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Sunday, 22 February 2015

How To Host A Crafternoon

Although I'm a crafter, most of my friends aren't! Some have never been to my craft night or have no interest in being creative. They don't understand what I'm talking about when I say I'm running a craft workshop or working at a craft event...so for once, rather than bringing crafts to strangers at the public workshops I run, I decided to introduce 'making' to my friends by holding a Crafternoon around mine. Here's what happened...
I couldn't entertain without laying on a spread. Cooking for others is a good excuse to try dishes that I can't normally make for myself (i.e. an entire cheesecake) so I took it as an opportunity to make food I wanted to eat! Although I'm vegetarian, I lean mainly to vegan food so I took the high risk decision to cook a vegan starters and main for friends who are all meat eaters. As I prefer my food to have a healthy edge I tend to cook with lots of herbs and spices...but no salt. I don't add salt to anything so I'm used to the taste but I'm fully aware that most people do, so I was slightly nervous about whether my guests would be able to eat what I gave them. Thankfully there was nothing to worry about. Although shocked to discover there was no salt, there were lots of comments about how good the flavour was...phew!
I served individual Aloo Chaats for starters... 
...followed by a Root Veg Kitchuri with roasted fennel and butternut squash with a beetroot and soya bean salad.
Dessert was a delicious Spiced Mandarin Cheesecake (a recipe of Dipna Anand). 
 This contained dairy - the Philadephia cream cheese filling was fused with ground cardamom and star anise which gave the cheesecake a lovely fragrant and warming flavour. 

My idea of fun anyway! I opted for an easy and effective makeover project, one I recently ran at The Damn Good Curry Supper Club to decorate candle holders...
Guests all took the task seriously, there was some proper concentration going on but it was also a good way to meet each other.

The making took place on arrival before starters arrived and was then finished off after the dessert - in between there was lots of girlie banter. 
Deciding on a guestlist was hard, I wrote down a huge list of people I hadn't seen in ages - should I focus on besties, should I invite boys and if so, which ones, but in the end I realised what I actually wanted to do was spend time with 'recent' friends I've made and get to know them better, so I only invited girls who I met over the last few months up to around two years. 
After lunch I took them on a trip to my local area. Greenwich is one of the most beautiful places in London but it is a trek to get there so I didn't want them to leave without showing them why I love where I live so much. Despite the chilly weather I insisted they all wrap up warm and then we wondered through Greenwich park to see the river views before a quick tour of The Queen's Gallery and a hot chocolate stop to warm up again.

It took me two days to do the washing up afterwards (I loathe washing up!) but it was worth it. Sunday Crafternoon was a success, one of my guests even blogged about it herself which you can check out here

I suspect it will be a few months (if not a year!) before I have a chance to do any more entertaining again so I was pleased to have some nice pics to remember the occasion.

Thinking of hosting a crafternoon around yours?
Here are my tips:

This was my timing:
12pm-1pm Arrive & get crafting
1pm-3pm Lunch, chatter & finish crafting
3pm-5pm Sunday stroll and hot chocolate stop off
  • Keep the project simple (stay away from special techniques that not everyone will know)
  • Plan out a menu and do as much prep as you can the night before
  • Make it easy by sticking with a manageble number of guests
  • Don't be afraid to ask guests to bring a dish if you can't prepare everything yourself
  • Don't worry too much about how clean and tidy your home is, the truth is most guests won't notice as they will be too busy enjoying themselves
  • Prep as much of the food ahead of time so you're not hiding away in the kitchen, but can be there to help with the making
  • Don't stress - just enjoy it, even when things aren't going to plan it's fine, no one will notice! Just keep cool and craft!

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Working At The Asiana Bridal Show 2015

Image: Taken from Avaaya's Instagram account
I'm not normally awake and getting ready for work at 5am, but The Asiana Bridal Show is one of the occasions I'll happily get out of bed for. It was my fifth year working at this annual bridal fashion show in London and my third year presenting the official video for the event. My task involved capturing on camera, all the backstage gossip from the models getting ready in hair and make-up, to a sneak preview of the fashion show, interviewing the designers and organisers and recording the essence of the event.
Never one to shy away from dressing up, I was looking forward to getting glammed up for the occasion. Trouble was I really, really struggled with my outfit. Having worked the three weekends leading up to the show and the day before it, I had little time to prep/try on ideas. The night before I had it down to three outfits but in the morning none of them worked so minutes before my cab was due to arrive I put this ensemble together. Thankfully it worked! So with that sorted it was then over to the Nina Ubhi Hair & Beauty Institute to ensure I looked the part - Nina did my make-up while her head hair stylist Zaheer (pictured) looked after my locks.
This year the catwalk was once again designed by Maz Events and it turned out to be one of the most original fashion show runways I've ever seen. Bridal events normally involve pretty, floral, dainty catwalks but this one took inspiration from the streets of Mumbai. Depicting a classic street scene it was comprised of authentic props with nods to the infamous slums. In fact when I interviewed Rita from Maz she said one of the main inspirations was the film Slumdog Millionaire and the idea of juxtaposing high couture fashion with the hustle and bustle of every day life. Here are some more close ups of the staging...
The models walked out from both of the doorways, I couldn't resist getting up on stage for a pic!
I couldn't wait to get my hands on the corner shop either! It was filled with real stock!

There were three fashion shows during the day featuring 10 designers and boutiques. I'm not posting any pics from the catwalk this year asI was too busy to take any but do a search and you'll find pics on - try Asian Fashion Blog as a starting point, catwalk trend reports will be posted on Asiana.TV soon too.
For the video we spent a lot of time backstage capturing the atmosphere of what it's like working at a fashion show - everyone taking selfies, last minute spritz of hairspray, styling jewellery and accessories, steaming garments, make-up touch-ups, food (interesting the models like their chicken and chips!) and general fun and messing around - indeed I couldn't help have a giggle with these sword bearing gents modelling Ahsan's Bespoke Menswear.
There was also a chance to get a closer inspection of all the catwalk outfits...

Aside from the three fashion shows is the rest of the Asiana Bridal Show which is essentially a giant wedding expo - filled with exhibitors to help out on every aspect of your wedding planning from food and decor to entertainment and cakes (I even spied a Batman cake!) The new Spring issue of Asiana Wedding Magazine was also launched at the show and here I am with my Editorial team Zahra and Fariha.

Asians are known for having massively excessive weddings and whatever one thinks of that, there really is no other culture that does weddings so beautifully with so much detail. Every single stand at the show is stunning, most blew my mind - but every year the 100 companies that exhibit really go to town. It's worth going to the show if you have an appreciation of creativity and design as much as it is if you're getting married. I particularly liked this one by Zara's Catering:
I so wanted this tuk tuk! It's actually a mobile photobooth by Mobile Moments

Image: Asiana

The biggest talking point of the event was the unveiling of the most expensive Asian wedding outfit ever made in the UK worth £100,000. How can an outfit be worth so much? Well it was encrusted with real diamonds. A collaboration between Birmingham based designer Sati and Dhir Diamond Jewellers, it was kept inside a glass box and attracted masses of media attention (BBC, ITV, national and local papers and this segment on the BBC Asian Network)...an unknown fact that I am allowed to share on my  blog is that I wrote the press release that got everyone interested in the dress...the second time in a row press releases I have written have been successful - I am not planning on becoming a PR any time soon, but I guess if I ever do decide to change direction I have developed some good work experience in the field!
The official is coming soon, can't wait to share it - the edit has been left in the hands of Richard on right, he was my cameraman too alongside assistant Deban from Epic Media. It was a bit of an experimental film but lots of fun to make. Will post the link here when it's up!  
Here it is! WATCH NOW