February Favorites

It's time for my last post for February, which makes it my Favorites post! This month was a bit of a rollercoaster, with great times with beautiful people, challenging times at work, great runs and the winter blues. Fun as it was, I'm always glad when February is over, because that means we're getting close to spring!

Favorite day: That awesome day in Z├╝rich with Andrea. I can't believe it's already been a month!

Favorite food: The red velvet mini cupcake I ate that day at Cupcake Affair.

Favorite evening: That one evening after the worst day at work, when I just left my laptop closed and we watched Captain America. I needed that evening.

Favorite paper project: My One Little Word vision board. I loved making it, and I love how it turned out. It's actually one of my favorite paper projects ever!

Favorite reads: Elise's essay on turning 30, and Sas' blogpost on choosing and re-choosing.

Favorite music mix: Change is Good, a spotify list by Annemerel. this is exactly the kind of music I need when translating something at work, or when reviewing materials. Or when writing blog posts (it's playing as we speak).

Favorite healthy snack: carrots with houmous. So good :)

Favorite item on the agenda: Believe it or not, I'm actually excited for my (3rd...) driving exam next week. I have a good feeling about it!

Favorite run: it's a close call between my fastest ever 5k or my 7k, which is more than ever... Nope, can't choose.

That 5k at 6'45" felt amazing, my legs hurt for 2 days, but it was awesome to be this fast in a training. That's promising for any 5k races this year! My 7k last Sunday was amazing as well. I ran it at an average pace of 7'29", which is a job well done for me. The best part of that run was how I felt, though. After the first 2.5k I really found my flow, and I had the idea that a runner's high was right around the corner. I can't wait to go for 7.5k next weekend!

My go-to granola recipe

 If you've been following me on Instagram for a while, there's a chance you know that I'm trying to eat healthy. It's an adventurous journey and at times I'm really bad at it, but I keep trying new things and making adjustments as I go. and I just try to keep going.
One of the foods my body doesn't like that much is wheat. I can eat it sometimes without feeling blegh, but not on a daily basis. A few years ago I started eating yoghurt/quark with granola for breakfast, and I haven't looked back since.

This granola recipe is my all-time favorite. And the best part is that I came up with it myself! Ok ok, it's based on some recipes I found online (just Google paleo granola, you'll find tons of recipes). But I mixed and matched and in the end I made my own. It's satisfying, yummy and healthy. Plus, there's cacao in it. Great way to start your day :)

2 cups of nuts (any nuts will do. I usually get a mixture of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and cashews)
2 cups of oats
1 cup of buckwheat
1/4 cup of ground flaxseeds

1/3 cup of coconut oil
2 heaping tbsp of honey
2 tbsp of cacao
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1 tsp of vanilla (I use an aroma, but I'm sure vanilla extract would work as well, or even better)
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to about 160°C / 320°F.
Chop your nuts roughly using a food processor.
Combine your "dry ingredients" in a bowl: nuts, oats, buckwheat and flaxseeds. Mix well and set them aside for now.
In a small pan over medium heat melt and mix your "wet ingredients": coconut oil, honey, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.
Stir until the coconut oil has melted and you have a nice, smooth mixture.
Pour this mixture over your dry ingredients and make sure every bit of your granola is coated.

By now your oven should be hot.
Spread your coated granola evenly on a lined baking sheet and press firmly with your spatula to make sure you get a compact layer.
Bake for 15 minutes. Stir. Bake for another 5 minutes.

And your yummy granola is ready to go :)

I love this recipe. I eat it with some quark, a bit of honey and lots of fruit. But I'm sure it would be good with milk too, if you prefer that!

I like big books and I cannot lie... #1

At the beginning of this year I set myself a few goals. One of them was to read 26 books in 2015.
We're nearing the end of February, and currently I'm at 4/26. I consider that not too shabby :)
I thought I'd share sort of a book report every time I've read 4 - 5 books, and that means it's time for my first update.

1/26 - John Green - The Fault In Our Stars

TFIOS has been on the top of my to-read list for a long time. This is always a tricky thing, because together with the hype around a book, it can cause a big anticlimax. And, let's be honest, this was a big contestant for anticlimax.
Nevertheless, I thought it was a beautiful book. One thing people tend to forget is that this book is written as a Young Adult novel, and that you should read it as such. I loved the story as a 26 year old, and I'm sure I'd have loved it even more if I had read it when I was 16.

This book is also a beautiful love letter to Amsterdam, by the way. It's fun to read about a city you actually know! (This doesn't happen so much when you're living in a country the size of a postage stamp)

2/6 - Jan Wolkers - Terug Naar Oegstgeest

Terug Naar Oegstgeest is a Dutch classic. I didn't know what to expect, but I never expected it to be this beautiful. It took a while before I really got into the book, but when I got there... wow. In this book the writer tells about his childhood in "Oegstgeest", a little village in the Netherlands. At first you get the feeling that his childhood sucked, that he has quite some childhood traumas. But as he continues, you start feeling the love he secretly has for this little town, for his memories. It's sort of an ode to "life as it once was". I loved it.

3/6 - Susannah Conway - This I Know - thoughts on unraveling the heart

I'm starting to sound like a broken record - I loved this book. LOVED it. This was my first non-fiction this year, and it was exactly what I needed. Starting with how her world fell apart after the man she loved suddenly died of a heart attack, throughout this book Susannah writes an ode to life. The way she describes getting in touch with herself makes this book the best way to start the year in which FEEL is my One Little Word.
I'm positive I'll be reading this book over and over again. Susannah has a magical way with words, and her photographs are so inspiring to me!

4/6 - James Dashner - The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is a book right up my alley: I love me some Young Adult dystopian novels. I devoured The Hunger Games and Divergent, and I had heard good stories about The Maze Runner, so I was excited to dig in.
I thought it was a great read, but you do really have to be into the whole "group of teenagers in a weird and dangerous situation need to solve a problem to get out" thing. Which I am, luckily.
So far I've only read the first of the 4 books (there's also a prequel), and I have just started #2. I'm not sure yet if I really want to read all 4 of them as a part of my reading challenge.. The problem with series though, is that you want to know what happens! Cliffhangers!!

By the way - I've heard some negative comments about the writing style of The Maze Runner. I can't tell you anything about that. I guess since I'm not a native English speaker that doesn't bug me as much :)

One Little Word - January and February

I cannot tell you how much I love my One Little Word this year. It's hidden in everything I do, I run into it in every book or magazine I read. It's everywhere, and I love it.

For my title page this year I decided to go simple: just a picture with my word and the year. This picture is special to me: I took it last summer when we were in Cinque Terre, Italy. The feeling I had that day is a feeling I'd like to bring into my life more often. That's why I picked two pictures of that sea to accompany my word this year.

Now I hate to brag, and this feels like bragging, but I'm pretty happy with how my pages for the first two months came out. At first I just printed the January cards Ali provided in the classroom and wrote my thoughts on them. But since I'm not using pocket pages (I'm using a5 page protectors), I just couldn't make it work on a page. So after getting crafty for the February vision board, I decided to redo most of them. I'm super happy I did. See for yourself (and scroll down for those rotated pages):

In both my Project Life album and my One Little Word album I journal in Dutch. This is the language I think in, and it is the language in which I can express myself best. To read what my plans are with FEEL, please check out this post. It's a summary of all that I have written on these pages.

The magazines I used to make my vision board are Dutch as well. Some expressions on there are difficult to translate, but it more of less breaks down to this: the top cloud speaks of things I want to make time for this year (and whattayaknow, they match my goals for this year!). The middle, bigger words are "my life" "life is wonderful" and "strength". And the words below mention things I want to do this year, like being honest, making my own choices, looking within.
I'll be printing a picture of it to add to my OLW binder, since it's way too big to add. And since I really love how it turned out, I'll probably be hanging it somewhere in plain sight :)

*One Little Word® is a concept created by Ali Edwards. The idea is that you choose a word at the beginning of the year, a word that will be your guide that year. Each month Ali shares a prompt that you can use to think and craft about your word. You can find out more about it here and you can still sign up for the class here

My favorite music mixes

When it comes to music I would say I'm pretty regular. I can't imagine my life without music, but I can't say I'm a musical know-it-all, either. It does make me more productive, it helps me focus, it soothes my bouts of anxiety,  it makes me feel all the feelings. I love music.

What works best for me is music mixes. I sometimes get sort of tired of a band or artist when I'm listening to their full album, and music mixes are a great way to fix that. Especially since I discovered 8tracks a while ago. I love to just pick a mix, and let it surprise me. Sometimes I decide it's not for me after a few numbers, sometimes it gets added to my list of favourites in no-time. I have collected quite some favourites over time, some that are great to get complete focus, some that are great to get the creative juices flowing, and some that are just great.

Some of my favorites to get into my focus zone:
The Hunger Games - Catching Fire soundtrack
Warm blankets
Songs to be alone to.
Cold cozy nights, warm blankets and good music

Some of my favorites for when lyrics are too much distraction:
Read more, write more
Into a world of fairytales and wonders vol. 2
Instrumental music to make your brain work
No seriously, I need to study

Some of my favorites to get crafty:
Sunday morning sunshine
Wake up, be awesome 2
The view must be good from up there
Begin Again soundtrack

Oh, and one of  my favorite bloggers, Annemerel, recently shared this mix on Spotify called No shame in my game. All of these songs came out when I was in my early teens, so I basically grew up with these songs. I have to admit... I have had many solo sing-along moments since finding this mix ;)

So tell me, what kind of music do you listen to?