Going from Miss Bossy Boots to being The Boss: A 20-year-old female manager’s thoughts on and experiences with the #girlboss movement.

Lifestyle, Management & Business, missjessamy

All my life, I have been called bossy. Told I should ‘rein in’ my personality at times because it might ‘rub people up the wrong way’ or make people, not like me.

‘Bossy Boots’ was a nickname I became quite accustomed to and to be honest, it never really impacted me too much until I became a boss in 2018 at 18 years old. Suddenly, I was extremely conscious of people thinking ‘the power had gone to my head’ and that I was ‘too demanding’ when requesting for specific work tasks be completed.

But WHY was I thinking this? Leadership had always been something I was involved with. Since Grade 6 (to be exact) where I was a semester year level house leader every year until I became one of two house leaders in my final year of school. Through my degree, I also requested the Account Manager or similar positions in group work to ensure I knew what everyone was doing and to enable me to learn more about leadership.

So, it makes sense that management is a field I have always had an enthusiasm for. I am innately passionate about management and leadership practices that promote growth in both the leader and team members. Along with being fascinated with the exploration of applying different management frameworks in various situations to maximise the effectiveness of company functions.

I also love the challenge of management. The constant demand and requirement to keep learning and need to stay connected to ensure I can empower and guide my team is exciting to me.

I also like how focused management keeps me. I quite literally can not be selfish or singleminded in leadership situations, and I love that.

However, as the second year of my management position rolls around, I have been reflecting on my management practices but also trying to reflect on how I have grown as a leader. And what has blown me away is what I have learned about the #girlboss movement through personal experience with staff and customers while trying to establish myself as a ‘worthy’ leader in a male lead workplace and with an at-times challenging and confronting customer base.

Being someone who tends to struggle with stress, anxiety and social anxiety as well as being a complete Type A personality who continually strives for the unattainable level of perfection in everyday life and work. Being in ‘control’ through leadership roles has allowed me to apply this energy into something beneficial to a community or workplace. However, after once being told to ‘leave work at the door’ I was faced with the reality that my mind wouldn’t let me.

Things affect me, and although I try my best not to show it publicly; I am incredibly vulnerable. Situations get to me, I work myself up so much I feel physically sick, I get shaky, I cry, I get angry, I second guess myself, my breathing increases and my head spins. I feel ashamed when I show that something has impacted me in a management situation, I think the only way to be taken seriously is if I am a brick wall and keep it cool. Acting like I can quickly shake things off and move on once I leave the shift, especially after an aggressive customer or other serious incidents.

Furthermore, I second guess myself in the way I ask for tasks to be done and tend to feel a sense of annoyance or judgement when I (respectfully) execute my managerial role to get staff back on task or deal with customer’s issues.

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where any emotion is a ‘female weakness’, instead of being interpreted as an individual working hard to maximise their workplace through their leadership skill.

In a recent work incident, I was put in a situation where I felt threatened and felt the safety of my staff, myself and the workplace was at risk and working through this issue was hard. Trying to hold back the fact that my stomach was flipping out and I was covered in goosebumps from my adrenaline was not easy.

And while I stood there, talking to the perpetrators, my mind was questioning everything I said. I felt that if I raised my voice and made my tone sterner, it would only worsen the ongoing situation and cause a more aggressive reaction from the male I was trying to deal with.

The condescending and derogatory way this male and many other people in the past have treated me while in a management position is shocking. I regret not writing down all my experiences so I could share them with you.

I became a manager in my workplace when I was 18 years old. Midway through my university degree, with chubby baby cheeks and a severe issue with second-guessing my decisions in and out of the workplace. I was forced to deal with customer commenting on my ability, age, gender, looks and more. Being questioned as to why I was wearing a blazer instead of the work uniform to being spoken to like it was my first day on the job was and still is a very regular occurrence to me. I couldn’t tell you on how many occasions I was met with a puzzled face from customers when the manager was called out the front, and little ole’ me came out of the office.

I had a discussion with my sister recently (who also works in a position of management) about how not only is the perception of women in leadership positions consistently condescended but also how vastly their road to promotion varies from their equal or lesser male co-worker’s journey and access. I look at males in similar or the same positions as me and see how easily they were accepted and integrated into management status. And how although I am there striving to always better myself, I still feel I am two steps behind with my ability to establish authority to staff and customers.

How about instead of judging someone’s leadership ability on their gender, let’s look at their skill set and ability to inspire and empower a group of people to reach their individual potential that promotes team growth and company success?

I have been fortunate to grow up with strong-minded females both in my family and friendships. Additionally, going to an all-girls school since my early school days exposed me to major #girlboss vibes throughout my whole upbringing.

However, I still grew up in a world where to not be reserved and accepting as a female was not the norm, where I was surprised to see females in management positions and where the glass ceiling was still very much existent.

Unfortunately, despite being very grateful for my private all-girls education which exposed to a high level of opportunity. At the end of the day, my school was a religious school that strived to ‘keep us in line’ when it came to the way we expressed ourselves physically and verbally. And I do not want this statement to be interpreted as me saying a level of respectful behaviour is not necessary! I think EVERYONE should learn how to be courteous and polite to one another and themselves. However, I believe these ingrained practices need to be reviewed to try to lessen the overt inequality that is still inflicted onto females in this modern age.

So, if I am still experiencing this level of inequality in 2020, do I feel optimistic that it will change?

Yes, I genuinely do. When I feel particularly defeated or low on my leadership ability or persona, instead of being pessimistic I make the active decision to fill my mind with powerful #girlbosses who show me that there are plenty of us out there fighting a patriarchy that is slowly breaking down, with shards of the glass ceiling slowly beginning to crack away.

I am a person whose mood can be significantly impacted by my surroundings, so taking the time to fill my mind with inspiring people helps me to refocus on my job and goals when it comes to management.

So, where am I going with this post?

Well a) I just wanted to express my feelings and experiences as a #girlboss. But b) I wanted to provoke thought about this topic and to inspire some other girls out there to know their leadership worth and ability. And c) hopefully, in the long run, I can make someone rethink their view on managers and how gender has NOTHING to do with one’s ability to lead a team to success.

So, can’t we create a world where a manager is a manager? Or even better, a person is a person, and we all speak and treat each other with respect and equality.

Being in front of house for a company turns you into the face of the company, and I think people need to learn that that does not negate basic human to human respect. You are not superior to the person behind the counter, desk or phone and vis versa. Nor are you superior to a different gender, age group, race, sexuality or personality type.

Just because I am a 20-year-old female does not negate my ability to be a BOSS who knows what she is doing and who is willing to lead a team to success and empower the people around me.

And I am not just saying this for other people, I am saying it for myself. Because change starts with one person, and I believe with confidence being key, my mindset and hopefully, this post will inspire me and you to think harder about how we view different genders in leadership positions. Or how we could work together to break that glass ceiling a bit more. Because all we need is a crack to start an explosion and for the #girlboss movement to gain further positive momentum; leading to a more supportive and empowering leadership industry.

What are some management or leadership barriers that you have had to deal with? Let me know! I would also love to hear your advice or thoughts on ‘the glass ceiling’ and the #girlboss movement.

A Rainy Rainforest Getaway

Food, Lifestyle, missjessamy, Travel

This past weekend, my family surprised my Dad with a weekend away to the Tamborine Mountains to celebrate his birthday. 

It rained ALL WEEKEND which we were not mad about at all because a) Queensland really needs the rain and b) this rainforest area turns into the cosiest and more beautiful area when it rains. So we still had a really lovely time. 

Even though the weather limited our activities of going out and about on walks and exploring the town, it was really nice just to have some downtime and cuddle up inside and enjoy warm drinks, wine and yummy food. 

So, here’s my breakdown of this weekend covering where we stayed, what we ate and what we did. Enjoy!

Accommodation: Songbirds Rainforest Retreat

We stayed in the Villa at Songbirds Rainforest Retreat, which was a fully self-contained house with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a spacious living area, kitchen and balcony. 

The only downside to this accommodation was that there was the need for some general maintenance in the house including shower nozzle and sink deep cleans and locks on the screen doors leading to the balcony. 

These issues were nothing major at all, and the end of the day may have led to making the experience more quaint and homey. However, to take this accommodation to the next level, this maintenance is needed. 

Gallery Walk offers a super quaint and cosy selection of cafes and local stores selling homemade/locally produced produce including fudge, honey, candles, Cuckoo Clocks, the lists goes on. 

We dined at two places along Gallery Walk, both for our Saturday and Sunday breakfasts. 

Songbirds’ restaurant is not open for breakfast, so unless you choose to have the breakfast basket delivered to your accommodation, you will have to venture out. 

Saturday Breakfast: The Treehouse

This cafe was very cosy and their menu offered a great mix of sweet and savoury breakfast options, including some very unique and delicious gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options. 

I got the ‘bucket size’ turmeric latte on almond milk, and it was the perfect spicy drink to find comfort in on this rainy Saturday. This latte was definitely heavier on the turmeric side of things, which I LOVED! But the cafe supplied honey you could mix in to sweeten it up if you like. 

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I was most impressed with the gluten-free and dairy-free french toast this cafe offered. My mum ordered this dish, and I totally forgot to snap a picture of it- but trust me, it was DELICIOUS! And I would order it if I returned to the cafe without a doubt. 

However, I ordered the Vegan Breaky with added vegan cheese, and this was so yummy. A super comforting meal that was filling and full of flavour. It featured a tomato, onion and bean mixture with avocado, mushrooms, spinach and gluten-free bread. It was super yummy and was the perfect cosy breakfast choice in the rainy weather. 

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My Dad went for the salmon eggs Benedict, and my sister opted for the classic eggs and bacon on sourdough toast; both reporting back that their dishes were super tasty. 

All round, this cafe was a winner and I would 100% go back and would also recommend it all Mount Tamborine visitors. 

Saturday Activity: Songbirds Wine Tasting 

As part of the gift for my Dad, we set up to have an afternoon wine tasting onsite at Songbirds. This was a fantastic afternoon that exposed us to a variety of delicious local and international wines. 

The staff were very well educated and took the time to offer as much information as possible about each wine and tell us its full history; which was very interesting and enhanced the wine tasting experience. 

The only downside of this tasting was the variety offered on the charcuterie board. For the number of wines we tasted (10), a small amount of cured meats, a few pieces of dried peach and pickle and some bread was all that was offered. 

However, the overall experience was lovely, and the wines we tasted were all so varied, and most of them were delicious. The staff took the time to select wines my Dad would like but also offered us some that were unique, which was really lovely.

I would highly recommend this experience; it was a lot of fun and a great gift idea for any wine lover in your life. 

Saturday Dinner: Songbirds Restaurant 

For dinner, we booked the restaurant located onsite at Songbirds. The set-out and overall vibe of this restaurant was beautiful and very cosy. However, in my opinion, this restaurant was overpriced for the quality and complexity of the meals.

My mum and I ordered a chicken, coconut and pumpkin dish and it was extremely basic with not much going on at all. The portion size was enough for us without an entree, but for others, I would say it would be too small and I think some added vegetables would be great. 

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Also, this restaurant does not offer ANY side dishes, which is something that would have helped bulk out the meals and probably made me like my dish more because I could’ve added in some salad. 

On the other hand, my Dad and sister ordered the steak, which was pricey but it was a generous serving when compared to the chicken dish and was ultimately worth the money. 

We did not have dessert at this restaurant because we had brought along a birthday cake for my Dad and it was back in the room. However, across the board, the selection on their menu was minimal and slightly disappointing. See their menu here.

Although the food was nice, it was not overly exciting and it was overpriced, leading me to say that I would not go back to this restaurant. 

Sunday Breakfast: Wild Plum Kitchen

On Sunday morning we headed to this great cafe with many gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan food and drink options.

Another day, another big ole’ turmeric latte. This latte was one of the most unique ones I have ever had due to the kick of spice that was mixed in. I am assuming there was some kind of cayenne pepper in the mixture and it was delicious.

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My mango smoothie bowl was simple but delicious. Being made on frozen mango and banana and simply topped with nut-free granola and coconut chips, this was a fresh and light breakfast that was super yummy and tasted like mango sorbet. 

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My sister got the sourdough french toast with bacon and maple syrup, my Dad got the Croque Monsieur, and my mum got a mushroom dish that came with feta, pumpkin hummus, dukkah and gluten-free bread. All reporting back that they thoroughly enjoyed their meals!

The coffee here was grea with the coffee art and milk texture being 10/10. 

Both of the cafes I have mentioned (The Treehouse and Wild Plum Kitchen) are located at the top of Gallery Walk directly across the road from each other. They both offer a varied and delicious menu with options for most dietary requirements or food cravings. 

If you are looking the ultimate weekend getaway destination that takes you away from the hustle and bustle, then Mount Tamborine is a great option. Everyone was so lovely and the surroundings were stunning and tranquil. Overall, we had a great weekend getaway celebrating my fantastic father’s birthday <3. 

If you want to find out more about Mount Tamborine, check it out on Visit Tamborine MountainThis is not a sponsored or affiliated post, all opinions are my own. 

 

Simple Ways To Increase Your Productivity (& Grades!)

Lifestyle, missjessamy, Study

I graduated university back in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Mass Communication (Public Relations & Advertising). I am so proud of my acheivement and the effort I put into my degree to graduate with distinction at 20 years old. However, this was not easy and university really challenged me in both good and bad ways. Nevertheless, through my degree I feel I developed some really great study and time management skills that allowed me to meet all my degree requirments, work a full on job and still have time for friends, family and travel. 

So, now that school is back in session in Australia and university is almost back as well, I thought it was the perfect time to give you some simple ways you can increase your productivity that aim to improve your workflow and grades. All of these methods are ones that I used during my school and university years and are ones I still use now in my personal and work life. So if you want to ensure your 2020 is super productive then keep on reading!

#1 – Find Out What Kind Of Learner You Are

For me, I am a Kinaesthetic Learner which means I learn by doing. I am an active learner and love to immerse myself in the learning experience to extract the information from the situation. By understanding what kind of learner you are, you will be able to streamline your study approaches, so they benefit you.

Four Types Of Learners:

Visual:
  • Learn by visualising and seeing the content.
Auditory:
  • Learn by listening and hearing information rather than seeing or writing it out.
Reading/Writing:
  • Learn by reading content and writing about it.
Kinaesthetic:
  • Learn by doing and prefer to be immersed in their learning experience.

Keep in mind that you can be a combination of types of learners, or your learning style can change over time. But just try and identify the one the aligns with your learning needs the most at this moment in time so you can maximise learning effectiveness.

Understand How To Apply Your Learning Style Into Education

Sometimes you have got to get crafty when translating materials into your learning style. But this process is one that you must do to enhance your educational experience and to ensure you are as productive as you can be with your precious time.

So if you are a Reading/Writing Learner, then ensuring your lectures are transcribed into notes/flashcards is vital. Or if you are a Kinaesthetic Learner, then do practice quizzes to enhance your recall of content.

#2- Be Real With Your Schedule 

It is so great to write a massive schedule/ to-do list and be optimistic about what you can achieve in your day, but you HAVE to be realistic. This is vital because (on the flip side) there is nothing worse than trying to wind down at night knowing you have not achieved what you wanted to. I hate ending my day with an incomplete jobs list – I feel flat and disappointed; ultimately losing some my motivation.

Now being real with what you can achieve in a day does take some trial and error. And it is essential to be kind to yourself when setting daily or weekly expectations so you can feel accomplished and maintain your motivation. But ensuring you are honest with yourself with your time management and daily ability is crucial to the promotion and integration of productivity in your everyday life.

My Tip:

When beginning your scheduling journey, set low expectations for your days. This will allow you to gauge how much you can realistically achieve in your day.

#3- Write Out Your To Do’s

Do it on some paper, on your phone, in your diary, on some notepaper or on the back of your hand – whatever writable surface you have!

There is nothing more satisfying than ticking off to-do items on your list as you go through your day. And it also ensures you stay on track and use your time wisely when it comes to completing tasks based on their requirements.

My Tip:

Write EVERYTHING on your daily to-do list. This includes going to the gym, replying to emails, making your bed, washing your hair etc. Not only does this approach promote a more satisfying end of the day, feeling when you tick everything off. But, it gives you a realistic and visual overview of everything you need to fit into your day, so you can move items around if need be (and that’s okay)- DO NOT OVER COMMIT!

#4- Find Out When and Where You Are Most Productive

University libraries, cafes, at home, study groups, public parks, work offices etc. These are all places that I utilised to get my university work done.

Overall, I prefer to work alone at home as I find I can keep myself focused. However, when you are in the throws of intense study, a change of scenery can reinvigorate your motivation, allows you to refocus and overall enhance your productivity.

Often I would get myself out of the house and head into my university’s library or even go to work to use one of the empty offices as alternate study spaces that I was comfortable in and where I felt I could hone in on my work.

Finding places where you are most productive is vital for your workflow and like most things in this list, requires a level of trial and error. I am not productive everywhere, nor am I always productive at home. When you are consistently working, you need to be prepared to be fluid with your study spaces and be ready to move around.

#5- Read Your Feedback & Ask Questions

Life Lesson: learn from your mistakes to enable personal growth and and accept that effort will not always equated to your envisaged reward.

Okay, so you didn’t do as well as you had planned on a project? How you react and process this plays a BIG role in your ability to grow and improve your future work.

It’s easy to get annoyed and upset when a grade or some feedback is not as good as you wanted after you put so much effort in.

However, if you’re going to understand where you went wrong so you can improve and learn, you NEED to read or request feedback. And that means immersing yourself in the feedback by asking questions and then integrating this into future work.

I have always been one of those students and people in general, where I question everything because I feel the need to understand every possible aspect. This need to know where I went wrong really came out during my final year of school and through my university degree because I was always putting 110% effort into my work, but my grades were not always reflecting that. However, I learned quickly that although it was sometimes time-consuming and a hassle, whenever I requested feedback, I always felt better. The feedback always powered me through my next project and made me more aware and motivated.

#6- Base Your Timeline Schedule On Their Requirements

If you have four tasks that need to be done that will each take 2-3 hours each, is it realistic that you get them all done in one day? Probably not. And even if you did, would you be in the best and most productive headspace to do them all in one day along with your other day to day requirements as well?

These are all vital aspects to consider when crafting your daily to-do schedules.

To combat this need to get everything done all at once, I recommend writing a weekly to-do list that states all of the big items that need to get done. And then break these up into your daily agenda. This approach ensures you remain fully aware of what you need to get done but reducing the risk of feeling overwhelmed and losing your motivation for day to day tasks.

#7- Commit To Yourself

Overall, If YOU want to improve your productivity, grades and overall success, then you HAVE to commit to yourself. There is no point in attempting to make changes and realign your organisation and study approaches if you are going to continually make compromises that interfere with your commitment to this vision. Like any goal, it is not always going to be 100% easy, and you are going to have to work at it daily to ensure you are on track. But like anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the more confident you become in being able to operate your schedule productively.

So, as long as you are prepared to make some exceptions so you can stay true to yourself to meet your goals – then one of the hardest parts of this goal is already done!

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the best feeling when all your commitment pays off to meet your goal.

Hopefully now you are feeling inspired to get your time management under control so you can maximise your 2020 productivity and workflow! I hope these tips have helped you out and that all your endeavours in 2020 whether they are study or work focused, are a success. 

My Japan Travel Diaries 

Food, missjessamy, Travel

I went to Japan twice in 2019, and I would have never expected it to become one of my favourite travel destinations! The atmosphere, look, feel, food and people all create a place that I truly fell in love with.

So, having visited this location twice last year, I thought I would accumulate the information and experiences I had on each of my trips and showcase my Japan travel guide (of sorts) to help you see why it is a MUST VISIT destination.

My Two Trip Summary: 

So firstly, why did I go twice?

Well, a Christmas/New Year’s family holiday was on the cards since the beginning of 2019. And then in March four of my friends and I decided to book a two-week-long trip during July, as flights were super cheap and we were all free (which is very rare).

During my July holiday, we remained in Tokyo and stayed a week in Shinjuku and a week in Akasaka.

Where as, for my December trip my family and I stayed in Ginza (Toyko), Hiroshima, Kyoto and then we went back to Tokyo where we stayed in Tokyo Bay for three days to visit Disney.

What amazed me about visiting Japan twice in one year was how different both of my trips were when I visited the same locations in Toyko. The most significant difference that I noticed between my two trips was the busyness of Tokyo.

Firstly, and sort of obviously, Tokyo was INSANE during Christmas and New Year’s. However, coming from Australia, Christmas is a public holiday for us, and it is a MASSIVE holiday celebration. However, we were super shocked to find that people went to work on Christmas Day and not only that, but, other than retail marketing and advertising there was nowhere near the presence of Christmas as there is back home.

However, this flipped when it came to New Year’s. Back home, New Year’s means a big party and fireworks show at midnight, and that is it. However, in Japan we found out it is a BIG deal. We were lucky enough to celebrate our introduction to 2020 at Disneyland, where we watched the midnight fireworks burst from the magical castle at midnight.

This was a great experience but having visited both Disneyland and Disney Sea during my July trip, I was shocked to see the massive increase in guests at the park over December and January. Now, we expected the festive season would bring extra guests to the parks. But boy, we did not expect it to be THIS busy!!

Having visited Disneyland in LA and Hong Kong and DisneyWorld multiple times, we thought we had seen a crowd, but we were wrong.

This is definitely something to be aware of if you are visiting during the festive season, especially if you are only going for one day. This is because it is tough to fit everything in one day with the crowds.However, crowd control (as always when it comes to Disney) was managed well. Also, with most of the rides having engaging lineups, it was not all doom and gloom; it was just time-consuming.

My Must Dos: 

1- Shibuya: 

Lights, sound, people, food and fun; what more could you want? Since my first visit to Shibuya, I was hooked. It is genuinely an absolute hub for full Tokyo immersion. The bright shop lights and billboards paired with soundtracks being played through the streets and the photo booth and game stores’ hustle and bustle spilling onto the street makes this place is unforgettable.

Tip: Don’t miss exploring the side streets to find some fantastic and unique meals. My favourite place to grab a yummy meal is at this Gluten-Free ramen restaurant where you order your meal on a kiosk before taking a seat.

Shibuya is so much fun and you definitely need to go more than once. Just be aware that it is push and shove, but it is worth it for the atmosphere and experience.

2- Yoyogi Park 

Pure magic in nature.

I visited this park during both of my trips and each time it was magical, calming and just so serene. Not only is the greenery so lush, but all you can hear it the crunch of rocks under your feet and you can smell and feel the crisp fresh air. This park is a great way to take yourself out of the hustle and bustle of Tokyo without having to go too far.

3- Studio Ghibli Museum 

Fan of Ghibli or not, this is a must-do (just make sure your pre-book your tickets well in advance)! The architecture at this museum is breathtaking and magical; you really do step straight into a Ghibli film.

Walking up the winding staircase, squeezing through the tiny doorways or adventuring to see the massive Castle In The Sky Robot on the rooftop; this place is a playground for people of all ages.

One of the most amazing parts about this museum is the tiny detail hiding on every  wall and floorboard. You have to keep your eyes peeled because character appearances and movie references are around every corner.

Tip: Make sure you visit one of the cinema sessions while you’re there! Although the two films were in Japanese, the visuals themselves make the film-watching experience worthwhile.

Also, note that the Museum address is 1 Chome-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-0013, Japan. We almost went to TWO of the wrong addresses before departing for the day.

4- Disneyland & DisneySea

The reason I added this one onto my top three is because a) it’s Disney, so it’s an OBVIOUS must do! But also, both of these parks are genuinely immaculate and so much fun. I didn’t think the architecture of a theme park could blow me away, but DisneySea did that! It is a STUNNING park that genuinely takes you to another world. The rides, food and just general parks are an unmissable experience for people of all ages.

5- Deer Island (Miyajima)

As long as you are happy to deal with beautiful Deer stalking you around the island and trying to eat your jacket, this island is truly unmissable.

Visiting this island exposes you everything Japan has to offer; culture, shrines, temples, markets, food and overall serene and stunning nature. So, make sure during your Hiroshima visit you put some time aside to hop on the ferry and visit this island.

Time Saver Tips:

Harajuku: 

This is a bit of an unpopular opinion but if you are pressed for time, you can probably skip Harajuku or keep your time there to a walk down Takeshita Street.

I found Harajuku to be overrated when it was compared to other nearby locations like Shibuya or Shinjuku; even the crazy rainbow foods were available in other Tokyo areas.

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Team Lab Borderless: 

You probably already know what this place is because it is in everyones Japan social media content. And do not get me wrong, I really enjoyed visiting this display with my friends during my July trip. However, it is extremely overstimulating and is something that was not very different to the photos I had seen online. I do not mean to sound negative about this place, because it is still stunning. But, if you are short on time, this can be missed.

Shimokitazawa:

If you love vintage shopping then this is the place for you. But buyer be warned, vintage shopping in Japan is SUPER expensive and it is very easy to be sucked down the ‘I should just get it because I am travelling’ mentality and end up spending $50+ on a casual printed t-shirt. So, if you are on a budget please be wary when visiting or give it a miss all together if your schedule is tight. That being said, I still enjoyed my visit here. Even though I didn’t buy anything, the vibe and overall experience was super enjoyable.

Food Allergies in Japan:

The only challenge that I encountered during both my trips was correctly communicating my dietary requirements and finding food on the go that I could eat.

I am gluten and dairy intolerant and my Mum is a coeliac. So, I did have some  leniency with my diet. However, when travelling with my Mum, it was essential we found appropriate food.

Unfortunately, after eating on the go and at multiple buffets, my mother and I can say that we consumed gluten due to difficulty communicating with staff about our needs. However, do not let this turn you off visiting this great destination. Even though it is not extremely easy to find dietary friendly options in Japan, there are still choices, you just have to dig around.

My number one recommendation would be to ensure you have Google Translate on your phone. This will allow you to scan packages to see if they contain the allergen you need to avoid. This app is a MUST if you do not speak your destination’s language and it saved us many times throughout the trip.

Secondly, Family Mart and 7-Eleven provide more snacks than you could ever imagine, and there are gluten and dairy-free options here. Sushi, edamame, salads, mochi, fruits, bars, milk alternatives and more are all available at these convenience shops and acted as lifesavers when we found ourselves in a food pinch. Also, these stores are quite literally on every street corner, so you can always get at least a small snack.

If you’re looking for something more substantial though, check out these places where I ate and had NO problem obtaining gluten and dairy free meals. All of the listed places had delicious food and fantastic service:

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Me with the best GF bread from Sodoh

We had breakfast included at all our hotels during our Christmas trip, and we found that most locations had allergens marked on the food labels which was a great help!

When these labels were not available, or we were in a restaurant, we used THESE cards. Having these cards enabled us to communicate our allergies to staff, and they were then able to disclose whether or not we would be able to eat there. Having pre-organised most of our eating arrangements/ eating out of convenience stores a fair bit, we mainly used these cards while we visited Disneyland and DisneySea.

Finally, we also packed multiple gluten and dairy-free snacks as backups in our bags that we were able to have when allergen-friendly food was inaccessible. We also packed some gluten-free bread that enabled us to bulk up some meals we would order through room service, as well.

Where I Stayed & Ratings: 

July Trip: 

Super Hotel Shinjuku Kabukicho 

Location: Shinjuku

Rating: 4 Stars 

Comments: Due to our late check-in, pillows were ‘sold out’ which resulted in our first night being a very uncomfortable sleeping experience on hard bean pillows. However, staff were incredibly kind and helpful with them providing directions and tips on local places to eat and explore.

This hotel is central in Shinjuku with many bars and convenience stores nearby. Also, Shinjuku station less than 10 min walk away.

Henn na Hotel Tokyo Akasaka

Location: Akasaka

Rating: 3.5 Stars 

Comments: Robot concierge were a great novelty but they struggled to read international passports which made our check-in difficult; resulting in the staff needing to come out and assist us.

The room was very lovely, but super small – so be mindful of large suitcases.

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December – January Trip: 

Tokyo Imperial Hotel 

Location: Ginza (Toyko)

Rating: 5 Stars

Comments: Impeccable service on all levels. From their check-in to bell boys, shops and food service staff. Rooms are well sized. I highly recommend the French restaurant on site. Central location in Ginza but still far enough from the mid-city craziness. Super close to Hibiya station and only a 5-minute walk from Ginza station.

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Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel

Location: Hiroshima

Rating: 4 Stars 

Comments: Great gym facilities and location is right near Eki City and a FamilyMart for all your food needs. Staff were very accommodating; however, the entrance to the hotel is slightly confusing.

Allergens at the buffet were marked.

Hotel Okura Kyoto

Location: Kyoto

Rating: 4.5 Stars 

Comments: Dinner buffet was a fantastic mix of western and Japanese cuisine. Also, the view of the river from the hotel is stunning both day and night. Customer service was fantastic, and we felt very welcomed.

Allergens at the buffet were marked.

Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel

Location: Tokyo Bay (Disneyland)

Rating: 4 Stars 

Comments: Great Disney flare even though it is not a specific Disney hotel. Fantastic dinner and breakfast buffet along with lots of amenities on site. However, due to the busy time of year and the language barrier, our check-in process was long and confusing. However, after this, the staff were very kind and helpful.

Allergens at the buffet were marked.

So, Would I Go Back?:

To me, Japan is a place I could continue to visit regularly. Despite having spent a total of 4 weeks there in 2019 during two seasons, there are still SO many places I have not visited yet. I would love to go during Cherry Blossom season, and next time I would love to travel further out of Tokyo city and spend more time in traditional Japanese locations.

However, I think every time you go, dropping into Tokyo is a must! The atmosphere is unparalleled to anywhere else in the world. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp on visiting the more traditional and natural areas found in Kyoto, for example.

With tourism to Japan continually growing and airline sales happening more and more frequently, if you have been thinking about visiting Japan or want a holiday destination idea, then this place is for you!

Have you been to Japan? If so, what was your favourite place?

Check out more of my Japan highlights on my Instagram @jessicatathem

20 Ways in 2020 You Can Save BIG!

Money

Get ready to smash all your financial goals this year with this list of financial tips that I have tried, tested and saved big from using!

1- stop buying unnecessary groceries

If we all know one thing about grocery shopping, it is that it adds up REALLY quickly. A ‘quick trip to the shops for milk’ can soon turn into a $60 trip with snacks, eggs, ice cream and gum added to the cart. But how does one stop overspending and over-shopping?

a) ALWAYS go to the shops with a list and stick to it

I won’t spend too much time on this topic because it is obvious, but still important to mention. No matter how little you are going to the shops, you must ALWAYS write a list.

A list allows you to see what you need because you can write it while looking in your fridge and pantry. It gives you visual cues for your grocery store trip and enables you ONLY to have to visit the areas where you need to purchase food from.

However, you need to promise yourself before entering the store that you will COMMIT TO THE LIST and only purchase what items are on there. If this scares you too much when you first start your list writing, you can give yourself some flexibility. So, what I used to do is leave three empty spaces on my list for items I couldn’t think of in the moment of list writing but knew I would remember once at the store. Then, as I got better at list writing, I didn’t need the empty spots anymore.

b) stop purchasing products that are easily made at home, for less money and less packaging

Aaah the good ‘ole grocery store trick – we go and see an amazingly convenient product and just have to get it. This can range from pre-spiralled zucchini pasta to frozen berries to even your daily cleaners. And all these items are marked up and sold for a price that at the moment might seem reasonable, but over time burns a hole in your wallet.

So, the solution for this problem is straightforward; if you become more organised with your shopping, you will be able to DIY theses items and not only save money but also save packaging which equals a happy planet.

Some of the most simple changes I made was to stop buying pre-frozen fruit and vegetables. Instead, I started buying the fruit and vegetables I wanted to freeze from local farmers markets or the discounted section in the fresh food aisle. This allowed me to buy bulk quantities and freeze them myself. 

My biggest tip if you start doing this is to ensure you cut up your produce and freeze it as soon as you get home from shopping; this ensures you get the job done early, so the food doesn’t go off in the fridge waiting for you to prep it.

Another way I saved was by making my cleaner out of white vinegar, baking soda and water (with the occasional addition of dish soap, if needed). This solution removes soap scum, kitchen counter stains and all general households messes. I just prep this solution in a spray bottle and I have a cleaner that cost me under $5!

2- Marie Kondo your life, but mainly your clothes

At the end of last year, I did the BIGGEST closet cleanout I have ever done. This involved three people, four hours and five massive bags that got immediately taken to the local charity shop.

