Love-Hate Relationship

Have you ever been entwined in a love-hate relationship? I find myself caught up in the web of one such bond at present…with my Keurig coffee maker. Yes, you heard right. The convenience and speedy delivery of coffee to my body makes me swoon with pleasure while the environmental and health impacts trouble me greatly. So much so that I have shunned my Keurig brewing system in favour of slow-mo brewing techniques. Again.

 

If you’ve been around here long enough or are a friend or co-worker (which makes you and automatic friend) of mine, you are very aware of my deep-rooted desire to be constantly caffeinated with the strongest and fiercest cup o’ heaven I can get my mitts on. Before the K-brewer of Evilness was dropped on my lap a few Christmases ago, I immersed myself in the process of making a perfect cup of coffee each and every time. I think the beverage was originally more about the ritual than the drink itself. I did away with an automatic coffee pot and opted for a French press, a cone filter-drip doo-da for on top of my single cup, and a stove-top espresso pot. I adore each system for different reasons. Then I was swept off my feet by a handsome new stranger; his name was Keurig. He gave me everything I wanted and all of the things I didn’t really need. My friends and I joke about resorting to dragging around IV poles to keep the coffee flowing into us 24/7 and Mr. Temptation (Keurig) was the closest I was going to get.

 

 

 

Image found on imgfave.com

Image found on imgfave.com

 

 

 

Before Sir Hotness landed on my kitchen counter I had considered the pros and cons of introducing another brewing system in my home. I had decided to forego said machine due to its wasteful nature while looking longingly at it every time I was in ones vicinity. Here’s the flip side of this passionate vortex of quick caffeine supply…

 

I don’t know which is worse, the fact that hot water is blasting through plastic, leaching particles of nastiness into my coffee to be absorbed by my body or the horrific amount of waste from the stack of K-cups that accumulates. There’s a lot of buzz at the moment in regard to convenient brewing systems such as the Keurig and Tassimo. I highly recommend doing some personal  research for yourself on this. As far as my research has concluded, there is no recycling program for K-cups other than the Grounds To Grow On program through Keurig themselves. This program appears to be a step in the right direction but is limited as far as access goes, is expensive to utilize, and depending on your opinion may not be a viable form of plastic aftermarket utilization. I struggle with the notion that burning plastics as an energy source is acceptable. The Green Mountain Coffee Co. has a target of making 100% of K-cups recyclable by 2020. For more info see the sustainability report here. I have a few options as far as disposal of the single use cups go.

 

1. I can toss it in the trash bin which makes me feel guilty at creating excess and unnecessary waste for the landfill.

2. I can save the used K-cups and become an episode of Hoarders until a recycling option becomes available.

3. I could take apart each K-cup myself and compost the coffee grounds, recycle the foil liner, and re-purpose all those pesky little plastic cups somehow.

 

 

 

None of these options are particularly appealing. I have purchased a reusable My K-cup to use my own ground coffee in a wire mesh basket inside a plastic case. There is yet another issue…more plastic. It seems like a never-ending cycle, doesn’t it? In my constant quest to “do the right thing” I have been hunting down a stainless steel reusable My K-cup. I have located such a thing on Amazon (of course) with a price tag of $19.99 Canadian. Do I want to shell out another $20 so I can brew coffee in single cups? I actually loathe the refillable K-cups for one reason only; I use a gigantic cup in the morning and need to refill the cups twice. It is not fun trying to dump the used grounds into the compost bin when they are piping hot and I have not yet consumed any of my beloved liquid gold. I am a patient woman but this tests my limits most mornings.

 

 

Besides the disposal of these little cups of enviro-doom there is the issue of how they are made to begin with and the environmental impact before use.

1. Made from plastic that may or may not be heat-grade and/or food grade, plastic is a product of the oil industry which is an environmental nightmare.

2. The amount of energy used to manufacture and fill the mass amounts of individual sized cups is wasteful.

3. The cardboard boxes that the K-cups are packed in. Although recyclable and occasionally made from a percentage of recycled paper themselves it is still unnecessary excess packaging.

 

 

I have only touched on the notion of health risks due to heat and unknown plastics coupled with an acidic element such as coffee.  This is a topic for further research before I can have an opinion other than, “why risk it on a regular basis?”  I don’t claim to be the picture of perfection as far as my environmental footprint is concerned but I always strive to do the best I can to reduce my impact. Every little thing each of us does makes a difference and it adds up. I have returned to my original love of perfectly, and sometimes leisurely, brewing techniques that produce a far superior cup of coffee.  Even if it means letting go of express coffee consumption! Egad!

 

 

 

 

“And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use.  And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried:  “Look at this Godawful mess.”  “~Art Buchwald, 1970

 

 

 

 

 

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Toxic People Test

Lately I seem to be bombarded by people off-loading toxicity. I would ask why but sometimes it’s just best to not let it eat up too much head space. To this I just shrug my shoulders, walk a LOT to breathe in fresh air, and spend more time with the friends that I know will make me laugh and help make sense of human stupidity and arrogance. There are certain instances where I know without the shadow of a doubt that people spew their garbage in my direction simply to get a rise out of me. I’m not sure they really want my reaction because it may never come. I have worked on my level of tolerance over the last ten years or so and have become a slow smolder, but there is a distinct threshold to my patience. I’m no mouse when it gets to this point. A lover, not a fighter is my true nature however there is fire in these veins.

 

 

Yesterday I was at the brink of popping someone. Yes, me. It felt like the negative bus had pulled up and offloaded an angry mob at my doorstep. To make a long story short, I worked through it with a few laughs along the way…but mostly a whole lot of working out, fresh air, journaling and loud tunes. I can’t hold a grudge or stay angry for long. After a few hours it just seems pointless and over-thinking kicks in. My bubbly nature tends to create waves again and I’m over whatever was bugging me. Moving on!

 

 

Feeling invigorated this morning and looking forward to spending time with a close friend, I had an upbeat attitude and a smile on my face. Even my hair was cooperating this morning!

 

I arrived at my local Starbucks to meet my friend, ordered my coffee and snagged a couple of comfy chairs at the window to enjoy the warmth of the sun. While waiting for said friend to arrive, I was within the auditory sphere of a group of ladies I have noticed here before. They were taking up a lot of space and dragged a bunch of chairs around a table, spilling over into the space of other customers. I waited patiently in my seat, minding my own business and trying not to overhear any of their bizarre conversation about the faults of one friends’ face and how said woman should do something about it. Good grief. As my friend was getting out of her vehicle, another woman came in to the coffee shop and joined this gaggle beside me. Only problem was, this woman dumped all her stuff on the chair I was reserving for my friend. I politely said, “Excuse me. This seat is saved for the person I’m meeting.” Well, you would think I woke a demon! The woman that was ever so sweetly pointing out her friends short-comings turned her wrath on me. “YOU CAN’T SAVE SEATS HERE!”, she snarled at me. What the heck? She proceeded to hiss at me that her friend had back issues and needed that chair. Then she told her friend to pull the chair up to their table! (Didn’t she just say her friend had back issues? Why was she not helping her friend with the chair?)  I was dumbfounded. Inside I chuckled to myself thinking how lucky this woman was that she didn’t try to steamroll me yesterday. Today she was dealing with normal me; whatever normal is. I kindly reported that I would move, since her friend was in need of that chair due to her back issue. You would think I had told her to go f*ck herself. She huffed and puffed like the wolf trying to blow down the little piggy’s house! I just grabbed my stuff and moved, whilst shaking my head. Weird.

 

Of course, my friend had walked in to see me moving seats and wondered what was going on. I let her in on the kerfuffle and was rewarded with a kind response about how tolerant I am of other people’s rudeness. That’s exactly what this boiled down to. Severe rudeness on this woman’s part and a sense of superiority. I was not going to be immature and argue over a seat, but clearly she was doing exactly what she told me I wasn’t entitled to do. What makes people think it is ever acceptable to speak to people like this? This is where every day dealings go off the rails. When we start speaking to others in such a way and with the tone that someone is worth less than another, issues arise. Not only is it rude, it displays a total lack of class. I would never think twice about giving up my seat to someone that genuinely needs it or asks politely, but bullying is pure toxicity. I will always use manners first and foremost. My parents taught me well that when you are kind, you are usually repaid with kindness. I only wish everyone had learned this wise teaching.

 

 

I think this was a test for me today…and I passed with flying colours.

 

 

 

“Anytime anybody is rude, it makes me double- check my own behaviour to make sure I don’t do that to other people.”  – Patricia Heaton

Kick It!

