Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Papaya Boat with Coconut, Tahini, Banana Chia Cream

Isn't it a little odd how I can get my hands on such juicy tropical fruit, smack bang in the middle of Melbournian winter?  I'm always taking a whole container filled with melons and mangoes and paw paws to school. It's a little funny how our fridge is literally overflowing with bargains that we hunted down at the local fruit and veggie shop. Dragon fruits, mangoes, persimmons, papayas, watermelon, star fruit, every fruit you can find on a tropical island is bound to be in our fridge at some point in the week. The trick is to really get you know your fruit and veggie shop properly. What time do they close? That's usually when they put the prices down. Do they have a discount trolley? Many people think that discount trolleys are mainly filled with rotten stuff that no-one wants to buy. However mum and I have realised that the fruits and veggies that you find in the discount box, or in the discount trolley are quite perfect. Buying fruit and veggies from the local green grocers is also a whole lot cheaper that buying from your average supermarket. Take my word.

Today I made a mini coconut, tahini chia cream, papaya boat topped with goji berries and pepitas. I was inspired by a papaya coconut tahini smoothie that my friend made for me, but I just love eating papayas straight from their skin and I also wanted to make a vegan reprise. The papaya tends to lose it's flavour when you put it in a smoothie, unless of course you add a heap of sugar to it, which I definitely didn't want to do. 

The coconut milk, dates and tahini actually go really well together, the banana brings it all together and the chia seeds simply added texture.

3 tbs coconut milk
3 tsp chia seeds
3 tbs water
3 tablespoons shredded coconut
1/2 a small small banana
1 medjool date
1 tbs organic tahini
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

1. place chia seeds in the water, and let rest for 10 minutes
2. place the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until the mixture becomes smooth
3. add in the chia seeds and pulse until combined
4. spoon the seeds out of the papaya and spoon the cream into the crevice 
5. top with whatever you want and enjoy! 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Meal In a Jar

This week I went raw! Even though I am so proud of myself, I felt that the entire week was surprisingly easy and super  fun. I didn't feel like I was doing anything out of the way or extraordinarily different. It was so easy to just come home, mash up a whole heap of veggies in our high speed blender, and then spoon it on to some swiss chard leaves for a raw veggie green wrap. No cooking, no chopping board, hardly any washing and best of all, it was soo tastey and really healthy!

I will add some more recipes as to what I ate this whole week but I am hoping to continue raw food for a very long time. I have to warn you that there is a misconception that when doing the raw food diet one has to be 100% fully raw.  Most people actually eat around 50-50 raw to cooked or 75-25 raw to cooked or anything other ration they want really as long as they are incorporating as many raw green living foods as possible into their diet. 

I encourage all of you do do some research, and if you think it's your thing, give it a go.  I look up to raw foodists like Fully Raw Kiristina and get most of my inspiration from her. Thanks Kiristina!

Today I whipped up something of my own, which I think is quite clever seeing as I recently had my braces tightened and can't really chew anything remotely chewable. I'm not really sure what to call it so I've dubbed it "meal in a jar" because it is packed full of nutrients, fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, calcium... oh well the list goes on. It simply consists of layers of carrot banana fig smoothie and grounded flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia sees, coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds and a few dried goji berries within a jar.

1 fig
1 carrot
1 banana
1/2 cup water
1 tbls hemp protien
cinamon to your taste
1 inch ginger

flaxseeds 2 tsp
chia seeds 2 tsp
goji berries 1tsp
1 tsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp pepitas
2 tsp shredded coconut

1. blend all the ingredients for the smoothie together in a high speed blender and transfer into a bowl
2. pulse all the ingredients for the grinde and stop when it becomes a fine crumble
3. layer it in a jar as shown above or simply eat together in a bowl

Friday, 18 July 2014

Reduce your stress: three handy hints

If your just having one of those weeks where you seem to be dragging your left foot behind you wherever you go, or if your system is on overdrive, or if stress has a death hold on you, just stop. Yup even stop reading this post and just sit in your chair for a few minutes and take a few deep breathes. Sometimes, more often than I should, I have these weeks but I've found that doing simple little things, the tiniest minuscule things help you get through the week a little less scathed.

Tip 1: Rather that opting for your daily egg and bread combination, or your bowl of cereal or oats, try something different at least once and start of your day with a fruit salad! Eating fruit in the morning is the perfect way to debloat and detoxify your body because it's so easy on the digestive system. Fruit, unlike carbohydrates, digests a whole lot faster, leaving you lighter, and more energetic than ever. Most people really need that extra boost of energy, but the nutrients in the fruit salad will sustain you until about mid morning. waddya know? I suggest slicing up a variety of fruits and placing them in a bowl and sprinkling them with cinnamon, lemon and coconut flakes. Those of you out there who are enjoying the blessed summer, exotic fruits have bucket loads of nutrients and are better absorbed by your body in the morning especially in an empty stomach. Maybe a mono meal of cantaloupe? Maybe watermelon? Bananas? So quick, so easy!

Tip 2: Meditate for a few minutes a day. Even 5 minutes is enough to do the trick. Sit yourself down somewhere quiet. Place your hand on your stomach and feel yourself breathe as your stomach moves up and down. Just focus on your breathing, the sounds around you and your head space. If your mind wanders, don't worry because it's perfectly normal. Simply use your steady breathing as an anchor to bring you back to the present. Here is a great site that I use to aid my meditation for a Smiling Mind

Tip 3: This week I created a great face mask for glowing skin. I've only tried it on my skin colour which is medium brown. I used avocados because they are filled with vitamin A, good for purifying the skin of dead cells, turmeric, (also a great anti-inflammatory for those who are prone to acne or the occasional break out) and oats or buckwheat to leave your skin soft and supple and to relieve irritation and redness. The turmeric will tint your skin, however if your dark, it adds a glowing tint. For lighter skin, I suggest using it at night time and possibly a little less of it or add more oats to balance out the colour.

1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tbs of oats
half an avocado

1. add warm water until it just covers the 2 tbs of oats in a bowl and wait until it's soft.
2. In a blender add all the ingredients and blend until smooth
3. apply to face and wait for 15 minutes before washing of with water or a hot wet towel.

I really hope that was useful :)
Enjoy your week everyone

Monday, 7 July 2014

Markets: A lost world

Its 9 am. Saturday, mid mornings have a foggy, welcoming lazyness to them. The sun is out in midwinter Melbourne.

It's a good day and I can tell you that it's not a subjective opinion. It is a fact that today is a brilliant day because the sun has managed to finally get up out of it's bed of grey sheets and peep in to say hello. About time really because due to the last few blustery days, my rabbit has not been able to go for her daily walk-abouts in our back yard and was sitting like a cranky old lady, thumping all through her waking hours, which is unfortunately also when I sleep.

I grab my cloth market bags, chuck on my favourite pair of jeans and head to the local farmers market.

Markets always have a certain "it factor". One is always affected by the electrical buzz of excitement that touches your skin as soon as you enter market grounds. It's raw. It's real. You can feel it in the air, smell it in the air around snack stalls, wafting up into your nose and tickling your appetite with exotic cultural cuisine; stalls of sugar coated roasted nuts from Switzerland, various sticky sweet pastries from Denmark, Crepes and Galettes from France, fried rice, dumplings, caramel popcorn. It goes on. You can hear it in the conversations around you, a mixture of excitable childish squeals and soft intrigued murmurs and simple happy human interaction buzzing along to a steady communal rhythm.

The veggies are always shinier and tastier, the people more interesting. The things you find never cease to amaze you. Did I mention free taste samples galore!? I'm Sri Lankan, what can I say, we just love free food. It can be something like free pea protein and I'd still sneak in for a double taste test. Might I add that pea protein tastes surprisingly good.

I encourage all of you to find our where your local farmers market is located and head over there this weekend and just enjoy the carefree nature of a Saturday morning out. Eat, drink, shop, smell, feel, hear see. Indulge in every sensation and I'll doubt that you won't find more. :)

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The coconut tree I once took for granted

My great grand uncle's house in Jaffna was where I spent the last few years of my permanent residence in Sri Lanka. 

I loved it very much. Often, it's great yellow-creamed walls, and sandy yards filled with jasmine bushes and their lovely perfume float back into my adolescent mind now and then. It was the smell of balmy summers and  orange tinted skies. But I still can't forget the singularly magnificent, large coconut tree that stood out the front of our family home, snuggled in among the landscape of rural Jaffna
It was a king. A benevolent king whose role in life was to provide it's people (the residents of my great uncles estate), with beautiful coconuts whenever possible. 

Coconuts were an average normal part of our everyday life in Jaffna. My great grand-fathers owned coconut estates, just like many other men who lived in villages like ours all over Sri Lanka, and I was their typical coconut loving grand daughter.  Where we here in the western parts of the world enjoy an apple or two during the day (unless your like me and devour a few more than what's considered normal), those in Sri Lanka can joyfully relish the unique flavours of beautiful young coconuts all day long, either bought off the streets from vendors for a reasonable fare, or picked off their own trees by their very own hands. With home grown coconuts come a certain satisfaction in slurping down the juice of a coconut straight from your own yard. As a child, I grew off coconut juice as if it was the elixir of happiness. I slurped it down, inhaled it's sickly sweet flavour and indulged in its beautifully white flesh. We cooked with ripe coconut flakes and used it in all of our dishes - puddus, varrais and sweets and things. I used the empty shells as bowls to. We played with empty coconut shells in our front yard and used them to collect various miscellaneous things. 

But then we left Sri Lanka and it was quite some time before I tasted the subtle, sweet flavours of coconut juice again, when I went back to Sri Lanka for a holiday. I almost cried yesterday, when there, nestled in amongst ripe bananas and weird and wonderful exotic fruits, lay a bunch of beautiful, young, green coconuts whose shells shone like the beautiful memory of my great grandfather's glistening bold spot. Hehe

                  (This website has amazing photo's from all around the world, celebrating the diversity of our world; its cultures and lifestyles, people and food.)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Tomato pomegranate salad with avocado mint dressing

Weekends are my favourites because it is literally the only chance I get to cook, or rather, throw-things- together-that-are-edible.

I'm taking a very interesting fitness/health elective an I'm absolutely loving it. We're learning so much about training techniques, the systems of our body and of course nutrition. We just recently had a lesson on food combining and I have been putting it to practise. I encourage you all to search it up because it's theory is very interesting.

The basic theory is that different kinds of food digest in different ways. The mistake we make in our everyday diet is mixing together too many different kinds of foods all in one go and they end up reacting very badly in our stomachs, which is probably why lots of us experience bloating, indigestion and all sorts of other tummy problems. I am warning you, it is not an easy feat because we are so used to eating a specific way, but lots of people do feel a whole lot better eating this way

Our assignment for this week was to go home and make something which was
1) gluten-free
2) refined sugar free
3) as healthy as can be

I went online and researched a little and went on (which is a fantastic website might I add) and was inspired by a beautiful pomegranate and tomato salad. Not all of the ingredients were on offer at my veggie market so I adapted it a little and made my own dressing. Click here for the original recipe. However, it used pomegranate molasses, which must add a whole new dimension to the salad, but unfortunately, I don't just stock up on pomegranate molasses.

Tomato pomegranate salad with avocado mint dressing
 Ingredients (salad):
200gm cherry tomatoes diced
200 gm yellow cherry tomato200 gm plum tomato
4 medium vine tomatoes1 red pepper
1 small red onion
1 cup chickpeas
2 pomegranates
1 cup
(dressing)1/2 an avocado
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil1 tsp cayenne pepper 
1 tsp ground coriander
2 medjool dates
small clove garlic
small handful mint salt
1)dice all the tomatoes, onions and red pepper 
2) chop parsley finely and add to a bowl with all the diced veggies and pomegranate along with the chickpeas 
3) in a blender add all the ingredients for the dressing and salt to your taste and blend until well combined 
4) Add salt to taste
5) serve together with dressing or with dressing on the side 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Papaya, persimon, aavocado, capsicum and other stuff smoothie bowl!

Hey guys! Few! The last few weeks have been very hectic but I have survived. It was just one of those weeks where I wasn't listening to my body and as a result, it took revenge on me, bombarding me with headaches, fatigue, back aches, leg aches, morning sniffles and breakouts. Je ne sommes pas dans mon assiette. I hope that French reference was correct haha. But one good thing is that with all my tests and assignments handed in for now, I can relax this weekend, something I haven't been able to do in a long time.

After a very good nights sleep, I woke up feeling amazing! That pesky little head ache that hung around for the entire week had disappeared and I felt good so I decided to celebrate with a smoothie bowl.

It is a little unusual but I needed a way to use up all that exotic fruit that my mum had brought in this week. The capsicum and ginger add in just the right amount of heat for a cold morning, and the papaya and persimmon added in the colour for autumns, and the cilantro and mint added in the perfect freshness. And of course, the Pepitas, flax seeds and walnuts added in the boost of iron that my body was craving the entire week as well as a good crunch.

1 cup papaya
half a red capsicum
half and avocado
a handful of cilantro
1 persimmon
1 teaspoon ginger
3-4 leaves of mint
1 teaspoon flax seeds
1 handful pepitas

crushed walnuts
Acai Berry powder

1. Blend all the ingredients for the smoothie together
2. Pour the mixture into a bowl and top with any of your favourite toppings :)

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Relay For Life

Oh wow, I have so much to write about!

Last Saturday, my friends and I participated in the Cancer Council's Relay For Life. In teams, families and friends get together, set up tents and relay (walking/running) in shifts of 3 hours all around where ever the event is taking place (which varies from region to region) for a total of 24 hours. It was so wonderful to see so many people from the community taking part in this event in order to raise awareness of cancer and it's troubles, raise money for prospective research and new innovations that might in the future lead to a cure for cancer, and share their hope for a cancer free future. The event was very moving, with dozens of families sharing stories of survivors, battlers, and lost loved ones who had fought so hard against cancer. 

When the sun started to set, the "Hope" bags came out. These were brown paper bags with the words "Hope" written across them as well as messages for lost loved ones. Even in the middle of the night, when the sun had set, and the generators had unfortunately broken down, these Hope bags burned through the night. 

I managed to receive 2 shifts in a row, so my friend and I were walking continuously for 6 hours straight, with the longest time we spent on our bums being approximately 10 minutes. The wind bit hard, and the cold soon crept in but we did it. We walked 7 hours in total, and each hour we walked 5 km so all up, we walked 35 km plus a little bit extra. YAY. I am so extremely proud of us, and we are still waiting for the donations and sponsorships to roll in, and I will tell you all exactly how much we raised very soon. 

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful experience. There were performances all night long, Zumba lessons, candle lighting, massage tents, hot food, speeches, songs, dancing, laughter and so much more. I am definitely participating next year and I encourage all of you to get onto the official Relay For Life  website  here and find out where your next nearest relay is occurring. Thank you all very much

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Beetroot Soup

While the rest of the world enjoys their first few moments with dearest Spring, we on the other side of the world are prepped for Autumn. There are only a few ways for beat the chills and one of my favourite involves the use of my taste buds. Food! Did you know that the process of eating is one of the very few activities where we use all our five senses? Tasting, feeling, seeing, smelling and I guess even hearing. Anyway, what better food for the chills than a huge bowl of warm soup?

My mum often uses beetroots in her smoothies but today I decided to make a beetroot base soup with carrot and ginger.

Ginger goes well with a lot of roots, especially when making raw soups in our Vitamix  blender so I decided to see how it went with beetroot. And I was right! The soup tasted surprisingly amazing! My friend also told me to try adding the zest of some oranges and it did just the trick.

Beetroot soup (raw blend Vitamix)
for more raw blend vitamix recipes visit:

2 whole beetroots
2 carrots
2 small tomatoes
1/4 capsicum
2 spring onion stalks (onion for the normal method)
half a garlic
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 table spoon apple cider vinegar
half a green apple
1 table spoon ginger
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 cups water or vegetable stock

Normal Method
  1. roughly chop beetroot, carrots, tomato and capsicum and place in a pot with salt and water or vegetable stock and bring to boil
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion, garlic and ginger
  3. on low heat add a table spoon of vegetable or coconut oil and add the onion. 
  4. Temper the onion for about 5 minutes then add the garlic, ginger, and orange zest and cook, stirring now and then to prevent the ingredients sticking to the pan and burning, until onions are soft.
  5. add the boiled veggies and the stock and the apple cider vinegar and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the vegetable are just soft enough to process through your blender.
  6. turn the stove off and let it cool, then transfer to a blender and puree with the apples in batches until mixture is smooth. 
Vitamix method

  1. roughly chop the beetroot, carrots, tomato and capsicum and put it into the blender along with the spring onion, garlic, pepper, salt, ginger, orange zest, apple cider vinegar and vegetable stock or water.
  2. Turn the Vitamix on and starting from the lowest number turn the dial slowly all the way to the maximum set and then switch the second switch to "high". 
  3. leave the blender on for around 2 minutes and then add the apple and lemon. 
  4. Blend for a further minute or until steam starts escaping from the jug. 
  5. Turn the blender off and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Things to do in Winter.

Winter is beginning to settle over us now. It's actually just the start of autumn, but I can feel winter's foreboding presence. It's drifting over us, slowly yet steadily, waiting to completely cover our little heads with its blanket of dark rolling grey clouds while we rush through daily life blissfully unaware of it until bam! Rain, torrent, hail, cold nights, purple toes and forever wet shoe souls. Voila! Before you know it, autumn has passed and winter moves in like the obnoxious older brother that it is.

I never used to like winter very much. It always made me feel as if I was constantly wrapped in a large cold, soggy, wet blanket. However, with the recent breakthrough that I have had with myself, I'm beginning to break through those gloomy patches of negativity and starting to look at things in a different light.  I have learnt that there are certain recreational activities and leisurely pastimes that have been cultivated specifically for the cosy, chilled temperament of wintertime.

Things to do during winter:

1. Eat hearty, homey foods. During the season of downheartedness, and feelings of utter desolation, we come to appreciate the foods that somehow seem to pat our stomachs from the insides, almost as if they were saying "there, there, it's alright!". Thank god for Chilli and pumpkin soup eh?

2. Wrap yourself in the warmest blankets and have a day in. Read a book, watch tv, eat food, write and look through old photo albums.

3. Clean out your fireplace and have a girls night in. Roast some corn, toast some whole meal bread and some cinnamon apples on top to some of your favorite songs.

4. Shop for socks! I have fallen I love with socks. I really have. Whether it's for the cold weather or as a funky accessory, socks are now a girl's best friend.

