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April 2013

Home made truffles and more


I've always enjoyed cooking ... actually I've always enjoyed experimenting with new recipes, new spices. But ask me to cook the same dish many times ... and I get bored .. I loose interest. But challenge me on trying new recipes and I'm ready to start cooking on the spot! Puddings are my Achille's heal ... actually I'm not very interested ... especially baking .. it requires way too much patience, too much precision. 

But, ever since I started to work with Elke and Anna to create the Awareness Spa Mini Retreats, I've been more and more interested in raw food and ......and in trying to make puddings. Simple, tasty and quickly! 

Early on today another dear friend posted a recipe on Facebook and it just inspired me to try my hand at it. The result? Delicious truffles in no time. 



If we all realised how quickly we can make our own truffles, how much joy it will bring to us and how tasty they are .... the puddings and confectionery industry could really loose quite a lot of business! 

I would really love to hear from you if you decide to try and make your own truffle. I would love to hear what ingredients you used. Why? Because the recipe I'm going to share with you is just the beginning ... it's just a base. 

So here we go ... you only need: 

1 cup of ground almonds (you can use ground walnuts, or cashews, or any other ground nuts you want)

1/4 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao

1 cup pitted dates chopped finely (it would be an idea to put the dates and the water in a blender and process until you obtain a smooth paste) or dried apricots or cherries

1/8 cup water

1tsp (it's based on your taste) of liqueur or whisky or irish cream or sweet sherry

Once you add all of the above ingredients in a bowl, you're almost there really. Use your hands to knead everything together into a big ball. 

Divide the dough into small pieces, roll each into a ball. It's up to you to decide the size. What you can do is to insert in the middle of each ball bits of dried fruit or dry cranberries or any other fruits. Use your imagination. 

And to finish ... roll each truffle in some cocoa powder or in some ground coconut.  You can eat them straight away or you can put them in the fridge for a little while - real cool. 

Enjoy! Experiment! Enjoy again! 


Small events and the importance of community




I have to admit that living in a small community is a completely different kettle of fish from living in a large town or city. For most of my life I lived in a capital city far away where I learned to adapt to, and embrace, what life had to offer there. Now, after seven years and happily settled in Eastbourne, I realise that it takes a long time to understand the way things work in your new community. Obvious to most I suppose. 



I would listen to stories about village flower shows, where proud members of the local community would display their best flowers, mile long runner beans, huge turnips and home made cakes, always with a smile and a steely determination to beat the person who won last year!

It seemed fascinating, but another world to me...until I experienced them and came to recognise another important aspect of what it means to be a member of a community.

So here I was this weekend, taking part in two local events, promoting........ The Awareness Spa Mini Retreats, a monthly event organised by me, in my town, with two other lovely wellbeing practitioners .... Anna Hoffmann and Elke Pollard. 


What I have come to realise is that such events attract like minded people terms of exhibitors and visitors. But what is also clear to me is the real challenge that all organisers have in attracting visitors who have other interests, in advertising such events in places that matter -without the support of the local media. 


Maybe one day I will understand why local community media seems to be so indifferent to supporting such community events. The events may be boring to them, the tenth year of that event, the sixth month in a row for this event, the way out on the fringe of that gathering - but to the organisers and to the visitors the events are about connecting people and building a stronger community. I now buy into that and feel qualified to stand up for it.


Anyway, I hope that you enjoy a selection of photos from our two events ......and we also hope to see some of you in our mini retreats and workshops in the future. Everyone who has come so far has said that they enjoy the experience. And happiness and human contact is what we all love.


Love and light!  

Russia, books and paintings

 There are moments in life when one reconnects with ones roots, when one reconnects with happy memories .... memories buried in a plethora of events and experiences. They seemed lost ..... for a long time ..... and yet ... here they are ... coming back to the surface fresh and real as if they were yesterday.  In my case the trigger  was a shop, Ruskii mir (The Russian world) in Goodge Street in Central London. (but about this a bit later) 

A few years ago, when I was still commuting to London, I tried to find this place....I went up and down that street a few times ... and nothing .... it was supposed to be there ... and yet it wasn't. So perhaps I was meant to find it today when I went to the Royal Academy of Art to submit a painting for consideration for the Summer Exhibition in June. 


The Silk Road being wrapped up for the road!

But let's start at the beginning - with making the application, our days of planning the adventure to London, with wrapping the painting in protective buffers the day before with love ... or maybe even further back .... when I took the decision to take part in this grand event ... me ..... an untrained artist, someone who nine years ago started to put a brush to paper for the first time with the first of many "Painting by Numbers".  

The fact that today I had the courage to submit my work is the result of a change of mentality, a change of attitude which was only made possible because  .... yes, I live in England and I have been lucky enough to be encouraged to continue painting by a few amazing souls ....and also because I've interacted with many lovely Americans and learned from them that there is nothing wrong in trying, that having confidence is one of our biggest assets and that the memories of a great day can stay forever. 


Books are my trusted companions! Perfect for train journeys!

The first memory for me of the trek to the RA will be to do with the books I took with me on the train .... Modigliani by Carol Mann ( I had only 15 more pages to finish at the end of the train journey. The book is so captivating that I couldn't put it down) and a Dali book that I looked forward to reading because I was fascinated to learn about the essence of surrealism and how Dali arrived at that stop in his artistic journey. 


Little did I know that the book on Dali was not meant for me - but claearly for an artist from Peru who I met while queuing at the Academy. I had made a  start on it on the train but the book failed to captivate me - so when Diego (he came from Lima especially to submit two paintings to this competition) told us that his chosen style is surrealism   ... I understood why I had to bring that book with me that day ...Diego was happy to have it.  

Seeing many other people carrying, with pride and love, their lovely paintings was so uplifting .. it made me smile and feel that ... we are special ... me, an artist (he he he me) and my biggest fan (my husband) prepared to be vulnerable ... and be judged  


Queuing happily at the Royal Academy of Arts

I was amazed at how smooth the whole process was ... how quick and professional ... 40 minutes after joining the queue we were already in "Bill's" a coffee shop/restaurant we are connected with emotionally - the first one started in Lewes a few years ago and now Bill's is a small but very successful chain of restaurants. 



And to end where I started ... a walk through Soho, one of my favourite areas in London, led us to that Russian bookshop/small groceries shop in Goodge Street - where you can buy red caviar, chocolates, delicious sour cream, pelemeni (delicious traditional dish) and many other things one usually sees on the shelves in Russia. Although it is tiny and downstairs, with no shop window, it was an absolute heaven for me ..... rows and rows of Russian books and magazines, DVD's, CD's ... bliss! Reading is the best way to keep alive a foreign language that one speaks..... and reading helps one to keep up to scratch especially when one doesn't need to use the language on a regular basis.

But the cherry on the cake for me was being able to buy and to eat "Plombir" the ice cream I used to eat when I was 5 and visiting my relatives in Puskin - a coquette town much appreciated by the Russian royalty not far from Sankt Peterburg . It felt as if I had travelled back in time .... seeing again my aunt, uncle, cousins .... the sun, the smells of piroski (a delicious traditional dish that my aunt was such a specialist in preparing) .......... Russia is still in my blood .. I was  reminded of this today! 


About strength and sisterhood!

Books, music, nature, life ... millions of sources of inspiration. I never know which one will be the trigger to my new painting and this is always exciting for me. Yesterday, late at night, I planned(!!!!!!!) to experiment a bit with mono printing, trying new techniques. A part of me was so attracted by my new tube of green acrylic paint and wanted to "let rip", just to move paint all around the page...but another part just wanted to study a bit more, to learn.

For once I decided to use a beautiful 300g watercolour paper, an absolute dream of a paper, a gift from another dear, dear artist friend, a paper that I was keeping for very special projects.

I do not know why ... things were really not going well with my mono printing ... was it because I was intimidated by the beautiful paper? Was it because I was just not listening to myself and what my intuition was gently inviting me to do? Who knows! An hour into the whole process, with my beautiful paper sort of ruined (I will paint of top of it I'm sure as I do not like to throw away anything)  ..... so I took a break and opened The Tao of Women, randomly .....and I started to read the words below ...


Strength and joy!

"A wise woman is happy to be a model - but she will not to try to control others. She is direct but with humility. She shines brightly, but does not blind others."

These words, were the trigger for a few hours of joy and passion among my paints and brushes. These words reminded me of the sisterhood of the creative souls that I'm in touch with thanks to inspiring on line courses, it reminded me of the strength of the collective human spirit , the inspiration, the support.

So my darlings, listen to you intuition, use poems, movies, music, nature, connect with other people who share you passion and they will all be amazing sources of inspiration and support. They will open wide the doors to your creative soul. 


The wise soul knows when to let go!