Monday, 12 December 2011

fa la la la la...........

'tis the season and all that.

regardless of whether like me, you unexpectedly find yourself somewhat of a social leper this festive season without many engagements in your calendar, or on the other hand your PA is having difficulty keeping up with your status of that of social climber butterfly, we could all do with some tips to remind us how to be the perfect party guest. This is especially important if, like my boss at the recent office christmas party, you're prone to common behaviour such as loudly announcing from the outset of the evening that you won't be having dinner but will instead be 'getting smashed' which ends in several employees getting inappropriate hugs goodbye at the end of the night. 

The following has been lifted from the Schewppes website and has timeless party advice for guests all year round. If applicable, I've added my own comments in blue.

Good timing
We all know there's such a thing as arriving 'fashionably late', but this doesn't mean an hour after the party starts. 10 minutes after the scheduled time is considered good arrival etiquette. You could reasonably stretch this to 20 minutes maximum but only if the host is a good friend - and be sure to call as a courtesy to advise of your tardiness.

Think then drink
Sipping white wine or bubbles? Hold the stem of your glass between thumb and index fingers to ensure that it stays beautifully chilled. Ideally, a cold, wet drink should never be held for more than the time it takes to have a quick sip. Red wine or brandy can be gripped by the bowl, so your body heat keeps it at the perfect temperature. If you're a beer boozer, don't swig from a bottle or can – use a glass. Do not, under any circumstances, add ice cubes to unchilled white wine or sparkling. This is a crime against booze.

Chatter patter
Try to mingle as much as possible — you might meet a potential date, friend or business associate! Use eye contact, open body language and avoid gossiping or discussing controversial topics like politics and religion. Well that's no fun! Gossiping and discussing contoversial topics are the two things I do best. The key here is to be selective about whom you discuss these issues with. If you find yourself in a position where you want to punch someone in the face a drunken ignoramus of a stranger is making inappropriate comments, simply excuse yourself at the earliest opportunity citing an empty glass/full bladder/lack of physical restraint when trapped in a conversation monopolised by an uninformed moron.

Food-friend
Never overfill your plate — it's better to take hamster helpings and go back for seconds than to start out with a mountain of greedy grub. If you can, eat something beforehand to avoid overeating and appearing gluttonous. This will also help soak up the booze.

RSVP-Please
ALWAYS respond to cocktail party invitations. Promptly! When an invitation is sent, it is very impolite to ignore it. RSVP cards and envelopes should be included by your host but if not, give them a courtesy call to let them know that you'd be delighted to attend their little shindig. Structure the formality of your reply according to the formality of the invitation. If you're in a situation where you find it necessary to bring a plus one, always call the host to check if this is acceptable. Depending on the nature of the event and your relationship with the host more may be merrier, but it's not always good manners. 

Polite position
Careful where you leave things while socialising. A clutch dumped in the centre of the room is sure to cause some trippage, while a drink placed clumsily on a mahogany end table without a coaster is sure to cause some drippage. And obviously, don't leave valuables within easy reach if you're at a party full of strangers.

Wardrobe code
Cocktail parties are usually semi-formal — think cute heels, a slinky black dress and sleek tresses. Remember comfort though, as you may be on your feet for a lot of the night. It's always better to be overdressed than underdresed. Pack a pair of roll-up flats or flip flops in your handbag to slip on for the trip home. Your feet will thank you.

Dinner role
Why not offer to bring a bottle of vino or platter of canapes? If the host refuses your contribution offer, you could always get them a box of chocolates. Always offer to bring something. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy. If all else fails, a lovely bunch of flowers is always appreciated.

Appetiser etiquette
When accepting canapes at a cocktail party, hold a napkin between the ring and baby finger of your left hand and spread the ring and middle fingers to act as a base for a plate. Use your right hand to serve yourself with drinks and nibbles.

Mrs Manners
Remember your 'please's and 'thank you's on arrival and departure. After the event, pen a thank you note to the host or return the favour by inviting them to your next do. As if this needs to be said!
            
happy party season!

Monday, 21 November 2011

philosophising

I have a new obsession. And do not need to purchase anymore shower gel for at least the next 12 months. In no particular order.

I’ve always been intrigued by Philosophy’s unique concept and packaging but until now was simply unwilling to pay $38AUD for a bottle of something that effectively gets washed down the drain (as sold in Australia through Mecca, Philosophy’s only Australian stockist). However with the oz dollar going gangbusters in recent times (in addition to discounts offered by philosophy) I took the plunge and procured myself numerous bottles of bathing pleasure. They do charge $40AUD to ship internationally but if you place a large order (using a discount code of which they usually have at least 1 on offer) it’s more than worth it. Behold the haul:

Upon first whiff the products may seem overpowering but once actually slathered over one's body they're really quite subtle. So much so that even boys can use them too without fear of coming out of the shower smelling like Hyacinth Bucket's garden. Bathroom win.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

the two best things in the world

tea and wine.


This has been on our ‘drink now’ rack for quite a while but I snaffled it to have at a girls’ dinner a few weeks ago. This won’t be the first time that I’ll say I’m biased from growing up in the Orange wine region but this was to. die. for.

As I get older I find the sweetness of traditional stickies far too overpowering – and don’t get me started on port. Everyone raves on about Noble One but honestly, whenever I have it I swear all I can feel is the sugar boring into my teeth at a furious rate. Certainly not enjoyable for the price.

The Sticky Tea Riesling is gorgeous though - light and refreshing. I met the winemaker when we purchased this and he explained the name came from the smell of the grapes as they fermented in a big heap. He said every time he checked in on the fermentation process all he could think of was sweet earl grey tea.

Good enough for me.

Monday, 17 October 2011

tidbits

last week a colleague brought some incredible apple-cinnamon muffiny deliciousness to work for yet another morning tea. as she's a fellow fan of bakeage herself I could never imagine her venturing to The Dark Side of Packet Mixes. as a rule I'm not a fan of these myself as the processed nature of it just doesn't appeal. plus there's a lack of achievement one feels at the end of the baking process that you just don't get using butter, flour, sugar, eggs, etc from scratch. having said that, this is hands down one of the most amazing packet mixes I've ever come across. may I present Betty Crocker Cinnamon Crumble Muffins:

if I may say so myself, my effort displayed near the box is one of the best damn examples of How The End Product Should Appear that I've seen. packet mix win. this mix only made 10 regular size muffins so if you were making these for a large group you'd need at least 2 boxes. the packet comes with a sugary cinnamon topping to be sprinkled on top of the batter just before the muffins go in the oven however I found I had quite a lot left over. the good folks at BC could do with adjusting their muffin mix to topping ratio but if you're expected to bring a plate and are short on time this one's a winner.

it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago (hurrah!) and my lovely friend L gave me this glasshouse candle as a gift:

montego bay smells like coconut and lime (self explanatory from the pic) - very summery. by chance I found some more of the glasshouse range in david jones last weekend and have now put 'bora bora'(coriander and orange zest), 'galapagos' (kaffir lime and cocoa butter) and 'oahu'(milk and honey) on my wish list. 'rodeo drive' (neroli and sweet myrrh) is quite lovely as well but doesn't come in miniature size, so I'm not sure if I want to commit to the regular size straight off which is quite pricey ($36.95AUD). I have a friend who works for Glasshouse though so am generally looking forward to getting any inside goss - looks like my blossoming love of Glasshouse may soon pose some competition for my Dusk obsession.

on an unrelated note, last weekend I had some amazing salted peanut gelato from our local place. Unfortunately I didn't get a pic but I can assure you it was a taste sensation.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

lushness

last weekend Lush released their much awaited christmas products. every year I have an annual lush splurge to pick these up and also get any staples (but only if I'm in need, remember!). this year, it was quite a haul! to get the boring stuff out of the way first, here are the staple products I snaffled:
I've never used H'Suan Wen Hua before (yeah, I can't pronounce it either) but have to say I'm underwhelmed. I consulted my friend youtube and found an instructional video by a lovely lass from blighty called lyndsey to ensure I was using it properly but I definitely won't repurchase as it's quite expensive for something from which you'd only get 3 uses. I'm in need of a treatment which is good value for money, and one which I can afford to repurchase regularly given my hair needs a weekly treatment unless I want it to feel like straw. I'd probably be more inclined to repurchase another Lush treatment, The Hair Doctor, which I'm in love with but have similar concerns about regarding cost. I did get a sample of Jasmine and Henna Fluff Eaze though so I'll try this out and see how it goes.

 
another staple, my old friend Cynthia Sylvia Stout smells quite strange but I'm strangely fascinated by it. really good if, like me, you need a shampoo to reduce fluffiness.

I love Lush's 100g bottles of shower gel as they're perfect for the gym and overnight trips. having worked my way through my bottles of Glogg and Yummy Yummy Yummy, it was time to restock:
 

                         

I've wanted to try these for ages. Grass smells fresh and clean, while The Olive Branch has my favourite smells (mandarin and bergamot) without being nauseatingly, artificially fruity. Twilight is a limited edition product which I imagine smells like the bath bomb of the same name - lavender-y, but not overpowering. got myself both 100g and 250g bottles, 'cos that's how I roll.

this is one of my favourite soaps ever. Summer Pudding is right up my alley with its perfect understated blend of creamy fruitiness, and the ground almonds give a fantastic gentle scrub.

now for christmassy goodness:
Abominaball has peppermint oil, vanilla absolute and sweet orange oil. looks kinda scary, but smells nice. 


I have mixed feelings about Lush's scrubs. Sugar Babe (one of their regulars) is quite nice but awkward to use, while Sugar Scrub is truly dreadful - way too harsh and scratchy. I can't believe they discontinued Brimstone, which was much more gentle and effective but there you go. Hopefully Igloo is more on the gentle side as opposed to resulting in something akin to nasty gravel rash - especially since I bought 2! 


Candy Cane Soap smells lovely. not overly sugary or knock-you-down pepperminty, but quite subtle. can't wait to use it. the picture is of the entire truckle of soap. 


no doubt about it, Celebrate Lip Tint smells like fizz. it has gorgeous edible gold flecks of popping candy on the top which unfortunately would be gone after the first few uses, but it has a festive light pink tint. it also doubles as a lip balm with almond oil, organic jojoba oil, and camellia oil. icing sugar, cognac oil, grapefruit oil and lemon oil add create a pleasant taste for which Lush's lip products are renowned.


I love Cinders. must be the popping candy, almond essential oil, sweet orange oil, and cinnamon leaf oil.


me and anything ginger = besties. I'm in love with the smell of pure ginger, and even though Gingerbread House looks like it smells like a lolly shop, it's pretty much unadulterated spicy ginger with a gorgeously doughy texture. mmmm, ginger...... 


Golden Wonder Ballistic rattles when you shake it - generally always a good sign, and it's huge - big tick for value for money, but also glittery - a minus for me. However it contains sweet orange oil, almond oil and lime oil to smell like fizz. yum. 


Northern Lights Soap really is ridiculously flourescent - exactly like B Electro Soap, but the smell is divine. fresh, like a pine forest with limes. a word of warning - do not drop this on light coloured towels while wet, otherwise it'll look like a case of the exploding yellow highlighter.


my Rocketeer had smashed into a million pieces by the time I got home which is unfortunate, as part of its appeal is what's supposed to happen when it's dropped in the bath - it zooms around in the water. however this creates a design flaw in that it increases the risk of breakage as experienced by moi. in addition, it is seriously glittery - I had to vacuum up irridescent blue and silver sparkles after I dropped it on our rug. 


love love love Snowcake. I picked up 2 pieces - one for me and one for my mother's partner. He's a barber who loves using it to shave. I'd believe that the almondy goodness creates a decadent, yet gently moisturising lather for bristly faces. I love it for what it does to my (mostly) non-bristly skin. 


genuine apple scented products always smell so fresh as opposed to those awful artificial ones. So White makes for a refreshing summer bath. 


Superstars is a bubble bar of strawberry scented goodness. delish.


the vanilla absolute and sweet orange oil in Three Gold Rings give it a deliciously faint foody smell, but not so much that the vanilla grabs you by your short and curlies an in overly unpleasant way. 

Saturday, 1 October 2011

my grandmother's things

My grandmother had some fabulous things. Maybe not spectacular to others, but I love them.

When she died and the task of the wardrobe clean out fell to me, my grandfather gave me free reign of her belongings. “no need to ask me if you want anything – if you see something you like, you’re more than welcome to take it”. God love him.

So here are some of her lovely things I managed to snaffle. Enjoy. 

70s luxe beads. I don’t wear these often as I don’t feel I can pull them off but they’re pretty groovy, wouldn’t you say?


My grandfather bought this jewellery as a present for my grandmother in the 50s. I can’t remember where he bought them but they’re magnificent. The earrings are screw on so I don’t wear them (too painful plus I’m terrified they’ll fall off), so I must get them made into fish hooks.

This makes a regular appearance at our dinner parties. It had been getting lonely gathering dust for a long, long time way up high on top of a cupboard in my grandparents’ house. I never saw them use it which is why in the name of all that’s fabulous I decide to rehome it. Everyone needs a glam statement piece of vintage kitsch on their dining table.

Friday, 30 September 2011

retro kitchening

this week a photograph of one of my favourite vintage style icons, the fabulous pia andersen, was announced as a finalist of the Sydney Morning Herald's Shoot the Chef photography competition. the photo is taken in the kitchen of her own home.

I was lucky enough to meet pia (although I didn't realise who she was at the time) by chance at the rozelle markets. I'm not sure whether she had a stall herself but she was browsing the vintage knick knacks on offer and looked amazing. we coincidentally ended up in the bathroom together where I saw her applying lipstick. I struck up a conversation by telling her how incredible she looked. she was very gracious and replied with "I dress like this every day", also explaining that she's been dressing vintage for so long now that her hair and makeup now hardly take any time at all. her hair and makeup were immaculate and she had gorgeous big red clip on earrings. I can't recall what frock she was wearing but as it was a tad chilly I do remember her wearing a gorgeous tea length olive coat, which was nipped in at the waist and then flared out over her frock. all in all a lovely girl who oozes glamour.

good luck in the finals pia!