Summer time thoughts

Summer is here and many of us may have kids at home for a longer period of time. While it can be tiring at some point – where do they get all their energy from?! – it is as well a valuable time without having to bother about school stuff, long school days and a time to be able to just be.

To just be – not having a full on entertainment but to take time to really slow down, to reconnect. At the same time a time to get bored and to be alone. A lot of us – adults and kids – may struggle with that. After all being alone means to be alone with your thoughts, your mind and feelings.

The normal day to day hectic and chaos keeps us and our mind busy – even though we may say we spend time alone, it often is not really alone as we tend to be ‘alone but busy’. During long holidays, when it all slows down and friends are away that is when we may feel a bit more alone. And it can be scary and worrying at times. But it is a great opportunity, too!

An opportunity to really recharge, to think and reflect, to get creative and productive. 

Use this precious time to be alone and not having to rush! And purposefully stop to always have the need to entertain the kids. For both, adults and kids, it is important to be alone and to get bored! At my kids` school the following is written at one of the stairs:

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
– Ellen Parr –

Give yourself and your kids space and time to be bored again! Only then you can reconnect with yourself. See where this may lead you and your kids – you may be surprised!

And if you have these long weeks of holidays ahead of you where you will be in charge to entertain your kids and the location and/or weather may not always play towards your favour don’t panic! Here are some great links with all sorts of activities; kids and adults may be well entertained! Thank you “Miss Ellen” for sharing these sources with me! 😉

http://artfulparent.com
Simple ways to fill your family’s time with art and creativity!

http://nurturestore.co.uk
Creative kids learning

and a source aiming more towards the younger ones
http://myboredtoddler.com
Activities and craft ideas to keep the toddlers busy

And last but not least – Pinterest obviously has a vast array of ideas, too!

Here you go – to a Happy Summer with lots of time to be bored, entertained, joyful and connected!

Have a lovely summer

AK

Summertime thoughts 

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Colours of Life

Life has all sorts of colours, bright, shiny, dark and dull. To live a truly colourful life we need to allow us to live through all the various shades.

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Aim to make your life as colourful as you can. Don’t hold back!

Accept the darker shades, life through and feel them, no matter how painful.

Embrace the bright and shiny shades, cherish them, feel free and don’t hold back. Let them give you additional energy.

And in between, enjoy the calmer shades; use these phases to be at ease, to breathe and to just be.

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Banana cake

Summer time, often as well ‘quickly brown banana time’!
Quick and easy banana cakes can help to get rid of the ‘ugly brown ones’ nobody wants to eat!

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I have no idea where I got this recipe from, it is glued into my recipe book, hand written. But all you may need to know is that it is easy, moist and tasty!

Banana cake

125gr butter
150gr fine sugar (I find 100gr enough though)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Melt all three ingredients in a pot. In the meantime:

Beat 1 egg, mash 2 (over) ripe bananas and mix it together.

In another bowl mix the dry ingredients such as 190r flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder.

Then mix the melted butter mix and the egg-banana  mix into the flour mixture. Finally add about 60ml milk for a creamy but not liquid consistency.

You can easily mix this with a wooden spoon, no machine needed!

Pour the mixture into a buttered bread pan.
We usually sprinkle as well some cinnamon-sugar mix on top.
And then bake at 160deg C for approx 35min.
Check with a toothpick that the cake is baked through.

Now – go and get rid of your brown bananas, without throwing them away!

Happy baking and have a nice day

AK

 

 

Summer time – moving time

Do you notice all the small trucks and the “ritsch-ratsch” sound when you walk down the streets these days? Yes, it summer time and that means a lot of people are on the move again, packing up their belongings into boxes and arriving at new destinations and unpacking them all. It is especially predominant in cities with a lot of expatriates. We surely live in such a city again. It is a bustle of coming and going out there these weeks!

Packing it all up to either move to another country or to return to your home country is often not easy and at times painful. We may regret leaving the country / city we called home behind but most often it is the friendships that are painful to say good-bye to. This special relationship you shared. We are away from our own families and depend even more so on the people around us and in such cases friendships often go deep and personal in a very short timeframe.

Four years ago I posted this image on my private blog and at times like this, when the heart is heavy it is as well important to focus and embrace what privilege we have had:

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There is no doubt about it – seeing friends leaving, or leaving yourself is painful but embrace that you met such great people that made your stay loveable!

Having said that, we are all realistic and know that friendships vary. And while every friendship should be cherished they vary in depth and they might not all continue, despite our best intentions. With some the contact may stay on, some more and some less regular. In some cases friendship might fade over time for no special reason, often live just gets in between. Some friendships may even deepen through the distance and continue over the years to come all across the world!

