Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Five in good telly shock

Is anyone else watching Stylista on Five? I know it's trashy but I can't help it, there's something about bitchy New York wannabe fashion icons that I just can't resist (even if New York magazine is horrified). Ashlie to win! (she's already writing the official series blog so I think she's got the inside track)

I'm also secretly enjoying Step It Up and Dance too - more bitchy Americans, this time with dancing! Elizabeth Berkley is completely superfluous of course, but otherwise loving it.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Retro clothes

My final find of the weekend was the Ribbons & Taylor vintage clothes shop, again on Stoke Newington Church Street. They had a great selection of dresses in retro graphics (very 'now' if you believe the fashion mags), and loads of vintage jewellery (lots of it for a bargainous fiver).

I couldn't resist a pair of 1920s silver leaf earrings, only £15; Mark dragged me out before I sepent any more. Oh to be rich with a walk-in closet!

Vintage furniture on the web

Stoke Newington (it was a productive weekend!) also has a couple of good vintage furniture shops, among them the Peanut Vendor, which has an online shop.

It's not the flashiest site in the world but it's unusual to find a retro store represented on the web; treat yourself to a virtual rummage (they have a very nice dressing table and some cool phones at the mo).

Mama Ain't Raisin' No Fool!

Another nice find in Stoke Newington was the Nippaz With Attitude clothing line. I think the babygrow in the pic was my favourite, but they also had a cool "What would Joe Strummer do?" tee and a Bob Dylan one that I've stored away for future reference (no pressure guys!).

Eat cake!

Hmm, there's a definite theme developing today...

We went on a family outing to Stoke Newington Church Street on Saturday - I used to live there but I hadn't been back in about six years (I feel old...). It's still as shabby chic as ever, though there are a few more vintage shops and baby stores, the salsa bar and jazz place have gone, and the house prices have definitely gone up (no way we could afford it now!).

Anyway, the most exciting discovery of the day was a genuine old-fashioned tea room! Ok, it can only have been there a few years but it's the closest I've found in London to a proper tea and cake joint. Called The Tea Rooms, it does what it says on the tin - quaint little tablecloths, retro crockery (which it also sells), proper brown Betty teapots and cakes to die for.

I fell off the cake wagon last week (I was surrounded by birthday cakes, what's a girl to do?) and I was going to jump back on again but there's no way I could resist the offer of their afternoon tea. We had finger sandwiches (half of them veggie), scones with clotted cream and jam (not enough cream for Mark) and three miniature cakes (ginger, chocolate and a delicious heart-shaped carrot cake), plus a large pot of the house tea which was the perfect antidote to a rainy day.

At £10 for that little lot it was an absolute bargain (and much nicer than the giant Liberty's tea that's almost twice the price and nowhere near as authentic). It's not that easy to haul a buggy down to Stokey from our end of town but we'll definitely be making a return visit soon.

Vote for cake!

India holds general elections next month, so the paper is preparing a graphic to show party support. It's not that interesting a topic to research, but I did come across a random fact for your delectation - in India, political parties must be represented by a symbol (I guess the equivalent of the party logos over here).

Not that fascinating maybe - the recognised parties have fairly standard bicycles, elephants and leaves - but check out the list of symbols that are still unclaimed (at the bottom of the PDF). Anyone fancy voting for a political party that uses an electric pole to represent itself, or a ceiling fan? How about a sewing machine? Can't see many voters turning out for the walking stick party (what does that say about your approach to politics?), or the battery torch one. I would definitely vote for the cake party though!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Who turned the lights out?

Earth Hour gets bigger and better every year. Hope everyone turned out the lights tonight! Mark wasn't too impressed that he had to have a bath in the dark but we had a candlelit dinner after so I won him round.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Spiderman saves boy

No time to tidy up the blog today, expect plenty of action tomorrow.

There's just enough time to flag up this little beauty though - Spiderman was always my favourite too (although I'm being drawn to the Dark Knight at the moment).

Friday, 20 March 2009

The name's Stoddard, Logan Stoddard



Down on the farm

Went to Whitehouse Farm in Northumberland for the day, with Gran and Grandad. We had so much fun! Logan wasn't sure about getting up close with the animals - he wasn't overly keen on feeding the lambs and he screamed as soon as the rabbit we were stroking moved - but he loved the tractors and watching the sheep from a distance. And we all had fun on the trampoline!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Future England striker

If you believe his daddy

The park of my youth

Pretty bleak!

Down the park

Playing football with daddy - it's a bit weird watching him play where I used to, everything seems diminished somehow, too small.

More rambling


Logan wasn't interested in the picnic, he just wanted to run around.


Spent the day at Uncle John's cottage in Mickleton, then stopped on the way home to give Logan his tea. It's so still out there, you can't see any signs of civilisation and all you can hear are lapwings (and the occasional fighter jet).

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Not sure about gardens

In the garden with Gran

Got milk?

Logan was impressed with Gran's rice pudding

Mark sniffs out the comics section

Pretty poor, not surprisingly for Newton Hall library


Gateway to the North. Or something.

We're on the way to my mum and dad's for a week, Logan was great on the train! Kept saying choo choo, his new favourite sound.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Jon Stewart rocks

Just a quicky - working on a Jon Stewart profile and came across this clip of his appearance on Crossfire in 2004. CNN's political 'debate' show met its demise only a few months later, when the new network head admitted Stewart had a point.

Anyone who wonders why The Daily Show is one of the most respected American political programmes around ("on Comedy Central, really?") should watch the clip.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

In praise of Supernatural

Supernatural is positively the best thing on the box at the moment! Tightly written scripts, brilliant one-liners, sly pop culture (and heavy metal) references, complex characters and demons galore - what's not to love?

It's basically a twisted roadtrip around small-town America, played out to a heavy rock soundtrack. The ongoing story is gripping (will Dean and Sam defeat the yellow-eyed demon once and for all? Will Sam go over to the dark side? Will Dean go to hell, again?), but the writers are smart enough to throw in some brilliant one-off episodes as well.

Sunday night's ep was a perfect example. Written by Ben Eklund (who wrote some of Angel's funniest stand-alones, including the excellent Smile Time that cast Angel as a Henson puppet), Wishful Thinking saw the brothers battling a working wishing well with bad intentions in Concrete, Washington. I know it sounds weird but there's nothing funnier than a suicidal teddy bear and a bullied kid with superpowers ("Kneel before Todd!").

It's a shame it's hidden away on ITV2 on a Sunday evening, but it's had the same slot for its entire run so it must be holding its audience; a weekly ritual in our house is to sit down to a roast dinner and a bit of Sam and Dean. If it carries on the way it's going, it even risks overtaking the venerable Buffy in Mark's estimation.

Okay, so it's not as grown up as Mad Men or as popular as Heroes, but I defy you not to laugh at this! See, people? Watch Supernatural!!

Three princes

BBC Three's slightly batty but throughly watchable programme Undercover Princes debuted on BBC1 last night. Mani is the absolute star of the show!

Their quest may be entirely unrealistic (where in Brighton are you going to find an aristocratic lady/gentleman nice enough, and meek enough, to take home to daddy/the tribe/the royal advisors?), but it's fun watching them lose their inhibitions, and sad to think how much they miss out on by sticking with royal protocol back home.

Roll on the second series!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Book of the fortnight

Sadly overdue, again (insert library joke here). Must try harder to turn these in on time!

Anyway, on with the review. Jo and Dave bought me Twilight for my birthday; I remember the hype surrounding the film (why teenage girls think Robert Pattinson is attractive is beyond me, maybe I need to see the movie) but I hadn't read much about the books.

Jo quite rightly thought a book about American teenagers and vampires would interest me, and once I got used to the slightly adolescent style it was a good read, although definitely a piece of escapism rather than a literary work of genius.

The story centres around Bella, the new girl in a very bleak Washington town, who falls in love with Edward, another outsider, who just happens to be a vampire (but he doesn't eat humans, so that's okay). Cliches abound - lonely teenagers, high school cliques, vampires with good intentions - and the romance element reminded me of Mills and Boon; this is definitely a Buffy-Angel teen fantasy, not a complex Buffy-Spike one (no offence to Joss Whedon, who is a much better writer). The fluffiness is saved by Bella's pithy sarcasm, though (I couldn't help picturing her as Ellen Page), and the plot does darken as it unfolds.

But I'm not the target audience, and it's easy to see why the series is so popular. What teenage girl can't identify with being the outsider, or wanting to fall for the devastatingly handsome but slightly dangerous boy at school (and, even better, have him fall for her?). If you roll your eyes at the mushier stuff, Twilight is a great guilty pleasure and it's way cooler than reading Harry Potter on the tube.

Small thoughts

A builder tipped his hardhat at me the other day, with a "Morning, madam". I know I should be horrified (either at the blatant sexism or the fact I'm old enough to be called madam), but I was secretly rather chuffed. It's sad how little it takes to brighten up my day.

Meet your (jewellery) maker

I've already blogged about the very cool cherry pendant Christine gave me for my birthday. I've lost count of the number of things she's made for me over the years (my wedding band for starters). I love hearing about the different pieces she's working on.

Now she's started her own blog, so you can find out what a jeweller does all day down there in Eastbourne.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Making cookies

Logan made up his own little cookie dance, I think he was mid-flow here.

Eating cookies!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Where can you find pirates?

You've probably seen Weebl's hilarious Kenya animation before (if not, it is absolute genius; Mark used to sing it to Logan when he was wee).

Now there's an updated version - the action has switched to Somalia but the tune is just as catchy ("...can you high seas it...").

Also, check out their badger song, and the Weebl and Bob toons, v funny(pie!).

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Logan hits the park

Went to the park at the heath on Saturday with the North London posse. I think Logan liked the roundabout but maybe he just couldn't figure how to get off! He seemed a bit happier once Gracie took control.

Tube art

Saw this at Highgate tube yesterday, I like the idea that taking the underground is a lottery though I'm not sure that's the intended meaning! It's by Stuart Cumberland.

word of the day


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Is this the first sign of spring?

Spotted my first ice cream van of the year yesterday, something about the sound of the jingle just makes me smile.

Even though of course spring doesn't start until March 21st or thereabouts (whatever the Met Office says).

Lent caveats 6-8

6. Breakfast cereals are not included (but sugar won't be added).
7. Hot chocolate from the tea station at work is not included (sorry, I need it to get me through the day!).
8. Ditto Ovaltine.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Domino excitement

Ok, so I've still not reviewed the Oscars outfits (work keeps getting in the way, grr) but I have got a bit of televisual genius to share with you - Domino Day 2008.

In case you missed it on Channel 5 (it's become a staple of the Stoddard family Christmas), the BBC has handily put together a montage of the best bits. I defy you not to get a teensy bit excited.

And if that weren't enough, here's another example of a celeb you never knew could dance - Christopher Walken showing how it's done, for Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice video. Genius.