What am I kicking you may be asking. Well, it just so happens to be list making time. While I’ve never really jumped on the Party Your Face Off on New Year’s Eve bandwagon, I do like to use January 1st as a sort of stock-taking day. To scan both the vibrantly glowing and the dusty, cob-webbed corners of my mind in search of what I learned from the previous 365 days and how I choose to move forward through the next 365. An intriguing individual that I have come to know in the past year made a statement that hit the nail on the head, so to speak. I summarize when I say that he stated that each day is a new chapter not each year. Very wise, and the truth as I’ve always believed it to be. We don’t live year by year as those that seem to pivot their lives around New Year’s Eve would lead us to believe. We live day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. Each fragment of time is unique and within it holds incredulous moments. When my eyes open each morning, I give thanks that I have another day to experience joy. This is always my first thought. Seriously. This may sound hokey to some of you but it gets every day started on a positive note and in a forward direction.

 

 

Kicking it means two things to me – getting rid of something that is no longer of use to me and my journey and to initiate action to the extreme. Those of you that know me well know that I can be a bit hardcore with certain things so kicking it up to the extreme means a whole heap of willpower has to be employed. Let’s  just get right to the list, shall we?

 

 

 

Kick It Style #1 – Don’t bring me down.

 

 

1. Usually external things get to us all and create unwanted stress. Little things like someone cutting us off on our way to work or plain old rude behaviour. I’ve worked on taming the tigress inside of me over the past few years as far as not allowing others to get to me and stress me out as much. I’ve noticed my tigress stretching occasionally  as of late with the desire to lash out (both internally and externally) over menial things to which I would rather use control and poise. I accept my inner tigress and value her greatly but there is a time and a place for her abilities and power. That said, I am all about allowing irritation from others roll off of me. Meditation comes in handy here.   Letting it go.  To realize that some individuals are just moody bastards or buzz killers and frankly, ain’t nobody got time for that! 

 

 

2. Don’t push your agenda or religion on me or others…we all have our own. Just yesterday a patronizing individual tried to verbally overpower me by trying to force their agenda on me. This is more than a simple ruffling of the feathers here folks. When “No, thank you” was not working I had to pull out the big guns…yup, inner tigress. See, there is a time and a place. No stress, no raised voice just simple eye contact and force of character.  Say goodbye to Mr. Irritating!   I would love to hear what others have to say and I highly respect your opinions. However, respect mine as well. Thank you.

 

 

3. Bad vibes. I will merely smile at you until you feel like a tool or scram. Complaining and whining is ugly. I need to mentally tell myself to stop if I head down this path too. There is no use for such things. Let’s just stick to good vibes or if that’s too difficult, neutral vibes.

 

 

good vibes only

 

 

 

4. I am nobody’s doormat. I love the quote by Pablo Picasso, “Women are one of two things, a goddess or a doormat.” I choose to be a goddess.

 

 

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

 

 

5. Goodbye laziness – hello action!

 

 

6. Coffee as the first thing that hits my stomach in the morning. I know, I know. I am a severe addict where coffee is concerned and this is going to command a LOT of willpower on my part. This practice is doing me no favours so it is being kicked. Simple as that.

 

 

 

Kick It Style #2 – Here We Go!

 

 

1. Since the end of the work season (landscaping ended at the beginning of December here), the ladies I call co-workers/friends and I have been discussing ways to stay strong and fit during the winter months. Interestingly we have all taken a different route. I have embarked upon a mixed martial arts style full body workout daily for three months. After this time, I will be back at work and I’m sure I will still be kicking my own butt at home. Just for the record, I am not sparring or fighting. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I just like the defined muscle and definition of a fighter’s physique which will be mine with much hard work and dedication.

 

 

2. The volume of Life is being cranked! I am ready to ROCK!

 

 

3. I am realizing a few dreams this year that I have carried in my heart for many years. I will share them with you as they come to fruition.

 

 

4. I love, seriously and completely, love to be silly and live and laugh with abandon. Not in an embarrassing immature fashion but in a “let’s not be so serious all the time” sort of thought pattern.  This is not new to me but is a must as this is one of my defining characteristics. It is refreshing to be surrounded by friends of a similar mindset. If they are going to stare, give them something to look at. Or as Bonnie Raitt so superbly stated, “Let’s give them something to talk about.”

 

 

Ooo...so tempting.

Ooo…so tempting. Photo taken by unknown.

 

 

 

5. Staying in touch with nature and spending time outdoors is vital to my wellness. I feel drained when the connection with nature has been severed too long…like more than a day.

 

 

 

Each and every day I plan to make a difference in some way. Whether it be putting a smile on someone else’s face, sharing limitless love, helping others when needed with no expectations, or simply being a shoulder or an ear when such is needed. By bettering ourselves, it becomes easier to be there for others. We have more strength, love and compassion to share when we feel good about ourselves. I challenge you to do something each day that makes a positive difference in your life or someone else’s.

 

 

 

Let’s KICK IT! 

Road Trip – Part One

The road trip was brief but added fuel to my fire.  It has taken me this long to collect my thoughts and bring myself back to reality. Road Trip – Part One will be about how I spent my weekend away while Road Trip – Part Two will focus on my friend Steph (and travel companion) and what she was up to. Let me just set the scene by saying that Steph kicked some serious butt and focused like a mad woman last weekend.  We traveled together to our nation’s capital city, Ottawa, then went in our separate directions to get busy with our planned weekends.

 

 

Ottawa is in my Top 10 of favorite cities. If you haven’t visited this stunning city, I encourage you to do so. History, art, culture, politics, nightlife, cuisine, outdoor activities galore all rolled into one beautiful package. I have visited Ottawa so many times that I have lost count but every visit I find something new and exciting to explore. What was my main reason for going to Ottawa other than as a travelling companion to Steph? I was making the journey to visit my sister. Oh, how I love my sister and spending time together always makes my heart happy. We had some serious visiting and spa-ing to do! Yes, I said spa-ing. What else could I possibly call decadent lingering at this Scandinavian style baths/saunas for hours on end? Just thinking about being there still sends me into deep, rubbery bliss. This was my second visit to le Nordik in Quebec that is just a short jaunt from Ottawa. Each visit was a uniquely different experience but both were insanely sublime. I am actually thankful I don’t live closer or I’d be on a first name basis with the staff.  Seriously. Should you ever have the opportunity to go to a spa such as le Nordik, please do so. If you decide to make the trek to le Nordik in Quebec, call me…I’ll join you.

 

 

What do I love so much about this spa in particular? Perhaps it’s the eucalyptus steam sauna that makes one’s body drip with moisture that sends me into a euphoric state. Maybe it’s the freezing cold waterfall or plunge pool that is awaiting my departure from the sauna.  Or possibly it was the relaxation afterward that my body and Soul cried out for. Oh, who am I kidding…it was all of it rolled up into one bliss-filled day of heaven on earth. I even enjoyed the dry heat saunas this visit which I hadn’t been keen on my last visit. It’s interesting how tastes change with the passage of time and personal experiences. Since picture-taking was obviously taboo (this is a den of relaxation and who can really let go if someone is snapping photos of them lounging around in their bathing suit in sometimes unflattering positions).  I suggest that you visit this link to see what all my gushing is about. If I had to choose what my favorite thing about the Spa was, besides the company of sister and friends, I would have to say it was a tie between the Vaporo aromatic sauna, Tellura – which was freaking amazing, or simply the sensational hammocks in the trees secluded from activity. These hammocks were not your run-of-the-mill hammocks either, my friends. There was something almost magical about them. Once cocooned within its folds, no sounds but the leaves blowing in the breeze and quiet relaxation music I effortlessly drifted off into restful slumber like no other I’ve experienced.

 

This place is truly decadent.

 

The trek up to the Spa

The trek up to the Spa

 

 

 

 

Another of my fave sites to visit in Ottawa is the parliament buildings. I am not a lover of politics by any means but the architecture is even more impressive than the buzz that surrounds parliament hill. Canada’s parliament buildings were built between 1859 and 1866. In 1916 there was a fire in the centre block that left nothing but the northwest wing and the  library standing. If it weren’t for the foresight of an employee to close the library doors, the library and its contents would have been lost as well. During the first World War, construction began to build a new centre block which was completed in 1922 with the Peace Tower finished in 1927. The Peace Tower was named in commemoration of Canada’s commitment to peace. Cool feature: the huge gargoyles on the corners of the Peace Tower by the clock face.

 

 

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

Me on the Hill with the Peace Tower and Centre Block

 

 

 

There is always something interesting taking place on Parliament Hill. The day we were there the Queen’s Guard were strutting their stuff on the grounds, including bagpipers- in kilts! Yes, I giggled yet again at the sound of bagpipes.

 

 

Queens Guard

Queens Guard

 

 

 

 

On Parliament Hill we stumbled across an incredible sculpture that I hadn’t noticed before. I was struck by its beauty and strength. The Suffragette movement touches me profoundly. I become choked up at the courage of women to stand bravely and fight for the rights of women everywhere. I am proud to call myself a feminist and share in the convictions of my sisters before me. Feminism to me is not an excuse to man bash (glorious specimens that they can be) as some women choose to do but to expect equality across the board. Not ask for permission to obtain it. This sculpture garden, if you will, is very moving.

 

 

sculpture

 

 

 

 

Take a seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After enjoying the sights and hubbub on the Hill, my sister and I strolled (alright bolted) to Chateau Laurier for brunch. What a brunch it was! Maple crepes with maple whipped cream, chocolate croissants, delicious salads, hot dishes and a pastry table that delighted the eyes and taste buds among many other dishes. And the coffee…oh, the coffee. Sinfully scrumptious.

 

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

enjoying the coffee at Chateau Laurier

 

 

 

The road trip of relaxation, catching up with my sis and excitement came to a close all too quickly. I already miss my life-long friend and can’t wait for the next get together. Getting away from the daily grind is essential occasionally for allowing my Spirit to soar. To remember that there is intense beauty and exceptional individuals that share this planet. Sometimes the places that are relatively close  – in this case about 7 hours away from my home by car – feed the hunger for adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
-Bill Bryson

Day of Smells

Yesterday. The Day of Smells. Every day is filled with smells you may say, but yesterday seems to be especially poignant in my mind. Let me explain.

 

 

 

Daffodils - Narcissus

Daffodils – Narcissus

 

 

 

Although the day was filled to overflowing with scents, there were a few that really stood out.

 

 

 

Starting my day as usual…freshly ground coffee. Mmmm, my favorite smell to start the day. Without coffee’s mouth-watering aroma my day is not the same. I even ran in to Starbucks yesterday for an extra fix on my way to work which is highly unusual. Alright, alright, I really needed a washroom before jumping in the work truck due to an overabundance of coffee already but I just can’t resist the deliciousness of wafting coffee aromas. “I’ll have a Venti Tribute Blend black, please.” Ah, just what I needed. Smell #1.

 

 

 

Smell #2 – crunchy, decaying leaves on the forest floor. I just love that earthy, rich fragrance. Breathe deep.

 

 

 

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood

The fragrance of Spring is in full force. So many wonderful smells at this time of the year. More so than at any other time, I would say.  Hyacinth’s distinct smell perfumed the air yesterday. Such a heady fragrance.  The only issue was that while the hyacinth perfume was filling my nostrils another odour wafted in and altered the experience – skunk. Cough, cough…ew. There was obviously a skunks home in the vicinity. Wowzers, it was extra odoriferous.

 

 

 

The best smell of the day was a first for the season and another of my favorite smells – fresh-cut grass. Oh my. My head was swooning from the green ambrosia. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me? Ahem, sorry.  There is something so mesmerizing about the first whiff of cut grass for the season. Oh who am I kidding, I am always affected by it. Always have been. So much so that years ago two friends of mine from high school (yes, I’ve love the fragrance that long) gave me a fresh-cut lawn scented candle as a gift. It was pretty darn close to the real thing too.

 

 

 

The worst odor of the day was also the last. There was a strange, funky smell in the hallway outside my office door. It was a strong iron-like stench with undertones of wet pennies. Gag. I was on a mission to find what was causing the rancidity and I eventually found it. Uh-oh. My daughter’s hamster had died and left behind wafting lines of stank. It is shocking how quickly dead animals start to decompose. I had heard him sifting around through his bedding the day before. Perhaps poor little Marshmallow was preparing himself for the inevitable. Sniff. We have had a few hamsters as pets over the years and each of them had unique personalities. Marshmallow was by far my favorite. He was a gentle little creature and will be missed. Many tears were shed last night over not being able to say goodbye. Sometimes a final farewell is within the heart, not with words. This morning I had the task of burying Marshmallow in the garden. I chose his final resting place in a small garden filled with Black-Eyed Susan that my daughter and her best friend planted two summers ago. What did I notice while fluffing the soil afterward? The spicy aroma of cedars and warm earthiness of the soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 “Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.” – Gustav Mahler

Breakfast Bliss

breakfast with Buddha

breakfast with Buddha

 

Breakfast this morning was a blissful start to the day.

What could be more sinfully satisfying than a bowl of warm chocolatey, coconutty sumptuousness?

A few days ago I happened upon a recipe for chocolate banana breakfast quinoa that made my taste buds dance at the thought. While reading through the ingredients I mentally omitted certain things and added others.

The original recipe can be found here. The first ingredient to hit the chopping block was banana. Over the past couple of years I get this weird mouth-feel from bananas that makes me highly uncomfortable. Okay, that sounds kind of weird. I guess I should be more specific. I may possibly have a slight allergy to bananas or at least an intolerance since my mouth and throat get a tingly, fuzzy feel and my stomach feels as though I swallowed a bowling ball. Does that explain why the banana was axed?

Instead, I aimed for pure gastronomic pleasure and substituted with coconut.  Gosh I love coconut. I would lay in a tub filled to the brim with coconut milk and drink pina coladas if the situation ever presented itself.  Yes, I am mad for coconut.

I think I need to stop and compose myself with a sip of coffee. Or three.

Let’s get down to business now, shall we? Collect your ingredients and let’s get the quinoa simmering so you can make yourself a cup of coffee while its doing it’s thing.

Fixin's for chocolate-macaroon breakfast quinoa

 

Quinoa

Coconut milk – read your ingredients before buying since most coconut milk contains preservatives. Find one without if possible.

Honey – unpasteurized is my preference. I want the “good stuff” that’s meant to be there.

Cocoa – I am trying to use up a large canister I bought for Christmas baking. Choose an organic, fair trade cocoa if you can.

Water

Coconut – shredded, unsweetened and preservative-free.

Sliced almonds

Now that all the ingredients are collected, let’s put the quinoa on to cook.

Make sure to rinse the quinoa well before using to avoid the bitter taste from the protective layer of saponin that covers the grain to repel birds and insects. Put 1/2 cup of washed quinoa into a small pot and add 1/2 cup of water, a handful of shredded coconut, and 1 cup of coconut milk. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. I covered the pot but you don’t need to. Watch it doesn’t boil over and make a mess of your stove top like I did.  The smell of burning coconut milk is not pleasant. This is where you can make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and relax for a few minutes. When the liquid is almost fully absorbed, remove from heat.

 Add 2 tsp of cocoa and 2 tsp of honey. Stir well. Top with a little coconut milk, shredded coconut and slivered almonds.

Find somewhere comfortable to sit while savouring your morning meal. Lingering over each bite and being mindful of enjoying the goodness of sustenance makes it all worthwhile. When we rush to consume “whatever” in the morning we are doing ourselves a disservice. I know I feel so much better and more clear-headed when I sit down, put on some music or just enjoy the silence while eating instead of trying to multi-task while walking around.

” To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha 

Blanket of White

Yesterday morning as I started my day with a steamy mug of coffee, I pondered all of the things I could possibly do over the weekend. Then I cleared my mind of its swirling chaos, sunk back into the couch and watched the snow swirl and dance as it floated down to earth while I savoured my caffeine fix. The snow storm we had been promised had arrived…with a vengeance. School was cancelled due to the weather conditions so we were all moving like sloths. We had at least a foot of snow by the time I finally stepped out the front door around noon into a swirling mass of blowing snow. Each winter our front walkway becomes a wind tunnel for blowing and drifting snow since it faces North and is flanked on one side by the house and the garage on the other. In the summer it creates a nice shady, cool space to enjoy a beverage while in the winter the wind seems to lay in wait for me to open the front door to slap me in the face. Actually, truth be told, I kind of like getting an icy blast when I step out the front door. By the time I make it to my car I am acclimatized to the wind. Good morning!

Our super handy neighbour that helped me prep my garden in the Spring (see here for details) noticed me shovelling and swung his snowblower around to assist me. Sweet. I was only shovelling for a grand total of about 10 minutes! With a wave of thanks I darted back inside for a refill of hot coffee. Mmmm…

The rest of my day was spent organizing and cleaning. Some things just have to be tended to. Thursday I assembled a shelf and desk that my daughter received for Christmas. I should have known by the instructions clearly depicting an “x” over one individual and then indicating two people were needed for this task that, perhaps I should employ a helper. In typical Me fashion I went ahead thinking, “No problem. I’ve got this.” As I fought with the final screws in the shelf I realized that I should have heeded the pictorial warning.

Four hands are better than two.

Four hands are better than two.

I won’t bore you with the trivialities of the remainder of my day except to say that I delighted in the gorgeous snow drifting and blowing to the point it seemed as though it would never end. I managed to hunker down inside all day except the brief foray into shovelling. The best part of the day? Why, enjoying the fire that I started in the fireplace and reading a book as the snow continued to fall. Divine.

We have more snow now than we have had in the last few winters combined, I think. I love the fresh look of a blanket of clean snow. Interested in how much of the white stuff we were blessed with? Here is a article from a local media source.  It seems as though we have more snow in our neighbourhood than any of those pics show. I took this pic while staying cosy and warm inside. This was about an hour after the neighbour and I had totally cleared the driveway but you can’t even tell where it is anymore. As you can see from my car in the driveway I have some work to do before I can go for a spin. My Mazda wasn’t going anywhere too quickly, that’s for sure.

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

Snowmagedon 2013 Feb

I love the pace that a big snowstorm sets. Everyone slows down a fraction. Neighbours help each other shovel. There is no intense pressure to run around all over town. We simply adopt a slower rhythm as our ancestors did before us by instinct.

” The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found.” 

– J. B. Priestley

Winter Skin Blues

This frigid weather is brutal on my skin! My back is itching like crazy and my face feels as dry as a desert. I have tried product after product trying to aid my visage to no avail. The closest I have come with a manufactured product has been the gorgeous line of Shaklee Enfuselle products. I use these products on a year-round basis because they are naturally sourced and chock full of great stuff for my skin. However, this time of year always gets my skin crying out for extra TLC, no matter what. For the past few years I have slapped on coconut oil religiously and it works pretty well. However, my kids balk at the scent of it and make gasping noises when they come in for a hug. Thanks, guys. It can’t really be that bad. In the container it smells delicious like a pina colada. On my face, not so much, obviously. Weird since I can’t smell it and my nose just happens to be smack dab in the centre of my face.

 

I think I have finally come up with a solution! The past few weeks I have been experimenting. I am sort of in an obsessive domain at present since the itching and stinging of dry skin is all-encompassing. I have tried a slew of DIY concoctions with varying success and have put ingredients from different skin care recipes together in my own formulations. I have figured out that exfoliation two times per week is necessary during the winter. I’m sure there are skin gurus out there gasping somewhere. Oh well.

 

 

Almost good enough to eat!

Almost good enough to eat!

 

 

 

Perfectoid Exfoliating Scrub:

*All ingredients are approximate amounts since I just put everything into a small dish and use immediately. This makes the correct amount for one use this way everything is fresh, fresh, fresh.

 

  • 1 tsp melted organic coconut oil
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp used coffee grounds (or is it grinds? I am never certain)

Mix these few ingredients together and you are ready for superior exfoliating and moisturizing action!

Splash warm water on your face a few times – just water, no cleanser necessary. You will feel as though you are in a face wash commercial at this point. Turn off the tap to conserve water while applying the concoction. Scoop a bit of the mixture onto your fingertips and apply to face starting with the forehead and working your way down. Apply all of the mixture before starting to scrub. Lightly scrub in small circles starting at the forehead while leaning over the sink since bits will fling while you are scrubbing. Go easy. You don’t want to irritate your sensitive facial skin.  Allow the scrub to stay on your face for a minute or two for the most benefit. It is now time to wash off the mixture with warm water. Cool water is great for your skin but makes the oils harden slightly so it is much easier to rinse with warm water then follow with a couple splashes of cold water. Do not use any cleanser or soap to wash of the oil residue. This is beneficial to your skin and no, it will not cause breakouts.  Pat your face dry gently. Very gently.

 

You are finished!

 

For added moisturizing, I finish with a very light coat of either avocado oil or coconut oil (at night). If it feels too oily simply dab a tissue over your face to remove excess. If you wear makeup, now is the perfect time to apply. I usually add extra moisturizer to my tinted moisturizer for a more natural look anyway so this is a great way to cut out a step.

 

 

Why did I choose to use these particular ingredients? Other than they were some of the few ingredients that my very sensitive skin didn’t react wickedly to.

Coconut Oil –

  • prevents and protects skin against free radical damage.
  • aids in reestablishing the skin’s natural antimicrobial and acid barrier
  • easily absorbs into the skin and doesn’t feel greasy
  • helps to reduce inflammation

 

Avocado oil –

  •  avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, D and E, all of which  help maintain healthy skin
  • heals and soothes skin
  • keeps skin young and supple
  • helps reduce itching, dryness, and inflammation

 

 

Sugar –

  • stripping away tired old skin by using an exfoliant is rejuvenating. Exfoliants smooth your skin and help increase the production of new collagen to improve the appearance of fine lines
  • sugar is rough enough in texture to help rid the top layer of dry skin
  • can be too abrasive and cause sensitivity if scrubbed to firmly. Go easy. If white sugar is too scratchy feeling, perhaps brown sugar would be a better option for you.

 

 

Coffee Grounds –

  • contains caffeic acid which is suggested to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects
  • stimulates collagen production
  • helps skin feel silky smooth
  • great use for used coffee grounds since I am not using them in the garden this time of year
  • What can I say? I love coffee whether it be in me or on me!

 

 

 

One of the best ways to assist skin this time of the year is ensuring you maintain a high level of water consumption. I drink a lot of water because I simply like water not juices. I must admit that I suck down far too much coffee which doesn’t help but I do try to compensate by drinking extra water for every cup of coffee I consume.

