Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Left-over soup

After the Christmas chicken (yes, I jumped off the turkey train this year) I decided to make a soup from the left-overs. That meant putting the brussels, potatoes, parsnips, chipolatas, chicken and a couple of large bones in a pot with some water and a bit of stock cube. I just heated the whole lot up for about 20 minutes, took out the bones, and whizzed the soup up with the hand-held blender. It was so tasty and comforting and after all that cooking effort from the day before - so easy! Why do we always make recipes seem so complicated?

Friday, 25 December 2009


Happy Christmas to everyone. Wishing you a very merry Make Do Christmas, and may 2010 mend hearts, minds and purse strings! x

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Christmas craft day

Today I am joining the fashion friends down the road for a Christmas Craft day. The idea is to make Christmas garlands and scented teacup candles. The pressure is on - as I've been told the wreath-making is serious floristry - something I'm not sure I fancy! However, I'm willing to give it a go (aided I hope by a glass or two of mulled wine). This is the sort of thing I'm meant to create - if I get anywhere close I'll be happy! First, a trip to Deptford market to see if there are any suitable flowers, and then a run up to the local park to forage for berries and glossy green leaves. Given the snow, it should feel very Christmassy - and extremely cold.

Well - just so as you know - I loved making my wreath! I had no idea flower arranging would be so absorbing - another new activity to take on board for 2010! The one one on the blue door is my first attempt - very natural, and made pretty much entirely of greenery from the local heath. Oh - I did include a few berries from someone's holly bush - naughty of me really - but I got my come uppance when the owner of said bush walked past and saw me merrily chopping away with my secateurs (in my defence it was on the communal side of the driveway!) Fortunately, with a Christmas tree tucked beneath his arm, and glowing with the festive spirit, I was permitted to go home with a few srprigs in my basket. That and a few chillies gave my wreath a welcome hit of red.

Ennio Marcheto

My run up to Christmas started last night with a trip to see this incredible mime artist at the Royal Festival Hall in London with my fashion friends Robert and Paula. I purposely hadn't read up on Ennio Marcheto, as I'd been warned not to spoil the surprise of his performance. I'm glad I followed that advice, as I was totally blown away by this crazy mix of dress-up doll, pantomime, paper magic, mime and mimicry. Imagine a middle-aged man dressed in an array of 2D paper costumes, that with a flip of the hand transform into something else, and then something else again. The lightening changes enable Ennio to morph into a string of characters some of whom are abruptly juxtaposed - allowing him to poke blatant fun at certain personalities. Someone said he's like a "living cartoon" - a perfect description. I also loved the simplicity of the idea: a man, some music, and his paper ensembles. It's comedy stripped down to its underclothes - Ennio's!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Guardian Article

I've just written a piece for Guardian on-line about my Make Do And Mend trip - with some simple ideas for quick and easy stocking-fillers. I have to say, I'm quite surprised by the harsh response of some readers. Ok, none of the present ideas involve "craft" in the true sense of the word, but for those who don't have skills learned over time, these sorts of basic projects can fit the bill. They can also reel-in beginners and get them interested. Believe it or not, tie purses, chains with little charms on, and sparkly headbands are all available in the shops starting at about £20! So obviously - there are people out there that appreciate these types of gift - and if you're short of money and need a few bits and pieces, I think they fit the bill. I'm all for intricate skills in the right place. As a professional milliner who's worked with some of the best(Stephen Jones, Marc Jacobs) and trained over many years, I could easily dazzle people with my technical ability - but I'm not proud and I'm not for showing-off unecessarily either. What's wrong with something simple and fun from time to time? I suspect craft snobbery! Show a little Christmas spirit you bloggers!

Newsnight final

See my last film in the series on this link - just click here to get an overview of the whole trip.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Father Tom - the Make Do Monk

My father was a monk - so I have some inkling of what the lifestyle might involve...but still I wasn't prepared for how it might really feel. During my Make Do And Mend tour around Britain for BBC Newsnight - I spent a weekend with Father Tom Cullinan - ex Ampleforth - and a real make-do-and-mender. Get a look at life with a modern-day monk on this link - just click.