Thursday, September 3, 2015

Recipes: Preserving tomatoes

Just yesterday I was talking about preserving the gifts of summer, and here I am with a roundup of tomato recipes that have caught my eye.

To say that this summer I have eaten my weight in fresh tomatoes would be a serious understatement. My parents have a ginormous garden in the country, and this year we have been blessed with the biggest tomato harvest anyone of us can remember. Over the past few months (just as I promised myself in June), I've eaten my way through 50 shades of Caprese. I baked tomatoes with salmon. I made homemade pizza with them. I ate them plain, with honey-mustard vinaigrette, or cooked in ratatouille. Yet somehow, I still can't seem to find the bottom of my tomato basket. No complaining here, but I would really be sad to see them go to waste, if I'm not quick enough.

Lucky thing, I always have my trusted friend Pinterest nearby, to help me come up with ideas on how to can and preserve my favorite summer produce for the upcoming fall and winter months. These are the ideas tempting me the most:

Image via Completely Delicious

A simple, but flavorful combination of fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and fresh Italian herbs. It would make a perfect addition to any pasta dish, or even as a dipping sauce for fried or baked Mozzarella sticks - my favorite! (via Completely Delicious)

Image via My Kitchen Affair

I have to admit that I'm cheating a little bit here - I've already made several jars of this jam, and let me tell you, it's a wonder! I would never have thought of pairing tomatoes and peaches together in a jam, but this marriage is surprisingly harmonious and flavorful. So much so, that I've been eating this with a spoon straight from the jar, Nutella-style. A must! (via My Kitchen Affair)

Image via Eat Boutique

We all know that tomato and basil go together like Harry and Sally. I should know best: if I'm cooking or baking something with tomatoes, my basil plant is usually not that far from the stove. But I've yet to make a tomato-basil jam. This recipe is simple and straightforward, and I'm already planning to give it a try over the weekend. (via Eat Boutique)

Image via Clara Persis

Clara's blog is one of my most trusted resources when it comes to delicious and easy recipes. The girl can do no wrong in my book, and when she says that this is the perfect Marinara recipe, I'm bound to give it a whirl. I'm thinking of skipping the canning part here, and freezing individual portions instead - they'd be perfect for all the pizza and pasta making that's going to happen in my kitchen as soon as the colder months hit. (via Clara Persis)

Image via Live Simply

Growing up, we never had store-bought bottled ketchup lounging around the fridge. Both my mom and my grandma made their own homemade versions, so we were usually pretty well stocked with this favorite condiment, I'm thinking of renewing the tradition, and trying my hand at making an artifical-sugar-and-crazy-preservatives-free ketchup this year. (via Live Simply)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Words to live by: September 2015

Images via: Mondlur // Flickr // Ultralinx // Foodie Crush

Tie up the loose ends around my apartment. As anyone who has ever renovated and decorated an apartment knows, it's a never ending process. The funny thing is, it was actually pretty straightforward to have my home completely stripped down to its bones, and then rewired, replastered, repainted and filled with big furniture items (ie kitchen cabinets, bed, couch or wardrobe). It's the little things and tasks that take up much more time and energy to get done. Case in point? It took me almost a month to find the perfect laundry basket. for my bathroom. Ridiculous? Probably. My point is, that when it comes to smaller tasks, my motivation isn't at its best, and my procrastinating self often comes out to play. But I think I've had enough of this. I'm sort of tired of looking at unfinished things.

A wise friend once told me: "when in doubt, make a list", and that's precisely what I'm going to do. I'm going to take a tour of my apartment, make a comprehensive list of all the things that need to be taken care of and then I'm going to work my way through this list and cross the tasks one by one. Fingers crossed!

Write. As in, with actual pen and paper. Writing has always been a huge part of my well being. Writing this blog, for example. Or keeping a journal. Jotting down all the little things that make me happy or make me think every day. Keeping a running log of inspiring ideas, notes and quotes. Keeping a book journal. You name it, I've probably tried it.

But recently, I have come to realize that I'm unable to write anything on my computer without getting instantly distracted by my email or social media. And the truth is, I spend so much time behind the computer at work, that the last thing I want to do is get back home, sit down and stare at yet another glowing screen. I've been feeling really stuck when it comes to blogging lately. It's not that I lack ideas or inspiration. Quite the contrary. It's the execution - the act of typing a new post that has proven to be the real pain.

That's why I've come up with a little challenge: I'm going to ditch the computer, and write the first drafts by hand. Jot down all the thoughts and ideas as they come to my mind, not bothering to edit them immediately. Have any of you ever tried this? I'm pretty curious to see what'll come out of it.

Focus. As I was working on my words for September, this one kept creeping up to my mind over and over again. It seems that my mind and my thoughts have been scattered all over the place lately, and my work, my productivity, even my relationships have all been affected by it. I had a sort of wake up call a few weeks back. I was having a conversation with someone I care about very much, and I literally missed his invitation for a coffee date, because my mind was already sorting through all the tasks waiting for me in the office. It made me feel so stupid!

