A move towards cleaner beauty…

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Many of us may be familiar with checking food labels for nasties but how often do we check our beauty products?

So I’m super excited to be taking part, alongside other bloggers… in a campaign to spread the word on cleaner beauty – ‘Spring cleaning your beauty routine’!

The campaign focuses on increasing awareness around – ‘what’s really in your beauty products’, and to encourage you to detox your bathroom shelves, swapping these for cleaner cosmetics.

Over the recent years no doubt there has been a shift and increasing emphasis to adapting a cleaner beauty routine, which not only benefits our health but the environment.  We are starting to realise the negative impact chemicals are having both on our skin and the damage to the planet, especially those of micro beads.

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Cleaner Beauty – some facts

So what is cleaner beauty?’ – you may ask and what really is the impact, not only on our skin but also the planet.  These are all issues we probably don’t think about when we buy our favourite skincare products, with brands lurking us in with glossy advertising!

Research has shown that on average we apply twelve different cosmetics daily without even taking time to stop and think the whole host of different synthetic ingredients, lurking in our morning skincare routine.  After all our skin is the largest organ in our body and 60% of what we apply is absorbed into our bodies.

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What does clean beauty mean to me?

Being a therapist, wellbeing is something very close to my heart.  Therefore, trying to minimising the  amount of chemicals I use on my skin is important to me.
I personally feel cleaner beauty isn’t just about taking steps to reduce chemicals from my skincare routine but taking a holistic approach to beauty and wellbeing – whereby everything is connected and the effect it is having on the planet.

We all know making small changes in life really makes a difference!

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My steps towards cleaner beauty

  • Detoxing my skincare regime is something I’ve become increasingly passionate about, which is a journey of discovery to enjoy and not letting it take over – it’s about finding a balance!
  • My personal approach is, ‘less is more’ – we don’t need a bathroom full of synthetic ingredients but fewer carefully chosen products , which work as multitaskers!  I use Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash, especially when my skin is particularly sensitive and stressed. It’s so gentle and calming.
    Another multitasker is – Skin Food which has a cult following and best described as – ‘magic in a green tube’!!  I use it for all areas of my body and absolutely love it as a face mask!
  • By no means can we go from one day using lots of chemicals to the following day chemical-free – it’s about making small changes.  Maybe begin by replacing one of your everyday essentials eg. swapping your conventional deodorant to a natural/organic deodorant and see how you fair.
  • Start reading labels (yes it can be very daunting and many I can’t even pronounce!) and familiarise yourself with some commonly used ingredients and looking out for a natural or organic certification logos – such as NATRUE  which are on all Weleda products and the COSMOS logo. There is also an App called SkinNinja which is worth having a look at.
  • It’s a gradual process, making small changes and perhaps deciding which chemicals you may wish to eliminate from your beauty routine. It may be SLS/SLES, known as foaming agents, commonly found in body washes – which have a very drying effect on the skin, stripping it of good skin bacteria and it’s natural protection.
    You know that feeing after you’ve showered – ‘skin feels itchy, dry and crying out for some moisture’!
  • Being a therapist I tend to wash my hands very frequently, so foaming agents is one I’ve chosen to try and avoid. Otherwise my hands become sore, dry and cracked.

Once you begin to make changes to your routine you will be amazed at how much healthier and happier you skin feels…

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Weleda 3 drawer Gift Set

So what are my favourite Weleda products?

Weleda are not only 100% certified natural but operate sustainably and ethically, which is very important for me when choosing a brand.  Their focus is on supporting the health and wellbeing of the customer – adopting a holistic approach.

Weleda have kindly gifted me this beautiful 3 drawer set – consisting of body washes, body lotions and body oils, which I’m absolutely loving!  This would make an amazing gift and perfect sizes for travelling – which all come in full sizes!  A perfect way to discover your favourites!

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Weleda 3 Drawer Gift Set

I’m a huge Weleda fan so it’s quite difficult to narrow down my favourites from the set.  However, I really love their body oils which I will change as I move through the seasons and my mood.  As a massage therapist Arnica oil is a must for everyone – it works wonders for those achy muscles!  It’s still Spring time so I love using the Sea Buckthorn but I must say there is something about Rose… especially moving into Summer!

My other current Weleda favourites – Gentle Cleansing Foam, Skin Food, Almond Face Cream, Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash and Rose Lip Balm – the list could go on!!

Other companies which I love to use are Trilogy, Moa, and Neals Yard Remedies. As an Aromatherapist I also love experimenting with various blends using my essential oils! Fragrance just makes me happy!

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  • I would love to hear if you are keen to find out more?  
  • What products you are currently using?  
  • Whether you find it very confusing how beauty/cosmetic companies package their products?  
  • Maybe you are struggling with a current skin condition, such as acne or eczema and fed up with harsh chemicals on your skin.

Then I would love you to get involved and to discover your thoughts on a move towards cleaner beauty – not just for your skin but also the environment!

Finally, please feel free to share this with all your friends – spreading the word of #cleaner beauty!  You can also find at more on my social media accounts – my blog Facebook and Instagram and my business at Harmonizing Therapies – Facebook and Instagram. Enjoy!

Mairead x

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In the kitchen… Roasted Brussels Sprouts with lentils

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Spring has reluctantly showed it’s face but the temperature is still cold out there and I’m in need of some comfort in the form of food!  So it’s time to delve into my fridge and store cupboard and see what I can rustle up!

I love nothing more than experimenting with various flavour combinations and especially being a vegetarian I enjoy discovering and trying out new flavours!  I’m definitely my happiest when in the kitchen…

On this occasion this was just a quick and easy dish, using up whatever vegetables I had left in the fridge –  Roasted Brussel sprouts with lentils.  Which by the way is my favourite way to cook! I think this is when you create the most exciting dishes! – just swap the type of vegetables to roast.

So on the subject of Brussel sprouts I think it is a love hate relationship. I’m firmly on the the love camp.  The trouble is it’s all in the cooking – for some reason they are boiled to mush and this memory has never left many!

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However, things have changed and moved forward over the years.  When I first became a vegetarian in my teens, vegetables were viewed as a side to complement the main affair and not seen as the hero!  Today, things are much more exciting -. with vegetables taking central stage,  offering an array of taste, textures and exciting flavour combinations, with many chefs elevating them to new heights; like works of art!

Also with a huge shift towards plant-based diets and many meat eaters choosing veggie options on a weekly basis, the variety of vegetarian dishes is endless – Finally vegetables are becoming the star and receiving the respect they deserve!

So, if you don’t necessarily like sprouts, then try roasting them and I think you will be converted!

Roasted Brussel sprouts with lentils (Serves 2)

10-12 Brussel sprouts
1 tin/carton Organic brown lentils
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4-5 sun-dried tomato, finely chopped
½ tsp of herbes de provence
½ packet of parsley, roughly chopped

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Method

Sauté the finely chopped onion and celery in rapeseed oil for 20 minutes.  Then add the garlic and dried herbs, cooking for a further 5-10 mins.  It is important taking time to cook the onion as this brings out the sweetness and the basis for any dish.

While the onion mixture is cooking turn the oven on to 150°c – 170°c and place a roasting tin in oven, with rapeseed oil.  Wash the sprouts, cut in half and par-boil for 1 minute, drain and place in the oven to roast for approximately 20 minutes.  Check after 10 minutes and turn over so both sides get roasted!

When the onions are cooked, add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped parsley, the lentils; for speed I use a carton or tin, however if time prevails you can use dried – the choice is yours! Stir to combine and season to taste.

Check the Brussels sprouts are roasted to your liking and serve on top of the lentils with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and final flourish of parsley and enjoy!

Have fun trying out this recipe and I would love to hear whether you love to eat sprouts and what are your favourite ways to eat them.

Mairead x

 

Weleda… at London Fashion Week(LFW) – Paula Knorr Spring/Summer ’18

Clean beauty… “The Weleda Way.”

So London Fashion Week is done and dusted for this season and once again Weleda was delighted to be sponsoring London-based fashion designer Paula Knorr who revealed her Autumn/Winter collection on 19 February 2018.  Paula’s presentation took place in the main British Fashion Council show space at 4.30pm.

Paula Knorr was born near Frankfurt in Germany where Weleda is a household name. Herself a vegan, Paula is a long-term fan of the Weleda range: “I grew up in Germany and both my mum and my grandma used Weleda products.  Weleda, with the brand’s holistic and natural approach to beauty, is the perfect partner to my idea of individual and unique beauty.”

Backstage, make-up designer Martina Lattanzi and her team will be working exclusively with Weleda skincare to prep 18 models of all ages, youngsters in their early 20s as well as models in their 50s and beyond, for an ageless and individual make-up look.

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MARTINA: “My make-up inspiration for this collection comes from the word UNIQUE. I will be creating an exclusive beauty look for each model, tailored to their individual personality, age and self-expression.  Make-up that brings out an idea of beauty that belongs to different ages.  My inspiration was found in iconic women from the 90s: Jennifer Connelly, Tatjana Patitz, Charlize Theron, Kate Moss … all different to each other but connected to an idea of timeless beauty.  An iconic make-up re-designed with a modern twist.”

“I am pleased that for the third season Weleda will be sponsoring the make-up team. Weleda has been the perfect partner, helping me to create a beautiful and conscious make-up look.  I found in Weleda the ideal blend of natural ingredients to create a flawless and radiant complexion.  Skincare is always the first step to create a beauty look, and for this season we will be using Weleda’s Evening Primrose products.  This versatile range works perfectly on mature and younger skins, an exceptional range that boosts and revitalises sensitive skin.”

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“I am very excited to be introducing the beautiful Evening Primrose Concentrate into the skin-prep this season – this serum is a skincare must-have to add in to your beauty regime, especially in the coldest months of the year.  After freshening the face with the One-Step Cleanser & Toner, I gently massage the serum into the skin followed by a little Evening Primrose Revitalising Day Cream made with organic evening primrose oil.  I’ll be working with Weleda’s new mineral pigment Beauty Balms rather than foundation – these are the lightest of products that even out minor blemishes but the skin remains luminous, letting the model’s individuality shine through.”

“To add an extra dewy and bright finish, I am going to use one of my favourite and signature products for this look … Weleda Skin Food … a multi-tasker that can be used as a face mask, moisturiser and highlighter.  Backstage I normally use it as a natural highlighter to illuminate cheekbones, eyelids and brows to enhance the features that make a woman unique, and to create a shimmer that echoes the metallics in Paula’s collection.”

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“This season Paula Knorr’s guests can explore a 3D sensory experience, combining Paula’s designs to delight the eyes, live music, plus fragrant skincare ingredients and soft natural perfume in the air.  In the final line-up, I will be using Weleda’s Jardin De Vie ‘Onagre’ fragrance, an mix of floral notes of Magnolia, Cardamom and Sandalwood – an elegant scent for a sensual and timeless evening look.”

If you want to take part in the clean beauty revolution and discover why Weleda products have such a cult following among celebrities, models and makeup artists, such as; Victoria Beckham, Alexa Chung, Adele to name a few … then click to find out more!

Mairead x

Selfcare for the year ahead… & finding inner strength!

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We are already into the fourth week of January…. how did that happen so quickly!!  Whilst many find January a long dark month – I embrace this opportunity to adopt a slower peace of life, enjoying the peace, calm effect it brings… a time for simple pleasures.

Yes my first first week was a busy one, getting back to work and catching up with friends and family but I I’ve also made time to enjoy the simple things and taking things slow… no strict restrictions!

As with a New Year we all begin with great intentions and enthusiasm and all to often we can’t follow what we intended to do – setting unrealistic goals, therefore putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves.  This is the reason why I never make New Year resolutions but instead make a mental note or write a letter to myself to be kind and take care of my mind, body, and overall wellbeing.  Yes, I  like to set myself challenges  to achieve personally and for my business – for the year ahead, but attainable ones!!

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Some of favourite Crystals… helping to calm and rebalance the emotions

Therefore, enriching my life rather than taking something away or punishing myself.  As I’ve got older I’ve learnt to listen to my body when in need and to stop and take things slow.  I guess this means time out to re-think and gather my thoughts and find some calmness… I am a wellbeing therapist after all!!

Reflecting back on the past year, no doubt it has been very challenging but exciting – both on a personal and business level.  A lot of my time and effort has been focusing on my therapy business and becoming a wellbeing advisor for Weleda.  I must say I have surprised myself of the strength I have within… achieving things I never thought I was capable of – however big or small.  It’s amazing what you can do when your totally pushed out of your comfort zone!

 

Often life throws challenging obstacles and this can block the flow of creativity or putting too much pressure on ourselves to perform rather than pursuing what we truly love and inspires us.  Therefore I’ve spent less time working on my blog over the past few months – which I’ve really missed but we can only spread ourselves so thin until our wellbeing suffers…

So I’m really excited to be back and spend a lot more time in this little space of mine and looking forward to the year ahead!  I plan to explore other current interesting and informative topics; taking more time to tap into my creative side; sharing my real passion of food, interiors, all things floral/botanical and styling; and of course my true love of wellbeing and clean beauty – all along the way!

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Taking time to pursue my creative side is what truly inspires me… enhancing my work life balance

On a lasting note may the year ahead be whatever you decide to pursue… so long as it makes you smile!

I would love to hear your thoughts – when things get difficult how do you find your calm space and what works best for you?  If you would like me to cover particular subjects within my blog, then I welcome all constructive feedback.   Look forward to any ideas!

Mairead x

A little instagram eye candy… squares of 2017

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Some of my favourite little squares over 2017… which just happen to be mostly floral and green with a touch of grown up pink… my motto for 2018!

I would like to thank you for all your kindness, encouraging comments and those of you which follow me on instagram  and my little blog.  This inspires me to keep blogging and filling lots more squares!!

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Yes, there have been quiet periods and many challenges over the year and sometimes other things take priority.  However, with a New Year is great enthusiasm and a fresh start… So Happy New Year my dear friends and may 2018 be full of joyful and happy moments!

Mairead x

In the kitchen… with Chocolate & Beetroot Seed Cake

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Hurray it’s Autumn and Chocolate Week – two of my many favourite things!

As the days get shorter and we move into Autumn nothing makes me feel happier than baking a cake… it gives me than warm cosy feeling.  I love to bake and always find I am experimenting with recipes and flavour combinations, some which work brilliantly and others not so successful!

With a seasonal shift to Autumn we tend to crave rich, earthy and nutty flavours and as its Chocolate Week – plus I’m a huge chocolate lover I decided to pair it with beetroot making a variation on a favourite, with a light, moist crumb.

This particular cake was inspired by a Nigel Slater recipe which I love to make and always a winner amongst friends and family alike.  So I thought perhaps it’s time for a little tweak and my Chocolate Beetroot Seed Cake was born!  We all know chocolate and beetroot are perfect partners and with the addition of seeds this gives a nutty flavour.  It tastes no more of beetroot than a carrot cake tastes of carrots, yet it has a similarly warm earthiness to it.  I wouldn’t go as far to say this is a healthy cake but no doubt one of the less indulgent bakes and less sugary than most cakes!

The first time I made this I used olive oil, which works perfectly. Make sure not to use extra virgin oil as I feel it can taste quite bitter and override the other flavours.  I have used rapeseed on this occasion but I also think brazil nut would work well.  Another variation I made last time, was using the grated zest of an orange and juice of half an orange, omitting the lemon juice.  The orange also worked very well with the chocolate, beetroot and cinnamon, which added a warm zesty and dare I say it – Christmas note!!

My advise is have lots of fun playing around with various flavours and combinations – if anything it’s the perfect excuse to make lots of cakes! Now that makes me happy!  If you fancy a little baking to lighten the soul and fill the heart with happiness – then this cake is a must to bake! Absolutely delicious.

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Chocolate & Beetroot Seed Cake  (serves 10)

180g self-raising flour
45g cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 heaped tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
180ml rapeseed oil
225g light muscovado sugar
3 eggs, separated
150g raw beetroot, grated
juice of half a lemon
75g sultanas or raisins
75g mixed seeds (sunflower & pumpkin)

Method

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Lightly butter a loose bottom tin approximately 20-21cm lining the bottom and sides with baking parchment.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon.  Beat the oil and sugar in a food mixer until well creamed then introduce the beaten egg yolks one by one, reserving the whites for later.

Grate the beetroot coarsely and fold into the mixture, then add the lemon juice, raisins or sultanas and the assorted seeds.  Fold the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon  and raising agents into the mixture while the machine is turning slowly.

Beat the egg whites till light and almost stiff.  Fold gently but thoroughly into the mixture with a large metal spoon (a wooden one will knock the air out).

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, covering the top with a piece of foil after 30 minutes.  Test with a skewer to see if done.  The cake should be moist inside but not sticky.

Leave the cake to settle for a good 20 minutes before turning out of its tin on to a wire cooling rack.  It stays fresh for a few days and also freezes amazingly – if it lasts!
Serve with you favourite tea or coffee, sit back, relax and enjoy the moment!

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Happy Autumn baking and I promise you this combination won’t disappoint in taste – you will definitely be reaching for a second slice!  If you follow me you will know how much I love to bake but don’t like things too sweet as it overwhelms the delicious flavours and I feel it just ends up tasting of sugar!  So if you are a regular baker or just occasionally like to dapple, I would love to hear your thoughts and what’s your favourite bakes!  Enjoy!

Mairead x

In the kitchen… beetroot & walnut hummus

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Nothing quite tastes like homemade hummus… super healthy, delicious and so quick and easy to make!  Once you make your own you will never turn back – homemade, is much more flavoursome!

The traditional or more common hummus uses chickpeas as its basis.  However, you are not limited and can make many exciting forms using; cannellini beans, butter beans, edamame beans, and so the list goes on… the one I love to make is beetroot and walnut hummus – technically this is more of a dip.  I adore beetroot both in savoury and sweet dishes, so combined with walnuts and the addition of cumin – is heavenly in my book.  So if you’re a beetroot lover like me then you will adore this hummus!

This is a slightly adapted recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday book (Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall) and probably one of my most used cookbooks – I think I’ve possibly or nearly made every recipe!  Good honest homely food – with amazing vegetarian recipes.

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This delicious hummus or some may call it dip, is perfect smothered on crisp bread or rye bread for a light snack or for a more substantial meal I love to serve it along side homemade falafel’s – warm pittas straight from the oven and a cucumber and fennel salad and possibility a tzatziki dressing.  It also goes amazing with a goats cheese salad.

I have to say this is probably one of favourite meals to eat as a vegetarian – not only are the combination of flavours an explosion in your mouth but it is extremely filling and all round satisfying!  I could eat this every week!!

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Beetroot Hummus

200g of beetroot, cooked and roughly chopped
50g walnuts
20g stale bread, crusts removed
1  garlic clove, crushed
1-2 tbsp tahini paste
a drizzle of rapeseed or olive oil, optional
1 scant tsp ground cumin seeds, toasted and ground
Juice of ¼-½ lemon
Salt and black pepper

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Toast walnuts on a baking tray for 5-7 minutes, keeping your eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.  Allow to cool.

Toast the cumin seeds over a low heat in a small frying pan, shaking until they start to release their aroma – a few minutes; don’t burn them!  Crush in a pestle and mortar or if spice grinder.
If you choose to use ground cumin instead for convenience, that’s fine. However, you will probably need to add more as it’s not as pungent in flavour.  Personally it is worth the extra effort of grinding your own spices  – so much fresher!  The choice is yours!

Put the beetroot, bread, walnuts into the food processor and then add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, ground cumin and your oil of choice.  Add a little salt and grinding of pepper to taste.  Blitz until a thick paste.

Adjust to your personal taste,  adding any more of the above.  Refrigerate and serve at room temperature.  It will keep well for a few days, if it lasts!

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If you find yourself always resorting to the same old recipes, then why not venture into trying something new and exciting!  I feel its all to easy to keep making our favourite tried and tested recipes, but it’s much more inspiring to try new flavours and combinations – nothing ventured not gained!!  Enjoy experimenting with this delicious beetroot hummus and please do let me know your thoughts or what are your favourite hummus recipes.

Oh! If you you follow me on Instagram you can get sneak previews to what’s happening on my blog! – up and coming foodie recipes and other exciting happenings!

Mairead x

Lemon|Coconut |Raspberry Little Buns

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Where has Summer gone?… less rain and more sun please!  So on that note I shall resign to the kitchen –  a little baking is perfect on a dull day to bring some sunshine in the form of a sweet treat!  I think we will all agree – few will resist the temptation of freshly baked cake!!

 If you love lemon and coconut then these delicious buns will be right up your street!  Packed full of coconut and not too sweet with zesty lemon and the addition of tangy raspberries.  Finished with a lemon drizzle.  What’s not to love and perfect with your favourite cup of tea!

This particular recipe is from a very talented food blogger which I love – The Sentient Baker she calls it ‘Sunshine cake’.  I have adapted it slightly and decided to try it in large cupcake cases (I just wanted an excuse to use them!) and omitted the drizzle icing – its a personal choice.  Whilst these look good, I think next time I would use a tray bake tin – its definitely much easier to soak the cake with syrup on a flatter surface!  I guess that’s the joy of baking it’s trial and error and what works best for you.

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Lemon |Coconut |Raspberry Little Buns

115g olive oil
100g caster sugar
115g white self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g desiccated coconut
3 lemons,finely grated zest
100g fresh raspberries

 for the soaking syrup

juice 1 lemon
50g sugar

Method

Line a rectangular baking tin with baking paper (approximately  35cmx25cm).  Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan.

In a large bowl combine the oil, sugar, coconut, vanilla and eggs, beat together until smooth.  Add the flour and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into the pre-prepared tin and distribute the raspberries evenly into the batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden or until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.

Meanwhile prepare the syrup; add the lemon juice and sugar to a small pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Allow the mixture to reduce by approximately half. Do not allow it to boil. Set to one side.

Whilst the cake is still warm, use a cocktail stick to make small holes all over the surface, this way the syrup will be better absorbed.

Use a tablespoon to pour the syrup evenly over the cake, until the top of the cake is moist and sticky.

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If you fancy a little weekend baking – then these sweet but tangy buns are definitely a hit!!  Perfect to perk up a dull, rainy summers day and add a touch of sunshine!  Enjoy baking and as always I would love to hear any thoughts or comments.

Mairead x

Interiors… Neptune Store Belfast

Ormeau Road has become much of a foodie hotspot and now they have the arrival of high end retailers Neptune, housed in the iconic Ormeau Bakery – once the largest independent bakery in Ireland.  It’s building dates back to 1875 and while it’s been renovated (with roof gardens by designer, Diarmuid Gavin), the original façade has been preserved along with various architectural heritage elements, such as the carved mouldings and the landmark clock.

It opened its doors just over a month ago and is a welcomed addition to the ever busy and growing Ormeau Road.  Neptune is an interiors store specialising in exceptionally designed and carefully crafted timeless collections for all areas of the home.  Wood is an integral component of Neptune’s DNA which is used within all their classic and modern designs.

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Believe it or not Neptune’s very first product was the hammock, focusing on the great outdoors and as they have grown over the last 21 years they have successfully progressed into all areas of the home.  They have become best known for their excellent craftsmanship, developing a signature look over the years and now recognised for their extraordinary kitchens.

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As you enter the Belfast store there is a feeling of calm with a restful  atmosphere – like entering a beautifully styled home… elegant and understated. The palette is very easy on the eye with muted tones, natural materials and textiles. The styling is impeccable and its the little details which make it feel like home! I guess the devil is in the detail!

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Photo – My Yellow Jumper

As a lover of all things botanical… I was instantly drawn to the abundance of flowers!  I must say I was pretty impressed with the exquisite range and quality of Neptune’s beautiful handmade silk flowers – in many colours and extremely realistic!  More recently they have introduced most convincing – ‘life like’ pot succulents and olive trees. Perfect if you don’t have green fingers!!  I could cover my entire house in flowers, so I think I will manage to find space for a few more!  The best thing – these little beauties won’t wilt!

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So if your looking for quality and timeless luxury for your home, to last a lifetime then Neptune is definitely worth a visit to explore!  Of course with all their beautiful tableware, accessories and amazing flower shop you will not come out empty handed!  Even a browse for inspiration will do the soul wonders.  Enjoy!

Mairead x

(Photos by Neptune & My Yellow Jumper)

In the kitchen… Olive, orange and rosemary crown

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It’s a humid and overcast day and little sunshine to invite me outdoors…  so I thought a perfect time to make some bread.  I think we will all agree nothing smells more tempting than the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the house! 

I love to make bread – from a plain cob; to a seeded bloomer and more speciality breads.  I  find the entire process to be totally relaxing, (that’s providing it turns out according to plan!)  from the mixing, kneading, to watching it prove and taking your treasured baked loaf from the oven.  Of course, the most rewarding part is eating the fruits of your labour!  This is the time… when I practically need to hide the hot loaf, to completely cool, before tearing it open and trying to not devour it!!

However it’s been a while since I devoted some time to making bread… so I was in the mood for some savoury flavoured bread – in the form of bread rolls.  I decided to perfect Olive, Orange and Rosemary Crown! Sounds ambitious!  I have made this particular  recipe a few times before but I think this was my most successful attempt at these delicious rolls… a hint of rosemary, with a salty note from the olives and a fresh zesty orange flavour!

This is a Ruby Tandoh recipe, from her book Crumb – a celebration of the simple joy of baking.  Ruby was a Great British Bake-off finalist and now writes for the Guardian – a very talented young lady!  I have made a small tweak to these rolls, with the addition of some rosemary, which I think works perfectly with the orange and olives!  On the subject of olives, I suggest you use good quality – rubbery, cheap olives won’t do your bread justice!  I always find adding a glug of good olive oil to your bread dough, gives a richer flavour and produces a rich tender loaf.

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Olive, Orange and Rosemary Crown

350g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
1½ teaspoons instant dried yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
60ml olive oil
175ml cool water
Zest of 1 orange
100g Kalamata olives, chopped and patted dry
a good sprig of Rosemary, finely chopped

Method

Combine the flour and yeast in a large bowl then stir in the salt. Add the oil, water, rosemary and orange zest and mix roughly to combine. Knead the dough.  It’ll be wet and uncooperative to start with but the high oil content should stop it from sticking too much.  Persevere until it is elastic and no longer sticky — this will take about 10 minutes.  Knead in the chopped olives and set the dough in a large, covered bowl to rise at room temperature for 1½–2 hours, or until doubled in size.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 5 pieces and roll each into an oval shape — a little like a rugby ball.  Arrange the portions in a circle shape on a large baking tray, each piece of dough very close to, but not quite touching, its neighbours (they will swell and join as they rise and bake).  Leave to prove for 40–50 minutes at room temperature — it ought to almost double in size.  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.

Dust the risen dough with flour, score lightly along the length of each oval of dough and bake for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas mark 6 and baking for a further 25 minutes.  Each oven temperature will vary, so adjust accordingly.

 

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I encourage you to have a go at this recipe as it’s totally delicious and even if it doesn’t turn out how you expected first time – the old saying ‘practice makes perfect’!  I personally have found with making bread, it can’t be rushed and the more I’ve experimented with various types of bread, the more I’ve learnt.  Sometimes you can just feel when it’s going to be a delicious loaf –  with good rise, flavour and texture.  It’s all about putting love into the dough!! Never make bread when your not in the mood!

Nothing quite tastes like your own homemade bread and the satisfaction of achieving and the reward of tucking in!!  I’m continually learning and love to try out new recipes.  So even if you’re new to bread making or a regular – enjoy making these yummy rolls.  I would love to hear any thoughts – if you make bread regularly and your personal favourites.  So get kneading – I recommend it for stress!!

Mairead x