The Secret is Out: Please Welcome My Chest of Wonders Tabletop Styling and Prop Rentals!

heart balloons

First of all, I’d like to thank you all for following along with my blogging journey from the very beginning. I am so thankful for each and every click, like, share, comment and follow! Your support is invaluable and I want you to know how much I appreciate the time you take out of your day to check out the things I put out there.

As much as I enjoy blogging, lately I felt I was ready to take My Chest of Wonders a step further and so I’ve been working on a new project behind the scenes these past months.

And I have big news today! Beyond excited to announce that my tabletop styling and prop rental service is up and running!

There are many updates to the website in connection with starting this small biz: you can browse the items for rent in the product catalogue, see how rentals work in the terms and conditions menu, and learn about tabletop styling, tablescaping trends & styles.

I am also turning My Chest of Wonders bilingual – from now on I’ll provide all information on the website in Hungarian language as well.

The blog will continue in English with the same posting schedule, and I will do my best to post more on social media.

Check out what I’ve been up to! I hope you’ll love it as much as I love working on it!



Image by Laurel


Catalonia Meets Hajdúság in My Kitchen: Chickpea Stew

chickpeat stew

Don’t know about you, but if there’s something I don’t feel like doing when temperatures are in the 30s °C-wise, it’s standing next to a hot stove for hours on end. Just hand me an ice-cold radler instead, will you.

It was scorching lately all right so I reached back to one of my favorite one-pot-wonder recipes, a real fusion dish combining elements of Catalan and Hungarian culinary traditions. My husband and I love this hearty, spicy, soupy chickpea stew with spinach and Debreceni.

Debreceni kolbász (pron. kohl-baahs), or Debreczener (sometimes also referred to as Hungarian wiener), a lightly smoked, beef and pork sausage seasoned with salt, black pepper, paprika powder and garlic distinct of the Hajdúság region, holds the status of Hungarikum.

According to the Act of Hungarian national values, Hungarikum is a collective term indicating a value worthy of distinction and highlighting within a unified system of qualification, classification and registry. In other words, something that is inimitably, uniquely and distinctly Hungarian (you can learn more about the list of Hungarikums here).

I use Dedreceni in this recipe for obvious reasons – national pride for one, and because a good debreceni is hella delicious. In Catalonia I guess a chorizo or botifarra would be the way to go. Cooking the sausages in the same pan you’re going to make the stew in not only saves the tasty juices but also lets you end up with less dirty dishes.

Probably originated in Turkey, nutrient-rich chickpeas, or garbanzo beans were transported throughout the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians. They are a staple in Spanish cuisine, in fact there are few places where they are more popular: garbanzos appear daily in cocidos (one-pot meals) and potajes (thick soups).

Chickpeas are slow food – the dry legumes are soaked in water overnight, then simmered slowly until tender, about three hours. But here’s a shortcut for you: buy the canned variety!

The base of this dish, like many others in Catalonia is a sofrito, a thick sauce made with sautéed onions and tomatoes. Second shortcut: all hail canned passata di pomodoro. I then flavor it with salt, black pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic and a little chili powder to make it appeal to local taste buds even more. Tossed a handful of fresh spinach leaves in there too, because why not.

Let simmer for a few minutes, and it’s ready to eat with a slice of rustic, toasted bread. Hmmm. This dish is a no-fuss no-brainer, the type of quick and easy meal you need when you have neither the time nor the willpower for anything too sophisticated. It is also very rich and tasty, and even better the day after! I can tell a win-win situation when I see one. Now, excuse me while I sit back with that radler.

Chickpeat Stew

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Hearty Catalonian-inspired stew with a Hungarian touch. Serves 4.


