The C.T. Show, June favourites YouTube channel cover - ChampagneTwist.com

New Episode of the C.T. Show, now live

Yes, we are a little late this month … but June was so jammed packed it was hard to choose which would make the final edit. Now that the techno stuff is also on the mend, the video backlog will soon be cleared, so watch out for even more.

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Thanks for watching.

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What really happened at the Bloggers’ Meet Up, Allergy & Free From Show Learning Centre

The bloggers meet up from hell - the allergy & free from show July 2017
What really happened at the Bloggers’ Meet Up, Allergy & Free From Show Learning Centre

Few things surprise me. I predicted Brexit, the US election and the UK election.  I knew when One Direction would split up, and that the Master would kill Missy in Doctor Who. As I said, few things surprise me, but today at the Allergy and Free From Bloggers’ meet up, that was an absolute shocker.

Attending the event was intended to be a treat for us bloggers, a chance to meet fellow foodies and interact with great companies who work tireless to create such great products.

Organised chaos

Sadly, for want of a simple clipboard and checklist, rather than a happy, friendly chit chat between foodies, the event turned into a free for all, which could have turned rapidly into something more disastrous.

I’m writing this, because I have never in my life witnessed such total greed in people. I will point out firstly that the organiser and attending bloggers couldn’t have been nicer and I would have loved to have had a good old natter with them. I would have loved to chat with all the food producers who also attended, as it is unusual to have the opportunity for a face to face with people, who not only care deeply about the products they make, but also the customers who they sell their items to.

Yet the ugly greed of some people, completely spoiled the occasion for me.

Examples of behaviour

One woman had the audacity to sit down next to me and boast at length how she grabbed a number of free samples. Then she asked me what a blogger was!

Another woman continually grabbed as much as her hands could manage, pushing other people in the process. Honestly, was there any need for this?

I asked another person who seemingly came from nowhere if she was a blogger. She replied in the positive. She lied. When pushed, she admitted she overheard that someone was giving out freebies and she wanted to see what she could get.

One woman, with a foot in a cast, climbed over several benches, and physically pushed her way to the front, in order to get a bottle of beer.  She may have a bad foot, but she’s got a good pair of eyes and more stamina than Andy Murray! She’s pretty quick too, for a person with a foot in plaster.

Another woman, pretended that she didn’t understand English, yet was later heard conversing in English to her associate, discussing how they could trick other producers into giving them more free stuff.

It wasn’t the fact that these people took, well stole, these items, heck it happens all the time. It was the calculated malice in which they conducted themselves. Honestly, in all my days, I have never seen a sudden mass of people, so greedy, so dishonest, so disgusting.

After effects

There are the knock on effects – this was a group of bloggers, who specialise in food allergies. They perform vital work in getting information out to people who a) can’t attend these events and b) require specific knowledge in order to carry on with their daily lives.

Of course, these greedy horrors won’t care a jot and would probably step over their own grandmother for a penny. But many will miss out in this important information, why should. they have to suffer?

It both angers and saddens me that I had to bore witness to such abject greed. For goodness sakes, this is a G8 country. Yes, things are bad, but have we reached the level of such awful behaviour? Have we become so uncaring, so selfish, so greedy, so absolutely shameless? Apparently we have.

How it went wrong

I don’t understand why the area wasn’t closed off to the general public, or why none of the bloggers were asked for any form of ID. Thankfully it didn’t quite develop into a full run, but in a confined area, with so many people, frankly it wasn’t worth the risk for me and I left half way through.

It was continually announced over the PA that it was a private event, yet still more  and more people crammed their way into the space in order to fill their boots. The effect was by then too little, too late. Perhaps being in that immediate environment heightened what happened, but I tell you this, I never what to witness such ugly, cold hearted greed ever again.

I did manage to speak briefly to a few producers, and I will either contact them separately and/or review their products in due course.

Yes, I know I run a risk of being ostracised from the blogging community by publishing this post, but if this is the way such events are conducted, people need to know.

Reaction from Allergy & Free From Learning Centre Assistant

To add insult to injury, one of the Allergy & Free From Learning Centre assistants rudely interrupted me mid-conversation with the event organiser, after I had waited patiently, by holding her hand up to my face, giving me the most evil look imaginable.

Was there any need for that, for what was in essence partly her failure to keep the event safe and organised?

No doubt this will all be buried in the social media web as quickly as possible to minimise any perceived damage.

All for want of clipboard and a checklist.

B-tempted Flourless Brownie with Sea Salt – Review | Champagne Twist

Brownies can be a minefield, even with the usual ingredients. So I was intrigued to try these great looking brownies by B-Tempted.

The generous 6-pack are flour-less and gluten-free, yet from the taste you wouldn’t know.  The brownies have a cute and neat oval shape, with the all important moist centre. It’s easy to eat a whole bag of these in one sitting, but better to share with friends as part of an afternoon tea time treat.

These brownies don’t leave that clawing sensation in the month, you feel when you’ve eaten too many rich chocolate cakes, which adds to their appeal. I can tell that the quality of chocolate used is very high, and the addition of sea salt really enhances the flavour.

B-tempted gluten-free flour-less chocolate brownies
B-tempted Flourless Brownie with Sea Salt

You do have to be a little careful transporting these home, as they are easily squashed, but what’s a few crumbs between friends? You can always make them in an impromptu desert such as Eton Mess, or just enjoy them as they are.

In short, this is a good brownie, and I was surprised that the 6 piece treat pack retails at only the £3.99 mark, as the quality far outweighs the price, especially for a gluten-free product.  If you’re having trouble finding gluten free brownies, may I suggest this one?

 

bloggers event, gift bag

#BloggersSuite, July 2017

Hello folks,

It’s the season for blogging meet ups, as yesterday I attended my 2nd event, this time hosted by scarlettlondon.com. BloggersSuite was held at the Qbic, London City hotel in Aldgate, East London.

Qbic London city hotel, Aldgate, East London, England
Alright treacle?, light display at the Qbic London City hotel, East London. Picture source qbichotels.com/london-city

The 2 hour long afternoon event was very different from Blogtacular, which I attended 3 weeks ago. Most of the attendees were beauty or fashion bloggers. The diversity of the attendees in terms of age, ethnicity, gender and blogging specifications was not as diverse as I would have liked.

Venue

Qbic, London City, is a nice hotel, but I’m not sure it was the ideal venue for BloggersSuite. The event hosted 75 bloggers, with a few businesses showcasing their products, Instagramable areas and a long table for the speakers and attendees. I thought the space was too small to be effective, and I found it difficult to hear the speakers, specially due to the loud background noise. There wasn’t enough space for all the attendees to sit down to listen to the speaker, meaning that only a lucky few were able to enjoy the highlight of the event in relative comfort.

Food and drink

I was disappointed with the food, which consisted of Qbic logoed cup cakes and popcorn in pink striped bags. The cup cakes were Instagramable, but the sponge was flavourless, and had quite a dry texture. The creamy frosting and decorative disc were both very bland in taste.

cup cakes, qbic, London, Aldgate, East London
Qbic London City Cupcakes

The popcorn packets again were Instagramable, but tasted stale.

The drinks were nice, I liked the complimentary cocktail, but I can’t tell you what it was as they were not labeled and there was no one I could see to ask.

blogging event, east London
BloggersSuite event, 1st July 2017, East London

I particularly liked the bottled Kineta Green Apple Matcha drink.  Green Cola was also available, but I didn’t have an opportunity to sample it.

Goodie bag

bloggers event, gift bag
#BloggersSuite goodie bag, July 2017

Very impressive selection of beauty themed goodies in the bag. The value of the contents I believe outweigh the ticket price. If you’re not into beauty, you may find the goodie disappointing, but I am excited to try out these products and will report back on them soon.

gift bag, goodie bag, bloggerssuite health and beauty products
Contents of the #BloggersSuite goodie bag

 

Attendees were also gifted mobile phone usb sticks from SanDisk (not shown).

Special mention

Bloggerssuite did top Blogtacular by arranging a charity raffle for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, and at the time of writing, they had raised the best part of £200 in just 2 hours. I thought this was a nice touch, which was notably and extremely disappointingly missing from the otherwise perfect Blogtacular event.

If you would like to donate to this cause, please click this link for more information.

Mini masterclasses

The audience were treated to talks from 3 high profile bloggers on 3 different topics. The speakers were;

Haydy Squibb  – Basic SEO Masterclass

Charlotte Jonsie – How to get brands to notice you an hoe to make your mark in the blogosphere

Vix Meldrew – Blog branding and finding your voice

All three speakers were brilliant, but as I mentioned, I found it difficult to hear their talks over the background noise, and I know I missed out on some key information they offered, which is such a pity.

It seems that the topic I was particularly interested in, “Fashion to flatlay” was cancelled, without explanation. The published timetable I accidentally discovered the day before on one of the speakers blogs, seems to have substantially changed, without notice – maybe I missed the announcement.

Value for money?

At £14.14 (£5.80 for early bird tickets), the ticket price was value for money. The goodie bag was generous, and speakers were good, but it was a pity that there wasn’t enough space to really take full advantage of everything the event had to offer.

Overall impression

It was a compact, busy venue, the food disappointing, drinks good, but in fairness, these events are not meant to focus on the facilities, the menu or even dare I say the goodie bag.

The speakers made this event, providing invaluable information in an entertaining way, which I’m sure everyone who attended were able to gain some good takeaways. The charity raffle was also a lovely thing to do, and I think the organisers should be highly praised for their efforts in this regard.

However, there simply wasn’t the space or the opportunity for me to engage with other attendees or the businesses as I would have liked. I did have a quick chat with a rep from SanDisk, but ran out of time to talk to the other business reps.  The number of attendees was spot on in my opinion, but the venue was too compact to really make the most of the the event.

I also would have appreciated some sort of house keeping at the start, such as a welcome speech from the organisers, and speaker and business introductions.

Would I recommend BloggersSuite?

Yes. If you’re a beauty or fashion blogger, it is well worth a couple of hours of your time, especially for the goodie bag and the mini masterclasses.

I do get the impression that the organisers work very hard to put these events together, and was impressed with portions of the afternoon. The let down was the lack of physical space. I could forgive the sub par food, but not being able to hear the speakers and introducing a new timetable without notice simply shouldn’t happen. There was a general lack of information on just about everything, which I found surprising and disappointing. With just a few, inexpensive tweaks, this could be an essential annual event on every bloggers’ calendar.

Did you attend BloggersSuite? What did you think? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe.

Thanks for reading.

By Hand London, Charlie Dress Sewing Pattern Review

Poppy Dress

This is a review of the Charlie Dress sewing pattern by By Hand London.

It’s the first time I have sewn a By Hand London pattern, and the Charlie Dress was a great introduction. Surprisingly quick to make, it took me about 4.5 hours from start to finish over a couple of days.  I used a cotton fabric from my stash – Riley Blake’s ‘Desert Bloom’ poppy print in red.  I sourced it from the internet and was inspired after seeing the fabric showcased on Kittenish Behaviour.

It is a medium weight cotton, so I didn’t feel the need to line it, making the dress even quicker to make.  Also as the dress is intended to be worn during the Summer, I thought lining it would make it unnecessarily heavy.

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 21.27.30

The PDF pattern cost £9, which I thought was a very good bargain as the dress comes in 2 versions, and both dresses can be easily adapted. For example, I hope to make the bodice as a stand-a-lone top, and I now have a 3/4 circle skirt without having to do the maths!

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 23.41.54

Picture source: https://byhandlondon.com/collections/sewing-patterns/products/charlie-dress-pdf-sewing-pattern

The instructions provided are well written and easy to follow, but I wish they included how to lengthen or shorten the bodice and skirt. As I have prior knowledge, I was able to adjust the pattern to my own measurements, but would have appreciated the guidance.

Construction

I had intended to make version 2 of the dress, with the 3/4 circle skirt. Sadly, the material I had wasn’t wide enough, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, The 2 panel skirt is a different style for me, I tend to sew only straight, A-line or circle skirts, so it was great to try something different.

I was concerned about the gathered waist, as I prefer smooth lines on my waistline, but again, the result was pleasing, and hopefully doesn’t draw attention to my tummy.

Adjustments

  • I added 5 cm to lengthen the bodice
  • The turn over collar was made with a cotton, solid white fabric I had in my stash
  • I decided against adding pockets, but with future Charlie dresses, I’m considering adding large patch pockets
  • I added 2 cm to the length of the first skirt tier, and 3 cm to the length of the bottom tier, to create a knee length dress
  • I made extra long straps, and made a bow feature at the top of the shoulder – see picture below

 poppy dress 3

I’m considering adding some sort embellishment to the bow, like a button or mini fabric flower – not sure yet, so if you have any ideas please let me know.

Overall, I really like this pattern, it’s quick to make and I reckon my next one can be made in around 2 hours.  The sew-a-long on the By Hand London website is also a useful tool, providing clarity to the written instructions and enhanced with more, clear photographs.

I really like the ‘hackability’ of this pattern, and have already thought of several ideas to adapt this pattern to create a wardrobe of garments. Stay tuned for more on this.

For my first By Hand London pattern, I find it pretty hard to fault, and I look forward to trying more patterns from this company.

Rating

4-star

 

 

Pip and Nut Chocolate, Coconut and Hazelnut Butter – Limited Edition – Review

It took me a while to get my mits on these, and nearly resorted to ordering a crate direct from Pip and Nuts online store. But then they sold out … argh!!!!

But thanks to Ocado, who currently have the butter on special offer, I scooped up 3 of the the beauties.

pip and nut trio

The Pip & Nut Limited Edition Chocolate, Coconut and Hazelnut butter. The very sound of it is delicious. But sadly the name is better than reality.

There have been a couple of disappointments – 1 being that the jar size is now a smaller 225g reduced from 250g, which is a bit sneaky. The offer price at £3.19 is high, making the RRP at £3.99 pretty pricy, especially as other butters in the range are around the £2 mark.

Taste wise, it’s not bad. I can’t eat this by the spoonful – believe me, I tried – as the coconut flavour is a little too prominent for me and contributes to an odd ‘fatty’ aftertaste.  But on toast, it is delicious. The butter has a good consistency and is great melted as a sauce for fresh fruit, pancakes or breakfast cereals.  I had planned to use the butter as a baking ingredient. Due to it’s cost and reduced size however, I can’t justify using 2 jars for a 1 cake. Why, oh why did they make the jars smaller?

I did try mixing a teaspoon of the butter with 2 heaped tablespoons of coconut yogurt. I added a few black raspberries harvested from the garden, and made a quick pudding. I later added a teaspoon of caramel sauce, as it helped to cut down the fatty aftertaste from the coconut butter.

fruit pip & nut yogurt

yogurt with black raspberries

As a treat, this is fab, I particularly like the fact that there is no trace of palm oil, which is where Nutella fails. The difference however is that I can easily eat Nutella by the spoonful, and at £5 for a 1kg jar, it is more economical.

Overall, I’m glad I got my 3 jars and am happy to use this product, sparingly. Unfortunately the search for a healthier, viable sub for Nutella continues.

Rating:

3-star


Edit – 23rd July

With regret, I’m going to have to take off another 2 points. I tried another jar of this butter and found that it tasted over salty. There’s no justification for salt in this product that I can think of, let alone in such high amounts.

I decided to try baking with it, and sadly with a too high levels of coconut oil coupled with hardly any chocolate or hazelnut flavour, the chocolate brownie I baked came out tasting mostly of salt and poor quality coconut oil. Bitterly disappointed with what should have been the perfect blend of 3 of my favourite flavours.

Revised Rating:

1-star

 

Countdown to Blogtacular!

Hello,

Can you believe it? This is day 1 of month 6 of 2017! A lot has happened so far this year, and not all of it good. But I hope that the remainder of the year will prove to be more peaceful, productive and perhaps  dare I say more lucrative. For me a reboot kicks off on June 10, with the long awaited spectacular that is Blogtacular.

