Halloween! and a little less to worry about

Happy Halloween!

IMG_20141024_144743[1]

This is something I have never gotten into as we just don’t celebrate it in NZ, and too be honest I never saw much of the appeal when we came to Korea. However as this is my last ‘real’ Halloween before heading home I am making more of an effort. Work today involves parties and games with all of the kindy kids (how many Elsa’s do you think there will be?) and tonight I am dressing as Cindi Lauper before attending an actual party downtown.

Because girls just wanna have fun, and I heart the 80s.

80s

(my friend used me as her 80s model when she studied makeup design. Lots of fun but a model I am not- check out the bags under my eyes!)

Things are getting a little less stressful after my rant the other day. I have booked in to have my passport notoirzed, but am waiting until after Halloween to ask for the day off as work is too busy right now. I also woke up today and found my reference filled out and sitting in my email folder, at last!! I may actually be able to do this thing ūüôā

happy faces on!

happy faces on!

After a meeting for DTTG the other night I am feeling much better about organizing the Christmas drive and speed dating. Other then getting people to attend the dating it is all pretty straightforward and I get most of the work done this weekend. Things are looking much better.

So a crazy week, and I am sure today will be even crazier. I am already due to crash after waking up and completing two T25 workouts, yes two! Friday’s are scheduled for the double workout and rather then splitting them before and after work like I usually do, getting them done in the morning means I have much more time to get my costume ready this evening. Right now I am feeling the post-exercise glow, let’s hope it lasts. After the workouts (rip it up circuit and speed 2.0 which were¬†both cardio heavy) I was¬†incredibly hungry, funny that.

IMG_20141031_083223[1]

Post workout breakfast of oats, apple, almond butter, cacao nibs and coffee Рyum!

Let’s get this day going!

IMG_0995

Advertisements

Stop and Breath

Happy hump day! Can I just be the millionth person to comment on the fact that

1) it’s cold

and

2) it’s nearly November – how did that happen?

The end of the year is an incredibly stressful time for me at the moment. I am going home in March to no job, place to live and a wedding to plan in May. There is a lot to think about and it has been on my mind for a majority of the year, only I have always been able to push it aside and tell myself there is plenty of time. Now there isn’t so much.

DSC00433

My plan is to enroll for a Masters of Information Studies which I can do part-time while working. Once I graduate I will be able to work in a library which is the ultimate dream of mind (books all day and shushing people, yes please!) But this whole process has been, quite frankly, a nightmare. In order to apply I need a notarized copy of my passport which of course I can’t get done as I have my passport with me in Korea. It can be done at the NZ embassy but this isn’t open on weekends and my work hours mean that I would need to take a day off to head up there and get it done. Sounds simple enough but Korea and having time-off don’t really go together. The idea is that you work every damn day, regardless of health or needing to have stuff like this done. I have been at this job for 20 months and not once had a day off for sickness or anything else.

kindergarten

So today I am working up the courage to ask my manager for a whole day vacation so I can pay a crap-ton of money to go to Seoul and get this done. I also need to find two references which should be easy but my old University supervisor is doing a disappearing act and wont reply to my emails or phone calls. I really wish I was in NZ so I could go to her office and wait inside till she shows her face. Everything is due at the start of Jan so I am giving myself until mid-December to have it posted overseas. Plenty of time right?

logo

In the midst of this I have a ton of fundraising to organize for Daegu’s Time to Give. I think I’ve mentioned that this is a charity which supports the orphanages in Daegu that I help to run. There is a huge Christmas gift drive throughout December and we are hosting a speed-dating fundraiser in two weeks which is just a pain to plan. It’s taking up a lot of time along with wedding stuff like having suits made and trying to organize flowers from afar. The of course there is my actual 10-6 job which is super busy at the moment with reports and lesson plans.

Still with me? I apologize for the rant, just needed to get these things off my chest. I’m going to make a list and remind myself to stop and breath. My time in Korea is ending soon, I need to try and enjoy it.

IMG_20140503_184922[1]

And knowing that it is closer to the weekend when I can take a moment to sit down with a mojito is helping.

Pumpkin Lentil Dahl for cold winter nights

When the nights are cold and dark there are few things better to stay at home with then a hot bowl of delicious eats. This pumpkin and lentil dahl is stick-to-your-ribs comforting, healthy and vegan! Full of cold-fighting foods such as ginger and turmeric, it has melt-in-your mouth pumpkin and a kick of spicy lentils. This will be keeping me warm many nights this winter.

DSC00657[1]

This morning has been one of the first that I truly felt the sting of autumn. I know most people love the change of season but I am really not looking forward to it. Winter this year will be followed by my return home to NZ, just in time for the beginning of autumn there. I am trying to soak up the last of the summer sun as it wont be in my sights until next October (oh god). After waking up to a chilly apartment, I decided to go for a walk and embrace my denial that autumn is here.

IMG_20141026_110105[1]

Unfortunately the trees tell a different story.

IMG_1029[1]

After returning home and finished off the wedding invitations, I began my meal prep for the week. Lately I have been in a cooking rut (when am I not) where most of our meals revolve around chili or my tofu bowl. I have a skill in presenting chili beans in different ways so that it appears like a whole new dish.  Think burritos, tacos, a bowl of chili or even a spud stuffed with leftover beans. Now seems like as good as time as any to set myself a personal goal to create something new every week. Today I set upon a pumpkin lentil dahl, because pumpkin is the saving grave of autumn!

Ingredients

– 2TB oil

– 1 chopped onion

– 1 cup chipped pumpkin

– 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (or a can of crushed)

– 2 cloves of crushed garlic

– 2 tsp chili flakes

– a 3cm wedge of freshly grated ginger

– 2 tsp cumin

– 1/2 tsp turmeric

– 1 cup of cooked lentils

Steps

РHeat the pan with oil and sauté the onion and pumpkin until golden brown.

– Add tomatoes, spices, garlic and cook for a further 4 minutes.

РPour over lentils and a little water to help the mixture cook down. Dahl should be thick so  simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

– Serve with yoghurt and crunchy naan for a dinner perfect on a chilly night!

DSC00656[1]

That’s one new dish to add to my¬†repertoire – and it doesn’t even involve chili beans!

Wedding Happenings

Hey there, happy Saturday! I have had an extremely lazy Saturday, the kind where you are really unsure how it is nearly over because so little got done. But maybe that’s a good change once in a while.

Last night I ended up going downtown for a beer with a couple of friends, it wasn’t a big night but I had a great time. As an introvert, I am terrible at passing on invites to go out and I always ending up regretting it. For once, I managed to drag myself out of the house and to a bar to interact with other humans¬†and it was so worth it! I forget how much I miss having other girls around me just to talk crap with and unwind after a long week. I only had one beer, but was up late and it was hard to drag myself out of bed this morning for my Saturday workout.

IMG_20140407_193314[1]

After getting in some ab work (Shaun T25 dynamic abs, mother of god), I decided to do some wedding jobs and finally got around to printing off our invitations. We found a template for some really lovely vinyl-style invites online and as my fiancé is a DJ and I grew up in a big vinyl house they were too perfect not to pass on. But as usual, things that are a good idea in theory never seem to work out too well. Changing the font and sizing of the words on the template was incredibly difficult and time consuming, then the printer decided to pack a tanty. The whole process took so much longer then it should and had me realizing that this why people pay someone to make their invites for them. After a long afternoon we finally got there.

I think they look awesome!

DSC00654

This is a rough idea of the final product as we have finished all the envelopes but are still working on the inside ‘record’. Up close they look like this,

DSC00652

and how fun is the back!

DSC00653

Our wedding colors are coral and navy so this was the best I could do to fit these. I cannot wait to send them out and am feeling happy that I finally crossed these off my list ūüėÄ

After this chaos we headed out for dinner of Mexican food and mojitos – the best way to end a Saturday!

IMG_20140503_184922[1]

It was delicious but I was feeling the cold and headed home to bed where it is warm and I can watch season 5 on Downton Abbey all night long.

I may even get crazy and make myself a cup of tea.

DSC00644

Have a lovely evening.

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Tea

As it has gotten colder, I have been tea crazy

DSC00644

It isn’t just the taste of tea that I have been enjoying, but the act of brewing a cup and sitting down to enjoy it. I have found myself taking more notice of what is in each cup¬† and how each drink can benefit my body.

IMG_20141021_110356[1]

Part of this has been paying attention to how long you should brew tea for and the effects this can have on the taste. It’s something that I have never thought about before, and I am ashamed to admit that I used to just leave the tea bag in the cup with the mindset that it would continue to seep and make the taste better. But I have been so wrong!

After doing a little reading on the Twining’s website,¬† my tea making efforts are now like a science. The temperature of the water, cup, pot and length of time the bag seeps all effect the taste of the cup. I have to say that these things really do seem to make a difference in the flavors of the tea and I am enjoying each cup so much more after following these rules.

DSC00643

First up, the water should be right from a cold tap and tea likes oxygen and this will help the flavor develop. When boiling and waiting for the tea to soak, pay attention to the type of tea you are drinking as the leaves react differently. The general rules are:

Green Tea 2-3 minutes, water just under a boil.

Black Teas 3 – 5 minutes, fully boiled water.

Herbal Teas 4 -6 minutes, fully boiled water.

Once the time is up, remove the tea bag as leaving it in for too long can make the tea taste bitter and strengthens the tannings, giving then a stronger chance of staining your teeth. I always squeeze my tea bag which is a hot argument in my half English family. I can’t find anything online about this effecting the taste or quality of the tea, so will leave it up to personal preference.

Add milk or sweetener if desired, and enjoy.

DSC00651

Can’t have black tea without a biscuit! Especially if the ta is pumpkin spice and the biscuit is a gingernut.

DSC00650

Here’s to some happy tea drinking!

New Food Finds

You know what sucks? Being so sure that tomorrow is Friday that you spend lay out everything for that days classes before leaving work, only to realize once you get home that there is still Thursday to get through. What a dork. The worst part is that when I go into work today I will have to pack it all away again and feel that disappointment one more time. At least tomorrow is the end of the week for real!

I have discovered a few new products lately and wanted to share my current favorites. Starting with the newest additions to morning oats.

IMG_20141023_092322[1]

I usually¬†make a batch of oats the night before and flavor it with either pumpkin spice seasoning which is a totally new thing to me, we just don’t get into the pumpkin thing in NZ. Then I don’t have to mess around in the morning cooking and doing things that require the concentration that I just don’t have that early.¬†I am weird and love cold oats so will just eat these with a side of fruit and my coffee.

IMG_20141022_123630[1]

I also add¬†few sprinkles of cacao nibs which are my current obsession. You know you have a chocolate problem when you’re eating pure cacao beans! These are one of natures super foods and have iron and antioxidants which make¬†them a completely acceptable breakfast addition.

Once I get to work I am all about the tea. My order form iHerb came in on Tuesday and I may have gone a little overboard.

IMG_20141021_110356[1]

Scratch that, there is no overboard when it comes to tea! All of these flavors are amazing but I am particularly loving the Bengal Spice. It’s like a warm cup of vanilla, caramel and cinnamon. The day it arrived I drunk about three cups during the afternoon. My current ritual is to¬†make a cup on my 11am break and unwinding after the craziness of mornings at a kindergarten.

And for a night-time snack I am all about these cocoanut milk ice-creams.

IMG_20141020_082511[1]

I was lucky enough to stumble across one at the 7/11 a few weeks ago and have been hunting them out ever since. On Sunday I found a supply at the local supermarket and bought out a crap-load. These are just divine! It’s pure cocoanut creaminess with lots of good fats¬†and much less sugar then normal ice-creams.¬†Who cares if it’s getting colder outside, ice-cream is year round.

They’re my tasty new finds of late, what have you been snacking on?

The best Tofu Soba Noodles with almond butter sauce

I am a creature of habit when it comes to food. It is very easy for me to find a dish that I like and just stick with it. The benefit of this is that I end up perfecting the ingredients and creating something damn fantastic. This is one of those dishes.

DSC00641[1]

Tofu, soba noodles and almond butter are up there with my favorite things. Is there anything better then crispy baked tofu that crunches in your mouth and has a perfectly nutty, yet spicy, taste?

Don’t be put off by the seemingly long list, this is actually very simple and quick to make. It has become my go-to¬†dinner when I want something delicious that wont disappoint. Not to mention it’s healthy.

DSC00638[1]

Ingredients

– 3 TB nut butter of your choice (I go with almond)

– 2 TB soy sauce

– 1 tsp of powdered ginger

– 1 TB brown rice syrup

– 1/2 cup of water

– squirt of sirarcha, depending on how spicy you like it.

– 1 block of extra firm tofu drained.

– 1 packet of soba noodles.

– various veggies, anything works here but thinly cut carrot, cucumber or cabbage work well.

The How To

– cook soba noodles, leave to drain and cool.

– cut veggies and mix into noodles, set aside.

– in a pan mix the first six ingredients and gently heat. Stir so everything dissolves and leave on a low heat to ensure everything thickens and melts together.

– Pour half of the sauce over¬† the noodles and vegetables, mix everything together. Pour the other half over the tofu and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until everything is crispy and brown. Ideally, you should marinate the tofu in the sauce by leaving it overnight then baking the next day. But we don’t always have time for that.

Top noodle mix with the tofu and garnish with cashews if you want to get fancy. Eat!

This meal can be served hot or cold – totally your choice! It’s yummy, filling and full of great fats, protein and goodies. Here’s to good food!

Weekend Things

Hey there and a happy Monday to you!

I know, there isn’t really such thing as a happy Monday, but let’s keep pretending it’s not that bad. My weekend was productive which is always plus. With moving home soon and the wedding looming closer I have a never-ending to do list which frightens me every time I catch a glimpse. Thankfully I got a few things done over the past two days, they are small but better then nothing right.

IMG_20141019_124547[1]

Saturday was full of grocery shopping and cleaning (party) before heading downtown to get rid of a giant pile of books I have accumulated here. Each time I step into the spare room and see them sitting there I think to myself, ‘this weekend I will take them downtown,’ but I always manage to forget.¬† They are now finally gone and have left a nice space on the bookshelf, the only downside is that the used bookstore I took them too gave me store credit in return. That means more books to be purchased!

IMG_20140615_150821[1]

While downtown I had a much needed coffee and picked up a few things to wear this fall.¬†The weather is cold and the time to hang up my summer dresses has finally come. Breaks my heart. I also managed to pick up a dress for $1 to wear on Halloween. I’m planning on going as Cindi Lauper and it will be amazing.

On the way home I stopped by the grocery store once again to pick up some printer ink. Again this is something I have been putting off for weeks, but as I wanted to make our wedding invites this weekend it had to be done. By the time I got home there was a half hour of yoga and then I had to dart out again for dinner. We hit up a sushi train buffet which was one of the best things ever.

Sunday I was up early for meal prep. This weeks menu includes a peanut soba tofu salad (recipe later), lentil tacos, baked spuds and pumpkin curry. I also whipped up a big batch of hummus which is currently rocking my world.

IMG_20141019_123745[1]

After cooking I darted back downtown for book club which was the highlight of my weekend. Relaxing with lovely ladies just talking about anything is the best. Our book was ‘Sex with Queens’ by Elanor Herman which I enjoyed but I am a big history girl. Think a Phillipa Gregory book only with more sex. By the time I got home it was after 4 and I was a hungry animal.

IMG_20141020_082123[1]

Hummus and roast veggies for the win!

IMG_20141019_123802[1]

I spent the rest of the night getting a start on the wedding invitations, silently cursing and reminding myself that we are saving a crap-ton of money doing them ourselves. This morning is rainy and cold, but made better by the coffee my sister-n-law to be sent from NZ.

IMG_20141020_082342[1]

It’s kicking my butt! Have a lovely day ūüôā

Re-inventing and my journey to wellness

293526_10150789179340523_5946772_n

When I first started blogging I had this ideas of it being a fantastic food and healthy eating website. For me, it was a way to talk about my love of eating, delicious food, being vegetarian and ultimately a creative realize. However, as I started blogging I realized that there was little going on there. Taking photos of my daily meals was kind of boring – not to mention annoying – and I found myself without anything to write about. So the healthy living thing kind of went on the backslide.

Since then I have continued to blog just to keep my goals in check or as a source for word vomit. I’ve moved to Korea, gotten engaged, become an exercise junkie and began to realize what kind of person I want to be. My world is no longer about eating healthy, but is now focused on my wellness and happiness.

DSC00389

Wellness for me is about being a good person inside and out. It’s about doing the things that I enjoy, listening to my body and living my best life. For awhile I was obsessed with counting calories and working out. It was impossible for me to eat a cookie without letting it ruin my day and having to do an extra workout to burn off the calories. This is a time when I was constantly stressed and unhappy, such an awful attitude towards food! Now I eat good quality foods, but also make sure to indulge. I listen to how my body is feeling and if I am sleep deprived or not feeling the best then exercise takes a backseat. This was a hard journey and to be honest the thoughts still rear their head every now and then. But it is a work in progress, just like me.

I used to spend my days worrying about everything that could go wrong and forgetting to appreciate how good things are. Now I try to deal with only the biggest problems that emerge and let the smaller ones slide. When things seem bad, I try to think about how good¬†my life is. It may not be¬†perfect, but it isn’t terrible either.¬†Planning a wedding and moving home has been incredibly stressful for myself,¬† but letting all the little things overwhelm me just isn’t worth it. Realizing that the world doesn’t end if I don’t have everything perfect was a significant moment for me and I am so much happier for it.

Finally, I am doing what I love. I have been writing articles that I enjoy and if they get published great, if not, so be it. Writing is a¬†fantastic release for me and you know, it makes me happy. Trying to fit into a certain ‘type’ of blogger and writer is just too hard and takes all the enjoyment out of it. Doing things that make me happy rather than grudgingly wading through days filled with jobs I hate has made¬†me feel relaxed and much more comfortable with who I am.

live-in-the-now

Which is where this post comes in. I am writing it because I want to get out how I am feeling and give the blog a new focus. This isn’t about anything other then happiness. My new focus for this blog is following my passions, doing what I love and being a healthy, happy person. I hope you find something that resonates or inspires you, because you deserve to live a good life. And so do I.