Sunday, 24 March 2013

D.I.Y. Spa Evening~


I've always wanted to try to create my own spa experience at home, and with winter showing no sign of being vanquished, what better time to do so than now? After all, everyone has such busy schedules these days that we hardly ever have any time to ourselves - something we don't even think about doing all too often. But as my yoga teacher keeps on emphasizing, putting aside time to focus on yourself is so important for your mental well-being!

This is such a fun idea you can do for a girl's night in, or for something you can do with your significant other, all on a student budget~

So you've decided you want to have your own spa experience now?

The first thing to think about is where to hold the session. A lot of professional spa treatments involve lying down in a comfortable place, so a living room or a bedroom are good options. We chose a bedroom, and immediately set about cleaning it as there is definitely something to be said for the ancient art of feng shui, and given that some people believe that a person's room is a reflection of the state of their internal self, I do believe that an uncluttered space will make you feel more relaxed.

Next, you need to decide on what you are going to do:

Face masks
Steam treatments

And what you will need! We went to Chinatown and picked up some incense sticks for £1.50, and in MUJI we picked up a scented candle and a bottle of essential oil for ~£7 which turned out to be our only expenses for this night - not bad, given that I already had some massage oil lying around and a lavender scented comforter that was oh so soothing when it had been heated and was wrapped around my neck.

Recreating a luxury experience in your own home is all about the details - we wanted to feel like we were being treated so fluffy white towels and bathrobes were a must!

Other details included some preparation before we began - switching on the heating to warm up our space, and lighting an incense stick to infuse the room with a calm and relaxing scent. We also had a supply of green tea on tap, as well as a soothing soundtrack that was oh so kindly supplied to us by Youtube.

I wanted to try a face mask and prepared one by mashing a banana, some honey and a few drops of lemon juice, but never got round to trying it out that evening. In the morning, it ended up becoming a sticky black goo, something I will spare you from seeing!

As it was quite late in the night (half ten...eleven?) when we started, we only got round to massages and steam - for the steam, we had a bowl of hot water infused with a few drops of lemon essential oil that we used to unclog our pores. But next time, there will be more! :3

All in all, something a little out of the ordinary, and well worth the preparation!

Yishi xxx

Saturday, 23 March 2013

London Chocolate Festival!

Hello everyone!

Today I dragged my housemate to the tenth London Chocolate Festival, a festival celebrating all things chocolate that is held at Southbank. 

Unfortunately, it started to snow really heavily on the way, so we had to wander around the festival collecting snowflakes on our clothes. When we got there, I realised that I'd been to Southbank before - this was where  Ping Pong was located, a restaurant that I'd visited years ago - so much for deja vu! (✿◠‿◠)

Anyway, here are some pretty pretty photos of the stalls:

We made it despite the "snowstorm"!
The first stall we saw was Hotel Chocolat so we ended up buying hot chocolate from them instead of a lesser known stall... >_<
Chocolate violins and scissors~
This stall sold cards with edible chocolate messages in them!
I bought some of this pretty pretty chocolate, but it looks too good to eat... :'(
We managed to get the last two tickets for a chocolate workshop with Damian Allsop who showed us how to make a dessert of Pacari Raw Chocolate, Green Tea Cake and Hot Fruit Gel.

The mirror was a nice touch for those of us sitting at the back~
We got to take part in some tastings too!
This is the green tea meringue mix~
Spreading the fruit gel~
The finished dessert for us to try!
We managed to catch the recipe:
1. Dissolve 10g agar in 1l water.
2. Once set, blend and add more water to thin the consistency into a custard or wallpaper paste.
3. Warm it up, then emulsify it with approximately 240g of melted 70% dark chocolate (the one Damian used is Picari chocolate). To do this, add a little bit at a time, then kind of scratch it in to make a shiny elastic mixture - like making a reverse mayo.
4. Leave for 4-5 hours to set. 
Green tea meringue~ 
1. Mix together water and green tea powder to form a paste.
2. Add an equal weight of dextrose, then 10% weight of egg white powder.
3. Blend together, then pipe and dehydrate in an oven at 50 degrees (can leave overnight to set). 
1. Add carrageenan sea moss powder to blackcurrant puree - or agar (1:10 ratio).
2. Heat to 95 degrees in a big flat pot - thick puree bubbles before it boils.
3. Pour onto a tray to set.
Construct all parts with dark chocolate to look like the dessert in the photo!
So, thanks to this event, chocolate has now been ruined for me forever. I don't think that I can eat Cadbury's or Galaxy anymore, or even Hotel Chocolat without thinking about the awesome samples we got to try at the festival.

Souvenirs that we purchased. The ginger and lemongrass chocolate was to die for! And I'll be giving one of the fruity chocolates to my parents when I go home this Easter! 。◕‿◕。

Yishi xxx

Friday, 22 March 2013

Hawksmoor and Paramount Bar~!

Haiii! :3

Tonight I got taken to Hawksmoor in Covent Garden, the "best steak restaurant in London", and ohmygoodness, it was so deliciously divine!

Tamworth belly ribs~ sooo yummy!!!
Sirloin steak~ ohmygosh, this was so divine...
Mash, mushrooms and beef dripping fries~
Tunworth and Appleby’s Cheshire cheese platter omnomnom~
Afterwards, we went to Paramount Bar, a bar on the 32nd floor of a building near Tottenham Court Road for cocktails~

Grey Goose Le Fizz pour moi~
Paramount Colada hehe~
The views from the top of the bar were absolutely stunning!

Oxford Street
Tottenham Court Road
Oxford Street and TCR
Playing around with the effects on my camera!
This is the first time that I've seen London from a height such as this, and I remember being completely awestruck at the views. Being a student, I felt a bit out of place here as it was full of working professionals and the price of the drinks was way out of my range, but I would definitely recommend going here once to check out the views of London from the top. What hit me was that buildings stretched out on all sides for as far as the eye could see - London was in every direction for miles and miles! Thank the heavens that the skies weren't too cloudy but I can only imagine how amazing it would be to come here in the summer...

Yishi xxx

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Side Effects

On Wednesday, I went to see Side Effects, a psychological thriller about the side effects of taking anti-depressant pills. I saw the trailer for this when I went to see Stoker two weeks ago, which had me absolutely hooked. Going in, my friend and I were both prepared for a courtroom showdown as the main focal point of the movie, but then it turned out that the plot was something different...and creepier.

I don't want to write too much about the plot here because I don't want to ruin anything, so all I will say is that you should definitely see this for yourself, and that it was a nice touch to have my expectations of the plot turned upside down.

I loved the acting - all of the central characters were really strong and I also loved the moral ambiguity they displayed, especially when you realise that not even the characters you root for are completely clean. Creepy. But fantastic.

On a side note, Ben and Jerry's milkshakes have become a bit of a thing now for me to take into the cinemas - you get three scoops blended with milk and both fudge and chocolate sauces. Had a lot of fun choosing flavours to complement each other, and settled on a winning combination of: cookie dough, chocolate fudge brownie and caramel chewchew. Yum! :3

Yishi xxx

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Pottery Class: Thrown into the Deep

Hehe, if you do pottery you'll spot the really bad pun, but for those of you that don't, throwing is the term used to describe the work done to a piece of clay on a potter's wheel in order to turn it into a piece of value.

Song of the day: To You by Teen Top (song introduced to me by my dance teacher~)

I thought I'd write about this as I've just started a beginner's taster course in pottery throwing, something I signed up to on a whim after meeting someone else who wanted to explore more creative things here in London. Unfortunately for me, they had to drop out of the course, but it was no big deal - I got to meet some lovely new people and still had a great day.

City Lit, the college where the course is held, is located in central London, near Covent Garden. Today, the weather was stunning, a warm blue sky with hints of spring, wonderful for setting my mood~

The teacher showed us how to prepare the clay, a technique called wedging which squeezes the air bubbles out of the clay. This involved using wire to cut a slab of clay, lifting it up and using gravity to splat it back onto the rest of the clay, a very satisfying process. When we'd squeezed all the air out of the clay and rolled it into bread bun shapes, she took us to the potter's wheel and demonstrated how to transform the ball into something amazing:

I was absolutely speechless, seeing this happen before my very eyes!

And then it was our turn...

The process itself involves taking your clay and centering it on the potter's wheel - making a small cylinder and positioning it right on the centre of the wheel. To achieve this you need really steady hands, good co-ordination and a good control of the speed of the wheel. You're supposed to use your dominant hand and place it on top of the clay, and your less dominant hand to shape the sides, but I found it easier to do it the other way. Once you have a centred piece of clay, you make a hole in the middle, pull the hole out, and then pull the sides up to form your pot.

Here are my attempts:

My first try on the wheel. It was very frustrating to make so many mistakes so I ended up discarding this one.

This is the one I was most proud of. After five or six tries, I finally made something that could pass as a Chinese tea cup...or an espresso cup. In the end, I kept two tries which I hope I will get to paint next week! 

As this is a four week course, I'll keep you guys updated on my progress! :)

Yishi xxx