City life · Life

How I plan to make time to see my friends 

    I find friends to be the most important thing in life after family – sometimes even replacing family. Living abroad is hard in many ways, missing my friends first and foremost. 

    After several years in Brussels, I can confidently say that I’ve made friends that make this city #worthlivinit. But between short winter days (seriously, the sun is not up until 9am and it’s already dark at 5pm!!!), the cold and the long working hours I often find myself longing more for Netflix than for my friends. BUT NO MORE! 

    I’m determined to see more of my friends in 2017, it’s probably the one resolution that will make my heart feel calm and happy. Not pottery classes, not singing in a band, not learning how to cook, but FRIENDS. 

    But how do I make time to see them more? I don’t go out much, let alone in this cold weather. So I do need to figure out a plan to stick to and make the most of my free time with my friends. Here we go: 

    1. Make more spontaneous plans: 

    In Brussels people tend to make long-term plans to meet up: let’s meet up the weekend after the next!, I’m organising a dinner in February!, are things people often say. Of course busy work schedules and demanding family responsibilities (i.e. children) take priority (and rightfully so), but this should not stop me from picking up the phone at 6pm whenever I feel like seeing a friend and just call them. Let’s grab a coffee in an hour! There’s a good movie on in a couple of hours, let’s hit the theatre! Come by my place, I’ll cook something quick! It’s that simple — try it 3 times per week, it works wonders.

    2. Plan ahead as well

    As cool as spontaneous plans are, try to also plan head a little. This will help you manage work hours better. Pick a couple of days in the week that seem quiet and put your date with friends firm in your calendar. This way your colleagues will know not to schedule calls on that time (useful for people like me working with the US a lot and thus working many times late in the afternoon) and you will also remember not too take up too many tasks that day. Chances are you will probably need to reschedule at least a couple of times, but at least you have something fun to look forward to besides the weekend!!!!

    3. In case of doubt – dinner and a movie!!! 

    The rules of dating apply very well to friendships too I find. You have to live, respect, and enjoy the person you are going out with. Plus, the best date ever is dinner and a movie! This is an easy choice that gives you the chance to talk, drink, eat, laugh/cry/wonder together with your friends. It can also be for a big group (Rogue One) or a more intimate one (Paterson). 

    This is what we actually did last a couple of days ago, after work with two of my best buddies here in Brussels. We went to see Paterson at the Cinema Galeries in Brussels (what an amazing movie theatre!!) I reeeeeaaaallly liked the movie (I found it so calm and beautiful, and the poems recited were so touching and I’m a huge Jim Jarmusch fan anyways) my friend V. found it so and so, and my other friend V. didn’t like it too much. But we had a super discussion about it afterwards over fish and chips at the great Bia Mara – a great choice for late eaters like ourselves. Cool interior design, amazing music choices (Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Clash!) and of course DELICIOUS FOOD. Not only for fish lovers though, chicken and veggie (like my fish) options are available as well. 

    The amazing veggie cheeseballs!
    My new favourite theatre in town.

    Life

    My 2016

    Every wellness blog that respects itself advises that writing down the things we are thankful for can help be happier. I don’t know if this is true or not, but in this spirit I will do that for 2016, a very weird year that I don’t know if I’m happy it’s over or not….

    2016 was mostly a “waiting year” for me, meaning it felt like I was prepping for something bigger that is going to come in 2017. It might be that I moved in with my boyfriend, which has put me into the natural state of thinking about the future, or the fact that I started getting what my new job is about, which means more enjoyment but also more responsibility for me in the new year!

    I love that I did a few good trips in 2016 (most memorably twice to Rome, my new fav city in the whole world!!!!), but I want to do even more and go even further in 2017. Which prompts me to be a bit more spontaneous when booking stuff – I already booked a weekend in Lille for January and one in London for February (thanks tax authorities for returning these 200 euros, best Xmas gift evahhhhh).

    I’m extremely thankful that I have my health, my friends and family have stayed healthy too, I like my relationship and my day job is interesting enough to keep me exited. This little blog is kind of fun too. I love how people from all over the world take a few seconds every now and then to take a read, look at the picture, even leave a comment. It’s a special connection that makes the whole effort really #worthlivinit!!!! 🙂

    So, all in all, 2016 has been a good year. But I have so much more I’m looking forward to in 2017!!! I have the constant feeling that there is so much more to achieve, to experience, to taste and feel and I want to have it all!!!! I guess this is the healthy approach to the new year, we have to be hopeful that better days are coming! White days for sure 🙂

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    Winter shot from snowy Greece, yes it happens here too!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!! And remember to love, love, love, nothing else matters 🙂

     

     

    City life · Travel

    Christmas in Athens

    I left Brussels early this year to start my Christmas holidays in Greece (as always-try tell my mom otherwise!)

    Before going to my hometown to spend a few days with my family and my closest friends, I spent a few days in Athens. And I really had the chance to remember why Athens is one of the greatest cities in the world to visit even in the winter, despite the crisis and the difficult times the country is going through. 

    Before leaving to our respective hometowns, the boyfriend and I decided to spend a few days in Athens – a tradition we started last year and I think we will keep up for many more years to come. We started off our first day with a walk in downtown Athens, around Monastiraki Square – one of the most beautiful areas in Athens. If you’re ever there, you should definitely go for a coffee/drink/light snack at the rooftop of A for Athens. This is a great hotel with a lovely rooftop that offers one of the best views in the city. 

    Great view from the rooftop of he A for Athens Hotel at Monastiraki square. Oh the view, oh the Greek sun!!
    We continued our walk towards Petralona to visit the amazing cafe that goes by the name “Kyrios Hou” which in Greek means “Mr Who”. I’ve seen so many pictures of this place online that left me with no choice than paying it a visit. It really is one of the most interesting cafe bars I’ve seen, the inside decoration is A-MA-ZING and the home made lemonade as delicious as it gets. The DJ’s music choices are a very welcome addition to complete the picture of the perfect place to have a drink. 

    Have you ever seen anything cuter than this space? Everything well looked after down to the last detail (hello marble tiles floor!)

    To finish off a great day, what’s better than a cocktail at one of the most lively and colourful covered alleys in Athens. If you now nothing more about this amazing city other than the Parthenon, you should definitely reconsider because Athens’ nightlife is UNPARALLELED!!!! The bars, the energy, the smiles, the pretty crowd is always there, even now, during these very hard times because of the financial crisis. 

    Around the historic center of Athens, we can find many little bars hidden behind old shops or covered alleys – one of them being Rehab. A great bar, with great amazing, and a great range of cocktails. I tried the “thirty one”, because once I see tequila and orange in the same sentence, I’m instantly sold, but I’m sure there is  something for everyone!

    The bar at Rehab is exactly like I would build my ideal bar wall at home 🙂
    I hope you all get to spend these days with people you love, doing things you love, making memories you’ll cherish forever, eating amazing food, taking amazing pictures, laughing, dancing, singing, doing whatever makes your heart feel full. 

    Happy holidays!!

    Food

    Sunday chicken roast

    I believe that in every country there is something people traditionally eat for lunch on Sunday. It’s probably because that is the time of the week that the whole family gets the time to gather around the table, share food, their news from the week, gossip, laughter, and sometimes insults (???!!! no, never ever in my family, no…)

    Where I come from this traditional Sunday lunch dish is roast chicken with oven potatoes. A simple and cheap dish that can feed 4 people easily. It’s still one of my favourites, because you can not really go wrong with it.

    The recipe I will give you today is a very quick one, that gets its extra taste from the spices we are using.

    Here’s all you’ll need:

    • 1 chicken (the size does not matter in this situation…)
    • Potatoes (again, as many as you want, depending on the size of your baking tray. Just make sure that they’re all spread our nice and even, like in the picture below, to avoid any of them being left uncooked). Cut them in whatever form you like, but I usually go for long-ish pieces. The recipe works very well with baby potatoes as well.
    • Spices: This is actually what will take the dish to the next level. Exactly because chicken and potatoes have a pretty basic taste, it’s always good to spice things up (pun intended). What we used for this recipe: salt, freshly grounded pepper, smoked pepper (this is a bit more difficult to find, but I would recommend you get some not just for this recipe but pretty much for every meat dish you prepare. We use this one all the time, it’s of course difficult to find it outside Greece, but it’s really the best sh^&t ever, try to find it and make it happen!), oregano, and some sweet paprika. What you can also do to give your chicken this golden colour, is to rub it with some “chicken mix” spices (these are pretty easy to find).
    • Olive oil (50ml for a 20x30cm baking tray)
    • 250 ml water (again, for a 20x30cm baking tray)
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1 tablespoon of mustardimg_0615

    How to cook it:

    • Pre-heat your oven at 180℃.
    • Sprinkle the chicken mix, the smoked pepper, the salt and the freshly grounded pepper all around the whole chicken and rub it well! (slightly pornographic, I know!)img_0589
    • Add the tablespoon of mustard inside the chicken.img_0602
    • Add the garlic clove inside the chicken as well (just put the clove as a whole, no need to smash it beforehand).
    • Add oregano, sweet paprika, salt and freshly grounded pepper on the potatoes.
    • Sprinkle olive oil all over the chicken and the potatoes.
    • Add the water.
    • Place the tray in the oven and let it cook for about 30 minutes at 180℃. After 30 minutes, you should take the tray our, turn the chicken on the other side and also turn all the potatoes to make sure that they are not overcooked on one side.

    I hope you do try it and let me know how it was!!!

    BON APETIT

    (and yes, in case you were wondering, this the boyfriend cooking, hihihi #solucky)

     

    Life

    How to avoid spending any money during Black Friday and cyber weekend

    There was a bit of hysteria during these past few days, Black Friday and all. I almost bought a curling iron, a hand mixer, and a pair of black jeans. I was completely smitten of course by the sales (which were not so impressive to be honest…) and the fact that everyone and their auntie were talking about buying stuff because it makes so much sense now that everything is 20% off (again, not so impressive…)

    So I put the aforementioned items in my virtual shopping cart on several different website and was ready to hit “Confirm” until I changed my mind every single time right at the last second. Why? I’m not really sure, but I found myself asking the same questions, either in my head or out loud, before making any of these buys:

    giphy

    1. Do I really need this item? 

    I know this sound like the biggest cliche ever, but it’s true that this simple question works almost every time. Do I really need a curling iron? No, my hair is curly already, maybe the trick is to invest into better hair styling products to make my curls more bouncy and shiny. Do I need this pair of black jeans? No, I actually have another pair that’s a bit faded, it’s true, but can hold for a little longer. And I do have another pair of woolen black trousers that I paid too much money for so I need to make as much use out of it as possible!

    2. Do other people (WHOSE OPINION MEANS SOMETHING TO ME) think I need this item?

    Oh my, this is a totally different question! Going back to the curling iron example, I asked my boyfriend while I was thinking about buying it:

    – What do you think about me buying a curling iron?

    – Honey, isn’t your hair already curly?

    – Yeah, but this will help my hair look more structured and “professional”. Have you noticed how the hair of our friend P. looks good with nicely defined curls all the time?

    – Ehmm…no I haven’t.

    – Ok…but would you like me have curls that are more defined and structured?

    – No, I actually like your hair very much, I find it very sexy.

    Case closed. I DO NOT need that curling iron.

    3. Can I spend this money in something that would make me more happy?

    Following the latest trend that we should only keep in our lives what makes us happy – that being furniture, people or habits, I really thought about where I should be spending my few hundred euros on, instead of pants, hand mixers or curling irons. I was surprised to see that I managed to answer this question in a nano-second, which probably was a good sign that I should not be buying stuff that do not make my heart and mind jump at the mere thought of them. I want to spend money on traveling, house decoration (I’ve been after 3 bar stools for the past 9 months), and books. The mere thought of having a perfectly equipped apartment and a bunch of new books at my disposal made me so happy instantly. Much more than anything else I could find on Amazon.

    So I guess what this article teaches us is not really how not to spend, but how to spend in a way that we won’t regret it once the box with our purchase arrives!!!

    Don’t get me wrong though, I am dying to know what you got during the sales!!!

     

     

    Life · Travel

    The importance of getting away of it all

    Ahhh, last couple of weeks have been really tricky, on a personal and a more global level as well… (yes I am talking about the U.S. elections, yes I was surprised that he is the President-elect, yes I would have voted for her if I was American, yes I’m worried about election results in Europe next year, yes I don’t know what the future will bring, everything seems so uncertain right now).

    In times like these, when I feel like I’m challenged like never before, I turn to beauty for some consolation. And beauty is something I find in music, books, films and Paris. I was there for work, just for one evening, and was rushing to the train station to catch my train back to Brussels when I lifted my head and saw this:


    Yes, we will always have Paris. And we will always have beauty to fight off the ugliness of this world. Whether it’s the political situation, the uncertainty of our world, the fear of the unknown, or simply thoughts twirling in your mind making you sad, you can beat it. By choosing beauty. And happiness.

    Life

    The art of doing nothing

    Yesterday was a public holiday in Belgium. November is great like in this little country, as in many other European countries, two days off close to each other (the second one being on November 11) give people the perfect chance for a mid-season getaway.

    The day was the perfect autumn day. The sun shining, not too cold but crisp enough to make one feel the winter that’s coming, golden leaves everywhere, quiet and calm.

    And how did I choose to take advantage of the day. BY DOING NOTHING. Like absolutely nothing. Except of course for eating a lot, cooking a meal, finishing my book (A Room of One’s Own – highly recommended to all women out there!), finishing Narcos AND watching The Bridge on the River Kwai for the first time in my life.

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    Me realizing the day has gone by and all I did was eat.

    Funny thing is I couldn’t wait for this day off. Monday evening I was making all these plans in my head as to how I would have a big breakfast at home, go out early in the morning and take pictures of the amazing nature (yes, we’re lucky enough to have great green spaces in Brussels), do a little picnic in the park with my boy and a book, go visit a museum (I currently have this Picasso exhibition on my radar), then go back home, update my blog, study a bit of French and then finish off with a light dinner and Netflix.

    Instead, I didn’t leave my apartment not even for a second. My boyfriend at least took out the trash, but me? No, no way, on the lovely couch ALL.DAY.LONG. I didn’t even try my usual Sunday evening routine to fight the “OMG this holiday is so short” blues.

    Am I proud of it? Nope. Did I enjoy it? Yessssss. There is a certain guilty pleasure in doing nothing, like eating a lot of ice cream or reading gossip magazines that are full of extravagant lies or doing these two things simultaneously. I very firmly believe that we are more and more in need of some quiet time when we really don’t have to do or even think of anything. Just be. With our loved ones preferably but also on our own. I spend most of my days hooked on my phone, sitting on a desk across my laptop, running from meeting to lunch to meeting to dinner, trying to meet with friends, talk to my parents on Skype, do cultural stuff and go to the gym. On a daily basis. Which at some point starts looking like it’s the impossible deed that everyone is working towards. I’m lucky enough to live in a small city, I cannot even begin to imagine how life is for the New Yorkers or the Londoners out there. So, yes, very proud of not doing anything productive yesterday, just feeding my mind and my body 🙂

    What I ate: We tried two new recipes these past couple of days that really made my head fly off the roof.

    1. Greek version of meatloaf with bacon and eggs: Ok this is seriously the most delicious minced meat version I’ve ever tried in my whole life. Plus it was so much food that we were eating it for 3 days in a row – quite perfect if you ask me for a lazy day off that you don’t even want to think about cooking. Here below a token of this recipe’s amazing quality and here’s the recipe for those who date trying the most perfect meatloaf of all time.

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      Greek-style meatloaf and thank God for food.
    2. Chocolate brownies with tahini – completely vegan btw, which also kind of blew my mind. I couldn’t believe how delicious the result of this recipe was. If you’re lovers of orange and cinnamon like I am (not simply a fan, not even a huge fan, but A LOVER), then please try the recipe this weekend, you’ll thank me every bite of the way.