04 April 2017

Never seen before Jackie Kennedy letters sold at auction

The recently discovered letters between the beautiful Jackie Kennedy and a besotted British lord desperate to marry her, have been sold at auction for £98,808 ($123,000).
Yes I know that does seem a ridiculous amount of money for some paper with words written in ink on, but she was and still is a prevalent icon. Particularly her amazing wardrobe.
They were sold at Bonhams auction in London last week (29th March) to an anonymous individual private collector.
The handwritten letters had been kept hidden away in two official red Government despatch boxes for more than 40 years, at the Harlech's family estate at Glyn Cywarch in Gwynedd, Wales. Bonhams UK Deputy Chairman Harvey Cammel, explained that the keys for the boxes were nowhere to be seen and in the end they decided to call a locksmith. I'm guessing using a hair pin Nancy Drew style wouldn't work then.
He explained that when they opened the case, which probably hasn't been opened in 30 years. "It was one of those astonishing moments when you can't quite believe what you're seeing." and it was "a real, true discovery." Now that is a great day at the office.
There were handwritten letters not just from Jackie, but by JFK and other members of the family as well. The letters are part of a 19-strong collection which also included a note from Prince Philip's uncle Lord Mountbatten and correspondences between US Presidents and past British Prime Ministers.
The collection includes Jackie Kennedy's rejection letter to David Ormsby-Gore - the 5th Baron Harlech and one of JFK's most intimate confidantes - after he asked her to marry him because she saw him 'like a brother'.
For decades gossip magazines and writers have speculated how close Jackie Kennedy and David Ormsby-Gore were. Rumours of romance between the pair swept through Washington in the late 1960s, with one leading US newspaper proclaiming him 'The Man Most Likely To Win Jackie'. These letters give us a great insight into their relationship, how close they came to marriage and why Jackie decided not to marry him.

David Ormsby-Gore was a diplomat and held a number of government ministerial positions in the Foreign Office. He resigned in 1961, so he could take up the post of British Ambassador to the United States until 1965. The friendship between the families actually dates back to the 1930s, when JFK's father Joseph was US Ambassador to Britain and the collection of letters demonstrates the closeness between the families.

The letters show the story of a relationship that builds between Lord Harlech and Jackie Kennedy over a period of three to four years until 1968.

A deep friendship was formed through grief after the president's assassination in 1963. They then grew even closer when David's wife Sissy died in May 1967. The letters really reveal their deep and growing connection amidst the pain of losing their spouses and Jackie was very sympathetic to David's grief and the tragedy he went through.

After his wife died Jackie wrote him a letter to try and offer him some comfort. She wrote: 'Your last letter was such a cri de coeur of loneliness - I would do anything to take that anguish from you. You want to patch the wounds & match the loose pairs - but you can't because your life won't turn out that way.'

He reportedly proposed a 'secret marriage' in 1968, but she turned him down. She then wrote him a rejection letter while she was on Aristotle Onassis's yacht (who she ended up marrying) explaining why she had chosen not to marry him.

In her letter she wrote: 'You and I have shared so many lives and deaths and hopes and pain - we will share them forever and be forever bound together by them.
'If ever I can find some healing and some comfort, it has to be with someone who is not a part of all my world of past and pain - I can find that now - if the world will let us.'
'We have known so much & shared & lost so much together - Even if it isn't the way you wish now - I hope that bond of love and pain will never be cut. 'You are like my beloved beloved brother - and mentor - and the only original spirit I know - as you were to Jack. 'I just wanted to tell you all that love has so many different way.'
Jackie later said her husband (JFK) used to claim that David 'was the brightest man he'd ever met'. If she married him she would have had to move her children and life to the UK. However, when she married Aristotle Onassis she could keep her family in New York. A year after Jackie married her new husband, Lord Harlech married Pamela Colin, a US journalist who had an uncanny resemblance to Jackie.

David died in 1985 from injuries sustained in a car crash. Senator Edward Kennedy, Jackie Onassis and other Kennedy family members attended his funeral. In 1995 when Jackie was dying of cancer in her New York apartment, she reportedly spoke of her regret that she did not accept Lord Harlech's proposal.

