Thursday, 28 August 2014

Tea Parties and Flamingoes : The One Where I Fuel My Vintage Tea Cup Problem

As work continues apace in Casa Inanity I've been making list upon list for Himself to do DIY wise. I've also got an Etsy list so long it would take me years to clear it. The odd thing about putting a house together is how fascinated you get with really odd choices. For instance, recently I've taken a serious shine to everything flamingo orientated, I have an entire section on Etsy dedicated to the pink ones. 

Recently I've been dying to get my shelves up in the kitchen. The main reasoning is because I keep buying cook books and vintage crockery and I really need somewhere to put it. 

Up went my shelves, I've got more things to add to them but I couldn't resist snapping a few quick pictures. There's a few sneaky funko pops in there. I wanted to keep the kitchen really vintage in style, quirky in places and with all the tea cups and pieces that I love seeing. Since I've gotten my kitchen I've been enjoying the space, having so much room is such a lovely treat, being able to decorate it in the style I love is just beyond lovely for me.



With my birthday came more of my favourite things! Teacups. I've added more to my Salem Tricorne set in mandarin which I just adore, also I got some fabulous pieces from my favourite designer Disaster Designs. Lovely Claire from French for Cupcake bought me the gorgeous cake covered frilly giant teacup and then I tracked down the impossible to find flamingo teacups with loads of insane emails sent to suppliers!

Recently we've put up my favourite piece in the house, the superhero pug. A birthday present from the husband this one is now on the wall, the cape kills me every time. 

I've also finally gotten my hare lamps set up on our beside table, alongside the Mr and Mrs signs. Abigail Ahern has sort of taken over our house when I've been decorating. I think the main thing we've found about keeping with a vintage style has been to go with what you like and keep your shapes classically vintage.

How did you guys decorate?

Much Love

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Nancy's Notes: Agnes May Dalrymple's Date and Nut Loaf, 1948

I had published a post earlier about the introduction to this series of articles where I take my great, great aunt's hand written recipe book and make some of the vintage bakes. I've entitled it Nancy's Notes and this is the first recipe.

The first recipe I decided to try in Nancy's recipe book was one that my mum had declared she remembered Nancy making and it was the best thing she'd ever tasted. Well I mean that was such a ringing endorsement I knew I had to start there, although slight pressure right?
So here is the page in question for those of you with handwriting as poor as mine you'll also feel the envy of such lovely handwriting. You may want to follow from the picture or my transcribed recipe under it. Whichever is best for you then feel free to work that way.

The recipe came from Agnes May Dalrymple, 3 Sheridan Street, Lexington, Massachusetts, it's dated Summer 1948.

Here's what you'll need:

70g seedless dates
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup boiling water
1 egg
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cut up 70g of seedless dates with scissors each into 3 pieces
To these add 1 cup boiling water and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Set aside to cool
Beat up one egg, 1 cup sugar, then add date mixture
2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, sifted together now add to above
Now 1/2 tsp vanilla and chopped walnuts less than 1 cup
Beat all well
Makes 1 loaf

Beat your eggs and sugar together

Preheat your oven to 180 where you will be starting your loaf at. Then after 20 minutes drop your oven to 160 degrees and cook for another hour.

The loaf mixes really well together, and has a really rich toffee and nut taste, it would be known as an old fashioned tea loaf, but this is perfect for your authentic tea parties.

It comes out of the oven looking all golden brown and beautiful! The smell is unreal, like a nutty sticky toffee pudding.

Serve this in generous slices with butter and tea.

Thank you Agnes May Dalrymple and Nancy. Give this a try at home and let me know how it goes, think of Nancy and Agnes when you do.

Much Love

Nancy's Notes: The Recipe Book

Recently on Twitter I asked if my readers would be interested in a series of vintage bakes. I came across my great, great aunt Nancy's hand written recipe book from the 1940s through to the 1960s and a little after. It was filled with recipes for things I'd never heard of, written on the back of articles, on the back of envelopes, on banking slips. I wanted to start a series on the blog where I tried out a lot of these recipes and brought them back to the kitchen again. Recipe books are such social history and this one is no exception. Throughout the book recipes are credited to Nancy's friends that they came from and their address, there is a section where she had attended the cooking class in 1948 of a famous French chef and her notes from the lessons are fascinating. 

The book. The H.J.W stands for the files previous owner, the young H Jeremy Wintersteen, one of the children she was a nanny to in Philadelphia.
Nancy or Annie as was her formal name (we all called her Nancy) was born in 1909 in Garvagh County Antrim and she took a ship to America when she was only 14. She worked for some of the most illustrious families and at this point when the book begins she's working for the McIlhenny Wintersteen's, a wealthy family residing at  8440 St Martin's Lane Chestnut Hill .

The St Martin's Lane home of the Wintersteens where Nancy worked.
On the inside of the book the message in childish hand reads H Jeremy Wintersteen, 8440 St Martin's Lane, Chestnut Hill, Penn. The file must have belonged to the young Jeremy when he was at the Charter School and as he moved on into his new school Nancy must have reused the file to house her recipes.

Nancy at my first birthday when I smashed my hand into my cake

Nancy was an unbelievable cook and and tremendously forthright woman, she tended to say exactly what was on her mind and stuck to it. I only knew her in her later years, in her 80s and 90s. We have the wooden steamer trunk at the bottom of our bed that she traveled around the world with when she looked after the Wintersteen children. My mum has loads of terrific stories about her, like the first time she saw her husband Bill, who was the Wintersteen's chauffer and also from Garvagh he was in the kitchen with the other staff. It was the 1930s and Bill used to wear his black hair slicked back, with his black and white spats shoes. From then on she used to call him 'That damn gangster' and still did long into their marriage.
Nancy when she returned to Northern Ireland. My mum maintains they saw her picture as the inspiration for Mrs Doubtfire.
When I started looking through the recipe book I thought it would be nice to have a weekly post where I would try some of the recipes from the book. They're such an interesting way of trying bakes that were popular at the time and I love the heritage of having a name and a person behind them.

There's a little bit of everything in the book and I'm looking froward to sharing it with you all. I'd love you to try the recipes with me, perhaps look for your own family bakes.

Much Love

Saturday, 16 August 2014

A Vintage Day Look: NYC Expert Last Gloss Review

Hello vintage lovelies,

Today it's a little post from me on a quick vintage inspired day look. I feel like I've been doing so much that I should be blogging about but I just haven't had the time at all. I'm going to be putting more vintage bits and pieces in because, fashion, beauty and home wise that's what I'm all about. I've a few really fun vintage post series in the works so do keep checking in.

Today I'm looking at the new range of Expert Last Gloss from NYC that I got sent. They're heavily pigmented and they stain the lips which I rather like as you keep colour when your gloss goes, when I swatched them on my arm it took quite a bit of make up remover to get them off.

The six shades that I was trying range from a pretty light pink in Chelsea Cherry Blossom all the way to a vampy red in Rockaway Ruby. If you want a really vintage red I really loved the Big City Berry, which will give you that 1950s siren red lip with no fuss.

Today I wanted to show you a 1960s easy day look. I mixed it up a little and did an elaborate cat eye and combined two of the colours for a slightly frosted 60s lip.

I slicked on Chelsea Cherry Blossom and then added Madison Square Mauve over the top to get that sugar frosted lip look with a little colour. I then followed it with my Stilla liquid pen liner which is the best I've ever tried as it does not budge. I lead with the flicks and kept them high and curved for  the 60s cat look.

The base is luminous with MAC Strobe Cream, Bourjois Healthy Mix and Nars Super Orgasm blush.

This is a really easy look to wear during the day, you've got all your vintage in the eyes and lip colour, but because you're wearing a light lip and your liner won't budge you won't need the same maintenance through the day as you would with a bolder lip. 

That's all from me

Much Love

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Baking Beauties: My Baking Wish List

Cake Tin by Typhoon Housewares, Preserve Jar by Viking Direct, Painted Cake Stand by Marsh Home,  Mixing Bowls by Linea at House of Fraser, Kitchen Scale by Viking Direct

Hello lovelies,

Those of you who follow my Instagram know that I have been baking up a storm recently, since we moved and our new kitchen is big and roomy and of course since I got my Kitchenaid, I have been a baking machine.
As it's summer and I'm currently decorating I've been eyeing up quite a few things for my 1950s inspired kitchen. You know how nuts I've gone for my atomic decor so I wanted to extend that vibe into the kitchen and I've picked a selection of my favourite vintage inspired pieces of baking goodness.

1. The cake tin from Typhoon Housewares is a great shape and has fabulous rounded edges and a gorgeous mint green placing it very mid century.

2. This preserve jar from Viking Direct is a must in a kitchen. Everyone has gone mad for mason jars since Pinterest seemingly breeds them. I personally prefer a preserve jar to create that lovely vintage look in a kitchen. Fill these with your flours, sugar, smaller ones for baking powders, tag them with some ribbon and place them on your shelf. Easy vintage.

3.The stunning cake stand is vintage glass and painted by Marsh Home on Etsy. I just love the mad colours, I really want these in all sizes for my kitchen shelves!

4. The retro pastel mixing bowls from Linea at House of Fraser are another useful but focal way of bringing vintage style into your kitchen, the shape and colours are both indicative of the 1950s. These are a shame to just put in a cupboard though!

5. The Salter retro scales from Viking Direct are a lovely chrome and very in keeping with 1950s diner sensibilities and more to the point the Americana of the 50s. Also very useful, great for display.

These are the pieces I'm currently craving for my kitchen, do you guys have a wish list of your own? What's at the top?

Much Love

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Walk On The Wild Side: Wild Essence Review

Halle Berry is back with another fragrance, it was a total hurrah moment for me. Mainly because the last Halle Berry fragrance I'd reviewed was a serious favourite with me; Closer is reviewed here. Her new fragrance Wild Essence is tagged as 'The Scent of Exotic Nature' Halle wanted to create the 'primal richness of nature in an effortless scent'.

Has she achieved it?

For me this is a strange fragrance, I don't mean that in a bad way; I actually think it's a positive. A lot of times celebrity perfumes are overly sweet, but Halle Berry's have been a little different from that combination. The top notes are bergamot, mandarin zest and black currant, the bergamot is nicely there, and I love bergamot in fragrance so I think it's a lovely addition. The middle notes are freesia in bloom, linden blossom, and white rose. The floral notes comes over really strongly after the top notes from the spritz pass, citrus is replaced by floral and musk.

The bottom notes are silk musk, white patchouli and sandalwood which provides a rich depth to the floral and citrus overtones.

What does it smell like?

To me there's a strong scent of roses and freesias there's also an undertone of musks to the settling scent. Once the scent is in place it smells like a garden, there is a hint of a more subtle sharper edge that takes this away from English country garden. It smells exotic, and potent, is it a rainforest? I don't know I've never actually taken a whiff of rainforest, but it does smell floral musky and sharper than the usual floral offerings.

The perfumer Claude Dir is in charge of this particular scent and for those of you perfume nerds out there you'll know he's responsible for Beyonce's Heat, Britney's Curious and many fragrances for Elizabeth Arden including one of my favourites, Green Tea the scent has a good pedigree, Arden, La Prarie and Hugo Boss are also on his resume.

I like it about half an hour after it settles on the skin, I feel like some of the tones war a little when that first spray and whiff happens. Once they all settle it is actually an usual and interesting scent, it's feminine but there's a little something extra that adds to the sensuality of the mix. I like that it's unusual, different and vibrant. It seems like this is very in keeping with the unusual edge of Closer.

I like it a lot, you guys have to give it a sniff if you happen across it!

Available Eau De Parfum 30ml RRP £14.95

Much Love

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Sugar Pie Cinnamon Bun: The Easiest Cinnamon Buns You'll Ever Make

I LOVE cinnamon buns, I love them so much it hurts. I used to buy bags of cinnamon buns and unrestrained I'd happily eat them all. When were in Vegas my bridesmaid Claire of French for Cupcake got an absurd amount of Cinnabons through a crazy offer, I have to say I had to seriously restrain myself. it was after all the night before the wedding and I think all brides are thinking about how they'll look in their dress. Hardest thing ever turning those down! So now I'm making up for that and decided to bring to you all my favourite easy peasy cinnamon bun recipe.

A lot of cinnamon bun recipes are quite time consuming and technical with milk scalding and all the rest of it, this one has 7 ingredients and bypasses all the technical bits to give you awesome cinnamon buns with no fuss. I found it originally on Minimalist Baker's site, which is a site I adore and I've tweaked it only a little.  

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil spread (vegan butter), divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar, divided


  1. In a large sauce pan (or in a bowl in the microwave at 30 sec increments), heat the almond milk and 3 Tbsp Olive Oil spread until warm and melted, never reaching boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees, or the temperature of bath water. It should be warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on yeast. Let activate for 10 minutes, then add 1 Tbsp sugar and the salt and stir.
  3. Next add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go. The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose ball. Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola or grapeseed oil, and add your dough ball back in. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size 

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 3 Tbsp melted Olive Oil spread and top with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 - 1Tbsp cinnamon.
5. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. Then with a serrated knife or a string of floss, cut the dough into 1.5 - 2 inch sections and position in a well-buttered 8x8 square or comparable sized round pan (you should have about 10 rolls). Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil spread (melted) and cover with plastic wrap. Set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat oven to 176 degrees C.
6.Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve immediately.
7.Optional: Frost with dairy free cream cheese frosting or a simple mixture of powdered sugar and almond milk.

The Minimalist Baker uses vegan butter, now I couldn't find vegan butter anywhere so I figured as long as it wasn't animal protein it would be ok, and I went with the olive oil spread. It worked really well, complete success as far as I can tell.

And that's really it, isn't it dead easy? Plus they are so tasty. Don't forget to use almond milk not normal dairy milk, the proteins in the dairy milk need scalded which is a stage that has been left out of this recipe to keep it simple. 
I hope you'll try it out and let me know how it goes for you, I'll be making this when we have guests to stay at the weekend.

Much Love 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Summertime Gladness: One Piece Season Review

It's been my pleasure to be a One Piece, Piece Keeper and as such I get to have a look at the latest offerings from the totally iconic onesie brand. All One Direction fans know One Piece very well as they are the brand that the boys have designed for in the past. For me though the new season stock brings a vintage LA vibe to the brand. 1980s corals and Venice beach greys adds a really relaxed vibe.

I fell off the sofa shortly after this picture, but I was comfy doing it. The One Piece is grey light  fabric, with the stripe detailing, no fleece here. Think classic sweat pants material and you're there. Super duper comfortable and breathable. 

The mid section of the onesie, has pouch pockets but also zip pockets at the sides and the classic One Piece double zips. Moveable and loose.

For today and tomorrow I have a fabulous discount code for you on One Piece  which will give you 15% off any purchase, hooray. Just type INANITY at checkout and get your 15% off on me :)

Much Love and jumpsuits..

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Join Our Kult: Bio-Kult Interview

Do you supplement? 

I've been a fan of supplements in the past but last year after my milk thistle debacle I pulled back on any supplements I was taking. At one point I was taking 6 or 7 a day,  but as I said after I was on a programme of milk thistle as recommended by Holland and Barratt and consequently poisoned myself on it (horrendous don't recommend it) I have stopped taking anything. 

I stopped taking anything until I'd had two consecutive courses of antibiotics last summer and afterward my body was totally upended. I kept getting small skin infections and I didn't feel right at all. I went to my doctors who gave me steroid creams which had no effect. This was the point I started researching probiotics to repopulate all my good bacteria which had been wiped out by the antibiotics. I'd tried a few which had no noticeable effect and on a message board I saw one of the posters mentioning Bio Kult.

 I bought it immediately and took 3 a day to give my system a boost, within 3 days the skin infections the steroid creams had done nothing for in two months had completely cleared up. That was pretty definitive for me and I've banged on and on about them to anyone who will listen. I definitely think if you're taking antibiotics you should be taking these too. I haven't been paid or sponsored to promote the brand, they're just really, really good. So good I got in touch with them and asked if they would do a Q&A with me about the probiotics. Below is an interview I did with their nutritional therapist Natalie all about the benefits for women of a probiotic. I hope you'll enjoy this and feel informed as well. I can't speak highly enough of them.

1.       What can supplementing with a probiotic do for the body?

We all house trillions of different bacteria in our bodies.  Beneficial bacteria play an essential role as our first line of defence, in supporting efficient digestive function and supporting immunity.  More than 2000 years ago Hippocrates said that “all disease begins in the gut”.  I feel this is still relevant today and believe too that means that optimal health throughout the whole body must also begin in the gut.  A number of factors can compromise an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria throughout the body, including antibiotic therapy, infection, stress, travel or a period of unhealthy nutrition.  Gut flora imbalances could also be indicated in numerous symptoms that may at first not be seen to be related to the gut such as fatigue, poor concentration, anxiety, low mood, headaches etc. 

An effective solution is to supplement the microflora by taking a probiotic to restore the balance.  Probiotics have been defined as ‘live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’.  Traditionally we consumed fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and pickles on a daily basis.  Now days we tend to use probiotic supplements offering a standardised dose in an easy to consume capsule.

2.       How do we know what to look for in a probiotic?

A good probiotic supplement should be stable and able to guarantee the bacterial count until the end of the products shelf life, not just at the time of manufacture.  Those products that are more stable do not generally need to be kept in the fridge.  They should also be able to survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach to reach the small intestine intact.  If in doubt ask the company of any tests they have performed in this area.  Products range in their dosage and strains (specific types of bacteria e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus PXN 35).  I believe a probiotic that contains a wider number of different strains, similar to how probiotics are provided for us in nature, are able to provide a wider range of benefits for a wider range of people.

3.       Taking antibiotics is necessary at times but I know personally the effect they can have on the good bacteria in your body. Would you recommend Bio-Kult to people who are taking or have just taken antibiotics to get them back to normal again?

We recommend that Bio-Kult should be taken at the same time as antibiotics (although at least 2 hours apart) and continued for 2-4 weeks after at a dose of 4 capsules a day.  Our reasoning is that the beneficial gut flora are likely to be damaged by antibiotics, altering the balance and thereby allowing further pathogenic bacteria to selectively overgrow.  Studies have indicated that probiotics may prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD) via restoration of the gut microflora. 

Johnston BC, Goldenberg JZ, Vandvik PO, Sun X, Guyatt GH. 2011. Probiotics for the prevention of pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. Nov 9;(11):CD004827.

4.       We get told a lot about what we should and shouldn't be taking. What are the essential supplements you think women should take?

It is imperative that our gastrointestinal system works effectively so that our body is able to digest and absorb the food we eat in order to gain the adequate fuel (nutrients) for every organ to function optimally.  In women particularly the predominance of lactobacilli in the vagina is known to create an acidic environment that protects women from infection, and its absence is the specific feature in conditions such as bacterial vaginosis, Candida albicans and UTI’s.  Hormonal variations can affect microflora balance in women throughout their lives.  Oestrogen stimulates the proliferation of lactobacillus in the vagina.  UTIs are particularly frequent in post-menopausal women when oestrogen levels fall.  During pregnancy higher levels of the hormone progesterone, relaxes and slows down the peristaltic muscle movement in the intestines possibly contributing to constipation. Beneficial bacteria produce substances that lower the pH in the colon, enhancing peristalsis and subsequently decreasing colonic transit time.  In women probiotics have been shown to significantly improve stool frequency.  I would recommend taking a daily multi-strain probiotic supplement such as Bio-Kult.

5.       There is a lot of research coming out at the moment about gut health, primarily changes in gut flora and its effect on mental health, they are seemingly very interconnected. Could probiotics have a wider use in the future to help with anxiety or depression as that research deepens?

We know that the brain sends signals to the gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gut symptoms.  New research shows that the signals also travel the opposite way1. Many patients report that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut.  This could be due to our ‘happy hormone’ serotonin being largely produced in the gut.  In 2011 Messaoudi et al2 found a Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum significantly improved depression and anxiety.  More recently a multi-strain probiotic was shown to lower levels of activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotion and pain while increasing activity in areas associated with decision making1.  While scientists are looking at the potential future use of probiotics to treat conditions such as autism, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and depression, why not consider optimising a healthy gut flora from birth to prevent the onset of such conditions in the first place? 

Natalie Lamb Dip NT mBANT– Protexin Probiotics
Natalie is a qualified Nutritional Therapist who studied a three year diploma in Nutritional Therapy at the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM) in London and is a fully registered member of The British Association of Nutritional Therapists (BANT).  Natalie saw clients in a private clinic in London for 2 years before joining Probiotics International  Ltd (Protexin), manufacturers of Bio-Kult and Lepicol ranges.
Natalie has a BA (Hons) in Business Studies and prior to working as a Nutritional Therapist she spent over 10 years working in food and health related industries, from market research analysis for UK food and drink manufacturers to food preparation and service within the hospitality industry.  For 5 years Natalie worked for a UK cancer charity assisting with their awareness program and researching and preparing information articles for the public and health care professionals.

Much Love

1.        Tillisch K, Labus J, Kilpatrick L, Jiang Z, Stains J, Ebrat B, Guyonnet D, Legrain-Raspaud S, Trotin B, Naliboff B, Mayer EA. 2013. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. Jun;144(7):1394-1401.e4.
2.        Messaoudi M, Lalonde R, Violle N, Javelot H, Desor D, Nejdi A, Bisson JF, Rougeot C, Pichelin M, Cazaubiel M, Cazaubiel JM. 2011. Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. Br J Nutr. Mar;105(5):755-64.


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