I can’t even begin to explain how I feel today. If you could peek inside my heart, all you would see is sheer joy.
Today, Life is Messy Kitchen comes out into the World for all of you to see and enjoy. For all of you to cook with and play in the kitchen. Your kitchen: the real, beautifully messy place where you cook for your families. The place where you will make these recipes your own, cooking with your kids, your husband, your mum, your friends…your loved ones.
Life is Messy Kitchen is the first cookbook I photographed. The first job I had as a professional photographer. The first job in which I got to collaborate with an amazing team of professionals who put their heart and soul into bringing this book to life and making it not just a cookbook, but a work of art.
Life is Messy Kitchen is a work of love, and a tribute to messy lives, to things that don’t go according to plan, to tough moments and getting through to the other side. It’s a tribute to friendship and professionalism. A tribute to getting things done to the very best of our ability, no matter what. A tribute to getting back in our feet when life knocks us down, and a powerful statement about the huge power of dreams.
Life is Messy Kitchen is a work of art, because it has over 100 of Mayi Carles amazingly cute, melt-your-heart- funny illustrations, over 200 photographs taken by yours truly, and because it was designed and art directed by the sheer genius of Marbel Canseco who transformed it into a book you will most definitely want in your coffee table, into a book your kids will love, into a book that is bound to inspire you and that you will treasure for years to come.
This book is pure eye-candy and it makes my heart beat faster just knowing that I got to be a part of it.
And Life is Messy Kitchen is an amazing cookbook. I should know, because I made each and every one of the 115 recipes it contains-many of them several times. The recipes, my friends are nutritious, beautiful and, most of all,delicious. As in seriously delicious. And they work.
Because you know those books full of pretty photos but with recipes that are just impossible to make? The ones with cakes that flop, with cupcakes taste like cardboard and the ones where you can never get anything to look as in its pages? This is NOT one of those books.
Each of the Life is Messy Kitchen recipes was made in my family kitchen, styled in a way you may style them at home, without tricks that would make them pretty but inedible, and photographed exclusively with natural light.
What you see is what you get.
And what you get is wonderful. I promise.
The book comes in 3 versions :the digital pack, which includes the full pdf and an interactive guide, the print book (to be shipped in March), and the big bundle, which includes the digital pack, the print edition and an adorable coloring book that was Zoe’s delight when I was photographing it and even comes with bonus printable cards and gift tags.
2012 went by and made us stronger. And even though we were still very much in survival mode when 2013 arrived, I was ready to move forward from the pain and welcome a new stage in our lives. I was tired of feeling sad and, so, Forward was my word for last year, and forward I moved. Not because things were easier, but because when they were not, I was reminded by the mere whisper of my word that getting stuck in the bad was ultimately a choice: a choice I decided to reject. From old school, to new school, to homeschooling, from letting go of my old career to embracing a new one, from paralyzing fear to the courage to jump into the unknown with nothing but faith: every decision was marked by a deep desire to progress and let the past behind.
December came and I felt in me the need to release the old one, and chose another word. I knew I wanted to go one step further this time: I didn’t just want to move forward, I wanted the movement to be positive, I wanted to grow. This year, I wanted to go deeper, and put some thought into making my word a reality, and so I got Leonie Dawson’ s ” Create your Amazing Year” workbook and planner an, one cold day of January, I spent a morning at a cafe connecting to myself, dreaming and planning.
Dreaming…If you have been through a crisis of any kind you certainly know how difficult, almost impossible it seems to dream and how liberating it can be when we are finally able to do it again. When I sat down at that cafe earlier this year and started planning 2014 and dreams and hopes started coming out of me, I felt reborn.
And in that moment I knew what my word for this year had to be: Thrive
This year I want to wave a gracious goodbye to the past, without regrets or ill feelings of any kind. Forgiveness is, for that reason, a big part of my year.
This year I want to love deeply- and this includes learning to love myself, a task at which me and my inner self critic have always had a very hard time. For this reason, this year I am committing to self-care without shame or blame. I want kindness to be at the center of my relationship with me, for the first time in my life.
This year I want to prosper. For this reason, I am committed to working on my money blocks and on overcoming my scarcity mentality. I want to feel (not just know) the Universe as expansive and abundant.
This year I want to learn new things and to share what I learn.
This year, I want to flourish and help others do the same.
Why am I telling you this in May? Because I will turn 38 years old in 17 days. Because any day is a good day to start living with intention. Because it’s never too late to dream again.
What are YOUR dreams for 2014? What are you hoping to leave behind and what are you hoping to embrace in the next 7 months?
Tell me in the comments below and let’s find a way, together, to make those wishes come true!
You know, those days when you plan to do this one thing and be finished by 10 am and then life gets in the way and suddenly it’s 10 pm and the one little thing is still lingering in your to do list and you could almost swear that it’s giving you the look and saying ” Hey, weren’t you supposed to take care of me 12 hours ago?”
Today was one of those days and this blog post is that one little thing.
I had baked this banana bread early in the morning, and let it to cool down while I prepared my studio. I don’t know whether I had mentioned this before, but I have a mobile studio, that, due to lack of space, I set up here and there so it takes a while and a few trips back and forth to the kitchen until everything is quite like I like it. So today, I followed my routine and when I was just getting ready to start shooting, the phone started ringing, someone knocked at the door, the cat jumped on the table, the kids had a fight…and a 15 minutes photo shoot took 2 hours.
It’s life, it happens.
I took the pictures. I downloaded them to my computer.I edited them.
And then my website crashed.
I called the host, I tried to access it a million times, I wrote the post in word, I checked again and again and again and nothing. Until 9pm.
So, with a little bit of delay, and the patience to accept that which I cannot control, here’s the recipe!
Banana walnut bread
Ingredients:3 tablespoons ground flax seeds, 9 tablespoons of water, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup vegetable milk (soy, almond, rice, oat-whichever is your favorite), 1/2 cup barley flour (or other gluten free flour), 1 tablespoon baking powder, 3 ripe bananas, 3/4 cup walnuts (coarsely chopped).
1)Pre-heat the oven to 180C-375 F. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
2) Mix ground flaxseeds with water and set aside for a few minutes, to let them integrate
3) Mix seeds, oil and milk and whisk until smooth.
4) Sift flour and baking powder and add to the liquid ingredients.
5) Mash the bananas and add them to the rest of the preparation, together with the walnuts
6) Pour the dough into the loaf pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon, and place it in the oven for about 45 minutes (or until a stick comes out clean when inserted in the middle)
7) Remove the loaf from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes, then invert into a wire rack for it to cool down completely.
Have you had crazy days like this? Let me know in the comments below!
One more important thing before you go!
My friend Denise Duffield-Thomas of Lucky Bitch has just released a crazy mega bundle of her newest manifesting tools.
Denise is a money coach, and she is amazing. I bought her book, Get Rich Lucky Bitch last January and I had so many A-HA moments while reading it that I enrolled in her bootcamp too.
Her new bundle of products is absolutely great- and you know by now that I never recommend anything that I don’t absolutely love because I value your trust more than anything.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have a favorite cuisine? Let me know in the comments below!
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.
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.
3) Photographing Mayi Carles’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.
4) Photographing the coolest book about juicing, and some gorgeous products
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.
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