Tuesday, 22 November 2016

I can almost hear “Jingle Bells”

Hello everyone!

I hope you are entering the festive season with your best foot forward and feeling excited by all the beautiful and magical things these next two months have to offer us. For a brief moment, we can dream and, why not, go back to childhood memories. After all, that’s what Christmas is all about.

Well, returning to the news, I will not be around for these next two weeks, I will see you here in 15 days... December is a magical month and I am looking forward to sharing some very nice little things with you.

But before then, a little bit of about what makes up the euphoria of Christmas. We have already been through the initial phase: just after Halloween shop windows abandon their frightening decorations to make way for “Santa Claus & Co.”

In the streets, huge Christmas trees are starting to pop up and the shopping centres and stores compete with each other with their beautiful Christmas decorations.

I lose myself in these Christmas things. I have already bought a gift for myself and for Sweetheart in the first week of November! I must say that it was love at first sight; it was exactly what I wanted, but I did not think I would find it. I love it when that happens, it is a sign of a well spent day and a mission fulfilled.

I have also bought some Christmas chocolates, some “pain d’épices fourrés aux noisettes” (gingerbread filled with hazelnuts) and the star of Italian Christmas puddings, a panettone. This Christmas we will spoil ourselves with a “panettone marrons glacés et raisins” (panettone with glazed chestnuts and raisins). In case you want to get beautiful ones, pay a visit to the Terra Nossa Italian restaurant and grocery shop (Rue Jean-Violette 8 in the Plainpalais neighbourhood). You will lose your head over their extraordinary tasty homemade panettone, specially delivered from Italia…. Hmm, I can’t wait to taste it…

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention to you a cute decoration and stationery shop L'Échappéé Belle situated in Carouge at 1 Rue Saint-Victor. . A cute boutique that is full of beautiful Christmas decorations as well as pretty stationery things and cool gift ideas.

Now, I leave you and I hope you have enjoyed this post. So, see you in 15 days...

Lots of love

Monday, 21 November 2016

Chai Tea... spicy, sweet and absolutely wonderful!

At  a gorgeous spa I used to go to in Kuala Lumpur, I had the honour of tasting this delicious, warm and wonderful drink for the very first time. They kindly gave me their Chai recipe. I have slightly adapted the spice and sweetness level and I have found the perfect recipe for my palate.

When I returned back home, I integrated Chai Tea into my routine. I drink it as a cure once or twice a month, although Asians traditionally consume it on a daily basis with friends and family and even serve it as an accompaniment to food. I sometimes add miniature cakes, like this gorgeous plate.

There are many ways to make Chai. The way that I learned and that I make Chai is relatively easy; I place all the ingredients in a saucepan with cold water and let the mixture come to a slow boil and turn a beautiful, rich colour. Then, I turn off the heat and add loose leaf tea. I strain the tea before serving.
You can use tea bags instead; allow it to brew for a few minutes (typically 3-5 minutes for black tea). Remove the tea bags. When ready, add three tablespoons of milk and stir to mix it. Pour into a cup; you can decorate with a cinnamon stick.

What makes the Chai Tea so special is all the balanced blend of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper...Here is my mixture, but feel free to change to suit your palate!

Ingredients (makes 3-4 mugs):
1 litre of water
2 teaspoons loose tea leaves (I use Earl Grey) or 2 black tea bags
1 cinnamon stick (plus an optional one for decoration)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon finely ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 tablespoon cane sugar
3 tablespoons milk

The history of Chai, from a book.
“Chai is traditionally a spicy, sweet, milky tea mixed with cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger. “Marsala Chai”, literally translated from Hindu, means “spiced tea”. The refreshing and healing power of these herbs is said to calm the mind and nurture the spirit. The Chai tradition originated during colonial India. The British introduced the Indians to the idea of adding milk to tea and the Indians took the practice a step further by blending spices with milky tea…and along came Chai.”

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Jean-Pierre Rosselet...Skin Expert

Hello ladies (gents, welcome too)!

Today I want to talk about a little known brand - Jean-Pierre Rosselet, a swiss brand that has been in existence for 32 years. Indeed, after having presented my “My Favourites” last August, I prepared this article. I have been using this Deep Cleansing Peeling Mask for many years now and it is fabulous.

It  is thanks to my beautician that I got to know their range of face care products. I chose this mask since it amazed me because it is a purifying peeling mask and that’s what my skin needs.

This Deep Cleansing Peeling Mask is sold in a 50 ml pot which does not take much room in your holiday packing. This two-in-one product was specifically created to cleanse combination skin. The nourishing mask with a highly active mint perfume is a true burst of freshness on the skin. In addition, it does not contain parabens.

Personally, I use it once a week after washing my face. I put a bit of Peeling Mask with a little water in the palm of my hand, then I apply it to my face and massage gently with my fingertips using circular movements. I then leave the product to work for 15-20 minutes as a cosmetic mask.

Once I rinse the product off, my skin is matte, looks very soft and is much clearer. Indeed, with use over time, it removes impurities and makes my pores less visible by tightening the skin, which is smoother, more uniform and radiant!

In short, this Deep Cleansing Peeling Mask is excellent and good value for money (it costs CHF 25.00)

It is available for sale exclusively in some beauty salons, but you can order it via the internet.

Jean-Pierre Rosselet Cosmetics

Monday, 14 November 2016

China Dolls by Lisa See (2014)

San Francisco, 1938. While war is brewing in Europe, the International Exhibition is about to open its doors. Three young Chinese-American women - Grace, Helen, and Ruby - with different trajectories, meet by chance at the Forbidden City, a chic and exclusive night club. Grace Lee, an American of Chinese origin, left the Midwest to escape an abusive father. Helen Fong wants to escape the shackles of her traditionalist Chinese family. Meanwhile, the sublime Ruby Tom defies the conventions of the time with her provocative attitude and boundless ambition. The three become best friends and together face the unexpected and a reversal of fortune. But the attack on Pearl Harbor soon comes to shake up their lives. Will they find the courage and determination to make their dreams a reality?
Although they have taken a “one for all” vow of eternal loyalty, each harbours secrets that cause a pervasive atmosphere of distrust to simmer just below the surface.

Author: Lisa See is a Chinese American writer. She was born on 18 February 1955 in Paris and lives in Los Angeles, the city where her great-grandfather immigrated when he left his Chinese village early last century to become the godfather of Chinatown in Los Angeles.
It was with the novel “Snow flower and the secret fan” (2005) that she met with real success. She has so far published 10 books. Her latest novel is China Dolls.

My thoughts: I learned about Lisa See recently, thanks to Judy’s “Keep the Wisdom” blog. I liked her review and I was curious to discover this female writer.
I found the book to be a fascinating portrait of life as Chinese-American women in the America of the 1940’s. China Dolls is the story of three Asian girlfriends.
There is Grace, who is graceful, naive and a very good dancer. In order to escape her village and a brutal father, she flees to California. In her struggle to find a job, she crosses the path of Helen, a native of San Francisco and daughter of a wealthy Chinese businessman in Chinatown.
The life of Helen, which was previously filled with boredom and loneliness, changes through her contact with Grace. When auditioning as cabaret dancers in the Forbidden City in Chinatown, they meet Ruby (a Japanese posing as a Chinese). She is carefree and full of cunning. The three become friends and stick together in hard times and in this America filled with prejudice towards Asians.
We discover their parallel stories and thoughts which are narrated by each of them. This is a very original approach to writing and Lisa See is a true discovery for me (thanks, Judy!). I was intrigued and fascinated by this novel. I liked the story of the friendship between these three young women: not always easy, made of multiple noble actions and less noble feelings at times. But they knew how to stick together and believed in the power of friendship. I, myself, cherish long term friendships, not flash in the pan acquaintances.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Olive Oil Cake

This recipe was given to me a long time ago by the grandmother of a Portuguese friend who grew up in the Alentejo.

The Alentejo is one of the most beautiful regions of Portugal. It is located southeast of Lisbon and north of the Algarve. It has a medieval, Roman and Arab heritage and its rich gastronomy is one of my favourites, I must say.

This delicious cake has a very distinctive flavour given by the olive oil, honey, cinnamon and the “Erva Doce”. Erva Doce is a mixed spice widely used in Portuguese cooking.

As you can see from the photos, my cake got overcooked, but, you know what? It tasted divine and it smelled really nice in my kitchen.

2 dl olive oil
2 dl honey
4 eggs
170 g sugar
200 g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon “Erva Doce” (you will find it in Portuguese grocery shops)

1. Mix the olive oil, honey, sugar and eggs, beating well for about 10 minutes.
2. Add the cinnamon and the Erva Doce and the self-raising flour and mix very well.
3. Pour the dough into a large savarin mould, well-greased with butter and sprinkled with flour.
4. Place it in the oven at 180°C to bake for about 40 minutes (check that it is cooked).
5. Once cooked unmould the cake and let it cool.

Serves 12

Note: You can prepare a smaller cake by using the half of the ingredients mentioned here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

A less ordinary day

There is nothing better than a party at home, whether small or large, with a group of friends (my family lives abroad) or friendly colleagues. These are occasions where everyone is so comfortable that they feel they are in their own house.

I love these gatherings and it gives me immense pleasure to prepare them. I feel happy to go shopping for the menu, pick the flowers, order the cake (when I can’t make one), decorate the table...put on the red lipstick...this is very important when one is cooking...hahaha.

I only show a few of my parties here. As you know, I’m not one of those people who show very personal things in public, but I feel like I want to share with you (like last year) the birthday dinner I laid on for Sweetheart.

For his recent birthday celebration, I made it very simple - the opposite of last year.

For this intimate dinner at home, I wanted to feel comfortable but pretty. I wore this old denim miniskirt with a timeless white shirt and, for a whimsical touch, this necklace from Zalando. As we planned to go out after dinner to our preferred bar downtown, I chose this practical baby bag just to hold the essentials.

My table was decorated with recycled objects like this jam jar, which I found really cute, and added these trinkets and a few candles in their pretty holders.

The celebration started with a dinner. I prepared the Hungarian speciality, Beef Goulash. Sweetheart chose the menu, and I was glad to be able to make the things he likes so much for his birthday.

After dinner, he blew out the candles. The birthday cake was his favourite - Forêt Noire - which I ordered at the Manor cake shop. It was a pure delight...I strongly recommend their yummy cakes.

Then we drank a toast and he opened the small gifts that I had offered him, like this old-fashioned metal placard.  When I saw it, I thought it would make a great gift and a reminder - because Sweetheart’s office at home tends to get messy...hahaha…you see this man is not perfect!!

…I remember when I first met him, one of the things that attracted me was his great sense of humour!!!

I wish you all a sweet and tender day.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Risk poem by William Arthur Ward

I adore this poem because life has proved me that each time we take a risk, we win, we learn, we feel stronger, we feel happier, we feel invincible... By the way, have you noticed that bad luck is afraid of determined people?!!

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and your dreams before a crowd is to risk embarrassment
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair
To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing at all.
The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing, and may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, or live.
Chained by their certitudes, they are slaves
They have forfeited their freedom
Only a person who risks is truly free

Photo: My first selfies taken at Mum's house last summer

Friday, 4 November 2016

My favourites places for a drink in Geneva – PART II

Les Brasseurs
Place de Cornavin 20, 1201 Genève
I love having a beer with a yummy Flammekueche at this iconic place in the centre of town. They serve lovely Swiss specialties and daily special lunch options. Les Brasseurs produce their own beer. You can choose a tasting menu of various beers. The vibrant atmosphere and the decor add an impressive touch.

Café du Rond-Point
Rond-Point de Plainpalais 2, 1205 Genève
Every time I walk through Plainpalais, I go past this place and it was only this year that I managed to fit in a visit. It’s a nice and interesting café frequented by all sorts of people. Consistently serves up simple ingredients, fuss free dining, a spontaneous and seasonal menu and, above all, good quality fare. Near the banking quarter and the university area.

Arthur’s Rive Gauche
Rue du Rhône 7, 1204 Genève
A unique setting, ideally located beside the Rhône with a beautiful view of the Jet d’Eau. Friendly and professional staff, great for a drink or a meal in a classy place!

Chez Philippe
Passage des Lions, Rue du Rhône 8, 1204 Genève
Nice decor, impeccable service. The food is delicious, according to Sweetheart, who had some business lunches there. BTW, mostly frequented by business people, but no worries, they don’t fact, they are cool!

Demi Lune Café
Rue Etienne-Dumont 3, 1204 Genève
A great bar and restaurant for all occasions to chill out with friends, colleagues, or a date... a must! Located in the Old Town it has an original decor, warm atmosphere and friendly staff. I have never eaten there, but have been told that the food is good!

Queen Victoria Bar-Restaurant
Rue du Grand-Bureau 16, 1227 Les Acacias
It is a little tucked away, but it’s a great place to immerse yourself in the local neighbourhood lifestyle and have a hearty meal at their restaurant. This modern bar offers quality bar food with a range of good beers and a short but nice cocktail menu. As a local bar, the ambiance is really warm and friendly. It is frequented by local regulars, walkers, office workers and families.