The discovery of these letters is poignant since it coincides with the year of the 100th anniversary of JFK's birth. The amount of money the letters went for, shows there is still extreme interest in the Kennedy family and you can't beat a love story, especially one that contains handwritten love letters.
If you want to find out more information about the Bonhams auction and other aspects of it, including the political letters you can do so here.
Here are just a few programmes you all need to know about:
Need to watch: There is a programme on tomorrow (Wednesday 5th April) on Channel 4 at 9pm about Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime which tells her life story through some of her most personal and glamorous possessions. You will be able to catch up with this on 4 On Demand, so don't worry if you miss it.
Need to catch up on: On Sunday night a two part documentary called Spying on the Royals started on Channel 4 at 8pm. It revealed new evidence that brings to light one of Britain's most controversial espionage operations, when spies tailed the royal family and tapped their phone calls. It includes information about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson ,one of the most shocking controversies the royal family have ever dealt with. You can catch up on Episode one here.
I hope you've enjoyed learning a little more about Jackie Kemnedy and have hopefully seen a little more of the person behind the iconic suits and pillbox hats.
Second Hand Rose

08 March 2017

International Women's Day 2017: Some formidable women who fought for our freedom

Today marks the 106th International Women's Day, an important day for all women across the globe.
The day was set up in 1911 when women were not equal and they were expected to cook and clean all day, plus this was without the help from Mr Muscle as well.
Over the next decade the day was recognised in many countries including Austria, Denmark, Germany and Russia, women were fed up of just having a pinny as their main outfit, sadly there wasn't ASOS in those days.
In the millennium IWD was recognised in even more countries including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
Now annually on the 8th of March thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. These include business conferences, political rallies, fashion shows and they even have a special Google doodle created for them, now that's serious stuff.
Nowadays most of us growing up are used to being treated equally by people and there isn't a silly attitude that all us women can do is cook and clean, speaking for myself that's not true, definitely not the cleaning part. We are allowed to flourish and become whatever we want from pilots to doctors, fashion designers to astronauts, no one gets in our way.
Of course there is still some prejudice, especially in male dominated jobs like banking, flying and law, but every year there is more of a balance and as the crusty old gits retire, us women are ready to take their place with our kick arse heels or flats and favourite lipstick.
Getty Images
In a relationship women were expected to obey their husband and were not allowed an opinion. Now it seems that women sometimes are the ones that wear the trousers in a relationship, well we do know best after all! I think all of us take the opportunities available to us and the attitudes of people for granted. We owe the generations of women before us a lot. I'm not talking about feminists chucking their bra off, I mean the Suffragettes and women in World War 1 and World War 2, these three main events really changed how women were thought of and are often forgotten about.
It's a shame it took two world wars and several decades for women to be properly accepted in the work place and not have to just be a housewife, but these events started us on the road to equality, I think the women involved deserve a giant tin of Fox's Biscuits, don't you?
The Suffragettes
National Archives
Years before the Suffragettes in the UK, there were women campaigning all over the world to be able to have the right to vote, with New Zealand giving the vote to women in 1893.
In the UK on the 10th October 1903, the Women's Social and Political Union held its first meeting and declared the situation was so serious, it would have to pursue extreme measures to get the government's attention.
There was another group called the Suffragists who were also campaigning, but believed in calm protests, no chucking their shoes at the police, I mean why would anyone want to ruin their shoes?? The union soon became nicknamed the Suffragettes and began chaining themselves to railings, making a scene in the House of Commons, smashing windows and harassing politicians, which often resulted them landing on that big 'Go to Jail' square on the Monopoly board, going straight past 'Go' and entering jail. Sadly it wasn't as easy as rolling a double with the dice or paying the bank £50 to get out of jail, you can see I'm an avid Monopoly fan.
They were force fed to prevent them from going on hunger strike, which often left them leaving prison looking gaunt and skinny, well that's one way to lose the Christmas Turkey weight. The Suffragettes did this so the public would see how skeletal they looked and how bad they were being treated, so the public would be on their side.
One of main Suffragettes was Emily Pankhurst, along with her two daughters Christabel and Sylvia, who helped set up the cause. Emily was arrested many times and went on hunger strike herself, resulting in violent force feeding. In 1913 the Government created the 'Cat and Mouse' Act, this meant that hunger striking prisoners were released until they were healthy again and were re-arrested.
Women were so committed to the cause that they put themselves in danger, particularly Emily Davison. Emily was killed in 1913 when she threw herself under the King's horse at the Derby, as a protest at the government's failure to grant women the vote. It is not known whether she was trying to pin a Suffragete sash on the horse or decided to be a martyr to the cause. Thankfully nowadays there are less dangerous ways to protest, like poking all the politicians on Facebook and incessantly tweeting them for instance.
Eventually after 15 years of campaigning, women over 30 were granted the right to vote and in the 1918 General Election women were allowed to stand as candidates. This was a huge turning point in the history of women becoming as equal as men, so thank them next time when you have a vote at work, even if it is over who makes the tea.
