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

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10 things that are bringing me joy lately.

One of my favourite podcasts is “Chasing Joy” by Georgie Morley and that was where I got the inspiration to write this post. At the end of each podcast episode, Georgie asks to their guests the following question:“What is something that is bringing you joy lately?”. As someone who have always loved to know what makes people tick and what makes their truly happy, I am always eager to hear the answers.

Because listening to what people answer always leaves me thinking about what is bringing me joy at the moment, I thought I would ask myself this question and share the answer with you in this post. I apologise in advance for not being able to stick to only one thing. I got a bit carried away and ended up with a list of 10 different things instead. Oops.

This is just one of those good questions that imply self-reflection. Something I find very important and make time for every now and then. So, without further ado, here are the 10 things that are bringing me joy lately:

  1. Doing Yoga. This practice not only brings me joy but also peace. Peace to my mind and body.
  2. Being able to keep my house plants alive and seeing them slowly growing. I hope I won’t jinx it by saying this lol. After managing to kill 3 cacti (and countless other plants), I guess it was about time to finally be able to keep some of them alive, don’t you think? I feel like this is one of those life achievements that makes me feel like I am succeeding at this thing called “adulting” haha.
  3. Going for a spontaneous walk in the nature with the boyfriend.
  4. Handmade ceramics. A pure work of art.
  5. The days getting longer and longer as Summer approaches
  6. More ethical and sustainable purchases
  7. Reading before bed. The act of swapping my phone/laptop for a good book just before going to bed comes now so effortlessly to me and
  8. Journaling, especially first thing in the morning.
  9. Getting creative in the kitchen and feeling inspired to cook new recipes.
  10. Exploring a new cafe nearly every weekend. As an avid cafe hopper this is naturally something that brings me so much joy and that I am always looking forward to doing.

Now, I would like to invite you to share in the comment section below what is currently bringing you joy! As the curious person by nature that I am, I’d absolutely love to know!!

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My Easter weekend in pictures.

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

Friday

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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How pretty.

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

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

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

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Sunday

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

 

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

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

Monday

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Much Love, 

Blissfully Grateful

Hitting rock bottom.

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

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

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

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

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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

A week of vegan breakfasts.

Breakfasts make me happy and they have always had. Whenever I have my beloved ones over, I like to surprise and treat them with a beautiful and delicious morning breakfast. After all, one of the best things in life is to eat food we enjoy with with people we enjoy. ♥

We all know how important it is to have a well-rounded and varied diet that includes foods from each of the main food groups (protein, fats, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables). This is because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients. Nevertheless, I must say that, I unconsciously neglected this for quite some time. I got way too comfortable eating the same foods over and over again and did not even realise how “limited” my diet become. Anyway, I got a wake up call last Summer and said to myself “enough of this. I am a huge breakfast person and as such I should be more creative with the foods I eat first thing in the morning.” I am so happy with the decision of switching up my breakfast game. I have been loving it and it is so freeing to finally make use of all the goodies I have kept in my kitchen pantry for way too long. Plus, by allowing myself to have different things for breakfast, I have noticed these positive things happening:

  • I feel like I am now able to listen to my body more and eat with greater intention and pleasure. I wake up, tune in and ask myself: “What do I feel like eating today?”. I think about all the possible yummy breakfast combos I can have and go for the one that appeals my body the most; the one my body craves the most. Food cravings are just our bodies communicating what they truly need and ignoring them should never be an option.
  • I wake up more excited and looking forward to my first meal of the day.
  • I feel more energised and overall upbeat after having it.

Here is an entire week of breakfasts..and, trust me, I was able to whip up all of them in a matter of minutes.

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Gluten free sorghum cereal from @Nutribex (details about it on this blog post Breakfast Cereals: Current Addictions) soaked in unsweetened almond milk and topped with fresh raspberries, coconut yoghurt from @kokodairyfree and a spoon of dark tahini (my current seed butter addiction!)

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Oat waffle topped with dried red fruits, a dash of organic cinnamon and a spoon of dark tahini. For the waffle recipe I used gluten free oats, unsweetened almond milk, psyllium husk, baking soda and water. Even though the picture only shows one waffle, the recipe makes actually two. I’d say that the texture and consistency of the waffles need improvement but the taste is on point. Now that I finally got myself a waffles machine, I will be experimenting some new recipes (both sweet and savoury) and I can assure you that if they turn out tasty, you will be seeing them here soon.

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Toasted Breton dark whole grain bread with vegan butter from @alpro. This bread was baked and bought at my favourite organic local store and it is just one of the best that I have ever eaten. I kid you not. It is so wholesome and rich in flavour. There are no nasty ingredients added, only grains that have so many amazing benefits for our health, such as quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth

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Chocolate chia porridge topped with cinnamon and passionfruit. I have made it using gluten free free oats, chia seeds, unsweetened almond milk (it makes it so creamy) and vegan pea and brown rice protein with chocolate hazelnut flavour from @goldnutrition.

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Sweet potato breakfast bowl with unsweetened soya yoghurt, toasted soya flakes, organic whole grain wheats filled with raisins from @wkellog_uk ,and a spoon of dark tahini.

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Organic and gluten free oat crispbreads from @jardinbio. I topped one of the crispbreads with coconut yoghurt from @kokodairyfree and strawbs , another one with smashed avocado, lemon juice, cracked pepper and arugula and the other two with dark tahini and strawbs. I ate 4 in total but one of them did not fit on the wood cutting board … I mean we do love photos of aesthetically pleasing food, don’t we? haha)

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Mini oat pancakes topped with coconut-based raspberry yoghurt from @abbotkinney’s, fresh raspberries and a spoon of dark tahini. This recipe is exactly the same as the one of the waffles.

*Remark: The mug you see in some of the pictures has my usual decaf cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk, unsweetened soya almond milk, organic decaf coffee, maca powder and cinnamon! Love it.

 

I hope this post has somehow inspired to get a bit more creative and switch things up at breakfast time! Because – and hey listen this carefully – you should never ever settle for a boring breakfast!

Breakfast should be an enough good reason to make you want jump out of your bed every morning! 🙂

*Brief disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any of the brands I mentioned. Like always, I am just sharing what I enjoy. Plus, it might be useful to share the brands of the foods for those who might wonder 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful