Sunshine, soup and some laughter.

This week I am greatly grateful to the loved ones in my life. Friends, family, the other half, clients and gorgeous puppies alike have made a rather frustrating, pain filled week one full of laughter, hugs, home cooked meals and spontaneous dancing. I am so grateful for the strength you have given me. Its a long time lesson I have learnt to let down barriers and let people in. What a gift I have given myself to have learnt that lesson. For those of you out there that also struggle with this .. I encourage you to let the sunshine in.

Now a little bit less ‘hippy heavy’… with spring (and sunshine !) now here my mind just keeps wondering to one thing … summer tomatoes. As a gardener and plant-based loving foodie they are literally the highlight of my year … Not to mention the health benefits. Tomatoes are full of vitamins like B6, C, K,and potassium. They even have some muscle loving magnesium too ! The phytonutrients in tomatoes have been linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer. So definitely a perfect fruit/veg to enjoy.

Sadly, these days I cannot eat tomatoes everyday … my poor tummy and joints don’t allow that much nightshade in my diet (much to my reluctant realisation). Yet of course they are my favourite. Nothing beats a home grown summer tomato … honestly my living in Italy has spoilt me for life !

Here in Australia though we are lucky .. even in the spring you can get a decent tomato … all be it a little more pricey .. and yes it pays to be picky. I always keep them on the window sill to ripen even further in the sun … and whether in my mind or not, I am sure they taste better for it. This soup though has been born from a favourite in possibly the most used cookbook I own (Green Kitchen Stories), a lot of experimentation and a very desperate me to put the taste of summer in a still hearty spring soup !

The real key this spring soup is to have those early tomatoes nice and ripe ( I go for the smaller ones and organic where possible) , paired with the best of late winters’ cauliflowers and you are still meeting your seasonal needs … !! I think this one would also work well in early autumn to use up that last load of less than pretty tomatoes and early season cauliflower. Either way it is delicious, easy and relatively budget friendly. Whilst being gluten free, dairy free and vegan and having a decent hit of protein. Who said eating well had to be boring ?!

Spring Roasted Tomato, Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup

Tomato, cauliflower and chickpea soup

Ingredients

1 kg ripe tomatoes, halved
1/2 cauliflower, cut in to small florets
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 heaped tsp of smoked paprika
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with a knife
2 tbsp olive oil
5 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves picked
Large Handful of Basil, Leaves picked and stalks chopped
1 tbsp and apsv 1/2 lemon juiced
1 can of cherry/roma tomatoes (best quality you can afford )
Chilli infused  olive oil (optional)
2-3 cups of water.
Himalayan Salt and Pepper.

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (400 Fahrenheit/gas mark 6)
Add cauliflower, tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic, basil stalks, oregano and garlic. Season and toss well with olive oil.
Pop in oven for an hour or until tomatoes and cauliflower are blistered.
Add can of tomatoes, apsv and then blitz in food processor until smooth. Add in water until desired consistency.
Freeze, refrigerate or gently heat with half the reserved basil. Taste and Season.
Serve with reserved basil, chilli oil and sourdough smeared in a good butter or smashed avocado. Yum !

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The epiphanies of turning 30 …

So yes … my last blog post was August last year. It is now June 2015 …. that is nearing the year mark.

First of all, love of my life number two, Oscar the Pugalier …. has been the most wonderful learning curve. That pup will forever believe he is human and dictate which walking route we take each evening. He just celebrated his first birthday !

The other half ( love of my life number one ) got his first big promotion after a lot of hard work. He loves his knew role and I can see his passion each day when he shares his thoughts with me. I am excited for him and know how good he is in his new role.  I cannot wait to see where this takes him. So inspirational.

Myself .. ? I got sick .. really sick. Weeks after my last blog my health declined, weight dropped .. and I could barely wait each day until it was time to go back to bed. It was hard to care beyond what I had to do. Then I ended up in hospital with stupid low potassium levels ( that stuff is painful to replace .. think acid in your veins ) and weird spiking/dropping sugar levels that caused pretty scary seizures. Yup .. 2014 didn’t quite deliver the healthy self I aimed for.

Then came our Bali and Lombok ‘escape Christmas’ holiday … which I went on despite dubious doctors thoughts .. and goodness did that trip heal me. No longer was I sickly Cheryl.  Suddenly we were taking leisurely breakfasts, walking the beaches, taking yoga and mediation classes and sampling the best Indonesian fare .. whilst truly staying in some amazing hotels and boutique resorts. We reconnected with each other .. and ourselves. Here came epiphany number one .. Doctors are not always right. My interest for natural healing and holistic nutrition doubled.

On a side note … I will post about some properties I have stayed at in Bali and Lombok over the last year … I urge you to try these properties, they are so different and unique each way I feel that at least one will resonate with your holiday self … if not all, like me ! Bali is so much more than a cheap getaway for Australians. Indonesia is a very special place to visit – I encourage you to embrace all it has to offer !

Sadly my return home saw my health decline again .. and truly it got me terribly depressed .. and grumpy !!  That centred being with glowing skin ( It really was .. ) that walked off the plane from Bali disappeared almost completely in a matter of a month. What can you do when you can’t even keep your social plans ? I was back to doing the bare minimum … work, eat, sleep. It felt like the walls were closing in again … Doctor after doctor just sent me to the hospital. Miserable … with a capital ‘M’.

It didn’t help that this year I was turning 30 and felt my life was slowly sliding backwards instead of piloting forwards. Where was my high flying career ? Where was my success .. my pulitzer prize, my New York Times review … ?! Ok, I got carried away. Truly though, I once had dreams … and I was back to hoping I could just make it to work for the day .. and through that day for that matter. I didn’t see the point in setting goals or having dreams .. what was the point if you could never reach/achieve them ? I once was a high achiever .. and yet my ‘gumption’ had gone.

Then one day early May I woke up .. and epiphany number two hit . Now this could very well be that our new mattress and pillows finally meant a proper nights sleep or.. that my regular physio sessions were magically helping with my joint and neck pain management .. but I think my mind just shifted. I have become comfortable in my own skin – and isn’t that the magic of growing older ? I am not just my illness. I achieve things every day. I have travelled the world .. experienced many wonderful cultures and will do so till my dying days. I am ok with who I am .. because I have grown and continue to seek ways to do so each day. I strive to be good to others and myself.

With that in mind I felt like I could begin to Blog again. I want this blog to be what I set out it to be. A place of mindfulness, exploration, growth and love of life … now I feel it can.

Sooo here it is .. my new commitment to what is Missy Bluebird. It is not about finding happiness over the rainbow .. its is about enjoying life and marvelling at the beauty, rather than focusing on the battles. I think with this we can all live over that mythical rainbow ! Now … They say things come in threes … so I look forward to epiphany number 3 because its sure to be a cracker !

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It is a Pugalier’s Life

So I have a new man in my life .. and I am in love … Puppy love after all is endless love.

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Posing in the sunshine !

 

Our wee Pugalier pup arrived all the way from his NSW breeders on the 8th August and our lives changed ! From the moment he looked at me calmly from his flight carry case ( Jet-setter already) and came straight  for cuddles, my heart skipped a beat. Yup .. I doubt I will ever again sleep past 6am, have good woolen jumpers, or a lounge room scented with anything other that puppy ‘fluffs’ – yet I’ve never been happier. Sam friggin adores him and in my book no amount of puppy poo under the clothes airier, can stop me from thinking he is the perfect pup.

Biggest challenge ? Our newest family member is a massive meat lover and so suddenly chicken necks, duck jerky and liver treats are a part of my plant based loving life. Doesn’t bother me one bit ?! Sure I’ve sneaked in a bit of veg and I am not sad he gobbles up sardines like they are a gourmet meal, but seriously I love just feeding my man what makes him feel good. Too his delight I  roasted him chicken and sweet potato in coconut oil last week ( to compliment his vet approved diet ) .. poor Sam just shook his head. I’ve never seen him so excited. There is something amazing about nourishing those you love and your pup should be no different !

Of course I  knew I’d love him, but I’ve been entirely surprised by the whole experience. He is after all my first puppy experience ! All the things I dreaded (poo, pee, chewing .. bath time ) .. I love .. cause this guy is just adorable. At puppy school he is the smallest and the loudest in the class. Through a tunnel ? No probs ..  Walk on my lead ?  .. Sure ! First day at the beach ? I can do that ! Again and again he has surprised us with his boisterous, outgoing attitude. He loves cuddles too and of course we aren’t sad about that.

Warning adorable photos to follow …

 

S0 what would I recommend in my 2.5 weeks experience … ? ha ha – you learn a lot fast !

Get the best dog bed you can afford,team it with a heatbag and you’ve got a pup that sleeps the night through. We love fuzzyard for doggy stuff full stop – style,quality and an Aussie company !

Enrol in puppy school – its been sooo helpful for us; even if Oscar just goes for the food and socialising. No seriously .. he ran to school yesterday .. the whole way. I swear he could smell the roast chicken awaiting him.

Work out what makes your puppy tick ( Oscar is all about roast chicken, sunshine and cubby holes ) and use it to your advantage.

Get a Puppy Kong ( without it I don’t think I could leave for work ! ).

Bath,  massage  and groom from day one. Oscar loves his ‘spa’ moments. Second bath yesterday was fun for all ( despite Mummies’ bad neck ! )  .. though ear cleaning may take a little longer.

Them eyes

First bath time

Last, but not least, expose your pup to your lifestyle from day one ! Oscar loves walks, outdoor cafes, the beach and our local national park already .. which means we can take him along with us when doing all our fav things. He loves Sam’s parents and their two pups as we introduced them early in … he is just one loving and adaptable pup ! can you tell we are proud ?!

A last note and  thank you to the Pretty Fluffy blog too .. seriously good info on loving your pup !

So life is changing .. and I am loving every moment. Now to wake my wee man up and enjoy some of that late afternoon sunshine ! Peace, love and dogs .. that is all anyone needs really !  x

Spring Envy and Seafood Cravings.

Autumn has truly arrived in Adelaide … and despite my normally loving this time of year, I am not ready for it ! The clocks went back one week ago and I am not in to the dark nights; the weather has been broody … and half of Adelaide with it ! A late Easter isn’t helping me in get in to the cooler weather either; despite having spent many of my years now in the Southern Hemisphere I long to see buds on trees, lambs in the fields and hoards of roadside daffodils at this time of year. Besides that, Sam and I have spent the last two Easters in the Northern Hemisphere .. so it just all feels a little odd ! I have a serious case of Spring envy … thanks Pinterest ! Just a few more sunny alfresco Sundays Adelaide and then I promise to dust of the knitting needles, pop on the slow cooker and settle down with a nice cup of Chai !

So it is the 12th April today .. and not only does that mean we are finally getting our Irish on in the way of seeing Mrs Brown’s Boys tonight ( it has only been an 11 month wait ! ), it also means we are more than half way through our vegetarian challenge. Thus far I have not slipped … though I cannot stop thinking about my pan roasted Salmon, or tuna salad … or stir fried prawns (you get the idea! Sam has had one set back in the way of lamb skewers at a friends b’day bash last week  … but he managed to say no to his Mum’s roast lamb and gobble up the quinoa salad instead .. so I’m pretty proud ! I am all over the fritter bandwagon and will shortly do a post on just that .. but we have some exciting soups, like GK Stories Roast Tomato and chickpea ( add some chilli flakes and fennel to the mix – you will thank me ), baked mushrooms with spicy fries, quinoa salads … and seriously a large jar of Broccoli pesto made a solid 5 days of meals that more special. This week is going to be all about the veg curries .. and boy am I looking forward to it ! Recipes to come !

Two stand out things I have learnt … vegetarians need to be super organised if they want to not consist on a diet of cheese and eggs … and surprisingly Adelaide does not have an abundance of vegetarian restaurants ! Sure we have a few vego friendly … but if you want to find something more inspiring than the filo filled pastry or pasta dish you have to look hard .. I highly suspect it could get rather boring. It being date night last night Sam and I thus happened on our old-time fave GoodLife on Hutt St.. where their kale, porcini and taleggio special made my eyes light up .. as did their roast veg. Despite it being a bit of a wheat and dairy overload for me the all organic produce seems to even the playing field. YUM 🙂  Seriously though if Adelaide’s full-time vegetarians want a bit of excitement and not survive on pizza and pasta it seems they need to head for the central markets in the way of Bliss Cafe or Let them Eat … or Sam’s lunchtime saviour Veggie Velo.  A lot more clean eating friendly just not very romantic however …

Thus next few days will be gardening .. gotta get that garlic in. Scouring my new Darling Lemon Thyme book and venturing to the Farmer’s Market to get some veg for the coming week. Hope to get a few more photos and recipes up here in the coming week also. Till then …

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside that is greater than any obstacle.” Christian D Larson 

 

 

 

 

21 days to make a habit …

Yes it has been a while … but hey increased hours at work and the beckoning call of a milder Adelaide summer has had me a run a little ragged ! Not to mention some fun Fringe Festivities .. Really, I am in awe that today is the 1st of April ! How, may I ask are we in the fourth month of the year already? It feels like I just took my christmas tree down … well it did take a while to undecorate and dismantle all seven foot of it !

Seriously though Summer has been a mixed bag of new ventures, friendships, bumper crops of tomatoes, basil and zucchinis, booking loads of travel ( for others .. ) and a few relaxing Sundays with Rose and music. Its been up and down in the gut/joint department too (but I may be partially to blame here )… and thanks to further strata ‘levies’, I now simply refer to our savings account as the ‘s’ fund ! But hey I have had some fun in my absence from the blog. Yet last week, curled up on the couch and in the grips of a nasty flu, I realised how much I’ve missed it and hence I am back with a commitment to post each week ! Baby steps and all …

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But back to the fact it is now April… we are one month in to Autumn now, my absolute favourite month and in true Adelaide fashion we have had all sorts of weather … last week I had the heater on and was dreaming up pumpkin recipes and today is 31 and I’m thinking of raiding the rest of my summer veg patch to create a yummy vegetarian salad with help of the BBQ. Cause switching that oven on is just going to be too much !  And with that last comment finally I come to the point of todays post.

Sam and I are going vegetarian … for 21 days ! True this moment has been coming since I got my hands on GK Stories book last year, but its with great surprise that Sam is keen to join in .. almost excited in fact. True our diet over the last year has migrated to a much more plant based one … but no meat or seafood for 21 days, over 3 meals a day is going to be a feat, let me tell you. I confess I am not sure Sam will make it and I am already thinking of the best place for a seafood platter on 22/04 ! Yet I love goals, I love challenges and the idea behind 21 ? Well as the old saying goes, it takes 21 days to create a habit. No we are not going veg for life .. I couldn’t possibly give up my Salmon and Sam would perhaps wilt away … but the idea is to shake up our weekly meals and discover some great new recipes together.

Admittedly I had a small freak out Sunday when planning the weekly meals. After all I do most all of the cooking .. and what if I could not find fast, simple, clean recipes that are appropriately balanced and gentle enough on my stomach ?! In our house hold we love cheese .. it just doesn’t always love me … and Sunday morning all I was finding were cheese or gluten based vegetarian alternatives. GULP. I’d already put our challenge out there to friends, family and the universe ( since January ! ) .. so it was a commitment, but what to cook ?! Enter a blog I rediscovered just this morning … My Darling Lemon Thyme. One talented blogger and chef who has saved me, got me excited again and also given me an excuse to buy yet another cookbook ( released today .. ) !

Thus get your screens ready for the trials and tribulations of our 21 day challenge. My Pinterest page will be updated regularly with recipe ideas and I will pop even a few tried and tested recipes up here as well. We hope to discover as a few vegetarian/vegan friendly spots around Adelaide too. And last but not least, if you have any fav recipes or South Australian haunts for the vegetarian then I’d love to hear ?!

Till next time .. xo

 

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Failures, Flukes and Fancies.

Now we are in August the promise of spring surrounds us here in Adelaide. Clothing stores are now filling their shelves with lighter fabrics in brilliant corals and pastels (yipee!), my almond tree blossomed for the first time on Sunday and my mind is beginning to fill up with spring time fancies. Whilst it isn’t quite time to say goodbye to the sneaky red wines, warming casseroles and knitted wear just yet … I find myself beginning to dream of long beach side walks, leisurely cycles, nourishing salads had alfresco and getting stuck in to some serious spring gardening. With spring comes hope – and daffodils !

First Almond Blossom !

First Almond Blossom !

This Winter has proved a wonderfully nurturing time for me. I have taken the last few months to really sit back and think about who I am, what I want and try to change things both inside and out in order to achieve a happier and much healthier me.  Of course there have been many failures, plenty of frustration, the odd successes and down right flukes. I find it very difficult to admit to failure – but let me just say I am not a squatter or a dedicated knitter ! I do love to cook and have discovered a love for new ingredients and recipes… but I am not there yet. I love yoga, but I am still very much the stiff amateur and the idea of becoming a runner …. is still very much that, an idea. I sometimes fail to remember that some foods are downright bad for my digestive health. Sometimes my body just fails, even when I think I’ve done it all right.

Guess what ? My greatest revelation in the last few months is to accept that I can fail. Without failure we cannot grow, learn and improve. Even the most talented of us fail on our road to success. It’s not to be ashamed of ! You cannot fail without trying .. so as long as I continue to try for that happier, healthier lifestyle there will be failures – and I accept them ! I fancy myself to be one day the dedicated Yogi, who shops weekly at farmers markets, runs charity marathons, cooks up deliciously healthy meals, creates artwork with the camera and travels freely and successfully through life. Here is to failure if it gets me there !

A key factor in shifting my attitude has been accepting that which occurs and focusing on turning it in to the positive. In the last week Sam has hit a Kangaroo and damaged the car and his back ( expensive and scary ! ), the dryer has broken, my stomach has went from good to bad and I had a less than successful work week. 6 months ago I would have been a mess of tears after a week like the this one. However, our normally high electricity bill was in credit (total fluke !), in light of the dryer we have decided to renovate the laundry and are finally getting a new washing machine with our tax return ( yes !! ), in a bid to help get the digestive system back on track I forgo Friday night’s creamy mash and discovered roasted cauliflower ( OMG – you must try this recipe ) and with budget/health in mind Sam and I finally visited the Adelaide Farmer’s Market on Sunday – check out the goodies !  🙂

Of course much of this positive outlook ‘stuff’ has been hard work ( and yes I some times fail ! ). A deliberate focus on reading blogs, magazines and books filled with inspirational messages, helpful information and people I aspire to has had a definite impact on my outlook and in turn overall health. I’ve made it a habit to talk to and surround myself with positive like-minded people and try to steer away from negative behaviors. In actively placing visual reminders around the home and yes even my recent time consuming obsession with pinterest ( you can follow me here – so much fun ! ) I can get back on the positive bandwagon even on the worst days. Slowly things are improving in the health department and I honestly feel this is of a direct result to me outlook. I plan to add a page to the blog sometime soon ( I have technical difficulties with blogging! ) with links to websites/blogs/books/people that have/are helping motivate and teach me. But this week it’s all been about Lorna Jane and her incredible pinterest boards ( see obsessed .. ), T2 Tea ( Chai and Tummy Tea = LOVE ) and using seasonal vegetables to create some simple nourishing meals.

I would love to hear about what is inspiring you to lead a positive and healthy life !

Love, travels and the road ahead …

Sam (the fiance) and I have begun sorting through our photo library of late with the idea that I can start posting my travel shots on here and also to endeavour to get a few more on our walls at home! It has been so amazing to reflect on the journeys we have been on together and remember that even though I have often traveled with health issues in tow we have experienced, concurred and eaten our way through many a continent. It is a re-energising and inspiring experience to de-clutter our travel pics and have only the best shots and moments left to remember.

Of course before Sam and I met one another we had done a great deal of travel (and living) overseas already. Work often offers us (namely Sam .. ) opportunities to travel without one another too. Yet somehow it is those adventures we have experienced together that resonate the most. I guess when you find that special person seeing the Empire State building for the first time or defying death zip-lining through Thai jungles without them alongside, simply isn’t the same. It’s kind of a odd feeling when you realise this. Before meeting Sam I was one independent lass, destined to never settle down and to lead the gypsy life! I suppose that means I have met my travel soul mate …

Our love for adventure and need to document it complement each other. Sam is the map reader, I am (being the foody and art fiend) the avid lonely planet reader. My incessant need to ride a bike with a basket (and bell !) has seen us almost hit by a Parisian bus, frozen  soaked to the bone in Vancouver and following complete strangers aimlessly through Amsterdam’s canals. Our jobs have us cram in the must dos, but we so often will have a whole day of wanderlust in each new place. We walk everywhere we can. From hostels, to castles, to six star plunge pool bungalows we’ve stayed there. I always need a market, Sam a roller-coaster.

Course there has been some disasters too …broken toes, mystery rashes, infected wounds, wrong airports(another post maybe), cars without headlights and that’s just naming a few .. but now most of these are just funny stories to share.

Yesterday was Sam’s 35th birthday and after an afternoon seizure (in the work toilets non-the less) I simply was not up for our planned evening out together. Yes I spoiled him with gifts and kisses and a night in with some good Thai takeout was fun … but I felt I’d let him and US down. Now as I write this I see this is just another phase of our journey together; another adventure.

I have actively made the decision to not book another overseas holiday for a while – namely because we need to save for a wedding (or in my mind an epic round the world wedding/honeymoon).Yet also because I want to be in that much healthier and happier place when we next set out on an overseas adventure. There is so much of the world to experience together and I cannot wait, but for now my energy is all on living actively, enjoying each moment and getting well. It’s nice to have my travel soul mate along for the journey  … xo

PS. We are exploring Sydney together in September … can’t leave it too long between plane rides.