World War One
World War One helped women become more equal, the Suffragettes agreed with the Government that they would stop stamping their feet in order to help the war effort, so the women in prison were released. As men got in their hunky uniforms and went off to war, women put on some work clothes, their most authoritative voice and replaced the men to do the jobs they had left behind.
During the war the employment of women increased by over 1.6 million, with 200,000 women being employed in the government and over half a million went to work in offices. Women also worked as conductors on buses and trams and a quarter of a million got their fingers dirty and worked on the land. Over 700,000 women worked in highly dangerous munitions factories and had to work with immense concentration, no gossipping about the girl with the funny haircut then.
Getty Images
They had to do heavy work too like unloading coal, stoking furnaces and building ships. Women also fancied wearing a uniform and joined the Army such as the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), the Women's Royal Air Force and the Women's Royal Navy Service (WRNS), they certainly didn't just sit at home doing some crochet. During these four devastating years women became more accepted in the workplace and people actually realised that there brain wasn't full of cotton wool and they could operate machinery and dig up a potato or two.
The problem was that after men came back from the war they wanted their jobs back, so women were sadly forced out of work and sent back to ironing sheets all day. Women that were lucky enough to stay in their jobs had a problem with getting fair treatment and being treated equally by men. Their pay packet was different, even if they were doing the same job. Many women sadly lost their husbands, brothers, fathers etc in the war, so they now had to start fending for themselves. After the war women were encouraged to go back to the kitchens, but it was the start of them becoming more independent and the beginning of people believing that they could work and look after themselves and not just cook and clean all day.
World War Two
World War Two was really the turning point for women and they played a vital part in the war. In between the wars, in 1928 women were granted the right to vote for over 21s, just like men.
To help the war effort women joined organisations like the Land Army. Their job was to keep Britain from starving by harvesting the land. German u-boats sunk ships entering Britain that were bringing food and goods, so everything was scarce. In 1940 a million tons of food were sunk by the Germans, I think that's a reason to put Hitler on the naughty step, don't you? How dare he deprive us of our biscuits and Spam.
So this meant that food had to be rationed and as much food as possible was grown on the land, that's an awful lot of chipped nail varnish and dirt to scrub out of your nails.
Women also decided to go and work in factories doing anything from making ammunition, uniforms and aeroplanes. Women also joined the Armed Forces again such as the now known (WAAF) Women's Auxillary Air Force, the female part of the army the Auxillary Territotal Service (ATS) and the (WRNS known as WRENS) Women's Royal Naval Service. I wrote about the WRENS in my last post and today they are having a special event to mark IWD with Princess Anne, the Admiral Chief Commandant for Women in the Royal Navy officially launching the exhibition.
Some women were members of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and were used as secret agents being parachuted into occupied France. Their work was extremely dangerous and could easily lead to torture, capture and death. Their job was to find out anything they could to support the planned landings in Normandy in June 1944. Their stories really are amazing, two famous members of the SOE that were captured and tortured and were awarded the George Cross are Violette Szabo and Odette Hallowes, who's stories you really should check out. They are truly amazing and would definitely deserve to sit down with Piers Morgan to talk about their life stories or go on Desert Island Discs.
National Women's History Museum
Again women took over the jobs that men had left to enter the military, but they were pushed out of them and many wanted society to return to the comfortable norm, with women staying at home. But this war showed again how capable women were, from growing vegetables to being a spook, they were a huge part of the war and this proved that women were able to work and help themselves.
Slowly over the years women have become more independent and the idea that they will just be a housewife and the men will work has become a rare thought and a lot of women now live happily and independently.
I wrote a post in 2014 for International Women's Day highlighting some ground breaking amazing women, who are a wonderful reminder for us all that you can be whoever you want to be and stand up for whatever you believe in. From scientists to activists and fashion designers to actresses, you are bound to feel inspired after reading about these amazing women here.
Hopefully over the next few decades women will become more independent and more equal in every country across the world. It's all about having equality and the ability to choose whichever path you want to take in life. Whether it's full on career, a stay at home Mummy or a mixture of both, we should not be judged or feel pressured by society to fall into a specific category or have children, we are no longer seen as just breeding machines who make a good Victoria sponge.
So next time when you are applying for your dream job remember those women who heavily campaigned for our rights, spent hours creating ammunition, getting their hands dirty on the land and even parachuting into France risking their lives, so you could follow your dreams. Remember the women across the world who still to this day are not treated equally and are forced into a subservient lifestyle.
Finally, remember you are a woman and you can do anything you want, even if that means buying a whole Alexander McQueen wardrobe and having a Christian Louboutin shoe room with topless pictures of Bradley Cooper in, I'm sure as well as me there are more women out there who dream of that.
Second Hand Rose

19 February 2017

WRENS Exhibition: Some seriously amazing Navy women

An exhibition was opened yesterday (18th February) to celebrate the contribution from women who worked in the naval services, particularly during the wars. It is called 'Pioneers to Professionals: Women and the Royal Navy’ and will tell the untold stories of servicewomen dating back to more than 250 years, when women’s contribution were unspoken, disguised and unofficial. This year marks 100 years since the Women's Royal Naval Services (WRNS) was formed. These ladies were known as WRENS and had some serious girl power. The spice girls have nothing on these inspiring ladies.

It was formed during the First World War to release men to serve at sea. They were the first of the three services to officially recruit women at the time. It was disbanded when the war ended and women went back to being housewives, but was re-formed in 1939 when war broke out again. By December 1939, 3,000 women had joined up. You may have a relative that was a WREN and have heard some brilliant stories from them. If you have please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear them!
I spoke to my Grandma about this the other day to see if any of her five sisters joined up and hoped I could tell you a poignant story. One of them was a WAAF (Women's Auxillary Air Force) and another a land girl, but none were WRENS. However, she told me that she wanted to join up because she liked the uniform and fancied hanging around a load of yummy sailors, but thought she wouldn't be able to deal with the sea sickness, it's was a tough choice for her apparently. Poignant enough?
In December 1941 the government passed the National Service Act which allowed the conscription of women into war work or the armed forces. Women could choose to join the WRNS or its military or air force equivalents, the ATS and the WAAF. Initially single women and widows without children between 19 and 30 were called up, but later the age limit was pushed up to 43. Women who had served in the First World War, including Wrens, could be conscripted up to the age of 50.
The recruiting slogan was 'Join the Wrens today and free a man to join the Fleet.' As the Navy expanded, so did the WRNS and women took on tasks that were previously considered beyond their capabilities.
Their duties included driving, cooking, clerical work, operating radar and communications equipment and providing weather forecasts. The Naval Censorship Branch was staffed by WRNS clerks and censor officers and either worked in mobile units or in London. Many Wrens were involved in planning naval operations, including the D-Day landings in June 1944.
Also Wrens who could speak other languages were drafted to stations around the coast to intercept and translate enemy signals. Wrens also worked at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park where German and Japanese codes were broken. Pretty good for women whose days used to be spent cleaning the house and looking after their husbands.
Although few served at sea, Wrens did operate small harbour launches and tugs close to shore. Some Wrens were trained to serve as pilots on D-Day, taking the smaller ships across the Channel and towing disabled vessels back into port for repairs, which were often carried out by WRNS mechanics. Thousands of Wrens also served in overseas units.
By 1944, 74,000 women were Wrens doing over 200 different jobs. Sadly, 303 Wrens were killed on wartime service. After the war the WRNS was made a permanent part of the Royal Navy, but women did not serve in Royal Navy ships until the 1990s.
In 1993 the WRN was disabanded and the 4,535 women working as WRENS were integrated into the Royal Navy and able to serve on HM ships at sea and able to climb to all ranks and rates. The contribution of women in the wars really helped women to flourish in the navy and still have an impact in women's freedom in the Navy today.
The exhibition will illustrate the role of women in the navy and many wonderful objects will be on display to demonstrate them in an official capacity, showing their leisure time and even how they dealt with pregnancy. Objects range from a rare First World War Ratings uniform to an oboe owned by a member of the Royal Marine Band Service. There will also be a naval officer’s maternity dress and photographs from the early day of the WRNS.
The exhibition is on for a year at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth and a special event is being held on International Women's Day on the 8th March. You can find more information and buy tickets here.
All photos courtesy of the Royal Navy Museum website
There are so many amazing and inspirational stories, with women no longer being overlooked. Such as, in the 18th century at least 20 women pretended to be men, so they could be part of the Navy. One woman even managed to hide her identity for over 11 years, which is astonishing! At least,you wouldn't have to shave your legs every week.
Historically women have undertaken a huge range of jobs and have exceeded expectations countless of times. The exhibition comes just at the right time as the government have announced that women will soon be able to join any branch of the Royal Navy, including close combat roles. Very different to a hundred years ago when the WRNS motto was 'Never at Sea'.
Whether it was women 250 years ago pretending to be men, WRENS working in many different jobs in the wars or women in the Navy in the present day, they are truly inspirational women who we should recognise for their tenacity, resilience and kick arse spirit.
Second Hand Rose

26 January 2017

Gifts Galore

I know this post is incredibly late and it's over a month now since we were all stuffing our face with copious amounts of mince pies and pigs in blankets. But who doesn't want to be nosy and see what people got for Christmas? I'm still reading a book set around Christmas, so I figured I could still write a post about it.
Yes I have books that are set around Christmas time, including a Murder She Wrote one with Jessica Fletcher saving the day once again. I save them up all year to read in my Christmas pyjamas and eat Lindt balls into the triple figures. I'm sure that makes me really high up on the coolness scale.
I had a great time with my family and was truly stuffed with my Mum's amazing cooking. These New Year's Eve puddings were to die for! I didn't ask for many presents this year, as I don't have much space in my tiny room (hint hint parents) for more things and frankly I couldn't decide what on earth I wanted.
Whilst looking at swatches for nail varnish to give my sister for Christmas, I came across this absolutely gorgeous ring.
Thankfully the blogger mentioned where it was from, so I went on the site Stella & Dot straight away. I've really been loving rings I can stack & wearing multiple small ones. Even though I'm not too keen on gold jewellery, I like the muted gold thin rings with stones in or other decorations, which you can wear several of at the same time.
Mr Boyfriend calls me Mrs. T after the bloke in The A-Team who wears all the gold jewellery. I used to wear big rings, but ever since my parents gave me my beautiful sapphire and diamond ring for my 21st birthday, the rings I wear have changed somewhat.
The rose gold Páve Spear ring was £29 and there were matching earrings available, which were beautiful and the matching necklace that I found on eBay as they didn't stock it on the website anymore.
I adored the ring but deliberated for so long, as I've never spent that amount on one piece of jewellery before.
I normally buy stack packets-10 rings normally for less then a tenner. After everyone telling me to treat myself, I finally decided to give in & asked Father Christmas for the jewellery. The fact that I found the Pavé Spear earrings and necklace on eBay for a much cheaper price then the RRP helped to convince me to ask for them.
I found the earrings for £25.25 including p&p when at the time they were normally £40 (along with £4.95 p&p). I managed to get the necklace for £31 instead of £50, which I was pretty pleased about. I can't wait to wear them, they look so beautiful.
I got some really snugly pyjamas from my parents and cosy slippers from a friend. My Mum picked me out some cute Millie Mae vintage pattern style socks, some nice lacy underwear and a pack of cat themed underwear. That'll stop Mr Boyfriend having to deal with me debating for 15 minutes about whether I should spend £4 on a pack of underwear in Tesco's every time we go there.
My parents bought me Five go to Brexit Island, a satirical take on the legendary Famous Five books by Enid Blyton that I adored as a kid, have some CDs of and have one of the books to read on my iPad. Yep, I'm a cool kid.
The book is actually written by Bruno Vincent and there are several in the series, include Five Give up the Booze and Five Go Gluten Free.
I also received the book How to get Rich, which will hopefully help increase my shoe collection.
My parents also gave me a Sew Style:Vintage Magazine with two gorgeous vintage patterns enclosed. I'm trying to expand my collection of vintage magazines and at a local Christmas Fayre I went to with my Mum, I found a Vogue magazine from October 1953, which I will show more of sometime, it's beautiful.
To put my growing collection of vintage magazines in they also bought me an A3 Presentation Book to put them in. They're too big for an A4 booklet as magazines and newspapers were bigger then.
I'm hoping to do a nice painting or drawing for the front of the presentation book when I get the time. Either that or get my artist on hand Mr Boyfriend to do it for me. It's amazing what a flutter of the eyelashes and a meal cooked by my Mum will get you.
I also received some Coté vouchers for me & the man to enjoy a nice meal with, as well as a Tastecard from my brother. He bought me one last year and I was a little worried I wouldn't get enough use out of it. However, I managed to save £234 on it overall, so was very keen to renew it. My sister also gave me an ASOS voucher which I'm looking forward to using.
My parents also gave me some new belly button rings and some lovely stud earrings. I received some chocolate, but it's mysteriously disappeared into mine and the man's mouth. I adore chocolate cherry liqueurs, which I only have at Christmas time and I was like an old lady eating two before I went to sleep every night. That was the extent of my alcoholic binge over Christmas.
I couldn't bring myself to open this beautiful little handbag with chocolate shoes in, but caved in. I'm saving the Choccywoccydoodah coin my brother gave me for when I reach a certain target I'm trying to achieve. I'm turning it into a gold medal and doing a victory lap around my neighbourhood with it.
Mr Boyfriend bought me a beautiful vintage record player for Christmas in 2014 and I've been trying to collect records ever since. Luckily I have a shop that sells the right records near me for £1 each, as there isn't much demand for them. I was given some 78 RPM Records by my chiropractor who is also a good friend of mine.
One of them includes 'Have I told you lately that I love you' by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters. I'm a huge fan of The Andrews Sisters, to me they were the original girl power, in a time when the world was so male dominated. The other records include Johnnie Ray and Billy Cotton & his band. She also bought me a little lunchbox as a joke present, because I always take my lunch to my appointment & she's sick of seeing my sushi, even though it's vegetarian! I take it everytime now & am thinking about putting my name & age on it, you know like your Mum did when you were at school! My elderly neighbour who I'm very friendly with, who I've taught how to use her computer & email people,kindly bought me a lovely makeup bag, perfect to put my lipsticks in.
My boyfriend's generous Mum and step Dad bought me some Vans with a really cute flamingo print on and some socks to match. I'm looking forward to trying the shoes out with outfits when it's not so muddy. They also bought me a Fat Face scarf gift get which includes body wash, body lotion and a gorgeous printed scarf.
His lovely sister and boyfriend gave me a Ted Baker mini must haves set which includes body lotion, body spray,body soufflé and bubble bath. His thoughtful Dad and girlfriend gave me a beautiful bottle of Ghost Moonlight Perfume which I'm looking forward to wearing out, it's a great floral and fruity smell. Yes people, I have fabulous "in-laws".
Mr Boyfirend bought me a lovely Lipsy makeup kit for day and night and a Lipsy 12 Days of Beautiful set. I've always secretly wanted an advent style calendar that contained makeup, but they were always so expensive. When I asked him about how he chose what to get me, he said he went into Debenhams and asked for some help to find a present for me as there were so many products available, which I find adorable. His housemate told me that when he got home, he was all excited about the presents he had bought for me-cuteness overload. I didn't actually know Lipsy did makeup kits, but these are great and contain a variety of must have makeup products.
The last presents I received were these gorgeous bomber jackets. I had been debating about buying this burgundy F&F velvet bomber jacket for months now, so my Mum insisted she bought it for me for Christmas, probably to stop me going on about it. I'd seen ones like it, particularly in River Island which were double the price. It also had great reviews online, so I agreed to add it to my list. It was £29 but after Christmas it was reduced to £15, so I took the first one back and bought another one. While buying it I came across this absolutely beautiful Vero Moda Gold Scalloped Bomber Jacket, reduced from £50 to £25.
I used the rest of the money from the velvet jacket that was leftover and some of the money that my Grandma gave me for Christmas. It's even more beautiful in person and both jackets are very comfortable and warm. They're still available so I highly recommend them. They're also a little stretchy,so are great if you've got thick layers on underneath or big boobs. The velvet bomber jacket has now been reduced to £12 and also comes in black. I'm not ashamed to admit that I sit in bed and just stare at the gorgeous gold scalloped jacket on my clothes rail, I'm so glad I decided to buy it as it's so beautiful in person. I've given you the direct links to them below.

