Thankful Thursday: May 7th

Sunrise |

Here’s what’s keeping heart & soul together this week <3

  • Early workouts & awesome sunrises: The above was today’s cracker.
  • Ladies Breakfast: What started as a small group of girls from our male dominated team at work doing lunch together has been gradually morphing into a mini support circle of professional local ladies who brainstorm & troubleshoot monthly over eggs benedict. We met up this morning to work through a new idea. Exciting & energising!
  • Stand-up desk: It’s been 2 weeks since I inherited a stand-up desk at work & I’m loving it! My neck, back & shoulders are feeling so much better for it. I’ll have to do a post on it soon.
  • Yoga: I’ve had to miss a few sessions over the last couple of weeks & it was awesome to get back into it tonight.

What are you grateful for this week?

x Liz

Photo note: Snapped on my iPhone #nofilter.

Review: The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry

The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |

Plenty of cookbooks have great recipes, sweet anecdotes and pretty pictures. Fewer cookbooks are worthy of a spot on the top shelf for regular inclusion in the meal planning process. And fewer cookbooks still are capable of inspiring a new way of eating and preparing food. 

Up there with my favourites Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar For Life and Mel Joulwan’s Well Fed 1 & 2, Lola Berry’s The Happy Cookbook has had me shopping differently, preparing food differently and even rethinking my meal components.

Zucchini Fritters| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |

I’ve rediscovered dill, and not just for pairing with fish. I’ve simplified weeknight dinners without sacrificing flavour. I’m having messier, less Insta-pretty meals but getting bucketloads of nutrients.

Between recipes like the zucchini fritters and my favourite, Crispy salmon and kale mix-up with avocado and dill, Lola gets her holistic health coach hat on with mini wellness tutorials on topics like sleep, biophilia (the healing power of nature, fyi) and mindfulness.

Crispy salmon & kale| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |
Another favourite discovery in The Happy Cookbook has been the Superfood Bircher. I often make a full batch and leave it in a covered bowl in the fridge – it gives us both a timesaving breakfast for 3 days straight. Gotta love that! I also occasionally make smaller serves of it in grab-and-go recycled juice jars.

Superfood Bircher| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry |

If you’re looking for a cookbook that you won’t want to put away, Lola’s new one is just the ticket. While there are recipes to impress special guests (hello Paleo ganache chocolate birthday cake!), primarily The Happy Cookbook will keep you and your farmer’s market haul happily feasting all throughout the week.

x Liz

Peptalk: You deserve your love

You deserve love - Buddha quote |

…and Buddha don’t lie.

As part of the safety demonstration on a plane, they always tell you to fasten your own seatbelt/oxygen mask/life jacket first before helping those around you, even children.

Apply that to your life & love yourself first.

Without your own source of oxygen, you’re of no real use to anyone else!

x Liz

Photo note: Image from Death to the Stock Photo

Best of the web: May 3rd

Newcastle Memorial Walk |

The weather has been mostly grey and I’ve been struck down with the sniffles but this weekend has been delightful. A walk over Newcastle’s new Memorial Walk this morning after a big gym session, the new Avengers on the big screen last night & plenty of delicious food have all helped clear away the clouds of the past week.

I’ve come across some great reads over the last few days; hope you get to check them out.

  • If you’re prone to running yourself into the ground and not looking up until you’re a little further down than you expected, print this list out & stick it by your desk: Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up.
  • Is a visit to the art gallery not exhilarating enough for you? Why not try it sans pants? Adults only nudey art tours are now a thing.
  • Does wanting to be thinner void your membership to the league of feminists? I’d never really considered this but it’s an interesting question:

    …instead of fighting for a world where all bodies are admired, I’m pandering, reshaping my body to make it acceptable to the world around me.

  • What my cat taught me about gender; one man’s thoughtful and entertaining discussion on gender identity after discovering his girl-cat is actually a boy-cat.
  • Whether you’ve lost your magnet, your mojo, or just need to get your groove back, Veronica Varlow has some practical tips to reconnect you with your creative flow.

I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend

x Liz

Pretty proteas |

Photo note: Both taken by me on my trusty iPhone.

Wisdom from ‘Frozen’ creator Chris Buck

Frozen creator Chris Buck |

Whether you loved it, hated it, or couldn’t care less about it, you’ve got to admit that Disney’s Frozen has taken the toddler to tween (and beyond!) market by storm.

Creator of the film, Chris Buck, braved the cyclone to tell his story to an eager crowd at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre last week.

Discussing his own life story – entwining both his personal and professional journey – Buck’s talk No Regrets: Behind the scenes of a creative life was part of the University of Newcastle’s Disruptive Innovation Works lecture series.

As someone who is fairly indifferent to animated feature films and certainly isn’t studying to someday make a big break in Hollywood, I was surprised how inspiring, interesting and tweet-worthy Buck’s talk was. Perhaps I should’ve given more credit to the man who spent his 50th birthday collecting an Oscar for his efforts.

He’s an engaging speaker able to call upon a raft of life experiences to make thoughtful comments on a range of topics. Elegantly answering audience questions on Disney’s portrayal of social and gender diversity (“Disney isn’t a machine. We’re people. We respond to society; we’re part of it”) through to sharing enviable wisdom gained following his son’s sudden death, (“You can inspire people, give them hope, make the world a better place”) Buck has clearly come a long way from his days as the reserved and oft-forgotten about middle child of six.

Buck’s career so far has been mostly conventional; albeit highly successful of course and peppered with big name mentors and anecdotes about the ol’ uni days with his mate Tim. Tim Burton, that is. He says one of his secrets to success is keeping in touch with those old friends – the quiet chap rocking the cardigan in your class could well be your ticket to collaborative success.

As a director, learning to say no was Buck’s biggest take-home tip, alongside allowing for failure to be an option – it’s the key to creativity.

My favourite piece of advice though was around not getting too attached to your ideas before you’ve pitched them. When Buck was considering returning to the Disney fold, he was asked to pitch a so-good-they-can’t-refuse film idea to seal the deal. Rather than put all his hopes and dreams on one big idea, he worked on three options in the hope that at least something somewhere in one of them would strike interest with the team. Strike interest it did: one of those became Frozen and another is currently in the production pipeline!

While the broader learnings of his life were artfully delivered, Buck’s behind the scenes directors-commentary style knowledge was really interesting to me. The lengths he went to with research for Frozen, for example, show that so much more than I thought goes into crafting a quality kids’ film.

The animation team were taken on an arctic excursion to better understand how a young woman in a heavy dress would walk through deep snow. They had singing lessons to learn more about how an effective singing body moves. A reindeer was brought into the studio to bring clarity on animating such a beast. Even a hair stylist was recruited to design the ice princess looks which are no doubt helping to drive the braid’s current resurgence.

Plenty of companies (such as the one I work for) conduct customer research, competitor analysis and delve into data to help make decisions, but for some reason it surprised me that the teams for animated films would do this too. Just because a movie might fit in the “kids” category, doesn’t mean it’s not huge business; Disney didn’t just fall into its multi-billion-dollar profit pool!

Interestingly, while all this research is evident in the film, Buck was quick to point out that “we don’t create realistic worlds; we create believable ones”. He said that making an animated film too realistic can actually be creepy. The research done by the teams on reindeer, for example, gave them the knowledge that the animals are “dumber than cows” and that they go through antler-shedding seasons, which often leaves them with a not-so crowd-pleasing bloodied stump or two atop their head. Needless to say, Frozen’s reindeer Sven shows no signs of a sad case of lost antler but does show the far more palatable and humorous stupidity trait.

But of course, all the believability is nothing without a decent story. Buck said that once the film’s “true north” was determined (Anna’s act of true love) every decision was made with that in mind.

Originally, Buck said, Anna and Elsa weren’t going to be sisters and Elsa was shaping up to be a villain. I couldn’t help but think of parallels with Wicked’s misunderstood Elphaba with this revelation. Once the now plague-proportion viral hitLet It Go was brought to the set though, the film adjusted its course.

I have to say, not being a Disney diehard or a wannabe animator, I wasn’t jumping out of my skin for this talk when it was first announced but Chris Buck had me drawn in from the moment he hit the stage. Thanks to The University of Newcastle for bringing him and his world of knowledge to our cyclonic shores. Such interesting insight into the creative processes of other people and other industries shared by a truly talented creative leader.

x Liz

P.s. For more snippets of Chris Buck’s talk, check out #disruptUON

Photo note: Image by the steady hand of @y_mccall

Thankful Thursday: 30th April

Thankful Thursday April 30 |

A short & sweet one tonight. Here’s a list of the things I’m feeling gratitude for right now:

  • Coffee, coffee, coffee! Especially from The Locomotive – best in town!
  • Being able to get back on the (regular blog posting) horse, even after being railroaded for a few days
  • When your body just knows it needs a rest and forces you to make it happen
  • Being reminded how incredibly important it is to truly love & accept yourself
  • That I live in Australia – we really are a very lucky country
  • Having such sore legs after an epic training session – I may have been walking straight-legged for 3 days but it means I’m getting stronger, right?
  • Date nights with my one & only <3

x Liz

Photo note: Image from Death to the stock photo

Love Yourself Well

Love yourself well workshop |

Last night I was lucky enough to join 11 other ladies at Holistic Healthy Honey Cindra Banks’ Love Yourself Well Workshop. In an intimate safe space with raw emotion, bliss balls and herbal tea, strangers became journey(wo)men on the quest for self love.

While Cindra may look the epitome of healthy living, it hasn’t always been that way. The Love Yourself Well Workshop offers an introduction to the healing techniques – such as yoga, a gratitude practice and affirmations – that helped her find her way back to self love and acceptance.

We each received a little goodie bag too with our own affirmation (that’s mine in the photo above) and some assorted samples. It reminded me of an affirmation I used to use regularly & still love:

Every day in every way, I am getting better and better – Emile Coue

It was a lovely evening. My only criticism was that it was too short – it could’ve been a full-day session 🙂 As one participant said, it’s hard to talk about self love with others without feeling like you’re burdening them. I hope Cindra has many more planned!

x Liz

Recipe: Thai pumpkin soup

Thai style pumpkin soup recipe |

When Granny hands you a massive pumpkin, fresh out of her garden, you’re in no position to refuse her generosity. You are in a position however, to make a deliciously warming Thai-style pumpkin soup!

In season: Pumpkin |

Recipe: Thai-style pumpkin soup

Serves 6 | Give yourself an hour or so to make this one happen

  • 1.2kg of peeled pumpkin
  • 1 red onion, sliced or diced
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1L stock (chicken or veggie)
  • 2-3 tblsp red curry paste (Look for one without added sugar & other nonsense. Or make your own)
  • 1-2 tblsp minced ginger
  • Splash of fish sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • To serve: Chopped herbs, spinach, leftover cooked protein & toasted pumpkin seeds

Chop your pumpkin into even 1-inch cubes. It doesn’t have to be perfectly pretty but evenly sized cubes will make life easier for you. Now, you can either steam or roast your pumpkin: I think optimal deliciousness is always found from within your roasting tray but if you’re short on time, feel free to get a boil up. Either way, cook your pumpkin until it’s soft when poked with a fork. This will take up to 30 minutes, depending on your method & the size of your cubes.

When the pumpkin is approaching the pointy end of done, add a splash of oil and your curry paste to a cold stock pot. As it warms to a medium heat, combine in your ginger, onion and a pinch of salt. Once the onion starts to soften, add your cooked pumpkin, stock, fish sauce and squeeze of lemon and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and stir through, continuing to simmer for around 10 minutes.

Toasted pumpkin seeds |

Turn the heat off and, using your immersion/stick blender (kitchen essential!), puree up your mixture. If you prefer a thinner soup, you may wish to add a little extra milk or stock as you blend. I love a good thick soup though.

I ladled my soup over a sliced up leftover chicken thigh and a handful of baby spinach and topped it with chopped fresh mint and toasted pumpkin seeds. And the best bit? There’s plenty leftover for work lunches!

Thai pumpkin soup |

I’d love to know if you make it!

x Liz

Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone & slightly touched up with the ABM Actions.

Peptalk: What will be your Space Jam?

Has Kid President got some good stuff for you! Welcome to today’s #mondaymotivation where an 11-year-old kid in a suit will school you about breaking away from boring and finding your own personal Space Jam.

Until tomorrow, don’t stop believing… unless your dream is stupid.

x Liz

P.s. Credit goes to Jess for sharing this one with me.

Best of the web: April 26

Anzac day sunset |

It has been one hectic week! And yep, I broke my 100 day consecutive posting effort 🙁 But, not to worry, I’m jumping straight back in with a handful of goodness from around the web this week.

Well, bedtime is here: I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend. Here’s to a calmer week for all.

x Liz

Photo note: Image of Anzac Day’s sunset, snapped on my trusty iPhone.

Mid-week bake-off: Anzac bikkies

Anzac biscuits | Recipe from The Healthy Chef |

For a mother of two foodie kids, my mum is the first to admit she’s not that great at creative cooking, nor is she that interested in following wild recipes or just generally diving into unchartered culinary waters.

That said, she’s always got a sweet slice-of-the-moment to bring to a function, can whip up a perfect batch of scones to the family recipe and, every April, would mix up a tray of Anzac cookies for our ever-hungry young selves.

While the buttery, syrupy Women’s Weekly Beautiful Biscuits edition is no doubt delicious, there are some superb recipes doing the rounds at the moment that hardly sacrifice taste to get you an Anzac bikkie fix without wrecking your healthy wholefood eating goals.

The Merrymaker Sisters have a paleo Anzac recipe, as does Alice over at The Whole Daily. With a bag of rolled oats in the cupboard though, I went for a slightly more traditional option from The Healthy Chef.

How to make Anzac cookies |

Here’s the recipe I used: Version #1. They had the perfect balance of sweetness and crumbliness and not-too-hard-not-too-softness. I also already had all the ingredients in my pantry already – I hope you do too!

There’s some awful weather happening on the east coast of NSW at the moment: #newystorm and #sydneystorm streams on Twitter are full of fallen tree photos, assorted items which have blown into peoples’ yards and stories of people expecting to be without power for days. Plenty of businesses are closed, including schools and the university.

We’ve had sirens going constantly up and down the main road so it was greatly appreciated when the boss offered a work-from-home option. We’ve managed to keep our electricity flowing but the internet was out for most of the morning. Stay safe local people! Don’t leave your fortress unless you absolutely have to.

x Liz

P.s. Here’s some trivia for you: While it’s a commonly held belief that the Anzac biscuits got their name from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who devoured them, apparently they were mostly found at fundraising bake sales supporting the First World War effort. Myth busted!

Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone & slightly touched up with the ABM Actions.

Peptalk: Know that you can do this

Monday motivation: Heather Stillufsen |

Monday motivation, brought to you by Rose Hill Designs – Heather Stillufsen. She has the most beautiful illustrations & is well worth following for a regular dose of lovely things like this.

Enjoy your day; with however much coffee and laughter you need to make that happen.

x Liz


Photo note: Image from Rose Hill Designs – Heather Stillufsen.