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I have finally taken the plunge and am moving from a wordpress.com blog to self-hosting, with the assistance of the very helpful Paul at UK Web Solutions Direct. So this will be my last post on mollyandtheprincess.wordpress.com/ as I’m now mollyandtheprincess.com

 

So far I have the new site looking much the same as possible as this one, but I’m hoping to add some changes as I learn how to self-host, I have never written a piece of code in my life so a lot to learn!

 

Right now on the new site I need to add my blogroll; work out how to add a subscriber button; how to activate statistics; how to add the WordPress post a day badge to my sidebar; and how to link the images (especially the Aspire Style discount code logo) to an external web url.

 

If any one can recommend a good book on WordPress for beginners – absolute beginners – please do! Hopefully I will get the hang of it all soon enough and be blogging like a pro in no time.

 

I’m feeling a little scared as I head off into the world of self-hosting, but bye bye WordPress.com, it’s been fun!

 

Chai Time

I like coffee, I like tea, I like … chai? I didn’t know what to expect when I was sent this Red Chai and Cranberry drink from Zuma Drinks to review, described as a ‘spiced milk tea’. Not being very keen on milk (or even soya alternatives) I had my doubts that I would like it. But …

 

 

… I was wrong! It’s absolutely delicious. It’s got more in common with a hot chocolate drink, than with tea, so once I realised this and that it wasn’t going to be like a really milky tea (which I’d never have liked), and I sniffed at the wonderful aromas in the sachet, I was no longer hesitant to try it.

 

 

It looks a lot prettier in Zuma’s tea glasses (top photo) than my big mug (above) but this didn’t detract from the taste experience. The flavours are quite subtle, which I like, and the fruitiness of the cranberries adds extra flavour and sweetness, but not too much, which is great. It’s a nice comforting drink, without the heaviness of hot chocolate. I liked reading the description on the back of the sachet too:

 

Soothing, energising, refreshing, and carefully designed to bring maximum happiness, chai is a potent blend of revitalising natural ingredients even rumoured to have healing properties.


So there you have it, maximum happiness in a cup – who would say no to that?

 

Zuma Red Chai and Cranberry can be bought from Beyond the Bean – thank you to them for sending me some to review.

 

 

I have a sore mouth today, due to my awful gums, the bane of my life. I guess this was why, when I was looking through my photos for blog inspiration, I was drawn to this photo of the ‘Zahnweh-Herrgott’, or ‘Lord of the Toothache’ from the back of Vienna’s most famous cathedral, Stephansdom, at the very heart of the city.

 

 

 

I realised that I didn’t actually know the reasons why it was called Lord of the Toothache (or sometimes Christ with a Toothache), and despite looking in pain, the Christ figure is not depicted clutching his jaw or pulling a lop-sided face. So, I thought I’d better look up the story behind this strange naming.

 

The fourteenth-century ‘Ecce Homo’ figure was originally on the exterior of the church, one of the many devotional statues that were venerated by the people of Vienna in their daily acts of worship. The figure faced the area which was then the church’s graveyard. According to folklore, three men (in some accounts many more) mocked the agonised figure of Christ saying he looked as if he had toothache. Later that night, those that mocked were themselves afflicted with terrible toothache, which was only cured once they returned to Stephansdom to ask forgiveness from the statue.

 

Whether true or not, the story reminds us of the original function of these types of images, which was to encourage an affective response from the viewer, who was being invited to identify with Christ’s pain and suffering, to really feel it. Maybe the story was made up to remind the people of Vienna of the supposed power of these devotional statues to make Christ’s agony real to his people, and that this was no laughing matter.

 

It also makes me smile to think of how the Viennese love making up funny names for things. It reminds me of Dublin, where the monument to Anna Livia (formerly on O’Connell Street) is affectionately known as ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ (and more colourful versions of the same), and another piece of public art (near the Ha’penny Bridge), which depicts two women sitting on a bench with shopping bags at their feet is known as ‘The Hags with the Bags’. Perhaps the most famous colloquial name in Vienna is that given to the foliated dome of the Secession Building, the ‘Golden Cabbage’.

 

 

I’m sure there are many more nicknames for public statues in both Dublin and Vienna that I was going to mention in this post, but toothache is preventing me from thinking straight. If you know any, please do write them in the comments below. In the meantime, and because I can’t instantly be transported back to medieval Vienna to be cured by the Zahnweh-Herrgot, I’m going to have a couple of paracetamol and an early night. Tschüss!


You may have noticed something new over there in the right-hand sidebar – a lovely discount code for my favourite boutique, Aspire Style. As you will have gathered from previous posts here on Molly and the Princess, I can’t get enough of their lovely clothes, shoes, accessories and gifts, and now all with a fabulous 10% discount that Aspire Style are generously sharing with my readers too!

 

To celebrate, and give you the code, I am wearing my favourite Fever Delilah Dress and Irregular Choice Backlash Shoes from Aspire. If you are quick, you could still nab a Delilah dress like this in the sale for only £30 – Bargain!

 

(sorry about dreadful photo, will retake tomorrow in better light!)

 

The code can be used on all purchases, even the brand new range of Orla Kiely bags just in! I’ve got my eye on this Stem Maze Handbag in Navy, it’s a new shape for Orla Kiely and you could be the first to get your hands on one if you order from Aspire, and get it the cheapest anywhere using code Molly!

 

 

 

On the subject of bags, I am also very tempted by this Nica Alicia Portfolio in Chocolate – too cool for school!

 

 

There are many more gorgeous items to be had at Aspire Style, and I hope you enjoy browsing the website and using the Molly code at checkout. The code will be valid for as long as it remains in the sidebar of this blog, and new items are coming in all the time, so I will be back to tempt you with my favourite picks from time to time! Happy shopping!

 

 

 

 

Lots of birthdays coming up in February (including my own) which means presents! I do agonise over choosing presents, and am never sure if I get it right. But I never worry about wrapping, which is one of my favourite pastimes!

 

 

First birthday in February is that of one of my sisters. When we were little our aunty used to take us for long walks on a Sunday and in the spring we would gather primroses and cowslips. I know this is dreadful to admit, and I wouldn’t dream of doing it now, but in 1970s Ireland there was no concern (that we were aware of) that picking wild flowers would endanger them. We would collect as many as we possibly could, leaving some behind of course for others to enjoy.

 

Primrose- Devon County Flower (photograph devon.gov.uk)

 

Our aunty would help us make ‘tossballs‘ out of the cowslip heads – using much the same principle as for wool bobbles. I remember being so excited about rigging up double lines of wool from the bedpost to the doorknob, and delicately balancing the cowslip heads along them. I never understood how my aunty would then pull the two ends of the wool, turning the line of dancing cowslip heads into a perfectly round ball that we would then play ‘toss’ with. Magic.

 

No primrose or cowslip picking for me or my siblings these days, but as a reminder I am giving my sister this pretty Azendi primrose necklace from their Birthday Flowers range.

 

 

My sister also wears corsages a lot, so I have topped her wrapped present with a black fabric flower corsage pin, and used my favourite wrapping paper which reproduces the Wiener Werkstätte fabric design, Schwalbenschwanz.

 

 

The end result isn’t perfect, as I had run out of double-sided sticky tape, essential in my view to an expertly-wrapped present, but I am pretty pleased with the result all the same. Hope my sister likes!

 

Disclaimer: Please don’t pick wild flowers, I promise I don’t do this now!

 


I wouldn’t say I love ironing, in that I’d choose to do it over, say, reading the Sunday papers, but I do kind of like it. Over the years, people have made fun of my like of ironing, if not taken strong objection to it. I once had a boyfriend who really didn’t like me ironing, saying it was very Catholic (which I presume he meant in a bad way). I have even been told that ironing teatowels is a sign (or symptom?) of low self-esteem: a way of feeling in control of the small things in life when you feel out of control of the bigger things.

 

 

Domestic Bliss - it didn't last!

 

Whatever its a sign of, I’m going to stick to ironing my teatowels. I love starting the week with a fresh pile of ironed and folded teatowels ready to stack neatly in the teatowel drawer.

 

 

Please feel free to post your analysis of this strange pasttime of mine in the comments below, or maybe I’m not alone in this?

 

 

I didn’t think I could love the Davina Peace range of organic luxuries any more that I already do, having tried her body and hand creams, but then I hadn’t yet experienced the sheer heaven in a bottle that is the Davina Peace Body Oil, and her dreamy Mini Candle Memories. Now I am head-over-heels in love, if it is possible to be so with a brand!

 

 

As with all Davina Peace products, the Body Oil comes beautifully packaged, with the distinctive listing of ingredients – 70% organic and not a trace of anything unnatural sounding. In the ‘A Note To You …‘ from Davina inside, it says ‘The experience will begin well before the package is opened‘ and this is so true – I knew I was in for a real treat from the list of ingredients. Crambe, Safflower, Jojoba, Kendi and Borage Oils, and my very favourite essential oils: Geranium, Sweet Orange, Rose, Lavender and Chamomile, amongst others – all conjure up luxuriousness of both texture and scent.

 

The oil lives up to this promise – it smells amazing and feels even better, and makes skin wonderfully soft. It takes a little while to sink in, but I was happy to wait as the oil worked its magic through the layers of my skin. With a product like this you will want to savour it anyway, so probably best to use after an evening bath rather than in the morning if you are rushing to get dressed and off to work.

 

What better way to complete the pampering experience than with one of Davina Peace’s scented candles, which come in both 190g and 50g sizes. I tried the Mini Candles, each scent based on a ‘Memory’: White Flowers, Citrus Fruits and Spiced Punch.

 

 

Davina Peace Mini Candle Memories

 

I urge you to read the descriptions of these scents on the Davina Peace website, they just sound so amazing, and they are. So far I have tried only two, White Flowers and Spiced Punch, and am saving my favourite sounding till last, Citrus Fruits: ‘The Balmy Smell of Citrus Fruits. This cosseting candle throws a warm citrus blend of Sicilian lemon peel, juicy orange combined with the fresher, green citrus notes of Italian bergamot and a spicy mouth-watering twist of root ginger.’ Mmmm.

 

Davina Peace White Flowers Mini Candle

 

The candles are made with from a mix of Ecosoya ®, beeswax and organic essential oils. I can only describe the smell of the White Flowers candle as creamy and dreamy – I did not want to put it out the first night I burned it. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise when I did – unlike normal wax candles, even luxury scented ones, there was no candle smoke smell at all, that usually intensifies when you snuff out a candle. Nothing but creamy, dreamy fragrance.

 

I was worried the Spice Punch candle might be a bit too Christmassy to burn after the fact, but no, it is a beautiful multi-layered and warming scent that is just perfect for these colder days. And, that is good news if you are reading this on 30 January, as you still have one day left to buy the 190g size Spiced Punch candle from Davina Peace for the vastly-reduced price of £18 with free delivery – I’m rushing over there myself once I’ve posted this.

 

As the candles burn down the distinctive Davina Peace logo shines through the ceramic candle pot, which can be used as a tealight holder once the candle has been used up. A lovely piece of recycleable design.

 

 

Davina Peace Spiced Punch Mini Candle

 

Thanks Davina as always for sending me your wonderful products to review. Of course I am hopelessly addicted now, especially to the Body Oil, so will be saving my pennies for more!

 

 

The search term that brings the most people to my blog (even topping “garter tights” and “Hells Angels Vienna”) is “Adolf Loos“, so I thought I better write another post on Loos, the Viennese architect and cultural critic that did his utmost to stir up hell in the decorative art and architectural scene in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Vienna, at the same time as creating some inspirational modernist designs.

 

In art and architectural history, Loos is known not just for his own practice, but also for his polemical writings, above all his essay (originally a public speech) ‘Ornament and Crime’, in which he equates the continuing Viennese love of ornament with degeneracy, and denounces the state that supports such backwardness.

 

In ‘Ornament and Crime’, Loos references members of the Vienna Secession directly by name (Josef Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann) or through their works (Koloman Moser: ‘Miraculous Draft of Fishes’ and ‘The Enchanted Princess’) as examples of the worst perpetrators of superfluous ornament. Of course, Loos was being deliberately antagonistic, as he negotiated a space for himself and his practice in the highly competitive cultural scene of Vienna 1900.

 

I had read ‘Ornament and Crime’ many times, but it was not until I saw Moser’s ‘The Enchanted Princesses’ in the flesh, as it were, that I really ‘got it’:

 

Koloman Moser, Die Verwunschenen Prinzessinnen (The Enchanted Princesses), 1900

as above, both photographs taken by me at the Koloman Moser exhibition, Leopold Museum, Vienna, 2007

 

Here is how the auction house Christies described the corner cabinet, ‘The Enchanted Princesses’, when it came up for auction in 2002:

Triangular section, the two doors applied with six carved opaque green glass teardrops and centred by an elaborate circular lockplate with repoussé decoration of a stylised fish in nickel plated copper, with a carved frieze of stylised water lily pads in waves above and below, the reverse of each door and inner central panel with a marquetry design of an attenuated crowned princess with long flowing hair amidst inlaid alpaca circles, the ebonised interior fitted for shelves, the whole set on three gently tapering legs with alpaca sabots.

 

No wonder Loos didn’t like it! I think it might have been the green glass teardrops on the outer doors that really sent him off on one, to pen my favourite passage in the whole essay:

‘For me, and with me for all people of culture, ornament is not a source of increased pleasure in life. When I want to eat a piece of gingerbread, I choose a piece that is plain, not a piece shaped like a heart, or a baby, or a cavalryman, covered over and over in decoration. … No, my dear Professor of Applied Arts, I am not mortifying the flesh at all. I find the gingerbread tastes better like that.’

 

Here is an example of Loos’s own furniture, a chair he designed for his Cafe Museum of 1898 and produced by Thonet:

 

Chair designed by Adolf Loos for the Cafe Museum, Vienna, 1898, Produced by Thonet (reproduction, photograph http://www.architonic.com)

 

This classic bentwood chair is Loos’s furniture equivalent of the plain gingerbread, and it is still being produced and reproduced today, whereas you don’t see many (if any?) reproductions of ‘The Enchanted Princesses’ about. Which is one of the reasons I have a deep respect for Loos, and I can’t wait to visit his 1930 masterpiece of modernist design, the Villa Müller, when I visit Prague next month. I may even have a piece of plain gingerbread in his honour when I am there.

 


I am a frequent visitor to the online store of Luna & Curious, but sadly have never been to their Brick Lane boutique, which is soon to be no more as Luna & Curious move to bigger, brighter premises on Calvert Avenue.

 

I first discovered Luna & Curious when I was looking for suppliers of Les Queues de Sardines hosiery, and then was enchanted by the range of eclectic and beautifully-designed products they stock, all chosen with an eye for fine craftsmanship and beauty. Their top sellers are their false paper eyelashes, inspired by the Chinese art of paper-cutting. I adore the Deer and Butterfly design, and am just waiting for the right occasion to don a pair!

 

Deer & Butterfly Lashes, photograph Luna & Curious

 

There is to be a grand opening of the new Luna & Curious shop on 5 February, which sounds very exciting, and all are invited.

 

 

It all kicks off at 1pm on 5 February with at the old premises at 198 Brick Lane, where a marching band will lead the procession up Brick Lane, along Redchurch Street, to the bandstand at Arnold Circus and then to the new shop at 24-26 Calvert Avenue. You are encouraged to bring your musical instruments, whether a trumpet or wooden spoon and saucepan lids, and join in. Sounds fun!

 

The new shop will continue to sell its old favourites, alongside exciting new designers such as  Jennie Sharman Cox (jewellery), the Miniature Knit Shop (handknitted baby clothes), and Finch (stuffed animals).

 

Beaded Skull Necklace by Jennie Sharman Cox (photograph Jennie Sharman Cox)

 

Luna & Curious also offers a space available for hire as a gallery or retail space, curated by the three founders, Rheanna Lingham, (jeweller),  Polly George and Kaoru Parry (ceramic designers).

 

I will definitely be visiting the next time I am in London, but if you are lucky enough to be there for  the grand opening party on the fifth, do bang loud on that drum for me!

 

 

Before you think I’ve lost the plot, don’t worry, I am not having a rant, but reviewing a rant: Janet Street Porter’s book, Don’t Let The B*****ds Get You Down, published by Quadrille, who kindly sent me a review copy.

 

 

I laughed out loud many times reading this book. Janet Street Porter’s writing is very much the same as her speaking – long sentences with no let up – there were times when I thought ‘ok, I get it’ only to turn the page and find the same thread continuing ‘Grumpy Old Women‘ style for another few pages.

 

The publishers have come up with a clever way of dealing with this barrage of prose – by varying the typeface and adding lots of illustrations. But don’t be fooled, this really is one long non-stop rant against the nanny state and the army of ‘so-called experts’ telling us how to live our lives.

 

 

Like all good rants, it begins with a ‘Manifesto’, where Janet SP clearly (in six pages) lays out what her problem is: she is fed up of living in a climate of fear, and thinks we should just ‘sod everyone else‘ and take charge of our own lives. The rest of the book goes on to cut through the ‘mumbo jumbo‘ and come up with a set of no-nonsense ways in which we can deal with modern living in these recessionistic times.

 

Some of SP’s suggestions are that we should grow our own vegetables, declutter our houses, cancel gym memberships, have card evenings at home instead of going out. Ironically, ideas very similar to the ‘frugalistas‘ she so despises. She suggests, for example:

Pots of preserves, packed in an old cardboard box you’ve recovered with wrapping paper, make perfect presents.’

But where SP differs is that she tells us she makes her preserves in a £12 pot from her local hardware shop rather than a £39 preserving pan from Lakeland Plastics.

 

The buyers of £39 preserving pans are top of SP’s list to attack – those ‘playing at being poor‘, the ‘faux-poor.’ I love SP’s irreverance and name-dropping, and even when not not naming directly, the targets of her jibes are not hard to identify – for example, the ‘nouveau posh’ of the 1990s, the pop stars etc., who ‘invaded the countryside and bought big houses, then started playing at being farmers, keeping horses, designer chickens and ducks. They made their own cheese, sold their own jam, and even created their own rare breed sausages.’ [and wrote for British newspapers?]

 

 

The attacks on named posh frugalistas* are even better, and had me chuckling to myself, above all SP’s diatribe against a certain ‘wealthy eco-cook‘, the wife of an environmental campaigner and heir to a fortune (I’m naming no names, I don’t have SP’s lawyers!) who writes about putting the lid on a pan to save energy, then elsewhere in print ‘waxes lyrical about the cottage pie from the most fashionable (and expensive) butcher in West London.’ SP’s response, printed in big bold font in the book: ‘IF SHE’S SO BLOODY GREEN, HOW COME THIS SILLY COW ISN’T MAKING HER OWN COTTAGE PIE? IT’S DEAD EASY.’

 

 

All in all, Don’t Let The B*****ds Let You Down is a fun and entertaining read with some sensible tips and advice, including a directory at the back of useful addresses and further reading. At times SP did come across a little bit too much of a grumpy old woman for my liking, and maybe a bit lonely, especially when writing about the bonuses of growing your own vegetables:

A carrot doesn’t answer back. A lettuce you’ve grown is sweeter than a kiss. Potatoes you’ve just dug are better than a date with Mr 40%. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Maybe she was just being tongue in cheek. And maybe I am too greedy – I do like a good home-grown lettuce, but I’ll have the kiss as well thank you very much!

 

Don’t Let The B*****ds Get You Down is published by Quadrille, RRP £7.99

 

*(and for the record, no family money and no rich husband here – frugalista and proud!)