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Getting Ready for 2019 – The Year of GOOD ENERGY!

2018 has been the year of ALL AROUND BAD ENERGY.

And it is actually quite surprising to be saying that myself, seeing that I am comparing it to all other years – even the ones that consisted of miscarriage, loss, trauma, major heartbreak, and very scary life-threatening health incidents.

But still, without a doubt, 2018 has been the deadliest. As it’s coming to a close though, I have realized a few things. The reason why this year has been the worst, is because it has consisted of the largest amount of the silent but deadly killer. The subconscious stress that the burden of bad energy and wasted worries – is far worse than any “hard” life event including my miscarriage and other things that definitely were not easy to endure in the past either.

The reason being because of the silent toll that stress takes on the body, health, and mind. 

Though there is no doubt that stressful events are not easy on the those three pillars (body, overall health/wellness, and mind) at any time in life, but there is something extremely dangerous about the constant allowing of toxic energies to deplete our own daily energy allotments.

There is scientific proof (that appears in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology), that provides biological evidence validating the idea that there are positive and negative people in the world. However, even if you are a generally more positive person, being around those who tend to be more negative, can actually destroy you.

And that is because the bad energy created by or rubbed off on us by those all-around negative individuals (and situations in general), takes a toll on the body in the form of conditions like high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, stomachaches, migraines, poor circulation and more. Research has also shown that even just five-minutes of the anger (stress, etc.) you feel from certain situations, environments, or people, is damaging enough to impair your immune system for up to and possibly more than six hours!  Now if we regularly allow these effects of habitual bad energy to penetrate us, that can lead us down the path to more serious problems, like heart attacks, strokes, + more.

Now though science has confirmed that there are brain markers that can distinguish a negative thinker vs. a positive thinker, something that I have learned through personal psychological therapies (highly recommend for everyone regardless of your demeanor), is that nothing is set in stone when it comes to our mental health. I actually am SO committed to highering and protecting my energy now, that I am currently enrolled in BioFeedback Therapy at a Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, SPECIFICALLY to learn ways to re-wire (any and hopefully all) conditioned (throughout life via environment, peers, etc.) habitual thinking that negatively effects my body systems and overall health and wellness.

This Neuroscience approach is opposite of the allopathic approach that merely attempts to deal with symptoms (like anxiety, etc.) with medications, but aren’t actually treating the root causes. Anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, + —are results of physiological changes in the brain!

Surely yes, medication and supplementation of certain chemicals can reduce symptoms, but take those additives away and the processes that create the symptoms still haven’t been cured.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not implementing that all cases of taking medication are bad – definitely not; there are instances where the benefits for SURE outweigh the possible side effects (everyone’s healthcare plan will differ).

For me personally though, this is my journey and plan of action:

1.) Biofeedback therapy in which my brain processing speed, cardiac measures and neuropsychological processes are recorded, studied and then used in implementing neurofeedback by targeting parts of my brain that may not be functioning “properly” or in ways that are NOT creating positive body system effects (like steady blood pressure, cortisol responses, etc.) and instead are creating negative effects (like anxiety and high blood pressure) – essentially I’m training my neurons back to health.

2.) Exactly what I am explaining here in this article: the conscious daily choice of protecting my energy.

As 2018 has been nearing an end though, there have been seemingly daily issues that have been popping up. At one point I was thinking “What is next and when will this stop happening?!?” But what I have come to realize recently is this: These occurrences are popping up here at the end of the year, even more frequently than the obsessive amounts throughout the other parts of 2018; and that is because the storm that has been whipping me around, is finally passing and the tail end is showing that although rough waters were endured, the storm came to clear a path rather than to sink me!

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I honestly keep telling myself this, DAILY. 

And since the mindset started to sink in, I have been blessed with a few things. One being a recent health diagnosis. Though that may seem perplexing to some, the reality is that for someone who deals with chronic issues and symptoms and is fighting for answers, a supplemental diagnosis is actually a blessing. It puts a name to things, but more importantly, it allows healthcare providers who would otherwise shrug off reoccuring symptoms, to actually have some sort of baseline in understanding the patient. Besides all of that, it allows me to hone in on specific research and seeking more specific knowledge to further my health journey and evolve my healing process.

Also. The second blessing was the news that we were granted authority to move (final military move before retirement) and the plan that we wanted to execute, can now be implemented – which allows the best for our family and also enhances the journey of ridding all the BAD ENERGY! *happy dance*

I guess, all in all, my conclusion is that even after the most torrential and damaging rains there comes rainbows – and with extensive hardships comes extensive blessings.

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I have never taken the energy in my life SO SERIOUS. But I am the busiest I have ever been in my life now. And within my duties, I don’t have much extra time for nonsense nor do I have expendable energy for things, people, or situations that are not necessary, do not add to my growth as a human, or wastefully deplete my energy in any way. Before now, I really didn’t take a strong initiative to protect my energy. But after a year like 2018 – IT IS IMPERATIVE.

So in moving forward, before I react or allow myself to become emotional (which leads to negative physiological effects) about a situation (like someone wronging me or just overall bad vibes), I think to myself, “Is this worth the blood pressure elevation and the snowball effect of that stress?!?!” And the answer most always is, “NO. MY HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT.” And my health really IS more important; not only for myself and every day living, but for my family. Because they are my everything and they come first. When I allow someone (even a stranger or just not good vibes) to lower my energy, guess who suffers in return? Not just myself, but my family as well.

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So what else does this mean for the new year?

It means that 2019 is about living as an aligned person.

  • It means disconnecting from anyone and anything that does not align with my energy.
  • It means not feeling bad to say “No.” Whether that is declining a work assignment that doesn’t align with career growth, or even saying “No” to social outings that would cost too much energy. Whatever it is, there is no room nor need for guilt within the ALIGNMENT of making decisions that connect the dots of the plan for a successful journey of an all around positive energy-filled life (and WAY better years to come!)
  • It means only following social media accounts or pages that edify me and that my energy DOES NOT suffer from being inundated with whatever content the influencer shares. It means unfollowing any repeat-offenders of killers of good energy. Time is truly precious, I’ve come to really embrace that, so social media needs to only be used as a tool for my personal growth – so positive influence is all that’s permitted. 
  • It means fully understanding that self-care is NOT selfish, but rather a necessity in order to not deteriorate as a human being with lots of responsibilities (including a family and a healing journey).

Now these objectives might sound as easy to do as they are to simply list here. But, in reality, especially for someone who is prone to anxiety (and working on re-wiring anxious thoughts), it most likely won’t always be easy. But honestly, I wholeheartedly believe that it is worth the commitment.

Overall, I hope that in my openness to share this, that it can perhaps inspire someone else to examine the way in which they take care of their energy, and in return create positive strides towards a healthy alignment in 2019.

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Talk more soon.

x. Heather

P.S. I will share more about my new diagnosis and our upcoming move soon! Stay-tuned.

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Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup Recipe – Easy To Follow!

If you have followed me on social media for a while, then you surely are aware that I am a “spontaneous cook”. Meaning that, I don’t ever follow recipes and I rarely ever write down the steps and ingredients of the meals that I create. Basically, I am a real life “Chopped” cooking show, except it is just me and also, the judges are my family members who can never get rid of me – lol.

But, a recent goal that I made, was to start documenting more of my spontaneous meal creations, especially the ones that I share via Instagram stories and that conclude with a great flavor and lots of interest from my readers/viewers. ;)

So, that is what brings me here. Yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t started making a soup like I had planned, and it was already nearing the time where I am usually half way done with making dinner! But I was still able to whip a soup up in time, and it turned out super delicious.

If you’re here because you watched the Instagram story videos of me making this soup, then I am super excited to share the recipe with you! If you happened to stumble upon this recipe post organically, well I am excited that you’re here too! This recipe makes a creamy butternut squash soup boasting of lemon-garlic flavors and made with coconut milk!

INGREDIENTS/

  • 1 large Butternut Squash
  • 1 can of Organic Coconut Milk (full-fat)
  • 1 tbsp. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or you can use butter if not vegan)
  • 1 head of Garlic
  • 2 Shallots
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 cups of Organic Vegetable Broth
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Aminos (because I don’t use soy sauce)
  • Salt/Pepper (per taste/preference)

DIRECTIONS/

Pre-heat oven to 385. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the large butternut squash on top (whole – do not cut). Then use a small kitchen knife to pierce the butternut squash all over evenly about 5-6 times for venting purposes. Once oven is pre-heated, place the baking sheet with butternut squash in to oven and bake (uncovered) for about 25 minutes.

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While the butternut squash is baking, prep the garlic and shallots by peeling skin and chopping in to minced-size cubes. Heat up your soup pot on stove-top. Once heated, add the extra virgin olive oil (or butter of choice). Then add the chopped shallots + garlic and fry between Low and Medium heat. Once browned, add 1 cup of the organic vegetable broth and deglaze pot. Add Salt and Pepper per taste/preference.

Remove the butternut squash from oven and let cool down for a few minutes. Once able to touch, use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin and discard, then chop ends off (also discard), slice in half and then quarters. Remove and discard the seeds and stringy inside pulp. Chop remainder of butternut squash in to cubes.

Squeeze the whole lemon’s juice (using a citrus press) over top of the garlic-shallot mixture right before adding the butternut squash cubes to the soup pot.  Once the butternut squash cubes are added, higher the stove to Medium heat, and then pour the coconut aminos over top and mix with a large spoon. Then pour the entire can of organic coconut milk (including the top layer of fat) over top, followed by the other 1 cup of vegetable broth, mix well.

Cook on Medium heat until the butternut squash cubes become evenly soft. Once soft, blend the entire contents (mixed well) of the soup pot in a Vitamix or high-powered blender (being careful since hot – or you could cool down for a few minutes first). Once blended, pour back in to soup pot and decide if you want the soup to be less thick, if so – add more vegetable broth as needed until desired consistency is reached. Serve & enjoy!

PRINTABLE (right click to download):

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As always,  make sure to tag me in your creations on social media! (@balancedlifealoha)

 x. Heather

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Unplugged Weekends in Hawaii: VOLUME 1 – Swimming With Sea Turtles

Unplugged Weekends was an idea that Santi & I implemented this year. Part of being a blogger includes sharing your everyday life… but sometimes that can get overwhelming or just simply distracting from being present during quality family time.

So, our unplugged weekends are still somewhat shared, but there’s no pressure to be posting in real-time, on Instagram stories, etc. However, for the sake of documenting our life journey – we still photograph our trips, outings, + adventures for keepsake and to share later on. I hope that you enjoy these snippets from our ohana album!

Also make sure to check out our short YouTube video to see the clips from this experience of swimming alongside Hawaiian sea turtles!

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Until Next Time – Aloha,

 

x. Heather

 

 

Dining at Celebrity Chef Michael Mina’s HAWAIIAN FISH HOUSE – “Mina’s Fish House” Review

Born in Egypt, graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, and with over two decades of culinary influence, Michael Mina is a much-loved, award-winning celebrity chef across the United States (and beyond). He is also a restaurateur and cookbook author. His company, Mina Group, is a restaurant management company that currently manages more than 30 concepts around the world.

What I admire about Michael Mina as a chef, is not only his aspiration to bring food to life, but also in his seeking for BALANCE. Him and his team believe in the beautiful art of balance in flavors. Their four key ingredients?

Acidity, Sweetness, Spice, and Fat.

The balance of these four is what creates Mina’s bold dishes.

With that being said, I cannot speak highly enough about the flavors that I experienced while dining recently at one of his restaurants. Actually, this beautiful spot is Michael Mina’s first and only Fish House!

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If you travel to Hawaii (or live in Hawaii), and want that FRESH line-to-table inspired seafood experience, then Mina’s Fish House is the spot that you need to visit!

The menu features pupus, small plates, a signature Hawaiian seafood tower, whole Hawaiian-style grilled and baked fish dishes, and so much more.

Altogether, service was phenomenal and the warm, handmade flat bread that was brought to our table after being greeted was so tasty it could make your eyes roll back! It was super fresh and also served with complementary spread toppings including a tzatziki sauce, olive tapenade, and homemade hummus – all equally incredible.

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Okay, now on to the drinks: Mina’s Fish House features cocktails that are inspired by the Hawaiian beaches and fresh tropical fruits that are grown here on the island.  Many also have a Tiki theme to them while utilizing flavors like papaya, lilikoi, kiwi, and coconut.

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The bar is at the heart of the Fish House with an acid-washed zinc and custom glazed ‘fish scale’ tiled bar face. Though we admired the design from a far, the drinks served to our table were both strong, tasty, and unique –  like the “Run Home Jack” in a ceramic pineapple and the “If Can, Can” served in a SPAM container:

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Now before I go any further to talk more about the food, let’s pause for a second to appreciate the VIEW!

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Mina’s Fish House offers a unique beachside dining experience with a seamless connection of the interior bar area with the outside open-air dining room. The decor is slightly rustic, yet the calming island vibes make you feel like you are on a 5-star resort vacation.

Beyond the main dining area, there are also multiple exterior decks that ultimately end at the beachside “feet in the sand” dining option.

It’s a definite one-of-a-kind restaurant, even in Hawaii.

Now there are classic fish dishes from Chef Mina’s repertoire offered, but also a daily “Market Catch” menu portion.

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Seeing that our favorite fresh fish is ahi, we had to try the Ahi Tuna Tartare.  Though this plate is a definite signature of Mina’s, it has been reimagined here at his Fish House as a contemporary poke, and it did. not. disappoint!

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In the spirit of balance, we also ordered a salad. The “Marinated Hass Avocado” was a perfected match of creamy fat (avocado) and tangy acid (pickled veggies/mushrooms). I actually want to visit again specifically for this salad and wouldn’t be mad at an extra pound or two of whatever that magical jalapeño dressing that this salad is served on top of…. ohhhh, so dreamy!

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I want to thank Mina’s Fish House for having us, as well as for the sweet birthday surprise dessert in honor of my 28th birthday. My husband and I cannot wait until we visit again!

My Sincerest Aloha,

x. Heather

*DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored, our meal was gifted, but all opinions and thoughts shared are mine alone and completely genuine.

28 Random Facts About Me on My 28th Birthday

If you didn’t read my last year’s article “27 Life Lessons Before My 27th Birthday” – the theme behind these birthday posts stem from basically asking myself before each birthday (since becoming a parent) this question: “If I were sitting down with my kids as adults or teenagers, what would I have to share with them about *this* specific age?”

So, now turning 28 years old, a career-related revelation that most prominently sticks out to me is this:

I am not threatened by other women or other women’s success.  I have been in the blogging world for a couple of years now and have found a way to be inspired by other’s success without allowing myself to feel LESS THAN. This is possible because I possess the understanding that there is only one *ME* and only I can offer what I uniquely do. So, when I feel admiration (towards a blogger or even non-blogger), my genuine desire resides in what their gift can teach me within my own journey of becoming the best version of myself. I mean, everyone is a teacher to someone in some way; but once you allow yourself the title of “life-long student” (or I guess – “student of life”), your personal growth possibilities open up in endless ways!

Alright, enough preaching, now on to the 28 Random Facts About Me on My 28th Birthday:

  1. I have moved 20 different times in my 28 years of life.
  2. I am afraid of outer space. That may sound ignorant, but it just freaks me out and I hate thinking about it. (Still to this day I refuse to watch that space movie, you know the one with Sandra Bullock & George Clooney…)
  3. My right eye is smaller than my left eye.
  4. Also, my right foot is smaller than my left foot.
  5. If I could have any one superpower, it would definitely have to be the ability to speak any and all languages fluently!
  6. I had a 5.0/4.0 GPA in high school (yes, that is possible, because I took AP classes which are college-level). Then in college, I was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Society in graduating with a 3.94/4.0 GPA.
  7. I am NOT a picky eater at all; and pretty much the only two things that I don’t like, are wasabi and fresh mango. I don’t care for the gritty, peppery-taste of fresh mango. Though funny enough, I love dried mango and “mango-flavored” things.
  8. Growing up, as a kid, I was pretty much a “tomboy”, and most of my friends were boys. I loved climbing trees, baiting live worms on my fishing pole, but hated wearing dresses. I also got in to a lot of trouble, like getting hit by a car while racing my bike down a steep hill when I was 5 years old.
  9. Our childhood babysitter had sons, them and my brother would all gang up and throw snowballs (with rocks and jelly inside of them) at me – so I learned to fend for myself at a young age, lol.
  10. Those same boys also pushed me in to the 10-feet-deep end of the swimming pool when I was 4 years old and still learning to swim. But, I basically just started swimming and that’s how that happened…
  11. On the day that my husband and I were waiting to get legally married (yes, we first got married at a courthouse and later had a wedding) we talked about our future kids and chose the names “Bella” and “Niko” in that conversation… and now here we are today with our precious Bella and Niko! :)
  12. I am obsessed with Colombian food. I could eat 4-5 arepas in one sitting, and I won’t even tell you how many buñuelos. My mother-in-law makes THE BEST!
  13. My astrology sign is a Cancer, and although I don’t know too much about the topic, everything that I have read and have been told about my sign is always SO ACCURATE!
  14. My husband’s personality is “INTJ” – basically the polar opposite of mine, LOL! I am an extrovert and my husband is an introvert – we pretty much BALANCE each other out though… for the most part ;)
  15. My most important “love language” is Words of Affirmation. Yup, I am a TOTAL words person.
  16. It may not be apparent, but I have never been one to shy away from confrontation. Though I fully disclose that I have learned over the years that there are times where confrontation should be avoided solely to avoid physical altercations or for other safety reasons… buuuut with that being said, in my younger years, this extroverted way of being, did earn me a bar fight with a girl in college (not proud of that). But now as a mom, my confrontations are things like this: When stopped at a crosswalk in Waikiki (a very crowded city where most people walk) and there is no room to move, but a stranger is smoking a cigarette in front of the group of tons of people and blowing their cancer smoke in our faces (including my kids) then yes, I choose confrontation. Or this: When I witnessed a group of 7 teenagers at the beach smashing GLASS beer bottles on a tree in the sand, yes, all 5-feet of me marched over there to give them a piece of mind and to order them to clean up the shards!
  17. I have never worn my shoes inside my house. Growing up we were not allowed to and that custom followed me in to living on my own, college even, and now my own home.
  18. A HUGE pet peeve of mine is LITTER!!!! I think one of the most disgusting things that a person can do, is throw trash on the ground or litter anywhere for that matter.
  19. On the topic of pet peeves, another disgusting thing in my opinion, is CIGARETTE SMOKING, yuck. I cannot stand the smell!
  20. At this point in my life, it is next to impossible to answer the question of “What is your favorite food?”….because food is life. However, if I was held at gunpoint and told to chose ONE favorite meal/food, it would be LOBSTER (w/ garlic, lemon, butter – – to be exact, haha).
  21. I didn’t eat sushi until I was in college, but now it’s pretty much a staple in my diet.
  22. I started my blog as a hobby and only recently started taking it more serious business-wise.
  23. My favorite delicacy are quail eggs. SO GOOD.
  24. I’m a night person, NOT a morning person. Though now being a parent, I don’t really get a choice, LOL.
  25. I’m obsessed with Japanese hand-painted ceramic and have a small collection of assorted-sized bowls. I think that they are timeless and so beyond beautiful.
  26. My hair is naturally VERY curly, like Shakira curly.
  27. If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be without a doubt, 1-million percent, ANTHONY BOURDAIN. </3
  28. I always knew that I wanted to be a wife and a mother. :)

 

 

Cheers to another trip around the sun!

x. Heather

 

 

 

 

Patacones (Fried Green Plantain) RECIPE

Plantains are VERY versatile. For starters, you can cook with them ripe AND/OR not ripe. And just like bananas, a green peel means that a plantain it is not ripe. There is not much flavor to an unripe plantain, but that is what makes cooking with them super versatile, plus the texture (once a green plantain is fried) is starchy and makes a perfect element for many different meals. On the other hand, once a plantain peel turns dark, almost a brown-black, they are ripe, have a sweet flavor and oftentimes used in dessert-style recipes.

But today I am sharing a recipe for fried green plantains, also popularily known as “patacones” or “tostones”.

We love to eat patacones like you would eat tortilla chips – with salsa (check out my Colombian “Aji” Salsa Recipe – HERE), and also use them as a “bread” or “bun” with meat and steak recipes as well. The texture is so addictively delicious!

INGREDIENTS/

  • 2 Green Plantains (this will make about 15-20 patacones, depending on the size of the plantains that you are using)
  • Avocado Oil for frying
  • Sea Salt to taste

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DIRECTIONS/

  1. Cut the ends off the whole plantains, then slice long-ways and remove the peel.
  2. Slice each plantain in to about 1-inch pieces.
  3. Add enough avocado oil in to a medium-sized pot to cover half the height of the plantain slices, heat on Medium.
  4. Add the plantain slices to the heated avocado oil (single layer) and cook/fry for about 4-5 minutes per side (time will depend on oil temperature, so I usually gauge by the color); flip once the first side submerged in the oil is golden, and then carefully remove once the entire slice is golden.
  5. Place the once-fried plantains on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess avocado oil.
  6. After a few minutes of cooling, place the slices on parchment paper and use a hard flat surface (like a pot cover or plate) to press the plantain slices down firmly to achieve 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. Using tongs, add the plantains back in to the hot oil in a single layer and cook/fry again for about 3-4 minutes each side.
  8. Once crispy, remove the patacones from pot with a slotted spoon and again place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any extra avocado oil.
  9. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  10. Let cool or enjoy warm!

x. Heather

 

PRINTABLE (right click to download):

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BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Kintsugi Wellness. +My Connection to Japanese Culture.

There’s something so fascinating by places and cultures that are SO complex, that even those whose job it is to figure them out, declare them “unknowable”.

Though perplexing, this isn’t a negative aspect… it’s actually wildly beautiful. Anthony Bourdain said this,  “I love Tokyo. If I had to eat only in one city for the rest of my life, Tokyo would be it. Most chefs I know would agree with me. For those with restless, curious minds, fascinated by layer upon layer of things, flavors, tastes and customs which we will never fully be able to understand, Tokyo is deliciously unknowable. I’m sure I could spend the rest of my life there, learn the language, and still die happily ignorant.”

Though specifically regarding the city of Tokyo, I feel that this sentiment spans to the Japanese culture altogether. And it’s, like I said, a beautiful thing.

I’ve been intrigued by Japanese culture for over a decade now. When I first moved to Hawaii, I lived in Waikiki, which is the tourist mecca of O’ahu. I resided smack dab in the center of the beach-city’s hustle and bustle. Amongst that first layer of life that I had, there was the aspect of being submerged in all new strange (read: unfamiliar to me) cultures and people. And if you didn’t know, one of the largest groups of tourists here in Hawai’i, are visitors from Japan. Honestly, I remember that my fascination began specifically with the children. I kid you not, throughout those years that I spent working (in a restaurant) and living daily life amongst Japanese families and strangers alike, I never once, NOT ONCE, witnessed a Japanese child misbehaving in public. And even as a 17, 18, 19-year-old (before becoming a mother was even a blimp on my life radar), that thought would cross my mind constantly! I was so impressed by how Japanese parents didn’t even seem to HAVE TO PARENT, lol! It’s like their children were born with the deepest form of respect for their parents that the reality of “listening” or “behaving” was actually just an instinctive way of being! It’s incredible and as an older, wiser person now (and a mother too) I still am deeply impressed and baffled by it.

Another connection of mine was formed actually in Los Angeles, California. Many are unaware of this, but I spent two semesters of college living in L.A. During that time, I was a full-time legal studies student, but I worked (also full-time) at a retirement community. The full story of my life in California is a long one and to be saved for another article. But during my job working with over 150+ residents all ranging from the ages of 65-95 years old, it was the most unique, toughest, yet rewarding job that I had ever held. In my time there, a lot of the residents took to me as they would their own grandchild. One in particular, still has an imprint on my heart today and will for the rest of my life. She was a Japanese/American who lived through the United States’ Japanese Internment Camps.

The Internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in the western interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific coast. My dear friend “A”, for her 75th birthday, was interviewed by a major publication and bravely told her story of being just a child when her business-owning parents were forced to give up all that they owned and along with their children, leave their home to go “live” in isolated camps – a direct response to Pearl Harbor. I won’t get in to politics here, but the tears that she shed and the way that her lean, yet strong 75-year-old body (she exercised every single day even in her 70’s) trembled while she told her haunting memories of that kind of childhood, are burned in to my memory forever. Remarkably enough, she followed with extrodinary triumph of thereafter creating a wildly successful life proceeding the War and the rest of her life altogether. Her story deeply impacted my soul and the way that I viewed my (just) beginning adult journey.

So beside witnessing the unique Japanese children behavior and forming a bond with a dear elderly friend, I also made Japanese friends who were my same age. That was on campus at Hawai’i Pacific University. Funny story, one of those HPU friends, was the first person to ever introduce all-things Japanese food in to my life. I remember him being wildly/borderline obsessed with SEAWEED, and how perplexing that first was to me (seaweed for breakfast – say what?! lol). I mean, I was raised in the Midwest (of the United States) and never before moving to Hawaii did I think that eating seaweed regularly would ever be on my plate! But being an extrovert, open-hearted and wildly curious to try new things – I WAS ALL ABOUT IT. I remember an old friend from high school that visited me in those first years of my budding worldly-influenced life, she was flabbergasted by my new beloved and regular diet that consisted of RAW FISH,  SUSHI RICE, SEAWEED, and everything else fully enjoyed with chopsticks. :)

To even further the story of my immersion, there was my actual academic studies. In one of my college classes at Hawaii Pacific, I had a Japanese/American Literature Professor who talked a lot about internal peace, the samurai, premodern Japan, and the history of the Edo Period. Now being someone who grew up with a U.S. Army Veteran for a dad, who was also an Airborne Ranger/Paratrooper (light infantry who jumped out of airplanes), any and all types of “Warrior” systems, always sparked interest in me.

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Now although I have only briefly stepped foot in Japan (as a stop on my way to India – pictured above), I remember noticing how exceptionally clean and organized even the airport was!

 

BOOK SPOTLIGHT/

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Needless to say, Candice Kumai, the chef and author of “KINTSUGI WELLNESS” – today’s Book Spotlight, is someone whom I deeply respect and that truly inspires me.

In Japanese culture, “Kintsugi” or “Kintsukuroi” (金繕い) is an art form that reconstructs broken pottery, sealing the pieces together with gold to create something that is even more beautiful for all of its cracks and flaws (hence the stunning cover design of this book).

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So in Candice’s “KINTSUGI WELLNESS”, she uses the practice of this art form and demonstrates how it can be applied to basically all aspects of our everyday life – to in return, yield radiant health and overall wellbeing!

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According to Google Books, “The philosophy of kintsugi is not about perfection – it is about healing, becoming whole, and finding the beauty in our imperfections. Written in Candice’s warm, conversational style and filled with more than seventy-five gorgeous full-color food and lifestyle photos, KINTSUGI WELLNESS offers readers the tools to mend what ails them and to embrace and celebrate what makes them unique.”

Even more astonishing, is the fact that Candice herself, wrote, photographed, directed and produced this book!!! I don’t know about you, but that story alone is enough to intrigue me. I mean, it’s a work of art straight from her heart sharing her unique voice – offered to the world, with only the motive of bettering it!balancedlifealoha.com

In regards to the three years that it took her to produce this beautiful book, she shared:

“You see, I was writing in a very crowded wellness space, and as one of the original pioneers in this space, I decided it was time to walk away. I wasn’t going to play small or basic.

My grandmother then, was passing away in Japan, an unfit relationship ended, I wasn’t happy with writing “basic” or “clickbait”.

I needed to heal, to love to grow… I needed to go deep, and seal my past wounds. I needed to shine my brightest light, and stop being so afraid…

I want you to know– most of my career I have been scrutinized + criticized– being a public person is not easy. I never cared to be in the spotlight… rather, I want my work to shine (kaizen) + to help others:) (osettai) and that is all. Writing + creating content with integrity is how I have been able to do this.

I urge us all to let up on ourselves and one another. Yes, you will see imperfections in my work + my friends, that is what I am currently learning to let go of… Wabi sabi. Be gentle with thyself and others.”

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So my friends, thank you for reading this article, not only was I able to storytell my own connection to this book, what it is about, and the culture in which it stems from – but it also gave me a chance to share the beautiful soul that is Candice Kumai. If you haven’t “met” her yet, take a peek at her website: candicekumai.com, her Instagram, @candicekumai, or even more so, connect with her NEW PODCAST on “HOW TO SELF-LOVE and SELF MAKE IT!” here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wabi-sabi-perfectly-imperfect-podcast-candice-kumai/id1388130977?mt=2

 

Lots of Love and Light,

x. Heather

 

CLICK TO BUY THE BOOK/

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The Best Place for Smoothies, Tea, & Boba on O’ahu: BOBA CAFE!

Boba Tea, Bubble Tea, Pearl Tea, Milk Tea, Tapioca Tea – there’s a long list of name variations, but most popularly used is just – BOBA.

Now for those of you who have no idea what boba is… let me give you the low down:

“Boba” originated in Taiwan but has gained popularity in the United States (and pretty much all around the world now too). But what exactly is boba?  Those chewy black balls that you see at the bottom of drinks are made from tapioca; which is a gluten-free starch derived from the root of cassava plants. The texture is smooth and the consistency is like a ball of firm jelly or gummy candy.

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But if I had to put it simply, they are like little stress balls that you can eat! LOL. At least that is the effect that a nice cold tea with boba offers me. :)

MY RECOMMENDATION:

So, if you find yourself on the west side of O’ahu, or if you’re just dedicated to REALLY good boba (like I am) and willing to drive to it… YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO VISIT Boba Cafe — I kid you not, the best that I have ever had. I’m beyond obsessed and you can rest assured with this recommendation because I have pretty much tried every boba shop on this island.

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The Boba Cafe Ohana have become a special part of my family and I’s life over the past year and I am so beyond happy to share the magic that they create, with all of my readers now too! Though out of respect for the privacy of the owners of this beloved cafe, I won’t share any personal details, but I will tell you this: rest assured, in supporting this small business, you are choosing wisely. Not only is their boba simply the best (I’m talking texture, flavor, everything 100%!) but also, you are supporting extremely hardworking, committed, and genuinely good people!

 

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How Niko feels about BOBA CAFE^

DRINK OPTIONS/

The growing boba culture is slightly comparable to the coffee culture. Boba drink variations are endless. There is, how I drink it, the tea-based boba.  Then there is the milk option, the powder and other flavorings, and then there are toppings — which can be as standard as the tapioca pearls or something even sweeter, like lychee jelly.

Boba Cafe goes even further than that though, with their extensive list of fresh fruit options, speciality smoothies, and even their “Secret Menu” that you can only find via their Instagram page!

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If it’s tea that you’re craving – they’ve got you covered. If it’s coffee, also covered. Fruit smoothie, covered. A super customizable drink of your dreams, covered. Milkshake-style, covered. Slushy, covered. The best part of it all though, is their consistency. I’ve never once received a drink that wasn’t to my liking. I have recently started to venture out past my “regular” drink option, but even in priorly ordering the same drink for nearly a year – EVERY SINGLE TIME it was a 10/10. There is simply no other tea house, cafe, coffee shop, or boba place that matches what Boba Cafe serves up.

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WHAT I GET/

  • Passionfruit Green Tea, Unsweetened. w/ Extra Boba.

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WHAT THE KIDS GET/

on special occasions

  • Bella’s Special (Strawberry Birthday Cake Smoothie with Ice Cream + the works)
  • Niko’s Special (Fresh Pineapple, Honeydew Smoothie w/Li Hing Mui)

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LOCATION/

balancedlifealoha.com

 

This is in no way sponsored, all opinions shared are mine. It’s a legitimate obsession of mine, so obviously I have to share – Enjoy!

 

x. Heather

 

 

Colombian Style SALSA (Ají) Recipe

Salsa is a sauce typically used as a dip (eaten with chips) and most often is tomato-based incorporating ingredients like onions, jalapeños or other peppers, and herbs.

There are endless styles of salsa and even within specific regions, each person’s recipe can differ. The recipes for “ají” or “salsa de ají picante” are no different. The first time I tried this universal condiment (Colombian style) was at a roadside restaurant in the mountains of Medellin – the capital of the Colombian province, Antioquia. It spoke to my tangy-loving palate on a soulful level.  From that moment, I knew that I had to create my own version!

This tasty, fresh Colombian style salsa can be made either mild or picante (spicy). It greatly compliments grilled meats, tostones, empanadas, or even just tortilla chips. In our household we basically put it on everything – even eggs! Some may create their ají as a smooth (by using a food processor) sauce, but we prefer it chunky-style.

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Ingredients/

  • 2 diced roma tomatoes
  • 2 diced green tomatoes
  • 1 diced/seeded jalapeño
  • 1.5 cups chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion (optional – I only add this sometimes)
  • 1.5 cups chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1 small lime’s juice
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder (omit if you add/use the chopped white onion)
  • 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt/powder

Directions/

  1. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the roma/green tomatoes, jalapeño, green/white onions and cilantro.
  2. Add the salt, lime juice, and vinegar. Mix and let sit for a few minutes.
  3. Then add the garlic powder, onion powder (only if you don’t use the chopped white onion), black pepper, chili powder, paprika, parsley flakes, celery salt/powder. Mix.
  4. Add the avocado oil and mix again.
  5. Then slowly start pouring in the water and mix until desired consistency (may need more or less).
  6. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before serving.
  7. Store in air-tight container for up to 7 days in refrigerator.

x. Heather

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PRINTABLE (right click to download):

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The Mother’s Day Guide to NOT Being a Perfect Parent.

Ever since I first became a mom, I have constantly dealt with (consciously and subconsciously) pressure to be the “perfect” mother.

Today’s society seemingly holds us at unreal standards and the parenting world can be both cutthroat and hostile. I mean, there’s a debate about pretty much EVERYTHING that we do… Fertility Treatments or Natural Conception. Perinatal Testing or No Testing At All. Sonograms or No Sonograms. Gender Reveal or Surprised at Birth. Pregnancy Announcing or Privacy Only. C-Section or Vaginal Birth. Home Birth or Hospital Birth. Pain Meds or All-Natural Delivery. Mid-wife or Conventional Obstetrician. Surrogacy or Carrying Your Own Child. No Children if Unable to Carry or Adoption. Circumcision or Uncut. Breastfed or Formula-fed. Single Parenting or Couple Parenting. Gay Parents or Straight Parents. Stay-at-home Mom or Working Mom. Co-sleeping or Alone in Crib. Spanking or No Spanking. Sleep Training or Cry-it-Out Method. Pre-school or Home-schooling. Organic Food or Not Organic Food. Vaccines or No Vaccines.  Fast-food or No Fast-Food. Sleep Overs or No Sleep Overs. Public School or Private School. Candy or No Candy. And the lists continues…

Then, additionally nipping at our heels, can be the misunderstanding from family or friends who don’t practice the ideal that is “EVERY PARENTING STYLE AND CHILD DIFFERS”. Furthermore, you add on the 50 lb. backpack of pure judgement from other parents or even audacious non-parents, coupled with the ridicule that some cold-hearted pediatricians spew from their mouths. All of it can collectively create a very heavy strain on any mother’s wellness.

HOWEVER, one day in the shower (this is where most of my epiphanies occur), I mentally came to a turning point in my motherhood journey – which was the harsh reality of that idealized “perfect mother” conception — it doesn’t actually make me a better mother, but rather only takes away from the overall joy that comes along with being a mother!

And what’s even more sad about this, is that I think most of us (already outstanding) mothers feel that pressure on a daily basis. It sneaks its’ way in to and through the everyday trials and triumphs of watching our children grow and learn, and even in to the growing journey of ourselves within it all!

I mean, we can read all of the self-help parenting tool books that exist, but the truth is that there is no PERFECT mother!

WHAT THERE SURELY IS THOUGH:

There is the mother who SHOWS UP, who offers unconditional support, and shows unconditional love. Who instinctively knows and DOES exactly what their children need of them. I’m talking about the things that you can’t read in a self-help book, find throughout an online mom forum, or even be “instructed” by a pediatrician! The stuff that God instills within you, the  magic that was given to you when He decided to bless you with the miracle that is children altogether. You were chosen to be a mother.

So I think its time for us (I know it definitely is for me), to release the chains that the “perfection pressure” has had on us and our mental/overall wellbeing. Instead of trying to be a perfect mother or better-than mother, or having all the right answers, or overcoming the shocking actions of our children sometimes – lets just focus on being the parents that our kids NEED US TO BE.

Every child’s needs will differ, but that’s part of the journey and fun of the wild ride, am I right?! Who’s in this with me?! Let’s banish the pursuit of perfection  and just be free to be fully present and loving! For that is what creates happy children.

*side-note: please don’t be judgmental, I’m not saying that just being present and loving is all that it takes to raise good kids, I’m not telling you how to be your child’s mother.. I’m simply raising the awareness that you DON’T need to feel the pressure of being “perfect”. My offering is the idea of listening and observing what our children’s behaviors tell of behind the scenes.. because THAT is a fruitful pursuit. 

Aside from my freeing ideology here, I also want to, in celebration of Mother’s Day,  give a shout-out to the most hardworking mothers that I’ve ever met. Those two being my own mom, and my mother-in-law; I Love You both so much, and want to thank you for allowing me to be the mother that I was uniquely destined to be.

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& HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL OF YOU TOO/

moms.

 

Sending love to all you mamas out there!

x. Heather

 

P.S. I get frequently asked about my favorite motherhood and/or child-related products. FINALLY, you can CLICK HERE to find my essentials!