Sugar Sweet Kitschy Christmas Tree Ornaments

Soooooo….I’ve made it this long, but I just can’t wait any longer to get excited about Christmas! I’m really looking forward to starting to decorate our new home for our first Christmas here next week and have all sorts of ideas in my head!

There’ll be some crafting, arranging, foraging and re-arranging I’m sure, but right now I’m thinking about new decorations to buy! There have been a few in the shops I’ve had my eye on, and of course I’ve been spotting things online too.

I have my very own kitsch Christmas tree on account of Adam preferring the more traditional stuff….we have a ‘proper’ tree too but I do adore my white mini tree complete with colourful lights! It’s covered in crazy decorations and I got all excited to find a whole stash of new decorations on the wonderful Oh Deer online store that would make perfect additions (free shipping over £40 also ups the ante!). I just love all the sugar sweet colours, glitter and shininess…you may remember I pinned a whole bunch of such treasures on Pinterest, to which I’ll be adding these.

Here’s my round up of favourites that I’d love to add to my very special tree!

 

 

What glittery plans do you have for the Festive period?!

Ems x

 

 

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Tuesday Tutorial: Glitter Name Bunting

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

Yes, you’re right, my last tutorial was about glitter too. But then glitter is worthy of repetition.

A trend has been emerging with my recent crafting projects….glitter. And why the heck not? After all, glitter is the quintessential crafting supply, and everything is better with a good sprinkle of the stuff.

I bought a stash of glitter card ages ago, and did the usual thing of ‘saving it for something special’. And what could be more special than my niece’s first birthday?! Having decided I wanted to make something glittery for her, I thought about what a one year old could best make use of…..she’s mostly pointing at me and laughing right now though, and doesn’t seem to be in need of anything other than whatever food is out of her reach, so I opted for for something to decorate her bedroom. And because (I think it’s fair to say) I’m pretty bunting obsessed, that’s what my first thought ran to!

You don’t need any crazy equipment or mad skills for this DIY, but it does take some precision and patience. The result is pretty rewarding though I think!

Glitter Name Bunting Tutorial by Under a Glass Sky

What you will need:

  • Glitter card
  • Wooden pennants with pre-drilled holes (enough for each letter of the name)
  • Mod Podge or PVA glue
  • Ribbon (enough to go across the width of each pennant, plus about 30cm extra)
  • A plastic spatula
  • Craft knife or scalpel
  • Metal rule
  • A pencil
  • Small scissors

How to make it:

  • Place your first pennant on the back of a piece of glitter card and trace around it with a pencil as close as you can get
  • Cut the glitter card with scalpel and ruler or scissors if you prefer, and check it up against the pennant to see that it fits
  • Now give the pennant a good generous coat of glue….it’s better to have too much on there than too little
  • Carefully place the glitter card onto the pennant, squaring it up quickly before the glue dries to ensure all the edges are aligned
  • Press firmly down on the card so that any excess glue comes out at the sides
  • Use the spatula to remove this excess by sliding the flat edge along the side of the pennant….this will also help to nicely seal the edges
  • Repeat this for all your pennants and then set them aside to dry for a couple of hours
  • Whilst you wait, cut out your letters from the glitter card…..I used the pencil to draw onto the back of the card then cut around that, but remember to draw in reverse
  • Once the newly glittered pennants are dry, arrange them in the order you’d like them and offer up each letter to check that the colours contrast well enough to see them
  • Apply glue to the back of your first letter, again using plenty as you’ll need a good coat to get in between the bumpy glittery surface
  • Carefully place the letter on the pennant, check you’re happy with the positioning, and press down firmly
  • Again, use the spatula to remove any excess, although don’t worry too much as the glue will dry clear
  • Repeat for each pennant and allow to dry well, preferably over night
  • Now you just need to thread the pennants together by cutting through the glitter card to reveal the hole in the wood with the scalpel, and posting the ribbon through each hole of each pennant, then moving on to the next
  • Finally, tie a knot in each end to stop the pennants moving about, and you’re done!

If you find it tricky to get hold of some wooden pennants (I got mine from an online craft shop who sell lots of laser cut MDF shapes) you could always cut them yourself from foamex.

I also made a single pennant with a star shape on it for a friend’s birthday, and of course you could apply any pattern to your bunting, or even just leave it plain in all its glittery glory!

Happy glittering!

Ems x

 

Tuesday Tutorial: Purple Glitter Jewellery for Willow Foundation

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a friend’s “Purple Party” to help raise funds for Willow Foundation*. Clare is running the London Marathon for the charity this year, and so put together the brilliant themed party to add to her fundraising target. There were purple cocktails, purple food, a purple photo booth and the whole place was decked out in purple, including the guests!

Being a bit low on purple things to wear myself, I decided to make some purple glittery treasures, with extra for Clare to sell on the night. And because I know everyone loves glitter (not to mention with Half Term in full swing!) I thought I’d share a little tutorial for how to make them. The batch I made took a while because there were so many, but one or two would be very quick to make, and super easy too! You can buy everything you need easily and inexpensively at a craft shop or online.

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

You Will Need:

  • Fine purple glitter (or another colour, if you must)
  • Original Mod Podge
  • A flat ended brush (about 10mm to 15mm wide)
  • A mixing pot (a yogurt pot or take out tub is perfect, especially if it has a lid)
  • An old teaspoon
  • Wooden laser cut shapes (I used 20mm and 30mm hearts, and 40mm stars)
  • Brooch backs and / or stick on pendant bails
  • E6000 glue

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

How To:

1. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of glitter into your mixing pot (if you’re making a big batch just double this, and keep making fresh batches as you go, so none is wasted)

2. Add about the same amount of Mod Podge and mix them well with the spoon (then wash the spoon!)

3. Choose which side of your wooden shape you want to paint (there are often marks from the laser cutting on one side, so paint onto that as you won’t see it when you’re finished)

4. Paint a thin layer of the glittery glue onto your shape….best not to use too much at a time so that you don’t spill over the edges and it stays neat

5. Wait for that to dry and then paint on another thin coat

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

6. Keep adding thin coats once the last is dry to build up the coverage….as with most painting projects, it’s better to do lots of thin coats than one or two thick ones (if your mixing pot has a lid you can cover your mixture whilst you wait for drying, so that it stays fresh)

7. I applied four or five coats to mine, and if you decide to make a big batch you can of course apply each coat to all of them, and by the time you’ve done the last, the first one will be dry and ready for the next

8. Once you’re happy with the coverage, leave until completely dry before flipping over ready for the backing

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

9. If you’re using a brooch back, check it works ok before using it, then blob some E6000 onto the flat side of the brooch back and press it firmly onto the back of your wooden shape

10. If you’re making a pendant, blob the E6000 onto the flat pad of the bail and carefully press it onto the back of your shape….before it dries turn it over to make sure it’s on straight

11. Leave for 24 hours to dry well before adding a chain if you’ve made a pendant, or before proudly pinning your brooch onto your clothes!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

These would make great party favours for a Bridal Shower or Hen Party I think, or for children’s parties (although take care with brooch pins!)….or of course you could make some to raise funds for charity too!

Purple glitter jewellery tutorial

Ems x

Willow is the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days. These Special Days enable them and their families to reconnect and refocus on each other while enjoying an activity of their choosing. A day for them, a day about them and a day that will create memories they will all treasure forever.

Wednesday Wants…. it’s party frock season!

I’m afraid for those of you who don’t like Christmas coming so early, I’m going to be rather intolerable for the next few weeks. I don’t consider myself badly swayed by the commercialism of Christmas now, it’s just that I get so excited about it I can’t wait! And whilst Christmas is very much a traditional, home-made affair for me, I can’t help but be a *little* diverted by some of the Christmassy stuff in the shops! It’s not usually dancing, singing Father Christmas plushes though….more the kind of things I like to wear around the festive season. And as such, I’m getting excited about the excuse to wear proper party frocks, with shiny glittery bits and in festive colours. Who *wouldn’t* want to get into the spirit with this stuff?!…..

Lia Jacquard Skater Dress, Whistles, £175

It’s pretty inevitable that the festive season will bring stacks of sheeny, metallic, jacquard dresses. And whilst they are annoyingly almost always polyester and dry clean only, there is something about this time of year that means you need to be all shiny and glittery. This rather luxurious looking number from Whistles wouldn’t look out of place in an Audrey Hepburn film, and it’s about as ‘me’ as you can get! I love the nipped-in waist, full skirt and the stunning shade of green. Plus, it’s super practical for this time of year with its pretty little sleeves (I bear my shoulders for no-one in the cold!).

Inda Quilted Dress in Sage Green, Reiss, £179

And sticking with the colour green, and practicality….I’m loving this quilted dress from Reiss. It’s double layered so it’ll keep you that bit more cosy and stays super cute at the same time! I have a darling little vintage shrug in emerald green with white polka dots that would go beautifully with this! See how I made a pretty little dress sound all practical?!

Oriental Jacquard Dress, Oasis, £95

Back to the jacquard now…. I’ve been eying up this oriental styled dress from Oasis for a while now. The pattern and colours look like something that would look great on the Christmas tree, but it’d still be ever so wearable all the same with a lovely cardi over it.

Invitation Vanessa Maxi Dress, Hobbs, £69 down from £119

Now I hardly ever go for a maxi dress, but there is just something so incredibly glamorous about this rather Grecian dress from Hobbs. The colour is just stunning, and all those ruffles would nicely hide all those mince pies with style and grace! It’s actually made from a jersey fabric, so easy to wear and look after, and I can’t think of anything better to glide around at a festive ball in!

Monogram Short Sleeve Lace Dress, Banana Republic, £99.50

It wouldn’t be party season without a little black dress now would it? And to that end, I’m lusting after this beautiful black lace shift dress from Banana Republic. With its smart and flattering tailoring, and cute little cap sleeves, this looks like a real wardrobe life saver to keep up your sleeve!

Iona Duchess Satin Dress, Coast, £150

Iona Duchess Satin Dress, Coast, £150

And I couldn’t let a Christmassy party frock post go without a red dress now could I?! Nothing says Christmas day attire more to me than a shiny red dress, and this one from Coast is the Christmas dress of my dreams. Made in luxurious duchess satin, and with a double layered tulle petticoat underneath, it’s just the perfect number to get all giddy and Christmas-day-excited in! In fact, if I had it, I’m pretty sure I’d wear it every day up until New Year!

I hope you’re enjoying getting excited about party season too?!

Ems x

A sugar sweet Christmas

I’ve recently been introduced to the wonderful world of Pinterest, and amongst all its fabulous offerings, it’s the Christmas ideas I’m currently most obsessed with. I’ve created a board of beautiful ideas along a Sugar Sweet Christmas theme…… here are a few of my favourites…..

This is where it all began…..a tree of sweeties in sugar icing tones…..

Source: trendytree.com via pretty on Pinterest

I was desperate to do this but really haven’t had time this year…..I surely will next Christmas though!……
This is how I intend to spend much of Christmas Eve!…..
I love Paperchase all year round, but at Christmas it’s off the chart!…..
I love this idea for glamming up ordinary fairy lights with ribbon offcuts……
 How beautiful are these! Definitely a project I want to try…..
 So simple and clever!…..
 I may need to hone my skills in meringue making before attempting these…..
I’m sure I can manage these though…..
 Probably my favourite tree decoration this year…..very clever mini versions of the Jeff Koons classic…..
And what would Christmas be without a gorgeous, festive dress…..
 The tree of my dreams….for this year at least!
Source: tumblr.com via pretty on Pinterest
Merry Christmas and happy Pinning!

Take That…..Progress

And so it was that June finally brought that most anticipated of treats as I travelled North, and homeward, to see the Take That Progress tour. On its first night at the City of Manchester Stadium, the band ‘came home’ to hoards of screaming women, including me and my mum. I’ve seen enough tours of this scale, (and even worked on a few of Robbie’s) to know that the amount spent on them *should* mean it’s practically impossible to produce anything that’s not super-impressive, but when you’re putting together the next tour for a band like Take That there’s enough expectation and competition that it’s necessary to very much pull out all the stops for something totally original, bigger, better and utterly unforgettable.

And I’d have to say that for me, Progress ticked all the boxes. I’ll admit that I was rather surprised to hear that the Pet Shop Boys would be opening the show, (what with them being incredibly successful and accomplished showmen themselves…why ever did they need to open a Take That gig?) but nonetheless was excited to have the opportunity to see them too. And despite having limited access to the main staging and production elements (although they used add-ons to great effect and to the point where we couldn’t even see what was going on behind until a great reveal later) they put on a super show, in true style, with awesomely original costumes (with nods to lego and disco balls aplenty).

And so, all prepped and ready for the main event as it were, the girly screams rose up to greet a mad professor character who was to operate a giant keyboard on stage, which effected to type onto the huge projection screen and ask us if we were ready….well ‘yes’ we screamed! But as four figures walked out of the wings and onto stage, around my mum and I there were frightened and disappointed murmurs of ‘where is Robbie’…..well lucky mum and I were informed enough from the previous concerts that we weren’t concerned about his absence. Thankfully we’d learned in advance that the evening was to take a bit of a retrospective format…..with ‘The Four’ appearing first to perform some of the post-Robbie hits…..then Robbie on to take centre stage alone with some of his own….and finally all five for some of the golden oldies as well as some of the newer classics. We were only too happy to share our wisdom with the ladies around us too, especially one who swore she’d only come to see Robbie and was devastated to see them come on without him.

And I thought I would miss him too, but Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason were no disappointment as they brought to life Shine in a magical wonderland-inspired scene….Gary playing on a fantastical curly piano, and Mark riding around on a wonderful giant caterpillar, with walking grandfather clocks, rollerskating bees and dancing hares, whilst they were all gorgeously costumed in vivid brights with giant smoke bubbles filling the stadium around them.

However, their walk-on-and-off entrances and exits were nothing to Robbie’s explosion onto stage….. The main screen showing an image of a tiny doorway, growing bigger and bigger until the screen itself burst open and Robbie was flung through it in mid-air to perform his customary opening number Let Me Entertain You. I found myself screaming uncontrollably, like one of those girls we used to see on TV queuing to see Take That and going wild at a glimpse of them. I didn’t know what had come over me, especially having seen Robbie before, but perhaps the fact that we’d waited those first few songs for him and had the chance to warm up and release our inhibitions with the Pet Shop Boys had turned me into this screeching teenage loon. After he’d strut around to Rock DJ, with neon-clad roller skaters waving ‘RW’ emblazoned flags and pulling him around in a glass chariot…. and after he’d been teased to a squealing audience during Real Love, hanging over them in a sort of crane and grabbing girls’ hands as he went….. it was of course the inevitable Angels that brought his solo set to a close.

Perhaps the best entrance of all though was as four and one became five, and atop the towering stage set, and above a real flowing waterfall, Take That performed Flood, rather more like famous opera stars than a band of thirty/forty-something pop stars. Below them, a team of athletic dancers bungee’d around the waterfall creating shapes and patterns in their light-up costumes, culminating in the Darwin-inspired Progress emblem. And of course, there were to be no shabby back stage retreats now, as Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason’s turrets became lifts, impressively swishing them down onto stage, right through the waterfall. Robbie though wasn’t to settle for this, as he launched off the top of set and in a perfect dive through the spraying waterfall, landed on stage just as we’d realised quite what he was doing and the awe-filled screaming ensued. Wow.

As the huge smoke rings rose through the stadium from the incredible pyrotechnics, the action continued as chess pieces came to life to fight in Kidz, whilst Howard and Jason dueled in a somewhat contrived but at least well choreographed sword fight. The result was officially a draw, but there was no doubt in my mind that Howard was the victor. Things settled in to the more sedate soon though as Gary produced glasses of red wine for the boys (milk though for Mark and Robbie) and they gathered around the piano to reminisce over Babe, Million Love Songs, Everything Changes But You, Pray and Back for Good.

The production tricks and surprises weren’t over though, and the giant seated figure (which Gary introduced to us as OM) which had been adorning the stage soon came to life, its hands lifting up the boys seated in them and eventually coming right into the crowd to stand to its full 60 feet high. And as we heard the first bars of Never Forget, OM began to raise his arms, echoing the iconic choreography for what we knew would be the finale. We weren’t left hanging too long though as we chanted for their return to the stage, and we were obliged by an encore of No Regrets in the shape of a fire-side sofa chat between Gary and Robbie, before the flames grew and we were treated to a rather funked up Relight My Fire.

As the fires died, the smoke cleared and the crowd scattered from the litter strewn stadium, we left buzzing and beaming into the throng of similarly gleeful fans, whilst above a solitary rogue balloon escaped and flew up into the sky.

Back to June….


Clockwise from top left: Our Take That Progress Tour tickets….Adam’s birthday meal at Pearl….Summer party at the Tower of London….My personal best on iPhone Trivial Pursuit….Prettys at The Waldorf Astoria Syon Park….Vintage Geekery for Adam’s Birthday Party….

June was a busy month for work and saw the start of the summer party season in earnest. Our first party of the month was for a wonderfully fun repeat client for whom we created a Super Heroes in 3D party at Old Billingsgate, just a few minutes from home. We’d had the idea from all of the super hero films coming out this year and that so many of them are boasting super-high-tech all-singing-all-dancing 3D effects….we made it gorgeously retro though by creating 2D props printed in anaglyph style 3D effects (Kapow! and Zoing! Etc.) and styling in vintage comic book primary colours. After a bit of negotiating and luck, we managed to bag the marvellous Essentials (mentioned in May) for the reception tunes, and then after dinner it was the incredible Mad Hen who took to the Super Hero suits and filled the dance floor. Later to play at Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall’s wedding, they’re possibly my all time favourite party band, and we couldn’t help but have a dance from the viewing gallery whilst they played Sex on Fire, Jump Around and Professional Widow.

Disco disco….comic book table centre….Mad Hen….

They were to join us at our next big party too, as we hosted a very jolly summer fete at the Pavilion at the Tower of London. Right in the moat, we set up old fashioned stalls and guests could try their hand at ‘Skittles’, ‘Bunco Booth’, ‘Hook a Duck’, ‘Tin Can Alley’, and ‘Coconut Shy’, whilst inside our beautifully painted backdrop of the Tower was set up with a full tea party prop display in front ready for the photographer to direct everyone into wonderful scenes. And of course the whole pavilion was filled with bunting. Of course.

The Tower of London….The Tower of London Pavilion….Mad Hen….

The only problem with big summer parties of course is that one pins ones hopes so much on fine weather and spending time outdoors. And we especially wanted to make the most of the stunning grounds for our next party at the Waldorf Astoria, Syon Park. We’d even brought in giant inflatable games and laser clay pigeon shooting, but alas the British weather was yet again against us and everyone was bound indoors (apart from a few intrepid guests who were eager to try and happy to don our lovely ponchos!). Still, the Waldorf Astoria is exquisitely well decorated and full of beautifully well thought touches of design, and so we didn’t mind being indoors too much at all. Especially with the pastry chef’s incredible sweetie station to keep everyone going….like something from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, this table of sweet treats was laid out for pudding and filled to bursting with lollipop toadstools…. apothecary jars of nougat….. footed bowls of marshmallows…. jellies…. honey comb chocolate…. popcorn….. Bliss!

Sweet treats and pretty decor at the Waldrof Astoria Syon Park….

There were more sweet treats as we visited the elegant Apsleys for High Tea at the 5 Star Lanesborough at Hyde Park Corner. The gorgeous room, topped with charming symmetrical chandeliers and framed by wonderfully dramatic collages of classical paintings, is the perfect setting for an elegant tea. And the knowledgeable waiter who told us all we needed to know about the exceptionally comprehensive tea menu brought us our chosen infusions in niftily labelled silver pots before talking us through the contents of the various pretty plates and tea stands he brought to follow. It was important to continue to look elegant of course as we ate our way through little quiches, brioches, finger sandwiches and darling and colourful fancies. And I think we did. Until they were all gone!Afternoon Tea at Apsleys….

More treats were in store as I took Adam out for a special birthday dinner to Pearl at the Renaissance Chancery Court. As we were celebrating his 30th birthday, I’d spent an age umm-ing and ahh-ing over where to take him, trying to think where he would most enjoy, rather than just where I really wanted to go. In an attempt to choose a ‘manly’ option I very nearly opted for Comptoir Garcon for its gamey, meaty offerings, which I’d told myself was more fitting than Les Trois Garçon where I’d been hankering after. But after I’d raked through dozens of reviews, and at a risk of choosing somewhere with ever so slightly girlier décor, I opted for Pearl for the incredible sounding french dishes created by the precise hand of our much admired Jun Tanaka.

Perhaps because it was a Tuesday evening, the restaurant was pretty quiet when our cab pulled into the darling courtyard of the hotel, set back from busy Holborn. Inside though, we were delighted by our quiet corner table and the atmosphere travelled in from the busier bar so that we weren’t to feel lonely. From the off, the service was impeccable and we were looked after by no less than four members of the impressive team, although we were never confused as to the role of each. Having been slow to finish our gorgeous pre-dinner cocktails, I decided on a wine to go with our mains and the expert sommelier was sent for. This charming man helped in my choice with confidence, grace and honesty, and then helpfully readied our bottle in time for our mains service.

Dinner began with the presentation of a very pretty amuse bouche of cucumber foam, after which we both chose the same starter: ‘BEEF’ Roast Marrow Bone with Onion Confit, Beef Cheek Croquettes, Watercress Dressing and Wild Garlic. Adam had not had much experience of offal so I was surprised to see him choose this, but as a big offal lover myself I could not wait to try this very delicately presented offering. The marrow bone was beautifully rich and buttery, and the cheek croquettes incredibly delicious alongside the wild garlic. The pretty, tiny portions didn’t take us long to devour but there was so much flavour we didn’t feel cheated and we only looked forward to our main courses. For me it was ‘CHICKEN,’ (Roast Spring Chicken with Macaroni, Lemon Confit, Asparagus and Lemongrass Consomme) which was gorgeously comforting and summery at the same time. And for Adam, the ‘SOLE,’ (Cornish Sole with Artichoke Gnocchi, Roast Baby Artichokes and Seashore Vegetables) which was meaty yet perfectly delicate.

We weren’t brought our ordered desserts until we’d been served ‘pre-desserts’ in the form of tiny glasses filled with creamy couscous and fruit coulis, a sort of european rice pudding. Then we did swaps on our two desserts (we often struggle to choose so have half and half)….. ‘GRAPEFRUIT’ (Grapefruit and Ginger Trifle with Lemon Cake, Stem Ginger Ice Cream) and ‘LYCHEE’ (Lychee Jelly and Raspberries, Rose Ice Cream and Pink Praline). Both were wonderful in their complexity and thoughtfulness, but we were only to be wowed again as our lovely waiter brought out to Adam a decorated plate of chocolates wishing him a happy birthday! We finished up with more cocktails in the gorgeously elegant bar, which we also vowed to return to for an evening of indulgent drinks too. All in all, we couldn’t have been more impressed by the impeccable service, the incredible finesse and the refined originality of Pearl.

Pearl at the Renaissance Chancery Court….

After dinner….walking home and opening presents….

It being a special birthday, we of course extended the celebrations for a good few weeks, and the weekend after Adam’s special day saw a trip to his home town of Hitchin for a curry supper with friends and a catch up with family. As ever, we relished the excuse to spend some time out of London relaxing, and in fact on the Sunday ventured over to the second hand book shop in town (quite literally only a stone’s throw away from Adam’s parents’ cottage). The darling shop, much like many of its ilk is crammed from floor to ceiling with shelves upon shelves of exciting texts, positively exploding and toppling with carefully catalogued treasures which I could explore for hours. The smell is familiar of course, that combination of dust, leather and old wood, and so wandering the enchanting isles of this place and delving into a huge hard back makes you feel like some intrepid explorer in a scared, secret cave. Upstairs there are armchairs, coffee table and rugs, which I found far too inviting to pass up and found myself flicking through pretty picture books in comfort whilst Adam investigated the History section. Most impressive though are their beautifully bound sets of Dickens, Shakespeare and collections of Classics, which Adam and I dream of furnishing a grand library with (complete with those slidey ladders and an ancient Globe of course).

We couldn’t let a special birthday pass without a party though, and so once back in London preparations began for Adam’s ‘I don’t want to be a grown up’ party. Adam had asked everyone to dress as their favourite kids TV show character from the 1980s, and we’d themed the party snacks to match….. Adam donned a cavalier’s outfit with ears and a painted nose as his hero Dogtanian, whilst I couldn’t choose between Penelope Pitstop and Velma from Scooby Doo, so did both and switched half way through the night. We also saw friends dress as Mr Ben, Bagpuss, John Craven, Evil Edna, a My Little Pony and Tigger. For the yums, we made Penny Crayon Bread Sticks (I painstakingly sharpened the end of bread sticks and applied colour to the tips to make them look like crayons), Foghorn Leghorns (spicy breaded chicken goujons), Porky Pig Three Ways (sticky worcester sauce chipolatas, chorizo and parma ham), Turtles Pizza, Slimer’s Jelly, Pink Panther Pie (pink blancmange with pink glitter sprinkles and marshmallows on top), Family Ness Puddings (Butterscotch Angel Delight set with wiggly worms to look like swimming lake monsters), and Bananaman Cake. With 80s tunes, Dogtanian on TV and the bubble machine at full pelt, we were far from the sophisticated dinner parties I’d usually aim for, but with many a Gummy Berry Juice and Ectoplasm cocktail inside us, we partied way past bed time.

Family Ness Puddings….Bananaman Bread….Bubbles….Pink Panther Pie….Guests….Barr Lemonade….

With summer in full swing, it was time for a new season’s fads and fancies to come around. And in terms of music it was the 70’s fashions trend I think, that kicked off my constant replaying of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and The Eagles’ Hotel California. All of a sudden we could hear them everywhere too and for a while I didn’t want to hear anything else as they brought me a kind of sunny, lady back mood. For food fads, it was a light bite lunch that got me obsessed with the couldn’t-be-simpler tomatoes on toast. For some reason they were my savoury of choice for every meal, and for weekend lunches I’d slave away for twenty minutes, preparing a vine of cherry tomatoes to perfection with our home grown thyme and basil, Heston’s vanilla salt, black garlic and olive oil, before grilling them and devouring them on toast. But it was the frozen yoghurt that became the super-fad of the summer as I went crazy for plain fro-yo whenever I could get it. It seemed that there were plenty of places cropping up too, just in time for my new craving, and so I’d often opt for a large fro-yo as a grabbed lunch between meetings rather than the sandwiches I’d been getting bored with. And I would like to think its low or no-fat benefits helped make up for all the summer barbecues too!June Barbeque at Casa Wapping….

It was in June that we finally got to see the much anticipated Svengali by the intriguing Derren Brown at the Comedy Theatre in Covent Garden. I’ve enjoyed his TV shows a lot, but unlike Adam I’ve never seen one of his live shows, although I was lucky enough to work on the creative for the gorgeously designed Circus show he toured a few years ago. A few friends had already been to see the show but Brown had sworn them to secrecy so I knew nothing about it, and went with an open, but excited mind. Now likewise, we too were sworn to secrecy, so technically I’m not to divulge anything from the show. But never one to keep my mouth completely shut, I will offer my ambiguous critique…..

I suppose it is the cheeky parlour tricks and mystical stunts that make Brown’s shows ever popular, and of course his showmanship is what holds these together and sets him apart from his competition, but for me a large part of coming to a show like this one and what would usually impress me is the high production value. The build up created in the sound, the lighting and the setting really interests me, and if it’s done well can really draw me in to a good production. And many things did impress me in Svengali, including an intriguing set, and thoughtful distractions such as notes passed around the audience to involve us. But when it came to the suspension of our disbelief, sloppy props and rather naff stunts did somewhat spoil the magic for me, and after all, we were all there to be fooled and taken in by the misdirection. And what is a great showman without his box of tricks?

Now really the close to this post ought to be my memories of a certain concert that made one of my favourite bits of June, but at the risk of comparing two vastly different medium (Derren Brown and a pop concert that is), and angering two huge fan bases (of which I would count myself member of both) I’m going to have to rave about what I expect will be one of the most impressive productions I’ll see this year in a separate post. And I’m not ashamed to be posting an entire blog on Take That’s Progress tour, nor the thousands of words I’ll no doubt spend ranting about how wonderful it was. But at least this way, those of you who find the prospect utterly toe-curling have had your warning!