Enjoying the desert life

We have journeyed from big cities like Buenos Aires and Santiago, hiked up an active volcano covered in snow in Pucon, relished the smells and tastes of Maipu just outside of Mendoza, trekked and camped Torres Del Paine and the list goes on. But now friends it is time to share our latest adventures in the Chilean desert town of San Pedro de Atacama…

Presenting our hostel, our cozy haven which began as a 2 night stop over stay and rapidly transformed into to an awesome 4 night desert experience.

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The town quite simply has a special touch. The streets are sandy and lined with tourist offices, restaurants, mini-markets and huddles of people waiting to board their collectivo and begin one of the many morning/afternoon/evening tours on offer.

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We don’t usually do the group tour type of thing, but in this town it is what you do. The more you book the better deal you get, and it is the easiest way to see the coolest places. Our first tour was visiting the Valle de la Luna. Awesome natural sculptures formed over millions of years..

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We watched the sunsetting over the landscape which was beautiful!

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Next day, 4am wake up “what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?”

This… Sunrise at the mind blowing El Tatio (the geysers) which means ‘old man crying’ in Quechua

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and by the way, temperature update: -11.5 degrees Celsius

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As the sun continued rising, we huddled around the geysers where the hot steam offers welcome warmth

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Our guide began explaining how the steam comes for the pools of water bellow surface, when he stuck his hands into the water and pulled out a bag of magical oval balls… Eggs!

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Also known as hand warmers ( and breakfast!)

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We continued on stopping at these hidden gems for snaps

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And then we took a dip in the natural hot springs.

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Such an awesome tour and well worth the early wake up. We returned to town at midday, grabbed lunch and napped in preparation for an 11pm star gazing tour. No pictures here but we were truly blown away by how crazy our sky is! Being in an unpolluted, undisturbed desert we saw our night sky up close and personal..planets, the Milky Way, moons, shooting stars.. The list goes on.

Next day stove cooked oats for breakfast in preparation for….

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SANDBOARDING

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Similar to snow boarding (not as fast according to Josh) but definitely fast enough for me!

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Was very cool being surrounded by these massive sand dunes, feeling as though we were in the middle of nowhere.
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That afternoon we hit up the Laguna Cejar.
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Crystal waters, sunshine and blue skies!
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and overall a relaxing afternoon of floating in the 25m deep salt lake..
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Complete with watching the sunset and drinking pisco sours 🙂
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What a crazy few days, feeling so blessed and lucky to be sharing it all with Josh.
Next we have a 3 day jeep journey through the salt flats into Bolivia.

Adios amigos!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

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Chile adventures on foot

After arriving in the town of Puerto Natales after a long 14 hour bus ride from Ushuaia our trekking adventure in Torres Del Paine national park was next on our agenda and the part of our trip we were both so excited for!

This trek involved carrying our tent, sleeping bags, mats, sleeping gear, wet weather gear, stove, gas, cooking utensils, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners all on our backs for approximately 85 kms. Our hostel room was a bomb before we left.. 20121015-120610.jpg

We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning – but not early enough. Our phones were on the wrong time zone setting and thinking it was 630am it was actually 730am. Luckily the bus driver agreed to come back for us! We took a bus to the park and then a catamaran to the starting point of the W-trek which we were about to begin. Ready to go with bright orange wet weather gear- tick! 20121015-120623.jpg
From the very beginning of the trek the views were breathtaking. The terrain was so diverse from devastating desolate fire affected areas (caused by a tourist in January), to lush greenery, snow capped mountains, aqua lakes, glaciers and beautiful valleys and streams. With little to no wind the reflections of the mountains on the lake were incredible.
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Luckily we didn’t have to carry water with us. Any running stream of water was good to drink. And good is an understatement 🙂 water never tasted so fresh and crisp! 20121015-120641.jpg
Day 1 we walked towards Glacier Grey. It was so cool seeing the icebergs and the different shades of white and blue caused by the reflections of the sky and the surroundings.
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Got to love a few selfies 😉
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We camped right by the glacier the first night. We woke up thinking there was a massive thunder storm when in actual fact it was part of the glacier chipping off. Nature and its surprises.

For dinner we enjoyed devoured mushroom risotto from a packet. Our conversation went something like this.. “This could honestly be served in a 5 star restaurant”… “Maybe its just cause we are hungry”… “no i’m serious i don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything so good”. Lol.
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Next day we were all packed up and off to our next campsite. Crossing big, unstable bridges with signs like these are enough to make you a bit concerned. 20121015-120821.jpg

On day 3 we were blessed with beautiful blue skies which we did not take for granted after hearing horror stories about Patagonian weather.20121015-120829.jpg
A day of picturesque scenery.
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Panoramic 360 degree view. Feeling a bit low on the energy side of things, this definitely raised the spirits!20121015-120845.jpg

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Occasionally we would just stop, pinch ourselves that we were actually here and have a moment to take it all in.20121015-120914.jpg

This was by at our favourite day of scenery. Patagonia was really showing off what it has to offer 😉 20121015-120924.jpg

If mushroom risotto was 5 star quality, then 2 minute noodles AND creamy spinach soup deserved 3 hats!20121015-120930.jpg

Pitching our tent on a wooden board at the next campsite was luxury! A flat surface, unlike the previous night prevented me waking up squashed to the side of the tent on the hard cold ground (with Josh soundly asleep and oblivious) haha 20121015-120936.jpg

We had a relatively good night sleep and were ready the most difficult day of the trek. 22 kms and steep inclines. But after a hearty bowl of delicious hot oats- you know about my love for them– we were ready and pumped! . 20121015-120943.jpg

We reached our campsite way earlier than we expected, pitched our tent and decided to trek up to Torres Del Paine thinking it would just be a stroll. How wrong we were! Steep and rocky- but well worth the view! 20121015-120951.jpg
The cow mountain.
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After a lovely evening at camp we woke up for our last day, dosed up on the oats and coffee and off we went! 20121015-121006.jpg
We made it our tradition to run as fast as we could down hills (yes, with our massive backpacks on)… Such fun! This also meant our 10ks down to our end point just flew
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After a fun and relatively easy day we arrived at our final destination feeling good, accomplished and satisfied!20121015-121024.jpg

We enjoyed coke and coffee and a clean bathroom with oh so sweet melting soap!!!!20121015-121034.jpg

After finally returning to our hostel, returning our hired gear and scrubbing up like never before we headed out for a post-trek feed to a place recommended by our friend Bortzy, La Picada de Don Carlitos. a20121015-121103.jpg

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What an incredible journey we shared together! We crossed many boundaries that should probably never be crossed, spent hours chatting about random topics from trigonometry to economics to singing random songs, playing rhyming games, predicting passer-byers’ itineraries and enjoying kms of absolute silence.

Today we are taking a day to unwind, relax and rest the feet before taking a a bus early tomorrow morning to El Calafate back in Argentina.

Until next time, hasta Luego!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

What I ate Wednesday #3

My day began with a hearty bowl of Carman’s Honey Roasted Nut oats, with banana and topped with some of the Carman’s muesli.. all which I received in my wonderful package yesterday 🙂

My verdict on the oats? Very yum, nicely textured but no need to add honey as it is very sweet already, almost too sweet for my liking.  The muesli was delicious! Nice and crunchy. It does give my homemade muesli a run for its money 😉

I got a call for teaching today, so a packed lunch was on the agenda.

Recess was delicious and sweet!

For lunch, I toasted my bread and topped it with avo, tuna and basil leaves. Not a great photo as it can be a bit awkward snapping away at your food in a staff room but it was SO good. Basil really gives an average meal an exciting edge.

I then met my lovely friend Gloria for a good catch up session.  My sister and I met Gloria at the gym a couple of years ago and she has become a very special friend, who I just love spending time with!

We went to Oliver Brown, which is known for their chocolate and they did not disappoint.  I had a mint hot chocolate which was very yum.

Thanks Gloria for a lovely afternoon 🙂

For dinner, I made a quick stir fry topped with a fried egg, for a protein hit.  I was lazy and bought the ready prepared Chinese stir fry mix from the fresh section of the supermarket. I tossed in in a hot pan with a bit of oil, added some sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce. So simple and very tasty.

Check out my tips for making Quick, Healthy and Delicious dinners in 3 easy steps!

As for exercise… does playground duty and walking around the shopping centre count? Rest day for me today 😉

Thanks again to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW – love meeting new bloggers every Wednesday!

Well that is all from me today, but before you take your next step into cyber space do share your thoughts with me…

What is your favourite lazy dinner meal?

What I Ate Wednesday #2 – Food, Fitness and Fun!

Thanks again to Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW, a great blogging initiative to share ideas on food, fitness and fun!

My day began bright and early with a chilly, but sunny breakfast on the balcony.  On the menu was my special oats with banana, peanut butter and honey. Rich and satisfying. Always hits the spot.

Next I was off to the podiatrist for orthotic scans. Apparently, I am extremely flat footed and the fact I don’t suffer from sever foot pains is a mystery..  Have you ever worn orthotics? Have they helped you?

My commute to work was very pleasant. Blue sky and just-rained-on greenery.  My best.

Early to work again! I enjoyed a coffee while I watched the passing traffic.

Lunch was a toasted tuna and salad sandwich on multigrain bread, with an English breakfast tea.

Afternoon snack @ home… banana smothered in crunchy peanut butter. Perfect combo!

Afternoon tea with my aunty Norma. I love spending time with Norms and what I may even love more is her beautiful tray 🙂

Next on the agenda was Body Step. I hadn’t done this class in ages.  The coordination element to it really challenges me, but our instructor Leisl was great as usual. I always enjoy her classes when I get a chance to go to them.

Here Anna (who happens to be one of my awesome Body Attack instructors) and I pose oblivious to the chaos surrounding us… in the same shoes of course 😉

After gym I popped by Liv who greeted me with THE most delicious homemade orange juice.

And soon after we headed off to dinner @ Tenka, a Japanese restaurant in our hood.  I had the Udon noodles with salmon and vegetables.  Was yum, but I prefer the Udon noodle soup. There is always next time!

What a full and busy day. Just how I like it. Not long until school holidays are over and life returns to being more structured…

On another note, for those Sydney siders interested I have just released my Breast Cancer social walk/run and breakfast next month and here is YOUR personal invite.

Grab a few friends, RSVP by commenting on the blog or Contact Me page and come along! All fitness levels and ages welcome! It is for a great cause and a great excuse to get outdoors and enjoy good company, a sponsored breakfast and fresh air.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

What food has fuelled your Wednesday? and…
How have you been active today?  

xxx

What I Ate Wednesday – Fun, Food and Fitness

I have just joined a blogging initiative entitled ‘What I Ate Wednesday’, hosted by Jenn @ Peas and Crayons.  WIAW is all about celebrating the important role food plays in our lives; for nourishing our body and for giving us the energy we need in order to the things we love.

Peas and CrayonsSo let’s celebrate food! This is WIAW..
I began the day with a hearty bowl of oats and cuppa tea.

I had to park far to catch the train today, so it was a brisk 10 minute walk to the station accompanied by a peppermint tea on-the-go.
I had lunch @ a cafe near work. Today was a toasted tuna sandwich with avocado, beetroot, spinach leaves and carrots..

With a hot chocolate on the side 🙂

On my way home from work I had a Pink Lady apple. Upside is it was so crunchy but downside.. so hard to eat when you are trying to eat it quietly and getting death stares from the nearby passengers.

I got majorly caught in the rain on my walk run from the station to my car. I was freezing so changed into my nice dry gym gear and decided to try and get to a pilates class at the gym. I made it with a few minutes to spare, so did a quick 1km warm up run on the treadmill.

Pilates is something I have always wanted to get into, but have never quite had the patience to fully embrace. I have done a few pilates ‘classes’ with my friend Liv, who is amazing at it (and a great instructor).  Tonights class wasn’t great, the instructor moved quite quickly through the exercises which didn’t really give me enough to time to get into them, but it was nice to spend a bit of time working on my core and stretch out the body. (Please excuse the awkward photo).

After pilates I came home to some of my mum’s amazing heart-warming, soul-soothing chicken soup. It is honestly the best winter dinner. It is nice and filling and has chicken pieces and vegetables in every spoonful. Thanks Mum!

That is WIAW. For now anyway..
What is your favourite after dinner treat? 
Happy Wednesday (and for those Aussies interested GO THE BLUES)!

Homemade Muesli and Lean Green Smoothie!

After a fun weekend of food, drinks and repeat I decided to come home and make something light for dinner.

My mom taped a Bill Granger episode where he made muesli.. so after watching it I was inspired to give it a try. Bill was saying he lives by the philosophy that

Breakfast should be wholesome, lunch should be light and dinner should be prepared in 20 minutes.

I so agree!

So here is the muesli. I made a few modifications to his ingredients as I just worked with what I had in my pantry. The quantities are approximate, and very easy to just tailor it to your preferences.

1) In a baking tray, add 3 cups of oats, and a handful of almonds, sesame seeds, linseed and pumpkin kernels.

2) Add 2 tablespoons of oil and about 1/2 cup of apple juice.

3) Bake in 180 degree Celsius oven for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

4) When ready, add dome dried fruit. I went with blueberries.

So good! What I love about homemade muesli is there are no preservatives, additives or funny ingredients.  You are in full control of what goes in and you know that the ingredients are all good for you.

I transferred the muesli into smaller containers and put some in zip lock bags – perfect paired with yoghurt for a quick and easy packed lunch.

Tonight I went with a Chobani blueberry yoghurt, and added some banana, orange and a big scoop of muesli 🙂

I then made a nice green smoothie to go with it.  Kept it very simple with spinach leaves, apple and ice.  Clean, lean and green.

Dinner is now served 🙂

What is on your plate this Sunday evening?
 

What’s on my shopping list?

I am a creature of habit.  In my home out shopping list doesn’t change too often. The bulk of what we buy is fresh and seasonal. Our number one priority is Eating Well and Feeling Satisfied!  Here is a list of what we always have in our fridge, freezer and pantry and most the recipes I post on my blog contain these items.

Check out my Food for Fuel page for some more recipe ideas and healthy eating tips. 

Fresh Fruit (usually go by what is in season)
-Pink Lady apples
-Mandarins/oranges
-Bananas
-Strawberries
-Lemons
-Berries (Check out Antioxidant Booster Smoothie)

Vegetables
-Baby spinach leaves
-Mixed lettuce leaves (usually pre washed pack for convenience factor)
-Peppers/capsicums – red, green, yellow
-Tomatoes (I like the baby tomatoes)
-Basil leaves
-Celery
-Carrots
-Red onions
-Avocado
-Beetroot (tinned is easier, if you are patient fresh is SO much better!)
-Sweet potato
-Red chillies
-Mushrooms
-Corn on the cob (Easy to just pop in the microwave for dinner)

Dairy Items
-Milk
-Cottage cheese
-Chobani yoghurt (Check out what Chobani Yoghurt sent me!)
-Feta cheese
-Ricotta (See delicious Breakfast Brushcetta!!)

Protein
-Salmon fillets (can buy in frozen section of supermarket or fresh! I like keeping the frozen ones in my freezer for a quick dinner option)
-Chicken – Breast or Thigh fillets
-Eggs
-Lean steak
 Grains
-Oats (Health Benefits of Oats)
-Bills organic bread (multigrain or sourdough)
-Quinoa
-Mountain bread (Perfect for wraps, check out Chicken and Avocado wrap)
-Brown rice (I like to keep the small single serve, ready made brown rice packs on hand)

Pantry Items
-Black Tea (My dedication to tea..!)
-Peppermint tea
-Peanut butter
-Honey
-Almonds / pecans / walnuts (Perfect for making my healthy nut and seed loaf)
-Mixed nut packs (See my snacking tips)
-Olive oil
-Balsamic vinegar / white vinegar
-Fun size chocolates (perfect size for dipping in tea)
-Wholemeal flour
-Quinoa
-Tomato paste
-Tuna tins (I love it in olive oil)
Happy shopping and cooking!

What are the top 3 ingredients you always have on hand??