Celebrate Every Small Victory

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Flowers planted by my daddy.
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Beautiful 7.15am sky on my way to work (PS I’m a sensei again except this time, to littlies)
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A big box of organic backyard stone-fruit to be shared between mama, daddy, Deli, Andy, Ella, Lucky, and me.image-1-png-3image-png-36Mandy’s amazing creation: vegan coconut ice-cream with rosewater and raspberry.
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World’s largest cucumber photographed by my momma #sizedoesmatter.

Let Us Have Love And More Love

Soroosh and I had the mutual idea of having a long-distance date this Valentine’s Day. Two average internet connections and two takeaway salmon and avocado (poor guy doesn’t even like either) sushi boxes later, we managed to pull it off on my lunch break (his dinner). And it was so lovely and he looked so handsome and I will always remember it. But you must know (and I want to vent about it) that our long-distance relationship isn’t always idyllic. Like, I really dislike only getting to hear of the parts of his life he deems significant enough to tap out over Messenger. I want to know ALL of the details and especially the so-called insignificants…
Though I must say, it is rather romantic knowing someone on the other side of the world is picturing your face every night before falling asleep in bed. image-png-30image-1-png-4image-png-29image-png-32image-png-34image-png-31image-png-33
Let us have love and more love; a love that melts all opposition, a love that conquers all foes, a love that sweeps away all barriers, a love that aboundeth in charity, a large-heartedness, tolerance, forgiveness and noble striving, a love that triumphs over all obstacles. ~Abdu’l-Bahá

Be Patient Towards All That Is Unsolved In Your Heart. Learn To Love the Questions Themselves.

I’ve had some pretty memorable Valentine’s Days. For my very first V day, I received a giant Winnie The Pooh from my very first boyfriend. I was 12. When we broke up, three months into the relationship (lol), I gifted Winnie to my best-friend’s sister. Almost a year later, when I felt my teenage heart had finally recovered, I desperately wanted the giant Pooh back. He was so big, so expensive but I didn’t have the nerve to ask my best-friend nor her sister.

For the next 5 Valentine’s Days, I received a single red rose from a “secret” admirer. On the 5th year, I caught my dad placing a red rose on our front door step. What a dude! I was both angry and appreciative.

Then there were the two Valentine’s Day’s with my ex – I guess he was my first “real” boyfriend because I actually loved him. Both years I posted pictures of his flowers and his red velvet boxed chocolates on my social media pages. I was so in love! I was the luckiest girl eva! That is until I wasn’t. The next couple V day’s I struggled seeing my friends’ flowers, chocolates, bracelets and other puke-inducing surprises. Bunch of F’in bullshit, I said. So I wrote a blogpost about it. I talked about the destructive affects of our Facebook and Instagram pages and how we all know that our friends only post their happy creme de la creme moments – we know this because we do the exact same – but even with this knowledge, we can’t help but to compare our lives to theirs. I questioned why we as a society feel the urge to publicise our significant others’ romantic gesture.  As if these precious occasions, these special moments would lose their significance if they are not “shared”. I ended my rant with the realisation that it should really be the opposite. That our rarest, most unique and intimate moments should be unpublished. Solely reserved to be shared (as in real life shared not FB shared) and treasured between us and our significant other.

Four months later, I was introduced to the love of my life on the internet. We were/still are messaging every day (but I’ve finally met him, he’s not an imaginary friend!). Soroosh had become a fan of my blog and a frequent commenter. One day he asked me if I’ve ever experienced a unique moment that I haven’t documented? One that I’ve kept sacred just for my self. It got me thinking. It reminded me of that post I wrote on V day. Who was this guy with the profound questions? So I set out on a mission, I went for a walk without my camera and then I wrote THIS. Seven months later, he continues to inspire my day to day. So, before I get too soppy and start contradicting myself, I just want to say that love and happiness or whatever it is your heart desires, is out there. We just gotta be a little more patient. We ought to learn to love the questions themselves. It’ll happen.
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Speaking of lurve, it was my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary the other day. Speaking of anniversary’s, on Sunday I sold ice-cream to a lady on her 50th wedding anniversary day. She said she and her husband married at 17. “What’s your secret?” I asked. She said, deep breaths!
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This gorgeous butterfly is my Valentine’s Day present for this year. I’m not bragging about it because I don’t even have it yet. Soroosh is going to safely transport it with him when he moves to NZ. It is a dried Peruvian butterfly in a simple frame. I think the wings look like different galaxies in space.
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Another note on singledom, I remember complaining to my sister, pre-Soroosh stage when she said, you shouldn’t reserve your love for one person. Why don’t you show all this love you talk about to your family and friends instead? So I had a lovely picnic with my mother yesterday. We drank coffee, we read and we ate cake. All in our tiny backyard, too. The chocolate and raspberry mousse cake is from Le Panier.
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“I am all the time thinking about poetry and fiction and you.” (Virginia Woolf) Yes, you!

The Best Ice-cream in Christchurch!

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Mandy’s baby: roasted plum (from their garden) and cinnamon oat crumble. image-1image-1
Belgium milk chocolate and marshmallow.
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Dark chocolate and sea-salt sorbet. Vegan and delishasssss!
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Coconut and black sesame seed. It’s vegan everybody! And my new favorite. Life is so sweet.
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I was so good you guys! Just look at these teeny tiny scoops. Plus, I think me eating the ice-cream is great advertisement, don’t you think? Here we have three vegan coconut-cream based ice-creams: coconut, blueberry and vanilla, coconut and dark chocolate, and coconut and black sesame seed. Send help!

Christchurch Night Noodle Market

Last night I went to the CHCH night noodle market with my momma and later, my sister and brother-in-law joined us. Being CHCH, I also bumped into one, two, three friends. I had fun. In all honestly, the food was average (yeah, yeah food snob) but the ambience was great! I absolutely love CHCH in the summer. The market is on until Sunday, prices range from $5 to $15, and you can find more information HERE.

Speaking of noodles/Asian food, pretty please with a quail egg on top check out my new Savvy Tokyo article, 8 Japanese Films for Foodies HERE.
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So I asked for two chicken and one eggplant/tofu BAO but I got given a duck instead. Now tell me, since I’m not a BAO enthusiast, is the bread supposed to taste like cake (it was super sweet)? Looked better than it tasted (oh no she didn’t!). image-1
These however were real good. Maybe a little dare but I think totally worth it. Not too sweet, very natural tasting and chic, too! Double win.
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Yummy but served warm/cold. More on the cold side. But tasty regardless. As you can see, I did my best to abuse the DIY topping station. In all fairness, the dumplings were generously filled to the brim with plump shrimp and prawn. image
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Mama says: peace!

Ask Yourself Kindly: What Do You Need?

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I have started doing things a little differently and so far my tummy feels very light and happy. If you’ve talked to me about my eating habits, you’ll know that I don’t like to label them. This is because I personally find living life, gladdening hearts, and making memories just as important as saving the planet and being healthy. What I’m trying to say is, if my new Japanese friend invites me over with utmost glee and sits me down with a big plate of lovingly homemade pork yakitori, well, I’m not going to break her heart and request broccoli. Anyways, I have finally started listening to the digestion experts by eating fruit first thing, on an empty stomach, in the morning. This has something to do with fruit often “rotting” in the stomach and thus causing poor-digestion and stomach-bloating. So, I eat my little bowl of fruit… I wait 15 to 20 minutes then I eat my muesli. Now, to complicate things even further… I’ve gone gluten-free. Of course, becoming gluten-free isn’t for everybody but as I said, so far, my tummy feels very light and happy. Surprisingly, it’s been very easy. Almost everywhere have gluten-free options and at home, all I’ve had to change is my bread and muesli. Bread I bought from the supermarket – super easy. And muesli, I swapped the oats in my homemade recipe to buckwheat puffs. So I dry toast nuts, seeds, honey, coconut oil and cinnamon in a frying pan and once cool, mix with dried fruit and buckwheat puffs (basically popcorn for breakfast – can’t complain). Next I want to try quinoa puffs and buckwheat groats. I will keep you updated anyhow. image-1
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While you work from an office… (hehe).image-5
Vanilla bean and gooseberries with rye crumble, blueberry, Greek yoghurt and mint and cherry, plum and Earl Grey, strawberry and rhubarb, coconut and passionfruit, coconut and dark chocolate. Mandy you a Genius! #UtopiaIce
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Sea salt caramel and popcorn ice-cream. Heaven is real and it comes in a tub. Save me.
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Easy snack idea for the 19 Day Bahai Feast – though I had trouble sticking the feta through the bamboo sticks without them falling apart so my momma suggested I end with the feta by simply pricking it a teeny tiny bit only. image-3
Physical feasting on snacks generously brought by friends after some serious soul-food! In the words of Abdu’l-Bahá, “My heart is in a constant state of thanksgiving.”

Dwell In Possibility

Two years ago, after finishing University, I decided to start a blog. The idea was given to me by over 10 friends! These friends I believe were simply tired of my Facebook spamming. Also, I knew it was important to have an outlet to continue my writing and a platform to build a writing portfolio. So, here we are.

In addition to gaining many supportive followers (you know who you are ) who continue to love and encourage me day by day (often sending me private emails with links, videos and/or career advice), some other pretty magical things have occurred:

1. Two different media companies, after seeing my blog asked me to write for them (finally, paid writing gigs!).
2. I met Laura – a follower from Belgium who stayed with me in Japan and later I stayed with in Belgium. I want to tell you that when I explained my anxieties to my mother of letting a stranger into my home, my mother encouraged me to let go of my fear. How incredible is that? How incredible is she? Of course, I stalked the heck out of Laura’s blog and her Social Media pages before she came but still, I had no idea if she would be sane! Today, Laura is one of my bestestestest friends!
3. I met Lavanya – a follower from Switzerland. I stayed with Lavanya and her partner during my Europe trip. She was and still is, a huge inspiration. Seriously, it was as if God sent me these two angels (Laura and Lavanya) when I most needed them.
4.Yesterday I received an email from Victoria. Victoria is a Bahai from Canada. She is an RHN (registered holistic nutritionist) and has been offering eCourses for three years. She has just launched four new whole food, plant-based eCourses and has asked for my help in promoting them. If you’ve ever struggled with weight-loss, maintaining a healthy diet or you’re just curious about vegan and gluten-free food, I highly 110% recommend you check out Victoria’s resources. HERE is the link for her main website. And HERE is the link for the eCourses. I know how hard it is to publicise your passion but as my friend Kyle once told me, if you keep doing what you love, eventually people will notice.
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This Is How You Get Unstuck: You Reach.

image-3“You are the finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful person I have ever known—and even that is an understatement.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald) Friends, I find nothing more romantic than these letters. I could easily quote these lovers for the remainder of this post but I’ll resist. A side note: often when I take such photos of my breakfast and things on this decaying picnic table in our backyard, my tootsies make an appearance forcing me to impatiently start over, this time standing in the most awkwardly unnatural position so as to hide them. image-9
Speaking of F. Scott and Zelda, four months ago, I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Hotel Belle Rives where the couple stayed in the year 1925. Unable to speak French and unaware of Antibes’ transportation systems, I decided to walk there from my accommodation. An hour later, I arrived sweaty and in my gym gear. To my surprise, I was welcomed by the gentleman porter with such hospitality as if I were Zelda herself!  This left me speechless. In a dream-like state, I walked around the bar, snapped a couple pictures and vowed to return again before my stay in Antibes was over.
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Once back at my accommodation, I emailed the General Manager, expressing my gratitude to the incredibly hospitable porter. He, Lucas, replied by inviting me and a friend back for coffee, croissants and a private tour of the establishment. I don’t know if it was the ambience or what, but here Anita’s mom and I drank the best coffee we’ve ever drank ever.
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The photo above and the photo below are of the views from the hotel’s best room (unbelievably dare in the summer). Lovely Lucas said I could honeymoon there on mate’s rates. I wonder if he’d also cover my plane ticket? (hehe).
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Back to reality (below) which is pretty darn good with no room for complaints: I helped and will continue to help for the long weekend, my beautiful friend Mandy sell her handmade ice-cream and sorbets. It was a dream job and nothing less.
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Some beetroot salad and avocado before eating sorry I mean selling ice-cream. image-4
“All these soft, warm nights going to waste when I ought to be lying in your arms under the moon – the dearest arms in all the world – darling arms that I love so to feel around me – How much longer – before they’ll be there to stay? When I get home again, you’ll certainly have a most awful time ever moving me one inch from you -”
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Sea salt caramel and popcorn, vanilla bean, blueberry, mint, Greek yoghurt and cherry compote, peach and lemon sorbet (vegan), rhubarb and strawberry sorbet (vegan), coconut keffir raspberry (vegan), coconut and dark chocolate (vegan). image-5
Bliss.#UtopiaIce

Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors

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Tried this before? Coconut yoghurt with turmeric and mango. It has been surprisingly hot. I have been enjoying eating outside in the sun and in the space of a few days, I have gone from no job, well 1/2 job (freelancing for Savvy Tokyo) to 2 and 1/2 jobs. The first is to do with the education of 5-10 year olds. That’s pretty much all I can say without breaching privacy rules. And the second is serving delicious homemade organic gelato, vegan sorbets, and coconut ice-cream for the freakishly talented Utopia Ice. Hashtag life-as-a-wannabe-writer.
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Plum and earl grey. Yes, earl grey! CHCH friends, you know where to get your ice-cream fix this ice-cream-weather long weekend ;)
image-1FINISHED. This one is my favourite (so far). I really related to Heidi. She, a real writer, me, a wannabe writer – let’s just say reading it, I had numerous: “for real? ME too!” moments.
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Today my mom, my sister and I (dad, God bless him, was working as usual) had a Persian breakfast for lunch. Persians eat bread and feta cheese (here sprinkled with cumin powder) with vegetables like cucumber and tomato (the avocado is a personal addition) with herbs and nuts. And sometimes watermelon makes an appearance, too. Washed down with black cardamom tea. Until the age of seven, all I knew of breakfast was the Persian kind. When we arrived in NZ, I was introduced to cereal for the first time. Also sliced bread. We never had that in Iran. Our bread was huge and round and I had to line up for it with my mom. It would come out of a large round oven filled with little stones. Sometimes, if we were lucky (or so I thought back then) our bread would have one of these stones attached to it. This was my childhood. Walking down the street on my tippy toes, scanning the bread my mother held for lucky stones.

Figure Out Who You Are Then Do It On Purpose

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See! We and Prince of Persia really DO share the same tablecloth! PS if there’s one advice I can give for making perfect pancakes, it is using a non-stick crepe maker. THIS one in specific. It has been and continues to be, my most prized possession – after the yellow rose Soroosh gave me on our first date. image-5
My dear friend and follower, Randy yesterday commented to say she misses Akiko, Lifa and Ozzy. Well, lookie here! Look who is thinking of me! Thanks guys, my heart is bursting.
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The Origin (95 Westminster Street) is a new entirely vegan CHCH eatery. And, it is hands-down, nothing short of amazing! The food and the coffee, oh my. You’ve been warned. I can’t wait to go again. In fact, I’m gonna go today. image-6
image-1-1Bet you’ve never taken a #muffinselfie. Or have you?
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Oopsie. Must use bigger oven. Of course, my mother told me off for this. I did not try to argue that it was her who suggested and by suggested I mean forced me to use the toaster oven for my baking experiments in hope of using less electricity in the first place.
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Combine the following in a large mixing bowl, 3 free-range eggs, 1/4 cup runny honey, 1/2 cup natural yoghurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 ripe banana, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. Mix well, then gently sift in 1 cup buckwheat flour, 1 cup almond meal, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp baking soda, a large handful of chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, then mix thoroughly. Drop the mixture in to 12 greased muffin tins. Bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes or, until an inserted fork inserted comes out clean. Yummy yummy.