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March 2012

Friday colours

Wherever one looks there is an explosion of colours, of energy! We all need it after such a long and grey winter! So get your walking shoes on and head for the hills :), the mountains, the forest! Allow nature to reenergise you! And don t forget to take plenty of pictures and share them with the world!

Friday colours

Friday colours

About love - a bhakti yoga experience

 Bhakti yoga love                                                                                                            

There are moments  in life, when we tune into our inner strength, when we climb that hill that was scary before (it happened to me yesterday when I drove on a steep hill, one that I was avoiding at all costs before), when we get out of our shell and scream ..... I LOVE AND ACCEPT MYSELF JUST THE WAY I AM.

Oh boy what a liberating feeling!

Just the way I felt when I joined Wenche the owner of Yoga Studio in Eastbourne and another group of Bhakti yoga aficionados in a special evening of music, devotional singing and story telling. An evening with Elahn and Radhe from Shekinashram - Glastonbury.



Bhakti yoga ..... yesterday I tried to remember when was that special moment when I fall in love with it!  Was it 2 years ago when I heard it live for the first time while on a yoga retreat? Was it 7 years ago when I heard Snatam Kaur for the first time? I do not remember! What I do know is that a live experience brings everything to another level, it fills ones heart with pools of unconditional love. Because Bhakti Yoga is love.

Let me tell you a bit about how it feels to be part of such an evening. At the beginning everybody is shy (yes, you might recognise a face here and there) because singing does not come naturally to us does it? We are all so self conscious, so full of inhibitions, of self judgement .... worrying about our voices (oh God I'm sure I sing out of tune or oh the music teacher told me I'm rubbish or  oh dear ..... everybody will look at me and laugh and so on).

For most of us joining in the singing is a new, exotic experience, something that our analytical mind looks at with suspicion. But let me tell you something, even the most stubborn analytical mind will surrender to the power or kirtan, to the power of love. At the beginning you will start singing in your mind, then humming, then just moving  your lips gently and very soon you will find yourself joining in the choir of voices,  allowing your heart to open up and surrender ..............

3 hours went in a flash! Elahn and Radhe are not only amazingly gifted singers but storytellers as well, making you cry, laugh and sing from the top of your lungs! Their passion and devotion is obvious and you are left craving for  more of their hypnotic music :o)Shekinashram

Besides touring around UK and abroad sharing their kirtan and love of bhakti yoga, Elahn and Radhe set up (in 2003) Shekinashram. The ashram is situated at the foot of  Chalice Hill, in the heart of Glastonbury a place where inspiring retreats take place all year round, where one can join in the Karma Yoga Retreat Programmes and have the opportunity to live in community and experience the ashram life whilst taking part in the daily activities and so, so much more.


Colors of loveLook for a Bhakti yoga evening in your area,  join in the circle of love, find out what are you passionate about....................I love painting, I love sharing my love for colors (especially deep orange, yellow, red), I love speaking from the heart ............... how about you?



Jerwood gallery, Cafe Maroc and Hastings


Hastings ...... some would say, according to rumour and gossip, that it is not quite THE bees knees destination for a leisurely Saturday morning. I mean not until very recently when the Jerwood gallery opened its doors right near the Hastings net shops in the old town area.


As with many new buildings in iconic positions,  the Jerwood gallery had its fair share of controversy and opposition. Some in the fishing community did their best to stop this project from happening and proof of their protests, stop campaign signs, are still visible in the neighborhood. 


The gallery sits right on the edge of the working fishing beach and one has a close up view from the gallery windows and the rooftop restaurant walkway of a whole way of life that has lasted for hundreds of years , the sturdy wooden fishing boats, the fishermen bringing in their catch, the fresh fish stalls, the net huts and more.  Somehow it seems that  the beautiful views of the town, the sea are also part group of the collection of paintings on display in the gallery.


I was reminded for a second of one of "Vicar of Dibley's" TV serials, the one when a beautiful stained glass window of the local church was replaced with a transparent window which allowed one to see the beauty of nature as a Divine creation itself.


From the very first time I laid my eyes on the building I started to compare it with the Towner Gallery here in Eastbourne. I just couldn't help it! Both are modern buildings but one, Jerwood, is just like adding chopped coriander leaves to  a curry. It just brings out the flavours!.

Although the Jerwood Foundation's aim is to support and nurture excellence in arts  it started its paintings collection relatively recently (in 1993). It includes now approximately 200 British oil paintings and works on paper and it's still growing. My favourites by far were the abstract paintings. I wonder why? :o)

 I was very pleasantly surprised with the external look of the building, with its clapper board architecture, its creative layouts - combining  small and cosy exhibiting rooms that are perfect for creating a warm atmosphere with big spaces ready to host paintings on an epic scale just like Rose Wylie's paintings which are on display until the end of June 2012. Although Rose Wylie is not my cup of tea I was fascinated to watch the short movie/ interview with her and listen to her artistic credo.

If you want the recipe for a great day in Hastings here it is:  a walk near the beach (there is a nice walk from down the hill from Hasting's railway station) to the old part of the town, add a visit to the gallery, maybe a coffee in its top class coffee shop (honestly the service, the presentation reminded me of Jamie Oliver's restaurant in Brighton), then a shopping spree in the  quirky clothes shops in the Old Town lanes, browsing in the many small art galleries and creative interior decorations shops, with maybe a visit to the Shipwreck  and the Fisherman's museum ...... followed by a delicious ethnic meal in an even more ethnic corridor at  Cafe Maroc.

Mint tea in Cafe MarocWhat can I say, finding Cafe Maroc was just like finding an unexpected jewel in a bag full of bits of colourful glass. Situated in a small alley, it oozes all of the characteristics of any authentic restaurant in Egypt. For me it was just like stepping back in time .... for an hour I felt as if I was in Cairo, in  a cafe/restaurant in a busy and colorful souk. The music was there (yes, the mesmerising sounds of Arabic music), the tiny tables with a plastic cover (simple and beautiful design), the smells of .............. , the pictures, the tagine looking salt and pepper containers, the menu ....... promising orgasmic experiences ......

 The hummus and olives arrived quickly and were the best I've had in this country, the mint tea with sugar served in a beautiful traditional tea pot (we eat and drink with the eyes first - and way before I tasted anything, I knew I'm in love with the place) .....


and, and, and .... the conversation with Keith, one of the owners of the restaurant was all one could ask for to make the whole experience memorable. HummusKeith spent 12 years in Marocco so no wonder the place seemed to me so authentic. You will be pleased to hear that the restaurant is connected through an arch to an ethnic shop where one can buy many Maroccan decorative objects including colourful scarves, jewellery, exquisite leather bags and much more.

 If you are in Hastings, Cafe Maroc situated on 37 High Street,  is the place to eat if you want to be transported to a souk and I'm already planning my next trip there. Are you coming?

Thai food meets Lebanese food part 2

It's late at night in England and I'm listening to one of my favourite podcasts from Spirit Voyage (  - Ramdesh interviewing my favourite kirtan singers and playing their magical music.

Now ........accompanied by my music and the colours of my first painting called Middle East (which is sold by the way) let's go back to a dinner with friends part 2.

Over the years I've learned that spending a lot of time in the kitchen (which is very much the way my mother cooked in Romania) does not necessarily mean cooking tasty food. Because of that I'm all in favour of Thai food. Why?

Because one can cook a delicious meal in a matter of minutes with very little ingredients. It is mandatory though to have in your cupboards: coconut milk, lemon grass, fish sauce, lime leaves. And of course one needs a wok. I love cooking in a wok. It's so easy!





Let me tell you firsts that it only took me 25 minutes to cook the fish in spicy coconut cream (pla tom kati) and given how tasty it was I plan to cook it again at the end of the week. Here is what you need: 2 tsp vegetable oil, 2 garlic cloves crushed, 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 2 fresh small red thai chillies, sliced thinly, 375 ml fish stock, 400 ml can coconut cream, 20g galangal halved (it's not mandatory as the taste is great without as well), 1 stick of lemon grass cut into small pieces, 600 g white fresh fish, 2 tbsp fish sauce, spring onions sliced thinly.

Just heat the oil in the wok, add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli stirring until fragrant. Add the stock, coconut cream, galangal, lemon grass and bring to boil. Add the fish and simmer for about 8 minutes, until the fish is cooked. Add the fish sauce and the onion, serve and enjoy! You can also sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves. 023


Deserts do not come naturally to me. It could be that I've never tried hard enough, so I'm usually apprehensive about cooking sophisticated cakes. But I'm always ready to experiment with fruits and the "baked quinces with brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts" proved to be a great choice.
Although it takes 2 hours to cook, the preparation time takes only 10 minutes.

You need 3 tbsp of raisins, 4 tbsp of brandy, 4 quinces, 3 tbsp shelled and chopped walnuts, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 100 g brown sugar, butter.

Cut the quinces in 2, leaving the skins and core them, making a nice nest where the core was. Put them in an ovenproof dish. Separately mix the raisins with the brandy, sugar, cinnamon, butter and walnuts. Spoon the composition into the nests, cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake them at 180 degrees Celsius for about 2 hours. Poor 1 cup of water into the dish and top the liquid up from time to time. Serve with ice-cream. It's delicious!

Thai food meets Lebanese food part 2

Lebanese food meets Thai food

010I don't know about you but for me, cooking is creativity in action! Yesterday a couple of friends tasted a few carefully :o) selected dishes, cooked with a lot of love and enthusiasm!

Cooking is always a team effort in my family so the smoked salmon plate was prepared by Peter. This dish is clearly Scandinavian/ Russian and having it on the table  reminded both of us of our roots.  

It is incredibly easy to prepare, very tasty and goes superbly with a glass of chilled Russian vodka.

Here is what you need for 4 people: 1 small red onion finely chopped, 2 lemons (squeeze the juice on top of the smoked salmon or just add a quarter of the lemon on each plate) , 2 hard boiled eggs (finely chopped), 200 g of smoked salmon thinly sliced, 50 g drained baby capers, chopped dill, taramasalata and voila ........ the only thing left is to "decorate the plates" and serve.  In Russia they serve this dish with "black" rye bread! Oh the smell ....... oh ........... yummy. Although one can find rye bread in England in a few supermarkets, it doesn't smell  or taste like the one I ate in Russia! :o( Ryvita biscuits are also a good option. or if in a jam the old fashioned toast saves the day!

Middle East inspires not only my painting activity but the cooking as well. I came across their cuisine years ago while working with Lebanese, Jordanian, Egyptian traders and experienced the tastes and smells of their delicious food in tiny and modestly looking restaurants. It was and still is my favourite cuisine! So this is why I decided to cook the "Ruz bi za'faran" - Saffron rice with pine nuts. Again a simple but very tasty dish. The only things you need are :a teaspoon of butter, 225 g (1 cup) of rice (basmati or long grain), a pinch of saffron fronds, 600 ml chicken stock or water, 2 tpsp of snobar (pine nuts), salt and pepper.

So, you have the ingredients and what's next! Melt the butter in a heavy pan, add the rice and saffron making sure the rice is coated in butter, add the stock, pepper, salt and simmer for 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean dish towel followed by the lid. (funny how this is how the rice is cooked in Russia as well) Leave it to steam for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile melt 1/4 of a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan and add the snobar, cooking them until they turn golden. (a couple of minutes)  Sprinkle the snobar on top of the rice and there you are ..... ready to eat.

 That's all that I've had time for now! Tomorrow ............2 more recipes : fish in spicy coconut cream (pla tom kati) and baked quinces with sugar, cinnamon and walnuts. I can only tell you that the plates were spotless at the end of the meal! :o)

About the wise and wild women!


005"The wise woman plays the roles she is given but creates her own script. She recognises the truth and does not try to maintain illusions. Not limiting herself, she does not blame other. She is free to create her own adventures" - The Tao of women




Now, more than ever before, these words resonate with me. There are moments in life when veils start dropping at our feet, when one starts believing that one can write and live ones own script. When acting other people's scripts is not it. When one wakes up and starts believing again.

A few days ago I was privileged to have a coaching session with Lisa Dieken. Each coach needs a coach! :o)  Sometimes,  a single word is enough to open blocked "bridges", is enough to bring the creative, powerful flow back into various areas of ones lives.

The words that I'm working on are professionalism, business, masculine energy on one side and creative world, feminine energy,  professionalism on the other side. My challenge is to reconcile those two and give them permission to shake hands and work togethe. :o)

So, if you are in a jam, if you feel as if you are running in circles, do get in touch with a coach. Why should you struggle on your own?

In the meantime you might want to join me and another caring and creative group of women on a "WILD' course - the way of the woman's wild creative heart, which starts on March 23rd. What is WILD?


It's an on line workshop designed by 11 woman teachers - healers, coaches, artists, writers - that will help your wild woman's nature through 11 unique, juicy classes.

 Not convinced yet?  Have a look at the video(s) and .... join us!


The same and yet so different


"The self is a project, something to be built" - Susan Sontag

I strongly believe that whatever we do, it has our imprint all over. Let me tell you briefly about a morning, not a long time ago when 4 painting aficionados decided to get together and just experiment with paper, mixed media elements, newspapers, cardboard, colourful indian paper, stencils, spray paints, PVA glue and oh so much more. Of course that whenever you have 4 women in one place you will get plenty of chats and in our case a cascade of laughter! Let me tell you thanks God there were no neighbours around! :o)

The beginning was the same. Same ingredients: a white piece of paper, a black and white copy of a magazine ad, carbon paper and a pencil. This is how our pieces looked after about 30 minutes of playing.








None is identical. Each and every one of us by that time has already transferred a bit of ourselves onto the paper.  

It is my belief that paintings are a reflection of our inner self, a snapshot of our feelings at that particular moment in time, our aspirations, our creativity,  the things that influence our life.

Another hour of experimentation later, this is what happened ................ :o)









In our case .....when the morning ended up with a gourmet lunch - a selection of soups, olive bread, tomato bread and a glass of chilled Chardonnay -  the only thing one was left  with,  was to ask .... when is the next play date?

Artists can lead very lonely lives and there is nothing like sharing the creative space with other fellow aficionados.



                                                 So my darlings ........... when is your play date?