Monday, September 28, 2015

The Most Wonderful Smell In The World

Being a parent may be one of the most challenging jobs you'll ever do but don't you worry! Nature has got you covered!! There's always a reward: baby smell! Haha! all right, there's also, hugs, kisses, cuddles, smiles and loads of cuteness.

What's your favorite scent from nature? The smell of rain, leaves, roses, jasmines? All those are delightful, but mine is the smell of my kids.

Not the one right after a shower, which is delicious and clean. (On a second thought, that one too.) 

To me, nothing beats their characteristic smell whenever I hug them or kiss them. The one they have naturally is heaven on earth. At this stage, I call it "the angels scent". Not baby smell anymore, because they are now 11 and 9! So, you see, I don't have much time to figure out how I can bottle said scent. In a few years from now it will be definitely gone...Let me know if you know how!

I try to embrace the present moment, but whenever I hug them or kiss them, I always say to my kids: "I'm going to keep this lovely smell and keep it in a jar!"

Their responses are sometimes hilarious, and range from a simple grin (a polite way of saying "mom, you've said that a million times now") to figuring out how I would go about and do that!! 

Do you say this to your kids? If you don't have kids what's your favorite smell? Would love to know...sniff!

P.S. Parenting styles, a mother refuses to be classified and An old school trick to give parents a break from homework. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Have a Great Weekend.

Two events happened this week that are interconnected. The main agenda for both was: working for global "common good".

The first one was, fellow Argentinian, Pope Francis visiting the U.S. Whether you are Catholic, or not, I'd love to share his speech in Congress, because it was a very universal one. Have you watched it? He spoke of liberty, common good and ecology, so passionately, that made the little catholic girl in me come to life! Ha! 

The other event was the UN Sustainable Development Summit, and its Sustainable Development Goals for 2015.

In short, and in the words of Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, this is why we should care about these goals.

"If all of the world's people lived like people in the developed countries do, then we would need three or four different globes to support the demand in terms of natural resources. So, sustainability is the word for the whole world."

Have you heard about these news? 

You may like: More links for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Creamy Soup With A Story Behind It

Many years ago, we went to the countryside and spent the weekend at an old English residence. It was one of those idyllic/magical places with fireplaces in every room, wooden floors, and immense dinning rooms and living rooms. It had beautiful gardens with gorgeous flowers to admire, horses ready to be ridden, and the best cook! 

She made the most delicious soup the night we arrived. It was wintertime and we were all hungry after a rather long trip. When I went into the kitchen to thank her for such a warming and heavenly soup, she told me how to make it. I was amazed by how easy it was to prepare! 

Now that I have kids I recreate this creamy soup once every two to three weeks and they love it. 

You'll need

Broth. I make it with lots of tasty vegetables (one onion, corn, carrots, parsley, potato, sweet potato, half a squash, scallions, leek, red meat, salt and pepper) This picture on my Instagram illustrates the broth making...just add water!

1 big Squash. Steamed. You can use any kind: the one on the picture above or Japanese Squash, like the one below, which I used yesterday and turned out to be delicious as well.

One tip 

I, more often than not, have broth in the freezer to be used in last minute risottos or soups. I use my biggest cooking pot to make it in advance, put it in 2 or 3 containers, and store them in the freezer, ready for later consumption.

How to make it
  • Make a puree out of your steamed squash by adding salt and 1/2 tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Whatever you prefer. You can also make it with half a cup of cooking cream or even simply salt and pepper and if you, like me, love nutmeg, go ahead and sprinkle some too.   
  • Add puree to the broth and blend it all in with one of those hand held food processors. 
The result is this absolutely delicious and creamy soup. It really is a special one. Try it! and let me know?

What's your favorite soup?

P.S. Picky Eaters Approved: Veggie terrine and Savory Fish Pudding for Picky Eaters! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Favorite No-Bake Birthday Cake

This past Monday it was my eldest son's Birthday. He is 11 now! I was worried about this while making it, but luckily, everything worked out fine.

This cake is the one my kids have asked for their birthdays ever since they were able to speak! It's my favorite too. The thing is, I have a weakness, and it involves cookies. I love cookies. I know, it's not the most healthy of cakes. That is why, we only make it when birthdays come.

You'll see how easy it is to make and if you go ahead and try it, you'll want to make it for your own Birthday.

You'll need:
  • Chocolate cookies: about 36 ounces of chocolate cookies (or more)
  • Dulce de leche : Get a kilo to be safe.
  • Yogurt or Whipped Cream: about 20 ounces
  • Strong coffee or warm chocolate milk to dip cookies, depending on your taste. If it is for kids I would go for the warm chocolate milk. If it's for adults I would dip them in coffee!!

How to make it:

Start by estimating how many cookies will fit your dish.

Dip them in chocolate milk for about a minute.

Notice how I arranged the cookies lengthwise. Next layer has to be placed horizontally, so that the cake can resist many layers. 

Now, mix dulce de leche with yogurt or cream, your choice.

Spread the dulce de leche mixture and then put previously soaked cookies on top.

If cookies don't fit quite right, simply cut pieces to fill in the gaps. It'll all be covered by the spread so, no need for perfection seeking here.

This is how it turned out. This one had 4 layers of cookies. As you can see it is very rudimentary but so delicious! You can adhere chocolate sticks to the edges, or m&m's, or simply nothing. 

These are the square portions...

So here it is, the reason why there's never cake leftover after my kids' birthdays. Absolutely everybody loves this chocolate cookie no-bake cake around here!

Have you ever made a cake like this? I'm curious to know!

You may like: How to make Palmiers and Healthy Blueberry Muffins Recipe.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My Beauty Dilemma

A few years ago, I had a conversation with a friend about beauty and self care that, for a while, changed the way I saw beauty.

My kids were babies back then, and I felt like I didn't have enough time available to assign to the "beauty department". I wish I did though, but I didn't. If you are a mom, you know exactly what I mean, if not, let me just say that I considered myself lucky whenever I was able to take a shower!

That day, I told my friend that I needed to go to the hair salon, get a manicure, pay more attention to my wardrobe and the way I dressed. Her reply stuck with me through the years. She said: "Yeah, I used to be frivolous and shallow before too. I'm not anymore."

I didn't answer back but thought about it for a long, long time. I didn't like, at all, what she had said, she actually hurt my feelings! I was bruised! A friend is supposed to encourage you, help you, be there for you, right? 

I had never thought of beauty and beauty related things as simple frivolous stuff. I associated the concept more to self care and having a good time while doing so. I had always enjoyed it because it made such a positive effect on how I felt. I considered it more like a fun thing to do, an outlet that helped me relax and simply have fun. Yes, a fun thing to do, that's what it was. And like many other fun activities, its effect exceeds the person having fun. What I mean is, doing things you enjoy has a positive impact on people around you. It's the typical happy mom, happy family kind of thing.

So, for a while, may be a few years, I was a victim of this cold comment, not making a point of doing my nails or applying make up. Only to find my friend perfectly polished and "blow dried" every time I bumped into her! One word kept coming to my mind: hypocrite!  

But then I thought, how did I let her get to me with that silly comment? Why did I give it, or her, for that matter, so much relevance? How did I change so much? I used to love getting a few new clothes here and there, or even applying basic make up every day!

After giving it a lot of thought, a few books read, and some research made, I saw that beauty is sometimes viewed as the inconsequential thing to do, the unimportant thing in life. Beauty is sometimes left to the superficial girl. The girl that doesn't care about the real world. Catastrophes, wars, world hunger, scientific research, all that is assigned to the hard working woman and men that deal with real problems.

Well, it turns out it doesn't have to be an either-or kind of thing. You can find the cure for cancer, achieve world peace, or even find a way to end world hunger, and still enjoy getting manicures or reading a fashion magazine while having your hair blow dried, don't you think?

Have you ever had a similar dilemma?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stop Focusing on the Negative! Lean To The Optimistic Side.

Having poor appreciation of the big picture, the bad and the good, focusing almost exclusively on the flaw, being unable to appreciate the good. Feeling compelled to focus on the mistake, the flaw, the fault, hinders our well being . 

What about the rest of the picture? Do we really need to point out flaws all the time? Is it our job? Have we been hired by some evil employer to go through our life looking at other people's faults? I mean, what's the point of being a defect spy?

When you focus on the negative you know exactly what you need to change and improve. From an evolutionary perspective, the focus on the negative has been credited with keeping us alive and away from predators. However useful it used to be back then, we shouldn't let this be the norm in our everyday lives.  

Apparently, we handle the negative information with one side of the brain, and the positive with the other side. Negative information and emotions tend to be more finely processed and ruminated than pleasant thoughts. This is why we find hard to forget negative remarks. And also why negative thoughts come to us quicker and easier than positive ones.  

I don't mean to encourage a happy go lucky style of life, completely carefree and naive. The thing is, there are all sorts of risks associated with obsessively focusing on the negative. 

Psychologically, pessimism has a correlation with depression, stress and anxiety. I think these are enough reasons to make every effort to avoid feeding our brains with negativity. In addition, of course there are all sorts of physical problems that appear with the help of our naysayer mind. 

Luckily, research tells us that being a pessimist is not set in stone. The brain is malleable and can be retrained to think positively. 

Learning to assign more importance to the good as opposed to the bad is a shortcut to our well being. I'm not saying that you should eliminate every negative thought (many of them appear for a good reason). As always, finding a healthy in between is key.

Psychologists and Neurologists came up with many ways to do so. But it all comes down to one. The decision, the choice to lean more to the positive side than to the negative one. 

Have you ever refrained yourself from making negative remarks and decided to focus on the positive? It takes some mindfulness and awareness, don't you think?

You may like: This, on my Instagram, also Don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff, and Cultivating well being, an antidote to anxiety. Oh! and take a look at this, I found it funny. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Ridiculously Simple Trick To Get Motivated To Workout

Last Friday I dragged myself to the gym after saying NO, to all the excuses I was wisely coming up with. The one that almost got me was: "If you go, you won't have time to write that post that you've been wanting to write for the longest time". Aha! Very clever.....almost got me!

Instead, I simply stopped thinking and went to my "body pump" class! Very much like a bloodhound that has sniffed its prey, or for lack of a better example, like a zombie.   

I did this because I remembered my trainer at the gym saying that whenever you are exhausted and can't take not even one more dumbbell lunge repetition, simply stop thinking and listen to the music. Well, I don't know about the "simply" part because I haven't reached that point just yet, but I applied that same principle to my pre workout mindset. 

This mindset has become my trick for getting myself to the gym now. To simply go. Excuses are ignored. I stop thinking about the 1,085 reasons I have for not going to the gym and just get there. I shut my brain off for a few minutes until I get there and follow Nike's advice, Just Do It! Once I'm there I'm fine. Sometimes, I even enjoy the class! Apparently this works for me. 

As you can see, in my case, the struggle is real. Not much of an athlete here!

What's your pre work out motivation?

You might like: 5 things I changed after reading "The Body Book" by Cameron Diaz. and Wellbeing series.

Friday, September 4, 2015

When Beauty Products Boost Your Mood

Have you ever thought about how well designed products can improve your quality of living, and consequently uplift your mood? These products basically make you happier and enhance your day!

I've always considered myself to be thoughtful and profound. However, I have to admit, show me a nice nail polish or a beautiful handbag and the profoundness takes a break until further notice. Nobody's perfect!

I've found that simple, frivolous things, can have an effect on how we feel and, in some cases, they even contribute to health improvements. Examples of this would be buying nice workout clothes in order to feel motivated to workout, or getting a nice backpack for school, or in this case, a night cream that has a lovely scent and improves your skin! Simple as that.

I recently got Lancome Hydra Zen Nuit again and suddenly, I was looking forward to do my night time face cleaning so I could apply said night cream. 

I'm not sure what it does to my skin exactly. We could ask Mrs. Hirons to find out why I see a difference the next morning. I do know that my face looks better whenever I use it.

The exquisite and elegant scent is my favorite. If you are sensitive to fragrance test it before buying. Personally, it's one of the main reasons I tend to go back to Hydra Zen Nuit. The lovely perfume! 

I'm curious to know, do you have any feel good & happy to use products? The kind that you look forward to wear? 

I guess we've discovered the secret behind the beauty industry. They are onto us! Don't you think? Lancome you are doing a good job then! 

P.S. Do you use face masks? and YouTube driven purchases 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

How To Make Homemade Palmiers in 5 Minutes or Less! Warning: Contains First Eclecticalu Video!!

I recently discovered that Palmiers can be surprisingly easy to make. I like to pair the French pastry with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

If you don't have puff pastry at home you can use pie or tart dough. I didn't use puff pastry (...nobody needs to know) and ended up being delicious just as well.

 You'll need three ingredients.
  • 1 Sheet of  thawed Puff Pastry 
  • Melted butter
  • Sugar

Watch how to make them. First Eclecticalu video downloaded to YouTube!!! Enjoy! 

Did you know palmiers were so easy to make? 

P.S. Healthy blueberry muffinsBizcochitosLemon Brownies.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Poison Free Solution For Insects In The Kitchen

I recently braved an ant invasion all over my kitchen counter top. I didn't want to use any hard chemicals near food or cooking surfaces so I sprayed them with rubbing alcohol. It worked out perfectly!

I also tested it on flies and mosquitoes: check and check! Just don't spray it on fire catching surfaces. It kills all sorts of bugs without leaving a poisonous residue. 

I usually keep this spray in my kitchen for cleaning purposes (50% water, 50% rubbing alcohol) but this time around it doubled as a bug exterminator!

Have you tried this before? 

P.S. The new smell of clean: white vinegar and The lotion that helps skin heal itself