A touch of Paris in an unlikely place

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Nestled amongst a century-old church and towering trees is a place that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Here, the butcher throws in a freebie, strangers still greet each other and the eggs you just bought were collected this morning. It’s an epicurean mecca frequented by coffee snobs and Earth Mothers alike, where you’d be hard done by to find a croissant which didn’t explode with buttery, flaky goodness as it hit your mouth. But the best bit? You needn’t head to Europe to be part of the action, just the Manning Farmers’ Markets on Saturday morning.

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21 breakfast ideas to suit every time budget

Great breakfast isn’t just for Sunday mornings!

Credit: Siri Linden

This post is inspired by the Women’s Health Magazine Breakfast Streak challenge. #BreakfastStreak is a twitter challenge encouraging  people to eat breakfast every day for 30 days to promote better health by giving your body the fuel it needs to get you through the day. Make yourself a healthy breakfast, then pop a pic/description of it on twitter with the hashtag breakfaststreak. If you’re not really a breakfast person, this is a great way to get inspiration from a community of fellow 30 day (and hopefully longer) breakfast eaters.

Credit: Taste of Home

For breakfast in a flash

  • porridge topped with berries (frozen berries can be used when out of season), drizzled with honey
  • fruit salad with greek yoghurt, some chopped Brazil nuts and a dash of cinnamon
  • wholegrain toast topped with ricotta cheese, tomato, spinach and basil
  • breakfast banana split from Taste of Home
  • a wholegrain muffin topped with sliced banana, honey and cinnamon
  • strawberry, blueberry and banana smoothie with nutmeg, flaxseed, soy milk and yoghurt
Make these in advance for a quick breakfast

Credit: Chris Rochelle

15 minute breakfast ideas

Those with more time on their hands might like to try:


My spinach and feta baked egg roll

  •  1 multigrain roll
  • 1 slice of proscuitto
  • handful spinach
  • 1tbs tomato relish
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs feta

Preheat oven to 180*C. Cut a large circle around the top of the roll and pull out bread (this can be saved to make fresh breadcrumbs), creating a hole in the roll taking care not to go all the way through to the other side. Spread relish on the base of the roll and line the inside of the roll with the proscuitto. Fill with spinach and crack the egg inside the roll. Sprinkle egg with a bit of water (this helps stop the top of the egg going hard). Top with feta, salt and pepper and put in oven until egg is cooked and feta has turned golden.

Enjoy!

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How to be happy: 10 ‘happy steps’ recommended by experts

Happiness is a learned behaviour, according to ‘happiness specialists’. Genes and upbringing influence about 50% of our happiness. Circumstances (income, living environment) only affects 10%.

The remaining 40% is accounted for by our outlook on life, something we all have the power to change for the better.

Making Slough Happy, a documentary which followed a team of six specialists in their quest to make the people of Slough (a town in the UK) happier. Specialists believed that focusing on improving the happiness of 50 people of varying moods, and backgrounds within the community would improve the overall happiness of Slough by way of ‘the ripple effect’

“Modern society militates against contentment in various ways: that we are very busy to no particular purpose; that we fret about the past and we worry about the future and we forget about the present; that we talk all the time about diet and exercise then we eat badly and slob out; that we would love to be part of a community, but spend half our lives staring at TV screens and playing online poker.”

The team of specialists (a psychologist, psychotherapist, work place specialists and a social entrepreneur came up with a ‘happiness manifesto’ of 10 simple lifestyles changes they believe can dramatically change a person’s outlook.

The 10 steps to happiness
  1. Plant something and nurture it
  2. Count your blessings – at least five – at the end of each day
  3. Take time to talk – have an hour-long conversation with a loved one each week
  4. Phone a friend whom you have not spoken to for a while and arrange to meet up
  5. Give yourself a treat every day and take the time to really enjoy it
  6. Have a good laugh at least once a day
  7. Get physical – exercise for half an hour three times a week
  8. Smile at and/or say hello to a stranger at least once each day
  9. Cut your TV viewing by half
  10. Spread some kindness – do a good turn for someone every day

For more information on the documentary:

What’s it all about? Read the press release here

Read interesting articles on Making Slough Happy herehere and here 

Buy the book, How To Be Happy: Making Slough Happy, here

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The ultimate gift. Lessons to learn from Shirley’s second chance.

Image source: recycleme.org

“It was about 8.30 in the morning. The doctor came in, closed the door and pulled my curtains around my hospital bed. He pulled up a chair, put his elbows on his knees and rested his chin in his hands. I remember thinking ‘this is not looking good’.”

