Wednesday, March 30, 2016

High maintenance toasters by Kitchen Aid

KitchenAid products are in general very expensive and high maintenance, and always recommended for design-oriented and luxurious homes. I am a fan of the blender that I will review a bit later on the blog, but I have no idea that the ridiculous toaster can be so high tech and so expensive even if you pretend being yourself a middle class representative.
True is that the design is always as high end as a Porsche or a Ferrari car. Out-of-the norm shapes and bright colours, with round edges. Some of them are quite big and suit big kitchen counters, that you probably have if you can invest in such a tool. The prices go from 129 - which can be acceptable price if you have everything else you dreamed about in your life - until 3-400 Euro. It must be quite a good stuff they are doing, isn't it?
The most inovative is the one with 4 slices, that suits very well the family breakfast. On the side, there are various indications about the heat category and in some cases, the choice between Frozen, Bagel, or a little longer. 
Some toasters can keep repeating the cycle every 3 minutes, which means that your bread can go a bit dry.
In the case of the big 4-slice machines, the blinking is getting so intensive before the process is about to finish that you may think that you are a pilot in a fancy airplane.
The big advantage for such an investment is that many of the toasters are provided with a 5-year guarantee which may mean that, in fact, you made almost an investment for life. 
Otherwise, all stylish considerations put aside, and with a long list of investments ahead, you can keep going on with your average 30 Euro toaster. KitchenAid is first and foremost a matter of personal statement.

The featured toasters are available at the KaDeWe shop in Berlin, Germany

Monday, March 28, 2016

10 products from IKEA to decorate your house this spring

I am not a very big supporter of IKEA furniture because it makes every house look the same plus - and this is my biggest impediment, in fact - you need to build up everything which for a clumsy kind of girl like me is not the happiest life scenario. I am always happy and ready to change and two weeks ago I made a short visit to the Sudkreuz IKEA in Berlin, looking for a convenient baby bad - which I haven't find it - and ending up purchasing funny toys and taking pictures of products for a next interior design project.
Here are my ten products that can make your house much colourful and modern. In most cases, the prices are medium. Significant discounts are still available in the next days.
 This chair has the colours and airs of the rebel 1970s, and can fit either a normal working desk or the corner of a room. Regardless of how often you plan to use it it is very comfortable. It can be purchased for 99 Euro.
 This metal pink desk was love at first sight. It is very big, especially for someone like me who adores to have more than 10 books and as many notebooks spread around, plus computer and tablet and phone and so on and so on. It has the perfect dimensions of 110x65 cm and can be purchased for only 59 Euro.
The various colourful glassware bring the spring on your table and makes you enjoy with a bigger appetite the healthy spring meals. Either you want to eat indoors or in the garden, the prices are convenient enough - from 3.49 to 10 Euro - for helping you to have everything you need on the table.
Talking about table, creating a pleasant ambiance is a good company for the meal, either if you eat alone or with the family. This spectacular looking and easy to set up lamp is available for only 44.99 Euro.
I am a supporter of colourful furniture and this brownish red small closet is on my list of new furniture. The only impediment is that the kid willl be soon big enough to check the content. It can be used for the bedroom or in the lobby and even in the kitchen. As for now, it costs 79 Euro.
This fluffy bed lamp is not exactly my style but it offers a good lightning in case you want to keep reading something. It is very light and can easily suit any style and space. It costs only 29.99 Euro. 
This 107x10 shoes closet is something I told myself to buy for a long time. It is practical, with a modern look and can fit easily everywhere. It can be purchased for only 109 Euro.
With a small baby in the house, one have to think seriously about the future about how to collect all the tempting items out of sight and touch. A special toilet closet hard to open and quite elegant is what I need in the future. At a very low price of 24.99 Euro.
Out of all the products on the list, this Persian carpet is the most expensive - 279 Euro - so you better save a bit for two months and you can have it. Handmade, it suits especially Romantic interiors with vivid colours. 
I am not a tall person and once in a while I need some help for reaching some higher spaces in the house. This 50 cm. small stair looks not bad and cheap and can be easily moved from a location to another. It is also quite stable. It costs only 12.99

What about you? What is on your top 10 Spring shopping list?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Easy recipe: cauliflower soaked in olive oil and lemon juice

I am quite lazy these days, getting ready for some marathon of cooking soon - meaning tomorrow - for Purim seuda and some more work in the kitchen coming up in the next month - because, your guess is right, Pessach is coming. But we still should eat something so tried in less than 30 minutes - 20 minutes to be right - a new very easy recipe, an alteration of the latest cauliflower recipe in the NYTfood edition today.
1 small cauliflower
3 tablespoon olive oil - it can work with truffle oil too.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
juice from one lemon
3 garlic gloves, finelly chopped
Serves 2, as an individual meal or in combination with: potatoes, meat or fresh tomatoes or various salads
 Mix the oil, lemon zest, pepper, salt and garlic. Let to rest for around 5 minutes while slowly wisking.
Wash and cut the florets of the cauliflower. Add to the bowl and mix it well for around 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven at 250 Celsius.
Add the ingredients from the bowl on a tray and mix it a bit before leaving in the overn. Turn it on all sides. Bake it for another 10 minutes. If you want it roasted well, you can wait for another 5 minutes or so.
Served at room temperature. If you are in the mood and you are not a big fan of citric juice, why not add one teaspoon of soy sauce too.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Why we all, but especially children, we need some good Vitamin D

Oranges and sunshine, the perfect healthy combination

Vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin, plays an important role in the development of children, and especially in sunshine deprived regions as Europe, its levels should be kept under careful control. Its regularly consumption helps prevent rickets, and builds strong bones, teeth and immune system, reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis or heart diseases. When Vitamin D is deficient, there is a high risk of developping abnormalities, such as osteomalcia (soft bones) or osteoporosis (fragile bones). 
The minimal daily dose for keeping the constant level is of 200 IU, but according to many medical opinions, more exposure to the sun and consumption of foods such as oranges, milk, sardines, egg yolk, cereals or yogurth are recommended as natural supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is often causes by improper nutrition, but also by pollution, too much time spent indoors and lack of light, in general. At least 10 minutes of sun exposure every day can help, as this vitamin is produced in our skin in response to sunlight. 
This fat soluble vitamin, part of a family of componds that includes Vitamin D1, D2 and D3, is equally important for both adults and children. For the first year of life of my child, the doctor recommended a 600 IU dosis, the same ratio being advised for pregnant and breastfeeding women or for adults till 70 years. After this age, a level of 800 IU is necessary. In oder to give the right amount to your child, get in touch with your pediatrician and try to catch up as much as possible with the sun. What we are doing quite well lately!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Modest outfit from the American Apparel

The spring is finally in the air in Berlin too and it is about time for a refresh of the wardrobe. With Purim and Pesach holidays coming up very soon - and as usual, it seems I am not ready at all -, expect more social interactions and going out, hence the need to pay more attention than usual to dress codes and outfits. Searching for some new colours and inspiration, I landed yesterday at one of the American Apparel stores in Berlin. There is a friendly ambiance with music on the background, and more importantly with welcoming and perfect English-speaking customer service.
Here are my main choices:

Mid-length pencil skirt bordeaux, available also in electric pink, a colour I do not fancy, and a beige that I might be interested in one day - 42 Euro
Add the brushed Jersey Turtleneck - 42 Euro, altough the colour is a bit lifeless but can offer a good background for some sparkling jewels. 
For the cold mornings and afternoons, add a new layer: the Cropped Fisherman Pullover, 76 Euro
Alternatively, you can match the skirt with the Carmen top Rust Navy Stripe - 36 Euro.
What about shoes? First, I was tempted to add to the basket this lovely pair of Canvas Shoes sunflower, available for15 Euro...
But on the way out of the store, I fell in love with both colours - Bordeaux and honey - of these classic clogs - 135 Euro each.
Regardless of the final shoes choice, this Canteen Bag in honey colour - 72 Euro -matches very well both of them.
As for the collant, I am a big fan of colours, and I decided for the one in Bordeaux, for 16 Euro.
At least for two or three outfits, I am done for now...To be continued...
The items are available at the American Apparel store in Berlin, Bayreutherstr. 35

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Interior design inspiration: Morgenland store in Kreuzberg, Berlin

