Monday, 30 October 2017

AW17— The Playlist

Turn It Up!

The days are darker, colder — and longer. So don't be sad, dance like mad! We at Madia & Matilda list 8 crazy good tunes we can't live without. Always on in the studio, these tracks get us through the day (they double-team with coffee). 

Cranes in the Sky by Solange
This track has an amazing atmosphere to it: calm and completely lush

Bourbon by Gallant
A tune. Gallant has the most incredibly elastic voice. You'll probably find yourself wondering "How the heck did he get up there?!" And then you'll listen to the rest of the album (it's the bomb) and realise that the man's basically a genius

Underwater by Porches
Simultaneously danceable and chillable, this is a versatile track with a moody bassline and 80s styling. The whole this is brought sharply up to date with spacey synths and a very sexy beat

Jungle by Tash Sultana
Aussie Tash plays all the instruments on this number. She also produces and writes her music, and has the sassiest, most gorgeously cheeky voice ever

Stay Awake, Wait For Me by Jessie Ware
A mellow, soulful tune with lyrics about that feeling of being with and without someone at the same time. It's a meditative and cosy without drowning in its own sentimentality. A good one for nights in

Silence by THEY.
Edgy and trappy, this is R&B at its most seductive: it's slightly eerie, it's not got any of the aggression of commercial rap, and it's perfect as a background to pretty much anything

Don't Want to Feel It All by White Lies
White Lies are ridiculously catchy and this track is no exception, being great for driving (or anything else really). Don't let the synths fool you, it's not as cheesy as it sounds at first

Birch Tree by Foals
This is one of the most underrated tracks from their 2015 album (when's the next one coming out please?). Its trademark opening riffs and bouncy beat make it a great one for Autumn

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Who's Number One?!

Looking After Number One 

Lots of people brush it off as silly, weird or irrelevant, but self care is actually really important for your physical and mental health! It could also affect the people around you, probably more than you realise.

We're all about keeping that feeling of being a child about to run into the sea!

It can be hard to justify a bit of "me time" these days, am I right? You're supposed to be rushing around the racetrack of life at the same speed as everyone else— and you sure as heck don't want to fall behind. Self care is about noticing this kind of frantic energy and the effect it has on you, and gently teaching yourself some new thought patterns. 

We're aware that this is an alien concept for a lot of people. Everyone's aware of the national British stereotype: "stiff upper lip, old pal! Just keep going! Have another cuppa!" However, quite aside from the Brits' tea philosophy, the mind is amazingly versatile and can be used as a powerful tool for change. There are around 100 billion neurons in the human brain (cats have around 300 million). 

Positive Affirmations
Ever heard of Louise Hay? She's the mastermind behind the idea of positive affirmations, a handy little way of injecting a positive mental boost into your life. She said “I have come to this planet to learn to love myself more, and to share that love with all those around me”. The woman was am-HAY-zing, truly. 

Louise has a lot to say about self love and the effect it has not just on you, but on those around you. Here are some affirmations to try out:
  • I forgive myself for not being perfect.
  • I honour who I am.
  • I release all negative thoughts of the past and all worries about the future.
  • Loving others is easy when I love and accept myself.
  • I love and approve of myself.
There are lots of ways you can practice affirmations. You could think them, write them down or speak them. You could even try saying them to yourself in the mirror ("ooh, who's this lovely sexy person?"). The point is to rewire you brain slowly with positive thoughts. This creates new neural pathways which are kind of like new guitar strings: the more you use them, the easier they are to play.

A lot of us tend to recognise issues in our personal lives and choose to ignore them. Some of us don't recognise our issues at all. Obviously it's hard to begin looking at resolving these issues if you don't know they're there, but we've listed a couple of common areas where things can go boobies-up if you're careful. 

Sleep is really important. REALLY important! You just can't argue: it's been scientifically proven again and again. According to the NHS, getting enough sleep can:
  • Boost your immune system. When you're really tired, your body tends to decide that it's going to spend more energy on keeping you upright than fighting the flu.
  • Have a positive impact on your mental health. Lack of sleep has been known to increase the risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Raise your game (and potentially other things as well) in the bedroom. Sleep debt can result in an unhelpful apathetic attitude when you just want to have some fun. Not very cool. 
Has that convinced you yet?! Click here for more on sleep and health. 

Talking About How You're Feeling

It isn't soppy, it isn't over-emotional, it isn't stupid. Talking about your feelings important and could help your overall mental health, plus improving your relationships with people you trust.

You don't have to do the sit-down-and-have-a-serious-chat thing. You could write how you're feeling in a journal; pick up your instrument (or learn a new one) and howl your heart out; talk to your dog (cats, despite bad rep, can be sympathetic); splash some paint about; get some exercise; or sew, like we do (not if you're really frustrated-- can end in tears). 

At the end of the day it doesn't matter how pent-up emotion comes out, it's just important that it does. Sometimes we're not aware of just how much something is eating away at our happiness until we suddenly start crying. Usually, unsurprisingly, it's because we've been too busy to stop, reflect and listen to ourselves if something's not right. Or even worse, we just don't want to. THIS ENDS NOW, PEOPLE!

'Orange Is the New Black' star Dascha Polanco on Self Love

Dascha Polanco from Orange is the New Black is an inspirational Instagrammer. She likes to write about self love, self acceptance and self esteem, often using the tags #selflovery and #ismellgood. Speaking to Girl Talk HQ (but everyone should hear this), Polanco talked about how "there’s a time where you have the decision to make yourself happy". She understands the importance of recognising a situation where you need to put yourself first. This is relevant to everybody, not just celebrities! In turn, Polanco says Angelina Jolie is someone she looks up to "as a philanthropist", and someone who owns her own life. Read the rest of the article here.

So you see, lovely reader... 

Self care isn't a stupid. It's looking after yourself so you can be the best possible version of you.

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Friday, 20 October 2017

Halloween! All the fun starts with the Prep!

Welcome to Madia & Matilda's
Halloween Party

Halloween isn't just for kids. We're excited to bring you a post all about the world's favourite Autumn festival— for adults! Step this way for boozy Halloween beverages, delicious pumpkin treats, and some amazing outfit ideas that are too good to only wear on Halloween!

Disturbing Drinks
Our first recipe is a cocktail that Snow White's evil stepmother would be proud of. Cosmopolitan magazine calls it called Poisoned Apple Pie... 
  • Add 2 oz. dark rum, 1/2 oz. heavy cream, 1/2 oz. of cinnamon syrup and 1 medium egg white to a cocktail shaker without ice
  • Shake it up! 30 seconds should do it. Next add ice, then shake again to chill through
  • Strain the mixture into a glass and top up slowly with sparkling apple juice (Cosmo recommends the IZZE brand, but we suspect another one would work just as well) 
  • For that wicked finishing touch, add a little ground cinnamon powder and 2 pinches of activated charcoal powder. Seriously, it looks amazing! Get some here.
The evil-looking Poisonous Apple Pie cocktail, courtesy of Cosmopolitan magazine

Halloween in the Tropics. Our next offering is a calming tonic for the evil stepmother after she hears that Snow White is still the fairest of them all. The Food Network calls this one a "brew to chill out stressed witches". After an evening of small ghosts hanging on the doorbell, you're going to need it!
  • Mix 30ml pineapple juice with 30ml cranberry juice in a pewter cauldron (we recommend using a pewter cauldron, size 2. Buy from Potage's: first shop on the left after the Three Broomsticks, on Diagon Alley)
  • Add 60ml lemonade. Stir clockwise 3 times
  • Pour into 4 glasses
  • Just before drinking, add one shot (40ml) of Malibu coconut rum to each glass
Green Slime Soda, a non-alcoholic drink for tiny vampires, or grown-up zombies who have to drive home after the party!
  • Stir 3 tablespoons of sugar into 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • Add 1 cup of sparkling water and give it all a stir
  • Measure one scoop of lime sherbet or lime sorbet and add to the drink. Stir well and serve
Other tips and tricks:
  • We love the idea of mixing a little red food colouring into golden syrup in a shallow bowl and dipping the rim of a glass into it. It should look as if there's blood dripping down your glass!
  • Food-grade dry ice cubes add drama to cocktails
  • You could try adding slices of blood orange to your glasses when serving, either to line the inside of the glass or as a garnish on top of the glass

Spooky Treats
Pumpkin everything! Bring it on! What Halloween gathering would be complete without some delicious homemade bakes? Not ours, no way! So put on The Monster Mash at full blast and get making.

Pumpkin Puree
Use this as the pumpkin-y base to all your baked pumpkin-y delights!
  • Preheat your oven to 170℃/gas mark 3
  • Take a small-medium pumpkin and chop the top off, where the stalk is/would be. (It's best to use pumpkins which are grown to be eaten, rather than the ones that are grown to be carved)
  • Chop the whole pumpkin in half vertically, right down the middle. Remove the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon. Don't throw the seeds away! You can roast them later
  • Next, chop each half in half again, lengthways. Repeat with the other half of the pumpkin, so you end up with four chunks of pumpkin which look a bit like giant orange slices
  • Pop the pumpkin wedges on a baking tray and into the oven for about 45 minutes, or until they go a bit brown on the edges
  • Remove the skin from the pumpkin slices while they're still warm, scraping an flesh leftover on the skin off with a knife
  • Whizz up the flesh in a blender or food processor. If the mixture looks dry, add a little water. If it's too wet, strain it gently through a muslin cloth or similar
  • Use immediately or freeze. This puree keeps for a good 6-8 months, so feel free to carve up more than one pumpkin and put the lot into the freezer for use at a later date. For more about this recipe, see this fab blog post from The Pioneer Woman

Using your pumpkin puree
Put your beautiful puree to good use! How about these spiced pumpkin cookies, perfect for a cold evening...

You will need: 
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 250g pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • Preheat your oven to 180℃/gas mark 4. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt; then set aside
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar. Add the pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla extract to the butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients. Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking tray and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, cool and devour. How easy is that?! Thanks to All Recipes for this great one.

The Costume Competition
It's a Halloween party, after all! Here are our top picks for the Autumn Season...

Presenting our wonderful, versatile Emily dress! You can layer her up by wearing a woolly sweater or top underneath (it is October after all), or dress her up by adding... whatever you want! Bats' wings, devil horns, a veil, you name it. This dress is the perfect sustainable canvas: not blank, but adaptable. Get it here.

Emily dress

Dracula's Bride? More like Dracula himself in female form. If you're after a perfect Halloween dress with just the right amount of drama, look no further: our Rosemary dress has it all. Buy it here and channel your inner Wednesday Addams. You know she's in there!

Well, that's all from us! Hope you have a kooky, spooky Halloween! Please get in touch with pics of your Halloween outfits, drinks or bakes, we'd love to hear from you!

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

More on Sustainability and the Climate

Mama Giraffe & Mama Earth

Climate Change Week is from the 9-14th of October. In view of this, we've decided to do a series of posts focussing on the climate, sustainability and local initiatives to do with these topics. Hope you enjoy reading!

The Giraffe Bit

We know why you're really here, and we don't blame you (giraffes are super cute), but here's the thing. Climate change isn't only affecting humans and trees. It has had, and will continue to have, an enormous  impact on the habits and habitats of thousands of species across the globe. I'm sure this isn't news to you (anyone else adopt a tiger or polar bear through the WWF when they were 12?) but let's get some facts.
The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is one of the major charities aiming to improve the welfare of wildlife by: "advancing policies to fight climate change; engaging with businesses to reduce carbon emissions; and helping people and nature to adapt to a changing climate".

According to the World Animal Foundation (WAF), giraffes are being lost "at an unprecedented and alarming rate". The IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) have classed giraffes as a "vulnerable" species (by the way, did you know there are 9 subspecies of giraffe?! Neither did we). We're using giraffes as an example (mainly because Madia & Matilda's founder Shalize Nicholas has an obsession) but there are thousands of other animals and plants in the same sticky situation as giraffes, or worse.

This list includes Sumatran tigers, orangutans, whales and many others, from all regions and taxonomic groups.

A Sumatran tiger takes a dip. How cute?!?

The Pocahontas Factor 

How is Pocahontas relevant?!

You'd be surprised. The classic Disney flick was based on a true story and deals with topics such as colonialism, racism and displacement of indigenous people. Pretty hard core, considering its target audience! (There has been some discussion about how well Disney dealt with these complex topics, but let's leave that for another time.) 

Pocahontas vs Modern Example. A compare/contrast kinda thing. Bring it on!

Pocahontas: Sexy beast Cap'n John Smith and buddies rock up to Pocahontas's area hoping to find precious natural resources, such as gold (bling bling).

Modern Version: Some powerful organisations are seizing land that's been sacred to local tribes, sometimes for thousands of years. Their aim is to grow new crops to use as biofuels and to cut down on the use of fossil fuels. Though the search for alternatives to fossil fuels is important, it's coming at a huge price to local people.

Pocahontas: Cap'n John Smith's buddies are particularly looking forward to fighting some of the native American Indians, so that they can use the new land as they choose (maybe build a few villas, a water park, poss also some quality shopping arcades?).

Modern Version: Fighting has broken out between these large companies and the Indigenous communities over land ownership. This has resulted in devastating loss of life on both sides, and damage to the land in question.

Pocahontas: Smithie and buddies believe for a long time that they are the ones in the right. So do the Powhatan, Pocahontas's tribe. 

Modern version: Actually, the principle is the same. And it's a tough one to call (so we're not going to try). On one hand there's ancient tribal tradition around the world, and sacred lands are super important to that; on the other hand, biofuels are one real solution to battling climate change, by reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use (this includes damaging collection methods such as fracking, which also cause pollution and habitat loss). The jury (meaning us) is out. 

The Saami People and the Guarani People

The Saami people have lived and herded reindeer in parts of Scandinavia, Russia and Canada for thousands of years. The reindeer rely on a consistent climate to flourish, and the Saami people suffer alongside the animals if this is upset. In recent years the weather has been unpredictable: snow and wind patterns have gone a bit crazy, and there have been sad reports of reindeer falling through the ice. When reindeer are put at risk like this, it dramatically impacts the lives of the Saami people and their culture.

In the case of the Guarani of Brazil, some 47 000 to 51 000 people, it's actually the efforts to grow and make biofuel which is harming their community. In recent years there has been a huge displacement of the Guarani people from their ancestral lands. This has had disastrous effects on the population: the suicide rate within the communities has risen to about one per week, according to anthropologist and community leader Tonico Benites Guarani, in conversation with The Guardian. (For the full article click here). It's the result of unrest and disputes over land in Brazil which has been going on for decades. Sources say that around 95% of ancestral Guarani land has been torn from the community to make room for biofuels, sugar cane and soya plantations.

Young people from the Tupiniquim tribe, another Brazilian tribe who have fought hard to retain ancestral lands seized for the production of biofuels

I'm sure you've spotted the dilemma. In the case of the Guarani people, efforts to develop a new, renewable energy source to replace fossil fuels have caused major damage to their way of life, both psychologically and physically. There's obviously no easy solution to the problem. 

So what the heck can be done about it?

It seems like one of those problems where a balance needs to be struck: somewhere between moving forward positively, and conserving natural habitats and indigenous communities. It doesn't look like there's a magic formula for this, unfortunately (unless you have one??), but that shouldn't stop us trying. 

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, "you must be the change you wish to see in the world". 

Sincerely Madia & Matilda

Friday, 6 October 2017

Climate Concerns

Global Climate Change Week

Global Climate Change Week is coming up folks— it begins on October 9th! In light of this, we thought we'd take the opportunity to share some info about the climate. 

Alaska, the home of these bears, is being hit pretty hard by the effects of global warming

So what is going on with climate change today? 

Good question. Whether you believe in it or don't, or just aren't sure who to believe, here's the lowdown.

The Technical Stuff

Earth's climate has always fluctuated, since before the dinosaurs were hanging out with us, but the biggest human-made change in climate in the UK was during the Industrial Revolution, which began in the 1700s. This marked the point when industries began to use fossil fuels to replace renewable fuels such as wood or water. In the mid-1800s scientists discovered just how effective gases like CO₂ are at trapping heat— and began to realise how much was released into the atmosphere as a result of the Industrial Revolution.
It's interesting to note how much the industrialisation of the Western world relied on fossil fuels, and the consequences of this. Many people are still only just realising the impact of everyday actions on the climate.
According to NASA, the evidence of our changing climate can be found in 'ice cores', which are "cylinders of ice drilled out of an ice sheet or glacier", in Greenland and Antarctica. Ancient tree rings and layers of sedimentary rock can also provide evidence for significant climate change. This evidence shows that global warming is increasing at the rate of—brace yourselves—ten times the average rate of global warming, measured against millions of years of atmospheric changes on Earth. Scary, huh? For a thorough, reliable and eye-opening source on climate change, click here.

A joint statement issued by 11 international science academies in 2005 summarises: "The evidence [for climate change] comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems". However: before things start to feel depressing, let's take a look at the future... #crystalball
A graph showing carbon dioxide levels over 400 000 years

Coping with Climate Change
NASA reckons the 'solution' to climate change (yes! There is one!) has 2 main parts: mitigation, or reducing the amounts of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere; and adaptation, or how we can adapt ourselves to our changing climate, including what it might be like in 200 years.

There are some really inspirational stories of cities which have taken climate concerns into their own hands: Samsø, a Danish island, "achieved carbon neutrality" in about 5 years in the late '90s through eschewing fossil fuels and replacing them with clean, renewable energy sources such as wind turbines. Amazingly, these turbines were funded by the inhabitants of Samsø themselves! How about that?

You may have heard of the Paris Agreement— this is a large part of the United Nations' current work on climate change awareness and action, on an international scale. According to its website, the UN declares that the Paris Agreement "brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so". Exciting, no? It might seem on a small scale as if agreements like this are not doing enough to combat the effects of climate change, but it's really a huge step in the right direction. It means that climate change is finally an issue of international importance. More on the Paris Agreement and the UN here.

How can you help? 
Educate yourself! (This blog's a great place to start, we say). Leonardo DiCaprio has set up his own foundation, the LDF (Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation) which is "dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth's inhabitants". The LDF website is full of great info on climate change, vulnerable marine life and landscapes, plus much more. Check it out here

For a closer-to-home company focused on clean energy production, look no further than Ecotricity, founded by Stroud's very own Dale Vince. They are pioneers for a cleaner, more effective and eco-friendly source of energy. Ecotricity are contributing to local economy and sustainability in a fantastic way. So there you have it: a provider of clean, green energy so you can binge Netflix guilt-free! More about Ecotricity here.

You could also... Buy all your clothes from Madia & Matilda! Yes, this really is a solution. Supporting small local businesses is important as it boosts local economy and morale. As to our business, it is founded with ethical and ecological concerns at heart. We upcycle materials and breathe new life into pre-loved garments, meaning that our carbon footprint is as small as possible.

Altering your diet to include less meat could also significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Cows and sheep are famously good producers of methane, a hefty greenhouse gas. There are many other arguments surrounding the production of meat, focussing on the ethics/lack of in the meat industry— but let's save that for another day (don't think you're off the hook, steak lovers: more on this another time!)

Interestingly, shelling out for an electric car won't result in a cut to your carbon emissions as effectively as maintaining and using your old car properly will (at least according to the Guardian). If looked after, cars will go and go, unless you're one of those people who loves to drive through Scottish lochs in your holidays.

For loads more ways to reduce your own carbon footprint, look at this cool article by The Guardian, or do your own research! There are SO MANY ways to do your bit. (Please share your findings with us if you hit anything super good!) +Madia & Matilda follow us on Instagram or twitter.

Sincerely Madia & Matilda