2018, February 16

Recipe of the Month: Pickled cucumber sauce

My mom used to make this Pickled Cucumbers Sauce recipe when I was a kid. It wasn’t really a favorite of mine, because it was green. Logical, right?

I think it was such a repeated dish in our home mainly because in Winter it’s very easy to get bored of what you can eat on the side of meat dishes. Pickled cucumbers were cheap, and we also used to have a veggie garden at my grandparent’s house so we made our own pickles. Especially in Romania, where on the one hand, she grew up in the communist regime and pickled cucumbers were something they were able to find easily, so it was easy to learn how to cook it. On the other hand, even when I was a child, imported goods for having veggies like tomatoes in Winter was only just starting to become a thing.

Of course we can nowadays find mostly anything we want in any time of the year, but something just struck me and I asked mom for this recipe because ever since I started cooking myself, I have definitely discovered previous dislikes have turned into very yummy dishes if I cook them. It’s really interesting how life pans out, isn’t it?

Pickled Cucumber Sauce

5-6 medium sized pickled cucumbers
2 tbsp flour
salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder to taste

Grate the pickled cucumbers.
In a pan add some olive oil and the flour stirring until it’s all combined and not lumpy.

Add the grated cucumbers into the pan and season to taste with the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. When combined, pour chicken stock over it until the cucumbers are fully covered.
(If you don’t have chicken stock, you can also add a chicken stock cube into a glass of water to substitute. I usually do this since I prefer to boil my own chicken stock and I don’t always have it at the ready in the freezer.)

Boil the mixture for about 20 minutes until it turns into a sauce. Keep an eye on the consistency and if needed, add more chicken stock or water.

Serve with basically any type of grilled meat. I usually have it on the side to fried meatballs.

Bon appétit! ;)

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2018, February 9

Skopje’s lovely Oriental influences

As I’ve briefly mentioned before, my boyfriend and I visited Skopje, Macedonia during our Winter holiday. It was amazing! I especially loved discovering Skopje’s lovely oriental influences. We’ve never been to a place even remotely similar to this.

Want to see my pictures and read about it? Come on over to Milliver’s Travels to read my travel article, “Discovering Skopje’s Ottoman Influences”. It is both informative and very colorful.

2018, February 2

The Bohemian Quater Guest House in Skopje, Macedonia

I was so thrilled with Bohemian Quater Guest House in Skopje, Macedonia, I have to write my review of it here as well not only leave it on Booking.com. Hope some of you will find it useful.

Pros:

The place was clean, comfy, cozy and quiet even though there is a large boulevard around the corner. I have trouble sleeping if there’s noise, but had no issues here.

The property is in a perfect location! We could walk basically everywhere – we didn’t use the car once after arriving. One can reach the city center in about 15 minutes, the old bazaar in 20, the mall in 20 minutes, and there are several 24/7 bakeries, pastries shops and groceries around reachable in up to 10 minutes.

The bus stop is reachable in 5 minutes and I was most surprised that any trip (within the city, and even where the bus goes outside of the city, for example to visit Matka Canyon) is 35 Denars ($0,7 at the time of writing this).

The hosts are lovely, they speak English very well, and are knowledgeable, gave us ideas on what to visit, advice on which bus to take, and checked back to see if we needed anything.

A huge plus, I’d say, is arranging our registration and check out at the police station – I wasn’t aware before, but foreigners spending even one night at an address in Macedonia are required to register their place of residence within 24 hours of arrival. The host took care of this and we got to enjoy ourselves.
As far as I heard afterwards, the fine is pretty steep for not being able to present this paper at the state border if asked for it and also results in being banned from the country for a year. I’m happy the host was on top of his legal knowledge.

Cons:

In one place among the property descriptions it says that “Free private parking available on-site”, in other places it only says “Free parking”. I assumed it to be private parking in a garage or yard, but it is street parking.
That said, it is a safe neighborhood and we had no issues leaving our car in front of the property.

Overall we had a lovely time, the property was great and the city is very interesting to explore!

 

PS: If you book a holiday on Booking.com using this link, you’ll get 10% back after your trip. I am not an affiliate, but I can get $15 for referring you, after your stay.
2018, January 26

Over-used YouTube expressions lately

Sometimes while being a very busy bee with house chores, I turn on my laptop, and either have some music playing in the background, or listen to different youtuber channels. I like the occasional make up tips, maybe a vlog or two and I especially enjoy DIY videos and recipes.

However, lately I start getting antsy when I hear youtubers say certain things/expressions. Here are a couple of examples of these pet peeves, in no particular order:

  • “I’m obsessed with x,y,z” – It seems like *everyone* is obsessed with *everything* from floral buttons, colors, lipstick, tank tops and decorative pineapples to working with a certain type of food processor, and everything else in between.
  • “Super natural” – Nope, not for make up tips. It always comes out pronounced as if it were “supernatural.”
  • “If that makes sense/If you get that” – If it didn’t, you wouldn’t include it in a video. That simple.

What expressions turn your radar on, either on Youtube, TV or real life?

2018, January 19

Every Day Matters

After a very nice holiday trip to Skopje, Macedonia, I came home to my diary and started planning my 2018. A dear friend of mine sent me the “Every Day Matters”  illustrated holistic diary created by Dani DiPirro of Positively Present for Christmas.

I suspect my friend thought of this, because on the one hand I’ve been quite depressed for the better half of 2017 after our dear sweet kitten died and pretty much felt like none of my days mattered. (I feel so blessed to have someone like her in my life. Thank you, Trisha!)
On the other hand, she also knows I’ve followed Dani’s 30 day photo challenges yearly since 2011. (Those photo challenges even prompted me to start a photo challenge of my own.)

As it says in the description if it, “the planner not only has plenty of space for daily planning, but also offers inspiring advice on how to make each and every day really matter.” I am looking forward to it being a resource for enriching my daily life, guiding me through a journey of awareness and fulfillment as I’ll go about my everyday activities. Who knows? This might just be the diary/planner I fully fill out.
I’ve only been that disciplined with one other planner thus far in the 30 years of my existence.

For today, I thought to share a list with you. The theme for January is Openness, and the prompt for the first week of the month is a suggestion to write a list of five feel-good surprises from last year. I feel that so much of last year has been spent in grief I definitely didn’t pay much attention to letting happiness find me. It was actually hard to think of five things. I like that this comes first in the planner.

Five feel-good surprises from 2017:

  1. A phone call my boyfriend received to pick up his diploma, which led to us taking a trip to pick it up around my birthday.
  2. Google Maps taking us the wrong way during a road trip, but leading to the most scenic ride through the forest.
  3. Receiving a bike for my birthday – I’ve wanted to buy myself one for the past five years at least, but never got around to it.
  4. Out of a five-people team, being the only one asked to hand over her project work in person at the client’s site in the UK.
  5. Receiving the out-of-the-blue gift that included my Christmas present, this diary.

Now I’m wondering, what was your 2017 like overall? And what are your five feel-good surprises from last year? Do share in the comment section below!

2018, January 12

Recipe of the Month: Broccoli & Chicken Lasagna

I wanted to try making homemade lasagna for about a year and a half now. The ingredients have been bought, the time slot allocated for cooking. Then, I ended up making some kind of stew instead. The box of lasagne was still there when I did a big cupboard clean-out two weeks ago.
I decided to just give it a go. However, I wanted something lighter, so I didn’t follow a traditional recipe.

Broccoli and Chicken Lasagna

one box of lasagne
500 ml milk
100 g flour
100 g butter
450 g broccoli
400 g chicken breast
150 g Parmesan cheese
seasonings to taste – salt, pepper, garlic powder, allspice, paprika

Melt the butter in a skillet, add the flour and slowly stir in the warmed milk. When it get to a medium-thick consistency (basically a Béchamel sauce), stir in the Parmesan.

Cut the chicken breast and the broccoli into small cubes. Start with cooking the chicken first in a skillet adding the seasonings to taste – I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, allspice, and paprika. I also added a splash of white wine. When the chicken is almost done, add the broccoli and cook until they’re both done.

Place a pot of water to boil and when it’s done you can start assembling the lasagna. Place each lasagne separately into the boiling water and leave it for about a minute. You will be doing this all the while you’re assembling the lasagna itself.

In a buttered baking tin spread one layer of sauce, place on top of it a layer of lasagne to cover the bottom of the tin, spread a layer of sauce on the lasagne and then a layer of broccoli with chicken. Place another layer of lasagne, then continue the same way building up and repeating the layers (sauce, lasagne, broccoli and chicken) until all the ingredients are gone.

Place in a preheated over at 180C for about 20 minutes. Serve hot from the oven.

Bon appétit! ;)

2018, January 5

My 2017 in books

In 2017, I challenged myself to read 25 books and made it one book past that, to 26 instead. It was a true challenge as unexpected circumstances got me depressed and in no mood to do anything, let alone sit down and read. So what I did read was both for fun and for work and barely anything stands out.

The total page count comes to 4417, with the longest book being “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris at 707 pages.

My top favorite reads of 2017 are:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert – I loved my friend Janel Gradowski’s, “Facing your fears”guest blog post inspired by “Big Magic” so much, that I looked forward to reading the book last year. I actually received it for my birthday in May 2016, except in Romanian which I didn’t care for, so it was really great to finally dive into it in English. I can honestly say I loved the book and Janel’s impressions of it are so very true.
  • “House Sitting Secrets Revealed: Learn to excel at house sitting from a successful full-time house sitter” by Crystal Gabrielle – This is one very long title, but I absolutely adored the book. I have a friend who house sits on a regular basis and I’ve been asking her questions sometimes, and have to admit was at times jealous of her being able to visit so many nice places and explore those cities while she’s house sitting. I loved the book because it explains so well what house sitting means, it is full of examples, resources and of truly great tips and advice drilling down to the specifics for those who wish to pursue this as a side-hustle or even as a full-time endeavor, while still remaining an easy read.
  •  “That Was the Year” by Jenny Bravo – I looked forward to reading the newest novel in the TATM series which I bought right after it was published in December 2016. It took me back to my younger years, it was a somewhat frenetic read, but a good read about friendship with romance thrown in, which is how life turns out to be so often.

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2017 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

I am challenging myself to read 25 books in 2018. Here’s hoping it’ll be much easier than it was last year.

Here’s to a great 2018, filled with lots of reading!

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