On my bedside table.

One of last month intentions was to devote more time to read. Because I really wanted to follow through on this intention, I decided to make it specific by setting the goal of reading at least 10 pages 5 times a week (minimum). It may sound silly to set such specific intention that may even make the great act of reading sound like an obligation. However, I don’t mean to make it sound like that because that is really not the case for me at all. Setting this intention was just a way of motivating me to make “reading before bed”  one of my positive daily habits. I always go through phases when it comes to reading. There are times where i am completely hooked on it and other times when I am less so. However, now that I have developed this daily habit I get so excited about bedtime haha!

Every evening, thirty minutes to one hour before feeling ready to go to sleep, I switch off my mobile device, go to bed, pick up a book and read. I read until I feel like falling asleep. I love how a book has the wonderful power of helping me to quiten my mind, unwind and just sleep better.

Now I do not know about you guys but I am that kind of person who reads multiple books simultaneously. Though this is not something I am particularly proud of, I just can’t refrain myself from doing it. Trust me, I have tried haha I have this pile of books sitting on my bedside table and I am just so eager to read them.. and apparently all at once!! I have started them all and I am enjoying every and each one of them. Every time I finish a book, I say to myself “ok, now you are just going to focus on finishing to read all the other books that you alredy started. No more buying new ones until they are all read.” But oh well, I never seem to be able to stick to it (regardless of how many times I tell this to myself!). I feel like I always need to read a book that fits my mood and because my mood naturally varies from day to day, I need to have various options at hand………. Can anyone relate? 🙃

Anyhoo, today I am sharing the five books that are on my bedside table and that I am currently reading:

  • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer
  • The miniaturit by Jessie Burton 
  • The 4-Hour Work-Week by Tim Ferriss

 

Image-76.png

 

Is reading one of your joyful daily habits? If so, what book(s) is/are currently on your bedside table? Have you read any of these books or are you thinking to do it? Please let me know in the comment section below! I would love to know 🙂 Have a lovely Monday x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My Easter weekend in pictures.

I know, I know it is nearly June and Easter is long gone but.. I still would like to share some pictures and captions about this holiday since it held some real special moments! So let’s get straight into it 🙂

Friday

Because the company I work at gave us this paid day off, my Easter weekend started earlier. This was not only great but also much appreciated given the fact that at that point in time I was running on fumes. It was such a beautiful day of Spring. The sun was shinning and the weather was incredibly warm. I bought myself two bunches of gorgeous flowers and I also got to wear one of my favourite floral-print dresses. All in all, pretty simple things that make my soul very happy.

Image-52

This  day off gave me the perfect opportunity to go to a cafe, sit down and devote some time to writing. This is something that brings me peace and makes me feel grounded, especially when I am loaded down with work and have a lot on my mind.

 

Even though I love this cafe vibes, staff and overall service, I do not get to come here often because is a bit far from my house. Thus, I was so happy I could use my time off work to pay a visit.

Firstly, I ordered a cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk. Despite being a coffee lover, I try to avoid drinking it at weekends due to my (oftentimes slightly exaggerated) caffeine intake during the working week. One of the reasons why I love to come to this cafe in particular is because they have this freshly brewed coffee, whose beans they roast and grind there, with a really low caffeine percentage. It tastes just like regular coffee. Plus, everyone working at the cafe seems to have proper barista skills. The cappuccinos are always perfectly served with beautiful latte art on them.

I did some journaling whilst slowly sipping my delicious cappuccino and it was oh-so-lovely.

Image-73.png

After doing my journaling,  I decided to order a teapot of Oolong green tea and a vegan raw matcha and chocolate bar. This was a delicious focus booster and made me feel so inspired to write and just keep on writing some more.  I lost track of time and ended up by staying at the cafe for nearly 3 hours.

Raw treat made of toasted nuts, dates, chocolate, coconut, chocolate, lemon and matcha. It was so good that I am tempted to make it myself at home 🙃

Back in January, I deliberately took the decision of reducing my weekly workouts for the balance of my mind and body. However, despite no longer working out on Fridays, I really felt like moving my body when I left the cafe. As I was quite close to my gym, I decided to go there for a 1-hour workout. I did some weight lifting and core exercises and I really enjoyed. I usually go to the gym for certain group classes (HIIT, strength training, body combat, etc..) but this doing this different workout on my own was exactly what I was craving. And it felt great in the body (and mind).

I am all for trying new things (like this one) that test and challenge our mind and body in a positive way. Though it is important to assess and understand why we do what we do. What it seems to be a positive habit may actually have a not so positive intention or drive behind. This is something I learnt as a result of falling into the habit of overexercising (obsessively and in an unealthy way) in the past and of experiencing its resulting negative effects both in my mental and physical health.

I have been making a continuous conscious effort since June 2018 to approach fitness (and everything it entails e.g. eating) with balance in mind. I have come to learn that if something makes you feel good, that does not necessarily mean that more is better.. and I guess that it is great to realise that nowadays I am able to exercise out of a palce of abudance, rather than of lack. It is so empowering to be able to move my body in a way that feels good; in a way that feels right and without overdoing it, you know? Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to my Easter weekend.

So, after my gym session, I just went straight back home and cooked myself a good nourishing dinner. I actually felt inspired to try a new recipe that was on my list for a while.

How wonderful is it to feed our bodies with foods we enjoy whilst giving them the fuel and energy they so need to thrive?

file-6

This is the vegan version of a traditional Portuguese recipe (one of my fave actually) and was developed by @madebychoices . It is called Tofu à Brás (english name: tofu and mushrooms “à Brás”) and you can find right here It is soooo dang good and the ingredients could not be more simple! All you need is: sweet potato, leek, fresh coriander, mushrooms, white onion, firm tofu and a few spices and dried herbs. I did add green beans because I somehow seem to never be able to stick to a recipe haha For the perfect final touch, you should add black olives on top but sadly, I did not have them at the time. So, if you are keen to give this recipe a go, please make sure you have them at hand because I trust that they would make the dish even tastier!

Saturday

I went to my usual Saturday morning gym class. This is a group class of strength training intercalated with cardio exercises that I particularly love. While it is true that a great sweat is guaranteed, I always end up by having great fun. It is impressive the fitness instructor makes these classes the most intense, enjoyable and entertaining!

Gym was then followed by a good shower, the usual house chores and a late lunch. I end up by eating late on Saturdays most of the times because I always like to clean and tidy up the house first. Only when that is done can I actually relax and sit down to enjoy my meal (and well enjoy the weekend for that matter). Does anyone can relate?

The boyfriend arrived just after lunch time. He knocked on my door and I opened it only to find him standing there with a bouquet of pink tulips (my favourite). This really was a lovely surprise. He also got me some super yummy chocolate. It might be cliché to receive flowers and chocolate but… after being in a long-distance relationship for several years straight, these lovely gestures really have extra meaning for me. Plus, it is impossible not to be over the moon with unexpected flowers and chocolate, right? He surely knows how to own this girl’s heart haha

Image-64
How pretty.

Because a pretty cool looking spot with lots of outdoor seating had recently opened in my street, we decided to go there for the first time. We sat down in the bustling terrace and ordered a glass of prosecco and beer. The weather was absolutely perfect and we got to spend a great time soaking up some vitamin D and sharing laughs. What a well-spent afternoon.

Image-57

Image-68

Since the weather was still pretty warm when with we left the terrace, we decided to go for a short walk in the neighborhood.  How I love to be surrounded by this greenery and boat houses so typical from The Netherlands.♥

thumbnail_Image-51

Image-50

 

After the sun setting down, we went back home and had a chilled evening in. I made my coconut chickpea curry (recipe here) for dinner and we just called it a day.

Image-70.png

Sunday

I used to spend Easter at my home country with my family up until the second year after I moved abroad. At that time, I was really busy with my Master Degree, priorities changed and… I guess that life just happened. I still make Christmas at a home a must but Easter is now usually spent in The Netherlands, which is where I live for over three years now. This does not mean that Easter stopped being about family for me or that it has lost its meaning. Not at all. Easter is still about gathering around the table with my family and sharing a nice home cooked meal (aka an unbeatable feast). It is still about waking up and starting to cook right way. It is still about spending hours at the table indulging in finger lickin’ good food, sharing funny stories and laughing out loud.  It is still about going for a lovely walk all together in the late afternoon. It is still about valuing one another… and when it comes to all that, this year was no different. The thing is that it just involved less people and instead of talking with the fam in person, I talked with them over the phone. I still enjoyed it a whole lot. I still got to spend it doing the things I’d usually do and with someone who I dearly love: the boyfriend. I cooked us a brunch, we watched some episodes of Games of Thrones (since I was still stuck in season 3. shame on me, I know) and then we went for a sunny walk by the harbour near my house.

 

Image-58
Food dEATs: Rice crackers to dip in homemade hummus spinkled with paprika + lupin beans + leek, tofu and spinach quiche, organic chickpea puffs from @Hippeas, salad with mixed greens and traditionally Portuguese Easter bread. All vegan with the exception of the Easter bread that had a boiled egg on top for the boyfriend.
Image-67
..and I finally nailed down a foolproof recipe for making the most ethereally smooth, creamy and dollop-ing hummus! Because this recipe is from the amazing @pickuplimes , all credits should actually go to her!

Anyway, it ended up by being a really special Easter because it was actually the very first time that my boyfriend and I got to spend it together. Also, I was more than happy to cook us an Easter brunch. This is mainly because I see cooking for other people, especially for my dear ones, as an act of nurturing. It is one of my favourite ways of showing my love and care. My boyfriend really praised me and showed his gratitude for the food I cooked, which made it all worth.  Knowing that he really appreciates every time I cook a good (and well, sometimes not-so-good haha) hearty meal is a big motivator for me to keep on putting all my passion into creating and trying new recipes.

Monday

I had a very slow start to the week due to the Easter Monday. I let myself to natually wake up and made two waffles using chickpeas flour for breakfast. I topped one of them with fresh strawberries and caramel syrup* (shown in the picture below) and another one topped with dark tahini and a dash of cinnamon. I dellightfully ate them whilst writing my morning pages as per usual.

 

Image-71
Homemade freshly baked waffles are such a comforting treat.
*just to clarify: this syrup is one of those that is calorie, sugar and fat free and despite not being a big fan of this kind of products that is also free of nutrients, I decided to give this one a try. The main reason for that is its really short ingredient list with no wacky names. It is good to complement my waffles toppings but not to replace them 😉

Even though I really enjoy working out in the morning, I only have the chance to do it on Saturdays due to my work schedule. So for that reason, I decided to use the fact that I did not have to go to work and went for a full-body workout gym class.

After that I went grocery shopping for the week and then went home, took a much needed shower and cooked myself a good nutritious lunch.

Image-72
Food dEATs: Oven baked sweet potato chips + roasted turmeric, turmeric and ginger cauliflower florets + concoction of meat free mince from @quorn, green beans, mushrooms and spices + smashed avocado with lemon juice + fresh coriander leaves

 

One task that sat on my to-do list for, let’s call it, ” a considerable amount of time” was to spring cleaning my wardrobe. Finally I got round to doing it! It was about time to give my closet a spring refresh.

Declutering my wardrobe turned out to be so freeing and somehow physically relieving. It was like purging physical stuff opened up something on the inside too, you know?

I think that this just goes to show how items take up both physical and mental space. I am a firm believer that physical space and mental space go hand-in-hand. Because by freeing up physical space we are also able to freeing up mental space, declutering leads to greater mental clarity. Thus, if you feel like your brain is in serious overdrive, clearing out your closet might just do the trick! It surelly did it for me.

Image-53

I donated my clothes to charity with the hope that someone out there can give them a better use than I would. Plus, I find this to be a great way to recycle and to stop clothes from going to waste and end up in a landfill (a huge problem nowadays).

Also, now that I have done this spring cleaning to my wardrobe, I feel actually somewhat inspired to make the task of “mindfully decluttering” a more frequent thing in my life. I know I can only benefit from it because stuff I own but do not need can really take a toll in my mind.

As for the rest of my day, well I just relaxed, read a good book (picture below) and watched the movie “Mary Poppin returns”. Definitelly a classic fantasy/musical that made me feel nostalgic for my childhood.

 

Image-74.png

All in all, a long weekend taken really easy.  I hope you had a lovely Easter holiday/weekend filled with joy, love and good food!..and for those who do not celebrate it, I still hope you had a weekend filled with all those great things. ♥

Much Love, 

Blissfully Grateful

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

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 to let 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.

image-37.jpg

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.

Image-10.png-2.jpeg

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.

 

file3-1

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.

file2-2

file3-2

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.

file-3-2

The first real snowfall of this Winter.

file1-1

file-2-2

file2-1

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:

Image-7.png-3

 

Image-8.png-4

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.

Image.png-12.jpeg
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 🙂

Image-3.png-7.jpeg
Coffee Roasting

 

Image-2.png-10-e1546203004323.jpeg
Cupping and Tasting
Image-1.png-14
Latte Art
Image-4.png-6.jpeg
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€)

Image-5.png-5

Image-3.png-5

Image.png-5

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”.

 

thumbnail_Image-1

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

My Weekend Gratitude List – July 18

Friday (27th July)

I am grateful – oh so grateful – for the last weekend in Dusseldorf and for finally having opportunity to spend time with my best friend. I am  grateful for our reunion after 10 months and for realising that, no matter how much time goes by, there are things in life that never change. I am grateful for finally getting to see her first new apartment, for our homemade 3-course dinner out in the balcony on Friday evening and for how much thought and love my bestie put into it. I am grateful for the wine drinking under a gorgeous lunar eclipse and starry sky and for deep conversation about life and the Universe. I am grateful for all the dancing, shameless selfies and moments of pure bliss we shared together.

Saturday (28th July)

I am grateful for our slow Saturday morning. What a scrumptious brunch we had at home, followed by some self-care time that involved hair skin cleansing and moisturization and facial masks. I am grateful for feeling so worriless and at ease around her. I am grateful for the lovely cafe we went to, for the super friendly and ….for the person who invented frothy dairy-free cappuccinos! I am grateful for the time we spent planning our next trip together and for seeing that she is just as excited for it as I am. I am grateful for the time spent exploring Dusseldorf, for the great food we had for dinner at a Japanese restaurant and for the beauty that the city is by night.

Sunday (29th July)

I am grateful to hear that my bestie really enjoyed my visit and to realise that we do have an everlasting bond. I am grateful for our hugged goodbye that got us a little teary-eyed. I am also grateful for having had the opportunity of meeting this other close friend of mine, who has been sick for the last 5 days but is now feeling better. I am grateful for the catch up we had over a delicious vegan brunch that involved matcha pancakes with berries and açai bowls. I am grateful for our Sunday walk by the Rhine river and for the moments of laughter we shared. I am grateful for the perfectly sunny day with a nice breeze and for having had a smooth coach journey back home.

All in all, I am grateful for having people in my life who show me how wonderful it feels to live in the present moment and intentionally. I am grateful for having people in my life who make me forget that life might be a uphill task at times. I am grateful for having people in my life who believe in me, uplift me and see in me the person I want to see too. I am grateful for having amazing friends who make me cherish and treasure life. And, lastly, I am grateful for going to sleep with a smile in my lips and a heart filled with joy. ♥

courtney-hedger-336844-unsplash.jpg

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful