Sunday, October 29, 2017

My vintage afternoon tea and homemade snacks

A vintage tea time is likely the most elegant and calming act on a cozy afternoon. Especially fall is the season of long walks in the cooler air, books and tea.
How we experience a tea culture is defined by the many ways tea is prepared and consumed in different parts of the world. And this is also what allows us to interact in a refined manner, that can often build a bridge between cultures over a hot, aromatic beverage.
The diverse traditions are also accompanied by either savoury, or sweet goods. Which can mean English scones and cucumber sandwiches over a cup of Earl Grey, or a Masala Chai with spicey lentil fritters in India.
No matter where the tea time is held though, people all over the world not only cherish this tradition because of simply consuming nutrients. It is even more than a breakfast or dinner after a long, stressful day. It’s quality time. It cheers you up on a grey, depressing day. It provides the frame for a welcoming atmosphere for your friends and is a silent party that lets the mind wander.

Handmade vintage teapot made in Lübeck, Germany

To me, the process of making tea is almost meditative. To find the right tea and perfect flavour, can take a long time. But once the choice is made, the scent of the leaves and spices is already a joy. And I am sure, even for the reluctant tea-naysayer, there is a brew out there that will make you fall in love with it.
My favorites are Chinese green tea in the morning (since I reduced my coffee intake enormously) and often masala chai or mate in the afternoon. Yerba mate is the national drink of some countries in South America. Argentina for example.
Russians often serve Zavarka, a strong tea prepared in a separate tea pot and enjoyed in often several rounds.
Also fennel / anis / caraway and sometimes black tea, are on my list every week.
I also rarely use tea bags. What I prefer is loose-green that I simply put in the teapot without any filter and then just use a strainer to pour it into a cup.
Green tea is widely considered one of the healthiest options and is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. It contains bioactive compounds that can have various beneficial effects on health.
Black is -according to several sources- the most processed tea. Although I still enjoy a cup once in a while, I have learned that green has a better impact on my energy level and mental well-being.
Another interesting variation is Mint tea, often enjoyed in Morocco. The hot beverage is such a strong part of the Moroccan culture, that a day without it seems unlikely.
To find my very own favourites of snacks to enjoy with my tea, I came across so many nice variations of baked goods and spicy bits to nosh on, that I couldn’t press them all into a simple post. But in this vintage tea time- variation, I mostly rely on very simple, easy-to-make- recipes.
Since it is autumn in my hemisphere, the apples in my neighbours' garden were perfect for my cinnamon curd rolls with apple pieces. Since I don’t eat much sugar, I let the fruit, cinnamon and vanilla unfold the sweetness, while cutting the amount of refined sugar.
The recipe is one of my favourites and I hope you enjoy them just as much as my loved ones and I.
Bottoms up!

Friday, October 27, 2017

A retro outfit in autumn colors

Although Northern Germany is not exactly known for its ‘Indian Summer’, there is no reason to avoid the colors of one of the- in my personal opinion- most beautiful seasons.
I see the black and grey jackets in the city. The used-look-jeans and sling bags, worn slantwise, as if everyone is wearing seat belts.
There is of course nothing wrong with all that, only that its simply a mishmash of dull, dark colors, when nature actually calls for some warm and shiny notes!
This means, spicy, soft and mellow tones. All in warm shades that seem to gleam at the same time.
Warmer purples, soft and olive greens, rusty reds and powdery blues.
For example, I recently enjoyed wearing a vintage swing skirt in all the beautiful fall shades, that I combines with a blouse in a warm, spicy yellow and a cardigan for the chilly afternoon.
On a sunny, almost still warm October day, it made me feel like it’s late summer again. A vintage leather purse and shoes in a matching color, completed the outfit.
The jewelry too was a mix of new and old. I wore 1950s earrings in gold and purple. The necklace in a leaf-design was a find in a costume jewelry store in New York City and one of my dearest travel souvenirs.
Even if I already can feel the harsh winter lurking just around the corner, I enjoy every fall day that allows me to beat the greyish ambiance.

Similar skirts: High waist swing skirt at Topvintage
Woodland leaves swing skirt at Collectif

Simlar tops: Indonesian style blouses on Etsy

Similar cardigan: H&M fine knit cotton cardigan

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Rich Simplicity of Oils for Beautiful Skin

For many years, I used to rely on creams, lotions and fluids of all kinds and in all price ranges. Due to my skin disease, Psoriasis, I threw away half of the products over time, after noticing a change for the worse. The other half was as well stripped-down to a minimum of a moisturizer and occasionally a vitamin E capsule.
Oils were usually something that was either included in on of these products, or simply not the very first on my list of required ingredients. Since I‘ve learned early on, that oils cover the face like a blanket, make it incapable to ‚breathe‘, and cause breakouts. Now, I am one of the people who only has to look at a jar of skin cream and my epidermis seems to get highly emotional.
The use of foundation has been an interesting journey as well- to put it mildly- so I had to learn the hard way, that I‘ve learned a lot about skin, but not much about my own.
And that is where the illumination begins.
We don’t just all have different skin types, like dry, oily and so on. We all have different genes, lives, levels of stress to deal with, diets, health issues and live in different climates.
Yet, every week there is a new skin product globally hyped as the new holy grail of ointments, that allegedly frees us from the ongoing cycle of breakouts, patches and other unwanted skin attractions. I sure can understand these trends with clothes and other items. But when it comes to the individuality of our skin, it is simply counterproductive to believe or even claim that one solution applies to all. We don’t even stumble over this issue early, because there are enough waymarkers on the products that guide us to the lifting, boosting, filling, tightening, cleaning results we desire. And please don’t get me wrong, some of them are really good. They do their job perfectly on many people and I did come across a few products myself, that I would buy again any time. But the jungle of skin care products has become too difficult to cut across, without a little more knowledge about ones very own skin.
So I’ve decided to temporarily forget about everything I’ve ever heard about oils as a breakout-guarantor, and first gave coconut oil a try. My face wasn’t as delighted as the rest of my body. The moisturizing effects were better than expected, but my face area still tended to show a few impurities. For others, it works beautifully on the face too. (See, individuality)
As a body oil- including neck and chest- it worked wonders. It was soothed from the very first week I applied it on the red, sore psoriasis patches, kept me from scratching and made my skin finally feel soft again.
I blame the alcohol in some of the body lotions I had used previously, for the always tender and way too dry skin. That problem is now a thing of the past.
After weeks of research, I’ve decided to give pure, sweet almond oil a try and used it generously on my face at night. After I’ve cleaned my face with a cleansing milk, warm water and- attention- coconut oil(!) with a washcloth, I massage it into the still dampish skin and the result is amazing until this day.
My skin looks tighter, the impurities seem to have gotten tired of turning my face into a dance floor, plus my pores are smaller. Which gives altogether the impression of a much better skin than I’ve ever had. Since I had my oil-epiphany, I as well use the almond oil in the morning, after cleaning my face with water. I let it set for the time I have breakfast and then apply my makeup.
On top of all that, it is a good feeling to know that there is no animal testing or usage of animal products involved. Which is to me personally, a very nice aspect.
The simplicity of this beauty regimen is mind-boggling to me, since I always thought it takes a ton of (pricey) products to keep my skin from flipping out. But even when I am an advocate of glamour- in this case, less is truly more.
Preparing my skin for the harsh winter makes me feel more secure when I’m going on my usual long walks on the beach. Knowing, that my skin is protected by the oils.
During winter, I like to add a drop of wheat germ oil at night with the almond oil, for that extra vitamin treat.
As one of the many people with a beauty- Youtube-channel, I am extremely cautious about suggesting products to my viewers. Simply because I don’t know if it could work for others too. (The one-solution-may-not-be-for-all-scenario)
But, what I hope is, that everyone who struggles to find their right products for several skin issues, might open their mind for simplicity and tries, that may not stand in every beauty book. As long as it is pure and natural, like oils, and even organic, it might be worth trying it. Even if it's just for a while, to give the skin a break from dealing with too much product.
Brands are of course different in many countries, but it is sure no problem to find oil, without any
My personal favorites are the Bergland Mandelöl, the Kneipp Mandelblüten Hautzart, the native vegan Kokosöl DM (drugstore) and the Wheatgerm Lipigran Weizenkeimöl by Dr. Grandel.

Organic Coconut Oil
- contains fatty acids (medium chain triglycerides)
- firm texture that melts at 24 °C (76 °F) and quickly in the hand.
- easily seeps into the skin pores.
- takes a little while to be absorbed. Leaves a soft and very reserved scent of coconut.
- is a great makeup remover
- is allegedly a mild sunscreen, which has not been verified in studies as far as I know.

Organic Sweet Almond Oil
- liquid oil texture
- is rich of vitamin E, zinc, fatty acids, proteins and minerals
- is a mild hypoallergenic oil
- easily penetrates deeply into the skin
- helps with blackheads
- may help with acne
- helps with dark under eye circles
- brings relief with eczema / proriasis

Wheat Germ Oil
- liquid oil texture, yellow color
- effective moisturizer
- contains vitamin A, vitamin D, B vitamins and antioxidants

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A rainy day sixties style

This autumn starts quite stormy in Germany, which requires the vintage gal to be prepared for a few more days (and months) of rougher walks through the parks. To me, jeans are never an option, so I grab my Bexleys trousers and make the black and white theme complete, with a turtle neck, a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. The 1960s inspired style also gets me to enjoy my beloved Cloony jacket, that is not too warm for these days, yet works as a rain coat for me too. I like the simplicity of the look, that is wearable with flats, as I wear here, but just as well with heels.
My hair is gathered in a bun that shall keep the hair out of my face while walking goal-driven against the wind. Thinking: Autumn, here I come!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Superfood Pomegranate

Although I am not a fan of studies, which tend to regularly get refuted, or apply as outdated, I can't imagine that the ones that claimed pomegranates (punica granatum) to be among the healthiest foods on earth, will ever be debunked. Even though there is still relatively limited research data.
Looking like the apple’s eccentric twin, the pomegranate belongs to the family of berries. It’s seeds- called arils- are crunchy, sweet and make the perfect addition in any healthy dessert, or interesting side dish.
Based on excavations of the early Bronze Age, it is believed that the pomegranate was one of the first cultivated fruits. Aside from the great taste and wonderful color, it has inflammatory effects, which is one of the reasons I put this little sweetheart antioxidant on my personal top-list of ‘superfoods‘.
As a long time Psoriasis patient, I couldn’t praise it enough, as a method to reduce the inflammatory activity in my body. It helps to go against my joint pain, especially during the colder, damp months of the year and if I may trust the studies I‘ve read about, the pomegranate is a little fighter against the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer and fungal infections.
Now, when it comes to the well-known claims that a type of superfood may be actually able to cure diseases, I am the first sceptic that rolls her eyes. Haven’t there been too many people, who followed self-proclaimed health gurus and overstuffed themselves with a single food group, while wondering about sudden blurred vision and other side effects.
Personally, I believe in the regulation of all things, including food intake. Eating in moderation and as unprocessed as possible, has turned out to be the way for me.
As for the skin, pomegranate makes a partner in crime against early signs of aging and in the improvement of our biggest organ.
Even it’s inedible peel contains the precious antioxidants and works as a great moisturizer.
Altogether, my favorite apple-sister (as I called it as a child), will definitely be on my food-shopping list for a long, long time.

I regularly enjoy the seeds with some Greek yoghurt and a spoon of honey. It makes a satisfying dish when the munchies stop by and a piece of chocolate just doesn’t do the trick.