Monday, 1 December 2008

And the Bride Went Flying...

I went to a friend’s wedding this past weekend. The bride wore a 1950’s style fitted cream silk dress overlaid with lace and a sparkling of crystals. The groom wore a black suit and a sprig of heather. She is Scottish and he is Irish, so after the wedding dinner, they had planned Scottish dancing to a folk band pictured above.

To my surprise, everyone seemed to know all of the dances by name and there were shouts of “The Duke of York!” “No, the Prince of Wales!” What had they arrived? I didn’t know my buddies knew royalty. Unfortunately, they did not. These were the names of favourite country dances.

It’s like American square dancing, only all dressed up in gowns and high heels. (Not the men…well, not all of them of course.) Anyway, it was a lot of polite bowing to your partner and whistling through the willow when the unexpected happened. I can’t remember the name of the dance. I will have to ask around, but it involves two couple – boy girl boy girl – who have to form a tight circle with their arms across each other’s shoulders, heads facing toward the middle. You have to spin in a circle when suddenly, I felt my feet being lifted off the floor and I was spinning with my feet in the air! Around and around and around, all the girls were whooping while the guys were probably hoping they didn’t get hernias. It was the most wonderful feeling – a cross between flying and being in a masterpiece theatre movie. Does anyone know the name of the dance?

These were the wonderful flower centerpieces.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum in London is off the South Ken museum beat, but well worth traveling south of the river. Check out the website to see what exhibitions are on. I’ve seen an exhibit about Children during WW2 and another on Animals in War. This photo was taken at that. If you look real close, there’s a dog (not real of course) at the bottom of the parachute. Dogs used to be dropped over enemy lines to take messages and help the soldiers. There was also a James Bond spy exhibit on one time which showed all the workings of MI-5. Beware – if you take a husband, boyfriend, son, or dad, you might not be able to get them out of there for a long, long time. The cafeteria was quite good – even their fish and chips which is unusual for museums. The shop is lovely – packed with old fashioned replica toys and a vast amount of interesting history books. They often publish their own book with each exhibit. I’ve bought both the animals and children ones and have loved them. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

V&A Fashion Collection

The Victoria & Albert museum has a wonderful fashion collection that is constantly changing. In one showcase, you'll see Edwardian dresses. In the next, hand crocheted dresses from the 60's. The below photo doesn't do the dress justice, but everything is low lighted and no flash photography is allowed, so hard to capture a good photo. The dress is made up of hand crocheted flowers in bright colored yarn, some of which are three dimensional flowers. It must've taken hours to complete and I can't even crochet a doily!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Princess Diana's Dresses

This is one of Princess Diana’s dresses that’s housed in the fashion collection of the V&A. I had to do a post on this alone because I was so amazed at all of the hand work that went into sewing all of the pearls on the dress and jacket. What really stunned me was the fact that even inside the collar, pearls of all sizes were sewn. Surely this mustn’t have been comfortable for her to wear, but who needs comfort when you want maximum impact. There were also tons of clear sequins sewn onto the fabric amidst the pearls. Seeing the dress up close, I really did realize just how tall the princess used to be. The dress alone was almost as tall as I was!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Victoria & Albert Museum

The Sackler Centre for arts education at the V&A is now open! If you’re coming to London, make sure to check out what’s happening here. They have workshops, classes, lectures, and sometimes even walk in demonstrations. When I went, one of the artists in residence was teaching whoever came through the door how to make wire twisted jewellery for free. She was so helpful I enquired about taking classes, but unfortunately, she’ll soon be leaving and another artist will be taking her place. They have children’s activities too and if they would like to donate their art, it was being added to a chain or art at the museum. I made a wire sculpture for myself to clip on a necklace and one for the chain. How would you like your art to be displayed at the V&A?

Twisted wire sculptures
The Chain of Art.
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Polska!


Want to know where one of the best value for money and FUN restaurants is in London?

Look no further than the Lowiczanka Polish Centre in Ravenscourt Park close to Hammersmith.

The food is excellent. If there’s two of you, try the Polish shared menu which includes enough delicious peirogis, hunter’s stew, smoked sausage, potatos, and cabbage rolls for dinner as well as leftovers for lunch. It also comes with sides of carrot salad and a second dish of the day. For desert, try one of their 25+ different types of vodka. Cherry and lemon are especially good.
As for the fun, on Friday and Saturday nights, this gentleman gypsy performs the wildest fiddle routines you ever would’ve heard. He’s so fast, you can’t even see his hands move. There’s often a Polish wedding party, so be prepared to jump up and dance. The other patrons may be mostly Polish, but non Poles are heartily welcomed too. This is a great place for a group party. The building and the décor might look as if you’ve landed in the Polish equivalent of a Knights of Columbus Hall, but after a few vodkas and the lure of the fiddle, you can’t help but enjoy yourself.

p.s. – This place can be very popular, so reservations are encouraged.
p.s.s. - Happy Thansgiving Eve!

Monday, 24 November 2008

You Either Love it or Hate it

I love it! On crackers. On biscuits. On Ryvita. On rice cakes. On spaghetti. Especially on buttered toast. Yum! And I only found out about it two days ago! I've been doing a lot of catching up. Marmite and I are making up for lost time. As soon as I get home from work, I have to eat some. Before bed, I eat some more. I'll soon have to go to Marmite anonymous. Thick, black like molasses, salty in taste, brimming in vitamins, it has helped the armies fight war and astronauts in space, but more importantly, does it help you get through your daily grind? Do you love it or hate it?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Is your hair thinning? Falling out in clumps?

Worry no more. Cover your head in crystals. This guy, Philip looked amazing on Friday night at the V&A. The event - Nadja Swarovski, the great-great granddaughter of the Swarovki crystal empire was there giving a talk about the history of her family and business.

Her great-great-grandfather's attitude was "Diamonds were for royalty. I'll take the rest of the world" and that he did.

Did you know the dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday Mr. President was covered in Swarovski crystals? What about Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz's ruby slippers? Those were Swarovski too. Audrey Hepburn's tiara in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Yep, that too.

The crystals weren't sold under the Swarovski brand name back then, but thanks to the late Isabella Blow, she introduced Swarovski into the fashion world and they started branding the name. From Zac Posen to Christopher Kane, Swarovski believes very strongly in supporting young talent. They support Runway Rocks within the jewellery industry where new designers create the ultimate catwalk jewellery piece. She said the company was open to being approached by young talent, so if you have a portfolio of work using crystals - be it dresses, jewellery, chandeliers, etc. check out their site and give them a call.

With so much talk about the crystals, I can't wait to start making a new turquoise and fuchsia crystal necklace, but first, I must finish the other projects I've started. The matryoshka doll from the last post is just about done and will be featured in our upcoming Christmas issue so stay tuned.

p.s. - The Titanic blue heart crystal necklace - Swarovski too!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Who is this?

I'm in the middle of a craft binge at the moment. I can't stop. I'm strung out on tea. I need to keep going with the sewing or I'll lose the momentum, but just wanted to post a few teasers. Who is this sparkly gentleman?
And this sparkly girl?
To find out, stop by again tomorrow and all will be revealed.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Neal's Yard Street Art

Art in the most unexpected places. Someone stuck fridge word magnets to the side of a building in Neal’s Yard. Only a few people had started added poetry with the words. I remember being in New York years ago and seeing the work of mosaic man up the lamp and street posts - gorgeous mosaics with colorful cracked pottery and the Shadow man, another NY artist who used to spray the shadowy outlines of people on random walls. Some might say it is graffiti, but I think it's an inventive form of expression and makes people think twice. Is there any unusual street art where you live?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Halloween in a Hurry

In September, I bought this adorable card for Halloween with the intention to use it as an inspiration for a quilted wall hanging. Where did October go? How is it already November? Christmas is almost here and I'm at least one holiday (almost two holidays if you count Thanksgiving) behind! Should I give up the Halloween idea already? I guess it's my fault for working on the Euro-Santa Christmas quilt all summer. Next year I have to plan my projects better and not start anything new. That should become my new mantra. I must not start anything new. I must not start anything new. Oh, but Valentines day is coming up. What's the use in finishing something so early for Halloween now? I won't be able to display it for almost a year. And I did see the most adorable red rose fabric in my stash the other day...

Does anyone else have issues focusing on one project at a time?

Paris - Marie Clair Craft Fair

Okay so I did a crazy thing this weekend and crafts made me do it. I got up at 5:30am and took Eurostar to Paris for the day just so I could visit the Marie Clair Craft Fair. Marie Clair Idées is a French craft mag that is absolutely packed with wonderful ideas even if you don’t speak French. It is always a wonderful day when the magazine lands on my doorstep.
The fair was in La Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris which is a giant glass building in the middle of a public park. The booths were packed with craft suppliers, people selling patterns, book sellers, and crafters selling their wares. It had taken me a year since the last fair to forget, but I quickly remembered that these French ladies must be starved for craft because the moment my tennis shoe (quel horreur!) hit the carpet, I was jostled to one side, pushed to the other, squeezed past, and generally man handled or should I say madam handled out of the way so the French could get to the front of the stalls. I do love the French, but gosh, they do like to push. Even getting on and off the Metro. In London, everyone stands aside to let the travelers off the carriage before the next set of passengers enter the carriage. In Paris, stand aside and you’ve missed the train.
I suppose I can understand why the French are so starved for craft when I arrived at my most favorite ever shop in Paris, Bouchera, to find it was fermé.
Mais pourquoi fermé? I asked a retired couple on the street corner. They shrugged. They didn’t care one of the best fabric stores in Paris that used to sell off cuts of Chanel fabric was gone. Where was I going to get my fix?
I tried to eat my way through my disappointment by heading down the street to Brioche Dore (the pic above is not B. Dore, just a really cool idea for a table settingin one of the Paris shop windows), but not even the 8 Euro meal deal (toasted ham and cheese panini, Orangina, hot chocolate, and huge slice of coconut flan) could make me as happy as Bouchera once did. It’s like the passing of a great friend.
Back to craft happiness, I wasn't able to take any photos of the crafts at the stalls because I was too scared. I'd seen the stall owners yell at others, so wasn't about to take the risk. I was on a sailor kick while at the fair, (not literally) so I seemed to have bought bits of red white and blue seaside fabric, sailor teddy button, sailory ribbon, and a seaside embroidery book. I think I need a holiday near the sea. Hmmm… another day trip sounds good.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Spectro

When I arrived home from work today, I had a wonderful surprise waiting for me! My Uncle Brian had sent me one of his oil paintings named Spectro. Not only was I surprised to receive the painting, but the style of this one is in contrast to his usual lush, detailed paintings of enchanting women. Influenced by the vibrant colors and the rugged beauty of Africa, he’s working on a new theme this season. He’s also experimenting with a pointillism technique. Having never taken an art class, he is completely self taught. I’m lucky enough to now have four of the paintings in my flat. I love that everything on my walls has been made by one of my family. I can’t wait to see what he paints next.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Extremely Crafty Ideas Issue 2 Hot off the Press!

Last weekend I went chocolate cup mad! I love the photo of this one. It's made the cover of the second issue of Extremely Crafty Ideas. Head over to http://www.extremelycrafty.co.uk/ and read it hot off the press! Inside the cup are licorice allsorts. Aren't they wonderful?

Licorice allsorts are a famous English candy (known over here as sweets) and were first produced by Basset & Co, now owned by Cadbury’s. They are a mixture of coconut flavourings, licorice, fruit flavours, and fruity jelly. Legend has it that in 1899, Basset’s sales representative, Charlie Thompson dropped a platter of candies he was showing his client. All of the candies mixed together. The client tried some of the mixture and loved it! Basset’s soon after began mass producing these and even made their company mascot, Bertie Basset, in the form of a man made out of licorice allsorts in 1929.

My favourite ones are the yellow coconut circles with the licorice in the middle. How about you?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

New York Cupcakes!

When I was in NY last month, I found the delightful Cupcake Cafe. I was surprised where it was located - in a relatively downtrodden area with people hanging around on street corners, trash, etc. but in the middle of it all, there is a haven for scrumptious buttercream cupcakes. Wow, was the cream thick and rich.

I was amazed at all of the beautiful colorful flowers they were able to make out of buttercream.

Rows and rows of cupcakes and cakes.

they sure are heavy to carry too!

This week has been a made week of craft fairs. Today I went to the Country Living Fair in London which was as wonderful as usual. This weekend, I'm off to the Marie Clair craft fair in Paris, so will have lots of photos to post. Au revoir!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Doe A Deer, A Female Deer...

There’s nothing better than a night out over a few beers and some songs with two hundred nuns. At the Sound of Music Sing-A-Long in the Prince of Wales Theater off Leicester Square, you can do just that on a Friday night. Make sure to bring your habit. Most of the crowd will. Some others dress as fair maidens, there’s usually a Hitler or two, and some German army officers. The crowd sings a long to the Julie Andrews cult classic. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words. They’re projected on the screen. One of the best cheap nights out in London.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Posted Stitches

Inspired by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood’s posted stitches, I’ve begun a posted stitches project of my own with my mother. She sewed this wedding ring quilted wall hanging with loads of different pink pastel fabrics in Michigan and I’m going to finish the top stitching by hand in London. What a wonderful idea Jennifer – Overseas Quilt Pals instead of Pen Pals! Do you have a special Quilt Pal?

Victoria & Albert Museum

These were some of the magnificent sculptures at the V&A today.





Making Garbage Look Great!


I have just sat down with a hot cup of Ribena and a chorizo and Brie sandwich on a baguette. Part English, part French and part Spanish – I love living in Europe. Ribena is a blackcurrant drink which is especially good when mixed with fizzy lemonade. Blackcurrant is a common flavor for candy (or as they say sweets) over here. Everyone fights over the black fruit pastilles.

I’m also munching on a couple of Belgian Jules Destrooper butter crisps. They look like golden buttery waffles that have been flattened. They’re crisp to bite and sweet to taste. Scrumptious. They’re sold in a lovely oblong navy and white box with a description of the biscuits in twelve different languages, for example – natuurboterwafels, galettes au beurre, butter crisps, and my favorite – butterwaffeln. I took some photos of them with the chocolate cups, so you can see what they look like.

As soon as I finish, I’m going to begin working on the richly carved wooden photo frame that I found in the rubbish (garbage) down the street. Well, it wasn’t exactly in the rubbish. Someone had leaned it against their black iron railing with some other things they were throwing out. I’m going to sand it down, paint it white and frame a piece of the most beautiful wrapping paper I’ve ever seen. Let’s hope the result doesn’t look as if I’ve got a present hanging on my wall.



The paper I found in an ancient little card shop in Cambridge. It’s printed in Denmark and made by a company called Caspari. The background is golden and it’s covered by rich lavender and fuchsia orchids. You’ve seen the before photos. If the rain holds off, hopefully, I’ll have some have some after photos soon.







Saturday, 25 October 2008

Delicious Chocolate Cups

In the hectic days (and nights) or work, more work, and more work, I have committed myself to doing one fun thing a day. For the past few nights, I've been experimenting with melted chocolate and made some wonderful chocolate cups. I was thinking Gordon Ramsay. This morning, I experimented with different types of fillings such as strawberry & banana Innocent Smoothie, Advocaat, french vanilla ice cream, sprinkles, fruit, licorice...The possibilities are endless. These would be great for dinner parties or pot luck dinners. Oh, you'd be the princess of the pot luck if you brought these chocolately wonder cups!

Tip - firm dark chocolate can withstand heavy fillings whereas milk chocolate (especially at warm temperatures) tends to melt and break quite easily.

In one of the upcoming issues of Extremely Crafty Ideas, I'll feature all of my creations, recipes, and more tips!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ahoy there!

Here are a couple of pirates I found swashbuckling around in my garden!


Pattern coming soon. . .

Saturday, 20 September 2008