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 ;)