Benefits of travelling alone

Hey pixels!! As you may know, I love travelling. It’s one of my favourite activities!! Travelling has lots of benefits:  learning new stuff, discovering a new place, meeting new people, etc. Usually we tend to travel with other people; lots of people tend to think that travelling alone is boring or less exciting. Well, this is not true at all: travelling alone has its own benefits, too.

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I traveled solo to Berlin a couple of years ago, and the experience was amazing. Next month I’m travelling solo again. This is why I’m writing this post: to share with you the tips I learned during my first solo trip (21 days). I should say that it was not boring at all. I took some German classes, I met people from around the world during my classes, I did some activities, I went to museums and visit a couple of small cities near Berlin…. Now I’m going to have less time, just 7 days, but I’m planning to get the most of them.

I’ll tell you more details about my trip activities, my happy pixels. I’m planning a post series about them. This will be in a month. My destination is Andorra, just in case I had not mentioned yet…

Travelling alone: benefits 

You learn to be alone. Alone time is healthy, but we rarely appreciate it. We are always surrounded by people, noise and our daily problems. Being alone in another place is, for me, the fastest way to forget all my problems and concentrate just in enjoying my trip.

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Freedom to choose all the activities. I mean that you choose everything. The place you’re travelling, the hotel, where do you want to eat, the daily activities… Actually one of the reasons I’ve chosen Andorra is this one. I went there with 2 friends many years ago, and I had to negociate everything, because they had another idea of how the trip had to be. Now I want to repeat this trip my own way, just doing the things I really want to do.

It’s cheaper because of the previous reason. You simply can adjust your budget going to cheap places or chosing the free museum. That will mean you are saving money for your next adventure!!

It will boost your confidence. Being able to make everything it has to be done on your own is a great source of satisfaction. The experience of travelling alone will challenge your limits and ability to cope with obstacles on the way which will make you a stronger person. You’ll realize that you can do everything you want. I feel extra motivated when I come back home after a travel, always.

A photo by David Marcu. unsplash.com/photos/VfUN94cUy4o

 

You’ll apreciate better the destination. You don’t get distracted by your usual travel mates, so you can concentrate your efforts in looking what’s going on and taking pictures of it. Forget your selfie stick at home: better take pictures of a beautiful building or landscape. It does not matter if you’re not on every picture you take, and this little step will be a giant one on improving your observation skills.

You’ll have time to do more things. When I travel solo I tend to get up and start my day earlier. That’s because I don’t like to go out at night, so I have dinner and go to bed early. But this way I have more hours to make daily activities, and trust me, my happy pixels, I use all of them.

And last, but not least, there is something liberating about travelling to a place where no one knows who you are. I feel free to be myself.

Do you travel solo, my happy pixels? Are you planning a Summer trip? Please, let me know in the comments below.

Photos source: Unsplash

Meatless Monday: Eggplant canneloni

Hey pixels!! It’s Monday again. How are you starting this week? I am doing it with a yummy vegan pasta recipe! I love veggies and pasta, so when I found this recipe I knew I was going to make it. It has been yummy!!

eggplant canneloni

This has been our lunch. I ate four units and a healthy dessert. Perfect!! You can store your canneloni in a closed container and freeze them. Or store them in your fridge for 2-3 days.

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This recipe is so easy, and it’s different because no white sauce is required. Tomato sauce is used instead. I made my tomato sauce using fresh tomatos instead of using canned ones, because you know, it’s Summer and now tomatos are in season. It’s a way of eating fresh veggies.

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Ingredients (12 units):

  • 12 canneloni sheets
  • 2 large eggplants, cubed
  • 5-6 tomatos, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 leek, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry basil
  • optional: grated mozzarella/vegan mozzarella

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Cook onion in olive oil for 5-6′. Add tomatos, oregano and a pinch of salt. Cook more or less 30′.

In a second saucepan, cook leek in olive oil for 5-6′. Add garlic and cook 1′ more. Add eggplant, basil and a pinch of salt. Cook until tender, about 30′.

Preheat oven at 170ºC.

Pour 2-3 tablespoons tomato sauce on a greased baking dish. Fill the canneloni sheets with the cooked eggplant cubes. Top the filled canneloni with the rest of tomato sauce. If using, sprinke the cheese/vegan cheese on top.

Bake for about 20′. Serve warm.

Do you celebrate meatless Mondays? Do you have any special vegetarian/vegan recipe to share with us? Please, let me know in the comments below.

The Ultimate Book Tag

Hey pixels!! When I saw this tag on Ann’s blog and I thought why not do it. She nominated me for another book tag just a few days before, but since I love books and tags, I was excited to do this one, too!! I read her answers and I found them amazing, so I wanted to share my own answers. I hope you’ll enjoy them, my happy pixels!!

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My answers

DO YOU GET SICK READING IN THE CAR?

Yes! I get sick quickly if reading or playing with my smartphone. This happens also on buses, but not if going by trane, plane or ship. Weird… I really wish I could read in the car but I can’t. I want to know the logic in that.

WHICH AUTHOR’S WRITING STYLE IS COMPLETELY UNIQUE TO YOU AND WHY?

Haruki Murakami, he has a unique style. I haven’t read all his books, but I fell in love with his personal style since I read Tokyo Blues. The kind of stories he explains, the charachters, his descriptions of food and the environment… I find his books amazing!

HARRY POTTER SERIES OR THE TWILIGHT SAGA? GIVE 3 POINTS TO DEFEND YOUR ANSWER.

Harry Potter, of course.  My 3 points:

  • A deeper story: Harry Potter is full of friendship and adventures; for me Twilight is just the story of a bored girl looking for a boyfriend.
  • Better female characters: Bella is a plain charachter, she is just defined by her love for Edward. And she needs Edward to become a vampire. On the other side, Hermione is a strong and intelligent girl, and she is defined as the most incredible witch of her age.
  • Lots of amazing charachters: not just the Cullen family and Jacob, but Dumbledore, the Weasley family, Hagrid, Luna Lovegood, Sirius Black, Lupin, even professor Snape or Draco Malfoy.
DO YOU CARRY A BOOK BAG? IF SO, WHAT IS IN IT (BESIDES BOOKS)?

Usually I carry a book on my bag. More stuff: some water, my wallet, smartphone, a notebook, pencils, pen, a sharpie, tissues, my keys… It’s heavy, I know… During Winter, I add my umbrella if it rains… Wow…

DO YOU SMELL YOUR BOOKS?

Always. There is nothing better than how a book smells.

BOOKS WITH OR WITHOUT LITTLE ILLUSTRATIONS?

Little illustrations are pretty, but they are not important. I don’t mind if my book has no illustrations at all. But if the book is good and has pretty illustrations it gets even better.

WHAT BOOK DID YOU LOVE WHILE READING BUT DISCOVERED LATER IT WASN’T QUALITY WRITING?

Wow, I think I’ve enjoyed lots of books that aren’t quality writing. I don’t know, maybe to mention a saga, the Game of Thrones books… Not the best literature but nice to read them.

WHAT IS THE THINNEST BOOK ON YOUR SHELF?

Alice in Wonderland.

WHAT IS THE THICKEST BOOK ON YOUR SHELF?

Lord of the Rings, and some books of Harry Potter.

WHEN DID YOU GET INTO READING?

I think I’ve been into reading all my life. I learned how to read at 5-6 years old, and I’ve been reading since then. Just changed the kind of books: for children, teenagers and now for adults. That’s the only difference.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASSIC BOOK?

I love Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

IN SCHOOL WHAT WAS YOUR BEST SUBJECT?

History and Literature.

IF YOU WERE GIVEN A BOOK AS A PRESENT THAT YOU HAD READ BEFORE AND HATED, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I would pretend I love it, but I’m so bad pretending. This is the reason I always give a list with the books I want to read when my birthday or Christmas are coming. I make sure that I’ll receive some of the books of the list!!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WORD?

I think I don’t have a favourite one. No, wait, maybe pixel?? 😉

ARE YOU A NERD, DORK, OR DWEEB? OR ALL OF THE ABOVE?

Nerd. Just a nerd.

VAMPIRES OR FAIRIES? WHY?

Actually I’m not really into vampires or fairies… Sorry…

SHAPESHIFTERS OR ANGELS? WHY?

A difficult one. It would be nice to change my shape and become another person. But having wings and being able to fly it has to be awesome, too.

AND FINALLY: FULL ON ROMANCE BOOKS OR ACTION-PACKED WITH A FEW LOVE SCENES MIXED IN?

Action-packed with a few love scenes mixed. A book full of romance can be so boring if it’s not well written…

I tag…

I tag anyone who really wants to do this tag!!

What would your answers be for this tag? Have you done this tag before? Which ones do you agree with? Have you read any good books recently? What was the book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading,

Sílvia

Photo source: Unsplash

I Messed Up Book Tag

Hey pixels!! My friend Ann, from Ann’s Reading Corner, has nominated me!! Thank you, my happy friend! I love books and tags, so this is perfect for me! Please, visit her blog, is amazing!

I was nominated a couple of days before. But I haven’t had time to answer until now… It’s sad, I know… Sorry about that, but I hope you’ll enjoy my answers!! Thanks for reading, my happy pixels!!

book tag

The questions…

A CHARACTER APPEARANCE THAT YOU MISREAD OR IMAGINED DIFFERENTLY?

Yes, a lot of  Game of Thrones charachters. There are lots of charachters, and I couldn’t remember the description of all of them, so sometimes I simply used my imagination. Actually I haven’t seen any of the tv chapters, I just read the books…

A CHARACTER  NAME YOU’VE BEEN PRONOUNCING WRONG?

Probably lots of them. I’m Spanish, so there are lots of English names/words that I’ve just read or written but never said aloud. Not sure if I’m pronouncing them properly or not….

AN OVERUSED TROPE THAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?

I love when a bad charachter starts helping the good ones. It doesn’t matter if he get together with the good girl or not. But I find good when this happens. You know, at the beginning everyone hates him, but at the end they realize he’s a good man. Yes, I know this happens many times, but I like it.

A CLICHE CHARACTER TYPE THAT YOU LIKED BETTER SEEING ON-SCREEN THAN READING ABOUT?

The oposite than in previous questions. When one of the good characthers betrays his friends for some reason. Maybe he is being forced to do it, or not. But I find harder to read about it than to see it on the movie.

A WORD/PHRASE THAT YOU LEARNED BECAUSE OF ITS USE IN A BOOK?

Lots of words that people don’t use in daily conversations. I almost never use them, just for writing. I’ve learned that sometimes people don’t understand you if you use this kind of words.

HAVE YOU EVER NOT READ/NOT COMPLETED A READING REQUIREMENT FOR SCHOOL?

Yes, just once. I can’t remember which book was, but it was so horrible I could not finish reading it. I just read some parts:  I had to write an assignment about the book. I read all the other books, really. I had more horrible books, but I managed to finish all of them.

It’s simply  how incredible reading a good book is so different than reading a bad book for school. You simply can’t enjoy if you don’t like the story. But I read a lot of good books for shcool, too.

HAVE YOU EVER (OR HAVE WANTED TO) SKIPPED A CHAPTER FROM THE POINT OF VIEW YOU WEREN’T INTEREST IN?

Yes, but I’m afraid to do it because you can miss some important information. A boring chapter can contain lots of details and information about a main charachter or about something that’s going to happen… I just read this kind of chapters quickly…

HAVE YOU EVER CANCELLED SOCIAL PLANS TO READ A BOOK?

No. I don’t have a busy social life. I just make plans that I really want to do. But sometimes you have to go to boring places. My plan is to bring a book with me. Always.

I tag….

Books are sacred. Books are the best. I tag anyone who wants to do this tag!!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? Which answers do you agree with? What would your answers be for this tag? Have you done the tag already? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Photo source: Unsplash

Productivity: how to motivate yourself

Hey pixels!! Working at home as a freelance it’s great in so many ways: you work at home or at your favourite café, you don’t have a boss or that annoying workmate near you…. But sometimes you just don’t feel motivated to work. Don’t worry about this: it happens to the best of us…

Specially when you work at home. Because if you have to leave your home daily it’s easier to get up and to stay motivated: you have to arrive on time to your office and you can’t spend all day looking at Facebook because you don’t work alone. So, you have to get up and work. But sometimes it’s a bit harder when you’re the boss but you feel lazy…

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For this reason, today we’ll make a list of tips you can use to motivate yourself. Because you know, my happy pixels, motivation is not always easy. Just read and try your favourite ones!! Keep trying until you find the ones that work better for you!!

 

How to motivate yourself

Don’t think about it as a hard work. You’re doing what you love, not a boring office job. Remember you’ve chosen this work, it’s what you want to do. Probably if you compare it with a job that you really hate it will work. Or just thinking about your freedom: you’re in charge now. That means lots of obligations, I know, but you chose your schedule, where you work, how do you work… That’s the best, at least for me!!

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Divide every task: create small, manageable tasks and goals. A big task can be terrifying, but if you divide it into small baby steps it gets easier. For example, writing a post can be divided: looking for ideas, write the text, make the recipe, take and edit the pictures… This sounds better!! And don’t worry, you don’t have to finish a big task in one day. You can look for the recipe and make it the next day, for example.

Listen to some good music while working. This is a good one for me, music motivates me. I think it’s a great advantage of working at home: no one is going to complain about the music you love.

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Set a working schedule: a time to start and a time to quit. Let your collaborators know this schedule. Don’t work or answer work mails out of your work time. If you don’t do this, you’ll be working or thinking about work all day, every day. This is not healthy, my happy pixels, trust me.

Set break times. I rest about 10′ after 50′ work, but you can adjust this as you want. But it should be a real break: don’t look at your social media. Get up and walk a bit, if it’s a good day you can even go to the street and have a little walk. No one is going to judge you!! Actually almost anything will work. Some yoga poses, knitting…. just stop looking at your computer and thinking about the next awesome post you’re going to write or about your next awesome drawing…

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Do it today. Because this boring task will still be that boring tomorrow, and you’re going to do it soon or later. Not everything is funny when you work at home. You still have to pay taxes, bills…. Horrible but necessary things. Do them now and you’ll be able to do something better after that.

Do some exercise. Sleep 7-8 hours every night. Eat healthy (I can help with that, just have a look around here, my friends). Having a healthy daily routine will help. Take care of yourself. And don’t be afraid of taking a free day if you don’t feel well. Working when you’re ill is never a good idea.

Read a bit every night. Reading is the best: it calms you down, it helps with lack of inspiration… The reading pros are endless. I can’t live without reading. Have you started our happy reading challenge? It’s not too late…

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Give yourself some rewards. Not just for reaching your goals, but just for your hard work. I divide this rewards into: daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. You can enjoy your daily reward after finishing your daily tasks, for example. I don’t know if I’m explaining this thing right, so I’ll let you know my own rewards.

  • Daily: now I go to the beach that’s at the end of my street. On Winter it can be having a conversation with a friend.
  • Weekly: going to the cinema or to an art exhibition.
  • Monthly: a Sunday brunch or a shopping morning.
  • Yearly: a Summer trip (next month!!!)

Do you have any motivation tips to share with us, my happy pixels? How do stay motivated while blogging? Please, let me know in the comments below.

Photos source: Unsplash

Pasta & Cheese Salad

Hey pixels!! Today is a lazy Monday. Temperatures are too high and I don’t want to cook at all. But I have to eat and no one is going to make my lunch… I hate Mondays, like Garfield… A busy day after a beautiful Sunday. Oh, and today there is no tour stage, so today is getting even worse… But I don’t want to think about sad things: tomorrow I’ll be able to watch some cycling on tv!!

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This is one of my favourite Summer recipes: yummy and simple. It’s also on my Summer bucket list. Today I ate this salad at home, but it’s perfect for a beach picnic.

pasta and cheese salad

I love pasta or rice salads. And you, my happy pixels?

Ingredients (serve 2):

  • 2 cups pasta
  • 7-9 cherry tomatos, halved
  • cheese, cubed (it can be feta, gouda, blue cheese…)
  • Caesar salad dressing

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Directions:

Cook pasta; drain and set aside. Allow to cool a bit.

Mix pasta with tomatos and cheese in a bowl. Add salad dressing. Serve and eat!!

Do you eat pasta salads during Summer, my happy pixels? Do you have a special recipe for lazy Mondays? Please, let me know in the comments below.

 

Red Pepper Soup

Hey pixels!! Who said soups are just for Winter? What about a soup now? I know, my happy pixels, it’s still Summer. But a fresh soup it’s always welcome when it’s hot outsided.

red pepper soup

I don’t know how temperatures are where do you live, but here, we have about 30-34ºC each day. Too high for me, I can’t even sleep at night…. For this reason, a fresh soup or drink is always welcome. Today I’ve had this red pepper soup for lunch. Awesome. I love soups, and red peppers are one of my favourite veggies.

I just eat salads, fresh soups and ice cream… Not really, but I’m never hungry during Summer, so I’m looking for new recipes to try. Do you have one to share with us here, my happy pixels?

red pepper soup 3

 

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cubed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or broth (add 1/4 cup if you want your soup more liquid)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

Cook onion in olive oil until it begin to soften, about 5-6′. Add garlic and cook 1′. Add peppers, stock, thyme and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until peppers are tender, about 30′. Puree mixture using a blender or a food processor until smooth (if a food processor, in batches). Adjust seasonings to taste.

Soup can be served warm or chilled. Serve in soup bowls, topped with some raw olive oil.

Do you eat cold soups during Summer, my happy pixels? Or do you prefer just salads and ice cream? Please, let me know in the comments below.