Falling for the food scene in Mooloolaba

Envy Café Mooloolaba

Last Sunday I opted for a beach day in Mooloolaba with friends instead of tackling the stack of textbooks sitting on my desk (always the better choice, am I right?)

After a few blissful hours spent laying in the sun, I suddenly hit a low point when I realized I’d completely forgotten to put on sunscreen and had badly burned my derrière pack a lunch and was absolutely starving.

The Mooloolaba Esplanade really has the nicest cafés and restaurants, but most of them are definitely made for sitting down and enjoying a meal. I’m not exactly a ‘local’ yet in Mooloolaba, so I was having a hard time finding something quick  and easy – …and vegan… – to just grab with me and go back down to the beach.

A moment of clarity came upon me and I remembered having eyed out a particular healthy-looking café a few weeks ago. I even impressed myself and my companion enormously by remembering exactly where it was, a couple of blocks up from the beach.

So we trotted off, me and my (probably skeptical) friend who I’d convinced to tag along with me on this food hunt, and 10 minutes later we were both completely enamoured.

Hands down one of the best food discoveries I’ve made here… Envy Café.

Envy Café Mooloolaba

Like walking into someone’s living room… I love this kind of ambiance. Cakes at Envy Café Mooloolaba

My kryptonite right here, folks
Don’t worry, I practiced some major self-control!
Dairy-free month continues.

Envy Café Mooloolaba

No, YOU are special! 😀

Envy Café serves all kinds of food; this is not a specialized vegetarian/vegan joint, but everything is organic and all meat comes from grass-fed animals. So it’s a perfect place to take all your friends, no matter what kind of food they like. Sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups, juices, smoothies, coffee, cakes… You name it! 😉

The prices weren’t bad either (I’ve paid nearly as much for five leaves of lettuce and a cucumber at the Mooloolaba Esplanade, as I did for a huge takeaway meal that lasted for lunch and dinner at Envy). That being said, I might have spent slightly more money on eating out lately than my student budget allows me to…….. I need a volunteer to hold an intervention.

In my defence, though, I gave up feta cheese. I mean… Just that in itself gives me permission to spend 18$ on the best veggie burger I’ve ever had in my life, right?

Veggie burger from Envy Café, Mooloolaba

To an untrained eye it may look sloppy, but trust me on this – when it comes to veggie burgers, looks can be deceiving. And this was one helluva tasty little guy, so he’s free to look as sloppy as he’d like 😉

Veggie burger from Envy Café, Mooloolaba

This wasn’t anything like what I had in mind when I embarked on my food hunt (takeaway burger doesn’t exactly scream “convenient beach picnic food!”), but all common sense went out the window the moment I stepped over that threshold.  I’m already planning our next beach trip  to ensure that we have plenty of time for a long lunch at Envy in the middle of the day 🙂

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Walking along the Esplanade on our way to the bus-stop that afternoon, we stumbled across even more juice bars and even a completely vegan café with a view to the beach. I’m falling more and more for the food scene in Mooloolaba… Quality cafés and restaurants are in abundance, and the more I pay attention to it, the more I see how many great options there are for health-conscious vegetarians like me.

I don’t know if it’s my selective memory playing a trick on me, but I just can’t help but think that Oslo has a long way to go here…! Vegetarian/vegan restaurants aren’t exactly at every corner, and all I have are bad memories of paying full price for Caesar Salads without chicken and bacon (leaving me with lettuce, croutons and dressing apparently worth 20$…)

Selective memory or not – I’m quite happy to be eating my way through the Sunshine Coast in the year to come 🙂

Mooloolaba Beach

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A love letter to a romantic tale set in Cuba that reached its happy ending

View of Capitolio from roof of Hotel Inglaterra, Havana I’m sitting at a café on campus reading up on articles for schoolwork (meaning, blog posts…) and over at my right there’s some sort of market day going on focusing on the language courses offered at the university next semester.

Salsa music is being played from huge speakers, which is a little comical to me because the only language courses offered at this uni are Japanese, Indonesian and Italian. Not to get hung up on details, but none of these cultures are associated with salsa.

Still, I am instantly transported back to my time living in Cuba and even my travels in Mexico last year. My heart skips a bit as I close my eyes and a rush of memories are being brought back to me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Cuba lately. Mostly, because the most wonderful news reached me the other day:

My good friend married her Cuban sweetheart last week.

Street musicians, Havana, Cuba

She, a beautiful, blonde Danish girl working for another tour agency, was one of my best friends in Cuba. He was a slick-looking Latino with a a huge smile and a heart of gold.

I remember vividly the night they met. There were four of us in our close group of friends, all female Scandinavian tour guides. On our free time, we did what any young girls would do: enjoy the world’s best rum and go out dancing.

We were at Casa de la Musica, which is one of the best clubs in Varadero and it plays almost exclusively salsa music. The place is electric pretty much any night of the week, and it was our favorite place to let loose and enjoy ourselves.

The two of them spotted each other across the room, and at the end of the night he’d passionately kissed her goodnight within a couple of hours of knowing her. The rest of us laughed and teased her as she joined us again on the dance floor.

‘Are you kidding me?! Glad that’s out of your system,’ we laughed. He was wearing a neon pink button-up shirt, and could have easily been Ricky Martin’s slightly darker-haired twin brother. We thought he looked ridiculous and didn’t understand what she saw in him. Let’s be frank: young, blonde Scandinavian girls in Cuba can have their pick… and he wouldn’t have been my pick if I’d seen him across the room.

But they had found each other. And that was that.

Colorful old cars and buildings, Havana

Over the next few months, I watched their love story unfold despite cultural differences and initial language barriers. Ricky Martin, who I had instantly judged as a total douche who didn’t know how to dress, turned out to be one of the kindest and warmest people I’ve ever met.

(I literally learned not to judge a book by its cover from this relationship. You can preach it all you want, but you need to be proven wrong and feel like an idiot before you actually get it).

Always taking in interest in her friends and investing time and effort to get to know us, no doubt because he cared about her so much. They were so in love, it was impossible to look away. You just kind of wanted it to rub off on you, somehow.

Cayo Blance outside Varadero, Cuba

Nearly two years has passed since then, and while I haven’t seen them face to face since we left Cuba, I can imagine what they’ve been going through.

Him, stuck in Cuba.

Her, trying to figure out her life and pursuing her career, but always missing her love in Varadero.

Scrambling to find time and money for her to come visit as often as possible.

Wondering, ‘can we really do this? take this risk? is it going to be you and me? because if so, the only way is to bring you to Denmark. and the only way to bring you to Denmark is to get married. are we too young to get married? what if we’ll regret it?’

In the end… ‘You’re my true love. I want it to be you and me, forever.’

After what I can only imagine was very a long struggle with the Cuban embassy and Danish immigration – getting out of Cuba is not easy – he arrived in Denmark this summer.

And last week they each got to marry the love of their life at town hall and begin their lives together in Copenhagen as man and wife.

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Not all love stories are conventional.
Not all are convenient.
Not all are easy to follow through. 

But sometimes…. just sometimes…. 

It’s all so worth it. 

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Books I loved sticking my nose in this year: Part III

 Rounding up the books I’m enjoying the most this year! I know, I know, it’s only September, but just the thought of making lists like these in December – which appears to be kind of mandatory for bloggers – makes me feel exhausted. I’m getting off to a head-start.

First, I rounded up 3 awesome true-story books about journeys and adventures.
Part I here
Then we moved on to the fiction books I found particularly original and exciting.
Part II here

This week, let’s look at… 

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…the ones that taught me to eat like a champ

In defense of food, Michael Pollan 1 //  In Defense of Food: An eater’s manifesto by Michael Pollan

Mandatory for anyone slightly interested in health, nutrition, and the catastrophe that is SAD (Standard American Diet). Pollan’s mantra goes a little something like this:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 

Should be simple enough, right?

But it’s NOT in today’s society, because so much of what’s on the shelves in supermarkets have been processed and fiddled with in laboratories to the point where it’s not even food anymore. It’s just an experiment of refining food to the unrecognizable and playing around with ‘nutritional’ lego bricks. The most interest part of the book for me was reading about the age of “nutritionism”: how everything basically went awry as soon as scientists where able to break down food into molecules vitamins, minerals, omega-this and fiber-that. Cue the inevitable…. politics got involved. There’s money to be made here, folks.

I don’t respond well to people pointing fingers and saying, “the reason your health isn’t optimal is because you’re not eating well enough. make better choices” – you being any one of us in modern Western society.

What I love, however, are these guys like Pollan who educate us in how we got f***ed, basically, by the Big Guys: The meat industry. The dairy industry. The GMO companies. And the politicians trying to protect their interests.

When someone says, “we know you’re trying your hardest, and it’s actually not your fault that you’re not eating nourishing enough food! and the choices you make from here on out DO matter! let’s educate ourselves on the subject and make a difference where we can”….. that’s when I listen 😉

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Nourishing wisdom, marc david2 // Nourishing Wisdom: A mind-body Approach to Nutrition and Well-being by Marc David 

Marc David is the guy who founded the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and he has an immense amount of knowledge in nutrition and  nutritional psychology.

In this book he argues is that there really is no such thing as “good food” or “bad food”. In order to have a healthy relationship with food – and good health, of course – we need to get our heads out of the science behind nutrition and try to be more grounded in a mind-body approach to eating. Yes, yes and yes!

Total game-changer for me. I loved this book so much that I actually wrote a post about back in May which you can check out here.

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Clean, Alejandro Junger

3 // Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D. 

This is one of the last books I read, and I only just finished it last week.

It’s a nutritional detox program, developed by Dr. Junger that is meant to restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It’s a very revealing book with lots of “inconvenient truths” about how our bodies are constantly bombarded with toxins through our food, our homes, our environment.

The thing is that our bodies are this incredible machines that have ability to get rid of all these toxins, but all the toxins we consume constantly in the 21st century blocks this ability. I like the metaphor with the band-aid: one of the basic things Mom teaches us when we’re kids is that if we scratch our knees, put a band-aid and don’t pick on it. The wound will heal by itself as long as you get out of the way. It’s basically no different when it comes to our illnesses.

Haven’t finished it yet, but it’s for sure one of the most interesting (and scary…!) reads of mine this year!

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 4// BONUS! The documentaries… 

 Some of these I’ve seen before, but they’ve all been revisited this year. Must-sees for those of you interested in health and diet.

Hungry For Change – true story: this was the  straw that broke the camel’s back. I watched this in March and started green-juicing the next day. Haven’t looked back since.

Food Inc. – Oldie, but goodie. A little bit more controversy-y and focuses a lot on the politics involved in farming and the big animal-based food industries in the US.

Forks over knives – argues the case of vegetarianism and benefits of getting protein from plant foods vs. animal foods, and that all the ‘Western diseases’ are linked to animal foods; heart disease, diabetes etc. One of the most memorable points made is that we could put an end to hunger today if we took all the grains used to feed cattle and give it to starving world citizens instead. Yup. And cattle is supposed to eat grass anyway, so we’re only messing with nature feeding them all these grains.

Food matters – from the people behind Hungry for Change.

Fat, sick, and nearly dead – a documentary film following an Australian guy who goes on a month long juice cleanse to save his life, and travels through the US to gain awareness about it. Funny, uplifting, inspiring, and will teach you a lot.

May I be Frank? – the guys working at Café Gratitude in San Francisco take on a project: sick, depressed and overweight Frank who wants to fall in love one more time before he dies. And you guessed it… he has to change his diet and lifestyle and learn to love himself first. Awww… this movie is hilarious and very touching at the same time.

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I hope you’re feeling inspired to learn a little bit more about nutrition and diet!  

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Burrito madness

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe on the blog, but I can assure you that I’m slowly but surely eating my way through my Pinterest recipe board… Given that dairy (and my beloved feta cheese) is out of the picture for now, I’m more motivated than ever to test recipes and prove that you do not have to eat bland and boring food as a vegan!

I’ve been mildly obsessed with Mexican-style food lately, and there’s a slight chance I may have eaten some sort of burritos for dinner for a week straight. Ahem.

But c’mon you guys, the variations are endless and they taste so good!
Try these ones out for size… 😉

Spicy and smoky sweet potato burritos

Spicy + Smoky Sweet Potato Burritos

Makes 8 medium burritos, 4-6 large 

1 can of borlotti beans (or black beans, pinto beans)
2 whole sweet potatoes
1 large red bell pepper
1 large red onion
1 jalapeño
1 fresh corn cob (or canned if that’s what you have in your pantry)
2 limes
1 good handful of fresh cilantro
Your choice of lettuce
Hummus (preferably homemade!)
*Salse and/or guacamole are always a good idea if you have them handy!*
whole-wheat tortillas

2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt & pepper

Spicy and smoky sweet potato burritos

Step 1 – Roasted veggies

  1. Peel your sweet potatoes and chop ’em up in small cubes along with your onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Put it in all an oven-proof baking dish.
  2. Coat with olive oil and throw in the spices. Mix well.
  3. Roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes; until the sweet potatoes are cooked all the way through. You’re gonna want to get in there and stir from time to time.

Step 2 – Make some burritos

  1. Heat tortillas according to instructions on package, and coat a smaller baking dish with olive oil. Drain and rinse your beans.
  2. When the vegetables are cooked, add chopped cilantro, lime juice, corn, and the beans.
  3. Fill your tortillas and roll ’em up, placing them tightly side by side in the baking dish. This way they’ll stay wrapped up, and they’ll come out nice and crispy.
  4. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until the tortillas are golden brown.
  5. Serve on a bed of lettuce and hummus on the side!

Spicy and smoky sweet potato burritos

The sweetness from the yams, the smoky cumin flavor, the spicy chilli…. YUM. 

These are excellent as a pre-made lunch option too! Wrap ’em up in foil (or for all you Norwegians: matpakkepapir 🙂 ) and keep them in the fridge for 3 days.

Too easy, mate 😉 

*I changed it up a little bit and made them vegan, but the inspiration came from this awesome recipe

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…and then I quit dairy

dairy cattle

Another 30-day challenge

I’m doing a little experiment: I’m quitting dairy for at least 30 days to see if it might be an allergen for me and to give my digestive system a little break. I don’t eat that much dairy to begin with, so it shouldn’t be too difficult, except it means I can’t eat feta cheese.

I AM HEARTBROKEN.

I’ll probably never quit feta cheese completely (and it is goat cheese after all, which is a lot better than anything made from cow’s milk), but for the sake of this elimination diet, it has to go… Tears have been shed, that’s all I’m sayin’.

cheesecake and berry tart

So, why would I choose to quit dairy?

Basically, I want to see what all the fuss is about…!

When you start reading up on nutrition and health, the “dairy debate” pops up all over the place. Everyone seems to think that in order to achieve optimal health, you must. quit. dairy. right. this. second.

There’s no getting around it. Like I said, I’m not a huge dairy-eater to begin with. I take my coffee black, I don’t drink milk, or eat dubious amounts of pizza with cheddar cheese. It’s basically going to be feta cheese, butter, and yoghurt that I’m giving up.

I want to be strict about this for 30 days to make it a bit of cleanse and see if I can tell a difference. I’m don’t know if I’m expecting anything major, but it’ll be interesting to see if I end up discovering that dairy needs to go for good.

Ice cream

My main points for motivation:

  • Most people cannot digest dairy. After the age of 4, that is. You then stop producing the enzyme lactase – which is the enzyme that digests lactose (the main sugar in milk). The fact that we (Westerners…) can digest it to some extent is a weird form of gene mutation. From a biological standpoint, I’m just not convinced that we’re meant to be drinking milk as adults… especially not milk from another species.
  • Osteoporosis. The countries in the world who chug down the most milk, actually have the highest rates of osteoporisis… Say, whaaat? I know, I know. This goes against everything we learned as kids. Read The China Study – it’ll answer all your questions.
  • Cows are often given steroids and hormones to produces more and “better” milk. These hormones can negatively affect the human hormone balance.
  • Calcium. I knew you were going to bring that up. “But what about the calcium???” You get calcium from plants too, you know. For instance, kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk. Milk made from sesame seeds contains up to 10 times more calcium than cow’s milk.
  • Cows are often fed inappropriate food. Cows eat grass – we all know that. Well, factory cows, or commercially fed cows, don’t get to eat grass. They’re fed grains and soy and corn and all sorts of genetically modified ingredients , and all this can often make them sick. To keep them from getting sick, it’s very common to keep them on antibiotics constantly – putting two and two together, all of that goes into the dairy that we consume.
  • Dairy is mucous forming, which means that – among other things – it can contribute to respiratory disorders. I’ve had asthma my whole life, and a long-term goal of mine is to see if I can heal myself and stop taking asthma medication.

