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Easy Gift Wrapping ideas

By December 12, 2019 EVENTS, IN THE MEDIA, INSPIRATION
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Today’s post is brought to you by our graphic designer, Alicia, also known as the Queen of DIY. If you love buying Christmas presents but hate having to wrap them, her tips on gift wrapping will be just what you need to create gifts that are so beautiful they won’t want to open them!

 

Alicia

Hi Everyone,

If I had to give one piece of advice when wrapping presents it would be to not get too worried about it. I would say the majority of people are just glad to be receiving a gift and won’t be too critical of your wrapping. Having said that, it is very nice to receive a beautifully presented gift, so I’ve tried to focus on a few ways to approach gift wrapping that will hopefully have a little something for everyone’s tastes and needs.

General tips on gift wrapping

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Choose quality wrapping paper to avoid rips and tears to the paper. Thicker paper tends to be more durable.

I recommend using your imagination and go one step further than just wrapping paper. An extra touch like ribbon, twine, string, feathers, or tiny ornaments can add lots of texture and interest to your wrapped gift. The possibilities are endless but adding these items can elevate your gift from an ordinary looking gift to something quite special.

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Image from: Half Baked Harvest

If you’re using tape, let it only be clear adhesive tape. Nothing is worse than a gift wrapped with brown tape!

Use natural elements

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One of my favourite things to do when gift wrapping is to incorporate natural elements into the wrapping. I find this to be a very pretty, inexpensive way to prepare gifts. Dried leaves, acorns or sprigs of fir and holly give such a beautiful touch to a present. If using these items I tend to stick with simple, plain wrapping paper so that the natural elements really stand out. To make it extra Christmasy, I often include dried fruit and spices such as dried oranges and cinnamon as they give off such a warming, cosy scent.

Do the world some good and recycle

As lovely and festive as Christmas is, it is also a time of huge waste and consumerism. An good way to tackle this is to be creative and recognise that there are lots of ways to reuse items in your home to create beautiful wrapping for your gifts.

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• Newspaper is one of the best examples of this. Collect old newspapers you have lying around the house and use this to replace traditional wrapping paper. If you want to spruce it up a bit, you can paint shapes on to the newspapers in traditional red or gold colours and wrap it with ribbon.

Box-Wrap

• Fabric scraps are another excellent and novel gift wrapping idea. Old cushion cover fabric or printed scarves can make the most beautiful wrapping. Wrap up your gift in the fabric and tie with ribbon or why not delve further into the world of craft and try out the Japanese art of fabric wrapping called Furoshiki.

 

Dealing with awkward shapes

Sometimes your presents don’t come in the most wrapping conducive shapes, for example a sports equipment or a teddybear. One of the easiest ways to deal with those oddly shaped presents is to use a box. Any box will do, ones with lids tend to be nicer, but even a cardboard box would work because you can decorate the outside. Some ideas for decorating a plain box could be, wrapping the entire box with wrapping paper orwrapping  it with a huge ribbon which will make such a statement under a Christmas tree.

 

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If you’re determined to that wrap that present with wrapping paper, there are lots of tutorials on the web showing step by step instructions to some of the most common, awkward shapes. I found this website helpful in the past.

Well, I hope that these ideas have been helpful and given you some new ideas to add to your gift wrapping skills for Christmas and beyond.  Giving gifts is an act of love and care for people in your life and it is so nice to create a moment of pleasure and enjoyment for another when they receive a beautifully wrapped gift. Good luck with the wrapping!

Happy holidays to you all!

Alicia xx

 

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Winter Recipes

By November 15, 2019 Editor's Picks, INSPIRATION
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When the darkness settles in for much of the cold weather months, food can be a soothing and revitalising source of comfort. It can also be an excellent way to keep the body in tip top shape to fend off the winter bugs that make us all miserable with colds and flus. Below are a few of our favourite recipes to see us through the winter months. We’ve chosen a mixture of recipes that are known for their warming qualities but are also great for nutrition and diet. If you try out any of the recipes, do let us know in the comments section below.

