Friday, December 8, 2017

Holiday treats and snacks that won’t make you feel guilty

I’m a big snacker, always was, likely always will be. Holiday season is a special challenge to me when the days get colder, and the evenings cozyer. The big question is: What treats won’t make me feel super guilty after consuming?
Its not really the weight that gets me in panic mode. I am for sure no health guru-follower that focuses religiously on clean eating.
But lets face it, the common sweets and bakery around Christmas and other holidays, are anything but a cleansing experience for our bodies.
No matter what country and culture we live in, no matter if religious or not, celebrating events or not; one thing we all have in common is: We love to eat and please our mind with yummy treats that feel like a gentle stroke over the head. Well done, you are an okay person, now enjoy my sweetness
The only problem is, that most of these short moments of pleasure immediately turn into an inner conflict of the two parties happiness and guilt.
I challenge you to stop feeling guilty and be kinder to yourself. To truly enjoy your holidays and the fact that there are plenty of good things out there that won’t be as unhealthy as eating mindlessly anything ‘bad’.

1. Step: Reducing Sugar

Getting completely sugar-free is maybe too much to ask around the holidays. I too enjoy a few sweet things now and then. Like Cranberry Shortbreads for example.
On my Youtube-channel, you can find a play list, titled 'Vintage Dinner / Retro Food Recipes' and it also contains a video tutorial for this recipe. Or you might go to the recipe Cranberry Shortbread Cookis with Honey to see how quick and easy you’ll get some soft cookies for an extra-yummy treat.
In the video, I used Xylitol as a substitute sweetener. Xylitol is an often used sugar-alternative today and I too have used it in recipes before. That I rely on honey now, is simply because I am not entirely sure about the health benefits, industrialized process and safety, as there seem to be no long-term- studies about it. Caution! To pets, this substance can be lethal, even in small amounts. So please be very careful when using Xylitol in your home. Otherwise it might be still better than using refined regular sugar in these baked goods.

Honey and sugar are both carbohydrates composed primarily of glucose and fructose. But honey is more complex and contains dextrin, a type of starchy fiber. Which makes organic honey my choice of sweetener over sugar for this recipe.

Try also: Banana bread with oatmeal, avocado chocolate pudding, zwieback with honey or my favorite „Apple CinnamonQuark Rolls“!

Nuts & Berries

It might sound boring at first, but believe me, nuts and berries can be super satisfying if you give them a try, instead of the chocolate bar or soft drinks lurking everywhere to be your comfy food.
Plus they are so beneficial to our health, since they're loaded with antioxidants (like blueberries), vitamins and are an overall great source of fiber, protein, magnesium, selenium, vitamin E etc.
When you're not allergic, they sure won't leave you unsatisfied.

nuts, honey & cranberries

2. Step: Reduce the „bad“ ingredients in spicy treats

I can let go of a lot of things when they‘re clearly not beneficial to my health. After all, if learned early in my life that no short moment of pleasure is worth dealing with headaches, stomach problems or worse.
There is just one weak spot that I always reach when it comes to spicy treats: Potato chips.
For years I‘ve tried different sorts of alternatives, but always stumbled over a pack of regular chips and felt bad after finishing the bag within a few minutes, watching a movie. To get that crispy highlight, I went through the jungle of alternatives including homemade vegetable chips.
It didn’t work for me.
Recently though, I discovered organic chickpea crisps that I am already addicted to.
There are several kinds of chickpea and hummus crisps that reach from garlic / Italian spice flavours to classics like paprika and vinegar.
To me, one of the best discoveries for the munchies, ever.

Try also: Hommeade whole wheat pizza bread, chilli ajwain biscuits, garlic breadsticks, or broccoli buns 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fur Style in Winter

Faux fur jacket by QED London

Finding coats that match our idea of a retro, or at least a little glamorous look, can be pretty tricky. I know that there are times when you need to be reasonable and wear something that simply keeps you warm during extreme temperatures. But a quilted jacket is truly not my cup of tea.

