That thing you enjoy, do that

In theory I like to keep things simple. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. But in reality I’m a complex creature who likes variety in all parts of my life – including the food I eat, the hobbies I enjoy, and how I move my body.

In the past this diversity could have easily lead to feelings of overwhelm. But by creating space to pursue the things which bring me joy, it instead feels effortless. Variety can be complex, but variety can also be pursued with simplicity.

For me right now, I’m doing a mix of things on the training front – but I love it all. My training week is largely structured around CrossFit, with occasional Pilates Reformer and Yoga sessions thrown in for good measure (or when I know my body NEEDS to change things up).  This is a mix which has come about kinda by accident rather than design, but it’s an approach which seems to be working. By working I mean that it feels good for my body and mind.

crossfit, garage gym, home gym, do what you love, be consistent

I look a short leave of absence from CrossFit late last year, but I never stopped loving it. CrossFit is great (for me) because it combines lots of things I love – structured workouts, lifting weights and disgustingly sweaty MetCons. In returning to CrossFit, I initially changed the way I worked with it. I took my time and allowed myself to be much more patient with my lifting and my fitness this time around … less hustle and more flow.

Whenever possible, I’m trying to be even less concerned about the weight on the bar and more concerned than ever with how well I’m lifting it. Sure, this approach can be frustrating as shit, because of course it’s fun and empowering to lift heavy. But the various niggles, creaks and groans that my body was experiencing have quietened, which tells me that this has been the right approach for me.

I’m also currently working on upskilling some of the fundamental CrossFit movements, which means extra skill-based sessions and getting homework done between sessions. I’m lucky to have a barbell and some weight plates to work with in my garage gym – which makes it easier to fit some additional work in. Sometimes CrossFit happens in the box, surrounded by great people and with access to a full complement of equipment; other times CrossFit happens at home, where you work with what you’ve got, surrounded by cat-scratched mats, cobwebs and dust. Being consistent and working hard at something you love isn’t always pretty.

With Open season just days away, I’m still undecided as to whether I’ll participate this year. But after taking my time to re-build a solid base of fitness, I’m now feeling ready to lift my intensity (in whatever form that takes). I definitely believe that taking a slow and steady approach pays dividends for when things get fast and furious … listening to my body and trusting my inner wisdom very rarely steers me wrong.

The point of sharing this is to encourage you to find a way to move your body that you enjoy, accept that how you train may change, and trust that YOU do actually know yourself best (even though it’s easy to forget). Seek enjoyment first and then follow where that path leads you. Work hard at the things you enjoy in a way that feels easy.

How to overcome the expectation / reality divide

I was expecting yesterday to be a BIG writing day. But when I tallied up what I achieved on the page, it came to a grand total of three sentences. *sigh*
It seems my page and I managed to accidentally demonstrate the truth of that great, cavernous divide between expectation and reality.

It’s a truth which may become apparent in so many parts of your life – nutrition, exercise, work and play. Your head may plan for things to go a certain way, but upon execution, you may end up somewhere completely different. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.

When reality falls way short of expectation, it can be incredibly disappointing and discouraging, almost to the point of giving up – a perfectly normal and natural reaction, especially when you’ve worked hard at either creating output or effecting change. Giving up is obviously an option, but that’s taking the easy way out – and you, if you’re anything like me, wouldn’t be the kind of person to follow that path. We’re the kind of people who understand that anything worth doing, creating or attempting, is going to take a decent amount of time, energy and commitment.

expectation, reality, difference between expectation and reality

Allow me to propose some alternative solutions to overcoming the challenges presented by that expectation-reality divide.

  1.  Acceptance. Obvious I know; however, it still needs to be said. Some element of acceptance is required whenever things don’t go according to plan. Acceptance asks you to stop comparing where you’ve ended up with where you thought you’d be, and instead acknowledge that whatever has resulted is right and true. All you can ask is that you gave your best efforts and devoted your fullest attention to whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish – that might be making healthier food choices, writing a novel, or working out. Two questions to ask of yourself – Were you fully present? and Did you show up with mindful intent? This process of self-inquiry is not intended to fuel thoughts of self-loathing if your answers aren’t a wholehearted YES. Rather, it’s a process designed to provide you with some insight in a very gentle and kind way. No effort is ever wasted, even if very little output results – we learn much by working through the process, and that may deliver the real success.
  2. Move. Sometimes to find the quiet and calm which leads to focus, you have to get moving. You might get so ‘in your head’, that you feel almost too scattered, too preoccupied with thinking about how you’re going to start, that very little or no progress is made. This often shows itself in the form of multiple false starts – in the case of writing it creates a none too beautiful stop-start staccato across the page. As these ‘almost starts’ tend to give the impression that you’ve finally found your rhythm, you can get caught in a frustrating cycle of hope / hopes dashed – a pattern which may only be realised with the benefits of hindsight. Getting out of your head by moving your body is often the perfect antidote to bridging this frustrating getting-somewhere / not-really-getting-anywhere kind of juncture. Move in a way which feels good to you – that might mean going for a walk, swimming laps, or getting your sweat on during a hardcore workout – whatever brings you joy through movement, do that. In shifting awareness into your physical body, the dust in your mind will settle, and you’ll invariably feel sharper and more in the zone.
  3. Renew. Begin again. Ahhh, two words brimming with breathy possibility. The great thing about the ebbs and flows of creativity and productivity is that there’s always another day, another chance to try. If we take this attitude, it doesn’t matter what yesterday held, or even what tomorrow brings, we can be present and start fresh with the clean slate of today. Whether the previous day was productive or not, we should arrive at today with no hint of expectation about what those hours ahead must contain – that will be revealed with patience and presence. Time to renew also refers to the period of recovery which may be required if we’ve just completed a big project, enjoyed a tough workout or anything else which has required a large output of energy, enthusiasm and focus, because we can’t sustain those at high levels forever. Respecting the ebbs and flows is critical. This isn’t about surrendering to the flows and giving up when you feel resistance, rather knowing that rest is required to recharge us and bring us back to full power. Instead of always empowering the ‘push on through’ attitude, it’s equally important to respect the body and mind’s need for replenishment.

Sometimes dipping into one of these strategies works wonders, on other days, a combination of all three may prove more fruitful. Often we know which remedy to apply, but perhaps emboldened by ego, we may attempt to override our intuition and stubbornly force our way forward.

Even though I knew that movement would have helped me yesterday, it wasn’t until late in the day that I finally listened to that wisdom and sweated out my frustration. After that, I returned to my desk with greater clarity – accepting that what had been written was most likely absolute rubbish, but feeling ok with that, because I’ll just try again tomorrow.

10 Tips for the Three Capes Track (or any multi-day hike)

Hiking is great, but if you’re planning to be out on a track for more than one day, a fair bit of planning is required. Well that’s not true, you could probably half-ass any hike, but it’s a better idea to come prepared if you want your trip to be comfortable, safe and enjoyable.

I learnt a lot on the Three Capes Track – there was lots of stuff  I got right, and a lot I’d improve upon. While these tips are based specifically on my Three Capes experience, plans for any multi-day hike could apply similar ideas.

three capes hike, tasmania, multi-day hike, preparing to hike, tasmania hiking,

1. Pre-Trip Prep

The thing about multi-day hikes is that you need a lot of stuff. It can be surprising to discover just how much gear you’ll need. Much of it is stuff you’ll use every day. Some you’ll carry ‘just in case’. The Three Capes website has a comprehensive packing list, and I used this to shop for the vast majority of our hiking supplies. Which brings me neatly to my second point – hiking gear ain’t cheap (especially if you’re having to invest in pretty much everything from top to bottom). I mean that literally – everything from decent hiking shoes through to a broadbrim hat. If you’re already a dedicated hiker, you may have a lot of the recommended gear already, which will put you ahead of the game.

I never tallied my total equipment costs, because some things are best left unknown. Admittedly though, I’m pretty good at sniffing out a sale … so very little of our gear was purchased at full RRP. And because I hate shopping amongst crowds of people, most of it was purchased online (my recommended shopping sites are listed below).

I’d recommend doing a practice pack before you go, just so you know what you’re working with. I’d advise against doing what we did, which was attempting to pack everything for the first time the night before the hike starts. I’ll put it politely – wrestling with an argumentative pack liner was not fun at 10.30pm. Things got infinitely better, and much calmer when I abandoned the troublesome beast all together. #livingdangerously

Your pack is your life on long hikes, and your two most precious commodities are space and weight. You’ll become a little obsessive about both. How much does it weigh? How much does it pack down? – these become your two most called upon questions. I won’t lie and say that trying to convince everything to fit in your pack is a fun process, but once achieved, it is VERY satisfying.

2. Port Arthur

We hired a car in Hobart and drove ourselves to Port Arthur, where we took advantage of the long-term parking designated for Three Capes travellers. I’d recommend the self-drive option, as catching a bus to Port Arthur and then storing your excess gear in the lockers on site would add extra time to your return journey. Parking onsite means that when you return to Port Arthur at the end of the hike, you’re able to hit the road straight away (which I guarantee you’ll want to do) – food and showers await!

There aren’t a heap of food options at Port Arthur, so I’d recommend stopping at a country town along the way for lunch, or bringing some food with you in your day pack as you explore Port Arthur on foot. Also, don’t forget to take a warm jacket with you. We left our fleece up at the car park (which is a fair walk from the Port Arthur site) and so we froze when the wind picked up and the sky clouded over.

port arthur, historical village, three capes track,

3. The People

You’ll meet all sorts of people on a multi-day hike, and it’s really up to you how much (or how little) you interact. My main advice here is, ‘don’t be an asshole‘ – but that’s really life advice rather than a hike-specific tip). You may think I’m sharing this because I encountered a few assholes, and yes – you’d be right! I said hello to a few fellow walkers in our group and received total blank face in return. Assholes! Thankfully they were a small and select few.

Our walk had a mix of solo trekkers, couples, families, and small groups of friends – with the majority of people (see above for my thoughts on assholes) being quite friendly. We tended to fall in with similar people each day, and I think that would be the norm – you tend to ebb and flow along a track with people who walk to a similar pace.

You’ll no doubt encounter variations of the quietly contented solo walker; the competitive hikers who only want to ‘get there first’; self-professed ‘experienced’ hikers who like nothing more than sharing unhelpful advice (oh you shouldn’t have done that … yeah, thanks so much for your useful input); groups of friends only interested in hanging with each other; the loud drinkers / partiers who travel with their own wine, cheese and crackers (?!?); the panicky people who worry about huge packs of snakes colluding to block their path and sink their fangs into ALL unguarded limbs (lol); and of course just a lot of super nice people there to experience nature.

three capes track, multi-day hike, hiking planning, bush walking,

4. Host Rangers

The host rangers at each site do an incredible job of keeping everything in good order, and helping to ensure everyone comfortably settles in to camp life. There are briefs each evening which give an overview of the history of the area you’re walking on, the weather forecast for the next day’s walk, and what to expect from the walk itself. Don’t miss these briefs, they’re super useful!

The host rangers have very different personalities, which means they add their own personal flair to briefings … I bet you resonate with at least one of them. Jess and Ken were our favourites!

5. Facilities

The facilities are incredible! The track itself is amazingly well-maintained and is designed to make life as easy and as interesting as possible for walkers. Along the way there are plenty of opportunities to rest, so you can stop and enjoy the view or even shed your pack from time to time. Toilet stops on the track are inherently easier for men, whereas many parts of the walk are either too open or the vegetation too impenetrable for women to make use of. It all comes down to timing – either on the track so that you don’t encounter other walkers while you’re otherwise occupied, or getting yourself to your next camp before your toilet needs become desperate.

The cabin and communal areas at each site are beautiful and tastefully designed to enhance rather than intrude on the landscape. Cabins are built for either 4 or 8 inhabitants, so I’d definitely recommend ear plugs. It’s best to accept you’ll probably have a disturbed sleep, with middle of the night toilet runs and people setting out at different times. You’ll probably bunk with the same people the whole walk, that was the case for us. The only downside to this was on the last day we were on the early bus and our cabin mates were on the later bus, so we were up and about MUCH earlier and did our best to be quiet … but that’s the breaks of shared quarters.

The communal areas are beautifully heated, sometimes even becoming a little too warm. The cooking facilities are fantastic, with lots of gear available. Being able to charge your phone at the USB charging points each night is great, but be warned that you may have to wait a while for your turn (there are only a certain number of points available and charging can be slow).

The bunk beds are really comfortable, but just a note that if you take the top bunk you’ll need to be ok with having to climb down the ladder in the dark of night for a toilet run, and you’ll also get a decent amount of air chill from the roof. There isn’t a dividing wall between top bunks, so just be mindful of where you place your head in relation to your nearest upper-level cabin buddy. I’d much rather be in a feet-feet position, rather than a head-feet position … especially given the limited wash facilities (if you catch my drift).

Definitely enjoy an outdoor HOT shower on day two … and if it’s your thing, there are wash room facilities located at every camp, provided you’re happy bathing with a cold bucket of water. Aside from the hot shower, I made do with body wash wipes and cleaning my face morning and night, which seemed to be enough (daily deodorant application goes without saying!).

6. Food

We utilised the services of Three Capes Gear and Gourmet for most of our food, just because it was easier to have someone sort this for us in Tasmania (it was one less thing we had to take from Brisbane). But this did mean that we were sorting out how best to fit everything in our packs the night before we headed out. Slightly complicating things on the food front was that we needed food for a vegetarian and a vegan – but this turned out to be easily sorted.

hiking food, multi day hike food, food prep, hiking snacks, vegan hiking

Here’s what I ate and drank (of course, in addition to what’s listed below, I drank copious amounts of water each and every day …a somewhat risky activity depending on the proximity of the next toilet):

Day 1
  • Lunch: Dehydrated hummus with crackers, apple
  • Snacks: Vegan scroggin, rooibos tea, Clif Bar
  • Dinner: Thai Coconut Curry with noodles (dehydrated)
thai coconut curry, vegan hiking food, hiking food, dehydrated food, camping food, vegan,
Day 2
  • Breakfast: Vegan porridge, coffee
  • Lunch: Dehydrated hummus with crackers
  • Snacks: Vegan scroggin, pack of roasted fav-va beans, rooibos tea, Clif bar
  • Dinner: Dhal with rice and fried flat bread
Day 3
  • Breakfast: Vegan porridge, coffee
  • Lunch: Crispbread with vegemite and peanut butter, Clif bar
  • Snacks: Pack of roasted fav-va beans, vegan scroggin, rooibos tea
  • Dinner: Puttanesca pasta with olives and capers (dehydrated)
porridge, vegan porridge, filter coffee, vegan hiking, vegan breakfast, hiking breakfast
Day 4
  • Breakfast: Vegan porridge, coffee
  • Lunch: Crispbread with vegemite / peanut butter
  • Snacks: Pack of roasted fav-va beans, rooibos tea, packet of chips, coffee

We probably travelled with more food than we needed, BUT I’d prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to food. You don’t want to deal with me when I’m hungry!  If coffee is as important to you as it is to me, I can’t rate The Laughing Pug drip filter coffee bags highly enough. Once we got the hang of these, we were in caffeinated heaven!!

Don’t forget to take some cash or a card with you on the walk, because on the last day there’s a little kiosk that you might like to buy a treat from. I went with a coffee and a packet of chips (ice cream was also a popular choice amongst walkers in our group). We were completely unprepared and had no money with us, but we were able to buy using Apple Pay via our phones, but failing that, direct deposit is also an option.

7. Entertainment

We eschewed a lot of ‘nice to have’ extras to save on space and weight, so we travelled light on the entertainment front. There’s a selection of board games and (mostly science-related) books available in the communal areas at each site, however I’d definitely take a novel to read next time. It would have been lovely to curl up with a book in the afternoon or cool of early evening and while away some time amongst people, but not necessarily being actively social. I did carry a journal with me, but didn’t end up doing much writing.

If you’re crafty, I’d recommend you bring along a project – like knitting or crochet … something that doesn’t take up much space, weighs very little, but will keep you happily occupied at night. A handful of people on our walk did this, and I thought it was a great idea. I would definitely do this next time.

board game, hiking entertainment, scrabble, three capes track, communal areas

8. Equipment

Aside from basing your clothing and equipment requirements on the Three Capes packing list, I’d also recommend you get yourself some trekking poles. Next multi-day hike I do, I’ll be taking a pair, as they make downhill sections much kinder on the knees and give your hard-working legs a bit more support.

Personally I’d still nix the bag liner and go with a waterproof bag cover (which I accidentally discovered I had). I wouldn’t bother taking a toilet trowel – ours wasn’t heavy or all that big, but it wasn’t something I was EVER going to use on this walk, so I’d use that space for something else. For a touch of luxury, next time I’d opt for a hip flask – it would have been nice to enjoy a nip of something at night, but I wouldn’t go so far as carrying a bottle of wine (as some hikers did).

Rather than a handheld torch, it’s definitely worth going with a headlamp. The big advantage of these is that you’re able to stay hands free when visiting the toilet block. This would be incredibly useful on a cold night when hands would much rather be kept in pockets, and of course just from a practical point of view.

Don’t skimp on your thermals or rain gear – we used all of it. The thermals were mostly worn in the cool of early morning or at camp at night (it was bitingly cold at camp on our last night). We used our rain gear on the track just once during a heavy shower, but we would have missed it if we didn’t have it (walking the rest of the day soaked to the bone would not have been fun). I wouldn’t have traded my travel pillow for anything, as it definitely helped me sleep better, so I’m glad I opted to carry one (just get one that squashes down well).

Unless you’re an avid photographer, I’d stick with just a high quality compact camera – and for most people that’s going to be your phone. It’s so handy to have your phone in your pocket or on your pack’s waist belt ready to shoot, rather than dealing with a bulky SLR that requires more space and more effort.

three capes track, tasmania hiking, hiking, multi-day hike, what to pack,

9. Where to shop

When you’re scoping out the best deal for your hiking gear you’ll discover a huge range of shops dedicated to the outdoor life. I opted to shop online wherever I could, because I don’t like aimlessly browsing in shopping centres amongst slow moving people. A lot of these sites do decent sales and member deals, so keep an eye out for those, especially if you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve. Here’s my pick of sites and a rough list of what I bought where (be prepared to shop around to grab a bargain, especially for clothes, packs and shoes):

  • Kathmandu – cutlery, water bottles, pack liners, gear sacks, mugs
  • Wild Earth – clothing, packs, hiking boots, lightweight vest, fleece jacket, sleeping bags, travel pillows, pocket knife, toilet trowel, sleeping bag liners, compact travel towel
  • Mountain Designs – thermals, long sleeve hiking shirt, socks, underwear, rain gear, bowls, thermos
  • Paddy Pallin – hiking pants, rain gear
  • Lorna Jane – lightweight short sleeve t shirts
  • Lululemon – lightweight short sleeve t shirts
  • Rays Outdoor – fleece top
  • MacPac – lightweight vest


10. What to wear

You’d be surprised at how few clothes you actually need for a three night, four day walk. I could have streamlined my gear further, and made a few minor tweaks, but I was pretty happy with my kit. Here’s what I carried / wore during the four days:

  • Tops: 2 short sleeve tops, 1 long sleeve warm shirt, 1 lightweight vest (layers are king), 1 fleece jacket (no need for a second warmer jacket unless travelling in winter)
  • Bottoms: 1 pair of convertible pants, 1 pair of shorts (I wore shorts most days)
  • Underwear: 4 pairs of socks, 4 pairs of quick dry underwear
  • Thermals: 1 long sleeve top, 1 pair of pants
  • Rain gear: 1 pair of overpants, 1 windproof / waterproof / breathable rain jacket
  • Camp clothes: 1 pair of comfy lightweight track pants, one t-shirt (which doubled as a bed-shirt), 1 pair of boxer shirts for bed, 1 pair of lightweight sneakers, 1 pair of comfy bed socks

Next time instead of lightweight sneakers, I’d opt for slip on sandals or thongs to wear at camp because dealing with laces in the dead of night was not fun. I loved my broad brim hat which was able to squish down to pocket size, but there were times when the wind almost got the better of it. Next time I’d choose a more secure baseball cap or small brim hat rather than have to hold onto my hat in some of the exposed, at-the-mercy-of-gusty-sea-breeze sections. But of course, ALWAYS use and reapply sunscreen throughout the day (otherwise that sun will get you!).

Aside from the recommendations above, there are a few remaining tips I’d like to share, even though they don’t warrant their own section:

  • To save on space, I’d roll my sleeping bag liner into my sleeping bag, rather than carry two separate items (this would have saved a fair chunk of space at the start). I got wise by day two.
  • A small bottle of magnesium oil or spray would have been bliss to treat sore muscles and tired feet at the end of each day.
  • Rather than take a whole toilet roll ‘just in case’ you’re caught out on the track, I’d take just a few sheets.
  • Take more tea bags than what you think you’ll use – tea is comforting, warming and a nice thing to enjoy while soaking up the view along the way or at home base. Plus tea bags take up virtually no space at all.
  • Hand sanitiser is always handy (but opt for a small container)
  • I’d definitely invest in compressible packing cells for a future hike, as they’re a great way to keep all your gear super organised.
  • Rather than taking a dedicated lunch, I’d go with a variety of small snacks (having a good breakfast and dinner was more critical for me than a big lunch)
  • Salt was something I really missed – so next time I’d take small packs of peanuts, snack olives, more roasted fav-va beans … or other bits of salty goodness
  • Have a few spare carabineers, they’re always handy for hanging random stuff from your pack when space becomes an issue
  • Zip lock bags are ideal for storing and carrying your rubbish as they’re readily sealed (but consider taking at least two, as one bag would get pretty on-the-nose by day four). Your rubbish will be collected before you get on the bus back to Port Arthur.
  • A block of chocolate wouldn’t go astray – enjoying a square of dark chocolate in the evening would have gone down a treat. The light, thin blocks of Lindt chocolate would probably work quite well.
  • Don’t forget that what you carry in must be carried out. I saw people weighed down by what I would deem unnecessary items – like glass wine bottles for instance. Each to their own, provided you’re happy to bear the weight (personally one of the joys during the walk was having my pack become gradually lighter as we ate our way through the food).

I’m looking forward to tackling my next multi-day hike armed with the knowledge gained on my Three Capes adventure. With each new journey I’m sure I’ll get my trip prep and packing down to a fine art. But like hiking (and life?) itself, there’s always a good measure of trial and error involved … and that’s all part of the fun.

How to change the world

Some days you take on the world, other days you take your dog for a walk.

While the former may seem to carry more weight, it really depends on your perspective. I hazard the latter is far more important in my dog’s life, with the capability of positively influencing his world.

By walking my dog, his world improves. As I see his tail-wagging, nose-to-air happiness; as I stretch my legs; and as I draw fresh air into my lungs; my world in turn, improves.

change the world, walk the dog, brisbane summer, positive energy, positive change

It may then be entirely possible for that same uplifting wave to travel outwards, carrying the potential energy to influence every person I encounter, who then pass that same momentum on.

Perhaps this is how all change begins?
With one small ripple of positive energy.
However it’s created.

Now is always the right time to reinvent yourself

When the calendar clicked over to the start of this year, I felt like most everyone but me was all ‘EFF YEAH, 2018!’ My low-key attitude caused no angst, it just got me curious.

Even though the next 12 months include some very big personal goals, taking my time to ease into this new year feels instinctively right. You could say that I’ve been real busy slowing down.

I’ve decided that my 2018 will be a very deliberate year. A time for considered action and being brave. It’s been a while since I’ve drawn my focus selfishly close. Of all the people, things and activities which could potential draw attention outwards, I’m choosing me.

What’s most right for me?
How can I enhance my joy?
Where will I direct my energy?

It’s time to look inwards and act. It’s uncomfortable to admit, but I’ve let fear dictate too many of my choices in recent years. Listening to fear sees us place too much value on the external. It’s exhausting and unhelpful to draw energy from the outside in. On the other hand, choosing to grow and embrace your fully abundant self, requires you to work from the inside out.

While focussing inwards can sound very serious and heavy, it’s not all hard going. Some changes even make themselves known externally in a super fun way. Thanks to the wonder that is Cassie Bond, I started this year with a major hair renovation. While a new hairstyle can sometimes suggest some drastic shift, I’m a little over such sweeping generalisations. Sometimes a haircut is just a haircut.

reinvention, haircut, making changes, being brave, begin again, starting over,

Life is rich in moments of frustration, especially when you’re making tough choices or stepping beyond your comfort zone … and yet, how wonderful is that we get to write our own story? Your pages may be filled with incoherent words, scrawled scraps of sentences, and rambling paragraphs; but that’s ok. You can always edit. Your narrative can be revised time and time again.

Reinvention can happen at any stage, at any age, and at any time of year. You haven’t missed your chance to lift your game just because you didn’t begin on January 1.

Start today.

Let’s talk about pressed tofu

What’s that now? I’m doing what with my tofu now? Welcome to the wonderful world of tofu pressing – where firm tofu is transformed into something even more delicious. Tofu haters need not read on.

I ordinarily don’t really eat all that much tofu, as soy doesn’t really agree with me at volume … but I am REALLY enjoying it again of late. In any case, knowing how to press tofu is an awesome skill for any current or aspiring plant-powered person.

bbq tofu, vegan meal, vegetarian meal, vegan, vegetarian, pressed tofu, tofu

It’s a pretty great time to be plant-powered. Back in the day, I remember struggling to even find tofu at the supermarket, and if you were lucky enough to find it, you had to settle for the hard-to-remove-from-its-packaging long life version. Now, there are whole sections devoted to plant-based foods, you’ll find meat alternatives in the frozen section, and a whole range of different tofu varieties (which still prove difficult to remove from their packaging). lol. I remember being completely clueless when working with silken tofu for the first time – let’s just say, the stir fry dish I was attempting to make ended up being a pretty gross disaster. But I digress …

I first heard mention of tofu pressing in Angela Liddon’s excellent recipe for ‘Easy BBQ Tofu’ (incidentally her cookbook ‘Oh She Glows’ is amazing and filled with lots of super tasty veggie meals). Many years since I first discovered this recipe, I’m still enjoying it (and it’s probably my absolute favourite ‘junk food’ vego meal – even though it’s still pretty healthy).

You can buy lots of fancy tofu pressing gadgets, but I’m not a fan of appliances or implements which only have one purpose – I expect my equipment to multitask if it’s going to take up precious kitchen space! So my preferred form of tofu pressing is super low tech – using the weight of cans to press that tofu well and good.

tofu, tofu pressing, vegan, vegetarian, plant-powered

Pressing your tofu removes more of the moisture, allowing flavours to be more readily absorbed, and resulting in a denser texture. It does require a bit of forward planning – but it’s easy enough. Just cut your tofu into ‘steaks’ or pieces, pop it between sheets of paper towel, throw some heavy cans on top and place the container in the fridge for at least a few hours. You won’t be disappointed with the taste or the texture.

tofu, pressed tofu, fried tofu, bbq tofu, vegan meal, vegetarian meal

I hope tofu pressing is a revelation for you and your future tofu-cooking ways. Maybe you’d like to give Angela’s recipe a try too? It’s AMAZING and really versatile!! x

Three Capes Track – My Walking Experience

Two syllables heard repeated in the rhythmic tread of my feet, pulled along by the gusting winds sweeping from sea to shore, and felt deep within each beat of my heart. Such was my experience walking the Three Capes Track.

Sounding at once like a promise and a temptation. The Three Capes delivers on both.
But first, let’s go back to the beginning…

I’d often dreamed of both holidaying in Tasmania and completing a multi-day hike, but I never seemed to get around to nudging either dream into fruition. But with the approach of a milestone birthday, it finally felt like the year to act on something truly memorable. So why not do both?

Initially I toyed with the idea of walking the Overland Track, but having never completed anything beyond a one day hike, that felt a bit too ambitious. While the Overland might not have been right (yet), the idea of a multi-day hike couldn’t have felt more perfect. But which to attempt? Tasmania has so many options. A little online sleuthing reminded me of a relatively new four day and three night walk, which seemed to tick a whole lot of boxes – the Three Capes Track.

You know those moments in life where everything says YES?!? This was one of those. I loved the idea of tackling a multi-day hike in stunning surrounds, carrying everything I needed, except for a tent and cooking gear. The Three Capes Track offers a perfect blend of independence and convenience, and the right balance between luxury and roughing it.

Here follows not so much a blow-by-blow account of everything you’ll encounter on the track (I’ll post a nitty gritty guide another time). Instead you’ll find a re-telling of my personal experience walking this incredible track. If you’re short on time, I’ll give you the scoop – the Three Capes Track is life changing and you should walk it.

Day 1: Port Arthur to Surveyors (4km)

We gave ourselves plenty of time to drive from Hobart to Port Arthur, which meant that we had ample hours up our sleeve to gape at all the lovely little towns along the way, with no stress about missing our departure. Leaving our backpacks and cold weather gear in the car, we unhurriedly explored the grounds and buildings of Port Arthur. That was, until our hungry stomachs and the driving wind forced us to head back to the car, where food and fleece jackets were waiting.

Port Arthur is beautiful, surprisingly expansive, entirely fascinating, and well worth spending at least a couple of hours. It’s easy to get a little ‘convicted out’ in Tasmania, but if this is the only historical site you ever visit, you’d be well served.

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It was time to get acquainted with our backpacks, and await our boat cruise which would then take us on to the start of our on-foot adventure. The cruise, operated by Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, was lots of fun, and a great way to introduce us to the landscape we were about to explore. This is my type of cruise – there’s nothing quite like being smacked in the face with cold saltwater spray, or bracing yourself against strong gusts of wind which seemingly strike right to the chest.

Nature wakes you up and sets your senses to high sensitivity – a reminder that you’re alive and inextricably a part of the wonder which surrounds you. (Side note: if you didn’t already know that Tasmania is incredibly stunning, this cruise will introduce that concept to you in the best possible way.)

In stepping from the boat onto the white sand of Denmans Cove, I felt like the air itself was buzzing with anticipation (or maybe that was me?) – all that time preparing and dreaming of this trip, collapsed here into this single moment. Purposefully pausing here for a minute felt important – an acknowledgement that this is ACTUALLY happening and that something truly special lies ahead. And as the boat began to shrink ever smaller on the horizon, a sudden realisation that there’s no turning back. It’s time to begin.

As we set our boots to the track, it didn’t take long for the biting cold of Port Arthur to feel like it was half a world away, with warm layers soon being shed. Today’s walk was short, surprisingly steep in parts, and the weather was hot – all of which gave us plenty of excuses to pause, catch our breath and enjoy the view.

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It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at Surveyors Cabin, where we were greeted by our host ranger Jess, who may just be the most exuberant person I’ve ever met. We dropped our packs at our cabin (with pleasure!), changed into our ‘ranch-relaxo’ clothes, and joined the rest of our group who had informally gathered on the deck. Is there anything more comforting and more enjoyable than a cup of tea after a journey? I think not.

As was to be expected at the end of our first day, sleep was welcomed, yet fitful.

Day 2: Surveyors to Munro (11km)

We didn’t get a super early start today, deciding to take some extra time to redistribute our packs (plus, repacking a sleeping bag is surprisingly challenging … lol). But when we did finally head out, our feelings were mixed – it was sad to leave, yet exciting to be on our way. I think the path out from Surveyors may have been our favourite exit – perhaps due to the way the path curved enticingly off into the forest, or because our first full day of hiking lay ahead.

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The wildflowers were in bloom, the sun was shining, and we were powered by a breakfast of porridge. We made our way through eucalypt forests, windswept heathlands, and enjoyed the most incredible views out across the water. In the guide book, Arthurs Peak is described as gentle, but I’d say it’s more of a moderate gradient – your legs will know they’re working today!

This is the day I remembered that beauty fatigue is all too real. Walking this track you’ll pause to enjoy a beautiful view or take a photo, thinking that you’ll never see anything quite so breathtaking again. But then turn another corner or crest another peak and surprise, surprise, you’ll discover an equally, if not more stunning view to behold.

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We took a break to enjoy our first cup of tea on a seat overlooking the ocean, and managed to succeed in not getting blown away by the strong winds blustering around us. Further on down the track we spotted our first (and only) snake snoozing by the track, which we later figured to be a chilled out Tiger Snake.

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I won’t lie, the pack was starting to feel a bit heavy as the day wore on, so it was a great relief to step out from under it at the end of the day. And better yet, reward my weary (and no doubt smelly) body with a hot shower. So luxurious! Not everyone had a shower, but it was an absolute highlight of the trip. Showering under open skies, surrounded by bird calls and the rustle of eucalyptus leaves, was magic.

Sleep came more readily this evening, even though a toilet break was required at some point in the dark of night (at least it wasn’t raining!). The cabins at Munro are situated further from the toilets than at Surveyors, so a torch is an essential! It’s easy to forget just how dark it gets in the forest, especially when a bit of cloud cover is at play. The bonus of night-time toilet visits is that you get the chance to do a little spotlighting – I encountered pademelons and a possum along the way.

Day 3: Munro to Retakunna via The Blade (17km)

Our longest walking day was overflowing with an abundance of beauty (but then again, every day felt like that), and journeyed us through a diverse range of landscapes and vegetation. It felt very strange to leave our backpacks behind and travel with just our daypacks, but it made today much more enjoyable, especially with The Blade awaiting us.