5. Photograph!! The work looks so much more beautiful through a camera lens. Brighten and beautify your world by taking heaps of photos of the world around you. Flowers, leaves, bark, tree trunks, insects, and animals all look so fresh during winter. Some of my photos, I GOT A NEW CAMERA!!!! Canon EOS 600D. Yay:

6. Discover new warm beverages. Stop with the coffee for a while and try something different. Maybe a heart warming cup of chai, or ginger lemon tea, or English Breakfast, or an earl grey. Try something herbal like chamomile or fix something up yourself because there are literally hundreds of easy recipes out there.  I found this delicious cup of Pear and Cinnamon Almond Milk Recipe by LindaWagner. It's absolutely delicious.

Pear and Cinnamon Almond Milk 

7. Find your happy place. Go for a little walk about in and around your city in search of that perfect place to sit down and have a good read. Maybe a nice, sheltered park bench, a cute book store or a warm cafe with a bubbly atmosphere will be your little "me space". Use this space to think, drink warm beverages, (mine will definitely be a small, soy chai tea), and read your favorite book/magazine/newspaper or write something brilliant or draw a masterpiece.

Maybe you all already do this and I'm just a tad delay now have I wakened to this whole new "wintertime culture" of warm drinks, cosy blankets and hot food. But now I actually can't wait to get started on these things. Socks, hot cup of chai and blankets here I come!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Wedding and whatnots: a walk through cultural traditional attire

This weekend I attended one of my very first weddings which made my Saturday quite an event. I've never really been to a wedding before, whether it be Hindu or Catholic or any other, so you could imagine just how excited I was. Growing up in a predominantly western society, I've always grown up watching English movies, and stories that revolved around the huge white wedding dress, bridesmaids and the "I do's".  Never being the one to watch Tamil or Hindi movies all that much also contributed to the factor that I didn't have much of an idea about traditional Hindu weddings. I had an idea, just not much of one. I knew all about the beautiful sarees, the flowers, the food throwing(part of the rituals), the weird hat wearing, the music and the dancing. But I was completely clueless about certain other things.

For example, what on earth is one supposed to wear? Isn't it just so damn annoying that there is such a fine line between aspects of social norms? I find it so hard to differentiate formal, semi formal and semi casual attire and what event to associate with which. And of course, social convention is always made just that much harder when you have to deal with tonnes of sequined material, pleats, shawls and head jewelry.

As a 15 year old Sri Lanka, I am in possession of a number of half-sarees (full saree's are meant to be worn by those who are slightly older), but they weren't "grand" enough. So amma and I went hunting through our suitcases for an appropriate traditional outfit and under a pile of amma's old sari blouses we found the one and only lehenga choli in my possession.

Trust me, before that day, I had no idea what a lehenga choli was! But I found out soon enough. It was heavy, obtrusive and took a whole hour to wear. But I must admit that sarees, cholies and other traditional garments all seem to have a sort of charm about them. You forget all about your abhorrence towards them as soon as you take a good look in the mirror. Maybe the sari maker wove in some sense and sensibility into your skirt, alongside silver threads and golden beads, or maybe it's the way that I am forced to hold myself in an entirely different manner. One must walk a little taller, a little slower and hold one's head a little higher when wearing a ton of sequined, sparkly material. (Women are restricted and forced to behave in particular ways through so many different methods, including the garments that they wear!). Sorry, I'm getting side tracked. The thing is, I have always felt a heightened maturity and such a strong sense of pride and cultural identity when I step out of the house in a saree, or choli or any other traditional garment. In the most comfortable shoes might I add, because let be honest, no one can see your shoes when your wearing such a long skirt.  In fact, the bride was wearing flip flops under her sari and all I say to that is, well done woman, well done!

I recently asked a few people what the first thing that comes into their minds when they think of Hindu festivals was. And would you believe it, they all said sarees! So let me tell you a little bit about what I know. 

 A half saree, like the one above, is worn by young teenage girls who are around 10-18 years old. Unlike a full sari which usually comes with just a single long piece of material that is to be wrapped all the way around the body, a half sari  comes with a skirt. The wrapping material, (called a dhavani), is shorter that the material used for a full sari because it doesn't need to be wrapped all the way around the waist and pleated. For a haf saree, the material is just tucked into the front of the skirt, taken around the back and brought around the chest and over the shoulders.  Young girls wear half sarees to Indian, Sri Lankan music concerts, dance programs, formal birthday parties and other such cultural events. 

This is a full sari. It consists of one long piece of draping material, an underskirt (not to be seen from the outside), and a blouse. The material is to be pleated at the front, and tucked into the underskirt just below your belly button, then wrapped all the way around your body, across your chest, and over your shoulders. You can either pin the material at your shoulders or leave it hanging down and draped across your arm, like the woman in the image above. Women usually wear sarees to almost all traditional or cultural gathering. For a traditional formal events such as weddings,wear a sari with more sequins and glitter. If it sparkles enough, you are all good. Try going for Twilight vampires in the sun. If you are slightly older, wear a nice silk saree, also known as a Puttu saree. For less formal events, wear something a bit less glittery and slightly more fun. Try going for Twilight vampires, half in the sun.
Puttu Sari

This is a lehenga choli. Now, I had no idea what this was until very recently due to the fact that Sri Lankan Hindus don't usually wear Lehenga Cholies. When we do, we wear them to weddings and receptions. They are almost like a half saree, except the shawl can be worn in any way. It can be draped across the front, left to dangle over a single shoulder, or draped around both shoulders and held in
each arm. Below are the different Choli styles.

Well that's all I know. That's all I'll tell. That's all you'll hear. I hope you found some of that interesting and useful. Even if it wasn't, well at least you learnt something new today :) 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Top Of the Town Organics

Okey dokes. Guess what everyone? I had my very first  Legal Studies SAC this week! A SAC, for those of you who do not know, is like a unit test for the subjects that you take for your CE.  I am still trying to understand the nature of Legal Studies and it's exams and assessments. I feel like I've boarded a massive learning curve to try and figure out the whole system and how best to prepare for it, especially being  a year 10 taking on a year 11 subject. I was being such a stress and I guess it's in my nature, but I'm going to have to change that if I am to survive years 11 and 12.  I guess it's all about preparation. But how best to prepare is my biggest question. I really hope I didn't completely flop the test though...

After a whole week of hard work, staying up late, marathon writing sessions and all, I decided not to do anything at all school related for the whole weekend. That didn't end up working because I realised I was behind on my maths homework, and I hadn't touched my French book in a week. Oh wells. But, what I did end up doing was catching up on all the things I wanted to do, including heading down to an organic food shop that I had always wanted to check out.

Organic food stores are popping up all over the place here in Melbourne. I think it's great that there is such a large network of people who are so interested in providing real, wholesome, local and organic produce here in order to  spread the "real food" revolution. Let me tell you, it's spreading like wildfire and people are catching on fast!

I've never been to an organic food shop only markets and such so I made appa take me to the closest to us, Top Of The Town Organics. The store wasn't very well organised but I think that added to the excitement of this new experience. I find a sort of satisfaction from rummaging around and digging up all sorts of brilliant things. Hemp cream, activated nuts, boxes and boxes of organic tea, coconut butter, frozen cashew ice cream hmmmm..., not to mention the veggies. They were so beautiful and shiny and massive! I don't think I've ever seen garlic with such purple skin before! (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, garlic is supposed to have a sort of purple/white skin, not completely white because that means it's gone through a bleaching process). Going with appa was a bit of a mistake. He's really sceptical about organics and kept questioning the poor lady about whether her shop was "certified" or not. I just felt like hitting him across the head with the nearest zucchini. I refrained, don't worry, but only because I didn't think that such  large, green, shiny zucchini deserve to be used as a weapon.

I bought a small packet of Himalayan salt, raw almonds, a large box of blueberries, kale, spring onion and exactly five large medjool dates. On the spur of the moment, after hearing the price, I only decided to buy five dates but it was only when I arrived home and ate one did I realise that I was an idiot for not buying the whole box! They were so juicy and absolutely succulent. I have a MASSIVE soft spot for dates, to the point where I don't even think it's normal. Same goes for the blueberries. Appa and I ate half the box in the car, and it was such a large box too! They blueberries looks so cute and pretty, all covered in tiny flakes of ice, cosied up next to each other, I just wanted to eat them all up!

I really want to go back there again, (and buy the whole box of dates) and try some of the other cool things I saw, like that cashew ice cream, and the huge zucchini that I saw, and perhaps I will go around during the holidays and visit some of the other food stores near my place. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Opressed Majority

I recently came across a very interesting French short film, The Oppressed Majority created by director Elenore Pourriat. The film features a middle aged man Pierre, father to a young child and husband, and his struggles as a male in a world where females are the ones who hold the dominant power. Pierre lives in a world of jogging, bare chested women, highly ranked female police officers, Muslim men who must shave and wear head scarves, male child care workers, a world where masculism is now an actual thing! In Pierre's world, the roles in society are reversed where it is now the average male experiencing the things that we, as women have experienced ever since the very beginning of well - "mankind".

We see Pierre taking his child off to a child minder, a task usually performed by a female in our society. As Pierre approaches the door of the nursery, he is greeted by a Muslim man wearing a head scarf. Pierre comments on the man's new head gear and the way that he has been made to shave his facial hair. "Be a man!" Pierre exclaims. It was quiet fascinating, hearing the thought of a man needing to take charge of his manhood, in the way that we as women tell each other to make use of our own Independence, in such seriousness.  A man is hardly ever encouraged to take charge of his manhood. Male dominance in today's society is generally asserted. 

However, the next bit was quite interesting, and if you do not look for it, it's quite easy to miss.  As Pierre rides back home, the camera pans in such a way that it accentuates his figure. It pans down his legs as he pedals, and the whole scene is in slow motion, expressing his sexuality. Now, if Pierre was a woman, this whole scene would have felt normal. In fact, I hardly think I would have noticed what the director did. But as Pierre was a male, something about the scene seemed odd and quite offensive.

I think, taking the issue of sexism, and using a film camera to capture the irony is a genius idea, as it expressed the theme of voyeurism quite well. 

For those of you who do not know, voyeurism comes from the French word "voyeur" which means "one who looks". Voyeurism is when someone gains sexual pleasure from watching intimate sexual behaviour. In my English Lit class, we recently learnt about this theory in relation to feminism. In general society, a man is the active subject, or the one doing an action, such as looking, and a female almost always plays a passive role. She is to be looked at. A man does the looking, whereas the women does the "being". The camera lens can be seen as the male eye. When we watch a movie, the filmography is almost always going to view things from the male perspective. The next time you watch a film, try to notice the way that a woman's face is usually framed with her bust, and a males face, quite plainly shoved into our faces, without the romantics that the woman's face has. 

Elenore Pouriat played with this concept by reversing the role of a camera lens. Accentuating Pierre's neck, his legs as he rides, and the little bit of bare chest that can be seen as he takes of the top button of his shirt, in the way that a woman may pull down her shirt, or hike up her skirt. 

So in the film, Pierre is sexually assaulted by a group of vulgar, violent women. He is then taken to a police station where he is questioned by a female officer, and taken to hospital where he meets his wife, who simply just "couldn't make out if work". Now where have we heard that before?

The film ends with he wife callously stating that it was all his fault. What with those corduroy pants!? wonder you got raped bro. Undone top shirt button! Ergh! You were just asking for it weren't you? We then see her  walking into the dark empty street by herself without a care in the world, with poor Pierre left on his own. A male seen in a state of vulnerability, and women seen with self assured confidence and asserted power. The subtle things that we, only as women notice in our daily life stand out so much more in this film. As the roles are reversed, our brain is made to shift from its automatic state of "oh I'm so used to this that I'm just going to ignore it" to - "hang on, something is not right".

Elenore Pouriat is a genius. A true genius. At times I found myself smirking at the irony, the wife's callous disregard for Pierre's well being, the ignorance, the sexual abuse. The film really makes us think, it really makes us realise that this society in in a dire need for change. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Music of People

A person's taste in music is quite a fascinating thing. A person's playlist is a small little link as to what goes on inside them. But another fascinating thing is the fact that I don't like showing just anyone my music.  I hate, detest, despise, showing people my playlists. I think it stems from the fact that I get very emotional about my songs and why I like them or why I don't like specific other songs. I have my own sort of utopian world stored up in gigs on my phone and on my computer. At times, it's difficult for me to come to terms with somebody entering it, seeing it, judging it and commenting on something that is very well my own. Well, I'm sure Alice didn't  want anyone discovering her own little Wonderland! Mary hardly wanted anyone to find her Secret Garden. I know its a bit petty of me but I just can't help it.

I know that we all have our own tastes in virtually everything. Pie, scarves, shoes, painting, photography, music. They are all things that can be categorised by taste into tiny subsets of a whole.  There are several reasons why we listen to a particular piece of music, why raspberry pie tastes better the blueberry pie, why Plimsolls are more comfortable than Doc Martens. Why we listen to a particular song is something that depends on a type of person. A whole variety of factors play into why a particular song stands out to me. I know of others who listen to the song because of the drums, or the guitars, or the synths or the particular producer of a song. Our taste in music is like the wide array of colours on an artist's pallet. And just the same, perhaps it's only a tiny difference in pigmentation that makes the colour stand out from the rest.

But because we listen to music for our emotional wellbeing, it's easy to see why we are all so emotional and so defensive about the songs we listen to. Well, actually maybe it's just me.  When someone asks me "what type of music do you listen to?" I have never, ever, at any stage of being asked that question, told them what specific genre I listen to. I merely say "Pffft, good songs!"  I also have a habit of never ever playing my music at parties, or showing them to anybody else unless they have shown me theirs first. I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Music is a beautiful thing. A song is an artwork. We often overlook the "art" in it by calling it an "arrangement" or a piece of "work". Music of today is rarely expressed as an artwork. But it is. And I should be celebrating the artwork shouldn't I? I should be sharing my music, letting other people know that that the sounds that I listen to exist! I guess, instead of looking at it as ones own secret, I should look at it like an attribute to myself. From now on, I'm going to try and wear it like a badge, a proud identity.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Children and the Oh-so-powerful force of Nature

A fresh drop of cold water lands on the soft, supple, unmarked palms of her hands, and trickles down, tracing a fresh wet path down and around her wrists.
She giggles.

She then wraps her cold, plump fingers around mine and guides the edges of my chipped, dirty nails along the window pane. I smile at her childish wonder. The furrowing of her dark, softly shaped eyebrows as she experiences this wholly new wonder, gives a slight lift to my own grin. How can we, as grown children, grow bored of something that this child finds so mesmerising? She is lost within this world of discovery, feeling the gentle tickle of a raindrop as it falls through her fingers, smelling the sickly sweet air as it rains.

She pauses for a few minutes, simply observing the light drizzle and the way it blurs the surroundings. I think to myself, "ahh, she is finally bored". But no.  Unlike us, she does not wait for something to happen. She makes it happen.

She jumps. She jumps from the top step of our porch into the puddle below, squealing with extraordinary delight as the water sprays in every direction. Startled, I catch myself trying to run after my sister so that I could bring her back under the shelter of our porch roof. But I don't. And I'm glad I didn't. Instead I watch her from a distance. Though I am shivering in my pj's, feeling tired and muggy, dying to get back to my homework, I am still mesmerised by the childish joy that was taking place before  me.

Now why didn't I go out into the rain and bring my sister back? Why didn't I take her in and dry her off so that she wouldn't get sick? Why did resist the primal urge to bring her back?

Because the play, the exploration, the joy,  are all part of a child's curious nature. Young children are at the very early stages of their life and there is just so much for them to learn. They feel things so they can lean. They smell things so that they can learn. They see colours and taste flavours that will in turn, allow them to gain more of an understand about the world around us. To learn. And where best to lean? Nature. 

In such a technologically advanced society, we often forget the benefits that a connection with nature has with children. While many children are plomped in front of a television, or made to play on the Ipad, or with store bought toys, there are other children who are placed in a far more stimulating environment. The natural environment increases physical activity, cognition, engagement and creative play. Experiences such as these; the rain, the soil, the snow, the sun, the exploration of the world around us, moulds a child's brain. It creates links and bridges, and patterns within their minds and in turn, motor skills, social skills, emotional awareness and so many other skills that are vital to a child's development. 

So there. My sister was wearing a raincoat and warm clothes. She was safe within the walls of our fence and so I had no worry. Her childish enjoyment was so amusing, I just couldn't stop her.  My mum, as a social worker, had always enforced these concepts to me. Even now, it stills pains me to see a kid being yelled at for rolling in the dirt, or for having messy hair, or for staying out in the rain. It's all part of their daily experiences that help them learn more and more about the world around them. And most importantly, they are learning for themselves rather than having information shoved down their tiny throats. So please, next time your kid, your sister your brother, ends up coming back into the house with dirt on their shirts and hands covered in grass stains, just say "Well done! That's the muddiest I've ever seen you!" before you tell them not to get the tiles dirty.  

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Self efficacy

I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm so a million times sorry!!!! Ergh I know, there are absolutely no excuses when it comes to keeping up with your blog. That's why I'm not even going to try to tell you the billion excuses that are popping up in my head. I have failed my goals, and let myself down, and as a result I've let my readers down.

So these are the situations that you are faced with in life. There are going to be moments where you may feel like you have not followed through or succeeded in any way. I feel that way. And this feeling is often a billion times worse because you often feel as if you could have done something about it. There were actions that you could have taken in order to succeed. Maybe you could've gotten up off your backside and actually started revising for that test. Maybe you could have just slipped on your running shoes and gone for that jog anyway, even if it was 40 degrees outside. Maybe I could have just opened up a new tab and started writing a new post.

But really, there is no point in dwindling on the failures of the past, or what you think are failures, because those negative thoughts are going to get you nowhere my friends. Instead, dwindle on the success of the past. Look back at the times when you were at your peak. What were you doing then? What can you do to get back into form?There is no one better than yourself when it comes to  setting a positive example for your future success.

Self efficacy. In fact it's a word that I learnt just this week. It is one's believe in one's own ability to succeed. People who find other options to exercise when it's too rainy for a jog have high self efficacy. People who don't eat ice cream at parties and stick to their health and have a high self efficacy.

But what do you do when you feel like your self efficacy at rock bottom? Well you think back to the moments when you did succeed and when you did do well or when you felt the most accomplished and say to yourself  "we'll I did it then, so I can do it now". And you need to feel proud of yourself for at least achieving that much.

So there. I know I haven't posted in a week. But I also know that there was a time where I was posting 2 times a week even through school, exams, netball, swimming, piano, and singing. And I'm proud of myself. And I know that I will be able to do that again.