Lemon and Elderflower Royal Wedding Cake (aka Sussex Violet​ Cake – recipe | Champagne Twist​

No sooner had I posted my predictions for Spring food trends 2018, Meghan and Harry announced that their wedding cake was going to be made with lemon and elderflower!

So not only am I going to call it and say that Champagne Twist is the social media network to get accurate predictions in regards to anything food, arts and crafts, I’m now going to reveal my version of the wedding cake.  Enjoy!

Lemon and Elderflower Cake (aka the Sussex Violet Cake)

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 8oz butter, softened
  • 8oz golden caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8oz self-raising flour, sifted
  • zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

For the glaze

  • 1 tbsp elderflower syrup or cordial (I used Ikea but would also recommend Belvior)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar (reserving 1 tbsp for decoration)

plus fresh edible flowers such as violets, roses, elderflowers, for decoration.

original picture source - Kensington​ Palace twitter
original picture source – Kensington​ Palace twitter

I used violets in tribute to Violets Cakes and the creator of the original Royal Wedding cake for Meghan and Harry, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  In a nod to the wedding couple, I also renamed my version of the cake the Sussex Violet cake.

Method:

For the cake –

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
  2. Line a 20cm round tin with parchment paper.
  3. With a food mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale in colour, and light and fluffy in texture.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in the sugar-butter mix in between.
  5. Fold in the flour and lemon zest until well incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and place on the middle shelf of the video.
  7. Bake for 45-55 mins. To test if the cake is baked, use a skewer and poke it through the middle of the cake. It should come out clean when removed.
  8. When baked, remove from the oven and set aside. Add the glaze at this point (instructions below) still in the tin.
  9. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire cake rack to cool completely.

For the glaze –

  1. While the cake is still hot, mix the syrup, granulated sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl.
  2. Poke a few holes at random intervals through the top of the cake, with a skewer.
  3. With a teaspoon ‘feed’ the cake with the glaze, making sure to cover the entire top of the cake. The glaze should soak through quickly and will leave a sugary crust.  Leave the cake in the tin for about 10 mins.
  4. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When the cake has completely cooled, sprinkle the reserved granulated sugar on top, and scatter violets or your edible flowers of choice on top. Serve with a cup of tea, perhaps Wedding Blend from Fortnums or Clipper’s mint and green tea.
Lemon and elderflower cake recipe - Champagne Twist
Lemon and elderflower cake recipe – Champagne Twist

Congratulations Meghan and Harry.

 

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National Tea Day – 21st April 2018 | Champagne Twist

creative | London | lifestyle-4.pngHello,

Can you believe it’s that time of year already? Yes, National Tea Day is coming up this Saturday and as, for me at least, it’s one of the most important days of the year, I collated a tea quotes video for your enjoyment.

More tea-related treats coming up this week, but for now, grab yourself a cup of your favourite brew and indulge in some tea wisdom. Enjoy!

 

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Food trends for 2018 : Update | Champagne Twist

Well, what do you know? No sooner had I posted my article about the top 5 food and drink trends for 2018, it was announced that a London bakery was picked to make the wedding cake of the year. Meghan Markle and Henry Wales on the day they exchange vows, will be cutting their wedding cake flavoured with lemon and wait for it … elderflowers!

Yes, as I predicted, floral flavours are set to be one of the major food and drink trends this year.

elder-1440094_1920

I may have to wander to Hackney and sample the baked delights Violet Bakery has to offer.  Well, someone has to make sure the cake is perfect for the Royal Wedding.

Megs and Harry, you can both thank me later. I’m still waiting for my invite, btw!

Video​: Top 5 food and drink trends 2018 | Champagne Twist

pexels-photo-434230.jpeg

Elderflower, lavender, rose, chive blossoms, violet, hibiscus and pansy. Prepare to see these floral favourites and more, everywhere, from cakes to teas, from cocktails to salads.

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Champagne Twist On Vacation: Barbados Series Preview​ now Live!

It’s finally here, the series preview of my new travel series.

The new series, Champagne Twist On Vacation: Barbados starts news week. There will be reviews, blog and vlog posts, travel guides and tips and so much more.

It all starts next week, so subscribe and make sure you don’t miss out!

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5 Food and Drink You Should Look Out For in Spring/Summer 2018 | Champagne Twist

The Beast from the East may be making a snowy return, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking forward to the super hot summer weather* and the delicious foodie treats that will be heading their merry way to an eatery near you.

*May not be strictly true, but we can dream.

1 Mocktails.

pexels-photo-613037.jpeg

As diners steer more and more from alcoholic drinks and seek healthier alternatives to sugar-laden soft drinks, mocktails are fast becoming the trendsetter in the drinks industry.  Using colourful and unusual fruits and vegetables as the base, drinks are set to be not only healthy but fun too.

2 Caribbean cuisine.

IMG_20180225_113740

There are been so many dawns and false starts with this culinary masterpiece, but 2018 is set to be the year, finally, for West Indian food and drink.  This oft-overlooked cuisine is making a mark this year as the food to look out for. And it’s not all coconut-based either.

3 Tea.

pexels-photo-220069.jpeg

Yes, of course, I was going to add this one, it’s my favourite after all. But tea as we know it is going to have a serious makeover in 2018 and not before time too. Herbal teas, fruit tea and even iced tea will all be on trend this summer.

4 Plant-based food.

pexels-photo-533360.jpeg

The trend for Vegan and Vegetarian food shows no sign of abating, as increasing numbers are seeking alternatives to meat-based diets. Who would have thought 10 years ago that beige food would be referred to meat pie!

5 Floral flavours.

pexels-photo-434230.jpeg

Elderflower, lavender, rose, chive blossoms, violet, hibiscus and pansy. Prepare to see these floral favourites and more, everywhere, from cakes to teas, from cocktails to salads.

 

 

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On Vacation​ – New Travel​ Series: Country Reveal | Champagne Twist

Hello,

So excited to finally reveal which country I visited. Take a look at the video below to find out. Did you guess correctly?

Also, the series preview will be posted on Tuesday followed by a weekly video series, featuring travel hints and tips, food, culture, history and a little adventure thrown in.  Stay tuned to find out more.

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Champagne Twist: On Vacation – New Travel​ Series – Coming Soon

pexels-photo-297755.jpeg

Hello,

It’s been a while since I posted, but there was a reason. A good reason.  I had been given the opportunity to do a little traveling and I thought I would blog about it.  The location will be revealed soon, but here are a few promo videos to give you a taste of what is to come.

A brand new YouTube series with corresponding blog posts will be published soon, so please stay tuned to make sure you don’t miss out.

 

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http://www.champagnetwist.com
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Wednesday Thinking: Are the Big 4 sewing pattern companies​ off trend? // Champagne Twist

WED THINK

Wednesday Thinking: Are the Big 4 sewing pattern companies off trend?

As many of you know, I love sewing, I adore sewing. I’m not a fan of clothes shopping per se because I find it difficult to find clothes in styles that fit and suit me. Hence, one of the many reasons why I love sewing.

But there is one hurdle when it comes to creating my own fashions. While the indie pattern industry is growing, the big four, long established and market dominating sewing pattern brands are slowly dying a death. It may seem a good thing at first, but in the long run, if these major pattern companies – McCalls, Butterick, Vogue and Simplicity – don’t change soon, it could spell the end of the sewing pattern industry as we know it.

 

When I heard about the possibility of making a cocktail party dress, showcasing my outfit at the Knitting and Stitching Show and following my favourite home seamstresses creating their unique versions, I was so excited, until I saw the patterns.

With a heavy heart I say this – but there simply wasn’t anything I felt passionate enough to make from the selection of patterns available for the challenge.  Some of the styles seemed born out of 1980 – and not in a good way.  Only one pair of trousers, a jacket with a pointed back hem and dresses that my grandmother said she wouldn’t wear, let alone spend time money and effort creating.

I felt all the more guilty because the idea behind the event is to raise money for the Eve Charity (click here for details). But, I couldn’t justify making a dress just for the event, that I knew I wouldn’t enjoy making or wearing, and would never wear again. This hardly encourages new-to-sewing folks to pick up a needle and thread.

Another major issue I had with the collection of patterns, was the non-existence of patterns for men. Last time I checked a) men wear clothes and b) men attend cocktail parties. This was a golden opportunity missed, to encourage the growing number of males who are taking up the hobby. It was as if there was a huge sign saying, “Boys Not Allowed”.

I also got the impression that these patterns were chosen in an attempt to boost sales, rather than to welcome newbies to a new skill set, or encourage more established sewists to stretch their skills. Some of the styles were 20-30 years behind the times and lacked modernity. When I look at the fashion magazines and Pinterest boards, I don’t see my style favourite reflected in patterns offered by the Big 4.

The most popular styles seem to be the classics created during the 1940s through to the 1960s. Thanks to films and television shows such as Down With Love, Ad Men, etc.  Shirt dress patterns, the Walk Away dress, the Mondrian dress are just 3 examples of styles that have sold successfully in recent years.

There is also still a severe lack of patterns for wheelchair users or those with physical disabilities.  All the patterns, in fact, were styled towards slim, average height, able-bodied women.

I normally buy PDF patterns from indie pattern designers because they are usually up to date trend-wise, and are easily adaptable to my height and shape. My last pattern purchase from the big 4 was actually a classic style shirt dress.  Even when there are 50% savings, I find it impossible to buy more than 2 patterns. The dated designs just are not that appealing to me, and to spend upwards of £15 for a single pattern that I would spend more money, time and effort to adjust, just takes away the joy of sewing.

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2nd Release Knitting & Stitching Show Ticket Giveaway​!

Hello everyone,

If you missed out on Sunday’s ticket giveaway, good news! I’ve secured a 2nd set of free tickets.

I have 3 more pairs of free tickets for the Knitting and Stitching Show, at Alexandra Palace.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 11.06.03.png

 

All you have to do to win 1 of 3 pairs of tickets –

  1. Follow me on this website (champagnetwist.com) and
  2. Subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow my Instagram account.

Then, to let me know you want a chance to win a pair of tickets, leave the following message in the comment box below:

“Dear Champagne Twist – I would like to go to the #knitnstitchshow @ Ally Pally on [INSERT DAY]”

There isn’t long, the show starts tomorrow and ends Sunday.

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Available Dates

  • Wednesday 11th October – 10am – 5pm 
  • Thursday 12th October (evening only) 3pm – 7pm
  • Friday 13th October  – 10am – 5.30pm
  • Sunday 14th October  – 10am – 5pm

 

Terms and Conditions

  • The giveaway is open from Tuesday 10th October 2017, 18.00hrs GMT, until Saturday 14th October 2017, 23.59hrs GMT.
  • 3 separate winners will be chosen on a first come, first served basis.
  • I will contact the winners, requesting names and addresses.
  • The winners’ details will be passed to the show organisers, and arrangements made for the winners to collect their tickets from the box office, at Alexandra Palace.
  • Sorry, this giveaway is only open to UK residents. However, there will be other giveaways soon.

BEST OF LUCK!

 

For more information about The Knitting and Stitching Show, please check out the following links:

The Knitting and Stitching Show, Official Website

Spring Knitting and Stitching Show – review 

 

 

 

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(GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED) – The Knitting and Stitching Show Tickets, Alexandra Palace // CHAMPAGNE TWIST

***** Giveaway Now Closed *****

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying your Sunday.

I have hinted about a special announcement for a little while, and I finally received confirmation yesterday afternoon, so now I’m able to share with you that I have 3 pairs of free tickets to giveaway for the forthcoming Knitting and Stitching Show.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 11.06.03.png

 

All you have to do to be in with a chance to win 1 of 3 pairs of tickets –

  1. Follow me on this website (champagnetwist.com) and
  2. Subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow my Instagram account.

Then, to let me know you want a chance to win a pair of tickets, leave the following message in the comment box below:

“Dear Champagne Twist – I would like to go to the #knitnstitchshow @ Ally Pally”

There isn’t long, you only have until 6pm tonight.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 11.08.11.png

Available Dates

  • Wednesday 11th October  – 10am – 5.30pm
  • Thursday 12th October (evening only) 3pm – 7pm
  • Friday 13th October  – 10am – 5.30pm
  • Sunday 14th October  – 10am – 5pm

 

Terms and Conditions

  • The contest is open from Sunday 8th October 2017, 13.00hrs GMT, until Sunday 8th October 2017, 18.00hrs GMT.
  • Once the contest is closed, 3 separate winners will be randomly chosen.
  • I will contact the winners, requesting names and addresses.
  • The winners’ details will be passed to the show organisers, and arrangements made for the winners to collect their tickets from the box office, at Alexandra Palace.
  • Sorry, this giveaway is only open to UK residents. However, there will be other giveaways soon.

BEST OF LUCK!

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 10.53.11

For more information about The Knitting and Stitching Show, please check out the following links:

The Knitting and Stitching Show, Official Website

Spring Knitting and Stitching Show – review 

The CT Show: Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, Olympia, London

 

 

 

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Great British Sewing Bee Live – Vogue Patterns Fashion Show, video now on YouTube | Champagne Twist

Hello,

I’ve just uploaded a new video, the Great British Sewing Bee Live – Vogue Patterns Fashion Show.

If you would like to see it, please click the link below –

There are more #GBSBLive videos on the way, so please stayed tuned, and subscribe to champagnetwist.com for further information. Thanks for reading and watching.

 

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The Great British Sewing Bee Live Event – videos // Champagne Twist

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 14.07.29

Hello,

If you are subscribed to my YouTube channel, you may have noticed a few new videos. Well, please stay tuned, as I upload more footage from the Great British Sewing Bee Live event, held at London’s ExCeL.

As a taster, here are 2 recently published videos.

There are more videos on the way, which will be published over the next couple of days, if my over worked computer can keep up!

Plus, I have a very special announcement to make over the next few days, so please subscribe, so that you don’t miss out on all the latest form Champagne Twist.

Thanks for reading and to all my new subscribers, a very warm welcome, hope you like it here in this little corner of the interweb 🙂

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What I brought at the Great British Sewing Bee Live event, ExCel London // Champagne Twist

Hello,

This is a short post about the items I purchased at the Great British Sewing Bee Live event at London’s ExCeL.

Simply Fabrics / The Textile Centre – Stand G14

ChampagneTwist.com
Fabric from Simply Fabrics / Textile Centre

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My first purchase was this amazing sequenced number – just over 1m for £10. I think I was influenced by the sparkly dresses showcased at the Vogue patterns fashion show, but hey, you can never have too many sequins, right?

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Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 22.52.54

I also purchased 2 lining fabrics, one to go with the sequins. Both for an amazing £2 per m.

 

Guthrie and Ghani – Stand F10

https://guthrie-ghani.co.uk/

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 22.56.26

Next came the this rather frivolous purchase, a vintage piece from the bargain bucket for £6. It’s about half a meter, so a little on the pricy side, but I’m thinking of making a head scarf or maybe a neck tie much like my Ghislaine Chelsea scarf a made a while back. If you have a better idea, please let me know 🙂

 

John James Needles – Stand E20

www.jjneedles.com

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Now for the essentials, which I think were a real bargain – all this for just £2. A metal thimble, to help protect my little digits while I hand sew, and a selection needles for various sewing tasks. Each bundle costs 50p! Even my bank manager couldn’t argue with that.

 

House of Tweed – Stand H27

http://house-of-tweed.co.uk

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My last purchase wasn’t much sewing related, but will prove to be a rather useful and stylish tool – a tweed hand bag and matching purse combo. The bag fits an A4 folder, has a number of roomy pockets, both external and internal. The purse has plenty of space for credit cards, notes and separate zipped compartment for coins. Total cost £30.  The bag is sold online for £39 and the purse for £25.  At the GBSB Live event, the purse was given free with purchase of the bag.  They had a fairly wide selection, so if you’re in the market for a new bag or purse, you could do a lot worse than visit this stall.

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Great British Sewing Bee Live – New YouTube video | Champagne Twist

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 14.07.29

Picture source: http://thegreatbritishsewingbeelive.com

Hello,

I’ve just published a new video on my YouTube channel, featuring footage of my trip to the inaugural Great British Sewing Bee Live event, at ExCel London.

Please take a look and comment either on my YouTube channel or here at ChampagneTwist.com.

A review of the event is coming soon and a ‘What I brought at the show’ video will be posted shortly.

Enjoy!

 

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Wednesday Thinking: Is Fenty Beauty the new business model we should all follow?

WED THINK

Is Fenty Beauty the new business model we should all follow?

Fenty Beauty - picture source Rihanna/Instagram
Fenty Beauty – picture source Rihanna/Instagram

Fenty Beauty, for those not in the know, is a new celebrity beauty brand by singer Rhianna. The music industry no longer commands the great revenue from album sales for popular musicians as it once did. World tours have become too much of an expensive risk for record companies to finance bands. So to supplement their income, and to boost their social profile, many artists have branched into other creative and business ventures, including the world of fashion and beauty. Examples include Beyonce’s Ivy Park, Robbie William’s Farrell, Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B., Pharell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club, Madonna’s Material Girl, Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green and Victoria Beckham with her eponymous label, to name just a few.

Many of the artists have applied their business savvy to their new ventures, with varying degrees of success. Of the above, only Beckham has made the most successful transition from popstar to fashion icon. However she has faced severe criticism for her ultra exclusivity in terms of product pricing, and the lack of models of colour for her catwalk shows and advertising. Beckham’s newest venture into makeup, a collaboration with Estée Lauder, whilst highly successful, again fails to cover the full range of skin tones.

So when news of yet another singer launching a new beauty range, I didn’t have much hope.

Then came the news that the range included no less than 40 shades of foundation, with reportedly more on the way.

Question – if a singer, who isn’t yet 30, with self admitted limited professional background in beauty, let alone the beauty industry, can somehow manage to produce a makeup range that includes 40 foundation shades, how come other beauty companies, some boasting over 100 years in existence, with a host of scientists, experts, managers, marketing specialists and beauticians, with millions if not billions of dollars in revenue at their disposal couldn’t manage it?

The instant success and sell out of the new Fenty Beauty range suggests that the big companies didn’t want to cater to people of colour.  It has been proven that Black women for instance, spend a higher percentage of their income on beauty products than women from other ethnicities. This despite the fact that they are statistically paid less than women of other skin colours. Further, products which are specifically designed and marketed for this demographic statistically cost more than the equivalent in the top brand ranges.

Excuses

One tried and tired excuse was the belief there wasn’t a sustainable market for Black makeup. Another popular excuse, that it was too expensive to develop a specialist beauty range for people of colour.

Fenty in less than 1 week of launch has shown up the big beauty brands, in their product development, marketing and advertising. Their attitude towards certain consumer groups has left a huge gap in the market for Rhianna to exploit, and I hope she keeps doing so. In fact, I would even suggest – ditch the music career and concentrate on beauty!

Fenty Beauty Picture source https://www.instagram.com/p/BYxS1QCFR3B/?taken-by=fentybeauty
Fenty Beauty Picture source https://www.instagram.com/p/BYxS1QCFR3B/?taken-by=fentybeauty

Rhianna’s brand has proved once and for all that catering to one minor section of the world’s population can only continue for so long. While there is a huge need to develop products and services for people of colour who have been for decades deliberately left out of the loop, my argument is there are only ever be 2 outcomes for Black Owned Businesses (BOB) in a market dominated by those, who for various reasons, don’t want to see BOBs flourish;

1) The BOBs fail as they run into financing issues because they can’t expand quick enough to accommodate the market, or

2) The dominate businesses find some way, legitimate or otherwise, to prevent the continued growth of BOBs, such as promising to use their resources to expand the brand, but after the takeover, they cash in on the Black Dollar and slowly run the original product or service down to the ground.

Rhianna has done something, which I am convinced could be the biggest change to business models since Adam Smith’s Economies of Scale.  Unlike other celebrity brands, Fenty Beauty did not simply follow established business norms, but challenged them, then bettered them. By focusing on diversity, individuality and inclusivity in terms of skin tone, Fenty Beauty has in a single stoke exploited the gaps unfilled by not only the beauty industry, but possibly every industry.

Major Beauty Leaders

7 companies, L’Oréal, Coty, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Shiseido, Johnson & Johnson and Estée Lauder between them own over 180 beauty lines. (Source http://uk.businessinsider.com/companies-beauty-brands-connected-2017-5). Yet between them, they’ve all spectacularly failed to adequately cater for the beauty needs of the Black consumer.

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Picture source: Skye Gould/INSIDER

The beauty brands, particularly the luxury sector, justify their high prices by their exclusivity. In fact exclusivity is often a key marketing tool, as it implies quality, luxury, scarcity. The result of course excluding the vast majority of the population based on their income, and indirectly contributing to racism, sexism, homophobia and even xenophobia.

