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

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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

 

 

 

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

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

Barista Workshop – my experience.

I have come to realise that time is way too short and life is way too big to be anything but happy. ♥ One of the intentions that I have set for the year of 2018 was to simply do more of what makes my soul shine. Thus, as I turned 25 years old in September, I decided to reward myself with a Barista Workshop. For those of you who don’t know, I am a coffee lover whos comes from Portugal, where coffee culture is huge.  We love to linger at the table after eating, drink a cup of coffee (usually an espresso) and chat for hours. I personally love to catch up with a good friend over coffee. Nothing beats a “let’s go for a coffee” invitation! 🙂

Coffee holds a very special meaning to me and, in my opinion, it brings people together. When I was little, my granny (also a coffee lover) used to serve me coffee in this cute little cup every day after we having lunch together. I remember how happy I felt when drinking it. Granny used to take a sip, gently close her eyes and say smilling “it is so good, is it not my dear?”. My parents were not that happy about me drinking coffee at such a young age like 5 years old… but they allowed it anyway because they knew that it was our little thing. Plus, the caffeine/water ratio was probably 85/15%. I loved its taste regardless and that is why coffee has a very special place in my heart to this day.

I did my Barista workshop at Koffie Academie, in Amsterdam, in the beginning of December. The workshop had the duration of 3h-3:30 hours and I could not be more satisfied with how it went.

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Koffie Academie, Amsterdam.

 

So what are the most relevant insights I have learned in this workshop?

  • Real coffee is never be bitter
  • There are about 100 flavours of coffee, depending on its country of origin. The flavours are grouped into 9 overarching categories (i.e. sweet, floral, fruity, nutty/cocoa, spices, sour/fermented, green/vegetative, roasted, other). You can click here for an interactive coffee taster’s flavour wheel
  • I now know what are the most important features of an espresso machine
  • I have learnt how to properly evaluate the acidity, body and strength of coffee
  • I have learnt how to differentiate Asian from African coffee. While coffee from Asia (i.e. Indian malabar) is spicy and heavy, African coffee is lighter, thiner and hence more watery. Coffee from South America is something in between the two
  • I have learnt how to use a coffee grinder and a commercial espresso machine (trust me, it is really really exciting!) as well as how to pour the perfect heart cappuccino.

This is what the workshop entailed and the foundation skills I have learnt:

  • Harvesting, extraction, processing method and variety of coffee beans
  • Coffee roasting (i.e.how a coffee roaster works in order to bring out the best flavours from within a coffee bean)
  • Tasting and Cupping
  • Espresso shots and milk steaming
  • Latte art. I have made my very first heart shaped cappuccino (see below) using oat milk and I am SO stoked about it!!
  • Equipment operation and maintenance

This fun hands-on workshop made me fall more in love with the coffee industry as a whole. I feel inspired and certainly more determined to open my own coffee place one day. It really took my understanding of coffee to the next level and it was like I was tasting coffee for the very first time.

Here are some of photos of the workshop in case you are interested 🙂

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Coffee Roasting

 

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Cupping and Tasting
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Latte Art
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My first heart cappuccino

Are you also a coffee lover like me? Have you ever done a Barista workshop? Let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

“I am entirely up to me.”

I am entirely up to me.

 

Six simps words that carry a strong message.

I am indeed entirely up to me. I do not want to watch life passing me by. Just over a half year ago, I have made this very important conscious decision of committing to myself (and to my life for that matter). Every morning I choose to stay committed, regardless of how easy or hard it comes to me. I am in such a better place than I was 7 months ago and I feel both very proud and thankful. I have been focused on doing everything I do with greater intention: working, eating, moving my body, meeting and connecting with people, traveling, reading and writing/blogging. I have also been paying closer attention to my surroundings and to the things I do so I can better grasp whether they build me up or drag me down. Numbing out to deliberately avoid dealing with my emotions and feelings is no longer an option for me. Rather than just mindlessly living, I want to be present because life is happening “here and now”.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My trip to Switzerland

I think that it goes without saying that when we “truly love Nature, we find beauty everywhere“. Just under two weeks ago, I went for a a family roadtrip around Switzerland and it was oh-so-lovely to get reunited with my parents and sis in a country where there’s so much natural beauty. Exploring new territories always gets me pretty stoked but, as the outdoorsy person that I am, I love to wandering off the beaten track. Being completely out in the Nature is just Paradise to me and let me tell you that the landscape of the Swiss Alps is as jaw-dropping as I had imagined. ♥

Since we rented a car, we got to visit aseveral places in Switzerland and it was great to see so much of the country in just 5 days! We went to Lausanne, Interlaken, Broc, Zurich and Geneva. Sadly, we did not get to see much of Lausanne because we just stayed a night there. We did get to properly explore Zürich and Geneva, two cosmopolitan cities by the water that result in a beautiful combination of urban life with nature. Even though there is a lot going for both cities (Arts, Sciences and Design-wise), it would have been a shame to travel to Switzerland only to visit them. The highlight of our trip was definitely wander around the splendid countryside. The beautiful image of cows grazing on the mountain prairies with the Alps as a backdrop is still stuck in my mind! Also, all the hiking lovers out there, please take note of this: Switzerland is like paradise on Earth! There are plenty of hiking trails that have stunning scenery all along the way and that will make you feel glad to be alive.

I thought I would share with you the things I loved the most about Switzerland (hoping I can convince those who haven’t had the chance of visiting it, to do it)!

  • Inhaling the fresh pure air from the Swiss Alps
  • Being surrounded by plenty of greenery untouched by man
  • Breathtaking landscapes over Swiss mountains
  • The beyond beautiful crystal clear lakes that are just awe-evoking
  • The spectacular scenic roads
  • Cows roaming freely in the beautiful alpine landscape 
  • The pituresque wooden chalets
  • The delicious high-quality Swiss chocolate that is so worth indulging in
  • Hiking trails that take you through breathtaking views

Because Switzerland is world famous for its chocolate, in our third day there we decided to visit the Cailler Chocolate factory. I’d totally recommend it to anyone who loves chocolate and wants to learn more about it. The tour is very interactive and lasts for about 1 – 1.5 hours. It takes you on a very interesting, insightful and literally delicious journey through the history of Cailler, which for those of you who do not know, is the Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand. You get to learn everything about the different stages of chocolate production; from cocoa plantation to the finished and packed product! There is a free chocolate degustation at the end of the tour, where you have the chance to try all the chocolates produced by Cailler. It is any chocolate lovers’ dream, am I right or am I right?! The tour is so insightful that makes you see and appreciate chocolate in a whole new way. It made me feel like I was trying chocolate for the very first time. The tour guided us to use all our senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste ) so we could get the real chocolate experience! It showed us how tasting chocolotate really is an experience; it is all about looking at it and trying to make up how it tastes , inhaling and pondering the aromas we can sense, sensing its texture, tasting its rich flavour and enjoying its aftertaste.

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Here are are some more of the photos taken during my trip that I found worth-sharing with you guys:

Interlaken

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Broc

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Zurich

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Geneva

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Have you had the chance of visiting any of these places? If so, how did you like it? Would you recommend visiting any other city in Switzerland? 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful