August & September highlights.

It’s been a hot minute since my last blog post of monthly highlights but l have been struggling to find time to dedicate to this platform. Anyways, I am now here to share my August and September highlights! These two months were – with any doubts – life changing and  I decided to combine the highlights of both in one post since some of the things that happened in August led to others that happened in September.

I don’t know about you guys but I personally love to list everything significant that happens in every month. I think that doing this “monthly check-in”/review encourages self-reflection, increases my self-awareness and offers me the chance to track my progress. Plus, I also see it as an excellent way for acknowledging our small wins and milestones and find empowerment in all the things that are sent our way. Anyhoo, as I was saying, a lot has happened and I feel like my life did a 360 degrees turn within just a couple of months. Change has been a constant (like never before really) and I guess that it will some time for everything to really sink in and become the “new normal”. In the meantime, all I can say is:

I am grateful for where I am at and excited for where I am going.

I will stop digressing now and just get to onto my August and September 2019 highlights. Here they are:

August

  • I renewed my passport in preparation for my big 2019 trip that took place in September!
  • I went to the 2019 Pride Parade in Amsterdam. Even though it was my third time there, it was actually the first time I went with my boyfriend! We had so much fun watching the parade whilst drinking some nice prosecco!
  • I travelled to Germany in order to spend a girls weekend with the best friend in the whole wide world. I missed her so much and was so looking forward to spending 2 entire days with her! We talked for hours and hours, went out to party, had a wonderful homemade dinner and brunch in the next day, had some proper girls time taking care of our skin, spoiled each other with gifts, relaxed and went out to a really nice brunch place! I also had the chance of catching up with another close of friend of mine who is currently living in Dusselfdorf and it could not have been better.
  • I participated in a Basketball competition at work and, surprisingly, I did quite well! I’d describe myself as someone who is outdoorsy and sporty but basketball was never jam. However, I guess, that this just went to show how silly are some of the pre-conceived ideas we have about ourselves.
  • I finally bought myself a pink Fujifim Instax mini camera! I bought it especially for my trip to New York because I want to make a travel scrapbook with all the polaroids! I think that analog photography is quite special because you can’t delete the photos or apply a filter, which we do so automatically nowadays. I love the idea of the polaroids being a pure and raw reflection of the moment that we can keep forever.
  • I came to the realisation earlier this year that I was ready for a new professional challenge. I was not finding my job trully fullfiling or challenging anymore and, hence, I decided to explore the possibility of getting a new job. I am of the opinion that you should find joy in the work you do. Oherwise what is point of dedicating so many hours of your life to it? That being said, around mid-August I was unexpectedly contacted by two companies that are very different from each other (business sector- and work approach-wise). One of them is an Australian Digital marketing and Social media company and the other one is an American outdoor clothing company (that I wanted to work for ages!!). Both are big companies with their headquarters in Amsterdam and both were offering very interesting job positions and career prospects. I went to several rounds of interviews and ended by receiving a final job offer from both.
  • I happily accepted the job offer from the American company because it is a company that I look up to not only for its vision and ethics but also for its outstanding work when it comes to environmental and social activism.  I truly believe that you will always find more meaning (and inspiration) in your job when you work for a company whose values and principles are the ones you stand by. I am still so happy and deeply grateful for having had this job opportunity!
  • Following the above highlight, I resigned from the job I had for nearly 2.5 years. I handed out my letter of resignation to my manager and shortly after, I called a meeting with my team to communicate my decision. I felt a mix of nervousness and excitement but it all went well.
  • I finished the book: The good wife strikes back by Elizabeth Buchan. Finishing a good book is something I consider a highlight. I love the power that a simple book has to pull you back to the present moment and transport to other realms. It does not matter how much stress or countless issues you are dealing with, it all just seems to slip away when you lose yourself in a good or entertaining story. Even though this is not one of the best novels I have read because I could not feel very connected to the characters, it was still an entertaining and good enough read.

September

  • Due to my NY trip approaching, I decided to watch the movies “You’ve got mail” and “When Harry met Sally”. Yup, this was another highlight because I really enjoyed my time watching these movies that so lonvingly emboded NY city’s Upper West Side neighborhood. These are just two of those all-time classic movies that you need to watch, regardless of whether you are a fan of cheesy romantic comedies or not.
  • I received free tickets to watch my first football match in The Netherlands, in which AJAX (considered as one of the best Dutch teams) is going to play!
  • Finding an unshared flat to live in the biggest Dutch cities is a real challenge in itself (let alone at a reasonable price). There is considerably more demand than offer.. However, it seems like – after 2 rounds of applications – I was allocated an apartment at a building, whose end of construction is due in December! It t is going to be a brand new flat in a super central location and it is going to have a balcony (something I never had ever since I moved to The Netherlands)! The keys handover is planned to take place in December and I cannot wait to move in! It still does not feel quite real to me.
  • Got to spend my 26th birthday in NY with my boyfriend. It was not only my very first time in the Big Apple but also and the first birthday that I got to share with my partner (from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep). He really made me feel like one very special and lucky girl. ♥
  • My granny passed away on my birthday and this was undoubtedly one of the greatest losses I have ever experienced (and still am experiencing).
  • I did a Yoga Vinyasa class at Central Park. It was amazing to feel the Earth right beneath me and connect within whilst being surrounded by so much greenery.
  • I bought my sister 2 tickets to watch the musical “Book of Mormom” in London for her 30th birthday. She will soon move out of the city and I knew that this is one of the few great musicals she had not watched it yet. It feels so good to be able to afford gifting your beloved ones with an experience they’ll hopefully enjoy and remember for a long time.
  • Three days later after coming back from NY (gladly did not suffer from jet lag), I flew to my homecountry in order to spend a week with my family. We had some proper quality time together and went on a 3-day mini holiday to El Grove, Vigo and Cies Islands (Galicia,Spain). I think we all needed some relaxing and bonding time in family.
  • During my holiday in Portugal, I went for a full-body massage and treated my mum to one too.
  • In honour of Fall’s arrival, I have baked my very first pumpkin spice loaf bread. and it turned super tasty. Yup, that is right guys. This is indeed a big highlight for me. I baked it when I went home for a week vacation and mum and dad loved it. It was vegan and I sorted came up with the recipe based on two that I had looked up online. I was quite surprised with how tasty it actually turned out!
  • On the last day of September (just 1 day after coming back from Portugal), I had the farewell from my previous company. This was a new experience for me because I got this job when I was a just a 22-year-old girl coming straight out of Universtity. It was my first real job and for that reason the farewell felt specail. My team took me out for a last lunch at a very nice restaurant just by a lake. It made me very happy to see the entire team (including the two people who are based in Germany) all around the table for my farewell.
  • I received lots of meaningful gifts, which made me realise how thoughtful my ex-colleagues were (and how well some of them knew me). However, getting a big card with the best wishes of 55 people was the most special gift of all. Many of these people also congratulated me for having the “courage” of following my dreams and that really spoke to my heart.
  • I got to travel to 4 different countries within juts 6 weeks: Germany, U.S., Portugal and Spain.
  • These 2 months showed me that going through the best and worst times in our life really reveals who our true friends are. This was also a highlight in itself. I received extra love and unexpected heartfelt messages and phone calls from my closest friends all throughout these months, which added additional meaning to what I went through.

These were two months of lots of emotions. I still find myself trying to wrap my head around of everything that happened (and it is still happening). If I think too much about all these recent events I can’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed by them all… But I feel deeply grateful too. Each one of them taught me a lot about myself and these are the main takeaways I’d like to end this post with:

  1. Even though change is a positive thing and is needed, it can make us feel rather overwhelmed. Thus, just know that you can welcome change into your life and still take it day by day.
  2. Life happens and sometimes all at once but one thing is for sure: we are all worth of new beginnings.

Okaaaay this post turned out to be longer than I had expected!… but hopefully you found it a bit interesting, rathen than insanely boring?!

Please let me know in the comment section below if you too are someone who finds pleasure in writing down the monthly highlights! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

October Intentions.

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:

  1. Make time for Online Dutch classes and make a greater effort to speak Dutch.
  2. Prioritise self care by taking better care of my skin.
  3. Go to bed earlier during the working week in order to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  4. Get back into my Yoga practice.
  5. Finish the book I am currently reading: “Autumn” by Ali Smith.
  6. 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
  7. 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! 🙂

 

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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! 🙂

Wish you a lovely week ahead x

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

A lousy Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 2

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 “heyI 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:

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

3 reasons to choose soy candles over regular ones

I love lighting up candles, especially when Fall and Winter roll around. There is just something so special and relaxing about a soft, flickering light. Plus, they just make any room feel homey and cozy. However, as I have been becoming more and more environmentally-conscious when it comes to my purchases, I could not help but wonder how eco-friendly were the regular paraffin-based candles I was buying. When I started looking and reading into it..well, let’s just say I was not impressed. This meant that with little deliberation, I went ahead and bought myself a selection of soy candles for the first time.

