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

When Breath Becomes Air (Book Review)

Blog, 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

Adventures, Blog

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!

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!

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