RAINBOW FLOURITE – A STONE FOR FOCUS AND CLARITY

rainbow flourite

rainbow flourite

 

As a strong believer in the power of crystals, I have used crystals for various purposes and have felt its positive effects on me. In this blog post, I’d like to talk about rainbow fluorite, a stone that helps one to focus and clear confusion.

rainbow flourite generators

Aesthetically, rainbow fluorite is beautiful. As the name suggests, it has multi-coloured bands that appear like the rays of a rainbow. I keep one or two of rainbow fluorite generators near my laptop to help me focus while doing my work. Apart from its metaphysical properties, rainbow fluorite also makes beautiful ornaments. They are simply pleasing for the eyes.

rainbow flourite

Interestingly, since rainbow fluorite works for me in terms of focus and clarity, keeping in on my bedside table does not help me sleep. It makes my mind active and thus I have to keep it out of sight to have a good night’s rest. 

rainbow flourite

 

The above is my favourite rainbow flourite generator. It is biggest and heaviest I’ve ever owned and I can feel its strong positive energy radiating the surrounding environment. 

Rainbow fluorite isn’t expensive. Small or medium sized ones are very affordable. Of course the more aesthetically pleasing and the bigger it is, the more exorbitant the price.

MY CHOLESTEROL REDUCTION CHALLENGE

boiled chick peas

 

healthy food

This blog post is about my cholesterol reduction challenge – my greatest challenge of the year. In retrospect, I collected my annual blood test results last week and was upset to know that my cholesterol level is still high. What was worse was that I was told my high cholesterol was hereditary which I may have gotten from my father. The doctor said that no matter how much I exercised or changed my diet, my cholesterol level would remain high unless I took medication. And I had to take it for life. So after that day, I vowed to completely change my diet and stick to a strict regime.

My Plans 

I have been thinking a lot about my situation and have done lots of research. Resulting from that, I plan to stick to the following:

  • Switch my food servings to 70% plant based including legumes and nuts, 20% protein and 10% wholegrain carbs.
  • Eat more blueberries and apples and other fruit that lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Exercise almost every day for at least 30mins.
  • Take Apple Cider Vinegar every day before dinner.
  • Take fruit smoothies for breakfast, if not daily perhaps on alternate days.

So with reference to the above, I’m thinking of:

  • investing in a blender to prepare my veg smoothies
  • conducting research on veg smoothie recipes and cholesterol lowering meals
  • taking my prescribed statin only for 3 months and then go without for the next 3 to 4 months before testing for cholesterol again.

My Actions Thus Far….

So far, I have been extra mindful of the food I consume and have been staingy away fromfried food, pastry and savoury ghee laden rice.

apple cider vinegar

As an example, lunch will consist of macaroni soup with steamed chicken and leafy veg while dinner comprises a veg and bean burrito. It is satisfying and I feel clean after being extra mindful of my food choices. I have also started taking apple cider vinegar (ACV) and sipped it through a straw as ACV can erode the teeth enamel over a long period of time. To take extra precautions, I brush my teeth right after taking it. Take note that the apple cider vinegar must be organic and contains the Mother which is actually the sediment (in rudimentary terms) which makes the end result effective. 

Reflecting over the past year, my cholesterol reduction goal has not been successful as there was only a reduction of 1 mg in my LDL, the bad cholesterol. My HDL is  good in contrast and the doctor reckons the high cholesterol level has nothing to do with my diet. And I weigh 55 kg. So I’m determined to prove the doctor wrong that people with hereditary cholesterol level cannot lower it without medication.

I will have to try very, very hard to forgo pesto, cheese containing high cholesterol especially my favourite Laughing Cow cheese, potato chips and oily as well as pastry-related food. Sinful food will only be a luxury that can be consumed once in a while. Aren’t we humans after all? I will chart my journey and share my recipes with you in my attempts to lower my cholesterol levels without medication. All I need is strong will power to avoid temptations and keep to my strict diet. Would love to hear from those who have successfully lowered their hereditary cholesterol levels without statins. 

CHIA SEED PEANUT BUTTER

chia seed peanut butter

chia seed peanut butter

I’ve tried this new peanut butter product recently and like it for it is healthy in the sense that it is low in sodium and contains Chia Seeds. At 350 g, Chia Seed Natural Peanut Butter from Mother Nature costs AU$5.50 and is available in supermarkets. Containing 38 mg of salt per serving,  it is less salty than generic brand peanut butter. Interestingly, it claims to contain Australian Oleic peanuts that have more monosaturated fats compared to ordinary peanuts. It also says on the label that if supply of Oleic peanuts is short, the company will source the mentioned peanuts from Argentina. 

Having a 5 star health rating, this product contains only 1.1 g of saturated fat. Its ingredients make up of Oleic peanuts, chia seeds and salt. 

chia seed peanut butter

The overall taste is mild, less salty and quite light while the consistency is thick and creamy. It is ideal for slathering on toast or prepared in a sandwich press with banana slices.  

Disclaimer: I do not receive any commission to write a review on this product. The content and opinions featured in this post are entirely my own, based on my personal experience using the above-mentioned product. 

CREAMY RICOTTA SPIRALS WITH MUSHROOMS

ricotta spirals with mushrooms

ricotta spirals with mushrooms

Creamy pasta can no doubt be fattening. I love creamy pasta once in a while but feel the guilt after having it since it is laden with heavy cream. I decided to go for the low fat version and prepared creamy ricotta spirals with mushrooms. Yes, you’ve got it. I’ve substituted cream with ricotta. The result is tasty, sans the richness of cream. Here’s how I did it: 

ricotta spiral with mushrooms

Ingredients

grape seed oil 

3/4 packet of spiral pasta 

salt for boiling pasta 

1 large onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

250 g mushrooms, sliced

8 cherry tomatoes, diced

1/2 anchovy cube

250 g ricotta cheese 

1 tbsp chili flakes

pepper to taste

handful of coriander, chopped

Shaved Parmesan for serving 

Method

1. Fill a pot with water and add salt. Boil it over medium heat. Once boiled, add spirals and cook for 8-10 mins or till al dente. Save 1 cup of pasta water, drain the rest of the water into a colander and set spirals aside.  

2. Add oil to a pan over medium heat. Once heated, add onions and cook till they are nearly caramelized. 

3. Add garlic and let it cook. Then add mushrooms and let them sweat, that is, juice oozes out. 

4. Next, add tomatoes and mix the ingredients well. 

5. Add anchovy cube and break it to form a paste. Stir the paste together with the ingredients. If you can’t find anchovy paste, you can add tinned anchovies but ensure that they are finely chopped. 

6. Add the ricotta and then add pasta water to dilute it. The consistency should not be thick. 

7. Add pepper to taste and as an option, as chili flakes. 

8. Stir the mixture and then add the cooked spirals. Blend the ingredients well. 

9. Add coriander for added taste. 

10. Serve on plate and finish with Parmesan shavings. 

This dish is easy and quick to prepare. Ensure that you use anchovy cubes or the ones in the tin for flavour. The pepper and chili flakes with lift the pasta dish to a new level. Alternatively, you can add prawns or shrimps. If you feel generous, use Shitake mushrooms instead. The result is light, satisfying, tasty pasta that keeps the whole family happy. 

SUMPTUOUS FISH CURRY NOODLES

fish curry noodles

fish curry noodles

I craved for fish curry noodles last week and prepared it using a variety of ingredients. Fish curry can be prepared many ways. This recipe is different from the curry noodle dish I shared many posts ago. For this dish, I decided to add a little variation, that is, pulping tomatoes and combing it with caramelized onions for an added sweetness. Use tasty, fleshy white fish like perch or snapper. The noodles used is based on preference. In this dish, I use vermicelli noodles instead of egg noodles. I suppose the latter is tastier and if you decide to use it, look for the one in the refrigerated section as it is preservative free.  

 fish curry in pan

Ingredients

1 large onion, sliced

3 large tomatoes, diced

250g snapper, cut in cubes 

3 small sweet potatoes, diced 

2 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt

1 tsbp tamarind paste 

3 sprigs curry leaves

coriander, chopped finely

cumin seeds

mustard seeds

1-2 green chili, sliced

a bunch of asparagus, slant sliced

1 can coconut milk 

1 cup water

1 tsp tumeric powder

2 tsp garam masala

3 tbsp curry powder

salt to taste 

1/2 packet vermicelli noodles 

Method

  1. Heat oil in a cooking skillet at medium heat. Add cumin and mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add curry leaves. 
  2. Add onions and cook till they caramelize.  
  3. Add tomatoes and allow them to soften to near pulp. 
  4. Then add green chili and asparagus. 
  5. In the meantime, shallow fry fish in a separate pan and set aside once cooked. 
  6. Peel sweet potatoes, cut into cubes and cook in microwave for about 6 minutes. 
  7. Place vermicelli in a pot, heat water in a kettle and then pour boiling water over vermicelli to soften it. Leave it aside for 8-10 minutes before draining the noodles.
  8. Add garam masala, tumeric powder and curry powder to the onion and tomato mixture. Mix well.
  9. Add coconut milk and stir ingredients. Add water to slightly dilute the mixture.
  10. Add salt to taste and stir.
  11. Then, add yoghurt to add depth to the taste. 
  12. Add in fish together with the oil that it is cooked in. 
  13. Add tamarind paste and stir. 
  14. Add sweet potatoes and let the curry simmer. 
  15. Lastly, add coriander and stir the curry. 
  16. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes before serving with vermicelli. 

fish curry noodles

The ingredients can easily be found in any Asian supermarket. I like to use Ayam brand curry powder for its taste and texture and Chili brand vermicelli as it is less floury and odourless. Cook the fish curry for a day’s meal as fish leftover the next day will not taste good as it will lose its freshness. This is a delicious meal that can be enjoyed with you family or when you have guests at home. You can choose to add boiled eggs or substitute fish for chicken. Alternatively, serve with rice. 

SHITAKE MUSHROOM WRAP

wrap4

shitake mushroom wrap

In my recent two post, I shared my homemade pesto as well as shitake mushroom, beansprouts and spinach filling recipes. Today, I’d like to show you how to prepare the shitake mushroom wrap with the pesto base. I usually add avocado slices or sweet potato slices or even pumpkin  cubes. I usually peel and slice the sweet potato and then cook the slices in the microwave for 4 minutes. For the pumpkin cubes, I buy raw cubes from Woolies and then cook them in the microwave in small batches. 

First, slather pesto on wrap. I love Mission Garlic Wrap because of its garlic after-taste. You can use whichever wrap you prefer. There are a variety to choose from. 

Then, I’d add the shitake mushroom, beansprout and spinach filling over the pesto. After which, I will add avocades, or sweet potatoes or pumpkin cubes. Some times, to add variety, I’d add tofu slices or cubes.  

vegetable wrap wrap 2

Tuck in the wrap on the sides and then fold one side upwards to form a parcel. Cut the parcel into half and voila! Wrap the two halves in foil and enjoy it for lunch. 

mushroom wrap

SPECIAL HOMEMADE PESTO USING THE NUTRIBULLET

pesto 4

homemade pesto

Last Sunday, I prepared pesto using the Nutribullet in two goes. I harvested a bowlful of basil and half a bowl of parsley that grow thick and wild in the herb garden. Since the Nutriibullet is small, I split the ingredients into two and blended the first batch. After the first set of ingredients had been blended, I repeated the procedure with the second set of ingredients. This worked just fine.  The pesto easily filled up 3/4 of a bottle. 

homemade pesto

Ingredients

One bowl of basil

Half bowl of parsley

4 cloves of garlic

3/4 cup pine nuts

a handful of raw unsalted cashews

3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

extra virgin olive oil

Method 

  1. Grate cheese and set aside.
  2. Blend basil, parsley, garlic, pine nuts and cashews in Nutribullet. 
  3. Add olive oil every now and then, until all the ingredients turn into paste. 
  4. If paste is thick, dilute it further with more olive oil until it reaches desired consistency. 
  5. Transfer paste from Nutribullet capsule into a sterilized bottle.
  6. Store in fridge and use pesto when required. 

homemade pesto

Pesto is great for slathering on wraps and sandwiches as it adds depth to the taste. It can also be used as pasta base or as a dip.  

SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, BEANSPROUTS AND SPINACH FILLING

wrap shitake

shitake beansprout and spinach filling

Vegetables need not be boring. If you prepare it the right way using the right condiments, vegetables taste great. On most weekdays, I’d prepare a sandwich or wrap for lunch in the mornings using prepared filling. One of my favourite fillings is shitake mushroom, beansprout and spinach combo filling that can be stuffed in wraps or in sandwiches. This will be the base ingredients and I will add others that take my fancy such as sweet potatoes, avocadoes, tomatoes, cucumber, just to name a few.

 shitake beansprout and spinach filling 2 shitake beansprout and spinach filling 3

Ingredients 

2 packets of shitake mushrooms, sliced

half a packet of bean sprouts 

half a packet of spinach

3 tbsp oyster sauce

pepper to taste

fresh chilies, sliced or chili flakes

some butter or margarine

Method

  1. Add some butter or margarine to a hot pan over medium heat. Let the butter or margarine melt. 
  2. Add sliced shitake mushrooms to the melted butter or margarine, mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula and let it sweat and soften. 
  3. Next, add beansprouts and then spinach. Mix them thoroughly till the spinach wilts. 
  4. Add oyster sauce and mix the ingredients well. 
  5. Add pepper to taste and chili flakes. If you prefer to add fresh chilies, you should add them after the mushrooms have softened. 
  6. Remove ingredients, place them in a bowl and let them cool. 

This filling should be placed in the fridge. It lasts a week. While it is great to be used as fillings for wraps or sandwiches, it can also be served with rice. Enjoy!

 

Paperback Vs Hardback VS Kindle: Which Would You Choose?

book2

book3

 

Have you been faced with the dilemma of choosing between paperback and hardback when deciding to buy for yourself or as a gift? I’m an avid book reader who can’t find enough time to read. I try to devour words on paper or kindle during my commute to work and on weekends. I have about 15 minutes of train wait and a 40 minute commute every weekday morning to enjoy this moment of bliss. This is when I take time to read. On Friday after teaching, I’d look forward to going to a cafe just to snatch at least half an hour of reading time while sipping hot mocha. That is my moment of peace and that space is sacred. It is a luxury. 

book1

At times I feel I live for moments to be with my characters and the setting and get involved in the plot. If I were to read non-fiction which I regularly alternate between fiction, I am totally absorbed in the words, ideas and new pieces of information that I hang on to in a way that I can ponder throughout the day. I usually share my readings on Instagram – emmiethyst. I share my love for books, crystals, nature, interesting places, architecture, food and other things of interest. I’m not a narcissist, so you won’t find photos of me there. 

Anyway, to get back to the topic, I was recently confronted with choosing between hardback and paperback. I had a long list of books I wanted to purchase but eventually decided on 3 books: two hardbacks and one paperback. Here’s why:

1) I buy paperback fiction written by my favourite authors

I stick to this rule of buying paperback fiction only written by my favourite writers. I adore fiction by Daphne Du Murier, Ernest Hemingway, Maeve Binchy,  Jhumpa Lahiri, Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Laura Esquivel and Isabel Allende. Rule of thumb for me is to buy paperback from these authors so I can keep them for sentimental value after reading them. I can read these books again and again when I feel so inclined in the future. 

2) I buy fiction by other authors on kindle

I buy fiction on kindle by authors other than my favourite ones listed above. This is because books on kindle are cheaper, at an average of AU$10 a copy. They are also read just once and buying them digitally means they don’t collect dust and save storage space. They are also convenient to carry around.  

3) I buy non-fiction paperback in general

I have always bought non-fiction books on paperback. At times I buy them on kindle if there are newly arrived and too expensive. I find that it’s worth buying paperback non-fiction as these are the books I constantly refer to when I need to find inspiration or a new idea or a relevant quote in my writing. 

4) I buy non-fiction hardcover if I really want them quick and get a bargain

Of late, I’ve bought newly published hardcover non-fiction books as they are reasonably priced and the difference in cost is slight when compared to the kindle version. Why didn’t I wait for the paperback ones to be published? Apparently, I can’t wait to own them and when I can get a good discount, I will jump on the opportunity. 

These are hardback books  I recently purchased:

Silence in the age of noise

silence in the age of noise

 

The gist of this book is to find pockets of silence and destress during a commute or walking through nature. It talks about learning to listen and reflect.  

 Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Ikigai

This book is about how having a strong sense of ikigai—the place where passion, mission, vocation, and profession intersect—means that each day is infused with meaning. It’s the reason we get up in the morning. It’s also the reason many Japanese never really retire. I guess I’m curious to find out. 

I am looking out for the novel ‘Go, Went, Gone’ by Genny Erpenbeck that tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. This book is available on hardcover now, so I’m waiting for the paperback version or mayl get it on kindle since it is a fiction. 

Another book I’m looking out for in paperback is ‘Dear World’ by Bana Alabed. It’s written by a seven year-old Syrian girl, with the help of her mother, who describes the horrors of war. 

So many books, so little time. Yes, I want to devour as many books and since I have little time to spare, I will take precious pockets of time to indulge in books. Paperback, hardcover or kindle, the choice is personal. What are your thoughts on this? 

GARDEN VISITS IN THE HIGHLANDS

rose bush

tulips Moidart

 

So I spent the long weekend in Bowral, in the Southern Highlands. There are two beautiful gardens worth visiting there, Moidart Garden and Milton Garden. These gardens are within close proximity to my accommodation at the Biota. 

Moidart Garden 

Moidart Garden is very English, tucked away in the folds of the highland which is part of the Great Dividing Range that spans from NSW to Queensland. The name Moidart is actually a district on the west coast of Scotland. It was built by Mr James Burns in the early 1930s.  

The garden features mature deciduous trees which provide a stunning display of autumn colours. Specimens include giant sequoia, red oaks, golden elms, chestnuts, london plane trees, copper beech, dogwood, tulip trees and cypress.

close up tulips moidart

I fell in love with the setting in front of the huge house. Graceful white tulips have been planted in neat rows in front of the residence which look like a country manor.  

sunken rose garden

Sunken Rose Garden

To the east of the house, surrounded by manicured hedges, is the famous sunken rose garden. Here a formal layout of beds bordered by box hedges, a central flowering crabapple and gravel paths provide a setting for a magnificent display of classic roses from spring through to autumn.

bluebell walk

 

 

rosebush 2

The Terraces

I enjoyed walking past blue bells on either sides of the garden. The place is very tranquil and I never tire looking at the flowers around me. There are also rose bushes that add vibrant colour to the surroundings amidst the blue bells.  

milton park

Milton Park 

Milton Park started off as a property for breeding fine cattle. It was purchased by Anthony Hordern in 1910. In 1960, Milton Park was bought by King Ranch Pty Ltd. This company was responsible for the import of Santa Gertrudis Cattle to Australia in 1952. Cattle breeders from all over Australia converge at this annual sale of top quality stock at Milton Park annually. 

The property has been converted to a hotel in 1984. The place has been refurbished and the garden has been restored to its former glory.  

tulips Milton

 

tulips 2 Milton

Strolling in the garden feels like what the landed gentry in England must have enjoyed doing in the 19th century. Sans parasols and calico dresses, the stroll was leisurely and everything I saw was a feast to the eyes. There was bound to be something of wonder in little pockets of the garden that is full of character. 

milton gate

The blue bell wood was like a whimsical place tucked in the far corners of the earth. It lay in the shadows of huge trees and a fallen log or two added some character to the place, replicating the scenery at the woods. 

milton trees

The rainbow lawn was dotted with colorful tulips. It was a welcome sight and punctuate the monotony of greenery with colour. 

milton property

We could have spent hours in the garden as the tranquility and beauty were therapeutic. By the end of the walk, we felt refreshed and calm. We were ready to venture to our next destination. 

New Age Tips 

Have you ever wondered why gardening is so therapeutic for many? Just being amidst greenery is an antidote for the soul. Doing mindless work like planting, weeding and watering takes your mind off your worries. Harvesting your fruit or herbs or vegetables gives you that unexplainable satisfaction. 

If you live in a unit or apartment and are fortunate enough to have  a balcony, consider starting a vertical garden. It is not only practical and utilises the amount of space you’ve got, but is also cathartic. 

If you live in a house with a garden, consider planning a layout for a small garden. Before long, you’d be into it and find deep satisfaction in growing your own plants. 

If you have neither a balcony or or space for a garden or garden visits to the highlands are not on the cards, try scoping out gardens or parks in your area and take walks every now and then. You will find that such a simple activity does wonders to your body, mind and soul.