Thursday, 29 September 2011

Divas: Why Betty Pamper adores them

Bring on the divas
I can barely contain my excitement. Tonight on BBC2 there is a drama about  Shirley Bassey."A Very British Diva" promise to portray Basseys rise from poverty in Wales to world wide super stardom and I for one can't wait.I can indulge my love for the Diva whilst sipping on a cocktail-I may even wear a tiara.

The magnificent Shirley Bassey
Ive always loved a Diva. From being a small child I was fascinated by Liza Minnelli,Judy Garland, Billie Holiday and Shirley Bassey. Its that irresistible combination of misery (which all true Divas must suffer) and self belief. You can hear it in the voice. Women who had suffered many bumps in the road but ultimately made it to the bright lights and big city (often to be dragged down again, its almost written in the diva script)
Liza-Wrapped in furs of course-She's a Diva
As well as the voices (and what voices-capable of wringing a tear from the most hardened heart) its the unashamed glamour of Divas which like a magpie caught my eye as a little girl and continues to fascinate.
Never knowingly under dressed

Floor length sequined gowns, diamonds sparkling, hair a foot tall with heals to match and lip gloss so thick you could canoe in it. It embodies an old ideal of glamour which in an age where most film stars are more often photographed in jeans and a tee keeps some of that Hollywood ideal alive.

I love the mythology which grows around these exotic creatures  kittens backstage, repainted dressing rooms, rose strewn stages it all adds to the feeling that they are somehow on a different planet-planet Diva where everything is shiny except the noses.
My all time favourite Diva is Barbra Streisand I simply adore her. Her neurosis, her stage freight, her vast collections of antiques which take up whole aircraft hangers of space, even her Fu Manchu fingernails all adds up to the perfect Diva. One of my all time favourite songs is "make it like a memory" it encapsulates dramas, heartbreak, despair-perfect Diva fodder.

There are of course some modern day Divas (Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey   seem to be burning the flame quite nicely) and Cher always exhibits some Diva like tendencies although she always seems more "trooper" than full on drama queen but its the magic of Bassey and Streisand which for me sums up the Diva. Better go and put on my false eyelashes.
Cher-Such a trooper

Who is your favourite Diva?


    Wednesday, 28 September 2011

    How To Have The Perfect Vintage Party: Food And Entertainment

    Ready To Party
    So in yesterdays blog I showed you how I decorated the house and garden for my husbands vintage inspired birthday party. Today its all about, food, drink and song.As my better half is all about the Rock n Roll I wanted to inject a little bit of that theme into the food as well.Although I'm a fairly nifty baker my friend recently used a company called Cupcake Revolution to create some great tattoo themed cupcakes and I just couldn't resist. I worked with Helen from the company to create some superb cupcakes. My husbands favourite band is The Straycats so she made some cakes with the bands logo on and others in the shape of records with Arista on as that was the label the Straycats were signed to in the UK (its all about the details) she also made some tattoo inspired cakes with hearts and swallows on and of course some pin up girls (which I insisted had dark hair with a blond streak in as a nod to moi)
    The Personalised Cupcakes
    I stacked my fabulous personalised cupcakes on one of my many cake stands 

    I knew those cake stands would come in handy
    I think when you invite people to your home you should offer lots of lovely food. It helps mop up the drink and there is nothing quite as sad as getting to an event to find a few pathetic bowls of crisps. In my experience people tend to predominately want food they can eat with their fingers. With this in mind I made dainty little sandwiches in the shape of teapots and teacups with a cookie cutter. Bite sized and so pretty.

    Sandwiches in the shape of teacups-Only at BB Towers

    You may have noticed that I have stuck little flags into each plate of food with a description on. This is because I think its really important people know what they are eating. they may be vegetarian, have an allergy or just really dislike a certain food so its good manners to ensure they know exactly what they are eating.
    Betty Bee's Buffet
    For buffets I do tend to become slightly like the mother character in Mermaids played by Cher and make everything mini and if possible on a cocktail stick but experience has taught me that these are the foods which go down best. I always ensure there is a good selection of vegetarian options and yes I do always include cheese and pineapple on sticks stuck in a melon covered in foil.

    Baths of Beer

    Ensuring everyone has a cold drink in their hands at all times is surely one of the most important aspects of hosting a party. I keep on top of this by filling an old tin bath in my garden with ice and stocking it with beer. All drinks (apart from red wine) brought by guests get put in it and a cold beer is never far away. To stop the irritating "hunt the bottle opener" moment that is the curse of many a good party I tie bottle openers to the handles of the bath with string.

    The amazing drum riser cake

    One way of keeping party stress down is to encourage people to "fuddle". I'm not sure if anyone else apart from my family do this but a fuddle is when each guest brings one dish (usually one they are particularly proud of) to add to the buffet. Its great fun and means you get a lovely selection of food to add to the spread you have also laid on. For Mister Bees party my sister in law who is from Thailand made a quite magnificent curry, my friend Helen brought hand made tortilla chips with guacamole, my friend Jo even brought home made black pepper pickled onions which were delicious.Probably the piece De Resistance in the fuddle stakes though was the cake my friend Chris made for Nick. As my husband is a keen drummer (he even has a drum kit in our kitchen) he created a drum riser cake with his favourite Straycats logo on the front. Chris has just launched his own cake making company called Strongman cakes and I think he is going to do incredibly well.
    Mister Bee enjoying one of the cupcakes
    If you get your guest list right you shouldn't need to lay on too much in the way of entertainment. I always make up an ipod playlist of good tunes and for the kids fill a pinata with sweets (bashing it takes at least half an hour and seem to always go down very well)
    One thing I insist on though is that anyone who can sing or play something brings fine voice and if possible an instrument along and we have a big sing song. I have a piano and a drum kit in the kitchen anyway and we always end up with a new super group forming. The drunker people get the happier they are to jump on the piano or play a tambourine. Two lovely friends of ours Mark and Rooster are very talented on the double bass and guitar so they played some songs accompanied by my friend Mark who is in the amazing Teddy Boy band Furious on piano. Mister Bee always takes up drumming duty of course.Here they are jamming away.

    For this party we were blown away by our friend Alexis and her daughter Asha who both have the most beautiful voices and ripped through classic like "hit the road jack" as well as a bit of Imelda May. It was superb. As a host though even if you have no discernible talent (me) you have to be at the front belting it out with them. its the law.
    So those are my tips for  a perfect vintage inspired party. What do you like to do to make your events really special?


    Tuesday, 27 September 2011

    How To Plan The Perfect Party

    Last week I threw a big Birthday party for my husband Nicky Rockets. He was forty (although he still looks extremely baby faced) and I wanted the whole event to be special without being too stuffy. 
    I'm a huge fan of having parties in the home. Blame it on memories of 1970's house parties as a kid but there is something so fantastic about turning your kitchen into party central.It also means people who wouldn't be able to get babysitters or who would be put off by attending a more formal event tend to drop in so you get a great mix of guests.
    Although I like the atmosphere at my parties to be casual  I'm still a great believer in spending the day before planning how its all going to run and in terms of decoration I love to take my time and make the house and garden look really special.
    As its a party for my husband who I just adore I decided on a heart theme for the decorations. I always ensure the garden is made particularly enticing when we throw a soiree as it encourages people to go outside and stops my fairly small house feeling too packed.

    Old Ammunition Boxes get your pots of the ground and create height
    My garden is only tiny but you may have seen my previous blog where I transformed it into a corner of vintage loveliness. So it was already looking pretty nifty. What I wanted to do was create little areas to encourage people to stand and chat or sit and have  a drink.
    I brought some old wooden ammunition boxes from a jumble sale ages ago and used them to create  different heights for my  pots and planters. I made a corner with plants in front of an old fireplace I have propped against a wall and put  lovely bright flowers on the crates. Placing lanterns next to them so they would twinkle once the sun had gone down made it look quite magical.
    My old fireplace stood against the wall became the focus for one of the party areas
    Continuing with the hearts and lantern theme I hung tiny metal hearts on the tree branches as well as lanterns I had made from tin cans
    Hearts for my sweetheart

    Tin can lanterns looked so pretty once they were lit
    I love to hang bunting and need very little encouragement to tie oodles of the stuff wherever I can and the garden is no exception, carrying on the heart theme of course.
    Bunting, bunting everywhere
    You should never take yourself or your styling too seriously. I love a bit of whimsy so when I found some small purple toadstool ornaments I knew they would add just the right amount of Alice in Wonderland chic to proceedings.
    Purple Toadstools hiding in my pots
    I'm not  a great believer in any restraint so me, my lovely friend Lena and my mum spent a very happy afternoon dangling hearts, lanterns and bunting over every branch, pot and umbrella.
    Hanging a beautiful wooden heart on the garden gate looked particularly fetching.

    Big Up Blighty with this great old union Jack Flag-The perfect tablecloth

    My friend Helen lent me an old union Jack table cloth which was perfect for the garden table, especially once I had put a tea cup and saucer shaped plant pot in the middle.

    Plenty of places for people to rest their weary bones after a night of dancing

    Its always important to make sure there are plenty of places for guests to sit so  I got out my colourful deck chairs in addition to my usual garden seats and a huge bean bag (which later held groups of kids snuggled on playing gameboys which was very cute)

    Even the shed was adorned
    Even my shed was decorated with a Marie Antoinette clock. Well it does have teacups on it instead of numbers so wasn't going to remind my guests how long they had been drinking and it looks so mad it suited the theme perfectly.

    The banners and bunting theme continued inside
    Inside needed less adornment as my house is already quite bright and colourful. I had a huge banner made for my husband (with a Rock n Roll theme of course) and hung bright red bunting across the kitchen.
    All in all it looked pretty fantastic and the birthday boy was very happy. Tomorrow I will tell you about the food I made (and the Straycat themed cakes) and the entertainment which was really fabulous.


    Monday, 26 September 2011

    How To Avoid The Monday Blues

    Ive always hated Sunday nights. Its the niggling feeling in the pit of your stomach that reminds you that the weekend is nearly over and routine and responsibility await. Although I'm fortunate in that I really love what  I do for a living I still vaguely dread Mondays. Back on the school run treadmill, back to answering e-mails, paying bills, being a grow up.
    Here are my tips to help make Mondays less blue.

    The Futures  Bright The Futures Orange
    The scent of oranges is supposed to be a great mood enhancer. Lighting some orange oil in a burner as you get ready for work will not only immediately put you in a caring frame of mind towards yourself (so important ) but will also mean your whole house is filled with a lovely citrus smell which can't help but make you feel positive. If you have no time to use essential oils just eat an orange on the way to work. You are having one of your five a day and the smell will give you a lift.
    Oranges are the only fruit for banishing the blues

    Factor In A Monday Treat
    Having something to look forward to at the beginning of the week can make all the difference to your frame of mind.Its probably too early to go our for dinner  or the movies with friends so choose something which wont break the bank but which you associate with Monday. For me I always put aside something enjoyable for Monday night. For example I've recently subscribed to the Glossybox service where you pay £10 per month and get five luxury beauty samples to try out. I have saved this months Glossybox to open today. Its the big comedown after a great weekend of having a party and having my mum to stay so I know I will be feeling a bit flat. Being able to crack open a box of beauty goodies is just one small way to perk me up. When I haven't got a glossy box (it is monthly after all) I save the latest copy of my favourite magazine Vintage Life or even hoard some guilty pleasure on the i-player like The Bachelor or Celebrity Masterchef and turn it into my Monday booster kit.
    My Glossybox works as a great pick me up on a Monday

    Rescue Yourself with A Remedy
    I always have some Bach's Rescue Remedy in my bag  (well if its good enough for Martha Stewart its good enough for me ) a few drops on the tongue on the morning of what promises to be a long dreary day can make all the difference. Bach's Flower Rescue is a system of 38 Flower Remedies which are supposed to  correct emotional imbalances and replace  negative emotions with  positive ones.Its not exactly Prozac but even by the action of taking it I feel like I'm deciding that the day will be a good one however much I would rather stay in bed.
    Flowers to the rescue

    Get Some Uplifting Tunes Going On
    We all know the power music has to lift the spirits and change the mood. Make sure you are a Monday Blues Ninja and prepare an Anti-Blue Monday playlist on your i-pod. Fill it music which make you feel fantastic, stick your headphones on (Ive just treated myself to some pink skullcandy ones which in themselves make me happy) and send that bad mood packing. My playlist is full of the Girl bands like The Shangri-La's and The Ronettes. Impossible to be grumpy listening to this music.

    Thats how I turn my Monday Blues around. What do you do?


    Sunday, 25 September 2011

    5 Hangover Cures To Save Your Day

    Plink Plink Fizz
    By the time you read this I will be recovering from my husbands birthday party the night before. I'm not a big drinker but even after a few glasses of fizz I tend to get a slight hangover. Here is how I combat it.
    On the evening you plan to drink take a milk thistle tablet. This will give your liver a helping hand as you knock back that fifth glass of wine.
    These really work
    As soon as you get up drink some Green Tea. This will help rehydrate you in a way that caffeine based drinks wont.
    Green Tea packed full of cleansing goodness
    Try to avoid the urge for a bacon butty and have a bowl of porridge with a banana on. This will release energy through out the morning and help settle your tummy.

    Porridge-Slow releasing energy and will settle your stomach

    Its an emergency-You need eight hour cream.

    Oh the light is blinding me

    Put on some sunglasses and comfort yourself with the knowledge that in a few hours you will feel so much better.
                                      Happy hangovers!


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    Your poor skin will be very dry after loosing so much moisture so slap on a ton of Elizabeth Arden eight hour cream.

    Skimlinks Test