Capetonian chocoholics’ Christmas wish comes true… We have a Lindt boutique!

I’m afraid this isn’t hot off the press anymore, but the week before last I attended the opening of Lindt’s first Cape Town Lindt boutique in Canal Walk, and the news is very exciting! Especially now with Christmas around the corner having an entire shop full of Lindt chocolate means you now have a new one-stop destination for stocking up your Christmas stockings. And then when you need a pick-me-up on New Year, for Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, your birthday and all those other weekends of the year when you need your Lindt fix…

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There are some things exclusive to the Lindt boutique which you won’t find in other stores, and for the first time Mother City people get a Lindt ball pick ‘n mix – choose your favourite flavours and they will be weighed and packaged up for you. When I was there I noticed some Lindt truffle flavours I haven’t tried before, like almond and Irish Cream. I can’t wait to get back to Canal Walk this summer holiday and start shopping.

Lindt is like the Louis Vuitton of chocolates, they really know how to make you feel special and a bit like a VIP. I don’t get out in the evenings very often (read that as ever) and had such a wonderful evening being plied with delectable chocolate desserts, Lindt truffles and champagne. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a seriously sweet tooth, so it was a bit like a dream come true. The Lindt master chocolatier was there, with an enormous solid chocolate Lindt truffle sculpture he had created, and they even showed us how the truffles are filled and let us eat them before the filling had even set. Bliss.

The boutique is downstairs opposite the Woolworths entrance in Canal Walk, near my other favourites Earthchild and Lush, so perfectly positioned to become one of those ‘must-pop-into’ stores to indulge myself.

Why your skin should be taking its vitamins

Most people think about vitamin C when they feel a cold coming on, but do you know that vitamin C in addition to being an essential part of your diet it is also your skin’s best friend?

Let me introduce you to the most exciting skincare launch of the year for me, Dermaceutic’s new TriVita C30, their top of the range vitamin C serum. Dermaceutic has become my everyday skincare brand this year and their products form the backbone of my skincare regime. If you want to read up some of my other reviews, I started with their Advanced Cleanser and Activ Retinol 1.0 serum and branched out to their Mask 15 (15% glycolic acid), then to their C25 antioxidant day cream and Light Ceutic night cream (8% glycolic acid). Their Hyal Ceutic fills in the gaps when I need some extra hyaluronic acid in my life. Now I’ve rounded off my regime with the missing piece of the puzzle, a 30% vitamin C serum.

img_0885What makes this vitamin C serum extra special? It contains three types of vitamin C to treat the surface and deeper layers of your skin. It also has the highest percentage available in the market. 

15% L-Ascorbic Acid protects the surface of your skin from UVB rays which cause pigmentation. The 14.5% Ascorbyl Silanol penetrates deeper into the skin and provides antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and 0.5% Ascorbyl Ester prevents collagen breakdown and the formation of melanin i.e. pigmentation. It also contains Ferulic Acid to boost the photo-protective actions of vitamin C and E.

I’m going over my notes from the launch and in retrospect all this scientific jargon is a bit confusing. But to sum it up, this vitamin C serum packs a punch and it really works. Vitamin C is difficult to stabilise and most serums decrease in efficiency over time as the vitamin C breaks down due to oxidation. After two or three months your serum might not be working as well as it did to begin with. The encapsulated form of vitamin C in this serum is stable over time, and it’s packaged in opaque and airtight packaging. It’s a light textured gel-serum which initially has a bit of that metallic vitamin C scent on application but this fades quite quickly.

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What does vitamin C do for your skin exactly? Did you know smoking one cigarette takes 15mg of vitamin C from your body and starves your skin of oxygen for 4 hours? Scary. Even if you’re not a smoker there is constant irritation from pollution, and UVA and UVB rays are the biggest causes of skin aging. Without vitamin C your body can’t make collagen for repair and regeneration. The antioxidant protection from vitamin C is absolutely vital as will stop new pigmentation forming and help with collagen formation. Basically if you’re worried about premature aging, are already showing the signs of aging like pigmentation, wrinkles and dullness, you’re a smoker or are undergoing treatments like peels then you REALLY want a good vitamin C serum in your routine.

Ideally you should be using it day or night, and apparently if you have to pick one (because let’s face it, this stuff isn’t cheap) it should be at night because that is when your skin regenerates. I prefer to use it during the day as a first line of defence when I know I’m going to be exposed to sun and free radicals. I do try to use this at night two or three times a week as well, but I usually use my retinol serum at night and this every morning.

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This is the premier product in their range and retails for R1596, which is on the pricey side – but you really get the results pay for. I literally have a little savings fund started up for when I run out of Dermaceutic products, and specifically to repurchase this serum when it runs out.

I’ve also rounded up a few other vitamin C options to cover the price spectrum, the Body Shop’s skin boost being the most affordable at R230 and the REN Flash Rinse at R550 being mid-range (though not a serum). I’ve used the Flash Rinse and I can say from experience it really works at temporarily perking your skin up. I have also used the Body Shop serum in the past and liked it, although when it comes to potency and efficacy it doesn’t compare. I haven’t tried the Mario Badescu or SkinCeuticals serums but they are at R775 and R969 respectively, and at those prices I would personally rather save up for TriVita C30 because of the vitamin C percentage as well as the packaging. I don’t think the droppers are the way to go.

Baking your own Sourdough Bread

After my life update post I got a request for my sourdough bread recipe, so I thought I would explain the what’s and how to’s today. Sourdough is a dough which is fermented using naturally occurring bacteria and yeast. Wild yeast is floating around in the air, it is on everything, even on your fingertips!  It’s amazing that you can capture this and turn plain flour and water into something ultra delicious. According to Wikipedia “One of the oldest sourdough breads dates from 3700 BCE and was excavated in Switzerland” so basically this way of making bread has been around for thousands of years and is a natural as you’re going to get.

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I am just starting out and confess I don’t entirely understand the science behind what goes on with the gluten etc. in the process, but let’s just call this sourdough for dummies. Firstly you’ve got to start by making a starter – the magic ingredient in your bread recipe. I used the steps from King Arthur Flour .

  1. Day 1: Combine 1 cup of rye flour with 1/2 cup of water in a glass jar or bowl.Stir everything together thoroughly; Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature for 24 hours. 
  2. Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (about 1/2 cup). Add 1 cup of regular bread flour (I use Eureka Mills white bread flour) and 1/2 cup water. I use lukewarm water. Mix really well and leave it for 24 hours.
  3. Day 3: By the third day, you’ll likely see some activity — bubbling; a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It’s now time to begin two feedings daily, morning and evening. Measure out a full half cup of starter and throw the rest away. Add one cup of bread flour and 1/2 cup of water. Mix really well and leave it until you repeat before bedtime.
  4. Day 4: Repeat day 3.
  5. Day 5: Repeat day 3. 
  6. Day 6 and 7: By this time your starter should be bubbly. It all depends on the environment so it could take as little as 5 days or it could take 10. I think it took me about 10 days to two weeks to get my starter really bubbly. You know it is ready when it is very bubbly, almost frothy, with a sour smell and you can see the bubbles on the sides of your jar. If you’re in doubt you can do a float test but putting a teaspoon full into a glass of water. If it floats, it’s ready to make bread with.

I got this picture of sourdough starter from The Perfect Loaf because it’s a great picture of what your starter ought to look like.

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Now that your starter is ready, you only need to feed it once a day. I got into a routine of feeding mine at night. It becomes like a pet that you have to feed and look after, but it definitely gives back to you, just like a dog. You can also put it into the fridge and only take it out to feed once a week or so, but I felt like I was being cruel to it when I saw it go all flat in the fridge.

Now to make your bread! I use this recipe from The Clever Carrot which gives a lengthy explanation of each step with pictures, if you want to have a look. Otherwise I have the recipe below and some tips.

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Photo credit: The Clever Carrot

Yes, it is a long process making sourdough bread. It basically takes all day, but the bonus is that for most of that time you just leave it to do its thing. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than bread using commercial yeast. I haven’t tried baking it in anything other than my Dutch oven. I got mine from Takealot but if you are lucky enough to have a Le Creuset pot then that would work perfectly. Mine doesn’t have enamel coating so I coat it with rice flour before adding my ball of dough. The end result is a crispy, crusty loaf of warm, delicious bread that the human body can actually digest and get the nutrients from the grain – something which the commercial bread making process destroys and as a consequence store bread has to be fortified.

I even use my starter to make my own pizza dough (only takes about 2 hours) and the pizza bases have come out great.

If you’re thinking why all this fuss, perhaps have a look at this trailer for Cooked. It will make you think a bit. If you can, watch the part titled ‘Air’ which describes in detail how we have lost the goodness in bread which has kept people alive for thousands of years through industrialisation and mass production since WWII. It really inspired me to get back to the age-old tradition of healthy cooking. Even if it takes two weeks to make the main ingredient and ALL day to bake the bread, it’s worth it!

Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Makeup. Long to say, quick to apply!

A while ago I used up my Chanel Les Beiges foundation, and although I loved it when I first got it my relationship with it soured a little as winter went on and my skin got oilier. Yes, for some unknown reason my skin always gets oilier in winter and drier in summer. Anyway, I was looking out for a new everyday foundation when I noticed Estee Lauder’s new Double Wear offering online – Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick Radiant Makeup – and decided I would give it a go. I am shade 2N1 Desert Beige.

For anyone who likes Double Wear but wishes it were a bit less matte and heavy for everyday use, or hates the bottle with lack of dispenser, or doesn’t need that much coverage except on special occasions, or finds it a bit drying on their normal/dry skin, then this might be the version you will fall in love with. I certainly have!

First of all, the sponge applicator is a dream come true. No more applying a pump to the back of my hand (and forgetting the remnants) or struggling to somehow get water-thin foundation from a dropper onto my face. You just twist the bottom and it releases foundation onto the sponge. If you add to much it is retractable and draws most of it back into the bottle. Genius. Estee Lauder is marketing this as a “professional tool” and has factored that into the price – R525 for a 15ml tube – but I wouldn’t exactly agree with them. It’s good quality, feels nice on the skin and does a good job of applying the foundation, but you do still need a quick go-over with a proper bushing brush at the end. Also, when I purchased it I was told they will be reducing the price to R480 going forward. What makes me very fond of it though is how convenient and mess-free the application is.

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The coverage is much more sheer than the original Double Wear but is somewhat buildable. It goes on very dewy but dries down to have a velvety feel to the touch. It looks very natural in that it isn’t too matte but isn’t too ‘radiant’ either. I only powder a bit around my nose and center of my forehead. It still lives up to the Double Wear reputation by being really long lasting – no touch ups required during the day.

Cushion stick on the left, no foundation on the right

Now my one little gripe. Estee Lauder is obviously trying to refresh its brand and appeal more to younger women, which is great. I love their new advertising and new products. But if they really want us to view them differently they need to go cruelty free. This isn’t the 1950s. The generation they are appealing to makes their choices based on things like that, not just on cute advertising.