The tastiest event of the year is coming up and I have tickets to the opening night the 1/3 (it's open for the public the 2-3rd of March). Salon du Chocolat, the event that all chocolate lovers in Brussels can't miss. It will be the third year I am going, and this time I am bringing Cynthia with me, my Dutch journalist friend. It will be lots of fun! But what I am looking forward to the most isn't really the sample testing (if you go for it, make sure to only take tiny, tiny pieces, because you get filled up fast when the cocoa percentage is so high!). For me it's the fashion show that is the exciting part, where models show off outfits inspired and partly even made of chocolate.

For those of you who can't be there for the event, there are a lot of other opportunities in Brussels to taste some delicious chocolate and see how they are made. Of course, it's after all the capital of chocolate.

Here is a list of my favourites:

  • The best hot chocolate is served at Frederic Blondeel, a chocolate café at Place Saint Catherine.(Quai aux Briques 24 /B-1000 Brussels). It comes with a glass of water and two pralines. After you've tried his cup of chocolate, you never want to drink anything of less quality.  Mike & Becky is another delicious chocolate café, however it’s in Uccle, so a bit off for me.
  • For historical background, visit Choco-Story, the Museum of cocoa and chocolate. It's having an exhibition section, and in the end a chocolate-maker shows how the pralines are made. Best part: to taste one of course.
  • Praline shops in Brussels are expensive. At least if you want quality. It's like buying gold, haha. My favourite praline shops are Pierre Marcolini (the "haute couture" of chocolate brands, but they sell very fine chocolate and the small pralines are so intense that you only need a piece to get satisfied. However I never buy anything here unless it's a really special gift for someone because it would feel weird to eat up so much money!). A more reasonably priced chocolatier is Neuhaus. (Here is where I buy most of my gift boxes (and sometimes even for myself! ). I love to stand by the counter and pick and choose at their beautiful flagship shop Galerie de la Reine. Neuhaus also have an outlet just outside of Brussels. I haven't been there, but I've heard that they have good prices and lots of pralines to taste for free!
  • Finally, there are some workshops where you can make your own chocolate. Either in groups or individually. I have never done it (but would love to try) but the one I have heard good things about is Zaabär.

Move your blog to Nouw - now you can import your old blog - Click here

Likes

Comments

The world needs more love, not less, right? So let’s celebrate it extra much this day! Spread love, joy and happiness around yourself and your beloved ones. Make sure they know they are deeply loved.

How we’re celebrating? Apart from having received the most beautiful card ever and a red rose (what I have is a secret), we’re off on a road trip for a long weekend trip to Northern Germany tomorrow. Back to the roots of my Lieblingsmensch’s dad’s side. It’ll be cold and exciting. I’ll write you more later!

Likes

Comments

The greatest wealth is health. At the moment nearly everyone around me is sick. The gym has gone from being packed of enthusiastic people with new year resolutions to stick to, to being half empty with just the committed all year round people and we're heavily decimated in my office as well. Even my Lieblingsmensch is sick. Luckily I have so far this winter managed to escaped from getting infected, and I am really appreciating every day that I wake up and feel healthy.

Maybe it's because of the fact that I only sport indoors and have put the outdoor runs on ice (literally) until it gets around 10 degrees out there. Because no matter how much I crave a nice run in the sunshine in a green and nice ambience, it's way too cold. Previous winters I have ended up getting a sore throat and running nose and a few days in bed. So sticking to indoor workouts it is a winner for now. But I don't mean hibernating at home. Staying active during winter, instead of snuggling up in the couch is a key contributor to a healthy immune system. It can include everything from gym to strolls in the park.

Talking about sweating, I always have a water bottle and tea cup on my desk at work to ensure that I don't get dehydrated throughout the day. It's so easy to forget that water make up around 60 percent of my body weight, so keeping it in balance is crucial for a immune system fit for fight.

Next to drinking enough, I'm trying to see every meal and an opportunity to promote my health. Which is why I'm going crazy on fruits, vegetables, ginger (and vitamin tablets). Apart from the fibres they provide, I want my body to benefit from the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals they contain. After all, health is the relationship between me and my body.

Sleeping enough hours helps strengthening our immune systems massively. I'm getting myself into the routine of getting ready for bed around 10.30 pm, then reading a bit(a book, not on my phone iPad) and then sleeping until the clock rings at 7.30 the next day. I am always sleepy in the winter mornings anyhow, but I can tell that getting my 7-8 hours of sleep really has a positive effect on my health and well-being.

Something I would love to do to toughen up my immune system is to travel south. And I don't mean to Strasbourg where I need to go every month, but REALLY SOUTH. To Spain or Italy or Morocco for a long weekend, or even better to the Caribbean islands or South East Asia for a proper tropical vitamin D and energy injection to kill the winter blues. Unfortunately I won't manage to squeeze in any of those destinations this spring, so I hope that New York will provide me with some extra degrees for Easter. And that we will have real spring arriving in Brussels in a few weeks.

