Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Month 3 with the baby

Predictably, after month 2, month 3 arrived. Although I did not have too much time to write - also due to the fact that in the last weeks I split my time between full time work, family meals and short nights. To be honest though, the nights were not that short as the baby offered us most of the time long sleeping hours. 8 hours of sleep! What a wonder, if you are wise enough to go to sleep shortly after he is falling asleep after the hot bath.
The other big development noticed during this time was the hand movement. He is moving frequently, back and forth, although not yet coordinating, the hands. With strength, catching my fingers during the meals, or just playing with various textures and materials. 
During this time we also made the longest trip, using in just a couple of hours both trains and elevators. It was a long awaited trip for the parents, that we wanted to make for many weekends and everything took place without too many problems during the 5 full hours: we had enough diapers and the bottle of milk. The big big issue took place at home, one hour after we were back, as our beautiful baby offered a high tone concert that brought up at the brinks of panic. He calmed down after a couple of hours - during which we also considered to go to the emergency room, without having an answer to the question: what happened to him? One of the answers was that maybe spending too much time in the buggy without direct contact with us is supposedly paying a price. Since then, we faced several such outburst of tears and screams and we decided that we better take him in the hands and make him feel less alone (after all the other options - such as changing the pampers and feeding him - failed). And we are doing this not only in order to protect our sensitive ears but simply because we feel that this little soul that is not yet able to communicate properly with us deserves more attention and a lot of love and letting him cry for long minutes does not make him stronger or more independent. 
This is all for now. Ready to share more tips and adventures with the baby in the next days.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Month 2 with the baby

Our beautiful prince is already two-month old...Time goes fast but our baby is growing up even faster. This second month from the life of our baby boy was less eventful health-wise, except  the vaccination session that went actually great with only half a day of serious problems. We also had a little eye infection that was fixed with proper medication - although was warned that sometimes in Germany they exaggerate a bit with the antibiotics. The colics problems were fast solved with the help of the 15 drops of BSimplex that we give him before every milky meal. 

Working in shifts

We, as parents, we got used with the sleep deprivation, and were smart enough to plan the night shifts. Given the fact that at the end of the second month I started to work again full time, this time management detail helps me very much to maintain a healtlhier night life program. Also the baby sleeps much more, with around 5 hours in a row in the evening, after the bath and evening meal. But he also seems to be more demanding, with more and intense sessions of crying. Often he is unhappy with the load on the pampers or he wants to eat or to sleep, but it also happens that he is just bored and needs our company. Yes, sir!

More organised

We did not have too much time to breath, but we got more organised: we write down the eating hours and we started to buy in advance diapers and milk powder. (This after a couple of late Saturday evening or Sunday crisis when we realized that we may not have enough changes or milk for the baby). We bought a milk powder separator that helps to have everything ready and prepare the bottle within minutes. We also got more information about baby products and we purchased a special bottle cleaning substance and special laundry cleaning material. In order to avoid the bad smell of diapers, we keep putting the use ones in small bags that we close afterwards. 

Nails cutting made easy

We got much more experience in the field of nails cutting, but contrary to all the advices we did it not during sleep but after the bath. He cooperated very well and the operation succeeded withot incidents. In comparison with many other children, he enjoys staying on the belly and we tried to practise this exercise as often as possible. Overall, we are much better and our hard work is more and more often rewarded with big sincere natural smiles. Long enough to allow us to take so many pictures to send to our family and friends from far away.
To be continued...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pro or against pacifiers? A couple of reasons

Shortly after we were back from hospital, a big question preoccupied us: with or without pacifier - or inspirelly called peace makers? We read a couple of articles before, and listened to various opinions, but we also feel that a pacifier will just help the baby - but also us - to sleep. There was also the option of just having a baby that rejects it but it was not mean to be so we were back to step one.
Carefully, we set up a list of pros and cons, but as in the case of many other things in life, moderation is key. We accepted it as a temporary solution for maximum 2 years and things look more bearable.

As for the reasons, here is my pro and cons list for now:


- It has a soothing effect that calms both the parents and the baby
- It offers a temporary distraction to the kid, especially when at doctor, during flights and during a visit
- Reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) - more about that in a next post
- Compared to the finger sucking, it is disposable, being up to the parents when to stop it
- Make the kid more secure and helps to control feelings
- Avoid the risk of overfeeding


- It may interfere with breastfeeding and can decrease the appetite for mother's milk
- If intensively used after 12 months it can lead to a certain delay of speech
- Increases the risk of middle ear infection (otitis media) as it may increase the pressure in the middle ear
- If used after 3 years old it creates dental problems
- For sensitive children, it can cause latex allergy or oral ulcers. It may also be associated with exhaustion. 
- It may create dependency and if not used it it the cause of various sleep troubles

And now, a couple of advices:

- Try to use the BPA-free type
- Do not use a cord, because it presents life risks
- Do not share it with other children
- Clean it properly
- If the kid doesn't want it, do not give it to him. Especially avoid to feed it into his mouth.
- The square orthodontic shaped pacified will most likely avoid too many dental problems. 
- The best time to introduce it to the toddler is between 2 weeks and 4 months, when there is the peak for extra sucking. After 10 months most probably the kid will use it discontinously.
- Before one year, try to plan getting ride of it, little by little. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How BPA free should you be?

Very often on many bottles and other plastic products for baby, the 'Free BPA' mention is included. Curious to learn more about baby life I tried to figure out what are the main issues with that and this is what I discovered:
- BPA stands for Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical substance used since the 1960s to produce various plastics and resins. Is is a colorless solid soluble in organic solvents but poorly soluble in waters.
- It is used for the production of various consumer goods, containers that store foods and beverages, baby formula cans and sippy cups, bottle tops, food cans, but also dental sealants, contact lenses and CDs. Also some shields of pacifiers can have this ingredients, but not the nipple. 
- Plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
- According to medical studies, once the BPA seep into food or beverages through heating, it may lead to negative effects on the brain and behavior of children - ADHD -, prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. However, there are not definitive studies and not direct evidence that BPA may create such problems. 
- At low exposure, most experts say that studies shows that the material is acceptably safe.
- The National Institute of Environmental Health Science advices against microwaving polycarbonate plastics and putting them in the dishwasher. Plastic can break dow and it allows BPA to leach into foods.
- In order to avoid BPA-related risks it is recommended to use as alternatives products made of glass, porcelain or stainless. Also, do not use those with BPA for hot foods and liquids. It is better to throw up any plastic products - like bottles or sippy cups - that are chopped or cracked. Besides the BPA risks, such problematic products can also harbor germs.
- Many companies started to produce alternatives to the BPA in canned foods. 
- BPA-free does not mean that the products are free from other harmful chemical ingredients that are included in the category of hormone disruptors (substance that interfere with the normal functioning of the hormone or endocrine system, by duplicating, blocking or exaggerating hormonal responses. In most cases, the effects of these substances was not studied yet.

After going through all the materials regarding BPA, my conclusion is that I will try if possible to use BPA-free bottles and where the mention about this substance does not exist, to be careful with the overused products. Knowledge is power but exaggeration never helps.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Visitor at Babywelt Berlin

Part of my last professional and personal assignments, I visited this weekend the Babywelt fair in Berlin, one of the most important gatherings dedicated to baby and children. With a significant audience of parents and pregnant women and new parents, the exhibitional space from Arena Berlin near Treptower Park offered for three days a dialog between companies - insurance, food, interior design, hotels, fitness centers - and the public.This year, the fair is held also in Munich and Stuttgart and from the next year Frankfurt am Main is added to the list.
For me, it was the first such fair I ever visited and thus, I spent an impressive amount of time talking with companies and trying to understand various opportunities and products. Significant discounts and coupons were offered, as well as complimentary packages and small gifts for children. Significant discounts also applied and given the usually high prices for furnitures and buggies, it was a good investment. Card payments were available and, if not, a small ATM center was set up at the entrance. 
It was easy to recognize various typically German - and Berlin - products, dedicated to carry children on the bikes, which usually are quite expensive on the market. 
For the completely new beginners in life, we tried to have a look at some classical pieces of furniture and took of the package with coupons as well. I just got my card from Toysrus and will have more opportunities for knowing more about their offer.
As usual, small companies are my favourites. For personalized, limited edition, furniture and baby products, Kleine Fabriek offered a good choice. Breastfeeding moms were offered a variety of covers, made of special materials and with different functionalities, by Zellmops.
Getting ready for the next sport achievements of the baby, I purchased a babyswimmer a tool that can be used in the bath tube or swimming pool from the first month of life on. 
Keeping memories of the children is precious and various companies offered diversified services in this respect, such as Kindheitkiste. You can gather memories of the first days, photos, foot prints, marks of the first important events etc. 
 Or you can chose to print his or her name of the food box or other personalized items.
Entertainment moments were offered to the participants, either some children music or some special baby-mother fitness exercises. Personally, I booked a Kanga class and another fitness hour for the next week and can't wait to test them.
Given that the medium age of the children participants was less than one year, a special huge space was created for breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding consultants were also present, as well as (less) known, for me, health insurance companies. An interesting idea was the offer presented by the Waldfriede Hospital in Zehlendorf where you can give birth in a hotel-like place. You can check-in and out as a family while benefiting of high-end medical services. Available classes for parents, some of them also in English, were also offered, but unfortunatelly for me, nothing available in the next months.
High-end design and medical standards were meeting in the case of many products. This nose cleaner must be used only when the baby has a cold and can be attached to the vacuum cleaner.when the baby has a cold and can be attached to the vacuum cleaner. Stomatologically tested pacifiers were presented by Dentistar, with a design offering more place for the tongue and various jaw-friendly settings. Anyway, the opinions on pacifiers are so divided that the choice for or against seems to be a matter of free will. From the category of medically designed products, MAM brought its anti-colic sets.
Snooze baby is just another Dutch smart company, and their car seat blanket with special places for feet is definitely a great idea that helps the kid to feel comfortable. A great choice is also the blue and white blanket with Dutch tiles inspired motifs. Another products made with love were offered by Tinylove, music boxes with different repertoire -from lullabies to classical - that can play for around 40 minutes. Very helpful when you need a long term program for the baby.
For the parents and bigger kids, special boxes with healthy food and vegetables were ready to deliver. Very helpful when you have no time to do live shopping.
The fair experience was very rewarding, not only for the coupons I gathered, but also for the knowledge about new products and the healthy ideas gathered. Right now, I have many new topics to write about and ideas to apply in the daily baby life. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

In the world of Fatboy

Having a baby means a completely change of the perspective and shopping agenda, also when it comes to interior design and furniture choices. During my regular trips to interior design shops I am interested in finding inspiration for the boy's room and, as usual, for smart products. The Dutch design is such a source for me and I cannot have enough to discover new and new creative companies. My favourite of the last week is Fatboy, located on the huge interior design and furniture shop in Kantstrasse 17 in Berlin. I spent there more than half an hour, discovering the products under the professional guidance of the extraordinary sales representative. The shop in Berlin is the first worldwide, but online shopping is possible for the less luckier fans of the brand. 
What I appreciated at this brand is the multi-functionality and the creativity. Although the great outline of the product is set, you can pick up your own choices and do an inspiring setting, like in the case of this lamp, made up of different pieces of different shapes. This lamp can be hanged inside or outside, for a party or an intimate dinner. Many of their products are water proof.
 Another fun discoveries are the bed lamps that are rechargeable and comes in a unique shape.
You can never have enough of them as you can change the cover all the time. A nice choice of a present, I think.
The lounge chairs, water proof and made of different materials can be put together to create a bigger chair or even a sofa. The prices are moderate to high, but when thinking ahout the multiple destinations of many of the products, there is a worthy investment to do. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Does my baby have too much hair or what is lanugo hair?

'This baby has so much hair', I said to myself minutes after the little D. was brought to me shortly after giving birth and I was able to touch his fine skin as he lied naked on my body. His silky brown head was not a surprise for me, as especially in the last 3 months of pregnancy, heartburns were very frequent (some say that the remedy might be eating a lot of pineapple, but as I did not try myself I cannot say it for sure), a clear sign that the baby will not be born bald. 
Over one month ago, this tiny dark hair that covered his fine ears, shoulders and back is almost away. As I found out later, this fine hair is called lanugo - a derivation from the Latin word wool. Soft and unpigmented, it looks like the peach soft fuzz and usually develops in utero to regulate the baby's temperature in the womb starting from the 5 month of pregnancy. Some kids born without it might loose it while in the womb, because they ate it or because born after the term. 
Nothing to be scared or worried about after all, everything is the work of nature and aimed to protect the child before the parents are acknowledging how to protect their children. 

The 3 important things a new mother should do

After the pregnancy ends and the baby is out in the world, the woman's body goes through just another couple of changes and challenges. Get ready for a lot of sleepless nights and daily trials and worries, especially when the baby is the first. Regardless of your previous baby experience the first days after coming back from hospital are difficult and the woman's body is going through hard times. Although time is scarce, once in a while, you should find a way - especially with the support and understading of your life partner - to pay some important visits. As for now, only 3 of them...

1. Generalist doctor for a medical overview

Women doctor is very important and during the pregnancy it was a regular presence into your life. Now it is time to do one more general check of your post-pregnancy situation. Blood tests, eye test, blood pressure, heart and kidneys are only some of the important things to check. It does not take too much time and you can get in time the right advice about the vitamins and life changes eventually you should make in the next weeks and months.

2. The dentist

Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding...All of them will require a lot of your calcium and vital minerals. If you already have a history of bad dentition, expect unpleasant decays and even to loose some of your teeth. Added to the unavoidable post-pregnancy weight problems, this will bring you a bad and embarassing mood. The solution: try to get as soon as possible an appointment to your dentist for checking and start planning the next preventive and reparatory steps. 

3. Massage - and spa treatments

Don't misunderstand me...Yes, the life with a baby means a lot of sacrifice and putting the kid on the first place. But if you do not feel well and you go through a lot of stress the baby will be for sure influenced. One of the first consequences is the breastfeeding problem as the more stressed you are the higher the danger for your milk. One more hour can be enough to take most - if not all - the weight away. Handled by a professional, it can be the start of your getting your body back, bringing back wellness and reestablishing the proper blood and muscle functioning. 

As a rule, with the help of an efficient time management and the family help and support you can do it! And you do not need to feel guilty, just to realize that your wellbeing is important for the good life of your baby too. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Foodie Book Review: Hundred Foot Journey

With a new baby in town, reading and writing went were slowly lately. The cooking was not that brilliant either, without too many new recipes tested. But the couple of seconds of frustrations are soon replaced by some new occasions to happily enjoy the wonders - and challenges too - of motherhood.
However, I was able to finish a book that was already turned into a movie: The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
I cannot say what exactly I was expecting from your book but for sure I was looking for some good writing. Which the book actually has (I read the book in a German translation), especially when it comes to sociological and historical parts - the journalistic profile of Morais may play a role in this. However, this is not a typical foodie book: you will not have recipes or extensive descriptions of meals. Instead, the main topic of the book is the career of Hassan Haji, as a famed Parisian chef starting with his upbringing in Mumbay. It enters the insular - and sometimes racist world -of the French cuisine as well as the complicated and not always fair Michelin star system. Expect a lot of details - and some inspiration - about the business of restaurants in France and abroad.
There are also some unforgettable foodie stories, as when it comes to recognizing the ingredients of a dish after tasting it, or vivid descriptions of French markets.
Overall, the book is more about successful imigrant stories than about food and its mysteries. The art of making a good food in France served as the main ingredient of success. Food can help this too and the positive message of the book is encouraging.
Strongly recommended as a good weekend or holiday read. Can't wait to watch the movie too!

Monday, October 26, 2015

First month with the baby

This year was very scarce in terms of blogging, but there was a motivation: the nine months of pregnancy, two new jobs and since one month, the baby boy that gave us a lot of work and to-do-list and many sleepless nights. But watching him growing up and becoming a new little person every day gives me strength and happiness that sometimes can be even stronger than my love for words.
Anyway, now that a certain routine is set up - meaning a lot of practice in terms of waking up fast in the night and finishing everything - the preparation of milk and diapers changing - in just a matter of minutes, there is also time for reflection and a lot of writing. Although busy, I was able to keep reading and kept a certain list of topics I want to cover in the next days, if the baby will agree.

A couple of advices

As for now, my first lessons learned of the first month as a baby boy mother:
- Once the baby is born, forget about everything you used to do before: sleep especially and going out. Even when you have a supportive partner or husband on your side, doing things together is much better than hoping than the other part will do it while you are away enjoying some special private time. All your hobbies and little secret pleasures do not make time at all and this is the way to be. The baby is the most important part of your lives now.

Ask an expert

- You never know enough about how to deal with the baby problems and checking with the specialists - doctors and midwife - as well as with experienced relatives and friends is very important for your peace of mind and well being of your child. From the reasons the baby is crying till how to make bath, there are thousands of reasons to ask support and help. Do not hesitate to do it! Getting books and reading online about baby development, preferably together with your partner or husband is also very important! The best is to keep reading about the current stage of development and do not get too much deep into the children life. Wait and see and keep the notes and the information for later. Your time is limited and you need to have the mind fresh for the new challenges. 
In our case, one of the problems we had to deal witlh wasl how to correctly bind the diapers, after we realized a couple of times in a row that the boy was wet - and very unhappy about this! We kept practising and practising and now we are finally able to make it even with the eyes closed...

Be together!

- After the woman gives birth there are a lot of changes and transformations taking place -as it was not enough what happens during the nine months of pregnancy! - and coping with the challenges of the new baby may not be easy. As long as you are not alone and your partner supports you and the baby, you can get along better and try to get adjusted to the new life. Expect some fights and misunderstandings and hard hours but as long as you keep talking and there is love and understanding everything will go smoothly. Once in a while, leave the other part some space and time and try to spend at least 30 minutes differently. You will get very refreshed and ready for the new challenges. 
As for the sleep deprivation, a chronical symptom for the new parents, the best is to try to sleep when the baby is sleeping. 

Simple is (always better)

- I left the hospital with a lot of packages of wet napkins and creams and other cosmetics. I used them intensively in the first weeks till I suddenly realized some red skin spots and irritation in the sensitive parts of the body. The cause? The Pampers napkins that had some alcohol and other substances harmful for the new born skin. What about some warm water and usual napkins to clean him? With this recipe plus some plant based cream his skin got better and the guily napkins are now used for cleaning the dust from the furniture. 
For the evening massage, we use a pharmacy formula of almond oil very helpful for the skin regeneration in the first weeks of life. In the case of the laundry, we found some bio-, non-perfumed ingredients. 

Bath is very important

- In the hospital, they told me to do the bath maybe a bit later in the month but common sense and practise of people with experience adviced me to do something else. The hard part is to know how to do it and for that you need someone to show it to you! Otherwise, besides the obvious cleanliness reasons, a bath before the sleep helps the baby to have a longer night and to relax.

Never too early to start with habits

- As we, adults, the babies need an organise life. Try to set up rituals in the evening - bath for instance - always at the same time - between 19.00 and 20.00 is the best before the baby can have a long sleep till midnight at least. Also, in the morning, spend at least 20 minutes with some basic face cleaning and changing to daily outfits. You may think the baby is too small to realize this, but it is part of a daily routine that you will respect if from now on. 
Also, it is important to make the difference between day and night, by creating the dark ambiance in the room. A small lamp kept open during the night and avoiding the switch on the big light is also part of the first weeks ritual. 

Always in contact with the baby

At this stage in life, when the baby does not see and hear good, the touching is the only way to create a special contact with the baby. Either if you touch his face during eating or you have some private moments before sleep or, as in my case, use any opportunity to touch and kiss as much as possible. 
A mistake to avoid though is to end up staying with the baby in the arms every time he is sleeping. The remedy to this was to bring the car chair in the room you are staying and keep the discrete company to the baby, but without turning into a slave. As much as the kid needs your love and attention it also needs to be independent and this is the lesson to keep in mind as early as possible. 

This is all for now. As the kid entered the month 2 of life, we are already prepared for new lessons and a new blog post in a couple of weeks. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

End of the summer choices by Occitaine en Provence

Source: Occitaine website
Officially, the summer it is about to end and it seems that I already feel a bit nostalgic about the things I wanted to do and haven't during the sunny day. But with the high holidays only a couple of days away and many things that I want to share from the past silent blogging days, plus some other events I am very excited to share here, I hope to not have too much time for being overwhelmed by unhappy thoughts. 
Holidays are the best time to make presents, including for yourself, isn't it? 
The last week, I had some extra time and visited the closest Occitaine en Provence shop and could hardly leave. I am usually very much in love with their hand creams and instantly felt in love with their Arlesienne hand cream, with instant results on my delicate hands. Another plus is that it does not have a hard smell either. Talking about Arlesienne, a word that sends to the idea of a strong, independent and yet coquetisch woman from the South of France, all the products from the collection do have saffron - besides rose - as part of the ingredients, a very interesting combination in perfumes that tends to give a note of distinguished elegance to the products. The variations of perfumes are exquisite, very delicate and with a unique flowerly touch. 
Another products to follow, buy and test soon are the unisexl Spa in your home, that although may have some very strong smell that reminds me not very pleasantly about the Tiger Balm from my childhood do produce strong detox effects and may be even more efficient than the strong green tea I am constantly using part of my daily routine. 
In all cases, the prices are, as usual, a bit above the average but fully worth it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Colouring books for adults. Why not?

I must confess, again, that I am not a creative person. Better said, I am not the artistic kind of personality, ready to make an outstading work of art out of nothing. I prefer to concentrate all my creativity and energies for my various writing projects. However, once in a while, I need to go out of my simple world and encourage myself to go beyond my limits. I do have a lot of crafts projects ongoing, I am into jewellery making and decorations as well as illustrations.
Nothing compares, though, with my first and big love for colouring books. As a kid, I enjoyed the quiet moments when with my box of pencils and the black shapes in the front of my, I was trying to find out the best combinations for filling up the design and giving life to the page. Many of my colouring books were inspired by various historical and cultural events, my favourite having to do with some old style fashion design.
I do not remember exactly when I gave up this rewarding hobby, but very often I kept fresh in mind the full feeling of freedom experienced during those moments. And also the pleasure of hours later starting, I was admiring how my page was changing. It taught me patience and the sense of colour as well as the capacity to retire for a good time and put my thoughts in order. All these habits helped me later in life when I had to do with various challenging professional and personal situations.
Especially in the last year, I started to hear more and more often about adults having as hobby colouring books. Due to my strict education, according to which, you do certain things as a kid and never after as an adult, I regarded those story skeptical but without too much criticism though. After all, everyone is free to do what she/he considers the right thing to do with her/his time. However, in the last year, the frequency of news - even the New Yorker considered it as a topic worth to dedicate a couple of good thousand of words -, plus a certain decision I took to try at least once the week to do something creative for my soul, determined me to just go to the next Idee shop and buy one of those colouring books for adults. I also purchased some nice colouring pencils and without thinking twice, I started to silently colour the white surfaces, just the way I used to do any years back. The difference is that now, my life got more complicated and I have to think about much more things than years ago. I also noticed how I can organise my writing life better, being able to almost write full posts in my mind and instantly put online after my colouring task is done!
The plan is to have a book done every two months. I already dream about my nexgt book, also from Idee, totally dedicated to travel. The older I get the more free I feel to be exactly what I want to be and to do exactly what I want to do. Good things, I mean. Some of them will be for sure announced soon on this blog...

A visit at the third shop of Zara Home Berlin

Zara Home opened recently its third shop in Berlin, on Ku'damm 203-205, corner with Knesebeckstrasse, after the closing of the eccentric fur shop Pelz Lösche. It covers an area of around 600 sqm, and is deserved by a relatively customer friendly personnel. What I don't necessarily appreciate in many shops is that moment when the vendors are setting up their products during the high-hours of the day, either bothering the clients with their movements or because too busy to answer different questions. 
The shop is separated into different sections: kitchen decorations, kitcheware, bathroom, bedroom, children. The prices are moderate to high, but don't desperate, it is the season of sales and for sure you might find something affordable soon. Besides the shop on Ku'damm, Zara Home has another affiliates in the Mall of Berlin and the Boulevard Berlin, in Steglitz.
As I am very much into natural colours and inspiration, I fell in love with the various table covers and napkins with pastel butterflies and flowers. 
There are also a lot of models of candels that can decorate and provide intimate natural light to any space. They vary in size and shapes, including as a huge elephant. Many mirrors seems to have a clear Oriental, especially Indian, inspiration. Out of many models, I am in favour of the silver framing, elegant and special.
As usual, pillows are a difficult choice to make and being creative involves also mixing various materials, such feathers added to soft cashmere. De gustibus...
When not too into eclecticism, the simple, spartan brownish colours can be a good choice for any season, residence, budget and tastes.
The predominant pastels are kept further on also in the case of bathroom products, which looks like an inspired choice because is an invitation to silence and quietness. 
Some products can be a real hit and become a shopping obsession, as in the case of this goose shaped vase with silver endings that reminds me of noble times and rich tables. 
For the children room, the predominant note is seriosity, offering the usual items you want to find in a child's room, but without too much room for creativity or even naivity.
 After all, why not keep being classical...?
The space for creativity is left, it seems, for the decorations of plates, with an unique funny collection of fashionista cats. Even someone seriously allergic to cats can appreciate it!
 The rest of glassware is not spectacular, either with simple classical shapes and discrete decorations,
...or with some strong colours that are not necessarily the style and colour that I may enjoy to look at during a lunch.
Some living room and lobby vases and decorations also did not pass my special good taste test. Too much non-authentic glittering may end up into kitch.
Hopefully, there were enough flowers and predominantly white imprints that are making a great difference in terms of taste, bringing a slice of countryside in your home and at your table. Very important to have them especially during the long winter. 
For the end, this perfumed box, with various good looking products caught my attention for their stylish presentation and the promise of wellness. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Foodie reading: Anya von Bremzen, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

It was a long time since I've read an interesting food memoir and blame me - not the scarcity of publications - for this situation. Luckily, my reading return was in full style, as Anya Bremzen's Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking resonated greatly with my own although peculiar, culinary experiences. 
Living in a totalitarian regime means that food and history and political evolutions are always going together. The modest opening of the regime may mean a dramatic change on the menu, as more ingredients become available thanks to the Party's gratitude, for instance. Being born in such a system gives you a certain ability to seize the right moment and eventually, improve the recipe. Thus, it is hard to say how much history and how much food you can find in this well-writen memoir. Biographical details and cooking skills are going together and the result is an extensive journey through the Soviet life - and kitchens. From tsarist Russia to Putin's nouveau riche, Anya von Bremzen covers with a journalistic attention all the details. You can feel the longing and imagine the smells going out of the kitchen in this Proustian Russian translation - and adaptation. 
Although enjoyed the story telling from the first part, the travel and writing part dedicated to the discovery of various regional cuisines of what used to be once Soviet Union was very appealing for me.
Fortunately, the book also has a couple of recipes at the end and I am curious to try some of them too - Cornbread for Khrushchev, anyone ?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fishing for creative ideas in London

Travel is on the top of my interests from an early age, but part of my nomadic experiences is also to observe and learn some new crafts and about new interior design simple decorations. As the last week I visited London for a day, I accidentally discovered some cute things that could not leave without taking a picture of.

First is that nice candles support, either as an elephant (photo above) or as cute fish. Made of metal and painted in different colours, with a special candle support inside you can use them in the garden, to hang out on a tree, for a romantic dinner outside or for a special mysterious late night party or only for decorations. You can also hang it in the balcony. The metal structure is safe so you don't have to worry if the candles are burning after you are sleeping. They look simple and can suit including children parties or almost any kind of special events.

I am very much in love with letters and frequently I also work for fun some as birthday collage suprises for children. Those silver ones are simple, big, and very chic. It shows that you can do so many things with letters and just a simple material, all you need is to look for something special and put your creativity at work.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pattern design: suggestions from masters

Trying to get the best of my Pesach chol hamoed free time, while keeping up with my motto of learning something new every day I tried to day to use the opportunity offered by skillshare to learn for free about surface design and creating patterns. The video classes by Jenna Frye are very easy, illustrative and very useful. The program yo need for the practice is Illustrator, from the Adobe Family. The course is rather an introduction into the topic, with some good examples to practice but if really interested in improving the knowledge, more skills and practice is needed.
As for now, I decided to move on and improve my visual knowledge about the topic, and did some research about some of the masters of patterns used as examples during the class. 

Cath Kidston

Cath Kidson brings into your home, at your table or on your body the charm of the British countryside. Her website offers regularly various discounts and the diversity of her motifs, built around a smooth base of mild colours brings peace to the eyes. Her products can be also ordered online and delivered in specific countries all over the world, including outside Europe.

Joel Dewberry

Joel Dewberry is another example of praising simplicity and classical beauty. His elegant collections cover clothes, interior design, upholstery, wallpapers. 

Flower: Eucalyptus Bazaar

Johannes Itten

We are entering the hall of art, as Itten is an expressionist painter, close to the Bauhaus movement, which developed an elaborated theory of colours. 


One of my favourite artists by far, Escher is the master of creating special effects through repetition. He combines architectural elements, with stylish fragments of nature and the inspiration of the Italian art and architecture.

Convexe and concave

Friday, March 20, 2015

Black lentils: the healthy side and an easy recipe

I am very clumsy with lentils and till the last year I hardly had too many encouters with them. I loved to admire their colour and texture but hardly had any idea how to prepare them and not memory of taste hence, the impossibility to imagine how the tastes can match. However, courageous as I am, I tried little by little to expand my senses, and dared to cook simple lentils recipes, usually added with some olive oil and sour cream or yoghurt. 
The best of lentils were the black ones tasted for two years in a row at my breakfast in Tel Aviv a couple of months ago: simple cold black lentils, with olive oils and sour cream, plus a lazy Jerusalem artichoke. Once returned back home, I longed for recrating if not the same sunny experience near Gordon beach, at least the beautiful taste. 
I bought from an Allnatura shop some black lentils called Beluga, inspired by their physical ressemblance with the caviar. They are small, black and round and need some extra time - around 15 minutes of boiling - till they are ready. Originally from South Asia, the black lentils have a mild eartly flavor, a soft texture and are high-fiber and protein rich. They contain: potassium, Vitamin B1, copper, manganese and phosphorus. Compared to other types of lentils - till now, I only tried the orange red ones and this is true - the experts say, the black ones remain intact after boiling. They are good served  both cold and hot.

For the preparation of the lentils, I went through the following steps:
- Cleaned the beans in cold water for a couple of minutes. Although the product was bought from a respectable bio shop, still doing some safety cleaning is a good idea.
- Once in and boiling, the water is getting black. The first time was thinking at some very artificial colours that maybe were added, but ended up believing the experienced black lentils experts and assumed that in fact there are some natural colours instead.
- I boiled for around 15-20 minutes, but it can last for around 30-40 minutes, without any risk. 

For the recipe:
- 1 cup of hard boiled black lentils
- 7 small cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 middle size onion, finelly chopped

After the first 15 minutes of boiling, I added the other ingredients and some extra pinch of kosher salt. 
I regularly simmer doing boiling and if needed, added some extra water.
Once the water got out, I put to rest in a bowl, and also added some 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, plus some fresh sour cream.
The preparation time is of around 40 minutes. 
This recipe serves two and it can be tasted either as a side dish, maybe with some meat or some fried veggies, or like a healthy individual dish in the morning or in the evening.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Foodie movie review: Julie&Julia

When I am not langurously waiting for the spring and eventually summer, I am fighting to keep my writing mood at a good level. Although I did not keep too much the pace with my blogging schedule, at least I assume that I am voraciously preparing for new professional writing challenges. Especially in the field of food writing when I was pretty lazy lately.
Julie&Julia I wanted to watch for a long time. When I first watched the short add in a movie theatre, I instantly added Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking on my 'To read' list on Goodreads, but in the following years I forgot both about the book and the movie. Till this Sunday when I finally got into the right mood for the movie (I hope I will not need the same impressive amount of years till will catch up with the book). 
It is an easy, not badly played movie, a contemporary commedy about the final success of an unhappy cubicle worker, Julie, that made her way through the 524 recipes of Julia Child's first book within 365 days. The blogging struggle of Julie - I wonder why it seems she never makes photos for her Salon.com blog - interwins with fragments from the life of Child, from the beginning of her life in Europe as a US diplomat's wife during the Cold War, till her return and the beginning of her cooking career in the States. Child wanted to bring the French cooking to the American kitchen, while Julie wanted to push forward her efforts of becoming a writer, an alternative to her unbearable professional life, besides cooking delicious dishes to forget about working in a cubicle. Although the two of them will never meet, they both succeed because were able to follow with obstination their hobbies. Both fight more or less diplomatically with family or political pressures, various insecurities or the terrible standards of the famous French Cordon Bleu cooking school. 
Especially for those trying to juggle with many professional and personal hats, this movie is an encouragement to go fast forward and keep following your passions. Doesn't matter where you are now, depends how do you see yourself in the near future and how you plan to reach your goals!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A new homemade bread recipe on the table

True is that for too many reasons, in the last months, I did not cook or bake as much as I wanted to. Being productive in the kitchen for me means that I am completely at peace and balanced and able to focus only on the ingredients I have in the front of me and the tasty ideas tempting me in my brain. Instead, I was more focused on other non-foodie projects and some family issues that had to deal as soon as possible. But as I should also eat from time to time, little by litttle, the hunger won over the lack of interest for anything food. 
As I usually make my own bread, I wanted this time something special, and eventually looking much more like a high-end product of patisserie. After browsing a lot of recipes from books in different languages, I decided over one miking corn and white flour and relatively easy to achieve. 

First, I started by mixing for 2 minutes 100 gr. corn flour with 400 ml. warm water. Meanwhile, I dissolved 20 gr. yeast in one glass of warm water. Added 1 kg. white flour over the corn flour mixture, plus the yeast. For taste, I also added 1/4 tablespoon kitchen salt. I added the white flour little by little, while kneading it with a big wooden palette till it turns into a dough. You can also use a mixer - which does things faster, but I am still very much into hand kneading.
After the dough is ready, I let it to raise for 2 hours, covered by a clean cloth. 

After that, I kneaded it by hand again, with the hand previously wet with oil (this is a tip shared by one of my baking friends on Facebook, while I was looking for the recipe and it worked out perfectly and left my hands perfectly cleaned; as a tip, olive oil does better to the skin than any hand cream) and kneaded it again for 3-5 minutes. When necessary, add more flour, for an easier kneading.

When everything is ready, I painted the bread with the content of 2 yolks. I spread some za'atar and sesame seeds for the artistic impression.  

Baked for 40 minutes in the oven at 120C. At the end of the process, it not only looks good, but also tastes great, what I really appreciated, the crust was both delicate and with a good taste. (If you want a stronger crust, you may need to bake probably 60 minutes).

Compared to the local bread variants on the market, this corn bread is original, delicious and tempts you to eat it all at once. In terms of baking lessons learned, I was more than happy with the results, as for the first time in a long time, my dough both looked and tasted almost perfect!

Bon Appétit!