Review: Instant Cheddar Cheese Tteokbokki

Review: Instant Cheddar Cheese Tteokbokki

Coming back from my holiday in New Zealand was bittersweet. The views, the fresh air and the freedom to wake up in the morning and do whatever I wanted came to an end! The bright side though, was that I was back in my beloved bed and could start making that bread!

It was also time to get back into routine. So – although a day late – we went on our weekly grocery run! I picked up this instant tteokbokki from our local Asian grocer and was curious to try it. I’ve had rice cakes before, but never with it’s own marinade.

Unlike my last review, I’ll focus on these three categories:

  1. Convenience.
  2. Flavour.
  3. Worth it or not?

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My score: 7/10

As I get older, I notice my time is more limited. Although I try my best to cook something fresh each day, the weekend is usually a hit-and-miss when it comes to eating at ‘traditional’ breakfast and lunch hours. This instant tteokbokki is perfect for someone like me who tends to get lazy every now and then.

On this particular day, I woke up at 8AM and stayed in bed for an hour before actually getting up.Out the packet, it seemed super straight-forward! Good news. A sauce packet and a packet of mini tteokkbokki.

I tried to peel off the nutritional value sticker to see the cooking instructions on the cup. Since that was a fail, I watched a few YouTube videos which was really helpful!

Step 1: Add boiling water (50ml), sauce and tteokbokki into the cup. I added more water as I felt the amount wouldn’t cook the rice cake.

Step 2: Microwave. Time may vary. The only problem with this step?

We don’t actually own a microwave.

Step 3: I set up my portable electric stove and poured everything into a stainless steel saucepan. I simmered the rice cake for about 5 minutes or so, mixing it every so often so it didn’t stick to the bottom or burn.

 

It was starting to smell good! The rice cake gradually got softer. Once it was done, I turned the stove off and mixed the cheese through. I then transferred it back in the cup for an “authentic instant tteokbokki experience” — that was a mouthful!

Besides having to use a saucepan, throwing the two ingredients in to cook for a few minutes is still convenient to me!

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My score: 7/10.

Initially, I tried the rice cake when it was done. It was quite sweet with a slight kick of spice. The cheese level was at a 6/10. It tasted more creamy than it did “cheesy”. For a little more flavour, added more cheese, sesame oil, Togarashi (Japanese 7 Spice Blend) and a pinch of chicken stock. Totally optional!

For an instant form of rice cake, the overall flavour was impressive. I haven’t tried anything like this before, so I don’t have anything to compare to. A few additions of my own did bring up the flavour though!

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tokcupMy score: 8/10.

For approximately $4.00, this microwavable snack is worth it! I wouldn’t say this is the healthiest snack to eat or that it would be appropriate for a whole meal, but it does satisfy hunger enough to get you through to lunch/dinner.

If you enjoy cheese-flavoured food, then I would say this instant tteokbokki would be a good product to try! Add some fresh spring onion and shredded cheese for extra flavour!

I hope you all had a wonderful, productive and relaxing weekend!

What’s your favourite savoury snack?

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Review: Away Travel Luggage

Review: Away Travel Luggage

A month before I departed on my trip to New Zealand, I bought two new cases from Away Travel online both in the colour “sand”:

  1. The Carry On
  2. The Medium

I bought these two as they were essential sizes that I needed to replace old bags. I considered buying The Large luggage, but didn’t think I’d need that much space. I spent a few nights measuring the bags against my old ones, making sure they were the perfect size. The lifetime guarantee was another factor that drew me towards Away Travel; I prefer to buy items that will last, rather than buying something that I will need to replace after a few months.

After months of hesitation, I finally bought them! Altogether, these bags cost $625 AUD. The carry on was $295 and the medium was $375. Purchasing the bags in a luggage set, I saved $45. Shipping was free. On to the review!

I’ll score these bags out of 10, based on these 3 criteria:

  1. First impression.
  2. Durability.
  3. Overall function.

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My score: 8/10. 

On my work break, my sister messaged me and sent me a photo that my new luggage arrived! It took about 10 days shipping to Australia. I assume they have a warehouse in one of the major cities which ensured quick delivery. So far, so good!

One of my concerns buying online, was that the bags could get damaged, lost or stolen on its way to me.  However, my bags were encased in hard foam to keep from denting or damage in transit. And the fact that these boxes arrived without getting lost, was a good sign.

Out of the box, these bags felt quite light. The exterior material is grainy but not tacky upon looking at them. However, the feel of the exterior lost marks as it is rough and made it feel cheap despite it’s expensive ‘look’. The colour was one of the many reasons I went with Away Travel Luggage. I got both bags in the colour “sand” and it was just as beautiful in person as they looked online!

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My score: 7/10.

At first, I was really careful when rolling my bags around. After a week or so and especially when I began packing, I used quite a bit of force to open and close the bags. So far, they haven’t cracked or damaged when I’ve turned the bags sideways or sat on them to zip the bags shut!

When picking up The Medium luggage at bag collection, I noticed a few scuff marks. Other than that, the bag held up well throughout the international flight. The two electronic appliances I took were intact.

Despite stuffing my luggage with thick sweaters and making my bag bulge slightly, it closed relatively easily! For some reason, I worried constantly about buying a new luggage bag and then breaking the zipper on the first go. This did not happen!

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My score: 7/10

As you can see in the image above, both The Carry On and The Medium have two compartments: one side with a mesh zip flap and the other with mesh storage and two tightening clips.

Both sides were equally easy to use, fill and re-open when needed. I found the two-clip side really useful for my bulky sweaters and jacket. I could compress the sides down by pulling at the clip tail.

Both bags had a locking system at the top of the bags for security. They also came with luggage tags attached which I only filled out half-way through the trip. Oops.

Both the Carry On and The Medium had four wheels which was essential when purchasing new bags. I didn’t want to worry about having to drag one or both cases with me. Convenience is essential when traveling, especially overseas!

A few things I would note:

  • Overlap: If one side is heavier than the other and you flip it to zip the case up, it can overlap, resulting in a bit of strategic manoeuvring in order to close.
  • Top handles not catching: Both the handles can be temperamental. Particularly, when going through security – especially during peak time – you’ve got to grab your belongings quickly off the scanning belt and continue walking or else you’ll hold up the people behind you. However, the handle of my carry on would not “catch” and I’d end up carrying it out of the way to avoid a hold up. I’ve now learned not to worry about the perfect height of the handle and simply pull it up with some force so it locks in and I can roll away smoothly!
  • The wheels: I found if my carry on was 7-8kg, it would wheel, but sometimes get lost in a different direction than the one I am pulling it. Similarly, at 24kg, my medium luggage bag would wheel but I needed to add force and keep a steady grip so it wouldn’t roll in the wrong direction. This could be because I filled my bags to capacity — I still haven’t completely learned to pack ‘light’! 

All in all, I am so happy with my purchase. These bags got me from A to B AKA Adelaide to New Zealand. Through the road-trips we took, and having to re-pack each time into a small boot space with other luggage, they did exactly what was advertised. My belongings were safe through it all and I wasn’t afraid of anything breaking! Plus, they look stylish AF when rolled together. Totally worth the money spent!

I hope this review gave you an insight to Away Travel carry on and medium luggage bags. Happy travels!

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How to regulate stress when flying alone for the first time.

How to regulate stress when flying alone for the first time.

What is stress?

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress in general is a simple emotion that can help us survive in critical situations and can also help us stay productive in our jobs through things like project deadlines and customer demand.

When we do new things for the first time, there is a level of stress that may arise. An interesting thing to note however, is the fact that the brain can’t always distinguish nervousness/stress from excitement. So in hindsight, I was likely excited to begin my vacation, but nervous to fly alone. Interesting, right?

For this years trip, I was flying from Adelaide, Australia to Queenstown, New Zealand with a quick stop over in Sydney. If you’ve never flown alone before, I’ve listed a few things that helped me regulate stress so I could fully enjoy my vacation!

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3-5 days before, I began packing. Usually, I have a list of things I need. In the end, I started with basics and worked my way up – no list needed! First up: underwear, thermals and socks! I then tried on all the outfits I planned in my head and took photos for reference. I put all these items on one side of my bedroom when they were ready to be packed. I then packed toiletries, electronics (charger cables, laptop, hairdryer, straightener) and big jackets.

The night before, I laid out my “airplane outfit” so I could change quickly and get out the door. Packing early ensures we can get up and go, minus any last-minute panic-packing!

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a. Luggage.

I triple checked my luggage to make sure that all my heavy and non-essential items were going to be checked-in. If an item wasn’t going to be used on the flight or in-between flights, it was going into my luggage bag! Once my baggage was checked, I knew that was one less thing I needed to worry about!

b. Carry-on.

Essentials for me, included a book to read, extra layers in case I get cold and my crossbody which would be stored in my carry-on. I dedicated one section of my crossbody to hold my  itinerary and passport. That way, those documents were separate from miscellaneous items like perfume and earphones.

The stop-over in Sydney required a shuttle-bus ride. As soon as I landed, I got my next ticket out and kept it wedged in my passport for ease-of-access, once I got to the gate.

Being organised as much as possible minimises questions of whether or not we have everything we need.

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On my flight to Sydney, I sat next to a lovely lady named Kylee (@kyleeeann) and we got to chatting. It made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one flying alone (although rationally, I know many people do). We spoke about our plans, what we do in our daily lives and even shared our social media ventures! I know it can be awkward sitting next to complete strangers if you’re used to travelling with friends or family, but you never know who you may meet and what you might learn through these short encounters!

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Kylee tapped me on the shoulder to look out the window. The sun was rising. It was a beautiful mix of orange, yellow and navy blue. Waking up at 3AM was difficult and as scary as it was to be flying alone, there are always pockets of goodness and beauty if you look for it! So if you’re awake enough, look out the window!

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During my stopover, I only had 1.5 hour between flights (which in hindsight, wasn’t long enough). I rushed to the loo and then ran to the other side of the airport to catch a shuttle bus to the international terminal. Once I got to the bus line, I realised I was very close to missing my connecting flight. Talk about stressed! I fixed my eyes on a spot on the wall and breathed deeply. I slowed my mind down. Yes, I was still focused on the ticking clock but I tried my best to intentionally calm myself and regulate my breathing. I did not have control over how fast the bus would arrive, so there was no point in stressing over it. I learned a lot about myself in terms of “control” and how it feels to let it go.

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I love a good, creamy, non-dairy coffee. However, I opted for water for both flights. Although coffee was satisfying, it would exacerbate my nervousness. For those who know me, know I enjoy a good bite to eat, so I made sure to have breakfast and lunch to keep me fuelled for the day ahead. I listened to my body and that’s something I’m proud of myself for! In the last few months, I’ve found it difficult to distinguish hunger, fullness and dehydration. If you have had moments or days like this too, it is time to listen to your body. It is so important to treat our bodies well.

I hope you found these tips helpful for your next adventure! Stress is normal. If we find ways to regulate it, stress can be beneficial for productivity and organisation.

Signing off from

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Why I don’t believe in God.

Why I don’t believe in God.

There isn’t one particular reason why my belief faded. It’s a collection of big and small occurrences. So go grab a coffee, tea, snack or a full meal – this will be a long one!

{Please note that this is my personal experience and is not a way to shame others who are religious! We are free to believe what we want, and we have the ability to choose: if something becomes oppressive or harmful in our lives, we can let it go!}

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I’d been part of a youth group for a number of years. At that point in my life, I felt rather secure in my faith. As a teenager, I had curious questions, but they were met with “I don’t know” or “pray about it”. I would shrug it off. Deep down, I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t right.

During my senior years of school, my personal life became absolute chaos: my grades began to slip, I was sad, anxious and angry. I was being manipulated by people around me. Trapped. I clung to the idea of a “loving God” because I felt that love was lacking so much in my life. I wanted protection, guidance and love.

God filled a void I had no capacity to fill for myself. Spoiler alert: not yet, anyway.

Then, under the pressure of school and toxic relationships, I started experiencing what some may call “spiritual warfare”. It began at a youth camp. At first, I heard a light whispering. After a few minutes, an unknown voice spoke to me. These voices could not be identified as male or female. I was terrified, sometimes numb and mostly sad. What was wrong with me? Was I losing my mind?

An adult in the community suggested I see a mental health professional, but this was a red-flag to me at the time. If this adult agrees I’m suffering from these experiences because of my “sin”, why would she then suggest I see a psychologist? What would the benefit be if this was in fact a spiritual matter? To say I was confused, would be a gross understatement. These voices haunted me for 6-9 months. I never saw a doctor. And my family never suggested I needed to.

This was the beginning of the end.

{I mentioned this experience to my psychologist recently and she agreed that under the enormous amount of mental pressure I was under during that time, it could have been auditory hallucinations.}

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After deliberation, I let my parents know that I was leaving the catholic church. I even had a short chat with a priest about it. He was surprisingly supportive of my plans to attend a new church.

I began attending a protestant church which was the opposite of the type of church I grew up in. There were no dark wooden pews, no statues and not as many windows. We didn’t have to be silent or hold our heads down. This is where I started to learn about community. The people were the church! <– my “aha” moment.

As life would have it, the insecurity returned. I felt I didn’t belong. I didn’t want this “responsibility” to evangelise. I didn’t want to stop same-sex couples marrying each other. I didn’t want to shame others for how they felt, because I knew what that was like. There was a deep conflict brewing between what I was taught to believe, versus what I wanted to believe.

I couldn’t believe it. I was a self-righteous wolf in sheep’s clothing.

I kept preaching “love all people” and yet I was shaming people for their “sins”, trying to scare people into believing. I would talk about how abortion was so harmful to the foetus, yet ignore the needs and wants of the woman bearing this difficult decision.

I was a complete hypocrite!

I needed to remove myself from this blanket of lies.

Title_04.jpgThe threatening voices were gone, but there was a new voice in my head: the voice of reflection and reason.

Where did I belong if it wasn’t with a church community? Could I accept myself as Angela without the identity of religion? Why did I think that saying hurtful things and scaring people would draw them to religion?  

By the age of 18, I moved out of home to a granny-flat with my relatives. I learned about budgeting expenses (although they were minimal), how to cook for myself, how to plan around uni classes and work. I also met new people! They have become some of my closest friends.

The world was different than I imagined! I thought it was a dark, sinful place. I thought that me leaving my faith behind meant that I would go to hell. Ironically, this belief was shed once I started seeing a mental-health counsellor.

By age 19 and in my early 20s, my worldview completely changed.

I didn’t need to feel guilty about speaking my mind, questioning beliefs or getting drunk on a Saturday night. What’s the point of me believing in something I didn’t agree with anyway? In my mind, I either conformed to religious beliefs (no drinking, dating with intention, voting against same-sex marriage, being against accessible abortion etc) or I was free. Guess what I chose?

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Freedom has always been a value of mine. Whether it be the freedom to choose, the freedom from manipulation, religion or a mindset, freedom has always been the goal.  I’m not afraid of what a book may say, or that a “believer” might tell me my life is full of sin.

I know in myself, that I am complete because I am. In my darkest moments, faith was comforting. But now, my darkest moments are an example of how strong I am because I fucking fight back. Not because someone tells me they’re praying for me.

I accept myself as I am, without religion: a woman who is trying to live her best life, despite the lows. A woman who is trying to bring light to her part of the world through encouraging compassion for oneself and others. A woman shedding light on societal pressures: what a woman should or shouldn’t do, wear, say and feel. A woman who is free.

thanku2

 

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Reflections during the Long Weekend

Reflections during the Long Weekend

Today, I want to reflect on the last two years. Particularly, for myself as an individual as well as a committed person in a relationship. I’m always starting conversations with my boyfriend about the future regarding property, financial goals, aspirations and ideas. As nice as it is to imagine what our future could be like in career and as people, it is so important to realise how far we’ve come.

In this world of social media (including this blog you’re reading – although I hope this is a positive one!), it can be difficult not to get swayed by what others post or say. And as advertising on social platforms becomes more rampant, it can be difficult to remember what’s truly important. I catch myself wanting material items that could never bring me true joy, so I’m taking a step back today.

A tendency of mine that I’ve had since a young age, is that I can doubt myself in almost every aspect of life. It’s sad and really frustrating. However, I’m becoming better at noticing small accomplishments and reminding myself of where I am now. Below is a humble-brag to remind myself – and you – that it’s possible to improve our lifestyle and well-being by simply working on it.

financially

  • I’m finally earning more after 10 years of being afraid to commit to a self-accountable role (and of earning minimum/below minimum wage).
  • I’m putting away half my pay-check into savings (some weeks 75%).
  • I’ve been able to save for two holidays, one of which I paid off upfront as a birthday gift for my boyfriend.

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  • I’m getting better at not taking things personally.
  • Setting boundaries but also doing my best to talk about how I really feel.
  • Able to hold space for others really well.

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  • My story is my own to change. I can either: repeat it like a broken record and be miserable and blame others for my mistakes OR I can make amazing lemonade out of lemons.
  • Learning what it takes to never give up.
  • I know my limits are only set by my mindset.
  • If I set myself to a task, to follow through.

physically

  • Trying to move my body 2-3 times a week.
  • Pushing through the tiredness.
  • Knowing there is so much room for improvement and that’s not a bad thing.

I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend! Don’t forget to remember where you’ve come from and the accomplishments you’ve made along the way.

By noticing the good in our life, we notice the good in others 🙂

What have you accomplished this year that you’re proud of?

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