Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Happy Birthday Madame la Moue

Today was Madame la Moue's birthday (well, yesterday, strictly speaking, as it is now half-past midnight), so I made her a card. What do you think?

Happy belated birthday, you mad old lush.

Monday, 29 March 2010

In which I administer the last rites to my style credentials

On Thursday night, Madame la Moue roped me into modelling in a fashion show in aid of Danny's school. MLM was taking the photographs from the sidelines, where she was also manning the bar. Oh dear. Whoever allowed this state of affairs obviously didn't know MLM very well. At all. Observe the way the photos get more and more blurred as she consumes increasing quantities of cava and loses the ability to use the autofocus. I think of these pictures as a precise record of MLM's experience of reality as the night progressed.

Unfortunately for me, the clothes were AWFUL. Just hideous. Here is my second outfit. See how I hang my head in shame as I show off this sleeveless, ruffled shirt (three words that would NEVER appear together in my wardrobe). I also wear a black mini skirt, whose side-split (I discovered a few steps down the catwalk) remained sewn up, forcing me to take tiny, hobbled, Chinese-foot-bound-lady steps as the skirt rode steadily higher up what Madame la Moue described as my 'mottled, purple bare legs'.*

Question: would you take fashion tips from a woman who paired an ill-fitting, tomato shirt with black office trousers? They were blimmin' grumpy, those organiser-women, as well. Hatchet-faced, I think is the word.

Diana, one of my fellow models, and I bonded in shared horror almost immediately:

What fresh hell is this? A nylon dress in mauve florals over black bootcut trousers? One word: WHY?


Throughout all this you have to picture Madame la Moue sarcastically mouthing 'GORGEOUS!!!' while making googly saucer-eyes and stifling her sniggers.

My final outfit surpassed all others in its sheer buttock-clenching wrongness.

I am only thankful that Madame la Moue had lost 80% of her hand-eye co ordination by this point, so that you cannot see the full horror of leggings teamed with a vest top and a grey, tie-dyed waistcoat. A TIE. DYED. WAISTCOAT. Of the kind more usually accessorised with white dreadlocks. And a digeridoo.

And then I went home and held a funeral service for the mangled remains of my fashion credibility.

That was not even the worst photo, by the way. The last one of the show looked like this. MLM you are a LUSH:

 *I love you too, MLM.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Bohemian Brighton

On Thursday Wednesday* night I was at a house concert at a beautiful flat in Brighton (well, Hove, actually), organised by my devastatingly talented friend Sharon Lewis. Here she is in her red skirt, about to sing with equally talented friends Nik Barrell and Esther Bertram as the Urban Bluebirds:

I was positively stricken to have forgotten my camera, because the flat was astonishingly original. This photo, which I purloined from Facebook, conveys but a soup├žon of its gloriousness. My mission now is to get Zoe, the owner, to let me come and photograph it...

This room was vast, with an ornate moulded-plaster ceiling, and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors to the left of the picture. I love the mirrored corner shelf on the left and the portrait of a woman's head top left. The solid brass, red-velvet-seated chair with the amp on it is one of a set from Italy. I also adore the white, sequined Moroccan wedding blankets that cover the arched bookcase doors and the leafy gold wall-sconces on either side of the fireplace.

In other news, I have just returned from my regular drinks-and-gossip-cum-therapy-session with Sara and Julie. We call it our blubfest, because at least one of us is guaranteed to weep every time. Tonight it was all three. What would we do without girlfriends? Have been sectioned years ago, I imagine.

During the blubfest I discovered an amazing new drink: sweet-geranium-leaf vodka. I had mine with tonic and it tasted like alcoholic Turkish delight, i.e. heaven. If you find yourself in the Snowdrop in Lewes, TRY IT. They make it themselves, so I will probably be blind in the morning. Night night.

* Edit: oops, too much vodka...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Baby figs in spiced wine and honey

I found these poor, orphaned baby figs sitting sadly in the bargain bin in Waitrose and decided to rescue them and give them a VIP makeover. So I made them a bath of white wine and honey, sprinkled them with cinnamon and cloves and gave them a sauna in the oven:

And this is how they turned out. Okay, so wrinkly figs and melting ice cream could be more photogenic, but you'll just have to believe me when I say they were nectar-like. Eat your minxy, doe-eyed heart out, Sophie Dahl:

In other news, it was baby Harry's Christening on Sunday. Here he is with his new godmother:

Just how adorable are those little fists?

Note to self, in order to avoid awkward situations is imperative to repeat following mantra at all times: must not steal him. Must not steal him. Must not steal him.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Living the nightmare

To misquote the late, great Marvin Gaye: how many eyes have seen their nightmare? Well now mine have, and I can tell you that it wasn't a pretty sight.

I have had this nightmare more times than I care to remember. This is how it starts: I am about to give a lecture. I stand up in front of a packed lecture theatre. And then it all starts to unravel...

Last week the nightmare came true: 120 undergraduates sit in serried ranks above me. Eyes fixed, expectant. I open my powerpoint presentation...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


This joyous trailer was sent to me by lovely lovely Rachael. The film was made by the sister of a friend of ours and it looks just beautiful. It's a love story about a man who is writing an encyclopaedia of obsolete objects.

Staggeringly, it's the director's first film, yet it won a cinematography award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, as well as being nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. Which is inspiring. Or nauseating, depending on the extent of your personal self-loathing today.

How can we get this to Lewes, people? Any suggestions?

Official website, where you can watch a better quality version of the trailer, here.

Blogger's block

Well, hello strangers. I must apologise for going awol from Paper Flowers for the past week. I suppose it had to come sooner or later: blogger's block. In fact, I'm surprised that it took nearly five months to strike.

Now don't get me wrong, I've had masses of things that I wanted to tell you about: lecturing disasters, upcycled fashion, designing Madame la Moue's gorgeous shed... The words just wouldn't flow out of my fingertips into the 'compose' box the way they usually do.

I realised the only way to break the block was just to post something. Anything. So I thought I'd give you a photo. Appropriately enough, it defies all description...

The other night I made tortillas and I accidentally spawned this:

You see? No words necessary.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Here comes the sun

At LAST, the spring sunshine struggles free from the joyless embrace of this exhausted season to coax us out of winter torpor.

And so a girl's fancies turn to thoughts of fashion. Specifically, what am I going to wear once the cocoon of thermal swaddling in which I have spent the last few months begins to look excessive?

The other day I wandered into Zara. Maybe it was because I hadn't been shopping for millennia, but I LOVED everything in the shop. So I thought I'd show you a few of my favourite picks. Wouldn't this make a great spring-into-summer capsule wardrobe?

Long-line, linen-mix blazer? I absolutely would:

Super-cute 50s-style patch-pocket skirt: £39.99, silk blouse £49.99:

ADORABLE beaded blue and gold bag, £49.99:

Utterly heavenly vintage-style silk blouse, £59.99:

The only other pieces I'd need would be a cashmere jumper, a pair of light-tan loafers and some high-waisted, tapered linen trousers and I'd be good to go for the new season. Re. the latter: does anyone have any recommendations? I am desperate for some of these...

Monday, 8 March 2010

Heavenly angel biscuits

I invented these honey and almond biscuits last week and was told by the Beautiful Egyptian that I was, under no circs whatsoever, to put the recipe on the blog. He is actually convinced that we could make our fortunes from it. But being the generous (and extremely contrary) individual that I am, I simply couldn't keep the secret of the food of the gods from you, my dear, dear readers.
I tried another version with hazelnuts and oats instead of the almonds and must report that it was but a shadow of these ambrosial darlings. Remember: almonds. It must be almonds. Now you have the secret, go forth and conquer the universe via the medium of biscuits.

Click below for the recipe after the jump.

Friday, 5 March 2010

The messy Parisienne bun

Ah, la Parisienne and her air of effortless insouciance!

I discovered these instructions on the YSL Experience Parisienne blog last week (in circuitous fashion via the ever-inspiring Glamourous Grad Student). The messy Parisienne bun has since become my 'do of choice and I have been wearing it continuously for days.

The key is not having super-clean hair (pas de probleme pour moi, as I tend to wash mine only two or three times a week anyway).

I know that this looks laughably simple, but what makes it different from my usual twist-and-secure-without-thinking-about-it bun is 1. it sits high on the crown; 2. using hairgrips or pins instead of a hairband to achieve that authentically loose knot and 3. pulling tendrils from the hairline at the nape of the neck and temples to add an element of romantic disarray. Et voila!

Allez! Soyez jolies, mes petites!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Gorgeous Penguin covers

I am feeling super-inspired by these typographic book covers designed for Penguin in collaboration with AIDS awareness fund (RED). File under: utterly divine.

I think I feel another swish poster coming on...

Found via India Knight.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

How to have half-decent skin: step 3 of 4 - foundation

Now I know that make up isn't usually considered part of one's skincare regime, but I have to say that different foundations have made a massive difference to the state of my skin. So for me, it most definitely is.

I was introduced to mineral foundations by the lovely Kathryn, who let me play with her yummy Laura Mercier one. It took me a while to realise that not all mineral make up is created equal. Ooh noo no no. Most of the mass-market gunk that claims to be 'pure mineral' is really no different from conventional formulations, with talc, oils and waxes in its ingredients.

What your skin wants, essentially, is the fewest ingredients possible, and that means basically pigments and nothing else. My current foundation is Lily Lolo, which at £12 is *considerably* cheaper than most other 'true' mineral foundations, yet is made from the highest quality pigments.*

Application is a bit of an art form. Some mineral foundations come with a puff, but I would recommend the kabuki brush method, which involves buffing it into the skin to build up sheer or full coverage.

Amazingly for a powder, it has excellent coverage and staying power, although it appears that you are wearing *nothing* - no trace of icky, powdery cakiness.

Best of all, the zinc oxide in mineral foundation has a natural SPF and - get this - IT KILLS SPOTS. I knowAmazing. It's one of the much touted 'facts' about mineral make up that it's so good for your skin that you can sleep in it, although I haven't tried this myself. Bare Escentuals, one of the biggest mineral brands, even make a foundation that is designed to be slept in and to treat your skin while you sleep. (No, I did not just dream that. It really IS a thing.) 

Eensy word of warning: it took my combination skin a little while to get used to the new mineral regime - I found it quite drying at first, but it very soon settled down.

I am quite tempted to try that Laura Mercier one next. India Knight recommended it  a week ago, and she is infallible on all things make-up/skincare-related (the Lily Lolo was one of her recs too). Has anyone out there tried both? Kathryn, can you help?

*It is even vegan and BUAV and PETA approved.