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The Proposal / Blue Mountains Action-Packed Itinerary

Two weekends ago, I got engaged! To say I was caught off guard is an understatement- my boyfriend (now fiancé!!!) completely threw me off track!! You see, I have been known to ruin surprises, so he covered all his bases to ensure that I couldn’t this time! Firstly, some back story… Mike and I met in Costa Rica. He was there for the waves, I was there for the yoga. I walked into the afternoon yoga class in a bit of a mood, and there he was! We just hung out for the week, having breakfasts and laying on the beach. The following week, I was visiting him in Laguna Beach, California. Before I knew it, I was extending my trip to stay with him a couple of weeks! Soon after I returned home to Sydney, he had booked to stay with me for a full month 🙂 Next, I spent Christmas with his family in the USA, and decided to live with him for a few months in California. After 3 months, I came home, and 6 weeks later, Mike was moving in with me here, in Sydney, Australia!!

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So! This past weekend was our three year anniversary. Months ago Mike told me not to plan anything, that he had it under control. This totally surprised me, I am definitely the planner in the relationship! But graciously, I anticipated what he had up his sleeve. To be honest, I had been so flat out with work and uni that I just didn’t have time to investigate what he was up to!

The day came and he told me to pack light, warm, yoga/hiking clothes and one nice outfit for the day. He came home from work on Friday and I was all ready to go in my jeans when he told me change of plans, he is wearing a suit and so I better put on a dressier outfit!

We turned up to Lilianfels, a gorgeous, luxury hotel in the Blue Mountains. He had booked us dinner at Darley’s, and had organised it to be entirely vegan. It was divine! Innovative, fine-dining, renowned for its fresh local produce. The vibe is warm, friendly and a little bit old-world… I felt like I was in a scene of Cluedo!

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Next, we were driving through the pitch black night to an unknown destination. He pulled up outside a cabin. He told me it was called the Dream Cabin, and in the morning I would find out why. We woke to the birds chirping, the cabin filled with sunlight, nothing but green tall trees all around us. Looking up to the ceiling, it was as though the entire cabin was a permanent Wooden Teepee! It had a steep secret passageway to an upstairs sitting room, a big fireplace, a gorgeous separate bathroom outside with a spa overlooking the valley, and was just beautifully and artistically decorated. The best way I can describe it is part boho, part country, part other-worldly.

The sweetest of sleeps & the freshest of mornings in our Dream Cabin Except the night we got engaged, I kept wanting to wake Mike up so we could chat haha! Ahh what a week! Happy Saturday to youuu I've been trying to do my own research but would love if I had your help- any fav #weddinginspo accounts? And any tips for a #destinationwedding?

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Mike had a full day of activities planned for each day. Day 1, vegan cafe: Secret Creek. It is located within an animal sanctuary, so is surrounded by kangaroos and emus! We ordered a huge vegan brekky, and found the most delicious vegan scones EVER.

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Next, we went on a fun hike for about 1.5 hours to a creek down the mountain from our cabin.

IMG_0006On the way back to the cabin we found a stall on the side of the road selling locally grown produce and stocked up on the best Bilpin apples and bush honey to take home. Later, we enjoyed the cabin, and ran a long bath in the outside bathroom. We bought bubbles, candles, tea and a body scrub and had an indulgent, relaxing afternoon.

At 7pm, there was knock on our door, and a lovely lady called Caroline walked in. Mike explained she was going to be cooking for us all weekend, and had pre-organised the menus to ensure they were all vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free! First night, we had a Lentil Dahl with green beans and spinach, followed by raw Strawberry Cheesecake tarts. We ate everything by the fire and just spent the night chatting and laughing.

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We were up early the next morning… I was so excited to give Mike my anniversary pressies. I had made a riddle card for him all about our time together, and left spaces blank for him to guess/fill in, which corresponded with a bunch of different presents 🙂 He loved it! Afterward, back to Secret Creek! Insane fluffy vegan pancakes, I will forever dream of them!

