Powered by Blogger.

Stir Fried Tofu & Broccoli | Recipe

I love any dish that's quick and easy, and I'm sure you guys all know that too based on my previous recipes. This one is so simple and was done in under 30 minutes, and I'm so happy with how it turned out!

Tofu is a big part of my diet now and because it's cheap and available everywhere, I'm able to eat it as much as I want! 

This recipe can include any vegetables you'd like, I just used what looked good at the market that day and it happened to be broccoli and bok choy. 

Now, I didn't use any measurements, I did this all by eye so I'll give rough estimates of what I used!

You'll need:
2.5 cup cooked tofu
1 cup broccoli
1 head of bok choy
2 cloves of garlic
1 green chili
1tbsp oyster sauce
1.5 tbsp light soy sauce
1.5 tbsp ketchup
Black pepper

Now onto the recipe!

First of all, if you can't find pre-cooked tofu, then half a block is fine. Over here, tofu is sold pre-fried so that's just what I get. If you're using the block, then first squeeze as much water out by putting a weight on top of it, like a can of beans, for 30 minutes.

Chop it into cubes and coat in some corn flour to get it crispy once you fry. Frying it is so simple, just heat a bit of oil in a pan and place your tofu pieces in there and cook until they're brown on all sides. Then drain them on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil and set aside.

Now, boil your broccoli and bok choy for around 3 minutes, just until the broccoli is cooked through but still crunchy. Drain out any excess water and begin frying in a bit of oil with your chopped garlic and chili. If you don't like spice, then you can leave it out!

Fry for 2 minutes, then add your soy sauce, oyster sauce and ketchup and mix together. Add in your cooked tofu and a splash of water to make it a bit more soupy. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste.

Mix everything together about a minute and then you're done! You can add more water if you don't want it too dry, or you can leave it the way it is. I've seen some recipes that call for sugar, honey or syrup, but I think ketchup adds that sweetness just fine too!

Serve it with rice and you've got yourself a meal!

I'll see you in the next one!

What I've Been Listening To Lately

I've been walking around with my earphones a lot more in recent days. Everything I do requires either background music or a podcast to make the mundane a little less so, so I wanted to share what I've been enjoying recently.

Ariana has always been known to me as an amazing singer but I didn't listen to her myself until Sweetener dropped, and I just haven't stopped listening to it. The album is everything I love; RnB, mellow yet still upbeat, and paired with her vocals, it's the perfect album.

I've also been enjoying Dangerous Woman (undoubtedly her best album!) and her recent single 7 rings. I'm seriously looking forward to her new album! Now that I've listened to her music, I'm wondering why I didn't this whole time!

iKON are a south Korean boy group and they have a mix of great vocalists and even better rappers. Their album Return from last year is still one of my favourites and I still listen to it almost weekly.

Their latest single "I'm OK" prompted me to delve deeper into all of their music, and I love it all! When an artist has albums with not one song I want to skip, I love them even more and iKON certainly have that factor.

Hebe is a Chinese singer who has albums upon albums that I have not yet dived into. There's just too many! 

I love her songs Day by Day and Learning From Drunk, and I recently listened to her album My Love, and the title track is so reminiscent of 2000 British pop music for some reason. Listening to Chinese artists is helping me bit by bit with learning more words and it's a fun way to learn the language too!

I get Vix's Exciting Emails newsletters in my inbox and when she decided to drop a podcast I was all for it! I love learning more about blogging and how I can take it to the next level and learning more of her story is so inspiring.

This podcast by Todd Henry is really inspiring and motivating and all of that good stuff. I really learn something new each episode that I try to use in my daily life.

Seriously one to listen to if you need a hit of inspiration!

I watched a ToThe9s Q&A on a whim; I've heard of their channel but never really watched them but for some reason I was just drawn to watch this video. I'm so glad I did, because they mentioned this podcast and now I can't stop listening to it myself!

I've listened to a few sermons now and they're so positive and uplifting, I download them and listen when I'm cleaning or out for a walk. I really feel like this came into my life at the perfect time.

Started by two of my favourite bloggers Lily Pebbles and Anna Newton, I distinctly remember fist bumping the air when I read that they were starting a podcast together.

I fell off listening to it for a while, but catching up with all the episodes I've missed has been so much fun! I especially love the episodes with Clemmie Hooper and Patricia Bright.

What have you been listening to lately?

Photo: Unsplash

Experiencing Cultural Shock In China

Living in a country halfway across the world is definitely going to bring some cultural differences. Some are good, some are bad, and all of them are certainly interesting.

I've lived in China for 5 months now, and as soon as I stepped off the plane, there were some differences I noticed that were so different to both Zambia and the UK. As the months have gone on, I've noticed how so many things are different over here compared to anywhere else, and I want to share them with you!

The first thing I've noticed is that phones are absolutely everywhere and it's impossible to escape. Over in England, there's a whole thing with young people being on their phones too much but over here, everyone is doing it, from teenagers to grandparents.

It's so strange entering a bus or the subway and seeing everyone (not exaggerating) with their heads bent down scrolling on their phones. It's makes me think about how different our cultures are and what counts as acceptable too.

The next thing is that if you're visibly foreign, you're gonna get stared at A LOT, and have your photo taken for good measure. I've only ever been intensely stated at in some areas of the UK, but this is a whole new level. Imagine walking outside and having everyone stop what they're doing, start pointing, whispering, and whipping their phones out to start recording you. It's so overwhelming!

Usually it doesn't bother me; I can go through the day and it won't phase me but when I'm upset about something or not in the best of moods it bothers me a lot. If you're ever in China, be prepared for that.

Another thing is that queue jumping is totally normal here. For someone who grew up in the UK, having someone push in front of me in the queue lowkey ticks me off, but here it's a totally normal thing. Don't be surprised when you suddenly end up at the back of the queue when you were so close to the front, or if people physically push you out of the way, especially older people. That's just how the culture is here and no matter how annoying it is, I've learned to adapt and jump back in place!

Having no cold water is another thing different about China. People here prefer drinking warmer water, even in summer because it's healthier for you, so when you go into a restaurant whether it's Chinese or western, you'll be served with a glass of warm water when you're seated. I love warm water so it doesn't bother me one bit, but it's so different from what I'm used to. Waiters even come round to your table and refill your glass with warm water when you're done! Some restaurants even have stations where you can add fruits or herbs to your water for extra benefits, like chrysanthemum, goji berries and cloves.

One thing I have noticed about Chinese girls is that they're always dressed to impress, especially in summer. Their outfits are so pristine and lovely and it's so weird because in the UK if you dressed up, people would ask you why you're dressed up, but here no one questions it. From teenagers to young adults, to mums dressing their children (even some grandmas) the ladies here always look so photoshoot ready it's easy to feel underdressed, especially if you're a fan of jeans and t-shirts like me!

The last thing I'll talk about is how smoking and spitting here are so commonplace. Now, I was raised where you had to go in designed areas to smoke, but here, anyone can smoke anywhere; in the car, in a restaurant, in any part of a building. Smoking is a nasty habit and I really do not like this part of living in China, but it's just what happens.

Spitting is also very common, but only amongst older people. And it's not normal light spitting you sometimes see at home, this one comes from somewhere deep down in the gut. The sound alone is awful and it makes me shudder whenever I hear it to be honest.

Those are some cultural things I've seen here in my almost 6 months in China (how crazy is that!) Some of these are really negative, but it's the reality and there's no point in forcibly being positive all the time.

One thing I'll say about moving to a country with a different culture is if you accept things as the way they are, instead of constantly comparing to the way life is back home, you'll be much happier. Yes, some things aren't perfect but you will not survive if all you do is complain about your new life. I've learned that the best course of action is to just observe and understand that this is the way of life here.

It's doesn't do you any good to always err on the side of negativity!

I hope you enjoyed this post! There are a few more I can think of, but I don't want this post to be too long and I think this is good for now. Please down below tell me of any cultural differences you've come across while travelling!

I'll see you in the next one!

How To Be More Energised

When I first started sixth form, I suddenly started having bouts of low energy when I came home after school. Fast forward a few years, I still do sometimes get tired but I've managed to lessen the feeling with these simple steps.

Being tired all the time is no way to live your life - it makes you unproductive, can put you in a bad mood, and sometimes leave you feeling like doing nothing all day but either sleeping or watching Netflix. 

These are all things I do when I begin to feel that afternoon sluggishness creep up on me. They work really well, and I want to share them with you so hopefully they can help you too!

The first thing to do is to realise why you're feeling tired in the first place. Is it because you're not sleeping, you're burnt out at work or school, or any other reason. Think through the past couple of months and consider what may be making you feel tired.

For me nowadays, it's if I haven't been out all day or if ate a bit too much at lunch time (lolz). Once I notice why I'm feeling the way I am, it helps me tackle what to do next.

Once you realise what has been zapping your energy, you can follow these tips below to get more energised! I just want to say that I am no doctor or medical expert, these things are what I personally do when I need to boost myself up! If this is something you are truly worried about or it's something that has been going on for an extended period of time, then please visit a health professional. 

If I haven't been out all day, I know that what I need to do is get outside and get some fresh air. I used to think just opening a window would suffice but there's something about having yourself out in nature that gets you feeling better straight away.

I love to go for walks in the evenings, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend and I just breathe in the air and take in the scenery. I'm so grateful for my campus having loads of greenery and loads of space for me to roam around, so I definitely take advantage of it. I'm also grateful for my city's air quality not being as bad as big cities like Beijing, so I'm able to breathe in the air as much as I like!

Try to be out for at least 30 minutes every day to truly feel the effects on your body. Now that it's winter break, it's so easy to just stay indoors all day and not leave my room at all if I wanted to. But I know to truly feel my best, I need to be outdoors, so I make it a point to go out once a day.

A common cause for tiredness is dehydration, so naturally, the thing to do is to keep hydrated!

I aim to drink at least 2 liters of water everyday, and sometimes I make it, sometimes I drink less. To keep myself accountable, I carry a bottle of water with myself everywhere and fill it up when it's done!

I'm sure by now we all know that warm or room temperature water is much healthier for you than cold water, especially in the mornings. That's why when I wake up and before I go to sleep, I drink a cup of warm water to keep myself hydrated and to help with my digestion.

If the taste of water is boring for you, then spruce it up with some fruit or veg! Lemon, ginger, cucumber, blueberries - all of these are great suggestions for flavouring your water. 

Next time you're feeling tired, drink some H²O and see how you feel!

Something that I have really slipped up on is exercise. I often think of the days back home when I would do loads of yoga and go for runs and I seriously shake my head at myself.

Exercise is used by a lot of people to give them a quick boost of energy. The endorphins and blood rushing around your body will definitely increase your stamina and help you feel less tired.

Even just 30 minutes a day can seriously bring about a major difference. Whether you like to head to the gym, go for runs, go swimming or play tennis, they can all contribute massively. 

A quick power nap can seriously do wonders, and it's nowadays usually the first thing I think of doing.

20 minutes is the recommended time for a nap because you're in the lighter stages of non-REM sleep, so you'll feel less groggy and more energised when you wake up.

Napping any longer is gonna leave you feeling even worse than before and can seriously ruin your sleeping pattern later on at night.

Naps have also been shown to improve memory, increase creativity, and reduce stress, so if this sounds great to you, then try to schedule in a 20 minute nap in the afternoon everyday and see how you get on!

On the same note, aim for 8 hours of sleep at night! Sleep at a reasonable time and you'll wake up refreshed and energised in the morning.

Eating until you're so full you can't even walk after is so unhealthy for you! There really is no reason to keep piling food in yourself until you can't move.

I used to think that eating that much was a good thing; you're not wasting food, and I lowkey used to enjoy that sleepy feeling I got afterwards. Now that I'm getting older, I look at food as fuel and I'm much more conscious of what I'm putting in my body and in what quantities too.

If you eat the right things and in the right amounts, you'll have energy to do all the things you need to during the day! 

When I eat, I aim for that sweet spot of knowing I'm full but not going over the top. I just treat the remaining food as leftovers and keep it in the fridge. Sometimes something does taste way too good to just stop (I mean, it is China) but everyday I'm practising a lot more restraint and aiming for that sweet spot. 

Those are all things I do when I'm feeling like dropping everything and just laying in bed for the rest of the day! There are other things you can do, like drinking something with caffeine, but me and caffeine are a bad mix so that's why I didn't recommend it. If caffeine is your thing, then try swapping your coffee for tea or matcha. They do offer more benefits than coffee!

If there are any other ways you can think of, then please leave a comment down below! 

I'll see you in the next one!

My 2019 Blogging Goals

2018 is over and done with and now it's time to think ahead to the new year. I wasn't initially going to give myself a list of goals this year - not making goals or resolutions is perfectly okay - but I decided to do one relating to my blog instead. 

Before we delve into the new goals, I wanna go over the ones I made for 2018 (if you want to read through the post, you can do so here!). I'd give myself an A+ for effort, but execution is going to have to be a B because I didn't really manage to get everything done that I aimed to.

Firstly, I did manage to learn to drive! My dad and cousins all grouped together to teach me to drive and even though I was so excited to give it a go, initially it was much harder than I thought. Reversing and parking are my biggest worries, but everything else to do with a car is now under my belt and I'm so happy about it! Driving gives me such a new sense of freedom and happiness and I can't wait until I can buy my own car!

Secondly, I also managed to learn a new language. I went from learning Korean to Chinese and now that I'm studying in China, I have no choice but to learn Chinese! Chinese is such a dynamic language that has really beautiful words and figuring out how they all connect together is so much fun! I'll be studying Chinese for the next 6 months, which is perfect time for my skills to grow. 

I also managed to fulfill my goal of being more present. From meditation to practising daily gratitude, I think I was okay in this area and I've seen some real improvements like being calmer in stressful situations. Definitely something to carry into 2019.

Unfortunately, I didn't reach my goal of reading 12 books last year. Towards the end, things got real stressful what with moving and starting school, but I'm so proud of what I did manage. 9 books isn't too shabby for someone who didn't read in the first place.

Being healthy was great for the first half of 2018 but by the end, again, I didn't do too well. This is something I want to turn around this year. 

Finally, I did managed to grow my blog and I even managed to work with some brands! My numbers definitely aren't as big as other bloggers out there, but for me and what I envisioned for my blog, I'm happy and that's all that counts.

And now for 2019!

In one year, I managed to reach 1000+ followers on my Twitter and 970+ on my Instagram, which is something I never thought I'd be able to say. I'm so grateful for all of you who decided to click on the follow button, it means so much to me!

Unfortunately for me, I had to start using a VPN once I moved to China, so my following has now decreased. I was even locked out of my Twitter account because of it, and so I had to make a new one (check that out here, and my Insta over here). This year I want to double my following from last year, so wish me luck!

I used to post 3 times a week and it worked for me until we moved to Zambia. Then I was lucky if I posted even once a month. Now, I want to get back to a 3 day a week schedule. This winter break is the perfect opportunity for me to write as many posts as possible and once school starts I won't be stressed out about what to post!

90% of the photos I use on this blog are stock photos, and I'm not ashamed of it; I want the images I use to be beautiful and professional and I currently can't mange that with my smartphone. That's why when I use photos, 99% of those come from Kaboompics (thank you!).

All that being said, I really want my photography skills to improve so I can proudly show them off, but until then, I'll be using stock imagery.

Those are my goals for this year! Only 3 but the smaller they are, the easier it'll be to get cracking on them. Some goals obviously go without saying, like working with more brands and increasing my page views, but these 3 are doing to be the main focus until December 2019.

I hope all of you achieve everything you set out to and I'll see you in the next one! 

Photos: Unsplash

What I Learned In My First Semester Of Uni

I was so excited to start university and now that my finals are done with, I figured I'd share what I learned during my first semester. From September to January, I had class starting at 8am every morning and often had so much work to do afterwards I often thought I'd never see the finish line. That's all over and done with now, because all I have to look forward to now is catching up with some TV shows and travelling around the city with my friends!

The first thing I've learned is that people are all different. This is something you grow up knowing but it doesn't become a fact in your head until you get to uni. I've been surrounded by people who didn't grow up like me; from the food they eat, to the way they speak, to the way they choose to clean (or not clean in my case!) and no shade but it still becomes really stressful to this day.

I don't believe there is one right way of growing up, or one right way cultures do things but having all these differences thrown at me at once puts my own life into perspective.

On the bright side, I now know what I want in life and what I value. Seeing how other people their lives is such an important eye opener and such a great way of promoting personal growth. But as I said, the way I grew up isn't the "perfect" way and vice versa. It's great seeing how cultures influence people's lives and opinions, and it's great to learn from that.

The next thing I've learned is that I work really well under pressure. Like too well, so well I can leave assignments to a week before the due date and still come out with a good grade!

The day I'm writing this was my results day, and in both exams I got such amazing results, which I am undoubtedly grateful for. I started revising the week before and thought back to my sixth form days, where I started studying for Government and Politics 2 whole months beforehand.

Uni has so many things going on that studying sometimes takes a backseat (which I realised was wrong, leading to my social media detox) and realising that I work well under pressure is great for future reference, but I will definitely try to be much more organised with my time.

The third thing I've learned is that meal prep is key! It's so exhausting having to think of what to eat all the time, and since the dorm kitchen and canteen both close at 10pm, if I get hungry any later I'll have to rely on whatever is in my room.

I started meal prep last week and it has made things so much easier for me. I cook twice a week and have enough to eat for lunch and dinner all throughout (breakfast is always a cup of tea and bowl of porridge). I just store everything in the fridge and when I'm hungry either head to the kitchen before they close or use my portable cooker in my room and I have a hot meal ready!

It's so much cheaper to meal prep, and it's healthier too. The canteen is full of amazing food (I mean, c'mon it's China) but all the oil they use is not good for my digestion, so I decided to just start cooking more and it's been a great decision so far!

I've been all over YouTube looking at meal prep recipes for inspiration, and I reckon it's gonna be a Pinterest board soon too!

The next thing I've learned is that proper time management will save your life. Before exam season (let's face it, exam season is always gonna be hectic) I was on top of everything. I was using the time blocking method and managed to get so much done in my day. My morning and evening routines were working well for me (blog posts coming soon!) and my time after class was productive and I could still squeeze in some travelling around the city and a TV episode too!

I cannot stress how important it is to get yourself a routine from the get-go because the habits you build during your first few weeks at uni will be with you long after.

Time blocking has been so effective for me and it leaves so much time to do the things you want to do too, not just what you need to get done.

Finally, the fifth thing I've learned is that working smart is better than working hard.

I had imagined myself before uni to be spending all day in the library, working for hours on end, but this does not result in you getting good grades! Working for so long can be detrimental and actually do more harm than good.

It's much more effective to just spend your time wisely, rather than spending a lot of time on one thing. That's why with time blocking, the 80/20 rule (blog post about that right here!) and the pomodoro technique, I've been able to achieve everything I wanted to with half the effort.

I can't believe my first 5 months in China have already come to an end! It feels like I've been here forever though, and since I'm improving in the language day by day, life is definitely getting easier and easier.

I'd seriously love to hear what you have all learned in your time in uni! Do leave them down below!

I'll see you all in the next one! 

Photos: Unsplash

Happy 2019! | An Update on Blogging, Life, and School

Hey everyone, long time no blog! I know I uploaded an update post a few months ago but things are different again, so I have to get another update post published before anything else!

It's been a crazy last few months and I'm only now getting used to how my life is now, what with starting university and moving to CHINA! Yep, if you follow my Instagram, you'd know that I've been living in China since September and I'll be here (God willing) for the next six years. It sounds like such a long time, but day-to-day, it feels like I've been here for a year already.

China is amazing! The food, first of all, is everything I wanted it to be and more. I'd eaten enough Chinese takeaway in the UK to have an idea of that it would be like when I got here but the food here blows your local takeaway out of the water! Each province in China has its own distinct flavor, and in Hunan the food is hot and spicy. I'm building up a tolerance for spicy food, and good thing too because it's too good to resist!

China is also huge; walking anywhere is a struggle and I want to take the bus or subway everywhere. At least all the running around I do to not miss my bus is a good way to keep fit for free (sort of!).

Onto the reason I'm here; I started university in October, and my first semester finishes in a couple of weeks after I have my final exams (eek!). After being out of school for two years after A-Levels, it took me a long time to get my mindset back into school mode, and I'm still getting used to it! It's amazing being in school and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here and receive an education. It's definitely something I won't ever take for granted because I know so many people my age, younger than me, and older than me don't have this chance.

At the moment I'm studying Chinese language before beginning my major which is Medicine. After speaking to some seniors about medicine, I'm choosing to focus on my year learning Chinese before worrying about that's in the future! Being told one year of Chinese is equal to 3% of what I'll learn in my first year of medicine isn't really good for lifting my spirits!

A part of university life I didn't count on was the loneliness and imposter syndrome I've been feeling alongside the awesome stuff. It's strange; one great moment can be quickly overshadowed by this nagging and limiting belief that I'm not as smart as I think I am, or that I don't have “enough friends”. This is a blog post I definitely want to go into depth with because I feel like it affects a lot more people than we think.

University is always painted as “the best time of your life” and sometimes it's true, like when you're out with your mates and you feel like nothing can bother you, when you get a great grade after studying a ton, when you wake up and realise that yeah this whole new life is real and not a dream. But we definitely have to talk about the nasty stuff that comes with university, and make it more known and open! Anyway, like I said definitely another a post for another time!

Being this far away from home and my friends and everything I've ever known isn't easy, especially when you factor in the time difference. I'm 6 hours ahead of Zambia, and 8 hours ahead of the UK, so when I'm waking up everyone is asleep and when I'm asleep, everyone is up! Communication is tricky, and it's been hard keeping up with social media, especially Twitter.

In China, you can't access sites like Instagram, Facebook, anything to do with Google, and a lot more so I have to use VPN to connect to anything. It's annoying but I'm now at the point where I immediately turn my VPN on whenever I need to use my phone. Because of VPN, I've been locked out of my original Twitter account and I have no way of getting it back! *Insert a thousand crying emojis*.

So, that being said, please follow me on my new account @elliekblog!

That's all that's been going on with me for the last few months! It's another amazing chapter in my life that I'm so grateful, happy, and excited to be on.

I don't want to promise you all a blogging schedule because I don't have a laptop, and I'm using my phone to upload this, so the next post will come when it's ready! If that paragraph that has been made centerised annoys you just as much as it annoys me, you see how blogging from my phone is a pain!

I hope you all have a wonderful day or evening, and that you all enjoyed this post! I hope your 2019 is everything you want it to be! Whether you want to travel more, see new people, be more grounded or anything else, I wish you all the success and happiness the world has to offer.

I'll see you in the next one!