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October, 2013

  1. Becoming A Bunny Girl

    October 18, 2013 by Lally

    I will be going to NYC for the 11th (!) time next week. I have been in the fabulous city for Thanksgiving, 4th July & New years eve, but this will be my first Halloween stateside. I am very excited! Halloween is a big deal over there with people going all out with their costumes and spending hours hand making and perfecting amazing disguises.

    I have always envied my NYC friend’s costumes seen on Facebook albums with perfect snakes, cave women, fallen angels etc all hand made to perfection with make up to match. And now I get the chance to show off my creativity too. With a plethora of parties on my event list, I decided on 2 costumes.

    1. 1960’s playboy bunny (i.e the brave costume)

    2. 1970’s flight attendant (i.e the easy costume)

    Let’s start with the 1970’s flight attendant.

    How gorgeous are these images? What is there not to like? Beautiful clothes, the glamour of travel, the cute hats!

    60s Air Hostesses 60s Air Hostesses 60s Air Hostesses

    My favourite vintage flight attendant is Zooey Deschanel in Almost Famous. How much cuter can you get?

    Zooey Deschanel

    Zooey Deschanel

    My outfit started with my vintage British Airways flight bag, funnily enough purchased in Las Vegas (I am jet set like a real flight attendant). And then for the dress. This was pretty easy to find. With a wardrobe of its own just to house my vintage dresses I just had to look for one most suitable. And jackpot! A white shift dress with blue and turquoise stripes. I already own a white pair of go-go boots and a turquoise pair or tights. The peaked turquoise hat was a complete and utterly lucky coincidence. I found it randomly in H&M in the sale for 7€. Super happy about that! To complete the accessories are a scarf from my vast collection and a pair of white gloves bought in a vintage store. The final details will be the still to be sourced airplane themed pin for the hat and a plastic tray for drinks (cups to be super glued on).

    british airways flight bagstewardess costume

    I am also thinking about adding some blood/gore for a more Halloween feel – flight attendant survived crash perhaps?

     

    And now for the pièce de résistance.

    There is something so gorgeous, so sexy and so glamorous about a 1960’s Playboy Bunny.

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    The more modern re-invention is just a bit tacky and slutty, but back in the day, they were the height of glamour. Many famous people worked as Playboy Bunnies early in their careers including Debbie Harry & Patricia Quinn, Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show.

    It all started with a brilliantly doctored image by a friend of mine and posted on my Facebook wall for my birthday.

    fox bunny

    It just so happens that the girl with the added on fox tail is wearing a suit very similar to one I own. My paisley, boned vintage swimsuit is arguably one of my best finds. Not only for its beauty but also for the fact that it fits me perfectly! So I had the basis for my costume and the rest let me release some creative juices.

    First the tail. I had found some ideas for a homemade tail made like a pompom. Easy, yes but it did not have the look I required. I wanted a furry tail. I had the idea to find a 2nd hand baby’s furry coat to cut up and recycle but the trip to my local kiddy charity shop did not end up as expected. After finding nothing suitable on the rails, my eyes glanced over to the soft toys and to a particularly perfect polar bear – very cute, but it needed to be sacrificed to make the perfect tail. A bit of cutting, resewing and stuffing and the bear is transformed into my wiggle perfect tail.

    bearbear tail

    Next the ears.  I bought some blue satin and a matching head band and with a little bit of google inspiration, wire, left over polar bear stuffing and mostly ‘making it us as I go along, I managed to create some lovely ears.

    ears in the makingears in the making finished ears

    The last touches are cuffs and collar (made simply from a second hand white shirt and changing the buttons), second hand bow tie, blue heels and a hand made name rosette.

    collar and cuffsshoerosette

    Final outfits will be revealed on Halloween and all I need to do now is practice my bunny dip.

    mayfair-club-bunny-girls-1960s


  2. ‘Kuku’ for my first ever cupcake invention: spinach, feta & cumin

    October 18, 2013 by Lally

    After months of baking cupcakes following other people’s recipes, I thought it was about time to try to create my own. Following the big success of my savoury feta and courgette cupcakes (taken from Cupcake Magic by Kate Shiazi) I decided to make a twist using a recipe from an old vegetarian cookbook for a ‘kuku’, a Middle Eastern oven baked omelette. I made the kuku for a dinner party recently and it was delicious, packed with spinach and spiced with cumin. After making it for the second time last week as a tasty hangover cure, the light bulb went on and I realised that this would make a perfect cupcake. Plus how amazing is the word kuku?

    With ex work colleagues coming over to my place that evening, it seemed like the perfect time for the trial.

    I followed the original recipe and switched courgette with spinach and added fresh mint leaves and cumin from the kuku recipe. It all looked OK in terms of batter so they went into the oven with hope and crossed fingers.

    The timings were worrying but after ensuring they were slightly golden on top, it was time to release them from the oven.

    spinach, feta & cumin

    spinach, feta & cumin

    I nervously tasted one and SUCCESS!! Nom Nom Nom! They were just as I had hoped. Mouthwateringly moist with spinach and with just the right amount of cumin to spice things up a bit!

    If any further proof was needed, all 16 of the cupcakes were devoured by the end of the evening with echoes of ‘mmmm’ and ‘aaaah’ and ‘can I have the recipe please?’.  So here it is:

    Makes 16 small or 12 large

    Ingredients:

    400g spinach/14oz spinach

    200g/7oz plain flour

    2 tsbp sugar

    3 tsp baking powder

    1 tsp salt

    1 tsp ground cumin

    3 medium eggs

    2 spring onions

    250g ricotta cheese

    150g feta cheese

    110g/4oz butter, melted

    60ml/2 fl oz milk

    Handful of chopped mint leaves

    Ground black pepper

     

    Put the oven on to 170˚C to preheat.

    1. Gently cook the spinach till soft. I did mine in the microwave in batches – it does shrink a lot once cooked after the initial spinach kitchen takeover. Then place in a colander and press out all the water. I used the bottom of a large bowl to get better surface area. Roughly chop the squeezed spinach.

    2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & cumin in a sieve over a large mixing bowl and sift to ensure all dry ingredients are mixed.

    3. In a 2nd bowl, mix together well the spinach, eggs, finely chopped onions, ricotta, feta, melted butter milk and mint. Season to taste with the pepper – I like a lot.

    4. Put the wet ingredients into the dry and mix to combine. Ensure you get all the flour from the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be thick and lumpy and smelling delicious.

    5. Put spoonfuls of the mixture into cases placed in a cupcake tin. For even sized cakes, I use a heaped 50ml measuring spoon. This will give a good sized cupcake.

    6. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes to start with. If they are too high they will brown too quickly. I kept checking them every few minutes. Once the tops seem cooked and starting to turn golden, take them out. I found that the insides seem a bit under cooked when first taken out, but after resting to cool the insides will cook out to leave them perfect.

    7. Scoff away and enjoy!

     

     


  3. ‘Merch Bitch’

    October 1, 2013 by Lally

    I started writing this post with the intention of kicking it off with a small history about my introduction into live music as a teenager.  As it appears to have opened a huge reminiscing flood gate, I will skip this topic in this particular post and create another interesting story later…

    I have been going to and enjoying live music for years. My first experiences were the rock bands (in my early teens) and indie bands (in my late teens) of the 90’s. As a teenager with limited funds, it was rare that any band merchandise was bought. Regardless, we would go over to the merchandise stand after a gig to see what was available. But it was not always the merchandise that fascinated me, I could never help but wonder about the person selling the items. How cool was it to work with a band and go on tour with them, just selling merchandise?

    With older years comes more disposable income, so I can now purchase items from the merchandise stand. I love the idea of a band t-shirt, but my style does not often give room for this look. Nevertheless, I will still go over to have a look at the goods on offer and continue to have a twinge of intrigue about the person selling the wares.

    Last week I was given the opportunity to actually become this person (well, for one night only). Going to a lot of concerts over the years has led me to meet a lot of fun people along the way (I guess that’s another blog topic…). One of these people was Brett, who I met a few years ago when he was working with The Rakes (2003-2009) as the ‘sound guy’. We kept in touch over the years and he contacted me out of the blue. He is touring with Kate Nash and needed someone to run the merch stand for the first night of her tour, and he thought of me. With the promise of free beer and 60€, I jumped at the chance. It gave me the opportunity to use my professional skills in sales and visual merchandising as well as getting the chance to chat to the fans and to meet Kate herself.

    I spent some important time deciding what to wear on the occasion of becoming a Merch Bitch and decided on a comfortable yet glamourous rock chick look of denim shorts and my new fringed jacket from Topshop.  I opted out of a suggestion from a friend to wear something low cut in order to sell more, which was fortunate because most of my customers were teenage girls who I am sure had no interest in my cleavage.

    On a side note, I actually do not remember how the term “Merch Bitch” was created and made itself at home in my personal dictionary, but I was one now and that was all that mattered.

    This is what I saw and experienced in picture form.

    The Venue: the beautiful Botanique.

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    As it was the first night of the tour, I had to unpack and count all the stock.

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    As the band and crew ate, I created a lovely product display using only duct tape. Kate came over to say hello quickly before her dinner and a memory from the first time I saw her in concert in the very same venue sprung to mind. I was queuing for the bathrooms when a very shy, yet excited fan came up to me “Vous etes Kate Nash??” I was flattered but I had to tell her “non”. Even with the red hair, fringe and the English accent, I very much doubt Kate Nash would be using the public restrooms :)

    Thanks to Miss Tracy Bull for the photo of me in action.

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    Funnily enough, I was reminded of my teenage years as only 3 of the 20€ t-shirts were sold. I watched many teenage girls (the main fan base for the evening) count out their pennies to see what they could afford. Hence why I mainly sold the affordable rings, stickers, tote bags and signed posters.

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    I used my sale skills to sell all the signed posters “freshly signed by Kate herself before the gig” and modelled the cuter than cute ring.

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    The support Band for Kate Nash were The Tuts, a young three piece punk band from London. After their performance they came out to sell and sign their merchandise and have photos taken with fans. They were sweet and excitable bunch who were thrilled to be doing the whole European tour with Kate Nash.

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    They had the cutest merchandise.

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    I left the goods in the ‘safe’ hands of the venue security, and went in to watch the main performance. I had seen Kate a few years before but this was a very different performance. Gone were the soft keyboard solos, replaced by a more heavy angrier sound on guitar with a new all girl band. I liked it! Kate engrossed the crowd with her new tougher songs, stories and feminist views. Which for me were culminated by her song “Free My Pussy” which led to a lot of open mouths (my friend Martin) and nervous laughter (me).  Before you get a bit confused, the song is inspired by Pussy Riot and the B-side of this single is a song called ‘Free Pussy Riot Now!’ by Kate Nash & The Thin Kids.

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    After the gig was the main rush of young animated fans, all well-mannered and forming an orderly queue. The more I sold and chatted to the kids the more I realised that my intrigue of the ‘Merch Bitch’ is not just a phenomenon experienced by me. I could sense their interest and anticipation at the thought that I knew Kate Nash and could help them with their autographs, photo ops and gift giving. I had to tell at least 10 fans that unfortunately I did not know Kate personally and that I was just selling the merch. Oh, the look of disappointment in their eyes. There were a small group of diehard fans who asked me if Kate would come out to sign their newly purchased albums or to give her hand made gifts. They waited and waited. I don’t know how long for because I left before they did.

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    I was told that I did a very good job (well of course – I am committed and professional in all jobs at hand). After a very entertaining gig, 6 free beers (hiccup) and packing up all the stock it was time to go home. Now with the experience of being a ‘merch bitch’.