Archive for November, 2011

2011, November 30

Estrella’s ~ Seasonal Photo Challenge ~

This post is pretty much the transcript of my thoughts (only, you know, in a slightly more orderly fashion by now) regarding something that is very new to me, but also something I feel compelled to try.

gratitude photo challenge

I liked the Positively Present’s 30 day photo challenge so much in November 2011, that even as I snapped pics of different things on Dani’s list, I kept thinking of starting a photo challenge of my own. So… here it goes:

To make it more manageable because I found that in some cases I needed more time to take the desired photo, and because taking daily photos of one certain thing is, well, a little bit too challenging, I’ve decided on:
a 10 day monthly challenge which will add up to a 30 day seasonal challenge.
Each season will he divided into its pertaining months which will have in turn one theme and ten suggestions.

For now, let’s focus on the month ahead and I’ll update you by the end of December with a more elaborated plan for the rest of Winter, and then the rest of the seasons.
On this page right here, you’ll be able to check for the upcoming themes/suggestions, updates and more information at any given time in the future.

Now let’s leap into:

Winter December

Winter: “In the Holiday Spirit” December

Holidays, they remind us of the way we should act each day, but don’t. Let’s get into the holiday spirit and appreciate more the beauty all around us throughout December.

  • Christmas tree
  • Santa’s workshop and/or gifts
  • Carols, bells, angels
  • Home decorations
  • Love
  • Christmas tree ornaments
  • Favorite holiday food and/or drink; festive dinner table
  • City decorations
  • Walk photo (go for a walk and take a picture of what ever catches your attention most: the view, the path, a leaf, shop window, etc.)
  • Fireworks (even if New Years is technically a new month)

If you’re in need of extra suggestions:

  • Santa, Sleigh, Season’s motif dishes, Ribbon, Candles, Children playing/unwrapping gifts/etc.

To start things off, I’ve added this month’s logo to this Estrella’s Seasonal Photo Challenge Facebook album which I will update at the beginning of January before blogging about what my photo challenge in December looked like.

Hope you’ll be interested in this quest of capturing the world on camera, the seasons around you, appreciating the little things we might miss. Hope you’ll be eager to sometimes be or at least act fearless and snap photos when you wouldn’t, to embrace present-ness.
And I hope you’ll enjoy the challenge as much as I enjoyed the one I did this past month.

I suppose I’m getting better at leaping and trusting that the net will appear. Will you jump (and take photos) with me?


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2011, November 28

During the month of gifts

I had a jump start on the month of gifts. In October, along with my love letters I attached/sent some small tokens of my affection.
But this post isn’t about my covering all the bases in one “hit” ;)
This post is about how during the month of gifts:

– I (re)noticed how the gifts that matter most, are the seemingly unnoticeable ones, the unseen, the ones we don’t consider as tangible gifts.
Like the gift of spending time with someone, truly listening, being grateful and showing it, going shopping though you dislike it and not rolling your eyes when it takes longer than anticipated, showing up, a compliment, understanding.
Like the gift of a touch, a smile, holding a door open, not bothering even though you’d like attention (leaving someone to just be and write), offering to help, a hug, a kiss just because, a shoulder to cry on, being there. 

– I also noticed how acting, immediately if possible, on my loving impulses brings more joy and gives me an invaluable gift as well as to the ones I surprise.

– I loved and am so grateful to have been able to be on the gift giving end, and am thrilled being on the receiving end of the thank you notes I got/get back.

Yes, Love is a gift that keeps giving <3

2011, November 27

Recipe of the month: Easy Mushroom Casserole

This is one of my favorite recipes as far as casseroles go. I often prepare this when wanting to empty out my fridge.

page mushroom casserole

Mushroom Casserole

2 cans mushrooms
5-6 eggs
1 small onion
bacon, ham, sausage, salami, etc.
(mostly eyeball the amounts according to your need)

Chop the onion, garlic, mushrooms and  bacon, ham, sausage, salami, etc. (what ever you have left over in your fridge) and then braise them in a bit of oil for a few minutes (preferably in a larger pot, that way you won’t need to wash two when you’re done).

After braising is done, beat the eggs, combine with milk, add it to the mix and then add crumbled bread. Mix well.

Transfer the mixture into a buttered pan, sprinkle cheese on top and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes on 150-180C.

Tip: serve with Baby Spinach salad with Mandarin Oranges and Red Onion

Bon appétit!

2011, November 23

Mysteries of Life

One of the kids I’m tutoring got this as his homework the other day, to list ten mysteries of Life. Let me tell you, we had to do some thinking – especially as he was sort of missing the point of what a mystery is.

It got me thinking for a few days after that though, and here’s the result, a list of mysteries which puzzle me sometimes.

