Westlab Luxury

In the Dead Sea Waters, (which literally translates to "Sea of Salt" in Hebrew from Yam ha-Melah, or "The Sea of Death" in Arabic), living organisms, such as fish or plants cannot flourish or reside there. But, there are vitamins, proteins, and green algae (Dunaliella) in the waters. Because of the high salinity found in the Dead Sea, the mineral content of the waters have effective benefits in nourishing the skin.

I use my hands quite often in daily work, whether blending and testing certain components, or doing mundane office tasks. When I'm unable to make it to the spa to rejuvenate my muscles, the next best thing is certainly pampering myself at home. Occasionally, after a deep cleansing clay mask, I like to soak my feet with bath salts. I know that often the question for some is, "which salts do I use?"

I recently used pure bath salts from Westlab (UK's premium bath salt providers and gurus), and tested out a few different versions. I typically keep Epsom (Magnesium Sulphate) in our home for bath soaks, which helps with relaxation. But, in the past, I've also used grey bath salts (Celtic salts), sulphur salts (kala namak), and dead sea salts, amongst others.

This was the first time that I had tried Westlab's Epsom, and Dead Sea bath salts, and it lived up to the other salts that I was used to. I am keen in creating hand exfoliators and body scrubs with bath salts. And, it's especially good to slough off dead skin since I can't use sugar scrubs--various salt scrubs work best for my skin, namely the finer grained for facial scrubs.

Using Salts:
I made a hand soak to soothe my working hands, then added a few drops of pure essence: rosemary oil, and lemon oil. For best results, I generally do a soak twice a week to keep my skin healthy, soft, and cleansed, then add a balm of raw shea butter or coconut oil afterward as a moisturiser. If you have dry skin it will happily soak it all up!

Himalayan pink salt is something that my mum used in the kitchen along with using black lava salt, but only in the recent decade have I used them more personally, and outside the kitchen.
Himalayan crystal salts differ from rock salts in that rock salts come from the ocean and seas, which is not as pure as Himalayan salt. Because of the natural formation and origin of Himalayan salt happening before pollution, it has been preserved, thus retains it's purity. Himalayan salt contains over eighty minerals, including calcium, and magnesium.

One of my favourites in the bundle were the Dead Sea Salts, it provides a natural source of potassium, magnesium, as well as purifying and cleansing the skin. Westlab pure salts have no additives or harsh chemicals, and are all suitable for sensitive skin. The brand also provides salts for children, and Sodium Bicarbonate (perfect for homemade bath bombs).

Tips: Pressed for time? Or, if you're not really the "DIY" type, then just add your favourite shower gel to a glass container with several tablespoons of salts. You've got easy salt scrub now!  

What type of salts do you use? Have you tried West Lab products?

The goods: Epsom salt, Dead Sea salts, and Himalayan pink salt (food-grade available here)-Courtesy of Westlab. Printed linens-c/o Gudrun Sjoden. Shop online here WestLab products are available at Tesco, or Boots (UK), and at Walmart (US).  
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Beauty, Food, and Weekend Style

Hiya lovelies, as many of you may have noticed, I've been a little preoccupied lately. But, fret not, I have been helping out with a friend's weddingonly involved in the aesthetics though (floral arranging and a few other decorations), not planning it. As I get ready for the weekend, I wanted to share a few things that have inspired me lately: food (obviously), art shops, and even recent purchases.

Looking forward to sharing more with you soon, and reading your wonderful blogs over the weekend.

1. Eating & Drinking: Homemade: cacao almond bark, good for your skin berry bowls, and sweet potato fries w/a refreshing twist of lemon, fresh basil, and sriracha aioli. Drinking: Fresh melon, cucumber, and mint infused water, preferably in these pineapple shot glasses.

2. Supporting: Independent Designers: "It's all, Oh so souvenir to me!" (OSSM) is a platform for emerging talent. The site is dedicated to showcasing particularly Greek designers, and carries a myriad of items from fashion accessories to printed art. Fellow blogger and friend, Adeola of Distinguished Diva is behind OSSM so do check it out! The concrete and wood candle, and embroidered necklace were two personal favourites.

3. Fitness Favourites: these colourful adidas running shoes! Surprisingly, even though I wear bold hues in my clothing, for my trainers I typically wear classic black and white predominantly. But, these here are graphically pleasing with a little personality and style.

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4. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay: This is really an oldie but goodie, and I am uncertain as to why I'd forgotten about this mask, because I used to make it regularly years ago. I have been reverting back to clay powder masks that I have tried in the past. This one is made with 100% natural calcium bentonite, and works well as a great deep cleansing clay mask. It can be a tad messy if you're not used to mixing clay, but it's not my first rodeo, and I simply use a small scooping spoon with a bowl for mixing, then add a dash of apple cider vinegar, and apply with a brush or sponge.

5. Planters: We have sowed and reaped the benefits of our little garden, and now have even more to look forward to. I will probably need to get a bigger greenhouse in the future, but for now, I am happy to see our jalapeño peppers, basil, rosemary, carrots, and lettuce flourish already. I love these tall planters, which would fare nicely alongside the other succulents that I have.

6. EX1 Cosmetics: I had heard quite a lot about this brand from a friend visiting from Israel, and she had mentioned to me that it was a great alternative for deeper skin tones: yellow, olive, dark, deep skin pigments and complexions, which I was interested in. My first run was trial and error, as I bought the wrong colour, but I was able to get it all sorted with ease. The foundation is completely blendable, which is why I bought it. *Pros: Works well and has good coverage, not full. *Cons: Limited colour selection overall.

7. Watching: Peaky Blinders: Last season, I was too busy to see full episodes, but then caught up on it later. Now that the new season has already begun, I am so engrossed in the series, instead of date night out, it was great for a night in when it was rainy outside. It airs on BBC 2, and all six new episodes will be available to stream on Netflix from 31 May. Have you seen it? Check out this roundup and soundtrack breakdown here.

Tip: Go to a party food store, or wholesaler and buy these little baskets. They are perfect for entertaining, so I bought ten of them, plus a few other goods. When you have guests over, it's like being at your own little diner!

What have you been up to lately? 
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3 Books For The Foodie In Your Life

Acquiring a gift for a culinary enthused friend or loved one can be quite difficult at times, especially if they already possess the latest gadgets and kitchen tools. However, in my opinion, selecting the perfect recipe books are gifts that have staying power.

They can be loved and appreciated long after the gift giving occasion. I've curated a few of my current favourite cookbooks that would also make excellent gifts! This includes recipes for the health conscious, bread lovers, or any epicure in your life. Read on ...
1. The Naked Cookbook by Tess Ward  
Food blogger and Le Cordon Bleu trained chef, Tess Ward has been a personal inspiration for some time, so I was excited to hear about this book coming out. The Naked Diet author is forthcoming with a fair amount of content geared toward how and when to detox properly with food, and there are excellent suggestions on certain areas of focus during your detox, (i.e., the stomach and the intestine with a breakdown on digestion, et cetera). Overall, this is a great book to have in your cookery arsenal.

Why I liked it:  
The Naked Cookbook provides a little bit of everything: astute in execution, and focusses on raw unprocessed ingredients, juicing, and clean eating. Consequently, your eating habits become better, thus increasing your energy and weight loss.

There are some pretty earthy and succulent recipes within this book, many of which don't take extremely complex ingredients, just fresh elements. I made the salmon tartare with wasabi crème fraîche, and tried the goji berry lettuce wraps (but with prawns, instead of meat). They were both delicious! I'm interested in testing the other recipes from the book and since I already cook and bake, the recipes seem fairly easy to grab hold of (instruction-wise). Although, if you're new to cooking in general it's more of an intermediate cookery book rather than a beginner's guide. This book is available 17 May. Pre-order it here.

2. Tasting Rome by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill 
I have not been to Rome yet, but my family have been to Italy many times and have always told me how much they adore Rome, as well as other surrounding cities. This book was fun to read, it's a great collection of recipes, culture, and storytelling pertaining to Italian cuisine as well as the experiences of the author's adopted city, Rome.  

Kristina and Katie give you a premier ticket directly to Rome, and you needn't pack anything at all! Simply open your eyes and let them take you on a gastronomic journey with tales of the historic city. Indeed, you will learn something.

Why I liked it: I love gourmet pizzas, however as a person who isn't too keen on eating a lot of pasta or Italian cuisine typically, I found this book surprisingly refreshing. Overall, the recipes are rather doable for all levels of cooking, and there's something for everyone, namely those who love Italian food. From fresh hand-made breads to unique range in pizzas, amongst the good-hearted diverse variety of regional recipes to choose from. Some of the recipes will have you wanting to jump in the photography to smell the aroma seeping through the pages. Now, I cannot wait to visit Rome in the near future. Buy it here!

 Above images taken from books. I was given early released copies of all books via the publisher. All opinions are my own & honestly expressed.

3. Good + Simple by Hemsley + Hemsley  
I have been following the Hemsley ladies for quite a while, so when I heard of that they were publishing a new cook, I knew that I would love it. We've just started our own garden a several years ago and we tend to use the fresh herbs, spices, and veggies from our own garden, which helps with cooking.

There are plenty of accommodating recipes for veggie lovers, meat-lovers, and more! Good + Simple is well-worth adding to your cookery library. The two London-based sisters really focus on healthy living—for the stylish lifestyle—copious pages of wholesome cuisine is the result.

Why I liked it: The layout and entirely everything about the book is something to be appreciated sans feeling like you're reading a sermon. It's visually fulfilling, and chock-full of colourful, healthy, and tasty recipes to delight in (from traditional muffins with a twist to wellness in eating, and hearty main courses). It's like cooking with friends. You can watch these lovelies TV series here. If you're seeking delicious variety, then the book does not disappoint. Buy it here.

Do you have a favourite culinary book this year?  

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Spring: Insta-Living Vol. 12

It's been quite some time since a style post has graced this space. Some of you are so lovely with your messages and if you're wondering if more fashion will still cover the FT blog ...Yes! I wanted to show you a handful of favourite ordinary snippets of my April, including this comfortable tee that I have been practically living in.

Additionally, here are several images from my Insta-feed, amongst others that were not shared. As I am travelling away on a short holiday this week, I will return next week regularly, and will visit your blog sites soon. Of course, you may catch up with me via Instagram.

Recently, I had the pleasure of flying to Nashville in the States to catch up with a dear Southern chef friend, Chris who just had a baby boy last year. One thing that I took away during my spontaneous jaunt was all of the amazing food that we ate, in addition to how generally sweet people seemed to be there. I also did a photo shoot of some culinary goods, but that's a whole other story for another time.

I was only there a couple of days, and although it was a full-on extended weekend of leisure, there were productive moments that made me boundlessly passionate about food entirely, and to a higher degree.

I have always been into science (and even as a fashion design major and physics minor) naturally gravitate to all things stylish with precision in motion. Chris decided to give me and a few others a lesson in molecular food---the art of gelification in gastronomy. It was a real treat creating spherification experiments, and fun developments. I am looking forward to sharing recipes and the experience in the future, so hold on to your baking sheets!

How has your spring been so far? Did you go to any festivals, art exhibits or new restaurants lately? 

 Above: Break time Casual style shot, Jewellery trays, New Kate Spade "My Lips are Sealed" bangle, Homemade entertaining goodies, including lavender ice cream (top right), beet-berry, and coffee caramel molecular desserts flowery concoctions, and oatmeal & flax energy cookies.

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Petal Pizzazz

This time in the FT Kitchen atelier, the ingredient spotlight is edible flowers: full of splendour and rich in colour from Marx Foods, a family-owned company. Based in the Emerald City (Seattle), the online retailer provides quality fresh and fine food products—lofty ingredients for exalted restaurants, chefs and even home cooks.

There seems to be a resurgence in floral embellishing in the culinary industry. Perhaps, it's a dash of classic garnishing that never really left to some degree, but it has made heavier impressions in modern creations. As the daughter of a caterer and fine cook, I know that I have fond memories of watching my mum use flowers in cooking and baking (pan-fried dandelions, and jasmine cake comes to mind amongst many others).

Whether you're a pastry chef, home baker, or any berry bowl connoisseur, you already know that flowers just make everything prettier! But, let's be honest, you can't compromise with taste, so I've put together a few favourites that we tried during this particular shoot. You may be surprised to know that some edible flowers can not only be used for its allure and petal glory, but there are actual health benefits in some as well.

Spring has made an entrance and, with summer's awaited arrival, there are days when your wants may outweigh your foodie needs. Wanting a cold smoothie, and other days when you might need an indulgent treat due to climate conditions. Don't fret, we covered most all of these cravings below for your spring entertaining.  Take a look at some of the ways I've incorporated flowers in this presentation.

From homemade doughnuts to a flourless butterscotch brownie cake, if you're in a time crunch, there are plenty of easy ways to garnish foods that you can prepare for any group of friends in no time. Additionally, vanilla chia pudding and chilled Mediterranean salad are just couple of ideas I started with. I used flowers to garnish these recipes to brighten up our dishes, adding a refining element to the whole aesthetic.
By the time you're comfortable with using blooms in your cooking and baking, you will find various calibres of exploration and ways to decorate. Marx Foods sent some of our favourites from their edible range: Micro Dianthus and Pansy Blossoms.

The pansies are quite mild in taste, namely the soft yellow coloured petals had an almost buttery taste, in addition to their natural semi-sweet flavour. The other colours were milder and none altered the taste of the dishes or beverages.

The Micro Dianthus are redolent of carnations, and were a bit tricky to work with initially, as they're delicate in scale. They are slightly bitter in taste, and come in rich purplish-red hued petals with small rumpled edges. The dianthus flowers were the perfect epicurean accompaniments to a simple or decadent dessert.

So, instead of eating your regular boring porridge, spring salad, or scrambled eggs, next time give your plate some vitality and style with a touch of floral. I added a few pansy blossoms to the hibiscus and cinnamon iced-tea that I made. It's refreshing and full of brilliant colour to make a statement by the glass. More importantly, it will get conversations started and will bring pleasant smiles to your guests.
How to decorate with Edible Flowers - Food Trends

What do you think of these spring creations? Have you used edible flowers?

BuzzFeed Food bloggers
Marx Foods - Gourmet Food suppliers
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The goods: Pansy Blossoms and Micro Dianthus flowers-Courtesy of Marx Foods, Stemware, Flatware, and Hostess set-Shop Reed & Barton, Kitchen linens: “Agda”/”Kackel” kitchen towel in eco-cotton, and cardinal and “Agda”/Kackel eco-printed napkins-c/o Gudrun Sjoden. View recipes here. More coming soon. *Special thanks to Marx Foods, and a shout out to Veronica for providing ace customer service! Shop and view the edible flower range here.

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