I hope you've all enjoyed having a good nosey at the presents I received. I'm sorry this post is so late, I still feel slightly in the post Christmas slump, but I'm not sure if that's because I keep having to walk past boxes of biscuits and chocolates that are leftover from Christmas and try to avoid them. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have had a good start to the new year and not broke all your new year's resolutions just yet.
Second Hand Rose

21 September 2016

National Cupcake Week: Chocolate Rose Cupcakes

This week is officially National Cupcake week, the 8th annual one organised by British Baker magazine, absolute geniuses. It is from the 19th-25th September, so you have plenty of time to stuff your face still. It has been a hashtag on Twitter this week and quite frankly I think it should be on the news. So I wanted to share a recipe with you for Chocolate Rose Cupcakes that I made a while ago.
The recipe is from the Home Sweet Home recipe book by The Hummingbird Bakery, which contains some great recipe inspiration. These cupcakes are full of flowery fabulousness and has a gorgeous chocolatey taste with a surprise custard inside. What more could a cake lover ask for?
This recipe has several components which can seem overwhelming at first, but you don't need to do them all in one day. The cake contains a Rose water custard which can be made the day before, just remember to put it in the fridge and not leave it out in a warm kitchen, salmonella isn't much fun.
You can also make the cakes the day before you put them all together, as well as the buttercream. I decided to add some crystalised rose petals as decoration, which are super easy to make and can be a good excuse to either treat yourself ,or demand ask that special man or woman in your life to buy you some. Just call me the cake Cupid.
When I make a sponge I usually use my Mum's tried and tested recipe of using the same number of oz for each ingredient and half the number of eggs. E.g. 6oz of butter, self raising flour, sugar, 3 eggs and 1tsp of baking powder for a 6 inch cake, which equates to around 12-14 cupcakes. I then bung it all in (that's a technical term by the way) the food processor and go back to raiding the biscuit tin and dreaming of Bradley Cooper. However this recipe requires a little more attention, you can still consume an obscene amount of biscuits while making it though.
1. First you need to preheat your oven to 170C which is 325F or gas mark 3 and pick yourself out some gorgeous muffin cases.
2. Mix the butter, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in an electric mixer to form a crumb-like consistency. You can use a bowl and a non eletric whisk, but if you are able to it is best to use an electric whisk, otherwise you are going to need some serious Popeye muscle. You also need to sift the cocoa & flour to get some air into the mixture, but if you're letting electricity do the hardwork you don't need to bother.
3.In a jug mix together the milk, eggs and rosewater by hand.
4. This part may seem a bit laborious, but it forms a great batter, so be patient with it and try not to get distracted by thoughts of Daniel Craig smothered in cake batter, yummy or what.
Pour half the milky mixture into the crumb mixture on a slow speed until it's all combined.
Then speed it up and beat the batter until it's smooth, thick and lump free. No one wants clumps of flour in their sponge.
5. Turn the speed back down and gradually add the rest of the milky mixture.
Remember to scrape the sides down regularly when you are mixing the batter.
Don't worry if your mixture is different to any that you've made before. No need to panic that it's pretty watery, it's meant to be. If yours isn't you need to keep mixing until it is.
6. A good way to get the mixture into your beautiful cases is with an ice cream scoop, it helps you bake even cakes so there isn't a fight over the biggest cakes. It depends how big your scoop and cases our, but mine work out around 2 scoops per cake.
7. Bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes which is a perfect amount of time to check out the new Oasis collection. Make sure the sponge is bouncy to the touch and you can use a skewer to know they are cooked inside, as it will come out clean when you dip it in the sponge.
8. Leave them to cool for a while in the tin, as this will make sure the cases stay tight around the cake.

