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February 2013
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April 2013

March 2013

Giving yourself permission to dream

Do you have a dream? Are you used to dreaming, planning, having goals? For a Westerner this comes naturally. I'm tempted to generalise and say that for us Eastern Europeans, having dreams is not common at all .. but I might be wrong. It could very well be that my family was different ... and the families of my friends were different and everybody else did have dreams ... gave themselves permission to just imagine how would life be when ....and  if ..... 

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When you live in a society where things are pretty much planned for you by the Big Brother state, a status that has to be accepted by families, so is sort of written in stone, why dream?

Dreaming means daring to be different ... getting out of the marching line ... taking the road less travelled ... getting out of the comfort zone no matter how uncomfortable that "comfort zone" is.....taking risks......

 

 

For three years until the late spring of 2011 I was working in a sort of safe (by Romanian standards) but soul destroying job in London - when I decided to follow my inner voice, to rescue my soul and sanity, to spread my wings and shake the layers of negativity that were dragging me down like very, very  heavy chains.

It was the moment when I dared to dream! Yes, I dared to believe that there is a way to "Escape from the cubicle nation". This is actually the title of a book I'm reading now, by Pamela Slim and I find myself saying "yes, yes, yes I know exactly how it feels, I know, I know .. I've been there".

One of my dreams was to exhibit and to sell my paintings .... guess what ... I'm doing this now, an untrained artist who graduated as an engineer. Isn't it amazing?

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Another dream was to organise retreats .... and to create circles of women who support each other, sharing experiences, inspiring others and being inspired ......... I also dreamed about giving talks about art, about empowering women .... And guess what again ... it's happening! Slowly, slowly but surely! 

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Slowly, slowly .... when you dare to dream, when you start to express your dreams in writing, through paints, or through a vision board magic happens .... it's as if you are planting some seeds in the ground. Of course if you do not take care of the seeds nothing will happen, but if you tend to their needs, if you nurture them, they will start to show signs of life, of growth ... one millimetre on top of another millimetre  at a time.

I'm at the very beginning .... but boy I'm glad I dared to dream....... I'm happy I'm still dreaming ... that I am dreaming together with many other soul sisters from all around the world. Is it easy! Oh no, no, no but I feel alive and full of energy and ready to chase my  dreams - day in and day out. 

 Today I dreamed again with my partners and friends Anna and Elke. Actually we continued our dreaming session started in August last year .. when we were trying to put together a plan for our "Awareness Spa Mini Retreats", offering women in East Sussex  a chance to relax, rejuvenate, reinvent themselves through meditation, art, massage, raw food, raw chocolate, spiritual coaching and so much more. We've already organised four events ... things are happening .... and all because we dared to dream ... months and months ago ...... so today it was a time to celebrate ... and also a time to DREAM BIG ... with confidence, with enthusiasm, with passion! 

For more information please visit www.awarenessspa.co.uk

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About creative blocks and mark making

"Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible." Paul Klee

If you are involved in creative activities the idea of having a creative block might feel too familiar. So, what do you do when you are creatively gridlocked?

One thing you might like to consider is to go back to basics. In my case .... it means by making random marks on A2 pieces of paper hanging on the wall, it means loosening up, then painting with total, wild abandonment .... there is a lot that can emerge from DEVELOPING random creative marks.... Try it! it might work for you too!

About being stuck and mark making

About being stuck and mark making

About being stuck and mark making

About being stuck and mark making

About being stuck and mark making


Baking German bread, the power of women, mini retreats

"To be beautiful means to be yourself.
You don't need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself" - Thich Nhat Hanh

We are busy. Very busy!  Running around, eating while we watch TV, reading newspapers while we walk, magazines while we rush through airports,  ... starting another diet just because another "celebrity" tells us how to loose weight without much struggle, buying yet another super cream aimed to make our faces look like a 16 year old one and so on ... We are constantly looking at how other people look, what they have, where they go ....  getting angry, frustrated, disillusioned, tired and confused.

Who are we after all? When was the last time that we had the time to really,really  talk to our inner self? 

For me, without any shadow of a doubt, accepting who we are, how we are now,  is one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves. Once we take the time to make friends with our body, mind and soul .. we are beautiful. 

What is the first step? Slowing down ...slowing down through meditation, or art, or cooking, or trying a new activity,  or talking to somebody we trust ...or cooking with friends ... 

This is what I did a few days ago .. baked German bread with two lovely friends ...... it was a morning of laughter, relaxation, sharing stories, learning more about each other . 

Three hours later, we all had 1/3 of a bread in our bag, memories of a great morning, more interesting ideas to put into practice and the promise of another morning together ... this time ... to create a vision board made of collages for our joint wellbeing event. You can learn more about us here at www.awarenessspa.co.uk I really look forward to next Thursday! 

Just in case you too would like to have a go at baking the bread,  here is the recipe. It is soooo easy and sooooo delicious ...... 

Ingredients: 

280g oats + rye flour

280g wheatmeal

140 g amaranths + pumpkin seeds

140g sesame seeds

100g sunflower seeds 

500g wheat flour

3 small pck dried yeast

1l buttermilk

160g molasses

1Tbsp level salt

Add all grains in a plastic container. In a saucepan add the buttermilk, molasses, salt and heat it up for 5 minutes,  stirring continuously. What's next? Add the liquid in the grain combination and stir it until it looks like a thick paste......cover it up, allowing it to rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, lightly butter the bread tin, preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Add the paste in the bread tin, and place it in the oven ... together with a tray of water. (this will preserve the moisture in the bread)

Next, prepare your coffee, grab your favourite novel, put your feet up and relax for the next three hours. Or .... call a friend ... have a lovely chat ... or paint .........  

 

Baking German bread, the power of women, mini retreats

Baking German bread, the power of women, mini retreats

Baking German bread, the power of women, mini retreats

Baking German bread, the power of women, mini retreats

Baking German bread, the power of women, mini retreats


Awareness Spa Mini Retreats - photo album and more

Eight months ago, at the end of a grey summer, three women gathered around a wooden table ... and started to dream ... dream about organising mini retreats in Eastbourne......dream about putting together their skills and passions and creating a "product" aiming to help women to relax, rejuvenate, reinvent themselves through meditation, art, healthy food, massage and much more. 

One could say that our planting season was in August 2012 ... and here we are in March having already organised three events and one pilot event. Having a dream is important, having like minded people around you is inspiring! 

And now ... the story in images! We look forward to seeing you in April! 

 

 

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Your team Elke, Corina, Anna

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We are really passionate about our activities

 

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It's all about laughter!

 

 

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It's about the power of sisterhood!
  
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It's about experimentation!

 

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It's about sharing ..

 

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It's about ME time!

 

 

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It's all about a time to relax and let go!

 

To find out more about us and book your place for the April event, please click here 


The need for yellow and Hailsham Festival of Arts and Culture

IMG_2338It's another grey, rainy spring day. The beautiful yellow dafoddils on my table are the only clear sign that spring is sort of here

In my country March 1st is the first spring day...... the weather is usually getting warmer, tiny snow drops show their heads and populate the parks of Bucharest.

 

Here we've had snow just a few days ago! It looked as if Christmas was knocking at the door again. 

But, knowing that I had a meeting arranged way in advance filled me with joy and I found myself humming happily .......while driving to Hailsham ... it was a big day for me as .. yes it was the first time I was taking the "scary" drive on my own to the town of Hailsham  ... I'm laughing of course but you see .. we all have barriers, things that fill us with fear .........and driving outside Eastbourne on my own was one such thing ... but hurray, hurray ... I did it today and it was perfectly OK! 

I don't know about your countries but arts festivals are so popular in England! One of the things that I've noticed is how  they bring together many enthusiasts, of various ages, professions,  passionate about art, about culture, about sharing this with and within their communities. 

This year, I'm delighted to join the Hailsham Festival of Arts and Culture  organising committee, meeting new people and using my skills for the benefit of arts! 

 The fact that the committee meets at Chapter 12, a coquette coffee shop/ wine bar is an absolute winner for me. It really reminds me of Harpenden and my beloved Slug and Lettuce, a place that marked the beginning of my life in England, the place where I made my first friends and was introduced to the British way of life. 

Hailsham definitely needed such a coffee shop as it really is quite boring going again and again to Costa, however reliable (and thank goodness they exist) ... good to see competition is coming to town!

Much to my delight the committee meeting was really productive and  people were genuinely interested to put together a great experience for the visitors of the festival in September 2013. And let me tell you ... there are so many delicious surprises lined up ... can't tell you more ... it's a secret!

On my way back to Eastbourne, the grey weather, the rain, the hills made me desperately crave ....yes crave ... a colour .. yellow, intense yellow, and orange.

So, cooking came to my mind and a great recipe I was planning to try in a few days time ....  pumpkin curry ... planning ....... hmmmm not quite my favourite word so ...... I've decided to forget about planning, listen to my intuition and cook the lovely pumpkin today ... the rich, spicy smell is all around the kitchen .. a great promise for my taste buds a bit later ... 


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If you would like to try something yummy and oh so so so delicious and easy to cook,  follow the recipe below .. and of course be inventive .. replace ingredients ... make your own recipe!

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Curry

(with basmati rice)

Ingredients:

1tbsp mustard seeds 

a few curry leaves (not mandatory) 

2 onions (1 red but it's not mandatory)

1 Tbsp of sunflower oil

2tbsp mild curry powder (hmmm if you like your curry super spicy use the hot curry powder)

1Tbsp garam masala

500g pumpkin or butternut squash flesh cut into small sizes

400 g can chopped tomatoes

200 ml coconut milk

salt and pepper

chopped coriander

 

Add the oil in a frying pan, followed by the mustard seeds, curry leaves,  onions and stir - fry a few minutes.  

Add the curry powder, pumpkin and tomatoes and fry over a high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to boil. Add the coriander and garam masala and allow it to simmer until the pumpkin is tender. It might take about 20+ minutes. Just check it out from time to town.

Eat it with rice and ... enjoy .. enjoy!  

 


About the power of water and your body

A few years ago I came across Doctor Masaru Emoto's book called "Messages from Water". I have to admit I was really attracted by his amazing theory that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water.

While reading his book I remembered a few things that really made me accept and embrace his theory ...

1. My grandmother was a very simple woman, living in a tiny village, working the land just like her ancestors did for generations. One of the things that she used to say when people were praising her cooking was that food is not the main thing-  but the way your mind is while cooking, your thoughts are the main ingredient. As she said ... when you cook with love your food will taste delicious and will be nutritious.

2. In the Christian Orthodox tradition, there are various days when water is blessed by the priests in big wooden barrels and people queue for hours and hours to get some and bring home. It is then used to drink a little bit in the morning, it is given to the people who are ill, it is given to the children ...... it is one of those habits that one accepts without much questioning, a sort of superstition.

What Dr Emoto did for me was to actually attach a scientific explanation to something that religion was asking us to believe blindly.

I encourage you to read at least one of his books and see for yourself. The photos are incredible. "Seeing" the impact that the words have on the drops of water is incredibly shocking. The truth is .... what do we have to loose if we start speaking kindly to the water we drink, the water we come in contact with (be it in the sea or the one we use to bathe or cook with)?

One last thing .... . in positive psychology one is very much advised to create our own positive mantra and to repeat it during the day, write it in front of us, be gentle with ourselves, think positive thoughts.

.......given that up to 60% of the human body is water, the brain is composed of 70% water, our blood is about 83% water ... and knowing what Dr Masaru discovered ......isn't it worth it surrounding ourselves, the people around us, nature with kind and loving words?

About the power of water and your body

About the power of water and your body


A walk near the sea and a delicious fruit pie

Whenever the sun appears in Eastbourne during the winter there is only one thing to do ..... get dressed quickly and rush outside, take advantage of it. But actually I don't want to write about the sea or the strong wind, or the frozen hands or the sense of relief I experienced when I saw "The Beach Deck" cafe in front of me.

A coffee, something sweet, a book, a journal and a few joyful couple of hours went in a flash. It was so easy to loose myself in "The art of dreams" by Daniel Marchesseau, a book about Chagall and his incredibly imaginative paintings.

While reading about his life in Russia, I was reminded of a delicious fruit pie that my aunt used to bake for me years and years ago.

And somehow I felt the need to make it today.... strange especially because I don t usually cook deserts ..Why? Hmmm it's a combination between "Cooking deserts is too difficult" and "deserts are fattening" which usually stop me from experimenting with cakes.

Anyway a few hours later I found myself baking a fruit pie, remembering long walks in Puskin a coquette town near Sankt Peterburg, remembering the strong "smoked fish" smell in the special outside storage areas called "Sarai" and much more.

So if you want to cook something sweet, easy to make, not that fattening and delicious ... here is the recipe.

500 g summer berries
1tsp cinnamon
2 star anise
juice from 1 orange
3 Tbsp sugar or agave syrup
Puff pastry

Put the fruits in a bowl, add cinnamon, star anise, orange juice, sugar/agave syrup. Toss them around with a wooden spoon and add them to a baking dish. Roll the puff pastry on top, sprinkle with a bit of sugar and thats it. You re almost done.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Enjoy it with ice cream or yogurt!

Bon appetit!

A walk near the sea and a delicious fruit pie

A walk near the sea and a delicious fruit pie

A walk near the sea and a delicious fruit pie


The Royal Watercolour Society, The Royal Academy of Arts and Manet

Situated only a few minutes away from the Tate Modern and next to the new Blackfriars station entrance, the Bankside Gallery which belongs to the The Royal Watercolour Society was clearly a revelation for me a few days ago when I was finding my way to The Royal Academy of Arts. I was in quite a hurry ... as the cold wind was really cutting through my coat but the moment I noticed the gallery I turned on my heels and it was a matter of ... Manet can wait for a bit. 

 

 

The current Bankside exhibition consists of the successful entries to the Royal Watercolour Society's annual open competition and it offered us a delightful half an hour in a splendid environment, surrounded by lots of styles of painting ... making me really dream about a day when one of my paintings might be displayed there. Everything starts with a dream doesn't it? So the next step is to try and go through the process of being accepted to belong to this prestigious society.  

Twenty minutes later, we found ourselves five minutes away from the Royal Academy of Arts, a place I had never been to before. But another stop, another discovery delayed our journey and we found ourselves in "an Alladin's cave", surrounded by lots of nuts, coffee, dry fruit, smiles and inviting smells .... in "Carpo - nuts, chocolate and coffee", a brand new shop at 16 Piccadilly. It is a family business, opened 3 just weeks ago and it originates from Greece. I just adore independent shops and salute any independent initiatives ... I know how challenging this is and I would love Londoners and visitors to support this shop. The products are divine that's for sure! 

 

 

A week ago I had the pleasure of seeing right in front of me Manet's "A bar at the Folies-Bergere" (exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1882 )  at the Courtauld Gallery. Having been to see the acclaimed Manet - Portraying Life at the Royal Academy of Arts I cannot but still think that for me "A bar at the Folies-Bergere" is my favourite of his. 

 

 

 

Is it because I am seduced by the sad eyes, the vulnerability that comes from the barmaid, the luxurious surrounding reminding me of Alexandre Dumas, fils - "The lady of the Camellias" ... who knows. I'm just delighted that I will be able to see it many times given that it belongs to the Courtauld Gallery. 

 

But let's go to the special exhibition open until April 14th, 2013 at the Royal Academy, the first major exhibition in the UK devoted to the work of Edouard Manet. What you will be able to admire are mostly portraits, starting from the early paintings of his family to the later works created around 1878. His love of capturing the soul of his sitters on canvas is pretty obvious and portrait after portrait you will have the chance to meet members of Manet's family and friends including famous writers and poets (Zola, Mallarme, Baudelaire), artists (Eva Gonzales and Berthe Morisot) and much more. 

Although it was an enjoyable experience, and it was incredible to read that many of the paintings had not been shown during Manet's life, somehow I was left with a feeling of longing ... longing for his painting Olympia (the painting that caused such a shock and astonishment when it was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1865), I missed feeling his non conventional side! 

It is definitely worthwhile visiting the exhibition but stop at the Courtauld Gallery and make a note to visit Musee D'Orsay in Paris and admire Olympia. 

Art brings souls together, art travels through time and for a while makes us feel that the past, present and future are one. 


Manet - "Portraying Life" exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, Tate modern and more

PhotoWinter days can be long, dark and gloomy. At least this is the way they are most of the time in England. One has the feeling that a crocodile ate the sun at the end of October - and ran away with it somewhere ... far, far away ..... 

This is when we all need to do something to help us brighten up our days. For me a trip to London does the trick especially when my destination includes several galleries or/and museums.

 

 

 

There is something magical about getting to the station, buying a cup of coffee, taking a couple of books from my bag and relaxing for the next 90 minutes, anticipating the lovely places I'm going to go to during the next few hours. 

Although the Manet exhibition was clearly on the books we decided to detour a bit and visit Tate Modern first .. to see what's going on especially because of the chance to walk again on the South Bank, something I always do with joy. It's always quite a spectacle, the river boats and barges, the diversity of handsome buildings (the architecture belonging to a time when the minimalist trend was not yet on the map), the jogging afficionados wrapped up in their own rhythm and music, the grey yet colourful human "standing statues" and so much more. There is always something going on! 

 

So, Tate Modern ... what makes me smile first are the rows of birch trees, delicate and somehow shy, promising soft experiences while inside the museum. But soft is not how I would describe Tate Modern in general. As everywhere there are some areas where one doesn't need to pay and can visit the pieces belonging to the museum and there are also one off exhibitions. This time one was offered two events : "A bigger splash - painting after performance" showing key paintings by Jackson Pollock and David Hockney (open until April 1st, 2013) and "Roy Lichtenstein: a perspective" a full scale retrospective of an iconic artist who's works are based on comic strips and advertising imagery.

By far the most memorable moment for me was Jackson Pollock's painting displayed right on the floor and the "making off" movie showing the development of this piece. 

  

 

 

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Constantin Brancusi - The fish

 

It is always exciting to visit the "Collections", to reconnect with those I love and am inspired by ... Henri Matisse,  Constantin Brancusi , Natalia Goncharova, Modigliani and more. This time I was very impressed with Gerhard Richter's work ... the size, the techniques, the colour combination, the layering ... I felt quite comfortable with his work and he is definitely an artist I would like to know more about and explore. 

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Gerhard Richter

 

 

 

But now it's time for a short break, another cup of coffee and more stories about  ... a day in London! 


Becoming Picasso - exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery

A week ago I was determined to visit the Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Quite simple isn't it? Get the train, change a few metro lines and a few good hours later you are there. But sometimes things have a mind of their own. The metro lines were a complete mess and rather then wasting time on a longer route we decided to walk along the Thames and maybe visit some other art galleries. When The Courtauld Gallery came in front of us and we could see from the distance the words "Becoming Picasso" I felt like clapping my hands, full of excitement.

It was clearly meant to be especially because a few days ago I came across a few books featuring Picasso in one of my favourite second hand bookshops in Eastbourne and bought them on the spot!

The queue formed in front of the entrance worried me a bit (it smelled like a few good hours of queuing) but we soon realised that the queue was for a special Valentino exhibition and the famous "London fashion week" event. By the way, it was so exciting seeing so many young and trendy people, so fashionably !!!!!! dressed.

The exhibition "Becoming Picasso" started on February 14th and it can be visited until May, 26th 2013 at the Courtauld Gallery, which is open daily from 10.00 - 18.00.

In 1901 Picasso was only 19 and the exhibition in Paris organised by the influential dealer Ambroise Vollard was going to launch his career and start his journey to stardom!

I have never seen his self portraits from that time and was mesmerised by the facial expressions, the piercing eyes...the sadness, the maturity!

But by far my favourite pieces are the ones you will see below: The Harlequin and his Companion, Seated Harlequin and the Child with a Dove. Of course one has seen "Child with a Dove" in lots of magazines, books and of course on line but seeing it right there, in front of you, only a step away, is something else. The purity of expression, the tenderness of the gestures ....all of these feelings stay with you for hours and hours. Simple and yet, so powerful!

The end of 1901 was the beginning of a new era in Picasso's paintings .. the famous blue period when he used the colour that he referred to as the "colour of all colours".

 

The harlequins, part of the blue period.... I just loved them ...are they daydreaming, are they a bit tipsy, are they just sad, or bored? Who knows? I think that any interpretation is OK! It's wonderful when paintings fire our imagination, helping you tell your own stories, process your own emotions.

So, if you are in London, do visit this exhibition. You will not regret it! Plus, you have access to the other collection exhibition dedicated to the impressionist and post impressionist artists ... but about this in another blog entry!

For more information check www.courtauld.ac.uk/gallery

Becoming Picasso - exposition at the Courtauld Gallery

Becoming Picasso - exposition at the Courtauld Gallery

Becoming Picasso - exposition at the Courtauld Gallery

Becoming Picasso - exposition at the Courtauld Gallery