Discovering Portugal

Hello everyone!

Sorry for taking a summer break but I have been busy traveling, working, and studying. I hope you all had a lovely summer 🙂

This year I’ve visited Portugal and I had a wonderful time! Portugal is a beautiful country, it has an interesting history and culture and its beaches are amazing! I love the ocean ❤

It was my first time in Portugal and I already know that I want to come back and visit more soon. I flew to Lisbon and I found a boutique hotel to stay near Alfama, which is the medieval old town. I fell in love with this district, it is my favorite part of the city because it is so bohemian and romantic. Lisbon is really colorful and you can enjoy stunning views of the Portuguese capital from several miradouros.

Transports are quite cheap and fast in Portugal, actually, it is possible to reach a lot of beaches near Lisbon by train or ferry. I highly recommend to visit Costa de Caparica and have a surf lesson or discover Cascais, which is a popular seaside town where King Luís I of Portugal and the Portuguese royal family made their summer residence in 1870, thus also attracting members of the Portuguese nobility.

My last stop was at Praia do Guincho, a surfers’ paradise not far from Cascais. I don’t speak Portuguese but it hasn’t been a big problem because I’ve always met someone speaking English or Spanish.

I wish I’ll be back soon to visit the South region (Algarve) and North (Porto).

Have you ever visited Portugal? Or are you planning to travel there soon? Share your opinion and feel free to comment! 🙂

The Little Book of Hygge

I was really curious to know more about hygge that I decided to read “The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well” written by Meik Wiking.

First of all, what is hygge? It isnìt easy to translate it but one of my favorite definitions is “the art of creating intimacy”. However, you really know hygge when you feel it.

Danes are considered the happiest people in the world and hygge seems to be their secret ingredient for a fulfilled life.

The book is an easy reading and there are some beautiful pictures, I just want to talk about a few ideas in this review that might grab your attention.

Denmark, like the other Scandinavian countries, does not enjoy warm weather, summer is short and in winter is dark and freezing cold. This is why Danes use to spend a lot of time at home. Consequentially their house has to be cozy. Imagine being in your hyggekrog ( a cozy nook ) in winter reading a book possibly near the fire, under a warm blanket, and drinking hot coffee or tea, do you understand more what hygge is now?

Then imagine inviting a few friends at home for dinner at the weekend, just the more intimate three or four. Don’t worry if you are not good in the kitchen, hygge means to stay together and cook all together the meal. I know it might seem simple but this is the whole point, hygge is simplicity!

Why do you want to buy all that furniture to decorate your house? Do it yourself, it will be unique. And why do you drive to work if you have the possibility to go there by bike? Choose the bike, it is not just healthier, research showed that people that commute every day by bike are happier even if it takes more time.

Remember that you can enjoy hygge all the year, even if winter is the favorite season of Danes especially Christmas time.

Personally I found this book inspirational, there are plenty of ideas. I am not surprised to know that Danes are considered the happiest nation in the world 🙂

You are as powerful as you allow yourself to be

If you like adventure books this is my recommendation, my favorite book ever. In March of 1977, at the age of 27, Robyn Davidson set off on a journey she had been planning for over two years. She embarked on a 1,700-mile trek across the Australian outback from Alice Springs, heading for the West Coast to the Indian Ocean, armed only with four camels, her dog Diggity, and a sponsorship deal with National Geographic.

In the first part of the story the author talks about her training with the camels described in detail. It is fascinating but also struggling because she was treated badly by her two trainers. She overcame a lot of problems since the beginning like to find the money to sponsor her peculiar idea, but her project was clear in her mind and so her determination to accomplish it.

The rest of the book is a memoir of the beautiful and dangerous journey, not only it is a captivating read but her social observations make this book magic and inspiring.

Robyn could spend time with the Aboriginal people and I admire her way to learn from them and to be curious about their culture, she wanted to be integrated. They welcomed her and at some point one of them, Mr. Eddie, shares a part of the path with her
Through the journey an American photographer, Rick Smolan, met her five times to document that epic trip with stunning pictures.

I don’t want to anticipate too many details but this story is amazing and I fell in love with it since the first page. I love her and her resolution, her respect for animals and nature is deep. She is my heroine and I am happy she decided to publish this book because it is a way to dream and travel with the mind.

I would like to conclude with a postscript by Robyn Davidson:

The question I’m most commonly asked is ‘Why’. A more pertinent question might be, why is it that more people don’t attempt to escape the limitations imposed upon them? If Tracks has a message at all, it is that one can be awake to the demand for obedience that seems natural simply because it is familiar. Wherever there is pressure to conform (one person’s conformity is often in the interests of another person’s power), there is a requirement to resist.

