Quick Recipe: Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls (Student Version)

Our flat splits the cooking roster which means three nights a week I eat pasta and take aways, three nights I eat substantial and delicious meals and the last night I am burdened with trying to match my flatmates expert cooking.

Food is not my forté. Flavours are and eating definitely are – but the actual planning and preparing and making of meals is less a labour of love and more just brute labour. Nevertheless a food roster is a food roster and on my night I had to cook. Here is the very shorthand recipe (like not an actual recipe you should use, but exactly what I did improv and all) of what I made:

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls + Baked Tofu
(Total Price: $25.20 (20c over budget but I bought too many carrots so could be cheaper)
Feeds Four

Ingredients:

Rolls:
Two Carrots
Half a Cabbage
Bag of Spinach
6 Cloves of Garlic
1 Thumb of Ginger
Sliced Almonds
Sliced Coconut Flakes
One Packet of Rice Paper

Tofu:
2 packets or so of Tofu
A bit of Flour
Cayenne Pepper lmao

Dressing (all to taste, and disclaimer that these were not included in the budget because I owned them already):
Light Soy
Dark Soy
Sweet Chilli
Actual Chilli
Rice Vinegar
Lime Juice

Method:

Tofu:
1. Drain Tofu of liquid and try and get rid of as much of the excess liquid as possible. I squeezed it, cut it into cubes and squeezed and then in the end placed my toy  half of a clean tea towel on top of my chopping board, folded up the other half of the tea towel over it and placed another chopping board on top in a kind of sandwich and then left it like that for a while (as long as possible but at least 10 mins).

2.Put tofu into a dish and then spoon in some flour (as much as needed to cover) and toss around.

3.Chuck in oven for about 25 minutes and laugh because what a bad side dish. Ideally the tofu will be crispy but mire realistically it will just be cooked. I panicked and put cayenne pepper on mine to add flavour but it was spicy so I don’t know if I would recommend.

Rolls:

1. Finely grate your carrots and chop your spinach and cabbage – combine in large bowl.

2. Lightly fry sliced garlic cloves, slices ginger, coconut and almond slivers in sesame oil (or whatever oil you have I actually used rice bran) until toasty and golden – add to bowl.

3. Cook Vermicelli noodles – I usually cover with boiled water from a jug for 3 or four minutes or until cooked to consistency – add to bowl.

4. Mix ingredients!!!

5. Make rolls! Set up a station with your mixture bowl, a clean chopping board, a large mixing bowl of warm water  and a tray covered in baking powder. To make the rolls submerge a rice paper sheet in your bowl of warm water until its soft and clear and then place on chopping board.
Put a handful of mixture in the middle and fold up the bottom of the circle to cover it, fold in both sides and then roll. These instructions are confusing so I took some clumsy photos.
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6. Once rolled place on baking tray. You are done!!

Dip:

1. Legitimately just add a bit of everything and see what you like – its a bit touch and go but i don’t have a set recipe, I just make to taste and likely with all delicious ingredients it will turn out ok!

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If I was a better blogger I would have taken photos on the night I cooked instead of the next day when I used my leftover mixture to make some extra rolls! Obviously this dinner is a budget version of a really beautiful and delicious dish but also for a student budget it tastes good and lasts ages – I made about 25 rolls for us four for dinner and had leftovers to last for a long time. It is also fresh and healthy to give a good break from all the normal bread and cheese in our diets so would recommend.

New month! I couldn’t be more pleased – though still in a bit of shock at daylight savings ending!

Much love xx

HAPPY TWO YEARS AUCKLAND

IMG_0542.jpgI have a photo of me leaving home Wellington. I was a toothy braces smile with a messy ponytail and bubble gum pink backpack, my mum peeking at the camera from behind my shoulder. I remember how warm that day was; squeezing my cat into one last hug; being so excited to go. I was hungover from the sweetness of my summer, head still reeling from the ending of all of it. I was so ready for something new. So we piled up the car with all my things and we drove.
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And well two years later here I am.

I am writing this to you from the same pretty, creamy room that I wrote from a year ago, now with more scented candles and walls decorated with photos that didn’t even exist back then. There are so many memories and people documented who I didn’t know back then and now I can’t imagine living without them. They’re like an extra limb I didn’t want but now I need.
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Two years though!

God I can’t believe it. I know that years go fast and two of them are pretty insignificant in the grand scheme – but I don’t know how much grandeur there is to life really. If you think about who you were at 14 and at 16, two years is immense, or even the difference between 16 and 18. Inconsequential but also incredible. When you consider that your whole life can change in one conversation or with one action in a single moment, two years becomes a small lifetime.
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And I have loved my small lifetime up here. Hated it bitterly, cried over it, regretted it hard – but also loved it. Which makes everybody laugh I think because I used to complain so much and now, very suddenly, things are different.

Auckland is still huge to me and the wider areas of the map in my head are blurry, but the centre is in clear focus. Even slicked with rain my feet can navigate these city streets with surprising confidence. I know how to wave down my bus, the quickest paths through the city and where to find a half decent cup of coffee. I am used to the temperamental weather and the disaster foot traffic and I know the things that matter here. I have stumbled so many times but I am finding my way. Little triumphs every day.
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Also I’m twenty now! Like how did that happen?

I pay bills! I have jobs! Three of them?! I send proper emails that end with acceptable salutations. I own high heels! I can see through my eyes! I have made it to third year uni???? How???? What??? When??? I even make my own doctors’ appointments., what a champ.

Sometimes I think I am still seventeen but I also take my own life for granted I think. I couldn’t be here, doing everything I do when I was seventeen and this post is ridiculous I know, but hey some things never change. I still don’t know how to pay tax properly and set 600 alarms and have a cow patterned dressing gown. I still managed to permanently delete the three posts I had written so had to chuck this together in approx. 20 minutes which is not my dream writing style. I am still very much myself. Just an older one. A not-seventeen one.
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The thing with life is that nobody lives it for you. I could tell you everything about these last two years and you could not be blamed for thinking that nothing much of significance has really happened to me. But you didn’t live it the way that I did.

What a heart achingly blissful two years.
What a weird two years.
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I am currently a bit overwhelmed by it all and honestly I have no actual idea who I am at the moment (hence the lack of posts). But I do know that I am still here, I am still at my jobs and at the gym and at meetings and events and I am with my friends and I am at home and I am everywhere I should be and that counts for something.

I also know that even though I am #1 shittiest blogger already I want to take a moment out from my constant existential crisis to document this anniversary because I am so proud.
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Who would’ve known that smiley braces girl – a big fish in her small pond high school – could find a way to swim as far into the deep water as I have and still find things and people that matter. The ocean may not be shrinking but I am growing – into what?
I have no clue. But into something for sure.

Good luck to everyone moving to new places for uni at the moment. Be brave and funny and loud and alive and sleepy and unapologetic and yourself. Have fun out there!

All my love  xx

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NEW YEARS EVE, WE MADE IT!!: BLOGNY 2016

holy SHIT WE MADE IT.

366 days of 2016, all accounted for.
69 posts. 5,622 views and 545 likes from over 50 countries, and then this! 25 posts in 25 days. It’s been so much fun, I can’t thank you all enough.

At the end of every year, as well as choosing 3 or so resolutions, I write an overview of my year and ask the divine spirits and my future self for something.

2014 ended and I reflected that it had been the best and the brightest. I was on fire, I was brilliant – but I was exhausted and empty. I thanked the year for setting me alight but also recognised that I had well and truly emotionally burnt out.
At the start of 2015 I asked for love.

2015 I learnt to love myself again and I also learnt to love someone else and, miraculously what it was like to be loved back. It was a giddy and unbelivable year. But like most fragile and perfect things it inevitably broke. I was so grateful for it but it also shattered me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I needed to heal and I needed to be better.
2016 I wanted success.

2016 was tough but I was tougher. I studied harder than I have before and my grades went up. I joined clubs, I signed up for volunteering, I got new jobs at more grown up places. I started saving money, I started this blog?!?!  And slowly but surely I pulled my life out of a downwards plummet into a whole different trajectory. I think this year will always taste bitter on my tongue but I am still proud of it. I fought fucking hard to make every personal sacrifice I had to make last year worth it – and I did. It was the hardest most hollow thing I have ever done; fighting for something that I wish I could have given up on. But I did it and no matter what else went wrong – in 2016 I know I went right.

So, 2017 I think I will ask for adventure and the bravery to take it. The seeds that I planted this year are starting to take root, I have let go of so many things I didn’t know how to before now and I am free to live and let live – so bring on a rager of a year. Let’s have fun, let’s go hard and thanks to this mess of a blog let’s do it together.

It’s the end of the year and I know how to shine, I know how to love and importantly I think, these days I also know how to fight.
Most relevant for tonight though – I know how to dance!

so HAPPY NEW YEAR my babies.
You have made me so happy and I could not have done it without you.
Wishing you warmth, release and hope for 12am – and a little bit of craziness too.

Love from your girl,
Zar
xx

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Holiday Makeup Look: BLOGNY 2016

Ok let’s all be real I am no makeup expert – I love makeup and I watch my favourite beauty bloggers with awe and great appreciation but I do not have the skill to replicate. Still! Today I thought I would show you how I have done my face for Christmas Eve!!

This is a day look! It is in fact what I am wearing to work today so it is not super glitzy but it is a bit more sparkly than usual to celebrate how excited I am about Christmas. Continue reading “Holiday Makeup Look: BLOGNY 2016”

Morning Routine: BLOGNY 2016

Welcome to the not-that-anticipated sequel to my night time routine.

My day begins with my alarm. I am one of those people who sets about ten, which apparently is really bad for your sleep patterns & restfulness but I get a lot of genuine satisfaction out of getting woken up at 5am and realising that lo behold, i don’t actually have to be properly awake until 8.
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Flash forward to 8 and here is me frowning because as much as I appreciate getting up at a reasonable hour, I go to bed late and am absolutely not a morning person.
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Continue reading “Morning Routine: BLOGNY 2016”

My Laser Eye Surgery Experience: BLOGNY 2016

At the start of this month I had LASIK eye surgery to correct my vision and it was one of the most unbelievable and amazing things that I have ever done.

I have worn glasses since I was 10 and I hated them. My dislike was a super personal thing, I don’t think I have opinions on glasses in general, but I couldn’t stand wearing mine. It wasn’t the frames, it wasn’t anything I could change (I was too shit at putting in contacts for them to let me have them) I just didn’t like anything about having to wear them– so for the most part I didn’t.

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legit only picture i can currently find of me wearing my glasses. 

I spent a good amount of time walking around not being able to see. My eyesight wasn’t the worst – it was a lot shittier than most people realised but I could live without them so long as I wasn’t expected to read anything or see things in detail. For example I couldn’t see faces from a distance; I used to tell people a part by the way they moved rather than what they actually looked like. My friends and family adjusted to having to read above- counter menus for me and explain what was going on in the distance and life ticked on.

To be honest it was shit. I had no self-confidence with my glasses on but I needed them in class, at work and basically at all the places that I wanted to feel my best.I knew that there was a lot of people thought I was being purposefully rude whereas reality was I couldn’t see them to say hello. I kind of preferred to keep my head down rather than interact with a group who I couldn’t see clearly.There were a few days in school where I forgot to bring my glasses and subsequently spent the whole day sitting directly underneath the board trying to copy it down. It sucked – so safe to say this surgery was a game changer.

Nowadays I can see! I don’t need to carry my glasses case wherever I go, I don’t need to wear them anymore at work or the beach or whenever I want to see. I can actually appreciate the world and not feel an incessant lack of self-esteem! I love it, I love it, I love it. Continue reading “My Laser Eye Surgery Experience: BLOGNY 2016”

10 Things to Boost Your Mood: BLOGNY 2016

The last week of posts has been absolute shambles I am so sorry. Work is not a good enough excuse; tired is not a good enough excuse – all I can offer is that things are pretty rough at the moment. You know the mornings when you wake up and your chest is already aching inwards and it just feels like the day is over before it has begun? It hasn’t been all bad days but it’s been a long row of mornings.

The global stuff going down is also really getting to me. How can I write when yet again there are problems so big that are being ignored? What kind of international community do we have if there is a city filled with children being massacred and no one has the will or power to stop it? What is that?

Honestly 2016 is a mess. A leader won off hateful rhetoric, the person you thought you knew best feels like a stranger, the wind knocks everything off the walls, a friendship you gave your all to build is undone in one night, Brad and Angelina broke up, the UK left the EU.

On the days that it all gets to you I have compiled ten things that can boost your mood and cheer you up and get you back on your feet. Use them generously and use them well!!   Continue reading “10 Things to Boost Your Mood: BLOGNY 2016”

Christmas Gift Guide: BLOGNY 2016

*A note at the start to say that I don’t know a lot about the situation in Aleppo but I know enough to know that it’s tragic and terrifying and incomprehensibly inhumane. Christmas is about giving and there are people who need you. Please take the money you would have spent on an extra Christmas gift or treat and donate it to one of the many charities helping out over there. You can go without something to give these people a fraction of the help they deserve. There will never be enough to make up for what is happening BUT every little bit counts. Continue to spread awareness, continue to put your love and faith AND practical help with the people who need it xx.*
HOW TO SUPPORT THE ALEPPO: http://new.time.com/4602080/support-aleppo-victims/

Continue reading “Christmas Gift Guide: BLOGNY 2016”

My Favourite Decorations: BLOGNY 2016

As we all know, I love my flat.

The fifth negative of flatting with your friends is ringing really true right now: I miss them!! I am super excited (and honestly relieved) to announce we are doing a second year of flatting together. Friends can live together and not hate each other!! It is possible!!

I was struck by inspo to tidy up the lounge a bit today though and had a rush of warmth for the decorations (which sounds ridiculous, I know) – but there are so many things that we have put up on our walls over this year that have turned the small and weird space into somewhere that looks hilarious, but truly feels like home.

So I thought I would show you my five favourite lounge decorations- in case you are looking for ideas! And just so I can look back and laugh at how good it is. Continue reading “My Favourite Decorations: BLOGNY 2016”