Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015: A Reflection

I can't believe as I'm sitting here writing this, 2015 has come to an end. It's been honestly such a rollercoaster of a year. I graduated from school at the end of last year receiving a graduate diploma and decided it would be a year for me to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I feel like I've become so much older but also learnt how scary the real world is out there. I decided to recap and journal some moments from 2015. Firstly, let me look through all my social media to try and remember what I've done!

I started this year by heading off to Europe. First stop was Zürich, Switzerland a city I immediately fell in love with. The culture, the atmosphere everything about it was beautiful. I enjoyed watching the sunrise over the swiss alps and hearing the clocks chime on the hour. The people of this city were so friendly and always ready to point out directions to us tourists. Plus who doesn't want the smell of chocolate following you around?

After Zürich I headed to Oslo, Norway. Although it wasn't love at first sight, Oslo grew on me. I quickly discovered all the fortresses, castles and viking ships which excited me because I am utterly obsessed with anything medieval. I also got a chance to see The Scream painting by Edvard Munch in the National Gallery. While I was there, it began snowing and I built my first snowman, well snow cat! After Oslo, I headed to Warsaw, Poland. I was a little bit overwhelmed of being there. The language terrified me and I felt like such a foreigner. I learnt a bit about the history of Warsaw and thought it was pretty remarkable how they managed replicate the city after the war from a few photographs.

From Warsaw I returned to Toronto, Canada. I was so happy to see all my friends whom I'd met during my time on student exchange. Unfortunately, while I was in Canada my lung decided to collapse on me leaving me in hospital for a week and for my birthday too. The entire time I kept thinking to myself, thank goodness this happened in Canada where they speak English. The incident resulted in the rest of my travels being cancelled. I was so upset about this because I was suppose to meet up with my family in England for the first time in fourteen years. I decided to study in Toronto for six months and found myself in a student resident living away from home for the first time. It was such an experience and even though I got pretty homesick, I was so glad I did it.

On my return flight from Toronto to Melbourne I had a layover in Hong Kong, where my mothers side of the family are from. It was so lovely to see all my family after feeling so alone for six months. I stayed with them for two weeks and couldn't be happier. My older cousin is a photographer and took me to some of the best photo spots in Hong Kong giving me little tips here and there on how to improve my photography. Unfortunately, I discovered mosquitos love me got over thirty bites during my stay.

After that, I returned home for a couple of nights before I had to head off to Adelaide. I remember being really grumpy because all I wanted to do was sleep in my own bed and cuddle my cat but I had to do a dance audition which I actually got! I was so thrilled I couldn't sleep all night. I danced for a few months but realised the stress fractures in my tibias had retuned ultimately stopping my dancing career. I was pretty devastated and still am but trying to stay positive! While waiting for my tibia's to fully recover, I knew I had one last thing to do this year... to see my family.

I haven't actually seen or spoken to my UK family since I was four years old (family issues) but I knew the time was finally right! I literally went to the travel agent and said, 'I'm planning of going to England next week' to which he replied, 'well we had better get a move on then!'. I stayed a few nights in London and did all the tourist things (like seeing the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour) before heading to Edinburgh, Oxford, Hampshire, Cornwall and Bath. It has honestly been the best trip of my life and I won't be lying in saying I did shed a few happy tears.

Next year, I'm going to go back to school! I have no idea what I'm going to study yet but I've learnt that when one door closes another one opens. I actually really enjoyed school so I'm quite excited to put my thinking cap back on. I'm also pretty excited about meeting new people! For now, I'm absolutely broke but at least I got to live and see the world! Hopefully 2016 won't be so dramatic but I guess a little drama here and there doesn't hurt anyone, right?
Here are my top nine Instagram photos from 2015! If you're curious to know yours, you can click here.

Time to bring on 2016 - Happy New Year!


Sunday, 27 December 2015

New Years Resolution Ideas

Next year will be a whole new chapter in my life which naturally this made me wonder what I wanted to achieve. I've been thinking a lot about long term goals but realistically, to get there we have lots of short term goals to keep ourselves feeling fulfilled and motivated. It also gives us a good chances to give ourselves a pat on the back when we have the chance to reflect on how many leaps we've made when we could have stopped.

I thought that since it's almost 2016, it would be a good chance to brainstorm some new years resolutions together. There's always the really cliché ones like, 'I'm going to lose weight' or 'I'm going to go to the gym' which are generally dumped by January (lets be honest) so I wanted to look deeper and think of them as stepping stones to our goals rather than things to just check off the list. 

Here are just a few resolutions I've though of. They're not my personal resolutions (I'll do another post later) but they're just a few I've thought out that might give you some ideas of what you want your resolutions to be. I've separated them into three categories which are based of the basic human needs pyramid to make sure I've hopefully covered as much as possible.

  • Improve your concentration and mentality
  • Turn off all computers and mobile phones at least half an hour before bed
  • Learn to cook/eat out less often
  • Drink more water and stay hydrated
  • Step outside your comfort zone and say yes to something new
  • Set yourself a reading goal and try to fulfill it
  • Learn to speak a new language
  • Do what makes you happy don't strive to please others
  • Allocate yourself time to sit down and eat breakfast
  • Eat at least one serving of fruit a day
  • Floss your teeth and use mouthwash
  • Allocate yourself a pamper day where you help yourself feel the best
  • Think of one compliment to give yourself each day
  • Learn a musical instrument
  • Eat more vegetables and find a way to make them enjoyable
  • Give up smoking and reduce your alcohol intake
  • Call your family up once a week
  • Make and send birthday cards to your friends and family
  • Actually phone your friends - texting doesn't count
  • Do a spring clean and donate belongings you no longer need
  • Give a friends a genuine compliment each day
  • Sign up for some leisure activity classes
  • Try the 365 photo challenge
  • Make money budget and learn to save
  • Join a volunteer organisation 
  • Visit and join your local library
  • Smile at your colleagues/classmates
  • Take your own lunch to school/work
  • Don't use the car if you don't have to
  • Get your eyes tested
  • Visit the dentist
  • Go travel the world 
  • Write a diary/keep a journal
  • Go outside at least once a day
  • Continue your studies and go back to school
  • Take a short course to learn a random new skill
  • Get a haircut or makeover
  • See a therapist
  • Donate to children in need
  • Breathe through your temper
  • Start a blog!

After brain storming some resolutions I did some research and came to the realisation that only 8% of people stick to their resolutions. That's a pretty shocking percentage considering how positive and enthusiastic we are when we make them. It made me realise that these resolutions are such hard ground. They're all either right or wrong which results in us having black and white thinking. Using myself as an example, I'm a perfectionist. I either put in 100% effort or none at all if I know it's going to fail. Let's just say it was pretty bizarre explaining my school reports to my parents. This maybe the basis to why half the resolutions go out the window. It's easier to dump then all than to tell yourself it's okay that it didn't work today because you've got the entire year to work on it.

Ideas to sticking to you resolutions

Believe in yourself. If you think your resolutions going to fail anyway are you going to commit? Give your goals half way points and congratulate yourself for even trying to take the next step. Self talk yourself like you would a friend. You'd encourage them to continue and tell them how proud you were of them.

Plan of action. I can't stress this enough but planning is such a motivational way to achieve your goals. It helps you to feel organised and satisfied when you tick off that complete box.

Realistically speaking no you're most likely not going to fit into a size 6 in a month just by adding a few more vegetables onto your plate. You'll then feel disappointed with yourself and most likely throw the resolution out the window. Set yourself achievable goals in a decent time frame.

Don't give up. If you've been doing something for almost your entire life it's hard to change so suddenly. Humans are creatures of habit that like sticking to our comfort zone. Commend yourself for even making it to February and accept that it takes time to rewire and create new habits.

Peer pressure. We've all heard of the negatives of peer pressure such a social smoking and binge drinking. It doesn't all have to be bad though. Having a good source of inspiration around will also pressure you to make good changes. Team up with a friend and work on your goals together having a little friendly competition along the way.

That is probably the longest blog post I have ever written! For me personally, I want to have a fresh start to my life in 2016. This year's been a rough year for me and I'm sure many of you reading can say the same. I'm going to pick five new years resolutions and even if I just keep one of them, I'm going to be positive about it. I hope this post gave you some ideas about resolution choices. I know that not all of them are applicable to everyone including myself but hopefully there's at least one or two that can spark a successful change.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Christmas Star Cookies

Apparently today is National Cookie Day. I'm not entirely sure who makes up all these events but I just go with the flow because I enjoy cookies. Ever since the Christmas tree has gone up, I've been feeling so festive. Naturally, I put two and two together and bam, we've got Christmas Star Cookies. It's a simple egg-free recipe that make about 16 sugar cookies. I also added in a bit of cinnamon because I always feel like spices are a vital part of festive baking.

1 Tbs milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour (plus extra)
1/6 cup honey
1/4 cup icing sugar
100g soft butter

1 egg white
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
silver pearls

1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. Line your baking tray.
3. Mix the milk, cinnamon, self-raising flour, plain flour, honey, icing sugar and butter.
3. You may need to add more plain flour if the dough is very sticky.
4. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
5. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it's 6mm thick.
6. Use a star cutter to cut the dough and carefully place it onto your baking tray.
7. Place the tray in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes until the cookies are golden.
8. Let the cookies sit on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
9. Beat the egg white with an electric whisk until it becomes stiff like a meringue.
10. Add in the icing sugar and lemon juice and continue whisking.
11. Put the icing in a piping bag and line the edge of the cookies placing a pearl on each point.

Hopefully this post has put you into a festive baking mood. Let me know if you end up making these cookies. They're really quick an easy to make and I think they look quite sweet. Most importantly, they taste delicious!
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