Laura Recommends

June Recommendations

July 10, 2018

Albeit a bit later than usual due to a well deserved holiday in Italy, I am back with a list of places, things, videos and thoughts I have liked during the past month and which I would like to share with you.

As a result of a hectic month with a different set of priorities than usual, my reading list was sadly thinner than I wanted, being composed only out of three books that should count as one and a half considering two of them add up to less than 250 pages and the other one I was done with on the 1st of June, after reading 90% of it in May. I can’t truly recommend any of the three for different reasons irrelevant to this post, but let me know if you want me to do a bigger book post about my favourites/my dislikes in the past year or about my read shelf and my TBR shelf. I have indeed started reading other 3 books in June out of which I have read almost 300 pages so here’s to hoping July will be the month in which I get to finish something (I hope this will be the case since I also just bought 10 more books *facepalm*).


Let’s get into it. Here’s what I liked seeing, attending, watching and reading in June:


Notes on the set – ‘The Crown’

It’s not a secret I loved Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ , a series focused on the British Monarchy played by an incredibly cast. In this video, Martin Childs, ‘The Crown’ production designer, explains how his team managed to pull together interiors that resemble the original royal venues. It’s extremely fascinating and insightful and particularly interested for the fans of the show familiar with the scenes and with production and design passionates.

How New York got its skyline

Before watching this video I never asked myself the above question, but now I am glad I know the answer to it. Bloomberg has done a particularly fine job bringing this topic forward and I hope to see more such videos from them in the upcoming months.

RO: Vlad Voiculescu’s TEDx talk

For my fellow Romanians who did not get a chance to watch this widely circulated video of a talk one of our former Health Ministers offered at TEDx Cluj, please carve 20 minutes out of your hectic schedule and watch it. Please.



Villa Rufolo, Ravello

Out of my most recent trip to Italy this must be one of the most beautiful places I have seen! The gardens at Villa Rufolo are so well maintained and the views are absolutely breathtaking that it’s easy to forget you are not dreaming.

Hotel Covo dei Saraceni, Positano

Alright, so I might not be able to say a lot about the hotel since I did not stay there during my time in Positano, but their downstairs café/restaurant served the best sorbet I have ever tasted! Maybe I am slightly biased because it was lemon-based (and I love lemons!) and served in an actual frozen lemon, but it was for sure one of the most memorable things I ate while in Italy. Also, I sort of regret not going on a lemon farm tour (I didn’t know these were a thing!) so if someone can take me to the Amalfi coast again so I can see the pretties lemons again I’d be forever grateful.



Open Tuinen Dagen/ Open Garden Day (Amsterdam)

This classical June event is something I had been waiting for since last year, when I sadly learned about it too late. This event is centred around the gardens of the canal houses in Amsterdam, and it was mainly created as a way to raise awareness about them and their sometimes decaying beauty. Considering the participating gardens are mostly private or not easily accessible ones, the event felt like a special incursion into a magical and secret green world of Amsterdam.

Dan Ariely talk- The Philosophy of Money

In June I got the amazing opportunity to hear Dan Ariely talk during an event organized by the School of Life Amsterdam. He mainly talked about money and our financial habits and behaviours and I have noted down some really insightful thoughts that I decided would be great to share with you:

  • We made saving invisible and we made spending visible. Do you know how much your neighbours are spending? Kind of – you know in what type of place they live, what car they drive, what clothes they wear and so on. But do you know how much they save?
  • Life  is a portfolio of decisions. What do you have highlighted in yours?

If you want to learn more about other ideas Ariely talks about, such as the pain of paying, the money you need to get to live happily well into your retirement years or why we should make our efforts visible in relation to our clients, you might want to read his latest book called Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter.

Noaptea de Sânziene – Se deschid cerurile de Sânziene

I wanted to attend this event for more than three years and unfortunately I was either away or unavailable during the nights it was organized. For all my foreign friends and readers, every year on the 24th of June, Romanians celebrate the Sânziene, who are the closest beings to fairies who every year dress in white, gather flowers and braid them into crowns which are later thrown on house roofs to determine if someone in that household will die (if the crown falls from the roof) or if the next year will be a prosperous one (if the crown doesn’t fall from the roof). The celebration and our rituals sort of reminded me a bit of what I have read about the Swedish midsommar celebrations (by the way, if you haven’t watched this extremely humorous clip about these Swedish festivities, this clip might be for you).



Want to understand experience design? Eat popcorn with chopsticks

Before reading this article I was a bit skeptical I would learn something new from such a seemingly irrelevant and click-bait-ish title, but I caught myself by surprise by learning more about how we can create memorable experiences with thoughtful design.


Here is where I am wrapping up this months recommendations article, with the hope you’ll also share what you have liked/read/watched or tried out and loved in the past weeks.


See you soon!


LauraxELLE, travel

Jet. Set. Saint Petersburg!

June 20, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember that last summer I went to Moscow and Saint Petersburg for 10 days. And while I already managed to post a travel article about Russia’s capital, it was about time I told you more about Saint Petersburg.

As always, I want to be fair and transparent with you, so the places marked with an asterix (*) are places I have not had yet the pleasure to pay a visit, but they are still highly recommended amongst the well-traveled circle.


Between Bucharest and Saint Petersburg there is no longer a direct flight, but you may get good connections and great offers with only one stop over. Besides the transit time, the shortest flight time is four hours and a half.


When you say Saint Petersburg it is impossible not to think about the famous art museum Hermitage, the Peterhof domains, which host gardens and a palace frequently likened to Versailles, and Tsarskoye Selo, the palace which houses the world renowned Amber Room. Besides these tourist spots, The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood/ the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is definitely worth a visit due to its 7500 square meters of floor to ceiling mosaics. If you are in Saint Petersburg in the warmer months, do not miss out a boat trip on the Neva river to assist at the midnight bridge opening show. Below you’ll find another two recommendations which will definitely impress you:

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Laura Recommends

May Recommendations

June 3, 2018

Upon writing down what I liked so much during the month of May that I wanted to recommend to everybody, I thought this month there was not really that much to write about. However, after starting to look in my YouTube and Google history I discovered I have actually read and watched some pretty interesting things. Despite having a tracking list of all the books I have read so far, I thought I had no other way to hold myself accountable for all the other sources of knowledge I use. Turns out, my promise to myself to write these recurring Recommendation articles is the best way to keep me on the track of learning something new and different every month. After this small epiphany I decided to ask you as well what do you do to keep yourself accountable for the knowledge you earn? Goodreads? Folders of read articles in a special app? Handwritten lists? I would love to hear it all!



The Bewitching Time Warp of Transylvania, Romania

This superb piece from Conde Nast Traveler about Transylvania reminded me so much about my childhood. It also triggered in me the wish to spending some weeks there this summer to experience again the art of slow living.

P.S. The images accompanying the article are absolutely stunning and remind me of the work that Mihail Onaca or Lavinia Cernău created in the same region across various seasons.

Elements of AI course

This free course about AI is offered by the University of Helsinki (kudos to you, folks!) and so far has proven a great introduction to a topic I had been curious for a long time. If you are also doing the course, let me know, so we can chat about it!



The complex geometry of Islamic design

I promise this older TED Ed video about Islamic art and geometry will be a delight for your eyes and the best short incursion into the magic world of architecture, design and symmetry.

How To Create Flying Food Photos

Personally, I always wondered how the flying food images where created where one could see clearly all layers of the food. Thanks to this video that is less than 6 minutes, my questions about this were finally answered!

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Laura Recommends

April Recommendations

May 5, 2018

*above – a dream house from Giethoorn

I’ll keep April recommendations post short, just like I perceived this past month.



De Haar Castle, Utrecht

You may remember that last month I told you about Posthoornkerk, a beautiful church in Amsterdam designed by Pierre Cuypers. This month I am including another one of Cuypers’ masterpieces: De Haar Castle. It has easily climbed all the way to the top of my favourite castles’ list due to its superb and neat gardens, red and white window shutters and bold stained glass.


Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam

A hidden-in-plain-sight museum with a great selection of archeological and historical pieces from many areas of Europe, this museum also has a very serene inner garden with beautiful cherry trees that I had the chance to see in full bloom. Less touristic, but still a great destination, especially if you have already been to Amsterdam and crossed off the big museums.


Biking up north from Amsterdam

During Easter weekend I went on a bike trip up north from Amsterdam to discover small villages like Broek en Waterland, Zunderdorp, Holysloot and Randsdorp (my personal favourite – the church there is so beautiful!). To be honest, I was keen on seeing cows in the green Dutch fields, but instead I saw hares and sheep. The closest I got to cows was by drinking cow milk so at least I had that going on.



How to make better use of everything you read

After reading many articles on speed reading, quality reading and what not related to how to read more and how to do that efficiently, this may be the best article I have stumbled across which actually gives great advice and less intuitive tips on how to make the most out of what you read but also on how to save notes for your future self.

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Laura Recommends

March Recommendations

April 2, 2018

When looking back, March seems to have gone by so fast that I couldn’t remember even reading or watching anything worth sharing with you. However, at a second glance, I made up a way longer list than what I was expecting:


Atlas of Beauty by Mihaela Noroc

Mihaela Noroc has been traveling the world in order to capture with her camera the many different shapes beauty takes in women. Her new book is a superb depiction of how beauty is not only on the outside and how more likely, our stories are the ones which make us shine. You can read more about her world-renowned project by having a look at her website.



Museum of Little Paris, Bucharest

I wanted to keep this magical place for myself, but my desire to help push local brands eventually won. Probably the most charming apartment in the Old City Centre of Bucharest, this photo studio turned into an antiquities-lover heaven is now on its way to becoming a little museum portraying how Bucharest used to look back when it was called The Little Paris.

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LauraxELLE, travel

Jet. Set. Marrakesh!

March 29, 2018

Perhaps the foreign city I think most often of, Marrakesh has been on my bucket list for many years until I finally managed to go and I would still return there anytime. This Recommendation list reminded me of so many beautiful memories, tastes, colors and sounds that my heart was already feeling like it was there again.

As always, I want to be fair and transparent with you, so the places marked with an asterix (*) are places I have not had yet the pleasure to pay a visit, but they are still highly recommended amongst the well-traveled circle.


There are no direct flights between Bucharest and Marrakesh, however, you may opt for one of the plenty trips with one stopover in Europe. Be prepared for a minimum six-hour flight, layover included.


Walk through the Medina, the old neighbourhood which surrounds the Jemaa el-Fna square. Do that during the day for bargaining in the souq area, buying trinkets and drinking many fresh fruit juices. During the night the Jemaa el-Fna square turns into a melting pot of snake charmers, food from all corners of the world and henna-tattoo artists, whose dexterity into creating intricate designs is absolutely incredible. Also, don’t miss out on a visit to the Yves Saint Laurent museum, inaugurated in October 2017 in the vicinity of the Majorelle Garden, the famous property YSL bought together with Pierre Bergé.

For some relaxation moments, choose the spa of the La Mamounia hotel, a property of almost seven hectares nearby the famous Koutoubia mosque or savour a mint tea in the shadows of Le Jardin Secret, a central botanical garden which has been recently restored and whose origins date back to the 17th century.
Other two places you should definitely see are:

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Laura Recommends

February Recommendations

March 1, 2018

To be honest, without this blog post I would have had no idea how February passed by or what I did during this awfully short month. March already seems like a very full month, so here’s to hoping I still find some time to tackle my ever growing to-read pile of books. Until then, here is a quick list of things I enjoyed, read or listened to in the past weeks:


Onward – Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon

I really loved this book. Usually business books or biographies which look at how a certain entrepreneur made it are too vague to really teach you anything beyond the usual clichés of pushing forward and thinking outside the box and just descriptive enough to make the case for a new book on the stands. This is not the case for Onward. Although it has a narrow scope (mostly looking at the years between 2007 and 2011 with few flashbacks), it is full of details, honest retellings of the harshest economical moments of the past decades and many ideas of how to build, manage and lead a culture and a company.

Made to Stick – Chip and Dan Heath

I love the recipe that the Heath brothers developed after analysing thousands of sticky or rather unsticky moments (to put simply, they correlate the sticky term to something or someone being memorable). They concentrated everything they learned in an essence called SUCCES – Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Stories, which you can apply to most of the messages you want to convey.


Pardon my French

I love Garance Doré, everything she creates is utterly beautiful and emanates a very French air. I think I first discovered her illustrations, then her website and book. Her podcast, Pardon my French, featured awesome guests such as Morgane Sézalory, the founder of the famous and quintessentially Parisian brand, Sézane, and Christian Louboutin, who needs no further introduction. Both interviews, although a bit too long for my commute, were full of insights and stories I had not heard before about the two designers. I highly recommend them if you are into fashion or any other creative industry.

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Job title: Influencer

March 1, 2018

What is the value we bring in the lives of people who follow us? In a digital world marked by the passivity we experience in front of content (also known as content fatigue), what sort of content should we choose to produce? What are the points of difference between influencers in 2018 and what does it actually mean to be an influencer? Have we lost our own personal filter due to our desire to integrate ourselves in certain communities and false standards?

INFLUENCER = person which has the power to influence many people, mainly via social media networks or traditional media channels

They say 2017 was the year of the influencers. I would say that it was the year of the mobile window showcases. #ad #spon #blessed

Due to Instagrammers’ desire to monetize their content in front of an audience seemingly willing to be bombarded by advertorials, paid images and ads, nowadays anyone with a following bigger than a couple of thousand people gets to call themselves an influencer. Obviously, because the agencies and the companies are still in the beginning period of the Influencer Marketing era, they don’t see ill-fitted to attract on board of their campaigns people who are exact replicas of each other. These people tell the same story with their content, overwhelmingly photograph from the same perspective the watch turned to face them to announce a discount code WATCH15 and each of them addresses to almost identical crowds of users.

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Analog, Digital and the Return of Analog

February 18, 2018

I still remember the first disc I ever listened to on my dad’s pick up: it was The Little Match Girl, a story which moved me profoundly. The story seemed unique both because of the message and the sounds the machine was making which resembled the very fire sparks the little girl was dreaming about.

Although they seemed obsolete at the beginning of the 2000’s, the pick-ups, cassette players and tape recorders are making a come back, uplifting the spirits in the houses of music lovers and not only and in the process, becoming part of the lives of younger generations, many of which not remembering the days when owning such a machine would attract the neighbourhood’s envy. And it’s not just the old-school music players which are back; film cameras, printed books, typewriters and many more analogue devices once presumed dead are now reclaiming their spots in the consumer’s hearts.

The question is why? Where does this resurrection of the analog come from?

We may trace back one of the reasons of this come back to Instagram, which currently has more than 800 million monthly users. Created to mimic both the effects of film photo cameras and the instant nature of the photography process (as the app’s name indicates), initially, Instagram got its fame thanks to a unique series of filters which could have been applied to the photographs. And so, the users got to experience the unforeseen desire to use the Sutro and X-PRO filter or a hint of vignette on any image posted. Fast forward from 2010, these filters have been declared passé because they clearly show that the images are actually impostor photographs which ooze an absurd creation effort.

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