December 13, 2015

  • December 13, 2015
Turning on the radio station today I caught some lovely Christmas songs that made me recall wonderful moments, scents and emotions from childhood, and got a special enhanced yet so delightful spirit of winter celebrations that induces a seductive magic with a warm touch in a cosy atmosphere... and made me think that would be a perfect day for Christmas shopping in Northampton.

Christmas St. Giles - Northampton, UK

Christmas gifts everyone will be pleased to find under the tree… a cuddly teddy bear, lots of coveted presents and toys, elegant and sensual perfumes with vanilla, honey, praline, caramel, musk, orange fragrances that make you eat them all, fine wine and effervescent champagne in stylish bottles, silky chocolate and delicious fruits, all creating the sparkling magic of winter season.
Baking the perfect turkey, rib of beef or easy-carve ham, cooking delicious homemade meals and appetizing crisp pastry or cream filled zesty cakes fully iced, searching frenzy for perfect gifts and wrapping them, creating the special look for nights out… sweet activities that create a unique festive feeling.

Christmas shopping in Northampton - Abington Street

Budget stores: Home Bargains, 99p Store, PoundLand
Caricatures: Adrian Teal
Cheeky items: Ann Summers
Chocolate and cakes: The Creative Cupcake Company, Thorntons
Decorations: Season Greetings,
Designer ideas: Aflora Luxegifts
Fashion: Berties, BHS, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Montague Jeffrey, Next, Primark, Swishing, Zara
Furniture: Bang & Olufsen, in-toto Kitchens, The Old Mill
Gifts and gadgets: Colemans, Singh and Smile
Jewelry: Bonds Jewellers, Michael Jones Jeweller, Warren James Princess Walk
Perfumes: Scents, Superdrug
Photography: Venture Photography
Second hand shops: Xchange for Cash
Shoes: Clarks, Shoe Zone
Wines: The Wine Connection Northampton

So, everything you may need for shopping this Christmas and New Year is right here, in Northampton town centre!

The Cordwainer - Northampton, UK

And once taking a break during shopping, you may indulge yourself with a large hot cappuccino at Costa Coffee or a shimmering shot at The Cordwainer.

Costa Coffee - Northampton, UK

Whether you celebrate the day or not, it’s funny how this time of year highlights a reflection, gratitude and goodwill feeling or state of mind.
In that spirit, here are a few quotes and thoughts to ponder on this special period of the year:
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” - Calvin Coolidge
“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” - Norman Vincent Peale
“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” - Bob Hope
“Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.” - Mary Ellen Chase
“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. 
It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” - Thomas S. Monson

All Saints Church - Northampton

Now, dim the light, bring the glitz and glamour of winter celebration, fire up all the festive tastes, textures and flavors, get the presents and let’s celebrate Christmas in Northampton!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
Own photos - Northampton, UK

November 07, 2015

  • November 07, 2015

Northampton Shoe Museum and Art Gallery
Sometimes we are sooo busy and focused on our day-to-day activities that we skip to take a short break, breathe and enjoy very simple moments in life.

Northampton Shoe Museum and Art Gallery

A couple of days ago, in a perfect autumn day, sunny, warm, with sun rays playing joyful amongst colorful leaves, and people in rush to buy gifts for Halloween, it happened to pass again in front of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and realized that it’s on my regular way to town center and never have the time to go inside, visit it, relax a bit and let myself delighted with bits of information from local culture, history and take the opportunity to learn new things about the place that somehow adopted me for a while.

Museum and Art Gallery Northampton

Have no idea how many Northamptonians or tourists have been to this museum – not quite the one worth to travel across the world to visit it – but is a new feature that shows thru objects, sound and film Northampton's (industrial) history from the Stone Age, Roman times, the civil war to the 20th century, is hosting an impressive shoe collection (12,000 footwear from ancient Egyptian times through to the present) – on ground floor, remarkable pieces of fine and decorative art (including Oriental ceramics, 15th to 18th century Italian paintings and showing modern contemporary art objects) and local heritage – on the upper floors.

Northampton Shoe Museum and Art Gallery

Northampton (located in East Midlands) was the manufacturing capital of England when it came to making shoes – and the Museum and Art Gallery is dedicated to shoes and boots from different time periods and of machinery for the making of them – including the “Life & Sole” and “Followers of Fashion” galleries, holds a unique collection of shoes, from David Beckham's football boots to shoes dating back to 1000BC.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery

Moreover, The Museum and Art Gallery, opposite the Derngate Theatre, is spread over 3 floors and it’s a free museum – with very friendly and knowledgeable staff – that provides a relaxing cozy space to drink coffee and, also, is accommodating regular events including temporary exhibitions, interesting activities for children from time to time (insects exhibits, Teddy Bear show, etc), lunchtime talks, mornings for the over 60's, sessions for toddlers in term time and school holiday workshops, and a small yet elegant souvenirs shop.

