Thursday, May 26, 2016

5 sandals for your summer city errands

Since moving to Berlin seven years ago, with its long dark short winter days and cold summers, I forgot the great feeling of wearing sandals. I usually keep one pair in my closet just in case I have plans to visit warmer places. But things are starting to change. The last summer, the weather was unusually hot and this year it started with 20 plus Celsius from mid-May on so maybe it is about time to update my collection of sandals. As for now, I did find five simple models to wear during my often city errands. Each model costs around 50 Eur.
The colour is not that great, but it goes with everything, from sport skirts to shorts, and can match any kind of bag. Very comfy and light, to wear from the morning until afternoon.
This pair with its braided front is a bit more sophisticated, but equally easy going. I will match it with some colourful skirts and bag.
Espadrilles are in fashion again - watch this space for a post dedicated only to them - but this pair has some retro, hippy air which make it interesting and a bit sophisticated too. I love the print and it suits a long or middle denim skirt or dress or some vivid blue outfit. 
This model is not my favourite, because it has only a bit of elegant design, but for a busy mother that has to go without car from doctor to shopping and out for a baby trip, it seems like that kind of shoes that end up being part of the foot. A colourful outfit can compensate the boredom of the lines and colour. 
And now, let me introduce my favourite sandal of this selection: with a big of high heel, interesting design, elegant shape and comfort. You can wear it from mid-day to evening, with a simple or sequin dress or jeans too. It makes you feel free and independent and fashionable, even only you know how much work you've done since 5am. 

What about you, what are your favourite sandals for this summer?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In the world of SMEG

I passed by this SMEG store on Kanstrasse 150a many times and admired the pleasant colourful palette. This time, I am decided to dare to go on the other side of the door and get in touch with this retro world. The first meeting: the tasters that look out of some Elvis or Cold War movies. Not bad to see have those shapes and colours last before your eyes till the atomic mushroom got on air, isn't it?
SMEG is an Italian company, created in 1948 in Guastalla, with an offer dedicated to both companies and private buyers. It combines Italian design and functionality, following the unique style of the 1950s. The curved corners and non-traditional shapes and variety of colour combinations keep the company forever young. 
It produces almost everything you need to make your house a little home temple, from toasters to microwaves or in-built coffee machines. The retro refrigerator, with its chunky handle, was launched in 1997 and is considered one of the most popular items. 
The fridges are the best represented in this shop, which is quite huge, but not necessarily stylish. A lot of objects in this Berlin store, some of them so beautiful like this Mondrian-inspired fridge, but without an appealing setting and with a more than modest customer service. 
The ovens are massive, look functional and available in some colourful variants. SMEG collaborates permanently with famous Italian designers, such as Renzo Piano, for permanently launching new lines of products.
The customers - and prices - are middle to high-end, but there are products made to last even more than five seasons. As for now, I am seriously considering to start saving hard for the Mondrian-inspired fridge. Or maybe to wait until even more chic-ness? Hard question...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A children dream - Baby Manufactur Berlin

The wooden horse in the front of the store, sent me a good news: I am about to see something special at Baby Manufactor. Situated on Pariserstr. 21, very close to the Ku'damm shopping avenue in the Western part of the city, this store presents an inconvenience though for the parents with buggies: too high stairs to go in, one of the reasons why I avoided to pay a visit sooner.
The interior is a bit crowded, not necessarily with a stilish set-up, but with a high concentration of beautiful products, from furniture to various personalized items. The prices are middle to high, with pieces of furniture than can easily go around 1,000 EUR. But it is high-end wood and modern design that can suit various room sizes and genders. 
The happy colours and simple design invites you to stay more to find something that suits your current budget. The customer service is friendly, keen to share suggestions and information about the products. Very useful especially for the soon-to-be first mothers, not always very sure what they can expect for their baby room. 
Besides the furniture, I particularly loved the wooden toys, equally beautiful and creative. The wall tattoos, very colourful and with simple design are a very good shopping choice too.
The handmade personalized frames or pinboards are also very attractive, a special present and memory to any child, something to keep it later in life.
You can find here very rare products by companies such as Djeco or Brio. Even you do not know too much about brands, the nice shapes and design are the best answer to a mother's quest for creating a beautiful space for their children. 
As I left, my eyes were happy and my mind was full of ideas for the room of my baby. And with a wave of regret that I am leaving too soon this Children Wonderland.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Homemade pesto recipe

I am a big, very big lover of pasta for breakfast, lunch and supper. Call it my mono diet which makes me happy, very happy. However, after so many trials and errors, and a high demand in the home for my special pasta at least once the week, I need to diversify and be more creative. Hence, the need to work out ingredients and sauces, until I will be brave enough to buy my own pasta machine and, who knows, start my own pasta food line. My newest addition to the recipe book is the pesto, which I decided it is about time to have it homemade. Here are the results I am keen to share with my readers.
It serves three.
Preparation: 5 minutes
30 walnuts
4 teaspoon Herbs oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
around 40 leaves of fresh basilicum
4 garlic gloves
Put all these ingredients in the food processor and mix them at high speed for 5 minutes.
Take the mixture out and pour it in a bowl. Mix it well and wait when pasta are ready. Add the pesto together with the pasta in a hot pan and mix well.
It is recommended to be prepared and served fresh. If you want some sparkling taste, add one or two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice too. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Interior design inspiration in Berlin: dopo_domani_due

The second store in Berlin of Dopo Domani Minotti brand, situated on Kantstrasse 147, it gathers in a relatively small space many stylish pieces of furniture, from long lunch wooden tables to embroided cushions and retro vases or picknick boxes. 
The colour of the season is pastel, with sweet matches of furniture and home decorations creating the feeling of relaxation and well-being. Plate mirrors on the wall amplifies the space and bring more light into the space. If you are looking for some small items to change the home ambiance, here may be the best place to start your research.
The furniture is simple, with modern shapes that suits both the small or the big spaces. The distinction is given by the poteries and different colourful decorations. One single item can be enough to positively change your space.
Golden or metallic details in general give a note of elegance and strength, to balance the raw fragility of the wood. The furniture is generally not pretentious and takes a minimal space. 
Some home accessories have very interesting, mechanical details, very avangardistic.
The lightning solutions are not very spectacular, but suited to the modern rooms, not always big. If the play with lights is done smartly, the result is a completely different space feeling.
The prices are accessible to medium, from around 40 Eur. for some ceramics and more than 1,000 Euro for tables or bigger pieces of furniture.
Glassware is especially distinguished, in a style that reminds the products made in the Czech Republic.
The customer service is almost non-existent, the kind of store where you are left on your own for 10 minutes or more and no one really notice you. Some new products have been delivered in big carton boxes and were spread near the shop so this can be a good excuse for the lack of attention for customers. Maybe.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed the store and I left with a good and fresh feeling. Call it healthy colours therapy...

Chickpeas and blue cheese salad. And many veggies

There may be many reasons why people do not want to eat healthy, and besides money, the time spent on preparing yourself the dishes can be a consideration equally important. When you are in a hurry, early in the morning, cooking or starting to chop vegetables is not the happiest scenario, isn't it?
Once in a while, I am doing my best to be a good healthy woman, and do my work properly. 
True is that very often I spend more time preparing than eating, but I do it with a clean conscience so it is not that bad after all. 
Very often my recipes are not very planned, as I am tempted to use one main ingredient and build the rest of the recipe based on this. A couple of days ago, I discovered that I did not experiment with chickpeas for a while, so I got ready for something completely new. Before, I had to soak the chickpeas for more than 10 years in salty water: 100 bio chickpeas, in more than double their quantity of water. In the morning, I boiled them for around 20 minutes at 250C.
The other ingredients are:
100 gr. white champignons, finelly chopped
half of cucumber, finelly chopped
150 gr. cherry tomatoes, finelly chopped
couple of parsley leaves
100 gr. blue cheese
2 teaspoons ginger-pear balsamico - this is really gourmet and I am looking forward to do more experiments with it. 
Healthy, ready go!
Here we are! It is so good and with so many ingredients that I did not eat anything else the whole day. Not even pasta. A big bowl for a hungry, busy day! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What you should do for a smart wardrobe

Spring is the right time to start not only a go-through cleaning of the house, but also a close overview of the closet. A couple of weeks ago, while in the middle of the spring reshuffling of almost everything, I discovered, not with a happy smile, that although most of my life I had a nomadic life, with moving all around the globe and back, I gathered so many disparate pieces of clothing, from family memories to presents and various results of impulsive shopping that I can hardly match but carried with me every time. Nonchalantly I decided to make a big pile of not-worn clothes that soon will find their way in new, more friendly closets. My selection of sorts was impulsive, not the result of close calculation anyway, following the raw remark: 'What are these clothes doing into my life?'
It was before I discovered this book, written by the Berlin-based Anuschka Rees, which is more than a decluttering guide, but a step-by-step, mathematically driven advice about how to discover your style - 'not based on trends' - and create 'a wardrobe that's perfectly tailored to your unique personal style and your life'. In Vivienne Westwood's words quoted at the beginning of the book: 'Buy less, choose well, and make it last'.
But until you reach this illuminated level, a lot is to be done: a closet diagnostic, search for authenticity, various checking lists about what suits you well and your current work and personal stage until identifying the patterns and fabrics that represent you. The results are not supposed to take place overnight and a lot of experiments are in sight, such as trying various clothes and checking what clothes you wear and when and how do you match everything. Although not written explicitly in the book, I took this process as a stage of returning to your self and discovering how and who you genuinely are. 
At the end, you can just start anew. 'Your personal style is the result of many different influences, all the people you have met over the years, all the places you have traveled'. It may be an interesting process to go through at least once in a lifetime.
The book is available for pre-orders now, and will be published in September.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher via

Pesto hamburger for lunch

I am a very big meat eater, but as finding the right kosher products is not always easy in Berlin, I resigned to a couple of meals the month and the promise of intensive meat treatments in kosher paradises such as US, UK or Israel. The choice of products is not great either and I am very much against buying ready-made hamburgers or schnitzels at a high price and with a doubtful - plastic like - taste. 
Yesterday, after many days without meat, I challenged myself to get to search some meat for a hamburger. I never did one before but felt confident enough to not search for any recipe. I just used my imagination and here is what we had on the plate.
500 gr. beef meat
3 big scalions, finely chopped - Alternatively, garlic can be used too; the more the better.
200 gr. pesto
200 gr. crumbs
2 tablespoon oil for the tray

Mix each and every one of the ingredients, one by one. I mixed all by hands to be sure that everything got mixed well. 
Take one hand of meat and roll it by the hand. You can use the same mixture for boulettes too, but you need more oil to fry.
Put them in a tray covered with baking paper where the oil was spread.
Cook it at 200C. Try to turn it from a part to another every 10-15 minutes to be sure that it is well cooked.
Serves: 7 hamburgers
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes, at 200C
It tastes very good, a full fresh taste made by the pesto and scalions. As I did not use too much oil it does not taste or look greasy. I prepared as side dishes a fresh leaves salat - spinach and rocket and tomatoes and cucumber, without oil - and baked potatoes in olive oil. Very healthy and good enough to use the recipe again and again in the near future. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Adventures of Breakfast in America

I've read this food memoir as an adventure book. To be more precise, as a thriller of living and building the American dream in the beautiful Paris. Craig Carlson is not Henry Miller or Hemingway, but an American in love with French culture, as much as to call his pet Balzac, working hard throughout the intricated ways of the French bureaucracy for showing to the (French) world that America is more than hamburgers. By the way, finding a decent hamburger in Europe is not an easy search.
'Pancakes in Paris', to be released at the beginning of September, is especially a book about following your passion and making your dream come true, even with the price of a heart attack and a prison experience. It is also Craig's personal journey of finding himself and the love of his life.
Written with the same passion followed in pursuing his dream, this memoir also does a great work of cultural diplomacy of showing to Europe a different America, with sometimes a different but more efficient work culture and habits, with rich food choices and its culture of resilience. 'Breakfast in America' did a pioneering work in Paris, nowadays sharing delicious slices of American dreams for over 10 years, becoming a 'cultural crossroad between countries'.
With a background in screenwriting and experience in working with Disney studios, Craig Carlson was able to learn on the way and work hard to win the trust and checks of potential investors, set up business plans and, most importantly, not give up in the front of the intricacies of the French legislation. 
The book has also a collection of recipes, but unfortunately for me, no pancake recipe. It means I am left with the one and only option to check 'Breakfast in America' as soon as I will land in Paris.

Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher via in exchange of an honest review

Asparagus tips for the season

Having settled down in Germany meant that I had to get used with a lot of new foods. If wurst and various meat-based choices were out of question for obvious kosher reasons, I was left with the vegetable part. Not all of the plants and vegetables from the supermarket counters were completely strange to me. For instance, the rhubarb, was something I used to taste as a compot or cake filling long time ago in my childhood. The asparagus, though, was one of the 'wow' moments as until seven years ago I knew asparagus only as an apartment plant with leaves looking like the dill and no kitchen use. Curious about this culinary fashion, that lasts usually from April until beginning of June, I visited various famous asparagus fields around Berlin and tried to prepare some at home too, once in a while. To be honest, I am still skeptical about it, but traditionally, once the year I tasting some, just for acculturation reasons. This year, I went one step further and learned abou the big differences between the green and yellow asparagus. 

The most popular in the shops and kitchen is the yellow, in Berlin, the one growing up in places like Beelitz. This is the kind I am trying often, with boiled potatoes and salad, dill or parsley, with Bechamel sauce or just butter. You should only boil it and serve it fast. For carnivores, the schnitzel is a good match too. The yellow asparagus soup is a popular dish in the German homes, but till now I never tried it. 
The colour comes from a light deprivation process that took place during the growing stage. No chlorophyll is produced and the result is a tender asparagus, with a sweet taste and easy to cook: boiled for a couple of good minutes. 

The green asparagus is more expensive and less prevalent in Europe. Growing up fully exposed to light, it takes more time to boil and has a strong vegetable taste. The lower part does not need to be removed as in the case of the yellow one. I tasted it the first time more intensively this Pesach, in a good combination with duck. Was a delicious choice, as the fresh texture balanced the greasy taste of the duck. I can suggest serving it with rosemary and sweet or regular potatoes, with salmon or some salad combinations.
In the next week, I will try to offer my own asparagus cooking experiences, so stay tunned...

What about you, do you have some favourite asparagus dishes to recommend? 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

How to break free from narcissists

Why are we attracted to toxic relationships ? What push us to repeat the same experience over and over again although each and every time we end up devastated? How can we break free from narcissist men that are eating out precious life and energy? 
Based on her experience as clinical psychologist, Candace V. Love is going to the roots of the phenomenon: what element from our evolution from childhood onwards made possible the attraction towards self-absorbed, self-serving narcissist partners. Such relationships do have a common pattern: start right but 'turns bitter with disappointment'. The men are nice and supportive and sometimes with a good financial status too. But they can change from a day to another into opressive tyrans and besides the smiling mask a psycho can easily hide. None of the promises of love and appreciation are fulfilled and once set for a marriage and children, a separation seems almost impossible and spending the rest of lie in suffering and frustration a high probability. Such narcissistic are killing you softly and getting back into dating should be done slowly, only after the proper therapy was followed. 'Narcissistic men need their partner to look and act on a certain way because their partners are merely ''a reflection'' and extension of them'. They 'cannot stick with a partner who challenges hem or disagrees with them'.
No More Narcissists! is a very helpful and systematic book about this phenomenon. It analyses case-studies and explores the family psychological dynamic. More often, the victims of narcissists grew up dealing with various degrees of emotional distress and for each typology there are specific relationship life-traps associated. Besides the analyses, the book contains useful exercises and tests aiming to identify various situations and recommending the ways out of them as well as for identifying your core beliefs. 
The focus of the book is exclusively on women and does not cover the eventual reasons and genesis of the narcissistic behavior by women which most likely has the same family root. However, women can be narcissists and dominant too.
Available to order from June 1st, it is a book recommended to anyone decided to break up from specific relationship patterns that prove to be dramatically and heartbreakingly wrong. Therapy is the next logical step to follow, but until then, you may realize where do you stand and how important is to change your dating and sentimental life.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher via