Unique cake decorating techniques for the perfect spring bake.
Baker and cake decorator extraordinaire, Lily Vanilli has been wowing customers at her East London bakery with her naturally delectable designs. Boasting the best bakewell in town, the shop on Columbia Road opens solely on Sundays, offering Lily’s stand-out bakes and a cosy vintage-feel interior to enjoy them in. Cakes feature fresh flowers, fruits and nuts as her decoration techniques focus on putting nature firmly at the helm.
In this easy to follow guide, Lily shows us how to make crystallised spring flowers, perfect for giving your Easter cake that extra wow factor. She also shares her thoughts on traditional Easter baking and her top picks from our Kitchen collection.
“For the first time in recent memory, April actually feels like the start of spring and not a stretch into the abyss from the previous winter to the next one. The sun is out (mostly), the flowers are blooming at the right times and the first spring crops have been healthy. This is good news for the pastry chef, who looks forward to this time of year when some of the best fruit and edible flowers are on their way into season.
As traditional Easter baking (bunnies, eggs, chicks) has never really been my thing I have been busying myself with crystallising the first crop of edible spring flowers. If done carefully enough (it can be painstaking work, though the kind many bakers enjoy, myself included) they will last up to a year. Store them airtight in a cool place and make sure they are fully sugar coated.
Use them fresh or crystallised to decorate cakes and pastries for a really pretty spring look with subtle, fresh flavours.”
Some lovely edible flowers out now include:
Viola and cultivated/wild primrose
To crystallise a handful of edible flowers you will need:
1–2 egg whites, loosened with a few drops of water (approximately 4 drops per white)
Small bowl of caster sugar
One baking tray, lined
Fine, clean paintbrush, not used for anything besides food
1. Clip the flower stems as close to the base as possible and snip away the sepals (the green pockets on the back of the flower). Place a flower on your prepared tray and use the paintbrush to coat with the egg white, making sure you are thorough. Brush away any excess egg white. Hold the flower by what’s left of the stem over the sugar bowl and sprinkle generously with sugar. Turn it over and shake gently to release any excess sugar.
2. Do the same for the back of the flower, making sure the entire flower is coated. Place it face up on the baking tray. Repeat with the other flowers, and when you are done, put them in a cool, dry, dark place overnight or until the flowers feel crisp to the touch. Store them in an airtight container.
Lily’s Baking Picks:
Shop Lily’s top three kitchen picks from our inspirational Baking Essentials edit and kit yourself out like a pro. From the all important wooden spoon, to recipes from the Peruvian Kitchen, these pieces will enhance any culinary collection.
1. Blue Six-Piece Enamel Prep Set by Falcon, £55.00
2. Olive Wood Spoon, £4.95
3. Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen, £25.00
Lily Vanilli’s first book, ‘Sweet Tooth’ will be available from the Liberty Home department soon!
Share your Easter baking successes with us and Lily:
Twitter: @Libertylondon @lilyvanillicake
Instagram: @LibertyLondon @lily_vanilli_cake
Easter crafts with children’s accessories designer, Lisa Foreman
Children’s toys and accessories designer, Lisa Foreman, has put together an easy-to-follow guide to create your very own Liberty print rabbit, complete with pompom tail. Featured in issue 25 of inspirational sewing projects magazine, Mollie Makes, this design is the perfect past time for even novice sewers. Find out more about Lisa and follow her step-by-step tutorial below to fashion an adorable bunny friend in time for Easter.
Lisa’s enthusiasm for crafting began with lessons from her grandmother and aunt when she was eight. Since then she’s graduated from making a wardrobe of clothes for Strawberry Shortcake dolls to creating soft toys and homewares for her website, www.elske.co.uk. Particularly inspired by retro colours and Scandinavian design, she developed a range of animals and appliquéd pinafores after making a cat called Patch for her daughter.
Step by step instructions
Here’s an easy-make wabbit with lots of character. Stitch with some leftover fabric or maybe that special piece you’ve been dying to use for a while. Change his expression by tweaking his mouth, whiskers, or the angle of his ears.
1. Use one fabric for the body and a coordinating fabric for the arms, legs and ears. Fold the fabrics right sides (RS) together and then cut out your pieces using these templates. Do the same for your felt pieces.
2. Make a small pom-pom for the rabbit’s tail. A pom-pom maker is really handy but you could also use two ring-shaped pieces of cardboard. Leave the ends of the securing piece of cotton long as they’re used to attach the tail to the fabric. For a denser pom-pom, make a slightly larger one than is needed, then trim it to size.
3. Attach the pom-pom to one of the body pieces by using a needle to pull through each end of thread and secure tightly with a knot.
4. Sew the eyes and nose onto the other body piece using two strands of black embroidery thread. Use back stitch and the same embroidery thread to create the mouth and whiskers. This could be done freehand, or use a soluble embroidery pen to trace the design, and then embroider over the lines. A spray of water will eradicate any traces of the line.
5. Use two strands of white embroidery thread to sew a cross in the centre of each eye. This brings the face to life and gives your rabbit character. Machine sew or back stitch the felt pieces to the front body and ear pieces.
6. Place each set of ear, arm and leg pieces RS together. Pin or tack, then machine sew, leaving roughly 0.5cm seam allowance. Zig-zag stitch around each leg and arm to prevent fraying – remember to leave a gap for stuffing later on.
7. Turn each ear, arm and leg RS out (a chopstick, knitting needle or similar pointy tool is really helpful here) then press, turning the raw edges of the holes in neatly. Pressing makes it much easier to sew up the holes later on.
8. At the base of each ear, fold the outside edges into the centre and secure both sides together with a stitch (don’t worry, this will be removed later).
9. Arrange and pin the ears, arms and legs onto the front body piece, and tack into place. This stops the pieces from having a will of their own and moving when you sew the body pieces together.
10. Pin the body pieces, RS together, and machine sew leaving a 0.5cm seam allowance. Just like before when you were sewing the limbs together, make sure you leave a gap for both turning and stuffing. Then zig-zag stitch around the edge to prevent fraying, and trim any excess.
11. Turn RS out and cut away the tacking stitch on the ears.
12. Fill the arms, legs and body tightly with stuffing (your chopstick or knitting needle will come in handy again). Then fold the raw edges in and sew the holes up using blind stitch. Say hello to your finished rabbit!
Beauty journalist and founder of Legology, Kate Shapland, shares her tips on how to get rid of cellulite and have beautiful legs
Beauty Editor of The Telegraph Magazine, is an award-winning journalist with over 25 years of beauty writing experience. Her obsession with sculpting perfect legs, free of cellulite has seen her dedicate an entire blog on the subject as well as the launch of her first beauty product, Legology Air-Lite Daily Lift For Legs
- the new generation cream that lightens heavy legs, discourages cellulite and oedema while toning and tightening the entire leg from ankle to buttock.As one of our guest speakers at our in-store beauty event, What’s Your Issue, Kate spoke about her passion for legs and shared her knowledge on cellulite and tired legs with eager attendees in her special two-hour ‘Legathon’. If you missed the event you catch up on all of Kate’s most important notes and tips in today’s guest blog.Legs – My Passion
As some of you might know, I’m passionate about legs – their beauty and their wellbeing. I think our legs have had a rather poor deal in the beauty world up till recently. The market is flooded with products that aim to fight cellulite, but not a whole lot else. And as all women know, there is more to our legs – and the issues we have with them – than this. Legs get puffy – especially during pregnancy, hot weather and long haul flights. Legs can feel tender and sore – especially after exercising. Lower legs can feel achy and sore – especially if you’ve been on your feet all day. And don’t even get me onto the balls of your feet after an evening in high heels. Ankles can puff up. Skin can get dehydrated, scaly even, lose its tone and go goosepimply. Stretch marks can come and go, and come back again to stay. Varicose and spider veins can develop, seemingly overnight, often after pregnancy. There is a lot that can go wrong with our legs.First of all though, I’m going to ask you all to do yourselves all a few favours:
1. If you’re sitting with your legs crossed, uncross them! Constantly crossing your legs can impede blood flow and exacerbate varicose veins.
2. Slip off your heels – I know you’re dying to do it!
3. Now give yourself some leg room, raise your legs a little and point your toes; now flex your feet by pushing down with your heels. Try and keep doing this intermittently over the next half an hour, it will stimulate your circulation and lymph, and help energise your legs.
Cellulite – A Real Issue
An issue that affects up to 99% of us in differing stages and forms. You can have cellulite on your thighs, buttocks, hips, stomach and upper arms. You can also have it on your calves, around your knees, and even on your ankles. I can personally vouch for that. Nobody had heard of it till the early 80’s. Until then, women were blissfully unaware of this so-called beast from planet cling-on. They had no knowledge of it. It was just fat. Today, of course, we all know what it looks like, most of us know what it feels like, and many wonder whether it can be spirited away. Can it? Hmm. Well this is where things get interesting and frustrating. The thing about cellulite is that we all have it for different reasons. Cellulite is a collection of fat and fluid which manifests in its familiar lumpy bumpy way because of the way our fat cells sit. It’s more predominant in women because our fat cells lie horizontally; in men they are vertical.
There are, however, a few common denominators in the formation of cellulite: these are your sex, your genes and your lymph. If you are prone to cellulite, you can thank your parents – especially your mother! In addition to these influences, being overweight, having fluid retention and being sedentary – in other words sitting at your desk all day – all contribute to cellulite in individual ways. So to make a difference to cellulite you need to identify your enemies – be it a combination of genes and sitting at a desk all day or overeating – address that, and then some.
Over the past 20 odd years I’ve done more research into cellulite than any other beauty/wellbeing topic, and have concluded that while several factors contribute to cellulite, one in particular stands out. The lymph. People don’t often talk about the lymph. You usually read about the circulation, meaning blood flow – and indeed good circulation is integral to preventing cellulite. Lymph is rather different. Lymph is the fluid that flows through your lymphatic system, carrying away bacteria to the lymph nodes where it’s destroyed. When your lymph and blood circulation are sluggish your body, and particularly your legs because of gravity, can feel heavy and congested. Fluid can get trapped in and around the fat cells and this can cause puffiness, especially in areas of cellulite. Any of you who have tried high protein diets may have noticed that while you lose weight your cellulite often looks worse. This is because carbohydrate – starch – encourages the body to hold on to fluid, and when it’s released, cellulite areas become less plumped and the lumps appear more angular and obvious. And as lymph has no natural pump – it moves when you move – keeping it active is key to keeping your legs light and uncongested.
The solution then, if there is one for cellulite, but certainly where legs become heavy and feel tight and toxic, is to enhance the lymph and blood flow – to be active. Pump that circulation round – by any way, be it through good old exercise, massage or stimulation of any kind: this is why body brushing helps. If you want to improve your leg shape and health, try to do something everyday that activates the circulation: use a body brush in the shower, brushing from feet to knees, knees to thighs and over hips and buttocks. Always brush in a heartwards direction – up. Another excellent way to improve your circulation and skin tone is to spray your legs with intermittent blasts of warm and cold water with the shower head after a shower. Hard to do in the winter, easier in summer. Then apply your treatment cream or oil, massaging upwards again, from feet to knees, knees to thighs.
This is how I do it:
1. Begin at your feet and use your thumb to massage along the inside of your soles, across the bridge of your foot, and around the ankle. Use your thumbs as if you are pushing fluid around.
2. Work around your ankles and up your calves, using your thumbs to push upwards in lines, all round your shins and calves.
3. Massage around your knees; pinching the sides gently, kneading the backs to stimulate lymph – there are lymph nodes here.
4. Use your thumbs to push up the sides of your thighs, and then gently knead and pinch the sides.
5. If you have more time, focus on the Marma points on your legs and feet. These are areas on the body where flesh, veins, arteries, tendon, bones and joints meet. There are 22 points in total, 11 on each leg, and in Ayurvedic medicine stimulating them can help to ease congestion and enhance energy. Apply a little resting pressure to these areas:
- Centre front of thighs (urvi)
- Top of knee (ani)
- Lower point of knee cap (janu)
You can use an oil or cream to do this. I developed Legology Air-Lite Daily Lift For Legs specially to be used for massaging the legs, but also so it would absorb quickly and leave skin supple and scented with lemon. The whole point of my product is that it’s a joy to use, not a chore. Because I believe this is part of the science to good legs: the key is to be regular with your treatment – to enhance lymph and circulation regularly, so you need a cream that you love to use, so you want to use it everyday. Just as a bit of background, I developed this cream with powerful drainage qualities – two French complexes which promote lymph and help to flush excess fluid out, since I feel that the action of the lymph is key to good leg health and shape. I was inspired by a leg clinic I visited in Italy some years ago, by the elegant way they treated clients legs, the way they had thought through the diet. At this clinic, the detail was such that even the water you were given to drink had a special low dry residue, which means it had the least amount of unknown toxins in it. I felt that this detail and elegance was missing in the current leg care offering – everything we have is too practical, too much of a chore. I wanted to create a product that was uplifting in every sense – for your legs and your mind.
A Few Tips
• Puffy legs on a flight – always wear your flight socks, and put them on before you leave home. Point and flex your feet, just as you were doing earlier on, as often as you remember during the flight. Try to book a bulkhead seat, so you can stretch your legs out and raise them. Wear loose trousers – nothing that pinches or is tight around the ankle, knee or upper thigh.
• Seated at work – get up and walk around regularly, and point and flex your feet.
• Puffy legs in hot weather – lie flat on the floor, or your bed, and put your feet up against the wall at right angles for 10 minutes.
• Feeling bloated at the wrong time of the month – take a bath in Epsom or magnesium salts.
• Swollen feet – soak a towel in cold water, wring it out well, wrap it around your feet, and place them up against the wall at right angles.
Do your feet feel neglected? Are they looking a little worn and tired after a season of partying, strapped into four inch stilettos? Perhaps they’re about to make an appearance for a mid-winter sun break, or maybe you’re just concerned about their general well-being and state? For many of us, our feet are the centre of our happiness. If they’re not happy, our general mood and health can be affected. It’s no longer a case of going for a pedicure before the summer kicks off, you should be taking care of your tootsies all-year-round. If you suffer from particular conditions, such as dry skin, corns, blisters and bunions, ingrown nails or a fungal infection there’s no need to hide away in shame. Margaret Dabbs – foot expert and founder of the Margaret Dabbs food care line and the Sole Spa at Liberty – sheds light on the best ways to keep your feet looking neat and feeling happy all-year-long.
Give your top three reasons for why it’s so important to look after your feet:
Foot pain shows on the face, and all the beauty products in the world won’t help if your feet hurt. Feet are very much like teeth, and any niggling pain that may appear periodically will come back with a vengeance if it is left. Unlike the face, which is subjective, feet that have been looked after properly, not only look visibly better, they also feel amazing and completely different too. The thing about feet is that they can be transformed so easily just with the use of the right products, and foot treatment results can also be maintained with the use of the correct products used at home.
What are common issues that people suffer from when they come to your spas and clinics?
Most people that come into our clinics for a treatment for the first time attend with the impression that they have the worst feet in the world, and they are always thrilled when they see what we can do. People can attend because they want to improve the way their feet look, or they come because they have something that is painful on the foot – maybe a corn or callus, cracks in the skin, or painful or discoloured nails. It may be they have pain when walking, or just because they feel ashamed about the way their feet look.
What mistakes do people usually make when looking after their feet?
The biggest mistake people make with their feet is to hide them away rather than dealing with improving them. Once people realise what they can do to change this, there is no stopping them. It is absolutely liberating to have feet that you can show off at any time. There is also a massive misconception about how you use foot products – in which way and in which order. Commonly, people think that they have to soak feet before they use a foot file for example and this is a big error as a foot file should be used on dry skin.
Which at-home tools should everyone have for general foot maintenance?
At-home foot maintenance is so simple if the correct products are used in the right way. It takes just 3 steps and a very small amount of time to transform your feet. I have formulated products as a foot expert, so I know what works, and these are the products that we use in our clinics in professional foot treatments.
Step 1: Everyone should have the Margaret Dabbs Professional Foot File. It is strong, has a long handle for ease of use, and removes skin safely, finely and evenly, and when used on skin that is dry will give really long-lasting results. Use this once a week.
Step 2: Use the Margaret Dabbs Exfoliating Foot Mousse. Apply this to wet skin and the mousse will rid the entire foot of dead, dry and grey skin, whilst at the same time replenishing it with oil. Use plenty of water with it as, like all my products, it is very concentrated. Do this twice a week.
Step 3: Apply a small amount of Margaret Dabbs Hydrating Foot Lotion every single day and you will have feet that are smooth, silky, sexy, illuminated, and light.
How often should people book in for a treatment or a pedicure?
Medical pedicures can be had monthly or as little as twice a year, depending on your feet. In between treatments, our professional nail technicians give an amazingly thorough pedicure and will also apply polish to the nails. With this and the use of the home products there is no reason at all why the feet can’t always be in tip top condition.
Spring and hot summer days are on the horizon. What can we all start doing now to ensure our fingers and toes are looking their best in time for the big reveal?
January sees our biggest number of new clients, and this is because we all want to start as we mean to go on and the New Year’s Resolution is firmly in our mind. A treatment at the beginning of the year to get the feet on track has massive advantages, and the use of the Margaret Dabbs at-home products (which really work wonders) will allow you to keep feet looking really good, healthy and ready to show off at any time. Early in the New Year is also the time to deal with such things as nail fungus. The Margaret Dabbs laser has been created to treat nail fungus, and a course of just 4 treatments will put an end to this condition, which can cause an enormous amount of embarrassment.
January is also the time to wean yourself off nail gels, and a thorough manicure by one of our nail technicians followed by daily use of the Margaret Dabbs Nourishing Nail & Cuticle Serum will see finger and toe nails transformed in as little as 3 days.
What are the benefits of having one of the Margaret Dabbs Medical Pedicures?
The medical pedicure is a treatment loved by men and women alike. It is so thorough that it is often labelled as the best treatment some people have ever had – and this is praise indeed when you consider the range of treatments available to people now! The feet will look amazing after a treatment and this can be maintained at home. We’re passionate about feet and there is nothing foot-related that we won’t do - whether it is about nails, the gait of the foot, or even bunions. Remember prevention is better than cure.
If you’ve only got 10 minutes, what fast tricks can you use if your feet have to been on show?
The best product ever to transform the feet immediately is the Margaret Dabbs Intensive Treatment Foot Oil – it literally works in front of your eyes and will transform feet and make them fit to reveal, leaving you full of confidence. It also has the benefit of being anti-inflammatory so is great for painful, tired and aching feet, and will eradicate the visible appearance of cracks and dehydration in the skin with just one application. Use it daily if the skin is very dry and cracked. It is also brilliant to re-hydrate and repair nails that are dehydrated and damaged. If you have the time, use this with the foot file once a week and you will be amazed at what you can do at home yourself in just a few minutes.
Discover our edit of the top products to care for your tips and toes >
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Monday 20th January was ‘Blue Monday’, unofficially the ‘most depressing day of the year’, and given the weather and significantly emptier pockets most of us are experiencing, it’s easy to understand why. But if there’s one promise you make to yourself for 2014, shouldn’t it be to have an altogether happier, less stressed and more sleep-filled year? Wellness expert in aromatic healing and the Alexander Technique, Hope Gillerman, is the founder of H. Gillerman Organics, a line of essential oils specially developed to help deepen breathing, relax muscles, improve sleep, adjust to a new climate and temperature changes, lift spirits and sharpen focus. We caught up with Hope to get her best tips on how to find your way to a calmer, more restful year using natural remedies and mindful thinking.
Recently, when I asked a client how he was doing he said “I am taking good care of myself by eating really well but I can’t get rid of my stress”. For many of us we think of stress as something we should erase – something which stems from too many hours working, struggling to balance family and home or traveling for work. While these external stressors are major factors and areas we can’t always change, it is the internal stressors like poor sleep, dealing with a pain or injury and feeling sick that leave us feeling overwhelmed, irritable, mentally and physically fatigued or in pain. The key to managing stress is twofold: use your mind to turn stress into a positive, not something you need to eliminate, and use self-care to minimize the internal stressors. With a few simple daily rituals you can help your body stay in balance and retrain your mind to help you thrive under stress.
Stress is measured in the body by testing the level of the hormone cortisole in the blood. When we are reacting to a stressor, our adrenals pump out more cortisole. The prolonged elevation of cortisole in the blood contributes to the many symptoms of stress we are all too familiar with, including weight gain (especially around the middle of the body), a weakened immune system, poor sleep, and a loss of concentration or memory. The elevated stress levels can trigger allergies, asthma, headaches, and migraines and bring on the common cold or weaken your ability to fight off a virus. These symptoms become the internal stressors that lead to bigger health issues, such as high blood pressure, chronic insomnia, pain or illness. By using essential oils in simple, daily life rituals you can focus on the following important areas to reduce your stress and feel healthier and more energized:
- Change your attitude towards stress by turning it into a positive
- Improve sleep
- Relax your muscles
- Breathe more fully
Essential oils are the ideal natural remedy for stress as they are proven to lower the level of cortisole in the blood after just 5 minutes of inhalation. They can also change our mood and emotion, while relaxing muscles and boosting our immune system. The most potent herbal extract found in nature, they work holistically with the mind and body to rebalance and rejuvenate. Here’s how they work and a daily ritual you can try:
CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS STRESS
As you inhale an essential oil, tiny airborne particles are released as soon as you open the bottle and enter your blood through your nose and lungs. They travel through your body — lowering your cortisole levels –and pass through the blood brain barrier to change brain chemistry and thought patterns.
- Any time you feel stressed during the day, put a few drops of an essential oil blend on a tissue or the palm of your hands and inhale slow deep breathes to help refocus your thoughts, calm your nerves and change your mind about stress. Embrace the way stress can make your senses feel heightened and help you feel more engaged and enlivened by what you do. Stress can get your creative juices flowing, your blood pumping and make your pulse quicken. Tell your body these sensations are good for you and you will feel energized. Studies show this mindful change will lower your blood pressure right on the spot.
- If you are having trouble calming your mind and easing your irritability – put 2 drops of H. Gillerman Organics True Relaxation Stress Remedy on your fingertips and anoint the points shown in the picture. These are acupoints for instant calm and focus. Increase the effect by pressing lightly on each point for 5 seconds and circling fingers gently on the point 5 times.
IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
To sleep well you need to get at least 6 hours, 8 is optimal. But you need to prepare for sleep at least an hour before your head hits the pillow. Going from work to bed degrades sleep quality and leads to bigger sleep issues. Essential oils are proven sedatives and muscle relaxers making them a non-habit-forming way to improve sleep. Known for their anti-anxiety properties, you can use essential oils to prepare you for sleep by calming the nerves, slowing down and letting go of the events of the day.
- Use H. Gillerman Organics Clear Mind Jaw Clenching Remedy to shift gears at the end of a long day so you don’t go to bed keyed up with too much on your mind. Apply along the jaw line to relax facial muscles (and prevent wrinkles!), and on the neck and tops of the shoulders to relieve tension. Or anoint one or all of the above points. These are acupoints for instant calm and relaxation. Increase the effect by pressing lightly on each point for 5 seconds and circling fingers gently on the point 5 times.
- If you are having trouble falling asleep or wake up and can’t get back to sleep – place 3 drops of H. Gillerman Organics Natural Rest Sleep Remedy on a tissue and inhale 10 slow, deep breaths from the tissue. Relax your head back on the pillow and observe your breathing. You can use this technique as many times as you need to throughout the night with no ill effect and will wake up refreshed and rested.
Discover more ways to relax and reduce your stress with the full H. Gillerman Organics collection.
Read, shop and try our five stress and sleep #BeautyResolutions.