Heirloom Jewels #1

I am a woman. Therefore I like Jewelery. A lot. It carries stories. Diamonds are a girls best friend. As much for sentiment as for beauty. I'm not that fussy though, diamonds or not, accessories pull it all together - if it holds class, brings something bold but retains long-time elegance - it's a winner. 

An age old tradition revolves around jewellery, and it involves giving it as a gift to mark an occasion. It could be an engagement: a symbol of promise and excitement for the future. Perhaps an 18th Birthday - congratulations, you made it. Or a Graduation, to say, well done for your hard work. The jewels are beautiful, they are expensive. But it is they memories, the thought that makes them everlasting. The feeling that rings as you slide it around your finger, or clasp around your neck. 

I'm an accessories girl through and through. Jewellery, shoes, bags - bring it on. I thought I would share a few stories about my favourite pieces, and what they mean to me, if not just to give you a bit of my world, but also for me to remember the meaning behind each and every piece. 

This gold ring with a dark sapphire gem first caught my eye a couple of years before in our local jewlers. It sat amongst the engagement rings, its diginity and charm understated by an incredible price. But I walked away, I kept my card in my purse, so that when I glanced back a year later I was shocked to see it was still there. 
I walked away, thought nothing of it. Until I lost my other jewellery (only to be found in a cardigan in the washing machine - no fear no fear) one day. Now I always wear rings - I have a staple few that never come off, bar washing up or the occasional restless sleep. 
And then my family turned up with this - an early graduation present, a comfort and congratulations in one. It took me a few months to learn to wear it without fear of loss or breakage, but it sits on my right middle finger as I type. 

These are charms, without the charm bracelet. Small little pendants that hold a special group of friends in my heart. 
Of course - I mean my Alderney Girls. Each birthday over the years they have bought me a pendant to add to my collection - I have a locket from my parents years ago, and a crucifix that was sadly lost to the streets of NYC in 2006. I swap and match as and when I feel like it. 
The heart was a gift for my 19th Birthday - I had seen in it our local jewellers weeks before (the very same of the ring above) and was handed it in a box on that very special day. A special day made less so special by a cruel bout of swine flu. Hallucinations and fever be dammed. 
The other symbolises the home in which I grew up and met these wonderful people, where my summers flew by in a haze of beaches, beer tents and bunker raving. The shape of my beloved island, Alderney, with the coordinates of it's place in the world engraved. I wear this whenever I feel homesick or apart from my girls. 

A 21st gift from Tor-Bear, this Kate Spade ring is engraved with a message that was chosen with me in mind. At the time I didn't feel all that colourful, but I now live by that idea - life should be as colourful as possible. You should feel everything. See everything. Live everything. So that is what I set out to do now, every day. Live Colourfully, with a smile throughout. 


The Big Adventure #7: Melaka

Decked out Rickshaws with fairy lights and stereos blasting, each with a sacred football sticker

Aside from mild pronunciation and spelling issues (Where is the K? Melaka or Mekala?) the city felt like a first step to Malaysian city culture.  Where Penang was historical and beautiful, it was commercial and colonialized too. Being another UNESCO World Heritage city Melaka was captivating. A small town with culture and history embedded throughout each corner, each person, each tradition. We chose to visit following rave reviews from fellow travelling bums like Rebecca at Articulate London, a favourite girl of mine. With dazzling rickshaws, old town history, and pineapple tarts Melaka was simply charming.

We arrived on bus after a 5 hour journey down from Penang – it cost us approximately 65 Malaysian Ringgits (£13/£14) for the two of us to get – wait for it – A LUXURY BUS. No more Thai maniacs whipping us around corners while we held chickens in our hands and beer crates with our feet. The seats reclined, the air-con left us feeling somewhat clean, the curtains closed, the roads were smooth...heaven. After wandering around the bus station for a good 15 minutes looking for our stop we jumped onto a bus for 5ringitts apiece with our rucksacks and sleepy heads in search of our new home. 