But remember, no matter what, all kinds of friendships whether they stay or fade away are special. The person was important during a special part of your live!

As for us, we moved last autumn, so we are not on the move this time. But this is for all of you out there who are moving or have to say farewell and good-bye to somebody dear!
And for all the people that crossed my path over the years, that I had the privilege of meeting and who are now spread all over the world!

Good friends are like stars.
You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there!
(old saying)

I wish you all a smooth transition, lots of new adventures, enjoy the ride

– and to great friends!

 

All the best,

AK

Summerly – Lemon Pesto

Pesto – a favorite dish here in the house, whether homemade or bought and pesto pasta always makes an easy school lunch!

And while I am happy my kids love it I got a bit bored by the same recipe over and over so I looked for something new, something more summerly and found a fantastic Lemon Basil Pesto! It turns out to be more like a paste, not as  liquid as normal pesto, but it tasted delicious and was easy to make – and on top it has a healthy (green) ingredient some of my family members would not eat if they could see it! We all went for seconds and thirds with this dish!

Recipe found under all recipes – have a look and go for it, it was fab!

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Light Lemon Pesto Pasta 

Here the quick and easy instructions:

  1. Cook Pasta or Spaghetti as per instruction.

    In the meantime:

  2. Put cubed Romano cheese in the bowl of a food processor; process until coarsely grated, about 30 seconds.
    Put garlic into the food processor and process until the cheese and garlic are combined.
    Add spinach, basil, walnuts (optional), lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt; process until the mixture comes together into a thick paste.
  3. Keep the food processor running, drizzle olive oil into the mixture.
    Continue processing until the oil is integrated smoothly.
  4. Pour sauce over spaghetti and toss to coat.

Makes as well a great topping on fresh bread, or for grilled baguette etc! You may want to double the size so you have enough 😉

Happy mixing!

Have a nice day

AK

A day with a twist – sharing and writing

I recently went to an official launch of a friend`s webpage called Sharing Seeds. Together with a friend of hers they started this project: “Life is a series of interwoven stories, not a set of concepts. Sharing seeds collects contributions from all over the world because any kind of story can become a seed of inspiration, peace, knowledge, comforting. Sharing seed’s goal is to gather, connect and spread multicultural ways of looking at this confusing and complex reality around us, always from a positive perspective.”

It goes in line with my ‘at ease’, reaching out, helping and inspiring others – and as well to make them laugh, smile and simply just be. And while the idea itself was already interesting another part of this launch got my attention, too. We received a brief introduction about writing and writing Haiku poems! I suddenly remembered again that I used to write poems back when I was a teenager and heartbroken – no one ever read them and I will definitely spare you with those!

Coming back to the writing part. We received some basic writing rules based on Nathalie Goldberg and her book “Writing down the Bones”. Just listening to them I was already intrigued but trying them first hand there and then and seeing, respectively listening, to the poems all the other participants wrote was a powerful experience. And who knows, some of us may continue to really sit and write now and then.

Here a short overview of the rules – using pen and paper, not the computer!

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  1. Keep your hand moving, do not stop.
    If you stop you will start to analyse, correct, and restrict yourself.
    You will not write your initial thoughts.
    We set the time for 10minutes to just let it flow.
  2. Lose control
    Don’t worry if it is correct, appropriate or polite at this stage, in this moment.
    You do not publish this version.
  3. Be specific
    If you write about a tree, name the tree, tell how it looks.
  4. Don’t think
    Let your first thought speak it has the most energy.
  5. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar
    At this moment just let it flow.
  6. You are free to write the worst junk
    At this stage you are allowed to do anything.
  7. Go for the extreme/awkward
    Face the fear even if (or I may add especially when) the heart beats hard.
    It is ok to be different, be aggressive, let it out.

Those are only the first initial steps. The steps before you start the correction, tweaking, adjustments, etc. This is the part that gets the creativity flowing!

Nathalie Goldberg talks about one hand being the “creator” the other the “editor”. So allow the creator to speak loud and clear before the editor sets in to analyse and correct it all!

For me, this experience left me with some ideas not only on how to tackle my own writing but as well on what a powerful way this can be to sort ideas, feeling and thoughts.
Just for myself. Not all that is written down needs to be seen!
But this ‘letting it flow’ without analysing what you write for 10min – so simple! Yet you can dig deep, and even open up some creative channels. A truly interesting experience!

Go and have a try!

Before I finish up with my own first Sharing Seeds poem I want share something I recently heard at a seminar with Divya Marie Kato (When in doubt draw) that goes in line with all this.

“Pencil and paper –
not just pencil and paper but an invitation.
An invitation to reflect, inspire and express.”

As for our own 10-minutes writing on the day we could chose one of the the two subjects “I think of” or “Where is your home”. Here is mine:

Where is your home” by Ann-Katrin van Schie

I do not want to be defined by my passport.
Home is so much more!
Home – is where I feel at ease.
Home is where I feel my heart beat.
Home is where I can be me.
Home is where I can be free.
Home is where I feel loved,
Home is where I can just be.
Home  – is not defined by my passport
Home is within me!

Have a lovely day,

AK

 

 

 

That Sugar book

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I came across this book as part of my current study course. And while we mostly tend to think about fats as the evil weight gaining ingredient, sugar is right up there, too. And not only for weight gain but many other negative impacts on our body.

Having said that, this is not a blog about the evil sugar. I am not a person to condemn sugar. I love sweets, chocolate, cookies and apart from my own likes, I do not want to raise my children being afraid of eating “something wrong”. I do not want to make them worried about what to eat, what not to eat and overanalyse their food. I do not want to make them scared of eating.

But I do want to achieve that they are aware and are able to make good choices.

What is important to me is that kids grow up being aware of what is healthy and what and why some things are unhealthy. Yet knowing that it is ok to eat unhealthy things now and then or at special occasions as well to overindulge in food. In short, if kids like to snack on vegetables and fruits, enjoy home cooked meals, have a balanced diet, are active and realise that one does not have to eat a full bag of sweets but a small bowl will do, too, then I think – and hope – a good foundation is laid. To me everything in moderation is ok. (Obviously this is the case as long as they all stay healthy; any medical issues and it may all change!).

Having said that,  I want to come back to the book. Initially I loved the idea of the book and the awareness of the danger of sugar. But on a second thought and reading more and more this book is too extreme for me. The author – the ‘sugar guy’ – is somebody who excluded sugar from his diet before the test already, he avoids it as much as he can, I would say he condemns sugar. This extreme, it may work for some, but not for me.

But what I do like about the book and what at times frustrates me is how often we get fooled by the industry with the hidden sugars. And how fake so called healthy food and snacks are, while we may think we make a good choice. The industry treats us like idiots! And this actually really pisses me off. There should not be a reason to add loads of sugar into muesli bars, fruit bars, low fat yogurts, kids yogurts, juices, crackers, bread, sauces, soy milk, almond milk, baked beans, ketchup, so called ‘diet drinks’ and at times even into cold cuts and so much more.

When we eat sweets, chocolate, cookies and drink sodas etc we make a conciouos choice and know we consume something that includes a lot of sugar. But it annoys me to see that sugar is added into almost everything today, and at times, in unbelievable amounts! Have you tasted the fruit snacks, muesli bars, cereals, kids yogurts,  and whatever else is out there?  Bah, it is just sweet, sweet and sweet. It annoys me to not be able to go out and be able to grab a health quick snack or cereal which is not filled with sugar.

And that is something I want to give awareness to, especially to my kids. And for this part I give a big credit to the book – the hidden sugars! Look at some cereals  promoting their healthiness as they are made with wholewheat, oats etc etc – or so called ‘healthy’ drinks/sodas and then have a look at the sugar amount – bang! Every healthy part just goes down the drain. The industry is fooling us and there are a lot of people that will not be aware of the hidden sugar sources, respectively the disguised sugars just by naming it cane sugar, syrup, concentrated juice, fructose etc!

The book is based on the movie That Sugar Film. Would I watch the film with my kids? No, definitely not, it is too extreme. Do I want to take the core message about hidden sugars in so called healthy foods and snacks and make my family more aware of it? Yes, definitely.

One way, and as it seems the only way these days to avoid the hidden sugars is to cook and bake more at home. At least you then know what you put in and you can control the sugar amount. Even some recipes these days just list too much sugar, I often reduce that by half already. Especially quick snacks for on the way or school are an issue and I will try to add more of those under my recipes the next weeks. For now you can have a look into the home made granola bars and oats and apple muffins. Adjust the sugar to your liking, as I said I often reduce it by half already and instead spice it up with other flavours such as cinnamon. And please share if you have some good snack recipes on hand.

I do not want a ‘sweet-less’ world, but it would  be nice if the industry would stop fooling us with hidden sugars! Stop adding more and more sugar to almost everything out there and stop spoiling the natural less sweet palate of babies and young children!

Make healthy snacks and food really healthy again!

In that regards,
Have a sweet day,

bye AK