  1. Why there is no real answer to the question “Why?” – I’m sure you’ve also noticed that once asked, it can go on forever.
  2. How Love, Friendship, Hatred, and etc., in one word Life, really “works” – while the rules keep changing, minute by minute.
  3. What time is – I’d dare you to fully explain it to me in less than 100 words and omitting the use of the term “time”.
  4. How something can be so “right” and so “wrong” at the same time.
  5. If there ever will be such a thing as something truly “unconditional” – in the back of our mind, at least unconsciously, I think there’s always a slight glimmer of condition behind our actions and feelings.

Let me know in the comments below: what puzzles you? What mysteries do you sometimes end up thinking about?

2011, November 21

Honoring the dead

Let’s talk about dead people, shall we? Well… okay, so not exactly. But close enough.

Today I have a new travel article up at Milliver’s Travels, in which I elaborate on the tradition of Illumination, or the Day of the Dead as it’s more commonly known here in Romania.

Drop by and let me know what you think of this tradition and the overpowering amount of my lovely night shots throughout the article.

See you there :)

2011, November 16

Tips and tricks for healthy hair

red hair 1. Always look at ingredients and choose a delicate shampoo without SLS (it excessively dries hair). It’s best to avoid harsh shampoos, as a gentle shampoo cleans just as effectively without unnecessarily being hard on the scalp. Even shampoos for color-treated hair are often harsh, so even for dyed hair it’s preferable to use a gentle shampoo.
2. Do not believe manufacturer’s claims that their shampoo is suitable for anyone and performs miracles that no other shampoo does. Each person is different and what works for one person may be wrong for someone else. Always test shampoos before switching and then select according to your hair’s needs.
3. Do you really need to shampoo twice? Before we learned this rule, our hair was clean even after shampooing once. It may or may not be a marketing tactic designed to increase sales. Obviously, in some cases, double shampooing is necessary, but it is not as necessary as to become a rule. (I noticed that no matter how many times I shampoo my hair, I have to wash it with the exact same frequency, so why waste that extra shampoo?)
4. Curly hair doesn’t get greasy quickly, because the sebum doesn’t get through the hair as fast as it does on straight hair. The best products for this type of hair are creamy ones. It is best to use a conditioner after washing curly hair.
5. Oily, normal or flaccid hair needs a liquid, light, transparent shampoo. Not all people with these types of hair also need conditioner, so if after washing your hair is easy to comb, you can save money by not using conditioner.
6. Chemically treated hair is more difficult to care for, it’s best to use a natural shampoo, gentle, for normal hair. You should also use concentrated hair conditioners.
7. For dry hair, creamy conditioners and very nutritious shampoo is recommended.
8. Are shampoos ‘2 in 1’ (with built-conditioner) better? This product is recommended for normal, healthy hair. But if you have oily hair, conditioner is not needed, and if you have dry hair, the moisturizing agents in ‘2 products in 1’ type of shampoos are not sufficient.
9. To shampoo use a small amount of shampoo (add more if necessary according to your hair’s length). Conduct a rigorous massage to the scalp, and if you can bear it, before shampooing and the rinse water should be cold as to support extra shine. If possible, let air dry. Always comb wet hair with a wide toothed comb and not a brush because your hair is most fragile while wet.
10. A beautiful, healthy hair does not require expensive treatments, it’s relatively easy to maintain at home. Like any other aspect of our body, beautiful hair is foremost maintained by proper diet, sufficient hydration, avoiding stress and smoke filled places and the use of natural hair care products.

Some additional tips:

  • the juice of one lemon mixed with a cup of water give more shine to your hair;
  • one tablespoon of baking soda mixed well in a cup of water will remove remaining hair spray or gel from the hair;
  • a teaspoon of baking soda added to the amount of shampoo used once to wash helps eliminate excess sebum from the scalp;
  • rinsing your hair with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in 2 cups of water gives it shine;
  • or just use No-Poo shampoo
  • an infusion of chamomile helps to highlight blonde hair color;
  • an infusion of sage, lavender and cinnamon (a few sticks, broken pieces) helps darken hair color;
  • hibiscus (either infusion or powder) helps in attaining red reflexes.
2011, November 14

Tastes like…

I like Mint tea.

It tastes like dry hay, like grandparents’ pantries full of strawberry and raspberry jam jars. It tastes like "get well soon". Like stomach pain and stuffy nose.

It tastes like I’m good and warm and I could fall asleep smiling. It tastes like the filtered light of trees on a summer afternoon. Like marshmallows, toast, and honey.

It tastes like like seeing snow from behind steamed windows. It tastes like holidays. Like thick gloves, multicolored scarves and frozen noses…

What does your tea (or coffee, or other favorite hot beverage) taste like?

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