Melaka – previously known as Malacca -  historically was a small fishing village inhabited by Malays. Over the centuries there were power plays between the Malays, the Chinese, the Dutch and the Portuguese. It was held in Dutch power for over 150 years until the late 1700’s when the British took over Malacca following the french invasion of the Netherlands. Because of this the city is a complete hybrid of cultures – from the Dutch architecture of the Red Square to St Francis’ Church upon the hill.  Hostels, shops, Mosques and restaurants line the river that runs through the town: The Malacca Straits. (Funny story: as we wandered down the glittering river, dusk settling, fairy lights glowing, a small fishing boat sped past. We looked, in a daze, the lovely Melaka pulling us in, only to see that the surface of said ‘glittering’ river, was actually a shit load of dead fish. All dead. Floating on the surface. And the ‘fishing boat’? Scooping them up in a net and driving away with hundreds piled at their feet. We didn’t eat fish in Melaka. We didn’t know where they came from. It did however, smell. Bad.)

Draft Beer...Say what?


Anything that swims: The Cream-Free Creamy Fish Pie

I am not a fan of fish.

I have been told many many times that it is good for me. But it’s not enough. The scales, the stench – it takes a really good cook to whip up a swimmer that appears edible in my eyes. But tonight: it was done.

Fish Pie.

But not the creamy buttery goodness that you imagine, for lactose-intolerance has somewhat hindered my ability to ‘eat anything’. (Not that I did before – I’ve been a fussy little so-and-so since my very first breath.) This fish pie was created with me in mind – not too fishy, light, creamy without the cream. Flavours – oh those flavours. Peppery, salty and smooth.

The Dairy Free Fish Pie 

Perfectly Flaky

  • Create a vegetable stock – whether by boiling down veg over the stove and filling your home with that Sunday smell, or by whipping a cube out of the Oxo box – put it in a frying pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add a couple of bay leaves and a small handful of peppercorns into the mix as it bubbles away.
  • The Fish: Always try to use a smoked fish in this kind of pie – it gives a kick without being overwhelming or pathetic. Also use a whitefish. For this we used Smoked Haddock and Whiting. These are actually best used from frozen – you can get fresh fish and then freeze it – I don’t mean straight from the Iceland packet you so carefully bury under your home baked goods. When put into the simmering pan they will gently cook, releasing the defrosting and fishy juices into the stock to create…wait for it: A FISH STOCK. So throw the fish in, cover in tin-foil and leave until the fish is happily cooking away – not fully but also not frozen – test with a knife to see how easily it starts to flake. If it needs gentle pulling then you are set to go.

  • Remove the fish onto a chopping board and strain the peppercorns and herbs out of the stock, saving the liquid in a jug for a later date. Gently pick apart the fish into flaky chunks – not too large but also reasonably bite-sized. Add these and any veg you like – sweet corn, peas, carrots, you name it – into a bowl.
  • Parsley Sauce. Now usually this would be done with butter, milk, cream, or something else dairy-related which would make me sick for the next week. Instead we create a Roux. Chop onions and chuck them into a pan with some olive oil, frying till they soften. Add around 2 tablespoons of Gluten-Free Flour and stir. Slowly pour the remaining vegetable/fish stock into the pan, stirring till it thickens up into a creamy juicy creamy thing.
  • Throw in a handful of finely chopped parsley and stir for a few minutes before pouring happily over the flaky fish and veg.

It doesn't look particularly nice. It does taste it though. 
  • Next step: Mash. Mashed potatoes – nothing better than a good plate of mash. But with no butter? No Milk? Simples. Olive Oil, pepper, salt, and a lot of season to taste. Boil the potatoes till they are soft, drain and mash. Generously season with pepper and salt, pour a tablespoon of Olive Oil in and mash together. Taste – salt and pepper are up to you. It depends on personal taste – I am all in on the seasoning. Nothing like a really peppery mash for a peppery fish pie. Salt evens it out a little, not too much because – well, it’s pretty bad. But a little will take a dish from dull to perfect in a tiny pinch. The oil is important because it will make the mash far less dry and starchy, more creamed, but still maintain the potato texture. This is actually a great way of playing on healthier versions of mash – try it! If you fancy it throw in a few chopped chives for another burst, gotta love the chivey-mash.
  • Right – everything is prepared. All is left to do is layer and cook. The Best way to lay mash onto a sauce is in blobs – that way the sauce doesn’t creep up the side and over the top; the heat stays inside and the pie is prettified. Run a fork over to lighten the top and put in the oven on around Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes, or until the mash is crispy brown on top!