Monday, February 29, 2016

Azuni London Jewellery



The story of how I found Azuni has a little bit of fate incorporated to it, at least, that's what I like to think!

During one of my parents' visits to London, my mom bought the Athena Small Stone Drop earrings and bracelet. Back in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she gave them to me as a gift. I have cherished them ever since. A few years passed, and because I wear them so often, I decided to let you know about the brand and how much I liked their jewellery. 

When I googled Azuni London, I saw that Ashley Marshall, Creative Director and Founder of Azuni, who is passionate about tribal art and ancient cultures, was inspired to create his jewellery line after travelling to Central and South America. After learning this, I like to think that his earrings made its way back to South America, where the designer envisioned them.

On a side note, when my mom gave them to me, she showed me a picture of Kate Middleton wearing these exact same earrings. Of course, they looked gorgeous on her. But then, I tried them on, and surprisingly enough, they looked quite good on me as well, haha! 




The Athena small stone drop earrings are weightless and so easy to wear. I especially like the design and the stone, Aqua Chalcedony. Everything about them feels unique.




Non UK friends: is this jewellery brand available where you live? What kind of jewellery do you like to wear on a daily basis?



This post is not sponsored and these aren't affiliate links. Just sharing the love!


P.S. Throws, Pashminas and Ponchos

Friday, February 26, 2016

Clickable Links Friday




Hi! It's pouring rain as I write today. The sound of rain, paired with the occasional thunder, are my favorite parts of a storm. Do you like rain? To me, nothing beats it. Especially after days of high summer temperatures with a scorching sun threatening to melt your existence. Plus, we are getting much needed lower temperatures. 

We are also prepping school supplies for next week. My boys are going back to school after a looong summer vacation...(phew!)

What are you up to?


My eldest boy is turning twelve later this year, so I'm all about reading, mostly everything I can find about adolescence. Here's a great article by goop, if you are on the same boat as me. Navigating Adolescence and Understanding your Kids Perspective.

The lingerie brand that refuses to airbrush models is launching a campaign for eating disorders awareness week. Let's support this brand. This is a great.

Do you like wearing stripes? I do and they are here to stay. Candy colored stripes as seen on Milan fashion week.

If Trump wins...Americans moving to Canada (!!?)

Why this blog's Mindfulness series are good for you :)  How meditation changes the brain and body. I don't want to say "I told you" but I did! Ha ha ha!

Canada's Prime Minister and his pink t-shirt. Against bullying.

How to use the emoji against online bullying

I don't drink coffee. Should I start? 

I didn't know Bill Gates had a YouTube channel. The Gates Notes. 

Happy Friday!



P.S. Previous Clickable Links.


(Photo of London via pixabay.com)









Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How To Practice Mindfulness: Eating Mindfully.




Mindfulness series are going strong with a post every Wednesday at Eclectic Alu. Have you practiced any of these techniques, yet? 

The best part of mindful eating is that it's good news. There are no diets here. There's no good or bad food. 

Although I've been learning about this for a while, I only was able to eat mindfully for half a meal. Which is a lot! Distractions come up and this things take time. It's a learning process. But I have noticed one thing. I'm starting to listen and understand what my body and my emotions are telling me. Am I really hungry? Am I thirsty? Am I anxious?

So, what is mindful eating? 

Mindful eating is the opposite to eating mindlessly, i.e, in front of the TV watching your favorite show, not being 100% sure whether it was you or not, the one who finished the empty pint of Ben & Jerry's resting on your coffee table.

It's applying the same core concepts we saw on previous mindfulness posts. Awareness, without judgement or criticism, and redirecting our mind to what we are feeling at the moment, only in this case, in relation to what we put into our mouths. We do this to stay connected to ourselves. To become aware and know our body.

Used for treating specific eating disorders, mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking. It's becoming aware of the smells, the textures, the colors of the food, whether it's hot or cold. Or even if it makes any sounds when we chew it. We maintain an awareness, throughout this experience, of what goes on inside and outside of our body. Room temperature, sounds, and so on. All this, without judgement or criticism. We are simply being aware.

As we practice, we will get distracted... 

In the process, I, more often than not, find hard to redirect my thoughts to what I'm eating or drinking at a specific moment. So letting those intrusive and distracting thoughts pass by is part of the trick.

Having said that, I'm already seeing the benefits. Whenever I see myself walking towards the cookie jar, I pause for a second and rethink the strategy. Do I really need another cookie? Would it feel nice if I ate a fruit? Am I hungry, or thirsty, or simply anxious? Don't get me wrong, we are talking about my food weakness here...If the answer is that I want a cookie then, by all means, I ENJOY it. 

However, the beauty of eating mindfully is that, in time, you will find yourself reaching for the "cookie jar" or (insert favorite food here) less and less. You will be listening to your emotions, your body, and its needs. And usually what you really need is food that provides nutrition. Luckily, if we listen, our wise body tends to make balanced food choices.

Mindful eating helps reconnect ourselves to what our body needs. It helps us become aware of what foods make us feel good and healthy and which ones make us feel sick or tired. Also we learn to detect whether we are satiated or not. 

One more thing!! I'm practicing mindful eating with my kids. There's no age limit to do so and it's highly beneficial.

Here's a guided meditation for mindful eating, if you are interested.

Thoughts? 



P.S. More on Mindfulness. 




Monday, February 22, 2016

6 Unexpected Facts About Motherhood in Argentina




Being a long time fan of Cup of Jo's series Motherhood Around the World, and inspired by these very interesting and beautifully written posts, I thought I'd let you in on a few fun facts about motherhood in Argentina.

Children's Birthdays: Most parents celebrate their children's birthdays at "peloteros", which are places, specifically made for kids' birthday parties, that you can rent for 2 to 4 hours. These peloteros have everything already set up for the occasion. They provide a birthday-friendly infrastructure that includes games, play-makers, waitresses, food, balloons, piñatas, and even the cake. The idea is for parents to host the birthday party there, and after candles have been blown, gifts have been given, and fun has been had, they can go back to their clean house, stress free! 

















*That's my youngest boy!

Children's Birthdays part II: When celebrating kids birthdays, moms tend to serve exclusively junk food. Yes, that's right. Cheerios, candies, bagged fries, hamburgers and hot dogs, you name it. If it's junk food, they serve it. You can find Coca Cola and Sprite easily. However, my kids have had a hard time finding bottled water to drink, many times! Apparently, eating junk food is part of the birthday present (?!) And, don't even try to suggest healthier food options for birthdays, you will be frowned upon, by most moms. I'm speaking from my own experience... eek! 

Bananas and Friendly Greengrocers: Greengrocer's shops (independently run, small, produce stores) are very easy to find in Buenos Aires and all around Argentina. To give you an idea of how popular these shops are, I have two of them, one block away from my house. If you happen to go with your toddler, or baby, to one of these places to buy veggies and fruits; the greengrocer will give you a banana for your kid to eat, at the store, while you order your veggies, or even to take home as a gift.






















*Those are my two boys! #proudmama 



Bakeries: Similar thing happens at the bakery, which, by the way, make the most delicious pastries. Argentine kids have an afternoon snack, around 5 pm, consisting of chocolate milk with cookies or pastries. (Adults have tea or coffee!) It's also very likely that when a parent goes with a toddler, to a bakery, the little one, will be given a treat, in the form of a pastry or cookie to munch while mom finishes shopping. 
























Pacifiers: When a baby drops her pacifier and it hits the ground, more mamas than I'd like to admit, will rush to pick it up, and suck their baby's pacifier before returning it to their precious bundle of joy. They truly think they are washing and cleaning it. Yuck! I say germs are having a party.

On queues and friendly people: Let's say you are waiting in line, at the bank (there are always lines or queues here in Buenos Aires, at banks, hospitals and public services centers). The person next to you, will most probably, start a conversation with you and your little boy/girl and ask questions regarding their age, whether they have siblings or not, and then talk to the little ones in an effort to make them feel better about waiting in a long queue. 

What is a surprising thing about motherhood in your country? Would love to know!



P.S. If you are a blogger and would like to write about motherhood in your country, please let me know, maybe link to my post so I can link yours to mine, and tag me @eclecticalu on twitter or instagram, so I can read it too! I'm very curious to know! Thank you for reading!



Friday, February 19, 2016

Clickable Links Friday




Summer vacations are wrapping up around here. Next week, will be the last one we'll have, school-free, for going out and about,  chess gaming, and hanging out by the pool. I'll try to make the most out of it and take the boys to a couple of fun places. Do you have any plans for the weekend?


I loved reading this blog post about living abroad. I couldn't agree more. Where is home ?

I started following the Reykjavik Police Department Instagram account. Funny and cute! Thank you Cup Of Jo.

This one too! It's a good one.

About Instagram...How cool would it be if we could all get involved in this campaign, what do you think? By the way, I'm following them too now. (I keep picturing Harry Potter saying "Wicked!!". Why?! Randomness overload, I know.)

Finally, a useful, to the point, and fun-to-watch video, that tells you, exactly, how to choose the best drugstore foundation for you. Plus, Rachhloves explains it, so, that's always a bonus. 

How to not look Old and Tired, by Goop.

The inspiring scent of citrus. 

This baby kangaroo knows how to ask for milk.

Enjoy the weekend!


(Photo via pixabay.com)




P.S. Last Friday's Clickable Links 


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

How To Practice Mindfulness: Let's Go For A Walk.




Were you able to follow last week's 3 minute body scan meditation? In my case, although it sounds simple, it can be challenging to calm down this "restless monkey mind"!

As you may already know, these series of blog posts, on how to practice mindfulness, aim at providing you (and me) with tools to train your mind, and develop a set of skills to improve our overall well-being, while reducing negative emotions and hopefully respond with resilience to factors outside of our control.

Mindfulness of Walking

The principle to perform a walking meditation is similar to the one used for the body scan: basically bring awareness to what your body is doing. It's all about mindful meditative attention.

  • If you prefer, and it's possible where you are, remove your shoes. Please don't go barefoot down a snow covered street, ha! Find a place, where you can walk for, at least 10 steps.  It could be outside, or in the comfort of your own home.


  • Start by being still. Feel the connection of your feet to the ground. Notice your breath. Don't make any effort to change your breath flow. Simply notice how your body breathes.


  • Notice your surroundings. Sounds? Sights? Smells? Is it cold? Hot? Let your thoughts and emotions be. Hold or clasp your hands at the front or at the back. Or let your arms be by your sides.


  • Shift your weight to the left leg and move your right foot forward, feel your right foot hit the ground. Now shift your weight to the right leg and lift your left foot forward, repeating the process. (Yes, I am aware that you may already know how to walk, haha!)


  • Continue with this mindful walking, paying attention to the soles of your feet, your heel, toe, heel toe moving, lifting, placing.


  • Find your own rhythm. Notice your breath, your spine, your torso, your head over it, and your shoulders and arms.


  • Notice any thoughts, become aware of them, and let them go by returning your attention to your mindful walking.


Now that you know what this is all about, next time you go on a walking trip to the store, try this technique. It's a great way to enjoy the experience of, actually having a body, that is able to take you places. 

As Dr. Seuss once said...Oh, The Places You'll Go!

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who will decide where to go..."

Let me know how your mindfulness practice goes! Have you tried any of these techniques yet? 

Stay tuned for next week's mindfulness practice post! It's one of those topics that extend to more meaningful levels of our daily lives...Hmm...very mysterious of me to put it that way.
  



P.S. How to mindfulness: Try This Easy Technique First and A Breathing Meditation. Also on Cultivating Well-Being






Friday, February 12, 2016

Clickable Links


Today's links are late, sorry! We had a blackout for several hours and couldn't finish my post, until now. We are hoping for a refreshing rain this weekend since we've been dealing with pretty high temperatures (39 degrees Celsius or 102 Fahrenheit). 

What are you up to?


Einstein was right?

Listen to two black holes colliding in deep space. 

Just got this OPI color and it's going on my nails this weekend. (yay!)

Her version of Hotline Bling is SO good. Actually, her version of any song is SO good.

Also bought this drugstore cleansing milk. Have you tried it? Is it any good?

Number of likes, Facebook, and U.S. presidential elections.

I need to stock up on gum.

Apparently, my Grandma was right. Eating seafood is good for the brain

Want to see something funny? My throwback picture this Thursday. 

Have a great weekend!



Picture from pixabay.com



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How To Practice Mindfulness: The Body Scan



How's your mindfulness practice going? Last "How To Practice Mindfulness" post explained a breathing technique. Although it seems easy, given that breathing is something we do without even thinking about it, I found that paying close attention only to my breath, wasn't exactly a piece of cake. I had to let go of a lot of thoughts. Lot's of butterflies flying in my garden! Especially with two boys on summer vacation! How was your breathing meditation? Did you give it a try?

If you are looking for another technique to become aware, and promote well-being and relaxation, while building internal energy, here goes another one:  the body scan meditation.

Ideally, practiced daily for about 20 minutes to half an hour, the body scan aims at bringing awareness to each individual part of the body, in order to finish the meditation connecting each part to the body as a whole.

How to practice a body scan? 

1. Lie on your back. Spread your legs out and your arms to the side, palms up.

2. Notice what it feels like to be supported by the ground.

3. Check in with your left toes and see how they feel. Are they tense, or cold? Direct your breaths. Focus on the point of your attention by breathing deep into your toes. Whatever that means to you. The idea is to promote awareness to each body part and see how they feel in a non-judgmental way. The objective is simple awareness.

4. Let your awareness continue upward to your arch, ankle, calf, knee, thigh and then do the same with your right leg.

5. Continue with your lower back, abdomen, chest and shoulders. Then arms, hands, neck and head.

6. After you have scanned each and every body part, focus on how fingers connect to hands, hands to arms, and so forth. See how the body is a perfect whole, that unites by breath, flowing in and out.

Here's a 3 minute  UCLA guided body scan meditation. Hope you can put this into practice, and maybe let me know how it goes? Until next week's post on how to practice mindfulness!




P.S. How to practice mindfulness: try this easy technique first.

Monday, February 8, 2016

5 Healthy Snacks That Are Easy To Make.




Lately, we've been trying to snack on healthier foods. I used to always have coffee, or earl grey with milk and cookies. But, since that is not the best option, I came up with a few better-for-you alternatives. One very important thing to note though, I do still snack on cookies and tea. It's a necessity!

Annnyhow...These are our current, healthier, go-to snacks. What are yours? 

1. Granola bars. I followed this recipe, many times, and it's delicious. One tip though, work with a lower temperature oven. I almost burned my granola the first time I made it...





2. Smoothies. I make them all the time. This is a good one. But in general I mix fruits I have that day in the fridge or in the fruit bowl. It's a good way to incorporate fruits to my kids diet. Just put your favorite fruits in the blender, add a glass of water, and your smoothie is done.




3. Hummus with carrots. This one is my current favorite snack. 


4. Almonds. These are surprisingly filling! 

5. Popcorn. Here's my take on it.



What are your favorite snacks?






Friday, February 5, 2016

Clickable Links.





We are having friends over for dinner this Saturday. I'm planning on making salads, and getting ice-cream for dessert. It's been SO hot and humid these last few summer days, ( 33 degrees Celsius / 91.5 Fahrenheit!!) so, we will be either hanging out outside, by the pool, or inside, anywhere with an up and running air conditioner. Have a great weekend!


Begin

5 Misconceptions about Yoga

Friend: "Here comes your crush, act natural". Funny!

While we are on the Instagram yoga front...This 97 year-old yoga teacher has something to say.

Have you ever been to the U.S. Virgin Islands?  A vacation for the entire family.

Toddler adjusting to society... 

Delicious Super Bowl Nachos three ways.

Small ceramic tableware for small apartments.

New York's micro-apartment towers.






Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How To Practice Mindfulness: Breathing Meditation.



How was last week's practice? Were you able to remain fully present while doing your every day activities? I have to say I did better. I tried to be more aware. Sometimes I did, sometimes I forgot, but whenever I remained present I felt much more at ease. How did it work for you?

For today's weekly post on mindfulness techniques I thought we could practice a short breathing technique. It's also called meditation. Before you run out the door, I'll explain. Meditation is not a religion, nor is it part of a zen/mystic, new-era-thing.  It's simply a way of training the mind. The same way you train your body if you workout. 

