Tag Archives: food

60 Days of Yoga: day 2

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So, day 2 of my 60-day challenge was exactly that – challenging. Yesterday was pretty easy in comparison. I’d gone to my usual Sunday morning class at The Life Centre in Kensington. The class itself was quite intense – lots of utkatasana (chair pose), so I was definitely feeling some burning in the thighs! But actually getting myself to do the yoga was easier, as I had a set time and it was also a morning session. I’m definitely someone who works best with clear deadlines.

I work freelance, so my weekly schedule varies a lot, and I had today off work. I find that even if I get up early, I can easily waste a lot of time and get very little achieved. Today was one of those days. Before I knew it, it was time to head into town to meet my friend for lunch and I hadn’t done any yoga, but I figured I’d have plenty of time afterwards. However, when I got home I had a headache and just generally didn’t feel that well. I took some aspirin, had a lie-down, and when that didn’t work I went to my default feel-better technique of eating. Except I wasn’t actually hungry and of course the food didn’t actually make my headache any better at all.

This all resulted in me really not feeling like doing any yoga, and if it wasn’t for that silly little post that I put up last night, proclaiming that this 60-day challenging was starting then and there, there was no way I would have done any. But I felt it would have been so pathetic to fail on my second day that I forced myself, at 8.00pm, to do a class at home on yogaglo.com. I chose Christina Sell’s ‘Goodnight Sweetheart,’ class, which is a great hour-long evening class that I had done once before. It’s not a class that builds a lot of heat, but there’s a lot of great hip openers and you repeat each pose so you can go a bit deeper the second time. Christina also has some really great techniques to get you into a pose, and it was through her instruction that I managed to do agnistambhasana (fire log pose) properly for the first time.

Anyway, about 10 minutes into the class, I already felt so much better than I had for most of the afternoon and evening. My headache went and I was left feeling both calm and rested, but also more energised than I had for most of the day. I was able to stay up and do the really important things in life, like watch Made In Chelsea, instead of going to bed at 9.00pm hoping that sleep would cure my headache. So it’s only the second day in and I’ve already realised that showing some commitment to this little project can make me feel a whole lot better.

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The more things change…

So it’s been almost a year since I last updated this blog. I only realised it the other day when I started to think about maybe getting back into writing, and noticed that my last post was about Melbourne, which I visited in January 2010. It was somewhat horrifying  to realise that somehow a year had passed in which I didn’t manage to find the time to write anything (or at least to post anything. I had a few failed attempts littered here and there.)

It got me thinking about how easily time passes and slips away, and that it’s not even necessarily about what you prioritise, or at least what you want to prioritise. I know I managed to keep updated with whether RPattz and KStew are actually dating, and I carved out time to watch X Factor. When it comes down to it, is that what is more important to me than writing? I also only managed to read a handful of books last year, but I read my fair share of trashy magazines. I suppose sometimes it’s just easier to be lazy. It certainly takes less effort to watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians than to write a blog post.

The one good thing, or at least enlightening thing, about how I have not posted in almost a year, means that the ‘new year’ posts are close to the top. I was reading over one in which I lamented that my ‘just do it’ philosophy was obviously not being heeded to, that I needed to keep a diary, that I needed to be more organized, that I had started the 100 push-ups programme.

I was hit by how crushingly similar my aspirations are this year. I spent the 2nd of January scouring book and stationary shops in an attempt to find the perfect diary that would somehow manage to transform my life into one of efficiency and achievement; I had downloaded the 100 push-ups app onto my iPhone; I had tried to stop putting things off and just do them when I thought of it.

A lot of things have changed for me in the past year.  I’ve planned trips that I didn’t go on, and gone on ones that I didn’t plan, I’ve dabbled with cancer, I’ve been to a psychotherapist, I’ve said goodbye to my first proper job and wondered if I would ever find anything that suited me so well, I’ve managed to get a new job which has opened my eyes to a side of life that I never experienced and I’ve moved to the other side of the world.

And yet when the new year rolled around, I was still battling with the same issues I always was – that I’m not achieving my potential, that my body is not as thin as it should be, my hair not as long, my skin not as clear, that I still don’t have an idea of what it is I want my ‘career’ to be and that I’m still apparently unable to use a diary for more than a week at a time.

