Vintage Finds

Thursday, 27 June 2013

I'm still finding my feet with this blog, there are just so many things I want to mention or write about. This has always been the case with me, I just have too many interests, is this a bad thing? I do wonder sometimes, as it means I do tend to flit about a bit and get very distracted. I'm a bit like a magpie in that sense, drawn to something new and exciting as though it were a shiny piece of foil. I had this conversation with a fellow flitter when I was in London last, she's a writer and editor like me, but has many other passions which seep into her work. She recently set up an online vintage accessories, and I told her how I wanted to set up a vintage homeware store, which I'm glad to say is now in progress. (I've only just started, so forgive the lack of products!) We did however come to the conclusion that it was a good thing to have so many passions, but that it was perhaps a little detrimental to finding focus. What do you think?

Anyway, this isn't a particularly new interest, but I've been getting more interested in hunting for vintage finds since I got to Paris. Which is very easy to do in this city, as every week there is a different brocante (flee market) happening on some street in a different arrondissement. See my previous post here, about where you can find them and what sites to look on for dates and locations. I mentioned in Monday's post that we visited Chartres at the weekend, well one of the reasons I wanted to go, besides seeing the magnificent gothic cathedral, was to go to a brocante or antiques market that was happening in one of the squares. I was looking for some vintage cutlery to style the baking posts I'm going to be doing. So thought I'd show them here along with one of the beautiful plates I found a little while ago, that I'm now selling in my Etsy shop here. Have a happy Thursday!

Chinti and Parker: Breton Stripes

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

I love a good Breton stripe, and even more so now that I'm living in Paris, after all it's part of the uniform. Admittedly I bought practically two of the same tops from COS, except that one had slightly longer sleeves. Stripes are just so easy to wear and go with pretty much everything - I even have a board on Pinterest labelled 'Stripes'. British brand Chinti and Parker do them well, and these are their new Breton styles (I've added the navy and red shirt dress to my wish list). I've been following the label's progress for a while now, as they have a very good thing going. They create designs from conscious cloth - cloth that has been ethically made. Each garment states whether it is organic, fair trade or made in the EU, so you know exactly where you're buying from. Buy them [here]

Baked: Victoria Sponge Cake

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

I'm starting a new series here - I'm going to try my hand at baking. I love collecting images on Pinterest of beautifully-styled foods, so thought I'd give it a go. Once a week I'm going to bake something new - probably something British with a French twist. For my first attempt I've baked a Victoria Sponge cake - adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe. I used to make these when I was little, from the 'We Can Cook' Ladybird book, which I still have, along with old recipes stuffed inside that I used to cook at school. I made this one with salted butter icing (the French twist). I used to be a margarine girl, until I tasted the butter in France. I've never looked back and thought it'd make a great icing. I made so much I smothered a layer on top of the cake too. Forget death by chocolate cake, this is death by Victoria Sponge. 

4 eggs
225g flour
225g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter
1 packet baking powder (I can't for the life of me find self-raising flour, but add a sachet of this magic
stuff seems to do the trick)
rind of half a lemon
a splash of milk 
punnet of strawberries
strawberry jam

For the icing:
250g icing sugar
100g salted butter 
splash of water

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF and then grease the sandwich tins before lining them with greaseproof paper. When they're done, mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl until they're soft and creamy (try to wait until the butter is at room temperature, it'll make it easier to blend) then slowly add the eggs in one by one, beating each one into the mixture before the next. Then sift in the flour, add the packet of baking powder, and finally grate in some lemon rind - I would only grate half a lemon, otherwise you'll end up with sponge that tastes a little more like lemon cake, now there's an idea. Separate into the two sandwich tins and pop in the oven for around 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. 

For the icing, mix the butter and the icing sugar together and add in a splash of water to soften. 

When the cakes are done, let them cool and then cover the base in icing followed by a layer of strawberry jam. Then add a layer of thinly sliced strawberries. Don't put two much on or the jam will slide down the sides and end up in a big mess on the plate (I learnt the hard way). Then add the second sponge layer and either dust with some icing sugar, or if like me you made a little too much icing, you could add to the top. Et voila! 
[photography: Marissa Cox]

A Day Trip to Chartres

Monday, 24 June 2013

Morning! I had a pretty packed weekend, Friday was Fete de la Musique in France, so there were loads of parties happening around Paris. We went to a Hawaiian rooftop party, with all the trimmings. There was a BBQ, tropical trees, open bars served by boys clad in Hawaiian shirts, and as well as DJs on the roof, there was also one downstairs. It felt more like a club than someone's flat. On Saturday, I helped host a friend's baby shower, which involved baking in the morning, with a pretty terrible hangover (the punch was just too good) and then legging it over to her apartment to help decorate and set up. After a few hours of lots of eating, and oohing and ahhing over baby gifts, I popped home for a nap and then headed out again in the evening for her leaving do - she moved to Dubai yesterday to be with the baby's father. 

Sunday we took a day trip to Chartres, a beautiful old town just south west of Paris, famous for its 12th century UNESCO heritage gothic cathedral. I've been wanting to visit since I finished Kate Mosse's Labyrinth, which the cathedral and more importantly the labyrinth featured in. After an hour and a half drive we re-fuelled at La Picoterie creperie with some savory galettes, followed by a sweet one smothered in the most delicious salted caramel syrup. After scooping up every last drop of caramel, we ventured outside into the very un-summer blustery weather and over to the cathedral, which dominates everything in its surroundings. In fact its towering spires were the first thing we saw when we were still 20 minutes away on the motorway. They are impressive, as is the rest of the cathedral. I felt very small entering through the large wooden doors and you can practically feel the history seeping out of the stones. Inside it's beautiful, with stained glass windows and carved stone. 

There were plenty of tour guides and tourists milling about, but I did manage to take a few snaps of the labyrinth inlaid into the stone floor. Apparently on Friday the chairs had been cleared to reveal it in all its glory to celebrate the Summer Solstice, which I would have loved to have seen. After taking in the sights and sounds of the cathedral, when went back outside to find a brocante - the other reason I wanted to visit Chartres yesterday, as I knew there would be a big one happening in one of the squares. We wandered around the various antiques stalls searching for some cutlery and found a couple of old spoons, a knife and a fork that I plan to use for baking. Visiting a brocante is a good thing to do if you plan a day trip to Chartres on a Sunday as there's not a huge amount open or to do in the town besides have a nice lunch and visit the cathedral. Have a great start to the week. 

[Photography: Marissa Cox]

Thisispaper Shop Look Book

Friday, 21 June 2013

Happy Friday! Hope you had lovely weeks, I'm finally getting back into blogging and I've been investigating a lot of food blogs recently for styling and photography tips. I'm going to start baking for the blog - my first experiments will be happening this Saturday as I'm co-hosting a friend's baby shower here in Paris. I already have a few recipes in mind, I won't mention them yet in case they go horribly wrong, but I did want to show you these beautiful photos, shot by Julia Kubisty for Thisispaper's new(ish) shop that are currently inspiring me. Thisispaper is a Warsaw-based online magazine that describes itself as following 'one original idea - modern spirit is sensual, emotional, social and harmonious' (a really beautiful description), and who decided to go 'analogue' recently by selling beautiful fashion and home ware products that are in line with their aesthetics. I love the simplicity of these shots that Julia took for their look book, with the muted pastel colours that make everything, even the purple cabbage look completely appetising.

Paris to London

Thursday, 20 June 2013

I've been in London, so it's been a little quiet on the Paris front. Whenever I go to London, Parisian life has to be put on hold as I'm usually running around London like a little headless chicken trying to see as many people as possible. Last Wednesday (fittingly) I attended Art Wednesday's Nice To Meet You, which consisted of two brilliant, but very emotional talks - one by music artist and composer, Robin Rimbaud, aka Scanner who talked about how sound and music have the ability to conjure up memories, and the other by the ever-inspiring, Professor John M Hull, all about his experience of going blind. I was also incredibly pleased to be invited to the launch of volume two (above) of my magazine du jour, Cereal at Albam in Spitelfields Market, by its editor Rosa. There I munched on tasty bread from Daylesford Organic and chatted all things food. Over the weekend I trained it down to Canterbury and Deal to see my family and on Tuesday I popped into Fashion East's Mens Collections space to see Meadham Kirchhoff's presentation. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to a weekend in Paris!

June Wish List

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

I am totally confused with what's going on with the weather this year, as I'm sure everyone is who lives in Europe. Last week I really thought that summer was finally here, after the worst winter that I can remember. We spent a lovely evening having drinks outside Grazie, a great Italian pizzaria established by the son of Merci (see what he did there?) The evening was warm and balmy - the perfect summer night. But we then went to the south of France and what was predicted to be a hot sunny day on Saturday, turned cold and rainy all day. And this week it's been cloudy and chilly again, so when picking my wish list for June, I didn't really know where to start, so I kind of sat on the fence with this one.

First up, a versatile summery top by one of my favourite brands for chic basics, KAIN that can be worn in on warm or chilly days, closed toe shoes - I do love these Sandro ones, which again will work in the summer and when it's colder, and then I went for this cosy blanket by Toast. As I type this I am wrapped in a blanket on the couch - you can never have too many blankets to snuggle up in, whatever the weather. I also love these simple, but stylish hanging pendant lights from Merci, which would make either good reading lights or lights to hang over a dining/kitchen table - a twist on the exposed bulbs which are really popular right now. Noemi Klein's gold ring is a really individual piece - I like quirky rings with texture and Martyn Thompson's Interiors (chosen partly for matching the top) features gorgeous inspiring photos of interiors he's photographed such as the home of Anna Sui and Calvin Klein's Creative Director.

1. Lula silk-chiffon top, Kain
2. Anaconda baskets, Sandro
3. Glass Lamps, Merci
4. Mouse Spine ring, Noemi Klein
5. Interiors by Martyn Thompson, Amazon
6. Macausland's blanket, Toast

Weekend in pictures #1: Espeluche

Monday, 10 June 2013

I've just come back from a brilliant weekend spent at a friend's parents' place in Espeluche, Drome a region in the south east of France, so thought I'd share a few photos with you. It was the perfect weekend getaway - the house was a beautiful old villa, big enough to sleep all ten of us comfortably,  surrounded by lush, green land, just at the foot of a hill. Oh and did I mention there was also a pool? The weekend consisted of eating and cooking - we BBQ'ed, baked, boiled, roasted, fried and toasted - played Petanque (boules in English), a game I'll very happily take up in Paris (I got quite good towards the end), spots of sunbathing, laughing and of course a lot of drinking. I can't wait to go back!

Petit Paris: Fish

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Image credit: Fishing in a fish print, available [here]

There is a current culinary craze hitting Paris, and it's not meat, or burgers for that matter. No, it's all about fish. So I thought I'd give you a little run down of the most recent fish restaurants to open, where you can taste the delights of the sea and have a change from those meat-heavy dishes that the city is so famous for.

Fish Club

I'm going to talk about the most recent first, as this place literally popped open two weeks ago to quite a fanfare, which is no surprise considering it was launched by the team behind the Experimental Cocktail Club, Curio Parlor and Beef Club. Fish Club is a Peruvian-style fish tapas bar, so expect oysters, crab and lots of raw fish (ceviche). It also serves lovely cocktails, is decorated like a chic beach hut and has a terrace - perfect for warm sunny days.

58 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Le Mary Celeste

Owned by the founders of Candelaria and Le Glass, this place has a simple, but sweet concept. Cocktails and oysters, easy. Of course if you don't like oysters, this won't be the place for you, but if you do, and you like nothing better than slurping down oysters while sipping on a tasty cocktail or glass of cold white wine (my mouth is watering, just writing this) then I suggest you book a table there now.

1 rue Commines

Lobster Bar

Inspired by the humble hot dog, chef Mathieu Mercier decided have a little fun with what he could put in a bun. So he opened Paris' first lobster bar, serving up lobsters in hot dogs. It's a tad strange I know, but somehow it seems to work. Each lobster dog is dished up with tarragon and mayo sauce with a side helping of fries and a salad. It is a little steep at €26 a serving, but you're paying for the experience - the place also looks like an old ship, with wooden benches and white wood panelling, which will make you feel like you've embarked on a voyage out to sea.

41, rue Coquilliere

And a few of my other favourite fish and seafood restaurants are Japanese Rice & Fish, Huitrerie Regis, a teeny tiny place with only four or five tables and Fish La Boissonerie, which although I haven't been, is meant to be very good.

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