.: How to find motivation to cook just for one :.

I’m sure we’ve all been there at least one. It’s just one of us at home and it’s meal time. Feels like eat a sandwich or some cereals and not bother to cook at all. It’s a lot easier, mentally, to cook at least for 2. Since I struggle with motivation to cook for the 2 of us on a daily basis, when I’m home alone, I’ll typically do something really quick, such as just cereals or maybe pasta with tuna or similar.

My inspiration in this field has to be my sister. Most of the time she does cook just for herself. The way she does it though, is to cook as if it was for 2 and then next day she doesn’t need to buy or cook an additional lunch. Sometimes she will store the leftovers and mix up with something else so she doesn’t get bored of the food.

She says if she wasn’t going to cook, then she would be eating just cereals and rubbish and that’s not healthy. Plus she really likes to eat, and she eats quite well. She’s also really skinny, mostly due to the amount of exercise she does. Although she eats a lot, she actually eats healthy, avoiding fried stuff or too much sugars on a weekly basis.

Here’s some of the things she cooks:

Here’s one of my favourites, this is actually cod, with corn bread and shrimps on the top.

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Corn bread with melted cheese and oregano for the starter

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Stuffed mushrooms

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Peas with chorizo & poached eggs (this is quite a classic in the portuguese menu)

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Not sure what this one was

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And this was her lemon merengue pie, which was absolutely delicious!

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Do you struggle to find motivation to cook just for one? Any main dish you rely on?

.: On a mission to eat healthy :.

Yap, this year I’ve been on a mission to eat healthy. First of all, because that’s what we all should do by default, then, because it’s no longer just about me! Then as I’ve lost a lot of wait for the last few months, trying to recover with lots of healthy food. And as I know, eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, can be really tasty it just gives a bit more work.

Little steps I was already doing:

  • No Soda drinks – This is something I was already avoiding anyway. Even juices I tend to avoid. I rather have water with lemon and ice, it’s much more refreshing and healthier too
  • Don’t drink your fruit – eat it – As per point above, I’ve been avoiding juices. But once in a while will do a smoothy, like banana & honey and a bit of milk. So good!
  • Avoid fried stuff & avoid ready made meals
  • I don’t use salt in the food. I’m not the type that seasons everything with salt. I use herbs instead, pepper, paprika, coriander, parsley, whatever I have available. I do use the knorr once in a while for the pasta (which on it’s own has a lot of salt)
  • As I love pasta and bread, I replace white pasta / bread by wholemeal versions of it. I love wholemeal pasta, really tasty!

This year I’ve started to prepare my own soups

  • I’ve done tomato soup
  • Juliana de legumes (pretty much a portuguese soup based out of potato, and cabbage)
  • Carrot cream
  • Ramen (well this is a kind of a soup – I use Nigella’s recipe)

I had no idea how I was craving for soups until I left Portugal! Nothing is better than a good soup, seriously. It really makes you feel warm within.

I’ve started to eat a lot more fish, mostly cod & salmon. If I go out for dinner, I tend to scan the fish options and go for it. Unfortunately within UK it tends to be the classic fish & chips (so fried…) But I find that more places offer fish options these days.

A few other ideas I have tried:

  • Banana ice cream – Frozen banana is all you need to prepare a creamy banana ice cream. It’s really easy! I’ve done my version with honey and cinnamon

Photo from thekitchn.com

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  • Tuna & bean salad – This is a dish that reminds me of my childhood. We would call it “russian salad” known as Olivier salad. We would have boiled potatoes, boiled egg, tuna, olives and sometimes green beans and mix it all up with mayo. As I don’t really eat mayo anymore (something I really avoid at all cost), I did my version with boiled potatoes, boiled egg, tuna & chopped tomato topped up with portuguese olive oil. It looks similar to this italian version from Tesco’s website.

For dinner today I had water with ice, strawberries and lemon

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And prepared cous-cous with grilled chicken in parsley & honey sauce, chopped plum tomatoes & nuts in parsley, olive oil, lemon & honey. It ended up being a quite tasty and flavourful meal. For dessert fresh strawberries!

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Another ideas, pesto pasta with grilled salmon and cherry tomato.13321812_10207505053359259_4373151561322365991_n

Any good recipes that you rely on?

.: My headspace :.

Ah is there anything better than a long weekend? I went to South Wales on this one, which I find is one of the best places in UK to slow down and relax surrounded by all the green scenery. For instance I love Lake District a lot, but it just takes forever to get there, especially if we’re talking about a long weekend! I’m hoping to be back at some stage, in any random weekend to spend a few days there. South Wales is a much easier option as it’s just 2h15 from London (or 3h and a bit with the traffic on a long weekend).

The point of a weekend away tends to be to relax, and starting the weekend stuck in 6h queues isn’t a great start. Finally one that was far more relaxing! We’ve managed to reach the hotel for dinner at 08h! I will be sharing the photos of the hotel and the weekend on my other blog here

What I really want to stay is that I took this weekend to turn a page in my book of live and to learn to let it go. I’ve been way too stressed lately. A month ago I ended up crying on my way home after leaving the office due to the stress and frustration. Maybe I can blame it on the hormones, but… this not the way anyone should live. Not worth it as everyone around me says, especially not now. I’ve been having all my priorities all wrong (I’ve been saying this for a while, have I not?)

Recommended by a friend I’m now doing daily meditation (using Headspace), reading a book about it and just joined yoga classes that will start in June. I do want to change for real, taking the train of the biggest change ever! I want to look back and say:

“I was doing it all wrong, but now it’s better. I’ve managed to change and I feel a lot better. I feel that for once I can grab life with both hands rather than feel it keeps on escaping through my fingers like water drops.”

The truth is I’ve just arrived home and I feel so much better! Just 2 days away and I feel almost brand new. The full test of fire will be once I’m back into the office, but for now I’ll enjoy it, peacefully.

About Headspace (Disclaimer: I’m not being sponsored at all for this post, it’s a genuine review as I really enjoy the program and the design of the app)
Headspace is a really lovely animated app that you can use on your computer and phone, with tailored programs for meditation. I’m still using the free program, which includes a 10 days guide for beginners.

For more information check their website or app.

Which relaxation techniques do you use to handle a stressful life? Anything you would recommend?

.: Capsule wardrobe :.

I believe I have already published something in similar lines before, but it’s always good to remember. I’m in the process right now of starting to check my wardrobe (and stuff in general) as I need space. Because I still have 3 months to go I haven’t really started, but it’s always a good time to start. Every season I check the items I have, the items I need and I create 2 piles: throw away (if it’s no longer in good enough condition) and give away – in our building we have a clothing storage which makes this process easier.

A few years ago I’ve also created 2 boards on pinterest: my wardrobe – so I remember what I already have – and the wishlist – to make me think twice before I buy it. When I finally need something e.g. a dress, I go into the wishlist and see the items I already have in there. I tend to buy most of my clothing online as I don’t have much time for shopping and also, because every time I go to the stores they never have my number, this is why this system works for me.

Recently I’ve been wearing 95% of my time dresses for work and leggings over the weekends – or just PJ in a lazy day like today.

So I’ve really enjoyed this little video as it summarises what I’ve been trying to achieve at home:

The app looks pretty easy to use, so will give it a go and see how it helps.
Any personal ideas on how to de-clutter?

.: The flipping struggle – Banana Pancakes :.

How’s everyone today? I’m enjoying a relaxing weekend at home, as next weekend we are going away to Wales and the last weekends have been more social.

We had a quick breakfast in the morning, played “Trains to Europe” together and he won again

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This is such a nice game to be played together!

Then I had decided I wanted to try banana pancakes again. Last time I had attempted them, he put all the mixture straight into the pan, so forget about flipping, it was virtually impossible. This time, after checking this recipe from the Londoner, I wanted to try them again.

Look pretty delicious right? Here’s mine

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This was one of the few I’ve managed not to break. It’s really hard to flip flourless pancakes. Next time I’ll just add the banana mixture into my regular pancake recipe. They taste really well though and it’s a pretty healthy recipe.

Have you tried to make banana pancakes before? Any tips?

.: Life needs more chocolate :.

Over the last few weeks, with my working life going way too stressful then what I needed, I’ve discovered a new meaning for happy calories. I tend to use this term referring to food – any guilty pleasure of yours – which for me is without a doubt chocolate. But, it also means enjoying the things you love and learning how to prioritise.

It’s very easy to get all emotional and take things over a new level when you care about the work you deliver, but the main point is to ensure that you stop and think: “is this really worth it? Am I not taking it more seriously than I should?”. I bet the answer will most likely be: yes!

Enjoy life as it needs to be enjoyed, by treasuring every little moment

We’ve just spend the afternoon playing board games

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Our football team just won the championship and we were sharing chocolates together. This truffles in particular are quite amazing! (This was a gift from a secret santa at work). I had never tried Monty Bojangles before, but will pay attention from now on!

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Cheers to a life with more happy calories (I’ll try to remember these words as the week goes by!)

.: Happy Mother’s day with Apple Cake :.

Happy mother’s day! (for all Moms in Portugal)

For the first time since I remember the national workers day (1st of May) is also Mother’s day in Portugal. Since being a mom is quite hard-working (I still don’t have an idea how much this is true but will know that shortly) I would say it makes a lot of sense.

1st of May was always quite a tradition back home, it’s a day where we would always go and do a picnic somewhere nice. My grandma would cook delicious cakes for the day, being the traditional “May’s cake” always on the table (this is a corn’s cake)

(For the portuguese recipe check here.)

As I always found this particular cake a bit too strong, my grandma would always bake the orange roll which I truly love

(For the portuguese recipe check here – video included)

I really have good memories of this particular day. Me and my sister would play in the fields and then enjoy lots of our favourite cakes. Here in UK, it’s a long weekend and the sun in finally shining outside. So I went out for a brunch with friends and back at home I couldn’t resist the temptation of baking something.

As I have lots of apples available, decided to do an Apple Cake (recipe from Gennaro Contaldo’s Nonna’s Apple Cake from his Let’s cook italian book). I really love his recipes and his simple style of cooking.

Expectation vs reality

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The recipe advises for 40m baking, but I believe next time I’ll do just 35 to get it more moist. I had my cake with a bit of ice cream

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It’s actually a very easy cake to prepare and it’s not too sweet. Also, the recipe doesn’t mention it, but please add cinnamon. Apple & cinnamon is the best combo ever! I’ve added on mine and could really taste it.

What is your favourite cake? Any cake that really brings you good memories?

Have a lovely week 🙂

.: Smart Writing Set :.

I’m quite a big fan of technology! Love new ideas and things that end up changing our lives. You know this trendy topic which is women on technology? Well I am one! I had programming in high school and I’ve ended up programming at work at some stage, even though I’m not officially one. I’m not good with ideas or developing products myself, but I follow any new ideas quite closely and I tend to be one of the first adapters. Smart watch? Yes please! Kindle, joined in as soon as I could. Internet TV, yes please! Still resisting the amazon echo, but once houses have more technology around it to make the most of it it will be a yes too. And oh, love my Sonos 😀

So as soon as I saw this video I was like: I want it!!!

Such a great idea! I’m glad someone thought about it, especially with the paper technology evolving so quickly. We need more creatives and more engineers in this world and I would love to have one of these, as I used to love drawing and I still love writing. Not to mention it would save me a lot of work with my notes from the meetings.

Any new product you would like to share?

.: A relaxing social weekend :.

Yap, posts are still coming at the same speed as sun shines in London…. rarely! I have been spending most of my weekends in coach doing nothing but watching telly and feeling bad. I haven’t edited my photos from this year and to be fair I’ve barely took any. Oh well!

As I was missing a lot on the social side, this weekend was a good one to recover. On Saturday, as it was gorgeously sunny and even warm we went to Richmond (my favourite place in London!).

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As the pub was quite busy the food took a while to come, but it was lovely to relax and talk with our friends. We thought we would go for a walk after lunch along the river, but as soon as we left our lunch it was cloudy, windy and cold again! So we ended up just having a warm coffee and going back home. (4 seasons in a day!)

Today was a day for brunch and Board Games. Oh I was missing for one of those days! It was also quite interesting to cross central London by car on a Sunday morning. We normally take the tube, but this time we’ve decided to cross the city (west to east)

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Before we’ve started brunch and while we were waiting for Sainburys to open (yes, on Sundays a lot of places only open after 11a.m!), we did a stop at the Coffee Works Project for a coffee break and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed my coffee. I am rarely drinking coffee these days (hard to believe right?), so if I do it needs to be a really decent one. This didn’t disappoint! Really tasty

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The Coffee Works Project Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

After a lovely brunch, we’ve started our game marathon. First game was Dobble, which I knew about, but I had never played before.

The game is really easy to play, it takes less than 2m to learn the rules. There are around 5 different versions of playing this game, which makes it quite interesting. It’s all about matching an icon from your card to the card on the table / or from the other guys, but you need to say the name of the icon you’re matching. If none of us is a native english speaker, it makes the game even more interesting as it’s all about speed! Each game takes less than 10m to finish and the goal is always to get rid of the card, or take the less number possible.

You can find it on amazon (here)

Next stop, as the boys were tired of losing this one, we went to the famous Jungle Speed – which we really love!

Main warning if you are planning Jungle speed for the first time: Please make sure you have absolutely nothing on the table, I mean it! Nothing! It works better with a round table too to ensure everyone is at the same distance from the token. We had a rectangle table this time, so we left the fastest boys on the corners.

Same as the previous one, it’s all about speed! You need to keep an eye on your card and the others on the table and make sure you grab the token first if you have a matching icon and ensure you don’t make a mistake. All the cards look very unique, but when it goes fast they start to really look alike! Available on amazon here

Finally we’ve ended up playing Trains to Europe / Ticket to Ride and it was really good fun. After the speed of the other previous games, it was nice to play a more strategic game. As it was my first time playing, I didn’t really had a strategy and I ended up being the one with less points. The goal is to get the most points possible. You get points by fulfilling your objectives (there are cards with objectives and they tell you how many points you get), and also by building trains. You build trains by collecting cards the colour presented on the board. Finally you get extra points by having the longest uninterrupted path on the board. It’s easily played between 2 to 5 people.

Available on amazon here.

So overall it was a pretty relaxing afternoon and I feel quite happy now 🙂

A few other boardgames we love, but we didn’t play this time:

Cards Against Humanity

It was my sister that first told me about this game so I couldn’t resist but to buy it straight. It’s all about having a wicked sense of humour! The way it works is quite simple. Each player takes a question card at a time and all others need to play a matching card to that question. The player reading the question will read all the cards and decide which one is the best one. There’s no selection criteria, so you need to think about the other person’s sense of humour when selecting the card. You win by getting the most points (black cards with questions)

They’ve started as a crowd funding, but it went really popular and I can see why! They have special cards nowadays and there are even similar games. I love this game because it’s all about NOT being politically correct! Not recommended if you are easily offended with jokes. You can read more about the game here.

Dixit

Dixit is a beautiful game. Seriously, all the cards are really beautiful to watch! Unlike cards against humanity, it’s a family friendly game.

Each player selects a card from his hand and needs to tell a story about the card (without showing it to the other players). The other players needs to select a similar card. All the cards are displayed around the board and everyone needs to guess what was the card from the original story. You get points by guessing the correct card. The first person to get more than 30 points (as per board) wins. So here, it’s all about imagination and storytelling. You can play your own versions of the game, for instance, once we’ve decided to select songs matching the card we had. You can do it with books, movies, or a specific there. Whatever comes to your mind really! (Available on amazon here).

Do you like board games? Anything you recommend?

Have a lovely week ahead!

.: Home Decor – Spring is coming :.

Now that winter is hopefully coming to an end and spring approaching, it’s also a good time to start thinking about brighting the house, open the curtains and let the sun come in. I’m so fortunate to have lots of light around the house, it’s one of the things I value the most. My previous flat was gorgeous but lightwise was actually pretty bad. This one is more compact but light is everywhere, so I feel actually happier.

Here’s a few tricks to brighten up the house

I) Add a touch of colour (and uniqueness!)– This cushions are so pretty and unique! I’m in love

You can find all about them here and you can buy them from here.

Or use unique tiles to decor either the floor, one of the walls or just for detail.

II) Use mirrors – They can be pretty good to reflect the light coming from another window and enhance the light in the house. It’s also a known trick to make the house look bigger

III) Bring a bit of the outside, indoors

Love the touch of wood here, as well as the white cream decor. Here’s another good example, a wood table and some plants

We’ll have to do some redecor in the house around summer time, as well as repositioning some furniture, so I’m sure I’ll end up using some of the tips above.

Any tips you would like to share?