Raw orange and chocolate cake (vegan, GF)

The last few days I can notice that winter is slowly coming to its end for this year, the days are longer, air smells differently, birds are singing more, flower shops are starting displaying beautiful tulips and lovely yellow mimosa flowers… Those are all little changes and we are still having some cold days but all that is making me really excited for Spring! It must be my favourite of all seasons as the nature shows all its beauty, there is an abundance of gorgeous fresh produce in farmers markets and the world becomes warmer and full of lovely colours and smells! Even if I have to say that I love all the seasons, I think I say for every one that is my favourite and I can find so much beauty in each one, that’s one of the reasons I love living in places where there are those four seasons with everything they bring. I know many people dream about living in some exotic destination like a tropical island where you could have Summer all year long and be living in your swimsuit but that is so not my cup of tea! I need my seasons to be happy! 😀


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Vanilla chia pudding & cherry smoothie jar (vegan, GF)

Happy Valentine’s Day dear people! I’ve never really celebrated Valentine’s Day as I don’t like the commercial side of it but I’m always for spreading and sharing love, any day so why not also today! It can be love and a little sweet gesture or treat to your partner, a family member, a friend, yourself or even a total stranger that you can gift with a smile and kindness. Little things are the important things! I know that internet is today full of beautiful decadent chocolate cakes and chocolate hearts filled with strawberries and maybe some day I’ll be posting those too but for now this Vanilla chia pudding & cherry smoothie jar is a bit more modest and simple but still a lovely way to treat yourself or somebody you love! 🙂

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My three years in Kazakhstan

How do you even start writing a blog post about something so big as the three years of one’s life spent living in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in the middle of the Kazakh Steppe (by the way, The Kazakh Steppe is the biggest of its kind in the world, occupying a third of the country)?! I guess you start with writing that first sentence, as everything else in life the most difficult is making that first step and everything after that somehow gets easier. So here you go, my first sentence was the question that I don’t really have an answer to but the first step is done so I’ll just keep writing…
Me and my husband have lived in Kazakhstan for three years (because of his work in hotel industry) before moving to Turkey in 2014 and it has been such an incredible, beautiful, exciting, unexpected, difficult, challenging, life-changing experience that from the moment I started this little blog of mine I knew that sooner or later I want to share at least some of that experience with all of you! So now, nearly 2 years later here it goes, I am FINALLY posting this! 🙂
You may wonder why it took me so long? Well, the main reason was because I had to find the time to organize all the photos because there were sooooo many and I obviously had to make the cut and choose those that I think will give you a feeling of the country and its capital Astana. By the way, Astana is the country’s capital since 1997 (it was previously Almaty) and it means “capital city” in Kazakh language.
This will still be a photo-heavy blog post because I’ll rather leave the photos to do most of the “talking” and tell a story of my time spent in this beautiful and fascinating Central Asian country.
Let’s start with Astana, modern capital city located in the North of Kazakhstan on the Ishim river that has the most beautiful blue colour in summer and turns to ice in those cold winter months…

This giant tent is Khan Shatyr Entertainment and shopping centre, a place where you spend A LOT of time in those long and extremely cold winter months! I’ll talk more about that later but in short, it just gets way too cold to spend any time outside so you basically go by car from one shopping centre to another and there you meet your friends for a lunch or a coffee, walk, use spa, go to the cinema, anything just to avoid being outside on those freezing temperatures!

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Orange, carrot & lemon juice with turmeric and ginger

Last week I have been few days in Rome and it was much needed short but sweet holidays, spent walking the sunny streets of Rome where every little piazza, balcony, window and corner tells a story of the past times, laughing and forgetting about all the problems and difficulties and of course eating delicious Italian food! More on all this in one of the next blog posts where I’ll share photos from my trip but let me just say for the moment that there is no better place to indulge than Italy! Just to mention some of the beautiful food we had, fresh tagliatelle pasta with truffles, spaghetti alle vongole (this pasta with clams is probably my favourite!), amazing antipasti (appetizers) with prosciutto, various cheeses, artichoke hearts, bruschette with fresh tomatoes & basil, olives, than the most wonderful desserts like Cannoli Siciliani (if you never had one, you have to give yourself a mission to do so!), lemon sorbets etc etc etc… All that accompanied by lovely Italian wine of course! I think you get the picture hahaha! My soul is happy now but my scale not so much! 😀

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Beetroot, fennel & apple salad

How are you dear people? Any winter blues out there or are you enjoying those cozy winter evenings under the blanket on your sofa? Me a bit of both I must admit, even if the coziness does win over the blues! 😀 I’m a huge fan of being all nice and cozy and creating those special moments out of something ordinary, like having a cup of hot tea while snuggled under the blanket or lighting candles and having fresh flowers at home to bring some colours and warm light to those dark winter days.

Lately there is a lot of talk and articles written about Hygge, a Danish word that describes just that, taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special.I read somewhere that hygge is “art of creating intimacy” and I can relate to that as it’s in my nature to do those little rituals daily to help me deal with difficulties and seek comfort in the little things that are, at the end of the day, actually the big things. If your life is too stressful and you feel like the time is running away from you and the problems accumulate, remember to breathe and just BE, take a moment to slow down and enjoy some little rituals that feel good to your soul…

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Dark chocolate & figs oat bars

How is your January going so far? I’m still having a bit of that winter-in-the-city blues because days are so short and most of the time it’s very dark outside what makes it difficult to shoot and also to get up early in the morning! No matter how early I go to sleep, I feel so tired in the mornings and have to fight the urge to cover with my duvet over the head and hide from the world. Anybody else have this problem? Anyway, I think it’s quite normal to feel this way from time to time and I know it will get better soon so in the meantime I just need to do all those things that help. Like having a walk out in the fresh air, a long chat and laugh with a friend, light candles for cozy mood at home, watch light and funny TV program like The Big Bang theory or Two and a Half Men, have lots of black and herbal teas and my beloved chicory coffee and of course dark chocolate! 😀

 

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Two purple detox smoothie bowls (vegan, GF)

How are you dear people and how did your 2017 start? I’m still kind of slow and as always those first few days of the new year, feeling like I should be doing a lot and be all nice and organized and have it all planned out while in the reality feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed, like not knowing where to start. Anyone else feeling the same?  But as I always tell myself, when you don’t know where to start just make that first step no matter how small it is and just start… 🙂

So I’m applying the same concept here on the blog and because I was putting myself under so much pressure that in the end most of the work that I had planned for this first week in January in the end didn’t happen. So instead of feeling guilty, I decided to take those first small steps and go from there. I will tell you about these smoothies in a minute but let me introduce them first! 😀

Ladies & gentlemen, here we have one pretty, healthy and delicious raspberry smoothie, just for you…

And here we have snow inspired also pretty, healthy and delicious blueberry smoothie…

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Cranberry pound cake with coconut frosting (dairy-free)

How are you dear people? Are you getting excited for Christmas? We have only few days left to finish decorating our homes, bake all the cookies and cakes we were planning to, buy and wrap all the presents and do (or not!) other million little things that we wanted to do. 🙂
But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if our house is perfectly decorated and if we baked ALL the cookies we were planning to, what matters the most is to spend time with our loved ones, our family or friends, be happy for little but the most important things, put a smile on someone’s face and do some good. In my family we always help somebody in need this time of the year and it’s such a beautiful thing to do, donate to a charity, personally give a little present or financial help to somebody who needs it, spread some love, warmth and positivity. Of course we all love cookies and presents but we should also always remember those who are not fortunate as we are, it’s such an important part of Christmas… <3

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Dark chocolate & orange cookies

I hope you don’t mind another cookie recipe! 😀 Well, it’s 10 days until Christmas (yes, the countdown has started!) so just in time for you to decide to bake these as well together with the ones you were already planning baking. These are soooo good!!! Honestly, these cookies have two major things going for them: 1. they are incredibly easy to make so no skills required and 2. they taste really really good! I’ve always been a huge fan of dark chocolate + orange combination so these are kind of perfect if you ask me. So you basically make a very simple dough, put it in the fridge for few hours, slice it into cookies, bake and than dip into melted chocolate and sprinkle with orange zest and sea salt, so so delicious! And please, please don’t leave out that little sprinkle of sea salt as it takes them to another level, yum.

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Almond cinnamon Christmas cookies (GF, vegan)

It’s two weeks until Christmas and this is the time we all start to bake cookies or look through the recipes to decide which ones we are going to bake for these festive days ahead. I’m sure many of you already have your favourite and I have mine too (you can see some of my favourites here on the blog under Recipes/Christmas) but it’s always nice to change things up a bit and try some new recipes. That’s why I have two new cookies recipes to share with you this week yaaay! 🙂

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