Cheap Trend: Tassels and Pom Poms

8 May

Tassels hand pom Poms have long adorned clothing and accessories.  From the ends of strings on a peasant blouse to decorating the perimeter of bohemian style cushions. For the past three springs and summers  tassels and pom poms have been out  in full force, dotting otherwise mundane items with dots and splashes of colour and texture. I actually thought this trend was winding down but look and behold it continues to be ever present from runway to the racks of fast fashion stores.

Tassels bangles by Aqua Lilith  $41 US, Pom Poms and Tassels hat by Eric Javitz $250 US, Pom Pom sandals by Elina Linardaki $225 US.

This trend is easy to wear. You can make any look fun and bright with tassels and pom poms, going from zero to vacation mode in seconds. You can shell out some serious coin for a designer item or pick up something more affordable from off price retailers or fast fashion boutiques. OR, you could DIY!

That’s exactly what I did. I decorated a pair of espadrilles, a cross body bag and made a necklace.

Necklace

WHAT YOU NEED 

Length of leather, rope or chain.

Embroidery thread or floss.

Jump rings

WHAT TO DO 

1. Take a length of the thread and wrap it around three fingers multiple times. The more you wrap, the thicker the tassel will be. Alternately, you can use a square of card board, the with determining the length of the tassel.

2. Cut a short piece of the embroidery thread and tie it approximately 1/4 way down the tassel. Make a few wraps then tie off.

3.Thread a piece of the embroidery thread through the top loop and tie off. Add a jump rings and knot.

4.Cut off all the loose ends, then trim the bottom loop to create the fringe.

5.I repeated this twice using different colours and creating varying length fringes. I also combed through the thread with a fine toothed comb to make it fluffy.

6. Slide onto faux leather and tie ends together .

Shoes

WHAT YOU NEED 

Shoes- I used a pair of espadrilles with laces. You can use gladiator sandals or any other shoes with laces.

Pom Poms-These can also be easily DIY’d using yarn but they are very cheap and accessible from craft and stationary stores.

Eye pins- These are the small metal pins with loops at the top. They can either be bought from jewelry supply stores or you can make one yourself with jewelry wire and a round nosed pliers.

WHAT TO DO 

1.Push the eye pin through the Centre of the pom poms.

2. Cut the excess length off the eye pin and using pliers make a loop at the other end. Note, it must be large enough to slide over the laces.

3. Slide the completed pom poms onto the laces at varying points.

An alternate way is using jewelry bales and gluing the pom poms on then sliding those on to the laces.

Bag Charm

WHAT YOU NEED 

Bag- any style you wish, I chose a black square crossbows.

Tassels- you can make them the same way demonstrated above or use inexpensive  ready made ones from a craft stores,  like I am. 

Pom Poms

Thread- I used embroidery thread since it was at hand. You can use rope or ribbon if you like.

WHAT TO DO 

1. Make a loop and knot it.

2. Add an eye pin to the pom poms.

3. Slide onto thread and knot after each addition.

4. Add a jump ring to the top loop then add a keyring to the jump ring.

 

Bonus

I made this little cutie as a bonus. I’ve been seeing pom poms bag charms with eyes all over. This is great for a kid’s bag or for an adult with quirky taste.

I used a larger pom poms, added an eye pin and a jump ring at the top, then a keyring to that and glued on the googly eyes.

Whether you chose to DIY or buy, you’re sure to feel festive and trendy wearing tassels and pom poms.

Beginners Baking Kit 

30 Apr

For all you new bakers out there who aren’t sure where to begin, this is a guide to get you going. This “kit” is geared towards someone who doesn’t bake regularly or who is just getting into baking.

Bowls

You will of course need bowls. Multiple ones of varying sizes. You will need at least one large bowl to hold your batter, a couple of small ones to hold small portions of ingredients and a couple medium sized ones.

Measuring spoons and cups

These are a must. They are useful for measuring liquids and powders and fortunately are very easy to come by. Most supermarkets, hardware stores even craft stores sell them and they can be extremely affordable.

Scale

A digital scale is a personal must have recommendation. I did not own one of these when I first got into baking, I actually ended up buying it at the suggestion of my nutritionist but it came in handy for so much more than measuring servings of almonds. Scales can give exact weights which is necessary for successful baking. Make sure your scale can convert between units (oz/kg).

Mixers

Hand Mixer

This is where you can end up spending some big bucks, but you don’t have to. For someone who is now beginning or maybe doesn’t plan to do a lot of Baking I recommend a hand mixer over a stand mixer.  Stand mixers are fabulous but they are a big commitment. They typically cost at least a couple hundred dollars, they require care and maintenance and they take up lots of space. So start small. Hand mixers are typically affordable,  portable and easy to store and they get most baking projects done with ease.

Whisk

A whisk is a must and you probably already own one. If you can’t afford a hand mixer a whisk will work nut obviously requires more effort. Moreover, whisks are useful for more specific techniques where you may not need ingredients beat together. Whisks are affordable and easily found in supermarkets and hardware stores.

Utensils

There are numerous baking utensils you can find yourself buying. But for the basics you really only need three things. A spatula, a spoon and a palette knife or offset spatula.
Spatula

A spatula is useful for scraping down batter, getting batter out of bowls and for folding ingredients.

Spoon

The need for a spoon is self-explanatory and most people have spoons laying around.

Off set spatula 

This nifty little tool comes in handy for decorating. If you are Icing a cake it helps to smooth the icing over the top and around the sides.

Baking ware

One cannot bake without baking ware. Lol. The type of Bakeware you chose to buy depends on what you plan to bake. For example,  if you plan to make bread and loaves you need a loaf pan and if you are a muffin lover you’ll need a pan for that too. I have a few basic suggestions.

Circular tin

For your basic cake making you cannot go wrong with a circular tin. My one pro tip is get a spring form tin, one you can release and remove the bottom out of for easier removal.

Square pan

This is useful for baking brownies, blondies and other bar type baked goods.

Cupcake tin 

Cupcakes and muffins are also pretty basic baking territory and for that,  you’ll need a cupcake tin.

Baking sheet

This is great for baking cookies and other flat baked goods.

These are the basics for getting started in baking. Let me know if you have any other basic baking essentials that I left off and have an awesome day.

Save

Chocolate Zucchini Loaf (Vegan)

24 May

Hello, today I bring a twist on one of my favourite things to bake: a chocolate zucchini loaf.

Chocolate zucchini loaf

This recipe I decided to swap out the oil and replace it with avocado and of exchange the eggs for Chia seeds. This way I made a new recipe which also happens to be vegan for anyone interested in that.

WHAT YOU NEED 

1) 1 1/2 cups (225g) of shredded or grated raw zucchini  (courgette)-I used my veggie spiralizer and it literally took me 5 minutes.

2) 1 cup (130g) flour.

3)1/2 cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder .

4) 3/4 tsp baking soda .

5) 1/4 tsp baking powder .

6) 2 Chia eggs– To replace one egg add 1 tbsp of ground Chia seeds (I blitzed mine in the Nutribullet) with 3 tbsp of water and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to allow it to form a gelatinous consistency. 

7) 1/2 cup of mashed avocado-To replace oil or butter with avocado,  for every 1 cup of oil needed, use 1 cup of avocado. 

8) 1/2 cup of white granulated sugar. 

9) 1/2 cup of brown sugar. 

10) 1 tsp of vanilla extract. 

The ingredients 

WHAT TO DO 

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a loaf pan

1) Sift the flour, Cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda together.

Sifted dry ingredients 


2) Mix the Chia and avocado well (using hand or stand mixer) adding in the sugars.

3) Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

4) Fold in the zucchini into mixture until it forms a moist homogeneous mixture.

You can amp up the chocolate value at this point by adding vegan chocolate chips (yes they exist). OR if you aren’t vegan just add regular chocolate chips

Mixture 
5) Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 F for 55 minutes or until the Centre is done.

I had to take it out and check a few times because it kept smelling done when it really wasn’t. 

Once it’s done let it cool, Slice and eat!

So swapping out two ingredients definitely changed this recipe. What was before a more firm loaf became a softer one with more of a chewy brownie texture (I’m NOT complaining). I presume using the Chia instead of egg made it less cohesive while the avocado added smoothness that only avocado can. You don’t taste the avocado, only appreciate the creaminess. The addition of vegan (or non-vegan) chocolate chips makes it more chocolate you and a bit gooey.

This is a great loaf especially for a chocolate lover. There is some actual nutrition by way of the zucchini and avocado and Chia seeds but you more than get your chocolate fix. This is a great dessert to keep around and offer unexpected guests or take to a potluck tea party.

Would you try chocolate zucchini loaf or do you prefer regular zucchini loaf? Whatever your answer,  have an awesome day!

Drugstore Skincare Essentials 

21 May

Skincare has become as big an industry as makeup, with hundreds to thousands of brands pumping out some new exciting product every other week.  It can make things very confusing and you can find yourself dropping lots of money on these items.

This is my list of skincare essentials all of which may be found in a drugstore. This doesn’t mean there aren’t outstanding higher end skincare products, but it isn’t a necessity.

Before I proceed with my list let me state two important points:

FIRSTLY, Consult your family physician or dermatologist to determine the right skincare regimen for you. Skincare and makeup go side by side, however, one (skincare) falls into the realm of medicine. I’m not saying to disregard any advice given by makeup artists or gurus, however, do not take it as gospel.

SECONDLY, Having healthy skin is affected by lifestyle, so it almost goes without mentioning that you should aim to: eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep well, limit the amount of alcohol you intake and avoid smoking.

I also want to state that many of my skincare choices come both from my personal dermatologist as well as a dermatologist who has a great, informative YouTube channel; Dr.Dray

Lastly it is worth mentioning that I have acne prone, sensitive, oily-combination skin (that’s also technically ageing). This means that if I can use it,  anyone can!

With all that stuff out of the way, let us proceed.
SKINCARE ESSENTIALS

1 Makeup remover and eye makeup remover– Yes I know these are technically two things! Makeup remover is important in breaking down as much of the cake face before you wash, making it easier. Makeup remover comes in wipes or liquid and even some oils (also technically liquid)

I have nothing but good things to say about the Garnier micellar remover, but there are loads of other brands at the drugstore. 

As for eye makeup remover I’m currently using Almay liquid remover. Another recommendation is witch hazel which is gentle, affordable and effective. 

2 Face wash– A gentle, non-exfoliant face wash for everyday use. This creates a bit of controversy as many persons especially those who wear a lot of makeup think they need a very abrasive face wash to deep clean their pores and get the gunk out. However, being harsh on your skin can ultimately result in further damage and overproduction of oil.

I have three recommendations for gentle everyday face washes: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Neutrogena Ultra gentle cleanser.

3 Day cream WITH SPF!– Do NOT leave out the SPF. This will almost surely defeat the purpose of wearing cream during the day. A day cream with SPF helps keep the skin moisturized, acts as a primer for any makeup products and most importantly protects from sun damage which ultimately leads to wrinkling and increases the risk of skin cancer. If your favourite daily moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF then add a sunscreen.

NB. ANYONE, of any skin tone, can get skin cancer, so cover up!

My drugstore day cream recommendations include: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Oil of Olay.

Sunscreen recommendation: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen.

4 Night cream– After you’ve brushed your teeth and washed your face and getting ready to settle in for the night, put on some night cream. A cream with a glycerin base is good for keeping the skin moisturized by protecting it from drying out. You can also use the same daytime moisturizer at night (sans SPF)

Night cream recommendation: Ceruve, Neutrogena Hydro boost .

A tip for nighttime cream is to put it on when your face is still moist to avoid it drying out when the water evaporates.

5 Night eye cream- You don’t need it. Yes the skin surrounding the eye is quite delicate and can show aging before other parts of the face but your regular moisturising cream works for your entire face. I KNOW, I’ve been fooled before.

6 Retinol cream (on alternate nights)- This is optional. Retinol containing products help prevent signs of aging and it is recommended to start using at age 30. Additionally, retinol products also help treat acne, so it’s useful for many persons. When you do use retinol containing products, stil, use your regular night moisturizer and use the retinol sparingly.

Let me clarify that these retinol products have to be “prescription” strength to offer real benefit. There are some prescription strength preparations available over the counter in some places but other than that your doctor will have to write up the prescription for you.

Recommendations for retinol products: Retin A and Differin gel.

7 Lip balm– I use a thick moisturising balm in the morning and the evening to condition my lips, especially with the increased use of drying liquid lipsticks. A petroleum based lip balm also helps in the removal of stubborn lipstick.

This list is one of essentials and not exhaustive. Also, it doesn’t include products to specifically treat acne or other skin conditions. For that you must see your health care provider.

Are there any other drugstore skincare brands you know about? Let me know and have an awesome day!

Easter Brunch

14 Apr

I love Easter. It always makes me think of new beginnings, a fresh start and of course, Cadbury creme eggs (lots of them).

Today I bring an Easter Brunch inspiration. I think brunch is a fantastic meal to have at Easter time. Everyone has time to go to church or sleep in late and then afterwards a no hassle relaxed brunch. For brunch there are usually lots of options; pastries, omlettes, cakes, cheese boards…the works. I chose three recipes I think would add a great touch to a brunch menu. They are all simple and affordable. I also laid out an Easter/Spring tablescape and added a delicious cocktail.

ON THE MENU

Deviled eggs

Stuffed mushrooms

Fruit Fluff

Peach “mimosa”



Deviled Eggs

This is a brunch staple and of course well suited for Easter. Deviled eggs turn simple boiled eggs into a creamy flavourful treat.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Makes 6

Eggs -The number of eggs you use will give double that number of deviled eggs as they are served as halves. I used 3 eggs so I got 6(only 4 shown)

1 tbsp Mustard– I used a spicy mustard

1 tbsp Mayonnaise– This is optional but it does add a certain creaminess

Spices– I used salt, black pepper and paprika, just a pinch of each.

Deviled eggs ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Hard boil eggs, let cool and remove shells.

2) Cut eggs in half and gently remove yolks. Set whites aside.

3) Add condiments and spices and mix until a smooth paste forms.




4) Place paste into piping bag (you can use a zip lock and snip the end) and pipe into egg whites.



Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms 

I remember the first time I had this version of stuffed mushrooms. My mother brought them home from a local Italian bistro and my life was changed. Something about soft, tart cream cheese against the crunch of a fresh mushroom is a perfect match.

WHAT YOU NEED 

Mushrooms– I used 8 medium sized ones (they were unfortunately a bit bruised)

Cream cheese– The amount you use depends on the number and size of the mushrooms but about 2 tbsp fill 8 medium sized mushrooms.

Spices– I used lemon pepper and some oregano.

Mushrooms and cream cheese 


WHAT TO DO 

1) Add spices to softened cream cheese and mix.

2) Place in a piping bag and pipe into mushrooms. 

Mushrooms and cream cheese mixture



3 )Top with oregano 


Stuffed mushrooms 



Fruit Fluff 

This is my take on an Ambrosia salad. I substituted cool whip with Greek yogurt for a healthier twist and a more “brunchy” feel.

WHAT YOU NEED 

I used arbitrary amounts, a little bit of each. The amounts you use depends on how much you plan to make.

Greek yogurt- The one I used is plain combined with honey so it’s already sweet. A great alternative is vanilla but really any flavour you prefer can be used.

Fruit– I used  mixture of frozen fruit (cherries, strawberries, lingonberries) and fresh  (strawberries and blueberries)

Mini marshmallows

Fruit Fluff mixture

WHAT TO DO

Mix altogether and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Peach “Mimosas”

What’s the best part about brunch? The fact that you get to splash your juice with wine. Lol. Now mimosas traditionally consist of wine and citrus juice hence my use of air quotes. Technically this is a peach cocktail but when doing brunch, we call it a mimosa.

WHAT YOU NEED 

White wine

Peach juice

Canned peaches

Peach mimosa ingredients 




WHAT TO DO 

1) Place 1 or 2 peach slices in the bottom of the glass and muddle it a bit (mash it with a spoon if you don’t have a muddler, which I don’t)

2 ) Fill glass halfway with wine.

3) Top off with peach juice and add a straw.

Peach “mimosas”



Tablescape

An important part of entertaining is creating ambience. For this I chose a simple, clean fresh look in keeping with the idea of a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.

This tablescape employed some crafty skills but all were simple. My colour scheme was pink, white and gold.

Table runner

I made a table runner of sorts by overlapping lots of doilies along the Centre of the table. I added a touch of gold by swiping gold paint over them in a random fashion.

Table runner from doilies




Flowers

I went with pink and white carnations. Carnations are often a very affordable option from the florist costing only a few dollars. I used about 4 bunches in all keeping  the look minimal.

I swished some of the same gold paint onto the flower petals to keep with the theme and placed them in jelly jars.

Flowers




Centre piece 

My “Centre piece” began with ambition. In fact, the failure of this centrepiece led to the final colour scheme, so maybe it was for the best.

For the centerpiece of an Easter Brunch I had to incorporate eggs somehow. I decided to dye some eggs. People have different methods of doing this. The best way I’ve found is using regular food and egg dye and a bit of vinegar to allow for better uptake of colour.

I removed the contents of the eggs by making a small hole at one end and simply allowing it to run out, gently shaking if you need to. Don’t waste your egg ! I put mine in the refrigerator and made omelet the next day.

I mixed the dye, vinegar and water in a mug. I find you get a more even coating if you use a mug.

As it happened the only colour that worked out was the pink (the yellow one broke and the purple came out streaky)

Once my one surviving egg was dry I splattered it with the by now ubiquitous gold paint. I displayed it in a mini jelly jar on a bed of Easter egg shaped jelly beans.

Centre piece




I placed the flowers and Centre piece on the table runner and laid the table with simple white plates and bowls.

The tablescape and settings

Table with food

Deviled eggs 


Stuffed mushrooms



Fruit Fluff



Peach mimosa


Easy breezy Easter Brunch. Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you if you plan on doing brunch for Easter or any other occasion. Have a happy Easter and an awesome day!

Save

Giant Cookie

5 Apr

Giant cookie




When I was a child  (maybe 5 or so) I had a conversation with my mother one evening after school. I told her “I want a giant cookie.” I remember this conversation distinctly. For some reason, I thought this cookie would be made in a frying pan, not baked, and I could envision it being fried as I spoke to her. She told me “Okay.”

 My unsuspecting self didn’t realize at the time she said okay more to get me to stop nagging her than anything else and not because she planned to make this cookie. By the time I was about 11 I had figured out the truth. Many years into my adulthood and still, no giant cookie. There was an attempt circa 2011 by my sister, a valiant effort I must admit. However, the giant cookie of my dreams contains chocolate. So here is my attempt to finally satisfy that long burning desire for a giant cookie.

To make this cookie you need a good recipe. My recipe is adapted from one on Joy of Baking (my baking queen) and it makes a soft cookie. I figured this would be easier for slicing as giant cookies are meant to be shared.


WHAT YOU NEED 

Cookie

1) 1/2 cup (113g) butter at room temperature 

2) 1/3 cup (75g) of granulated sugar

3) 1/3 cup (75g)  brown sugar– I used coconut sugar

4) 1 egg

5) 1 tsp vanilla extract 

6) 1 1/4 cup (150g) of flour 

7) 1/2 tbsp baking soda

8) Chocolate morsels -use as much or as little as you want

9) Nuts – use as much or little as you want

10) Baking dish -I used a shallow 9” glass dish

11) Cocoa powder – I used 1 heaping tbsp

Cookie ingredients 


Chocolate wafers and nuts

Icing

1) Cream cheese

2) Icing sugar

3) Chocolate sprinkles


Cream cheese and Icing sugar


Cocoa and sprinkles


Baking dish




WHAT TO DO 

Cookies

1) Heat oven to 375 F (190 C)

2) Grease or line dish – To allow for easy removal

3) Beat butter until creamy then add both white and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.

Creamed butter and sugars 

Butter and sugar mixture


4) Add egg and vanilla extract and mix

5) Separately,  mix flour and baking soda and add to mixture and mix well.

6) Separate the mixtures into two equal parts.

Separated cookie mixture 

7) Add cocoa powder and chocolate morsels to one half mixing well.

Mixed in Cocoa


Added chocolate 

8) To the other half of mixture,  add crushed nuts

Added nuts




9) Place mixture in refrigerator for about 30 minutes just to firm up slightly

10) Add mixture in alternating dollops into baking dish.

Mixture placed in dish




11) Bake for 15 minutes or until baked through 

Baked cookie




Icing

Mix some softened cream cheese with Icing sugar until desired texture and sweetness. I started with approximately 2 tbsp of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of Icing sugar.

Icing




Top cooled cookie with icing and add sprinkles

Cookie with icing




Slice and serve

Sliced cookie




Finally,  a chocolate giant cookie. Lol. This was awesome. I think this is a great alternative for a birthday cake (for that weird friend who doesn’t like cake) or a dessert with a difference if you’re entertaining.

The chocolate and nuts expectedly go beautifully together. The cookie is soft so it’s easy to slice and eat but not as fluffy as a cake. The cream cheese Icing gave a nice contrast to the decedent almost bitter dark chocolate and the saltiness of the nuts.

(Mummy, I’m still waiting…)

Give this one a try and have an awesome day.

Travel Cosmetics -How to pack

19 Mar

Whenever I travel I always try to pack a little better than I did the time before. And important group of items I carry is of course, cosmetics. From face wash to mascara, these items can get pretty bulky and cumbersome if you aren’t careful. This post lists items I typically take on a trip and how I pack for minimum space usage.


Some of the cosmetics I travel with

A major tip for packing you travel cosmetics is mini. If you can get every item in mini size that would be perfect. Most supermarkets and beauty stores sell minis of many items. For those things you can’t get a mini version of, invest in some mini travel pots and bottles.

FACE AND BODY

These are the essentials.The things you might need along the way on your trip. The things you don’t want to leave home without. Packaging these first.

○ Toothbrush and toothpaste 

○ Mouthwash

○ Deodorant (Secret)

○ Face/body wash(Cetaphil)

● Daily moisturizer(Oil of Olay Daily moisturizer)- I squirting a few days worth into a travel size container.

● Hand cream(BBW Black cherry merlot)

● Sunblock(Coppertone)

● Cleansing wipes(Wetones)

HAIR

○ Hairspray by Rave

○ Hair moisturizer by Garnier

○ Dry shampoo-I hardly ever wash my hair on short trips (I havethick, curly natural hair prone to dryness) so I don’t pack shampoo or conditioner but I do pack dr6 shampoo to keep things clean.

○ Hair gel by Tre Semme

MAKEUP

As tough as it may be, you have to use extreme discretion and only pack what you need. Think of all the makeup items you typically wear on an everyday basis to decide what to take.

● Foundation (Maybelline fit me matte and poreless in coconut)

● Eyeshadow palette (NYX Natural) – A fairly compact palette with enough shades to create multiple looks is ideal

● Blush (Milani American Rose)- A blush that will likely match your eye and lip colours.

● Lip colour (Milani Confident matte) – One that will go well with your eye colours

● Mascara (Too Faced Better than Sex)

● Brown pencil(ABH Brow definer in dark brown)

● Eye liner(Kat von D tattoo liner in Trooper)

● Setting mist(NYX matte)

● Rollerball perfume(Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb)- These are perfect for travel because they don’t spill.

○ Brushes- pack them in a flat brush holder like this or in a thin cosmetic case.

PACKING

I legit pack most of my cosmetics in a massive zip lock bag. Why? Because it holds a lot, it’s clear so it’s cool to go through airport security and if it gets messed up with spilt product you can bin it when you’re finished. 

Everything laid out



Packing things this way also save space because you can lay it flat on top of your clothing.

All packed up

Thanks for reading, happy travels and have an awesome day!

%d bloggers like this: