Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Cous Cous Salad Recipe.



This is a delicious vegan variation of a recipe that my Mum was made while she was staying in hospital a few months ago. She made it for me when I last went down to visit her, and since then I have been tweaking it until it tasted exactly how I wanted it. Here is the final version of the recipe.

Ingredients:

250gr pearl cous cous
1 x small butternut pumpkin
1 x large zucchini
small tub of sundried tomatoes sitting in olive oil (Coles deli tubs are the best!)
handful of almonds
handful of pepitas (plus any seeds saved from butternut pumpkin)
juice from one lemon
smoked paprika
balsamic dressing
sea salt
pepper

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
2. Dice pumpkin (save seeds) and zucchini into small chunks and place on a baking tray lined with greased baking paper (I find olive oil spray works well). Roast in the oven for 20 minutes with salt and pepper seasoning.
3. After 20 minutes, toss roasting veggies and sprinkle with the seeds and almonds. Continue roasting for another 20 minutes.
4. Immediately after adding the seeds and almonds, start cooking your pearl cous cous according to packet instructions. Drain and leave in a large bowl to cool slightly.
5. Remove sun dried tomatoes from the tub, keeping the tub and the oil for your salad dressing in a moment. Cut the sundried tomatoes up into smaller pieces for better distribution throughout the salad.
6. To make the dressing, add the following to your tub of olive oil: juice of one lemon, sprinkle of smoked paprika, 1-2 tbsp balsamic dressing. Whisk well with a fork.
7. Once vegetables are roasted, add to the cous cous along with the sundried tomatoes and stir through well. Next add the dressing and stir through until well combined.
8. Serve on it's own or as a side dish. Perfect hot or cold.

Serves 2-4.

 
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Saturday, 14 November 2015

PLL Theory // CeCe is Bethany (or her twin) + Wilden is Charles!



I posted this theory in my PLL facebook group 'Long Live King Wilden' last night, and it got such a good response that I thought I would share it here as well. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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During the 6A finale we were shown a scene of Bethany and Charles talking on the roof of Radley, day dreaming about how they might escape one day. The two of them decided that they needed to come up with a really great “story” in order to escape Radley. Next thing you know, we see Bethany pushing Marion off the roof. Is this really what happened though?

I’m thinking that Wilden is really Charles for the following reasons:

- The writers changed Wilden’s age from a graduate of 1996 to someone who went to highschool with Melissa. They dropped his age for a reason. Why?
- He looks like a DiLaurentis. He definitely looks like the little boy version of Charles.
- He was heavily invested in finding out what happened to Alison that night.
- Mrs D attended his “funeral” and sat in the front row. Pretty sure she wouldn’t care for some random crooked cop that much. The front row is generally reserved for very close friends and family members.

As for CeCe really being Bethany:

- In the 6A finale CeCe describes Bethany as having being diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder. I’ve looked this up, and people with IED have behaviours very similar to CeCe’s behaviours as ‘A’.
- CeCe (or Sara) sends flowers to the parents of Bethany Young after it is revealed on the news that it was Bethany’s body buried in the DiLaurentis backyard. If CeCe really hated Bethany, why would she bother doing this? I’m thinking she felt bad for her own parents' “loss” and this is why she sent the flowers.
- Jason saw who he thought was CeCe in a yellow top on the night that Alison disappeared. CeCe denied being the one that Jason saw in the 6A finale, yet in 3x20 she admits to Emily that she was there and that Jason did see her.
- We know that Jessica was asking Bethany to call her Aunt Jessie, and that Jessica was having an affair with Bethany’s Dad. If CeCe is in fact Bethany, it would explain all the flashbacks we have seen where Jessica has been dead set against Alison hanging out with CeCe. It would also explain why she allowed CeCe to date her son. What Mother in her right mind would allow her daughter to date her brother?
- The only person able to corroborate CeCe’s story about being the real Charles is Jessica, and Jessica is dead.

According to Toby in “the first secret” episode, his Mother actually died in 2007. To me, this is a fact, and CeCe’s recount of events was merely a story she made up. The writers are not that stupid to include such a gaping plot hole in the 6A finale without having the intention to rectify the plot hole later on. This theory of mine would most definitely rectify said plot hole.

What I’m thinking really happened is that CeCe/Bethany killed Marion in 2007, as the facts tell us. Wilden, who is really Charles, was the reporting officer on the scene at 20 years of age – four years after his death was faked with the help of his Mother Jessica, when he was given the new identity of Darren Wilden. Having been friends with Bethany during his own time spent in Radley, Wilden covers up her involvement.

Note: If Bethany was 17 on the night that she escaped Radley in 2009 (the night Alison first disappeared), this would have made her 15 the night she killed Marion, and roughly 20 years old on the night of the 6A finale. We know that CeCe attended college (assuming this is even true), so some might argue that she wouldn’t have been old enough to have been attending college in 2008 when Alison was friends with her. However, given that she was a patient at Radley (and most likely a genius) I’m guessing they were able to make an exception for her and gave her early admittance under special circumstances.

So do I still think it was CeCe/Bethany who hit Alison over the head? Well, yes. If her motive was to hurt Jessica for sleeping with her Father, then killing her daughter would be a pretty good way to do that. It would make sense that Jessica would cover for CeCe as Bethany too, because she wouldn’t want her affair with Bethany’s father getting out. It would make even more sense if Jessica really was CeCe's/Bethany's Aunt, meaning that Jessica was having an affair with her brother-in-law, and that CeCe/Bethany was her niece (unbeknownst to CeCe/Bethany at the time of course or else she probably wouldn't try to kill her cousin).

But what about Garrett saying he saw Wilden at the DiLaurentis house that night? Well, what if Melissa, when she was talking to CeCe/Bethany (her friend from horseriding), found out that CeCe/Bethany was there to kill Alison? Maybe Melissa knew that Wilden was really a DiLaurentis (or not, it would work either way) and this was why she was calling him that night (“do I have to call 911 to get your attention?”). CeCe/Bethany told us in 3x20 that Melissa took the photo of Wilden/CeCe/Alison on the boat in Cape May. It is possible that Wilden and Melissa were much closer than we have been lead to believe.

So did CeCe really kill Wilden? Well, if Wilden really is Charles, that would be a pretty boring storyline now wouldn’t it? What I’m thinking really happened is that Melissa set up the meeting at the lodge as a huge distraction so that she, along with the help of Mrs D, could fake Wilden’s death. Melissa may have worn a blonde wig and pretended to be CeCe. The reason I think Mrs D is involved is because she returns to Rosewood in the very next episode, attends his funeral and sits in the front row, yet doesn’t seem upset in the slightest. She has no reason to be upset of course because she knows he isn’t really dead. She also sits in the front row, despite this looking very odd, because she needs to make sure that everything is going to plan and that Wilden still "appears" to be dead.

Now, back to Cape May.. Do I think Wilden was beach hottie? Of course not! Well, not if beach hottie was sleeping with Alison anyway. If he was just a guy she had a crush on then sure, why not? I’m thinking that Wilden was just catching up with his old friend CeCe/Bethany and trying to spend time with his long lost sister.

Another reason I think that Wilden/Charles and CeCe/Bethany were old friends from Radley is the way they interacted with each other in 3x20 when Wilden finds CeCe on the side of the road and drags her into his police car. To me this scene is about Wilden being mad at CeCe for spreading rumours that he got his sister pregnant, and rightfully so. I think this is the real reason why Wilden was so upset about these rumours. He was disgusted by them.

So whose body was really buried in the DiLaurentis backyard? Well, that sounds like a pretty good storyline for 6B, don’t you reckon? ;) I mean, it couldn't have been that hard for CeCe as Bethany to plant some of her DNA on the body. She has achieved much more complex tasks in the past after all.

But what if Bethany Young really is dead?

If if turns out that Bethany really is dead, then to go along with the above theory, I'd like to think that perhaps CeCe is Bethany's twin. It would explain why Jason saw CeCe in the same clothes that both Bethany and Alison were buried in "that night". CeCe wanting to become 'A' could all be explained by her digging up what she thought was Ali's body from the cemetery in 3x1 only to find out that it was really her twin Bethany's body that was buried.

To add to this theory even further, I would even be willing to let go of Wilden being the real Charles, and having Wren be the real Charles instead. Either of those handsome lads I'd be more than happy with! :)

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Please share this blog post around if you enjoyed it!

 
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Sunday, 1 November 2015

My Vegan Story.



How do you know if someone is Vegan? They'll tell you.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's get on to my tell all about how and why I became Vegan (and how you can become Vegan too if you want to). Today is 'World Vegan Day', so I felt that there was no better time than the present to let you all know about this super important change in my life.

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Growing up as a child/teenager I knew a total of two vegetarians. One was a primary school best friend, and the other a high school best friend. Both of these girls were pretty relaxed about their vegetarian diet in the sense that they never made other people feel bad about eating meat. Their being vegetarian didn't have much of an impact on my life because they weren't constantly (if ever) vocalising why they were vegetarian - they just were who they were. And that was cool. It made the idea of being a vegetarian seem "normal". Sure, they may have copped some flack from the meat eaters around them from time to time, but were they ever not invited to social gatherings and made to feel an outcast? Of course not. Because they weren't actively making other people aware of their ignorance.

As an adult, I went on to make friends with another two vegetarians. One who is still a vegetarian, the other who is now a Vegan. Unfortunately the friend who is now Vegan made her transition as she started travelling overseas, so this never really made an impact on me. Somewhere around this time though I finally met my first official full fledged Vegan. She wasn't very vocal about it though, and the only time it was ever brought up in conversation was when someone else (usually a guy) was making a joke at her expense. My first experience of what it is like to be a Vegan was not a pleasant one. Not because of the diet itself, but because of the way she was treated for being different from the rest of the herd. Not long after meeting that Vegan, I met another one. This one was a few years younger than me and in addition to being Vegan she was also opposed to drinking alcohol. I was around 19/20 years old when I first met this girl and at the time I was working in a bottle shop and drinking somewhat heavily and quite frequently as well. Now, it wasn't that her not drinking made her harder to relate to, but I feel like I may have felt like I wasn't good enough to really be her friend given my own lifestyle. Because of this (and possibly other reasons on her end) the friendship didn't really take off, and so I wasn't exposed to her Veganism in a way that I now wish I had have been.

Fast forward 5-6 years to around this time last year, and I was working on a blog and YouTube banner design for fellow blogger Niomi Smart. In watching a few of her videos to get some inspiration for her new design I came across this video where she made a delicious salad and explained that she was trying out going vegan. She made reference to another YouTuber named Freelee the Banana Girl who inspired her to make this change. Being the curious person that I am, I looked up and subscribed to Freelee's videos straight away. To be completely transparent though, despite feeling the need to stay subscribed to her YouTube channel, I was actually pretty turned off by most of her videos. I found her to be very harsh, somewhat of a body shamer at times, and extremely forceful of the idea that Veganism is the one and only way that all humans should live. I'm honestly still not sure why I didn't unsubscribe to her, but I'm glad I didn't. It was through reading the comments of one of her many videos that I found links to other Vegan YouTubers that the commenters claimed were much kinder and easier to watch than Freelee was at the time (I now quite enjoy most of Freelee's videos, I think because now I can see past all the bullshit and focus on the message). I ended up coming across quite a few different Vegan YouTubers that day, one of which was Kalel Kitten, a YouTuber around my age who was very similar to most of the beauty guru YouTubers that I was currently watching at that time.

It was around the same time that I started following Kalel that I had just paid a shit tonne of money to get a personalised meal plan made for me by a very well known Instagram diet/fitness coach. I won't say his name, but basically, at the time, I thought this meal and exercise plan he gave me (which turned out not to be very personalised at all) was going to be the answer to all my weight problems I was having (which I now know is due to my having PCOS). And in a way, it was. At least for the first month anyway. I ended up losing 3 kilos. In saying this, I was also exercising 4-5 times a week at the gym which I hadn't done in over a year. I also became even more constipated than I already was. Sometimes going as little as once per week. I started to become super sluggish, could barely finish my meals, completely went off chicken and eggs (which made it super easy when I eventually went Vegan, so thanks for that!), GAINED 1.5kg back during the second month on plan (and believe me, I certainly wasn't gaining muscle mass), and most importantly.. I became bored. The plan became a chore. Being healthy and happy, simply put, should NEVER be a chore. So I quit that meal plan two thirds of the way in, and cut down my red meat consumption drastically, and my egg and chicken consumption almost completely. I kept going to the gym and managed to shift that gained 1.5kg. I started pooping as regularly as I had been previously, so 2-3 times per week (I look back on this now and am amazed that I ever considered that to be "regular"). I was starting to feel better again. But as with everything that doesn't feel natural to you, going to the gym soon became a hindrance to me. I wanted to start attending classes but didn't have anyone to go with, and just didn't have the confidence to attend these classes on my own. The few times I did attend one I was completely out of my league and ended up being hardly able to walk for 2-3 weeks afterwards. I just wasn't enjoying it anymore. And deep down I knew that being healthy shouldn't have to be that hard.

Fast forward again to the 4th of September 2015, and Kalel Kitten upload this video to her YouTube channel. I'd already been following her for at least 6 months prior to her uploading this video but it wasn't until watching this video in particular that I finally made the connection. If you take any single action from reading this blog post, it should be to watch her video. If you feel inspired after watching it, then you can do the following:


1. Educate Yourself
Please watch the following videos, preferably in the following order:
- 101 reasons to go Vegan (MUST WATCH, trust me!)
- MAN
- Ditch Dairy
- 6 minute film that will leave you Speechless
- Forks Over Knives
- Cowspiracy
- If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls (Warning: Graphic)
Best Speech You Will Ever Hear (Warning: Graphic)
- Lucent (Warning: Graphic)
- Earthlings (Warning: Extremely Graphic)

2. Ease Yourself In
If you decide you want to go Vegan practically overnight like I did, then that is fine as well. Don't feel like you HAVE to though. Your health (and sanity) is the most important factor here, so take baby steps if you need to. Do your research to find out how you can (easily) get all of the appropriate nutrition required for a Vegan lifestyle. I would suggest talking to your doctor if you are having trouble, and if your doctor isn't helpful, find a different doctor.

3. Don't Beat Yourself Up
I know it's hard not to dwell on all of the years that you remained in the dark. Those dark days are over now though, and you have nothing but light and positivity to look forward to. You can't change the past, so focus on the here and now instead. Think about the wonderful future you are bound to create for yourself. Also, don't beat yourself up if you accidentally eat something that isn't Vegan. Milk solids are in just about everything. You are bound to slip up every now and then. As long as you are not purposefully slipping up then you have no reason to feel guilty.


After watching most of the videos listed above (I still haven't managed to get through all of Earthlings, it truly is heart wrenching) I decided that I was going to go vegetarian with a view to becoming Vegan. The only thing stopping me from going Vegan straight away was that my partner was already making it very obvious that he was unhappy about me even wanting to go vegetarian. I stupidly thought it might be easier if I eased myself (and him into the idea) slowly over time. Fortunately for the animals, the environment and my health, my body wouldn't allow me to just be vegetarian for very long at all. I went away on holiday for a week to visit my family during my whole two weeks of being solely vegetarian, and during this time I became incredibly ill every time I ate something with dairy in it. I'm talking up all night long with major stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, etc. I'm not sure why my body chose that week in particular to let me know I was intolerant to dairy, but I'm glad it did. I had had signs of a dairy intolerance in terms of bloating and feeling stuffy in the nose/throat for at least 2-3 years beforehand, but never anything this extreme. Then on my second last day visiting my family I went to stay at my Mums place. I asked my Mum and Brother if they would watch 101 reasons to go Vegan with me, and they said yes. The three of us sat down together, watched together, cried together. Even though I had already seen this video, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Afterwards my Mum and Brother told me that if I want to go Vegan then I should do it now, no more excuses. I asked if this meant that they were open to Veganism themselves and they both said that they were. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. That night Mum whipped us up a super yummy vegan meal (that I will share on the blog sometime soon) and for dessert I had my last ever dairy ice cream before going 100% Vegan the very next morning.

September 27th 2015 was the day that I officially became Vegan.

Upon returning home from my holiday I ceased all consumption of dairy and eggs, as well as all meat/poultry/seafood that I had already given up. I started to cook my meals with passion, but also compassion. It has now been just over a month since I made the transition and I honestly couldn't be happier. Sure, it's hard having people you love mock you, argue with you, discourage you.. but once you become Vegan (for ethical reasons primarily) it becomes pretty much impossible to not enjoy being Vegan. The personal benefits for me in the first month alone have been absolutely amazing. I have lost another 1kg despite not going to the gym and eating all sorts of Vegan junk food (don't worry, I won't keep this up forever). I poop no less than twice per day, as opposed to 2-3 times a week. I have so much more energy during the day. I sleep much better at night. I have become more confident within myself. I feel smarter and more empowered. I care less about what others think of me. The list goes on...

I could talk for days about how great being Vegan is, but instead I'm going to end this post here and thank everyone I've mentioned in this blog post instead. Without all of you, I might not be the enlightened person that I am today, so THANK YOU!

 
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