50 THINGS ABOUT ME (part 1)

In all the time I have been active in the blogosphere, I have never done a ‘things about me’ post, let alone a ‘5o things about me’ post (though I have shared quite a few random facts via Instagram post captions :P ). However I thought it was an opportune time to take the plunge and do so now. Yesterday was my birthday and although I am not one for celebrating the occasion with fanfare, I always take the time on my birthday (and New Year’s Eve) to reflect on my life and practice gratitude. My general aversion to over-the-top celebrating has absolutely nothing to do with a fear of getting older. In fact my life today is the best it’s been, I don’t regret my past and I look forward to the future. It’s rather that I don’t like potentially unrealistic expectations placed on any one day; that everything should be perfect, or at least that I am supposed to be “happy” in accordance with the customary birthday wish.

But, for the record, I was happy yesterday🙂 … and I am usually happy (or at least find things to be happy about) everyday. Things were actually rather perfect yesterday too, as I spent the day with my family, visiting a nearby town, getting treated to a beautiful specially cooked veggie meal at Freyja in Tucepi (thanks dad!), having a massage on the beach, and swimming in both pool and sea.

As a child, I believed I was unlucky on my birthday, that is before I realised that it was actually the expectation of how things “should” be that had me examining the minutiae of everything that went wrong with my day, thus preventing me from being grateful for what was amazing! To me, birthdays are a celebration of a person’s life… but it’s the actual “stuff” of that person’s life that really counts; the big, the little, the everyday. I have the same feeling about Valentine’s Day (i.e., that everyday should be a celebration of love). And I had a similar feeling when we got married, except it was amplified. I knew that our wedding day was special, but I didn’t expect it to be our one perfect “big day”. It was beautiful, no doubt… and it was fabulous to share it with others near and dear, but it was also one day of many days we would spend together. And, even as I prepared for the ceremony, I knew it was our actual life together that would really make our marriage, not one fairytale-ish day.

In any case, today seems a good day to share a little more about my life with you all.

Given the vast amount of randomness here, I have decided to split this post into two parts. And, by the way, I was tagged to participate in this blogging “challenge” by Cassie (aka superfitbabe) when I read her ’50 things’ post. So I’ll follow suit by tagging any interested parties who happen to be reading this post. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to join in and share your ’50 things’ via a blog/social media post too!

1

I was born in London and even though I moved to Australia at the age of 6, for many years I still felt British. I identified as such on a ‘heart level’ long after my British accent had been replaced by an Aussie one, and even after having been naturalised as an Australian citizen, a ceremony which ironically involved me having to swear allegiance to the Queen of England.

giphy (2)

2

Oddly, I began to feel incredibly Aussie only after having met my Swedish boyfriend (now husband).

"I met a strange lady, she made me nervous She took me in and gave me breakfast And she said, "Do you come from a land down under? Where women glow and men plunder? Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover"

“And she said, “Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover” – Men at Work

3

And even more strangely, after 12 years living in Europe, I feel more Australian than ever.

giphy (3)

4

I know I can’t change the past and that having regrets is wasting energy, but I do occasionally wonder what my life would have been like if I had applied myself a little more diligently to extra-curricular activities and school work. For example, I took dance, ballet and jazz ballet lessons as a child, but I wasn’t particularly motivated to excel and was probably the only girl in the ballet school who never practiced during the week. I only danced on Saturday mornings and had to be bribed with the promise of stickers (which I used to collect) to leave home.

giphy (5)

5

A few years later, however, you couldn’t drag me away from nightclub dance floors.

giphy (6)

6

Even though I wasn’t bullied by so-called mean girls in high school, I didn’t like them. And if I catch a whiff of ‘mean girl’ off of someone, to this day the rebel in me reacts adversely, even if I don’t express it outwardly.

giphy (8)

7

Once, when I was a little girl, my dad took me to a department store and allowed me to choose one toy. I chose a penguin that changed colour in the bath. I loved it and felt so happy that my dad had arranged a special day out for us. I took the penguin toy to church the next day and after the service an older boy who I had shown it to cornered me, aggressively pinned me to the wall and told me that I was a spoiled brat and that my family didn’t deserve what we had. The incident still makes me a little sad to this day… sadder perhaps that when I eventually decided to talk about it, I was dismissed as being overly emotional.

1_3f76766408d7db249d6a848ce2c21bf0

8

A couple of years after that incident, I attended a church camp with one of my best friends. It was organised by a different church and I bonded with a whole new group of friends. It was one of the most fun experiences of my early teens except for one sad factor. A male camp leader decided to target and harass me. He constantly tried to separate me from my friends, even locking me in a sauna with him at a swimming center on one occasion. My friends had to bang on the door and yell until he let me out. On another occasion he cornered me outside of a church hall and told me I was “exotic”. I was repulsed. For me, the word exotic translated as “strange”. I wanted to blend in. I wanted to look and be like everyone else… and not be targeted in such a way. I don’t know why my friends and I didn’t talk about the situation. I guess I felt ashamed that I had been targeted specifically and we probably all suspected that I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I did say something, especially as the harassment was verbal. It was one of several similar incidences that took place around the same time in my life. And even though I knew that there was something not right about the men involved, I also thought there was something not right with me. I don’t think it was about me in retrospect.

imgres

9

When I was growing up I felt weird.

giphy-4

10

I still do at times now, though I think it’s less obvious on the outside.

giphy (13)

11

And sometimes I actually truly embrace my quirks and see them as assets that have helped me both personally and professionally… and led me to have a very colourful life.

tumblr_inline_n0hjqeGmkQ1qaqxmm

12

I sometimes feel genuinely overwhelmed by my own sensitivity, my desire to fix the world and how insurmountable its problems are. It’s the main reason I tried to develop a tough facade as a teenager. I saw my sensitivity and my maternal instincts as HUGE weaknesses. Now I see those things as two of my greatest assets. Though they do mean I feel a lot of ‘feels’.