Going-to-Blogtacular-200

This will be my first Blogtacular, and it is for me, a risky financial investment. I say investment, in that I hope that I will be able to recoup my outlay, gaining quality information and guidance to improve my social media network. I hope to solidify my  skillset in order to become more productive in terms of my media content production. I also hope to meet loads of bloggers, vloggers, crafters, artists and creators to be inspired and hopefully inspire others. (Oooh that sounds good, I should put that on my press pack! – hmm maybe not.)

It’s a lot to ask of a 1 day conference. There’s also much to do to prepare for the event, and so I’m taking time out now to ensure that I am able to get the very most out of the experience.

In the run up to Blogtacular I will blog daily my hints and tips up to the day, as well as report on the day itself. I will say if I managed to achieve everything I hoped for.  I will also review the event, and ascertain if it was value for money.

So no pressure then.

Today, I have discussed my hopes and aims for the conference, tomorrow I shall detail my fears and concerns, and how I will try to tackle them.  Please subscribe to find out how I prepare for Blogtacular and please share your thoughts about the event in the comments box below.

Thanks for reading.

#makelikeaboss: The Village Haberdashery and A L’aise event – My Take-A-Ways

Today, I visited The Village Haberdashery in North West London, to a) not buy any fabric (didn’t work!) and b) listen to a talk by a remarkable business owner, Suzie Dicker.

For the 2nd of the Make like a boss series, Suzie Dicker of A L’aise (which happens to be French for ‘at ease’ or ‘comfort’), explained to a keen audience how she started her amazing business with practically nothing. Yet within 18 months, her stationery and small leather goods company can easily sit amongst such brand names as Smythson, Orla Kiely and Cath Kidston.

My 3 take-a-ways from the talk were:

  1. Don’t try and do everything yourself – if you’re not good with numbers, get an accountant. Outsourcing isn’t a dirty word, or something to be ashamed of, rather it should be embraced, as it will allow you to focus on the areas of the business you excel at.
  2. Good product photography is key.  Suzie attended 2 trade shows in her first year of business, which created a buzz for her products. She made the point however, if those potential customers then refer back to a website which doesn’t match the high quality of the products, it doesn’t create the best impression.
  3. You can start a business with no money.  This is a huge one for me, as I’m in the process of building my own business on a limited budget. Have a business plan – if you need help writing a business plan, ask an accountant or business advisor. Make sure you have the paperwork to back up your dreams before you head towards your bank manager. Start off with a professional business plan and make it impossible for the bank manager to say no.

Actually, there was another personal take-a-way  I finally managed to source the fabric for my top to match my Henley Skirt. It has only taken me the best part of a year, and yes I did promise not to buy any more fabric. But then again, if recent events have taught us anything, seizing the day seems rather apt.

The next in the make like a boss series features Tilly Walnes from Tilly and the Buttons. Visit the Village Haberdashery website for more details, check out the facebook page here.

Thanks to Suzie for an inspiring talk and  all at Village Haberdashery for hosting such a fantastic event.

National Tea Day – top 3 teas of the year so far | Champagne Twist

Today is National Tea Day, so you can guess the theme of today’s post.

Here are my top 3 teas, of the year so far.

Teapigs Matcha Green Tea Drink - Elderflower - Champagne Twist ChampagneTwist.wordpress.com
Teapigs Matcha Green Tea Drink, with Elderflower – Champagne Twist

3rd – TeaPigs Matcha Elderflower 

teapigs-liqourice-peppermint

2nd – Teapigs Liquorice and Peppermint

Niche Tea, Champagne Twist

1st – Niche co. ‘Skin’

What’s your favourite cuppa? How are you celebrating National Tea Day? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.

Clothkits bag and purse kit review | Champagne Twist

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

 

I am new to the Clothkits phenomena, which I’m reliably informed was a huge thing back in the 70s and 80s. Clothkits were as the name suggests kits made up of everything you need to make a dress, skirt or doll, all in a kit, including fabric with the printed pattern ready to cut out, doing away with the need of a paper pattern. The system appealed to newbie crafters as well as sewing people who were time short.  After a hiatus, Clothkits were relaunched about 10 years ago, and this year seem to be making a strong impact for people who would like to start crafting.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

I came across Clothkits after watching the Sewing Quarter, where the demoed a wonderful skirt kit.  Sadly by the time I got around to ordering, they has sold out.  Fortunately, a few days later the kit came back in stock together with a matching bag, which I immediately snapped up.

Yesterday, a week after ordering, both the kits arrived, and I immediately set to work, thinking the bag and purse kit would be the easiest and quickest, before embarking onto the skirt.

Upon opening the well presented package, I was surprised to see how small the printed sections were.  Where I was hoping for a large tote, the final piece was barely large enough to enclose a computer tablet. I add at this point that in my haste to order the bag before it sold out, I didn’t make a note of the size of the bag, and assumed it was the size of a shopper tote, but as you can see below, the Clothkits bag is considerably smaller.  The only picture on display on both the Clothkits website and the Sewing Quarter website show the kit all wrapped up, so you can’t gauge how big the finished bag will be, until you purchase the kit.

Source: sewing quarter.com

So already disappointed, I ventured on with the project, to discover that the rest of the contents where equally ungenerous when compared with the skirt kit. The thread reel was smaller than the one included with the skirt kit, the lining fabric was barely adequate for both the bag and purse, leaving little room for error.  I had the use the striped lining horizontally for the purse and vertically for the bag in order for it to fit, which is a pity as the 2 items won’t exactly match.

There was also little scope for pattern matching, but as this kit is aimed at beginners, and it was lining fabric hitch no one else would see, I could let that slide. I like the striped fabric, but for this kit, maybe a plain lining would have been more suitable.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

From the instructions, depending on pot luck apparently, the kit includes either webbing, printed straps, or as in my case, extra cord fabric which you cut out yourself. For a supposedly pre printed kit, I thought it was rather odd I had to work out how to cut out the bag straps, while the main body of the bag and purse was printed with cut out lines.  As an introduction to Clothkits, I found this more than a little disappointing.

Most of the instructions were easy to follow, although I’m not sure if that would have been the case if I was an absolute beginner.

Adjustments:

  • From the leftover material from the skirt kit, I made inner pockets for both the bag and purse.

    Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
    Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist
  • I will purchase some webbing to make a longer crossover body strap, as the handles I was supposed to make from the ‘left over’ fabric as instructed, were far too small.
  • I added a piece of the ribbon used to tie up the kit, to the zip pull to create a pull tag.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - zip pull

  • I attached the inner lining of the purse, by sewing it by hand. I used a natural coloured thread, which matched the lining fabric for a better finish. I didn’t like how the red thread showed up on the inner white and black striped lining fabric.
  • I will make a button closure for the bag, using the leftover scraps from the skirt kit. Details will be posted as soon as the webbing arrives and I have completed the bag.

In short, had I not purchased the skirt kit, I wouldn’t be able to make the bag work for me at all. For £19.95 plus £2.95 p&p, I don’t think this is good value for money, as the bag is far too small to be useful for an adult, unless you have the skills and knowledge to make it your own. I still have to purchase webbing, as cord fabric handles I don’t think will give a nice finish to a bag of this type. This should have been a quick project, but it will take me a couple of days waiting for extra supplies, for a kit that I think should have included webbing in the first place.

Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist - champagnetwist.wordpress.com
Clothkits bag and purse set | Champagne Twist – champagnetwist.wordpress.com

The purse is the one saving grace for this kit, but it’s not enough to save this product. If I was a starter, this kit would have discouraged me from buying any more Clothkits. In short, very disappointing, and in marked contrast the to skirt kit, I regret purchasing this bag and purse set.

1-star

Yes, the rating is harsh, but when compared with similar products, including other kits from the Clothkits range, this particular one just doesn’t make the grade. I’m glad to say that I’ve started the Clothkits skirt kit, and so far I’m very impressed with the product and can’t wait to finish it, and start wearing it.

I will post my full review of the Clothkits skirt kit on Thursday, so please stay tuned for that. Don’t forget to subscribe to keep updated on all things new on Champagne Twist.

Thanks for reading.