Saturday, August 20, 2016

Being Seen or living with autism

Life with autism and/or with a person with autism can be very challenging, especially in absence of a proper diagnosis. Mostly, you expect from the other person a 'normal' behavior - although normality is a problematic and hard to define notion. 
In a very honest and open memoir, Anlor Davin tells her story of being diagnosed of autism at 46 and the struggles and difficulties she had to deal with her whole life. Still, she succeeded to move in a new country, from France to the US, learn a new language, worked, although only for short periods of time and has a big boy that mostly stayed with her. In fact, it is nothing to wonder about, because there were cases of persons with different manifestations on the autism spectrum that won the Nobel Prize - like Thomas S├╝dhof, for instance. The problem may be usually be of the direct environment, particularly family, and the social interactions in general, at school or at work. The role of the diagnosis is very important because it may help the parents and siblings to deal correctly with the many challenges and can help the autistic person as well to balance and counter the difficulties in the everyday life.
Unfortunately, Anlor Davin hadn't this chance and most of her life she was alone against the rest of the world. Reading his struggles and achievements it looks like an outstanding success. Moving often, interacting with many people, always careful to observe what was going on and the other people's reactions, although lacking the key to understand the reasons why they behave in a specific way. She found her peace in Zen meditation and also had once in a while the chance to meet the right persons at the right time to help her or just listen to her.  
The writing is simple but what matters is the inspiration of the story. A recommended lecture to anyone that wants to better understand autism and those living with it.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange of an honest review

Friday, August 19, 2016

New beauty products from Rival de Loop Young


I am usually very critical when it comes with the ways in which German companies - whatever the domain - deal with bloggers and online media in general, but no one seems to do it better than the drugstore giant Rossmann. My almost daily destination when it comes to baby products, it offers many other goodies, at very good prices, from cosmetic and beauty products to house cleaning and even books and veggie products or wines. More than that, they have a special program for bloggers, where they give local online writers the chance to test and recommend their products, as well as to be part of different promotions.
Regularly, they send newsletters with the newest additions to the stock that you can wish for. One of the last weeks, I was lucky enough to be randomly selected to test some of the latest Rival de Loop package. It included products which suit my usual posts: lipbalm, two lipsticks with matching nail polish plus a top coat, a mascara and - not in the picture because it will be featured a bit later - an eye liner.
As usual, I carefully tested each and every one of the products, in order to be sure that I am writing the adequate recommendations. And, here we are:
- The lip balm does not only have a cute cover, but it also works efficiently against the dry lips I may have once in a while. My product has a very discrete strawberry taste. It contains lanolin, seed oil and jojoba, among other products. 
- The nail polishes: I definitely loved the colours and the coating makes wonders when it comes to resistance. And, as a busy mother that spends some good amount of time cleaning the house and the baby, this is what I need. My favourite is the pinky one, but unfortunately, it is a bit short-lived if the coating was not applied. 
- The matching lipsticks are really hot and elegant. Actually, I developped a passion for the reddish one, and thus, I wear it as much as I can around the day. Both last long and do look very good if you have a light complexion and dark hair. 
- The mascara is water resistant and in general makes a good impression. It brings volume and outlines the eyes in a very normal way.
All the make up products are a good addition for the summer and travel makeup set, are affordable and can be easily matched with different outfits and moods.

Disclaimer: Products delivered by Rossmann via their blogger program, but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Understanding mindfulness: Monkey Mind and the Mountain

We all have experienced mode or less busy hectic days or even lives, even we are at the beginning of the school or about to retire. Homeworks, new video games we need to catch up with, performances of hedge funds managing our pensions or just the usual struggle of securing our job and providing what it is needed for our families. Hopefully, there are remedies aimed to help us not only to survive but to return to normality.
Monkey Mind and the Mountain is a book dedicated to a wide range of audiences, from 8 years up and is focused on introducing the reader to the basic practices of mindfulness. A spiritual technique known since the beginning of Buddhism, it has a great applicability today, regardless of religious membership and other personal orientation. It can be practised at home or during a lunch break or before starting the homeworks. "Mindfulness is all about learning to pay attention to the present moment, so that we can make the most of life". The alternation between theoretical introduction and practical exercises is one of the strongest point of the book, besides the simple language aimed to help the reader without creating additional intellectual challenges. 
"Mindfulness can be helpful because it involves taking a step back from your thoughts". All you need to do sometimes to reestablish the balance between your mind and your body is to look at the clouds and take a deep breath. In the language of the book, it means to separate from the Monkey Mind, defined as the temptation "to jump all and down, swinging from branch to branch and not sitting still for too long". We may like this adventure for a while, but sometimes it is too late when we realize how much such a lifestyle can be worning out our spirit and body. 
Some benefits of the mindfulness mentioned by the book are: less stress, more creativity, better concentration and less pain (including physical).
This book is a smart introductory guide to mindfulness practices and theories, a first step ahead in offering ourself a better and insightful life. 
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher via NetGalley.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Interior design inspiration: Fashion for Home

Wandering through this beautiful shop, situated in the very center of Berlin, I realized how important colour is for dramatically changing an environment. A single patch of colour can make a terrific difference in a space. This is the main lesson learned at Fashion for Home store.
The distinctive note can be given by a big piece of furniture, or by small accessories, such as a shining lamp or a creative carpet.
Two pillows of two from two different ends of the colours spectrum can bring life into an otherwise sober and I dare to say boring couch.
This chair is not only comfy - I had the chance of testing its welcoming hug - but eye challenging in his simplicity.
As I am trying lately to explore various chair sizes and designs, I've found interesting their collection. Either for the kitchen, the office or the cozy corner, there are many attractive models that make the room an intelligent geometry game.
I underestimate sometimes the power of discrete lightning. In this case, it beautifully highlights the carpet patterns and thus gives a completely new dimension to the room.
I am not a big fan of white rooms, but when you have only one piece of colour - the blue couch - the life in a white cube is much more bearable.
The pastel combinations are more than a seasonable fashion. Managed in right quantities, it brings joy into the room.
The keyword that applies to many of the items presented here is: elegance. Of the colours, lines or volumes, while keeping the standards of the practical needs of the modern space and the simplicity of style.
I particularly appreciated the copper lights, for the potential to reflect and therefore magnify the environment.
The colour of this chair reminds of some old times furniture, from the 1960s, but in fact added to the modern armchair, it cries modern life. Most pieces can be delivered in different colours.
The shapes are simple and easy to fit in even the smaller space. Economically designed, they answer the needs of modern families, looking for comfort and simplicity, quality and elegance. The prices are usually middle to high. The customer service is more than friendly, with knowledgeable personnel not only in matters of shop supplies but with an eye for interior design advices as well.
The visit at this store proved very inspired and a great opportunity to learn more and educate my eyes in the spirit of colours joy and modern design.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Beauty purchases from the Body Shop

There are a couple of skin care and beauty products I always purchase from Body Shop, mostly green-tea based but also some Vitamin D face spray - to be reviewed in a later post. However, I haven't tried too often their make up products. Celebrating the summer, I made myself a little different present: the smoky blue eye definer and the eye palette groowing gold.
I always loved the eye definer, but I mostly used the black one. This blue is decent, from the dark ultramarine family. It is very light - 1 gram only - and is provided also at the other end with a correction pencil. In the last month, I used it frequently, with good and stable results. After half of a busy day, the eye liner did not smashed and looks as fresh as it was in the morning. It also has the advantage that can be easily adapted to various circumstances, from casual to dating and evening glamour. 
Very often, I am using the pencil together with the eye palette colour choices. A good match and, for my makeup needs, a very fine combination. The colours are on the list of favourite in clothes too, but go well also with yellow or just black outfits. As in the case of the pencil, it is pretty adaptable and it lasts long. It brings a touch of discretion and elegance to the outfit and allowed me more than once to focus the weight of my look on the eyes. The box is provided with an eye colour brush which works very efficiently. Another advantage is that on the back of the box it offers a sample of makeup. To be honest, I've found the idea of applying the gold-yellow one at the corner of the eye as a very inspired one, as it gives width to the eye, especially if you have the almond shaped type as I do. 
In conclusion, both products were a good and long-time investment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Open the world to the children through recipes

Teaching children from an early age the love for food and for travel are some of the most important lessons for life. This book has the advantages of inspiring both, through carefully selected international recipes from all over the world.
The book is written in a very easy way, with clear directions and specific details that should be considered by the parent - the sous-chef. The dishes are authentic, the information is serious, and serious is also the way in which the little one are introduced into the world of differences: 'Some children may seat on the floor, others at table'. 
The recipes - selected from China, Thailand, Morocco, Mauritius, Italy, Spain, Finland, Canada, Mexico, Peru and Brazil - are created independently for children, and designed to serve two adults and two children. Each chapter opens with a nice map, explaining various historical or geographical specificities. The average preparation is around one hour. For safety reasons, the recipes are adapted for oven. Besides the interesting recipes, the result of careful selection - did you know that cardamom bread is a typical Finnish recipe? - it also has various advices about creating a pleasant ambiance while cooking, such as collaborating for the success of the recipe or the setting of a musical background during the preparation. 
I've found the book really charming and interesting, and can't wait to test some recipes with my son, in the next 3 plus years.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange of an honest review

Easy recipes: Stuffed mushrooms

The last year, because pregnant and very busy and with limited resources of any kind in general, I had a crush on stuffed mushrooms. For many reasons: easy to prepare, delicious especially when eaten cold, very cheap ingredients.
In a couple of minutes, everything is ready and you can even invite some friends to share with. You can eat them in the morning - if you and your work colleagues do not mind garlic or if you eliminate my favourite ingredient completely - but also for lunch or in the evening. 



The list of ingredients:
250 gr. of brown mushrooms - white mushrooms are also good
one bunch of fresh dill
250 gr. fresh yogourt or cottage cheese
100 gr. za'atar or dried oregano
one pinch of salt, on taste
5 garlic cloves, finelly chopped - this is again, de gustibus, given the concerns previously mentioned.

The directions:
Clean and emtpy the mushrooms
Fill it with the cheese or yogourt
Add the salt and garlic and zaatar
Adorn the entire composition with some dill

Put in the oven - 250C - for 5 minutes, in order to allow all the ingredients to get together well.

Let to rest and serve it, eventually accompanied by a tomatoes salad.



Parenting advice

Sometimes, when I am reading parenting books - not that often - I feel like I will never be able to cope with all the challenges of different ages and developments. I also got more scared than normally of various maladies and dangers and malformations that can just appear out of nowhere and never leave you. From a page to another you just feel that you need to go to check your little one again and again, and consider to schedule tomorrow first time in the morning a meeting with the pediatrician. Not funny at all, I know...
But there are also some advantages of reading parenting books: you can find good advice and smart inspiration and some systematic lists of things that you should consider in various situations. Prescription (RX) for Parenting was a good reading, not only because it is brief and uses many examples, but for the quality of the information and the practical advices. It has information addressing both the mother and the father, with advices for the single parent, and a rich collection of addresses - for the US readers - and websites aimed to help the reader to find the right person for the big problem.
Another target of the book is represented by the childcare workers, who are guided through their working challenges. 
I will focus a bit on the sections dedicated to the new moms, The pregnancy process, the birth, the post-birth adaptation, both at the psychologic and physical levels. Even though you may go through all stages smoothly - as it was my case - there is still a lot of pressure that will release when you want it less. Hence, the feeling of an ending - or the need to think that everything as you know it should just stop for good. What the author recommends is to take it easy, relax, not forget who you are, try to exercise daily, find a hobby and, very important, find a support system. The last aspect is particularly important in the case of single parents. 'Don't center all the day's activities around the children. Kids need to learn how to amuse themselves'. 
There is also important that the author outline the need of discipline and rules and the need to contact a specialist as fast as possible in case of various medical or psychological emergencies. I also appreciated that there is a small warning regarding the use of herbal medicine that can create various complications.
It is a book I strongly recommended to mothers and fathers and anyone with a baby project looking for daily practical inspiration.
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange of an honest review

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Beauty product review: Vinosource Moisturing Sorbet by Caudalie

One of the first and most important lessons my mother taught me about being a woman was to take care of my skin, as early in life as possible. Besides the good genetics, my clean and youngish looking skin is the result of years of intensive care and special protection, all round the year and the day. For instance, I never go to sleep without cleaning my face - either I had one of my many make-up free days. Another healthy habit I follow since my early teenage years is to use every day a skin care product, particularly in the morning. 
In the last two months, I had a new entry favourite product: Vinosource Moisturing Sorbet by Caudalie. I knew that wine, especially the red one, makes wonder to the body - if consummed in moderation, of course - but did not know too much about the benefits of wine-products for the skin. Caudalie uses grape-based ingredients in the composition of many of their products. In the case of the Moisturing Sorbet - 40 ml. - there is organic grapewater and vinolevure, which helpt the strengthening and moisturizing of the skin. It also gas chamomille extract, which calms and soothes. 
Although it is recommended for sensitive skin, it does good to the normal skin as mine too. I am using it in the morning, first thing after I wake up and it gives a long lasting freshness effect. In the case of my skin, it makes it feel velvet-like and matifies it. It is recommended to use it in the evening too. For an intense feeling of freshness, it is recommended to keep in in the fridge. 
I strongly recommend this product, especially if you are in your late 30s and you have a very active life, which also involves frequent trips and climate changes.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Stuffed shell pasta experiment

What I do when I am out of time and of cooking ideas? Usually, a pasta dish, with garlic, some za'atar and grated cheese - answers all the hungry needs in the house. It also can be done within minutes so...what are I am waiting for?
Somehow, I need to diversify my pasta knowledge and my experience with testing various flavours and ingredients. The shell pasta are my favourite playground, because I can stuff different ingredients and have an impressive number of choices for testing until I find the right combination.
As for the last testing, I tried the following fillings:
- avocado spread with dill and goat cheese - too heavy
- yellow paprika, a little bit grated, with corn - fresh for the summer. I have to add also some pinch of salt or some pepper for the taste
- brown champignongs finely chopped and fried, with garlic - acceptable
- goat cheese with dill and paprika - a good choice
Actually, the number of combinations is quite good, which makes the shell pasta a good choice for finger food and summer dinners, All you need is to have around 5 ingredients, and mix them creatively. And, of course, the pasta shells.