October 27, 2014

Blackberry Picking Amongst the Brambles

 Every year, when Autumn arrives, it is tradition to hunt down jewelled brambles and pluck lustrous blackberries from their thorny entanglements. In Somerset, my family and I head to familiar countryside spots where, like every year, blackberries can be found in abundance. Wrapped up warm with a bag in hand, we forage enough blackberries to make a years supply of crumbles, and some blackberry wine for good measure.

Blackberry picking demands a certain level of dedication and a complete disregard for the skin on your hands. I have often found myself precariously balancing on a hill side, reaching with all my might for the top branch where, as luck would have it, the most voluptuous blackberries cluster. The brambles are also sheathed in cobwebs and feverishly throwing your hand away from an eight legged decorator nearly always results in a prickly collision with a thorn or two.

But such defences and deterrents are worthy and commendable, because despite the multiple scratches and blackberry ink stained fingers, the prize of a versatile, delicious and quintessentially British fruit at the end of it is completely worth it. There is also something remarkably satisfying and wholesome about creating a dish with hand-picked, wild blackberries, especially if its paired with home grown apples in a crumble - something my Grandma and I make together. Last year I made blackberry butter, which I wrote about here. The dulcet notes blended into the creaminess of the butter was pure heaven on toast in the fresh, autumnal morning. 

This year I am looking for some more unusual ways to incorporate my wild blackberries and I'm swaying towards recipes with pork and my beloved goats cheese. I've been compiling some recipes over on my Pinterest here, but I am open to any recommendations, so please, please send them my way! :)

I hope to be be sharing some new blackberry recipes with you all very soon!

October 23, 2014

A tribute to a fashion icon: Oscar de la Renta

Yesterday the world lost one of fashions most iconic and loveable designers of the last century. Oscar de la Renta passed away aged 82 leaving a vibrant and fairy-tale legacy behind him. Known for his classic, feminine and All-American gowns that governed all eyes at fashion week, his bridal collections soon became just as popular, with many brides-to-be dreaming of walking down the isle in an Oscar de la Renta dress. The couturier was sought after by Hollywood actresses, women of wealth and even America's first ladies - four of them to be precise. He worked tirelessly until the end, even designing Amal Clooneys highly anticipated wedding dress in Venice last month. Even earlier this year, Oscar recreated his entire spring presentation to raise money for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Centre, where each garment was walked down the runway by a patient or a survivor and their physicians. The evening raised over $1,000,000, plus a large donation from Oscar himself - he was a passionate and devoted philanthropist. By those who knew him, Oscar has frequently been described as warm and captivating, with an envious outlook on life and a humorous personality that would fill an entire ball room. No doubt, a great talent and irreplaceable fashion icon has been lost, but also a charming man filled with passion, whit and gratitude who gave the world beauty through design and soul through character. 
 Below are some of my favourite pieces from his ready to wear, bridal and children's wear collections, along with some very wise words from Oscar himself.
 “The qualities I most admire in women are confidence and kindness.”
 "It’s not about what you wear, but about how you live your life"
 “Elegance is a discipline of life.”
 “Now is the most exciting time in fashion. Women are controlling their destiny now, the consumer is more knowledgeable, and I have to be better every single day.”
 “What women have achieved in the last 50 years, I wish men would have achieved in the last 100.”
“Fashion is about dressing according to what's fashionable. Style is more about being yourself."
 "When I started, the woman went to the store to buy a dress. She saw it in pink and red, and then she remembered that the husband, who is probably going to pay for the dress, loves it in pink. So she buys the pink. Today, the same woman goes to the store and remembers the husband likes pink, and she buys the red."
"I like light, colour, luminosity. I like things full of colour and vibrant."
Oscar de la Renta, 1932 - 2014.

October 17, 2014

A Romantic Summer Wedding in the English Countryside

A while ago I attended my cousin, Sammi's wedding in Devon and having only just stumbled across the photos from the day I thought it was high time I blogged about it. 

I decided to channel the heavy fabrics and deep hues of sicilian style with my wedding outfit, choosing a letter box red dress and a vintage black lace evening coat. I accessorised this with black heels, an ornate red and gold clutch and some vintage gold and pearl drop earrings. The dress was a wondrous find, not just for it's vibrant red but also because it fitted my 5ft2 frame perfectly and didn't need taking up!
For my makeup, I stuck to my normal routine and products which I wrote about here. The main exception being the lipstick, where for the wedding I wore Chanel Rouge Allure in shade 08 'Brilliant', which lasted well throughout the day. I also wore eyeshadow shades 'Sin' and 'Hustle' from Urban Decay's Naked palette. I decided to opt for a shimmering nude colour with a golden tint on my nails and painted them with No7 gold dust. It was originally my mums so it doesn't seem to be sold anymore. But it really goes to show how long No7's nail polishes last! 
Dress - French Connection // Evening coat - Vintage // Shoes - Zara // Earrings - Vintage 

Taking place at Holne Park House, the magnificent setting laid out the scene for an elegant and dreamy wedding that was basked in glorious sunshine and loving jubilation. The interior of the house was simply stunning, with each room epitomising grandeur with lavishly beautiful decor. 
Personal photographs of the bride and groom lined cabinets and a grand piano sat opposite the most splendid of entrance halls. Whilst we waited for the groom to arrive via helicopter, my cousin and I made a beeline to the rose entwined sweetie cart that housed jars of delicious confectionary. 
My cousin, Sammi looked beautiful in an elegant lace wedding dress as she walked down the alter, and it was a truly lovely ceremony. Afterwards the guests mingled in the sun and enjoyed canapés and champagne before the reception meal. It was especially wonderful to see all of my extended family together for such a lovely occasion. Below my Grandparents, mum, Auntie Jane and my younger sister posing for a much treasured family photo.
The reception was held in the ball room, which was decorated in all it's finery. As each guest took their seat, we were greated with a heart shaped cookie decorated in shimmering silver with our name's written on. 
As expected the food was delicious! For starter I had blinis topped with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and caviar, followed by a chicken dish and then the most artistic 'strawberries and cream' I have ever seen.
Later on I changed into a more comfortable outfit, a pretty chiffon number from Lipsy. The rest of the night consisted of dancing to live bands in the music room, indulging in a rather impressive buffet spread and paying a visit to the crepe van, where guests could select a crepe of their choice. Hello Nutella!
Once the champagne bubbles caught up with us and we could dance no more, my mum, sister, Auntie and Grandparents said our farewells to the rest of the family and headed back to the coach house where we were staying, before one last monumental meal the next morning!

Undoubtley it was one of the most beautiful wedding's I've ever been too, and it meant a great deal to be there with the whole family. A big thank you to Sammi and her husband for having us and many congratulations (: