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Welcome to the official blog of Journalist, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Asian Media Awards 2015 - My 'Finalist' Outfit!

It's not like I need an excuse to dress up. But when there's a specific event, there's nothing I love more than curating a special outfit, just for that day. As a Finalist in the 'TV Presenter Of The Year' category at The Asian Media Awards 2015, I was extra excited and enthused about the possibilities. In this interview I did above when I arrived I was asked 'do you dress like that just to stand out?' The answer? NO! This is me. I have expressed myself through fashion ever since I was at primary school - styling skills like this don't just come overnight you know! While my look is clearly not to everyone's tastes, I have only ever dressed for ME. So here's what I created for the Asian Media Awards 2015: 

'Desi Spacegirl' a sci-fi inspired hybrid of cyber punk chic and Bollywood Glamour...

The Outfit in full, shot at Hotel Gotham, in Manchester, where I stayed

Finding the right dress was the starting point. I knew early on I wanted something 'fusion' flavoured. I had no intention of buying an Indian outfit or borrowing one, I wanted to get something handmade. I had a look on Etsy which is filled with indie designers (I prefer to support them over big brands) and came across the shimmering styles by Coquetry Clothing. It was one of those instant YES's - the bit that did it for me was the sleeves and I love a flared skirt.


Trims bought in Green Street, London

The dress needed heels to make it work so I bought a plain pair from Ebay and customised them. As the dress clearly had a Western feel I wanted my accessories to add the Asian vibe so I decided to create my own. I didn't need to buy a bag, a few months ago my friend Zoe was chucking out an old Indian clutch and it was the perfect size for carrying what I needed for the event - lipgloss and lots of business cards! It was a good excuse to top up my trim supplies so I had a spree in a gorgeous new haberdashery in East London.
Materials I used to customise Bollywood themed shoes and handbag
And here are The Shoes...(thanks Suman for the photo!)

And...The Clutch

For finishing touches I had some mendhi done on one of my hands from the Pavan Henna Bar in Selfridges
...and to add a cosmic edge I had some galaxy themed nails done (these are my real nail, not not fake ones!) Thanks Susanna for the artistry.

I used a folky themed trim to make a belt (I added ties and beads at the end). It fit around my waist with just enough left to make a matching cuff.)


I have long been an admirer of Make-Up Artist Armand Beasley, he's not your typical MUA, he's much more creative and understands what femininity and individuality mean. He's also based in Manchester (though if Goldy Hawn is in the UK, he's her personal MUA - thankfully she didn't need him the night of the awards - so I nabbed him for me!)
Armand created this incredible 'Starship Troopers meets Blade Runner meets Glamazon look'...perfect for my Desi Spacegirl theme - and you saw it here first. Gold eyebrows are going to be a thing.

The event itself was fun, positive and filled with smiles. I caught up with friends and influential people. I'm a massive supporter of the Asian Media industry, I've been involved in it since I was 17 and I hope I'll always have a chance to make my mark in it, and the wider media world.

Here's some more snaps from the glittering evening...

With Asad Shan, who won TV Presenter Of The Year (no hard feelings...clearly we should Co-Present something!)

Fabulous actresses Clara Indrani and Goldy Notay whose play Happy Birthday Sunita was nominated for Best Stage Show

TV & Radio Presenter extraordinaire Shay Grewal
BBC Asian Network's Haroon Rashid with Video Channel Of The Year winner Planet Parle

With Nat Bollywood & Matt Doodling Around

The Asian Media Awards 2015 took place at The Hilton Deansgate in Manchester. See the full list of winners here.

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Best Vintage Clothes Shop In London (well the cheapest anyway!)

The other day my colleague popped in the office and told me he'd just seen a sign for a vintage fashion shop where you can stock up as much as you want for a tenner. We've been located near Mile End for the last five months and I can honestly say that despite the proximity to the park and canal there is NOTHING HERE, so to discover there is a clothes shop for me to hang out in was music to my ears. And he wasn't wrong. I popped in a few days later and found myself lost in a warehouse filled with clothes and when I say filled, I mean FILLED!
Taken from Mile End Vintage's Instagram account
Mile End Vintagestore does indeed work by a 'stock up on what you want' policy. You take either a small bag (which is still huge) or a large bag, fill it up with whatever you want for either £10 or £20 and that's it, done deal, a whole new wardrobe for less than a weekly travelcard. There are some rails of 'priced items' but they won't break the bank.

I popped in one lunch hour and only managed to make a dent in the stock, I didn't even get a chance to fill a bag. 

But's here's what I did take home:

3 Dresses

Sixties launderette chic
Seventies Hippy Dippy

Eighties power dress
1 knitted tank top

2 Scarves

1 jacket* 

NOT PHOTOGRAPHED YET! (check back soon!)

*it's pink wool, was a bit big for me, so I am currently having it taken in by six inches so it's nice and fitted!
ALL THIS BOOTY FOR THE GRAND SUM of £6!!!!!! Yes £6 and it's all good quality stuff.

I've been to ALOT of vintage clothing emporiums in my time, I used to live in Brighton, home of vintage chic and I spend a lot of time in Brick Lane, the heart of vintage in London. Generally the stores are colourful, creatively decorated with retro music blaring out of speakers and the costs vary from 'that's pretty good' to 'hmmm should I really spend that much?'.

Taken from Mile End Vintage's Instagram account
Take away all the styling and fanfayre and what really matters is the clothes, and Mile End has plenty. 1/3 warehouse, 1/3 market stall and 1/3 shop, it really is a proper bargain hunter's paradise and if you have time on your hands you really can dig deep and discover incredible finds.

It's a clean and spacious setting and there are several changing rooms. The team also offer an alteration service so if the dress you find is too long or jacket not figure hugging enough they can sort that out for you. Most exciting of all though is that stock changes regularly AND they hold regular £1 sales at weekends.....including this weekend 23rd and 24th October. Which translates as buying clothes for £1. £1.

Taken from Mile End Vintage's Instagram account
There are a variety of styles from different genres and decades in stock, for guys and girls. Above are some happy shoppers from their last Pound Sale.

I called this post 'The Best Vintage Clothes Shop' in London and I believe this because going there is a proper shopping experience. 

It's not about beautifully pressed frocks hanging on lace covered hangers beside a jukebox....this is rifling through a neverending car boot sale where treasure could be anywhere. And when you  discover something you like that , there's a great sense of achievement that you don't get from ordinary shopping.

Yes there are plenty of vintage shops, markets, fairs and boutiques in London but they are so predictable. At Mile End Vintagestore however you really don't know what you'll find.

 It gets my thumbs up and I recommend making the trip here when you can. Now then, when am I next going back? *consults diary*

Mile End Vintagestore, 452-454 Robeson Street, London, E3 4JA. Follow their social media to find out about their £1 sales, next one Sat Oct 23rd and Sun Oct 24th 2015. 
Usual hours are 11am-6pm and 2pm-7pm Fridays. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Handmade Fair 2015 - Live Craft Mash Up

It was a case of Knitter vs Glitter this weekend as I returned to Kirstie Allsop's Handmade Fair as one of her Craft Experts to take part in Friday's Live Craft Mash Upsponsored by Mollie Makes magazine and HobbyCraft, and this time I was up against the fabulous (and feline friendly) Deadly Knitshade. We were both given a plain polysterene wreath to decorate, in front of a live audience in just 45 minutes.

In advance of the Mash Up we were asked what materials we'd like, I opted for the stuff I love best: sparkles, spangles, glitter, confetti, sequins and lots and lots of gemstones, while Deadly Knitshade brought in yarn (obviously!)

As she wound her wreath with a pre-knitted fluro magenta panel, I got messy decoupaging the base - both of us crafted while being interviewed by our Mollie Makes host.

I hadn't tested out my design, just did a few sketches and developed a concept, inspired by both of our mops. DK is usually seen with blue hair while I'm currently rocking purple and green. Together we are a human peacock so I took my lead from that and whipped up a themed wreath.

Due to time restraints it wasn't the neatest of craft projects but I did manage to cover the base, create some giant peacock eyes lined with sequin trim and filled them in with think confetti glitter, stick on lots of gems (whilst also welding some onto the table), before completing my design with a feature section made from peacock feathers and my piece-de-resistance, a felt peacock which I had stitched the night before in front of the telly.

Meanwhile Ms Knitshade transformed hers into a monster door knocker complete with bulging eyes and slithery bits.

The Knitter just pipped the Glitter to the post and Deadly Knitshade was crowned the champion of the Mash Up. 

 I loved her creation and was pleased with mine too - I'm going to hang it proudly in my pad somewhere. 

Think you don't have time to craft? Although we both did a wee bit of prep, we still managed to create crafty showstoppers in under an hour, see, it's possible! 

Afterwards we hung out at the Fair, hooked up with some fellow crafters including knitter Louise Walker, printer Zeena Shah and animatronics/designer maker for film and TV, Emma Brassfield. I also had a good old natter with some other crafty folk which was superb.

A fine afternoon of living the crafty life. I have a few more craft events appearing in my diary in the lead up to Christmas which is nice, including guesting at my local WI, hopefully running a workshop for a well-known brand and possibly recording a video too. Exciting!

Thanks to Lauren & Emma for taking most of these pics - if you were at The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court, I hope you had fun and extra special thanks to everyone who came to see us : ) 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Food & Nostalgia: Dishes my father liked

I've always loved the date September 1st.
After January 1st it's the best time for new beginnings. Symbolising the end of the summer and starting a new term. It's a positive, rejuvenating date...well it was until six years ago when it became the day my ubba (father) would depart this world. 

Every year I write about him on this date because it's a chance for me to reflect on his life and everything he taught me. This year's theme is food.
The foods that fill me with nostalgia and remind me of him. 

Malted Milk Biscuits
Every Bangladeshi father has a thing for biscuits. Whenever mine visited Bangladesh he'd carry empty tupperware in his suitcase, which he'd bring back to the UK, filled with traditional biscuits. They were sold loose by weight, so he'd take the packaging from home, as you needed something to put them in. 
But when the stash was finished he'd have to resort to British biccies. Scottish shortbread was an early favourite as were Sports biscuits but Malted Milks were the reigning champion. He clearly had good taste because they really are the ultimate dunking biscuit. I don't eat them often but I'm going to buy a pack today.

Milk and Rice
This is something I remember clearly during my childhood. After we'd finished our evening meal of curry and rice, cooked by my mother, sometimes she'd make him a special dessert (just for him), which consisted of leftover rice cooked in warm milk. It was like a really basic rice pudding. It never sounded or looked very appetising to me especially as when she made proper rice pudding it was delicious, but this strange dessert was something he liked. Maybe it was his nostalgic food. He was certainly very happy when he ate it.

Crunchy Nut Cornflakes
Ubba's breakfast consisted of egg on toast with honey and a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, mixed with muesli, then heated in the microwave with milk (the third milky dish that appears on this list!). He had a sweet tooth and anything honey flavoured was welcomed.
LucozadeNot strictly food, but other than drinking 1/2 cups of tea throughout the day and the occasional Indian Tonic water (which was a much revered drink in our household), Lucozade was ubba's favourite tipple, he always had a bottle in the house. 

I have other fond foodie memories too like him buying monkey nuts when we were kids and treats from Greggs bakery like apple turnovers, London cheesecakes (pictured), and swiss buns or ring doughnuts. We didn't have a lot of money but he always made sure we had something yummy to eat after school.

After my mother died he lost his appetite. I missed her cooking so much, but it was worse for ubba. He had been living on her home cooked Bangladeshi food for over 30 years so to suddenly have that taken from him - it's something he never spoke about, or I ever asked him about; it's only now that I think about the emotional and physical effects that would have had on him, and on anyone in a similar situation.

One day he got really upset and angry with me because I bought some supermarket samosas. At the time I thought he was being mean, but maybe it's because he just missed my mother's?

In losing his appetite ubba moved away from Bangladeshi food and started eating Western food, but I'll never forget the time (shortly after my mum passed away) that I made him veggie burgers for dinner. That night he had the worst stomach pains of his life, probably because after years of home cooking his body wasn't used to processed food. 

I spent a lot of time with him when I first moved back home after university and we always ate together - it was a bond we shared. Eating together is so much better than eating alone.

I didn't anticipate it, but this has been the most difficult piece to write about him. In previous years (2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010) it's felt more joyful recalling his memory, but food, I've just discovered is very personal and nostalgic, making this much more of an emotional experience. 

I'm not one for dragging out long cathartic blog posts, I'd rather take some time out now and think about him in my prayers than type away on my laptop, so I'll leave it at this. 

Looking forward to dunking a Malted Milk biscuit into my tea for elevensees this morning, feel free to join me! 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Summer Holiday Narrowboating

When one of my sisters invited the entire family on a narrowboating trip this summer I was the first to say yes. I've always marvelled at canals and canal boats, but a week before, fear set in. We've never been on an extended family holiday and 11 of us were about to live in eachother's pockets in the most squashed conditions imaginable and hey this is Britain, rain was inevitable. All of a sudden I wanted to abandon ship before I'd even boarded - was this going to be the worst holiday ever?
With scenes this stunning...NEVER!
The week we picked was one of those magical summer weeks where England really is a green and pleasant land (unlike the conditions under which I am writing this - grey skies and it's tipping it down!)  
I felt at home straight away. Ok it was a bit rustic (we ran out of water twice, electricity also had a tendency to reduce in the evenings and the bed reserved for me was the kitchen table (which converted rather impressively)...but that stuff was minor when the rest of the experience was so much fun.
For a start I never knew cows drank canal water.....something you'd only know if you were living the canal life.
Other than having to moor up frequently as locks approached,
and having to open and close locks,
....there was nothing much to do other than relax.

Here's what we got up to whilst doing just that ...
Country walks
Lots and lots of geocaching
(Finding treasures like this)
Picking blackberries directly off the the canal route - (our version of foraging)
Which we turned into yummy dessert (ok, one of my sisters did - not me, I just ate it!)
I thought I'd knit more but actually the views were so incredible I was occupied just looking out and taking it all in.
We went on duck watch and duck count...
...make that dog watch too - there are so many dogs aboard canal boats.
On one of our stop off day trips we met a mini pig. 
Charlie our family monkey felt at home too and we  encountering quite a few of his relatives on route - turns out monkeys love canal holidays.
We also saw a few knitted Rosie & Jims - the ultimate canal mascot.
Played board games aplenty.
Found a secret garden,
and managed some outdoor fitness.
 I also lay on top of the boat one midnight and watched meteor showers - a seriously cosmic experience and something I'd never be able to do in London.

By the end of the week no one has killed eachother - (obviously there was the odd bits of annoyance but no major arguments.) It wasn't exactly 'family bonding' but it was nice to spend time together and not just the few hours at birthday parties, which we normally manage. I had a chance to talk to everyone - nieces, nephews, brother-in-laws, sisters....that in itself made the experience one to treasure.

As for how I feel about canals and narrowboating now...I love them even more. Not sure if I'll have the opportunity again (apart from holidaying in Kerala's backwaters which is on my bucket list), but it truly was a worthwhile experience and a fun summer holiday. 

We picked up the boat (from a company called Anglo Welsh) from Great Harwood and spent a week exploring the East Midlands, a part of the UK I've not been to before. We did the 'Out & Back' route, which meant we travelled a certain distance and then travelled back on ourselves, this was recommended for beginners (no one had driven a narrow boat before). It was a learning experience; the first thing you learn is that you won't get as far as you think you will - canal life is slow but that's something to embrace rather than stress about.

There were several bedrooms on board, two toilets, a shower, fully equipped kitchen, two areas that converted into beds, a TV, DVD and CD player, even towels so it's easy to feel at home. We cooked on board every evening and took picnics out at lunch . 

It was a holiday of simple pleasures but then simple things are usually the best.

Fancy trying a narrow boat holiday? I'm happy to answer any questions, leave me a comment or check out the company -we got our boat from here.

Happy August Bank Holiday everyone!