The best movies I have watched this year.

Hi everyone,

Before diving into the main subject of this blog post, I hope you all had a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a WONDERFUL START TO THIS BEAUTIFUL NEW DECADE.

 

Watching movies has always been one of my favourite pastime, regardless of whether they are new or past produced. Going to the theather or watching a movie from the comfort of my home (meaning being all curled up on my couch/bed in my comfy clothes) is undoubetedly one of my go-to forms of self-care. ♥ Thus, with a brand new year right here, what better way to embrace it than by reflecting on and writing about something I love: movies!!

Today I want to share my favourite movies of 2019! You might have heard about them as they are all fairly recent. These movies vary quite a bit from each other in terms of genre, storyline and acting but they are in my opinion all worth-watching. Let’s get started!

Green Book (2018)

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I firstly heard about this movie due to the various awards, golden globe and oscar it won and after watching it, I get why it has attracted so much attention.

The movie is based on a true story and it takes us on a journey about overcoming self-condemnation (homophobia and racism involved) and the wonderful feeling of freedom that results from it. It tells the story of how two seemingly different people (upgringing-, education-, life experience- and character-wise) became really tight and real friends over time. It also shows us how a genuine friendship (despite how unlikely it may seem to be) can be all we need in order to grow, evolve and change our life perception. We only need to be open to it so that we are able to put our own prejudices aside.

I absolutely loved how the story unfolded and, in my opinion, this movie has it all. A great, thought-provoking and solid scrip-writing, witiness and terrific acting. It is definitely a moving, eye opener and beautifully crafted movie.

Favourite quote:

“It takes courage to change people’s hearts.”

Bohemian Raphsody (2018)

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Queen is one of those unique bands that will live forever. Watching this movie reminded me of that and it sort of blew my mind away. It made me smile and laugh, sing and even tear up. The acting performances were absolutely amazing and I’d say that they perfectly portrayed the members of the band. I could feel the energy bursting through the screen all throughout the movie.

The Live Aid at the end of the movie was exquisitely recreated and just left me whishing I could have seen Queen live.

Favourite quote:

“I am exactly the person I was always meant to be. I’m not afraid of anything.”

The Lion King (2019)

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It was actually my partner who came up with the idea of going to the theather to watch The Lion King 2019 and I naturally agreed without even thinking twice! Its original release in 1994 was, in my opinion, one of Disney’s greatest hits and, for that reason, I was really looking forward to watching the remake on the big screen!

Despite what many critics say about this newer version of The Lion King, I personally really enjoyed the movie. I was so excited to watch it and after doing so, I happily say that it lived up to my expectations. The scenes were very captivating due to the photorealistic computer-generated imagery and the voice work was great. Timon and Pumbaa stole the show. They’re one hilarious duo and I laughed out loud (perhaps even too loud at times #sorrynotsorry).

Even though there were two new tracks, specifically written for the remake, featuring Elton John and Beyoncé, I was happy to realise that all my favourite songs from the original movie were incorporated. You should have seen me proudly mumbling the lyrics all throughout the movie! haha

In my opinion, this remake added something “new” to the original version while staying true to it. It retells the heartwarming story that we all know with enhanced visuals and some nice new “freshness”! Definitely an entertaining watch that brought back a sense of sweet nostalgia.

Brief remark: my boyfriend and I decided to buy the tickets for the 3D version and we both thought that it was not worth the extra money. The movie did not really utilize the 3D technology. I honestly do not think that the few 3D effects made it any more special or realistic. The movie in its regular 2D version is alreaady a technological achievement in itself.

Favourite quote:

“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe with you.”

 

Joker (2019)

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This movie exceeded my expectations and it was certainly worth the money spent on the theather tickets. Brilliant scenography as well as grotesque and haunting performance from Joaquim Phoenix. His character development was absolutely outstanding and he is honestly such a certified legend!

I am aware of the critic reviews claiming that it is a movie that encourages real-world violence but I certainly do not perceive it as such. I think that rather than seeing Joker as a movie that inspires antisocial violence and extremist behaviours, we should see it as one that inspires us to treat one another with respect so that everyone feels like they belong in this world. In my opinion, Joker illustrates – in a very raw and realistic way -how emotionally debilitating loneliness and isolation can be. I would also say that it is also somewhat a critique to society because it shows the bureaucratic indifference that is oftentimes given to mental illness.

Just to round up my thoughts, Joker is simply a cinematic masterpiece and a powerful political statement. If you haven’t watched it yet, then I’d recommend it to do so.

Favourite quote:

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

Klaus (2019)

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Even though I love a good animated movie all year round, I find it even more enjoyable if watched during Christmas. In my family, we only open our presents at 00:00 of Christmas day. We play board games until it is time for our big family dinner (aka feast) on Christmas Eve and then we watch a movie all together to keep us awake until the stroke of midnight. Klaus was the movie we picked this year and little did I know that it would be such a great, funny and heart touching one.

I found the story to be quite original. The characters were grounded and I also really enjoyed how great the visuals were.

This movie is sure to spark laughs just as much to invoke tears and it has certainly become one of my absolute favourite Christmas animations. It is a true “feast for the eyes, mind and heart”.

Favourite quote:

“A true act of goodwill always sparks another.”

 

Have you watched any of these 5 movies? If so, how did you like them? Also, what were the favourite movies you have watched in 2019?

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My takeaways from a busy week at work.

My 1-month work probationary period ended on the 1st November and I passed it: YAY!!

The week prior to it was also my very first crazy busy week at this (now not so new anymore) job. I feel like it taught me a lot and because I think we can learn a lot from other people’s stories and experiences, I would like to share my main takeaways from it in this blog post.

As you know, I like to keep things real here and I am not going to lie..It was quite a rough week and I got home feeling both frustrated and mentally drained in most of the days. Even though I was working for long hours, I still felt like I was lagging behind work. Subsequently, I started to think that perhaps I was not picking things as quickly as I should or that my reasoning was not as sharp as it was expected from me. Basically that negative self-talk – that is nothing else than a bunch of BS – came around. To make things worse, this was also a week of overall bad sleep mainly due to the self-imposed pressure of wanting to perform well during my first financial month end closing in the company… Thankfully I have a partner who gives pep talks like no one and he reminded me that my self-worth is not defined by how “good “or “less good” my days at work might go. He also reminded me to just see the situation as it is, instead of trying to make something of it. I tried to follow his advice and just take one day at a time. I managed to do all my tasks (some with additional support from my manager and others without) on time, everything went well and I felt proud of myself and of how much effort I put into c. All I needed was to give myself some grace and time to get “my feet on the ground” in my new job position.

Once my week reached to an end, I went home and just poured my thoughts down on paper. This is something that never fails to bring me groundedness and mental clarity. Journaling about my first busy period at work helped me to put things in perspective and made me realise these takeaways. So, with no additional digressions, here are my lessons learnt:

 

  • If I want to to do my job well at all times, I need to be able to dettach my sense of self-worth from unexpected issues that arise and from any mistakes I might do. In other words, when things are not going as I had hoped for, I must get focused, not emotional.
  • It is never about winning or losing. I am either winning or learning (wise words from Nelson Mandela) and there is a lesson in every struggle.
  • I do not have to perceive my days as just “good” or just “bad”. I can have a day with some ups and downs and not
  • I need to stop being so self-critical. My harsh inner critic robs me of mental strength and that is the last thing I need when I am faced with a struggle.
  • I can’t keep on preaching about self-love and then be so hard on myself.
    • If I make a mistake, I should move on from it and find a solution for it. Nobody sees an apology as an useful thing unless I am offering something of value in return. So, when I make a mistake, I should think of a way to fix it. My mental energy should go into finding a solution instead of immediately apologising for it, internalising it and feeling like I am failing at doing my job right.
  • While this is certainly a challenging job, it is also one that I am really enjoying doing and one that is sure to make me grow both personally and professionally. And these are all good enough reasons to feel grateful for it. Plus, this exactly the kind of job I wished for so long. Things at work will get hectic and life will get chaotic from time to time and that is ok. I should be grateful for that and just remember when I wanted what I currently have.On that note, these busy days at work really showed me how gratitude is the way to go.

Gratitude will always bring me back to myself. ♥

 

Funnily enough, after writing all these points down, I realised that you can actually take them to all realms of your life. They really are applicable to all sitautions we may go through in life.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and would love to know in the comment section below if you would like to share a different lesson/takeaway from a stressful and busy and/or rough time you have had at work? Also, how do you cope with times like that? I am always open and eager to hear about other people’s experiences! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Deliciously Ella, deli. (London, The UK)

When I flew to London for my sister’s Phd graduation earlier this year, I had the chance of visiting one of Deliciously Ella’s delis. I enjoyed it so much that I felt an urge to write a post about it. However, before jumping straight to my review about it, a brief introduction to Deliciously Ella and the reasons behind my enthusiasm might help. So, here it goes!

I am a big fan of Ella Mills, the 28-years-old British food blogger better known as “Deliciously Ella”. What I really admire about Ella and her work is the genuine passion she puts into creating recipes and her balanced approach to eating. Through her recipes and the brand she has built around them, she encourages a diet that is mainly focused on whole plant-based foods. Something I also stand by.  More recently, I have also got into her podcast, in which she discusses some topics that I am really passionate about. She has guests over to talk about physical and mental heath, wellness, veganism, environmental sustainability and the process of building a brand.

Even though I had been to London many times before, I had actually never been to one her supper clubs, pop ups or delis. For that reason, this time I made sure that I would go to one of her famous delis.

I loved the ambiance the moment I set foot in the deli. This is how beautiful and inviting it looks inside:

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Overall atmosphere

I really liked the modern and light-filled space and its minimalistic decor. Even though it may get easily packed with people due to its limited seating, I’d say that the waiting time is worth. There were no seats available when we got there (at around 3pm on a weekday) but, gladly, it took us only about 5-10 mins to get a table. We would not mind waiting more if we had to since we were there on a mission anyway haha. Plus, we got a really nice table just by one of the big front windows. It was perfect for the food photography! Double win.

There were also some of Ella’s food products (e.g. granola, energy balls, oat bars..) available on and behind the counter, which is very convenient for those who are curious to try them.

Food

My sis, mum and I came to this deli feeling quite hungry and looking forward to some lush plant-based food. The food certainly did not disappoint in the slightest and everything we ordered was right up our alley.

Whilst my sis went for a dish from the set menu, mum and I decided to build our own bowl. My sis had the Pesto pevide massa with cherry tomatoes and arugula with a ginger kombucha. Mum chose the harissa chickpea & sweet potato stew, the lentils and her crisp-tender wild broccoli with lemon and almonds and the lentils and herby mint salad. I went for the spiced tahini roasted cauliflower, cabbage & beet coleslaw, sweet corn fritters (so YUMMY and not greasy at all) and a crazy-good creamy mint pea hummus.

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Everything – literally everything – tasted as delicious as it looks.

Service and staff

The service was efficient but the staff was not the most welcoming and friendliest, which was a shame really. I have no doubts of how much love and care goes into the recipes Ella creates and the successful business she runs. However, the staff working at her deli just did not seem to be very attentive or share that same passion.

Pricing

I found the food portion sizes to be decent and reasonably priced (ranging from 9£ to 12£) for London’s standards.

Location

The deli is centrally located in a quite road (Weighhouse street), just behind Oxford Street.

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So, just to wrap up my thoughts, coming here for a late lunch was undoubtedly one of the food highlights of my latest trip to London. It was great to experience Ella’s work up close, which I find to be very inspiring. She is definitely someone I look up to for the way she built her brand and for how passionately she promotes it. Plus, I got to spend a lovely time sharing some delicious vegan food with my mum and sis. ♥

It is no news that London has its fair share of absolutely gorgeous cafes serving great food but if I were you, I would put this one right on that list!  Thus, if you happen to be in London and you are a lover of more whole and plant-based foods, then you won’t to miss out this gem!

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

August & September highlights.

It’s been a hot minute since my last blog post of monthly highlights but l have been struggling to find time to dedicate to this platform. Anyways, I am now here to share my August and September highlights! These two months were – with any doubts – life changing and  I decided to combine the highlights of both in one post since some of the things that happened in August led to others that happened in September.

I don’t know about you guys but I personally love to list everything significant that happens in every month. I think that doing this “monthly check-in”/review encourages self-reflection, increases my self-awareness and offers me the chance to track my progress. Plus, I also see it as an excellent way for acknowledging our small wins and milestones and find empowerment in all the things that are sent our way. Anyhoo, as I was saying, a lot has happened and I feel like my life did a 360 degrees turn within just a couple of months. Change has been a constant (like never before really) and I guess that it will some time for everything to really sink in and become the “new normal”. In the meantime, all I can say is:

I am grateful for where I am at and excited for where I am going.

I will stop digressing now and just get to onto my August and September 2019 highlights. Here they are:

August

  • I renewed my passport in preparation for my big 2019 trip that took place in September!
  • I went to the 2019 Pride Parade in Amsterdam. Even though it was my third time there, it was actually the first time I went with my boyfriend! We had so much fun watching the parade whilst drinking some nice prosecco!
  • I travelled to Germany in order to spend a girls weekend with the best friend in the whole wide world. I missed her so much and was so looking forward to spending 2 entire days with her! We talked for hours and hours, went out to party, had a wonderful homemade dinner and brunch in the next day, had some proper girls time taking care of our skin, spoiled each other with gifts, relaxed and went out to a really nice brunch place! I also had the chance of catching up with another close of friend of mine who is currently living in Dusselfdorf and it could not have been better.
  • I participated in a Basketball competition at work and, surprisingly, I did quite well! I’d describe myself as someone who is outdoorsy and sporty but basketball was never jam. However, I guess, that this just went to show how silly are some of the pre-conceived ideas we have about ourselves.
  • I finally bought myself a pink Fujifim Instax mini camera! I bought it especially for my trip to New York because I want to make a travel scrapbook with all the polaroids! I think that analog photography is quite special because you can’t delete the photos or apply a filter, which we do so automatically nowadays. I love the idea of the polaroids being a pure and raw reflection of the moment that we can keep forever.
  • I came to the realisation earlier this year that I was ready for a new professional challenge. I was not finding my job trully fullfiling or challenging anymore and, hence, I decided to explore the possibility of getting a new job. I am of the opinion that you should find joy in the work you do. Oherwise what is point of dedicating so many hours of your life to it? That being said, around mid-August I was unexpectedly contacted by two companies that are very different from each other (business sector- and work approach-wise). One of them is an Australian Digital marketing and Social media company and the other one is an American outdoor clothing company (that I wanted to work for ages!!). Both are big companies with their headquarters in Amsterdam and both were offering very interesting job positions and career prospects. I went to several rounds of interviews and ended by receiving a final job offer from both.
  • I happily accepted the job offer from the American company because it is a company that I look up to not only for its vision and ethics but also for its outstanding work when it comes to environmental and social activism.  I truly believe that you will always find more meaning (and inspiration) in your job when you work for a company whose values and principles are the ones you stand by. I am still so happy and deeply grateful for having had this job opportunity!
  • Following the above highlight, I resigned from the job I had for nearly 2.5 years. I handed out my letter of resignation to my manager and shortly after, I called a meeting with my team to communicate my decision. I felt a mix of nervousness and excitement but it all went well.
  • I finished the book: The good wife strikes back by Elizabeth Buchan. Finishing a good book is something I consider a highlight. I love the power that a simple book has to pull you back to the present moment and transport to other realms. It does not matter how much stress or countless issues you are dealing with, it all just seems to slip away when you lose yourself in a good or entertaining story. Even though this is not one of the best novels I have read because I could not feel very connected to the characters, it was still an entertaining and good enough read.

September

  • Due to my NY trip approaching, I decided to watch the movies “You’ve got mail” and “When Harry met Sally”. Yup, this was another highlight because I really enjoyed my time watching these movies that so lonvingly emboded NY city’s Upper West Side neighborhood. These are just two of those all-time classic movies that you need to watch, regardless of whether you are a fan of cheesy romantic comedies or not.
  • I received free tickets to watch my first football match in The Netherlands, in which AJAX (considered as one of the best Dutch teams) is going to play!
  • Finding an unshared flat to live in the biggest Dutch cities is a real challenge in itself (let alone at a reasonable price). There is considerably more demand than offer.. However, it seems like – after 2 rounds of applications – I was allocated an apartment at a building, whose end of construction is due in December! It t is going to be a brand new flat in a super central location and it is going to have a balcony (something I never had ever since I moved to The Netherlands)! The keys handover is planned to take place in December and I cannot wait to move in! It still does not feel quite real to me.
  • Got to spend my 26th birthday in NY with my boyfriend. It was not only my very first time in the Big Apple but also and the first birthday that I got to share with my partner (from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep). He really made me feel like one very special and lucky girl. ♥
  • My granny passed away on my birthday and this was undoubtedly one of the greatest losses I have ever experienced (and still am experiencing).
  • I did a Yoga Vinyasa class at Central Park. It was amazing to feel the Earth right beneath me and connect within whilst being surrounded by so much greenery.
  • I bought my sister 2 tickets to watch the musical “Book of Mormom” in London for her 30th birthday. She will soon move out of the city and I knew that this is one of the few great musicals she had not watched it yet. It feels so good to be able to afford gifting your beloved ones with an experience they’ll hopefully enjoy and remember for a long time.
  • Three days later after coming back from NY (gladly did not suffer from jet lag), I flew to my homecountry in order to spend a week with my family. We had some proper quality time together and went on a 3-day mini holiday to El Grove, Vigo and Cies Islands (Galicia,Spain). I think we all needed some relaxing and bonding time in family.
  • During my holiday in Portugal, I went for a full-body massage and treated my mum to one too.
  • In honour of Fall’s arrival, I have baked my very first pumpkin spice loaf bread. and it turned super tasty. Yup, that is right guys. This is indeed a big highlight for me. I baked it when I went home for a week vacation and mum and dad loved it. It was vegan and I sorted came up with the recipe based on two that I had looked up online. I was quite surprised with how tasty it actually turned out!
  • On the last day of September (just 1 day after coming back from Portugal), I had the farewell from my previous company. This was a new experience for me because I got this job when I was a just a 22-year-old girl coming straight out of Universtity. It was my first real job and for that reason the farewell felt specail. My team took me out for a last lunch at a very nice restaurant just by a lake. It made me very happy to see the entire team (including the two people who are based in Germany) all around the table for my farewell.
  • I received lots of meaningful gifts, which made me realise how thoughtful my ex-colleagues were (and how well some of them knew me). However, getting a big card with the best wishes of 55 people was the most special gift of all. Many of these people also congratulated me for having the “courage” of following my dreams and that really spoke to my heart.
  • I got to travel to 4 different countries within juts 6 weeks: Germany, U.S., Portugal and Spain.
  • These 2 months showed me that going through the best and worst times in our life really reveals who our true friends are. This was also a highlight in itself. I received extra love and unexpected heartfelt messages and phone calls from my closest friends all throughout these months, which added additional meaning to what I went through.

These were two months of lots of emotions. I still find myself trying to wrap my head around of everything that happened (and it is still happening). If I think too much about all these recent events I can’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed by them all… But I feel deeply grateful too. Each one of them taught me a lot about myself and these are the main takeaways I’d like to end this post with:

  1. Even though change is a positive thing and is needed, it can make us feel rather overwhelmed. Thus, just know that you can welcome change into your life and still take it day by day.
  2. Life happens and sometimes all at once but one thing is for sure: we are all worth of new beginnings.

Okaaaay this post turned out to be longer than I had expected!… but hopefully you found it a bit interesting, rathen than insanely boring?!