Why would you want to train your mind? In the words of Matthieu Riccard (scientist and Buddhist monk * ) "the mind is a restless monkey". It's always producing thoughts and consequently bringing up emotions. Sometimes, these emotions, become too much to handle and we end up feeling stressed, anxious, with sleeping problems, uncontrollable anger, jealousy or even sadness. 

Meditating can be as simple as breathing mindfully. What I like about Matthieu Riccard's view of mindfulness is that he adds a critical component: cultivating loving kindness, compassion, altruism, or the wish for others to do well and flourish, simply because it's a win-win situation for all. He explains the difference between simple mindfulness and mindfulness with loving kindness and compassion, here. A sniper can be mindful too, you know? (!!)

How to breathe mindfully or meditate?

1. Sit comfortably. No need for advanced Yogi positions. 

2. Close your eyes if you want. Otherwise, relax your gaze. Become aware of the coming and going of the breath. How it feels. Pay attention to your stomach, your lungs, your nostrils. Is your jaw clinching? 

3. Thoughts will come. Become aware of the thought, of the fact that you are being distracted by it, and let it go. Don't elaborate. Let thoughts pass by, like butterflies visiting flowers in the garden. Let thoughts go. 

4. Return your awareness to your breathing.  

Here's a great UCLA five minute guided breathing meditation. Enjoy, and let me know how it goes! Until next week's post on how to practice mindfulness!



P.S. How to practice mindfulness: Body Scan Meditation



* Due to my background in Professional Counseling, my interest in mindfulness occurred as a consequence of trying to explain and simplify the components of well-being so that I could write clearly about them. By doing so, I came across the work of Matthieu Riccard, who has made (and is making) such an impactful contribution to the psychology of well-being.

Monday, February 1, 2016

How To Make Carrot Cake


















I made this cake for my birthday recently - that's how much I like this recipe -. However, you may already know, but something happened that day that prevented us from eating this absolutely delicious cake. Long story short, I can't wait to make it again soon.

I got this recipe from Belén Canalejo at Balamoda.net. She is a lovely, Spanish, fashion & lifestyle blogger and vlogger who has four children: three boys and a girl. If you are looking into brushing up on your Spanish skills, have a look at her YouTube channel. This is the video in which she explains how to make this exact, same cake. She is warm, real and fun. I'm pretty sure you'll like her too.  

For the cake, you will need:

Dry Ingredients

2 1/2 cups or 300 grams sifted flour
1/2 tsp  baking soda
pinch salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp powdered cinnamon
  

Wet Ingredients

1 1/4 cups or 250 grams granulated sugar
1 cup or 230 grams mild olive oil
4 medium eggs


Add these two after blending the dry with the wet

3 cups or 250 grams grated carrots
1 cup or 100 grams nuts


For the icing and filling, you will need:

18 ounces or 500 grams cream cheese
5 ounces or 150 grams unsalted butter
15 ounces or 450 grams icing (aka powdered or confectioner's) sugar 




Sift dry ingredients in one bowl. In a mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients.  Fold dry ingredients into the wet and blend well. Fold in grated carrots and nuts.

Grease and flour a cake pan. Pour the batter in it and bake for between 30 and 47 minutes depending on your oven. Belén said 47 minutes but in my oven the cake only needed 25 minutes. So, check on the cake when you reach minute 25, just in case.

While the cake is in the oven, make the filling. Beat butter with powdered sugar and cream cheese. I would add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract next time. Refrigerate it until needed.

Once the cake is done, let it cool completely. Then, carefully cut it into two layers. With a spatula, evenly spread about half of the filling, or the amount that you wish, on the bottom layer. Then, center second layer on top and spread the remainder of icing to cover top and sides of cake.

I sprinkled 2 bars of processed chocolate on top to decorate. You can grate chocolate too, if you prefer. 

Do you like carrot cakes? Have you ever baked one? How's your recipe different from mine? I'd really like to know (as usual).

Thank you for reading.



P.S. How to make a cheese plate + video  and Healthy (er) blueberry muffins recipe