Women’s Changing Roles in the Dating World: Part 2

Now on top of flirting, playing it cool and trying to feel empowered all at the same time there is a little media foreplay added to the mix.  Camera phones, Skype and Facebook.  Whatever did we do without all of these media mixes?  We can talk to guys on-line without even having to meet them.  We can flirt, chat and see each other without even having to go on a real date.

The dating world has changed as more and more media aids are being brought out.  The need for discretion is completely disregarded after a couple of wines at home messaging a man you met on-line.  Personally it is not something that I would become involved in, as I am older and wiser and understand that lurid pictures can and will eventually end up in the wrong hands or worse on tin-ter-net!

I think women who are little older will understand this and will be more cautious as to what pictures go into who’s hands.  However what if you are a younger woman just starting out in the dating world and this proves to be the norm.

The way in which teenagers are dating is much different say 10 years ago.  Girls as young as 12 and 13 are having full on sex.  As I am researching this I am shaking my head like a mother would at her daughters choice of Friday night attire!  Girls of 13 having sex tsk tsk!  But really it wasn’t like that when I was younger.  I knew some girls who were sexually active very young but it was with their boyfriend and that was it.  But even then at age 12 and 13 is was extremely shocking and were not considered to be very nice girls (ahem).

Sending naked pictures to people is something of the norm these days, especially for teenagers. It’s just all to easy to do, what with Bluetooth, Facebook, camera phones and Skype. It seems that before teenagers even go on dates with each other they want to see the ‘goods’ first. It’s like nothing is a mystery when it comes to dating and teenagers. Some young girls have boyfriends that they have just starting going out with and before they even gone out they are sending naked pictures to each other! I have a teenage brother who will regularly receive naked pictures from girls he is either dating or who he has not even met! He says its normal and its harmless and that no one is getting hurt.

I do believe that there is a pressure for both these boys and girls. I think there is a pressure on these boys from their peers to get girls to send them pictures. Also I think there is certainly a pressure from these girls to send pictures out to these boys. If at a younger age girls are being pressurised into sending explicit pictures to boys it maybe just another way that the dating world has evolved. I’m not saying that I agree with it and I certainly wouldn’t encourage my son or daughter to be a part of that. However with all this new technology it’s difficult for teenagers not to experiment with these things. I think it can lead to the wrong impression but these boys need to stop asking for naked pictures and these girls need to learn to say no to giving them if they don’t want them leaked into the internet. Please read more: https://topdatingreviews.net/review/victoriabrides/

 

Images reproduced from firsttoknow.com and west-info.eu

Dry Fruits Burfi

A perfect sweet recipe to make if you have not yet made any for this diwali or short of time to try out elaborate sweet dishes. The recipe does not call for addition of any sugar or jaggery! Just some dry fruits and nuts of your choice combined together till well mixed. This has got to be the simplest yet a royal sweet recipe I have ever come across!

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Mom makes this quite often, festivals or not. I enjoy having it even as a mid morning snack!

Diwali is just round the corner and so there isn`t much time for elaborate talk. And so today I move on straight to the recipe..

And while you are here, do not forget to check out some more recipes that can very well go as part of your diwali menu..

Some visuals of the process, mom is making them & I was just clicking!
DRY FRUITS BURFI
Recipe source – my amma
Ingredients
The following measurements are rough approximates. You can easily vary as per taste but let dates be of more quantity than the rest as it helps to bind the ingredients together easily.
Dry dates (khajur) – 500 gms
Almonds/ badam (whole) – 100 gms
Cashew/ kaju – 100 gms
Raisins/ draksh – 100 gms
Dry figs/ anjeer – 100 gms
Pistachio/ pista (plain) – 100 gms (optional)
Ghee – 2 to 3 tbsp or as needed
Method
Deseed dates and chop fine or pulse for 2-3 times in mixer to chop them up very coarsely. Do NOT make a paste. Chop badam, cashew, pista (if adding) coarsely with knife or pulse in mixer to chop very coarsely. Chop anjeer.
Grease a tray/ thali with ghee, set side.
In a wide and thick bottom pan/ kadai put in all the chopped dry fruits, nuts, raisins. Mix once.
Add a tablespoon or two ghee, keep the pan over heat and mix and heat, stirring constantly till all the ingredients bind and stick together, forms almost one mass. You can add 1-2 tbsp more ghee if needed for sheen.
Transfer to greased tray and pat/ flatten on top to smoothen. Let cool. Cut into squares and store in airtight container.
Notes
1. The measurements given are rough approximates. You can easily vary as per taste but let dates be of more quantity than the rest as it helps to bind the ingredients together easily.
2. You can skip anjeer too and make the same with dates and the remaining dry fruits/ nuts.

Malai Kofta Curry

Before I got interested in cooking, I used to order Malai Kofta Curry whenever we ate out as I used to think that this must be a very complicated dish to make. But believe me it’s not! Not only is it easy to make, it’s not too time consuming either. It’s a fantastic dish to make as it’s rich and spicy but also contains loads of vegetables.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

Time: 45 minutes to cook  (Suggest that you allow more time for the koftas to soak in the gravy before serving)

Ingredients for the koftas:

2 cups of any mixed vegetables – (I used frozen carrots, cauliflower, green beans and peas)
1 cup of diced potatoes (I used small new potatoes)
Small bunch of fenugreek or spinach (whatever is available)
1-2 cups of breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon blended green chilies
1 teaspoon blended garlic
1 teaspoon blended ginger
1 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 litre oil for frying (I used sunflower oil)

Ingredients for the gravy

2 cups of blended tomatoes (I used Passata as it helps to make a thick gravy)
2-3 small onions
2-3 spoons of melted butter
½ teaspoon of cumin seeds
2-3 cloves
1-2 small sticks of cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon blended green chilies
1 teaspoon blended garlic
1 teaspoon blended ginger
½ teaspoon of garam masala
½ teaspoon of mixture of ground cinnamon and cloves
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2-3 teaspoons of  brown sugar (or any sweetener)
1 cup of cream – (I used double cream)
½ cup of cashew nuts
2 teaspoons of cornflour (or you can also use chick pea flour)

Method: 

1. Mix the frozen vegetables, fenugreek and potatoes and cook them until soft.  I washed and drained the vegetables and microwaved them for 5 minutes and again 5 more minutes.  The time would depend on the size of your microwave.

2. When the vegetables have softened, blend them either by using a masher or a food processor.

3. Add the spices – salt, chilli powder, turmeric, blended green chillies, ginger, garlic, garam masala, lemon juice and mix.

4. Now add the breadcrumbs slowly until the mixture feels firm enough to make into small balls. You should get 15-16 kofta balls.

5. Deep fry the kofta balls.  To stop the kofta balls from being sticky -the best way to make them is to either coat your hands with some oil when forming the balls or you can dip your hands in some breadcrumbs. I tried both ways and it worked fine and the koftas fried well without breaking. In the picture below, the koftas on the left were coated with breadcrumbs and the ones on the right with oil. 

6. Now to make the gravy – Blend the tomatoes, onions and cashews in a blender.

7. Heat the butter and add in the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon.

8. When the cumin seeds get darker – add in the blended tomatoes.

9. Add the spices, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, blended green chillies, garlic and ginger, garam masala, ground cinnamon and cloves, lemon juice and the brown sugar or sweetener.

10. Add two cups of water to the gravy.

11. When this gravy starts to boil, lower the heat and add in the cornflour.

12. Allow the gravy to cook for 5-6 minutes and add in the double cream (saving a bit for the garnishing) and stir well.

13. Transfer the koftas to a serving dish and pour the gravy over the koftas.

14. Garnish the kofta curry with some cream and cashew nuts.

15. Allow the koftas to soak up all the gravy spices for half an hour and serve hot with rice. Be gentle when serving as you don’t want to break any of the koftas.

Spicy Parathas with Tomato, Onion, Garlic, Ginger & Coriander

My last three recipes have been on Indian sweets so this week, I thought I would share with you my recipe for parathas. Most Indian food is accompanied by rice or Indian breads like chappatis, puris, naan, parathas etc.  This version of fluffy and spicy parathas is perfect with lunch or dinner.

Ingredients for serving 4 people
Time 40-50 minutes

½ cup of passata or blended tomatoes
1 small piece of ginger
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1-2 green chillies (use less if you don’t want to make them too hot)
Small bunch of finely cut coriander
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons oil for the dough
3 cups of chappati flour to make the dough (Available in most supermarkets or Asian grocers – often called Atta)
½ cup flour for dusting the parathas when rolling them.
2 cups oil for frying (I use sunflower oil)

Method:

1. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and green chillies to the tomato mixture and grind it all in a blender.
2. Sieve the flour and add in the salt and turmeric and the coriander. I didn’t blend in the coriander with the passata as I wanted the porathas to have some green specks.

3. Add in the 2 tablespoons of oil and mix.

4. Using the tomato mixture, mix the dough. If you don’t have enough tomato mixture, you can use some warm water to finish making the dough . The dough should be nice and pliable. Keep this covered for 20 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 10 or 12 equal balls.

6. You can roll out this paratha as a round paratha and lightly fry it as per my instructions below or you could use this style to create a “wow factor”.

7.  Roll out the paratha and brush some oil on one side and dust it with some flour.

8.  Fold it in half.

9. Fold it again so it is now a quarter.

10. Dust it with some flour.

 

10. Now roll it so that it looks like a triangle paratha

11.  Now transfer it to cook on a a frying pan (or tava if you have one).

12. Allow it to cook slightly and turn it. Once the paratha is par cooked, lightly brush it with oil and cook it until it rises.

13. Your parathas are now ready to eat on their own or with any curries or raita.

Images courtesy of Mina Joshi

Chicken with Peppers and Olives

chicken peppers olives

When I’m in the UK I am careful to try and not buy too much food out of season and nearly always look to find out how far away it’s comes from. I like to try and keep my food miles down, but in Dubai you don’t have that much choice. Although I try and use local produce, like Lebanon cucumbers, which are a smaller than European ones. I do like a variety of ingredients and some foods have travelled from miles away. Apples for example nearly always comes from the USA or Australia and I’ve yet to see any more mainland Europe, must I’m sure there must be, but even Europe is over 5 hours away.

As the vegetables have travelled they do not last very long. I bought the peppers, for this recipe, two days ago and they are starting to turn and so had to use quickly. In the UK these would have lasted at least a week before they started to turn for the worse. I wonder if that is because they have travelled or for other reasons, like added chemicals, but I wont look into it in case I don’t like the answer.

I am a big fan of peppers as they are incredibly versatile, you can cook them quickly or a long time and they have a different texture. They work wonderfully in a salad, either raw of cooked and are very tasty when stuffed, roasted, as the main ingredient or as a complimentary ingredient in another recipe. When I was a vegetarian they became a stable in my diet and even now that I’m a meat eater I still use them a lot.

This is a very simple recipe that you can cook either quickly, if you want crunchy peppers or longer if you like them softer and sweeter. It’s also very low in fat and a healthy meal and if you don’t want to use chicken it makes a lovely light vegetarian meal.

  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • 4 peppers of each colour, red, yellow, green and orange, sliced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbls tomato purée
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 400g chicken thighs, skinned, boned and diced
  • 100g black olive, stoned and sliced
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 4)

Put the oil into a pan and turn on the heat. Add the onions, garlic and chilli (if using) and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft, but do not allow to brown.

Add the sliced peppers and mix into the onion mixture and gently fry for 4-5 minutes.

Throw in the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, mixed herbs and bay leaves and mix together and  bring to the boil

Add the chicken, olives and salt and pepper to season. Cook for a minimum of 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked or like me for over an hour as I like soft peppers

Serve with any kind of pasta or long grain rice.

Goodbye Honeymoon… Hello Relationship

The honeymoon period in most relationships is usually crammed with the culmination of endearing gestures, poignant revelations and spontaneous acts. From being contentedly overwhelmed by the late night phone calls and flirty text messages, to the impulsive date nights and that feeling of being totally besotted with each other; it is easy to conclude that the dating process with the right person can be extremely pleasurable! However, similar to the purchase of a new car, or the acquisition of a new property, it is only human nature for the initial exhilaration and novelty to wear off and become part of the norm. So what do you do when you have cleared the initial hurdles only to be confronted by another relationship stumbling block, where communication diminishes, spontaneous gestures stop and he outwardly expresses a preference to spend an evening out with the boys?

General Paranoia Vs Women’s Intuition

With the explosion of celebrity infidelities, shocking chat shows and the continuous growth of the social media, it is hard not to start scrolling through his phone, hacking his Facebook or checking his pockets. However, every relationship is unique and should be treated as such. So whilst his lack of constant affection may be a sign that he is losing interest, it could also indicate a new sense of security where he no longer feels the need to outwardly devote all his attention to his chosen soul mate. Intuition can provide answers behind suspicious activity or a change in behaviour, but be cautious as not all change is detrimental.

Sorry babe I’m busy!

Do you remember the time when your partner had the innate ability to juggle his appointments, postpone meetings and deprive himself of sleep in order to tend to your needs? Suddenly you come to a point in your relationship where all your invites are declined; excuses are commonplace and you no longer feel like a priority, due to his ‘work commitments.’ Rejection at any level can dent one’s pride, but it can be particularly hurtful if you are used to a set behaviour. Nonetheless, the word ‘busy’ literally translates to unavailable and should not be taken personally once you have settled into a relationship. Whilst his sudden change in priorities could indicate a straying eye, with the dramatic increase of shift work and longer hours, he could just be trying to keep up with a demanding and hectic schedule. Moreover, this sudden focus of tending to previously neglected commitments may simply reflect his contentment and the fact that he is positively looking to a future with you.

But I promised the boys…

You may not understand why he would prefer an evening out with the lads or constantly cancels when he has his son for the weekend, but if your initial conversations were dominated by stories which included them, it should not be a surprise. Bear in mind that whilst you may have been his focal point initially, friends do get jealous, unexpected events happen and people usually adjust to the way of life they are most comfortable with. So before you reach for his phone, schedule a drink with your friends and focus on ensuring that you make more of the quality time you have together. After a stressful day at work, help him loosen his collar and release that tie, by being that much needed tentative, amusing and tactile distraction that he needs.

We don’t talk like we used to

Most people text on an impulse and if you are the only thing occupying his mind and he wants to make contact, he will! So how do you go from overwhelming wake up calls and complimentary texts, to uneventful two minute calls where you discuss why he did not get his monthly bonus? Naturally, you may come to the conclusion that he may be communicating with another when you don’t hear from him when you expect to. Even so, you must be realistic. Do not expect the forty text messages a day that you used to receive, as once you are settled, the need to communicate at that extremity becomes less necessary. As a couple, your quality time together should compensate for this as you get to know each other on a more intimate level. So unless you are receiving authentic warning signs of infidelity, (such as no communication, lack of personality on the phone, or long periods of silence), fine tune your imagination to regain his interest via text by perhaps suggesting a back massage or a spontaneous excursion.

Change in body language

Whether it is due to lust or infatuation; intimacy, exploration and discovery play significant roles when it comes to getting to know someone new. In the beginning, his gentle tactile nature will be emphasised as you enjoy the benefits of holding hands, affectionately gazing at each other and flirtatiously touching. If you are lucky to experience real chemistry, your attraction will undoubtedly strengthen by that uncontrollable shiver as he whispers in your ear or that warm glow when he caresses your hair. Consequently, as time progresses that physical chemistry should adapt and the discovery process should be more pleasurable.

Not tonight Hun

If your complaint is that your partner seems distant or appears repulsed by the thought of getting intimate, you have to address this immediately as there is obvious cause for concern. However, if you are merely peeved because you no longer intimately engage with the same vivacity or enthusiasm, think before you assume the worst. It is a scientific fact that stress exacerbates most conditions; on an extreme scale that bullying boss or financial stress may cause temporary impotence or affect the libido. Conversely, his lack of interest in bedroom could simply be put down to fatigue. Before you seek solace elsewhere, take some advice from Beyonce in the song Countdown and “run up in the kitchen with your heels on” and make that effort to “meet him at the finish line!”

Meeting someone new and intriguing can expose innovative adventures; mysterious conversations and unearth hidden emotions. Unsurprisingly, we are partial to the endearing features of the person we meet, but as time progresses some of our expectations remain too high. Consequently, whilst one party expects the other to maintain this high level, the other party is now comfortable to be themselves. If he consistently passes up the opportunity to see you, keeps mysteriously vanishing or insists on doing everything on his terms, your intuition is key. However, do not let your imagination go wild; remain alluring, spice it up with impetuous surprises and most importantly talk to him!

Image reproduced from askdeb.com

Pregnant and on the Pull

Proactive or Perverse? There seems to be a rise in the amount of pregnancy dating sites now broadcast on the internet.  It seems to be the next trending thing on the market.  No longer are pregnant singles content with being left to sit with buckets of ice cream and cankle city.  They are out there looking for love with Mr Right or Mr Right Now.  The sites are quite open and explain how wonderful it is to be pregnant and what a special time this is for you and your baby.  They explain how difficult it can be to meet people whilst your pregnant and this site will help you do that.  Whether it’s a baby daddy your after or something a bit more casual then these sites are geared towards that.  They are just like regular dating sites but designed specifically for pregnant women.

Now personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to date if you are pregnant, you still have the same desires and needs as a non-pregnant woman.  What does worry me is the type of clientèle which might be inclined to use these sites.  Men who specifically want to date pregnant women, is slightly too fetish like for me.  The men who are trawling these sites are specifically looking for pregnant women.  This is much different than meeting a woman in a bar/café and then finding out she is pregnant.  Being pregnant and single I would worry me that the men on these sites were specifically turned on by my precious baby bump.  Some men are only going to be interested or turned on while your getting bigger.  Happy to sleep with you all the time you’re pregnant and then have no interest in you once the baby is here and you are bump-less.  What would also concern me is that another man is happy to have sex with a woman who has already been impregnated by another man.  It all feels a little bit too sordid for my liking.

pregnant-woman-and-man-246x300

However of course there is always a flip side to any argument.  There are some men on the site who genuinely want to meet pregnant women because they are ready for a family.  It maybe that they have not have had any luck dating non pregnant women in the past.  It may be that they are looking for a ready-made family and are more than happy to bring up another man’s child (before he or she has even been born).  The benefits of meeting someone who is already pregnant is that you don’t need to date them for a year and then wait another year for them to get pregnant and have the child.  As a man you may be more than happy to have the ready-made family, especially if you are a little bit older and time is not on your side.

I can’t imagine this is an ideal situation for anyone, I can’t imagine anyone would want to be pregnant and single.  Being pregnant is such a wonderful time and ideally would be shared with a partner.  However not everyone is that fortunate to have that in their lives, relationships break down or pregnancy happens after a one night encounter.  These dating sites are designed to offer a solution for these pregnant women.  It’s never going to be easy trying to date as a pregnant woman, trying to detract the genuine nice guys from the freaks who just want to grab your bump and leave you once the baby actually gets here.

It’s something that’s becoming more and more socially apt, the dating sites have proved that.  I’m not sure it’s something I would delve into if I was in that situation.  I would be personally be too worried about my prospective dates intentions.  I think it’s easy enough to put dating on hold for a few months while you’re harbouring a child and just to concentrate on giving your child a good home while he or she is growing inside you.  And who wants to do a first date sober anyway.

The Lost Generation

How most kids at school now will probably never own a physical copy of anything…

Do you remember what it is like to buy a brand new album, the joy it brings to remove the protective cover and slip the disc into the player while you pull out the sleeve and read it cover to cover?  Or when you take out a book from the library and flick through the pages while it reveals that old, musty smell you only get from an old book?

I bet children of this generation will never get to experience this. With all this growing technology, it really gets you thinking about how it is affecting them.  It seems that they will never understand that feeling when you buy a new CD or record.  Or when you buy a new book or borrow one from the library and fan the pages across your face to get that smell. 

It is a shame in many ways to know that in school they are now on computers most of the day and are expected to have homework typed and printed from a computer.  What happened to the days of the good old pen and paper? 

Or they walk around with earphones in making it hard to socialise when out and about, every piece of music they own is probably downloaded.  Unless they are die-hard fans of music in which case they buy the physical copy then put on their iPods.

Then we have the Kindle which means that instead of going out and buying the book to have and hold, you just download onto this new piece of technology.  Ask yourself, If you are going to spend £10 on a downloaded version of the book that you will never get to physically hold, then why wouldn’t you just go to your local bookstore and buy the real thing?

It is kind of like your favourite restaurant having an ‘app’ that you can download your favourite meal from the menu and all you can do is smell how it would be if you had the real thing.  There really is no comparison to having the physical product in your hand and the joy it can bring when you re-discover that album or book you thought was lost.

 

Technology is advancing far more quickly than our minds can process it.  With iPads, iPods, Kindles and laptops it is hard to step away from it all and get a kid to read a book or write a letter.  Rather than typing a text or having their heads buried into a screen all day long.

It is a shame and if we as a society don’t try to make it better, then it will be too late.  Say goodbye to the days of going into a music or book shop and wondering around for hours taking in the smells and sounds. And say hello to the World Wide Web, where you don’t get to experience the smells and sounds you once loved. 

You are probably reading this thinking it is some old, wise and bitter person who hates technology because they can’t figure out how to work it.  But it is not, this is a woman in her early twenties who feels we are losing the generation that are the future of our nation. 

Now this is not saying technology is a bad thing, of course it isn’t.  Just that maybe it is time to stand up and show the younger generation that life isn’t all about getting the latest downloads and gadgets, that there are alternatives like having the physical product in the palm of your hands.

If they just got the revelation that you can still go to the store and buy the product then maybe we can put a stop to losing not only this generation but losing our beloved high street.

This of course is a whole separate matter…

Images reproduced from nytimes.com and inspireddribble.com

Disambiguation About 5 Styles Called Kickboxing

For somebody who has been practicing kickboxing since before it was given this name I find somehow irritating when people confuse it or, worse, deliberately misuse its name for commercial reasons.  Most martial arts, despite attracting some time interesting numbers of keen followers, failed to attract the real interest of the masses in terms the education systems, TV coverage and commercial sponsorships.  The only exception, over the last decade or so is the growing popularity of MMA.

If we can thank Bruce Lee for creating a huge awareness and interest for martial arts thanks to his movies in the 60ies and 70ies we could thank Jean Claude Van Damme for helping Kickboxing becoming a main stream martial art and sport thanks to his movies of from the late 80ies and early 90ies.  So while if you are practicing Tang So Do or Wing Chun you still have to explain to people what you do when you tell people to be training Kickboxing most of them will have at least a clue of what you do.

For this reason many organizations are promoting their martial arts as Kickboxing even when they are practicing something else and they should really keep its original name.  I will list below the 5 martial arts to me known that are all confusingly called Kickboxing while just one of them should be it.

American Kickboxing

Original called Karate Contact to differentiate from the no-contact karate competitions that still take place nowadays.  This martial art was initially practiced as a form of freestyle karate that allowed contact during sparring and competitions; it then developed into adding more appropriate boxing punches and combinations of kicks and punches.  Targets for all punches and kicks are the front part of the body and face, no low kicks are allowed.  American Kickboxing is practiced with full protection kit, boxing gloves, mouth guard, groin guard, sheen pads and foot pads. The uniform usually includes a t-shirt or jacket and long trousers.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also called Thai Boxing or Thai Kickboxing is a form of sport fight originated in Thailand and it allows one of the most complete and harsh fighting scenario for a sport bout.  Muay Thai allows punches, kicks, elbow and knee strikes to all parts of the body.  While training is usually performed while wearing a reasonable level of kit such as gloves, mouth guard, groin guard and sheen pads, fights are performed without any leg protection.

Japanese Kickboxing

The origins of Japanese Kickboxing are rooted in Muay Thai. It all started in th 60ies when a Japanese Karate master, after seeing a Muay Thai fight decided, to adopt a similar style fight full contact sparring.  Japanese Kickboxing has now evolved into K1 a world popular fighting sport that looks similar to Thai boxing, excluding elbow strikes; that means it allows punches, kicks and knee strikes to all parts of the body, excluding groin.   K1 has regular followers and practitioners in Japan, Europe and USA with TV coverage and large sponsorships. Typical uniform for Japanese Kickboxing is just shorts and perhaps a vest.

Savate

Also called French Boxing (or Boxe Française) is a French version of fighting sport with a number of differences compared to the rest of similar martial arts. In Savate both punches and kicks are allowed but they limit the target for the formers to the front of body, above the belt and face, e.g. similar to IBA boxing; quite confusingly kicks are instead allowed to hit the whole body, including back and legs.  The uniform used for Savate is also very typical as it’s a Lycra fabric full body suit and they wear boots instead of foot pads.

Sanda or Sanshou

Sanda, also called Chinese Kickboxing, was originally developed by the Chinese military based upon the intense study and practices of traditional Kung Fu and modern combat fighting techniques; it is a full contact form or Kickboxing usually practiced as a fighting application of various kung fu styles like Shaolin or Wu Shu.  Its freestyle philosophy embraces a sport fight with little rules, where kicks and punches to any area of the body (excluding groin) are allowed; throws are also possible but the fight gets stopped as soon as the fighters hit the ground (e.g. no grappling and submission).

So in my opinion just American and Japanese Kickboxing have the legitimate right to be called Kickboxing while the remaining three are getting free publicity by the big popularity that the name Kickboxing has gained over the last 20 years or so.  This list is the most accurate to the best of my knowledge; it relies on my over 30 years experience in martial arts and research I did online, both on Wikipedia and other sources.  If you have any suggestions for amendments please leave a comment.

What Experience Gives You

Recently I was running a lesson with the Cambridge University Kickboxing Society and I was pointing out to two beginners young ladies how one was not hitting has hard as she could while performing a simple exercise.

Her partner was surprised of my remark and she stopped asking how I could tell she was not hitting “as hard as she could”.  Surprisingly that was the first time somebody questioned my teaching in this way and I pondered for a few seconds before answering.

Many years of experience allow you to recognise and evaluate very quickly, within matter of seconds while a person is practicing martial arts, whether the he/she:

  • Is Powerful
  • Is Fast
  • Is Well co-ordinated
  • Has good reflexes
  • Can bear strong attacks
  • Has a good sense of fighting
  • Her body mass and shape allows a certain level of power

As I listed to her the above, non exhaustive, list of features and mentioned my experience in years that exceeds by a decade her age she quickly accepted my comment and carried on training.

Many instructors like to feel powerful and imposing their dogmatic teaching to their students expecting them to simply trust and believe him/her.  As my teaching is fully based on scientific principles everything can be explained and showed how techniques can be improved and fined tuned to deliver maximum efficiency and power.

So I quickly helped her partner to adjust her posture and angle of attack and within a couple of exercises she was hitting 20-30% harder.  Physical fitness can be and will be improved by continuous training  while the right technique will improve your performance in a very short time.

That’s what experience gives you.

The Thin Line Between Love and Lust

In this era of technology, flashy phones and social networking, instant friendships have come to form an important part of the fabric of our youth. Many young people, at one time or another, believe they are truly in love even if with someone they hardly know. Can young adults really find true love this young? Or do they just see the love side of the coin while the lust side lurks in the dark?

Although we surround ourselves with advancing robotics as the age of technology progresses, the traditional image of love is something which has managed to stay true; however with the internet literally at our finger tips, publicising relationship has become a norm amongst our generation of young lovers. Receiving ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘retweets’ in return for the intimacy shared with our ‘true loves’ has made the concept of ‘puppy love’ more and more tedious and with the number of social networks that bombard the internet now days the it’s not hard to see why.

Social networks in particular have become a foundation for most relationships young and old, making the façade of love claims easier. The quick transition in and out of relationships that occur with young people today examples how easy it can be for us to mistake a lustful relationship for the real deal. Pressures of media and peers add up to more than few of us avidly claiming that he/she were THE ONE… of many. (2673th time lucky)

All in all, as fashionable as being in love or shall I say lust is, heartbreak is on a popular rise. It’s not hard to come across numerous post, tweets and blogs dedicated to a broken heart. Is this just ironic proof that true love is something that the youth of today just can’t find, and with the constant involvement of technology, is this to blame?

Some may say at such a temperamental age where our hormones run wild is it even possible to feel heartbreak when we can barely feel love. Victims of a heartbreak at a young age may protest this notion; however as we move on and realise that what we had was far from love and nothing more than a burst of hormones, we’re left thinking the same way.

It seems as though the capability of loving and finding your true love is something that comes with an older age, experience and even an era perhaps? ‘You’re too young to know what love is’ but it’s not the same feeling we have for our cats and dogs … so what do we feel… lust?

The thin line between love and lust is a thin as we interpret it surely. You can’t explain how you feel but you know how to feel it, which is what love is… right? BUT is it ever possible for young adults of today to really connect with each other and find true love in the same ways of our parents meeting at such tender ages, or just passionately crave our naive counterparts. In a generation where publicity is the new private, finding a true love is something that won’t come as easy to us as it did our seniors.

Adverts for dating sites, advertise love at first sight. Boy meets girl and they interact… IN PERSON. So long story short potential consumers, go ONLINE and find your perfect match. It’s a double standard!

Perhaps the ability to meet people so much easier through the power of the internet is what blurs and distorts the young image of love/lust, most won’t know till it’s over but how can you blame us!

Love sees no age but it is something that lies beyond the depth of a mushy text or ‘changed relationship status’ on the book of faces. As young adults we owe ourselves more privacy, understanding and maturity to find a balance between love and lust in order to find our true loves.

Images reproduced from thebestsexiquette.wordpress.com and thinksoul25.com

Women’s Changing Roles in the Dating World

I remember asking my nan about dating and relationships and how she and my granddad got together.  It was a completely different world back then.  The men would pick up the women from their houses up with no less than a bunch of flowers.  Normally having to have the awkward conversation with the dad (still do sometimes).  The evening would then commence would with a trip to the movies and then for fish and chips on the promenade afterwards (weather permitting).  Of course he would pay and there would be no grey areas about that (not like these days).  These days it’s kind of down to the bloke to pay but you have to always make sure that you offer and that you actually have enough cash on you in case he (shock) doesn’t pay!  Afterwards back then he would walk you home and thank you for joining him.  Maybe a peck on the cheek if he was lucky but definitely not on a first date, I think things were much simpler back then.  It all seemed much more innocent back then, I mean when you dated someone you only dated one person.  There was no chance of trying to date his brother too!  Or dating someone else at all.  Not like these days where women like to keep their options open now, and it is encouraged to date more than one man at a time.  I encourage my friends to do it in all honesty.  I tell them until they know they are really keen on each other, then to keep their options open.

Back then it was the men who did all the asking and if you agreed to go out on a date you wouldn’t date anyone else in between.  It was just not the done thing.  The men did the asking and people only dated one person at a time.  What was also different was women’s approach to sex.  I think men’s have always been similar, try to get as much as possible whenever possible!  No matter what decade it is!  However women years ago sex was something a lot of women waited until married and if not married were defiantly in a secure relationship.  Not like now where women’s approach to sex can be seen as more masculine these days.  Not waiting as long to sleep with a man, having one night stands and threesomes are not uncommon these days (but that’s another blog altogether).  Getting hammered and having a one night stand is seen as the norm these days.  It’s almost part and parcel for some girls on a night out.  If they haven’t pulled then the night was just not worth it!

Women’s priorities have changed when it comes to dating.  When women go out on dates their not looking for potential suitors or men that they necessarily want to marry as soon as they meet them.  (Ok so some women are).  They are looking for someone who can make them laugh, treat them nicely and someone who can take them out for fish and chips (maybe).  The way in which women have dated has changed, because women’s priorities have changed.  Women don’t all want or need to be married at age 20, in fact its completely frowned upon now at that age!  There are more important things to think about like travelling, careers and friendships. This is why the rules have dating have changed is because women’s need for dating has changed.  Yes sometimes all women want is a man for 6 hours of the night and not the rest of her life.  As long as no one is getting hurt and everyone is practising this safely then we need not worry.  The dating world will just keep evolving before we know it having 2 or 3 partners at a time will be the norm! (Ok maybe not?!).

Peas and Potato Curry

A fast and easy dish to make. Simple flavours but a classic curry that makes a good accompaniment to any rice dish or chapatti.

Preparation Time-20 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

240 grams peas (fresh or frozen)
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced.
2 medium tomatoes de seeded and blended to a puree.
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon fresh chopped coriander leaves.
2 tablespoons olive oil
100 ml water
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

1.Heat oil in a pan , when it is hot add the mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter.
2. Saute the garlic in the oil and  add the blended fresh tomatoes and tomato puree.
3. Add the salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and cook till the tomatoes start to separate from the oil.
4. Add the potatoes and peas and the water.
5.Bring the curry to boil then turn down the heat .Cover and cook till potatoes are  fully cooked.(approx 10 minutes)If you want more gravy than add a little extra water.
6. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the fresh chopped corriander.

Serve with Rice or chapattis

Window Design Ideas

What hangs at the windows can make a huge difference to the look of a room – so which is best: curtains, blinds or shutters?

It really rather depends on what effect and purpose you want to achieve.  Is privacy the main concern, keeping prying eyes out?  Or do you want to let the light in and not care who can see into the room?

Of course, it also depends on the function the room serves.  In a bathroom, for instance, heavy or fussy curtains would be impractical.  In a bathroom, where privacy is key, it would be best to go for a blind or shutters.  Look at www.thecaliforniacompany.co.uk for some interesting ideas.  A very practical room like the kitchen also works best with a simple window treatment, unless of course, the kitchen décor is a country-style where light curtains might suit better.

modern window design in homes

For the more public rooms, such as the living room and dining room, a window treatment that allows plenty of light in will be a good idea.  Venetian blinds or internal shutters would allow the daylight to be controlled while also make a stylish statement.

In a television or media room, and even a nursery, too much light can be a problem.  A blackout curtain will ensure that sunlight does not fall across the television screen and ruin the picture, and a blackout curtain in a nursery will make it easier for a baby to fall asleep during the day.  Also, a heavier, fuller blackout curtain in a television room will improve the acoustics.

Of course, there’s no reason why a window should be limited to only one or the other.  Why not team blinds up with curtains?  A plain blind with patterned curtains can create a stylish and not too bare look.  There are different types of blind – the Roman, Venetian and the London.  The Roman and the London are fabric blinds, and light is diffused through the cloth.  A Roman or London blind can be a simpler alternative to curtains, as the fabric can be patterned, allowing the window some visual interest but appearing uncluttered.  A fabric window dressing could also be tied in with the upholstery of the room’s furniture.

A Venetian blind is rather similar to a shutter and can be used to angle light or block it out altogether.   Blinds also solve problem window shapes, as they can be hung separately, whereas an awkward bow-shaped window will probably need a customised curtain hanging rail.  Blinds are also the best choice where there isn’t a lot of room either side of the window.

Window treatments are as susceptible to the current fashion as are clothes and food.  For a more traditional property, and especially for those with high ceilings and tall windows, curtains will be more suitable, and in keeping with the room’s original features. For a modern room setting, blinds or internal shutters provide a functional, yet simple, option.

Interior shutters, particularly half-shutters, are a popular choice at the moment and provide the best of both worlds.  They afford privacy, yet let a good amount of light in above eye-level.

Be True to Yourself, Think Positive!

Thinking goes on in your mind! So how can anything that goes on in your mind influence the outer world so much?

Often, we engage in limiting beliefs and  negative thoughts which hold us back; thoughts like

  • “I am not good enough”
  • “I have no time”
  • “They don’t understand me”

… and the list goes on. This influences our outer world for several reasons and the most important is that your mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is only in your mind. When you think negative thoughts, your mind sends negative messages to your body, you act negatively and the problem is that everybody will notice it.

The first thing to do in order to change what goes on in your life is to change what goes on in your mind. Think positive!

Positive thinking and gratitude help you receive more of what you have. In fact, all thoughts are really requests for more of the same, in good and in bad.  This is mainly because of the fact that our mind is not able to process negatives. Here is an example: Try really, really hard not to think of a pink house, don’t think of a pink house. Now, what are you thinking about?  Don’s say a pink house! ;-)

In order for our mind to keep from thinking about something, it needs to think about it first, then decide or remember that it does not want to think about it and either change one or more elements of that something or think  about something else instead. So, what does this say? Well, I wonder what a person who keeps on thinking “I don’t want to fail, I don’t want to stay where I am. I don’t want to feel that way anymore…” focuses on. I wonder what requests he/she is sending out; and what do you think this person is likely to receive?

Thinking positive thoughts means stating what you want as if you have it now. With this I am not suggesting that you need to lie to yourself by saying things that you do not believe in. I don’t want to see things better than they are, I like to see things like they are. Not worse either though!

When you catch negative thoughts, change them right away to the positive versions. Here below you can see a brief diagram showing how to change negative thoughts into positive ones.

This will take practice; negative thoughts will try to come in from all angles and the secret is to persist and reframe each and every thought that you are not entirely happy with and this will eventually become an automatic habit.

Another tool is positive affirmations; start now! Write 5 statements that support what you want to be, have or do. Write statements which remind you of how empowered you are, things which inspire you to take action, things which will fill your mind with inspiration, excitement, enthusiasm and positive thoughts.

Starting today, write positive affirmations on Post-It and place them where you are likely to see them often. Be creative! You can print your most powerful affirmations, frame them and hang them on your walls, you can put them in your wallet, etc.

Every day, take at least three five minute breaks and read these affirmations, possibly out loud in front of a mirror.

Gratitude is another great tool which will enable you to use your mind to reach your goals; the key here is to be grateful for what we do have.

I would suggest you take 10 minutes every night or morning to write all the things you are grateful for, meaning it. Begin from the things that we give more for granted; after all, not everybody has the privilege of waking up in the morning feeling healthy, warm and with food on the table. So be grateful for those things too; don’t live anything out.

Once you have a good list of the things that you do have, for which you are grateful, take that image of what you want to be, have or do, that “You” with that final outcome and notice the difference between that “New You” and You now. What skills does the “New You” have that you do not have now? What resources? Once you have that list of those skills and resources, you will notice that some of these skills are simply behavioural and attitudinal. This means that the “New You” has acquired a different way of thinking, behaving and consequently a different physiology. The others may be skills and things that you need to learn.

It helps to take charge of those things now. You may not have the final outcome yet, nothing however stops you from thinking, behaving and appearing like that “New You” right now; you can easily act as if you are that “New You” now. You could easily imagine what it would feel like being that “New You”, and you can feel those feelings now.

This will amplify your focus on that goal you have, because when you act as if you have it now, you are acting as if you have it, behaving as if you have it, appearing as if you have it and thinking as if you have it.

Do you see what this does? You are focusing entirely on your goal; your thoughts are focused on it, your body is focused on it, your language is focused on it and your behaviour is focused on it.

Now, what is the most important skill in achieving something? That’s right, it’s the FOCUS. And there is no better way to focus than this as this way, without consciously realising it, you are focusing on your goal all day, every day, mind and body.

Also, apart from the already valid benefits above, Positive thinking will help you send a positive outlook of your persona to others. Think about this for a moment: Look at the pictures below; the same person, a different expression, clearly a different emotion and, if you listen to your feelings as you look at those pictures, you will notice that one of them makes you feel ad ease and the other does not.

Who would you buy from? Who would you like to socialise with? Who would you trust?

Although perhaps not so clearly, you are constantly sending out your thoughts with your body and people do feel them. Some people may be able to interpret these messages better than others however, even those with no sensory acuity (body language reading skills) will pick up those messages with feelings; they may say things like “I don’t know what it is but I just feel uncomfortable around Mr Left”.

Think positive and the messages that people receive from your paralanguage will be positive.

Beauty and The Business

Janet Ginnings

The beckoning of the beauty industry’s buffed fingernails awaits 2013’s budding entrepreneurs. However, despite hitting an astounding valuation of £15 billion in this United Kingdom this year, one must not be blindly lulled by the siren’s song, as with all sector of business, the ugly prospect of failure remains. As Aldous Huxley once said ‘Experience is not happens to a man; it is what man does with what happens to him’, businesswoman Janet Ginnings personifies this quote, having not only made the most out of the opportunities given to her but also being quick to make opportunities when none could be seen over the horizon. From working as a beautician, to founding her own incredibly successful Mayfair salon in 1996, she is one whose wise words should be considered for anybody brave enough to test the turbulent tides of beauty business.

EXPECT A TOUGH START…
On average 80% of businesses will fail to launch, so remember if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Janet says ‘During the initial phase of setting up a business start up capital costs are incurred and at the very same time the client base is being developed’. A business plan is compulsory, cash flow must be watched like a hawk and especially with beauty effort needs to be maintained towards building a relationship with potential clients, to keep them coming back time and time again. Janet Ginnings hair and beauty salon has seen the likes of Elle McPherson and Sadie Frost pass its doors; furthermore the salon does not limit its client base, with male grooming treatments ranging from facials to body ‘tertucking’.

PASSION AND KNOWLEDGE SHOULD INFLUENCE YOUR BUSINESS FIELD OF CHOICE
‘I’m passionate about my business…my aim is to provide an inspirational way of looking into skin and hair regime’. We all know that business is about unique concepts or a fresh way of approaching grounded methods. Janet has drawn from her heritage, from her life experiences, ‘I was brought up to look after my skin and hair by my mother and grandmother. This has always been my passion…being brought up at a farm, my mother used herbs and spices for body scrub and mask. Lots of theses spices have been used from the kitchen e.g chickpea flower was used for face wash, cracked wheat goat’s milk was used as scrub’. This has impacted her Indian Kitchen, which carries out treatments using Mother Nature’s very own produce.

DO NOT FEAR THE COMPETITION, BEAT THEM!
If one thing is guaranteed when it comes to running a business, it is that there will be plenty of others trying to take your place. ‘One has to be on top of one’s business. There is always someone better than you around the corner. This must not scare you but make you aware and be prepared for competition. This is just part of life.’

Ambition and drive are the spices of life, always believe you can succeed and make it happen by working smart not just hard.

Tomato Chutney

Whenever I make any kind of  bhajias or samosas  I like to serve them with this tomato chutney/dip.   It’s tangy and sweet to taste but can be made hot by adding chillies if you like hot chutneys.

Ingredients:

Time – 10-15 minutes

4 -5  ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 tablespoon splenda or sugar
2-3 cloves of garlic
2-3 green really finely blended chillies (use less or none if you don’t like hot food)
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of turmeric (optional)
½ teaspoon of cumin/coriander mixture (dhana jiru)
½ teaspoon basil

Method

1.  Make a small cross at the bottom of your tomato and boil it in just enough water to cover it for a minute or two.

2. Once boiled, remove from the hot water and dip the tomatoes in cold water.  This helps to remove the tomato skin quicker.

3. Chop the tomato into really small pieces.

4. Add the rest of your ingredients to the tomatoes and allow this to cook until the tomatoes have really softened.

5. Blend this mixture with a potato masher or electric blender.  You can allow the chutney to thicken more according to your preference.

6.  Taste and add salt or lemon as necessary

7.  Allow to cool.

8.  Sprinkle some basil before serving your tomato chutney.

9.  Any left over chutney should be fine for 2-3 days if kept in the fridge.

Tip: You can use tinned tomatoes if you haven’t got fresh tomatoes.

Say No to Winter Blues

winter-bluesAutumn is here, and winter is just around the corner ,and that means only one thing to some of us, the dreaded Winter blues. In medical terms its called Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD for short, well it does not have to be that way, I am going to help you feel great about yourself with the wonderful benefits of pure essential oils.

You all must have heard of Aromatherapy. An ancient art combined with the healing value of touch and the therapeutic powers of essential oils in which it promotes good health and a sense of well being, well the subject of Aromatherapy would take me forever to write, as there is so much information to tell about its worth, so I am going to concentrate on the feel good factor of uplifting essential oils that will help you feel emotionally better within yourself through the bleakest of winters. Trust me it works. That little brown bottle of pure essential oils will have you up and running on the darkest and coldest of mornings.

Essential oils are good for your mind and sole. Literally.

I realised the benefits of a few drops of essential oils combined with a carrier oil when I worked as a Therapist at a world famous Spa way back in 2007- by the wonderful feed back from clients.

What is a pure essential oil
These oils are very different from a cooking oil, they are concentrated essences, much lighter than water, they are usually mixed with other ingredients to trap their effectiveness. Because they are so concentrated essential oils are measured in drops.

What is a carrier oil
Carrier oils allow essential oils to permeate the skin, protecting it from irritation.
Grape seed, sweet almond, rose hip, wheat germ and evening primrose. All these oils do not have a strong smell, carrier oils can be added to your essential oil so you will be able to enjoy the pure scent of your favourite oil. It is imperative that you dilute one part essential oil, one part carrier oil (base) because essential oils are plant extracts and extremely powerful and can burn the skin if put on neat. there are only a few essential oil you can put straight onto small areas of the skin and that is pure lavender oil, this has a healing effect on burns and cuts.
Orange Blossom or Neroli essential oils can beat the winter blues – and add carrier oil if you have sensitive skin. After getting up in the morning, while you run your bath add 5/10 drops of orange essential oil to the water, close the door to keep in the vapour, have a soak for about 10 minutes, if you have sensitive skin dilute your essential oil with peach kennel, sweet almond, or apricot carrier oil.

This will also leave your skin wonderfully soft. You will feel uplifted for the day ahead, this oil will also help anxiety and depression. It is great to alleviate the symptoms of pre menstrual tension too.

The next tip works if you get in from work and you have got to go out and you don’t really feel like it. Mix one drop carrier oil, one drop of orange essential oil in a little bowl, get under the running shower and pour the oils onto your wet sponge with your usual shower gel and sponge your whole body over. (you can do this if time is short in the morning)

Drink a glass of orange juice as you go out the door in the morning and you will feel a whole new person.

Basil essential oil
Use the same as Orange essential oil. This oil is a great tonic, lifts fatigue, depression, sluggish skin, and getting the circulation going.

Eucalyptus essential oil
If you have a cold, Eucalyptus oil is a great way of relieving it. Add 1-2 drops into a sink of steaming water, (do not use any more) place a towel over your head , CLOSE YOUR EYES and breath deeply and slowly, this will help clear the sinuses, reduce fever, clear your head. Not recommended for children under seven years old.

Peppermint essential oil
Tired feet -  add 4-5 drops of peppermint oil into a large bowel of warm water and soak feet.
Headaches and colds - to a handkerchief add a 3- 4 drops of oil and inhale to help your cold or headache at work.

A note…
1. Do not take any essential oil internally, (lock them away safe if you have children).

2. When using carrier essential oils with children it is strongly advice to get guidance from a qualified Aromatherapy practitioner before using them as some can be potent to children.

3. Do not apply undiluted essential oils onto skin (they are not fragrances) they can burn and cause irritation to the skin).

4. Not recommended for children under seven.

5. If you’re pregnant ask for guidance first from a local Aromatherapy practitioner before using any pure essential oils.

6. Make sure you store all oils out of the reach of children and store them safely.

There are lots of uplifting essential oils on the market to help beat the winter blues try any of the citrus ones. You can also use your orange essential oil as a room spray to uplift the mood, or get rid of any doggy smells, cigarette smells etc. Just pop in 5 drops of orange or lemon oil into the water, shake your sprayer well, then freshen up the room with this lovely uplifting fresh smell.

What are you waiting for, go to your health store and stock up your bathroom with your little brown bottles and carrier oil, and you can be sure you will have a sunny winter, and get rid of the winter blues once and for all.

Image reproduced from businessblogshub.com

Video: Take a Lesson from Nature … Eat Like a Fungus

Decay and spoilage are necessary and natural parts of life.  As an illustration, a tree grows leaves that are healthy and green.  Those leaves soon turn brown and fall to the ground.  They quickly decay and provide nourishment to the microorganisms in the soil.  Such microorganisms feed the tree and allow it to grow more healthy green leaves.  All things in nature come from the earth and eventually return to it.

Food is no different.

In fact, whether a particular food decays is one way to evaluate its nutritional content.  Foods that decay often retain their naturally occurring enzymes and bacteria, which serve to promote health in those that eat them.  In addition, foods often spoil as a result of exposure to air or water containing insects, bacteria, molds, and fungus.  These creatures are always looking for a good meal.  Foods that nourish people also nourish them.  It can be argued that these microorganisms have a stronger sense than we do of what foods are healthy and which to avoid.  Foods that they avoid are foods that people too should avoid.

Unfortunately, insects, bacteria, and the like pass-over as unfit to eat many of the so-called “foods” that are commonplace in our modern world.

An American man recently made this discovery in an interesting way.  He found a one-year-old fast-food hamburger in his jacket pocket that looked as fresh as the day he bought it.  He was amazed, and he started collecting similar fast-food burgers.  Like the first, they did not decay.  Year … after year … after year, these burgers sat exposed to the elements, yet they continued to appear edible.

Watch this short clip about what this man found.  Notice that, although the burgers in his collection are old and do not look fresh, they have not decayed as natural and unprocessed meat and bread would.

We humans can learn a lesson from bacteria, fungus, insects, and other lower life-forms–nutrition is largely absent from fast-food burgers and other processed food.

Image source:  Photo by Robert Cochrane, whose portfolio can be viewed here.

Tourchi Batata – Tunisian Spicy Potato Salad



A delicious and spicy potato salad with a hint of cumin and lemon.

Preparation Time-20 minutes
Cooking time- 20 minutes
Serves- 2

Ingredients:

4 medium sized potatoes
1 tablespoon Harissa paste
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

1. Boil the potatoes and when they have cooled  slightly peel them.
2. Dice the potatoes into 1 inch pieces and keep aside.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan , when it warms up add the harissa, cumin and salt. Sauté for a minute or two for the spices to release flavour.Add the lemon juice and stir it in.
4. Add the diced potatoes and toss to coat the potatoes with the spice mixture.
5. Transfer to a serving dish.

Serve warm or cold.

Treat Your Neck With Respect

turkey neck

With all the advertising campaigns going on about how to keep the skin on your face youthful, the most recognisable thing I have noticed with all the beauty hype is that there is little mention of the neck and yes the décolletage area (chest) is classed as the body but in “beauty therapy terms” the neck and chest are to be treated in the same way as your face.

If you’re in your early twenties or thirties you may think this article has nothing to do with you yet…. but it does, you need to take action before the skin around your neck and chest starts to show signs of ageing!

Remember the saying “prevention is better than the cure”. Well this is definitely the case when it comes to caring for your skin and keeping it young – especially in the neck and décolletage area.

Stress, smoking and sun damage all contribute to a skin that has nothing to do with the D.O.B on your birth certificate. The neck is one of the first places to show premature ageing as well as the chest. Skin is so much thinner in these areas, so a little TLC will go a long way.

How many times do you see a mature woman with – dare I say it “a turkey neck” or a crêpey chest trying to cover up with a scarf. Do you want this to be you in years to come?

With spring around the corner and lower neck lines starting to appear in the shops, we should all start to think about looking after this part of our body you will be so thankful in later years that you did.

Here’s how…

1. Collagen is the most important structure of the skin this keeps skin young, to keep it restored eat plenty of antioxidant foods such as fruit and veg.

2. Drink plenty of water throughout the day- water plump’s up the skin cells, giving it a more youthful look.

3. Cleanse your neck with a hydrating cleanser.

4. Use a mild exfoliator around neck and décolletage area.

5. Use a hydrating face mask to both areas.

6. Boost circulation around neck and chest area by splashing with cold water

7. Apply a rich hydrating/firming neck cream in both areas (if you’d sooner – after five minutes dab of the excess moisture with soft tissue). In the day time using a moisturiser with a sun block will be beneficial – never let the neck dry out, especially if exposed to the sun

8. Avoid spraying perfume directly onto the neck and chest area- as this is drying to the skin and over time will cause it to become crêpey.

9. With the top of your hand you can gently slap the underside of your neck 10 times, this will firm it.

10. Try reading a Carol Maggio facercise book. It will have neck exercises in it.

Come on all you ladies out there, start treating your neck with respect! If you ever run out of cream, don’t forget that there is always good old fashion Vaseline, so there really is no excuse for letting your neck and skin get old before it’s time.

Image reproduced from youbeauty.com

I Have Decided – Have You?

Have you ever heard someone say: “Oh, I will quit on Monday! That’s it, I truly had enough on this junk! Let the weekend go buy and then I will quit” or “From January I will change, I will go on a diet and get myself down at the gym” or “That’s it, from tomorrow I will stop drinking at night”?

Seriously, think about all the people who made these kinds of statements and see if you can recall any of them who actually acted on that statement. Chances are that if you have caught anybody say anything similar to the above, none of what wad said has ever come to reality. The person who said “Oh, I would so like to lose some weight” whilst eating a pizza, is still overweight and the person who said that cigarettes will no longer control his life whilst blowing the smoke out, still coughs in the morning while he looks for the lighter.

This is down to one simple but very significant fact: none of the above statements constitute a decision; none of them is structured as a decision nor is it meant as one. They are simply verbalization of preferences, verbalization of what these people would like to have happen in their lives, they would like life to just give them those things but they are not willing to do anything about it.

A true decision is always, with no exception, accompanied by an action; immediately. That means that one must do the most that one can do the moment the decision has been made. This concept represents the most effective way to start, and consequently complete, anything and seems very simple. In some ways in fact, it is simple although, maybe because of its simplicity, many people fail to apply it and thus fail to reach their goals whether that is quitting smoking, losing weight, getting a new job, making money etcetera.

The power of decisions is responsible for the success of people like Thomas Edison who decided that “every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward” and, straight away, carried on seeking the right way. Edison decided that he will keep on trying until he found the right way and he did carry on until he did. Henry Ford who decided that he wanted an 8 cylinder engine mounted in one piece and invested time and money persuading his employees, who declared the project to be impossible, to find a way. Ford decided that he wanted such engine and took action right away. Silvester Stallone decided that he would have been Rocky and even when the 2000 agencies he went to refused him 3 times each, he still persisted. His wife left him, he had no money to eat, he had to sell his dog because he was no longer able to look after him and still, when the one of the agencies he went to, decided to offer him $60,000.00 for the script as long as he gave up on the desire of wanting to play Rocky, he refused and walked away with nothing. He refused and he persisted until the agency accepted with the condition that Stallone would have only received nominal pay and a cut of the profits because they would not believe that a guy who, at least to them, did not look good, did not sound good and simply did not have the right presence to be an actor, could drive Rocky to be a successful movie. They were right: Rocky was not a good movie; Rocky turned out to be a legacy!

Of course, persistence, drive, motivation, ambition, vision and desire all played key roles in the monumental achievements of Edison, Ford and Stallone and others like them, but it all started from a true decision; a decision to accept nothing less, nothing different from the dream they have carefully designed, not even the smallest compromise.

All these amazing outcomes above were once ideas, like the ones that many of us have, like the ones that remain in one’s mind and eventually become regrets. Unless we take these ideas and turned them into Decision and the one and only way known to turn ideas into Decisions is to take action; not tomorrow, not in one hour but right now. This is, symbolically as well as practically, the equivalent of giving the big wheel the first push; it makes the second spin almost inevitable.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Anthony Robbins

Image reproduced from http://www.lesca.ca

Give me an F!

What is it about men and the F Word? And by that I mean Feelings. Why are we unable to get an emotion out of a guy? Is it something they are born with, or something they learn over Xbox and packets of pork scratchings. Trying to get an emotion out of a guy is like trying to muffin top yourself into those size 6 jeans. As long as you wear a long top, some heels and large accessories nobody will know that the button mark has now indented itself onto your belly button.

It’s the same with blokes, if they don’t talk about it its not really there. If a guy has a problem then it’s a case of doing everything they possibly can not to deal with it. They’ll go for a drink, wash the car or play Xbox. They seem to have no problem with bottling those demons about work, friends or relationships up. It’s us girls that’s that want to wrench it out of them, like a teenager with too much ache. Pick, pick, pick we go until all the venom is out of you.

Half the time the problem is not even with you and it lies with us. If us girls have a problem we like to talk it through with our girlfriends, get a 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinion from the barmaid after one too many chardonnays. We need to seek advice from our nearest and dearest and that includes you boys too. Don’t get me wrong, nobody likes an emotional wreck of a girlfriend; boohooing because Billy Mitchell ‘just can’t catch a break’. Or because your best mate said those jeans are in fact too tight for you. Nevertheless we girls need a little TLC from our boyfriends sometimes.

When we are seen to be slumped in the other room watching re runs of How I Met Your Mother, necking a large glass of vino; know that popping your head around the bedroom door with a “You ok babe?” and walking off is never going to suffice. Ignoring us will only anger us and we will be forced to plot ways to hurt your Xbox in our dreams. To be ignored is like being dragged past Kurt Geiger in a hurry because “you don’t need another pair of shoes”. It’s because we think that you don’t care, when deep (deep) down we know you do. We don’t need a rendition of A Midsummer Nights Dream (complete with feather hat and quill)… trust me we have no delusions of grandeur here. Just for you to listen, smile, nod along and put your arm around us and tell us it’s ok.

Boys would rather run into the arms of the public house than see us girls upset, not because you don’t care but because you don’t know how to handle us. Having an emotional conversation with your girlfriend is about as appealing as sitting through the opera. Long winded, tearful and sometimes high pitched.

We are simple creatures really… honest. We don’t bite but we may cry a bit. Just don’t mention our muffin top!

Alzheimer’s: Darkening Corners of Once Bright Minds

November 26th 1901 saw the German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, Alois Alzheimer, historically cement his observations of the first woman to ever be diagnosed with the condition, Auguste Deter, 51 years old.  ‘She sits on the bed with a helpless expression… she looked as if she didn’t understand the question… she seems trying to remember… her spontaneous speech is full of paraphrasic derailments and perseverations’.

Over a century later, the disease’s namesake holds strong.

Alois Alzheimer

Dr Alois Alzheimer

With an estimated 650,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia, set to rise to 1 million by 2021, an ageing population and consideration of how the disease causes once bright minds, to see glints of memories passed consumed into oblivion; the recent rise in research funding towards this field, could not have come sooner.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with a range of effects, from the characteristic loss of memory to the disintegration of reasoning skills. The root causes remain obscure, however it seems evident that the brain experiences atrophy – a process whereby the brain itself wastes away in accordance with the degeneration of neurons. Spreading over time, this degeneration will affect many areas, such as the hippocampus whose function is linked to memory, and grey matter, involved in the processing of thoughts. On November 4th, 1904, Alois Alzheimer spoke of this ‘unusual disease of the cerebral cortex’. In reference to the post-mortem pathological examination of 55 year old Auguste Deter, he revealed that ‘in the centre of an otherwise almost normal (neuron) cell there stands out one or several fibrils due to their characteristic thickness and peculiar impregnability’; in fact studies have gone on to show an abnormal amount of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brains of affected patients. The unusual ‘thickness’ and ‘impregnability’ Alois described is therefore likely to be a reflection of the protein and fibres building up in the brain, this correlates with a lower efficiency of the transmission of messages, and the eventual destruction of these cells.

‘All in all we have to face a peculiar disease process which has been verified recently in large numbers.’

Alzheimers womanWhile promises of a brave new world, in which disease has been annihilated, never rests far from the consciousness of numerous scientists, the people need to know how to actively impact their own health. While they battle through obstacles in pursuit for the final solution, remember that all knowledge is power and the following aims to outline risk factors; the A.l.z.h.e.i.m.e.r.s of Alzheimer’s disease:

Age – is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. After reaching 65 the risk doubles every 5 years and nearly half the people over 85 have Alzheimer’s. It is apparent that increasing age means increasingly increasing disease susceptibility and understanding the exact reasons for this could not only be of paramount importance to curing Alzheimer’s, but also numerous other age-onset diseases.

Lifestyle – it goes without saying that the decisions we make in everyday life, have a significant impact on our long term health. Stoptober has arrived, so why not take the opportunity to kick those butts out for good – see https://stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk/ for further information. Controlling high blood pressure/ blood glucose if you have diabetes, reducing cholesterol level, maintaining a healthy weight with regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet – all of these will work towards lowering your risk for this destructive disease. Whilst the market continues to floods with ‘miracle drugs’ claiming a number of arguably beneficial effects, remember to always consult with a practitioner.

Z..umba! – This fun dancercise may be a good way to begin increasing your exercise intake, especially if the thought of a room, full of daunting equipment sends a chill down your spine.

Heart Disease – a number of lifestyle factors and conditions associated with vascular disease and stroke can raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, these include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and smoking.

Early detection – In addition to the above suggestions, make sure you take full advantage of regular health checks as you get older. In England, Wales and N.Ireland, only 44% of people with dementia are thought to have received a formal diagnosis.

Inheritance – Genetic factors are known to play a role in the development of some forms of Alzheimer’s disease, as it can be seen to run in the family – one form is a single gene disorder. Three genes have been identified (the strongest being apolipoprotein e4 (APOE e4), it is important to note that they only account for less than 5% of cases and most genetic mechanisms for the disease in families if largely unknown. In additions the early a person experiences symptoms, the stronger the genetic influence on it’s development e.g. symptoms appearing in the 40’s or 50’s. However, having a family member suffer from the disease, does not necessarily put others at risk for various reasons – namely, they may have not had the defective gene/s passed on. If you are concerned about inheritance, consult your doctor who may be able to refer you for genetics counselling and advice.

Mild cognitive impairment – People who suffer from MCI encounter symptoms of cognitive decline and memory difficulties. These symptoms are not strong enough for a dementia diagnosis, however they are more severe than would be expected for their given age – this increases the risk of developing dementia later in life, however delaying or even preventing the progression all together is still possible.

Education – Studies have shown that a chronic engagement in mentally stimulating activities may be associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disesase – including higher levels of formal education, activities such as playing a musical instrument and maintaining a stimulating occupation. In this way, the brain may be developing more connections between neurons.

Relax – Studies have also shown an association between socially stimulating activities and a reduced risk of developing the conditions. Enjoying an active life, packed with personal hobbies and interests may also act in the favour of prevention or slower progression.

Sex – Alzheimer’s disease has a higher prevalence in women (67%) than men (44%).

How Strongly Do You Wish to Succeed in Martial Arts?

When you see a person who is active and among the top performers within your school or club have you ever asked your self what took that person to be where he/ she is now?  We surely cannot assume that anybody was born capable of punching, kicking or performing any other martial art move in a seamlessly fashion: these are acquired, learnt skills.

I tend to think that many qualities all have an input to the final performance of a martial artist but I am willing to develop and discuss in this post the top ones:

  • Talent
  • Physical fitness that can be split essentially in:
    • Agility
    • Strength
    • Speed
    • Flexibility
    • Coordination
  • Observation skills
  • Mental flexibility
  • Wish to succeed

Let me now see these and briefly expand on them:

Talent

I define somebody talented when she walks into the training room for the first time and she naturally performs anything shown in a relatively easy and natural way.  Talent can be natural or built on previous experiences, non necessarily in martial arts: e.g. dancers and gymnast can naturally perform many martial arts moves.  Talent opens up doors and a number of possibilities to the performer.  Doing things is easy for her so she tend to quickly get to a decent level and often moving on to the next challenge without seeking excellence in its current shape or form.  While I am not stating that talented people do not stick around, in my experience they get easily bored and need continuous new challenges.  I have seen a relatively high number of talented people to get to some level of proficiency in martial arts but a much greater number dropping off within a few years.

Physical fitness

Regardless the martial art you practice there will be some physical fitness involved and being fit or developing a certain level of fitness will help your performance.  In my experience most people will develop over time the level of fitness for their required or expected performance, regardless of their initial fitness level (exceptions do apply).  This is to say that people naturally or initially fit will have an edge or a small advantage over the less fit ones but this will not affect most people in the long run.

Observation skills

I define observation skills when somebody can see a technique performed by another person and she can quickly understand and replicate it without need of deep explanation of the single movements involved.  I consider observation skills a great tool for the martial artist to improve her own performance and gradually absorb other people skills without constant assistance of an instructor or coach.  In my experience the person good in observation skills will be careful in how different people perform the same technique and find her own way to master it.

Mental flexibility

I define mental flexibility the skill of being adaptable in your approach to learn and perform a technique or a combination.  In general there are physical, mechanical and safety rules about performing techniques but often there isn’t a right or wrong about using that or the other technique.  While physical flexibility can be a great skill for certain martial arts, mental flexibility is great for all of them because it allows adapting to what works and what doesn’t.

Wish to succeed

A person with a strong wish to succeed will fuel her enthusiasm to perform.  The wish to succeed will ensure this person will:

  • train regularly and often: this will have the most immediate effect of increasing the number of hours of training per month or year; her mind will get more and more involved with the training becoming a second nature.  Let’s try to remember that the mind and the subconscious are what we mostly train when learning and performing a martial art: muscles and bones simply move in the direction and with the speed and intensity that the mind dictates.  The secondary effect of this is that instructors and senior students will see this person around more than others and default to her more and more of their attention.  This will help this person to get slightly better than other and keep an advantage over other, less committed people.
  • train with the most challenging people in the room trying to be as good or better then them
  • Participate to seminars and other external activities organized by her school or club – visit events organized by others

I will conclude this post by simply stating the following: at whatever point your martial training started or will start your wish to succeed will be the most valuable component and likely the quality that will be pivotal in your success in martial arts.  Other qualities, even the ones I did not mention here will all matter but just as long as your wish to succeed is there.

Spicy Buckwheat Pancakes

 

I used Orgran Buckwheat Pancake mix to make some spicy pancakes.  Buckwheat is not a grain but a fruit seed and part of the rhubarb family of plants.  This link  gives you more information about Buckwheat.

Ingredients for 5 pancakes:
 
½ cup buckwheat pancake mix
1 small onion -grated
1 fresh green chilly chopped into small pieces
small bunch of freshly chopped coriander
small piece of grated ginger
2 gloves of garlic minced using a garlic press
½ tsp. salt
pinch of turmeric
2-3 tbls oil
1.  Transfer the pancake mix into a mixing bowl.  Add the onions, ginger, garlic, green chillies, coriander, salt, turmeric to the pancake mix.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the mixture and mix it all using a spoon.

3.  Add half a cup of water to the mixture and stir.

4. This water should be enough but if you feel that the mixture is thick and you can a couple of tablespoons of water.

5. Grease and heat a non stick frying pan with oil.  Rub off the excess oil using a kitchen paper.  Pour in a small ladle of the pancake mix and using a tablespoon, spread it into a circle.

6. Once the little air bubbles start to appear, it should be easy to turn the pancake over.  If the pancakes feel dry, you can add a couple of drops of oil to allow them to brown.

7.  Cook until golden brown on both sides. Finish making all the pancakes in the same manner. I didn’t need to add much oil to the pancakes and they cooked fine and tasted great too.

8.  Serve them hot with your favourite sauce.