Happy Valentine’s

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Happy Valentine’s my loves! Today is the day we celebrate love: the day to celebrate our partners, our families, our friends and ourselves. Really, in my opinion, it’s about giving love to the ones we are closest to, the ones that mean just that much more to us – or, for some, it’s a day like any other. In reality of course it is, but why not use this perfect excuse to make it a little extra special – be it for yourself with a nice manicure, a spa day or a movie-night in.

I know this is only a super short post but I wanted to use this second in time to wish you all a lovely Sunday and Valentines! xo

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Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas loves! I hope that everyone had a lovely start into the holidays so far and is enjoying the time with loved ones, family and friends. This time of the year is one of my absolute favorites – it’s all about spending the time together with the family, spendng cozy nights in and having good food. Growing up in European countries, I am used to celebrating especially on Christmas Eve, the night of the 24th. It was all about enjoying the family yesterday for us, unpacking presents and filling out stomachs with lots of food.

It is first year that the family (mom, dad, sis and dog) are spending Christmas at my place in Zurich – and I love it. Seriously, we might need to repeat that next year. The years before were amazing too, of course – with lots of family around (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents). However, this year we decided to make it small and cuddly. It was amazing. For dinner I made potatoe-maroni puree, added beef filets on top (meat done by dad), topped with glazed apples, differently colored carots and lots of onions made in a red wine sauce. The dessert, hours later – cause we were all too full from the main dish – was berry crumble with vanilla ice cream for the rest. The recipe was amazing, so I shall surely make that again, photograph it and blog about it. Right now though, I cannot see any more food heavy food. Tonight will thankfully be more or less back normal with a lovely mushroom risotto my mom will be making. Tomorrow is Thai evening with chicken and yellow curry – one of my favorite dishes currently.

I will also show you some of the presents in the next few posts coming up. I love them all! What did you get – how did you spend your holiday? Wishing you all a continuing lovely holiday, lots of love, health and happiness! xo

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Gluten & Lactose free ‘Zimtsterne’

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It’s so late – and I only finished baking! I made two different cookie types, one of which are called ‘Zimtsterne’ in German. They are not only amazingly tasty (if I may say so), but also gluten and lactose free – which is one of the things I need to make sure since a couple of months. I always thought there are so many things I cannot eat anymore – that I won’t be able to bake anymore. I was wrong, and I am so happy about that haha!

The cookies are super easy to make and perfect as either a DIY little gift or just for eating-reasons. I made quite a few for the family to eat tomorrow and for my grandparents to take a bunch home – it’s one of their favourites.

Here is what you need:
– 500g finely ground almonds
– 300g powder sugar
– 1 pack vanilla sugar
– 2 teaspoons cinnamon
– 3 egg whites

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Start by mixing the ground almonds, together with the 200g of powdered sugar and the cinnamon in a large bowl. Once mixed well, whisk 2 egg whites in a separate bowl until fully stiff. Now mix the egg white with the powder mixture (in the other large bowl) until you have a nice dough – don’t worry, should it feel too sticky or take a little more time. Once you’ve gotten that sticky texture, wrap the dough in plastic foil and lay it in the fridge (at least 30 minutes). You’re already done with the the first part!

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After the dough has cooled and feels a little more stiff, you can start rolling it out. Make sure that it is evenly rolled out and around 1 cm thick. Instead of rolling the dough out on flour (in case you don’t have a non-sticky rolling matt), use a little powdered sugar. This will take away the stickiness, makes them a little sweeter and you can easily stamp out the star-cookies.

Once all cookies are laid out on baking parchment, you can start making the topping. Use 1 egg white and add 100g of powdered sugar to it. Mix it well, until you have a nail-polish like texture (if you know what I mean). Using either a basting brush or a small spoon, carefully cover the stars.

Heat the oven to 150°C (around 300 degrees fahrenheit) and place one baking tray after another into the fully heated oven. The cookies should be placed in the middle of the oven and will need to bake 12-14 minutes. The top will start becoming slightly yellow/brown, due to the sugar caramelising. The cookies however will stay slightly soft on the inside – absolutely perfect. Make sure to let them cool off properly, before putting them away. If you want to eat it right away – they are delicious when still warm!

Et voila, here you have your ‘Zimtsterne’! Enjoy xo

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DIY Gift-making for Christmas

Good morning everyone! I came back to Düsseldorf last night – Amsterdam was a fabulous trip! I still have quite a few events/sightseeing and café photos to show you, so I will be sharing those in the upcoming days when it’s not all about Christmas anymore. How exciting is this – it’s Christmas tomorrow! Our family tradition is to open the presents on Christmas eve the 24th of December. A few family members will be joining (other than my parents and sister, obviously): my aunt, her husband, her three children – ie. my cousins and my grandparents. I love having the whole family around! They will be coming in the late afternoon, for tea probably, and then we will slowly start the cooking for dinner. We will need to go out with the kids at some point, so that “Santa” can come in when they’re gone and place the presents under the Christmas tree.

Now I want to share a DIY present you can make. I actually made this for my mom – the end product picture is not at it’s best, but I will take another one once she unpacked it. She promised to not read my blog until after Christmas eve, so I can share it, in case some of you still need to get a present and feel like doing some hand-craftmanship. I made a candle in a cement bowl. The whole process, including the drying, takes 36 hours.

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So here is what you need:
– 2 bowls to make the cement-bowl (one larger, one smaller one)
– one bowl to mix the cement
– cement (and water)
– candle wax
– candlewick
– oil (I used plant cooking oil)

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Start spreading the oil inside of the large bowl and on the outside of the smaller bowl. I used a cooking brush, as it worked best.

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Once the bowls are ready (though you can choose what order you want to do it in), start mixing the cement. Depending on how large you want to make the cement, use more or less. I used about 3kg of dry cement and added the according amount of water to it. The cement packaging normally gives instructions on how to mix it properly. Be careful to actually use the right amounts, otherwise the chance of the bowl getting a crack is much higher. I actually made one previous to this one, and although the cement fully dried it got a little crack in the end because I obviously was too lazy to read the exact amount of water I would need.

Once the cement mixture is ready, start pouring it into the large bowl. You can place the smaller bowl on top and put pressure onto it, to see how much cement you actually need. Once you are happy with the size, place enough weights into the smaller bowl so that it stays down. I used a large glass marble I had found and filled it up with water, too.

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The cement should dry out completely – which takes round about 24 hours. Once the cement has fully dried, carefully take out the small bowl first. Don’t worry if you have a film/layer of oil sitting on top of the cement – it doesn’t influence the drying process. The oil will enable you to take out and take off the bowls, without either breaking the cement bowl or the plastic bowls.

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Voila, here you have your cement bowl. If you only want a cement bowl, i.e. no candle, then you are done already! I actually made two, as you can see. I used both for candles, however am thinking of making more, to use it as a bowl for fruit or just for interior decoration purposes.

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If you decide to make a candle out of the bowl, you can now start melting the wax. Place the wax pieces into a bowl to heat-up over hot water. I used around 1kg of wax per candle. Whilst the wax is melting (I chose white wax, which becomes see-through), you can start cutting the appropriate length of the candlewick.

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I used one of those long cooking-spears to place the candlewick in the centre. Taking a spoon full of melted wax, I fixed the candlewick to the bottom of the cement bowl.

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Once the wax is fully melted, you can start pouring it slowly into the cement bowl. Don’t do it too fast, as the cement bowl can easily crack if it gets too hot, too quickly. However, don’t wait until the wax has melted again.

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Now it’s time to wait until the wax is fully dried. Et voila, here you have you’re DIY candle in a cement bowl.

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I’ve seriously seen so many blogs, which have done DIY cement projects. I always loved the idea but it took me ages to actually get going and try it out myself. Now that I’ve done it – I absolutely love the idea of making more things out of cement. I am loving the idea of having cement letters – as a bookend or simply as a great idea for more home decorations. It’s the only real present I made myself – though I had planned on making more things. Let’s just hope my mom likes the present!

Now I have to get all pretty – we are going to a photoshoot today to make pictures of family-photos (parents, sister, dog and me). We barely have any photos, were everyone is not the picture and everyone is all prettied-up. So I am really looking forward to getting these photos done! It was actually one of my Christmas-wishes, so I guess you can call it early Christmas for me today!