 

If you try out this DIY exfoliator, please report back with your comments.

 

 

“Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.”  – Rosalind Russell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I Know You, Ma’am?

which one is which?bw serenity

 

 

 

There is some serious weirdness going on the past couple of days. Wherever I go, people seem to want to stop and chat. People I don’t know. I am going to take this as a sign that I look friendly. Not only am I chat-worthy, I have been told numerous times that I have a “twin” or a double. The first couple of times someone presented the twin scenario I thought it was interesting. I do believe we all resemble someone else somewhere, even remotely ,that would remind another person of someone they know. However, after a while it starts to get a bit freaky. Who is this other woman? I am curious, but at the same time a bit unnerved. What if she is a total monster! Sorry, my ego panicked a little.

 

 

When I first moved to the city where I now reside (twenty years ago – yikes!), I started hearing the “do you have a twin sister?” line. My response was, and still is, “No, and I’m not originally from around here” since the next question is always something like “Do you know so-and-so?” It is starting to get a bit old. Yesterday, my daughter and I went out for dinner for her birthday to one of her favorite places. There was a man who kept looking at me blatently…then smiled…then bee-lined for me! Needless to say I was a bit thrown. Guess what he asked me? C’mon, one guess. Bingo!  I did not know the woman he thought I looked like, of course, but it gave my daughter and I another topic of conversation – as if we needed more to talk about.

 

 

This morning I was at a coffee shop with my fabulous friend M when another customer at the counter reminded me of the incident from yesterday. As I was telling her the story, dramatically of course, the guy turned around and looked directly at me. I told M that he actually looked like the guy I was telling her about. He strolled our way with his coffee and pretended to look at the television behind us while sneaking peaks ever so discreetly at me. Finally you could see the recognition on his face that I was “the lady” from yesterday. It was quite comical and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud which made him laugh too. A brief conversation ensued that yes, I was me and he was…whoever he was. Very chatty fellow. Jokingly he insinuated that one of us was following the other to which I immaturely responded, “I was here first.” Nice one. What can I say, I called it like I saw it.  I’m sure he is a very nice man and this was obviously coincidental.  It fuelled M’s and my conversation a bit longer after he took his leave, wishing us a good day. After complimenting M’s choice of accessories, of course.

 

 

Cyndi over at Healthy A-Z has mentioned smiling more lately and I have been practicing what she is preaching. Perhaps it is working a little too well!

 

 

As for this twin of mine…where for art thou?

 

 

 

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”  – Elbert Hubbard

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am going to veer off my Festive Mode momentarily and jot down a few of my favorite things. It seems appropriate to this time of year.

A Few of My Favorite Things:

wonderful hiking terrain - escarpment

wonderful hiking terrain – escarpment

– without a doubt, at the top of my list are my children. That goes without saying, though.

– unsolicited hugs from my children. There is nothing like the hug of your own child that is infused with love, trust, and adoration to make you realize how much you impact another Being.

– laughing a good, deep laugh right from the belly. Laughter is so rejuvenating.

– standing with my face to the gentle breeze, closing my eyes and just feeling the sensation of the wind on my face and in my hair.

– a cold, refreshing beer on a hot summer day. Or a sumptuous glass of red wine while sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter’s night.

– the smell of fresh-cut grass.

– aloo gobi. The thought makes my mouth water….mmm…

– great tunes cranked up loud!

– the plant world. Truly fascinating.

– Brussels sprouts

– water. Fresh, clean water

– baking

– Get Clean products. The ONLY cleaners I allow to enter my home because they are safe and work like nobody’s business (check them out via the link to Live Love Be Green at the right side of this blog).

– my phenomenal family and friends. I love that we have a mutual respect for each other’s individuality. There is no need for us all to be clones of each other!

– Glorious coffee. You make my morning.

– muscles. No explanation necessary. (I felt it necessary to add this)

– the different terrain in the area I reside. Rocky escarpment, lakes, forests, vineyards and orchards, to bustling city. I love the contrast and the unique beauty of each.

– the Christmas and holiday season

Of course, there are many other things I could add to my list because this world offers so much bounty. However, I must stop somewhere! These are just a few of the things that make each and every day a bit brighter in my world. No, I don’t consume aloo gobi every day but honestly, I could.  I reserve the cold beer to occasional consumption which allows me to enjoy it even more when I do have it. I try to amalgamate most of these things into my every day.

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“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”  – Charles  Spurgeon