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Apr
16
2014

Coconut Machalebi {dairy free, egg free, wheat free}

Coconut Machalebi

 

My husband and I joke that we are pretty much like the couple in Tina Fey’s movie, Date Night.If you have seen the movie (which is hilarious and I totally recommend), you know that Claire and her husband Phil like routine and go every week to the same local restaurant for a date. Then, one day, they decide to spice it up and go to a posh Manhattan restaurant (without reservation), take someone else’s table and then the movie turns into a funny thriller.In our case, the action part came a few years ago, when we both worked in peacekeeping, and now we have more or less settled into a routine that we love.

Where we are 100% like the Fosters is in our restaurant routine: once we find one that we love, we rarely change, we become regulars and end up knowing the waiter’s names. Every city we  go to, we fall in love with a couple of places and become loyal customers. Back in Abidjan, our hearts belonged to Nuit de Saigon (Vietnamese cuisine), Maroush (Lebanese cuisine), and Restaurant de la Paix (also Lebanese cuisine), in Belgrade we chose Kosava and Tribecca, in Florence, Ristorante Pinolo and Open View (overlooking the Arno)  in Barcelona, Ugarit (Sirian cuisine), and here in Cyprus, we love Karvounomageiremata, Sitio and the Syrian-Arab Friendship club. I’m sure there are plenty of other great places, but these are the ones we adore.

Did you notice a trend in the list above?

Yes, we love Middle Eastern cuisine and we always find a middle eastern restaurant wherever we go.  Hoummous, tabbouleh, fatayer, fattoush, falafel…you name it, we   have probably tried and most certainly loved it. But for some reason, before coming to live in Nicosia I had never tried Middle Eastern desserts (except Baklava, of course). Then one night, we were given a complimentary Machalebi with our mint tea and  I was smitten. The texture was so soft it almost melted in my mouth, and its sweet, rose flavour was utterly delicious.

The problem was that it was made with milk and cream- and as you know, I don’t eat dairy. So I came up with my own version.

 

Coconut Machalebi

I checked a couple of recipes, changed this, removed that, and ended up with this recipe: My coconut machalebi, made with equal parts coconut milk and coconut cream, lots of rose water and a little bit of sugar.

And the best part? It takes about 15 minutes to make so it’s ideal for those times when we don’t have loads of time, yet want to impress our guests with an unusual, exquisite dessert. It is also pretty allergy friendly because it doesn’t have dairy, eggs or wheat.

I chose coconut milk and cream because of their luscious texture, but if they are hard to find where you leave, just replace them by other non-dairy versions. In this occasion I used caster sugar so as not to affect the pearly white texture of the dessert, but if you prefer not to use refined sugar, you can use coconut sugar for a change. It will then be brownish in color, but still yummy.

Coconut Machalebi

 Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Machalebi (serves 6)

Ingredients: 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk, 1 can (400 ml) coconut cream, 3/4 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup caster sugar, 2 tablespoons rose water 4 tablespoons of pistachios, roughly chopped. For the rose syrup: 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup caster sugar, 2 tablespoons of rose water.

Preparation:

1) In a bowl, mix coconut milk and cornstarch until the latter dissolves. Set apart.

2) Put the coconut cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to the boil, then reduce heat to minimum and let it simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring constantly to prevent the sugar from caramelizing at the bottom.

3) Once the sugar has dissolved, add the coconut milk and cornstarch, and the rose water and let the preparation simmer until it starts to thicken, stirring with a whisk.

4) Once the preparation starts to thicken, remove from the heat and whisk vigorously to ensure a smooth, silky texture.This will also allow the preparation to cool down a little bit.

5) Pour the preparation into ramequins or small bowls, add a teaspoon of chopped pistachios, cover with foil and let chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the rose syrup.

6) Prepare the syrup: Put water and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the rose water and let the syrup cool.

7) Remove the machalebi from the refrigerator, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of rose syrup to each ramequin and serve.

Coconut Mahalebi

 

 

 Do you have a favorite cuisine? Let me know in the comments below!

Apr
09
2014

The big O of overwhelm, and everything I have been doing this month

Good morning dear friends!

I know, I know, it has been AGES since I last wrote here. Do you still remember me? I’m Marcela. You haven’t seen me in a while, I know, but I promise I have been thinking about you!

So, what happened? Why haven’t I been here, you may ask…Well, since it’s confession time I’m going to be completely honest with you, my dear readers who have been with me for quite a while. It’s a simple formula, really:

Homeschooling + housework +mothering + lots of work = OVERWHELM

As I mentioned in this post, back in December, our routine was pretty much turned upside down when we found out that we would have to homeschool our children. Homeschooling is a serious responsibility and, even though we are accompanied by the most wonderful therapists*, who are helping our children develop and who are guiding us through the process, there was still a steep learning curve involved in it. In addition, our children had left school feeling very nervous and vulnerable for all they had been through, and it took a few months for them to relax and be at ease again.

When a major change happens in our lives, it always takes some time for us to find our center. A new center, a new normal. When two major life events occur at the same time, the shock to our routines is even greater. And when changes are sudden, we sometimes are reluctant to let go of the past and step into our new reality.That is what tends to happen to me. I tend to disregard the change and try to do it all, wonder woman style.

Except, of course, that I am not wonder woman.

So what ends up paying the price is my self-care and, after a while, overwhelm makes a noisy entrance. The big O of Overwhelm is the big elephant in the room that, time after time, I refuse to see.

During these past months of trying to do it all and failing at it, I was also sick more times than in the past 5 years. I was, literally, exhausted and given that my mind refused to acknowledge it, my body decided to force me to rest by getting ill.

Finally, in late January, I got the message and decided to stop,to prioritize, to go back to the fantastic system designed in  Life is Messy Bootcamp, and to plan.

So I prioritized family and work, and this blog lagged behind until I managed to find a way to come back.

And now I have, so here I am again. And I am so,so happy to be back.

Would you like to know what I have been working on? (hint: it’s exciting!)

Here are the details:

1) Photographing Life is Messy Kitchen

The big secret is now out, so I can tell you that I have been photographing Mayi Carles’ s upcoming cookbook, Life is Messy Kitchen. It is going to be a wonderful book, with TONS of recipes and MANY pictures that I hope you will love. How many pictures, you may ask? I will only reveal that I submitted 495 (though of course not all of them will be included). Here’s a sneak peak at what is inside.

Life is Messy Kitchen by Marcela Macias Photography- The big O of Overwhelm

 2) Photographing recipes for Heartmade blog:

Another super cool, super fun job: Since January I became the official photographer of the kitchen section of Mayi Carles’s Heartmade blog. I photograph two recipes per month and they are all delicious, dairy free and, mostly, gluten free,so be sure to pass by Mayi’s blog to get them. The pictures below are only some of the recipes you can find there.

Recipes by Marcela Macias Photography- The Big O of Overwhelm

3) Photographing Mayi Carle’s products for her etsy shop and the planners of her Life is Messy Bootcamp

Yes, I have been working with Mayi a lot and I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful client. Everything she does is so beautiful and she works with such attention to detail that photographing her products is a real treat. She has also talked about me in her blog, which moved me deeply and made me feel incredibly thankful for our collaboration.

Products, by Marcela Macias Photography-The Big O of Overwhelm

 4) Photographing the coolest book about juicing, and some gorgeous products

I was also honored to be chosen as a photographer by amazing creatives such as Marbel Canseco, Laura Fischer Smith, Raquel Deville and my very favorite nutritionist, Claire Stone. Take a look at the work I did for them, below.

Lifestyle and products by Marcela Macias Photographt-The Big O of Overwhelm

 

So there you have it. That is what I have been doing these past three months.

Now that I have spilled the beans, I need your help:

I want to bring you a recipe for next week’s post but I can’t decide which one! So tell me: SAVOURY OR SWEET? What are you craving these days?

Let me know in the comments below !

 

 

 

 

*Our children have developmental delays that require Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and the assistance of a Special Needs Teacher. We are also supported by a wonderful parental counselor,who has held our hand for the past two years and has supported us emotionally during this process. All this, that once seemed so terrible, nowadays just IS, and it doesn’t affect our commitment to living a happy life and to teach resilience to our children.
If you are in Nicosia, Cyprus,  you are confused and scared and your child needs any of these therapies, feel free to email me. I would be happy to recommend our amazing team of professionals.
Jan
13
2014

Homeschooling Luka and Zoe: Montessori activities

 

 

homeschooling, family, children, special needs

Good morning dearest friends!

Today’s post is part of  the Montessori Inspired Activities for Preschoolers book tour.

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When we started our homeschooling journey, a few months ago, there was a lot of confusion. I have decided not to discuss the details or the reasons that led to that decision because I would like our children’s life to remain as private a possible, but I will say that it was sudden and it was preceded by a lot of stress.

I had never planned to homeschool my children and one of the things that worried me the most was what to do with them all day long, how to make sure that they learnt what they needed to learn and that they were stimulated and engaged with the activities I could prepare- and how to do all this on a budget, because the decision didn’t come with a winning lottery ticket.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I was used to planning tons of activities for he Summer months…but this was a longer period of time and, to be honest, at first I fell scared. Montessori inspired activities for preschoolers (Remember when I first talked about it in this post?) was Godsend during those days and it still is one of the books we use more often at home.

montessori-inspired-activities

Why? Because the activities are super simple to put in practice in a matter of seconds, most of them can be done with things you already have at home and kids love them.  Besides, all activities are very adaptable to each child’s development and Jo provides suggestions for increasing difficulty when your child is ready, so I can make small twists here and there and they never get bored!

