I came back from my summer vacation just a few days ago. I always dream about a far location in foreign countries but this time we decided to go back home and we spent our summer vacation in my home town – Bratislava, Slovakia.
It was exactly the kind of vacation I needed. I totally unplugged, I didn’t read the newspaper, I didn’t watch the TV news, I didn’t log in to my Facebook account and I didn’t check my email for over a week. And the list of things I did is even better. I spent hours talking and laughing with my parents and friends. I bought everything I needed in sales without any hustle or crowds. I sipped delicious coffee in cafes in the old town while most of the people was at work. I played tourist in my own city and took lots of pictures of monuments as if I were seeing them for the first time. I enjoyed many traditional Slovak meals I don’t eat here in Brussels. And I slept, rested, walked and soaked up the sun when I had the chance. That’s how I imagine dream vacation.
I like my coffee big and creamy. And I love coffee shops where I feel like I’m in my friend’s living room, where I am comfortable, where I can read a book or have a heart to heart conversation with a friend. I love bright spaces with mismatched chairs where everyone seems to enjoy their ideal Sunday morning ritual no matter what day it is.
You can find this kind of coffee shop in every city, there are actually many of them. But you need to where they are and it may be sometimes difficult to find them in a new city. These past few months I was on a quest. I was looking for more unique and authentic coffee shops here in Brussels.
A coffee shop that complies my list of a perfect coffee place is Café du Sablon . It’s located in city center, right across the street from the church of the Notre-Dame du Sablon. The beautiful view and central location gains this place few extra points.
On the spur of the moment I decided to buy a domain and switch to self-hosting. Over the last weekend I was a busy bee, setting everything up, migrating posts, polishing the details, diving into css and in general learning a lot about the wordpress and self-hosting. I’m sure I will have fun in the next few weeks as I will be positively challenged by this new experience.
If you enjoyed this blog so far I will be more than happy to welcome you at the new address – pinkvagabond.com where I just posted a new book review.
If you ever wrote a book, read a good story or saw a great movie you will know that what Steven Pressfield wrote in his new book Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t is true. If you are writing a book, a movie script, an ad, a thesis or even a sales pitch then this book can help you.
Title of the book may sound discouraging but it was not meant to be. It only states the simple truth that there is no one out there just eagerly waiting to read your piece of writing. If you want people to read your writing, be it a book, an article, an ad or anything else, it has to be brilliant. Your writing needs to have a clear message and be funny, controversial, clever, interesting or catchy. It has to awake an emotion in a reader.
What is the book about?
Steven Pressfield started as an advertising copywriter then transitioned to book writing. Later he went to Hollywood to work on movie scripts only to come back to book writing at the end. In his career he learned a lot about writing. He found out that the best authors were applying the same storytelling principles, book structuring and the key components of a compelling story for centuries. He realized that these principles can be applied in other forms of writing not just fiction books or movie scripts.
For the past few weeks we have been preparing smoothie jars almost every day. We would have them as an afternoon snack at work around 3 pm when sugar cravings usually hit.
These jars are very easy to make and there are countless possibilities and combinations for the layers it in a jar. We have a few combinations we really like and prepare most often, for example chocolate smoothie + yogurt + fresh strawberries or granola + yogurt + strawberry & mint smoothie or this cookie dough smoothie + blueberries (recipe below).
You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. Fresh or frozen fruits and berries, yogurt, granola, oats, nuts and seeds or quinoa puffs are what we use most often.
What I like most about these smoothie jars is that they feel like a treat because they are sweet but are much healthier than any cookies or chocolate bars. They satisfy my afternoon sugar cravings and are packed with fiber, good fats and vitamins.
Cookie dough smoothie jars
Servings: 2 jars (about 330 ml each)
Ingredients for smoothie:
200 ml almond milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping tablespoon almond or cashew butter
¼ cup oats (optional)
½ – 2/3 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
oats or granola (optional)
Place the milk, bananas, cinnamon and nut butter to a blender and blend for couple of minutes. If you want your smoothie thicker you can add 1/4 cup of oats.
Put blueberries on the bottom of a jar so they reach to about ¼ or 1/3 of the jar. Next add oats or granola if you are using them. And pour in the smoothie.
We don’t work in the city center and we don’t have many reasons to go there during the week. But on the weekends we like to go to the city center for a coffee, to do some shopping or to the library for some new books. Usually we take a longer walk around the city center to check out if there is something happening on the Grand Place or just to take a look on our favorite places and monuments.
The old town of Brussels has its charm and beauty. The Grand Place in particular is memorable. I wrote more about my favorite places, monuments, cafes and restaurants in the city center in this post.
Here are few photos from our recent walk around the city center. It was raining on and off all day, as most of the days in June, but it was still nice.
I recently shared this picture with my friend. I was actually showing her our new plates but she was more interested in the food served on them and asked for the recipe. I decided to share the recipe also with you.
This chorizo & pepper jambalaya recipe is one of our favorites and we prepare it quite often. On the day I sent my friend the picture I was actually preparing it for the next day’s lunch. Well, that was the intention. Reality was that we couldn’t resist the fantastic smell that lingered in our apartment and ate our next day’s lunch right away as dinner. So in case you plan to have some leftovers double the recipe.
Everyone has favorite recipe websites. One of ours is BBC Good Food. We often look there for an inspiration for weekend lunches and some of the recipes are on rotation in our kitchen ever since we found them. This jambalaya is definitely one of them. It’s easy to prepare, it tastes awesome and with more than 600 positive reviews on the BBC Good Food website we were sure we won’t be disappointed.
I almost always change the recipes based on our preferences or the ingredients we have on hand. This recipe is no exception. I use wholegrain rice instead of white rice, I don’t add chicken because the chorizo has much better and stronger taste and I never have chicken stock just waiting to be used so I use organic powdered bullion instead. The original jambalaya recipe is from the BBC Good Food website and this is our version:
1 cup wholegrain rice
80 – 100g chorizo, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 – 3 tomatoes, diced
½ yellow pepper, thinly sliced
½ red pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon powdered bullion or ¼ teaspoon salt
1 – 2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
Place the rice, 2 cups of boiling water and bullion or salt into a pot. Bring to boil then lower the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. The time depends on the rice you use. It can take anywhere between 40 to 70 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan. Once heated add the diced onion and sauté for a few minutes. Next add the chorizo and sauté for additional 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add pepper and garlic (optional) to the pan and sauté for few more minutes. Set aside.
Check the rice. If it is almost cooked, add the diced tomatoes and Cajun seasoning. Mix well and let cook for additional 10 minutes.
If the rice is ready add the onion, chorizo and pepper mixture to the rice and mix well. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes before serving.