Pancake Sunday in the Blue Mountains.... Believe me when I say- the BEST pancakes we have ever had- and Mike used to live in America! And they're vegan So fluffy, with crispy edges Plus a pot of chai & loads of sunshine ☀️ #bestweekendever @secretcreekcafe

After a quick hello to the animals, we proceeded to Blackheath farmers markets, which we were lucky were on, as they are only on monthly. Low and behold, there was a vegan bakery stall at these markets! So we stocked up on yummy food for a picnic in the Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens later. On the way, we went to a few lookouts to see the spectacular view all around us. They were absolutely breathtaking, and I am so glad we took the time to take them all in.

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Finally, at the Botanical Gardens, we walked through the forest area (getting a little lost!) and found a picnic spot. We set up a towel, with all of our market goodies, and just enjoyed eachothers company, good food, and the lizards that kept popping out to say hello 🙂

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As I was finally getting to dessert (a juicy passionfruit), Mike starts talking about how much he loves me. I noticed he put something behind his legs, as he got on his knees, siting upright beside me. I’m looking up at him thinking “yeh, I know all this! I know we love each other!” He tells me to put the passionfruit down. I think, oh, maybe he got me an anniversary pressie? Never did I ever imagine what would happen next… He starts talking about our future and what it holds and then brings out a small box. It’s only until he said, “Sami, I’m doing this!!” that I realised what was happening! He opened the box and I see the most incredible, glistening diamond ring. I was stunned. I screamed “yes!” and bowled him over to shower him with tears and kisses.

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To be honest, the details are such a blur! I had so much adrenaline rushing through me, I just remember the pure joy and emotion that I felt in that moment. I couldn’t have dreamed up a more magical weekend. And this just made it ridiculous! I was so happy, so overjoyed. We called family and friends, took endless photos, and then just enjoyed eachother’s company as we walked through the gardens.

Later, Mike had planned a glow-worm tour which unfortunately got cancelled. But to be honest, I was in such a love bubble, I didn’t mind at all.

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We ran another beautiful spa bath, and were treated to Caroline’s vegan cooking once again for a celebratory dinner in our cabin. This time Ratatouillie with polenta and pumpkin, and a lemon pistachio cake with cashew cream to finish. To be honest, that first sleep was pretty restless… I just wanted it to be morning so we could chat again!! I kept touching my ring, and waking myself up with my smile. I was so, so happy.

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The next day was Monday, and Mike had Caroline come early for a beautiful outdoor breakfast on our balcony. This next part is probably one of my favourite surprises… he had arranged for her to make my green smoothie recipe that I make every single morning!! I just couldn’t believe the thought he put in to each and every detail. I squealed with delight (actually!) and drank it all up.

This long weekend has just been surprise after surprise I've tried to capture it all on snap chat & my Insta story On our first morning as an engaged couple Mike had a vegan brekky delivered to our door... He had pre-given the chef the recipe to my green smoothie I make every single day!! The thoughtfulness that has gone into his plans has blown me away! I love this cabin (appropriately called Dream Cabin), I love my ring (from @midasjewellersbondijunction, check out their page for an epic video/closeup ) and I love my man Thank you all for the warm, heart-felt messages. It has made it that much more special. I love you too!!!! Bursting with love ✨✨

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We did a little yoga outside, and then made our way to a hike Mike had been recommended. We went offtrack and found a beautiful waterfall and natural pool, with crystal clear water. We threw off our clothes and went skinny dipping! It was absolutely freezing! But we didn’t care. We were on such a high.

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After our hike, we had to pack up and leave the Dream Cabin 🙁 I was sad the weekend was coming to a close, but Mike assured me he had a few more surprises to come! He took me to Leura, where he had found ANOTHER incredible vegan cafe, Rubyfruit (seriously, the vegan scene in these areas blew me away!). We ordered the most delicious feast – vegan burrito and beetroot bean burger, coconut cream cake and a banana chocolate brownie! At this point we were receiving all of our congratulatory messages, as we had been out of reception for most of the weekend. The disconnection was definitely nice, and allowed us to be extremely in the moment.

We then drove back to Lilianfels, where I found out he had organised a decadent spa package for us both in the couples room – scrubs, massage, facial, spa, sauna, steam… it was so luxurious and I felt incredibly spoiled. We spent the afternoon walking around the property looking at the beautiful views and grounds, before making the drive back to Sydney.

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When we got to Sydney, he told me we had reservations at 8pm at Otto, who now offer a vegan menu! We had another yummy vegan meal, shared a thousand more laughs, talked about the past, that weekend, and our exciting future together.