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Ready, set, go! 

As I’m writing this, I’ve already gone over a week without any dairy at all. Can’t say I feel much different yet, but I’m thinking that I’ll find out more when I try to put dairy back into my diet after a month without it. That way I’ll see how it affects me.    

I’ll keep you posted on the no-dairy experiment as time goes by!
Hopefully I’ll learn something useful from it 🙂 

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Good Vibes and Liebster Awards

The sweet Marisa from The Green Sunshine was kind enough to tag me for a Liebster Award, and I had so much fun doing this!

Liebster Award Symbol

Marisa blogs about travel, health and living life to the fullest – exactly my kind of blog, in other words 😀  She’s currently in training to become a certified health coach, and shares some amazing recipes… Not to mention, she wrote a whole post about why sweet potatoes are awesome from a nutritionist’s standpoint. Seeing as I eat sweet potatoes by the bulk practically every week, I’m sold.

The Liebster Award works like a chain letter, and it’s a way for bloggers to spread some love, support and encouragement, and to discover new blogs. The rules are as follows:

  • Thank the awesome blogger who nominated you.
  • Post the award badge on your blog.
  • Answer the questions your nominator has left for you.
  • Nominate some other awesome bloggers.
  • Make up 10 questions for them to answer.

First up – here are my answers to Marisa’s questions for me!

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1) If your life was a movie, which title would it be?

This was hard….! My head’s spinning after trying to come up with something good for this one.

I’m gonna have to go with the tagline instead:

I decided to live it

via

2) What smell do you love?

The smell of Christmas!

I’m obsessed with Christmas, and it happens to be my birthday month as well, so I live and breathe for December. The smell of snow, pine trees, clementines, cinnemon, a lit fire…

… in Norway, tradition says to bake 7 kinds of Christmas cookies to have on hand for the whole holiday season. The smell of “julebakst” throughout the house is one of my favorite smells in the whole world. (I promised myself I wouldn’t go there to torture myself now that I’m a vegan-ish, but the smell of “pinnekjøtt”…. oh God. If you’re Norwegian, you get it.)

Bonus: the smell of coffee and aquevit doesn’t hurt either.

Christmas Cookies

3) Which season do you adore?

(I hate to be this person, but) I love all of them!

I really can’t choose. I come from a country with what I would say is an extreme diversity in its seasons, and there’s just no way I could choose one that I love more than the others.

That’s the whole point, isn’t it? To appreciate and adore the changing seasons and what makes them each so special to you 🙂

Changing seasons in Norway

4) What is your wildest dream?

a) Be a rockstar.
b) Marry Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and become the Kate Middleton of Scandinavia.

I’m kidding. (No, I’m not. Kind of.)

If I can’t have that, my wildest dream is to travel the world and go on adventures for a living. To write, play music, meet like-minded people, go to far and distant corners of this planet, and just be… me. To work for myself and be my own boss, and write a fantastic memoir one day about all the mind-blowing adventures I’ve been on. To inspire people to follow the feeling of joy and happiness wherever it may take them.

I want all that – and then a private helicopter so that I can fly home at moment’s notice to be there for all my friends’ birthdays and wedding, all the big moments in my family members’ lives, and whenever I need a hug from the people who knows me best.

Look where your mind goes when it wanders

via

5) What is your best childhood memory?

I have to say all the memories I have of playing outside with my sister.

People always commented on how “good” my sister and I were at playing together. Whether it was at our family cabin, in the woods behind Dad’s apartment building, or in the backyard of Mom’s house, we had a very vivid imagination and always made the most of our surroundings.

I cherish those memories so, so much, and I want that so badly for my future children.

Creek in the woods via

6) What is your favorite book?

I have several favorite books, but I’m going to go with what is probably the most meaningful book to me; the first book I ever fell in love with and read over and over again.

Nobody’s Boy by Hector Malot.

Sans Famille Hector Malot

I was very young when I first read this book, and I kept going back to it over the course of a couple of years. It was the first time I can remember experiencing the power of books and stories – how they grab a hold of you and make hours disappear.

I was so emotionally involved in the story of Remi losing his parents and being all alone in the world, and eventually getting to the happy ending was  reassurance that all is well in the world (and that Mom and Dad would never leave me. A child’s brain will nearly always circle back to that).

This is the book that made me fall in love with reading, and therefore it’s my favorite! 🙂

7) Share one of your healthy tips.

Adding.

I really can’t stress this enough: if you want to make a bit of a healthy change, don’t immediatly take away something that you like. Don’t think, “I’m gonna quit sugar” or “I’m gonna quit coffee” or “I’m gonna quit eating meat”.

I believe you have a 100% better succes rate if you just focus on adding more of the “good” stuff.

Want to quit drinking soda? Just start slowly adding more glasses of water into your daily routine. Soon, you’ll find you can’t physically drink as much soda as you used to because the water is taking its place, so to speak. And the less soda you drink, the less you crave it.

Want to eat more veggies (cause we all know we should…)? Don’t think about cutting out meat or pasta or starchy carbs. Just add more veggies to your plate every single time, and in no time at all you’ll find that you’re eating twice as much veggies without even making a real effort.

These subtle changes really do add up! 😉

Small daily improvements key to staggering long-term results

8) What is your favorite quote?

I’m a huge collector of inspirational quotes, so this is a tough one!

But at the moment, I think my friend Roal Dahl is the winner of this one… It’s a simple quote that always makes me smile and reminds me that as long as I’m kind and grateful and think good thoughts, all is well.

If you have good thoughts... Roald Dahl quote

via

I’ve had this quote stuck on my bathroom mirror for months to make sure it’s one of the first things I see in the morning 🙂

9) List one thing on your bucket list!

Just one?!

Better pick a good one… Let’s see…

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the items on my bucket list deal with travel – I would say most of them are travel related. So to share something other than that:

Be present at a major sporting event, like the Super Bowl, winter olympics, or World Cup finals in football.

World Cup Final Spain 2010

10) What makes you shine?

Lots of things make me shine because lots of things make me happy!

But looking through pictures, I definitely think I shine the most and the brightest when I’m having a laugh with my girlfriends. And I have the best friends.

I feel exactly the same away as Raves & Revelations when she writes, ‘I have the best friends. No, really. My group of friends is better than yours.’ 😛

But, seriously. My friends are better than yours.

And they bring out the very best in me ♥

Friendship collage ————————————-

For the next round, I nominate these wonderful ladies…

Zauni from The Kind Side.

Lisa from Love To-Go.

Laura from inspiration.sparks

… and my questions for them are as follows: 

  1. What is one skill or talent that you desperately wish you had?
  2. If you could time-travel and go back in history to experience one thing only… which moment would you travel back to?
  3. Do you have any completely irrational fears or phobias?
  4. Do you have a daily or weekly ritual that you cannot forego no matter what?
  5. Name one of the people who have inspired you the most in your life!
  6. If you could speak one other language fluently, which would you choose, and why?
  7. Do you own an item that you cherish more than anything? That you would practically run into a burning house to save?
  8. What makes your family unique from others?
  9. What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?
  10. Tell us about your best childhood friend, and one of your fondest memories with them.

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Books I loved sticking my nose in this year: Part II

 Rounding up the books I’m enjoying the most this year! I know, I know, it’s only September , but just the thought of making lists like these in December – which appears to be kind of mandatory for bloggers – makes me feel exhausted. I’m getting off to a head-start.

A couple of weeks ago I rounded up 3 awesome true-story books about journeys and adventures that I have read so far this year.
Part I here

This week, let’s look at… 

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…the ones that brought something new to the table

1 // ROOM by Emma Donoghue 'Room' by Emma Donoghue

Original. That’s the main thing you need to know about this book.

