Thursday, 24 April 2014

beauty: Neal's Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream

Neal's Yard is a fantastic organic beauty brand, driven by the ethos that beauty should be more natural and less synthetic. Started in 1981, Neal's Yard has grown with force as more and more people become aware of the chemicals in our beauty products and look for natural and organic beauty brands who dont compromise on the quality of the products. And they have something for everyone, with skincare, hand and body creams, make up, products for men, mother and baby and an aromatherapy range. 

The Bee Lovely hand cream is a rich moisturising hand cream that smoothes into your hands and leaves them feel soft and nourished without the greasy feeling. As you know fragrance is a big sticking point for me but the combination of sweet organic honey and organic orange essential oil is warm and zesty and not overpowering. 

Made in England with no synthetic fragrances or colours, this cream is perfect for anyone looking for affordable, locally made organic skincare products. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

stripped back: images and postmodern

Everyday we are bombarded with hundreds and probably thousands of images, all with the purpose of making us want and when we want, we purchase. Our society has become more and more concerned with consumption and the transition into postmodernism, it could be argued, was the driving force behind the transformation of our attitudes regarding the issue of consumption. Richard Hebdige, who wrote a book in 1979 entitled Subculture: The Meaning of Style talks about postmodernism as an arena where competing ideas, definitions and social tendencies are active. And with technological developments occurring at the speed of light, out society has become more concerned with fantasy desire and the visual, than reality and needs.

The reliance we have upon mass media images and the false representations they offer, mean society has developed an inability to distinguish between the 'real' and the 'hyper-real'. This could be attributed to the prevalence of advertising and the forceful nature of images and branding which goes hand in hand with the promotion of product or company. Which brings us to Antrepo, a design agency whose recent project was all about simplicity and stripping back branding. I wonder if all packaging was stripped back and a basic approach taken to all product design, whether we would purchase the amount, or types of products we do. 

A company's branding is one of the most fundamental things, but in essence, the below images show that the branding can still be achieved with a simpler format. In some cases I feel the simple design elements give the product a more sophisticated and high-end feel, like the Mr Muscle, Red Bull and Evian. But you can decide for yourself. 


Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Weekend the London way

I haven't done an Easter Weekend in London for three years and I have forgotten how dangerous it is. No, not dangerous like in Cyprus where kids have a tradition of collection wood and making bonfires and setting off fireworks. 

No, England is dangerous for my waist line. The supermarkets are filled with bargain chocolate easter eggs, the family is all together in England for once and there will at least one roast dinner this weekend. Expat easters in Cyprus were very different: there is a huge religious context given that Cyprus is such a strong Greek Orthodox community. And with that comes many traditions including red eggs, cheesy easter flaoune bread and a big BBQ feast to celebrate the end of the fasting period. 

In England our traditions are different within each family, but in mine, Easter means the smell of daffodils, a roast dinner, hopefully having both of my brothers in the country, chocolate easter eggs and well, more chocolate easter eggs. However you celebrate I hope you had a happy easter. I am sure everyone is in a chocolate coma right now.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

food: butternut squash risotto

I have a new food crush; risotto. The first week I was back in London, my friend made me an amazing butternut squash and sage risotto and ever since I have been hooked. So much so that I have made it twice in the past two weeks. I always thought risotto was one of those tricky, time consuming dishes that under my hands, would turn into a glue like mushy mess. But it turns out it isn't so hard.

I was too busy chatting away to pay attention to the specific ingredients or the process my friend followed, but found this little recipe on BBC Good Food website, which has been tested twice now and has worked perfectly each time. I like this recipe because it is very simple, there are a handful of ingredients, several of which (olive oil, vegetable stock, butter, white wine, cheese, onion...) you will probably already have in your fridge or cupboards. 

The whole cooking procedure for this risotto is pain free; 
  1. Roast the butternut squash with garlic and sage
  2. In the meantime, fry onions and garlic
  3. Add the risotto rice, add the wine and cook down until its absorbed
  4. Then start adding the stock
  5. Mash half of the roasted butternut squash and stir it into the risotto once done. 
  6. Add the cheese (by the way, I used cheddar because I didn't have parmesan but it worked perfectly) add the chunks of roasted squash. 

Et voila; butternut squash and sage risotto. 

What I have realised quite quickly about risotto is the versatility of it. I mean you can make a base risotto and then throw in whatever you have left over in the fridge and you have a comforting and warming meal ready in no time. Try it with mushrooms, peas, green beans and mint, bacon and sweet potatoes...the possibilities are endless. 

And the great thing about risotto is that there will always be some leftover because the rice puffs up a lot and I can never judge proper quantities. That means last nights risotto will see us through the easter weekend long after the roast dinner has been devoured. 

sunday sound #17


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