Naturally, a makeup brand is never going to significantly contribute to world peace – but it can go some way to level the playing field. Fenty Beauty is by no means perfect. 40 foundation shades isn’t nearly enough to accommodate all skin shades. The current adverts features teens and 20 somethings, able bodied women, with a western cultural background. However, it’s important to remember that this is a brand in it’s infancy and can never hope to atone for everything that the major manufacturers have failed to do in just a week. That said, Fenty Beauty has smashed through many barriers and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

Exclusion is not the aspiration of Millennials. They want to be catered for as valued individuals in their own right regardless of income, social background, and of course skin colour. The sooner the big brands react to this the better, because if Fenty Beauty becomes the bench-mark business model, many of today’s top brands will lose a huge chuck of their current market share. Some may even think – serve them right.

What are your thoughts on the Fenty Beauty and it’s brand ethos? What do you think about the marketing strategy? Do you think this brand will stay the course, or will it go the way of so may other celebrity brands? Please like and comment below.

Thanks for reading.

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Why you need to visit Espace Gabrielle Chanel // Champagne Twist

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18970101/?claim=ajnqf3z2b73″>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Logo Gabrielle Chanel - champagnetwist.com
Gabrielle Chanel – Espace Gabrielle Chanel – Lamé ribbon – champagnetwist.com

If you’re a fashionista, a perfume enthusiast or just love anything to do with Chanel, by now you would have heard about Espace Gabrielle Chanel on Old Bond Street, in London’s rather smart Mayfair.

Espace Gabrielle Chanel, London - champagnetwist.com
Espace Gabrielle Chanel – 27, Bond Street, Mayfair, London, England, UK

If you’re studying Marketing, Business, Branding, Photography, Design, Styling, Fashion or any realted fields, you should make the time and effort to attend before it closes on 24th of September.  I will publish all the tips I’ve learnt in a separate post later this week.

Chanel - logo - Espace Gabrielle Chanel - champagnetwist.com
Chanel logo at the Space Gabrielle Chanel pop up, 27 Old Bond Street, Mayfair, London, England

Espace Gabrielle Chanel, is a remarkable feat of marketing, and you are sure to pick up tips, not just olfactory tips – and yes I admit I had to google that word! – how a brand works. I have been fortunate enough to attend the space a few times, and eery time I’ve attended, I have learnt something new.  Read my review of my first trip to the Espace here.

I have been able to practice my limited light photography, improved my video skills, learnt about the basics of olfactory and even about Gabrielle Chanel herself. While the jury is still out about the new perfume, the marketing has been nothing short of spectacular and if you’re wise, and happen to be in London, you should check out the Old Bond Street venue and enjoy a couple of hours of free education and entertainment. Oh, by the way, did I mention that it’s all free? Opportunities like these, the chance to learn some of the tricks of the trade from a high end, global luxury brand only comes around a very few times, and rarely ever free – so make the most of it while you can.

flatlay - gabrielle chanel - espace gabrielle Chanel - London - champagnetwist.com
Gabrielle Chanel – Sensorial Discovery – Espace Gabrielle Chanel, Bond Street, Mayfair, London – champagnetwist.com

Try to book a place on the Sensorial Discovery experience, (again it’s free) here, to learn more about the craft of perfume making and the background of the founder of the house of Chanel.

But in case you can’t make it, here’s a couple of video montages I made to give you an idea of the experience.

 

 

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Health Bloggers Community: Photography for Bloggers Workshop – Review

Event: – Health Bloggers Community: Photography for Bloggers Workshop

Venue: – SHOT, Bride Lane, London

Date: – 15th September 2017

The Ad

The event was billed as a,

…mix of theory and practical tasks, you will learn to take drool-worthy pictures and still-life shots with personality to truly master the art of taking photos for your blog and Instagram feed.’

So impressed with this statement, I signed up, and looked forward to a 3 hour long food photography class.

“Our partner SHOT.London will be providing you with their real, organic whole food treats to style, prop and experiment with… and of course, eat! We’ll have lots of food, props, and backgrounds for you to play with, so you’ll leave a pro photographer.”

Wow, we get to play with the food too? and then eat it? Plus there are props, backgrounds and I’m going to leave a pro photographer!!!

***Alert!*** – there is no way anyone, no matter how gifted you are, can start a class at 3pm and leave at 6pm a professional. And this class proved it, as I will explain later. The remainder of the ad continued …

“EVER WONDERED HOW YOU GET THAT INSTAGRAM PHOTO? HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT PHOTO POST OF YOUR TRIP TO BRIGHTON?

OR A PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT FOR YOUR ABOUT PAGE? YOU KNOW, THE ONE WITH THE PERFECT ANGLE, THE BEST LIGHTING AND JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF FILTER?

Wonder no more, as we have all the answers to your photography related questions. A few of the things you’ll learn in this workshop:

  • the basics of creating outstanding photos
  • how to find the right props
  • how to make the most of the lighting, and tools to help you
  • filters, editing and basic tricks to find your style

This is one workshop NOT to miss. So grab your ticket, dig out your camera and we’ll see you there!

About our Teacher:

Anna is a photographer with a passion for the health and fitness industry, this can include food, products or any sports that increase the heart rate generally making people healthier and happier.”

============

Disclaimer: the session was due to start at 3pm but due to various public transport issues (it was the day of the Parsons Green station bomb), I was unable to get to the class until 3.30pm.

The Reality

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

I arrived at the venue, SHOT. London, which is a small cafe style restaurant near Fleet Street, in East Central London. There were around 25 people at the class, in a space that ideally could comfortably seat no more than about 15 at best. The teacher, Anna, presented behind the counter, with the aid of a small laptop, which was difficult of those at the back of the class to see.

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

At around 3.50pm the attendees were invited to cross over the road to St. Bride’s Church, to take pictures of the food in the outdoor natural light.

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

The food was pre-packed in logoed plastic containers. It wasn’t made clear whilst I was there, if we could open the packaging or eat the contents later. The packages were not labelled, so I wasn’t certain if any of the food there was vegan or vegetarian.

SHOT. London food
SHOT. London

There wasn’t enough interaction or guidance between the teacher and some of the attendees. I didn’t feel particularly welcome and observed that Anna approached some of the attendees more readily than others.  Whether this was due to shyness on her part, I don’t know, however I didn’t feel as if we were all given the same amount of individual help.

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

This part of the class took about 45 mins to an hour. Followed by short review of a couple of the students work. Then came a flurry of tips on a broad rage of subjects, from selfies, portrait photography to Instagram and editing programs.

The class was meant to be a 3 hour long session, and had it not been for the intervention of the host, the teacher would have ended the class 30 minutes early.

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

There were no props provided as stated in the advert (see above text in blue), other than about 6 pre-packed plastic food boxes to share with 25 or so people in a confined space. There were no “backgrounds to play with” either, unless they counted the church.

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

Value for Money?

For just under £25, the price seemed like a bargain for a 3 hour session on food photography by an “experienced photographer”. In reality, it offered nothing more little from that advertised. Trying to see examples on a tiny laptop from a distance was impractiable, and 1 practical session where only a few were granted guidance from the teacher, frankly, unacceptable. I certainly did not feel like a professional photographer at the end.

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

As for being a workshop “not to miss”, I wish my train wasn’t delayed, but cancelled, as my afternoon would have been more productive. It’s with a heavy heart when I say, if this is an example of the type of classes run by H.B.C., I would strongly suggest you save your time, energy and money and avoid. This is the first of a new series of events hosted by H.B.C., so here’s hoping that this is a blip, rather than a pattern.

SHOT. London
SHOT. London

Overall

The session over promised in a number of areas and under delivered in so many ways. The venue was nice, but there were too many people in a confined area. Instead of a laptop, A4 sized pictures should have been handed round, so attendees could have a good look, and wouldn’t have to strain to see such a small screen from a distance.

It would have been a great move if handouts were provided, with ideas of how to progress afterwards. The interaction between the teacher and the attendees seemed uneven, which for me, added to the general negativity of the session.

Rating

For the rating, I thought long and hard about giving the class a zero out of 5. But in fairness,  I did learn a couple of new things, such a a new photo location and not to use the zoom feature on camera phones – just move closer to the subject. But these ‘tips’ simply didn’t warrant the ticket price or matched what turned out to be the over hyped and misleading advert.

I thought I would leave the class inspired. I left the class annoyed, disappointed, and a little hangry,

Rating 1 out of 5

1-star

 

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Wednesday Thinking: Is it OK for shops to sell used accessories as new? | Champagne Twist

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv
Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorial

The answer is no, right?

I have like most fashionistas been stalking the online sales and discovered a couple of cool, straw hats from a famous, high end, high street fashion store. (I have chosen not to name and shame this store … for now.) I purchased 1 immediately, and waited until funds were available to purchase the other.

Sadly by the time I saved up, the 2nd hat was sold out.

Then a couple of weeks later, to my joy, the particular hat came back in stock. I wasted little time in ordering that baby.

A couple of days later, my second hat arrived. I opened it the box and low and behold, the hat was not new.  How did I know? Because there was a very long blonde hair in lodged inside hat.

I am not blonde. Well not today anyway.

I was straight on the phone to the shop customer care line, to explain my disappointment and disgust. I was asked to send photographic proof, which I did. I was given the usual corporate talk and was assured that this sort of thing doesn’t happen and that I would be offered a discount off the hat.

2 days later, after I emailed the photo, and after I made a 2nd phone call to customer services, I was offered the cost of postage refund – and that was it.

I decided that I couldn’t wear a hat that was a) sold as new when it clearly wasn’t and b) worn by some unknown person.  I returned the hat, and received a full refund including postage costs.

The hat is back on the website, for sale as new! Some poor unsuspecting customer will purchase that hat unaware that it has been sent to at least 2 other people and worn by at least 1 other person.

Needless to say I will never purchase anything from that store again, but I’m pretty horrified that this item is being sold as new, when it obviously isn’t.  Unlike clothes, you can’t put a straw hat in the washing machine, or easily clean it without considerable further expense.

Do you think this situation is ok, or should stores inform their customers that some items have been sold and returned, and cost the item accordingly? Do you think stores should be allowed to sell these items as new or should such items be sold as seconds?

Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading

 

 

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Gabrielle by Chanel – Review | Champagne Twist

gabrielle chanel perfume
Gabrielle, by Chanel

As promised, here is a review of the new Chanel perfume which was officially launched 1st September 2017. And the verdict is … well it’s rather nice, but not the greatest perfume I’ve ever tested.

Yesterday, I attended an olfactory workshop, where the audience participants were informed about the inspiration behind the new fragrance, the first by Chanel for over 15 years.

The perfume, developed by Olivier Polge, consists of combination of 4 main floral scents – Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine and Tuberose.

chanel 3

When I tried the perfume on my skin, I found the instant hit was very floral, with the orange blossom coming through as the most dominant scent.

The dry down scent is beautifully light and delicate, with the jasmine and tuberose overtaking the orange blossom, with a back note of ylang ylang. I would suggest that this fragrance covers a wide age range – teenagers could wear this scent, alongside their mothers and grandmothers. I think this fragrance would work well for brides wanting a light, romantic fragrance for the ceremony, yet it would work equally well for the office. I would say you could wear Gabrielle as an every day fragrance, or for early evening events, but I don’t think it’s ‘strong’ enough to be worn for a very special evening event.

There are no warm or spicy notes in Gabrielle which I can detect, so I would say this was more of a Spring Summer fragrance as opposed to an Autumn Winter scent. It is also very feminine, with a powdery finish.

Gabi Chanel

As for longevity, after than less than an hour of wear the scent had virtually disappeared, which I found disappointing. The price point at £79 for 50ml and £112 for 100ml is extremely high for this product, even if it is Chanel.

Much has been made of the specially designed bottle, which is lovely to hold with it’s smooth glass texture and angular lines. The colour of the perfume, the box it is packaged in, and the stopper are all a pretty soft gold, ideal for gifting. But as much as I like the packaging and the overall ‘look’, for me it is what’s inside that counts. I’m afraid to find out the environmental costs of manufacturing the packaging.

gab chanel pic

Meant to represent Gabrielle before she became Coco, on that score the theme of new fragrance works. It has a great, flowery, airy scent, but for all the glamorous advertising, the longevity of the Eau de Parfum, simply doesn’t quite live up to expectation or the hype. Many have complained that the scent is un traditional. un-Chanel like. But this is the point – the perfume is Chanel before she became Coco, hence the name Gabrielle. This is the striped back, unassuming, innocent version of Chanel, not yet the power house she was later to become.

chanel 2

Many have found the scent generic, uninspiring and not that aspirational – style over substance. On those points, I tend to agree.

Rating: 3 out of 5

3-star

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Espace Gabrielle Chanel – Review | Champagne Twist

It has admittedly been a while since I’ve been out and about in London Town. Few things will draw me from under my comfy duvet when it’s pouring down with torrential rain. However a chance to attend a Chanel workshop would do the trick.

chanel 5
Espace Gabrielle Chanel, 27 Old Bond Street, London

Starting today and running till 24th September, Chanel is hosting a special pop-up mini exhibition and workshop event on Old Bond Street. I was lucky enough to attend earlier this afternoon on the launch day.

During the workshop participants were introduced to the history of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, the inspiration of Chanel’s latest perfume creation. During the fun session, we were we able to sample the 4 main flowers scents used to create this new perfume, Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang, Tuberose and Jasmine.

While I found the workshop genuinely fascinating, as a fan of Chanel, I wasn’t told anything new that couldn’t be sourced from the official Chanel YouTube Channel. That said, I still found it enjoyable and loved the idea of sampling the main notes of the perfume and then the new Gabrielle fragrance itself. The expert guiding the audience was also very entertaining, informative, skilfully delivering the presentation with passion.

I wanted to learn about the new fragrance, partly so that I could review it, and partly to see if I liked it enough to purchase it for myself. Having gone through the trouble and undoubtably huge expense of hiring an Old Bond Street building, decorating it so beautifully, and creating a fun and interactive experience specially themed around this new perfume, the participants were strangely not given a sample of the said perfume to take home.

Like most, I rarely purchase a perfume straight off the bat. I tend to source samples initially so I can experiment with the fragrance for a few days, and experience the dry down fragrance over time.  High end fragrances of this nature are a considered purchase, so I was surprised and disappointed that such a obvious opportunity to promote this new product was not taken advantage of.

gabrielle chanel perfume

When I think of Chanel, especially Gabrielle Chanel, I think of glamour, generosity, decadence, opulence and aspiration. The environment of 27 Old Bond Street certainly has that air, with its beautifully decorated open spaces, but not gifting a small sample of this new product seemed a little mean.

We were gifted a branded ribbon, a badge after the workshop, and later an exhibition poster contained in a large branded canvas tote.

chanel 8

A small vial of the eau de toilette would have done wonders for bloggers and customers to promote this fragrance. While I don’t wish to sound ungrateful, the gifts, which are nice and useful, they did make me feel a little under appreciated and somewhat exploited. As I mentioned, I was keen to learn about the new perfume, described by Vogue magazine as a “once in a decade event”.  I would have happily forgone the bag, badge and ribbon, for a 1.5ml sample of the eau de perfume or even the eau de toilette, rather than being used as merely a virtual, unpaid walking advertisement.

chanel 9

If they had pinned the ribbon and badge to the bag, again it would have felt that little bit more special. How many adults attending a Chanel event would relish a pin badge or a piece of branded ribbon, especially when those items are presented beside the large perfume bottles? It would be hard enough to fob that off to a 5 year old. The effect defocused from the new fragrance celebrations and came across as a little ‘stingy’, a word I would never before have associated with Chanel.

chanel 7

I have written a review of the fragrance, which you can read here, as I popped into Fenwicks for a sample card. Having just visited an event about the new perfume, I really shouldn’t have had to go to a department store to obtain a sample.

There is the opportunity to explore the interactive displays on the ground floor to and watch the video montages. However to fully experience Gabrielle, you are respectfully invited to purchase a bottle for around £115 for 100ml.

If you’re in the area, have a spare 30 – 45 mins, and you’re a Chanel fan, I would suggest going to Espace Gabrielle Chanel, located at 27 Old Bond Street, nearest tube station Green Park. Book a workshop to learn about the product and receive a some nice goodies, but don’t expect a take home a sample of the actual product for which the entire space was developed.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5

3-star

 

 

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Wednesday Thinking: Are collectable craft magazines worth the paper they are printed on?

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv
Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorial

It’s September a new weekly craft collectable magazine has been launched. This time it’s called “Knit & Stitch Creative”, a series which promises the buyer to teach them to knit over  the course of 66 weeks.

The first issue costs 99p and I recommend if you are a beginner knitter, to buy a copy. In fact buy 2.  For the money you get a magazine with a fair number of tutorials, a pair of size 4mm knitting needles, a very useful yarn needle and 2 small balls of wool.  Let’s face it, you’re going to be hard pushed to get a better deal.

The next issue, due out in the middle of September, will cost £2.50 and promises a another pair of knitting needles, this time size 5mm and another 2 small balls of yarn.

The 3rd and all subsequent issues will cost £4.99.  Here’s the rub, if you buy all the issues the grand total will be nearly over £325. Granted the costs includes a set of knitting needles, wool, binders to store the issues, and yarn with eery issue, but having to wait over a year to complete the series, I wonder if this is worth it.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 19.57.00

 

Picture source – http://creacrafts.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwub7NBRDJARIsAP7wlT8IYNWHsCjv-r9jcCAB4HHZnHGP7Iw8R8NEgZ5GLN_sDJbgzihInCcaAjKqEALw_wcB

There are a number of cheap and free knitting classes available in London, wool can be as affordable as you wish, and needles can also be sourced for low prices. The added advantage of going to a class, you can meet new people and make friends, you can ask the tutor questions directly, and you will learn to knit in a matter of hours.

If the idea of attending a class doesn’t appeal, a beginners knitting book costs anything from £20-30. Of course, there are a huge number of free tutorials on YouTube. With a budget of £325, you can buy a lot of yarn, several knitting needles, and learn how to knit at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.

I have written a review of the first issue, which will be published on this website in the next couple of days, so please watch out for that.  It would be great to read your thoughts about these collectable magazines. Do you think they are worth the money? Or do yo think they exploit people who wish to learn a new craft? Please share in the comments box below.

Thanks for reading,

 

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3 real ways to save money for Christmas | Champagne Twist

 

Save 4 Christmas

It’s September. The last Bank Holiday before Christmas has past and now the countdown to the festive season has begun. If like me those plans to become a millionaire by next Tuesday haven’t quite, well gone to plan, here are 3 easy ways to save, so you can enjoy the end of year celebrations, without the worry of how to pay for it.

1 – Save your pennies

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 19.10.03

Yes, I know, the last time you did this was around the age of 3, before you discovered £50 notes and YouTube, but it’s surprising just how those little coins can add up.  Get yourself a large jar, tin or piggybank and every time you receive change, remember to feed those pennies, 2p and 5p coins to your little piggy.  Start now and you will have extra cash for those end of year parties, Christmas presents or to give to your favourite charity.

 

2 – Buy now, save later

 

Champagne Twist champagnetwist.wordpress.com

The Summer sales may be coming to an end, but there is still time to purchase those little stocking fillers. For instance, if you have friends and family who love cosmetics and toiletries, take advantage of the last of the sales and stock up now. Don’t wait until December when the prices are jacked up just because the item is packaged in a special edition Christmas box, which is going to be covered in Christmas wrapping paper anyway.

 

3 – Start a Christmas Fund

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 19.10.35

From tomorrow (Monday 4th September 2017), put aside 5-10% of your wages or salary in a separate bank account.  If you can save say £10 a week, every week until Christmas, you will have around £160 by Christmas.  That should buy a round of Crimbo drinks!

But don’t just stop there … if you adopt these simple saving techniques in the New Year, by next Christmas you could save hundreds, maybe even thousands.

Have you got any tips for saving cash between now and the end of the year? Please share in the comment box below.

Thanks for reading and please don’t forget to share, subscribe and comment.

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Wednesday Thinking: Does social media encourage diversity or promote white privilege? | ChampagneTwist.com

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv
Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorial

As August draws to a close, the topic which has stood out for me this month is diversity – or rather the lack of it, within the social media genre.

A vlog with too much talk

At the beginning of this month, I received an alert from one of my favourite social media creators Kristabel Plummer of I want you to know fame, over on Instagram stories. She had received a comment her on one of her vlogs which inferred she had an issue with her YouTube channel.

I immediately headed over to Kristabel’s YT channel to watch the vlog and then read the comment in context.  Here’s the vlog –

Below is a transcript of the comment from Lilly C –

Got this suggested. You’re lovely but you talk too much for my liking..not to take this as a negative, but personally I enjoy more vlogging and less talking. And your travel partner looked lovely

Confused as to how it’s possible for anyone can talk too much on a vlog, let alone one of the best UK vloggers on YouTube,  I read and reread the comment. Then it clicked. This was not intended to be a fair and reasoned critique, rather a passive aggressive attack and veiled attempt to silence a popular YouTube voice.

It appears that Lilly C is a dummy YouTube channel – which in itself is OK, and personally I have no issue with. But not if the idea of this possible holding account is to deliberately cast shade within the safety of anonymity.

 

 

After much thought, I decided that I couldn’t let that comment go without a response from me …

Lilly, your comment appears as a worrying attempt to ‘silence’ a popular and gifted vlogger, as opposed to a fair and sincere critique. Sade I agree looked lovely, as does Kristabel I’m sure you will agree. But their looks, with the highest respect to Kristabel and Sade, are not the subject matter of this particular vlog. Why focus on their ‘looks’, without one mention of the actual topic of the vlog?

The answer of course is because Lilly’s motives were not entirely honourable. Either that or the Lilly is a victim of this incessant need to place beauty at a higher value than the content of a a person’s character. And yes, I am challenging Dr. Martin Luther King. Now he was a person who talked a lot … a lot of sense which still inspires and comforts millions of people today.

But is there more to this?

Hello World, Goodbye Diversity

Hello World – is a social media event which is due to take place in Birmingham, England in October. Here’s the tag statement –

HelloWorld is an epic four hour, immersive live show like nothing on Earth. Two identical performances on the 28th and 29th October at the Birmingham Genting Arena, bring the world’s biggest Social talent and you together under one roof for an unforgettable, shared experience.

Just a quick glance at the list of announced talent, highlights the complete and total lack of diversity across the board, of an event called “Hello WORLD!”. The version of the world as promoted by the event, doesn’t seem a million miles away from the world a mad man once imagined, which of course was one of the major causes of the outbreak of World War Two.

With so many talented bloggers from all walks of life, faiths, religions, sexual preferences, genders, etc, and in such a diverse city as Birmingham, arguably the most diverse city in the UK second to only London, it is difficult to create a convincing argument as to why the talent is so white, male, heterosexual, middle-class, able bodied, with an average age range below 30 and from bloggers mostly from the world of beauty and fashion.

When our collective attention is being directed towards such a narrow field of talent, representing such few fields and even less voices, it is no wonder that in 2017 we still fighting for equality?

If, in the era of globalisation, social media influencers and power houses can’t manage to organise a truly diverse social media event, with all the technology at our disposal, then we are all in more trouble than we think.

Dreams of a White Christmas

Many of the UK’s most celebrated social media talents also tend to have 1 thing in common – the support of an agency. At the risk of mentioning the C word when we’re still enjoying Summer, last Christmas a number of famous UK bloggers, who are represented  by Gleam Futures, were treated to a pre-Christmas bash hosted by the agency. Here’s a video highlight from one of Jim Chapman’s YouTube channels, who is represented by Gleam.

From the huge number of bloggers, vloggers and staff at the venue, how many people of colour did you see?

Again, where is the diversity? How come a British, London based agency have so obviously failed to include a diverse range of social talent? How is that even possible? While we the audience are distracted by all the fun and jollies of the Christmas party trying to spot our favourite bloggers and vloggers, the subtle yet very loud message we are simultaneously receiving is that diversity is not a priority at this, or any other social media gathering. If people are being excluded from the party, how can we ever hope to create an inclusive social media network?

 

The irony of the title of Jim’s video is sadly all too apparent.

Note, many of the social media talents announced for the “Hello World” event are represented by Gleam Futures, including of course Jim Chapman. Dipping from a shallow pool of talent, will result in lack of inclusiveness.

What do you think? Is social media an accurate reflection of society, or a subtle  promoter of far right ideals? Please comment below.

Thanks for reading.

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Lemon Cups – recipe | Champagne Twist

Hello, check this out! A lemon cup jelly based dessert that vegetarians and eat, and with a few minor adjustments vegans can enjoy too.

When I discovered Just Wholefoods lemon jelly crystals, I was over the moon that I could once again enjoy homemade jelly and ice-cream.

This is another easy dish, which can be made to look like you spent a lot of time and effort. Only 2 basic ingredients that can be used to top off a lovely meal or as part of an afternoon or high tea.

lemon cups

Lemon Cups – recipe | Champagne Twist

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of Just Wholefoods lemon jelly crystals
  • lemon yogurt (use a non-dairy alternative for vegan or plant only based diners)
  • lemon sugar crystals or lemon zest to decorate (optional)

lemon pots 2

Method:

  1. Make up the jelly according to the directions in a jug. Pour the jelly into the heat proof cups, dividing the jelly equally amongst each serving. Place in the fridge to set. You can lean the cups on one side to create the slanted effect.
  2. When set, remove the jelly cups from the fridge. Add 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt to each serving. Return to the fridge to chill.
  3. Remove the cups from the fridge 10 mins before serving, and sprinkle the lemon sugar crystals or lemon zest, if using, on top and serve immediately.

 

lemon cups 3

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Wednesday Thinking: The other side of Afternoon Tea | Champagne Twist

Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorialv
Wednesday Thinking The Mid-week Editorial
Afternoon Tea Week 14-20 August 2017
Afternoon Tea Week | ChampagneTwist.com

Hello,

When we think of Afternoon Tea, our minds often turn to the lovely cakes, pastries and of course tea. However, we rarely think about where the tea actually comes from, how it’s manufactured and the people who produce it.

Following are a number of YouTube videos which examines the tea industry. As I come across more videos, I will add them below. If you have any recommendations for this list, comment below.

Enjoy!

The History of Tea – TED Talks

Assam’s modern slaves : The real price of a cup of Tetley Tea

Tea documentary; The Bittersweet Truth Tea Drinks

“Tea Time”, an animated short by ESMA

How it’s made – tea bags

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Golden Meringues – recipe | Champagne Twist

With just 2 ingredients, you can make these extra special meringues, which can be used for a wide number of puddings, desserts, tea time treats, or enjoyed on their own.

The distinctive colour and flavour of the meringues comes from the golden caster sugar used in this recipe.

The following recipe is enough for 1 large meringue nest which could be shared between 5-6 people as a pavlova, or about 6 mini sized individual nests. You could also create 2-3 medium sized meringues with this recipe.

Golden Meringues – recipe

by Champagne Twist

Golden Meringue nest

Ingredients:

3 large egg whites
150g golden caster sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 1.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper, and set aside.
  3. Separate the egg whites, and keep the egg yolks for another recipe.
  4. With an electric mixer, using the balloon whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until firm.
  5. Slowly add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
  6. Dab a little bit of the meringue on the underside of the greaseproof paper and stick on to the baking sheets. This will prevent the greaseproof paper from slipping.
  7. For a large meringue, use all the mixture to create 1 nest.. For medium sized meringues use 3 heaped tablespoons of the mixture for each meringue. There should be enough for about 2 or 3 nests. For smaller meringues use 2 heaped tablespoons. If you’re making medium or small meringue, make sure they are equally spaced apart. You can use the back of the spoons to help shape the meringues. Alternatively, you can pipe the meringues for a more uniform or decorative look.
  8. Place the baking sheets on the top and middle shelves of the oven, and bake for 45-60 minutes. Half way through baking, swap the trays around to ensure even baking.
  9. When finished, remove from the oven and set aside. The meringues should be allowed to completely cool on the baking sheets.

Golden meringues.jpg

You can freeze the meringues until ready for use. The meringue can be used in a number of different recipes, such as Berry Meringue Nests.

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Cheat’s Berry Meringue Nests – recipe | Champagne Twist

berry meringue nests

For a quick and simple dessert or afternoon tea treat, here’s a recipe for those moments when you need something decadent, but lack time.

Cheat’s Berry Meringue Nests – recipe

by Champagne Twist

berry meringue nest

Ingredients:

  • Ready made meringues
  • Mixed berries, I used
    • Strawberries
    • Raspberries
    • Blueberries
    • Blackberries
  • Yogurt such as Thick Greek, Greek style, lemon, plain or vanilla
  • Sprig of mint, for decoration (optional)
  • Icing sugar, for decoration (optional)

Method:

  1. Using one meringue person, fill the city of each meringue nest wth 1 tablespoon of your chosen yogurt.
  2. Top off each nest with a mix of berries. You can, for instance, cut 1 large. strawberry into quarters and add 1 piece to each nest.  Add a couple each of the remaining fruit to each nest to finish.
  3. Decorate the nests with a sprig of mint and dust with icing sugar if using.

cheat's berry meringue nests 2

 

With only requiring a few pieces of fruit and a little yogurt, you can create impressive looking and tasting meringue nests, within a relatedly small budget. You can try any combination of fruit and sauces. How about caramel sauce, chocolate sauce and chopped banana.

I hope you like this recipe, if you do, please leave a comment below. If you have any ideas on how to use meringues, again please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading, see you soon!

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Afternoon Tea Week – Day 2 – The Ultimate Afternoon Tea Menu

Hello, and welcome to Day 2 of Afternoon Tea Week, here on ChampagneTwist.com

As you may know, Afternoon Tea is my favourite meal, and I designed my ideal afternoon tea menu.

Anything highlighted in the menu clicks through to a recipe.

afternoon tea week banner

Ultimate Afternoon Tea Menu

tea menu banner

Sandwiches and Breads

  • Cucumber and mint butter on seeded bread
  • Cream cheese with lemon and chive on seeded bread
  • Soda Bread
  • Corn and Dill Bread

 

Scones

  • Cayenne, Cheese and Chive
  • Traditional
  • Apple Brandy Raisin
  • Stem Ginger

 

Butters, Jams and Spreads

  • Blackberry and rose jam
  • Apple jam
  • Raspberry jam
  • Strawberry Champagne jam
  • Homemade butter
  • Homemade nut butter (coconut and almond)
  • Hummus

Pastries, Biscuits and Cupcakes

 

Cakes

  • Coconut and lime naked cake
  • Victoria Sponge
  • Lemon Drizzle
  • Black Forest Gateaux
  • Sacher Torte
  • Carrot
  • St Clements
  • Lemon Lavender

 

Tea

  • Teapigs – Peppermint Tea
  • Pukka –
  • Earl Grey –
  • Lady Grey –
  • Harrods – No 9 Georgian
  • Savoy – Afternoon Blend
  • Champagne Twist – Special blend

 

 

What is your ultimate Afternoon Tea Menu? Please share in the comments box.

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Afternoon Tea Week 2017 on Champagne Twist – Day 1

Hello everyone, and a very warm welcome to new readers. This is Afternoon Week on Champagne Twist

Afternoon Tea Week 14-20 August 2017
Afternoon Tea Week | ChampagneTwist.com

This week is a very special week for me, as over the next 7 days we get to celebrate my favourite meal. Imagine an entire week dedicated to all things Afternoon Tea.

There are special events up and down the country, including discounted afternoon teas at some very nice establishments, so be sure to check them out. For more information, please click the link – AfternoonTea.co.uk.

But stick around here, and you will be awarded with the following treats:

 

Afternoon Tea Week 2017

on

ChampagneTwist.com

afternoon tea week banner

Afternoon Tea Week – Day 1

  • Monday 14th August – Start of Afternoon Tea Week

General introduction and what you can look forward to this week on ChampagneTwist.com

Afternoon Tea Week – Day 2

An Afternoon Tea menu to rival all, featuring a host of brand new recipes.

Afternoon Tea Week – Day 3

The return of Wednesday Thinking, where I showcase thought provoking articles from social media, focusing on a recent and relevant topic. The aim is to help raise awareness and contribute to positive and proactive discussion and conversation. 3 guesses what this week’s topic will be.

Afternoon Tea Week – Day 4

  • Thursday 17th August – Cakes and Bakes

More brand new recipes in celebration of all things Afternoon Tea, with a slant towards vegetarian, vegan and plant based diets.

Afternoon Tea Week – Day 5

  • Friday 18th August – Views and Reviews

A look back at some of the best (and worse!) afternoon tea treats, plus a general history of Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea Week – Day 6

  • Saturday 19th August – Crafts and DIY

All sorts of craft makes relating to my favourite hot drink.

Afternoon Tea Week – Day 7

Highlights of the week.

All this a more on ChampagneTwist.com. Please subscribe so that you don’t miss out. Thanks for reading, I hope you will enjoy the next few fun packed, tea filled days.

See you soon!

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Afternoon Tea Week 14-20 August 2017 | Champagne Twist

Afternoon Tea Week 14-20 August 2017
Afternoon Tea Week | ChampagneTwist.com

This week is Afternoon Tea Week. In celebration, I’m posting every day this week all things related to my favourite meal of the day.

Here is a little trailer video to get you in the mood.

Please subscribe for more information 🙂

Dont forget, Afternoon Tea Week starts tomorrow.

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Fruit Soup – recipe | Champagne Twist

Fruit soup Champagne TwistHello,

OK, so you’re probably thinking, “fruit soup? Is that a thing?”

Well as it may surprise you, the answer is yes. And you’ve probably have already heard of at least one type of fruit soup. May I remind you that one of the world’s most popular soups is made from fruit – remember our friend the humble tomato soup?

So carrying on this idea, I thought how fun it could be to create a soup from say berries. If you follow my Instagram account, you may know that I have a glut of blackberries growing in the garden.  I have already filled my freezer with tubs and tubs of blackberries, which should sustain me through the winter. I also plan to make blackberry and lavender jam, blackberry and apple pies, blackberry and apple pie filling for the freezer … yes just 3 weeks into the blackberry season and I’m fast running out of space, ideas and love for the berry.

Berry soup is the answer … which I’m enjoying most days for breakfast. The recipe, you may be glad to know, is ridiculously simple, with no prep dishes to clean up afterwards. You can also use this recipe as a base for smoothies or  sauces for pudding such as with ice-cream or frozen yogurt. Serve warm or as I prefer on a hot summer’s day, chilled.

Berry Fruit Soup – recipe by Champagne Twist

Serves 2

mixed berry and banana soup recipe by champagne twist
Fruit soup recipe | Champagne Twist

Ingredients

  • 8-10 strawberries
  • 10 blueberries
  • 10 blackberries
  • 1 medium size banana
  • 2 dsps natural or vanilla yogurt
  • mint leaves for decoration (optional)

Method

  1. Reserving 1 tbsp of the yogurt and a few berries for decoration, add all the fruit and the yogurt in a blender, and blitz until smooth.
  2. Divide the mixture equally between 2 bowls.
  3. To each serving, whirl 1/2 a tbsp of yogurt.
  4. Decorate with the reserved berries and fruit syrup if using. Finish with a sprig of mint for decoration, if you wish.
berry soup recipe by champagne twist.com
Fruit soup recipe | Champagne Twist
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