Love Exposure (Restaurant Review)

Blog, 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?

Blog, Thoughts

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

Blog, Thoughts

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

My Arthritis: An Update

Arthritis Updates, Blog

You may have noticed that I did not refer to this post as “Reactive Arthritis” like my previous post, rather “My Arthritis”. That’s because I have apparently surpassed the healing period for Reactive Arthritis and my arthritis has now transformed. Although the rheumatologist has informed me that I don’t fit perfectly into one specific type of arthritis, she said that I am most closely aligned to seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. If you are interested in finding out more about rheumatoid arthritis, take a look at this Arthritis NZ brochure.

When I went to see the rheumatologist, she was able to do an ultrasound on my joints and we not only confirmed that the inflammation is in my knees and ankles but we also saw that it was in elbows, which I was completely unaware of. The inflammation was also in my ankle tendons, rather than the joint, which was interesting to find out as well.

As a result of my consult with the rheumatologist I’m now on a new treatment plan (unfortunately much larger than I would have liked) called Triple Therapy. This seems to be the standard attack on rheumatoid arthritis and it’s hopeful that it will start helping me. The unfortunate side is that it takes three months to kick in, so I’m also still taking steroids as well. The steroids have certainly added a dramatic amount of fluid weight gain to my body, especially around my face. It’s hard to deal with, but I’m pushing through it knowing that once I’m off the steroids it will eventually go away.

So what does this mean for me now? I have to keep taking the medication – currently, an average of 18 tablets a day (including a couple that my mum is giving me, like turmeric tablets) and in three months time I will see my rheumatologist again for an update. Unfortunately, the Triple Therapy drugs have some nasty side effects, so I have to keep a close eye on them as well and there is also a chance that the disease may spread to my back. I purchased a small notebook to help me keep track of anything unusual because three months is a long time to remember small details!

Due to some of the drugs’ side effects, I also have to get a blood test every month to make sure that everything is okay. It’s a lot to take on, but I’m trying to focus my energy on more positive things like going to social events and reading fun books. It can be hard some days, especially when I’m in pain, but it’s important for me to keep my head high and continue to live life as normally as I can.

If you have any questions about what I’m going through or would like to share your own story – flick me an email, I’d love to hear from you!

It’s time to step back

Arthritis Updates, Blog, Thoughts

I have been part of a small team that organises events once every couple of months for young people (talking about topics such as money, gender equality, mental health etc.) for a few years now. I was in charge of taking photos of the events and generally having a creative touch when needed – like occasionally helping out with table ‘conversation starters’. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending my time being a part of the core team that run these events, but its time to step down from the role.

It’s not something I randomly decided – I thought about it for quite a while, but with the news that my health is not going so well, it made me decide that it was time to let go of that responsibility in my life so I can focus on my health.

I’ve always been a person who struggles to say ‘no’ to things. I often take on too much responsibility and it’s not until something goes wrong (like I double book myself) that I step back to see how much I have on my shoulders. Taking a journey of self-awareness means that I am stepping back before things become a problem. I acknowledge that saying ‘yes’ is something that I often do before really thinking about what it means for my life and I am trying to change that behaviour. So, I am taking the first step by stepping down from my role with this group, as a way to care for myself – by freeing up some of my spare time and concentrating on things like learning more about healthy foods that I can eat and reading more books in nature.

Do you take on too much? Think about it next time you say ‘yes’ to something!

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake Recipe

Blog, Recipes

I recently had an event where I needed to take a plate for a shared meal and I decided to make a cake! I found this recipe online and altered it to my desire (but in reality just used what I had in the fridge already).

You’ll see that the icing doesn’t have any quantities written alongside the ingredients – this is because it depends on how much icing you want and how thick you like it to be. My suggestion is to start small and slowly build it up, so you have lots of room to play with. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake

Ingredients:

Cake

1 cup Chelsea low GI cane sugar
125g butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups Edmonds gluten-free flour
1 3/4 teaspoons Edmonds baking powder
1/2 cup Lewis Road Milk (I used pure organic ‘Light’)

Icing

Butter
Cream cheese
Icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Grease/flour a 23cm x 23cm cake pan (or line a muffin pan with paper liners if you want to use the batter for muffins).
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla essence.
  5. Combine the flour and baking powder and then add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  6. Finally, stir in the milk until mixture is smooth. Pour or spoon into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.
  8. While you let it cool, make the icing. Quantities are as desired.
  9. Melt a small portion of butter and mix in the cream cheese until you have a smooth consistency. You can add more butter later if you need to thicken the icing.
  10. Add in icing sugar as necessary to make the desired thickness and amount of icing.
  11. Once cooled, ice the cake and decorate as desired before serving.

I topped mine with fresh blueberries and passionfruit – delicious!!

Hello Friends & Allies (Café Review)

Blog, Cafe Review

Overall: Hello Friends & Allies is my absolute favourite local café.

Where are they?

They are located at 93 Great South Rd, Epsom, which is known as ‘the Market Road Shops’. It’s a prime location, being situated at an intersection with four directions filled with hungry customers. It’s parking, however, is not so prime. I often feel like swinging by to grab a coffee or a cabinet treat, but sadly end up driving away as the parking is too hard. Sunday before 10am is the best time for a park, as the bus lane is open and most people haven’t got out of bed yet! There is also a side street close by and you may just have to earn your food by walking a little bit to get there.

There are plenty of different seating options, either out the front or out the back – both providing different but lovely atmospheres.

So what’s their service like?

I have not once turned up here and been disappointed. The service is wonderful and the staff seem happy to be working there. They could potentially take orders a wee bit faster sometimes, though. They are also responsive to images/comments on Instagram which is an added bonus, making customers feel like they’re wanted and welcome in store.

Beautiful food, friendly service and colourful but not over the top decor – what else could you ask for!?

And their food?

The food always looks amazing – even when I order food ‘off the menu’ (i.e. just make up an order). They take pride in the food they offer their customers and ensure that it not only tastes amazing but looks like it tastes amazing!! They also have a wide range of delicious cabinet food, with gluten-free options for those that need them. As you can see from the pictures below, I thoroughly enjoy their berry smoothie!

 

Cost?

I believe they would be considered an average café cost – around $20-$30 for a cooked meal and a drink. Not super cheap but not crazy expensive either. Totally worth what you get!

Opening times:

Mon – 7am to 4pm
Tues – 7am to 4pm
Wed – 7am to 4pm
Thurs – 7am to 4pm
Fri – 7am to 4pm
Sat – 7:30am to 4pm
Sun – 7:30am to 4pm

 

Reactive Arthritis: Dealing with Disappointment

Arthritis Updates, Blog

I have to say, the feeling of disappointment is not something that I come across often. I often feel frustrated and annoyed in situations that don’t turn out how I would like them to, but disappoint is another story altogether.

Why am I disappointed? Because as you may have read earlier here and here, I was supposed to have a rheumatologist appointment yesterday. I was called a couple of hours before the appointment to say that the rheumatologist had called in sick and we had to reschedule. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but my heart honestly dropped. I was so disappointed. I had been waiting over a month for this appointment, which included taking extra medication to cover me until then. I had also been waiting to hear what I am supposed to do in terms of physio, the expected timeline of this arthritis, how they think I’m progressing and to get a new treatment plan. The direction and course of my life is currently depending on this rhumatolgist, so to hear that my much-anticipated appointment was cancelled, was shattering.

Having the appointment cancelled meant that I also had to call up my doctors and get another prescription, as I had run out of medication on Monday morning. This turned out to be quite a hassle and of course cost me extra money!

Luckily, the next available appointment was Friday (could have been worse). It is, unfortunately, the most difficult day for me to take time off in regards to work, but after chatting with my manager, she said it was fine for me to take the time off. Later that day, however, (same day as the cancellation and rescheduling) I get a notification that the Friday appointment is now also cancelled and they’ll have to get back to me with another time. I feel for the rheumatologist lady (as she must be pretty sick to take the whole week off), but again, my heart drops. How long am I going to have to wait? What happens with the medication that I’m on? Do I keep taking it? Am I walking properly with my crutches? Should I be doing more exercises to help with the healing? The questions could go on forever.

They got in contact with me today and the new appointment is March 1st – too far away for me to stay on the medication that I’m currently on. That means that I not only have to wait another two and a half weeks to see the rheumatologist (to hear her pivotal decisions about my life), but I also have to visit my doctor again (more money!!) to get more medication and potentially change medication until my new appointment.

With every notification or phone call, I have felt disappointment. It has been hard for me to deal with, as my emotions have overwhelmed me. Having had time to process what has happened and now that I have booked in to see my doctor, I am trying to overcome the disappointment and keep myself focused on the future. Luckily, my best friend and I just booked three days away together over Easter and that gives me someone positive to look forward to! I am struggling at the moment, but becoming self-aware involves figuring out my emotions and right now, I know that planning ahead for something positive is the best thing for me to do. So, with that in mind, I need to plan three days worth of meals so we can do one supermarket shop and then relax for the whole Easter weekend. Got any ideas? Flick a message my way.

For those that are interested, the blog image is a picture of my newly purchased book, Self-Care for the Real World, I’d totally recommend checking it out!

Tackling My Eating Habits

Blog, Thoughts

What does being healthy mean to me? That’s a question that I’ve often asked myself over the years.

As part of my self-care and awareness journey, I am wanting to become healthier.

What does that mean exactly? Well, although I may not be 100% certain what that means, I am certain that I want to be healthier in my mind, my body and my soul.

The aspect of my life that I am currently trying to tackle is my eating habits.

Previous attempts (and there have been many) of me trying to change my eating habits have always failed. Why? Because I wasn’t doing it for myself. I was always doing it for other people and my emotions controlled how much value I placed in their opinions.

Over the past couple of years, as I have tried to manage my emotions and become aware of what makes me tick, I have learnt that my emotions play a large roll in the way that I eat. My PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) also plays a part. So does my social life. There are many aspects of my life that combine together to form the eating habits that I have.

I am now at a point where I understand myself enough to try and make a slow, steady and realistic lifestyle change.

I acknowledge that things need to change, but I know from previous attempts that there is no magic trick that will change the way that I am overnight. I also acknowledge that I enjoy cooking, I enjoy going out with friends for food and I also have a sweet tooth. I don’t want to deny myself things that I enjoy – but I can, however, cut back. I am wanting to make an actual lifestyle change, so it’s something I can maintain and that I actually enjoy.

I will be posting pictures of some of the meals that I make, create and/or eat on my Instagram if you would like to keep up to date with how I’m going.

Are there any small tips that have helped you change your eating lifestyle? If so, let me know!

Geeks On Sainsbury (Café Review)

Blog, Cafe Review

Overall: I’ve been to Geeks On Sainsbury twice now and I’m definitely keen to go back again!

Where are they?

Their location, 1/55 Sainsbury Road, gives them enough privacy that they aren’t packed with people, but enough exposure that you don’t feel like you are hidden away. Both times I ate here, I happened to be in the area. They are right beside this little park which has a few seats in it, so you could easily get takeaways on a nice sunny day and have a picnic!

They are also just down the road from St Luke’s Mall, so if you want some nice food that isn’t from a food court, then this should be your go-to place!

My sister used to live across the road and it would have been such a joy to have Geeks On Sainsbury as a local.

So what’s their service like?

They come up to you relatively straight away when you arrive and ask where you’d like to sit. The second time I went I was on crutches and that didn’t seem to bother them, which was nice. They were fast on taking our orders, although didn’t mind coming back to let us spend a few more minutes deciding what to get. All of the staff I have interacted with have been super friendly and the ones who see you leave say ‘Thank you’ and/or ‘Goodbye’, which is always a nice touch.

It’s a cute location with delicious food and friendly staff. I would recommend it to anyone in the area!

And their food?

Delightful! Below are a few shots – Eggs Bene, Pork Salad, Bibimbap and a drink. I would recommend their ‘Yellow’ smoothie and anything with a side of their potato stack… because it is absolutely divine. There a quite a few gluten-free options, which is great and overall they have a relatively wide selection of food to choose from. They also have a cabinet with sweet treats and a few sandwiches, if that’s more your style.

Cost?

I believe they would be considered an average café cost – around $20-$30 for a cooked meal and a drink. Not super cheap but not crazy expensive either. Totally worth what you get!

Opening times:

Mon – 7am to 3pm
Tues – 7am to 3pm
Wed – 7am to 3pm
Thurs – 7am to 3pm
Fri – 7am to 3pm
Sat – 8am to 3pm
Sun – 8am to 3pm