Saturday 29 December 2012

my stuffed chicken...

...was better than the best pair of Manolos!!!

For the first time in my life, I decided to cook my grandmother's recipe for stuffed chicken this Christmas. I have such fond childhood (and more recent...) memories of this succulent dish that my mother would cook for our Christmas lunch and later, after having eaten like there was not tomorrow, my brother and I would just crash on the sofa and fall asleep with a classic old movie... mmmm those were the days... and these are the days too, for I was determined to recreate both the food and the pleasure!

So, with my mom (who spent these past few days with me) to assist/supervise, I set sail. I got a free range French chicken (which I like to think has been strolling nonchalantly through the streets of Marseille before having been caught...) on Christmas eve and on the day I got started. The stuffing was not so difficult, though with a myriad of  ingredients, because I had tried it before. But when it came to the point I had to pass a needle with cooking string through the bird's skin to keep the stuffing inside, well, it got tricky...

Nevertheless, I did it and put it all stuffed and beautiful in the oven, complete with potatoes. About an hour an a half later, there it was on my festive table! And the taste... oh, heaven! The potatoes had actually cooked in the juices from the stuffing that came out of the bird and they were a revelation! The meat was juicy and delicious and the stuffing excellent!

I was so proud of myself! And I ate so much, like the good old days! So much so I had to walk 10Km the next day to burn a bit of the guilt, more than the calories... But it was so worth it! It was better than shoes all the way!!

P.S My mom thought the prunes were cut too small for her taste but... such a criticism I considered a compliment ;)

Monday 3 December 2012

a "better than shoes" weekend!

You know this feeling when a very demanding time period passes and you have been through it all and gotten out in one piece and all the stress and struggle is over and you can just sit and finally relax? That's exactly how I have been feeling this passed weekend!

Having had the new house all in order and returned the key of the old place, November left me on a good note. The weekend came and, as my tradition has it, Saturday I set up the Christmas tree! First time in the new home, I was dancing and placing ornaments all morning! And after this was done, after I wished like a true Greek "may you do this next year too" to myself, I parked my exhausted body (no, not from decorating the tree obviously, from the passed two months of running around like a mad woman...) on the sofa and watched all time classics: "The Holiday" and "Love actually" with a nice, hot cup of tea! Yes, I do know the lines of these films by heart but "Christmas tree day" without them is not a proper one!

My Saturday was perfected by an IKEA microwave dinner (you should try them, meatball and mashed potatoes, certainly better than anything of the sort) and BBC; being a huge "Strictly come dancing" fan I enjoyed it as always and then laughed my heart out with  "The Graham Norton show" until I fell asleep on the sofa... bliss, pure bliss!!

Come Sunday, after the morning hale storm passed, I went out for a walk with a neighbour and we went all the way to the beach and back, some good two hours walk (to burn the calories from the chocolate abuse of the past few days...) and then, after a much need shower (to warm me up... it was rather chilli yesterday) I went to cut my hair... Pampered!! Continued with a  delicious lunch of erwtensoep, the best thing that the Dutch cuisine (if such thing exists...) has to offer, in my opinion, and then back home where the best surprise ever was waiting for me... ;) What was it?... Mmmm, I think I will keep this one only for myself... But is was most certainly "better than shoes" :) better than those Valentino glitter pumps from this season's collection! Yep, those!! Better!!! ;)

Friday 23 November 2012

my view...

... is better than shoes!! See for yourselves ;)

I did promise to keep you up-to-date about my quest to get rid of the mountains of boxes and have my home ready to live in it as soon as possible... So here, you are:

Thursday last week at 11:30 everything was in and Monday 17:30 everything was in place. I don't know if this is a record, I was not going for one, but it sure is quick :) I worked like a mad woman and this past Monday the place was done. Everything in place, pictures on the walls, my shoes neatly put in the closet (and yes, there is enough space to expand the collection...), storage all arranged nicely, flowers in the vase and a big smile on my face!

Was it worth the trouble? You bet! I can see the sea! Even if only for that, it would be worth it! I'm happy I took the decision to change house, I'm happy I chose this one and I'm happy that it is all done. I have already forgotten the effort, the tiredness, the back pain... I don't care anymore about the things that did not go according to the plan, after all it was just a plan and in any case these are the things that make funny stories to tell, not the ones that go as clockwork, right?

Thursday 15 November 2012

my new home...

... is better than shoes!!!!!!!!!!!

Granted, perhaps not at this moment, with about 60 odd boxes still closed and dropped all over the place, the incredible amount of dirt from the removal company people (man, I hope they don't read this but, goodness me, they are such such slobs!!..), my clothes and shoes still packed ( I have been wearing the same, filthy by now, outfit for the last 4 days and I am disgusted by myself... worse even, tomorrow morning I'm going out and I have to put on the same things as I am too exhausted to continue and unpack another pair of jeans and sweater...) and my indescribable back pain...

However, I have the whole city at my feet, I look out the glass balcony doors from the sofa where I'm seated and I see a sea of lights all the way to the beach, I have taken my first shower here and eaten my first meal, I have TV, phone and internet (thanks to the love of my life), my bed is made  and I feel happier than I can remember! And, "Pointless" starts on BBC1 in a while!! What more can I ask??!

It was the right choice to move, I feel better and better about it as it actual sinks in that I have really done it and I'm here and the worse part is over. So, what if I have another billion things to do? I will do them as I did the other billion things I have done so far, nothing scares me (except for boats... and cable carts... and snakes... and... ok, a lot of things but not this one!) and within a week it will all be ready! I promise! What the heck, next week I will report to you that all is done and I will even post a picture for you ;)

'till then ;)

Tuesday 6 November 2012

taking a break...

