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Tuesday 30 July 2019

Lobster, Revisited

Hello maties!
Just a quickie from me today but a longie for you - I've just been reading Joanne's comment on my previous crab sarnie post and realised I have never shared with you my all-time favourite recipe, Crab Fettucine.  Well I'm going to have to address that p.d.q.  and, oh heck, I'm going to have to eat it in the process.  What sacrifices I make for YOU!!

So whilst flipping through old posts for a non-existent crab recipe, I stumbled upon this old post (FIND IT HERE) and I'm excited to repeat it here today because,
1.  Its focus is probably my favourite 3-course summer meal EVER (all sooo easy) and,
2.  The synchronicity is uncanny, it tells me that we were clearing the old sheds three years ago almost to the day and the new She-Shed build started yesterday.  It took me a while to replace my Leaning Sheds Of Poutland but I got there, eventually!

Now, please wade through my vintage post, get to the domestic goddess the recipes), and try this for yourself - and if you're not a lover of seafood the lobster can easily be replaced with cooked chicken.

My Post From 28 July 2016, Repeated

Hi peeps, thanks for popping in.  It's been all go here today, what with the shed project, shopping and taking His Royal Fluffiness for his pamper session (a grooming at the local vets).

And then, maybe because I was thinking about sunny days and eating al fresco, maybe I was thinking about the friends I made this meal for here, but anyway, I suddenly remembered I promised you some recipes and I hadn't delivered!  And I'm sorry about that.  So I swiftly got on the case.

Now this is a variation on a meal that I usually turn out at least once during the summer months.  Because it's so simple.  It's inspired by a souvenir cook book I picked up when visiting the Newport mansions on Rhode Island.  What an experience!  Allow at least a day to visit just a few of the many mansions available to view.

Anyway, back to the plot.  The food. 
I've strayed from the recipes and format over the years but I do love the concept. 
An extremely easy meal involving little cooking, a bit of preparation and almost all is done in advance.

And that's really the beauty of this tried-and-tested menu.  When your guests arrive, you look (and feel!) calm and collected.  You can enjoy drinks out on the patio with them, at some stage you drift away from your prosecco to pop into the house to fling a few elements together ...
But you serve a meal that is perfect for a summer's evening, that is a doddle to make yet looks and tastes so professional that you cannot fail to impress your guests.  Whilst relaxing and enjoying their wonderful company.

You just cannot go wrong with this menu!  So please, please, give it a go.

Requirements: prepping in advance; a calm, sunny evening; invite people you love.
Recipes serve approx. 6; warning - you may have leftovers :-)

Herby Goats Cheese Dip

1 roll-pack goats cheese
about half pack cream cheese with herbs
squirt of lemon juice
finely chopped fresh thyme and rosemary, or to taste or to what you have to hand
olive oil
A little salt and pepper if required
Perhaps just a spoon-tip of wholegrain mustard

Mash goats cheese with herby cream cheese, quantities to taste but the ratio I used was roughly equal quantities.
Blend in chopped herbs, a spritz of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.
Add a small amount of salt, pepper and/or mustard if required but be light of touch, keep the flavour delicate and predominantly that of the cheese.

Place in a glass bowl; I just love those little Ikea +365 glass dishes, on the left, so useful, so elegantly simple.
 Serve with bruschetta, bread sticks, oat cakes - whatever takes your fancy.  And I recommend it served with chilled prosecco out on the patio! 

Chilled Lobster Tarragon

2 medium-sized cooked lobsters, cut in bite-sized pieces
(I get mine cooked and shelled from our local Crab Cabin, hope you have something similar near you)
A couple of squirts of fresh lemon juice
2 ribs of celery, very finely chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed lightly top and bottom, chopped
3/4 cup full-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
sea salt or plain salt and freshly ground pepper, to tase
6 outer leaves from Little Gem lettuce
lemon cut in 6 wedges

Combine the lobster, juice, spring onions and celery in a bowl.
Mix the mayo and tarragon with seasoning then add the lobster mix.
Place in a covered container and pop in the fridge for a few hours.
To serve: place servings on to the lettuce leaves, with the lemon wedge to the side.

To Serve
Boiled new potatoes, local (as I used) or Jersey Royals and sugar snap peas.

Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar snap peas, about a pound (2 bags), washed and trimmed if necessary
Butter, I use Guernsey butter, of course, but use any rich local butter
Finely chopped chives and basil, or whatever you fancy

Add sugar snaps to rolling boiling water for about a minute or so.  Drain and cool under cold running water.  Put to one side until ready to serve.
To serve, gently heat the butter in a pan (do not burn), add the sugar snaps and herbs and warm through.

Serve this dish with a chilled white - I served Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc on this occasion.  V nice.

Mixed Berry Tart

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup double cream, chilled
1/4 cup castor sugar
6 tartlet shells, I always get mine from M&S
You need roughly 1 cup each of washed & prepared fresh strawberries and blueberries (or other berries)
1/2 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons water
Icing sugar, to dust

Beat the cheese, cream and sugar together in a bowl until the usual stiff peaks form.  Divide between the tartlets. 
(Now I usually end up with extra mix, which I keep in the fridge and have with fresh fruit the next day)
Place the fruit on top the mascarpone mix, as artistically or not as your heart desires!
Combine the jam and water in a little saucepan.  Cook slowly until melted and smooth.
Brush over the top of each tart.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled, which at least 2 hours

To serve: dust with the icing sugar.
(Any left over tarts are super for breakfast the next morning.  Trust me!)

And if you are living in our British climate, retire to the sofas indoors for coffee.  (And a little chocolate :-). )  Because it will no doubt be getting a tad chilly by the time you've lingered over this wonderful meal.

And there you have it - a beautifully light summer's evening menu.  Do I make these recipes sound easy?  Well, that's 'cos they are!
I do hope you try out at least one of the recipes, dear reader.  You won't be disappointed.

Do you have any fave summer lunch/supper recipes to share?
Or menus that make entertaining so easy because they can be prepped well in advance?
I'd love to hear.

Happy Thursday to you all.
A la perchoine.

Saturday 27 July 2019

Saturday Sarnie

Hello my lovelies.
The day has been beautifully sunny.  But then most days have been beautifully sunny, as we have been blessed with another proper summer. 

So today I had planned to write up a recipe I’m keen to share with you.

But I went cliff top shopping.

Then ate crab sandwiches out in the garden back home,

 looking at a pile of wood panels on the lawn, soon to be my new She Shed.

And then got totally sidetracked with said She Shed. 

Which needs its underbelly painting before assembly

Then all I was fit for was a relaxez-vous type of evening.

Wearing this morning’s purchase, a pretty pink kaftan.

Which I slipped over a very old black maxi, and then chilled for the rest of the evening,

So all I can give you food-wise are those pics of my very yummy crab sarnies.  Bon appetit!

A la perchoine,
Mary x 

Thursday 25 July 2019

Slightly Off-Colour

Just popping in with a quickie peeps as today's going to be an el skorchio and I want to max out on it!!!

And I've maxed out on this dress over the years.

It's a go to in summer as it's so easy to wear, skimming the bumpy lumpies and covering my legs' insaney veinies!

I wore it to a christening this past sunny Sunday.

It's from Madeleine and it was described as a beach dress.  Well I call it a posh tea dress and wouldn't dream of beaching with it, though perhaps the Puerto Banus set might wear a posh frock on the playa ...

Now the thing is, I love the quality of Madeleine's pieces, but they are a bit too pricey for my pensioner's purse to support.  However, on a good day with the wind in the right direction, I can just about afford a splurgette.  

And the magic formula for those splurgette conditions?

How to afford a Madeleine dress on a pension

1.  Their beach dresses look like "real" dresses but are in a much kinder price bracket.
2.  They have AMAZING sales.

Get those two stars sync-ing in the heavens and you've just bagged yourself a classy dress!

Accessorising Prints

Now this surprised me ... I normally team this  dress with bright pink as I've always seen it as the print's dominant colour.  
But on closer inspection, I was drawn this time to the red and coral in the dress, so I wore coral jewellery and slipped over my lovely Woolovers coral bead-embellished cashmere cardi.

And I was sooo excited, the two looked fabulous together.  

But ok, that cardi stayed shoved in my bag the whole day (el skorchio, don't ya know?!) but I knew it was there and I knew it was the perfect playmate for this pretty jersey, er, beachdress.

And yes, although the cardi picked out the coral in the dress, the red peep toe espadrilles married in the print's red.  And hey, the (unworn!) cardi was so far removed from the charity-find shoes that there was no jarring of the eyes when looking at this outfit in its pre- el skorchio state.
Do you agree?
And do I worry a little too much about precise colour matching?!

