mind-full-ness

In 2013, I undertook a project where I tried to take one photo per day to share with my family and friends through Instagram and Facebook. While I did not quite achieve doing it every day (I missed probably 20 days – mostly at the start when I wasn’t sure what I was doing!), I achieved much more than I ever thought I would. It started out as a simple way to keep in touch in my year of adventure, but it became a task in mind-full-ness. Yes, I write it like that: I know the convention is “mindfulness” but I find that my mind has become very aware and very full of the world around me. Every day I see more things – sometimes everyday things, sometimes special things – and I appreciate more in my life. Sometimes it’s the simple things such as a beautiful flower; other times it is an experience that is overwhelmingly beautiful or sad or loving or engaging. But the point is that I see more than I ever have before. I take less for granted and when I think I can’t find a photo for a day, I realise that I have a lot to be thankful for and that perhaps I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be during the day. This means that I sometimes needed to hunt for a photo that could represent my day. Other times, I have so many photos that I find it incredibly difficult to choose just one – but I only choose one.

Later in 2013, I found a wonderful article written by Nic MacBean titled Snap happy: bestselling author Matthew Johnstone finds peace through photography. This article helped me put my project into clearer words and to realise what I was trying to do with it. It also gave me another book to find and read! (Note: I love books – I can’t get enough of them – more about my year in reading in a post to come.) However, being able to articulate why I am taking photos and why I want to do it every day has been enormously beneficial in understanding my motivations and intentions for myself – something deeper than just sharing images from my year of adventure – something more basic in understanding myself and my life.

Here are some of the highlights from my year of adventure, mind-full-ness, and understanding.

a beautiful flower

beauty

a sad experience

a sad experience

loving experience

a loving experience

an engaging experience

an engaging experience

a beautiful experience

a beautiful experience

…these are just a few of my favourites – you can see more on my Instagram account: http://instagram.com/tabras {shameless plug – I know!}. I intend to continue to share one photo per day throughout 2014 as well, even though my “year of adventure” is over and I’m “back to reality”, as such. Who says we can’t play with reality and enjoy what we do? 😉

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Inspiration vs. Motivation

Inspiration and motivation – I have thought these were the same and not bothered to interrogate my own understandings of their inherent nature and what they truly mean. This is odd for me – I’m usually a “word” person (read: grammar geek) and I like to know the subtle differences between words and when it is more appropriate to use one over another. But I have never thought deeply about this pair of words, together or separate. Besides, everyone knows what they mean – they are everyday words. I know that sometimes they are used as synonyms for each other, but I still haven’t defined or delineated them well. That is, until I read the start of a great post by Nerd Fitness. (Yes, it’s nerdy; it’s also got some great writing and *inspirational* stories!) In essence, my take home message was this:

Be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality. {tweet me}

Let’s go back to definitions, though, and get a foundation from which to build our understandings.

in·spi·ra·tion  n.
1a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
1b. The condition of being so stimulated.

mo·ti·va·tion n.
1a. The act or process of motivating.
1b. The state of being motivated.
2. Something that provides an inducement or incentive.

When I look at these words in the cold light of a dictionary, they are starkly different: one is about personal enjoyment and engagement without seeking a reward or benefit; the other is about a reward or a lure to make someone do something. Wow. Just think about that.

One is from an intrinsic internal place; the other is external and requires something tempting. Black and white. Open and closed. On and off. Opposites.

Questions: Why do we so often interchange these words or not recognize the differences that are inherent in their meanings? Have we become so desensitized by the media, the pack mentality, the global grab that we cannot distinguish between these two anymore? Or is it just me?

The difference between these concepts is astounding. Going back to my take home message from Nerd Fitness’s post – be motivated by anyone, be inspired by reality – I didn’t realize it at the time, but at a subconscious level I understood. Now, it’s time for me to raise my awareness to a conscious level. Two questions (from Nerd Fitness) prompted my own introspection and interrogation:

What drives me daily to be better?

  • My desire to have my dream life that I have built inside my head based on others’ dreams and perceptions of “happiness”: buying a home, having a family, being stable, being “fit”, being “successful”, being “happy”.

From where do you get your inspiration?

  • My friends and my family: they have all had their own struggles and weaknesses (as we all do, sometimes even more), but they have never let those negatives stop them. They continue to achieve, continue to dream, continue to do. I admire every one of my family and friends; they are amazing people. (Yes, I am *that* lucky!)

What about you? What drives you every day to be better? Where is your inspiration? Share with us in the comments below~

Romania.

Image

Romania. Go, see, do. Stunning.

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Rasnov town looking up to the citadel.

Rasnov town looking up to the citadel.

Locals in Rasnov.

Locals in Rasnov.

View from Rasnov Citadel.

View from Rasnov Citadel.

St Michael's Cathedral in Cluj-Napoca.

St Michael’s Cathedral in Cluj-Napoca.

Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj-Napoca

Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj-Napoca

Hazsongard cemetery in Cluj-Napoca

Hazsongard Cemetery, Cluj-Napoca

Flowers for sale in a market in Cluj-Napoca

Flowers for sale in a market in Cluj-Napoca.

Sneaky new friend in Cluj-NapocaSneaky new friend in Cluj-Napoca.

I visited Romania earlier this year to meet fellow blogger Estrella Azul. Her hospitality meant the world to me – she was welcoming and she shared her life, her culture, her country, and her insights. We had a wonderful week exploring Cluj-Napoca, Turda Salt Mines, Brasov, Rasnov, Bran….. As well as enjoying Romanian-Hungarian food, culture, and fun! Romania is a beautiful country and has a long history. It is probably best known for vampires, Transylvania, and Dracula, but there is so much more to see and do. Maybe one day I’ll get to write about my trip in more detail, but for now, you’ve seen some photos of what is on offer and here are some blogs about traveling in Romania. Do check them out – Romania really is worth going, seeing, doing!

…and, of course, the classic travel sites like Romania Tourism, Lonely Planet, Wikitravel (surprisingly good!), and TripAdvisor.

Asparagus Frittata

Sometimes I just don’t want to cook – I get lazy, I get tired, I get busy. But as long as I have a few staple ingredients around, then I can whip up a simple frittata. This is one of my basic recipes for those nights when I’m just too tired to think of anything else. All it takes is about 30 minutes (or less) and six or seven simple ingredients, depending on how adventurous I get. After the recipe, I’ll share some easy variations and considerations so that every frittata will be a different one!

slice of asparagus frittata (close up)

Asparagus Frittata

Ingredients
1 bunch of fresh asparagus
1 medium onion
6~8 eggs (depending on the size of the frying pan)
1/2 can coconut cream
salt & pepper to taste
herbs (optional; fresh or dried)
goat’s cheese (goat fetta is okay; I prefer firm goat cheese)
oil/butter for sautéing

Method

  1. Wash and cut asparagus into 1~2 cm lengths; remember to remove the bottoms as they won’t cook well and don’t taste as great. Dice the onion into 0.5 cm squares (roughly!). Place the asparagus and onion into a non-stick frying pan and gently sauté in oil or butter until onion is clear and asparagus is soft (approx. 10 mins).
  2. While the asparagus and onion are sautéing, beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the coconut cream and mix well. Also add in the salt, pepper, and herbs. You should have a nice egg mixture that looks a little creamy, but is not too eggy or too watery. If it is too watery, add another egg (otherwise it won’t set when cooked).
  3. Once the asparagus and onion are sautéd, add the egg mixture to the frying pan and mix gently so that the asparagus and onion are mixed through the egg mixture and not just sitting at the bottom of the frying pan. Let it cook on a low heat until the mixture is about 3/4 solid.
  4. When about 1 cm of liquid mixture remains on the top, add a little cheese if you like. (This will help give the top a nice crispy finish, as well as allowing the top to brown more evenly.) Remove frying pan from stovetop and place it under a hot grill with the surface about 8 cm from the heat source. Cook it here for about 5 mins until the frittata is cooked on top, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. It will also brown at during this stage, so just watch and rotate the frying pan as needed in order to have a consistent color.
  5. Once cooked, remove and serve. Be warned: the frying pan handle may be hot, so use a kitchen glove or wet towel to remove from under the grill.

Serving suggestion: A quick fresh garden salad with lettuce, tomato, and cucumber can be prepared while frittata is on the stovetop.

Variations & Notes

  • Add goat cheese to the egg mixture to give it a smoother texture when cooked.
  • Use fresh parsley and coriander for a nice herb flavor.
  • Use this recipe as a base, and experiment with different vegetables or more vegetables, if you like (and then adjust the amount of eggs accordingly so that it still fits in the frying pan). I have used a combination of zucchini and roasted sweet potato in another incarnation of this recipe; I’ve also used simply roasted pumpkin and goat’s fetta.
  • Adjust the amount of eggs depending on the size of your frying pan; smaller frying pans need fewer eggs. Don’t just use more coconut cream to make more egg mixture as it may not set as easily. For example, if you are using a ⌀30 cm frying pan, you’ll need about 10 eggs and a little more coconut cream.
  • Use coconut cream, not coconut milk. Coconut cream will result in a creamy texture and flavour, whereas coconut milk will not set as well and will be too watery.

Pumpkin & feta frittata

Link

So, one way that I keep track of my increasing love for food and inspiration for food creation is using Pinterest. I know, I know, everyone’s using Pinterest now – I’m just following the crowd. However, I find it a really great way to track my recipes – those I want to try and those I love. I also use it to track ideas about food and cooking as well as other foody inspirations.

Do you have a food inspiration space or method? What do you do to inspire your food creation?