Thursday 14 October 2010

The Devil is in the details . . .

My mother often tells this story from when I was about three or four years old. We all know how precious sleep is when you have an active creative toddler and a newborn baby in the house. It would seem that, on this particular morning, my mother was enjoying a long lie-in, only to be awakened by a neighbour informing her that I, her darling lovely little girl, was marching up and down the street in nothing but my mother’s red high heels and my birthday suit. Even then . . . I had style.

A few years ago I found a lovely little cross stitch kit of Lottie the Elephant trying on a pair of red shoes, red shoes that look far too large for her feet. I bought the kit and proceeded to embroider it . . . but, alas . . . my eyes no longer co-operate with me and it still lays in my embroidery cupboard, half done. The idea had been to finish it, frame it and give it to my mom for Mother’s Day. Well intentioned . . . but life had other ideas.

I’m really not a woman with a particular style or even much of a sense of style. I only know what feels good to me and what looks good on me, and it’s not high couture, lol. It’s baggy jeans and t-shirts, or better yet my pyjamas! I look at other women wearing their finest and I envy them their ability to feel comfortable all trussed up and decorated, but that’s just not me. I’ve never felt comfortable, really comfortable, all dressed up. I do have one dress that I really love . . . a silky baggy slip dress thing . . . turquoise in colour, with lovely big pink cottage roses printed all over it. In that I feel wonderful. I’m not quite sure what the difference is between that dress and all the others I have. I only know I’m secretly glad when the warm weather comes and it means I can break out the slip dress again.

That’s like my shoes. I have kind of wide feet and so I’ve had a lot of problems finding shoes to wear for quite a few years now. Not only are my feet wide, but they are actually quite small and short. I spend a lot of time on my feet most days, in the kitchen where I love most to be . . . chopping and stirring, beating and frying. I have my comfy slippers of course, but you can't really where them everywhere can you? (although I did once forget I had them on and drove off to the store wearing them!) I have some Asics trainers, and a pair of brown every day shoes, as well as a pair of Black smarter shoes for special occasions. I also have a pair of crocs. They have to be the most comfortable piece of footwear you could ever hope to wear. Every step, or non step, in them is like walking or standing on a cloud. They’re not altogether that attractive though, kind of clunky and big. You couldn’t get any further away from red high heels if you tried!!

I am not a woman that likes fussy jewellery. I prefer small and understated. I can’t stand anything big dangling from my ears and about the only thing I can stand around my wrist is a watch, and even that’s only when I go out. Most days I prefer to go around bare wristed. There are days that even my rings bother me and I have to take them off. Generally I only wear earrings on Sundays or when we are going out somewhere special . . . I never wear bracelets . . . and the only necklace I like to wear, or feel comfortable wearing, is a fine chain with a small sparkly heart on the end of it that Todd got me on our first Valentines day together. Everything else just feels like a “make a fat neck look fatter” accessory!

Having said all this though . . . I would never go out of my house to anyplace in public without first putting on my face. Moisturizer, foundation, blush, mascara, eyeliner . . . and very occasionally some eye shadow. It all gets carefully applied. I draw the line at lipstick though . . . I’m not a lipstick kind of girl. I like the way it looks on other people but I don’t like the way it feels on me. Although I do like to wear a bit of clear gloss at times. (especially the flavoured ones!)

I guess my style is comfort and it wins with me every time. I don’t like fussy or over stated. I prefer simple and comfortable when it comes to my person, but I love colour, my favourite ones being pink and turquoise . . . like my slip dress.

I do like to surround myself with pretty things though . . . lovely pieces of embroidery and art on the walls, flowery furniture, pretty little fairies and such . . . small pretty trinkets adorning my shelves and whatnots. My garden is overflowing with beautiful flowers and flowering bushes . . . our bedroom is all pink, and flowery and feminine too. Even my purse is covered with flowers . . . and I do love to give the little characters I create, frilly . . . pretty things to wear.

I guess I am a bit of an enigma . . . I like pretty things around me . . . but I go placidly amid the noise . . . my style reflecting my persona . . . built for comfort, not speed . . . after all, slow and steady did win the race!

Here’s a little dish I adapted the other day from Giada De Laurentis. She called it Verdure Al Forno . . . I made a few changes and I call it Cheesy Baked Courgettes . . . (that’s Zucchini to all you North Americans!) in any language it’s just plain delicious!

*Cheesy Baked Courgettes*
Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main vegetarian
Printable Recipe

I absolutely love this way of cooking courgettes. They are able to retain some of their bite without going soggy and the flavour of the cheese and the cream really make them quite delicious. Indulgent, yes, but once in a while you owe it to yourself to be a bit over the top!

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil. (does not have to be best quality
as it is only for greasing the dish)
5 medium courgettes, washed, dried and cut crosswise into 1 inch slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup double cream
4 ounces good mozzarella cut into fairly thinish slices
4 ounces medium cheddar cheese, grated
6 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup dried bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned ones.
If you are using plain add some oregano and basil and garlic just for spice)

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Lightly grease an 8 inch baking dish with the olive oil.

Arrange some of the courgette slices in the bottom of the dish to cover. Season generously with salt and pepper. Pour 1/3 of the cream over and then top with 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the cheddar cheeses. Sprinkle with 2 TBS of the Parmesan and 1/3 of the bread crumbs. Repeat the layers twice more, ending with bread crumbs.

Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until nice and bubbly and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

And cooking in The English Kitchen today, a delicious Chicken with Sundried Tomato Sauce.


  1. No high culture or couture here either, Marie! Loved reading this, as it in some ways echoes my own post earlier this week on minimal wardrobe/minimal living. LOVE the photos here today--I like the clean, pared down styles and soft, chalky colors. And also LOVE the courgette dish today--YUM! Thanks so much for stopping by my place--so great to see you! And best of all the you are on the road to feeling better. Keep up the good work. ;o) Happy Day, dear friend--LOVE YOU LOTS ((BIG HUGS))

  2. I am all about comfort whether it is in what I wear and how my home looks too. Crocs are wonderful and I own a couple pairs. The are very comfortable and I wear them a lot. I enjoyed the pictures today. The white in all the rooms is attractive and welcoming too.

  3. I don't feel comfortable all trussed up like a Christmas turkey either. I don't bother too much with make up at home but if I go out even to the shop without it you can bet your life someone will say "My word, you do look pasty. Are you all right?" Not good for the self-esteem!

  4. LOVE that story about you in your birthday suit parading down the street-that image makes me giggle! i love how you know who you are and i love your confidence. no one needs to wear fancy stuff if they don't want to. i love how you love beautiful things and comfort above all else. i dress comfortably most of the time but i'll put on some dangly earrings every so often for girls nights:) but mostly, i'm not very fancy at all. i don't need to be-i'm at home doing laundry most of the time anyways:)

    p.s. sorry i haven't been commenting very much. i just can't do it as much these days with the little guy and cali keeping me so so busy! i barely have time to post on my own blog. hope you are doing well marie!! xoxo

  5. Oh Marie. How I wish I lived next door to you. I would come over to visit, when you weren't busy -- with a basket of muffins and a pot of tea. Todd and I could listen to your wonderful stories. I never tire of reading your entries -- I wish they would never end. I always want more! I HOPE one day you'll ask Todd to snap a picture of you donned in your beautiful turquoise slip dress with the pink cottage roses. ::sighing:: The dress SOUNDS dreamy! Better yet, you could do a reenactment of your endearing childhood march. You could wear red high heels and your birthday suit! HOWLLLLLING! Naughty me! I wish I WAS next door. I'd finish embroidering "Lottie the Elephant," you could frame it and give it to your Mom for Christmas. The idea of bringing that charming childhood "moment" to life brings tears to my eyes. You, Marie, remind me of the Queen of England. You're well mannered. You have a quiet, elegant style and have an engaging smile. You LOVE England as much as she does. Although, I don't think the Queen cooks as well as you do. I WISH I lived in England. I have NO idea why my ancestors left London, and Gravesend, Kent. I wouldn't have. Drat. I've already asked you if Todd has a brother. He doesn't. :( Does he have a cousin? :)~
    I'm off to visit "The English Kitchen!"


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