The Possibility of Having a Dream

 

I took photography as a hobby recently and discovered how much I love being outside, enjoying the peaceful mornings, nature, capturing moments forever…amongst other things. I realized that it’s beautiful sights like this one that make me feel so grateful and bring a smile to my face. (It’s the little things!) 

I’m reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and I came across this lovely quote:

“It is the possibility, of having a dream come true, that makes life interesting.”


So, what’s your dream? What do you hope to achieve someday? What would you do if money wasn’t a concern? (Or health?) How does your perfect day look like? What do you do on your free time that if you got paid for would be like heaven?

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These are just some questions I find to be quite necessary for us to ask once in a while; to get a feeling of how we’re doing, if we need to change anything, how the life plan is going, etc.

Unfortunately not many people ask themselves these questions; so they live their lives almost in autopilot – study, work work work, marriage, kids, retirement, death. There’s nothing wrong with that scenario, if that’s what you want. But if you don’tchange your situation. Ask yourself these questions. Move little by little towards your goal, your dream life, your perfect day. Don’t let anyone tell you what you *should* be doing.

Do what makes you happy… because life is to be enjoyed. 

Much love, Abby

Would you rather be happy or be right?

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

I completely agree with Elliott’s description of photography (as a new photography enthusiast). Everyone can see something that’s the same, but experience it and see something completely different. And isn’t that wonderful? The differences are what makes us beautiful and unique.

Life can be like this too; it can be enjoyed, it can be suffered, it can be felt and seen an infinite amount of ways. . . And who is right? I heard a lovely and intelligent man (Nathaniel Branden) once say how humans a lot of the time will choose being right over being happy. Personally I’m not big on being right, and I’m typically the first to accept if I was wrong. Yet I have met people who fall under this trap of being right. . . And they’re typically unhappy. But they hold their ground and they’re “right” in their mind. I just wonder, what good comes from being right, that one would be willing to put happiness to the side? I certainly don’t relate to it but can see how it is a powerful emotion for people. Remember that being right is not everything in life; we can be wrong and be a good person, we can apologize, we can accept it and change.

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Happiness > Being right

It can be a really humbling and positive experience to accept that you’ve made a mistake. It makes you human.

Much love,

Abby

4 Quick Habits for Eating Healthier!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be so difficult. Normally, we stray from our nutritious diets because there are too many temptations put in the way of us. If you get rid of temptation, you’ll find that eating a healthy and balanced diet is a lot easier to do. In fact, you could end up eating a lot healthier without even noticing! Here are four tips that can help do just that.

Hide Sweet Treats

If you see unhealthy foods, you are going to be constantly tempted by them. So take any cookies, chips, and candies out of sight. Hide any sweet treats that you have in cupboards that you hardly go in. Try to put bowls of fruit and nuts out on display on your kitchen surfaces. That way, you will reach for a healthy snack whenever your tummy rumbles.

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If you’re craving something sweet, make yourself some nicecream

Don’t Throw Away Leftovers

Throwing away uneaten food is a big waste. If you don’t finish your meal, keep the leftovers to have for lunch the next day. You can also keep ingredients that you didn’t use for another recipe. Leftovers usually have a good shelf-life when stored in a fridge. To extend this shelf-life, you should place them in your freezer. One way to keep them for a lot longer is to vacuum pack them before you store them in a fridge or freezer. To do this, you need a vacuum sealer. Try to get the best vacuum sealer (here are some with reviews) that can help you store food for a few weeks.

Use Smaller Plates

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One of the main reasons people have issues with their weight is because they eat large portions without realizing it. So to make sure you aren’t overeating, serve your food on smaller plates; here’s a great study that showed that we tend to overeat due to the size and color of our plates (shocking! I know). Be careful not to pile all the food up high on your plate, though! At first, you might feel slightly hungry after eating off smaller plates. That is just because your body is used to large amounts of food in one go. However, after a couple of days, you will get used to it and will feel full after a smaller meal. No matter the size of your plate, though, ensure half of it is taken up by fresh fruit or vegetables.

Drink Lots Of Water

Water is key for a healthy diet. You need to aim to drink at least eight glasses of pure water a day. The more water you drink means you won’t need to drink sugary or caffeinated drinks to stay hydrated. There are loads of ways you can encourage yourself to drink more water. One of the best ways is to keep a water bottle with you whenever you leave the house. That way, you won’t need to buy a drink while you’re out. If you don’t like plain water, try sparkling water. It tastes like a fizzy drink but doesn’t have all the hidden sugar.

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Hopefully, this guide will help you eat a lot healthier without even trying! You might be surprised how much healthier and happier these tips help you feel.

Much love,

Abby

 

Calorie Counting: Friend or Foe?

Many of us have used this old trick of counting calories to help us in some way. I personally disliked using this technique because I’d lose track, I found myself over-thinking about it and it made me feel like I was restricted. I felt like I couldn’t just eat, it was different. So I stopped. It was the best decision for me, personally.

Whether you are trying a food journal (which is a fantastic idea to gain some insight into what you eat!) or you’re simply curious about how many calories you consume; it’s important to remember that some of these techniques can be flawed or may not work for everyone.

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Don’t be harsh with yourself if you forget to write down the snack you had 7 hours ago, it happens to all of us. This is one of the biggest flaws of calorie counting, we’re actually pretty terrible at it.  They’ve done studies to find out how well people do in keeping track of their calories and food intake and the results were shocking; the women from the study were underestimating on average 50%. That is 50% on average.

Another interesting fact? Labels can lie. They can actually have a 20% margin of error.

“The ratio between the amount obtained by laboratory analysis and the amount declared on the product label in the Nutrition Facts panel must be 120% or less, i.e., the label is considered to be out of compliance if the nutrient content of a composite of the product is greater than 20% above the value declared on the label.”  (FDA Guidance for Industry: Nutrition Labeling Manual)

There are other reasons why calorie counting may not be the best option, such as; swapping something ‘low fat’ instead of having the full-fat version (simply because it has fewer calories),  it can make you feel stressed (as this study showed) and it can make you eat more (because it’s on your mind all day!).

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There are also good reasons to like calorie counting! It can give you an insight as to how many calories you’re consuming on a day-to-day basis, which may come as a shock. A lot of us eat way more than we think! It may also help you regulate how much sugar, coffee, etc. you’re consuming (in case you’re trying to consume less of any). It has proven positive results for many and that’s the main reason so many continue trying it.

What do I think is the best solution? I can give you the solution that worked for me!  

I know that I can eat as much as I want of anything I want. There are no restrictions. Butter on toast? Yes, please. Vegan raspberry croissant? Double yes! Coffee? Yes! Sweet potato fries? Triple yes! (There’s even a recipe on the blog!) and I can continue until my hands are tired; my point is – there are no restrictions.

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I learned to eat with awareness. I try (and this takes a bit of time) to enjoy each and every bite I take. I don’t rush it, I really want to enjoy it and savor everything I eat. This made me eat at a slower pace. I used to be told I was the faster eater out there, because I’d always be done eating first. Well, now that’s different.

I take my time, pause between bites, enjoy, savor it and repeat.

What has happened since I began practicing these eating habits? For one, I’m happier! I know that if I want that ice cream I can have it, but what I crave is an acaí bowl. I eat a much bigger variety of food – because remember, there are no restrictions! I have little treats here and there (today I had a few bites of a croissant with honey) and I really enjoy them. I don’t feel guilt or any negative feeling. I just enjoy and move on. It’s simple and it works for me. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to feel free and not restricted when it comes to food.

Food should be enjoyed, so enjoy it!

Much love, Abby

Lemon Shortbread Bars – Guest Post!

Hey guys! My name is Alexandra, and I’m the creator of vegandra.com, a website devoted to delicious vegan recipes and lifestyle tips. Abby was amazing enough to allow me to write this guest post, so I hope you all enjoy 🙂 If you do, please check out my blog, and see what other goodies I’ve shared!

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So, lemons. Kinda hard to use in cooking, because the flavor has the potential to be too overbearing and sour. But, using the zest gives all the flavor of the lemon without the sourness!

The shortbread base here is super simply (just flour, powdered sugar, and coconut oil), but is perfect to let the lemon flavor through to be the star of the show! These bars are simply, light, and refreshing. Give them a try!!

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Serves 8

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. water

For the filling

  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tbs. flour

To Prepare

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine ingredients in a bowl to form a dough.
  3. Press dough into a greased baking pan and bake for 7 minutes.
  4. While base is baking, use a hand mixer to beat together ingredients for the filling.
  5. Pour filling on top of base, and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and set to cool (can be cooled in the refrigerator if you’re really hungry!).
  7. Cut up and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  8. Enjoy 🙂

Much love, Abby & Alexandra

Meditation: Achieving Peace Within Yourself

Why do people meditate? Do people enjoy ‘sitting and doing nothing for an indefinite amount of time’? What benefit does meditating give me? These are all questions we’ve all come across or have had ourselves. They’re all great questions. My goal is to provide you the information so you can make the decision; to meditate or not to meditate – that is the question.

People meditate for different reasons; some to calm their anxiety, some are searching for peace or happiness and some are just plain curious. Whichever reason it is that is motivating you to try it, I’ll tell you this: you won’t regret it. 

I once read that they asked Buddha “How shall we meditate?” Buddha replied, “Whatsoever you do, do it with awareness; this is meditation. Walking, walk attentively, as if walking is everything; eating, eat with awareness, as if eating is everything; rising, rise with awareness; sitting, sit with awareness. All your actions become conscious, your mind does not travel beyond this moment, it remains in the moment, settles in the moment – this is meditation.”

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Becoming a mindful person can be the best thing you do for yourself. Can you imagine life without wondering what you’ll be doing tomorrow, next week, where your next vacation will be or what holiday is coming up? Can you imagine just enjoying what you’re doing right now? Whether you’re on your commute to/from work, reading a book, spending time with your loved ones, at work, at the grocery store… can you imagine just being there? Without thoughts rushing in and out of your mind. Because after all, what does having all those thoughts in your mind do for you? They’re certainly not helpful thoughts if they have nothing to do with what you’re doing right now.

According to Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, due to “evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and an increased quality of life” she decided to do brain scans and discover which parts of the brain get activated when people practiced meditation. What she discovered was that the brain actually changed after eight weeks of meditation practice.

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If you’re looking for motivation to start or feel like it will be too difficult; I’ve found a really simple guided meditation video that could help you! Meditation is not supposed to be just sitting in a room staring at the wall for 30 minutes; that sounds awful! A good way to look at it is a training of the mind. You are literally training your mind to enjoy the now, the moment, the present, to be aware and conscious. Just as we train for marathons by walking one kilometer today, two the next week, etc. or how we train ourselves to eat healthier by trying new ingredients, swapping ingredients, or changing a recipe.

As Buddha said, being aware and conscious is meditation. If you don’t feel comfortable sitting cross-legged (like the illustration shows) don’t, if you would prefer to have your hands on your lap, do so… It’s all about being comfortable and enjoying it. A lot of people think that they cannot think of anything during meditation – which can be extremely difficult given that we have such busy lives and we’re used to multi-tasking. This is not true. There are different ways of doing meditation, and doing the one that suits you will be the best one! I’ve read that one way to meditate is by actually thinking of a problem, giving it a shape, color, description (in your mind) and seeing it disappear. Other people simply will focus on the breath; in and out, 1 and two, and that will be enough. There is also no time limit; you may meditate for 10 minutes daily, 2 minutes, 17 minutes, it’s up to you. The point is to do it, which will help us become better at it.

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Just remember, we’re looking for awareness and consciousness, not perfection! And just in case you need a little bit more motivation, here’s a list with more benefits of meditation!

Happy meditating! 🙂

Much love, Abby

 

Deliciously Simple Salad

This is an out-of-the-blue creation due to a huge salad craving I had yesterday. I wanted to create a salad I was excited about! I’ve had many salads during my life and most have not been that exciting; some tasty, some bland, some OK, but nothing that truly had everything I enjoy. This salad has all of the elements I enjoy, which are; fruit, cheese, plenty of greens and most importantly it’s easy to make!

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Ingredients: 

  1. 1 cup red oak lettuce 
  2. 1 cup green coral
  3. 2 cups of spinach 
  4. 1/2 butternut squash cut into 1 inch (2 cm) cubes 
  5. 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses 
  6. 3 tablespoons of goats curd or more to taste (can also use goats cheese)
  7. 1/2 a pink lady apple thinly sliced 
  8. 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  9. 1/8 of a tablespoon of salt and pepper each or more to taste 

For the dressing, I wanted something simple and tasty; bear with me because I know it is not your typical dressing – just believe me when I say it’s delicious!

Dressing ingredients:

  1. 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice (try to make it 100% pomegranate with no sugar added – it’s not needed 🙂 )
  2. 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
  3. 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  4. 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  5. Pinch of sea salt and pepper or more to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 225C. Toss butternut squash with olive oil and add pepper. Place butternut squash on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes flip butternut squash and bake for another 10 minutes. Once done, add sea salt to taste.
  • In a medium to large bowl add red oak lettuce, green coral, spinach, apple slices and pomegranate molasses; make sure to mix well.
  • Add butternut squash to salad once done baking and then add the goats curd (or cheese).
  • For dressing: Mix ingredients well; pomegranate juice with pomegranate molasses, red wine vinegar and sea salt and pepper.
  • Side note on the dressing: some people really like their dressings to have a type of oil; please feel free to add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

Tip: I also tried blood orange juice instead of pomegranate juice – and it tasted great too!

Tip 2: You may easily add chicken to this dish if you would like to make it for any carnivores you know.

Enjoy! And don’t be afraid of experimenting; I truly just made this out of a desire to satisfy a craving and it turned out fantastic (in my humble opinion).

Much love, Abby