I have been super busy with the removal for weeks now (yes, that does explain why my last post was so long ago...) and I have been doing things I did not think I would be doing... For example, scrubbing the floor boards to get rid of tiny little spots of paint that got away and did not end up on the wall where they should have. Or, putting together my new chairs, they were supposed to come all ready, I thought... this sort of things. Surely I did expect the endless trips to IKEA and to the DIY store(s) I just did not think I would be driving, almost every time, my MINI loaded like a small track back home... and, which home??!! Sometimes the old one, sometimes the new one...

Yes, it has been hectic, stressful, tiring more than I can describe however, just yesterday, after the last lamps were hanged and connected and I cleaned up a bit, I started realizing that it is coming together for real! It was the first time that I thought that I might be on schedule after all, to have everything ready for next week's removal, and that my new home starts to look like I imagined it! And that put a great big smile on my face!

But no, it is not that which qualifies as "better than shoes" today, though if all goes well (fingers crossed) my new nest will be better than shoes on its own. No. Today's post is about taking break... which is what I did today. I went to work (I still have to work in the office obviously...) and then came home, put on sweatpants and crashed on the sofa in front of the TV. And that's exactly from where I'm writing this! It is raining outside, I am cosy and warm and I just stop running around like a maniac for a little while. Tomorrow, again, a lot to do but for today, I'm taking a break and it is marvelous!!

Thursday 18 October 2012

getting rid of the garbage... better then those Miu Miu glitter heel pumps that I have my eye set on for a couple of months (and cannot afford because I'm spending all my money on lamps and paint and cables for the new house...)

No, I do not mean the regular garbage... that's just a chore. No, I mean the real garbage, the stuff that has accumulated over the years, all the little (or the big) things that we just do not throw away immediately when we realise we don't need them because "what if..." . But that "what if" never comes and the stuff  hides cleverly on the top shelf of the wardrobe or at the bottom of the cupboard or, like in my case, neatly put in beautiful boxes... that's the real garbage and that's what's "better than shoes" getting rid of!

I am in the process of moving house, as those who follow this blog regularly already know. And I made a promise to myself (and my boyfriend) that I would not take any garbage with me in the new home. A removal is a great chance to start over, to rid myself of the old and the useless and the damaged (yes, I do speak literally and metaphorically) and start anew. In order to do that, however, I had to get into the storage... where all the skeletons hid... and throw them away! Scary job... and heavy as well, my back still hurts from last weekend. But I did it, I tamed the beast!

How is it possible for just one person to accumulate such junk is beyond me! How is it possible a house apparently so tidy to reveal such rubbish! Why on earth have I kept insurance bills from 2003 for my old car which by the way I sold two years ago!! I felt ashamed... I sat on the floor tearing papers for hours, I carried 20, yes 20, garbage bags to the garbage bins downstairs and an unknown number of paper boxes... And it felt so good!!! Better than anything I have done in years!!! I freed myself from the past, I broke the chains that kept me a slave to a life is no longer mine!! And yes, it was worth the back pain, every bit of it ;)

Monday 24 September 2012

stop making excuses...

Any of you who have seen the film "Contact", are familiar with Occam's razor (and those who didn't, I'm sure have already clicked the link and know all about it ;)

I have spent about 5 years of my life making excuses... for my tolerance to a certain behaviour, for the "certain" behaviour itself (yes, ok, I'm talking about a certain person... there...), to the consequences of a certain behaviour... I grew to become an expert in analysing and explaining (I thought...) why they did the things they did, why they said the things they said, why they feel the way they feel... always trying to see what is "behind", never seeing what is "in front of" my eyes... Who the hell I thought I was??!! What the hell do I know??? Am I a psychiatrist?? No! I'm a surveying engineer! Who died and made me the expert on all things??! I am ashamed of myself... Love alone cannot give right to anyone to do what I did, to come up with a million excuses for things that were inexcusable (and unforgivable...)

There is no excuse for my tolerance, for my enabling other people to use me, to hurt me... I am to blame and I will have to live with myself and try to get over it. There is no excuse for them doing so either! And they will have to live with themselves... We all have been through rough times, most of us had a pretty difficult childhood also (and that is so much more than a cliché...) but, you know, at some point we got over it! We became better! We managed to let go of all the anger and the hatred and the regrets, to forget and even forgive... We learned to care about other peoples' feelings even if we do not fully understand ours. And most importantly, we managed to know the difference between the people who love us and those who betrayed us and not punish the former for what the latter did...

For those who did not manage to evolve this way, to grow up into being decent human beings, there is not excuse! The simplest explanation tends to be the right one, it is not that they couldn't, it is not that they did not have help, it is not even that they did not have the chance... usually it is just that they do not want to! That they like who they are, just as they are... Good for them... As for you all, the ones close to them, my advice is stop making excuses for them! And stop making excuses for yourselves for being there for them... try it, you will know it is better than shoes ;)

Saturday 22 September 2012

a day on the sofa...

... may be better than shoes!

I have had the worst three weeks... My personal life has been turned upside down, things have been crazy at work, I had to give a course even, I lost a tooth because of an old root canal having gone terribly wrong and I have not been able to eat properly in days... No, nothing better than shoes there...

But weekend came and I decided to just take a break! Literally, a break from everything! A break from feeling sad (depressed even...), a break from thinking, a break from running around like a maniac, a break from taking the usual morning shower, a break from dressing up and wearing shoes (though I did manage to get my hands on a pair of Isabel Marant Becketts last week, I did not want to put on even those ;) and putting make-up on, a break from going shopping and running errands and taking care of things and worrying about the removal... I needed a break! And that's exactly what I had!

I planted myself on the sofa soon after I woke up and Steven King with his 11.22.1963 kept me great company for most of the morning and the afternoon... I took a couple (yes, a couple) of naps, ate a Greek yogurt with honey, stretched, read some more, drank water... then watched a couple of episodes from "Up all night" (btw, I think that rating is a bit stingy...) and I did most of all that without leaving my sofa!

I know what you must be thinking.... "booooooring"! However, I give you my word of honor, I was not! I was great! I was just what I needed... ok, perhaps not exactly what I needed but, for lack of a better alternative, certainly what will help me cope... And I do appreciate it! Life sometimes becomes a battlefield whether we like it or not and taking a day off to regain strength is never a bad idea... Besides, I will miss this sofa when I move to the new house ;)

Saturday 8 September 2012

Ms Muriel...

... is better than shoes!!! Better than Jimmy Choo's classic pumps!

Ok, so you feel lost because you don't know who Ms Muriel is... apparently you have been wasting your time in Twitter!!! Though I should be mad at all of you, I will let go and just introduce you to this amazing lady, Ms Muriel B. I have been following her tweets for quite some time and I find her incredible! She is 94 years young, she is a quilting, baking and internet enthusiast and without knowing it, given her about 20000 followers, she has made a difference in my life with her words of wisdom.

I decided to dedicate this post to her as a kind of a belated birthday gift to her and also to say "thank you" for all the times that reading her 140 characters late at night, when I usually check my Twitter, she has kept me company, has comforted me, has made me laugh and has made me cry, has made me think, has made me feel...

I am in a... well, lets just say tough point in my life for more reasons than I want to admit and yes I will refrain from sharing any details because I have made a promise never to be whining in this blog... but amidst the -metaphorical- thunder, the other night I check my Twitter and there she is, birthday lady Ms Muriel, writing "What I know: Things usually get worse, but then they ALWAYS get better. Just hang in. It's hard, but worth it." And there, right there, right that moment I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders! And I smiled :)

Thank you Ms Muriel!

Sunday 2 September 2012

bola do Berlim... with a bit of sand...

I still have sand in my shoes, in the words of the mighty Dido, having come back only yesterday from a week in my beloved Algarve! And what a week it was! Though so much can be said for these 7 days, I will only focus on one thing today, perhaps the best thing of these holidays... a "bolinha" aka bola do Berlim .

This mouth watering delicacy is more or less a Berliner but... well, in its best version! Fried, tasty dough, filled with cream if you so wish and covered in sugar, freshly prepared a couple of hours earlier and sold on the beach by friendly salespeople, men and women, who walk from one side of the beach to the other, indeed under the hot sun, shouting "booooolinhas"! Believe you me, there aren't that many sounds you can hear at a Portuguese beach as inviting as that!

No, imagine that it is about 5 in the afternoon, you have been on the beach since, oh, lets say 11, have read your book, walked, sun bathed,  had a simple nice lunch, then enjoyed a siesta in the shade under the umbrella and then you wake up in the sound of the voices calling for bolinhas... so you wake up, buy a couple of those for just 1€ apiece and you eat it with some freshly squeezed orange juice... mmmmm... no, there are not many things better than that... a "better than shoes" experience without any doubt ;)

Wednesday 22 August 2012

keeping promises...

It was quite some time ago when I dedicated a post to bubble baths and in that one I did say that in my next home I will try to have all the pluses of the one I'm in now and also a bathtub... Well, being a woman who thinks that keeping a promise is better than shoes, I could not but have kept this one ;) So I am moving! Having lived in my present apartment for five great years, years of happiness, growth (luckily not in body mass, I have lost quite a bit during this time...;) love, fun, traveling, with friends and family visiting and great dinner parties, I will soon bid fair-well to my current address and I will move to the city centre... well, more central cannot be as it is by the Central (train) Station so, by definition, dead centre! ;)

My removal is planned for November and there are a million things to do, from ordering a couple of new furniture, to organizing everything, to packing, to unpacking and making sure everything is ready for Christmas, you know how I get, 1st of December the Christmas tree goes up no matter what and the place needs to be perfect by then!... Plus my mom will be visiting :) My OCD self is kinda panicking already but my other side, the control freak-y side, is taking over and is putting everything in the agenda to make sure I do not forget anything and I do it all on time... Obviously nothing will go as planned but I will at least have the illusion of control until then...

So, after my short break to my beloved Algarve next week, I will be full steam into the removal. I will be trying to keep you up-to-date as much as I can and hopefully my new place will be "better than shoes" (with lots of place for them too ;) and be ready to welcome you soon but I might be a bit less talkative until then so, forgive me and keep following me. I promise to you I will still be looking for them and reporting all the "better than shoes" things I encounter in the process (yes, good things even during a removal)... and you know I keep my promises ;)

Sunday 19 August 2012


I still remember a conversation I had with best friend Anna some 15 (or more... when you get into the double digits, it's hard to really remember...) years ago about being the loved one's (call it boyfriend, partner, husband, whatever...) first priority... I was telling her in tears that I was not D's priority and that I needed it so much... and when she wisely asked me "but, why?" I remember answering in painful honesty "because he is my priority and if I'm not his, then I am nobody's priority"... Though "D" was not worth it for many other reasons, as proven not long later, not having me as his priority was not wrong... what was wrong in that picture was I not having me as my priority!

I changed that. True, many years have passed, I have had a lot of help and it took a great deal of effort, but I did it. And no, I have not become a selfish, heartless bitch, I still care a lot about other people, all the more about the ones I love, even if they don't entirely deserve it sometimes (yep, you know who you are and what you've done...;) and I do everything I can to keep them happy and accommodate their needs. I love people. But I also love myself. And I am my first priority. Life has taught me that most likely no one else is going to give me this place and I owe it to my self to take care of me. I need to make sure I am well. I needed to learn this and I did. And I believe it has made me a better person, less dependent, less needy... and more giving as now I manage to keep a balance and not always feel deprived of attention and empty... I have more to give now that I reserve a bit for myself.

I have been fortunate enough to not have lost myself in a relationship for many years... Having grown up I tried and managed to maintain my equilibrium, my individuality and my priorities straight... true, not without a cost, people don't like it very much when I say "no" to them... but they too have the right to say no to me and I have no option but to accept it. When the other's needs conflict with mine, I don't always give in, I learned to put boundaries. I learned to take care of me. I don't need to be someone else's priority anymore, I am mine. And that is better than shoes.

Monday 13 August 2012

my Sunday

I have written before about how much I love walking. In fact, I know that I am repeating myself when I say, yet again, that walking is better than shoes... Bear with me for a while though...

Yesterday, Sunday, I woke up very early, having enjoyed a long night's sleep (yes, again I fell asleep on the sofa at about 11 on a Saturday night... my social life needs a makeover, perhaps, but what can I say, I like staying in when everyone else goes out...  still, Friday is my preferred night for some action...) and after I got rid of about 30 glass bottles at the recycling bin in my neighbourhood, I took my breakfast and went out for a long walk.

The sun was shinning, the city was still asleep at about 9am when I left the house, I was practically alone on the road and full of energy and will to go all the way to the sea and back... which is a good 13.5Km from where I live and though it is not a marathon, still is quite a bit. I chose some rather relaxing music, I thought I take it slowly as my foot ached a bit from the previous day but I wanted to walk so much I did not want to let it stand in my way. As I started walking I felt as free and as carefree as can be! All the worries of the week before disappeared and my mind filled up with the beauty of this city which, though certainly not the prettiest in the world, gets a lustre when bathed in the sunlight and looks as if it's wearing its best outfit!

With my music in my ears, the sun above me and the quiet surrounding me I went to say "hi" to the sea, make sure it is still there, sat a bit to catch my breath and walked the same way back, just as the hordes of my fellow citizens were heading to the same place I had just left behind. Two and a half hours later in total, exhausted for sure, I returned home, took a shower, ate a bit and crashed on the sofa (again...) for a nap. Refreshed and rested a couple of hours later, I went out for a coffee with some friends to enjoy their great company and the sunshine a bit more before it gives place to the rain (always to happen more often than it should here in NL).

It might not seam much for a Sunday to some of you, it was not spectacular nor glamorous, but for me it was perfect! It was better than shoes!

Friday 10 August 2012

a tiny bit of pampering...

...never hurt anyone! And, as I'm about to elaborate, can be better than a new pair of shoes ;)

I took the afternoon off yesterday. The weather has improved remarkably in the last two days and so has my mood! After quite a few weeks of being less than good, fighting mild illnesses (that were so rude as to even follow me to a mini-break in Crete, if you would believe it...) and being rather depressed because of the weather mostly, the sun finally came out and I felt great and out of medications and with plans to go do my hair in Amsterdam... how cool is all this! Now, normally I don't travel that much to have my hair coloured (any more...) but as my amazing hairstylist went there, I followed. And it was a great opportunity to have an afternoon as if I were a footballer's wife ;)

So I left work in the early afternoon, left the car home and took the train (must be mad to drive in Amsterdam...) and, there I was, mingled with the tourists, enjoying the sunshine and my free time! Had a bit of lunch in "de Bijenkorf" ok, it's not Barneys NY but its the best the city has to offer in department stores, browsed the shoes' department (no, I did not buy anything there, my afternoon was bound to be better than shoes anyway... also, I did not find those Isabel Marant sneakers I have been coveting...) and then continued my wandering in the shopping streets.

As the afternoon was passing, I got a couple of T-shirts, had a look in many shops to see the latest trends (what's with the colours this year, hum?!... lots of teal... the colour of gangrene...) had a quick cup of tea at the cosy lobby of Conservatorium Hotel and then went for my hair. A couple of hours later, there I was with a great colour and a glamorous hairdo, a great big smile on my face and feeling completely revived! I mean, I know, it is just an afternoon, just a bit of pampering but I can assure you, it does wonders! Sometimes a woman needs this, even a rather geeky and engineer-y one like me... and when it happens, it's better than shoes ;)

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Ntakos is certainly better than shoes!!

What?! You don't know what that is?? Well, allow me then :)

A big crunchy barley crisp, topped with juicy finely chopped tomatoes, salt, oregano, the most delicious soft white cheese called "xinomizithra" that you can only find in my favourite island of Crete, olives and capers if you like and loads and loads of extra virgin olive oil to finish it! Not with a wet mouth yet? Take a look at these pictures then and imagine that you are savouring this divine combination of flavours by the sea, deep blue as only the Aegean can be, accompanied with a cold, really cold beer! Oh, come on, don't tell me that didn't do it for you yet!

