Saturday, 26 November 2011

Saturday morning fun

About two months ago I injured my left hand. I've been ignoring it for a while thinking it will pass and heal by itself. I try to avoid taking medication, but after a long time of pain, tossing and turning at night, I finally visited an orthopedic doctor... and now I'm on medication. No yoga for me, just a few exercises that will eventually help it heal. My doctor ordered rest, rest and rest. Yeah, right! With two kids and tons of housework I really don't know how I'll manage to relax. OK, so I've decided to take a break, at least for today. Kids are fed, they've taken their morning dose of nutrients and vitamins and I've reluctantly placed them in front of a TV. Why do I feel so bad about it? Why do we mothers always feel so guilty about everything? No, no, I deserve to have some fun today, to write and introspect on my feelings, on creating and life in general.
I've stumbled upon something interesting on one of my favorite blogs Pink of Perfection. Sarah, its lovely creator and writer, posted this fun exercise from her "Creativity Boot Camp" class. I think it's a fun thing to do on a Saturday morning. Don't you? Grab a pen and peace of paper and write your answers! It shouldn't involve lots of thinking, just listen to your heart. So, here we go:
  1. Write ten things you love.
  2. Write five things you would do if you knew you wouldn’t fail.
  3. Write five alternative lives you would like to live other than your own.
  4. Write four tiny things you can do in the life you have to bring you closer to those imagined lives.

Now, imagine an older, wiser version of yourself who has some advice to share.

  1. What do you need to know?
  2. What do you need to embrace?
  3. What do you need to do?
  4. What do you need to grieve?
  5. What do you need to celebrate?
Write ten things you love.

1) a good black coffee in the morning, 2) trying out a new recipe I'm excited about, 3) being silly and laughing with my hubby, 4) wearing dresses, 5) when people compliment my food, 6) watching wonderful movies, 7) flipping through a glossy cookbook, 8) watching Nigella Lawson cook, 9) peace and quiet , 10) dancing to the song I love.

Write five things you would do if you knew you wouldn’t fail.

1) open a charming pastry/coffee shop, 2) write a book, 3) move to another city, 4) start driving a car, 5) have another baby.

Write five alternative lives you would like to live other than your own.

1) baker, 2) psychologist, 3) writer in a woman's magazine, 4) someone's muse, 5) 1920's flapper .(this one is completely unrealistic, but I couldn't resist!)

Write four tiny things you can do in the life you have to bring you closer to those imagined lives.

4. 1) apply for culinary school, 2) go back to University, 3) write more, 4)hang out with creative people, 5) get a time machine.

Advice part is quite hard. I don't feel wise enough to answer those questions, but I'll try:

1. You need to know that everything is going to be OK.

2. You need to embrace yourself and welcome change.

3. You need to stop worrying so much.

4. You need to grieve your hurtful past. Grieving, not being angry.

5. You need to celebrate the life you've created for yourself.

Wow, this was fun! What an eye-opener! I wish you all a fabulous weekend.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

A lot of cooking

I've been cooking a lot these days. This is my way of dealing with stress. It helps me think, it clears my head even though a kitchen is a mess. It's not the eating that relaxes me, it's the actual process of cooking; carefully selecting and buying ingredients, preparing them, chopping, stirring, grating, pouring, whisking: all these things give me immense pleasure. Cooking makes me happy. Feeding others has become a necessity, a self-expression, not to mention the fact that I feel absolutely marvelous and content when people compliment my food. On a bad day, I even feel that it's the only thing I'm good at. It actually means that cooking has become a certainty, one thing that doesn't change, a comforting act.

What was I cooking (mostly baking) and feeding people with? Oh, my, here we go...:

~ Carrot cake from the cookbook Breakfast, Lunch, Tea (Phaidon, $29.95) (which is arriving to my mailbox very, very soon) is a number one seller at Rose Bakery in Paris. It was a winner when I baked it. My friend Sophie still gushes over it which is her way of telling me that I should bake another one, ASAP. Although I can't visit this famous bakery I can at least fill my home with its fragrances and imagine myself sipping my tea and gazing at all those chic Parisian people. This cake is so rich and luscious that I barely contained myself from eating it all up by myself. I gained a pound just by looking at it, but it was worth it!

~ This doesn't involve any cooking and it's dangerously addictive. Such a winning combination! No fuss, 100 % enjoyment. Don't blame me afterwards, I have warned you. Pretzel & Nut Mix is considered a Holiday snack, but such limitation is really unnecessary. I make these whenever we have friends over. Life is too short to wait for Christmas to make these.

~ I don't like elaborate cooking, baking especially. I don't have the time nor the patience. Try baking a fancy cake with two little kids (and a husband) around the house. Yes, it's tricky and stressful. So, totally by chance, I've discovered this lovely and beautiful chef, Lorraine Pascal ( I love her name) and her cooking show "Baking made easy". Sun-dried tomato and rosemary palmiers are wonderfully flavorful and easy. My guests loved them. These are especially great while still warm with a glass of beer. So ladylike.

