Thanksgiving Challenge

Last year at this time I was in full-out Thanksgiving dinner mode. See last year’s post here. This year I thought I was going to cruise through the weekend with absolutely no stress in sight. Alas, here I am on Thanksgiving Monday in the throes of assembling something “wow-worthy”. If not for my family’s enjoyment then at least my own sense of accomplishment. Here’s the thing…since we went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving for a couple of days I figured that I wouldn’t feel like preparing one myself so I didn’t fill my fridge and pantry with any of the necessary ingredients. This Thanksgiving Day I have decided to challenge myself by putting together a full spread with a near empty kitchen. I seem to like this type of challenge since I do this type of thing frequently. I cook with the spirit of adventure – trying new things is great fun and I seldom use recipes except to bake.  I am sticking to an Autumn harvest theme in celebration of the season.

 

At present I have a luscious smelling pot of pumpkin and roasted garlic soup simmering on the stove. It is chock full of delicious organic ingredients and fresh herbs from my garden. In the oven is a cauliflower roasting away with real butter (mmmm…) and a sweet mesquite spice blend.  I have yet to sort out a main dish but I suspect a chickpea something or other is about to be concocted.  I’ll report back on that if anyone is interested in the comments below.  Cyndi over at Healthy A-Z inquired as to whether I would be making the gluten-free pumpkin pie that I made last year. She inspired me to do so. Sadly, my cupboards were void of the necessary items so I have decided to whip up a spiced custard and serve with baked apples. 

 

This time of year encourages me to get busy in my kitchen and get back to the simplicity of great food using what is being harvested. Soups and stews fill my foodie brain and I enjoy the run out to the back garden to snip herbs for whatever is in the works on the stove. I am usually hopping from stone to stone down the garden path in my bare feet and quickly darting back into the warmth of my fragrant kitchen with my arms full of healthy goodness.  

 

To all of my fellow Canadians, may you be filled with thanks for all of your blessings and enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. To all the non-Canadians, let the spirit of gratefulness bring you peace at this splendid time of year.

 

 

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

 

Greening It Up for My Blogiversary!

One year ago today I decided to give WordPress a go, encouraged by my friend Crystal over at Change My Body, Change My Life. I am so glad I took her advice. Over the past year I have grown immensely (not in size, but in self-confidence and spiritually) thanks to making myself find words for what I was thinking and experiencing. Thank you to all of you that have read my blog and encouraged me. WordPress bloggers are an incredible group of individuals and I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie that takes place. I have even made a few new friends to boot! So, once again thank you to all of you that not only visit me here at Live Love Be Green and/or on my Facebook page Live Love Be Green but that also create your own fascinating blogs that capture my imagination and that makes time well-spent reading what you have to say.

 

 

 

So, since it is not only my one year anniversary of blogging but is also St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would try something new and fun with a poll. I am just trying to get the idea of how to create a poll so bear with me if it is lame.

 

 

For our St. Patrick’s Day celebratory dinner I made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (yum) with a fresh mesclun salad and a mouth-watering pint of Guinness for me. For dessert I lovingly baked a Chocolate Guinness cake with salted caramel drizzle. Holy heaven on a dessert plate! I shall leave you with thoughts of Guinness Cake. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

“May you live a long life Full of gladness and health, With a pocket full of gold As the least of you wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, Be those which come true, The kindness you spread, Keep returning to you.”  –  Irish blessing

Love with a side order of passion, please.

“Tell the truth. Sing with passion. Work with laughter. Love with heart. ‘Cause that’s all that matters in the end.” – Kris Kristofferson

I must be honest. I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Never have been. It seems materialistic and fake to me. Perhaps it is all the marketing hype and over-inflated prices for one day, one day, that really gets my pulse racing (and not in a good way). Why do we buy into such nonsense? I am not a cynic, seriously. I enjoy a sappy movie as much as the next girl. I believe in love at first sight and that love can conquer all.  The whole idea of having to demonstrate love for another simply because marketers have declared it the day of love, c’mon. I would like to think our hearts are smarter than that.

I declare that we feel and show love each and every day! That we shower those close to our hearts with kindness and acts of admiration whenever and wherever the mood strikes us!

Romance is defined as:  to try to influence or curry favor  especially by lavishing personal attention, gifts, or flattery.  Should we not all be a bunch of romantic lunatics every day? I do believe so. I would find it odd if, in a respectful long-term relationship, my significant other only slathered me with kindness one day of the year. Do we not all deserve to be romanced on a regular basis? I don’t mean annoyingly so but sweetly, gently showing affection with the little details of life. Perhaps a lengthy kiss while running out the door for work in the morning or presenting your loved one with a glass of wine when you can tell from their body language that their day has been taxing. Thoughtful gestures speak louder than any words ever could.

This morning, like many other mornings, two Mourning Doves were snuggled together outside my office window. I am not an ornitholgist but I suspect that these two doves have a fondness for being together. The unspoken language between them would seem as though they find comfort in each other. These two doves always make my heart smile when they waddle around on the fence and cuddle close.  Nature provides us with the most extraordinary displays of caring if we are interested in seeing them.

At the root of being able to give love to others is the need to be able to love ourself. Not in a conceited, immature manner but with a peaceful heart that is accepting of ourself for who we are.  To be able to find an internal peace. When we can be comfortable in our own Soul those around us are easier to love. The world becomes more joyous and colourful.

I am not an advocate for Valentine’s Day,  but for Love. The sentiment behind the occasion is one I wholly support. Let’s just not confine it to one measly day!

Get out there and share some love!

“I find that when we really love and accept and approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works.”  – Louise L. Hay




Update: February 10, 2015

At the time this post was originally written, I was in the throes of a very emotionally draining marriage that has since ended. I have recently found much happiness in a relationship with the man of my dreams. He treats me with great love and respect as I hope he feels I do for him. Every day together is like the most meaningful day ever to be experienced! My stance regarding Valentine’s Day have softened slightly. I have no qualms about shouting from the rooftop how much love I have for my breath-taking and incredible man…even on Valentine’s Day.

On A Mission – 2013

I fear the New Year’s ball dropped on my head. I can’t seem to get focused the last couple of days, but not for lack of trying. I have so many ideas and projects swirling around inside my noggin that I am trying to process that I feel like I need a vacation to recoup from the Holidays! Does anyone else feel like this?

 

 

I was excited at saying goodbye to 2012 and welcoming in 2013. I even sat down on New Year’s Day and jotted down my intentions for this year. I started doing this last year and I referred back to my notebook throughout the year. Some of the things I listed were accomplished efficiently while many other points remained untouched. I don’t want to carry over last year’s intentions and feel weighed down by them so I created a new list without rereading last year’s before doing so. There were a few similar items on my lists but the intentions became more focused, less general. A good friend and I were discussing intent a few months ago and she said something that felt like she had hit a gong inside my skull. “If you are general and vague with your intentions, you will get a vague result.” I don’t want wishy-washy results. I want clear, concise results! So, while writing my intentions for this year, I was precise and to the point. It is only as hard as you make it. We have become so conditioned to feel sheepish about saying what we really want; even to ourselves. Don’t be. You are worth wanting to better yourself, to move in a forward direction. There is no shame in accomplishing a goal you have set for yourself or acting on a dream. Put aside ego when you jot down your list of intentions. It shouldn’t be about what others think of you or how much power you hold over others. This should be about allowing your innermost dreams, goals and insight to speak up.

 

 

 

I will share one of my goals with you. Like many other people, I like to think of the New Year as a clean slate; a jumping-off point for change. Last September, I made the leap and went 30 days without wheat, sugar or dairy. It was incredible! A few of you took that journey with me and for you I am grateful. It was such a great support mechanism to share the experience with like-minded people. I even made a few new friends out of the experience which made it even better. I lost 22 pounds  and went down three pant sizes by changing my food choices. I felt more energetic and healthier than ever before all within a week or so of changing what I was consuming.  Over the past month, the omitted items seemed to slowly creep back in. Not to the extent I had eaten them prior to September, but they were still there. I have set myself the goal of kicking wheat, sugar and dairy once again. I started January 1st and can already feel a difference. Pretty powerful. I have 15 more pounds to go before I reach my college weight. I am having a really hard time wrapping my head around this. I never thought I would ever get this close again to that number. I have always tried to maintain the “weight isn’t just a number” mentality. That only works for so many years before I realized that  those 15, 20, 50 extra pounds are creating health challenges over the long-term that I have absolutely no interest in. The number on the scale is relevant as long as you factor in other aspects of health as well. I am interested in a sculpted, muscular body not a stick. I would rather have the scale tell me I am a few extra pounds of muscle than it give me a  smaller number and not be in optimal health.  Partnered with proper fuel (food), this says “healthy” weight to me. So, my goal/intention is to lose the remaining 15 lbs while eating wheat/gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and being active for at least 30 minutes each and every day.

 

 

Yesterday and today I put away the Christmas tree and decorations and cleaned up any bits left behind.  Packing away the signs of the holidays makes me realize that I am no longer in celebratory slow-mo. I need to give my head a shake, flick off the dust, and get a move on. I am primed and ready to meet 2013 with a vengeance – I have dreams and goals to accomplish!

 

 

 

 

“Reach high, for stars lie
hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”

Pamela Vaull Starr

 

 

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

‘Tis the Season

I must admit that the Holidays turn me into a child again. The baking – oh, the baking! The decorating. The time spent with friends and family. A reason to wear sequins and bling at any time of the day or night. The way the stars in the sky seem to sparkle just a little bit brighter when the night air is cold and crisp.

Here’s the part that transports me back to childhood though. I confess that it is just a teeny bit embarrassing. I am a sucker for a really good Santa…I always get teary eyed and on the verge of crying when I am near one. Don’t ask me why. My only explanation is that I had such a memorably happy childhood that was steeped with Christmas magic. I’m sure onlookers must think I’ve gone off the deep-end but frankly, I’m not too concerned. I feel sad that they can’t feel the intensity of emotion that I am experiencing in that exact moment. This has absolutely nothing to do with reality, certainly, but the images of festivity and magic that the moment conjures up. Forgive me if this sounds utterly lame…I’m a dreamer.

“Santa is our culture’s only mythic figure truly believed in by a large percentage of the population. It’s a fact that most of the true believers are under eight years old, and that’s a pity.”   – Chris Van Allsburg

There is one aspect of this season that I wish would just evaporate into thin air though. This would be the frantic pace at which society seems to deem necessary. In this chaotic speed, people forget how to be kind and seem to transform into rudenicks (no, it’s not a real word, however it fits so I shall use it!)  I have noticed this year seems to be the worst yet for pushiness. There has been a total lack of concern for safety as well. Honestly, I have never noticed so many people running red lights while speeding. Almost every stoplight I am at I notice someone blatantly run the red. Scary. Yesterday, I stopped for a light that was red way before I got to it and was nearly rear-ended…then honked at! Seriously. I pretended not to notice when I really felt like giving the person a piece of my… festive cheer. I am certain his name must have been Dominic for he put me in mind of a Christmas donkey. Hee HAW!

I try to focus on keeping a smile in my eyes throughout the day. No frowning allowed. This keeps me feeling joyful and less stressed. I have even noticed plenty of people making a point of smiling back then keeping the smile after we have passed. I have to wonder though, do people see innocence or mischief in my smiling eyes?  I must think pure thoughts…I must think pure thoughts…

Mischief or purity?

Mischief or purity?

I am just finishing my preparation for the Holidays. Shopping is nearing completion and I only have a few more items on the list to bake. My freezer is full to overflowing, even after entertaining friends with an annual holiday party. It was heart-warming to spend the evening with friends old and new and welcome them into our home. For me, this seems to kick-start the Season. I am now in full-blown Festive Mode!

“At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.”   – Thomas Tusser

What is your favourite thing about the Holiday season?

Dirty Ol’ Me

The gardening season, or work season in my world, came to an abrupt ending a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t already know this about me I shall give you a bit of history as to  the work aspect of my existence.

I come from a family of non-gardeners. Those that appreciate beautiful gardens but don’t really relish digging in the dirt like I do. Like my Gemini nature alludes to, I have dual aspects to my Being. I am a bit of a “girly girl” so to speak. I love bling, shoes, and cultural outings. I also love to get dirty. Say what?! Let me rephrase that…I like to put on my work boots, work up a sweat, seem to often have disheveled hair and dirt caked on me somewhere. That’s during the working seasons of spring, summer and fall. Now that winter is here I have morphed once again into purity itself (snicker, snicker). Ok, I am at least not covered in dirt at some point during the day.

I am a Horticulture Technician, or so my college diploma tells me. I have worked in many different areas of horticulture including landscaping, gardening (yes they are very different specialties), florists, greenhouses (both ornamental and agricultural), retail, integrated pest management and (shudder) chemicals.

When I started my college courses eons ago, I was asked constantly if that meant I was a gardener. For some reason this used to irritate me to distraction. I would nearly snap people’s heads clean off! My, how my world has changed! I now love telling people that I am a gardener. Things seem to have come full circle for me. I attribute it to the fact that I am now truly comfortable with Me. I no longer feel the need to impress anyone but just be myself. I really, REALLY love being a professional gardener. There,  I said it.

What it really boils down to is that I have found, or maybe we found each other, an amazing group of strong, powerful women that welcomed me into their “family” like no other people I have ever worked with have. The company is run by one of THE most spectacular women that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I love her charisma and zest for life…and good food.  Sure, I’ve always got along with most of my co-workers over the years but nothing like the way this group has bonded. We all look after one another. Don’t mess with us…seriously. We are all well-educated women that are conditioned to succeed in a feminine, no-fuss way. If there was such a thing as roller derby gardening we would be beside the definition in the dictionary.

I think I may be getting off track slightly.

Anyway, over the last few weeks off work for the season I have missed my friends/co-workers greatly…until last night. It was Christmas Party night! Woot-woot! It was great to be with them all again (minus one whom we wished had been there). Laughing at the past season’s shenanigans and catching up with one another. I feel refreshed.

I am a firm believer that we come into contact with those that we are meant to learn from. Those that have an impact on us and vice-versa. This amazing group of ladies has reminded me  about not only how hard work is greatly therapeutic but that human compassion is a wonderful thing. There is something to be said about the sisterhood of women. Strong, supportive women encouraging each other is an incredible gift shared the world over.

There is a whole lot more to me and “what I do”…but that’s another story, as they say. I will share that at another time.

The night came to an end all too quickly, but have no fear…we still have some Holiday partying in the not-so-distant future!

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” – Coco Chanel.