Friday, 23 October 2009

Fun and Games in The Kitchen

We have recently had a pretty packed house here, and at times, I have felt as if I am running a small and efficient B&B, for Londoners wishing to enjoy some country air, and teenage boys looking for a bed to crash in and copious amounts of filling food to cram into their ever open mouths.

I adore having friends to stay and enjoy preparing for their arrival. I have a finely tuned routine to ensure every comfort is considered and each guest feels all their needs are catered for. Firstly I deal with the guest suite, making sure the beds have newly laundered linen, all crisp and fresh smelling. Delicately scented flowers, and an array of magazines to suit all tastes! Soft and fluffy large towels, none of those teeny ones that just about cover your assets. Several divine soaps, shampoos, and oils to soak in or if a shower is more your thing, some delicious fragrant shower gels, Jo Malone or Miller Harris, naturally.

Once I am satisfied with my work in the boudoir, I then begin the real domestic goddess part, in fact, this is my favourite bit. The Food. Oh my goodness, this is where I can really go to town and hone my cooking skills to perfection. This is where (I won't be my normal modest self here) I shine, frankly speaking, and I'm not afraid to say so. I can spend days preparing, beginning with the menu (you know how I love a list), then the shopping and choosing of produce from the fabulous host of gourmet outlets here, which often involves some tasting, and slurping of goods on offer. Then I set to work creating gastronomic ecstasy, total pleasure for the taste buds.

The guests arrive, and are warmly greeted by the dog and are given a tour by the eager kids, settled into their rooms (which I'm thinking of naming after previous owners for ease - that will be The Dashwood Suite, or The Charrington Rooms), and after all that activity are settled into a comfortable chair and given a strong drink, before dinner.

Now, I don't know about you, but I prefer canapes to hors d'oeuvres myself, as although they could be considered quite formal I find the opposite, as food is passed around for people to share, and as we are not seated at the dining table, this allows for free movement to chat to the other guests of choice. Nothing over the top you understand, just a little mouthful of smoked salmon, or my distinctive smoked trout terrine or even (if feeling the need for hearty sustenance) my out of this world sausage rolls (I have references from a Mr Anderson on these).

Dinner is served. This always runs smoothly, as I have timed all parts to perfection, and everything is ready exactly when it needs to be. My guests are all happy where they are seated and nothing gives me any more delight than seeing them all tuck in with gusto. Wines are chosen by handsome husband and he always gets it spot on and they blend rather than interupting the flavours of my beautifully cooked food.

However, I have been aware of a small problem, I suppose you might call it a wardrobe malfunction. Ofcourse I like to dress appropriately for dinner, and always like to maintain a polished appearance, but this has been somewhat thwarted by my very basic apron, which just wasn't adding anything to my look. So I remedied this with a little retail research to find an apron fit for a woman of taste, and I have come up trumps and now I am Miss Glamourous in the kitchen, with a vast confectionery of aprons to choose from, and handsome husband thought they were so sexy he made a suggestion which made me blush the same colour as my strawberry moose! Now you too can get some kitchen action by checking out Haute Hostess Aprons and if you are feeling really outrageous The Modern Courtesan - enjoy!!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

I Shall Go To The Ball

What a hoot I have been having, a whirl of social activities that have left me quite frazzled. There have been drinks with some fabulous hearty boozers, dinners with some gourmet experts, lunches with elegant ladies, soiree launches with herds of smiling faces and finally the icing on the cake, the cherry on the top, The Hunt Ball.

It has been years, literally, since I last attend any of event of this nature, though the Tory fundraiser a couple of years back, with the Stones tribute band was, I suppose, quite close though nowhere nearly as formal, and I suspect the dancing was slightly better at the Hunt Ball.

This was to be a major attire logistical nightmare, as two outfit changes were required. Why, I hear you question. Two events in one evening, firstly a function at the school where the invitation stated lounge suit, and then on to the Hunt Ball. Now it may come as a surprise, but I, and as far as I am aware, none of the women I know own such a thing as a 'lounge suit', and even if I did it would certainly not be suitable for the Ball, where the invitation states 'black tie' (far more helpful), that's a longish frock for us ladies.

For the sake of simplicity and ease I felt it sensible to ensure that whatever I chose to wear to each event required the same (close your eyes chaps) lingerie, so all I had to do would be to slip out of one costume and into the other with little fuss. So all there was left to do was to decide which two dresses it would be.

I scrutinized my dresses with care, knowing my decision would be judged by others who were seasoned Ball frequenters, women who had mastered the fine art of Hunt Ball attire. I felt under enormous pressure, but being made of sturdy stuff and feeling secure in the knowledge that I possess an elegant assortment of garments, I began my selection, slowly and calmly discarding (in my mind, not on the floor) anything inappropriate, until I had reached the moment of clarity, two dresses made for each other a perfect fusion. For the school do, a chic clever little dress from Tibi, of green and cream silk, short but not mini, scoop neck and long arms, so not too much flesh on display, and the for ball a dreamy emerald Roberto Cavalli long rich velvet dress, which floats and glides as you move.

So we departed for our evening of fun and frolic in our crystal carriage (the old merc), waving goodbye to our flock. Handsome husband looked gorgeous in his lounge suit and we sauntered into the main hall of the school clutching hands. I glanced about me and felt completely secure knowing that my dress was perfect, perhaps a little fashionable but actually I didn't mind as standards must be maintained. We were entertained with some light music, some extremely palatable canapes, some sensational fireworks, and chatted with various convivial parents. Then it was time for the big change. We had planned to do this in our eldest's dorm, but unfortunately we had lost track of time and the doors to his house had been firmly bolted. I will be honest when I tell you (just between us), this is not the first time I have found myself in this sort of fix, and I knew exactly what action to take. Very simply we would change in the car. This is not as straightforward as one might think and changing in and out of dresses is far easier standing up than sitting down, so I wobbled about outside the car with the door open and handsome husband holding up a jacket to shield me from prying eyes, as I slipped out of one dress and into the other. Gosh, I felt like a teenage part girl all over again as I shimmied myself into my emerald piece of luxury.

It was well worth it, handsome husband said I looked ravishing, and I did dazzle all evening and my dress was much admired and commented on. We met some thoroughly engaging people including a most interesting woman who trades in fine wines, though I did find it difficult to concentrate on everything she was saying as I was so distracted by a thick slick of incredibly shimmering blue eye shadow she was wearing which gave the impression she had been made up by a soho drag queen. I did see some some extraordinary sights, voluptuous ladies squeezed into dresses that left little guessing as to what was underneath, and I am quite sure those groom lads and stable boys explored all the possibilities on offer. Gentlemen with spurs (careful where you tread), and one gentleman that must have been 105 speaking directly to a woman's large breasts. The dancing was spectacular, with legs flying and arms flaying in all directions as people grooved to great 80's classics.

We arrived home in the early hours and I definitely felt as if I had been driven home in a pumpkin, but at least I hadn't lost a glass slipper from Lanvin, and my dress most certainly had not turned into rags, and I had brought my Prince Charming home.


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