I am not one of the types that necessarily ‘needs’ coffee in the mornings to get going, and I really tend to sway more towards teas. But I do enjoy the ritual of it all and as a way to start my day prioritizing ME, and simply exist without the worries of daily life. Enter the matcha latte. Currently I have fallen in love with matcha and am loving the way I feel after a morning cup. It is loaded with antioxidants and does contain caffeine, though it creates more of a calming alertness with none of the jitters or crash associated with coffee. Matcha is everywhere these days, and I am so thankful that it is because I’m completely smitten.

After lots of experimentation and trying different concoctions, I have found my perfect blend – delicious, earthy, and chalk full of adaptogen goodness. – The adaptogens you choose for your potions are entirely up to you. Based on what benefits you are hoping to reap, there are SO many options – I personally LOVE Tocos as it is serious food to hydrate skin and connective tissue. It’s literally good on anything, eaten straight, or just mixed into your morning cup of coffee or tea where it will dissolve instantly, producing a creamy texture without actual cream. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t usually put more than 3-4 adaptogens in each potion. I’d also advise to keep portion size small. You only really need a 1/2 teaspoon of each adaptogen. In the recipes below, there are a few suggestions, but I encourage you to do your own research and see which adaptogens call to you. In terms of brands, I recommend Sun Potion, Moon juice, and Mountain Rose Herbs.

Additionally you can add in MCT Oil/Brain Octane – This is great to add if you need that extra pep in your step and is not something I add in everyday. With the addition of MCT oil or Brain Octane, you basically have a Bulletproof matcha. KAPOW! If you’ve never used either, I would start with a teaspoon or less. I prefer to use the MCT oil powder from Perfect Keto as it does not cause stomach upset and can literally be added to anything. It also leaves no oily film on the surface of liquids it is added to and actually adds a creaminess as well.

My Everyday Matcha Potion:

2 cups hot water OR 1 cup hot water + 1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons high-quality drinking matcha ( I like Wild Foods)
1 tablespoon tocos
1/2 teaspoon cordyceps (or adaptogen of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon mucuna pruiens (or adaptogen of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon ashwaganda (or adaptogen of your choice)
a pinch of raw vanilla ( Wild Foods)
1-1 1/2 tablespoons coconut butter or ghee
A hefty sprinkle of cinnamon

{If you prefer a sweeter flavor add 1 tsp raw honey or 4-5 drops liquid stevia)

Add the hot coconut milk and water to your blender – let cool a bit before doing so. Then just add all the other ingredients in and blend for 1-2 minutes. On days where I feel I need a little help with inflammation I will add in 1/4 tsp of organic Tumeric in place of the cinnamon.

 

*UPDATED* For Fall 

Pumpkin Spice Matcha Potion:

2 cups hot water (160°-175°) OR 1 cup hot water + 1 cup coconut (or any other kind) milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons pumpkin purée
1 1/2 teaspoons matcha
1/2 teaspoon maca
1/2 teaspoon chaga powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of pink salt
Optional: 1 teaspoon raw honey

 

 

 

I love dressing to both look well put together as well as comfy so denim, Tees, boots, and chambray shirts are my go to’s. Give me a gray or striped tee and a chambray shirt and I swear I would be good on tops. My favorite place to shop long lasting denim and chambray shirts from is definitely Madewell (love this one and this one) although the one I am always constantly wearing is from Old Navy and it’s seriously one of my favorites. These staples are pretty much all I wear these days in shades of black, white, and earth tones. Here are just a few of my recent Fall favorites and some purchases that are both stylish and affordable.

– This post contains ad links –

SAM EDELMAN BLAKE BOOTIE – The rich hue on these booties elevate anything you pair with them. I love them. Retails for $150 at Nordstrom (purchased on DSW for $69.99)

 

PETITE Chunky Sweaterwith Twist Back – super comfy $45.00

 

 

Glamorous Petite Long Sleeve Shirt Dress In Spot $51.00

GUESS BESY CHELSEA BOOT – This cognac sued peep toe casually dresses up a T shirt and jeans. Retails for $120 at Nordstrom (purchased on DSW for $59.98)

MADEWELL 8″ SKINNY JEANS IN RIVERDALE WASH – These jeans are everything your  jeans should be and are perfect for those ladies under 5’4 (also available in tall). $128

New Look Tailored Coat $56.00

 

LUCKY BRAND LARISE BOOTIE – Not only are these comfortable but they are so versatile pairing with anything. Retails for $130 (available at DSW for $79.99)

Vero Moda Petite Clean Skinny Jeans $42.00

New Look Drop Neck Jersey Tee $11.50

GUESS GABRIELLE BOOTIE – These peep toes can be worn casually or bump a sexy look up even more. Very comfortable. Retails for $110 (purchased on DSW for $49.98)

If you are just curious about life in Norway or are considering a move to this beautiful country, below is a list of facts we have grown to know, some we love, since settling in Oslo.

Photo from Norwegian constitution day celebration, May 17

After being here a year I feel like I’ve gotten to know this place very well. That said, some days I also feel like I don’t understand it at all. While on the surface Norway can seem somewhat similar to Australia or the United States, I assure you that the culture is quite vastly different. I am constantly getting used to things here, which is, of course, the nature of the life of any expat. Though some of the facts listed have definitely been more challenging than others, none of what is listed below is neither good nor bad, just simply the way life is here in Norway.

1. The honesty policy

This is definitely one of the nicest things about living here for me. People seem to genuinely trust each other and sometimes I feel like I am living in a village instead of a city. Nowhere else in the world would I not hesitate to leave my bag at the table in a cafe while I go up to order a coffee. You can drop or leave behind scarves, hats, high end jackets, groceries, and even identification cards and go back two hours later to find it still sitting there. I have even heard a example of this via another expat, having paid cash at the dentist but the office not have any change. Instead of giving this person a hard time about it, the dental office just took the largest bill they had and let them pay the rest on the next visit.

2. Taxes everywhere

In Norway you will constantly be paying taxes whether you are aware of them or not. This starts with the 25 per cent value-added tax (VAT or moms; 14 per cent for food and drink). Then there are property taxes, death (inheritance) taxes, fuel taxes, luxury taxes, TV taxes, new car taxes, income taxes (at least 28 percent, well over 40 percent) and the wealth tax (1.1 per cent on worldwide assets).

3. It can be difficult to be economical.

Forget about buying staple goods in bulk. Price competition is rare and importing things is not always a solution because of the VAT (see above).

4. You will pay A LOT more for vitamins. 

Norway has extremely restrictive supplement regulations. High-dose vitamins require a prescription and the prices for the ones that are sold over the counter are high. If you’re like me and take a lot of different vitamins, it’s going to hit your pocketbook. A normal sized pack of 200 mg Vitamin C tablets, for example, will cost around US$25. On a positive note, the quality of the supplements sold in Norway is tightly regulated. I usually request family or friends planning on visiting to bring them for me in bulk.

5. EVERYTHING associated with cars and driving is expensive.

From exchanging your licence to the price of a car, to the taxes and fuel costs, driving is expensive in Norway. You have the annual motor vehicle tax, periodic road-worthiness tests, different tires for different seasons and large fines for speeding. Despite having a good income, we have decided that it’s too cost prohibitive to purchase a car given the unknown amount of time we will spend here. Plus, the public transportation here is legit amazing and we really have found no use for a car other than for far a way ski trips, which then there is the option of renting.

6. Things can be very efficient here.

While some processes will seem slow, especially when dealing with government, many are fast, efficient and electronic. Norway was one of the first to implement the chip card and is quickly becoming a cashless society, where electronic banking and debit cards are fully integrated for easy bill payments. Because of the high cost to businesses when hiring employees, you’ll find that many interactions are streamlined. A place where this efficiency won’t be found is at the supermarket, where you’ll often line up for awhile because there are so few people working the checkout counters.

7. You will want to learn Norwegian.

Many Norwegians speak English, but that doesn’t mean they all want to. You won’t have much trouble at the shops or when obtaining basic services, but you won’t get much further than that. Much will depend on where you work and the culture there – In such a closed culture, speaking English will keep you that much more outside of it. In a Norwegian company, such as Ben’s company, most of the employees will want to speak Norwegian in social situations, as well as in meetings. This is true even when the work is done in English.

Also, your mail from companies in Norway will be in Norwegian. You will also encounter other non-English speaking foreigners to whom you may only be able to communicate in Norwegian. If you attend parties and social events, many people will be speaking Norwegian even if there are large numbers of English speakers present. So be sure to try and learn some basics as this is normal life here.

Photo taken from Norsk Folkemuseum, at Bygdøy

8.Sunday is for rest.

Sunday has always been a day I look forward to, but since moving to Norway it is now my ultimate favorite. Almost no Norwegians work on Sundays, unless they work Downtown in the shops or restaurants. This is very much a day for relaxing at home with family or getting outside into the forest. Business hours are generally Monday through Saturday, but most places either close by 3pm or are completely closed on Saturdays. In our area, nothing is open at all on Sunday including grocery stores. Only the smallest supermarkets like Joker is open. This also goes for the Vinmonopolet (the liquor store,). You will only have until 3pm on Saturday to grab any liquor or wine you wish to have for the evening on Sunday.

9. Norway is a great place to be a parent.

As we are planning to start a family, I have been researching this and looking into the benefits more than ever. Basically, if you are paying taxes in Norway, the government will look after your children from the moment of conception. All your doctor’s appointments for pregnancy will be free if you see professionals in the public system. A variety of benefits are available, including the pregnancy benefit and the parental benefit that provides you with income during maternity and paternity leave. These are generous – 100 per cent for 47 weeks or 80 per cent for 57 weeks, and they can be shared between the parents. Also, family allowances help to pay for the costs of raising a child until he or she turns 18. If you look after your young child at home or they go to barnehagen (kindergarten) less than 20 hours a week, you are eligible to receive a ‘cash-for-care’ benefit. If you’re happy with public schools, elementary education is free from birth to age 16. University fees seldom exceed 500 kr per semester (that’s less than US$100). Additionally, a variety of free counselling, welfare, mediation and women’s services are available for those with children. Of course, if you don’t have children, you’ll be paying for these services anyway through your taxes.

10. Getting correct answers to your questions can be difficult.

I have endless frustration when trying to get answers, especially from government offices. This doesn’t always happen, but often I may get a answer from one person and, if this doesn’t sound right or make sense with the information I do have on hand, I might call back for a second opinion. This second opinion can often vary from the first; and sometimes it’s a completely different answer. I’ve also found, and this is very important, that you have to ask a lot of questions because people won’t automatically tell you things. You may have a question about one part of something, but there will be additional information that could be helpful. Unless you ask about that specific information, however, it may not be given to you. This is not an intentional slight or anything like that, I’ve just noticed that it seems to be a cultural difference. We are now used to working with a checklist of sorts when providing information and being as thorough as possible. That isn’t always thought of here in Norway so just be sure to be thorough yourself in your inquiries.

11. Trade unions and collective agreements make a difference.

Norway does not have a minimum wage. Instead, numerous trade unions exist across many professions and enterprises. They look after their members’ interests and fight for improvements in pay and working conditions by creating collective agreements. If your workplace is bound by such an agreement, you will generally get paid more and have a better work environment. If the agreement has been given general application, its provisions will also apply to foreign workers and non-members.

12. Going out is expensive

Moving to Norway was a bit of  a shock to our wallets. To give you some perspective here are some percentage comparisons for U.S. based cities; living in Oslo is roughly 36% more expensive than Austin, TX, 42% more than Columbus, Ohio, 14% more than Oakland, California, and only 5% more expensive than living in New York City. Restaurants, alcohol, fuel, and accommodation seem to be the most costly. So for two 30 something’s with no children in Oslo, we learned fairly quickly that a night out for drinks and dinner can rack up quickly. The last time we went out for a meal of pizza and one beer each, we paid NOK 630 (USD $80). The meal was delicious and enjoyable for sure, but it was not any better than what I could make at home for a lot less. Fast food burgers at one of our favorite joints Munchies start at NOK 106 (USD $13) each, and a pint of good craft beer starts at about NOK 110 (USD $14). That’s high by anyone’s standards. Basically, you really cannot get a beer out for less than NOK 80 ($10). Going to the liquor store is a cheaper alternative, but not by much in the end. For locals, these prices are affordable with the wages on offer. People don’t seem too concerned with the costs going about their daily business and no one talks about how overpriced things are. This is just the way it is here and it’s best to just not think about it too much.

Hiking in the forests just by our home

13. Allemannsretten

You can roam and camp wherever you want, literally. In Norway, outdoor recreation has become a major part of national identity, and is established by law. The right to roam, also called allemannsretten (the right of access) is a traditional right, and since the 50’s it has also been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act. It ensures that everybody gets to experience nature, even on larger privately owned areas – as long as you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature. The right to roam applies to open country, sometimes also known as “unfenced land”, which is land that is not cultivated. In Norway, the term covers most shores, bogs, forests and mountains. It does not apply to “fenced land”, which is private, and includes cultivated land. However you do have access to fields and meadows from 15 October to 30 April when the ground is frozen or covered with snow. And as long as you keep at least 150 meters away from the nearest inhabited house or cabin, you’re free to put up your tent anywhere.

14. Holidays are taken very seriously here.

Employees get five weeks of holidays per year, three of which can be taken consecutively over the summer period – forget about getting anything done in the summer because everyone will be on holiday. There are a few school holiday periods throughout the year and sometimes it can feel like there is a lot more play than work going on in Norway. They even stagger the school holiday periods from region to region so that the ski resorts don’t get overrun all at once. If anything else frustrates you about Norwegian systems, you’ll smile at how organized vacation is.

15. Friluftsliv

To really experience and enjoy life here in Norway, friluftsliv is a necessity (pronounced free-loofts-liv) – and one which I personally believe all need to incorporate into their lives to live most happily. This Norwegian word has come to embody Norway’s cultural enchantment with nature. It doesn’t translate easily to English, but the basic spirit of friluftsliv hides inside all of us – the word literally means “free air life” in Norwegian and it is a term that is used often to describe a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature. This word and getting out into nature is a prominent philosophy that plays a vital role in all Norwegian life as well as children’s education. There is some flexibility in friluftsliv, and one consistent tenet of the philosophy is that exploring nature shouldn’t be complicated. The free air life, therefore, doesn’t depend on expensive equipment or glamping accessories that can create walls between us and the wild. Whether it’s a rugged mountain hike or a lazy walk in the park, friluftsliv is a minimalist communion between humans and their habitats. And as with most kinds of cultural heritage, it only counts as culture if you pass it on. Since the U.S  ranks 20 spots behind Norway in global happiness ratings, maybe it’s time to rekindle an American spirit of friluftsliv.
Check out this documentary on Vimeo to learn more about friluftsliv HERE
For more information on traveling to Norway you can check out VisitNorway.no

 

Every once in a while I will splurge for Ben and make a more hearty meal – that being not vegetarian, poultry, or pescatarian. Out of both personal choice as well as Norwegian cost, we are a relatively meatless household. And this recipe is a treat for us as it has the Spanish flavors we so love and miss! One of my favorite ways to prepare meals as of late are one pot. It’s a simple alternative to spending a long period of time in the kitchen and the ingredients can be prepped hours before or even a day ahead. I prefer to use Le Creuset’s Signature Dutch Oven for it’s versatility and ease of cleaning, plus it is just a beautiful piece of cook ware that I don’t mind seeing on my open shelves. A slow cooker would work just as well with this recipe. This meal is incredibly minimal in ingredients, paleo friendly and gluten free with oh so much flavor. I like to serve this with a veggie side to balance it out and I love cauliflower rice as it is so easy as well as packed full of good vitamins and minerals. I have also served this atop salad and street taco style with some red onions, avocado, cilantro, and of course cholula hot sauce. This recipe serves 2 and can be easily doubled or manipulated as needed.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds organic pork shoulder (or jackfruit, if vegetarian/vegan)
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cooking fat or ghee
  • .5 -1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 serrano pepper or a jalapeno (we like spicy, this is optional)
  • .5 tsp chili powder
  • .5 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 Cup of water
  • 1/4 Cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • Juice of half a lime
First things first, turn your oven to 177’C (350’F) and while that preheats, drain and dry off the pork. If using jackfruit see how to prepare it here. Mix 1 tablespoon of the salt and all of the pepper in a bowl large enough for the pork shoulder and season evenly.
In your dutch oven melt the cooking fat over medium heat to coat the bottom of the pan. When the fat is hot, add the pork and brown on all sides, approx. 4 minutes per side. Once browned, remove the pork and set aside.
In the same pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, cooking until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add in the water, orange juice, and seasonings and increase the heat to high. Return the pork to the pot and bring all of this to a boil.
Cover the pot with a lid and transfer to the oven to cook for 2.5 hours, turning the meat after 1 hour. Once done, transfer the pork to a bowl and shred with two forks, discarding the excess fat. Incorporate the green onions, lime juice, remaining .5 tbsp salt, and shredded pork in the cooking liquid. Voilà!
For tacos, place the meat on a baking sheet in a even layer and broil to desired crispness, about 5-10 minutes.
IF USING A SLOW COOKER:
Before you leave it for the day, complete the recipe through the third step and then put everything into the cooker. Set on low and cook 8-10 hours.
Optional Cauliflower Rice:
  • 1 large head cauliflower cut into florets
  • 3 Tbsp ghee or clarified butter
  • .5 onion finely chopped
  • 1 carrot peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • .5 cup veggie or chicken broth
  • .5 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp
Wash and thoroughly dry the cauliflower, then remove all greens and cut into 4 even sections. “Rice” the cauliflower florets in a food processor by pulsing into a rice-like consistency, leaving any large, tough stems behind. Don’t pulse too much or over crowd the food processor or you will end up with mushy cauliflower.
Once you have your cauliflower rice, it’s super simple to cook! Simply sauté the onion and carrot in a large skillet over medium heat with the ghee until onion is translucent. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in the broth and cover with a lid so the cauliflower steams and becomes more tender and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and season as desired with the salt and pepper,  or any other favorite seasoning you prefer (I like to add fresh chopped cilantro or basil).
 
You can easily use this cauliflower rice in any and all recipes that call for rice and seasoning it is incredibly versatile! A TIP for my American peeps, I know that Sams Club, Costco, Sprouts, and Trader Joes sell a ready to cook rice cauliflower in the frozen veggie section – much quicker and less clean up!
Knives used are the GLOBAL G-4 and GS -3

 

 

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