Monday, 16 November 2015

Make: Wax sealed envelopes

I have always wanted to try making wax seals, and in September I had the perfect opportunity to give it a go. My friend Emily and I organised a hen do for our friend, in a cottage in Derbyshire and we decided the venue was the perfect location for a murder mystery party!

We ordered a kit from eBay ('The Bullet, the Brie and the Black Cat'), which came with its own set of invitations to post to our guests. 

I bought red and gold coloured sealing wax sticks from an art shop in Derby (you can also get them online). They also sold proper metal stamps but as I wanted each envelope to be personalised with the initial of the recipient I decided to try using my own wooden stamp kit which I had bought previously from Tiger. I had mixed results before perfecting the art as you can see below...

What I learnt...

These seals took quite a few attempts before I perfected the letters! To light the wick of the wax stick (you can also use a candle) I used a lighter which sometimes took several attempts as the wick wouldn't light very easily, meaning I inhaled quite a bit of smoke! So be careful people, and make sure you do this in a well ventilated space. Also obviously be aware of the flame, as once you have dripped the wax on the paper, you need to make sure to blow this out safely before stamping. 

I almost gave up after a few failed attempts at letters, and as I used wooden stamps this meant I had to peel off the cool wax each time from the stamp, so using the metal stamps may be easier. My biggest revelation came when I realised that waiting the right amount of time before stamping made all the difference, so once you have slowly dripped the wax onto the envelope you need to wait around 30 seconds until it's semi-dry before stamping the letter on. Once you get it right, it is most satisfying! Give it a go! The murder mystery party was a lot of fun too...


Sunday, 1 November 2015

New York Diary part 4: TV & Film Spots

It's hard to avoid passing by recognisable places when visiting New York (we happened upon the hotel from Home Alone 2 and the Magnolia Bakery by chance) but there were a few others I made sure to add to our map on our recent trip.

After visiting a few Girls locations in Brooklyn we headed to the famous Katz's Deli in the Lower East Side. (Actually it was pretty hard to avoid as the hotel where we stayed at the end of our trip was right opposite!)

Katz's was featured in the famous 'I'll have what she's having' scene in Where Harry Met Sally and was high on Tom's list of foodie places to visit (Man Vs Food has a lot to answer for!). We visited at an extremely busy time (lunchtime on a Monday) and the queue was spread right across the room, which I found a bit stressful! 

When it was finally our turn, Tom ordered a humongous pastrami sandwich and I went for a Swiss cheese which came with a side of the biggest pickles I'd ever seen. I must admit that Katz's isn't really the best place for a veggie, but it was fun seeing the photos of all the famous faces that had visited over the years.

We are big fans of Seinfeld, and although it wasn't filmed on location, we decided to take a trip to Tom's Restaurant (known as Monk's in the show) which was also name-checked in the Suzanne Vega song, Tom's Diner. Tom's is a pretty down-to-earth diner located in the Upper West Side, we both ordered burgers and a coke and marvelled at the painting of Kramer next to the counter.

Another thing high on my to do list was to go to a show at the Comedy Cellar, which often features in episodes of Louie. It's difficult to buy tickets in advance though and when we arrived all the early evening shows were full. There were some tickets left for the 11pm show but we thought it would finish a bit too late. So we resigned ourselves to some cocktails at the bar upstairs, accompanied by a brownie and ice cream. 

You can see the comedian who's performing on a TV over the bar (although you can't hear them!), and we also spotted the table Louie and his fellow comedians always sit around after the show which was fun. Sitting at it was the guy who did the Doggy Bounce in Flight of the Conchords, so the evening wasn't a complete loss! If we go again I'll definitely make sure to book ahead. (picture above via

If you'd like to see some of the food, drink and other places we visited in New York check out my colour-coded Google map here (I'm such a map-nerd!)

Have you visited any TV & film locations whilst on holiday? I'd love to know!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Film Friday: The Martian

Plot: The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut who gets left behind on a Mars mission, after a terrible storm occurs, and his crew presume him to be dead.
Fun facts: The film was shot in Jordan, which has a similar coloured red desert to that on Mars.
Guest appearances: Donald Glover stars as a sleepy maths genius! Sean Bean also has a guest role, although I found his parts a bit cringe-y to watch (sorry Mr Bean!)
Overall: I quite enjoyed some parts of The Martian (such as his potato growing!) But found a lot of the plot a little hard to believe, and would like to have seen more of Damon's emotional struggle instead of hearing so much about the rescue mission back on Earth - he seemed to cope rather too well!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Film Friday: Suffragette

Plot: Suffragette tells the story of factory worker Maud (Carey Mulligan), who is drawn into the Suffragette movement, despite warnings from her husband that it will mean her becoming outcast from her work and family.
Fun facts: It's interesting to read about the real life women who inspired the characters in the film. Some claim Emily Davison didn't mean to throw herself in front of a horse but instead meant to place the Suffragette colours on the king's horse.

Guest appearances: Ben Whishaw plays Maud's husband and Helena Bonham Carter plays pharmacist Edith Ellen. And of course Meryl Streep plays Emmeline Pankhurst.
Overall: I'm glad I watched Suffragette as it really brought home not only how hard women fought for the right to vote (something we often take for granted in this country) but how tough the class struggle was in Victorian and Georgian times, and how difficult it was for working class women. One little gripe I had was that Emily Davison's character wasn't really explored before her dramatic end, which made headlines around the world giving the suffrage movement the exposure it needed.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

New York Diary Part 3: Favourite places in Manhattan

Oh, New York. It seems like a long time ago now; the sunshine, the heat of the subway, the yellow taxis, delicious coffees and best cherry pie a girl could ask for. Here are a few places we loved in the heart of the city that never sleeps.

1. The High Line
One my first trip to NY I don't think this was even open to the public but it was high on my list on this trip having heard good things from friends. And it didn't disappoint! We spent our first full day walking the High Line in the sunshine and it's such a great way to explore the city by foot. What views! Also a trip to Bubby's at the end is highly recommended.

2. New York Public Library
The shop is a book lover's dream (I thought of you, Janet!) and the building itself it stunning to behold. Definitely worth a visit.

3. Grand Central Terminal
Again, a beautiful building, the ceiling was amazing but didn't look quite as good in photos so needs to be seen in person!

4. Central Park
The park is HUGE as Tom & I found out when we had to walk around most of it because of the Pope's visit which meant most of it was cordoned off! We went again at the end of our trip and I got very excited when I spotted the Alice in Wonderland statue.

5. The View from the top of the Rock
The first time I visited New York was as a student, and on that occasion we went up the Empire State Building at night and the view was breathtaking. This time I suggested to Tom that we go up to the Top of the Rock, aka the Rockefeller Center. The advantage of this is you get to see the Empire State as part of the view. Although there were a LOT of selfie-sticks up there which slightly hampered the experience!

6. Washington State Park
It was fun to explore Washington Square Park in the heart of Greenwich Village, which was full of interesting people playing chess, roller skating and even an MTV crew when we passed through.

7. A trip to Staten Island
As many tourists have now realised, the Staten Island Ferry is a free way to see the Statue of Liberty from the river. Avoid all the people trying to make you pay for tickets and head through to the terminal for a nice ride with some great views.

8. MoMA
There's no better place to spend a rainy day then a museum and the Museum of Modern Art is immense! Museums aren't too cheap in America ($25 entry) but it's worth the money for all the world famous works of art on display.

I have one just more post coming soon on New York, featuring some TV spots we visited in the city. Have a good weekend, folks!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Film Friday: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Plot: The Diary of a Teenage Girl is based on the graphic novel by Marielle Heller, which tells the true story of her coming of age in 1970s San Francisco. Bel Powley plays 15 year old cartoonist Minnie, who ends up having her first sexual relationship with her mother's (played by the excellent Kristen Wiig) boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgaard). 
Fun facts: The film received an 18 certificate here in the UK, which meant teenage girls of Minnie's age were unable to see it...
Overall: Although the film contains uncomfortable themes, it is also funny and refreshing to see a more honest portrayal of a young girl's sexuality. I also loved the way Minnie's drawings were brought to life within the film. I'd be interested to read the graphic novel it was based on.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

New York Diary, Part 2: Coney Island, Brooklyn

Coney Island has appeared in many a film & tv show (Boardwalk Empire & The Warriors spring to mind), and although its popularity may have waned in recent years we couldn't resist a trip to the seaside when we were in Brooklyn. If you plan on visiting it's around an hour on the subway from the centre of Brooklyn. Even in late September the sun was shining, and I enjoyed a wander along the sea front with a huge ice cream, while Tom opted for a Polish potato delicacy, a Knish which was rather delicious.

Sad we missed out on this contest..

"Goodbye my Coney Island Baby..."

Although we didn't go on any rides I got to dip my toes into the sea and had a little paddle, although I sadly got bitten by mosquitoes which I didn't expect in September - beware!! Coney Island was a really fun place to visit for the day, and a great location for photo taking.

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