Well, forget colour matching as a precise science!
Yes, my second tip today is that you can pick out the tones of colour from a print and,  indeed,  generally can get away with the slightly-off mismatch of colour if the accessories individually are kept at some distance.

Now,  enough with the tips, I'm off to the beach for a cool-down dip in the sea.
Enjoy your day!

A la perchoine,
Mary x.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Red Isn't Just For Christmas

Hi peeps, it's getting hot over here, but not in a Nelly way!

I'm talking red hot shoes.

I've been drawn to vibrant red of late and I've observed how shoes drive an outfit.  Red shoes have been driving my OOTDs this month.

But first, let's just deal with the elephant here.  Red shoes.  Do we all know what they are supposed to signal?
Some friends of mine got together over a pair of red shoes.  She was wearing them.  His chat up line was to ask her if it was true what they say about red shoes.  She is French and hadn't heard of  the old myth before.   So, embarressed and uncomfortable, he had to spell it out and now they're married with a lovely little family (See what I wore to the wedding HERE)

So that's got that one out the way.  I'm wearing red shoes, to heck with what they say!

Leather flatties, M&S 

These flatties casualise my posh red linen sheath dress (2002, from Alexon).  Worn with a sun hat and red straw bag kept the vibe easy.
This is my attempt at a sightseeing-in-Rome look, which I shall soon be doing, hence the try-ons marathon I'm putting myself through for the next few weeks.  I'm in a what-to-pack panic!

Switch to wedge espadrilles (charity find).

The heeled shoes immediately push the dress into take-me-out-to-dinner territory.  My Il Ristorante look!

But shoes aren't the only thing at play with a red linen sheath.
A spotted scarf can take the dress to another place.  The 60s!

Headscarves are a big thing this summer and this one took me straight back to the early '60s.  Ladies were smarter back then, eh?

A little cream cardi with red embroidered daisies is a perfect slip on for the evening chills.  Which just isn't going to be happening any time soon - are we loving these hot summer nights, ladies?!!

Yes, things are kinda hot around here right now and it's not all down to the abundance of red in my outfits.  It's stinkin' hot!
So shorts have been high on my agenda.  Not the four inch inner leg shorts, no no, for I accept my legs' limitations.
Knee length shorts work for a lady nearing 70, at least I hope they do!

I've recently ditched two pairs of HUGE  knee shorts.  They'd gone way past 90s grunge, they had become so big on me that they were positively clown-like!!
So it was a relief to find myself with some slim fitting replacements that look a trillion times smarter than my circus shorts.  They have become an overnight go-to.
And because I've ditched the baggies, my world has been opened up to new possibilities for shorts, with styling so far removed from when those baggies drove me towards a grungier look with every single wearing.

And thus my current red shoe bonanza pushed me to posh up my Peacocks denim knee shorts.  I love this OOTD, inspired by my red flatties.  I took my cue from the dark wash to team the shorts with a navy linen shell top (Next), added red and navy necklace ... and a red neckerchief used as a headband!  Am I bang on trend or what, ladies?!!!

So red, there's a lot of it about right now and it's not just restricted to my feet.  I'm quite literally top to toeing my red right now.  I may be turning into a tomato ...

Red isn't just for Christmas.  Do YOU like wearing red in summer?

(Oh and in case it's just a British thing, the myth is "red shoes, no knickers"!)

And on that bombshell, 
A la perchoine,
Mary x.

Saturday 20 July 2019

Saturday Sunshine - Paradise

Hello m'hearties!
It's summer in the northern hemisphere but whether you're north or south of the equator, what better way is there than to spend a few minutes in paradise.  My paradise.  Herm.

And few words are necessary on the subject, paradise being abstract, personal and relative.  But here is my own little piece of paradise, in pictures, taken during a recent sunny day trip to my beloved neighbouring island, just a short boat trip away from where I live.


Shell beach.  My ultimate destination.

 My starting point.  St Peter Port, Guernsey's only town.

The ferry ride is no more than 15 minutes.

We're soon passing neighbouring Jethou, heading for Herm waters.

Heading into port.

Landed and ready to explore this little gem.

But first, coffee.

And then a hike around this beautiful island.

Belvoir bay from the cliff path.

Resilient plants grow in the rock face.

Shell beach from afar.

Belvoir bay.

The harbour at low tide.

There's always time for a mooch around the gift shops on the way back to the boat.

The cheerful beach bags were tempting.

Guernsey can be seen in the distance.




I always leave the island uplifted.  

I hope you enjoyed your trip with me.
To Paradise and back in a day.

A la perchoine,
          Mary x.          

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Summer’s LBD - Umpteen Ways

Hello my lovelies, how are you?
Hope all is as well as can be expected and hoped for. 
Here, life at this time of year is full and fun and you find me in my summer holding pattern, fitting in blogs where I can.

So  lets talk about summer LBDs today.
 I do like an LBD.  For ease of wear and an instant fix of style and elegance with little effort required.  My type of outfit.  I've posted on LBDs many times and through the seasons, like 
in summers past.

I recently stumbled upon a wonderful stash of old businesswear bought in the summer of 2002.   Stuff I don't really wear in retirement but which I cannot bear to part with is as I love each single piece and each single piece cost me a bloomin' small fortune, back in my former life.   Naturally in amongst the pile the carefully stored choice pieces was an LBD.

And thus I was reunited with this simple but stylish black linen lined sheath/shift dress from East.  I set upon seeing how I could wear it in retirement with some more casual styling, something I would never have done when I was wearing it solidly through my working summers.  Back then it was teamed with stilettos, little jackets and real jewellery. 

So here's the more casual makeover I gave my summer LBD.

Tan accessories always tone down an LBD and bring a casual vibe to the piece.
I would say this was my favourite and most successful styling, so if you want to close down this page now, please do, my work is done!


Little gold sandals and bag are fine tor a dinner date, but not really how I want to make this dress work for me in the life I lead now.

Sludgy tones in this silk scarf make it a wearable option for my now.

Noooo, a gauzy gold shawl and sandals does NOT make this dress casual!!!

Yes, you're back on track, Pout - a summer hat and silver sandals DO lend a casual vibe to the LBD.

OK I just couldn't resist this ... a 60s headscarf!  I see this as a Jackie Onassis sightseeing look, do you?

A pout is a good accessory ,,, but NOT that gold bag, Pout!

This is where I need to be.  Tan tan tan.  And hats. 

And yes, this hat below worked too.

And ivory and red work so well with the LBD for a Lady Who Lunches look.
I bought the little ivory crochet hat in San Francisco whilst on a business trip and on a July day when the weather changed the weather from rainy to hot in a few short hours.  So it's exactly 20 years old.  🎶 Happy birthday 🎵, little hat!
TP's view on the hat?  "It looks like you have a pancake on your head."  But I think he's wrong, do you too?  It's cute.

So to casualise a summer LBD, I can see that tan is the big winner here.  Summer hats and sandals work.  Straw bags work.

Adding a scarf always works, IMHO.

And back to that 60s headscarf  - it works, if you're into ageing film star glamour!

By this time the poor photographer had been through a huge amount of accessory changes, and "the carrot" I have him was that he could choose what I wore that evening.  So when he saw the addition of a white print linen shirt from my 2002 stash he said ...

"That's what I want you to wear for our dinner date!"  But on reflection I guess he may have thought this would stop the interminable accessorising and his snapping duty would end so maybe this wasn't really his fave, just an easy get out of jail card!

And on that bombshell, let's summarise what can be done with a summer linen LBD.

On its own, worn simply with no jewellery and silver sandals, creates easy casual elegance.


Hat with black polka trim, tan bag and wedge espadrilles works.
Oh change of mind, this is my fave look - now aren't you glad you stayed with me?!!


Biting on sunglasses creates more Hollywood glamour but that is not the point of this little exercise!

Throwing a wild card into the beauty parade, an embellished cardi and toning glitzy belt is a nice look and is something I'd wear on amother date night, but it's slightly outside of my casualising the LBD remit, so let's move swiftly on.

Yes I did go a little totally off-piste with diaphanous shawls.

And yes, headscarves were a step outside my remit too,
but I think I mostly stayed on track and achieved what I set out to do.  Work a posher LBD into my summer-casual wardrobe.

How are you on summer LBDs?
Do they fit into your more casual lifestyle?
What time do you have to make businesswear retirementwear?

A la perchoine,
Mary x,