Tag Archives: nomi

Bowen Island

Bowen Island is just off Vancouver, about a fifteen or twenty minute ferry trip away.

I’d heard about it from my mum’s friend who used to live there, but I was seriously under-prepared for how beautiful it was going to be.  Words, and pictures, cannot describe it.


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These photos are from May, but it felt like the middle of summer.

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If I could go anywhere to retire, it would be Bowen Island.

I’d own a boat, and drink coffee and read on my deck all day (because it would never rain, of course).


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Let’s talk about food.

I started writing this post in the summer, and never finished it, never posted it, never committed to it.  I’m going to post what I had originally written, and then continue from there.


I’ve been debating writing this post for a while now.
When it comes to food/nutrition/diet, I’m reluctant to blog about it, because frankly, I never stick at anything for very long, and I don’t want to publicly embarrass myself by blogging about it and then giving up on it.  But here goes.

A few months ago, I read a couple of books (Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin) which prompted me to do more research into what I eat, and how this affects me and my body.  Ultimately, after doing as much personal reading as I could, I decided to try veganism.  As I said, I never really stick at food-related changes for long, but it’s been almost four months and I am still eating 100% vegan.

I’m not going to turn this into a post about staunch veganism, or animal rights, or anything like that, because I would never try and tell anyone else what they should eat, because food is such a personal thing to each individual.  What I am saying is that this feels right for me, and it’s working for me right now.

I still have a lot to learn; I am discovering new things every day.  The biggest eye opener for me has been realising that animal products are in pretty much everything that’s in a packet or can.  I had no idea, and you know why?  Because I never looked at the back of the packet.  I never read the ingredients list, and therefore didn’t realise just how many unpronounceable things were in the food, and subsequently were in my body.

Of course, people love to have their opinions, and be very vocal about them.  I’m talking about the people who have told me that what I’m doing is unhealthy, and that there’s no way I’m getting enough protein or iron.  Funny how absolutely no one ever asked me about my protein intake until they found out I cut out animal products.  It didn’t matter that the only meat I was eating was processed and frozen, and therefore mostly devoid of nutrients.


That’s as far as I got.

It’s been almost a year since I made the decision to go vegan.  And guess what?  I am still vegan.

I am absolutely loving it.  I love the journey this decision has taken me on.  I am learning so much about food, nutrition, animal welfare, governments’ involvement in all of this, and so much more.

Since cutting animal products from my diet, my skin has improved dramatically, I sleep better, I have way more energy, I feel refreshed and somehow more alive.

I’ve become way more interested in cooking and baking, and I’m loving learning how to veganise recipes and bake without eggs and butter.

I do love a good challenge, and that’s exactly what it is to go vegan after 25 years of being a carnivore.  I’ve had to re-learn what I knew about cooking, because I learned to cook meals based on chicken and beef.  It was totally eye opening to me that I didn’t need to base a meal on meat.

I really want to get back into regular blogging, and that will hopefully involve more insight as I learn more about all this, and of course some recipes.

I’ve had many people ask me “But what do you eat?”.  I’m going to finish this post with photos of what I’ve been eating.

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Hardly starving over here, folks.

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It rained the whole time we were in Portland.  Not just drizzly rain, but full on horrible, drenching rain.  Therefore, I did not bring my camera out with me, and all of my Portland photos are from my phone.  Sorry.


This is me and my second cousin Amy (our mums are cousins).  She lives in Oregon so we decided it would be fun to meet up for the first time :)



Portland is weird, and I loved it.






This is my friend Mel who lives in Portland, and who I haven’t seen since I was in Chicago in January 2009.  Hi Mel! Thanks for coming in to meet me :)


I’m a barista in Whistler and we serve Stumptown coffee, which is roasted in Portland.  People go crazy for it, and I love the drinks we sell in Whistler, but going to one of the original stores was amazing.  Trust me, this coffee is like no other.  I ordered a soy cappuccino and as soon as I was finished I ordered another one to take with me, it was just that good.





I got a bit confused trying to work out where this photo was taken, but I’ve just remembered it’s from Seattle, but as I’ve already posted my Seattle photos, it can just slip in here.  I’m bringing the sign to life in this shot, as you can see :)



One evening, we decided to do Portland by Segway.  About an hour before our scheduled tour, we called them up and asked if it was still going ahead, because of the rain and wind quickly turning into a monsoon (no really, we were about to get hit with the tail end of an Asian monsoon).  Yep, they said, rain or shine.  So we went, and had a blast.  And got absolutely soaked to the skin, zooming through puddles up to our shins and squinting to see through the walls of rain.  While I was glad to get back to the hotel room and change into dry clothes, doing the Segway tour was so much fun, and I’d definitely do it again.  It’s a little nerve wracking at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s awesome!


Not pictured is the immense amount of food eaten.  Wow, is all I have to say about Portland’s food culture.

And that was Portland, in a nutshell.  Next stop, Northern Ireland.  I’m currently sitting in Newark Airport, feeling like I’ve spent far too much time waiting around in airports the past couple of days, but the travelling is almost over, and I am more than excited to have a shower and wash my clothes :)

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Whistler is a very active place.  People make full use of the mountains; in winter they ski and snowboard, and in summer they bike and hike.  There are trails made specifically for walkers/runners/cyclists so that no one has to travel at the side of the motorway.
Frequently walking past all these active people started to make me feel lazy.  I wanted to start doing something.  A few years ago I started running for a brief spell, then I moved to England for university and stopped.  Since I had done it before, and it didn’t require the purchase of any expensive equipment (aside from proper shoes), I decided to take up running again, only ‘for real’ this time.


This is the first pair of proper running shoes I’ve owned, and wow, it really makes a difference.  It’s a bit of an upfront cost, but it’s definitely worth investing in a pair of proper runners that are designed to support your feet and ankles.


I started out with no real plan.  I just jogged/ran for as long as I could and then slowed down to a walk until I felt able to go faster again.  If you follow me on Instagram (@njmarcus), you may have noticed that a lot of my photos lately have been around Lost Lake.  This area is perfect for running because there are no vehicles, just cyclists, walkers and runners.  Plus, it’s a beautiful area.


I have to go running first thing, otherwise I won’t go.  It’s never a good idea to head out on an empty stomach, but at the same time it’s unwise to exercise with a full stomach.  I’ve found that, for me, the perfect thing is a small glass of fresh smoothie.  I blend a banana, a handful of strawberries, some orange juice and soy milk.  Or a few slices of peach, or fresh mango, or apple, or grapes.  Or whatever I have in the fridge that morning.
I like to set off about half an hour after I’ve had my smoothie, so in that in-between time I get dressed into my running gear, and set out my clothes for the day so when I get home I can just hop in the shower then get ready.


After about three or four weeks of just running, somewhat aimlessly, I decided I needed more structure, and maybe something to aim for.  I’ve said (mainly to myself) for quite a while that I want to run a marathon some day, but it’s gone no further than me thinking that.  To be honest, it’s something I’ve thought would be awesome to do, but at the same time I knew I could never actually do.
I read quite a few health and fitness blogs, and I read Katie’s post about surprising her sister by turning up to run a half marathon with her.  Then I flicked through some other posts on her blog, and saw all these other people posting their accomplishments and achievements, and something in me just clicked and I thought maybe I could do this.  But not on my own.


I mulled it over while I ran by the lake that morning, and by the time I got back, I decided to look into races I could possibly enter.  The first one I found was the Whistler Half Marathon, which is happening this weekend.  Uh, yeah, I’m not quite ready for that.  I knew that for any type of race, no matter how short, I needed time to prepare and train.  So anyway, I searched and searched, and finally found a 5k in Ireland in October.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but I’m going to be back home for the whole of October (to be my big sister’s Maid of Honour, woo!), and so I pitched it to my family to see if anyone would run it with me, and virtually train with me.  Turns out my family are an easily led bunch ;)  Even my dad agreed to run.


5 kilometres may seem like nothing to some people, but to me it is huge.  I’ve never done something like this before, so while I am excited, I am pretty nervous.

Since the decision has been made, I’ve started the Couch to 5k training program, which promises to have me ready to run 5k in nine weeks.  I’m at the end of week one, so I have a long way to go, but I am so happy to be actively (excuse the pun) doing something about this dream.  Right now I feel like I am walking more than I am running, but as the saying goes, you don’t have to go fast, you just have to go.


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Seattle [2]

On our second day in Seattle, we had a perfect plan made out for our day.  Because it was overcast and rainy at times, we had planned to go to a retail place at the university village so Kathryn could buy some things she wanted to take home (certain items are way cheaper to buy in the states than in Canada or in NZ).  We worked out the bus routes and times, and allocated the morning to the retail excursion.  We would have lunch at the mini shopping village thing, then get the bus back to downtown Seattle and go to the music museum, get dinner and then go back up the Space Needle to see the view at night.

Plans, eh?

The bus thing didn’t go so smoothly. We should have foreseen this really.  The lovely bus driver the day before gave us the impression that all bus drivers would be knowledgeable and happy to help.  Not so.  We were fairly confident that we were boarding the correct bus, but thought we should just check with the driver anyway.  When we asked if this took us to where we wanted to go, he replied, “I don’t know, it’s a big city.”  Er, yes, we did know that, which is why we (as very obvious tourists) were asking.  We asked various passengers who did their best to help, but unfortunately all of them were getting off well before us.  I have no idea how we made it to the shopping village, but we did, and it was a beautiful wee outdoor place, despite the rain.
Getting the bus back to downtown was probably even more stressful, but I’m not going to bore you with that story.  Just know that by the time we got back into the city centre we were running a fair few hours behind our wonderful, glittery schedule.  I shall blame the bus shenanigans and the rain on my lack of photos for the morning.  Not a single shot was taken.

As if it was meant to be though, the museum was open until 8pm that day, and that day only, not the usual 5pm.  How cool is that?!

No one wants to see photos from inside a museum; I don’t even want to look at my own ones, so I’ll only share this one.

The impressive instrument sculpture that played music live due to some clever machinery.  It is huge; reaching over two floors.


We did make it back up the Space Needle as the sky started to get darker.


We rode the monorail again, mainly for the novelty really.

The next day we only had the morning to explore before we had to get our coach back to Vancouver, and then make a quick transfer to our connecting bus to Whistler.


The totally disgusting, but equally as fascinating gum wall.  Theatre patrons and actors started sticking their used gum to the wall in the early 1990s.  Theatre workers scraped the walls a couple of times, but gave up and now the wall is listed as an actual tourist attraction.


The whole alley smells so odd.




This was the best shot I could get of the first ever Starbucks.  It was not at all how we thought it would look, having been led on by this photo.  Being the nerd I am, I read up every evening on things we had seen or wanted to do (couldn’t you tell by my little history lesson on the gum wall?), and learned a lot about Starbucks.  Much of it bothered me, and I am doing my best to avoid giving them my money now.  It’s almost impossible to avoid them in North America, (in the tiny village of Whistler – where I live –  there are three locations) which grew more and more frustrating.  I Googled it to discover that in Seattle alone there are 424 Starbucks stores.  That’s ridiculous.  Apparently, Seattle-ites started ‘boycotting’ them by choosing to go to independent coffee shops, so Starbucks re-branded at least three of their stores to make them appear to be local, independent coffee houses, removing all of their Starbucks logos and anything that would give them away.  How sneaky is that?  I know that Starbucks originated in Seattle, and considering how huge and famous it has become worldwide, that’s definitely something they should be proud of, but they are actively and purposely taking custom away from local businesses that are struggling to stay afloat as it is thanks to companies like them.

Moving on.


The Public Market Center at Pike Place has a nicer history.  In the early 1900s, people were fed up of paying way too much for their fresh fruit and vegetables, so the market was opened to allow farmers to sell their produce directly to customers.  On the market’s opening day, all the farmers had sold out by lunch time.  Due to changing times, the market almost closed down and turned into a fancy plaza, but it was saved and is now a huge tourist attraction, as well as a fully functioning market.



The last picture I took (above) is my one of my favourites.  One Way/One Love.

We then spent many hours on coaches and at the border (where they were filming for a border control type show!) to get home.

Sorry that my holiday snaps turned into a bit of a history lesson/Starbucks rant.

Have a great weekend :)

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Seattle [1]

A little while ago, our friend Kathryn mentioned that she wanted to visit Seattle before she goes back home to New Zealand (next week, boo).  Jay and I have wanted to go to Seattle since we got here, probably mainly because it’s so close.
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So we booked a hotel and various Greyhounds (we got an amazing deal on a gem of a hotel), and counted down the days.
I hadn’t left Whistler since we got here last September.  I’m not complaining; living here is incredible, but it is a resort, and therefore it’s secluded from the real world.  It was good to go somewhere else for a few days.

Jay and Kathryn outside the restaurant on our first night – – – then Jay and me.


After dinner we took a walk down to the harbour.  We quickly realised that the harbour area was not somewhere we wanted to be after dark, so I took a few photos and we swiftly walked back to the hotel.




We were exhausted from travelling (why is it that sitting on a bus for hours, doing nothing at all, makes you tired?), so we had an early night and got up early the next day to make the most of the only forecasted non-rainy day.

The charity piggy bank at Pike Place Market.


We visited the Space Needle, obviously.




Apparently the Alweg Monorail is pretty famous.  I did not know that, did you?  We rode it a couple of times, and it just felt like a normal train ride, until we sat right at the front next to the driver, then it felt like we were on a rollercoaster.



Cool trees painted blue.  I have no idea why.


We read online that the best view of the Seattle skyline is from Kerry Park.  So we Googled the park, and discovered that it’s not really a park, but more like a patch of grass with a bench or two.  We hopped on a bus (ha, I make it sound like it wasn’t the most stressful experience of our trip.  We almost gave up on going to the park because of the buses!), and thanks to a helpful passenger and a very friendly bus driver, we found the park.



The classic ‘tossed salads and scrambled eggs’ shot.


We came back to the hotel and got changed for dinner (I’m wearing my new shirt from Target.  I was so excited to see stores I could actually afford to shop in).


We found this golden nugget of a Mexican restaurant a few blocks from our hotel.  I refrained from taking pictures of my food, because I’m guessing you know what a burrito and nachos look like.  They were good though, trust me, and if you’re ever in Seattle you should definitely go here.

Being the crazy party people that we are, we hit the hay by 10pm.
I’ll be back soon to share the rest of my photos from the trip.  I think I took rather too many to post in one go.


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Alta Lake, frozen.


When we first got to Whistler and were staying at the hostel, we walked past this lake every day on our way to the village.  Since we moved into the house, it’s no longer on our route, so we hadn’t been back since.  When I was offered a half day at work yesterday (while I was actually at work), I decided to take it for once, and we used the afternoon to walk to the lake (on our way to our post box, the bank and post office).

I had to get another photograph of Jay here, as I have one of her in this spot before the lake froze (in this post).  You can also see me leaning on those handles in my current blog header.

Jay took off right into the middle of the lake, whereas I was quite tentative as the edges were slushy, and really, it doesn’t feel right to walk on a lake.  Anyway, I felt less nervous when I saw a group of teenagers playing ice hockey in the centre.

When I first glanced at this, I thought it was a sailing boat that had been left without its moorings and had then become frozen into the lake.  Once I saw it moving it became clear that it is some kind of cool ice boat thing.  That’s as far as my knowledge on that goes.


Aside from seeing the lake in a totally different way than it was the last time I was there, it felt pretty awesome to have my camera back out again after more than a month.

On an unrelated note, Jay broke her leg five weeks ago.  She’s doing pretty well to be walking on an icy lake, eh?

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Finding inspiration.

Somewhere along the way, I ran out of things to talk about.
Even living in a beautiful, faraway place, life falls into a routine, and I have nothing new to say.
I haven’t picked up my camera in weeks, and I struggle to read more than a chapter of a book at a time (although that’s possibly because the book I’m currently reading isn’t great).

I find myself constantly craving inspiration; I want to write, but what about?  Then I chastise myself, because it seems ridiculous to have to search for inspiration when I live at the foot of two mountains, surrounded by lakes and trails and animals I’ve never seen ‘in real life’ until now.

I love how Lisa Leonard puts it:
“Inspiration is a really fluid and natural thing for me, and I’ve learned how to nurture it more.  I used to wait for it to strike and just see what it was, but now I’ve found that if I really slow down, and expose myself to beautiful things, concrete ideas start to form.  So I’ll take notes and I’ll make sketches, and it’s so fun to see inspiration start from something very vague, and turn into an idea, and then into something concrete, and then into a mock-up, and then finally into a finished product.  That’s probably my favourite part: seeing the finished product.”

I need to work on this; seeking out and nurturing inspiration.
Of course it’s not going to just present itself to me.  I need to look for it, harness it and turn it into something.  How can I have lost this precious art?
How do I get it back, and where do I begin?

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On learning to ski.

I had hoped that as soon as I put a pair of skis on it would feel like the most natural thing, like I was born to do it, like there was some gene in my body that was finally going to get its chance to shine.
Sadly, that has not happened.  But I have not given up.

That’s me and my wonderful friend Alice who has been helping me to ski while she snowboards (she can do both. I am so envious).


That’s me down there, snowploughing like a champ.

I think part (most?) of the problem is my fear.  Until November 2012 I had never been on a snowy mountain before.  Then suddenly I was on a literal slippery slope, surrounded by all this terminology that quite frankly, frightened me.  Piste, green run/blue run/black run (and let’s not talk about the double black diamond.  The name itself assures me that I will undoubtedly die if I ever find myself on one of those), powder days, bindings…
All these knowledgeable people with their fancy equipment, big words and passion for snow sports intimidated me.  Although I know what those words mean now, and I have all the equipment I need, I am still scared.  I like to stick to the same runs that I know, and to take my time.  I have had three ski lessons, and countless days practising with Jay, Alice and other people.  While I really appreciate all these people helping me, I would love to have someone to ski with who is at the same level as me.  I hate feeling like I am holding everyone else back.
Perhaps if I had a week or two where I could go up every day and just take a few solid lessons, I would improve.  Who am I kidding?  My legs could not take that.
I work five days a week so doing a ‘crash course’ isn’t possible. ( I actually work in the kids program in Whistler, so I watch as children as young as three years old go from total novices to confident mini skiers within a week.  There is definitely a lot to be said for learning skiing or snowboarding as a child.)

For now, I will keep on going, and try to shake off my fear of losing control and racing head-first into a tree before falling off the edge of a cliff.


What about you?  When did you learn to ski or board?  Do you think it’s more difficult to learn as an adult?
I’d love to hear what you think (and any tips are always welcome).

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A pictorial round up of my 2012

I was going to post one photo I took from each month in 2012, and then quickly realised that I couldn’t narrow them down.  At all.
Some months I had dozens that I love, and other months I had barely any.
So I apologise for this hodge podge post with far too many photographs that I’ve already posted this year :)





















August (sorry, there are a lot for August)






























I hope that your 2012 was great, and your 2013 is wonderful.

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