My hopes and dreams for a new year all seemed a bit futile in the face of such overwhelming evidence that my weaknesses remain the same, that my ability to overcome them is limited. Part of me wonders if maybe I should just throw away the diary and accept that, like a friend said to me recently, if something is important, you’ll do it. But at the same time, I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, and maybe it’s just in my nature to take the easy way out, to be a bit lazy, and maybe it’s also in my nature to want to struggle against that. I know in some ways I’m setting myself up to fail. That I will stop using that diary, that I will somehow end up watching a re-run of Everwood rather than going to the gym.

I went to a shambhala meditation group some time ago, (a component of my ideal self is that I would meditate daily, without my thoughts drifting off to consider whether I need a new pair of shoes). The teacher discussed the problematic nature of the idea of self-improvement and progress. I found this quite a difficult idea to wrestle with, as if we don’t want to improve or progress, then it seemed like giving up. But the teacher explained that what they were meaning was to interrogate the impulses behind that improvement. Is it negative or positive? Who are you trying to improve for and what are the true benefits?

While I don’t think I could just let go of feeling like I need to improve, I do think I probably need to switch my focus to what it is I have done right, what it is I have achieved, rather than focusing on what I haven’t, and how I need to do more. Maybe it’s about enhancing what is already there, rather than thinking about what I’m lacking or not doing right.

I may never change in the way I have strived to. In fact, I wonder if I would be recognizable to myself if I did. If I suddenly woke up tomorrow at 6am and meditated and went to the gym t and then practiced yoga and chatted easily to acquaintances and held the gaze of strangers and dressed my lithe body in fabulously minimalist chic attire, read some literary classic on the tube on the way to my as-yet-undetermined perfect job that is enjoyable, but also makes a difference to people’s lives, had cocktails with friends after work, a delicious meal with an intelligent man, who I was not intimidated by, and we have deep and meaningful conversation, I order the salmon, because healthy food is just so delicious and I don’t have dessert, because I’m not much of a sweet tooth, and I was on time for all my appointments and was not indecisive once.

Anyway, back to reality. Who knows whether life would be more satisfying if we were living out our perfect selves? That fantasy is just that, and in the end my weaknesses are as much a part of who I am as my strengths. And when I think of the good people I have in my life, and accept me for who I am (and maybe because of who I am) it serves as a reminder that maybe I’m OK if I never change.

Chances are, I’m 28, and this is what I’m like, but I think maybe I need to start enjoying the attempt at change, and to take pleasure in simple victories, like how I actually sat down and wrote this, rather than thinking about doing it, but reading my Twitter feed instead.

Rather than the goal of unattainable perfection, I think my goal for this year is just to live consciously, the exact meaning of which I’m still trying to work out, but it’s a phrase that keeps coming back to me when I think about this year and what I want it to be and how I want me to be, but that’s another blog post (hopefully!).

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Best of Melbourne

I went to Melbourne for five days recently. I’ve been to Melbourne a few times before and always enjoy it. It’s the type of city that’s fun to visit, but also has a feeling of liveability. There’s some places I love to visit, but I can’t envisage myself living there, or I don’t think living there would be all that great.

Funnily enough, while I still think that, this time that I visited Melbourne, while I still think it would be a fantastic city to live in, I can’t see myself living there right now. I thought that maybe on this trip I would feel that I’d ‘found my place in the world’, but I think my place must be a bit further a field at the moment. I’m definitely keeping Melbourne on my futures list, though.

Anyway, in no particular order, here’s some things I enjoyed when I was there and think you should check out if you get the chance.

Degraves Espresso. I can’t speak about the food at this cafe, as I just went for a pre-breakfast coffee (we got breakfast free at our hotel and I was being cheap), but the coffee was definitely good. So good that when I finished my first soy latte, I felt compelled to order another. Sitting there sipping your coffee and people-watching is one of those quintessentially Melbourne experiences, I think.

Retrostar Vintage. There’s a lot of good vintage shopping in Melbourne, but I found a lot of it quite expensive compared to K Rd prices in Auckland and it wasn’t that much better to warrant the prices. Retrostar definitely has a lot of stuff to choose from and it’s prices are pretty good. It’s a large warehouse-style building that has a huge amount of stock that’s worth a rummage through. I found a fabulous 1960s champagne lace-overlay dress for A$65.

Circa Vintage. I actually didn’t buy anything here, but I think it’s worth the trip out to Fitzroy. It has a small selection of clothes, but all well selected. This is somewhere if you’re lucky, and if you have the budget, you could pick up something truly special. And the shop itself just has a nice 1940s kind of vibe to it, old-fashioned music playing and the shop girl dressed in vintage attire while ironing some new acquisitions.

Little Cupcakes. This is in Degraves St (so goes perfectly with a coffee from Degraves Espresso). I had a mini mocha cupcake and my mum had a lamington cupcake. Both were devine. There are numerous other flavours, and you can get mini or regular-size versions. If I lived in Melbourne, this would be a weekly treat. Mmm.

AIX Cafe Crepierie Salon. This is in Centre Place, which is another little iconic piece of Melbourne. Surrounded by the tables and graffiti and shops and people walking past, this is tucked away, a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place. I went there in the afternoon after the lunch rush so I could get a table (there’s only about three), but it’s well worth finding the time. I had a sticky date crepe with caramel sauce and double cream. It’s as rich as it sounds, and was amazing for about three-quarters of it before I fell into a food-induced coma. There’s a large variety of options for those not as brave or stupid as I. The berries with yoghurt and rosewater sounded nice to me for next time. And there’s also a lot of savoury ones as well. Good value, delicious and filling.

Scarlette & Sly. This is also in Centre Place. It may be best to come here before eating a large crepe, as trying on clothes with a full stomach is never much fun, and I’m sure you’ll want to try something on. From what I understand, this shop stocks local Melbourne designers. I bought a great navy blazer here, something I’d been looking for for a long time, but hadn’t managed to find the right combination of relaxed and tailored, smart and casual. It was half price as well, so only $75, but it’s original price of $150 was pretty reasonable, I thought, for a well-made classic piece. It’s chain store prices, but not everyone is going to have it.

Finally, I didn’t get to do this, but I guess you have to leave something for next time – Rooftop Cinema at the top of Curtin House. And Cookie Bar & Restaurant downstairs is meant to have excellent cocktails, so I’m told.

And just because this is a Melbourne-themed post, this is one of my favourite blogs at the moment, Lady Melbourne.

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A Fresh Start

I love the feeling of a new year. It always feels like you’re starting again somehow, like the world is ripe with possibilities, and that you’re able to reinvent yourself, or write yourself, in some new kind of way.

I’ve mostly managed to avoid the usual excesses of the festive season this year. Sure, there was the obligatory overeating on Christmas Day, and the few days after that involved far too much trifle, and a rather large amount of Pimms, but I think I did pretty well in not completely falling off the bandwagon of the healthy lifestyle I’ve tried to build for myself. This is quite a big achievement, as I was always victim of the snowball effect of eating at Christmas, where I’d eat too much at one meal, and so there was no point trying to be healthy the rest of the day, as it was already too far gone, but then that would linger on into the next day, until you’ve suddenly had a month of overeating and no exercise and you have to start all over again.

But this year has thankfully been different, which gives me hope for my New Year’s resolutions, one of which is to maintain my healthy lifestyle. Another one, which is totally stolen from a friend (thanks, Kim!) is the mantra ‘Just do it’. (Yeah, I think she may have stolen it from somewhere too.) I can’t speak too much as to what it means for her, but in my life, the way I’ve been trying to use it is to stop myself procrastinating.

I always knew I was a good procrastinator when it came to doing uni work. If nothing else, I certainly mastered the art of procrastination while attempting to finish my MA. But it wasn’t until this year that it actually dawned on me how procrastination seems to permeate so many facets of my life, from putting off writing blog posts, (sorry, faithful readers – all three of you) to the stack of bank statements dating back to June that I still hadn’t gotten around to filing, to even taking my vitamins in the morning. Everything for me is something I’m going to get onto soon, rather than now.

I was working over New Year’s, so didn’t go away, but it meant I had a few days off afterwards with few distractions, and I used that time to try to get onto stuff that I had been meaning to do for months, or sometimes years. I filed those bank statements, I got that coat dry-cleaned, I got the tips replaced on my high heels, I backed-up my computer, I went through my iTunes library and deleted the music I didn’t like. I cannot begin to tell you how great all this made me feel. I was accomplishing stuff. I was ticking it off. My whole world felt lighter. I was less burdened by crap that I didn’t even realise was weighing me down.

It’s something that I totally need to work at. I still catch myself thinking, ‘Oh, I should take my vitamins,’ or ‘I must pay my phone bill,’ without any real intention of getting on to it right then. But more and more I think, ‘Just do it’. And unless I’m in the middle of something really important, I do it. It’s done. I forget about it. I’m also trying to keep a diary, as part of this new-and-improved me. I still often forget to look at it until the day is almost over, but I hope that I can use it to make me more efficient at utilising my time.

The results of all this, I’m just starting to see. I finally finished a book that I’ve been reading since July. I’ve started another book, The Book Thief, which I bought probably a year and a half ago. I’ve been meaning to read it, but I just wasn’t in the reading zone in 2009. I felt like I didn’t have the attention span. I suddenly feel like I’ve got it back and that I can enjoy reading again, and that feels like such a gift.  I’ve not only cleared space on my desk, I’ve cleared space in my mind and in my life.

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Now join hands, and with your hands your hearts

I’m going to a wedding tomorrow, which seems the perfect way to kick-off summer. While I personally have mixed feelings about the institution of marriage and whether it would be right for me, there isn’t much that I like better than going to a wedding. There are other events which can be fun and celebratory – birthdays, New Year’s – but a wedding is an event that is all about love, and that’s pretty cool. The idea of proclaiming your love and devotion and commitment in front of your closest friends and family is so simple and yet so powerful, and I think that feeling of love and happiness filters through to all the guests.

Some other cool things about weddings are you have a reason to wear a pretty dress,…

…the dancing…

…the beautiful flowers…

…Champagne and cake – what a perfect combination…

…and it always makes me feel positive and hopeful about love, if even just for a day.

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A Gourmet dessert

I was recently invited to a family get-together, the first barbecue of the summer for me. I had to take a dessert, but was running short of time, since I only found out the day before and was out that evening and then working the next day.

I really love dessert. I’m such a sweet tooth, and while I admit that I don’t often make a huge amount of effort with my savoury cooking, I do love to try different desserts and spend a lot of time and effort on them.

Probably my all-time favourite desserts are tiramisu and baked cheesecake, but they are also the ones I tend to find most disappointing, as I have such high expectations when I have them when I go out for dinner. When travelling through Italy with a friend for a week, I constantly ordered tiramisu for dessert, but I would always end up dissatisfied. Maybe it was that I was going to the wrong places, but they all just lacked something for me.

Anyway, for this barbecue I knew I wouldn’t have the time to whip up something that was in any way time consuming, so after some wonderful suggestions on the Vogue forum, I decided to just do a Kiwi classic, pavlova.

I found a fabulous recipe from Gourmet magazine. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to make the pav from scratch, so I had to settle for a bought one. But I think it was the best pavlova I’ve ever had! Although maybe it’s just because I haven’t had one since last Christmas.

It felt fitting to use a recipe from Gourmet, after just listening to an interview with the editor, Ruth Reichl, former food critic for The New York Times, discussing what she planned to do with her life after she had received the news Gourmet was to stop publication in November.

It’s not a magazine that I ever bought, but I still feel a sadness at its passing, not just because it’s a magazine of great history, but also because its closing is a sign of the times for magazine publishing. Incredibly, the circulation for Gourmet was actually at its highest levels when it was shut down, but it was the lack of advertising that killed it. It’s a luxury magazine, and the luxury advertisers like Porsche and Rolex have pulled back their advertising considerably since the recession.

Reichl lamented the fact that American food writing is now being dominated by the likes of Rachel Ray – what Reichl calls ‘stupid food’. While this is no doubt an elitist view, it does point to a wider problem, I think, of how we’re constantly being told we don’t have time to cook. We’re saturated with quick and easy options, but yet there seems to be more cooking on television than ever before. It appears that we’re spending our time watching cooking on television rather than spending time actually cooking.

Obviously there is a need for quick options – I wanted one myself for the barbecue. I may not have the abundance of time or the money needed to completely live the Gourmet lifestyle, but like with the pavlova, I can take some inspiration from it and focus on the joy that creating something delicious, decadent and beautiful for yourself and others can bring.

My Gourmet-inspired pavlova:

pavlova (either made from scratch or bought)

pouring cream, whipped with a little icing sugar added

Wild Appetite Tipsy Lemon Curd (this is lemon curd with the dutch liquor advocaat added to it)

macerated berries (I used strawberries) – cut hulled strawberries in half and soak in the juice of one or two lemons or limes and 2 tbsps of caster sugar. You can also add a liquor such as limoncello if desired.

Combine the whipped cream and lemon curd, arrange strawberries on top and serve pavlova with extra strawberries. Yum!

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These are a few of my favourite things

Home-made afghan biscuits. Somehow they seem like they must be good for you if made by your own two hands.

Pretty dresses in the moonlight.

Misty mornings…

…that turn into sunny days.

Old school Casio watches from Made. I’d like the silver one – it reminds me of one my dad used to wear.

The smell of flowers in the air when I walk to work.

Karen Walker boyfriend jeans

Oatmeal (it sounds far more glamorous than porridge) for breakfast. I’ve had it every day for months and I’m still not sick of it.

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