Thursday, 10 April 2014

Musical Thursdays | The Burning Hell

The Burning Hell are evidence that Canada is not the musical wasteland it is sometimes thought to be.  The band is primarily made up of musician Mathias Kom, who is joined by various contributors apparently whenever he sees fit.

They've been producing music since 2006 but I only heard of them last week thanks to 6 music!   Latest album People was released back in May 2013 and is 43 minutes of indie folk joy.  Have a listen with the handy Spotify widget below:


Official site / Facebook / Bandcamp

Monday, 31 March 2014

Monthly Finds / 31.3.14 / Two Headed Calf, Crochet Ghosts, Sodabread,Beautiful Chickens and Colourgasm

Maybe my tastes are slightly peculiar but I really enjoyed this video; a dissection of a two headed calf. Don't watch if you're squeamish.

Follow The Brain Scoop for more cool stuff!

Really love Roald Dahl quotes, and this is a particular favourite:

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”

Roald Dahl

Finally got my act together and started on making sour dough bread.  This starter recipe seems to be doing the trick.  It is a bit like having a very quiet pet.

This skull bottle may well be making its way into my drinks cabinet.

These crocheted pacman ghosts are kinda pointless but I like them anyway.

Scroll down and enjoy the colourgasm.

Have you ever seen a chicken beauty pageant?

These monster frogs are intriguing and strangely pretty.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Musical Thursdays | Boy & Bear

This band are so good you would barely guess they are Australian!

Their folky indie sound is right up my street and sounded as perfect on a cold February in Shoreditch as it would on a sunny festival afternoon.

There have been some accusations of them sounding like Mumford & Sons which I choose to ignore, preferring to compare them to Noah and the Whale.

Listen to: Southern Sun.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Finds / 8.3.14 / Puppies, Spider Jewellery, Dresses and DIY

Does sex affect your athletic performance?

I love love love this dress which is down to £15 at Joy.  I'm not sure how many bright blue dresses a girl needs but I already have 3.

I've been searching for a spider brooch for ages,  and this one is super cool.

I've been working on making this headband in a pretty turquoise wool.  It is taking forever though as I'm very slow at knitting and my needles are pretty skinny. Got a whole set coming in the post though.

If you run a website or blog of any kind, this post about free image resources is indispensable.

These DIY ear cuffs are totally on my crafting to do list.

Puppy pile!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Musical Thursdays | Speedy Ortiz

I recently went to see Speedy Ortiz at Birthdays in Dalston.

 The venue is a bit of a hell hole if I'm honest; boiling hot, over priced beer, crowds of hipsters and mediocre acoustics. Also, being 5'1" I am used to not seeing much at gigs. But when friends a foot taller than me can't see the stage across a tiny room, there's got to be something wrong!

 Anyway, Speedy Ortiz are a grungy female fronted American indie band. I wouldn't typically say I'm a fan of grunge but having given both albums a fair few listens I'm starting to change my mind.  They do actually do a pretty good job of playing live - despite the problems with the venue and feeling exhausted that evening, I actually really enjoyed seeing them.

Listen to: American Horror, Tiger Tank

Monday, 3 March 2014

Gin and Jewellery for Save the Children

Last week I combined two of my favourite things with a good cause.  To mark the launch of a new phase of Save the Children's No Child Born to Die campaign, Make Thrift London hosted a swishing event!

 We each brought along at least 3 accessories that we no longer wanted, laid them out on a table and proceeded to swap goodies.

Swishing treasures waiting for a new home.
I'm rather pleased with my finds; a sparkly insect brooch, a 'hand' necklace, a little leather bracelet and a colourful bag.
 We also enjoyed some delicious gin cocktails and cup cakes, handmade by Daisy, while we learnt about Save the Children's work.

Around the world, 1 million babies die in their first day of life and 2.9 million die in their first month.  Many of these deaths are totally preventable, so the campaign is for all babies to be born with the support of a midwife by 2025.  That kind of change won't come about over night, so the charity are asking world leaders to commit to a 5 point Newborn Promise plan to make it happen!  You can sign a petition asking David Cameron to get involved.

Have you ever been swishing? Would you swish for charity?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Evans & Peel Detective Agency, Earl's Court

Last weekend I was lucky enough to visit Evans & Peel Detective Agency, a fancy bar in Earl's Court.  I'm not usually a fan of themed pubs so I was a little sceptical about making the trip across London.

Fortunately it was well worth it.  Evans & Peel is a quirky delight!

Hidden behind an unassuming side door, your detective experience starts with an interrogation about the misdemeanours of a member of your party.  In my case, the birthday boy was accused of having indecent images and using them to blackmail people!

Then the fun really begins with an extensive cocktail menu and a range of smoked bar foods.  We shared a platter of mini burgers which turned out to be surprisingly filling and attempted to work through the list of cocktails.  We didn't manage to try them all but I did enjoy a delicious beetroot based number, and another marmalade flavoured one with a frog spawn like consistency.  Both were much better than they sound - honest.

Our booking was just for 2 hours - it seems to get very busy on Friday and Saturday nights.  I'd like to have stayed a little longer and will definitely be back again.
310c Earl's Court Road, London SW5 9BA
020 7373 3573

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Learning to Bookbind with Make, Thrift London.

I love a good craft - making something with just my hands and some imagination is so satisfying, and much more productive than staring at the TV all evening.

When my friend Daisy asked me if I'd be interested in doing one of her bookbinding classes I jumped at the chance.  I did her stage 1 class in the Autumn and loved it!  The little notebook I made that day is still empty because it looks so perfect as it is.  I can't bare to spoil it. I did however, find the time to make a bigger version for my other half for Christmas.  I'm not quite sure he appreciates the time that went in to it but never mind!

Finished cover and signatures.

Last weekend it was time for stage 2.   This time we were going to use multiple 'signatures' (groups of folded pages) and try stitching them directly into the cover.  And instead of cutting our own cover out of cardboard, we were recycling food boxes.  My book started life as a box of instant mushroom soup!

We started by choosing from Daisy's extensive selection of wrapping paper.  I went for a colourful floral print for the cover with a smaller yellow for the inside.  Then we cut our boxes to size and carefully covered them with the paper.  I'm a bit of a clumsy lady so it was great to have Daisy keeping a close watch.  Her perfectionist eyes don't miss a thing!

The inside is just as pretty as the outside!

The delicate task of measuring and punching holes in the spine took us quite a while, and then we choose the paper for our pages and began cutting them to size.   I decided to use 2 sheets of brown paper and 2 sheets of white paper for each of my 10 signatures, but we also had ledger paper and graph paper to choose from.  I felt that with my busy cover it'd be best to keep the pages clean and simple.

Daisy also showed me how to put little envelopes in to the book! Don't they look cute?

An envelope waiting to be stitched in to the book

By this point our 3 hours were up - I think we got a bit distracted by all the herbal tea and chatting!  So we'll be arranging another date to stitch the pages in.  

I'm planning to use mine as a mini holiday scrap book but the possibilities are endless.  They'd make great birthday or Mother's Day gifts, and I'm planning to make one for all my favourite recipes.

Daisy runs loads of evening and weekend craft workshops at Alfie's Antiques in Marylebone.   Maybe I'm a little biased because she's my friend but she's a great teacher - very knowledgeable and patient with clumsy students like myself.  And the tea is always flowing freely when she's around!

Take a look at her website for full workshop listings (I've got my eye on the dip dye tights one).  You should also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Hijacking Valentine's Day with the Craftivist Collective

Like many people I think Valentine's Day is at worst a lot of pressure and expense and at best an excuse to buy nice chocolate.  An overpriced meal in a crowded restaurant is not my idea of a romantic night and I could do without tacky ill fitting Valentine's undies thankyouverymuch.

So I was very happy to read Craftivist Collective's post about hijacking V-Day.   The idea is to remind ourselves to show some love to the world and each other. No arguing with that sentiment.

This year Valentine's Day fell on a Friday, when I help run my Guide group.  It made perfect sense to get the girls involved too!

We carefully decorated some cards with crafty bits and a heart design by Tatty Devine for Craftivst Collective, and made a little Valentine's gift.  I made the bracelet in the pics but the girls also made cute hair clips and brooches.   On the inside we placed a letter from the Craftivists encouraging the reader to show their love for the world by brightening someone else's day and by thinking about climate change.

After the meeting we left our cards in public places to be found by a lucky Valentine.  Mine went on the escalators at Euston station - I hope whoever found it appreciated it!

Have you ever taken part in craftivism?  Would you try it?

Sunday, 5 January 2014

DIY Tapas Night for an Easy and Yummy Dinner Party

A stunning combination of a love of eating and a series of Spanish holidays inspired me to host a tapas evening to kick off our NYE celebrations.  Surprisingly it went very well - the preparation was stress free, the food was very tasty and it acted as an excellent base to the more alcoholic second stage of the night.

Definitely a win from me, and here's how we did it:

Tapas Menu and Recipes

- Paella
- Tortilla (Spanish Omelette)
- Espinacas y garbanzos (Spinach and chickpeas)
- Patatas Bravas

Paella (Source: Back of Sainsbury's Paella Rice box, plus modifications by me)

1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
Chorizo, diced
2 or more garlic cloves
1 onion or 2 spring onions
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
Frozen peas, as much as you like
King Prawns
200g paella rice
650ml veg/fish stock or boiling water


1. Fry the onion and garlic until soft.
2. Add the chorizo, paprika, turmeric, rice and pepper.
3. Stir and heat for about 3 minutes.
4. Add the stock and simmer slowly for 10 minutes. Do not stir. Sometimes I like to add the stock a little at a time, but make sure your pan does not dry out if you do this.
5. Add the prawns and peas to the pan (you can arrange the prawns neatly if you are feeling fancy).
6. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes.  The rice should be soft and covered with a thin sheen of tasty stock, and of course the prawns should be cooked through.
7. Serve and enjoy!

Tortilla (Source: Adapted from  Delia Smith on BBC Food)


4 eggs
Dash of milk
Butter or oil


1. Peel and slice your potatoes.
2. Steam the potato slices for about 10 minutes.  Not all recipes recommend this but I think it speeds up the final cooking time, and no one wants to eat raw potato)
3. Break your eggs into a bowl, add a dash of milk and whisk.
4. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan.
5. Fry the chopped onion.
6. Add your potato to the pan, then cover with your eggy mixture.
7. Fry on a medium heat for a few minutes, then turn down to the lowest heat and leave to cook uncovered for about 30 minutes.
8. Either turn the tortilla over to cook both sides, or cheat like me and stick it under the grill.
9. Cut into thick slices and enjoy!

Espinacas y Garbanzos (Source: Smitten Kitchen)


Spinach (frozen or fresh)
1 Carton Chopped Tomatoes
1 Can Chickpeas
2 Slices of Bread
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Paprika


1. Cut the crusts off your bread and cut the remaining slices in to squares (approx 1 cm).
2. Heat a knob of butter in a pan.
3. Add your bread cubes, garlic, onion, cumin and black pepper.
4. Fry until the bread is crispy on the outside, then blend in a food processor or with a hand blender.
5. Add your chickpeas and tomatoes to the pan.
6. Add the paprika.
7. Stir it all together.  It will look a bit ugly at this stage but trust me - it'll all turn out fine.
8. You can add tomato puree for a more tomatoey flavour.  You may need to add a bit of water if it is too thick.
9. Put in your spinach.  I just eyeballed the amount.  The more spinach the better in my opinion!
10.  When the spinach has wilted and it all mixed in with the tomatoey chickpeas, serve and enjoy.

Patatas Bravas (Adapted from BBC Good Food)


Passata (sieved tomatoes)
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Chilli flakes or powder
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar
Fresh parsley


I want to be honest here and let you know that this recipe is ok but it could be better - I will try again!

1. Chop and fry an onion.

2. Add the garlic, tomatoes, paprika, chilli, salt and sugar.

3. Simmer for 10 minutes.  Set aside for 24 hours if you have been organised enough to do it in advance. If you are like me, leave it for about an hour till your guests turn up and get hungry.

4. Peel and roast your potatoes in oil for about 40-50 minutes at 180'C

5. Reheat your sauce, pour over the roasted potatoes and serve with a garnish of chopped parsley.

Serve with: Spanish Orange Wine, Manzanilla, or your favourite red wine.  A green side salad if desired.