Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Dudes, my blog has moved house. Also, I'm knocked up.

How adorable is this ultrasound? 

Now, please bookmark this. www.gemmaburgess.com/blog - I moved about six months ago but have realized a lot of people are still coming here. So come on over to the real blog, my loves...


Thursday, 7 March 2013

On... Antigua

We’re almost at the end of a lil two-week break in Antigua. I wasn’t going to say too much about it because firstly, we weren’t totally sure we’d be able to go because of worky stuff, and secondly, who the heck wants to hear about someone else’s blissful sunshiney beachtime if you’re not there with them? I don't. I suffer from severe vacation envy. (I know. I'm really not very emotionally mature.)

But then Fox and Errol and I were on the beach at dusk the other night, and it was so beautiful I wanted to share it with you guys.

Dance and point
last photo
We point, and dance, and stare, and swim, then point and dance and stare some more... And then he naps and we read. Best book of the holiday so far: The Paris Wife by Paula McLean. Best read in tandem with A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Beautiful and heartbreaking. 
Fox Errol Antigua
PS Fox and Errol.
PPS This is my last post on blogger, so please oh do please visit gemmaburgess.com/blog from now on. xx

Sunday, 17 February 2013

On... Pinterest

I wasn't sure if I liked Pinterest at first. 

It seemed to be a lot of girls screaming 'I LIKE STRIPES'. And I really do like stripes. 

But then I started making boards, and following people like Joanna Goddard and Samantha Hahn and Le Fashion and Anna Hoffman, people with immaculate taste who know what I'll like before I do, and realised that hey, Pinterest is interesting and effortless and fun and stimulating! I LOVE Pinterest! I know, I'm late to the Pinning party. I was late to the Twitter party. I was late to the blogging party. I left the Facebook party years ago. I guess I'm just not great at.... timing. (BOOM!)

Back to the point: the lovely people at St Martins Press suggested I create special boards about my upcoming book series BROOKLYN GIRLS on Pinterest. (First in the series out July 2013! With Quercus in the UK! Random House in Germany! Luitingh-Sijthoff in the Netherlands! Wydawnictwo PASCAL in Poland!) 

But something about making a book- or character-'themed' board doesn't feel right. I might do it for someone else's books, you know, like a board that makes me think of Anne Of Green Gables, or something - but not for my own. 

So here's my little experiment. I selected a couple of quotes from the first book in the upcoming BROOKLYN GIRLS series. I've styled them up in two different themes, just to see which is more popular, and maybe if people like them and think they're funny / interesting they'll repin them, and maybe they'll reach new audiences who might like the cut of my jib and decide to read the books. If they don't repin, hey, c'est la oh well, as they say. What do you think, lovely people? Would you repin?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

On.... The Lumineers

This is the song that Fox and I have been playing every morning during breakfast for the past few weeks. Errol dances - well, he rocks from side-to-side and wriggles his shoulders - and Fox and I sing along and I get the words wrong but like, totally on purpose.

Then I heard it in a cafe the other day, and I thought 'that's our song!'

Not Fox and my song (which is this), but our family song. Errol and Fox and moi. It also makes me think of all my best friends, and everyone I love, in a sort of mildly nostalgic mental 'best of' montage. It's just a nice ol' hug of a song.

So anyway, press play and make your own mental 'best of' montage. Mwah. x

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sunday, 27 January 2013

On... win a free print!

My lovely lovely friend Lydia is running a competition on her blog for a free framed print from Art.co.uk - all you have to do is leave a comment on her blog with a link to the print that you want, and BOOM. It will be yours. (Probably. You know, if you win.)

Just click here to enter and check out the amazing prints at Art.co.uk 

Good luck...

PS I can't enter as I don't live in the UK, but if I could, I'd choose this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.
Or this.

Friday, 18 January 2013

On... Right This Second

So, right this second I am lying on our bed, which makes me feel lazy but it's so lovely and relaxing I don't care. It's freezing in New York today, and the sun is shining and the sky is bright blue, so I've opened the doors to the balcony to give me some fresh air while I write. (Actually, it's just a fire escape that is no longer a 'working' fire escape, but you can walk out onto it, so fuck it, let's call it a balcony.) 

Yesterday I finished the copyedits to the second book in the BROOKLYN GIRLS series (the first is out this July! The second by Christmas!). For the next few weeks, I'll be tinkering with two other projects - one publishing, one TV. 

Our lovely nanny isn't working today today, so Errol and I hung out all morning and went to the big playground in Tribeca and then played with his toys and sang and danced along to this. Right now he's napping, so I'll do the aforementioned project-tinkering as soon as I finish this blog, and later on we'll go to storytime at McNally Jackson. Errol is 16 months old, and will probably have at least one tantrum this afternoon, usually due to something like me not letting him suck the toothpaste straight from the tube. (I am such a bitch like that.) Errol's tantrums are so hilarious and adorable that I just crack up and take videos to send to my parents. This is probably the wrong reaction.

What else can I tell you, hmm, let's see.... 

This weekend I'm also finally, seriously now, no more fucking around, getting involved with Pinterest. I'm feeling mildly smug about the fact that I escaped a hangover despite some extremely strong drinks last night - date night with Fox, and yeah, I say 'date night' without irony - at The Bourgeois Pig, Empellon Cocina and the bar next to Momofuku Ssam. We're planning a night in tonight, we're going to order from Westville and eat this chocolate and watch this show, which is insanely funny. And then I'll get into bed and read The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz, which is also insanely funny. 

And that's about it. What about you? 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

On... BROOKLYN GIRLS the cover!

Hello kittens

This is the final cover for the first book in the BROOKLYN GIRLS series!

It's the same image that we've been toying with for a while. We loved the energy and composition of the image, but it was a little squeaky clean in its original format. So for the past six weeks, the brilliant cover people at St Martins Press have been playing with different filters and looks to 'rough' it up a little bit. We played with textures, shadows, blocks, frames, fonts, tints... You name it, we tried it. And this is the final choice. 

Isn't it awesome?! I absolutely love it. No lame cartoons and script fonts! No mushy hearts and stars! No fluffy pastels! Just cool girls in a big city with a sunny-yet-slightly-dirty edge. That's the kind of book I would pick up. When I look at it, I'm so happy, I feel like I'm shining a little bit. 

Anyway. What do you think? I hope you like it... 

PS It's out in July! You can pre-order on Amazon or Book Depository for free international delivery!  And to everyone who requested an ARC about a year ago when we hadn't yet decided to delay release (so we could release the SECOND book in the series just a few months later!) - I have your details, my friends. I'll be in touch. x

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

On... good bad songs

I have a long history of loving good bad songs. I'm not ashamed of it. I truly do love them. I learn all the lyrics. I put them to the top of my iPod playlists. I have special dancemoves for them that involve a lot of miming and shimmying and frowning-head-bobbing. 

The other day I began singing this song, and all I can remember is that it’s from about 2002, the guy’s name is Lemar, and I think he won some kind of talent show like Pop Idol. Fuck, I loved this song. This song is SO forgotten that there doesn't even seem to be a YouTube video for it. 



Note the extremely short use of a voice equalizer on ONE WORD. Wow, that is some cheap-ass production values right there. 


 I loved this song too. I actually loved the entire album.

Loving Paris Hilton songs means having conversations like this with Chris, my lovely then-art director who is truly into music and used to be in a band and everything: 

Me:    This is the best song. 

Chris: No, it’s really not. 

Me:    Paris Hilton is really talented. 

Chris: No, she isn't. 

Me:    Watch, I can do a Paris face. Don’t I look like Paris when   I do this face?

Chris: No, you don’t. 

(Chris and I found common ground with early 80s new wave music, and this was our Friday song, but it is a really genuinely good song and thus has no place in this post.) 

Loving Paris Hilton songs also means bobbing around the DJ box using a bendy straw as a Madonna microphone and trying to get the Djs attention to ask: 

Me: Hey, will you please please play Paris Hilton’s Stars Are Blind?

DJ: (incredulous pause) No. 

Me: (shouting) WHY NOT? 


Yeah. That’s right. I mean Abz from 5ive. Stop laughing! This is a great fucking song. I listened to it a lot when doing my early-20s elliptical trainer workouts. God, those workouts were boring. And pointless. Back to the point: turn it up and dorkdance your heart out. 

Thursday, 27 December 2012

On... Right This Second

What are you doing right this second?

Right this second I am on the sofa, half-watching a Saturday Night Live marathon and half-writing a synopsis for a new project I’ve been thinking about for a while. The baby is asleep and Fox is back in Ireland for a fly-by family visit. He’s back in New York this weekend, and we am planning a couple of dinners out. I want to go here. And here.