Northampton Museum

For shoes lovers, no matter if pouring outside, a chilly and foggy day, a rainy afternoon or a perfect bright summer day, the shoe museum – the main attraction in Northampton – could be a trip to heaven where, definitely, one can learn about the history of shoe-making and footwear fashions.

Northampton Shoe Museum and Art Gallery

A real mixture of various delights on offer! You will not regret visiting this modern charming venue well set up. There is much to interest, educate and intrigue young and old here.

Northampton Shoe Museum and Art Gallery

It was a brilliant day out, thoroughly enjoyed the museum and had a large smile seeing the old shoes, the children playing grounds – so tempting, and the Carlsberg' wagon and beverages collection toward the exit, and I'm content I've now taken the time out to visit the town museum for few hours.

Northampton Shoe Museum and Art Gallery

Thank you to all the people who came up with the idea, put together the shoe museum and are maintaining it also hosting various attractive events for all ages and interests!
Own photos

March 28, 2015

  • March 28, 2015
When in giref (Photo by John Kelly/ Thinkstock)
Sometimes words may say nothing...
When in grief, losing a very dear person, words may say nothing...
This lens is more than a sympathy note, it is a poem dedicated to all the people that we are down at one moment in life while being in grief for the ones that we loved so much, were very important to us, but passed the way too soon...

Sometimes words are not enough to comfort our grieving adults soul when we have to face, handle and adjust to an irreversible loss...

Sometimes words may say nothing, sometimes friendship cannot help as much as it's supposed to do or we are willing for,

Sometimes our thoughts may reach in a delicate moment, sometimes we hope that they may count...

As simple humans... we may not function or feel by the book, so, are moments in life when...
We are up or we are down,
We need help or we are brave,
We are strong or we are weak,
We don't care or we get involved,
We treasure or we blame,
We vanish or we cherish...

Sometimes we feel that we do belong to this strange world and we're accepted, sometimes we cannot find our peace or place within the self,

Sometimes we live at fullest, hope and dream, sometimes we're hurt and hit the bottom,

Sometimes we desperately need to share and love, sometimes we cannot bear ourselves,

Sometimes we get frustrated and confused with each new element encountered, sometimes we learn to be happy with every single thing around,

Sometimes we think that we've experienced so many things already and we would be able to handle anything, while sometimes we cannot see the light and get the drive for one more single step ahead...

But always, always, when we take few moments to look deep inside our soul, listen to our heart, trust our inner self and strength, our mind we'll find a way to help us made it to the surface!

7 quotes about grief:
1. "Sorrow makes us all children again - destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. "The pain passes, but the beauty remains." - Pierre Auguste Renoir
3. "Excess of grief for the dead is madness; for it is an injury to the living, and the dead know it not." - Xenophon
4. "You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present." - Jan Glidewell
5. "We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey." - Kenji Miyazawa
6. "Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind." - Marcel Proust
7. "Don't be ashamed to weep; it's right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us." - Brian Jacques, Taggerung

7 stages of grief - Read about the seven stages of grief (shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, hope) and learn to cope with the death of a loved one dealing with the grieving process.

Words can deeply touch and penetrate the deepest part of our hearts and souls, when spoken with honesty and passion directly from the heart.

When words are used to comfort someone who's grieving, it helps them feel that they are not alone, are loved and have a shoulder to comfort on, so, words can bring a drop of tranquility, hope and enlightenment.

But sometimes, words, may not be enough to help empower the mind of a grieving person, and I deem that for a grieving person to heal and recover, she/ he or she needs a lot of of space and healing time alone in order to be able to fully accept the loss and go through the whole process of healing and recovery, to be able to pray and meditate, to think and reflect on life as a whole will definitely help.

March 27, 2015

  • March 27, 2015
Peperonata Italian recipe (Photo source: Lazioland)
At my second trip to Italy, happened to reach Bergamo, took a pleasant walk around the old paved paths of the picturesque city, full of colorful blossom flowers and green trees, and after a couple of hours got a bit hungry, and wanted to forget for a while about the famous appetizing Italian pizza and pasta, and give a try with something new yet different...
Was desperately craving for a simple, quick and easy vegetarian recipe, savory and delicious... and discovered this simple, quick and easy recipe for peperonata Italian vegetarian recipe that I'd like to share it with you, too, to feel the suave flavor of fresh veggies.

So, if you feel also in a mood to try a quick delicious Mediterranean recipe, then peperonata (or peperonatta), the Italian vegetarian recipe is the best choice, flavored, tasty and mouth-watering, just perfect for a 15 minutes dinner recipe!
And peperonata's main ingredient - as it's name says itself - is the colorful juicy fresh bell pepper - red, yellow, green pepper color!

Peperonatta recipe is so versatile - bell peppers can be cooked in many ways - fried in basic way with garlic and onions; or adding more ingredients, according to taste (potatoes, tomatoes, etc), then served as it is, on a lightly grilled slice of bread or as side dish pork, beef, chicken or fish.

Also, peperonatta can be prepared frying the ingredients for a long time or a short time till it gets like a stew or just a little time, enough to keep vegetables crunchy and tasty.
With this delicacy on the table your meal gets taste, color and savory, and you'll find yourself asking for more and more peperonatta!

Simple, quick and easy recipe for peperonatta Italian vegetarian recipe – one of the most delicious bell pepper food recipe for vegetarians – if served as it is; and for non-vegetarians 

– if served as side dish along with pork, beef, chicken or fish, fried or boiled potatoes, olives, topped with mozzarella.

Peperonata is an appetizing Italian food made from fresh bell peppers served mostly in summer, but also perfect to be prepared in any other moment of the year.
This simple, quick and easy Italian vegetarian recipe is healthy, savory and with a pleasant colorful aspect.

Peperonata can be cooked using a single color bell peppers, if you prefer, but for a more colorful and appetizing effect I rather put all 3 colors – red, yellow and green bell peppers – found on the market.
• Serves: 4
• Preparation time: 10 min.
• Total time: 45 min.

- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 2 green bell peppers
- 2 large onions cut Juliene
- 5 garlic cloves cut in thin pieces
- 200 g tomatoes or 150 ml tomatoes juice
- 5 - 6 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- oregano basil and parsley - if desired

Peperonata is a traditional Italian recipe and one of the most easiest recipes to make, it requires just few steps, and in a blink of the eye it's ready to serve!

- Wash the bell peppers, cut them in 2 parts on the length taking out their seeds. Then cut each half pepper in long slices, at about 1 cm width
- Clean and cut the onion and garlic
- Put the olive oil into a frypan, ad the onions and garlic, stir and fry them for 3-5 minutes then ad the bell peppers
- Put the cover/ lid over the frying pan and cook the bell peppers on slow fire/ low temperature for 10 minutes - if you want to obtain a crunchy taste and a 15 minutes dinner, or let them for about 30 minutes - if you wish to get a stew
- Do not pour water - bell peppers are juicy enough - just be careful to stir frequently till they get soft and tender.
- Once the bell peppers got soft, add the tomatoes (without skin and cut in small pieces) or the tomatoes juice and stir for 1-2 minutes
- Right before it's ready, ad salt and pepper to taste, and cover it with the lid. Let it for 5 more minutes then turn off the fire and put it aside the oven adding 2-3 garlic cloves keep for the end, add oregano, basil and/ or parsley - as you like

Depending on my culinary taste for the day, I like to serve peperonata as it is and with fresh corn polenta, toasted polenta or fresh crispy slices of bread.

- some like peperonatta served with lemon juice or vinegar, and olives,
- and non-vegetarians are serving it with potatoes aside, bacon slices and mozzarella on top
- use colorful, delicious and healthy bell peppers
- always use fresh ingredients and healthy bell peppers, tomatoes and onions - sweet and ripe - to get a savory food. And preferably not canned ones!
Enjoy this Mediterranean recipe, a traditional Italian peperonata!
Good appetite!

Few personal notes for cooking the best Italian peperonata
- If you're cooking peperonata in springtime, it will be even more delicious to add few green onions - the food will get a more colorful aspect and a rich flavored taste.
- If you're adding a drop of chilli pepper, the food will get a bit spicy and taste even better.
- I also like it with a very fine pinch of cinnamon pour at the end - hmmm, this gives such an amazing flavor!

Bell peppers (Photo source: Howtosaythis)
Bell peppers (peperoni):
This wonderful veggie comes in a wide range of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, and even purple, brown or black.
They are crunchy, juicy, beautiful and flavored, but not hot.
We can find bell peppers on the market all year round, but their season is in summer and beginning of autumn.
Bell peppers is beneficial for our health cause they contain: vitamin A, B2, B3, B6, C, E and K, folate, magnesium and phosphorus, potassium, and it is said that they prevent arthritis and asthma as well as gastric, esophageal and prostate cancer.
They are favored in diets as they are rich in vitamins but very low in calories (20 calories/ 3.5 ounces bell pepper).

March 26, 2015

  • March 26, 2015
Rambling on Greek paths, I simply fall in love with spanakotiropita, the traditional Greek pie recipe with spinach and feta cheese!
Have you tried this easy and absolutely delicious fie before?

Spanakotiropita (known also as Spanakopita) is an authentic Greek pie, very rich, stuffed with spinach, onions, cheeses (usually feta cheese) and herbs that are all enfolded by crispy, flaky phyllo dough.

This easy to make Greek spanakopita, made following my Greek pie recipe, is a perfect snack for breakfast as well as any time during the day, for take away or serve it on a plate - is just great as it is or served as aperitif, topped with yogurt, and along with salad, grilled meat or other delicious food.

Spanakopita can be served all year round - at Christmas, Thanksgiving Day, Easter, special events, celebrations, parties or any other time you feel like for an appetizing slice of pie.
And for all pastry lovers, spanakotiropita - the greenish pie, goes perfectly for any occasion and even at St. Patrick's Day! :)

Give a try with this perfect recipe for a delicious traditional Greek spinach and feta cheese pie and... you may become addicted to it and many other yummy international cooking recipes from Mediterranean cuisine!

Or if you are a spinach and Middle Eastern cuisine lover, as well, then definitely you'll enjoy my other recipe - Best chickpeas crepe recipe - with spinach!

Hmm, when it comes to gastronomy... I just can't wait to get a bite from one of myfavorite things to eat ! : )

Few tips about spanakopita's ingredients - Greek pie recipe
Ingredients are the key for making this traditional Greek spinach and feta pie recipe sooo delicious.

You need to use fresh phyllo and do not let it dry out. If you stick to those two "rules", you should have no problem at all.

You may use frozen spinach (which could make some purists cringe), and always use the best feta cheese, very good olive oil and freshest herbs.

Spanakotiropita is an authentic and very rich Greek pie, stuffed with spinach, onions, cheeses and herbs that are all enfolded by crispy, flaky phyllo dough.
Flaky phyllo sheets are layered with a savory spinach and feta cheese filling.
Spanakopita can be made as a "pie", pita or individual phyllo triangles.
Spanakotiropita makes a fabulous weekend meal served as aperitif or main course.
You can serve it as it is or with yogurt aside and more herbs as you like.
Preparation time: 30 min.
Total time: 1 h 30 min.
Serves: 15 - 20

- 1 lb. phyllo pastry sheets/ 8 sheets phyllo dough
- 2 pounds spinach - rinsed and chopped
- 2 large onions - chopped
- 1 bunch green onions - chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 4 eggs - lightly beaten
- 1/2 lb. ricotta or cottage cheese
- 1 lb. crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper

spanakopita greek spinach feta pie
1. Prepare the Pie/ Pita
2. Wash and drain the chopped spinach very well. If using frozen spinach, thaw completely and squeeze out excess water. Spinach should be dry.
3. Squeeze handfuls of spinach until all water is removed and put spinach in a mixing bowl. Add crumbled feta cheese. In a small pan, melt butter. Chop green onions and add to the butter, cooking a few minutes until fragrant. Add butter, onions, fresh dill and parsley, and salt and pepper to the bowl. Stir together 
everything with a fork. Add lightly beaten eggs and combine into mixture.

4. Brush a 9 x 13 pan with olive oil. Lay down a full sheet of phyllo. The edges should come up and over the sides. Brush with olive oil. Lay down another entire sheet and brush with olive oil. Now cut the sheets in half with kitchen sheers so they fit just the bottom of the pan. Continue to layer sheets of phyllo brushed with olive oil until you have 6 sheets.

5. Put spinach and cheese mixture in the pan and spread evenly. Layer with 4 more half sheets that completely cover the spinach. Brush each layer with olive oil. Use full sheets again for the top 2 layers and allow the edges to come up over the top of the pan. Carefully roll the edges that overlap the pan inwards to create a rolled edge of phyllo around the perimeter of the pie. Brush entire top and edges with olive oil. With a sharp knife, make slits in the top of the pie to avoid bubbles when cooking.

6. Preheat oven to 350'F/ 175'C. Lightly oil a 9x13 inch square baking pan.

7. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until phyllo pastry is golden brown. Remove and cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Cut into squares and serve while hot.

You can serve it as it is or with yogurt aside and more herbs as you like.

Enjoy! Kali oreksi!

The health benefits of eating spinach
The vibrant greenish spinach is one of the most beneficial edible plants for our consumption.

Spinach leaves and the whole plant - either eaten fresh or cooked (steamed, boiled, fried, either as garnish or main meal) - have a high nutritional value and is very rich in:

- vitamins (A, beta-carotene, B2, B6, C, E, K), calcium, copper, folic acid, potassium - all with great result in case of high blood pressure, osteoporosis and atherosclerosis,
- antioxidants - lutein and zeaxanthin - which are protecting the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts,
- flavonoids - with anti-cancer properties (especially recommended in case of prostate),
- protein and omega-3 fatty acids,
- iron, magnesium and manganese, niacin, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
All in all, eating spinach our entire system will benefit and our general heath will be improved - spinach heaving important effects for our skin, calcification and bones, immunity, brain and nervous function and... is perfect for diet!

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