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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Hummus and roast veggies for the win!

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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.

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

Re-inventing and my journey to wellness

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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.

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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.

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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.

Heat Wave

What do you do when Daegu has an unexpected heat wave?

Why you crank on the oven of course!

Despite the crazy end of summer high, I felt the need to bake today and ended up working my little apartment into a sauna. By the end of the afternoon I was one hot sweaty mess! But at least I had tasty treats and a delicious dinner to show for it. I started out making some vanilla cupcakes and peanut butter blondies…

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The cupcakes were a little plain for my liking, but the blondies are amazing. They turned out perfectly soft and chewy with crispy edges and peanut butter goodness. So many have been consumed!

Then I moved onto cooking, and that’s when things stared to get a little too hot. I had this idea to make vegetarian shepherds pie as it is such a comfort food of mine and the recipe always makes enough to last for the next few days. In my mind this was a time saving idea which I was proud of, but the reality was much different. I had to boil and mash the potatoes, cook the lentils from scratch, sautee the veggies, blend the lentils into a ‘mince’ meat and then combine everything together. It turned out tasty,  but god it was time consuming.

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My secret to making this pie is to use the leftovers as taco fillings the next night. It’s like tricking myself into having a completely different dinner two nights in a row.

While the pie was being made, I also had some chickpeas cooking along to make up hummus, an assortment of roasted veggies in the oven for my lunches the next few days, and half a pumpkin getting good and cooked in the oven. It was crazy.

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After several hours the total for my heat wave extravaganza was vanilla cupcakes, pb blondies, shepherds pie, roasted veggies, roasted pumpkin and hummus. After I had cooled myself off with a shower, I was feeling pretty good about what I accomplished. Snaps for a productive day and yummy food!

Beautiful Korea

Hey there,

As I knew this would be my last Chuseok in Korea, I wanted to do something special this time. Usually the holiday involves a lot of resting and enjoying how quiet the city gets, but I felt inspired by all the travelling my friends have been doing lately and decided to pack up and leave Daegu for a bit.

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Best decision ever!

We headed up to Sokcho, a small city just outside of Seoul that is right next to Seoraksan National Park. Sokcho is hard to get to, but well worth it as this is by far the most beautiful and friendliest place I have seen in Korea. The park is noted as being exceptionally stunning and has some pretty good hikes which range in level. We chose Ulsanbawi, the second most difficult but I wanted a challenge. The most difficult hike is extremely long and involves camping overnight at the top which was just a bit much for me.

To get to Sokcho from Daegu you have to first get to Seoul, we could have bused… but my laziness and knowledge that the roads would be backed up for Chuseok made me chose the KTX instead. It’s always the best option.

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After a 2 hour KTX to Seoul, we took a subway to the bus terminal, caught a 3 hour bus to Sokcho and then another local bus to our accommodation. I was spent, but we were staying right alongside the mountains and it was impossible not to go for a walk.

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I can’t describe how good it was to be out of the city and amongst nature and fresh air. It sounds lame and clichéd yes, but I don’t realize sometimes how draining it can be living in a big place like Daegu. I love it, but the place is a bit polluted and overcrowded and coming from a small place like NZ means I feel truly home out in the country.

Not only is Sokcho beautiful, but the people there were incredibly lovely. The couple who run the motel we stayed at gave us a big bunch of grapes for Chuseok, and every restaurant we went into was so friendly. Sometimes in Korea, particularly in smaller areas, locals can be resistant to foreigners; even going as far as to ignore them completely in order to get them to leave. In each place that we went to the staff lit up when they saw us and tried so hard to make sure we got a good meal. There were recommendations of dishes and free drinks and the good side dishes were given. It was so good to meet amazing Korean people – plus the food was so yummy! I think being in the country means the veggies were that much fresher, the only photo I snapped was of some takeout bibimbap, but even that looks much more vibrant then what I would get in Daegu.

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Saturday morning we woke up early to take on Ulsanbawi. After a short bus ride to the park entrance (just take local bus 7-1 or 7 right to the end of the line), and a visit to the giant Buddha, we started walking.

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The walk wasn’t too difficult, but the last couple of km involved some crazy steep stairs.

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Not gonna lie, this part was hard! But it was do-able, and the top it totally worth it.

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I felt amazing sitting there just looking out over the mountains and taking in the country. It’s no surprise that living in Korea can be frustrating and hard at times, there are days when I hate it and just want to leave. But being somewhere like Seoraksan made me remember how lucky I am to have been able to travel to a place that I knew nothing about. Plus being there with my special someone made me a little emotional. I kept thinking about how we have been together for 8 years and how far we have come.

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                                     (my face really reflects how tired I was after the late nights and hiking).

Sorry for the feely stuff! We ended the day my busing to the beach and lying in the sun with some beers.

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This morning we made the long journey back to Daegu, which was made extra long by the Chuseok traffic! The 2 hour bus ride turned into 4, although I was entertained by the puppy which sat next to me on the bus.

 

And just to be really foreign, we hit up the subway in Seoul. I love Korean food but sometimes a girl just wants a good sandwich! The weekend was long, but so relaxing and perfect. I cannot recommending heading out to Sokcho enough!

To get there you first need to make it to Seoul and take a bus from the express bus terminal to Sokcho city. This costs 18,1000 won and takes 2 – 3 hours depending on traffic. Once you arrive at Sokcho the beach is right on your left, but to get to the park you need to bus. This is pretty short, make sure to cross the road from the bus terminal and catch either the 7-1 or the 7 bus (1,1000 won). You can get it to the end of the line which will take you to the entrance of the National Park, but if you get off a couple of stops earlier you will be in an area with a lot of hotels and good Korean restaurants. Happy travelling!

 

davey

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Chuseok!

Hey there, and happy Chuseok!

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For those who don’t know, Chuseok is the biggest holiday Korea has to offer. It’s like thanksgiving and xmas rolled into one. The three days mark the beginning of the fall harvest and are when families get together to eat a lot of food. We had the typical hagwon day for Chuseok where the kids wore traditional Korean clothes, we made rice cakes and played Korean games.

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It was adorable of course and, as always, it makes it a little more special to do something like this for the holiday. I know so little about other cultures and being able to do some traditional things for such a big holiday is appreciated by myself.

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My first night of Chuseok was spent meeting up with a friend for a drink that turned into a very late night out. We stumbled across a big festival at the University where you could buy cocktails in a bag and ran into a few more people who managed to persuade us into a couple more drinks. This didn’t go well with my early 6am wake up to begin my travel plans…. Oh well!

Happy Chuseok!!

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Mini-Goals Round 4

Hey there,

First up I have exciting news! I mentioned that I had been writing for an online magazine and I can finally announce that the first issue is available from today 😀 Glamtrottingis full of articles related to beauty and travelling and has contributions from talented ladies located all around the world. It is a must have for any traveler, or just those who have a passion for beauty. You can find the magazine available for purchase here – http://glamtrotting.com/ – or read the online blog which currently features my article on backpacking and beauty.

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So my mini-goals took a bit of a backslide last week when I came down with a cold. I couldn’t get in as much yoga as I wanted because sleep should trump exercise when your body is tired; I also didn’t eat as much protein as I had little appetite. On the bright side, being sick meant that I drunk a bucket load of water every day, so snaps for that one!

This weeks goals are a little different…

 

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– Stop snacking so much late at night. I always do this and then wake up feeling gross and bloated, it’s unpleasant. I think the issue is that I don’t eat enough during the day and then just compensate in the evenings, My aim is to try for bigger breakfasts and having an afternoon snack even if I’m not starving for one.

– Be less negative. Things have been stressful at work and I have been a basket of negativity. I need to push out the bad thoughts and replace them with good ones.

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– Prepare for my hike on Sunday. This is where the negative thing comes into play. We are planning on going hiking this long weekend and I am very aware of everything that could go wrong. Getting to the trail takes about 9 hours and involves 3 buses – some of which we can’t book in advance – so obviously I am sure they are going to fill up and we wont be able to go but would have wasted money on the hotel and buses which we have already paid for. I have to try to stop thinking like this and focus on how much fun it will be to do a challenging hike in a beautiful country.

That’s it from me, have a fantastic week 🙂

 

You Know You’re a Vegetarian When…

You have wasabi in your handbag.

For real, I do this. Don’t judge me.

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I am feeling super rested this morning after a lazy weekend. I spent Saturday night watching Mean Girls and eating chocolate muffins, and giving myself a manicure – living the dream!

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Sunday involved a lot of reading and writing for a beauty magazine that I have begun contributing too. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. On the one hand I love expressing myself and feeling creative, on the other it gets frustrating when I can’t get my ideas together and make a piece flow. Being part of this magazine has been a good way to curb this problem as I have been forced to think about how a something reads and work on my composition. The first issue comes out on Wednesday and I am so excited to see everything in print!

While it was fun to stay in and relax, the house was getting boring to look at by Sunday afternoon so I headed out to get a coffee and read my kindle. I got hungry and tried these new veggie chips with the hope that they would be a healthy alternative to potato chips.

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They were pretty average and seriously lacked in the flavor department. But luckily I have wasabi in my handbag and used it to spice them up a bit.

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Often my lunch at work involves plain rice and whatever veggies I have bought from home as I always have wasabi on my to add a bit of flavor. That’s something which comes from years of vegetarianism 😉

Speaking of food, diner last night rocked my world. I roasted half a pumpkin  and filled it with sautéed mushrooms, onion and tofu which had been seasoned with a little butter and Italian herbs. Unfortunately it looked terrible so I didn’t take a photo, but I promise it tasted good. I named it my pumpkin protein bowl and feel that it will be a regular meal for me.

Okay let’s bring on this week and hope for a good Monday!

 

 

 

How To Wear Bold Lipstick

I have always admired people that can wear a bold lip colour. They always look so beautiful, not to mention it gives off an air of confidence. Lipstick has never really been my area as I have small lips and feel like the colour just looks wrong. Lately I have been wanting to experiment a little more and change up my makeup routine, so this weekend I took a step into the lip world with a baby pink colour that has been tempting me for months.

The secret to wearing lipstick lies in the rest of your makeup application. A colour like baby pink is going to pop out and having strong eye makeup will contrast this and make your face look too crowded. I went for a ‘no makeup’ look by using as little as I could on my eyes and skin. First I used liquid eyeliner between my lashes to fill them out and give them a more consistent look.

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Then I lightly applied mascara to the tips of the lashes, just enough to even out the colour and give them a little volume. This was followed by a light covering of foundation, just enough to even out skin tone and get rid of any blemishes.

As for the lips, I followed my lipstick with a small dab of blush. This is a tip I learned from a friend a few weeks ago which helps keeps the colour in place while also giving it a nice shimmery 3D effect. The end result…

 

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Aside from the weird thing my eyes are doing in this picture, I really like it. My face looks so different and I feel a little more confident – plus a change up in routine is always fun. Maybe next time I will go all out and wear a bold red…