29 June 2011

 Pick your battles.....

Ruby is not amused by my heels
So I'll be honest - last week had some ups and downs.  It's never easy to see something end, even when you know it's the right thing to do.  As much as I never imagined this day, I know that T is not the same man I married and that we can never go back to the way things were.  I know that this is the path I'm meant to follow and I feel genuinely happy to know new adventures lie ahead.  


That said, life kinda punched me in the gut this week after the customs agent made me cry.  Then once I got up the gumption to start unpacking the first box only to find two GIANT framed wedding photos - Seriously universe??? I then moved on to my bins of clothing & shoes which made me feel infinitely better!! I just felt like shouting welcome home kids!! I'm about at least 75% of the way through the bins so it's starting to look less chaotic in here.  I've registered for the Warrior Dash in Michigan in a few weeks time so I'm choosing to look at this week's attempt to navigate through the mess as practice for the obstacle course that lies ahead of me! t! Although luckily there is no barbed wire to crawl under or fire to jump in my living or dining room - not yet anyhoooo... I do bruise easily so my legs are close to polka dotted at this point and likely after the dash it won't be a pretty sight! It's a bit slow going in that while unpacking clothing I often stop to try on outfits and/or prance around in my leopard heels... 


The lesson of the week was taught to me by a chicken named Beyonce - if anyone out there shares my wacky sense of humor you will enjoy linking through to this blog post which literally had me crying and holding my gut laughing so hard.  Perhaps had I had children by now I would tell you I peed my pants but luckily I'm still good on that front! If you are sad in any way this should cheer you up.  If you are looking for a good anniversary gift, this may also bring you some guidance.  And if you are just a plain old weirdo like me, it will bring you a good ol' gut-busting, laugh-out-loud moment and will hopefully make your day.  Enjoy :) 

24 June 2011

Theme Song

So... those of you who have been my friend for anytime in the past few decades will likely have received a little gift that I like to call "The Master Mix".  They started off as cassettes and moved to CD's.  They were compilations of songs that spoke to me at that point in my life, songs from prom, songs that were on the radio when we were driving around like geeks at 16, songs from our weddings, songs about love and friendship, beginnings and endings.  There were the high school volumes.  Then "The Goodbye Salute" when I move away to University.  There was Master Mix "Till Death Do Us Part" celebrating marriages which lead to a 2-volume CD mix of "Push It" & "Get Your Sleep Now" honouring the births of friends children.  I usually have a 'theme-song' for each road trip or vacation and songs that bring me back to specific special moments or remind me of special people.  All of this is quite ironic because although I like to compile these mixes - rarely do I actually know anything about music.  I don't know new bands, I don't know who sings what and rarely do I actually get the title of the song correct.  And yes, much to Mary's scorn I did in fact once ask her "What is a Coldplay?" (In my defense it was before they were actually on the radio!) 


This brings me to the other day when one of my BFF's was all riled up and decided that she had found a divorce theme song for me! I love it and I love her and ironically after I pulled out of the warehouse the other day after claiming all of my belongings and packing into a cube van, that very song came on the radio.  Through all of this I realize over and over again just how blessed I am for the people that do love me, the people who have been in my life forever and who I know will always continue to be at my side.  It is a goodbye but it's also a new beginning and I tend to look at the glass as 1/2 full.  Like yet another quote I found the other day "There is nothing wrong. There is simply what is, and what you choose to make of it." This is my life - though not what I ever envisioned- and my choice is only now what I make of it and how I move forward.  So...that said, I think it's time for a new Master Mix - I'm taking suggestions for songs and a title and if you're lucky I'll make you a CD! 

My life in Rubbermaid....

