Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sunday Brunch: Lazy and Happy

Pumpkin spice latte and a carrot cake - perfect combination for the cold days

Sundays are meant to be lazy. There is nothing better than a well used Sunday and by that I mean staying in bed, watching film after film, reading a book and having lots of tea and biscuits. However, Sundays change throughout the year and I can definitely say that a lazy day in July is significantly different to a lazy day in October. 

So, here are a few things that have made my October Sundays the best part of my weeks. Or, in other words, what makes autumnal weekends so pleasurable.


Basically: I love a good pumpkin. Pumpkin pies and cakes, lattes and soups - you name it. The more pumpkin, the better. This Sunday, for example, I enjoyed a nice Pumpkin Ghoulash - the perfect soup for cold autumnal days. Plus, have I mentioned how much I love Covent Garden's soups? You just pore them in a saucepan and heat them for five minutes - perfect for those lazy days when you are craving for something quick and tasty, but you can't wait to go back to bed and watch Friends.


Sundays are also the best time for some home pampering! Hydrating is key when weather becomes colder and I cannot stand dry skin. So, here comes one of my new beauty favourites - the Body Shop sorbets. I definitely enjoy the Mango one the most...

Coffee and a book

Personally, I find Autumn  the perfect time to indulge into some classic romance stories - especially period pieces such as North and South, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre. A flavoured coffee just makes the whole experience even more enjoyable - this year, it is a Gingerbread latte  plus a sprinkle of cinnamon, all in my favourite Minnie Mouse cup!

The Book

The book I am reading at the moment is still Gone Girl (review coming up this week). Basically, after I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I instantly knew I had to get my hands on the original. As a result, here I am becoming Gillian Flynn's biggest fan and loving it.

All-day breakfast

Best part about Sunday's though, have to be the all-day breakfast option! If there is one time of the week when it is socially acceptable to have breakfast at lunch time or even in the afternoon - that is it. And I love me some brunch: a full English is something I cannot say no to!

What about your Sundays? How do you spend them this Autumn?
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Halloween costumes: book inspiration

Halloween is upon us and while some people have chosen their outfits well in advance, a lot of us keep waiting till the very last moment (seriously, when will I learn?). If you really leave it all for the last minute (read: a couple of hours before the party starts), you will basically have two possibilities: to put on something tight and black, paint whiskers on your face and hope you look like a cat, or to cover yourself in red and black paint/make-up/whatever-is-near, and resemble a zombie/victim of a horrible murder/etc...
...You might want to try something different this year and you still have some time to prepare. So, why not opt for a literature character instead? (Especially if you are in a couple, most of these ideas look best in a two-person Halloween team!)

The Straight-Out-Of-A-Period-Drama One

This is a good choice for couples and now you have the chance to dress up as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy/Jane Eyre and Rochester/Margaret Hale and Mr. Thornton/any of your favourite classic romance couples. However, I would only recommend this if both (and I mean both) of you enjoy this kind of books/films, if one of you hates period drama, do not make them wear this... seriously, they are never going to enjoy their night.

Anyway, to do that you can find some Victorian dresses in fancy dress shops, or you still have time to order online - there is even more choice there. For men - going around charity shops is helpful too, as chances are you would find appropriate pants, coats and waistcoats there for a fraction of the price. 

P.S If you are a Jane Austen fan, living in England, go to Bath, where you are going to find a solution to all your fancy dress problems.

The Great-Gatsby-Lover

The theme very popular last year due to the premiere of Baz Lurman's Great Gatsby, is a good Halloween choice if you want to keep it classy - to feel comfortable in your skin, yet, knowing you still have dressed up for the occasion. 

This one can easily be found in the fancy shop near you. However, instead of spending money on a dress that looks like a flapper's one, but feels like a costume, and you won't wear again, I suggest you visit some shops on the high street instead. You can find dresses, skirts and tops, inspired by the 20s easily enough if you check the likes of Top Shop, Miss Selfridge and even H&M. The good thing in this case is that you could wear this clothes again throughout the year. For lovers of the true classics you can find some proper jazz era pieces in vintage shops. Same goes for men+lots of gel and confidence.

The Stay-Classy One

You do not want to dress up as a zombie, a skeleton, a monster or a scary clown, because you prefer to keep it nice looking and stylish. Yet, you still want to dress up for Halloween. Enter your favourite stylish heroes - the characters that have outgrown their own books to become fashion icons.

Maybe you like Breakfast at Tiffany's? That's a good last minute option as you do not necessary need to buy anything new. Put on your little black dress, big black shades and a cat eye-liner (a massive hat is an option, too), tie your hair in a bun - and you have lovely Holly Golightly. 

Or, maybe you are a Fitzgerald fan? You have plenty of classy characters to choose from - it does not have to be the aforementioned Gatsby. Actually, why not dress up as Fitzgerald himself? A dapper 20s suit is a must and maybe a bottle of alcohol in hand....only if you want to address his alcoholism of course....

If you are a fan of Atonement, your costume is even easier to achieve. Girls, just go for a long green dress, style your hair in a nice 30s-40s style (plenty of tutorials on how to achieve that on youtube), and apply little make up. Furthermore, a lot of french novels can inspire you to dress up in 18th century aristocratic style - an excuse to wear a huge ball gown and a massive wig. Because, you know, it was all about excess in the French court during the reigns of Louis XIV, XV and XVI...

Sherlock Holmes? Probably the literary character with the most famous look in the world - and one easy to achieve this Halloween. Again, cheap and appropriate clothes could be find in vintage and charity shops, but if you are willing to spend more, you can find something Sherlockey in suit stores. Finish the look by adding a pipe. This look also allows you to wear some modern clothes - if you decide to go for Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock. In this case a slim fit suit is a must plus a long black coat.

The Scary One

It's Halloween and you want to keep it scary, we get it.

First off, there are characters like Bronte's Heathcliff, that might be considered a romantic hero, but still looks pretty scary on the outside. Or there are characters such as Moriarty - Sherlock's biggest enemy he is, but he brings the scary with his brain rather than his looks. Then again, a pair of Sherlock and Moriarty could spice up the traditional Sherlock and Dr. Watson Halloween combo.

Then, you could always dress up as Voldemort, who is scary both inside and out. To be honest, there a lot of Harry Potter characters that could be your inspiration here. Most of Game of Thrones characters would do, too, but keep in mind that with the popularity of the series, it is likely you won't be the only Khal Drogo and Daenerys on the party.

To sum up

If you don't find some of the suggestions appropriate enough,  after you choose your character, you can put some more paint on your face and say you are the dead version of him.

Basically, you can find some Halloween inspiration in any book you like. If you want, just put your most fashionable clothes and new boots and say you are Andy from the Devil wears Prada. No one on the party should mind.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday Brunch: Benedict Cumberbatch

Sometimes you just need a different kind of book...and sometimes you just find something with Benedict's face on it...

A few months back as I walked into my local library, I decided to check out the 'New In' section. And can you imagine my surprise when I saw this lovely book! Obviously I did not waste another minute and immediately got it, the first person in the library to get her hands on it! Undoubtedly,  Being Benedict Cumberbatch is the ultimate Sunday book for every (excuse my language) Cumberbitch.

It is full of pictures of our favourite actor (more than 85 of them to be exact) plus some interesting trivia from his life. It is also pretty up-to-date as it was released earlier this year. Not only does it include facts dating back to when he was just a Cumberbaby, but the style of the writer (Joanna Benecke) is quite laid-back and humourous. It is not your traditional biography, written with a tiny font, consisting of a lot of chapters, discussing its subject's inner struggles with a serious tone. On the contrary, it reminds me a bit of a magazine - with shiny photographs and witty remarks; it does not take itself too seriously, which is a breath of fresh air. It is also a book that is obviously targeting Benedict's fangirls - so if you are one of them, this is the book for you.

Personally, I found this to be the perfect book for me between my reads - I was reading some serious novels at the time, so a light read like that one was the perfect balance in my day and in my reading routine. It is also a fast read, so you can go through all 140 pages quite quickly. Basically, if you are a Cumberbitch - you will like it a lot.

It is not an official biography but is hugely enjoyable and I am sure all fellow admirers of him would like reading it, as it offers a good insights into Benedict's life. You can find it here.

What do you think? Would you read something like that?
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Friday, 17 October 2014

Love, according to your favourite classic heroes

Mr Darcy. Mr Thornton. Mr Rochester. I could think of a lot other "misters" that come from classic period pieces and have turned into the ultimate literature heroes. They are the original leading men, who have made women around the world fall in love with them decades before films were invented and the Hollywood leading man was introduced.

And as we know, they still make a lot of us swoon and wish we could go back in time just to find one of the original English gentlemen, standing at the end of the ball room, tall and proud…unsuspecting of the fact that he is about to be smitten by our grace, and will have no other choice but to admit to his feelings in a reserved, yet charming way, as he asks us to marry him…


Without these literary characters we wouldn’t have enjoyed Colin Firth’s or Matthew MacFadyen’s wonderful performances as Mr Darcy. Or even worse…without Elizabeth Gaskell’s beautiful North and South, we would never have witnessed the perfection that is Richard Armitage in the skin of a 19th century mill owner.

So, without further ado, let’s look at what made those men so inhumanly perfect. This is not a post describing their ideal features (although I would not mind reflecting on that some time, too). Instead, here is a look at some of the loveliest lines from classic period literature – thoughts from men, so hopelessly in love, they turn into the definition of a romantic hero.

North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell. Mr Thornton:

“He could not forget the touch of her arms around his neck, impatiently felt as it had been at the time; but now the recollection of her clinging defence of him, seemed to thrill him through and through,—to melt away every resolution, all power of self-control, as if it were wax before a fire.”

“One word more. You look as if you thought it tainted you to be loved by me. You cannot avoid it. Nay, I, if I would, cannot cleanse you from it. But I would not, if I could. I have never loved any woman before: my life has been too busy, my thoughts too much absorbed with other things. Now I love, and will love. But do not be afraid of too much expression on my part.”

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Mr Darcy:

In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged; but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.”

Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë. Heathcliff

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you--haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe--I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always--take any form--drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!”

“If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in a day.”

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy. Levin:

“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”  

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë. Mr Rochester:

“I have little left in myself -- I must have you. The world may laugh -- may call me absurd, selfish -- but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.”

“You — you strange — you almost unearthly thing! — I love as my own flesh. You — poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are — I entreat to accept me as a husband.”

The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton. Newland Archer:

“Each time you happen to me all over again.”

“He simply felt that if he could carry away the vision of the spot of earth she walked on, and the way the sky and sea enclosed it, the rest of the world might seem less empty.”

Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy. Angel

“How very lovable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarnation. And it was in her mouth that this culminated. Eyes almost as deep and speaking he had seen before, and cheeks perhaps as fair; brows as arched, a chin and throat almost as shapely; her mouth he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth. To a young man with the least fire in him that little upward lift in the middle of her red top lip was distracting, infatuating, maddening. He had never before seen a woman’s lips and teeth which forced upon his mind with such persistent iteration the old Elizabethan simile of roses filled with snow.
Perfect, he, as a lover, might have called them off-hand. But no — they were not perfect. And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the sweetness, because it was that which gave the humanity.”

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Autumnal Mood

Ah, October! Hot pumpkin spice lattes, warm blankets, cardigan weather, falling leaves and everything orange! It is hard not to get in the Autumn mood especially if you live in England as I currently do - for is there a country that brings more fall feelings then the ultimate rainy state?

"It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring..."
- A Taste of Death, P.D. James

Some  see in Autumn, much like in Spring, the beginning of a new life. 'Crisp' is what comes to mind to many of us when describing this beautiful season:

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The Morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple."
-  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K.Rowling

...Then there is Hemingway, whose vision is a bit more different, but immensely beautiful:

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.” 
- A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway

However, it seems like Autumn is one of the most inspiring seasons when it comes to period drama (which is why, I thoroughly recommend some classic English period pieces as the perfect fall reads):

"I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
- Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

“There was a filmy veil of soft dull mist obscuring, but not hiding, all objects, giving them a lilac hue, for the sun had not yet fully set; a robin was singing ... The leaves were more gorgeous than ever; the first touch of frost would lay them all low to the ground. Already one or two kept constantly floating down, amber and golden in the low slanting sun-rays.” 
- North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

"Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn - that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness - that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling."
- Persuasion, Jane Austen

...Speaking of poetry:

I Remember You As You Were

 I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.

Clasping my arms like a climbing plant
the leaves garnered your voice, that was slow and at peace.
Bonfire of awe in which my thirst was burning.
Sweet blue hyacinth twisted over my soul.

I feel your eyes traveling, and the autumn is far off:
Grey beret, voice of a bird, heart like a house
Towards which my deep longings migrated
And my kisses fell, happy as embers.

Sky from a ship. Field from the hills:
Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.

 Pablo Neruda
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Monday, 6 October 2014

5 best: Quotes from Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens. His humour has proven timeless just as his books - some of the most loved ones in English literature. He is the brilliant writer who has left us with such endearing characters such as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickelby. In this post, I have decided to share with you five of his best quotes (as there are so many good quotes from his work, choosing just five was a struggle, but you have to begin from somewhere).

1.  'Love, however, is very materially assisted by a warm and active imagination which has a long memory, and will thrive, for a considerable time, on very slight and sparing food.'
     - Nicholas Nickelby 

2. '...we know, Mr Weller - we, who are men of the world - that a good uniform must work its way with the women, sooner or later.'

    - 'The Gentleman in Blue' The Pickwick Papers

3. '... although a skillful flatterer is a most delightful companion, if you can keep him all to yourself, his taste becomes very doubtful when he takes to complementing other people.'
     - Nicholas Nickelby

4. 'No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.'

    - Our Mutual Friend

5. 'Tell Mrs Gamp to come up-stairs,' said Mould. 'Now Mrs Gamp, what's your news?'

 The lady in question was by this time in the doorway, curtseying to Mrs Mould. At the same moment a peculiar fragrance was borne upon the breeze, as if a passing fairy had hiccoughed, and had previously been to a wine-vault.'
   - Martin Chuzzlewit

So, what are some of your favourite quotes from Dickens?
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