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Friday, 15 June 2012

Look like a girl, act like a lady

I should probably do the third one a little bit more, ooh and the second one. Think I've got the first one pretty much covered, and to prove my point, I've just decided to make this post about makeup.Lisa Eldridge (best makeup artist ever! google her website and have a look at her videos, they're incredible) did a video a few months ago about the best budget buys for makeup.

I love Benefit, Mac, Chanel, Clinique and all the big makeup brands - really do adore them, but just not the pricetags! My money could easily be poured onto makeup alone and so I'm trying to go for the more superdrug brands. If they're good enough for Lisa Eldridge, they're good enough for me!

As I love lists, this is the list of my to-buy products once all my makeup has run out.
 1. Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush, Rose d'Or
2. Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation
3. Max Factor 2000 Calorie Mascara
4. Revlon matte lipstick
5. Revlon luxurious colour eyeliner
6. Colourstay quad eyeshadow in gorgeous smoky colours

That is pretty much all the makeup I need, plus a pretty makeup bag from 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' was my AS Level text and for anyone who hasn't read it, I would highly recommend it. It's the most beautifully crafted story that's almost a post-apocalyptic fairytale, written very simply and without any punctuation but full stops. The form of writing takes a while to get used to but after the first few pages, the book is utterly mesmerising. About the relationship between the father and son, it's a poignant struggle for survival. There are 'the good guys' and then 'the bad guys', the terrifying 'bloodcults' who have turned to cannibalism and depravity just a year after the apocalypse takes place. It's an exploration into good and evil, just like any good book, but it goes deeper than that. There are elements of beauty in this new world, a world that is 'barren', 'grey' and 'godless', but with features of the old world dropped in, like the 'causeways' and the burnt down cars.

Reading it can be quite depressing - for much of it, it seems like everything can only ever just worse. The food is running out, the days are getting darker and colder, the man gets sicker and the boy's innocence fades. No longer does he react emotionally to the bodies that are burnt to doorways like leather; he abandons the few toys that he has and he stops being curious about the world. Yet even in all the darkness of this novel, what remains is the essential goodness of the boy - a boy that always want to help the people that he meets on the road, from a man struck by lightning even to to the man that steals their belongings on the beach. Although the man tries to bring routine and society into the boy's life, reading him bedtime stories and teaching him how to survive, what the reader does not see the man do is teach the boy to help others. In fact, the man tries to teach him the opposite - sharing food means starvation, talking to another traveller on the road means walking blindly into a trap. The emphasis that McCarthy places on the boy's giving nature and fundamental love for humanity despite the suffering that he has seen gives hope to the novel, hope that in an apocalypse, goodness will still exist.

Penguin English Library

Penguin English Library - image from google
I don't know whether you've heard about this yet but Penguin have just released an English Library collection of books - a capsule collection of 100 of the best English fiction published since 1800, with a particular emphasis on Hardy and Dickens. The covers are very pretty, my favourites being Lady Audley's Secret and Great Expectations, and would look great on a bookcase. I really want to collect them, a book a week, but just know that once I start I won't be able to stop until I have all 100. That might be somewhat hard on the bank balance, at £5.30 a pop - perfectly affordable, but all 100? £530. I could get a Mulberry bag for that, and that's another thing I've been lusting after for the last few days but know I can never have, not until I've got a proper job!

The last two weeks of work experience have made me realise what I want to do - not marketing, but journalism and writing. Each day, I've been set a 1500 word article on a particular topic and it's been absolute bliss: cups of tea, coffee, slices of rocky road, comfortable chairs, beautiful view of the sodden English countryside, not to mention the most gorgeous puppy I have ever seen, who looks just like a (very) oversized teddy bear!

Exeter open day

Exeter Cathredal
On Tuesday, I visited Exeter open day. I know the city pretty well as my grandparents live close by in one of the sleepy towns hugging the Devonshire coast. It's a beautiful city - we went to the quay, somewhere I had not been before, and watched the boats. Then we strolled through the shops, picked up a coffee at the Boston tea shop, popped inside the cathredal to look at the ancient flags and beautiful ceiling - wondering why, with all our technology today, we don't build such magnificent buildings anymore. So after pretty much falling in love with the city, we then went into the university. Everything was incredible inside, really really lovely. Just want to study English literature there now!


So after a few days of trawling through twitter websites for market research at work experience, I've decided to get twitter (for the second time, last time I didn't get it). I have the grand total of one follower after ten minutes, which I am actually quite proud of! It took me ages to write the little piece of text underneath as well - eventually I settled for 'aspiring writer and journalist. lover of books, baking and beautiful things'. Think that pretty much sums me up.

Follow me at Emma_Pegg3!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Nigella Lawson's Rocky Road

My lovely friend Ellie makes this rocky road and it’s gorgeous. Based on a Nigella Lawson recipe, the rough and tumble of sandy buttery biscuit, nuggets of soft pillowy marshmallow and folds of silky melted chocolate is unapologetically indulgent. The recipe used is this one ( but any biscuits found in the cupboards can be used, from ginger nuts to biscotti and the plain digestive. I've found that children tend to like even sweeter versions of this, so instead of using all milk chocolate or all dark, melt together a big Cadburys milk chocolate bar and then a smaller one of Bourneville. Some broken up honeycomb shards of crunchie bar are also amazing in this.

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

I finally got round to reading Lord of the Flies a couple of weeks ago and even though it was perhaps one of the hardest books to read emotionally (up there with Lionel Shriver's 'We Need to Talk about Kevin' and Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'), it was fabulous and a book that I really wished I had studied at GCSE.

It’s a fable that ultimately explores what humanity really bubbles down to when society and rules are peeled away. The book was written in 1954, a time when the world was still reeling after the horrors of the Second World War, a war that revealed the dangers inherent in racism. It showed thousands and thousands of ordinary civilians committing the most terrible of acts, leading to the almost liquidation of an entire race. Why? Research into social influence has tried to explain this, given reasons such as people acting in an agentic state, the idea of graduated commitment and the role of an authoritarian personality. It also suggests the combined importance of inter-group hostility, self-justification and blaming the victim, as well as motivational factors such as protecting their families. As well as World War Two, there was the growing threat of the atomic bomb and the extent of the destruction that it could cause. It seemed inevitable then that William Golding would have believed that humanity was ultimately destructive and would eventually turn on itself, even in a group of young schoolboys stranded on an island, with no adults, no authority, and no sense of society.

One of the best things about the book is the way that William Golding tells the story so simply yet so effortlessly beautifully – each thing takes on a meaning, from the conch being symbolic of the society that the boys try to bring into the island, to the imagery of the tree with fruit and flowers growing of it, making the forest representative of a Garden of Eden with its religious connotations of original sin and temptation. There is also the exploration of Freudian ideas of the id, ego and superego, all tying neatly into AS psychology.

I was talking with my friends about what would happen if instead of boys, there were girls on the island. We concluded that the girls would generally try to cling onto society more than the boys in the book and whilst they might turn savage, they wouldn't go so far as to kill each other - I suppose, linking to the quote that if girls ran the world, there'd be no war. Then if there was just one girl and many other boys, a concept which I think would have been really interesting for Golding to explore, the girl would probably be objectified to some extent and used as a status thing for the two boys competing for leadership and power.

If you haven't read it, you really must! It gave me a whole new perspective on life, as ultimately everything can be pared down to what it would be like on an island. Even a theme such as materialism can arguably lie in the use of shells for necklaces and the quality of houses that they build and fight over.

Quick update! New job and work experience

Finished exams, at last, and since last Saturday, I've finally got a part time job at my local pub and have got work experience in public relations and advertising lined up to start tomorrow, which I am really excited about. And of course, today is the Diamond Jubilee and the village street party. I made a pavlova with a Union Jack flag made up of blueberries, strawberries and lightly whipped cream as my contribution to the occasion - photo should come up soon, as soon as it's loaded.

Sorry for the short post but without it, there would be thirteen posts and I don't really like that number! x

The appeal of living in the country

(This is just a short piece that I wrote about the appeal of the countryside when I wanted to write but wasn't sure what to write about - it's quite rambling.)

Living in the country is an idea that many of us hold close to our hearts, but asking why this is – why country living holds so much appeal – is difficult to explain. I am not a practical person but to shortly list the realities of country life would be pretty easy – to start with, the sheer cost of petrol and the lack of buses mean that it’s not very cost effective to pop out to the shops to buy some milk it’s suddenly ran out, each journey must be planned and everything generally takes much longer (although, it must be said that it would be considerably quicker than travelling in the centre of London, or any city centre for that matter).

Country living evokes feelings of nostalgia, looking back or imagining a childhood spent feeding horses handfuls of grass or sitting on top of hay bales, watching the sun rise and the sun set over a patchwork landscape of green and bright yellow fields. It brings up the sense of community that is so often lost in cities and towns, where people don’t smile or say hello because there are just so many people, all walking quickly down the streets to different places for different ends. It is of course also tied heavily to the homes where people do live in the country – whether it’s the chocolate box cottages, the farmhouses with original fireplaces and floorboards to lust after, or the perfectly ordinary houses with beautiful views. It’s the wild flowers on the windowsill that look like they’ve been freshly picked from the garden, whether they have been or not, or the kitchen that’s filled with the warm comforting smell of yeast from an afternoon spent baking bread.

Arguably, it’s about a certain lifestyle. Keeping chickens, pigs or even bees, growing vegetables or keeping a pot of herbs on the windowsill, are all stepping stone towards being self-sufficient – something that would be essential back when transport was not so easy to come by. Walking dogs, especially two or three black Labradors – what seems the staple to a country house existence – attending gatherings to celebrate anything from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to the aftermath of the village fete, and not forgetting having everyone know everyone else’s business (even to whether Mrs Pots is having roast beef for supper or if the vicar was right and she was cooking roast pork and apple after all).  

Ultimately, however, the undeniable appeal of country living is perhaps a throwback to a time gone by – a time which seems simpler, maybe just because we didn’t live it, and altogether prettier. It’s gentler, it’s relaxing, and it’s pure unadulterated escapism. What’s extra nice is that I still love the village where I live even after years of living there, suggesting that the allure is timeless. Even though we still don’t keep chickens and don’t live in the perfect pretty cottage yet (the walls still half-painted, the unsightly plumbing in the bathroom still there – the list goes on and on), as well as the whole one hundred village ‘natives’ living generally in fleeces and grubby wellington boots, it is quite lovely and actually rather beautiful.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Why it's called Three Words

No, it's not 'I love you'.

It's because I was completely stuck at finding a good name for this blog and thought of all the blogs I love - Cupcakes & Cashmere, Into the Gloss, etc. They all had three words and as I tried out things like Chocolate & Strawberries, Sugar and Spice, I just couldn't find anything that sounded remotely good. Eventually I decided on 'three words' and thought that it successfully encompassed all the things that I wanted to write about - food, books, experiences, my musings and anything more that I would want to write about in the future.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Pear tarte tatin

I love this recipe: Even though it's one of those recipes that I always think is going horribly wrong whilst I'm cooking, it always seems to fall into place somehow. I made it yesterday and here are the results - not quite photogenic yet but still good to eat on a Sunday evening, the spices and brandy adding a touch of warmth. And that, below, is my kitchen, and my dog, Susie - a very cuddly cocker spaniel!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Sigmund Freud: The essentials of psychoanalysis

Currently, I'm making my way through Sigmund Freud's 'The Essentials of Psychoanalysis' as part of my further reading for psychology. It was surprising to read the argument that Freud puts forward to the reader, the way that he challenges his own ideas as if presuming the reader's response. Whilst this was at some points a little patronising, it was actually very easy to read and comprehend. I could just imagine Freud sitting in a lovely little apartment in Vienna typing away at the keyboard, a true genius at work. His proposed Oedipus complex (the idea that young boys develop intense affection for their mothers but fear damaging their relationship with their father, leading to them relating to their father and developing his masculine characteristics) is perhaps so controversial because it dares to to take away our believed innocence of children; however, Freud admits this and suggests that he also slightly objects to the concept, even though he must have believed in it fervently.

What seems most fascinating, however, is the idea that 'the child is the parent of the adult'. I have a whole page of colourful notes devoted to the ego - what is, to quote Freud, a 'superficial facade lying between reality and the id', guarding against the danger that the id or subconsciousness ('a cauldron full of seething excitations', with a dominance of the pleasure principle and filled with instincts for hunger and love') might cause in trying to satisfy its want for pleasure. Here, Freud quotes Schiller, a German poet: 'hunger and love are what drives the world'. Whereas the 'super ego' pressurises the ego into controlling the id with moral principles that a child learns as they develop - instilling inside of them a sense of pride, punishing any bad feelings with guilt. Then there are the defence mechanisms, repressing unwanted thoughts into the subconsciousness, displacing feelings onto others, simple denial or identifying with someone else.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Is this the most beautiful advert ever?

Miss Dior Eau de Parfum

Okay... I know this advert has been popping up in magazines for months but it's still my favourite advert ever. Everytime I see it, I feel a little burst of happiness - Natalie Portman is just so beautiful and just because of this, I'm ashamed to say that I've been tempted to buy the Miss Dior eau de parfum. However, I have resisted. As Bridget Jones once said, 'I once read that you shouldn't go out with a man if you can think of three reasons not to', the eau de parfum is firstly, far too expensive when I have a whole list of things for summer to buy (including a few not-so-essential-things - I have my eye on a MAC lipstick, Benefit Sugarbomb blusher, Dior Addict lipgloss, Clinique Dramatically Different moisturiser, Burt's Bees milk & honey body lotion and bareminerals original SPF15 foundation); secondly, I just can't buy a perfume just because of the advert; and lastly, it smells gorgeous and expensive in the bottle but on me, it smells a little bit old-fashioned. For now then, I'm seriously thinking of buying a poster of the advert to put up on my wall...

Chocolate tiffin bars

This gorgeous recipe is another one borrowed. I babysit for a lovely family just up the road and made this with the kids - it was jotted down on a piece of notepaper and was their grandmother's recipe. It is really easy to make and perfect to pop in the treat tin for when guests arrive. However, as typical me, I have since lost the recipe. The amonts of each ingredient are rough estimations and if you do want to try this, feel free to add more or less of anything as you think fit.
 I scrunched some digestive biscuits - about half of a big pack - and blitzed in the Kenwood mixer until it has the texture of rough sand. I then melted a generous slice of butter in the microwave, added an awful lot of golden syrup - about six tablespoons - and three tablespoons Cadburys hot chocolate powder. Adding this to the biscuits, I then tipped in a handful of dark plump raisins and roughly chopped pecans.

In the meantime, I put a pan of water onto the heat and in a glass bowl, making sure the bottom did not touch the water, melted the milk chocolate in one bowl, occasionally swapping the bowl of milk chocolate with the bowl of white chocolate and so on until they are both melted. I then pressed the biscuits into a lined largish brownie tin and poured over the melted milk chocolate. I added dollops of the white chocolate and spread it with a spatula to add a pretty marbled finish - this bit is a little tricky to make sure the white chocolate doesn't simply disappear into the milk chocolate.

Pop in the fridge for a few hours or overnight and once set, it should come out with a gentle tap. Slice on a chopping board into small squares, arrange in a tin lined with a piece of kitchen paper and enjoy!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Blueberry Hill, my dream bistro

I've been dreaming again of having a little bistro. I would call it Blueberry Hill and it would be lovely - having the comfort and simple pleasure of popping around a friend's for coffee, there would be a farmhouse kitchen feel to it, with scrubbed wooden tables with benches at either side - perfect for office or birthday parties - and smaller, more intimate table settings, each with a jug of freshly picked meadow flowers. In the morning, there'd be glossy baking pastries, bowls of fruit salad, good rich coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. Then, there would only be a few things on the menu, all seasonal and freshly made. Think crab, fennel and chilli linguine as one of the mains, then a choice of gooey salted caramel chocolate fondant, English pear tarte tatin or apple pie creme brulee, served with clotted cream ice cream or homemade custard, speckled with grainy flecks of vanilla pod seeds. A girl can dream...

Psychology taster course at Nottingham University

The weekend before last, I attended a psychology taster course at Nottingham University and have been meaning to write a post about it ever since. It was a great experience; not only were the lectures incredibly good but it was also a valuable insight into student life. My heart’s always been set on a degree in English Literature but I wanted to look at other options as well, just to make sure I was doing the right thing for me. The emotional side of psychology really does interest me and it was this that the latter half of the taster course was based upon – things like the paranormal, criminal profiling and Freudian dream analysis. The dream analysis especially was useful to me as I was finishing off my book and analysing books in English Literature.
So, it’s still English for me. I've just managed to get two weeks of work experience at a PR and advertising agency in June, which I'm really excited about. There's just a lot of revision to do now for May exams (eep!) and my bedroom is plastered in colourful mind maps and sheets. I'm also trying to get my book, 'The Amethyst Bird', published by approaching literary agents - it's a young adult novel, based upon a world torn apart by war and about a boy, Harry, who is forced to survive by himself after the Authority takes away his mother. I've been writing books like that ever since I was about seven, from toys that escape their toy shop to live on an island to 'The Dog that Travelled Around the World' - complete with pictures made on Paint. I hope this one is a bit more grown-up than those last two though!

Sunday roast shoulder of lamb

I’m meant to be revising for my AS exams in May but have instead decided to spend this Sunday in the kitchen. After having a lie-in, fresh coffee and a flick through the Sunday Telegraph, I went to work on a recipe for shoulder of lamb. It was based on one dating back to 1660, written by Robert May in his book ‘The Accomplish’t Cook’. It was meant to have oysters added to the gravy but I decided not to include them, not only because to me, they taste of congealed sea water, but also because they would have doubled the cost of ingredients. Lamb is pricey enough anyway!

I bought a bone-in shoulder (weighing about 2.3kg), took it out of the fridge in the morning and seasoned it with 1 tablespoon finely chopped dried marjoram, the zest of 1 lemon, a generous grating of nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon salt. Once the shoulder was cooked, and it took about two hours in a hot oven, the gravy was made by returning 2 tablespoons of the fat to the roasting tin, heating gently and cooking a peeled and finely chopped shallot, just to soften, then by adding 1 tablespoon plain flour, stirring and cooking until lightly browned; once the roasting juices were stirred in to make a smooth gravy, some freshly boiled water was added from the kettle to make it go further but still be quite thick.

I served the lamb with dauphinoise potatoes made with an indulgent amount of cream, butter and cheese, then lightly steamed purple sprouting broccoli from the garden and carrots, parboiled then roasted in the oven in 3 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly mixed together with a dash of soy sauce and generous squeeze of sweet chilli sauce.

Crab, fennel and chilli linguine with crab toasts

I first had this crab linguine at the Alice Lisle Inn, a charming 18th century inn tucked away on a quiet gentle track in the New Forest. There was just a tiny spoonful of freshly chopped red chilli so not to overpower the delicate white crab meat, and a crab toast served beside it – essentially, a big soft chewy crouton smothered in crab pâté.

I used this recipe for the linguine (the first one on the page) but omitted the fennel seeds, using only the white crab meat and setting the brown crab meat aside for the pâté, as well as decorating each bowlful of pasta with a slice of red chilli.

For the crab toasts, I used this recipe for the pâté – made with an awful lot of butter – but used all brown crab meat and served it spread generously onto a thick slice of ciabatta, brushed with extra virgin olive oil and popped under the grill to crisp up.

To make it more colourful, I threw together some crispy green salad leaves –I love the sweetness and crunchiness of Romaine lettuce at the moment offset by the sharpness of watercress leaves – and served it up family-style on the table for people to help themselves. This is now my go-to main for summer entertaining at the moment just because it’s pretty easy to put together and delicious.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The universally acknowledged truth...

My lovely, gorgeous, beautiful dog Susie – who is happy to dance with me in the kitchen, listen to me serenade her with Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’ and understands the universally acknowledged truth, that when times get tough, out comes the duvet, the tub of clotted cream ice cream and Bridget Jones.

Photograph          Victoria Williams

Baked raspberry cheesecake with gold glitter

I baked this raspberry cheesecake today, one of my go-to dinner party puds. I followed this recipe – – using blueberries as well as raspberries and adding a light dusting of edible gold glitter for a touch of glamour. This really is quite simple to make and very indulgent!
Photograph       Victoria Williams

'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication'

The definition of simplicity is the ‘property, condition, or quality of being simple or uncombined’; the ‘absence of luxury or showiness… of affectation or pretence’, the ‘lack of sophistication or subtlety… of good sense or intelligence’, ‘the clarity of expression’ and ‘austerity in embellishment’. Suddenly, the abstract notion of simplicity becomes at once complicated and intricate – difficult to understand and perhaps even trickier to recreate. This quote of Leonardo da Vinci seems to make perfect sense if one thinks of those things in life that are so very simple yet so endearingly beautiful, like the dreamy gorgeousness of an idyllic summer: barefooting in pretty summer dresses through the long days and balmy evenings with joyful abandon, the rose-scented air heavy with possibility and the French windows thrown open to the warm sunshine.
However, if simplicity is by definition a ‘lack of sophistication’, it could be argued that this is a complete contradiction. Sophistication could be interpreted as a certain complexity but on the other hand, might also be understood as style and elegance. It is another abstract concept and is also very subjective; the spectacle of Gatsby’s parties in Fitzgerald’s novella, ‘The Great Gatsby’, where ‘men and girls [come] and [go] like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars’ might seem to one as the embodiment of luxury and sophistication, whilst to another, the ‘salads of harlequin designs… and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold’ might be seen as a vulgar show of immense wealth, much like the banquets given by Trimalchio in the ‘Satyricon’ of Petronius.
Sophistication might only be truly sophisticated when it is completely accidental; after all, things do seem more romantic when they’re spontaneous (please take note – I would love to be taken to Paris to drift around the exquisite patisseries and horribly expensive boutiques sometime please). One of the most beautiful and perhaps sophisticated kitchens I’ve ever been in lay inside one of the lovely old farmhouses in the village. Inside, there was a steaming crimson AGA where a copper pan of hot milk gently simmered and beside it, Green & Blacks dark chocolate ready to be tipped into the milk. A faded sofa – the favourite sleeping spot of several golden Labradors – was upholstered in a vintage fabric printed with delicate trailing flowers and tucked away beneath a low wooden beam. The hot chocolate was ladled out into chipped mugs and served with a plateful of homemade dark sticky ginger cake, rich with molasses and warm spice. Nothing in that kitchen was new or perfectly clean but it was so lovely and welcoming.

So to conclude my first post (a bit of a mish-mash really with me not really sure what to write about!) the best, sophisticated things in life are often the simplest. Of course, it has to be said that simplicity takes time, work and where material things are concerned, money – it’s ‘clarity of expression’ and ‘quality’ above ‘showiness’. Sometimes the things that seem simple to us are that way because they’re just right.