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Showing posts with label party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label party. Show all posts

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Fancy dress costumes on a budget!

axolotl hair band

I’ve always loved to dress up. Costume parties and fancy dress have been the top of my priority list since 1995. Part of the appeal to me is the bit where I get to decide who or what I’m going to be. And yes, I often go as inanimate objects. I once dressed as a matchstick to go to an ‘M’ themed birthday party, and one fateful Hallowe’en in my first year at university, I went as a treasure chest. Make of that what you will.

When deciding what to dress up as, I often feel like the process should go like this:

1. Decide who/what to be.
2. Source costume and props.
3. Dress up.
4. Go to the party.

Unfortunately, unless you’ve got tons of money to spend on expensive ready-made costumes (boring) or you are going to the party dressed as a modern day civilian (even more boring), the process of preparing for a fancy-dress party is not as smooth. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a really effective and wearable outfit for yourself with minimum effort. I’ve found, over the years, that you can make almost any costume using clothes from around the house, scrap pieces of felt, and headbands.
Now let me be clear – I am no cosplayer. I am forever in awe of those who spend months crafting their hyper-accurate TARDIS costumes to go to conventions and gatherings, or learn intricate makeup techniques to become mythical creatures. And in addition, (although this goes without saying...) I am not a professional costume designer. My incredibly talented friend Eleanor Bull is, and her fancy dress costumes always trump everyone else’s, as far as I’m concerned. When we were little, we used to make all sorts of magnificent costumes out of scarves, sheets of fabric, old clothes, bits of cardboard… And it’s that kind of boundless, unselfconscious creativity that I think we should harness when creating costumes (and in all getting-dressed endeavours!).

Children in fancy dress

The key to a good costume, for me, is all in the headdress. Not only does a headdress bring a well-curated outfit together, it can also make a completely non-fancy-dress outfit into a costume! You can basically make a hat out of ANYTHING, which means the possibilities for easy costumes are endless. Going to a zoo themed party? Hot-glue some plastic animals to a headband! Want to dress up for a summer themed party? Put your hair in a bun and wrap some tiny bunting around it! You’ve got to think outside the box a bit, but I know you can do it.
I’ve made my fair share of really simple headdresses over the years. Some have been a little bit more labour intensive than others, and some have been more effective than others, but they were all fun little projects!

axolotl costume idea
cute ginger cat girl
cat man costume headdress

Animal headdresses are probably the easiest to think of, and they can be some of the easiest to create too – especially cat ears. That said, I made a unicorn headdress once that didn’t work at ALL. My top tip there is to keep the ears/axolotl gills/horns/whatever head appendage small, to avoid any embarrassing flaccid headdress incidents.

bacon hairclips

For my Eurovision party this year, (Eurovision is my favourite religious festival) I was Denmark. I came up with a ton of convoluted puns and ideas (Cover myself with gloves and go as HANDS Christian Andersen…) but eventually I decided to go with a red and white dress (Denmark’s flag colours) and a couple of (Danish) bacon themed hair clips (see above). Like almost everything I make, the hairclips were made of felt, sewn and glued, and fitted to hair clips.

What you need, to make an impromptu headdress:

1. Felt in a variety of colours. You can buy selections very cheaply online or in fabric shops.
2. Glue (you could use a glue gun, or UHU glue, or any other strong glue)
3. Hairclips, hairbands, headbands etc. You can get the little flimsy plastic ones so cheaply and those are perfect for this kind of thing.

Optionally, you could also add glitter, sequins, plastic bits of tat (I’ve been known to glue a plastic tea set to a hat…) and ribbons to your arsenal of headdress-making gear. Let me know if you’ve ever made any awesome hats or headdresses, or tell me about any awful pun costume ideas. You can comment down below or tweet me at @candyowlgirl. And tell me if you’d like to see more costume ideas and more detailed tutorials in the future. :)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Boozy popsicle cocktails

alcoholic ice lollies

Storms one moment, blazing hot sunshine the next - that’s what we’re dealing with in the UK right now and I’ve come up with the perfect solution - cocktail ice lollies. When it’s sweltering outside, you can cool off with one of your favourite cocktails in a frozen format, and when it turns to storm, you can get tipsy enough to forget it’s raining…! Hurrah!
The main thing to remember when making any kind of frozen alcoholic treat, is that alcohol doesn’t really freeze properly in the average person’s freezer. So these ice pops aren’t actually going to make you drunk. There’s not that much alcohol in them. I’ve not given exact measurements, because I don’t know how big your ice lolly moulds are, but if you use the ratios I’ve given, you’ll be fine! We made Mojito, G&T, and Piña Colada cocktails, but you should get super creative and try your favourite cocktail in popsicle form!

mojito popsicle recipe

Mojito
1 part Rum (whatever type you prefer)
1 part Simple Syrup
4 part Soda Water
1 part fresh lime juice
Several sprigs of mint

gin and tonic ice lolly idea

Gin and tonic
1 part Gin
½ part Syrup
4 parts Tonic Water
Cucumber or lime (depending on what’s your favourite!)

pina colada popsicle

Pina Colada
3 Blended Pineapple
2 Coconut Cream
1 Rum

If you increase the amount of alcohol or syrup it probably won’t freeze and you will have a slushy. The mojito and G&T are about at the limit of what will freeze and they melt pretty fast! We froze ours for about four hours, but I’d recommend freezing them overnight.

So let me know if you give this a try - or if you’ve got any secret frozen cocktail recipes you want to tell me! This is a really simple and fun recipe to prepare for parties, or just to have a fun twist on your evening cocktail! Oh, and if you love ice cream, why not check out my top 5 ice creams in London?!

UK ice lolly moulds

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Last-minute Champagne Chic

Quick Champagne Party
Sometimes, you've just got to be a bit decadent, am I right? I mean, whatever decadence means to you in particular, I don't think there's anything wrong with doing something for the sake of it from time to time. Even if decadence is just a bar of chocolate or putting on an old party dress to do the dishes, frivolity is important, if you ask me. Which you didn't. But there you go - I'm telling you anyway.
This weekend just gone, Dan and I took a last-minute trip to Cambridge for a lunch at my old college at university. We met up with lots of dear friends and it was lovely to catch up with everyone in a familiar but somehow alien setting... I feel odd being in Cambridge without feeling STRESSED! Anyway, as well as catching up with friends, we spent the night at Dan's parents' house because they live in the middle of the beautiful countryside nearby, and we fancied crashing the garden party they were holding in the village. I hadn't really brought any appropriate party clothes with me, but I found that I actually had some clothes that I'd left at their house, including this black pencil dress that I bought for a funeral many years ago. Since the theme of the garden party was 'Champagne and Jazz', it seemed vaguely appropriate in a sort of "last minute Champagne chic" kind of way... And really, there are few events where a 'little black dress' would be wildly inappropriate, don't you think?
Little Black Dress Cambridge
Sunny Cambridge Party
When we arrived at the house, it was only about twenty minutes before the beginning of the party, so as soon as I found the black dress in the wardrobe amongst Dan's childhood clothes, I chucked some gold eyeshadow at my eyes and hoped for the best. I find that as a glasses-wearer, you can get away with a fair amount of error, especially if you have really enormous nerd glasses with thick ol' lenses in them like I do! Sometimes, I put on eye makeup that I think is really bold and statementy, and then when I put my glasses back on, it barely looks like I'm wearing any at all. Do any of you have this problem?
Gold Makeup ideas
English country garden
No party would be complete without some little nibbles on sticks. I can claim no credit for these, as they were all made by my mother-in-law, whose philosophy on cooking emphasises flavour over fuss - an excellent food philosophy if you ask me. These simple canapés are made of little cubes of good quality feta cheese, topped with a generous sliver of sun-dried tomato, all skewered together on a dainty little cocktail stick. There was another plate with olives instead of tomatoes, and they were delicious too. Everyone at the party thought they were great, and what with the glorious weather and the Champagne flowing, it seemed that the party was a real success.
Easy Canape Idea
Bourgeois ridiculous
Have you ever been to a party unexpectedly? It's a lot of fun to embrace some unexpected decadence, and to feel fancy with limited resources. I think it's really important to remind yourself every once in a while that you are capable of being a classy mofo if you need to be. Life lessons, guys.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Learn to make: RAINBOW CAKE!

Chums! The time has finally come for the much-anticipated Rainbow Cake tutorial! This is how to make Rainbow Cake in the UK!

This is not a cake for the fainthearted! It contains a LOT of sugar, and a LOT of artificial colouring. It's the sort of thing I almost certainly wouldn't have been allowed to eat as a child - but now that I'm a grownup I can go absolutely WILD and bake whatever I want. Stickin' it to the maaaan.

Rainbow Cake

I made this cake for my beautiful friend Tara (who does beautiful art which you can see here) because it was her birthday. Roughly speaking, I followed the Martha Stewart recipe (which she got from somewhere else, but that's the internet, guys!), but I'll take you through what I did!

Rainbow Cake Ingredients Food Colouring

So let's start with ingredients! Obviously, Martha Stewart's recipe is American, so I had to substitute with ingredients I could find in England! I also converted all of the American measurements (cups, etc) into Metric measurements, using the wonders of Google.
Here's what I used:
* 360g (but let's be realistic, more like 400g) of Plain Flour.
* 4 teaspoons of baking powder.
* Half a teaspoon of salt.
* 250g of unsalted butter.
* 400g of white caster sugar. (1. That's an unHOLY amount of sugar, even once I reduced the amount. 2. I usually use golden caster sugar but you want the mixture for this cake to be as white as possible so that the rainbow colours shine through better, so I'd recommend white caster sugar here!)
* 5 egg whites.
* 350ml of milky milk. Skimmed or semi-skimmed is best.
* 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Not the lovely natural stuff with a syrupy texture and brownish colour. Remember, this cake is in no way natural!

Last but not least, the food colourings. These were a bit of a mission for me! I live in London, but there still appear to be less than a handful of shops that sell proper gel food colouring. I've made rainbow cakes before that have come out lacklustre and dull, despite the fact that I'd added the best part of a whole bottle of liquid food colouring! Our traditional English food colourings, whilst lovely and nostalgic in their little bottles, do not produce the bright colours you can get from American gel colours. I've tried the 'Silver Spoon' gel colours too, and they don't even come close to these 'Sugar Flair' wonders. Now, you can get them on the internet, but I made a trek to Chelsea, to visit the Jane Asher Sugarcraft shop. It's well worth a visit, if you are in the area and love cakey fun.

For the icing, you'll need:

* 500g of butter.
* 1kg of icing sugar.
* Sugar Flair 'super white'

Let's make this bloody cake then.

cake mix
cakey

Oh, I ought to mention at this point, that if you have a hand whisk, your life will be a million times easier when making this cake! Unfortunately, I do not have such luxurious items, so I did it the old fashioned way - with a wooden spoon! So, make sure your butter is lovely and soft, and mix it all up with your sugar, until it looks like a big yellowy play-dough ball!

eggwhite
cake batter

Your next move, is to separate the whites and the yolks of your five eggs. We only need the whites, because we want the cake mix to be as white as possible. Then, mix it up with your buttery, sugary joy - until it is gooey and combined!

vanilla

Then add the vanilla extract. Daintily.

Photobucket

Set aside your goo, and focus on the powdery ingredients for a moment. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. There you go.

Photobucket

This next bit is a little more tricky. Sift a bit of your flour mixture into your goo. Mix it up. Next, pour some of your carefully measured milk in. Mix it up. Then go back and put more of your flour mixture in. Keep alternating milk and flour until everything is smooth. Once that's done, divide your mixture into SIX BOWLS. As equally as you possibly can. Round about now, turn your oven on to preheat. (180 degrees celcius, gas mark 4, 350 degrees fahrenheit)

purple cake blue cake
yellow cake red velvet cake

Once you've divided it up into the different bowls, you can get to the super fun bit of mixing in your colouring! Start off with a tiny, tiny bit, and mix it like hell, until your mixture is pretty! Then add more! Keep going until it's really bright. Here are just four of the six colours I made. It had started to get dark outside by this point, so the colour doesn't look as amazing as it would have in daylight. Ah well.
Grease your tins with butter. You may have to improvise, and do it one layer at a time like I did, as I only have one round cake tin. It just means you will be baking for a long time. Fortunately, because each layer is very thin, they do bake quickly! They will take roughly 15 minutes, but I always check by sticking a skewer in and seeing if it comes out 'clean'. I recommend a cake tin with a bottom that pushes out, as it makes cake removal so much easier!

Photobucket

Whilst your cakes are baking, get started on the icing. This is going to involve creaming together roughly 500g of butter with a kilogram of icing sugar, give or take. You will need a LOT of icing. I weighed the cake when I'd finished, and it was about 3kg in total. Butter icing is naturally an appetising yellowish colour, but as I said before, natural is not what we want in this cake! I added Sugar Flair's "Super White" powder, which does magically make icing so much whiter! It's really cool. The key with buttercream icing is to play it by ear and keep adding icing and/or butter until it is the right consistency for you. I ended up making more as I didn't have enough to cover the whole cake. Take your cakes out of the oven, and LET THEM COOL! Never put buttercream icing on a warm cake, or everything will be ruined forever.
When they are cool, start to stack them. Start with the purple one on the bottom, followed by a layer of icing. Follow it with the blue layer, and then more icing. Each layer of icing should be lovely and thick. Keep sandwiching the cakes together in rainbow order, finishing with the red one. When you've got your amazing cake tower, cover the top and the sides in the remaining buttercream icing. Then, remove several shelves from your fridge so that you can store the monstrosity overnight.

rainbow cake
rainbow cake rainbow cake
Piece of cake

So there you have it. A mammoth post about rainbow cake! It was a slog to make, and I'd really recommend doing it with a friend, because it would be good fun and also cut down the making time a lot! Baking with friends is the best kind of baking. Give it a go. If you've got any problems or something isn't clear, leave me a comment and I'll try to help you as best I can. Happy Baking, chums! If you've managed to survive that mammoth baking session, why not have a go at these CAKE POPS I made last April!?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Belated Eurovision Post!

Owing to the fact that my Teacher Training dissertation is due in on Friday, I've been holed up for what feels like a million years! I've had these photos all ready to go for ages, but I haven't been able to sit down and write a post.
That said, I probably shouldn't be writing this now, but I've left this long enough, and I really need to stop making excuses - feel free to slap me virtually on the (virtual) wrists, if that's what floats your boat!
On to the show! For those of you who do not know what Eurovision is, it is a song competition that's been held every year since 1956. The countries allowed to compete are primarily European countries as you might expect, although there are a few non-European countries allowed to compete. Whilst some countries seem to take this competition really seriously, a great many of the acts could very easily be described as 'comedy' songs. On the whole, the spirit of Eurovision is about cheesy, fun, outlandish, 'Eurotastic' songs. Here are some of my favourites from the last few years:



I could spend this entire post linking you to a plethora of youtube clips of various Eurovision songs, writing about how much I love them, and lamenting the fact that Eurovision is over for another year (In case you didn't notice, I love Eurovision a LOT), but I think that I ought to move on to show you my outfit.

In honour of my favourite Eurovision entry of all time, I came up with my closest approximation to the outfit worn by Lena Meyer-Landrut for Eurovision 2010. Oh okay, I'll link you to ONE MORE video. Fine... if I must...
(This doesn't show the entire song, but you get the gist, I'm sure!) Lena is an absolute beaut' and we were all obsessed with her at university for quite some time after this particular Eurovision... So here is my take on Lena's "LBD" look:
I look pretty damn moody in this picture, don't I? In actuality, I was probably just trying to focus my eyes without my glasses on! My LBD isn't as sexy as Lena's, what with it being from the H&M basics range, and being essentially a long black T-Shirt, but when it was new, it was quite fitted!
And there's ma sexeh face! If you remember, I have recently purchased some lovely new makeup, and this was simply another photo of me trying said makeup on, for our Eurovision PARTY! Dan and I invited our lovely friends Emma and Other Dan over for Euro-themed food and fun. Designing a Eurocentric menu was pretty difficult, as so much of the cuisine of mainland Europe is very integrated into our every-day meals, and so it was hard work finding stuff that felt like party-food and felt Eurotastic! Eventually, it ended up being a mish-mash (Sorry, Antipasto of various European/Middle Eastern foods, accompanied by Mojitos - I know, they aren't ACTUALLY Spanish, but Shhh!!!). We divided Europe into categories of 'Mediterranean', Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and 'Middle East' (a nod to Azerbaijan, the host country for this year!). The highlight was probably the baked Camembert we ate in honour of France... the low point for me might have been the very oily stuffed Aubergine from a tin...
I created 'score cards' (Yes I know, I'm a big geek) and then I forced everyone to fill them in. This one is Dan's. I think that the gaps were when he was making mojitos for the rest of us! The categories were 'Artist Aesthetic' (a combination of 'Are they physically attractive?' and 'Has an effort been made with their costume?'), 'Background Aesthetic' (use of setpieces, pyrotechnics, light shows, props, etc.), 'Music' (speaks for itself really - did we like the song?), 'Lyrics' (points were awarded for gems such as Moldova's classic "You do not know how looks the trumpet"), 'Eurotasticism' (my own creation that simply asks you, "Is this fun, cheesy, over the top, and quintessentially 'Eurovision'?") and the final category was just an overall "What did you think?" sort of affair. I love making scorecards... SUCH FUN!

*SPOILER ALERT*

Sweden won Eurovision 2012, and I think the song was super Eurotastic, and a well-deserved win. The UK came second from bottom, which was a disappointment, but there you go. Can't win everything I suppose! It was a great night, and I can't wait for next year's Eurovision!

Here's the winning entry:


Stay tuned for cat-updates, folks!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Romance

Salut toutlemonde!

Well, I am desperately trying to complete two french essays before i go out tonight to see a french film: Les Chansons D'Amour . I am really excited about seeing this film, as it has one of my favourite actresses in it (Ludivine Sagnier), and it is a musical!!! So all in all, i am having a bit of a french themed day. I just wish i hadn't left ALL of my homework until after New Year... and internet procrastination is my downfall.

On the subject of new year, I had a good one in the end, although theings were looking rough at one point. I was meant to be spending it in the village/town where my dad lives, with him, and my baby brother and sister. But I was getting more and more stressed out with the children, and with my life-plans (to convert to Judaism, marry a Hindu, and bring up several delightfully mixed race children) being shot to pieces by well meaning family friends, that I eventually upped and left, getting the first train I could to an even more remote village, where I was invited to a party at my friend Tasha's house. It was a really funny night, with some top quotes to enter into my Quote Book.
We weren't wearing hats for the entire evening, but they did come into the party equation for some reason. nobody really remembers why!

Christmas was good. I split my time between mother's and father's. (Oh the joys of divorce!) and of course received some pretty good presents. Lots of makeup, and some clothes, which is really what I wanted, so was pleased on that front. However, I did have to eat TWO christmas dinners, due to both parents insisting on being the one who cooked me my christmas meal... Neither of them know that the other one did, and I suppose I intend to keep it that way!

I have been discovering other people's blogs too, which has made me feel a bit like my blog isn't all that good! It doesn't really have a point to it, and I don't think anyone reads it!

So, back to my french essay on «Les éffets des progrès en génétique». I shall post a blog about Les Chansons D'Amour at some point. I really hope it is good!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

My 18th Birthday- 'tis the season to be jolly!

On the 21st of December it was my birthday! I had my first ever party. Loads of pictures were taken, but I haven't managed to get my hands on many of them yet, I am afraid. Quite a few of my friends brought their instruments along and we had lots of jamming. It was great. Patrick and I played 'Hallelujah' by Jeff Buckley, and we also played Scarborough fair, and some others. I received some amazing presents from my friends too, including
  • felt tips,
  • a teapot for one,
  • scarves,
  • hats,
  • mittens,
  • biscuits,
  • mugs...
  • a CD: 'The Magic Position' by Patrick Wolf (check him out!)
  • a top,
  • my Evenstar pendant! (yes yes, i am a Lord of the Rings geek!)
  • and of course, my Dress! Elbe made it for me!!!
My dad gave me some red converse, and my mum and her boyfriend gave me some perfume. 'Flower' by Kenzo.

After the party, Kim, Tasha, Elbe, Tilly, Kat, Hannah, Alice, Zoe, Becca, Dan and Richard all went to Pablo's for pizza, and after that, i went for my first legal pub-drink. I felt all grown up! Becca gave me money to get Pear Cider, and beer, and we all sat outside. Unfortunately, we got moved along because I was the only one with ID, so that was a bit annoying. The bar-guy did give us plastic cups to be going along with though!!

here are a few pictures: I don't think the evening could have gone any better! although the day was a bit ropey, as our car broke down in the middle of the motorway, and it was mightily stressful!!!

In other news:

Elbe managed to get us second row tickets to see 'The Mighty Boosh' in November! And I got another university offer. Cardiff wants me to get two Bs and a C! wowee!