Aliciouslife: Energy vampires

Who doesn’t know them? That one colleague or friend who is constantly complaining? The one who always responds to a polite “How are you?” with lamentations, is resistant to all offers of help as well as suggestions for improvement and who, like a broken record, goes on about how unfair life is, how terrible person X behaved towards them and how generally everyone seems to be out to get them?

I call them energy vampires – and do my best to avoid them at all costs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from being one of those happy-go-lucky personae myself. It does take a lot of willpower and vigor to be the always diplomatic colleague who offers constructive feedback and will always help out whomever asks for support. Some days, I don’t feel like being friendly at all.

But then, it won’t help anyone if I’m not. My work will neither be different nor less if I approach it with an unhappy attitude – and the results, as well as my work mates, will suffer from it. Also, it’s a vicious cycle of what goes around comes around – if I’m grumpy, with a deep frown all day, people will react differently than if I’m putting on a relaxed face (even when it really is an act of “putting on”).

Needless to say, in my private life, I find it a lot easier to avoid contact with those types of persons than in my job. Even though I don’t work in an open office (yet) we still share offices. Due to my job as an executive assistant there are constantly people coming in and out of the room or calling or emailing and not all of them will display a work ethic or general attitude that meets my standards of communication and general behaviour.

That’s mostly ok since troubleshooting is (not an official but still) part of my job description. What’s not ok, is when people come in only to dump their emotional crap – excuse my language, but this gets me really worked up – at my desk so they will feel better about it, then turn around and leave.

There is still ample room for improvement in my life – and yes, this partly is a situation-induced rant, but I really want you to be aware of energy vampires. Especially those of you who – like myself – see it as one of their primary responsibilities to help (be that in your job or your private life – or both) and “play well with others”. Don’t bleed yourself out by trying to fix what cannot or simply doesn’t want to be fixed! Be strict about your time and how and with whom you spend it.
Be firm.
Be selfish if you must.

You don’t have to impolitely snub anyone. However, it is your right to stand your ground and let others – be it peers or supervisors* – know respectfully that you are not available as a waste basket, thankyouverymuch.

Thus said, keep smiling :)  It confuses people. No, seriously, putting on a happy face, even and especially when you don’t feel like it, will help set your brain to happy mode and gradually improve your mood. Don’t believe me? Just try it!

If all else fails and you desperately need motivation, try Mary Poppins

Are you aware of any of those “energy vampires” in your life? How do you deal with them? I will much appreciate if you could share your experience and insight in the comments below.


*I am fully aware how tricky and/ or uncomfortable these types of conversations can be especially with people you have to work with, and especially when they are “above” you hierarchically. I’ve been there multiple times. But let me state that more often than not, if you approach people with openness and without reproach, it will pay off. At least temporarily.


Aliciouslyvegan: Rosemary garlic focaccia

Having not yet mastered the art of baking bread (simply by never trying more than the occasional damper) I still felt like adding something homemade to our brunch table the other week that looked kind of fancy. Italian food is always fancy, or so I thought, and ended up with this easy focaccia recipe which turned out extremely well (and a little fancy):


  • 1 packet (7g) dry yeast
  • 450ml warm water
  • 450g flour
  • olive oil
  • rosemary (dried or fresh)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (or more)
  • salt
  • coarse (sea) salt


In a medium-sized bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes to proof it: it will start to foam up. If it doesn’t, start over with a new packet of yeast.

In another bowl combine flour and approximately two tablespoons of salt. Add the yeast mixture and two tablespoons of the olive oil. Mix for approximately one minute, by which time the dough should be a most ball that isn’t overly sticky.

Cover the dough in the bowl with a tea towel and put it in a warm place to rise. If you like, you can coat it with one tablespoon of olive oil before.

After an hour the dough should have doubled in size.
Now coat a big-enough baking pan with olive oil and place the dough in the pan. Use your fingers to make sure it covers the whole bottom of the pan.

Cover it and let it sit for another good half hour.
In the meantime, cut the garlic and – if necessary – the rosemary, then pre-heat the oven to 200°C

Spread rosemary and garlic evenly on the focaccia. Drizzle yet more olive oil over the bread and sprinkle it with coarse salt.

Bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

This rosemary garlic focaccia is best eaten when still warm and makes a perfect meal by itself. I like to make it when we have people over because I love sharing homemade bread by everyone simply breaking off pieces.

I find this to be a thoroughly versatile recipe which you can easily adapt to your taste by adding olives or sun-dried tomatoes, omitting the garlic or using different herbs (such as thyme or oregano).







Alicioustravels: How the bug was planted

I feel very fortunate that travelling has always been a part of my life. When I was as young as 3 years old, my parents would pack me (and a lot of other stuff) into the family car and drive to Northern Italy, where I could play in the sand for a week, get sunburned (which was not such a big issue in the mid-80ies) and lose the upper part of my left thumb when I didn’t listen to Mum (which – if only this time – I really should have). Continue reading

…because life is awesome