What are your tricks for staying healthy this winter?

Likes

Comments

This picture was taken just as we got the keys to our house in August. Ah, how summery I was then! (Please summer, could you come soon!!!).

Happiness doesn't come automatically as soon as we think we have it all. Sometimes we're expected to be super women who are supposed to juggle a full time job while having a well-organised and tidy home and always having inspiring, healthy cooked meals on the plate. Recognizing my (and my Lieblingsmensch's) limits and being realistic, one of my vetos when we moved into the house (of 4,5 floors) was to immediately take in a cleaning lady. She's here for four hours each Monday, and I just love to come home to a perfectly cleaned home. It does something to my psyche.

I am also this typical (Swedish) woman who insists on sharing the responsibility of the rest of the house chores. We always walk over to the supermarket together, we share the cooking, laundry and daily maintenance more or less equally automatically. That is good. Because, you can not do it all and expect to have some free time and time for each other.

My goal with this upcoming weekend however is to go through the drawers of my make up table, re-sorting and -structuring things, as well as the attic and laundry room. I like to "hide" as much as possible in drawers and shelves, leaving only a few nice things in the "showrooms", (my boyfriend is a bit the opposite, he likes to see everything, but he's slowly adapting) as well as making sure that the things match with each other, that there is a red line in the room and home. .

Because when my surroundings are in harmony, I am the same. And things we don't really need any longer are automatically thrown in the bin. It's such a relief to get rid of things sometimes! Our homes are living space, not storage space, right?

Likes

Comments

Yep. It’s Stressburg time again. While it’s a lovely town I hardly get to see much of it, since I’m locked in for looong sessions in the European Parliament over there.

But to cheer myself up I’m posting these awesome quotes that I saw in a shop in Antwerp this weekend. I love positive messages!

The lead of this week: follow your dreams and always be awesome!!

Likes

Comments

​Lemon water is my favourite beverage in summer, but tea is really a lifesaver in winter, particularly in cold, raw days like today in Brussels.

While I've never been a fan of coffee, I drink a lot of tea. It's this wonderful, delicious and healthy drink that keeps me warm and hydrated this grey February day. But not the traditional "Lipton-tea" as I call it, you know the black Old English, breakfast or artificially flavoured teas, or even the red rooibos or green teas. They feel too strong in caffeine and I just get a headache afterwards. Fortunately, with tea being the second most consumed beverage in the world, there is a lot of choice.

I have all sorts of tea in our cupboard, and I always opt for high quality. My favourites being herbal teas from dried fruits, flowers, spices or herbs, like nettle or peppermint tea, or cinnamon tea, licorice tea or even chocolate tea (if you haven't tried the later, you need to! It's like drinking hot chocolate but without the calories). My favourite tea for the moment is however fresh ginger, fresh peppermint leaves and some slices of lemon with half a teaspoon of organic honey. Quick, fresh and easy to put together. Or something completely different - matcha tea. The antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that these delicous beverages contain are unbeatable and help optimizing the digestive system, detoxifying the body, and stimulating cognitive function.

The only down part? The more frequent toilet visits ;-)

On a different note - a woman is like a tea bag, you never now how strong she is until you put her in hot water!

Likes

Comments

The EU bubble has a lot of advantages, one of them is the international atmosphere and the easiness of making new friends. Many of my friends live in Brussels, but a lot of them also live abroad. Like Tiia (to the left) and Niina (to the right) that I had the pleasure of having over for brunch yesterday. They are both from Finland, but Tiia speaks Swedish and livies in Stockholm nowadays and Niina speaks Finnish (the country has the two languages as it's official ones) and lives in Helsinki. So having them both in Brussels at the same time, was of course a moment to capture.

At my 30th birthday party I had friends from 15 countries participating. Italy, Hungary, France, The United Kingdom, Finland, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Sweden of course... Having friends from different countries is one of the most enriching things I've ever experienced. I mean, growing up in a middle sized town of Borås in Sweden there was a limited number of nationalities and different-minded people to meet. And while it was a great place to grow up in (being safe, having good education, being close to nature, having possibilities of joining a music school and signing up to sports club without the tough competition and stressful environments of big cities and sports and being close to the airport) the share of the world it can offer is small. Even Stockholm, is too narrow for a real international experience. So while having gotten the best fundamental for a enriching life, going abroad was a must for me.

Brussels on the other hand is a perfect platform for meeting the rest of the world without having to travel. With the head quarters of the EU institutions and Nato the city is hosting expats from all over. And the best thing - they are all moving into the city from abroad, which somehow puts everyone in the same situation, making us more open to meet new people. Some move back home again, like Niina. But it’s not an issue, there are so many ways to keep in touch through social media, and we still arrange so we get to meet on a regular basis anyway, in Brussels, Helsinki or somewhere else..

And it's this diversity of people, backgrounds, cultures, opinions and different views on the world that is so enriching. Encountering this "united in diversity" bubble has definitely changed the way I think and the way I am as a person - the the better.

Because having friends from other countries means some of differences. Cultural, norms, ethics. With that comes respect. Respecting each other’s differences and learning from it, seeing the diversity as a positive thing. And that’s probably why I feel way more at home in the EU bubble of Brussels, than in Sweden. Because people here are way more open-minded and seeing my multi-national/cultural background as something valuable instead of trying to make me mainstream or excluding me because I’m not fitting into their pan. And also, with everyone being different I’m not automatically considered the exotic flower in the Swedish woods. That said, my very closest friends are Swedish and still living over there.

No matter if it’s friends living in Brussels or abroad, the most beautiful discovery true friends can make is that we can grow separately without growing apart.

Likes

Comments

It’s an incredibly busy day with media spins on the abolishment of summertime, Brexit-talks, a call for tenders, discussion on whether to have transnational lists for the next elections to the European Parliament, an interview on the rule of law in Poland and a new trainee to introduce to all the novelties that a job in parliament offers (including super slow computers).

But in the middle of all this we discovered that half of Team WIKSTRÖM, me, Cecilia herself and Daniel, were all perfectly colour matched. The three little Smurfs. Definitely worth a picture!

Likes

Comments

This week went super fast! And soon it’s already February! I can’t believe it was soon a month ago we were in Berlin visiting Nefertiti (and my Lieblingsmensch’s family). Does the time go faster in 2018 or what?

It’s finally weekend anyhow, and I have quite some fun plans! Tomorrow I’m having friends coming over for a cosy and calm brunch. They live in Sweden and Finland but are in town this weekend, so it’ll be great to catch up for some girl talk and to show them our little castle.

It’s always fun to have people over, or to visit others at their homes. Because the truth is, our homes tell the story of who we are and are a collection of what we live. In most cases, at least.

The rest of the weekend will be as calm. I’m fed up with our drinking glasses, I don’t know why but they lost their colour in the dish washer (which wasn’t the case at my old place) and now they look totally ugly. My Lieblingsmensch doesn’t care, but I do. Even if it’s “everyday glasses” I love to have nice ones. It enhances life, doesn’t it? So I’m going glass hunting.

Then I’m of course going to the gym for my weekend workouts. Tomorrow it’ll be my own routine of cross training, rowing and some free weightlifting. On Sunday it’s bodyvive (try it, it’s super fun) and a core class (needed to strengthen your back and abs if having an office job).

And for the rest? I don’t know. There’s lots of openings for some socialising, reading, strolls and walks in the park.

What are your plans? Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Likes

Comments

The grey months are always a struggle for me, and at the moment I'm particularly struggling to hit the gym after work. It's partly about finding time for it (some days I am just working too long, or have social activities in the evening), it's honestly more about being motivated enough to go. I am just lacking the energy and inspiration that is usually there in the green months, where I can combine indoor sporting with outdoor sporting and get a lot of solar energy.

I very rarely force myself to go gymming, because I have realized that it's just a waste of time to "try" to sport, when I am not really in the mood for it. Then it's better to rest and save the energy for another day.

But there are a few tricks that I am using to make sure that I go at least one or two times after work even in the dark, grey months that I want to share with you:

  • Scheduling the workouts: At the beginning of the week I look into my calendar and try to figure out when I actually can schedule my workouts. Sometimes I manage to run over to the gym during my lunch break, more often it's on Thursdays and Fridays after work, when it's normally calmer in the office. By planning ahead I can also take into account if I'm gone for the weekend , because then I need to make sure to compensate during the week.

And by having the classes noted in my calendar, it's easier to actually get going. You don't want to miss an "appointment", right?

  • Bringing my gym bag to work: I normally bring my gym bag to work, pre-packed the evening before, even for the days when I haven't really planned to go gymming. Because I never know how I feel, and the spontaneous sessions are the best. It would be a pity to miss out just because I don't have the right equipment with me.

  • Refueling before workout: I try to have yoghurt and some müesli in the office, plus fruits. Because it's impossible to workout without energy and having to go home for dinner first, or even to the supermarket would just be extra hurdles in reaching the gym. (Read here on how to best refuel after working out)

  • Follow inspiring gymmers on Instagram: I do follow a few friends on instagram that are very inspiring. One is a devoted runner and the other one is more about stretching. And then I follow hannabower2, whom I don't know, but she has lots of inspiring videos on different strength sets to do (having a variation workouts is key).

  • Just do it! Missing a day or even three at the gym is not wanted, but it must be ok. Instead of focusing on the times I miss out, I focus on the ones I can do. And in the end I have noticed, that having this mind-set and not getting stressed about what I "should had done", makes me feel better (less negative energy and stress). As long as I don't give up altogether of course. Because the only way to keep stay in shape, happy and full of energy is to just keep going there.

  • Ending with: Sometimes a bad day can be made much better by going to the gym. Sporting releases a lot of endorphins, the happy fitness drugs that you can just never have too much of in any case.

Ok, so now I'm actually off for a spinning class, see you!

Likes

Comments