To achieve a stylish, maybe even glamorous look and stay warm at the same time, fur comes sure in handy. But real fur is something I wouldn’t buy new.
So I love to at least cherish the older fur pieces of my grandmother that, I inherited.
I was often asked what I think about fur in general. it’s a controversy for sure. And for good reasons.
Although I do not have a problem with vintage fur. It is already there and there is no way to undo it.
So in my opinion, it is nice when people cherish what is existent and wear it with love.
The argument, that wearing it advertises a common acceptance is understandable, but not relevant in our society. Because if people want to wear the real thing, they’ll do so. And no one will convince them otherwise. Same the other way around: If you don’t want to wear fur, you won’t start just because you saw someone wearing a mink coat.
It’s about our personal sense for the sensitive subjects.
There are many voices that talk about today’s improved fur industry, which I honestly cannot agree with. But I hope that our conscious mind, our empathy and our gut feeling tells us what to do, to avoid more suffering in this world than already happening.
One might argue that we all need to stop eating meat, wearing leather shoes etc. and I get the discussions, but won’t engage in such. Because at the end, its again what the individual feels right with and that can’t be forced by another person’s ideals.

Fur is not a life-long item.
The longevity of fur can be quite well, as long as its stored and cared for the way it should.
But it will one day be less good enough to wear. So what to do?!
You can donate your old fur pieces to pet shelters. Or coats and jackets you want to lent go of, may find a new owner in a homeless person, that may be in an area of extreme temperatures. If the fur coats is still okay and keeps warm, there will always be a need for it. Unfortunately. But you don‘t need to throw it simply away.

I also bought fur pieces in second-hand shops or wore mine. But as for newer items, I love to rely on faux fur of different kinds. Some are less warm. Real fur of course does the trick when you’re in a temperature range of Siberia. On those days, a faux product needs to be truly good and well-made to reach the same effect. Its also often more expensive than lighter versions of fake fur.
So everyone needs to find their best way with their possibilities and cherish what we can get. To make the winter feel cozy, fun and warm.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

My favorite ideas for last minute Christmas presents

It’s that time of the year again. When the lights are dimmed, the cozy blanket is draped on the sofa and here and there the scent of sweet bakery delights the nose.
It’s also the time of pure hysteria, mini-nervous breakdowns, hustling, over-consuming, over-eating and fighting about nonsense.

Christmas always arrives very suddenly and unpredicted.

Children feel those butterflies in their stomach when impatiently waiting for Santa to arrive.
I remember that excitement vividly and with joy. Grown-ups though, often panic already when the first ads on TV announce the inevitable. The phase in life that gets your blood pressure boiling and pushes your bank account towards nirvana.
Finding a last minute present for someone you truly like and don’t want to disappoint, by giving them a coupon for a facial (please don’t), is one of the tougher ones to deal with.
Finding something for someone who never seems to need anything, is certainly a reason to recourse to a voucher.
But let’s say this particular person is someone who could absolutely use something nice. It should also obviously come from the heart, as well as be thoughtful and affordable.

I’ve relied on a few ideas in the past, that have not been a total disaster and sincerely delighted the presentee. First of all we want to know: What are the interests and passions of the person Santa is going to endow in your name?
Everyone has an interest in something. Sometimes its obvious, other times you have to dig deeper.
A friend of mine seemed to be one of the tougher cookies with no particular passion for anything she didn’t have already. But she loved Downton Abbey.
So, at one point it might look thoughtless or superficial, but the truth is, we all enjoy things more when they really give us something in everyday life.

And what about kids and pets?

If you’re dealing with a person who is a parent to a child or a fur baby, you might want to think about a little basket of baby food. Maybe even homemade? Think of “Country Baby”, the hit food in movie Baby Boom. For a pet, the basket could contain yummy treats, toys, or a chew bone.
Just don’t confuse theses two.

When the person is not a big, or a picky reader

What about their passion in form of colourful coffee table books?

A novel is a wonderful gift, but the truth is:  When you’re not entirely sure that the story or the particular author positively strikes a chord in the reader, its likely going to end up deep down in the dark woods of a book shelf.
On the other hand, when the book is not asking for a lot of attention, but just presents a beautiful collection of the person’s interests, it may be exactly what raises a smile from the one you want to please.

DIY gifts and the ugly truth

I know, do-it-yourself gifts are personal. They come from the heart, or at least emerge from pure desperation when no stone has been left unturned. But let’s be honest: A necklace made of dried fruits or a self-stapled pillow case from a sweater, is likely going to be a challenge for the friendship.
If you however decide to go for such a present, go for the simpler ideas, but make it right.
You could get beautiful jars, or glass bottles with a pretty shape and form, or color. Then you recreate them to bath-goodies that are filled with bath-additives.
Also ornaments of all kinds can be beautifully made. But maybe you want to go for decoration items that can be used over the year, such as something light for summertime.

Vintage items

This one can be difficult, since many old items in good condition, can have their price. So if we’re going for a very affordable idea, we could look for a wallet, or a pretty purse. An old silk scarf can be a beautiful present. As well as a vintage frame, big or small, that the person can maybe use for their dear photo-memories.

Finally, an unconventional gift-idea

USB sticks. Yes, you’ve read it right.
Think about a fun stick in a nice color or a simple one. Put the most precious photo-memories you have with this person on it. Or you might want to store some music. It could also be interesting internet articles and websites the person might enjoy. There are a lot of things and inspiration you can give in form of that one. And after all, they can use the stick itself over and over again.

So, what do you think? Is it really worth flipping out, or should we spend this time of the year with a little less fear and a little more humour and love? I think that would be nice.
To all of you, I hope you’ll have a beautiful December and holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, or not. Be happy, healthy and wise! (Don’t make your friend think they need a facial)

Nice wrapping makes everything more appealing. I love little boxes and bags.
Coffeetable books
USB stick in form of a little Santa
Dress by Paul Costelloe

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Flower Dress in Winter

Shopping while it’s cold and damp outside always means to comb through racks and stands full of clothes in black and grey. Light black, deep black, mousy grey, stone grey. And while I love these shades too, it’s not exactly uplifting to spend and entire (and in Germany quite long) period of winter.
I was truly overjoyed to come across a few retail items recently, that makes the greyish soup out there much more spicy to me. One of them is my new dress from H&M that delights with lovely colors and a cozy wearing comfort. I get my retro-feeling and yet am I able to combine black tights, my vintage coat, plus even  my old and dear wool cap with it!
All in one this is one of my go to outfits for an everyday-elegant and fun look these days.  

Vintage purse in matching color

Saturday, November 25, 2017

French inspired sixties style

Bonjour Paris! Although my love for retro looks around the 1930s to the e50s is likely to be a never ending love story, an excursion into other decades is always fun. Recently, my love for France and the French culture has inspired me for this very easy to achieve, cozy, yet fresh look.
France with its capital Paris, has at this point a population of more than 67 million people. It became a republic in 1792, after the French revolution.
Next to the beautiful language, the wonderful food, exciting arts and more, France is also known for a beauty culture that involves natural beauty, aired with subdued elegance and classy chic.
That being said, a little color was allowed for my style, since the sixties were all about big eyes and I liked a bit of blue for this ensemble.
Another thing I love about France is the celebrated togetherness in gastronomy and culinary art and traditions. For that, the French gastronomy was even awarded by the UNESCO.
Until the mid-1800's, the French language as we know it, was merely spoken in the Paris area. Regional languages were much more common in the rest of the country.
Thinking of the always classy Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot and other icons of France, a sixties look as an homage to that era and the esprit those French ladies ooze, it’s quite fun to be a 60s madame once in a while.

Vintage outfit: Skirt with silky flower patterns, grey-blue tights, blue top, silk scarf and a Japanese vintage coat in rosy beige. The shoes are originally vintage too, from the 1960s

Subdued Makeup with semi-dramatic 60s eyes with blue eyeshadow, peachy blush and lipstick.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A walk in the woods and why I quit running

A girlfriend recently told me that she doesn’t like to go for walks, because it doesn’t seem to make as much sense as using the time for sports. Like Yoga, or runs.
At least- as she said- there should be some action. Some muscle training, sweat and exhaustion. Otherwise you’re just shuffling around with no serious ambition.
I beg to differ. One thing I love about this fresh season, is to calm down on a walk through the woods and inhale all the beauty that fall delivers on a golden platter.
While jogging, I used to focus on a thousand other things instead of just letting my mind wander.
The correct cycle of breathing, the speed- to avoid stitches. The ground, to avoid a broken ankle.
I know how people who run frequently, praise the benefits of jogging. But I never truly felt that it was the right thing for me. Sometimes it was impossible to place my foots exactly right, so I wouldn’t suffer from pain either in my knees, or shins. (The latter is a real joy, once it’s permanent.)

Walking, on the other hand, is beneficial in several ways to me:
My breathing cycle completely is in line with my movements. The mind wanders, the eye catches the details surrounding me. And the walk becomes a meditative journey.
Even scientists have recently found out, that walking might be actually healthier and can improve your longevity, more that intense jogging and overly exhausting exercise can.
To me, that was almost a no-brainer, since I don’t believe that a too extreme workout regimen is good for the heart either. Researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign found that a regularly too intense activity increases levels of certain inflammatory proteins that can allow viruses to thrive.
That explained to me why I might have been catching a cold very easily and more often during long periods of prolonged exercises.
Also the common belief that increased weight loss is a safe result due to intense sports, seems to be outdated as well.
You could work the heck out of your body while sticking to a bad diet, and not much would happen. 

For the record: I would never say that running in general is bad. For some people, it‘s the best workout and they feel perfectly fine and healthy.
Exercise are vital for a healthy life and there is no way around it, if you really want to keep up a healthy lifestyle.
Generally though, I guess there is no such thing as a perfect workout for everyone.
We sometimes have to adjust our methods, and exercise the way our body thrives on the movements. Not punish ourselves for that one cookie too much.
A healthy way of exercising means to me, a healthy way of thinking too. Be gentle with your body, so you can still enjoy sports without the ultimate exhaustion, that sure isn‘t always a sign for the healthiest way.
I will do some Yoga this week, since rain is expected for a few days. And when the sun visits us again, I‘m out for the next walk. Wandering towards a happy place, physically and mentally.

Entire outfit: True vintage 1950s-1960s

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why not dress like adults?

Once upon a time (don‘t you just love that phrase), there were women in costumes with matching purses, gloves and pumps; just pretty enough for the touch of elegance, yet comfortable during the day. Men dressed in suits, topped off by stylish hats and coats. Or enjoyed wearing the occasional Hawaiian shirt. And there were the children. Distinguishably dressed in neat children’s clothes and sometimes the cute weekend-dresses.
Fast forward to 2017.
The question of whether or not someone should dress ‘age-appropriate’ does not only seem to vanish. The sheer thought of perhaps looking too old in an ensemble, almost solely influences the choice of style.
Not that women and men haven’t ask themselves, or others these questions before.
“Honey, do I look bigger in this skirt”, or “Darling, the brown suit makes me look like my own father”, was sure occasionally brought to the table.
But there is very little to no evidence, that people tried to emulate the looks of children to the degree it happens now. Every decade, changes occur. Sometimes trends emerge from protesting a societal guideline, sometimes they seem to pop up like another coffee shop. And at one point, becoming child-like has started a style evolution that raised to a disturbing level.
We all know that the beauty industry never gets tired of explaining to us, why a few more wrinkles could mean the end of the world. It’s obvious; it’s an old hat. We try to resist and yet treat ourselves with overpriced creams.
But what about the fashion industry that is apparently not on the boat with women and men who don’t see aging as their worst nightmare?
I recently stumbled into a shop and went through a pile of pants that appeared to be made for twelve year olds, when a salesgirl suddenly told me I’d look much younger with a shorter dress, instead of the pencil skirt I was wearing.
The big question I’d like to ask anybody who carries the burden of telling other people without warning, how they could look younger (less makeup, different hair etc.) is: Why am I supposed to CARE if I look older?!

Because I don’t. Seriously. I want to look colourful, or fun. Interesting, elegant or ladylike. Competent or neat. But the desire to look many years younger than my age, seems like such a waste of time and energy.
The struggle of trying to squeeze another year of youth out of squeezing myself into skinny jeans and nude makeup, can be tiring and is ultimately not worth pursuing.
Because not getting older means no progress. No liberation. No journey.
It means to follow a group of people that you’ve already passed. It means you’re telling younger folks constantly, that getting older is a negative development and the cure for that is to dress like a toddler. Put on fun things like bobble caps, windcheaters that look too tight, and accumulate a collection of t-shirts with hollow slogans on them. If you want to round up the picture, just talk like someone who hasn’t yet been in the third grade yet and you may come across a bit stupid, but definitely younger.
Items that look cute on a sixteen year old, doesn’t necessarily have the same effect on a woman of forty. It’s like putting on a too small blouse in order to look thinner.
It doesn’t work.
One crucial element gets lost in these playground- looks: The pride in getting older. You made another year and another one. A privilege, even in this time and age. Denied to too many. And a treasure to cherish.
I am not a little girl anymore and I am happy about that. When I see young children, I hope they’re happy at this time in their lives. And I hope they’ll one day know, that aging may be a challenge, but there is no shame in it. Dress like a grown-up and enjoy the ride.

Winterstyle with 1960s jacket and skirt