this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


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FF: Fashion {01 Mellow Yellow}

Seeing as it’s summer in London (for the time being) and it’s a Friday, I wanted to celebrate by getting a bit frivolous…Inspired by the Poppytalk 2012 Summer Colours Week I decided to play with colours.

I don’t really wear yellow much. At all. Do I have one item of yellow? Maybe I have one scarf with teeny pale yellow accent flowers…that’s it. Lately though, I’ve been really drawn to it – perhaps because of the lack of sunshine we’ve been having. Anyway, without further ado or too many words to negate the frivolity of this post, here you go:

#01: Mellow Yellow

1) Armand Diradourian fringed shawl; 2) Wallis floral blouse; 3) True Religion polka dot jeans; 4) Lanvin shoes; 5) With Love From CA beading jewelry; 6) Givenchy handbagCold Lemonade Tin Sign | Summertime Signs | RetroPlanet.com.

Don’t I have expensive taste? I think I need some ice cold lemonade to recover from my virtual shopping trip – have a lovely weekend! 🙂


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Socca: beautifully simple flatbread experiments

SoccaJust over a week ago, I shared a couple of face mask recipes with you. I mentioned a tasty ingredient: gram flour which is made from chickpeas. Then last Wednesday, Amy of cozywalls posted a simple recipe for a gluten-free flatbread called socca. The ingredients were already in my store cupboard: salt, gram flour, water, olive oil. Most importantly, I had a bag of gram flour in my pantry that I only use very small quantities of from time to time – to make things to smear on my face. The star of the show for me was this magical flour. The recipe looked too easy to miss out on trying, so I jotted a quick note to myself before I went to bed and made it in the morning!

Socca with ham, cheese and lettuce!Amy uses a cast iron skillet which for now is still on my wishlist. So I lined a roasting tin that I thought would be big enough and preheated it in the oven before pouring in the light batter and sprinkling some dried dates on top. Amy used figs and onions, neither of which I had to hand, but the dates were a really successful alternative. Waiting the half hour or so for the deliciously nutty socca to bake made me so ravenous, I sliced up some lettuce and peppered honey roast ham to roll up in it with some grated cheese. It was absolutely delicious with or without the impromptu filling.

Socca with ham, cheese and lettuce!I can’t claim to have made anything authentic having never tasted socca before. However, I did some brief research afterwards and came across an informative post by David Lebovitz that you might also want to take a look at. After reading that post, and sleeping on it, I decided to try something a little different of my own. I won’t call it socca. But this is what I did:

Chickpea and Almond Flatbread

  • Chickpea and Almond Flatbread1/2 cup gram flour
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Pinch of cumin
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds

Mix flour, ground almonds and salt together. Stir in water and 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Leave to sit at room temperature for at least an hour. I prepared this mixture after a slow lunch on Saturday and returned to it in the afternoon for a lovely snack.

Chickpea and Almond FlatbreadHeat a pan on the hob until hot. Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil and add the bubbly batter which should pop and sizzle in the pan. Scatter flaked almonds over the top with a pinch of cumin. Fry on high heat for about 2 minutes then flip and cook for another 2 minutes or so until the flaked almonds become nicely toasted.

Serve immediately with some soft cheese, honey or anything you fancy! Let me know if you try your own experiment (really you must, it’s so simple!) and I’d be appreciative of any tips!

Chickpea and Almond Flatbread

Beautifully nutty Chickpea and Almond Flatbread drizzled with honey. DELICIOUS eaten straight from the pan!


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You have all the time there is…

You have all the time there isTime. I don’t know anyone who does not struggle to find enough time. Time to work. Time to play. Time to sleep. Time to read. Time to eat. Time to dream. Time to finish something, anything, everything. Time to blog. I do not personally know anyone vaguely like any of those super-people out there, who have ever confidently listed their time-management tactics on their blogs for the benefit of us lesser mortals. All the people I know, wish they had more time…

Last month, I attended a training session. It was not specifically related to the concept of time. It was somewhat related to management though. As we neared the afternoon coffee break, one of the participants expressed her frustration at the overwhelming number of tasks she was expected to perform along with the actual job she was contracted to do. The rest of us nodded empathetically as one. Eyes met in full sympathy across the room. Heartfelt murmurs of commiseration and support were imparted. She was speaking of the experience of everyone present. In this atmosphere of deep mutual understanding. the trainer spoke the following words. Yes, she said them with a bit too much awareness of their significance. She intentionally paused and repeated to give them more weight. But she explained that when she first heard them, it was as though someone had switched a light on. And by them I was at once moved and inspired:

