Friday, 31 January 2014
As I was doing my usual 30 minute power walk to the station this morning, a woman ran up behind me. ‘Look at the rainbow! Look!’ In front of me was a huge rainbow. And I hadn’t even noticed! She rushed off and I stopped to take a picture. And then I noticed the sky turning golden and when I looked behind me, a big red sun was just beginning to creep up amongst the trees. It was completely breathtaking and I don’t think I would have noticed either if it hadn’t been for the brief distraction of a fellow commuter. So, this weekend, I promise to slow down and take the time to appreciate how beautiful the ordinary, and the extraordinary, can be.

A few links for your Friday:
2014 is the year I solemnly swear to scrap the ‘but’
A warming cake for winter months
A beautiful ‘Day in the Life’
Dreaming of new places to explore this summer
Grateful for the man next to me on the train who smelled like my favourite candle


Thursday, 30 January 2014
Tomorrow marks the start of the Chinese Year of the Horse, a symbol of strength and integrity. For me, celebrating two New Year's Eves (my mum is Chinese) is like getting two fresh starts. Traditionally, we have a dinner on the eve of the new year - my family and I will be eating lobster noodles, an auspicious meal to mark the occasion. The lobster symbolises wealth and prosperity, literally, as they are expensive and figuratively, as they turn bright red once cooked, while the length of the noodles is a sign of longevity. In preparation, I've cleaned my house from top to bottom and we've planned another special meal with extended family on Sunday.

What the Chinese say about people born in the year of the horse
5 Chinese New Year traditions everyone can benefit from
The surprising meanings behind Chinese New Year dishes
Historical snapshots of the Los Angeles lion dance parade


Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Laying off the heat styling has done wonders for the condition of my hair, but I know it’s not realistic to never use straighteners or curling irons again. About a month ago, I discovered a simple trick to make my hair smoother without weighing it down with product and I thought I’d share.  
I’ve always rinsed my hair with cold water as it’s supposed to smooth the hair shaft and seal the follicles for a shinier finish, but the extra discomfort was immediately counteracted as soon as I started towel drying my hair. Rough drying rubs the hair follicle back up the wrong way and can leave hair looking a little lacklustre and feeling dry. Now, I dry my hair in two motions: patting and smoothing the top of my head with a soft towel and then gently squeezing the ends to eke out excess moisture. It seems like such a small change, but since I’ve started doing it, I’ve been reaching for the straighteners less and less. {top, bottom}

FRUGAL RECIPE: pork belly & rice

Monday, 27 January 2014
January has been one very long month, so this weekend I implemented a 'no spend' rule to get me through until payday (tomorrow, hallelujah!). I made a few meals from store cupboard staples and some odds and ends from the freezer, and managed to come up with some pretty tasty results, which got me thinking about posting some frugal recipes towards the end of the month: this month, my frugal Chinese barbeque pork belly and rice. Pork belly is a cheap cut of meat, particularly in slices like this rather than sold as a joint, and these three leftover 'rashers' we had lurking in the freezer ended up making quite a hearty meal (although a couple more rashers wouldn't have gone amiss!).

I marinated the pork in a tablespoon each of soy and honey, a pinch of Chinese five spice, one grated clove of garlic and a nub of ginger for a few hours before roasting in the oven for 150C under foil. My sauce was already thick and syrupy, but if yours isn't, just remove the foil and keep an eye on it as it ticks away for a little longer.

I served it with steamed white rice and spicy Romaine lettuce - gently boil until just wilted and toss in a little chilli oil.

Total cost: £2.30 for 2


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Instead of making New Year's resolutions, I like taking January to mull over the things I want to accomplish throughout the year. Having a list of goals ready and waiting for me on the 1st of January doesn't work for me, as I like to spend the end of the year celebrating the holidays with family and friends. The first few days of the year I reflect on the things that I want, and this year I took the time to make a 1 year, 3 year and 5 year plan for myself, with finite goals that are achievable and tangible. Thinking about 2019 already makes me feel a little weird, but also empowered. It places more focus on the things I want to get done this year, and gives me more determination to fulfil them so I can check off (and add!) to the list.

With that in mind, I think my word for 2014 is LEARN. I want to grow professionally and personally, which is what got me thinking about the idea of 'investing' in myself. I'm planning to dip into my savings fund to take a few courses this year and I've already bought myself a computer so I can get down to some serious business. Literally, I'll be investing money in myself, but also time - time to do unpaid freelance work to enhance my portfolio, time to work on personal pursuits (perfecting the perfect three course dinner party menu, anyone?) and time to spend on meaningful quality time with my boyfriend, to make 2014 our best year yet.

I hope you'll follow along as I blog about the things I discover this year in my pursuit of 'the good life'. I can't wait to share everything I learn along the way.

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