300 g package of debreceni, or any other hot dog or sausage type you like

can of chickpeas, drained

2 cups passata di pomodoro

handful of spinach leaves

1 large onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1 twig of fresh rosemary or ½ tbsp dried

chili powder to taste

1 tbsp sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

olive oil

rustic bread slices, toasted


  1. Cut sausages in a diamond pattern.
  2. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat, cook sausages until crispy and browned. Take sausages out of pan and set aside.
  3. Sautée onion in the remaining juices from the sausages (add another tbsp of olive oil if needed).
  4. When onion is softened, add garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, chili powder and rosemary. Stir and let sizzle for another minute for spices to release their aroma.
  5. Add passata, sugar and chickpeas. Let simmer for 10 minutes, add spinach and simmer for another 10 min until sauce is somewhat thickened, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve hot with the sausages and a slice of toasted bread on the side. Enjoy!

What are your go-to recipes when you want to whip up something quick yet satisfying?



Our Trip to NYC

manhattan business buildings

It feels so good to be home and also, TAKE ME BACK! We were honeymooning and visiting family in NYC, and what a great time we had! Read on for a quick recap of our Big Apple experience:

New York City –center of the universe, epitome of big city life. Some say NYC is a bubble, but what a bubble!

Not a small one, for sure. Honestly! The realization day after day that NYC is not just big, it is enormous. Especially mind-numbing for someone like me coming from a country with about the same population as the City of Dreams.

Compared to European cities though, the pattern of numbered streets and avenues were very easy to navigate. Manhattan’s streets running for miles straight ahead felt like they were made purposefully for charging forward.

Also love to hate the most necessary evil, the subway: from sights to smells to sounds to the price to service changes to non-audible announcement, all the way down to turnstyles. It’s extremely convenient and efficient however, got to give you that.

There was a general sense of crammed-in-ness the first few days, but once we got used to that most iconic skyline, we began to realize how this lack of space makes planners seek innovative solutions. I find it amazing the way disused or run-down spaces are reclaimed and get transformed, my favorite example being The High Line. Love how a once-dilapidated structure was repurposed into a cultural landscape enrichment (that city needs all the green it can get).

Did our fair share of touristing too, visiting some must-see sights – check out my ‘gram for some #picsoritdidnthappen. Doing so, we walked some 95 miles according to my Health app tracker, discovering neighbourhood after neighbourhood. Speaking of walking: Walking is the secret ingredient. NYC is the recipe that requires this ingredient in all of its dishes.*

Did I just hear dishes? I think I did! 🙂

You can eat pretty much anything at any time in New York. Wanted to try as many new flavors as possible so we were going HAM at the food. Truly the most extravagantly I’ve eaten in a long time with no gym visits at all and that’s totally OK. I loved every minute of it! Most times you work hard to take care of yourself, eat well and work out regularly. Other times you get busy living.

Did not deny myself any indulgence the last few weeks, but now I’m back on track. Got my slightly bigger ass kicked at the gym this morning and a nice lean meal is waiting for me in the fridge. Don’t worry though, my plans for the week also include trying some new recipes I will share with you in due course.



*from the article Why Everyone Should Live In New York City by Brian Rashid

Title image “blue manhattan district bottom tall” by onlyyouqj via Freepik

Some Thoughts on Turning 30

cake with succulents

You’re still a rock star – I whisper to myself as I take my multivitamin and go to bed at 9 pm.

Story of my life 🙂

I’m staring down my 31st birthday tomorrow and so I figured one year in is the perfect time to reflect on the things I’ve learnt and the changes I’ve experienced along the turn of a decade. First of all, life certainly did not end this time last year!

I simply think of my 30s as the next chapter in my life and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me and my loved ones. Your 20s are usually spent figuring out what you want from life and indeed, nowadays I’m feeling more secure and comfortable in my own skin than before.

Adult life is full of things we are never taught how to do and I’m still very far from having it all figured out, but as you get older and learn who you are, it starts to get more straightforward. With an evolving perspective on life, there’s no denying after turning 30 things do begin to change a bit.

This is how it is for me, not necessarily in order of importance:

  1. The oldies station is now playing the hits of my childhood. I still need time to process that…
  2. Staying in over going out. Sitting on my couch with a glass of wine sounds way more appealing than a loud club with unflattering strobe lights. When I’m asked if I want to go out these days, I assume that means an outdoor adventure, binge drinking and falling asleep with my makeup on not included in the schedule.
  3. Start drinking like a grown-up. Alcohol is an acquired taste and the goal is to develop an appreciation for your beverages. Also, time to invest in proper glassware. For more on the subject read this, it’s hilarious.
  4. Heels hurt your feet. I’ve finally come to terms with not being able to navigate 6” heels graciously and so ditched all my cab-to-curbs. The few pairs of nice (and lower) leather pumps I kept are now called sitting shoes. Not here for blisters and bunions any more.
  5. Too old for ill-fitting underwear. Got rid of every odd piece I’d been holding onto: the too tight, too big, too low, too high, the itchy and the one that’s cheap but sexy but more cheap than sexy. Wearing pretty and comfortable underwear boosts your confidence, even when only you and your husband (and wandering eyes in the gym locker) know what your undergarments look like.
  6. Buying things that last. Quality duvets, bed and bath linens because I now appreciate it, and because manky, threadbare sheets and mildewy towels just no longer cut it. When it comes to clothing, spending on investment pieces and having a well-rounded wardrobe are the goals.
  7. Follow washing instructions when you’ve bought said pieces with your hard-earned cash. Well, mostly. I still don’t see why anyone would hand-wash the average cotton-blend tee, but apart from that, through trial and error I’ve established clothing care labels are not put on just to make you claw yourself.
  8. Sunscreen is your friend. Don’t even deny you too preferred to be orange like Paris back in the day! I only buy moisturizer with SPF now, said farewell to self tanners a long time ago and keep visits to the tanning salon to a minimum.
  9. Discovering that first white hair. This actually resulted in less of an emotional breakdown than expected. NBD, I’ve been coloring my hair anyway. At least that’s what I think now, we’ll see what happens when there are a bunch of them.
  10. Accepting the skin you’re in. By now I’m pretty sure being 5’4” won’t change. Less comparing yourself to others, learning to work with what you have and figuring out the style that works for you seems to be the key here.
  11. Respect and embrace your body, be kind to your soul. In the end, your health is the most precious thing you’ll ever own. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, take care of your mental well-being and live a balanced life. All this will make point 11. less of a struggle.
  12. Time-management skills are a must. There will probably never be a time ever again in your life when you aren’t juggling multiple personal and professional priorities. But also, repeat after me: you can’t do everything. I’ll finish up with the laundry tomorrow, and that’s fine.
  13. Planning for your financial future. Start saving and tackle budgeting. Setting up a savings account for paying off our mortgage, contributing to a retirement account and a health insurance policy are things I think my 50-year-old self will thank me for.

Can you relate to any of this?



Photo featured in title image by Emily Wren

10 Absolute Steals from Aliexpress

Let’s get the elephant out of the room right away: I’m no fan of copyright infringement to say the least, and I am well aware of the bad rap Alibaba Group is getting. Asia’s biggest Internet company has, on multiple occasions, been labeled a haven for knockoffs and put on the blacklist for fakes, surely not entirely without grounds.

Despite their damaged credibility in the U.S. though, I’m determined to demonstrate to you how AliExpress can still be your go-to for scoring pretty cool (and not fraudulent) stuff by showing you some of my favorite purchases on the global retail marketplace.

To call the following items affordable would be an understatement, dirt cheap explains the case better. Sometimes you can’t help but wonder, how on earth is it possible to maintain such offers? And it’s not just the prices either!

It’s true I could get some of these items locally from brick-and-mortar shops, but why would I really, when I can order from the convenience of my home to be delivered – with free shipping! – right to my doorsteps.

You might argue the importance of keeping local enterprises in business and I wholeheartedly agree, especially when it comes to the food economy (see my thoughts on honey). These products however are not made here. Stores are just re-selling them, probably sourced from the very same place anyway.

I don’t mind the waiting either, because what I buy from the site is never needed acutely. It arrives when it arrives, usually within 2-3 weeks (20-60 days being the official estimated shipping time).

But what about buyer protection? In hundreds (oh my!) of transactions, the few problems I had so far were all satisfyingly resolved. With full refunds if you don’t receive your order, and partial or full money-back guarantee if your item is not as described, you are covered.

Still not convinced? Check out these products and remember, you’re just a few clicks away from such bargains. Thank me later 🙂

10 Absolute Steals from AliExpress:

Chalkboard stickers. Reusable and removable in different shapes, 8 pcs from $0.37.

chalkboard stickers

Paper cupcake liners. Many shapes, sizes and patterns, 20-50-100 pcs starting from $0.63/lot.

paper muffin liner

Paper straws. For all your soirées from $0.86/25 pcs, in many colors and patterns.


paper straws

Glass vials with cork. I’m thinking favors! Different shapes and sizes available, per piece or per lot.
glass vials with cork

Baker’s twine. 4-8-12 ply, over 40 colors available (even metallics!) by yard or spool.

baker's twine

Kraft paper tags. Many shapes and sizes starting at $0.16, from 10 up to 1000 pcs.

kraft paper tag labels

Silicone moulds. Unbelievable selection for ice cubes, chocolate, fondant or even candles.

silicone heart mould

Tea bags. Empty, with a string seal. Get 100 pcs for as low as $1.12

tea bags

Satin ribbons. With different widths, a variety of length and all colors of the rainbow.

satin ribbon

Cookie cutters. The cutest, funniest and weirdest you’ll ever find, starting from $0.46

jigsaw cookie cutterLove,


All images via AliExpress

*Disclaimer: I’ve visited, and/or used services offered by business establishments mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such entities represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship, commissions or gifts.*

On Decluttering, Hygge and Happiness

cup with hearts

It may sound strange, but I feel like the new year has just begun. To me, it’s not NYE that really marks the end of last year and the start of a new one: I wake up on January 1st and tend to be quite melancholic. Everything looks and feels the same as it did the day before, it’s still winter and it would be for at least a good two months longer.

(Not that I have anything particular against winter; every season could and should be enjoyed no matter which climate zone the place you call home happens to be in.)

But only around this time of the year do I actually start feeling resurrection: when the sun begins to set a little later, its rays are slowly gaining back their strength, birds are singing again and nature is awakening. Everything is fresh and new, a carte blanche.

I hope I’m making some sense here! 🙂

Spring has finally begun showing her lovely face to us here in Central Europe and on this much-anticipated occasion, I’ve decided no recipes today. Here’s what I have in store for you instead: elements of happiness. Oh, yeah!

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the international bestsellers The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. These books are definitely the talk of the town these days.

I think we’ll all agree I’ve picked some pretty hot topics to discuss in today’s post as those catchphrases in the title are #trending like crazy for some time now. Everyone’s sharing an opinion on these two subjects, so I had to see for myself what the buzz was all about.

I’ll be frank with you, I did feel the need for regular wardrobe purges before I was advised to do so and I’m beginning to think I should’ve been born in Denmark, as I was always naturally drawn towards things with a high hygge-factor (is there anyone not obsessed with cinnamon buns and throw blankets anyway?).

Finding nothing really groundbreaking in either one of these books, I still enjoyed reading and will probably refer back to them multiple times. Like anything else in life, you have to pick and choose the elements that work for you and your situation.

Admittedly though, my longing for a fireplace reached all-new levels and I also have a newfound sense of minimalism concerning my whole life, not just the underwear drawer.

Because even if you already know/do/have experienced some (or most) things listed in these volumes, it’s nice to put a name to a feeling that’s hard to describe (that would be hygge) and to have a system handy for keeping your spaces tidy (the KonMari Method).

As an introvert, the idea of a well-organized home, coziness and slow living is very appealing to me anyway. But could saying goodbye to pilling sweaters and lighting a bunch of candles really be the key to happiness (in the including but not limited to sense)? I kinda think so!

Let me elaborate.

As Benjamin Franklin put it: ‘Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life’.

In my mind, his words translate to appreciating the now, savoring the moment and being grateful for simple pleasures as key factors in the pursuit of overall wellbeing. And you can only do so when you have order and predictability in your life.

So here we are at my bottom line: it’s important to dream big, have focus and work towards your goals, wether it’s having more time, money or whatever it is you think would make you a happier person.

But the content you feel in those silent moments when you are snuggled up cozy in your favorite spot at an orderly, functional home with a good book and a steaming cup of hot chocolate is what real happiness looks like on an everyday basis.

It’s in the small things. Remind yourself of that!



Have you read these cult books, or are you familiar with their concept? How do you feel about them? Are you planning to incorporate some aspects to your lives on any level? I’d love to know!

 *Disclaimer: Reviews or any other refernce made to publications on My Chest of Wonders represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship, commissions or gifts.*

“Cup with hearts inside” photo by valeria_aksakova / Freepik

A Year of Blogging


Dear All,

It’s my first blogoversary! Is this even real? Feels like hitting publish for the first time was just yesterday. Wow. At an important milestone such as this one, a little reminiscing and a lot of looking ahead is in order.

A year and 100 posts ago I started this journey and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure I’d even make it this far. Yet here I am, not having missed a single post from my schedule, feeling motivated, inspired and ready to grow more than ever.

Regardless that my numbers are far from what you’d call monumental, I still feel like I have accomplished something. This wasn’t about going viral for me, and therefore I am grateful for every click more than you’ll know.

Looking back at it now, all of this started out as a hobby but has since blossomed into a real passion. My Chest of Wonders become such a wonderful outlet! As far as I remember I always loved writing, but blogging is so much more than that.

A lot of effort goes into it and therefore I appreciate every like, share and comment. Your support is everything. You are the reason I keep doing this. I feel humbled when anyone takes time out of their day to check out the things I put out there, even more so if you’re among those who enjoy it enough to follow me.

Can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us! So, thanks again to all of you who have stuck with me and welcome if you’re stopping by for the first time!



P.S. Here’s to that special someone who has had the biggest hand in making this blog a reality. I referred to you as the Fiance when I started, and now I am fortunate to call you my Husband. You’ve been here for me since day one and continue to encourage me every day. Thank you for being my Nr.1 fan! I love you always!

‘Grateful’design by Cocorrina

Guilty of Having an IKEA Catalogue Kitchen

We may as well call the 10-year period spanning the mid-20s and mid-30s the “IKEA decade.”

So apparently there is an IKEA era in your life, and Earnest took the time and effort to analyze tens of thousands U.S. user responses to describe it. Although the data was used to illustrate trends in the overseas market, I believe the results could very well apply to Europe too.

When R29 picked up the subject in this article asking friends and coworkers how they felt about the IKEA Breakup Age (it was found 34 is the magic number when you outgrow the Swedish brand), I felt an urge to declare where I stand on the matter.

Not yet past the breakup age at 30, never going to not shop there sums up my feelings best. I won’t argue some of their paperboard pieces are a little flimsy and will probably not survive 5+ movings, but it’s not what they’re meant for anyway.

Being a diehard IKEA devotee, I am ready to defend the furniture giant because when you have to set up an empty space from scratch, there’s simply no place better. And if you can invest in nicer furniture past your dorm years, they have more grown-up stuff too.

It’s not just the furniture, too – I’m especially loving their kitchen line. Yes, this means you and I probably own the same HEDERLIG wine glasses, but hell, it will at least be easy to replace the next time my dishwasher decides to break another one.

IKEA has the best offer when it comes to inexpensive basics and is a top source for quality kitchenware. I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite kitchen pieces, goods that have stood the test of time and really worth their price.

Below, 10 long-lasting, well-wearing, budget-friendly buys from the Swedish superstore:

ikea frying pan and tongsThe OUMBÄRLIG frying pan is a nice, heavy piece with a clad bottom for optimal heat distribution, non-stick coating and oven-safe handle: a multi-tasking must have! Use the IKEA 365+ HJÄLTE tongs for a firm grip and to avoid scratching your pots and pans.

ikea dinnerware and plate holder

I love the simple, classic design of my ARV dinnerware set, also available as open-stock pieces (phew!). I store all my plates in adjustable VARIERA holders for both convenience and safety.

ikea mug and tea infuser

Who doesn’t have a (or several) DINERA mug? I adore the muted colors they are available in and they have the most ergonomic handle of all mugs, period. For my morning tea, the IDEALISK tea infuser comes in handy, plus, when making soups I put whole spices in it for easy disposal when the cooking is finished.

ikea cast iron dish and kitchen towel

Heavy-duty cast iron cookware can get really pricey, but this enameled SENIOR casserole dish won’t set you back too bad. With a 25-year warranty and easy maintenance, it’s my secret weapon when baking bread. TEKLA dish towels are a steal of a deal and a must in every household.

ikea cake stand and paper napkin

My festive ARV BRÖLLOP cake stand has seen sooo many pastries! The lid is a huge advantage (I’m living with cats 🙂 ). Also, IKEA seems to have the best paper napkin designs every season. These flowery ones are part of the INBJUDANDE series.

What would be on your own list of IKEA kitchen favorites?



All images © IKEA

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Getting Real About My Eating Habits

vegetables on table

I was working on a future post featuring a very decadent dessert while munching on a tuna salad the other day, when I suddenly felt the need for a reality check. Like I had to come clean about my eating habits. Why?

The majority of my blog posts are food related, rather from the indulgent than the health conscious side. I never used the tags ‘diet’ or ‘clean eating’ once, and while I do make and chow down everything I post, that’s not the whole picture.

The food seen on My Chest of Wonders was likely prepared and enjoyed on weekends. I don’t even cook on weekdays normally, my Husband and I both have full-time jobs plus we commute a lot, and those goodies are my cheat day meals (more on that later).

I wanted to tell you guys this because in the day and age of social media, we are creating online facades and took up selective story-telling, but there is always more (or sometimes less!) outside the frame.

We mostly give ourselves credit for jobs well-done, but if I turned around and took the picture of the brioche from another angle, you would have seen utensils strewn across the counter and probably a cat licking a bowl enthusiastically despite me snapping at her.

Also gobbled up the less perfect pieces before I took the camera out. There. In a world when our lives are put on display through filters, extensive retouching, constant editing and tireless curating, I think it’s more important than ever to try keeping it real.

So now that I’ve given you a little #bts, back to the original topic. Here’s how I eat IRL:

About 4 years ago, I switched to a healthier lifestyle, significantly reducing my sugar intake (used to drink coffee with 3 tbsp of sugar), lowering carbs (stopped eating bread and potatoes with everything) and hitting the gym.

These changes led to having more energy, less bloat, better sleep, better skin and also notable weight loss (which I do not consider to be the most important perk). All in all, I ended up with a healthier body that I started to feel ok with for the first time in my life.

Today, my plan includes working out regularly, being on a low carb diet on weekdays, and allowing myself to indulge on the weekends (that’s when blog content is created). This way, I am able to maintain my weight, keep the benefits mentioned above and enjoy all the flavours without remorse.

I’ve created a system that’s working for me, something I can stick to in the long run. In short, I’ve found my balance: my diet makes it possible for me to satisfy my cravings and fit into my favorite skinnies as well.

I’m happy I can be a bonkers foodie living a healthy, balanced life. That said, I’m not trying to convince you to follow suit or state that mine would be some kind of magic formula. Also, happiness has nothing to do with the size you’re wearing! I strongly believe the key to true well-being is maintaining a healthy mind and treating your body with respect.

Bottom line? I’d rather get judged for being real than be loved for faking flawlessness. How about you? How does all the perfection showcased on the internet make you feel? Envious? Causing you self-doubt? Or doesn’t bother you at all? I’d love to hear it!



“Table with some vegetables” photo by onlyyouqj via Freepik

Friday Finds

Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when you’re running yourself.

Bill McKibben

Smitten with Danish design (photo from Søstrene Grene Christmas Catalog):

danish christmas decor

Always remember:

you are enough calligraphy

Gingerbread ornaments (“white cookies” photo by Nina Gabelica):

gingerbread ornament

Rusty star garland available at Cox & Cox:

rusty star garland

Sparrows in the snow by Kevin Winterhoff:

sparrows in the snow

Happy weekend!