January detox

January detox

 

After what I can only describe as two weeks of indulging in lots of food and drink, my body feels bloated and my skin feels itchy from the dry heat of central heating.

White Peony Tea

I received a tin of this lovely Wheat Peony tea for my birthday last year and it has become a favourite of mine, since it it not just refreshing, but has many health benefits as it’s packed full of antioxidants.

The tea is reputed to help kick-start a sluggish metabolism, protect from free radicals and therefore promote healthy glowing skin.

If you want to try this tea, the one I’m drinking is from Whittards.

Just follow the brewing instructions on the tin. The temperature should not be boiling, but around 80 degrees Celsius, so as not to destroy any of the goodness from the tea.

Charcoal Face Mask

Since my skin is in need of some help, I’m also treating it to a deep cleanse with L’Oreal’s Pure Clay Detox Mask. Whilst it would be great to get a beauty treatment facial, my bank balance, post-Christmas is definitely needs reigning back. So whilst this is a budget buy from the high-street, I think it’s very effective and the treat is the time it takes to sit back and relax while the mask takes action.

This charcoal based face mask, has a deep cleansing action on my pores, and because it’s quick drying, you can almost feel it drawing out the impurities as it dries and has a light refreshing floral fragrance.

Orange Ginger & Cinnamon Skin Scrub

This is a lovely home-made recipe which is so easy to make, you can use brown sugar if you don’t have Dead Sea salts, follow the recipe here .

Lush Yuzu and Coca Shower Cream

I love the scent of oranges and this shower cream is filled with the citrusy scent of yuzu and Coca. Waking up and getting myself to work has taken a huge amount of effort last week, so this shower cream has been the perfect way to wake up to a zingy start to the day. You can find out more about the benefits of yuzu fruit here.

With this little cleansing routine, starting from inside and out, it’s the perfect way to feel energised for the new year ahead. Wishing everyone reading this post the very best for 2017!

 

Home Made Gentle Eye Make-up Remover

DIY Eye Make-up Remover

This is a quick and simple recipe for making your own gentle eye make-up remover.

All you need is some good quality oil, Rosewater and Glycerin.

Make it in small batches as the ingredients are all natural and there is no preservative so it is best to make it fresh every few days, 50ml should last between 3-4 days if you plan on using it every morning and night.

Ingredients:

20ml Rosewater

20ml Jojoba oil

10ml Vegetable Glycerin

How to make:

Pour the Rosewater, Jojoba Oil and the Glyercin in a small bottle. Shake vigorously to combine the ingredients. This recipe is very similar to the home made Micella Water recipe which I wrote about a while ago. You can see the post by clicking this link.

As you can see from the test below, I applied a very dark colour pallet of eye shadow, eye liner and mascara and used the home made version on one eye lid and compared this to the Clinique Eye Make-up remover that I occassionnally use.

Home Made Eye Make-up remover test

I was surprised as the Clinqiue remover was good, I’ve always used this as it’s non-scented and wipes away Make-up with only a couple of swipes. But the home-made version took off much more make-up with just one swipe. Result!

Better still is that it cost considerably less and smells lovely because of the Rosewater.

I’ve been using Rosewater for many years now and I don’t think there is anything better than this gorgeous smelling scented liquid.

Nespresso machine for Coffee and Walnut Cake

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We bought a Nespresso machine, an offer which really was too good to miss and now we have two coffee machines that sit on opposite sides of the kitchen.

The Dolce Gusto machine makes great coffee, it also makes lots of other great drinks which my kids enjoy, particularly the iced Cappuccino and iced tea, drinks which if we were going to Starbucks would cost a small fortune.


The Nespresso machine however, makes coffee an experience and I wish we had gotten around to getting earlier. If you are thinking about getting one of these machines, this month there is an offer too good to be missed. Not only is the machine on offer but the Aerochino machine is free. Yes that’s right free as long as you purchase their coffee pods from the website.

We’ve been in coffee heaven, and what better way to enjoy a cup of rich intense coffee, but with Coffee and Walnut cake.

This is a simple recipe – just use the Muffin mixture from this recipe and use just walnuts instead of the blueberries and cinnamon, add an espresso shot of coffee to the mix and bake.

That’s it. I used these cute cardboard mini loaf cases which I spotted in M&S, which were a perfect size for individual portions to serve for a tea time treat.

Refreshing herb tea foot soak

This is the easiest recipe to make at home which will revive and refresh tired aching feet. I had all the ingredients in my garden. Better still, the only cost involved was just the use of the pre-made little tea bag pouches which I got online. One hundred of these little pouches ready to fill with tea leaves, herbs or anything which you want to infuse or soak in hot water.

For this refreshing herb tea foot soak, I simply picked a small bunch of mint leaves, a few sprigs of rosemary and some lavender buds which were still flowering in the last days of summer.

A dash of Dead Sea salt, which I already had in my cupboard and a few drops of Peppermint and Lemon Essential Oils, and Orange Blossom Water all mixed roughly together in the tea bag pouch.

Soak in a bowl of boiling water for as long as you want and pour into a warm bowl of clean water. Ready to soak tired weary feet.

I know this seems like quite a bit of effort, but after a long day at work, I like the idea and ritual of preparing something a little indulgent, a little bit of me time to indulge in. The scent is uplifting and has this magical way of transforming the  room into a scented retreat.

Feet are now soaked and feeling light and refreshed. Hmm now for that pedicure, a colourful treat for my toes.

The Marzipan that turned into Blueberry Muffins

 

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The month of May is almost over. In fact most of April and May has been filled with work, a decorating and a DIY project for my youngest, all of which has meant I’ve not written as regularly as I’d like for a while.

Its also meant a few ingredients that were meant for Easter were left as I didn’t get around to much in the way of baking. In previous years, this usually means I find them lurking in the back of the cupboard until one day, when I am looking for something else I come across it and it’s past its sell-by date and too late to do anything but throw it way. I then kick myself for the wasted food.

So, this year, when my youngest said she needed some photos to cakes to bring into school, so she could apply to join the baking club.

I decided not to repeat the mistakes of previous years. With the Marzipan that I bought, I looked for a simple cake recipe to turn it into something quick and simple.

There were loads of recipes which included ground almonds, which I didn’t have, I’d almost given up until I came across this one. A simple bake with cherries and poppy seeds.

Ok I didn’t have the tinned cherries, but I had some fresh blueberries that were destined for a fruit salad instead.

With sugar, eggs, self raising flour and some milk in the fridge, this would do the trick.Photo of ingredients such as Marzipan

Muffin Ingredients:

255g self raising flour
115g caster sugar or soft brown sugar. (I used a 50/50 mix of white and brown as I had this in my cupboard)
2tbsp poppy seeds
150g fresh blueberries or canned cherries without pips
115g golden marzipan, chilled in the fridge and grate coarsely
1 medium egg, beaten
50g butter or margarine, melted
175ml whole milk

To make:

Pre-heat oven to 190°C/375°F/Fan 170°C/Gas Mark 5.

Put some  muffin cases in a muffin or cupcake tin, to keep the shaped of the cakes.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar, poppy seeds, blueberries (washed) and the grated marzipan. I find that chilling the marzipan makes it a lot easier to grate.

You’ll need to either chop the marzipan or grate it so it can be distributed evenly in the cake mix. It will infused the cakes with the most lovely scent of almonds. Hmmm heaven.

Make a well in the centre.

Mix together the egg, melted butter with the milk. I used Soy Milk.

Pour into the well and mix to form a thick, rough batter. My youngest insisted at this point to put her hands into the batter to mix the batter.

We made a lot of mess by this time and she could tell that I wasn’t impressed with this technique as by this time she had lost interest and had gone to find something else to do.

Now that we had the batter, the mix was spooned into the muffin cases and put into the preheated oven for 22-25 mins, until risen and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

This part of the cooling process is tricky in our house, firstly it’s hard to resist the tempting smell of the cakes as they cool, but they also summon our two cats, who are also keen on the taste of freshly baked cakes. This means we have to guard them until they are ready to serve.

We took photos of the muffins and printed them so my youngest could take them to school. They were eaten for tea that afternoon.

 

Sometimes it Snows in April

For the last few days, I’ve been listening to music composed and performed by Prince. He was a huge influence in music around the world. To me, his music punctuated significant moments, a rite of passage from my teen years to the present. He was always present, not necessarily always on my mind, but never far. I’d always have a least one of his albums on my Walkman and now my iPhone so I could listen to his music.

 

Up close, I heard his songs in my head with headphones in my ears and I imagined like everyone else that he would go on for ever, or at least I was well into my old age. He just seemed eternal, didn’t age like the rest of us.

Then last Wednesday 21st, as I arrived home, my husband told me the news. I’m still adjusting to the idea that there will never be anymore new work by Prince, never any shows that he’ll announce and get the press and public excited over. No more surprises.

He never stopped evolving, transforming and changing, his music went from commercial pop to something altogether more sophisticated, it reflected his audience, they grew up and their tastes changed too.

I’ve been looking at all the interviews he’s given, he mentions his faith, he talks about his fans and how they now bring their families to his shows.

All of this was new to me, he wasn’t just a distant musical genius, his interviews and his Princetagram and tweets show him to be humble, hard working and funny. I’ll never be able share future stories of seeing him in concert with my kids. I will only be able to tell them about him, show them the music he created and the only time that we saw him perform live at the O2 back in 2007.

He made a big impact on music and on me, a young impressionable teenager, who saw him for the first time at the Cinema, in Christoper Tracey’s Parade, a black & white film. I wasn’t allowed to see Purple rain, and I’m not sure that I would have understood it.

And when I went to see Christopher Tracy’s Parade, I saw it with my future husband, though I didn’t know this at the time.

The film was so different to anything at the Cinema, it had a style of it’s own. Prince, dressed in his power 80s costumes, glittering and shiny with big doll like eyes, more beautiful than the female lead, what I saw was someone who had created through their imagination a world that looked beautiful, sad and nostalgic. All the ingredients for an impressionable teenager to fall in love with.