Situated in the cozy and family friendly Kreuzberg neighbourhood in Berlin, Morgenland offers a variety of well priced products, many of them with a Middle Eastern touch. The products displayed in the front of the store on shiny days give an idea of the variety of styles and budgets. 
 For the beginning, my favourite are the colourful cushions that look very appealing in the morning spring sun. 
 Some of the wooden chairs and tables are equally interesting, very well suited for small family interiors. 
The indoors shop offers even more surprises and a much more diversity of products. I love the Oriental lamps made of different pieces of colourful glass. Lightened by inside, it creates a mysterious ambiance. Think about hanging them on the corner of the room... 
 Moroccan style little plates are also very beautiful, with clear colours and attractive patterns. 
The customer service is friendly and ready to help, a very important asset given the big number of products displayed chaotically in such a small space. The prices are also friendly, at least for the small items.
From cushions of different sizes and patterns to aromated candles, you can have everything you need for a speedy decoration of your new appartment. If you are a minimalist like me, you do not even need to search anywhere else.
Jewellery inspired by the Middle East patterns, made of white metals or silver are also available, many looking a bit overcharged for my taste, but it depends of your mood, style and outfit. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Recipe of the week: Apple mousse Emmental scones

Breakfast is my favourite and sometimes most consistent meal of the day, and I keep trying to find easy - as usual - but satisfying recipes. As I love the sweet-sour combination, this recipe of Apple mousse Emmental scones is everything I need in the morning, besides the big mug of Turkish coffee. 
It can be done fast, with relatively few ingredients.
It serves 3 hungry breakfasters or one hungry breakfaster for 5 mornings.
300 gr. white floor
1 tablespoon backpowder
1 teaspoon salt
100 gr. butter
200 gr. Emmetal cheese. Alternatively, other yellow cheese sort can be used as well
2 full tablespoons sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons apple mousse
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking: 20 minutes
Add the floor, poweder and salt and let to rest for around 5 minutes. Add the butter and mix, preferably with the hands, followed by the seeds, the Emmentaler finelly cut, and the apple mousse. 
Heat the oven at 250C. Pour the mixture in muffin forms and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. If you want them less burn, do it for only 15 minutes.
I wanted them more crunchy so the result was a biscuit feeling. The salt of the cheese is mixing very well with the natural sweetness of the apples. You can have them for tea or coffee, as an afternoon snack or a child school treat.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

3 things I wish I haven't done after giving birth

Now, with the kid approaching fast 6 months and me a full time stay at home mom, things look much settled into my life: I have a predictable schedule, when I can organise my time and my tasks and also have some little amount of time for myself and my writing gigs. But it was not always like this, and when I look back in time to the first four months of life of my son, I see a very different picture, with many hectic episodes if I look more clearly.
One of these days I did a retrospective overview of my last months and found out that there are some mistakes that I wish I haven't made. But as it is nothing to be changed, at least there are some lessons learned to be took into consideration a next time.

1. Going back to full-time work two months after giving birth was a big mistake.
The physical recovery went very well and within weeks I lost the few pounds added during pregnancy. My health situation was good - except a little anemy - and the little boy was also doing fine. The German law do not let new mothers work in the first two months after giving birth, but after that, it is up to the employer and the mother to find a better work solution. I was so happy to be able to go back to work that I almost scream 'Yes, I do' when asked if I can return after two months.
What happened? I was doing my work as usual, accomplishing my tasks relatively well, but with a high price. I was going to sleep late because I always had things to do in the house, woke up around 5 o'clock, feeding the baby and sometimes also cooking for the rest of the day, being at work around 7.30 and working till around 15.00 and coming back home with shopping list done, for cooking, cleaning, bathing the baby and keeping good company to my bf. During the day I also had to solve various domestic issues!
The result: After two crazy months, I realized that all the hassle is not worth my effort and energy. The job I had was nice, but not exactly the dream job, and the financial remuneration was not extremely high. With no real chances to improve my professional status - because it was nowhere to go up in this cute small family company - I took the dramatic decision of leaving and using the chances of one full paid year as a stay-at-home mother.

2. Throwing up parties after parties
When your kid is born in other country than the one where your families are living, expect a lot of visits and celebrations and late evening meals and long Shabbes meals. 
What happened: A week after I returned the hospital with the baby, we started to invite people almost every two days, and many guests and relatives on Shabbes. We - particularly I - wanted to impress everyone with my cooking skills and great cakes and many meals. I was also doing a lot of shopping, going from a special shop to the other for specific products and spices.
The result: Burned out. Completely. Because it was not only about cooking and shopping, but also about setting the meal, cleaning the dishes, cleaning the house, staying awake to make conversation, taking care of the baby at the same time.

3. Missing the chance of at least one hour for myself
My bf stayed at home full time with the baby for two months, the time when I was at work. After a busy pregnancy and a post-pregnancy even busier time, I rarely had time to go out alone or just take a breath on my own for a couple of minutes. Every time I was going out I always had a to-do-list with me and I was rarely able to meet one of my friends or go without a specific reason. Now I am alone with the kid for couple of weeks more and I am in the same situation when there is no way to leave the house unaccompanied. It is a nice company anyway so nothing to complain about. But...
What happened: Sometimes it was enough just to go out of the house, in the garden or till the corner of the street without nothing to do or to think about. Just like this, walking slowly, breathing deep the fresh Berlin air and coming back.
The result: Right now, I am waiting for that time to come back again, when I can go out on my own for a short walk. Promise that the next time will better use my time!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fashion in Bamberg: Schneiders Hutmanufaktur

With a cold rainy weather that kept me a bad company during my stay in Bamberg this February, exploring shops and hunting for local products was the best alternative. I spent most of the time in the GrĂ¼ner Markt area where it was impossible not to discover and visit Schneiders Hutmanufaktur, a cute shop dedicated to hats, one of my fashion hobbies.
As I was entering the shop, a thin little lady kept my door open to enter with the baby pram.She was holding an elegant autumn/spring hat brought for some reparations. A welcoming customer service come in fast and started to discuss about the options. Soon, my attention moved to the impressive number of hats ready to be taken, fit for every occasion. There were hats for a trip in the city, racing, weddings, anniversaries or just for maintaining high your fashion standards.
The materials used are also diverse, including fine coloured furs and feathers. The prices are also matching any budgets.
The creative hand behind the shop is Julia Schneider, who trained with the local milliner Christl Wagner. The shop is open since March 2013. 
The classical hut boxes are given a nice contemporary touch with colourful graphics. The shop is cramped but little design details were not forgotten, such as the cute hat-shaped lamps. I left with the regret of not being able to decide which hat I want. Because, I probably wanted most of them. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Parenting advice for the responsible parent

Like it or not, we as adults, are what our parents and grandparents made of us The person we are now is the result of historical parenting patterns transmitted or slightly altered, from one generation to the other. The good news is that we can change it and detach ourselves from the generational matrix. The bad news is that we need a lot of time and effort and very often the help of a therapist.
     Your Living Legacy is not a self-help book, but a guided tour of discovering yourself as a parent. It may happen that you will discover something radically different from what you expected. Based on over two decades of practice, it offers a rare mix for this kind of book-- of theoretical framework and practical checking, examples and exercises.  
     My experience with parenting books is that you either have one or the other, but maybe I am not literate in this domain yet. It also has the right balance of using simple wording for describing sophisticated parenting situations, which is another asset of the book, the author stays away from the temptation to show off high skills in juggling with complicated scientific terminology.
     Based on her clinical practice, the cases revolve around the mother-daughter relationship, which limits the perspective to a certain extent. It simplifies the discussion, but on the other hand eliminates the cases when the father is also an active parenting actor with a definitive role in the education process.
     Instead of focusing on the child as the main parenting problem, the author took into consideration 'what the parent is doing that might create or contribute to the problem'. A logical approach, as most of the child’s problems originate within the family. Further on, the choice of the parenting style is highly influenced by 'how you were raised as a child'.
     The dynamic of the relationship between mother and daughter is very complex and the merit of the author is to focus briefly on the most important interactions and potential sources of conflicts. For instance, “ rebellion” can also be a plea to get the parent to set stronger limits'. These issues are analyzed in the smallest detail through an extensive list of 20 parenting styles, defined generally as 'patterns of behavior that are your typical ways of interacting with your child, especially when you are under stress'. The questionnaire at the end of each description helps you find your own parenting style and gives short suggestions about how to go beyond the negative patterns.
     The sooner the problems are identified the better, as there is always the possibility to change the pattern and save the relationship with your child. Through communication, listening and learning from your child, besides seeking advice from a professional therapist, things can be changed for the good, and the mistakes used as a ladder to growth.
      It is a book that raises awareness and challenges you to ask questions -- it is never too late to start reading.

Rating: Four out of five stars
Disclaimer: The publisher offered my the book via, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

Getting used with Chia. One seed at a time

I am not a fashionable person when it comes to foods and I prefer to wait till testing foods or recipes or food trends everyone is recommending. I had and still have my own reserves regarding quinoa - not tasty enough for my preferences - and had some time till I decided to test some chia-based recipes. 
Compared to quinoa, chia is even more difficult to match because it has no taste at all. So, why to pay a lot of money - everywhere the seeds are very expensive and are mostly available at the bio/organic shops - when you cannot get any specific experience? This was the question that kept me quite a long time away from it. 
My first experience with chia was in the form of a coconut blueberry pudding at the Einstein Coffee. Served cold, the black chia bubbles were just part of the decorations, but I love the coconut milk so was not worried about wasting my money. Later on, I decided to try myself through a couple of recipes. 
The tiny tasteless seeds are rich in protein, fiber, calcium, zinc, magnesium, omega-3, B1, B2, phosphors. Quite an impressive line of vitamins. Add to the list the anti-oxidants, with significant anti-aging contribution.
Their preparation is easy. Soak them in cold water twice the quantity of the seeds and wait between 2 and 10 hours. They expand multiple times in size and gives you a feeling of fullness when eaten in various combinations. Till now, I used two tablespoons of chia and 1 cup water, and kept them together for around 2 hours. 
You cannot eat them raw - or you can, but doesn't make too much sense - but in combination to smoothies or puddings. Some may even sprinkle it on some rice dishes. Another idea is to ground them in the machine and use as a powder basis only. This variant I haven't tested yet.
Chia - the Maya word for strength - is recommended as part of various diets as it delivers a massive amount of nutrients with only few calories. Easy to incorporate in any kind of diets, it is considers also as a factor of improving blood markers, decreasing the risk of heart diseases and of the type 2 diabetes, improving the digestive health and possibly fighting against breast and cervical cancer. The combination between Calcium, Phosphorus and Vitamin A contributes to maintaining the dental health. It is compared to sport drinks, as it improve the exercise performance. Sometimes, the energy boost is too much, as it happened when I finished one of the coconut milk puddings in the evening and cut my appetite for sleep - already limited - considerably. 
In both cases I used 2 tablespoons of chia - around 140 calories - with 1 cup of water for preparing the seeds. Let to soak for around 2 hours.I added fresh blueberries and slices of bananas, plus 200 ml. coconut milk. Left in the fridge for around 2 hours and served it as breakfast treat. It serves three.
For diversity, the next time I also added some raspberries and was even happier with the result. Some other ideas will be to add some dried apricots, dates, pineapple. Right now, I am thinking about a simple banana coconut pudding. I haven't feel the need to add any sugar, as the fruits do have enough natural sweetness already. 
As for now, I will probably keep trying more recipes. If you keep the seeds in a dry cool place, the long shelf life is guaranteed so I don't have to worry about wasting the money.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

This is not a bag. Baobao new releases by Issey Miyake

These bags make a very special fashion statement. They do not look like the bag next door but you think twice before considering it elegant. For sure, it has nothing to do with the classical shapes and materials. But fashion, like people, should dare to be different and so are these bags, very much inspired by some usual cotton bags very popular in Europe. Each part of the tile is fixed on a black net. The open end stays free, a message of freedom and nonchalance. It goes for the day or for the night, for the office, on the road or as a statement, with sport or elegant shoes or outfit. 
But besides the 3D special impressions of the tiles, the colours are bold. Metallic silver, brown, black or blue, various combinations of colours. The collection has both items for men and women, including bagpacks or caps. The prices vary around 1,000 EUR the piece. The line was launched in 2000, the platinum pouches being the latest products in the collection. 
Some of the bags can be folded further by the owner, creating new shapes. The brand had teamed up in the last year with various designers for creating interesting bags  ideas where the owner is not only a passive user but it is part of the fashion statement too.