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Our Vegan Wedding – 10.03.2018

I am finally sitting down and writing a post on my favourite day to date. I suspected that the elation I felt when Mike got down on one knee would be matched if not surpassed by our wedding day, and everyone told me “it’s the best day of your lives”… and still, nothing quite prepared us for it! How can it? It really is unparalleled and indescribable. You feel like a king and queen for the day, everyone is so, so overwhelmingly happy for you, and you get a whole 24 hours to blabber on about your great love.


Mike and I decided to get married on the tropical island of Kauai because it is halfway between our two homes – Canada and Australia. We visited here a few times en route to seeing our Canadian family, and fell head over heels in love with everything about it. The scenery, the vibe, the people, the food, the animals, the activities, it felt like us in island-form if that makes any sense at all. And so it was decided, Kauai it would be.

We had 92 friends and family make the journey from all over the world. We felt very lucky and this of course, made it so special for us.

We began the long weekend with a welcome drinks at the St Regis overlooking Hanalei Bay, where the Mai Tai’s were flowing. Friends tell me 6 months later, they cannot even look at a Mai Tai on the menu! It was a white welcome party, and I came dressed in a black and colourful For Love & Lemons dress with green velvet shoes from Shoes Of Prey. We had the best time!

   

 

 

 

 

Two days later (time to recover from the welcome, tactical) I woke up and it was our wedding day. My bridesmaids and I made a healthy, low salt veggie-based dinner the night before (no fluid retention!). I watched my best friend’s wedding with my best friend in bed with a face mask and went to sleep early. In the morning, after cuddles with my mum, we had green juices delivered from the best juice spot in town – Akami Juice. I had then arranged for a yoga session with my girls on the lawn of our place, overlooking the ocean. It was a little cool but the rain held off (as it did all day!) and we had a grounding practice where I was able to really centre and connect with myself, so I could take every micro-moment in.

         

When we were done, we had fruit and nuts spread out for snacks during hair and makeup. I was the last to sit in the chair. Old school favourite tunes were playing in our bedroom, and I was just chilling sipping my green juice watching the women in my life get beautified. I felt so happy. I gifted each of my girls a necklace with the letter of their name printed on it, and chose gold, silver or hammered finish to suit each one.

          

All of a sudden, every 30 mins or so my best friends would pull out a small gift and note, little trinkets my husband-to-be had collected for me to open on my wedding day. My favourite was a book on Happiness, he had bookmarked quotes he thought were relevant, and woven them in to his messages. Each of the gifts were special and meaningful, and I was absolutely shocked by the sentiment. I am very sentimental so he knocked this out of the park! I also had prepared something for him which I gave to him the night before when he left for his hotel.

   

Then it was my turn in the chair and I had my hair curled wavy with a small loose braid pinned to one side, and my makeup applied bronze and glowy. I was ready! We shared a glass of bubbles in our robes, cheers’d, giggled and then in the blink of an eye I was in my magical wedding dress and veil, gliding down the staircase.

          

Mike’s getting ready pics were amazing, so I just thought I’d include them… He practiced his vows in front of the most epic view of Hanalei, made up handshakes with his groomsmen to do as they walked down the aisle, and virtually became a boy band in their photo’s at the St Regis.

   

The Ceremony

      
When we picked the teak forest at Na Aina Kai I was conflicted. My only thing I ever imagined as a younger girl was getting married in a garden. I didn’t ever dream of my dress or the decor, but I always assumed it would be a garden. The forest, in one way or another was indeed a garden, but it was much more dramatic, and perhaps more “wintery” than I had hoped for. Yet something within me wanted it. When we were both in that space together, scoping out locations, we both knew that this was where we would begin our lives together as husband and wife. There was something so enchanting and ethereal about it, the air so fresh and crisp, the stillness so calming. It just felt right. So, i departed from my original visual I had and just rolled with it! I am so happy I did that 🙂 If you are struggling with what you expected and what you have found, go with your gut, visualise yourself now not what you may have anticipated.

    

My mum walked me down the aisle and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She was by my side as we walked down to a soloist singer and guitarist sing Cold Play’s Magic. I remember being really worried I would feel awkward walking down the aisle with all eyes on me – but I didn’t. I barely noticed anything except Mike at the end of the aisle surrounded by the sun-soaked tall trees. I remember feeling calm and certain, and that’s all I could have ever hoped for. We had an “unplugged” ceremony, meaning the only camera was the professional photographers, and I really think that brought everyone in to the present moment.

There were so many epic moments during our ceremony… We had a chance to close our eyes and centre ourselves as soon as I arrived; we were given an opportunity to turn to face our guests and look each of them individually in the eye one-by-one; our celebrant spectacularly cracked open a coconut with nothing but a rock so we could share the coconut water straight from the shell, he then poured some out for those who couldn’t be with us; members of our family from all over the world brought a small amount of water from each of those countries that meant something to us and these were poured into a huge shell which we washed each others hands with, symbolising purification through forgiveness and how vital forgiveness is; We wrote our own heartfelt vows and I saw Mike cry for the first time ever; the sun came gleaming through the trees in so many special moments; We placed our hands on each others cheeks and went forehead to forehead, with our eyes closed, whilst the officiant spread seeds all around us; I surprised Mike with an inscription in his ring; we kissed a kiss which felt like time stood still; And most magically of all, we became husband & wife.

         

We walked up the aisle to “Love never felt so good” by Michael Jackson and were whisked away to spend a few mins just the two of us post ceremony (see pic of us kissing above). I highly recommend that, hello’s can be had later.

       

We then went off for photos through the different areas – the forest, hilltop, gardens, and later on, in time for sunset, the beach and some more ocean view areas. In these moments we just debriefed and pinched ourselves, whilst the photographer and videographer snapped away. It was really nice quality time and we drank it all in.

              

 

The Reception

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived at our reception to our guests nibbling on a vegan charcuterie station and finger-food appetisers. The bar was open and the signature cocktails – SaMai Tai and Mike-ito’s were flowing. Kombucha was on offer for those who didn’t want to drink. We walked in to Romeo & Juliet’s “Young Hearts Run Free” and went straight to the dance floor, where we told our wedding party and family to kick it off with us. After a little dancing and some warm congratulations and hugs, my brothers took the the microphone to begin MC-ing the night. They were hilarious! At this point, I finally got to taste some of the snacks 😉

Charcuterie Station

Roasted and Raw Vegetables

Artichoke Heart Baba Ganoush

Hummus

Mushroom Pate

Kalamata Olives

Savory Nuts

Grapes

Dried Fruit

Assortment of Crackers and Bread

Waitstaff Passed Vegan Appetizer Menu

Taro falafel pita, cashew preserved lemon aioli, shredded lettuce, Kauai fresh tomato, pickled jalapeno

Fresh okara, caramelized shiro miso, julienne garden vegetables, shiitake, toasted sesame, wonton spoon

Hamakua mushroom poke, ogo, green onion, Hawaiian chili pepper

       

Guests were able to find their seat thanks to a huge greenery backdrop that had vegan leather luggage tags pinned to it with their name and table name. Each table was named after beaches that meant something to Mike and I. When they got to their table, they would see their personalised menu to locate their seat. The luggage tags also had a cute “love travels” motif with our initials included.

Our wedding “vibe” changed over the course of planning. It went from pretty garden party vibes to more neutrals and metallics. One thing I always wanted it to be was romantic. Even though we were on island, I didn’t want it to be beachy, and thought being by the beach was enough. I don’t know what you would classify my end look as, it turned out to be white washed tables with a beige runner, white plates, dark gold cutlery with amber goblets and sand coloured knotted napkins atop the menus. We also had a big greenery installation hanging from above which brought some of the lusciousness of the nature surrounding the see-through marquee inside. Wild bunches of gum leaves and dark greens, whites and pops of deep purple flowers speckled the table in various sized vases accompanying candles, matching the purple/mauve font of the signage. We had a mix of cafe and fairy lights covering the roof of the clear tent for the nighttime, and of course, lots of lights for the dancefloor.

We scattered our speeches throughout the night, so no more than two people spoke at a time. It was good that way, we felt, so every speech got the attention it deserved. We laughed and cried so much! I loved every word spoken. I also made a speech, which I am glad I did. If you’re contemplating it as a bride, I definitely say go for it! The look on your husband’s face is 100% worth it in the moment, and everyone hangs on your every word :p

     

Plated Vegan Dinner Menu

Salad Course

Kailani farms mixed greens, Hanalei taro and Okinawan sweet potato croquette, roasted and pickled beets, Hawaiian salt candied macadamia nuts, avocado, lemon vinaigrette

Assorted breads and vegan coconut butter

Entrée Course

Lawai mushroom risotto, shiitake lemongrass curry broth, roasted local mushrooms, haricot vert, fresh herb salad, macadamia nut butter

Pho, compressed hoisin tofu ravioli, vegan pho broth, bean sprout, pickled jalapeno, jade pesto, charred lime

In case it isn’t apparent, we had a vegan wedding! No animals were harmed – and even though it was challenging at times, we persisted. Sure, I worried what my guests would think or say but at the end of the day we really didn’t want to inject money into something on arguably the most important day that didn’t feel us. The day had to reflect who we are. We also went plastic-free. We had people who have never eaten a non-meat meal, licking the plate (you know who you are!). The only mishap was the coconut butter that was served with bread, so many guests thought this was white chocolate and ate it whole 😉

We had a photo booth lined up, however unfortunately, it was cancelled last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. In a frenzy, we decided to use a gold backdrop with gold-sprayed palms for people to take polaroids against. This was fun and I ended up really liking it, however I will say, I didn’t really see any of the polaroids as guests took them! Either way, it was great to have that kind of experience for everyone to enjoy.

After Mike’s speech we went straight into cake-cutting. Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” was played and we shimmied our way to the dance floor. We cut a small piece, fed each other, and kissed. Our wedding cake, which was three tiers of coconut cream deliciousness was also completely vegan. Cake was accompanied by a delicious shaved ice station, a nod to a Hawaii favourite and perfect for the heat. As expected, everyone ended up pouring vodka over their dessert!

 

 

 

 

 

After the cake we went straight into our first dance which was Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea”. It’s a classic, it’s timeless and it felt appropriate given we were by the sea, Mike loves the sea, and no ocean has ever come between us :p We had so much fun with it, and actually did dance lessons to prepare. Once Mike dipped me, Bruno Mars “Treasure” came on and everyone poured onto the dance floor. The rest is kind of a blur! I did all the traditional things – bouquet toss, garter throw – there was lots of twirling, picking me up, congo lines and more.

     

At the end of the night I changed into a comfortable white jumpsuit and we all piled into busses that took us to the after party at a tiki bar in town, the Tahiti Nui, where the night kicked on.

   

Mike and I stayed the night in the St Regis and had an amazing view of the whole of Hanalei. In the morning, we dressed up in our matching two-piece pineapple-print outfits and headed back to our family home for the week where we hosted a recovery brunch of bean, scrambled tofu, purple sweet potato and veggie breakfast burrito’s, chia puddings, fruit and fresh juices.

…And that’s about it! Woah! Can’t believe I finally got to share all that with you. And really can’t believe it’s all over. It really feels like an incredible dream. Even six months on I remember it so vividly. I’ll forever hold these memories close to my heart.  

My words of advice are pretty straight-forward, but I hope they help any brides-to-be. Don’t let planning get in the way of the love you two share, and don’t have the mentality that it’s only the bride’s special day. I mean, it’s funny to joke about, but really think what your groom would enjoy too. If he doesn’t seem interested, short-list everything and then approach him with only 2-3 options for final say. Nobody wants to see your pinterest board except you, your mother, your wedding planner and mayyyybe your maid of honour, if you’re lucky!! Get a wedding planner if you can, especially if it is a destination wedding. Ours was invaluable. Make your special day reflect you. As I mentioned, a vegan wedding in a place away from my home was not easy, but it was us and it was worth it. Find a superstar wedding planner who honours your choices!

I said all the words I needed to say to my husband in my vows, my wedding speech, my letter the night before and card on the day, and of course, to his handsome face every single day since 🙂 But i’ll sign off with this,

Mike – It was the best day of our lives, but every single day since has seen me fall more deeply in love with you. Thank you for being my partner through it all!

Endless love, light and health to you all!

Thank you for reading <3

 

A breakdown of the finer details:

  • My engagement story
  • Dress: Steven Khalil
  • Shoes: Shoes of Prey – can make your own vegan leather shoes!
  • Earrings: Marlena DuPelle
  • Engagement and wedding rings: Midas Jewellers
  • Something blue, borrowed & old: Sapphire & gold ring of my grandmothers
  • Grooms Suit and groomsmen:
  • Bridesmaids dresses: Bec and Bridge
  • Venue: Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens, Kauai
  • Colour Scheme/Decor: romantic, metallics and neutrals, lush greenery, hint of boho
  • Flowers & Decor: Steven Boyle Design
  • Contemporary flavours catering: Food & Drink
  • Entertainment: Live music for ceremony and canopy hour (Pancho Graham), DJ for dancing into the night (Kustom Sounds)
  • Cake: Kawaii Designs, Hawaii
  • Wedding favours: Luggage tags Heart Carved Tree
  • Invitations: The Little Press
  • Officiant: Kelvin Ho
  • Hair & Make up: Mia Moriguchi
  • Photographer: Bayleigh Vedelago
  • Videographer: Lemon Tree Film House
  • Wedding Planner: Moana Events

Healthy, Cruelty-free Holiday Gift Ideas

The holiday season is here and with it, a lot of pressure to get great gifts for those you love. I actually really enjoy gift-giving, and begin to think about it far earlier than I need to so that I can feel extra prepared and don’t miss out on finding the perfect present! With that said, I’ve been compiling this list of ideas that I have had and thought I would share them with you. I try to think of the person I am giving it to of course, but I like a gift to align with my own values of vegan and health-promoting, and support amazing small businesses too. I hope you find these ideas helpful. Let me know if I have missed anything or if you have any interesting ideas of your own. I’d love to hear them 🙂

 

Nutrition Consultation Gift Voucher – I offer gift voucher’s for initial consultations or consult packages. You or a loved one will receive a 1-1 consult that runs through health history, family history, presenting symptoms, health goals and interpretation of existing pathology/functional testing and receive a full treatment plan with dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes, a meal guide, recipes, shopping list and strategies for success. Practitioner only supplementation and further testing recommended where needed.

Health & Bloom Meal plans – A little bit more personalised, but not as intimate as a consult. Find out more here.

Tabletop Water Filter best water filter I have found, water tastes amazing, remineralises your water and it gets rid of everything you don’t want in your cup, including flouride.

Urbipod – grow your own herbs and micro greens inside and with ease! Have loved mine.

Byron Bay Chopping Boards I love my chopping boards from these guys! They are such incredible quality and they offer engraving which looks awesome. Highly recommend. 

Saint Belford 2019 Diary – goal-oriented, clear and useful. I loved my 2018 one and already have mine for 2019 🙂 15% off with code: samibloom

Eminence Organic Skincare – my go-to for organic, clean skincare. Most are vegan, all cruelty-free. Stone crop is one of my favourite ranges. 

Sans beast Vegan Leather Bags – amazing quality vegan-leather bags, everyone always compliments me on mine. I love every single one!

Adidas Slides – I find these soooo comfortable. My go-to yoga shoe 🙂

Infrared Sauna or Float Tank Voucher – relaxation central…

TDE Vegan Leather Range – so supportive of any company that caters to vegans, even if they are not 100% vegan. Gotta celebrate small wins! I encourage you to purchase from the vegan capsule, the make up bags are gorgeous.

Bath Caddy – I want one of these! You can find a few other ones on Etsy too, but this one seemed the most affordable available in Aus

Essential Oil Diffuser– every house (room :p) needs one

Earthing Mat– I think these look really interesting, and am thinking of getting one myself. The small ones are a great idea for under the desk if you are in an office 5 days a week!

Reusable Coffee Cup – support the plastic-free, no-waste movement

Stainless Steel Drink Bottle another way to encourage less plastic, and also keep your family/friends hydrated and healthy!

Kiipiixx – print Instagram pics!

Ninja – kitchen appliances. I love the 4-in-one set. Overall, a fantastic quality set that is definitely value for money.

Breathe by Dr Belisa Vranich – life-changing info about breathing and how to improve your health by something you’re already doing (and actually have to do)!

 

STOCKING STUFFERS!

Blue Light Blocking Glasses – protect those eyes from all that computer time! Such a thoughtful gift.  

Nut Mylk Base– not only good for you, but an incredible environmental initiative that tackles both food waste (from the pulp) and garbage (from the cartons)

Ere Perez – Mineral make up, vegan make up brushes (No need for real hair), and ten-free veg-based nail polishes. 

A’kin Rose Hip Oil

Lemon Squeezer – my long-time favourite!

Dusty Girl Makeup – I love their Earth Cream

Essential Oils

Magnesium Bath Salts

Natural Soaps – I always love to receive pretty soap! Not offensive, in my opinion 😉

 

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.

scones

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.

blue mt

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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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