Nominated for Liebster Award!

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Thank you to Susan from Watch Hatch Fly (http://watchhatchfly.com) and also Lauzan from The Veggy Side of Me (http://theveggysideofme.wordpress.com) for nominating for for a Liebster award! I really appreciate the nomination because the Liebster award is for newer bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers. I think a lot of us on here on WordPress blog because we are passionate about something, are creative, or simply enjoy writing. It can also be really difficult to get yourself out there because there are millions of bloggers now around the world with how much people  have access to technology. So, as someone who loves to write, be creative, and is also passionate about the things I blog about I certainly love it when people enjoy my work. I can’t always blog as much as I’d like because I go to school and I work, but I definitely love to whenever I can. I also really enjoy reading other people’s blogs and learning new things and even just appreciating art. Both Susan and Lauzan have amazing blogs that include great vegan and vegetarian recipes. I also really enjoy Susan’s humor!

So the Liebster Award rules are as follows:

  • Nominees must link back the person who nominated.
  • Answer the 10 questions that are given by the nominator.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who also have fewer than 200 followers.
  • Create 10 questions for the nominees to answer.
  • Notify your nominees about their nomination (Say that 10 times really fast! Actually it’s not that bad…)

So here are my questions from Susan:

1. Outside of your family members, who is your biggest inspiration and why?

I always find this question really difficult because no one immediately comes to mind other than my parents. Other than that people who really inspire me are those who do what seems impossible.

2. What is your favorite book from your childhood?

I am one of those people who do not remember much from their childhood. I had a difficult and traumatic upbringing and so I don’t like to remember that time very much. I really can’t remember any children’s books but I do remember that I loved anything paranormal and loved the Goosebump series.

3. Where do you go for peace and quiet?

I’m a major homebody and love to just be at home listening to music, otherwise I feel most peaceful when I am outdoors and with nature.

4. What is your favorite dinner?

My favorite dinner would have to be my mums Persian cooking. Without my mums cooking I could eat Japanese food any time, especially sushi and sashimi.

5. Name your guilty pleasure.

My guilty pleasure is probably a toss up between the compulsion to look at pretty shoes, or to eat freshly baked bread. It is a running joke between my husband and I that I could be caught looking at shoes at any given time. In fact if you watch The IT Crowd there is this one episode where the main girl Jan is interrupted as she’s in her own world thinking about a pair of red heels and just randomly blurts out, “Shoes.” So anytime my husband asks me what I’m doing I just simply say, “Shoes.”

6. What’s more fun for you, a big party or a few friends at dinner?

I’m definitely not a party person so I would say a few friends at dinner. I love connecting with people and having good conversations.

7. Love running or hate running?

I don’t love or hate running. I would actually like to be someone who does in fact run, but I’m more of a hiker. I have bad knees, can that be my excuse?

8. What is a cause that is important to you?

Since getting a dog last year which was the first pet I’ve ever had in my life I have noticed that I am very sensitive to animal rights. I cannot take seeing animals mistreated, especially dogs. Animals don’t have a voice and so I can’t take it when I see people mistreat their pets, or animals in general.

9. If you could make a living out of doing something you already love to do, what would it be?

I have a lot of things I’d love to do that all center on creative work. I would love to write articles but not books. I would love to be a photographer, especially to photograph people. I love interior design and set design. I’m always redecorating the brand layouts in my store and the product always seems to sell better when I do.

10. OMG! Did you see the movie “Gravity” yet? And if not, why?

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even know what Gravity was and had to Google it. I don’t have cable anymore and I rarely go to the cinema. I am pretty out of touch with society these days! It sounds like a very interesting concept though!

Here are my questions from Lauzan:

1. What is your guilty pleasure?

The shoes and the bread.

2. Someone you really cannot stand and why. 

I can’t stand ignorant or closed minded people who form opinions based on stereotypes. I can’t stand it because I can’t tolerant ignorance.

3. What is the first memory you have from your childhood?

Probably being in hospital for a chronic medical condition I had. I hate hospitals…

4. Your favorite b/w movie.

As a horror movie fan I’d have to say House on Haunted Hill or The Masque of the Red Death.

5. Who inspires you?

My parents because of what they went through and how hard they have worked to be successful. My mum has been a strong role model for me as a woman because she was a single mother. My dad has also taught me the value of hard work and persistence.

6. If you could meet someone from the past who would he/she be?

It’s pretty cliche but I’d love to meet Einstein and get to talk to him.

7. What is your favorite food?

Sushi for sure.

8. What is your favorite city?

I have a lot of favorite cities because they are my favorite place. My name actually translates into “Girl of the city”. But my favorites would have to be New York, Sydney and my home city, Brisbane in Australia.

9. The last book you bought.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Unless the Ghost World comic counts…

10. Sea or snow?

I love both but i’m definitely a winter person, so I’d go with snow.

11. Do you believe in ghosts?

With all the paranormal shows I watch you would think so but I’m still not convinced. Every time I watch Paranormal Witness on SyFy I just find the stories hard to believe. Ironically I am still scared of the dark a lot of the time….

My nominations in random order:

Katie Foley from http://katiefoley11.wordpress.com

Afracooking from http://afracooking.wordpress.com

Betty Livin from http://bettylivin.com

ESSEFIT from http://essefit.com

Mydiabetesandme from http://mydiabetesandme.wordpress.com

DaPonte Photography from http://dapontephotography.wordpress.com

Vodka & Cupcakes from http://vodkaandcupcakes.com

Home Creations Everyday from http://homecreationseveryday.wordpress.com/diy-projects/

Shred For Less from http://shredforless.wordpress.com/about/

I am a Twenty Something from http://katepullen.wordpress.com/about/

My 10 Questions for my nominees:

  1. Do you collect anything?
  2. Is there a song that can make you cry just by listening to it?
  3. What would you do if you won $10,ooo?
  4. Who is your favorite person in your life?
  5. Describe 3 of your favorite photographs.
  6. What is the most sentimental thing you own that you could never be without?
  7. What is one talent/skill you wish you had?
  8. If you could relive one moment in your life what would it be?
  9. What is the bravest/boldest thing you’ve done in your life?
  10. What makes you feel most nostalgic about your childhood or past?

Lime Shrimp Salad

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I have been craving salads a lot recently, which is definitely welcome to me. Even when I don’t totally feel like a salad one way I motivate myself to eat healthier is to make my food look really appetizing. I think when you make your salads really colorful and interesting it definitely makes them more appealing. I wanted to use different colored tomatoes but my grocery store only had red ones.

Anyhow, last night I made this lime shrimp salad. It was a very simple recipe but it was really good and very flavorful. I just soaked some peeled shrimp with fresh lime juice and added some salt and ground black pepper.

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It doesn’t need to be cooked very long. I just cooked it in a pan with some Pam spray for about 5 minutes with the lid closed.

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I then set them aside on a plate to cool and put more freshly squeezed lime juice over them. For the salad I just used a mixed spring leaf mix with avocado, green onions, a yellow bell pepper and a red tomato.

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I think you could use just about any salad dressing with this, but probably simple is better. I just used balsamic vinegar on mine and my husband used Italian dressing. I think that’s the great thing about salads because you can change it up by just using different dressings. I think one thing that would have made this even better would have been to add black olives.

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This was a really simple dinner idea but it was surprisingly flavorful and good. I will definitely be having this again. It was a nice change from having a steak salad because red meat can still be pretty heavy, even in a salad.

 

Healthier options for a lunch break.

Yesterday on my lunch break at work I was starving and of course did not bring anything for lunch. I don’t always have a lot of time to find something to eat and even though I work at a pretty large outdoor mall all the close options are either expensive, time-consuming, or just plain unhealthy. I didn’t want to just give in and go to the food court so I ended up driving to the Chick Fil-A nearby. I knew that if I just completely skipped lunch I would just be starving later, and I also didn’t want to eat something like a burger. I ended up choosing an option from the kids menu, which ended up being really good. What I got will look and sound ridiculous but to have something just to eat and hold me over till dinner it was pretty good and pretty healthy.

So this is what I got: Orange juice, grilled chicken strips, and an apple and cinnamon blended thing which was pretty much like baby food to me. Seriously I think it was baby food like you get in those small mason jars with the blended apple or banana things. But I drank it and it was pretty delicious.

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So the funny thing about this is that the serving of chicken I got is probably what a proper serving size is for an adult. This also cost $5.00 and some change which is pretty good. Now I wouldn’t eat this as a usual lunch because I like my greens, but as an option if I don’t have my lunch it is really good. I love finding healthy options when I’m out because it helps me stick to my healthier lifestyle. The other thing I get if I don’t have my lunch or breakfast is Jamba Juice. They now have healthier juices with fruit and vegetables and I always choose the Apples and Greens option which has a mix of fruit and vegetables (obviously), and also has Spiralina which is an amazing vitamin/supplement.

Apple ‘n Greens Smoothie

AppleGreens657Image from Jamba Juice

 

 

Roasted Eggplant

As someone who loves eggplant I constantly try to find new ways of making it. Eggplant is not the easiest thing to cook because it has a weird texture, and the seeds inside make it very bitter. My mum would always make this casserole with eggplant and it always tasted perfect. If I try to make the same thing it doesn’t taste anywhere near her cooking. But I’m Persian and Persian cooking is usually an all-day affair. A lot of times they actually advise you to let the eggplant sit while soaking in salt but I just don’t have the patience for that kind of thing!

So anyhow, I wanted to try roasted eggplant because it sounded delicious and searched for a few recipes online. After trial and error I found that the best way to cook eggplant is at 420°F for 1 hour. It is also best to cut the eggplant in half and cutting the eggplant in diamond cross-hatch patterns. It is also a good idea to use a good amount of salt to reduce the bitterness from the seeds. A lot of the recipes also called for a lot of oil but that didn’t sound entirely healthy so I actually found that cooking with Earth Balance (dairy free) butter was best. I simply spread about a tablespoon of the Earth Balance butter on each half, which isn’t terrible especially if you are just eating the eggplant. The Earth Balance butter is usually made up of good fats also. For some reason the butter also made the eggplant come out better than the oil to me.  And for other seasonings you could pretty much put anything you wanted on it like thyme or lemon. Being the spice freak that I am I of course put chili flakes on mine. I honestly think eggplant when roasted tastes best simple, with only salt to season.

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So after an hour the eggplant looked like this using oil:

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With the Earth Balance butter it came out like this:

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So I think you can see a difference. With the oil the eggplant was still somewhat dry. With the butter the eggplant came out perfect and even the skin ended up crispy, which was delicious. You may think you shouldn’t eat the skin but it actually contains a lot of vitamins. The skin of the eggplant actually has a phytonutrient called nasunin, which is a powerful antioxidant that is highly beneficial for your brain, cardiovascular health, and even for women who can lose a lot of iron. So overall this was a really easy way of cooking eggplant that came out really well. I’ve tried slow-cooking it in my crockpot and it didn’t turn out great, so this is definitely something I often make now to eat for lunch.

Hiking up Mt. Rubidoux

The dog park I take Sonic to has a hike right next to it up Mt. Rubidoux. Today I finally did the hike instead of taking Sonic for a walk around the neighborhood. It is actually a pretty full on hike and it has several options for going up it. There are more hardcore trails that go directly up the mountain. Then there are trails that slowly wind around the mountain, or do a zig-zag up it. I usually don’t have a problem with heights but I have to admit this hike had me nervous a few times. I kept looking over the side and feeling like it would be so easy to accidentally fall over. A man recently fell there and was trapped between rocks for almost a week! The other thing is that it isn’t in the best area and so I don’t think I’d ever go by myself. Even the dog park, which is actually really nice makes me nervous. It seems like an area that shady people like to go and participate in shenanigans. So, moral of the story is, don’t go alone or near sunset, and if you do, bring a gun.

Mt. Rubidoux, California

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View of Carlson Dog Parkphoto 4-3

Reaching a milestone

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A few weeks ago I achieved one of my life goals of completing my degree! That is also why I have been missing from my blog because leading up to my finals I was extremely stressed out. One of my final classes was about information systems and it was both boring and difficult; a dangerous combination for school! But I worked my butt off and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. It was definitely an achievement for me because I gave up on Uni the first time I went straight out of high school. Even though my parents urged me to just complete my degree at that time and get it out of the way, sometimes you need to live life a little and figure out what you want first. While I do wish I had listened to them, I also realize that going to Uni this time around I really valued my education a lot more. So although I am 27 it really is better late than never. I really think that everyone’s journey is different and things do not need to be completed in a perfect succession of events.

Anyhow, this achievement is also only the half way mark for me but it was such a good feeling to graduate. My graduation ceremony is in a month from now and I was honestly considering not attending. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that I completely abandoned my health goals while in my finals. I just do not do well with stress, it has always been my downfall. I get sick when I usually never get sick, even in flu season. I also get lazy with my eating because I usually spend five or more hours straight writing papers and doing research, and then once I’m done I just eat whatever is around. But getting to the point, I realized that the fact that I was considering not going to my graduation ceremony is another reminder of just how much my weight affects the quality of my life. It sounds really vain but just like with any major event where lots of pictures will be taken, I just didn’t want to have all my graduation photos to be of me when I am not at my best.

But the fact is that I am really sick of missing out on things in my life because I am unhappy with the way I look. My graduation ceremony is a pretty important event and it would be ridiculous to miss out on it. So, I have given myself a challenge to really step things up and get pretty  close to my goal in time for my graduation. Because it is a month I’m not going to kill myself and starve in order to lose all the rest of my weight, but I think I could get pretty close. While I did abandon my goal during my finals I didn’t do serious damage. I was not losing any weight for sure, but I also gained about 5lbs. I am already getting back on track though and today I did a pretty difficult hike. When I got home I was actually craving a salad and had that for lunch. Even though I had abandoned my goal for a few weeks I still craved healthy food, and it seemed like my diet was more out of convenience than anything else. That’s no excuse though and I am ready to do this, so it’s good to be back!