Shirley Goode’s battle with cancer had taken a serious blow. An aggressive form of leukaemia, discovered by chance, had invaded her body and the intensive round of chemotherapy she had been given had failed. But Shirley’s story is one with a happy ending. It is with a glass of wine in her hand and tears welling in her eyes that she recalls the long and arduous road to recovery. After a second unsuccessful round of chemotherapy, Shirley underwent a bone marrow transplant. That’s the reason why she is here today. While there have been many vital elements in Shirley’s return to health, there’s no doubt in her mind why she’s able to share her story: “For me, I’m conscious all the time that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that transplant.”

The facts

  • 90 per cent of Australian’s support the idea of tissue and organ donation, but has one of the worst donation rates in the developed world.
  • One organ, eye and tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of 10 or more people.
  • Around 1600 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists.
  • On average, people on the transplant list can wait between 6 months and 4 years, though waits for up to 7 years are not uncommon and many die waiting
Why aren’t there more donors
  • In order for a person to be an organ donor they have to die of brain death, only a very small number of people die under those circumstances
  • In Australia, the family will always be asked to confirm the donation wishes of the deceased before donation for transplantation can proceed. If your family are not aware of your wishes, it can make it very hard for them to agree to the donation of your organs

People who want to donate their organs when they die must express their wishes to their family as they have final say.

What’s important

“The people you care about, spending time with them is just paramount and I appreciate nature so much more now. If we go for a walk in Kings Park or along the beach, I take the time to notice the weather and to look at the trees and smell the smells. I have this almost-spiritual feeling about what life’s really about rather than having to live it at 100 miles an hour and getting somewhere only to think ‘did I enjoy that?’”, Shirley says.

“I really do wish that more people would consider donation seriously. An If you can help someone have a healthier time in their life and you’re not going to suffer for it, I just don’t see why not.”

The lesson

You may know your that your sister picked her nose until the age of 12, that her middle name is Agnes and she’s secretly in love with Sylvester Stallone, but do you have any what she would like to donate her organs in the event of her death? Perhaps not, but I bet you wouldn’t think twice about accepting one if it means a second chance at life. Whether we want to donate our organs or we don’t, the people who will be making the decisions for us when we die need to know our wishes.

We need to get talking about organ donation if we want to safe lives. 

For more information

http://www.donatelife.gov.au/ (Australia)

http://donatelife.net/ (America)

http://www.transplant.ca/pubinfo_orgtiss.htm (Canada)

http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/ukt/default.asp (UK)

http://socyberty.com/society/the-philippines-and-organ-donation/ (Philippines)

Also check out this post which explores common myths associated with organ donation

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Calming influences: 6 easy ways to simplify your life and cut the clutter

Life, at times, is noisy. Not just by way of sound, but also in terms of clutter. We’re bombarded with advertising everywhere we look (and listen). Packaging is so often incomparable to product (buy a child a toy and marvel at the Fort Knox like packaging that generally accompanies it). Our minds are constantly racing. Here’s a few really easy ways you can simplify your life, help the environment, and just be all-round awesome!

Unsubscribe from unwanted emails and e-newsletters

You log into your email to find there are 200 new emails. You then wade through them for 20 minutes to find that there are only 3 of any importance, the rest are from some site you bought one thing from 5 years ago, or worse still, telling you to shed the pounds, find a ‘soul mate’ in your local area or increase the size of your… Sound familiar? Instead of trashing them straight away, take the time to block them or unsubscribe from future emails (this is generally an option you can find at the bottom of the email). This will help you make more room for the important stuff, as well as find it quicker. Plus who wants to see an email that suggests you need to lose weight before they’ve even had breakfast?

Opt out of receiving phone books

With mobile phones and the internet, who really needs the yellow or white pages anymore? Especially when they’re the size of a small house, are sent out every year and cost us a hell of a lot of trees. Opt out of delivery at the following link https://www.directoryselect.com.au/ds/

No junk sign on your letter box

According to Australian Catalogue Association, nearly 7 Billion catalogues, distributed primarily through household letterboxes in 2009. The best way to reduce the waste is to create less demand. Grab a “no junk mail” sign for your letter box. You can pick them up from your post office or most hardware stores. For more info check out http://www.ecocitizenaustralia.com.au/reducing-your-junk-mail-in-australia/ 

Organise your cupboards and storage

So you’ve been putting off cleaning out the garage/spare room/space under the stairs for some time now but you know it needs to be done. Make some space, or better yet – some money – by selling your unwanted goods online. Gumtree operates in many countries and is a free way to sell (or give away) unwanted items. Otherwise, Freecycle is a brilliant initiative where you can join a community of people in your local area who want to help reduce landfill by making their unwanted goods available to others instead to heading straight to the tip.

Swap radio for a cd or ipod

Consider opting to listen to your iPod or a CD. You’ll get to listen to music you like. Unless your favourite station is ad free, the price you pay for listening to the newest music (over and over until you can’t stand it anymore) is a ridiculous ad to song ratio (and more often than not, a rather douchey dj).

Do not call register

If you are sick of people calling to find out if you would like to save money on your long distance phone calls at dinner time, this one’s for you. The Do Not Call Register was put in place to help reduce the amount of calls you get from telemarketers on your home phones. Take the time to register – it will get you 6 years of telemarketer-free dining bliss!

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Inspiration for when you’re having ‘one of those days’

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You rock my world – A simple Valentines Day idea

This Valentines Day, the girls and I gave our love the world.

Well, kind of.

You see, we have intentions of giving the world. We made a money box out of a globe, the money we save in it will go towards gallant adventures in far aways places.

 

It’s really simple to make. Here’s how to do it.

 

You will need:

- A globe (made of cardboard or plastic – not metal.  Available here or here, or try grabbing a bargain from ebay)

- A stanley trimmer

Using the stanley trimmer, cut a 'door' into the bottom of the globe. Cutting it at the bottom will make it less visible.

open door to insert cash

Open the door to insert cash. I recommend using it for notes only, to get you to your destination sooner!

Just add money then book your flights!

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The easiest Thai dish ever!

The Thais have food sussed. Anyone who’s experienced a Thai curry, noodle dish or Tom Yum soup can vouch for the symphony of flavours which dance around your tongue, perfectly in time without standing on another’s toes. Thai food is all about bringing together  flavours which communicate with the tastebuds: the salty; the sweet; the sour; and a healthy dose of spice to keep the party going. But we can learn just as much from Thai food culture as we can from the style of cooking. Thai food isn’t solely about filling an empty tummy, nor is it simply a meal. Thai meals are about rituals and respect. They are about the sourcing of food, the preparation of the meal, and, most importantly, about coming together and sharing it with others. It’s not about filling your plate and scoffing it down. It’s about grazing, lots of small servings and appreciating flavours and company. Sometimes it’s about deep-fried grasshoppers, of which I’m not so convinced (although my brother has been known to enjoy a bag of them after a night on the town. He says they taste like peanuts…hmmm).

So in celebration of Thai food culture, I invite you to try making this incredibly easy Thai beef salad. I’ve adjusted the traditional recipe so that it uses more readily-available ingredients. That’s the beauty of this dish – it can be changed to your liking. I used slices of honey soy beef left over from last nights bbq, but it would be equally delicious with chicken, prawns or pork. Vegetarians might want to opt for tofu or no meat at all. You could also substitute sliced snow peas or snow pea shoots for bean sprouts, or lemon for lime. The one thing that you really must do to make it taste it’s best every time,  is to eat it with good company.

AN EASY THAI BEEF SALAD FOR 4

Ingredients

100g vermicelli noodles

1 medium beef steak, cooked and sliced

1 Carrot, grated

1 lebanese cucumber, julienned (or sliced)

handful of bean sprouts, washed

handful of mint, torn

handful of coriander, torn

1/2 cup of chopped unsalted cashews or peanuts, plus 1 tbs extra to serve.

Dressing

2 tbs sweet chilli sauce

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbs fish sauce

To make salad

Firstly, boil some water in a kettle, place the noodles in a bowl and top with the boiled water. Let them stand for 5 minutes or so, so they are soft, then drain and rinse under cold water. Add all ingredients into a bowl, pour in dressing and toss. Top with extra nuts to serve.

To make dressing

Put ingredients in a small jar or container with a lid and shake well.

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13 simple ways to improve your day

http://biebzlieber.tumblr.com/post/163544374581) Laugh

There’s little doubt – life is better with laughter. Get some inspiration by checking out Time’s 50 best Youtube videos or watch one of IMDB’s top 100 funniest movies of all time

2) Make life better for someone else

In the words of the Dalai Lama: “if you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” For ideas on how you can make someone else’s day that little bit better, visit http://thehalfwaypoint.net/2009/09/50-simple-ways-to-pay-it-forward/

3) [Re]Connect with someone

We often lose contact with loved ones amid the busyness of life, but what’s life without the ones you love? Visit your grandma, call someone instead of messaging them on Facebook or Skype a friend on the other side of the world and get a feel-good kick.

4) Mix it up

They say a change is as good as a holiday. I’m not completely convinced it’s as good as a holiday, but if its even a fraction as good, I’ll take it! Why not try taking a different route to work; getting a new hair cut; visiting a new restaurant; exploring a new suburb; or waking up 20 minutes earlier and enjoying not being in a rush!

5) Eat breakfast

Poor breakfast, it gets a rough deal. It’s often rushed, eaten on-the-go, or missed completely. Breakfast has plenty to offer; it’s an opportunity to fill your tummy for the first time in 10 hours or so; it gives you the energy you need to start the day; and it’s the only meal where you can get away with eating something sweet! For breakfast inspiration, visit http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/collections/breakfast-and-brunch-recipes.aspx

6) Surround yourself in photos

The digital revolution has made taking photos easier than ever before, but it’s also made us less likely to print them out. Instead of popping them on Facebook, Twitter or emailing them, why not get some printed out and surround yourself in happy memories. While you’re at it, print and mail a copy for someone that would to see them and for a real laugh, check out your old baby photos too!

7) Exercise

We all know exercise is good for us but it’s often easier said than done. You needn’t run 20kms in the searing heat to get results. Why not try dancing, yoga, taking the dog for a walk, playing basketball with the kids or try one of these ideas.

8) Fix something

Is there something you’ve been putting off fixing for another day, but that day never seems to come? Make today that day. Whether it be a light bulb that needs changing, your favourite boots with a dogdgy zip or friendship that needs attention, put in the effort to reap the reward.

9) Do something creative

Make something beautiful, useful or delicious – you might even surprise yourself. If you’d like some inspiration, check out madeit.com.au or etsy.com and see what others have been up to. If you just want to get stuck into your own project but not sure what to do, visit the Instructables website  and learn to make everything from your own boomerang to a never-ending desk.

10)Turn off the television

Do you watch television to relax? Why not try going for a leisurely bike ride along the beach, meeting friends at a cafe or listening to music instead? Or if you watch it for entertainment – why not check out some local music, a comedy act or play? And if you’re just bored –  find a project to do, organise a weekend away or do something you’ve been wanted to do but keep putting off. If nothing else, you won’t have to watch any ridiculous ads!

11) Give a compliment

Making someone else feel good about themselves is bound to make you feel good about yourself. Positivity breeds positivity. The real trick is to actually mean the compliment instead of just saying the first thing that comes to your head.

12) Channel your inner child

Remember how simple life was when you were a kid? Revisit the good old days with a game of backyard cricket, a tea party with friends, your favourite movie when you were a kid, or a picnic in the park.

13) Challenge yourself

Accepting a challenge gives purpose, seeing it through give you a sense of accomplishment and self worth. Do a crossword, enrol in a course,

Visit http://the365daychallenge.com/ for more inspiration

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Made a New Year’s resolution? Here’s how to keep it

The self-help industry is a multibillion dollar industry, making everyone from the Dalai Lama to Dr Phil household names. It’s a part of human nature to want to better ourselves, but in an cruel twist, we find changing habits difficult. An American survey has revealed that one quarter of people who make New Year’s resolutions have broken the resolution after the first week, with less than half making it to the six-month mark. Here’s some tips on how to be one of the minority who see them through for the long term.

1) Identify obstacles and find ways to overcome them

What is it that is getting in the way of you achieving your goal? Write a list of what these things are and think of ways to prevent them from happening and think of ways to get around them. Perhaps you’d like to see more of friend but you’re both busy – why not catch up for a game of tennis instead of going to the gym one day a week? Or if you’re trying to save money but love eating out, get a cookbook from the library or search the internet for a recipe to try your hand at.

2)Form new habits to replace old ones

Habits are formed through repetition. If we do something enough times, the process is stored in our brains to the point where we sometimes find ourselves doing something without giving it much thought, like having a cigarette after work or eating a bag of chips while watching television. Make a conscious effort to replace this habit with something else (it may be as simple as drinking a glass of water instead of having a cigarette, or you may wish to learn a new skill or take up a hobby like knitting in front of the television instead of eating that bag of chips!). With enough persitence it will become second nature.

3) Tell people your goals and enlist support

Whether it’s a doctor, friends and family, a personal trainer, or a club, it’s harder to go back on your word once you’ve gotten other people involved. Not only can they offer suggestions, distraction, and moral support, we often find it easier to disappoint ourselves than we do others. There is also a  deluge of tools at your disposal such as websites, phone applications, Facebook groups which can help you along the way.

4) Remember that change isn’t easy

An obvious point, but it is important to keep this in mind. Reward yourself for reaching milestones (e.g. no cigarettes for a week = reading your favourite magazine, a month of consistent gym visits = new running shoes,  saving $200 = hot bath, candles, music and a book).  If you do find yourself slipping back to your old ways, don’t dwell on it but don’t let it be a segway for giving up either. Remind yourself of all the hard work you’ve put in to get this far and remember that tomorrow is a new day.

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