Tuesday, 23 April 2013

BDD turns 1!

Today marks a full year since my first post on Bake Drink Dress - doesn't time fly? 

Yes, OK, I know I've been a terrible blogger for some most of the year, but I've been busy becoming a better person, broadening my horizons, opening my mind...OK, fine, being drunk and watching Game of Thrones (not at the same time, natch). 

So on Bake Drink Dress' first birthday, here's some other firsts of the past 12 months:

As if someone let me be their bridesmaid <3

After 5 years of not making it to carnival, I
finally found out what I'd been missing

First time swimming in Hampstead Ponds
First time running through a thunder storm in a bikini
First time seeing a drunken 40-year-old man sporting a
crop top & a belly-button piercing

I was out-styled by my mother (probably not
actually the first time, she put me in baby bonnets)

40 days and nights without bread is testament to
my ridiculous, unreligious stubbornness.
And yes, that is a wheat-free crumpet smothered in Skippy.

A year of visiting my favourite place

Actually started to enjoy flats. I now have three
much-loved pairs in my repertoire. Yes, really.

Never before has my baking vision been "I want it to look
like it's been made by a 10 year-old".
I think I succeeded.

And, one final first, seeing as I'm still making up for being so lax - 

First time I posted a picture of myself as a [gormless] baby - 

Clearly a baker from a young age
Hopefully not much of a drinker
Definitely less of a dresser

Here's to the next year!

(I promise I'll be better)


Thursday, 2 August 2012

It's been a while...

Don't deny it, we've all been there.

So. It's been over a month since my last post - where have I been hiding?

There's so many posts I want to get on and write; I've done so many amazing things in the past month that I can't wait to tell you all about - but I feel like I can't just jump back in without explaining why exactly I haven't written in over 5 weeks.

Being somebody who loves to talk (and write) about almost anything, when it comes to the personal stuff - I don't really like it. But when somebody breaks up with you, it's pretty impossible to not talk about it. When you're crying in the kitchen at work every half hour, saying "I can't do this" (Goodness only knows how Laura handled that one), people aren't really going to let you keep quiet. But it's sort of impossible - whenever you're not talking about it, you want to scream. SOMEBODY TALK TO ME, I'M HAVING A REALLY FUCKING AWFUL TIME HERE, HAVE YOU NOTICED? But as soon as somebody asks you if you're OK, you're cursing them and their thoughtfulness, wishing you could melt into the floor so you don't have to think about it.

For a whole week I cried everywhere. The tube, at my desk, in the toilets, in the shower, even in a meeting a teensy bit once. (Nobody noticed that time - I think.) For a week I walked around London in utter disbelief and total, complete, shock. I was surviving on Berocca, my mum's herbal sleeping tablets, black coffee & not a whole lot else.

For the week after, I usually managed to hold it together long enough to run into the disabled loo, where I could steady myself with two minutes of privacy (and the gorgeous smell of l'Occitane hand wash which, for some unknown reason, is always in there). I started to re-read Caitlin Moran's How to be a Woman - partly because it's utterly inspiring, partly because I genuinely feel every person should read it at least once a year, from the age of 14 onwards, and partly because it distracted me in those moments where I would otherwise be sucked into thinking about it. For a week she nestled in my handbag, ready to make me laugh, cry, or realise that it could always be worse, whenever I needed her.

For the third week, I was out all the time, was drunk 8 nights out of 9 and was totally, irrevocably, losing my shit - in a good way. I was dancing on tables in G-A-Y late, breaking into private Bloomsbury gardens at 2am, doing tequila in sweaty downstairs clubs, partying aboard German cruise ships with drag queens & billionaires and ultimately, having a shit-hot time with my shit-hot friends.

The lesson I've learnt, through all of this, is this: people are amazing. When something bad happens, if you can open up to someone about it just a tiny bit, they will give you so much in return you wouldn't believe. They'll organise the most magnificent birthday surprise for you, tell you an experience they've had that will make you realise 'shit, I really will be OK one day', hide hashtagged KitKat chunky's in your desk drawer, get on a train from Macclesfield to come and look after you, offer to hang out with you when they know you have no plans on a Sunday afternoon, or get you shit faced on M&S wine in Green Park on your birthday... the people you know, even if you think you don't know them that well, will surprise you. And when I tipsily stammered this to my KitKat-hiding Sasha, one Friday night after work, she gave me no room to wriggle around it. "You get out what you put in" she said bluntly. And I thought, you know what? I'll take it.

So thank you, wonderful people, for being just quite so magnificent that you've made this all OK. I love you all.

Now can I stop talking about all this shit and tell you about the increds times I've been having when I haven't been crying in the toilets?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Nails of the Day - Turquoise & Gold

I saw this technique on favourite how-to site The Beauty Department last week and just had to give it a go.

I used my  turquoise shade from last summer's Topshop collection ("Gone Fishing") as the base and Barry M's foil effects gold paint for the top. The full tutorial is here, but it's such a simple process I didn't even need it after the initial read.

Paint your nails with your chosen base as normal - one base coat, then two coats of colour.

Leave to dry for around 30 minutes, so the colour won't smudge when you apply your gold.

To apply the gold coat, you'll need a small plastic bag (I just used a small Boots bag I had lying around - you can use whatever).

Scrunch the bag up so that most of it is held in your hand, but pull a bit free so it can be dabbed into your nails. Paint the bag with the gold polish, dab any excess into a piece of paper, then dab the bag into your nails.

You'll need to reapply, (and blot) the gold paint every 2-3 nails. Once they're all done, seal with top coat. When they're completely dry, remove any gold around your nails with a cotton bud soaked in nail polish. And voila! You're all done.

It also looks great on toes (but I'll save you from having to look at a photo of them). I told you it was simple!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Monchel-sur-Canche: Trout Fishing

My final [extremely overdue] post on my mini-break to France is by far my favourite. The tiny commune plays host to the River Canche, meaning the local trout farm gets pretty lucky. Right on the side of the road, you can just turn up, grab a rod and catch yourself some dinner.


Now, I have to admit to being horrendously squeamish, and don't have the best track history when it comes to killing, and eating, your own dinner. When I was 20, I bought a lobster from Billingsgate fish market to cook at home. Bear in mind you have to get to the market for about 6am, and I was cooking him for dinner (yes, we got so close 'it' became a 'he' - 'he' even became Herman) - he was in my fridge for a full day, and, well, we bonded. 

When it came to it, it broke my heart to put him into my Lobster Linguine. I did at least manage to kill and cook it, but ended up picking out the pasta and giving what was left to the cat - the guilt was too much. No, I didn't manage to eat him, but I was willing to do the dirty work myself - this pretty much sums up my whole ethos about food - if you're willing to eat it, you should be willing to partake in, or at least be witness to, the pond-to-plate saga.

Anyway, back to that afternoon at the Trout farm. Fishing were just myself, Adam and my three cousins - we were completely left to our own devices, no tutorials here - just grab a rod and catch as many fish as you like, then take them to be weighed and pay for them.

If you ever get chance to catch your own fish and eat it that day - do it. Yes, you have to touch maggots and ultimately hold something in your hand and confront the fact that it's dying because you're planning to eat it - but unless you're vegetarian (in which case, why are you trout fishing?), you should be able to deal with it.

We baked the fish in the oven with green olives, toasted almonds & a little bit of lime and it was, in all honesty, the best fish I've ever tasted - it was unbelievably fresh (the bones came out in one, which I'm told is the sign of fresh fish) and tasted divine


Monday, 25 June 2012

What I've been up to lately...

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned - it's been two weeks since my last post. Two weeks? 'I hope she's got a good excuse', I can hear you thinking...well, I haven't. Long days at work and general lethargy about life have had me getting home, hiding under the covers and not resurfacing until the next day.

While I get my Sh*t together and write up the million things I want to tell you all about, here's a little bit of what I've been getting up to (on the few occasions that I actually have been able to crawl out from underneath my feathery, downy comfort)...

I finally received an email to confirm that these bad boys are on their
way to me from nelly.com following their UK launch party

Football & fun in my favourite New Cross watering hole The Royal Albert

Ryan Callanan's BT Artbox

How amazing is this kitchen-apothecary set from Fortnum's?

I bought this white lily scented reed diffuser as a present for Adam's mum -
but liked it so much I bought one for myself

This makes me feel approximately one thousand times better
about getting up in the morning

My new favourite tipple - first brewed pre-prohibition era, this is perfect
 for drinking in plenty & pretending you're an extra in Boardwalk Empire

With all these long hard days at work, Friday night cocktails have
become a must-have. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Brightening up a dull day...

Today has been a bit of a bad day. My first day back at work after a week of galavanting around the countryside (French & English); it was raining, my alarm went off at 5.30, I was hungry all day after a week of eating whatever I wanted, my feet were killing after a week of not wearing heels...I could go on (but don't worry, I won't).

The day's only saving grace was that I was able to get out of work on time, and so thought I would withstand my foot pain a little while longer and take a wander around the huge Boots on Oxford Street. It sounds horrendously materialistic but when I'm feeling super sorry for myself for no serious reason, a little retail-therapy really does help to beat those blues.

Not that I'm flighty with my purchases though - as I'm sure you do, I keep a mental shopping list on the go of things I'd love to treat myself with, and this seemed like a good opportunity to pick something out.

I've been reading about Real Techniques brushes for ages now - parented by one half of Youtube cosmetic how-to virtuoso Pixiwoo, Sam Chapman's make-up brushes have been causing a storm. Last week I stumbled upon a demonstration she carried out in the aforementioned Boots (Sasha happened upon her appearance, her blog post about it is here), of what she calls her 'Triple-blush' technique (the video in question is here). I tried her technique this morning and, even after two terrible night's sleep, an early morning gym session & accidentally leaving my foundation at home, many a colleague told me I looked 'well', 'refreshed' or 'like I'd caught the sun'. That's good enough for me! I haven't had new make-up brushes for years, so thought this new blush trick deserved the Real Techniques treatment.

I'll be trying them out tomorrow (post work-out, I'm no slacker) and will be sure to give you an update (although from the countless reviews, blog posts & various other love-ins I've read, I'm pretty sure what my opinion will be!).

In the mean time, I'm off to snuggle under my 13.5 tog and watch The Accidental Husband on BBC iPlayer. Yes world, today was that bad.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Monchel-sur-Canche: The Diamond Jubilee, from across the channel

Although I jumped at the chance to spend my week off in France with family, I felt a teensie pang of guilt every time I heard people talk about their Jubilee plans - the whole world seemed to be descending on London and here I was, leaving for the middle of nowhere in a different country, missing out on all the celebrations. 

I needn't have worried - my Auntie, a fanatic when it comes to the Royal family & all things celebratory, had planned & packed everything we needed for our very own Jubilee party. Throw into the equation a bottle of Jubilee Cava Adam's mum gave us to make sure we celebrated the day in style & we had the makings of a party almost fit for the Queen herself. 

We were tempted to hang the bunting outside, but bottled out at the last minute,
thinking it might not go down too well with the neighbours

We sang the national anthem, toasted to our Good Lady Elizabeth & then feasted on roast pork with all the trimmings, followed by a wonderful rhubarb crumble with ice cream. In the house is a lovely old record player and stacks of vinyls picked up from charity shops over the past years - for our party we picked out the most patriotic thing we could find [of course] - the Chariots of Fire original score. We all went to bed feeling extremely patriotic and very full indeed.

How did you spend your Jubilee bank holiday?

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Monchel-sur-Canche: Simon's Prosciutto Chicken

I'm sure you'll all have tasted, or even made for yourself, at least one version of this recipe - I've tested two recipes myself and have probably tasted around three more - but this version created by Simon, my 13-year-old cousin, is definitely the best and also the simplest. His nifty trick of putting the courgettes at the bottom results in some of the most delicious slices of the stuff I've ever tasted.

Simon and his [not so] little helper cooked this for us on our last night in France, and it was the perfect end to our stay.

You'll need:

As many chicken breasts as there are mouths to feed
One pack of prosciutto
Half a courgette per person
Garlic cloves (roughly as many as there are chicken breasts)
Olive oil
Salt & pepper, obvs

Simon & Adam - totes amaze

Preheat your oven to 220°c

Begin by slicing the courgettes and arrange in an oven dish, adding a few glugs of oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper to each layer.

With a really sharp knife, cut three slits into each piece of chicken. Slice the garlic cloves and pop one slice into each of the gaps in your chicken pieces.

Now, wrap one or two slices of prosciutto around each chicken breast, so that it's fully covered.

Arrange on top of the courgettes and give it another few glugs of oil & a nice seasoning of salt & pepper. During cooking, all the lovely juices surround the courgettes, leaving them soft, juicy & flavoursome.

If, like us, you have too many courgettes, you'll need to push them
aside half way through cooking to allow the prosciutto to crisp up

Pop in the oven and cook for around 30 minutes. We ate ours with cous cous, sautéed veggies & a bit of left over gravy, but if you're feeling fancy, serve with potatoes dauphinoise, little baby carrots, asparagus tips & a white wine jus.


Thursday, 7 June 2012


As you may well have gathered from a flurry of excited holiday-related posts, this week I hopped over to France for a few days to spend some time with my Auntie & cousins in their beautiful holiday house in Monchel-sur-Canche, northern France. This tiny rural town plays host to a trout farm and at its last count had a population of just 53. Surrounded by nothing but farming fields it's a complete & utter idyl. Once the sun's gone down you can here nothing but the crickets - I felt a million miles from my life in London.

Not warm enough for a swimsuit, but a paddle was essential regardless

My Aunt & Uncle have had the house for 8 years now but this is the first time I've managed to go and stay - now I know what I've been missing all these years, I can only hope it's not another 8 years before I'm there again - we only stayed for four nights, but you'd be surprised how many adventures & escapades we managed to fit into such a small trip - trout fishing, sightseeing, barbecuing, north-sea paddling, not forgetting our own little Jubilee celebration en France - you name it, we did it. 

I'll be writing up some real gems in detail later on, but for now here's a few snaps from our travels. If you don't mind, I'm off to sleep through my huge cheese & wine hangover from the trip!

Lovely cotes du rhone, fresh macarons & vin blanc, Chicken Fricassée, Moules Frites

There were some tense penalty shoot-outs in the garden

Baby goats at the neighbouring farm, & "Becky" the newt from the garden pond 

We spent our evenings snuggled in front of the log-burner watching The Sopranos