~ Nigella's Pasta with meatballs in tomato sauce is a staple in our home. Kids love it. Since there is a wide range of good quality store bought pasta in every supermarket, I don't bother with making it from scratch.

~ Greek bean soup- Fasolada is a simple soup full of all those things that are good for you. It's either this, lentil or chickpea soup that I make once a week.

~ Imam Baildi- eggplants stuffed with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Now, this is a time-consuming dish, quite difficult for some, but it's well worth the time and effort. My favorite vegetarian dish.

~ Mustard pork chops
didn't wow me, but still, it's very easy and tasteful. I'm just not a big fan of pork chops and mustard, for that matter.

~ I am cooking Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon tonight for my father-in-law who's coming tomorrow to visit us. This dish is best served the day after it is prepared since all the wonderful flavors will have fused into each other. The weather isn't cool enough for cooking stews yet, but as I said before- life is too short anyway.

No, this blog is not going to turn into one of those cooking and food blogs. There are so many other things in this world to share.

À bientôt...

(image from pinterest)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

"She spends most of her time alone..."

Apart from being absolutely charming, positive, uplifting and fairytale-like, the movie "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain" has the most amazing soundtrack ever, you must agree. "Comptine d'un autre été: L’après-midi" is my favorite track. Although it's quite melancholic, it is very appealing, like a gentle summer breeze. It translates to "Nursery Rhyme of Another Summer: The Afternoon". Oh, and it sounds delightful in English, as well. Well, here's the video which caught my attention on youtube. It got me at : "She spends most of her time alone...". I was mesmerized by its sadness, enigma and warmth. There's really no need to mention the amount of respect I have for this peace of music, its creator and

artist's virtuosity. Enjoy!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Drawn to the Moon

Ever since I've read Anais Nin's book " A spy in the house of love" many years ago, I've been slightly mesmerized with an idea of moon-baths. I was never a big fan of sun-bathing, although I have a great appreciation for a warm, sunny day at the beach. Nothing beats gazing at the full moon on a clear star-filled night sky, swimming in the sea while the moonlight is being reflected on it. Afterwards, you lay on the still warm sand with moon-rays caressing and illuminating your body. It's such a wonderful experience, different, unusual.
There is something mystical about the full moon, something dark and beautiful.It is linked to crazy behavior and lunatics, to the occult and esoteric, but for me it represents abundance of creative energy, sensuality, emotions, unconscious mind, beautiful dreams, nocturnal life...

Here is my favorite excerpt from the above mentioned book which I often read and enjoy, over and over again... on full moons:

Tonight she remembered the moon-baths, as if this had marked the beginning of her life instead of the parents, school, birthplace. As if they had determined the course of her life rather the inheritance or imitation of the parents. In the moon-baths perhaps, lay the secret motivation of her acts.
At sixteen Sabina took moon-baths, first of all, because everyone else took sun-baths, and second, she admitted, because she had been told it was dangerous. The effect of moon-baths was unknown, but it was intimated that it might be the opposite of the sun's effect.
The first she exposed herself she was frightened. What would the consequence be? There were many taboos against gazing at the moon, many old legends about the evil effects of falling asleep in moonlight. She knew that the insane found the full moon acutely disturbing, that some of them regressed to animal habits of howling at the moon. She knew that in astrology the moon ruled the night life of the unconscious, invisible to consciousness.
But then she had always preferred the night to the day.
Moonlight fell directly over her bed in the summer. She lay naked in it for hours before falling asleep, wondering what its rays would do to her skin, her hair, her eyes, and then deeper to her feelings.
By this ritual it seemed to her that skin acquired a different glow, a night glow, an artificial luminousness which showed the fullest effulgence only at night, in artificial light. People noticed it and asked her what was happening. Some suggested she was using drugs.
It accentuated her love of mystery. She meditated on this planet which kept a half to itself in darkness. She felt related to it because it was the planet of lovers.
In watching the moon she acquired the certainty of the expansion of time by depth of emotion, range and infinite multiplicity of experience.
It was this flame which begun to burn in her, in her eyes and skin, like a secret fever, and her mother looked at her in anger and said: 'You look like a consumptive.' The flame of accelerated living by fever glowed in her and drew people to her as the lights of night life drew passers-by out of the darkness of empty streets.

" Whereas the Sun gives us our spirit, it's the Moon which gives us our soul."

(images from pinterest and pricerunner. Excerpt from the book "A spy in the house of love" by Anais Nin, Penguin, quote from Jamie Walker)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Things you can do when you are healthy

I've neglected my little blog, mostly because I've been more concentrated on working on the other one which is in my mother tongue. Anyway, I've been down with the terrible stomach flu these last 6 days and I must admit that it has been awful, but it made me think. I can't remember the last time I was this sick. It really puts some things in different perspective. I miss my everyday life and all these things that I usually complain about. I mean, I miss it all! Everything seems so wonderfully luxurious and fun now that I am weak, in pain, feeling dizzy and nauseous: cleaning the house, changing diapers, throwing out the garbage. I really, really wish I am well enough to even do all of these things! I haven't been eating nor drinking for days. Yes, it sound a bit silly, but somehow I've become more aware of how wonderful my daily routine really is. I miss:

~ cooking and baking.~

~ going out to shop for fresh bread, milk and fruit.~

~ going to the beach, swimming and taking pictures of the sunset.~

~ eating watermelon.~

~ fixing my hair and putting on my perfume.~

~ having my morning coffee.~

~ kissing my hubby.~

~ drinking a glass of cold water.~

~ reading blogs and being at awe of how wonderfully creative some people are.~

~ having friends over for dinner.~

~ taking the kids out for strawberry sorbet.~

I really hope I will feel better tomorrow. All those simple things I took for granted are waiting for me. I even promised myself that I will try not to complain as much as I do and that I will show a bit more patience towards my children. My little stomach flu made me think about all those people who struggle with serious illnesses and diseases- things far more difficult and painful than what I am going through right now. I am blessed and truly thankful.

(photo from pinterest)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Japan, I love you

I am devastated for the people of Japan. It's horrible and I can't imagine what they are going through right now. I met a lot of wonderful people from Japan years ago in Paris. Thanks to them I fell in love with their food, kindness,culture, mannerism, politeness, efficiency, creativity and one of my dreams is to visit Japan one day. We had lots of fun together visiting Japanese restaurants, cooking for each other, we laughed, oh, we laughed a lot! They loved my sense of humor and came up with a nickname for me: " la comédienne". When I heard the news about the earthquake and that terrible tsunami I wondered whether my friends were safe. Luckily, they are fine. Houses, fabrics and roads can be built, but so many lives are lost forever that it breaks my heart. I believe in goodness and humanity, I believe that positive thoughts and prayers are much more powerful than earthquakes and tsunamis, I believe that we should all cherish every day spent in good health with our loved ones, I believe we are all citizens of the world, brothers and sisters no matter how many oceans, mountains and miles divide us. We are in this together...let us send our thoughts and prayers to all those lost in this tragic event.

Friday, 11 March 2011

I heart kitchens

It's been very cold these days which is quite unusual for this part of Greece. When the weather is chilly I love to potter around the kitchen, cook stews, hearty soups and bake various breads. It warms up my body as well as my soul. I love to cook and anything related to it grabs my attention whether it's cookbooks, cooking shows, cookware, appliances, oh and kitchens! I love them! The heart of a home is the kitchen, you must agree. That's where all the magic happens, really. You see, I have this thing for them, it's quite strange and weird- I like to take a peek into people's kitchens. If everything is too tidy and in order then I assume that not much goes on there. I just gush over hanging pots and skillets, steam coming from a teapot sitting on the stove, colorful spices and herbs, vine bottles waiting on the kitchen counter, mugs stained with coffee or tea, cake leftovers, shabby plate racks over the sink, colorful napkins and aprons.*sigh*
Generic, lifeless and cold kitchens do nothing for me. I love to look at those that are a bit shabby, full of stories, fragrance and history. A kitchen that oozes warmth, friendship, love and coziness- that's what's beautiful to me. Sophie Dahl wrote this delightful book that I keep going back to time and time again. She writes in this wonderfully lyrical, fairytalish kinda way that's absolutely charming. Her recipes are delicious, very easy to pull off, and the way she talks about food is mouthwatering. Here's my favorite excerpt from her book "Miss Dahl's voluptuous delights":
'This kitchen is a gentle relaxed one, where a punishing, guilt-inducing attitude towards food will not be tolerated. In this kitchen we appreciate the restorative powers of chocolate. The kitchen would have a fireplace, and possibly a few dogs from Battersea Dogs' Home curled up next to it. There might be a small upright piano by the window, with an orchid that doesn't wither as soon as I look at it. On long summer days, the doors to this kitchen are thrown open, while a few lazy, non-stinging bees mosey by. Children stir. When it rains, there is room in this kitchen for reading and spoon finding its way into the cake mix. Serious cups of tea are drunk here; idle gossip occurs, balance and humour prevail. It's the kitchen of my grandparents', but with some Bowie thrown in. It is lingering breakfasts, it is friends with babies on their knees, it is goodbye on a Sunday with the promise of more. This kitchen is where life occurs; jumbled, messy and delicious.'
Here are some kitchen photos that I find lovely:

(Amy in her kitchen, Rachel Khoo from The little Paris kitchen)

(I am obviously totally smitten by Rachel)

I love the ambiance in these two.

Gotta go and pop the bread into the oven...ah, life is good. ♥

Friday, 4 March 2011

Morning rituals

I personally find it very interesting to know how people from various parts of the world live; how they start their day, what do they eat, what do they wear, what entertains them...No matter how different we are, we are still all the same. This new Nanako Koyama's project every morning slightly quenches my curiosity. Photographs capture morning rituals of young people from Japan, Portugal, Poland, Germany. I wish she made more pictures, though. Morning is my favorite time of day. I love when everything bathes in its soft, early light. Mornings are a new promise, another chance given to us to love, enjoy, give and create. I start it off with a coffee, my favorite digestive cookies, oatmeal with fruit and nuts or toast and butter. How about you?