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Three tips for surviving Christmas with your family

4 Jan

To be quite clear, this post does not come from a place of resentment but love. Anyone who knows me knows exactly how much I adore my family and friends. However, never more than at Christmas is the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ so pertinent. Whether it be hitting the cheese board a little too hard or spending an extended amount of time with your nearest and not so dearest.

Follow these three simple guidelines and all will be well…

Christmas, surviving christmas, family christmas, awkward photo, awkward family photo

1. The simple games are the best

When you open up a new board game and have a whole new set of rules to get accustomed to, it splits the family unit down the middle, and you find out very quickly which half each person falls in to. It separates those who are board game rule Nazi’s from those who couldn’t give two @$$*’s and just want to get on with the G%$ D*$% game.

Our favourite game to play at family gatherings is a variation of charades. All family members note down around 10-15 names of celebrities or well-known people on scraps of paper throw them in to a big bowl, pick small teams and commence ‘three round charades’. Teams get one minute each time and the bowl must be empty for you to move on to the next round. The most correct answers at the end of all three rounds wins the game.

Round one: You must describe the individual

Round two: You must silently act out the individual

Round three: You may just use one word to describe the individual

Super simple and loads of fun when everyone’s fuelled by a tonne of libations. I’m not going to promise that things won’t get ‘lively’ and someone won’t accidentally throw something or call their boyfriend an idiot (this has never happened) but it’s great fun.

2. You can NEVER have too much food and drink

Besides the fact that Christmas somehow turns off our natural ability to say no, to ANYTHING, regardless of matter how much you love your family and friends, when celebrating the festive season in the UK the inevitability of atrocious weather means that you’ll be confined to one room for an extended amount of time.
If it helps, visualise it as some kind of solitary confinement sentence or an awful disaster where you’re trapped in a lift with tinsel and flashing lights. Now wouldn’t you find it much more bearable plied with lashings of cheese* [*replace with your festive culinary vice] and alcohol? No! So stock up!

3. Foolishness must be unanimous

By foolishness, I’m talking ugly festive headwear (inclusive of headbands, deely boppers, santa hats and paper crowns) offensive jumpers and flashing earrings that at any other time of year would be considered an eyesore.

Make it known to any friends you invite along that your family enjoy, encourage and demand that all attendees must be willing to ‘ugly up’. Start as you mean to go on and set the tone for foolish behaviour, jokes and music.

You’re welcome! Please remember these three key things next time Christmas is fast approaching in order to enjoy quality time with your loved ones to the maximum.

Got any family rituals or essential components that make the festive season all the more bearable for you? Add your own contribution to the comment box below and help others in a time of need…


‘Havarie’ – a dark debut from the Lost Goose Theatre Company

29 Jun

This month I was lucky enough to be one of a select few Londoners attending the debut night of brand new stage play ‘Havarie’ at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden – a universal tale of loss, nostalgia and great seafaring voyages.

You’d be forgiven for assuming the opening scene of the play is set in slow motion, however (aided by aquatic sound effects) one swiftly realises our four storytellers are underwater – inspecting long-lost objects sacrificed to the sea.

The play’s narrative centres around two young European sisters (depicted by actresses Louise Ni H-Eidhin and Mona Becker) forced to flee their home and face the maddening effects of the sea.

Louise Ni H-Eidhin, Mona Becker, Havarie, Lost Goose Theatre Company, Tristan Bates Theatre,

The fifth member of the on-stage team is the inanimate companion ‘Dolly’, a modest rag-doll and vessel for the thoughts of the youngest sister played by Louise Ni H-Eidhin. Through Dolly we get to hear the inner-most fears and doubts of a terrified child, stranded at sea.

The play’s namesake ‘havarie’ German for ‘lost at sea’, defines the morbid tale – narrated by actresses Hannah Martin and Marie Keiser-Neilson.

Lost goose theatre company, havarie, play, production, tristan bates theatre, hannah, marie

An intelligent use of set design and on-stage props deliver endless uses. Lights projected behind turquoise umbrellas imitate the fluidity of crashing waves and graceful sea creatures. While the ship’s sail doubles as a puppeteers projection screen.

‘Havarie’ is the first production from the Lost Goose Company, a theatre collective of four women from across the globe. Their different artistic backgrounds spanning everything from musical theatre, to dance and stage acting combine

Searching for an Off-West End production bursting with creativity and darkness? Check out ‘Havarie’. View the tour schedule via the Lost Goose Theatre Company website.

You can also see real-time updates from the production staff via the Lost Goose Theatre Company Facebook page.

From Blitz to Shoreditch Vintage Festival 2012

13 Aug

It’s no secret that I am one of the most unashamed consumers going, but abreast of that – I do love a good bargain! Hence, thrift shopping is the ideal pass time.

Held at Shoreditch town hall there were tea & cakes to be had, shortly after you’d been primed and preened at the grooming parlour where you could have dated do’s and make-up. The entire hall was absolutely bursting with all types of Brit nostalgia and fashion from high-end to bargain bucket to apparel and up-cycle.

My favourite rummaging spot was the photograph stall. Stacked with pouting models and in everything from Moschino to Mary Quant. I could’ve spent the whole day there, but musky vintage waits for no woman alone.

All-in-all my purchases largely consisted of brooches & jewellery, although there was the odd nautical bowling shirt, 50 mechanical heart-shaped alarm clock, virginal white sun dress, and of course a silk tie for the papa.

Here are some snaps from my day there:

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Events: Walthamstow Wire Workshops & Jewellery Making

15 Apr

Last month I chanced upon a special kind of craft fair, showcasing the work of crafty men and women who make beautiful one-off jewellery and accessory pieces. The interesting thing about these folks is their fusion of traditional celtic-style stones and modern methods of handicraft.

Birgit Barret - Walthamstow Jewellery Group

They’re all member’s of Walthamstow Jewellery Group, headed up by the charming German expat Birgit Barret. For those unfamiliar with Stow, it’s a borough in north east London, a cosmopolis of all interests, generations and cultures, and home to famous English textile designer and writer William Morris.

Student of Craft

Ouzha, from Walthamstow has been with the group for 6 months, and says her passion is all down to her teacher; “you name it and she teaches it Birgit has taught me so many things like wire crochet, ring making and wire wrap.

She adds: “My real passion now is crochet jewellery, I’m really going to get in to it. It looks great, if you have little gemstones, you just put it in to the wire threads in the necklace and it looks stunning, plus you can adjust it to suit your size, or make a range of sizes if you’re selling your pieces.”

I ask Ouzha what this shift back to the handmade way of life is all about; “You go to to shops nowadays and everything’s mass produced, I think it’s a case of, you know what you like.” The office worker also finds it a calming experience, “when I’m at work and I’m stressed, I just take my crochet on my lunch break and I’m on my way. Also it’s a nice social gathering, because you’ll go to a class and you’ll meet like-minded people.”

The Teacher

The creative guru shares her home with frame making entrepreneurial husband and dog, Rusty. She’s no begginer in the crafting world, and started back in her teens; “I sort of forgot about it, then picked it up again seven years ago – I got interested in beds & crystals and wanted to wear them.”

Like many successful creative professionals she told me her crafting business grew by mistake; “two yrs ago, people ask me if I teach, I thought, what is there to teach? So I looked in to it and started a little class in my front room. I converted that and now I’m running classes in the evening every week.

” I also host two daytime workshops and classes on Saturdays, plus fayres and whatever I can fit in.”

Crafty Tuck Shop Continue reading

St. Patrick Craft: Half-Baked Shamrock Stars and Sparkle Headband

18 Mar

Inspiration: Lush field of green, tradition & trend, S/S 12 Meadham and Kirchhoff ballerina headpiece, Shamrocks, clovers, a glint in the eye, Irish charm and the Irish flag.

Err...waiter I think there's glitter in my whiskey

Err...waiter I think there's glitter in my whiskey


Project: In order to get geared up for St. Paddy’s day I took all the excitement that I felt from trawling through LFW 2012 blogs and channeled it in to crafting an exciting head ornament that I could wear for ‘the friendliest day of the year’.

Basic steps here really; I started with a sheet of lime green felt and cut out three freehand stars gradually decreasing in size. I doused one side of each star in a two-part PVA and one part water mix and dipped them in  mountain of emerald green glitter.

I popped the stars in a fn assisted oven on a low heat for 15 minutes then left to dry. I took an old black elastic head band and splodged the three stars in with my trusty UHU glue gun. Leav to dry for another 10 minutes and you’re down to disco, Irish style!

Sniffing Out the Crafters at Glastonbury 2011 – Green Crafts Village

23 Aug

Music, drinking, nudity, tents, hippies, druggies, oh, and arts and crafts.

Where did I encounter all of these wonderful things and more?…At the annual Glastonbury festival on Worthy Farm, Somerset.

The area that I just couldn’t help but explore was of course the Green Crafts Village in the heart of the festival. Full of woodcarvers, jewellery makers and sculptors who used clay or even mud as their material.

Glastonbury Green Crafts Village – clay

One of the many wood carving stalls was Spinney Hollow – even the name conjures up images of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales like The Tinder Box or The Wood Nymph.

However Spinney Hollow couldn’t be any further from sinister. Kate from SH would describe it as; “a sustainable, low impact woodland specialising in traditional craft courses and outdoor art events.”

Traditional is certainly a word I would use to describe the vast array of crafting stalls that are championing historic British crafting techniques. They all seemed to bring the crafts in to a modern setting with innovative combinations of old and modern methods. One example of this was the use of hammering tools against everyday utensils like forks and spoons to craft bracelets and necklaces.

Glastonbury forks and spoons jewellery craft

One stall that went even further was Miss Katie Cupcake who was bang on-trend with her kitsch meets heritage inspired jewellery. A favourite item of mine was in fact by a friend of Katie’s ‘Paul’ who creates show stopping headbands with bright red patent cherries as big as your fist.

Miss Katie Cupcake stall helper at Glastonbury 2011

Glastonbury is a festival that has changed dramatically over time, the very first festivals took place each summer from 1914 to 1925 in Somerset, simply a ‘series of cultural events’ that took place.

Glastonbury Green Crafts clay dinosaur

The seventies gave birth to the type of music festival that still exists today, however one distinct fact has changed – it is no longer a secret, and what once costed a pound is now closer to £200.

Despite all the changes, the fact remains that Glasto is a festival centred around community, good music, rock, pop, soul, funk, progressive, ambient, house, r&b, classical, acoustic and so many more. It’s all there to be enjoyed with a glass of country cider and your arm around a good friend – I’d recommend it to everyone.

Ella Darlington Glastonbury Helium Fields – Stone circle

The rugby 7’s festival meets ‘Cupcakes and Co’ by Jools & Jacks

17 May

Cupcake dream-team ‘Jools and Jacks‘ from Cheshire, England recently set up a pop-up shop at a Rugby 7’s festival in Manchester.

The formidable Jools & Jacks of ‘Cupcakes and Co’

It was the last thing I was expecting to see whilst cruising the stalls at an event for one of the toughest contact sports known to man, but I was so impressed by their creativity and innovation that I had to stop for a closer look.

The two friends, originally from Macclesfield operate from home in Cheshire. “We’ve been going for about a year and a half now, while we used to produce around 100 cupcakes a day, our output is now around 500.

“We just love to play around with concepts.”

Cupcakes & Co by Jools and Jacks

The successful two-some have found a great home at farmers markets, and have even received great feedback when they sold their cutesy cupcakes in a hospital.

As you’d expect the team have capitalised on the massive shift towards ‘handmade weddings’: “While we create 7 or 8 tier celebratory cupcake stands, we also do an actual cake as well.

“We’ve found that the older crowd still like to see the couple cut the cake.”

I ask the ladies what the future holds for this brand: “We’re just going wherever it takes us, it’s just growing really organically, one day we want a shop another day we want loads of shops. It varies.”

‘What a treat!’ Cupcakes and Co by Jools and Jacks

What ‘Cupcakes and Co’ have in their favour is their amazing innovation in baking and presentation. I snapped up a mint Aero cupcake with light airy frosting, whilst the boyfriend opted for an Oreo number. (There was even a hidden surprise as you chomped your way through the sponge.)

You can get in touch with the team via their Facebook page or by calling: 07967 146703. Alternatively take a trip to some charming Cheshire markets where you’ll find the ladies flaunting their flair for cupcake craft.

Bit of Persil on that lads! (MR7’s)

A tense play (MR7’s)