14 April 2014

Fashion & Flowers

For many years flowers and gardens in general have been a great inspiration for fashion designers. Every year on the catwalk there are enough flowers on show to create a frenzy in the bee world.
Zuhair Murad created an enchanted garden with a floral painted background for his Spring/Summer Couture show. Camellias, roses and peonies amongst many other flowers were featured on garments and a wedding dress in the collection had over 25,000 flowers appliquéd onto it. Now that's an awful lot of needle threading.

Dior are also great lovers of what Mother Nature has created. Who can forget John Galliano's Couture Fall/Winter 2010 collection, that was full of horticultural brilliance? There were corseted ball gowns that were hand painted with bright and majestic colours, with layers upon layers of chiffon and silk-tulle. The collection was simply mesmerising, it's like a chic floral paint by numbers.

The new head of design Raf Simmons seems to be more then happy to carry on the pollen infested trend as well. The Spring/Summer Couture 2013 show was set out like an enchanted garden with bushes and hundreds of flowers. The clothes were made up of lots of tulle with hundreds of flowers, petals, blossoms and lilypads appliquéd. The 2014 Couture show was set out like a hanging garden with bright coloured flowers, orchids and wisteria hanging from the ceiling. That man must watch an awful lot of Garderners World.
Dior Spring/Summer 2013
This is not just a recent trend that has started in the past few decades though. There is now an exhibition at the Garden Museum in London until the 27th April, that is looking into the world of how gardens have inspired fashion for centuries.
As far back as the Jacobean era women were entranced by the beautiful colours of flowers. Dresses worn at the royal court were embroidered with images of flowers from overseas. The exhibition also looks at when and why some flowers were popular at different times such as camellias in the 1840s, sunflowers in the 1890s and not forgetting the flower power craze of the 60s and 70s.
There are some rare pieces of artwork, collages, neddlework and garments on show for many centuries. Designers including Christopher Bailey, Alexander McQueen and Phillip Treacy with his glorious hats, show how what we grow in our gardens can be a lot more chic then just compost and worms.
There are examples and images of floral couture, including Yves Saint Laurent featured jackets with embroidered Sunflowers and Iris's that were in his Couture 1988 show. Valentino's Spring/Summer Couture 2013 show had a garden theme with wrought iron park gates being a main inspiration. There was lots of organza and fabric that was embroidered with flowers, butterflies and birds.
There is also a feature on how people over the centuries have dressed to tend to their much loves gardens. While unfortunately you can't really wear a Dior ball gown to tend to your roses in, you can still look fashionable and chic. Now beat that Monty Don.
There are some great floral and garden themed pieces on the high street too, so you can incorporate the look into your outfit. Either go full blown with a floral dress or tone it down by just incorporating the theme into your accessories. Think more garden party chic and less Mrs Doubtfire, even though she is a pretty cool chick.
Floral Frenzy

Second Hand Rose

06 April 2014

Mother's Day: A piece of cupcake

Jasper looking suave for Mother's Day
Last Sunday the whole Second Hand Rose family got together to celebrate the beautiful lady of the house, our dear Mummy. Even Jasper straightened his bow tie and demanded an extra groom.
My brother and sister came home to appreciate all she does for us and I'm sure all the yummy food available was a pretty big incentive too.
The four of us including Jasper clubbed together and bought her some lovely flowers, including pink roses, gerberas and lillies. It was a made up bouquet which my Dad helped us put together from separate ones, so we didn't have to pay for loads of unwanted greenery, Alan Sugar would have been proud.
We also bought her some lovely fabrics, as she is a quilting demon.
Now to the most important part, the food. My Mum made a lovely meal and some homemade bread for sandwiches as part of our afternoon tea, my family couldn't get anymore English. My contribution included several kilos of buttercream and cake mixture all magiced into some cupcakes.
For Christmas I received several recipe books from my family and friends. I didn't just get the books that were on my list, I also received some from lovely people who I have forced my creations on in the past. Getting recipe books is a bit like getting smelly stuff as presents. You don't know whether they are saying please make something that is actually edible or we already love what you make, here are some more recipes to make us some more delicious creations, fingers crossed for the latter.
I'm afraid to say that these are the first cakes I have made this year and the first time I have used one of my new recipe books. I decided after much cake drooling to use the book Home Sweet Home from the very popular Hummingbird bakery. Recipes in the book include Custard Cream cupcakes and Chocolate truffle cookies amongst many other mouthwatering ideas.
For Mother's Day I decided to ask the two mothers in my families lives, my beautiful Mum and my 83 year old Grandma who acts like a teenager. My Mum fancied Ginger Chocolate cupcakes and my Grandma asked for White Chocolate and Raspberry cupcakes. With this one the recipe had cranberries in, but I changed it to raspberries and added chunks of white chocolate into the batter, what can I say I'm a bit of a cake making rebel.
Normally when I make cupcakes I use the same recipe I use to make a cake. If I want to make 12-18 cupcakes I will think of it as a making a 6 inch cake. The recipe I use is incredibly simple which I have learnt from my Mum the cake pioneer, which Mary Berry has copied. For a 6 inch cake I would use 6oz of self raising flour, butter, sugar and 3 eggs, with 1tsp of baking powder. I would just bung it all in the food mixer and get back to raiding the biscuit tin and dreaming of Bradley Cooper.
But with these recipes which included plain flour, a mahoosive 1tbsp of baking powder and some salt thrown in, it was a completly different process. The measurements for all of the ingredients were different and you mixed the dry ingredients together separately while the wet ingredients had a party of their own.
After making breadcrumbs in the food processor out of the butter, sugar and flour, I then had to gradually mix half the mixture of egg and milk into the breadcrumbs. I then had to leave it to beat fast for a few minutes and then put the rest of the egg and milk mixture in, along with any added flavourings. It was a bit of a laborious process and did hinder my biscuit eating somewhat, but the mixture was made into more like a batter then the thick mixture I'm used to. I used an ice cream scoop to put the batter into the cases like the book suggested. This helped to have equal cupcakes and stop it all going over the floor and my amazing Del Boy apron.
I baked them for around 25 minutes and acted like I was on the Bake Off and sat next to the oven staring into it praying to the cake gods, while listening to my 1940s CD. Both batches of cakes baked well, so I got my icing sugar ready and made enough buttercream to satisfy even Jasper for a good few days.
For the ginger chocolate cakes, I made chocolate buttercream and added some finely stopped stem ginger. For the white chocolate and raspberry ones, I added melted white chocolate (what was left of it) and made 1 and a half times the recipe. I was concerned that because of the design I was doing on the cakes, I wouldn't have enough. Plus I am pretty fond of licking the bowl out too.
I coloured just over a third of the white chocolate buttercream purple and put it in a piping bag with a Wilton 2D tip, along with the rest of the white and piped it into roses. The tip wouldn't work properly at first and I nearly had a meltdown, but my Mum saved the day and found that there was a piece of plastic in the tip so it wouldn't work properly. I know it sounds pretty pathetic to get so upset over decorating cakes, but it makes you want to cry into a bowl of icing and watch Bridget Jones if it doesn't work out properly.
The cakes were meant to be two toned, but it's pretty difficult to get it completly two toned to start with, so one or two turned out more purple then others. I actually had a lot of buttercream left over, which was quickly put in the freezer by Mummy Second Hand Rose, as she could see that I was making a bee line for the bowl. I added some glitter on the top of them to make them sparkle and it's also pretty amusing to see your family sitting there with glittery lips.
For the Chocolate Ginger ones I used one of my bigger pipes, as I was worried about the ginger getting stuck in the bag and it exploding everywhere. I don't think my mum would be too happy if her kitchen was covered with chocolate buttercream. I made swirls with it and added some silver balls. I put them on the vintage cake stand that I sourced for my mum for Christmas. We found the plates a few years a go at a Vintage Fair which you can read about here and she loved them so much I set about sourcing the cake stand and some other pieces. They were hard to find, especially good condition ones, but luckily there was someone that lived less then half an hour away from me who wanted to sell a lot of her set.
It's safe to say that everyone enjoyed the cupcakes and they didn't last for long. My furry critic Jasper also loved them and rather enjoyed having glittery whiskas.
I recently introduced my Mum to Pinterest and she now keeps blaming me for her spending so much time on there. She loves looking at quilts and embroidery to find inspiration for her own. Plus the fact that there are hundreds of photos of Daniel Craig on there that seem to fuel her addiction too.
She is currently making me a very unique quilt, some cushions and some curtains for my bedroom. I will definitely blog about these to embarrass her as much as she embarrasses me every time an issue of Vintage Life comes out and she insits on telling the whole world about me writing for it. For Christmas I framed the first article I did for them way back in November 2012 with the front cover, my profile photo and my advert, which quickly got her all teary.
We hope you had a lovely Mother's Day, Mummy Second Hand Rose. We all love you so much and are incredibly grateful for all your love, kindness and of course your brilliant cooking. Now go back to Pinterest and oogle at Daniel Craig for another hour.
Second Hand Rose