Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Reasons for Walking Barefoot in the Grass

Now, that the summer is almost over, I have one more regret: I haven't walked enough barefoot in the grass this year. With a garden at my disposal around the year, there was always something keeping me from taking off my shoes and starting to walk in the freshly cut grass. 
Although I grew up in a wild and free environment, in time, my process of becoming a well behaved adult involved keeping my feet covered all round the day. Which was not necessarily what I felt I have to do, but, you know, growing up has a price. 
But good natural impulses eventually overcome the artificial enviroment I created for my feet, and this summer, for the first time in a long time, I spent hours walking freely around without shoes. And felt so good.
I am walking a lot - according to my Samsung Health monitoring, more than 10,000 steps the day - and at the end of the day, my feet often feel tired and a bit swallowed too. This sensation of heaviness is going out in just a couple of minutes of walking barefoot, as one of the many benefits of this habit is increasing the blood circulation and strengthening the body. According to scientific researches, walking barefoot also reduces blood pressure, creates a greater body balance and helps having a better walking posture. There are some disadvantages too, as for instance, getting dirty feet or risking some piece of glass or wood piercing your soles, but if you are walking in a forest such risks are usually minimal.
As for me, I am trying as much as possible to find at least one hour the day for keeping my feet free, walking barefoot and enjoying the pleasant sensation of my feet touching the ground. 

My Experience with Lip Patch by Isana Young

Sometimes you just have a look a bit scary - at least for a while - before looking better. It goes with the Korean masks - when my son first saw me wearing them he was in a shock - or the lip patch. Actually, the lip patch offers visually the Halloween-kind of fun, as it only has the enormous lips shape covering more than half of the face. In the last months, I've read reviews about them and was interested to have my own experience about them. At the beginning of the summer I purchased one bag from Rossmann, produced by ISANA Young and tried it a couple of weeks later. 
If you ignore your own appearance during the 20 minutes requested for applying the patch, the results are impressive. As I suffer once in a while because of dry lips, I am trying to keep them hydrated, in addition to drinking as much water as possible, especially in the summer. 
ISANA Young Lip Patch are suited for every skin type, and were created for Rossmann, at a very convenient price. Actually, ISANA is a good brand if you are looking for toileteries such as shower gel, at very affordable prices, recommended particularly if you travel, for instance. My lips were not only hydrated, but the patch had peeling effects too. The pinky jelly patch contains a liquid which is working outside and inside the lips, eliminating the dead cells and hydrating in-depth. One day after I used them, the lips are still looking and feeling fresh and with a velvet texture.
I didn't experience any allergic reaction, except a bit of itchy and burn, the usual sensation in case of peeling masks, meaning that something good is really going on with and on your skin.  
I personally recommend this product to anyone looking to have normal and healthy looking lips. Although the one I tried is a limited edition, I might look for similar products by other brands.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Useful Tips to Deal with Your Baby Tantrum

As I am writing this, my cute almost 2-year old baby just finished a small tantrum session. It is early in the morning and somehow, in the middle of what I was expecting to be a very quiet and soothening early beginning of the day, his screams filled the space. True, it was too good and peaceful to be true. 
Somehow, in the last 12 years, I got used with those aggressive raw outbursts of energy. They can last between 10 minutes and one full hour, with the latter case being not only ear-deafening for everyone which unfortunatelly happens to be around, but a very shaking experience for the baby too. I am personally used to work and live and find my peace in the middle of the noziest ambiance, so no wonder that once in a while I am also able to finish some complicated articles or just do my usual chores when the baby is screaming from the top of his lungs. 
Whatever I was trying to do at the beginning, was deemed to fail. He had his own screaming program and any intervention on my side only seemed to complicated a situation already too sounding. However, with a bit of inspiration and a little bit of professional help, I learned how to cope with them and I am ready to share some of my tips with my readers.

- Tantrums do not need to happen every day - thanks Gd - at the same time. It can be so for a while, but once the baby is growing up, they will most likely take place only once in a while. What my family therapist told me is that such outbursts are normal and part of the growing process. The baby started his life in the comfort of the mother's belly and now he is facing a new world with the challenges of independence, the first milestone being the independent walking. Indeed, growing up literally and psychologically hurts.
- In my case, I noticed that my baby is usually unhappy when I am not 100% focused on him. Which sounds selfish, but especially in case of single parenthood it makes a lot of sense. As I am working from home, I decided to diminish my working time during his active hours and do instead a lot of early morning, late evening work. I know, it sounds very complicated, but you might discover how easily we can adapt to various adverse situations. Right now, I am trying to do my work, while taking a break every 15 minutes or so, just to show him some little signs of attention. It goes smoothier.
- When you realize that it is too much and maybe you are at the limit of your nerves, close your eyes and count until 10 or as much as you need to calm down. It is very important that the baby doesn't feel your nervosity. Screaming when he screams or any other aggressive reaction only makes things worse. 
- Try to talk with him on a low, calm voice: show him that you understand what he is going through, hug him tight and bring him some water. However, at the end of the tantrum crisis, he and only he, the baby king will decide to stop when. 
- Asking for help is not a shame. If you feel overwhelmed and at the end of your powers - especially when you are the only parent taking care of the kid, this is a feeling you experience quite often - ask a therapist or a friend for help and advice. It is always important to know you are not alone and share your experience with other parents going through the same situation or at least having been through that stage of the baby life. 

Good luck! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Beauty Review: Rival de Loop Beauty Capsules

I previously reviewed beauty capsules and I was relatively excited about the results and concept. It is a minimal time investment, the prices are modest too and the results more than satisfactory. 
The last week, I tried a new product, the beauty capsules by Rival de Loop, the beauty brand of the giant German drugstore chain Rossmann. I was always happy with their products and some of them are really recommended for long term use. 
The Perfect Teint Beauty Capsules can be used for one week, one capsule for every day of the week. I did it early in the morning, before applying make-up, and waiting around 15 minutes until doing it. The results were, although for medium-term, meaning until the next use, more than satisfactory. The skin was looking shining, relaxed and tonified, therefore I might consider to continue the treatment as it is a perfect win-win situation. I particularly loved the matified effect on the skin, which feels so silky.
The liquid contained in the capsules is enough for covering the face and the neck. I recommend to apply it on a clean skin. It works for any kind of skin type. The main ingredients are argan oil - one of my favorite beauty ingredients - and ginger extract, a substance which is relatively less known for its benefic effects on skin, besides the medical use. Ginger has 40 antioxidant compounds, which make it a perfect anti-aging remedy. It also contributed to remove the toxins, stimulating the circulation and therefore improving the skin elasticity.
I full recommend Rival de Loop Beatuy Capsules, which deserves a long lasting place in my beauty closet. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Beauty Product Review: Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel by Benefit

The 'brows bar' by Benefit at Galeries Lafayette in Berlin
By nature I have think, full, dark eyebrows, that need at least every two weeks some special shaping intervention. Until my late 20s, I refused to do anything with them, just left them wild and dark, followed by a period when I made them so thin that I had to use a special pencil to fill them back. 
This unhappy brows period lasted until I discovered Anastasia Soare and her magic addictive kits. I am happy with everything she is creating for brows that I never cared about other products invading the market. My kit has everything: the make-up powder suited to my original brows colour, the perfect tweezers - both in terms of design and ease to use them efficiently - and the gel which I use at least once the day. I haven't look for or need anything else for years...
A couple of days ago though, I had the chance to try the brow volumizing fiber gel from the US-based company Benefit. The company has a long list of products for brows, but you shall buy them one by one. They have a special design and are sold in colourful packages with pin-up girls on the box. 
I tested the brow volumizing fiber gel for a full week, applying on the brows early in the morning. Waterproof, it lasts the whole day and can be applied easily, thanks to the fine and efficient brush. You just need to stroke the brush tip along the brow to define shape and eventually, if there is enough material to play with, to try to shape and build it. Usually, I am using a special gel which shapes the brow, preferably after I apply the make-up, and it has the advantage of maintaining the brow well defined for the rest of the day. The Benefit gel is rather a mascara and it helps especially those thin light colour brows, as it helps to better define the brows. However, if you are from the gang of 'big dark brows' it doesn't make such a big difference, except some fine definition, which is just fine. What I really loved was the fine brush and how easily you can use it on the brow length.
Despite those observations, I recommend the brow volumizing fiber gel, proferably in combination with another one of their many brows products. They are high quality, a good costs-benefits balance and do have a cute design. 

Time to Switch to the Autumn Routine

Spring and summer are my favorite seasons of the year. Starting with the beginnig of March, I feel an air of change and optimism into my life that keeps me company until late September. It is that time of the year when I sleep with the window open, and I love to wake up a little bit late as I spent the evening outdoors, under the carpet of shining stars.
Unfortunately, since moving to Germany, I had to get used with rather cold summer days, coping with unexpected and undesirable rains. I am more than happy with my life here and I easily accomodated with the bureaucracy and even the language, but ten years into my journey and I am still experiencing heartache when I see how a beautiful summer day is ruined by heavy winds and cold rains. However, I realized that little by little I am getting used with the temperatures and there are the ones I used to love - hot 40C summer days - aren't pleasant any more. The last winter I was even able to survive without complaining every singly day that the temperatures don't allow me to leave the house. Sometimes, we need to realize that we are in fact more adaptable then we might think we are. 
In time, I've learned the lessons of different season and short days, which start in September for a long amount of months. I wanted to learn how to better manage my long winters time, because my aim is to make the best of my short life, and following a strict schedule is part of my daily life plan. In the last days, with lower temperatures welcoming me in the morning, and an always earlier hour to start the dark hours, I realize that I should also change something in my daily routine.
Therefore, here are my plans for the next 3 months or so:
- Waking up early, preferably around 6.45 to be able to finish my writing assignments, preferably before the baby wakes up. I realized that I always feel better energized when I have written and published my posts in the morning so, it is a good incentive to have a positive outlook of the day.
- More focus on home cooking, also because I feel that in the summer the temptation is rather to eat out and I still have a lot of cooking and backing skills to improve.
- Keep up with my minimum 60 minutes of walking every day, preferably in the first half of the day or shortly after 14.00.
- Spending at least one hour the day social networking. As a stay-at-home, single freelancing mother, such activities are very important to balance the weight of home-bonding. 
- Spending the evening reading and updating social media channels.
- Never forget that I have to learn each day something new, either improving and learning a new language, or new skills, or writing a challenging book review, or cooking something new, or tasting a new food or ingredient. The list is infinite and it is one of my favorite challenge so far.

I also set up a list of very interesting posts coming up on the blog, so stay tunned for a lot of autumn and winter awesomeness coming up!

Until then,
Happy holidays!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Innovation by Neutrogena: Anti-Acne Light Therapy Mask

Given my interest for creative beauty and skin care products and ideas, I couldn't miss this innovative mask by Neutrogena. Delivered in big drugstore chains in Germany such as Rossmann, and available for around 46 EUR., this product is aimed at reducing the acne. Affecting women at different ages, but especially teenagers, acne creates negative effects on self-perception, social relationship, job search and professional achievements in general or dating. 
The product was created based on tests with 52 participants, presenting various degrees of acne, that used the product for 10 minutes the day, for 12 weeks. That amount of time is recommended for using the mask too. It operates with both blue and red light, therefore there is a double weapon against acne: the blue light is fighting the bacteria producing acne, while the red one reduces the infections. The mask doesn't have chemical elements and do not produce ultraviolet rays. The first effects are visible after one week of regular use. 

