03 March 2014

February shenanigans

1. I treated myself to some pink carnations in the beginning of the month. Having a vase at the office sure lifts the mood. 2. Went to dinner with one of my best friends and had a great time munching on mezzes and talking for hours. 3. Found some Hampstead photos that I forgot about. What a lovely day that was. 4. Survived Valentine's Day without a date and found these paper hearts on the road, looking a bit sad. 5. Had a makeup free monday which did not help with my attitude whatsoever. 6. Kept missing London and Bloomsbury. 7. Enjoyed a pepper, herbs and feta cheese pasta for a Saturday lunch, while watching Iron Man. 8. Went to an Italian cooking course and learnt to make pasta - easier than going to the market! And it was delicious. 9. Spotted this goldfish dress and now I want to keep it hanging on my wall just to enjoy the colours and the print.

February was sort of a blur, March arrived before I expected and after this ridiculous winter (which we had neither snow nor a good amount of rain) I am ready for an actual spring rather than a fake one in January. Spring comes every year yet it still manages to surprise me with the first apple blossoms of the year. Looking forward to take lots of flower photos and post them until everybody is sick of nature. I may also do something groundbreaking and invest in a floral dress. Who knew.

Happy March! x

19 February 2014

Lush made me a hoarder (also known as Lush haul)

I love Lush. Simple as that. The products, the store displays, the variety, natural ingredients, the fact that every Lush store around the world smells exactly the same... I love pretty much everything about it.

I've always been a bath lover, despite having to settle for a shower for the sake of convenience, most of the time. And to me, a long lazy bath is a thing of winter; one has only so many things to do during the slightly depressing yet cozy (and long, may I add) nights of winter. I enjoy a bath with a book that I don't mind dropping in the water by accident and some blues or jazz playig in the background.

Lush has single handedly occupied my entire bath routine and they always have something new and exciting that I find myself making excuses to try. This winter has been very odd, welcoming the premature spring weather very very early; so I intend to use my precious Lush favourites before it gets too warm to even think about sitting in a tub full of hot water. The fact that I bought too many stuff to use in a short time is a reminder for my future self to go easy on the bath bombs and bubble bars next time.

I doubt I'll take my own advice though.

Shoot For The Stars (Bath Ballistic)

Twilight (Bath Ballistic)

Dorothy (Bubble Bar)

Rose Jam (Bubble Bar)

Rose Jam & Happy Hippy Shower Gels

Rub Rub Rub Shower Scrub (Gotta appreciate the rhyme)

Sugar Scrub for Body

Mint Julips Sugar Scrub

PS: Yes, I have used almost half of the Rub Rub Rub and a healthy amount of Mint Julips because I was too la(zy)te to shoot these. But now I can happily say that Rub Rub Rub is a brilliant scrub when used dry and Mint Julips has already been a favourite (and delicious).

08 February 2014

Hummus, good food and stepping away from the takeout menus

I'll be honest, I tried to write a nice post about how I reduced my fast food intake to almost none and how I am making an effort to put good, fresh, unprocessed food into my diet but for some reason, the words just don't come out. Long story short; I used to be a takeout addict. Not because I loved that rush food, but because sometimes making an effort to prepare a meal is just a lot especially if I am just feeling lazy and have no other excuse to skip a proper dinner or lunch. But my indecisiveness when it comes to choosing something from a menu has started to serve me well. After looking at the many many options of many sorts of food online; picking something, approving it, waiting for it to arrive, paying forthe food and finally being able to eat is seems even more of an effort than actually going to the kitchen and putting together a simple but good meal.

I would be lying if I said I didn't show some effort to take the junk food out of my life, because I do. It's a process, I doubt I'll adopt a raw vegan diet ever in my life but I think I will be able to step away from the processed food, takeout habit, badly fried greasy meals and feeding my brain instead of my stomach. I am starting to learn to have faith in my body and not simply give in to the directions of my emotional hunger. I've come a long way from simply not bothering with anything but chinese food 4 times a week to treating myself to a small bag of chips or a rich dessert every now and then when I'm in the mood. My goal? To be healthy and fit and aware of the needs of my body.

So I'm making small changes as I go and try to adopt a whole new habit instead of going on a ridiculous diet for a limited amount of time and then going back to basics until I find something new to try. That hamster wheel of a routine is doing nobody any good. I have been continuing with the healthier and more quality approach to food and eating for the past few weeks and when I lose inspirtion, I flick through a good cookbook to find something quick and easy but nutritious and delicious; I read "healthspo" posts on blogs and mostly I flick through a fun little helper book I have. It's a no pressure, no deadline experiment and even though making commitments make me uneasy (to put it nicely) I think treating myself and the body I have well is something I can keep going.

Does that mean I'll never put a burger in my mouth again? Hell no. I believe in moderation and giving into the pleasures. I just remind myself that if a pleasure becomes a routine, it's no longer a treat. It's just common sense after all.

Now, about the hummus.

This was pretty easy, I have to say. You just dump everything into a food processor or a blender (or if you have the willpower, in a bowl to be turned into a paste with hand) and in minutes, you have a delicious fest. There are so many recipes and mine isn't anything groundbreaking but it's a pretty no fuss recipe, if you've been skeptical about it.

I've made mine not with exact measurements, I've pretty much arrange everything except the chickpeas by rule of thumb. Tahini was about one coffee cup, I drizzled the olive oil as it goes, I used one clove of crushed garlic so I could eat it anytime and still be able to socialize without a SARS mask. Cumin can be strong, yet I still used a healthy pinch - all the seasoning was adjusted to taste. Since this was for everyday use and not for a fancy dinner party, I did not bother with the ckichpea skins. You can remove them if you want a super smooth hummus to serve. Since I did not use much olive oil, mine was not the soft creamy texture you'll achieve if you follow most of the recipes online. I don't mind it but you need to use a fair amount of tahini and olive oil to make it more luxurious (and authentic, I suppose.) After everything was mixed and smooth, I transferred it all into a bowl, drizzled a bit more olive oil on the top and sprinkled some more cayenne to make it fancy, before I placed a few leaves of parsley. I have tried it and it had inner beauty as well as the commercial potential.

- Chickpeas (1 can)
- Tahini (40-50 ml)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Olive oil
- Garlic
- Salt, cayenne and cumin

 PS: If you're inspired about eating for pleasure and eating with senses, you can check these out as well.
* Rachel Phipp's great post about sensible eating and how she's not the size of a house despite being a food blogger.
* Mireille Guiliano's fun little book about the tips and tricks of eating for pleasure and eating right.

26 January 2014

This month I...

1. Started 2014 by reading Deathless and enjoying the lazy afternoon with a cup of tea. 2. Went to Lush and went a bit overboard with my pamper essentials - so many lovely stuff. 3. Treated myself to a very girly vanilla cupcake from Very Cupcake to cheer myself up on a grumpy and rainy day. 4. Envied Bobo the Cat for napping on the radiators all day while we work. 5. Enjoyed the last fairy lights at the park. 6. Kept up my Christmas spirit with snowflake ginger cookies. 7. Visited the bookshop only to leave the place with two new books which I certainly did not need. 8. Went to the opera to see Die Fledermaus. 9. Finally got to use my hummingbird umbrella which I got from V&A Museum's gift shop.

January is over already and the approach of February always made me a bit uneasy (not because of the inevitable Valentine's Day explosion of red and pink) since I never seem to realize how fast time goes until I see it on the calendar. January was a dry month here, failing my hopes to see some decent amount of snow. Last few days have been rainy, thankfully and my content mood may or may not be linked to the wonderful feeling of enjoying socially acceptable home time. (When the weather is nice, society makes you feel guilty for missing all the sunshine. Rainy days are comforting, nobody cares if you choose to stay inside all day. Yay rain!)

