Friday, 30 September 2016

It may be junk to you, but it's not junk to me!

This summer, we had a little weekend getaway in Kingston, Ontario. During our last day, we visited Fort Henry and stopped in at their gift shop. Like a typical kid, my daughter kept asking for this and that. There was no real rhyme or reason for her requests other than she just wanted something. Anything.

At one point, I got a little impatient with her and said that I wasn't about to waste money on junk, something that she'll just discard in a few months, or maybe even in just a few days. (The item in question was a small plush toy goat.)

Well that's when she freaked out and yelled at me "I'm so sick of you saying these things are junk. They may be junk to you, but they're not junk to me!"

In all fairness, my daughter has a greater challenge controlling her emotions than the average kid and tends to overreact at first when things don't go her way. She's working on it. And although these reactions are often very unpleasant, I really admire the fact that she can speak her mind.

While it may be true that junk for me might be treasure for her or another person, I'm the parent. While she's in my house and I'm paying for her things, I will not be contributing to acquiring these types treasures. If they mean so much to her, then it's up to her to earn or save up the money and pay for them herself.

I've often acquiesced to her requests only to end up utterly frustrated and insulted to find the so called treasure destroyed because it had been lying on the floor and was stepped on, or crushed by another so called treasure.

While I do like making her happy, part of my job as a parent is to teach her what I think is right. At the moment, I think that spending money on necessities and experiences is much better than spending it on transient treasures.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Doing a second round of Whole30... again - the deets

As I was writing my other post about my second Whole30, I realized that some of you may just want my thoughts and feelings about going through another Whole30, while others might want the bite by bite of this journey. So for the bite by bite people, this is for you. The follow-up to Doing a second round of Whole30... again:

Day 1
Breakfast: 2 hardboiled eggs, mixed nuts, a banana and a black coffee
Lunch: leftover steak, potatoes and broccoli, and a few pieces of orange bell pepper and four cherry tomatoes from our garden that were sitting on the counter, all fried up in ghee and topped with an egg over easy, an apple and water
Supper: barbecued chicken with homemade ranch mayonnaise for dipping, roasted vegetables, olives, grapes, and water with leftover juice from the lemon that I used to make the mayonnaise. 

Day 2
Breakfast: omelet made with leftover roasted vegetables cooked in ghee, cucumber, two clementines and a black coffee
Lunch: leftover barbecued chicken with spaghetti sauce over zoodles, a banana, an apple and water.
Supper: pork chops with hot sauce for dipping, steamed green beans and boiled potatoes with ghee, salt and pepper, fresh strawberries and grape kambucha.
Evening snack: a handful of raisins. Probably not the best decision, but better than quitting.

Day 3
Breakfast: two scrambled eggs with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder, fresh green beans, cashews, a banana and a black coffee
Lunch: leftover pork chops and potatoes, fresh green beans and cucumbers, strawberries, and water
Supper: I just heated up some homemade spaghetti sauce and had it over zoodles with a handful of olives and the rest of my grape kambucha.
Evening snack: a handful of raisins.

Day 4
Breakfast: microwaved two apples with coconut oil, cinnamon and nutmeg, added a blob of almond butter, with a coffee
Lunch: leftover barbecued chicken breast, ranch mayonnaise, green beans, a cucumber and a banana
Supper: zucchini and red bell pepper omelet

Day 5
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, mixed nuts, banana and black coffee
Lunch: a ready-made salad that I didn't finish because I didn't like it, a bowl of mixed fruit (strawberries, kiwis and pineapple), and a Larabar
Supper: Mild Italian pork sausage with raw green beans and carrots, sour dill pickles and grape kambucha

Day 6
Breakfast: Red pepper, zucchini and shallots omelet, fresh strawberries (they were soooo good!!)
Lunch: Zoodles and carrotles with shrimp in a teriyaki sauce, and a glass of grape kambucha.
Supper: An extremely delicious filet mignon, roasted potatoes, zucchini, orange bell peppers and onions, and for desert, a big bowl of mixed berries and a tea.

Day 7
Breakfast: apple microwaved in coconut oil with cinnamon and nutmeg, two small leftover pork chops, scrambled eggs and a black coffee
Lunch: pistachios and a bowl of mixed berries. I had to run errands and I didn't plan out my meals well enough. But I survived.
Supper: hamburger patty topped with homemade barbecue sauce, fried onions and mushrooms, a tomato, on a romaine lettuce leaves "bun".

Day 8
Breakfast: leftover hamburger patty with leftover roasted vegetables fried up in ghee and topped with an egg, a black coffee and water
Lunch: Three chicken drumsticks and about three cups of vegetables and fruit.
Supper: Mild Italian pork sausage with vegetables, a glass of grape kambucha, and a Larabar

Day 9
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, a couple of apples cooked in coconut oil with cinnamon and nutmeg, and an herbal tea
Lunch: Leftover barbecued Italian pork sausage, raw cauliflower and broccoli, a nectarine
Snack: an apple and a handful of cashews
Supper: Barbecued chicken breast, baked potato medallions, raw green beans, pickles, grape kambucha, and a clementine for desert.

Day 10
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs topped with an apple cooked in coconut oil with cinnamon and nutmeg, and a black coffee
Lunch: Leftover barbecued Italian pork sausage, raw cauliflower, broccoli and radishes, grapes, and a nectarine
Supper: Stir-fried shrimp with zoodles, carrotles, red and yellow bell peppers, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, in a teriyaki sauce, with a glass of grape kambucha

Day 11
Breakfast: Three deviled eggs made with homemade mayonnaise, a clementine and a black coffee
Lunch: Three chicken drumsticks, raw cauliflower, broccoli and radishes, grapes
Supper: Fast fry pork chops, baked potato medallions, carrots, cauliflower, grape kambucha

So I guess it's kind of a boring post. Just details of what I ate. But here are two of my favourite recipes to make this post a bit more interesting:


Microwaved "baked" apples

This is very tasty. It tastes like apple pie without the crust and all the sugar. I find that apples are sweet enough when they're heated up. This is a recipe I found online somewhere.

1 large apple, chopped into bite-sized pieces - you can either peel it or not. Totally up to you.
1 tsp of coconut oil
cinnamon, to taste
dash of nutmeg
Microwave safe bowl with a lid (you can use a plate as a lid)

Heat up the coconut oil in the microwave safe bowl for 15 seconds. Add in the apple and spices. Mix to cover apple with coconut oil and spices. Microwave for about 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Use oven mitts or a dish towel to remove the container from the microwave, it will be very hot! Let cool down a little and enjoy!

Sometimes, I add a big tablespoon of almond butter for a little extra protein. Heating up the almond butter along with the mixture makes it a little smoother to eat.


Simple oven baked chicken drumsticks

Chicken drumsticks - as many as you'd like. I like making extra to eat cold for my lunches.
Avocado (or olive) oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. Put all of your chicken drumsticks in a large bowl. Drizzle oil over the drumsticks and toss them around to make sure they're well coated. Place the drumsticks on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Make sure the drumsticks are not touching each other. Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Turn drumsticks over and return to the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes until done.

You can either eat them right away, but they also taste great cold.


I found that the tastiest meals were often the most simple. So if you're doing a Whole30 or plan on trying it out, keep it simple. It makes things easier and often tastier.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Doing a second round of Whole30... again

Sorry for not posting at my usual time. It was a busy week this week and I didn't get around to finishing my post until now.

This is going to be a fairly long post.

A diet consisting of simple foods totally falls in with a minimalist lifestyle. At least, in my opinion. Simple healthy ingredients lead to a healthy body and mind, which helps in living a simple life. Truly living life.

I’ve been a little quiet about it, but I’ve started another Whole30. So far I haven’t been able to successfully complete a second round. But this time is going to be different... I hope!

Why do I want to do another Whole30? Because I want to be healthier. I’m (was) in constant pain. Some days are (were) worse than others. It’s tiring! And I know it’s all food related because many of these issues were gone during my first Whole30, and for a few months after that.

But now that my habits and weight are pretty much where they were before my first Whole30, all of these issues are back. Heartburn. Joint pain. Headaches. Shortness of breath. Issues with my sinuses. Feeling lethargic. I’m so over it!

Another reason to do another Whole30 and get back on track is: I want to be able to do tons of activities with Mr. Romantic and be able to keep up with him. Truly live my life with him. I’ve finally found someone who enjoys all of the same activities I do. Camping. Hiking. Traveling. Walking. Canoeing. Museums. Wandering the city on foot... All of those activities require much energy and stamina.

We have a trip to Europe planned for next spring (which I plan on packing just a carry-on for... but that's for another post). I know we’ll do a great deal of walking. I certainly want to be able to keep up in Europe!

So this is my mid-way-ish report to you. I’ll give you another update at the end.

Day 1
We had a very late supper Monday night. I am so grateful that Mr. Romantic and my daughter helped me prepare our meal. They’re not doing a full Whole30 like I am, but they’ve agreed that for the meals we share, they’ll eat the same thing as me. If it wasn’t for their help Monday night, I probably would have given up right away. I was tired and a little overwhelmed thinking "what have I gotten myself into again?".

Day 2
I woke up with a terrible headache. I know it’s normal, but man it’s rough! I felt a lot of pressure in my sinuses and my body ached a little. Just goes to show me how poor my food choices have been. This reset will be good for me!

Day 3
No headache this morning, but I was feeling quite moody. I wish I could've stayed in bed all day and avoided people. I was totally feeling the "kill all the things" part of the journey.

Day 4
I was feeling kind of blah in the morning. But after getting to work, I noticed that my butt wasn't hurting anymore. I was thrilled!!

OK, let me explain. Back in March 2015, I had fallen down the stairs on my butt. The first month after that I was in excruciating pain! I'd been hurting ever since. Sitting and getting up hurt me terribly. Some days were worse than others.

But on the morning of day 4, when I got up from my uncomfortable office chair, I realized that the pain was gone! I had been living with it for about 1 year and 5 months. I'm finally free from the pain in my butt! Literally!

Some skeptics might not attribute this to the Whole30, but I don't know what else it could be. I used to hurt every day and no amount of anti-inflammatory medication would help.

Day 5
I was exhausted today, but felt very mellow. I didn't bring a breakfast or lunch to work. I decided I'd wing it. Bad decision! For a smoother Whole30, you MUST prepare. I know this! From now on, I shall do this.

Day 6
I found a compliant teriyaki sauce from Coconut Secrets and made myself a very tasty lunch. Then I was off to spend the afternoon and evening with my mom. We had a compliant supper there too. I like when my loved ones support me that way. I also like when they have a Whole30 compliant meal and they rave about it. You don't have to do a Whole30 to eat Whole30 compliant.

Day 7
I'm not exactly sure how I did it, but I woke up with an extremely painful back. My movements were limited. However, I still had to go do groceries and prepare food for the week. I was NOT going to have another day 5!

I did prepare food. Slowly. I prepared 3 meals worth of chicken drumsticks and cut up cauliflower, broccoli and radishes. I made 13 hamburger patties - some we ate for dinner, some we froze individually for later. I also made barbecue sauce. I was happy with how well it turned out. It might be slightly too spicy for me and my family, but in small quantities, it was quite tasty on my burger.

Day 8
I was happy that my back wasn't as sore as yesterday. My evening schedule got changed at the last minute which meant that I was going to have a very late supper. I didn't have anything to snack on. My daughter asked for drive-through fast food. I got it for her and she ate it in the car. The smell was kind of hard to resist. But I did!

When I got home fairly late, Mr. Romantic barbecued Italian sausage for me for my supper. He's so wonderful! Support like this totally makes a difference!

Day 9
As I was Instagramming my breakfast, I had to count to figure out what day I was at. Seems like this time around, I'm not so concerned with the days. It doesn't mean that cravings aren't strong. They are. But the food is soooo good, it's totally helping me get over it. I think I'm calmer about it this time also. I hadn't forgotten the lessons I learned last time. And let's not forget the incredible support I'm getting at home! :)

During the afternoon, a couple of my work colleagues suggested that we go out for lunch in my honour because I'm changing jobs as of October 3rd. That means a restaurant. I declined and explained I was on a Whole30. "You can take a break from it for one meal!" "No! Then I'd have to start up again at day 1" "Then start up at day 1." They said I was being difficult. I get it though. I've been working with these people for nine years and now I'm leaving. They like me. I like them. They want to give me a good send off. So I seriously considered quitting the Whole30 and starting up again. But then I started feeling bummed out about quitting. I'm actually enjoying Whole30 this time around. I don't want to stop yet. My body is already feeling better. I don't want to give that up. Not even for a farewell meal.

So I researched and researched and researched nearby restaurants to see if any one of them would have something on their menu that would require little intervention on my part and I finally found a place. So I got back to one of these friends and let him know that this restaurant would be acceptable. So he said he'd arrange something for next week - my last week. It may not happen, but at least they know what restaurant to take me to if they so choose.

Day 10
Yesterday we had a very late supper! Which is less than ideal when you have young children that have an early bedtime. So to make up for it, tonight we had leftovers. We have leftover burgers, Italian sausages, barbecued chicken, and cheese baked macaroni (not Whole30, but it was a meal Mr. Romantic and the kids had at some point this week when I was home late). So there's more than enough options for everyone to be happy. Yay for making extra food! :)

Day 11
Nothing specific to mention today. Feeling pretty neutral.

More
So for those of you who like the details of exactly what I ate and stuff, I'll be breaking my once a week post rule and writing a second post either today or tomorrow. So be sure to check out "Doing a second round of Whole30... again - the deets".



Friday, 16 September 2016

It happened again...

I've moved!

Yep, you read that right. I haven't been enjoying the condo. Although I love the commute, the things I don't like about the condo couldn't easily be changed.

I did what I could with the space I had. Like when I added the island to give me more prep space in the kitchen. That was working out well. And the noisy-in-the-middle-of-the-night neighbour had quieted down after a couple of complaints to the superintendent.

However, there's nothing I could do about the extremely loud and inefficient furnace/air conditioning unit (which I blame, along with the old windows and patio doors, for the unreasonably high hydro bills for such a small apartment), the poorly designed bathroom, and the noisy city neighbourhood.

I tried to live with it, but found that the combination of all these issues frustrated me too much. I want to feel calm and happy in my home.

But really, the best reason for moving was that Mr. Romantic and I decided to live together. So it's back to the suburbs for me.

I know, I know, I knocked the suburbs before. But there are some advantages to being out in the burbs.

It's much quieter than the city. If I can, I prefer sleeping with the windows open to let in the night air. In the city, that night air is quite noisy. Not very restful. In the suburbs, at least at Mr. Romantic's house, it's all birds, frogs, coyotes and crickets. Once in a while you'll hear teenagers out in the woods at night. But that doesn't happen too often. Also, logistically it made more sense for me to move to the suburbs for now since Mr. Romantic has shared custody of his young school-aged children. Perhaps, once all of the kids are older and have moved out, Mr. Romantic and I will be looking downtown for a new place. Or maybe even in another city, or even another country. Who knows!

Anyway, I was determined to beat moving. It's had the better of me in the past. For some reason I'd think I was ahead of the game only to find myself scrambling to finish moving my stuff last minute over a few days. I didn't want to go through that this time. I wanted everything packed and ready before the movers showed up and have them take care of moving everything.

I had even less stuff to move this time around, which was fantastic! If you've been reading my blog, you know I've gotten rid of even more things since my move to the condo back in September 2015.

Well, I still have a few things in the condo, but much less than I’ve had in the past. I have until tomorrow to move the rest of my things. I made the decision during the summer to live and put off some of the moving preparation I needed to do. For me, my fantastic summer was totally worth it!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Hold your horses

It's easy to get caught up in acquiring things when you get into a new activity. Especially when it's one you really enjoy.

I've recently discovered that I love camping! I love being out in the woods with Mr. Romantic. That being said, I also like convenience and comfort, as most people do I'm sure.

While on our first camping trip in July, I made a list of things we should have while camping (such as particular items of clothing, kitchen utensils, etc.), and a list of nice-to-haves for camping that we might acquire over time (you know, luxuries, like a bigger tent).

Then, Mr. Romantic and I planned a second camping trip at the end of August. This time, it was with my daughter and her friend. So a couple of weekends before the trip, we went to look at camping gear that we might want for a more comfortable experience, especially since it would be with more people.

Have you ever walked through a camping equipment section of sport-supplies retailers? They have things for needs you didn't even know you had! It was exciting to see all this cool shinny new gear just waiting to be acquired.

Let's face it, even though we could argue that they're good for your mental and physical well being, camping and other pass-times are not necessities, they're wants. So anything you buy that relates to those activities are all wants. For example, you don't need a tent for camping, but it's sure nice to have that bit of privacy and shelter.

Luckily, Mr. Romantic and I are a very good team. When I start to feel tempted to buy something, he challenges me on it. When he starts to get tempted, I do the same to him. Even though we did end up buying a few things (like a sleeping mat and a kitchen tent), we actually talked ourselves out of quite a few purchases.

I'm a passionate person. I can easily get carried away. I know this about myself. If you were to hear me talk about all the plans and ideas about what I want to get for camping, you'd never know I've been trying to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Now that I have a second camping trip under my belt, (which totally makes me a camping expert, right?), I have advice on how not to go overboard.

Reality check

I try to be honest with myself. Will I really need and use the item, or do I just want to get it because it's pretty or cool? There are some very nifty gadgets out there. It's easy to be seduced.

Space

Do I have enough room in my home to store it, or in my vehicle to bring it along? I have a small car. So we have to be very conservative with the amount of stuff we decide to bring along.

Alternative

Can I use something else? Do I already own something that I could use instead? For instance, Mr. Romantic was thinking about getting another set of camping utensils for our August camping trip since there was going to be four of us. He has three sets. One for him and one for each of his kids. So as we were standing there in front of the utensils discussing it, we talked him down from the purchase. We made due with a set of our everyday kitchen utensils.

Borrow

If there's something I've been thinking about buying, maybe I can borrow it from someone first. I might find I actually don't really want or need it. For instance, I thought I wanted a much bigger tent for camping. So we borrowed one. Turns out I don't especially like a bigger tent. I think that if I can find one I can stand up in, that would be good enough for me. In the meantime, we can use the smaller one Mr. Romantic already owns.

We also borrowed a couple of inflatable kayaks. I’m glad we did. I was looking into buying one, but we figured out that we don't really enjoy them. Mr. Romantic has rented a canoe in the past and the company delivers it to the campsite and picks it up after the rental period. That seems like a less expensive and less cumbersome solution to me. No need to spend money on buying a canoe and no need to find a spot to store it when not in use.

More advice that would fall under the “borrow” category: A few years ago, Mr. Romantic wanted to get back into camping. However, he didn’t have any camping gear. He also doesn’t drive. So he researched and found Park Bus which would take him from Ottawa to Algonquin Park. So that took care of the transportation part, but not the gear. So after more research, he found Overhang Adventures which offer their services as camping guides and teachers. They provide you with the food and gear you’ll need for camping, and teach you how to use it. It’s a good way of finding out if you actually would like the activity without investing in gear that may be unnecessary. Especially if you find that you actually don’t really like camping. Camping gear can be quite expensive!

Affordability

Can I afford it? If I have to buy it on credit, perhaps I should make due without it for now.

Sleep on it

By taking some distance and time, I usually get a better perspective on whether to purchase the item or not.

Of course, these are all things you can consider before acquiring anything, really. Not just camping gear. Been thinking about getting a blender? Borrow one. Chances are you probably know someone who has one sitting in their cupboard, unused. Perhaps they can lend it to you for a month or so. See if you’d really use it often enough to justify the purchase.

So there you have it. Before jumping in, consumerist-feet first, hold your horses and take the time to really evaluate your possible acquisition.

Friday, 2 September 2016

What happened

Hi! I hope you've been enjoying your summer!

I must say, it was nice taking a couple of months off from blogging. Even though I love writing, I haven't taken much time to write during the summer. I've spent most of my time living and preparing. It's been somewhat of a busy time for me.

We had family barbecues. We took a family day-trip to Upper Canada Village, another to the MacKenzie King Estate, and one to Britannia Beach. My mom, my daughter, Mr. Romantic and I had a weekend in Kingston where we visited Fort Henry, took a boat cruise, and visited Boldt Castle. I painted my daughter's new closet and changed the flooring.

Mr. Romantic and I went to see movies, spent time out on patios, took walks and hikes, and had a last minute camping trip to Kearney Lake in Algonquin Park in July. It was my first time camping since I was a kid. I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much that we went on a second camping trip last weekend to end off summer and we invited my daughter and her friend to come along with us. One beautiful and clear night on that last camping trip, Mr. Romantic and I took a walk to the beach to go look at the stars. I'd never seen so many! Breathtaking!

It's good to take a break once in a while, even from something you truly enjoy. You come back refreshed and, in my case, inspired. I've been contemplating taking on a new creative writing project that I'd be starting in the next few months. Maybe for 2017.

Throughout all of this, I've also been planning a move. Yes, that's right – I'm moving again. I'll tell you more about it in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here are a few images from my time off.

This was our Kearny Lake camping site backyard in July.
Swimming in Kearny Lake made me feel as happy as I used to feel swimming at the cottage as a kid.
Boldt Castle
On of the MacKenzie King Estate buildings
The kids swimming at Britannia Beach
My campfire from my last camping trip

I really hope you were also able to have fun and recharge this summer!