Now, I had read and heard about how freeing closet cleanouts are, but I never expected to find it so cleansing and freeing of my frivolous shopping desire. Pre-clean-out, I was a massive shopper. New clothes were coming into my closet almost as fast as I forgot about them. I had tops and pants everywhere in my closet but still couldn’t find ANYTHING to wear. And that was purely because I was overwhelmed by the massive piles of fast fashion I had stuffed in my small apartment closet.

But now, with my reduced down and cleaned up wardrobe I can always find something to wear and can happily say I have not purchased ONE new clothing item since that cleanout in November.

Now, this isn’t to say I will never buy clothes again, but my mindset when it comes to adding to my closet is so much more clearer now. I now see something and ask myself “where will I put it/will it fit in my wardrobe?” and if my answer is no or I am unsure then it is a NO from me. And so far, it has worked.

3- shop local

I briefly mentioned this tip above, but I am going to be more specific in this point. Shopping local transformed my spending, especially my grocery costs. Farmers markets and local groceries have some fantastic deals and allow you to see exactly where your food is coming from. Also going to the Saturday or Sunday markets makes me feel committed to eating healthy and taking the time to prep my meals; leading to more meal prep which reduces overall food costs. 

So, next time you need fresh food, ditch the grocery store and look up where your local markets are.

4- track your spending

BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET! It is a word that is always thrown around in the savings world and one that sounds boring and overrated, but budgeting changed my money world.

Not only did it give me a clear insight into my spending habits which were a mix of good and bad, but it has enabled me to take full responsibility of my money. So, no more ‘accidental overspends’ or ‘forgotten spending’ because now I have to physically record EVERY bit of money that comes into my accounts and that leaves my accounts.

I use THIS budget template from Natalie Barbu, which I have added extra pages to to suit my accounts and income situation. But this template as it comes is a fantastic starting point, and I couldn’t recommend it more (+ it’s free).

5- find ways to make your favourite meals at home

I don’t know about you, but Thai Food is MY FAVOURITE food on this planet and lucky for me there are approximately 1 million Thai restaurants near where I live. So unfortunately, this convenience led me to lots of dinners out with friends which meant spending lots of money on the same meal (sometimes multiple times a week).

But here’s the thing, I LOVE cooking, and I cook all the time for myself, for friends and my family – but for some reason I just wasn’t cooking my favourite meals at home.

So I set myself a challenge, cook my Thai food order at home with healthier ingredients to see how easy it was and how much money I saved. 

And the results? 

Well, I have cooked so many pad thai’s and red curries, it is INSANE! And instead of spending $20+ on Thai food nights out, I am spending less than $5 a meal that I can stretch to feed me 2-3 times.

So moral of the story? You don’t have to cut your favourite meals out of your life, just stop looking at them as takeaway meals only. And instead, view them as a meal you can create in your kitchen, with your ingredients for less of your own money.

6- STOP buying drinks out and about

$4 water, $5 coffee, $7 bubble tea, $12 smoothies… Over $20 worth of beverages that most of us would buy in one to two days! And all of these drinks are ones that can be prepared at home for over ¼ of the price.

So, grab yourself a water bottle, reusable coffee mug and smoothie cup and start prepping your beverages at home. Not only will it save you money, but it gives you total drink customisation ability.

This tip is a short one but is one that will save you so much $$, as well as unneeded waste from disposable cups – keeping your wallet and the planet happy :).

7- get honest about your saving goals

There is secrecy around money that I am so lucky to have not been exposed to growing up. I come from a family that have always been open about money and savings approaches. My parents opened a bank account for me when I was extremely young, and I was taught the importance of saving and budgeting from a young age with my bank withdrawals being limited to school holidays ONLY.

But, as I have grown up and spoken to others, I realise how secretive and how uncomfortable people feel talking about money.

Now I am not saying you should be telling people how much you earn or how much is currently in your savings account. All I am saying is that speaking openly to friends and family you feel comfortable with about money triumphs and downfalls is so essential for increased financial confidence. I have learned so much about saving and spending from my family and friends that I couldn’t imagine not having an open money conversation avenue with them.

So, maybe it’s time to open up about money and tell people your goals, which in turn will make you accountable to stick to them, but could also lead to you inspiring your friends and family to take control of their finances, too.

8- open up additional accounts to breakdown saving

Ever since opening up extra accounts where I can deposit money for specific financial commitments my saving ability and confidence has grown so much.

I am currently with a few different banks and within these banks I have a mix of accounts that I use for saving, spending both long term and short.

I also utilise UP and have a variety of Saver accounts with them labelled ‘Travel’, ‘Bills’, ‘Health’ and more. I transfer into these accounts after every paycheck to ensure I always have money for each aspect of my life. I also have an account where I transfer leftover spending money every month which acts as my rainy day account for extra boosts to spending requirements.

9- check the cost of your New Year’s resolutions

Like many, healthy eating and exercise are part of your 2020 New Year’s resolutions which is FANTASTIC. But, that doesn’t mean you need to spend big to get fit. Gyms and meal delivery services add up very quickly, and unfortunately, we live in a time where lock-in contracts can hinder us more than help us. 

So, before locking yourself into a new gym or meal service, ensure you shop around and understand what you are signing yourself up for. Read reviews to see other’s experiences so you know that you can commit to what you are paying for in the long term. Because, NO ONE wants to be paying for something they don’t use or don’t like. 

Also, I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but seeking out free or discounted group fitness sessions in your local area is a great way to save big on your resolutions. Also, utilising youtube exercise videos and local parks to do your workout sessions in is something that I often do for some free but effective fitness approaches.  

10 – don’t be afraid to say no/don’t fall into the FOMO trap

This is a bit of a weird one because I don’t want you to feel restricted and look at financial control as inhibiting, but I want you to feel in control of your money and not bowing down to FOMO will help with this. 

Learning to say no or taking rain-checks is not a bad thing, and for some reason, society has made us feel like it is. If going out every weekend with work friends or only ever eating out as your social occasions is stressing you out, then this may be an indicator that for yourself and your wallet you need to start selecting your spending events more wisely. At first the FOMO can be rough, especially with social media showing all your friends hanging out. But once you start to feel more controlled and confident with your finances, the financial strain that these events can cause will reduce, and you can ease yourself back into attending these outing more regularly; understanding your spending abilities and limits. 

11- invest to save

This tip at first might sound like it is going against everything I’ve just explained, but just keep reading, and it will all make sense. Sometimes you need to put out more to reap the long term benefits. 

For example, recently, my Nutribullet stopped working, and I needed a new blender. Now, I had one of the higher end Nutribullet’s which was gifted to me a few years ago, but now I had to go and fork out for my own. So, the first thing I did was look at the cheapest and ‘best’ blenders on the market and started reading reviews, and nothing was selling me. But then I came across the KitchenAid blender which had fantastic reviews, was the perfect size for my kitchen and came in the colour I liked; but it came with quite a price tag. And even after I went into stores, this blender was still coming out on top which led me to trust the reviews and splurge (within reason) on something I knew I will use every day for a very long time. 

I also had a similar situation with my brand new couch. When I first moved in, I got a cheap fabric couch from the discount furniture store, but within 18 months I had fallen out of love with the couch because I really only got it because it was a good deal. So when it was time for a new couch, I decided to spend that little bit more to get my dream couch that I have always loved (a three-seater brown leather couch); knowing it is a timeless investment piece for my home. 

Please note, this tip is not applicable for everyday spending, and it shouldn’t be! And also  unfortunately can’t tell you what purchases are worth the investment and what ones are not because everyone is different. However, if you can see that spending more increases the longevity of the product and you know you will love it more, then it may be worth spending more to get what you really want for the long term. Which reduces the potential of you having to buy a new item sooner. 

12- prepare for bills extra early

Living out of home has taught me so many things in a short amount of time, and one of the biggest things was the importance of paying bills on time and in a financially prepared manner.

So, after many ‘OMG that is due today’ moments, I have streamlined by bill payment approaches to ensure I am always prepared. 

  • I firstly always pay my bills the day before they are due. This allows the money to sit in my account for as long as possible earning interest before I spend it. 
  • I also take a percentage out of each paycheck to deposit  into my bills accounts, so I really never see the money until I need to pay for something. This also prevents any risk of not having money for bills (which is very reassuring). 
  • I also always ensure I input bills into my monthly budget first thing so I can amend my monthly spending goal to match the increased expenditure for that month. 
  • Finally, I get all my bills emailed to me, which is very handy but also makes it very easy to forget about them in my mailbox. To combat this issue, whenever I get a bill I print it and stick it on my fridge and mark the due date in my physical diary and my phone calendar with an alert attached. This ensures I never forget about my bills and know precisely when larger sums of money will be coming out of my accounts. 

13- don’t buy anything without asking yourself these questions

So you are in a store or shopping online, and you have an item (or multiple) in your cart, and you proceed to the checkout. BUT WAIT! Before you hand over your money, ask yourself the following questions (and be honest with yourself) to find out whether this purchase is an impulse or not.  

  1. Why do I want to purchase this? 
  2. Where will I store it? 
  3. Will I still be utilising it in 6 months? 

If you do not answer yes to all of these questions, then from my experience I would say that the item you want to buy may be a more frivolous purchase that you can pass on or save for a later date.

14- pre-cut and prep your food

Want to know the first thing I do when I get home from grocery shopping? I cut up all my fruit and vegetables and store them in airtight containers. 

Why do I do this? 

Well, have you ever looked in your fridge and seen ‘nothing to eat’ because the watermelon isn’t cut up yet or the carrots are too much of a pain to peel and cut up? Because I have and this mentality often resulted in me eating a packaged and processed snack because it was more convenient, or it led me to go out to get food which was a waste of money and of the food I had at home. 

So, now I ensure I schedule food prep into my grocery shopping time. Generally to get everything prepped it only takes 30 minutes, and after I am done all my food it convenient to grab on the go and cook with straight away.

Also, this tip makes your fridge and pantry look SUPER organised and aesthetically pleasing #shelfie

15- make budgeting fun

Colour coding, podcasts, Youtube videos and stickers; these are all ways I made my relationship with money and budgeting one that I enjoy. 

I draw inspiration and budgeting guidance from a multitude of Youtube channels and podcasts. They offer a format of education where the content is presented in an aesthetically pleasing form that is both engaging and interesting. I started my budgeting journey by watching and listening to budgeting content online. And even now I still commonly refer to them for advice and inspiration on how to maximise my budgeting. 

Some of my favourite channels: 

Natalie Barbu

Michelle Choi 

Aja Dang 

bestdressed

Some of my favourite podcasts:

She’s On The Money 

Natalie Barbu

Now, for my budgeting, I use an excel document and pretty much everything for me is electronic. However, I still have fun stickers and highlighters that I place in my diary that mark my paydays, when my bills a due, days I need to transfer money between accounts and also my money breakdown for what is going in which account. Although I budget electronically, I still find it beneficial to have the written cues in my everyday diary so I can take them on the go to ensure everything is running smoothly in my finances. 

16- mix up your social plans

When it comes to saving, going out for dinner and drinks multiple times a week just isn’t going to cut it, but you can’t look at this as a restrictive approach. Alternatively, think of it as a challenge- how many new ways can you hang out with friends and family and find new things to do where you live that a super cheap or free?

Having late chat nights, cooking dinner at home, going for coffee instead of for full meals, utilising discount websites and apps, going to markets or walks are all ways to reduce but not restrict your expenditure in your social life. 

Also, another tip that I use is to go to BYO restaurants if you are going out for dinner. As long as the corkage is reasonable, you will save heaps by bringing along a reasonably priced bottle of wine (or two) and sharing it with everyone. With corkage being a one off payment and a bottle of wine being between 4-5 glasses with an average bottle price of $20 – $30; you could be spending between $4-$ 6 a glass. Compared to the $10-20 per glass drinks that the restaurants sell, it is easy to see why this tip will saves you lots of $$ without impeding on your night out!

17- stop buying your lunch at work

When I first got a job when I was 15, one of the quickest money vacuums that I got sucked up in was buying my lunch. Discovering all the yummy food court food that was ‘cheap’ and eating that multiple times a week for a few years was not only bad for my health but also my wallet. 

Now, the food I was buying wasn’t unhealthy, and it generally consisted of salads from a close-by vegan or salad bar. However, take out food still has a lot of unnecessary additives in it that you wouldn’t add in at home. And also, even though that massive chicken salad is ‘only $8’, that $8 was coming out of my account three times a week which in a month was costing me almost $100.

So to stop this, I started meal prepping very easy and portable meals that I could freeze or leave in the fridge for up to a week. That involved making extra dinner so I could take it for lunch the next day, always having canned tuna and corn thins on hand, purchasing multiple travel containers to store and carry the food in and overall being more aware and mindful of always having meals in the fridge that I could chuck in my bag on my way to work. 

18- come armed with snacks

When it comes to being organised with your food, to prevent unnecessary granola bar or brownie purchases while out and about, never leave home without some form of snack. 

The snacks I always take with me include fruit, seed crackers or some form of home-baked cookie or granola bar. 

I try to always stick to homemade snacks because it works out cheaper and in my opinion yummier too! However, if you do not want to bake or don’t have time, having a stockpile of some kind of snack you can chuck in your bag is fantastic! THESE are my favourite ones that I keep in my pantry as snack backups. 

19- I’m bringing cash back, yeah!

In the rise of debit cards and electronic payment options, cash is a form of payment that seems to be very quickly fading into the background and becoming ‘the old way to pay’. But I disagree, and I am an advocate for cash to have a resurgence. 

Cash is a tangible item that you physically see reducing in your wallet as you spend it, and it is something you have to give away to someone else with each purchase. And with a card, you just do not get that experience! You can just tap, tap, tap all day long and can easily never go back and see where your money is going (I used to do this ALL the time). However, since I started getting my spending money out in cash each fortnight, I am so much more aware of how I am spending by funds. 

And if I have a particularly big spending day, I can see the reduction in my wallet, and it forces me to acknowledge my spending for that day and become more conscious of my expenditures for the  rest of that week. 

Alternatively, if cash isn’t possible for you to carry with you or to access, always hold on to your receipts. This method works in the opposite way that cash does as you are collecting paper instead of handing it out when buying things. But it still gives you a visual way to review your spending daily or weekly to keep you accountable for your expenses. You can also scroll through your bank transactions history to review your payments as well, but I think a tangible approach is more beneficial for saving goals.

*When paying in cash, I always make sure to keep my receipts so I can put the spending into my budget as well!

20- focus on the end goal to make these changes more bearable

I know that this post was super long and there is a lot to take in, but all of these tips are made so much easier to integrate when you have a clear end goal as to why you want to get your spending organised. So what is saving goals? To buy a home? Go on a holiday? Get a new car? Or just to ensure that when you finish school, Uni or your job that you have enough money to sustain you as you grow? 

Whatever it is, write it down and continually remind yourself daily when you make financial decisions. Envisioning yourself at the end, having reached your goals is so rewarding and will make you so happy that you didn’t buy that one cup of coffee or top because everything adds up!

That concludes the 20 ways you can save big in 2020! I hope you found some of these tips and tricks that I use daily helpful. And if you have any other suggestions, let me know! These tips come from personal experience, and I am in no way a financial advisor. This is not professional advice. Please seek professional financial advice if you need.

Also note that all links in this post are linked as recommendations and all opinions are my own.

The Health Food Powders You Need In Your Pantry.

Food, missjessamy

I am a health food addict, I can easily spend over an hour in any health food shop just reading all the ingredients and powders to find out what is good for me and the benefits food can give my body. For me, healthy eating is so important, because it makes me feel good and confident; also it tastes really good.
So today I have compiled a list of some of my favourite health food powders that I feel make a difference to my everyday life. I have done some research into these to offer you key information on what these powders are all about. However, PLEASE do your own research if you want to introduce them to your diet, as I am not a healthcare professional.*

Raw Cacao Powder

I love Cacao and have used the powder for many years in baking, smoothies and as a base to warm drinks. Apart from its raw chocolaty taste, it has been proven to be a mood improver due to containing anandamide which brings on feelings of euphoria. It also has a very high ORAC score which shows it has high antioxidant levels. Antioxidants are integral to our health as they increase our immunity to colds and flu, improve digestion, energy and sleep as well as improve circulation (which promotes the reduction of inflammation and cellulite).
Cacao also contains calcium, iron, zinc and potassium; cacao also contains Magnesium which helps with the absorption of calcium. It also assists with an increased metabolism which helps with weight loss and increased digestion leading to overall elevated energy levels.

Calcium

As touched on above, calcium is essential for our body’s health. At the core, it helps build strong bones! To have strong bones is so important, especially as we age as it reduces the risks of both arthritis and osteoporosis. Having strong bones also helps reduce back pain and allows us to live a life of free movement and activity (we all want to be strong and stable!). Calcium is something I am passionate about because I am deficient, so I am focused on rebuilding my calcium levels so I can be strong and healthy. There has also been a lot of research that has shown calcium plays a role in controlling or preventing high blood pressure.
So if you are allergic to dairy, vegan or are concerned about your calcium levels, calcium powder is such an important additive to your diet. The one I use is Green Nutritionals Pure Plant Source Green Calcium, and it is tasteless, so I put it in anything and everything I can think of including, smoothies, oats, hot chocolates, soups etc.

Pea Protein

I use Pea Protein because I’m allergic to dairy so Whey Protein isn’t an option. I use Tropekas’ Lean Protein in Vanilla. This protein and other high-quality Pea Proteins help build lean muscle and assist with toning and muscle recovery. So it is ideal to have post workout to help feed your body the nutrients it needs to build and repair muscle, so you get the most out of your workout. Protein is also renowned for keeping you fuller for longer meaning satisfied cravings and hunger. Additionally, multiple sources of research have discovered that Pea Protein offers a similar protein source that eggs supply; making it a great, healthy and easily digestible protein alternative.

Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is probably my least favourite out of all of the health powders in my life due to the taste. But the benefits it offers forces me to look past this, and once I mix it into a smoothie, the taste almost disappears. To begin, Wheatgrass is high in Chlorophyll which helps cleanse, alkalise and improve energy levels. Chlorophyll also acts as an antibacterial in the body making it a natural healer. Wheatgrass also contains an extremely wide variety of vitamins and is rich in proteins containing amino acids. Additionally, the Chlorophyll property in Wheatgrass helps with neutralising body odours and controlling blood sugar levels. And with its detoxifying properties, Wheatgrass can help with increased energy levels, weight loss, improved digestion and improved circulation.

Baobab Powder

Baobab Powder is my newest discovery out of all the powders in this article, but I am thrilled I have discovered it as it has so many health properties. To begin, it is high in Vitamin C, which promotes healthy skin, increased immune function and energy levels. It also assists with the absorption of iron and contains Prebiotics that assist with healthy digestion and promotes gut health. I use Green Nutritionals Organic African Baobab.

I use all of the above in my daily smoothies and sprinkle them on top of granola or coconut yoghurt. Despite my research and experience with these powders, it is essential to use and consume what feels right for you and your body. It is so important to do your own research because I am not a healthcare professional and you must ensure you are eating what’s right for you.*

Talk Soon,
Jess xx

* all research and information in this post has been done by myself and I have incorporated these foods into my diet accordingly. Please ensure you read your own articles before introducing these into your daily routine. 

My Day Through A Camera Lens: 23/2/18

Lifestyle, missjessamy

Today I thought I would share something different with you all and potentially make it a post series. I have designed ‘My Day Through A Camera Lens’ to show you what I get up to in my day to day life, and give you an alternate visual when visiting MissJessAmy. So I hope you enjoy.

8:07am

I didn’t have work or Uni today, so I allowed myself a sleep in. I always leave one of my blinds up at night so I wake up to the morning light.

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8:15am

First things first in the morning is a workout. I lay my gear out the night before to ensure there are NO excuses in the morning.

shorts: NIKE, top: Cotton On Body, bra: Kmart, shoes: NIKE

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8:23am

Here is my workout set up, morning news on the big screen, workout videos on my laptop, and workout plan laid out.

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9:07am

I was truly smiling post workout today because it was a hard one and I was happy it was over (40min HIIT).

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9:13am

Breakfast time = smoothie bowl. Banana, Mango, Spinach, Coconut Yoghurt, Coconut Water, Almond Milk, Ice, Cacao, Tropeka Protein Powder, Cinnamon, Peanut Butter, Calcium Powder.

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11:51am

Visited the ‘Mind, Body and Spirit Festival’ and treated myself to Cocofrio’s Coconut and Choc Ice Cream (dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar-free). So yummy!

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2:06pm

Having some relaxation time after being out all morning. I am obsessed with editing the look of the blog at the moment to make it as user-friendly as possible. I was also multi-tasking by watching an Acting seminar on my laptop.

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2:10pm

Emails, Blog, Seminar are done and up to date = happy Jess

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2:18pm

On my way to meet my friend Mahlee to get my nails done and got a Green Tea to go. I have been trying to be more environmentally friendly this year, so I have been using my ‘Keep Cup’ and I’m obsessed.

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4:00pm

Nails are done, now time for a snack with Mahls.

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4:09pm

Time to go home as thunderstorms approach.

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4:44pm

En route home I stopped by my parents’ house.

Outfit detail: jeans: H&M, shoes: Steve Madden, bag: Target, jumper: Vintage, top: Decjuba

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4:49pm

PUPPY TIME! Meet our family dog, Beau. He is a 4-month-old French Bulldog.

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8:08pm

Winding down after a big day and after eating dinner by watching a movie, listening to the rain and writing this post. Goodnight.

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Talk soon,

Jess xx

My Tanning Routine

Lifestyle, missjessamy

As Summer begins to draw to a close here in Oz, I would like to think I have been able to finesse my tanning routine. So I thought I would share my carefully crafted routine with you all today to make it easier for any first time tanners out there, or to offer some tips for any tanning pros.

One: Dry Brushing

Something that I have recently gotten into is dry brushing. I have read about the benefits of this routine for a while and finally decided to give it a go. I don’t do it daily (because I just forget), but I do always do it before doing a tan. I find it assists in heightening the effects of scrubbing and shaving; leaving me with smooth legs that are easy to tan. I start at my feet and move in upwards circular motions all over my body.

Two: Exfoliation

An absolute must before tanning is to exfoliate. You want to ensure all of the dead skin is removed from your body, so your tan applies evenly and smoothly. I use Thankyou’s Coffee Body Scrub, and much like the dry brush, I will work in circular motions with the scrub, all over my body. I then allow the scrub to sit on my skin for at least 5 minutes, so all of the moisturising oils soak in. I also ensure to focus on rougher areas when scrubbing to ensure my tan applies evenly; so I scrub a bit harder on my knees, elbows and heels.

Three: Shaving

After my skin is smooth and prepped, it is time to remove the hair. When shaving I use Natural Instinct’s Relaxing Body Wash as my shaving cream as I find the natural oils and ingredients further help to soften my skin and assist in the reduction of post-shave bumps. I just shave my legs, underarms and bikini line. I find the hairs on my arms don’t interfere that much when I tan, as long as I have done an efficient exfoliating job.

Four: Moisturise

Now it’s time to moisturise, a key part of the tanning process. Before tanning, I use two different moisturising products that help me get a silky smooth and prepped body. I will first use Alpha Keri’s Anti-Cellulite Body Butter and then I will go over the top with Collagenesis by Skinn Essential Radiance Body Oil. I find these two products work well together as the cream is thick and focuses on firming up the skin, and then the oil offers major moisture and makes your skin silky smooth and shiny.

I will generally either do all the above the night before or morning of tanning. This allows enough time for all the moisturisers to soak in and for my pores to close before applying tan in the evening.

Five: Tan

Now it’s time for what we’ve all been waiting for, tanning time. Over the past few years, my go-to tan has been Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam in Dark, and I would normally apply three pumps to each body part (so three pumps for the left leg, three pumps for right leg etc.), sleep in it and wash it off in the morning. But at the moment I am trialling Bondi Sands 1 Hour Express Tan. Personally, one of my least favourite things to do when tanning was having to sleep in it. I found it uncomfortable and messy and I always had to worry about which sheets I had on my bed because I didn’t want to mark the expensive ones. But with this express tan, I can just put it on for 1-2 hours (depending on the colour pay off I want) and I can get on with my day. This is especially great if you have an event at night and want a touch of colour before you go.
I apply my tan on a tanning mitt (mine is from Mecca Maxima), in long motions up my legs and arms. I then go in circular motions on my stomach and chest to around to my back. I don’t tan my face, as I find I just break out or go red, so when I am tanned I normally just up my bronzer ratio. I also tan my hands and feet, but will only do that right at the end by using the leftover residue on the mitt; just to make sure they don’t go too dark.

Six: Maintain

After all the effort you go to, to apply your tan, you want to maintain it. So, I recommend using a Gradual Tanner to assist in the maintenance and further development of the colour. I use Dove’s Summer Glow Gradual Self Tan in Medium to Dark Skin, and love it. It gives the most amazing tan colour, is easy to apply and smells amazing.

So there you go, insider tanning tips and tricks. I hope you enjoyed learning about my tried and true tanning routine and use some of my tips in the future. Talk soon.

Jess xx

@jessicatathem 

How To Stay Fit and Healthy During Uni.

Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, missjessamy

It’s that time of year when we all head back to Uni (in Australia) and get a step closer to getting a degree. But for a lot of people, heading back to the books means heading back to eating takeout and halting working out because our lives become ‘too busy’. Well, fear not because I have put together five of my personal tried and true tips and tricks to help you stay on track and ace your finals and fitness goals this year.

#1- Start Your Day With Exercise

Now trying to juggle work, university and a social life is hard enough, which is why having to add in regular exercise is too hard for some, me included. Going to bed late and having to wake up early while being constantly tired is something all students deal with, and eliminating factors that make our days longer is ideal. But, exercise is an extremely important part of keeping yourself healthy and also assists in stress control.
My biggest tip for keeping up with your exercise routine in University is to do it first thing in the morning, even if you can only squeeze in 15 minutes before you have to run out the door; you’ll feel the difference in your day.
I used to be an afternoon exerciser, but after my workouts, I never felt overly accomplished and found I struggled to push myself to my limits. So I wanted to mix it up and began working out in the morning after breakfast. Well, this didn’t work either, I was full of food and was trying to jump around (rookie mistake). Instead, I set my alarm that little bit earlier and worked out before I did anything else in the morning, between 30-50 minutes depending on how I felt and how busy I was in the day.
This time change in my workout has honestly changed my life completely (sounds dramatic, but keep reading). I have found my digestion is better throughout the day, I feel more awake, I have more energy, and I feel so accomplished in the morning. It is also a great feeling to finish Uni or Work at 5 pm and know I can just come home a relax.
Now, I understand working out in the morning doesn’t suit everyone, even fitness extraordinaire Kayla Itsines has shared her dislike for working out in the morning. You have to do what suits you but I would highly recommend giving this a go! I only have to wake up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings, and that’s a small price to pay to feel good all day.

Favourite Workout Channels:

Popsugar Fitness

Blogilates 

Boho Beautiful 

Love Sweat Fitness

Yoga With Adriene 

Gabriella Whited

I combine multiple videos from the above channels to tailor workouts to what I want to focus on each day.

#2- Fuel Your Body Right

Being on the go all the time, it is easy to slip into the constant ‘eating out’ routine. Coming home on the bus and opening Uber Eats to see what’s nearby or skipping breakfast and grabbing a chocolate bar for a quick pick me up en route to a lecture is not a good way to go about your health.
The easiest way to avoid these diet downfalls is to meal prep or snack prep. When I go to Uni, I am a snacker much more than a meal eater. For me, breakfast is the biggest meal I have for the day, and it’s usually either a smoothie bowl or GF oats with Banana and Protein and everything else throughout my day I keep light and sustainable.
I am not much of a meal prepper, but I do prep snacks. I always have cut up capsicum, carrot, cucumber and cooked sweet potato in my fridge with homemade hummus. And I also always homemake GF, DF, RSF protein balls and bars as well as Fruit and Nut mix, so I can keep myself fuelled in-between classes.
However, if I don’t have time to make the sweet treats, I have a few go-to brands I chuck in my bag including:

Tom and Luke Protein Bars

Golden Day Paleo Bars

Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bars
I also always carry a large water bottle with me around campus with apple cider vinegar, this helps me stay hydrated and helps combat any sweet cravings I might get when I am bored in class (haha).

#3 Find Local Gems

Now, this slightly goes against what I said above about avoiding to eat out, but sometimes it is unavoidable. So my biggest tip for this would be to do your research and find places close to your Uni that provides healthy and yummy snacks and meals. Also, if all your friends want to go to a burger place, just read the menu well and try to opt for the healthiest option. For example, all my friends love Grill’d, so whenever we go I order:
*Veggie Vitality or Zen Hen
*on the Low Carb Super Bun
*and with Sweet Potato Fries (I only order fries if I share or I am particularly hungry)

Now, this is still a treat meal, but it is the healthier option and allows me to stick to my healthy lifestyle, while still being involved in the fun with friends.
Being in my second year now, I have also scoped out places around campus that sell my favourite Coconut Water, Kombucha and Paleo Bars.

#4 Write Down Your Goals

What do you want to achieve with this lifestyle? A more positive life outlook? Increased motivation? Stress relief? Weight loss? Toning up? Whatever it is, write it down! This not only holds you accountable for every positive decision you make towards a better you, but it also helps you visualise your end goal which increases your day to day motivation.
For me, every night before I go to bed I write down my workout plan for the next morning. This both keeps me accountable for my workout, but also allows me to go to bed and wake up motivated, as once it’s on paper, it has to be done. Since commencing this routine in mid-January, I have only missed ONE day, and that was because I woke up with a stiff neck and my doctor recommended I give it a break.

#5 Vitamin It Up

One thing that I think has truly allowed me to properly focus on my health is taking vitamins that help my body seize the day. I am currently taking a Calcium, Mega B, Vitamin C and Horseradish and Evening Primrose to support my health. I have never really been into these approaches, but with feeling the way I do right now, I have no idea why I wasn’t. Now, of course, I am not a healthcare professional, so you should always consult them before adding these supplements to your diet, but I would highly recommend going to them and figuring out what you need. I am calcium deficient, so a Calcium supplement is a must for more. Additionally, I suffer from anxiety and elevated stress levels, so my Mega B supports that and the Evening Primrose helps with my skin and in reducing my serious symptoms of PMS. Finally, the Vitamin C and horseradish is a general wellbeing one that helps with my immune system. When taking vitamins, it’s important to understand what you are taking and why you are taking it.

Despite everything above, you have to do what works for you. It is so important to take care of your health and wellbeing throughout your whole life, but when you have to juggle 100 different things throughout the day, your body needs some help. I hope you at least try one of these tips above and good luck with your studies.

Jess xx

@jessicatathem

Things I Learned in 2017

Lifestyle, missjessamy

A list of things I learned in 2017; a year that was unexpectedly splendid and life-changing.

  1. things get better
  2. some people and relationships need time
  3. feeling confident within yourself changes your outlook on life
  4. parents are people too
  5. sometimes, people just need someone to talk to
  6. life has a funny way of bringing happiness when you least expect it
  7. friends come from the most unlikely, but obvious places
  8. you are loved
  9. living on your own is scary but freeing
  10. stress is a roadblock
  11. spontaneity is thrilling
  12. a normal day can change your life
  13. the world has a funny way of working itself out in your favour
  14. giving back is important
  15. alone time is important
  16. pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is important
  17. inner health is important
  18. there are more important things than followers on social media
  19. being skinny and healthy can be two very different things
  20. people can change, some will and some won’t
  21. forgiveness is important for your soul
  22. moving on doesn’t mean you have to forget
  23. heartbreak ends
  24. sometimes you need a good cry
  25. trusting within yourself will open doors
  26. it’s good to treat yourself and others
  27. staring at the night sky is sometimes all the therapy you need
  28. everyone says “don’t sweat the small stuff,” and it’s hard, but don’t sweat it, there is no point
  29. you can’t change others, they will make their own mistakes
  30. it’s okay to make mistakes
  31. always consider others opinions and experiences
  32. people are good
  33. the world is kind
  34. the media focuses too much on the negative
  35. there is joy in turning up a song and dancing like crazy
  36. all good things take their time
  37. have trust that the universe has your best life in mind
  38. sometimes one good day can change your mindset forever
  39. being tall is good, even if cute dresses don’t always fit
  40. the feeling that live music offers is like no other
  41. getting emotional is nothing to be ashamed of
  42. getting passionate is nothing to be ashamed of
  43. others opinions literally do not matter
  44. people can be mean, but it shouldn’t change you
  45. finding true happiness is one of the most liberating things you can experience