 30, 2010
T2 Melbourne Breakfast Tea
I love the hint of Vanilla that comes with this tea. It's soothing and calming. I think next time I might try Madagascan Vanilla but I have a funny feeling I might just come back to Melbourne Breakfast time and time again...I am currently using it loose but have just bought the teabags for our upcoming trip.
They are undoubtedly the new cupcake. So many different combinations and flavours. Zumbo, the king of Macarons, is currently doing a Mont Blanc macaron (chestnut) flavour which is insanely good. Usually I am a massive fan of salted caramel and passionfruit/chocolate but really, I will try any flavour.
I love the mix of covetable and desirable items and the ability to look at other people's houses (it's the voyeur in me). I tend to find more I want to buy (or copy) in Belle than any other magazine.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I also like the fact that shopping overseas means that not everyone else will be wearing the same outfit as you. Buying things from overseas means you are more likely to have a more unique clothes. I always get more comments of the items I buy overseas than my Australian clothes.
While I am in the UK I'd like to get a few items... Just a few small pieces. Okay, quite a few. You know me! There are no secrets between friends. But as a starting point, these are on the shortlist:
A Mulberry bag - I'd like the leopard print one but I think Mr Kitty might balk at the price. I know I did. I'll probably end up with a more subtle black leather bag. It's a more practical everyday option.
Tilia Boots from Duo. I love the equestrian feel to them and the fact that they are quite long in the leg. I want proper knee high boots and these one tick all my boxes. Just a matter of trying them on Cinderella!
A Boden Chelsea Dress. Boden have a great reputation for really well made colourful clothing and I love this Japanese inspired Chrysanthemum print dress. It's so very pretty. In fact, throw on a pair of opaques and a lavender pashmina and I think these three items would make a fantastic winter outfit together!
I also have a penchant for maxi dresses and this casual lovely caught my eye. From Dorothy Perkins at an absolutely fabulous 19 pounds. That's less than $33. Sensational.
No doubt I'll manage to find a lot more items to put on my list over the next 5 weeks but I think this is a fairly good start.
PS: Day 22 of the shopping ban and still going strong! Although I do have a number of things on my list I'll be rushing out to buy when it's over...
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I know it's hard to believe but I haven't found the spending ban to be too hard because I have been making lists of homewares I like... Saving pictures, links, looking for inspiration...
I thought I might share with you some of the fantastic things I have seen over the past week. Unfortunately most of the are from overseas websites or because of the style of our abode not many of them are likely to make it in to the final cut. It doesn't mean a girl can't dream...
How fabulous and homely is an old fashioned Aga? And now you don't have to have a wood burner powering the stove anymore, which would be terribly impractical in the Sydney weather (apart from today when it would be very welcome - it's so drizzly and rainy out there). They now come in a range of different colours and combinations - including electric ovens and gas or induction cooktops.
I wouldn't mind a lavender one but I think I'm going to have a hard time convincing Mr Kitty of the merits. And that it will work in our modern house...
And this fabulous arrangement... Well I'm not sure what else I could say! It's simply fantastic!
Mr Kitty and I are going to have lots of storage in our house. You can never have too many cupboards and drawers. Really. I love this Mark Tuckey Storage unit and I'm thinking about getting one for either side of the fireplace. I love the wood, the oddly shaped boxes... It's just so interesting.
A leopard chaise longue
In our bedroom I want to have a fabulous piece of lounging furniture. Something comfortable I can read on but also something that looks great. What better than this faux leopard lounge? Its so gorgeous yet practical. It looks comfy... Pity it's at Neiman Marcus and they won't ship to Australia :(
A gorgeous oversized floor mirror
I adore the look of huge mirrors that stand on the floor leaning against a wall. Divine. It's such a chic look. I think it makes it look less functional and more artistic. After living with a ridiculously small mirror for the last five years or so, I am so excited about the prospect of a really large mirror in our house. Here are a few favourites from a great website that a friend of mine recommended to me:
I adore the Rococo look of this mirror and I think in a minimalist house this splash of history would work really well.
I think this plainer style mirror will work better in our modern house though. I like the beaded edge - it gives the look a little lift.
And for when you renovate the castle, this is an absolute must! How fantastic. I can just see it in a chateau in France... Bliss!
Oh well - back to more practical things like trying to get the bathroom sorted out!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
It got me thinking about what my list would be. Clearly not everyone wants a diamond encrusted toilet seat, a pink Aston Martin DB9 or a Judith Leiber clutch in the shape of your favorite animal perhaps (although a girl can dream), but I think everyone has a list of luxury items that they think are the bomb. That they can't wait to own in their lifetime. Luxury means different things to different people of course but to me it represents high quality. Luxury is a state of mind. It is about how you carry yourself and your desires. It's about coveting items that can't be accessed every day.
Here's Miss Kitty's list, well a shortened version of it. I've tried to keep it brief or else we'd be here all day... And without replicating their list quite extensively I'm not sure I could come up with 50 items... You'll also notice I haven't included any shoes on the list - that's because I already buy a lot of them so I don't really see them as unattainable as such...
A Canturi Metropolis ring:
I first saw this ring a few years ago. It's divine. I love it's deco inspiration but modern aesthetic. It's funny but every time I look at other rings I always think how I don't love them nearly as much as this ring. I adore the diamond encrusted split band, the black sapphire baguettes, the offset centre stone. Santa, if you are reading, I'd like this ring with a black Australian Sapphire as the centre stone. Gorgeous.
A Kailis Versatility strand:
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a massive fan of pearls and the Kailis Versatility strand is the ultimate. The creme de la creme. It's a long rope of pearls that can be transformed into a collier, choker, an opera length strand and two bracelets. which you can combine in a range of different ways. Every strand is completely unique. The price is, well, extremely prohibitive, but it's on my list because it's so damn beautiful. I promise I'd wear it every day.
A Black 30cm Hermes Birkin made from Togo leather:
It's my ultimate bag. A classic style that will never date. Need I say more? I think I'll need the three year waiting period to save the $8,000 to buy one though... In the interim, I might have to get myself a Mulberry Bayswater bag instead... Similar shape but a lot less price prohibitive.
An Adolf Loos Clock:
Adolf Loos was an Austrian architect. He was extremely influential in European Modern architecture and he was most active in the early 20th century. He not only designed houses and great buildings but also clocks and other decorative arts. I fist saw his work at the Neue Gallerie in New York earlier this year and fell instantly in love with his mantle clocks. Divine. The only problem is that they are now collectors items, selling for $100,000+ at auction. I might have to find myself a replica instead...
There is nothing more luxurious than sleeping on 1000 threadcount linen and Frette is one of the best names when it comes to linen. It's a pricey luxury though, with sets of linen selling for upwards of $1000 for a basic king sized set including fitted and flat sheets, pillow cases and a duvet cover. How divine!
So what are your luxuries? What is on your list of things to buy?
Monday, July 26, 2010
Continuing the theme at hand on beauty... Not that I plan to make a habit of this but the opportunity was too good to pass up.
The Sydney Morning Herald today had an article on female beauty and the divine Christina Hendricks. She's been held up as a fabulous role model for girls by British Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone.
The thing that I find most interesting about this is that she doesn't particularly think she's fat or thin. She's happy with who she is and refuses to conform with anyone else's ideals of beauty. She won't lose weight for a role, she wears what she wants to wear. She embraces her curves. She's simply Christina.
In May, Hendricks was voted the sexiest woman alive by female readers of Esquire magazine. Justifiably so - aside from her divine hourglass figure she has gorgeous porcelain skin, lovely eyes and a beautiful smile. She is also incredibly intelligent. She's the thinking man's crumpet. And more than that, her beauty is attainable because it doesn't come from airbrushing and ridiculous dieting. It's her, not editing software. Women love her because she's a girlie girl. She loves fashion, music and art.
Ms Featherstone cited Hendricks as a positive influence on women as she criticised the “overexposure” of skinny models, which she said was causing a crisis in “body confidence” among young women in the UK, an issue that is not limited to Britain I would surmise.
The article continues: The use of such models, as well as the routine use of airbrushing, meant that girls and women came under “dreadful pressure … to conform to completely unachievable body stereotypes”, she said.
I for one, think Christina Hendricks is Fabulous. Not only because she is physically stunning but because she is honest about who she is. She doesn't pretend to be a skinny minnie. She dresses appropriately for her age and body shape. She makes the most of her god-given assets. She has thought out views on feminism. She is articulate, gentle, graceful, charming, intelligent and witty. She is more than just beautiful - she's a wonderful woman.
I honestly think we need more role models like her.
Pictures courtesy of the New York Post's Page Six magazine.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Beautiful Chantelle from fat.mum.slim posted the other day about how women are their most beautiful at the age of 31.
It was an interesting thought. I, for one, got engaged at 31 and married at 32. Objectively (or subjectively, depending on where you stand) I think I was probably the most beautiful I have ever been on my wedding day. The reason is threefold - I had the help of an Amaaaaazing make-up artist, I was surrounded by my dearest friends and family and I was truly happy to be marrying my partner, my soul-mate, my best friend.
Thinking bout it, I honestly don't believe miserable people are beautiful. Beauty for me is so much more than having a pretty face. The people I find beautiful radiate happiness, intelligence and acceptance. They are almost all smiling and appear to be happy with who they are. Or at least accept themselves for who they are.
Taking time off from work has allowed me the time to ponder happiness. What it is, what it means. How to be happy - Kitty-Style. I am learning to embrace the change in my life and not focus on the minutiae. To think about my life more holistically. I am spending more time thinking about life in general.
I am also learning to accept who I am. I will never be stick thin or waifish and I don't want to be. But what I want to be is healthy, fit and happy, regardless of size or shape. I am investing more time in me - doing the things I love to do. I am writing more. I have taken up Pilates and Body Balance. I try to laugh more, frown less. I'm trying to surround myself with things and people I like. I've discovered that having less stress in your life helps, it makes it easier to smile.
According to the survey, women believe that as they age they become more beautiful. I think it is more about being comfortable in your own skin. The small things that bothered you when you were younger seem to matter less. Those little imperfections you used to hide and worry about now are part of who you are and you accept that. You are not just the physical embodiment of beauty, your beauty is part of who you are: intellectually, emotionally.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After some quiet contemplation over a cup of my favourite tea, I think that beauty comes from inside. It's in a smile, it comes from happiness and and acceptance of who you are. It comes from self love.
People who have these things sorted and who are happy with who they are, are to me beautiful.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I am a massive fan of Christmas. And all things Christmassy. So naturally I was super excited when I was invited to a "Christmas in July" event by one of my former colleagues. Not only was it a great chance to catch up with some friends, I also had the opportunity to bake something Christmassy at a time other than Christmas...
It's worth noting that despite my best intentions of getting creative, I tend to revert to the classics at Christmas - pudding, fruit cake, shortbread... The more intricate, interesting Christmas cookies and desserts don't really tend to work in the hot climate. I have always wanted to make a traditional French Buche de Noel - a chocolate iced log - and Christmas in July seemed like the perfect opportunity to do it. It's too rich to eat in 40 degree heat - you need icy cold weather to appreciate the special nature of this dessert.
I scoured the internet for a great recipe, and after realising most of the recipes were essentially the same, I reverted to the standard for all things chocolatey: La Reine Nigella.
Given the party I was going to had a couple of dozen attendees, I thought I would increase the recipe a little: I upped the cake by 50% and baked it in a larger tray but you could stick to the original recipe (below) if you had a smaller number of people. The original recipe calls for you to use the icing as the filling as well, but I wanted to do something a little more interesting so I devised my own.
It was an awful lot easier than I expected. It does take time so plan accordingly and don't forget to allow the cake to cool completely before attempting to assemble. 2 hours between baking and rolling should do it.
I also baked mini cinnamon and chocolate mince pies for the party that were sensational - if you are looking for an alternative to the usual festive pie I can highly recommend it!
Buche de Noel
adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
for the cake
6 eggs, separated
150g caster sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
50g unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Green and Blacks Organic)
for the icing
100g bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
250g icing sugar
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
3-5 teaspoons icing sugar for “snow”
for the filling
120ml thickened cream
150g sweetened chestnut puree or creme de marron (I used Bonne Maman)
Preheat the oven to 180 C degrees. Line a swiss or jam roll with parchment paper leaving a generous overhang at the ends.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until pale yellow and thick. Add the vanilla and sift in cocoa powder before gently folding to incorporate. Next, fold a few tablespoons of the egg whites into the yolks, before gently folding in the remaining whites in thirds, making sure you lose as little of the air as possible from the mixture. Pour the cake mixture into the lined cake pan and bake for twenty minutes. It will puff up quite a lot, but don't worry, it will settle when you pull it out of the oven. Test that the cake is done and remove to a baking rack. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment. Allow to cool fully before attempting to ice and fill.
In a bowl placed over a pan of boiling water melt the chocolate. Allow to cool. In a kitchen whizz or food processor blend the softened butter, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth. Add the cooled chocolate and blend until well combined.
In another bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Add the creme de marron (chestnut puree). Stir until combined.
To assemble the log, spread the chestnut cream over the cake in a thin layer. You can either roll the cake from the short end or long one, I rolled it from the long end to make a longer log. The most important thing is to make sure the seam of the roll (the edge) is at the bottom of the cake so it doesn't attempt to unroll. Don't worry about the cake cracking - it's fairly pliable and any cracks can be covered with icing. Place the cake on the plate on which you wish to serve it, seam down.
Now, slice two pieces from the log on a diagonal - one triangular piece from each end. Using the chocolate icing, attach one of the pieces to each side of the roll, making it look more log-like. Using a palette or butter knife, spread the rest of the icing over the cake roughly (including the ends), so that the icing looks a little like bark. Using a skewer, you can also make tree-style markings on the log and circles on the cut ends to make it look more log-like. Just before serving dust with sugar and then eat with enthusiasm! Share with your seven closest friends.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Here are my picks from the remaining sale items:
Red suede Marni sandals, an absolute steal at 148 pounds.
Glittery Erickson Beamon snowflake earrings at 174 pounds.
This silver fringe and ruffle hobo from Valentino, ridiculously cheap at 849 pounds. It's half price, ladies!!
These gorgeous fuchsia suede sandals from Lanvin at 50% off. They are only 195 pounds.
This divine Alexander McQueen dress. Was 1005 pounds. Now 389. Please - someone buy it!!
The spending ban is still going strong. Today is day 14. It probably doesn't help that I spend so much of my time looking at pretty things on the interwebs... But a girl's gotta have a hobby, right?
Friday, July 16, 2010
These are my favourite of all my Miu Miu shoes. I first saw them in Hong Kong three years ago. We had a 12 hour stop over between our flight from Sydney to Hong Kong and the flight onwards to Johannesburg. We were moseying through Lane Crawford at IFC Mall and I spotted them glittering in a display case in the middle of the store from about 50 meters away. I didn't even know that they were Miu Mius. They were so amazing. They were classic. They were chic. They were timeless. I wanted them. Desperately.
Unfortunately they didn't have my size - only a 39 - but they said I should try Lane Crawford at Pacific Place. So Mr Kitty, being the amazing sport he is, took me to Pacific Place to check them out. Unfortunately no luck there either. With time running out, I put them on the backburner and we boarded our flight to South Africa.
Fast forward 2 and a half weeks and we were back in Hong Kong on the way home. "This time," I told myself "I am going to find those shoes."
I trawl around the entire Island looking for the shoes. Unfortunately I finally get to Miu Miu at The Landmark and they politely tell me that the likelihood of finding them in Hong Kong is non-existent. They don't import shoes any larger than a 39 so my size 41 hooves weren't ever going to get any joy.
I scoured eBay. I begged at the Prada store in Martin Place. I called Miu Miu in New York and London, all to no avail. After months of searching, I eventually gave up.
And then one day Serendipity came to town.
I was in the Strand Arcade on my lunch break one day and walked past the Corner Store. There, in the window, were my shoes.
I was excited but also a little worried. I had seen them before - in ridiculously small sizes and I had been disappointed. I'm not sure I wanted to let my heart get broken again.
But the lure of the shoes was too much. I walked in, and tentatively asked if they had them in my size.
"Unfortunately not," said the sales assistant. " Heart snapping. Devastated.
I thanked her and I turned to leave the store. "Wait," she said. "We might have a pair at our Paddington Store. Would you like me to check?"
Would I ever.
Turns out they did. Turns out they fit. Turns out - despite the eye watering price - they were destined to be mine. Serendipity indeed.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
These are a great pair of everyday work shoes. They go really well with a plain grey dress or as an accessory to liven up a totally black outfit.
I bought them at the same time I bought my teacups (hence why I didn't buy three pairs). They were 150 euros from the Prada factory outlet. A little more expensive than the teacups but infinitely more practical. Despite the spindly nature of the heels, they are reasonably sturdy.
The bow is super cute. It's made from one piece of the same soft patent leather as the shoe and I like that you can see the underside of the leather in the bow. It makes it look less perfect. More interesting.
I've actually worn these shoes so much I have managed to stretch them a teeny bit and need to wear inserts when my feet shrink a little in the Winter. But no matter - they are still beautiful and add a special something to any outfit.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
So I posted yesterday about how I found my dream shoes - the Miu Miu teacups - in the middle of an Industrial estate just outside of Florence. Seriously - it looks like a factory, which is apt given it's a factory outlet. Today I'm posting the photos of the second pair I bought. Because one pair of teacups is never enough.
It did fleetingly cross my mind to buy all three pairs of teacups, but even I thought that might be a little on the extravagant side. Plus they weigh a fair amount (almost a kilo per pair) so when you consider my meagre baggage allowance after a three month overseas trip and everything else I managed to purchase on the holiday, two pairs was already an extravagance.
It was no choice in the end. I had to have the pink pair. They had to be mine. So pretty!
I had a little helper for this project... She loves shoes. They smell so good! Note the almost destroyed kitten collar. Her new proper cat collar is arriving this week (leopard print of course, just like her big brother)... At almost 8 months old she is just big enough for a proper cat collar. I think she'll always be petite.
Monday, July 12, 2010
I can see you all ROLLING in the aisles through the interwebs.
Of course I bought FAR too much in the US. Some of it completely useless and fun. Kilos of food (I am a US food junkie - just call me Mrs Goldfish). In fact I bought so much I ended up bringing home 3 suitcases. I took half a suitcase with me. That's two and a half suitcases full of stuff. Stuff I bought.
So much stuff. And it didn't stop when I got home. My clothes currently inhabit the entire 3.3 metres of wardrobe in our bedroom, and my coats now reside in the wardrobe in the spare room. I am gradually taking over the world with all the clothes I own, and let's not talk about the shoes and handbags... I think it's fair to say Miss Kitty is the reason Australia isn't currently in a recession. I kept the country afloat with my purchasing prowess people.
In an effort to try and save some of my hard earned gains, I am going on a spending diet. That means for the next month (well from the 8th July until the 8th August) Miss Kitty is buying nothing. Well nothing from the clothing, shoes, handbags, jewellery categories of the shopping sphere. I am allowed to buy a book per week and have a manicure once a fortnight and that is it. Yes, I am serious.
I trialled this original, innovative and yet slightly scary idea over the past few days and when I didn't drop dead from the shock and the bank didn't call to check if I was still alive given my credit card wasn't getting it's usual bashing at Leona Edmiston, I figured it was safe to tell people I am going on the ban.
The hope is that I can spend a little more on things I really want when I go to the UK and Hong Kong in September. There is nothing to buy in South Africa other than biltong so I'll just ignore that destination). It's a better use of the money I think. I'm after some more enamel bangles and I want to get some jewellery made in HK. I would like another handbag and perhaps another black dress.
But for the moment, I am done with the shopping.
Wish me luck!
PS: Back to our regularly scheduled programming with the Miu Miu shoes tomorrow...
No mugs for me, I am truly a teacup kind of girl.
When I first saw these on the interwebs I thought I had died and gone to heaven. They were the most amazing shoes I had ever seen. And of course they never came to Australia! Don't be ridiculous! And the less said about the price the better. I knew I was never going to really wear these shoes for real so in the midst of planning and paying for a wedding they were put on the back burner.
Fast forward about five months and "Mr and Mrs" Kitty were on a three month honeymoon around Europe. One of the destinations I was most looking forward to visiting was the Prada Factory Outlet just outside of Florence. I had good shopping fortune the last time we went there (two pairs of beautiful Prada shoes for 60 euros each) and I hoped my luck would continue. I had forgotten about the antiquated "take a ticket and wait" system of entry (only in Italy...) but we arrived just as the outlet opened so it wasn't much of a wait.
We walked in the door and turned to the shoe section and...
There. They. Were.
I kid you not - it was a heart stopping moment for Miss Kitty. On a plinth, in the middle of the showroom were these three fabulous pairs of shoes. Miu Miu teacups - in black, pink and white.
Holy cow. I started to squeal like a three year old and Mr Kitty looked at me like I was insane.
I pointed and he rolled his eyes. "If you must," he said.
"Of course I MUST!" I replied and ran towards them.
Luckily for me they had them in my size. In all three colours. As I danced around the showroom, I came to the earth-shattering realisation that I probably could only afford to buy one pair. I asked the sales assistant how much they were (typical Kitty - ask for the details after you fall in love with the shoe) and while they were checking I tried to pick which ones I would buy. For parents, I guess it's like choosing which child you like best...
As you have seen, today brings photos of the black pair. Tomorrow I'll show you the others! Guess which colour they might be?