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Most of the foreign food on this blog involves recipes that are in fact, very simple and not time consuming. That is one of the reasons why I created this website, to show you, wherever you may be, that foreign food doesn’t have to be daunting to attempt in your own kitchen. Most are quick to whip up or require little effort, I’m looking at you Cherry Clafoutis and Pavlova in that category.

A few have been time consuming, but those finicky ones, where you need to have read the recipe three times to know exactly what you are doing are usually the ones where you sit back and go “wow, I made that!?”. Baklava is definitely like that. In fact, I could barely believe my eyes when peeking into the oven, just on turning the temperature down and seeing golden rectangles of baklava sitting in my own kitchen.

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This past weekend I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in eight-and-a-half years. Truly a lifetime ago. We barely spoke or emailed over these years, but did keep in touch as we could through social media. But there were definite nerves on my part as to whether we would have anything to speak about, maybe we would be too different after all this time.

Walking beside the Thames showing him the most important sights for his very short stay we spoke about things from long ago, pieces of our history I’d forgotten or he’d forgotten and we also filled in so many gaps that can’t be shared through a social media feed. It was as though no time had passed and there we were reunited thousands of miles from where we once met as the two individuals whose lives collided for a brief time.

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And in one blink it was gone. Well maybe not quite for me, but it did go faster than anticipated, in usual fashion might I add. February was a mixed bag of things and there was even one dumping of snow to last through a morning.

Seeing kids throw snowballs at their parents as they walked to school made that slippery white stuff seem magical, even in the city. Catching up with someone this past weekend who I hadn’t seen in almost a decade was the best feature of an otherwise uneventful month. It was nice to speak with someone who knows a piece of my past and talk about when those times.

Still reminiscing about the beauty of Istanbul, it was on my mind a lot this month with a few more photos shared on my Instagram. Otherwise, here is my month:

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There is a saying for people who move to London called the ‘Heathrow injection’, the reality of this saying is that on average someone puts on around 17 pounds within a year of arriving thanks to the amount of incredible food available all around us here. One of my roommates and I have really struggled with our own body image since arriving here almost two years ago and with the colder weather it feels like weight is just so much more comfortable multiplying.

Whilst we both put on the average weight after arrival, we have returned to our healthier ways and habits, but living here and not being as active as we were in our homeland means the body image can sometimes make everything feel worse. So tonight we are trying something new in the form of making raw bars and cauliflower crust pizza and eat without guilt.

There is an irony in what I’ve just been speaking about and today’s post, but hear me out. I was meant to post a salad recipe which is hidden in the shadows and instead when I awoke this morning it was Friday so obviously who cares about salad and let’s eat cookies. Plus these cookies by the ever talented Ashley were such an incredible hit that I was kinda sad I didn’t double the recipe and give away more. These are like the equivalent of cookie hotcakes, people will want more of these for sure.

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The howling icy wind got into my bones this weekend and that’s when it was all too much, somehow Winter, by far the worst season of all with a combined vote of thumbs down goes on for far far too long. We may not be in Boston, but argh to all the cold and layers and that icy wind that is the ultimate enemy.

Its right now that the ever continuing summer in my homeland where the grass has turned a slight shade of brown makes patience for less layers and more outdoor adventures more difficult. Let’s not get into the fact that this is my last official winter for a year-and-a-half, but it’s just the worst. And being just like my father the ability to deal with this season and all that comes with it just leads to more and more whining.

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It’s Friday! Can we start a slow clap to celebrate this as it’s felt like a long week and getting back into the exercise routine after my travel and laziness due to the blistering cold has made me rather sore. It’s hard work getting back into things and routine’s isn’t it?!

Trying to make times for things is always a concept as unusual as ‘where did that bunny come from in the hat?’ magic trick. Where can we just find more time to do everything we need to. My mind is constantly bombarded with ‘I have to do this’ thoughts and yet, people and things get in the time you may have wanted to achieve something.

Locking oneself away for a weekend is almost like a dream just to feel a little relieved, or at least that is what I’m considering doing just to get in touch with my writing side and actually finish this last edit of my book, yes, I’m still working on this book I completed some time ago. Writing a book or finishing a painting is never really a difficult thing, but those are the shove to one side type of tasks that get left to later. But how much later? one asks.

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“Once you visit Turkey, you can’t not go back.”

Those words were uttered to me and my mother as we awaited for a flight to depart to European shores many many years ago and those words always stuck, they lingered at the back of my mind with each new destination I set out on until finally I gave in and just went there to see for myself. These two women in retirement age, had a passion for Turkey that lured me there and will likely leave an indelible impression on you. Having finally visited, I’m not sure what exactly is so enthralling about this country or it’s largest city, but it will likely be on your mind long after you depart it’s shores.

Entering the arrivals area at Istanbul airport is to step into a chaotic scene where pieces of the Middle East are evident in the way people show full emotions, yelling, hugging, children full of noise and smiles evident wherever your eyes lay. Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul was officially adopted as the name in 1930, meaning ‘to the city’, and what a city it is!

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While watching Celeste and Jesse Forever the other day, I thought about the joy that comes from letting people into our life. Even if we feel as though we are failing in every avenue or being taught a lesson the hard way, a person may come along who may invigorate and help us through it in some way by just being a stranger to us and our history.

Celeste ended up at a salsa bar, surprised at this new person who she had been weary of and it was the kind of night she needed in dealing with a tough situation (sorry, this is not intended as a movie review), but what this reconfirmed is that when a stranger comes into our lives, it’s best not don’t hold everything back, but rather let them in a little, they may surprise us. Something I’ve had proven a number of times over the last few years. The best thing to do is enjoy the ride of where they may take you, you might have fun not worrying about making a good impression, but simply being who you are.

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Have you ever met someone and thought instantly ‘I need to get to know this person’? Maybe there is an instant connection that so rarely happens in life where your soul identifies with this stranger or maybe its because that person has left an impression in their seven seconds.

Its rare that this happens, in fact I can only recall twice that this feeling has come over me in the past decade, but both of those friendships forged are still there, despite the geographical distance. Similar souls don’t need to see each other all the time or even be up-to-date on every detail of life, but when they come together, that connection, that compatibility of two humans is as though no time has passed.

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  • February 10, 2015 - 18:00

    Deb ward - Just to say I’m really enjoying your blog! Inspired to try the recipes too.

    I realky know what you mean about the above too, in recent years it happened in Wahiki – will tell you when see you! Interested to hear your encounter too.

    DebsReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2015 - 06:23

      Sylvie - Debbie, I’d love to hear your story, its too rare a thing that happens isn’t it?! And so happy that I’m inspiring you, definitely let me know how it goes when you give a recipe a go. Kind regards, SylvieReplyCancel

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Everywhere I look in the blogosphere it seems people are settling down and having kids. Offline, it seems everyone is coupling up and there are fewer and fewer people who use the ‘I’ for individual instead of ‘we’ for couple. People are happy and growing up, striving for bigger and bolder moments and it’s beautiful to see.

Yet, it’s a little over a week away from another valentines and each has been spent since starting this blog alone, with no hint of there being a change anytime soon. While sitting over tea with the Nursad’s in the very Muslim country of Turkey, the father was very animatedly asking why I “was so happy for his daughter to be single, that soon she would be too old for children.” I replied that “it’s better to be happy.”

Let’s not get started when somehow my backward younger brother asks “when are you getting married and having kids?” My response is always “aren’t I a whole human on my own?” Yes, we may be in the 21st Century, but there are expectations still placed on women and I’m from a country where I am very free, a luxury so many people don’t have because of the gender they are born into. Somehow with that fateful February 14 date getting ever closer the only song in my head is Single Ladies, but lets not put a ring on it, just keep doing your thing, don’t give in to the pressure if you are very happy in your freedom.

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Riding the train into the landlocked Czech Republic in the darkness of night, there isn’t much to suggest of what you will see upon rolling into its largest and capital city, Prague, or better known as Praha to the locals. Expecting a winter wonderland, even on the coldest day during my visit there was no forecast of the white stuff in this city that is known for being great to visit during the dark season.

Within five minutes walk from the main train station, you find the streets busy with trams, people and street music reverberating through the air. Once day breaks there are countless segway tours to get on and the Charles bridge with it’s many many statues has an endless array of tourists that cross it to and from the castle that stands on the small hill overlooking this historic city.

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January has swept passed in a blur of adventures thanks to escaping London and seeing more of Europe and a piece of the tie between Europe and Asia in Turkey. Yes, January has been a grand, fast, swirling month of joy. If only I had more tickets to escape as there is nothing quite as bittersweet as returning to reality without more excitement and expectation for the future in your back pocket.

There was a lot of music in the streets, bubbles and so many smiles with strangers. There is something so magical about wandering the streets anonymously, no matter whether you live in a place or not. Seeing people explore and discover somewhere brings a great sense of wonder. I hope your January and new year has got off to a good start.

Here are but a few of the pictures from my January:

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Vienenburg woods, Germany/Bubbles and segways, Prague/Dancing in the streets, Prague

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While in Istanbul last week, I had the luck and opportunity to meet talented artist Elif Nursad, kind, humble and exceptionally talented along with the rest of her family, I left saying I would be back.

That evening in the anticipation of going to buy a small artwork for some friends the next day, I considered how on so many trips, it is not the men I meet that leave a lasting impact. Sure in some quiet moments I have truly wonderful moments with men and connections are made, but it’s the women who excite me in the relationships forged and knowledge that we are equals.

Often, and especially traveling as a single woman the attention from men is unwarranted and often unwanted as that is not my task. I’m not on a quest of eat, pray or love, and so often it’s these characters in other countries, living their lives who inspire and excite me.

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If you could give your twenty-year-old self advice for life what would it be? If you had ten seconds to convince your younger self of any pointers on life, what would you say? People tell you from as early as possible that life is short and in the same breath they usually call you a “baby” when you tell them you are still below thirty, yet there is so much to do with life that in youth it can all feel slightly overwhelming.

The world expects you to know it all, to have it figured out, when in fact probably half the staff at your job still don’t know what they want to do with their lives and some people never succeed at figuring it out. On my two recent trips I thought about where I was eight years ago, just having turned twenty and what I would have told my younger self.

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