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:
Make time for Online Dutch classes and make a greater effort to speak Dutch.
Prioritise self care by taking better care of my skin.
Go to bed earlier during the working week in order to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Get back into my Yoga practice.
Finish the book I am currently reading: “Autumn” by Ali Smith.
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
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! 🙂
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! 🙂
Some days are just harder than others. Sometimes life gets a bit too much. And today was just like that. I was not necessarily sad but I just felt really empty. Unexplainably empty. As a result, I found myself wishing to have my boyfriend, best friend or mum around just so they could hold me tight and I could feel safe. No words would be needed. Just a hug and their heartfelt look that speaks silently “hey. I get you. It is not easy but you are gonna be ok.” (…) They are my support system and not having them around (because they live in a different country/city) makes it harder to cope with this kind of days. Nevertheless, this has also taught me how I can “pick myself up”. I called it a day, went home and allowed myself to have some peaceful downtime. As I went to bed I whispered to myself these few words in the most gentle and kind way that I know: You are safe. You are ok. You will still succeed despite these bad days. First I let it hurt and then I let it go.
So, If today is one of those days where you are feeling a little bit lost inside, do not dwell on it. Instead, show some compassionate for yourself and for how you feel and let this post be a reminder that:
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 🙂
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.
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.
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?
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!
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
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.
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.♥
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.
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.
..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.
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.
*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.
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.
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.
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. ♥
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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 *
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.
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.
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.
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.
I know, I know. It is not exactly a new tune but it is so lovely and pleasing to the ear.
“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.
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! 🙂
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.
The first real snowfall of this Winter.
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! 🙂