Saturday, June 8, 2013

Yoga Recipe to avoid excess

Eat a little, drink a little
Talk a little, sleep a little,
Do a little, move a little,
Serve a little, rest a little,
work a little, relax a little

I think that as simple as this yoga saying is, or actually as hard as it is, it could be a great natural,  simple and cheap remedy for many problems due to excesses. I know it sounds very general and obvious but sometimes it is all we need.
 I will try to put it in practice one day a month. A kind of cleansing day were all my habits, concerns, desires, problems and projects are put to sleep and will leave space for meditation and silence. But only a little! ;)

Natural and homemade Washer Machine Soap

Well... probably calling it a soap is too much. Really it is just a simple cocktail of ingredients that wash your clothes very well. A little bit of this and that well shaken in the washer machine and a great result. As always, it is natural simple and cheap!
In this case I did not dip into my past for this recipe, but rather from my desire to use detergents made from ingredients that I know. We all like our laundry coming out clean, soft, and good smelling; but what about also chemical-free?? Skin is the biggest organ of our body, and it is designed to absorb, transpire, and "open the doors" to everything that surrounds it.
If we soak it in an ocean of artificial substances, most of the time unnecessary and toxic, it will be the same as drinking them! If you want more information about regular detergents, ingredients, and effects go here

Here is my recipe, shake well and enjoy your cocktail!

IT ONLY TAKES 2 MINUTES!! I timed myself, so do not say modern women do not have time for this. ; )

For the Washer Machine "Soap" :
2 small sized white towels(or old towels cut in to napkin size pieces)
Baking Soda
Essential oil of Lavender or Tea Tree(The two best antiseptic oils) 
Soap bar (I use Marsiglia soap bars, but Dove, or Trader`s Joes natural soap bars or similar work too)  
White vinegar, or apple cider (do NOT use colored vinegar because it leaves spots in the fabric)
Every ingredient that I choose has a specific function. The first most important ingredient is WATER. Maybe we don`t think about it, but specifically hot water is the thing that does 80% of the cleaning. Therefore the machine already does most of the work! You just need to give it a boost! The soap bar, scrubbed in to the towels, will clean greasy parts of grease.
The baking soda, together with the lavender or the tea tree essential oils, make your clothes cleaner because they all have antiseptic properties. That means that by adding them you will eliminate germs and bacteria and the oils will also give a delicate profumino (good smell in Italian) to the clothes.  
Finally, if cannot resist adding a softener simply use white vinegar. I also use it as hair conditioner!! 

Do it with me step by step
For every load, in this order:
  • 2 tbs baking soda
  • 4 drops of lavender essential oil
  • Put the laundry into the washer machine
  • In a sink wet the towels and scrub the soap into them until you can tell they are well soaped.  
  • Insert them among the clothes (try not to put them in the same spot, as you want them to release the soap equally)
  • Add 1 or 2 spoons of white or apple cider vinegar in the appropriate area for softeners.
  • Press START ! 
 TIP: To clean stains or strong odors use an old style laundry brush. Soap abundantly the interested area and brush it energetically before adding it to the rest of the laundry  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Left Over Arugula Pesto

It does not matter how many recipe books you have piled on your kitchen shelf, or how many articles you have stolen from the doctors` waiting room magazines, sometimes we just do not want to cook, period. As developed human beings we sometimes deserve a rest from the culinary arts for a little more time with ourselves. Reading a book, chatting with a friend, or simply doing nothing allows us to restore energy, organize our ideas, and be more productive, as suggested by some studies (To know more read  here and here ). In other words, we need to transition from doing something that feeds our stomachs, to something else that feeds our brains. I think it is a good bargain!
Yet, it does not matter if we are single or not: dinner time will come. Some people have the luxury to crumble in the couch with a pack of chips on one hand and the remote in the other (probably not the best choice), but many do not. So what to do? Just open the fridge and see what is there? Yes, indeed!
Cooking is not only a question of ingredients, but a matter of combinations. It is basically like dressing up: open the wardrobe, pick two or three pieces and see how to match them in a suitable way. That is it!
In my childhood I saw my full time working mom fix up dinner for six people in literally 10 minutes, using exclusively fresh ingredients. So it is possible, and we do not need to be stay at home moms/dads to do so.
Additionally, it is good for your pocket. In an anti-waste era, it is clear that throwing out food is quite bad for your economy beside being very unethical.
I love to recycle left over vegetables as pasta sauce. Here is one of my favorite:

