Gluten-free Shortbread

I am hosting two Pink Ribbon events within the next month (one at work and one with friends), so thought I would give some Pink Ribbon Shortbread a try. It was the first time I’ve ever used royal icing, and I think they turned out pretty well!

The shortbread recipe is from here and the icing recipe is from here, thanks to good ol’ Chelsea.

Gluten-Free Shortbread

Ingredients:

250g butter, softened
3/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup cornflour
1 1/2 cups standard flour

Please double check that all of your ingredients are gluten-free.

Icing (Makes 1 1/2 cups)

2 egg whites
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon strained lemon juice (no pips or fibre)
2 ½ cups icing sugar

Please double check that all of your ingredients are gluten-free.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C bake (140°C fan forced).  Grease oven tray or line with baking paper.
  2. Beat butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Mix in cornflour and flour until the mixture comes together and forms a dough.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1 cm thick and cut into shapes using biscuit cutters.  Alternatively, roll dough into a log and slice into rounds, using a floured knife to prevent sticking.
  5. Place on prepared tray and bake 25 – 30 minutes, until shortbread is pale but crisp.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Place all icing ingredients into a large bowl and beat with an electric beater until fluffy, thick and shiny.
  8. Spoon icing into a piping bag (or you can use a small ziplock plastic bag with a small hole cut out of the corner).
  9. Pipe onto biscuits for decoration.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

I added some Misty Day Potions Pitaya powder to my icing in order to make the pink tone for the Breast Cancer awareness ribbon.

Note: Contains raw egg whites – not suitable for pregnant women to eat and those on restricted diets.

 

Love Exposure (Restaurant Review)

On our way to Mt Eden after watching Tully (great film BTW, I definitely recommend watching this one), my father and I kind of stumbled across Love Exposure. We went from planning on eating somewhere in Mt Eden, to seeing Nandos and deciding that would do instead, to noticing Love Exposure from the opposite side of the road and wanting to know more… What type of place was this? What was it called? What sort of food did they offer? The neon lights and the Brothers Beer sign drew us in.

Overall: It’s not going to suit everyone, but if you like Asian Fusion food or want to try something a little different, I would definitely try it out.

Where are they?

They are located at 191 Dominion Road in Mount Eden. They are on the corner of Dominion Road and Onslow Road and they’re pretty hard to miss as the entire place is lite with neon lights!

What sort of vibes were going on?

From the get-go, the vibes are great. They had music playing in the background and there were plenty of people packing the seats up, so there was an awesome buzz going on. The neon colours and what would usually seem like tacky decorations create a fun and bubbly environment. As I say, the decor is something that would usually be considered tacky… yet, somehow, they make it work!

There are three different ‘areas’ that you can be seated – two inside areas and one outside area. It looked like they had room to cater for some bigger groups, as well. I enjoyed sitting on a mermaid patterned seat!

So what’s their service like?

They seated us as soon as we walked in, giving us the option of sitting inside or out. They then presented us with the menu (unfortunately a little hard to read under the neon lights, but not impossible) and came back a few minutes later to take our order. The food was served to us really fast – although it should be noted that things didn’t turn up all at once, which was fine as we were sharing food. They also came back to check up on us later, which is always a nice little touch and works out well in regards to ordering more drinks (or food if you didn’t pick enough to begin with).

Fast service, funky decor and flavoursome food! 

And their food?

Extremely tasty. We ordered the Vietnamese spring rolls, the free-range chicken satay skewers and the grilled pork shoulder with lettuce cups. All of the meat was beautifully flavoured. My only wish was that we had more lettuce (or rice) to help compensate for the flavoursome meats. Perhaps we can adjust our order accordingly next time! I also got a Lemmy lemonade and my father got some good ol Brothers Beer.

I enjoyed that each dish has an aspect where you were involved. We had to wrap our spring rolls in lettuce and dip them in a sauce, we had to dip our satay skewers in the satay sauce and then sprinkle peanuts on top and we had to wrap our pork shoulder in a lettuce leaf and top it with this delicious sauce.

A lot of the food is also gluten-free (bonus for me!) and there were a few vegetarian dishes on offer too. The food ranges from $10-$16 and I think it’s recommended to share the dishes. As mentioned above, my father and I purchased three between us. The only potential downside to the food is that all of your pictures turn out pink!! (See below)

 

What’s your Daily Mantra?

Thanks to a KikkiK purchase a few years ago (similar to this), I’ve constantly got a ‘mantra’ that I say to myself. A mantra is a statement or slogan repeated frequently that helps create a positive mindset. These mantras not only help create a positive mindset, but I feel like they help create a healthy mindset, too. It’s important to feel confidence in oneself and these little sayings encourage me to practice mental self-care. I replace these KikkK ‘inspiration cards’ weekly, to help me have a focus and feel like I have a purpose. For the week, I see the mantra every morning and say it to myself – well, that’s how it started anyway…

More often than not, I now make up my own mantra and have it much longer than a week. At the moment, my mantra is ‘I can do this’. Why? Well, if you have read some of my previous blogs, you’ll know that I am currently living with arthritis. It started with salmonella; something that is unpleasant, but not something I knew could cause me to get reactive arthritis. It was supposed to be a rather temporary disease but unfortunately, that’s not the case for me and I now have whats being categorised as ‘seronegative rheumatoid arthritis’. So, every day, I am saying to myself “I can do this” because every day has its struggles and I’m fighting my way through it. Some days are harder than others, but each day has its own battle and whats hard is that it looks like I’m okay to everyone else i.e. when I was lying in a hospital bed, it was obvious that I wasn’t well, but when I’m walking around (albeit still on crutches) most people think I’m doing okay. So, to set my day up with a positive mindset, I start with saying my mantra to myself.

Do you have a statement or slogan that you often say to yourself to help you keep a positive, healthy mindset?

A Quiet Reflection

During the first month of being ill, the pain was unbearable and the hospital visits became extremely tedious, so I’m rather grateful for the position I’m currently in. I can walk more freely with my crutches, spend at least 9 hours of the day out of bed and can put my clothes on without having to sit down (well, most of the time). It really is the small things that count!

My arthritis is still very much alive, however, and I’m having to battle the physical and emotional consequences of that daily. I’m taking an average of 18 pills per day and I’m seriously over it. The medication I’m on causes horrible side effects, where it becomes harder to function and I’m currently living every day as it comes, not knowing what part of my body will hurt next or whether or not I’ll wake up with a headache and feeling nauseous.

Becoming ill has certainly changed my life. With the surplus hours I’ve spent lying in bed, I’ve had time to reflect on my life, thinking about who and what is important to me. I’m having to live life at a slower pace as well and take things as they come. This illness has certainly tested my patience and the patience of those around me.

I recently asked to change roles at my work. It’s a decision I didn’t make lightly, but one that I think is best for my health and best for those who work with me (especially the ones who have been helping out with tasks I’m unable to perform at the moment). I am so grateful for my workplace. The organisation I work for, along with those I work with, are amazing. Everyone has been immeasurably compassionate and flexible with me, making sure I put my health first where needed, being understanding of my shortened hours and finally, my request for a role change has been accepted.

I am also so grateful for my friends. ‘Hard times will always reveal true friends’ is a saying that rings quite true at the moment. It’s funny how something like this would shed so much light on the relationships that I have, making some stronger and some not so much. I’m so grateful for having friends who check up on me, pick me up because I still can’t drive yet, make plans with me even though I’m limited in what I can do and generally show that they care about my wellbeing.

And finally, I am so grateful for my family. I wouldn’t know what to do without them! They have been so supportive, especially my mum who drives me everywhere, rubs my sore joints and cooks me delicious food. It’s hard to live with someone who is unable to function completely without help and I appreciate all the extra effort my family make to help make my life a bit easier.

My hope is that as these negative side effects are emerging, that underneath, slowly the life-changing positive side effects are working their magic too. I’ll be seeing my rheumatologist in about a month, and she’ll be able to tell me whether or not things are truly improving!

I’ll finish with this:

You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way. – Elizabeth Taylor

When Breath Becomes Air (Book Review)

My current health situation definitely enabled me to connect with When Breath Becomes Air on quite a personal level. The hospital visits, the drugs and the unknown outcomes; I’m all too familiar with the process of being sick thanks to my arthritis. I, however, am not dying and can not begin to imagine the pain and heartache that Paul and his loved ones went through. I believe everyone who reads this book, no matter what their health is like, can connect with what Paul writes.

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

Book Depository Description

Paul seems like he was a wonderful man. His storytelling is genuine and he faces his unfortunate situation front on. He makes the reader understand the struggle that he went through as he transitioned from someone who helped others, to someone who needed help. He was no longer the doctor, but rather the patient – the person on the other side of the table.

Paul speaks his mind around the issue of death and what it means to be dying but also what it means to live. His words definitely made me teary, as they encourage you to think about your own mortality and what that means to you. As he was writing his book, he reflects on how he has lived his life and how he wanted to live it until it ended, which in turn makes you reflect upon your own life.

I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.” – Paul Kalanithi

I think this will be a book I re-read in a few years and I will not only enjoy it again, but I’ll most likely take a different perspective to it. As I said, I think everyone can connect with this moving book.

I would definitely recommend it, even though I may have had pause to make a few Google searches throughout the book due to the medical lingo!

★★★★★
5/5

Feature Image from here.

Easter Vacation 2018

Having missed the Summer holidays (read why here), I felt like I needed to get away for the Easter break and luckily my friend, Kate, agreed!

We booked into an Airbnb that is located just outside of Hamilton and planned to have a relaxing weekend. What we didn’t plan for was the four and a half hour drive it took to get to the Airbnb, which would usually take only an hour and a half without Easter traffic. Nevertheless, we didn’t let the traffic get to us and luckily Kate bought some delicious snacks for the drive there!

We arrived at our Airbnb and I was delighted to see that the pictures provided didn’t do the garden justice – it was an absolutely beautiful vegetable garden with a great long-distance view, which looked breathtaking at sunset (and perhaps sunrise too, but ya’ll crazy if you think I’d get up that early).

On Saturday we decided to visit the Hamilton Gardens. I had seen lots of pictures of the Gardens online before, but don’t recall ever going there as an adult. Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to walk around too much, as I’m still on crutches, I was worried that the Gardens might be too big. Fortunately for me, a slow pace made the gardens bearable – although I made sure to take plenty of breaks along the way and was pretty shattered by the end.

 

After the gardens, we picked up a few extra groceries and headed back to our Airbnb. It’s so lovely to have the time to just chill out and relax, play on your phone etc. and not have to worry about work or chores!

On Saturday we (and by we, I mean Kate) drove us out to Raglan! We were blessed with a super sunny day and after making a pit stop at a local market, we decided to get some fish and chips for lunch. It was so awesome watching everyone interact so peacefully with each other – swimmers, waterskiers, people on kayaks, people on boats! After our tasty lunch, we headed towards Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls. I had researched the day before about things we could do, taking into consideration that I can’t walk very far and stumbled upon this awesome ‘accessible track’, meaning that the walk is assisted wheelchair and pushchair accessible and relatively flat enough for those like myself on crutches! Although it was a long walk for me, it only took around 10 or so minutes to get to the top of the waterfall.

The two viewing platforms at the top of the falls provide spectacular views of the falls and surrounding countryside. From here, the track descends steeply down stairs to a midway viewpoint.The track continues down more stairs to the bottom view bridge and information shelter where there is a magnificent view directly across the pool and up at the falls. – DOC

If you’d like to check out this walk, or others near Raglan, click here to view the Pirongia and Raglan tracks brochure.

 


We then spent the afternoon resting (after I may or may not have napped on the way home). It was great exploring the Airbnb garden, as we got to see some chickens (who enjoyed following us around), got to pick some passionfruit from their vine and some lemons from their tree and had a chance to take some photos of the caterpillars and butterflies that were around! I loved the variety they had in their garden, as well; pumpkin, butternut, capsicum, rosemary, basil, tomatoes, passionfruit, lemons, limes, grapefruit… the list goes on!

 

The drive home on Monday was delightfully fast-paced, clocking up to only an hour and a half – the usual time it takes to get to from my house to Hamilton!

It was super nice to spend the weekend away with my friend at such an awesome Airbnb. What did you do for Easter? Have any plans coming up for another holiday? Let me know!

Brunch Club: The Lula Inn

Yesterday I went along to my first NZ Bloggers Brunch Club event and it was fantastic! The location for this month’s Brunch Club catch up was The Lula Inn and we participated in their “Bottomless Brunch”.

We planned to meet at 11am for our two-hour booking, but in order to catch a ride into town (because I currently can’t drive due to my arthritis), I arrived around 9:30am. I figured I could find a cafe somewhere and get a coffee while I waited, but as I walked past The Lula Inn, I thought I would try and see if I could be seated early. To my delight, I was taken over to our table and ordered myself a coffee. Now, they did accidentally forget about my coffee but I’ll forgive them as they offered me a Prosecco ‘while I waited’ – how kind – and I got my coffee in the end (and it was a really good coffee).

It turned out I wasn’t the only one who was early – the delightful Danielle turned up and kept me company before everyone else arrived! Our table was set up with the menu and our glasses ready to be filled over and over again. It was so awesome to have a chance to meet other bloggers, especially since I’m quite new to blogging! Everyone was so friendly and easy to get along with. We began talking, ordered our food and continued to drink the morning away – I had lots of OJ, but their Citrus Boost Soda was rather tasty too. I ordered the Cured Salmon Potato Hash (with poached eggs, horseradish, beet kraut and watercress) for brunch and boy, was it delicious! The eggs were perfectly cooked on a wide/flat potato hash (first time I’d seen it like this before) and the mixture of flavours was superb.

What were my impressions of The Lula Inn?

I had walked past The Lula Inn previously but never ventured inside before. The first thing I thought to myself was “wow”. I absolutely adored their interior designs, their fabrics and patterns and of course, their foliage. The general vibe is modern, fresh and relaxed. The service I received was top notch (despite the coffee delay) and whenever I asked someone for attention, they kindly served me straight away. They had a DJ playing some tunes while we were there and although it was occasionally hard to hear what people were saying, it was nice to have good music playing in the background.

When I first heard about the “Bottomless Brunch”, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it, seeing as I don’t drink a lot of alcohol but I can safely say that I would definitely recommend going to The Lula Inn and experiencing their “Bottomless Brunch” for yourself. I would actually be quite keen to go back again!

If you’re a blogger, come along to the next event and say hi! The Brunch Club is such a cool way to network and connect with others who have similar passions as you. Thanks to the ladies who organised the event!!