Davidson said she felt the trip work magic on her in strange and unexpected ways. ÒWhen there is no one to remind you what societyÕs rules are, and there is nothing to keep you linked to that society, you had better be prepared for some startling changes.Ó (Photo by Rick Smolan/Against All Odds Productions)
Rick Smolan talks about Robyn’s adventure walking almost 1,700 miles across the heart of the Australian Outback.
After the reading you can watch the beautiful movie TRACKS  based on Robyn’s book and produced by the team behind “The Kings Speech. Mia Wasikowska is the leading actress who made a great performance. Highly recommended!

Chocolate and Hazelnuts Vegan Cookies

Happy Mother’s Day

Hello everyone and Happy Mother’s Day! I found a good recipe for chocolate and hazelnuts cookies (yummy!) but I made it vegan with some variations.

It is really easy and you will find all the ingredients and preparation below.

Ingredients

• 300 g plain flour

• 80 g brown sugar

• 100 g hazelnuts

• 80 g extra virgin olive oil

• 40 g cocoa powder

• 100 g dark chocolate chips

• 140 ml soy milk

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven at 170°C.
  2. In a large bowl sift the flour and cocoa powder, add the sugar and hazelnuts (roughly chopped).
  3. Then pour in olive oil and chocolate chips, stirring until you will obtain a granular mixture.
  4. Continue to work the mixture while adding soy milk. You should obtain a fairly firm mass, with the consistency of a short pastry.
  5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 5 mm and obtain the biscuits with the help of different molds (I used small and big hearts, a flower and a round mold).
  6. Place the biscuits, spacing them apart, on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for about 15 minutes. Check the cooking with a toothpick.

Enjoy!

World Book Day

I would like to celebrate the World Book Day sharing a review of one of my favorite readings of 2019: “Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” authored by Hector García and Francesc Millares.

The book touches the various aspects of life which can help us to achieve a long happy life. It seems that the ancient Japanese technique called ikigai is the secret to improve your life expenctancy. But what does it mean exactly?

It is a combination of your passion, your mission and your profession; a reason for being and a sense of purpose. The word derives from iki, meaning life and kai, meaning the realisations of hopes and expectations.

The authors focus their attention on Ogimi, a village in Okinawa (Japan) reported to have the world’s longest-living people (age 110 and over). They interviewed villagers report eating a simple, vegetables-based diet high in antioxidants, engaging in continual physical activity and, participating in a strong network of neighborhood groups. The book gives the references of 5 Blue Zones in the world where residents of these places live longer than average and secrets of their long life.

It is known that stress adds up to your age and makes reduce your life duration. A little stress though is good for you since it keeps you going.

There also different techniques that help you keep your mind and body intact like yoga and basic tai chi.

You don’t have to change your life completely , the book shows that being conscious of you daily routine can lead to a better life.

There are similar books from other cultures that I would like to read like “The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to live well” and “Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living”, have you ever heard about them?

In conclusion, I truly loved this book. It is extremely inspiring and full of content. We find our ikigai by concentrating on what isreally important for us. By constantly keeping an eye on what fulfill our life, we are able to discover what our passion is.

Easy Eggless Almond Cake Recipe

When I am not reading I like to spend time cooking and baking. A few weeks ago I started to bake eggless and butterless cakes or cookies, they are delicious! If you are looking for an alternative to traditional recipes try this eggless almond cake, it is super easy, perfect with tea or coffee. Enjoy!

Ingredients

•            200g almond milk

•            180g white sugar

•            250g plain flour

•            100g seeds oil

•            1 lemon zest

•            6g baking powder

•            20g almond flakes

•            Icing sugar (To decorate)

Preparation

1.           Grate the lemon zest and set aside.

2.           Combine flour, baking powder sugar and the lemon zest in a large bowl.

3.           Add almond milk and seeds oil and start using a wooden spoon to mix everything.

4.           Now use a whisk until the mixture is well combined.

5.           Cover a cake mold (about 20cm) with baking paper and pour the mixture in.

6.           Sprinkle with almond flakes on top.

7.           Bake at 180°C for 35 minutes.

8.           When it is ready leave it cool down and decorate with icing sugar.

We are Malala

[ENG]

This is a story everyone should know. In 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at point-blank range on the bus from school, this happened in her hometown Minora (Pakistan) when she was fifteen.

Malala miracously recovered but she had to leave the country to survive. What caused this act of violence?

In Pakistan at that stage the Taliban were getting popular and so their ideas, a woman should not be allowed out of the house without a known male accompanying her for example. But the Taliban thought also that women should not go to school and get an education. When the situation worsen Malala began to write a journal for the BBC to be read by people outside of Pakistan in order to tell them about what was happening in her country. She was keen and she used a pseudonym but soon she became a target of the Taliban. As I said one of them followed her on her way home, and shot her right near the brain.

She luckily survived and moved to the UK with her family where they all started to live a new life. Surprisingly she wasn’t scared, which made her even stronger and she became an activist of children’s civil rights to get a proper education. Her work was so important that she won the Nobel Prize 2 years after that frightening attack, becoming the youngest winner of all times at the age of 17 years old.

I loved to read this book because even if what Malala says about Pakistan under Taliban rule is terrible, she has never stopped to fight for children’s education giving also a speech at United Nations. “Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human” she affirmed.

She is a strong and inspiring person, she wants to change the world and we all should be like her. I am not surprised about her bravery and her conviction because her father wisely taught her “if you really want to do something, you can”. Highly recommended.

[ITA]

Questa è una storia che tutti dovrebbero sapere. Nel 2012, Malala Yousafzai fu colpita alla testa a distanza ravvicinata sull’autobus da scuola, questo è successo nella sua città natale di Minora (Pakistan) quando aveva quindici anni.

Malala si riprese miracolosamente ma dovette lasciare il paese per sopravvivere. Cosa ha causò questo atto di violenza?

In quel periodo in Pakistan i talebani stavano diventando popolari e di conseguenza anche le loro idee, una donna non avrebbe dovuto uscire di casa senza che un maschio noto la accompagnasse, ad esempio. Ma i talebani pensavano anche che le donne non dovevano andare a scuola e ricevere un’istruzione. Quando la situazione peggiorò, Malala iniziò a scrivere un diario per la BBC per essere letto da persone al di fuori del Pakistan al fine di raccontare loro ciò che stava accadendo nel suo paese. Era appassionata e usava uno pseudonimo, ma presto divenne un bersaglio dei talebani. Come ho detto, uno di loro la seguì mentre tornava a casa e le sparò e il proiettile arrivò vicino al cervello.

Per fortuna potè sopravvivere e si trasferì nel Regno Unito con la sua famiglia, dove tutti hanno iniziarono a vivere una nuova vita. Sorprendentemente non aveva paura, ciò la rese ancora più forte e divenne un’attivista dei diritti civili dei bambini per ottenere un’istruzione adeguata. Il suo lavoro è stato così importante che vinse il Premio Nobel 2 anni dopo quell’attacco spaventoso, diventando la più giovane vincitrice di tutti i tempi all’età di 17 anni.

Ho adorato leggere questo libro perché anche se ciò che Malala dice del Pakistan sotto il dominio dei Talibani è terribile, non ha mai smesso di lottare per l’educazione dei bambini tenendo anche un discorso alle Nazioni Unite. “L’istruzione non è né orientale né occidentale, è umana” affermò.

È una persona forte e stimolante, vuole cambiare il mondo e tutti dovremmo essere come lei. Non sono sorpreso del suo coraggio e della sua convinzione perché suo padre le ha saggiamente insegnato “se vuoi davvero fare qualcosa, puoi”. Altamente raccomandato.

[ESP]

Esta es una historia que todos deberían saber. En 2012, dispararon a Malala Yousafzai en la cabeza a corta distancia en el autobús escolar, eso ocurrió en su ciudad natal Minora (Pakistán) cuando tenía quince años.
Malala se recuperó milagrosamente pero tuvo que abandonar el país para sobrevivir. ¿Qué causó este acto de violencia?

En ese momento en Pakistán, los talibanes se estaban volviendo populares y, en consecuencia sus ideas, una mujer no debía salir de la casa sin un hombre conocido que la acompañara, por ejemplo. Pero los talibanes también pensaron que las mujeres no debían ir a la escuela y recibir una educación. Cuando la situación empeoró, Malala comenzó a escribir un diario para BBC con el fin de llegar a personas fuera de Pakistán para contarles lo que estaba sucediendo en el país. Ella era apasionada y usaba un seudónimo, pero pronto se convirtió en un objetivo de los talibanes. Como dije, uno de ellos la siguió de camino a casa y le disparó, la bala se acercó al cerebro.

Afortunadamente, pudo sobrevivir y se mudó al Reino Unido con su familia, donde todos comenzaron a vivir una nueva vida. Sorprendentemente, no tuvo miedo, lo que la hizo aún más fuerte y se convirtió en una activista de los derechos civiles para que los niños recibieran una educación adecuada. Su trabajo fue tan importante que ganó el Premio Nobel 2 años después de ese ataque aterrador, convirtiéndose en la ganadora más joven de todos los tiempos a la edad de 17 años.

Me encantó leer este libro porque, aunque lo que Malala dice sobre Pakistán bajo el régimen talibán sea terrible, nunca dejó de luchar por la educación de los niños y fue llamada a pronunciar un discurso en las Naciones Unidas. “La educación no es oriental ni occidental, es humana”, dijo.

Es una persona fuerte e inspiradora, quiere cambiar el mundo y todos deberíamos ser como ella. No me sorprende su coraje y convicción porque su padre le ha enseñado sabiamente “si realmente quieres hacer algo, puedes”. Muy recomendable.

Your gut is clever

The Clever Gut Diet by Dr Michael Mosley isn’t really a diet book. He details some fascinating research to “revolutionize your body from the inside out”, as the subtitle says. Mosley tells us that in addition to what we all know about the gut – it transforms food into the nutrients and energy our bodies need – it also “accounts for most of our immune system, and produces more than two dozens hormones that influence everything from our appetite to our mood.”

But how is this possible?

Your gut contains millions of neurons and is home to the microbiome, i.e.  trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live mainly in your large intestine or colon.

The reason you should care about your microbiome is that, as many research showed in the last few years, having the right mix of “good” bacteria in your gut is vitally important for your long term health. It is proved that “good” bacteria help you fight infection and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, as well as depression and common gut disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

But is this working for everyone? Well actually the same research shows that we need individual diets that are tailored to the particular bacteria present in our guts. Dr. Mosley says that the more diverse is our microbiome, the more different types of bacteria we have in our guts, the healthier we will be. And how can we diversify our microbiome? Trying to differ our “diet” and avoiding junk food is a good start.

I recommend you to read this book if you are interested to learn how your gut works and the importance it holds for your overall health and wellbeing. Besides if you like to cook you will find at the end an interesting section with lots of recipes from all over the world.

I liked this book, I think it is really useful. I am now always aware of what I eat and I started to include new kinds of food to my diet. Is it worth reading it? Honestly…I feel better 😉

Change your habits and you will change your life

This quarantine is an opportunity to change your habits and there is a book that can help you to achieve your new goals, it is “Atomic Habits” written by James Clear.

Let’s start analyzing the title, what does atomic mean? It is an extremely small amount of thing, the single irreducible unit of a larger system. And what about habits? It stands for all the routines performed regularly; an automatic response to a specific situation.

Clear starts talking about his life and how, since he had a high school injury, he began to adopt this new philosophy: “small habits helped me fulfill my potential” he affirms. In fact after that experience he settled a few new purposes like to perform at a high level on the field (he was a baseball player), to become a writer (a bestsellers author considering that this book is in the New York Times bestsellers’ list), to build a successful career, and simply to develop in a responsible adult.

When you want to reach a goal in life it is not the best thing to focus just on the final result. Instead, “decide who you want to be and then identify the habits to such a person would incorporate into their life” Clear suggests. This is the mindset that leads to success, which is the outcome of daily habits, not of a once in a lifetime transformation.

Do you want to lose weight? Or maybe do you prefer to quit smoking? Great, let’s do it. But how? Set a new routine, but start with something simple because if your new schedule is to hard to follow, you will feel frustrated and you will give up soon. This is the secret.

And the good news is that this principles can be applied to every aspect of your life as relationships, fitness, education, finance, career, parenting, home life – anything upon your behaviour.

I loved this book, it is interesting and useful because there are several examples that show how to apply this philosophy to daily life.

Give yourself a chance to improve your habits, you might get better results than what you expects 😉

Book therapy

If you want to read something different than a self-help book this can be a good choice. “Educated” is a beautiful memoir written by Tara Westover. She was born in 1986 on a remote mountain in Idaho and she is the seventh child of a Mormon family. Her parents believed in a patchwork of paranoid ideas well outside the mandates of religion, like if the End of the Days was always to hand. Her mother was an herbal healer and an unlicensed midwife while her father owned a scrapyard, where his children labored without the benefit of protective equipment.

Public school was mistrusted by Tara’s parents which meant her determination to leave home and get a formal education amounted to a rebellion against her family’s world. The author examines her life from childhood to University (where at the end she gained admission). She keeps trying to understand why her loved ones don’t support her important achievements but at some point she has to make a decision.

I liked this book because I discovered an hidden reality of the extreme American life, it makes you think about what we consider obvious ( which is not obvious for everyone ).

This book is #4 on the hardcover nonfiction list of the New York Times bestsellers, highly recommended.

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