wind-tousled by the lamp post

It's probably quite obvious that Burlesque is something D and myself enjoy quite a bit. This time we got tickets to La Bordello Boheme at the Proud Brighton Ballroom. Of all the different Burlesque-ish events we've been to over in Brighton, this one ranks as the best. Nevertheless, dressing up for it forms part of the pleasure itself, calling once again for feather eyelashes. A loose red pleated dress reminiscent of my mother's but worn with its straps down, a long silver necklace to mimic a toga look, hair pinned up loosely (only to be destroyed by the wind, as in the photographs above), and my dragon tights complete the look. Eyebrows that have been further darkened (extra-black waterproof eyeliner helps!) further channel the energy. . .

Zara dress; Mango silver necklace; my mother's chain belt; dragon tights via Ebay; Dolce&Gabanna triple-strapped MaryJanes; CottonOn/WishYouWereHere/Diva rings; Chanel handbag

a phrenology head in floral prints

There's something extremely charming about shirts that are too big for you. They look fantastic when tucked into high-waisted shorts (a similar style last seen in my first-ever post) or short skirts. This means that those beautiful printed shirts you find whilst thrifting or as the last piece on the sales rack that are too big for you can actually be worn. It also means that you can happily steal your man's/brother's/father's shirts, and get them writhing in jealousy that their clothes actually look better on you, whilst cheekily retorting that you're doubling the mileage for their clothes ;)


So, this is actually my grandmother's top. She'd bring us all to the textile shop to select patterns a few times a year, so she could tailor them. I love some of the prints*, so I took a few when she passed on-- it's a good way of remembering someone so very close to you and I hate to see clothes go to waste. Sometimes I find myself taking things no one else wants, whether stuff that's passed on or hanging sadly in the unwanted sales rack but I guess if you see meaning and/or potential in something, why not. For some time I wondered just how I could use them-- as the cut was more senior citizen than for 20-year-old-me back then-- and one day it struck me to wear them with very short bottoms. Voila. Wicked! On hindsight I should have taken them all because they were quality textiles and could be easily worked into any outfit. Anyway, I digress.
Large shirt (with sleeves rolled up and a few buttons undone) +  high-waisted shorts + a few pieces of bold jewelry = chic summer look
And going out in bunches, of course. I love that look. Plus if you sleep with your hair bunned up high on both sides, you wake up with beautiful soft waves. Sometimes you just want to go out looking a bit mad. 

 *Which I helped select quite happily. You see, whenever my mother accuses me of being very vain, I tell her I am an extreme version of her and her mother (i.e. my grandmother) combined.

top from my grandmother; Adam high-waisted shorts; Mango belt; Aldo shoes; Roccobarracco handbag; vintage bracelet; Accessorize earrings 

This is basically me following my own Five Second Makeup Face routine. This is Face (a), achieved by a quick wash of eyeshadow. The Five Second Makeup Face is pretty much what I do almost everyday, unless I'm going out for a meal, a date with D, to meet some friends, or just deciding to play with makeup for the hell of it.  But indulging in so little makeup has been refreshing ever since I gave up on foundation and mascara everyday. A simple skincare routine + sunblock + BB cream + eyebrow pencil followed by Five Second Makeup seems to suffice.

I love phrenology heads. D and I were once chatting about phrenology heads and then we started googling for them as well as 92891313 different concepts before realising it was 6am already. We both expressed that we wanted one, and the next thing we knew, we saw an original one by Fowler in a shop window the next day. Talk about madness. The mattress on the floor is a Thai Triangle Cushion, purchased recently for guests to sleepover on, because D launched an endless tirade against 'horrible, ugly blow-up mattresses that take forever to blow up, they are a joke". This has been a fantastic investment though (despite price differentials when compared with the blow-up mattress)-- a functional and beautiful piece of furniture that folds up into a neat pyramid when not in use. Of course, because it is so comfortable, it remains laid out all the time and I spend all my time lying on it.

your bespoke signature makeup step you must meet

 via here

Believe me, this will rank amongst one of the most worthwhile exercises you'll ever do.

Every girl who loves makeup or uses makeup will need this sometime. We've all got one of those freak days when we sleep past our alarm clocks before jolting up, grabbing the clock and shouting out loud, "Shit! Five minutes and I'm supposed to be out of the door or I'll be late!" in a frenzied squinty haze. During my first episode a few years back, I remember declaring somewhere, "It is now possible to wash up, dress and look quite made up in five minutes". In retrospect, that would never have been possible if I didn't know that one vital step of makeup my face loves. Five sweet seconds of eyeliner bliss, shading in the crease line of my double eyelid, and out of the door I flew. Whilst I can't profess to be as proficient as this or this,

Set aside about fifteen minutes for this exercise. Begin with a clean face devoid of makeup. Pick one feature, and apply some makeup to it quickly. Just one or two products.
The rule: this must not take more than fifteen seconds. 

For the eyes, 
(a) A quick wash of eyeshadow on your lids
(b) A simple flick of liquid eyeliner
(c) White eyeliner on your waterline-- an instant I Look Awake trick
(d) Some white/coloured eyeshadow on the inner corners of your eye
(e) A single coat of mascara
(f) Using kohl to  colour along the crease line of your double eyelids. This works wonders if your eyelids are not deep-set!

We will call each face according to its alphabetical assignation. For instance, I may try Face (c).

Take a good look at that face and examine if it has the right effect for you-- does it make your face pop? Does it make you look more polished or more awake. Take a quick photograph or two of that face.

Remove the product(s) you just added.

Try on another face. Repeat the same steps, including the photograph.

Ideas for the cheeks and lips include: (g) blush on the apples; (h) blush under the apples of your cheeks to sculpt your cheekbones; (i) one coat of nude gloss; (j)painted red lips.

Brainstorm and come up with a list before you begin, and add to the list as you explore. Be sure to label each photograph-- or at least know which Face each photograph maps to.

Line up all the photographs on your computer screen. Or if you want, print them; or use Polaroids.

Pick out the one that has the Ta-dah! effect on your appearance. That will be the emergency look and the quick-fix within your bag of tricks. If you're greedy like me, produce a stellar lineup of your Top Three Faces.

 via here
Personally, I think this tip is useful for situations beyond emergencies. If you're staying in for a period of time, upset that you're looking frumpy because you're busy doing chores or rushing out certain deadlines. Just that magic five, ten or fifteen seconds can make a difference, if even to yourself when you glance at your reflection. Or, if you're away camping and want to look just a little enhanced, this could come in handy. Otherwise, take the lessons learnt from this exercise into knowing what to add to your current everyday makeup face when you're suddenly required to look extra-good. A surprise last-minute date? A meeting in which you're going to present your work? A friend inviting you for a party after work or school. . Go figure ;)

anatomy of a wicked summer picnic

Oh, summer! The sun is shining comfortingly, the grass is lusciously inviting, and everywhere you feel life teeming voluptuously. So why not picnics? I love picnics. . unfortunately I only remember having a few in my childhood and never any more later, with no idea just why. So inspired by The Best Friend's picnic photos, I declared to D we must have a picnic, with work and general distractions seeing the months pass by, before eventually materialising in a very greedy, spontaneous affair up on the Tor in June. The Best Friend and her boyfriend were planning to visit Brighton for my birthday weekend, so like two happy chirpy girls, we decided that a picnic (and loads of photographs!) would be on the agenda. Within a mad flurry of messages exchanged via Facebook, we racked our brains for a theme-- and the excuse for a dress-- and like the vintage-lovin' girl that I am, suggested the 50's era. To say it was a wonderful picnic would be a massive understatement-- our amazing other-halves cooked a storm, provided delightful company and took us fantastic photographs-- here's to fantabulous picnics in the future, and here's how

Pick a theme, and a dress!
Our theme was vintage. More specifically, 50s. Easy-peasy, with the number of 50s dresses available online, in the markets and in my wardrobe. . Denise was really excited about it, telling me that she immediately went to Ebay to scout for her dress. I was intending to wear this playful red-and-white polka-dotted dress when D presented me with this gorgeous floral dress on my birthday complete with a crinoline, telling me "You can wear this for the picnic!". . and it would be rude not to* ;)
And on a sidenote, I love crinolines since I was a little girl, always wanting to "steal" them off brides before the wonders of Ebay and Amazon made shopping internationally convenient, the prohibitively-high shipping costs notwithstanding. Living in the UK, however, I'd always end up buying other stuff other than crinolines, so D has been so sweet to get me one. Our dresses in place, Denise was quite upset that she forgot to pack her crinoline to Brighton. On Saturday, I happily quipped, "Why not buy one here?" and she went, "No, P! I'm not going to waste any money buying more crinolines". On Sunday, however, she told me, "P, let's rush down to town and grab a crinoline". Wahoo! It'd be the two of us bulldozing down the flat in our ethereally-light crinolines. .

So yes, pick a theme, and pick your dress. Execute a detailed plan on what you are planning to accessorise your look with the night before with your friend, and let your friend talk you into carrying a Chanel handbag for a picnic, because you just feel like being a little decadent. Nevermind if the men are not going to participate in the theme, even if D deadpans, "Shall we both be naked and in dicky-bows" because . . you know they're going to love the dresses and The Look. After all, it's that which adds to the fun and bonding with gurlfriends. . . 
The dress and crinoline are by Hell Bunny; shoes from Dolce & Gabanna; handbag by Chanel; headpiece by Accessorize; and pearl necklace worn as bracelet by Diva.

*"It would be rude not to"-- as what D always says. It would thus be rude not to quote him. 

A gorgeous picnic hamper-- with everything strapped in
I panicked a little when I realised that we had no wicker basket or anything pretty to put our food in. A cursory Google search revealed so many awesome picnic baskets, and then I found Fine Food Stores, thinking to myself that if an empty basket from them would set me back by about £60, why not top up £30 to get loads of luxury food. Denise replied me, "I thought a picnic was frugal! Like sandwiches!" and that ricocheted me back to earth. Oh.

No more caviar and smoked venison then.

Maybe I should get a regular wicker basket, I thought. Denise went to hunt for one but with no joy, and by Wednesday I had found a pretty cute and simple one at Bert's whilst I went shopping for kitchen organisation. Then D came home from his own kitchenware hunt and told me excitedly, "There was this shop, and this amazing lined picnic basket. Proper posh. I'll take you there tomorrow. You're gonna love it".  Brighton really has the most amazing stores, I may never want to leave. Lined in mint-green cloth, its beautiful utensils, porcelain plates and wine glasses were lovingly strapped in leather. And there was a salt-and-pepper shaker. And a utility knife. I fell in love. It went home with us on Friday, where I gleefully unveiled it to Denise, who went, "P I thought it was meant to be frugal?" but she fell in love too.

As I told D, I had no idea picnic baskets are so cool. He explained that the British take their picnics seriously, and hence everything is beautifully strapped up. 

Verdict: This beautiful and utilitarian (best of every world!) piece from England At Home is worth every penny. A picnic basket, is, afterall reusable.

Cook up a storm
Whilst Denise and I raced down various parts of Brighton to grab her crinoline and other groceries, the boys whipped up a storm in the kitchen, and we stepped back into a gastronomically-tantalising world that took over the flat. A failsafe food plan for picnics would include sandwiches, salads, cupcakes, dried and fresh fruits, chocolates, boiled eggs, and olives. Also, remember to bring lime and lemon for your drinks.
Part of our 'search' for food began the day before at the Brighton Saturday markets, where we hauled home biltong, fresh walnut bread, pretty cupcakes, chocolate truffles; whilst D proudly unveiled king prawn rings earlier that morning.
Otherwise, this guide provides you with 101 picnic recipes prepared under 20 minutes
Throw in your favourite drinks-- wine, juice, ginger beer-- and even a canister or two of coffee and tea.

 Essential notes
Cool bags (easily available from the 99p store, no matter how ugly) and non-leak tupperware are musts for storing your foodstuffs.
As are plastic bags for wrapping up the dirty cutlery and crockery-- you don't want them to dirty your beautiful picnic basket. Of course, never forget napkins and wet tissues. For the latter, a big packet of baby wipes are highly economical. Just in case.
Finally, a picnic mat where all of you can lounge on.

Prime location and awesome weather
By the sea, in the park, in public gardens, on your roof garden, in a secret hideaway you discovered-- anywhere that catches your fancy.
D picked Hove Park, a sprawling beautiful expanse of greenery, and found us a shaded location under a few massive trees, away from boisterous children in other parts of the same park.

Set up your tripods!
Jason is an amazing photographer (who joked that he was invited for the weekend for his camera, which is not true!) and he came with his lenses and tripod, industriously snapping away, whilst D kept going, "We can eat first then take pictures later".


(1) It is a sunny day and you don't want to wait for your makeup to melt in the sun
(2) Your lipstick will progressively fade away as you drink
(3) Capturing moments is what it's all about, too.

D shakes his head at the three cameras snapping photographs of everything, because the only other alternative would be to hire a photographer for the event, which would be less fun and more expensive and not to mention, over-the-top! I'm sure D is fast learning these principles. . .
Food photography is mandatory
Because it helps you improve your photography skills. For a long time, I used to take horrendous pictures of everything, including framing a friend's shot so much so that her head looked like it was post-execution on a platter. My only saving graces were photographs of cats and food. Now after much practice with food photography, I think my people photography has improved by leaps and bounds. And of course, after picking up tips from friends and from D.
But that aside, food photography is mandatory because. .  you can trawl the pictures up in the middle of the night and drool. And, you know these pictures will always evoke lovely memories. 

Pictured: Salad with boiled eggs and Kettle Chips by D and Jason; D's Wicked Gourmet Sandwiches; pretty cupcakes purchased at below half-price (a.k.a. benefit of going to the market when it is about to close!); king prawn ring (we tucked into two); Crabbies' ginger beer.
Feed the dogs
You know how in Mary Poppins, you are asked to Feed The Birds? Well, feed the dogs when you're picnicking! 
Denise accidentally dropped the rest of the biltong* onto her dress and the grass, so she threw some onto the grass, and the olfactory senses in Buster (the dog in the picture) and his girlfriend Betty immediately went into high alert. 
D took the whole packet and gave it to the owners, who joked if they could join our picnic. And four very happy dogs were wolfing down biltong. Karma Points for D!

*A type of cured meat from South Africa
Feed the humans 
Extra Karma Points for D! ;)
(My hair is only so beautiful because Denise is a genius!)

Pose with your picnic basket
Hold on to the smart-looking strap to balance!

Take fun photographs 
The more WTF!?, the better. 
Celebrate friendship
It's one of the most beautiful blessings ever. What more when these memories are captured in picture-perfect moments, and in matching crinolines to boot.

Take beautiful portraits
It'd be criminal not to, when you're all dressed up. . 

Celebrate Love
Again, I secretly quipped to Denise, "I'm so happy we both found chefs". Although we do know it is beyond the Chef Factor :)

Take a nap 

Loads of love
We could have done without the fanciness but not without the love. It's the company that maketh the difference. .

 Have you had any picnics this summer? Do tell your experiences and your tips for the best picnics! x

best face forth & stop traffic with those gorgeous legs!

image of Dorothy Malone via here
So yes, I am giving a guilty little smile as I realise how my absence from Devilishly Pleasurable has been one long extended one. In between that all, I have been either very lazy or very busy, turned 25, had the most amazing 50s-style picnic over the weekend, The Chocolate Robber (a lovely staple on this site) has officially gone missing and is presumed dead :(, am quite happy with how The Lair looks like now, in the thick of summer and relishing the last two-and-a-half months before the last three years of school life officially begin. . . Cooking up new ideas and directions for the site as well as other projects on the side! 

Gorgeous summer glow!
Every girl has got loads of unwanted moisturisers, eye creams that don't work that well, and in a nutshell, a little lake of lotions and creams building in her collection. Especially when (1) you can't wait but try every pot or tube at the same time (2) one works better than another (3) something makes you break out slightly on your face (4) you have sachets of samples from magazines, friends, the beauty counters, etc
And then there may also be those bottles of liquid foundation and perfumes that you don't really use lying around collecting dust. Else, they are in the wrong shade. Personally, it pains me to see all these go to waste. Especially when you've spent £15 on some tube of moisturiser that your facial skin doesn't like.  But, these can be co-opted rather ingeniously for a gorgeous all-over summer glow (or even winter, if you so desire!)

All you need is (1) a large dispenser bottle-- a gorgeous one would be lovely! (2) your growing stash of creams and lotions (3) some foundation and/or bronzer and/or illuminator (4) a few drop of perfume/essential oils.
Painstakingly decant and squeeze your creams and lotions into the big bottle. That would be 15 parts. Add 1 part of foundation/bronzer/illuminator-- this can be less, depending on how much tint you want. Bronzing powder will also do. Another good idea is to add in some anti-aging cream so your mix can do double-duty. 
Then squeeze in a few drops of your favourite essential oils or perfumes. Mix whatever scents your nose loves. Spicy yet refreshing? Try black pepper + bergamot. Mysterious and sexy? Frankincense + ylang ylang. Or orange + vanilla + cinnamon to smell like pancakes and ice cream soda. Shake the bottle vigorously because you are concocting an amazing witch's brew of a cocktail. Give it a final stir.
There! Place your gorgeous bottle somewhere in your bathroom or bedroom where you will always remember to use it. Now slather it all over your you, feeling like your favourite Goddess, before going out to stop traffic with those gorgeous legs and a head-turning smile, smelling absolutely divine.

In a nutshell, this is the perfect way to smell divine, have glowing skin, cover some little imperfections (like those bruises you may get from knocking into corners all the time. . well, at least I do), eliminate wastage and clear clutter. Plus it will also be enriched with the properties of the lotions and creams you add in.
Don't have any such creams but are keen to try something like this? Buy a large bottle of unscented lotion and concoct away!  

 image via Liz Earle

And, for a quick facial perk-me-up,  masks are de rigeur. But sometimes, they take a little too long. One of my favourites is an "instant mask" by Liz Earle, the Brightening Treatment Mask that never fails to impart instant radiance. Containing camphor oil and toning witch hazel, as well as soothing aloe vera to boot, all you have to do is massage it onto clean, dry skin for 30 seconds to a minute before wiping it off with a warm muslin cloth. A quick-fix that makes your skin oh-so-smooth, letting your makeup glide on beautifully! 

and summer puts you under its spell. . .

Summer is approaching and the beaches are filled with people. Brighton is bustling, the flowers are blossoming and it is teeming with life everywhere as the sun starts to shine brighter, the days get longer, and life gets a little warmer. In the meantime, I have been holding my breath and crossing my fingers and toes till they start to spasm, going through rounds of interviews in the fight for two (or maybe one) places, and having a high fever and bad cold on the day of the final round itself. . and finally got word that I got into the course of my choice! This autumn marks the beginning of my last three years of studies. D keeps calling me Dr P prematurely now, and we have a mighty good laugh about it. . and I think I can finally start to blog properly now that the suspense and stress is over, whilst remembering that I still do have loads of winter shots swimming around in my hard disk.  Some pictures over the weeks. .

The day I got my offer letter-- I guess I will forever remember 20 April 2011. . I remember how I was fretting non-stop when I was awaiting the outcome of my Masters applications back in 2009. And here came another round of fretting, to be finally broken into a smile. .

H&M striped dress; Dolce & Gabanna shoes; vintage snake cuff and Warehouse cuff; vintage navy leather belt; vintage earrings
And of course, the amazing D will always convince me to be able to have breakfast even if it's 10 more minutes to me going off to work :)


Stark contrast to the more proper-looking outfit above. The sort of things (i.e. clothes that have been worn previously for a couple of hours) you throw together on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon when you're about to walk to the supermarket at 5pm only to realise that all the shops are closed. . . Eccentric shades complete the look.
Charlotte Russe dress; Zara Men denim shirt; Diva bangle; vintage green leather handbag; Accessorize necklace; Aldo shades; vintage clip-on earrings


The Rambling Red Rose seems to be a staple. Whether on cold nights or warm evenings, whether eyes are lined with colours or shaded in a style slightly inspired by racoons. . 
 Superdrug red fabric rose; vintage faux fur coat
Primark floral dress

I am somewhat guilty about how much I am The Flower Destroyer. I.e. of buds languishing in vases in pubs and restaurants. I cannot help but 'help them to bloom' before making art out of them. I remember watching the man in Art Attack make his ingenious mosaics, and perhaps here's me trying my hands at it.

When the weather warms up, The Chocolate Robber visits less. Clearly, all she wants is a warm sofa. Biatch! Here's her quite happily having leaves fall atop her. I always tell D cats are the best creatures to learn from-- all you have to do is display yourself somewhere and people will fuss over you. .

One of my student's mother baked me an amazing fresh cream cake with fruits studded in the sponge. .  Needless to say we devoured it in two evenings. . . 

My favourite human being and myself. . enjoying the sunshine as it streams into the flat. The one who has been rooting for me, supporting my mad decisions, and telling me to stop fretting for the past few weeks. And the one who patiently escorted me to London for my last round of interviews when I was down with fever and a cold. . 

Discovering that jackfruit is available here in tins! Gosh, I love its flavour. Tropical fruits (durians, rambutans, lychees, jackfruits) have got such a deep flavour and are so satiating that I can never have enough. I will always be a tropical girl at heart. .

Whilst teaching I discovered this gorgeous place with amazing grand buildings, and overlooking a magnificent park and the sea. Plus their bathrooms are twice the size of my living room-- it got me fantasising a huge chrome bathtub, loads of plants, a dedicated makeup counter, a hugeass sofa, and ornate mirrors leaning against the walls. I am officially jealous and am now plotting to get a place there. . You see, the building even comes with those ancient lifts with doors you have to twist open yourself and a metal gate you have to push with all your might and strength to enter-- charming! Perhaps I sound mad now, but I remember how the first (and only other) time I came across these lifts was in some old building in Cambridge with June. We were half-afraid it wouldn't work. . and then we vowed to return for photos, but never did.

Blooming daffodils. . .

And gorgeous Brighton/Hove. Have a lovely Easter weekend everyone! :)
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