By the time I was studying for a degree in music, I had saved up and bought two of his albums, Parade and Sign of the Times on vinyls at the time. My husband had other Prince albums, so we used to listen to these together, just the ordinary kind of things teenagers used to do.

The albums I owned were sandwiched amongst classical albums of Mozart and Beethoven, composers I was studying. They still are in my vinyl record collection that I haven’t been able to part with.

I listened to his music, alternating between the serious business of studying for music exams and well just listening to music that I loved.

My favourite song by Prince is in the title of this post. There’s a lovely version I found on YouTube which you can hear by clicking on this link: And Sometimes it Snows in April. It snowed a day or so after he passed away. As I watched the snow gently fall outside the windows of the glass building of our offices in Canary Wharf, I could hear the song in my mind, I wasn’t really in the mood for the meeting or work, just kept thinking about the sad news and how strange and quiet the snow was falling.

At 6.07pm (ET) 4th of May, Radio Stations in the US will be simutaneously broadcasting Nothing Compares 2 U. I don’t think the idea has reached the UK, so this post is my way of joining in from the UK.

 

 

A post shared by PRINCESTAGRAM (@prince) on

 

To me Prince represented life, bigger, exaggerated, full of energy, the kind that was on an epic scale that was glorious and full of colour, a life lived in 4K, high definition, to the Max. I wonder whether that’s the reason for his signature colour Purple.

I don’t think he’s really gone, his physical presence perhaps. I remind myself that the greatest composers in previous centuries such as Beethoven or Mozart, they still live on when people perform their music. They created a new sound and music historians refer to their time and genre as Baroque (Handle & Bach) Classical (Mozart), Romantic (Beethoven), in the future, there’s going to be a term to define Prince and his style of music, because just saying he created a fusion between R&B, Jazz and Pop and crossed all musical definitions, well I don’t think that’s enough. I think we need a new way of defining what his genre of music is, because so many musicians have been influenced and inspired by his music and so many People have enjoyed experiencing it.

Prince started to write about transcendence and still being able to communicate in a metaphysical sense, in the album called Art of Offical Age. I like to think that he’s not really gone forever, it’s just temporary and somehow, he’s actually found a way to move beyond the physical world and into another plane of existence, perhaps this seems crazy, but then not so long ago, people thought the Earth was flat and we’ve since discovered through science, it’s actually round.

And even if this is just wishful thinking on my part, one thing is for sure, we’ll find him through his art when ever we listen to his music.

Farewell Prince,  I wish you heaven.

 

Because everything will be coming up roses – Rosewater Facial Wash

Rosewater Facial Wash

I love the sent of roses.

Yesterday I finally got around to planting the two rose bushes purchased a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t got round to putting them into the garden as the previous weekends had been busy and the weather had been, well pretty unfriendly.

So when I looked out of the window in the morning, there was no more excuses. I dug the soil, as it had been wet, the ground was soft and much easier to dig. With some bonemeal to sprinkle into the earth around the rose bush, I patterned down the earth around the two rose bushes.

I can hardly wait for the first rose buds to appear. The rose bushes cost just the same as a bunch of ready cut roses from the Supermarket, but hopefully, they will yield a lot more blooms throughout early summer and Autumn. I chose fragrant varieties in deep pink and white.

Rosewater Facial Cleanser

Meantime, in the bathroom, I’d run out of face wash. I prefer to wash the day’s make-up off with soapy cleanser, somehow the foaminess feels so much more refreshing than just the Rosewater toner/cleanser that I use afterwards.

Since I have a bottle of Doctor Bonner’s Castille Soap (baby wash version) waiting to find a use in my cabinet, I’m using this for the first time to make a batch of facial cleanser. As it is supposed to be non-scented, it will make a good base for a natural facial wash, though it still has the scent of Castille soap.

I’ve combined this with Rosewater along with Jojoba Oil and the scent of rose along with Jasmine makes the facial wash a floral sensation.

Here’s the ingredients:

1/4 cup Doctor Bonner’s baby non-scented Castille Soap (you can use solid or liquid)

1/4 cup Rosewater

1 teaspoon Jojoba oil, 1/2 teaspoon Rosehip Oil*

4-8 drops of your chosen blend of essential oil (I’ve chosen to use a 10% dilution of Jasmine Absolute and Rose Geranium)

Making the facial wash could not be easier, just combine all the ingredients in a bottle shake vigorously to combine and put a cap on.

I use this at night to remove make-up and afterwards use the Rosewater and Witch Hazel Toner. Just wash face until all trace of make-up has gone. It is quite watery, though if you use a muslin, simply squirt a bit on a damp muslin and rinse until clear.

That’s it, and best of all it’s all natural and can be customised to suit your skin

*I have chose Jojoba Oil and Rosehip oil as these have great anti-aging properties. You can use Coconut or Sweet Almond or any other natural oil best suited to your skin instead. Experiment until you get the right consistency you prefer