This time last week, I was enjoying a great masterclass, held by the owner of Elizabeth D Bakes, hosted by the Piccadilly branch of Whole Foods Market. Elizabeth demonstrated no less than 3 different recipes – pistachio brownie, carrot cake and lime tart.
My absolute favourite was the carrot cake, with it’s wonderful spicy mix and delicious carrots. The lime icing really brought out the flavour of the gluten-free cake, much better in my opinion than the traditional cream cheese frosting, and for far less calories.
The brownie while delicious, was my less favourite of the trio, partly because as much as I would love to, I still can’t really get my head around chia seeds. To me they look too much like frog spawn when reconstituted and they don’t match the flavour and consistency of eggs.
In contrast, the lime pie was a lovely treat – delicious, moist, crumbly and full of delicious citrus flavour. It came a close second to the carrot cake, and it’s nice to know that the entire pie can be frozen at different stages, so that you will always have one ready on standby.
The masterclass was a great eye opener for me. Simply substituting just a few inexpensive ingredients can produce cakes and bakes which are just as delicious as the traditional version, if not more so. The added bonus, these recipes tend to be a whole lot healthier and less calorific, due to their free from, gluten free and/or vegan attributes.
We are all given goodie bags, which included 2 Elizabeth D Bakes banana breads. I shall review the banana bread at a later date. I will also try the recipes given at the event and report back.
One of the best masterclasses of the year so far – fun, informative and generous yummy samples provided. Eating cake for Sunday brunch can’t be beaten.
So off I went to Kensington Olympia, in fear. Financial fear. When it comes to fabrics and now increasingly knitting products, all reason temporarily escapes me and I end up with reams and reams and reams of fabrics, to add to my reams and reams and reams of fabrics in my stash, and enough wool to make each sheep in a huge flock a jumper and matching scarf! But I digress!
Tips and suggestions when you arrive
My suggestions if you attend the show – wear some comfy shoes. And for heavens sake, if you’re arriving by train, when you get out of Kensington Olympia Overground Station, turn right and follow the signs to the venue. Trust me, your legs will thank me later.
I attended 2 days, the first I went the long way round, and had to wait in a very long queue. That said, I didn’t have to wait too long, within 20 mins of arrival at the station, I was in the building. It was the first day, so I will let that slide. On the 2nd day I was in the building within 10 minutes. So please – turn right!
Is it worth buying the official show guide or bag?
The show guide is I think a rather pricy £4 and the show bag is £3, for which you get the bag and nothing else. Save yourself £7 and bring your own bags and note down any stalls, demos and exhibitions you would like to see from the website beforehand.
The demos in the Creative Living Theatre to my surprise were not as fully attended as I would have expected, a great pity as many of the high flyers of the sewing world were leading fantastic demos for free. I took full advantage of this, and strongly suggest you do to.
My favourite demos were lead by Laurie Guthrie, Chinelo Bally both former contestants of the Great British Sewing Bee and Tree Walsh from Stitchless TV. Chinelo Bally may be signing copies of her book tomorrow (Saturday) after her demo. The book costs £20 – bring cash if you would like to purchase. They don’t have debit or credit card machines at the Creative Living Theatre, the ATM is out of order at the show and the ATM in the foyer charges £1.99. But note most of the stalls I attended do accept debit and credit cards.
There is free WIFI, apparently, but I couldn’t for the life of me get connected, and sadly I was unable to report live from the event. There wasn’t an area dedicated for bloggers, which I think would have added to the excitement. It certainly would have been wonderful to meet fellow bloggers, some of whom I saw on Friday, but felt it wasn’t appropriate to introduce myself whilst they appeared to be working. (I know, I should be more forceful, I’m just too polite!)
You can purchase food and drink at the venue, and there is plenty of space to sit and enjoy your meal. I saw sandwiches sell for around the £4- £5 mark, so at London prices, not too bad. But if you can, bring a packed lunch and a flask of tea, you will save yourself a few pennies.
Bargains and Must Visit Stalls
Check out Bombay Stores – stand F2 and M Rosenberg and Son – stand L20 for bargain fabrics, Montreux Fabrics – stand D70 for Chanel type Linen Mix Tweeds. For yarns, you could do worse than visit stand 78, Neil the Knit.
The McCall Pattern Company – M2 stall sells McCall’s, Vogue and Butterick sewing patterns, and there are ‘buy 3 for £12’ deals.
Don’t forget to visit the various exhibitions, including the Textile Galleries and make sure you take plenty of breaks so that you don’t exhaust yourself.
As per usual I spent a small fortune on fabric and supplies, but I’m glad to say that I had enough change left for my bus fare home … just. I will post a haul video on my youtube channel. The prices of the products on sale suits all pockets, so you will find it difficult to leave empty handed.
I had a great time at the show, and would happily attend again. I’m looking forward to the next show in October at Ally Pally.
It’s Sunday, it’s freezing, it’s raining, I don’t feel 100%, the transport system is partly closed due to engineering works … again. Why don’t I just spend the day in bed, nice and warm, with my ready supply of cups of hot tea?
Because, I would have missed out on a golden opportunity, that being the #YouCanSitWithUsLdn. The inaugural event hosted by Kristabel Plummer of I Want You To Know at the Camden Collective, was a marvellous event where a host of social networkers, bloggers, YouTubers and Instagramers, both newbies and established, came together to talk, share ideas and network about all things primarily relating to blogging.
I managed to have a few words with Kristabel, she said that it was the first time she had ever arranged such an event. I would never have guessed. A simple concept that was extremely well executed, I left not only impressed by her natural gift as an event organiser, but also empowered. Empowered by the fellow social media dons at the event, their openness and willingness to share their knowledge. Kristabel managed to create a welcoming space for social networkers to come out of their collective shells and share their experiences with virtual strangers. All this on a limited budget (although again, you would never guess), a short time frame and help from her friends. It’s amazing how a good idea can develop into something great, positive and empowering.
At times, for me, it was a little surreal. I was suddenly chatting away to bloggers I’ve been following for years. I felt I knew so much about them, but they knew little about me. Yet they were still interested in what I had to say. Before, they had been people whom I would watch on YouTube, or I would read their adventures in some far flung place on their blogs. The curious thing I quickly realised was that every person in the room, no matter their personal journeys, had at least 3 things in common. 1) They worked hard on their respective social networks, 2) Their are all multi-talented and/or multi-gifted, and 3) They all, without exception, at some point had exactly the same fears and angst as everyone else. It didn’t matter if they had 1 follower or 1 million followers, making social networking perhaps the great societal leveller.
I know that I will have to pull my little socks up in terms of my own social network, and I was very nervous when I arrived, attending the event on my own and meeting new people that makes me a little uncomfortable. Some of these women are fierce – their knowledge is vast, and their energy levels are immense. However, I left believing that it is not only possible to achieve the goals I have set for my blog, but I can surpass them. The social network community is very friendly and I was soon made to feel at ease. Blogging offers wonderful opportunities for people who enjoy solitude, but the benefits are 10-fold when you take just a few steps outside your comfort zone.
I could have easily spent the day at home working on my blog, with my ready supply of tea. Instead I spent the day with the caring bloggers support group, surrounded by positive energy, and meeting fabulous people. I think that’s a good swap!
Hopefully, this will be the first of many events, and I for one will place the next event at the top of my agenda. This will certainly go in my end of month favourites video, and is an early strong contender for the best of 2017.
Did you attend the #YouCanStillWithUs event? What did you think? Please comment below and subscribe for more.
Continuing with my monthly resolutions series, here is a preview of what’s coming up this February on Champagne Twist.
February has been designated design month. It’s going to be an exciting mix of fashion, crafts and home decor design. What do you hope to achieve this month? Do let us know in the comments box, and please subscribe for more information.
Check out the my 2017 resolution plans video below.
I recently attended a Collaborative Store event in Marylebone, where they showcased their beautiful clothes range (which is currently on sale, so go and check them out now), as well as a beauty product, which I will post about on Monday, and a simply marvellous brand new tea range by the Niche Co.
The packaging alone is a wonderful feast for the eyes, and is made from recycled card. They are very sturdy, so can be re-used for storage after the tea has been consumed.
A premium tea collection, Niche Tea consists of unique, blended wellness teas, which takes full advantage of the medicinal properties of natural herbs, roots, petals and spices.
A brief conversation with the creator of the brand established that the tea collection was born, like most good things, out of necessity – a need to improve general health and wellbeing, and seeking an alternative to traditional black teas. Marrying the ideology of wellness with an added touch of luxury, the ingredients are ethically sourced globally, and made in the UK.
I liked that this company embraces the notion, what goes inside reflects what happens outside. Having the most expensive creams, lotions and portions will do little without the benefits gained from a healthy diet. I especially like how every aspect of this brand, from the bright environmentally friendly packaging to the ethically sourced ingredients, prove that it is possible to create high-end, high quality products, without it costing a fortune, or the Earth.
I sampled the ‘Skin’ tea, and was immediately impressed by its delicious taste. Sometimes, floral or herbal teas have a disappointing bland flavour and a strong, often synthetic aroma that bears no correlation to the actual taste of the tea. This is not the case with Niche Co. tea, the sample I tried was very drinkable, flavourful and refreshing.
For £10 you get 15 biodegradable pyramid bags. The Skin tea is described as a delicate white tea, paired with herbs and flowers thought to promote beautiful skin, including Burdock root, red clover, rose petals and rose hip.
Other teas in the collection are designed to improve hair and energy levels, promote sleep and aid digestion.
I highly recommend the Skin tea in terms of flavour, and hope soon to try the other varieties so I can report back. These teas would be ideal gifts for the tea connoisseur in your life, for people wanting a change from other herbal teas, or for those wishing to supplement their diets with a tea which may aid certain ailments. These teas are most definitely worth a try.
Some afternoons start off a little dreary with grey skies, as did last Wednesday when I made a trip to the new Village Haberdashery site. However, the grey skies were soon banished, to be replaced by a rainbow of fabrics, yarn and flowers.
The Village Haberdashery is a sewing and knitting emporium, newly situated in West Hampstead Square. A very short walking distance from West Hampstead Tube, Rail and Thameslink stations, the store is ideally situated for those who live in and around North London.
The new shopping estate where the store is located is still a bit of a building site, but it’s easy to find, and if you look suitably lost, a skill I have perfected over the years, a nice group of helpful builders are on hand to provide precise directions should you need them. After climbing a flight of stairs, or if you’re more sensible using the lift, you are greeted by a beautiful retro dressmaker’s
mannequin on the first floor, outside the shop front.
Follow the sign, where a magical wonderland awaits.
A unique, and I think better, use of a wheelbarrow. I wonder if I plant my yarn scraps in the garden, will they grow to be huge balls of wool like these ones?
After seeing this beautiful dress, I was inspired to purchase some of the fabric. Initially, I thought about making a summer skirt with it, but I’ve changed my mind and will instead make a square necked tunic, to show off the beautiful print. The tunic is part of my #2017MakeNine challenge, so please stay tuned.
Les Fleurs Rayon by Rifle Paper Co. – Birch Floral in Periwinkle
Lots of space for sewing and knitting classes, or for a good cup of tea and a natter. In the background, you can see some of the sewing machines set aside for classes.
Just look at this marvellous wall of wool. Imagine the wonderful array of knitted goodies you could make with this collection of yarn.
I have often tried to visit the old location, but it was a bit of a trek and difficult for me to get to, however the new location is more ideally situated. The new store is bright and roomy, yet jammed packed with lots of sewing, knitting and paper crafting goodies. It is quite easy to spend an entire afternoon browsing and chatting to the owner and members of staff. They are welcoming, helpful and ready to offer their expertise should you need it. A home from home. I’m already looking forward to my next visit and adding to my ever increasing stash.
Have you visited the new Village Haberdashery? What do you think? Please add your comments below.
I don’t know about you, but I am done with Winter. I’m fed up with the cold, the rain, or as the tube station announcer described the miserable drizzle as, ‘adverse weather conditions’. Hey, at least it wasn’t the usual, ‘leaves on the line’ or ‘wrong type of snow’ excuse for late running trains.
So today, I’ve turned off the TV and will keep it off, as quite frankly I can’t cope with another day of #FakePresident and his new side kick PM May. I need to recharge my batteries so that I can be more effective for the #Resistance. Who would have thought that word would be trending 70 years after World War Two. Didn’t our grandparents leave this scene already?
Yesterday, I went to West Hampstead to visit the new Village Haberdashery shop, and then onwards to the Collaborative Store in Marylebone, to test a beauty product which was featured in Vogue and a new-on-the-market tea brand. During my travels I saw no less than 4 famous people – who needs Hollywood? Sewing, knitting, people watching, beauty, clothes and tea; ingredients for a pretty good day. I arrived home exhausted, hence posting today and not yesterday. When my legs ache from a walk-about in the beautiful parts of the the city, it’s another sign of a good day, at least that’s what I’m telling my poor little legs.
I will post more about yesterday’s mini adventures later this week, but today I’m concentrating on a new sewing and knitting challenge for 2017. The concept was originally developed by Lucky Lucille. I didn’t plan on doing another make challenge this year, as I was going to tackle my UFOs pile. But then 2016 happened, and knocked me and my challenges sideways. Having a perfect wardrobe of hand made clothes didn’t seem such a priority, when people were drowning in Mediterranean sea.
I made a vow that 2017 was going to be the year when hope triumphed, and I was going to play my part in making the world a better place. For me to do that, I have to fully embrace my creative side, so #2017MakeNine challenge accepted.
I’ve already technically made 3 items, so it’s nice to know that I’ve already made a positive start. But in the interests of fairness, I will count my Greenery knit set as 1 item, and will embellishment them with some very trendy embroidery by the end of the year.
So allow me to introduce to you, my sewing and knitting plans for the #2017MakeNine challenge:
Greenery knit set, with embroidery
Pink pussy protest knitted hat
Black cat knitted hat, with felt and embriodery embellishments
Floral square neck tunic, with rick rack embellishment
Blue gingham dress
Cerise gingham skirt
Cobalt palazzo trousers
Sunshine knitted scarf, with bumble bee embellishment
Balloon print dress
I will soon post a youtube video to showcase my crafting plans with further details, so please stay tuned for that. By the way, I have designated February as ‘Design Month’, so this list fits in perfectly with what I have in store for you over the shortest month of the year. Cue new graphic!
I’m pretty excited about this core list of makes, and I know that as the political turmoil waves it’s ugly wand, I will have something to occupy my thoughts when I need hope and light during the dark times.
Are you participating in the #2017MakeNine challenge? What are your sewing and knitting plans? Please share in the comments box below.
Thanks for reading, and please subscribe for more. Continue to go high people.
Ugh! Can you believe there are only a few hours left of January 2017? It has been an eventfully month, good, bad and very awful for some sadly. But it was nice to see that a certain orange person isn’t getting all his own way, despite trying his best to spread false news and ‘alternative facts’.
Anyway, here is a short video of my favourite things of January 2017.
As ever, if you have any comments, add them below. Thanks for reading.