1. Place the milk and the rosewater in a saucepan and bring it to the boil.

2.In a bowl mix together the egg yolks (keep the whites for the roses), sugar, flour and cornflour to form a paste. If it needs a little oomph to unstiffen it you can add 1 tablespoon of the hot milk.

3.When the milk has boiled remove the pan from the heat and mix 4-5 tablespoons with the paste.

4.Pour it back into the pan with the rest of the milk and return it to the heat.

5.Put those arm muscles to good use and whisk it as fast as you can for 3-4 minutes to make sure the flour and cornflour are fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook your custard, otherwise the eggs may begin to scramble.
L6. Remove from the heat and pour the custard into a baking tray, cover with cling film and set aside until it's completly cool.
1.Mix the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter on a low speed until it's all combined.
2.Before you give into temptation and eat it all, add the milk and rosewater while mixing on a slow speed.
3.Put the speed on turbo power and beat the buttercream until it's light and fluffy.
Crystallised Rose petals:

These taste exactly how roses smell and are great for when you'd rather get on with eating your cakes, instead of spending hours decorating them.

You will need around two roses depending on how many petals you want to crystalise and how big your roses are. I originally wanted to only crystallise around 25 petals and estimated that there were 12-14 petals on each rose. It turned out that there were 29 on one rose and 23 on another.
So I suggest before you say bye bye to the stem, take apart one rose at a time and you may be surprised how many petals are on one rose. There are lots of flowers that are edible which you can crystalise if you don't fancy buying any roses or cutting them out of the garden (yeah, sorry about that Mum.)
If you have the luxury of a garden you maybe surprised how many of your beautifully grown creations you can actually eat. Here is a great guide on what flowers you can add to your dishes.

1.Paint your petals with egg white both sides to make sure the sugar sticks. You should only need one egg white, so you can freeze the rest or put them in something else.

2.You can either just dip the petals in the sugar or use a spoon and tap off any remaining sugar on the sides of the bowl. Your hands may get pretty sticky so have some wet kitchen paper or a flannel handy.

3.Leave them to dry for a minimum of two hours in a warm room on a sheet of greaseproof paper. An airing cupboard can also help speed up the process and you will know they are dry when they feel hard and brittle.
Don't feel you have to use them all as decoration now because they will keep for several months, maybe even a year if you store them in an airtight container with kitchen or greaseproof paper in between layers.
Putting the custard in the cake:
1. After you've let your cake and custard cool, take a knife and carve a small hole in the middle of the cake. I use a cake hole maker Father Christmas gave me, who I believe bought it off eBay. He's pretty thrifty these days.
2. Spoon lots of custard into the centre of the cake and place the piece of sponge you cut out back in the hole. Don't worry if your custard seems thicker then you'd expect it to be, it's ok and will still taste great.
You can trim the cake you've put back if you want to, but the buttercream will cover it.
I had quite a lot of custard left over, even though I squashed as much as I could into my cakes. If this happens you can put it in the freezer and use it in another batch of cakes. Any excuse to make some more spongey goodness.

Finishing touches:
For a simple way to apply your buttercream use an ice cream scoop. Dollop (another technical term) some on the top of a cake and use a knife or pallette knife of you have one to smooth it out while turning the cake. This will help the buttercream form a swirly shape.
Finally place a petal on the top and enjoy one of your creations, or two or three or even four, let's make it half a dozen.
I hope my explanation doesn't seem like a load of gobbledygook (Delia I'm not) and you don't end up tearing your hair out and crying into your rose water. Using rose as a flavour may seem a little daunting to use and I was ominous to try it. It really does taste good, goes well with the chocolate sponge and the taste or smell isn't overpowering. I really hope you've enjoyed this recipe and I wish you lots of luck with making these beauties. Oh and if you have any leftover buttercream, I'll happily eat it for you.
A giant lemon cupcake I made with lemon buttercream swirl roses and fondant flowers, decorated with pearls and encased in a purple chocolate case.
Second Hand Rose