I was so pleased to find soya candles at Søstrene Grene , which is a Danish retail chain and one of my favourite lifestyle stores (especially for home decor).

Before jumping into the reasons why I think it is better to use soy candles over regular ones, I just want to make a brief remark. It is important to highlight that even though I believe they are a better option for the environment than paraffin-based ones, they are still not the most sustainable option out there. There are a few aspects to take into consideration when buying soy candles. As you probably have heard there are many concerns and issues related to the massive soybean industry, like deforestation (mainly in Brazil) and pollution caused by the heavy use of pesticides and fertilisers. Thus, I would advise you to try buying soy candles from companies that are able to ensure that the soy is domestically grown (which most of the times is), non-GMO and from traceable growers. If the soy candles are produced locally, you are actually supporting local businesses/farmers, whilst encouraging local agriculture, which is great. Now that this is out of the way, let’s jump right into the 3 major benefits of using soy candles as opposed to regular ones!

  • Soy candles are natural.

Contrary to paraffin, which is derived from petroleum, shale oil or coal (non-renewable resources), soy candles are made from soya beans, a natural ingredient that is biodegradable and a totally renewable resource. They, therefore, burn cleaner, create a negligible amount of soot and can actually release their fragrance easier and wider.

  • Better for your health and the environment

While burning petroleum-based candles toxins that are carcinogenic in nature may be released. Though, if the candle is 100% made of soy beans you can rest assured that, while burning, no harmful toxics are being released into the air you breathe or into the earth’s atmosphere.

  • Last for longer. Hence, more cost-effective 

Even though soy candles are generally more expensive when compared to regular ones, they last for a longer period of time making them a more cost-effective in the long-term.  Their burning rate is lower and up to 50% longer than regular candles.

These are the candles I bought at Søstrene Grene:

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I must say though that this was not my wisest purchase ever… As soon as I saw the candles for sale, I got so excited that bought them right away without properly reading the label. It was only when I got home that I noticed that they are actually made of 95% soya and 5% paraffin. So, I guess that this purchase ended up by not being exactly the  best purchase for the environment or health as I thought but.. lesson learned. Next time I will certainly be paying more attention and will not my excitement carry me away. Anyhoo, I am very happy with how good the scents I went for are – “twilight oak” and “sea salt rose”- and I am also very impressed with how slow they burn. Plus, each of them was just under 3 euros, which I find to be super affordable. All in all, I feel that this purchase was still a win when it comes price-quality and value. These soy candles are certainly a safer and overall better option than the regular candles I used to buy.

I hope you have found this post somehow informative and insightful. I believe that when you consider all of the positive attributes soy candles may possess (if sourced sustainably), you will not be giving up anything when you choose buying them over regular ones. You can find soya candles in all of the fragrances you’re accustomed to and they are just better for you and the environment.

Now tell me, have you ever bought soy candles? If so, how do you like them? Do you have a specific brand you like and would recommend? 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

Today’s self-reminder.

It is Friday evening and as we are heading into the weekend, this is a great time to share a short self-reflection post.

A great podcast episode that I was listening earlier today made me have this aha moment. It made me realise that whenever I am not able to fix something in my life, I can get really fixated and obsessed with trying to solve it. I can get so forceful that I end up by losing sleep over it, which in turn makes me feel hopeless and frustrated. Subsequently, I am not able to think it through because my mind is unsettled. I guess that I easily forget that forcing my way through things often repeals the very outcome I want to achieve.  

I consider myself as a doer, a go-getter but I acknowledge that does not always work in my favour. When I do something that does not come natural to me (i.e. it is forced), I usually experience some anxiety, stress and overall emotional turmoil. However, when my actions are in natural response to the flow of what is happening around me, I feel calm, still and at ease. I am in alignment with the flow of life, with the flow of the Universe and I feel grateful.

That being said, today’s self-reminder is that it is in the letting go that I can achieve serenity. It is in the letting go that I can heal from inside out. 

Wish you all a lovely and relaxed weekend.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful