Morning pages.

Morning Pages. A keystone habit that is now part of my daily routine for over 10 months. Every morning I write down my thoughts, worries, to do lists, goals, exciting ideas, monthly/weekly/daily intentions and/or self-realizations. I basically put everything that is swirling around my mind on paper. I find this to be very liberating.

It is so important to create habits that build us up, bring us stillness and put us in a good headspace. Journaling does that for me. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle and forget what really matters. Living in such a fast paced world makes it easy to lose track of what we want to achieve. And this is where journaling can play a paramount role. If we are consistent with it, it can lead to the important mindset shift from a reactive to a proactive lifestyle. It can help us understand what is the way forward, pull us back to the present moment and give us focus and a sense of groundedness.

Some additional and more detailed reasons why journaling has become such a life-changing habit for me are:

  • It helps me to release any pent-up emotions
  • It helps me process what is happening in my life and get my mind clear.
  • It unlocks my creativity. Oftentimes when I am in the process of writing, solutions to problems and interesting ideas unexpectedly come up.
  • It helps me name my fears, which is the first required step to overcome them
  • It is a way of cultivating self-compassion and gratitude, increasing self-awareness and of finding within

My morning pages have naturally become part of my morning routine and they are not something that require me to wake up earlier than I would normally would. I usually do my journaling whilst having breakfast and I find that doing it in the morning sets the tone for a positive day. However, I sometimes also like to write before going to bed. There are days where I get home and I feel this urge to write about something that might have happened and that left me feeling excited or overwhelmed. Though dumping always turns out to be a helpful thing and, from my personal experience, I can safely affirm that any time devoted to journaling, whether that is 10 minutes, 1 hour or more – is never time wasted.

 

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That being said, if journaling is not part I challenge you to give it a go. If you are already into journaling, I would love to hear how it is has been helping you.

Additionally, I would also be very curious to know if, just like me, you also put time aside each day to engage in an activity that calms your mind? What are some other positive habits that you have incorporated into your day-to-day life and that have comparable benefits to journaling? You can let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

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LUI (Groningen, The Netherlands)

Last Sunday I caught a train to Groningen, which, for those who do know, is a city pretty much in the very North of Holland. This was the Dutch city where I did my Master’s Degree and where I spent what was one of the best times of my life. *Fun fact about it: “61% of all trips into the city are made by bike” (thus, calling it a “bicycle-friendly city” is quite an understatement haha)

I went to Groningen to visit and catch up with a good friend of mine, who is still living there. It was great to spend some quality time with her. It was a lovely sunny day, which made it easier to notice how dazzling tulips and daffodils were starting to bloom everywhere.

Roaming the same streets that I used to bike on every day just over two years ago left me feeling a little bit nostalgic. It brought me so many memories back. Though I must say that experiencing the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia about this time of my life does not necessarily mean that I would want to bring it back if I was given the chance to. To feel a longing for times gone by is a natural human emotion. I am a firm believer that things happen at the right time. Life is constantly changing and it has its own seasons. So, all we can do is to recognise that there is a season for everything.. and with that in mind, we can choose to cherish and treasure those beautiful memories. That is how we keep them alive. ♥

Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to the main point of this post: a review of the cafe I got to visit last Sunday!

Because nothing beats a great catch up over a great cup of coffee, my friend and I decided to go to a cafe in town that apparently has only opened November of last year. It is called “lui”, which in Dutch means “lazy” (hence why the sloth in the big front window).

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The cafe is not hard to find as it conveniently located in the city centre. It is fairly small but because it has a big window that lets the natural light come in, I’d say that it is the perfect definition of “coziness”. There are even a few pairs of fluflly slippers right at the entrance of the door in case you want to put them one and get that true warm fuzzy feeling. Another curiosity about things they have available for customers are board games! It is quite a typical thing at Dutch cafes because this is an activity the Dutchies love doing when the sun refuses to make an appearance.

The cafe is just gorgeous inside and emanates a feeling of spring due to being full of plants. Actually, since you seem to be able to buy some of the plants in pots, it is almost like a plant shop in simultaneous. Totally love the concept and I can see why this cafe is one of my friend’s favourite.

We got there at around 3pm and I think we were very lucky to get a table. The people sitting at it were just about to leave when we arrived. What a win guys, what a win.

We ordered two oat cappuccinos (almond milk is also available), which despite being very tasty, lacked some cute latte art. However, the fact that the ratio of espresso/milk/foam was absolutely nailed made up for it. My friend advised me to get one of their homemade sweet treats claiming that they were absolutely scrumptious. Guess what? She was darn right. I got myself a slice of their raw berry cake and, boy was it good.

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I was just so nutty, fresh, creamy and coconutey. It was perfectly sweetened with natural sugars and so darn YUMMY. If you are an avid reader of my blog, you would know by now how I love raw desserts. This one surely did not disappoint. My friend had a slice of their mocha cake, which she also loved. It had a white frosting with big chocolate chunks on top. Sorry for not having a picture of it but…I guess I was way to busy with eating mine? Oops.

I was so positively surprised to hear that all their four available homemade sweet treats were vegan *what an happy me jumping for joy*. The mocha cake is the only one I would most likely happily skip because its texture and look were more like cake. As I have said earlier, I am not a big sweet tooth and if I am craving something sweet, I would hardly go for fluffy, spongy cakes with cream or icing. Anyway, the other two cakes available (carrot cake and a more traditionally looking cheesecake) were more to my taste. The carrot cake looked super moist and nutty, just how I would like it to be. Though, I would also be very eager to try the more traditionally looking cheesecake. Now that I actually come to think of it, I haven’t had a cheesecake that is not the typically vegan raw one since I stopped consuming dairy… Well, I guess that I will have to change that soon. I am sure I will  be coming back here again given the fact that I have two very “sweet” good reasons for it haha.

Even though the price for the oat cappuccino was quite ok (2,75€), the sweet treat I ordered was not particularly cheap (4€). However, that is a price I am happily willing to pay given how pretty the cafe itself is and the quality of the food/drinks served. Plus, the staff was also very welcoming and friendly with us.

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Overall, I would hand-on-heart say that Lui is worth a visit, whether you come with friends or on your own. In my opinion, it is just the perfect place to spend some quality time catching up with friends, reading a good book or even journaling whilst sipping a good cup of coffee. Plus, in you case you are in for something sweet or savoury, you can rest assured that you will have a good variety of vegetarian and vegan choices to choose from. I am going to certainly come back here when I happen to be in the city again! 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Wish you all a lovely week ahead xx

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

what if writing hotspot reviews is the answer I need to overcome what I am going through? What if I use to challenge myself more? Because I want to expand this section in my blog, I go try more places, I go try different foods, I challenge myself and I don’t even notice.. (what makes me tick the most, the posts where I feel like my writing just flows)

Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary)

I flew to Budapest at the end of last year to meet my best friend, who is currently living in Germany. When we were University students and flatmates living in Lisbon we used to say “once we start making money, we will travel together to all the places we have dreamed of and it will be just epic”. Now that the time has come, I am so happy to see that we are actually making happen what we our younger selves once promised. This was our first time in Hungary and our very first trip abroad together and it could not have been more amazing or memorable really. It exceeded both our expectations. ♥

Even though my bestie eats everything and does not have any special dietary requirements like I do, she is also a huge foodie who is always keen on trying new foods! I really admire her love for food in general. She is great cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen, which I find to be quite inspiring. I showed her the list of cafes and restaurants that I wanted to visited and that I compiled prior to our trip. Gathering a list of cafes and food spots that seem to be unique/characteristic in the way they look or in the vegetarian/vegan food they serve is something I always do before traveling! 🙂  It was a real joy to see that she was as excited as I was to go to all the spots I have looked up.. and as a result, we got to eat so much good food in amazing looking places!

After a long walk by the Danilo in the freezing cold, we were ready for a sweet treat and a hot beverage to warm us up. Hence, we decided to stop by the cafe “Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro” before heading to the thermal baths. This cafe was in my list due to its mouth-drooling raw sweet treats and that whole idea seemed just perfect since we were way too cold and in much need of a break from all the walking. As I have mentioned before here, raw vegan cheesecakes are my kind of dessert. They are usually very rich in flavour, creamy and not too sweet. They are also normally made mainly with real and simple ingredients, like nuts and fruits, which I absolutely love.

 

My friend ordered a cappuccino with coconut milk and I ordered a hibiscus tea that came in a big cuppa! It fell like a huge hug coming from a cup. We also ordered these two slices of vegan raw cheesecake (gluten free and only naturally sweetened) to share. And yes, they were as good as they look. * win win *

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If I remember well, these were flavours of the cheesecakes we ordered: Dried apricot and Chocolate & Pomegranate and Raspberry cheesecake.

There was a wide variety of them, which just made it harder to decide which ones to get. Anyhoo, we were both very happy and satisfied with our choices. They were not only aesthetic pleasing but also pretty sinful.

About the cafe and service offered

I found the cafe to be slightly overpriced (certainly more expensive than most places in Budapest) and perhaps a little bit overhyped too. It is a small cute cafe with tasty vegan sweet treats but it seems like it is just lacking in soul. It is not exactly the food spot that I would describe as cozy or inviting.  The entire atmosphere is a bit “meh” and the fact that there is not a real coffee espresso machine, makes it all seem a bit amateurish. Also, the staff did not come across as being very welcoming, friendly or even passionate about her work. This was, in all honesty, a bit disappointing to experience. I mean, do not get me wrong, we still enjoyed to come here due to the delicious sweet treats and hot beverages we had. They hit the spot and were just what we needed but I feel like this would not be a honest review if I did not mention the less positive sides of the service.

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All in all, I think that the place is just not being explored to its full potential. It is a real shame because the food concept is attractive (i.e. all 100% plant-based, raw and gluten free food ) and the menu offers a good variety of healthy and nourishing savoury dishes and sweet treats. Plus, it is in a fairly central and popular area (near the Parliament).

From what I have looked up online,Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro was actually the first 100% raw vegan restaurant opening in Hungary. I am glad I had the chance to visit it and I have now formed an opinion by having experienced it first-hand. I’d still recommend this place in to any person who happens to be in Budapest and is curious about raw vegan food and/or who is a cheesecake lover.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My month of January in review

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

Personal highlight of the month:

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

Most exciting purchase:

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

Favourite ethical purchase:

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

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Favourite book:

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

 

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Favourite song:

Mumford and sons – Guiding Light.

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

Favourite movie:

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

Favourite homemade dinner:

BBQ pulled jackfruit tacos. Yes, oh yes.

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

Favourite memory:

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

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The first real snowfall of this Winter.

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

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

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

 

Monday reminder.

As we jump into a new week (and soon into a new month), I would like to leave you here what I wish I was told last night when I was struggling to fall asleep.

You are a whole being. You are not someone who is broken or who needs to be fixed. You are not someone who is not good enough or unworthy. You are whole.

Where you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be. Even if you everything . Trust the timing of your life and, most importantly, trust yourself.

Put your thinking mind at rest. (Over)thinking just creates problems that would not even exist in first place if only we were present. (Over)thinking just perpetuates resentment, guilt and pain. So, my dear one, take a deep breathe and know you are safe. Know that you are already whole. Know that you are everything you need to be.

 

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Dear 2018, thank you so very much. Dear 2019, welcome.

Hi everyone,
Hope you all had a great start to the new year. Let me start this blog post with a quote that, from my standpoint, carries deep meaning:
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.” – Brené Brown

 

2018 was a year of countless ups and downs, many blessings in disguise, a myriad of lessons learned and, above all, tremendous growth. 2018 has taught me that all feelings are safe and that it is okay to be vulnerable. 2018 has forced me to realise that my mental blocks are what keeps me to welcome true healing. 2018 has showed me how I can benefit from being more intentional and mindful with my time; in other words, it has showed me how important it is to be present, really present. It has also showed me that I should be celebrating my small wins because they result from challenging myself, which is what ultimately keeps me going.  Even though I am still learning to take each day as it comes, I know that I am in such a better place today than I was one year ago. I am still in the process of coming to terms with myself but I am proud of my progress and of how far I have come. So, my dear 2018, I am now ready to let you go, to leave you behind and move forward onto new experiences and challenges. And as I move forward, my sweet 2018, I am leaving with you the fears and uncertaintes that have become so deeply rooted in myself that they almost fooled me to believe that they were actually somewhat me. Anyway, that does not matter anymore because I acknowledge that it is not true. I surely do not need those fears or uncertainties, which are nothing more than self-limiting beliefs, to feel secure or more like myself.  While it is true that there is still plenty of inner work to be done, it is also undeniably true that I am on the road to healing and there is no going back.

In 2018 I have started this beautiful (though not easy) journey of self-rediscovery, of re-connecting within and of finding peace within myself again. In 2018 I have fallen in love with nourishing and nurturing my body. Subsequently, I have been increasingly feeling a deep sense of connection with it and I am so happy about it. For now, my biggest intention for 2019 is to learn how to let things fall into place, to let each day unfold and to let life flow naturally. I want to learn to wait without anxiety and trust in the process of life.Thus, dear 2018, I appreciate you for all that you were and for having shown me what truly matters in life but… I am now letting you go.

Dear 2019, I welcome you with arms wide open and a grateful heart. I am ready to embrace all the unexpected changes and the newness that you will bring into my life.

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