It might seem strange, but it was a little exciting to actually have to use our rain gear today (even though it was just for an hour or so), to protect against the worst of a heavy shower. Multi-day hiking necessarily involves you packing a lot of ‘just in case’ items, so when you get to use something you’ve carried all this way, you feel like it was so worth the effort. Of course, the weather in Tasmania is as variable as the landscape, and it wasn’t long before we were back to sunshine and clear blue skies.

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Spectacular views out to the ocean were our constant travelling companion, but nothing compared to what we encountered at The Blade. You’d be forgiven for thinking that with a name like The Blade, that it’s inaccessible and off-limits to all but the most experienced climbers, but the opposite is true – it’s impressively easy to make your way out to the point. There are steps, lots of handholds, and it’s possible to stay protectively surrounded by large dolerite boulders … so it’s certainly a spot for even those not a fan of heights to enjoy. The effort is well worth it.

Wildlife was bountiful today, with highlights provided by a pair of yellow-tailed black cockatoos and a solo echidna (which would end up being the first of many encountered during our Tasmanian trip). We enjoyed our lunch in the welcome shade of Seal Spa, however the seals proved to be relatively elusive, with just a couple spied way off in the distance.

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Returning back along the same track to pick up our backpacks at Munro, it felt like being reunited with an old friend. I’d become accustomed to having the weight of my backpack on my back, and I’d honestly missed having it there. Feeling whole once again, onwards we headed to Retakunna. Of all the sites, Retakunna was my favourite. I loved it’s sprawling, open design and how the surrounding grasslands invited the outside in.

Day 4: Retakunna to Port Arthur via Cape Hauy and Fortescue Bay (14km)

The last day of our walk was our first true early morning start, giving ourselves plenty of time to make our scheduled bus back to Port Arthur. Heading out in the cool and quiet of sunrise made experiencing the climb up Mt Fortescue and through the moss-covered rainforest, that much more mystical. The guide book describes the climb as gentle, and while the track meanders beautifully up the slope, you’re still very aware that you’re heading up hill. It was cool enough to start out wearing gloves and a beanie, but part way up Mt Fortescue I was well and truly warm enough to peel the layers back to my base layer t-shirt.

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Ken, our host ranger at Retakunna told us the day before that he considered this to be the best day of the walk, and there’s a good chance I’d agree. Or at the very least, put today on par for beauty with the walk out to The Blade. We passed through an incredible, if not somewhat bewildering diversity of landscapes today – rainforest, open woodland, coastal heathland … all of which are the very best examples of their kind.

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In heading out to Cape Hauy (which is optional), we took the opportunity to leave our backpacks at the junction point, travelling on with our day packs. There were A LOT of stairs ahead of us, so keeping ourselves as light as possible was a definite advantage. Even though it’s not necessarily an easy trek out to Cape Hauy, it’s stunningly beautiful and not to be missed! We stopped for a cup of tea and a snack before braving the return trip (and all those stairs) back to the junction.

After reuniting with our backpacks, we continued on the mostly gentle and generally downhill track to Fortescue Bay – but don’t be thinking downhill means easy. By day four a lot of people’s knees were NOT loving the downhill sections. However, the end is in sight, and there’s still plenty of beauty to encounter along the way (including an echidna about 100 metres from the finish).

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When we reached the beach, it felt like an echo of the day we arrived at Denmans Cove – only now instead of acknowledging what lies ahead, it was about appreciating how far you’ve travelled on your own two feet. A perfect place to shed the hiking boots and get a little sand under the toes. With a serious craving for coffee and salty chips, we were happy to find both available at the little Fortescue Bay kiosk – it felt like such a decadent treat, and I’ve definitely had much worse cups of coffee. From there, it was just one rather bumpy bus ride back to Port Arthur and true civilisation (where a shower thankfully awaited us).

Reflections from home

This walk is a life changer, offering so much on so many levels.

There’s the obvious externalities … The landscape is incredibly beautiful. The track has been considerately constructed to enhance your walking experience, and with respect for the sensitive landscape it winds through. The overnight facilities are cleverly designed to offer just the right amount of luxury, without feeling as if you’re ever rudely intruding on the environment.

And the less obvious internalities … Carrying yourself and your pack from start to finish on a 46km hike is of course a fantastic achievement. But as you move yourself further from point A and closer to point B, the start and finish of your journey become less relevant. Your focus shifts to the present environment, on what you’re experiencing right then and there; a living, breathing practice of mindfulness.

Simplicity is a true pleasure as you become intimately attuned to your environment. Thoughts narrow to the essentials: the likelihood of rain, how far you are from shelter, when you’ll next access food or water, and how long until you’ll need to rest. The worries of your life back home seem of little consequence when you’re busy existing out in there in the natural world.

Being responsible for carrying all you need, accessing water from rainwater tanks, composting food scraps, and taking out all your rubbish are all important reminders that it’s easy to live more sustainably. From this experience, I felt reinspired to step a little lighter on the world and leave a far smaller footprint.

It’s entirely possible that out there on that track – somewhere between day one and day four, you’ll find a part of yourself. But some words of caution – if you find that piece, you won’t feel complete. Quite the opposite. If you’re anything like me, you’ll start seeking out further adventures to see what else might be found. Journeys into nature, like the Three Capes Track, give us this rare chance to dive deep into ourselves … an exploration to which I for one, could happily devote a lifetime.

Sometimes what you most need to eat isn’t food*

*(a story inspired by that time I chose poetry over icecream)

Stomachs get hungry, but brains do too. What have you been feeding yours?

We focus a lot on the foods we eat and the calories we consume, but then tend to get a bit free and easy when it comes to what we let our minds absorb.

Wherever we go and whatever we do, we’re bombarded by information on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment basis. As we go about our lives, we take on information and provide feedback in response to, a whole host of stimuli – advertisements, tv shows, websites, social media notifications, photos, magazines, emails, texts, random conversations … These interactions generally occur without you actively choosing to tune in. At every turn, there’s something to draw your attention away from what would likely bring you far greater benefit.

All that give and take requires energy. How fiercely are you protecting yours?

It is any wonder that we feel like we don’t have enough time? We DO have time, but we’re using it up and exhausting ourselves on the shit that doesn’t matter. And the shit that doesn’t matter?!?! It’s REALLY sneaky … it has ways and means of making you feel like all of it DOES matter … Spoiler alert: it doesn’t!!

Instead of getting caught by the meaningless minutiae, channel your awareness into what’s truly meaningful for you … like enjoying a REAL conversation with someone you care about. Or being kind without seeking reward. Or doing something that recharges your soul batteries (like reading poetry).

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Energy is finite. On a universal level, it’s neither created or destroyed.

It’s therefore completely on you to use what you’ve got wisely. If you allow something as precious as your personal energy store get drowned out by the noise of life, you’ll be doing yourself SUCH a disservice.

Focus more on what actively fills you up and focus less on what passively powers you down.

If you feed your brain the right kind of fuel, it will thank you in countless ways. Your mind will expand. New neural pathways will be mapped. You’ll grow more into yourself.

Food is great, no doubt. But never neglect how else you choose to nourish yourself. The first step is recognising that you DO have a choice – both in how you spend your energy, and in how you top up your fuel tanks. And for me this week, true nourishment took the form of poetry over icrecream. What would it look like for you?

PS. I could have almost been convinced to read poetry AND eat icecream, but I’m a budget-conscious girl, and my favourite icecream ain’t cheap! I try to only ever buy it when it’s on sale. #tight

PPS. When you next time you’re looking to eat icecream, the best icecream EVER is Over the Moo dairy-free icecream. It’s a little pricey (see above), but completely AMAZING!!

On letting go and finding yourself

Even though it may start out that way, letting go isn’t really about owning less stuff – it’s about making space for the stuff that really matters. In many ways, it’s about shedding the unimportant, and owning more of who we truly are.

Let go of what no longer serves you.
Sharpen your focus.
Dedicate more time and energy to fulfilling your higher purpose.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by busy, and feel burdened by the weight of worry and stress. In so many ways, the noise and pace of ‘modern’ life encourages us to exist in this unsustainable space. But please remember that it’s ok to relax.

In the openness created by us ‘downing tools’ or temporarily disconnecting ourselves from our troubles, our creative mind can play and start to weave a little magic.

Here we learn.
Here we grow.
Here we expand.

If we don’t regularly indulge our inquisitive mind and our inherent sense of playfulness, our minds become stagnant and uninspired. We in turn then adopt a very singular, very ‘set-in-our-ways’ attitude. By rejecting novelty and avoiding newness, the face we turn to view the world, becomes rigid and hard.

The universe desires expansion and tends endlessly towards chaos (or in other words, encourages possibility). If we try to resist those natural energetic pulls, we may just find ourselves stuck. Self-inflicted restrictions and limitations are often the most difficult prisons to escape.

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By taking a moment, every so often, to relinquish a little of the control which we try to impose in so much of our life, we gift the good stuff with the opportunity to rise to the surface. It’s surprisingly exhausting to exert control over every single thing in every single moment, and it misdirects a whole lot of our energy.

Far better to proactively focus on giving some of your time and energy to nothing. In doing so, you may just discover the everything which exists around all the noise and the busy. Get into the habit of giving yourself permission to rest on a regular basis, and you’ll likely unlock the door to something new. Be sure to take a peek!

Become an explorer of your own inner landscape, and reclaim ownership of the territory within. It’s so worth it. x


How to vibrate higher & keep yourself grounded

I’ve got a lot happening in my world right now – my energy is up, action is being taken and progress is being made. Magic (in the sense of deep thought and hard work) IS happening, and I’m loving it! The air around me is buzzing with possibility.

I know it’s often said, but attitude really is EVERYTHING, right? When you look at the world with creative curiosity and accept that you don’t actually NEED to have ALL the answers, you lift yourself to a whole different level. You rise above.

As these shifts occur inwardly, they’re then reflected outwardly, and it feels as if everything around you responds in kind to meet your new perspective. This isn’t about declaring yourself as being better than everyone else, or passing judgement on anyone else’s journey. Instead, this is about rising up to meet more of yourself, to become more you than you have EVER been before.

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Such has been my expansive headspace of late. The real challenge for me as I experience all these ‘light bulb’ moments, is trying not to get swept up by the enticing swirl of energy and succumbing to the feeling of ‘OH MY GOD!! I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!!!’

This frantic wish to act IMMEDIATELY on everything all at once (which is an impossibility in any case), can actually become a trap of inaction. It’s all too easy to lose your lightness of thought, get completely overwhelmed by your journey of growth, and find yourself weighed down instead of lifted up.

A much better approach is to allow your inquisitiveness and interest to abide, while at the same time keeping yourself grounded. One way I keep myself grounded is to remember my feet – it’s easy to forget about them, but they really do an incredible job of carrying me through life.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, take a moment to appreciate your amazing feet. Sure, they serve a functional purpose, but they also keep you grounded physically, mentally and emotionally. Perhaps more importantly though, they serve as a reminder that you’re part of, and inextricably connected to, something so much bigger.

Look up and focus your energy forward absolutely, but don’t forget to look down from time to time. x