resolution update

Okay kiddliwinks, after 120 days of this year, how are my resolutions/intentions faring?

Let’s assess:

1. be consistent with running (and hopefully complete a half marathon!)
– this has been going well, self! i’ve been running at least 3 times per week and have enlisted a buddy to do the half marathon with. keep up the good work!
I give myself 4 stars ★★★★

2. figure out postgrad.
– i’ve been trying hard in my courses to keep my grades up, written myself a timeline of various admission dates and submitted an application for a BIG DEAL scholarship (don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted!)
Again, i’m doing well. I give myself 4 stars ★★★★

3.continue to work on this blog.
– hmm, perhaps you’re more qualified to answer this one than i am? I’m trying!! i have had a few big-ish gaps, but I think i’ve been ok in my posting.
I give myself 3 1/2 stars ★★★⭐︎

4. stop interrupting people.
– oh drat, I forgot about this one! i don’t know if i’ve been awful, buuuuut i also haven’t been consciously trying to eliminate it. back to the drawing board on this one – BAD anna!
I give myself 1 star ★

5. find a way to give back to my community.
– ugh, this hasn’t been a very productive one either. the furthest i’ve got is joining a couple of charitable dunedin groups on facebook! however, i think i saw for one of them there is going to be an initiative in the next couple weeks, so I will try my best to get involved and help out with that.
Could do better – I give myself 2 stars ★★

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and a picture of me feeding a lamb for no particular reason. next post I promise will be a birthday one – I’ve just got to track down a few photos that i want to include and then we’ll be away laughing. happy sunday night xx

into my twenties

okay, it’s about time to talk about my 20th birthday aka the happiest i have been in a long time!! (i’m not kidding, I cried with happiness haha) (also this doesn’t mean i’m not happy on a day to day basis, this is like superlatively happy) (ok enough with the brackets anna).

anyway, my birthday started off in an unusual way: I had three tests! yes, that’s right, from 9-10, 10-11 and 11-12 i had the dubious pleasure of completing a total of 55% towards three of my papers. (oh wow, i didn’t sum those percentages up until now – thank goodness i didn’t, i would have been terrified!)

nothing much to note about the tests, but in french my dear friend liani made me the most sensational cupcakes:

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and my friend Madeleine gave me a stunning card and chocolate bunny! and our lecturer made everyone sing me a “joyeux anniversaire” before handing out test papers- cheers constantin!

anyway, the tests went fine, and i promptly forgot all about them once i walked out at 12. Clara and I hurried off to meet Jess and go play with kittens! The students association was offering timeslots to go cuddle kittens as a stress release for students! so we toddled off and did that – i always forgot how deliciously soft baby animals fur is – so sweet!

we wandered back to the flat to unload books and laptops, and to meet Nelly to go out for lunch. i zipped back to mine to do so then came back and what a scene awaited me!

yes, that’s right – passionfruit meringue cupcakes and beautifully wrapped gifts!
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i was so happy and overwhelmed! the funny thing is, the recipe box was for sale at a very cute shop in wanaka, and literally every time i went in the shop over summer I oohed and aahed over it- i thought it was just beautiful! and i reallllly wanted to buy it for myself. so when clara, nileesha, jess, lucy and madeleine gave it to me i was so so happy and amazed by their mind reading powers!

off we went to the favourite, morning magpie and had beautiful bagels:

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and sweet celia joined us and gave me such a cheerful bunch of flowers!

stunning flowers from my aunties:

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and a ring from the boys! i was so overwhelmed and delighted! they got in touch with my friends and family to find out my ring size, and chose this ring themselves – i was so happy with it, and it fits so nicely with my other rings: oh they are just so cute!!

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^^^the one on my index finger^^^

And my family was in town as it was school hols! so they picked me up and we went back to their accommodation where they gave me cards and presents:

Sooo many tears reading my darling mum’s card:

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and the most stunning presents: two gorgeous jumpers, a stunning black leather status anxiety bag, and the beautiful zoe and morgan shooting star ring!!

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I am the biggest fan of zoe and morgan and have been lusting after this ring for a year! suffice to say i was just over the moon (i’m running out of words for happy and overwhelmed, have you noticed?!)

then we went and had an amazing meal at Plato:

beautiful nibbly platter, champagne and fresh blue cod (which i’ve decided is my very favourite food, which, when you love food as much as i do, is a tough one!)

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white chocolate and raspberry cake for dessert, which was light as air (ryan “it’s like a sweet cloud”)
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 my partners in crime, who’ve been through the last 16 and 18 years with me respectively!

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back home to let everyone enjoy all the baked goods bestowed on me during the day, and i was given the sweetest loveliest cards that just about brought a tear to my eyes!

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what a perfect day! and i may be sentimental, but really just all the thought and effort and LOVE that went into all the special presents and sweet treats i was given was even more special than the gifts themselves. i am a self proclaimed lover of surprises and i sure got plenty (wonderful wonderful) ones that day.

thank you with all my heart to my friends and family, as I said multiple times during the day:
how did i get so lucky? how did i get to be surrounded by such wonderful, loving, gorgeous people? 

healthy eating on a student budget: part 2

see! i promised you another of these posts and i delivered!
this part two is kind of a winter edition, because soooooup features, and, i don’t know, the freezing temperatures in dunedin lately aren’t terribly conducive to ice block making or whatever it is i do in summer (i’ve forgotten already, it feels like forever ago).
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^^^ok, not soup, but my yummy lunch today! kumara i roasted over the weekend, spinach and feta. I poured over an egg beaten with a little milk and had myself the fanciest, yummiest spin on a spanish omelette^^^
so without further ado, here are 3 more tips and tricks:
1. Soup! Basically the perfect food, so many different options, so filling and warming but so good for you at the same time!! even if you supplement with a mountain of cheese on toast (not that i would ever do that or anything…) or cheese rolls! southern sushi hehe.
Vegetables are so affordable as long as you buy them in season and shop around a little – i walk past veggie boys (a dunedin fruit and vegetable grocer) every day on my way to uni so i have my finger on the pulse of fruit and vegetable pricing (yes, i have a very exciting life, couldn’t you tell ;)
Here are some of my favourites:
lentil soup with carrot and tomatoes and chorizo
saute onions and garlic, add chunks of carrot, chorizo and brown lentils. Pour in a can of tomatoes and chicken stock and allow to simmer until lentils cooked.
pumpkin soup
saute onion and garlic, add chopped up pumpkin and chicken stock. Simmer until pumpkin is cooked and then puree. I like to add chopped up crispy bacon and grated cheese to top – takes me back to my childhood. my mum used to put creamed corn in too which i am very partial to.
leek and potato
saute onion and garlic, add finely sliced leeks and let soften. add chopped up potato and chicken stock and simmer until potato cooked. Puree. I like to add frozen or fresh spinach to up the vege content.
carrot soup
saute onion and garlic, add dried coriander, paprika and fresh ginger. add chopped up carrot and chicken stock. Simmer until carrot is tender. Puree and top with fresh coriander.
healthy vege soup 
– simmer red lentils and barley, add onions, parsnips, leeks, celery, carrots and pumpkin. puree when cooked.
 
ps- feel free to ask me for amounts in the comments – but the beauty of soup is that there is no need to measure things specifically! approximate amounts will do just fine, and you will feel fancy and very chef-like, just tossing things in the pot with gay abandon!
 
pps – soup is the one thing i absolutely INSIST upon seasoning. If you taste the soup and it’s not quite right, 99 times out of ten (see what i did there) it’ll be because it needs salt. I am very proud of my low sodium intake (generally), but those vegetables need salt, i’m telling you. it doesn’t even make the soup taste more salty, it just brings out the flavours of the vegetables.
2. keep raw almonds in your bag at all times for when hunger strikes! this might be just me, but while i don’t dislike plain almonds, i don’t crave them or necessarily want to just mindlessly snack on them (french vanilla almonds, on the other hand…), which eliminates the possiblity of me just nibbling on them at every opportunity. they are fantastic when you are feeling peckish but are out of the house and know you won’t be eating for a bit longer/want to put off buying anything. a handful of them will satisfy me for a good 30 mins and mean i don’t make silly food choices like buying baking or lunch from a cafe- aiming for a fat bank balance and lean hips, not the other way around!
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3. ditto number 2 but for teabags! if you don’t have access to a kettle or hot water dispenser, most cafes will let you have a cup of hot water for 50c or less – and will even add milk or sugar for nothing! i’ve taken to bringing chai teabags with me, and getting my own keep cup filled up with hot water, a dash of milk and vanilla syrup for only 50c in total. a delicious and comforting beverage which is so much cheaper and healthier than buying a hot chocolate or chai and even nicer in my opinion!
I just got home from my chinese cinema paper’s film screening – we watched Suzhou Road which i actually really enjoyed – i often find the films quite hard going, as i’m more of a romcom gal myself, plus my attention span is so bad these days. anyway, it was about love and loss, very tragic, and i walked home feeling very deep and of awe for this world of ours. it’s so easy to get distracted by study and lectures and petty random things and just go days lost in my little world of work and uni and repeat. but there is this big wide world out there that i will experience – the good and the bad, the love and the loss, just as soon as i get out of this lovely comfortable bubble of being a student in dunedin. raw almonds to chai tea to deep thoughts – what kind of hippy blog is this? don’t worry, i’ll be back to mediocre yarns soon enough.
and just a couple of photos from my birthday to tide you over:
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cheers to that!

fragrant asian broth

I recently got back from ten days at home and I was just as happy as larry! it has been wonderful to just stop for a minute and have a break – and the fact that school holidays coincided with uni was just wonderful as i actually get to see my family and not just try fruitlessly persaude my little sister to pull a sickie and hang out with me (spoiler alert – it never works!) I’ve read 3 books, baked, cooked dinner, been for numerous cafe dates, went to Cinderella (sooo good!) and the Woman in Gold (even better!) and done so much lazing in my pyjamas over multiple cups of coffee.
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my sister Sarah is the greatest cook and cooks dinner almost every night which blows my track record when i still lived at home out of the water. the one night i managed to wrest the kitchen off her i decided to make this fragrant asian broth, with vermicelli noodles and chicken coriander balls – it’s so good! it is one of our family’s faves and aways feels like such a treat. i figured that after hot cross buns pudding and profiteroles, it was high time that i posted a savoury, healthy recipe – and this ticks all the boxes.
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we have grown up on asian food – my mum has always cooked us stirfries, curries and more and we have gone through many rice cookers over the years. since we grew up eating spicy food and there was not much room for fussiness in our house, we all have extremely tolerant palates and were amazed at the thought of people NOT enjoying spicy food! i’ll never forget making butter chicken in home economics in year 7 – as you can imagine, this being Christchurch, NZ, it was the mildest mixture with just a hint of spice – half the students couldn’t eat it they found it so hot, and here was 11 year old Anna disgusted by the lack of flavour!!
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don’t worry, this soup isn’t hot unless you want it to be – i like to let people stir through their chosen amount of chilli through their soup, which eliminates the chances of the home ec situation repeating itself! it is light and filling at the same time – the flavours are all super light and fragrant, but since there is tons of liquid it’s very satisfying. the yummiest thing for winter time, when you need a break from the heavy ‘comfort food’ like potatoes and roasts and casseroles. this is just as comforting, but less food coma inducing! and note – with dunedin’s polar blast we are currently experiencing (snow in april, it’s no joke) this would be the most ideal way to thaw out!
next time – i need to chat about my birthday! it was on wednesday and I had the happiest day – goodness gracious how did I get such wonderful people in my life? my family, friends and flatmates were so so good to me and my heart was overflowing.
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fragrant chicken coriander broth 
adapted from ray mcvinnie’s numerous asian soup recipes
2 litres chicken stock (the real stuff, not just chicken stock powder)
a bunch of coriander
1 kg chicken breasts, cubed
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp crushed ginger (or as much as you want, really)
10 thin slices of ginger
4 carrots, julienned
4 bunches bok choy, sliced in think ribbons
6 button mushrooms, very finely sliced
a packet of vermicelli noodles
minced chilli, to taste
blitz the chicken breasts, garlic, crushed ginger and coriander stems (not the leaf/frond part, save those for the end) in the food processor until all combined and chicken minced.
heat chicken stock in a big stock pot to a simmer and add ginger slices. use a teaspoon to make walnut sized balls of chicken, and plop them in as you go. they are cooked when they rise to the top. add carrot, mushrooms and bok choy. let simmer for 5 – 10 mins or until carrot is cooked. rehydrate the vermicelli in boiling water and drain.
Place vermicelli in bowls and ladle over the broth. add minced chilli to taste and top with coriander leaves. Enjoy!
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dinner party

you know how you always have these grand plans of fun activities that never eventuate? well that’s me, 99% of the time. BUT NOT LAST WEEKEND!

sorry, i’m still stoked we managed to actually make this happen! i was chatting away to my friend Madeleine about, i don’t know, the usual rubbish i babble about to my long suffering friends and i said something about making hot cross buns for easter. she picked up on it and the idea somehow metamorphised into an easter dinner for us and three flat’s worth of friends!

see, if i had to map out how us and our friends know each other – it would not be a neat diagram, but rather a tangled web of high school/ class / halls / friends of friends – we are all suddenly very interconnected, which is just the loveliest thing and makes us all so happy. for example, i met madeleine through doing a french literature paper together – she also happens to be dear friends with our friend Grace through wellington/ church. Grace went through high school with clara, who i met through arana/ economics and so around it goes! mutliply this by like 15 girls and you have… a headache? seriously though, so fantastic! as someone who attended six different schools over the course of my schooling (seriously, cheers air force) this level of interconnection and the sheer number of fantastic girls thrills me.

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^^^ a snippet of our wonderful friends – and us in our ‘sunset’ dresses! ^^^

ok, enough boasting anna, get on with the menu!

i am verrry lucky as my friend Nileesha is equally batty when it comes to food. i remember a bus trip we once took together – the first hour we had a great catch up on each other’s lives, the second hour we had funny discussions on various dunedin people we know, and the next three we literally just talked food – planning mexican fiestas, american south dinners and who knows what else. so when this dinner party began to materialize i knew that i would need her help. we decided on salmon as it is a real treat and given that we were going to be getting people to contribute money towards the dinner, we wanted them to feel like they were really getting their money’s worth. also, given it was still march, a roast or something just felt too wintery.

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