world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Month: October, 2014

Ted Baker Ottoman Experience – Extreme Grooming

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetBefore I continue I think I must make it clear that it was the husband that was being groomed here – not me and whilst my hirsuteness may have increased over the past few years I am not yet in need of a Turkish barber with his arsenal of trimming, burning and cutting weapons of mass reduction!

Cut A Dash at The Ted Baker Ottoman Lounge on Theobalds Road, EC1 is the full works whereby a man puts himself in the hands of a skilled, master barber but this is not for the faint hearted.  Real cut throat razors are used along with flaming tapers to singe hair.  On arrival we are shown downstairs to the Ottoman Lounge, a basement bedecked in  funky wallpaper depicting scissors and cut-throat razors interwoven with Byzantine vines, Turkish coffee and Efes beer are offered up whilst we wait to be shown to the barber’s chair …. lush, traditional leather seats built for comfort. The shop fit is very much Ted Baker, traditional with a quirky twist

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOnce sat in the colossal seat at the Carrera marble vanity unit, so begins the barbering ritual.  After covering up, the head is thrust into a basin, which is pre-fragranced with lemon balm,  a brusque shampoo followed by a rub down with a towel something akin to dog-drying.  This treatment is not for wusses!! Our barber sets to work, nimbly trimming, clipping and shaping hair …. nothing looks precise but it is …. one of the neatest and most thorough haircuts I have ever seen Mr H have,

IMG_4528Another dousing at the lemon balmed sink and back up again to be wrapped in a steaming fragrant towel (it looks like Mr H is grimacing here due to the intensity of the heat, but not sure!) for face kneading and on to commence the removal of facial hair. Plenty of sudsy lather is applied with a traditional badger  brush and then the dangerous part ….. out comes the cut throat razor and the barber deftly clears all facial hair ….. followed with the flaming taper which is run over the skin, exploring both ear and nose orifices on its journey, one almost expects to smell pork crackling ….. Mr H explains later that there was a definite sizzle to this step but was not uncomfortable.  Then on to trimming and threading of eyebrows …. here my heart sinks as I have a terror of men’s eyebrows looking over styled, there is something rather emasculating about eyebrows that are shaped and arched (think Bobby Cole Norris on TOWIE!), but I need not have worried the end result is just a cleaner line, groomed rather than preened.  Another mummification in a steaming towel whilst slowly broiling and a rather brusque arm massage.  Another slathering of the astringent lemon balm certainly lifts Mr H from his state of near slumber (were he a fighting man I think he may well have taken a swipe at his barber assailant).  The whole treatment comes to an end with a firm pummelling of the back, neck and shoulders  ,,, I imagine these guys go home free from tension having taken all the days woes out on their client sat in the seat before them

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And the good news is Mr H can’t wait for the next time …brilliant gift for your significant other!

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Charity Begins at Home …. LocalGiving Doubles your money

IMG_5301Good news, nay Great News …. an initiative to match fund charitable donations is happening, and it’s happening now!

Grow Your Tenner is now live!

LocalGiving.com will once again be matching one-time donations pound-for-pound up to £10, and monthly donations up to £10 per month for 6 months. All charities with active LocalGiving memberships are eligible to receive match funding up to a total of £12,000, and the campaign runs  across the whole of the UK. So if you know of a charity affiliated to LocalGiving make sure they are tapping into these essential extra resources.

With Gift Aid, a one-time donation of £10 made through Localgiving.com to a participating charity during the Grow Your Tenner campaign will generate £21.55, so make sure you spread the word and get ready to start growing those tenners! And if you donate £10 per month for 6 months this will grow to £130.07.

This sort of revenue is crucial to the survival of so many grass roots charities that often don’t have glamorous patrons or big marketing budgets.  For me I would rather support these national charities with regional offices that don’t churn out gift and card brochures, mail outs etc.  They are often reliant on fundraising activities locally rather than a large national pot … I find it intensely irritating when I receive a mail out with a ‘free’ pen or postcard, free to me but not to the charity and my annoyance makes me peevish at the wastefulness and less likely to donate, its obviously a proven method of raising funds but can it really be cost effective? With the success of the #ALS Ice Bucket Challenge over the Summer, charities will be rethinking their fundraising activities (and budgets) but in the meantime this initiative whereby the government is adding capital to your donations, isn’t it doubly important to make a donation NOW before the match funding ends?

 

I heard about this initiative from a friend who has close ties with Cruse Bereavement Care for South West Surrey and are part of the Grow Your Tenner scheme.  I have been lucky enough to attend a couple of the Cruse fundraisers which are always fun and raise much needed money to keep the charity’s local efforts going strong.  Ironically this is a largely voluntary service and those same volunteers are also the ones resolutely organising, cooking and clearing up at these fundraisers – so this is a chance to show your appreciation for their good works, making them more bang for their buck!

Cruse is a national charity that provides advice, information and support to anyone who has been bereaved (children, young people and adults), whenever or however the death occurred. The service is provided by trained, experienced volunteers and is confidential and free.

You can donate here Cruse Bereavement for South West Surrey

How could your donation be used?

£10 could pay for leaflets to be sent to five bereaved people

£15 could pay for a bereaved person to attend a group support meeting

£25  could pay for an individual session with a bereavement volunteer

£200 is the average cost of supporting each bereaved person

If every one of my followers on my Blog donated £10 pounds we could add over £3000 to the Cruse SW Surrey coffers – what a lovely thought   … the possibility that 15 people could receive support through your efforts.

Weapons of Mass Seduction – October is Breast Awareness Month

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Some people think having large breasts makes a woman stupid

Actually, it’s quite the opposite: 

A woman having large breasts makes men stupid

                                                                                                            Tuta Rudner

Bongoes, bangers, bazookas, boobs, bosoms, boobies,  Bristols,  Britneys,  baps, Brad Pitts,  …. and that’s just the B’s to describe your fun bags ….  but are they fun?  As I am heading towards the half century my own hunnybunz are becoming ever more cumbersome …. and more unruly ….  I am not sure if my eye to hand coordination is diminishing or that my own mammary shelf is spreading but I seem to have developed my own on-board fixture of a natural  pelican bib – catching everything that doesn’t quite make it into my mouth …. I am almost at the stage of banning any natural fabrics as I have so many silk garments now residing in the back of the wardrobe sporting indelible grease-spots!  My greatest fear is that it won’t be long until I am tucking them (da boobz), into the tops of my American Tan pop socks!   Children of the 60’s and 70’s will remember both these abominations … American Tan, an almost tangerine hue marketed as a natural flesh tone and created specifically for the hosiery industry …. can only imagine they took their Pantone reference from the beaches of Miami before anyone realised the damage being done by the sun!  And the Pop Sock ….. now when used correctly the pop sock has its merits, giving a sheer finish under trousers (as long as the trouser is long enough to cover the top of the sock) but people, it was never, ever designed to be worn under a cotton summer dirndl!!! (Mother-in-Law please take note!)

 

But back to Breasts …. aside from the obvious health checks which we should all be doing regularly, Wear it Pink and October as Breast Awareness Month are reminders to do just that … see how to correctly check yourself here at Breakthrough Breast Cancer we should also be making sure that we are wearing the correct size bra that fits well without crushing at the side, spilling over in the middle or riding right up your back.  But how do you do that? …. it is all too easy to ‘guess’ your size and make do ….. My first proper bra fitting, i.e. one that didn’t involve me copping a feel of an M & S boxed number and thinking that’ll do was when I was getting married, I headed to Selfridges Lingerie Department.  The ladies there were amazing and their sage advice has stuck with me and made me realise how important it is to be fitted correctly, although the fitter must be  well-trained.  I have tried since then to have fittings and been told ‘”well, that’s the best you are going to get”.  NOT TRUE! It just takes time and patience, which is why I now tend to buy from online stores and try on in the comfort of my own home, as I do now have an understanding of how a well-fitting bra should look and feel …. Though there are still some experienced fitters out there, tucked away in department stores … usually older ladies who really understand BOOBS, many lingerie departments are still staffed by girls with Polly Pocket sized boobs who have no understanding of the underpinning required to tame the larger breast.  When I was pregnant I grew to the gargantuan proportions of a J cup (yes, that is a real size) and felt that I could probably feed an entire army with those puppies.  The choice of nursing bras was limited and with a restriction on any under-wiring to prevent damage to the soft supportive tissue, I wore Triumph Doreen for both my pregnancies, it wasn’t available in any other colour than white in those days and was deeply unglamorous and inhibiting.  It is the one and only time that my lingerie drawer has had anything in common with my mother-in-law’s …. Now I am a less pneumatic GG cup and things have moved on in the plus-cup lingerie world.

As our decollatege heads south we need to constantly assess and reassess – I have liked lots of brands over the years but find that my changing shape often means a change of brand too … the brands I find consistently good are Freya, (pretty, matching sets available) and lovely swimwear too up to a K-Cup; Panache, again modern designs and Fantasie sometimes – although a lot of Fantasie styles push your cups in opposite directions, like Marty Feldman’s eyes … I held out high hopes for the Elle Macpherson range but this didn’t quite meet my support requirements …. I need jiggle restriction and M&S consistently lets me down with a poor fit, though recently I read in Sarah Vines’s column on Get The Gloss about a new breakthrough from M & S called the Youthful Lift  Bra, so am keen to try that out as  over the years they have marketed some terrific ideas …. there were plastic side inserts at one time that promised to push the larger bust forward (which frankly is where it’s meant to be – not hiding under my armpits!!) but it was uncomfortable and gave an odd shape, so poor in its execution … And thats another thing – the shape of the cup is also important – the Triumph Doreen mentioned above actually looks pretty fantastic under a 60’s style black jumper as you take on a Madonnaesque pointi-ness.    It does give me hope that Marks and Spencer has  a department of TIT-ivators, innovating for those of us described as embonpoint.

 

So October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month was my prompt to turn my attention to our jubblies and celebrate them …. a well-fitting bra will not only help prevent flop, sag and stretch (think Spaniel’s Ears!!) but can also help you look one or two dress sizes smaller (just ask Gok Wan),  as said cleavage is hoisted up and away from the waist.  My top tip for checking the fit of a bra is to try a skimming  t-shirt over the bra, check for back bulge, cups brimming over and the general line and shape.  I like my boobs to be held high but not so high that I am peering from between them like a pair of giant inflatable headphones. Do have a proper fitting but give yourself time to try on lots of sizes for fit and comfort.  So where to shop? … All the big department stores have a wide selection of brands and styles but rarely carry much stock above F/FF or a G if you are lucky. Specialist retailers include Bravissimo and Figleaves. You can try on at your leisure with your own clothes to test out necklines, smoothness etc and you have the added advantage you are working with a mirror you are familiar with – mine is full length and possibly rose-tinted (!!) and it doesn’t feel as if you are in the bowels of Hades’ Underworld, overheating in department stores is a BIG problem for me!!  Bravissimo now have stores all around the country including London, Guildford, Brighton all with fully trained fitters, my big criticism of Bravissimo is they are increasingly producing more and more of their ‘own brand’ bra and knicker sets and that their matching knickers are predominantly a short design (don’t like them, they are for androgynous straight up and down types) or a G-string (my days of cheese wire cutters up my bum are over, O.  V.  E.  R!) and I am yet to be convinced by their Pepperberry clothing line, to me they seem to draw more attention to ones bustline but not in a good way.  I understand the desire for having a fitted shirt that nips in under the bust but somehow these don’t quite work – for me the best thing to do to stop shirts gaping is to buy a normal size that fits everywhere else and stitch behind the buttons so you don’t have that unflattering reveal or worse still run the risk of popping a button and someone losing an eye as the button ricochets like Halley’s Comet across the room. Figleaves is my preferred online destination for my swimwear, they carry the Freya ChaCha design which I love and have in most colours – though yet to track down the coffee colour. I like quite plain bikinis as I feel patterns get misshapen as they are stretched and in particular floral designs when even the tiniest floral sprig design turns into a giant floribunda worthy of Best of Show at Chelsea!  Full cup, plunge, soft cup, moulded, strapless, half-cup?  Fit, design, style and shape are all important in bra selection – what’s your favourite? Mine is probably the Balconette but they often have wide set straps which slip off your shoulders as you move around and it looks a little inelegant to keep scooping your hand inside your clothes to retrieve an errant strap!

Let me know your favourite Boob Wrangling Apparatus (B.R.A) ….

Amaretto Sour

In honour of last weeks London Cocktail Week I decided it was time to try out a recipe for an Amaretto Sour …. I find a lot of cocktails too sweet but this little gem takes tartness to a new level … and I love it! If you suffer with indigestion or acid reflux you may have to follow with a Gaviscon chaser (I am joking, please don’t send me emails advising that it is unwise to mix alcohol and medication – I know!!)

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RECIPE FOR TWO AMARETTO SOURS

3 Parts Disaronno Amaretto Liqueur

2 Parts Simple Syrup (how to make is below)

1.5 parts Fresh Lemon Juice (can go to 2 parts if you want that veneer splitting tartness)

Orange to decorate – Serve in a short tumbler over lots of ice (I like an empty Bonne Maman Jam) and cut down a straw to drink from

Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker ( or in my case an insulted travel mug) and S-H-A-K-E, pour into a short glass, add an orange twist and garnish with a maraschino cherry to really step back in time!

Some recipes advise you add egg white to the mixture … not sure what raw egg albumen brings to the table (I am sure it has emulsifying qualities) but I don’t think it needs it  …

You can buy the Simple Syrup from some supermarkets but it is super easy to make …. and will last up to two months in the fridge.  This can be used as a sweetener in LOTS of cocktails as a sweetener.  It blends into a cold drink more quickly that sugar and adds body to your drink.

SIMPLE SYRUP RECIPE

Bring equal quantities of sugar and water to the boil in a small saucepan, stirring to ensure there are no sugar crystals that remain undissolved.  Boil for a couple more minutes without stirring and then store in a sterilised bottle.  I used one of the flip top Kilner bottles and made 500ml (fill a jug to 500ml level with caster sugar and then 500ml water)

AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE AMARETTO YOU CAN TRY WHISKY, BRANDY …. What’s your poison?

 

 

 

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