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All Natural

November 15th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Household | Karolina | Lifestyle | Shopping - (Comments Off)

It feels as though I have hibernated for most of my adult life and until recently been awaked to discover a whole new world.  It was not until after my firstborn came into this world, that I really started to think about being and staying healthy.  These days it’s more difficult getting your hands on healthy food and products, when there are too many choices on the shelves and the packaging / advertising is often misleading rather than informative.  Although the bio / organic movement has been around for a while, the Czech Republic had to go through its initial bouts of consumerism before people began to question the quality of the products that flooded the stores. 

Initially I thought that being healthy would only require exercising and eating healthy (little junk food -  OK, ok..I do occasionally slip-up on the sweets and junk), which is what I have been doing for the past 15 yrs. However, it didn’t really hit me until recently that the quality of the food I eat and the products I use make a big difference.  Focusing on the products, rather than food for the moment -I started researching cosmetic products trying to figure out what makes some products safer than others, when I came across a few handy websites that highlight the fact that many products contain preservatives and other chemicals that disturb our bodies one way or another (from being carcinogenic to disrupting our natural hormone levels).   

As I continued my research, I learned that there are many companies that produce and offer good quality natural cosmetics which omit the use of harmful chemicals – mainly omitting preservatives (parabens), petroleum products (PEGS), allergens, dyes, etc.  These companies offer products ranging from face/body/hair care to toothpaste, lip balms, deodorants, makeup and so on. 

In the Czech Republic you can purchase natural cosmetics via many different channels, one being the drogerie DM – where you will always find a natural cosmetics section that will offer brands like Weleda, Lavera, Alverde to name a few.  At DM you can also purchase natural/safer cleaning products which tend to be cheaper than your regular brands and better for your health.

Another great way is to check out a store called BIOOO.CZ, which is an online as well as a physical store that is located in the Kotva shopping center.  The benefit of going to the store is the fact that their sales staff is well trained and can help when you are not sure what to choose.  Here you can find a wide range of products from an array of brands that are represented here (even food for your pets!).   

Another good local option for body care is a Czech company Manufaktura that has excellent bath products for adults and children – and they make wonderful presents.

I know that avoiding chemicals in today’s world is simply impossible, but it feels good to make educated choices when purchasing products that we consume or apply onto our bodies.  With natural products it takes a few tries to find what works for you, and some time getting used to a different feel, consistency and smell than what you are used to, but I think it’s worth a try ;)

Happy shopping!

Introducing a fairly new website - Hello Czech Republic - launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here you can get information on living in or visiting the Czech Republic straight from the source.   The website is available in 6 different languages and provides you with accurate and up to date information on a number of different topics.

Our Daily Bread

February 1st, 2012 | Posted by admin in Food and Restaurants | Household | Lifestyle | Paul | Shopping - (Comments Off)

It might be just me, but one of the things that surprised me on my arrival in Prague, was that the Czechs seem to do bread really well. Now we all know the Czech Republic is world-renowned for its beer and should also be well known for its wine too, from what I’ve tasted, an opinion I’ve formed despite my undeveloped palate. But enough of wine and back to the bread. In the UK, bread is a bit of a sad affair; it’s usually bought in sliced loaf form and is usually white. Most Brits stock their freezers with slabs of this white ‘plastic’ mush and then get it out of the freezer let it defrost and make sandwiches with it. Seeing that the sandwich is an English invention, we pay little heed to the quality of the bread and fixate on the fillings. In the UK, content is king.
I always thought bread was the staple of the French, with their delicious baguettes, but the Czechs seem to do pretty well. While they don’t seem to have too many bakeries, at least in Metropolitan Prague, the supermarkets seem to hold their own; a visit to Billa, Albert and Lidl will reward you with the smell of freshly baked bread. Much of my small change has also disappeared into the floury hands of bakery shop assistants as I have been seduced by the smell of cakes etc as I ascend one of the escalators on the city metro. The only lingering memory of these hastily wolfed snack treats is a lighter wallet and an expanding waistline.
The most basic form of Czech bread is the humble rollick. This simple white roll is the friend of the perpetually hungry, the pacifier of wayward children, and the time pressed workman and commuter. They are incredibly cheap and are usually purchased by the bag full. My guess is that given the nature of Czech cuisine with its myriad soups and heavy sauces they are useful accompaniments to mopping up operations on many a dinner plate. This has been my personal experience anyway. Onwards and up from the rollick there is a veritable cornucopia of white and brown rolls with seeds and without seeds. Here the bread is definitely an integral ingredient of any self-respecting sandwich and not just something to slap some cheese on. More of my baking adventures and travails with Czech names for flour on Friday!

Don’t get SAD, Get planning!

January 3rd, 2012 | Posted by admin in Communications | Holidays | Household | Paul | What's Happening Prague - (Comments Off)

Christmas is now just a fading memory and all we have left to remind us of the holidays is the excess poundage around our waist and our waif-like bank balances. If you’re an expat, and if you’ve been back to your home nation or you’ve had friends or relatives visit, it might be the time of year when your spirits start to sag a little and everything looks a little bleak. So far in Prague this year, 2012 , I mean (I bet you’ve already written it down a few times – I don’t because we have no less than six calendars to remind us what year it is (Christmas presents!) the winter blues have been held at bay for me by the unseasonably good weather. I had been told of the infamously long and snow-ridden conditions, I am sure I’ll be eating my words before the week is out. But my antidote to all this is ‘Don’t get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Get Planning! Use these long dark nights to make sure that when the longer spring and summer days and evenings do arrive you’re well equipped to make the best of them.

If you’re missing friends and relatives then get on the telephone/Skype/social networks and start lobbying them to make Prague one of their destinations for a trip this year. You live in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and the world for goodness sake, it shouldn’t be too hard. If they’ve ‘done’ Prague, make them think again. Put together an itinerary of your favourite things that they might not have thought of and are not ‘typically tourist.’ – you might just change their minds…

For yourself, plan to do something you’ve never done before – For example I am a skiing virgin (yes you read it here first) I blame my upbringing in the English Midlands for this woeful situation. Anyway plans are in full swing to go skiing in February. On another note I feel like I am getting complacent about Prague’s architecture, so I am going to dust of the camera and start taking some pictures to put up on Facebook etc. 

Finally, why not find something to swallow up some of that time during the winter nights? Start that novel or screenplay (finished my first novel in October, making inroads into the second) Pick up a guitar or a paintbrush and see what happen (it’s not advised to do both at once!) Or get creative in the kitchen. I have started making fresh bread instead of buying it and it tastes pretty good. I just hope I’ll fit into my ski trousers. Whatever you do – have fun!

 

Prague

Made in Czech

June 7th, 2011 | Posted by admin in Guiri Guest | Household | Shopping - (Comments Off)

Guiri Guest Courtney is one of the co-founders of Guiri Guide in Madrid. While not having lived in Prague, she has visited on numerous occasions and therefore considers herself quite familiar with Prague 6 and the Old Town. Courtney, while loving Prague, has encountered more than a few things to share – from gems to hardships – that she feels would most benefit those without any knowledge of the Czech language (like her).

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When you arrive to Prague, you’ll want to stock your home full of Czech made goodies – in support of the locals, of course. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll want to stock your suitcase with tons of true Czech gifts for friends, family, or yourself.

Year’s ago, on the quest for Christmas gifts I had found the store chain, Manufaktura. I first read about Manufaktura in travel books but found it very easy to locate as there are a few locations within the old town Prague, you’ll most definitely find yourself at one without even trying. The store began its business in 1991 and touts its support for local manufacturers, stating that a great deal of their merchandise is hand-made.

Manufaktura sells items very typical of the Czech culture such as wooden toys and traditional handicrafts. They also have a cosmetic line which uses all local ingredients and claims to not test on animals. A few years ago I came away with an entire Christmas tree worth of ornaments.

The chain was started in an effort to preserve Czech and Moravian craft which is in danger of disappearing. With their network of some 250 craftsmen and small Czech businesses they have been quite successful.

I always find it enjoyable to peruse through the store and manage to always walk away with something. So next time your in Prague or when you’re in need of a truly original gift, remember Manufaktura.

 

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