It’s about a girl who was kidnapped at 21 and has been locked in a Old Nick’s shed for the past 6 or 7 years. In captivity, she gives birth to a son who she names Jack. We get to know what their life is like in Room, follow their dramatic escape, and take part their struggle to adjust to freedom and a normal life – which is terrifying for Jack, since he’s never known anything other than life in Room.

The twist is that whole story is told through Jack, which makes it an unforgettable read. I’ve never read anything like it – definitely haunting (but also a celebration of courage and resilience, so it’s wasn’t all horrible, thank God).

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2 // The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky'Perks of being a wallflower' book

A coming-of-age story with lots of heart and lots of wisdom!

Taking place in high school, it’s about a socially awkward and shy freshman – a wallflower – named Charlie who becomes friends with a quirky and exciting group of people. He basically falls in love with all of them (one girl in particular) and with the person he is when he’s with them, and the books is a little bit like an ode to being on the fringes of life and adulthood.

The story is a lot of more layered and thought-out than I first expected, so I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. It deals with some  serious issues and some very emotional and sensitive subjects. You’ve probably heard or seen this quote from the book:

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Sigh… Ain’t that the truth!

(No, I haven’t watched the movie, because as much as I try to like her and find endearing qualities,  I just cannot stand Emma Watson…)

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3 // Aleph + the Valkyries + the Pilgrimage + Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho

paulo coelho books collage

Soooo… I’ve been on a bit of a Paulo Coelho roll.

I adore Paulo Coelho, but  it’s almost like I adore everything that he stands for more than I can claim to adore all of his books – because I’m way behind…! Over the past few years, I’d only read The Alchemist, Eleven Minutes and Veronika Decides to Die. My true fascination and love for him actually comes from reading and watching interviews with him. To me, he represents magic and possibilities. The belief that you can become anything you set your mind to become, and that dreams and wishes are powerful things which should never be suppressed.

Well, I finally got around to it and tackled the stack of Coelho books I had sitting in my bookcase.

Aleph ⋙ a journey of self-discovery and a very personal novel. This one really struck a chord with me because it deals with Coelho’s own real-life crisis of faith. I find it immensely comforting to know that even spiritual leaders have times when they feel frustrated and angry and at a stand-still and questions the freakin’ point of it all. A very interesting insight into Coelho’s life.

the Valkyries ⋙ I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to people who think that Paulo Coelho is “a little bit out there” as it is. I mean, the book is about a journey through the Mojave desert that Coelho and his wife undertook to try to meet his guardian angel – in the most literal sense. It contains lots of accounts of magic, rituals and angels; that kinda thing. But for me who – let’s face it – is “a little bit out there” myself, it was a wonderful read! It’s a fascinating story, and like ‘Aleph’, it focuses on the human being behind the spiritual, untouchable wise author/”magus” version of Coeolho.

the Pilgrimage ⋙ A must-read, plain and simple. The story of Coelho’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela back in the 80s. It’s one of the first books he published, some 20 years ago. This book was especially interesting to read because my cousin, on his gap year after graduating high school, embarked on this pilgrimage by himself in March. I think he’s by far one the coolest people I know for doing that. How many 19-year-old guys do you know who went on a pilgrimage by themselves instead of boozing it up in Thailand with their friends for 3 months? He is downright awesome, and my hat’s off to him. I hope he knows that.

Manual of the Warrior of Light ⋙ what a beautiful little gem! A summary of Coelho’s teachings, it can be described as a compilation of short philosophical passages. A heart-warming read!

“In order to have faith in his own path, he does not need to prove that someone else’s path is wrong.”

“Warriors of light are not perfect.Their beauty lies in accepting this fact and still desiring to grow and to learn.”

“The only trap I must beware not to fall into, is to think that each day is the same as the next. In fact, each morning brings with it a hidden miracle, and we must pay attention to this miracle.”

“To travel is the experience of ceasing to be the person you are trying to be, and becoming the person you really are.”

Sitting on my nightstand, I have ‘By The River Piedra I sat Down And Wept‘ and ‘Manuscript found in Accra‘. Let the marathon continue!

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Have you read any fiction books this year that brought some new ideas; that you found original and exciting? 

 

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