Welcome to the Ex-Official Blog of Writer, Presenter & Crafts Expert Momtaz Begum-Hossain which stopped being active on 31st August 2016.

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Momtaz's NEW BLOG is www.craftandtravel.com

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

I've heard so many people say 'wow, this year's gone by so quickly'. 
But for me, 2012 has felt like the longest year ever. The never ending year that went on and on with increasing levels of work and deadlines to meet. It's had it's fair share of highs and lows, moments I would like to forget and ones that I will remember for the rest of my life. Cliched as it may sound, the London 2012 Olympics was one of the most exciting times I've ever lived through. I feel so lucky that I saw it all happen in my local area and made the most of it by experiencing as much as I could; from the arts and entertainment of the London 2012 Festival to witnessing Olympic history: being there for the 1st ever women's boxing match.
I don't have any expectations of 2013 and no 'resolution' has captured my mind (yet?).  
I'm starting the year, with an open mind, open to ideas, opportunities, new friends, unexpected experiences, visiting different places. Perhaps I'll fulfill one of my ambitions. Perhaps I won't. Fingers crossed I'll achieve more than one.

Happy New Year x

These images were taken at The Southbank Centre over the summer at an installation called Rainbow Park by Polish sculptor Adam Kalonowski and appeared as part of their Festival of the World season.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Bust Christmas Craftacular 2012

Blimey! What were so many cool and colourful people doing on a Sunday afternoon in an East London venue normally associated with boxing bouts? Shopping for crafts of course!
This year's Bust Christmas Craftacular was another festive market filled with gorgeous handmade goodies, sold by indie maker/designers offering a refreshing spread of fabulousness.
Bust? It is indeed an event associated with US magazine Bust - they hold one in New York which inspired the London event to start up a few years ago.
As well as filling up your Christmas stockings there were free workshops throughout the day where you could make stuff. Milliner extraordinaire Chloe from Hatastic! (she makes headwear from sweets and recycled things) ran a session on making mini fascinators ready to be worn on Christmas Day.
While Queen of Crafts Jazz Domino Holly added festival flair with her Handmade Hangout where you could make dream catchers (or snowflake catchers, whichever you preferred!)
Recognise this lovely trio? Yay! It's The Make Escape DJs Isabel, Alice and Dan who provided some of the soundtrack to the event.
It wasn't just visitors ears that were satisfied, sights were too thanks to the rather spectacular live entertainment courtesy of a hula girl...yes a girl who performs with a hula hoop. And not just any old girl; one of the happiest and most enthusiastic dancers I've ever come across!
 Like every good event there was a raffle. I do love a raffle. Especially one with such brilliant prizes...keeping my fingers, toes and current buns crossed for the giant Craft necklace donated by Tatty Devine. It would look so fabulous on me.
Last year I got over excited about meeting my hero Rob Ryan. He was back this year in his own Print Grotto where he was selling jawdroppingly amazing screenprinted wrapping paper.
Amongst the 75+ stalls was a lovely selection by my favourite haberdashery supplies shop All The Fun Of The Fair. You can normally find them in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street, pop by next time you're in that area.
 My fave stall was by Crafty Pint - really colourful and welcoming selling fun cushions and bunting made from vintage tea towels and character fabric. Crafty Pint also run regular craft workshops in South London, check out their site to find out more.
The youngest stall holder was Chloe from Hatastic's niece who managed the stall while Chloe ran her workshop. Take a good look at this face, she has her sights set on being Prime Minister..,and she loves craft which is a good thing, so expect lots of crafter-friendly policies!
 It was also great to see newcomers The Craft Closet selling their 'make it yourself' craft kits. The girls were so committed this was their second stall of the day. They also had one at We Make London where they served a certain Mr Gok Wan who bought one of their 'knit a purse' kits.
 This is why the Craftivists say to make three jigsaw pieces for their I Am A Piece project, one to give to them, one to gift to someone else and one to pop on your tree!
That Sarah Corbett, she never takes a break! She was even busy stitching on the Craftivist stand..while stylish sporting some fab jigsaw shaped earrings.
It wasn't just crafty goodness for sale, The Merry Bobbins sold homemade chutney and marmalade to raise funds for Age Concern and there were many tempting cakes for sale including Egg Nog cupcakes by Ms Vegan Cupcakes - yum!
I got chatting to the current president of Shoreditch Sisters WI who is about to embark on a new job in The Congo for three years...I'm sure she'll be inspiring them with her crafty presence, I loved this jumper she customised with a felt Christmas tree decked out with sequin baubles.
 I also bumped into the super lovely Rosie Martin aka DIY Couture...who was on the hunt for a Christmas gift for her mum.
I was searching for things I can send in the post and picked up this lovely typewriter brooch by Kayleigh Omara which I am still umming and aahing about keeping for myself...
 While these badges by Mary Kilvert are being sent to my friend Janine in Ecuador who collects sausage dog memorabilia.

Another year, another great event. There are so many Xmas craft fairs to choose from in London, all fabulous, but this one is especially a treat to visit. The standard of crafts on sale is really high and it's well priced. If you missed it then try and get along next year, and if you can't wait until Winter, they usually have a Spring fair too.

The Bust Christmas Craftacular took place at York Hall in Bethnal Green east London, on Sunday 16th December 2012.
Keep up to date with them about future events by visiting their Facebook page.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Is Nicki Minaj my twin?

Not a week goes by when someone doesn’t refer to me as Nicki Minaj. We have colourful hair and a multitude of shades in our wardrobe but surely that’s where the comparisons stop? I mean this Trinidadian beauty looks nothing like me. Then again, we do have a few other things in common, as I discovered when I decided to do some deep research into seeing whether or not we did perhaps did get separated at birth?

1. Think Pink

We have both sported long pink hair. (Check the attention to detail, I make that green eyeshadow and pink lips too!)

2. Blue Tones

Oh and we've tried blue mops as well.

3. Screen Queen

I once had a Marilyn Monroe makeover. Nicki did an ode to Marilyn.

 4. Feeling Fruity


My favourite fruit is mango….Nicki is a mango addict.

5.  Barbie Girls


Nicki has been made into a Barbie doll, I once took my niece to meet Barbie.

 7. Jay Sean

Nicki stars in a Jay Sean video. I do too

8. Booty-licious

I swear by my wellies, even if there’s just a drizzle. Nicki wears wellies on stage.

  8. Island Love

Nicki is from the Caribbean and was born in Trinidad. I once had a Caribbean themed birthday.  
9. Shaking our Pom poms

It’s fair to say that both our wardrobes are spectacular. I like her pom pom top, she would most likely mine too.

  1. Sexy Sagittarians
My birthday is December 6th. Nicki’s birthday is December 8th……
That pretty much seals it…….Nicki Minaj, clearly IS my twin!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner In London

Finally! An invitation to attend a Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving - as soon as my American friend Zak invited me, it was an immediate yes. Feasting with friends on a wet and windy school night is the perfect way to banish winter blues.
Here's the boy himself carving up the turkey. What I love about this image is not the soft focus nature though that does enhance the fact Zak is a total sweetheart....it's the backdrop. The living room window which looks out onto Canary Wharf could easily be his hometown Chicago.
Sadly we did not eat this! Seriously though...£30 for a giant lump of tofu!!!!! I spotted this in a health food shop last week and was shocked!
All guests took along a homemade dish - this one was the most unique. Cinnamon infused sweet potato topped with marshmallows, it's a Nigella recipe, and is a side, not a dessert! 
I loved how the marshmallows melted to form little meringue style peaks.
In keeping with tradition we ate off plastic plates! Apparently this is very American!!
There were also three yummy desserts, this amazing apple pie, a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake.
I was assigned a Corn dish and after much deliberating settled for
Creamy Confetti Corn which I'm proud to say Zak confirmed was a perfect Thanksgiving choice.
I made it by frying up some frozen sweetcorn with an onion and red and green peppers. Pouring on a cup of half & half which I made from blending double cream and soya milk plus a few spoons of cream cheese. It was then seasoned with salt and pepper and baked for around 15 minutes. In the meantime I fried up and shredded vegetarian bacon which I added for garnish.

At Thanksgiving it's important to say what you're thankful for. We all agreed that we were thankful to have friends. Sometimes I neglect mine. I don't even have a Facebook account so I have know no idea what 1/2 of them get up to, but when I see them and hang out with them, life is always much less stressful.

I know, I know. Very little craft blogging from me at the mo - all gone a bit lifestyle. I'm so consumed by craft in my daily life at the minute that when it comes to blogging it's the last thing I want to write about! So um...more me, less crafting for the rest of the year, well until my next book is handed in which is making my life all a bit crazy, busy, mad at the minute!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Memories of The Last Rolo

The other day a friend gave me their last Rolo.
It's probably been a decade since I've eaten a Rolo let alone been offered one. That combined with watching Heston's Fantastical Food* last night where he made the world's biggest 99 ice-cream got me thinking about other old school foodie things I used to do but don't do anymore:

Lipstick M&M
My 1st lipstick was painting my lips with the colour that came off red M&Ms

Wearing Hula Hoops as ring
On all 10 fingers of course, before eating

Sucking Wotsits
The game here is to suck them into nothingness - no munching allowed

Salt & Shake crisps
Saving the salt packets and not adding them to the crisps just because...

Peeling a Twix
Eating all the chocolate off, then the caramel and being left with just the long biscuit base 

Strawberry lace plaits
They taste even better when you thicken them up by plaiting single strands together.

Trans-form-a snack
Can't believe they are now 30p! Anyway back in the day I had the patience to turn them into cars before eating.

Maryland cookies
I used to sandwich them between ice-cream - esp mint choc chip - though too lazy to today, biccies are now for dipping in tea and ice cream eaten for dessert!

Oh dear... this started as a fun reminiscing post, now it's turned into me feeling old. Better stop there then!

*Blatantly inspired by Pimp That Snack

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Money Back Guarantee.....

For those of you who are wondering whether or not to buy my book....I can promise you the above.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Special Offer on 101+ Things To Do With Glitter

Yay! My book is currently featured on Josy Rose, my favourite online haberdashery/craft supplies shop....(I'm not just saying that, it has been for the last seven years so I am really chuffed they decided to stock it! It's the only book they sell!)
Josy Rose is where you can buy the amazing glitter fabric that features in some of the projects - so you can snap up 101+ Things To Do With Glitter at 15% off and buy some sheets of glitter while you're at it!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Day Of The Dead Craft Night

I made the biggest Sugar Skull necklace ever to wear at the Day of The Day of the Craft Night I organised on Tuesday night at The Make Escape.
 Guests made masks, shrines, brooches and bags...see all the other photos here.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween in Gotham City

I recently had the chance the star in my ultimate fantasy photoshoot... so I opted for living out my fantasy to the extreme..being Batgirl for the night.
I was contacted by Ian Macaulay, earlier this year, his hobby is photographing Redheads.
He finds them in all sorts of places, on the street, word of mouth, through friends or online like how me stumbled on my scarlet locks!
We met up for a tea in town and immediately I knew that this was my chance to get on my Batgirl gear and tackle some criminals.
We discussed various options, from me with a motorbike (or Batbike) to standing on the top of a tall building but in the end this alley way off Oxford Street with the BT Tower in the background was the chosen spot.
The photoshoot took place at midnight, in cold wet conditions, beside a drain so it was all very Gotham City like.
I developed a whole new appreciation for models doing this shoot as I had to keep completely still for the lighting to work and was in agony kneeling down!
Firstly Ian photographed me, and then his assistant lit up each wall in order to get the comic book style colouring. I was blown away by their creativity and commitment to making my dream shoot become real.

For me the other challenge was finding my outfit, rather than the classic purple and yellow Batgirl I opted for the darker femme fatale...a tight pvc bodysuit and I made gauntlets and a cape to match.
Not sure what I am going to do with my portrait yet. Ian suggested I blow it up and cover a wall in my flat like a proper poster girl!
But think I'll just share it here for now!

You can see Ian's other Redhead photoshoots here - www.ianshootsredheads.com.
And if you're a Redhead and fancy being photographed, get in touch with him!

Happy Halloween

Thursday, 18 October 2012

#IMAPiece: The Craftivist Jigsaw Project for Save The Children

I stitched this on Tuesday night. 
People often ask me why I'm so positive and it's because this is my motto. 
Every single person on the planet has dreams, ambitions and hopes...and holding on to them is what makes life pleasurable. 
No matter how big or small, every second we put into thinking we shouldn't give up, is a second towards 'achieving.'
The Craftivist Jigsaw Project is also about not giving up...its aim is to support Save The Children's Race Against Hunger Campaign to put an end to the fact that millions of people, including children still go to bed hungry every night : (
The charity have invited 4 of the UK's leading Crafty ambassadors to front the campaign which is asking crafters all over the country to stitch a piece of a fabric jigsaw to show that they are 'A Piece' of the change that will make the world a better place.

Next year is the G8 Summit and Save The Children and The Campaign are asking world leaders to put eradicating hunger at the top of their list. Their method is to present thousands of stitched jigsaw pieces to show that UK Crafters care, and want to make a difference. 
Every single person can get involved. All you need to do is download a template of the jigsaw, stitch on your message and send it to The Craftivists where Sarah will collate them.
There are NO EXCUSES not to do this as the closing date is March so it's the perfect Christmas crafting activity.

Next month Sarah, Jamie, Lauren and Hilary as going to Indonesia with Save The Children to experience some of their projects and report back. This may sound bizarre, but like celebs often go on charity trips, bloggers too can have a positive impact on spreading awareness of campaigns and while they are away they'll be keeping blogs and diaries of their discoveries, inspiring us back home to get involved.

The launch of the campaign took place at a special Save The Children charity shop in Primrose Hill and was attended by a host of bloggers (including mysefl!)
We were all given a pack to help us create a piece of the jigsaw.
Inside were fabric, instructions, a needle and thread.
I stitched my message at the event but will glitter it up at home (obviously!) before giving it to The Craftivists.

I have never liked being told what to do and I dislike it when people insist on what you should and shouldn't do. But this campaign is different.
It's the first time the UK Craft Community have been given an actual voice - it takes us seriously, appreciates us as people whose opinions matters - not just mad hobbyists!
That's why I think it's an opportunity we should not miss out on.
You don't need to spend any money - you just need to stitch a jigsaw piece or two, either on your own or with friends.
The satisfaction afterwards is something you can really be proud of.
Find out more about how to get involved:
Deadly Knitshade (Lauren O'Farrell)'s blog
Hilary Pullen's blog
Mr X Stitch (Jamie Chalmers) blog:
Sarah Corbett (The Craftivists) (you can download the jigsaw template from this link.)