Please let me know in the comment section below if you too are someone who finds pleasure in writing down the monthly highlights! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

October Intentions.

Even though a minute ago was still July, we are already halfway the month of October and November is on its way. The air has become crispier, the nights are coming sooner and Mother Nature is now just showing off its fiery colours. Fall has always been my favourite; not only because how beautifully the world around us changes but also because of everything it represents. Fall is a season of change. A season of renewal. A season of letting go of the old and welcome the new. And I have never felt all of this like I am currently feeling this year.

“Fall. Everything about this season guides me home, signals me to settle back into myself.” – @mamaeatsplants

My life gave a 180 degrees turn during the last couple of months. When I quit my job at the end of August to accept another one that is more aligned with my interests and ambitions at the company that I have been wanting to work for ages, I was so sure a new season was approaching. Well, I was not wrong. A new one was indeed approaching, not only in terms of “real seasons of the year” but also in terms of seasons of life.

It is easy to fall into the habit of running on “automatic” for routine tasks with little thought to our intentions and emotions. Everytime I experience a big change in my life, I like to just force myself to stop, breathe and take time for self-reflection and real instropection. Sometimes I really need to shift my focus and energy from goals and seemingly endless to-do lists to real simple intentions. When I do this, I become more aware of my thoughts and own feelings. Plus, I have come to realise that it can be pretty easy to get bogged down in the small day-to-day stuff and, as a result, lose sight of the things that really matter to me. For that reason, I am happy to have found that the act of setting intentions helps me to re-center myself in my own being and to reframe my thinking. It allows for a good mental review and reset, which sometimes is all we need to be at the top of our game.

Without further ado, these are my 7 intentions for this month:

  1. Make time for Online Dutch classes and make a greater effort to speak Dutch.
  2. Prioritise self care by taking better care of my skin.
  3. Go to bed earlier during the working week in order to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  4. Get back into my Yoga practice.
  5. Finish the book I am currently reading: “Autumn” by Ali Smith.
  6. Make time to catch up with friends over a nice cup of coffee or tea.In order ways, to create time and space into my schedule
  7. Get outside in order to appreciate Nature displaying its fiery fall colours.

… and ere are a few photos that I took to illustrate some of my above intentions! 🙂

 

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Now, just a small reminder as this post is coming to an end: Intend for everything you wrote down to work out as it should but then let it all go and allow opportunities to come your way. When setting intentions, dettachment from the outcome may not come naturally to us but I see as fun-da-men-tal. So, all in all, live with intention, embrace the uncertainty and be happy on your own terms. ♥

 

Are you someone who usually sets intentions? Have you set any for the month of October or for the current fall season? If so, please share below. I’d love to hear what you have chosen to focus your energy and attention on! 🙂

Wish you a lovely week ahead x

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Live the story you want to tell.

So much has happened over the past 7 weeks. There was a 180 degree change in my life. Many of the things that I have been wishing to happen for the past year or so have finally happened and one thing is for sure… I am so grateful for where I am right now and I am so excited about where I am heading to.

As I wake up this morning in my semi-dark bedroom, at the house I grew up in, and hear the rain outside..I feel nothing but joy and gratitude. I am currently on vacation in my homecountry and it feels like this is the best way to say goodbye to the current season of my life. A new phase is approaching. I will be welcoming a new season of life in exactly one week. A season that is sure to bring forth new opportunities, challenges, learning and growth.  If there is one thing that I have come to realize is that we should “Live the story we want to tell”. And, for this, we should bear in mind two very important things. Firstly, we are the changemakers and the change we seek is oftentimes within us. Secondly, our story can be reshaped every time we decide so.

 

I hope you have enjoyed to read this short post! Enjoy the rest of your week xx

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Cloud Cakes (Paris, France).

With my 26th birthday just around the corner, I found myself reminiscing about how my last birthday morning started last year. This post has been a long time coming but I wanted to share it with you regardless 🙂

My boyfriend and I travelled to Paris last September to not only celebrate our love but also my birthday (two great cheesy excuses to travel, right? haha)! Anyways, as the morning person who lives for breakfasts that I am, one of my birthday wishes was to start my day with a big and special one! That was exactly what happened and I loved every second (as well as every bite of it). I think that my boyfriend knows pretty well by now that all he needs to do to own my heart is to feed me a nice and yummy breakfast haha!

We went to Cloud Cakes, a dainty vegan bakery and coffee shop in the centre of Paris that I had looked up on Happy Cow* (see notes at the end of the post) prior to our trip. After reading the positive reviews, seeing some photos of the food and realising that they had VEGAN CROISSANTS, I knew for a fact that this was the place to go for my birthday breakfast! I am so glad we went there because it did not disappoint in the slightest!

If the menu looks very appealing, I can be someone pretty undecided when it comes to making my mind up about what to eat. For that reason, whenever I go to a food spot for breakfast/brunch, I usually like to order at least two items from the menu and share them. This way I get to experience a variety of tastes and trying something to eat that is “new” and/or “unknown” does not look like a major commitment!

Food

Whilst deciding on what to eat, we ordered two soya cappuccinos. They were excellent and the fact that the latte art was on point immediately felt like a win. Anyways, after some considerable thought, we ordered the “sweet morning toast” with peanut butter and jam, the pancakes with whipped cream, fruits, sliced almonds and maple syrup (on a side) and of course…a croissant! I mean I just could not possibly go to Paris and not eat a freshly baked croissant, could I?

Even though the two pancakes came beautifully presented and tasted good, my boyfriend ended up by eating them because I they were a bit too sweet for my liking. I would also like them to be a little bit thicker but the texture really is down to personal preference.

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However, I did love the delicious combo of P&J on toast. The two toasts came with poppy seeds and fresh blueberries on top which I dount to be a real great twist. I was also quite impressed with how crazy-good the vegan croissant was! Totally on point (taste- and texture-wise)!! It totally exceeded my expectations so you can trust me when I say that these vegan croissants are an absolutely must. I though I’d never find one of those!

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“When you feed yourself what your body needs when it needs it, that’s love”.

The cafe also outlets a good variety of vegan cakes and cupcakes and it has you covered whether you want to go for something decadent or healthy! We will certainly have to come back to try them.

Staff, service and overall atmosphere

Even though the place was not full at all, we had to wait quite a bit to be served but we did not mind too much because it just meant that the pancakes were freshly made! The server spoke English and was friendly enough. Nevertheless, we did not find her to be super accommodating. She did not come to check on us once we were served nor did she ask how did we like the food when we paid for it. It is not something outrageous but, as I have mentioned in some other posts, a café/restaurant always scores extra for me when the service is excellent and the staff friendly and attentive.

When it comes to the cafe’s overall atmosphere and space, I loved how cozy and pretty it was. The attention to detail was pretty visible. However, I would advise to go in early-ish for breakfast because it is also small and it does not have plenty of seating. I think we were quite lucky with the time and day we went there (Thursday at 10am) because there were only 4 other customers in the cafe. Thus, just bear in mind that if you go later (and especially in the weekend) in the morning/day you may not get a seat.

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This 10 am breakfast was the proper fuel we needed to face the full day of exploration ahead. It was so filling that, believe it or not, I could not literally eat anything else until dinner time! Now just to wrap up my final thoughts and to hopefully convince you to come to this vegan cafe:

  • The menu has a really great and tempting variety of sweet and savoury options. Because everything is plant-based there is no need to worry with the ingredients that they contain 😉
  • The café’s atmosphere is really inviting and the entire place looks cozy and adorable
  • The location is in a central and lovely neighbourhood to roam around
  • 100% vegan food spots are not overly common in Paris and that is a reason in itself why Cloud Cakes is quite a gem!
Notes:
*Happy Cow is an online website and mobile app that serves as guide to vegetarian and vegan restaurants all across the world.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

Dear Granny

Dear Granny,

I know you are hurting inside out but I need you to keep on holding.

Please. Just hold on for a little bit longer. Can you do that for me Granny?

I acknowledge that this is a very selfish thing to ask from you

but I need to see you once last time.

I need to hug you tight and tell you how much I love you.

And I know you will be staring back at me

with your eyes tearing up and wanting to say it back.

You will open your mouth and your voice will fail

but hey, it is okay. I know you do too.

I have always known because your acts of pure kindness

have showed me that

since the very first moment I opened my eyes to this world.

The problem is that you have always had a too big of a heart

You shared it with so many people

That you are now left with so little of it for yourself.

I feel angry, sad and hopeless.

After all, I have known you for all my life

and I just can’t bear the thought of having to learn to live a life

where you are no longer part of it.

I know your heart is weak and your breath is failing

I know your mind just wants to leave your physical body

And I can only imagine your pain.

The pain of being in a body that refuses to cope with your mind

I can’t blame you for wanting to leave and go meet grandpa

But I need you to keep on fighting

because soon I will be home to hold your hand

whilst whispering how lucky I am to (still) have you.

So please, please Granny, just hold on for a little bit longer. 

When I went home a couple of months ago, mum gave me some of the plums she picked up from your backyard. Just like how I remembered them to be: vivid purple colour, big, sweet and so juicy. I ate them with so much appreciation, gratitude and nostalgia. And you know what? They tasted like my childhood and I just wish the taste could last forever because it reminds me of you, my dear Granny.

Time is the most precious gift you can give to someone. — Gloria Tesch

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My trip to Budapest: What I loved the most

This post is long overdue. As I wrote in the post Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary), I travelled to Budapest in November of last year. It was an amazing trip with my best friend, in which we fell in love with the beauty of the city. Though there were a myriad of things I loved about Budapest, if you were to ask me to name the 5 things I enjoyed the most, these would be my answer:

  1. The jaw-dropping night views

Even though Budapest is beautiful during the day, I must say that when the sun sets down it is like the entire city gains a new life. The city slowly evolves as the day goes by and it has a special charm after dark that I can’t put into words. You have to see and experience it yourself.

All monuments become beautifully illuminated and the light gives them a whole new meaning. The Danube, the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, the Parliament get all lit by night. So in case you are planning to visit Budapest any time soon, I would highly encourage you to go for a walk at night time along the river banks. I can promise you that you will be left swoon at the stunning sight.

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2. Its countless beautiful cafes/restaurants and characteristic ruin pubs 

I think that a big deal of success of any coffee shop or restaurant is the atmosphere and culture created in it. When I visit a new spot for food or just for a cup of coffee, I want it to have a welcoming and comfortable environment. An inviting atmosphere where I lose track of time whilst having a good conversation with my friends/family/boyfriend . Because I am a huge fan of journaling or getting some work done at coffee shops, I love when I feel that the space is inspiring and builds creativity.  This was definitely the case  of this cafe we got to visit in Budapest.

 

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Seriously guys..how beautiful and special does it look? We ended up here randomly and were so glad we did. We stopped by in order to recharge our batteries with a hot beverage and got positively surprised by the cozy atmosphere and amazing decor the moment we stepped in.

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We also went to this ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, on our first evening in Budapest and it is one of the coolest places I have ever been! It is basically a giant pub that was set up in a crumbling and abandoned building; a place full of mysticism, where chaos, eclecticism and vintage design meet.

3. The dip-based dishes and Shakshouka

When my best friend and I get together we are all about chatting whilst nibbling on something. So if you, just like us, are all about it too and love warm flatbread paired with a good hearty and creamy dip… then Budapest is certainly the place to go to! We ate all the hummus, tahini, muhammara and baba ganoush we could possibly eat haha. I mean… you can never get enough, can you? We tried all sorts of dips in various places and we were not disappointed. They were all unbelievably creamy, super rich in flavour and oh-so-tasty. My friend has no dietary restrictions but I do not consume meat or dairy. We ate out nearly for every meal and this did not represent a problem. Even though traditional Hungarian cuisine is known to be heavy on meat and cheese, flatbread with dips and Shakshouka seemed to be part of every menu. So if you are vegetarian or vegan, fear not! You aren’t going to be missing out on the local cuisine 🙂

Despite following a diet that is mostly plant-based, I do eat eggs occasionally. For that reason I was able to have my very first shashouka and I loved every mouthful of it.Even though this is a dish originally from North Africa, it is very popular in Hungary.  For those of you who do not know, Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached/stewed in a fresh tomato sauce with chilli pepper and garlic. The one I ordered came topped with fresh coriander, roasted aubergine and a drizzle of tahini. It was absolutely heavenly.

 

Restaurant Dombrumba

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Restaurant Mazel Tov

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4. The thermal baths

Sadly, I got an ugly cold right on my second day in Budapest. Lucky me, hey? I woke up with a running nose, a sore throat and feeling a bit light headed. As you can imagine, the last thing I wanted was to fall sick and have the whole trip spoiled. As a good cup of lemon and ginger tea is my immunity-boosting natural remedy of choice, I made sure I drunk it first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. Every single day. It did not seem to make my cold go away but at least it did not make it worse. Anyway, on our third evening in the city we decided to got to the thermal baths. Even though this was one of the things that I was super excited to do, I was also a little bit fearful that it would make my cold worse. Nevertheless, I just had to do it because, despite being a popular attraction for tourists, it still is a public comfort for the locals. So knowing myself as I do, I was sure that I would regret skipping this experience.

We chose to go to Rudas Baths as per advice of our Airbnb owner. Apparently this thermal bath is as just as good as the other ones but less touristy. We went there at around 7pm and we thoroughly enjoyed our time. It was just the perfect way to wind down after a cold day of touring the city.

Rudas Baths

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There was this jaccuzzi on the roof terrace and it had an amazing view over the city. Priceless.

5. “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market”  with a local

What I enjoy the most about travelling is the possibility of immersing myself into the destination and the locals. Even though I like to do some touristy things, such as visiting certain monuments/museums or going on a walking tour, what I truly seek when traveling is to discover hidden gems, mingle with the locals and dive into the local culture. Traveling really is about venturing into the new, the unknown, the unfamiliar. I love leaving the destination with enriching life experiences and new knowledge about the language, the people and their unique lifestyle habits.

As my best friend shares this same view when it comes to travelling, we decided to buy an “experience” through AirBnb! I don’t know if you know it already but this online platform not only offers short-term accommodation but also experiences that allow you to delve into the local culture. The experience was called “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market” . We booked it for Sunday morning, which was our last full day in Budapest. We were actually the only people who attended it on that specific day, which in my opinion just turned the whole experience more special. The Hungarian guide, Reka, was a self-proclaimed travel foodie and we learnt so much about the local cuisine in Hungary with her. She talked about its influences, the most popular dishes and what are ingredients and spices most commonly used. She was super friendly and we could really connect with her through the act of cooking and tasting delicious food. The entire experience lasted for about 2.5 hours and it was absolutely worth. It was about 10:30am when we arrived to the market and we had a shot of Pálinka, the national fruity firewater waiting for us haha. No objections allowed. Remember when I wrote that I got a sore throat on my second day in Budapest?… well not anymore after drinking the shot! haha

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We actually messaged Reka before booking this cooking and tasting session and we asked her if this experience was still worth and appropriate for someone who does not eat meat or dairy products. She answered that the main dish could be cooked with no animal-derived products and that there were many vegan options for us to try at the farmers market. I really liked the fact that Reka was super flexible and did not pose any issues. We purchased the experience and we were so glad we did because it turned out to be so enjoyable and vegan-friendly.

The dish we cooked together was the Hungarian semolina dumpling soup (Grízgaluska leves). Its tradition version has pork liver dumplings but those were added separately to my friend’s plate. Funnily enough she did not really liked them and said that she would have preferred the soup made vegan like mine was.

While the soup was cooking, Reka took us on a tour around the market. We got to try food from every single stall. I skipped the stalls where cheese and sausages were being sold but I still got to eat so many things, such as vegan cheesecakes, raw cookies, granola, nuts, jams and chutneys. Everything was sourced locally, organic and homemade. The people selling these food items were so chatty, friendly and passionate about what their products. We had a great time!

 

After eating all sorts of foods, we were not sure if we had any room left for the soup… but when we noticed how yummy it looked and smelled, we changed our minds and agreed that we could certainly make room for it! haha

Anyway, here is the final result:

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Directly from the farmers’ market to the table. So hearty and comforting. We paired it with homemade mulled wine, which totally warmed us up.

This really was the best way we could have experienced the local culture. The market (and Reka) gave us an experience that we have not experienced anywhere else. We had the chance of connecting with the locals,  learn about the local cuisine and chow down delicious Hungarian food. We left the place feeling so happy, satisfied and full! 🙂

 

Our trip really was amazing and memorable. Travelling showed me once again that there is no one way to live life and that is just wonderful. ♥ Plus, Budapest is a pretty affordable city with such an unique charm and I definitely recommend it to any travellers. I hope you enjoyed to read this post and please let me know in the comment section bellow if you’ve ever been to Budapest or if it’s on your travel plans. If you have been to this city what did you enjoy the most? 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Grilled tofu skewers (VGN & GF)

It is summertime and the sunny weather brings out the BBQs with family and friends. I am not a meat eater but BBQs are no less fun because of that. Summertime grilling is oftentimes focused on meat as the main event but vegan meals can stand just as tall. There is plenty of quick and easy naturally plant-based side dishes such as grilled veggies, corn on the hob (a true crowd pleasing) and cold salads. There is also a wide variety of veggie patties available at supermarkets these days and you can always opt by making your own vegan burgers using meatless ground “beef” for instance. However, if you are not into mock meats or just prefer less processed or more “natural” whole foods , you might want to give today’s recipe a try: GRILLED TOFU SKEWERS. The idea of these is rather simple and they come together so quickly. In fact can we even call this a recipe? The part that takes the longest is the preparation of the tofu but, trust me, even that does not require much effort.

Organic firm tofu is one of my weekly staples and it is such a nutrient-dense food due to its high protein, iron and calcium content. Plus, it is delicious in more ways than I can tell! I know that many people turn their noses up at tofu but I think that this recipe might convert anyone who’s dared to say they’re not into it. 😉

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/4 pineapple
  • 1 block of organic firm tofu (about 180 grams)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1.5 tsps of ground ginger
  • 2 tsps of garlic powders
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Press block of tofu to extract liquid for about 30 minutes. Then, cut it into small cubes.

2. In a bowl combine the juice of one lemon, garlic, ginger powder, ground black pepper and salt. Add the tofu and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an extra  30 minutes.

3. Prepare veggies: cut zucchini, pineapple and peppers into squares of about the same size.

4. Assemble skewers: thread vegetables and tofu alternately on the skewers. Distribute them evenly in whatever order you want.

5. Heat a grill pan/grill until sizzling hot, if needed grease with some olive oil, and then place skewers in and cook for about 3-5 of minutes on each side. As I had some leftovers sauce, I brushed with it on the skewers while they were cooking. Cook until zucchini is fork-tender and the rest is slightly charred. If you do not want your tofu charred then just leave it until it becomes golden brown.

6. Remove from grill pan/grill and serve while still hot.

For that perfect final touch, I added some freshly squeezed lemon juice on top of my skewers and paired them with some oven roasted sweet potato and salad greens. Needless to say that you can also eat these tofu skewers for a grain of choice like rice or quinoa for instance.

Here is the final result:

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I personally love the sweetness that the pineapple gives to these tofu skewers but if you think it might not be to your liking, then by all means omit it. This recipe on the whole is very versatile and super flexible. You can use whatever veggies you have left in your fridge, like onions, aubergine, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Just go with what you love or have on hand.

If you liked this recipe and decided to give it a try please let me know how you liked it. Also, because I love love looove to eat outdoors when the sun is out, I am always on the lookout for new meal ideas! So please do share with me in the comment section below your go-to recipes for picnics and BBQs 🙂

 

Much Love, 

Blissfully Grateful