100 things that make me happy

  1. Having a boyfriend that is thoughtful, listens to my complaining and still loves my sleepy face in the morning
  2. Waking up by a ray of sunshine peeking through the curtains
  3. Sleeping in freshly washed sheets
  4. Hearing the rain tickle the window
  5. Reading a book and not being able to stop
  6. Apple pie with vanilla ice cream
  7. Wearing a new pair of shoes for the first time
  8. Lighting candles and dimming the lights
  9. Seeing a shooting star

    c Chopsticksroad

  10. Sitting by the fire with friends and roasting a perfectly crisp marshmallow
  11. Children
  12. Making my grandma smile
  13. Trying new flavours of everything
  14. Celebrating my friends’ successes and steps in life and adulthood
  15. A glass of white wine on a Friday evening
  16. Arranging some freshly bought flowers
  17. Sipping my cup of tea at work first thing in the morning while going through my e-mails
  18. Getting that perfect ‘gram (@Belgenius)
  19. Learning new things
  20. Booking a trip and planning it
  21. Seeing the cats peek through our backyard window
  22. Opening a window of an advent calendar
    c Birten Pots
  23. Finding a cute note in my lunch box
  24. Putting away my winter coat
  25. Seeing the first signs of spring on the trees
  26. Spaghetti bolognese
  27. Getting an unexpected positive phone call
  28. Reading a good poem
  29. Going out for a spontaneous ice cream after work
  30. Standing up for someone on the bus or tram and getting a huge ‘thank you’
  31. Finding a song that fits my mood perfectly and playing it on repeat
  32. Karaoke in the car
  33. Catching the train by a few seconds
  34. Defrosting my hands at home after going through snowy weather
  35. Singing
  36. Getting a nice comment on one of my blog posts

    c Marisa Morea

  37. Going to a museum and (sometimes) not understanding what the hell I’m looking at
  38. Getting unexpected letters or messages from family and friends abroad
  39. Helping my family
  40. Hosting people and putting together a feast
  41. White chocolate pralines (manonkes)
  42. Doing yoga and not tumbling over
  43. The smell of freshly cut grass
  44. Having a day off to do absolutely nothing
  45. Eating breakfast on the train together
  46. Picknicks
  47. Reading the paper – makes me feel really adult and all that
  48. Buying new make-up that I’ve been dying to try
  49. Taking a bath with a gorgeous Lush bath bomb
  50. Spontaneously dancing to Norah Jones
  51. Irish music
    c Julianna Swaney
  52. Drinking cocktails on hot summer evenings
  53. Painting my toe nails metallic blue
  54. Going to the sauna
  55. Making lists (ha!)
  56. Watching a super cheesy romantic movie (I’ve seen Love Actually 10 times)
  57. Huge cacti
  58. The smell (and taste) of roasted vegetables with thyme and rosemary
  59. Buying presents for people
  60. Feeling the sand between my toes
  61. Sunsets
  62. Forest walks
  63. Learning a new language and having other people actually understand what I’m saying
  64. Wearing a perfectly matched outfit
  65. Photo albums
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  66. Feeling my skin after a face mask
  67. Watching a documentary and feeling really intelligent
  68. Illustrations that can portray a feeling in one image
  69. Seeing people being nice to other people
  70. Street musicians
  71. Finding second hand gems
  72. Spotting rainbows
  73. Dressing up for special occasions
  74. Scandinavian things
  75. Going to performances (stand-up comedy, theatre, music)
  76. Baking cake or cookies
  77. Hiking somewhere and finding it the worst and then loving it too
  78. Floors with cool motives
  79. Not watching the clock and forgetting about time
  80. The seaside
    c Vincent Mahé
  81. Palm trees – and exotic looking plants or places in general
  82. Greenhouses
  83. Visiting book shops
  84. Filling out my paper diary with my own colour coding
  85. Hedgehogs
  86. Going out for coffee on a Sunday afternoon
  87. Brussels
  88. The art deco houses in the streets
  89. Holding hands
  90. Sharing
  91. Long and floaty summer dresses
  92. Not setting an alarm
  93. Putting sunscreen on someone’s back as a smiley face
  94. Buying strawberries
  95. Sitting on a blanket in the park watching the clouds and people pass by
  96. Getting my hair cut
  97. Big windows
  98. Seeing people blow out birthday candles
  99. Hugging someone after a long time
  100. Getting the mail from the mail box

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Brussels from A to Z

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If there’s one place I had to pick when it comes to music, it’d definitely be the Ancienne Belgique. They constantly host some of my favourite bands and singers but are also not afraid to invite newcomers. Its location, right next-door to the famous and impressive Stock Exchange called De Beurs or La Bourse, is right in the city centre and on sunny days, this traffic free area is the place to see or be seen.

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As the palace for fine arts, Bozar is one of my favourite museums when it comes to modern art. They constantly switch up their collection and always have some temporary exhibitions going on. It’s where art is life and life is art.

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C  – Place Saint Catherine is the place to be on a sunny day when people flock to the restaurants and bars on the cozy square with the impressive church. This lively area also has lots of seafood restaurants.

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The so called hipster neighbourhood is the Dansaertstraat, where you can spot Dansaertvlamingen (Flemish speaking people that live in Brussels but don’t see themselves as Flemish but rather as from Brussels – let’s say it’s complicated). In any case, it’s where all the cool kids shop till they need a latte.

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In 1935 Brussels hosted the World Expo and for that, our infamous balls of steel, aka the Atomium were built. Now the Heizel still has some gigantic halls left over and to date this is still the place to be for huge events and enormous shows or exhibitions.

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Place Flagey is just one of those places that everyone knows: this oasis of space contains a mixture of cultures and architectural styles and is therefore an unexpected discovery where creative spirits meet. Yet another great place to people watch and soak up the sun.

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If you’re looking for the #1 attraction for tourists, it’s definitely the Grote Markt or Grand Place. This place is the most central in Brussels and it’s where all the historic guild houses as well as the Town hall are located. Try some chocolate on your way there in one of the many praline shops.

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H is definitely for Horta, one of the most famous art nouveau architects ever.  Lots of houses and buildings in Brussels still carry his signature and his style is what makes me look up in awe from time to time. If you’re looking for another gem of an architectural creation, check out the Sint-Hubertusgalerijen, not by Horta, but nonetheless magnificent. Especially around Christmas time, with the lights covering the ceiling.

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Brussels is basically one big international food market. You can try anything here: from Italian to Moroccan, from Lebanese to Chinese, from Japanese to Indian, from French to Scandinavian, from Turkish to Mexican: it’s all here!

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We all know Manneke Pis, right? The peeing statue that is disappointingly small (“That’s it ?!”). If you’re looking for a different approach, check out Jeanneke Pis, the lesser known female version.

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The Kruidtuin, also known as the Botanique, is one of the gardens worth a visit in the city. The garden is located right next to the famous concert hall with the same name.

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If you’re looking for a place to spoil yourself with some expensive shopping, the Louizalaan is the place to be. This super duper fancy shopping streets leads to the Gulden Vlieslaan, where some of the big shops like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Furstenberg, Gucci – to name a few – are located. A girl can dream (and window-shop), right?

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One of my favourite places is definitely the Mont des Arts or Kunstberg. Besides being the hotspot for all the cool museums, this hill offers a unique viewpoint over Brussels. The perfect place to sit on the stairs and watch the world go by until the sun sets.

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The Museum of Natural Sciences or Natuurwetenschappen Museum is just one of those museums that are cool to see. Have a browse through the stuffed animals or pretend to be a dinosaur. So many options.

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For the opera lovers out there, the place to be is the Munt or La Monnaie. Besides the opera, the Muntplein is a lively place with more often than not, lots of activities going on.

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I love a good cityscape view, which is exactly what the Poelaertplein or Place Poelaert offers. It’s located right next to the Justitiepaleis. If you look closely, you might be able to spot the word “Hollywood”. Let me know if you find it!

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As the capital of Europe, it speaks for itself that there is a Quartier Européen. It’s where the big buildings are with all the European organisations. There’s some nice places to eat or have a coffee there too!

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The main shopping street is called the Rue Neuve or Nieuwstraat. It’s where the mainstream shops are. It’s located between the Munt and Rogier.

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Another one of my favourite area is Sint Gillis, which I like to think of as Hipster Central. It’s where you can find edgy beer shops, second hand stores, cool coffee bars. It’s a nice place to hang around on a sunny day and just discover.

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My favourite green area is definitely Ter Kamerenbos or Bois de la Chambre. We drive through it often, but more enjoyable is the walking and biking. It’s quite big, but that’s what makes it so nice to venture out there: there’s always a quiet spot somewhere to soak up the green. Whether it be summer, winter, autumn or spring – it always draws me in.

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As most big cities, Brussels is also a university city, with the ULB and VUB on the edge of the city. It’s pretty cool to see how the students just blend in with the inhabitants.

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If you take the elevator at Place Poelaert, it will lead you to the Marollen, a place for strolling past the second hand shops or browse the brocante market at the Vossenplein or Place du Jeu de balle, after which you can have a beer in the sun. An afternoon well spent.

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Another day, another park – The Warandepark, or more often called plainly, the Park, is the park across the Royal Palace. It makes for a nice place for a stroll and perhaps a Liege waffle?

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It seemed impossible to find something with an X until I realised what was right in front of me (e)Xpats – okay I cheated a little bit. One of the reasons I love it here so much is hearing the different languages from all over the world and hearing about people’s experiences with Belgium as a country.

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Yzer is located in the northern part of Brussels. It’s the area with Tour& Taxis, one of the biggest sites and buildings that regularly hosts events or festivals. Besides that, there is also the Kaaitheater with innovative and surprising performances. Near the water, the Kaai, in the summer there is Brussel bad – a makeshift beach with cocktail bars and Latin-American music.

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The Zavel or Sablon is located in the heart of Brussels. It’s got a market on weekends and houses COCO donuts – the best donut place in Brussels (so far). Park Egmont offers another green oasis in the busy centre.

5 Instagram accounts that deserve a follow

1.  @accidentallywesanderson

Although Wes Anderson’s films may seem like a different reality entirely, this instagram account proves their connection to reality. It’s a collection of picture-perfect places that are from his films or look like they could have been. To me, it’s one of the most appealing and surprising travel photo accounts that are out there.

2. @helloemilie

To keep on the theme of travel, this one I discovered only a few weeks ago, but I love it so much. These photo’s seem like they were taken years ago, in a world where there’s no one but yourself, but I’m pretty sure they are a collection of very recent travel photos by Emilie.

3. @sadanimalfacts

This so called ‘sad’ account makes me laugh every time! These illustrations combine a fact on a certain type of animal with a funny illustrated caricature. What’s not to love?

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Bad news about moths. #sadanimalfacts

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4. @visitscandinavia

As a scandi-lover, I can’t leave this one out. This account posts pictures from around the whole of Scandinavia and it’s the one account that makes me ache for a road trip around the continent (and right about now, please!).

5. @charrrl_iie

The Queen of pins and brooches. A visually very appealing and uplifting instagram account that makes me want to wear brooches.