Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Slow cooking, for slow cooks.

So I bought a slow-cooker in the sales. It was down to €35 in Debenhams. I figure that for the rest of the winter, I'll just whack in lots of veggies and stock and a little meat, let it cook for the day and dinner will be ready when I come home from work
I took it for a test drive yesterday.


Sweet potato
Baby potatoes
Pearl barley
Stewing beef
Vegetable stock


Turn dial to 'On'
Go shopping for five hours, stop for a drink on the way home.

A giant, delicious and relatively healthy stew for four!

Everybody should have one of these things, minimal washing up and endless dinner possibilities!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sale away

Inspired by everyone's sale blogs, I decided to hit the shops myself. Never one to shirk a lesser-known store with a great honking SALE sign in the window, I wandered into Shoe Fayre on Oliver Plunkett St. in Cork.
A few weeks ago I was enamoured with a pair of slutty red €100 heels from French Connection so I nearly burst with excitement when I saw these shell-toe platform Maryjanes for... drumroll please... €13!

Fo' realzies!

I also nabbed a sexy little pair of brown leather cowboy boots for 28 clams.

A gold crackle lamp in Dunnes, half price at €25 squids...

AND the cosiest moss-green popcorn throw, half price at €25 in Meadows and Byrne, which Jobe has claimed as his own...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fresh and folksy

I bore easily. Christmas was delicious in every way but now I'm excited about kicking off 2009. It's like when you get a new refill pad or diary, the old one starts to look all tattered and crappy and you make a special effort with your writing in the first few pages. It all descends into scribbles eventually, but it's starting afresh that matters.
I'm always glad when the sequins start to disappear from the shelves, they were always a cop-out, albeit a fun one for December.

"What'll I fucking wear!!?
"Dunno, something festive, just grab a sparkly dress and call a taxi."

Suddenly we have to put a bit more effort into what we're wearing and therein lies the fun. As a theme I'm thinking folk, a lot of patterned knits (loose, to hide my newly acquired beer belly) and slouchy hats, but nothing in red. I'm going mad for military as well, and if you whack it all on together, the cardies, the long, long scarves, the hats and a smart double breasted coat or well cut jacket, it looks quite wintery, but not in a Christmassy way.

I was in lust with the Fusion Blazer, €102 from Monsoon until they decided to keep up their policy of ripping off Irish customers.

Now I've found real love with the beautifully detailed vintage dark green Loden Jacket a mere €24.90 from Austrian Vintage specialists Bows & Bandits

Clever Santa

Guess what he brought? The Lulu Guinness Carmella- in Aubergine as well! Lucky me!
I am also the proud owner of a Swarovski crystal baby frog, which I adore more than any grown woman should.

Other lovely things included:
The Mighty Book of Boosh
Jane Fearnley Whittingstall 'The Good Granny Cookbook'
Gok Wan 'How to Dress'
MGMT 'Oracular Spectacular'
Santolgold 'Santolgold'
Vouchers for the sales (yay)
Dollars for New York (double yay)
Two gorgeous embroidered cushions (one black, one black and gold)

A giant tin of Quality Street (from my teen brother who shopped in a petrol station)

I couldn't be merrier!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Have a very. sexy. Christmas.

Click me

Monday, December 22, 2008


More here

Caped Crusader

The Pedestrian has been hearting feathers for a while now, so imagine my glee at finding this, the Black Broadway Cape, €161 from Monsoon. I can think of very few outfits that wouldn't be improved by this feathery addition, which goes some way in justifying the price.
What I am slightly peeved at is the fact that in the UK, you can snap this up for £95 - despite the pound depreciating to 94.79 pence per Euro.
I'm one Irish person who refuses to be ripped off (to this fucking extent), so for now, Monsoon can keep their gorgeous cape. It'd be cheaper to travel the UK and buy it there, and that can't be right, can it?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Heaven sent

They say you don't know what you got till it's gone, and I've just run out of Lancome Sun Cherub Star Bronzer. This has taken pride of place in my make up bag since the summer - it's the perfect goldy tan colour and it goes on nice and lightly so you never look like you've been licked by the fires of hell.

The chubby little cherub gets mashed into the shimmery sun the first couple of times you swirl a brush in the compact, but when a company goes to this much trouble to show you their product is different, you know it's gonna be good.

I've found a sweep of this topped with a dab of baby pink blusher (Nars 'Super Orgasm' or Chanel 'Illusion') can make a hungover me look like I've got some, gone for a jog and had a facial when really I'm struggling to keep my tea and two Neurofen down.

Around €35 and lasts for ages.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry everyone!

The lovely people at Fota Island Resort just dropped in a hamper of homemade mince pies and steamy mulled wine - drinking at work, it's finally Christmas!

Grey area

Back to colours I can wear and my obsession with everything grey is refusing to subside. The other day I found myself looking at freshly poured concrete wondering where I could find that exact shade in a skinny jean.
My search brought me to Principles. I didn't find the jeans but I did fall into the arms of their grey patent tote bag (€55), pictured with grey Mary Janes (pricey, too pricey for me thankyouverymuch at €100).

The cerise floppy hat is a nice touch, if a bit unnecessary at €45.

Lethally blonde

As Annelicious mentioned earlier this week, deciding on a hair colour and sticking with it is a tricky business. I find blonde is easier to manage and makes me look less dead without make-up, but I envy glossy brunettes daily, especially when it comes to bright colours, which look fresh and zingy on them and pale and dated on me. Boo.

Case in point, the three-button cape from Jane Norman. Spring personified, but only for the dark of lock. Around €70.

Cuff links

A friend of mine pointed out a cuff resurgence a few months ago, having spotted a few on the catwalk, and low and behold, here they are flooding the shops for Spring/Summer 2009. When it comes to metallics, bigger is definitely better, so these two lovelies from French Connection fit the bill at around €20.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finally, sushi to go, in Cork!

God, we've gone into the future... Cork is now home to a sushi bar! Dharma's Deli specialises in takeaway bento boxes and party platters, locally sourced where possible and pretty good value too (1 Futomaki, 1 Chumaki, 3 Nigiri, 2 Hosomaki, €7.50)

If 'twas far from sushi you were raised, they also do noodles, wraps, canapes, cakes and green teas. I've already heard great things from the Smiley Dog tattoo people (their place is upstairs) and the website is making me hungry.

Call in your order Monday - Friday before 11am.
Dharma's Deli deliver after 12pm.
24 Marlboro Street
Cork City


More nice Christmas thoughts here

Monday, December 15, 2008

We're so in love.

You know when you have a picture of something you want to wear in your head, then you go looking for it and nobody seems to have made it? Short of hiring a dressmaker, I thought I'd come to the end of the line in my search for a short, red tartan short-dress, flannel material, pockets at the front (yes, I am that particular). Then I found it, €36, in River Island.

Joy! Then we partied together all night, by way of celebration.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

To market, to market

The kind of place that makes you feel all ‘with it’ and organic and goodie goodie just by navigating its winding, labrinthine passages, Cork’s English Market has long been a tourist-trail favourite. Right up there with the Shandon Bells and Blarney Castle in terms of popularity, the foreigners can’t get enough of it. It’s the raw, bloody, honest-to-goodness realness of the place, the battered butchers blocks, the big cleavers and the angry red men beheading things with them.

There’s a sociable atmosphere that, let’s face it, you just don’t get at your local Tesco. Add to this the current obsession with grocery prices and carbon footprints and you really couldn’t dream up a better way of saving money, helping the planet and supporting local small businesses than shopping at the English Market… so why aren’t you?

While there are plenty of Cork people, myself included, that use the market as their main food source, many visit just once or twice a year for speciality or traditional fare like spiced beef or tripe and drisheen (- you really don't want to know), yet more still use it simply as a short-cut between Princes Street and the Grand Parade. What the passers-by are missing out on is not just fresh produce and Cork culture at its very best, but also an opportunity to make a proper fucking difference.
Home to an abundance of goodies, from fresh steak and organic vegetables to the darkest and most decadent of chocolates, local honey, thick and unctuous, and a variety of Greek olives and stinky local cheeses, the English Market is a foodie tourist paradise, but for you're local and you'd like to ditch the weekly robotic walk around the nearest supermarket, it could be much more.
When I first moved into town, far away from homemade dinners and kitchen cupboards that miraculously refilled themselves every week, I wasn’t incredibly confident of my ability to keep myself alive. I liked watching TV cooking shows, but I was afraid of the actual cooking. It was all the chopping and measuring and pinching of herbs. I didn’t know how to crush garlic but it sounded difficult and you needed special machinery.
A tonne of pasta, umpteen cans of tuna and too many cardboard pizzas later, I’d had enough. Something had to be done. I bought a cookbook, a kids one, and a wooden spoon, because I wanted to look like I meant business.

Four bright red tomatoes, half an organic onion, some fresh Basil (it comes on a plant? Who knew!) a tablespoon of olive oil and two bulbs of garlic were purchased, along with half a pound of mince, which an English Market butcher showed me exactly how to sauté, and I had cooked a meal from scratch! I was hooked. I wanted to cook more things, but I needed some serious guidance.
I decided to experiment with the basic ingredients in the recipes but I had a obsession with overcooking everything in order to rule out Salmonella, which I was and still am very afraid of. I needed some advice, and where better to get it then from the very people who sold me the ingredients? If you don't ask you don't get, so I asked. There wasn’t a fishmonger or butcher in the English Market I didn’t approach for cooking instructions and more importantly, there wasn’t a single fishmonger or butcher in the English Market who didn’t stop what they were doing immediately and gladly divulge their tried and tested methods, tricks and tips.
Not only did these people happily hand over prized family recipes to a random tit without a clue, but they made a point of asking me how it turned out the next time I was passing. Then they patiently dissected all of my dinner disasters until they pinpointed exactly what I had done wrong before supplying a new set of fool-proof instructions that even I could follow.

As if the free advice, quality of service and the electric atmosphere wasn’t enough, the English Market is also the perfect choice for anyone looking to buy food that is not suffocated in plastic. Most of the meat on display is free from packaging, fish is wrapped in brown paper and with a re-usable bag in your hand, it’s possible to do an entire grocery shop without touching a single piece of plastic. If you’re worried about your carbon footprint, you can also be sure your food genuinely hasn’t been flown in from halfway across the world, most market produce is so locally sourced that it’s possible the stallholder drove it there himself and if you want to know for sure, just ask him.
Price-wise the English Market will have you wondering why you ever threw your hard-earned cash away on pre-packaged meat and flavourless, mass-produced tomatoes.
Take the incredible chilli meatballs, six for €3 from Bresnan’s, fresh steak burgers, 75c each from Durcan’s Butchers, ten plump chicken fillets for €11 from The Chicken Inn, juicy steaks carefully chosen to suit your needs at Ashley O’Neill’s, crusty sourdough bread from the Alternative Bread Company for less than the cost of a litre of milk bought from a convenience store. Beats the hell out of the expensive anorexic chicken breasts and extortionate rubbery burgers to be found in the freezer aisle of the more ‘popular’ stores.

The stall holders themselves drive the English Market to achieve on a daily basis what a chain supermarket will never, ever accomplish. They give a shit. Each stall holder has a vested interest in the specific item they are selling. There is nothing the cheese guy couldn’t tell you about Oak Smoked Gubbeen, there isn’t a part of a fish that the staff of Kay O’Connell's couldn’t fry, bake or boil into a meal fit for a king.

The Observer Food Magazine wasn’t kidding when it placed the English Market among the ten best food markets in Europe. While it may not have thousands of free car parking spaces, a ‘Clubcard’ or a ‘Finest’ range, it is home to the best prices, the finest shopping atmosphere, the finest food and the finest folk you could hope to meet on the weekly grocery run.

Get off the internet

... and listen to Sparks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Black beauty

I love the new trend for feathers but there's not a whole lot to choose from in the shops if you don't count those nasty 'dream catcher' earrings. Oasis are a bit vague on the details for this one, except to say that it was designed in collaboration with the Royal College of Art and it's from the winning collection 'Raven' by Liam Evans, Clare McLachlan and Alison Dunlop, but it's bang up to date for a little black dress.
No pricing for the moment, which is probably best because, for a while at least, I'd like to imagine myself owning it and still being able to pay my mortgage.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Put a cake in it.

Well, this is just disgustingly cute.
I've been looking at it now for about two hours and thinking about how cake is potentially the happiest food there is. You never have cake to mark the bad stuff, there's no funeral cake or unemployment cake, no cake for when someone runs into the back of your car or for when you get a passive aggressive email from your boss, there's no cancer confectionery. Cakes are exclusively for the good times.

Everyone seems to be in a shitty mood today, it's all "I'm so lonely around the holidays" and "I miss sausages" and "Woe! The recession".

For crying out loud. Man up, bitches. All this wallowing is royally harshing my buzz.

It really could be a whole lot worse. You could be dead. DEAD! But you're not, you're here, boring everyone to tears with your non-problems and talking on the phone to your stupid buddies at rugby match volume, despite the conversation we had about using your 'inside voice'.
Have a mince pie and shut the fuck up!

Fairy Cake Door Mat, £15.95, DotComGiftShop

This little piggy

If ever an item represented Ireland right now, it is this, the Harry Allen Pig Bank. I can't think of a more thoughtful gift for the disgruntled (I absolutely could. not. help myself, sorry) pig farmer in your life, and nobody trusts the banks anymore anyway so it's the perfect alternative to stashing your cash under the mattress.

It was designed in 2004 (this Allen guy is like a fucking design Nostradamus), cast from a real, if dead, little piggy.

"The Reality take on the classic Piggy bank takes its form from a real pig. 5% of the proceeds from sales of the bank will be donated to The Humane Society of the United States. The Humane Society is dedicated to creating a world where our relationship with animals is guided by compassion. (They) seek a truly humane society in which animals are respected for their intrinsic value, and where the human-animal bond is strong' (taken from their website). Our pig lost its life from natural causes and we are hoping that his likeness will live on to help prevent cruelty to animals everywhere."

Good man Harry, now to decide between hot pink ($95) and shimmery, shiny gold ($190).

Get it here

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I want you, I want you so bad.

Red shoes are sex personified. Trashy sex and a little bit of danger (not always the funnest mixture I'd imagine but you get the picture.)

They say "Yeah, check me out, bitch, you know you wanna get all up in my shoe bidness."

Fo' sho'.

These ones say, "Buy me. Buy me now or we'll walk out of here in the night, hunt you down and dance all over you until you die from it."

I say, "Back off bitches, you're from French Connection and you cost one hundred British pounds. Not only do I have no British pounds, I'm also saving all my clams for New York in January, where it's likely I'll find a pair of your sluttier cousins for half the price. Also, if I take you home now, all my other shoes will look crap and I'll want you all the time. It'll be like taking a lover - a sexy, red leather lover, and that rarely ends well.

I don't know what is about shoes that makes me talk like that. They're the sexy blonde lady to my Gordon Ramsay.

Calling in 'gay'

I love this idea, a few US same-sex marriage supporters are urging people to "call in gay" on Wednesday to show how much the country relies on gays and lesbians.

Organisers of "Day Without a Gay" — scheduled to coincide with International Human Rights Day and modeled after similar work stoppages by Latino immigrants — also are encouraging people to perform volunteer work and refrain from spending money.

I wish I was gay, maybe I could call in 'supportive', although the plan's a little counterproductive, maybe, considering the delicate state of the economy;

"Hi, it's me. I won't be in today, I'm making a stand, I'm calling in gay."
"Fair enough then, you're fired."

But effective nonetheless if you have a very relaxed boss or an outspoken human resources manager. If I could find a hair-colour related cause I'm passionate enough about I might call in 'blonde'. If only someone could discriminate against me.
Or maybe we could call in 'female' in support of women's rights, but that really would be the final straw for the economy. ;)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Flouting the bacon ban, in style.

As a rule, I don't eat anything I have to shave first.
But thanks again B3ta and for the macabre instructional.

(The skeleton head is particularly impressive.)

Top marks

Another winner from a menswear store... the Topman Top Hat, €31. Christmas is always an excuse to go a bit fancy dress with your outfit and you can be guaranteed you'll pull this one out year after year.

Plus, it's designed for a man, so it should fit my extra large head, yays all 'round!

Get lippy

A bit of sparkle is always welcome on a dreary Monday... step forward the Lips Clamp Cuff, €26, Freedom at Topshop. A little pricey, yes, but at what price happiness?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bag lady

Hideously impractical (How do you carry one through a night's boozing without losing it?) and generally too small to fit all the usual junk I carry around in my bag, clutch bags are all over the place at the moment. I'm not a big fan, but this one caught my eye. I think it's the lovely yellowy yellowness of it, Jasper Conran, you devil.

A gem of a bargain

Every time I go shopping I inevitably bring home more costume jewellery. It's an addiction, I can't help it, the stuff is bursting out of every drawer in the house. I might only ever wear it once, but I like to keep it, just in case. Because I usually only wear it once, I prefer to spend as little as possible on passing fads. The latest one is the gemstone fad, fun for Christmas, but not much use afterwards. Dorothy Perkins currently has a blue stone stretch bracelet for €11. I had a snoop around and found something super similar for €3 in... you guessed it... Penney's!

Nine euro saved = free cigarettes for me.


Dorothy Perkins' Blue Stone stretch bracelet
Penney's version, €3

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Calm it, Kermit

Okay, so we're in a recession. People are losing their jobs (a friend of mine is awaiting news on redundancy right this minute) and the shit is hitting the fan as far as the economy is concerned. But this morning's Trendwatcher report said exactly what we should all be thinking, once you get over the initial anger and resentment, this might not be as bad as it seems. If you've been sitting at a desk in a windowless office for the last ten years, now might be a good time to turn it up a notch, take a risk and start thinking about ways to start that business you've been thinking about since you left college.
"This is a great moment to innovate: shrinking budgets and diminishing revenues from existing offerings normally bring out the best and most creative in business professionals. But the most important side effect of more austere times is probably that consumers start questioning what truly makes them happy, which more often than not steers them towards the realization that happiness ain’t (just) about traditional consumption. Expect pockets of consumers to switch to lower-consumption models with surprising ease, and to look for different and less costly sources of happiness and thus, ultimately, status."

In fairness, most of us were drinking Aldi wine long before the 'r' word hit the headlines so it's not going to represent a giant drop in standards of living- maybe we could learn to get by on three bottles a week instead of 12. Need some extra cash to get you by? Sell your car, walk to work, make your own coffee (it's nicer anyway), turn down the heating and put on a jumper, make soup and freeze it for lunches, cancel Sky and read books instead for a few months (you'll still have Corrie and Desperate Housewives!).

TW's umbrella brand for 2009? "Happy ending"
And who doesn't want one of those?

Monday, December 1, 2008

M.A.C attack

There are few things more satisfying than dipping a new paintbrush into a fresh pot of paint. Fully aware of how corny this is sounding, I'm going to press on anyway... I get the make-up equivalent of this delicious feeling each time M.A.C release a new collection. Their colours tend to be deeper, so much more considered, thicker and more unctuous. Proper playthings in plump little pots. Faced with a rainbow of incredible options, you can't help but wonder if violet eye shadow with a sparkling glitter glaze is the way forward. It might be, if you're a tranny attending a fancy dress party (or wearing it around the house dressed in your pyjamas like I do), but if you must live in the real world, there's plenty of office-friendly shades that can be easily jazzed up with shimmer and shine after close of business.

Footloose and debt-free

Okay, so the Gucci Babouska studded open-toes might be beautiful (they look better on than they do in pictures). They might have antique brass hardware and a horsebit ring buckle, but they also have an eye-watering €795 price tag. Step forward Penney's, with their studded gladiator sandal - sporting no less than two buckles, which I prefer. The price? €18 my friend, €18.

You're only going to get drunk and destroy them in some nasty nightclub anyway... with the spare €777 you could destroy them in a nasty nightclub in the Côte d’Azur.

Gucci Babouska studded sandals €795

Studded gladiator sandal, €18, Penney's

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My own, personal Jesus

When we moved into our house last December, the old lady that used to live here (or her lazy-ass family) had kindly left an assortment of crap for us to dispose of. There was a threadbare couch, colour: tartan. There was a linen cupboard full of mismatched pillow cases and random curtains. There was a plastic bag filled to the brim with Japanese school books (?) and Japanese medical supplies (these were pretty cool to look at). So far, so good, all of this stuff could be easily dumped to make way for our own collection of clutter. That was until I went to take down the holy pictures (Jesus, Mary, St. Anthony... all the gang) that were on almost every wall.
I put them all in a pile in the living room intending to hide them in the wheelie bin the following week. As days passed, they started to creep me out. Jesus, with his magicians cape, his heart pouring blood and spitting fire and thorns, his doleful eyes and his spindly fingers reaching out from the frame. Mary, with her know-it-all expression holding a baby with an old man face.
A little note in the corner of one of the pictures says, “I will bless the house in which the image of my sacred heart is exposed and honoured.” That’s a threat if ever I saw one. What he really means is “Take this down and some serious shit is gonna hit the fan.”
Other people agreed that removing them was a bad idea. There was talk of bad luck, curses, fiery pits and a Jihad on our house. The only piece of helpful advice we got was to deposit them in our local church and let them deal with it. This one I considered but it seemed to involve an awful lot more effort than stuffing them in the wheelie bin or just keeping them.
So they still live here, Mary propped up against a bottle of Bacardi in a bookcase and Jesus hanging out, leering at people from above the stove. We figure we’ll just leave them here whenever we sell the place, problem solved!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hardy girls

I'm a big fan of Terry Bradley's stuff. His painted ladies look like proper hardy bitches and the colours are zingy.
Unfortch, most of his originals cost over ten thousand eurons and even at that there's not many around, but what you can get is a stamped and numbered print on textured paper for €190. Fierce!

Top tip

Seriously, I hate bees so much that even putting up this picture is making me retch. Look at his furry little body! Look at his spiky little legs! It looks like he's landed on my screen! I've never even seen one this close before, but if you do allow one to get near enough to you to get stung, just before you pass out with the horror of it, do this:

For wasp stings put vinegar on the wound. This neutralises the irritant.
But with a bee sting you have to use bicarbonate of soda because vinegar has no effect.

It's B for bicarbonate/bees, and V for vinegar/vasps.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Take the floor

Flooring is an expensive business. I love real wood floors, but the budget wouldn't stretch to the cherry beauties I've been lusting after since I picked up my first interiors magazine. Imagine my delight when, having rented an industrial sander for around €80, we uncovered some passable floorboards underneath about ten layers of thick, dark brown and dirty varnish in the bedroom of our ancient Cork city two-bed.

We varnished them for another €30, and while I'm sure most wood experts would tell us they're incredibly damaged (particularly after some brutal and inexperienced treatment with the sander) they're not bad at all. The pic above is pre-gloss, but it shows the pre-sanded shite we were dealing with.

The pic below is what it looks like now, magic!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pretty things

Until I win the Euromillions (something I consider a real financial possibility- so much so that I'm completely avoiding the scary pension plans the banks keep trying to sell me) I generally won't have €435 to put in a wallet, let alone spend on one. But this arty mini-insert by Paul Smith caught my eye. Wouldn't it be nice if there were more nice images inside things that are normally plain and boring? Like when you buy a black winter coat and the lining is bold leopard print or neon paisley.

Wallet, €220, Dolce & Gabanna, Insert, €215, Paul Smith.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy birthday OOAL!!!

Out on Limb is an independent label run by these three beans. On Friday, OOAL celebrated five years of missed deadlines with a bash in Dolans in Limerick. Debauchery ensued. And cake! And dancing with the nicest people in rock.