My Reverse Bucketlist

Thursday, 31 March 2016

I think crossing something off your bucketlist has to be one of the best feelings ever. I've been lucky enough to experience some amazing things in my short twenty-four years, and I couldn't be more grateful that I got to do them. I made this bucketlist book a couple years back using pictures I found on Tumblr and it's so fun having something visual to look at. I highly recommend making one! 
I don't come from a rich family, but we are very good at making plans happen. We always book well ahead and tick things off one at a time. We have another trip planned for August this year, so I get to tick a few more off my list (Disneyland!)

Swim with dolphins
This was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. My Mum wanted to do it for her 56th birthday and we couldn't have had a better way to celebrate whilst on holiday in Hawaii. I was absolutely terrified of being out in the ocean, but it was fear that I managed to conquer. After a practice swim we encountered a couple of pods. I saw the guide point behind me where about five dolphins were just happily gliding along. Some of the came within 8ft of me, which was incredible. By the end of the day I was diving down with no life jacket on and I really didn't want to get back on the boat! Would do it again in a heartbeat.

Visit New York

Sitting on the train from Boston and seeing the NYC skyline appear was one of those moments where I just had to sit back and take it in. If arriving in one of the most famous cities in the world wasn't enough, as we walked out of the train station I looked to my right and immediately saw the Empire State Building. Being in that city was pretty surreal and probably one of the most interesting travel experiences I've ever had.
We had to do all of the touristy stuff like walk Central Park (beautiful and huge!), visit Ground Zero, go up the Empire State Building (over-hyped) and climbed to the crown of the Statue of Liberty (terrifying but so worth it!) Time's Square was a favorite of mine, despite how frantic it is. It just reminded me of how alive the city is, and of course the giant Disney store was heaven. I can also confirm that New York pizza is delicious indeed!

 It actually took me a little while to get used to being there. For someone from a city with no skyscrapers left, it was A LOT to take in. It was only after we left that I appreciated it's charm and now I'm dying to go back (possibly next year!)

Run a half-marathon 
This is a fitness goal that I shared with my Mum and we achieved it a lot earlier than we both thought. It took me ages to be able to run 5km, but you would be surprised how far your legs can take you when you keep a slow and steady pace. A couple years back we walked a 10km event and realized it wasn't much of a challenge any more, so we promised ourselves that we would enter the half marathon the next year. And we did it! My Mum was running by then too and so we ran the whole thing. It was the most satisfying feeling when we finally saw the finish line and my Mum actually hugged me (something she doesn't do often, she's not a touchy person.)
We are planning on doing two more this year and oddly enough, I'm actually looking forward to them!

Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
This definitely came from watching so many episodes of Full House. It's one thing to see the bridge from a distance, but to be up close when you're walking is another experience itself. You can really appreciate it's construction, as well as get an amazing view of the city.
My poor brother was quite ill the day the we went and he doesn't remember being all too conscious for it. It was also a very hot day, but that made the harbor look even more beautiful to me!

Go to a Taylor Swift concert
Every girl's dream, right? After I missed her first concert, she came back to New Zealand at the end of 2014 and I jumped at the chance to see her. I went with one of my university friends and we had a lot of fun. Taylor is a great performer and so much effort goes into making it enjoyable for everyone. Still in awe of her long legs (for reals though.)

Visit the Avengers Assemble spot
 Y'all know I love my superheroes, so of course I was dying to find this spot in front of Grand Central Station. It was one of those moments where your brain has to register that what you're seeing is real (that happened a lot in NYC actually) It was a bit tricky trying to get a photo and I had to dart out in front of traffic to get it, but it was totally worth it. The skyline could really use Stark tower, just saying.

Walk the Washington monuments
 I could happily live in DC, it's such a chilled place with so much to explore. Not gonna lie, I wanted to visit the monuments from seeing them in various movies, mainly Captain America: Winter Soldier. We pretty much spent the whole day wandering around the different memorials that are lined up the mall strip. I'm a bit of a nerd for architecture, so it was heaven for me to finally get up close with all of the buildings. On our last day we walked along the mall at sunset and it was one of those moments I will never forget.
Pro tip: If you want a closer look at the White House, go to the back entrance. It's a lot closer!

Feel confident in a bikini
One of the many great things about Hawaii, is that almost everyone is on holiday and no one really cares about how you look. You can be barefoot and covered in sand whilst ordering food at McDonald's (true story) and no one bats an eyelid. Since I've been working out/running I've definitely been a lot more confident with my body and I don't get all that self-conscious of it anymore. Life is a lot more fun when you don't care what people think of you. Trust me!

See the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park
I'm not really sure why, but I have this weird connection with the story of Alice. It's just one of those tales that stays with you for some reason. The day we visited Central Park I was on a mission to find this statue and I'm really glad we did because it was huge! There were even children climbing on it like a playground. When I'm rich I am totally putting one in my garden. 

Visit Pearl Harbor 
When I was about twelve, my best friend and I became obsessed with the movie about Pearl Harbor and ever since I have been determined to visit myself. I was really impressed with how the whole memorial is set up there and they really make it quite a moving experience for everyone.
At the Arizona memorial site everyone was quiet and you could see oil in the water from where it's still leaking from the ship below. The airfield was really interesting as well, especially because there are still bullet holes in the hanger windows from Japanese planes. I was geeking out about the tower where they filmed the movie too!

There we go! Those are some of the big bucketlist items I've managed to tick off. I still have a long list, but you've always got to dream big and make plans. That's what keeps life interesting, right?

What's at the top of your bucketlist?
Steph x.

March Instagram Roundup

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Hello Everyone
Wow March just flew by! I hope you all had a great month. Not sure how I feel about my Instagram feed this month, but I will aim to do even better in April! I got brave and posted a few selfies since I have decided to update you more on how my fitness progress is going. I also started using a new editing app called Photogene, which is amazing for brightening up photos.

In other good news, I hit 300 Instagram followers this month! It made me so happy. A big thank you to everyone who follows me : )

Get ready for more pictures of food, books and coffee in April! 
You can find me on Instagram here

Leave me your Instagram links in the comments and I will check them out!
Steph x.

My Daily Happiness Journal

Sunday, 27 March 2016

I stumbled upon this cute little journal when I was out shopping the other day and the single word "happiness" sparked an idea. Why not write down positive thoughts during my day to day life and look back on it in times where I need a bit of positivity. I know this is hardly an original idea, but for someone who loves to write out my thoughts and lists, it could be something that really helps on those bad days. And you all know how much I love starting a new journal!

I've been carrying it around with me and writing down any little thought that I might want to look back on later. Basically anything that made me smile that day or gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.The journal I got is such a perfect size too, so I can easily slip it into my bag and write something quickly if I need to.

I found that since I started this journal, I began trying to find positive things that I would normally ignore or just brush off. I'm someone who can find a silver lining in almost anything and it's a great mood enhancer when you need it. I love flicking through the pages I have already filled in and seeing what made me happy that day. It also helps in clearing my mind, as all journals are great for, and I know I'm not going to forget anything.

Grab a journal and start writing down happy thoughts that come to you, no matter how small. 
I'm gonna make it a personal goal to fill my journal as fast as I can, and write in it everyday.

 It's so important to take the time to slow down and appreciate the little joys in life, especially when it all gets a bit hectic. Never forget the things that make you smile!

 Ideas for happy thoughts to write down: 

Quotes you find
Something funny that happened
A nice dream you had
Highlights from your day
Good deeds
Relaxing moments
New things you have tried and loved
Goals achieved
Something that made you feel confident
Do something you're scared of and write about your experience
Exciting news
What do you think of this idea? Let me know in the comments!
Steph x.

Easy Easter Cupcakes!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Now I know I'm usually a total health freak, but I am human so I do indulge in a treat now and then. It's not exactly something you can avoid at Easter time and I was really in the mood to do some baking for my family. These are really simple and fun to make, perfect for chilling over the long weekend!

I haven't made cupcakes in a while and was starting to really crave them. I've used this recipe for Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes so many times because it's the best I've ever found. The credit goes to Glory for spending so long experimenting to find the right mix so the rest of us don't have too (bless her!) Her blog is full of amazing treats if you want to go have a look, although it always gives me the biggest sugar craving!

For 15-16 cupcakes, you will need: 

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- add acid to the milk then set aside for 5 minutes before using)

Here's what to do: 

Preheat your oven to 175*C

Line muffin tins with paper cases. 

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together with a whisk and set aside.

In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs for 10-20 seconds. Add the sugar and continue beating for 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and oil, beat again.

Reduce mixer to a lower speed, slowly add half of the flour mixture. Add half of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour, and then the other half of the milk. Beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and combine any remaining mix. The batter will be thin.

Pour the mix into the prepared muffin tins and fill them 2/3 full.

Bake for 12-14 minutes

Cool for 2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Make sure to wait until your cupcakes have completely cooled before icing them!

Now comes the fun part of making these puppies look cute.

I used the American buttercream icing recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Tea with Bea. I've used it again and again to get the perfect icing for whatever I'm making. I actually only made half of the mixture since it's set for 24 cupcakes.

175g butter, cut into cubes and softened
3 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional, makes the mixture whiter!)

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon.

Spoon into a piping bag and cut off the corner. Pipe the icing in a spiral on top of the cupcakes.

For the toppings, I crumbled some Cadbury Flake on top and then placed a couple of mini-eggs in the middle.

And you're done!

 How cute are these? I love how they turned out and my family were really impressed too. You could easily do a chocolate version of this instead of the vanilla if you wanted an extra fix this weekend.

I hope you all have a great Easter holiday!

What Easter treats are your favorite?
Steph x.