 

 

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1. Heart warming lentil and sweet potato soup

There is nothing quite like a warming soup to have on a cold, winter’s evening. The sweet potato and lentil pairing makes for a filling meal while the spices and chilli will definitely bring the heat into your mid winter’s night.

  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 ½ cups green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsps curry powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (leave out if preferred)
  • ½ teaspoon paprika,
  • 1 tsp tumeric turmeric
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  •  2 ½ cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

Add the sweet potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, garlic, lentils, spices, and 6 cups of broth into a large pot. Bring the pot to a boil then put on the lid and cook  for 1 1/2 hours on a low heat setting.  Ensure the lentils are thoroughly cooked. To thicken the soup, spoon out half the contents and place in a blender. Allow to cool and then blend till smooth. Add the pureed contents back into the pot and stir until well combined and thoroughly heated. Add the chopped spinach and serve piping hot for a  soup that feels real good for the soul! You can add a dollop of greek yoghurt to cut some of the spices and serve with a piece of chunky bread.

 

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2. Beef and Guiness Stew with Dumplings

The ultimate in comfort food, this stew brings all the elements of the countryside to your home. The dumplings are soft and delicious and complement the beef perfectly.

  • 1kg beef, cut into 1.5 inch chunks
  • 200g onions chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 500ml Guinness
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 125gm self-raising flour
  • 60g beef suet
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100 gm cheddar cheese grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley roughly chopped

To make the dumplings, mix together the flour, cheese and suet making sure they are well combined. Create a well in the middle of your mixture, adding the egg yolk, parsley, and a pinch of pepper. Add in 2 tbsp of water, and mix all ingredients together gently into a dough. The dough needs to be firm yet can still be moulded easily into eight dumplings. Add a little more water if needed. When you have your dumplings, cover and place in the fridge to cool.

Heat your oven to 160C. Pour some oil into a pan and lightly brown the meat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and stir well. Stir flour and seasoning into the mixture then follow with adding the stock and Guinness. When the liquid has started to gently bubble, pour everything into a casserole dish, cover and place in the oven for 2 and 1/2 hrs or until the meat is tender. The dumplings should be placed on top of your stew about 25 minutes before the casserole should come out. Leave the lid off for the last 10 minutes so the dumplings brown nicely.  Serve this dish piping hot!

 

 

Lamb

3. Lamb Tagine

Succulent lamb paired with the sweetness of apricots and dates will leave your mouth watering for more.

  • 2½lb lamb shoulder, in 2 inch cubes
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves  crushed garlic
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 100gm dried apricots roughly chopped
  • 50gm raisins
  • 50gm dates roughly chopped
  • 85gm of chopped almonds
  • 3 cups lamb stock
  • 2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
  • black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Heat some oil in a casserole dish and brown the lamb cubes well then set aside. In a frying pan, lightly sauté garlic, onion and carrots until golden brown.  Stir in the spices and tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Pour these ingredients back into the casserole dish together with the lamb adding the dates, apricots and raisins. Pour over the stock, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Place a lid over the dish and cook in the oven for 1 hr or until the lamb falls apart with a fork. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and almonds on top. If desired, this dish goes well with a serving of couscous.

 

glogg

Glogg

A delicious, sweet and aromatic drink which will warm your insides and bring peace and comfort as the aroma of spices wafts through your house.

  • 1 sweet orange
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 200g  sugar
  • 17 cardamom pods
  • cloves
  • 5 star aniseed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 slices peeled ginger
  • 150ml vodka
  • 50g  sultanas & 50g flaked almonds for garnish

In a large pot, pour in your bottle of red wine and add the zest of an orange along with the sugar, ginger and spices. Allow to simmer on a low heat, being careful to not let the liquid come to the boil. After 10 minutes, stir in the vodka and juice of the orange. Serve warm in a mug with flakes almonds and sultanas as garnish if desired.

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The History of Cashmere

By November 5, 2019 FASHION, IN THE MEDIA, INSPIRATION, Travel
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Cashmere has a long history going back many hundreds of years. The origins of this natural fibre comes from the cold, mountainous regions of China, Mongolia, India, Turkey and Afghanistan. For centuries, local people sought the hircus goats for the fibres of their coats that were long, silky soft and warm to help the animals survive the harsh conditions of winter. The fibres were combed off the goats and made into blankets that were prized for their superb warming ability. Early written accounts in the 15th century, describe the high quality of fibre from the kashmir goats of the Kashmir region. Thus the name Kashmir stuck and for many years Kashmir yarn was traded within the region.

Fast forward to the 18th century and the rise of the Imperial powers. Traders brought kashmir items back along the Silk Road from China to Europe and the Americas bringing much excitement. Initially kashmir was available exclusively to royalty and the elite members of society. It was considered the height of luxury and cashmere shawls or ‘pashminas’ particularly were a symbol of status and the pinnacle of a fashionable aristocratic woman. Even Napoleon was reputed to gift his wife Empress Josephine pashminas leading to a large and famous collection of pashminas.

The story of cashmere was advanced considerably, when in the 19th century interest by European manufacturers turned to creating mechanisms that could replicate the production of cashmere fibres into yarn as was witnessed in the East. Areas such as Scotland became powerhouses of cashmere production and a new era for cashmere was born. Cashmere rapidly gained popularity, particularly the cashmere sweater and twin set, sweater and cardigan- items that everyone wanted to have and show off. This would have perhaps continued, however popularity began to dwindle during the 1980s when cashmere was appropriated by high end designer brands who marketed cashmere as a luxury, highly expensive quality only accessible to the ultra wealthy.

In the last 15 years, cashmere has seen yet another shift, appearing on the high street for much lower prices. The proliferation of cashmere has meant a renewed increase in popularity, however mass production has also meant it is difficult to ascertain quality. There are now many brands claiming to sell cashmere, however the product is in reality a blend of cashmere and other fibres to achieve an inexpensive product or a lower grade, short haired cashmere item.

It is clear that cashmere has had many twists and turns in its history and it is hard to say what will be the next chapter for this yarn especially with the rise of mass production of the quality. What do you think? Do you own any cashmere? We are probably a bit biased here at Les 100 Ciels, but we do believe there isn’t anything quite like 100% pure cashmere-it is so soft and comforting to the touch and its warming qualities are undeniable- it is truly something to cherish..

Want to learn more about cashmere quality? Read more about this exquisite yarn here.

 

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Winter Style

By October 25, 2019 FASHION, INSPIRATION
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Sometimes when the weather is grey and freezing cold, the last thing on your mind is looking fashionable. It may seems a better idea to stay indoors hiding under a blanket and if you have to go out, you contemplate taking the blanket with you! Winter style doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. We’ve got a few tips to see you through the winter months looking your best.

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Our number one tip is to invest in warm  jumpers. With the arrival of fast fashion, lots of cute and cheap styles are available but while they might be nice to look at, they probably won’t last the winter and they definitely won’t help keep off the winter chill. Instead, invest in high quality fibres which are known to be warming like wool and cashmere. These are made of long natural fibres which work to retain the heat close to the body. We also recommend going for some classic colours such as grey, navy or black. These can act as the foundation of your wardrobe and be easily matched with other items of clothing.

Long John Parade

Our next tip is thermals. You would be forgiven if thermals bring to mind 1940s men wearing longjohns- not the most attractive thought! But it’s fair to say that thermal garments have come a long way and new technology means there are lots of great options on the market. They can be worn as tights or a worn under a chunky jumper for a layered look. Thermals also come in lots of colours so you can add a pop of colour to your look while keeping very warm. Yay!

coat

Probably one of the easiest ways to look fashionable without making much effort is investing in outerwear. The options are plenty- from puffer jackets to trench coats, coatigans (yes, that’s a real thing! It’s a mix of a cardigan and a coat),and there are plenty of long and short coats in unique cuts to suit all women. The key is to think about your lifestyle and your particular style. If you work in a corporate environment, a good choice for you might be a longline, classic coat that can be versatile but still look smart for formal occasions. However if you spend a lot of time outdoors you probably will be looking for something that’s more waterproof and warming!

 

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Next up, footwear. The lack of weather appropriate footwear is the downfall to many fashionable women. There is nothing as horrible as looking fabulous but having soaking wet and freezing feet- a reality for a lot of women in UK. We believe there is sweet balance to be found with a fashionable shoe that also works practically for your needs. A knee high boot is stylish and can elevate an outfit, but so can a patent brogue. It all depends on the weather where you live and your taste! Having a few pairs of shoes to choose from is a good idea to mix and match your looks.

 

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Finally accessories are your best friend in the winter. When you are bundled up from head to toe, sometimes an accessory is just the thing to lift an entire outfit. We take the term accessory to have a broad meaning covering jewellery to hat, scarves, belts, bags, even an umbrella. Try a few ideas out and don’t be afraid of experimenting!

Have you get any tips for fabulous winter style? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

 

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Autumn Playlist 2019

By October 11, 2019 IN THE MEDIA, INSPIRATION
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Are you looking for some music to take you through autumn? Browse our chilled Autumn playlist for our favourite music to listen to on cosy evenings or lazy weekends, featuring new releases and some of our of older loves.

Listen to the playlist here

1. Drive by Oh Wonder
2. Autumn Leaves by Ed Sheeran
3. Youth by Daughter
4. Shadow Children by Mindy Gledhill
5. Lionhearted by Billie Marten
6. River by Leon Bridges
7. Atlas Hands by Benjamin Francis Leftwich
8. Pretty Thoughts by Galimatias, Alina Baraz
9. Ophelia by The Lumineers
10. Heart’s on Fire by Passenger

What’s your favourite songs to listen to during the autumn months?

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City Break: Krakow

By September 27, 2019 Editor's Picks, INSPIRATION, Travel
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Krakow is below the radar for many people as a city break but that is soon to change. With cheap flights on airlines like EasyJet or Ryanair, this is the place to visit before it gets too popular. Here are our top  reasons to visit Krakow soon!

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Architecture

Krakow is Poland’s 2nd largest city with a long history. It is known for its medieval architecture that is largely intact, particularly that of the Old Town and main medieval square Rynek Glowny. A walk here is to step back in time to the 12th century and explore one of the few examples of urban planning to survive the toil of time. Architectural gems through the baroque and renaissance periods also exist, so a walking tour of the city is highly recommended to truly get a feel for this city’s history.

Restaurantes da Kazmierz

A Slice of History

Krakow is truly a slice of history. During WW2, the Nazis occupied Krakow and made the city its base. Many tourists use the city as a stepping stone for a visit to Auschwitz, the site of infamous WW2 tragedy about an hour’s drive outside of Krakow. A tour there is a sobering affair but the guides are respectful and informative. The Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz was abandoned after WW2, but recent developments have seen the area move into a new trendy, cultural scene. A visit here is worthwhile while the older buildings and cobbled streets are still intact to give a sense of how the Jews lived their daily lives.

Also a visit to Nowa Huta will give you some insight into the height of Communist rule. Built by the Soviet Union, the buildings are a true example of proletarian life in that period.

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The Food

One of the better kept secrets about Poland is its food. There is much more than sausages to be discovered. Try pierogies, delicious dumplings with fillings that will leave you eager for more. For something more warming, we recommend, Bigos, which is a stew made from cabbage and meat or barszcz,  a warm beet soup. If you are visiting in the warmer months, do try oscypek, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese that is very tasty.  There are lots of eateries for all budgets so our best advice is to be open minded and just try things! You might be surprised by what you discover- after all good things like the bagel originated from Poland!

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The Nightlight

If a tipple after dark is your thing, then Krakow is the place to be. With a large university community, Krakow is reputed to have the highest density of bars of any city, there is something for everyone. Many drinking establishments are to be underground, literally.  In Krakow in cellars that are full of atmosphere. If you prefer to be outdoors, there are also historic courtyards converted into bars and more modern venues pumping out cocktails to fulfill every hedonist’s dream. Try a glass of Soplica, Poland’s oldest vodka, or one of the flavoured varieties of the spirit that have become popular recently.

What are your travel plans for the coming months? Let us know where you go!

 

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