60 is the new 40

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December – It’s all about Birthdays!

What birthdays are all about
They say your birthday is just another day, so why go the extra mile?
It is another day. Nonetheless, why should that stop you from celebrating the joy of life? Why should it stop us from taking a few minutes, hours or an entire day to take stock of your life, your people, and most importantly, count your blessings.
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But what happens when you grown up? Is it tacky to throw a birthday party for yourself? If you ask me, birthdays are even better as an adult! When you host a birthday party for yourself, the size and style of your party is entirely up to you, including your choice of food, fun, and even the cake flavor. That’s better than anything you had as a kid, right?
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Birthday parties are like road trips: getting there is half the fun. Deciding on the theme, decorations, and activities makes the days leading up to the event seem like part of the celebration itself. It needn’t be elaborate — your friends will be happy with a small party as long as they are made to feel special. However, even a simple party requires planning; the sooner you start organizing, the earlier the excitement begins and the fewer details you’ll have to work out on the day itself.
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Celebrate each birthday – the big ones like someone’s 1st and 16th and your own big birthdays. I love my birthday and my zodiac sign. It’s fun to know your zodiac sign, yout birthstones (the ones for Sagittarius are topaz, amethyst, ruby, sapphire, and turquoise) and celebrities that have the same birthday as you (mine is Stephen Spielberg).
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I was blessed of having great birthdays because of my children. It is a family tradition for us to celebrate big birthdays and a few years ago I celebrated mine- my 60th birthday! My best friend and daughter designed something extraordinary at the Armani restaurant in New York. It was incredibly special, as they had taken the time to create something memorable that was exactly what I would have wished for and more. All pictures in this article are from this wonderful birthday!
 
Each Birthday is my favourite birthday!
Do’s and don’ts, inspired by the fabulous party thrown by my best friend and daughter in New York
– Send great invitations. Even though technology has evolved, everyone appreciates a stunning invite to a party. Send a save the date six months before and the invitation 6 weeks before the party, so that everyone that will have to travel can be there.
– Don’t forget the importance of doing things that have sentimental value: my daughter wore a dress, shoes and jewelry that I used to wear 30 years ago
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–  Always keep birthday calendar – although facebook is very helpful as it announces birthdays each day
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– Have a great photographer to capture every moment. At my party,  the wonderful Philippe Cheng took beautiful pictures of everything
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– Design the menu- know what your guests like and don’t forget to offer many options for your vegan and vegetarian friends
– The cake:
We all know it isn’t a party without a frosted mound of sugary goodness lit with candles. When you’re a whole year older, isn’t your birthday resolution to try something new? How about a red velvet cske, a pistachio cake, brownie sundae ice cake, or a light-as-air “cloud” cake! Today, so many wonderful pastry chefs personalise cakes with so many interesting things. Mine was black and white, themed “New York and Athens” and created by the wonderful Philippe Cheng

– Select a great place. My party took place at the Armani ristorante, which I absolutely love!
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– Themes are very important and create a great atmosphere. As I love black and white, mine was black and white glamour
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– Send thank you notes at the end to let your friends know how much you appreciated their presence
-It’s all about the guestlist. Invite people you love, business associates and people that know how to have a good time
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-If your party is at home make sure to send a gift to the neighbours (sentimental value gifts). Everything is about the idea and the thought behind, it, not the gift. its showing someone you know them and want them to be happy
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– Drinks are important for a good party! Try this cocktail dedicated to Sagittarians, which uses a base of Karlsson’s Gold Vodka, distilled from Swedish potatoes only once, yielding an earthy flavor. Add pepper, dill, tonic, and a hint of lime.
-Give out seasonal favours at the end. Mine was armani hot cocoa!
– Have treats for your guests to enjoy through the party. My party had a black and white candy bar
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– Dress attire: It’s important for people to know how to dress, especially when it’s a birthday party
 Once a month we’re going to post special birthday pictures and themes – Any excuse to celebrate!
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“Koulouri” of Thessaloniki

“Koulouri” is one of the most traditional and delicious Greek snacks. It is one of those things like a New York pretzel that awaken your fondest childhood memories. Although, it is considered to be an indulgence it is one of the healthiest sources of carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients. It is a circular bread with sesame seeds that is often enjoyed at breakfast with a selection of cheeses and jams.

Today our in-house chef Dora Aretaki is sharing with you her amazing “koulouri” recipe… Enjoy!

5 oz ( 150 gr ) bread flour
12 oz ( 350 gr ) all purpose flour
2 packs of dry yeast
1 1/4 tea spoon of salt
2 1/2 table spoons ( 35 gr )  of sugar
300 ml water

For the toping
Sesame seeds
2 table spoons sugar
400 ml water

Mix  the yeast with the water and let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes.
Add all the ingredients and mix with the dough hook , with slow circular movements for about 7 minutes.
Let the dough rest in a bowl covered with plastic film until it doubles in size.
Preheat the oven 380 F ( 200 C )
Cut the dough in 70 gr pieces ( about 12 )
Form each one in a ball
Knead each ball in a long roll and bring the two edges together to form a circle.
Dip them in a bowl with water – sugar  and then inside a plate with sesame.
Place them in rays that are lined with parchment paper.
Bake for about 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

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The Hammam Of Athens

Three years ago, “Hammam Baths” opened their doors in Athens, on Asomaton Street in the Thisio area of Athens – near Monastiraki square. Situated in a neighborhood of unique historic significance near the archaeological site of Kerameikos, the ancient agora and the Synagogue of Athens this hidden gem is one not to be missed by locals and visitors in Athens.

When entering this beautiful neoclassical building one comes across a space with a modern twist, but that wholly honors and respects its original roots. Anyone passing through those doors, will travel back in time. The building’s marble wash basins, marble beds and its imposing domed ceilings are the work of Turkish architect Ayøegül Özer, while the modernday pestemal towels, the takunya clogs, the loofa sponges, the kessa gloves and the soaps come directly from Turkey, Jordan, and Syria.

Last Saturday I visited this beautiful space for its signature treatment called “Ali-Mama Hammam”.

The ritual started with a 30 minute hammam session on a heated marble stone slab that included a rejuvenating steam bath and a deep exfoliating scrub. A full-body massage with natural olive-oil soap followed and ended with a kafa, a hair wash and energizing head massage.  The duration of the treatment was 90 minutes. There are a lot of additional services that can be included according to your individual needs and wants; for example the special anti-cellulite therapy (Selülite Karsi) and traditional thread hair removal. At the end, of the 90 minute treatment, you are invited into the Hammam relaxation room where you are greeted with an assortment of teas and traditional “loukoumi” Turkish delight. What a perfect end to a perfect experience.

I recommend that you treat yourself to this little slice of heaven after a long days work or on a day off. The Hammam operates daily until 10pm.

TIPS:

  • Try and visit the Hammam in the late hours so as to make sure that you will enjoy the serenity of the space without distractions!
  • Avoid special holidays, such as Valentine’s Day – that was a big mistake on my part last Saturday!
  • Take your own Havajanas as the wooden clogs that you will be given at the Hammam may be difficult for some to walk in – they were definitely impossible for me!

Most important tip for life; Start treating yourself like the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. Pamper yourself,

I am sure you deserve it!

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From Nature with Love…

Where nature is…beauty abounds.

“Valsamohorto” in Greek translates literally to “relieving plant/ physically and mentally” the plant that “caressing the soul”. It is also known to the world by its Latin name “Hypericum perforatum” or “St. John’s wort, and is regarded as a wildflower that has healing properties.

Since ancient times, it has been known to effectively treat skin problems, heal wounds and finally strengthen the immune system. It was extensively used by the ancient Spartans to treat their battle wounds. Additionally, in Greece it is commonly used for banishing evil spirits according to religious traditions. In the Middle Ages it was also known to possess magical properties. My favorite of all of these remedies, is one made from the wildflowers found in the Taygetus mountains where I am from. My mother has perfected the cure called “Balsamolado” which literally translates to Healing Oil. It is a combination of St. John’s wort and extra virgin olive oil that gives you a red colored oil which cures all.

 

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