January highlights.

Hi all,

At the beginning of each month, I like to hit “pause”, step back and reflect on the one that has just past. I am sorry for this long overdue post about my January highlights… I started writing it in the beginning of February but then life got in the way and time just went by in a blink of an eye.

Anyway, let’s just get to it.

In my opinion, carving out time to reflect on our achievements (as well as struggles) it is very important for our personal growth. I feel like when I am introspective, my self-awareness and sense of gratitude increase and, as a result, I can better tackle challenges that might come my way head on. This being said, I think everyone should take some time to reflect on what they’ve achieved and experienced every month.

No matter how hectic life might be, we are all worth some time for. 

So about January.. I feel very humbled and grateful for all the happy moments and all the “firsts” I got to experience. Naturally, not everything was wonderful (I mean, is it ever is?). I’ve also had my tough moments where everything felt rather overwhelming.. but they surely do not make my January any less good. After all, the way we perceive what we experience depends on the lens through which we choose to view our life.

The highlights/experiences I am just about to share were actually a really great reminder of how exciting life can when I adventure into the new. So, here they are:

1. Ice skating

Coming from a place where ice skating is not a thing, I am so excited I got the opportunity  to try it. This was the very first time I ice skated in my 26 years of existence and boy was it fun. I must say that I am not the most coordinated person but I am quite outdoorsy and basically love all kinds of sports (collective sports, winter sports, summer sports, etc..).

I have been wanting to give a go to ice skating ever since I moved to The Netherlands and I have finally done it YAYAYAY! This experience was sponsored by my company and it was so much fun! My balance and coordination were definitely challenged and I am pretty sure I did not look very graceful whilst ice skating (at least certainly not when I fell and got my bum wet haha) but I really reeeeally enjoyed it.

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2. SKALAR live show

In Christmas I got my boyfriend and I two tickets for this live show of light and music in Amsterdam and I am so pleased for having done so. It was absolutely spectacular and I can’t honestly compare it to anything that I saw before.

This large-scale artistic production is delivered by the German light artist Christopher Bauder and by the musician Kangding Ray. Every single one of their shows is unique.

If you are a very visual person, then you’re sure to love it. These two great artists bring “choreographed light and electronic music to life in real-time” and it is impossible not be left in awe. We were sat down and looking up for one hour in order to absorb as much as we could. What an amazing sensorial experience this was!

 

 

3. Visited two coffee spots that were on my “cafes to visit” list for way too long

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you are well aware of how much I love to explore new cafes.

I have always found inspiration surrounded by people and by the smell of coffee. Hence why I have always loved to study and write at cafes. I like when the atmosphere is laid-back and creative but that is certainly not the only factor that matters to me whenever I am at a cafe. I care about the transparency of the coffeeshop when it comes to the sourcing and production of their coffee. I care about the quality of the coffee and whether it is organic and fair trade or not. I care about the service and the genuine love of the people running the cafe.

A cafe can look like the most instagrammable place but if it lacks soul, then I won’t most likely bother to go back.

All that being said, I am very happy to say that I have finally crossed off two different coffee spots from my list of cafes to visit in The Netherlands and they did not disappoint.

You can see some photos of both below.

The Village Coffee & Music, Utrecht

 

Bocca Coffee

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A good cup of coffee is more about the passion injected into it by the barista and the hard work of all of those before him in the supply chain than anything else.

 

4. 17Km Leersum hike 

I had this 17km hike to Utrechtse Heuvelrug, a national park in the south of Holland, planned since December per the invitation of a friend of mine. This was probably my longest hike ever and, as strange as it may sound, I felt somewhat recharged after it. It was a different way to spend my Sunday with my boyfriend and friends but I really enjoyed the experience. I also got to explore a beautiful area of The Netherlands that was new to me, which was lovely.

There’s something quite special about being completely immersed in the natural world, far from the “civilization”. I am a firm believer that a walk in the woods can do wonders for our mental health and that nature is the antidote to a stressed and overwhelmend mind. Our own breathing and footsteps, the fresh and crisp air on our faces, the rustling trees.. all of this provides a sense of tranquil awareness that I simply can’t put into words. Being out in the nature can be so healing and I want to do it more often. Plus, going for this hike with my boyfriend and friends gave us some uninterrupted time to catch up on “life”, which was great.

 

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5. Sprouting workshop

I’ve always naturally gravitated towards nutrition- and health-related topics. For that reason, I got super stoked when I found out that a work colleague is a nutrition therapist and gives workshops on how we can best benefit from incorporating certain fermented/sprouted foods into our diets for optimum nutrition and digestion!

If you follow me for a while, you probably know that I have IBS (“irritable bowel syndrome”) and, as a result, my body struggles to digeste certain foods. Since my diet is based on plants, my protein intake comes from them. Legumes and beans are rich sources of protein but are not great for sensitive digestive systems due to their indigestible carbohydrates. Thus, given that I can’t consume them on a regular basis, I have to rely on tofu and soya milk/yoghurt as my main sources of protein. This is of course not a bad thing but it naturally limits my diet in terms of vitamins and minerals.
To those of you who don’t know, sprouting foods like legumes (e.g. lentils and chickpeas) and even grains (e.g. wheat and barley), reduces their fodmap content, making them easier to be digested and absorbed by the body. Plus, sprouting foods also tends to enhance their nutritional value, making them richer in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamins C and K.
That being said, because I wanted to learn how I can best add variety to my diet without increasing my IBS symptoms, I decided to attend my friend’s workshop about sprouting foods! She took us through the entire sprouting process and it was so insightful and informative! I was able to deepen my knowledge about all the nutritional benefits of sprouting different grains,legumes and seeds and how we can eat sprouts for optimum digestion. At the end of the workshop we got to eat a yummy lunch all together (with sprouts of course!). We had a warm bowl of coconut pumpkin and spinach soup with some toasted sprouted bread. Both so flavourful and nourishing. I also brought home a sprouting starter kit and a booklet with lots of useful information. I have already started to grow my own sprouts and I am finding it sooooooo exciting!! 🙂

 

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Lastly, but certainly not least:

6. My 4-year anniversary in The Netherlands 

A highlight that made all the above highlights possible.

I can’t believe that 4 years have gone by since I moved to this country. It really does not look like that long at all but hey, it really is how they say: Time flies when you’re having fun. 

I moved here to do my master’s degree, got a job shortly afterwards and stayed here since then. I have learned and grown so much during these 4 years. It has been a roller coaster ride with ups and downs but not even once have I regretted the decision of moving to The Netherlands.

 

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…And this is it! My highlights from the very first month of 2020. I’d now love if could share some of your 2020 highlights in the comment section below! 🙂

Thanks a lot for reading and wish you a lovely week ahead!

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Juice by Nature (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon and I was feeling like trying a new place in Amsterdam to have a good cappuccino and perhaps a sweet treat. I had already looked up Juice by Nature on Happy Cow and since it had lots of vegan options and it was conveniently located in the city centre, I decided to give it a go. I loved the place as soon as walked into it. This hidden gem is now on my top favourite food spots in Amsterdam! This is not only because of all the amazing vegan food served but also because of  how lovely and clean the place looks inside and of how helpful and friendly the employees are. They will most likely greet you kindly as soon as you enter and you can ask them whatever you want to know about the food options served (what ingredients were used, how they were prepared, etc..). They will happily help you on that. The entire menu is VEGAN and has such a wide variety of options; from breakfast stuff, colourful salad bowls, soups and sandwiches to refined sugar free sweet treats that are allergen-friendly and appropriately labelled as being “gluten free”, “nuts free” and “lactose free”.

I ordered myself a slice of raw carrot ginger cake. Though I have come across with various “raw vegan carrot cake” recipes online, I had actually never eaten it before. I even had a friend sharing her recipe with me,  but oh well, I never got to it (shame on me, I know). Anyway, as soon as I saw that they had it, I was just like:”yup, that is it. you are getting right into my tummy!”. It was the only slice left and I am so glad I was the one having it because oh wow, it was so yummy!! When it comes to raw desserts, the ones that I am most familiar with are cheesecakes, bliss balls and the like. As I am not much of a cake person (especially when they too sugary, fluffy and with lots of cream on them), this raw carrot ginger cake looked very appealing to me. Aaaand guys, let me tell you, it was extremely delicious: moist, mildly spiced and with a subtle hint of ginger. The frosting was so dayum good and not too sweet. The cake is made of real and simple ingredients like carrot, red fruits, spices (ginger, cinnamon, etc..), maple syrup, dates and cashews. I was not very sure about the combo of carrot with red fruits but trust me, it works perfectly! I paired the slice of cake with a cappuccino with coconut milk, which disappointed me a little bit. I like a good frothy cappuccino and this one came served with no foam on top whatsoever…Anyway, it was still tasty.

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It is visible that the people managing this place put a lot of love, effort, quality and care into the service offered and space itself. As the photos below show, it is so pretty, clean and neat. I love its nature vibes!

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As a bonus, the people managing Juice by Nature also care about the environment and do not support the single use of plastic. Plastic free straws are available as well as 100% recyclable napkins. All their takeaway food come in biodegradable and recyclable packaging.

So, all in all, and just to wrap it up: delicious healthy and high-quality food, chilled and lovely atmosphere, environmentally-friendly place with simply cute decor, friendly and helpful staff and affordable prices. There is really not much to dislike, is there? Thus, if you happen to be in Amsterdam looking for a central and healthy food spot tucked away from the hassle and bustle of the city, then come here. I am pretty sure that you will be delighted with all the vegan food options offered as well as with the inviting, clean and chilled atmosphere.blog 1.jpg

(coolest toilet door ever – can I have it, please?)

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

A great start to September.♥ 

Due to having a father who is an artist, art has always played a huge role in my life. Dad has always motivated me to continuously develop my creative self and see the world as an amazing art masterpiece. Also, due to his influence, going to art museums and galleries has been a rather normal thing to do in my free time ever since I was a little child.

As someone who loves to behold art in all forms, I feel incredibly lucky (and grateful) to live just a short 30-mins train journey away from, what are in my opinion, some of the best museums we have in Europe. To mark the beginning of September – hands down my favourite month of the year – I decided to take the train to Amsterdam and have some quality time at the Stedelijk museum. After all, we must spend our time doing what we love (as often as we can) because life is way too short to be wasted doing things that do not make us happy.

My Saturday actually started in a busier way than usual. A friend of mine slept at my house from Friday to Saturday and I had to wake up quite early to help her getting ready for a wedding. When she left my house, I went to my usual cardio/strength training class at the gym and afterwards I just made my way to Amsterdam. Stedelijk, the largest museum of modern and contemporary art and design in The Netherlands, has been on my list of must-see museums in the country for quite some time. So happy for making time to finally visit it!

I find it so important to make room in our lives for art because it gives us meaning. It helps us to understand the world around us and, if we let it, art has the power to enable us to have a life that is richer in purpose, joy and creativity.  I love the fact that certain works of art can show us exactly what we are scared of expressing and admitting. Plus, there is something so special about stepping inside an art gallery and loosing myself in unknown shapes, colours, textures and stories. ♥

Visiting an art museum that was knew to me really made my Saturday afternoon. I thought I’d share with you the photos of some of the favourite things I saw at Stedelijk museum:

 

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… and, finally, I got to see the original painting from Mondriaan, one of the pioneers of abstract art.

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I also learnt that the studios in The Netherlands and France where Mondriaan lived reflected the way he painted and expressed himself ins his paintings (i.e. geometrism and grids of black, white and primary colours). I guess that this shows that the environment we create around us really is a reflection of our state of mind.

 

Last but definitely not least, here is something that I read about how art – as we know it today – emerged in the Netherlands and that is so worth-sharing:

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Concept became more important than form; everything could, and art could be everywhere”. How beautiful. ♥

 

 

I hope this post served as a reminder of how important it is to do things that inspire us and make our soul happy. Have a lovely Sunday and great start to the week x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful