My first weekend of December in pictures.

Sometimes it is hard to completely switch my mind off of work mode the minute I leave the office. Oftentimes it feels like I need an entire day just to unwind from a hectic week at work. That is why I make sure that every now and then I have a slow weekend that I can I use to fully recharge for the week to come. My first weekend of December was just like that. I had two and half days all for myself and trust me, they did wonders to my mind, body and sould. Hence why I am here today to share it with you.

FRIDAY (evening)

I headed to the gym for an evening workout when I left the office and decided to combine my fitness session with the start of what I expect to be a compulsively readable and exciting thriller book.

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Blood is the sky by Steve Hamilton.

After the gym, I headed right away to the Nederlands Dans Theather to attend/watch a dance performance from “Significant Moments”. A friend of mine was kind enough to offer me the ticket and I am so grateful for it. I was in complete awe with the group’s absolutely amazing performance from the beginning till the end. The human body really is capable of so much beauty and is just art in itself. I loved it all, from the dynamic, amazingly coordination and energetic pieces infused with humour to the show of lights, sounds and rhythm. A gorgeous concoction of ballet, hip hop, modern dance and acting. This is what I call “starting the weekend right”.

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As I was biking my way home, I found myself in this cycling road and had to take a picture. The bare trees were looking so Christmassy and pretty with the fairy lights! It made me realise how I feel overall “lighter” and joyful when I allow myself to stop, look around and find beauty in the small things of life.

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SATURDAY

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Morning Breakfast before heading to my cardio/strength training class at the gym: vegan and gluten free mini pancakes paired with coconut yoghurt and fresh blueberries. When I think I might fancy some pancakes for breakfast, I usually prepare them the night before so that all I need to do next morning is to pop them in the oven and eat! Quick, simple and without the need of rushing. I know, I know…they might not look like the prettiest pancakes but they were still tasty and crispy regardless! Plus, ugly pancakes are just as delish as perfectly golden and round ones!

Despite the gym class being quite physically intense (as per usual), it was still great fun! It is amazing how the instructor makes every class so entertaining with his cheerful mood and energy. There are moments when it does not even feel like you are working out. You just go with the flow, have a great time and end the class with a big smile (and ok a sweaty and red face too).

After my gym class, I caught a train to a nearby city, where I had never been before, and went for some much needed Christmas shopping. The city is called Amersfoort and is just 15 minutes away from where I live.

It was a short train journey but I still managed to do some reading and eat my homemade wrap for lunch. This is usually the meal I go for whenever I know I am gonna need a lunch on the go. It is simply a carrot wrap filled with mushroom-based mince meat from Quorn, green onions, spinach and cilantro. It was very yummy and it totally hit the spot!

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One of my goals for this year was to explore not only more of Europe but also more of the country where I live. Thus, I was glad to cross another Dutch city off my bucket list just before the end of the year! Despite having been caught up in the rain and getting soaking wet (which is not that unusual anyways lol), it was a well-spent afternoon roaming and wandering around the unknown streets of Amersfoort.

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I also got to explore a new cafe, something I absolutely love to do whenever I have the chance. The cafe is called “Barista cafe Amersfoort” and is it not so quaint and cozy> The staff could not have been friendlier and the atmosphere radiating Christmas vibes was so lovely and inviting.

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I ordered myself a decaf cappuccino with unsweetened almond milk and a slice of dairy and gluten free toasted banana bread with cranberries, almond flakes and hazelnuts.  The cappuccino was perfectly served and the banana bread just scrumptious. They both provided me that extra shot of motivation and, as a result, I was able to have a productive afternoon working on new content for the blog.  I don’t know about you guys but I have always loved working in coffeeshops. I find that they enhance both my creativity and concentration levels.

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Because I was enjoying my time at the cafe so much, I also decided to ordered a fresh ginger tea with lemon (one of my favourites).

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When I left the cafe and made my way back to the train station, I managed to capture the last bit of autumn.

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As it was super cold outside, when I got home I went straight to the shower and then put on some fuzzy socks and my comfy pjs. After feeling all nice and cozy, I made myself a nourishing dinner: chickpeas pasta, green beans, mushrooms, baked mustard tofu, watercress leaves and fresh cilantro. Just what my body was craving. I ate it whilst catching up on the last episode of “This is Us”. Any other fans of this show out there?

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SUNDAY

After a restful night of sleep, I woke up on Sunday morning and headed to the yoga studio, which is just a short walk from my house. I love doing a Power Yoga class first thing in the morning because it not only gives me mental clarity but also because it allows me to start my day in a positive light. Sunday is the only day of the week where I skip breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. It is advisable to practice yoga in the morning on an empty stomach. Having food in the digestive system can disrupt the overall yoga practice as it interferes with the rhythm of the body. Doing yoga poses take energy away from the digestive system and, if we have food is in our digestive tract, its capacity to digest becomes limited.

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After my yoga practice, which once again did wonders to my mind, body and soul, I was craving some real homemade comfort food. So, as for my post yoga refuel, I had this bowl of couscous paired with a mushroom and cauliflower stew. I topped it all off with fresh cilantro, some squeezed lemon, cracked pepper and toasted pine nuts. It was so tasty and it just goes to show that plant-based eating does not have to be dull or boring at all.

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One of the things I love the most about being at home during the weekend is to have the time to really tune in with my body, listen to the foods it craves and feed it accordingly. Plus, nothing beats nourishing our bodies with a homemade and hearty meal made with love and care, am I right or am I right? ♥

 

December is here, which means that Christmas is officially less than a month away and therefore it is most definitely not too soon to pop on a Christmas film and begin to feel festive! Yay. Plus, it was super cold and wet outside… and what’s better than staying in and watching movies when the rain is beating down?

I watched the movie “The Man who invented Christmas”, which tells the story of how Charles Dickens created “A Christmas Carol”. It is a lovely story and I recommend anyone who sees this season as special and somewhat magic to watch it.

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Also, when the weather is not working in my favour, I love a good book to snuggle up with. So after watching the movie, I have finished reading the book “The Universe has your back” whilst sipping a cup of hot camomile tea. I absolutely loved it and it was just the perfect way to end the rainy Sunday.

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This relaxing weekend left me refreshed and ready for the new month and for everything that it holds. How amazing is it that each month offers us the chance to start fresh, with a new mindset, focus and intentions? This slow start to December reminded me of how important it is to give myself a little grace, turn off my ” go go” mentality, put aside my to-do list and just unwind. After all, with our busy lives and only some precious little time away from the grind, we need to make every moment of our free time count. The best way to do it is by making time for the things and people that make our soul happy and our life more fulfilled.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

A great start to September.♥ 

Due to having a father who is an artist, art has always played a huge role in my life. Dad has always motivated me to continuously develop my creative self and see the world as an amazing art masterpiece. Also, due to his influence, going to art museums and galleries has been a rather normal thing to do in my free time ever since I was a little child.

As someone who loves to behold art in all forms, I feel incredibly lucky (and grateful) to live just a short 30-mins train journey away from, what are in my opinion, some of the best museums we have in Europe. To mark the beginning of September – hands down my favourite month of the year – I decided to take the train to Amsterdam and have some quality time at the Stedelijk museum. After all, we must spend our time doing what we love (as often as we can) because life is way too short to be wasted doing things that do not make us happy.

My Saturday actually started in a busier way than usual. A friend of mine slept at my house from Friday to Saturday and I had to wake up quite early to help her getting ready for a wedding. When she left my house, I went to my usual cardio/strength training class at the gym and afterwards I just made my way to Amsterdam. Stedelijk, the largest museum of modern and contemporary art and design in The Netherlands, has been on my list of must-see museums in the country for quite some time. So happy for making time to finally visit it!

I find it so important to make room in our lives for art because it gives us meaning. It helps us to understand the world around us and, if we let it, art has the power to enable us to have a life that is richer in purpose, joy and creativity.  I love the fact that certain works of art can show us exactly what we are scared of expressing and admitting. Plus, there is something so special about stepping inside an art gallery and loosing myself in unknown shapes, colours, textures and stories. ♥

Visiting an art museum that was knew to me really made my Saturday afternoon. I thought I’d share with you the photos of some of the favourite things I saw at Stedelijk museum:

 

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… and, finally, I got to see the original painting from Mondriaan, one of the pioneers of abstract art.

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I also learnt that the studios in The Netherlands and France where Mondriaan lived reflected the way he painted and expressed himself ins his paintings (i.e. geometrism and grids of black, white and primary colours). I guess that this shows that the environment we create around us really is a reflection of our state of mind.

 

Last but definitely not least, here is something that I read about how art – as we know it today – emerged in the Netherlands and that is so worth-sharing:

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Concept became more important than form; everything could, and art could be everywhere”. How beautiful. ♥

 

 

I hope this post served as a reminder of how important it is to do things that inspire us and make our soul happy. Have a lovely Sunday and great start to the week x

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

 

 

My Weekend Gratitude List – July 18

Friday (27th July)

I am grateful – oh so grateful – for the last weekend in Dusseldorf and for finally having opportunity to spend time with my best friend. I am  grateful for our reunion after 10 months and for realising that, no matter how much time goes by, there are things in life that never change. I am grateful for finally getting to see her first new apartment, for our homemade 3-course dinner out in the balcony on Friday evening and for how much thought and love my bestie put into it. I am grateful for the wine drinking under a gorgeous lunar eclipse and starry sky and for deep conversation about life and the Universe. I am grateful for all the dancing, shameless selfies and moments of pure bliss we shared together.

Saturday (28th July)

I am grateful for our slow Saturday morning. What a scrumptious brunch we had at home, followed by some self-care time that involved hair skin cleansing and moisturization and facial masks. I am grateful for feeling so worriless and at ease around her. I am grateful for the lovely cafe we went to, for the super friendly and ….for the person who invented frothy dairy-free cappuccinos! I am grateful for the time we spent planning our next trip together and for seeing that she is just as excited for it as I am. I am grateful for the time spent exploring Dusseldorf, for the great food we had for dinner at a Japanese restaurant and for the beauty that the city is by night.

Sunday (29th July)

I am grateful to hear that my bestie really enjoyed my visit and to realise that we do have an everlasting bond. I am grateful for our hugged goodbye that got us a little teary-eyed. I am also grateful for having had the opportunity of meeting this other close friend of mine, who has been sick for the last 5 days but is now feeling better. I am grateful for the catch up we had over a delicious vegan brunch that involved matcha pancakes with berries and açai bowls. I am grateful for our Sunday walk by the Rhine river and for the moments of laughter we shared. I am grateful for the perfectly sunny day with a nice breeze and for having had a smooth coach journey back home.

All in all, I am grateful for having people in my life who show me how wonderful it feels to live in the present moment and intentionally. I am grateful for having people in my life who make me forget that life might be a uphill task at times. I am grateful for having people in my life who believe in me, uplift me and see in me the person I want to see too. I am grateful for having amazing friends who make me cherish and treasure life. And, lastly, I am grateful for going to sleep with a smile in my lips and a heart filled with joy. ♥

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Taking care of plants.

When the sky is bright and the sun is shining, when I am barefoot on the grass and surrounded by Nature… that is when I feel the most grounded, the most content and the most free.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a huge garden and to have two wonderful parents who taught me how important it is to take care for living things. They have always nurtured my connection with Nature and, thanks to them, I became environmental aware by exploring the workings of nature. I have learnt to treasure wildlife and to appreciate this beautiful Planet Earth that we are so lucky to live in.

Currently, I live at an apartment in the city centre and despite the undeniable perks of the urban environment, I miss being closer to Nature’s sheer beauty. I can’t complain much about my surrounding because I can easily leave the house and go for a stroll in the park or by the Dutch canals but sometimes… sometimes I just wish I could look out the window and have a view of Nature in its purest form: leafy, green and raw.

That being said, bringing plants into my life was the best way I found to feel the closest to Nature when I am indoors. With the Spring approaching I felt this sudden urge of buying a zillion of plants. And oh well, I sort of did. Though I have to admit that I have unintendly  killed a few during these last couple of months…I know, I know. Shame on me. Nevertheless, now that Spring is finally here to stay, I am fully committed and firmly determined to properly take care of my house plants. I want to plant a few herb and flower and herbs seeds in some pots and I am super excited to nurture them and (hopefully!!) see them grow! The other day, I bought this tiny white Hyacinth at the supermarket and exactly one day after, it beautifully bloomed.

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It might sound silly but I can’t even tell you guys how truly happy and grateful it made me feel. Of course that this feeling would be heightened if I had actually sowed the seed myself.. but this is actually what I love about gardening: having the opportunity of seeing one of your “creations” to develop into something so beautiful.

As I have dabbled in gardening in the past, I know that taking good care of my house plants and seeing them grow can give me this indescribable sense of achievement, inner satisfaction and aesthetic pleasure. It might be a trivial thing for many but I feel like seeing my flowers blooming for the first time is a really rewarding endeavour. It makes me tap into a natural rhythm that is so powerful and that leaves me truly happy with myself. I feel like owning plants has this amazing power of improving my overall outlook on life and of brightening up my days.

Another amazing thing about gardening is that we are able to observe the cycle of life first hand. Growing a plant from seed and looking after it until it dies down for winter is quite a learning experience.

Even though plants react to the surroundings and circumstances they are in, they also move through life at their own pace. I feel like we, as humans, have so much to learn from Nature. After all, it gives us so much without asking anything in return. How amazing and rare is that? ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Sometimes ditching the routine is exactly what we need.

It is a cold and grey Saturday in The Netherlands. I woke up this morning, stepped into my yoga mat and did a beautiful and gentle fusion of Vinyasa, Kundalini and Yin Yoga. I normally wake up, make breakfast and head to the gym to my usual cardio intercalated with strength training workout session. However, after a long and tough week at work, where stress and anxiety were a constant, I felt like it was time to slow down and reconnect with myself. Practicing yoga as the first thing in the morning really helped me to set my breath for the day as well as my mental tone.. and, let me tell you guys, breaking the routine from time to time is great and needed. I am so glad for having had this slow start to the weekend. I see Yoga as cultivating love and compassion for myself. It allows me to find peace within myself whilst washing away not only my fears but also my troubling and negative thoughts. Today’s mantra was: “I am not my feelings. I am the space behind them” and oh boy, did I need to hear this? YES. I really needed to be reminded of this as I seemed to have forgotten it for the past few weeks.

Breaking my usual Saturday morning routine made wonders to my mind and soul. After all, how can we evolve if we keep doing the same things over and over again? We need to open up our horizons in order to see the world with different eyes. And sometimes breaking our routine is all that takes to reach that. 

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful