Janet Leigh

I came across this photo while I was procrastinating on myvintagevogue.com.

I love everything about this look, from the casually turned up collar, the perfect shade of red lipstick on the cheeky smirk, the extended arch eyebrows to the simplicity of her dark blonde hair. And, obviously, the car. I believe this is Janet Leigh of The Manchurian Candidate/Hitchcock's 'Psycho' fame, but looking much less like the usual ice-queen with white-blonde hair (hence my difficulty in identifying her!) and all the more wholesome for it. I just wanted to post this because I thought it was quite inspiring, it's very much how I think I could look on a good day if I made the effort. 

C x

P.S. I've just deleted around half the old posts of the blog, which I had meant to do when I switched over from the old useyourtulle URL but hadn't gotten around to yet. I don't think anyone was ever reading them anyway, but just to let you know, because I want to streamline the blog a bit more towards budget shopping and charity shops. It feels like it could be my niche.


To Buy or Not To Buy?

I am considering buying myself a posh leather satchel as a graduation present to myself. I've probably already justified countless things in the last few months with this excuse, but this is something that I really can't afford off the bat, and would need to save now for, or require a howk into savings.

I really love the ones by the Cambridge Satchel Company, they're a lot less expensive than other companies and they can emboss the satchel too...I love it in red (15" = £84), but then I think about how often I wear blue, and how the only blue I like with this tomato red is navy or dark cobalt:

Top: Red with deep navy
Bottom: Red with Dark Cobalt, the only blues I would wear with this shade of red.

So perhaps to get maximum wear out of it, I should pick something more neutral. I can't buy black or navy bags, because inevitably I want to wear it with the other in an outfit. While I have no problem wearing black and navy together (as long as it's a deep navy like the one above, verging on black), I know not everyone else feels the same way (certain friends who tell me off for it). 

Top: Good black and navy combo
Bottom: Less good black and navy - the navy is too soft, and looks a bit cheap next to black.

Somehow, red feels like the only bright colour that could still come off 'professional' enough for the 2nd degree it looks as though I'm probably going to embark on (the purple, pink, green and yellow versions seem too casual, and I don't wear brown, leaving only black and navy anyway).

Or should I hold off and find a colour I'm completely sure about? Spending that much money on myself should probably mean getting a colour that can go with just about everything:
Purple/indigo, burgundy, plum or dark green might be more professional...

C x


Charity Shop Finds April

After my last exam of the degree, my friend and I rewarded ourself with a quick shopping trip. We were unimpressed with the high street, so decided to pop into a couple of charity shops to save pennies. Unfortunately for my bank balance, I discovered a Thakoon for Target dress (S/S08) - which was only available in the US - at the Royal Mile PDSA (apparently left by American tourists when their suitcases were too full). 

It's very neat, with gorgeous little pleat details running on the back on front panels. It buttons up the front, so could be worn open as a summer coat, but I rather like it as a smart dress for Spring. It was £35, which is much, much more than I would ever think to spend on a dress from a charity shop, but it looked barely worn and I had a quick check on Ebay - Buy It Now between £50-75 (plus US shipping), so I still consider it a bargain [sense the futile justification].

I also spotted this pure wool purple skirt by Avoca (Google informs me it's an Irish woolen mill company) in the Nicholson Street Marie Curie Cancer Care for £4. It could do with being taken in a bit, but I might leave that until Autumn in case I put on some insulatory winter pounds by then!

C x


Dotty P's Dresses

Final exam of university this week, so I'm away doing dull revision, which I doubt anyone would want to read about (influenza strains, anyone?). I'm dreaming of rewarding myself with a pretty new dress when everything is finished (I have materials and pattern for a green teadress, but that may be a project for June). Dorothy Perkins have an amazing range of vintage inspired dresses right now (is it just me, or is DP always much better in the summer than the winter?)
Dorothy Perkins - Pretty Dresses

Vintage-inspired dresses galore! From left: navy spot crochet dress £25, cobalt structured dress £40, indigo belted flare dress £45, coral v-backed collar dress £50, red crossover dress £35. 

I will take them all, please!

C x


Recipe: Puy Lentil Stuffed Aubergine

I had the girls over for dinner, but being the only vegetarian in the party made me worry that making something simple like pasta or ratatouille would be a bit of a disappointment, so I wanted to showcase a more interesting vegetarian dish.

For starters, we had delicious green olives and sun-dried courgettes (both from Sainsbury's):
(these are deliciously sweet but laden with oil, watch out!)

The main course was puy lentil stuffed aubergine, a recipe I developed from two separate Yotam Ottolenghi recipes from his 'Plenty' cookbook (his were a bit complicated, and a bit wasteful with veg).
Serves 4 (gluten and dairy free)

2 medium/large aubergines (depending on whether it's a starter or main)
Olive oil
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt & pepper

200g Puy lentils, rinsed
3 small carrots, peeled (or leave skin on if organic)
2 celery sticks
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of thyme
1tbsp red wine vinegar
1tbsp chopped coriander
1tbsp chopped parsley

1. Heat the Oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Slice the aubergines in half lengthways, leaving the green stalk for decoration. Using a small knife, make 2 or 3 parallel incisions down the cut side of the aubergine halves, being careful not to cut through the skin on the other side. Then turn the knife 45° and repeat to get a diamond-shape pattern. 

2. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the 4 aubergine halves cut side up, then spray or brush the aubergines with olive oil several times so that the flesh has absorbed lots of oil. Place the thyme sprigs just on top of the vertical incisions (so the flavour will diffuse through the flesh) and as much salt and pepper as you like. Roast for 40 minutes or until they look soft and browned (you may want to top up the oil half way through baking).

3.  With the aubergines taken care of, you can start work on the stuffing. Place the lentils in a sauce pan, with the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme, bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 minutes. Yotam says to skim any surface froth away, but I never got any. 

4. Cut the carrot and celery into 1cm dice, mix with the tomatoes, lash in some olive oil to coat everything lightly and a few pinches of salt. Spread out over a baking tray and cook on the shelf above the aubergines for about 20 minutes (it helps to time this with the second half of the aubergine bake time). 

5. Back to the Puy lentils - when cooked, remove and drain in a sieve. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs (don't worry if leaves have broken off), transfer back to the saucepan, spray in a bit more olive oil and the vinegar and lots of salt and pepper. Pop the lid on the pan to keep it warm and wait for everything else to finish cooking (with a bit of practice, we could probably time this perfectly).

6. Add the cooked vegetables to the lentils in the saucepan, with the chopped herbs and taste, add seasoning if required. Place the cooked aubergines onto plates, then spoon the lentil mix on top and into the nooks and crannies created by the incisions - these will have expanded during baking (don't rush, the lentils like to roll off everywhere if you're not careful). Serve with a great big smile on your face because it looks (and tastes) awesome.
If you like, Yotam suggests putting a dollop of crème fraîche or yoghurt on top, but I decided not to, to keep the recipe dairy-free. I served mine with a central bowl of broccoli, I reckon you could probably serve cauliflower or cabbage and the tastes would still compliment.

I had been given this lovely wine at Christmas, but saved it for a nice occasion. It was terrific, very soft and plummy, and my boyfriends barcode scanner app tells me you can get it at some supermarkets for only £10. It is very, very much worth trying.

For desert, I gave up being dairy-free and made that same ginger ice-cream I made at Christmas, which I served with slices of mango. I know it's from a very different cuisine, but we all thought it went really well anyway (food snobs probably hate me though).

On top of all that, my lovely friends brought me some lovely Spring tulips:
and when I had been picking up my ingredients earlier on, I had spotted these bargain hyacinths for £2.99 which will pop out something beautiful in a few weeks, just in time for the end of my degree (as a wee present to myself):

C x

Lands End Sale

Lands End is having a massively reduced sale on their Canvas collection. I managed to control the spending (for once!) and only spent £30. Here's my haul (apologies for the rubbish camera phone pictures):

Lightweight cotton funnelneck in Grey Heather (£8). I got an XS (UK8) and it's a good fit, especially around the shoulders, but spacious enough at the waist for after chocolate cake.

Plaid wool skirts in Aubergine plaid and Blackwatch plaid (£6 each). I worried myself by getting them in a US6 (UK10), thinking they might be a bit neat. But as it turned out, they were pretty loose (sitting lower on the waist than the model's), I might have even been able to go down to a US4/UK8 (but better to leave room for a Winter tummy, which is when one is likely to need a wool skirt!).

And an obligatory cardigan:
Cotton cardigan in Pale Sky (£10, but has since gone back up to £29) - it's much more icy blue than pastel, as their picture might suggest. I got this in an XS (UK8) and it's snug, but luckily not tight (the benefits of small shoulders), however, I'd suggest if your shoulders are more normal that you go up a size.

There's more nice things that I unfortunately didn't have the pennies for:
Flannel, suede or leather ballet flats (£29), cotton tartan shirtdress (£24), cotton mix Argyle cardigan (£19).

And lots of nice menswear too:
Cotton mix vintage varsity cardigan (£19) [because men should wear cardigans too!], cotton Oxford shirt (£10), leather Chelsea boots (£49).

See the full sale: www.landsend.co.uk

C x

PS - Get free delivery before midnight tonight, quote FD1404.



Colour Analysis

I can't remember if I've said on here before, but I think having one's colours analysed is one of the best things you can do for your wardrobe. As a present, I had mine done back in 2009 by Anne at House of Colour and now I drive people nuts whenever we go shopping "Oooooh, that's definitely one of your colours" "Ew, I can't wear it, it's not the right grey...". However, there are some very good reasons for having it done:
  1. It makes shopping much, much easier and efficient. Once analysed into one of the four seasons, you get a little swatch booklet for your handbag, to check what is and isn't right (if you've ever shopped with me you'll know the feeling of dread when I whip that thing out). A few years later, I can walk into a shop and immediately spot the colours that suit me, thus ruling out 75% of the shop stock that I don't even need to bother looking at. 
  2. It stops wasting money. The colours of each of the seasons are organised so that every colour goes with every colour in that season. After sorting your clothes out, your entire wardrobe becomes colour co-ordinated and everything goes. The price of having your colours done, roughly £90, was certainly, for me, far less than the amount I used to spend annually on clothes which would only get worn once because they only worked with one or two things in my wardrobe.
  3. It takes two minutes to get dressed in the morning. Like I said, everything goes. (#EDIT: My boyfriend questions the validity of this.)
  4. You look great. The season you get put into is decided mostly by your skin tone, as well as eye colour, [natural] hair/eyebrow/eyelash colour and shading around your eyes. Good colours make you look healthy, take away sleepy shadows under the eyes and make your teeth and eyes brighter. I find my colours make me feel confident and composed
  5. Men can get it done too. The same rules apply, imagine getting out of the black suit/jeans and white t-shirt rut??
Basic rules of the seasons:
  • Autumns wear warm, rich, earthy colours. Think of a peacock or pheasant feather.
  • Springs also wear warm colours, but brighter, lighter and fresher than those of Autumns. 
  • Winters (like me!) need cool, clear colours with lots of bold contrast. I think of big sparkly jewels for my basic colours. 
  • Summers are also cool, but wear much softer, delicate colours that blend into each other (think of watercolour paintings).

One skirt, thirty outfits based on the four seasons. Note that Autumn and Winter share an ability to wear heavy colours, and the opposite for Spring and Summer, Autumn/Spring and Winter/Summer being warm and cool respectively.


What Are You Reading?

Trying to keep reading in the final moments of uni is incredibly difficult, I have a dissertation due in a month, and an exam in two weeks. These combined equal 25% of my overall degree. Hugechunkofpanic.

However, reading has proved to provide a small comfort, it's one of the few things left that doesn't have a connotation of work (goodbye playing violin and piano, goodbye attempting difficult recipes), so when I spotted this monthly linky link circulating the blogs I figured it would be a good chance to write about something other than the 30 bloody Day Song Challenge [exasperated sigh at youtube having none of the original videos I want].
What are you reading?
See the original and lots of other contributions at Curtains for the Window.

I haven't actually started this yet (Mum's recommendation) but it's only the 2nd of the month, so there's still time :)

This one has been on the go for months. I've heard it gets really tragic, so I keep putting it down and leaving it for weeks because I don't want to get there!

After my Dad and I got into a lengthy 'discussion' about the MMR vaccine, I decided I wanted to read up a little more on the opposing argument (as a Med Science student, I am pro-MMR) and Andrew Wakefield's original research. At university, we're consistently exposed to the backlash of that 1998 paper, but the jargon we're used to using in discussion about vaccination is useless in managing the fears and resistance of parents (or the general public) who have taken on the belief in a link between the MMR and autism. I hope that this book, written by the editor of the Lancet journal, which published the original Wakefield paper, will enable more effective lay-friendly informative discussion. 

...For a break in between all those heavy hitters.

C x