Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A Few Thoughts on Self-Love

The first photo of myself I can remember loving, double chin and all.   
June is the first month is the first I've been home from college in quite a while, and as such I've had a great deal more time alone with my thoughts than I usually do (the other day I was so overwhelmed by my wandering mind that I quite literally burst into tears... more on this another time). I'd say I live pretty much entirely inside my head, and if I don't communicate my thoughts and feelings it can all get to be a little much. Sometimes I'll be on the train, or watching a YouTube video, or reading a novel, when a thought crosses my mind and I just need to write about it in some way or I think I might explode. So I thought I'd share some of that here, just fragments of what I've been thinking.

This month I've been thinking a lot about self-love: what informs self-love, what promotes it, how it functions in today's society. I've read a number of articles with varying titles: 20 Ways to Practice Self-Love and the like. It seems that mass media wants women to exist in a self-perpetuating identity crisis. We're told to love ourselves, and then bombarded with messages of what we should eat, wear, buy and strive to be (very rarely should we strive to be ourselves, according to the articles I've seen). That said, I had the sudden realization earlier this year that without trying or even really thinking much about it, I found myself very much a promoter of self-love and respect, because I honestly do love myself, and I don't think it's nearly as challenging as mainstream women's magazines want us to believe.

In my experience, no guide to self-love will ever be effective. It's as simple as it sounds, really: the key to loving yourself is just to love yourself... and everything that it encompasses. There are no steps to take. It's as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Love the best bits, love the imperfections, love the parts of yourself that you're working on, love the fact that you are trying and love that you will keep trying no matter what. Love everything that you are, always. If you're struggling with body positivity, just remind yourself that your body is capable of climbing mountains and carrying you through your life. Start right now, and never stop. Swap negativity for love, and don't look back. Don't ever become angry with yourself, don't regret decisions that you consciously made, and don't compare yourself to others because this only leads to toxic downward spirals.

One harsh truth I've learned, and I'm glad I've learned it early in life: you need to look out for yourself, because sometimes you're the only one who is. While it is important to surround yourself with positive people who promote self-love, it needs to come from within first.

Once you make this commitment, the opinions of others seem to pale in comparison to how you feel about yourself. On days when getting out of bed and putting two feet on the floor seems like a daunting task, remember that it was you that made it through every tough day you've ever had before. Love and embrace that. Love the courage it takes to keep moving when things are hard, but also love the courage it takes to speak up and say "I'm not okay and I need some help." In my experience, that's the hardest part of all. And that's when self-love is most important.

On a wider scale, I think that accepting everything that you are has hugely positive effects on the people around you, and every interaction you will have for the rest of your life. If you're comfortable in your own skin, and you're comfortable making mistakes and even embracing them, then others around you are more likely to be as well. That's some of the most positive change you can promote, and it all starts with you.

Monday, 20 June 2016

A Few Easy & Tasty Winter Weekday Meal Ideas

As I'm spending most of my summer break at home, I started cooking a ton and have found a few new favorite recipes that I wanted to share! I'm not super great at writing up recipes, so I'll just give an overview of ingredients and basic steps: these are all super simple and very hard to mess up! I hope you love them!

Porridge with banana, coconut, and super seeds

  • Rolled oats
  • Plant-based milk (I like a mix of almond & coconut)
  • Tinned coconut milk
  • Coconut oil
  • Banana, sliced
  • Optional: chia seeds, flax seeds, fresh berries, almonds
I've gone a week with this for breakfast every single day, and never get sick of it! I put 1/2 cup of oats, 1 cup of milk, a splash of tinned coconut milk and half the sliced banana in a saucepan and heat it over medium flame for about 5 minutes (add chia/flax if you want here). Then add a tablespoon of coconut oil, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Once it's your ideal consistency, serve it up with the rest of the banana, and any other fruit or nuts on top!

Italian seasoned sweet potato chips

  • Sweet potato (I can happily eat one sweet potato, so maybe one per person)
  • Olive oil
  • Italian herbs (Moroccan herbs are also great)
This one is definitely the easiest of the bunch, it takes literally 3 minutes to get started. Preheat the oven to about 170 celsius. Peel and chop up the potatoes. I like wedges but also enjoy round slices. Then just pop them in a lined pan with olive oil and herbs, make sure everything's evenly coated, and pop in the oven. Turn halfway through cooking, and when they're a little bit crispy, they're ready to enjoy!

Brown rice burrito bowl with fresh guacamole

  • Rice (I like brown rice)
  • Black beans
  • Garlic
  • Avocado
  • Fresh coriander/cilantro
  • Fresh tomato
  • Lime juice
I was super hungry last week and threw this together to satisfy all my cravings. It's so great! Start by putting the rice on to cook, it will be ready when it's nice and fluffy! To make the guac, just mash the avocado in a bowl, add as much chopped tomato as you want, some lime juice, and about one clove of crushed garlic. Combine the black beans with 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and put it in a pan to heat up for about five minutes, stirring frequently. When everything's ready just pop it all in a bowl and you're good to go! (Pictured with some homemade tortilla chips: super easy too! Just chop up tortillas and drizzle with olive oil, bake in the oven until crisp!)

Cozy pesto pasta

  • One serve of pasta (I love brown rice or quinoa spirals)
  • About 1/2 cup of basil
  • About 1 cup of fresh spinach
  • Small handful of pine nuts or cashews
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • More fresh spinach (or rocket/arugula, for serving)
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Optional: cheese (vegan or regular, whatever you prefer)
Definitely my go-to comfort food, I love this so much! Pop your pasta on to cook with a pinch of salt. While it cooks, combine the basil, spinach and nuts in a food processor with approx. 1/2 cup olive oil and about 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Add less/more olive oil depending on the consistency you're after. Then just stir the pesto into the cooked pasta, add some fresh spinach leaves and fresh tomato and it's all done! Top with cheese if you like. Perfect for a night in front of the TV.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Easy Ways to Clear Your Mind

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."

As a college student with a crazy schedule most of the time, I often get overwhelmed by my to-do list and the day ahead of me, and sometimes this means I don't enjoy each day as much as I would like to. While I'm at school, I establish a morning routine that puts me in the right headspace for the day, and there are a few things I do throughout the day to keep up this positive energy. Sometimes, though, it can all get to be a bit too much, and then I have a few things that I do to clear my head when I really need the clarity.

Simplify your tech routine

This is a tough one for me, always. I'm pretty obsessed with social media, and generally browsing my favorite online stores until the early hours of the morning. I find that there are a few things I can do to help manage the time I spend in front of a screen each day.

  1. Close all of your internet tabs except for the one that you're using right now. This is hard, I'm such a tab hoarder. But this way I feel like I'm just doing one thing on my computer and don't feel the need to spend hours sorting through the tabs.
  2. Delete negative people, and people you don't know, from your social networks. My Facebook feed is so often filled up with people I don't know or value in my life, and it is so much nicer to just open FB up and see news about people you really care about.
  3. Set limits. Obviously when it's midterms or finals week, I'm on my laptop almost all evening, researching and writing away. When I don't have a lot of work to do, though, I much prefer putting the laptop away once I've done everything I need to, and picking up a book, going for a walk, or calling a friend to hang out. Generally I aim to spend only a couple of hours on my laptop (not including schoolwork), but this number is totally up to you and whatever suits your lifestyle.

Physical cleansing = mental clarity

In my opinion, these are some of the quickest ways to clear your head if you're feeling overwhelmed. Simply having a cleaner space around you works wonders on your mental state.
  1. Tidy your desk/room and make sure to throw a few things away in the process. This is always what I do if I've had a long, exhausting day and need to clear my head. Just making space at my desk or tidying my room makes me feel worlds better, and throwing things away is one of my favorite things ever (I hope I'm not alone in that). While you clean, I find it really helps to open the windows and get some fresh air in!
  2. Brush your teeth, wash your face, or just take a shower. When it's been a long day, sometimes I just need a minute or two standing under warm running water. It is so comforting and cleansing on a physical level that always translates to some peace of mind. 
  3. Go for a run or walk. When I have time, I love getting some fresh air and exercise in the morning, and find this energizes me for the day and increases my focus for the whole day. Even just walking the dog around the block or doing a few simple stretches can also make a huge difference.

Take care of yourself

Without a doubt, I always feel more focused and happy when I am taking good care of myself (both physically and mentally). I think these things can make a world of difference if you're needing some clarity.
  1. Prepare a healthy, colorful, tasty meal for yourself. I love a warm bowl of pasta with fresh pesto and veggies, or a veggie curry, something that's wholesome and comforting but will also make me feel worlds better.
  2. Drink lots of water. There are equations that help you calculate how much you need, I tend to aim for a good two liters every day, and I always feel a little sluggish if I'm dehydrated. It makes such a huge difference!
  3. Take a break! Make sure to leave yourself time, whether in the morning or evening, to relax and take a deep breath. I love reading for an hour before I go to sleep, or watching a couple episodes of something on Netflix. Even just cuddling my cat! Anything you can do to take a break from the stresses of everyday life will help clear your mind for the next day.
I hope this is helpful for you! Let me know what you do to stay calm and clear your mind when things all get to be a little bit much.

x B

Monday, 13 June 2016

Recipe: Super Easy Vegan & GF Salted Caramel Slice

A few months ago I began slowly changing my diet to cut out refined sugar, dairy, and gluten. I've been a vegetarian for many years and to me this seemed like a very doable and rewarding next step. The one challenge I kept facing was that my obsessive sweet tooth meant I was constantly craving a chocolate bar or bag of sweets, and I knew I needed to figure out how to make some healthier alternatives. I began reading some amazing blogs and recipe books (post on some of these coming soon), and now my pantry is stocked with ingredients that I can throw together to create some sweet deliciousness. Admittedly this is a little dangerous, but so far I am loving creating new and exciting treats.

This week I experimented a little bit and created something absolutely incredible: vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free salted caramel slice. Caramel slice has been a favourite of mine since I was a little kid, so this made me so so happy! This recipe is super duper easy, and you only need a handful of ingredients.

Salted Caramel Slice (Vegan, GF, Refined Sugar Free)

Makes approx. 16 bars

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook/cool time: approx. 2 hours


  • For the crust
    • 1 cup almond meal
    • 1 cup brown rice flour
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
    • 2/3 cup water
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • For the caramel filling
    • 5 medjool dates, pitted and halved
    • 1/2 cup almond butter (homemade works best here)
    • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
    • 1 small tin full-fat coconut milk
  • For the chocolate top layer
    • 100g vegan chocolate chips
    • 1 tbsp coconut oil


  1. Start by preheating the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced. While the oven is heating up, mix the crust ingredients together in a bowl until it is a dough-like consistency. Line a tray with baking paper or grease with coconut oil, and evenly spread the crust mixture out in the tray.
  2. Place the crust in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden on top. While it is baking, place all the caramel filling ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, and keep stirring until it forms a slightly runny, mostly goeey consistency. If you want it totally smooth (the dates will add some texture), then just blend it for a few seconds once it's mostly smooth.
  3. Once the crust is done and cooled, pour the caramel filling over it and place it in the fridge for about an hour, until it is nearly solid. 
  4. Melt the vegan chocolate with the tablespoon of coconut oil either over the stove or in the microwave, and pour over the other layers. Place it in the fridge again for another hour.
  5. Once the chocolate layer has solidified, remove it from the pan and slice into pieces. Enjoy the caramel and chocolatey goodness!
If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments below how they turned out, or tag me on Instagram with @rebeccasather!

x B


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Life Lately: June

"A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms." - Zen Shin

It's a Friday morning and it's grey and cloudy outside. I'm home in Melbourne on the couch, with my cat snuggled up next to me. It has been half a year since I last wrote here, and it is time for a catch up. So here's a brief overview of my life, the last few months condensed into little bullet points (each ending in an exclamation point because everything's exciting, it seems).

  • Finished my sophomore year with my best grades yet, and am very happy at school these days!
  • Applied to study abroad next spring semester at the University of Edinburgh, and I will hear back soon!
  • Gave up dairy, and artificial sugar, and now I feel great, and have lost some weight to boot!
  • Writing lots more, for Spoon University and The Odyssey Online, and I am the new Editor-in-Chief of my college yearbook!
  • Planning exciting travel for the next year or so, can't wait to share more when trips come around!

I am planning for many new posts in the weeks and months to come, since it's summer break (although winter at home!) I finally have time to share some of my thoughts again. 

x B

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