Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Roundup: Farewell, January!

One down, eleven to go!
 I'm talking about months... and maybe pounds I want to lose, too. But mostly months.

So, for this edition of Friday round-up, here is what I've been loving this month so far:

1. Going to the Hard Rock Hotel in Panama for one night:


























2. Receiving my wedding photos (and looking at them over and over and over again!):


























3. This ridiculously good "dessert cocktail":


























4. Too beautiful to be real! 16 Surreal Landscapes Found On Earth  (mnn.com)


5. These 10 Ways To Become Better At Your Job Today  (Forbes.com)


6. These amazing Winter photos (Bubby And Bean)


7.  Top 25 Delicious Breakfast Hacks  (Hack The Food)  I can't believe I only just found this... to think the time I would have saved!


8. This recipe for Homemade English Muffins (A Beautiful Mess)


9. This sweet story made me laugh so hard! What Starts With F And Ends With K


10. Love how cool this video is: 100 Years Of Fashion In 100 Seconds


Here's to an awesome February!!... (I for one, like it much better than January, when I get the Christmas blues and feel guilty for overeating all of December!).



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Thursday, January 30, 2014

How To Implement Feng Shui At Work + Great Decor Tips

Feng Shui is a Chinese approach to harmonizing our life with our environment and surroundings. It basically states that the colors, position and other aspects of a particular area have an effect on the energy of said area. What this means is that the way you arrange your stuff at work and the colors you have there can impact on the positive or negative energy of your office. Feng Shui also states that the condition of your environment mirrors your life.

It  certainly won't prevent those stressful situations that life inevitably throws upon us from happening, but it will make your environment (in this case the office, where we tend to spend the majority of our time) more balanced (therefore making it a much better place to be at!).
I have compiled here some tips, all incredibly easy to implement, and some of then even work for home too!

For The Office In General
- Get plants. Plants absorb negative energy and counteract the effect of electronics (which tend to absorb the positive one).
- Always leave the toilet lid down.
- If your workplace has a metal safe, it should be placed to the West or Northwest.
- Mirrors are not advisable if you have clients constantly coming into your office, as their negative energy can be reflected into the room.
- A small water fountain, aquarium, or any other symbol of water are said to generate wealth. Even an image of water as your screensaver will work.
Source

For Your Desk:
- First and foremost, eliminate clutter.
- If you have flowers, face them East.
- Your lamp should face South.
- Face your computer West.
- The best location for your desk is with your back to the wall.
- Also, don't work with your back to the door.
- Have something red to look at at all times (a notebook, a stapler, something in your line of sight).
- Try to avoid facing stairs, hallways and bathrooms.
- Try to keep all cords hidden. One option is to drill a little hole in your desk, and mount a power-surge protector on the underside.
- Don't place scissors and other sharp objects on your desk. Always keep them in a drawer.

No Clutter; A red flag to stare at; Big plants; Hidden Cords.
Source






For Your Outfit
- Wearing green is said to increase your confidence.
- Red, orange and yellow attract positive energy (yang). This is even more encouraged for the winter months, when the yang is weaker.
- Wearing white is associated with authority.
Gorgeous and Feng-Shui-friendly outfit: win-win!
Source



While some of these tips might seem silly, they aren't all that difficult, so why not try them out?
Don't expect huge changes, though. You won't be super wealthy overnight. But your positive energy might start increasing, and one day you may notice that you are not easily frustrated anymore, and that for me is a humongous change in and of itself!

As for decor, check out these links below with great tips from professional decorators:
6 Tips For A Chic And Tidy Desk at LaurenConrad.com
Desk Organizing Ideas by Martha Stewart
8 Ways To Reorganize And Refresh Your Home Office by Pottery Barn
Get Inspired By This Chic Home Office by Pottery Barn
How To Organize Your Desk Like Carolina Herrera by Elle Decor
Office Inspiration Photo Gallery by Houzz




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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sean's Wednesdays v.3: Caesar Salad With A Twist

Welcome guys to another rendition of Sean's Wednesdays. Today I'm making a super easy but very delicious salad. It literally is extremely simple to put together AND will provide your five-a-day! Perfect for a quick, healthy, yet yummy lunch when you are on the go!

For two people you will need:
- Baby lettuce leaves
- 1 Tomato
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Cup of Corn
- 1 Cup of Mushrooms
- 2 Eggs
- The dressing of your choice (we used regular vinaigrette, but any dressing will work!)
- 2 Slices of Ham (optional)
- 2 Sausages (optional)
- 200 grs. of chicken
- Cream cheese (optional)
- Mozzarella cheese. (If you have Edam, that works too!).

NOTE: The best thing about this salad is that it is very versatile! To make it much healthier, just skip the ham, sausage and cream cheese and substitute the Mozzarella for feta cheese.

The first step is to prepare all your vegetables: wash, chop, dice and slice them. Once they are ready, toss in your serving bowl and add the Mozzarella.



















































Get two frying pans a pot full of water burning on the stove. Have the pot full of water on high and the pans on low. When your water comes to a boil, poach your eggs in it turning the temperature down to medium. While your eggs are poaching, fry your chicken in one pan and the ham and sausage together in the other with just a dash of olive oil. At this point, dress your salad with your chosen dressing.
Once you make sure your meats are cooked thoroughly, spoon the chicken onto the center of the salad, sprinkling the ham and sausage around the chicken.

























Once your egg is cooked, put a teaspoon of cream cheese in the salad and place your egg on top. Season with a bit of salt and voila!



I hope you guys enjoy it, and I look forward to hearing what you guys want to see for the next Sean's Wednesdays.
See you next week!
Sean


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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5 Tips For Learning A New Language

Yesterday, I posted about moving to another country. However, it all becomes much more difficult if you don't speak their language! You don't necessarily have to be moving abroad, though, to want to learn another language:  Maybe you are traveling somewhere and would like to make yourself understood? Or perhaps you have an important meeting with some clients from another country. Or maybe you just want to increase your C.V. appeal!

"I better learn how to say 'I need to go potty' in French before this plane lands.
Scratch that. 'I want candy' is more important. Priorities!"

























Aside from the obvious (lessons and a dictionary!) here are five extra tips if you want to become more proficient in any language:

1. Don't be self-conscious. 
If you are always afraid of making a mistake or sounding silly, you will take much longer to learn any language. Face it: you will probably make more than a few mistakes at the beginning, but getting out of your language comfort zone is the most efficient way to learn. People know you are not a native, so they don't expect you to speak like one.

2. Become best friends with a native.
This is a very important one: hanging out on a regular basis with someone who speaks the language will significantly improve your skills. Communication is a major part of any relationship, so without even realizing it you will be making an effort to speak better. Not to mention that you would be having fun in the process, too!

3. Buy a magazine. Then buy a book.
A magazine in another language is great, not only because it will increase your vocabulary, but also because you will become familiar with the more common and widely used lingo. When you feel ready, buy a book. You will likely need to go to a dictionary every fifty seconds, but in the end it will be greatly reflected in your skills, and you will be immensely proud of yourself. Other activities that really help are writing a letter, watching a movie, and going to restaurants where you'll have to read the menus and order food.

4. Post-its.
Post-its everywhere! Write important words on post-its and then put them where they belong i.e. write the word for "door" and then paste it on the door so you see it everyday. Eventually they become habit and you will learn the words by heart. Silly as it may seem, it is an awesome vocabulary booster!

5. Make a phone call.
Once you have a basic level of skill, speaking on the phone will push you to the next level. Not only is the sound less clear over the phone, but you also won't be seeing the other person's body language and expressions to help you decipher their context. This is by far the hardest thing to do when learning another language, but if you keep practicing it, it is also the fastest way to reach your desired level of skill.

Yesterday's and today's post came to me because my little (or not so little, he's 21!) brother is going on exchange to China next month. I have been on exchange twice and thought I would share some of my tips and experiences with him (not that I think I'm an expert or anything, but it is always useful to hear someone else's perspective). And then it occurred to me that you guys might find it useful too, so I hope you did!


P.s. If you enjoyed them, you can subscribe here, and follow me on Facebook here! :)



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Monday, January 27, 2014

10 Tips For Moving Overseas





In my 25 years, I have had my fair share of big overseas moves, two of them with a toddler. The first one was when I was 17 and moved to Germany on an exchange. Then in 2009, at age 21, I moved to New Zealand, again on exchange. I came back to Colombia with my partner one year later. Then in 2012 we moved back to New Zealand, now with a 2 year old toddler. 2013 saw us move back to Colombia temporarily, and now this year we are planning on moving back to New Zealand (again!).

In all of these adventures I have picked up a few tips to make the transition as smooth as possible. And believe me, you will want to make it as smooth as possible, specially if you are traveling with children.


1. The very first thing I like to do when moving overseas is to make two lists: a "before leaving" to-do list and an "upon arrival" one. Some of the most important items on my "before" list (aside from the obvious packing and goodbyes) include:
 -  Go for an overall health check.
 -  Let my bank know that I'm moving overseas.
 -  Have several copies of important documents (passports, tickets, cards, etc) and pack them in different places.
 -  Stock up on over-the-counter standard medicines: paracetamol, allergy medications, band-aids, ibuprofen, etc. This can really get you out of trouble until you become familiar with the different names of the medicines available overseas.

Upon arrival:
 - Get a SIM card for my phone.
 - Open a checking account in a reliable bank.
 - Exchange money at the airport: nothing worse than leaving the airport and not being able to buy a single lolly until you find an ATM or a money exchange.


2. Do as much research as possible: not only about the country and the city (that's a given!), but also about financial institutions, public transport system, average cost for rent and utilities, tax system, and requirements to be able to drive.


3. Trying to keep the weight of your luggage within the airline limits is one of the biggest headaches when packing to move. To give yourself more room for your stuff, make sure you have really light suitcases, as some can be very heavy and take up a good 10-12 lb. of the 50 you are usually allowed per bag. Look for materials like nylon and polyester, which are lighter. Polycarbonate is a harder, more resistant material, and therefore heavier, so spare it for fragile stuff. This (1 lb!) and this (8.5 lbs) are good, light luggage options.


4.  Start packing at least a week in advance. Not only will it be a lot less stressful, but it will greatly reduce the risk of leaving something important behind. (This is specially crucial for people who tend to forget stuff  *eagerly raises hand*)
Extra tip: if you pack smaller stuff on the bottom, (such as socks and rolled shirts) you can create a more uniform bed for the larger stuff to go on top. I always started with the larger stuff first, but doing it the other way really makes a huge difference in terms of optimizing space.


5. Buy combination padlocks or ones that come with more than one key for your luggage. Trust me: after a long trip, the last thing you'll want to do is fluff around trying to get your bag open (and ruining it in the process!) because you've lost your key.


6. Always carry a notebook with you. You never know when you will need to take notes or write something down. Moreover, it will be useful for keeping your most important information handy.


























7. Ideally, you will have around two or three months of savings. Settling in your new home, starting from scratch and exploring your new city are all tough on your bank account. Not to mention you probably won't be too familiar with the best places to shop.


8. If traveling with kids, make triple sure to pack:
 - Wipes. Lots and lots of them!
 - Lollies that they can suck: these are great for when the plane is about to land, as it can often hurt their ears, but a sucking motion will help.
 - Their "security blanket". (this is an obvious one! but just ask how many parents have forgotten it and paid for hours for that little mistake!)
 - Lots of coloring options.
 - Lots of books to read. If you have an iPad or another tablet that's great to keep them entertained too!
 - Toys that are small enough to fit in the carry on, but not too small that they can easily get lost if dropped.
 - Talk to your doctor about a natural remedy to give your kid in case they start getting really worked up (or if you are in desperate need of a rest). Make sure to try it before leaving, too, as not all kids react the same. We give Tommy fennel, for example, and it sure helps. Keep in mind that it would be all natural, so don't be afraid to use it.


9. If you won't have a secure job when you arrive, don't wait until you are there to start looking for one. Contact employment agencies and websites, and research as much as possible about companies in your industry so you can start contacting them ahead of time and tasting the "job market waters".


10. And perhaps most importantly, be flexible! If you have very high expectations of your new place, you have a higher likelihood of being disappointed. The same goes if you go there expecting it to be just like home. Embrace the new, exciting things your new city offers. Go out for walks; visit the cafés, restaurants and markets; and start getting acquainted with the environment and energy of the place. Otherwise, it will be much harder to adjust.


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Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Roundup: Mind-Blowing Art

Another week, another Friday roundup. If you don't know what that is, three Fridays ago I started a series where at the end of each week I will pick a theme and then post a selection of Internet finds related to that theme. Pat yourself on the back for making it through the whole week, relax and enjoy this week's roundup.

Today's theme is mind-blowing art. The level of creativity and skill of some artists is oftentimes nothing short of astounding. I don't even consider myself an art-lover, but this is something else. See what I'm talking about:

1. This super inspirational artist from New Orleans creates art just by using one piece of charcoal and gliding and stretching her body on a huge canvas. You can see the whole story here.



























2. Daniel Dancer creates large scale art on the ground, to be seen from the sky. He created an exhibition called "Art Of The Sky", where he displays incredible pieces that are many yards long, but look incredibly natural seen from above, such as these two:

























3. Using the body as a canvas is nothing new. However, Chadwick Gray and Laura Spector have completely taken it to the next level: they recreate famous paintings on Chadwick's body. Jaw-dropping is an understatement in this case:



























4. This next artist creates skylines out of wood. Don't let that fool you though, they are not nearly as simple as they sound:


























5. Ron Mueck creates these gigantic human sculptures. The realism is totally mind-blowing (aaaand that's why this features on this round-up. Bet you wouldn't have figured that one out!)



No, this is NOT my grandpa...






















































I hope you enjoyed this week's roundup. This is enough proof that there are really no limits to what the human race can do. Why not make an effort today to let go of some of the limits and barriers we create upon ourselves? Discover your potential and use it to create your own version of mind-blowing!



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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thoughts On Fear




If 2013 was a challenging year in terms of learning experiences and deep self-awareness, 2014 is a challenging year in terms of putting it all into practice. It is always really scary for me to come out of my comfort zone, and it is a big source of anxiety, but I gotta do it.

I know fear is unhealthy. I know fear is what stops us from developing our full potential and actually discover what we are really capable of. I think fear is a great obstacle for learning, as mistakes are the experiences that teach you the most. That is the rational part of my brain talking.

Then there's the part of my brain that is just a jerk. It fills me with insecurities. Over the years, it has told me that I am not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough and not capable enough. Sometimes I have listened to it. Other times I have stepped up and given it the finger.

Thanks to overcoming my fears, I have lost a lot. I have lost money, like the time we moved away thinking it was best when it really wasn't. But most importantly, I have lost many barriers that would have stopped me from accomplishing what I have so far. And thanks to overcoming my fears, I have gained confidence, new skills, perspective and pride in myself. Oh and if it wasn't enough, thanks to the time I overcame fear and moved to a country far, far away where I didn't know a single soul, I gained my now husband and a gorgeous toddler.

Don't get me wrong: I feel afraid. Pretty often, actually. I wonder if I am making the right choices in life. I second-guess my parenting all the time. I am afraid of making a big decision and then regretting it a second later. For example, last year I was freaking out on my first day at my job, because my mom is actually my boss and I was terrified of doing a crappy job and letting her down. Life is scary. So many things can happen that can turn it upside down.

But I keep taking risks regardless, and telling the jerk in my brain to STFU. It makes life more interesting, and I'd much rather live an interesting life than a safe one. It is brave to do something risky. It is brave to stand up after falling and say "I will try again tomorrow". That's where the greatest things in life happen. Life has big and little mistakes. It has ups and downs. We just better make sure not to miss the "ups" by wallowing in the "downs".

I remember in 2005 I was the valedictorian for my High School graduation. I read my speech and finished with a quote by Robert Frost that has stuck with me ever since, and it is one that I keep going back to when times are hard: "In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on." So much wisdom in those three little words! No matter how badly you screw up, life will go on. Tomorrow will come. Let it find you ready to take on the world, to take a new risk, to start what you have always wanted to do (perhaps apply for a new job? ask for a promotion? book that holiday? ditch that toxic friend?).

Your 90 year old self will thank you for it.




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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sean's Wednesdays v.2: Bacon & Egg Breakfast Pies

Hello, everyone!

Sean here, with another treat for your pallets!

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Muffins

If you prefer to make your own dough, or don't have a store-bought dough available, here is a recipe for you:

Ingredients:
- 300 gr flour
- 130 gr butter
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt

Mix the ingredients into a ball, and set in a fridge for 15 minutes. I prefer to pinch some sugar into the mix too but each to their own.

Once the dough is made, you will need to make the filling and prepare the pies, for which you will need:

For each pie:
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 mushrooms
- 150 gr bacon (or substitute for spinach, for a vegetarian option!)

Step 1: On a chopping board, prepare your bacon and mushrooms and have your dough on standby.


























Step 2: Take some of the dough and roll it out on the surface. Evenly use a rolling pin to stretch the dough out into thin circles of 15cm (6 in). Press the dough into the mould carefully and try not to rip the dough as you get it into the corners. Get your eggs and break them in together with 2 tablespoons of milk and stir.


























 Step 3: Light up a stove and fry your bacon and mushrooms in a pan with a dash of olive oil and sea salt. Fry off for no more than 3min and remove from the pan directly into your egg mix in the pastry mould.


























Step 4: Roll out a separate piece of the dough as a lid, make sure its flat and thin.


























Step 5: Firmly place the top on and pinch the sides before putting the pies in the oven.






Step 6: Once in the oven, baked for 15 to 20 minutes. Take them out and let them cool.


























Final Step: Please make sure they are cooled before you take them from the mould. Oh, and lift the lid to peek at the egg to make sure its cooked.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and remember that there will be something delicious coming your way every Wednesday, so stay tuned!



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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Friday At Home (Or New Parent) Playlist

Source



When you become a parent, Friday nights are pretty much confined to the house. You can't just go out and party every week, and on the odd day that you have someone to look after your kid, the thought of having to wake up with him at 6:00 am, with the worst hangover, is enough to stop you in your tracks. Since stay-at-home Friday nights become the norm, you are going to want to vary it every once in a while, and that's how you end up with two kinds of Fridays: the ones where you just want to chill out, open a bottle (or two) of Rosé and have a nice meal before watching a movie with your partner. And then you have the ones when you really feel like going out but can't, so you invite some friends over, and get in "faux-party" mode.

That is what prompted me to develop two separate playlists: one for the relaxing mode and the other for partying mode, to really help set the mood and make us feel a little better that our Fridays have pretty much been spent within four walls for the last three years. So this is what we have been listening too lately, depending on what kind of Friday it is:


CHILL-OUT-FRIDAY PLAYLIST:

  • It's time (Imagine Dragons)
  • Royals (Lorde)
  • Fast Car (Tracy Chapman)
  • The City (The 1975)
  • How Long Will I Love You (Ellie Goulding)
  • Can't Remember To Forget You (Shakira feat. Rihanna)
  • The Man (Aloe Blacc)
  • Not Giving In (Rudimental)
  • Ready For Anything (Landon Austin)
  • Make It To Me (Sam Smith)
  • Little Talks (Of Monsters And Men)
  • Give Me Love (Uncle Jed)
  • This Year (Meghan Tonjes)
  • Please Don't Say You Love Me (Gabrielle Aplin)
  • Just Give Me A Reason (Pink)
  • No Ordinary Thing (Op Shop)
  • Cool Me Down (The Black Seeds)
  • Viva La Vida (Coldplay)
  • Somebody Loves You (Betty Who)


PARTY-FRIDAY PLAYLIST:

  • DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love (Usher feat. Pitbull)
  • Timber (Pitbull feat. Ke$ha)
  • Wake Me Up (Avicii)
  • Don't You Worry Child (Swedish House Of Mafia)
  • Red Lights (Tiësto)
  • Hey Porsche (Nelly)
  • Feel This Moment (Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera)
  • Under Control (Calvin Harris)
  • Take Me Home (Cash Cash feat. Bebe Rexha)
  • Thank You (MKTO)
  • Without You (David Guetta feat. Usher)
  • Wild Ones (Flo Rida feat. Sia)
  • I Love It (Icona Pop)
  • Good Time (Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen)
  • I Could Be The One (Nicky Romero & Avicii)
  • Just One Last Time (David Guetta)
  • Dance Again (Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull)
  • Titanium (David Guetta feat. Sia)


What do you like to listen to on those Fridays when you find yourself at home?



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Monday, January 20, 2014

OOTD: Chilly Evenings

When the weather starts getting chilly, I have a sort of "uniform" I love to wear: a girly dress, basic tights and boots. It is very simple, yet you look tidy and put together without too much effort, while being warm enough to be outside. It isn't exactly chilly here, but I was very much in the mood to wear this (albeit for only 5 minutes), since I haven't been able to wear my boots for many, many months.



I like keeping accessories simple and feminine with this look: a little chain and matching earrings from Forever 21, and a stone bracelet I bought last month on our trip to Mexico. 
I have a big obsession at the moment with all things coral, and I like the pop of color this dress brings to the entire look. Keeping everything else in neutral colors ensures that the focus stays on the dress. I also love how the color of the dress complements the sunset and the green lot we were visiting. 




After a while, Tommy wanted to be featured too. He enjoyed being the centre of attention when I did his photo shoot last week and didn't want to be left out this time around:



Another great thing about this look is that when the weather starts warming up, it can be turned into a summer outfit in three easy steps (which I did a minute after the photos): pull your hair up in a bun, take off the leggings, switch the boots for some comfy flats, and done!



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