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

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

Ties That Bind

The ties that bind us together. Family, friends and those that weave in and out of our lives to deliver timely messages whatever they might be. On my Path through life I am often reminded how we are all connected to each other by seemingly invisible threads. I have learned that there are many different types of bonds in life; the bond of genetics is strong. Within my heart is a huge section reserved for my family. My parents, my sisters and those that surrounded me by relation. I have an amazing family that I am very honoured to be a part of. My sisters mean the world to me. Although we are each very unique we are also very similar…eerily similar sometimes. We laugh at the same things without speaking or even eye contact and often feel that the other is in some sort of distress just by intuition. Sounds kind of hokey but I think it speaks loudly of our concern and respect for each other as well as the strong familial connection. As we mature, it seems as though we are drawn back toward each other. We don’t get the pleasure of spending much time together as all three of us live in different cities. A few recent family events through both loss and health challenges has brought us back to a common goal of caring for each other. It is interesting how Life throws us back together when we need each other without realizing it.

 

 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with my family. My daughter and I went back to my childhood home to visit. On the way, we stopped off in Toronto to visit with my sister since she had flown in for work. I live fairly close to Toronto so this was a great opportunity for us to spend time together. Growing up, my sister was my closest ally. It was rejuvenating to get to spend time with her and my daughter together. This occasion allowed my daughter and I some time exploring on our own as well. We walked arm and arm down Yonge Street in Toronto and enjoyed each others’ company while we wandered aimlessly through the Eaton Centre. I am not a shopper by any means and I really do try to steer clear of malls and the materialism that is reinforced within its’ confines. However, the Eaton Centre is a really unique space. It is a landmark and focal point of downtown Toronto. It covers two city blocks and is four stories of shopping galleries while having a six-story glass domed ceiling. The Eaton Centre attracts approximately 50 million people per year with 25% of those visitors being tourists. It is a vibrant location in the heart of the city. It’s interesting how the mall itself still has the same feel it had when I visited it as a kid even though the stores have all changed. It is clean and bright and caters to eclectic tastes, not just the same stores and restaurants you find in every other mall in Canada.

 

 

 

Eaton Centre, Toronto

Eaton Centre, Toronto

 

Eaton Centre fountain

Eaton Centre fountain

 

 

 

My daughter was awestruck by Sephora while I just wanted to run as fast as I could away from it while plugging my nose! Sorry Sephora fans. Admittedly, it was a beautifully laid out store and the products are high quality. That is not the reason for my disdain. The odours of vanity hit my nose like a huge green cloud of toxicity. Nail polish remover, perfume, and masks of makeup on every female in the store hiding her natural beauty underneath. Makeup is meant to accent a woman’s beauty when worn on a “regular day”, not as though she were about to perform on stage! I guess I don’t share a flair for the (over)dramatic. I don’t think of myself as unkempt by any means but I felt as though I was totally naked walking through this establishment with my real face showing. I personally subscribe to the thought that we are each given something unique and beautiful, why try to look like everyone else? On that note, we carried on through the mall taking in all of the sights we aren’t normally bombarded with in our city which is surrounded by wineries and natural beauty. I love spending time in large urban areas. Seeing and experiencing how other people live is eye-opening. A reminder of why I have chosen the life I am living is essential sometimes.

 

 

 

Metal Sculpture

Metal Sculpture

view from 21st floor

 

 

 

Later that day, the three of us went out to enjoy dinner together. We found an incredible little place that served vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free pizza, pasta and desserts. Oh, and beer.  Jackpot! It was a great little hole in the wall that we all enjoyed immensely. If you are in Toronto and have the opportunity to eat at the Magic Oven I highly recommend it. The service was friendly, the prices reasonable and the food outstanding.  After dinner we headed to Chinatown. I love Chinatown, but sadly it was getting late and the shops were closing up for the night. My daughter had the shock of her life when she stepped on what she thought was a fish head (who knows what it really was) and I just couldn’t stop laughing at her reaction. If you’ve ever watched the show Pitchin’ In with Lynne Crawford and have heard her when her gag reflex kicks in, this was what my daughter sounded like. Hilarious. We booked it back to our hotel in the -10 degree weather as quickly as possible so we could warm up again. It was an enjoyable, if not frigid, walk. We stopped long enough to snap a pic on this extremely cool sculpture outside the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). I got stuck holding the bags of desserts while my daughter clambered around behind me.

 

 

 

Sculpture outside the AGO

Sculpture outside the AGO

 

 

 

Saying goodbye to my sister as we left was, as always, bittersweet. I love spending time with her but that was merely the start to our busy weekend. Two more family and friend-filled days ensued. I got to spend some much-needed time with my other sister and parents. Visiting at “home” was a much more relaxed pace which was enjoyable after the hustle and bustle of the two days prior.

 

 

Catching up with my dear friend Crystal (Change My Body, Change My Life)  after a few months apart was grounding. Bringing me back to introspection. She is so good at reminding me to ask myself the important questions in life. She seems to always be able to read me like a book which is very comforting. There is no need to explain myself but just to be who I am…whatever heart space I happen to be in.  I am honoured to know that I am also a safe place for her. We help feed each others’ souls with positivity. Thank you.

 

 

These are merely snippets from my weekend spent reconnecting. Pulling the ties that bind closer to my heart. My world is more colourful and glorious because of those that grace the stage of Life.

 

 

 

 

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” – Henry Miller

Recycled Thoughts

Tomorrow is garbage day. Whoop-dee-doo, you say. Well, it is something to be conscious of, I think.  As I was sorting through the recycling – oh joy – and putting each item in its allotted bin I realized how much stuff we actually use. Or in this case, not use. There must be a better way than tossing everything into recycle bins. You can only reuse so much packaging without looking like the neighbourhood freakazoid with strange bird feeders hanging from every branch and nasty-looking garden sculptures. I refuse to go there so please don’t suggest that I “make stuff” with my soy milk cartons and wine bottles. OK, the wine bottles go to the Beer Store to be recycled  along with beer bottles. We receive  a deposit rebate so I won’t be making a garden wall out of wine bottles any time soon. I wouldn’t want my friends to think I drank that wine single-handedly. Come to think of it, my friends probably helped me drink most of it!

 

 

I started doing a bit of research as to what happens to our recycling once it is taken from the curbside. It is rather difficult to find specifics for the region I live in. Yes, we seem to have a great recycling program. Almost everything can be recycled and/or composted. Or can it? This is my question. Are the items we put into our recycle and city green waste bins really being recycled? I need to look into this further for my own information. I am a firm believer in recycling, reusing, and most of all reducing. I would almost always pay more or somewhat inconvenience myself in the name of being earth-friendly. I am OK with this. I prefer to carry bulky reusable water bottles with me than buy a plastic bottle of water. My kids lunch bags are jam-packed with containers instead of plastic baggies. I purchase household laundry and cleaning products that are super concentrated to avoid excess packaging (see the Live Love Be Green website at the right side of this blog  for more details). I don’t even get a newspaper to cut down on paper use. Mind you, the newspaper is pure crap. I find spelling errors in almost every article and it is written at a very low skill level which I find aggravating. I still have too much recycling to put to the curb each week. Sigh.

 

 

 

I need to find a way to reduce the amount of recycling that finds its way to my blue and grey bins. That is the situation I am dealing with here.  I came across a statistic that states on average, 16% of the purchase price of a product is in its packaging which ultimately just ends up being tossed in the garbage or recycle bin. Think of all the money we could be saving. I shall be more diligent and mindful of packaging before I purchase an item rather than after as I am stuffing it into my bin, cursing under my breath about too much wasted paper/plastic. The weird thing is, when I look around my kitchen I see a lot of non-packaged items. We eat a LOT of fresh fruits and veggies that are in the packaging that Mother Nature provided. No pre-cut lameness here. It takes about 30 seconds to cut an apple into slices. Why on earth would I buy apples pre-sliced and needing a preservative to keep them appearing “fresh”. Stupidity. Sorry if this offends you but, seriously? I think I went off topic…again. Sounds like my conversations with my friends over coffee or one of those bottles of wine that won’t be made into a garden sculpture.  I purchase large bags of dried beans and lentils as well as ginormous bags of rice to avoid a bunch of little wasted bags and to get a better per unit price.  It baffles me how we seem to accumulate so much in the way of packaging.

 

 

As far as garbage that goes out to the curb, our household generally puts out one small grocery bag in our garbage pail each week. I think at Christmas we were extravagant and put out four small grocery bags one week. I was wracked with guilt. Briefly. Then I compared that with the amount we used to put in the garbage pail even 5 years ago and am amazed at the progress we have made. For the most part without any inconvenience.  I don’t think my family even realizes that they are making any sort of added effort to reduce their garbage since I have implemented an easy to use system that requires minimal thinking. Oh, I am so cunning.

 

 

How do you keep your packaging and recycling amounts to a minimum?

 

 

 

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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.

Black Friday

I don’t get it…I really don’t.

I understand the significance of the name Black Friday. There are a few different theories on where the “black” in the name Black Friday came from but the one that is most well-known is that of businesses making a profit or being “in the black” on their ledger books. Understanding the meaning of the name does not make me want to participate.

 

 

I am not a lover of shopping to begin with so the thought of a stampede of people sounds absolutely dreadful. I am the kind of shopper that makes a list, knows what I am looking for and I get in and out of stores as quickly as possible. Oh, except at grocery stores. I am like a kid in a candy store at grocery stores. I love looking at labels and investigating new products. The healthy food section can suck me in for an hour, easily. Sorry, I got off-topic. I remember too many reports of crazed shoppers to want to risk being anywhere near stores today. Living only minutes from the U.S.- Canadian border, there is always a bit of a whirlwind of excitement when Black Friday is approaching. We are bombarded by American ads announcing their fabulous sales. I say, “no thank you”. Every year after Black Friday we hear of those unfortunate people who get caught up in the insanity. Like the man who was trampled to death or the woman who brought her pepper spray. All for the sake of things. So sad. Consumerism at its worst.

 

 

Courtesy of Yahoo Images

 

 

Last week my son asked me if I would go “over the river” and get him something he wants at a Black Friday sale because it is so much cheaper than here in Canada. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic my response was,  “You would send me, your loving mother, into a pit of insanity for a thing? I could be crushed to death!” I may have over-reacted just a titch. Stopped the wanting in its tracks though. Mission complete. The other upside to this is that he revealed an idea for a Christmas gift. Oh, I’m so wily.

 

 

The thought of humanity getting so wrapped up in things is rather unsettling. Yes, I like nice things too but I’m not about to fight for my spot in a crowd or grab rudely.  I plan to wait a few days, saunter into local businesses without the panic of pushy shoppers surrounding me and enjoy the process of finding something special for those I would like to give a gift to over the Holidays. And, truth be told, a few gifts for myself as well.

 

 

 

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”   – Dwight D. Eisenhower

.

Memories

I am caught in a vortex of emotions.

Over the last few weeks there has been a few pivotal moments in my life that I have needed to focus on. I have been trying to juggle many things at once and it seemed like something was just going to have to “give”. It was at this point that I received a feeling of sorts. Out of nowhere, fleeting thoughts of someone dear to me appeared throughout my week. On the evening of Friday, November 2nd I had been out and upon returning home I received a message to call my father. I knew instantly in my heart what he had to tell me. My thoughts were confirmed. I was told with sadness that my grandmother had passed away. Although I was upset by the news it was not a terrible shock. My grandmother was 95 years old and had lived an amazingly full  life. She was is great health with only a broken hip to slow her down a couple of years ago.

 

If you don’t mind, I am going to reflect briefly on my sensational grandmother and who she was in my eyes.

 

My Grandma was extremely pivotal in my evolution as a woman. She was always full of positivity and  seemed unflappable. She had a “You have to eat a little dirt before you die!” attitude. She rolled with the ups and downs of life and adapted when she needed to. As a young girl growing up, I saw my Grandma as brave, independent and fabulous. She was a seamstress and always had stacks of “repairs” she was working on. A steady stream of customers were always dropping by to pick up their clothes that Grandma had fixed for them. Never judging that the customers pants needed letting out – again. She would just chuckle and do a quick little wave of her hand to signify that it really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I loved when she did that. I have since learned that the little things we can all get so bent out of shape over are neither here nor there. Let life flow as it may. Enjoy the ride and let others live their lives in their own way. Being non-judgemental doesn’t mean not having an opinion on things, it simply means that we are all different and others are not there for us to critique.

 

I learned early from my Grandma that sanity comes from acting a bit nutty sometimes. Laughter is the best medicine life has to offer. She would laugh with us when we told jokes, acted crazy or dressed up in her closet full of retro clothes. I see myself very much like her in this respect. I love to play and get kooky with my kids and friends just for the heck of it. Life is too short to be serious all of the time! When the weather is grey, put on some red high heels, sling a red purse over your shoulder and paint your nails to match!

 

I think the hardest part of saying goodbye to my Grandmother is that in my mind and heart she seemed immortal. I know better, obviously, but she had serious staying power. It seems surreal that her time here on earth is over. Memories of her will always be easy to come by since there are so many wonderful life moments that were shared with her.She showed me through her actions how to be kind and joyful. I was truly blessed to have her as my Grandmother.

 

Now I just have to learn to make raisin cookies the way only she could!

 

 

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”  – Mark Twain 

 

 

 

What IS Health?

I have been doing some deep thinking as of late. Thinking about quality of life in regard to health. What is health, I ask myself. How does my idea of being healthy differ from how others define this state. This forced me to dig a bit deeper as to what being healthy means. I came to the conclusion that being healthy is a compilation of many things. It is not as simple as “feeling good” since that state can be attained by unhealthy means in some cases. So, what have I come up with in regards to the definition of being healthy?

 

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”~World Health Organization, 1948

Proper fuel:  Without proper nutrition we become run down quickly and in some instances cause much more harm than good. I am of the train of thought that the closer to nature that we eat , and supplement, the more our body has to work with. When we pollute ourselves with junk food, our body spends time trying to deal with the invading pollution instead of necessary maintenance and renewal. By ingesting mainly quality fuel we are being diligent in preventing many conditions that are food-related.

 

Movement:  Just move it! The more I move, the better I feel. It’s not rocket science.  Every little bit counts. I move a lot as a gardener when I am at work so I count these hours as part of my physical fitness time. I certainly feel way better lifting heavy objects, digging, planting, dragging, stretching, and so much more than I do when I am being stationary. Hard work is good for the body…and the soul.

 

Brain games:  Exercising the brain is essential to being alert and “with it”. Reading a lot keeps my brain active as well. No fluff reading here – I want solid material not the literary equivalent of a wet paper bag. I would hope that word and math games assist my brain in being in great shape. I would like to think of my brain as pumped, not limp.

 

image courtesy of Yahoo images

 

Spiritual practices:  I consider myself a spiritual, not religious, individual. Spirituality is unique to each individual and very personal.  I am not a fan of debate in this area for this reason. Spirituality is not about foisting your beliefs on someone else, it is about believing in something bigger than yourself and being a part of the flow of existence.  Being spiritual is instrumental to great health, I think. It encourages us to not be solely self-focused which can become detrimental to many other areas of our lives. Being in Nature helps me feel centered spiritually. All around us there is incredible life  going on in nature instinctively.

 

Positive thinking:  This is one of the greatest predictors of  being truly healthy. How we view everything around us or the things that affect us can either cause negative, stress-inducing reactions or positive  response. Stress = discomfort. No thank you! You know me – I love to try to stay positive!

 

Love:  Yes, I said love. We kind of throw the word around a lot. For instance “oh, I love that dress!” Not exactly what I had in mind when I said love. Love connects us to others through emotional channels. When we open our hearts by loving another we feel positive and joyous. Love can also be felt as a peaceful acceptance of existence. Allowing our soul to be in the moment and our thoughts to be gentle and accepting without being  judgmental. When our thoughts are bathed in loving energy we allow ourselves  to love and be loved with less resistance.

 

“The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around…. Throughout history, “tender loving care” has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing.” ~Larry Dossey

Down-time: No person is an island, or something like that. If we are constantly running around stressing ourselves out we are not allowing ourselves the down time that we need…or deserve. I am not suggesting that becoming a couch potato is where it’s at, I am merely promoting some time spent relaxing.

 

Friendship: Feeling connected with others is a wonderful feeling. When we surround ourselves with others that are caring, fun individuals we gain the great benefit of camaraderie. The spirit of friendship  is a healthy state to find yourself. It is therapeutic. Next time you are feeling stressed out, have a friend or two over and be silly…you will feel like a weight has lifted. There is a special comfort zone with a fabulous friend that you just won’t find anywhere else. Your health depends on close friendships with others.

 

Life-long friendship is a gift.

 

Play: Please include play into your personal health regime.  Jump in a pile of leaves, go bowling, see if you can still jump rope like you used to, have a snowball fight…whatever you feel like at the moment. Laughter keeps us youthful and in touch with who we are. No need to be all stiff all the time – smiling and laughing makes everyone more beautiful; inside and out.

 

Yes, that’s me having fun, fun, fun!

 

In my mental quest for my personal definition of health, these are the areas I feel are imperative. I am certain that more will be added along my life path and my hours of mental musings. So, enjoy great health by giving your body, mind and spirit the respect they deserve. Health isn’t merely being free of disease – it is about living each moment to its fullest and being proactive!

 

 

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

The Menu

To follow-up the Thanksgiving themed posts, I will wrap it all up with one last post…the menu. Sadly, I have no pics to add to this delicious food bonanza except a photo of the last piece of gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie. I think I will be making another pumpkin pie in the near future since this was such a hit.

The  Menu

Butternut Squash Soup

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

Rutabaga

Homemade Stuffing (no boxed stuff here!)

Vegetarian Gravy

Herb Roasted Whole Chicken

Vegetarian Baked Beans

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

Real Whipped Cream sweetened with Maple Syrup

Butternut Squash Soup

I never use a recipe for squash soup. Or most of the soups I make, for that matter. I start by heating up a couple tablespoons of oil in a large soup pot and add in a couple of medium-sized, chopped  onions. I saute the onions until they are just starting to brown slightly to give some added flavour. At this point I toss in an entire butternut squash (medium size) that has been skinned and cut into large pieces of about an inch or so cubed. Drop in one large sprig of fresh rosemary (you will remove the stem before blending soup) or remove leaves from stem and chop finely. Pour approximately 8-10 cups of vegetarian stock into the soup pot and simmer for approximately 45 minutes to an hour until the squash is very tender. At this point, puree in small batches in the blender until very creamy and smooth or use an immersion blender. The silkier the soup, the better. This soup can be made to serve immediately or even a day prior to serving. I think the soup tastes better the longer it rests.

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

I really love Brussel sprouts. They have always been one of my favourite foods but until recently I have always had them served boiled. My sister made them a couple of years ago sautéed and caramelized with brandy. Oh…my…GOSH! I learned to love them even more!  I have made them since then a few times following her method but for Thanksgiving dinner I simply steamed them in a saute pan then removed the lid, added a bit of ghee and let them do their thing until they were nicely golden and sweet. Mmm, mmm,mmm.

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

Early on the morning I would be needing the roasted garlic I sliced of the top off of  a head of garlic, set it  on a square of foil, poured a bit of olive oil over top and sprinkled with  freshly ground black pepper. I then wrapped the foil tightly around the garlic and popped it in the toaster oven until it was fragrant and soft. I set it aside until dinner prep time when I squeezed all of the luscious soft cloves from the bulb and dropped them into the pot of cooked and drained potatoes.   I got busy and whipped the potatoes and garlic  with vegetarian stock instead of milk and butter to make them lighter and much easier on my figure.

Rutabaga

Yummy, sweet rutabaga…how I love thee. Usually I hear mass rebellion at the presence of rutabaga at our table so I don’t serve it often. I decided to go “old school” and boil and mash it but with the twist of real Canadian maple syrup and ghee added instead of butter and brown sugar as my mom prepares it. The kids decided that rutabaga can be delicious so I will no longer have the entire bowl to myself. For this, I am grateful.

Homemade Stuffing

Of course the recipe for stuffing that I have made in the past that I love had conveniently disappeared right before I needed it, so I had to wing it. A loaf of crusty, day old bread was ripped into bite-sized pieces and put into a 13 x 9 Pyrex dish. In a frying pan I sautéed cubed celery and onion until translucent then poured them over the bread.  I also added in herbs (dried thyme, marjoram,  as well as fresh chopped rosemary) , one egg, salt/pepper and some hot stock until it seemed moist but not sloppy and drowned. Stir everything around gently so the bread doesn’t turn into mush. The pan was covered with foil and put in the oven at 350*F for about 40 minutes. I then took off the foil to crisp the stuffing slightly for another 20 minutes or so. Watch that it doesn’t burn.

Vegetarian Gravy

Sometimes I add onions or mushrooms to gravy but I opted for no-fuss good old plain gravy that is certainly not boring. I start with either coconut oil or ghee and add about a tablespoon of quinoa flour into the hot pan and stir so as to not burn the flour. Once the flour starts to colour slightly, I add about 2 cups of vegetarian stock and stir with a whisk to remove any lumps. Stir until the gravy thickens. Voila…easy homemade gravy!

Herb Roasted Chicken

After acquiring a whole chicken, which wasn’t an easy task at a time when turkeys are all the rage. I am rather squeamish when it comes to dead animals so this was the tricky part for me. The bird was rinsed under running water then a mixture of dried herbs (fresh lemon thyme and rosemary), about four slices of lemon, and a couple of cloves of garlic were put into the cavity. I brushed melted butter oven the outside of the chicken for an extra layer of flavour. The chicken was lovingly placed into my cast iron casserole with lid and placed into the oven at 350*F for about and hour and 20 minutes. I had to hunt down the proper amount of time for cooking a whole chicken since it is not something I do regularly. I learned that a chicken needs to be cooked for 20 minutes per pound for a perfect roast chicken.  After the allotted cooking time, I removed the lid of the casserole dish to brown the skin slightly. The house was really smelling amazing at this point.

Vegetarian Baked Beans

After reading a fantastic post with a recipe for homemade baked beans by a fellow blogger, I knew I had to try her recipe. Wow, I’m so glad I did! It was scrumptious! You can check out her recipe here: Homemade Baked Beans.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

This was another “first time” recipe for me and I am so glad I decided to give it a try! It was excellent and has already claimed a place in our Thanksgiving meal for next year. I highly recommend this recipe – Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie.

Real Whipped Cream Sweetened with Maple Syrup

Is there anything more nostalgic than pumpkin pie and whipped cream when it comes to Thanksgiving? Not in my mind there isn’t. To make my life easier I always use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to do whipped cream. This way I can do my usual ten other things while the cream is being fluffed full of air. Pour the whipping cream into the mixing bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of real maple syrup (no fake maple-flavored crap here)  to the cream as well as about a half teaspoon of real vanilla extract then turn on the mixer and leave your hands free for other tasks. Once the whipped cream is the desired thickness turn off and place in a bowl for those around your table to serve themselves their desired amount instead of dolloping it on top of the whole pie before serving. I find the amount of whipped cream varies from person to person so allowing others to do their own is not only fun for the kids but for the adults too.

I have always found it curious that Canadian and American Thanksgiving celebrations are so far apart on the calendar.  I am looking forward to hearing how our friends to the South celebrate their Thanksgiving once it rolls around.


“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” ~Voltaire