Monday, 24 October 2011

Movie Monday: McNally Family Halloween Traditions

Next Monday is Halloween and in the McNally household there are three films that are ALWAYS played around this time and another that I am particularly fond of and so am throwing in the mix this year.  In preparation for this festive time I thought I'd give you a brief synopsis of each so you too can make sure they are adorning your DVD player on All Hallows Eve!


If you haven't seen this then you are missing out on a Disney Classic.  What better way to celebrate Halloween than with the Sanderson sisters, that's Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah-Jessica Parker).  In 1693, Salem, Massachusetts, three evil witches are preparing to suck the lives out of children to ensure their youth and allow them to live forever.  Although they manage to take the life of young Emily and turn her older brother Thackory Binx into a black cat that shall live forever, they are caught and hung.  The villagers of Salem weren't quick enough though and the Sanderson sisters managed to make one last plea to their master, the devil and place a curse on the house, promising to return when a virgin lights the black flame candle on All Hallows Eve.  1993 Max does just that and of course all hell breaks loose coupled with a fair few laughs over the sister's interpretations of modern day life.


Albeit it's really the music that makes you jump more than anything, we've been playing this movie every Halloween since I don't even know when.  Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) starts to see and feel some odd goings-on in her New England home after taking her daughter off to University.  Shrugging the bizarre activity off as an over active imagination and far too much time on her hands the scary happenings become more frequent and disturbing.  Husband, Norman (Harrison Ford) tries to put her mind at ease but Claire continues to delve into all sorts of possible answers and as she begins to unravel the story of her distressing past a year ago, a past she had since forgotten due to a traumatic accident, everything suddenly becomes clear.


One of my favourite movies ever, from the music to the backdrop of the very eccentric New England home.  The Owen's women have a curse placed on the men they fall in love with by ancestor Maria, who was accused of witchcraft in the 1600's.  Whilst Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gilly (Nicole Kidman) battle with the opinions of others and their judgement over their witchy history, a sticky jam arises with an abusive boyfriend that leaves all the Owen's women in a bit of a bind.  Spellbinding story!


Adapted from the Arthur Miller play based on the famous 1692 Salem Witch Trials, I hold a soft spot for this due to playing Elizabeth Proctor in the school play some years ago now.  It documents the hysteria surrounding the trials and enforced by the children who began to accuse,whilst introducing Salem villagers whom were actually killed or accused at the time.  It touches on storylines however that are thought to be inaccurate and created purely for entertainment purposes.  Abigail (Winona Ryder) begins to accuse fellow town folk of Salem of witchcraft after being caught dancing naked in the woods with other young girls of Salem.  The lies spiral out of control and the girls are all mesmerised by Abigail and her accusations, part excited by the concept of being in control of the village and part fearful that they would be accused next if they rebelled.  Amongst the accused is both John (Daniel Day Lewis) and Elizabeth Proctor who were Abigail's former employers and John her ex-lover.

*Image taken from

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Stove on Sunday on Wednesday: An Italian Kitchen

Do you know that the last time I did a Stove on Sunday post was the 28th of August.  That's a month and a half ago!  What have I been doing on Sundays, or the rest of the week for that matter, that has prevented me from posting a damn food post on the correct day.  Due to said lack of Stove on Sunday posts I have become a tad precious about it..."I can't possibly post about food any other day, it has to be sunday!  I can't post about wintry treats until I have written my Italian food posts yet either..." and so I've done nothing about either one.  Well I need to nip that in the bud immediately, as it's mid October, Halloween is looming upon us and I have loads of autumnal bakes and wintry soups (not sure I do have a soup to write about but I panicked and needed a winter food) and lord knows what else to blog abut for sure.  So here it is, on Wednesday, The Stove on Sunday: An Italian Kitchen.

Whilst visiting Tuscany in August ,we dined out in some rather yummy and reasonable restaurants, as well as creating some delicious Italian themed treats back at our apartment.  Both nights we dined in, we dined out in the garden.  I dressed the area to allow for a twinkling retreat for our evening meal.

For our first meal, myself and my sisters organised the menu.  We began with bruschetta which was warmed on the barbecue.  For this I sliced ciabbatta bread whilst my sister softened red peepers in a pan.  Using handmade pesto I spooned enough to lather the top of each piece of bread with it.  Placing the peppers on top of the pesto and tearing a piece of buffalo mozzarella for each, we placed them on the barbecue long enough for the mozzarella to begin to melt.  Such easy preparation but makes for a great starter!

As the main meal we recreated a dish we'd had in a restaurant in Tuscany a few years back.  Again, very simple, steak placed on rocket leaves with shards of parmesan cheese on top.  No pictures I'm afraid but you can take my word for it, it's good.

The real wow factor dish of the week though was my mothers stuffed courgette flowers.  Courgette flowers are not readily available in the UK and some of you potentially are gasping at the thought of them.  I guess you may be able to get them from a specialist food store but I've never seen them anywhere.  If you do ever come across them, here is what they look like...

Quite an Italian speciality, my mum recalled a recipe she had seen quite some time back for them and decided to attempt it.

You Will Need...
Courgette Flowers
Ricotta Cheese
1 Lemon
Sparkling Water
Olive Oil

How To...

1.  The courgette flowers were prepared but my mother still used a paper towel to wipe the insides.  If they are not prepared you may want to google what should and shouldn't be left in.

2.  Mix the ricotta with lemon zest and and salt and pepper to season.

3.   Fill each flower with the ricotta mixture.

4.  Create a batter with the flour and sparkling water.  We actually had to use beer because we picked up the wrong water but it worked just as well, hey it may have even been yummier!