I hope you all had a nice month and February treats you well. x

PS: I have decided to turn this monthly Instagram/photo collage into a series, to see and sum up what I've been up to. Expect a new one every last Sunday of each month.

18 January 2014

Slumber party for one

The pleasures of bedtime are often lost in my routine of watching videos, reading blogs and worrying about my life choices, but I also like to treat myself with some essentials that have become must-haves on my bedside table before I go to sleep and fall into the arms of some questionable dreams in terms of subconscious. A notebook, books, a pen, a cup of tea and a source of soothing scent are not hard to find, despite my efforts of finding the ones that are pleasing to the eye.

"Let's Bring Back" journal is a lovely gift, whether it is for yourself or a fellow 'Miniver Cheevy'. It has ideas for forgotten rituals, hobby advices and past time activities in it to enrich your days and to add a little old-time class to your everyday life. Besides the concept and the quirky, elegant and fun ideas in it, the quality is also wonderful with the beautiful ornate hard cover and excellent paper.

I have never been a lover of scented candles until I have found this little fellow at the gift shop of Kew Gardens. They always gave me a headache since I always came across with the strong, sickening scents that had sharp spicy or sweet smells. But this one's scent is very subtle, smelling exactly like lavenders and nothing else. If you close your eyes and really believe in miracles, you can convince yourself that you are in a cottage in Provence, falling asleep to the smell of distant lavender fields. (I like to kid myself since I have discovered that being delusional is gentler to the soul than dealing with the harsh truths of life days on end.)

The slumber gel was also a first for me. I have read about This Works' Deep Sleep Pillow Spray before but I didn't feel like investing in it since it is no miracle product. (You shouldn't expect any effect equal to the curse of Maleficent from any natural sleep product, in my opinion.) But The Cotswold Lavender Slumber Gel is a really nice bedside table treat. The consistency is really nice and a tiny amount is enough to get the essence of it nicely. It has a natural, slightly herbal smell but the dominant scent is of course lavender and the whole smell is not strong or rich. The purple tint does not show on the skin, it didn't give any irritation to my slightly sensitive skin and it is not sticky either. I enjoy using it every now and then when I'm in the mood for a nice, calming scent before I go to sleep. (If you are clumsy like me, you might want to be careful not to accidentally throw this on a hard floor because the jar is glass.)

Fortnum & Mason to me is what Disneyland is to children. I have the potential of going overboard and never regretting it every single time. (My trips also tend to end up with me feeling terribly dizzy for going around in circles too much.) Earl Grey is my favourite tea and even though I am more adventurous with tea flavours than I am in any other aspect of life, I always go back to this. Fortnum & Mason sells my favourite Earl Grey and just a little part of my affection has to do with that amazing turquoise tin box packaging. The Decaffeinated Earl Grey has no significant taste difference to the original one and it is especially good for night time. (This does not apply to the coffee addicts but my caffeine tolerance is not as advanced. I am weak.) The tea bag is also no-fuss goodness when you are too lazy/sleepy to clean up a pot of saggy tea leaves before sleep.

I should stick to this bedtime ritual more than my usual "staying up too late because I have been caught up with Elementary re-watch" routine. If you have any tips for a calming bedtime routine, comment and share the wisdom!

Featured items:
Books: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (Penguin Classics); London - City of Disappearances, Edited by Iain Sinclair (Penguin) 
Journal: Let's Bring Back - A Journal by Lesley M. M. Blume (Chronicle Books) 
Slumber Gel: Lavender and Camomile by Cotswold Lavender from Kew Gardens 
Tea: Decaffeinated Earl Grey Classic from Fortnum and Mason 
Candle: Lavender Plant Wax Candle from Kew Gardens
Pen: 'Paisley Rose Blush' Ball-Point Pen from Cross