Do you ever feel like the multitasking is the bane of our existence? Like we've become so accustomed to doing several things at the same time, that even in our downtime we think it's ok to read a book while watching the news on TV, sending out text messages and having a conversation with our parents? #guiltyascharged

There are hundreds of things I could do better, if only I was able to focus on them properly. Do you ever struggle with the same problem? Would you mind sharing any tips that help you stay present, enjoy the moment and focus on one task at hand? I would be so very grateful!

PreserveThere's no denying it, the summer is slowly but surely coming to a close, and that sadly means saying goodbye to all the delicious fresh summer produce. I'm not quite ready to see all those ripe tomatoes, peaches & co. go. I like to think of canning as preserving a little bit of sunshine for the upcoming fall and winter. And that's why I've already stocked up on piles of canning jars, and I've been stalking my mom to make her spill her best and most favorite canning recipes. I've already been experimenting with some of them, and I'll be sure to report on my results, but I'd also love to know: do you have any favorite canning recipes? Any flavor combinations that I shouldn't miss? Be sure to let me know in the comments - I'm determined to make the most of summer produce while it lasts!

Here's to a lovely September!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Real talk: Welcome back to Macarons and Pearls

Image by Carin Olsson, via Gary Pepper Girl

Well, hello there! I know that things have been awfully quiet around here for the past few months. I can't say that it was planned, but it really was necessary. Why don't you let me back up just a little?

When I first started this blog more than four years ago, I was in a dramatically different situation. I was freshly graduated, jobless and consumed with worry about what would I become when I grew up. I needed something that would help me take my mind off of my situation, a creative outlet where I could just try and share things that inspired me, challenged me in a positive way and made me happy.

But Macarons and Pearls has become so much more than just a simple creative outlet! It has made me grow as a person, it has allowed me to discover a whole new and inspiring world, and it helped me maintain my sanity through some of the most difficult times of my life. It accompanied my journey from Paris to Brussels, to Paris again, then to Graz and finally back to Slovakia where I was finally able to settle down, much to my own (and everyone else's) surprise. It has seen me evolve from a fairly naive graduate to an unwilling "housewife", up to the moment when I joined the family business and finally reached the point where I'm really happy and content with my life and career as is.

But just as I was becoming more and more confident in my career choices and capabilities, this blog has unfortunately gotten on a back burner, Truth is, this space has never been a constant source of income to me, and although I enjoyed coming up with ideas, creating posts and connecting with other like-minded women all over the world, there were times when it felt more of a burden. I couldn't find the energy and the motivation necessary to keeping up with daily blogging. My day job has proven to be very time and energy consuming (as anyone who ever attempted at running a small business could attest, it really is a never ending thing), and there were times when the last thing I wanted to do after a 10-hour shift in the office was to come home, sit back behind my computer and create something unique, original and then spread it all over the social media. I simply couldn't muster the courage, So I slowly but surely slipped away from blogland, focused on my life and work primarily and decided that I would just let things fall in their rightful place.

I'll be honest with you. For quite some time I even debated closing this space altogether, and moving on to something else. But somehow, I couldn't bring myself up to writing that one last post. I wanted to keep all my options. And I'm so happy that I did! Because as I slowly but surely got my life offline in order (well, almost, but that's a different story), I also began missing writing terribly. I found myself jotting down ideas and inspirations for future posts, just in case. I began reading blogs again. And I was constantly brainstorming ways to reconcile all the facets of my personality: businesswoman, daughter, friend, blogger...

So here I am again, itching to fill this blank space with inspiring words and images. I'm not going to promise you any miracles. As much as I'd love to produce original and unique content on a daily basis, I know it won't always be possible. I don't want to chase the numbers and obsess over my stats. And I most definitely don't want to spend the little free time I have on social media, pushing my content on anyone who would listen.

What I want is for this blog to be a place for you and me to escape the day-to-day grind and hustle. A place where we can get inspired, entertained but also challenged to try new things and think about things more serious than just the latest shade of nail polish. I want this to be a place to boost our creativity and self-esteem.

I want to get back to basics. Blog about things that I'm interested in and passionate about. Things that make me happy, but also things that make me sad, thoughtful or angry. And I want to do it on my own schedule. I would love if you could join me on this journey.

Welcome back to Macarons and Pearls, and thank you so much for reading!

Happy September!

PS: You may have noticed a few small changes around here. I was originally planning to migrate the entire blog to a whole new destination, but it has proven to be too much of a trouble, and ultimately I couldn't really see the point. So I focused on what's most important instead: the content. For the past few weeks I went through all my archives, purged them some, and then I organized and labeled each and every post anew. You can now access them all in a drop down menu just under the header.

You can also poke around the brand new Macarons and Pearls boutique, where you'll find my favorite weekly finds in fashion, style, beauty, decor and everything in between.

I have also updated my About and Contact pages, so if you have any question, inquiry or request, don't hesitate to drop me an email. I'll be happy to get back to you as soon as I can.

Once again, thank you so much for stopping by! Enjoy the new Macarons and Pearls!

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