Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pop up water lily card

I had a friend's birthday dinner tonight, and so because I love making people handmade cards, I definitely wanted to use this as an opportunity to do something new. 

I remember on one particular trip to Melbourne we came across a cart in the Melbourne Central shopping centre which sold a whole bunch of pop-up cards. Some of them were so detailed and creative and I've been wanting to make some of my own ever since. 

I did a bit of googling and found a nice template for a pop-up water lily card. You can actually buy some templates, but I'm super stingy and this water lily one was the nicest one I could find for free. The website that I found it from also gave good instructions. Find it here.

 My friend's dinner was so much fun. There was more food than any of our stomach could digest and dessert was a smorgasbord of sugar. There was vegan chocolate cake, fruits of the forrest cake, fruit and cream meringues, waffle bowls with fruit and cream, caramel nut tart, fresh fruit, cookies and cream ice cream and mango sorbet. 

This is the second party I've been to where my friend has made vegan food and cake especially for me to eat. I am so truly lucky to have such thoughtful friends. My friend even went to the trouble to borrow out a vegan cookbook from the library from which she found the chocolate cake recipe. I am so lucky to have such amazing friends. 

Nothing can wipe the smile off my face right now.  

This is the recipe book were my friend found the recipe for vegan chocolate mud cake!! It was delicious!!...and no, I couldn't believe it was vegan.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dad wisdom #3

My day was ridiculously busy today. I jumped from one thing to another with little time to plan and carry out my 'something new'. So today my something new will be to share some more of my dad's wisdom.

My dad and I used to do a lot of bonding in the car back when I was in first year of uni and still on my L plates. Some days when I'd wake up after a long night of minimal sleep due to my uni work load, he'd drive me while I slept.

One particular day, we were chatting again about how hard it was to get into med. My dad was doing his job of encouraging me to not give up and this is what he said to me:

During tough times people will sometimes say to you that "there will be a light at the end of the tunnel". Life can sometimes be that long and dark tunnel, but it may not always be a straight tunnel that you walk through. Life is like a tunnel that goes up and down with big twists and turns. When we're going through a difficult time and we're not seeing the end of the tunnel, it doesn't always necessarily mean that we're far away from it, sometimes, that light, that end of the tunnel is just around a sharp bend; but if we stop walking through that dark tunnel, then we'll never turn the corner and see the light.

Dad told me not to give up because I might actually be closer to reaching my goal than I thought. 

If all you see in front of you is dark, keep going because your light could be just around the corner.
Photo from here

So on another note, I did two new things yesterday. Not only did I make the vegan hot cross buns, but I also ran around the lake near my house without stopping for the first time. I dragged my brother along with me. He's only ever walked around the lake a few times, and this was his first attempt at running the whole way. 

The little champion is always full of surprises. It's taken me years to become fit enough (and to have the psychological motivation) to run the whole way, but for him he already had what it takes. There was one period of about 20 seconds where he got too tired and started walking because he was starting to feel sick (please don't think I'm a bad sister for pushing him so hard to the point of feeling sick!). However, when he started running again I told him that he didn't have to if he felt sick. He turned to me and said "No, I'll try". 

You could hear that determination in his voice.  I'm so proud of that boy.What a trooper! I hope he continues to keep on trying in all aspects of his life. I don't know what path he'll walk in his life, but I know for certain that I'll be there to guide and support him. And of course my dad will be there to share his wisdom. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Vegan hot cross buns (featuring some mum wisdom)

For all of you who didn't know, today is Good Friday :) It is a religious holiday in which we remember the crucifixion and death of Christ on the cross.

When I was much younger, Good Friday (and perhaps just Easter in general) was such a sad holiday. But I remember that all changed when my sister told me that we should be happy during the Easter period because even though it is sad that Jesus died, we should be grateful for the reason why he died. 

Jesus sacrificed himself and took on the sin of mankind so that we could rebuild that relationship between us and God. I don't know about you, but someone like Jesus deserves far more than just a few days of acknowledgment a year. I've gotten into the habit of bringing my thoughts to God and Christ as often as I can every day. Doing this has two effects for me: It's my fuel to get me through even the toughest of days; and when I think of God's blessings in my happiest moments, it makes everything seem so much sweeter.

