My Top Five – September

1) Pana chocolate       One of my yoga teacher’s recently introduced this to me. Raw, vegan, intensely chocolatey and a little bit fudgy, it is hands down the best chocolate I have ever eaten, vegan/raw or otherwise. Coconut and goji is my favourite, though it also comes in yummy orange, mint, cinnamon and with nuts. And when it’s full of ingredients like coconut oil and raw cacao, you can almost convince yourself it’s good for you too!

2) Coconut milk yoghurt      I recently gave up dairy (again) but needed something to replace my beloved Jalna yoghurt. Enter Coyo. Rich and creamy, it’s marketed as being heaven in a mouthful. And oh! How it is! Somehow food tastes even better when you know it’s cruelty free.

3) Yoga retreat    There’ll be a proper post on this soon, but it was such an amazing, inspiring weekend that it deserves a place in my top 5. Yoga, meditation, delicious food and beautiful bushland all combined to create a blissful, internet/television/radio-free retreat, in the truest sense of the word.

4) Finishing my yoga teacher training    Again, a proper pose coming soon, but again, it HAD to get a mention! (Plus it means I’ll have more time to keep this blog up to date!) I finished my final exam this week and while graduation is still a few weeks away, I’m so excited to know I’ll be able to start teaching soon, and start creating a new life for myself, in which yoga plays the starring role.

5) Compassion    Compassion is one of the traits I most pride myself on. It was tested this month with the arrest of a local man accused of abducting, raping and murdering a young woman on her way home from a night out. Angry, I posted a nasty little rant about him on FB. Later, one of my previous yoga teachers commented on my post, reminding me that no matter what terrible things he has done, he is still a person with a history and life of his own and still deserving of compassion. It was like having a mirror held up to me, and I didn’t like what I saw. Especially as I’m a social worker, and separating people from their behaviours is all in a day’s work. I felt I should know better. Shame-faced, I deleted my post, replacing it with an acknowledgment of the lesson I had learned in compassion, humilty and self-awareness.

My Top Five – August

1. Baby goats     I recently went along to Myuna Animal Farm for a three year old’s birthday party, and I’m pretty sure I had just as much fun – if not more! – than the kids. There were cows, ponies, sheep, pigs, bunnies, chooks, guinea pigs, alpaca, deer…but it was the baby goats that completely stole my heart. Oh so cute, full of beans and super friendly, I could have spent all day being jumped on by my new friends!

2. Bat for Lashes – Laura   I haven’t worked out how to embed videos yet, so just take my word for it and go Youtube it RIGHT NOW. Simply sublime.

3. Date night    My partner and I go out together fairly regularly, but this month we decided that we would start taking it in turns to organise a monthly “date night”. The only thing we’re allowed to tell each other is the date on which it will be happening, but everything else has to be a surprise.  I must admit, as a control freak, the not-knowing is slightly disconcerting, but after finding myself at Izakaya Den, the surprise date concept was thoroughly embraced. (As an aside, if you ever find yourself in Melbourne and you love Japanese, then you must, must, MUST go to Izakaya. You’re welcome.)

4. Readings     Another Melbourne must-do, Readings is the haunt of true book lovers. Fortunately for my bank account, I tend to only go every couple of months or so (whenever I’m about to run out of reading material), though I always buy up big when I’m there! Honestly, is there anything better than whiling away a lazy morning in an actual bookshop, scanning the covers of actual books, feeling the paper between your fingers as you soak up the words upon the page? I’m having none of this digital, e-book nonsense.

5. Overdose Awareness Day – August 31st    On a more serious note, this Friday August 31st marks Overdose Awareness Day. It’s an opportunity to remember everyone who has passed away or been seriously injuried as a result of drug overdose, as well as to acknowledge the grief experienced by friends and family members. As a social worker, I have known many people who have lost their lives to drugs and alcohol, many of them without family, and will be taking some time out of my busy day to remember them all.

My Top Five – July

 1.    Luvju Snacks              I love Loving Earth. Ethically sound, sustainable and organic, their products are choc-full of goodness in more ways than one. I’ve wanted to try their Luvju snacks for ages, but for one reason or another never did. Last time I was at the naturopath, I finally grabbed a couple – AFA, goji and chia; and maqui, acai and cacao. Heart-shaped and packed full of superfoods, nuts and dried fruits, they are delicious, nutritious and provide a nice little boost to get you through the day. There are chocolate versions as well, which I’ve yet to try. At $3.50 a pop though, I think I’ll keep them as an occasional treat.

2.    The Walking Dead    I love zombies, in all their gory glory. So when my boyfriend told me about a TV show centred on a zombie apocalypse, I got excited. Then I started watching, and got obsessed. I think what I love most about the show (aside from the zombies, of course) is the way the characters and their relationships with each other are constantly defined and re-defined throughout the course of each season – ultimately, exploring what happens to people in the face of multiple and repeated traumas. It could so easily have been just another kick-butt, zombie-killing affair, but the creators have obviously chosen the more interesting route and taken the time to intersperse the mayhem with some big questions about morality and civilisation, and how these fit (or don’t, as the case may be) in a world where the old rules no longer apply. Watch it. Now.

3.    The Wellness Warrior – Foodie Friday      I discovered The Wellness Warrior a while back now, and it’s an absolute font of knowledge when it comes to all things holistic and healthy. One of the things I look forward to most is Foodie Friday. Each week blogger Jessica Ainscough introduces and interviews some amazingly creative and inspiring cooks and chefs, each offering a unique and mouth-watering recipe. I often find myself falling into a bit of a cooking rut, and Foodie Friday helpsmake me get excited about cooking all over again.

4.    School holidays        I’m just about to go back to study after a two week break, which has been DIVINE. An extra night in the week to practice yoga; Saturday afternoons baking and experimenting with new recipes (raw carrot cake, anyone? It’syummo!); long, lazy Sundays on the couch watching dvds and reading the papers. Just lovely.

5.    Winter sunshine        I’m really not a fan of winter. I feel the cold terribly; I’m always fending off the threat of chilblains; and my skin turns lovely shades of purple and blue. But occasionally you get one of those gorgeous, cloudless, sun filled days, breaking through all the gloom and rain. It helps to remind me that winter’s not going to last forever. And it’s amazing to see the difference a bit of sunshine makes to people’s moods.

 

My Top Five – June

1) Green juices   I’ve started getting into green juices this month. Not everyday – sometimes I forget, and let’s face it, at 7am on a cold winter’s morning, a hot cup of tea is far more appealing. But they taste great, act as an instant nutritional boost and help to alkalise the body. My favourite combo is spinach, cucumber, celery and apple. Definitely keen to try out some smoothie recipes soon – maybe next month?

2) Black quinoa   I’ve been on the quinoa bandwagon for ages, but I’ve only ever eaten white quinoa. That was until my boyfriend brought home a bag of black quinoa from the Middle Eastern bakery down the road. It was a revelation – a little crunchy, with a wonderfully earthy flavour. It’s been on high rotation for lunch and dinner. And it looks pretty too.

3) Handmade skin care products  I’ll do a proper blog on this soon, but suffice to say that creating your very own products, whith complete knowledge and control of what goes into them is suprememly satisfying. Kind of like a quiet “up yours” to all those companies who insist on serving up cheap, toxic and downright nasty chemical cocktails disguised as moisturisers and soaps. And with ingredients like almond meal, poppy seeds and cocoa butter, they’re almost good enough to eat!

4) Workhealth Check    Because no matter how young you are or how well you think you’re doing healthwise, it’s always good to just get a little snapshot of what’s really going on. I was especially interested to see my results after increasing my fat intake – and turns out my cholesterol levels are excellent, blood glucose perfectly fine, blood pressure normal, waist measurement well below the recommended limit. Fat is not the enemy!

5) Rosehip oil   I recently switched to Trilogy skincare products, which use rosehip oil as their signature ingredient. This month, I started using their rosehip oil (with added antioxidants!). Rosehip oil has been shown to reduce wrinkles, scarring and stretch marks, and to improve the overall appearance of skin. My skin has never felt so soft! So nourished and healthy. Any pimples clear up quickly, my skin tone has improved (no more blotchy cheeks!) and I’m looking forward to seeing my acne scars fade.

My Top 5 – May

1) Coconut oil    Like many people, I used to be scared of eating fat. But there is absolutely no need – as long as you’re eating the right kinds. Coconut oil in BRIMMING with the good stuff – check out more info here –  they explain it much better than I could. I eat it in my porridge, my stir-frys and curries, slather it on my skin as a moisturiser. I think the lauric acid in it is even helping my skin infection! Go get some!

2) Raw desserts     I’ve been thinking more and more about raw foods lately, and treats in particular. Because, let’s face it, we all need a choccie hit now and then. And if there’s a way of making it healthier, I’m all for it! Cue experiments with raw chocolate avocado mousse, chia pudding and raw chocolate brownies. I used this recipe at My New Roots for the brownies – and they are DIVINE. Try them for yourself!

3) Natural skincare    I’ve been slowly switching my chemical-laden skin care products to natural, nicer stuff. Trilogy for the face, Perfect Potion for the rest of my skin, and Miessence for deoderant. All are absolutely beautiful, and work even better than my old stuff. I haven’t yet started tweaking my make-up brands, but I am wearing less, and less often, so it’s a start.

4) My snuggle rug      I really, really dislike the cold. And Melbourne is freezing right now! So I bought a cosy blanket a few years ago to wrap myself in each winter. It’s been getting a great workout these past few weeks! So toasty!

5) Florence and the Machine      I was lucky enough to see her earlier this month – definitely one of the best concerts I’ve been to. There’s just something so magical about her voice. It transports and transforms. Simply brilliant. (And as an aside, how good is live music?)