31 October 2011

Happy Halloween

Pumpkins carved, fuzzy slippers on, candy in bowl - we are ready for trick or treaters!! That said, we ran out of candy by 7:15 and had to turn out the lights lol!! 

 Yes Ruby you are cuter than my owl pumpkin!!

23 October 2011

cheese + cheese with a side of cheese

"kitty litter" cheese dip
A friend of mine called asking for my cheese dip recipe a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.  Not sure if perhaps my period is imminent however today I pretty much craved everything in the garlic and cheese variety.  This dip is not a pretty one - this picture doesn't really do justice to really how awful this dip looks.  I tried to make it prettier with rice chips and usually if I make it for a party I spread it out on a giant square platter and surround with crackers.  Affectionately, at an office where I used to work, this dip was referred to as "the kitty litter dip" because of it's colour as well as the texture.  It's the dip that people may be hesitant to try but then can't walk away from because it tastes that good.  My father-in-law will literally stand next to the plate any time I made this for church or a family gathering.   People will ask me "what's in this?" - I'm usually hesitant to say until I know that they have tried it because if you were to just hear the ingredient list, there is probably no way in hell you would dig in.  By now you are probably wondering so I won't keep you in suspense any longer... 

1 brick OLD white chedder cheese (shredded) 
1 white onion diced small 
2 sml packages chopped walnuts
couple of dashes of franks red hot sauce 
1 diced clove of garlic 
1 cup mayo 
seedless raspberry jam 


When I used to have a food processor I would blend the onion & walnuts until they were chopped so tiny and then shred the cheese.  Put all the ingredients (except for the jam) in a big bowl and mush them all together.  Let sit in the fridge for a few hours.  To plate, spread out the cheese mixture on a plate and then top with raspberry jam - serve with crackers.  Like I said, it sounds gross - but trust me you'll love it. 


So as the dip was chilling I made a modification of my healthy mac n cheese recipe. Then as I put that in to cook, I sat down with a plate of cheese dip as an appetizer and yes....then I ate a bowl of mac n cheese.  I may never go to the bathroom again...

19 October 2011

till it feels right

A friend of mine was over the night before last and since it was cold and gloomy out (and since I refuse to put the heat on in my house before November!) I decided to cook to warm the place up.  I made some ribs and a pot of soup for lunches for the week.  It's kinda funny to watch me cook I'm sure because a. I drop so much on the floor and b. I don't ever follow a recipe.  I decided to make corn chowder again because I had left over light cream from my Thanksgiving ice cream creation.  K stirred the onions cooking in some of the left over bacon fat (heart healthy!) and looked at me in amazement (or perhaps amusement) as I just chopped stuff and threw it in the pot.  Mushrooms, zucchini, corn, creamed corn, light cream, can of water, salt, pepper, bacon... bring it up to a boil and Ta Da! Soup of the day! She looked at me and asked "how do you know what to put in? or how much?" My answer (thank you Nanna) "Just till it feels right".  When the soup looks full enough, or when the dough feels like the right texture or when the meat gives just a little.  That's how my Nanna taught me to cook - I always thought she was nuts because I at first I couldn't understand how I would just know or what it would be when it felt right.  But I just cooked along side her and learned.  

I think it's true with a lot of things - sometimes you just know when it feels right.  When T and I first separated, the pragmatic side of me wondered about logistics and when it would feel right to date again or to change my name back. People would ask it of me as well and I would answer back that it'll have to wait until it felt right.  I had a hard time with the word ex-husband at first but now that it will soon be a reality, I find myself finding it easier to say.  I don't have my eye on anyone in particular but there has been some flirting and yes it has felt right.  I'm not 100% sure how starting to date will feel but I do feel like it's the right time.  It's at least the right time to be open to it and I have a feeling it will make for a few interesting blog posts.... stay tuned :)

16 October 2011

13.1 miles of fun!

there is something crazy special about runners, especially those who like to race.  We actually pay for the torture of running an exorbitant amount of mile, starting before the sun comes up.  

Take this morning, it's 5am - it's dark and cold outside.  The rest of the world is still asleep (except for some nursing moms and some hard core clubbers!). I am rubbing warming cream on my muscles, attempting to put contacts in my eyes, taking my vitamins and making oatmeal. 

I've had this feeling in the pit of my stomach since yesterday - it's excitement.  It happens before each race and I'm a middle of the pack runner.  Can't even imagine how it would feel for those in contention of actually winning the race.  

I've battled an injury this time around - but I decided this morning I was going to give it a try.  I didn't worry about my time.  In fact I stopped and took photos along the way. It was pretty chilly & rainy thru the race - luckily my pink knee high compression socks kept me toasty! I ended up actually getting a new PR (personal record) of 2:28 even with the stops and the gimpy leg! I'll take a few weeks off to heal now and just be nice to my body with ballet, pilates and yoga but then it's time to pick the next race!! I'm thinking Miami in January - who's with me???

15 October 2011

Pumpkin Muffins & Marathon Prep



So I had some left over pumpkin from Thanksgiving last weekend and what else to do but bake of course! Here is the recipe that I came up with: 

Ingredients
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup ground flax 
2 tbsp chia seeds 
handful of dark chocolate chips (optional) 

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or prep silicone baking cups
3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric beater to thoroughly combine all ingredients EXCEPT almond flour, walnuts, and raisins.
4. Stir in almond flour until well combined.
5. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
6. Spoon batter into muffin cups, using wet fingers to press down any bumps on the tops before baking.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
 
Happy Fall Baking :) 

11 October 2011

to run or not to run....

acupuncture with electric currents - not a great angle!!
In less than a week I should be running the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon.  I love running this race, not only because it's a home race, but I love coming up over the bridge just as the sun is coming up and seeing my city ahead of me.  That said, it's also nice to do a race where you actually know people along the sidelines cheering you on! 

Now even though mentally I feel great for this race, physically my body is slowly revolting against me.  It will be my second 1/2 marathon this year, with a couple 10mile races mixed in along the way.  I'm pretty sure my body is now finally telling me to slow down and perhaps stop pushing so hard.  I made it a promise to just get me through the week and one last race and I won't bother it with running for most of November.  I promise to stick to ballet, Pilates and yoga for the next few months and give it some time off.  I'm doing my best to help out - chiropractic adjustments, massage, acupuncture, ultrasound, heat, ice, magnesium...... all I ask is for maybe 20 more miles.  I know I need to let go of my time goal and just enjoy the run (except for the tunnel because I truly hate that part of the race).  It's hard to let go of the goal because besides this darn IT Band and Hip Flexor I feel great! My times were under a 10min/mile - which isn't breaking any records but for me is damn good! Now with this inflammation, I'm back in the 10:30min/mile - which is still good don't get me wrong but it's frustrating to know you're not where you could be.  For now I'm just going to take it one day at a time. Rest and continue with the therapy and rolling on my foam roller at home and play it by ear. 

Then this morning, as I was tweeting from the massage table, there was a running quote posted that read "sometimes your PR has nothing to do with time but what you conquer inside".  Perhaps I should focus on that a bit more.

09 October 2011

a thankful heart & a full bely

Today was a perfect fall day - the sun was high, the air was warm and all the colours of fall appeared on the tree lined streets.  I was lucky to start the day with yoga, taking yet again a few moments to focus inward and to count my blessings. It's hard to believe how many changes have happened this past year as I mark the 1 year mark of T & I's separation.  It makes me realize that good things fall apart so that even better things can fall together.  I'm not exactly sure what the better things will be but I don't have a doubt in my heart that great things lay ahead.  

Spending a holiday with my family, it's not hard to find wonderful moments to celebrate. I am truly blessed and it's days as perfect as these which remind me.  Tonight close to twenty of us sat together, enjoying both a plethora of delicious food and each other's company.  I'm pretty sure that anyone watching us would have been ultimately confused at the topics & decibel level of our conversations.  Hopefully Nana & Nannu were smiling down on us as we were all very thankful for the time that we had with them.  Their presence was truly missed. 

My afternoon was spent in the kitchen and on the front porch.  I put on my favourite pink frilly apron given to me by my lovely sister-in-law last Christmas and began to follow some new recipes (by follow I really mean use as a guide-line and slightly adapt what I find online).  My creations today were a Maple-Walnut pie in a Gluten-free Almond Flour Pie Crust accompanied by Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. 
To take a snapshot of my family, someone is always reaching over the other, putting their finger in the bowl or snagging a bite off someone's plate. This picture of the fingers in the ice cream bowl certainly made me feel like my Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream was a hit! 


To see the actual recipe for Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream click HERE.  However I did modify the recipe by using 5% cream rather than heavy cream and I left out the burboun.  It was beyond delicious and paired with my Maple Walnut Pie it was a great combination.  Now don't be fooled, there was still a real pumpkin pie as well as a blueberry pie but I have to say that I was pretty partial to my creations!!


So since I opted for morning yoga I decided against making my own gluten-free pie crust and opted for the tried & true Almond Flour Pie crust care of Elena's Pantry - for the recipe, click HERE. You can use this crust for pretty much any pie as well as quiche. 
Now for my Pie I will try my best to remember what I did.... 

Filling:  2 cups walnut pieces
5 Tb unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, the light brown sugar, and the salt. Whisk in the whole eggs and the egg yolk, the maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk until well-blended. Stir in the chopped nuts.  


I baked the shell while I was prepping the filling.  As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, reduce the heat to 275 F and pour the filling directly into the HOT crust. Return the pie immediately to the oven and cook for 50 to 60 minutes until the pie is just set. It will jiggle like jello in the middle, but will be firm and slice beautifully after it cools. Transfer pie to cooling rack. Let pie cool for 4 hours before serving (or it won’t slice.)

So now I sit, writing and sipping peppermint tea trying to commit to memory all of tonight's laughter and love.  I'm lucky to have had a happy childhood, a close-knit family and wonderful memories to treasure.  I'm thankful to put this year to a close and to move forward with a thankful heart and a full belly.  

Happy Thanksgiving! xo 

02 October 2011

Love trumps fear...

I began today with morning yoga.  I usually go for my long run Sunday morning so it was a variation in my schedule but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to do and where I needed to be.  It was that perfect, cool and sunny fall morning without a cloud in the sky.  Admittedly, I'm not very good at yoga as much as I try - I never seem to be able to shut off my brain and stay in the moment.  But today, I really focused and let myself just listen and breathe. 

Today would have been my seventh wedding anniversary. 1 year ago I was happily married.  It's amazing how much can change in a short time. I am not the same woman that I was a year ago or seven years ago for that matter.  I'm still happy but I'm stronger.  I'm more aware.  I'm living more in the moment and trying to focus on what really matters the most. 


During class, our instructor guided us through the practice.  Her words seemed to reach out and settle me.  As we lay there in our first pose on our backs, eyes shut and soul opened she had us tense our arms, legs, shoulders and face as tight as we could and then, with an exhale, breathe out that tension.  Feel the worry and the guilt leave your body.  I realized then that I did feel guilty still - I felt guilt that my marriage failed and that I couldn't do anything to fix it.  I said my vows with every intention that it was forever so to go back on those words, to walk away, was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I don't doubt that it was the correct thing to do for both T and I but it doesn't make it any easier.  I know that it's over and I've made my peace with it actually.  The only thing that I still dislike is the actual word. I didn't marry with the thought that I could divorce one day if it didn't work out - I went in to it for forever - feet, or rather heart, first.  I don't want what has happened to me, to define me. I guess I have to keep working on letting that go but I know I'll get there. 


Feel the strength of your body. My body doesn't feel strong right now.  My runners hips are pretty disabling lately, which has been discouraging at times.  I do know however that I've come in to my own strength this past year.  Since I started tracking my mileage in February I have run over 300 miles so far and I'll complete my second half marathon of the year this month.  I've toiled on the pilates reformer, I've spent hours at the ballet barre and I've let Jillian Michaels kick my sorry butt.  I am confident that my legs are strong enough to carry me through any trial. I know my strength runs deep and it is what gets me to believe that each moment happens to us for a reason and that we truly aren't given more trials than what we can handle. 

Focus on your breath.  Be in the moment.  Let go of the fear or the worry.  So an actor from a favourite Canadian TV show had a great message in his twitter profile and for some reason it has resonated with me. I'm not sure if it's a quote he's taken from elsewhere or just words he believes but they stuck with me when I read them.  "Love trumps fear every time". 

Right now this moment in my life is scary.  Starting over is always difficult but I've realized that sometimes what we define as fear is really just a mixture of excitement and anticipation.  I have a lot of fears starting over again.  I worry that the next person I fall in love with won't be honest.  I worry that I'll give my heart again to someone who won't cherish it as they should.  I worry that I'll choose wrong again. Can the prospect of love, and all the amazing things that come with it, really trump the fear? I can only hope that like the song The Dance, that the moment of heartache as something ends is worth all the amazing moments that led up to it. 

Shoulders back, head held high. Open up your heart. Opening your heart in yoga feels wonderful and freeing and strong.  I can only hope I will be able to open my heart again in the real world with my shoulders back and head high just as it was in today's practice.  I'm starting to feel ready but I know I've redefined what it is that I'm looking for and what I feel like I deserve and what I refuse to compromise on.  What I hope to find is simple really.  I want someone honest.  Someone who asks me how my day was or what the book I'm reading is about.  Someone who will rub my back and tell me a story on the rare occasion when I can't fall asleep.  I want someone who whole-heartedly loves their family and who wants to love mine. Someone confident, loving and respectful. I want him to thoroughly enjoy a Sunday morning of quietly sitting over coffee and sharing a newspaper for hours on end.  Someone I can trust with my heart. Someone who wouldn't walk away.   Someone who would never let me go.


