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

 

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