Monday, 18 February 2013

Monday Moments

I thought it would be a nice idea to have this as a weekly feature!

Currently reading: Love’s Shadow by Ada Leverson

Nail varnish currently wearing:
Contrary Polish Vaudeville (hands) - see it swatched here at Nails and Noms!
OPI Over the Taupe (feet) - see it swatched here at Scrangie!

Quote of the Week:
“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”
             Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Art work of the Week:

Portrait of Princess Marthe Bibesco by Giovanni Boldini, 1911

Girl Reading of the Week: 

Girl with Pigtails, Samuel Henry William Llewellyn (1858-1941)

Weekend Highlights:
  • There was sun!
  • I went for a run in the lovely weather and managed to do 10K! Woo!
  • I made fudge - see my post here.
Upcoming events this week:
  • Book-club on Tuesday, discussing ‘The Price of Salt’ by Patricia Highsmith. I finished reading this last week, but wanted to wait until after the book-club meeting to write about it on here. So watch out for that...!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Maple Syrup Fudge

Today I made fudge! I got a sugar thermometer from my parents at Christmas (I had asked for one...!) and this was the first chance I had had to try it out. I opted to make Maple Syrup Fudge - I love maple syrup so this really appealed to me!

And it was really successful! Here is a fancy looking picture of my fudge...

It's creamy and smooth and everything fudge should be! I plan to take some to my bookclub on Tuesday - if my OH doesn't eat it all before then!

I got the recipe from Miss Hope's Chocolate Box from Hope and Greenwood, which is full of lovely recipes for chocolates and sweets and what not. It has a recipe for Maple and Pecan fudge, but as I wasn't sure about nut allergies for people at bookclub, I left out the pecans. Next time I want to try making either Turkish Delight or Marshmallows from Hope and Greenwood's Life is Sweet.

My Top 10 (well, 12) nail polishes... so far!

With the fairly recent development of my nail polish ‘interest’, I have had come across some really amazing and beautiful polishes, and I wanted to share my favourites here.

My collection isn’t particularly extensive, or varied in terms of brands, though that has slightly been rectified with my discovery of Llarowe and Harlow and Co... Oh dear! Also, as I have said before, whilst my nail polishing technique looks absolutely fine from a distance and stands up to showing friends and colleagues what I’m wearing, it isn’t anywhere near impressive, regular or neat enough to take photos of and share on here! So, I’ve linked to some nail polishes blogs, whose owners have the most beautiful nails and swatches, so you can see what these look like!

Friday, 15 February 2013

The Lady of Shalott

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
            To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
            The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
            And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half sick of shadows," said
            The Lady of Shalott.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
            She looked down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror cracked from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
            The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right —
The leaves upon her falling light —
Through the noises of the night
            She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
            The Lady of Shalott
                                                        Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott
My OH and I often watch University Challenge together, and see how many questions we can each do (his subject is Maths, whereas I can sometimes do the History/English/Art/Classical Music questions!). This week one set of questions were on paintings of The Lady of Shalott, and I managed to impress him with my knowledge!

This is one of my favourite poems, and the subject of two of my favourite paintings, so I was inspired to do a post on them!

I am sure that most people know this painting of the Lady of Shalott by Waterhouse, which is amazing, and is in the permanent collection at Tate Britain:

The Lady of Shalott, John William Waterhouse, 1888, Tate Britain

The contestants on University Challenge were also asked about this painting by William Holman Hunt:

The Lady of Shalott, William Holman Hunt, 1905, Wadsworth Atheneum

Now, I love this painting! I saw it at the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Tate before Christmas - it’s really quite big and the colours are breathtaking – and I currently have it as my wallpaper on my work computer. I love the movement in it – it shows the moment that ‘the mirror crack’d from side to side’ and you can feel that moment of action and crisis as her weaving unravels and her hair flies around. In contrast to some other paintings of The Lady of Shalott, where she is shown in her boat floating down the river, this is full of drama and life. I also read an interesting article once about the Pre-Raphaelites and their fascination with women’s hair in their paintings, and its connotations of eroticism – I love that the Lady of Shalott here is shown here with her beautiful loose hair, rather than a victim lying helplessly in a boat or her passively waiting for something to happen.

There are many other Lady of Shalott paintings; she was a particularly popular subject for the Pre-Raphaelites.

But before we look at them, I also want to mention how one of my absolute favourite nail polish brands, a-england, named one of their ‘Gothic Beauties’ nail polishes after The Lady of Shalott. Clearly, I had no choice but to purchase this... and the rest of the set! This is really beautiful dark nail polish, with a black base and gorgeous blue shimmer. I was impressed when I wore it, as the blue shimmer gave it really lovely depth.

There are plenty of pictures of this on the net, but two of my favourite nail bloggers, Fashion Polish and Ommorphia Beauty Bar (whose descriptions of the polishes are used on the a-england website) have gorgeous swatches of these on their blogs here and here.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Love Poem for Valentine's Day

In honour of St Valentine, I thought today I would share one of my favourite love poems.

This is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from her Sonnets from the Portuguese. Sonnets from the Portuguese also includes the more famous Sonnet XLIII ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’, which is another of my absolute favourites. But I thought today I would share a slightly less well known one.

Sonnets from the Portuguese XXI
Say over again, and yet once over again,
That thou dost love me. Though the word repeated
Should seem 'a cuckoo song,' as thou dost treat it,
Remember, never to the hill or plain,
Valley and wood, without her cuckoo-strain
Comes the fresh Spring in all her green completed.
Belovèd, I, amid the darkness greeted
By a doubtful spirit-voice, in that doubt's pain,
Cry, 'Speak once more---thou lovest!' Who can fear
Too many stars, though each in heaven shall roll,
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me---toll
The silver iterance!---only minding, Dear,
To love me also in silence with thy soul.
I love the idea that you can’t say ‘I love you’ too many times, as it can only make things better, just as more stars in the sky and more flowers in the garden make the world more beautiful. I’ve been picking poems to have as favours for my wedding, and this is definitely going to be one of them. Do you have a favourite love poem?

I am not the greatest Valentine’s Day fan – I don’t like the concept that for someone to prove their love they have to go for an over-priced meals in an over-crowded restaurants, and buy roses which any other day of the year would cost a third of the price.  I always cook a nice meal at home for me and my OH for Valentine's Day, and this year I have got him a card - mainly because this year I am able to buy one with 'fiancĂ©’ on the front!

I also unintentionally picked a Valentine’s Day suitable nail polish to wear today; Illamasqua’s Glitterati. This is sold in a set with Viridian on the Illamasqua website, and I actually got it reduced as part of a little spree I had during their sale. It is a really gorgeous dark raspberry/wine shade with different glitters in, including holographic silver and purple/pink glitters. It’s not too ‘in your face’ but is still really sparkly and pretty. Definitely a new favourite!

I am not even going to attempt to take a photo of it on my nails! But The Polish Addict, who always has the most beautiful swatches, has pictures of it on her blog here.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Welcome to my new blog!

I really wanted to have a blog which would allow me to share with others all the things which I love and make me happy! So expect this blog to contain amazing (!) commentary and insights into...

Books... My book obsession is legendary amongst my friends, family, colleagues (my desk at work even has a little collection in the bottom drawer) – though I am trying to minimise my book purchasing at the moment! I read so many books which afterwards I want to share my thoughts on, and this blog will hopefully allow me to do that! 

Baking...My other love is baking. I love spending time in the kitchen producing cakes, biscuits, cookies and other sweet things – I find the process of baking really relaxing and therapeutic, far more so than day to day cooking!

Nail polish...I currently have a minor obsession with nail varnish. Don’t ask me where from, but in the last few months I have gone from rarely wearing nail polish to wearing it every day and changing it every couple of days! Don’t expect gorgeous swatches from me, but I might occasionally share what I am wearing/have bought!

Art...I thought I’d also be able to put some of my favourite artworks on my blog; I am a bit fan of the Pre-Raphaelites, have many ‘favourite’ painting that are Pre-Raphaelite and also love reading about the artists and their lives.

Outings...although I live in London, I am shameful at going to museums and theatres which are right on my doorstep! I do however occasionally go to a play or the ballet, or to an art gallery, or go to a National Trust house with my OH (we have oh-so-grown-up joint membership!) or do something exciting in London, drink cocktails and so forth, so intend to include these here too!

This is my third, and hopefully final, attempt to start up a blog... I think previous attempts have failed because I had too rigid and restrictive an idea of what I should cover, i.e. books only. And whilst I love (love, love, love) books, it’s not the only thing in my life which I get enjoyment out of and it seems a shame not to include all those other things as well! Also, I put too much pressure on myself to write a particular amount about each book, and to blog so many times a week, which took the joy away from writing down my thoughts about what I had read.

So my plan for this blog is that there are no rules! I will blog about anything I think is interesting or enjoyable and I won’t worry if one week I only blog once and the next I blog 4 times. I hope that any readers I gather will enjoy what I post and don’t mind just going with the flow!