Simple things in life

2016 is behind us and 2017 is here.

2016 for me was a year of adapting to a new way of living, where this little most wonderful creature came into my life and took priority over ‘me’. Even the poor little parrot had to move over in bed and his neck rub count has significantly declined. However, I am working on improving that. In fact the parrot is learning to dance.

After being on maternity leave, my attitude to work has somewhat changed and despite really enjoying the independence and ‘me’ time that working now gives me, I know that family and doing what one loves is what give true joy.

So this year I hope will be more about enjoying the simple things in life. Such as cuddling my little one, literally exploring the world and developing our senses. Whether it’s learning a new word or demonstrating what happens if you push a pen into a balloon..

Considering the disruption of the status quo in the world, it’ll be better to ride through the storm whilst learning some calligraphy, writing more post cards, reading a book or two and simply being serene. Whilst exploring some fabulous places, trying out some tasty food and broadening my horizons on beauty potions and lotions.

Happy 2017.

 

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Afternoon tea with Marie Chantal and M&S 

Recently I had the occasion to be part of a magical afternoon tea at Haymarket Hotel organised by Mothers Meeting for the launch of Marie Chantal’s new collaboration with M&S. For those of you who don’t know, Marie Chantal is a high end children’s wear brand. I only discovered MC randomly walking into their boutique on Ledbury road in Notting Hill where I discovered the cutest onesies for babies with angel wings. It’s funny how priorities change once one becomes a mom. I really tried my best to sneak out for an hour from the office to be part of his preview of baby clothes!

I couldn’t believe the stunning setting when I entered the room. The table was decorated with gorgeous balloons and there were pieces from the new collection to be seen – all 33 of them. With room full of inspiring and ambitious ladies, mothers, above all, I was somewhat surprised to hear that Marie Chantal, the founder, was there too. I did not actually realise, only until after the event, that Marie Chantal, the founder, is an actual princess. I call my daughter one all the time!

There was a magician attending to keep the children entertained, I was somewhat sad I couldn’t have my little girl with me. However, more of a reason to get to know other mothers. I was lucky to speak to Marie Chantal,truly an inspiring lady, who told me that the inspiration for her angel wings design was the birth of one of her sons, as his hair was silver and angel-like that the midwife was convinced he was an angel, or at least close to one.

Now the most important part was ,the revelation of collaboration between M&S and Marie Chantal. Meaning that the designs will continue to be as high quality, however they will be more affordable and my little girl will be able to have more dresses fit for a princess.

Like the one below, available at M&S from  1st November 2016.

Ramen cookin’ in London

I have always been a great lover of Japanese food, until the moment I arrived in Japan 6 weeks pregnant. Suddenly any food vaguely Japanese made me feel sick. Even a simple of thought of Japanese food made my stomach twirl.

Well, bit of a problem when you are in Japan, I tell you.

Anyhow, I felt like this period is now long passed me, so when I was given the opportunity to learn to cook Japanese dish ramen, I didn’t think twice.

Ramen in itself is very healthy, what makes it special is the broth, which is cooked for hours and hours, to bring out all the goodness. As we were explained, ramen for Japanese is almost equivalent to fast food (but it’s not), which you would have late night after a few pints of beer, or just for lunch.

The course I went to was at Sozai Cooking School, very conveniently located just behind Aldgate station. If you work on the city, it’s very easy to reach.

Our instructor Akemi was brilliant at explaining each step and involving us, students, in the process. For example by sealing the pork belly, as seen above.

To my surprise, we cooked ramen from scratch, which Japanese themselves very rarely do. With huge variety of fresh noodles available at supermarkets, wheeling patties of dough through a pasta maker, is not something an average Japanese person often does. Yet, it was so much fun and gave me a sense of achievement, without doubt.

In a couple of hours, we were to prepare three types of ramen – cold ramen, miso ramen and pork ramen.

All in all I would say that cooking ramen is a lot about mixing the right quantities and timing of cooking, so it’s in fact less complicated than I thought. However, it can always go wrong (which I will explain below).

We started by cooking the pork belly, first by sealing it and then adding it to the sauce consisting of soy sauce, mirin, sake, Chinese wine, star anise and sugar.

After that it was time to prepare the actual noodles. We made the dough out of flour, baking powder, salt, hot and cold water. After letting it set, we put the dough in cling film and kept it in the fridge.


Moving on to prepare the miso ramen. Miso in fact is fermented soy beans – did you know that, as I had no clue?  We learnt that each region in Japan have their own typical miso, like the Italians would have a special pasta sauce or dessert in each village.


By the end of the evening we were all sufficiently hungry. I was nervous to try out the ramen, having vivid memories of not eating ramen in Japan. However, it was delicious. Three(!) bowls of ramen went down as a treat.


So, after such a successful evening I tried to cook it at home. How did it go? I tell you one thing, do not put your baby to bed and leave the pork cooking in the pot unattended, as otherwise … it may not work. Another tip – make your own chicken stock, it will make a huge difference. 


And go on the course, to learn how to make these amazing photographable-instagrammable ramen eggs, which came out just fine.


I’ll definitely keep practising my new found skill of ramen cooking – happy egg-perimentig. 


Sozai Cooking School
5 Middlesex Street
London
E1 7AA

 

Sensory travel with Harper’s Bazaar 

Last week I had the pleasure to attend Harper’s Bazaar’s and Ritz Carlton’s evening of travel held at an amazing venue of 30 Euston Square with my beloved sister and … my baby . There were some pretty stunning views inside the building!  

Upon arrival we were welcomed by glass of bubbly and canapés, surrounded by numerous eager travel lovers. We were then ushered to the lecture hall to hear a discussion on modern take on travel before we were given the opportunity to experience the sensory travel. 

This meant that there were themed rooms set up as Arizona, Kyoto and Barcelona. Decorated and catered by people that work at Ritz Carlton hotels in these parts of the world.

My favourite was Barcelona.

  

The patterns, colours and the flowers.
   

Seems like there is no better way to transform the atmosphere than bringing along locals, serving local wine and patatas bravas. What surprised me was how impressive the flowers were, really giving an idea of the look and feel of the hotel in Barcelona.

Certainly inspired me to go to Columbia Road Flower Market more often on a late Sunday afternoon and perhaps some day even Hotel des Arts in Barcelona.

Cepages, best kept secret of Notting Hill

Forget about Granger&Co, Cepages is the new winner, a discreet looking hidden away gem of Notting Hill. This is where you should be queuing, especially if you love wine as there’s plenty of it. Small bistro-wine bar in Notting Hill, very French and welcoming serving the most delicious food you can imagine. It’s the perfect spot to go to for a catch up with girlfriends with some wine,or a great date spot or simply a good place to meet some friends for dinner. It’s good for all. The menu has been built up very much as tapas style, everything can be shared. However, you do not have to. My favourites from the menu are the langoustine with leek, scallops and the escargots. Even the desserts are gorgeous. Finding it difficult to make up my mind, I find cafe gourmand as a great option – little bit of everything. To do well, there has to be a soul to a place and that there is in the form of the owners Geoffrey&Dan, who are just great and truly know their wine.

Go on, go have a try.

My Favourite My Burberry

 

If diamonds are girls best friend, then perfume is definitely the second best friend. You can never have too many and one can dress a perfume like an outfit – light and floral for the day and musky or woody for the evening. Or you can just wear the perfume inspired by a trench coat, depending on what the weather is like. 

My Burberry is a perfume that’s supposed to create the scent of a London garden after rain. It must be a very floral garden, as ours doesn’t smell like this, however, the perfume definitely carries the freshness after rain. It’s not overly sweet, yet has a tiny hint of flower in it. I love the fact that one of the top notes is sweet pea! The perfume is long lasting, at least on me.

The design of the bottle carries the trench coat theme, with horn finished cap and hand-tied bow of gabardine, which is a fabric invented by Thomas Burberry over a 100 years ago. 

Did I say that the faces for the perfume are Cara and Kate? Can it get more English than that.

An excellent last minute Christmas present for someone who loves London.

London Baby Spa and Taylor Taylor, treats for mom and baby

Something I’ve noticed is that every new mother has a hair cut either just before or after the arrival of their baby. It’s like the thing new mothers do. And fair enough as it’s a good way to keep up the self esteem and feeling like a normal person in the new world of sleep deprivation, breast feeding and changing nappies. What I didn’t know is that in Kensington, London there is a Spa only for babies that they can visit as early as 2 days old. Obviously, as being born and sipping on milk is pretty tiring in itself, so a Spa is absolutely appropriate.  

As I have been planning to go to hairdressers for a very long time, I decided to combine the two in one day.  

London Baby Spa is the first of that kind in the world. Tucked away in a quiet courtyard off Kensington Church Street, it has look and feel of a spa like any other. Except it’s not – when entered, there’s a sitting room for parents to nurse or just sit with their babies. Opposite there’s the spa area with specific sink like pools for babies up to 3 months and a bigger pool for older babies where they can swim with other babies. The mothers benefit from the relaxed atmosphere and camomile tea. It’s encouraged that the babies are well fed before their “treatment.” In fact I heard very loud “give me food” screams just before ours and can imagine it not being pleasant to either of the parties. The treatment session started with the baby being put into water with a large purple ring being placed around their neck. It looks a little uncomfortable to be honest, but the baby didn’t seem to mind, floating from one side of the sink to the other paddling her little feet eventually drifting off to sleep in the water. Apparently this exercise encourages them to breathe only through their nose and being quite intense for the baby, burns a lot of energy. Some say it also makes their babies sleep through the night, but I can say it did not happen in our case.   After the little paddle, the baby had a snack to be sure that she’s throughly content and was then passed to Maria – Luisa for baby massage with grape seed oil specially imported from South Africa. She absolutely loved the massage and have to say it’s useful for the parents to see how massage is performed as well for some movements to use at home. The sessions at the spa cost £60 during the week and £65 during the weekend. I see it more as an occasional treat, but I can understand that for parents whose babies are extremely temperamental, bringing them there more often can be beneficial. 

Spa done, it was time for the hair.

Taylor Taylor on Portobello road captured my attention some time ago when I discovered that there’s a hairdressers with a cocktail menu and a bar. In addition to that it has the most gorgeous painting of a peacock at the hairwash area.   During the 3.5 hours I spent there, I only saw highly satisfied clients depart through the door.  

 December is their busiest time, so I didn’t get the same level of attention as I did last times around, which was a little bit disappointing, I was however supplied with magazines and cocktails and the hair turned out great in the end, so I could exit by joining the parade of happy customers as well.