A Flavourful Afternoon

For this spotlight series I am taking you to Lebanon, but in a virtually pleasing way. There's plenty of options to satiate your palate, powerful flavours to ignite both sides of your brain, and an array of colour to appreciate. So, sit back, grab a cuppa, and enjoy the view.

After a long day of preparing flowers and creating party favours to shoot for an upcoming event, I decided to have a few snacks waiting for us upon our return. It was an unusually warm winter day. To start unwinding, I made an easily blended refreshing rose tea.

For our afternoon spread, I used rose water by Mymouné, which is infused with Damask roses and distilled by each drop to allow its natural scent to remain. Typically, I use rose water in baking, and rose oil in my bath and body care because of its natural benefits. Rose water helps to fight acne, eczema, and maintain the skin's PH balance, as well as has anti-inflammatory properties.

In collaboration with Mymouné, I wanted to showcase a few of their products that we used in the gathering with the crew. If you've not used any of these ingredients we're about to talk about, perhaps this post will give you some inspiration. Mymouné specialises in traditional Lebanese food products that are free of artificial flavours, chemicals and additives. The Lebanese brand harvests their all-natural delicacies: preserves, syrups, jams and flower waters, amongst other items. Unlike some brands that carry flower waters, Mymouné's orange blossom and rose water is pure and has no additional blends.
In my family, za'atar was used quite a bit. My mum has catered plenty of functions with tasty flat breads and poultry sprinkled with za'atar, for clients, family, and friends. So, implementing these herbs and spices was an obvious choice for me because I absolutely love the taste. We are used to eating with robust flavours and typically use thyme, garlic, and sumac in cooking. Surprisingly, za'atar has some excellent benefits such as helping to fight acne too, and, because of the ingredients, it has anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Mymouné's za'atar is finely ground thyme, sesame seed, a hint of salt, and sumac. The brand has received accolades in the UK, namely the "Great Taste Award" for their particular pomegranate molasses and preserves (sun-dried fig and mulberry preserves) as well as their sumac.

On the menu, I had a motley blend of cultures: North African, Indian, and Lebanese. I made flat bread with za'atar, two versions of Tabbouleh, grilled fish, and curry. It was the perfect start to a late afternoon nosh with a stylishly vivid table. And, since it resulted in an early evening of great conversations followed by gourmet snacks, the dash of sweet and bitter paired in contrast with savoury and tangy worked well together.
The last bit to prepare was the dessert. I made a coffee ice-cream and used Mymoune's preserved orange peel and pumpkin. The Orange Peel and Pumpkin Syrup is part of their unique range of special concoctions with a fascinating twist. You'll find flavours like creme of dates with almonds (jam), and strawberry and rose petals (preserve).

The best part, aside from the memorable taste is the texture. As I topped off the coffee ice-cream with the orange peel and pumpkin, then came a succulent thick drizzle descending from each rounded ice-cream scoop. This combination was an unconventional one, but I was confident that it would be worth it. It was literally, "bitter-sweet" in a great way, therefore deliciously unforgettable. Unanimously, it was decided that I will certainly have to do it again.

What do you think of our cultural and colourful afternoon? Have you tried Mymoune's products?
The goodsRose Water, Orange Peel & Pumpkin Syrup, Zaatar-Courtesy of Mymoune. Tea towel, and Eco-printed napkins, Printed fabric-c/o Gudrun Sjoden. View more interesting info. on health benefits from rose water and za'atar

*You can find Mymoune in the UK at Lebanese Fine Food & Wines, or shop Mymoune globally online here


In Your Ear: Vol. 05

There is just so much music out in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that each musician and/or singer-songwriter is gaining the recognition they deserve. These five artists below are not exactly new, but each one has been doing something quite different and brilliant with their music.

Some music, in my opinion should be listened to firstly with your eyes closed. I have found myself not favouring a particular song (occasionally) if I heard it at a chaotic time, a time when I was really hungry (don't ask me why that matters, but it does), or any other unusual time. Thus, only later becoming very fond of said song in the end. Of course, there are songs that can remedy almost any sombre mood or take the delightful mood to another calibre. But, here are some tracks to listen to … Twice! Perhaps, if even one of these artists brightens your day or broadens your (music) horizons into appreciating something a bit different, then it's worth my scribes.

1. Laura Mvula:

I will forgive you, but shame on you if you’ve never heard of Mvula, because you're missing out! It has been a long time coming for her fans (like me) who've long awaited the release of new music from her. However, one must first acknowledge the amount of beauty and crispness in this woman's unique voice alone to truly fully appreciate. Mvula always gives an amazing performance and has released the new track, "Overcome," featuring Nile Rodgers. You may also view the stunning video by clicking the image above. Do check it out!

2. SOHN 
Earlier last year, I really got into more of SOHN's music. I actually have no recollection of how I heard of his work first, but I'll just credit that from a weekend getaway—the song, "Red Lines" was on repeat during some of my travelling. Remember two years ago, I introduced you to Banks music here on the blog. If you like her, then you'll like SOHN (Christopher Taylor), as he's produced her tracks, "Alibi, and "Waiting Game," as well as Lana Del Rey's, "Ride." Taylor left Blighty for Vienna, Austria, where he's now based. The songwriter, producer, and musician continues to create amazing tracks, and hopefully more works like Tremors, and "Veto" are coming soon.

3. Luke Sital-Singh
It's a special treat when a singer has a distinct sound that you can hear so crisply without all of the dressings of an over-mastered audio production. British folk musician and singer-songwriter, Luke Sital-Singh is one of them. I first heard his music a couple years ago, and after we saw a live show I was hooked by his voice.

He has that unique quality in his voice that can be both, skin quivering and heartfelt. His pithy lyrics capture the essence of vulnerability, rawness, and pure emotion. Here's a few personal favourites by him, including "Dark," "Benediction," and "Nothing Stays the Same."

4. Júníus Meyvant 
I have yet to see Icelandic musician, Júníus Meyvant live, since I recently missed a show. But, a friend of mine first got me on to his music awhile back. His soothing voice on tracks like, "Neon Experience" and easy listening guitar riffs on "Hailslide" made me an immediate fan. I can only imagine the performance being even better in person. There are some songs with an evident soulful, jazz, and folk influence capped with a nod to 60s vibes, but he definitely makes it his own alongside the help of his supporting band, which includes two of his brothers amongst others. View the full KEXP performance here.

5. Tiggs da Author
I've been listening quite a lot to London-based Tanzanian singer-songwriter, Tiggs da Author and "Run" is one of his latest tracks. Shot in South Africa, the video also features Lady Leshurr. This upbeat song is full of energy and somewhat reminds me of family jam sessions from my childhood. Most everyone in my family played instruments, and/or could sing and there were plenty of memorable music infused weekends.

"Run" may very well give you thoughts of summertime. Whether those thoughts are of road trips, late-night dancing, or simply enjoying iced libations of your preference, well that's up to you!
*Images: Video stills via artist's Youtube and Facebook.

What new music have you been listening to? 

Other artists to be on the watch for:  Rosie Lowe (if you like Jessie Ware, then you'll like her, even though they are quite different). Check out Lowe's new single, "Woman," and musician, JP Cooper (if you like soul, folk, acoustic). 


Style Files // Weekend Casual

As many of you know, I have many avocations, and cooking and baking are just two of them. I have been doing loads of it to prepare for a couple of upcoming dinner parties and a surprise birthday brunch. I will have more homemade goodies to share, and you can catch most visual edibles on Instagram as well as the blog soon.

You can usually catch me hosting and entertaining when I have "spare time." Yes, spare time, that's a funny expression isn't it? Although there really isn't much of that typically in my week, I manage to find a way to reserve time. But, in this instance I was on my way to an early dinner with family friends from Berlin. So, we just brought wine and other beverages that could be toted stylishly by hand.

This outfit is supposedly a dress, and to be honest, it's often a risk selecting certain garments pieces. I am tall, however not of an Amazonian stature in my daily posture. I'm used to altering pieces to fit my body, and don't usually quibble over such things. But, this "dress" is essentially a tunic at best on me, so as I did what I usually do with many pieces alike and layered it.

I like it better this way. I'm sure it looks lovely as a dress on someone, just not on me! Everyone kept saying, "I love your shirt" or "what an adorable top." I laughed and just said, "thank-you." Sometimes it's best just to go with the flow. Haven't you been there?

Aside from that, I adore the fun print on this dress, and the boots are extremely comfortable. Much of the weekend, as expected was filled with baking, and enjoying the great company of family friends.

How was your weekend?  

The goods: Lace-up boots, Cat wallet, and Star printed dress-c/o New Chic, Denim-Style & Co., Patent belt-Zara, Postage dog tags-F21, Quilted clutch bag-(similar here). *I'm linking this post up with Doused in Pink's Fashion Files, check out other bloggers here.
 Shop the Look


Style Files // Eco-Chic

We recently visited family friends over the weekend, as they're moving and making a new life for themselves in Queensland. We helped them with packing, so it's been a bit hectic. I took off time from the blog to be consumed in an extended and very relaxing slumber, but also to get other things sorted with a couple of new projects I am working on.

Since then, I have been inspired by the new homeware collection from Gudrun Sjödén. It marries two of my favourite elements: prints and peacocks. Initially, when I saw this embroidered floor cushion, I actually wanted three of them. They would make excellent conversation starters for our upcoming game night too, which is usually full of exciting tales including witty humour, and design-talk as well as all things food.

It's a shame I had to be practical because of fitting the cushions, space-wise, so decidedly I settled on one for the moment. I am in the middle of redecorating the living area, although our mod-theme still remains Morocco meets Ghana, I may still acquire another floor cushion soon. This embroidered pillow is filled with striking colours of violet, teal, and dark indigo hues. What's not to love?

The spring line is inspired by Istanbul, Paris, and Venice—not too shabby at all, in my opinion. Each location offers an undeniable profusion of historical, and artful surrounding embrace. The inspiration is evident in the collection as a whole, but I focussed mostly on Istanbul.

As always nature and travel played important roles in the development of their collection, so I included a few video stills of the marvellous trip to Istanbul and Venice. Both places were also at the root of my personal influence for the little art, sewing, and craft-making session that I had (see my images below).

The bamboo rug from the Istanbul part of the eco-collection also caught my eye with its floral geometric motif.  And, aside from the beautiful print work, the part that I loved the most (about the rug) was its lightness in weight. It's quite easy to stow away under furniture, or in the closet folded flatly when not in use.

This will likely be my essential art mat whilst sitting on the floor cutting and pasting tear sheets for collages, and making hand-made sketches in my scrapbook, or for a mere poetry read. I'm thinking coffee drips, or wine spills shouldn't be a problem either, given the rug's wipe-away "wax on, wax off" face aesthetic. Although I don't intend to make a mess on this bamboo art piece, I do love versatility!

What do you think of the new European inspired line? Do you have a décor theme in your living room? 

The goods: “Iznik" rug in bamboo in Light Indigo, Printed Eco-napkins, and “Istanbul” floor cushion in cotton in colour Turquoise, "Papaya" earthenware patterned plates-c/o Gudrun Sjödén. Shop the home collection here.


Style Files // Manmade {Review}

I recently read MANMADE, a book on men's style and grooming by Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl's Since 1851. Firstly, this would be an excellent gift for the man in your life, whether your husband or father.

But, I decided to get this book because being a former menswear designer and tailor, there were times in the past where I had to style and groom my own models. Now, even though I am not really in that part of the fashion industry anymore, there are times when those skills are still needed to help others. Plus, the mister himself was interested in learning about Salgardo's insight on proper men's grooming.

There's nothing like a well-dressed man, even better, a well- groomed man. For the man interested in expanding his knowledge and learning a few tricks of the trade, or looking for great style tips that he can use daily, then this book would be a great reference.

To be honest, I did not expect much initially, but after delving into the book I was rather surprised at the amount of information given. It reads very easily and almost as if you're flipping through a magazine. Alongside several style hacks from grooming primer tips to travelling easier in style, the content is well balanced with visuals as well as "how-to's" for every occasion. "Keeping it simple" doesn't have to translate into "letting things go," said Salgardo. Instead, the book focuses on being intentional and precise with your skincare products.

Actor and philanthropist, Anthony Mackie wrote the forward of Manmade and zealously shares his experience about how being educated on taking care of his skin has helped him immensely. A person's face is one of the first things that you see upon greeting, so why shouldn't you take it to the next level? As our sartorial style should express our personalities, grooming should be just as essential, personal and expressive.

After reading this book it made me ponder that as women we usually pass on beauty and skin care knowledge to our daughters; ancient regimens and plebeian remedies from great-grandmothers, and mothers are taken with the highest regard. It's a normalcy that tends to be a given principle taught during adolescents, at least this was the case for me. For men should it not be the same way? Fathers taking the time to teach their sons how to shave, and how to care for their skin.

Just as going to the gym, consistency and dedication are just a couple of indispensable elements to maintain a comely appearance. But, as Mackie mentions, his father just used a mere bar of soap for everything, so Mackie's later knowledge on grooming helped him greatly. After meeting Salgardo he had a better understanding of why proper grooming was so important.

Manmade is filled with answered questions and style suggestions for men's skin. It's really perfect for novices to learn the fundamentals in men's beautification, or for any stylish gent who has somewhat lost their footing in the grooming arena.

The goods: Manmade by Chris Salgardo. To learn more about the author click here. I was given this book via the publisher for an honest review. For more information or to purchase the click here.

What grooming styles do you like best in a man (facial hair, smooth shaving, etc.)? Have you read Manmade?

Storytelling Style, and Creative Expression

I had a different post for today, but a week ago I came across this editorial that really resonated with me and I wanted to share it. It strikes a larger conversation regarding diversity in the fashion industry as a whole, more recently the discussion on western designers using Africans as a prop or Africa as commercial scenery. Although the provenance in understanding goes even further than that.

Walé Oyéjidé, designer and creative director behind the menswear line called Ikiré Jones wanted to change the perspective of how African men (namely, in Europe) are portrayed. When he looked for inspiration to photograph his FW16 collection, "After Migration" he took it to one of Italy's city-streets.

The absolutely spectacular editorial showcases bold Ankara prints in classic stylelines and men's silhouettes. They are pieces that would certainly stand out amongst the fashion crowd at Pitti Uomo in Florence, which is one of the largest global fashion events to attend. He showed his FW16 collection there as part of the Ethical Fashion Initiative. View more images here.

Shot in Florence, the editorial angle was clear and simple. Oyéjidé addresses the issue of the fashion industry's lack of black models in high-fashion whilst serving an opposing perspective to the negative representation of migrants in the media. They are real people too. “I thought it was important for many reasons to put them [the models] in front of the camera, not as props, but to convey their unique perspectives,” said Oyéjidé.

“We’re showing an elegant and more humane side to people—not just a headline, not just statistics but complicated human beings with stories and reasons for doing what they do. Dudes like you and me.”

Images/Source: www.IkireJones.com, OkayAfrica. 
*Read the full article here.

What do you think of the Ikiré Jones menswear line? 

Aside from that, I was pleased that you loved my Valentine's Day DIY tutorials so much. The post was chosen as part of Links à la Mode last week. Do check out some of the other blogger's posts in the roundup if you can.

Links à la Mode, February 4
SPONSOR: Shopbop SUNDRYHerve Leger DressesAmber Sceats JewelryMarc JacobsLevi'sOdette New YorkEyelet DressesAnkle JeansGladiator SandalsMen's Ports 1961


Oliva Oil Beauty

I have been using Oliva Oil's line of skincare products for some time in rotation with a few other moisturisers and serums. I recently received some of Oliva Oil's products that I hadn't tested out before, including facial cream, shower gel, and massage oil.

My mum uses olive oil in cooking, baking, and in her skincare regimen, so I grew up with using various oils typically for beauty long before it became a trend. Even my grandmother's family used karite butter (also known as shea butter), almond oil, and coconut oil in their hair and on their skin. As I get older, I find oils like hemp seed, coconut, jojoba, argan and olive oil to be some of my favourites, but for different uses (for hair, skin, and body).

Namely, olive oil is known for its naturally nourishing benefits including vitamins (of both A & E), being rich in antioxidants, as well as having excellent emollient properties to soothe the skin whilst restoring the skin cells.
I gravitated to the Oliva Oil hypoallergenic range because it's not overpowering in scent. The line has top notes of Mediterranean grapefruit, and cedar wood with the natural aroma of olive oil. As a person with allergies who generally loves perfume, I have caution when it comes to skincare products with added fragrance for obvious reasons.

The body lotion is amazing, it's a non-greasy formula that makes your skin feel so luxurious, wonderful, and supple. I shared it with friends to get other feedback and we all felt the same way with the exception of one since she has severe dry skin. I also used it on my hands. The face cream (50 ml) is a thick cream and very moisturising. A little of both of these go a long way. Size: 200 ml

I liked the Bath and Shower Gel, and it leaves your feeling skin clean and smelling lovely. The body lotion was an ideal pairing with it post-shower. I felt a difference after using the gel (texture-wise) because of the smoothing elements. Size: 250 ml

The massage oil is more of a dry oil, which is great after rubbing it on your skin in circular motions. The scent seemed to have tiny notes of almond, but more of the olive oil aroma, and blends well into the skin. It claims to help tone the skin and prevent stretch marks. Since I already use various oils regularly, I can only say that this slightly helped to tone my skin. If you've concerns about stretch marks, perhaps stick to your go-to coffee scrub paired with coconut oil, or a helichrysum oil. Size: 100 ml

Overall, I'm happy with these products. My least favourite though was the liquid soap, although it's just soap, I wasn't exactly seeking massive amount of benefits after using. It cleans well and it didn't dry out my hands after usage, which was good. But, I recommend hydrating the skin after washing your hands anyway. Size: 300 ml

Packaging: beautifully labelled and embossed with brand name. Boxes have a high-gloss finish, and the lotion, shower gel, and liquid soap comes with an easy-lock closure. The massage oil has a screw-top closure.

You can find this skincare line and other Italian luxury brands at GranducatiOliva Oil is made in Italy by Amerigo Laboratories. If you like lightly scented bath products or olive oil based products, then you will love this line. Suitable for male or female.

Have you tried olive oil in your skincare?

The goods: Oliva Oil Liquid Soap, Shower Gel, Body Lotion, and Massage Body Oil-Courtesy of Granducati for Oliva Oil. Shop the beauty collection here. 


Hearty Décor

We baby-sat a friend's precocious daughter, Anya recently. She loves stars. Anything star related she will tell you about them. In fact, she'll likely be an educator one day, but that's beside the point.

I decided to give her a brief art lesson, teaching her how to make a popup card with star cut outs for her mum. Literally, hours of answering the darling Anya's questions, and many visuals later my hands were numb and my eyes were jumping. Tired eyes wouldn't begin to describe it.

Then, after a gulp of caffeine I was fine and proceeded with the task at hand. I contemplated making similar crafts, but using hearts. Afterward, I began to assemble my own crafting goodness of foam ornaments that I'd purchased last year. Instead of making cards, I wanted to design heart-inspired décor.
It's funny what can motivate you for a craft project, despite how simple or complex it might be.
I was making these thinking of various Valentine's Day projects for children, or for any adult with a playful side still residing within. One of the many results are these felt-foam hearts.

By the end of the craft project I was pleased with the foam heart balls, however I had no idea what to do with them. I know, vexing as it was, meanwhile I couldn't waste further time pouting about it. So, I put them atop candlesticks, in a mirrored bowl (with pearls and fur), and placed them randomly around the house to see what I liked best.
These DIY heart foam balls are incredibly adorable and easy to create. All you need is scissors, spray glue or (E6000), felt hearts of solid and glitter, foam ball(s)-circular/square, sequins (optional), and silk flowers (for second project). 

Project 1: Heart-Foam Balls
Step 1: Take felt hearts and lightly put a dab of glue on the backside of one heart, then carefully place the heart on the foam ball to your preferred area of the ball. Start glue from the middle of heart, working your way toward the outer edge. *(alternatively, you may use heart stickers, or spray adhesive). A glue stick, or E6000 works well. Pat each heart lightly, until all edges are adhered to the ball. Let the ball sit to dry for a few minutes.
Step 2: Repeat Step 1 until the foam ball is covered with hearts.
Step 3: Place more hearts on top of the foam ball, overlapping some of the hearts already glued to fill in any spaces. To get a three-dimensional look, use a small piece of paper or tape and fold it to a nail size (or tiny square) and place on the middle of one heart on the foam ball. Now, place a new heart on top of the folded tape/paper piece covering it with the heart, but only pat the edges of the heart so that the middle is slightly raised. That's it! Now hang it up, or place on table as a centrepiece.

Project 2: Temporary Accents: I also used florist foam squares to make small bouquets with silk flowers. Take the tops off the silk florals with attached leaves, and set in place on the foam. Adhere each bud slowly with hot glue. Shape and place in a basket or atop desired surface. Fit finished bouquet inside a basket or wide-rimmed container.

This is such a great décor treatment, especially if you want to change to seasonal floral colours, and/or want a quick centrepiece. I usually have fresh flowers in our home, but sometimes if we have a friend staying in the guest room I'll put silk flowers in the room just in case of allergies. It's a no fail option especially if you have family over with an infant or may want to reuse the florals for something else.

What do you think of these quick and affordable décor crafts?

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