On the search for the perfect lifestyle

On the search for the perfect lifestyle

Ever thought about what would be your perfect lifestyle? I certainly have. In fact it started in my late teens when I wanted a summer job abroad. One of my high school friend’s worked a summer season in Switzerland and that seemed the ultimate dream to me. So I found a summer job in Zurich and returned for five summers while I studied in The Netherlands.

Working in Zurich created a hunger in me for exotic and foreign. Switzerland seemed to have better summer weather, the scenery was more appealing and it was foreign. A long story short, I had planted the seeds that caused me to change my lifestyle several times.

What is my perfect lifestyle

Without realising it before, I discovered that nature was important to me and so were sunny days. Growing up in The Netherlands, grey skies, drizzle and wind is part of life. I was no fan.

Jumping ahead several decades, I have moved abroad a handful of times. I have lived in Switzerland, UK, Australia and had some shorter stints in Greece and Norway. Nowadays I live in southwest France. The reasons for moving vary but work, opportunity, relationship and lifestyle choice have been some of them.

perfect lifestyle, Zurich, summer jobs,
Lake of Zurich – one of my favourite places. Picture taken by IG friend @123_just_lucy_you_see

I grew up in the Netherlands and went for summer jobs to Switzerland. I joined a man in London and with him I created a new life in Australia. 25 years later we moved to France for lifestyle purposes. And believe me, I don’t think we are not done yet!

Still searching

I feel we are still on the search for the perfect lifestyle – one that would suit us. I say ‘us’ as not everyone will have the same idea about ‘perfect’. Admittedly we are still searching but are finding more answers with every adventure we have.

Some of our recent adventures have been housesits in different countries. We have added working online, managing a holiday rental and a guardian role for a large French property . While doing such things we discovered what we like and don’t like. Above all we learned new things about ourselves.

We love France and have been here since 2017. Being Dutch, I can live in France while my British husband qualifies for residency because of being married to me. Understandably Brexit caused a little stir for the Brits that live abroad in Europe.

lifestyle choice, lifestyle matters, lifestyle criteria

Although we love France we are still looking at other options. Unfortunately, if we stay in France we cannot receive a retirement pension from Australia. Yet, we can if we move to Spain or Portugal. For some reason France and Australia have decided to cut strings when it comes to pensions.

There are a few disgruntled Aussies in France who may not have been aware of that. We knew but as it was so many years ahead we still bought a house in France and settled there. After living here for 5 years we realised that the sun is not always shining in this part of France. The winters can be quite nasty and do really not differ that much from those in Northern Europe.

Climate change seems to be for real. Many places in the South of Spain have become unbearable during the summer months. Even in France where we are, the temperatures rise to high thirties for days on end.

What we have discovered….

While doing housesits and jobs in different locations we slowly find what our perfect lifestyle should and should not have. We have discovered the aspects that are important to us. Consequently we are now researching locations in Spain and Portugal on increasingly more factors. Examples are weather, unpleasant winds, sun aspects, proximity to medical services, public transport, work and costs.

There is obviously no perfect fit for everyone and people differ in needs, likes and dislikes. However after seeing ourselves and others make mistakes, we learned a few lessons. So start with considering the following.

  • Do research and be realistic
  • Make choices based on criteria that matter to you
  • Anticipate the impact of your decisions

Last but not least, if you dream of a lifestyle change, I suggest you to do it!

Don’t be the one who says – what if and if only…

If the idea of a lifestyle change appeals to you, but you are unsure how to start, reach out and chat with me.

Maybe we chat soon!

With love

Marijke

perfect lifestyle, moving abroad, research, lifestyle change

Homemade foods: a hobby turned passion

Homemade foods: a hobby turned passion

I have always been a fan of homemade. Not only homemade foods but also clothes, home decor and much more. I even had a stint at making Christmas cards. I can remember watching a tennis final with Roger Federer while making dozens of Christmas cards for family and friends. It was enjoyable and exciting, probably because of the tennis yet I never did it again. Maybe it is because there are no more Federer finals to watch!

Homemade food have been a passion for a long time now. Whether it is for health reasons, being frugal, using the best ingredients and enjoy doing it, it has been a huge part of my life.

The collection of such foods is growing. As I love sharing good things, I have started to blog about it. Not all recipes are mine and my husband Keith is doing his fair share. He loves fermented foods and started making apple cider vinegar and sour dough bread years ago.

aple cidre vinegar, fermented foods, gut health, daily habits, homemade
Apple cider vinegar prep

In fact my daughter started a sourdough culture while we were still living in Australia and we loved making fruit and nut breads. Making your own sourdough bread is easy and fun albeit there are a few rules. Keith has perfected his starter culture and we always have the luxury of crispy fresh sourdough. He trials different flours and sometimes adds ingredients such roasted garlic, rosemary and olives.

Homemade foods on offer

We have now added fire cider, red and white sour kraut, pickles, chutneys, jams and olives to our list of homemade foods. We were so lucky to spend almost a year on a large property in the Ariège. There were plenty of fruit trees including apple, plums, mirabelle, blackberries, mulberries, figs and crab apples. Consequently the production of chutneys, pickles and jams resembled a professional kitchen.

I hope to inspire you to have a go at ‘homemade’. My perfect ‘cook up’ is singing along to my favourite tunes on a weekend day while having the kitchen to myself. Then miracles happen………..

Be inspired!

Love Marijke

homemade, homemade foods,  lifestyle, healthy
Are you ready for fire cider?

Are you ready for fire cider?

As we are heading for winter, consequently it will be time for fire cider! My previous post showed you how to make organic apple cider vinegar and that will give you the perfect base for fire cider.

So what is fire cider?

Simply said, it is a spicy concoction that combines different taste sensations in one drink. It is a combo of sour, spicy hot, pungent and sweet and it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. We take it during the winter months as a daily tonic to help fight off colds and flues.

Ingredients

fresh horse radish, onion, garlic, freshly grated turmeric, grated ginger, chillies, a sprig of rosemary, 1 cinnamon stick, apple cider vinegar, honey to taste and a large glass jar.

The list of ingredients is not set in stone and we use what we can get hold off. For instance it is hard to find fresh horse radish in Southern France where we live.

The quantities are rather flexible because it depends on how much you would like to make. Nevertheless if you want specifics feel free to let me know in the comments.

Some of the main ingredients for fire cider

Here’s how to make it

  • Chop up all ingredients in tiny pieces and no need to say – the tinier, the better.
  • Place them in the jar and cover with apple cider vinegar
  • Close the jar and shake it up!
  • Place in a cool dark place for at least 4 weeks
  • Strain so you are just left with the liquid
  • Warm up honey and flavour to taste
  • Store in the fridge or a cool cellar
Finely chopped ingredients for fire cider

How to use fire cider?

Take a shot everyday, neat or dilute with water. If you find it hard to drink it, you could use it as an ingredient in soups, marinades, sauces and dressings.

Does it work? Who knows! It is full with ingredients that are good for you. Scientifically its potential may not have a leg to stand on as scientist usually don’t spend their time on testing the efficacy of natural remedies. I am a firm believer of taking daily a large diversity of organic natural ingredients. This fire cider is a combination of such ingredients.

As a matter of fact I am not here to debate the pros and the cons of taking fire cider. Above all I am here to show those who are interested how to make it.

All things considered, let me know if you have a go!

See you next time!

Marijke

fire cider, apple cider vinegar, homemade lifestyle change
How can you meet yourself at where you are?

How can you meet yourself at where you are?

I was watching a yoga practice and the teacher mentioned the following – “meet yourself at where you are”. Immediately I asked myself “what does that mean and where would I meet myself?”

Taking this literally, the answer seems obvious. Of course I know where I am but you very likely sense that the real question addresses something more profound. Practically we know where we are – our location, our activity and our general sense of well-being. However you may have gathered that this is not my point.

How can you meet yourself at where you are, lifestyle, thought pattern

Meet yourself at where you are!

‘Meet yourself at where you are’. What does that actually mean? To be honest, all kind of things come to mind, but I found the below online.

Meaning to take note of where you’re at (what’s going on in your life, how you’re feeling, etc) and then give yourself permission to focus on what is important right now based on this.

It seems to be referring to an awareness of where you are and if that is where you want to be. Are you doing what you love and are you living the life that meets your values? Or could it be that you are still searching and feeling rather lost?

I think I am ‘somehow’ where I want to be. I enjoy living where I am and I am grateful that I can earn an income online. What I do, may not be my ‘ideal’ job although it addresses many aspects of what I am trained for and enjoy doing. The main restriction has to do with time. My work week is 9-5 for four days per week which sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Yet I am aware that I want more……

For starters I chose to work only 4 days per week because I have plenty of other things that I would like to do. Realistically I knew that working 5 days per week would zap me from most of my energy. Even with a four day work week, I don’t seem to have enough energy to add other activities. Being over 60 may have something to do with it!

What is the answer?

I am certain that many people that have a job with set times experience similar problems. Many motivational gurus tend to make us believe that all we need to do is ‘make time and commit’. Somehow that does not seem to work for me and possibly not for you either.

To recap, I am able to take note of what I value and I am so lucky to be living in a country that I chose. I have the option to work from home and have been able ‘to set up office’ in five different countries so far. It means that I can travel, do house sits or move around while still doing my job and earning an income.

Some of my favourite things to do are hands-on such as gardening, up-cycling furniture and in general being creative. When I engage in such activities, I tend to forget about time and am very much busy ‘in the moment’. This is the ‘place’ where I would like to be most of my time but I just have not entirely figured out how to make that my reality.

Not an easy one! But let me know if this rings a bell and intrigues you. I really would appreciate your thoughts!

Marijke

doubt, moments of doubt,lifestyle change, moving abroad, experience, living in a different country
Our recent change to the country seems the ultimate god sent!

Our recent change to the country seems the ultimate god sent!

After our recent change from small town to country side, I am taking assessment of the different lifestyles I have been able to explore. To be honest I was not aware that I experienced such a wonderful variety. I have lived in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, surrounded by mountains and near the beach. Climates vary from subtropical to moderate and I experienced below sea level and living at a height of 1000 meters. I know about car free mountain villages and life in big cities.

By having all these experiences I have learned what I like and don’t like. I have found out what I appreciate and don’t want to do without. Some of these discoveries have surprised me.

The lead up

As a teenager I had this feeling that I did not want to stay in The Netherlands. If you would ask me ‘why’, I could not tell you. There was this longing for adventure, the unknown and the unpredictable that appealed to me. I found it hard to commit to anything in Holland whether it was a boyfriend or a job. And looking back I never did commit.

Apart from teenage jobs to earn some pocket money, my first jobs were abroad. In fact they were in Switzerland and I ended up working 6 summers in Zürich. After graduating and facing a recession in the Netherlands, I returned to Switzerland for longer term jobs. I stayed long enough to qualify for a residence permit.

Mountains, space and nice weather – a few of my favourite things!

In Switzerland I learned that I love mountains and you may know that Holland is flat as a pancake. I also found out that nice long summers were within reach, something that Holland does not provide in abundance either. Swiss job pay well and I splashed out on some travel to the land down under. Australia taught me that I love nature, hot weather and empty spaces.

So I ended up living Down Under for 25 years. Unfortunately due to job locations not in the surroundings that I would have preferred. My husband had a city based career and as a result we lived in Sydney and in Brisbane. Nevertheless interesting and very different cities at the time.

Time for another change

After 25 years in Oz we decided to move to a small town in France. The location of the town was a practical choice as we wanted a house that had good potential to be a medium term holiday rental. It was a good choice and we also ended up living in it for a few years. Limoux is a vibrant little town with a fabulous square and a crazy carnival lasting from from January to March. At least that is how it was before Covid happened.

limoux, recent change, lifestyle choice
Limoux – its church and central square got my attention

Living in the centre of a small French town reminded me that I love nature, hate noise and what I saw from our windows was roof tops and the opposite house of the neighbours. Despite being a small town, it was surprising how noisy it could be. Then the next change came our way. During the summer of 2021, we did a housesit on a big estate in the Ariège and ended up returning to become its caretakers.

And now, I am surrounded by nature with lots of birds, deer hopping by and even the treat of meeting wild boars. We have no neighbours, the nearest supermarket is a drive away but it seems I have everything I want.

The funny thing is that I did not know I would like to live like this. This recent change came our way totally unexpectedly and I seem to have taken to it like a fish to the water. So never say no before you try, seems to be the lesson.

The forager who explores widely will find lots of useless terrain, but is also more likely to stumble across a bountiful berry patch than the person who stays home.

By James Clear
recent change, change, lifestyle change

Thank you for reading and feel free to comment!

Marijke

Don’t let feelings of doubt affect your new adventure!

Don’t let feelings of doubt affect your new adventure!

Have you ever had that feeling of doubt creeping in when you are in the middle of preparing a change? This is how I felt when my husband asked me if I realised it was just going to be the two of us for a while.

To get you up to date, we are in the process of moving to a big estate to become the new caretakers of a property. It was sold earlier this year when we were there doing a house sit. The property we will call our new home is in the Ariège with only a few small villages close by and a few bigger towns approximately 30 km away.

3-5 years of settling in

My husband’s question made me think! I have always loved starting over again, meeting new people and exploring all the new things around me. From experience and I have a fair bit, I know that it takes me 3-5 years to feel settled somewhere. It takes that long to make friends and feel comfortable. One of the things that always strikes me most is to figure out where you can find random things like a needle, pins or nails.

This new destination in Daumazin, Ariège offers nature, gardens and plenty of land but going to a café for a quick drink will be a thing of the past. To be fair, we don’t even know if the few cafes that we found in surrounding villages will be open. French villages can be fairly sleepy during the winter months.

Naturally I am a very social person. I like to be in touch with people, meet and talk to people. Social media is from that perspective a god sent. My experience is that it has helped me to connect with many likeminded people all over the world.

Social Media helped me to reconnect with old childhood friends, even a teenage boy friend and I made many new virtual friends. With some I click so well that I am sure we would be friends in person.

Moments of doubt

I suppose it is fairly normal to have these moments of doubt when change comes closer. It may help to put things in perspective. My usual approach to change is to be openminded, have no expectations and walk into it with energy and guts.

I can remember that this is how I started a new life in Sydney in 1991 and it paid off. I found a job within a week and made ‘friends’ there quite fast. Australians are in general easy going welcoming people and embrace strangers without hesitation. Many of them were once in the same situation after all – being a land of immigrants.

New opportunities

Our new lifestyle as caretakers will give us heaps of opportunities and I am aware of that.

The biggest thrill for me will be the outdoors. Stepping outside and being surrounded by nature is like a medicine for me. To put it in perspective – where I used to live the only thing I see is the house in opposite and the street is not much more than a car width.

There will be opportunities to garden, possibly start a vegetable pad. I like to eat organic and make foods such as pestos, chutneys and jams. How wonderful would it be to go shopping in your own garden?

So, after this little ‘awareness’ moment and writing it down is as always helpful, I put on my gutsy hat and steam forward to this new life with energy and zest!

When doubt creeps in!

If you are going through a change and see these moments of doubt creeping in. If you feel you need a little retune, why not reach out, tap into my experience and let’s evaluate it together.

I offer a 30 minute Free Call to get you back on track!

doubt, moments of doubt,lifestyle change, moving abroad, experience, living in a different country