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The perfect Red Lips, naturally!

In search of the perfect red lipstick, I’ve tried many brands and many shades over the years. Often they have been just a bit too pink or too orange. When I heard about this new comer on the organic cosmetics market, I was eager to give it a try!

When HAVU Cosmetics, a small Finnish company started by just 19-year old student of chemistry and biotechnology Lumi Maunuvaara, opened their online store on the 7th of August 2018 offering lipstick in three shades, everything was sold out within hours. Ever since the product was introduced at the Habitare-fair in Helsinki last autumn, it’s launch was internationally anticipated. Still, on their instagram account the team behind Havu said that the reception of their online store took them by surprise and they promised to manufacture more products as soon as possible.

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I was just fast enough to sneak one lipstick in RED into my shopping basket and check out before the virtual shelves were screaming emptiness. A few days later I heard the postman struggling to push the cardboard box through the mailbox. Inside, I found a beautifully packaged lipstick. It’s two-tone wooden case made of Finnish birch was chunkier than I expected, creating a sense of natural elegance.

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The lipstick was a joy to apply, even for a lazy make-up “artist” like myself. The consistency of the product is quite solid, allowing for a very thin first layer. Upon application of a second or third layer, the colour intensifies but does not smudge. The result is very natural and matte. I was a bit worried, that the shade would be a bit too orange for my taste, but I actually warmed to the warm red pretty quickly. I also found that the colour brightens up even more if I applied just a touch of transparent lip balm (Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour cream) on top.

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All ingredients are listed on the website for each shade: NUDE, RED and DARK and all of them with the exception of jojoba oil and some colouring agents, are edible. The first batch still includes a plastic collet, which will be replaced by natural components shortly. Good for the skin – good for nature.

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As the HAVU team puts it: “If young start ups with limited resources can go for natural and safe products as well as transparency in production, why couldn’t the big cosmetics industry giants do the same?” – Indeed!

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Havu is the Finnish word for the needle or sprig of a coniferous tree, such as pine.

The packaging is just so beautiful, isn’t it? I can’t wait to try the NUDE shade as well, once it becomes available again. The small team behind HAVU is also talking about expanding their product line, so stay tuned.  I love a brand with a story, humble beginnings, strong values and actually high quality products!

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Now, this puts a smile on my face!

Lipstick: HAVU

Pullover: Acne Studios (Second hand. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to the autumn)

Pendant: Dodo Jewelry

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Sunday breakfast outside

These autumn days have been fresh, yet warm and sunny. Sunday morning called for a breakfast outside on the beach.

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After packing half of the kitchen with us, we jumped on our bikes and found a calm spot by the lake. We set the table and started to prepare coffee on a camping stove. Coffee was followed by beans, scrambled eggs and some fried chantarelle mushrooms that caught our eye on our way to the beach. In the meanwhile, the homemade croissants and blueberry pie defrosted in the sun.

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The glimmering lake, the sound of waves hitting the sand and migrating birds gathering somewhere in the distance, the smell of coffee in the fresh morning air and the warmth of the sun on the skin were a pure joy for the senses.

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Long live Sunday mornings!

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Grandma’s blueberry pie

My most vivid memories of my grandmother Eila revolve around the coffee table, which was never short of sweet and savory homemade delicacies. Around Christmas I stuffed myself with her ginger bread cookies, then there was the early summer rhubarb pie, apple pies and blueberry pies in the autumn and of course cinnamon buns all year round.

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One of my all time favourites was the dark, juicy blueberry pie baked with a thick cardamon bread dough. A blueberry pie is often made with quark and a crumb base, but for me this almost black and doughy pie is the only real thing.

After several pieces of pie and many warm hugs, our car would pull out from grandma’s drive way. Eila would stand at her front door and wave at me until our car disappeared around the corner. I would wave back and smile with my purple teeth.

As the blueberry season is here again, let’s get baking! This version is gluten-free.

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Grandma’s blueberry pie

This recipe makes one oven tray worth of deliciousness. I used ingredients like grandma would’ve. You can try substituting the milk and butter with vegetarian alternatives such as oat milk and margarine.

The base

6,5 dl of gluten free white flour mix

3 dl of full fat organic milk

1 bag of dry yeast

1 dl of white cane sugar

2 tsp psyllium husk powder

2 tsp tapioca starch

1,5 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp good quality salt

130 g of butter

 

The filling

600 g of frozen (or fresh) forest blueberries (a bit over 1 litre)

1 dl of white cane sugar

3 tbsp potato flour

You’ll also need one egg for brushing the crust.

 

The process

Cut the butter into small cubes and let it soften in room temperature. Pour the frozen blueberries into a bowl and leave them to defrost.

Warm the milk in a saucepan until it feels warm to the hand. While the milk is warming up, mix 3 dl of flour, the dry yeast, the sugar, the psyllium, the cardamom, the salt and the tapioca well together in a separate bowl.

Pour the milk into another, large bowl. Add the dry mix gradually to the milk, whisking it thoroughly. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it sit for 10-15 min. You should see small bubbles on the surface as the dough expands.

Bit by bit, add the rest of the flour and the soft butter and knead the dough well with your hand at least for a good five minutes. The dough should start to come off from the sides of the bowl and off your hands but still remain soft. You can carefully add some more flour in case it feels very sticky.

Set 1/5 of the dough aside for decoration.

Spread some gluten free flour on an deep oven tray covered with a sheet of baking paper and pour the dough over it. Using your hands and some flour, tap the dough onto the paper until it fits the shape of the tray, the edges of the dough can rise a bit (this will create a delicious crust). Cover again with a towel and let it rise in room temperature for 35 min.

This is a good moment to turn on the oven and let it heat to 200 °c.

Break the egg in a small bowl or glass and mix it thoroughly.

Roll the rest of the dough into a long rectangular shape, about 0,5cm thick, again using flour to avoid the dough from sticking. Cut it in long, 1cm wide strips and brush them with the egg.

Get back to your bowl of blueberries. Pour the sugar and the potato flour over them and mix well. It’s OK that the berries are still icy.

After 35 minutes have passed, pour the berries over the base and spread them out evenly. Roll the sides of the dough down to form a thicker crust for your pie. Brush the crust with egg. Carefully lift the strips of dough over the pie to form a crisscross.

Put your pie in middle/lower part of the oven and let it bake for about 25min until the crust has a delicious caramel colour.

Make sure to enjoy a piece or two while the pie is still warm.

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kale pesto

Pesto with kale and spruce sprouts

I love veggie spreads: hummus, pesto, tapenade; you name it. What’s also great about them is that you can experiment around a basic recipe almost endlessly. So, here is a recipe for an absolutely delicious kale pesto with a crisp, full flavour. Spread it on bread or seed cracker, serve with roasted vegetables or add to a pasta sauce. I understand that not everyone has spruce sprouts available (I collected and froze some last year) and while they add that sharp tangy edge to this pesto, they are not essential to make a savory pesto following the rest of the recipe.

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 Makes about 4 dl

150g fresh kale

2 tbsp frozen or fresh spruce sprouts

2 dl sunflower seeds

2 cloves of garlic (go on, throw in a third, if you love garlic!)

zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

1 dl of olive oil (add more if needed)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp of honey

Toast the sunflower seeds in a frying pan on high heat, mixing often as they roast quickly. When the seeds have a light brown colour and they give a nice toasty smell, remove from heat. Wash the kale leaves, remove the hard stems and chop into pieces. Toss the kale and the sunflower seeds into a blender or food processor.

Grate the lemon peel and squeeze the lemon juice into the blender. Chop the garlic and add into the mix. Add spruce sprouts, honey, salt and finally the olive oil on top.

Blend into a smooth paste. I left mine a bit chunky but you can blend more for a smoother consistency. Store in a clean container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

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life with less plastic: Shampoo & Soap

I thought I had been conscious about using plastic for years: I avoided taking plastic bags in shops and favoured natural materials when choosing clothes and home decoration items. But some months ago there was a big turning point for me. One evening, after I’d cleaned my face, my favourite moisturizer ran out. I had seen this coming and had a new pump bottle ready in the bathroom cabinet. As I threw the empty bottle into the trash bin it made a sound as it hit the empty metal basket. With the new bottle of moisturizer in hand, it hit me: That old bottle will never go away. It will never biodegrade, and even if it will be out of my sight when the truck comes to pick up the trash next week, it will never disappear. It will be one more piece of plastic waste and contribute to the ever-growing dumps or floating plastic masses in the oceans. It was a realization I couldn’t ignore and I decided to do more to reduce my contribution to the plastic problem.

This morning I read in the news about a whale that had washed to the shore in Norway in such a bad state it had to be put down. When the whale was examined, it turned out that it’s stomach was full of plastic bags. Feeling very emotional about this news I decided to sit down with a cup of tea and read an article from Michael Stone’s book Awake in the World. The page that opened randomly read: “… Because we can’t surgically separate the thoughts you are having right now from the colors of this room or the icebergs that silently glide thousands of miles north and south of here, everything you experience right now is one. Everything in the world is the ground of our life.”

The thoughts and values that drive my actions, the plastic waste, the suffering whale, it’s all connected, it’s all happening in the here and now. So, I’ll continue to make efforts to reduce my impact with small everyday choices and also share them here if they can inspire anyone to do the same 🙂

So, let’s start with shampoo and soap – lots of plastic bottles right there! I’ve been using natural products from the bio shop for years but even they come in those damn bottles and often have chemicals in them. Last summer I switched into bar soap & shampoo and I’ve been super happy with the products I’ve found!

Shampoo

There are many shampoo bars on the market. At first the thought of using a shampoo bar felt strange and I remember trying it for the first time a couple of years ago in Brussels. The water in Brussels is very hard and my hair was left a bit sticky. Many brands advice that this is normal in the beginning, when your hair and your scalp are getting used to the new, more organic way of cleaning, and the stickiness will disappear after a while. The commercial shampoos might have left some residue of silicon and other chemical stuff that will take some washes to remove. The hardness of water also plays a role in how your hair feels after a shampoo bar wash. You can always do a baking soda treatment ( 1 tsp mixed in warm water and spread evenly on the hair, then rinse and wash your hair with the shampoo bar) if your hair feels weird during the adaptation period.

I love the Avocado oil shampoo from Estonian brand Nurme. Waiting to be tested are a Hemp oil shampoo also from Nurme and a Hemp & Turf shampoo from Finnish FLOW Cosmetics. The shampoo bars are also very affordable with prices starting around 4-5 eur.

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If you’re not sold on shampoo bars, don’t worry: there are some alternatives out there! Natura Siberica makes a shampoo and body wash that comes in a glass bottle, which can later be recycled or used as a container for something else.

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Soap

During our trip to Portugal last summer I stocked up on soap. The classic Claus Porto soaps are beautifully packaged and come in so many scents that it’s hard to choose from them. They make a great gift as well. Simply the perfect hand soaps for the bathroom!

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And by the kitchen sink we have a marseille soap with white tea from Pentik, a Christmas gift from my father.

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As a body wash I often use the shampoo bar as well, but I’m looking forward to trying out the Super foaming coconut soap from Nurme. It has two ingredients: Coconut oil and water, how cool is that!?

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Face soap

My biggest skepticism about switching to bar soap was about face cleansing. I imagined that a soap bar would dry out the skin and not remove make up efficiently. I was wrong. So far, I have two favourites: The detox soap bar from Madara and the blueberry face soap from Flow Cosmetics. Both products are designed with an oily/combination skin in mind, but there are alternatives for all skin types on the market. And what comes to the eye make-up, if anything is left on your face after cleansing, some coconut oil and cotton wool will take care of that!

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Another alternative to wash your face without turning to plastic bottles, tubes and jars is a natural Konjac sponge that promises to cleanse, exfoliate and detoxify the skin. You soak the sponge in warm water for a few minutes before use and then cleanse the face with it in circular motion, with or without soap. Rinse, squeeze and hang to dry after use and change the sponge every couple of months. I got a sponge that also has bamboo charcoal and is suitable for combination skin. Ekovista has alternatives for different skin types, and all of them come in stylish card board packaging.

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Hopefully you’ll enjoy creating your own new bathroom rituals with less plastic ❤

tabouleh salad with cauliflower

Last week I made a tabouleh salad using Finnish organic quinoa. The end result was a sticky, gooey porridge. It got eaten, but not with a big smile. This time, I decided to try cauliflower instead and Yes, now we’re talking! This recipe is raw, simple and quick to make, so even better.

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Side dish for 4-6 people:

1 middle-sized cauliflower

1 small red onion or 1/2 of a bigger one

1/2 cucumber

2 large, firm tomatoes

1 bunch of  fresh flat leaf parsley

1/2 bunch of fresh mint

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp ground cumin

salt & pepper to taste

Wash and chop the cauliflower florets into fine pieces or use a food processor to grind it. Do the same with the peeled red onion, flat leaf parsley and mint. Mix them all in a bowl.

Remove the seeds from the tomatoes. Chop them into small cubes and add to the mix.

Cut the 1/2 cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the watery seeds part with a tea spoon. Cut the cucumbers in small cubes & toss them into the salad.

Squeeze in the lemon juice, add the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

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6 years of 3Rooms+Kitchen

Thank you WordPress for reminding me, it’s been 6 years of 3Rooms+Kitchen today!

6 years ago I had just moved into my apartment on Rue Alfred Cluysenaar in Brussels. Since then it’s been 3 apartments and 3 countries, active and less active times with the blog. Life has been about searching: for my place, my professional calling, my passion. Maybe there is someone out there who has had the patience to follow me from the very beginning?!

During these 6 years the changes in my life, my values and my interests are apparent. From busy and active city life to a more quiet, calm life in the countryside. The Dior pumps have changed into rubber boots, the brunches in busy cafes into gluten-free homemade breakfast enjoyed at our own rustic kitchen table.

I got married. I left my job at the office, I took risks, I dreamed big. I struggled, I cried but I always somehow made it through, and grew. I’m still growing, and my life is looking more and more like me. I love teaching yoga, I love cooking plant based food for groups and retreats, I love sharing my lifestyle with the others who live in this community. I have a new family around me.

Now I’m sitting at the kitchen table, snow is dancing outside in the dimming light of the afternoon. Life is in constant movement, like the dance of the snow. There is always a flow, there is always beauty, there is always growth, and there are always new adventures about to unravel.

In 2017 3Rooms+Kitchen will be all about good food, sustainability, DIY, aesthetics, nature, travels and creativity. I hope you’ll accompany me on this journey.

Love,

Am

 

the nutty loaf

I’ve never been a big bread-baker but I’ve always loved those artisan breads that rustle as I break their crust with my fingers and smell their soft, airy interior…mmmmm. Well, since I went gluten-free about 6 months ago, I’ve been happy that I don’t live in Brussels anymore. The smell of warm bread, croissants and pain au chocolate that lingers on the streets would’ve been too much to take during the withdrawal period.

So, since I chucked gluten, I’ve been mostly relying on expensive store-bought bread that is usually on the dry side, and on home made seed crackers. But I decided that this year, 2017, would be a year of gluten-free baking, of mastering the bread and pastries without wheat.

Let’s start with this nutty loaf bread. This is the first attempt, so perhaps we’ll get back to this one later in the year. But all in all, it’s pretty good 🙂 Give it a try and taste for yourself!

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Makes 1 loaf of bread

3,5 dl gluten-free rolled oats

2 dl sunflower seeds

1 dl flaxseed meal

1 dl nuts (I just had peanuts, but you could use hazelnut, pecan, walnuts…)

2  heaping tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

0,5 dl buckwheat flour

3 tbsp psyllium powder

1 tsp salt

pinch of black pepper

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1 tbsp organic honey (agave syrup for 100% vegan bread)

0,5 dl vegetable oil (canola oil or olive oil)

3,5-4dl hot water

a bowl, a towel and a bread loaf baking dish (silicon or a metal one, lined with baking paper)

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Mix all the dry ingredients well in a bowl. Pour them into the baking dish.

Mix all the wet ingredients and pour into the baking dish. Mix very well, also from the bottom so that the water is absorbed evenly and add a bit more water if needed to form a thick, heavy paste. Tap the bread mix evenly to the baking dish using a spoon. Wrap the baking dish in a kitchen towel and let it sit in room temperature for 3-5 hours.

Then heat the over to 175◦c, remove the towel and place the baking dish in the middle part of the oven on the grate. Bake for 30 minutes.

Then remove the bread from the baking dish and place it directly on the oven grate in the middle part of the oven for another 40-50 minutes until the bread is firm and has a nice caramel brown colour.

Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in room temperature before cutting. Store in a container in the fridge or cut into slices and freeze. This bread works well toasted for a real breakfast treat!

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