24 reasons to be grateful this December

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Happy December folks! How exciting is it that we can actually talk about Christmas now without any hesitations? Three weeks filled with Christmas lists, Christmas making and Christmas baking. The art to all of this chaos though is to have a slow December. To take a step back from the utter chaos Christmas evokes and enjoy what December should be. The month with the most daylight hours, the possibilities are endless.  It’s not just the physical day of Christmas that is like the sea to me, in fact the day itself is always such a blur of good food and good sleep. It is the days leading up to the great Noel in which I find the most excitement.

Traditions are a big part of December. Growing up we never had many December traditions. the awesome thing about carving your own path in life however, is that you get to make your own.

Last December we filled the lounge with peonies. This year I think it will be mistletoe.  Last year we had a house to ourselves but this year we are going to be surrounded by family. Last year we hiked up a hillside on the outskirts of Wellington and subtly  chainsawed down a group of potential decoration bound pine trees. Last year we had tinsel, this year I’m going to give that over stuffed box away and attempt to make dainty gold egg shell decorations.

Never again shall I indulge in chocolate advent calendars, tinsel, fairy lights and cheap Christmas decorations. I will however, always watch all the Home Alone movies, write lists of things I am grateful for and raid the library, book stores and favorite blogs for Christmas recipes that aren’t Christmas puddings. I will try to fall in love with Christmas pies and ignore the fact that I am dairy intolerant. This year we are going to visit Christmas markets and press into meaning instead of quantity. We are going to celebrate the gifts that are too big to be wrapped up with a bow. A summer together, an almost finished house and an overwhelmingly exciting future.

December for me is also a really beautiful time to be grateful. To awake with a thank you on my lips and at the end of the day a thank you on my pillow. To know that although this time of year can be really hard there is beauty in the community found in December. So I have decided to record 24 things I am grateful for this December. I have dedicated a small portion of my blog to this little list which you can find in the menu at the top of the page. It’s titled ‘December’.

Mondays Wholefoods biased Tahini Tart review

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To celebrate this wonderful gift and appreciation of Whole food that Mondays has given me and my determination to make more mess in the kitchen (see previous post), I wanted to share a handful of posts over the next couple of days on a few of the things I will miss the most about Mondays. The first of those being the beautiful Tahini Tart found in the summer Mondays Journal. You can find the recipe in those pages and swoon lovingly at the pictures below.

Many a raw dessert pile into the cabinet as the ivy lazily wakes to the sunlight creeping down the steep driveway hidden away in Kingsland. The all time favourite Bounty Bar, the trendy Matcha & Mint Cheesecake, the Healthy Raw Carrot Cakes and my secret favourite the Salted Caramel Cakes. But the subtle and often overlooked favourite of the beautiful bunch would have to be the Tahini Buckwheat Tart. Tahini is ground sesame seeds, and buckwheat is a grain whose origins can be found in the middle east. Before working at this fine little establishment I had dabbled in neither. Nowadays my go to meal is a buckwheat risotto, and tahini can be found in almost all my salad dressings.

This tart can be made in any shape or form and is super simple to make even for the clumsy and anxious hearted. It has a soft, subtle creamy taste, which at first in interesting but after the second nibble will leave a permanent memory upon your tongue. It is not particularly sweet but has a very quiet after taste of honey.

Candied nuts and a chocolate sauce / gauche roofs this tart and although it doesn’t show it here, would look sweet with a few flowers sprinkled over the top. It is definitely a Spring + Autumn recipe for me but lovingly made it would taste divine in any season.

A short and only a little bit of a sweet blog post but a big tribute to one of my favourite things about this once home café. I’ll post a few more things about Auckland before I hit the road down to my first love (Wellington) shortly.

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The best thing working at Mondays Wholefoods has taught me.

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This week brings my last week in Auckland for the year. It also means the bitter sweetness of my last few days at Mondays Wholefoods. Its crazy how a little establishment and its philosophy can have a permanent influence on one’s life.

My twenties have very clearly become my ‘growing’ years. I am slowly but surely painting who I am, what trades I like to dabble in, the people I wish to surround myself with, the faith I wish to hold close and what artesian values I wish to weave into my life.

Whole food and the beauty of creating is one of the small things that this year has taught me. ‘Wellness’ is a term which has been hyped up by the media and creative industries a lot recently, but it has also made home in my heart. Working at the ivy covered sanctuary and being surrounded by creative chefs, bakers and genuine people has given me a dusty window into this hidden world and it has been a world I have timidly began stepping into. The beauty of never before heard of ingredients, the mountains of brilliant minded cook books which I do believe hold the secret to happiness, the ability to press, mould, decorate and create food which belongs on the tables of kings, queens and children alike, are like summer in a long drizzly winter. I know that working in hospitality can get incredibly mundane and tedious but I hope these types of people get constant reminders that they are creating something incredibly worthwhile.

I have mentioned before that being in the kitchen terrifies me, makes me nervous and causes me to have to spend half an hour getting acquainted with the recipe before actually making a move towards the pantry. I am happy to announce that this is slowly changing. I am more comfortable when left in peace to make mistakes by myself, but regardless even a busy kitchen is still slowly becoming a place of creative excitement for me.

Working in the wholefood + wellness industry, I am constantly surrounded by incredible women who are taking the social media world by storm and who post beautifully crafted, scrummy food and their recipes online daily. Unfortunately that will never be me as I lack the talent, commitment and the patience to take photos of my food before I eat it. I do want to however, begin posting my trials and triumphs in the kitchen.

So as you stumble upon a recipe post once in awhile, be warned I am a rookie in the kitchen but am simply trying my hand at doing justice to the beautiful vegetables, plants and poultry gifted to us from this land.

 

 

The humble life of Fermented Tea

Okay Okay I know I’m one of the last souls in the health world to wander on board with this newest custom but to be fair I’m not really in the inner circle of health-wellness all-rounders, more timidly walking around the edge trying to grasp the meaning of thing’s like Probiotics, Ayurvedic, Agar, Aquafaba, Matcha and Kripalu Yoga. But I have recently began dabbling in the unobtrusive and humble little brand of fermented tea by daily organics, whose design and packaging looks like it could double as a candle company.

I’m not entirely unaware of this new well-crafted beverage. Organic Mechanic Kombotcha have been on the shelves at Monday’s Wholefoods for years and have recently gained a neighbor in Banjo Brews Kombotcha which trifles with flavors such as, blueberry, elder-flour, ginger, lemon and verbena. Although my taste-buds are somewhat educated my stubborn tastes weren’t entirely swayed until I tasted daily organics knack of the trade.

I have become accustomed to two out of the presented flavors and would almost suggest a daily dose of either. The Winter Kombotcha-Chai Spices and Ginger is subtle, sweet and tastes like cinnamon and sunflower seeds. The Original Kombotcha tastes like ginger beer intertwined with tea leafs, which is pretty much how I would describe the taste of the drink in general.

I have yet to tamper with the handful of other flavors daily organics have lovingly crafted but I am somewhat sure I wont be disappointment.

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I’m quitting university

I’m quitting university is something I have I have whispered to myself as I eat assignments for breakfast and drink research papers for tea. But a few days ago I handed in my final assessment for the year and it feels wonderful.

University is a mixed bundle of emotions. Learning is not particularly smooth sailing, there are no foolproof rules. Sometimes it comes easily and naturally, other times university is like drilling a rock.

Regardless I feel incomparably grateful to be living in a country in which I am at liberty to study whatever I please. I still recognize however, that not everyone has the means or support to do so. I do not think I will ever know the true extent to what my parents have sacrificed to support my adventures in life thus far. I do know however that when at times this year I have felt overwhelmed, hollow and sometimes as empty as the space between the stars my parents have poured out their love and support unconditionally and without relent.

One more year down and one more to go and then university will be like the rooftop views from my first year apartment balcony, no longer mine. They will belong to yesterday. But for now I am going to commit myself to the east and to the west of both my cities, lazing on beaches, reading stacks of books that aren’t research articles. I am going to laugh so that my laughter rattles of the wooden floors of my home and I am going to drink in the reckless abundant air of summer.

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I have sixty-eight tattoos

Someone I once knew used to joke and say tattoos are not of the God, you’ll get into Heaven no doubt, but the parts of you which are tattooed will not. This would always make me laugh, it is incredibly absurd and entirely unjustified, yet still it makes me giggle. And then I went and got sixty-eight tattoos.

Last week someone who I currently know, posted a beautiful piece of writing about the whimsical and heartfelt individuals behind her indelible ink. The people she wrote about were strangers to me but she articulated the meaning behind a simple phrase so accurately and beautifully that they felt like mine, even if it was just a borrowed memory.

She also gave me the idea to write about my tattoos. About a year ago I got sixty-eight freckles scattered and tattooed all over my front and my back. They are sprinkled across my stomach like fairy bread, dotted over my chest, collar bone, shoulders and lower back. They were no easy feat, two tattoo artists turned me down and the correct shade took a while to find, every different freckle has a unique pigment and colour after all.

It was an odd request I admit but simply put, I think freckles are incredibly beautiful. Growing up in the summer I remember sitting on the faded carpet and watching as the sun danced upon my mothers skin, the constellation of beauty spots & freckles were like a million solar systems to my tiny mind. I was thoroughly disappointed when I realized that my mother had not passed this on to me. My skin was bare, as pure and as silky as milk.

So although at the time my body looked like a thousand bees had mistaken me for honey, and the tattoo artists thought I was slightly odd. I cannot wait to sit in the sun with bare shoulders and dream about the hundreds of worlds painted on my back.

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The art of being indecisive

There is no art in being indecisive, there is no carefully thought out pattern or trodden path, no detailed map. Being indecisive is chaos, a whirlwind of potential windows, dreams, dead ends and opportunities. And for all the best parts of me I cannot seem to shake this inability to make and stick with a decision. It’s woven into my personality like a hall way of unwanted guests. You have simply to gaze upon the diversity of book genres claiming home on my book shelf to understand that this personality trait has been my longstanding companion.

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Certainty seems merely a vanishing thing, my world is singing of potential paths, possible outcomes, relationships, friendships. I am constantly changing my mind. Take summer for instance, I have changed my mind atleast four times in regards to where I will call home this summer. I make the decision to stay in Auckland and then all of a sudden my heart aches for a summer spent at Castle Point moseying down the streets I know like the back of my hand and being surrounded by familiar love, so I change my mind. And hen I change it back again and decide to stay in the big city of Auckland to discover new beaches, learn to surf, surround myself with friends who shine, and celebrate a summer with them. A few hours later and I am back where I started listening to the hundreds of voices in my heart which tumble along like a river.

Where in the world is that gut feeling, the feeling they tell you about, the when you know you know thing? There’s a fearlessness I envy in the ability to make a well reasoned choice and stay happy with it. So because my stomach is constantly in a state of Monday Mornings, I decided to do a fair bit of research on why it is I am constantly confused with my future.

I have been learning to measure each word, sentence and piece of information I read based on the weight of my understanding and heart feeling, and this is what I have come to understand about the art of being indecisive. Indecisiveness is about risk taking, self doubt, personal comfort level and the fear of being wrong. The fear of making the wrong choice, of missing out on the opportunities left behind. I have written the following on the back of my hand so I may learn these steps by heart before I can say I know anything like the back of my hand. So here they are, the notes I will begin to put into practice.

Understand & make peace with your fears. What is the worst that can happen, and if that happens how will you hold yourself and the situation? Nothing is as bad as it seems. Be the author of your own two feet. Nothing leads to indecision faster than letting your actions be guided by the desire to impress or satisfy others. Time brings clarity. This is probably my biggest problem, I make decisions fast and fearlessly and do not often think of the consequences. It is okay to sit with your options, haste is not a necessity. And lastly and of heart importance, understand your expectations, who you are and what you expect from yourself and from your life and where this comes from.

My life is simultaneously too graceful and uneven. My life is overflowing in blessing and yet I am constantly hitting walls in personality, well being and the expectations I hold for my adventures. But I will continue to look at the back of my hands, and remind myself to slow down, to ignore the pressure to make haste and remember that quiet minds are less likely to encounter misfortune and that my life won’t always feel like a clock during a thunderstorm.

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