Making my own perfume

I made my own perfume! Last weekend I’ve been to London to a blogger event organized by LightsbyTENA. I went to London by train, as it’s so much faster than driving and it was a great idea, as there were Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square and roads were closed. I will share a couple of imagines from London in another post.

01 Making my own perfume

I arrived at Haymarket Hotel with only a couple of seconds to spare. The event started with a glass of Champagne, talking with bloggers I already know and follow and I also got to meet new bloggers too, like Hannah, Natalie, Jessica, Toni and Laura. We had some nibbles and more chat.

02 Making my own perfume

We had a presentation of the products and talked about a subject that is not talked about a lot, despite the fact that 1 in 3 women in the UK will experience this, at some point in their lives. LightsbyTENA are trying to raise awareness for women between 30 and 45, pregnant women and new mums, where 1 in 10 will experience light bladder weakness. They received 2 awards last year and the products have had big changes in 2016. One of the changes is that was introduced the feel fresh technology.

LightsbyTENA have decided that the best way to make women who are experiencing this to try the products is to offer money back guarantee, so this is how the Feel Fresh or it’s Free campaign has started. If anyone who tries the product is not happy, they can claim their money back online. It’s quite easy and the offer is available until 30th June this year. So, if you think you might need one of their products, do try, it’s risk free. The prices start at £1.99 per pack.

We were told about my PFF app, that is free. Having pelvic floor exercises will help with light bladder weakness. I think a reminder is great and I, for one, always forget to do them.

I think we should be able to talk openly about this, if it’s something we want to do. There is a stigma around some health problems and it shouldn’t be like this. Light bladder weakness is more common than hayfever, but most people have no issues discussing the latter while avoiding the former.

03 Making my own perfume

Black coffee and a strawberry coated in dark chocolate, a real delight.

04 Making my own perfume

After that, we had a short break while the perfume masterclass was set up. I got the chance to look again at that beautiful swimming pool and chat a little more.

05 Making my own perfume

The perfume masterclass was held by Emmanuelle from Experimental Perfume Club. She was lovely and she told us a lot about perfumes, how they are made and why. We got to sniff 15 raw materials without knowing what they are. It was really interesting.

06 Making my own perfume

One of the things I found most intriguing was that I don’t like the leather smell at all. I’ve been vegetarian for 9 years and, in time, I started rejecting the smell of meat. It was fascinating to see that the smell of leather was something I’ve rejected too without even knowing what it is.

07 Making my own perfume

After we sniffed all these raw materials, we had to chose the ones we want to incorporate in our perfume. I picked 8, the minimum amount of materials. If there aren’t enough, the perfume will smell like a raw material and not a complex perfume. I picked one top note, 5 heart notes and 2 for base. As I wanted a more intense perfume, my percentages were a little different from the ones used in general. I calculated how much I should use from each raw material. After consulting with Emmanuelle, I’ve adjusted the grams and I’ve started making the perfume.

08 Making my own perfume

When I finished, I tried the perfume and I loved it. After waiting for 5 minutes, I thought that it might be heavy. So, I’ve adjusted the perfume as Emmanuelle said. Well, it turned out that I loved the first version. So I had to do 2 more adjustments to get back to that smell, hence the: 1st version, final, FINAL and very final smelling strips.
We also had to chose a name for our perfume and I come up with “Just ME”, because I loved it. The great part is that I can order my perfume from them when I finish the bottle I have.

Chinese New Year, Liverpool

In the last year Chinese New Year was celebrated when I was away with work and this meant I wasn’t able to attend the celebrations. This year I found that the majority of the celebrations in Liverpool will be today, when I’m in London. Well, that is actually funny and my reason to go to London is exciting, I couldn’t be happier.
If you want to attend the celebrations in Liverpool, have a look on Culture Liverpool’s website.

We went on Friday on Bold Street to see the Chinese New Year Lanterns and the Jingwei & the Ocean Projections at Black-E and the Arch in Chinatown.

01 Chinese New Year, Liverpool

The story projected is of the emperor’s daughter who died at sea, was transformed into a bird and filled the ocean with twigs and stones so that no-one else would die like she did. The story was of the first Chinese settlers that made Liverpool their home and developed a beautiful community.

02 Chinese New Year, Liverpool

There is music too and the projections are nicely made.

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Why I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day

I’m not sure if the title “Why I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day” is the best one, as I’m celebrating with my husband, obviously, so I should have included him in my title too. He has the same reasons as I; basically, it’s fun, there is chocolate and/or cake, a special meal and cards.
Last year in late January and early February I had a couple of discussions with friends about Valentine’s Day. Some said it’s a commercial day, all about buying, other said that it should be: “Valentine’s Day EVERYDAY”. Well, I can’t disagree more with both points. There are cards and gifts for everything, from V day to Christmas, moving to a new house, Halloween and so on. I don’t see why is that a bad thing. Every relationship is different, we rarely buy things for each other for anniversaries or Valentine’s Day, that is what works for us.
The second point, of “Valentine’s Day EVERYDAY” adds so much pressure on a relationship. I can’t expect my husband to bring me flowers every single day for the rest of our lives, we can’t have pink/red cakes and drinks/cocktails every single day and we do disagree sometimes. On top of that, we are busy with work and life, without having to build a house extension for all those flowers and working out a couple of hours each day to burn all those extra calories from the cake.

Why I'm celebrating Valentine's Day
I hope you, my reader, are impressed with the stained glass biscuits I made, recipe will follow on CookStyle, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

1. Special moments. I strongly believe that a happy marriage (relationship) needs special moments. This is, in my mind, the reason to celebrate anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. I mentioned anniversaries because we do have a lot of those: the day we’ve met, our first date, our 1st wedding, our 2nd wedding (2 months after the 1st one), the day we moved in together. We also celebrate the day we took Festus, our dog. I know when it’s 4th of February that is the day we moved in together, I can’t just ignore that, even if we are away with work, we can do something a little bit special.
We’ve been a couple for 14 years, we moved houses, countries, changed a few jobs, got pets, we’ve renovated both homes we bought. Anniversaries and Valentine’s Day too bring back happy memories from years ago and we also make new memories for years to come.
One time, for Valentine’s Day, I talked with a friend of ours. He said he is not celebrating V day because he doesn’t seem to find a reason to do so. I told him only one thing, that his girlfriend might actually like celebrating it. He and I made reservations at a restaurant in the countryside and all four of us went there for dinner. The restaurant wasn’t busy as it is far from the city, it had some heart confetti on the table and a chocolate heart. Next day, our friend told me it was a fab idea, his girlfriend was happy and it was a lovely evening.

2. Cards. I love cards. I spend a lot of time looking in shops to find the perfect one and it’s a thing I like to do. All the cards I receive in an year are going in a drawer and, after Christmas, I put them in a zip bag and they go on top of the cards from the last years. I’m not sure what happened with the cards I had before, they might be in a box in my in-laws’ loft.

3. Food, food, food. Another reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day is the food. I love preparing special meals or going to new restaurants. My husband isn’t as excited about special dinners because, if I cook, we might not even know how an ingredient or two are called. I do that, I get strange things to cook and, most of the time, I love them. Of course, we also have dessert, cake or cheesecake in a jar type of dessert, maybe biscuits and chocolate… maybe more than 1 dessert.
For Valentine’s Day we usually stay at home. I love cooking and we might prepare the meal together, as my husband is a great cook too. The only downside is that he is more traditional when it comes to food; he likes to know the names of both dishes and ingredients. Cooking together is part of the fun for us.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

The 1930s at Sudley House

Last week I went to see a special exhibition The 1930s at Sudley House. The exhibition is called Putting on the Glitz and that is an appropriate term, as the clothes look stunning and the whole period was about glitz. The 1930s marked a period of recession after the Wall Street Stock Market Crashed. It wasn’t all about Depression, as many people were starting to have more money and home ownership increased. Cinema tickets were cheap and most people went to see a film two or three times a week. Unlike the 1920s (see my post from the London exhibition about that period) when clothes looked boyish, now the dresses are more feminine.

Most of the dresses from the collection displayed at the Sudley House belonged to Emily Tinne. She was a teacher before marring a wealthy doctor in 1910. Her collection is amazing, with over 700 items, some unworn.
She was born in India in a Presbyterian family, her father was a missionary. She was raised in a frugal way until she moved to UK, at 7. She lived in Kent or Scotland with extended family. After finishing school, she moved with an uncle in Liverpool and here she married Philip Frederick Tinne, a GP from a wealthy family. They had 8 children together and 6 of them survived. As their family was getting big, they moved to a big house. They had a few servants, the boys went to Eton and the girls to local schools.
Emily Tinne’s daughter, Alexine, donated the clothes to the National Museum Liverpool. Her daughter, idea agreed upon by the curator of the exhibition, said Emily was buying expensive items so the shop assistants could gain their commission. After the WWII, she changed to a “make do and mend” attitude and she kept this until her death.

01 The 1930s at Sudley House

This evening dress was my favourite. It was made by Callot Soeurs, a French company based in Paris from 1936. This dress was owned by Elizabeth van Swinderen.

02 The 1930s at Sudley House

The first dress, with the flower pattern is made in France, Silk Brocade, in 1934. The purple dress is about 1932 – 1935, a bias-cut dress.

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ASDA Wonky Veg Box

After trying unsuccessfully last time it was in shops, now I managed to get my first ASDA Wonky Veg Box. They sold out in a few hours, so it’s not an easy thing to get your hands on. I wanted to get this box because I want to support the local farmers, I believe that local, in season, fresh produce is better and, of course, it’s great value for money at only £3.50 for more than 5kg of veggies. It is at least 30% cheaper than buying the same vegetables from the standard range.

01 ASDA Wonky Veg Box

If you don’t know, thousands and thousands of vegetables, perfectly good to eat, are thrown away each day because they are wonky. It’s nothing wrong with them, beside their look. The rejected veggies, that the farmers worked hard to produce, might end up on the field as fertilizer. I think that is absurd. Wonky veg, among straight and “pretty” veg, look natural and are just as tasty.
ASDA started this program as a pilot, last year and it proved very popular. As I said earlier, it was sold out when I tried to buy it last year. As my husband and I arrived early in the shop, the boxes were still in the warehouse and someone got this for us. I imagine the rest sold out in a few hours. The cashier commented on the box, that it’s a funny idea and the price is so good.

02 ASDA Wonky Veg Box

On the box it says what vegetables are inside and there is a great selection, as you can see.

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The Design Museum

This week my husband and I went to London for the day, mainly with work. After finishing what we had planned, we went to see The Design Museum. As we arrived at the museum late, at 4.30 pm, it wasn’t enough time to see the two special exhibitions, so we saw only half of the museum.

01 Design Museum London

02 Design Museum London

At the first floor there are pictures taken during the building of the new Design Museum in Kensington last year. It is a really interesting display.

03 Design Museum London

Designer Maker User hosts an array of almost 1000 items from the 20th and 21st centuries. I saw some fascinating objects and I’ll talk about some of them today.

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Special cake at Patisserie Valerie

Imagine my delight when I was asked to sample the new, special edition cake at Patisserie Valerie. The cake is called Madame Valerie Gateau and it has a chocolate sponge and caramel cream with bits of honeycomb; how could I have said no to this? Especially after I mentioned that Why I’m Never going to say No to Cake. That being said, yesterday I was on my way to Patisserie Valerie at Metquarter, Liverpool. I finally met Sophie from sophiesvoice and it was lovely. We talked about a blogger meet-up or just going together for coffee.

Patisserie Valerie

What can I say about the cake? Well, it’s delicious! I don’t like overly sweet desserts and this cake has exactly the right amount of sweetness. The flavours come through and the addition of the bits of honeycomb are fab. This is the slice version, a little different from the gateaux. The gateaux has White Chocolate and Salted Caramel Truffles, while the slice version has choux filled with caramel cream.

Patisserie Valerie

On arrival at Patisserie Valerie, I spotted these delicious looking tarts, all ready for us to try. I had a small piece of a raspberry tart and it was so good. The fruits were so fresh and the custard was perfect.

I had a chat with the Head of Marketing and Content and I was surprised to hear that all the cakes and desserts are made by hand in one of their 7 bakeries. When it comes to chains, I must admit that I think they might use machines, so it was so nice to hear they don’t and that everything they bake is made by hand. I’m a big supporter of handmade, local and fresh food, so I’ll make sure I’m stopping at Patisserie Valerie more often in the future. My husband said he wants to try the cake and we should hurry as this special cake is a limited edition and it will be available only by the end of April.

The cake also has a lovely story behind it, as it was the winner of a competition organized by them. After tasting the cake they said it should be sold in the patisseries. I think it was a great idea.

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