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Spring is the most delightful season where temperatures are moderate, and daylight is aplenty. We may not have Spring in our little island of Singapore but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the season! Whether you’re looking to grab that glue gun or showcase your green thumbs, scroll on for 5 Pinterest-worthy, DIY floral projects to get you into the springtime mood.

 

1. Floral centrepiece

Image cred: Pinterest

Find a desired container, get some floral foam, purchase some blooms and you’re ready to go! The amount of flowers needed will vary according to the size of your container. Be sure to choose blooms of different colours and heights for a less uniform and more natural look. Check out some expert advice via The Spruce.

 

2. Floral bike basket

Image cred: Pinterest

Decorate your wheels with some floral details! Well, but if you’re more of a handlebars type of girl, this could work for your bike’s bars as well.

Takes 15 minutes
Materials

Take each large bloom, trim off the leaves and cut the stem off at about 4 inches. Hold the flower over the bike basket and affix the flower with a floral wire of 7 to 8 inches long. Weave the wire through and around the basket grids. Repeat the entire process with all your blooms, across the basket in a diagonal pattern. Once done, insert several stalks of filler flowers and greens. Wedge these in between the larger flowers and use more wire if needed. Add more to your liking and you’re all set.

 

3. Mini floral bouquets

Image cred: Jessica Keala on The Letter Muse

Mini bouquets are adorable, fun gifts that can be easily attached to a card. Choose any Spring blooms and simply arrange it to your own personal style.

 

4. Coffee filter peonies

Image cred: Pinterest

Coffee filter peonies are a unique and fuss-free alternative to fresh flowers because honestly, who has the time and budget to maintain fresh cut ones? Plus, there are a million colour possibilities with this easy-to-make DIY project.

Takes 15 minutes
Materials

Fold one coffee filter in half, in the sequence of the folding steps below (courtesy of The Stony Brook House). Then, cut the top off in the shape of an ice cream cone. For full fluffy peonies, layer several coffee filters on top of each other, poke a hole in the middle and connect with pipe cleaners of any desired colour. You may choose to dye your coffee filter peonies with varying shades of food colouring to achieve a realistic floral effect too.

Image cred: The Stony Brook House

5. Colander planters

 

Image cred: Pinterest

Forget flower pots. Use an old colander to hang spring flowers and update your balcony, or porch! Wrap one colander handle with some gardener’s twine and tie off with a dab of glue. Knot approximately 45cm of twine at each of the handle and repeat entire process with the opposite handle. Then, line the colander with sheet moss and fill with potting soil and desired plants. Ferns could be a good choice! Tie four lengths of twine together, hang and admire.
Not a fan of colanders? Use tea tins or even rainboots for this!

After you’ve tried our DIY suggestions, kick back to appreciate your handmade decorations and unwind with a cup of Floral Blossom tea.

Floral Blossom

After a long and stressful day at work, our skin is akin to the Sahara Desert, dry and rough. With the demands of modern-day life, the constant air-conditioning and blue light from our computer screens, our skin's moisture is slowly zapped away. We don't always have money for luxury facials or skincare; so how on earth do give our skin the TLC it needs without breaking the bank?

Well, remember the do-it-yourself (DIY) trend that popped up in the early 2000s? It's time to bring that back. For the next time you're too lazy (or broke) to head down for a facial, simply turn to your kitchen for a quick mask fix. All you need are common ingredients that can be found in your refrigerator, such as  avocado and milk. Who knew food could be as delicious as it is great for our skin? Read on to find out more about 5 DIY moisturising natural face masks recipes that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home.

Honey Chamomile Mask

 

Unbeknownst to many, raw honey has been touted as a holy grail beauty product since the ancient days. Its high antioxidant content help to replenish dull skin by adding moisture and glow. When paired with chamomile, which possesses anti-inflammatory properties, this facial mask will aid in boosting moisture to dry and dull skin, giving you a fresh-faced glow. In addition, this mask also helps to fight acne and other pesky breakouts. Use this mask at the end of a long day, or simply when you feel like treating yourself. After all, this mask is inexpensive, and can be found in the vicinity of your kitchen!

Instructions:

  1. Pour 60ml of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers. Wait until cool, then strain.
  2. Add one teaspoon of raw honey and mix well. If mixture is too runny, add more honey.
  3. Apply the mixture evenly to the face and leave on for about 15 minutes. Rinse the mask off with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Avocado and Pumpkin Mask

 

 

A facial mask made out of avocado and pumpkin sure sounds funky - but don't underestimate the power of these fruits. Avocado is extremely hydrating for the skin due to its high fat content, and pumpkin can help to reduce the appearance of pore size and regulate oil production. This avocado and pumpkin mask is definitely a fuss-free way to treat your skin well without breaking the bank. To take the moisturising even further, add a few pumps of hyaluronic acid, which can be found at drugstores, for glowing skin.

Instructions:

  1. Mash one quarter of an avocado and a small slice  of organic pumpkin in a bowl.
  2. To the bowl, add three pea-sized squirts of hyaluronic acid and mix well.
  3. Apply the mixture evenly to your clean and dry face for 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Oatmeal and Milk mask

In this fully edible face mask, oatmeal takes the centre stage. Oatmeal helps to remove excess oil and dirt from the skin, and works great as an exfoliating mask. In addition, its strong anti-inflammatory properties make it suitable for sensitive and acne-ridden skin. When paired with milk, this mask becomes a great way of exfoliating dead skin cells to give a youthful and glowing complexion.

Instructions:

  1. Measure one tablespoon of whole rolled oats, and transfer to a small bowl.
  2. Add two tablespoons of milk to the oats, and stir well.
  3. Apply to the face and leave on for 15 minutes before washing off with lukewarm water.
  4. Moisturise.

Banana Mask

If you find yourself struggling to finish the bunch of bananas that you bought from the supermarket last week, simply add it to your skincare routine! Bananas can help to moisturise your skin and leave it feeling smooth and supple.

Instructions:

  1. Mash half a banana in a bowl.
  2. Add a tablespoon of orange juice and a tablespoon of honey, mixing and stirring well.
  3. If your skin is feeling extra dry, add in a tablespoon of glycerin to ramp up the moisturising factor.
  4. Apply evenly to your face and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water.

Antioxidant Berry Mask

With fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in the mix, this mask will surely fight off dullness and dryness with its high Vitamin C and antioxidant content. On top of that, this mask is going to smell so good, you'll be fighting to stop yourself from licking it off your face!

Instructions:

  1. Mash 5 blackberries, 5 raspberries and 5 blueberries in a bowl until a thick puree is formed.
  2. Apply evenly to your face and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse off with lukewarm water and pat dry.

The next time you find yourself tight on budget but in need of a facial, turn to these 5 DIY moisturising face mask recipes for a quick fix. And here's an extra pro-tip: enjoy your DIY facial with Nilufer Tea's organic herbal tea. After all, wouldn't you want a nice warm cup of drink to hold on to and sip while lying back and enjoying the mask working its magic on your skin? If you want to go natural, go natural all the way! Get these great teas here and you'll be on your way to a better well-being.

There are few things better than plucking a fresh juicy red tomato from your window for a salad or sandwich. After all, you are eating the fruits of your labour and that can be incredibly satisfying.

Besides herbs, such as mint and coriander, there are some vegetables that can be a great asset to your mini-garden as well. If you plan to venture into deeper waters, perhaps your next garden project could involve growing tomatoes.

The humble tomato, which is native to Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador, is a lot more difficult to grow than mint. The rewards, however, are just as amazing. If you feel inspired to add some tomato plants to your garden, keep these tips handy!

 

1. To-may-to, To-mah-to

 

There are dozens of varieties of tomatoes, and all of them have slightly different characteristics and need different conditions for optimal growth. In sunny Singapore where the temperatures can be excruciatingly warm, you would find that it may be easier to manage tomatoes that are more tolerant of the tropical climate. Examples of these varieties include: Arkansas Traveler Heirloom Tomato, Black Cherry Tomato, Creole Tomato and Florida 91 Tomato. This is just the tip of the iceberg – some quick research will give you a mind-boggling amount of varieties to choose from.

 

2. Give Them Space

It is no surprise that Singapore has land constraints, so it is rare that you’d have a plot of land to work with. But if you do, then just plant them about a metre apart. However, you live in an HDB or an apartment, things can get slightly trickier. You would need big containers or pots to contain your tomato plant. Ideally, each plant (unless it is a small tomato variety) should be planted in its own individual container that is at least a square foot.

 

3. Use Good Soil

 

Use good quality potting soil that is rich in organic matter and keep the pH slightly acidic at 6.2 to 6.8. It is extremely important that you fertilize the plants. Otherwise the beautiful fruits that you envision may not even appear. Mix some slow release fertilizer into the soil and water with a diluted liquid fertilizer every week or every other week.

 

4. Consistent Watering

As with fertilizer, tomatoes in the tropics need lots and lots of water. However, you need to be consistent in the amount of water you give to the plant, especially if you are growing your plants in a container. That means that if you water a specific amount, do not change that amount or skip days. If you do, your tomatoes may burst or crack. This is crucial especially when your tomatoes get bigger. Make sure that there is good drainage because with our humid climate, it is very easy for tomato plants to get fungal infections.

 

5. Growth in the Sun

 

 

Tomatoes need lots of sun so make sure you put your plant by a window or a part of your veranda that receives lots of sunlight. However, do keep an eye on the temperature. Most tomato varieties do not grow well when the temperature climbs above 32 degrees Celsius.

With these top tips for successfully growing tomato plants and harvesting tomatoes, we hope your garden flourishes with the tasty tomatoes. If you plant them today, maybe in the next 10-11 weeks you might be using actual home-grown tomatoes in your recipes!

Written by Annmaria Patteri

A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant and herb specimens. These specimens are typically used for scientific study, but for the everyday collectors, a herbarium can just be a unique decoration in your house. I'll be honest, when researching, I initially thought a herbarium was like a terrarium but with herbs instead of usual plants like cacti. *cue laughter* Turns out it's a collection of herbs in frames. So if you were like me and you thought this article was an online terrarium workshop, it's time to learn something new! Life is all about surprises and spontaneity, isn't it? 

A simple herbarium

To produce a comprehensive physical collection, there are a few facets that require your attention when creating your own herbarium. If you wish to create a simple one that requires minimal effort, it is a much simpler process but if you want to create a more sophisticated and professional looking herbarium, you may need to purchase a few items. Let us start with the simple one first; this is a great activity to do with your kids or nature-loving friends because it'll get you out of the house and into the sun where you will get that much needed vitamin D.

What you will need:

Many of these items can be found at your local book or stationery store and they are inexpensive so this fun little project definitely won't burn a hole in your pocket.

Instructions:

  1. Grab your kids or friends and suit up in khakis and tank tops. Do not forget your suncreen, hats and sunglasses.
  2. Venture out into the woods, nature reserves or even your backyard and you the pair of scissors to cut and gather the plants and flowers you would like to add to your collection. However, do make sure it is alright for you to take these plants from your local nature spots.
  3. Note down the location you found each specimen and if you can already identify them, do note down their names so you can research more once you reach home and write it on your final herbarium sheet.
  4. Once you have all the plants you would like in your herbarium, clean any dirt and bugs off the plant.
  5. Place the plants in the centre of an opened book - the plant should be spread out so you can see the whole thing, then close the book and place more books on top for added weight.
  6. Leave the plants to dry for 7-14 days.
  7. Once dried, tape each specimen to one sheet of paper and place them into the plastic covers. Decorate each sheet with the information of each specimen eg. scientific name, native location, color, smell, etc.
  8. Compile all sheets into your binder and enjoy!

Not too hard, right? This is no doubt a fun and productive way to spend the weekend with your loved ones. Collecting is a good hobby to foster amongst children because studies have shown that it improves both creativity and pattern recognition in children. Seeing as collecting requires organisational skills, the hobby also allows them to improve their aptitude for recognizing everyday characteristics and being able to identify breaks in a pattern.

A bigger and more comprehensive herbarium

Now, if you would like to make a bigger herbarium, your mounting process will differ slightly from the previous set of instructions. It will also cost slightly more to put together but it will come out looking like something from a museum. The only thing that changes would be the mounting process. Instead of putting your sheets into a plastic protector, purchase a plastic screen to paste on top of your sheet, and then frame it in a glass frame instead of a binder. Your frames will go nicely as a decoration over your bed or dining room. Nothing like a little splash of green hues to brighten up your day. Not to mention it is great for that mid-work eye break. As you add more to your collection and you find yourself without any more space, they make great gifts as well. Nothing shows love quite like a handmade gift!

For the adventurous craftsmen out there, you can make your very own flower press as well. Pressed flowers can be used in other crafts projects too; like jewelry and decor.

What you will need:

Instructions:

  1. Stack the wood on top of each other and drill holes in all four corners, through both pieces of wood. (Note: make sure the drill bit is of the same size as your bolts)
  2. Cut your cardboard/wood slightly smaller than your 2 wooden boards and subsequently cut off each corner so that it will fit inside the bolts.
  3. Insert your bolts through both wooden boards so it looks like a sandwich.
  4. To use, place your flowers on pieces of cardboard and in between both wooden boards. Press down on the top board and leave the flowers or plants to dry.

You could even decorate your flower press while waiting for the flowers to dry. A word of caution, make sure you leave the flowers to dry for the aforementioned period of time before opening the press to peek! The flowers might rip or crumble if they are not completely dried.

So there you have it, the tips and how-to to make your very own herbarium. It isn't exactly the easiest art project but it isn't the hardest either. If you have a great appreciation for plants and you would like it to manifest into something most tangible for decorative purposes, then this is the project for you.

We at Nilufer would love to see some of your creations! Do tag us on instagram of the pictures of your herbariums! Enjoy crafting!

A number of things come to mind when one thinks of wine: a romantic evening, a relaxing day, a great accessory for a bath and a lovely drink for a much needed light buzz after a long day at work. It is the ultimate 'adult drink', the grape-based drink that goes well with virtually anything! Personally, I enjoy a light fruity moscato over red wines because I like sweeter flavours so herbal wine is definitely on the other spectrum of my taste scale. There has to be a logical reason behind the very existence of this subset of wine. And I am nothing if not adventurous so I gave it a chance and did my research (of course), and to make it more fun, I wanted to look into DIY wines. It won't be the easiest process but it is certainly highly rewarding! It isn't everyday you get to serve DIY wine at your cocktail parties, no?

Getting the poor elephant out of that tiny room, herbal wine is definitely far less common than the traditional grape wines and they are simply herb-based wines. Herbal wines are either a dry-herb infusion or a fresh-herb infusion. The former infuses at room temperature and for a longer period of time, while the latter infuses in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

On the archaeological record, the earliest wine-making activities go back to as far back 6,000 years ago across the globe. It has been used as a populist medicine that stimulates the nervous and circulatory systems and offers a strong boost to digestion. All types of herbs are used to achieve these results, as well as offering other health benefits such as improving one's mood, promoting internal movement, cleansing the organs and supporting various bodily system functions. Apart from the numerous health benefits, did I mention it actually tastes fragrant, floral and light? Much like a spring/summer breeze on a nice sunny day by the ocean. You're welcome for that spark in your imaginary dreamscape.

Now, moving on, I will share the process of making DIY wine or home-brewed wine and a recipe for you to kickstart at home. Your resulting wine should taste like a cup of quality tea with a slight alcoholic taste; basically the wine version of herbal fruit tea.

The Fermentation Process

Simply put, the fermentation equation for an aspiring winemaker is as follows:

Sugary liquid + yeast (and the occasional friendly bacteria) + time = delicious fermented beverage (Christensen, 2013)

Fermentation is what turns a regular fruit like grapes into an alcoholic beverage. Yeast is required to transform the sugars in the juice/liquid into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide (a by-product).  The total duration for complete fermentation can take up to 3 weeks. Deliciousness and perfection takes time and cannot be rushed!

What equipment you will need

What ingredients you will need

Lets start brewing!

Note: every recipe follows this basic procedure:

  1. Prepare a sweet liquid
  2. Add yeast and stir the mixture frequently and well
  3. Allow to ferment
  4. Bottle
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Once you have your equipment and ingredients ready, the creative process is relatively fun and easy. When you become more confident in mixing fruits and herbs, you can wean off known recipes and experiment on your own to find your very own creation. Here is a recipe to get you started on your wine-making journey:

Image cred: photo-nic.co.uk nic on Unsplash

Blackberry-Hibiscus Wine

Ingredients
14 cups water
900g granulated sugar
1360g fresh blackberries
113g dried hibiscus
2 Campden tablets
1 packet dry wine yeast
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
A pinch of tannin
Instructions

  • Sanitize your bucket, lid, airlock and spoon.
  • In a stockpot, boil water and add and stir sugar until it dissolves in the water, then add the dried hibiscus and remove the pot from heat. Let it cool, then pour the mixture through a sterilized strainer into a bucket.
  • Place the fresh blackberries in a mesh bag in the bucket. With clean hands, mash the bag so that the blackberry juice is extracted into the mixture.
  • Crush 1 Campden tablet and stir into the liquid. Place the lid and attach the airlock, and let it sit for a day.
  • Prepare the yeast starter by scooping out one cup of the liquid with a sterilized measuring cup into a canning jar. Add the yeast and cover the jar with plastic wrap secured with a rubber band. Shake it well and let it stand for about three hours.
  • Add yeast starter, tannin, and yeast nutrient and stir vigorously, then replace the lid and airlock. Repeat the stirring for seven days using a sterilized spoon. (you can tell the mixture is fermenting because you will start to see bubbles appear in the airlock. Fun fact: the bubbles are carbon dioxide that are produced by the respiring yeast cells!)
  • In a week, sanitize a gallon jar (and its lid and airlock), cheesecloth or muslin, funnel, and spoon. Line your funnel with the cheesecloth, then slowly pour the mixture from the bucket into the jar. Close the lid tightly.
  • Let the mixture sit in a cool, dark, dry area for at least 4 weeks (you can age it for up to 6 months or more if you like!). If you age it for longer than 4 weeks, you’ll want to occasionally siphon it off from lees, or the sediment that collects at the bottom of the jar. To do this, sanitize a stockpot, racking cane and tip, and hose and siphon the mead from the jar to the pot. Then repeat the funneling step above, transferring the mead back into the jar from the pot.
  • When you’re ready to bottle the mead, crush a Campden tablet into the jar, stir, and let sit for at least 24 hours, then siphon the mead into sanitized bottles and cap (or cork).
  • Tip: Label your bottles with the dates they were made to keep track of the age!

If made right, this home brewed wine should taste almost like an herbal fruit tea and you'll be the talk of the party no doubt! Watch out wine stores, DIY wine just might be the next big thing.

Sick of sipping on the same old cup of flower tea every afternoon? Spice teatime up a notch by letting it melt into happy hour - infuse your cup of quality tea with a punch of alcohol. By combining two of your favourite beverages together, you can create your own easy DIY cocktails at home for a beverage fit for a party.

The beauty of quality tea cocktails is that you can always customize cocktails according to your preference of the day, and experiment with the different flavors that flower tea, organic green tea and organic black tea can bring out. Rest assured that quality tea is the best mixer ever - its neutral taste allows it to pick up the flavor of herbs and fruits quickly, it contains no sugar, and is also heart-friendly. Here are 5 delicious, easy DIY cocktails you can make at home to give teatime a whole new meaning.

Rose Tea Martini

On days when your special someone is coming to visit, a glass of rose tea martini will do the trick. This cocktail is fruity and flirty with floral notes, and is the perfect addition to a romantic evening at home. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Pour one cup of vodka into a container and add a bag of rose tea. Let it refrigerate overnight.
  2. Chop up some fresh mint leaves and set aside.
  3. Prepare 1.5 ounces of pomegranate juice, 1.5 ounces of rose tea-infused vodka and 0.5 ounces of sweet wine (e.g. Vermouth).  
  4. Using a shaker, shake the pomegranate juice, rose tea-infused vodka, sweet wine, chopped mint leaves and ice. Pour into a cocktail glass and enjoy!

P.S. Feel free to replace rose tea with any other flower tea such as lavender or hibiscus tea according to your preference.

 

Organic Green Tea Mint Juleps

A sip of this organic green tea mint julep feels like a dive in an icy cold pool on a sweltering hot day. The slight bitter taste of organic green tea mixes well with the smoothness of bourbon and refreshing mint, making this the perfect, easy DIY cocktails for both day and night. Be sure to use quality tea to obtain the best flavor!

  1. Brew a cup of organic green tea.  
  2. Smash the mint leaves together with 2 tablespoons of sugar, until all the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, then add in ½ a cup of bourbon whisky and the cup of organic green tea.
  4. Strain the mixture through a sieve to extract the smashed mint leaves.
  5. Add ice and garnish with a few lemon slices and mint leaves, then serve.

Organic Black Tea Cider Cocktails

Image cred: Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

This organic black tea and thyme cider cocktail is yet another recipe to add to your list of easy DIY cocktails. This comforting cocktail can be served both warm or chilled, depending on your preference (and also the weather).

  1. Brew a cup of organic black tea and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare 4 ounces of bourbon, 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of apple cider and ice.
  3. Add the bourbon, lemon juice, ice and organic black tea into a shaker and shake well.
  4. Divide the cocktail into glasses, garnish with lemon and serve.

 

Chamomile Tea Honey Bourbon

The earthy taste of chamomile tea combined with bourbon and a hint of honey makes for a relaxed drink perfect for days in the pool or with a book. This easy DIY cocktails only requires 4 ingredients, and is easy to whip up anytime you feel like it. If you’re not a fan of chamomile tea, any other flower tea works as well such as the floral blossom tea from Nilufer.

  1. Prepare a cup of steaming chamomile tea.
  2. Add 4 tablespoons of honey and 3 ounces of bourbon to the cup and let it steep.
  3. Pour over a few glasses of ice and serve.

 

Herbal Fruit Tea Cocktail

This fun, herbal fruit tea cocktail is the perfect twist to your usual cup of iced herbal fruit tea, adding some excitement into your day.

  1. Brew 2 cups of your favorite herbal fruit tea.
  2. Prepare 1 cup of lemonade, 1 cup of pineapple juice, 1 cup of orange juice and 1.5 cups of rum.
  3. Mix all the ingredients with the herbal fruit tea and stir well.
  4. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh fruit.

Although tea might have a prim and proper reputation, there’s no saying that it can’t be played up and added to a cocktail; be sure to use the following 5 fresh herb cocktail ideas on special occasions such as parties to wow your guests.

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