Catie’s Bookshelf | October Reading

It’s Fall, which means it’s perfect book reading weather. The days get shorter, the weather gets colder and that spot on the couch is calling your name. I catch myself making lists of books I want to read, ordering them online and browsing my favorite bookstores to find that one special book. So here’s what I’ve currently read, am currently reading and want to read in the near future.

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Matched by Ally Condie
For some reason I’ve always told myself that I didn’t need to read another dystopian story. That I’d had enough of Divergent and The Maze Runner kind of books (not to say that I don’t love those). And yet, every ‘book ordering website’ that I use kept recommending this one to me. So I caved. I bought the book. And I loved it. I truly did. Yes, it’s another dystopian story. Yes it has some similarities to the books that I mentioned. But oh boy, was it a page turner. I couldn’t put it away. The bad thing is, that the the second book in this series is getting a lot of mixed reviews. Have you read it? Do you recommend it? Or should I stick to the first one?

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The Magician by Lev Grossman
Nothing can replace my love for the Harry Potter series, but I can at least give the boarding-school-fantasy-kind-of-books another go since I loved it so much when I was younger. I would describe the Magicians (with all do respect) as a grown up Harry Potter book series. Kind of. It’s interesting, it’s mysterious, it’s placed in a school setting and it’s magical. It’s a different kind of writing, a kind I’m not used to. It’s fast paced in some places and yet slow and detailed in others. I’m halfway through and not yet sure where it’s going. So far, it’s been good though!

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Is it a classic? I’m not sure, but it’s one that I’ve heard a lot about. Both good and bad. When a book is both talked about and has a unique story, I already feel the urge to read it. The Bell Jar is published in 1963 and written by Sylvia Plath. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel that deals with the struggles of mental illness. Sylvia Plath herself dealt with mental illness and died from it around the time her book was published. I’m curious to read her story and form my own opinion about it.

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What are you currently reading?

My First Experience With Dior

Woah! Stop right here! Since when do I blog about make-up? Yes, I’m just as surprised as you! But I have to, since my mom surprised me with a ‘get-your-make-up-done-by-a-make-up-artist-from-dior’ kind of afternoon! I just can’t resist sharing my excitement with you.

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I think make-up is something wonderful.. when used for the right reasons. And no, this isn’t a blogpost about what, when and how to wear make-up, because let’s be honest, to each his own. It’s about how I went from being a concealer and mascara kind of girl, to actually liking experimenting with make-up. 

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The Dior make-up professional (Nora) did my make-up with a natural and lightweight look. I usually stick with mascara, concealer, blush and if I’m really into it I might go for some eyeliner or lipstick. My main goal with make-up is enhancing my natural beauty and not trying to hide all my flaws.

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And so she tried to incorporate my ideas whilst creating something awesome. Nora convinced me to use some powder and bronzer. She also contoured my eyelids with eyeshadow and a brilliant brown colored eyeliner. I loved the effect that the make-up had on me. It still looked natural, it made me look alive and put together. The brown eyeliner is such a great idea, because I find that black eyeliner often looks to hard!

Even though I’m sure I’ll continue with no make-up kind of days, I’m also happy that I now know what to use and how to make it look natural. It’s great to have knowledge for days when you want to put a little bit more effort in your look, or want to look a little more festive or put together.

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I fell in love with the brown eyeliner (it stayed on all day without smudging) so I bought one for myself. The lovely Nora send me home with a small palette containing some eyeshadows, lipstick and lipgloss to remember the experience by. Thank you so much, Nora! 

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Products used on me:

Powder | Nude Compact 030
Cheeks | Nude Tan Light 002
Blush | 856
Eyeliner | 788 Chestnut
Eyeshadow | 541 + 096
Mascara | 090 Black
Lip Liner | Universel 
Lips | Rouge Dior Baume Milly 640

Catie’s Kitchen | Portion Control

Portion control. Oh, I know those are two words we don’t like to talk about. But, I’ve been on a healthy lifestyle change for months now and portion control turned out to be one of the most essential changes that I made. Whether you want to lose some weight, maintain your weight or (even better) incorporate healthy eating habits in to your lifestyle, this blogpost might help or remind you in some ways.

What do I mean with ‘portion control’ and why is it so important? I was eating quite healthy for a while. Loads of greens, fruits and water, but I also wanted to lose some weight and the scale wasn’t showing the changes i’d hoped for. When I took a good look at my eating habits (documenting what you eat for a couple of days might help with this) I realized that I was eating too much. The portions were too big. Not even crazy-big, but just enough to prevent me from losing the weight I wanted and feeling more balanced. Being more aware of my food portions during the day, that’s what it’s all about for me.

I’m not talking about being unhealthy, starving yourself or doing harm to your body whatsoever. The best way to eat healthy is to eat a variety of foods including loads of vegetables, fruits, nuts and drink lots of water. So how do you achieve that without starving yourself, having to count calories and without taking away the fun and pleasure of eating? I use a few simple tricks that make portion control a whole lot easier.

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1. Use a smaller plate to eat your meals from
You might eat all your meals from the same kinds of plates or bowls, or maybe your dinner plate is slightly bigger. Whatever the case is, change it up to smaller plates. I used my breakfast plates for all meals and tricked my brain in to thinking that I ate a whole plateful of food. Since the plate is smaller you can fill it up, let your brain think you’re eating a whole plateful of food, but actually eat a lot less than when you fill up a regular sized plate. Don’t cheat by filling up two plates!

2. Never eat directly from the bag
We’ve all done it. You buy that delicious bag of chips, popcorn or cookies and you open it on the couch and dive in. Without even realizing it, your hand grabs the last piece of deliciousness and the bag is empty. An easy way to prevent that and control your portion is by taking a decent sized bowl or plate and eating your food like that. Stick to the amount you’ve agreed on with yourself and put the bag with chips away.

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3. Eating with more awareness
Often when we’re enjoying ourselves by eating our meals we get caught up in eating, talking or doing other activities and forget to be more conscious about the food we’re putting into our mouths. My advice is to 1) sit down for each meal, 2) take away all or most distractions (like TV or phones) and 3) eat slowly and appreciate each thing that you’re consuming. You’ll notice that you’ll enjoy the food more and fill up quicker, which ultimately helps with portion control.

There are more things you can do when you struggle with portion control, so try to figure out what works for you. Don’t forget to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water and enjoy the experience of consuming your meals! Food is not meant to be a struggle, it’s about enjoying the experience and refueling your body!

Tony’s Chocolonely Limited Edition

Chocolate is the answer. Who cares what the question is.

This blogpost is for all you chocolate lovers out there! One of my all time favorite chocolate brands is Tony’s Chocolonely. If you’ve read my blogpost about my Toms shoe purchase, then you already know that I have a weak spot for products with a story. For brands that try to make this world a better place. Tony’s Chocolonely isn’t just the most brilliant chocolate ever, it’s also slave-free chocolate. If you’re interested in their mission; click here to go to their website.

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When I read that Tonys Chocolonely made limited edition chocolate bars, I immediately went on their website and ordered them. How exciting are these flavors? Milk chocolate with licorice, milk chocolate with banana and walnut and dark chocolate with rosemary and orange. And, typical me, I couldn’t resist buying one of their non-limited-edition ones; coffee crunch.

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What you have to know about Tony’s Chocolonely is that it’s addicting (isn’t all chocolate, though?). The whole experience of having a beautifully packaged chocolate bar in your hands, opening it to find a not-so-regular-bar inside (look at that design!) and finally topping it off with the delicious flavors. I’m not at all sponsored to say this, but oh boy is this delicious. How could I not share this with you?

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I contemplated eating all four bars in one sitting… Just kidding! I made it a familly affair and gave both my parents pieces of all of the chocolate bars. We all have very different opinions, which makes it interesting to see what we liked best. Here are the results!

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Me: 
1. Licorice
2. Coffee crunch
3. Rosemary and orange
4. Walnut and banana

Mom: 
1. Licorice
2. Coffee crunch
3. Walnut and banana
4. Rosemary and orange

Dad: 
1. Coffee crunch
2. Walnut and banana
3. Licorice, Rosemary and orange

Those are the final results! Another one of my most favorite chocolate flavors ever is the salted caramel in milk chocolate. Mmmmm! Would you ever try Tony’s Chocolonely? What do you think about their statement and mission?

TAG | My life in 21 questions

Hi guys! If you follow me on Twitter you might know that I’ve been ill for over a week now. That’s why I couldn’t post a new blogpost last Tuesday, but today I’m back! Since I’m not feeling like my normal self right now I thought it’d be fun to do something different in todays blogpost. I’ve searched all around the world wide web and found this TAG that’s called ‘my life in 21 questions’. So here’s to ‘getting to know me better‘!

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1. Are you named after anyone? Yes, I’m named after a girl from the school my dad used to work at as a teacher. He loved the name and thought it was unique.

2. When was the last time you cried? I have to admit that I’m a very sensitive and emotional person so I tear up quite easy. The last time I cried was yesterday evening when I felt really ill and overwhelmed by everything.

3. Do you have kids? Yes. Haha, no, just kidding.

4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself? That’d be awesome, it’d definitely try to!

5. Do you use sarcasm a lot? [sarcasm] Not really. [/sarcasm]

6. Will you ever bungee-jump? I’ve learned to never say no, but I’m leaning towards that answer. I’m not afraid of heights or making the jump, but it just doesn’t seem appealing to me.

7. What’s your favorite cereal? I hardly ever eat cereal (shocker, I know!) but I’d have to say Lucky Charms (even though it’s hard to get these in the Netherlands).

8. What’s the first thing you notice about people? Their facial expression. I always notice whether people look happy or sad.

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9. What is your eye colour? Grayish-blue.

10. Scary movie or happy endings? Movies with a happy ending all the way. I’d like to watch a scary movie sometime though. Any recommendations?

11. Favorite smells? Tuna, the seaside and the smell of a fire burning wood.

12. Summer or winter? I like both! I love how light and bright summer can be, but I love how cozy winter is.

13. Computer or television? Computer. I grew up (mostly) without a TV, so it has never been a big part of my life. My laptop however is. I use it all the time!

14. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home? I think that has to be Idre, Sweden. It took two days to get there and it felt like we where in a whole different kind of world; it was beautiful!

15. Do you have any special talents? I can bend my thumb backwards to my arm. Oh, that’s not what you mean? Well, let’s just pretend my flexibility is a talent!

16. Where were you born? The Netherlands, Europe.

17. What are your hobbies? Reading, blogging, baking, cooking, watching videos and movies, traveling, writing, photography, going to musea, painting.. that’s it I guess!

18. Do you have any pets? Yes, at my parents house (in the countryside) we have four cats. Ibi (female), Jacob (male), Brooklyn (female) and Tobbe (male). They are all related to each other. Ibi is the mother of the other three.

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19. Favorite movie? That’s such a hard question. I usually don’t have one favorite. A movie that really made an impact on me though is Dead Poets Society.

20. Do you have any siblings? Yes I do! I have one older brother and one older sister and I love having siblings.

21. What do you want to be when you grow up? This is going to sound so cheesy, but all I want to be is happy and healthy. As for my career, I’m excited to see where it’ll take me, but I’d love to do something creative and combine it with writing.

Twenty-one questions later and you all know a lot more about me. Did anything surprise you?

See you next week!

Utrecht | Blackbird Coffee & Vintage

Oudegracht 222, Utrecht, The Netherlands. That’s where Blackbird Coffee & Vintage is located. In a small, yet gorgeous, house along the Utrecht canals you can find this coffee shop where a combination of vintage and coffee are sold.

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The interior is unique and diverse. With beautiful bikes hung on the walls, art displayed throughout the shop and all kinds of vintage seats, chairs and couches to drink your beverage on. A lot of the interior is for sale as well.

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Both staff and customers are relaxed and friendly (as are most people in Utrecht!). Groups of friends come here to catch up, dates take place, friendships are made and all of it happens in a relaxed atmosphere and on 1960’s/1970’s chairs and couches.
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Most products are organic and/or fairtrade. Look at these wonderfully packaged chocolate bars. I could’ve taken all of them, they looked so delicious! Especially the ‘sea salt & nibs’ one in the front!

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Instead of buying all the chocolate, I sat down with two of my best friends Joyce and Rozanne on a green couch in the back of the shop and enjoyed spending time with them.

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Our drinks where made up of two coffees and my slow juice (so good!). On the menu are things like coffee, tea, juices, cakes, breakfast items, sandwiches and more. There’s something for every taste and moment of the day day.

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Blackbird Coffee & Vintage is definitely a recommendation. The location is perfect, the people are friendly, the menu is great and the place looks awesome! Tell them I said hi when you visit!

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Catie’s Kitchen: Rens Kroes Powerfood Cookbook

You should’ve seen my reaction when I held Rens Kroes’ cookbook called Powerfood in my hands at the local bookstore last week. When I flipped through the pages almost every recipe stood out to me. That’s my way of checking if a cookbook is going to work for me or not. It’s all about whether the recipes are interesting, doable and if the ingredients are relatively easy to get to. This one definitely did!

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Rens Kroes, a Dutch girl from the province Friesland, has a lot experience with healthy eating and even more passion for it. Although her cookbook is all about a healthy lifestyle, it’s in no way about diets or extreme meals. I’ve been a food lover my whole life, but I’ve been getting into eating healthy, making slow food, using fresh ingredients and even preparing vegetarian meals for the last two years or so. Rens Kroes cookbook is perfect for those of you who are just starting to eat more healthy or who have been doing so for a while. 

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What I like about the recipes is that they’re diverse. There are breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even juice recipes. Some of the recipes are vegetarian, all of them use fresh and healthy ingredients. There are easy recipes, harder ones and recipes with influences from all over the world. What makes this book even more special are the personal stories Rens has included. Her morning routine, growing up in Friesland, where the recipes are from and such are part of the book. 

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I made about five of the recipes in the last three days when I spent my weekend at my parents house in the Dutch countryside. Even here, I had no trouble finding the ingredients I needed. I had most of them in my kitchen already. 

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I can already tell that his cookbook is going to be one of my favorites! You can buy the cookbook for €19,99 online or at your local bookstore!  

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One for One | TOMS Shoes

One for One, that’s what Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS wanted to realize when he founded TOMS in 2006. TOMS is a company known for selling shoes and matching every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need. TOMS is now also selling glasses and doing other amazing work to improve children’s education, health and local economies all around the world.

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So where does that leave me? I bought a pair of shoes this past weekend at a local shoe store. Let’s rephrase that. I finally bought my own pair of TOMS shoes. Not only do I love the TOMS shoe design, I think the One for One concept it brilliant. It’s a practical and fun way to help out in a world where basic items like shoes and glasses aren’t available for everyone.

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Instead of donating to a good cause (which is also a great way to help out) you can buy yourself an awesome pair of TOMS and help out a child in need at the same time. It’s easy and it’s a win-win situation for everyone. Also, don’t you just love these shoes? I can’t believe how awesome they are!

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You’ve probably figured it out by now, but I’m extremely excited about my new shoes. If you’re interested in the One for One concept or if you’d like to buy shoes yourself, check out the website right here!

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Catie’s Kitchen: Holiday Meals Pt. 1

One of the most exciting things about going on vacation is trying out local food. In my case preparing scandinavian meals in Sweden. I took a picture of every dinner I ate whilst on vacation for two weeks. Whether you need some inspiration, you’re interested in Swedish food or you’re just nosy and curious about my eating habits.. this blogpost is just for you!

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Fresh mackerel with peper and garlic, fried onion rings, rösti and a cucumber, tomato and olive salad on the side.

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All I can say is.. mozarella sticks! We paired the mozarella sticks with some delicious potato gratin. To add some vitamins there is a salad containing cucumber, cherry tomatoes, green bell pepper, olives and some soft boiled egg.

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Sometimes all you need is an easy meal. We ate some tomato ravioli with shrimp and paprika tomato pasta sauce.

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This is de Dagens Lunch that I mentioned in my last blogpost. A typical Swedish meal with salmon, shrimp, potatoes, salad, fresh bread with butter, watermelon and a dille sauce.

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I love corn! This easy meal is made up of corn, fresh mackarel, some white beans (didn’t really like those) and some rösti.

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And finally some small baked potatos, a salad made with cucumber, yellow bell pepper, cherry tomato and dressing. A wonderful spicy sausage on the side. The red sauce that is in some pictures is a chili sauce we found in the supermarket.

That’s it! I’m not saying these are the most balanced, healthy meals, but I enjoyed each and every one of them! Part two of this series is coming your way soon!

Why Sweden is Awesome

I’m back! You probably didn’t know I was gone, because my lovely brother posted the last two blogposts I had written before I went on vacation. Nevertheless, I’m back and I have a lot of stories to share with you! The last two weeks I spent on the island Öland in Southern Sweden. My family and I rented a cottage from a friendly couple and we explored the island and area by car.

Some people are surprised when I tell them I went on vacation to Sweden. What can you do there? Isn’t it boring? There is no sun there, right? So here is a blogpost about two sunny weeks on a beautiful island, proving them wrong!

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Let’s start with me. Here I am standing in front of the limestone rocks that cover some of the coast of Öland. It’s called Byrum Raukar and the limestone is truly incredible to see. They’re up to 4 meters high and give the coast a spectacular look.

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The biggest town on the island is called Borgholm. It’s a pretty town with a harbor, quite a few shops, a beach and it’s also the place where the royal family has a summer house (Solliden). Near to Solliden you can find an enormous ‘ruin’ of a castle called Borgholm Slot. This is the courtyard inside.

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Scandinavian food. That’s one of the reasons why I love Sweden so much. What you see on the picture is called a Dagens Lunch. It’s a lunch that’s different every day of the week. For about 130 SEK we ate from a buffet and as you can see the plate is filled with potatoes, bread, salmon, shrimps, salad and lovely watermelon. Oh, and don’t forget about the dille sauce!

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The sunsets on the island were gorgeous. I took this photo at a little harbor near our cottage. The sea, sky and surrounding nature were extremely calm, relaxing and beautiful. We often walked to this harbor in the evening, stunned by its beauty every time.

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This isn’t a strange sighting when you’re in Sweden. Most of the coast is covered in rocks and people who visit often make small towers like on the photo. I’ve heard that they’re supposed to bring luck, but even though I’m not superstitious I made my own tower multiple times. Who knows, maybe it’ll give me some luck anyway!

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You might be surprised by this photo, but no this isn’t edited and yes this really is Sweden. Blue sky, clear water, white sand and a lot of sun.

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Standing on top of the lighthouse in the north of Öland, called Långe Erik, gave me this amazing view of the northern part of the island. You can see the blue water, lots of trees and the gorgeous land of Sweden!

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Our first and only trip to the mainland had as destination Kalmar. Kalmar is a big(ger) city with a great center, lots of shops and also this beautiful castle. We joined an English guided tour and learned a lot about the history of both the castle and the area.

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Sitting in a small train I spotted some deer. Here’s the best photo I took. Wildlife is everywhere in Sweden, especially on the main land.

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Just a photo of ice cream right? No it’s not! The two ice cream cones on the right are filled with Lakrits ice cream. Lakrits is an ingredient that the Swedish people love. It’s everywhere, in everything and it’s awesome. Lakrits is either the same or the ingredient for liquorice. You either love it or you hate it!

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And last but not least is a photo of the Shipwreck on the coast in the Trollskogen forest. This wreck is of the three masted schooner called Swiks and has been laying here since 1926. It’s a weird and yet beautiful sight to see. The surrounding forrest, coast and sea are also beautiful and worth visiting.

Two weeks of Sweden wasn’t enough. I definitely need to come back again and experience more of the Swedish lifestyle. Have you ever been to Scandinavia? Would you consider going after seeing these photos?