Saturday, December 29, 2018

My Skincare Routine for December

With a bit of more creative time on my sleeves and motivation, I was finally able this December to get back into my skincare routine, not only by using at least every week a new mask, but also with a regular, disciplined program that helped my skin to get back its natural glow and healthy aspect.
My investment was not significant - not for now, at least - and included skincare products available in the usual Rossmann and DM drugstore (less than 50 euro for all the products). They last more than a months therefore it is more than a great deal and you did it for your own beauty and health.

Twice the day, I am using the Garnier SkinActive: It has basically the same concentration of the face mask that I've used and reviewed a couple of years ago, but has a different consistency and the effects are instant. With a high concentration of the precious pomegranate, the antioxidant water-cream moisturizer offers within minutes the necessary hydration of the skin. I use it a couple of minutes after waking up and shortly after removing my make-up. After one day during which often my skin is exposed to various pollution factor and stress, this cream gives a healthy shining and makes me feel perfectly in my skin.
Another cream of the three that I am using three times the day is L'Oréal Anti-Wrinkles Expert. Recommended to be used in the morning and in the evening, it is suited for the 35+ women. The 50 ml. bottle is heavy, with a discrete smell and has a high concentration of collagen which brings back the dynamism and the skin elasticity. To be applied in the morning and in the evening, with circular moves helping to put into motion the blood circulation. 
Last but not least, my latest discovery is Nivea Hyaluron Cellular Filler. Used once the day, usually after the second cream is applied on the skin - with a break of around 10 minutes, to leave it work properly on the skin. Odorless and oily, it makes it also as a good makeup basis, but I would rather recommend to wait at least 30 minutes after applying. It helps to regenerate the cells and conferes to the skin not only shining, but also volume, as it efficiently counters the dead cells and the wrinkles. I am using it only once the day and it is enough. 
Overall, a very good daily experience, and only after 10 days, the concentrated effects of all those creams are pleasantly visible on my skin. 
As for the products I am using during the week, stay tunned for another post, hopefully soon!

My Asian Noodles Bowl

I wish I can call this bowl of noodles more specifically - like Japanese, or Chinese, or Singapore or Korean...- but unfortunatelly, I've built up everything with my European mind, by using a variety of ingredients that probably covers the entire Asian continent - while adding some flavors suited for the Western Europe palate as well.
As a big lover of Asian food, I always dreamed to build up my own bowl of noodles, using a variety of ingredients and creating that umami effect that calls you back over and over again. 
In setting up this bowl, I've used for the first time in my life lotus roots. I bought mine as frozen and sliced and therefore, boiled it before serving. Rich in nutrients and assigned health benefits such as reducing stress and improving blood circulation, it can be consumed either boiled - although a bit tasteless - deep or stir fried. Right now, I am trying it in various variants thus wait for a coming post fully dedicated to this versatile Asian food that can be so smoothly integrated into local recipes.

2 big slices of lotus roots halved
1 small egg boiled at 5 minutes
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon black sesame
3 shiitake mushrooms
1 portion of dried potato noodles
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon black sesame
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Boil the egg for 5 minutes and halve it. 
In a pan warmed at 250C, add the sesame oil, 1 tablespoon black sesame and the shiitake mushrooms. Fry them on all sides for around 10 minutes.
Add around 250 ml. hot water on the noodles and, if the case, add the seasoning.
Add to the bowl the lotus roots, the egg, the sesame seeds, the soy sauce and the shiitake. Mix it a couple of times.
Serve it warm.

Serves: 1

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Bon Appétit!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

4 Useful Tips for an Efficient Homeworking Experience

In the last 10 years, most of my working time was spent at home. Working from your home office, especially when you have children, allows you a certain flexibility and the possibility of being there - at least as a physical presence - but on the other hand it might be a frustrating experience. How many sunny spring and summer days - such a commodity in Germany - I've spent working non-stop, fighting hard with deadlines? How many weekends were a sacrifice on the altar of hard work - and not always enough money - waiting for some editor to announce me if the article sent couple of days ago is really fine? As I do operate on a different holidays schedule than most of the world, when other people are enjoying their vacation during the winter holidays time, I am always hard working and this might be difficult also when it comes to making a common program with a partner or friends as well.
However, I personally find this kind of work rewarding, as it gives me also the chance to work with a diversity of people and personalities, being involved in many different complex projects allowing me to use at their best my personal and professional skills.
For all those freelancers working from home that, like me, are sometimes having some hard time being stuck at home for such a long time, here are my 4 tips for a better working from home experience. Those tips I've tried more than once myself and found always an experience good enough to recommend it to my readers too.

1. Break your working time into short breaks 

The most important thing you have to have in mind as a freelancer is to be organised. As organised as possible. I usually have a tight schedule for the week, day and sometimes, even hour by hour. I set up my schedule at the beginning of the week - which, for me, starts on Sunday, sure that I can cover properly all the hourly rates of my projects. I do have separate Excel sheets for each of my projects, that I update instantly after receiving or finishing a work task. 
Being organised means also that I am trying to give myself some breaks between projects. Either you are using the Pomodoro technique or not, those breaks are very important for recharging, relaxing while getting ready for a new start.
I do not have a given amount of time put aside for the breaks, but usually it is around 5 minutes and 30 minutes. It might be enough to check your other emails, your WhatsApp, call a friend or just haev a coffee or prepare your lunch.

2. A little bit of sport movements every day

I am guilty for not spending enough time exercising, one of the many reasons being that I am simply out of time. I have to wake up early for work, finish the first batch around 8am when I have to prepare my son for the kindergarten and after that, continue with more work, business appointments or some house chores that I prefer to do it when I am on my own. After 15.00 o'clock, the rest of the day is spent again together with my son so no way to go out for one hour to practice. After all, my day is already packed with action therefore, why should I pay for some fitness studio?
However, I am terribly missing my gym time, especially after a couple of hours tied to my chair working in the front of the computer. 
As usual, I've found a solution that relatively makes me happy for the time being: using at least two of the work breaks for a bit of stretching, various movements and other practical physical exercises that might give you physical power to succeed through the rest of the busy day. As for now, I am looking to set up a couple of useful practices and tips, so watch this space a bit later for more tips and inspiration.

3. At least one hour of walking every day

Since breaking into smartphones, one of the few apps that I am checking every day - besides WhatsApp - is SamsungHealth, as it records automatically the number of steps that I set up as a goal every day. As for now, I am modestly aiming at 10,000 steps the day, but usually during the weekend and while on various trips, I am hiting much farther. As this number of steps can be easily achieved within one hour of walking, I am trying to use as much as possible my outdoors time for achieving this goal.
Regardless of the weather conditions and of how much work I have to do, one hour of walking relaxes me - especially when I walk in the middle of the nature or through a forest. 
Don't try to cheat. You cannot decide to stay one day at home while considering to spend 2 hours outdoors the next one. Every day counts and when once in a while - usually maximum twice the year - I am simply stuck at home and cannot enjoy the fresh air, I feel bad both physically and mentally. Moving means your body is put into motion and this motion compensate the extra energy vacuumed by the intellectual activity.
Obviously, you need both a healthy mind and a healthy body.

4. Don't neglect your social life

You might say: a busy single mother life, an active child, a lot of activities and business ideas to be developped, when can you meet other people than your potential business partners? Although I may feel overwhelmed and I am a bit neglecting my dating life, getting in touch with my friends and having a certain - although limited - social life is important for my overall success. It can be a playdate, or just a short coffee with a date, or a visit at an exhibition or at your local library. Connecting with people, getting familiar with something different than your line of work might be a relaxing yet inspiring experience. Catching up with friends might not always be possible in person, but using your break time for calling a friend to ask him or her how he or she feels, helping someone in need are healthy social life experiences that you should not ignore and give them a given place into your everyday life activities.

What about you, what are your tips for an efficient homeworking experience?

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Cauliflower Cheesy Nugets

Yesterday I've mentioned an useful book with ideas and explanations about healthy foods for children. Today, I couldn't wait to prepare one of the few recipes shared in the book, although, as usual, with a personal touch and by using my favorite ingredients: cauliflower cheesy nugets.


1 medium-size cauliflower, shredded TIP: It goes very easy and fast to shred floret by floret. 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic power - I would have preferred the fresh garlic, but the recipe indicated otherwise therefore I tried to keep it in line with it.
3 medium-size eggs, beaten
150 gr. yellow cheese shredded. The original recipe indicated Parmesan and it was definitely a much better and finer version
300 gr. matzo flour The original recipe indicated crumbs and regula flour but I love the hard texture of the matzo flour much better. 
1/2 cup oil or more for frying


Warm the oil in the pan at 250C least 10 minutes before starting the cooking. Add the ingredients, one by one, and mix well. It is very important to have them equally distributed as it allows a good, balanced taste. With wet hands, take some mixture and roll it by hand. Add it to the hot oil and turn it on the sides. Let it rest on some parchement paper to absorb the extra oil. 
I would personally add some more spices as well, and also even more cheese. As it is a meal a bit too oily than the average, I served it with some fresh slices of tomatoes. Some avocado is a good match as well.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 18 small cauliflower nugets

Cheesy Spicy Latkes

I've finally convinced myself to cook this Hanukkah, although in a completely diet-mood. However, once I ordered my first sufganyot from Benedict Berlin, I instantly switched to the holidays mood and succeeded to create even a new latkes recipe that I am happy to share it now. Although the holidays are long over, you can eat those latkes on other occasions too, as it makes it a good companion to regular meals all round the year. 

18 small potatoes peeled
2 small onions shredded
3 medium-size eggs beaten
1 cup matzo flour
1 cup shredded Emmentaler or yellow Cheddar shredded cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Ras El Hanout, from Spice Kitchen UK, received as their Brand Ambassador
1 big cup of oil for frying
1 small carrot to keep it in the frying pan in order to avoid the sticky burning of latkes (it is a traditional tip among Jewish food bloggers and it works)
5 tablespoons of plain yogurt for serving


Mix the potatoes with the spices, eggs, cheese and matzo flour until you have a compact mixture. Warm the oil in the pan at least 10 minutes before starting the cooking. Make by hand a small ball of latkes and add it to the frying pan. Turn it on both sides until perfectly cooked.
Put each latkes on both sides on a napkin in order to absorb the extra oil.
Serve it warm, accompanied with a fresh cold plain yogurt topping.

Preparation time
15 minutes

Cooking time
45-50 minutes

Serves: 15 small latkes

Bon Appétit!

Spicy Potato Waffles with Chicken

If you are following this blog, you might know that I am not only a big fan of waffles, but was brave enough to gather all my knowledge from the last one year and a half and share it in a book. However, as usually, once my book was ready, I felt like there are way too many recipes missing from the book and took the challenge to move forward with even more ideas - probably to be included in the book at a later date.
During the Hanukkah holidays, I tried besides the classical latkes, to experience something completely different - a good slice of potato waffles. Although the final result depends at a great extent of the machine you are using - in my case it was a kind of disappointment, as my relatively affordable one did not stand up the expectations - the taste is always top and it offers a very interesting experience in combination with meath.
Easy to make, unforgettable flavor and a very fulfilling meal. That's how I love my waffles!

6 big potatoes peeled
3 medium-size eggs beaten
1 cup matza flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Ras El Hanout spices from Spice Kitchen UK, as their Brand Ambassador
1 generous cup of oil for frying

Mix the potatoes with the eggs, matza flour and spices, until you have a compact mix. Warm the waffle machine, while smearing generously oil on both sides. A pan spray that will avoid sticking is also recommended. Pour the quantity for one waffle in the machine and wait until the green button indicates it is ready.
Add the slices of chicken on the top and your lunch is ready!

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30-45 minutes, depending on the machine

Serves: 6

Bon Appétit!

With Christiane Amanpour about Sex&Love Around the World

During my years as a journalist, I've enviously followed Christiane Amanpour for her top reports from all over the world's turmoils and her incisive questionning of the international leaders. A couple of days back, I've discovered that the CNN award-winning journalist made at the beginning of this year an interesting documentary about Sex&Love Around the World, and as for the next 12 months I want - among others - to focus more on relationships, I watched it in one sit on Netflix.
Covering Japan, India, China, Ghana, Lebanon and Berlin, the 40-minutes episodes are directly inquiring about relationships and sexual habits - or in some cases, the complete lack of it - the new and old perceptions on intimacy and sexuality. The areas covered are relatively less known outside their world and I was completely surprise to discover through the CNN lenses a completely other image of Lebanon that I ever imagined - I portrayed it as a liberal oasis, but it looked even more than that, outlining the lack of inhibitions among the non-religious youth and their struggle to keep sane in a society of extremes. As I lived for one year in Japan, I am more or less familiar with the relative coldness/sexless life typical for the Japanese couples, while China is a completely new area that regardless how much I read and discover about, remains a big mystery. I personally been a bit disappointed by Berlin, as it rather focused on the weird, respectively the new challenges brought by new immigrants from conservative environments, and the touch of the political journalist was stronger than the lifestyle curiosity.
Despite some shorcomings, I've found fascinated the open minded perspective and the genuine curiosity of asking and answering about intimate questions, the ways in which new generations are questioning the traditional insensitive ways of approaching life, love and relationships of the previous generations. The lack of emotional communication within couples, the coldness and men-focused cultures are - hopefully - living their last decades, as a new type of sensitivity and gender identification and openness is starting to make history. The times have changed and so the people, and there are new sensitivities and human needs that are becoming important, as well as individuals more keen to express their needs and requests than before.
Although the certain cultural and historical perspectives, the cases featured do have an universal character and outline the universal need for love, intimacy and communication. An useful documentary to watch during this festive season because you might learn a lot about yourself and your own needs as well.

Friday, December 21, 2018

101 Healthiest Foods for Kids

'Never stop trying. Yout kids (and their health) are worth it'.
Sally Kuzemchak writes from the double position as a parent and nutritionist, introducing more or less known - like jicama, for example, foods (101, to be exact) that are recommended for children - but for adults too. The book consists of short presentations, accompanied by pictures and some pearls of wisdom based on scientific facts versus various common - and not necessarily reliable - information. 
Although personally I would have expected a little bit more recipes, preferably a bit complex too, the book is relatively easy to read, packed with important details about each food - veggies, fruits, grains and other foods such as eggs, honey or milk - and some simple photography. It covers a big range of issues, including various diseases, intolerances and allergies, as well as latest certified trends in the field of nutrition. Although it is basically aimed at parents by offering a variety of suggestions and information about a big list of foods, the information is equally useful for the adult preoccupied by a healthier lifestyle and menu. I liked that there are no exagerations and extreme opinions, pseudo-science and myths, but purely explanations, facts and once in a while a recipe too (at least one caught my eyes and would love to test it hopefully soon).

Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Spicy Cauliflower with Black Sesame

Cauliflower is such an easy match for a variety of flavors, especially spices, allowing the culinary imagination to easily fly away. My experience - although limited - is that you rarely can get it wrong with cauliflower, such a versatile vegetable which keeps a good and healthy company to heavy meals. I've tried this recipe during the Hanukka holidays, when everything is filled with oil and was in desperate need of some healthy side dish. 

1 medium-sized cauliflower, with separated florets
1 teaspoon za'atar
1 teaspoon Berbere spices, received part of Spice Kitchen UK Brand Ambassador Program
1 teaspoon black sesame
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Warm the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking. On a sheet pan, smear the florets with olive oil - preferably on both sides, then add the various spices and the salt, also on both sides. Let it bake while turning from a part to another every 10 minutes. When ready, add the black sesame and mix it a couple of times.

Cooking time
30 minutes

Preparation time
10 minutes

It makes it a good side dish for both meaty and diary menus. Especially for the latkes, it was my favorite companion. You can also serve it as an entrée, together with a fresh salad - cherry tomatoes with cucumber, with or without oil. The Berbere spices are giving to the meal such a heavy consistency that it changes completely the otherwise bland cauliflower flavor. 

Bon Appétit!