You have all the time there is… You have all the time there is…

And indeed that is the only equality that is perhaps given to all. Old and young, rich and poor, male and female of whatever colour or creed… we are each given the same 24 hours in a day. Although the number of days we have ahead may differ, I don’t have enough time is not really a valid complaint. I don’t have more or less time than you, I may just be trying to do more or less than you are trying to do with the time that we have. And Adriana of  seems to have been thinking along the same lines too recently. Her angle on the topic challenges me: “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.”

My question to myself now therefore is, I have all the time there is, am I making good investments with it? Are the ways in which I spend my time meaningful, rewarding, constructive, worthwhile, beneficial? Because these are the attitudes that I would like to have towards my life and how I use it.


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WordPress selectively broken?

Hello dear precious readers,

Have any of you found that you are not getting feeds from all the blogs that you have followed on WordPress? In the past week or so, I clicked on two blogs that I hadn’t read any posts from for a while, with the intention of leaving a friendly message to see if the bloggers were ok. They were prolific bloggers and I figured if they weren’t blogging, something might be wrong.

Turns out it was WordPress (I think) unless someone can point out that I’ve been a bit daft or need new glasses. I mean, WordPress does show me a nice tick next to these blogs to confirm that I’m following them and the bloggers have thankfully been happily and busily blogging away all this time. It’s just nobody told me about it!

And there I was, worrying my poor little head about them…

One thing in common between these two blogs is that they both have their own url. I don’t know if that made a difference. When I have time I will need to check through all my favourite blogs to see if I’ve been missing out on more than I thought. Might need to have a quick chat with Mr Mullenweg to see if things are running ok at HQ 😉

Well I just thought I’d drop you a quick note to see if the powers that be are just frowning down on me, or if anyone else was finding that this has been happening to them? Hello? Did anyone get my post in their feed? Please let me know 🙂

Have a good end-of-the-weekend!


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All patriotic about food: fish & chips

Fish & Chips

Food is a powerful thing. It is so much more than just a combination of ingredients, flavours, aromas, calories and techniques. The food we eat is literally an inseparable part of us. Food is so important to who we are, our culture, and is integral to our concept of home. It can give us a sense of belonging or adventure, it can even be iconic.

The latter can definitely be said of one of my all time favourite things to eat, fish and chips. A much-loved British tradition for Friday nights which I try not to succumb to too regularly. According to a couple of my favourite TV foodies, the Hairy Bikers, an early English cookbook seems to suggest that my favourite deep fried goodness has early influences from the Jewish community of Whitechapel in East London. Lovely stuff.

A delectable feast from my local chippy never fails to cheer me up. The one near me serves generous pieces of fish in a delightfully light and crisp batter. Finding a good local fish and chip shop is a real exercise in trial and error, but once you have one, it’s like a good doctor – you want it to stay in very good health. When I lived in Hamburg, one of my favourite treats was a North German version from Daniel Wischer consisting of fish goujons served with a lovely dollop of Remoulade sauce. A taste of home, with a delicious twist I’d say. Eaten under familiarly grey skies, it went a long way to easing any homesickness.

Fish & ChipsThese days, I’ve taken to eating fish and chips with English mustard alongside some good old malt vinegar. I’m addicted to the bright yellow stuff. I must have good chunky chips, nice and soft on the inside but crispy-ish on the outside. And, why not throw in a battered sausage from time to time too…

A note for any visitors to our shores wanting to sample this wonderful meal, beware, a higher priced fish and chips does not indicate superior quality!

Door Keys


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All psyched up to go home

Last week, on my way home, I actually took a seat on the train. I was ill equipped to occupy myself in a useful way as usual, so I just sat and stared at random patterns and adverts.

About two stops into my journey, a man in his thirties or so got on. He had in-ear buds plugged in and tinny beats emanating from his head to the rest of the passengers. I suddenly realised that all the men in my section of the carriage, bar one, had their ears stopped up with various portable speakers. There were two other sets of nondescript ear buds. One young crisply suited male had a spotless almost glowing Beats by Dr. Dre halo clamping down on his ears. Another two had black-coloured headphones in a similar but less trendy style (the kind that could double up as ear-muffs). Another man slouched against one of the high seats at the end of the carriage, his head drooping as he dipped in and out of a fitful snooze.

My mind quickly referenced an article I had read recently about athletes training and psyching themselves up to motivational music. I wondered what these guys were getting ready for. The music did not seem generally to be of the kind that helps you to relax judging by the sounds from some of the headphones and the bouncing chins of the other wearers whose music I could not hear. (Notable exception could be the guy who was semi-conscious.)

(I must say I wouldn’t mind having one of these Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones for every Tube journey. I stepped foot in a Bose shop for the first time a couple of weeks ago out of curiosity, and recommend that anyone that has not tried these does so for the pure amazement value. Once you have experienced them, the attached price tag will no longer surprise you. I can imagine if I had a pair, every Tube journey in future would be like an out-of-body experience!)

That day’s observation did bring to mind the fact that there is a different story behind each person with whom I rub shoulders, literally or metaphorically, on my daily commute. We may all wear a similar uniform. We may even enjoy similar tastes in music. Each of us probably sports a familiar blank look as we meander home by various means. But we each go back to a different place and life can be very very different behind each door that we severally close behind us at the end of that journey.

Door KeysFor some, on the other side of the door is a refuge from the world. For others, to open that door is to leave a refuge behind for the night. For still others, the door opens a gaping hole of emptiness which envelops that person until he emerges again the next day. Then there are those we do not realise have no doors to journey to and live a expertly fabricated deception that we so readily believe. We can live so closely alongside one another, and yet, we can be such solitary souls.

I have no deep insights to offer on this trailing thought. I’ll try to remember to make lemonade and share it around while I know how. I am just glad that behind my closed door, I can open up this world here from time to time, and see your smiling and encouraging faces.

Oats so nourishing


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Oat so nourishing – in celebration of a British summer

Aaah the beautiful long days of the British summer….dreary, rainy, windy…I’d much rather have burrowed deep under my duvet and hibernated for the last few weeks. Does anyone remember the freak spell of hot weather a few weeks back? I do, just about, but I cheated – more about that later. But mid-week, I gave up and turned on the central heating again. Just for two hours a day, so that I wouldn’t fall over in the shower from excessive shivering! Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert fame is asking everyone in a poll: Is your central heating on? Good question…what’s your answer as we rapidly approach the summer solstice?

In all honesty, I do love wintry things like snuggling up in cosy pyjamas, wearing fluffy warm slippers and eating comfort food – anything with gravy and mash! And because it’s not been all that warm I’ve had the best of both worlds I guess – longer days and cosy nights. And having the heavens water my garden for me is not something I feel the need to complain about, even though as of yesterday, the hose pipe ban in my area was lifted thanks to the recent heavy rain!

So in the spirit of this year’s very temperamental British summer, I’m going to share something comforting that reminds me of cosy mornings. The smell of it awakens memories of getting up in the dark, wrapping myself in anything as akin to a blanket as possible and shuffling downstairs in thick socks to breakfast: porridge. Truly comforting, the smell of oats is indulgent and yet so familiar it warms you from the inside.

Oats so nourishingWell…not quite porridge – an oatmeal face scrub-mask. Yep, it smells like putting really yummy porridge on your face. Although I can’t say I feel like licking something off my face after I’ve used it to suck the dirt out of my pores. Because that is exactly what it does. After using it for the first time, not only had the redness around my nostrils calmed down, the blackheads (eww, sorry) that had started accumulating on my nose had been REMOVED too. Amazing!

I am going to describe the pure version and then a more glorified version that I made up by combining ingredients I like. I tried, tested and loved the second mask, and it’s personally very good for me.

  • My skin-type: quite sensitive, combination-dry.
  • Disclaimer: try them carefully on a inconspicuous patch of skin first in case you have an allergy. Always be careful to apply away from the eye area.

Oats so nourishingPure Oat Scrub-Mask

  • 1 teaspoon oats
  • 1 tablespoon water (temperature of your choosing, I prefer cold to tepid)

I first saw this on Bubzbeauty “Beautiful Skin Remedy“. I place the ingredients in a small dish and knead the oats a bit to get all the goodness out. I find these quantities are sufficient for a simple 2 minute wash but you might want to vary them according to your preference. The longer you soak the oats for beforehand, the more they swell up and make the water milky.

