Three important self-realisations I want to share with you.

It was just about one week ago when I found myself stuck in a professional dilemma. I was offered a job at a company that I have wanted to work for ever since I moved to The Netherlands and became more environment-conscious. Even though the job position seemed to be the kind of challenge I was looking for, there were also some cons associated to it that required some proper clear thinking. After a couple of phone calls and two face-to-face interviews and, I just did not have a good feeling about it. I was having many inner reservations about the position and team I’d be working in. I was also experiencing a copious amount of some self-doubt about taking the job. I had never seen myself in such a situation ever before. I weighted all the pros and cons, made a proper cost-benefit analysis (haha) and lost sleep over it. I put all my questions and thoughts down into paper and I asked for advice to my family, friends and boyfriend. For roughly three weeks I could not be fully at peace within myself because I had this dilemma constantly playing on the back of my head. This whole situation took me by surprise because I was not actively searching for a now job. The entire recruiting progressed rather quickly and…All of a sudden I found myself with little time to make up my mind. I was being highly pressured by this other company to make a decision. A big decision that would undoubtedly result in a major life and career change.

I ended up by not taking the job and I feel good about my decision. It was a difficult one but I decided to trust my gut feeling and follow my intuition. I feel grateful for having gone though this experience because it led to three big self-realisations that I’d like to share with you:

  • When it comes to big life changes, if you fear or doubt it more than you want it, then don’t do it. I have no doubts that I am ready for a positive career change but I realised that the decision I was about to take would not necessarily lead to the kind of change I am currently striving for. My certainty was not louder than my uncertainty as it is supposed to happen when you are apparently given an opportunity to pursue what you want. After all, when something we want lands on our lap (like this job opportunity landed on mine), we  should feel excitement and motivation to take it but if we feel even more unease than fear itself, well that is a sign we need to pay attention to.
  • You do not have to have it all figured out, you just have to choose the next best thing and trust that everything will work itself out.
  • Take your time to reflect about the situation you are into and about how saying “yes/no” would make you feel. Then step back, surrender to the decision, welcome guidance and clear direction will be presented to you. This is exactly what happened to me.

To sum all this up, if there is one advice I can firmly give based on this experience is that: if it does not feel right, then it is not for you and that is okOftentimes what we think we want is actually not what we really want or need in our life. There is something big coming your way so do not overwhelm yourself. Trust the process and take each day as it comes. ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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Hitting rock bottom.

I think that all of us, at some point in our lives, eventually hit rock bottom; whether that happens in our personal or in our professional sphere; or even all at once. I think that those who have been there already, would agree that hitting rock bottom can leave us feeling quite hopeless because the idea of  bouncing back again may seem rather out of reach but… what if hitting rock bottom is what we need to find ourselves again and find out who we really are? What if hitting rock bottom shows us the way forward? What if hitting rock bottom turns out to be nothing more than a blessing in disguise?

A lot happened during the first half of last year. I lost myself trying to find myself. I went through countless ups and downs and I eventually hit flat-out rock bottom at some point. That forced me had to face myself as well as all my fears and insecurities. Subsequently, that led me to question everything that I ever thought to be unquestionably true. Almost a year has passed now and I look back at that time of struggle with a deep feeling of gratitude and self-compassion. I learned a lot about myself and I learned how to appreciate everything good – great in fact – that I have in my life. I have also come to realise that sometimes all we need is to actually hit rock bottom and that is why I am here today. I will be sharing in this post why I personally think that hitting rock bottom does not have necessarily be a bad thing and and what are some of the things that are important to keep in mind when we find ourselves at the bottom.

  • Hitting rock bottom has the potential of showing us all our dysfunctional behaviours. It is pointless to keep doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result. It is useless to delude ourselves into thinking that everything is just great when, deep down, we know pretty well it is not. So, by hitting rock bottom I was able to see things in another light and realise that if I want a different outcome then I must change the process.
  • Sometimes we need to let go of the old to create space for the new. I had tolet go of habits that were no longer serving me so I could welcome empowering and positive new ones into my life.
  • At the beginning, when I hit rock bottom, I felt lost and clueless about how to make my way up again, how to bounce back but then I just remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. I just trust that my pain was temporary and try to see the bottom as a springboard that I could use to push myself up. It worked.
  • When you hit rock bottom and hence, your lowest point, you can rest assured that  your situation can only get better from there. When you cannot sink any lower, there’s nowhere to go but up, right? As the saying goes “It is all uphill from here“.
  • Give yourself time to understand what the situation you are into means to you, embrace the chaos and the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. Do not focus on how you feel but on how you want to feel instead. That it is what ultimately will get yourself out of the bottom.

 If you are going through something difficult and have hit rock bottom, I hope this post has given you some hope and served as a good reminder that this is just temporary. You are going to rise above whatever adversities life has thrown at you. Trust the process.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Savoury chickpea waffle (VGN & GF)

SOOOO guys I finally bought myself a waffle iron!! I have wanted to buy one ever since my mom bought one. This is because I got to see how great it is to have some freshly made waffles for breakfast. Plus, it also reminds me of the lovely breakfasts in family we have in our balcony or garden every time I go back home for the holidays.

This is my most recently acquired kitchen appliance and I am over the moon with it! It is seriously such a breakfast/lunch/dinner game-changer!! It comes so in handy when I am having a crazy week with overtime and everything else we all deal with. In busy days, I surely prefer speed and convenience over anything else.

The recipe of the savoury waffles I am sharing with you today is something really easy that you can throw together in literally 5 minutes. All you need to have on hand are 6 real simple ingredients. I use chickpeas flour in place of regular refined flour for an extra punch of protein and because I personally love its taste. However, for a gluten free version, you can also use quinoa, buckwheat or even rice flour instead. Ok, enough of waffling around (pun obviously intended because I am that funny)! Here is the recipe:

 

Savoury chickpea waffles (makes two)

Ingredients:

  • 40 gr chickpeas flour
  • 5 gr psyllium husk
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • A splash of unsweetened almond milk (or any other plant-based milk of your choice)**
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder

 

** I always eye ball it but I probably use around 30ml

Directions:

  • While you are heating your waffle iron, combine all dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  • Add in the wet ingredients (water and milk) and stir them together/combine them
  • Let waffle batter sit for 10 minutes.
  • Scoop a few heaping spoonfuls of mixture into waffle iron and let it cook until it stops steaming and the light turns on. I actually leave for another minute or so because I like my waffles golden brown.
  • Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Transfer waffles to a plate, serve optional add-ins and enjoy!

Note: I never use cooking spray or oil because my waffle iron has non-stick plates. However, please bear in mind that you might have to use some oil in your batter or cooking spray in your iron in case this is not the case with the waffle maker you use.

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I love to pair my crispy waffles with tofu scramble (you can find my recipe here: Tofu Scramble) but you can top them with whatever you like. I have also topped my waffles with some smashed avocado, sautéed mushrooms, capsicum and scallions and they tasted great.

Wish you all a great week ahead xx

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My month of January in review

Well. January just flew by like a fastball. It is crazy how the first month of the new year is already done. Time seems to be speeding up as I grow older and older… Or is it just me? Anyway, as February is already here, I thought I would share with you some of my last month’s highlights. I always like to take time to reflect on the previous month as it improves my self-awareness and provides perspective.

Personal highlight of the month:

After being in a long-distance relationship for nearly 5 years, my boyfriend has left his home country – England – and moved in with me. It was about time! Now we will be both living and working in The Netherlands. We are both so darn happy and grateful for this huge change in our lives and relationship. This really goes to show that great things take time. ♥

Most exciting purchase:

Flights to London. My sister is having her graduation ceremony in May and I finally got to buy the plane tickets so I can be there to congratulate her in person. She finished her PhD from Imperial London College and I could not be more proud of her. Seriously.

Favourite ethical purchase:

Freezer bags made of silicone grade food, another small step towards using less plastic in my day-to-day life. I am so pleased with this purchase! Because the material is odourless and non-toxic (free of bpa, latex, lead and phthalates), it is a more sustainable and safer plastic alternative both for the planet and our health. Other characteristics of these bags that I am very pleased about are their self-sealing convenience, transparency of the material (i.e. you can easily see what is stored in them), light weight (i.e. easy to transport). They also don’t take much space at all, which is great given the fact that my freezer is not very big. Plus, as they are sturdy and resistant to extreme temperatures, you can just reuse them with no issues whatsoever. For those wondering, I got these silicone freezer bags from Amazon and totally recommend.

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Favourite book:

The Undutchables: An Observation of the Netherlands, Its Culture and Its Inhabitants by Colin White and Laurie Boucke. As an expat living in The Netherlands, I find this book to be unbelievably humorous and entertaining! I think that it is the kind of book that someone who is interested in learning more about the Dutch culture would find very interesting and insightful to read. It captures many of the funny quirks of the Dutchies at the same that presents them in a very funny and authentic way.

 

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Favourite song:

Mumford and sons – Guiding Light.

I know, I know. It is not exactly a new tune but it is so lovely and pleasing to the ear.

Favourite movie:

“Johny English strikes again”. Any comedy movie with Rowan Atkinson is a must-watch for me! I watched it right on the first day of the year and it made me start 2019 on a “positive” note if you know what I mean. My boyfriend and I had a really great laugh. Is it not laughter the best medicine and therapy one can have?

Favourite homemade dinner:

BBQ pulled jackfruit tacos. Yes, oh yes.

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Jackfruit is one of my favourite meat replacements and I had been wanting to make this recipe for a loooong looong time. I am so glad and happy with how tasty it turned out. The boyfriend, who is a meat-eater, said that they were freakin’ delicious and he actually also said that both the texture and flavour resemble chicken meat! What a win in the kitchen! 🙂

Favourite memory:

One of my good friends from my home country came visit me with her boyfriend. She came exactly when we had the first real snowfall of the year and she got so thrilled haha! ..and oh well, in all honesty, so did I. I feel like it does not matter how long I live in The Netherlands for, I still get excited every single time I see snow. It is just oh so pretty and magic and peaceful.  Anyhoo, focus focus. As I was saying, my friend came visit and I made a reservation in one of my fave restaurants in town. We delighted ourselves in some lovely vegan Vietnamese food, shared some funny stories and laughed a lot! Both our partners came along and it was lovely to see how they just clicked and got on well with each other. It was a really great night and we got to build some new beautiful memories together to add to our 20 years of friendship.

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The first real snowfall of this Winter.

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All in all, a great start to the year 2019! 🙂

How did January treat you? What were some of your January highlights? Please let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

 

3 reasons to choose soy candles over regular ones

I love lighting up candles, especially when Fall and Winter roll around. There is just something so special and relaxing about a soft, flickering light. Plus, they just make any room feel homey and cozy. However, as I have been becoming more and more environmentally-conscious when it comes to my purchases, I could not help but wonder how eco-friendly were the regular paraffin-based candles I was buying. When I started looking and reading into it..well, let’s just say I was not impressed. This meant that with little deliberation, I went ahead and bought myself a selection of soy candles for the first time.

I was so pleased to find soya candles at Søstrene Grene , which is a Danish retail chain and one of my favourite lifestyle stores (especially for home decor).

Before jumping into the reasons why I think it is better to use soy candles over regular ones, I just want to make a brief remark. It is important to highlight that even though I believe they are a better option for the environment than paraffin-based ones, they are still not the most sustainable option out there. There are a few aspects to take into consideration when buying soy candles. As you probably have heard there are many concerns and issues related to the massive soybean industry, like deforestation (mainly in Brazil) and pollution caused by the heavy use of pesticides and fertilisers. Thus, I would advise you to try buying soy candles from companies that are able to ensure that the soy is domestically grown (which most of the times is), non-GMO and from traceable growers. If the soy candles are produced locally, you are actually supporting local businesses/farmers, whilst encouraging local agriculture, which is great. Now that this is out of the way, let’s jump right into the 3 major benefits of using soy candles as opposed to regular ones!

  • Soy candles are natural.

Contrary to paraffin, which is derived from petroleum, shale oil or coal (non-renewable resources), soy candles are made from soya beans, a natural ingredient that is biodegradable and a totally renewable resource. They, therefore, burn cleaner, create a negligible amount of soot and can actually release their fragrance easier and wider.

  • Better for your health and the environment

While burning petroleum-based candles toxins that are carcinogenic in nature may be released. Though, if the candle is 100% made of soy beans you can rest assured that, while burning, no harmful toxics are being released into the air you breathe or into the earth’s atmosphere.

  • Last for longer. Hence, more cost-effective 

Even though soy candles are generally more expensive when compared to regular ones, they last for a longer period of time making them a more cost-effective in the long-term.  Their burning rate is lower and up to 50% longer than regular candles.

These are the candles I bought at Søstrene Grene:

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I must say though that this was not my wisest purchase ever… As soon as I saw the candles for sale, I got so excited that bought them right away without properly reading the label. It was only when I got home that I noticed that they are actually made of 95% soya and 5% paraffin. So, I guess that this purchase ended up by not being exactly the  best purchase for the environment or health as I thought but.. lesson learned. Next time I will certainly be paying more attention and will not my excitement carry me away. Anyhoo, I am very happy with how good the scents I went for are – “twilight oak” and “sea salt rose”- and I am also very impressed with how slow they burn. Plus, each of them was just under 3 euros, which I find to be super affordable. All in all, I feel that this purchase was still a win when it comes price-quality and value. These soy candles are certainly a safer and overall better option than the regular candles I used to buy.

I hope you have found this post somehow informative and insightful. I believe that when you consider all of the positive attributes soy candles may possess (if sourced sustainably), you will not be giving up anything when you choose buying them over regular ones. You can find soya candles in all of the fragrances you’re accustomed to and they are just better for you and the environment.

Now tell me, have you ever bought soy candles? If so, how do you like them? Do you have a specific brand you like and would recommend? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Barista Workshop – my experience.

I have come to realise that time is way too short and life is way too big to be anything but happy. ♥ One of the intentions that I have set for the year of 2018 was to simply do more of what makes my soul shine. Thus, as I turned 25 years old in September, I decided to reward myself with a Barista Workshop. For those of you who don’t know, I am a coffee lover whos comes from Portugal, where coffee culture is huge.  We love to linger at the table after eating, drink a cup of coffee (usually an espresso) and chat for hours. I personally love to catch up with a good friend over coffee. Nothing beats a “let’s go for a coffee” invitation! 🙂

Coffee holds a very special meaning to me and, in my opinion, it brings people together. When I was little, my granny (also a coffee lover) used to serve me coffee in this cute little cup every day after we having lunch together. I remember how happy I felt when drinking it. Granny used to take a sip, gently close her eyes and say smilling “it is so good, is it not my dear?”. My parents were not that happy about me drinking coffee at such a young age like 5 years old… but they allowed it anyway because they knew that it was our little thing. Plus, the caffeine/water ratio was probably 85/15%. I loved its taste regardless and that is why coffee has a very special place in my heart to this day.

I did my Barista workshop at Koffie Academie, in Amsterdam, in the beginning of December. The workshop had the duration of 3h-3:30 hours and I could not be more satisfied with how it went.

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Koffie Academie, Amsterdam.

 

So what are the most relevant insights I have learned in this workshop?

  • Real coffee is never be bitter
  • There are about 100 flavours of coffee, depending on its country of origin. The flavours are grouped into 9 overarching categories (i.e. sweet, floral, fruity, nutty/cocoa, spices, sour/fermented, green/vegetative, roasted, other). You can click here for an interactive coffee taster’s flavour wheel
  • I now know what are the most important features of an espresso machine
  • I have learnt how to properly evaluate the acidity, body and strength of coffee
  • I have learnt how to differentiate Asian from African coffee. While coffee from Asia (i.e. Indian malabar) is spicy and heavy, African coffee is lighter, thiner and hence more watery. Coffee from South America is something in between the two
  • I have learnt how to use a coffee grinder and a commercial espresso machine (trust me, it is really really exciting!) as well as how to pour the perfect heart cappuccino.

This is what the workshop entailed and the foundation skills I have learnt:

  • Harvesting, extraction, processing method and variety of coffee beans
  • Coffee roasting (i.e.how a coffee roaster works in order to bring out the best flavours from within a coffee bean)
  • Tasting and Cupping
  • Espresso shots and milk steaming
  • Latte art. I have made my very first heart shaped cappuccino (see below) using oat milk and I am SO stoked about it!!
  • Equipment operation and maintenance

This fun hands-on workshop made me fall more in love with the coffee industry as a whole. I feel inspired and certainly more determined to open my own coffee place one day. It really took my understanding of coffee to the next level and it was like I was tasting coffee for the very first time.

Here are some of photos of the workshop in case you are interested 🙂

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Coffee Roasting

 

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Cupping and Tasting
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Latte Art
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My first heart cappuccino

Are you also a coffee lover like me? Have you ever done a Barista workshop? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

In love with my bamboo toothbrush from Humble Co.

I think that our beautiful world could only benefit if we were all a little bit more mindful about the things we buy and consume; especially those we use on a daily basis like our toothbrush. I have bought my very first bamboo toothbrush around one year ago, at Vegenement, which is a Vegan Festival that took place where I live ( Utrecht, The Netherlands). Since this same festival took place again this year, just about three weeks ago, and I went there… you can guess what happened. I bought myself another bamboo toothbrush! 🙂 I am very pleased for having swapped my regular plastic toothbrush for a sustainable bamboo one. Hence why I am here today: to share my reasons for this happy swap and perhaps to motivate those of you who don’t have a bamboo toothbrush, to buy one and give it a go.

So, what do I like the most about using a bamboo toothbrush?

  • Contrary to plastic, bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, an attribute that offers a long-lasting protection against harmful bacteria. This way, I do not need to worry about potential nasty bacteria growing in my toothbrush
  • By choosing to use a sustainably-grown bamboo toothbrush, I am lowering my impact on the planet and ensuring that it will not be yet another toothbrush lingering in a landfill ..or, even worse, in our oceans and beaches. If it ends up there, it might end up by being consumed by marine life, which subsequently causes them harm. Also, a bamboo toothbrush does not contribute to air pollution as it so happens when the ones made of hard plastic are burnt (they release a toxic and greenhouse gases)
  • Bamboo is a material that is totally biodegradable (and can even be composted) and sustainable. It is actually the fastest growing plant on earth (i.e self-regenerated, rapid growth rate, super adaptable and resilient). Also, due to its naturally-occurring antimicrobial agents, its cultivation does not require the use of fertilisers or artificial pesticides, making it toxin-free.

I love to support any businesses and brands that are aligned with my personal values and interests (sustainability being one of them). It makes me truly happy to come across with entrepreneurs and business owners who are trying to make this world a better place.

Despite not doubting that most manufacturers of bamboo toothbrushes are a passionate bunch striving for greater sustainability, I think that is important to choose well. I must say that I could not be happier and more satisfied for having bought this last bamboo toothbrush. It is from the Swedish brand The Humble Co. and after some research and digging, I was amazed to find that this is not only a brand that cares about environmental responsibility but also about social responsibility. Thus, if you are looking to buy a bamboo toothbrush that is from a sustainable, transparent and trustworthy brand, I’d totally recommend Humble and Co. Here are all the reasons why:

  • It is 100% recyclable! .. but how so?

– The handle it is made of sustainably-grown bamboo which is 100% biodegradable as I have mentioned above

– The bristles are made of nylon-6, which is a long-lasting hygienic synthetic material with a low carbon footprint and that degrades over time

              – The box in which the toothbrush comes is made from recycled materials and its wrapper is compostable and made from plants (seriously, how awesome is this?)

  • It is organic, vegan and cruelty free, which means that you can rest assured that the bristles are not made of pig hair
  • It is BPA free due to its bristles being made of Nylon-6, a material that is naturally free from this toxin
  • You can choose between soft and medium bristles, which are actually the only two “hardness” types recommended by dentists
  • I really like its design and the toothbrushes are available in 6 different colours
  • I really value what this company stands for. It is an environmentally conscious brand that not only is aware of the plastic problem and of oral health care not being uniformly accessible across the nation but that also works to tackle these issues.
  • Every purchase goes towards funding professional and healthcare projects that benefit children in need. With its profits, Humble Co. donates either physical products (e.g. oral care products) or monetary resources to those that need them the most. This just confirm the company’s genuine intention to make a positive impact. It makes me feel good to know that by buying a bamboo toothbrush from Humble Co., I am supporting a business that is actually making a change in the environment and in the lives of many children
  • The toothbrush is developed by dentists who have put significant time into testing and refining proccedures to meet our needs. Knowing that my eco-friendly toothbrush was designed and produced under the guidance and supervision of professional assures me that it is adequate for my oral health care needs.
  • It has an affordable price (3,95€)

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Switching to a bamboo toothbrush might seem like a seemingly important thing but I, firmly, believe that it is by taking these seemingly irrelevant “SMALL steps” that we can make a “BIG difference”.

 

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Do you also own a bamboo toothbrush? If not, has this post somewhat convinced you to buy one? 🙂

Brief disclaimer: I am not being paid to promote this product nor was I offered it for free. I am just sharing a product that I have purchased because it has the potential to help us save the planet and because I love it.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful