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Goal of the month: August

This month I challenged myself to play the guitar every day, even if it was for only a couple of minutes (every little bit counts, right!?). :P I have to point out that I wasn’t completely new to the instrument and being a pianist myself, I have a pretty good understanding of music to begin with. My dad’s a guitarist so I’ve learnt the basics before.

Challenging myself to play each day of the month gave me the chance to strengthen my fingers where they were weak before and develop healthy calluses on the tips of my fingers. Take a look at how I went in my week to week break down.

Week One

During the first week I managed to play almost every day of the week. I missed a day when I got home later than usual and the footy was on. :P I hadn’t chosen a song to focus on yet so I played a couple of things I could remember from years back. I also worked on developing the strength in my fingers to hold bar chords which if you’re new to guitar is incredibly hard to do! Other than that I just had fun playing guitar again.

Week Two

I decided to learn one of my old favourite acoustic songs For You I Will by the incredibly talented and insanely gorgeous Teddy Geiger. I learnt the chords one afternoon and focused on getting used to changing between them. The hardest part for me was the strumming. It’s not that I don’t have good coordination between my hands, but something about strumming is hard for me to get used to. :P

Week Three

During the third week I got a little lazy with the practice. I actually ended up playing piano more than guitar during the week. I played three times in total and practiced only the song I chose to learn. The strumming got a little easier, but I’m not perfect by any means!

Week Four

During the last week of August I was busy with uni assignments, work and birthdays so I played a grand total of twice. I was surprised that I hadn’t gotten worse over the last couple of weeks. I really haven’t improved much since the second week but I’m pretty close to perfecting the song. (That may or may not have been a bit of an exaggeration ;) )

I was amazed at how easy it is to learn a song on guitar at a very basic level. It just goes to show that a little practice really does go a long way. I’m going to try and keep playing until I perfect the song, and if I do, I’ll record it for you guys to hear. Don’t hold your breath though! This is going to take me a while haha. :P

Come back next month when I’ll be challenging myself to wear a different hairstyle every day. This is going to be pretty challenging for someone who is content with a simple pony tail most of the time!

What did you achieve this August?
Have you got any goals to reach before the end of September? Let me know! :)

Ash
xx

Mercure Hotel

Reviewed: Mercure Auckland Hotel

If you’re after cheap accommodation in Auckland without sacrificing the comfort of staying in a 4 star hotel, Mercure Hotel is where it’s at! Located in the heart of Auckland city, the hotel makes for the perfect accommodation choice for those holidaying on a bit of a budget.

However, that all depends on whether or not you’re able to find the hotel to begin with. The Mercure Hotel is (or at least was back in 2013) split into two different buildings. One located on Custom Street and the other on Queen Street where, according to Google, is where Park Regis is now.

Regardless, I will review the hotel which my boyfriend and I stayed at during our week long trip to Auckland in July of 2013 (that’s the one on Queen Street just to clarify :P ). For a standard double room, complete with a mini bar fridge, bathroom, access to the pool and gym, and coffee and tea facilities, you’re looking at spending around $129. Oh I almost forgot to mention, the Wifi is FREE!

Our double bed was more like a queen and very comfortable and the room was incredibly spacious. We didn’t have any wardrobes to hang our clothes in, but we did have extra lounge chairs and a desk. We stayed in winter and there were draws filled with extra blankets to keep us warm.

The hotel is located on a main road in the city but it isn’t as loud as you’re probably thinking. The hotel is also located right near Britomart train station and multiple bus stops, but with everything in such close proximity you’ll often end up walking anyway. It’s really quite easy to get around.

The staff at the hotel were always accommodating and offered great advice on what to do in the city. Mercure Auckland Hotel is also a great option if you’re planning on going on any day trips. Most coaches will offer a pick-up and drop-off service. As if being located in the middle of the city wasn’t enough!

The only downside to the hotel , other than it being split into two different buildings, was that the front doors off the main street often attracted people begging for money, making it hard to get in and out with all of our shopping and suitcases.

I give Mercure Auckland  Hotel three stars.

3 stars

 


Mercure Auckland Hotel

8 Customs Street East
1010 Auckland
New Zealand

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Winter Snack: Warm Cinnamon Apple Chips

Here in Sydney winter is almost at an end but the cool weather is still hanging around for another month. Feel like you’re hibernating on all the wrong food? I know as well as anyone how tough it is to get your 2 fruits in a day during the cooler months.

Enter your new favourite winter snack.

If you’ve ever had a hot apple pie then you know that warm apples are delicious! But it’s the end of winter and with summer just around the corner you want to watch what you’re eating, right? Well I have the perfect recipe for you!

This snack is great if you’re craving something sweet, or if you’re after a healthy treat for dessert.

What you’ll need:

1x medium apple
1x tsp cinnamon
1x tsp brown sugar (optional)

What to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan forced)
  2. Wash your apple and take the core out. I used an apple corer but you can use a knife as well. Once the core has been removed, turn the apple to the side and cut it into little donut- shaped chips. Try and get them as even as possible so that they cook at the same speed.
  3. Place the apple slices on a tray lined with aluminium foil and dust them lightly with cinnamon and a little brown sugar if you’re making this for dessert!
  4. Bake for around 15-20 minutes. This will depend on how thick you cut your apple slices. You don’t want the apple to dry out, just cook through and melt the sugar!
  5. Enjoy! :)
Step 3. Yes one of my apple chips broke apart :P

Step 3. Yes one of my apple chips broke apart :P

The apple chips will still have a little crunch in them, making it a great alternative to plain ol’ potato chips.

What do you like to top your apples with?
Have a favourite winter snack?  Let me know! :)

Ash
xx

photo credit: pullip_junk via photopin

A Game of Thrones V Game of Thrones [NO SPOILERS]

Note: There are no spoilers in this blog post, I promise!

Ok so I was a little late at joining the Game of Thrones book club, but I did it eventually. Better late than never right?! :P I recently finished the final book in the series and I can honestly say that the books are SO worth taking the time to read through! They’re amazing and one question that I always get asked is: which is better, the book or the show?

I loved the books but that’s not to say that the show is any worse because I’ve read them. I love watching the show just as much. I really think people should stop comparing the two and choosing between them because they are two completely different stories in a way. Here me out.

The book series is the original series, yes, and they are amazing but so is the show. The show throws in its own story lines, changes up character plots and even alters the deaths and lives of some extra characters because in some cases it needs to do that. The show has a lot more graphic drama shall we say? Ok, the deaths are more gruesome. But without it I don’t think it would appeal to as many people as it does now. Both the show and the book tell an amazing story that involves lies, death, deceit and dragons. Oh! And plenty of sex. What more could you want!?

If you’re a fan of the show and you enjoy a good book I would definitely recommend reading the books. They’re a great series and George R.R Martin is an amazing author! You really do get sucked into another world.

Warning: You may experience trouble returning back to reality while reading this book.
I may have had a few close calls on the train, missing my station because I was so deep in the book I completely shut the outside world off. But if that’s the kind of book and adventure you’re into, it’s great!

If you’re a book lover and you haven’t watched the show I would recommend getting on top of that too! (This is kind of starting to sound like an advert for Game of Thrones now… :P ) The show brings to life the characters in the most accurate way possible and the story lines stick to the book until the end of the second season. Don’t worry though, they don’t get any worse or any better. They’re just as awesome as the others!

Are you a fan of both the book and the show?
Heard the rumours of a Game of Thrones movie? What do you think? Let me know! :)

Ash
xx

Angus! :)

Goal of The Month: JULY

This month I challenged myself to walk my dog every single day. I usually only walk him of a weekend because I think I’m too busy during the week. As it turned out, I could usually find enough time to walk him of an evening, despite the cold. On evenings when it was cool and windy he would remind me that the challenge wasn’t just for me, it was for him too.

As an older dog it’s important that he keeps moving, so that’s what we both did, well, most of the time. :P

Week one

The first week started off well. Still on uni holidays I was able to walk Angus every day. On days that I worked we walked of a night. Despite the cold both Angus and myself were eager to get outside and walk around, not for as long as during the day mind you. We were never quite that eager! :P

 Week two

During the second week of July I got sick. Typical, I know! And as a result we didn’t walk during the night which meant walks after work were a no-go. We missed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On the bright side it was also raining on those days which made it a lot easier to skip and made me feel a little less guilty about it! ;)

Week three

During the third week my parents took up tennis and I joined in. Working full time meant that I had to choose between a walk with Angus or tennis of a night. Unfortunately we missed out on our Monday, Tuesday and Thursday walks. We did walk further on the weekend to try and make up for them. That’s got to be worth some credit, right?

Week four

The final week was tough. Uni went back on Monday and I still had work during the week. We ended up walking half the week, which isn’t too bad considering how busy I got.  I’ve told Angus I’ll make it up to him next week. :)

I think challenging myself to walk Angus every day has made me realise that getting outside and doing something during the cooler months isn’t as hard as I thought. I must admit though, I really can’t wait for spring and daylight savings to come back! They definitely make the perfect dog-walking combo.  This is a challenge I’ll definitely be trying to keep up!  :)

Next month I’ll be trying to play guitar at least once a day. I’m a pianist but I’ve taught myself guitar in the past. My ultimate goal is to learn a whole song by the end of the month.

I’m open to suggestions!

What did you achieve in July?
Challenging yourself in August? Let me know! :)

Ash
xx

photo credit: m01229 via photopin cc

Something We Can All Relate To

Let’s face it, Facebook can get pretty depressing sometimes. With the endless holiday snaps, celebratory statuses and the chances of being blocked by someone you’ve known your whole life, it’s easy to see why.

There have been countless studies that have shown what kinds of emotional effects the social media site can have, but seeing it like this makes it just a little more easy to understand why it’s an easy trap to fall into.

Take 5 minutes out to watch the video below. It might make you think twice about logging on to Facebook so often.

What’s On Your Mind?

What’s your opinion of Facebook? Let me know! :)

Ash
xx

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Diabetic-Friendly Peanut Butter Cups

I cannot stress enough how amazing these little treats really are! The recipe is so simple you’ll find yourself making them as soon as you’ve read how to. They’re a great dessert treat or guilt-free sweet snack for a diabetic or anyone looking for a low sugar option.

What you’ll need:

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons honey or agave
2 Tablespoons organic peanut butter (you can use any nut butter or peanut butter of your choice)

What to do:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Once everything is nicely combined, tip the mixture into any mould. I went with a cupcake tray to make them look like peanut butter cups but you can use any shape and size. The thinner you make them, the quicker they set.
  3. Cool in the fridge for an hour.
  4. Enjoy! :)

Yep. It’s that simple! The cups are really gooey and really dense so you’ll find you will only eat one at a time.

*Tips: If you’re not a fan of peanut butter cups you can swap that for anything really. I made some fruit and nut cups by removing the peanut butter and replacing it with raisins and crushed nuts.
The chocolate will start melting pretty quickly so keep them in a container in the fridge.

This has easily become my favourite chocolate recipe! Let me know if you give it a go! :)

What’s your favourite sugar-free snack?

Ash
xx