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Ichiego-ichie-life-curator

Be here in this moment. Sacred, I'm saying your name.

Give Me Tonight, Dustin Tebbutt

The Japanese have a saying ‘ichi-go ichi-e’ (一期一会) meaning ‘one time, one meeting’. It roughly translates to the idea that we live ‘each moment, only once’ and that the value of each encounter is that it happens only once in a lifetime.

I was introduced to the concept of ichigo ichie at a Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto. Being a tea lover, I jumped at the opportunity to sit inside a century-old tea room and experience the artistic display of tradition and hospitality. Our tea hostess was captivating – a graceful lady in her sixties with an unhurried elegance and a quiet passion. I intently watched her transfer the hot water from a cast iron cauldron with a wooden ladle into ceramic bowls before whisking the matcha tea and serving us. I was overcome with the feeling of beauty and intense presence.

The Japanese have a way of doing things – it is slow and measured, with everyday gestures being undertaken with reverence and intimacy. I frequently got goosebumps while traveling in Japan, like when watching someone gift wrap something for me in a shop or when sitting at the counter of a tiny restaurant and seeing my meal being prepared.

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Curated-Japan

But you’re still, and you’re bright and you’re quiet

Unwritable Girl, Gregory Alan Isakov

Japan is a truly incredible place that is both years ahead in some ways and centuries behind in other ways. It is also one of the most culturally fascinating and culinarily interesting countries to visit.

I fell in love with basically everything from the sakura cherry blossom, to onsen bathing, to the kindness and reverence of Japanese people, and the ‘what just happened in my mouth?’ food experiences. Think: yakitori, inari, sashimi, miso eggplant, ramen, soba, unagi, umeboshi, plum sake, mochi, bento, okonomiyaki, and green tea galore. Hungry yet?

Japan caters to everyone. If have a lot of money to spend, you can in Tokyo or Kyoto. If you want to eat street food that blows your mind but not your budget, you can in Fukuoka.

And then there’s the nature. It’s a little-known fact that 60% of Japan is made up of mountains all the way along the Northern ‘horse’s back’ when you look at a map. The untouched forests, majestic cliffsides, and lush tea fields are some of Japan’s best-kept secrets.

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At Least My Heart Was Open

Never more alone or more alive

Shasta, Mat Kearney

The concept of time baffles me. I cannot explain how seven years can feel like seven minutes and how three weeks feels more like three months have passed. I’m currently travelling around Japan by myself, a concept that baffles some people that I meet. The ask “Just you?”, wonder “Where are your friends?”, and want to know “Is your husband joining us?”. I don’t travel alone to make a point out of it. I simply want to have adventures and experiences that I cannot have at home, and at the moment that means doing it solo.

The inevitable highs and low of travel are amplified when you have no one to share them with. When you are travelling alone you get these intense moments of personal pride. Like navigating a complex subway system with no WiFi, and ordering a meal in a foreign language using hand gestures. It’s a chance to celebrate the things you did all on your own.

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Byron Bay Beach

Because our hearts don't beat the same as they did before

Oh My My, Garrett Kato

Byron Bay is the Bali of Australia. A cross between a small country town, beach getaway and wellness haven – Byron Bay has the magical combination of ocean air, understated glamour and laid-back hospitality.

It is the kind of place you’ll love the minute you arrive. Byron Bay should be renamed Byron Babe for the ridiculously good looking roam everywhere in this coastal New South Wales town, a 2-hour drive from Brisbane and 800kms from Sydney.

Locals rise early to catch the surf before work and retreat to bed early, while tourists are the ones out late at night. Synchronicity is ever-present in Byron Bay; I walked past an ordinary looking chalkboard that read ‘Gareth Kato – Tonight, 8pm’ being one of my favourite Canadian singer-songwriters playing a free gig at the local Byron Bay pub the day I arrived. For the gluten-free traveller, Byron Bay is a bounty of health elixirs, local produce and nourishing delicious food.

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digitaldopamine-1000x1000

And I know you wanted to for some time now

Into the Sun, Sons Of The East

If you eat an abundance bowl but don’t share it online, are you still #blessed?

I’ve been wanting to learn Vedic meditation for quite some time, and recently travelled to Byron Bay for a retreat with The Broad Place at The Atlantic. Initially, I was planning to only go phone-free for the four-day immersion, but then I decided to go offline for the following week to figure out what is real. A sort of ‘detox’ from digital dopamine.

Digital dopamine is a term I like to use to explain the feelings of reward and pleasure from constant online communication, Facebook likes, Instagram hearts and Twitter retweets. It’s that rush of satisfaction and self-worth we all know. But more and more, I/we are using social media to kill time and that is literally what it does – kills it.

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Flora & Fauna, Perth

I'll be dreamin' of the next time we can go into another seratonin overflow

Love On The Weekend, John Mayer

I’m the sort of diner chefs don’t like. Waitstaff consider me a nuisance, and friends flash apologetic eyes while I decipher menu acronyms at Da Vinci Code speed.

I’ve been called a lot of things: nightmare dinner guest, self-diagnosed poser, fake allergy sufferer, fad follower and a food snob. But my favourite one is ‘glutard’ [noun: gloo-tard] meaning someone who has an immune reaction to gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye), and will never be able to taste the latest dessert craze. From here on in, let’s call us the GFF (gluten free friend).

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Life Curator_Fervor Food

There’s two WA ingredients on the Noma Australia menu that you’ve never heard of.

Not keen to join 27,000 people on the waitlist at Noma’s pop-up restaurant in Sydney? Get your fix of a bucket list food experience in the West.

Chef Paul Iskov’s Fervor pop-up dinners use native ingredients and locally sourced produce to tell edible stories around Western Australia. Paul worked with Danish chef René Redzepi in 2012 at Noma, ranked four times San Pellegrino’s Best Restauraunt in the World, on a two month unpaid stage (an industry term for free labour) in Copenhagen. “I was going to Noma thinking what is all the hype about?” says Iskov. “I was picking the same herb for six hours around a table doing 16 to 18 hour days. I was lucky enough to do service and see the test kitchen, and they really are next level. At that time they were starting to play with lacto-fermentation, grasshopper gum, and the ants.”

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Curated Portland

Put them worries on the shelf, learn to love yourself

Hang Loose, Alabama Shakes

A city of bridges, bikes, porches with wooden swings, locavore corner stores, 600+ food carts, and the occasional angry vegan. If you take delight in ethically sourced coffee, sustainably caught seafood, hand foraged salads, vegan cheese delis and stone ground chocolate – you will certainly be enchanted by Portland.

Portland is (surprisingly) a relatively small place that is divided into four quarters – NE, NW, SE, SW – for ease of navigation. Hop on a bike to freely explore the food adventures that await you across the twelve bridges, but also make time to take in the natural beauty of Oregon’s main city. Walking around each neighbourhood is also a great way to spend an afternoon – look out for back alley blackberry bushes, overhanging fig trees and sidewalk plum shrubs.

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couchsurfing

Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there

This Must Be The Place, Talking Heads

You won’t find a 1886 medieval mansion with a greenhouse and butler’s quarters on Airbnb. It is unlikely your hostel will greet you with a cup of artisanal coffee and I have never heard of a concierge at a hotel taking you to a punk house show.

If you are craving a more engaging or adventurous accommodation experience (because it’s more than just a change of scenery, right?) embracing Couchsurfing is a way to travel cheaply and meet locals around the world. A travel community based on global altruism, Couchsurfing connects like-minded travellers on an online platform where ‘surfer’s request to stay with a local host in a city. Apparently there are more hosts on Couchsurfing than rooms at the Hiltons. But unlike taking the hotel or hostel route, it is accommodation at no cost.

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green tomatillo salsa verde

Just follow all the pretty lights, get lost till it feels right

Places You Will Go, Patrick Watson

On my travels in Chicago I couchsurfed with a music journalist who didn’t eat vegetables. “Not even sweet potato fries? How about snap peas? You must eat corn (chips)…” I enquired and was received with a flat out no. Determined to cook breakfast for my new friend and convert her to the kingdom of plants, I headed to a neighbourhood farmers market looking for a vegetable muse.

A peculiar looking green tomato called a ‘tomatillo’ jumped out at me. Having never see one before in Australia, I was excited to create a frittata (disguising vegetables with delicious eggs – works a treat) with a side of homemade green tomatillo salsa verde. Tomatillo’s are not tomatoes – they are cousins, and cannot be eaten raw. They must be roasted until soft to release their zingy and fresh flavours that make this salsa verde so endlessly spoonable (like ice cream good!).

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