Saturday, 31 August 2013

expat issues: skin savour

Honestly, I thought I was a bit more of a pro when it came to summer in Cyprus. 

It is my third summer here as an expat and I came many times before on holiday, so I thought I knew how to handle a day at the beach. Turns out the Cyprus sun can still get the better of me sometimes. Especially at the beach, it is so easy to forget how intense the sun is. And when your in and out of the water and that little cool breeze drifts along the coast and hits your sun lounger you could be fooled for thinking that sunburn is not a possibility. 

You would be wrong. This is exactly what happened today and now I am sitting here tapping away with a burnt nose and a nice bikini line around my neck. Silly, silly me! 

After testing a variety of products, I found the most effective item to battle the sunburn with is actually Vaseline Intensive Rescue Moisture Locking body lotion.  It says:

"Vaseline Moisture Locking Body Lotion accelerates dry skins ability to repair itself by instantly increasing skins moisture reserves and locking in that moisture all day." 



And sunburnt skin needs a lot of moisture to get it back to its former glory, or at least encourage a golden glow to come out of the redness. Every time I put this stuff on it feels like my skin has a fresh layer; it's lack of fragrance means it will not irritate skin and it really brings relief for the tightness that comes along with sunburn. 

I always pop mine in the fridge before a sun session, so it not only moisturises but cools skin as you apply. Plus it's your standard moisturiser so it's not expensive. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

H is for Humidity (and High Maintenance)

The end of August is turning out to be pretty humid. 

It wasn't that hot and then suddenly the humidity came along and the air was damp and my hair was frizzy. Humidity is a funny old thing; I constantly feel sweaty and slow. And my four-legged friend is also suffering. Well she does have a fur coat to contend with. 



I never really noticed how much the climate affects your functions before. I think living in London for 22 years of my life almost desensitized me to the impact of anything but rain. Yeh the cold in London can get a bit much when your waiting for a bus and your knees are knocking together. But I got used to it. 

I wonder how many expat years it will take before my body cruises through the humidity phase of summer? 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

midweek mix 28/08/2013

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language and a lazy expat!

I have been an expat for nearly 3 years (oh-my-god-how-time-flies). And I have been one lazy expat when it comes to learning the language. But last night, I surprised myself by reading this little beauty sitting on my doorstep, without having to call the boyfriends dad to translate. 



I have never done official Greek lessons - unless you count asking the girls in the office what everything means as official - mainly because it turns out that I am quite lazy when it comes to learning languages. I do not have one of those brains that soaks up a language and instantly becomes fluent. At school we learnt French and German and I remember having to try really, really hard just to get my head around the basics. 

My other excuse for not learning is this; I work with international clients, none of whom speak Greek. I work on a small team where everyone speaks English. You go to the supermarket and try and ask for cheese at the deli counter and they spot the English girl a mile away and talk to you in English. 

As such my motivation for learning is near non-existent. 

Yes it would have been nice to be reading Greek 1 year ago. And yes it would be nice to communicate with the boyfriends granny without using international hand gestures. 

But this is still a proud moment; I taught myself to read Greek. I think I deserve a little high-5. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

easy mexican chicken in a bowl

I discovered recently that I really need easy cooking; after work, dog walking and blogging, cooking has taken a bit of a backseat. I find myself search pinterest with the terms "easy recipe" and "quick dinner" a lot. Seriously what did we do before pinterest?

One recipe that popped up on one of my said search adventures, was this easy mexican chicken and rice bowl. It combines everything I want from a good meal; rice, yummy flavour-packed chicken, sweetcorn and avocado. In a bowl. You don't even nee a knife (which equals less washing up afterwards). 



Obviously I adjusted the recipe slightly to suit my taste and the contents of my kitchen - but follow Myra's recipe if you need a bit more structure in the kitchen; I noticed I am bit reckless with recipes recently!

1. I had already roasted chicken the day before and had leftovers, so I threw some chopped peppers into a frying pan with olive oil, salt and garlic for around 10 minutes and then threw in the chicken. 

2. Next I added pre-bought taco seasoning and about a cup of water and let it simmer away. 

3. While this was all going on I had some rice cooking away.

4. I let the chicken simmer for maybe 20 minutes. 

And voila; pop some rice in a bowl, add the chicken and peppers, throw on some sweetcorn (mine was out of a can I'm afraid) and chopped some avocado. I didn't have sour cream but Greek yoghurt works just as well. 

And dinner was done. Oh and in the 20 minutes that the chicken was simmering, I hopped in the shower; I am a sucker for leave-to-cook dishes that mean I can go do something else and get all the after work duties out the way so I can r-e-l-a-x. 

Bon Apetit. 


falling back in love with twitter



Twitter is always the first social media format to fall off my radar when I get a bit lazy.
Why is that?
Honestly I don't know. The dog's expression kind of explains it all. 
Whenever I come back to it I remember why I loved it in the first place. 
Sometimes keeping up with what's going on in my feed is a bit of a challenge. 
And I could spend hours scrolling and scrolling. 
Maybe the addictive quality is what scares me. 
Sometimes you have to break free from social media..............
.....................and then come running back. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

food: aubergine

I have a little obsession with aubergines at the moment and I have no idea why. But they are super cheap at the moment so my fridge is positively bursting with them. Aside from grilling them I was a little clueless about the possibilities of an aubergine so obviously I headed to pinterest for inspiration. 

Et Voila. Oven baked, breadcrumb and parmesan aubergines. 



A great veggie main dish or perfect on the side with salad and some grilled chicken ( I tried both options and was equally happy), obviously I had to play with the recipe a little to make it more suitable for the contents of my kitchen, so instead of Parmesan I used Halloumi; well you have a to give a little nod to your climate when your an expat right. 



The whole process is super easy. And fresh from the oven, it's a wonder they even made it to my plate. I have to say, the leftovers the next day were not as yummy; aubergines seem to go a bit soggy overnight so these are definitely best eaten asap. 

If you looking for recipe ideas, Reeni has some great ideas on her blog.  And if anyone has other ideas for aubergines, please dont be shy; I have a fridge of them in need of some inspiration. 


Saturday, 24 August 2013

easy as A - B - C


*not to be confused with my long drawn out A - B - C series.*

Have you noticed that Thursday and Friday seem to be my blog weekend days? 

Saturday I come back to life and Sunday there is always a lot of activity here and on facebook etc. Maybe it has something to do with the culmination of a week of work and my brain just can't handle tap tap tapping away anymore. 

Which makes me realise that blogging, especially if it's your 2nd job/part-time interest alongside a full time job, can be a little challenging.

Recently I had a few great ladies contact me with different questions about blogging. I am going to be honest; I have been blogging for a while but have a relatively small (but loyal) readership and I generally write what I like so I feel in no way qualified to give blog advice. 

So I went in search of some tips and tricks of the trade (basically browsing all my favourite blogs for help with the whole blogging thing). 

My first stop was Jenni at Story of my Life; I love the way she blogs and her style because it's almost like your sitting at her kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a cookie, everytime you read her posts. And she has been blogging for a while and has a strong readership so know's what she is talking about. She has shared her wisdom here.

And then there is one of my all time favourite blogs, A Beautiful Mess. This is fantastic reading and the co-authors, Elsie and Emma always have great content. They regularly share their wisdom with the readers. My favourites are here, here and here.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Souvlaki Bar - Themistokli Dervi Ave, Nicosia

Souvlaki Bar in Nicosia is one of my favourite places to eat.

The food is great, portions are generous and the prices are pocket friendly; a big sticking point now that Cyprus is feeling the squeeze.


Now for all you people that are thinking what is s-o-u-v-l-a-k-i lets have a little lesson in Greek food.

Souvlaki (or Souvlakia) is a Cypriot kebab. Usually it's cubes of pork, or sometimes chicken, cooked on charcoals on a rotating barbeque. The meat is served in a large pitta with a salad that most commonly includes cabbage, tomato, cucumber and onion. A traditional Cypriot kebab also comes as a "mix" which includes souvlaki and sheftalia (a Cypriot sausage/meatball type thing).

And then there is gyros; a more fatty, moist kebab, with pork or chicken cooked on a vertical spit.
Oh the possibilities are endless. 

So back to Souvlaki Bar - this place offers a modern take on the whole kebab experience. It has a great outside area, does the whole industrial/rustic furnishing thing and serves up everything in great style; check out the chips served in a big silver scooper. 



And of course I can recommend some of the bits and pieces they have on their generous menu; the chips with feta and oregano are seriously yummy, the chicken without the bone has great flavour and is super moist and the Souvlaki Bar special salad (pictured above) is gyros, with lettuce, cucumber and tomato and a great creamy zesty dressing that I could eat with a spoon. So simple but oh so yummy!

If your in Nicosia and want a traditional kebab experience, in a modern environment, without the scary local old men shouting Greek at each other across white plastic tables (people in, expats or visitors to Cyprus will know exactly what I mean) .....go to Souvlaki Bar. 






Motivation!

Rush hour, in Nicosia, in August. The only photograph I could use to demonstrate my point.


I am pretty organised. 
I make lists. 
I make more lists. 
I have see through plastic envelopes for documents; house and bills, health and personal.
I am generally a proactive person.
I am motivated. 

I am still finding out about the challenges of living alone, and mostly they are involving that last one...motivation. When your alone, there is no one there to kick you out of bed to make the coffee, or bounce ideas off of for the blog. The motivation to even put washing on all but flies out the window some days because it's just me and why bother. I can wear something else and it can wait. 

I have never had this feeling before. And it's a little unsettling because it is so not in my character to be like this. I would never spend all morning in bed and now I spend the best part of the day (although I also blame the August heat for that one - I want air con and nothing but air con). 

It is strange for me that I am still finding out things about my personality; I have always been so independent but I am slowly realising that independence thrives on relationships. Having strong relationships makes me feel a little more secure in myself and more secure in my situation. The support of these relationships makes me realise, that I can live on my own, in a different country and despite some shaky days, survive. 


Monday, 19 August 2013

breakfast is more than cereal

Sometimes I am bored with breakfast. 

I know admission of the century right!?! I love eating, yes. But food so early in the morning can get to be a bit of a tedious must-do not a want-to. And I think it's because my breakfast routine has always been somewhat dull. First it was toast and peanut butter until I realised that bread brings out the inevitable bloat in me. Next it was Ryvitas with Philadelphia but there are only so many days in a row that you can get enthused about a piece of brown cracker-bread and some cream cheese. Then it was cereal. 

I think the problem is I get bored of these options. So in an effort to mix things I up I channeled inspiration from two places; a bar and a friend. 


These super yummy and nutritious egg muffins are great for breakfast. I love eggs in general - my favourite breakfast is scrambled eggs on toast with grilled tomatoes, but oh so impractical for work. So these are perfect. A friend made them first as a picnic item but they work great for the mornings also. I added courgette, red pepper and bacon to mine, as well as a little  cheddar cheese. 



I followed this recipe because I'm not so confident in the kitchen when it comes to baking; a little guidance always goes a long way!

A slightly lighter breakfast option came about from a trip to this little bar; along with your cocktail they serve little plates of apple, dusted with cinnamon and smothered with honey and raisons. Seriously its like an apple pie without the pastry (undoubtedly the best bit but nevertheless a little heavy for the morning right?). 

But as a breakfast item I find it's great for those hot, sweaty August mornings here in Cyprus when all you want is a ice cold coffee. And it's super easy to prepare; chop apple as desired, sprinkle with cinnamon, throw over some raisons and add as little or as much as you want. Pick up fork and eat.
If you need more substance, throw in a couple of oat cookies on the side. In Cyprus we have some great options so im sure you can find some yummy oat cookies with berries or something to go perfectly on the side. 



Any ideas for other breakfast alternatives to mix it up a little bit? 

Friday, 16 August 2013

the black hole AKA. 15th August

Where have I been hiding for the past *nearly* two days?


Yep there I am.....!

The 15th August is a public holiday in Cyprus (for reasons I don't know) and today my office was shut also.  So I have been in the above location, pretty consistently since Wednesday evening. These two days off coincide with mood being particularly low and most of my friends leaving the city. 

All the above have given me the perfect excuse to be lazy in my bed, with the air con on, hibernating from the 40 degrees outside. This should have been the perfect blogging opportunity right? But you know when you get a bit miserable all you want to do is watch sex and the city and eat ice cream and not force you fingers to tap jolly sentences into blogger? Well that was me. 

Yep 40 degrees is great for a week at the beach. For a month in the city......try it and come back to me. 

We will be back on track from now on (I have food to talk about later). 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

the negatives of living on a Mediterranean island

It's not a holiday all the time (I promise).
After months of endless sunshine *I know...cry me a river right* you kinda want a different season.
My duvet is missing for 4 months of the year.
Air con breaks your bank balance.
The pressures of maintaing that beach body are all too real.
Everything shuts in August.
Public transport has a slowly slowly approach.
Bugs are oversized.
Small island syndrome is a reality.

I am in a particularly gloomy mood as I write this and any expat will know that this is the worst type of mood for an expat. Especially an expat who is feeling alone, is bored of the summer, wants her duvet back and a Sex and the City marathon with hot chocolate.

I am kind of hoping that by writing down the negatives whirling round in my head, I will free my brain from these thoughts. A sort of free-therapy-for-oneself-type-of-activity.

There are actually many great things about being an expat in Cyprus. Read my insiders top ten to expat life in Cyprus for some of the good bits!

Monday, 12 August 2013

G is for Gardens

I don't have a garden.
But I wish I had a garden.

I do have a pretty decent size balcony (which I don't make the most of by the way) but oh I wish I had a huge rolling landscaped garden with gorgeous trees and a beautiful decked/outside eating and lounging area. And of course a pool.

Ok so I am dreaming now. But this is my blog and i'll dream if I want to. 
So in an ideal world, my garden would look something like this....





all images via pinterest



Sunday, 11 August 2013

celebrate the little things

I'm not usually lost for words.
I like to talk.
I'mm quite loud also.
But today, all my words have gone out the window.

It is so easy in life to overlook the little things.
The everyday things that are always there. That all of us, without exception, whatever it may be, take for granted. And the sad part is that it takes a reality check to make you see a little bit clearer.

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sunday sound #29

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Club to Catwalk exhibition; London's V&A Museum

I am making it my mission to get back to London before February 2014, for the sole reason that there is a great fashion exhibition, just launched at the V&A in South Kensington. 

Just because I don't live there permanently doesn't mean I don't know what's going on! Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980's showcases the fashions of the time from designers including Betty Jackson, Katharine Hamnett and John Galliano. 

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The exhibition traces the emerging theatricality in British fashion as the capital’s vibrant and eclectic club scene influenced a new generation of designers. Also celebrating iconic styles such as New Romantic and High Camp, and featuring outfits worn by Adam Ant and Leigh Bowery, the exhibition explores how the creative relationship between catwalk and club wear helped reinvent fashion, as reflected in magazines such as i-D and Blitz and venues including Heaven and Taboo.

With more than 85 outfits on display it is a must see for anyone in London. 

And for those of you who havent been to the V&A, (check out pictures 3-5 in this post from my last London trip. Yep that is the V&A. Yep your in love already right!) it is so worth a visit. 

Firstly it is free. They have hundreds of exhibits to see, spread across a beautiful building and covering everything from fashion and photography, to painting, sculpture and jewelry. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

the villa of my dreams

Have you ever found a place that is so calming, so luxurious, so completely the opposite of your everyday life that you want to stay there for ever? (I am expecting some replies to this question to add to my list of places to travel).

Latchi is my version of that. A little fishing village, away from people, away from life and away from the sound of traffic in Nicosia! I have been every year since moving to Cyprus and always stay in the same hilltop villas. 

I always book through these guys because I know I can trust them. I can trust them so much that I booked a villa without seeing pictures. A villa, which last year, was abandoned, overgrown and the pool was definitely not fit for swimming. 

Oh what a difference a year makes. This place was pure luxury. The villa has been lovingly made over and the little touches like outdoor sofas, hammocks and bean bags on the roof terrace really made it feel special, not a sterile-out-of-the-mould holiday villa. 

This one felt like home. I wish!




















Anyone who really wants to get away from everything and relax, whether its a holiday across the water or a staycation for you expats already in Cyprus, I cannot recommend Latchi enough. Go!