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

‎My life, securely packed in various rubbermaid bins and boxes, arrived back in Windsor today.  Swiftly unpacked from the cube van to my living and dining rooms in about 13 minutes between three of us.  Funny it seemed like a lot more when I was packing it all up back in February but maybe that was because of all the memories I packed along with "the stuff".  I've talked about "the stuff" on here before - somewhere among this pile are summer clothes and shoes which may be the first box to be unpacked if I can find it.  There are dishes and artwork, my bike, my sewing maching, Nanna's chair, tons and tons of books.  So now that "the stuff" is here I guess I can get settled.  Good feelings, weird feelings, sad feelings - all mixed together.  It's nice to have my own comforts and things to settle in with.  It's weird that it's all here - I feel like I just did this 2 years ago...oh wait, I did.... I don't know if I'm ready to unpack everything just yet.  It's sad to think that it is now definitely over - even if I knew it before - now that all this is here there is no turning back.  Which kinda sucks but deep down I know it's right and I'm at peace with it.  Like the quotes says above - it's not what lies before us or behind us, it's what is within us that matters.  Yes the past shapes us and teaches us lessons that we use going forward and we can never know what lies before us but just move ahead in faith, knowing that we are walking the right path because within us is enough gumption to carry us through.  

19 June 2011

Happy Daddy's Day

Yes I am daddy's little girl and I'm proud of it! I have great memories of riding down to the river with my dad, in the seat on the back of the bike, every Saturday morning before the rest of the house was up.  We'd get to right under the bridge and he'd let me have a coffee crisp bar for breakfast.  I remember always fitting under his arm when sitting in the pew at church on Sunday mornings where I would usually have a fainting spell due to my low blood sugar and never being ready for breakfast before we left for mass.  My dad would cook weekend breakfast of pancakes and would always do our initials plus whatever other odd shaped animal he could conjure up.  I remember watching Magnum PI and MacGyver with mon pere - he's the one who taught me to always have a roll of duct tape with me because you just never know when you would need it.  When it was time for me to move home from University it was my dad and I who expertly packed the truck each year - and then we'd blast Bob Segar so loud from the radio and sing at the top of our lungs as we headed towards home.  Though he has his own "unique" ways of doing things and projects usually take a bit longer to complete than you'd like, you gotta love the guy! And to quote one of the father's day cards that he kept from when I was a kid "I love my dad 3000 feet high and 3000 feet wide.  He's a good dad, if you need one." 


So in honour of Father's Day today, I of course was in charge of dessert and tried out yet a new recipe for carrot cake (at the request of my mother who was craving it!) It was quite delicious and though I made the icing a bit runny it did fall over the sides in a lovely way that each slice was nicely coated! Here's the deets.... 


preheat oven to 325 degrees 
3 cup almond flour 
1 tsp sea salt 
1 tbsp cinnamon 
1 tbsp nutmeg (I omitted and just did 1.5 tbsp cinnamon) 

(Mix these together in large bowl and set aside) 


In small bowl, whisk together
5 eggs 
1/4 cup grapeseed oil 
1/2 cup agave nectar 


Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well blended.  
Fold in 3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts  
1 cup shredded coconut (I subbed this for raisins as I don't think they belong in dessert) 
Turn into two greased 9" round pans and bake for 30-35 min. Cool in pans for 1 hour.  


Icing 
1 pkg softened cream cheese 
1 sml container greek yogurt with honey 
quick pour of maple syrup 
quick pour of milk as needed... 


Ice and enjoy!! 

18 June 2011

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cake

So Thursday was my mom's birthday - her and my dad went away for the week so we surprised her with a birthday dinner at their favourite Chinese restaurant when they returned. It was fun and simple and she had no clue so was a nice surprise. I made the cake - any excuse to bake!! I tried to take a photo of it when it was all iced and none turned out unfortunately....I made two layers and iced with chocolate icing and topped with strawberries and shaved dark chocolate.  

The recipe is very simple, gluten-free and high in protein.  
3 cups almond flour (ground almonds) 
1/4 cup grapeseed oil 
1/4 cup agave nectar 
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda 
3 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla 
2-3 ripe, mashed bananas 
1 cup chopped dark chocolate 

Preheat oven to 350.  In bowl mix flour, salt & baking soda.  In another bowl mix grapeseed oil, agave, eggs and vanilla. Add in to the dry ingredients until blended. Fold in bananas and then chocolate chips.  Pour into pans - I used two 8" round but you could do a 9"square or loaf pan too.  Bake for 30-35 until pick comes out clean. 

16 June 2011

perspective

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall" 

I keep coming back to this quote time and again.  Yesterday - not the best of days but today I am trying to find perspective and move forward and rise again.  I suppose I shouldn't look at bad days in the view of falling but I am just trying to be conscious about accepting my current situation with openness, respect and courage.  I know every day won't be easy and there will be those days, like yesterday, where I felt down and sad and defeated.  It is not the falling that we should be ashamed of, it is the ability to pick ourselves up, hold our head up high and look at each new day as a new chance to be happy that we should be proud of.  There are just some things that hurt more than others and disrespect is one of those things to me.  Unfortunately, that was how I felt yesterday.  That my feelings weren't taken into consideration and that I was not treated with the respect that I try to show to others.  I know I can't change people and I can't wish for others to have the same perspective as me and with that I woke this morning determined to see it for what it was - a new day.  A new chance to be happy and to rise again.  

I know it's up to me - my happiness is not for someone else to bestow on me but for me to search out on my own.  I can't control how others treat me but I can be respectful of myself and put myself first.  Sure yesterday I felt pretty blue but in the grand scheme of things I wasn't physically hurt, I am not fighting a life-threatening disease, I didn't hurt anyone else out of spite, and it's not something that I can't recover from.  It was just a bad day and today is a brand new day full of infinite possibility.  Plus cake batter ice cream really helps....

15 June 2011

noweatingoutforone....

here is a snapshot of my lovely weekend in the big smoke

Pre-dinner cheese party.... Cheese heaven @ the cheese monger

Part of a lovely dinner at Giancarlo on College street - Shrimp with rapini and lentils   
Juevos Rancheros - brunch with Ana & Gavin

Girls lunch in Yorkville - Spinach salad with blueberries, goat cheese & walnuts 


 Did I mention as much as I love to cook, I also love to be cooked for??

Roots & Wings

Sometimes I feel like those words describe me to a tee.  I love home - the city I grew up in - but I love it because it's where my peeps are.  My bff's live here, my family, my roots.  However I knew at 18 that I didn't want to live here forever and so I moved to Ottawa to pursue my education and spread my wings.  I came home for a year to pursue a second degree in a fast track program after University and then I was off again to Toronto.  I worked there, met the man who would become my husband who then convinced me that if we were to marry, we'd need to live in the same city so home I went.  Lived there for 5 years and then the itch came again - time to spread the wings again.  We then hatched our plan to move to Finland and a year later we were off! So two years later...here I am, home again.  Back here where everyone knows me.  Where I have to rehash the fact my marriage didn't work to people everyday.  Where people are confused and ask me "didn't you move away? what are you doing back here?" And in my head I am often asking myself the same question! What AM I doing back here? 

Again, I love being back in my store and I love seeing all my friends whenever I want but that really isn't that often since everyone is busy with their own life, husbands, kids, jobs.  I like that I can walk over to my sisters or celebrate holidays with the family but....I don't know how to properly explain it.  I'm back to a place in my life where I'm single again, and I don't know that the dating pool here has any fish in it for me.  Everything reminds me of things I did with my husband so how does that help me move past things?  Like I said all (ok 99%) of my friends here are married with families or kids on the way and it just reminds me that what was my life is now so completely different.  I do love being an entrepreneur but it's really hard to do on your own and I'm tempted to go back corporate for the idea of a salary and benefits and not worrying about cash flow day in and day out. I'm not going to lie - this past weekend in Toronto really makes me think about where I want to be.  I'm not saying that I will go back (ie: mom don't have a heart attack if you are reading this) but it does stir the thoughts in my head.  Am I ready to settle back in to life here at home just because it's safe and it's what other people want me to do? Would moving back to the city be running away from the memories here or just a continuation of the life I wanted from many years back? Perhaps it's not the best time to make major choices in life as things are still so in flux but it is a good time to start thinking about them.  If I'm starting my life over, what do I want? I've learned from all of this that I have to think about me above all because I'm responsible for my happiness.  I've also learned not to compromise on certain things but that's a whole other story! 

So here I am at the crossroads....can I have roots and wings? 

08 June 2011

Table of 8

So typically I don't open email "forwards" - lol especially the ones that come from my mom or my aunt because well there are so many and I don't usually believe in the "luck" attached to sending them onwards.  Really the only chain letter I've participated in was one where you forwarded recipes and nothing was promised or threatened except for the possibility of trying out some new cool dishes.   Anyway, I did open the one this morning entitled Table of 8 which asked which eight ladies in your life that you would love to have seated all together at one table.  It's hard to choose but there would most certainly be a mixture of family and friends and if I could really choose I'd include my Nonna who was probably one of the most influential women in my life to date.  As a part of the email was the following quotation and to be honest it really spoke to me.  

"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us." 

Later on my way home from work while chatting with a friend, she told me that she was very proud of me which of course brought a little tear to my eye.  She simply said that she felt that I was living the life I am meant to be living and even with all the changes that she can see that there is still a happiness in me and that it's shining through.  I have to say that I do, at this moment, feel very at peace with myself and my life.  It's an ending but also a new beginning full of possibility - the possibility of new love, new relationships and new adventures.  I do believe that I am exactly where I am meant to be right now - loved by amazing friends and family, running my own business and taking care of myself.  Today is a wonderful day.  

05 June 2011

You can have your kettlecorn & eat it too....




This beautiful Sunday morning found me taking my lovely new polka dot running skirt out for a loop along Riverside Drive.  This was the skirt that I was supposed to wear in Kalamazoo that never arrived in time.  Days are now HOT here so I'm trying to be out the door by 7:30 at the latest in order to still log some serious miles and not seriously dehydrate.  That said I also try to make it out before the sun is too high to tan my lovely Italian skin.  I'm already showing signs of sock, sleeve and arm band tan lines which are not pretty and not what I want to rock this summer. 


 

After heading in to the store for a few hours, I was lucky to enjoy a stroll through the annual Art in the Park festival at Willestead Manor with Jeanine & my sis.  At which I purchased no art but I did load up on Kettlecorn, Roasted Soy Nuts, Jalapeno Cashews and a Pillow Sham with a giant "L" on it.  I think I made out pretty good.  So after meeting up with friends in the food & drink area, we cracked open the corn & indulged - proving that you can have your kettlecorn & eat it too.  A perfect, sunshiney Sunday! 

04 June 2011

Dreamin'

"That big dream wouldn't have been placed inside you, if you didn't have the capacity to achieve it."

I'm lucky.  I'm blessed.  I'm thankful.  
My parents always told me I could do anything and gave me the confidence to try.  To my own detriment, I rarely give in on a dare.  I often embarrass myself (ie: fall down as I'm pretty clumsy!) or end up laughing at myself which is good because you shouldn't take yourself too seriously.  I'm Southern Italian outspoken and love a challenge. Perhaps why I submit my bodies to run 1/2 marathons over and over again.  I know that within me in an unstoppable spirit.  

Four and a half years ago when the economy tanked and most of us middle managers in the public relations and marketing field were the first to be laid off, I found myself at a career cross roads.  I had moved back to Windsor from Toronto just a few years earlier and so the jobs in my field were already few and far between.  I found myself looking within and and wondering what I wanted to do and though I have always dreamed of teaching I've also been an entrepreneur at heart.  I applied to teachers college and told myself that if I got in, I'd go and if not I'd follow the other path.  While waiting for the acceptance I started planning (me, planning?? weird! Ha ha!) Anyways, when my letter of acceptance came I was unsure if that was the right path.  I was lucky to have family and friends who encouraged me to go for what I wanted and I decided that I wanted to follow my heart.

And so bump was born! There was a need in the marketplace and I filled it.  I enjoy fashion and it's a great unique niche where I get to make someone who's not exactly loving their new body find an outfit or two that makes them feel great and it's a wonderful feeling.  People are often amazed when I tell them I don't have kids of my own (yet!) but I am so passionate about unique and modern items for those 2ft tall and under! I've run this business in two locations now and from millions of miles away while living in Europe.  It's been a haul but it's been worth it!
“When you have come to the edge of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: there will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly” Patrick Overton 
These past few months, undergoing all these new life changes, faith has been something deep down that has come forward and carried me through.  I feel like there has been a turning point recently when I realized that I am ready to move forward.  I have put my faith in God's plan for me and feel like no matter what I will prevail.  I'm one grateful girl. xo

02 June 2011

butternut squash & skor cupcakes

so it's celebration time tomorrow...my store is turning 4!!! my trusty side-kick ruby and I baked up a storm tonight including the aforementioned butternut squash cupcakes.  last time they ended up dry and then i realized that i forgot the oil (by mistake) hence the dryness. so tonight we followed - ok pretty much followed - the recipe and they definitely were improved!

So here is the ingredient list - my substitutions are in brackets! 
1/2 of med/lg butternut squash deseeded & roughly chopped (I bought frozen cubed butternut squash in the organic section) 
2 1/4 c brown sugar (1cup organic cane sugar and 1/4 cup agave syrup) 
4 large eggs 
pinch of sea salt 
2 1/2 cu all purpose flour (I used a gluten-free blend.  For those of you whose stomachs don't turn to fire upon eating wheat I'd suggest a whole grain flour) 
2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 c chopped walnuts 
1/2 c skor bits 
1 tsp cinnamon 
3/4 c olive oil (100ml organic apple sauce & 1/4 c grapeseed oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tins with paper cups.  Put squash in food processor (I used the blender and added a bit of milk to help blend).  Mix in with all remaining ingredients until well blended.  Fill paper cups with the mixture and bake 20-25min.  Since I used mini muffin tins, I baked for only 15 minutes.  My plan tomorrow is to ice with cream cheese icing (cream cheese, icing sugar and some greek yogurt w/ honey all blended together.).  Enjoy!!

cause & effect

So last night an old friend (actually a friends old boyfriend) was driving through to Detroit and stopped for a quick bite to eat and visit.  Amazing that we haven't actually seen each other in 10 years so the majority of the conversation was about what was happening with mutal friends.  It went something like this:
So-and-so - married, two kids
So-and-so - married, 1 kid, one on the way
etc, etc etc 
So then we discussed the perils of online dating, his recent break-up, the demise of my marriage and then drowned ourselves in a couple of these babies:

Classic Motor Burger w/bacon & gluten-free bun
 So this morning when the sun was shining at 8:00am I decided that it was approrpiate to hit the streets for a few miles.  Running along the riverfont, it does constantly amaze me that so many people fish in that cess pool - I mean I think a lot of the fish actually have arms. Yuck.  June it's game on again - time to get a new program into effect for the Detroit 1/2 in October.  I can only hope that my trip to Italy in September doesn't completely derail my efforts being only a month out from the run... perhaps if I start carb loading then....

01 June 2011

Love is Everything

a friend of mine recently posed the question of when would it be the right time to tell someone "I love you" and my answer was of course "as soon as you feel it".  I think we waste too much time worrying do they love us back? or will I look stupid? or am I risking putting myself out there?  Maybe I love too easy but I'd rather have a full heart most of the time and risk a broken one every once in a while then never to love at all.  There are just so many ways to love people and I'm of the thought that once you are in my heart - whether that be in a romantic, platonic or familial way, I will always carry you there.   

I sign every hand written note with a heart and my name.  If I'm writing to you, you obviously are some way a part of my life.  It's my way of reaching out to you so why shouldn't you know that I care about you? I would much rather have people know that they are in my heart than wonder if they know what they mean to me.  Life is short - too short not to say I love you when you feel it.  What have you got to lose? That person should feel honoured that someone cares about them and is willing to take the risk to put there heart on the line.  

Love does have so many varied meanings and does change over time - so if you one day fall out of love with someone it doesn't mean you won't always carry them with you.  That you won't still have a place for them in your heart.  It could just mean that the space changes.  Even if you are so angry with someone, it's because of the love that you have such a strong emotion such as hate. 

That said love isn't always easy however I do believe it is worth fighting for.  It's worth the risk.  The highs make the lows worthwhile.  Maybe there is someone out there that you haven't said "I love you to" in a while or someone that you are on the verge of telling.  Maybe it's a friend or family member that you assume just knows how you feel.  It could be someone you've lost touch with but that you wish you hadn't.  Reach out.  I know I've had my heart broken this year but I also know it's getting ready to love again - I don't know how to explain it but I can feel it. 

So to anyone out there reading this...take the leap and risk it. Let's all say "I love you" as much as we can.  xo