July Plans

I moved my blog to a new address. You can find more of my recipes, travel adventures and book reviews there.

Every month flies by so quickly. It seems like I was writing June plans just a few days ago but it has already been a month. It’s funny how you make plans with the best intentions and then life happens. I had some trips, visits and other activities planned for June, but in the end maybe half of the things worked out. But if I think about it half is actually still a pretty decent success rate.

Some of the activities I planned for June will actually happen in July. Seriously, flights are booked, itineraries are getting ready. And I also added some new things to my list. I will definitely benefit from long summer days and I can only hopefully that Belgian weather will cooperate (less rain and more sun in Brussels, please).

My plans in July involve all the things I love and need for a happy life. I have couple of good books ready, some summer activities in Brussels planned and we have some trips scheduled. So these are just a few things I look forward to in upcoming month:

1. Go to the Brussels Beach

The Brussels Beach is a summer tradition. It’s an urban beach created along the river banks for a few weeks in summer. In good weather it’s packed with people. Kids play in the sand, adults sip their cocktails, music is on and smell of good food lingers in the air. Since there are always many food tracks it’s also a great chance to try foreign cuisines.

2. Visit Munich, Germany

We have tickets since April but I still haven’t prepare itinerary for this trip. We will have 48 hours in Munich and I expect us to enjoy nice summer weather, good food, long walks and lots of leisure time. I’ll share some pictures over on my Instagram while there and a post later on. Do you have any suggestions as where to eat, what to see and what to do in Munich?

3. Read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Following in my series of self-improvement/inspirational books right after 168 hours and The Art of Work will be Outliers: The Story of Success.

I have heard and read such a good words about this book and after I read an excerpt on Amazon I knew I want to read the whole book. It arrived mid-June and in July I will finally dive in. And from August on I should know how to become successful 😉 I got paperback version so it will be a perfect companion for summer vacations. Don’t worry I’ll report back around the end of July with my review and nuggets from the book.

4. Check out how Belgian Royal family lives

Every year for a few weeks the Royal family opens their official Royal Palace for public. It’s a chance to walk on marble floors and under crystal chandeliers and admire the artwork on the ceiling in the Mirror Room. You can visit the Royal Palace for free from the end of July until early September.


What are your plans for July? Will you be in Brussels? Do you have any recommendations for us in Munich? I’ll be happy if you share in comments.

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Book Review: The Art of Work

I moved my blog to a new address. You can find more of my recipes, travel adventures and book reviews there.

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I decided to read at least one self-development book a month and in June I read The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. The book title got my attention when I was looking for something on Amazon and I ordered it right away. But after it arrived it was sitting on my bookshelf for months before I picked it up. At the end it worked out perfectly because at the beginning of June Jeff Goins started a book study for this book. The book study is planned for eight weeks and every Wednesday Jeff posts a video on his Facebook page in which he’s discussing one of the chapters of the book. You can watch the videos and benefit from his advice and insights without actually having or reading the book itself. For more info check out Jeff’s website or his Facebook page.

The book subtitle is “A proven path to discovering what you were meant to do” and in the book you Jeff writes about seven characteristics he noticed in the stories of people who discovered their calling, listened to it and acted upon it. Each chapter is devoted to one characteristic, which is described through the stories of ordinary, successful people Jeff interviewed and also on his own experience.

These are the seven characteristics Jeff identified with short description how I understood them:

1. Avareness

Listen to your life, it will lead you to discovering your calling. For each of us there is a calling. Each of us has a thing that he or she cannot not do. We just have to find it. We should overcome our fear and shouldn’t be discouraged if the path to our calling isn’t straight forward.

2. Apprenticeship

No one is an isolated island. We all have guides and advisors on our way through life. That’s what apprenticeship is all about. Learn from greater minds, more experienced, older and wiser.

3. Practice

To learn a skill, to master a craft, to create a product or achieve any kind of success, we need to practice. Deliberate practice, pushing through obstacles, pain and exhaustion, continuing no matter the fails and challenges is what distinguishes those who succeed and those who fail.

4. Discovery

It may be difficult to hear our calling. It doesn’t always come as we imagined it, it may not be the calling we were hoping for or dreaming about. The calling often comes in a form of opportunity we don’t feel ready for.

5. Profession

We are growing, developing and changing as human beings. Life around us is changing as well. Technologies, opportunities and needs of the world are evolving too. As a consequence our calling is changing through our lifetime. The life events, changes around us and influence of other people will change our course. It’s ok. Our calling is not a onetime thing. It is, in fact, a lifestyle.

6. Mastery

No one is good at one thing or has only a single task in life. We cannot be described with one word or put to a single box. Each of us has many role in life, many sides to our personality, many skills and desires which all together form our portfolio life. Each of us has a unique set of talents, values and goals in life and these define us and determine our calling.

7. Legacy

Our calling and our work are bigger than us. Part of everything we work on is the legacy we leave for the next generations. Our work needs to be good to influence those around us.

3 ideas from the book I liked the most

I really liked the chapter and ideas about the apprenticeship. We easily get the impression that successful people achieved their success all by themselves. It’s simply not true. We all have people in our lives who influence, shape and guide us. We cannot choose who will come to our life, who will be willing to invest in us, but we can choose from whom we will learn, who will be an inspiration for us and whose qualities, wisdom or profession we will aspire to.

Sixth chapter devoted to the mastery and describing the portfolio life was probably my favorite. The idea that our life is a portfolio of skills, talents and desires makes so much sense. We are complex beings after all. We cannot wait for a day when we will miraculously know what to do with our lives. We should do what we love, try many things and pursue many desires. They will shape us to a person we are meant to be and will help us discover our calling.

The last characteristic and chapter in the book devoted to the legacy is maybe the most important to understand to live a happy life. Maybe our contributions to the world will not be groundbreaking, maybe they will not be what we dreamed them to be, but if we spend our lives persistently working we will leave the legacy for the next generations. This legacy is equally as important as leaving a groundbreaking finished piece of work because it may be an important building block in something bigger.

 My favorite quotes from the book

“Every story of success is, in fact, a story of community.”

“Excellence is a matter of practice, not talent.”

“A calling is not merely a moment; it’s a lifestyle, a constant progression of submitting to a larger purpose.”

“It’s true that you are not what you do, but you can become what you practice.”

“Your calling is not a job. It is your entire life.”

Who is Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins is a writer, author of four books, speaker, online writing teacher and consultant. On his blog he writes about writing and life. He also hosts a podcast call The Portfolio Life where he shares his reflections, findings as well as interviews with fellow writers, speakers and people from other fields who responded to their calling.

You can find more about his work on Jeff’s blog and connect with him through his Twitter account, Facebook page or other social networks.

International Day of Yoga and Indian dhal recipe

I moved my blog to a new address. You can find more of my recipes, travel adventures and book reviews there.

Since today is the International day of Yoga and Yoga originates from India I will share with you one of our favorite recipes for an Indian dhal.

On Sunday we were in Bois de la Cambre, a park here in Brussels, together with hundreds of people to participate in an open-air yoga session. When hundreds of people gather to move in unison, to meditate and to share positive energy and thoughts it can be only awesome. And it was. Once we came home from the yoga session we prepared this dhal to enjoy another great gift from India.

Almost two years ago we had a once in a lifetime opportunity. We were invited to a traditional Hindu wedding in Delhi, India. It was our first visit to India and the first time in Asia actually. We were surprised and honored to be invited to the wedding and we could not wait for the day.

As a traveler you often visit places, see the monuments but rarely experience the culture, traditions or day to day life of the residents of a country. We really appreciated the time the parents of bride and groom as well as their extended families and friends spent with us, explaining wedding traditions, life in Delhi as well as different delicious meals we had a chance to taste.

One of the most typical meals in India, at least I had this impression, is a dhal. A dhal is traditionally prepared with legumes, spices, tomatoes, onions etc. There are many different variations of dhal, based on different types of legumes that are used. Dhals differ in color, smell, taste and spiciness, they are vegetarian and many of them even vegan.

On the wedding buffet we tasted many different kinds and when we went to Delhi city center we visited a spice shop to buy the typical spices used in dhals to be able to prepare them at home.

We found a web page dedicated to vegetarian Indian recipes where we always look for an inspiration when preparing a dhal. This one is based on dhal bukhara recipe from the Veg Recipes of India web site. We changed some small things to our taste.

Servings: 3 – 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of white urad dhal (sometimes we use mungo beans, green or black lentils)
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 onion, cut to small pieces
  • 2 clove of garlic, crushed
  • about 1 cm piece of ginger, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 25 grams of butter
  • 7 tablespoons of cream
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Soak the beans overnight.
  2. Drain the soaked beans, place them to a pot and cover with water. Water should be couple of centimeters above the beans. Bring to boil, lower the heat and let simmer until the beans are almost cooked. Lentils will be cooked in about 20 minutes, small beans such as urad dhal or mungo beans in about 40 minutes and larger beans in more than an hour. I usually change the water couple of times. With the last change of water add about 1 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Meanwhile blend the tomatoes in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  4. On a nonstick pan heat the butter, add the cut onion and sauté for a few minutes. Then add the crushed garlic and ginger.
  5. When the beans are almost cooked add the tomato puree. Since blended tomatoes contain lots of water you can remove excess water from the beans.
  6. Add ½ a teaspoon of the chili powder and sautéed onions, garlic and ginger.
  7. Let cook until the beans are well done. Taste and add salt or chili if needed.
  8. At last add 1 teaspoon of the garam masala powder and the cream and bring to boil one more time.
  9. Remove from the heat and let sit for a few minutes to let all the flavors mix together completely.
  10. Serve with a bread or the Indian naan.

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5 books to enjoy this summer

I moved my blog to a new address. You can find more of my recipes, travel adventures and book reviews there.

Summer is just around the corner. For me it means longer days, more time outdoors, more traveling and with all these activities goes hand in hand book reading. I bring books to parks, cafes and everywhere I travel.

Some summers I don’t travel that much but the books have this beautiful ability to take me anywhere in the world and not only to existing place or current time. With books you can travel to imaginary places, to different centuries in the past or future. You can experience the world through in your mind being led by someone else’s words.

I read a lot and I love many different genres and authors. These five books are a selection of some famous and some maybe not so famous titles that I loved in recent years. Each of the books is completely different than the others, with its unique story and a unique writing style of the author. But all of them are interesting, engaging and enjoyable.

BOOKS

  1. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  2. One day by David Nicholls
  3. Trains and Lovers: The Heart’s Journey by Alexander McCall Smith
  4. Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy
  5. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Brussels Notes: Living Room

I moved my site to a new address. You can find more of my recipes, travel adventures and book reviews there.

I know it’s only Thursday, but do you already have plans for the weekend? My weekend will be filled with pleasant activities. There is Brussels Yoga Day event in the park Bois de la Cambre on Sunday. I am really looking forward to dose of stretching, relaxation and positive energy. I just hope it won’t rain.

We were planning to go to Dinant or Mons on Saturday, but since the weather is unpredictable these days we will probably stay in Brussels. But even if we’ll stay in Brussels we won’t be spending the whole day inside. We’ll go for a walk and definitely stop for a coffee somewhere. Maybe the Living Room cafe again. It’s in perfect location, between metro stop Schuman and European Parliament, right next to the Leopold Park.

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I found the Living Room review on S Marks the Spots blog and from the pictures I knew it is the kind of place I will love. I love places where there are mismatched tables and chairs, comfortable couches and armchairs, where there is lots of daylight and where they serve tasty cakes and cookies. In the last month or so we have been there three times. It is a good indication that I fell in love with the place.

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On our visits we tried espresso, caffè latte, caffè macchiato, iced tea, ginger lemonade, scones, carrot cake, brownies and cookies which are all homemade and we were not disappointed. The cookie “caramelia” is my favorite and it is definitely the best cookie I had in Brussels. We haven’t tried their brunch menu yet so we have something to look forward to.

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The Living Room is also a design shop and I have already spotted few things that would be a nice gift to any of my girlfriends.

There is only a single problem with the Living Room, they are closed on Sundays.

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What are your plans for the weekend? Do you have a favorite cafe in Brussels? I’m always looking for nice new places worth a visit. Have a nice weekend!


Living Room

Place Jean Rey 8, 1040 Brussels (map)

Influencers: Marie Forleo

I moved my site to a new address. You can find more of my recipes, travel adventures and book reviews there.

I decided to start this series to introduce you to some incredibly interesting, inspirational and talented people who share their passion through their books, blogs, podcasts, talks and other platforms. These are the people whose stories I followed for some time and whose ideas, adventures and enthusiasm inspire me to work, try, create and change. I am sure you already know many of them, but maybe I can introduce you to some of them.

Marie Forleo is an entrepreneur, book author, writer, speaker and philanthropist. She started her life-coaching business back in the time when most of the people didn’t even know what life-coaching was. Over the years she pursued many of her dreams. At first she studied finance, then she started life coaching, she went to a hip-hop dance class and was so good that she traveled the world as Nike Elite Dance Athlete, she also wrote a spiritual book which was translated into more than 10 languages and she started the MarieTV and an online business school.

Over the years Marie build an online business, a powerful brand and great products. She’s hosting the award-winning weekly show MarieTV, she teaches in her B-school and she’s mentoring. Her teaching is based on her own experience and her goal is to help people to find that gift each of us has and use it.

Marie is inspirational, clever, genuine, funny and down to earth. She was named a thought leader for the next generation by Oprah and appeared in her Super Soul Session recently.

I am not starting a business, I don’t work for myself and my job is not in what would be considered as a creative field. Yet I love to hear her answers to the questions from viewers and readers, I love to feel the passion and positivity she shares in her videos, posts and talks and I love encouragement and advice she provides to everyone listening. Maybe, like me, you don’t need a business advice right now, or at least you think so, but you can be sure her advice and insights will make you think, not only in the boundaries of career or job, but about your life in general. All that information and knowledge she shares will not get lost in you or forgotten. You never know when you might use it.

My favorite quote from Marie Forleo is: “Everything is figureoutable”, because it reminds me that no matter where I am and what I struggle with I can figure it out, solve it, and accomplish it if I give it my best intention, my energy and my time.

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What I like about Marie Forleo

  • She has a very clear message, she knows her life purpose and she’s doing her best to help everyone else to find theirs.
  • She is not afraid to do things, to try new challenging projects, to learn and admit when she’s wrong.
  • She is multi-passionate person and an entrepreneur who is pursuing multiple dreams.
  • She is very friendly and absolutely engaged in what she does at the moment. Watching her videos feels like getting an advice from a good friend who listens to you, understands you and has been where you are now.
  • She is an awesome mentor: experienced, clever and encouraging.

My MarieTV Favorites

More about Marie Forleo

If you would like to know more about Marie Forleo go to her website or check out some of my favorite interviews with her or her talks.

Do you know Marie Forleo and her work? What are your favorite MarieTV episodes? And who do you consider to be influencer? I’m curious to find out in comments.

Brussels neighborhoods: The Old Town

I moved my site to a new address. You can find more of my recipes, travel adventures and book reviews there.

I’m sure the Old Town of Brussels is a neighborhood every visitor of Brussels visited. Historic heart of every city gets the most of the attention and time of busy travelers. And it’s absolutely legitimate and understandable. Even we spend lots of our time in the Old Town.

You can find everything in the Brussels city center: most famous and most popular sights, unique and traditional shops, trendy cafes, typical pubs, traditional and international restaurants and much more. You can buy the best Belgian chocolates here, eat typical Belgian waffles or drink all of the Belgian beers (but I wouldn’t recommend to do it in one evening ;)).

We have a few favorite spots where we grab a bite, a few favorite sights and places that still take our breath away and make us stop for a while, a few things we showed everyone who visited us here and a few places we would recommend to anyone planning her visit to Brussels.

An absolute heart of the city is about 500 meter radius around Grand Place. It may seem like a small area but it’s full of narrow streets, packed with things worth to see. I marked all the places I’m mentioning in the map which you can find at the end of this post.

Things I love to do in the city center

  • Walk the cobbled streets full of old buildings some of which are dating back to the 13th century.
  • Admire the grandeur and beauty of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
  • Take a look around the Grand Place and for the hundredth time look at the gold decorated guildhalls.
  • Visit the Museum of the City of Brussels to learn more about the history of Brussels.
  • Walk through the beautiful Galeries Royales Saint – Hubert.
  • Eat a waffle. It is a must in Brussels!
  • Grab a beer (or something else) in the most famous pub in Brussels, Delirium café.
  • Say Hello to Manneken Pis, get amused by how small he is and take selfie with this iconic symbol of Brussels.
  • Stop at a chocolate shop to taste yet another brand or type of chocolate for the first time.

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What follows next are few place I like. If you plan to come to Brussels and have only time to see the city center you shouldn’t miss them. All of these activities and places are worth your time and are very close to each other so even with a tight schedule you can see them all.

Sights

  • The Grand Place is Brussels main square with beautiful buildings all around. These are guildhalls which were used for meetings of craftsmen and merchants of the same profession.
  • You can see the City hall of Brussels also on the Grand Place and its tall bell tower is visible from a distance.
  • The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is about 5 minutes from the Grand Place and its architecture is very similar to the Cathedral Notre-Dame in Paris. There is a small park in front of the cathedral which is ideal for a short break before heading to the next sight.
  • The Galeries Royales Saint – Hubert is a glazed shopping arcade built at the end of 19th century. You can stop here for a coffee, to buy some Belgian chocolates or just walk through.
  • The St. Nicholas Church is a small but interesting church. It is surrounded by shops and from the outside it looks like they are all one building.
  • The small statue of Manneken Pis is a symbol of Brussels. You can find it on postcards, magnets, t-shirts etc. and you should definitely find this small iconic statue and take a selfie with it.
  • You can find the Jeanneken Pis fountain, counterpart to Manneken Pis,  right next to the Delirium Café, the most famous Brussels pub.

Eats & drinks

  • Lunch & dinner
    • Our favorite Italian restaurant in the city center is Pasta Divina where they specialize in delicious fresh homemade pasta. The restaurant is quite popular and it’s not only me who likes it. It has pretty good reviews on TripAdvisor and Google.
    • Another of our favorites in the city center is a tiny Belgian restaurant called C’est Bon C’est Belge. They serve only few meals but all are good representation of the typical Belgian cuisine.
    • If you would like to just grab a sandwich or baguette don’t hesitate to go to EXKI. It’s an international chain of healthy fast food restaurants, established in Belgium. They serve soups, baguettes, quiche, cakes etc.
  • Beer
    • The most famous Brussels pub is definitely Délirium Café. Here they have tens of different beers on tap and also hundreds others in bottles. The pub is almost always crowded, but there is still a good chance to find few free chair or you can drink your beer next to the bar.
    • If the Delirium Café will be completely full try Little Délirium Café. Theyhave smaller selection of beers, but they have all the best once.
  • Waffles and coffee
    • Our favorite waffle seller is the Waffle Factory. They have few tables inside and outside so you can eat your waffle there or take it with you. They have three kinds of waffles which they serve with sweet or salty toppings.
    • My favorite cafe in close proximity to Grand Place is called Coffee Company. Again it’s a tiny place, but nice and very cozy.
    • If you are in search for strong Ethiopian coffee while in Brussels, look no more. The Aksum Coffee House is the place you need to go. They serve fair trade Ethiopian coffee, tea and other beverages and the place provides true African experience, with music and all.

Museums & Events

  • If you want to learn something about the history of Brussels visit the Museum of the City of Brussels. It is located on the Grand Place in a beautiful old building which was in the past used as a bread hall. What I find as a huge advantage is that the museum is rather small and you can easily see everything during one visit. In addition to learning about the history of Brussels you can also see different costumes of Manneken Pis.
  • Every other year for one weekend in August the Grand Place transforms to a huge Flower carpet. This year it will be from 12th to 15th of August and if you happen to be in Brussels at that time you should come and check it out.

Shops

  • Belgian chocolate
    • My favorite Belgian chocolate brand is hands down the Neuhaus. You can find their shops everywhere in the city and one is also on the Grand Place.
    • Godiva is another well-known chocolate brand. I think it’s little pricier than Neuhaus but it’s worth the money.
    • Leonidas chocolate is my number three and you can also find it on every other street in the city.
  • Others
    • Home design shop Maisons du Monde sells nice, trendy and affordable furniture, dishes and home accessories. It is probably difficult to bring a piece of furniture as a souvenir, but with home accessories it’s easier. They are also nice gifts for friends. Few years back we bought Christmas decorations for our friends and they loved it.
    • The toy store called the Grasshopper is worth a visit even if you don’t plan to buy any toys. They have beautiful, educative and ecological toys for children of all ages. Every time we go there I wish I could buy something just for myself. 

The Old Town map

Neighborhoods close by

  • Quartier Royale
  • Sablon
  • Bourse & St. Catherine