Drrrumroll please….ta daaa! My new blog, Sosusie in the City, is up and running.

Hello all,

I’ve moved to http://www.sosusieinthecity.com

Thanks to all of you that have read this blog, it’s so very exciting when you realise that people are reading what you’re writing and whilst I’ve always written not for an audience but for myself, and will continue to do so, it’s really special to know that there are people that have taken the time to read my ramblings.

I love this blog – it’s going to stay right where it is but please, do come with me to my new home Sosusie in the City where I’ll be saying more of yes and a lot less of no. There’ll be recipes, places to go out, things to do, more ramblings, a bit of style and a bit more rambling.

Thanks so much for stopping by and I look forward to seeing you over at Sosusie in the City.

I’ll leave you with a reminder of two of my most popular posts from this blog:

A Christmas pudding recipe and, an afternoon out in Walthamstow

Working on a new blog

It’s taken me rather longer than anticipated and I had to enlist the help of a friend to work on the design/building of my new blog. I’m just writing up a couple of posts so that it’s not totally empty when I ‘launch’ it. It’ll be up and running in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve really missed blogging but it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a few months so it’s probably been good for me to have a little break.

More news shortly.

I’ll leave you with a photo of me about to tuck in to a delicious Sunday Roast, love how there is such a good veg portion, at The Old Dairy in North London. We’re a bit spoilt round here as there are several pubs that do a good Sunday Roast. Even though I love cooking, there’s something about heading out to a nice pub for my Sunday lunch that really appeals to me.

Susie eating a roast at the pub

Susie xx

Not my usual festival or..Blogstock 2014

A couple of  weekends ago saw me hanging about in a field with way too much glitter on my face, par for the course you may say, seeing as it’s festival season but no…far, far from par as this festival was not my usual music shindig but a blogging festival!? Yes, that’s right…a festival where the line-up consisted of talks/seminars and workshops on a number of blogging related topics and..it was absolutely FABULOUS! I kid you not, I had SUCH a good weekend.

I booked a ticket to Blogstock 2014 not long after they’d gone on sale. The rather brilliant Niamh Shields, she of Eat Like a Girl and The Blaggers Banquet, was going to be curating the foodie offerings and doing a talk and, having missed her Guardian Masterclass (on purpose coz I couldn’t afford it), I jumped at the chance to hear her talk.

I arrived onsite (after declining to share a cab from the train station with Niamh so that I could go and check in to my hotel…yes, yes…I know, shoulda camped really but, I WAS pretty pleased with myself when it bucketed it down on Friday night and I tucked myself into bed to watch a film) JUST in time to catch Niamh’s talk! And, as is always the case with Niamh, she left me completely fired up and inspired and this set the tone for the rest of the festival. After Niamh’s talk, I took a moment to wander round the site and it wasn’t long before the rather wonderful Sarah of Sarah Betty and The Fashion Galleries (which was doing a pop-up shop for the duration of the festival and was also hosting the fashion talks) had engaged me in conversation. The Fashion Galleries became kind of like my ‘home’. I didn’t know and hadn’t engaged with ANY of the other bloggers before pitching up at Blogstock so it was really good to have a place that I could default to if needed (which it mostly wasn’t) and, if Sarah at any time felt that I was being a bit of a stalker, she certainly didn’t show it. I’d anticipated giving all the fashion stuff a bit of a wide berth but, aside from the lovely Sarah, The Fashion Galleries had something that made me feel SO at home, and that something was…….

GLITTER. Ta dah.

Blogstock glitter

The Fashion Galleries also had some pretty cool pieces for sale; I particularly liked the London postcode bangles from Whistle & Bango and couldn’t resist a piece from crown and glory.

Blogstock Crown and Glory headpiece

And here I am looking rather pleased with myself, drinking my first ever Matcha tea drink which was a freebie on the Saturday morning. Thanks Vivid Drinks! It was actually pretty damn good.

Blogstock smiley Susie

Actually, there was quite a lot of free stuff (definitely not like my usual festival!). Free supper for all on Friday evening, free brunch, free popcorn, free booze including cocktails (though I did have to make my own!). Probably should have been listening to a debate or attending a talk or something but, you know, it can’t all be work work work..can it!? Well, anyway, I opted for cocktail making class and made myself two huge Appleton Rum cocktails. As usual, I had to tweak the recipes to get the drinks just right but, never fear…I succeeded.

Blogstock cocktail class

These were our opponents, they won the first round and we, the second. Hmmm…funny that! Very fair.

Blogstock Appletons still life close

Blogstock Appletons still life

Super cute cocktail shaker set, not sure how useful the mini shaker is though.

The Saturday night Fiendishly Hard Quiz..(that’s my name for it, not the official name).

Blogstock quiz

And here…ta daaahhh…is a bottle of champers being popped by the winning team which was..ahem, my team.

Blogstock quiz champagne

I went to sessions on food blogging, food photography (which, we all know, I’m crap at), finding your mojo (which I need to do generally speaking), doing what I love, getting the most from your smartphone photography, the power of niche, working with fashion PRs and how to make it big in fashion blogging. There were so many other sessions that I wanted to attend but wasn’t able to and I’ll most definitely be going again next year. The whole event was well organised, interesting and useful and it just felt really friendly. Lots of the bloggers, particularly the travel bloggers, knew each other but they were all very welcoming and I felt quite at home and comfortable (but still inspired).

The weekend helped me to decide where I want to go next with blogging which, in part, is saying goodbye to this blog and hello to a new one, but it was also just a darn good weekend away.

Thanks to Traverse for organising an absolutely brilliant event. I shall definitely be signing up to attend your London mixers and I’ll be at Blogstock 2015….with bells on (wish I could stop with the Grease references).

 

How to find a nice pair of shoes when your feet resemble paddles or where to get a pair of wide fitting shoes

Search, search and search the internet bringing up ugly shoe after ugly shoe and then…BINGO. The title of this post could be a little misleading as I’m only going to talk about one, very exciting, source of wide fitting shoes.

I have an issue, I’m quite particular about what I wear. I may not strike you as the fussy type, I mean..no offence to me but, I don’t immediately come across as a particularly well dressed, stylish kinda gal. But I am, in my head. The problem is that I don’t fit into the things that are available on the high street that are aimed at my sort of demographic and the things that I do fit into are not, well, me. My shoe of choice is a Converse low top (and that has completely informed the way that I dress), but, I’m shoe mad. I can’t travel to work without appreciating at least one pair of shoes and I’m forever on the hunt for the shoes that I lust after in a size that, at least, almost fit.

Enter Shoes of Prey, an Australian based company that was started in 2009 by two Google execs, and one advertising and law exec with a vision and the gumption to do something about it (unlike me, who has toyed with the idea of setting up some sort of shoe company, to address my shoe woes, for years).

I ummed and aahed about the ridiculousness of getting a pair of custom made shoes from Australia and then I thought, sod it, they offer a stupidly good returns policy. In the end it felt like a bit of a no-brainer.

You can get an idea of the kind of shoes you could design but in order to actually start designing your ‘dream’ shoes, you have to set up an account – which is no biggie really. Once I’d set up my account I got started, taking one of their standard templates, the ballet pump, and seeing what it would look like in different colours and fabrics, with this trim or without. I looked at their galleries, for inspiration (because, it turns out, shoe designing doesn’t come that naturally to me) and watched lots of their videos.

You can save your designs as you go, building up a library of shoes, and I don’t think that there’s a limit to how many shoes you can have in your library so you can properly compare looks. I really wanted to design a bold pair of shoes but I thought it would be best to go with something that I could wear everyday that had a slight edge to it and ta daaaa….

At the ordering stage you can specify things like EXTRA WIDE fitting, but you can’t give further details (which feels a little worrying) but once your order has been received, Shoes of Prey get in touch with instructions for measuring your feet and then, that’s it. Just the month long wait for delivery.

Except…, I got an email to say that my shoes had been fast-tracked (I suspect that they do that with all new orderers) with a photo of my actual finished shoes. Which was REALLY exciting.

When the shoes arrived I was so, absolutely excited. And, they were packaged so beautifully – everything about them felt special and (sorry, I know it sounds shallow but…), the instant that I put them on I felt like the proper grown-up woman that I want to be.

Package left on my desk.

Waiting for me on my desk one morning.

And so begins a little game of pass the parcel (with me as the only unwrapper!).

SOP first layer SOP second layer SOP third layer

There was another layer, the shoes in a lovely little shoe bag, but my photo of that is really, really crap.

Tee hee. This makes them look as though they're longer and significantly bigger than my keyboard.

This makes the shoes look as though they’re longer and significantly bigger than my keyboard! Pah ha.

In truth, the shoes do pinch a little but I think that that was because I measured my feet myself and I suspect that that’s something you should enlist help for. And, I could have sent them back to be altered but…I just didn’t want to.

Next on my list is a pair of leopard print ballet flats, I have them there ready to order and then…I dunno, maybe another ballet pump or a shoe/boot. I’m so SO happy to have found this company with their fantastic product and second to none customer service and no, this isn’t a sponsored post.

But first, enjoying these little beauties (note the Instagram-alike shot).

SOP instagram shot

Music to blog to….

A Crouch End supper club with the fam.

I love eating out, but I also love gathering family and friends around me and eating in (neither of which have I done enough of in recent years). Last Saturday I managed to do both at the same time! How did I do that I hear you ask…by attending a supper club, the Crouch End Secret Supper Club, the perfect marriage of eating out whilst feeling as though you’re eating in. And, I had the loveliest evening.

I’d been to this particular supper club once before when S & S took me as a birthday treat and this time the tables were turned as I was taking them out to celebrate their birthdays.

As S & S live between us and the supper club we agreed that we’d just call for them on our way there which was really just an excuse to sneak a peek at their ridiculously cute new puppy, DJ, he’s so funny and really quite odd looking. He seemed to be interested in everything and everyone and looked more like a wind-up toy than a dog (especially when doing his backward walking – his favourite). DJ 1

DJ the pomeranian – he’s at least half fluff!

DJ 2

He’s nine weeks old here – so sweet.

Now, I have to say (yes J I know it’s pointless but, humans will be humans) that the Crouch End Secret Supper Club will, almost certainly, give you house envy and, if you’re female, it may also give you woman envy because Catherine, the co-host, comes across as a bit of a superwoman, to say the least…the very least (sorry, that’s a Grease reference). The last time I went, Catherine had just flown in the day before from a work trip to China and she still had the energy to join her twenty five guests at the end of the evening for a chat and a glass of wine – I’d have been tucked up, fast asleep, under a duvet (or curled up in a ball in the kitchen, pulling my hair out).

When S & S and I went last time, we didn’t talk to the other diners much and, though I’d really enjoyed myself, I didn’t feel as though I’d had a proper supper club experience. But, I knew that I wanted to go back again. So, it’d seem a little odd, to go again but in an even bigger group, right? Wrong. I think because there were so many of us (six), it meant that those of us that wanted to mingle could do so easily without feeling like we were ignoring the people that we’d come with and we’d chosen a good night to attend because everyone seemed in a talkative and friendly mood.

CESS fellow diners

Two of our fellow diners, they’d heard about the supper club because Catherine and Robert had opened their home up a few weeks back as part of the Crouch End Open Studios (they have lots of wonderful paintings on show in the ‘dining’ room).

We were met at the door by a smiling Catherine who ushered us through to the dining room which was configured in a different way to my last visit and somehow looked more restaurant like.

CESS tables

It was a lovely, warm evening and the dining room doors had been completely opened so that the room merged with the garden. Several diners had already arrived by the time we got there and most were taking advantage of the balmy weather, perching on the decked patio or venturing further afield into the stepped garden. We were brought our welcome cocktail, a golden mojito, and settled ourselves in to the outdoor kitchen area beyond the decking to await A’s arrival.

