Hokusai The Great Wave Exhibition, British Museum, London

Hokusai exhibition, London

The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition at the British Museum is a spectacular affair of oriental art, colour and history. The exhibition illustrates the work of one of Japan’s most famed artists, Kasushika Hokusai.

Hokusai (1760-1849), lived and worked in Japan throughout his lifetime, producing some of his most famed artwork in his later life, a firm believer that with age would come artistic excellence.

During his 90 years, he produced a spectacular creative spectrum of beautiful art, including famed print collections, illustrated books and a variety of intricate paintings.

The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition illustrates the last 30 years of the extraordinary artists life and showcases many of his masterpieces, including the celebrated Great Wave (an iconic highlight for many).

Hokusai The Great Wave Exhibition, British Museum, London

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave exhibition

In his later life, Hokusai became to become influenced by European techniques and artforms, integrating this knowledge into developed art styles, perfectly illustrated throughout the exhibition.

Discover works depicting enchanting landscapes, wonderful portraits, vibrant communal scenes, mystical creatures and delicate illustrations of nature.

The exhibition is open until the 13th August, 2017 and offers a rare oppurtunity to see these great works collectively, as well as the oppurtunity to explore the context of influence for one of Japan’s most exceptional artists. I can highly recommend it for any fan of Japanese culture or art.

You can buy tickets to the event here for £12. For a sneak preview of the event, take a look here.

Are you a fan of Hokusai? Which piece of artwork is your favourite?

Stephanie xox

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Healthy fruit and nut bars

How to make healthy nut and fruit bars at home

Healthy nut and fruit bar ingredients:

  • 90g of cashew nuts
  • 90g of dates
  • A drop of vanilla eccense
  • 30g of cranberries
  • 30g of raisins

Preperation time: 5 mins

Healthy nut and fruit bar recipe

These delicious Nakd inspired homemade fruit and nut bars are a healthy, easy and cheap alternative to store-bought products. All you need, are a few simple natural ingredients and a food processor – it can’t get any easier than that!

Firstly, whizz up your cashew nuts in your food processor till they have a thoroughly chopped texture. Add the dates to the mix and blend till you have what resembles an almost rubble like mixture as illustrated in the picture below.

Healthy fruit and nut bars

Add the vanilla essence (opt out if you prefer) and whizz in the 30g of cranberries and raisins. Without the additional fruit, you have the perfect Nakd Cashew Cookie replica! By now, you should have a squidgy mixture, clumping together when squished by hand.

Line a dish with cling film and spoon in the mixture, wrapping it in the cling film and pressing it to set.

Leave your dish in the fridge for a few hours to set and you are good to go!

Healthy fruit and nut bars

This recipe creates around 4 Nakd sized bars. For more, just double up the ingredients. These can even be frozen to enjoy later, it’s a win win really!

These homemade fruit and nut bars are just perfect for on the go or to enjoy as a healthy snack to compliment your lunch. They are calories friendly and packed full of delicious nutrients.

What do you think of these healthy fruit and nut bars? Which ingredients would you experiment with?

Stephanie xox

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How to make creme egg brownies

Creme Egg brownies ingredients and recipe

Creme Egg brownies have kind of been dominating my Instagram feed for the last few weeks now. So, with Easter fast approaching, I had to have some of the delicious treats for myself. Saying this, my boyfriend beat me to it and whipped up this incredible batch of brownies for me last week.

Take a peek at our quick and easy Creme Egg brownie recipe, here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 300g of milk and white chocolate (chocolate chips or pieces)
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • Four eggs
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 3 Cadbury Creme Egg’s

How to make creme egg brownies

Method: How to make Creme Egg Brownies

  1. Add the chocolate, butter, sugar and salt to a large pan
  2. Heat the mixture on a low heat until it is melted and smooth
  3. Place this aside and beat the four eggs into the mixture, following with the flour and cocoa powder
  4. Add the mixture to a lined and greased baking tin
  5. Cut your Creme Eggs in half and place them ‘sunny side up’ within the mixture
  6. Bake in the centre of a preheated 180C oven for approximately 20-25 minutes depending on your preference
  7. Allow to cool slightly before devouring these delicious easter treats

We’re naughty so add a combination to white and milk chocolate chips, put it is entirely up to you how you adapt this recipe. Do be warned, the Creme Eggs will melt during baking, and this gives a wonderful fondant flavour to the brownies.

What do you think of this recipe? What are your favourtie types of brownies? 

Stephanie xox

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Scones at Patisserie Valerie Oxford, Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie review

A Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea review

Afternoon tea is one of the numerous pastimes that makes me rather proud to be British – it is a fabulous tradition. After a busy week at work, what better way to unwind than with good company, deliciously quaint sandwiches, and a selection of delicious treats?

The best thing about Patisserie Valerie is that it offers quality afternoon tea for two, nationwide – they are literally everywhere. Being my thrifty self, I indulged in a Groupon voucher (please, stop presenting me with so many good offers) and saved myself over 20% off the original price!

What is included in the Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea?

So, what did we get in our Patisserie Valerie afternoon tea for two? Check out the menu below:

  • A selection of finger sandwiches: cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise and cress, ham, spinach and mustard and chicken, pesto and sunblazed tomatoes
  • Two mini vegetable quiches
  • A selection of mini cakes: mini Victoria sponge, 2 mini chocolate éclairs, mini carrot and walnut cake, mini mixed berry mousse slice and mini chocolate mousse slice
  • Four homemade scones (two plain and two fruit), clotted cream and a selection of preserves
  • A pot of tea or two hot drinks of your choice

Cakes at Patisserie Valerie Oxford, Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie review(1)

So, what did I think of the Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea?

My initial reaction was how wonderfully it was all presented, there is such an array of food on offer so it is all pretty indulgent. A nice touch is that sandwiches are made to order and there is also vegetarian options available.

However, I will truly be impressed if you manage to finish it all. There was far too much there for us to eat, and our lovely selection of mini pastries were beautifully packaged and taken home with us to indulge in later.

I found the staff to be a little brash, but this may have just been the Oxford branch. Some venues even cater to bubbly-fanatics and offer a glass of prosecco alongside your afternoon tea – go on, treat yourself.

Have you tried the Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea? Where is your favourite place to have afternoon tea?

Stephanie xox

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Ghibli by hyung86

The great Animation debate: Ghibli versus Disney

Disney is a universal brand, a timeless reflection back to our youth, brimming with fond memories of cinema trips and cosy nights in with the family. Tales of traditionally perfect Princesses, talking animals and sing-along-songs. The companies ability to hold a special place in the hearts of each generation for almost a century is admirable. So, why is Studio Ghibli, the Japanese counterpart for the East, so much more?

For those who do not know of Studio Ghibli, it was founded in 1985, around 62 years after its fair-to-say rival, Disney. The Japanese company has created over 20 beautiful animated feature films to date, with their own array of wonderfully crafted heroes and heroines.

The two animation giants undoubtedly share similar traits, their work is utterly timeless and adored globally. However, it is a belief shared by many that the East began to take over the West when it came to quality animation, and there are a fair few reasons why Studio Ghibli will always surpass Disney.

Growing up, I watched both Disney and Studio Ghibli films, and the latter continues to move me as I edge towards my mid-twenties (a scary prospect). The heart of Studio Ghibli stems from its animation team, especially from the creative brain of the former lead director, Hayao Miyazaki, who created something with a far deeper moralistic and feminist meaning.

Ghibli Posters

Why are strong female leads so important in animation?

Like many, I found myself learning far more from Studio Ghibli, with their tales of female struggle and empowerment (most films tend to have a strong female lead). Unlike the Disney Princesses, the heroines are relatable without the patronising undertone and the magic and depth of their fantasy tales awakens the attention of adults, as well as presenting important moral dilemmas and messages for children watching.

Looking at the female leads in Disney films (predominantly the Disney Princesses) in comparison to those in Studio Ghibli, a striking difference will continuously manifest itself. Time and time again in Disney, it will be seen that these princesses are overtly defenseless without the men in their lives to rescue them (Mulan, Merida and the new Princess Moana being the few exceptions).

Compare this to Studio Ghibli, and you will find feminist icons in abundance,  the majority of Ghibli films have an admirable and strong female lead. Miyazaki says:

“Many of my movies have strong female leads – brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe in with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.”

Not relying on a man (or anyone for that matter) is a recurring theme, everyone is seen as equal in the gender Olympic’s and this is just wonderful for the self-esteem of a small child, who doesn’t love feeling empowered and equal?

WHY is female empowerment needed IN ANIMATION?

An example of utter reliance on men is presented to us in The Little Mermaid (Disney). Our leading mermaid, Ariel, plays centre-stage under the sea, she is beautiful, feisty and terribly naive. Of course, she falls head-over-heels for the ‘wrong’ guy in the opinion of her father, whom she then desperately seeks out upon the land in exchange for her voice. He notices her, but not enough to avoid being bewitched and ensnared by a witch. Says it all but a happy ending is guaranteed, this is Disney.

old-sophie-howls-moving-castle

Compare this with female protagonist Sophie of Howl’s Moving Castle (Studio Ghibli), and you are presented with a self-conscious wallflower. Sophie is plain and unnoticed, obviously reinforced as viewers see that even her own mother fails to realise her transformation from a young girl into a twisted hag. This ordinary girl, no ‘beauty’ on her side, must seek out a wizard whose attention she had caught in her youthful state. The issue being that she cannot speak a word to anyone about the curse and therefore must lurk around until she can figure out how to break it herself, while her wizarding companion is on a quest to find himself also.

There is far more depth to Sophie, she’s opinionated, brash and stern (probably something to do with the aged state and being utterly fed up). Whereas Ariel is presented as emotionally motivated and stroppy, only seeking her happiness as an end goal and caring little for the loss of those around her (particularly her somewhat overbearing father who is terrified about her disappearance). On the other hand, Sophie seeks to help all those around her, she is a complex character whose love and compassion motivates her throughout, perhaps even at her own expense and happiness at times.

The problem with Disney is that helplessness, ‘love’ and beauty define the Princesses. With Studio Ghibli, beauty isn’t key, the female leads are admired for their strength, journey, and powerful hearts. It is a stark and reoccurring difference, just select any Disney or Studio Ghibli film.

Some critics argue that Studio Ghibli films exploit these young heroines. However, It would seem that the consensus argues that Ghibli, in fact, challenges girls to solve their own problems. Saying this, modern Disney appears to have approached this too with ‘stronger’ characters such as Mulan and Merida, to name a few. In contrast, Studio Ghibli has been doing this with his characters since day one, in a culture often perplexed by such dominating female empowerment.

Another perk is that Studio Ghibli animations provide far more cultural exploration for us Westerners and prove themselves to be culturally apt. Whereas Disney often fails to truly embrace the cultures of their Princesses in their locality.

Often you will hear of Disneyland being the ‘most magical place on earth’, its stories the basis for this magic. I argue that Studio Ghibli offers far more magic, it teaches us to be kind, to not judge, to respect and cherish our environment (nature being of great religious importance to the Japanese), that pacifism can work and childhood transitioning is tough, no one can save you from it but you.

Their stories are creative, with complex and challenging storylines, developed and iconic characters, heartwarming and meaningful messages, embellished with beautiful animation. Studio Ghibli will remain timeless to its audience, holding many an animated heart for a lifetime with their emotion invoking work. The core and important message will stay the same, despite your gender, appearance, size or background, you can achieve anything you want to, and this is why Studio Ghibli will always surpass Disney.

Does your heart remain with Disney or Studio Ghibli? What is your favourite Ghibli film?

Stephanie xox

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