5.  Place each stuffed courgette flower in the batter to cover and then place them in a frying pan half filled with extra virgin olive oil.  You could deep fry them but we decided to shallow fry them instead, although there was a little more oil than normal to ensure it cooked all the batter.

They should come out looking something like this...

If you do come across them then I really recommend using them for a dinner party.  They're so extraordinary and unusual that I think everyone would be mighty impressed at the effort.  I was a little disappointed with the flavour but I doubt that's nothing a little more seasoning couldn't rectify.  They were a great combination of textures too, crunchy on the outside only for it to ooze with creamy warm soft ricotta on the inside. I also think a nice dip accompaniment could add another dimension to the delicacy.

We served them with a tomato and pesto salad, Tuscan sausages and pasta with a meat sauce.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Movie Monday: Because I said so...

Diane Keaton, mother of three beautiful daughters spends all her waking and many sleeping hours trying to control her daughters lives.  Who they date and marry, what jobs they have, how she thinks they should live their lives.  Her biggest worry is her youngest, played by Mandy Moore, who is constantly falling for the wrong guy and seems to have no desire to rush into marriage.  Why does Diane think she is the founder of all knowledge?  Because she says so!

Firstly lets address the fact that any film containing Diane Keaton and Lauren Graham is going to be a thumbs up in my book.  Diane, even though quite type cast, these days anyway, is simply a screen goddess.  When I'm a more mature woman, read 60+, I want to be rocking out the grey streak at the front of my hair, as seen in the Family Stone and the huge skirts she's sporting in this movie.  We'll call it modern chic.

That being said, I recall the reviews of this film, upon it's release into the cinema, not being particularly flattering.  No wonder.  Despite my not so secret love for Diane and Lauren, the film failed to be a hit with me, even just to pass the time.  If I'm honest it was annoying.  Odd word to describe a movie right?  Well imagine an entire scene being devoted to a ringing phone.  An unanswered phone in my world is like nails down a blackboard.  It got to the point that my entire family wanted to jump through the screen and answer it for them.  Diane was also do I put it...aggravating.  Although, she was meant to be frustrating, so I suppose she did her job BUT she was so frustrating to the point, that again my entire family wanted to break through the screen to throttle her.

Where Because I said so did get it right was with the overall concept of the film.  I dare any of you not to watch it and agree that Diane is a more famous apparition of your own mother.  Her similarities to my busy body mother were uncanny.  Today in fact she, my mum not Diane Keaton, told me, AGAIN, that internet dating was no longer frowned upon and it might be nice for me to find and I quote "a friend".  If you watch this movie you'll understand why this is so poignant.  My father's opinion and believe me he's been forced to watch a fair few chick flicks in his time he's practically a connoisseur, "You've put this on to annoy me haven't you?  It's like watching our lives."

Tune In...
For cutie Gabriel Macht

Cute right?!

Tune Out...
If you live in a house full of women and you are a man

Perfect For...
Watching on your own.  Don't ever watch this with your mother.  If she hasn't already come up with a similarly heinous plan to get you a man like Diane yet, she will do after this.

Here's the trailer...

*Images taken from

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Daytime Disco

The boots were a bargain.  Purchased at a thrift store in Bridgewater, Massacusetts for $8.  I then discovered on getting back to my dorm that they were Salvatore Ferragamo.  

Monday, 10 October 2011

Movie Monday: Bubbles

I can't quite recall how I first came across Bubbles but I know that it was on twitter.  I saw the trailer and was simply captivated.  It incorporated all the things I adore; melancholy music, a picturesque setting and emotional angst seeping from every shot.

A week ago I was lucky enough to see the short in it's entirety at a special screening session that Writer and Director, Leyla Pope, organised at the Soho Screening Rooms.  It was everything the trailer promised to be and such a feat considering she only had 15-20 minutes to tell the story.  My favourite contribution to the piece is the choice of music and where it is placed within.  Music is so evocative and teamed with the talented actors involved and the storyline, it really managed to capture some beautiful moments.  

Small, independent British films don't really get much credit or make it to the big time-it's a tough industry out there-but I can assure you that every single member of the audience a week ago was yearning for Bubbles to be a full length film, as the credits rolled.  So I beg of you, watch this trailer and try and tell me you haven't fallen in love with Bubbles too.  Then head on over to their twitter and facebook pages to show your support.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Tempting Textures at Zara

There is nothing more exciting to me than out-of-this-world-crazy textures in clothing.  What better way to style an outfit than with a simple basic t-shirt material teamed with an indulgent, luxurious, rich material.  I am drawn to wool, pleather, pvc, feathers, tulle...the list is never ending.

On my recent trip to preview the A/W'11 Brora collection, I detoured into Zara for some harmless flirtation with some of their up and coming season items.  The pieces I was drawn to had the ability to make anybody feel like they were playing dress-up.  They were extraordinarily out of the ordinary and whimsically stylish and I loved them all.

Here's some key Zara pieces I'm coveting, hopefully coming to an outfit blog post near you soon!

This feather gilet £79.99, comes in some rather dramatic colours, this shade may be more versatile but the show stopping blue and purple versions were what really did it for me!

This Chanel-esque tweed skirt, £39.99, is perfect for the office.  

BAM!  Just look at the richness of this feather skirt, £79.99, both in texture and colour.  This literally has me salivating.

Everytime I pass this sequin clutch, £29.99 my hands wander.  The quality of sequins is super important to me.  I can't stand those flimsy, cheap looking things.  I'm happy to announce this is made of, what I consider, "good sequins".

*Images taken from
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