Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Experiencing with sachlav

My kosher Instagram feed was flowing lately with pictures and videos and recommendations about how to prepare an easy and tasty sachlav, the thick-milk based drink specific for Israel and the Middle East. It is the equivalent of the hot chocolate for Europe, with an interesting history available here. After getting hungry after so many readings and pictures, I have my own experience, adapting this very easy - as usual - and efficient recipe from Joy of Kosher
During a week, I tried various variants and alternatives.
The initial recipe recommends 3 cups - I tried with glasses of coconut milk, which inevitably means that the drink will maintain the unique taste of the coconut. If you use the normal milk, the other ingredients are melting together amazingly and it tastes even better. Probably you can also try other variants of ´milk` such as almond or soy, but I don't know for sure how does it matches in terms of taste.
For the sweet part, I used honey - the worst choice, as well as brown sugar - which is good, instead of the white. I also used a special variant of vanilla sugar - Bourbon sugar, which gives an elegant taste.
The initial recipe recommends rose water, but it is also possible to use orange water, but as for now, I kept this one, simply because I love rose water.
It is very easy to make and especially when using coconut milk, it stays warm for a long time. I always decorated my glass with pistachio. My variant was neutral, but if it is a bit salty, the contrast between too much sweetness - a feature specific to many Middle Eastern sweets, which I really love and cherish - and the pint of salt creates a pleasant effect.
The preparation time is of maximum 20 minutes.
This recipe serves two middle-size glasses of sachlav.
3 glasses of coconut - or normal - milk
1 tablespoon sugar - both white and brown sugar are fine
1 teaspoon vanilla essence - or vanilla sugar or Bourbon vanilla sugar
2 tablespoon corn starch
1 pinch of sea salt
It is very important that you mix very well the ingredients. Sometimes, the canned coconut milk can be half-water, half 'milk', so before you add all the other ingredients, you should mix well in order to have a compact paste.
It is also important to mix well when you add the cornstarch to mix well with all the other ingredients. 
The mix should be heated at 150C until it starts to boil. I let it to boil for maximum 5-6 seconds and after I took it out and poured into glasses while warm. 
Serve it either warm or later on, as a cold thick pudding.

Bon Appetit!

Skin care review: Bebe young care with green tea

Finding the right face cream for the long winters here is not an easy job. I have a normal skin and therefore I am not very pretentious, but on the other hand, it is quite challenging to pick up an otherwise easy product that should do a good protection job. Some expensive choices can do it right, but not always. I also like to not switch too much the skin care products, keeping up for a long time with products that offer the adequate protection.
Completely by accident, a couple of months ago I decided to try the Bebe Young Care cream with green tea. It is aimed for mixed skin, which is exactly the stage my skin is: overall normal, but not that 100% young and shining. Especially for the winter, it is better that you use this mix as the skin is over exposed to long periods of cold - while outside - followed by longer periods of warm - when indoors.
The cream was offered together with make up removal wet napkins, the kind of removal which I am using regularly for almost a year. The price at Rossmann Drugstore in Berlin was under 5 EUR.
I am using the cream twice the day: in the morning, before using the make-up and in the evening, before going to sleep. The skin is becoming in a very short time matte and it has a different, more pleasant texture by touching. It has a pleasant smell and during the whole period of time I didn't experience any allergic reactions. The 50 ml. small glass can reach for at least three months. 
It serves as a good basis for make-up.
Besides various minerals, it contains a significant amount of green tea, an ingredients which has many valuable advantages for the skin and skin care in general. For instance, it has known antioxidant effects with anti-aging consequences, it protects against acne and pollution. Therefore, every major beauty brand includes lately green tea among the mix of ingredients.
Overall, the bebe young care with green tea is recommended for normal and mix skins. It is efficient and offers the right protection for the skin of a modern woman always under the attack of stress and busy life. Strongly recommended.

Monday, January 30, 2017

My lessons learned at the Grüne Woche Festival, Berlin January 2017

Yesterday another edition of the Berlin Grüne Woche - Green Week - dedicated to share food traditions and good practices from all over the world ended. I regularly visit this event and I am always impressed by the diversity of products as well as the interesting healthy options offered. 
As a regular visitor to such events, I wanted this time to be a bit selective and stop only in those places with a certain appeal to me. For instance, the Netherlands that created interesting garden and natural corners bringing a corner of spring in the middle of the cold city of Berlin. The green patches resting and growing around metal structures sent the message that nature brings a touch to nobility to anything, particularly anonymous urban - even abandoned - remains. As usual, The Grüne Woche also had a section dedicated to garden furniture and flowers seeds, but haven't noticed anything out of ordinary.
Drinks from all over the world were represented, from the fashionable craft beers - many of them Made in Berlin - to traditional vodkas - including some Bavarian ones - wines - one full section only for them - or natural smoothies. 
Berlin doesn't have too many Portuguese pastry stores - compared to Hamburg where finding the right pasteis de nata is a hard choice to make. At the fair, the lovers of such delicacies were offered the chance to taste one or two or...how many you felt like to have. As for me, I decided to try some goat cheese puff pastry from Malta, which was extraordinary - except that it was too oily for my taste. The prices were moderate and very often the visitors were attracted with samples of foods - especially cheese. 
As in the case of the Travel Fair that will take place at the end of February in Berlin, Grüne Woche is also an opportunity to discover other cultures and traditions. Each year, a country is the guest star of the fair, this year this honor being awarded to Hungary.
Morocco offered besides various argan oil products, also a musical moment. Bavaria also enchanted the visitors sampling a beer and a bretzel in improvised beer gardens regular concerts featuring traditional songs and costumes. Sometimes, you need to discover more about the cultures in the country you are living in. 
Talking about what I have to learn about Germany, I should start, maybe with some of the potatoes sorts. Or the breads. Or the cheese, many of them made in the same Bavaria aforementioned. Or...anyway, after each fair I attend, I have a long to-do-list to deal with, becoming longer and longer each year, especially when it comes to Germany. 
For the little visitors, in big number on Sunday, the fair offered a corner of nature, with animals - from cats to donkeys big cows or horses. Especially for children growing up in the city, without too much connections to the countryside, this exhibition offered an image - and the specific smells too - of what does it mean to work and live in a natural environment.
In conclusion, although this year I was very selective in visiting the various sections of the Grüne Woche, I had the chance to try a couple of new things and get some inspiration for coming posts. Plus, some interesting offers for weekends and summer and spring vacations. Looking forward to the next year!

Review of the Ethical Fashion Week, Berlin January 2017

Every first half of January, at the same time with Berlin Fashion Week, a special gathering of designers is taking place in the German capital city: Ethical Fashion Show. This event, organised this time at Postbahnhof, in the Eastern part of the city, reunites fashion designers and creative whose works are aimed at offering besides the usual beauty and innovative features, a sample of responsibility in an industry quite self-consuming and targeting success over everything.
It was my second time there - the first time was two years ago - and I was very impressed by the quality of the companies present and the social projects presented by some of them. Here is a short outline of my experience, with the promise to cover extensively some of the brands in some later posts.
Liisa Soolep is a knitwear company from Estonia, offering Nordic fashion for both men and women. A project that benefited of funds from the European Union, it uses light wool yarn made in Estonia, with special knitted patterns which go well for any occasion - from a backpacking trip to an elegant business meeting. The choice, as usual, is a matter of personality. The light pastel colours - I particularly love the pink ones - are another feature of elegance of this brand.
Werner is a German family company more than 100 years old. Adaptation to the new economic and environmental conditions and economic challenges is a main condition of survival. For the 2017 autumn collection, the company presents beautiful shoes made of 'leather' made of olives. The shoes not only look good and elegant, but also have a smooth velvet touch. 
The creation of popular jeans involves many ingredients that can be harmful for the environment. The new generation of designers are creating materials and dying substances keeping in line with the traditional jeans while obtaining environmental friendly results. One of the companies presented at the fair that I've found pretty interesting was Feuervogl, one of the many eco denim brands quite in fashion in Germany those days. 
The children products are a very sensitive issue. It is important not only that are comfy and good looking, but equally made of natural ingredients and colours. Sometimes it is a difficult task to keep the eco- and ethical standards high, because the final costs will be higher and there products can have a limited life-span - the children clothes require more washing and the risk of exposure to various substances which might harm the material is higher. However, there were some interesting and quality products in this domain too. 
For travelers - as me - Ethno-tek brought to the Ethnical Fashion Week some colourful and interesting bags and accessories. The products are hand-woven in various villages around the world - Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Each line of work uses traditional patterns and techniques. In each case, the product is supporting social local projects. The results are very beautiful yet practical for the busy traveler. 
We are rarely aware of the materials included in the production of the things we wear. Shoes, for instance. Some people do and share their knowledge. El Naturalista produces high quality vegan and chrome free shoes. I loved not only their design, but also the variety of colours and the comfortable look.
The eco-friendly fashion entered also the world of glasses. Antonio Verde created a family business producing reading or sunglasses made of ecological products. Another aspect of the company is that it guarantees that its employers, many of them in third world countries, are offered decent working conditions - including health insurance - and children labor is not allowed. 
For 20 years, NIX encourages the feminine look by offering comfortable and urban women clothes. Many of their clothes have an air of the 1920s, and are well fit to the long winter time in Germany and Berlin. The brand is using recycled materials and highly certified products in general. Although the predominant colours of the latest collection are a bit too somber for my colourful choices, there were some skirts and coats that can easily suit a variety of tastes. 
One of the reasons I love to attend such events is for the opportunity of meeting interesting creative people from all over the world that would otherwise impossible to know about. Take for instance, this young company from Guatemala - Ukua Lov Baby - represented by its CEO and founder Daniel Guillen Cornet which launched a line of children clothes made exclusively of ecological ingredients, using among others the dyeing techniques from this country. Although most of the companies presented at the fair were from Germany, designers from Spain, Italy, Austria, Slovakia or Belgium were also present, creating quite a nice world and Europe map of responsible fashion brands.
My favorite products were those created by Feldman Wolf. The women clothes presented are, each and every one of them real works of art, with paintings or pictures printed on ecological silk or other elegant materials. The vivid colours and the lines of design are an example that responsible fashion can be also awesomely elegant. 
Men are becoming in the last years more and more interested in wearing colourful clothes with rich motives and prints. Wish those birds from the bio-cotton hoodie presented by Dedicated Brand were available in smaller sizes. Another company that presented bio-cotton products that caught my attention was C.Pauli, also from Germany.
Last and not least, on the way out of the fair, my attention - and camera - was caught by a brand from the Basque country - Skunkfunk. Besides their big and comfy bags, the elegant prints of the purses were a real catch. If you go on their website, you can find also some very attractive women wear items, that can make your summer bright and colourful too. 
I am really glad I made it to the fair this year. I got a lot of inspiration and ideas for coming posts. I hope in the next weeks to feature more responsible fashion brands, sharing the love for elegance and quality.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Understanding 'Brands with a conscience'

We are living in a world overwhelmed by brands and the appeals to consumerism. The more the better. However, a new movement is developing aimed at promoting responsible consumer behavior and healthy investment. A couple of weeks ago, I've read a very interesting book introducing Brands with a conscience. It introduces famous brands - such as Adidas or Dr. Hauschka or H&M - which decided that success must be based on an ethical set of values. The authors, Sandra Horlings and Nicholas Ind, made me the honor of an interview about the topic of their book and the challenges faced by brands in the next decade. Here are the answers of my questions - sent and answered via email.
Brands With A Conscience is available to purchase from Kogan Page RRP for £19.99. Get 20% off by using discount code BMKBB20 at the checkout.

What is the biggest challenge for big brands in the next decade? 

The overall challenge for brands in general is to stay relevant. At this moment in time a major societal challenge in society (and thus for brands) is the trend of sharing information that is not necessarily ‘true’: not ‘true’ in the sense that the rational measurements and comparisons don’t apply any more. And the way facts are presented has become rather subjective. Which feeds distrust and insecurity. Brands have a way of framing ideas and facts in an emotional way, which gives them the opportunity to reach and activate large groups of people. And Brands with a Conscience take this responsibility serious. These brands are aware of their role and impact in the world and live up to this responsibility in a positive, solutions based way. 

What future do small and new brands have in the current marketing context? 

Larger brands may have been more experienced in following the signs of the time. However, the same principles apply for large, small and new brands. We believe brands that are built inside-out; that have clarity of purpose and live that through in strong principles, are best fit to stay relevant. At Medingewe look at brands from a broad perspective; as a means of interacting with all stakeholders in a marketing context as well as a societal (employment, good neighbourship) and financial context. 

What do they need to do in order to answer the sophisticated needs of their current and potential customers? 

Brands with a Conscience follow their own principles and actively share their ideas with stakeholders. Since they are actively aware of their role and impact, they are also open and receptive to the ideas of others. They listen, respond to suggestions made by specific stakeholders and also promote a way of living that they believe can make better the world better. 

Will 'brands with a conscience' become a trend? Why and how can the examples you mention in the book be emulated, without a significant financial loss? 

Since 2004 when we started to recognise Brands with a Conscience, it has been our belief that brands that engage with consumers and other stakeholders in a conscientious way can be a force for good. In the book the majority of cases show that there is financial gain in acting in a conscientious way. And there are multiple surveys available that are mentioned that show the Brands with a Conscience can be, and are, financially succesful. In our view it is not a trend, although there is a growing interest in a more responsible way of doing business - that may be explained by the growing evidence that business originating in the post industrial era comes at a cost for both planet and people. 

How can brands keep their social relevance in time of financial crisis and turmoil? 

Being principles driven, acting human and humane, including all stakeholders: constantly interacting with people in and around the brand to educate and cultivate conscious leaders and followers. 

What are, in your opinion, the most successful 'brands with conscience' in the European market, and why? 

We’d prefer to define successful here as adding to the betterment of society. In our book we have made a selection of leading Brands with a Conscience originating in a diverse range of businesses: such as chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely, Dr Hauschka, Cosentino, adidas, French concept store Merci and Handelsbanken. There are more brands with a Conscience. They come from all over the world. All these are brands with a massive transformative purpose and strong leaders, that live clear, actionable principles. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

My first kokosh cake

Kokosh cake is a queen of the Jewish cakes, but in some parts of the world - like in Berlin - impossible to find in bakeries. Because a queen...Anyway, the advantage of such a situation is that I can be so hungry for a piece of kokosh that I can try to make it my own. But the last week, I was in one of those craving days, when I was missing a lot of heimishe food and as one of my many decisions for the next months is to try at least every week something new, I took the tremendous decision to make my own kokosh. 
The Kokosh cake is made of two parts: the filling and the dough, with their specific ingredients. There are many of them, especially a lot of sugar - cheat week, here I am. 
For the filling, you need the following ingredients:
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup powder sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Mix well all the ingredients until you have a compact mix. As I will discover later, the cinnamon is not necessarily. But until it melts, imagine a kitchen wrapped in the sweet smell of sugar and the aromas of cinnamon. This process takes less than 10 minutes, but you need to do it calmly, step by step, in order to mix well all the many sugarly ingredients.
Leave the filling mixture to rest and proceed to the next step: the dough. You can start warming the oven at 250C. Take a big tray and cover it with a kitchen parchment.
For the dough you need:
- 1 tablespoon of dry yeast
- 4 cups of flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 150 gr. butter
- 3 tablespoon canola oil
In a saucepan, melt the butter - it can be done in around 10 minutes. If the cake is not supposed to be tasted by kids, you can add some drops of rum or Baccardi. It will actually help to balance the excess of sugar.
Dissolve the yeast in a glass with 1/4 warm water. Wait until it starts to bubble.
Add all the other ingredients, and mix them well.
Knit the dough as often as possible, until you have a compact dough. Some recipes recommend to add some orange juice as well, as it may help the dough to keep being fresh for a longer time - although it may not be necessarily as this cake will be eaten and disappear as fast as the storm wind. For knitting the dough, you may need another two cups of flour. After it is ready, leave the dough to rest for around 10 minutes. You can also put the dough in a ziploc bag and keep it refrigerated it over night and use it the next day. 
The amount of the dough - and filling - is enough for two separate batches of kokosh. I personally preferred the thicker dough with consistent filling. The kokosh experts say that the thinner the dough the better so...follow the ancestral knowledge, always. Therefore: roll the each piece of dough as thin as possible, eventually trying to keep a rectangle shape. Thus, the both ends will have the same size as the middle. In my case, it worked the opposite, but, hey, it was my first ever kokosh!
Time to add the filling. For a better spread, before spreading it, paint the dough with some canola oil.
You are almost done! Time to roll the dough - for me, this was my scary moment, as I was almost sure that somehow everything will broke into small pieces of dough. Would be wise if you prevent the dough to get glued on the table by adding some extra flour before you start rolling. You can also spread an egg yolk - challah style (btw, if you use enough dough, you can also make a bracha and separate challah before starting to prepare it) -  on the outside. Some add some warm water to thicken the consistency of the yolk.
The preparation time for the dough is around 45 minutes.
Before I put in the oven, I left the kokosh cake in the making a bit outside, to rest for around 10 minutes. With the oven warm at 250, it is about time to start the baking. Let it in the oven for around 20-40 minutes. Check every 10 minutes if necessary, to be sure that it will be not too burned out. 
While the dough is in the oven, get ready for the last part of the cooking process - and the less creative one: cleaning. Warning: there is a lot of cleaning and washing to be done thereafter, particularly because using cocoa and other sticky ingredients. 
Time for some tasting! The cake is done and all you need is to having a bit and try to be a good food critic. In my case, I noticed that the cinnamon can be unnecessary as it brings a bit of sourness without any particular good addition to the overall taste. I also realized that the next time I would love to bake it less. Maybe will add the orange juice, at it gives more freshness to the dough.
The two kokosh rolls serve around 20-25 pieces. 
To drink with a cup of mint tea - no, you don't need any more sugar to that - or a coffee or a glass of warm milk.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hand care from Marienbad Cosmetics

I am a very big fan of the Czech spa culture, particularly Karlovy Vary which I visited two years ago part of a travel assignment. Next on my list is Marienbad - Marianske Lazne in Czech - another traditional destination for spa and health tourism in this country. The thermal qualities of the waters here were discovered in the 16th century, and from the 19th century on, the tourism of health services constantly developed. 
Until taking the final decision for booking a journey there, I got a beautiful present from a friend who is visiting this place regularly - a package from Marienbad Cosmetics, featuring the Peola Vital Hands cream - as well as a lip balm and a small candle glass support. 
The design of the package is simple, very common to this kind of gifts boxes in spa locations. The materials used for the box design are relatively cheap and do not resist the test of time. Nothing to remember. The products as such, as also minimally designed without offering to the viewer some unforgettable visual memories. In fact, I've found that the Peola Vital Hands tube has so many text that you can also use it for improving some languages too. 
If the exterior aspect doesn't impress - at all - in exchange, the quality of the products is on the other end of the scale. The cream - suitable both for men and women - has instant effects on my very tired and over exposed to water hands. It almost creates dependence, so I am already worried what will happen when I will be out of it. The main ingredient used - peat, produced through natural processes taking place in the soil, is antimicrobial, astringent, prevents itching and detoxes the skin. It also has a pleasant smell, very natural like which is absorbed by the skin. The lip balm also works well, particularly on dry lips during the winter but compared to the hand cream, is replaceable, as I remain a faithful user of wax bee-based balm.
With my hand cream almost finished, and some winter months ahead left, maybe it is about time to consider a visit to Marienbad. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top fragrances for this season

It is a new year, the chance for starting anew and keeping up tighter your resolutions. If you are looking to make a dramatic change of style or just curious to try something new, in the last days of 2016 I worked hard to bring you my latest recommendations for special fragrances a modern woman should consider seriously at least twice.
Launched in 2013, Bright Crystal Absolu by Versace leaves a strong impression, with its exquisite and eclectic combination of woody, cistrus, yuzu, pomegranate, peony and magnolia, to mention only few of the essences brought together. For me it was a bit sweet, but it has the advantage of matching easily each moment of the day and almost every occasion, from a first date to a casual restaurant outing.
With a base of white musk and cedar, the newest version of the legendary Chanel no. 5 - L'Eau was launched at the end of 2016. I instantly fall in love with it, for its gentle variation of fragrances - among which citrus, woody, white floral - which keeps in line with the elegant original version. It demonstrates that you can still be creative with top brands, as long as you respect the main frame. Something to wear for life. 
The First Fragrance by Miu Miu is exquisite not only for the fragrance, but also for the story of making off this perfume, with more than thousands of tries and the creation of a special ingredient - akigalawood - based on patchouli. I usually, don't like patchouli, but in this case, it was added to the main lily of the valley fragrance. It suits a dynamic and complex woman - like you, and me...
Be Tempted by DKNY is a matter of choice. And special style. The combination between patchouli and vanilla can be a bit too extravagant or too sweet to suit everyone, but actually, it has some spicy accents too. In any case, it is the choice of a woman with a strong personality, self-aware of who she is and not keen to be what other people want her to be.
Unfortunately, I don't pay too often attention to Lacoste fragrances. Pour Femme I've discovered completely randomly and what I've smelled made my ashamed for my ignorance. It is elegant and friendly and special, not necessarily the usual sporty feeling I was expecting - again, ignorance is bliss. It has a spicy impression, with balsamic notes, to which add Bulgarian roses and hibiscus. It creates an impression of comfort and easiness while keeping up a particular individuality. 

What about you, what are your top fragrances for this season?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Interview with Fashion Influencer Calynn M. Lawrence

Calynn Lawrence is a 21 year old TV Host and Published Fashion/Beauty/Entertainment Writer with over 6 years of industry experience. Her newly published ebook "Memoirs of a Fashion Industry Fighter" has already moved hundreds of copies in just a few weeks! She is also the Founder of the Fresh Faces Project which is a non profit campaign that focuses on giving young talent in the fashion and artistic industry free exposure on her website and her social media. She currently has a collective following of about 35 thousand across the board and her list of partnered businesses is quite extensive ranging from all walks of the creative industry.

- Fashion industry is often associated with glamour and media exposure! What is your perspective?
I feel that the fashion industry certainly has its bits of glamour and papparazzi. However, I believe that sometimes onlookers only see a certain visual that is put before them without knowing the grind work behind it. For example, much of my job now is spent on the red carpet, going to events as VIP Media. Thus, it is often that the VIP's will be treated quite well with front row seats at Fashion Week, free food and drinks, care gifts from the designers etc.
But, I still have not forgotten what it's like to be on the other side working tirelessly recruiting people, dressing models, scouring to find the other shoe that Model Ryan lost etc because that's how I began. And, I still do this for friends who may need some help with their shows now and then. I go into depth about this in my book, especially in my interning days.
I think that is why so many people don't take me seriously as a businesswoman because they feel like I am no more than a nuance socialite, when in fact I work harder than many of them may know.
- What are the main skills required for a successful career in fashion?
I feel that there are a couple of skills that prove to be rudimentary to being successful in fashion. One of them is the fact that you must be very diligent. Because it is such a competitive industry, you need to have immense drive in order to reach your goals. Also, I believe that having an artistic side is fundamental because fashion is an art. Unless you have creative nature then I feel like your ability to truly delve into fashion is negated. Lastly, you need to be studious and willing to learn. It is salient for you to know the history, present and future of all things fashion.
- What would be your advice for a young girl interested in a career in fashion? Good looking is enough?
No. Good looks are certainly not enough if you are trying to really get somewhere in your career. Even with modeling, many of them are beautiful but they endure such heavy training and long rehearsals, photo shoots, speaking engagements etc. Their hours tend to be very long. Plus, it rewires them to practically kill themselves in the gym and eating extremely healthy to stay at the smallest measurements.That is why they need to have a rooted passion for what they do because honestly modeling is a lot less glitzy than most imagine.
My advice for a young girl interested in pursuing a fashion career is to start as young as possible. If you know that you want to work in fashion as a young teen, start looking into classes or internships that you could take in the fashion industry. This will give you hands on experience to narrow the scope of what it is that you want to pursue in fashion. Quite frankly, I feel that if I had not started as a Nordstrom Intern at 15 that I would not be anywhere near where I am now.
- What does fashion mean to you?
"Fashion" to me means a myriad of things. I thing "fashion" is the collective embodiment of many aspects of life. Just to name a few. Fashion is art in psychology because of the crafty garment construction and strategic use of colors and patterns to evoke emotion, style and set demeanor. Fashion is trend in the fact that it is ever-changing based upon the wants of the consumer. Fashion is a shining beacon of zeal for some who make it their lives. Fashion is a melting pot for so many different things that I find it hard to denominate into a singular definition.
- What are your lessons learned from a career in fashion?
There are so many lessons that I have learned while working in fashion and I'm not even going to give too much depth. All I will say is that each one has to be ready for many humbling experiences, disappointments and failures in their stride to a prosperous career. That's not to sound defeatist in the sense that everyone is bound to fall flat. But, it is meant to prepare you to look at failures as a learning curve and a strengthening encounter as opposed to an automatic sign that you aren't fit for the industry.
- What are your professional plans for 2017?
I have very many plans. I will be going to NYFW at Gotham Hall with The Society, I have been nominated for a Chicago Oscar (hopefully I'll win), I plan on really amplifying the fresh Faces Project etc. I am going to be a powerhouse this year and I can't wait to make it happen. :)
Photos: Personal archive of Calynn M. Lawrene

Friday, January 13, 2017

Broccoli cream soup for the winter days

I am not a big fan of soups, but I am trying to be a better cook and healthier mom so, I decided to make a change this season. Especially with another 2 months - at least - of cold ahead, I am curious to change the usual lunch routine and prepare at least one healthy soup the week. As a start, I tried to make from scratch a broccoli cream soup.
I used a medium broccoli, which I carefully cleaned several times, under hot water. I added:
3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of black pepper
1 pinch of zaatar
4 tablespoon butter
150 ml. cold skim milk
I put the broccoli in the blender, together with the milk and blended for around 2 minutes at high speed. I added in a pan the rest of the ingredients and warm it while carefully mixing at 250C. It is very important to mix often and slowly, in order to mix all the ingredients. Bring it to boil and serve it warm.
The preparation time is around 15 minutes. Most of the time I spent cleaning obsessively the broccoli. It serves 3. The cream soup has a good silky texture, but I realized that maybe it was too milky so maybe the next time I will skip the butter part. 
Bon Appetit! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

You can have your tea, and your cake too

I am slowly learning how to understand and appreciate various teas, and hopefully, in the next posts I will advance my knowledge, step-by-step. At the end of 2016, I extensively tried two specific sorts by Messmer tea, a traditional German brand that I had the chance to review in 2016. This time, I tried two of their four flavors launched for the holiday season: Strawberry Cheesecake and the staple of German-speaking lands cuisine: Apfelstrudel. Other flavors from the collection are Cherry Brownies and Raspberry Cake. Sounds tempting, isn't it?
At first, I was a bit skeptical. Why should I drink a tea with cake taste, when, instead, I can prepare a cake and, eventually, prepare a lemonade to match with. But sometimes, even I can be out of time, so fixing my sweet tooth in less than 10 minutes is a very easy solution. Plus, you don't have to mind at all the calories - although in both cases, there is sweetness involved, as stevia. For the preparation of each tea, you should wait around 5-8 minutes until the tea is ready.
The Strawberry Cheesecake has strawberry flavor and includes a combination of hibiscus, apple, orange skin. An eclectic combination which goes well, except that I did not fully enjoy the strong hibiscus taste, which has its role to balance too much sweetness from the fruits and the stevia. Instead, the Apfelstrudel went flawless for my palate, because it goes on a relatively common taste denominator: apple, orange skin. It almost convinced me that I have in the front of me a big slice of strudel, which was quite a challenging dream as I am trying hard to prepare my own and only exquisite pastry, but without too much success yet.
In both cases, it is a special tea experience, recommended to busy people that want to spice up their busy afternoons with a taste of authentic cuisine. It makes you love tea and cakes and appreciate all the special moments in life. A strongly recommended choice.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Body Shop full treatment set with Karite Butter

The holidays season is always a reason to celebrate and to receive and give beautiful presents. It is an occasion to show yourself and the others how much you cherish and appreciate their presence into your life. Sometimes it is hard to find the right present, or it is just not enough, therefore, the Body Shop present gifts are always a good solution, because, especially for people so careful with their body and skin care, you can have a full range of products that make your pampering almost complete.
Someone who knows me and loves me brought me a very inspired package: the full range of Karite Butter products: from soap to body scrubbing, shower gel and cream, plus a jolly yellowish sponge. The box looks elegant, in colours matching the products and that you can later use for organising either your cosmetics or your love letters - or whatever letters you want to organise.
The products themselves are very efficient and after intensively using them for a couple of days, I may say I am very happy with them. The skin is not only smooth and getting a mild discrete natural scent, but it is more hydrated, a treatment so much needed regardless the season, but particularly in the winter when the skin is over covered by clothes and cannot breath properly. This happens because Karite Butter is a superior moisturizer, that also is attributed various healing properties. One more reason to use intensively those products this season and to make myself feel better and better in my skin every day!

What about you, what are your favourite Body Shop products of the season?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Foodie adventures: Matcha marble cake

If you are following my blog for enough time, or my Twitter - I am @boiledwords there too - you may be familiar with my big love for matcha. If you know me in real life, this fact is part of my unauthorized biography. I got this healthy habit after spending one full year in Japan, when I fell in love with the many cakes and cookies and icecream and latte. And this is not only because I really love the vivid green colour, but for the special taste, a little addictive for me.
Last December, I decided to go a bit further with my love, meaning to start preparing my own matcha-based recipes. As in many other cases, I didn't realize until I tasted the final product how easy it is in fact to turn your matcha dreams into reality, without waiting for hours until the closest Japanese deli opens for a bit of green tea cake.
Naming this new baking installment was a bit difficult, but after inappropriately calling it brownie, I realized that I actually used the recipe for marble cake, only using intensively matcha instead of the classical cocoa.  
The ingredients used are, as follows:
3 cups white flouer
15 gr. backpowder
1/4 cup white sugar
2 big eggs
1 pinch of salt
1 full teaspoon matcha dissolved in 250 warm water
Heat the oven at 250C
Mix all the ingredients well, until you have a compact paste. Add more water - or 1/2 cup milk of you feel like the flour is too persistent.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake the cake at 200 C for around 45 minutes. Let it rest for another 30 minutes.
Your cake is ready to be tested. You can have it with a cup of - green tea - or with some warm milk. I particularly loved that it is not very sweet, almost the same taste like my beloved Japanese green tea cookies. 
It is easy to prepare and, except the matcha which might be expensive, doesn't require a top-end investment - calculating for Germany, maximum 5 EUR. 
This matcha marble cake will soon become a food staple in my house!
Stay tuned for more delicious matcha recipes soon! 

Monday, January 2, 2017

The little black dress from Ralph Lauren

If there is one single black dress to have in your closet, this beautiful silk with gold embroideries from Ralph Lauren is the one and only. Stylish, elegant, easy to match with a modest outfit, and with either an elegant black or gold pair of shoes, with or without high heels. A clutch goes very well with it, also either gold or black. As for the jewelery and make-up, I see it as simply minimalistic, with dramatic mascara and some elegant gold earrings. 
The cut in itself is simple and easy, maybe if you have some experience in making your own clothes you think you can do it too. At a closer look though, it is a whole art to create a balance between the simplicity of the material and the heavy embroideries. The baste is very fine and was done to create a good effect of the material on the body. The embroideries are impressive, simple yet very distinguished. The gold thread is special, not strident or shining for the sake of shining. It is the contrast of the black silk, in a game of alternating between jour and contre-jour. 
The dress was on sales for around 300 EUR., was available at the KaDeWe store in Berlin, shortly before the holidays. However, as an inspired woman, you can wear this outfit all round the year, with elegance and style. As the creative modern woman you are!