The package contains a face mask, looking as a Japanese fask mask, with only space for the eyes left, and an activator, which allows using the mask 30 times. After that, a new product should be purchased. 
The steps for daily integrating the mask into your regular skin care routine are as follows:
- clean the face with face cleaning products and dry the skin
- activate the mask
- put the mask on the face and relax for 10 minutes, while the rays are operating on your skin. 
Overall, it looks as an interesting - and high-tech looking solution - which can improve your fight against acne, most probably together with a proper dermatologist supervision and an adequate nutrition.

Photo credit:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Savoury and sweet puff pastry

I have a love and hate relationship with the puff pastry. I do love to have, and even to prepare my own, but I am always disappointed by my clumsiness when it comes to shaping it. True is that I haven't searched too many examples of professional puff pastry arrangements, and in this case obviously my imagination and creativity are largely limited. Otherwise, in all situations, the results were satisfactory taste-wise.
Trying to cope with my mom challenges under the pressure of the heat wave, puff pastry - both savoury and sweet - was the shortest way to happiness on my table.
In both cases, I used the REWE ready-made puff pastry (Blätterteig), of 275 gr.
As the results were encouraging - despite the aesthetical mishapes - I promised myself to try as soon as possible some famous Apfelstrudel. Because, you know, I can.

Savoury puff pastry

The filling is the biggest challenge for a puff pastry. It is what gives actually shape and content to the entire dough construction. For the savoury filling, I used the following ingredients:
- 7 small white champignons, minced
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of za'atar
- 150 gr. Ricotta cheese
- 50 gr. shredded Bulgarian cheese

The egg helps to bring together smoothly all the ingredients. Mix them well until you have a paste.
 You need another beaten egg for covering the dough when everything is ready to be brought to the oven.
I added the filling just in the middle, with the sides being cut in ribbons that are knitted all over the surface. I sprinkled the black sesame and get everything ready to stay in the oven, heated at 250C.

After around 15 minutes, everything is ready for a crunch, or two.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
Serves: 5

Sweet puff pastry

- 250 canned mango, sliced
- 150 gr. mascarpone cheese
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup white sugar

Mix all the ingredients well.
 As in the previous case, I placed the filling in the middle and clumsily played with the sides of the dough, not so artistically, but enough to contain properly the middle. I also sprinkled some sugar on the top, after the egg was smeared all over.
Placed on a parchement paper, I put it in the oven, heated at 250C and after 15 minutes, this crispy golden beauty was ready to be tasted, preferably accompanied by some mint tea. I definitely fell in love with the final sweetness of the filling, and the special notes given by the sugar.

Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

5 Reasons to Love Wall Stickers

My renovation project which I started in the first half of this year and still needs some final touches to be finished, not only taught me a lot of things about proper house management, but also introduced me to many interesting materials and interior design ideas. One of them is the wall stickers, which I actually introduced into my life much earlier, when started to decorate the room of my son. 
Since then, I extended their use also for the kitchen and the bathroom and the more I get to know them the more I love the idea. Therefore, this blog post aimed at outlining (at least) 5 reasons why to love wall stickers.
No.1Easy to Apply Most of the renovation project involved acquiring new skills, especially when it comes to painting. And also new clothes, to be used only when I am supposed to paint. In the case of wall stickers, all you need is to take them out of their roll and apply on the wall. As simple as that. No traces, no dirt, no headaches.
No.2 - Affordable investment I acquired my wall stickers from various places, including Bauhaus and online dedicated shops and every time the investment was definitely within my budget. Given the fact that I can take them out any time and eventually change them with something different, it is really worth any single cent.
No.3 - Funny Especially for active children like my son, the wall stickers are such a fantastic way to learn, while making life more colourful.
No. 4-Covering unwanted flaws You have a wall with various aesthetic issues - such as small holes or traces of dirty hands or...who knows what ? A cute little wall sticker can keep you covered until you have enough money and/or time to set up the issue professionally.
No. 5 Flexible interior design solution - Are you about to leave your flat and you will always regret your beautiful decorated corner? A wall sticker exactly like the one you used to have once will bring back the home feeling and all the good memories. 

What about you? What are your best tips about using wall stickers?

Meet Your Matcha

My love story with green tea and matcha started almost 10 years ago, after spending one full year in Japan and trying to find my way through the local cuisine. I left with a lot of new tastes and eating habits which I proudly carry with me until now. 
However, my matcha dates started a bit later, a couple of years ago when the powerful green powder entered the bars and coffee places of the Western world. 
This beautifully illustrated book with 50 'irresistible recipes' by food writer Joanna Farrow brings on your table a big variety of recipes, including savoury ones, which for me was a big novelty, as up to now I was only considering matcha for a sweet match.
The book is simply written, with easy directions and affordable recipes, both in terms of prices of the ingredients - except the matcha prices which are always high but you don't use more than 1-2 tbsp. for more recipes - suiting the beginner and middle-level chef. 
The ingredients are also healthy, without using too much oil and sugar. The construction of the recipes use a feature outlined by the author, according to which the original matcha flavour can be enhanced based on the ingredients it is paired with. Therefore, it is possible, for instance, to suggest a recipe of matcha soft cheese and smoked salmon open sandwiches, or chicken noodles with matcha dumplings, or even matcha mayo. 
This book is an interesting matcha journey which if you such a lover of this extraordinary ingredient, you would love to revisit over and over again.

Rating: 5 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Teriyaki recipes to fall in love with

One of my duties as a human and blogger is to learn every day something new: discover a new city, read a new book, put on trial some new cooking skills...I start the day with a smile thinking about how many fantastic lessons are waiting for me. Inspired by my more exprienced foodie friends, I tried last week to experiment with teriyaki sauce, an ingredient which I usually loved at my favorite Asian restaurants but never used it in my own chicken.
The following recipes are the results of some interesting experiments, plus some lessons learned from some failures - which are a source of inspiration too. For my experiments I've used Amoy sauce, which I was repeatedly told it is a good healthy choice.
Salmon with pasta and carrots
250 gr. salmon, defrosted
2 medium sized carrots
150 gr. pasta
4 tablespoon teriyaki sauce

Boil the carrots. When ready, cut them into little pieces.
Boil the pasta, in water with a pinch of salt.
Fry gently the salmon, at 250C. When ready, cut it into small cubes.
In a pan, boil the teriyaki sauce for about 5 minutes before adding the salmon and pasta, and the carrots. Mix them well to have them covered by the teriyaki.

Serves: 2
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Sidenote: It was my first ever teriyaki sauce and had no idea what to expect. The result was delicious, with a full taste but, maybe a bit too sweet for my taste. If you want to balance the sweetness of teriyaki, add some ginger sauce, 1/4 teaspoon, preferably.

Udon noodles with salmon
1 package udon noodles (here is a short historical note about udon noodles)
150 gr. salmon
2 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
3 gr. ginger
1 tablespoon black sesame

Boil water and soak the udon noodles for around 7 minutes.
In a pan in the oven heated at 250C, fry the salmon. When ready, cut it into small cubes.
In a pan, heat the teriyaki sauce with the ginger for about 5 minutes. Add the salmon and mix well, and continue with the udon noodles, and keep mixing for another couple of minutes, until all the ingredients are getting the brown colour of the sauce.
Sprinkle the black sesame.

Serves: 2
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Others ways I've used teriyaki

I haven't tried yet the rice with teriyaki, although I do have in my pantry closet at least 3 different packages of rice, but as usual, I am very cautious and not ready to fail with this ingredient. Otherwise, I added a teaspoon of teriyaki in my omelette, without the ginger, and it was delicious - I haven't used any other ingredient, not even za'atar.
A little failure was when I used it for some canned thuna. I just tried to roast the thuna in the pan with boiling teriyaki, but the taste wasn't good. Most probably it was a problem with the fish.

Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

My Perfume Recommendations for this Summer

Long time no perfume recommendations, but until the summer is over - if ever started, and I am especially talking for the rainy Berlin - here I am with my latest fragrances' discovery. The testing took place at the famous KaDeWe store. 

Izia newly launched by Sisley this year is delivered not only in an elegant bottle, but has a exquisite bouquet of fragrances. The predominant note is rose, to which were added musk, citrus and amber. It has a fresh note, but the rose adds some lascivious, exotic and mysterious notes. It matches a floral, summer dress, recommended for the holidays or for a first or second date. 
What I really love about Verveine, by L'Occitane en Provence is the very joyous and relatively unique fragrance of citrus. It suits the dynamic sport and casual kind of woman and it matches your bag for any kind of summer adventure and outfits. The main fragrance is complimented perfectly by herbal and spicy additions, which only multiply the principal element.

A new entry by the house of Guerlain, Mon Guerlain is an emotional perfume. It is delicate yet dream-like, elegant but moodie, joyous but shy. It might be the strong vanilla fragrance, or just the whole combination, a mixture of fresh spices, herbs or various aromas. I dare to say it is not for everyone, and it suits special occasions, such as a date, a night out at the club or maybe an afternoon tea or lunch in an elegant, preferably British, institution of taste. I also like the elegance of the bottle.

Added to the collection of Poisons by Christian Dior, Poison Girl is a complicated perfume. It includes a special bouquet which includes, among others, Sicilian bitter orange, vanilla, Damascus rose, almond, tonka beans, sandalwood. As all the other Poisons, I will better not wear this in the office or for the morning errands, but preferably instead for a date, an elegant lunch or castle reception! 

Rôses Berberanza was launched this year by Lancome and although it is not very sophisticated it has a rich rose fragrance, which is overwhelming. The additional sweet notes are spices and pistachio too. It might not suit anyone, but when it does, it easily match any occasion and time of the day or outfit. 

Photos: via

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Eat your (udon) noodles

Every time I visit the Asian store close to my house, and I have a look at the noodles counter, I am going through a cultural shock: hundreds of bags of dried noodles, in more or less appealing plastic bags, covering practically every single item produced all over the continent. Little by little, I am trying to make my homeworks and better understand their texture and histories, and there is a tremendous work ahead. 
As I am about to finish an interesting post about my latest Asian-inspired combinations, my focus today is on the delicious white wheat udon noodles. Originally from Southern Japan - if you are interesting in an intellectual travel journey into the cuisine of Japan, I strongly recommend Super Sushi Ramen Express by Michael Booth - those apparently simple noodles entered the European restaurants and won over our foodie hearts. From movies to udon bars, a cult is in the making. However, on the productive end of the udon histories there is a fine special work, which involves a careful preparation of the dough, taught to both Japanese and curious Europeans in special schools in Japan.
Compared to other types of noodles, udon is usually delivered in simple plastic small bags, where the noodles are embracing together in a complicated labyrinth. You need to soak them for a couple of minutes in hot water until the noodles are fred. Besides the strong wheat taste, udon are unflavored and it is an art of the cook to find the proper ingredients to season them properly. 
They can be eaten either chilled down - especially during the hot humid summer months - or served hot. The classical combination for the hot dish is a mildy flavoured broth - kakejiru - made of dashi (a soup and cooking stock), soy sauce and mirin. Some more elaborated variants is to use the mentsuyu dipping sauce - made of sake, mirin, soy sauce, kombu, and katsubushi - poured over the hot noodles. This combination is frequently used for the soba noodles too. Other adornements to the udon can be: fresh ginger, wasabi, black sesame seeds.
To be eaten with strong slurping sounds. Yes, it is allowed, even recommended.