Awareness Spa mini retreats

Baking super seeded bread today and a story of resilience


It's a lovely, cold but sunny spring day ... it feels like the very first day of spring .....and boy oh boy is nature coming to life in my part of the world, on the south coast of England overlooking the sea. So it's great, when not a lot positive is in the news, to see carpets of yellows, reds, violets, oranges and so many more shades of colour in various corners of my town and its public gardens. So after a brisk walk by the beach I decided to bake again(for the second time this week) ...this time a loaf of super seed bread. Let me tell you from the start ... I am not a baker, I've never been interested in baking before, but recently, because I want to go on a wheat free, sugar free diet I decided to be adventurous, to cook all sorts of unusual (for me) dishes. It is a great place to experiment, to be adventurous .... the kitchen! 

The recipe I decided to try comes from the Low-Carb Cookbook by David Cavan and Emma Porter but ... as always, I've changed the recipe a bit given that this is my second attempt at making it. 

Whenever I cook I love to have a movie in the background and .... thanks to the iPad I am able to watch almost whatever I want, almost whenever I want. In the background today I had a lovely movie ... The Million Pound Note starring Gregory Peck (watch it .. it's lovely)

But before sharing with you the recipe, let me tell you a story, a story that involves seeded bread, (my mother used to call it German bread), the second world world, Russia, and my mother, a story the baking of seeded bread triggered. The second world war had a devastating impact on many nations, many families, including my own. Imagine you are 6 year old, living with your family in a tiny village called Besedka in Russia (the village does not exist anymore ... it was re-claimed by nature a long time ago and is now a forest) about 100 Km south of Moscow, on the WW2 Eastern Front.

Imagine that your family has been thrown out of their house to make space for German officers who, together with their soldiers, had occupied the village. My mother seldom spoke much about those times .. it was too painful for her and like many people of her generation she kept those memories deeply buried in her mind ...yet.. those times had put an indelible imprint on her life, the way she looked at people and much more. One of the very few things she told me about those times was that .. the German officer in charge of the occupation of her village was really kind ... he was chubby, loved playing the harmonica, loved children (apparently he missed his own kids) and was often found gifting the children of the village (including my mother) little pieces of German seeded bread which my mother said was absolutely delicious, moist and beautifully wrapped. For children who had very few things to eat ... that bread was pure heaven. But that memory was the only nice thing she was able to tell me about that time. Sometime in 1944/1945 when that same chubby, smiling village officer received his orders to start their retreat, he gave orders to burn all the houses in the village, including our family home.

I can't repeat what happened in our neighbouring village where none of the villagers survived their occupation because "their" occupier left after not only burning the village but also killing the people. Human nature was .... is ....can be ......why is it so? Anyway, here I am ... so, so, many years later ... baking this bread with a bitter sweet feeling - feeling real gratitude for my own life .... but remembering the story it unexpectedly triggered, one that has clearly left a big imprint on me as well as my mother - because it found it's own way from my deepest memory into my consciousness ...... We are complex beings with all sorts of memories, our own and our inherited ones. Now ... let's get back to business ... and see what are the ingredients ... to be continued ... click here 



About wheat free, sugar free blueberry muffin and a touch of love


Ok so another rainy day in Eastbourne! It is probably the wettest winter /spring  I've experienced since I came to England, years ago. It simply doesn't stop for more then a few hours and then, you really need to get ready, get dressed and sprint outside the house for a bit of fresh air, vitamin D and a brisk walk in between another curtain of rain. But ... this is another story for another day .... today we are talking about .. muffins ... and not any kind of muffins but wheat free and sugar free ... healthy? you bet! 


Because a member of my family cannot indulge in sugary products anymore, I am suddenly aware that ... in shops there are hardly any alternative products one can buy. It is not something I am complaining about ... at all ... it is a simple observation, one that made me become a researcher and experimenter in the kitchen (a bit more than I am usually). I am not a fan of muffins and never have been ... it is not something that I grow up with and I can count the muffins I've had in England on my 5 fingers but .... now ... I came across an interesting recipe .... muffins with a twist and ... my curiosity made me ... try it. I can tell you that the result is pretty good, that I will do it again and that my husband liked it a lot. 


Here are the ingredients 


3 eggs 

100 grams ground almonds

50ml milk (any type of milk) 

1/2 tbsp coconut flour

1/2 tsp orange peel grind or lemon 

100 - 150 grams fresh blueberries or raspberries or a combination of the two 

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger 


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Beat the eggs, add the ground almonds, add the milk, add the coconut flour, orange peel grind or lemon grind, cinnamon, ginger and the fruits carefully not to break them. 

If you have paper cases, put them in a muffin tin and start spooning the mixture into them. If you don't, first grease  the 12 hole muffin tin and after that spoon the mixture. 

See, it is really simple. 

Next, put the muffin tin in the oven, make yourself a cup of tea and coffee and 20 minutes later, the muffins are ... done. Remove them from the oven, allow to cool and start eating them or store them in an airtight container until later. 

I have to say that the taste is really good and it works very well with a cup of tea or coffee. You can also eat it with a tsp of yogurt on top or more fresh fruits including a few slices of apples. If you don't have a problem with sugar, you can add a teaspoon of honey. 

Given that one can hardly find something sugar free to buy while enjoying a cup of coffee in town, you can definitely take one muffin in your bag and ... enjoy it in a new environment :) 

How to make a traditional Russian beetroot soup and a healthy energy bar


We live in a world where cookery books seem like travel books - glamorous images of fresh vegetables and captivating words about the magical ingredients in the sauces are everywhere. As someone who has self-published books on creative subjects I know all too well the amount of effort that goes behind the production of a single book. And when that book has lots of beautiful, colourful photos the publishing process takes even longer and the time and effort involved producing it is truly incredible especially if you are doing it yourself. Small armies of people work behind  the scenes in publishing companies in order to launch these books. But I am not going to talk to you about the production of books. Not now! What I want to say is that .. today's cookery books are beautifully created and they deserve the eminence of coffee table books. 

Sadly, the large numbers of incredibly eye pleasing cookery books does not mean that people cook more on a daily basis. People seem happy to buy colourful cookery books, seem happy to watch fancy cookery programs, while munching on crisps and pop corn.............  We live in a more and more voyeuristic world!    It feels increasingly like we are going to the cinema to watch people ... cook!


Years ago, while growing up in Romania, I remember we had two cookery books in our small flat...two books filled with black and white.....text ... no images ... none whatsoever. In spite of that or maybe because of that ... who knows ... there was always activity in our kitchen, my mother chopping vegetables, chopping meat, boiling, frying, cooking all sorts of lovely dishes without using loads of ingredients, with few spices. Yet, every day, day in, day out, after she returned from work, she always seemed able to produce tasty and healthy meals, every day ... I will always remember the yummy  smells reaching me in my bedroom across the hall. 

Believe it or not, cooking or preparing most of what you eat is not just about cooking it is also about relaxing and slowing down is about sharing stories of the day around the kitchen table, about listening and about communicating in a warm and healing space, about being mindful ... there  we are ... the word so many people worship nowadays.  

The other day, on a very, very hot summer day I just felt the need to cook a traditional Russian beetroot soup. It is the type of a dish I remember enjoying when I visited my Russian family in Saint Petersburg and Orel. It is easy to make, delicious and healthy. 

Here is what you need to do:

Prepare the ingredients:

2 medium size beetroots peeled and grated

1 carrot peeled and grated 

1 onion peeled and chopped 

1 tomato diced 

4 small potatoes peeled and chopped 

2 litres of boiling water 

1 Knorr cube

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 grated cabbage

1 squeeze of lemon juice or more depending on your taste 

2 bay leaves

3 garlic cloves crushed 

1 table spoon olive or sunflower oil 


Now for the preparation: 

There's not much to do really. Just heat the olive or sunflower oil in a cooking pot, add the onion, sautee the onion for a few minutes, add the carrots, beetroots, potatoes. Sautee the lot for a further 10 minutes, add the bay leaves and the garlic.....then add the boiling water and then the cabbage and the tomatoes. Next ... nothing ... simply let it simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour and it's done. Enjoy it with a dollop or two of sour cream. Sour cream is a very popular addition to many dishes in Russia and I love it. 

I was never very good at cooking deserts, the type that my mother used to prepare, so any time I come across something sweet that I feel I can prepare, something that does not require the oven ... I am ready to have a go at it. 

The other day I came across something called Three Ingredients Energy Bar .....and of course I had to have a go. The result is not only pleasing .. it is really delicious and goes very, very well with a cup of Turkish coffee or tea. 


So, here is the recipe;



1 cup of almonds

1 cup of dates

1 cup of dried cherries 

....that's all

Put all of the ingredients together in a mixer, pulse until they are all mixed and chopped finely. Next, place the mixture on a plastic sheet or a non stick sheet of cooking paper, spread it evenly (use a roller), cover with another sheet of non stick paper and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Take it out, cut it in squares and store the pieces in an air tight container, in the fridge. They will last for a few good weeks (less the one's consumed two days!!). You can of course make them in the shape of small balls if you want. 

They look very nice if you add some cocoa powder on top. The truth is that you can be very creative with this type of recipe and start making your own combinations using sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, raisins, raw cocoa and of course much more. 







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 ..... 


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?


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! 


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


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 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 ...... 


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! 



Your team Elke, Corina, Anna

We are really passionate about our activities


It's all about laughter!



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


It's about sharing ..


It's about ME time!



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 

Meet your inner Valentine, mini retreat in March ..... photo memories and more




"I really enjoyed the day and meeting some lovely people .... The meditation was both relaxing and stimulating. I also liked the massage. The art session was very therapeutic and expressive of my feelings. I now have the finished piece on the wall. It was also fun which is one way of letting go of tensions.  ...... I have recommended the course to some friends and hope to attend another one"-Elena from East Sussex

A part of me just wants to say ... this is it my darlings, our mini retreat participant said it all......what she experienced, how she felt, the impact on her life.


The "Awareness Spa mini retreats" take place once a month, usually the second Thursday of the month, from 9.30 am until 3 pm.



Location: Natural Wonders Therapies (a quick 10 minutes walk from Eastbourne railway station) 30 Bedfordwell Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 2BL.

So, if you want to enhance your sense of wellbeing through meditation, art therapy, massage, if you would like to increase your confidence, explore raw/living food, experience group spiritual coaching ....and much more,  join our monthly mini retreats.

Photo-26The places are limited and we warmly recommend you to book early in order to avoid disappointment.




Your investment for this exclusive experience is £ 50 , and we ask for £25 non-refundable deposit to secure your place.  Please note that there is a special discounted price for February, March, April ofonly £30. 

Payment: please make your cheques payable to Elke Pollard and send it to her at the address mentioned above.

You can Download Booking Form  in order to learn about our next retreats and to secure your place. 



Do like us on facebook  and email us at for more information.

We look forward to welcoming you on March 11th, when we are going to explore the .... Spring Rebirth ..... at 9.30. It is time for some ME time for you my darlings! 

See you!

About us:

1. Elke Pollard - Born in Germany during the 1960's, Elke was aways sure life has to be lived from the inside out. She lived in the USA for 16 years where she met her husband and gave birth to 4 of their 6 children. Moving to England 17 years ago, life became overwhelming when she was diagnosed with colitis. Being a fighter her motto is always "At least I will finish the race". A turning point came when she realised life wasn't a set of problems to be solved but given as a gift. 

With this new insight, 5 years ago, she started a career as a massage therapist. Helping people out of pain and helping them maintain a healthy mind and body became her foremost interest. Living a holistic life in harmony with mind and body, other people and the environment is now her greatest joy and passion. 

You can find her at

2. Anna Hoffmann - I am a mere blip in creation and follow my calling as closely as possible. I’m delighting in the studies of subtle energy and healing in relation to matter and spend most of my free time chasing ideas and thoughts which will hopefully lead me a little bit closer to truth.

Ever since I can remember have my sensory perceptions been a little bit more fine-tuned giving me a different view of my surroundings. More recently I have delved a bit deeper into the realms of nutrition, psychology, counselling and Tui Na (acupressure) massage. I combine the physical with the energetic world which gives me a unique outlook on life.
My dreams and ideas are funded by my main job as a Healthcare Assistant, which gives me the splendid opportunity of gaining clinical knowledge together with my growth as a person. As much as I am on a journey myself, I aim to help others on their own journey based on my own knowledge and experience.
You can find me at
3. Corina Stupu Thomas - I grew up under the communist regime of my beautiful Romania ……and finally left the country in 2006. Millions of people in this world have suffered. Like many of them, to survive, I had to re-invent myself, to start again, and again, and again. In this journey I have learned important lessons, that life is what you make of it. And that what you make of it can be enhanced if you listen to your intuition, if you really connect with people, if you are not afraid to experiment, if you are willing to learn, if you embrace and work alongside change.  
To find out more about me please go to and

Meet your inner Valentine - wellbeing mini retreat in February

"I attended the January workshop and have had such a boost to my system! I experienced new therapies like art printing, the sound therapy, acupressure and ate delicious foods that I have never tried before. It has really lifted my spirits and awakened a creativity within me. It's an inspiring experience with 3 very inspiring therapists. I don't know any other day out that has left me feeling so up-beat and wanting to know more" - Mel from East Sussex

A part of me just wants to say ... this is it my darlings, our mini retreat participant said it all......what she experienced, how she felt, the impact on her life.

The "Awareness Spa Mini Retreats" take place once a month, usually the second Thursday of the month, from 9.30 until 3pm.

Location: Natural Wonders Therapies (a quick 10 minutes walk from the railway station) 30 Bedfordwell Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 2BL.

So, if you want to enhance your sense of wellbeing through meditation, art therapy, ,massage, if you would like to increase your confidence, explore raw/living food ....and much more,  join our monthly mini retreats.

The places are limited and we warmly recommend you to book early in order to avoid disappointment. Your investment for this exclusive experience is £ 50 , and we ask for £25 non-refundable deposit to secure your place.  Please note that there is a special discounted price for February, March, April of only £30. 

Payment: please make the cheques payable to Elke Pollard and send it to the address mentioned above.

You can Download Booking Form  in order to learn about our next retreats and the secure your place. 

Do like us on facebook  and email us at for more information.

We look forward to welcoming you on February, 14th, at 9.30 for a day dedicated to self-love.

See you my lovelies 



Meet your inner Valentine - wellbeing mini retreat in February

Meet your inner Valentine - wellbeing mini retreat in February

Meet your inner Valentine - wellbeing mini retreat in February

Meet your inner Valentine - wellbeing mini retreat in February