Monday, January 31, 2011

Pick up where you left off friendships

I've mentioned before that I lived in London for a long while and in Switzerland for a short while and that I worked at Pax Lodge and Our Chalet during that time.

Working at World Centre means that on a fairly regularly basis I said goodbye to some of the women I lived and worked with and hello to some new ones. And by fairly regularly, I mean at least once a month there was a staff changeover of between one and four people.

Now, these women were usually in three to six month volunteer positions, but long(er) term staff changed as well. We all lived, worked, slept, and ate in the same building. Because most of us weren't from London, we became travelling and site seeing companions and by default we often ended up as friends.

There are many women who were part of my experiences at Pax Lodge and Our Chalet that I still consider very good friends. And some of them are so very different from me and have such different lives than me that I can't imagine we would have necessarily met, let alone become friends, if it weren't for our common World Centre experience.

ANYWAY...all that rambling is because yesterday we hopped in the car after J had gymnastics to have lunch at the airport.

Yes. At the airport.

Actually at the Fairmont. Which is a lovely place to have lunch if you have a few dollars burning a whole in your pocket and you have three hours. We had a great time. For the second time in two weeks.

We met my friend Heather and her friend Maia at the arrivals area and trekked across the airport. Heather and I worked together at Pax Lodge and Maia currently works at Pax Lodge. And Heather worked there until last year.

And even though it's been about 15 months since I saw Heather, and even though we've been bad about keeping in touch because some of us had crazy things happen with our jobs and some of us got new jobs and some of us went travelling in Africa and some of us have two year olds and a husband, well we just picked up where we left off 15 months ago. The only differences were the addition of Maia, who fit right in, and J is now a walking, talking small person, not a baby. And when we saw Heather 15 months ago, well, we picked up where we had left off 20 months before that.

And I love friendship like that.

I need friendships like that. Because if you check out Heddy's blog, you'll see that I'm a bit of a hermit these days and being able to dive right it like no time has passed is important.


Sorry, no pictures. We were enjoying the company too much!

PS Hi to all my pick-up-where-we-left off friends...I know there are a few of you read my ramblings! Hope we can pick up where left off sometime soon!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flavoured yogurt

36.21 Try 50 new recipes

So I didn't actually use a recipe to make this, but I'm counting it anyway since I've never made it before.

J loves yogurt, especially flavoured yogurt. She'd eat it all day if I let her. But the amount of sugar bugged me. A lot. Some brands are better than others - they use sugar not corn syrup, but I still wasn't happy. And I wasn't sure what to do about it.

Hello? Shannon? Make it yourself.

Oh yeah. That's a good idea....

J was very excited to help - it's fun to dump things into the blender and press the buttons...although, note to self, ALWAYS plug the blender in AFTER putting the lid on. And ALWAYS unplug the blender BEFORE taking the lid off. We didn't have a yogurt-covered-ceiling disaster, but I certainly saw the potential for that!

fruit to make yogurt

We used a good quality plain yogurt - just milk, cream and bacterial cultures. We added 1/2 tsp of vanilla, 1 banana and about 2 cups of frozen fruit (a mix of peaches, mangoes, and strawberries). We added a drizzle of honey and then J pressed the crush ice button.

Yummy! She's so proud of herself...telling me over and over that she made yogurt last night.

fruity yogurt
It's so good! And not too sweet. I think next time I'd strain the yogurt first and maybe add one more banana and probably skip the vanilla...or at least reduce it. One 750g carton of yogurt made about 1250g of yogurt (otherwise known as one container of plain yogurt made one and two thirds containers of flavoured yogurt)

Blueberry and raspberry are our next experiments.

Black Bean Hummus

36.20 Try 50 new recipes

One of the things I miss the most right now is hummus. No chick peas on the GAPS diet.

So I went on a search for something that could be a substitute.

And I found a million recipes for black bean hummus. But the one on the Globe and Mail site was the one that caught my taste buds.

black bean hummus
It is good...not quite a perfect substitute, but it will do. I think when I make it again, I'd take out the red pepper flakes and add some cumin.

Three Bean Lentil Soup

36.19 Try 50 new recipes

We finally got the slow cooker fixed. And that meant we needed to use it. I have the Canadian Living Slow Cooker cookbook and I've made a few recipes from it. I decided to try something new - something that was pretty much GAPS friendly - and that I could leave on for 8-9 hours on low. I decided on Three Bean Lentil Soup.

three bean lentil soup
It was so good. J liked it. Alex loved it (and he "doesn't like" curry). It was yummy and warm and could cook forever. And it makes tons. Which I somehow forgot. Because I made it again a week later even though I had a good two days worth of leftovers in the freezer. No worries though. It will get eaten!

The homemade LÄRABAR

36.18 Try 50 new recipes

So, I'm a bit late to the LÄRABAR party...I didn't realize they were available this side of the border until I happened upon them in Choices before Christmas.

This is one of my favourite flavours. Yummy lime!

But at close to $2 a pop, these are expensive. But they're a great snack that is GAPS friendly. And it's hard to find GAPS friendly snacks. I figured there must be some way to duplicate the yumminess without the cost. I did some searching and found a bunch of blogs with recipes. I settled on this one and settled on the Almond-Apricot variation.

I toasted my almonds and then got out the mini food processor.

take these

dried fruit
This is the smushed up fruit...

Smushed up fruit with almonds on top.

ready to shape
The goodness all kneaded together and ready to shape into bars.

finished product
Soooo good! I doubled the recipe and they lasted for a few days in the fridge. I'll be making these again for sure! I think if I made almond-apricot again, I'd decrease the almonds a bit and add more dates. But that's just me.

This weekend I'm going to try to replicate the lime bar....yummy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moroccan Chicken

36.17 Try 50 new recipes

moroccan chicken
I think this might be a Bonnie Stern recipe, but I'm not sure. It's in my recipe book - which means it's hand written and doesn't have a was yummy...

next day salad
And even better for lunch the next day! This one I will definitely make again (I'm not sure how it got into my book - that space is usually reserved for things I've made and I know I'll make again...oh well...)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Christmas giving

or 90. Sponsor a family at Christmas

My sisters and I decided that this year instead of buying gifts for our parents we would sponsor a family instead. For a number of years my mom has been talking about an article she gave us that came from The Globe and Mail or Macleans or something about a couple who asked their grown children to do something for someone else instead of buying them gifts at Christmas. On Christmas morning they received a letter from each of their kids explaining what they did.

I told Alex what we were doing and we decided that we would do the same for his parents, which meant we were able to spend more to help the family that we were paired with. We also decided that instead of spending money on gifts for some of our friends, we'd use it for this family (and they all thought that was a great gift...none of them felt like they were missing out on more stuff)

We were paired with a single mom with a daughter the same age as J. We had requested a family with a child close to J's age so that we could explain to her what we were doing and maybe she'd understand better the importance if the child was her age.

I spoke to the mom before we did any shopping and I was blown away by her greatfulness for our help and at that point all she'd received from us was a phone call. We wanted to make sure there was a gift for her too and when I asked her if there was anything she needed or wanted, she told me no, that her daughter needed to be taken care of first. I haven't been in her situation, but I understand looking after your child before yourself. I would immediately give up whatever I had to if it meant J was warm and fed and dressed. She did eventually say that a $5 or $10 gift certificate to one of two stores would be wonderful. We ended up getting her a larger gift certificate from one of the stores and some pampering stuff.

Rebecca picked up a gift for the little girl from the store where she works and J had a great time helping me choose pjs and slippers for the little girl. She was a bit perplexed about why the little girl needed pjs. After a discussion about how not everybody is as lucky as we are and sometimes it is very hard for mommies and daddies to buy new things for their kids, she had a better grasp of the whole thing - she told me "I a little bit sad that little girl no be lucky like me."

The day we dropped the things off, the four of us spent the morning at the grocery store choosing all of the groceries. We were paired with our family through the Salvation Army and they provide a list of suggested groceries, which was certainly helpful. J knew where we were going and helped carry a bag into the house. The little girl was napping when we got there and J was a bit upset she didn't get to take her coat off and play a little bit.

As we left, the mom gave us a card, thanking us for everything. We sat in the car before we left, recovering from the emotional impact the morning had on us. It was very overwhelming and when we walked into the suite, we were all moved...

Christmas day we gave the card from the family to my parents and they were thrilled that we had decided to help a family in need as our gift to them. My dad told us it was the best gift he'd ever received.

And you know, while it was a gift that we gave, it was probably also one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received. I was reminded of the simple things, the gratitude the family expressed was genuine and huge, and we gave my parents something meaningful.

This is definitely something we'll be doing again.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Decluttering is progressing very well, although so far it is kind of hard to see the results. Alex got rid of two boxes from the storage room on Sunday night and I think we only kept two things. Total. From two full-sized bankers' boxes.

Before you read on, I'm not keeping any secrets from you guys about moving. We're not moving. Just to be clear. Okay. And this does relate to decluttering. I'm just a bit longwinded (like you didn't know that...)

I don't know where it came from but for the last week I've been daydreaming. About moving. About moving far away. Moving far away to a foreign country. But only for a few years. Like maybe three. So we'd get the feel of the place. But then we could come home. Because I'm all about home.

In my daydream we'd have to leave pretty much everything behind. And each take two suitcases. Eeeep. Two suitcases multiplied by a family of three equals six. That's it. Except really it's eight. Because somehow Alex gets a great job and has to go over before us so I go with him for a week to find somewhere to live and make it inhabitable and then I come home and deal with the loose ends here before J and I head over to wherever our new home is.

So, as I've been doing normal house stuff, like cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, picking up eighty million toys twenty four times a day, I've been evaluating our stuff - would I keep this? Would I store it? Would I pack it?

If we were coming back there's lots we would store - furniture, books, kitchen stuff - and lots we would give away, toss, or donate - clothing, toys, books (yes, it goes both places), things - but there's not a whole lot we'd take.

I'm having a great time furnishing our new "home" in my head. I figure I'd get most of my stuff there, but on a much smaller scale than here. Because really, I could survive with just a blender. don't *need* an immersion blender, a full sized food processor, and a mini food processor as well (just for the record, I do use all of them). We could get by with fewer things like sheets and towels, we'd just have to do more laundry.

And because I've been home, feeling sorry for myself, with a sore throat, I've been browsing rentals and properties for sale all over Europe. And you know what, I might complain sometimes that we don't have much space, but we have two bathrooms. And a dryer. And a dishwasher. And 950 square feet. Some of the places I've been browsing have, oh, 800 square feet and THREE or FOUR bedrooms. And cost six times as much as our place. Although, if I look at more rural properties or in larger cities that are not London or Paris (hello suburbs of Manchester) we could potentially (based on similar lending laws and salaries) purchase a large home.

I'm having fun thinking about how to scale down and how I'd decorate a clean slate like that...and it's actually motivated me to get rid of more things that I would have. Besides a tidy, well organized house with minimal clutter, my goal, one day (likely years from now), is to only have Christmas decorations, baby stuff, and one set of tires in our storage room. And maybe all those boxes for small appliances that we haven't tossed yet because they make moving so much easier. We don't need them. And if we needed space for something more important they could go, but the coffee pot and the slow cooker and the food processor all fit so well in their own boxes and that made our last two moves so much better....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

25. Stick to our budget for Christmas gifts

We did it...I'm pretty sure that all of our Christmas bills have come in (there might be one more, but it's small) and we're under budget. About 10%. I'm not entirely sure of the breakdown, but I might go through and take a look at specifics. Maybe.

A few years ago we decided that we needed a special account just for Christmas. We contribute a set amount to the account every month. It's nice to have a decent sum of cash to spend at Christmas without worrying about where it's coming from. It's also nice to be able to buy gifts in the summer and have the money sitting there ready to be spent.

We use the money in that account for everything - gifts, stamps, postage for parcels, extra or special food for baking or cooking or parties, special events we go to, everything. We didn't actually do any Christmas stuff that cost money this year, but other years we went on the Stanley Park train or to special Christmas performances.

We made some changes to what we did this year and we're going to keep most of them for next year I think. We didn't buy much for J - she got a Raffi DVD from us (but she doesn't know it didn't arrive in time for Christmas, so I'm holding on to it until we NEED it!) and a book. Santa brought her a few small things and some play dough. And that was it...from us...she certainly received many nice things from everyone else!

We bought each other things that we had each asked for - not anything crazy or big or expensive. My family asked for a list and we tried to put things on the list that we needed or that didn't take up much space. We got some great gifts from them - including tickets to the movies and a circus show (awesome at not taking up space!) and we got an Aquarium membership.

We gave gifts that we bought. We gave gifts that we made. We gave Alex's grandma coupons for meals with us - the idea was that we'd take dinner to her house and have a visit with her and then leave her some containers of leftovers for her fridge/freezer. We sponsored a family (more on that in another post) as a gift for my parents and Alex's parents and some of our friends. We tried to buy gifts that were on lists or that were consumable (food, special soap, gift cards).

And in the end, we stuck to our budget.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Deliciousness in a pan

36.16 Try 50 new recipes - Mars Bar Squares

or so I hear...

I made these yummy bars that Melynda blogged about for the ladies who sit on the same committee as me. They said they were delicious (I can't wait for the GAPS diet to be done so I can sample some of those things...)

mars bar squares

The ladies were happy I only put four bars in each package...they figured that was more than enough yummy goodness for them for two days (our meeting was all weekend)

Bread without grains

36.15 Try 50 new recipes

The GAPS diet has forced me to try some new things...I've almond bread twice. There's no grains in this - the flour is almond flour.

The first time it looked horrible and it didn't taste great. There was an overwhelming scrambled egg taste to it.

almond bread

It took almost twice as long to bake as the recipe suggested. (It looks so horrible because I thought it was done and it wasn't so it formed a weird crust because I tried to pry it out of the one Shannon)

The second time I made it, I substituted about 1/4 cup of apple sauce for one of the eggs and added some cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg. I used the ratio from some spice cookies. I'd double the spices if I made it again. The second time this was a nice, sweeter bread. I'd love to try it with applesauce again and use some savory spices. I let it cook longer the second time too and it was much better.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Run, run as fast as you can... can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man.

31. Make gingerbread with J at Christmas

Before we went away, we mixed up some gingerbread. I thought we'd bake it before we left, but life got away from us...

excited to start
I ended up sticking it in the freezer and taking it away with us...

and discovered that my mom also had a batch in the fridge (that made three batches because I had to double mine because I wasn't paying attention when I put the butter in)

more concentrating
So, J and I decided to get baking...

ready to bake
It was great to have a low surface for J to work at. Can you tell which one J cut?

ready to bake
J had a great time...and because she's used to playing with play dough, she didn't try to eat the dough...

look what i made
She made up for it when they were done though. I think she only had little gingerbread men and stars for lunch that day!

gingerbread man
So proud of herself! And so much fun! What a great way to spend the morning!

Toddler teeth strike again

When I picked J up yesterday, the daycare teacher who was closest to her kept motioning to me to look at her shoulder. I was very confused. She was covered in marker ink from when she was drawing and I thought she was showing me more markers, except, there was nothing there.

Then she she mouthed "the bite."


This daycare is excellent at making sure parents have a heads up whenever something happens. And I was at my desk all afternoon and neither my desk phone nor my cell phone had rung without me answering it...


Then the teacher who was going to call me came over and apologized for not getting to me before I left the office.

I braced myself for a repeat of the last few times there has been a daycare incident. J talked and talked and talked about it. J's behaviour took a dramatic turn for the worse. J wouldn't go to bed and when she finally did, she slept horribly.

But this time turned out to be completely different!

J didn't even mention it to me when I got to daycare. She didn't mention it to Alex when we got home. She mentioned only once before bed time. She was a little more cuddly than usual, but we had a very pleasant night and she even put her toys away in her bedroom without me asking her to. She talked to herself for a long time before falling asleep, but there was not much calling for mommy and she didn't wake up once last night...

Why the differences? Well, it turned out not to be daycare-kid, but another child who got frustrated. Yeah, J got bitten and yeah, it left a mark (again through three layers of clothing), but they talked it out and it was all good.

I didn't know who the culprit was this time. When this was happening in the fall, I would walk in and J would starting yelling, "Mommy, daycare-kid hit/bit/pinched me." But not this time. I did find out who it was though as the other child's parents arrived just as I was done talking to the teacher.

Unlike the first time, this time both parents (because they both happened to be there for pick up) came and apologized to me and to J. They asked their child to apologize to J again and told us they'd be talking about it tonight. When we got in the car, J told me, "It's okay Mommy, insert name here is still my friend."

Totally opposite to the first time and the other child. But now, while I don't like it to happen, I know it's going to happen, so I try not to let it bother me. I said that to the other mom and she agreed with me but she said it still makes her feel horrible that her kid is the one who did the biting. I totally get that. If J was biting I'd be upset too. This was a one time thing I think. This child has amazing vocabulary and I think it was just a case of too much frustration for a 2 1/2 year old to handle!

Oh J's daycare, I love you! I'm so happy my kid gets to go somewhere safe, where the teachers care so much...

Mommy, there is snow!

28. Make snow angels with J

J was enthralled by the snow at my parents' house. My dad had sent J a couple of pictures of the snow man he made a few days before we arrived and she was looking forward to playing in the snow.

angel making
The snow was gross when we got there. It had been really cold and it had snowed so there was crunchy, crystally, hard powder on top of crunchy, frozen solid hard snow. Not much fun for playing in. But she had a great time running around the yard.
angel making
On Christmas Eve, J decided it was time to make a snow angel. She was pretty cute, lying on her back, flapping her arms and the air!

angel making
But we eventually got the technique sorted out.

angel making
Then for a few days whenever we went outside she wanted to make a snow angel...even when we were on our way to the car...


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Annual Let's-Get-Ready-for-Christmas Christmas Party

And with this party I got to cross off #62: Host a Christmas party and one more recipe (36.14: Try 50 new recipes). I did not get to cross off #11: Mail Christmas cards before December 24th

I did it...

I didn't think I'd get to it this year, but it happened. As always it was a girls' night the last Saturday in November and the idea was that everyone would bring their unfinished projects for the holidays (cards, gifts, decorations, whatever) and we'd work on our projects and hopefully get something done before crazy December arrived.


We had a great time and had lots to eat, but there was no work done.

And that's okay. Because we had a great time and had lots to eat (yes, I repeated that on purpose)

It was a bit of a challenge for me because it ended up being the first or second evil weekend of the GAPS diet, so I couldn't eat a lot of the yummy things that were spread out on our table.

Like this yummy looking hummus that I made. Apparently I took no pictures that night...this is the next day...I didn't even take pictures of the pretty food table with yummy goodies and a pretty Christmas table cloth...

Yes, another Martha Stewart recipe...and it was apparently yummy. I just got to smell it. I did substitute almost a whole head of roasted garlic for the two cloves, but it wasn't overpowering. Oh end of the GAPS diet, I am looking forward to you so that I can once again indulge in things like hummus!

And my cards didn't get done. TECHNICALLY I could cross it off the list because Alex mailed a batch for me before we went away and no where does it say ALL my Christmas cards, but I know my intent was all. So I'm not crossing it off.

Next year. Good thing there are three Decembers in this challenge! If it doesn't happen in 2011, then there's always 2012!

A very late birthday post

In which a few pictures are displayed. And I get two recipes closer to completing 101 in 1001 challenge 36.12 and 36.13: Try 50 new recipes

So, a couple of months ago it was my dad's birthday.

He came to Vancouver to see us J (my mom came too).

important graham cracker conversation
We invited my cousin and her family over for dinner.

J loved baby C.

j and c
She took her clothes off and read/sang C Baby Beluga.

baby beluga concert
I made cake.

happy birthday bop
Martha Stewart's Versatile Vanilla Cake to be exact. good! My mom used to make us a white cake from the Purity Cookbook and it was scrumptious. Well, this one came close. My mom actually thought it was that recipe. But it wasn't. Because that one had shortening in it. This one has butter and a heck of a lot of eggs.

dad's birthday cake
Sooooooooo good!

And the icing was Billy's Chocolate Buttercream, another Martha Stewart recipe. It was soooooo good. I remembered that icing can be frozen, so I froze half of the icing because, holy crap, I generously filled and iced a cake and still had a ton of icing left. Note to self: halve Martha's buttercream recipes in the future!

A typical cancerian

That's me. I fit many of the Cancer traits. Especially the parts about being a homebody. That's me. I collect stuff. I like alone time almost as much as I like visiting with my (very close) friends and family. Just ask Fiona, I remember all kinds of things...things that will never, ever serve a useful purpose, ever! I can be untidy...

But no.

Apparently I'm not a Cancer.

I'm a Gemini.

Say what?

Interestingly, when I read the definition of a Gemini, I see some of my traits. I pretend to be a manipulator of language. I collect lots of information in my little brain (see above). I like to think I'm fairly flexible when things change. I loved my book club. I like intelligent conversation.

So what does this tell me? That we bend ourselves around our horoscopes...I can make myself fit Cancer and Gemini (although I see Alex way more when I read Gemini, but that might be because my brain is conditioned to think he's a Gemini, not the Taurus the article tells me he is) because really, the definitions are so broad that pretty much any personality can be contorted to fit whichever one our birthday tells us we are, even if heavens were to shuffle it all up and we were all assigned some other random sign...

Do you read your horoscope every day? Do you believe it? Do you read it at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Devon Coyote: The Tri Colour EP

My cousin Devon sent out the link to his album today...check it out (and if you like, buy it!)

YAY Devon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Buddying Up

This post was originally published at Get Fit Chicks. It may refer to posts on Get Fit Chicks that no longer exist. Please email me if you run into any of those and I will break the links. More information about the reposting is available here

So, I don’t make resolutions. I said that already. But that’s not entirely true. I do make resolutions. I just don’t make resolutions that are centered around January 1. I make them all year.

Anyway, my friend Melynda and I both decided we needed something to motivate us as we work on our get healthy goals. So we’re checking in with each other twice week on designated days to see how the week is going.
The idea is that we can talk about our progress, our successes, and our frustrations in reaching our “big” goals AND we can set little goals and be accountable for them.

So, if you look at my list of 101 in 1001, there are two big ones I’m working towards:

1. Fit back into pre-tumble down the stairs clothes
13. Weigh less on day 1001 than on day 1

But those big goals are only accomplishable (is that a word I just made up?) by reaching other smaller goals.

For instance, last week my goal was just to remember to take my supplements every day. This week my goal is to drink at least 1.5 litres of water while I’m at work.
We decided our goals could be anything we could measure in some way. Last week, both of us needed help remembering to do something, so we sent each other daily reminders to do our little jobs (taking supplements is a lot easier to remember to do when it’s just once a day...I can't wait for the GAPS diet to end!) This week, we checked in with our new goals yesterday, we’ll check in later this week with progress, and next Monday we’ll both have new goals again.

I like this buddy system...I have to be accountable to someone other than me; I can set small, achievable goals; I can set the same goal over and over and over again for a few weeks until I think I've achieved it (or created or broken a habit); I can set more than one goal a week; I get to catch up with a friend in the process. Because, believe me, we're not just talking about our goal...we're both working mommies and we have two year olds and husbands...there’s lots to talk about!
I used to think the only buddy system that worked for me was scheduling real life time to do something with someone...I'd definitely go to the gym as planned if I was meeting someone there. I’d definitely go for a walk if I was walking with someone. But I realized I just need someone to tell about, someone who would support me but also remind me that I said I was going to do yoga today and it's now 11:45 at night...better get yoga-ing for 15 minutes if you want to reach that goal!

Do you have a buddy system? How does yours work? or does it work better for you to not have a buddy??

When I went to a decluttering seminar

Back in November I attended a decluttering seminar...okay, that might not be what it was called, but it was led by a professional organizer and I took a lot away with me.

Clutter is a perpetual issue at our house. I'm a clutter collector. But I'm working on it...

Apparently I'm not doing a very good job though. I've lost my note book. The one I write EVERYTHING in. It's gone. J even knows it's gone and whenever she finds me looking for something, she asks if I'm looking for my green book.

Anyway, I had some little notes jotted down in that book, but it's done, so I'm going to have to do this from memory...I can't even remember the name of the lady who ran the seminar or the name of her company. Sigh...I'm fired.

One of the things she talked about was how overwhelmed clutter makes us feel...we walk into our homes and see piles of mail, laundry to be sorted and folded, dishes to be done, laundry to be washed...all of those things make us feel so overwhelmed that most of us end up on the couch hoping it will all go away. I think every person in the room nodded when she asked if have all experienced this at least once in our lives.

I got some good tips out of how to deal with books. She basically suggested using the library whenever possible (which I do now) and she gave some strategies for paring down books - are you going to read it again being the big question. We've applied that strategy to our books (okay, fine, Alex's books) and he got rid of 68 books two weeks ago. That's a lot of books.

She also talked about the 20/80 rule and how it applies to clothes...that we all basically wear 20% of our cloths most of the time. I have two large bags of Alex's clothes in the trunk of the car waiting for drop off at one of the charity boxes.

Why is it so much easier to get rid of someone else's things than it is to get rid of your own?!?!?!

The other key things (for me) that she talked about were guilt and sentimentality. If it makes you feel guilty, get rid of it. If you're attached to it for sentimental reasons, keep it. But minimize how many sentimental things you keep. She gave an example of inheriting someone's collection of something. Something that you're not interested in or stuff to do a hobby that you'll never do. She suggested keeping one part of it and giving the rest away to someone who will use it or be interested in it. She gave a few examples - one of her clients received all of their mother's cooking utensils. They already had a functioning kitchen, so they chose three pieces that had memories for them and framed them and hung them in their kitchen. Another client inherited all of his dad's fly fishing gear. He had no desire to take up fly fishing, but chose some of the more beautiful lures and had them framed and displays them in his office. The rest of the gear was given away to a fly fisherman.

The last little (new) trick up my sleeve is the fire trick. If I can't decide what to do with something, I need to decide if it's something I would replace if there was a fire or that I would miss if I couldn't replace it after a fire.

I can do it. I can declutter our house.



Monday, January 10, 2011

Hits the nail on the head

Oh my, this girl, Lynnea Malley, sums up Facebook quite well...

And because of Facebook's awesome ability to time suck, three nights a week I'm aiming for no Facebook at my house. Without even trying, I'm doing really well on the weekends...I think the computer slept from Friday afternoon until about 6:00 yesterday when I decided it was time to make my grocery list.

We'll see how this exercise goes. I feel old. I remember a time when my evenings were spent reading or knitting or hanging out with friends. Friends who were in the same room as me. Friends who I wasn't communicating with via computer or smart phone or some other new-fangled technological device.

PS there are still some spots in the homemade giveaway game! don't *have* to do your own giveaway to participate...leave a comment and you're in!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Almost miraculous

It's just after 8 and the dishes are done, lunches are pretty much made, and J is in bed.

Whoa...amazing! And peaceful. And relaxing.

And I'm giving the credit to this:

dad's own cookbook
and to Alex. And he's not even here. He's at work...

He got Dad's Own Cookbook for Christmas - with the shift he's working, I asked him to help out with dinner during the week and since he has a limited repertoire of recipes, we needed to start somewhere. This book is awesome! I think it would make a great starting point for anyone just beginning to cook (Alex also has Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, another great starting point...put the two together and wow!)

This book tells you how to do everything. There's even a section on how to chop an onion!

At the beginning of each recipe, after the ingredients, but before the instructions there is also a list of exactly what you will need to make the dish - all the prep and cooking dishes.

equipment needed
After a number of the recipes are some suggestions for serving - side dishes and's great (I wish some of our other cookbooks had that...)

serving suggestions
Alex's first recipe from this book was Cajun Baked Salmon.

cajun baked salmon
It called for steaks, but we both agreed that if we made it again, fillets would be better. Neither of us is a huge salmon steak fan - too many bones to retrieve, especially when J eats with us.

alex prepping the salmon
This was a super quick meal to prepare. J and I got home at 5:15 and I think we sat down to eat before 6:00. Alex waited until we were home to start cooking since the salmon only took about 15 minutes...overdone salmon=yuck!

salmon for the oven
Since I was doing the dishes, I appreciated the prep-work clean up too - a fork, some measuring spoons, a small bowl and a side plate. Easy!

mmm cajun salmon
It didn't take long for the house to start smelling yummy!

cajun salmon
J loved it. She ate about 2/3 of a steak and some rice. She's decided that peas are yucky this week so she tried to get one of us to eat them for her.

gaps salmon dinner
Because I'm on the GAPS diet, I got to have salad instead of rice. That was a challenge when Alex picked the first recipe he wanted to try...the first few were nixed because a main ingredient that couldn't be easily left out or substituted (at least for my portion) was something on the not recommended list. I told Alex I'd go through the book and make a list of the recipes that are okay for me...maybe that's what I should do with all this time stretching in front of me tonight!

The calm evening we had is such a treat. Because we got to eat dinner with him, J wasn't (too) upset when Alex went to work and because Alex was in the kitchen, I got to spend a few minutes with J before dinner, looking at a book and playing with play dough. I don't often get to do that because I'm trying to get dinner made, but we both really enjoyed it!

Sometimes you just need a time out

A lesson from Squirt...

When we were at my parents' house over the holidays we had dinner with my sister's boyfriend's family. His sister has a daughter the same age as J (still with me?).

J and B had a great time together...eventually. But it was touch and go at first. J was unhappy at one point and she just needed to be removed from the situation (I can't remember what was a non-event)

I took her into the den and closed the door and figured we'd sit together and I'd rub her back until she stopped crying and when she was ready, we'd go back to the big noisy room full of people.

We settled into the rocking chair and about three rocks in, she lifted her head up and said, "Mommy, go away. I need a time out."

Really? I wasn't giving her a time out, I just thought she needed some quiet time to regroup.

Well, apparently she NEEDED a time out and I didn't move fast enough because she said it again. And then she told me that she would come out when it was time.

So I left her.

And she did. And she apologized all on her own for her meltdown.

See, kids can teach you things.

The lesson? Sometimes we all just need a few minutes alone to gather ourselves together and carry on. Worth remembering...even I need a time out from time to time...and hopefully this will remind me to just take that time out and life will be much better for it!

I’m ready for you, 2011!

This post was originally published at Get Fit Chicks. It may refer to posts on Get Fit Chicks that no longer exist. Please email me if you run into any of those and I will break the links. More information about the reposting is available here

Happy New Year!

I was away over the holidays and busy celebrating with family and friends and pretty much ignoring the computer world. Yeah. When I turned my computer on after three days of ignoring, do you know what I found?

Over 1000 posts in my RSS feed. Something like 300 emails.

I selectively read my RSS feed. There are some blogs that I have to read and some that I like to read and some that I read very occasionally, so there was a process to choosing what to read, but it still took forever. And I deleted most of the email. I don’t get a lot of personal email anymore...

Anyway, I'm back now, so I'm trying to get back into blogging...

Not that 2010 was a bad year (it wasn't), but I'm so ready for 2011. I didn't make any specific resolutions for 2011. I've been working on my 101 things in 1001 days since September and that seems to be a good way for me to do it. There are some health and fitness goals in there, so go take a look (and if you're doing the 101 things in 1001 days challenge, let me know, I love to follow what others are up to!)

I did start the year with a list of lists though…books to read, blog posts to write, parts of our house to declutter, emails to write, packages to send, phone calls to make…

Slowly but surely I'll cross them all off…and very quickly I'll add more and more and more.

Lists are never ending! But I love them anyway!

My big challenge right now is still the GAPS diet. It's going much better now that the evil healing crisis is done and I'm on the full diet. It's still restrictive, but not like in the introductory stages.

I had some interesting food over the holidays – my mom made me lasagne with zucchini "noodles" and used cheddar cheese instead of ricotta and mozzarella. It was tasty and it held together fairly well. She also made some spiced nuts which were to die for and I could have everything in them...yay for finding snack food that works with the diet.

I have another 6-8 weeks to go on the diet and I'm looking forward to the end. I think I will have developed some good low carb habits by the time the end comes and I've figured out how to make one meal for all three of us instead of one for me and one for them…it's easier on the full diet and I can always make a side of rice or some potatoes for Alex and J and just not have them on my plate.

The big thing I'm looking forward to is a reduction in our grocery bill. It's huge because of all the nut butters and meat and special foods…I think it will go down substantially when I go back to less restricted eating (and less broth...I'm getting tired of it!)

Is anyone else out there like me and doesn't make specific New Years resolutions?

Handmade times five (aka Game!)

When I first ventured into the world of blogging, Heddy, who encouraged me be unbored by starting my own blog suggested a few blogs to me for my reading pleasure. One of those blogs was Martini Mom. For the past almost five years (eeep....have I really been blogging that long?!?!) I have been lurking on Martini Mom's blog. I've read about her little boy, who isn't so little anymore, her ex-husband, the dog, the Man, the new baby, the kitchen reno. I've laughed, I've been ticked off for her, I've gotten teary, and I think I've left a comment or two, but for the most part I've lurked (seems sort of strange to me as I type this that I know a fair amount about her life and she doesn't know anything about me...)

But then yesterday she posted a fun little game! and offered to send something handmade to the first five people to comment on her post and suggested that if you're one of her five you might want to play too. I wandered over there first and I'm totally up for playing. I'm going to do the same...first five commenters, I will send you something that I make for you and you'll receive it by the end of 2011.

I figure that gives me 359 days to get my act together and make five homemade things...I have a few thoughts rolling around in my brain right now...

Leave a comment with your email address...and if you're in the top five and you want to play too, well, leave a comment with a link to your "Game!." I'll email you in the next couple of days and collect your address (unless of course I have it already...) and sometime before December 31, you'll get a little package in the mail or left on your doorstep or maybe you'll discover something in your purse...who knows...

And if I don't know you (in real life or in the blog world) and you have a blog, please leave a link to your blog so I can decide what I might like to make for you...

This is going to be fun...

So, if you want something homemade by me, comment away...

PS You don't have to have a blog to comment. You also don't have to do your own giveaway.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Farewell 2010

Well, I had thought I'd do this on New Years Eve, but, well, J had other ideas...I wanted to go to bed early, but J was up until 10:30...

Then I thought, oh, I'll do it on New Years Day. Ha. J was up at 5:00. I know people who arrived home later than that...J went to bed and got up before they had even finished partying.


So, here's my recap of 2010. On January 3rd.

Oh, and somehow this is my 1000th post...yeah, 1000th the heck did that happen?

2010 was a crazy year for us and while overall it was great, I must say I'm happy to see it gone.

Let's started with the crazy diet and it ended with a new crazy diet...
We were rudely awakened to the frailty of human life and how lucky we are to have our loved ones (and just in case we didn't get the message the first time, we were reminded again in the fall).

I started acupuncture to sort out some leftover issues from having J.

The Olympics and Paralympic games came to Vancouver and we had a blast! We even got to catch up with a friend of mine from my Our Chalet days. Alex got to work a shift with fairly normal hours and we all loved it. Apparently the excitement of the Gold Medal hockey game was too much for me and I disappeared from blogland for the month of March.

March was also the start of bi-weekly yoga for me and I discovered how much I love it.

The end of March marked a huge change in my work life as my department closed for good and I was transferred to a brand spanking new department. It was a big change, a new experience, and brought many challenges, but nine months in, while I miss my coworkers from my old department, I am enjoying my new position, department, and coworkers.

We got to summer and looked forward to J entering UBC...daycare that is...

J grew from a little baby into a little girl who entertains us on a daily basis with all kinds of antics. We left her with my parents for a week at Easter, spur of the moment, and again in August when we took a little vacation.

I started two new challenges this year - a book challenge and a 101 in 1001 challenge. And I made a new imaginary blog friend!

We started using the kitchen book to organize our lives and maximize the time we get to spend as a with a daddy on crazy, ever-shifting shift work can be trying for all involved.

The weather turned very cold and we even got a big dump of snow. I started knitting again. We began celebrating Christmas early with the Santa Claus parade and ended with a lovely little Christmas vacation in k-town.

So yeah, a very productive and relatively happy year...I'm happy to see 2011 though. I'm hoping it might be a bit smoother going than 2010 was.

As for resolutions, well I don't make them. I set goals throughout the year. Right now I'm working on sticking to the GAPS diet and crossing things off the list of 101 in 1001 days...We're also working on sorting out the STUFF in our lives...getting rid of four bags of books today was just the beginning!

Happy 2011 to my blog readers...hope yours is wonderfully amazing and happy!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

4. Stick to the crazy diet for at least a month

Huh. I thought I'd blogged about this...but apparently not.

I wrote a bit about it as it happened on Get Fit Chicks.

I wrote about the new diet it when it arrived here.

But I didn't really blog about completing item number 4. I'm sure I did though. So bear with me. I've been up since 5:00 am this morning.

I did the diet. I stuck with it as best I could given the events going on in our lives. I stocked the house with crazy diet friendly food. I drank lots of water. I ate lots of veggies and fruit and grilled and baked chicken. I was careful. I planned ahead when I knew I wouldn't have much choice so that I wouldn't have to eat much.

It didn't work. It was frustrating. I didn't feel any better.


But I did it.

I also found out why it wasn't working. One of the things that was high the last time was my cortisol. I also had an unhappy liver and an unhappy pancreas. This time, my cortisol is low. So low. Usually if you saw a graph of your cortisol, it would start out really high in the morning, then drop quickly and then even out for the rest of the day. Mine is low and the curve is pretty flat all day.

Some of this is called adrenal fatigue. There are other things going on too.

The crazy diet and the GAPS diet have a few things in common, but a lot of things not in common. One likes wheat, the other likes nuts. One likes lentils, the other likes rice. One likes fermented dairy products, the other only likes fresh dairy products. Both dislike soy. Both like fresh meats.

So while the crazy diet didn't work for me (if you're looking it up, the term you want to search is low-tyramine diet) this time, I'm happy to say the GAPS diet is working. It's going to be longer than the crazy diet before we can start adding things in (3-4 months vs 1 month) but I'm game if the results are worth it and so far they are!