I had heard of the term ‘narcissistic’ but never really felt its real meaning until recently. I was reading an article and it kind of got me all worked up! Why? Because it resonated with me on an innate level. I remember getting quite emotional and later…much later, when I kind of came to terms with it, I researched more on it and after a lot of self-search, analysis, and reflection I realised something that I hadn’t considered before!
I came to the realisation that I actually had loads of narcissistic people all around me, carefully hidden, all under the radar. It didn’t just start with most of my exes, but it carried on to the pretty much everyday people around me too. People who you would think were supposed to “be there“ for you; well-meaning or looking out for you, but in reality, were manipulators and totally narcissistic!
One only realises the term “narcissistic” after having experienced it personally!
If only I could have recognised the signs, I would have saved myself years of pain, guilt, …… Read the entire article
All of us react differently and have imaginative ways of doing things which is pretty similar to parenting as well. There is no best or worst way to deal with young, growing adults but sometimes experiences give you an unknown wisdom; a know-how which could help you and others in the long run. A single tried and tested way would probably not solve all problems because we are dealing with different characters, ages and circumstances. Being a single parent myself with kids aged from 5 to 14 and 17, I can assure you that I have had my share of ups and downs like so many parents out there! But looking back hindsight at certain situations, I have begun to understand that there are a few things that I could have been handled better, knowing what I know now!
It goes without saying that when a child is going through a temper tantrum, worse still when it happens to be in public…there you are stumped as a parent, probably feeling horrible and guilty, not to mention embarrassed with all the hot stares glaring at you, unmistakably giving you this feeling of being “The worst parent with a terribly raised child!” At these times, I concur that all bets are out of the window and you do what you can to survive, which might be dropping everything, to run out with your child or even bribing them with something just to get them to quieten down. Worst case scenario… (I hope nobody has to endeavour!) is when you feel the need to yell…which we know we shouldn’t and mustn’t have to resort to!
With that said, I am hoping these little tips I will be sharing may help you understand your kids better (if ever possible :)!), to cope/react better or to at least try with your dignity intact!
So here goes:
Put yourself in your child’s shoes
Understand that children get stressed too with circumstances around them that you might have over-looked! When both of you have cooled down…try to sit them down and ask them questions which might help you understand why they are behaving/feeling the way they are. This will not only calm them but also reassure them (and you), that you care and are looking out for them!
2. Use the famous “Time-Out” if you need to
Make sure to make it age-appropriate; the general rule is one minute per year of your child’s age. So, a 2-year-old would get two minutes of time-out while a 5-year-old would get five minutes!
Create a time-out chair or space, such as the “thinking chair” or the “quiet zone.” Just make sure the area is neutral and boring, away from the distractions of other siblings, television, toys, or objects they could use to irritate you!
3. Grow with your child
There will always be the famous “Generation gap”, but you can help decrease it by keeping up with the times they are living in. I have sit downs and lots of casual chats with my eldest on the music he listens to and our favorite artists and the reasoning behind it. Agreed some of their music choices might sound very alien to you but hey we are trying to be part of the HIP crowd ;)! Try to find out more on the books, games, social media… topics they and their friends are currently talking about. This also gives you an insight into what they are up to without being too inquisitive!
4. They need some space too
Like I explained before, kids these days are exposed to so much more around them then we ever were. Computers, smart phones, technology can get very tiring and cumbersome. Isn’t it tiring for you? So you understand why it could be for them as well! Give them some space to reflect, calm down, and just hang with nothing to do. As parents we love to encourage our children to do various extra-curricular activities; sports, music, dancing, hobbies, which is all fine and good, but that must be followed up with relaxation too. Hence some space to rewind wouldn’t hurt.
5. Encourage but don’t push…
Being quite ambitious myself, I have had a few scenarios where I have been cross with my kids because their scores weren’t top notch or sometimes because they didn’t score that goal that I thought was theirs for the take! Thankfully, I have realized that those weren’t the best approach and learnt to never make the mistake of projecting my wants onto them. Kids are sensitive but hardy and they know when something motivates them or when it doesn’t. Communication should be a 2-way street here and try to work/resolve it out together with them. Remember we are there to support and guide them along the way, throwing in loads of love and compassion!
6. Let them decide when they are full…
As a child I was pretty much forced to eat everything on my plate. I understand that this was because our parents were taught not to waste food and they told us about the horror stories of starving children to get us to eat up! This might be true but who is best to judge when one is full? We know when we are full and guess what…so do your kids! Of course if they are not eating healthy or you suspect that they might be suffering from Bulimia, Anorexia or other eating disorders then you need to talk it out with them and maybe even consider seeking medical help.
7. Don’t “punish” but discipline them correctly with constant feedback
I always hated the word “punishment”; I swear it felt like I was some prisoner being lead to the gallowsJ! On a serious note though, discipline your child in a rational way, which means talking to them with a more serious tone and body language and proceeding to enforce better rules for the next time. A part of disciplining them is also praising them for a job well done or simply noticing and rewarding them for at least giving it a try! “Praise works wonders” and I can swear by this. Who doesn’t like receiving compliments or being recognised for a job well done?
8. Let them explain their situation
Kids will always get into trouble; we just hope that these might be little issues and not difficult ones! That is nature’s way of helping them grow, realise and learn from mistakes. Sure we are there to guide and advice along the way! When faced with such a situation, give them the chance to explain what happened and how they landed in that situation. Stand by them and support them in right or wrong, that was a given responsibility to you the day they were born! The least you can do is hear them out without already passing judgement!
9. Let them know how you feel
Open up to them and tell them how you feel. I communicate when I feel sad, or happy or even angry about certain situations. This creates a sort of bonding and you can be sure that this opens the door to them also communicating back to you when they need to. These emotional exchanges only serve to strengthen the relationship you share with your little one.
10. Never raise your hand
There is no need for it! Physical pain has and never will correct behaviour patterns. Kindness, compassion, love and good communication will however. They are your children, young adults deserving respect like each and every being on this planet does! If you ever reach that point where you think of resorting to it, let the alarm bells ring and step out of that situation. Go for a walk, let someone else temporarily talk to them, give them a time-out…anything till you can calm down and have some time to reflect on the situation at hand. Then go in with logic, common-sense and compassion and talk it through. The guilt of hitting or harming an innocent being is an impossible thing to bear and should never be condoned!
11. Even us-parents make mistakes
None of us are without fault; we are human and we can mistakes too. Let them know when you have made a mistake and apologise for it. Kids learn through example and doing. Set the correct wheel in motion!
12. Be you!
Remember the saying: “We become our parents”…Well, keep that in mind and don’t forget to be you! Our parents had their ways of dealing with us, another generation, another mind-set! You are here, now, so live with your time and the person you have become.
13. Keep learning and growing as a parent…become your child’s “Role-Model”
I am still learning every day on how I can grow and be a better parent to my lovelies. They are tomorrow’s adults and I want to make sure I am / become the best role-model they will ever need. The way you live your life will reflect back on them. I ask them for advice too, and I involve them in conversations which might impact them. They need to feel responsibility and empathy, which stems from their involvement in your daily life. Encourage, love and support them and always keep growing…
Hello Laurence, it is such a pleasure and honour to have you speak with me today! You have over 17 years in the chocolate industry…Truly amazing! Could you tell us some more about you, the woman behind all this knowledge and experience?
Hello, nice to meet you. Indeed, I am passionate about chocolate. As a kid, I was a fan of my Cote d’Or, as a student I started to discover the world of the candy-bar, when I finished my university, what a dream……Mars employed me on the campus. I worked there for 3 years understanding the world of multinationals and chocolate.
I then moved to Levi’s and travelled a lot. After years, my passion for chocolate came back and I got the dream job @ Godiva Chocolates. I was in charge of Marketing, the Retail design and then the entire innovation internationally.
I realised how much the Belgian savoir-faire was highly respected and recognised around the world. I then thought about how important it was to continue to claim our savoir-faire.
Your experience is overwhelming considering the various fields you have worked in, to mention a few: Accessory, Fashion, Sport, Education….Which one of these fields spoke to you the most and why?
