Monday, 29 July 2013

link party ♢ weekly wishes #5

{{image source}}
Sometimes I wish I could hammer a nail into the centre of my forehead and wear a sign there that reads "Work in progress". 

Thanks to Melyssa's lovely link-up I've been reminding myself daily that it's really ok to trip up and fall down, to muddy my cheeks and scuff up my boots. It's the striving for better-ness along the way that counts. I don't believe that a 'perfect' human being exists, rather our whole lives are one big never-ending journey of self-improvement.

Last time I posted my 'Weekly Wishes' I said I wanted to focus on strengthening my heart chakra by practising forgiveness, love, contentedness and yoga.
Two weeks flitted by and I thought I did pretty good; I bit my tongue when I got frustrated with my parents, I offered to hang out with my young cousins while they are on summer vacation when I would rather have had a Woody Allen marathon, I made concious efforts to put my own convenience to one side in order to make others around me happy.

So far, so "pat me on the back for ain't I good".

Yesterday morning I received my first negative comment.
A lady posted a comment telling me she couldn't finish reading because of my "foul language" and that I wasn't her "cup of tea".
I was stung.... embarrassed, hurt, angry, ashamed. 
 My knee-jerk reaction was "oh my god I've offended someone and the evidence is all over my dirty little blog for all to see...delete, delete, DELEEEETE!"
I deleted her comment and enabled comment moderation for the first time ever. I basically did everything short of running and hiding under my duvet while at the same time telling myself I'd done the right thing by ignoring her and getting rid of any evidence that there could possibly be someone out there who might not dig me or my blog.

But, as the day went on the comment and my reaction to it stuck in my throat like a bad taste. I couldn't shake it.
I started to wonder if I really had done the right thing.
 Was I really being honest with myself by deleting the comment, or my readers for that matter? Is the best response to negativity or criticism to run and hide from it? Was this the reaction of a strong, assertive, self loving person?

I wish I could go back and un-delete that comment. Deal with it in some other manner or thank her for her honesty, even!
I shouldn't place so much importance on what one person thinks of me or on the impression I want to make on a lot people I don't even know.
 This is my space, my creative outlet. I can write well written and meaningful posts or sloppy posts or drop the occasional S-bomb here and there if I feel so inclined and not expect rainbows to be shot up my ass by every single person who finds themselves reading. 
And I refuse to edit myself! This is me. I can swear and belch AND write about my spirituality and self-improvement at the same time. I won't hide what I'm about and I'll make no apologies. 
I can't please everyone.
 And that's okay.

This is my new promise to myself: Don't shy away from criticism, face it head on and take it on the chin like a bad-ass.

Now, I'm off to disable my comment moderation ^.^

Wanna join the party every Monday?
Click below!

The Nectar Collective

Sunday, 28 July 2013

head in the clouds/ toes in the earth

 Summertime, and the livin' is easy.

The living is easy, indeed. I've never known a summer like it. 

Once September hits and its back to work I know my heart will pine for these long, drawn out days of sun-chair lounging and Vonnegut reading, picking and choosing my waking hours and navigating the country lanes with only the wild horses for company.

I've been taking an hour long stroll most evenings. I love the natural euphoria that occurs when you mix cardio with visual stimulation and Sigur Ros ^.^

There's something about these ice cream flavour skies; blueberry blue and cherry-whipped, I wish I could take a giant spoon and eat up a scoop...

Such magic to be found in summer, 
especially for a daydreamer like me.

I'd love to hear your favourite parts of this season!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

don't mind if I do, Mercury

Are we all here? Everyone make it out alive?
You're here reading this so I'm guessing that you did but I'd just go ahead and check your wit and wisdoms are all in order if I were you.
In case you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, until a week ago Mercury was in retrograde.

For us earthly folk this occurrence signals all manner of personal and professional jiggery pokery.
Since the planet Mercury symbolises truth, travel, communication and clear thinking and when a planet goes 'retrograde' it appears to travel backwards in the sky, these things can start to go a bit cuckoo bananas for some us. A bit of a planetary shit storm if you will.

Scan back in your memory between June 26th and July 20th. Anything seem a bit "off" to you?
Were you feeling cloudy and tongue-tied? Experienced problems with travel plans or electrical equipment?
Trouble communicating in your relationship or on the receiving end of wrong information in your personal life?
These are all effects of the pandemonium caused by that little silver planet going retrograde.

BUT, my sources tell me, Mercury in retrograde can also present an opportunity for major emotional and intellectual breakthroughs. A chance for us to, essentially, "get our karmic shit together".

During those weeks that the cosmos spent tripping out I spent a lot of time walking the back-roads behind our house at the magic hour, catching some terrific captures of the sun sinking down behind the treetops along the way. As I pounded the pavements, listened to my music and drank in the sunsets I had ample time to think. To mull over my past and ponder on my future and mentally karate chop some of the doubts and fears holding me back from moving forward.

The outcome? I have a one-way plane ticket booked for London Gatwick in a few weeks time.
It's been nigh on four years since I last lived in the Big Smoke and my heart swells whenever I think about moving back.
So many haunts to revisit, streets to trample down, curry houses to frequent.

How do I begin to describe London? I'd say it's a bit like trying to grab hold of the wind... but here are a few snapshots of my favourite bits + pieces from the place that I am, once again, proud to call home...

<<Brick Lane>>

{{The Shampan curry house on Brick Lane~favourite ^.^}}

When I was 25 years old I announced to my Mom that I was finally ready to fly the coop. A week later I had moved in to a teeny wee bedsit in a tower block near the bottom of the infamous Brick Lane in East London. 

While it can err on the side of being too urban/hipster for it's own good, I will always and forever love this little corner of London for it's utter and unapologetic diversity. You can walk through a multitude of cultures, colors, styles, foods and tastes on just one single cobble-stoned street.

 Pop-up vintage markets and street festivals, book stands and street food riddle Brick Lane on the weekends and you can treat you retinas to Banksy art and graffitied walls, your taste buds to curry house fare and bagel stores and your ear drums to boom-boxed jazz to live Jamaican kettle drums.

In particular I can't wait to refresh myself after an afternoon's browsing with a mint tea in one of the several spit-n-sawdust tea rooms where you can take your pick from worn leather armchairs or Indian-style floor pillows. As I said, diversity definitely is the key word where Brick Lane is concerned!!

<<Notting Hill Carnival>>
I'm seriously happy that I will be back in London this year in time for the annual carnival in the streets of Notting Hill. 
Sequins and jerk chicken and calypso music, oh my!!

Plus the local upper crust loosen up for a few days and throw open the windows of their million pound apartments to have jamming sessions on their windowsills.

Can't beat that, friends!

<<London Fields Park>>
The sunshine suits London to a T and she wears it like a slutty dress.
The only thing to do when the summer is doing what it does best is to pack a picnic and go people watch in the green grass of London Fields. 
Strawberries, clotted cream and scones are non-negotiable!

If it's possible I just made myself even more excited to return!

So thank you for the mind-buzz, Mercury. An open invitation to take your future bull by the horns? Don't mind if I do!

London's calling...
Toot Toot!!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

What She Ate// Baker's Choice

Chai Tea Coconut Scones

I was almost dreading the approach of this week's 'What She Ate' theme. The tropical conditions that have overcome this wet little country have knocked us all for six. It's all we can do to peel ourselves away from the sun loungers outside these days and the dogs seem to have attached themselves to the cool porcelain of the mantelpiece in the living room, startled by the immense heat.

Just as the thought of baking anything was starting to become unbearable to me today, it happened... as if by magic, the sky darkened and the storm clouds rolled in. 
For me there is no better excuse  for hot, buttery scones and tea than a wet cozy afternoon stuck indoors.

I adapted this scone recipe from a vegan recipe I found online. My recipe isn't strictly vegan though as I had to tweak here and adjust there to make do with what we had in our kitchen cupboards. 
I also tossed in a few little 'extras' for added yumminess ^.^

(makes 9 scones)
~ 2 cups flour
~ 1 tsp baking powder
~ 1/2 cup butter
~ 1/2 tsp sea salt
~ 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
~ 1 cup chai tea (soak 2 chai teabags in boiling water, I used the Twinings variety)
~1 tbsp flaxseed
~1/4 cup maple syrup
~ 1/4 cup honey
~ 1/3 cup brown sugar
~ 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
~ 1tsp vanilla extract
~ ground walnuts
~ roughly chopped Lindt coconut chocolate
~ toffee yoghurt

~ Heat oven to 400 F/ 200 C
~ In a large bowl mix flour, coconut, salt and baking powder.
~ Add butter and mix with fingers until dry ingredients are coated.
~Brew tea in a measuring jug and add flax seed, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, vinegar and vanilla.
~ Pour wet ingredients into large bowl and stir with spoon.
~ Fold in ground walnuts and chocolate, knead lightly and roll into a ball.
~ Place dough ball in fridge for 20 minutes.
~ Remove dough and roll out onto floured surface, using a cutter cut 9 scones and place them on a floured baking sheet.
~ Brush each scone lightly with a little toffee yoghurt to make a sweet glaze on them.
~ Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.

I was tempted to serve these with a glass of chai tea but I reckon it is possible to have too much of a good thing so I opted for a mug of regular tea the size of my own head instead!

These turned out delicious despite the fact they are semi vegan and I am more used to my Mom's scones baked in the good old fashioned Irish-style with eggs and milk as well as butter. These had a very delicate chai tea flavouring but you could definitely make it out (I'd probably use 3-4 teabags next time though) and the maple syrup and brown sugar with the walnuts gave them an almost flapjack-like flavour. 

Please share if you ever give these a try, I'd love to hear how they turned out for you!
Now, how about have a peek at the other 'Baker's Choice' editions this week:

I'll be back with another 'What She Ate' on August 9th with the them 'At the Farmer's Market'~ I can't wait for that one!


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

{{skinny}} maple chocolate milkshake

3 scoops low-fat vanilla ice cream
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

strawberry and deer skull

I visited the most perfect little tea room the other week with my Mom and aunt. Hidden down a little cobble-stone road in a village near my parent's house, it looked like something on the front of an old chocolate box.

We were served fresh from the oven scones and strawberries and whipped double-cream on mis-matched vintage china plates and drank a pot  several pots of tea from china teacups on big wood tables while the sun smiled and the bees hummed and I felt a little like we were in Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter books ^.^

I loved the eccentric decor (a deer skull here, a cast iron stove there) and the potted succulents, wild arugula and strawberries that were dotted around the outdoor seating. 

 It was the perfect place to kick back, soak up the lazy, dreamy summer sun and take too many spoons of whipped cream, because why not?

Now that you're here summer, how about staying awhile? Sure would appreciate it.

Monday, 15 July 2013

link party ♢ weekly wishes #4

This week I suffered a personal setback in regards to my application for the degree course I wanted to start this year. After sitting down with the prospectus, a notebook and a calculator I realized that the total monthly fees are going to be higher than I first thought and will be way out of my budget. My heart fell in to my feet when I realized this and that night I tossed and turned till 5 am, mind churning, feeling deflated and disappointed and angry at myself for not realizing sooner.
The following morning, after beating myself up over it all night and feeling pretty exhausted and low-spirited I turned to my best critic and biggest supporter. I talked to my Mom.

How do Mom's do it? After talking it through with her I felt stronger and more determined than ever. This is just a setback. I may not be able to do this particular course, but there will be another course I can do that better suits my budget. It's not defeat, it's simply back to the drawing board. I suppose I have a tendency to catastrophize situations; here I was thinking my dream lay shattered into tiny splinters at my feet. My Mom simply  bent down, picked up the pieces and rearranged them to make a slightly different picture, and I love her for that.

For this week's Weekly Wishes challenge I want to focus on something that will help redirect my mindset and emotional reactions and ultimately help me on my path to following my dream.
I've been teaching myself about the different chakras recently and I've learned some wonderful methods of opening the heart chakra which I think will benefit me in all aspects of my life.
This week I will challenge myself to apply the following methods to awaken my heart chakra because for me, to practise these in your daily life is to be a better, loving, and more accepting person...

~5 Ways to Open Your Heart Chakra~

1. Be love~ don't be a martyr, allow yourself to be loved, especially by yourself

2. Give love~ love others, love unconditionally and unselfishly and whether they are deserving of it or not

3. The grass isn't always greener~ like the quote says "comparison is the thief of joy", be happy with your lot

4. Practise yoga~ camel pose is a great one for clearing a blocked heart chakra

5. Forgive~ even if they are not sorry, let go of past anger, hurt, grief. Don't look back, you're not going that way.


I think that by trying my hardest to adhere to these pledges this week will definitely be a challenge, but it will help me to let go of certain things I don't need to carry any more and which may have been holding me back in my journey this far.

I'll be back next Monday to let you know how I got on.

If you read the first three words of the previous sentence and thought of Terminator then I love you and we should definitely be friends.


Friday, 12 July 2013

liebster honour part deux

I've had the lovely honour of being named by two beautiful Bloggesses for the Liebster award in the past month!

Big thank-yous to Melyssa and Joan for thinking of me~ *blows internet kisses*~ thank you ladies!

Am I cheating the internet if I do a second Liebster post? Will it give me detention and take away my blog?
I think I'll get away with it somehow and, seeing as it's all in the name of fun and supporting our fellow blogging comrades, I'm game for indulging in a little 'Round Two'  >.<

Seeing as I was nominated by two different ladies and have two sets of questions to work from I'm going to mix + match and choose a blend of my favourite questions to answer from both.

First, if you are unfamiliar with the Liebster Award, here is a little look at the rules:

1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

☽☽ the weird & wonderfuls ☾ ☾

1. I quit smoking 3 months ago. It's been surprisingly easy.
2. I can speak very basic conversational Korean and know a handful of Israeli insults.
3. I'm a Japanese anime geek. Love em. Love em all.
4. 'papillon' is my favourite French word and 'schmetterling' is my least favorite German word. They both mean butterfly.
5. I come from the same town as Kate Moss.
6. I'm a mean shot with a rifle (at the arcade).
7. A tarot reader predicted every major event in my life over the last 6 months.
8. I can wiggle my ears without touching them.
9. I'm an uncannily fast walker and have had arguments in the street with friends and partners because of this fact.
10. I have eaten locusts and pupa.
11. I did fire poi on a beach in Thailand when I was very drunk. In retrospect that wasn't a very wise thing to do.

☽☽ the Q + the A☾ ☾

1. Melyssa asked: "What's your favourite quote?"
I draw huge inspiration from quotes and have dedicated entire pinboards to motivational quotes and awesome truths on Pinterest. My favourite ones are usually simple, poignant messages of love and mindfulness. Just recently I received a lovely snail mail package from a reader who included this little gem for me:

I love this. Such a simple, honest reminder to be better. I have taped it up over my dresser.

2. Joan asked: "What made you start blogging?"
I'm glad this is one of the questions as I am often asked by family members why I am snapping pictures of my dinner and then have to explain about keeping an online blog and invariably becoming frustrated when I can't adequately justify to a non-blogger why on earth I want to make public the smallest details of my life.
I suppose there are a few reasons; first, I began blogging during my first year living abroad in South Korea and I thought it was a good way to keep friends and family back home updated on my life abroad without having to write the same things over and over again  in emails to different people. I've always loved to write so very quickly I began to really enjoy testing out my descriptive writing skill in different posts. Not only that but as I began to get readers and interact with them and with writers of other blogs I began to feel I was part of a small community of like-minded people; people ready to give support and feedback and encouragement no matter what little issue I was posting about. I think this is mainly what keeps me posting these days. Not to mention it's a trip to be able to look back over the last three years or so of my life and re-live the highs and the lows and the little memories and moments I may otherwise have let go undocumented and adrift in my memory. It's not for everyone, but it makes me happy.

3. Melyssa asked: "What 5 things make you extremely happy?"
Love (giving + receiving), yoga, being creative, travelling and eating good, nourishing food.

4. Joan asked: "Where's the best place you've ever been to?"
I love being asked this. For me it always induces a rippling effect within my memory; my mind sifting through image after image of the places I've been; like fanning the pages of a magazine.... the colorful landscapes and scenery, the beautiful people I've met, the sounds and smells, the foods I've tried, the markets and the jungles, the tents and train rides and stories told around an open fire.
One thing I can count on when I am an old lady will be the happy memories gleaned from travel.
The best place? I would have to say the Vivekenanda Yoga University in Bagalore, India where I lived as a student for a month. It was so liberating to walk barefoot and make-up free, practise yoga and meditation and purge and learn and walk the lush grounds and eat a vegetarian ayurvedic diet every day.
I would go back tomorrow if I could.

5. Melyssa asked: "What three words do you hope people will use to describe you at your funeral?"
Haha, such a self-indulgent question, I love it!

Kind,happy and unforgettable!

6. Joan asked: "Which dead celebrity would you bring back to life?"

7. Melyssa asked: "Without thinking about obstacles, what is the biggest dream you'd like to accomplish in your life?"
For as long as I've known I want children I've wanted to be comfortable enough to spend their early years at home with them. I can literally remember all the time I spent with babysitters because my parents had to go out and work. I would love to have the luxury of being a stay at home Mom until my kids reach school age.

8. Joan asked: "What's your guilty pleasure?"
Candy Crush on my iPhone. I'm on level 65.

9. Melyssa asked: "What would you do if you stepped in dog poo on the way to an important interview?"
New shoes! (any excuse ^.^)

10. Joan asked: "What's your favourite book?"
'The Magic Faraway Tree' by Enid Blyton. First published in 1943 and I'm still hanging on for a movie version!

11. Melyssa asked: "What was the best thing that happened to you this week?"
Puppy kisses after an out of town trip. Nobody can ever make you feel more missed than a family dog.

☽☽ my nominees☾ ☾

1. Maria @ I Believe in Story
2. Taylor @ Live and Move

3. Sondra @ Abhaya

4. Allie @ Call Me Sassafras

5. Freya @ Nishaantishu

6. Hillary @ The Painted Arrow

7. Sarah @ Floral Mountains

8. Madison @ Telling Oceans

9. Emily @ Some Girl- A Diary

10. Melissa @ The 25th Hour

11. Angie @ Lariats and Lavender

☽☽ my Questions to you☾ ☾

1. Tell me a joke
2. What would you change if you were President/Prime Minister for a day?
3. It's dinnertime, what are you cooking me?
4. Have you had any kind of mystic/spiritual experience (or anyone you know)?
5. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
6. What's your favourite childhood movie?
7. What's the wildest thing you've ever done?
8. Describe your perfect date.
9. What's the best gift anyone's ever given you?
10. Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or dragons?
11. Are you proud of yourself?

If you're still here, congratulations!! Now how about clicking through and saying "hi" to some of the sweet gals I linked to above?
Meeting new faces is a bloggers favourite treat  ^.^

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

What She Ate// By the Campfire

Here is my humble edition to Stacy from Let it Unravel's 'What She Ate' link up.
The theme this week was 'By the Campfire' and while I missed out on seeing the Rolling Stones at Glastonbury this year (boo) we have been having lots of barbeque weather here on the green emerald isle lately (yay).

So while I technically didn't cook this over a campfire, it was grilled and it is now your new favourite campfire/barbeque dessert.

Barbequed banana split stuffed with dark chocolate chunks, flaked almonds and coconut yoghurt.
The execution is the easy part, no method required here really, just barbeque the banana on each side for 5 - 10 minutes before splitting the skin and forking in the fillings.
Now, trying to capture a photograph of something like that which doesn't look like old turd was the real challenge in this scenario, haha!
{and one that I epically failed at, at that!}

But when you have sweet melted chocolate around your mouth and licking fingers still sticky with soft banana and coconut yoghurt you won't really care what the dish looks like.... because it tastes like heaven ^.^

Check out the other ladies who have contributed to this week's 'What She Ate' here:

Next edition is 'Baker's Choice' on July 23rd.
Why not join in the fun?

Monday, 8 July 2013

link party ♢ weekly wishes #3


Time for Round 3 of Melyssa's Weekly Wishes link party!

My last wish was centred around an application I posted for an online Nutrional Therapy degree course that I want to dedicate the next 4 years to.

Guess what folks, I got an interview >.<

SO, I guess my wish this week will be that I prepare well and pull off the Skype interview so that they respond with a big fat "hell YEAH lady, we want you on our course, come on down!"

 Or a simple "your application has been successful" will suffice too I suppose!

While it is scary putting my personal goals and dreams out there for all to see every week, especially the prospect of being unsuccessful and looking like a failure,  it is at the same time a great push to get myself out there and try extra hard. If I kept this to myself I possibly wouldn't be as motivated, comfortable in the knowledge that if I don't get it then it doesn't make a difference because nobody knew about it anyway. Writing about it keeps me on my toes, keeps me hungry, gives me that extra little fight to really step up to the challenge and achieve something good.

It's not too late for you to jump on the Weekly Wishes gravy train, if for no other reason than to happen upon some really awesome blogs. I've definitely gained a few new additions to my Bloglovin reading list from clicking and commenting on blogs in this link up. 

{{p.s ~ Google reader has officially shut up shop, so if you haven't made the switch already you can follow Stars in Jars on Bloglovin here ^.^}}