Add It To Your Christmas Wish List: Mi Goals Inspire Book

There are many reasons I love Twitter, one of them being that I so often stumble across really gorgeous, innovative brands that I wouldn’t have found until everyone else knew about them already. Case in point: Mi Goals, a lovely little Aussie company that makes stationary designed to inspire and uplift. Amazing!

So, for this seasonal serious of Add It To Your Christmas Wish List I introduce Mi Goals Inspire Book, $9.95. Think of this adorable little bookette as a place to stick all your dreams, hopes, wishes and desires. A sanctuary of goodness for your soul. You know what they say…

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And here’s the Inspire Book in the flesh. Bonus points for it being on sale, too…

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So… What do you think? Cute, right?

Stay Happy,

Yaz xx

Happy Reads: Cookbooks and Food Sites Worth Checking Out…NOW!

Cookbooks are my crack.

Yep, I love everything about them. The pretty pictures, the inspiration, the little bubble of excitement I get in my belly when I see something and think ‘Shit! I’m totally going to make that’ and the sense of pride that fills my loins when I actually do.

But here’s the thing with me and cookbooks. Or recipes rather. I cannot follow them to the T. Impossible. I start getting all Heston Blumenthal and add, remove, recreate and put a good dose of Yaz into everything I cook. Sometimes for the worse, but often, for the better.

Either way, I simply couldn’t live without them. So, here are the top 5 cookbooks and foodie websites that send me into a flurry of excitement…

1. Wholefood by Jude Blereau

Jude is a bit of a legend in the wholefood world. Her recipes are super easy, tasty and packed with ingredients that you know are good for you. This was my first wholefood cookbook and I continue to refer to it weekly. It doesn’t have many (if any) pictures, but the recipes sound so good you don’t miss them at all.

Favourite recipe: Vegetarian Moussaka

2. Clean Food by Terry Walters

I came across this book in New York and had it sent to Australia so it was waiting for me when I arrived home. It’s wonderful! Terry introduces her recipes by the season, making seasonal eating simple, healthy, and easy to understand. I also find her recipes great for mid-week meals as there aren’t too many ingredients in them.

Favourite recipe: Root veggie fries

3. Food 52

Created by New York-based uber-foodies Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, Food 52 is the food lover’s Disneyland. It is a beautiful site, with amazing recipes, lots of gorgeous pics and an endless list of need-to-make meals.

Favourite recipes: One pot kale and quinoa pilaf

4. The Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander

In my (imaginary) mind I don’t live in a townhouse in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, I in fact live on a large property in the country with a kitchen garden that’s flourishing. Of course, due to all my spare time, I need to consult this kitchen garden manual to find out when to plant, grow, harvest, chop and cook the abundance of fresh produce out the back so that dinner is served every night. From the ingredients in the garden. I turn to this extensive guide for recipe inspiration and learning more about gardening. Because one day, I’ll need to know.

Favourite recipe: Baghdad eggs on simple flatbread

5. The Alkaline Sisters

They say you eat with your eyes and this site captures that mantra flawlessly. Pops of bright colour entice you to try each and every one of their healthy recipes, and best of all, they’re ALKALINE forming, too. A feast for your eyes. Literally.

Favourite recipe: Alkaline Green Smoothie

Tell me…

What do you guys think of these books and sites?
Do you have any you’d like to share?

Stay Happy,

Yaz xx

I Thought My Marriage Was Perfect. Until I Read This…

I remember one night, about a year ago, when I was suddenly awoken by the sound of a drunken couple fighting on the street outside my home in Sydney. It was around 3am, and they were clearly unaware that their fighting was waking up the entire neighbourhood. Or perhaps they just didn’t care.

From what I could ascertain between loud shouts (the boy) and hysterical cries of forgiveness (the girl) they had had a fight because she appeared to be flirting with some random, and her boyfriend was jealous. As he stormed up the street, leaving her all alone and saying it was over, she wailed after him that he never made her feel loved, that she wasn’t flirting with anyone, and that she was sorry. Then, I think she passed out from either too much alcohol, or a broken heart!

As I lay there in bed with my boyfriend (now husband), I snuggled in tight thinking how lucky I was to have a man who never made me feel unloved. Who never made me feel insecure. And who never made me question his love for me. I felt like screaming out to that poor girl, as she hopelessly waited for her boyfriend to return, that he wasn’t the right man for her. I imagined sticking my head out the window and shouting ‘Stay Strong! You’ll meet Mr. Right, you just have to lose Mr. Wrong first, and when you do, that deep hollow in your heart will never return. I promise.”

I still think about that poor girl and the importance of feeling loved on a daily basis. Sure, you’re going to fight with your partner from time to time, but it’s those little acts of kindness and respect for one another that keep that fire burning through the tough times and the good times, too.

For example, my husband has made me tea and breakfast every single morning for the past 2.5 years. EVERY MORNING. He’s never missed one. I never asked for this service, he took it upon himself the first time he stayed the night at my place, and it’s been one of his many little gestures of love to me ever since. Even if I’m standing over the tea pot and he’s sitting down, and I try to pour it myself, he insists that I sit down so he can bring it to me. Bless him!

I never really understood why Alex was so sweet like that. Why he was always making me breakfast, and lunch, and cuddling me, and taking the time to sit and listen to me about my day without any interruptions. I thought he was some kind of angel, some rare form of male who was so bloody nice he made me look like an evil troll. I still believe that, he is my divine husband after all, but I have come to learn so much about these small acts of ‘showing love’  since coming into contact with this insanely insightful book…

We were given this book by some friends of ours as a wedding gift. They’ve been married 5 years and credit their insane bond to this book (among other things, of course). They eagerly handed it to us with a guide to read it, and then store it for later, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Read it together, patiently waiting for each other to finish the page, and then eagerly turning it over to learn more. It’s very addictive.

Basically, the book talks about the 5 languages of love. That is, Acts of Service (making your partner tea); Words of Affirmation (telling your partner they look pretty); Quality Time (playing a game of tennis together); Physical Touch (hugging, back stroking, holding hands); and Gifts (self explanatory).

Essentially, everyone speaks a different love language, and the book hypothesises that if you learn to speak your partner’s primary love language, you are destined to a life of marital bliss. Funnily enough, I honestly believe this to be true. All of Alex’s little acts of love speak my love language, and that’s why I’ve never questioned his love for me. He says he feels the same way, and that’s because I know his love language, and make an effort to make him feel loved on a daily basis, too. It works both ways, of course.

But perhaps you and your partner are not feeling quite so in-sync? Perhaps you need more quality time, and he needs more acts of service, and despite loving each other immensely, it’s getting lost in translation somewhere. I know this has happened to me in the past, I was crying out for quality time in my first long term relationship, and not getting it. As a result, the relationship died.

The moral of the story is this, Happies. READ THIS BOOK! Honestly. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a new relationship, just married, been married for 30 years, or not even in a relationship. Everyone can gain some much-needed life lessons from this book. And even if your marriage seems perfect, you can never have too much love. That’s how I feel anyway.

Stay Happy,
Yaz xx

Raw Meal Monday: Pure Food’s Raw Vegan Pad Thai

It’s Monday, which, if you’ve been reading The Happiness Cocktail over the past few days means only one thing: Raw Meal Mondays. Hooray! If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, read this first and then pop back.

There is a restaurant here in New York called Pure Food and Wine and it is 100% raw vegan fare. It’s deliciously tricky, with menu items such as Lasagne and Pad Thai and Spanikopita, all of which, rather surprisingly, are totally raw. Amazing!

Side note: If you do happen to be coming to New York and love the sound of this place, I highly recommend you go. I also highly recommend going at lunch time as the salads are insanely delicious and the servings are big, scrumptious and extremely filling. The dinner menu, however, had me craving more and that’s never good after dropping the big bucks on a meal.

So, today’s Raw Meal Monday kicks off with a recipe of Pure Food & Wine’s Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles. It’s easy, tasty, and 100% raw. Weee!

Here’s the visual to get you in the mood…

And here’s what you need to recreate this masterpiece…

For the PAD THAI SAUCE:

½ cup soaked and strained tamarind pulp (you can buy tamarind pulp at most Asian grocers or the Asian aisle of your supermarket)
1 cup heated water
1 medium tomato
½ of one thai chili (depending on spice desired)
1 medium clove garlic
1 small shallot
1/4 cup shoyu
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon agave

Cut off a 2”x2” block and dissolve tamarind in 1 cup of hot water (not quite boiling) removing any seeds and with a fork, working it into a paste. Let it soak for 15 minutes.

Next, combine tomatoes, chilis, garlic, shallots, ½ cup shoyu, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, sesame oil and agave in Vitamix or high speed blender and blend well. Next, add the tamarind pulp and blend until very smooth.

For the VEGETABLES:

1 head of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, diced or julienned
1 medium zucchini diced or julienned
1 medium orange or red bell pepper, julienned
1 large sliced king oyster mushroom (or handful sliced shiitake or other mushrooms)
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced on a diagonal
3 green onions, white and about 3″ of green, sliced

Mix all chopped veggies in a large bowl

For the VEGETABLE MARINADE:

Add ¼ cup shoyu, 1 tbsp lime, drizzle of olive oil, 2 tbsp of Pad Thai Sauce

Mix veggies and marinade until liquid is evenly dispersed. Let sit in refrigerator for an hour or more.

For the NOODLES:

Open two 12 oz. packages of Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles and chop into 3-4” pieces.

Add the noodles to the veggie mixture, pouring about half of the Pad Thai sauce into the bowl and mix well with tongs until sauce is evenly distributed.

For the GARNISH:

½ cup chopped cashews
Drizzle of sesame oil
Sprinkle of sea salt
Handful of cilantro

Mix cashews with salt and sesame oil, sprinkle over finished Pad Thai. Drizzle with lime juice and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

While there are a few new ingredients and a few steps involved in making this tasty delight, it’s worth starting this thing off with a bang. I know I would get excited about coming home to this for dinner, or taking it in my snack bag for lunch and having the office oggle my new, exciting lunch. And that’s what Raw Meal Monday’s are all about. Having fun, getting excited, and best of all, trying new (totally raw) things.

Enjoy Happies,

Yaz xx

Lesson #4: Reading is a key ingredient to growing

It was like an oasis had appeared right in front of me, Happies. There it was, with its fluro orange jacket staring me in the face screaming ‘PICK ME. PICK ME’.

Of course, it wasn’t really screaming, books can’t scream, but in that instant, as I wandered around the Borders Books Closing Down Sale (sad face) that this book literally just appeared out of nowhere. I’m 99% sure it wasn’t there the first time I glanced at that shelf, but if I actually said that out loud people might really think I’ve lost it. But hey, we’re all friends here, so I’m going to throw it out there.

It’s no secret that I’m a firm believer in books ‘finding’ you. It’s happened to me so many times now, I hardly even get surprised when I open the first few pages and start reading and there it is… the story of my life right now. Or at least, the story of where I want my life to be heading, or think it’s heading at some point in time.

So when I picked up Stephanie Dowrick’s latest novel, Seeking The Sacred, the pearl among all kinds of random oysters, I knew I had officially struck literary gold. The fact that this bad boy was even still on the shelves was a miracle in itself. It was clearly meant to be.

Here’s the book in question…

If you’re yet to acquaint yourself with Dowrick, please do yourself a favour and skip on over to her website after this. She’s kind of my idol. Her insights into life and lessons and in this case, spirituality and religion, is beyond anything I could ever hope to know. Oh, and her other books, especially Choosing Happiness, are a must-read if you’re looking for something uplifting and life lesson-y.

Which brings me back to Seeking the Sacred. I’ve only just started this book, but already I’m devouring it like a spray tan on Snooki. It’s amazing. Insightful. And so incredibly focused on making you question your belief system that it’s impossible not to grow after reading its pages.

But there’s one passage in particular that has me thinking, questioning, and perhaps down the track, growing that I wanted to share with you. It’s about perception and choosing what you believe, and what you don’t.

‘You don’t see the world as it is; you see the world as you ARE.’

I had to read this a few times to get my head around it. But once comprehended, this is SO TRUE. How I perceive something may be completely different to how someone else does, and that’s purely based on our perception. Past experience, belief systems, fears, insecurities, passions…all these things and so many more impact on how we see the world. And really can cause all kinds of unnecessary shit in our lives.

So today’s lesson comes down to this, Happies. By opening up our minds and learning, reading, and educating ourselves on other possibilities and scenarios in life, we’re essentially growing. And with growth comes so many amazing things. It really is food for your soul, so on that note, I urge you to go out, grab a book (maybe even this book) and start feasting. Go on, scoot!

But first tell me…

What’s your favourite book?

Do you agree that it’s so important to read and grow and learn?

What do you think of this idea of seeing the world as you are, rather than how it is?