Kitschy Christmas! (It’s baaaack!)

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Welcome back, a year later, to my Christmas craft gift. (Warming SPOILER ALERT!)

This year we focused again on ornaments.  And ornaments, and more ornaments.  Started right after Halloween because once we return to our family’s home for Christmas it won’t be about our gifts for others, it will all be about baking and decorating and Christmas music. (Who am I kidding I’m listening to it right now.  After making up a whole yoga class playlist of carols.  Sorry if you’re reading this and in my yoga class.  I did warn you with the spoiler alert!) And hey, don’t judge I am fully aware it’s a bit early.  Then again, we’re at the 6 week countdown…

I am so excited for Christmas.  This year both kids will “get” it: the presents, Santa, the anticipation.  And still believe in the magic.  Not sure how much longer the magic will last.  But we’ll hang onto it for as long as we can.  And have lots of memory-filled ornaments to hang on our tree, and Grandma’s tree and Oma’s tree, and the neighbour’s tree…you get the picture.

So bring in the cinnamon ornaments!  They are made of mostly cinnamon (insert shocked look here).

IMG_4789The recipe is one cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup applesauce (and mix…although nothing ever looks mixed properly in this recipe) Then slowly add 1/2 cup white craft glue.  Mix again.  And some more.  And nothing’s sticking together so you (or in this case, me) roll your sleeves up and get in there with your hands trying to mush that spice into the glue and applesauce.  Stick together darn it! And all of a sudden, just at the point you are about to throw it all away, it comes together.

IMG_4791Wait one hour, then roll out to 1/4″ thick and cut with cookie cutters (remember to use a straw to cut out the ribbon hole!).

IMG_4792Bake at 200F for one hour turning them halfway through. (I lined my baking sheet with parchment, because glue, ewww).  Oh and if your husband happens to be in the kitchen “helping” – Conveniently arriving to turn them over, remind him they are not cookies, they are ornaments.  They are NOT cookies. Seriously.  Our kitchen conversation went something like this:

“Stop! O-R-N-A-M-E-N-T-S! Not edible!  Seriously don’t put it in your mouth, there’s glue in there!! I’m not joking you can’t eat these ones!” (He always sneaks Christmas baking, or any baking prior to them being ready, or out for guests.) Sigh.  I bet this doesn’t happen in Martha Stewart’s kitchen.  She’s the one who invented these bad boys.  See her recipe site here. The pictures are way better.  And not nearly as realistic as the ones in my kitchen, with a 4 and a 2 year old.  And a hungry, cookie eating husband.  I didn’t take a picture of him.  Was waiting for the “sick” shot.  It never came.  Go figure, the one time he listens…

Then let them cool, and paint them.  And hang them on your tree!

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The Cat Came Back.

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Our neighbour’s cat went missing last week.  A very friendly marmalade cat whom everyone in the community loves.  It was sad.  It was very sad for me, because he is the reason I don’t need to get a cat for the kids.  He is in our backyard.  He is in our home.  He loves to be cuddled by small gentle hands. Curls up on our couch when the door is left open (or scares the crap out of my husband by rubbing against his feet while he’s working…we don’t have any animals so when my husband is working and something silently starts brushing up against his toes he jumps.  A lot.)  And the best part is, we get to enjoy him without ever having to clean a litter box or pay a vet fee.

The cat was gone for almost a whole week.  And then, right before my neighbour’s birthday someone who had taken in the friendly “lost” cat saw the missing poster and returned him home.  Such a happy story.  Which reminded me of our story, when our cat went missing:

She was also a marmalade cat.  A little spunky girl whose name suited her: Shiraz.  And we loved her. (Did not love the litter box, or hair, or vet bills…but that’s beside the point)  We went away on vacation with someone coming in twice a day to cat-sit (or feed rather).  And when we got back, she was gone.  So we did what all good-people-who-love-their-pet do: we put up posters.

The first phone call was at 10pm at night from up the road, at a fast food place with an outdoor service window (which had our poster in it.)  A man had seen our cat!  And on his cell phone he told us where she was.  Huddled under a car in the parking lot.  Oh, wait what colour was she?  Because it was dark and he couldn’t see.  We held the line as he fumbled for a flashlight.  And then.  Low and behold!  A black cat.

Sigh.

The next was a voicemail.  A woman saying she found her!  Only her collar was green, not black with ID tags as we had left her with.  And then, despite us returning the call (repeatedly) no further response or contact.

Weird.

Did I mention at the time we lived on a tropical island with a large feral cat population?  One island on which a do-gooding organization set up cat feeding stations with actual cat food. (Granted they also trapped and spayed/neutred the cats and re-released them into the ‘wild’.  Guess it did help control the mice/rat population…) Anyways we sort of figured this is where our cat ended up.  Figuring out she could live just fine without us. And still get her fix of kitty food.

And then we got the last phone call.  A lady.  A very kind lady.  Who described our cat to a tee.  Down to the little black collar (ID tags lost).  We got VERY excited.  We made plans to come up to where she was (an area not too far away) to pick up our little ball of love.  And right before we hung up the phone she asked:  “How many legs does your cat have?”

Crazy.  There is a whole lot of crazy in this world.  And it is enough to make me laugh (and cry somedays).  But without it, life would be boring.  Because who would put up a lost cat poster and not mention if their cat was missing a leg?  And who would call people to say they had found a cat, well a mostly-whole cat, when the picture in the lost poster clearly indicated our cat was whole?  The lost limb was not a fresh injury.  This lady was crazy.  (But in a do-gooder type way.)  And now I can smile at all the good memories of our cat, and the crazy story of her being lost.  Likely in a forest, being well fed.

Speaking of being well fed.  Now a days we certainly are.  Tried a new recipe I will share with you.  It. Is. Amazing!

Shiitake Mushroom and Smoked Tofu Dumplings

And also a weekend project.  When you have an hour to do nothing but seal dumplings together.  But trust me, totally worth the effort.  AND better still, you can freeze them and prolong the food-love.

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First the making and draining of the filling: cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, smoked tofu and so much goodness.

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Then the putting of said filling into tiny little wrappers.  It’s like Christmas over here I swear!  Only the little presents are edible.

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Then the actual eating of said dumplings.  Unless you are my children.  In which case you unwrap them first.  For full mess effect.  Either way it was a whole lot of yum, with kale chips and wild rice on the side.  I highly recommend you give this a go.  Even if it means inviting yourself over to my place for dinner so I can pull some out of the freezer for you.

Happy week!

By the way, I have a big surprise in the works for December.  Something I’ve been working on all this month.  Can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet. (Sorry bad joke.)  Stay tuned!

And as always with my posts: if you like it, share it (or like it!) and if you don’t, don’t.

 

 

Happy Birthday.

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The day I was born.  TODAY!! Can you feel my excitement?

Although it feels like I should be celebrating my Mom and Dad instead, since you know, THEY did all the work 🙂

What a Happy Birthday so far!  Can’t wait for all the rest that comes.

IMG_4397Started out by walking around Greenlake, because the day was beautiful and gorgeous and sunshine-y and warm.  And the kids were perfect.  Even when the little guy was crying because he just didn’t know whether he wanted a snack in the stroller or to continue scooting…perfect because he was acting exactly like a 2 year old should.  And it was wonderful.

Saw 4 Herons.  Four!!!  And one was saluting the sun.  Taking in life.

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BIG smile on my face.

Got to celebrate with a fancy date night with my love (see the picture – I even got a cupcake, in a cupcake shop!! My favourite kinda fancy.)  With my favourite still-makes-me-smile date.

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IMG_4386And then in the morning before he left for a week on business, he and the kids got up and decorated (AND let me sleep in.)

BAM: Birthday Table!

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This has been a tradition since I was a little girl.  One that I have carried with me my entire life.  My grandmother started it, followed by my mom and now I do it for my kids (and they do it for me…with a little help)  The idea is you wake up to a table: of all your cards and presents and a few of your favourite treats to start the day right.

Even though it wasn’t exactly on my birthday (it all went down yesterday) The balloons and streamers were still up this morning when the kids woke me up.  And I got snuggles in bed.  And it was perfect.  (Is there any other way to have a birthday?  Or any day?)  Even got a candle in my oatmeal.  Yes, my husband rocks (he had to leave to catch a plane an hour later).

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So I’m signing off now.  The kids are playing nicely and I think I’ll join them.  I believe a cake has just been pulled out of their oven for me.  With pink icing even (I am told.)

Perfect.

Love.

Happy happy happy.

I love birthdays.

How To Be Healthy. In A Nutshell. (Without The Nuts, Someone Might Be Allergic.)

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First off, drink milk so your bones grow strong.  But not too much, saturated fat is bad for you. Eat fish, the omega 3s are great for your brain development.  Not actual fish though, they have high levels of mercury and heavy metal poisoning.  And don’t drink homogenized milk as it has been linked to heart disease.

Dairy leads to juvenile diabetes.  Don’t eat dairy. Yogurt should be consumed everyday for the positive effects of probiotics on the gut.  However any yogurt you buy will likely contain refined sugars or sweeteners.  Do NOT eat refined sugar or sweeteners, they lead to tooth decay and diabetes.

IMG_2195Live in moderation so you don’t end up teaching your kids that all sugar is bad.  Otherwise they will go crazy in their teenage years and only eat sugar.  Eat sugar.  And only eat homemade things as they are healthier than eating out.

Do not eat baking.  It is filled with refined sugars and flour and fat.  And eggs.  But eggs are okay, they are a good source of protein and B12.  Do not eat eggs that you can buy in a store, the chickens were likely abused.  Do not eat eggs you buy.

Do not eat meat.  Meat and animal products have been linked to cancer.  Meat also contains saturated fat.  Saturated fat is bad.  Do not eat saturated fats.  Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

Eat coconut oil.  Rub it on your skin. Use it for oil pulling. Clean your house with it. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature.

Make sure you get enough iron and protein in your diet.  Eat meat and nuts.  Nut butters are especially good.  Not in public, someone might be allergic.  Nuts often contain alfatoxin.  Alflatoxin stimulates cancer growth. Do not ingest alflatoxin.

Don’t ingest anything that hasn’t been produced locally (to help save the environment.)  Make sure you get enough colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet, especially in the middle of winter.

IMG_3267Juice veggies in order to meet your daily quota (goodness know getting enough in can be hard some days.) Blend up a green smoothie as well.  Drink your vitamins!

Don’t drink juice, it lacks the fibre.  Without the fibre, the carbohydrates are more readily available for your system to ingest causing a glucose spike.  Glucoses spike cause strain on the system and may result in diabetes and obesity.  Use common sense. Don’t “drink” more than what you would actually eat in a sitting (i.e. 2 bananas, 3 apples, a head of kale and tablespoon of ginger).

Only eat raw food as it is closest to the source and the most natural form.

Vitamins may not be readily available unless you steam or gently cook foods like vegetables.  Cook all your food.  Add coconut oil to the cooking process, as some of the vitamins are only fat soluble.

You should get enough vitamins and minerals in the food you eat, as long as you eat a varied diet, full of all the colours of the rainbow.  Most supplements don’t contain what they say they do, as they are not regulated by any government or regulatory body.

Take vitamin D as you are likely deficient.  And B12.  Also take a multivitamin just to cover your bases.  If you are iron deficient add iron.  And if you are taking iron you should take supplemental vitamin C to ensure iron absorption.  If pregnant you should also take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects.

Exercise regularly.  But do not run.  Running causes strain on the joints and there won’t be enough osteopaths around for the knee replacements required later on.  And do not walk as it doesn’t elevate your heart rate enough for cardiovascular activity.

IMG_3807Only engage in non-linear physical activities.  Linear physical activities like running, walking, biking and elliptical trainers only provide one directional movement for your body.  Swimming could cause death by drowning, especially if you eat food (eating food could cause you to cramp up and die/drown.) So don’t swim either. Or eat.

Sitting is the new smoking so don’t do that either.  Oh and don’t smoke.  Or drink.  Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to obesity and dependance.

IMG_3900A glass of wine once a day is recommended and healthy for your heart.  It also provides you with antioxidants.  Also you should eat berries, they are high in antioxidants too.

Do not eat anything that isn’t organic.  Especially non-organic berries.  The pesticides will be harmful to you, like they are to the bugs they kill.

Organic farming isn’t sustainable for the whole world.  It is costly and not as effective as traditional farming methods.  We could not feed the world if produce was organically farmed.  Do not buy organic.

Meditation has been shown to decrease cortisol levels and improve physical and mental health.  Close your eyes and sit down to meditate at least once a day for 20 minutes.

Lastly: attack life, it’s going to kill you anyway.

 

If you like it, share it.  If you don’t, don’t.

 

 

True Story. The missing piece.

 

 

I got to my hot yoga class and set up my mat on the wonderful, radiantly warmed floor as usual.  Then proceeded to go to the back corner to get my block and strap.  Dodging all the cute university girls and hippi bearded guy before returning to the 2″x7″ long place I would call my own for the next 75mins.  I sat down in my usual virasana pose. In 95F degree heat.  And began to slow my breathing.

Many women were already stretching and posing.  Posturing even perhaps, for the shirtless frat guy who was already sweating in the warmth. Maybe they were just warming up in anticipation of the upcoming gruelling asanas that would get all our butts into shape and knock our egos back into reality.  Or maybe they were testing the weak points of newly purchased yoga clothes to ensure full coverage during twisty, bendy pretzel manoeuvres that we could practice inversions from.  Either way, the room was filled with this intense energy to go, and this feeling of silent calm that whatever road we went on, we were in it together, all 16 of us, for the next 75min.

I closed my eyes and just focused on stillness, silence.  Breathing in deeply, loving the moment.  Someone new came into the room and I opened my eyes.  Not the instructor yet.  But before returning to my inner bliss, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the top of my mat.  My strap sat there all alone.  Where was my block?  I put it there specifically, just like I always do.

I turned to the girl on my right and she had a block.  Had she swiped mine while my eyes were closed?  Seriously, whoever was too much of a lazy ass to get up and walk to the back of the room to get their own damn block was going to hear from me.

I turned to my left and although frat boy didn’t have one, with the amount of sweating he was doing I thought he probably could use one.  After all, if you already look fluish before class has even started, there is no way you can expect to hold any poses without major support. I don’t care how big your muscles are.

Two mats over that girl has a block.  Her in the hot pink sports bra and tie dye pants.  And she was upside down in headstand.  Showoff.  I mean seriously who does that shit before class starts?  Bet she thinks she’s better than the rest of us and has the need to demonstrate, in case the opportunity doesn’t arise during the actual yoga class.  Bet she stole my block too.  Besides if she thinks she’s that much better than me, then taking my block while my eyes are closed probably isn’t a stretch.

Or maybe its the guy two rows up who stole it.  He looks new and anxious.  Or the girl beside him.  My eyes scan the room and find thieves on every mat.

I shift on my mat.  Glaring at everyone around me.  Where is the thief?  And who would be so brazen and rude as to swipe another person’s block?  The room feels hot and small.  I feel angry and my breathing is fast.

Then I feel it.  My block is beneath me.  In virasana for extended periods the block takes the strain off the knees, hence why I put it there because I was 10min early.  I laugh at myself.  The utter silliness.  The anger melts away.  The girl next to me catches my eye and smiles as she reaches for her water.  I can see frat boy using his towel to mop off the sweat from his brow.  His well used, obviously aged-from-many-yoga-classes, towel.  And the girl two mats down comes out of headstand and settles into a seated pace on her mat.  I am back in the same room as I started.  Warm, inviting and energizing.

And I realize the only thing I have to work on today is my own mind.

Oh yoga, if there isn’t something new I get from it every time.  Even before the class has started.

In and Out.

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One thing that has struck me lately is how good it feels to move.  All movements in life.  It started with a run last week, where it felt amazing to be able to breath.

Stop and breath.  Or hold your breath until your face goes red (betcha haven’t done that since being a kid!) Then the rush as the oxygen explodes into your lungs and the red blood cells pick it up and transport it across your body.  Absolutely amazing.  And to think we carry this through with us the entire time we are living beings.  Conscious or not.  But adding consciousness to it takes it to a whole new level.  It takes everything and brings it into this moment.  I’ve never thought about it that way until now.  Even though that is how I’ve gotten through Every. Single. Hard. Part. of my life.

Seriously.  Every. Single. One.

The moment I was being robbed at knifepoint and tied with duct tape…focused on trying to slow my breathing (so I could breath…I think I was likely hyperventilating at the time.)

The panic attack underwater during SCUBA training.  No mask on, unable to see.  Breathing.  Once I realized I was still breathing, I could concentrate.  In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.  The only thing that mattered.

Labouring.  Or rather contractions.  Breathing through every single one.  It didn’t take the pain away, but focusing on the breath can seriously get you through anything.

CPR and NRP (neonatal resuscitation) training as a nurse. More breathing. And then putting those into practice in real life while on my honeymoon – I’m not sure who you breath more for after having been through it; yourself or the person you are trying to help.

And in yoga class.  When this last Sunday the entire class got through a 2 minute plank, just with breathing.  Focused effort on the breath.

It is everything.  Be in your moment.  Feel your breath.

You can get through anything.

You can do anything.

Start with breathing.

In and Out.

 

 

 

Melt My Heart.

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I had to write about just how good our pizza was tonight.

It was so good, I think my heart melted a little with the cheese inside the oven. (Cheesy, I know…oh c’mon laugh along with me!)

So here are my mushroom pita pizzas, and an impromptu margarita pizza…it just happened, almost by itself!

It all started out with some amazing fresh pitas that we can only find at a local fruit and vegetable stand near our house.  They are extra big, and perfect for pizzas!  Fresh herbs, tomatoes, mushrooms.  Shitake, oyster, portabella, baby bella – how I love mushrooms!

IMG_1896The a light layer of olive oil on the two mushroom pizzas, and a layer of pesto on the margarita.

Melting a pad of butter, adding a shallot and a whole lot of mixed mushrooms to the pan, smells started to waft through the house.

The fresh herbs, oregano (for the mushroom) and basil (margarita).  Oh how I love fresh herbs!

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First the layer of mozza cheese, then the “meat” of each pizza.  Mushroom pizza mixed with fresh oregano and margarita layered between red, ripe tomatoes and fresh, green basil.  And finally parmesan to top it off.

IMG_1902Drizzle each of the mushroom pizzas with truffle oil.  Liquid gold on pizza.

Voila! Dinner!

So good!

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28. Plug

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

Today’s tip is a shamless plug.  It is a tool I have used in my life to generate increased happiness, wellbeing and peace.  Better yet: it’s free!!  The downside is this: it is like exercise or meditation, you have to use it in order to get any benefit.  All you need is a piece of paper and a pen and the ability to read and follow simple instructions!

Susan has devoted the past many years of her life to honing this skill and sharing it with others.  I’ll let her site explain:

It is just one of those many things we have available to us to increase your quality of life, and health.

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

25. Fake it

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

Today’s tip is simple.  If you woke up and aren’t feeling great – try faking it!  Yes you heard correctly.  And although I am very much about being honest and true to yourself; sometimes getting back to feeling like the optimistic go-getter I usually am, just requires a little persuasion.

Music – put it on, play it loud.  Your favourite ‘pick me up’ tunes.  Forget the stuff that makes you more angry or more upset (there’s a time and place and this isn’t it…music can be a great way to help process emotions…go for happy energy here.)

Facial expression – just smile.  The neuro pathways in your brain equate this to your good days.  So spark up the fire from all fronts. (Besides wasn’t there a rumour a long time ago that it takes less facial muscles to smile than to frown?)

Act on it – Go through the motions of a good day.  Get out of bed, have a shower, dance to your tunes.  No moping here.

Grab a good buddy – someone who is willing and able to help lift those spirits.  You know who they are.  Seek them out and get them onboard.

This is just a tip for those one or two ‘off’ days that you don’t find yourself, well yourself.  It is not intended to treat more sinister conditions, like the flu or depression.  There are many times where faking it just isn’t appropriate (like in bed.)  Use your own discretion.  And get happy!

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days