I love fashion as it’s a continuous innovation process. You need to reinvent all the time and make people feel good in what they wear.
I love sport as it’s a must to live and to feel good and more importantly experience nature.
I love chocolate as it’s the best indulgence in life and then finally what’s best to pass legacy and educate people on what you love.
Which project has been the most difficult for you in your entire career?
On the 30 years of my career, there have been several.
Probably, the most recent one was the celebration of the 90th anniversary of Godiva in February 2016, where I organised an event with 150 journalists from all around the world. This event happened between the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015 and the one in March 2016 in Brussels.
The level of stress was very high at our event, with everybody thinking that an attack might occur while we organised a week of events for these very important journalists.
You also were the winner of the 2013 Belgian Business Manager Trends Woman Award! That is a prestigious title to have! What were your feelings when they announced you as the winner?
I felt so thrilled as I had no idea I would win. It was a tough process to get there but when they call you on stage, I felt so proud……..amazing experience!
You are the founder of “Art of Chocolate”. Tell us about your journey in getting this huge project started?
It was a natural journey…after 17 years in chocolate, passionate about it, convinced that we have major talents in Belgium on the matter, I thought it was a must to share this savoir-faire worldwide.
I talked about my academy with highly respected people in the industry, to teach everything about chocolate from the bean to the consumer experience, to buying chocolate. They followed me on my thinking and supported me in the adventure.
Has “Chocolate” changed your life, because I know that the masterclasses you offer, do train and change other people’s lives?
Yes it did. I saw so many things in life but the most amazing thing is to see every smile on each face when people taste chocolate, not only chocolate but good chocolate. The nice thing is to keep contact with the participants after they pass by our masterclasses and see how they applied their learning.
One opened a chocolate shop in Ghana, another one launched a food truck ‘bean to bar’, and another one re-merchandised his entire store….so many nice stories!
I am so curious together with all my readers, to know more about your masterclasses. Could you tell us some more on that?
In the heart of Brussels, ‘Art of Chocolate’ delivers dynamic masterclasses aimed at chocolatiers, chocolate entrepreneurs, chocolate professionals in any field or anyone with a passion for chocolate from anywhere in the world, and interested in learning from the best to take their chocolate skills to a new level.
The philosophy is to
cover all the steps from the bean to the consumer experience and cover the
Our interactive masterclasses are centred around the following themes:
The chocolate making process for starting chocolatiers
Advanced chocolate making – Bean to bar
Sensory – Creating innovative, premium products
Building a successful chocolate business through developing rich customer experience
Please share with us some of your expertise in building a strong, coherent team and its impact on one’s business!
People are the base of everything if you want to succeed in business! It is crucial to have people with the same passion, respect and vision. With “Art of Chocolate”, I only met fully passioned, talented people who are ready to share their knowledge with others.
Everybody respects each other for
their competency and the way they complement each other towards one same goal
to train about the Belgian chocolate savoir-faire.
I replicated a recipe that I used during the last 30 years with the large numbers of teams I have had to manage.
Have there been other role-models that you have looked up to, or that have influenced you in some way?
There have been many people who had a real impact on my life. From a famous side, it goes from Mandela to Madonna to MèreThérésa (Mother Teresa) to Arétha Franklin to Simone Veil to Jorge Donn to Stromae to finally some amazing chocolatiers such as Laurent Gerbaud, Pierre Marcolini, Jean-Christophe Hubert from Milenisme, Patrick Roger, Stephane Leroux and many others for their beliefs and passion!
Then on my career side, with 23 different bosses, you have some who really show you the paths and those who you really don’t want to be like, and you learn a lot from that too.
What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
I wouldn’t say enough, have the passion for what you do, believe in what you do with concrete facts to validate your idea and be honest to admit the skills you miss and surround yourself with others who have those skills, to allow you to shine in your best qualities.
You must have a very busy schedule. What does a normal workday look like to you?
After a good breakfast….. it goes from managing the social network to recruiting participants; having to contact them to understand their real motivation. To develop new courses with teachers and to meet people for consultancy jobs, to organise sessions and prepare all the material.
Days go fast…..I constantly meet new fascinating people with the same passion for food and more especially for Chocolate.
The other day, I met an incredibly passionate ‘perfume’ guy, who was developing the best perfumes you would have never smelled before, in his garage in Brussels .
What do you do in your free time, and how do you manage to make time for it?
After having been in corporation for 30 years moving to Independent is a challenge! I want to be outside all the time but so much to do ……..I spend time with my 2 kids (or they do with me as they become older😊) and party with my friends.
I walk a lot, bike a lot , play golf and travel when I can to discover new things.
What is next for you…your next big project?
I have seven sessions to organise from now till end October. 3 very exciting confidential consulting missions in the chocolate business and I am preparing the whole schedule for 2020 with new, exciting modules.
So, are you a gadget lover like me ;)? I can never get enough of trying out new technology to see if it actually works! I must say that the items listed below are my “Quirkiest” gadgets, which you might want but not necessarily need… Having said that, they do look good on your counter-top or your kitchen-island and ‘yes‘ they do work! So have a look and see if any of these were ‘missing’ from your daily ife and just have fun with it!
I love ‘Retro’ stuff and guess what…it’s IN right now! If you are a big “Hot-Dog” fan, then this one is all for you. It also comes in an “Aqua” shade which is just as adorable. A real ‘show-stealer‘! Some more reasons to indulge in this cute, nostalgic toaster:
Cooks two regular-size or extra-plump hot dogs at a time
Haven’t we all been through stuff spilling over, which we just hate! I am famous for letting milk spill, especially when I try my hand at making some “Indian Chai!” But, now that’s a thing of the past :), with this ‘Spill Stopper‘. I think this is really handy to have in the kitchen and it comes in an array of different colours! Some more reasons why you could consider this:
Another adorable little personalised item! Imagine decorating your cookies with your logo or you name, or whatsoever you see fit! This one will get your guests talking about it for sure, not to mention talking about how tasty those cookies you served them are! Some more details on this product:
Personalized embossing cookie stamp, embossing rolling pin alternative
For one stamp
Made from solid beech wood
The stamp measures 2” in diameter, 5” tall including the handle
The stamp is to be cleaned dry with a brush, then washed with cold water and dryed before the next using
Cookie stamps can be customized with an image of your choice, your name, logo etc.
Love this one! It turns your cheap cuts into succulent, mouth-watering steaks. 48 needles, crafted of stainless steel, plunge down into your cuts and tenderize every impact area all at the same time. Handy buy which lasts a lifetime. Go for this one! Some more details:
The Rollie is an electric egg cooker that basically makes tube-shaped omelettes. Just beat your eggs, drop them in the Rollie, turn it on, and you’ll have perfectly shaped eggs for your next breakfast burrito!
Revolutionary cooking system lets you enjoy egg treats like never before
Prepare eggs, omelets, frittatas and more in just 2 easy steps
Unique, patented design cooks healthy and delicious eggs without the use of pots or pans
Easy to use and clean with a durable non-stick cooking chamber
Each unit comes with a cleaning brush, 5 wooden skewers, food packaging accessory, and a user manual with 25 recipes
Building up towards “International Chocolate Day” on September 13, I decided to pen a few articles around this unique ‘flavouring ingredient’! Originally considered a gift from the God of Wisdom – Quetzalcoatl, once used as currency, also thought of to be more precious than gold and a delight only to be partaken by higher-ups or royalty…makes one think that there must be more to it that just a dessert! So I started researching on it and it is with pleasure that I share my findings with you on this dark-hued pod!
Chocolate dates back to 450 BC in Mesoamerica. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of the god of wisdom – Quetzalcoatl and were of so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter liquid, mixed with spices or corn puree. It was believed to be an aphrodisiac and to give the drinker strength! The word “chocolate” is derived from the Classical Nahuatl /Aztec word “chocolātl“.
“Rumor has it that the 16th-century Aztec emperor Montezuma drank three gallons of chocolate a day to increase his libido! “
The Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations found chocolate to be an invigorating drink, mood enhancer and aphrodisiac, which led them to believe that it possessed mystical and spiritual qualities.The Mayans worshipped a god of cacao and reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests and nobles at sacred ceremonies.
Chocolate remained an aristocratic nectar until Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes Van Houten invented the cocoa press in 1828, which revolutionized chocolate-making. The cocoa press could squeeze the fatty cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be pulverized into a fine powder, that could be mixed with liquids and other ingredients, poured into molds and solidified into edible, easily digestible chocolate. The innovation by Van Houten ushered in the modern era of chocolate by enabling it to be used as a confectionary ingredient, and the resulting drop in production costs made chocolate affordable to the masses.
The Chemistry Of Chocolate 
Think chocolate can give you a high? Well…
For starters, the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world is found in chocolate [source: Fackelmann]. The compound 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine — better known as caffeine produces a stimulating physiological effect by exciting the central nervous system, which, in turn, increases heart rate and contracts muscles. Caffeine acts on dopamine and adenosine receptors in the brain, which then release their respective pleasure-producing chemicals.
Another compound that’s closely related to the active ingredient in marijuana (tetrahydrocannabinol-9) is also found in chocolate. When cannabinoids hit the CB1 and CB2 receptors (found most predominantly in the frontal cortex and the parts of the brain responsible for motor function and memory), a person starts to feel intoxicated and relaxed as a result [source: Medscape].
Chocolate also packs in another surprise…Phenylethylamine which is often called the “love drug,” since it releases the same chemicals that are introduced into the human body when love comes calling [source: Millward]. The compound produces a similar effect to the one produced by amphetamines, and is classified as a hallucinogen!
The Benefits Of Chocolate
Dark chocolate has a wealth of health benefits. Listed below are only some of them:
Chocolate helps combat excess free radicals given its high antioxidant content. Rich in flavonoids, it helps prevent premature aging of cells. It can also be used as a facial and body mask.
Chocolate is a
stimulant that gives us an energy boost when we need it. This is essential to
feel full of vitality throughout the day!
can improve eyesight due to its flavonoid
content, which improves blood flow to the brain and the retina.
Chocolate contains a chemical called anandamide which improves our mood and overall state of mind, reducing the chances of depression. In addition, eating this food stimulates serotonin production in the brain, which helps us to feel happier, and prevents us from feeling anxious, moody or stressed.
Types Of Chocolate 
Chocolate should be consumed in its purest possible state, without mixing it with milk and large amounts of added sugar, for it to be considered healthy and non-fattening. This is because milk and sugar add fat. The cocoa itself is not fattening. Dark chocolate is the best choice, as it is the purest form and provides the most health benefits. It goes without saying that chocolate and other similar products should always be consumed in moderation.
This must contain
a minimum of 50% of cocoa paste to be considered dark, giving it quite a
bitter taste. This chocolate is richer in the properties listed in the first
section of the article, like antioxidants.
It is usually
eaten more, especially by children, since it is sweeter. The proportion of
cocoa is below 40%, though it can contain up to 50% in gourmet
confections. Milk does provide calcium, but the chocolate itself is less pure
so it provides less benefits overall, and it is more fattening than dark
This type contains at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, 3.5% milk fat and up to 55% sugar or other sweeteners. This mixture is made with cocoa butter instead of solids, so it acquires a yellow hue together with the milk powder and sugar. Bad quality white chocolates are completely white instead of yellow, as they do not have any cocoa butter at all.
Coming back to our present times, roughly two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa, with Ivory Coast being the largest source, producing a total crop of 1,448,992 tonnes. Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon are other West African countries among the top 5 cocoa producing countries in the world.
Chocolate is a delicacy that is now easily affordable and the number of professional chocolatiers around the world has risen beyond expectation.
‘ART OF CHOCOLATE’ MASTERCLASS
If you feel compelled to learn more about chocolate, there is an “Art of Chocolate” Professional Masterclass given by Industry experts in the heart of Brussels. You will experience the Belgian Chocolate Savoir-faire and learn from the best experts to acquire professional skills to create and sell premium chocolates.
They speak of a 4 key program with highly talented people from the industry, focusing mainly on: The art of perfecting, creating, making and selling of chocolate! They also offer tailored masterclasses dedicated to businesses and teams. Learn more: HERE
Look out for my next article on chocolate where I will chat with Laurence Koutny, founder of “Art of Chocolate” and Winner of the 2013 Belgian Business Manager Trends Woman Award!
I know how we all love our “Louboutins“! Some more than others… and I think I might be part of the guilty party! The thing is if you love shoes, please note I said love and not addicted :), then the newer the model, the better it is to show it off. But let’s be honest, we can’t possibly afford to have so many pairs, without buring a hole through our wallets!
So I decided to take on the challenge of trying to find the most similar and more economical versions of some of the trendiest shoes, stilettos and heels in particular! Don’t worry, I will also follow up with flats, sandals and other shoes, if time permits. So keep a look out for my future articles…you never know when my creativity peaks and I erupt out articles like this one :)!
Without further ado, here are some of the closest versions I found to the real thing. Fancy something? Well…then click on it, and it will take you to where you can purchase it economically ;)!
Welcome back to another one of my articles, this one all in the name of “fun”, not meaning to offend anyone or anything! Don’t we all just love browsing on Insta thinking ‘WOW’ most of the time and then suddenly you come across something so hideous…you don’t know if you should laugh or cry or maybe its just some kind of cruel, crazy prank, someone is playing on you!
I have been busy collecting some of these fashion “Faux Pas”, in the hope of making this entertaining read for you! Some of these ‘ideas’ defy logic and are simply impractical! I hope you have a good laugh like I did and concerning the people advertising these…WELL…they say ‘bad publicity is also publicity‘ (…Hahaha)!
So here goes…..have fun!
LOL…So btw this is supposed to be a shoe-bag! Please tell me they were kidding when they designed this “shoe on your back” thing! Maybe this is punishment if you bunk school, you get to carry this piece of work on your back? Who knows?
WHAT????…Need I say more! Are these different coloured Crab Claws? Like even her nail polish is chipped…this has to be a joke :)! Maybe I got this one wrong and this will be the next big thing?
🙂 Ladies…don’t we love glitter, but you agree that this is kinda overkill? I wonder if they are just stuck on…what happens if they fall into your food…would this be considered a choking hazard?
OK another nail one! Nice colours but…something’s wrong! The first two couldn’t possibly use a keyboard or a smartphone, I guess! Maybe they use it as a stylus? How do they manage to clean anything around them…like seriously LOL! No comment!
Ahem!…What are these even called? If you know, then please send me a message with its name! I seriosly think that this must be some kind of safety hazard, in the ‘Driving Law’ Rules and Regulations Booklet! Love the pink cat look…or is it ? 🙂
I love jewellry, especially rings, but this is what??? I mean like seriously, do the tassles go into your food, drinks, keyboard, etc… What about the normal things like writing, cooking or washing your hands…guess you either stay away from tasks like that or you don’t buy this!
Pretty as a picture, but….what happens when you open your eyes like the rest of us! 🙂 Maybe you can still see the details at the edge of your eye-lids, or you close your eyes again…just like in the pic and keep your nails close enough to show your attention to detail with the matching colours and all! Haha!
No comment here…I don’t want to offend…really! Hope they aren’t Swarovski!
Oh, this one had a video with it, showing the buckling of these “Cowboy thingies” on your pretty neat and normal ankle books! Maybe they add a bit of sparkle and a raunchy “Cowboy….sorry Cowgirl” look to it all!
Right! You better not eat, drink, kiss, nothing after you so nicely used all these lovely rainbow colours on your lips. Extremely artistic but…..! She started with 7-8 tubes of lipstick, quite handy carrying around 8 lipstick tubes with you everywhere, in your little handbag. I can’t find or mostly forget to carry even one tube… with great difficulty, imagine carrying around 8!
I saved the best for last…! Can somebody please tell me why this is considered trendy? It is repulsively disgusting! Maybe they love seafood? This probably was a joke gone wrong…!
That’s all folks for this round of “Trending but not trendy”! Hope to catch you around for the next one. Stay tuned and thanks for joining me :)! Take care…