"Old" Left Over Arugula used for Pesto
 For 4

Average price: $1.50-$2.00

Arugula, 2 cups (When I write old I mean one week max! When it does not look too fresh to be used in a salad but too good to be wasted it is perfect. Do not use arugula with mold or if it looks too bad. You might want to use also parsley, sage, spinach or other green leaves instead of the arugula)
Pasta, 1 pack, penne (I wish I could use Barilla or De Cecco every day, but here in the US this pasta is too expensive. Considering that I basically need a truck a month, I buy regular pasta at Trader Joes and for regular uses I am fully satisfied. For this recipe rigatoni, penne, or other short types of pasta will work)
Cheese, 1/4 cup grated (The one that you have left over in your fridge is fine! Of course some Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano would be the best, but remember this is a non-pretentious meal. Emmental, Gouda, Cheddar, Goat, even Blue cheese. They all work.
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil, 1/4 cup (When it comes to olive oil I am always picky, but I do know that we are not all the same. I use personally imported Italian extra virgin olive oil that I brought from my last trip to Italy. It is called Angelicum Vallone and it is cold processed to best maintain its properties. However, natural olive oil will work too. Just keep in mind that the more natural it is (for example, cold processed and extra virgin) the more tasty and healthy it will be.
Garlic, 1 chive chopped. If you like you can also put two.
Food Processor

Do the pest with me
  1. Put the washed arugula in the food processor. make sure to eliminate the eventual dark parts
  2. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Keep in mind that the more salty the cheese, the less salt you need to add.
  3. Add the grated cheese.
  4. Add half of the olive oil.
  5. Mix all the ingredients with the mixer.
  6. Add the rest of olive oil
  7. Mix again
  8. If the consistency is too thick add one or two tablespoon olive oil and mix again (if you want to keep it low-cal then just add one tablespoon water) 

Do the pasta with  me
  1. Bring to boil a pot of water. (A regular size pot can be filled halfway with cold water. Then cover it, so it will boil faster) 
  2. When the water boils add salt. (Here we can start the discrepancies. I like it more bland, my husband more salty! I would say put two tablespoons of salt, and then see how it tastes for you. Salt is always a grey area in cooking!)
  3. Put in all the pasta at once, then stir every minute.
  4. Make sure to read the instructions for the cooking time. I often use this general rule: subtract one minute or 30 seconds from the suggested cooking time. It makes a huge difference if you like your pasta Al Dente! (the opposite of mushy)  
  5. Strain the pasta WITHOUT exposing it to cold water.
  6. Add the pesto and mix well
  7. Enjoy it! Buon Appetito!

P.S. Arugula does not only taste good, it is also great for you. It is reach of vitamin A,C,K minerals and anti oxidants!! To know more read here

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Green Clay to treat your skin

When May comes, I already feel the summer tickling my skin. As a happy child I often spent at least a month away from the city living in a caravan with my family on the Adriatic coast. No, I did not grow up in a hippy commune or something like that! At that time, in the eighties, camping was just a smart way for families to bring joy at a cheap price! Months of sand castles, sun and tons of friends. Could a child ask for more?! My middle sister and I would sleep on the twin bed and my parents on the "magic" reversible dinner table. The caravan, or "roulotte" as we called it, also had a little kitchenette where my mom created the most amazing meals. That`s why I think that to make good food you do not need a huge space!! Everything was very basic, and spartan and of course guess what, NO bathroom!

What I also remember with pleasure is not only the wild life, but the sense of community and friendship among people. Every Sunday morning adults would go to the fresh market to buy flapping fish from  fishermen of Rimini and then, almost like in a tribal rite women would season the fish, and men prepared the fire. At the end of the plush lunch, men on one side of the long, red checkered table would drink their "digestivo" and women laughing about the latest gossip would be on the other. Everything was simple and incredibly genuine.

Waking up with this sense of tickling skin I thought to treat it a little bit, and I found a great cleansing mask that purifies the skin just before sun starts to tan it.

Since there is a pose time for this recipe, I leave you with two classic Italian summer songs that will keep you in good company: Stessa Spiaggia Stesso Mare listen, Sapore di Sale sapore diMare listen

Green Clay as Facial Treatment (For impure skin)

Average Price: $2-$3
A teaspoon of honey
Two tablespoon of green ventilated clay
1/4 of a cup or less of lemon juice
How to do it:
  1. Mix the clay with the lemon juice. Pour the juice gently, until the clay gets the appearance of mud. It does not have to be too liquid nor to solid.
  2. Add honey and mix well again
  3. If the solutions appears too liquid add more clay, if it is too compact then add more lemon juice until it gets a consistency that is easy to spread
  4. With a spoon, or simply with your fingers, apply the product in your face, neck, and decolte. BE CAREFUL, DO NOT apply the cream close to or in your eyes!!
  5. Wait for about ten minutes or until the clay dries in your skin. (Do not plan to laugh!)
  6. If during the waiting time you are planning to go outside maybe you wanna let your neighbor know what is going on
  7. Remove the green stuff from your face, starting from the forehead, cheeks, chin, and neck.   
If you want to know more about the type of clays and why they are good for your skin you might want to read here.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Clay as Refrigerator Odor Neutralizer