PicMonkey Collage

Every day, we make at least a couple of activities from the book, whether it is threading beads, pouring, building structures, observing shapes, matching, or simply spooning or preparing a snack. The beauty of the Montessori system and the genius way in which Jo has made it accessible, is that the everyday is transformed into a learning experience.

Take the pictures above, for example. The sculptures that Luka and Zoe were building were supposed to be made with marshmallows. But we noticed that the styrofoam peanuts that came with the packaging of my new computer had a similar shape, so we had tons of fun using those for hours. Then we talked about the shapes we created, about balance (why a structure made with two peanuts only was falling down, for example) and did some matching, by grouping shapes together. Finally the shapes became characters and we ended up inventing silly stories! A whole afternoon of fun with a couple of packaging peanuts!

Or check the home made sensory box below. We made it by adding different kitchen items and small toys (but we keep changing the toys, to be honest). The kids use it as a sensory box, as a way to de-stress by just playing with the orzo and rice in it, as a ” swimming pool” for their toys during creative play and we also practice fine motor skills by spooning objects in and out, or by transferring them using pincers.

sensory-box800

So, my friends, if you need a book that you can use with your children over and over again and that is full of simple activities that your child will love, look no further. This book is my Bible**

_____________________________________.

 * Montessori inspired activities for preschoolers was written by my friend Jo Ebisujima . Over 6 years ago Jo, who lives in Japan with her husband and her 8 year old son and runs the course My Organized Chaos ,  started blogging about the Montessori activities that she did at home when her son was little. As they were on a tight budget so many of the activities were done using everyday household equipment. Jo believes that the Montessori method should be available to every child.

The book is also available on the Book Depository with free International Shipping

**None of the links in this post are affiliate, which means that I don’t make money if you buy the book. I participated in this blog tour because I truly love the book and I am thankful to Jo for having written it.

Jan
11
2014

New year, new beginnings: welcome to my new website!

Good evening dear friends!

Oh my, how I have missed you! I never intended to take such a long break, but life took over and last December (including all of us getting sick at the same time!) between work + homeschooling and getting the new website ready I hardly slept!

But now, the new website is finally ready I’m so eager for you to see all the big changes! Because this time, though not immediately apparent, the changes are not only cosmetic.

Do you remember how this blog started? Do you remember the old logo I had designed myself the best I could following an online tutorial? Do you remember the blue and white polkadot background? Here’s a pic to make you travel back in time, to those days of May 2011.

TCG1st

 The first recipe I posted was one of cupcakes made out of failed swiss meringue buttercream, and the first party, my very own 35th birthday. And so I blogged for a year about my life, my cooking and my children. And then, just a few days after the blog’s 1st birthday, the blog got a drastic face-lift by the super talented Jessica Sims. After hundreds of emails and months of work we changed colors, fonts and layout, we categorized posts and made the blog more user friendly. And it looked like this:

TCG old

 

And now, over 18 months from that day, it’s time for a new change. And a bigger one at that.

Because The Celebration Girl hasn’t only changed fonts, categories and background colors. No.

From today, this blog starts to be a part of something bigger: a new career path. A career built around what I love doing, what I have long wanted to do, and what I believe.

my new website


Will you join me in this new adventure?

Dec
05
2013

A Christmas Gift guide full of heart-made products

Good evening dear friends!

Here we are again, at the beginning of the Christmas season, with the year almost reaching its end, and what a year this has been! 2013 has been an intense year for us and this year I have the feeling that December arrived without me-the all time Elf- being quite ready for it. Has this ever happened to you?

So  I thought that a good way to begin the advent would be to bring you a Christmas gift guide, to help you in your shopping early on. But this is not just any gift guide, it is a one made of products I love, products made with love themselves, and created by passionate, dedicated inspirational women that I was incredibly lucky to meet, for the most part, at Mayi Carles‘  Life is Messy Bootcamp. I want to make it very clear that none of the links below are affiliate links (with the exception of the link to my amazon store). I obtain no commission if you shop through them, I am simply sharing with you what I like.

But before we begin in what you will give to others, you may be interested in these yourself:

a-Beth Sutherland’s Magical advent Christmas planners.
Beth has created a series of pretty and practical planners to get you organized this Christmas season. It was designed for busy Mums who would love some easy peasy structure as well as access to wonderful ideas and tips to make the most of their family’s Christmas experience in a pleasant and relaxing way.It includes over 30 different printables,including shopping lists, gift lists, activity lists and many more. Beth also has an free series of advent emails and posts you can sign up for, that are bursting with fun and production ideas to help make your 2013 Christmas season the best.