tumblr_luf691bfle1qm7166o1_500

13

And because I am emotional, my face often betrays my real feelings.

giphy (10)

14

I had issues when I was younger that I thought could be fixed by a change in circumstance/environment/relationship. I went from Melbourne to Seattle and within 24 hours I discovered that the same issues I’d had in Melbourne had followed me across the world. It really was the first time it dawned on me that everywhere I went I would take myself. And that I was the common denominator in all my problems.

tumblr_mnfwx3nT6w1rynk4uo1_250

15

I used to be make-up obsessed/addicted. When I was 18-19 years old, I thought I wanted to work with make-up as a profession and even studied to become a beauty therapist/make-up artist. It didn’t take long before I realised that it wasn’t really for me, but many years later I did end up working as an art director in the beauty industry.

giphy (11)

16

When Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef first aired on television, I knew that something big had just happened. I still believe Jamie is responsible for revolutionising the way young people (at least in Western society) look at food. My mum had cookbooks that I would flick through and very occasionally even cook from when I was younger, but I couldn’t for the life of me imagine wanting to hang out with any of those cookbook authors, let alone see them as fun/exciting people. Jamie, on the other hand… well, I thought he was kinda cool. I still do.

GIF-jamie-oliver

17

The strangest assortment of jobs I had was during the period between graduating from university and embarking upon a grand backpacking adventure. In order to save up as much money as possible in as short a time as possible, I worked morning shifts in housekeeping at a 5 star hotel (worst. job. ever… or rather, terrible management), afternoon shifts as a teaching assistant, night shifts as a waitress in an Indian restaurant (worst. pay. ever… or rather, dodgy boss) and, on the side, I sold glow sticks for festivals and was a guinea pig at a hospital research clinic where they tested my pain threshold for a scientific study by submerging my arm in freezing cold water and giving me electric shocks.

7212172_going-home-for-the-holidays-as-explained_4b3dbbbd_m

18

The worst jobs I have ever had have something in common: an out-of-touch, narcissistic boss in the midst of a midlife crisis.

tumblr_npfrk1xmJc1r9a32bo1_500
tumblr_o8byeopsB21qbydido1_500

19

One job I had at a marketing bureau was beyond stressful. I’m talking working a 21-hour day (with only a 30-minute break) and walking home in a snow storm to sleep for an hour… before heading back to the office to do it all again! And that was just my first day there. NO joke! The pressure and the craziness in that environment took such a toll on my health that I had developed a nervous eye twitch around the time I left, which was only cured by a trip to India (followed by a job at which I was treated a little better!).

tumblr_nmezooibGx1qk08n1o1_500

20

I love to draw (weapon of choice: black biro), but I’m scared to paint. Somehow, I think I would love it if I could get past my hesitance to try it.

giphy (1)

21

I love plants and yet somehow I have managed to kill every single one I have been given. I honestly don’t understand why this keeps happening.

giphy (7)

22

One of my most negative traits is caring too much what others think of me, and feeling a need to be ‘good’ and/or to ‘perform’. I care less what others think today than I have in the past, but I am a work in progress.

giphy (9)

23

Sweet potatoes. I love them. I could eat them with every meal. Some days I do. They form the base of my personal food pyramid.

tumblr_n892lfcvFv1tfgw9to2_500

24

If I go to a restaurant and there’s a veggie burger on the menu, I’m ordering it. No questions, no debates. I am a veggie burger fiend.

giphy (16)

giphy (15)

25

Before I really started to enjoy yoga, my first love was Pilates. I happened across a VHS tape (yes, this is an olden days anecdote) called The Method in a video store. I made a spontaneous purchase and started using it almost daily. My core strength and flexibility improved dramatically and my body retains a kind of “Pilates physical memory” to this day. Even if I haven’t done a class in two years, if I find myself in one, my body seems to just know what to do.

tumblr_mzalinlDja1sz59s2o1_500

26

I love essential oils and, perhaps baselessly, I credit a combination of essential oils, Pilates and belly dancing (yes, belly dancing) with keeping me relatively illness-free during my university years, which were fuelled largely by Red Bull, cigarettes and Starburst jelly babies. Later on in life (when I was healthier and far more balanced), I used aromatherapy oils during all three of my pregnancies. And when I reached full-term with my daughter, I even used the services of a professional aromatherapist and massage therapist to help induce labour naturally. I studied aromatherapy modules during the beauty therapy course (see fact number 15) and I would love to learn more about essential oils. Even though my husband is not entirely convinced of their efficacy, he is happy to support me as he knows it is something that brings me joy.

peppermint-face

27

In 2004, on a Trans-Siberian train at a border crossing between Mongolia and Russia at approximately 2am, a terrifying dominatrix-style, gun & whip (yes, whip) toting female soldier opened the door to our cabin and demanded to see my passport. She looked at me, looked at my passport, yelled at me in Mongolian and threw my passport back at me. I can only assume she was angered that the 20 layers of make-up I wore in my passport photo (taken when I was an alternative nightclub promoter) rendered me virtually unrecognisable. The scary female soldier ordered a male companion to strip our cabin. He went so far as to remove panels on the ceiling while another male soldier stood guard. They found nothing and we could only guess as to what they were searching for. Deeply annoyed, dominatrix soldier yelled again then stormed off followed by her two male counterparts, leaving us dazed and baffled. That same night, a fellow Australian on the same train was taken away to be interrogated over some trifling matter. We got off lightly, it seems.

giphy (14)

 

Part two will follow soon (when I am back from the beautiful Croatian coast and gifs don’t take 100 years to load due to dodgy wifi!). If there was anything mentioned in this post that you thought was particularly interesting and/or you’d like me to expand upon, drop me a comment.

In the meantime, love to you, thank you for reading this, and happy rest of the week!

❤ MM xx

KICKING SUGAR TO THE CURB (some myths busted + a giveaway spot on the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program)

**UPDATE** The competition is now closed and the winner was drawn fairly (live on Snapchat) and randomly using a random name picker tool. Congratulations @dromvittran and thanks so much for the interest everyone! I wish I could give you all a place on the program. For those who are interested in joining this round, it’s not too late to sign up. Click on the affiliate banner below for more info and I wish you all the best on your health journey.❤ Marisa x
If you’ve been here for some time, you are certainly aware of my sugar quitting  journey. If you’re new here, then here’s a little recap, followed by details for your chance to win a spot on the upcoming I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program (IQS8WP); the program I first completed over 2 years ago and have done several times since.

As I am on holidays and you no doubt have weekend plans that you’re keen to get underway, I’ll keep it simple and speak to a few points (and hopefully dispel a few myths) about cutting back on the white stuff.

Responses to FAQs & sugar-quitting myths

Not everyone quits sugar for weight loss purposes. There are those wanting to hop off the sugar high/sugar crash roller coaster (me), those seeking sustained energy (me), those with thyroid issues (me also), those with hormonal skin conditions (me again!) or a myriad of other reasons as to why reducing sugar consumption is a valid lifestyle decision.

There is NO calorie counting, no essential nutritional restriction, and no snake oil products involved with the IQS8WP. It’s about adopting a sustainable, balanced, wholesome lifestyle based around the consumption of delicious, mostly home-cooked, nutrient-packed real food in amounts that are truly sustaining.

You do not have to be a low-carb-obsessed meat-loving type to do it. In fact I rediscovered my veggie roots partly as a result of the IQS8WP. And, more surprisingly, my hubby went vegan while I was doing veg version of the program and cooking many of the meals for both of us.

You can eat bread. And I love bread (especially sourdough!). But you also have the opportunity to try out some pretty awesome grain-free/gluten-free bread and muffin recipes too.

You can eat fruit. There are stages in the program during which sweeteners of all kinds are kept to an absolute minimum and, yes, the naturally occurring fructose found in fruit qualifies as a sweetener too. But setting sweetness to the side is done in order to recalibrate your tastebuds, not to make you swear off all fruit for life. I don’t personally believe that everyone has “issues” with sugar, but if you’re a hardcore sweet tooth with an ability to mindlessly wolf down two desserts after a main course (that’s me!), then teaching your body to be more finely attuned to sweetness in all forms really helps long-term.

Chocolate is ok too! I eat it almost everyday, actually! And on the program you get to experiment with adding sweet foods back into your life without going mad about it.

You can do the program while pregnant and breastfeeding. Of course, DO check in with your doctor, midwife or other medical support people and always listen to your body. I first did the program while breastfeeding my daughter, I also did it (with modifications) while pregnant with our newest family addition, Oliver. You may need to add more snacks to boost your calorie intake (just as you might when pregnant or breastfeeding regardless of your chosen diet!), but if in doubt, you have support from a variety of medical and dietary professionals directly in the online forums who will answer any questions you may have as they arise.

If you travel (and can’t access a kitchen) or fall off the proverbial wagon, you can get back on. I have been there too. No shame in it whatsoever. Life happens. The good thing is that you can download and keep your recipes, shopping lists and meal plans. When you’re good to go again, simply refer back to them and get started… and reach out for support on the forums if needed.

I am writing this post in our gorgeous seaside apartment in Croatia… and the pool is calling to me, so I’m off to catch a little much needed holiday sun now. But if you have any questions about my quitting sugar experiences, drop me a line or feel free to read some of my old IQS-related posts (with weekly reviews of the food and my findings), such as this one or this one.

For the record, I asked someone at IQS HQ if it would be possible to give away a spot on the next program as I’d genuinely love for someone else to give it a go and benefit from it as I have. Participation in the IQS8WP includes all meals plans, recipes, shopping lists, weekly agendas, peer/community support via forums that are accessible 24/7, and professional support from an expert panel including medical professionals such awesome Doctor Rupy Aujla, psychologists, nutritionists, personal trainers (including one of my personal faves, Diana of Body Be Well). The program is valued at $150 AUD.

Read on for entry details if you’re interested in the next program. And have a fabulous weekend, all!

❤ MM xx

COMPETITION

If you would like the chance to win a spot on the upcoming round of the IQS8WP (beginning September 1), leave a comment below to express your interest, making sure to include your Instagram handle/name too if you have also entered via my Instagram post on the subject.

One comment on this blog post will count as 2 entries.

The winner will be picked randomly on August 29, 2016 at 8:00am GMT and this post will be updated accordingly.

 

f57485b6

EASY CHOCOLATE ORANGE BARK (a low-sugar alternative to Lindt Intense Orange)

A few weeks back, feeling like something a little more adventurous than my usual daily dose of plain dark chocolate, I decided to check out Lindt Intense Orange. The 85%-90% Lindt varieties are a staple in my home, so I have nothing against the brand, but was rather shocked to find that Lindt Intense Orange contains 17 g of sugar per 40 g serving, as opposed to 5 g in the 85% plain dark chocolate variety made by the same brand. But there were clearly two things absent from the plain dark chocolate; the crunch factor and the infusion of orange.

To recreate those things in a low-sugar way, I kept things very simple. So simple in fact, that I have time to share this recipe before we head to the airport to embark on our summer vacation.

Have a beautiful weekend, all!

❤ MM xx

MissMarzipan_lindt_chocolate_orange_bark

EASY CHOCOLATE ORANGE BARK

INGREDIENTS

60-100 g 85% dark chocolate
1-2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2-4 tbsp flaked almonds
A sprinkle of berry powder such as acai (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a flat-bottomed dish/tray with baking parchment.
  2. Melt chocolate using prefered method.
  3. Pour chocolate into lined tray and top with zest, almond flakes and berry powder if using.
  4. Pop tray in freezer for around 5 minutes or until chocolate has set.
  5. Break or cut chocolate into shards. Store uneaten chocolate bark covered in fridge or freezer.

 

30 MINUTES TO A VISITOR-READY HOME (an ongoing domestic challenge)

Have you ever heard the quote “You are your home”? Does it resonate with you in some way, making you feel warm and fuzzy… or slightly uncomfortable? We’ve been in the process of selling our home over the past few weeks and, amongst other things, it has meant a lot of cleaning, organising and sorting out and letting go. Interestingly, one of the recent points raised in the course that I am studying currently (more on that in another post), is the strong advocation of keeping your home in good order.

Today, as I made the beds one-handed (I was holding Oliver with my other arm), literally stopped to smell the roses on my windowsill and made myself a coffee the old-fashioned way (ground coffee beans + water boiled on stove + French press, as all appliances except for the Kitchen Aid have been stowed away), I thought, “I could happily live in this space… everyday!”.

I looked around this morning and realised I was about 15-30 minutes away from having a ‘visitor-ready’ home; one that, if a friend spontaneously called and said “I am in your neighbourhood. Mind if I pop around for a cup of tea?”, wouldn’t mean a panic stations-style domestic duties frenzy. Actually, in Stockholm it never happens that people spontaneously drop around (in fact, it is considered intrusive). Thus my happiness at the realisation was nothing to do with the possibility of a chance last-minute visitor. Rather, it was because we have made a conscious decision to give ourselves the same inviting, clear and clutter-free space we try to offer visitors to our home.

And this is so important. It is not about keeping up appearances and hoping we appear to have it all together in the eyes of others. It is about gifting ourselves the environment we deserve; a workable, livable, functional and enjoyable space… everyday. I suppose it is top of mind for me right now as I find myself on maternity leave, and my home is both my nest and my office.

Our mutli-purpose kitchen table, which serves as an extra kitchen workspace and office space

Our multi-purpose kitchen table, which serves as an extra kitchen work surface and office space

Having given birth to 3 children in a period of less than 5 years, I anticipated extra clutter, more mess and sticky little handprints on surfaces that would remain shiny in an ideal world. And so it is. This is why I am not aiming for ‘a perfect home at all times’. It is unrealistic… unless I aspire to run my home in the style of Captain Von Trapp (pre arrival of Maria), and my children and I are far too fun-loving for that.

giphy

 

In my experience there are two simple ways to maintain a home that’s in a ’30 minutes from lovely’ state at any time, and they work perfectly together. The first is to implement a declutter strategy (such as Peter Walsh’s 31 Days to Get Organized challenge) and the other is the simple practice known as ‘clean as you go’. The basic premise of a declutter strategy, such as the one Peter Walsh advocates, is that around 10 minutes per day for a period of one month should be devoted to clearing one area of your home. It could be your kitchen ‘junk draw’, or one wardrobe, or the area under your bathroom sink. Put all of these cleared out, organised little spaces together and, over time, you have an organised home, created with an investment of just minutes per day. Cleaning as you go is a no-brainer, but something that I had to train myself to do. Essentially it means, if you use it, clean it and/or put it straight back where it ‘lives’… and don’t wait until tomorrow to do it!

There will always be a few tasks on the go in a busy family home. As I type this I have folded laundry waiting to be put into drawers and another load of laundry being washed. There’s recycling that needs to be taken out and a hallway that could do with vacuuming when Oliver has woken from his nap. But all of those things amount to around 15 minutes of effort to achieve. And our current domestic goal (yes, my husband is just as onboard as I am) is to maintain just this: 15-30 minutes to a clean, clear home at any given time.

To reiterate, this is not about unrealistically striving for absolute perfection and thereby adding stress to our already busy lives. Rather, it’s the opposite; making things as easy and easy-to-maintain as possible with the purpose of living a lovelier domestic life. Clear space, clear mind (and all of that).

I will be sharing my experiences of the latest Peter Walsh 31 Days to Get Organized challenge soon.

In the meantime, do you have any strategies you like to implement to keep your home environment in check? I’d really love to hear about them!

❤ MM xx

30-MINUTE MOOD BOARD CREATIVE CHALLENGE (black & white)

The purpose of this post is simple. I receive many questions/comments about the subject of inspiration. If you saw my post about etiquette on social media, you know I believe that the more you exercise your creative mind, the “fitter” it becomes. I create mood boards ALL the time. In case you didn’t know, I’m an art director by trade, and a mood board is very often the first thing I will show a client/project manager to visually illustrate a concept before that concept goes on to become a campaign, book, logo or what-have-you. But I also create them just because I love doing it and have done so since I was around 9! They can be totally random and based on my actual mood, or inspirational, or even a visualisation/manifestation tool.

Yesterday, as I sat at my computer, an idea came to me. I happened across an image of a beautiful black and white pasta dish; not a black and white photograph, but an actual dish made of black and white ingredients. And I suddenly felt compelled to create a very quick and simple mood board with the theme “black and white”. I don’t exactly know why, but I gave myself 30 minutes to complete the task, finding images online that resonated with me in some way and worked together somehow. I randomly picked 4 categories based on the first four images that struck me, hence the images are grouped as ‘words’, ‘nails’, ‘food’ and ‘interiors’. But really, they could have been chairs, dresses, chocolates… or anything.😛 It was very important to me, however, that the images really spoke to me in some way… made me feel something.

MissMarzipan_30minute_moodboard_blackwhite

Image credits*, clockwise from top left: Jasmine Dowling, Jasmine Dowling, @bakenekonails, For the Love of the Southarchitectureblog.tumblr.com, ila-shop.co, @aliciatnails

My struggle in doing this simple, spontaneous exercise was not in finding images that appealed to my aesthetic sensibilities, but rather stopping myself from finding more. And I think this is reflective of the process of creative “nutting out”, as I see it anyway. You can just keep going… and going… and going. And one creative thought or flash of inspiration can trigger another. And before you know it you’re creating something new (or several new things in a row inspired by what came before).

And so, I am by no means saying that I am going to now rush out and create black and white food, however I do believe that creative thinking and working on personal projects can light little fires of inspiration that keep the creative wheel turning… even if connections between “inspo” and future-tangible/created-thing are very loose or abstract. This is one of the reasons why I am so active in the kitchen, my journals and on Instagram when I am on maternity leave. I feel a need to create… something… everyday. And the more I create, the more I am inspired to create.

Yes, I believe that as long as we are creating for the love of creating, the inspiration doesn’t wane. Unfortunately, however, forced creative activity on social media or in the workplace can start to drain the creative life force out of people. The pressure to make/post something (anything!), or to keep up with trends** or be visible and praised (when all you actually want to do is “your own thing”) can be true creativity killers. It can all start to seem awfully strategic and bulls****y after a while, and can hit sensitive, creative souls rather hard. I am surely not the only one determined to keep my creative fires burning and not let my true passions be diminished by chasing kudos or popularity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with moving up the proverbial career ladder or organic growth on social media. And, yes, progress can be motivating. But in itself, it is not inspiring. When it comes to Instagram, if the reliance on “motivation to create” springs from the belief that engagement is paramount, then anyone who uses the platform in this way is now in trouble automatically (unless they are prepared to pay for engagement***).

So, I continue to create, sometimes with purpose (such as paying my bills) and sometimes just because. Recently I have received so many comments and private messages on the subject of waning inspiration. And, as someone who would be out of a job if I wasn’t able to access my inspiration quickly, I realised I do have some techniques that foster grassroots freedom of expressive thought and are not about cheating algorithms, or beating “the system” (strategic game-playing is actually detrimental to creativity, in my opinion). I will continue to share some of the other creativity-nurturing things I like to do if anyone is interested. I haven’t thought about sharing them until recently, not because they’re any big secret, but rather because I do them unquestioningly and have for years (like mood boards).

I might post more of these mood boards if I/you/we mutually fancy. If you want to see some of my old visualisation ones, I post one every New Year’s Eve (here’s onehere’s another).

And if you want to snap yourself into creative mode in just 30 minutes or less, you are welcome to try this little challenge too. Let me know if you do! I’d love to see what you make and hear if it impacts you in any way.

❤ MM xx

 

*I do try to credit images used here. Sometimes it involves detective work if images are found on Tumblr or Pinterest, but I try.

**And this is why you haven’t seen avocado roses in the food I make. Not because I don’t think they are pretty or require serious avo skills to make, à la my friend Stephanie @jarsandbowls. And if you make them, I am not knocking you. There’s every chance you do it for the love of it and not because they’re en vogue. But I personally don’t feel inspired to do it – or anything – just because “it’s a thing”. The rebel in me predicts that, perhaps in a year or two when they’re no longer fashionable, I’ll try my hand at one and make my avocado-loving little girl very happy in the process!

***Which I am not.

EASY BAKED POTATO WEDGES (with a hint of garlic & thyme)

This is one of the simplest sides we do here at Marzipan HQ. Delicious savoury potato wedges; the perfect accompaniment to toasted sandwiches, veggie burgers and the like. And just as good served with a homemade sauce or dip of choice.

I used organic Swedish “delikatess” potatoes (of the red-skinned Cherie variety), but any good roasting potato will do. I recommend smaller ones for easy-to-cut small wedges… simply rinse/scrub, then quarter them. It couldn’t be easier!

Happy weekend, everyone!

❤ MM xx

MissMarzipan_baked_potato_wedges_garlic_thyme

EASY BAKED POTATO WEDGES

INGREDIENTS
900 g potatoes of choice
Olive oil (around 2-3 tbsp)
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder
Dried or fresh thyme
DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 225°C (fan).
  2. Wash potatoes and cut into wedges (no peeling necessary!).
  3. Toss wedges in olive oil in a large bowl and, if desired, sprinkle over a little garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Give the bowl a quick shake to make sure wedges are coated evenly.
  5. Tip the wedges onto a baking tray and bake them for 15 minutes.
  6. Check their progress. Give them a flip then pop them back in for another 15-20 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle over more salt and, if you like, some thyme.
  8. Serve and eat!

 

*This is another belated recipe post, first shared on Instagram many moons ago!

ACAI & BERRY PORRIDGE BOWL

This acai-boosted porridge bowl is a variation on my standard blueberry overnight oats. I used to tote overnight oats to the office in a mason jar before going on maternity leave. They were my go-to pregnancy breakfast option and toting was convenient, but I can assure you my shaken-around-oats-in-a-jar never looked pretty by the time I sat down to eat them at my desk! :P I have been intending to share this recipe for a while, but a little break in my day in between lunch, domestic duties and a hot yoga class, allows me to finally do so.

This delicious and fortifying breakfast features acai powder, berries and banana. In essence, I suppose it’s a hybrid of oatmeal and an acai bowl; the former being traditionally warm and the latter a popular frosty treat. But trust me, this combination works!

Before I get to the recipe, I have recently discovered a trick to making my acai purchases last longer. Use capsules! It’s a simple thing, but in capsule form acai stays fresher longer and retains not only its nutritional vibrance, but also vibrance of colour. If you make acai bowls and smoothies daily, then powder is fine. But if you don’t… well, I learned my lesson the hard way after discovering half a packet of stale acai that needed to be binned (I am not a fan of food wastage!). So now I am using capsule contents in my acai recipes. And when I have no time to make a recipe, I take the capsules with water. Easy!

Aside from tips and recipes, I have a few snippets of news I’d like to share with you all over the coming weeks. The first of them is that I am now on the team of contributors for the Swedish gluten-free magazine GF Glutenfri Matglädje, which is currently undergoing a big rebranding and will be hitting shelves in Sweden later this year. I won’t give too much away about my first article just yet, but I can state for the record that it involves simple and delicious, gluten-free, veggie “real food” recipes, time-saving tips… and family fun!

In other news, I am both thrilled and humbled to have a feature spread in the latest edition of THRIVE Magazine, which always features amazing food, interesting articles and excellent, thought-provoking interviews. The latest edition, however, is truly epic. It contains an extended showcase of recipes and features about plant-loving foodies around the world, including some of my absolute favourite people. Oh, and Annie Lennox and Russell Brand are in it too!

Friends in the US, THRIVE Magazine can be found at Whole Foods, Earthfare, Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Vitamin Cottage, Mothers, Central Markets, 42+ National Chains nationwide and more than 1000 co-ops (so no excuses to not get your hands on a copy if you are keen😉 ). Friends in Europe will be able to order copies online without subscription from this coming Friday.

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!

❤ MM xx

MissMarzipan_acai_berry_porridge_oatmeal

ACAI & BERRY PORRIDGE BOWL

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

100 ml quinoa oats (or plain oats)
200 + 100 ml almond or other plant-based milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 heaped tsp acai powder (or the contents of 4 Organic Burst acai capsules)
1 tsp blueberry powder* (optional)
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
3 tbsp frozen blueberries
1 tsp- 1 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)
1/2 a banana, chopped
Freeze dried* or fresh berries for decorating

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS
1/2 a kiwi fruit
Coconut flakes
Floral sprinkles*

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, combine quinoa oats, chia seeds, desiccated coconut with 200 ml plant-based milk.
  2. Add half of the chopped 1/2 a banana, sweetener if (using) and the frozen blueberries.
  3. Remove pan from heat when porridge is cooked and add 100 ml of extra milk, acai powder and blueberry powder.
  4. Mix well. Serve in a bowl with remaining banana slices and other toppings of choice.

 

* Nordic Nordic bilberry powder and add:taste dried berries and flower sprinkles.

ICED MOCHA MYLKSHAKES (with a superfood boost)

A customisable treat that anyone can enjoy, these frosty mocha shakes are a perfect pick-me-up, containing extra protein and superfoods for lasting energy and an endurance boost.

Originally created for the Food of Thrones theme of Redemption, I dedicated this recipe to the love-starved “black sheep” of A Song of Ice and Fire. And, while treats and comfort foods are not synonymous with love, there is certainly something about loving in the gesture of creating something special for someone dear.

So feel free to try this recipe… and share a delicious homemade-with-love treat with someone you care about.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends!

❤ MM xx

MissMarzipan_iced_mocha_mylkshakes

ICED MOCHA MYLKSHAKES
(with a superfood boost)

 

INGREDIENTS FOR MYLKSHAKE

300 ml plant mylk of choice (I used cashew)
200 ml cold coffee (I used decaf)
1/2 tsp organic vanilla powder
1-2 tsp organic maca powder (I used Organic Burst)
1 tbsp chocolate protein powder/superfoods mix* (optional)
Half a chopped chocolate protein bar of choice (I used Squarebars Chocolate Coated Crunch)
Approx. 250 ml ice cubes
+ 3 tbsp chocolate sauce (see below)

INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE SAUCE

3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp rice malt syrup**

FOR SERVING

Half a chopped chocolate protein bar of choice (I used Squarebars Chocolate Coated Crunch)
Edible flower sprinkles (I used add:taste)
+ remaining chocolate sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the chocolate sauce by simply combining all sauce ingredients in a small pan and heating through while stirring over a low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (it will thicken a little as it cools).
  2. Pour mylk of choice into a blender. Add the other mylkshake ingredients plus 3 tablespoons of the chocolate sauce (reserving the rest for serving). Blitz the mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Drizzle chocolate sauce around the inside of two large glasses then pour mylkshake mix into both.
  4. Top each drink with chopped chocolate protein bar of choice and edible flower sprinkles.

MissMarzipan_iced_mocha_mylkshakes2

* I used Your Superfoods Chocolate Lover Mix.

** For another vegan option, use maple syrup. To make it Paleo, you could also use honey instead of rice malt syrup.

MEETING MY FUTURE SELF (the most powerful visualisation exercise I have EVER done)

It’s not often that I get to prioritise writing a post immediately after deciding that it might be worth drafting. But when I mentioned this particular visualisation exercise on Instagram last night, I had quite a response of interest. As those of you who have been following my blog for a while will already be aware, I am a HUGE believer in the power of visualisation and meditation. Some of my most visited blog posts are on the very subject. All my experiences with meditation have been positive in some way. Most recently I have participated in Josefine’s Yoga’s meditation challenge (involving practicing a different meditation technique everyday for 21 days) and I am currently doing the latest Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Experience™, Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless life.

But the particular meditation experience I am writing about today is based upon a visualisation exercise that I did only one time, but it dramatically changed/informed the course of my life.

Around autumn 2000 in Australia, I attended a small event at a local community center in a suburb of Adelaide. The main focus of the event was meditation. I’d had some experience with meditation before, specifically guided audio relaxation techniques and open-eye meditation à la Sri Chinmoy.

To give you a little background to this story, I was extremely lost at the time, having just emerged from a period of self-destruction/living in dysfunctional relationships (but that’s for another post). In short, I was very young and had, through acting upon self-loathing, become very broken. But I was recovering and had begun walking on a healing path. I still experienced anxiety daily and unfounded fear was my constant unwanted companion. In hindsight I would also say that I was mildly depressed on top of everything, however having been thoroughly depressed (and diagnosed as such) not so much longer before, I didn’t quite recognise it at the time.
I had been on a cocktail of medications in 1999 prescribed to address the symptoms of depression and anxiety I suffered from. There are least 5 medications that I can recall off the top of my head, but there were possibly more. However, after 2 years of being diagnosed, reassessed and re-diagnosed, I had been taken off of all forms of medication upon the suggestion of my primary treating doctor under supervision in the hospital for which he was the director*.

It was now up to me to, with support, develop some skills and emotional tools to cope with “life stuff”. Meditation was one of the things that helped. And so, when my boyfriend at the time was invited by a family friend to attend a meditation event, I gladly went along. It may be coincidence, fate or something else, but regardless, certain things were revealed to me that day about paths I didn’t even know I wanted to take. I ended up taking them… and there is not a single thing in my life today (from my husband, to my children, to the fact that I live in Sweden) that hasn’t been shaped by these things.

So, are you curious to know how it works? To be honest, I still don’t know. But I can outline the basic exercise and you can try it for yourself. Then, if you are interested to know what I saw and what came to pass in reality, read on.

MEET YOUR FUTURE SELF

Completely from memory, the visualisation exercise we did was basically as follows (there may be details that I am missing as it was 16 years ago!):

Imagine yourself sitting in a comfortable quiet room, in a large comfortable white chair.

A screen appears in front of you and on it are projected numbers. Imagine those that you may have seen at the start of an old documentary. They count down, from 10 to 1.

10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…

Slowly your chair starts to rise off the floor, large glass doors on one side of the room open to reveal a peaceful natural landscape and your chair, with you comfortably seated upon it, slowly drifts outside.

Your chair starts to descend, then land, and you find yourself quietly observing your future self, exactly a year from now. You are happy, healthy and doing something that you love. What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? When you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 2 years into the future. Again you have the opportunity to observe your future self. Where are you now? What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? Do you want to talk to your future self? If so approach and ask a question of your choosing. Once you have the response and when you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 3 years into the future. Again you have the opportunity to observe your future self. Where are you now? What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? When you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 4 years into the future. Again you have the opportunity to observe your future self. Where are you now? What is it that you are doing? How do you look? How do you feel? When you feel as though you have taken in this scene, sit back in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise again and drift up and away to another place, 5 years into the future. This place is by a beautiful lake. Watch as the sun begins to set over the stunning landscape. As the moon appears in the sky, you see your future self. You approach each other, smiling and feeling at ease. How do you look? How do you feel?

As you stand together by the lake, the moon reflected in its water, you ask your future self one question. Now listen carefully. After receiving your answer, you say thank you, turn and walk back to your chair. You sit back down in your chair and relax.

Slowly your chair starts to rise and drift up and away. Your chair approaches a house and large glass doors open to allow your chair to drift into the same room you started your journey in.

Your chair starts to descend, then lands gently, and once again you find yourself sitting in a comfortable quiet room.

A screen appears in front of you and on it are projected numbers. They count up, from 1 to 10.

1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10…

Now slowly open your eyes and find yourself sitting comfortably where you are.

To end this experience and to solidify what you have envisioned, create a collage of images that help tell the story of what you saw or evoke the same positive emotions.

___

For those of you who are interested in what I saw when I did this visualisation exercise myself, here are a few of the things that really stand out in my mind.

I saw myself one year in the future, wearing a smock (such as an artist would wear). I was standing in the courtyard of a place that was my own. At the time I had only ever lived in arguably chaotic share housing situations post moving away from my family home as a teenager, with up to 6 others in the same household. As a result of poor lifestyle choices on my part (and, arguably, many with whom I resided), there was always the possibility of losing a lease, and security in all forms hung precariously in the balance. In my visualisation, however, it was my name on the “important papers”, I didn’t have 6 housemates to be concerned with and everything was peaceful. It was a sunny day, warm and mild. There was a canvas on an easel and I was painting. I was smiling, I was focused on what I was doing and I was calm.

Not long after doing this meditation, upon deciding that tertiary education was something I might like to pursue, I was using the SATAC tertiary course guide as a flip book, unsure of what I was meant to study. I stubbornly (perhaps foolishly) determined that whatever page I landed on would be the course I should look into. I let my thumb stop flicking on a random page, opened the guide and read the words “Bachelor of Visual Communication”. As I read the course description, every fibre of my being knew I was meant to do that course. My guidance counselor thought otherwise and advised me against full-time study on account of my history (she thought I’d be too fragile to take the course or indeed any form of further study). In any case, I battled through the anxiety I still had and sat the university entrance examination. My result secured me a place in my chosen course in art school.

In high school my results had been rather mediocre for most subjects (with a couple of exceptions for classes I loved) and I was generally not a particularly motivated student. My university years, however, were some of the best I have had, both in terms of how I felt and how I performed academically. I discovered passions I didn’t know were there (such as an interest in corporate design), I won the award for best first year student, made the Dean’s Merit List every year, and graduated with the highest GPA in my course and a traveling scholarship to Japan. I also met my husband, a Swedish exchange student, during my second year of study. And I was finally living in a place that was my own.

During another stage of the visualisation I saw myself on a tropical beach, wearing a bikini and eating tropical fruit. Being raised in Australia, I was no stranger to beaches… except I didn’t frequent them, didn’t consider myself a “summer person” and would have balked at the thought of wearing a bikini. This beach was not in Australia. It was somewhere I had never been and somewhere that I would not have been interested in visiting at the time I did the meditation (I was an urban dweller, not a “nature girl”). The thing that actually shocked me was that my future self felt so incredibly comfortable in her own skin. She was literally glowing (tanned, even!), she was not self-conscious in the slightest and looked so happy, healthy, calm… and unlike me.

Fast forward a couple of years and my boyfriend (now my husband) and I travelled to New Zealand to renew his Australian visa. A friend from Auckland met us in the backpacker hostel where we were staying and, we happened to see a pamphlet in the reception area for a backpacker boat (60 Fijian dollars per night, including food, drinks and activities). On a whim, our friend suggested that we meet in Fiji to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2003/04. And so, just months later, we did. Prior to leaving, I realised I was in need of a bathing suit and picked up a bikini (my first) on a last-minute shopping trip. We extended our New Year’s trip to include an island visit and, one morning, sitting on the beach on the island of Kuata, eating fruit in my bikini, I thought “I have been here before”.

barefoot-island-lodge

Image © tripadvisor.com**

There is a final stand-out memory I have of the visualisation. I saw myself in a land of green fields, abundant nature, space and lakes. I knew it was somewhere in Europe, though not anywhere I had been before. It was a cold land, but I saw my future self on a cool summer’s evening. I watched the sun setting and the day turn to night before my future self appeared on a hill and almost glided over to meet me. She was even more calm and serene than my other future selves had been. We walked down the hill and came to stand side by side by a still black lake, stars twinkling overhead, lush green hills all around us. She looked at me with a knowing kindness. She knew what I was going through and I knew she felt compassion, but not pity.

After a short time I asked her one question.

“How did you get here?”

“I lived every moment to the fullest.”, my future self responded, smiling kindly.

big_thumb_277a8d4e9bfcf31f0b564974fc9274a5

Image © wallpaperup.com

___

*This account of my experiences is purely anecdotal and shared only to provide a background to the meditation experience itself. If you have a diagnosed illness, mental health-related or other, I implore you to seek professional support if you’re even considering abandoning a prescribed medication protocol. The reason I was able to stop taking the medications I was prescribed was that 1) I was misusing medications and therefore they were doing more damage than good 2) It was determined that I didn’t have any kind of neurological imbalance, but rather needed to accept greater personal accountability and find strategies to cope with life and the issues I had. Medication was not going to help me be more responsible for my own life. But there are absolutely times when medication is crucial. This is not an “anti-medication” post. And everyone is different.

**This was the actual beach I saw myself sitting on during the visualisation. And where I ended up almost 3 years later.

BAKED BANANA “FRITTER” SPRING ROLLS & BANANA CHOCOLATE “CREPE” SPRING ROLLS

You may wonder why the words “fritter” and “crepe” appear in the titles of these recipes (and in quotation marks). The first variation is clearly not a fritter at all, as the banana is neither battered or fried, and the second variation is clearly not a crepe. Rather, both are inspired by food memories of mine involving banana fritters and crepes respectively.

Plant-based and low-sugar, both options are baked in the oven and ridiculously easy to assemble. It is not my intention to spam you with dessert spring rolls, but they are in hot demand at Marizpan HQ, and so we are constantly coming up with new versions.

When I was growing up in Australia, at least once a week we visited Chinatown as a family. Are you familiar with the ubiquitous fried, syrupy bananas with ice-cream served in many a Chinese establishment? Yes, those ones. Well, I loved them. Actually, I still love the flavour combination, but it goes without saying that they are far from healthy. I had the notion to try out a version of dessert spring rolls that might replicate the flavour of those battered, fried, sugary bananas in a slightly more wholesome way. I am thrilled to say that, not only are these the easiest dessert spring roll version I have made thus far, but absolutely delicious too.

I implore you to serve them with vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of maple or rice malt syrup (if only for the sake of flavour balance “authenticity”😀 ). My creamy cashew-based custard would also work for a less sweet option.

The second version was an attempt to recreate the flavours of my favourite treat when we were in the south of France in 2010 during my pregnancy with Louie; chocolate and banana crepes. Again, I am happy to report recipe-testing success!

Please feel free to do as I did and make a double batch (one of each version!) and do let me know which is your favourite!

And don’t forget, if you’d like a simple how-to guide, see my quick DIY Dessert Spring Rolls video on Instagram.

Thanks to the generosity of some dear friends, we have just returned from a wonderful weekend in the countryside spent bathing, picking berries in the forest, eating far too much comfort food (I literally had veggie burgers and sweet potato fries twice in one day), exploring and having lots of rest, chats and cuddles.

Returning to the city, my heart is heavy with sadness, not because our little vacation is over (we are very thankful for the time we had), but rather over recent tragic events both near and far. I will be prioritising meditation tonight… and trying to ground myself in gratitude for the things that are right with the world in the midst of all that seems wrong.

❤ MM xx

MissMarzipan_banana_fritter_springrolls_lg

BAKED BANANA “FRITTER” SPRING ROLLS

Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

1 large banana, sliced
75 ml walnuts, crushed (optional)
3-4 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
6 sheets dairy-free filo pastry
50 ml olive oil
Syrup & vanilla ice-cream of choice for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 180°C fan.
  2. Place one sheet of filo on a clean surface. Brush the entire sheet lightly with oil and place a second sheet over it. Pat across the surface lightly with your hands to smooth out.
  3. Cut the double filo sheet in quarters, widthways.
  4. Lightly brush the sides of each pastry strip with a little oil.
  5. At the top of each strip of pastry, add 3-4 slices of banana and a sprinkle of crushed walnuts if using.
  6. Roll the top section over the once, then fold the sides in too, before continuing to roll all the way down, creating a secure filled pastry parcel. Repeat the process.
  7. Place all the spring rolls on a baking paper lined tray, leaving a little space in between each one. Brush each roll lightly with oil. You can sprinkle the sesame seed on at this point, or you can toast them lightly and serve them on the side as an optional “sprinkle”.
  8. Bake for 20 mins until golden and crispy.
  9. Serve warm, preferably with ice-cream and syrup.

 

MissMarzipan_banana_chocolate_springrolls_lg

BAKED BANANA CHOCOLATE “CREPE” SPRING ROLLS

Makes 12

INGREDIENTS

1 large banana, sliced
4 squares (30-40 g) dark chocolate, chopped
75 ml flaked almonds/chopped toasted hazelnuts (optional)
6 sheets dairy-free filo pastry
50 ml olive oil
Whipped coconut cream or vanilla ice-cream of choice for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 180°C fan.
  2. Place one sheet of filo on a clean surface. Brush the entire sheet lightly with oil and place a second sheet over it. Pat across the surface lightly with your hands to smooth out.
  3. Cut the double filo sheet in quarters, widthways.
  4. Lightly brush the sides of each pastry strip with a little oil.
  5. At the top of each strip of pastry, add 3-4 slices of banana, some chopped chocolate and a sprinkle of nuts if using.
  6. Roll the top section over the once, then fold the sides in too, before continuing to roll all the way down, creating a secure filled pastry parcel. Repeat the process.
  7. Place all the spring rolls on a baking paper lined tray, leaving a little space in between each one. Brush each roll lightly with oil. You can sprinkle the sesame seed on at this point, or you can toast them lightly and serve them on the side as an optional “sprinkle”.
  8. Bake for 20 mins until golden and crispy.
  9. Serve warm or cold. If serving cold, an extra drizzle of dark chocolate over the top of each roll looks lovely.