Thursday, December 29, 2016

Smart housekeeping made easy

Books and consultancy services for decluttering or wisely organising the homes are becoming a new special category in the bookstores or job classifications, but how and why we have to do it is rarely going beyond the stereotypical level.
Yes, we need to have an organised house - who loves to look for hours after the keys or the last phone bill and found it only one month later when it is already too late - and yes, we are obsessed with gathering unuseful things, lured by the consumerist passion for collecting what's new not necessarily what's useful for the daily housekeeping.
Smart Housekeeping by Anne L. Watson is a realistic approach of a very popular topic. It is honest too, as it doesn't promise than from tomorrow on your house look like a feature in a glossy magazine. The basic assumption of the author: 'An organised house doesn't mean an empty house'. Thus, the reader and potential decluttering candidate is advice to have what he or she really need not what other people advice to have or not, on TV or elsewhere. Another aspect outline is that decluttering is not the cure for our obsessions, failures or even depressions. 'Where I differ with some is that I don't think possession are mostly to blame when I feel stressed'. And even more importantly: 'Reducing clutter and organizing your life can free you for more worthwhile pursuits. But you don't get a spiritual life just from discarding possessions, any more than from owning them. If spiritual fulfillment is what you're looking for, you need to find it elsewhere'. It is an approach I really appreciated and liked it, encouraging me to skip further to the practical ideas and steps. 
The step-by-step organisation of the house should be done by the person, based on what is needed or not for the daily chores or activities. Sometimes, finding the space for objects might be easier than just throwing them up. 
This book is for independent people, able to use their own mind and set their priorities, but in need of a good advice about how to improve the house management, step-by-step, one corner at a time. Smart Housekeeping is the intelligent answer tailored to a lot of practical approaches and I strongly recommend it to anyone whose NYE resolutions are to have a friendlier and clutter-free house.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Easy latkes recipe

To latkes or not to latkes...this was my question Saturday evening on the first day of Hanukkah - Jewish holidays start in the evening -, when I knew that for the next days all the food stores are closed and thus, most probably I cannot prepare a great deal of food for the next days. Relying on the welcoming invitations from friends is a great solution too, but I am stubborn enough to not accept that my Hanukkah will be latkes-less. Thus, yesterday morning, the cooking fever finally returned into my life and I decided that, among other recipes that I did - more updates in my next posts - I should also prepare for the lunch with baby D. and me some latkes. I made a short tour of my pantry and realized that, in fact, I had enough ingredients for a fresh portion of latkes. Because the baby D. is still quite sensitive to spices, I eliminated garlic or onions from the recipe, and had the following combination of ingredients:
7 small and medium potatoes, peeled and finelly grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch of za'atar
2 small eggs beaten - one was enough also
15 gr. baking powder - it make the composition fluffy but it might leave a taste so you can easily forget about it
1 tablespoon margarine for a milky creamy taste and appearance
Mix well everything. Try to pour the extra water out by using a strainer.
Meanwhile, pour generously oil in the pan and wait to get warmer at around 250C. I used peanut oil because I tried to see how the final result comes out in terms of taste but it was not a big deal.
I preferred to fry in batches of three, leaving more space in the pan. The warm is easier distributed when there are not too many items frying. It resulted 9 small latkes, that I left to rest and get the oil out of it on a parchment paper. 
The entire preparation and frying process lasted around 45 minutes and although baby D. wasn't too keen to taste it - and it seems is his problem with latkes in general - I enjoyed my portion and the spirit of the holidays. 
Now, I wonder if I am brave enough to try some sufganiyot too. Why not? Given my passion for home made cook, a final - positive - decision may be only a matter of days, or rather hours.

Stuff every cook should know

'Wanting to cook is one of the best impulses that can wash over a person, but the path from desire to dinner is rarely a straight line'. As a novice cook - as I also used to be not that far away in time - I appreciated every single tip and idea, starting from how to cut an avocado or how to choose the best knife for meat. This book would not help you with the avocado part, but you will find plenty of advice about kitchen ware - knives included - cooking oils or how to conquer your fear of baking - seriously, is this issue properly addressed by serious therapists...if not, it should. You can use it as a 'crash course in fundamental home cooking' and even right now I consider myself on a higher cooking level - and no more under the spell of panic attacks when it comes to baking, I still discovered some inspiration. The naked truth is: 'every accomplished cook has many tales of recipes gone awry. Making mistakes is an integral part of the process of learning how to cook'.
There are many ideas that I liked and agreed with in this book. For instance, that you should not worry if your kitchen is small. How to keep in mind to check when looking for a cookbook if the recipes were tested before. Or when to use regular oil or virgin oil. How to choose the right meat or to properly master a weekly meal planning. Besides the cooking part, the aspects of cooking/kitchen management are brilliant too. One will learn about how to set up the home bar or to organise a party or how to plan your food budget without giving up quality.
Overall, a very useful book that you need to read it if you care about your kitchen knowledge. Strongly recommended!
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Strawberry-banana-matcha detox smoothie

Ready to take a healthy break from the overwhelming delicious meals of this season? You may say that you have a lot of time to do it afterwards, or even that you were on a strict diet long time before the cooking spree started. It doesn't count. Right now, I am talking about a short healthy break in-between greasy, oily, but irresistible meals. I tried today to be as fast as possible, yet using healthy ingredients, as follows:
1 big banana
250 gr. fresh strawberries, halved
1 tablespoon matcha powder
250 ml. fresh water
Put into blender and mix at moderate speed for around 2 minutes.
His Highness the smoothie is ready. The preparation time is of maximum 5 minutes - if you are fast at cutting strawberries. It serves two. Before serving, I refrigerated for around 30 minutes.
My biggest pleasure in enjoying this smoothie was how the tastes so different of the ingredients melted together and created a completely new, refreshing and with a very modest sugar concentration. As the banana was quite ripe, I was expecting more sugar, but luckily it wasn't which made the tasting experience even more enjoyable. 
Overall, a pleasant experience to be repeated as soon and often as possible.
Now, time to go back to the table for more enjoyable feasts!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How to choose and take care of your knives

Photo taken at the KaDeWe store in Berlin

When I attended my first cooking class, two of the participants come with their own knives, carefully packed in elegant etuis. They explained that they can only cut the vegetables for preparing the dishes required for the class with their own knives as they are not only used with, but they are high-quality expensive items that are used to and need for outperforming the recipes. 
Later on, I faced myself the need of better knives, when had to cut veggies or meat in specific ways, particularly when it comes to small amounts for salads. 
Buying a knife or specific knives for specific kitchen chores as I would find out later as my kitchen experience advanced. 

Altough I accumulated a lot of knowledge about the choices, I am still far away from acquiring that dexterity of cutting at high speed and with special movements of the wrist. As for now, I am ready to share some of my knife tips for a better cook and awesome recipes:
- The knife should always be very sharp, thus, you need to sharpen it regularly. In order to evaluate the sharpness, you need to try slicing through a sheet of paper.
- One needs to clean the knife immediately after using. The rests of foods left on the metal can create corrosion which destroys it. It is also recommended to keep them in the special knifeblock, where the blade is fully protected.
- No compromise should be done regarding the quality. As in the case of everything, the cheaper you buy the lower the quality and, therefore, the results. 
- For every special kind of cooking, there are special knives - for vegetables, fish, meat etc. You may need a separate knife for slicing, dicing, chopping, mincing, bread, or for preparing your favourite sushi or sashimi. There are also special knives to slice squash, carve a melon, dice an onion or garlic or mince parsley. Thus, when you are looking for one, keep in mind to specify what is the destination of it. Used wrong, it can either destroy the knive or your recipe. Or both.
- When buying a knife, it is important to have the opportunity to see it and eventually, do some little exercises with it. Thus, it is not recommended to buy it online, as in this case you don't have the occasion to fully experience the handle and the object as such. You shall have the opportunity to weights it in your hands, balance it in the palm
- When you choose a knife, you need to find the right for you. The chef's knife should be like a dance partner, the natural extension of the hand, coordinating the movements and together following the recipe directions. 
- The normal size is of 8' inch. The 10-inch size can cute more volume but may look a bit intimidating. The weight of the knife depends of the user, as it should allow the hand to freely move and has the full ability to move and perform the kitchen duties.
- All the elements of the knife should be considered when shopping for one. For instance, the bolster - the meeting point between the blade and the handle. It is an element of stability and strength to the knife. The models with partial and no-bolster can sharpen the full length of the items. The heel is the broadest and thickest part of the edge, whose performance has effect on the level of precision. It helps, for example, to cut throughout the winter squash or the poultry. 
- One of the most famous trademarks of knives are the Japanese ones - particularly recommended for the fish, sushi or sashimi preparation and the German ones (Messermeister, Trizor and Wüsthof being one of the most appreciated brands).

What about you, what are your best tips for the perfect knife?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Food52: A New Way to Dinner

I am a big admirer of the Food52  network, for the way in which makes every step of the kitchen management and any recipe achievement just a matter of time. For someone like me, growing up with the deep feeling that I will never be able to bake or cook anything but fried eggs, it is an invaluable incentive that helped me to go through the challenges of managing almost successfully a house with children and regular hungry guests. 
The founders of the website, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, kept up helping lost-in-the kitchen people like me. A New Way to Dinner aims at offering first-hand and long tested assistance to busy family - of four - for managing the chores and challenges of having every day something new, healthy and tasty on the plate. Scheduled as one-week seasonal menus, with ingredients that can be easily switched and combined to create new dishes, the recipes suggested are easy to make and require a minimal time investment. In addition, you are promised to save money on groceries and waste less food, improve the shopping and cooking habits. Sounds delish, isnt't it? The aim: 'Gone will be that nagging to-do anxiety about what you'll put together for dinner after work'. 
You are offered a weekly plan, with details about the time you need to spend in various days for cutting or cleaning the veggies or for the cooking per se. You have reheating directions, advice about how to store the veggies or meat, what kind of storage containers you need. 
The menus are meat-based, but most probably not impossible to substitute them with meatless variants.  Although the portions are aimed for a family of four, with a but of flexibility and imagination, the recipes can be extended or restrained for bigger or smaller households. 
As I am an instant lover of everything that aims to better organize and manage the time, I loved the book even more. However, there are also some of the recipes that I have in sight for the next days, so expect soon to read about applesauce cake with caramel icing, meatballs with onions and zucchini or watermelon puree. 
Strongly recommended to anyone interested in tasty dinners with a minimal time and financial investment.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Le Creuset: Cooking in colours

Eating means more than gulping in a hurry pieces of food into your mouth. A healthy lifestyle involves a special table style, a discipline of gestures and portioning and, last but not least, special wares where the food is prepared and further served. With a leadership presence on the market since 1925, Le Creuset represents the happy meeting between high quality and style. I recently discovered the Beach Feeling and Chiffon Pink Collections and instantly fell in love with. 
The kitchenware part of the Beach Feeling collection are variations of cool mint and Carribean turqoise. The colours only are elegant enough to match almost every kind of furniture and table style. Regardless how low are the outside temperature, every item of this collection carries on a bit of sun and wellbeing. Exactly what you need for the long winter ahead, especially if you are in Germany. Most recipes to be prepared in those kitchenware are main menu dishes, rice and meat based, salads,  soups, but also tarts. 

Chiffon Pink is that feminine touch that you need in every house and kitchen. Most of the pieces are suited for elegant afternoon teas and cakes, but some light meals can be also prepared, like soups or stews or quiches. 
As it is quite difficult to make a choice between the two, I would personally mix the pieces of two of them, creating a pastel presence on the table and a good mood for everyone.

Some special features of Le Creuset products:
- Some of the products have as much as 30-year warranty;
- Thermoresistent to temperatures between 260C and -18C;
- Can be equally used for microwave and normal oven;
- Can be washed in the washing machine and are very easy to clean;
- Designed using the energy efficiency concept;
- Safe transportation and easy to carry, and in general ergonomic shape

Pictures taken at the Le Creuset section at the KaDeWe store in Berlin, Germany

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Golden mask from Schaebens

Gold is a valuable product not only for the fashion and design industry, or even for the high-end cuisine, but also a valuable ingredient for the beauty products. In general such products are automatically expensive, but as I had the occasion to see in the case of other products created by the German company Schaebens, an affordable price can deliver good quality, although for a short term.
The Luxus Maske is available in a package of two, recommended to be used every two days. I tried once in the evening and once in the morning, and in both situations, I was happy with the results for the skin. All you need is to put aside some ten minutes for yourself and close your eyes and relax while the mask is doing its job. Quite a good job, as after applying it, at least in the first hours thereafter, the skin looks smooth and full of life, not the usual tired look.
Besides gold - which, by the way, is never available in its pure form, but always part of different compositions - the mask contains champagne, caviar and pearls. It really looks as a beauty feast, isn't it? Other ingredients are urea, sodium hyalunorate, water, glycerin. The mask looks as a yellowish gel paste that feels very cold against the skin - in both cases I did not put the mask in the fridge, although it may be recommended, so it was the natural effect of the mask. The first seconds, my face was wrapped in a wave of warm, with some short-lived burning on the side in the last half of the time. After 10-15 minutes, I cleaned it with some clean napkins and warm water.
The skin felt very smooth, although in both situations, the irritation/a bit of rash feeling persisted for at least 10 minutes after. The skin was so fresh that I did not need to wear any more concealer or other cream. 
I was happy with the quality, the price and the effects so, most probably will keep trying more Schaebens products and for sure, at least every month a Luxus Maske mit Gold, because I really deserve it!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Animals collage for the baby room

This is a DIY project I wanted to do for a long time, probably more than 6 months. The idea sprung after I realised how many empty boxes of napkins with cute animals figures I have left. As I also noticed that the baby love them, the idea of creating small landscape collage started, but as usual, it got lost on the back of my head, overwhelmed by other less important, not-baby related problems. Two weeks ago, I decided to move forward with it and purchased from Idee store, some background paper, yellow and green, and some glue - Rico - which I do not recommend because it requires extra action to make its job. Today, I woke up with a lot of creative energy and started the work. 
The images on the packages were on two categories: countryside and wild life. I decided to create one busy wild life board, where I also wanted to include the lion - he is also wild, isn't it? - but gave up and reserved him a spot on the countryside board. My idea is to be able to tell a story to baby D. based on the images. I already tried to put together some sentences and he enjoyed it which seems a small success for now. As we did a lot of hiking and nature outing this year, it might connect with some recent memories too. This board is really crowded but there were too many funny characters on the boxes to be left behind...
The countryside board is very relaxed, it can tell a simple story - about a party, yard gossips or/and the upcoming visit of the lion. It is more relaxed, looks less creative, but has many vivid colours and funny characters.
I already showed to the baby the two creations, as his biggest disappointment was of not being included in the working process...Couldn't afford to leave his tinny hands foil near the scissors...As for now, I am looking to create two nice frames for the works. My next DIY creative assignment. 
The entire work lasted around 1 hour and was a lot of fun and relaxation time, while trying to match and cut the animals and find a place for them in the story. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Black nails! Why and why not?

Although I change my nails colour at least every week, I hesitated for a bit for a black make-over. Nothing against nuances of pink and shades of red and even purple and green, yellow and some blue too. But black, it was not such a serious choice, as it brought me closer of the teenagers and gothic style which I do not necessarily fancy.
However, the temptation was always big and especially when it comes to a Kiko product, irresistible so, for the last week, my nails as a long German night.
Why not, after all?
In fact, this week changed completely my view on black nails:
- There are elegant and more serious than it looks like at the first sight. I can practically match any kind of outfit and mood.
- There is not exactly an age for the black nails. If you are creative enough you can add some golden or silver stripes and create an excellent effect, especially for a special night out.
- It goes well particularly in the winter, as it is in line with the usual no-colour kind of mood. 
- Regardless of the colours you wear, it goes perfectly well with anything. From purple red dresses to white shirt, there is hardly a colour choice that doesn't go with.
- The Kiko nail laquer is resistant, but not as resistant as I expected so had to correct it every 2 days.
Right now, I changed completely the colour from dark to a very joyous and maybe too summerly orange-pink - because I can - but I am seriously considering to return to black nails, particularly when I am on the road and need more outfit flexibility.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fast tofu-based breakfast

If you follow this blog for a while, you might know how much I praise and appreciate breakfast. Once upon a time, when I had to be at work around 8 o'clock, I used to wake up very early in the morning to catch at least one full day of breakfast. 
Nowadays, I do have my natural clock who wakes me up in due time to prepare a tasty breakfast, either I am on the road or at home. My usual breakfast menu includes fruits and veggies - avocado and tomatoes are a must -, a big mug of coffee, an egg and cheese - as much cheese as possible. When I am really in a hungry mood, I can accept some salmon and some fried mushrooms too.
Today, I really wanted to try something different, and thanks to my early morning son, I got the chance to actually do it. I used various items available in my kitchen:
- peanut oil
- Taifun tofu cheese
- a ripe bio avocado
- a Arche Teriyaki sauce which has an excellent taste and I plan to use in various combinations. One observation though: why, oh why, the bottle is sealed straighter than the Alcazar prison and in order to open it, I had to almost cut a finger while trying different desperate methods...To be continued...

The preparation of this delicious dish, lasts around 15 minutes. 
First, you need to pour the oil in the pan and wait for around 5 minutes until it got hot.
Slice the tofu and put in the pan and turn on sides every couple of minutes. I didn't wanted too fried, so after around 10 minutes, everything was ready.
I added the sliced avocado and spread the sauce and that's it!
The Taifun tofu I tried doesn't have any specific taste, but it receives from the peanut oil and the sauce.
That's it! 
Have your coffee ready and your orange juice, and have a great start into the day! 
Bon Appetit!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Understanding Aromatherapy

I wanted to understand and find out more about Aromatherapy and, as usual, found my way to knowledge through books. I needed some short fast introduction to get acknowledged with the system and its main advantage - and eventually disadvantages and thus, my attention turned to an easy read, at least for the beginning.
This book has various basic information about this 'therapy', which for a science geek as I am it doesn't pledge in the advantage of the book and the system as such. My biggest problem was when aromatherapy was introduced as an alternative medicine technique that can help to relieve even serious illnesses. Although I recognize that there may be a certain brain trigger put into movement by specific smells, I am skeptical enough to accept that some scents can really heal instead of the classical medicine. 
Otherwise, I did find a lot of interesting recipes for cosmetic and well-being use that I will probably use for myself as well and introduce in some next posts.

Trying aroma tissues

In addition to the reading part, I also tried myself some sleep therapy tissue, by Primavera, a German company specialized in such products. I bought the Lavender Aroma Tuch for under 1 Euro at an alternative hippie store in Bamberg and kept it for a couple of months already waiting for the right moment to try it. Yesterday, too tired after an exhausting couple of days, I used it as a room fragrance. I opened the tissue and placed it on the corner of my sleeping room table . It is made of lavender and neroli oils, quite discrete fragrances, which was good as I do not fancy that much lavender. It also has organic honey extract that purposely 'helps quiet the mind with a warm, mellow scent', according to the product description. I am not sure how the mixture worked on my sleep well-being, but I did have a heavy long sleep, although I do not remember the smell and thinking about the smell at all. I do have another Primavera tissue that I will try again soon, just to make myself an idea about what it is all this 'aroma'-story about.


I satisfied my curiosity those days finding out more about Aromatherapy and most probably I will give a try to more ideas and cosmetic recipes. I've eyed, for instance, some interesting creams for dry hair. Creating a pleasant ambiance in the house is an elegant touch to the home that I would love to develop further on, by exploring various scents combinations. But I don't want to have nothing to do with the 'holistic healing' and other no-anti-medicine ideas that might be (too) easily preached by the 'aromatherapy'. To be continued...

Nail polishes for a colourful winter

I have many favourite make-up and beauty products, but I hardly can go out of the house without my nails perfectly done. For me, it is more than a personal statement, but a choice of showing my independence - more about that in a different post, maybe. Philosophy put aside, I really love to have my nails coloured and as for now, I have an impressive collection of nail polish bottles, for every occasions, time of the day and of the year. Although for the summer, I usually prefer shades of red and pink, for the long German winter, I feel the need to add more splashes of colour to my outfits. In the last days, I've played a lot with some special colours and here is my feedback for each of them.
This nail paint by Barry M Cosmetics has a surprising wall texture and beautiful colour. As long as you are getting used with the wall, raw appearance of the paint on the nails. It lasts long, but again, the first sensation of touch and sight is quite unusual, so I keep having mixed feeling about this product. It suits the early autumn pastel times and outfits. 
It is always hard to make a single choice when you visit a Kiko store, but this time, the blue nail polish bottle was easy to pick up. Blue is my favourite colour and it doesn't matter too much what it suits or not my outfit or mood of the day. It is enough to make me feel good and elegant and beautiful. It is easy to apply - in two layers - and lasts for around 3-4 days. 
Trend it up is a brand of the German DM Drugstore and this shinny chocolate nail polish is obviously in trends. This season the 3D nail polish are very fashionable, and in the next weeks I hope to complete my collection of special nail decorations with more shades. This brown has traces of gold and looks very elegant on the long as you know how to apply it. You need more than one layer and a longer waiting time to dry it. It doesn't last too long, and I need to correct it several times. For a special night out it can be a good choice though...
This lilac High Shine nail polish by Rival de Loop is one of my favourites. I love the colour, can be applied easily, from 2 strokes maximum, it lasts long and it suits a variety of outfits and occasions. It looks shiny on nails and gives an elegant outlook. If not so many colourful bottles calling my name from the closet, I would wear this nail polish over and over again.
What about you, what are your favourite nail polish colours for this winter?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Testing Temporary Tattoos from Fake Tattoos Sweden

 A couple of years back, I had a long time collaboration with the Swedish company Fake Tattoos, that ended up with a lot of temporary tattoos that I still didn't have enough time and opportunities to use. Encouraged by my first fake tattoos experience this summer, I returned to my nice packages from Sweden and started the relatively simple process of applying the tattoo. For now, I choose the infinity tattoos, a popular model as far as I remember. 
I cut my tattoo from the foil and further applied it with the face down on the skin. A water-soaked pad was apply on it and keep it on the wrist for around 4 minutes. 
Thereafter, I slowly removed the pad and the tattoo paper and I am done! The infinity tattoo shows up nicely on my wrist. The entire intervention doesn't last more than 10 minutes so if you are in a hurry before running wild at a party or dance club, consider to reserve a couple of minutes for getting one of the beautiful and inspiring tattoos available to buy online from the website. The page is available in French and German too, besides Norwegian and Swedish, thus communication is not a problem when it comes to ordering those tattoos. 
The visual effect is powerful and at least for the first hours, it looks like a real tattoo. As I decided to place it on my wrist, which is moving a lot, I undertook the risk of having it short-lived. Add water and the friction with the winter layers, and the life was even shorter. Unfortunately, my fake tattoo lasted only two days, but what two glorious day, when I temporarily looked as a fancy hipster, which in Berlin isn't that difficult at all. As I still have many tattoos to try, I may give it a new try soon, because it is never too cold to wear a fake tattoo. Even in Berlin. 
Disclaimer: Tattoos offered by Fake Tattoos, opinions, as usual, my own

Tea tree face mask by Montagne Jeunesse

The Korean-style face masks are one of my favourites, as I am guaranteed a perfect coverage as well as a higher hydration as in the case of the usual skin products. The fashion of Korean masks entered also the German markets, with a variety of products and price ranges, from 2 Euro until 100 - for Shiseido, for instance. For the weekly and daily skin care, I am for low to medium average products and thus, I decided to try a tea tree mask by Montagne Jeunesse. This 30-year old Wales-based company offers cruelty free vegan products using natural ingredients packed in attractive colourful packages at affordable prices. Those are the kind of products to use at least twice the week.
My cloth mask has a mixture of natural ingredients, among which green mint, spearmint leaf oil, algae extract, birch leaf extract and of course, the tea tree oil. It covers perfectly the face and I recommend that before use, to keep it at least 3 hours in the fridge, the refreshing effect is even stronger than when you keep it at the room temperature. 
I tried to create a quiet and pleasant ambiance to spend for at least 10 minutes with the cloth mask on my face. I closed the eyes, deep breath and ready to give myself my personal quarter of an hour of home spa. Even the baby understood that something special is going on and after looking at my funny white covered face, he gave me a little break while playing with his stuffed toys. 
As for me, I went through a variety of sensations, not all of them relaxing. The smell is pleasant and refreshing, an oily mint that it awakes the senses while folding you in a cloud of relaxation. From minute 3, the skin went through moderate to hot fire, with sparkling pinches popping up all over the face covered by the cloth. You should take care to avoid any contact with the eyes, as the mixture is strong enough to burn a bit, although for a very short time. Somehow, the smell balances the strange sensations going on the skin, but I must confess that the last 2 minutes were quite hard, as every minute I wanted to take the mask off and get my 'freedom' back.
The effects on the skin were more than satisfying: the skin looks better and younger and cleaner, the pores are cleansed and the level of hydration was good enough for a couple of good coming days. 
As for now, I am considering to test other masks by Montagne Jeunesse, not only because are made in one of my favourite parts of the world, Wales.

Winter scarfs knitting ideas

I am a bit fan of knitting, particularly during the cold winter months. I acquired the ability of knitting at an early age, from my nanny and although I am not a dedicated knitter - I can easily spend more than five years of my life without practising it - my basic skills, plus the art of knitting without looking at the stitches, while reading or watching TV - are still with me, since being seven years old.
Now, with a baby that needs a lot of new things all the time, I brought back from the memories closet my stitches and started various simple projects - as for now. My main focus is to create simple things that are needed for the cold season, done with a touch of style and fashion. I also don't plan to spend too much time by trying complicated patterns, as I am overwhelmed by too many personal and professional projects.
I checked in my and baby's wardrobe to see what we are missing for the season and realized that the scarfs aren't necessarily suited for the minus two digit temperature that we are supposed to expect sooner than later. As the project is a beginner level, without a bigger financial investment, I also decided to buy some cheap products from the 1 Euro shop in order to check my skills and achievements first. I've found a very convenient solution, the 100% polyester micro by Gründl, a German company. 
It was a challenge though, that I fully accepted: how to deal with the pompons. At the time of finishing my scarf, I already knew how to do it, without looking at the stitches. The secret is to don't cast the stitches in the usual manner. You need to use the bar to position loops round the needle. Ager a couple of rows, the pompons are setting by themselves and you learn how to offer enough space for a better result. For a basic scarf you need two lots of 50 g. The scarfs should not be ironed, and need to be washed at 30 degrees.
Me and the baby, we are very happy with our warm scarves and I look forward to create more knitting works in the next weeks and months.
Happy knitting!

Fish glass sculptures by Lalique

An exquisite French brand more than a century old, Lalique extended its production in the last years, including also fragrances as well as houseware. Created by Rene Jules Lalique at the beginning of the 20th century, the enterprise was initially focused on glass and jewelry production. Inspired by Antiquities and Japonism, Lalique permanently expanded its arts and techniques, including by adding traditional enamel layers to the glass, as well as patina and used stained glass. 
In 1921, he created the Alsace Glassworks - Verrerie d'Alsace - the world's only Lalique factory until today. His art received international recognition at the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts. 
Among other products part of the brand, the Fish is a historical and iconic piece of the Lalique world. It first appeared in turquoise, and re-issued in an extensive palette of colored crystal, among others saphir, lilac, khaki, pink, fuchsia, antinea, like green, opalescent or mint green. Nowadays, there are enough fish variations to populate a special crystal acquarium. The fish - or cachet poisson in the original French language -, a delicate presence weighting around 500 Gr. can be purchased from the website of Lalique or from any Lalique stores - in Berlin, it is available at the KaDeWe for 75 Euro. Colourful and created by simple lines, it is a stylish decoration for any part of the house, particularly the living room. If placed near a source of light, it can create even greater effects. 
Until the 2000s, Lalique remained a family business, until it was acquired by Art&Fragrance managed by Silvio Denz. Since 1977, it also included fragrances as part of the brand, offering a variety of perfumes carrying the famous label. A special Art Division was launched in the last years, aimed at attracting young glass artists and creative minds. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What is tempeh?

Source: en. wikipedia. org
A couple of days ago, I made a special purchase from my favorite Asian store: I bought a batch of tempeh. At the first sight, it looks a bit unusual, with the little white-brownish soy beans covered by a white crust. This inexpensive fermented soy beans curd has a firm and chewy consistency. It is nutty, with slightly more calories as the usual soy. Compared to the tofu soy cheese, it has a different texture and is mostly suited for frying or accompanying various vegetable dishes, suh as asparagus, fresh tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, fried mushrooms. I also tried to taste it not-fried, but found it a but unappealing, as the soy taste is altered by the fermentation process and could be a bit sour. It can be fried together with an egg too. I am also thinking about a burger version, as a meat replacement. 
A tempeh bacon version is also available. 
Tempeh is also kosher, but not for Pesach. 
It should be kept in the fridge, but use it within maximum 2 days within opening. My loaf come sealed in two plastic bags and I kept it this way in the fridge, at a normal cold temperature.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Product review: Aqua Kiss by Victoria's Secret

Easy to use and in a good looking package - at least at the first sight - Aqua Kiss by Victoria's Secret is a fresh and sparkling fragrance. Easy to use in the morning or in the evening, it creates the same impression of dynamic presence and young-at-heart bubbling personality. I personally use it in the morning, after the shower, and the scent itself makes me feel energized and in a conquering-the-world mood. I suppose I send the same message to the ones who feel my scent too.
The fragrance was created as a mixture of rain kissed fressia and daisy. Fressia is usually a very strong scent, but it seems that the right dosage was happily chosen here.
As for the bottle....It has a nice design with an image of blue flowers reflected and magnified by the liquid, but from close-by it is made of a relatively cheap plastic...For the 250 ml. bottle, the spray part can be easily damaged and it takes time to turn it round and round until it works properly. 
The Aqua Kiss fragrance is also available as shower gel and fragrance lotion.
In Germany, it is available by the Douglas stores, for around 15 EUR.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to be a smart money woman

Aimed to offer women from Nigeria inspiration and support in pursuing and managing their financial dreams, this book by the owner of the website Smart Money Africa, Arese Ugwu, appeals every woman, especially those from areas where their status and achievements are not yet equally considered with men. 
The Smart Money Woman is the story of Zuri, a gifted woman working in the investment sector going through times of financial hardship only because she was unable to plan her budget and balance her spending. At the end of each chapter, there are some short financial advices and a couple of exercises that will help you to track your expenses, think about the right savings and investments and prioritize your debt payment. 'People with bad debt habits will typically go into debt buying things their income cannot support', like for instance, 'items that don't appreciate in value and most likely can't cover the cost of the debt over time'. 
There are a lot of ideas that any of you can consider from tomorrow on, for improving the financial situation, like, creating a plan for emergencies - around 9 months that can be covered in terms of rent and main necessities, in case of unemployment - setting financial goals for the year, put your money at work, by buying portfolios and investing in land or real estate. 'The most successful people are the ones who are able to articulate what they want for their lives. Success is deeply rooted in having a solid plan that is tailored to what you want'. 
Interesting are also the remarks and observations about the role of some women appearing in the story in the family. Some are just hunting for a rich husband, some are the real breadwinner but not officially acknowledged so, by fear of not affecting the social status of the man. Some are just advised to downplay their achievements in order to be more attractive. Although not very widespread, such mind settings can be encountered once in a while in some societies outside the African world as well.
The book is well written and has many interesting ideas that can help you advance your business or your financial independence.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange of an honest review

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fragrances to test this season

Although quite conservative in my choices of perfumes, I am always looking for new fragrances to test, sometimes just to answer a special mood or the need for a change into my life. In the last days, I've been out in the perfumes stores - Douglas, the German version of Sephora - discovering and trying to understand new scents.
Here is my short list of recommendations for this season.
This 2015 Paco Rabanne women fragrance, Olympea has a very elegant bottle, representing a laurel crown, illustration of the message of strength and dynamism. The olfactive impression was at the first sight unusual: an explosion of strong impressions, from sandalwood to citrus and vanilla, white floral and salt. It suits a strong, stubborn personality, that doesn't mind to wear it all round the day. A smell not easy to forget.
Offered in a bottle shaped as a hand grenate, the Flowerbomb by Viktor&Rolf is an exuberant pot-pourri of flowers. It may smell as a bubble gum, or like patchouli - not necessarily my favourite fragrance - balanced by musk, jasmine. The list of flowers seems to be even bigger, with orchid, fresya, rose, jasmine being only some of them. The smell is persistent and you can easily wear it for the whole day, but I particularly recommended for some day outfits and during some girls time. After a while it is just intoxicating, not in the bad sense.
Created by Prada in February 2016, Candy Kiss belongs to the same exuberant flower-inspired category. It enhances and explores the powerful musk smell, adding drops of vanilla and white cotton. It plays with emotions and impressions, the balance between elegance and fragility and strong personality. You can wear it for the day, with flowerly dresses and with a big smile on your face. It makes you even more special and different.
Alien, by Mugler is for people really wild at heart, and it is not only about the bottle - with a design between the philosophical stone and the witch secret weapon. The first thing I noticed about it was the strong pepper fragrance, followed by an elegant combination of amber and Indian jasmine. It makes you feel exuberant and special, a bit intimidating at a first date. 
Eau tendre by Chanel brings the flowers into your house and body, leaving around Romantic traces of grapefruit, jasmine and white musk. Elegant and distinguish, it embraces you in the morning and follows your steps during the day, until late in the night. 
Pleats Please is not only a perfume, but corresponds to a collection launched by Issey Miyake a couple of years ago. Although it follows the fruity-flowerly line, it uses exquisite fragrances, such as that of the special Asian fruit - Nashi, a crossing between apples and pear - combined with white flowers, patchouli, vanilla, cedar and white musk. Bubbling at any age and time of the day. It doesn't matter if you keep up with the dress code, this perfume is just another statement about how special and unique you are. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The transforming power of Birdie Foscarini Lamps

With offices in Milan and New York City, Foscarini is an exquisite Italian design brand, actively involved in various artistic project. For the development of its products it collaborates constantly with famous designers and experts, in order to deliver the fittest and the most creative items. Their products are usually matching a variety of spaces, from living rooms or bedrooms, to hotel rooms and lobbies to bars or special restaurants. Everything is about finding the right place and creating the maximum effect for an unforgettable ambiance. 
I like many of their products, but nothing impressed me better than Birdie, created by the Milan architects Ludovica and Roberto Palomba. Their inspiration: a bird on a branch, an impression of elegance and delicate movement their lamps are producing. The models are either suspended in the air, or set on the floor, wall or table. Each lamp weight maximum 3 kg and uses either LED or halogen lamps
The small delicate lamps create special effects into a room, either it is a single one, or many of them. Especially the reflection of light on the light-metal materials brightens the space. The special effects create a cozy warm ambiance, exactly what you need for the coming long winter evenings. Each version is unique and can be easily removed. It usually suits the simple furniture, and a simply decorated interior. 
You might discover that just a simple lamp can completely change your mood and make you love your home more.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

5 Elegant White Shirts from Anne Fontaine

White shirts are a classic fashion staple, especially if you are an adept - more or less against your will - of the office smart clothes. Anne Fontaine offers one of the best examples of elegance and craft, which makes every simple white shirt a statement well crafted. The prices are medium to high-end. If you are a lawyer or s business woman, you should have at least one of her items, as it sends a clear message of strength and self-awareness. Her products can be bought online too - site available in English and French - and for purchases of over 300 EUR., there is free delivery. In Berlin, there is a beautiful small shop on Kurfürstendamm 42.
Here are my 5 elegant shirts that I recommend. Believe me, the choices were not easy...
1. Agustina, 395 EUR.
This long sleeve silk shirt has an extraordinary elaborated embroidered front. The sleeves are 100% of polyester, and the front from silk. The collar can be open, giving an air of easygoing and self-awareness to the entire outfit. It suits a pencil skirt - the choice of the colour is up to you - as well as a pair of elegant black trousers. You can wear it during the day, at work, or for a late sophisticated date at the opera.
2. Antonina, 250 EUR.

Simple and elegant, this blouse with an elegant pagoda sleeves, is an exquisite choice too. The collar has a classical touch. You can wear it for a special occasion, during the day, matching some colourful patterned skirt or the obligatory high heels.
3. Nazia, 650 EUR.
The perfect outfit for the coming holiday season, this long sleeve blouse in foliage with embroided organza has a bohemian style for women that love elegance. It is the main resistance piece of any outfit and thus, I see it together with a simple pencil skirt. The fine foliage motif is exquisite too. The drawstring at the neckline can be modified and it changes completely the shape. As in the case of most shirts by Anne Fontaine, it requires professional dry cleaning.
4. Aelys, 195 EUR.
One of my favorite from this collection, it has long embroided sleeves in broderie Anglaise style. The chiffon removable lavaliere gives it an air from another, more stylish, times. It makes a date statement, but it can also be worn at a conference or special presentation, matched with a simple skirt or an elegant pair of trousers, preferably black or, if you want to be assertive, red or cognac, or even yellow. 
5. Naidy, 195 EUR
A classical cut, but with an air of sophistication, especially given by the long sleeves in lace. The lace part is playing a smart game with the rest of the shirt body, between transparency of the shoulders and arms and the opaque fluidity of the rest. Is very elegant as work outfit, but also a concert or business lunch. A simple silk pastel skirt make you look like an ethereal presence. 
Pictures from Anne Fontaine website