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Mediterranean Jam Jar Salad

I love food. I seriously do. I also love cooking. While I’m by no means Jamie Oliver, I’d say that my cooking skills are more than decent. As I’m a vegetarian for a couple of years now, I always try to find vegetarian recipes for dishes I used to eat as a child. That makes me experiment and try a lot of different things.

Now I tried something new, I definitely didn’t steal from somewhere else. (Oh, yes I did!) I call it the “Mediterranean Jam Jar Salad”. It’s a layered salad with different ingredients in a… jam jar. Obviously. Hence the name!

It is really simple to make if you have an attention span of at least 15 minutes. And this is what it looks like:

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amsterdam-8

Amsterdam

This year I decided to travel abroad during Christmas to escape the usual madness. Laura and I therefore settled for Amsterdam and visited the capital of the Netherlands from the 20th until the 26th of December.

I’ve only been to the Netherlands once before even though some of my cousins are actually Dutch. So you can image my excitement to visit the country a second time.

We walked over 60 kilometers during these six days and traveled way more by public transport. While we visited more places than you can find on the map, not every venue had free Wi-Fi, so we couldn’t check in to every place (I got the data from Foursquare).

It was the first time that I traveled with my new camera — the α7 II — and was eager to test it. While the weather wasn’t perfect we had some sunny days. All in all I took nearly 500 photos. Here are my favourites from the trip. Enjoy!

I liked a lot about Amsterdam. It is an incredibly beautiful city especially the area around the Grachtengordel. As I like food, I was also impressed by the Foodhallen, the different cafés (three different links) though what I liked most was definitely the Amsterdam Light Festival.

La Bohème

We got lost in our dreams
Our impossible dreams
It is the usual story
And when we woke at last
We found our day had passed
Our little time gone by

La Bohème is one of my most favourite songs of all time1, which is rather odd considering it has been released in 1965, the year my father was born.

I usually listen to it while driving with my girlfriend or being at home alone, enjoying the calm and loneliness. It is then that I daydream:

I am not much older than I am now. I have spent the last couple of years reinventing myself over and over again. I had a lot of different jobs, did a lot of different things, experienced a lot of different places. I learned a lot.

I worked as a barista learning how to prepare the perfect espresso and how to roast coffee beans.
I worked for a magazine publisher learning what paper to choose, how to set type and what it feels like to create something physical.
I worked as a cook learning the true meaning of food and how to combine ingredients.
I traveled to different countries learning the languages and discovering different cultures.

I did a lot of different things, but never settled for one place. I never stayed a the same place for more than half a year. There were just too many things to do. And of course I wrote about everything.

After a while I wake up again. The song has ended, so did my dream. I am back in reality. I am still a struggling writer, still trying to make a living, still discovering who I am.

The English version of La Bohème is somehow darker than the French version: In this version we wake up and realize that we wasted our time chasing “impossible dreams”. Time had gone by and our days are passed; a rather depressing thought.

I understand it differently though. We only waste our time by getting lost in our dreams if that is all we do. It is not enough to just dream, we should work hard to make them happen. If we don’t, the dreams will stay impossible. We will miss our chance and regret it later on.

I know that I won’t. I will work hard to reach this vision of mine. I will fight and struggle and start over again and fight and struggle and start over again. Until the dream isn’t impossible anymore.

To end this, I’d like to quote Shonda Rhimes:

Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams — fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them — it’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. So… ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.

Also:

Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just do.

  1. Charles Aznavour is a genius. He even made Sting and Elton John sing in French. You absolutely need to listen to Duos

The Year of Habits

At the beginning of the year I decided to create one or two new habits each month. There were a couple of things I wanted to start for years but never seemed to form the routines.
I wanted to do all of them at the same time. I wanted to meditate daily, go for a run every second day, write a journal every evening and so on. I tried but ultimately failed. It was just too much.

I knew – and we all probably do – that in order to create a habit you have to do them gradually. So that’s what I’ll do this year.

Last year I bought a Hobonichi Techo, a planner from Japan recommended by different writers especially Patrick Rhone. A lot of people – including me – use the Techo as a daily journal mainly because it is designed as a planner. You don’t want to break the chain and therefore use it daily.

So on January 1st I decided to write down my thoughts, actions and ideas for the day every evening before going to bed. I created the habit on top of another routine – sleeping – and that way I’ve never even once forgot to do it.1 There were some days during which I was too tired but filled in the blank pages the next morning. I even managed to note down my dreams, something I’ve always tried to achieve.

I tried several times before but I couldn’t create a routine. I tried to use different apps, Moleskine notebooks or blank pieces of paper but it just didn’t work, no matter how many reminders I set for myself. As you can guess I’m pretty happy now.

For February I decided to create two new habits at the same time. The first one is a daily meditation either every morning after drinking my coffee or every evening after writing my journal. The second habit I want to create is reading. I want to read a couple of pages per day while I’m either having lunch or during my small breaks. There are a couple of books I started but never finished and that needs to be changed.

There are other things I want to do this year. I want to wake up early, learn Japanese, eat healthy (and mostly vegan) and exercise. I haven’t quite yet decided what my schedule will look like but I’m confident that I’ll be able to do it.

So for me, 2015 is the year of habits.


  1. Is it even possible to forget to sleep? Honest question. 

Good Taste

We all face this problem. We have amazing ideas but we struggle as soon as we work on them. I’m writing online for over six years now and my execution is still lagging. But I know that my ideas are good, even great sometimes. I have good taste and one day I’ll have what it takes to execute them. They will “be as good as my ambitions”.

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