In my previous blog post on how you can make the most of your time when stuck at home, I forgot to add that one of the options would be to cook a nice traditional pasta alla carbonara. Note the presence of the word traditional, as my people - the French - took the liberty of re-interpreting it in a more creative way by adding cream in (and making the Italians scream).

The carbonara is a typical Roman dish, which alongside the cacio e pepe and amatriciana may well be one of my favourite pasta recipes of all times. When in Rome, one restaurant, the trattoria Da Enzo in the Trastevere neighbourhood (Via dei Vascellari 29) if you want to live a great life experience. In the meantime, you can replicate the recipe in your own kitchen :)

Trattoria Da Enzo, Trastevere


INGREDIENTS


Here is what you need (the portions are for two people): 

  • 250 g of spaghetti or rigatoni 
  • 30 g of pecorino romano cheese
  • 2 yolks 
  • 70 g of guanciale meat
  • salt and pepper

Now, I know that the cheese or meat might be difficult to find in your local supermarket if you don’t live in Italy but strive to find these exact ingredients (e.g. pancetta is not the same as guanciale, grana padano is different from the roman pecorino). The secret is to only use the eggs yolks without the whites, and not add any additional ingredient (no cream or onion).

PREPARATION


Put some water to boil and pour the pasta in a saucepan. I personally prefer rigatoni to spaghetti for this recipe, but you do you. Keep in mind how long the pasta will cook for, as it should be ready at the same time as the guanciale. (My favourite is Rummo’s rigatoni, which cook 13-14 minutes al dente).

Cut the guanciale in small lardons and start cooking them in a pan on a low heat. No need to add oil or butter to cook it in; it will free its own fat as it gets crunchy (around 7-8 minutes).

In the meantime, mix the yolks with the pecorino cheese in a bowl. Then, add up to 40 g of water (I would recommend taking the water from the saucepan in which your pasta is cooking). It should now have a creamy consistency – add salt and pepper.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss it back into the warm saucepan (but out of the heat). Add the guanciale in (and its fat, important. Sorry not sorry for your diet) and mix it to the pasta. Then, add in the egg-based preparation into the saucepan so that it mixes up nicely with the rest. 

Serve your pasta onto your plate and add – if you like it – a bit of parmesan cheese and extra pepper. Now close your eyes, imagine a warm summer evening breeze and picture the Colosseum in the background. I think you’re practically in paradise.

Buon appetito :)

Recipe: Pasta alla Carbonara

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

,

In my previous blog post on how you can make the most of your time when stuck at home, I forgot to add that one of the options would be to cook a nice traditional pasta alla carbonara. Note the presence of the word traditional, as my people - the French - took the liberty of re-interpreting it in a more creative way by adding cream in (and making the Italians scream).

The carbonara is a typical Roman dish, which alongside the cacio e pepe and amatriciana may well be one of my favourite pasta recipes of all times. When in Rome, one restaurant, the trattoria Da Enzo in the Trastevere neighbourhood (Via dei Vascellari 29) if you want to live a great life experience. In the meantime, you can replicate the recipe in your own kitchen :)

Trattoria Da Enzo, Trastevere


INGREDIENTS


Here is what you need (the portions are for two people): 

  • 250 g of spaghetti or rigatoni 
  • 30 g of pecorino romano cheese
  • 2 yolks 
  • 70 g of guanciale meat
  • salt and pepper

Now, I know that the cheese or meat might be difficult to find in your local supermarket if you don’t live in Italy but strive to find these exact ingredients (e.g. pancetta is not the same as guanciale, grana padano is different from the roman pecorino). The secret is to only use the eggs yolks without the whites, and not add any additional ingredient (no cream or onion).

PREPARATION


Put some water to boil and pour the pasta in a saucepan. I personally prefer rigatoni to spaghetti for this recipe, but you do you. Keep in mind how long the pasta will cook for, as it should be ready at the same time as the guanciale. (My favourite is Rummo’s rigatoni, which cook 13-14 minutes al dente).

Cut the guanciale in small lardons and start cooking them in a pan on a low heat. No need to add oil or butter to cook it in; it will free its own fat as it gets crunchy (around 7-8 minutes).

In the meantime, mix the yolks with the pecorino cheese in a bowl. Then, add up to 40 g of water (I would recommend taking the water from the saucepan in which your pasta is cooking). It should now have a creamy consistency – add salt and pepper.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss it back into the warm saucepan (but out of the heat). Add the guanciale in (and its fat, important. Sorry not sorry for your diet) and mix it to the pasta. Then, add in the egg-based preparation into the saucepan so that it mixes up nicely with the rest. 

Serve your pasta onto your plate and add – if you like it – a bit of parmesan cheese and extra pepper. Now close your eyes, imagine a warm summer evening breeze and picture the Colosseum in the background. I think you’re practically in paradise.

Buon appetito :)


Here we are, most of us confined all around the world because of the coronavirus outbreak. If introverts are rejoicing and extroverts having panic attacks already, we all wish the situation to get back to normal as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we should stay safe at home. 

However, living at home 24/7 is not as easy as it sounds – it can be a real work/life balance struggle for those who are working from home, or a complete bore for others getting tired of binge-watching Netflix. Or maybe you already work from home on a daily basis and this doesn’t change your habits much. We’re also not all equal depending on where we live, if we live with a partner, family or alone, if we are stuck in a tiny flat or living la bella vita in the countryside with a huge garden where one can sunbathe during coffee breaks.

The main challenge I see when locked indoors is maintaining a good mental health and a high productivity level at work. Just like a lot of other people I’ve been in touch with since the beginning of the confinement, I’ve had fluctuating moods as to what I am feeling about all this. However, I am convinced that we can train our minds to be stronger and positive if we put some effort in (although it is okay if we are not so from Monday to Sunday). It’s all about perspective. Being forced to stay at home can be a source of opportunities. 

Here are some tips I have gathered to make the most of my time stuck at home. Not everyone is in the same boat but I hope they will be useful to some of you!


Set up the path to your productivity.

If you’re working from home, get dressed (and put some makeup on if you usually do). I don’t spend as much time as if I were truly going out of course, but it has proven its point. At the end of a week where I spent most of the time in my loungewear makeup free (as I thought it would make a real difference to my skin – it doesn’t), I was kind of not feeling it. I started a new week this way and so far, so good.

Create a routine and break it when necessary.

You will find comfort in getting your body and mind used to a certain routine every day, according to your natural rhythm. Wake up at a regular hour, whether it’s 7am or 10am. Make your caffè espresso or pour in your favourite green tea to kick off the day. (I don’t put my video on in online meetings taking place before 9.30am as I have developed a passion for eating buttered toasts while going through my emails and reading the press until this time since last week.) Apart from when my workload is substantial, I finish work at a regular hour to help my brain make a real difference between work and personal life day after day. When it comes to my evenings, I do different activities according to the day (have online aperitivi with friends, write, read a book, study for a course, watch Netflix, etc) so that I don’t fall into the daunting side of a routine. 

Set yourself a reasonable to-do list.

I love making lists for everything – that’s a fact – but making one to plan out my day enables me to witness my progress. Also, having small purposes makes me go through the day. Your phone's notes app is an excellent paper-free outlet to do so. The risk with making lists however is wrongly gauge the number of tasks or amount of time spent doing those tasks, which would end up making you feel overwhelmed. 

Workout. (I know.)

I was already bailing out of the gym right before the crisis; however, I recognise I feel much better when I exercise. I follow a 10mn abs, 5mn butt and squat workout sessions every other day, as well as a lot of stretching and yoga. It energises me and make the backpain due to stress or bad posture fade away. Apparently, it is much better to exercise a bit often than go for an intensive session once a week. Between a healthy diet - as we have more time to cook at the moment - and a bit of exercise, your summer body should be finally within reach. (You're also allowed not to give a damn about this last point.)

Disconnect.

I realised that, just like a lot of people, I was addict to my phone and the endless scrolling on Twitter to check the latest news. I can’t recall the amount of times when my brain unconsciously craved an instant of distraction and made have a peek at my Twitter or Instagram notifications, thus making me lose another 10 minutes of precious focus. Which led me to realise also how complicated it is to focus for real nowadays – in Netflix’s documentary on Bill Gates, I learnt that he would go and lock himself in a cabin for a whole week with no contact whatsoever to read, think and jot down his thoughts on paper (definitely mastering confinement). Not that we all have a cabin to hide away at, but we have the possibility to put our phone on mute and forget it in another room for 3-4 hours. I’ve been doing that whenever I really wish to focus or relax in the evening - not during standard working hours as I have to remain available at all times - and it has really helped since I don't see the word coronavirus 26 billion times a day.

Catch up with family and friends.

Whether it is via Messenger, FaceTime or another medium, keep in touch with your loved ones. As I live alone and that my family, boyfriend and best friends don’t live in Belgium, I’ve actually found the trick: have online lunch with different members of my family or friends every day. Lunch time is perfect for a break, as I might not want to spend two hours on the phone with several people after a long workday.

Buckle down what you've been postponing forever.

Deal with your unpaid invoices, finish the book that you liked but never turned all pages of, sort out your wardrobe. Or do something you never took the time to do, like thinking about your life (if you’re brave enough). You can also answer the Proust questionnaire if you've never done it - Vanity Fair covers questions here.

Take an online course.

As I am passionate about fields I haven’t technically studied at university (fashion and PR), I had been wondering I should not do something about it to gain further knowledge and get official recognition for it. Quite surprisingly, I found out that Kering Group and London College of Fashion made a 6-week course on sustainable fashion and the luxury industry available online on the first week of confinement here in Belgium. I clearly took it as an incentive to take the leap and jump! Any skill you would like to hone or specific information to dig into? Maybe there’s an online course for it. Incidentally, some universities around the world (including Ivy League) are offering free courses at the moment (check them out here). 

And you, what are you doing to make the most of the lockdown?
#andràtuttobene


Photos credits: Pinterest

Stuck at Home: How to Make the Most of your Time

Thursday, 26 March 2020



Here we are, most of us confined all around the world because of the coronavirus outbreak. If introverts are rejoicing and extroverts having panic attacks already, we all wish the situation to get back to normal as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we should stay safe at home. 

However, living at home 24/7 is not as easy as it sounds – it can be a real work/life balance struggle for those who are working from home, or a complete bore for others getting tired of binge-watching Netflix. Or maybe you already work from home on a daily basis and this doesn’t change your habits much. We’re also not all equal depending on where we live, if we live with a partner, family or alone, if we are stuck in a tiny flat or living la bella vita in the countryside with a huge garden where one can sunbathe during coffee breaks.

The main challenge I see when locked indoors is maintaining a good mental health and a high productivity level at work. Just like a lot of other people I’ve been in touch with since the beginning of the confinement, I’ve had fluctuating moods as to what I am feeling about all this. However, I am convinced that we can train our minds to be stronger and positive if we put some effort in (although it is okay if we are not so from Monday to Sunday). It’s all about perspective. Being forced to stay at home can be a source of opportunities. 

Here are some tips I have gathered to make the most of my time stuck at home. Not everyone is in the same boat but I hope they will be useful to some of you!


Set up the path to your productivity.

If you’re working from home, get dressed (and put some makeup on if you usually do). I don’t spend as much time as if I were truly going out of course, but it has proven its point. At the end of a week where I spent most of the time in my loungewear makeup free (as I thought it would make a real difference to my skin – it doesn’t), I was kind of not feeling it. I started a new week this way and so far, so good.

Create a routine and break it when necessary.

You will find comfort in getting your body and mind used to a certain routine every day, according to your natural rhythm. Wake up at a regular hour, whether it’s 7am or 10am. Make your caffè espresso or pour in your favourite green tea to kick off the day. (I don’t put my video on in online meetings taking place before 9.30am as I have developed a passion for eating buttered toasts while going through my emails and reading the press until this time since last week.) Apart from when my workload is substantial, I finish work at a regular hour to help my brain make a real difference between work and personal life day after day. When it comes to my evenings, I do different activities according to the day (have online aperitivi with friends, write, read a book, study for a course, watch Netflix, etc) so that I don’t fall into the daunting side of a routine. 

Set yourself a reasonable to-do list.

I love making lists for everything – that’s a fact – but making one to plan out my day enables me to witness my progress. Also, having small purposes makes me go through the day. Your phone's notes app is an excellent paper-free outlet to do so. The risk with making lists however is wrongly gauge the number of tasks or amount of time spent doing those tasks, which would end up making you feel overwhelmed. 

Workout. (I know.)

I was already bailing out of the gym right before the crisis; however, I recognise I feel much better when I exercise. I follow a 10mn abs, 5mn butt and squat workout sessions every other day, as well as a lot of stretching and yoga. It energises me and make the backpain due to stress or bad posture fade away. Apparently, it is much better to exercise a bit often than go for an intensive session once a week. Between a healthy diet - as we have more time to cook at the moment - and a bit of exercise, your summer body should be finally within reach. (You're also allowed not to give a damn about this last point.)

Disconnect.

I realised that, just like a lot of people, I was addict to my phone and the endless scrolling on Twitter to check the latest news. I can’t recall the amount of times when my brain unconsciously craved an instant of distraction and made have a peek at my Twitter or Instagram notifications, thus making me lose another 10 minutes of precious focus. Which led me to realise also how complicated it is to focus for real nowadays – in Netflix’s documentary on Bill Gates, I learnt that he would go and lock himself in a cabin for a whole week with no contact whatsoever to read, think and jot down his thoughts on paper (definitely mastering confinement). Not that we all have a cabin to hide away at, but we have the possibility to put our phone on mute and forget it in another room for 3-4 hours. I’ve been doing that whenever I really wish to focus or relax in the evening - not during standard working hours as I have to remain available at all times - and it has really helped since I don't see the word coronavirus 26 billion times a day.

Catch up with family and friends.

Whether it is via Messenger, FaceTime or another medium, keep in touch with your loved ones. As I live alone and that my family, boyfriend and best friends don’t live in Belgium, I’ve actually found the trick: have online lunch with different members of my family or friends every day. Lunch time is perfect for a break, as I might not want to spend two hours on the phone with several people after a long workday.

Buckle down what you've been postponing forever.

Deal with your unpaid invoices, finish the book that you liked but never turned all pages of, sort out your wardrobe. Or do something you never took the time to do, like thinking about your life (if you’re brave enough). You can also answer the Proust questionnaire if you've never done it - Vanity Fair covers questions here.

Take an online course.

As I am passionate about fields I haven’t technically studied at university (fashion and PR), I had been wondering I should not do something about it to gain further knowledge and get official recognition for it. Quite surprisingly, I found out that Kering Group and London College of Fashion made a 6-week course on sustainable fashion and the luxury industry available online on the first week of confinement here in Belgium. I clearly took it as an incentive to take the leap and jump! Any skill you would like to hone or specific information to dig into? Maybe there’s an online course for it. Incidentally, some universities around the world (including Ivy League) are offering free courses at the moment (check them out here). 

And you, what are you doing to make the most of the lockdown?
#andràtuttobene


Photos credits: Pinterest

I know, February is at our doorstep and I’m discussing books that I’ve read in 2019. The good thing is that not all of these books date back from this past year, so I would say this blog post is quite timeless. 

Reading more was one of my 2019 resolutions, and although I have not read as much as I wished to, I have taken the time to peruse many books along the year. Between novels, inspirational guides and fashion coffee table books, here are a few recommendations for you to start 2020.

THE CLASSIC

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

This novel reminded me why I loved Hemingway’s prose so much (in case you didn’t know, I have a Bachelor of Arts in English literature – not that you need to be graduated in that field to enjoy Hemingway but anyway). Set in the mid-1920s in Paris, France and Pamplona, Spain the storyline is quite original. Jake Barnes is in love with Lady Brett Ashley but they cannot maintain a relationship ‘because’ he was made impotent during the war (great and fair isn’t it). Jake loses numerous friendships and has his life repeatedly disrupted because of his loyalty to Brett, who has a destructive series of love affairs with other men although she loves Jake. The novel tackles – in the 1920s already – the topics of male insecurity, the destructiveness of superficial physical attraction, failure of communication and false friendships. Also, they drink all day and night and I am quite surprised they make it until the end of the novel. 


FASHION INDUSTRY & DIGITALISATION

The New Fashion Rules, Victoria Magrath

I’ve been wanting to expand my collection of fashion books, and not only for them to look good on my coffee table. This year in particular, I wish to get a deeper knowledge of the industry and while I spend more and more time perusing the shelves of the fashion section at libraries, I thought that the New Fashion Rules by the curator of Inthefrow.com could be a great addition. Why I found it so insightful? Because she retraces the story of digital retail and highlights the pivotal moments of the fashion world, including the rising of bloggers and influencers, from the early 1990s to now. How has fashion been integrating inclusivity along the years? What are the innovative brands which put forward the latest advancements in e-commerce that we take for granted today? Here you go. 

THE EMOTIONAL ONE

Nos Séparations, David Foenkinos

Apologies for non-French speakers if this novel is not available in other languages, which I am not sure is the case. ‘Our Separations’ tells the story of how a boy deeply in love with a girl and about to marry her screws up badly and, becoming a cheater, loses her and spends his life regretting it. They keep meeting each other at certain moments of their life with an ever-changing life situation. The novel is my favourite among the author’s other novels. The topic is extremely French, as you find yourself making fun out of a tragic situation.

ON FEMINISM

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay

This book was recommended to me a long time ago by a good friend of mine. This essay by Roxane Gay explores the concept of plurality of what feminism stands for to women. There’s not only one type of feminism (hence the term of ‘bad feminism’ for those criticised for not being in line with the traditional concept – who can be presumptuous enough to define clear lines anyway), and for one ultra-feminists shouldn’t criticise those taking gradual baby steps towards the cause. She praises it as an evolutive concept. Go and grab this book (and follow the author on twitter for spirit and laughs).

SELF HELP

The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F**k, Sarah Knight

I call it self-help because to stop caring about the stuff you shouldn’t care about is a game-changer. When you realise the amount of stress you create for yourself when you’re trying to please everyone or feeling obliged to do things you eventually don’t want to do, you actually can’t believe it. This book has received a looot of coverage and you’ve probably heard about it 20 times already but if you haven’t read it yet, I insist you do. The book is slightly extreme at times, but the message is right. Stop giving a fuck about stuff that is not worth it, and you will magically have extra time to do exactly what you want to do. Bye.

Along the best advice Sarah Knight could give me last year, I am kicking off 2020 catching up with a very popular (and already a must-read) book: Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’m only 50 pages in and I am already in love with the writing of this novel. Excellent ghost writer (as you can expect when you tell the life of the former POTUS wife and extremely inspirational woman). What about you, any reading you’d like to share?




2019 in Books

Monday, 27 January 2020


I know, February is at our doorstep and I’m discussing books that I’ve read in 2019. The good thing is that not all of these books date back from this past year, so I would say this blog post is quite timeless. 

Reading more was one of my 2019 resolutions, and although I have not read as much as I wished to, I have taken the time to peruse many books along the year. Between novels, inspirational guides and fashion coffee table books, here are a few recommendations for you to start 2020.

THE CLASSIC

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

This novel reminded me why I loved Hemingway’s prose so much (in case you didn’t know, I have a Bachelor of Arts in English literature – not that you need to be graduated in that field to enjoy Hemingway but anyway). Set in the mid-1920s in Paris, France and Pamplona, Spain the storyline is quite original. Jake Barnes is in love with Lady Brett Ashley but they cannot maintain a relationship ‘because’ he was made impotent during the war (great and fair isn’t it). Jake loses numerous friendships and has his life repeatedly disrupted because of his loyalty to Brett, who has a destructive series of love affairs with other men although she loves Jake. The novel tackles – in the 1920s already – the topics of male insecurity, the destructiveness of superficial physical attraction, failure of communication and false friendships. Also, they drink all day and night and I am quite surprised they make it until the end of the novel. 


FASHION INDUSTRY & DIGITALISATION

The New Fashion Rules, Victoria Magrath

I’ve been wanting to expand my collection of fashion books, and not only for them to look good on my coffee table. This year in particular, I wish to get a deeper knowledge of the industry and while I spend more and more time perusing the shelves of the fashion section at libraries, I thought that the New Fashion Rules by the curator of Inthefrow.com could be a great addition. Why I found it so insightful? Because she retraces the story of digital retail and highlights the pivotal moments of the fashion world, including the rising of bloggers and influencers, from the early 1990s to now. How has fashion been integrating inclusivity along the years? What are the innovative brands which put forward the latest advancements in e-commerce that we take for granted today? Here you go. 

THE EMOTIONAL ONE

Nos Séparations, David Foenkinos

Apologies for non-French speakers if this novel is not available in other languages, which I am not sure is the case. ‘Our Separations’ tells the story of how a boy deeply in love with a girl and about to marry her screws up badly and, becoming a cheater, loses her and spends his life regretting it. They keep meeting each other at certain moments of their life with an ever-changing life situation. The novel is my favourite among the author’s other novels. The topic is extremely French, as you find yourself making fun out of a tragic situation.

ON FEMINISM

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay

This book was recommended to me a long time ago by a good friend of mine. This essay by Roxane Gay explores the concept of plurality of what feminism stands for to women. There’s not only one type of feminism (hence the term of ‘bad feminism’ for those criticised for not being in line with the traditional concept – who can be presumptuous enough to define clear lines anyway), and for one ultra-feminists shouldn’t criticise those taking gradual baby steps towards the cause. She praises it as an evolutive concept. Go and grab this book (and follow the author on twitter for spirit and laughs).

SELF HELP

The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F**k, Sarah Knight

I call it self-help because to stop caring about the stuff you shouldn’t care about is a game-changer. When you realise the amount of stress you create for yourself when you’re trying to please everyone or feeling obliged to do things you eventually don’t want to do, you actually can’t believe it. This book has received a looot of coverage and you’ve probably heard about it 20 times already but if you haven’t read it yet, I insist you do. The book is slightly extreme at times, but the message is right. Stop giving a fuck about stuff that is not worth it, and you will magically have extra time to do exactly what you want to do. Bye.

Along the best advice Sarah Knight could give me last year, I am kicking off 2020 catching up with a very popular (and already a must-read) book: Becoming by Michelle Obama. I’m only 50 pages in and I am already in love with the writing of this novel. Excellent ghost writer (as you can expect when you tell the life of the former POTUS wife and extremely inspirational woman). What about you, any reading you’d like to share?




bonjour white