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It was by far, the best time of our lives. I don’t know if anything will ever top it! Mike has completely filled my life with so much love and passion since the moment I met him. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky. Happiness doesn’t cut it, I am overjoyed, over the moon, BURSTING with love and excitement for my life as his partner, forever and ever!

Thank you all for being so excited for me. I know so many of you watched my SnapChat and Insta-story and so I really felt like you were there in spirit, and wanted to share our action-packed itinerary with you. I hope you guys get to visit some these places! I had the time of my life, but I know with Mike, it only gets better.

Looking forward to sharing wedding planning details and my health preparation leading up to it. Hint: it will be a destination wedding 😉

Sending you lots of love and good health, always…

Sami

xoxo

Inspired by: Stef Jung, WholesomeStef

Continuing on with our Inspired By series, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the lovely, well-travelled, fitness enthusiast and health coach, Stef. Stef has recently moved from Switzerland to Sydney and has a story very similar to so many women of all ages. She is on a mission to lift others out of the darkness and destruction that comes with disordered eating and an unhealthy relationship with food and body image. Keep reading to find out more about Stef’s past, how she cares for herself today, her health philosophy and much, much more!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became involved in the health industry?

I haven’t always been this healthy. In fact, I used to be a fad dieting, self-destructive treadmill junkie that obsessively counted calories and stepped on the scale up to five times a day. I had that “inner mean girl” syndrome, meaning that I was constantly telling myself I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, and the list goes on. After years and years of self loathing, I decided one day that enough was enough and that it was time to start taking care of myself. It’s been a long and hard journey, but five years later I have overcome my eating disorder and have created a healthy, fulfilled life for myself that I am absolutely in love with.

As I became more intrigued by the power of nutrition, mind – body connection and a holistic lifestyle in general, I realized that I wanted to help others with their own struggles. I am now a certified health coach and it is my goal to inspire other young girls and women to live their life to the fullest by becoming the healthiest and happiest version of them self, minus the deprivation, restriction and obsession around food and exercise.

What is your personal health philosophy? 

For me, being truly healthy isn’t just about what you eat and how much you train. It’s about so much more than that. You can eat all the kale in the world and live from juice cleanse to juice cleanse, but if you are not nourishing your soul on a deeper level, your body and mind don’t thrive. I think that being truly healthy means nourishing your body with whole foods, exercising because you love your body (not because you hate it!) and living a life that fulfills you and makes you happy. It’s something that I had to learn the hard way, but now I truly understand the importance of having the right mindset. Photo-21-06-2016-1-46-01-PM-e1466481045257

How do you begin your morning?

I love starting my morning by thinking about three things that I am grateful for. If my partner and I wake up at the same time, we ask each other what those three things are and then get up together. Next up is either a mini yoga flow (5 minutes), a journaling sesh or I go straight to preparing breakfast, depending on the schedule for that day. Oh, and I like to oil pull or drink my lemon water with ginger, cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar while getting breakfast ready. Depending on my schedule, I might even get my workout in in the morning, so on those days I’m off to a class straight away and will have my nourishing morning routine post-workout.

What does a typical day look like on your plate?

I don’t believe in dietary labels and love mixing things up and trying new things. That means that no day ever looks the same! I tried going fully vegan once, but realized that, because of my restrictive past, it was triggering at times. These days I eat a very balanced, mainly plant-based diet with lots of fresh unprocessed foods. If I do eat animal products, I make sure I buy organic produce of the highest quality. I listen to my body and nurture it with whatever it asks for; that may be a vegan salad with quinoa, spinach and sweet potato or a bar of (dark and organic) chocolate. Some staple meals of mine are: tofu stir fry with buckwheat noodles and leafy greens, a green smoothie with vegan protein powder, hummus with veggie sticks as a snack and a warming oatmeal for brekky. 

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Right now I’m actually on Sarah Wilson’s 8-week I Quit Sugar program, and like I said, I love experimenting with new foods and seeing how my body and mind react. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so it’s been more of mental challenge than anything.

Fitness is a huge part of your life. What is your workout routine and do you have any tips you can offer on how to commit to an exercise regimen? 

Since moving to Sydney, I haven’t had a real workout routine per se. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked out everyday! I’m actually using Classpass at the moment and I really enjoy trying out new studios and types of workouts throughout the city. I’ve alIMG_9090finaleso been very active in nature and have been going on regular runs and even took up surfing. I find it really important to mix things up and love to push myself out of my comfort zone every day, otherwise I get bored easily! These days I’ve been doing one crossfit/functional training/ weight lifting type of workout per day + one more relaxing stretching session like yoga or pilates.

If you struggle sticking to your workout routine, I recommend finding a workout buddy that holds you accountable and also to schedule your workouts into your calendar. It’s all too easy to forget or neglect the commitment to yourself, but if it’s scheduled in, it makes it just that bit harder to ignore.

What are the three foods you have to have on your desert island? 

I go through phases with food, but I could never live without

  • Hummus

  • Coconut yoghurt

  • Spinach

What is the greatest health advice you have ever been given? 

That health is a journey, not a goal. It took me many years of dissatisfaction and body dysmorphia to realize this, but now I understand the importance of “enjoying the ride”. If you are always working towards that one far distant goal, then you will never be happy with yourself in the moment. 

It seems you have travelled/lived all around the globe! Where did you find was the easiest city to embrace a healthy lifestyle? Do you have a favourite fitness studio or cafe in that city? 

Sydney by far! There is such a huge health scene here with many amazing studios, healthy cafés, sporty events and a bunch of beautifully inspiring like-minded people that help you stay motivated and on track. In fact, that’s pretty much the reason why I moved here…Europe, and especially Switzerland (where I moved from) is so far behind on the trend, so it’s been a refreshing scenery change for me. Plus, the warm weather and beautiful nature just makes you want to be active outdoors all day long. One of my favorite cafés is Sadhana Kitchen in Bondi (if you’re skeptical about raw vegan cuisine, this place will change your mind!) and I love Urban Yoga and Humming Puppy for a good yoga session.

Like so many of us, you have overcome a difficult relationship with food, body image and self love. Do you ever still struggle with this? And if so, what do you do to pull yourself out of it? 

Yes, definitely! I still struggle from time to time, just like everyone else. But over the years I’ve assembled a whole list of tricks that help me deal with a bad day. From taking a walk by myself to dry body scrubbing, writing in my gratitude book or talking it out with my bestie or partner before the feeling manifests itself, it’s all about self love and acceptance on those days. It’s when everIMG_9323ything seems to go wrong that kindness is more important than ever. No matter how busy I am I will try to find some “me time”, as my health and happiness will always be number one priority.

I also like to remind myself of this quote (one of my faves!):

You are under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.”

 The quote is a reminder that even if you had a crappy start to the day, it doesn’t have to ruin the rest of their day. Become aware of your feelings, work through them and pick yourself back up.

One more thing that I want to add: It’s always been my goal to be as authentic and raw as possible with my audience. I allow myself to be vulnerable and try to always share when I feel down, frustrated, annoyed, insecure etc. There are way too many accounts out there that showcase this picture-perfect world, and it can be very triggering for girls who compare their own life to the highly edited life of social influencers. What’s important to realize is that we all struggle from time to time, and it’s my goal to show both the ups and the downs.

Please share with us one of your favourite clean recipes! 

Stef’s Vegan Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Serves: 2

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Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp ground flax seeds

  • ½ cup of water

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 2 very ripe bananas

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (we used almond)

  • 1 cup of blueberries

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

  • ½ tbsp nutmeg

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 cup of ground buckwheat (buckwheat flour)

  • Coconut oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Start by making your flax eggs: mix the ground flax seeds and water in a small bowl, mix with a fork and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.

  2. Mix all your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, spices).

  3. Mash your bananas and add to the dry mix along with the mix, vanilla and flax eggs.

  4. Once all well mixed, add the blueberries and mix gently.

  5. Heat up a pan with a small tsp of coconut oil.

  6. Add 2 big tbsp of the mixture at a time and cook.

  7. Add homemade vegan chocolate sauce.

  8. Sprinkle with fresh blueberries and coconut flakes before serving.

Connect with Stef:

Instagram: @wholesomestef

Facebook: www.facebook.com/wholesomestef

Website: www.wholesomestef.com

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