Put some ‘Spring’ in your step

Every day the light is fading later and later and winter is almost finally behind us. I am embracing spring with both arms and with that in mind I have picked some of my preferred key looks for Spring 2013 straight from the catwalk. Simply adapt these looks to your taste and budget by keeping your eyes peeled on the high street or DIY.

metallic stripes

Stripes are ‘in’ this spring and bold geometric shapes but dont worry about everything matching up, a little colour clashing is good although I think subtler shades with a pop of strong colour as above works best. I also love the chiffon and pearl cuff…

striped skirt

For daytime pair a nice loose shirt or cotton t shirt with a tight fitting pencil skirt and finish with chunky jewellery and colourful nails.

dress

Florals are also in and while the catwalk is dictating strong floral colours I love the classic cut and delicacy of this beautiful fifties style oriental silk dress and will be keeping my eyes peeled for a high street version.

lanvin

I couldnt resist including this silk knit Lanvin dress in blush – just so pretty but so unaffordable.

yellow

Love this pop of colour for spring by J Crew, could see it paired up with jeans and a Breton top.

sass

This embroidered clutch by Sass and Bide is another lovely piece which would be a wardrobe staple for night time.

classic

If it’s classic everyday elegance you’re looking for this spring then look no further, I love this two tone nude and black tote bag.

cuff

Finally, am coveting this Kate Spade NY ‘Be Art and Part Of’ idiom cuff, alas only available in Bloomingdales but it looks like a Frey Wille with a significantly lower price tag <covet>

 

Advertisements

Tasty Avoca Minestrone Soup Recipe

This soup is easy, tasty, healthy and low GI (glycaemic index) which basically means it breaks down slowly in your system leaving you feeling fuller for longer, kind of the opposite effect to a Mc Donalds! A big bowl of wholesome goodness for these freezing days and chock a block with your 5 a day

winter-minestrone-garlic-bruschetta-223x300.

Ingredients

2 onions, peeled and chopped

olive oil

2 carrots peeled and diced

1 red and 1 yellow pepper seeded and diced

1 chilli, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

A handful of pearl barley, rinsed in several changes of water

2 celery stalks, diced

1 litre light chicken stock

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon tomato puree

1 x 400g can chickpeas rinsed and drained

2 sprigs oregano, finely chopped

1 teaspoon picked thyme leaves

How to…

Gently sauté the onion in 4 tablespoons of  olive oil for 10 mins. Add the carrots, peppers, chilli, garlic and barley. Toss in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery, stock, tomatoes and tomato puree and cook for a further 15 mins, or until the vegetables are just cooked. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the fresh herbs, check the seasoning and serve.

Variations

**You can add char-grilled chicken breasts, grilled sausages or chorizo to turn this into a more substantial supper dish.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and a half teaspoon of harissa per serving for a chilli kick.

Semi-sun dried tomato pesto along with extra herbs gives a robust, fragrant finish.

Next up I will be posting recipes from the rather wonderful looking Cake Cafe Dublin recipe book which I was received as a gift recently including their most sought after recipes so stay posted……

 

January Reads

For me January is a month to go into a little hibernation mode after the joys and excesses of the Christmas season. Regular exercise and a good diet is a great start but for me chilling at weekends in front of a fire and not running around is a wonderful way to recharge your batteries.

First things first – reading. I have gotten through 3 books now this month and am on my fourth. So in order of reading them:

Enduring Love by Ian Mc Ewan

Enduring love

I have read several of Ian Mc Ewan’s books including Atonement, Amsterdam and Saturday, but I found this totally different from his other work. It’s an older book, first published back in 1997 and the plot concerns two strangers who become perilously entangled after witnessing a deadly accident. It’s a slim book but packs an enormous punch and I would highly recommend it for the thrill alone.

This Is How It Ends by Kathleen Mac Mahon

this is how

I got this for Christmas and I was really excited to read it after hearing so much hype around it (the first time author received a two book advance of over €700,000 and is the grand daughter of writer Mary Lavin) and while I enjoyed parts of it, I wasnt blown away. The characters are well developed if a little cliched in parts fitting neatly in stereotyped boxes and the plot was predictable. All in all, an underwhelming read but to be fair perhaps expectations were set a little too high to start with.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

yearold

A funny and fast paced novel following the 100 year old hero Allan Karlsson as he dashes an escape from his nursing home and embarks on a comic crime spree through Sweden picking up equally ludicrous accomplices along the way. The novel also manages to cleverly take in all the major events of the 20th century and the lead character’s role in them. Funny, entertaining and well worth a read.

I am currently reading Claire Kilroy’s The Devil I Know and while I am only a few chapters in, the writing and dialogue is excellent and I am looking forward to getting stuck into it more. It is a pretty savage satire on Ireland’s property boom so a good reminder of the excesses and tasteless extravagance of the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’. Feels like a distant memory now in the heart of austerity.

On an aside, the house is falling down with books but it’s one thing I find it hard to part with so I have decided I need a Book Barn kind of like this one –  Baldwin’s Book Barn, an 1822 building in West Chester, Pennsylvania which has five floors of books, pretty realistic goal don’t you think?

Below are some images to ogle for book lovers.

baldwins

baldwins1

baldwins3

baldwins2

 

Christmas books I would love in my stocking

I’ll add to this list over the coming weeks as books are one present I look forward to every year at Christmas. I am starting out with this collection of short stories below!

Alice Munro – Dear Life

dear life

Canadian author, Alice Munro is one of those rare writers who sticks to the short story and doesn’t bother with novels. Just to read some of her stories, it’s easy to see that she has perfected the craft to such an extent that authors such as Margaret Atwood, who wrote the superb and affecting The Handmaid’s Tale, said of Munro that fellow writers ‘whisper her name in hushed tones’, so revered is she. Munro has been publishing collections of short stories for decades and when she won the Man Booker International Prize in 2009, it was widely seen as long overdue.

Her latest collection, Dear Life, instantly is unique in that it seems to be her most personal work to date featuring autobiographical stories, rare coming from an author who never speaks about herself or grants interviews. Each of these 14 stories are like mini novels in themselves and need to be read slowly and deliberately.

After the first 10 short stories, she inserts a single paragraph on an otherwise blank page, under the heading, Finale: “The final four works in this book are not quite stories. They form a separate unit, one that is autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact. I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life.”

Reviews have ranged from ‘life changing’ to ‘spectacular’ which makes this collection firmly at the top of my Christmas wish list.

I would love to hear any more recommendations for good books for over the holidays.

My top 5 Christmas movies

Well the best Christmas movies I think there are anyway, I am talking the gems that I watch every year without fail…

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This has been such a firm favourite in my family for the last few years. I would estimate I have seen this movie somewhere around 20 times and I still laugh at the same parts, a great movie for getting into the Christmas spirit, having a good laugh and definitely one of my all time favourites!

Most memorable line: “Hey Griswold, where d’ya think you’re going to put a tree that big?” . “Bend over and I’ll show you.”

ChristmasVactionHouse

It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey (played by the wonderful James Stewart) is not having a good Christmas – he is in major financial distress and is contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve until his guardian angel Clarence intervenes to show him what life would be like if he had never existed.

The line – ‘Look daddy, every time a bell a rings, an angel gets his wings’ still gets me every time and leaves a lump in my throat.

its-a-wonderful-life_592x299

Elf

I ended up watching Elf twice in two days over Christmas last year as it just gets better every time. I havent seen Will Ferrell be so funny in a movie since I watched Old School and this is just chock full of hilarious one liners and facial expressions from start to finish not to mention the legendary dance scene.

“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favourite colour?”

Elf_600x600_0

Scrooged

Anything with Bill Murray in it is worth a watch in my book and Scrooged is a contemporary twist on the classic – when I say contemporary I mean 1988 of course and boy is this 1988. For anyone who grew up watching movies from the 80s this is bad hair and fashion at its worst and a joy to watch.

scrooged

Home Alone

Can you believe it’s 22 years since this movie and Macaulay Culkin made their debut? Every kid has contemplated what they would do if they were left ‘home alone’ and being the youngest with older brothers, I could sympathise with Kevin’s character in this but the fun really starts when he starts defending his house against a brilliant Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern.

“Keep the change you filthy animal”

home-alone

Some other movies worth mentioning, although not strictly Christmas movies, but I associate them with Christmas as they will be on TV at some stage and I will lie on the couch eating mince pies and tins of sweets watching them as I do every year – ET, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Love Actually  and for those of you who might be anti Christmas, Bad Santa is a good choice alongside The Grinch.

What will you be watching this Christmas?

National Book Award Winners 2012 Announced #nbaward12

Competition was so stiff in 2012, the finalists alone read like a Pulitzer Prize Hall of Fame and the competition was described as “unusually competitive”. Finalists included Junot Diaz who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which I read and really enjoyed. He got into the finalists gang this year with his latest work This Is How You Lose Her.

Also on the finalists list was Dave Eggers, frequently cited as one of the most gifted writers in American contemporary literature. I have read just one of his books Zeitoun about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and it is so powerful, he was up for his latest book A Hologram for the King. It’s set in Saudi Arabia and concerns an American businessman who’s travelled to the country in an attempt to revive his flagging career. The full list of finalists is available here

But onto the winners for this year – some good book club picks and Christmas present ideas below.
FICTION: The Round House by Louise Erdich
The Round House is a novel about a teenage boy’s effort to investigate an attack on his mother on a North Dakota reservation, and his struggle to come to terms with the violence in their culture. She accepted the award in part in her Native American language and said she wanted to acknowledge “the grace and endurance of native women.”
Pretty impressive result for Katherine Boo considering this is her debut novel however this is the same Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Katherine Boo who writes for The New Yorker so maybe not so surprising. It is described as a deeply affecting account of the life of families living in the slums around Mumbai.
YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE: Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
Another great result from a debut novel. Goblin’s Secrets is described as ‘breaking the mold’ in chikdren’s books. The story is set in the town of Zombay and centres around Rownie, a little boy who joins a theatrical troupe of goblins to find his missing brother Rowan. Aimed at ages 8+
The 88-year-old Ferry, whose collection swirls around the questions — both essential and superficial — of our mortal lives, teared up as he accepted his award, admitting that he didn’t think he had a chance to win because of his age, and calling the award a ”pre-posthumous” honor. The judges praised his work as ”singing about the human condition as casually and ferociously as it is lived.”

Honourary prizes were given to New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr and novelist Elmore Leonard.

Each winner receives £6,300 and were chosen from a list of 1300 books on the original submission list in the 63rd annual National Book awards.