I have been in Crete many times and I have good friends there. Every time I go I have the best time and I manage to come back with quite a few extra kilos because swimming in its amazing beaches does not help me to get rid of the thousands and thousands of calories I consume every day... the food there is simply the best! And though my last visit did not go quite as planned (cursed be you, gastroenteritis...) I still managed to taste a ntakos once more, to sink my teach in the tender grilled pork, the tastiest of potatoes, the chicken cooked with pasta, the lamb, the mushrooms and the bread! Mmmm, just thinking of those things makes me want to just catch a plane and go back today!

Eating is one of life's pleasures in my opinion and I always feel like home in a place with good food (one of the reasons I fell in love with Portugal is the food... and that certainly deserves another post, I promise!) I think good food makes people better, more humane, more pleasant, more interesting... ok I derailed... Going back to my beloved ntakos, I cannot stress enough how much I recommend you trying it once! Wherever you can find it or even make it at home if you can get the ingredients (you can easily replace xinomizithra with feta cheese... just please get some Greek one, avoid Nordic imitations...) For sure the right way is to visit gorgeous Crete! So many "better than shoes" experiences are awaiting for you there ;)

Wednesday 25 July 2012

summer... at long last!

After weeks and weeks of  rain and cold and grey and depression, finally, the summer came to this part of the world!

Timidly since last weekend and for sure after this past Monday the sun shines, the temperature is high and the mood even higher! If there is one thing we expatriates in The Netherlands have learnt over the years is to seize the day and the moment the weather smiles at us to take advantage in any way we can! So, having learnt my lesson, I was out walking for 12,85Km on Sunday, went to the beach on Monday after work and had dinner out with my best friends last night at a great restaurant... and yes, when I say "out", I literally mean "out"!

There is something about the summer, isn't there? I mean, everything looks prettier -people, homes, cities even- everything looks and feels more relaxed, everyone is in a good mood and you can notice it! Just a bit of sun and suddenly life is better, the world is a better place! Ok, I do see the irony... surely there are plenty of places on this planet where think the same for the rain... Not here though... here we have enough water and the thing we miss is the light... and when it comes, oh, bliss!

So, yes, summer is better than shoes and perhaps arguably the best shoes are the summer shoes (think embellished Zanotti sandals, you see what I mean?) and that's why it deserves a post in this blog. Moreover, with this weather I really cannot concentrate on work... time to go to the beach yet?!...

Wednesday 11 July 2012

the silver lining...

... is, supposedly, always there. Hmmm... So I guess, seeing it should not be a big deal, right? Well, I don't think it is exactly like that... I think it takes quite some training to be able to see the positive side of bad things and, provided that one manages to master the art, that is indeed better than shoes!

I have been training myself in that for some time...  for years to be exact... and in all honesty I still cannot say that I have managed to be one of those people I admire so much who are able, in every bad situation, to see the positive side, to "always look on the bright side of life.. durum... durum durum...".
No, not yet there I'm afraid... but I wanna! I want to be like that, I want to sing in the rain on a Friday night when I decided to walk home after dinner and got soaking wet from the sudden (and totally unforeseen...) downpour, I want to laugh when I spill red fruits' juice on my baby blue cashmere sweater, I want to be in a good mood even when I'm fighting a migraine (and she is winning...), I want to be able to make lemonade when life throws me lemons... and I want it to be good lemonade!

I know that being positive is a state of mind and though I have not entirely put my mind in that state yet, I keep trying. I have already come to terms with the fact that lemons may always come my way, that I have little control over things and that life goes on and I will keep walking no matter what... I just want to improve on that and do it, always, with a smile on my face and no, absolutely no whining! That's what I want, that's what's better than shoes! see the silver lining even when it is really hidden, maintain a positive outlook even when everything looks sh*t, find things to laugh about even when all I want to do is cry... wish me luck ;)

Tuesday 26 June 2012

a nap during Formula1...

... is better than shoes!

I have been watching Formula1 since as long as I can remember and even before than I can remember my mum doing that! Not my dad, mind you, my mum! She has been a fan forever and the germ passed to us kids, my brother and me, as it was rather expected. Many a time when I lived in Greece we would all three of us gather on her bed on warm Sunday afternoons, eating ice cream and enjoying the cool breeze the fan offered us while watching some of the best drivers on the planet drive some of the fastest cars on the planet and competing for a (usually ugly...) trophy! Ah, those were the days my friends...

Many years have past, I no longer live close to my family, as fate had it but, still, the same habits remain for all of us... sometime we have been even on the phone while watching, just to compare views and share comments... But lately, I have developed a further habit... the nap! Ok, I have not really invented naps, could not take credit for that, but I have realised the pleasure of falling asleep during a race whith the lullaby of the cars' engines and the soothing voice of the commentators... Mmm... bliss! Usually I fall asleep before the 10th round and I sleep all the way to the 40th... And yes, I do miss the race essentially... but I gain the nap!

Truth be told, I feel no longer like a true Formula1 fan... I mean, someone who sleeps through about half of the championship every year cannot claim that, can she? I still like it, in my own way I do watch the races, ok, the start and the finish evidently, and I never want to miss one... in the sense that I'm always in front of TV when it takes place... but, yes, I snooze and I sleep and I get cosy on the sofa and well, for me it a "better than shoes" thing... Wanna give it a try? ;)

Tuesday 19 June 2012

@ the Met...

Well, the thing is, I had to write again about the Metropolitan Museum of Art! I just had to! I did write briefly about it in the previous post, as it was indeed one of the highlights of my trip to NY, but it just seamed unfair not to dedicate a complete blog post to it... as there is no doubt in my mind it was so much better than any pair of shoes, even those magnificent Manolo's I found on discount at Barney's and I didn't even try them on due to a rather annoying allergic reaction I had developed since I spent Sunday at Central Park which left me with an elephant foot... just one foot... the right one... oh, well...

So there I was in the best museum I have ever visited in my life! No, it was not just the size of it that overwhelmed me, though truth be told, it is big!! And it was not the amount of people in it, though at 1pm when I arrived on a Tuesday, it was buzzing like a bee hive! And it was not the multiplicity of nationalities. And it was not the incredible variety of collections, both permanent and temporary (the Prada exhibition was amazing...) and it was not the amount of stuff that is accumulated in there from all over the world! And it was not the fact that in every room, in every corner there was something worth photographing and it was not the fact that I was walking around recognising pieces of art I had seen in books and magazines and the TV. It was ALL that that overwhelmed me!

It was the first time in my life, and I will repeat that I have been to the Louvre (twice) and I had not had the same sensation, that I felt like the history of mankind, everything our civilisation has offered in the arts (therefore, our lives!) was there for me to see! That I was having a cultural trip around the planet and I was left so much richer that before! So much beauty accumulated in one place (ok, a huge place...) that eventually brought tears to my eyes! And I will not even begin to describe what I saw as I would not know where to begin with... I will just keep the memories and this longing I have to go back! Soon!!

Friday 15 June 2012

New York, New Yooooork...

Need I really say it?... Need I?... The city that never sleeps stole my heart and now I will never have it back! There is nothing like it, never in my life have I been in a place with such energy! So many things to do, so much to see, eat, drink, walk, buy, visit... Madness in its best! I honestly do not know where to start describing the experience, the beginning seams that actually happened long before I landed in Newark and the end is not written yet... I have already a list of things I did not manage to do that can easily cover another week... and I was tempted yesterday, 5 hours after I got back, to book another plane ticket and go back!

Highlights... it is not at all easy to choose... Times Square, the crossroads of the world, upon arrival there just to get you in the NY mood! Top of the Rocks, certainly! That magical view over Manhattan shining in the morning sun (and the evening one for that matter... twice up there in the same day, don't do half things...) was just spectacular! My favourite building, the Chrysler, lit up in the night, pretty as can be and so distinguished! Theatre, no doubt! Saw two shows "Rock of Ages" and "Harvey", both great experiences! Sunday morning in Central Park, evening walk around Bryant park, the Villages, Soho, all priceless! And my birthday dinner at the "River Café" with that amazing view over the Brooklyn bridge and the Manhattan skyline (and the little birthday candle that came with my desert.. someone put some thought in it and and is greatly appreciated for that ;) will be unforgettable! Last but not least the Met, the best museum I have ever been in my life, if I can actually say I have been there as in just 5 hours I think I only saw 1/5 of it, (yep, it's better than Le Louvre and I'm not afraid to say it...) and the MoMA with its magnificent collection that I feel both made me a better person... art can do that, right? ;)

As for shopping? Well... surely I did not come back empty handed ;) but to be honest, it was not such a high priority. No, I did not take any bus to go to an outlet, no I did not not shop 'till I dropped and no my credit cards did not suffer... that much... New York is better than shoes and being there left me so fulfilled that anything else but just being there was a far second... Hey, I even got to sing in the rain in NY, who can ask for more??!!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Coldplay @Porto

...was better than any pair of shoes I have ever laid eyes on, better then red soled Loubies, better than iconic creations of master Azzedine Alaïa, better than my first pair of white pumps that I insisted on buying at the age of 9 although they were one size too small and cheap as f**k and hurt my feet to the point of fainting... but, they were the first pair of lady like shoes I got after years of wearing corrective shoes for my (slightly...) flat feet... so you can imagine how precious they were...

So, picture this: One of the most beautiful -if not THE most beautiful- cities I have ever been, with the warmest, kindest, friendliest people, a city as alternative and as temperamental as they come (yes, a lot can be said about the weather, but, as Chris said "f**k the rain, we'll have some fun"), a city that I have come to love with all my heart! Now, combine this with Coldplay!! Live!!! In a stadium full of more than 50 thousand people, singing and dancing and laughing in the rain, wearing bracelets that would light up with the music (surely the best alternative to lighters, right?! ;) and sharing a joy so immense, so real! It was "Para- Para- Paradise"!!

Got that? Got the picture? Well, my dear friends, I got a lot more! I got the feeling!!! I got to BE there! And I got to sing until I could not speak any more, I got to dance and jump up and down until I could not walk any more, I got to smile so much my face muscles were sore... I got to be in probably the best concert I have ever been in my life!

So it is only fair to say that I got an experience so precious, so memorable that I can only compare it with the best pair shoes and it wins every time! No matter what the shoes are!

Monday 16 April 2012

courage... better than shoes... or, so they tell me...

The difference between courage and audacity, in my opinion, is that courage means doing tough stuff in full conciousness of how hard they are and what it entails doing them and why you do them; whereas audacity means doing stuff that (more often only others think...) they are tough to do but you are oblivious about their difficulty, no thinking about them, just do... Example: expatriation for me was simply an audacious move, I did not really think about it. But, going after what I really want in life knowing that I have to give up a lot in the process, now that is an act of courage...

Not very eloquent my explanation but I hope you got the message... And, as can be clearly seen from the examples above, though I have been full of audacity for as long as I can remember, surprising with my actions my best friends and myself sometimes, courage I lack...

The moment I start analysing the issues, the moment it becomes concious, well that is exactly the moment I loose my nerve... If I don't think about it, I might do it, but if I start thinking, well, that's that, chances are I will never find the courage to act... not even upon something I want with all my heart, not even when I'm absolutely sure I have to... the difficulties are magnified inside my mind, the negatives exaggerated, the fear overtakes me and I just chicken out..."So, why do you think about it then, why not just do it?!"  you would ask me and you would be right to say so from where you are standing...

But, from where I'm standing, things are no so easy... I have not managed, yet, to have control over my brain, it has a mind of its own and when it starts doing that stinking thinking part, I'm hopeless... analysis over analysis, lists of consequences, scenarios, images even, after a while the whole idea seems to be a horrible one and I give up... even if I know I shouldn't, even if I know I am harming myself that way, I just get too weak... So, when I say that I would gladly trade my beloved Louboutin Sixtizettes for a bit of courage, believe you me, I mean it...

Tuesday 10 April 2012

dolce far niente...

... or "sweet doing nothing", however you prefer it said, the point is the same: it is better than shoes!!!

I spent the 4 days of holidays that came together with the catholic Easter doing exactly that: nothing! Though there was the occasional movement from bed to sofa to dinner table and vice versa, in reality all I did during these 4 days was demonstrate, actively (pun intended...), how good I am in being lazy! Oh, I'm goooooood! Perhaps my best quality yet, as was discovered this past weekend!

There had been a plan of light travelling... but due to northern Europe's inability to act spontaneously, which basically meant that had you not booked a hotel 6 months in advance you could not ever find a room available, inability to which we southern people have to comply with, I did not go anywhere... you may wonder why had I not booked in advance, question which has a simple answer: 'cause I didn't wanna! I just wanted to be able to get in the car, drive 'till tired, then be able to find a nice hotel with a spa and have relaxing massage and a good meal afterwards... dream on...

So, as the escape on my terms could not take place, I stayed here and planned to be lazy... Now, when it comes to lazy long weekends, the trick is to arrange for good company, preferably with the same taste in food and films and certainly with the same level of energy (close to zero...) to make sure that unnecessary discussions over "let's go some place do something" are definitely avoided... surely you don't want to go anywhere and do anything, right? Nah... neither do I... Then, make sure you have comfy bed and sofa... crucial! And good food (ok, this is worth the trouble of going shopping...) and a good supply of gin and tonic and last but not least, make sure the weather is s*** so that nothing lures you out of the house ;)

There! This is the recipe I followed! And believe you me, the end result was so good I think of repeating the endeavour the next long weekend available... if nothing else, I can always count on the s***y weather LOL

Friday 30 March 2012

to seize the day...

... is better than shoes!

The spring came and went... Here in the lower lands the changing of the seasons follows an entirely different pattern then anywhere else in the world... Last week's spring is followed today by autumn... Do I like it? No. Can I change it? Also no. What's left? Enjoying it while it lasts! And I did! To the full! So that I will remember the spring of 2012 as the time when I had my coffee after lunch out in the sun (twice), I was out for a beer, for dinner, spend a day in Amsterdam chatting in the good weather, walked 12Km on a Sunday morning and then walked even more during lunch break in a park.

Not bad for just a week, right? Oh, yeah, I forgot, not only the changing of the seasons here is odd but also their duration... springtime was just a week... but a good week it was! And that is exactly what made me think "carpe diem"... remember "Dead poets society"? I do and I did even more lately. Life is indeed too short, spring (sometimes...) is even shorter and what's important is not to count the size of things (which only matters in some cases...), what's important is to take advantage of the good, to enjoy even if it is just a moment! That's what counts!

Making nice memories is an art, I think. We can train our memory to store only the good and just delete the bad and we can create ourselves more good data to be stored. We can. We only have to do it. It is to a very large extent in our power to fill up those folders in our minds with pleasant files. And yes, if life throws us lemons, we can make lemonade and we can choose to remember the fresh, tasty lemonade and not the lemon that hit us in the head! I did deviate, didn't I?... Oh well, the point is, keep seizing the days, keep enjoying the good moments and stop worrying about them being just moments. After all, life is just a series of moments, no? ;)

Tuesday 20 March 2012

a bit of sun...

... and a good night's sleep is, really, better than shoes!

I woke up this morning with the sunlight sneaking in my room under the heavy dark grey curtain... no, nothing can keep it out if it's there and nothing can replace it when it's not! Second day in a row with sunlight! Priceless! And no, when I lived in Greece I would not even notice it, people never notice what they have in abundance... but here, oh here, I cannot but be counting the days (alas, the weeks sometimes...) before the sun shows his face on the blue sky and everything, no joke, everything looks better!

Add to that, that I actually slept well tonight and you have the perfect combination! I have been having trouble sleeping for some time, sleeping a lot but without getting real rest, like having the feeling that I am stressed all night and running lists in my mind of things I have to do... no good... But not tonight! Tonight I slept like a baby, comfy and cosy and snooze-y in the morning, nothing had bothered me, not the pillows or the duvet, nothing had spoilt my 8 hours of sleep! Now, who can actually say that this is not better than shoes, hum?!

So, two in one my bonuses for today, the benefits of those to be seen easily as I have been working happily and full of energy since I got to work! And I am in a good mood! And it is almost lunch time so I will have a break, get some food and continue! Good things happen all the time, remember, just need to see them! Today, I have already two of those going for me, and that is indeed worth mentioning and certainly appreciated!
Have a great day, people :)

Friday 16 March 2012

I went for a beer after work...

...and it was better than shoes!!

Ok, I will explain because so far it sounds very trivial even to me... So, to begin with, I had a lousy week... and it was not better than shoes, it was crap and it was the second one in a row and it really got to my nerves... But, it is Friday!!! And I woke up today determined to leave the bad behind and have a good last day of the working week, no matter what!

I put on my Martin Margiela boots with the concealed platform (comfort and style... I know... could not be better), my leather biker jacket and my good smile and arrived to work. Over breakfast my friends reminded me of the St. Patric's Day party at the bar. What a better way to finish work than with a party?! As the day progressed, I kept receiving compliments (best one from a lady friend who said "I want a belly like yours!"... man, Pilates pays off big time!!!) I felt better and better, my mood improved so much compared to two days ago I wouldn't believe it myself!

And after I finished some things which had been waiting for my attention these last few days, I went and joined the party. Had a cold Corona, laughed with some good friends, tried the Irish finger food (delicious meat pies, never had them before), chatted and a bit and then came home to my veggie burgers and "Law&Order" episode. No, did not need more, just that, just a beer, just a bit of socializing, just a couple of compliments and some people happy to see me, just the feeling that I did not do once again, and on a Friday, the same things I do every day... I am the kind of girl who does not need much to be content and this change away from the ordinary left me happy... and because of that it was better than shoes ;)

Tuesday 6 March 2012

an afternoon off...

...may be, believe you me, better than shoes!!

I have been working like crazy lately and apart from a short weekend to my beloved Lisbon, where indeed I had a "better than shoes" time, I haven't had a break since Christmas... I know, I know, this is the most difficult time of the year, the weather remains s*** and the spring has not even given us a sign it's close and all than has made it worse... But mostly it has been work that's been quite a heavy load these past couple of months... Well, those of you who read this blog regularly might have noticed the silence...

To top it up, I had to give a lecture to 25 students last week and I have also been a bit sick, nothing serious, just enough to put me through the adventure of trying to get a doctor on a Saturday... add to that chores like fixing the car window, cleaning my running shoes from an incredible amount of dirt, getting rid of the glass and paper for recycling and you got me without any energy left in my batteries... and none of all this would ever qualify to be in this blog if it wasn't to illustrate to you the value of today's afternoon off!!!

I never thought that snoozing on the sofa, warm under a soft blanket with a cuppa next to me and watching the home shopping channel would be such a bliss! But, bliss it was! I even almost bought the Ceramicore pans (nothing sticks to it and it is sooooooo easy to clean!)... well, almost... I stopped when I could not think of a place to store it... Nevertheless, that did not spoil my afternoon at all. Admittedly there is not a lot to tell you about it, however it is exactly this absence of action that made it the special, priceless, "better than shoes" experience worth sharing here with you ;)

Thursday 2 February 2012

bad decisions...

A friend of mine posted some weeks ago the following in her facebook page: "bad decisions make good stories" and I could not agree more! Looking back in my life, boy, do I have a huge bundle of those! Bad decisions and good stories, that is ;) And to be honest, I do not regret anything! Surely with the wisdom I have accumulated over the years -please, no laughs, I am indeed old and wise, you should have guessed by now- I would have done things differently in quite many occasions, but no, I do not regret the way I did things and the decisions I made because each and everyone of them made me who I am, got me where I am... and, it is not a bad place to be :)

With this, I don't mean that bad decisions are better than shoes... when it comes to that for that matter, I have taken soooo many bad decisions relating to shoes and most of them are still in my closet (those Stella McCartney stilettos have never been worn...) reminding me that with the money I paid for those I could easily spend a week in the Caribbean! But even for the worst decisions I made the stories are good, really good, "better than shoes" good! And their benefit is not only personal, no, I can also share it! Ever so often a friend confides in me about a troublesome situation they are in, about a choice they have to make, about (more often than you think...) a guy who's being a pain in the a** and at those moments I can open the drawers of my memory and share a good story based on my mistakes, my wrong decisions, which perhaps will help and guide them to the right one!

And that is why I thought it worth mentioning. Because this is better than shoes, sharing a good story, and maybe offering some insight, some perspective to somebody who needs it. Now, obviously, there were people who shared their stories with me in the past precisely so that I don't make their mistakes... and I did... stubborn? Perhaps only human... but in the process I made my own stories, my own life. And even if my stories don't help in reality anyone, oh well, they are still good stories! Even for just a laugh :)

Tuesday 17 January 2012

first post for 2012...

17 days into the new year... not even considered "new" anymore, just the year we're in... I have been contemplating about starting off of the right foot, finding something spectacularly good to write about in my first post for 2012... something no-one could ever argue is not better than the best pair of shoes... and have not found it... no, it was not the warm New Year's Eve at home with some of my best friends here, not the sandy beach I walked on, not the bright hot sun in the middle of winter, not even enjoying a week of laziness, without worries and chores and errands to run... none of these seemed good enough... none of these felt "better than shoes"...

Was I expecting too much? Have I become too picky or blasé even?? Had I been ignoring my happy moments, have they really missed me? Is that what happened or indeed there has been nothing worth writing about? Nah... not possible! I kept saying to myslef that amazing things happen every day so in theory, I must have experienced 17 of them just this year! Or... maybe not...

Maybe, just maybe, there come times when good things do not happen... not that bad things find us necessarily or maybe just that one bad thing, namely being in a gloomy mood blinding us only as far as the good things go... dunno... and though it is not my preferred way of starting the year, this uncertainty that is, I will have to accept it and move on... move on with my life with the hope that my eyes will soon open and be able to spot the happiness no matter where it hides! And then, you bet I will be writing about it!