 

CESS Sunlight golden mojito

Mmm mmm mmm, enjoying my golden cocktail bathed in golden sunlight. Mwah ha.

CESS crab rangoons

Crab rangoons (not sure if these are rangoons as they’re shaped differently to those of the other guests) made especially for me. Thank you so much to the supper club for the enormous effort put in to accommodate my unfortunate (allium) allergy.

 

 

CESS chatting

 

CESS a table

A, D, S & S and J, all behaving beautifully, seated and ready to chow down.

The supper club provides still and sparkling water but if you’re wanting to drink anything else you best bring it with you. We took a very modest three bottles of wine and a classy carton of orange juice!

CESS risotto

First course ‘proper’ Broad bean and asparagus risotto which was beautifully cooked and flavoursome.

Unfortunately my phone camera can’t really cope with low lighting and, as the evening progressed and the light outside faded, candles were lit and the lighting inside was kept at ambient. My photo taking gave up the ghost and I just got on with enjoying the food, the lovely service, the atmosphere and the company.

CESS sorbet

This was meant to be a gooseberry palate cleanser but because of a dearth of gooseberries became a strawberry and basil sorbet instead.

The sorbet was one of the highlights of the meal for me, just because it was so intensely flavoured but still had such a freshness and lightness about it. The risotto was also high on my list of favourites and a special mention must also go to the chicken which was wonderfully tender and the chocolate fondant which was just oozing with gooey chocolatey richness.

One of the downsides of the crappy past few weeks that I’ve had, of which I’ve not talked much about, is that I’m finding that I get very very tired, very easily so, by the time we had eaten the main course I was flagging slightly. I don’t disagree with the decision they took to show England’s first World Cup game, but I do think that it changed the atmosphere -making it different, not worse – and I struggled to keep my head in the evening from then on.

CESS Catherine at work

Catherine at work in the kitchen which is at the front of the house and overlooks the dining room. Genuis.

Of course the food is good, but what really strikes me about this supper club is the scale of it, from the number of guests (it’s a pretty slick operation – there’s no way that I could serve perfectly cooked chicken to twenty plus people at the same time and, more to the point, on time!) to the number of courses. And the effort that Catherine and Robert go to to make the evening enjoyable and a success is incredible. I think that every savoury dish they served had garlic or onions in it and I was served the same menu as everybody else except that my courses had been cooked absolutely from scratch (meaning that where a bought (organic, of course) stock may have been used, a stock was made for me to ensure that there were no traces of anything at all that might react badly with me) now THAT is service. I felt a bit bad because I can actually eat cooked onions with no ill effect (I did say this in my email) and I can eat the things that I can’t eat (if you see what I mean), I just have to eat them in very small quantities and they will still make me feel ill. But, I suppose, it’s easier (on the mind) to err on the side of caution with these things.

There was a big group of people there, also celebrating a birthday, and Catherine had gone to the trouble of baking a cake for the birthday girl on top of everything else.

I’m absolutely sure that I’ll return to this supper club, as they concentrate on cooking seasonally maybe I’ll pay them a visit once per season. I’d highly recommend going, it’s a proper night out, don’t expect to be home before midnight because you’ll still be eating cheese (with home baked bread), sipping on coffee with a little homemade sweet or biscuit on the side, or slurping wine and chewing the cud with an interesting mix of people then. I, for one, am back to thinking about my (doubt it’ll ever happen) very own supper club.

Don’t eat much all day, don’t wear anything too fitted and book yourself a taxi – that’s my advice.

CESS Lollipop head golden mojito

Final bonus photo. This had me cracking up, I look like a ‘lollipop’ head (or as though my head has been stuck on) which is kind of funny when you consider the shape and size of my body.

Music to blog to….

 

 

 

Not my normal night down the pub – or, life drawing at The Old Dairy

The other day I was feeling a little off colour and on the road to exhausted and I decided that I couldn’t face heading off to French class after work. Instead, I set off for home at a very respectable hour but, I got waylaid. See…this was a Wednesday and every other Wednesday evening there is a life drawing session, Life Draw N4, at The Old Dairy (which I pass on my walk home) but somehow, it always seems to fall on the Wednesdays when I am not free. So, I thought…why not pop in and see if it’s on tonight (I don’t think that I’d got as far as thinking that I’d join in if it was on, more…I’d just find out what the deal was). As I approached the pub I noticed a little board outside proclaiming that someone was gonna get nekkid tonight – and I knew, before I’d even taken a step inside, that I was going to end up staying and joining in (ahem, with the drawing not the nudity).

I can be quite shy and retiring (yes really) and I don’t much like being in situations where I might draw attention to myself (yes really, again) so, for example, I never used to like taking photos of the bands that we had playing at Women on the Verge (but I felt like I ought to try to take them), and I don’t like situations where there is a particular way of doing things and I don’t know what that way is (I think it’s to do with always feeling as though I take up too much space, physically, and trying to look and be smaller than I am) so an empty (of people, almost) room whose walls were lined with chairs so close that each one touched its neighbour (which therefore meant that I might be touching my neighbour) did not make me feel at ease. What did put me at ease was the woman who was in charge of the session who explained how it all worked and that sometimes there are lots of people and sometimes not but that it’s all very casual and you can sit where you want, rearrange the seating to suit you etc. The only other person there, when I arrived, also helped to put me at ease, chatting away to me and asking me lots of questions.

The session cost £7 with a donation for paper and all the supplies that you need are provided. Once I’d selected my paper, charcoals and vantage point I went off and bought me a little Dutch courage in the form of a lovely glass of red.

I didn’t find that my drawing flowed but I really enjoyed the couple of hours that the session ran for, I found that my head cleared (a blessing) and I felt relaxed. I’m DEFINITELY going to go back once this course of French is over and I think that I’ll try working with a medium other than charcoal.

Drawing H at the Old Dairy

It’s not what you think (middle top drawing). The bottom picture was the last one that I did and that was the thirty minute pose.

Ha ha….ahem, I just noticed the shadow from my photo taking hand – oops, sorry. Odd.

PS – the life drawing is actually every Wednesday now, just goes to show how out of date I am/was.

 

Me Made May – or, finally joining in.

*fanfare*….ta daaaaa…..Me-Made-May 2014

YAY!!!!!!….I’ve made my pledge, I’m doing it! I can’t remember when I first came across this project and decided that next year would be the year that I’d do it and every next year it turned out that I was no further forward with my me made projects and May would roll along and another year would pass me by.

Well, this year, I decided to just do it. I’ve pledged something that is 100% achievable and yet will still be a challenge for me (when you consider that I work full time and about 40% of my evenings are already spoken for across May, not to mention that (seriously) about 80% of my weekend time is already booked). So, here’s my pledge:

‘I, Susie of Sosusie: The Midlife Ramblings of a Teenage Mother sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least two me made items (clothing and accessories) each week for the duration of May 2014′

As a part of this, I plan to: 
Finish off at least one of my knitting projects that I’ve started for myself.
Make one of the four items that I have on my list of makes:
The By Hand London Elisalex dress, Gertie’s Pencil Skirt or Sultry Sheath, or the idea that I’m formulating in my head for a dress.
This is definitely a challenge for me.

Tee hee…I’m too excited. I’ve printed off the final page of the Miette pattern (the cardigan is finished, and has been for at least a year, except for the button band and buttons!) and I’ve sorted through my stash of fabric. I’ve been wanting to get sewing ‘everyday’ wear for myself for ages and this is the kickstart that I need. I also want to do more knitting for myself – it’s not that I haven’t produced anything in the past couple of years, it’s just that none of it has been for me. So, here goes a month of selfishness (and long may it last).

Though I did promise D that his would be the next knitting project that I took on. I don’t think finishing things off counts as breaking that promise though..does it?