Best of the web: April 19th

Melted Spongebob Icecream | lizniland.com

Happy Sunday! I hope yours has been as chilled out or as productive as you hoped it would be.

Hope you make the most of your Sunday evening. I’m off to have a catch up dinner with my mum & granny šŸ™‚

 

x Liz

Photo note: Image from Michael Massaia’s series Transmogrify

Would you wear a uniform if you didn’t have to?

Creating your own uniform | lizniland.com

Back when I was just a wee student at the local public school, we were always so jealous of the kids that went to the nearby uniform-free independent school. From the bus, the classrooms looked like treehouses and, clad in their choice of colourful garb, the kids seemingly had their regular classes replaced by guitar jams and skateboard sessions.

While the skateboarding may have had something to do with it, us uniformed types envied the fact these kids were able to boldly don their favourite hyper-colour t-shirts (hello 90s!), without even waiting for an out-of-uniform day.

Between school blazers, sporting team colours and the official shirt and slacks for the weekend job, the majority of our formative years are spent dressing up to fit in. Make of that what you will! By the time you’re free to dress as you wish for the majority of your day, it’s pretty exciting to explore your options and discover who you really are.

Depending on your job, a uniform may still be a factor in your life. If you’re free to dress as you please though, would you consider passing in your option to mix and match your outfits on the daily? Maybe not. But, what if doing so would give you more time in your day, less stress, less drain on you decision making capacity and save more creative juices for the bigger fish you’ll need to fry throughout the day? Tempting, right?

Art director Matilda Kahl decided to do just that. Stocking up on a pile of white blouses and black pants and one statement necklace, Kahl likens it to setting up an auto online bill payment. She says it’s empowering.

The simple choice of wearing a work uniform has saved me countless wasted hours thinking, “what the hell am I going to wear today?” And in fact, these black trousers and white blouses have become an important daily reminder that frankly, I’m in control.

Today, I not only feel great about what I wear, I don’t think about what I wear.

I can definitely see where she’s coming from. There are mornings when precious minutes are wasted when things don’t fit quite right, when the slip that normally goes under that dress is still waiting to be washed, when you’re trying out a new combo but it’s just not coming together.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the concept of panicking about what to wear each day is pretty much entirely foreign to the male species. My partner Michael has a self-made work uniform of chinos, Tiger sneakers and polo shirts. So how come this is all so natural for boys but for women, such a story is a viral sensation?

President Obama famously explained that avoiding decision fatigue is the reason why he only ever wears grey or blue suits.

I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what Iā€™m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.

Perhaps it’s also why Steve Jobs was so attached to his uniform of denim jeans and black turtle-necks.

So here’s the question, could you do it? Would you be willing to return to the old school days of pulling another shirt out of the wardrobe, just the same as the one you wore yesterday, and the day before that. I don’t know if I could replace everything with Kahl’s uniform but I think that sticking to a curated collection of work clothes, separate to your casual and party clothes, works for me.

It’d certainly be an interesting experiment anyway!

x Liz

Photo note: Image from Death to the stock photo.

Finding your doppleganger

Finding your doppleganger | lizniland.com

Have you ever wanted to be a twin? Like a switch-places-and-no-one-will-know identical twin? Like a play-the-same-role-in-a-tv-show twin?

Well, even if biology didn’t allow it from birth, havingĀ your doppleganger could now be within your reach. The power of the interwebs is driving a group of friends ever closer to twindom. Twin Strangers has made headlines this week when a competitor met up with one of her twin-but-nots. Check it out:

According to the Twin Strangers website, there are 7 people in the world who look like you. Seven! Imagine! Who wants to just be a twin when you could be a septuplet?

For more doppleganger photos, there’s the I’m Not A Lookalike project and this fun Buzzfeed list. Of course there’s a Buzzfeed list.

Have you got a lookalike? Or have you been mistaken forĀ someone random, a la the infamous case of Homer Simpson and Mr Sparkle?

I don’t think I’ve seen any of my 7Ā dopplegangers but my friend’s mum (hi Jules!) is convinced I’m a dead ringer for Hilary Swank. She’s not the only one to say that either. I’ve also been told I resembleĀ Jennifer Garner, Keira Knightley and Julia Stiles. Does everyone get told they look like random celebs or is it just me?

I totally metĀ a Julia Roberts lookalike the other night though.

 

x Liz

Photo note: Photo from Unsplash

Thankful Thursday: April 16th

Pretty snail mail | Thankful Thursday | lizniland.com

A sprinkling of things I’m grateful for this week.

  • Getting great mail. Check out the above pile šŸ™‚ Belated engagement gifts & a super cute wedding invite. Totally makes up for the gas bill!
  • Launching a Facebook page for this site & having a bunch of people like it straight away. I’m so grateful for the support everyone, it’s so inspiring to know I’ve got a solid pack ofĀ cheerleaders!
  • Early starts on Sundays. Ain’t nobody got time for long sleep-ins; there’s a farmers’ market to attack and brunch to consume!
  • Yin yoga. If you haven’t tried, track down a class. In Newcastle, I recommend Yoga For All. It’s all about the fascia baby.
  • Hearing cool stories about clever entrepreneurial types. This week’s hottest hits are Autopilot (mates since childhood killing it in San Fran) & Camplify (local dudes about to hit the big time).
  • Recognising when you just need to stop and have a cup of tea. Chill, there’s time. #abundance
  • Catching up with long-time great mates.

What are you loving this week?

 

x Liz

 

Goal setting for the soul

My core desired feelings | lizniland.com

Goal setting has never been my jam. Donā€™t get me wrong, I love working towards targets; I just donā€™t like the all or nothing approach goal chasing seems to bring out in people. Giving up happiness now for the sake of a pie in the sky that might not even make up for the friends not seen, the kilometres not strolled, the brunches and brownie sandwiches not devoured, seems so risky to me. Call me an impatient, instant gratification-seeking Gen-Y but the number of times I change the direction of my dreams would put the wind to shame.

That said though, Iā€™ve always tried – and mostly failed – to make goals work. When I noticed Danielle LaPorte and Marie Forleo, two of the wisest self-made modern businesswomen around, had made a video on goal setting, I decided to give it a chance. Iā€™m so glad I did: welcome to ā€œcore desired feelingsā€, the perfectionist overachieverā€™s answer to traditional goals.

Itā€™s a 20 minute video so save it for a quiet afternoon when youā€™ve got a little bit of time to focus on it.

I love the idea of matching your soul to your goals. Decide how you want to feel, then establish goals that align with making that happen – and then only keep striving for those goals, while ever they still feel right.

Core desired feelings go beyond goal setting though; as Danielle says in the video, they can and should be used to guide every decision you make. For example if “abundance” is one of your core desired feelings (itā€™s one of mine) you probably aren’t going to be dining on chicken nuggets with Ronald. There is enough time and resources available to prepare yourself a far more delicious, far more healthful meal.

If you feel that stomach-clenching uneasiness with a particular situation or notice yourself acting uncomfortably, check in with your core desired feelings. Are you aligned with what you want for yourself, with how you want to feel?

This level of mindfulness can sound like an overwhelming prospect but checking in with yourself regularly is worth it according to those in the know. Iā€™m really trying to work on it.

After a few weeks of rumination, I’m aiming to live by:

  • Creation: not just to be ā€˜creative’ in my thoughts but to actively produce creative work, to participate in creation.
  • Abundance: there is enough, you are enough. Be generous & patient.
  • Intention: participate actively and whole-mindedly in all you do. The hardest one of all for me.

If you do the activity Danielle recommends, I’d love to hear what your core desired feelings are!

Are you a goals person? Or do you like this slightly more day-by-day approach?

x Liz

Photo note: Image from Death to the stock photo

Latest eats: Weekend proteins & a brownie sandwich

This weekendā€™s out-and-about eats saw us trading in the newest hotspots (like Three Bears Kitchen) for some slightly more established venues. Friday lunch was a farewell for a colleague at The Lucky Hotel. I devoured this healthful & totally photogenic blackened fishy over cajun rice & topped with a scoop of herby goodness.

Blackened fish & cajun rice | The Lucky Hotel Newcastle | lizniland.com

On the walk from The Lucky back to the office, I may or may not have popped into Hello Naomi with a couple of the girls. Salted caramel & peanut butter brownie sandwich: can you blame us?? So worth it.

Brownie Sandwiches | Hello Naomi | lizniland.com

After a cracking session at Gritshed, I swung by home & collected Michael for brunch at Fortunate Son in Hamilton. Iā€™ve been for a Friday night beverage and bar snack but after hearing great reviews, we still hadnā€™t made it in for a proper meal. This braised short rib hashbrown with rocket, tomato relish & poachies lived up to the hype and fuelled me up for a long walk around the beach.

Braised short rib hashbrown | Fortunate Son Hamilton | lizniland.com

Sunday mornings usually see Michael hit the yoga mat at Ashtanga Yoga Newcastle while I do the rounds at the farmersā€™ markets. I love getting in early and wandering about, picking out the best produce. Itā€™s so much fresher, more delicious and doesnā€™t cost me any more than the often imported and not-so-great options at the supermarket.

After we finish our activities, we head out for breakfast. This is the Savoury Mince at The Edwards. Most morning visits to The Edwards involve the are-you-getting-the-mince-or-can-I discussion. I won out this time with Michael enjoying the eggs & baked beans instead.

Savoury mince | The Edwards  Newcastle | lizniland.com

It was a delicious weekend! What were you feasting on?

x Liz

 

Photo note: All by me, on my trusty iPhone

Peptalk: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 6 rules of success

Arnie’s tips are for life both inside and outside the weights room. For all the controversy over the years, you gotta admit he’s been a very successful dude.

The most important rule of all: work your butt off.

Happy Monday!

x Liz

Best of the web: April 12th

Sunday links | April 12th | lizniland.com

Sorry to start this week’s link round up on a sad note but I can’t stop thinking about the awful case of Stephanie Scott; the 26-year old female teacher murdered by her 24-year-old male colleague less than a week out from her wedding. My thoughts are with her fiance, her family and everyone in her country-NSW community. It’s incredible how the death of someone you don’t know can have such an impact on you.

I’ve been feeling the urge to get out and explore of late but it’s hard to find enough time/money/insert-other-excuse to actually make it happen. For this reason, I love the concept of the microadventure Sarah Wilson posted about. Why not just get on the train or jump in the car & explore a new town for the day? Just go!

Supermodel Karlie Kloss has set up a scholarship to encourage young girls to learn to code, just like she did. How brilliant! So brilliant in fact, I won’t pass judgement on the associated Kardashian-esque hashtag, #KodeWithKarlie.

6 slightly oddball, totally awesome, ways to display fresh flowers” Nuff said, really.

I’ve missed readingĀ super cool blog Shutterbean for a couple of weeks and now I’ve got a whole stack of recipes to try out – it’s like the Easter bunny has come again! I’ve got my eye on Chorizo Potato Hash, Spicy Coconut Noodles, Sambal Chicken Skewers and Jalapeno Ginger Lime Spritzers.

Design For Mankind wrote such a sweet piece about motherhood and muffins. It’s also a lesson in how to do a really great sponsored post without feeling the slightest bit icky about it.

Dear Joy The Baker, I love you and your creative baking brain: Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate Cookies. I can’t even.

Bri’s cool Dress Your Tech feature has illustrated nudey ladies this week. They’re super fun but probs not suitable for your work PC!

Here’s a great piece all about Grace Bonney, the genius behind Design*Sponge.

Working online has been one big practice in getting used to not caring so much about what everybody thinks. That has always been difficult for me because, since I was a little girl, Iā€™ve caredway too much about what other people have thought about me.

Now, if your #cleaneating self is hating on me for this talk of chocolate bacon cookies and jalapeno cocktails, check this article out: How to make clean eating a bit less boring. Note: they don’t suggest adding bacon & rolling in sugar, FYI.

Hope you’ve had a superb weekend.

x Liz

Photo note: Image from Death to the stock photo

Staying in touch with far-flung friends

Keeping in touch with far-flung friends | lizniland.com

Tonight is the last hurrah for a close friend who’s moving over to the United Kingdom indefinitely. She’ll be back for our wedding in October later this year but beyond that, she’s hoping she’ll be met with a top-notch job and her own Prince Harry.

I have quite a few friends & family members who have lived, or still do live, overseas or interstate and I honestly find it difficult to keep in touch with them as much as I would like to.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (and the rest!) are convenient tools but I feel like they provide an illusion of connection: I can see where you’re working now (Like!), I know the name of your favourite coffee haunt (Retweet!) & I love the new boots you bought (<3Ā <3Ā <3) but I had no idea your grandma was ill and that the guy you were seeing was a dud and that you had a rotten day yesterday. Real connection, the kind that comes after a few sips of coffee and a mouthful of sweetness, is hard to recreate when there are oceans between you.

The long chats had while meandering through shopping malls are replaced by emails: Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply!!!

I struggle to share my love from afar but as someone who highly values loyalty, a close friend is never far from my mind, however far they slip down my must-respond email list. I’m an in-person connector, if that’s a properĀ type. The phone is for arranging catch ups, the emails always feel like the temporary fix. But what if they’re always going to live far away.

I think it’s different with the people you meet on adventures too. On my #PNTHAILAND14 culinary adventure, I met a dozen fantastic individuals who I still keep in touch with via social media. And that feels right. It feels like it works to just comment on funĀ photos and cheer on their successes. After all, while we shared a great trip, it was such a short time to get to know someone much deeper than their social media persona anyway. It’s so different to the people you’ve grown up with, counselled over silly boys, dressed up and danced away theĀ night with so many times. A Like, a Retweet, a late email doesn’t do that justice.

Short of taking regular trips halfway around the globe, I don’t know if there is a solution. Become a billionaire or live with the slight discord of a friendship from afar.

x Liz

P.s. How do you go with keeping in touch? I’d love to hear any tips for someone that needs to get better at it!

Photo note: Original image from Death to the stock photo.

The 8 essential tools for a wholefoods kitchen

Wholefood Kitchen Essentials | lizniland.com

While a sharpĀ knife and a chopping board will get you a long way, carefully investing in a handful of smallĀ kitchen gadgets will reallyĀ helpĀ amp up your wholefood home-cooking game.

Here are my always-in-the-sink kitchen essentials:

1. Stick/immersion blender

Making mayonnaise, smoothies, tahini, dips, soups and anything else you ever wanted in puree form, a stick blender is the easy-clean brother of the blender and the petit cousin of the food processor. It’ll struggle making nut milks but it’ll happily make a smooth and creamy choc-avo mousse. Keep an eye out for units with interchangeable fittings – mine plugs into a mini food processor and has a whisk attachment. Handy!

2. Proper knives

Yeah, random cheapo knives will do a decent job of dicing your chicken and roughly chopping your carrots but what about a speedy chiffonade of coriander? Or thinly sliced beef? Sharp, fancy knives may seem intimidating but the truth is blunt knives are more dangerous: have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes trying to hack into a bigger-than-your-average sweet potato with a knife thatĀ would struggle to cut butter? Practice doesn’t makeĀ 100% perfect (the wounds my chef little broĀ has had over the yearsĀ proveĀ that) but it certainly will help.

3. Measuring cups

Eye-balling a scoop of this & a scoop of that is all well & good for a casualĀ cook up but good luck getting a delicious raw creation to turn out dinner party-ready without keeping track of your cacao butter to rice malt syrup ratios. These ones are live-forever Tupperware.

4. Kitchen scissors

Traditionally used to spatchcock a chook, I use my kitchen scissors for plenty beyond chicken! An easy snip-the-tip for beans (get the kids involved) and a less scary way to finely slice your leafy herbs, scissors are also handy for plain old packet opening.

5. Garlic press

Squish cloves of garlic in a single squeeze! No need to get fiddly with your knives and attempt a fine slice, a decent garlic press can even cope if you leave the skin on. A tip: Rinse it out as soon as you’re done otherwise the dried up garlic is a treat to clean off when you finally get around to doing the dishes.

6. Measuring spoons

I’ll admit, I thought these were an unnecessary addition to the kitchen when they first debuted. Now though, I use this little tablespoon daily. Ultimate nerd out: try and make a morning smoothie without needing to wash it between ingredients – start with dry items and then work through to the messier goodies. I go chia seeds, then a scoop of maca powder, honey and then nut butter!

7. Julienne peeler

This is what you need to deliver the majestic zoodle (zucchini noodle) to your table. Like a vegetable peeler/grater hybrid, this little guy makes long, thin strips out of your veg. Once you get the hang of it, make these Comfort Noodles.

8. Microplane grater

Moving into a house that my aforementioned chef brother moved out of had its advantages: abandoned utensils. This grater was one such acquisition and I don’t think I’d be able to efficiently add ginger to meals or zest fruits without it. Super sharp (I’ve copped a couple of forced manicures), your Microplane needs that straight-away rinse after use too.

So does that cover off theĀ most used items in your kitchen drawers? What did I miss? I’ll post about my essentialĀ appliances and bigger kitchen gadgets soon. FYI, it’s a Thermomix-free zone. I’m still not convinced those things are worth the coin!

x Liz

 

Photo note: ImageĀ by me on my trusty iPhone with a little polish via the ABM Actions.

Thankful Thursday: April 9th

My list of love & gratitude for this week, as inspired by Gala Darling‘s old Things I Love Thursday.

Engagement photoshoot | lizniland.com

  • The blokeĀ in the above photo. He’s a good Easter egg, that one.
  • Clever photographers. The above shot is the first taste from our engagement shoot with photographer Lauren Campbell and I can’t wait to seeĀ the rest!
  • 4-day working weeks. Thanks Easter. Thanks Jesus. Thanks Bunny.
  • Lifting weights. I’m loving theĀ fresh eyes and different approaches of a new trainer. Still at the best gym in NewcastleĀ but nowĀ doing strength-focused bootcamp sessions with Sarah.
  • Health of my family. There was a scare… but it has turned into a treatable scare.
  • Excitement for friends. New homes, new adventures & new babies galore!
  • Chilly autumn days. I say this now… Ha! #novelty
  • Inspiring individuals. I’ve been listening to Ted Talks and Marie Forleo during the afternoon at work.

Autumn feet | lizniland.com

 

x Liz

P.s. What are you loving this week?

 

Photo note: First one by Lauren Campbell, second one by me on my trusty iPhone.

What’s your type? There’s a quiz for that

Coloured chairs | lizniland.com

I love doing personality tests, body type quizzes, reading about what my date of birth could mean for my destiny, and all manner of other could-be-bull multiple choice time-wasters.

Thing is, even if I don’t believe I should avoid chicken due to my blood type (B+) or that the location of the planets at the time of my birth will impact my career prospects, I still feel like I learn a little more about myself each time I have to look within, make a choice and tick a box.

I recently discovered my ayurvedic type is “Pitta”. Apparently I should minimise my consumption of eggs, garlic and spinach and get more into cucumber. Sorry inner self, that’s not happening. But what I did learn doing this one is that this type overheats easily (yes), prefers aggressive competitive sports (BodyCombat is totally my new favourite, behind lifting weights that is) and that if I’m out-of-balance, I can be short-tempered and argumentative (no comment).

At work, we use the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) to dig a little deeper into people’s personalities & behaviours and it’s always fascinating to sneak a peek at someone’s chart, especially if you find you really connect – or clash – with them. I’m a 2111 for those in the HBDI know. I already knew that I avoid fiddling with statistics and sums but that I’m an intuitive, creative, right-brained kind of character. What I didn’t realise though was how into order & organisation I am. Doing this test showed that I’m just as comfortableĀ writing a to-do list on fresh stationery (drool) as I am having a deep & meaningful conversation with a colleague while standing in the queue for the microwave. True story.

The Myers-Briggs personality test is a good one too: I’m an ENFJ, along with Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln and Oprah Winfrey. My contemporaries and I are charismatic natural-born leaders (clearly they all got a little more of that specialĀ sauce than I did) butĀ can be overlyĀ sensitive to criticism and worry too much. Google is your oyster to find out more once you know your type.

I certainly don’t think knowing your type in any evaluation is the be-all of life but I do like collecting the data all the same. I truly find them fascinating.

Maybe that’s because of my type?

x Liz

Photo note: Image from Death to the stock photo.