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Mid-season wardrobe therapy

“Chunky and cosy” no longer sounds as good as “light and summery” during this time of year. Time to get those blacks and grays out of my sight and bring out the summer dresses. But before packing my winter clothes away and taking out my summer ones, my aim for this summer is to get rid of a large chunk of my wardrobe, for peace of mind’s sake. I am donating some to friends, and the rest I will give to charity. I dream of a minimal wardrobe with only the things I love, and a little extra space for newly purchased clothes.

Getting rid of your clothes

When you’re in your teens you buy anything you fall in love with at first sight, whether it fits your body style and whether it is good or bad quality. It really doesn’t matter. As you start to reach your late twenties (like yours truly) you start to cringe at some of your purchases. I have been removing excess clothes year after year, but this year I want to outdo myself.

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You hear a lot of advice about how to throw away stuff from your wardrobe, but unfortunately you cannot stick to one equation. If you really love your clothes, you have a story attached to each and every one of them. You know the exact time and place where you got them, and even the places that you wore them to, so it can be difficult to get rid of them (unless you’ve never worn them!) Then there are emotional attachments such as clothes belonging to family members, vintage clothing, clothes bought from awesome holidays abroad etc.. etc.. Emotional clothing that you never wear should just be stored away in a box somewhere. These are memories, not practical clothes, so they’re only taking up space in your wardrobe. As for other clothes that have no emotional attachment, I usually store them away for a season, or more (if I really cannot depart from them). If I don’t miss them, I donate them. If I miss them (and so far, I never did) I bring them back to the wardrobe.

My mum told me recently, “Don’t buy any new clothes unless you remove an item you already have.” I actually think this is one the best advice I’ve heard with regards to throwing away old clothes, plus when I get the courage to remove something, I end up removing more than one, which is good of course.

This year I have accepted that certain clothes that won’t fit me now will have to go. If I lose weight, it’ll be an excuse to buy new clothes. I have also accepted that clothes that do not suit my shape, no matter how expensive or beautiful they are, will be given away to friends who have a more suitable body type. Plus it’s nice to see one’s unused clothes being loved and worn by someone else!

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My wardrobe mid-organisation.. still a long way to go

Organising

Prior to organising your wardrobe, make sure you have good storage boxes and good quality hangers (I like the wooden ones). It’s no use buying high quality clothes when you cannot take care of them properly. I usually treat my everyday / indoor clothes differently from the rest. Although I still fold them and store them neatly, I don’t like to show them off. I want to feel good when I look at my closet, so I want to look at my best clothes, not my crappy ones! A good idea is to put clothes that need fixing aside, this can be anything from missing buttons, broken zippers, even ironing.. and don’t hang them before they’re good to go.

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Beautiful storage boxes to store away the little things.

Organise your clothes by occasion rather than by shape and item. It makes choosing outfits easier when you’re in a hurry.

Decide what to hang and what to fold wisely. Items such as jeans for instance, are good for folding, so don’t waste any hanging space on them. Other items might need ironing if folded, and certain tops lose their shape when hung. You usually know what to hang and what to fold by the way they are displayed in the store, but this is not always the case, and with online shopping it’s a complete guess. Although common sense should tell you whether the clothing material will wrinkle quickly or not.

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The top drawer is great for organising accessories (although I still need to go through mine, sorting through accessories is another story altogether!) Bottom one is great for trousers that tend to crease, and delicate scarves.

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Got most of these sunglasses for around 50 Euro cents form a car boot sale, old luggage/box also from the car boot sale, and it seemed the perfect place to store these.

Decorating

Some people like to decorate their closet and wardrobe by hanging jewelry and scarves to make it more feminine and decorative. I would be very careful because this process is exactly like setting up a still life or designing a display. When you see these kinds of things on magazines, they are done by a professional, so if you’re the kind of person who is prone to clutter, just put it all away, save for an item or two.

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This is my decorative corner, where I keep a fresh water pearl necklace; a gift from my mum, some purfumes, a Man Ray postcard and a frame that I got from ‘Patches’ a local hand-made & vintage market.

I’ve read tons of articles about how to organise one’s wardrobe and the phrase I keep reading over and over again is ‘Keep what makes you happy, throw away the rest.’ I think this sums up everything nicely; if you find yourself being annoyed at certain items, put them away for a while. It will clear your wardrobe, and your mind 🙂

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Detoxifying Drink: Cleanse and detox your body with this delicious and easy to make juice

This juice does not only cleanse your body but it is also packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals.  A   perfect drink for the  warm coming days, due to its colour, freshness and sweet taste.  The carrots and grapes provide plenty of natural sweetness, which match perfectly with the mild  pungent taste of the celery and the  crisp scent of   parsley. When juicing your herbs, do not remove their individual stalks since they are full of flavour and nutrients.  We suggest that you drink this juice regularly to give your system a complete clean-out and to  keep  light and fit, so you can feel more comfortable in  your favourite summer dresses and swimsuit.  Serve this drink cold and decorate with some celery sticks (to stir). Sip it on a deckchair by the pool while enjoying the sun and a favourite book or a magazine.

To make 1 large or 2 small glasses

Ingredients 

1 celery stick

300g/11oz carrots

150g/50z green grapes

several large sprigs of parsley

celery or carrot sticks, to serve

Method 

1. Using a sharp knife, roughly chop the celery, carrots and grapes through a juicer, then add the parsley sprigs. Add the remaining celery, carrots and grapes in the same way and juice until thoroughly combined.

2. Pour into one or two glasses and serve with celery or carrot stick stirrers.

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Enjoy other juices and smoothies recipes in this book: Juicing smoothies & blended drinks by Suzannah Olivier and Joanna Farrow

Other related links: http://my.blackmores.com.au/fitness-nutrition/detox-juices.html

http://www.thekitchn.com/5-healthy-juice-recipes-to-kickstart-your-new-year-182093

Festa Frawli : A Feast of Strawberries!

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Sunday 14th April was a very special day, not in the sense that it was anyone’s birthday or anniversary, but special in the way that it attracts a great deal of locals, and no wonder!

Festa Frawli (translated into Strawberry Feast) is literally a feast dedicated to one of everyone’s favourite fruits. During this day long celebration one can find all sorts of things made from strawberries, including ice cream, jams, cakes, and weirdly even sushi! There was also a stall selling candles and bath soaps made from strawberries, which is a refreshing different product from the abundance of food.

My only disappointment is that I could not find the delicious strawberry wine I love.

Delicious strawberry ravioli

Delicious strawberry ravioli

I had to try the ravioli with some strawberry sorbet

I had to try the ravioli with some strawberry sorbet

Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

Strawberry soaps and candles

Strawberry soaps and candles

Strawberry memorabilia

Strawberry memorabilia

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Food Journal: Quinoa, Prawns and Mexican Salad

The first time I tried quinoa I was quite impressed with its flavour and also its versatility with various dishes. Today was my second try and I started by looking at Food Gawker ‘s mexican salads for inspiration. I started seeing beans, peppers, corn, quinoa.. hmm something was brewing in my head. At one point I saw prawns in one of the recipes and that’s when I knew I could do something with these ingredients.. Here’s some pan fried prawns cooked in garlic and paprika, served with quinoa and a mexican salad. It tastes amazing.. and it’s also super healthy 🙂 (Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

Bag of frozen headless prawns

1 cup quinoa

3 medium tomatoes

3 small green peppers

Can of corn

Can of red kidney beans

2 cloves of garlic

bunch of parsley

1 lemon

1 1/2 tablespoons paprika

butter / sunflower oil

Parsley-flavoured white cheese (replace with feta cheese if you wish)

2 eggs (optional)

Method:

Cook the quina by putting 1 cup of quinoa in a small saucepan, add 2 cups water.. bring it to a boil, lower the heat & cover for 15 minutes. Then turn off the hob and leave to set (covered) for 5 minutes.

In the meantime put the headless prawns in a bowl with cold water to defrost (unless they have defrosted already) this should take between 30 mins – 1 hour.. change the water every now and then when it becomes too cold.

In a salad bowl mix together: chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, chopped parsley and a squeeze from half a lemon. Season as needed.

Fry 2 cloves of garlic in butter / oil, then add prawns & sprinkle with paprika.

In the meantime, serve the quinoa on the plates, and in the same saucepan cook the eggs until hardboiled (if you wish to serve eggs).

Leave the rest of the lemon on the plates so one can add more lemon juice if they wish.

Finally sprinkle white cheese/ feta cheese on your mexican salad and you’re done!

Enjoy 🙂

BODY DIY: Boost your metabolism with natural remedies – Part 1

In this post  I want to share with you some natural remedies that helped me to lose weight and keep healthy throughout the years. Today (part 1 of this post) we are going to discuss chili peper and ginger, both very particular in taste and both very helpful  during cold winters (since they can boost our Immune system). They can make our  dishes and drinks heartier and less boring.  Ginger can also serve as a home-made remedy for cold and flu, by adding it to warm water with  lemon and Hanukkah honey.

Chili: 

Spicing up your food does not only make your meals more adventurous but also gives you a lot of benefits.  Spices like chili are thought to raise the  metabolism by up to 50 % for up to three hours after eating; since it increases the heart rate. I enjoy chillies in everything (most of the time fresh); in savouries, chocolate and also herbal teas.  If you are not  adventurous with hot spices you can start introducing them slowly to some of your favourite meals. You will build your tolerance gradually and you will begin to appreciate its versatility and gain the benefits. If you have tried and you really  can`t take the heat and your body can`t  handle it you should go for other natural remedies.

http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/calories/burning_calories/boost_metabolism.htm

“Eating chillies can have a very positive impact on people that are overweight or suffer from diabetes, say a team of researchers at The University of Tasmania, whose research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in July 2006”

http://www.chilli-willy.com/chilli-health-benefits/

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My own chili plant:)

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Illustration by one of the world’s first scientific illustrators (and entomologists!), Maria Sibylla Merian
http://www.goplaymagazine.com/

Ginger: 

One of my long time daily rituals is starting my day with a cup of  warm water with lemon and ginger (peeled  and grated). I suggest that you drink this delicious warm drink early in the  morning on an empty stomach.  This will help the bowel move regularly and it will serve as a tonic, thus it is easier to lose weight and avoid having a bloated stomach. Ginger also heals many digestion problems, it is  ideal for people who are going through chemotherapy, due to the fact that it  helps relieve nausea and heartburn. 

“Researchers found that participants who consumed ginger displayed greater levels of thermogenesis — the warming effect of energy produced by metabolising food in the body — and reported lower levels of hunger. While calling for further scientific studies on the topic, the researchers cautiously concluded that ginger could prove to be a helpful tool in managing and losing weight.”

http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/can-ginger-metabolism-5086.html

You can also use ginger in cooking both in savoury and sweet recipes.

We will be discussing other remedies in the upcoming BODY DIY post. Watch out:)

 

Food Journal: Sweet Potato, Mushrooms & Pancetta

I had one of those days when I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to cook. I was tired, so I didn’t want to make something that would take ages, I was also in the mood for some comfort food. At the green grocer’s I spotted sweet potato. I had pancetta and mushrooms at home… I was getting some ideas 🙂 After a google search on how to pan fry potatoes, I found a couple of recipes that suggest frying them in butter and brown sugar. This sounded a bit too much, especially when some recipes recommended 2 cups of brown sugar. I only added 1 teaspoon with mine, the potatoes are sweet enough!

This recipe serves 2, and here’s what you need:

1 large sweet potato

chopped pancetta (for 2)

Around 6 large mushrooms

1 medium onion

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

2 Eggs

Dried Rosemary

Salt & Pepper

Method:

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add roughly chopped sweet potatoes (do not leave whole otherwise it will take longer to cook through).

In the meantime, start cooking onion and mushrooms in a bit of butter.

Once a fork can easily go through the potatoes, remove from the pot, chop into smaller chunks and add to the onion & pancetta mixture.

Add a teaspoon of brown sugar on top of the potatoes, give it a stir, then add the pancetta, salt and pepper.

Cook the mixture on medium heat until the pancetta is done.

When it’s cooked through, serve with a fried runny egg on top and grated Parmigiano. You could also serve this with toasted baguette or any sort of bread but it’s filling enough on its own.

I also love to plate these kinds of comfort foods in small terracotta dishes 🙂

Quinoa and Chicken Salad

The other day at work I saw someone eating what looked like barley / oats. I’m always curious when it comes to food so I asked what this type of ‘barley’ was. “Quinoa, it’s a super food, it’ s really healthy” was the answer. Quinoa! Of course! I had seen a video of one of my favorite directors (David Lynch) where he was cooking quinoa and raving about how good it was, but I never gave it a second thought.

Now I was intrigued. My colleague described quinoa as “Like couscous, but nuttier”. So quinoa is what’s on the menu for today, amongst other delicious ingredients of course. For this week’s journal I’m bringing you a super awesome superfood recipe! I’m ashamed to say that this is the first time I have tried quinoa, perhaps because it was never a common food in my mediterranean upbringing. There are limitless ingredients that you can add to quinoa. I wanted mine to be healthy, and low in carbs, here’s what I came up with:

Quinoa & Chicken salad (serves 4)

Ingredients:

A Bag of fresh spinach

Chickpeas (add as desired)

Can of corn

4 chicken breasts

Mushrooms (add as desired)

2 cloves garlic

1 spring onion

Bunch of parsley

A few slices of Prosciutto or Parma ham

Parmeggiano reggiano for grating

Method:

Cook the fresh spinach in a little bit of water (only fill about 1 inch or less of the saucepan) and a bit of salt

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In the meantime cook the quinoa.. ( Click here for a really good recipe for cooking fluffy quinoa, easy peasy 🙂 )

If you’re too lazy to click outside the article, basically you need to toast it for a few seconds in a bit of olive oil, then add water. For each cup of quinoa, add 2 cups of water (1/2 cup is enough for two people) Cook for 15 minutes on low heat, covered. Turn off the heat and let it set for a further 5 minutes (still covered). Fluff with fork and it’s ready to eat!

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Ok in the meantime, roughly chop the chicken & mushrooms.

Cook onion and garlic in olive oil, when browned add chicken and mushrooms.

When the chicken is cooked, add parsley, corn and chickpeas.

Season with salt and pepper.

There’s quite a lot of ingredients in this dish, and trick is to layer them nicely. I suggest first stirring the quinoa into your chicken mixture. Serve this on the plate first, add the spinach, layer the prosciutto (don’t flatten it if you want a dramatic effect 😉 ) Finish off with parmeggiano shavings.

That’s it! Enjoy your delicious, healthy quinoa and chicken salad (that will leave you feeling full & no bloated stomachs) 🙂

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Home-made Protein Bars

Protein bars are ideal for a hectic and busy lifestyle and they can be eaten as a healthy snack before or after exercise (approx 1 and a half hour before). However some of the ready to buy bars are not always very tasteful (artificial taste) and  they are quite pricey.  They are candy in disguise;  full of sugars and preservatives and artificial colouring.  Some of these bars contain low quality ingredients such as soy protein isolate, high fructose corn syrup/solids (55% made in laboratory) and trans-fats.

Learn how to make healthy delicious protein bars by following our  recipe which I borrowed from my friend and  professional fitness instructor Alice Galea.  I have tried them myself and I promise you that they taste super delicious; like eating  cake or  pudding but healthier 🙂 These bars contain fibers, protein, natural sugars and other beneficial vitamins.

Ingredients:

8 apples (chopped with skin)
8 pears (chopped with skin)
3 mashed bananas
1 litre egg whites (you can use whole eggs instead but you will be adding much more calories , use 6-8 eggs)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 teaspoons almond essence
15 scoops (3 full mugs) vanilla whey protein powder
200g to 400g  nuts ( any kind)
200g  rolled oats (Quaker oats)
3 teaspoons Cinnamon

Optional Ingredients:  WARNING:) the more ingredients you add the more calories you will be adding

You can add peanut butter, dates, coconut flour or shredded coconut, sultana, dried fruit, concentrated apple juice

You can also add cocoa powder to make it more chocolatey (very similar to a traditional /pudding/pudina)

Original recipe makes 30 to 35 bars (depending on the cutting size)

Method: 

Put the fruit in a blender or chop manually  (do not totally puree)

Stir in  all the other ingredients with the chopped fruit

Pre heat oven on 180° for 7 mins before and bake in a shallow dish for 25-30 mins , the shallower the dish the less time it takes to set and bake

Leave it to cool , cut it into portions , wrap in cling film and freeze

This can be a complete meal , you can eat it for breakfast , lunch or dinner (or before and after exercise/ approx 1 and a half hour before). Bon appetit:) Eat well and Stay healthy.

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4 Inspirational Books to get you going

For our journal this week we’re bringing you three books and a magazine that are sure to get you up and going, whether it is to create your own business, start your own blog or live a happier life. These reads have been tried and tested by yours truly, and one of them was actually what pushed us to start this blog! Enjoy 🙂 and feel free to add more to the list in the comments!

booksLinks: Crush it  The Happiness Project  and the author’s blog  The Simple Things  Blog Inc

My Eight Legged Love

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my dog and how much I pamper her. What most people don’t know is that sometimes twice the legs is just as lovable, and hence my undying love for tarantulas.

Really and truly I have a deep fascination with a lot of arthropods, including phasmids as well. Phasmids are a family of insects which can grow quite large. More commonly they are called stick insects. However arachnids are my favourites, not only because they can have amazing colouration and interesting habits, but also because one can learn so much from them.

I get a lot of weird looks about my tarantulas, but I believe it is only because there are a lot of misconceptions about the creatures. For example, while ALL tarantulas are poisonous, they are not dangerous to humans and a bite is not strong enough to kill anyone. In fact, no one has ever died from a tarantula bite. This does not mean that you won’t have to handle a couple of hours of pain though. The fact that they are not deadly, unlike how many people perceive them, is probably one of the main reasons why they became so popular in the exotic pet trade.

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Tarantulas are divided into two sections, old world and new world. Old being from Asia, Australia and Africa, while new being from the South America. The old world ones have a more potent bite, however those from the new world can kick the so called urticating hair on their abdomen, causing itching. There is also another division, terrestrial tarantulas, those who are ground dwelling, and arboreal, those who live in trees.

They are often very hairy, which in my opinion makes them look really cute. They are able to spin webs like the common spiders, however for completely different purposes. While the spider makes it to trap its food, a tarantula makes its web to cover her borrow, or to produce hammock like structures to rest on. Another major difference is that while a spider’s average lifespan is two years, a tarantula can live up to 25 years.

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There are several reasons why tarantulas make perfect pets. First of all they do not need a large amount of space, they do not make any sound, maintenance is minimal, and they don’t smell. This makes them perfect for apartment living, especially for anyone who doesn’t have the time to go for long walks, or hates cleaning after their pet. They don’t need you to play with them, and they won’t require company. They won’t even raise you electricity bill as they do not need specific lighting, just a simple low wattage heat mat. And as an extra bonus, if you need to go on holiday you don’t need to worry about their feeding, as they can fast for months without any effect on their health.

Even though a lot of people are terrified of spiders, I do know of arachnophobes whose heart was stolen by a tarantula.

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