Friday, March 21, 2014

Hello Thirty

For the past few months, I've tried not to think about it at all.  When I did, I thought it would be kind of scary; I thought it would cause a bit of anxiety; I thought there'd be a chance that I'd even cry a little.  Yet, last night, as the clock ticked down on the final moments of my twenties, I couldn't sleep because of an entirely unexpected emotion.  I was excited!  It was strange, but I was actually looking forward to being thirty!  I am lucky to greet thirty feeling fit and happy.  There definitely have been many ups and downs getting to this point, but overall life is lovely and I am so grateful for everything and everyone in it.  And today, thirty wasn't scary.  It didn't cause anxiety or tears.  It was a beautiful day that I was able to greet with a sincere smile and say, "hello thirty."



Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Painting




Happy Valentine's Day!  Today, I'd like to share a little painting that the kids and I created a couple weeks ago.  It was one of the lovely craft projects organized by our local Ontario Early Years Centre.   If you are lucky enough to live near one, I urge you to go check it out!  It's a great place to meet other parents of young children and is a nice little outing for the kids.  They have all kinds of activities and programs - and it's all free!  This particular project is a simple one.  We used Oliver's hand print and Amelia's foot prints.  All you need to create your own is a blank canvas, red water based ink or paint, a red permanent marker... and a little bit of love.






Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tip #2 :: Defeating The Sock Monster

Do you have a sock monster living in your house?  One that eats socks, but only single socks, so that when you take your laundry from the dryer to fold it, you're left with several lonely socks that have lost their mate?  I used to just toss those socks into each family member's sock drawer and they'd soon be pushed to the back and long forgotten.

Awhile ago, I decided to start collecting all the lonely single socks in one place: a big drawstring bag tied to the back of my closet door.  That's where I've been putting everyone's lonely socks when I put away the clean laundry.  There, they can all mingle and not be so lonely.  Now, every few months or so, I dump out the bag to see how those guys are doing and low and behold, I find a giant pile of socks with pairs that match!

So, here's my quick tip - collect all single socks in one spot.  I'm starting to think that there never really was a sock monster living here.  Unless you take into account an almost 4 year old little boy.




Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Raw Kale Salad with Beans and Veggies

This simple recipe of mine has become one of my favourite lunches.  I like to wash up an entire bunch of kale or two, rip the leaves into pieces, and store them in a Ziploc Fresh Produce bag.  Then, it's ready to make salads with and can be thrown into all kinds of other recipes for the whole week.  When I also have a batch of this bean and veggie mixture made up in a large container, my lunches are set for a few days.  Switching up the type of beans and vegetables, offers an endless array of combinations and flavours.




RAW KALE SALAD WITH BEANS & VEGGIES
Makes approx. 4 servings

1 can of navy beans (black beans or black eyed peas are great options too)
1 tomato or 1/2 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
1 cup frozen corn, cooked according to pkg.
1 red pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1- 2 avocado, chopped
juice and pulp of 1 orange
kale, de-stemmed and torn into pieces
sesame seeds
salt
pepper

Combine beans, tomato, corn, peppers, cucumber, green onion, avocado.  Cover with orange juice.  Mix well, making sure avocado is well coated.  Serve over kale.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt and pepper.

This salad is simple, healthy, and goes great with a glass of carrot juice!  Sometimes, on the second or third day, I'll add in an extra avocado to freshen it up a bit.  Other times, I'll toss in a handful of cashews if it feels like I need the extra fat and protein.  Mix it up and make it your own by trying out different combinations of beans, veggies, nuts, and seeds.



I am sharing this at...
Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party :: Tasty Tuesday at I'm Not a Trophy Wife



Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's Lung Leavin' Day!

As I held my baby girl in my arms and nursed her, my mind raced.  Why did the receptionist bring me to this room?  Was there a specific reason that she brought me into this room instead of the normal examination room?  I looked at the large round conference table and plush upholstered chairs and felt sick to my stomach.   Maybe this room, with it's comfortable seating, is where they lay it it all out on that table for a serious conversation.  The conversation that no one wants to be the subject of; the conversation about cancer.

Before becoming pregnant with my daughter, I underwent several procedures at the colposcopy clinic at the hospital.  That is where I had a biopsy (tissue sample) taken of my cervix after having an abnormal PAP.  It is also where I had the simple day surgery to remove the high-grade abnormality that they had found.  More tests after that procedure were still showing abnormal cells.  And then I became pregnant.  We couldn't really do anything more until after the baby was born.

So, here I was sitting in this strange room, nursing my little girl, and waiting to hear the results of the latest test.  My husband was in the waiting room, keeping our little boy occupied with toys and snacks.  What if the news was bad?  If it was, how would I tell my family?  What sort of treatment options would I have to consider?  So many questions swirled around in my head, it seemed the room was spinning.  Through it all, I thought of my young children and how I wanted to be there for them as they grew up; as I sat there, I prayed that I would.




When the doctor finally came into that room and told me that my test results were normal I felt relieved.  I also felt a little bit silly for working myself up into such a panic over nothing.  All because I was waiting in a different room.  However, many other people aren't so lucky.  Many other people have their whole world turned completely upside down in rooms just like that one.  People like:

My amazing friend Doris!  Who writes about her journey on her blog Cure Me - Pure Me

My Mom's late husband, who my children know as "Grandpa Sam".

And Heather Von St. James, whose story inspired this post...


Eight years ago, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer that kills most people within 2 years of diagnosis.  She had just given birth to her daughter Lily, and was only given 15 months to live.  After surgery that included the removal of her left lung, Heather and her family created Lung Leavin’ Day. 
The purpose of LungLeavin’ Day is to encourage others to face their fears.  Each year, the Von St. James family and friends gather around a backyard fire.  They write their biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire.  This will be the 8th year that they celebrate!
This year, Heather and her husband Cameron are asking bloggers to participate and spread the word about Lung Leavin’ Day.  I was so honoured to receive an email about their inspiring story and the webpage mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday that they have created.
I highly urge you to check it out and watch the video of Heather's story, which can be found here. It is an incredible story of hope and beating the odds!  One thing that really struck a chord with me was when Heather said, "I've been accused my whole life of wearing rose coloured glasses and seeing life very optimistically... and I have no intention of ever taking them off."  What a beautiful perspective to have on life!
Let's all celebrate Lung Leavin' Day day this year.  It is a celebration in remembrance of those who are no longer with us; it is a celebration for those who continue to fight; it is for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life; and most importantly, it is to celebrate life!


So, what are you afraid of?  What is your biggest fear?  What would you write on your plate?


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Little Hearts

When Amelia goes down for her afternoon nap, Oliver and I have been enjoying some quality time together.  Sometimes we do a craft; sometimes we bake healthy cookies (I will post the recipe once it's perfected!); sometimes we read a pile of books in our big white comfy chair.  All of these times are extremely precious to me and I've been trying to soak up every minute.  For in the back of my mind, I am thinking the word "September".  That is when this little boy, whom I have spent most of my waking (and sleeping) hours with over the past 4 years or so, will start going to school.  Seven more months with both of my little hearts at home with me.  Seven more months to make every moment count.




The other day, Oliver and I decided to do a simple craft while Amelia slept.  With Valentine's day coming up in a few weeks, we went with that theme.  Pipe cleaners and beads were all that we needed.




Oliver enjoyed stringing beads onto the pipe cleaners, which I then twisted into heart shapes.  Watching the quiet concentration of this small, yet so astoundingly grown up, boy was a moment that I will cherish.  What I will cherish even more, is what he said to me next...




"Mommy, I love doing crafts with you."





I am sharing this at the Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party!






Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ode to Carrot Juice

I have accidentally stumbled upon something incredible.

Last month, I was really sick with a stomach bug.  The kids had it too.  I have never been that sick before.  It was awful.  Caring for and cleaning up after two little ones with tummy troubles while also feeling so ill wasn't fun either.  My husband Chris had to work, so thankfully my Mom travelled up our way and stayed for awhile to take care of us!

Well, while she was here, we picked up a few Bolthouse Farms fruit and veggie drinks.  They're the ones found in the produce section at the grocery store (I am not affiliated with Bolthouse Farms in any way.  You can read my disclaimer here).  We thought that since my stomach couldn't handle solid food, it would be a good way to get some sort of nutrition.

One of those juices was a giant bottle of carrot juice.




I was a bit hesitant to try it and even put it off for awhile.  I thought it would be on par with tomato juice which I DO NOT LIKE.  I am reminded of the time when my friends were drinking Caesars (similar to a Bloody Mary, for all of the American readers) and I thought that I should too.  It was not pretty.  And it wasn't because of the vodka.

Anyway...
I didn't try the carrot juice until well after the illness left our household and my Mom returned to her home.  When I finally tasted it, I was shocked.  It was fantastic!  It's a little bit sweet and absolutely delicious served ice cold.  This Bolthouse version contains a whopping 380% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A and is only 70 calories per 1 cup serving.

According to my research...
(if you watch The Magic School Bus as much as we do, that phrase may make you smile)

Each cup contains a whole lot of vitamins and minerals too.  These include the aforementioned vitamin A, vitamins C, E, & K,  various B vitamins, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.  While the old adage that carrots improve eyesight holds true (did I detect a slight improvement in my horrible night vision while driving the other night?), particularly if you have a vitamin A deficiency, there are also a number of other health benefits that this super food provides.  Everything from helping dry skin to preventing cancer seem to be on the list of amazing things that carrots can do.  "The antioxidants and phytochemicals in carrots may also help with blood sugar regulation, delay the effects of aging, and improve immune function." (Nordqvist, J. (2013, December 16). "What are the health benefits of carrots?." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270191.)





How often does something so good for you also taste so amazing?

It sounds silly, but carrot juice makes me feel like skipping and twirling around like a little girl.  Maybe it's all of the antioxidants.  Maybe it's all of the vitamin A.  Whatever it is, I love this stuff and drink at least one glass a day (remember to check with your doctor before changing your diet, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions).  I've also read that drinking 3 cups or more a day can turn skin orange!  So I try not to overdo it.  Like that episode of The Magic School Bus where Arnold turns orange after eating too many Seaweedies.

Well, I couldn't title this post "Ode to Carrot Juice" without including one.  So here it is...


Ode to Carrot Juice

Oh carrot juice!
Sweet orange nectar
As a seed you start
So small.
Within Earth's embrace,
You grow.
Nourished by soil, sun,
Rainfall.
A hidden wonder lies
Below.
Your destiny we shall not
Forestall.
For, your great goodness, now
I know.
Nature's nourishment is the gift you impart
To all.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Amelia's Artwork




The other day, I was writing a list.  As a habitual list-maker, it was likely one of many: a grocery list, a to-do list, an idea list - the list goes on.  Well, Amelia came along and wanted my pencil and notepad. Curious as to what she would do, I gave it to her.  She immediately scribbled on the paper (and the table leg and the floor).

It always amazes me how young children pick up so much just by watching us!

Amelia also came across a sticker on the floor that had lost its stickiness.  I think it was a Halloween sticker (it is now January).  No matter how much I clean our floors, I am always finding stuff that I've missed, dirt, crumbs, and random things in weird places; this usually starts about 10 minutes after I finish cleaning the floors.  If I'm lucky.  Such is life with two kids and a dog!  Anyway, Amelia tried to stick that unsticky sticker onto everything: the couch, Oliver, me.

So when Oliver wanted to make drawings yesterday...




I thought it was about time for Amelia to join in too!




I keep a basket handy with colouring books, crayons and stickers.  That way, we can make drawings at a moment's notice (and the kids can be quickly occupied for a few minutes when necessary).  And if I'm really on the ball, I change out the stickers in the basket depending on the season.




Amelia loved sticking on those stickers, which took some serious concentration!  Now, her very first work of art is hanging on our wall.





Thursday, January 2, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies


Yep, these are just as good as they sound.  So good, that I usually reserve them for special occasions.  This past Christmas, I tweaked the original recipe slightly by switching regular peanut butter for the natural 100% peanuts kind.  Also, I replaced cow's milk (that's what Oliver calls milk now) with unsweetened almond milk.  They turned out better than ever!  And since the changes are healthier ones, they make this little pleasure just a tiny bit less guilty.

Here's my new version of the recipe...

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup natural, 100% peanuts peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tblsp unsweetened almond milk
40 mini peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together flour, salt, baking soda.  Set aside.
Cream butter, sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg, vanilla, and milk.
Add flour mixture.
Mix well.
Shape into 40 balls and place into un-greased mini muffin pan.
Bake for 8 min.
Remove from oven and immediately press mini peanut butter cups into each ball.
Let cool and place in freezer for a few min until chocolate sets.
Carefully remove from pan.

Enjoy!



 I am sharing this at...
Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party :: Tasty Tuesday at I'm Not a Trophy Wife




Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Go

Happy New Year!

I love the idea of choosing a "word of the year".  A word chosen at the start of the new year to ponder on and provide inspiration throughout the months to come.  I started a list of possible words and chose the word spark for 2012.  A little spark came to life that year - our daughter Amelia.  For 2013 I thought long and hard about a word of the year and revisited and added to that same list of possible words.  I even started a blog post, but never finished it.

Over the past couple days, I've been looking back at 2013.  As I did so, I began to notice that the word "push" had been quietly motivating me throughout the year, which I wrote about yesterday.  I realized that I had made an effort to push myself outside of my comfort zone as well as push past and surpass some of my goals and expectations.

While pondering on a word today to choose for 2014, I came across that old list from previous years and, right smack in the middle of that list, found the word push.




Notice how the word push is the only one all in lower-case letters?  Totally found it that way.  I think push chose me last year and I didn't even realize it.

For this upcoming year, I want to keep the forward momentum that the word push unwittingly provided last year.  My word for 2014 has been popping up in my mind lately and is also on that old list, right at the top.  The word "go".

Oh yeah!  I almost forgot!  I have a 5k race to get to.  Going to start this year off running!
Let's go!