August 20, 2016

La Mer | A Seaside Photography Project

Our lovely apartment's fresh white walls make displaying our favourite artwork and photography a breeze. It especially sets off the newest addition to our collection, a minimalistic and serene vignette of the ocean.

I first saw this concept while browsing Club Monaco of all places! I fell in love with its simplicity and knew it would look wonderful in our apartment. I took this quick snapshot to use as reference.

At first I searched the Internet for the artist or for anyone who made a similar piece but without luck. So I went onto Soceity6 a print website that features thousands of artist's and photographer's work and found this similar print. It was fairly inexpensive, about $30 for a 17"x17" print. Once it was delivered I brought it to my local framers who are this sweet Korean couple on Lonsdale called Metro Art and Frame. They saw my vision and did an amazing job at helping me achieve this look. They cut a perfect circular mat which just sets off the print beautifully.

I have yet to find the perfect place to hang it. I'm considering placing it above my desk so that I can look up and feel as if I'm gazing out a window or a ship's porthole. It really creates a calm and peaceful atmosphere.


August 12, 2016

Matcha | Latte and Energy Bite Recipe

While in Kyoto with my husband on my first trip to Japan back in 2013, I was lucky enough to experience Koicha prepared in the traditional Japanese way.  Koicha is matcha powder mixed with a traditional bamboo whisk in hot water until it creates a thick and viscous sweet tea. This was the moment that cemented my love for this unique flavour, and for the rest of the trip I was trying anything and everything Matcha! You can watch a short video from our trip on my YouTube channel, where you can see me sipping the matcha from a chawan (shallow tea bowl) for the first time! 

Besides the delicious and silky smooth taste that Matcha provides, it is also packed with tons of health benefits! Essentially, Matcha is stone ground green tea leaves. So when you drink it, you're ingesting the entire leaf and all of its nutrients. That's why it's really important to buy high quality organic Matcha so that you avoid consuming any fertilizers or pesticides. It's also ideal to store your Matcha in an air tight tin away from light to avoid oxidization which can ruin the flavour and nutrients. Matcha is an amazing source for antioxidants. A shot of Matcha has 10 times the amount of antioxidants than a cup of good quality brewed green tea. It's also full of vitamins and minerals and is the highest source of caffeine in any tea. It can boost your energy, creativity, and attention span without the jittery side  effects coffee can cause. 

I newly discovered a fantastic YouTube channel called Chinaljfe Tea House. The host is a tea buyer from Britain and he travels across Asia visiting tea plantations. He's a wealth of knowledge and has really opened my eyes to the whole experience of tea! So to learn more about matcha please watch his video "Everything you need to know about Matcha". 

Now I'm going to share with you two of my favourite Matcha recipes that are easy, healthy and delicious! 

Matcha lattes were a weakness of mine from the popular big name cafes in my neighbourhood. But I came to realize that most cafes just pump shots of "green tea syrup" into their lattes. So I've figured out how to make my own to enjoy at home or bring to work in a thermos. It has even been a great way to save a few dollars each day. Because I prefer cashew milk, it always bumps up the price of my order to over $5! Yikes! 

First I start by heating a small amount of unsweetened cashew milk in a small bowl. With a handheld frother, I whisk the cashew milk and slowly add in 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder. (This prooved to be very difficult to do while trying to balance looking through a camera lens and whisking simultaneously... It was a huge green mess at one point!
I like to add a squeeze of honey to slightly sweeten it, but this is optional.
Then when it's fully dissolved, I'll heat up a mug of cashew milk about half full. Then I'll pour the bowl of matcha into the mug and whisk again. 
You end up with this beautiful frothy latte that I think tastes even better than most cafe versions! Plus it's way healthier because you're swapping the artificial syrups for a tiny amount of honey. 

My next recipe was inspired by one of my favourite bloggers and cookbook authors, Deliciously Ella! These are a Matcha spin on her Energy Bites. 

First you want to blitz a half a cup of raw nuts in your food processor. I like to use a mix of cashews, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts. So use whatever you have on hand! Then add a teaspoon or two of Matcha powder and blitz again. You'll end up with this beautiful vibrant green mixture!
Then take 12 Medjool dates and remove the pits and then roughly chop them up so that it's easier to blend in the food processor. Blitz them separately until they're smooth. Then slowly add in the nut mixture until fully combined. 
With your hands scoop out small amounts and roll them into balls and place them on a plate lined with wax paper. Pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes to set. Then you can store them in the fridge. 

They make for the perfect pick me up snack, or if you're really craving chocolate, this is a great healthy and raw alternative. Eating them cold is really satisfying on a hot summer day too! 

Please let me know if you try either of these recipes and/or if you know of another good one I should try!

August 06, 2016

West Coast Picnic | Belcarra B.C.

Summer in Vancouver this year hasn't been particularly warm and sunny, but we've tried to not let that dampen our weekend plans. Shinji bought a local hiking book and picked Belcarra, an area that neither of us had been to despite it being only a 45 minute drive from our apartment.

Shinji packed us a picnic and we hiked for an hour and a half through the woods until we came to this  lovely little spot called Jug Island Beach. Despite the foggy weather, it was still nice to see many other people had the same idea. There were other picnicking couples, kayakers, a few dogs and a day camp of children who we shared the beach with. The west coast is such a gorgeous place to live, it never ceases to amaze me with it's beautiful scenery!

If you're curious about other local Vancouver day trips, you should check out my best friend's blog - WanderLove Laura, where she purely writes about her awesome adventures from around home and abroad! 
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