I am contemplating eating some toast with Nutella, but it probably won’t happen, partly because I ate my way through Christmas Day like a heartbroken cheerleader and should really step the fuck away from the carbs, and mostly because I am too damn lazy to get up and make it for myself. What else? During the commercial break just now, an ad came on for a tweeny brand of shoes called ‘Daddy’s Money’. I thought was an SNL sketch as it’s so bad. It’s not. It’s a real thing. What the fuck? It reminds me of the time my friend Sarah and I made up pretend perfume names and straplines. Like ‘Patriarchy. Daddy knows best!’  and ‘Solipsism. It’s all about you.’ 

Tomorrow I am having a seriously overdue PG (Personal Grooming) afternoon. I’m going here. You can figure out why. And here to get highlights. I like to pretend that getting my hair done really doesn’t impact my writing schedule, as I always take my laptop with me and taptaptap away. But I don’t think I can writing during a Brazilian. I am only human.

And that’s the end of my blog. I am doing Right This Second blogs regularly from now on, as it’s so more satisfying (I hope) than my usual crappy Think Of A Theme And Take Three Weeks To Write And Edit A Blog About It. And if you like it, please share your Right This Second stories in the comments. 

Monday, 24 December 2012

On... Merry Christmas

Little Errol is sick with a cough for the first time in his 16 months of life, and as a result is very cuddly and quiet. 

This is us on the sofa this afternoon watching In The Night Garden on YouTube. We had planned to take him to Central Park - but really, cuddling was way better. 

(By the way, In The Night Garden is the lamest baby show in the history of lame baby shows.  My kingdom for a baby show that doesn't suck.) 

Now Errol is in bed, and Fox and I are giftwrapping with red wine and It's A Wonderful Life. We lost the wrapping tape somewhere and so now we are wrapping with thick brown duct tape, and we just realised we also forgot gifttags so tomorrow we're going to have to guess what belongs to who. (Whom.) (Who.) (Whatever.) 

Hic. Merry Christmas everyone. x

Friday, 21 December 2012

On... last minute stocking fillers

Feeling bossy? Think your bestfriend/boyfriend/husband/parents/Santa need a little extra last minute shopping help this weekend? Then just forward them this.

I read A Total Waste Of Makeup, by Kim Grunenfelder, earlier this year, and laughed out loud – and I am a brittle ol’bitch, so that’s pretty rare. And now I’m reading the sequel and loving it –and laughing - even more. This book will get you through that interminable stretch between Boxing Day and New Years Eve.

I am a longterm Baies fan, but in the middle of winter, the rose-blackcurrant sweetness of Baies is too thin and frivolous. When it’s miserable outside, I want something comforting and earthy and foresty. Mousse is meant to smell like the moss that grows on trees in forests. Obviously, I haven’t got a fucking clue what that smells like. But this is lovely. And Diptyque candles are the perfect gift, as they're the wrong side of extravagant for one to buy for oneself.  

The most extraordinarily perfect-for-winter dark red lipstick ever invented. I know, you think you can’t wear red lipstick, but trust me, you can. I won't bore you with the marketing blurb, but it goes on like a gloss, seals like a lipstick, and lasts through three cocktails, tuna tartare and a steak, medium rare. If you want a lip pencil to go with it, the best I’ve found is MAC Brick. Makes you feel like Veronica Lake or [insert Old Hollywood film noir star of choice].

Smitten Kitchen recipe book

This woman can do no wrong. Her blondie recipe is impossible for even me to fuck up, her banana bread is moist and sweet even if you're a Nazi mother like me and cut the sugar down to almost nothing, and the gingerbread men – okay, gingerbread penises, it's a Gemma Burgess tradition – that I made last week are so chewy and spicy and sweet and good that I’m going to make some more for Christmas Day. Plus, she seems funny, kind, cool and normal.







Thursday, 20 December 2012

On... faking photogenia

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article for the utterly divine magazine TATLER about the art of being photogenic, or 'faking photogenia' as I called it to myself (nb, 'photogenia' is not a word). I found out how non-slebs like you and me can take a great photo, do a great pose, and generally, be the sexiest thing on celluloid. (Is it still celluloid? Probably not. Sexiest thing... on a digital screen. On Facebook. Whatever.)
Perhaps because I’m not a journalist, I just happen to write things now and again for magazines, I take this shit very seriously. I spent hours – days! - researching and testing different products that Tatler sent me from Tom Ford, Smashbox, MAC, Dior, Cover FX, Darphin, Stila, etc, and researching photography make-up secrets, grilling my make-up artist friends, searching for celebrity tips, and even asking the make-up pros that I always make friends with (uh, stalk) at MAC Pro stores and Bobbi Brown counters to give me makeovers that I’d then test under flash and natural lighting. No. I am not kidding.
But, in the end, most of the detailed make-up tips had to be cut from the feature. Tragicallah. So here they are. I figure everyone needs to know how to take a better photo, especially at Christmas when the world is full of parties, hangovers and lurking iPhones just waiting to snap you unawares and tag you in the morning.

Step one: skin.
Firstly, a warning: slapping on a thick mask of (insert name of thick pancake foundation of choice HERE) is the No.1 mistake of cameraphobes. You might think it’s giving you a more even complexion, but actually, it absorbs light, making your face look like a whitewashed bungalow: broad, opaque, uninteresting.

You want your skin to look luminous.

Think Botticelli's Venus.  Think organic non-drinking vegan yoga instructor on a juice fast. Think post-coital, you know, when the sex was really seriously good, and afterwards you go to the bathroom and look in the mirror and think, 'God, I am gorgeous, I’d bang me if I was him, too'. So put the Estee Lauder DoubleWear down, stat.
Not many of us wake up with perfect skin, at least, not if we’re leading interesting and socially-fulfilling (ie, sleepless and booze-filled) lives. But you can give yourself a head start: if you have dry skin, cut down on wine and citrus fruits, and take extra Vitamin E and Flaxseed Oil supplements. Darphin sent me a bunch of lovely stuff, particularly the Camomile Essential Oil Elixir, which leaves your skin smoothe, plump and happy, like a well-fed baby after a bath.

If you have oily or combination skin, one of my very good friends swears by her Clarisonic and good old Cetaphil. And if you’re really hungover and your face is just eating your makeup so no matter how much you put on, you still look like shit, then try the REN Glycolactic Peel followed by a nice facial massage with Trilogy Rosehip Oil. Then have a little sit-down and a coffee and a nice big wedge of buttery toast because, let’s face it, you’re probably exhausted just having read this far.

DiorHydraSkin Pore Refining Perfecting Moisturiser is AMAZING. I would never have bought it, I've never really used Dior skincare products before, but Tatler sent it to me, so I gave it a churlish try and then my make-up went on flawlessly that I almost wept. I also tried about eleventy Smashbox primer products they sent over and couldn’t get anywhere with them, and MAC Prep and Prime just seemed like a very sloppy gel moisturiser. But this HydraSkin stuff is the shit. (I am sure Dior will be just dying to use that line in their next press release. “This HydraSkin stuff is the shit.” Gemma Burgess, not-very-well-known writer who dabbles in beauty just because she can.)
Next, luminiser.

Dab a pea-sized blob of MAC Strobe Cream (best for beginners and the tube never runs out), Make Up For Ever Gel Uplight in 12 (amazing but hard to get in the UK so order it from the wonderful and not-dodgy-though-it-looks-it StrawberryNet), Benefit SunBeam (small bottle, very very annoying design as you have to use a q-tip to get the last third out), or Shu Uemura Stage Performer Instant Glow (divine, thick, long-lasting,) in the middle of your palm. Using your index finger, smear your product of choice on your face from the outside top of your eyebrows, down around your temples, in over the top of your cheekbones towards – but not touching – your nose. Do you taste my flavour? Sort of a ‘?’ shape. (Or reverse ‘?’) Then blend, blend, and blend some more. (When I write this stuff, I can hear my make-up artist friend's voice in my head, and she's Scottish. So I am writing with a slight accent. She was visiting NYC last week and we had a discussion about how to say 'our', which I say normlly (I think), and she says 'ooo-wer' and Fox, being Irish, says 'ARGH'. Anyway, back to makeup.)
The right luminiser makes you – duh - luminous, not sparkly, sweaty, shiny or sheeny. There are so many new and wonderful luminisers to choose from now, so don’t just slap on that chunky glittery one you bought for a New Years Eve party four years ago because you will come out looking like you work at Cirque de fucking Soleil. Those are my favourites, you may prefer others. Oh, and a heads-up: I was sent Burberry Fresh Glow and RMS Living Luminizer to try, they are both raved about by all these make-up blogs who are probably hoping to get more free stuff, but I found them both crappy: thin and quick to wear off. (I will never lie to you about make-up, kittenpants.)

Next, apply a light coverage foundation like Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation or Giorgio Armani LuminousSilk to your ruddiest areas. For most of us, that’s the chin and around the nose. With a tiny lipbrush, dab RMS “Un” Cover-Up or Laura Mercier Undercover Pot over any pimples, dark spots or tiny broken blood vessels.  By using very little foundation, and targeting everything on a blotch-by-blotch basis, your skin will look flawless, not fake.
Lastly, lightly dust a translucent powder like MAC Blot Powder or MAC Prep and Prime Transparent Finishing Powder on the parts of your face you dont want to be too glowy / shiny - nose, forehead, chin - for a genuinely flawless airbrushed-yet-natural finish. Here, another heads-up: I was sent Smashbox Photoset Finishing Powder, I found it very white and unnatural. There's also a Make Up Forever HD Finishing Powder that has the result of making you look like this in photos.
Avoid. Who developed that powder? They look like they've been troughing cocaine, FFS.
(An aside: if you’re absolutely convinced that you NEED a full face of thick foundation, then nothing I say will stop you, I swear some people are psychologically addicted to the shit, but who am I to talk? I don’t leave the house without eyebrows. So when you’ve finished trowelling it on, please fluff a little compact powder luminizer – like MAC Soft & Gentle, or BECCA Nymph in the aforementioned ‘?’ shape. The result won’t be as gleamingly perfect, but it’s better than no luminiser at all.)

OKAY! Your skin is now perfection.
Step two: contouring. I say ‘contouring’, you say ‘aging third-rate drag queen’. Or ‘Boy George’. But no! We’re not reinventing your face, we’ll simply be accentuating your already divine bone structure in three key areas: cheekbones, forehead, jawline. Hurrah!
Look at yourself straight-on in the mirror, preferably under a horrifyingly strong overhead light, and suck in your cheeks. Take a moment to pretend you are Marlene Dietrich. Take another moment to wonder why you have never actually seen a Marlene Dietrich movie, because you probably should, and while you’re at it, a Greta Garbo movie too, seriously, because that’s like, a grown-up thing to do.

The MAC 138 brush is the absolute best brush for contouring and the 'official' contouring brush from MAC does not come close; the shape of the 138 makes it literally impossible to apply too much product and it blends as it applies. Swirl the brush in a soft grey-brown-matte shade (with no orange, red or shimmer) like MAC Harmony or Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder or, if you’re very pale like moi, the Urban Decay single eyeshadow in Naked, and apply in small, light strokes from the sucked-in hollow of your cheeks up towards the middle of your ear. Remember, you’re accentuating a shadow, so it goes under your cheekbones, not on them. Then sweep the brush up the side of your forehead above your temples, then from behind your ear to your chin along the underside of your jawline, blending down into your neck.

Contouring isn’t hard, but it will make you look draggy if you’re not very careful, and it is a skill you need to practice to perfect. Keep checking with multiple mirrors in different lights, and blend with extra translucent powder if you feel you’ve gone too far. Feeling contour-confident? Check out the Tom Ford Shade &Illuminate palette. It’s a cream, not a powder, and takes a little more skill to apply and blend, but it’s the Dom Perignon of contouring and illuminating products. Once you’ve tried it, everything else is stale cava.
The rest of your make-up should be subtle, not dramatic, so the camera sees you, not your maquillage. A pinkish blush like Bobbi Brown Pale Pink, a neutral lip like Chanel Avant Garde, Shu Uemura eyelash curler, lashings of Dior ShowLash mascara. For bigger, brighter eyes, replace undereyeliner with a smudgy swoosh of taupe eyeshadow, and smudge a baby-fingerprint of thick gleaming cream product like MAC Pearl Cream Base or NARS The Multiple in Copacabana on the inside corner of your eye, just below and above the arch of your eyebrow, and just above your top lip. I don’t know why this makes you look better, it just does.

Warning: watch the too-thin or too-dark or too-arched eyebrow, the too-heavy liquid liner, and most of all, step away from the YSL Touche Eclat. It’s a highly reflective highlighter pen, not an undereye concealer. In photographs it grabs all the light, giving you a weird reverse-panda look, completely with tiny beady panda eyes. Trust me on that.

Voila. Everything I learned about faking photogenia, in one epic post. Now throw on some make-up, get out there and take some fabulous photos, you little scamps. If you want to read more tips about the perfect pose, and the science behind what makes someone photogenic, then (gratuitous plug) pick up Tatler in March.
Oh, and by the way. Google automatically gives me the US links now that I'm living here, but obviously you might live in the UK or Australia or India or Germany or Austria or you know, anywhere. So here are some links to sites that deliver LOTS of makeup brands for free internationally: www.feelunique.com, www.strawberrynet.com, www.lookfantastic.com. Strawberrynet will even wrap the products as gifts, so if you live in one of those annoying countries that taxes you for international deliveries, you can claim it was a gift. Nicely played, Strawberrynet.