My good friend Ruth, who has been in many of my posts and who you'll see in many more, shared a beautiful conversation she had with her mum today. Her text message went like this: 

"The day we donated [blood], I was telling my mum about my experience and how I felt privileged that I was helping someone I'd probably never meet. She (Ruth's mum) said to me, imagine Jesus. He did the same. He willingly poured out his blood for all mankind, however, he did it in an excruciating circumstance; yet he was willing to do it without hesitation. His love for us is so great that he didn't get a reward or anything. He gave us his all; free of charge even when we did nothing to deserve it."

Oh man I love Jesus. Nuff said. Thank you for letting me share the mum wisdom Ruth!

So since going vegan, I haven't eaten any store bought hot cross buns because I wasn't sure if they had milk, eggs or butter. This year, I decided to make my own! I know a lot of people who aren't a fan of anything with dried fruit in it (i.e. raisin toast, mince pies, Christmas pudding and hot cross buns), and to be honest I didn't like it either, but my taste changed and I had a major hankering for some buns :P

I didn't have any vegan margarine so I search high and low for recipe which didn't need it. I found a few recipes (here, here and here), but decided on one from the website She Knows Vegan, but still made some changes. These turned out super delicious. After finishing one I had to battle with myself not to eat another...and another. Instead, I went for a run :)

Vegan hot cross buns

Makes 8 large hot cross buns or 16 regular sized buns


  • 3/4 cup unsweetened milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple juice concentrate 
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup dried currants
  •  1/2 mixed peel
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 3 tablespoons warm water

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Extra soy milk to glaze after about 15 minutes

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together soy milk and vinegar. Set aside for 10 minutes to make “buttermilk”.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine buttermilk, oil, sugar, apple juice concentrate and water. Cook, stirring often, until brown sugar dissolves..
  3. In the bowl combine 3 cups flour, yeast, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add buttermilk mixture and mix to make a sticky dough. Add more flour a bit at a time until the dough becomes soft. Add currants and knead in.
  5. Place dough into a large bowl rubbed with oil, turning dough over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in size, about 1-1/2 hours.
  6. Punch dough down using your fist and dump onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 16 evenly sized pieces. 
  7. Place dough balls onto a large baking sheet and cover with a lightly damp towel. Let rise for 45 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Use a sharp knife to make a shallow cross on the top of each bun.
  9. To make the crosses, mix together the plain flour and water until smooth.
  10. Fill a piping bag (or a sandwich bag with a hole cut in the corner) with the flour mixture and pipe a cross shape onto the buns.  
  11. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until buns are lightly browned. I glazed them with extra soy milk to help give them that brown colour.
  12. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chocolate mousse popsicles

Ever since getting my hands on some popsicle molds, I've enjoyed making different popsicle recipes. My dad has also enjoyed the frozen treats because it's a healthier option compared to the ice cream in the freezer. He's on a mission to lower his cholesterol, but he has a major sweet tooth just like me so my vegan popsicles are a good solution. 

After dinner yesterday my dad was digging around in the freezer and after seeing that there were no more popsicles left, he asked me to make some more. I decided to use this as a good opportunity to try another new popsicle recipe. 

I came across this recipe for vegan chocolate mousse pudding pops and because I've never had frozen chocolate mousse before, I knew that this had to be my 'something new' for today. 

This recipe calls for avocado; something that would put off a lot of people. It does sound a bit gross, but the avocado actually gives the mousse that great creamy texture. And if you put enough cocoa powder in the mix then you can't taste it at all. If you want this mousse to be extra rich, I suggest melting some dark chocolate and adding that to the mix. 

I also came across another chocolate mousse popsicle recipe which doesn't use avocado in the recipe. It uses silken tofu and melted dark chocolate instead of the cocoa powder. I didn't get time to try this one today, but I'll be sure to make it soon.

I made some changes to the recipe that I got from the Whipped food blog:

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Popsicles:

Yields 8 servings

  • 2 avocados (not under ripe but also not too overripe, just in the middle please!)
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
Popsicle molds
  1. Combine avocado, banana, cocoa powder, and agave in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Add soy milk and process until smooth and creamy.
  3. Divide mousse into 8 popsicle molds. Once full, tap the cups on the counter to get out all of the air bubbles (if you don’t do this you will end up with holes all over your mousse pops!).
  4. Freeze for 4 hours or until firm.
  5. To remove from cups- gently warm cups with hands or hot water and carefully tug the popsicle stick.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day Zero Project goal #1 - Donate blood

As you might have seen from a few of my past posts, I've been trying to spread the word that more people need to be registering on the bone marrow donor registry. It's so that people like my friend Emily have a greater chance of finding a blood match in order to have a stem cell or bone marrow transfer that could save their life.

A few weeks ago, my friend Ruth and I had planned to go donate blood after she saw that it was one of my goals for my Day Zero Project and she too had never donated blood. We had booked an appointment and everything, but then I developed a cold and so we had to cancel because in order to donate you have to be feeling 100% healthy during the 7 day period leading up to the donation. The cold lingered for a very long time, but in that time another of my friends wanted to go as well, and when I had finally gotten better, yet another of my friends told me that she wanted to put her name on the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR). The four of us booked our appointment for today. 

So this is the part where I reflect over how great timing can be sometimes. Only a few days ago, Emily told me that she was going to be interviewed by the popular Channel 7 morning news and entertainment show Sunrise. It was then that I told her I'd be going in to register and so Emily organised for the camera man to come and film us while we were donating. It was all such great timing! Not only will Sunrise help to spread the word about Emily, but viewers will also be able to see just how simple it is to register on the ABMDR. It's honestly as simple as filling out a form.

The actual donating blood part was also not as scary as it might seem. The nurses take very good care of you, making sure you're comfortable and relaxed. It was all very pain free for me, and afterwards you get free food! 

Not only did my three friends join the ABMDR, but the camera man did it too! It warms my heart seeing the kindness of people.

My friends and I have our fingers crossed that one of us will be a match for Emily, but even if we're not, what we did could still help someone else out there.

If you're interested in donating blood or joining the bone marrow donor registry call the Red Cross Blood Donation Services on 13 14 95 to make an appointment to donate blood, and they will give you the form you need to register on the ABMDR. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chickpea seitan cutlets

A couple weeks ago, I tried out the recipe for seitan from my Veganomicon cookbook. In that post I said that I was also keen to make the chickpea cutlets which are apparently really good too. I finally bought some chickpeas and cooked these babies up. I served it up with a side of salad and a slice of the walnut and wholemeal loaf my friend bought for me yesterday when we went to the Coventry Markets in Morley. And there you have it, all the food groups have been included :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coventry Square Markets

I'm starting to have a lot of days where I wake up having no idea what my 'something new' will be for the day. Luckily for today my good friend Cindy who I made the hand painted mug for texted me and invited me out :)

We went to go get our eyebrows done at Coventry Square in Morley. It's a market which opened up last year. It's situated next to Centro Galleria Morley, one of the shopping centre complexes in Perth. The Galleria is one of my most frequent shopping destinations and I've spent the last year driving past Coventry Square without ever going in. 

We got our eyebrows threaded at a place called Zubias Threading. If you've never heard of threading, it's basically when string is twisted and plucks out hair. It's a very cool technique. Most of the beauticians I've been to holds one end of the string in their mouth and twists it with their hands. 

Ladies, if you've never had your eyebrows threaded, I highly recommend it! I find it better than waxing because the beautician seems to have better control using the thread and so there's less chance of too much hair being removed. For me personally, threading gives the eyebrows a better shape compared to waxing. 

I've always been happy with the result and have yet to have a bad experience with threading...but when I went today the piece of string that was in the lady's mouth fell on my arm and so it was a bit gross having slobbery string on me hahaha. But anyways, make it your something new. You won't regret it!

Cindz and I had a walk around the markets, and saw plenty of nice little shops. We went quite late in the afternoon so many of the shops had closed. Nevermind though, because now that I know how nice it is inside, I'll be sure to go back and discover more. 

Can you see the loaf of bread that's in the shape of a lobster? It's on the very top shelf.

I have yet to find vegan friendly chai latte powder...until today!! But it was $18 a pop. I'll have to save up a little.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Amateur tutoring

I've heard it been said many times that one of the best ways to learn is to teach. Sometimes I wonder if anything I've learnt in my undergrad degree has actually sunk into my brain for me to recall later in life. From experience, I've found that even if the details (big or small) haven't sunk in, the fact that I've learnt it once before helps me to understand it a second time around. So even though I don't feel as though I've retained that much knowledge, the three years of undergrad were absolutely worthwhile. 

Human biology, physiology and pathology have been all I've known for the past 4 years of uni and so when my friend told me that she was doing a physiology unit for the first time ever, I totally jumped on the idea of helping her understand some of the concepts she was finding difficult. It was a total win-win situation because it would help her, and it would be awesome to refresh my memory too. 

We covered oxidative phosphorylation, substrate-level phosphorylation, the Kreb cycle (aka the Citric acid cycle) and a whole bunch of other things all related to carbohydrate metabolism. Even though I had only briefly touched on these during my undergrad degree, I found that it was quite easy to understand having done so much physiology and being exposed to similar mechanisms and a lot of the terminology the books used. 

I've never done anything close to tutoring a person in what I've previously studied because I've never thought that I have sufficient knowledge. If I didn't have this mission to try something new each day I may not have had the confidence to give her some tutoring, but we both really benefited from tonight. Seeing my friend's face light up after understanding a concept she didn't before gave me a whole new level of confidence.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lamont's Bishops House

I haven't yet reached that age where all my friends are getting married off, but my sister who is three years older than me certainly has. I became friends with one of my sisters uni friends and tonight we had the honour of being guests at their wedding.

Tonight was all full of new things. We had some pre-wedding reception coffees at a place called Metro Bar and Bistro on Mounts Bay. It was a very nice little place which had a stylish bar (including a plasma TV showing the footy) at one end and a small sectioned off area for functions such as wedding receptions, albeit very small ones as there was not a great deal of space. 

My friend's reception was held at Lamont's Bishops House. The building itself is a restaurant, but there is an outside area for functions with dance floor, garden and beautifully lush grass. The catering was so great in that they cooked a vegan meal for me upon request.

I love the vibe of weddings; especially when you know many of the guests. There was so much laughter, chit chat, kisses, reminiscing and love in the air. The food was great. We were lucky that the weather was good today seeing as it was an outdoor area. We all killed it on the D-floor and we looked so good doing it. The bouquet was thrown, old friends caught up and new friends were made. The best part by far was the fact that there was a photo booth with a box of props to dress up and pose with. I love anything and everything that encourages silliness and I love the everlasting memories that the photos captured. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Vegan matcha cupcakes with cream cheese icing

I'm going to have to rush this post. I like to try and get all my posts in before the day ends and this one is late because my brother and I stayed up and watch the movie Bridge to Terabithia. I had seen it back in 2007 when it first came out but I didn't remember it being quite as sad as it was when I watched it for the second time tonight. Maybe I wasn't as emotional then as I am now. Good or bad thing, I'm not sure.

Anyways, for a while now I had been wanting to try a green tea latte. It's not actually made with green tea leaves, but it is made from matcha powder which is green tea in a fine powder form. On my trip to Sydney, I finally got that chance and ordered a green tea latte at the Starbucks we stopped into. To be honest, I didn't enjoy the taste all that much. It's a strange flavour to describe, but mine is only one person's opinion so please go and try it for yourselves before deciding whether or not you like it.

Now even though I had that one bad experience, I didn't want to put matcha into my 'dislike' pile because I figured maybe it was just a one time thing. I had the opportunity to go into an Asian grocery today and I bought myself a bag of matcha powder. When I got home, i decided to whip up some vegan matcha cup cakes instead of a latte. 

I found a recipe on the website Pea Soup Eats for vegan matcha cupcakes with vegan matcha frosting. I substituted the natural sweetener Stevia for the granulated sugar. Instead of the matcha icing, I made some vegan maple cream cheese icing which I made last month (recipe here). The cupcakes were super delicious, fluffy on the inside and perfect to satisfy my always active sweet tooth. But they're just too good, I can't stop at one...

So the moral of the story: if you try something you don't like maybe just try it in a different recipe!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chile-Chocolate Mole

I'm a huge fan of Mexican food. Not only does it taste good, but it's easy to make vegan friendly. As I was going through my beloved Veganomicon cookbook, I found a recipe called Chile-chocolate Mole (Moh-leh or moh-lay). I had no idea what "mole" was, and even less of an idea of how to pronounce it (check out

Mole poblano, as it can also be called, is a sauce traditionally used in Mexican cuisine. The recipe in the Veganomicon is very loosely based on the traditional recipe, and has the added surprise of incorporating dark chocolate. It may seem very strange to use chocolate in a savoury dish, but I have read some food blogs that have used cocoa powder in curries. Apparently chilli and chocolate go very well together and enhance the flavour of each other. 

Well turns out that I do like this combination. The sauce was definitely different to anything I've tasted before but the chocolate flavour was very subtle, and it didn't really taste like chocolate. It added a nutty earthy flavour and it really did go well with the chilli. 

When it comes to food, sometimes you're doing yourself a favour by trying new or odd flavour combinations. Something you that you might think will be gross may actually become a favourite. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Don't judge a recipe by it's ingredients list?

Served with seasonal veggies and toasted tortillas

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vietnamese seitan baguette with savory broth dip

I pulled out my favourite cookbook the Veganomicon today and whipped up one of the 'sammich' recipes. I made a Vietnamese seitan baguette with savory broth dip. So quick and easy to make and something very new to me.

From what I've seen on Man Vs Food, there are a lot of meaty sandwiches which are dipped in or covered with broth (i.e. whatever the meat was cooked in with a bit more flavouring added to it). At first I didn't like the idea of eating soggy bread, but I'm all for trying new things so I put that thought aside.

The sammich was actually really nice and the soggy bread didn't bother me as much as I'd thought because the broth was really yum. The broth recipe called for five spice, ginger, garlic, chilli, lemon, vegetable broth and soy sauce. It was a very good flavour combination.

This dish probably isn't meant to be eaten neatly, but if you want more food in your gob and less on the plate, then make sure you cut the sammich to a good size :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Himalayan Nepalese Restaurant & Cafe

I've made some really great friends in my Masters of Nursing Science degree. Postgraduate study is so different to undergrad in many ways, one of which is that I've met a lot more people who are a few years older than me. I like that I'm not limted to only knowing people who are my age. The friends I've made in my Masters course have a lot of life experience under their belt and conversations with them are always so interesting.

Something else that I really enjoy about my group of nursing friends is that we are all so multicultural. Including myself we've got Vietnamese, Kenyan, Mauritian, Singaporean, Korean and Filipino ethnic backgrounds just to name a few. I love it I love it I love it. We are all so different, but we are all the same in that we love each other's company. Being culturally aware is so important in this day and age. It saddens me when people are not willing to accept the beauty in another culture. 

It is through these nursing friends of mine that I've been and tried lots of new things. Tonight we celebrated one of the girl's birthdays at a Himalayan Nepalese restaurant. I've never had this type of cuisine before and it is another place in Perth that I didn't know existed. 

The food was similar to the Indian and Middle Eastern style of cooking. Everything was very fragrant with plenty of spices. There was naan bread, paratha, roti, rice, name it. It was all there and it was all tasty.

There was six of us in total, and we ordered enough to cover the entire table with plates and serving dishes. Yes the food was good, but the company of my friends made everything taste even better.

Monday, March 18, 2013


My friend Ruth and I came across a bar/restaurant/cafe today called Greenhouse on St George's Terrace while on our way to our one day first aid training. We were initially drawn to it because it's exterior walls were covered in pot plants. I've never seen a building covered in pot plants before. In fact, I didn't even know Greenhouse existed. We made a mental note to go in and check it out afterwards.

The place was just as lovely and unique inside as it was outside. There is even a rooftop bar! If you live in Perth and you are looking for a great place for coffee, lunch, dinner or drinks, then Greenhouse is a must. It's open til late on most nights. 

The service was fantastic and the food, oh the food was good. Ruth and I ordered eggplant dip with raw vegetables. The variety of veggies was great! There were beans, baby carrots, capsicum, turnips, parsnips, radishes, cabbage, beetroot and some over vegetables I didn't know. I didn't even know that half these vegetables could be eaten raw, but I really enjoyed it. It was fresh and flavoursome. 

We also ordered the spiced nuts on the menu. These were AMAZING! They were sweet and salty and I'm pretty sure I could taste smoked paprika. Please please get these if you're a nut fan. You will not regret it; and if you order it based on my recommendation and you don't like them, then let me know and I will buy you a coffee ;)

Now this will sound strange, but the restroom in Greenhouse was awesome. The walls were covered in messages that people had written and one wall had post-it notes with messages on them. The toilet had a sink on it and when you flushed the toilet, the tap turned on. There were no paper towels (I guess to save the trees). Instead were fabric hand towels that you put in a wash basket after use. It was the most environmentally friendly toilet I've ever seen. The waitress also told us that the toilets themselves were special environmentally friendly ones.

Don't just live vicariously through my blog post. I strongly recommend you to go and discover this place for yourself if you haven't already. 

I love that there's so much about Perth I've yet to discover, and I've got another 9 months to discover more. 

If you know of any awesome places in Perth, feel free to facebook me :) 

The message that Ruth left on the toilet door

I wrote my blog URL on the wall :)