SMHK-DCG-Loveramics

Get Creative…

We all know by now a little of what The Pulse in Repulse Bay has to offer, but I recently visited to check out the beautifully stylish new Southside branch of Loveramics.  I was lucky enough to have a ceramic date with Grace Ching, co-founder of Loveramics, to discuss everything ceramic (and not).  As I entered this little nest of goodies, my magpie-like eyes could hardly contain themselves!  I have been a huge fan of this contemporary homeware brand since I first stumbled upon their store in Sheung Wan, and every time I enter one of their stores I get more excited to discover their unique designs.

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I decided to take my daughter along for the ride to make it a mother and daughter outing in anticipation of the Easter holidays.  My daughter is only 5 months old, but even at this age it was a fun & creative afternoon (I think Sophia enjoyed it, and I certainly did).  Grace very kindly guided us through our options of what we could paint and all the different methods of painting we could use.  My daughter is at that stage where she loves to grab everything (my poor hair), so finger painting it was.  We had a choice of painting a plate, a mug or a small bowl and we opted for a mug.  While we picked our paint colours, Grace spoke to me about the business.  The ceramic side of the business has been in the family for quite some time, but it wasn’t until the husband and wife duo decided to create a brand for themselves that Loveramics was born.  Grace is a Sassy Mama, too (if you weren’t impressed already), so not only is she running a fantastic business but has three beautiful children and still has the time to look effortlessly chic (I am impressed that I just about manage with one…).

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Once we had finished our ‘masterpiece’ of a mug (that any mama would be proud of), it was popped into a kiln for a week, after which it will be ready for collection.  This painting session got me super excited as we all know there really isn’t much in the great 852 that can entertain both parent & child; I found this to be a great marriage of fun and sophistication.  The space can be hired out for birthday parties (which is perfect as you can then let your little tinkers have a good run on the beach afterwards) or – if you are like me with a wee one – why not invite your playgroup along for an afternoon of finger painting and sipping from a selection of locally roasted coffee or organic tea, and gain a cherished ‘heirloom’ at the end of it?  I think it would also be a fantastic venue for a baby shower or hen party (I’m always on the lookout for alternative ideas).

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I can’t wait to see how my little munchkin’s mug turns out and, even though this is a gift to me for Easter (as this is my Easter egg alternative this year, well maybe!), I think now would be a great time to get yourself over to Loveramics to make up some beautiful Easter gifts.  Alternatively, Hong Kong (and American) Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I know Grandma would absolutely love an item for the sideboard.  Then after all the hard work of painting, take a gander around the store and be inspired by their latest collections for that ‘summer 15′ look or pick up that must-have salad/pasta bowl before BBQ/junk season kicks in (I’m just saying because I have every intention of doing this when I go to collect my mug…)

What are you waiting for?  Ready, steady, paint…

Price – 400HKD.  This price includes 1 piece of ceramic, all tools & brushes & 1 tea/coffee/soft drink.  I think this is a steal as the whole session lasts for around 2 hours and you actually have something to show for it.

Address – The Pulse, Shop 207, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

Opening Hours – 11am-7pm (Walk-ins also welcome)

Loveramics – http://www.loveramics.com/pages/loveramics-workshop

SMHK-DCG-Naif

NAÏF Said…

A new baby care brand is trending and creeping its way onto our changing tables and into our bathrooms.  NAÏF is a Dutch brand that was founded in 2012 by two very cool dads, Jochem and Sjoerd, who, after searching the market high and low for that perfect skincare range for their babies (presumably without success), decided to produce one themselves.  Obviously.  This Dutch duo not only designed an aesthetic crowd pleaser of a product but have ticked all the right boxes for many mamas by leaving out artificial ingredients such as chemical preservatives, PEG and synthetic emulsifiers while allowing nature to speak for itself with ingredients such as cottonseed oil & sweet almond oil.

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The name NAÏF, which means naive, honest, innocent, summed up newborn babies in the eyes of Jochem and Sjoerd.  By only using pure ingredients in their products, they aspire to provide only the very best for our beautiful little monkeys, keeping them as pure as possible for as long as possible (at least that’s the intention).

This delicate range is an absolute hit in my eyes.  It was nice to finally come across a brand that had really thought about what actually goes into baby products and tried to make everyday products great using entirely natural ingredients.  The soothing massage oil was definitely my favourite.  I have tried baby massage in the past but Sophia did not really take to it as eagerly as some babies, so when I got the NAÏF massage oil I thought it was the perfect opportunity to give baby massage another go and so far so good!  The oil has a beautiful aroma and as well as being gentle on Sophia’s skin it leaves my hands feeling super soft, which is a nice bonus.

What I love about the NAÏF range is that it will grow with your baby.  It is suitable for all ages (I even use the milky bath oil myself and it leaves my skin feeling cherub-worthy, so you can see it as a double investment).  Hopefully you won’t personally get so much use from the diaper cream as your baby though!

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This product gets a huge thumbs up from this Sassy Mama, and I take my hat off to NAÏF for taking the time to create a simple yet suitable product to protect & nourish our babies’ skin from harmful products.  So what are you waiting for?  Beat the trend and instead of taking my word for it go try this luxury baby care range for yourselves and finish each day with the sweet smells of cottonseed & baby goodness!

PERK ALERT: Mention “Sassy Mama” at any NAÏF Care stockist below to enjoy 20% off regular prices, valid until the end of June.

Check out the full range of NAÏF products here:  http://naifcare.com/#products

SMHK-DCG-Tiny-Bites-Jamies

Tiny Bites: Salute Jamie!

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My love for Italian food stems from 2011, when I got married in Florence.  The epitome of Italian food to me screams fresh, seasonal & full of flavour, so I was extremely excited to try out Jamie’s Italian and to see whether it has managed to encapsulate Italian flavour within a casual dining environment.

Based in Midtown, this little gem feels like it is hidden away from the numbing buzz that is Causeway Bay.  As soon as you enter, you are hit by a kaleidoscope of design and energy.  All branches of the Jamie’s Italian franchise are designed to be sympathetic to the host city’s personality without losing sight of its Italian feel or Jamie Oliver’s ethos.  From the dramatic graffiti art that guides you up the escalators to the iconic hanging meats framing the pasta and antipasti bars to the vintage Thomas Crapper toilets, aesthetically speaking this restaurant definitely demands your attention from the get go.

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On arrival, we were greeted by our friendly waitress, Christy, who explained the menu in detail and walked us through the specials list.  We started by ordering a few starters to share, which didn’t disappoint.  I would highly recommend sharing Jamie’s starters, although if you are territorial over your antipasti that’s also fine; the menu caters to both personalities so don’t panic!  The sharing planks of cured meat and cheese were scrumptious.  My personal favourite from the platter had to be the flavourful mortadella, but the arancini won my award for best starter.  These little golden delights are so moorish and were cooked to perfection and served with arrabbiata sauce (although my husband thought they could have been a little more moist).

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Our tiny diner, Freya, was more than eager to sample the food from the children’s menu.  I thought the kids’ menu was fantastic as it provided great food options and doubled up as a colouring sheet to entertain our little rugrats as they got restless waiting for their yummy lunch.  Added to this were the vibrant viewfinders that accompanied the young diner’s menu, displaying pictures of the various dishes with retro charm.  This definitely entertained the adults in our group!

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Moving onto the mains, I had to go for the sausage pappardelle, I am such a fan of pappardelle. The name has its origins in the Italian verb “pappare”, meaning to gobble up, and that I did. I would have liked a bit more sauce in the dish, but I was still very happy with the flavours. My husband opted for the fish in a bag (which he was very pleased about as he said every time he watches a Jamie Oliver cookery show he seems to be cooking a fish in a bag). The fish of the day was Halibut, which had been cooked perfectly and was served with an array of shellfish and cracked wheat. And our friends, Alex & Paul, went for the fresh crab spaghetti and “Gennaro’s porchetta” from the specials menu. It was safe to say I had major food envy of the porchetta (named in honour of Jamie’s mentor, Gennaro Contaldo). It not only looked amazing but tasted divine (according to Paul… it was so good that he didn’t share!) There was a slight misnomer with the crab spaghetti in that, sadly, it didn’t seem to contain much crab. Our tiny diner chose the puppy dogs, and they seemed to go down very well. The children’s dishes were all nicely presented and didn’t feel too childish – good job, Jamie!

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Desserts are a deal breaker for me (and probably most women), so even though I was beginning to feel like I had over-indulged, I had to politely accept the dessert menu (obviously) and scan through what Jamie’s had to offer.  I can’t lie – when I saw tutti fruitti lemon meringue pie I fully committed myself to having a dessert.  Between us we ordered the tiramisu, the epic brownie and the lemon meringue pie, as well as the vanilla ice cream for Freya.  When all of the sweet treats arrived, I picked up my weapon (aka spoon) and devoured the lemon meringue pie quicker than you can say ‘dolce’.  It was indulgent but also had a refreshingly tangy bite to it.  I also managed a few spoonfuls of my husband’s deliciously moist tiramisu, and safe to say I needed a taxi home.

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Thumbs Up:

It was an all-round thumbs up for us, from the food and the ambience to the friendly and efficient service, we felt very welcome and not out of place with our children.  The natural energy given off from the tables around us created the ideal backdrop to take your family for a well-earned lunch/dinner.  An extra thumbs up goes to our attentive waitress, who remembered the name of our little diner, Freya, which was a lovely personal touch.  A thumbs up from our tiny diner (in the below picture).

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Thumbs Down:

Midtown is slightly off the beaten track, so to anyone not familiar with Causeway Bay it can seem a little bit of a mission to get to.  At the weekends, you also need to leave plenty of time if arriving by road from Central (although CWB MTR station is only a short walk away).

Stroller Access?

Yes, elevator access to the restaurant for families with strollers (although you will need a member of Jamie’s team to accompany you to the elevator in the main Midtown building, which otherwise doesn’t provide access to Jamie’s), but otherwise there is an escalator straight to the restaurant from street level.

Highchairs?

Yes, the Stokke Tripp Trapp (for all you Scandi design lovers) in a variety of colours.

Kid’s Menu?

Si/yes – A fantastic children’s menu that is printed on the back of a colouring sheet.

Price Range:

Incredibly reasonable.  Main meals range from 65HKD for a small plate of pasta – 300HKD for a 10 oz ribeye steak (excluding specials).  Kids’ meals all cost 58HKD (+8HKD for dessert).

Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 11am – 11pm.  Booking is advised but walk-ins are also encouraged (only 20% of tables are allocated to reservations).

Looking for a great option this Valentine’s Day?  Share your love with Jamie’s Italian.  They will be featuring a delicious set menu foe $388 per person, served with a complimentary glass of Rossini.  All tables will be available for reservations exclusively for the occasion, so get booking.

Jamie’s Italian, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 3958 2222

http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/hongkong

 

SMHK-DCG-Mothers-Touch

Review: Birthing Rehearsal Workshop

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For mammas-to-be, the build-up to your new arrival’s due date is one of the most exciting times in your life, but it can also feel slightly overwhelming.  You’re faced with changes to your body and mind and, to add to that, a checklist as long as the Hong Kong Harbour.  As your pregnancy progresses and you start to familiarise yourself with alien terms such as colostrum and oxytocin, it is time to consider your antenatal options and research how to have the smoothest labour possible.

A Mother’s Touch kindly invited Sassy Mama along to their Birthing Rehearsal class to experience the journey of a natural labour and to learn how your birthing partner can provide practical support throughout labour.  The class is deliberately light on academic references to avoid those continuous oooohs and ahhhhs over medical terms.

When my husband and I arrived, we were greeted by Liz, the owner and founder of A Mother’s Touch.  I knew immediately that we were going to click with Liz as her warm approach and zesty personality made me feel like we were in the presence of someone who was confident in their ability but also made you feel like you had just walked into a family friend’s home.

As soon as the class was full of blooming bumps and keen daddies-to-be, Liz began to assist us along a birthing journey and highlighted that this was very much a class where the partners could feel useful and understand how they can play an important role in the birthing experience.  We were all handed an extensive handbook, which was presented in a lovely folder and super organised inside – a birthing ‘bible’ that will be cherished!

The first section of the class covered the stages of labour and focused on the typical fears and emotions that may be running through everyone’s minds during the third trimester.  It was really interesting to listen to the birthing partners’ views on this as I feel as an expectant mother that most of the time I am (understandably) so focused on my own thoughts and concerns that I don’t think to consider that my husband might have concerns of his own.

We then moved on to methods of breathing and positioning throughout labour.  This was definitely, for me, the most helpful and fun, because aside from being a yogi I feel you cannot soak up enough information on how to assist the most natural birthing experience possible.  Liz had the entire class get engaged in understanding ways for mums to stay mobile and for the birthing partners to assist with adjustment of the baby’s positioning and targeting those typical aches and pains as labour progresses.

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We learned the importance of basic reflexology and accupressure, and Liz helpfully pointed out some key areas that our birthing partners can massage throughout labour.  We also learnt how to use a rebozo, which is a fantastic product that A Mother’s Touch will rent out to expectant mothers.  Although it may sound fancy and exotic, it is a traditional Mexican scarf that can be used for anything and everything but, most importantly, for positioning support and relaxation during labour.  Liz kindly demonstrated on me some of the ways you can use this simple but effective product and now I have my eye on getting my own before D-day (I’m a magpie after all; shine something pretty in front of me and I will want to have it).

Lastly, after numerous toilet breaks and snack station visits we approached the end of our class – visualisation.  This was such a beautiful exercise as each couple had to embrace their partner, feel the rhythm of each other’s breathing, then close our eyes and start a journey of relaxation.  Liz softly narrated ways to visualise your journey, trying to engage all senses into your imaginary safe haven.  For me, this was snorkelling in crystal waters with my husband and discovering my favourite fish hiding amongst the coral.  Although I might have started out as a sceptic, as Liz slowly started to pull us away from our visualisation I was definitely in a deep state of relaxation and could have fallen asleep at any minute – true bliss.  When everyone was ready to leave we were then presented with a little gift bag (Liz’s rescue pouch to pop into your hospital bag containing oils, helpful tip cards and her personal touch of items that she uses in her role as a doula).  This has certainly going straight into my bag for the big day.

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My review really only touches the tip of the iceberg with what we took away from Liz’s class, and we will certainly stay in touch with Liz and A Mother’s Touch as their company passionately wants to ensure that all couples have the best possible birthing experience.  They are constantly improving their practice to explore natural remedies and treatments to assist you with anything from considering a family to treating those precious little babes with a baby massage.

My Birthing Rehearsal experience really was delivered with A Mother’s Touch, which for an expat like me made the class feel that little bit more special.  I came out with a ‘glow’ and feeling even more excited about our little bundle’s arrival.

If you haven’t already come across A Mother’s Touch please visit their website as they offer classes and treatments that are suited from bumps to beyond.

 

SHK-DCG-leather

Working With Leather…

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I am absolutely loving leather right now after recently completing my first ever leather workshop.  I have been sourcing leather for years, whether for an armchair, a headboard or a contrast piping detail, but I have never physically worked with it.  The material is actually quite beautiful to work with, and the results you can get are really remarkable, not to mention my addiction to the smell of a good hide!

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I put my virgin leather hands in the care of Fungus Workshop, a small workshop in the heart of Sheung Wan that captures the essence of a fully-fledged leather studio; full of quirky looking tools and walls hanging with finished examples of leather products & jewel-like off-cuts of leather.

I dragged my fellow designer & DIY friend Vicky along for a four-week leather course.  We both had our minds set on making a chic summer clutch (a must for every sassy lady), and with the tutors’ hand-holding we were able to hone in on the finish of the leather and to master (albeit very basically) the assembly technique.  Our first session was made up of cutting out the leather template, smoothing the edges of our chosen leather with a chemical solution and learning about the tools that we would be using.

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The workshop has an electric vibe, full of students and tutors who are eager to help enthusiastic newcomers.  When they are not dishing out advice, the tutors fill their time with their own exciting leather projects, from belts to custom eyewear detailing.  The workshop interior has a real prohibition feel, full of vintage finds such as old phones and original Singer sewing machines, which help to create a real ‘edgy’ tone.  After my first lesson, I was anxious for my next class, where I thought I would be able to start sewing.  Understandably (but to my frustration!) before we were able to start stitching we had to mark out and punch the holes for the stitching to ensure that everything would be as symmetrical as possible and that all the holes would be perfectly aligned to the edge of the leather.  After a full session of hole punching, for our third session we were knee deep in special thread and needles, and boy did we underestimate how hard that was going to be!

The stitching was a laborious process, which required the patience of a monk, but once we had completed this painstaking task we were able to stand back and be incredibly proud of what we had achieved.  To finish off my clutch, I wanted a magnetic latch to fasten the bag, so I had to do a small additional amount of stitching to affix the magnet to the bag.

I had a little extra time so my tutor quickly helped me to make a wrist cuff to match my handbag (which has been a huge hit with my friends!)

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Overall, I would highly recommend this course; it opens your eyes to working with a new material and is a great way to meet new people.  The tutors take a stand-off approach to teaching, which may not be to everyone’s liking, but they are friendly, always there if you have any questions, and they know leather inside out – I liked to call them the Leather Gods!  Time to get creative Sassy ladies… who knows, you might end up making your own Christmas presents this year – now that’s impressive!

One of the tutors, Philip, was kind enough to do a small Q&A, which will hopefully answer any of your questions:

Lovingly Made:  What made you come together to create Fungus Workshop?

Fungus Workshop:  Originally we were looking for our own workshop space.  Later lots of our friends were also interested to learn how to make their own leather items, so we started Fungus Workshop.

LM:  What skills can a student expect to gain from your workshop?

FW:  Actually we will share everything we know about craftsmanship on leather, but normally people can learn all the basic skills on handmade leather works.

LM:  What is the most interesting piece you have been commissioned to do?

FW:  There are quite a lot of items we’ve made during these four and a half years, and some of them are really interesting.  Maybe we would highlight the “Ukulele Case” and some art pieces for several exhibitions as particular highlights.

LM:  Do you host events?  Would something like this be suitable for a hen/bachelorette party?

FW:  We have held birthday parties for children and bridal showers in our workshop, so yes to hosting events.

LM:  How much does it cost per workshop session if someone wanted to do a taster course?

FW:  We provide a 4 session course for HK$1680, where people can make 2 simple items or a wallet; and a 2 session course for HK$840, for someone who wants to make a more simple gift.

LM:  Where do you shop for your one-off accessory must-haves?

FW:  We will try to make our own.

LM:  Who influenced the design of the interior?

FW:  We love vintage goods and also appreciate the handcrafted things in life, like old wooden chairs and wooden cabinets… Most of them are our own collections.

Fungus Workshop, G/F, 4 Po Hing Fong, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2779 9003, www.fungusworkshop.net,www.facebook.com/fungusworkshop. Email fungusworkshop@gmail.com for more info!

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Spruce up your living space…

 

Sassy Must HavesIt’s always nice when the suffocating summer heat arrives to add a bit of life back into our homes to reflect the happy hues from the great outdoors.  Sadly, the HK weather is refusing to behave, so close your eyes and pretend it’s a dreamy summer outside.

Come rain or shine, treat yourself to a few home character comforts to brighten up some areas of your apartment that might be missing that ‘loving touch’.

Dining Table

Let’s start with the dining area.  Although this may not be used by all on a regular basis, I’m sure that compact dining table has hosted a few Secret Ingredient dinner dates in its day?!  If you’re a play it safe kind of gal then I suggest just adding a few accessories to your dining experience that will make your meal feel that little bit more special and give you the courage to invite your girlfriends over for drinks and nibbles.  I found some fantastic glassware at Muji, and being in love with the colour blue I knew these tumblers would add the brightness I needed to my dinner table.  I then accentuated that by applying some napkin rings from Indigo Living to complement the glassware and paired with simple white linen napkins.  So simple yet incredibly effective (see image 1 in the picture above).  Blue is very ‘in’ this summer, but if this makes you feel more blue than happy apply the same theory to your colour of choice.

Typography – micro trend

I’m loving that typography is on trend – it is such a chic and light way to add character to a bookshelf, cabinet unit or pigeon hole.  I bought some from Mushroom on Aberdeen Street, but you can also get hold of them on Etsy or in most restoration/vintage shops (see image 2 in the picture above).

Balcony Furniture

I know that most of us are more balconette and less balcony, but you can almost certainly still fit a table and chairs onto it – tried and tested.  Our trusty friend Ikea do a range for the balcony-challenged called the Askholmen (see image 3 in the picture above), which so reasonably priced you might want to buy two sets (but stay focused).  To add a bit of character to this dining set, I would suggest sourcing an outdoor fabric (most fabric stores in HK stock Sunbrella fabrics) and have some cushions made up, bringing a little bit of interior out onto your balcony.  Add small potting plants and you are ready to sip that well deserved gin & tonic.  Balconies are not just for drying clothes and storage space – remember why you opted for a balcony as part of your apartment choice in the first place and start enjoying summer in your very own outdoor oasis!

Floral Arrangements

Peonies are delightful at this time of year, and you can find them at all florists along the wet market or if you want to really treat yourself from Flannel Flowers or Agnès b Fleuriste.  A simple floral arrangement can transform any space and also add a splash of colour to those areas in need of brightening up.  If you’re not a fan of peonies (I will let you off) check out Pinterest for some inspiring ideas of what arrangements you can create with flowers that are currently in season.  See image 4 in the picture above.

Room Scent

I am absolutely in love in Dr. Vranjes as the smell automatically takes me back to summers in Florence (see image 5 in the picture above).  These room scents fill so much of your apartment with their delicate fragrance that it’s hard to go without one.  If you want the smell of summer in your apartment I would seriously suggest adding a Dr. Vranjes to your weekend shopping list as not only do they smell divine, but they have the power to transform the feeling of a room and add a small element of decor with their elegant, beautifully designed bottles.  I was able to buy mine from Visionaire on Gough Street, but you can also buy them online.

Accent Colour

Pantone’s Paloma is trending the blogs and magazines, and I couldn’t agree more – this is such a hot colour for the summer.  Not only am I a huge fan of grey but this tone is subtle and yet statement and goes with EVERYTHING!  Add a splash of Paloma to your life by shopping for a new throw or rug and you will forever be in love with grey too.  See image 6 in the picture above.

I hope this has shown you that just a few small additions to your home this summer can help your space to feel full of life and not break the bank… you may even have some money left over to treat yourself to a hard earned cocktail or foot massage!

 

jewellery slider 2

From Hatton Garden…

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…To Hatton Studios, in our very own Hong Kong.  A jewellery studio & workshop full of exciting opportunities for all from the budding jewellery designer to a complete novice (me).  I have no previous experience in jewellery making, and I am also not the most steady handed when it comes to working on a small scale, but I wanted to make my husband something special for our wedding anniversary.  Since he is always short of cufflinks, this struck me as the perfect opportunity either to create a stylish statement pair of cufflinks or (more likely) to form two blobs of polished metal and pretend the design was intentional!

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The studio is nestled away in the heart of Sheung Wan.  As soon as you enter the small (yet functional) space, you can see that this studio means business.  Immediately on entering the studio, I felt certain that I would leave the studio after my four-session course feeling confident with metal and owning some jewellery that I (and hopefully my husband) could be proud of.  Upon arrival you are greeted by Nathalie Melville, the founder of Hatton Studios & Melville Fine Jewellery, who invites you into her world with a warm smile and a bubbly personality to match.  Read on to find out some personal facts about Nathalie in our Q&A at the end…

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Nathalie, the studio owner, goldmith & designer, is a creative and incredibly approachable tutor.  She took a very hands-on approach to the course and made the entire process extremely simple and exciting.  Nathalie studied at Saint Martins in London and has worked for many international brands, including Tiffany and Shanghai Tang.  She is extremely knowledgable and will even allow you to book private classes to make an extra special piece.

My workshop comprised four 2.5 hour sessions.  The first session was purely intended to get you accustomed working with metal and to familiarise yourself with the tools you would be using throughout the course, but that did not stop me from making a small pendant to take home that day.  This was not only an additional bonus (two pieces of jewellery for the price of one – yes please!) but a very simple way of easing you into the workshop.

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Throughout the sessions, I worked with Nathalie on my cufflink design, from marking out the shape to cutting the metal and even adding personal touches such as initialling the back of the cufflinks.  I was dying to try my hand at annealing & hammering metal, which I thought would create the perfect finish to the face of my cufflinks.  Not only did the hammering process create a stylish pair of cufflinks – it was also surprisingly therapeutic!

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When all the filing and soldering is complete and you have added any finishing touches, you have to say goodbye to your cherished pieces (not for long) while they go into the barrel polisher to develop that final bling!

I have nothing but great things to say about this workshop.  Not only did the experience leave me wanting to make more jewellery (which I am already discussing with Nathalie), but my husband was delighted with his bespoke present (he even thought I had bought them – maybe he was just trying to flatter me?!)

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I was lucky enough to catch up with Nathalie for a cup of herbal tea and asked her a few questions – enjoy!

Lovingly Made: What is the most unusual piece of jewellery you have been commissioned to do?

Hatton Studios: Wearing my Hatton Studios course director hat, I have been asked to work with students on everything from a diamond and tourmaline cocktail ring, (30 hours of private classes later she had completed the most stunning ring), through to a top hat wearing, skull tie pin!  As the Creative Director of Melville Fine Jewellery, I have created pieces ranging from a Tim Burton inspired engagement ring to a pair of 100+ carat citrine and sapphire earrings for a charity auction.

LM: What advice would you give to anyone aspiring to get into jewellery?

HS: First, know you are passionate about it.  The jewellery industry is vast and covers so many disciplines, so it is a steep (and often challenging) learning curve.  My advice would vary, depending on which area was of interest.  However, and I say this from the bias of being a goldsmith, start practical!  I have had students who have come to me after years in the gem trade, or in the PR side, wanting to understand what goes on behind the scenes.  Other students have thought design was their niche and then sat at the bench and fallen in love with the craftsmanship side of it.  If you understand what goes into making a piece you can better understand how to design, market or sell it.  From there you can choose the course, apprenticeship or on-the-job training programme that suits your needs.  Equally, I am always happy for people to ask my advice on that!

LM: What’s your favourite boutique in HK?

HS: I love Pretty Dangerous and Ame Gallery – they really champion some great local and international jewellery designers.  For clothes, it has to be Polkadot Boutique.  They have such a great selection and really understand the female form.

LM: What do you like to do in your spare time to unwind in this forever-changing concrete jungle?

HS: Spare time…  What is this urban myth?!  In all seriousness, I live, love and breathe what I do – so between Hatton Studios and Melville Fine Jewellery it doesn’t feel like work.  We do have two lovely rescue dogs, who are often in the studio with me, and walking them is great to clear my head or catch up with my husband.  (He is an entrepreneur so works even longer hours than I do!)  We also work together a lot as we run multiple social ventures under our charitable organization, The Fargo Foundation – from Street Poppy (a monthly art programme for vulnerable youth groups) to the Hong Kong Treasure Hunt (an annual charity adventure race around HK).  I am also in the process of setting up an ethical jewellery platform that will address education, advocacy and action within the industry.  Aside from that, and catching up with our amazing friends who put up with our antisocial hours, I sleep!

LM: Finally, what exciting plans do you have in store for the rest of 2014?

HS: So many!!!  Hatton Studios is expanding its course availability to include medium to long-term courses that are more tailored to preparing students to enter the market.  Having trained at Saint Martins, I had the luxury of working on some amazing, industry led projects – from Cartier to Links of London.  I feel there is disconnect in Hong Kong between the industry and the education sector and want to address that with our in-depth courses.  We are also hoping to expand to a larger site – but whether that is a 2014 or 2015 move, we’ll have to keep you posted…

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I would like to say a huge thank you to Nathalie for allowing me to capture some beautiful photographs of my cufflinks and her studio and also for taking the time to respond to my questions.

The workshop costs HK$2,750, which includes the materials, so sign up now; you won’t be disappointed!  This could be the new spin on what’s hot for your next hen party or baby shower?

Enjoy your weekend and maybe start it off with a cheeky sign up to Hatton Studios… (just saying).

All photographs are property of Lovingly Made.

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Interior Design…

design savvy

I have just started writing for Sassy HK, a fabulous website for everything you need to know about HK.  This is one of hopefully many pieces that I can contribute to the fabulous Sassy HK.

We all know that once you have accomplished the ultimate challenge of finding that chic city apartment (we lament over this in The Great Apartment Hunt), you are then faced by the equally daunting task of decorating it.  “Where to start?!”, “I don’t have enough space!”, “I have so many things!” –  these are but a few comments and questions that skate past our minds as we eat away at those precious square feet…

Well don’t fear! Whether you see yourself as the next Kelly Wearstler or you’re just looking for some Sassy storage tips, I’ve put together five easy tips to help disguise clutter and add light back into that old or new dark space.

1. De-clutter

Have more stuff than space?  Of course you do!  We all do in HK.  I’m such a collector of all things pretty and unusual; I like to call them my “cultural heirlooms”.  But in HK we barely have space for bedside tables, never mind a giant Buddha’s head, so go through all of your belongings and decide what is a must and what can safely be packed away until you move into your “forever” home.  De-cluttering is so important, and I suggest to everyone who is moving to take the opportunity to seriously go through everything and let the word “organise” become your yoga chant.

_2yQFsvY5ozrD10P7ApbfQXb19C0bB40ZseclUYIP-02. Storage is your best friend

We all know that kitchen space can be limited, and a recurring issue is where to store all those necessary champagne coupes you’ve been collecting…  Adding a simple, light & reflective sideboard unit to your living space will not only add additional shelving space to display objects and photo frames, but will give you some much-needed additional storage space. It will also allow you to store your dinnerware, creating more space in the kitchen for must-have items like coffee machines and herb pots. Buy clear jars, clean baskets and basic plastic containers.  The roller containers from Japan Home Store (which are fab for under sofas and beds) can be filled to the brim with vacuum-packed winter clothes and bedding, you name it.  Jars, bell jars and cloches can be used in bathrooms and kitchens for those items that look less attractive in their boxes and that risk making you look more like a hoarder than a city socialite. Go to Ikea and Franc Franc for super cheap jars and display those once ugly-looking products, creating transparency and organisation.

LTbgq6bHDwjYbe9PqJX088ByO3TcxCB1BwmhkDm9Ps83. Accent Colours

I personally think choosing just a few accent colours can transform a space. Keep the majority of the palette light and add some contrasting scatter cushions to that tired-looking armchair or brand new sofa from Indigo Living. This concept can then be translated throughout your apartment, allowing you to get creative with your artwork and photography collection.

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4. Light

Light is vital to every interior, regardless of how big or small the space. Ensure you are not blocking out the light with bulky objects or dark heavy drapes, and instead open the windows up with a soft over-drape colour. If you’re feeling adventurous add a super light sheer to the underside of the window. That way you can cleverly hide those sometimes-disruptive views into next-door’s apartment, but constantly keep the light coming in.

Add wall mirrors. Mirrors are amazing at giving an illusion of space and can add a bit of flair and character to a blank wall. Choose a design that will complement your style and hang over console units or dressers to instantly create an interior feature. Check out Arteriors for designer trends or L’s Where for a unique one-off piece. In addition to this, add floor lights and table lamps where your apartment is lacking with spotlights or pendants. This will not only wake up areas of your apartment that are shadowed but will give you the chance to add character to your apartment. Go ahead and splurge on a classic General Store gem or one of Eclectic Cool’s Gubi floor lamps. You will always find a space for these!

 5. Have fun

Playing with your interiors should be fun, so implementing these few tips should set you on your way to transforming your small space into an apartment that you can be proud of!

heart-purple

If you like the look of any of the products shown above, you can find them at the following stores:

Sideboard – Ikea ‘Stockholm’ sideboard.
Scatter Cushions – Heavy duty linens & silks by Kelly Wearstler.
Round Mirror – Arteriors (Sankon are the local representatives for this company).

Prenatal Reflexology

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With only a couple of weeks left until my due date I felt it was time to explore the world of reflexology & embark on a journey of tranquility and well-being.  I had read that reflexology can help address all those niggly aches and pains, which sounded perfect!  Feeling the size of a house, and with constant pressure on my feet, I felt it were time to waddle on over to the Vitality Center to help ease some of those pregnancy ‘blessings’.

Shelagh, my reflexologist, has years of experience behind her so straight away I felt in good hands.  She sat me down with a herbal tea first for a consultation prior to my treatment to discuss my concerns and what areas I wanted to address.  I would recommend writing this down in advance, as I felt I constantly had ‘just one more question’ for Shelagh because my baby brain had stopped me from articulating my questions at once (you will be forgiven though if you, like me, don’t go with your handy Moleskine full of questions).  Once all my pressing questions had been answered, Shelagh laid me down and got me in the most comfortable position possible.  I have to say that out of all of my pre-natal spa treatments and massages, Shelagh has been the only one to get me in the most comfortable position (so comfortable that I honestly didn’t want to get up after my treatment had finished, which really is saying a lot at 38 weeks…)

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As I lay in a state of relaxationShelagh used my foot as a map to my body and stimulated and addressed all areas she felt were a ‘concern’.  It was an hour of true bliss, and I certainly felt that I had put the rumours to bed that reflexology can be painful; it was, in my opinion, the complete opposite.  The pressure technique used stimulated natural healing abilities within the body and left my mind feeling open and calm.

Shelagh was able to tell me about areas in my body that she had to address due to pregnancy (which I would never have known about).  Once my treatment had come to an end, Shelagh allowed me to rest, gather my thoughts and come round from a true state of relaxation.  She sat with me until I felt myself again and not floating with the clouds whilst drinking a glass of hot water.

In my opinion, reflexology supports pregnancy very well, and although it can help address specific problems that are common during pregnancy (such as constipation, backache and indigestion), I would also say that, if you are craving that feeling of well-being and relaxation, reflexology is definitely something you should try.  It is a non-intrusive treatment, and the number of sessions you wish to have is completely up to you, although Shelagh suggests as her rule of thumb to visit her as often as you would visit your obstetrician.

I wish I had been brave enough to try reflexology earlier on in my pregnancy instead of general massage as not only did it address those small aches and pains but it helped create inner calm amongst this concrete jungle that at times can test the patience of even the calmest mothers-to-be.  I left Vitality Center feeling peaceful and content.  Shelagh was not only incredibly professional but also a humble and warming woman who made me feel completely relaxed from my first cup of herbal tea to leading me to the door to say goodbye.  Lastly, I can’t finish this review without mentioning that I went into labour the following day!  Whether it was the reflexology or just baby Manley’s time to shine I will never know, but I can’t help but think it had something to do with it…  I will certainly be booking a post-partum treatment soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Emi The Elephant Nightlight

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I am slowly approaching my due date, which means it is time to make those final touches to my nursery and grab those final must-have products to help bring my blank canvas to life.  I have obviously tried to be product savvy with all of my selections so far, and this adorable nightlight by Lil Nika was an early entry on my space-saving checklist.

I’m a sucker for anything playful and especially a product that has been well thought through.  Lil Nika is a husband and wife-owned company and has recently launched its first product, the Lil Nika Nightlight called Emi.  Emi The Elephant is a loveable, stylish product that works as a nursery nightlight, but its cleverly thought out design will grow with your child as they get older. What will make this product even more appealing to all mamas out there it that it is made from 100% recycled PP, which is gentle on our environment and sustainable – instant win in my eyes!  This LED light doesn’t stop there, though, as the designers have also thought about wastage and cleverly enabled the offcuts to be transformed into a matching pair of binoculars, to add more character to their safari theme.

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The lamp arrived flat packed in a simple, slimline box with easy-to-follow instructions (reducing the risk of yet another nursery DIY disaster!) printed on the box and a small handout.  I have to confess, it did take me a while to assemble, and I think if you are purchasing this for a slightly older child you will definitely have to be on hand to help with the assembly.  I am always up for a challenge, though, and I guess I have to get used to assembling toys for future Christmas presents…

Once your lamp is ready you simply plug it in (either to the mains or to a USB power source) to allow Emi to emit a subtle glow that I imagine will be perfect for those late night feeds.

Emi The Elephant is a truly versatile product that will work with most spaces.  The lamp can be floor-, table- or wall-mounted (the latter would work perfectly with some fabulous safari wall art) and then (with the bulb removed, of course!) can be turned into a role-play toy for your child (that’s what I call great product life!)

This is such a sweet addition to your nursery space (whatever size) that allows you to inject a bit of fun into your baby’s/infant’s room as well as being a functional and practical product.  Although there are certainly cheaper nightlights on the market, the price is reasonable, considering the numerous functions and the product life – and at 515HKD, I think this would make a unique baby shower gift.  As mentioned, the only negative I can point out with this product is that it isn’t the easiest product to put together (I think we are clutching at straws here) BUT… if you are an IKEA goddess and not fazed by popping a toy lamp together then this is worthy of serious consideration!  You can buy this product online: Lil Nika or through other online retailers and while you are there you can visit Emi’s friends in their Red Safari range.

I can’t wait to see what Lil Nika will bring out next and look forward to seeing future products by them hitting the shelves!

Surviving Without a Nursery

sassy mama nursery

When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, we couldn’t have been more thrilled, but once I got over the seemingly never-ending hurdle of the first trimester, my nesting instinct kicked in (big time).  Being an Interior Designer, I have long dreamed of the day when I would get to create a one-off space for our little bundle of joy: beautiful bespoke rugs, decorative blackouts, Farrow and Ball-ing the walls until I was happy with the exact shade of cotton, but I never anticipated being faced with the problem of no nursery.  This definitely set alarm bells ringing and probably drove my husband insane.  I soon had to rationalise my fear and face the fact that our first baby would not have a nursery (not immediately anyway), nor would we really have the space for all the nuts and bolts that come with having a child (who would have thought a tiny little thing would require so much stuff…)

I have put together a list of products & little tips on how to maximise your space to accommodate that precious little cherub without feeling like you have been ‘pushed out of the bed’ or had to turn everything pink or blue.

Space Saving Products

Sassy Mama - Petit BCribs – Our baby is going to be in our bedroom, which there really isn’t enough room to swing a cat in, so we had to search high and low to find something that will replace the moses basket (why can’t babies stay small forever) but sit snugly in the space we have.  My husband and I came across two fantastic brands that address the issue of space without compromising design.  The Stokke Sleepi Mini is designed to grow with your baby, which is ideal.  It is also on wheels so you can easily wheel it to and from the living room – perfect!  They also come in a variety of colours – bonus (Little Whale, Mothercare & Indigo Living stock Stokke items).  The other crib we were looking at is the Quax Cradle Marie 90*40 by Quax.  This won’t last as long as your average crib, but it is perfect for your newborn as not only is it great for small spaces but it also includes storage space for baskets etc… (Petit Bazaar stock this item).

 

Baskets – Baskets will become your best friend; they are the simplest way to store things away neatly and get organised without looking too cluttered.  Mamas and Papas do a range of nesting baskets, and Zara Home also do a variety of storage baskets and boxes so you can display or discreetly store those nappies, swaddles and toys that you will inevitably start to accumulate (because the Jellycat range is just too cute).

Sassy Mama - stokke bouncer

Bouncer – We opted for the Stokke Steps bouncer as this product not only has a very ergonomic design that allows your baby to move and sleep naturally (and I’m a sucker for Scandinavian design) but it neatly flat packs away so you can conveniently slide it straight under your bed or sofa when not in use.  Products like this are a dream in Hong Kong, where space is at a premium.

Design Tips

Sassy Mama - wall stickerWall Art – You don’t have to paint a nursery or add a decorative border to add that je ne sais quoi to your baby’s sleeping area.  There are a range of wall stickers that are perfect and won’t remove any of the paint from your walls.  They are fun and come in a variety of designs. Check out notonthehighstreet (ask a friend in the UK to ship it out to you), Tiny Footprints & indigo Kids.

Alternatively, printing in HK is such great value for money that why not try your hand at making your own art.  I purchased an oversized frame from IKEA and created a simple design on Photoshop.  For those less IT-savvy Sassy readers, try creating a photo montage using eclectic frames that can provide that splash of colour you were craving, and a unique touch for you to be proud of.

 

Wardrobe – We had to clear out a section of our wardrobe to make way for the endless supply of sleep suits/ baby grows, etc…  I found a small chest of drawers from IKEA that nestled into one side of the wardrobe and allowed for hanging space at one side and a wicker basket to sit above the drawers.  Super simple, yet very effective for those first few months.

nappy stationChanging Station – This was one luxury we decided to dispense with, as we have a large work surface that we never use in our bathroom.  I ordered a small changing mat from Amazon and added (another) storage basket to the window ledge, which I personalised with empty jars and boxes for easy access to nappies and products when changing nappies at that hour of the day you didn’t even know existed.  I also created little signs for the baskets to add charm to those previously neglected areas.  They were really easy to make; buy some chalk paint and make sure you spray it in a well ventilated area or have daddy-to-be do it for you.  Then punch holes either side of the card once dry, thread the rope through and with a white chalk board pen write any message you want.  The beauty of it is you can change the message as much as you like by just wiping it off with a cloth – I love simple things! (Sham Shui Po is where I find all of my DIY saviours).

Pinterest – If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, I am a huge ambassador of this!  It is super simple and acts like an online concept board.  There you can create a design folder and start pulling ideas from all over the internet to help you highlight what is truly important for you to cover design-wise in your apartment that works for small spaces – Happy Pinning!

I really hope this has given you a few ideas and inspired you not to lose that nesting instinct but to address your design and space dilemmas in a clever, Sassy way.

Happy decorating mummies!

 

 

 

Summer Sweetness…

 

 

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I recently attended a friend’s hen party and was tasked with bringing some yummy sweet treats.  The theme for the party was ‘lemon & lime'; a lush, summer theme that demanded something light & delectable.  I popped my thinking cap on and came up with lemon pop cupcakes.  I absolutely love cupcakes anyway and know that they are always a crowd pleaser with any group of ladies.

I first discovered my love for cupcakes in New York, where at the time they were getting much air time thanks to the likes of Sex and the City.  Magnolia Bakery was my first experience of a NY cupcake and will always hold a special place in my heart.

I was fortunate enough to live in the heart of Soho and have my trusty friend Rebecca to point me the in right direction of anywhere worth visiting in NYC, meaning I could take my pick of the days to visit Magnolia Bakery, enabling me to miss the tourist dash you quite often see at peak times.  A cupcake to a New Yorker and tourist back then was like an egg tart to our local friends here in HK; like a new iPhone was being released every day, people would queue for blocks just to hold a Magnolia box in their hand and photograph that first bite.

It seemed fitting and appropriate to take my basic recipe from this loved cupcake and pay homage to the amazing simplicity and flavour.  Now all I needed to do was figure out how I was going to get my lemon fix through flavour and looks.  Appearance is everything; after all,we do eat with our eyes!   I decided to add lemon juice to my icing and for that extra surprise I added a delicate scoop of lemon curd to the centre of the cupcakes – just delightful.

The ingredients below are enough to make 12 cupcakes – if you’re not happy with the outcome then perhaps cupcakes just aren’t for you?!

Recipe

Prep time – 10 minutes for the cupcakes and 5 minutes for the icing

Cooking time – 20-25 minutes

Cupcake Bases

3/4 cup self-raising flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 stick of butter at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

Lemon curd (1 tsp per cupcake)

Buttercream

1 stick butter

3-4 cups icing sugar

Juice from 1 lemon

1/2 cup milk

Here’s how to create those fresh, summer delights…
cupcake 1Preheat your oven to 170 C (340 F) and line your cupcake tray with cases and set aside.  Place your flour into one bowl and add your butter to another.  Cream the butter with a mixer then add the sugar.  Now slowly add your eggs one at a time, ensuring all ingredients have been mixed after adding each egg.  Once combined, add in three parts both types of flour, vanilla extract and milk, again ensuring after adding each third that all ingredients are mixed well.

Now take a plastic spatula and scoop away all that goodness that has crept up the sides of your bowl and give everything a final mix.  Divide your ingredients between the 12 cupcake cases, but only fill 3 quarters of the way up leaving room for them to rise.

Place in the oven and once you get to about 20 minutes check your cupcakes with a toothpick by pricking the centre of one of your cupcakes.  If it comes out clean then they’re ready but if not, leave in for a few more minutes (this really depends on your oven).

Once ready, allow them to cool in the tray for 15 minutes then remove and let stand on a rack for an additional 15 minutes.  You don’t want to start piping your icing until the cupcakes are nice and cool.

cupcake 2While your little dears are baking away in the oven you can make a start on your buttercream topping.  Cream your butter & 1 cup of icing sugar with a mixer.  Now add your milk and an additional cup of icing sugar.  Slowly add your lemon juice (make sure you continue to taste the flavour and only add your preferred amount of lemon juice).  Continue to add the icing sugar until you reach your desired texture.  You will need to mix the cream for around 2-3 minutes until it becomes nice and thick and will hold your design when piped (nobody wantsfloppy buttercream!)

Once your cupcakes have cooled, cut a small cone shape away from the centre of each cupcake to allow your lemon curd to sit flush with the top of your cupcake.  I used 1 tsp per cupcake but you can add more if you just love lemon curd!  Once you have added your filling it is time for some piping action.  Take your favourite piping head and start swirling away.  To create the same effect as me, start at the edge of your cupcake and pipe inwards towards the centre.  Once you reach the centre gently push down with your piping bag into the icing and pull away, leaving a small point at the centre of your icing.  To decorate, I bought yellow, iced flowers and candy stripe straws to give that extra bounce of summer, but you can leave them plain – they will look just as scrumptious!

Now all that’s left to do is eat – enjoy the fruits of your labour and indulge in your favourite flavours and treats this summer.