Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Sunday Times shows some blogger love

The Sunday Times is all over us bloggers this week. There's a properly excellent piece by India Knight (herself blogging here) on women bloggers, which mentions many of my blog faves including the incomparable MTFF, a piece by Belgian Waffling on her blogging addiction with a beautiful picture of a waffle BW herself, and last and very much least, a couple of acerbic comments in the Style section on Anna Wintour's mufti from Show Me Your Wardrobe & myself.

The Times online didn't run the photo we are commenting on, so I reproduce part of the piece below (I think we can all agree I am probably off La Wintou's Christmas card list now):

Blog off! What our bloggers think of Anna Wintour in dress-down shocker
Staring at Anna Wintour across the Fashion Week catwalks, I’ve always wondered what she might wear if she did normal. And now I know: she looks just like my mother. But with shinier hair.

Anna Wintour mufti

( I would like to make it clear that my mother is the chic-est mother I know.)

Another thing I love about America

Carvel drive thu

The drive thru ice cream store

The way of the blogroll

Inspired by a mea culpa blogroll post on my friend MTFF's most excellent blog, I thought that this may be a good point at which to lay out the LLG policy on blogrolls.

I have more or less stopped regularly maintaining the LLG reciprocal blog roll which lurks at the bottom of this page. It's just a bit out of control now. I do get the odd request for inclusion which I file in a dedicated folder and every two or three months I go through it and add and subtract as necessary.

Instead of using blogrolls to keep track of other blogs as I did in the days when LLG was a tiny blog, I now use an RSS reader – Google Reader in my case, Bloglines, previously, where feeds to hundreds of blogs to which I have subscribed are aggregated so that I can read all the latest blog entries in one convenient place. I have a folder for everyone that leaves comments regularly on my blog so that I can repay the favour when I can, one for other fashion blogs, one for everyday reads, one for everyday miscellany and so on. If I were to use blogrolls on LLG to do this, the lists would run pages long.

I choose not to use Blogger Following for the same reason, although I make it available for my readers who do choose to do so: the list would be too long to manage. (I will also be leaving Blogger in the near future, so it makes sense to have my blog lists held externally.)

So don’t assume that because you aren’t on a blogroll on LLG or that I haven’t ‘Followed’ you, that I don’t read you – ten to one, I’ll be voraciously reading your latest posts through my RSS reader.

I do have two blogrolls which are relatively up to date: the list of my personal friends who blog, because otherwise they’d be lost in the endless blogroll at the bottom of LLG; and the Thank you for Mentioning LLG list, which acts as a personal recommendation & thank you to those blogs or websites and an aide memoire for me of the things that have been said about LLG out there in the ether.

But there are often omissions – if you don’t use Blogger Following, adding blogs to a blogroll is a bit more complicated than a one click action and, most importantly, don’t forget that LLG is not a paid project, so money work has to take precedence over blog admin, much as I wish that wasn’t the case.

So, if you are someone with whom I have a proper two way relationship, ether or real world, and I haven’t included you, prod me – as MTFF did recently and tell me, rather than glowering away in the ether. I’ll be grateful, mortified, and do my best to rectify it immediately.

Ex-pat friendships

One of the best things about moving to America has been the friendships I have made here. Some are with people I knew already from England, but not well, others are with people I have met since I arrived.

As an ex-pat you never know where or if you will find your niche. Although I knew no one when I first landed, (the girl I moved here with went back to England after six weeks), I was adamant early on that I would not be a puppy dog making friends with everyone in sight just for the sake of avoiding loneliness and now, over 2.5yrs, that plan has paid off admirably: I have a core of a few great friends that I love dearly in both New York & in LA, rather than scores of people I barely know.

And, without trying, they are all enmeshed together, which I rather like, whether through LLG, Twitter or real life. Take last night for example: I know my wonderful hosts here in Joisey, GG & Y, through my close friend H who introduced us four or five years ago in London, well before we all made the move to America. When H started dating M in London, she was just about to move to New York from Baghdad, so we were introduced on one of my trips back to London, & she & I became firm friends ex-Henry in Manhattan. I met fabulous J through another friend, Brig, in New York and introduced her to M, H & the boys some time ago.

All of us came together for supper here in Colts Neck last night to celebrate Halloween, H&M's recent marriage, impending baby and new house purchase (in London - gd for them, bad for me), and Y's new American work visa.

So we were two Americans, one Frenchman, one New Zealander and two English people. And, if we count the dogs, which I certainly think we should, then we can add one Estonian & one American Basset Hound. Which just about sums up America for me: one big melting pot of fantastic people.

Friday, October 30, 2009

NMSF Christmas Cards

NMSF Christmas card

Four years ago Rachel & Andrew Canter lost their baby Jake, my dear friend Emma's nephew, in wholly avoidable circumstances. In his memory, they set up a registered charity, the National Maternity Support Foundation, which works to improve maternity care, stop the closure of maternity units and, given that it is Jake's charity, improve bereavement counselling following the death of a baby.

I know charity support is a very personal thing and, as I have so many wonderful mothers who read LLG, I thought I would let you know that NMSF are selling Christmas Cards to raise money, which you can view and purchase here.

FRIDAY GIVEAWAY!: Five pairs of Etre Touchy gloves

I have a special Friday giveaway today: the makers of the Etre Touchy lambswool fingerless gloves which I featured yesterday were so happy with the response from y'all that they have offered five FREE pairs of gloves for LLG readers.

All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what gadget you'd use (maybe a camera or iPod) or job you'd do whilst wearing your gloves (photographer or make-up artist perhaps), and I'll uses a random number generator to pick five winners on Monday afternoon. This giveway is open to readers worldwide.

Please state which colourway you'd like:
Charcoal with turquoise trim, Grey with rose trim, Black with charcoal trim or Chocolate with mint stripes.

etre touchy grey

Object of Desire: Monique Péan Holgate Ring

Monique Pean Holgate ring

Holgate ring by CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Monique Péan.
18 carat recycled yellow gold with a 4 carat aquamarine $2850

Previous Objects of Desire here

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Now, where was I?

Well, it’s all go here in the East Coast’s version of Stepford (my fellow blogger MTFF lives in the West Coast’s). I did dusting today in preparation for our pre-Halloween supper party tomorrow, and managed to finish the ironing which has been on top of the washing machine for two weeks. (All of you who came here for tales of fashion-related New York glamour may leave now.)

Our Halloween pumpkins are carved and they would have been in position on the front door step, looking suitably scary, but for the ravening local wildlife which took a large chunk out of the bat pumpkin overnight.

We brought them indoors for safety this evening, only to discover a few hours later that the puppy had chewed out the bat’s eyes. There’s obviously some Sophoclean metaphor to be drawn from this but frankly I can’t be arsed to work it out.

I’m still ploughing through the Gmail inbox of hell. I managed to clear out the LLG one last week, which was relatively simple as I only had 452 unread emails and most of them were press releases pushing soap powder, erotic chocolate, and designer collaborations thought up by FMCG marketing gurus with giant cheque books and dumbass clients. I have created a folder called ‘Lunatic Story Pitches’, the contents of which I shall no doubt regale you all with one day.

Unfortunately I have 958 unread emails in my work Gmail account which is more daunting, as not only do they have to be read but most of them require some kind of action to be taken. I’m quite surprised that I have any friends left, given that the chances of my replying to their email, let alone writing one off my own bat, before I have dealt with the work backlog, is less than zero right now.

I’m also planning England: The Return. It’s not a permanent one, thank Christ, but I am flying back for six weeks or so before/over Christmas to finish The Great Attic Clearance™, remove my mother from the iron grip of divorce-related neurosis, drive my sister to the point of insanity by spreading my possessions over all surfaces of her one bedroom flat, acquire some more parking tickets for my father's car, and prod the faithful hound.

Blog Awards & Memes

I have been very remiss over the past six months in acknowledging blog awards and memes. I'm about to do a big catch-up post on LLG, so if you are one of the lovely bloggers who has been kind enough to give LLG an award that I haven't acknowledged on here, I'd be very grateful if you could leave a comment here to remind me, or drop me an email at libertylondongirl at

Thank you! LLGxx

Etre Touchy sort of Fingerless Gloves

etre touchy sushi

When I first received the press release about Etre Touchy fingerless gloves I thought what the Dickens? Another ho ho ho one time buy stocking filler.

But I dutifully hopped over to their website and had a look around. And by the time I'd thought about it some more, I thought they were kind of genius.

Their raison d'etre is to allow you to manipulate iPods, crackberrys, etc without removing your gloves in cold weather. At first, I had thought God how addicted do you need to be to wear a silly looking glove just to be able to play with tech toys? Then I remembered how many times I've tried to text or use my Nano with gloves on - epic fail. So I guess if you are in an outdoor situation where access to a communication device is vital then these would be a winner.

But what really sold me was this picture:

etre touchy camera

Because if you *have* to work outdoors - as a photographer, stylist or makeup artist on a shoot, for example, then these could be absolute lifesavers. They work too for reading braille.

And they come in a suitably James Bond colourway too for macho men:

etre touchy black

Unlike other ones I've been shown, they are 100% lambswool, and are available in Charcoal with turquoise trim, Grey with rose trim, Black with charcoal trim or Chocolate with mint stripes. Large orders can be custom coloured which would be great for teams etc.

£19.99 or $32.63 at

Nicolas de Stael

Tempete Nicolas de Stael

Nicolas de Stael
Ciel de Dieppe ou Les Toits (1952)

Cap Gris Nez

I first saw Nicolas de Stael's paintings in the Musee Picasso in Antibes in 2000. I just stood there staring, transfixed/ A few years later he was the subject of a major retrspective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and I wandered through completely lost in his world. He isn't so widely known outside of France, as he enjoyed success as a painter for just ten brief years before committing suicide in 1955. If you'd like to know more, his wiki entry is here

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Groundhog Day

I was complaining only yesterday that, whilst we have herds of Bambis frolicking over the lawns here, groundhogs are in particularly short supply now that hibernation time approaches.

I am very taken with these furry native American creatures: I had my first sighting ever from a car in July and was beside myself at the cuteness. But today is the first time I have actually seen one up close, pottering around the back yard. It mooched around for five or so minutes, before shuffling back into the undergrowth. Made my day.


ps Just discovered that they are also known as whistle pigs. Love.

Starbucks Via Instant Coffee

I work from home and loathe milky coffee, so grabbing a Starbucks isn’t a priority in my life. Occasionally I pick up a black venti red eye between external meetings if I am flagging or sleep deprived, but that’s it. I'm more interested in the coffee I drink at home.

Because I drink my coffee black, without any artificial sugars or syrups or any of that weird shit, how it tastes straight is of paramount importance to me. I want a strong, bitter taste with a round finish that doesn't taste burnt or caramel-y.

As you may have gathered I’m English, so instant, as we call it, is ubiquitous back home. I’m not going to pretend it’s better than freshly brewed coffee, but Nescafé's Black Gold, Cap Colombie & Alta Rica, or Carte Noire are more than adequate as backup everyday drinks when you can't be bothered to brew a pot for one person, certainly better than most filter/drip coffees you buy from stands or corner stores – and they are strong, with absolutely no relation to the insipid instant coffee you can buy in American supermarkets.

The only reason why I don't bother with instant here in the US is because of the dearth of good instant on the American market, & I am presuming that that is why Starbucks are pushing their new instant coffee, Via, right now.

But Christ it’s expensive: $2.95 for three servings!

The most expensive UK instant coffee I could find on was Nescafé Black Gold at £3.55 per 100g grams. A serving is considered to be 1.8gms. That makes a serving cost of 6p or 9c give or take.

How HOW can Starbucks justify $1 a serving?! It's not as though Starbucks coffee is *that* delicious in the first place.

And, here’s the kicker: Via is absolutely disgusting. I was given a sample at a Starbucks store yesterday: it tastes acrid & charred with no roundness. Possibly the most disgusting coffee, instant, or fresh brewed, I have ever tasted: I couldn’t even bring myself to finish the little sampler cup. Yuck.

Good luck with that Starbucks.

Soothing morning viewing

This was shot three years ago but I never tire of watching it.

And, in case, you were wondering how 250,000 rubber balls were poured down one of the steepest streets in San Francisco, here is the making of film:

(via Inspire Me Please)

Minnetonka Moccasins

Minnetonka Women's Moosehide driving moc

I am obsessed with Minnetonka moccasins. Obsessed, I tell you. This burning love crept up slowly over a few years, and has developed into a long lasting relationship.

It all started back in 2006, when a very nice man, who worked next door to the idiot boy I was then dating, invited me to his office to have a squint at the shoes he imported from the US to the UK.

Being a fashion editor an’all, I was intrigued. In the small room were multiple shelves of moccasins. So far, so whatever.

Then I tried on the Moosehide Driving Mocs. Instant convert. The super thick cushioned inner sole is marshmallow soft; they were definitively the most comfortable shoe I had ever worn. (One of the reasons that they are so comfy is that traditional moccasins, unlike normal shoes, have their sides and sole constructed from one piece of leather which is then sewn to the upper, and which allows the shoe to flex and shape itself to your foot.)

The very nice man generously gifted me two pairs, the marshmallow-y driving shoes and a pair of classic beaded Thunderbirds, but I was busy being a high heel wearing fashion editor and, when I moved to New York a few months later, there just wasn't much call for flat shoes in my life.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year just after I left my US magazine. Running around on assignment in New York and driving nearly 5000 miles around California, I needed comfortable everyday shoes. I dug out both pairs and I've pretty much worn them to the exclusion of anything else. It doesn't hurt that they suddenly look right with everything from bare legs & shorts to skirts & opaque tights.

Minnetonka Thunderbird LLG
(My feet in Santa Barbara back in April)

They also make those suede moccasin boots that are always being photographed on Kate Moss et al. (Minnetonkas are the ur-moccasins in the American commercial market: they've been making them since 1946.)

UK: (official website, every style available)
US: Net a Porter (ankle & knee boots only)
Zappos (Neither style pictured above but a pretty wide selection nonetheless) (very wide selection including the ones above)

They are substantially cheaper in the US, but I don't advise UK purchasers to order them from US websites: by the time customs, taxes & postage are paid, the difference often evaporates.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to carve a Halloween pumpkin

Head out in pouring rain to farm stand:

Chrysanthemums & pumpkins

Give self muscle spasm pushing autumnal accoutrements to car:

Chrysanthemums & pumpkins

On arrival back home take two pumpkins:


Place on steps for carving inspiration:

house exterior with Basset

Take high class carving tools:

pumpkin carving kit

For the terminally stupid:

pumpkin scraper

Make a lid:


Ignore wonkiness caused by using pixie sized 2" mini saw (because no one trusts you with the carving knife).

Wrench lid off:

pumpkin carved lid

pumpkin interior

Spend twenty minutes removing fibrous insides, obsessing over every last seed:

carved out interior pumpkin

Abort plan for complicated stencil & go for simplest possible design in line with personal creative abilities. Carve out shapes with doll size instruments:

carved pumpkin halloween

Ta da:

jack o lantern doorstep

Am pumpkin carving genius.

Believe this is so until Y presents finished pumpkin forty minutes later:

bat pumpkin


Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween build up

pumpkin patch

Goodness I AM excited about Halloween. This year I say no darlinks to glitzy Manhattan socializing (Heidi Klum's annual Halloween party et al) & too many ambitious plans, and yes siree to the joys of pumpkin carving, trick or treating, and eating as much candy as I can possibly manage in the rural environs of Colts Neck, New Jersey.

My great friend H works with my host GG, and is flying in from London to NJ for business. Completely brilliantly his wife (and my lovely friend too), M is coming along, so we have decided to have a pre-Halloween Raclette supper party here on Friday, before we ramp up for the continuous doorbell ringing on Saturday.

Striped pumpkins

Tomorrow we start the pumpkin carving. There will be photographs taken, as long as I don’t slice open an artery. (GG has banned Y & me from using any large knives – we are both uninsured and I have dyspraxia - so we should be okay.)

Sriped gourds

Photographs: New Jersey pumpkins & gourds last weekend in Colts Neck

Ann Louise Roswald clogs

Chanel clogs

Revolting: Chanel SS10

If you really feel it is imperative to buy into the clog trend, now that Karl & Marc (kitten heel clogs? Kill me now), have given it a stamp of approval for next season, may I suggest eschewing their eye watering markups, and buying a traditional pair of clogs from talented fashion designer Ann Louise Roswald instead?

She's known primarily for her beautiful prints and lovely pieces, but Roswald’s Swedish father was originally a clogmaker, and in her early collections Ann Louise used her own customised clogs. She has since opened The Clog Studio as an extension of the Ann Louise Roswald brand and sells traditionally made Swedish clogs with orthapeodic wooden soles for women and children. They come in a dazzling array of colours, but just three simple styles.

The Sophia clog pictured is £56 for children & £95 for women.

The Clog Studio

Ann Louise Roswald Clog Sophia Choc Lemon

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall colors in Cheesequake State Park, New Jersey

The fall colours are extraordinary in New Jersey this weekend,

Cheesequake Park tree

so the five of us (me, Y, GG & les chiens x2) drove out to Cheesequake State Park, Matawan (up near the shore), for a stroll which turned into an epic 2.5hrs walk as we took a slightly longer trail than planned.

Fortunately we were well prepared: GG had ample cookie, apple & water supplies to keep us going in his knapsack. Although maybe next time I might swap denim short shorts, cashmere, Wolfords & wellies for fleece, jeans and hiking boots. (I do possess these things!)

We started off walking through the woods around the lake:

Cheesequake Park Fall Colors a

light through trees Cheesequake Park

After circumnavigating the entire lake, we ended up at this vista point, where it's hard to believe that we were a scant hour from Manhattan:

Hook Lake Cheesequake Park

We then headed over the boardwalks which cross the coastal salt marshes to the pine forest:

Salt march Chessequake Park

Salt marsh Cheesequake Park

Finch was game:

Finch Cheesequake Park

But was exhausted by the time we were three quarters done:

exhausted Finch

As were we.

God knows why I thought it a Good Idea to do commando style speed trotting up and down the steep wooden forest steps half away around the trail. Lunacy.

There are more images on my Flickr page.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Single women & the plague of married men

Why is it that I frequently seem to act like catnip on other women's partners and husbands? It certainly isn’t because I dress provocatively, (my cleavage never comes out to play), and it isn’t because I am a flirty kind of person. Frankly, if I was good at unconscious flirting, I wouldn't be single.

Perhaps I present some kind of challenge? Whatever, it upsets me that I am somehow filed in the 'try it on' category by men already in committed relationships. For the record, my father is a notorious philanderer & I have seen the effect that his actions have had on not just my mother but on his string of long term mistresses. I will never be one of those women.

So how is it that yet another man - married, oh quelle effing surprise, - told me recently that I was trouble. I am NOT flippin’ trouble. Don't try to make me responsible for your lack of self control: I'm not the married one making a pass at a single girl who has not even vaguely intimated any sexual interest in you. I have never, ever chased, come on to, or got involved with a married man knowing that he was married. If a man in a relationship thinks I am initiating something then their ego is on fire.

My sister has a theory: that she & I are self conscious & uptight when we are around men we find attractive, but when we are with men who are off limits we relax and consequently are much better company. The kicker is that the stupid vain fuckers mistake our platonic enjoyment of their company for attraction. That in itself wouldn't be a problem if they were able to control themselves. But they can't.

I also think that some men in relationships like to feel that they are still players by flirting with other women. There are also the men who married early, who have become more attractive, confident & successful with age and finally realise that intelligent, challenging women can actually be a good thing but by then it's too late.

Who knows? One could theorise for ever. Whatever the case I am just thoroughly, thoroughly fed up with the inane behaviour of so many married men. I have lost count of the amount of men who have spent an evening flirting with me, buying me drinks, and then revealing their sad punchline at the end of the evening: "I've got a girlfriend/wife". (That's the bit where I then disappear in a puff of smoke.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Birthday raclette

Two weeks ago today Y managed a double whammy birthday present for GG: a Raclette machine was bought, wrapped and given to GG. Once unwrapped, it was promptly plugged in and we revealed the bowls and plates of Raclette cheese, peppers, prosciutto, boiled potatoes, onions & gherkins.

Along with a rather good bottle of white Burgundy (to follow the bottle of Taittinger we had already consumed). Fortunately, the drinking of water with Raclette cheese is much frowned upon as it is said to interfere with the digestion of the cheese. The Swiss really are very clever.

Raclette place setting

Raclette meal

So I start with one abstemious potato:

plain boiled potato

Then the melted dish of Raclette is removed from under the hotplate and the cheese is slid over the poor, lonely potato:

Raclette cheese over boiled potato

But wait! There's one final step:

raclette potato with paprika

Paprika sprinkled, one can start shoving melted cheese & potato down one's gullet as quickly as possible. Just in time for the next dish of melted cheese to appear to accompany the next potato. And so on.

I wish I could say that I had stopped eating after I'd finished smearing umpteen little dishes of melted Raclette cheese all over my face. But no. There was more:

Chocolate birthday cake with candles

Y made a ganache & caramel layer cake of such richness and badness and 65% chocolate that I could only manage a slice. But goodness what a slice it was:

Chocolate cake ganache

I need to take up running. Or something.

Maison Michel PVC Hat with Mouse Ears

Maison Michel PVC rain hat ears


Maison Michel PVC Hat with Mouse Ears - £70.00 from Browns

Clothkits Liberty Print Tana Lawn Bias Binding

Liberty Print Bias Bindings Tana Lawn

This is somewhat of a special interest post, but for those of us with a crafty bent, who like sewing things, the news that wonderful Clothkits are now producing Liberty Print Bias Bindings in Tana Lawn is fabulous news. (Bias binding is normally very hard to find in anything other than basic colours and crispy cotton.)

It would make a wonderful trim for jackets and, of course, is perfect for cushion making or, as Clothkits suggest, for decorations or bunting too.

It's available by the metre and in seven colourways, listed in order that they are stacked from top to bottom: Dunclare, Dunclare, Caesar, Jenny's, Theberton, Janet's Rose, Miles Evans.

To find out more about Clothkits, read my post from earlier this year.