Let go.  Grieve whatever it is that you have to say good-bye to.  Release it back to the world.  
Remember when you were a kid and you would scour the beach for those pieces of glass, smoothed out but the ebb & flow of the water washing them in and off of the beach day after day.   I'm hoping to be a piece of beach glass soon - smoother around the edges and even more wonderful after all this back and forth, ebb & flow, love & loss. 


So as we wait for our divorce to be final, I do go back to the part of me that truly believes people are meant to be in your life for a reason.  I wonder truly what T was meant to teach me.  That I'm strong enough to walk away - that my spirit is even stronger? Was I meant to learn that things aren't always what they seem? That even though the music inevitably ends, it's more important to have danced than never at all. 

Seven years ago I said I do, because I did.  I believed in forever and happily ever after and to be honest I still do.  I know I am meant to be exactly where I am, in this moment.  


Take a moment to focus on your blessings.  I journal my blessings every night so I know, truly, that the good in my life by far outweighs any of the struggles.  My family, my friends, my heath, my business - all keep me remembering just how blessed I am.  I am thankful - very thankful. 

This is my moment.  It's time to move forward.  To keep believing in love.  To kick fear to the curb.

01 October 2011

Sept 11, 2001 - A Decade Later

(this was originally written on the anniversary of 9/11)
It was 10 years ago already.
10 years since I phoned my frantic parents to tell them I was still alive and not to worry.
10 years since they told us our location was the next potential target & to prepare to evacuate. 
10 years since we walked to give blood, but there was no one to give it to. 
10 years since the streets flooded with ash, papers & people.  
10 years since the emergency siren went off and we grabbed our bags to head for the doors. 
10 years since I feared for my life. 

It is hard to imagine that it was a decade ago already. On each anniversary I have sat and listened to the names being read of all those who did not survive and thanked God for my name not being on that list.  It's frightening to think that the very next day, we were actually going to have lunch at the World Trade Centre.  It's ironic that of all the times I traveled for work, this was the only time I had given my parents my hotel contact information. 

It has been 10 years however there are things I cannot forget.  I will never forget the looks on the faces of people searching for their loved ones who were in the towers.  Handing you a paper with their picture on it, asking if you had seen them.  Searching for something in your eyes, a glimmer of hope that perhaps they had made it.  I will never forget the eerie feeling of walking the always crowed and vibrant streets of NYC that were now littered with military personnel and no people.  Being on a bus where half the occupants were covered in ash, in blood and in fear.  I will never forget the feeling of trying to sleep that night, worried that there were bombs or something worse that would blow up during the night.  The incessant sounds of the sirens.  Ten years later, I still shudder and freeze up when I hear sirens.  

I have a lot of thoughts on why this happened and who was to blame but that isn't the purpose of this post.  The purpose is to honour those that lost their lives, those that lost their loved ones and those who this date has impacted forever.  How or why it happened doesn't negate the fact that there were many heroes that day that ran up those stairs to save people or who charged the cockpit or who searched through the rubble to find missing souls.  It is a day that has changed our lives forever and that will hopefully remind us how precious life is despite the evil that is in our world.  

It's been a decade.  
10 years since we crossed by ferry to NJ & watched the towers smouldering still the next morning. 
10 years since we drove towards the Canadian border not knowing if we could cross. 
10 years since we all struggled with guilt for leaving and not doing more to help. 
10 years since I got home to my apartment and finally allowed myself to cry.  

It has been 10 years and yet, it still feels like yesterday.  I will never forget. 

Overdue

I openly admit I'm a Type A personality, multi-tasking, digitally connected kinda gal.  That said, leaving on vacation one of the stipulations was that we had WiFi in our villa so I wouldn't be out of reach for my store that was remaining open without me.  I was hoping to be able to blog freely through our trip, post photos, tweet, check email..... 

However once we got to our home for the week, we discovered that there was no internet access.  There were a few cafes downtown that we could go to but that also meant dragging a laptop up and down the hilly streets.  So with the comfort of knowing the store could text me with any problems, I disconnected.  No news, no email, no contact with anyone really outside of Positano.  It was weird at first but then admittedly, kind of nice.  

Now there were a few posts I had written that I will now post - they are a bit late but hopefully still relevant.  I mean it wasn't like I stopped postulating while I was on vacation, I just had no way to connect it to the outside world!! So as it very clearly turns to fall here, the temperature dip and the gloomy rain, it's the perfect time to bake, write and nest.  This is my favourite season of the year.  The colours are changing on the trees, the clothes are comfortable and homes feel cozier.  Happy Fall everyone.....