Category: Miscellaneous

Camden Lock

A date with Harry. We went to the market at Camden Lock. It rained, because we like that in Britain, in the summer. It makes a change from the winter sleet.

Lunch. Obviously very important. I had a chicken katsu burger and sweet potato fries.

General outdoor scenes. That’s Harry, with the white t-shirt and the back pack. We are falling in love and it is turning into quite a serious relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up living together or even getting married, if his parents can handle the shock of the considerable age gap.

A hipster selling moustache wax and beard butter.

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The fancy tea shop. Harry is a big tea aficionado.

The Japanese shop.

A stall selling candles. They all looked and smelled delightful but I couldn’t have any because they are paraffin and my lungs don’t get along with paraffin candles. I discovered this after I bought a huge sampler pack of miniature Yankee Candles in all different fragrances, so I sent them to my sister-in-law who I don’t particularly like.

I love the photo of this lady and her husband. It was very clear that she desperately wanted one of these candles, if not several, and spent ages looking at them, but her husband did not take the hint. Then she tried passing them to him in an attempt to get him to take an interest, but he was not having it. As you can see, he is not even looking. I felt bad for her. We had a little chat about how nice the candles were, because she needed somebody to agree that they were nice.

And that’s all the news for now, as I am super busy today. I have lots more photos to share with you, but they will have to wait for next time.

Stamppot

Food is a huge part of my life since I met Harry. We eat out. We cook at home and try out recipes. He is a good cook and is encouraging me and giving me confidence. This afternoon, I cooked and he wasn’t even there. You don’t see that happen too often outside of Xmas.

At work, I am learning about Holland so I had a go at making Stamppot, which is a Dutch dish. Stamppot roughly translates as ‘pot of mashed vegetables’. Here’s my amateurish cooking. The results were quite good and I even put some in plastic tubs in the freezer for later consumption. I felt very domesticated and quite victorious, even though I made plenty of mistakes and cooking has never been my strong point.

The essence of a stamppot recipe is this: get some root vegetables, eg potatoes, boil and mash them; get some green, leafy vegetables, eg kale, boil and stir into the mash; stir in fried onion and bacon pieces. Season and serve with pieces of smoked sausage.

Here’s my amateurish version that I did today, with extra bacon instead of sausage.

Realised that I needed to use up a bunch of interesting-looking vegetables from the farmer’s market, including these carrots. img_3928

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Chopped up a potato. Chopped up a red onion. Vaguely fried everything in butter in the saucepan for a while, with no clear idea of what I was doing, then developed a sense of purpose and transferred the onions to a frying pan. Left the carrots and potatoes in the saucepan for boiling.

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Looked around for more of the market vegetables to throw in the boiling pan. Cauliflower. Red cabbage.

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Chopped up another onion and fried with some bacon pieces and too much oil. I always use too much grease and have much to learn about frying.

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Don’t forget to boil some kale. Later realised I should have put the cabbage in with the kale, note for next time.

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Make sure everything’s cooked.

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Mash the potato (cauliflower, carrots, etc), add milk and seasoning – big spoonful of Dijon mustard gives it a kick. Stir in the leafy veg, bacon and onions. Yum.

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I loved everything about this recipe and will definitely make some different versions of it to try out various combinations of ingredients and also to get good at cooking bacon and smoked sausage, a subject of which I know little.

There will be more food posts soon. As I mentioned, it’s a big part of this romantic relationship I’m suddenly having. We are cooking and eating while getting to know each other. I’m quite fat but that’s not really Harry’s fault and is mainly because I secretly eat cake when he’s not around.

 

Church.

Diljit Dosanjh is an Indian actor, singer and all-round celebrity who works in Punjabi and Hindi cinema and the Punjabi music industry. I am mainly posting this for the excellent dancing, Indian culture excels at dance, particularly for men. Dance requires men to be strong yet agile, not so bulked up with inflated, balloon-animal muscles that it reduces their mobility. This is why you don’t see Captain America dancing.

Diljit Dosanjh: Sweetu (2014)

 

In which I waver and have dark moods.

I have been in a funny mood the last couple of days, since about Saturday evening. Irritable, pensive and gloomy. To what shall I attribute it?

  • Could be hormones. I am the right age for swinging hormones, or it could be a time of the month thing or it could be exercise-induced testosterone surges or whatever.
  • Eurgh, I have faulty lights in my house and I have to engage an electrician. If the whole place needs rewiring, it will be very, very expensive, running to thousands of pounds. This is enough to make anyone annoyed and depressed.
  • I went on a carb binge over the weekend because I was just so tired of constantly eating raw vegetables and watching my weight waver within a range of the same two pounds for the last two weeks. I am back on the healthy eating wagon as of this morning. I wrote that sentence and then ate several pieces of Mint Aero with my breakfast smoothie.
  • I want to do demanding exercise classes at my gym but at the same time I am plagued by various allergies and itchy skin right now and I know this is a sign that I’ve run down my immune system instead of boosting it. I need to rest and preserve myself and get my energy up, clear my skin, then resume doing insane classes at the gym where you heave weights around until you pass out.
  • There are certain aspects of work that I find annoying, which I guess is true for everyone. I’m not very patient with bureaucracy.
  • Being in an actual relationship for the first time since 2010 brings its own rewards and challenges. On the rewards side, it is a warm and mutually beneficial social exchange, we are genuinely fond of each other and my house is clean all the time. On the challenges side, I picked someone highly intelligent and observant who notices everything and is very interested in getting to know me. This is unnerving because it is something I haven’t experienced for a long time. Usually, my relationships involve making sure the other person is kept at a distance. We don’t discuss deep, personal topics. I discourage personal remarks and they don’t ask penetrating questions. We keep things light and cheerful. I now realise that I haven’t let anyone get to know me well for several years. I just don’t let people get that close. Also, it’s conceivable that I might be a bit crazy. You don’t notice this as much if you don’t let people in.

So that’s why I’m grumpy today. When I’m in a better mood, I actually have some nice photos to show you, but they will have to wait. Let’s have a tune instead. This is 90s rap artist, Da Brat. In this beautiful video, many famous singers and rappers of the era come together for a party and to see her perform. The vibe is gentle and everyone is happy. For me, the most special and poignant moment is at 1:26, where the late Biggie Smalls, arguably the greatest rapper of all time, arrives with four of his honeys, affectionately holding two of them by the hand. He was always a ladies’ man. Precious moments in rap history. Biggie died of fatal gunshot wounds three years later, in 1997, aged 24. If I could choose between having Princess Diana come back from the dead or Biggie Smalls, I would choose Biggie.

Da Brat: Give It 2 You (1994)

Kew Gardens

I went to Kew Gardens with Harry because we are dating now and we go out and do things around London. Here are some photos of the gardens.

Tree House

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The Japanese Garden

The Palm House

The Hive

Other Gardeny Things Around Kew

It was a very sweet date. We’ve had 9 dates now.

I am enjoying getting to know him. We talk a lot as we walk around London and look at plants and suchlike. I can’t quite believe it is going so well. Usually at this point, fatal flaws would have started to appear, but no. We draw close to one another. He’s funny and very clever and he’s affectionate. He’s free from cynicism. He seems to have no hang-ups. I really like him.

My house remains in a spotless condition. This relationship is certainly proving to be good for raising standards of housework chez Gloria as I am cleaning twice a week.

I am wearing a lot of dresses. I am fatter than usual and I am slightly panicking about it but of course not taking enough action except for buying a NutriBullet, of which more another time. Harry and I went to visit my gym together, for a look round and to see about guest memberships for him. I really need him to encourage me into responsible behaviour because otherwise I will die at my own hand. I am profligate and I smoke too much and I don’t go to the gym enough. Harry is more careful about money than I am, disapproves of smoking, approves of going to the gym and thinks getting some exercise makes for a nice date. I kind of want him to save me from myself before I have an early heart attack. This is a lot of responsibility for a 24-year-old, on the other hand I am reminded of a former friend, Salim, who did much the same thing. He had a bit of a wild side, recreationally speaking and had all sorts of bad, unhealthy habits that were destined to kill him. In his late 40s he realised the kinds of risks he was taking with his health and promptly married an Eastern European girl who was half his age, whom he credits with cleaning up his lifestyle and extending his life. So. I think it’s not uncommon for a certain type of man to take a young wife for these types of reasons.

The other day I wanted to chat to Fyodor but I could not hang around online because Harry was expected at my house. I said to Fyodor, “I feel like I am cheating on him because I really love you”. “Haha, yes you are cheating”, he replied, and then “I want you to stay”. But I did not stay. He had to wait until the following evening for more attention. If this relationship with Harry continues on its current trajectory, I could see the day arriving when I tell Fyodor that I don’t have the emotional spoons for him any more, and that will be something, as his beauty eclipses any other beauty I’ve ever seen.

I will report more news as it happens.

ShimmerLuxe

I need to talk about beauty products again. As you may remember from my recent post concerning luxury soap, I’ve been working on commercial projects that involved gourmet soap and premium shower gel, body lotion, body butter and related categories such as shampoo. This has caused a lot of these products to cross my path. As a result of this, I have a new favourite brand. I am genuinely so excited about this brand, as you can tell by the fact that I hardly ever promote brands and products on The Life You Want. The fact that it’s making TLYW news lets you know it is something special.

ShimmerLuxe is a new British business based in Darlington, in the north of England. The woman behind the business is Victoria McKone and she makes products by hand and retails them via Etsy.

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I tried Victoria’s Whipped Soap in two flavours: Clementine Jelly and Chocolate Truffle. It thoroughly delighted me and then I discovered the Body Butter in flavours Cafe Caramel and Sugared Almond.

When I opened these jars of product, three things made me fall in love immediately. Firstly, the smell is divine. This stuff smells like real, fresh food. The clementine and chocolate smell fresh and delicious, good enough to eat right out of the jar. The caramel is rich and satisfying. The sugared almond is a heavy scent while still in the jar but lasts on the skin with a subtle, light, powdery, sugary fragrance.

The second thing that appealed to me was the look of the product. Both soap and butter look like ready-to-eat desserts. This is neither a heavy, solid block of soap nor a bottle of runny lotion. The products look like whipped cream or butter, ready to eat.

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The third thing was the texture, wow. These are very dense, rich products. You push your finger into the virgin swirls of creamy soap and scoop out a little to use. They are both firm, the body butter a little firmer than the soap. An incredibly satisfying consistency; heavy, slightly resistant, the butter is almost slightly crumbly under pressure and when kept cool. I love to keep body butters in the fridge, especially in hot summer weather. Cooling them to a firm consistency also makes them last longer, because I don’t scoop so much out of the jar. ShimmerLuxe butter seems to respond better to being cooled in the fridge than any other brand that I’ve tried. In a moment of unusual lucidity, I installed a fridge in the bedroom. A small one, a bar fridge. For San Pellegrino and body butter. That’s all it stocks. I am so impressed with myself sometimes.

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I road-tested the ShimmerLuxe products. I’ve been using them anyway but I’ve just taken a shower with Chocolate Truffle soap and Cafe Caramel body butter for the purposes of this review.

Whipped Soap. The chocolate smell is gorgeous. The key thing with this product is the silky smooth way it is going to slide on to your skin, so don’t use one of those nylon shower puffs. Use your hands or smear a dollop on to a sponge and don’t let it absorb into the sponge too much before applying. Feels like silk. Silk and chocolate in the shower, what could be more indulgent.

Body Butter. My skin cannot get enough of this stuff. It comes out of the jar so heavy and rich, more solid than liquid, but my skin drinks it up. After use, my skin is moist, soft and smells like caramel.

Victoria, please make face masks and hair masks!

I was so excited about ShimmerLuxe that I contacted Victoria to ask her some questions about the products and brand.

Victoria, what inspired you to start your own brand of body care products?

I’ve always loved being in the water – bath times especially. Having dry skin and bouts of eczema however, meant that bath times were full of depressing prescription products. A few years ago I narrowed my problem dry skin down to SLS, a particularly harsh foaming agent, so it goes without saying it’s not in any of my products! As I got older I decided I was going to go into the beauty industry and run my own little business; with a passion for natural nails in particular. I’ve always enjoyed making a mess really – whether its baking, going a bit mad with the glitter on a client’s nails, or tinkering about making lotions and potions.
I already have one job that I love that’s pretty flexible, so being able to create and sell something else that I’m passionate about is fabulous.

Which are your best selling items and what do customers like about them?

So far customer favourites seem to be the Whipped Body Butters. A little goes a long way, they are super nourishing for the skin & they smell delicious! The body butters are closely followed by Bath products. My personal favourite products are the Buttercream Bath Truffles, which are a mildly fizzy nourishing bath bomb. They are intended to be chopped in half so you get 2 uses from them but sometimes I’m a bit greedy and pop a whole one in the bath when I’m in a bit of a rush, I don’t feel I need to moisturise afterwards that way.

What do you wish people knew about ShimmerLuxe products? What would you like to tell them?

All our products are handmade by me to strict EU regulations and assessed by a cosmetic chemist, Products are tested, tweaked and tested again by myself and some very willing victims. And (Most importantly to me) all our products are SLS free!

Do you have any new products in the pipeline that we should look forward to?

Definitely more bath products, they are my favourite to use and my favourite to make, it’s really messy and you get the chance to be a bit more creative with shapes and colours. I’m also going to be bringing out a couple of body oils – I have a beautiful tuberose fragrance that would be just perfect in something like that.

You’re a woman who is running her own business and actively making the life she wants – what would you say to other women who are wondering if they can start small businesses or make other positive changes in their lives?

On building a business I think it’s so important to have done the right research, in the products themselves, the legal requirements, etc. You don’t have to start big but I feel it’s so important for everything to be cohesive. I think you can build a better brand if everything matches to an extent; it’s all in the details!. Life is hectic and can carry you away sometimes, so I think its vital to take time to slow down and reconnect with yourself. Having a bath is a chance to peel off your old skin and start afresh. Very important for body and mind.

ShimmerLuxe is at Etsy.com. Bar fridge not included.