Every culture has its own "wacky" aspects. Italians for instance are OBSESSED with personal and home cleanliness. Have you ever wondered why we always ask for a bidet??! Also do not be surprised if an Italian sneaks a glance to check the status of your floor, sink or toilet.  For us it is a question of civilization. Probably because we had to deal for centuries with the dirty laundry of the politicians; perhaps because we have to forget the garbage to which we have been exposed sometimes. It is a fact that we are one of the most (if not the most) clean populations out there! And so am I.
Living in a well developed country (USA), one of the things I noticed with the biggest surprise -and distaste- is that people forget to clean a very important thing in their house: The AIR! It`s such a simple gesture opening the window and letting a fresh breeze of new air reinvigorate the rooms in which we live and work. Air and sun kill germs in the room just like an hand sanitizer does in your hands. I do not understand why people do not get that! Plus, it`s FREE!!
Besides the air in the rooms, there is the refrigerator`s smell. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but most of the time there are simple solutions for it. I found this great and simple one. Let me know if it works!

Clay as a Refrigerator Odor Neutralizer

Project average price $1.5-$2


For the essence:
4 spoons or more of Green clay (Mine is from Italy, but I saw that Amazon sells it too. It is Argilla clay, the one used for facial mask too)
2 or 3 drops of essential oil (I used cypress, but also sage, mint, lemon or mandarin are fine)
For the container:
1 small/medium glass jar (I recycled a jam jar)
1 sterile pad or gauze (the one in your first aid kit is great)
1 ribbon (I used an undisclosed piece of fabric)
1 rubber band (just recycle one of the rubber bands usually used for food packaging)

  • Transfer the clay into the jar.
  • Then add the drops of your favorite essential oil (do not mix)
  • Cut about half, or less, of the pad depending on the size of your jar 
  • Fix it well at the top of the jar with the rubber band
  • Finally cover it with a ribbon
  • Place it in the fridge and add essential oil as needed
I  LOVE it!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yogurt Make Up Remover

 Simple does not mean boring! Especially during winter when your skin is pale and everything around us is so dreary I think a little make up is essential. It makes you feel prettier and more confident throughout the day. Something I do not like though is using the regular makeup removers before going to bed. To me they have a strong fake "good" odor that interferes with my sleep. I know, I am very sensitive. It must be my long Italian nose! But for every problem there is a solution. I found this great natural make up remover recipe that satisfies me 100%. 

Yogurt make up remover   

Average price: solution $0.20  vial $1

1 spoon yogurt (I use homemade yogurt)
1 teaspoon honey (I prefer it not pasteurized, just because then I can also eat it. However for this particular project you do not need a special quality)
1 teaspoon almond oil, or any other delicate oil. (Almond oil  is the best one because it almost has no smell, I will stay away in this case from olive oil for the opposite reason)
1/4 cup distilled water or chamomile. (But in an emergency regular water is fine too)
  • Combine all the ingredients in a little bowl
  • Mix them well
  • Transfer into a little bottle or vial
  • Use it whenever you need it
  • Keep refrigerated.  (It will last for about a week)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Moss as inspirational decor

Strangely enough one of the plants that has always fascinated me is moss. I admit it is not a beautiful plant! It does not have bright colors, nor a good smell. It does not have interesting shapes and it is everywhere. It`s basically something most people would like to get rid of!
Yet, its green shades are so intriguing. Verde, verdino, verdone, verdastro as I would call them in Italian. And its puffy texture is so funny!
During Christmas time I always collected it from my yard and used it as decor for the nativity. As a rebel teenager I wanted to use it as a piece of jewellery, maybe as a nice pendant or something like that. Unfortunately I never figured out how to apply this plant to make my own pieces. 
Last week I went to see an art exhibit and I learned that I am not the only fanatic of this underrated plant. The English painters known as Pre-Raphaelites LOVED it just like me! If  you take a look at any of their paintings set outdoors, you`ll find moss all over. Painted with such dedication that it is hard to believe it does not have a real purpose other than decorating the picture. I think it is there to evoke a cocoon-like atmosphere, a quiet place that smells like underbrush. A setting where the stories they tell take place.
Now in my adulthood, I finally figured out how to use moss. I decided that like the Pre-Raphaelites I want to capture all the quite atmosphere from it and bring it into my house.
Here is how I did it.

Moss as an inspirational decoration

Price range $ 0-.50

small flat pot (I used a small glass dish that I bought at a flee market for $.50)
  • Take from the ground the variety of moss that you like the most. You can easily find it at the bottom of a tree, in the woods, or other places in the shade.
  • Cover the bottom of the pot with a thin film of soil, possibly the same in which the plant was bedded.
  • Then put the moss on top
  • Place the pot anywhere where you can enjoy the view of it. 
Care directions
Moss is a little plant that needs a lot of shade and humidity, therefore it needs to be watered once or twice a day. Do not expose it directly to the flow of water, it is better to lay a wet napkin for several hours until it gets dry.