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b- Kim Gosney’s  30 day energizer , which starts tomorrow, is a project created to give your business and  your life a burst of energy before the year ends and to help you dream a wonderful 2014. It’s free, it lasts 30days and it aims to put the fun back into your workday and put your energy behind your BIG dreams for 2014. -

energize

Now let’s get started!

1) Gift to bring order into chaos and energy into projects: 

 My Organized Chaos - This is the perfect course for mamas who want an organized home, organized parenting and an organized mind but don’t know where to start or how to go about it.

This month the course comes with  a free call  to help you  “Get You Partner On Board”, which will include tips, tricks and deep discussion on how to get your partner doing more at home and with the parenting.
gives-you-organized-home-mind-parenting

2) Gifts for the crafty persons in your life: 

Mariana, the name behind the shop, has the ability to make everything cute and is generous enough to share her talent with us. Check her etsy store for different sewing kits and other handmade objects.
MeiasMarias_store
I talked to you about Raquel last year, when I became fascinated with her soft toys made out of children’s  drawings. Now Raquel has created a workshop to teach us all how to sew   those dolls and soft toys ourselves. She now has a special offer, of 2 workshops (for making single colored toys and multicolored ones) for only 49 euros. You can read everything about them here.
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3) Gift for the little explorers in your life: 

Jo Ebisujima (the creator of My Organized chaos) is also a talented crafter with a passion for education, who makes beautiful cloth treasure maps printed with eco friendly inks, and that are perfect for little explorers everywhere. Well designed and durable, they can even be thrown in the wash if accidentally dropped in a swamp whilst adventuring. It was designed with kids with imagination in mind, which is why it has no words so it can be used by any child of any language and they have total control of the names of the places they are off to explore. Jo is offering my readers a free shipping discount, and all you need to do is use the code THANKS13 during purchase.
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4) Gifts for the women in your life:  

a- Natascha Ratzlaff’s Purple peacock jewels, which are victorian inspired elegant, exotic, sensual and totally goddessy (is that a word?), as you can see from the picture below. Plus if you use the code CELEBRATIONgirl20 during purchase either at Natascha’s etsy shop or on https://www.facebook.com/purplepeacock2011 you will get a discount!

 

 

filigree earrings

 

b- Giardinoblu: Italian artist Francesca Mancini creates stunning pieces of jewelery out of organic materials, such as rice (yes, that stunning ring is made with rice!) He shop, Giardinoblu, is an independent lab that works with organic and eco jewel in unique pieces only, by recycling and upcycling material and getting its inspiration from Nature. Check it out here.

 

 

giardinoblu

 

5- Gifts for those  in need of inspiration and a little push to align their lives to their true purpose

a- Andrea Hiltbrunner’s Blossomize your life 2014 planner. Andrea is an intuitive mentor and guide for women who want to discover their heart’s desires and treasures that lie within themselves. This year, she created a 2014 planner designed to to help women grow their vision for their lives so they could reach their full potential. She called it the Blossomize your Life Planner and it is available with a Pay what you Wish option.


blossomize

 

 

b- Kimberly Gosney’s 365 day project, a lovely 365 day business coaching program to achieve the business and life of one’s dreams. The best part? The payment for one full year is a donation to Pencils of Promise so that new schools can be built for those who have no access to education. You can hear Kimberly speaking about her project HERE (get ready to feel inspired)

 

365 days

 

 

 

 

6- Gifts for the Spanish-speaking photography aficionado:

My dear friend and amazing photographer Jackie Rueda has created gift certificates for her courses. The amazing thing about these is that Jackie’s courses fill up really fast (sometimes as fast as 3 minutes!) so getting someone a secure place in one of her courses is a double gift. All courses are absolutely fantastic and  I couldn’t recommend them more.
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7)  A gift for the readers, the naturalists, the scientists and pretty much everyone else

I have just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, The Signature of all things and I couldn’t recommend it more. A truly wonderful read for anyone passionate about good literature. You can see the book trailer here.

the-signature-of-all-things
And that’s it and but it’s not all! I happen to know from a good source that talented artist Iluska Ikeda (a.k.a Mrs Ricefield) is organizing an online Winter Art Camp for children and adults alike! I think this would be a great gift for budding artists, so I will let you know as soon as it is open for registration! In the meantime, you can check Iluska’s art work here and her blog here.
May you have a wonderful, happy week, my dear friends!
Dec
02
2013

Finding the way back to (a new) normal + Vegan & refined sugar free apple pie

Vegan refined sugar free apple pie

 

 

 

Good evening dear friends!

It’s been such a long, long time since I last visited this, my happy place, since I last talked to you, my dear friends. Summer came and went and so did most of Autumn (my favorite season!), and it is only now that the advent is almost upon us that our lives have regained some sort of normality, of calm and that I begin to find the way back to the words I have been wanting to write for a while.

So here I am, listening to The Piano, which is the soundtrack with which I have written every post of this blog, and thinking about the roller coaster of emotions that have been the last few months (pardon the cliché).

You see, On the 1st week of October: 1) We pulled Luka and Zoe out of their new school, worried about the high levels of stress that they were enduring and, advised by a psychologist,  decided to home school them (insert worry, doubts and sadness), 2) We lost our babysitter ( a big deal for expats like us, trust me) and 3)  I started working, from home, on the most amazing project I could have ever dreamed (insert jumps of joy and huge smiles).  Our daily lives, and the plans we had for the immediate future, as you can imagine, changed pretty much overnight, and it has taken a while for all of us to re adjust and find the calm and quiet of a new normal.

 

 

apple-pie-whole-wm

 

During all this time there were many occasions in which I sat at the computer with the intention to type a new blog post, only to be met by the most atrocious writer’s block. It seemed as though I had run out of words or, rather, as if I had too many words waiting to be said,  too many raw emotions inside of me battling to be put on paper first.  Should I talk to you about the sadness and worry for our children’s well being that had haunted us during September, or should I talk about the relief we found when, unexpectedly and surprisingly, we decided to home school them? And how to discuss the joy, hope and personal fulfillment that  the new project I am working on had brought into my life? How could I piece those feelings together, in a blog post, or two, or three, when I was still dazed myself by all that had occurred?

I couldn’t.

And the more I thought about it, the more daunting the task seemed. As days and then weeks passed by, this first blog post acquired mythical proportions and it became more and more difficult to write.

Until this week, when  I realized I didn’t have to do any of this: that I can  take my time to write about it all in greater detail when the words come to me  in their own time, and that I could just come back here being me, the confused, worried, joyful, warm and simply  happy me that I have always been. And that I could just say hello to you again, bring you a piece of pie, and ask you (like old friends do):

How have you been, my dears, during all this time? 

apple-pie_2600wm

 

And speaking of pie, here’s the recipe I promised:

 

Vegan & refined sugar free apple pie

Ingredients: For the crust:400 grs all purpose flour, 200 grs margarine, cold (the best quality you can find, preferably from the health food store), 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar, 1/4 cup very cold water. For the filling: 2 big Granny Smith apples, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in cold water, 7 tablespoons coconut palm sugar, 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon.

Preparation:

1) Make the crust: Put flour, sugar and margarine in the food processor. Pulse until the flour reaches a sand-like consistency. Add water while the processor runs, until the dough separates from the bowl. Wrap the dough in foil and let it rest in the refrigerator for one hour. Note:  If you don’t have a food processor, use two knives to incorporate flour, sugar and margarine.

2) After one hour, pre heat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in two. Roll one half and cover the botton of a pie dish with it.

3) Prepare the filling: Peel and finely slice the apples and put them in the pie dish. Mix the dissolved cornstarch, coconut sugar and cinnamon and pour it evenly over the apples, to coat. Cover the dish with the other half of dough and bring it to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden. Serve warm and, if you are feeling decadent, accompanied by a scoop of good quality vanilla bean ice cream.

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Jul
26
2013

10 tips to plan fun summer themes and activities for kids+ FREE resources

summer themes and activities for kids

Spending  Summer at home with kids means fun, water games and crazy schedules, right? Well, yes,  but, let’s be honest, it frequently also means facing the inevitable  “I AM BORED” (with tons of emphasis) and  “I don’t know what to do!” and, in those cases, having a few summer themes and activities that are easy to put together in a whim and that will keep our children happy and stimulated becomes very (VERY) important.

So, if you are facing the prospect of a full month of August at home with your kids, and would like to be prepared, this post is for you! I have put together my tips for planning themes and gathering activities around them, so that you can plan the ones that are best for your child, and I have included a downloadable pdf with a list of great things to have at home to quickly put together fun projects and games. You can take this list with you when shopping for supplies and you can also use it as a checklist for things to recycle.

 

WHY PLAN ACTIVITIES AROUND THEMES

 

I know you may be wondering this. I  also asked myself this question in the past and, after having tried this system, here are my reasons:

*  Having a few themes makes it easier to find activities (I’ll show you how)

* It is easier to gather resources,which can then be reused several times within the same them

* Children get to explore a subject in greater depth, and when the subject is one they are already interested in, they get the most out of it.

  Ready to get started? Here are my tips!

HOW TO PLAN FUN SUMMER THEMES AND ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS

 

1) Observe  your child:  What does your child like? What activities does he enjoy? What is he attracted to? What books does he prefer? Follow you child’s lead when choosing themes for greater success. For example, one of our themes this year is Space, because both Luka and Zoe are fascinated with stars, planets, galaxies, aliens and the solar system. As a consequence, every activity I suggest in this theme is quickly embraced and we have been able to do much more with it than if I had randomly chosen something else.

2) Think about some areas where your child may be struggling: Look at what your child is struggling with and use the opportunity to reinforce those areas through play and fun activities. Let him learn without realizing it. For example, if your child has an immature pencil grip or can’t use scissors properly, you could check this website for ideas on games that you can do with him in order for him to get better . If your child needs to work on controlling his temper, or getting better at socializing, you could check this website, makes face dolls with toilet paper rolls, use puppets to talk about feelings, etc.

3) Pick a few themes. After you have observed what your child likes and what he needs, decide on a few themes. I like to chose just a few, no more than 3 or 4, because I find that a bigger number can be overwhelming, especially when planning.

4) Create Pinterest boards: This is the fun part where we get to use pinterest for research ;) I suggest opening a pinterest board for each theme, it will help you keep everything organized-remember that you then have to be able to use those ideas and in order to do that, you first need to find them.

5) Research: I use pinterest a lot for this purpose and I also visit my favorite children blogs. Here they are:

Modern Parents Messy Kids

Pink and Green mama

Mrs Ricefield

All the bloggers in this pinterest board

Remember to look for activities that are developmentally appropriate. If they are too easy, your child may get bored. If they are too difficult, he may become frustrated. Show him the next step, not the end of the ladder.

6)  Start making lists of activities for each theme

7) Take a good look at your lists and ponder:Which ones are more complicated  and require some preparation (example, planning an experiment, or building a rocket ship according to NASA’s instructions)?Which ones can be put together in no time and are sure to entertain bored little minds?  Take a calendar and plan when to do the more complicated ones, but be realistic with your time and resources. I normally mix a more complicated one per day, or every two days, with simple ones (such as sensory work) and free time. You can decide to schedule themes per week or mix them all during the week, according to your child’s motivation and interests.

8) Write a bucket list. From each theme, select some to put into your list of things that you don’t want the Summer to end without having done. Themes aside, which other experiences do you wish to have this summer with your children. Make this a summer to remember!

9) Make a list of emergency activities Make a list of activities that are reaaaaaaaly easy to put together in a whim, for emergencies, and glue it to your fridge. I find that sensory work and water play work wonders in these cases.

10)Gather the materials:  Now that you know what you want to do, look around your house: what do you already have that can be used?What do you need to buy?  I find that a well stocked art basket/box is a precious tool because it allows us to always have the right resources on hand to bring all our projects to life. Luka and Zoe call it “the magic box” because we always find something fun to do with it. In order to help you put one together, I have attached below a pdf with my own list of resources. Use it to gather things around the house and to go shopping, if needed!

 

Click here to get the pdf list “what to include in an art box

 

Last but not least, my dear friend Jo Ebisujima wrote  a fabulous kindle ebook with +50 Montessori activities for kids aged 2-6 years old that was written by my dear friend Jo Ebisujima (she interviewed me last Sunday, by the way) and which is being offered FREE TODAY.  So  go grab your copy!

montessori-inspired-activities

Now it’s your turn: do you plan your summer activities? which are your favorite ones? Let me know in the comments below!

Jul
11
2013

My favorite homemade muesli recipe

 

homemade muesli recipe

Last Monday, after I finished writing the last post and started taking notes on the one I had planned for today, I realized that it had been over a month since the last time I had posted a recipe! A month?! How could this be?!

It’s true that the ebook of vegetarian, detox friendly, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free and egg free summer recipes had been released in the meantime, but still…unacceptable! ;)

So I decided to remedy this and, for this reason, I am bringing you today my favorite homemade muesli recipe, and adding possible variations to suit you in case you have any food allergies or intolerances- on in case you just don’t like some of the ingredients.

homemade muesli recipe

This muesli, together with granola, is one of my favorite breakfast options. It is, not only lush, but also really healthy and it gives me long lasting energy. During school times, when I know I will be in a rush, I make big batches of it and store them in glass jars, so that i just need to put a few spoons in a bowl, pour some vegetable milk over it, let it sit for a few minutes while I prepare my children’s breakfast or boil the water for chamomille tea, and it’s ready!

homemade muesli recipe

 

 

Ready to try it? Here it goes

 

HOMEMADE MUESLI RECIPE

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons oats, 1 teaspoon chia seeds, 1 teaspoon raw cocoa nibs, 1 tablespoon hazelnuts, 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds, 1 cup vegetable milk,  1 tablespoon raisins, 1/2 cup fresh fruits to top it all.

Preparation: Put the oats in a bowl, add the seeds and nuts and pour the milk over them. Let it sit for a few minutes (or overnight, covered, in the refrigerator if you like the oats to be really soft), add the raisins and fresh fruits and enjoy!

Variations:

1) You may replace hazelnuts for any other nut (almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil, whichever you prefer)

2) If you can’t eat nuts, add another seed (such as pumpkin seeds, for example)

3) If you can’t eat oats, you may replace them by millet, rice  or quinoa flakes.

4) If you have a gluten allergy or intolerance, use gluten free oats or make the replacements above

5) You can replace raisins by any dried fruits, such as dried cranberries, goji berries, or dried apricots, for example.

6) You may omit the raw cocoa nibs- I love their crunchy bitterness but this is a matter of taste, of course.

7) In Summer I like to use frozen fruits to top the muesli, because it adds freshness to it-hence the frost present in the picture’s raspberries. This is a matter of choice. Chose whatever you prefer, or have on hand!

 

 

homemade muesli recipe

 

Now it’s your turn: what do you generally have for breakfast? have you ever made muesli before? Please share in the comments below!

Jul
08
2013

6 great resources for fun Summer activities {Summer at home with kids}

summer activities

 Summer, summer, summer….what does it mean to you? Holidays? The Beach? Warm weather? Relaxation?

Chances are that, if you are a mum, Summer also means Kids at home 24/7 , and that your google searches from the end of May until the end of August are mostly focused on finding cool, entertaining, educational, fun and, yes, affordable, summer activities to do with kids.Am I right? Are you like me?

Then this blog post is for you!

As I mentioned before, Luka and Zoe are not going to Summer school this year, nor are we going on holidays because of my husband’s work, so this has meant finding TONS of activities to keep their energetic little minds and bodies active, stimulated and entertained.  Summer in Cyprus is very, very hot, so it is not possible for us to spend all day outside and, since we live in an apartment, several activities have to adapted, but we make it work!

In following posts I will tell you all about how we are planning each day (schedules, schedules!) and I will share with you specific ideas, activities and resources for our “Summer themes” but, for today, here’s a list of general books I have found more useful in this process. With these resources on hand I know I’ll never run out of ideas for fun summer activities!

Here they are:

6 great resouces for fun Summer activities 

1)The Pre-schoolers busy book: 365 creative games & activities to occupy 3-6 year olds: This is a wonderful general resource book that you can use all year long, for many years.   What I love about this book is that it has resources for everything: rainy days, cooking with children, outdoor adventures, drama and music, arts and crafts, and even holiday activities. It also included lists of material to buy and recycle, lists of age-appropriate books and home-made recipes for things such as play-dough and bubble solution. If your child is smaller than 3 years, you may want to know that we had the previous one too (The Toddler’s busy book) and it is also great!

summer activities

2) Camp mom: Summer activities pack: This is an ebook created by 20 blogger mums, full of guidance on how to plan, schedule and execute tons of super fun activities in three main themes: water, art and nature. Many of the ideas can be used all year long, and it also contains an area called “sensory play every day” which is great for emergencies (a.k.a I need an idea FAST!) and which includes links to sensory activities.

 

summer activities

3) Self-Esteem games: 300 activities that make children feel good about themselves: I really love this book and it has been a wonderful resource for encouraging a sense of self in Luka and Zoe. The games help children focus on the things they do well, learn to love their names, getting to know themselves (their bodies, their feelings and emotions, their reactions) and learning how to be with others, how to trust and express affection. If you have a child who has been bullied or who has gone through a difficult first socialization experience, this is a beautiful book to add to your library.

summer activities

4) Science is Simple: Over 250 activities for pre-schoolers: Children are naturally curious about the World around them and the early years are a great time to teach them to think scientifically: to question, to observe, to hypothesize, to draw conclusions. This book teaches children (and the adults teaching them) to be mindful about the world and think about things such as why do tree leaves change color, how to seeds grow, what is melting, what can the wind do, where do trees come from, how to explore the unknown and many, many others. What I love about this book is that it teaches children to find their own answers to the multiple whats, whys and hows they encounter everyday, and to be active in the finding of knowledge and not mere receptacles of the ideas of others.

summer activities

5) Montessori Geography curriculum: This ebook was originally conceived to help Montessori teachers, but I have found wonderful ideas in it as well (and it’s free!). The main idea of the Montessori Geography curriculum is to help children develop spatial awareness and understand themselves as part of a bigger group that includes neighbourhood, city, country, continent and, ultimately, our planet. The instructions are detailed and the activities are, even though the country geography lessons are US-specific, they are easily adaptable.

summer activities

6) Art not craft ebook: I love this ebook! I was not a creative person before having children and their artistic explorations opened a whole new world for me. This book provides instructions, ideas and resources for drawing, painting, printmaking, collage and even making sculptures, as well as ideas on  how to prepare a creative space,  how to store art materials and how to store artwork. (Note: the ebook I bought is no longer available for purchase and has been replaced by a book called “Time to create”, which is very similar)

In my next blog posts I will share with you our Summer themes (you may have guessed them from my book descriptions!) as well as the specific activities and resources that I have planned for each of them, so make sure to come back for more ideas. Or even better, subscribe to this blog in the pink box below to receive them all directly in your inbox!

Now it’s your turn: how are you planning your kid’s summer and what are your favourite resources for doing so? Let me know in the comments below!

NOTE: The links above ARE NOT affiliate ones. If you want to purchase these books using my affiliate link, you can go to The Celebration Girl’s amazon store

Jul
04
2013

Summer reading: 5 books to think & cultivate mindfulness

summer reading

Summer is here, and we are already in July. Can you believe it? I have the feeling that, even though we still have two more months to go, time is running by and I am going to wake up one day and it will suddenly be time to take the children to school again.

Luka and Zoe are not going to Summer school this year, so we are spending tons of time playing together at home. We are reading new books, experimenting with new art projects and science experiments, taking daily trips to the park to run, and explore nature. I will tell you all about that from next Monday, and I will share with you all our tips, ideas and lists, in case you find yourself in need of some extra inspiration.

But today, I wanted to do something different. Today I wanted to suspend the children chat and talk, instead, about you and me, adults (parents or not) and the things we like to read.

summer reading

I am and have always been a bookworm. My eyes sparkle whenever I think about libraries (or lately, my kindle). As a child, I used to disappear and go under my bed with a book, to read without being bothered. In my eyes, Books held all the magic of the world in their pages- and to a point, they still do.

I read pretty much everything and anything, depending on my mood. These days I am in a reflective mood, so these are the books you can find on my nightstand and that will be a part of my summer reading list.

SUMMER READING: 5 books to think, cultivate mindfulness and find inner peace

 

1) Zen under Fire: How I found peace in the midst of war, by Marianne Elliott: I actually finished this book already, but I’m planning to read it again. It was written by my yoga professor, Marianne Elliott (I talked to you about her in this post about self-care), and it talks about her life as a Human Rights Officer for the UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan), about what she learned in Afghanistan about the country and its people, about the stress and depression she suffered while living there, and  about how she found her way back to herself, with the help of yoga and meditation. Marianne’s humanity and kindness transpires from every word of this book and, having lived through a similar experience, I found myself nodding in agreement many, many times.

2) Women who run with the wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés: This is one of those books that kept “falling off the shelves” in front of my eyes for years, yet I had never read. Mentors had recommended it, friends had given it to me as a present, persons I admire kept quoting it, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it past page 15. It was not the right time, I suppose. But now, after the 5th try, it seems to be.  I am finally connecting to the author and what she says and, to be honest, I have no idea why I didn’t like it before! This is a deeply feminist book and quite poetic. I have been told that the audiobook is particularly fascinating because Dr Estes’s enchanting voice, but I have yet to try that version.

3) Yoga: the science of the soul, by Osho: I first learned about Osho and his philosophy back in 2004. My former yoga professor used to organize reading sessions, where he would chose a passage of a book (normally by Krishnamurti or Osho), read it, and we would them discuss it. I fell in love with Osho and his way of explaining concepts that had seemed complicated to me before. In this book, Osho explains Patanjali’s yoga sutras, and goes deep into them. If you have been practicing yoga for a while and would like a deeper understanding of yoga, this book is for you.

4) The book of Ego, also by Osho: Another book that I hadn’t been able to read until now. It was given to me by a very dear friend, from her own collection, 6 years ago, but the time never felt right. I am loving it now, really loving it.

5)  Buddhism for mothers of young children, by Sarah Napthali: I had been meaning to get this book since I read the reviews and discussions that happened at Modern Parents Messy Kids’ book club. This book is not only for Buddhists (I am not one myself), it’s a book for anyone who wants to cultivate mindfulness and be more present in their children’s lives. I have only finished chapter 1 so far, but that is because I stop every two sentences and ponder how what I read applies to my life. Each chapter starts with an important question ( where am I? where am I going? who am I? who are my children? is this all? what does this moment require? what can I do about all the housework? can I change my ways? how do I handle my negativity? how can I be my best?) and the book in general  is a beautiful reminder of the importance of being here and now, for our children and for ourselves as well, of adopting a beginner’s mind, of choosing to focus on the good even when we notice the bad, and it gives plenty of resources and ideas to bring mindfulness to the every day. I highly recommend it.

summer reading

 

How about you, dear friends? What’s on your reading list these days? Please, share with me in the comments below!

NOTE: The links above ARE NOT associate links. If you would like to purchase these books on amazon through my affiliate link and thus contribute to future blog giveaways, you can find them all in The Celebration Girl’s amazon store.

 

 

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