Make sure you don’t drain it off. The oat “milk” is lovely and nourishing! I just apply it all with my fingertips and hands. If you are using it as a mask, simply leave it to set for a few minutes before washing off, massaging your skin in circular motions.

Oats so nourishingBrightening Oat Mask

  • 1 teaspoon natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon gram flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice water
  • 1 teaspoon crushed oats (I used a pestle and mortar)

This mask is great for brightening your skin and refining your pores. Mix ingredients into a smooth paste and apply to face. Leave on for 5-10 minutes. Wash off by wetting your fingertips and massaging mask off gently in circular motions.

I like to apply this cold – using the yoghurt straight from the fridge is very soothing and refreshing on the face. Gram flour is made from chickpeas and can be found in South Asian supermarkets or the world section of your local supermarket. It has gentle exfoliating properties and is better than wheat flour if you can get it.

I collected the cold rice water from the last time I washed some rice I was about to cook. I infused it with oats and left to steep for the amount of time it took me to eat my dinner and wash up. I then pressed the oats, strained off the water into a small bottle and kept it in the fridge.

Is anyone watching Euro 2012 by the way? It’s half time in the England v Sweden match now, I think I need to dash to the loo. You have a few minutes to get a quick mask on if you’re swift! 😉


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Quick Supper : Sesame Prawns with Dill

Thank you for bearing with me – it has been a couple of crazy weeks and I am exhausted. I didn’t go for my last minute supermarket sweep to stock up before the beginning of the week, so I was living off what remained in my fridge from the week before, along with dwindling freezer and pantry stocks. I’ve been doing too many hasty shopping trips in the past month or so without replenishing my stash of tins or frozen ingredients (except for buying a couple of tubs of reduced Carte d’or ice cream!)

By the end of yesterday, there was not that much left. The minced beef had been defrosted and stretched into two comforting meals with all the carrots; I’d lazily stuck the Ginster’s Cornish Pasties straight from the freezer into the oven on Monday evening, and midweek I’d popped down the chippy for my favourite British fare . But, thankfully, my freezer was harbouring an indulgent secret.

I’m someone who lives by the “save the best for last” principle, and almost making it through this week calls for a small celebration. Frozen tiger prawns to be exact. Whenever there is a deal, I stock up. They make for a tasty treat for those rainy days when I don’t want a heavy dinner and I need it to be quick. (Talking about celebrations…although any Jubilee festive spirit has long evaporated, I do have a special post up my sleeve for when I find some head space.)

Sesame Prawns

Prawns are nature’s fast-food; enough protein to satisfy but so super quick to cook that you’ve barely heated up the pan and you’re turning off the gas again. I put the prawns into the fridge to defrost overnight, expecting that my hunger would direct me as to what to do with them this evening.

I already mentioned that I rather like sesame seeds here. A bunch of dill I picked up last time I purchased groceries has been keeping very well in the fridge. There was a lot of it, so I have been experimenting (I tried it in the beef mince and it was yummy!) Dill with seafood is a classic combination, but I thought I’d mix things up a bit and see whether sesame and dill would work together. Yup. It was tasty.

Sesame Prawns

Sesame Prawns with Dill

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 225g raw large king prawns
  • 2 tsp chopped dill
  • 3 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sesame oil
  • Soya sauce

Heat up the pan until hot and add vegetable oil. Allow oil to start smoking and add the prawns. Stir as they fry so that they are cooked evenly.

As the prawns become pink, add the dill and sesame seeds. Add pepper, sesame oil and a dash of soya sauce to taste. When there is no more grey on the prawns turn off the heat. Allow prawns to become opaque before transferring onto a plate for serving.

Be careful not to overcook the prawns. Avoid allowing them to clench up into a tight circle if you want them to retain a fresh bite rather than becoming chewy.

What do you whip up when you need a quick but satisfying pick-me-up meal?


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Untitled #4

image

Many apologies. I have been really busy so my thanks for playing along with my frivolous photo project. I will reveal all the subjects in a post soon but let’s have another one in the meantime.

It’s been fun reading your suggestions. I think this one is easier…but then, does it make it more difficult to be creative?


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Untitled #3

image

I just loved the colours and textural gradient in this. They seem to have come out reasonably well in the photo. I have a better copy than this instant post one but I don’t know if anyone out there will be as eager to study it as I am!

Easy guess as to what it is, exactly?