04 November 2012

When you say nothing at all....



A few weeks back we celebrated our annual Wilderness Girls weekend - I can't tell you how many years it's been a tradition but what I can tell you is that the girls in this picture are barely 17 and well, that is many years ago. 

There is nothing more precious in life than girlfriends.  Although I love my family with my whole heart I do believe that when you choose to love someone -  to let them in to your heart - they are there because there is a kindred spirit shared between you. 

These girls in this original photo have grown, changed, learned and lived.  They are stronger, smarter, and a bit more tailored.  They have fallen and raised each other up.  They have gone head over heals in love and known desperate heartache.  They have both born children and struggled with fertility.  They have laughed, they have cried, they have hurt and they have grown.  

Each year our adventure is a bit different but certain things always remain the same no matter the location or the time of year.   The first year our meals consisted of tuna sandwiches with bbq chips and pickles, euchre, canoe rides and campfires.  Now, within the loveliness of A's cottage, we prepare gourmet meals and enjoy bottles of good wine in front of the wood stove while amusing each other with charades and sharing stories.  There are laughs that come from the gut and then there are tears from the heart. There is endless chatter.  Endless.   It's quite rare to think of there actually being a moment where we aren't saying much but I suppose that if and when there are those quiet seconds, there really isn't a need for words.   As in love, there are precious times where you don't need to fill silence with words.  Where you can comfortably sit in silence just knowing that all is calm.

As we drove home with the dark of night all around us, our soundtrack blaring loud and our voices singing strong, my eyes filled a bit with tears and my heart swelled with love.  We are all going home to different lives and yet there is the common thread of friendship between us. One of the songs that we always listen to (usually on repeat multiples times as per H's request!) is "When you Say Nothing At All" by Alison Kraus.  As the lyrics say, "it's amazing how you can speak right to my heart".  I know that in my story of life, my heart leads my way.  I believe in saying I Love You too much.  I believe that every ending is a beginning. 


To my Wilderness Girls - you truly do speak to my heart even when there aren't words.  I know as the hard things were said that your hearts actually stopped for a moment to catch up. I could feel each of your love for me and that is what gives me strength - strength to forgive, strength to move on and strength to try again.  I know I don't need words with you but I have so many that I want to say and want you to know.  The moments that we share together are forever etched in my memory.  I love that we can each be our true selves around each other - be that silly or serious, reminiscing or dreaming of the future.  We've each shared so many different life experiences but the common threads are what binds us.  Being with you, in the middle of the woods, silence around us and yet so much was said heart to heart. The reason I am strong is because of you.  Because I am loved by you.  Because my heart is full.

13 October 2012

Tuesday night fever


Last weekend was Thanksgiving and as always I find myself grateful knowing that I have been blessed with an amazing family, lovely friends and a strong, healthy body.  It was a weekend of a lot of delicious food leaving me with not only a full belly but a full heart.  That said, by Tuesday I finally had a little room in the gut to try out this yummy gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe that A Jaded Mama  shared with me.  It's the perfect "fix-the-craving" recipe because there are like 4 ingredients and they take about 15 seconds to whip up. We all know how I feel about "recipes" but I did actually follow this one :) Preheat your oven to 350.  In mixer, cream together 1 egg, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 3/4c sugar.  Mix in 1 cup peanut butter of choice (mine of course is the organic, chunky version).  Then mix in 1/2c chocolate chips.  Spoon on to sheet and bake for 15.  The peanut butter goodness keeps my house smelling yummy for about 2 days afterwards and usually brings Soph down with her plate looking for warm cookies, which I lovingly share because she just makes my world a better place and my house a home.  

Now while the cookies are baking I have to admit that I did indulge in another guilty pleasure of mine, much to the disdain of Ruby who watched with a look of "oh mom, you are crazy!".  Tuesday nights were one of my favourites because they were ballet night.  Sometimes I can't decide what I miss more - the friends from class, the laughter or the actual dancing.  There was never a shortage of giggles while we had our legwarmers on so to work off the calories ahead of time I dug out my ballet shoes (I was already sporting my leg warmers!!) and put on a few songs and broke it down! Using the empty space in my dining room as my own personal dance hall which of course led to loud, off-tune singing and more looks of death from Ruby.  There is just something so free and so fun about just letting loose and singing and dancing and getting lost in the music and the intoxicating smell of cookies baking! It's usually those times that gratitude springs forward as well - being able to just enjoy that moment and all the other small, simple moments of every day.  I hope that everyone can find those moments to be thankful for each day - ones where you catch yourself smiling to yourself just knowing that life is good, that you are strong and that life is good. xo
 

19 September 2012

why I run....

People often ask me why I run and usually, unless you are a runner yourself, it is kind of hard to explain.  It's not like any other sport where you are part of a team although you do get to share the camaraderie with the other runners beside you.  You wave and smile as you pass them in training.  You cheer each other on at the finish.  You look the other way as someone squats along the path...  Most of these reasons listed are reasons why I run.  I run because I enjoy to eat but I also run because I want to challenge myself.  Because it's addictive to push beyond your own limits. To get that feeling of digging deep within oneself and pushing further when you think you can't put one leg in front of the other.  It's when I think through problems and it's how I process things and because it really does relieve stress.  it's hard to describe that perfect run first thing in the morning when the world is still and it's just you and the brisk air. I run because it's who I am.  I run to celebrate my health, my strength and my cute runners tush.  My sweat is liquid awesome.  Race day is just 3 days away.....

15 September 2012

Run for Heros...

Kalamazoo 1/2 Spring 2012
 In just about 1 weeks time I will be joining about 4,000 other runners in the Amherstburg Run for Heros Marathon & Half-Marathon.  It just happens to also be my birthday that day so this was my way of doing something significant to celebrate.  Training this summer has not been easy due in part to the extreme heat and my overall lack of free time (I'm pretty sure opening a second business has hindered many of my scheduled miles!!) Life has been quite busy - in fact I wrote out the month as July today so I'm hoping that I get my shit together soon and figure out what day it is! But, that said, I am pretty excited to hit the start and hopefully the adrenaline will carry me through a few of the miles! 

The tagline for the race is "Who are you running for?" I believe we all have a few heros that not only inspire us with their fortitude but that also carry us through when we ourselves feel weak.  For me this usually happens around the 10mile mark - it's where the race becomes more about mental strength than muscle.  It's at that time that I usually send my thoughts up to heaven and ask my dear friend Steve to run with me.  I ask him to be at my side and channel some of the strength that he showed throughout his battle.  His name is always written on me somewhere for each race - normally on the leg that he lost in his battle.  He is just one of the heros who I carry with me.  This year I will also have my grandmother in my heart who we lost this spring after living many years with Alzheimers.  I'm hoping that the strength that the two of them showed in life can carry me through a few miles.  As always, Emma is my training inspiration - my adorable little niece Emma who, before her second birthday, was already undergoing Leukemia treatments just months after losing her father unexpectedly.  She fought like a trooper through all the needles and spinal picks, losing her hair and being sick.  When I think about going out for a run and not feeling it, I remember that other people's battles are a lot longer.  I think of my friends parents who have fought the fight like Jessica's mom or who are still fighting like Gavin's dad and I count my every blessing for parents in good heath.  I think of my Nanna who battled cancer multiple times and always with the mentality that better her than a little child suffering.  This is what I think of when I hit that mark in the race when I want to stop, when I think I can't do it even though deep down I know I can.  It may not always be pretty (ok it's usually not even close to pretty!) but I've never quit yet.  I can't imagine ever quitting though there were a few races where I have been close.  I won't quit because there have been too many fighters that haven't quit before me.  If we all were to dig deep enough we could find that strength to keep moving forward, to quiet the voice that says "stop", to keep fighting the fight.  It's part of the reason I love to race - not because I'll ever win but because every time I'm reminded of that depth within me where the fighter lies.  Because we have to keep moving forward.  

In honour of my race and the heroes I run for, I am trying to collect 35 pledges of $35 or more in support of both the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and The Alzheimer Society of Windsor Essex.  Your support would be greatly appreciated - please link to my giving page here and give what you can.  I thank you in advance and I hope that you find your own heroes who inspire you.   

11 September 2012

nyc in my heart forever

Today marks the 11th year since the attacks on 9/11 and yet each of us will never forget where we were on that day, what we were doing or who we were with.  I will always carry New York with me in my heart on this day and I will never forget.  I will listen to the names being read every year and count my blessings that my name is not on that list.  I love NYC - its people, its vibrancy, the feeling of 'alive' that you get being in a big city.  I was on an annual business trip but this year we had extended our stay so that we could shop for a few days and have lunch at the World Trade Center - on September 12th.  Instead we spent that day trying to escape the chaos.  
There are certain things that remain crystal clear to me, even all these years later.  That incessant sound of sirens ringing through the air.  To this day, I find myself freezing in my path when sirens race past me.  It's not that I think of 9/11 specifically but there is just this fear inside that halts me with that sound.  I remember my mother's voice when I called first thing that morning when we thought it was just a small plane that 'accidentally' hit the towers.  I called because I knew she would worry and think it was worse - it was then that she told me the gravity of it all.  Instantly we put CNN on the screen in the ballroom where we were running a dress rehearsal for the awards show scheduled for later that afternoon and we watched the horror unfold.  We were told at that point that we had to prepare to evacuate as our location was named the next potential target being that we were on top of Grand Central and next to both the Chrysler Building & the UN Building. I clearly remember going in to the room where the conference we were hosting was already in progress and having to tell hundreds of people what was happening.  Seeing people jump up and cry out statements like "my sister works at World Trade" or "my husband is a firefighter" and frantically attempt to use their cell phones though no phone lines were going through.  

I remember us wanting to go and give blood but were turned back because there was no survivors to give it to.  People were jumping out of the high windows to their death because, scarily, that was a better option than waiting inside for rescuers that couldn't get to the top.  We were told to go back in our hotel and wait because we were now an evacuation route. I remember the smoke and the ash and the horrible smell. I remember our ceiling collapsing in on us when the second tower fell and how we instantly grabbed our belongings and ran for the door.  We sat there with practically everyone else in the hotel in our giant ballroom, eyes glued to CNN on the big screen and no one uttered a word.  I made sure all our guests were checked back in to their rooms, that cots would be set up in our other ballroom for our local guests that were unable to get home, and that all our conference supplies were packed up - just in case we had to leave.  Maybe it was because staying busy made me feel more in control of this chaotic situation that was beyond any of our imaginations.  

I remember one of our clients taking us to dinner that night to a restaurant where I'm not sure people were really even working.  I remember people stopping us on the street with photos of their loved ones who were still missing - imploring us to stop & look in case we had seen them.  The fear and the reaching hope that perhaps they were still alive and not amongst the rubble of the towers. The crowded streets of New York were eerily quiet and populated mostly by armed guards watching over - it looked as though we were in a war torn country and I suppose at that point we were.  I remember not being able to sleep that night thinking that a bomb of sorts was still yet to go off in Grand Central and kill us.  The sirens never stopped. 

I remember the next morning taking the ferry across to New Jersey to board a bus waiting to take us back towards the Canadian border.  I remember watching the still smouldering buildings while standing next to men who were clearly part of the rescue effort, covered in debris and bloody scrapes, sobbing.  We eventually got to the Canadian border and hours later we finally crossed.  I remember finally stepping foot in my apartment all by myself and for the first time through it all, I cried.  There was such guilt for leaving without doing anything to help, even though realistically there was nothing we could do.  I remember not being able tear myself away from the tv - watching all the chaos not only in NYC but across the United States.  Every year I sit and watch and listen to each name be read aloud and I remember.  I will always remember as my way to honour to those who perished.  I will always remember. 

21 August 2012

My Summer To Do List

Summer weeks and weekends go so quick.  I usually attempt to make a list of things I want to do over the summer months so that the time doesn't slip away without enjoying certain moments.  I've only crossed off one thing so far this summer (sidebar opening a new business was not on this list).  It is now the third week of August, I'm going to guess that not much more is getting crossed off but I'm determined to give it a valiant effort and try for a few more before summer's end! 

My List: 

- drive in movie marathon
- go to Cedar Point 
- participate in a Trail Run 
- learn to wakeboard 
- make s'mores at campfire 
- spend time at a cottage in the woods 
- read 3 books in my stack 
- train for a fall 1/2 (technically I'm registered for a fall 1/2 but I have not been great at training!) 
- have a picnic in the park 

I guess it's really all about just living the moments and there have been many this summer that haven't been on my list that I've enjoyed so I need to be a little more lenient on myself lol.  Cedar Point has been planned for October and I'm heading to a cottage for labour day so I can probably cross of the s'mores and book reading.... Now to make my list for the next few months :)

Bounty of summer

So one of the benefits of where my new store is located is that we are attached to The Twisted Apron General Store & Market - an offshoot of one of my fav restaurants in the 'hood.  Local produce arrives daily along with other great organic and healthy food options. It reminds me of the little shops along Bloor West in my days of Toronto dwelling where I could pick up ingredients daily to make meals. Fresh, local, awesome.  We are lucky in that our area produces some awesome fruits & veggies.  Yesterday I grabbed a few ears of sweet corn, red onions, yellow tomatoes and cukes. Since it's been well documented on how chicken shit I am of turning on the BBQ, I rely heavily on my cast iron grill pan.  I grilled up the corn and slabs of red onion as I marinated my chicken breast in avocado & cilantro and put on the quinoa.  I chopped up the rest of the veggies, opened a can of black beans and threw together a lemon & cilantro vinaigrette to put on top.  As usual there is no recipe but the finished product was amazing though this photo doesn't do it justice.

Salad: 1 can of black beans drained & rinsed, quinoa, 2-3 mini cucumbers diced, 2-3 tomatoes diced, 1 grilled onion, 2 ears of sweet corn grilled & sliced off the cob.  
Dressing: 2 parts grapeseed oil, 1 part apple cider vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, teaspoon of cilantro paste, salt & pepper.  Shake well.  Top with grilled chicken and ENJOY!!
 

06 August 2012

Driving without a destination

Today being a holiday I made a concious decision to not work and have a day to myself.  I wanted more than anything to be away in the woods or on the water but only having one day off makes that a bit of a challenge!None the less, I cleaned house in the morning and then got in the car for the afternoon and just drove.  I had a general direction in mind (ie: near the water) but no real destination.  I wanted to be at the beach or by the water and just be by myself for the whole day.  I wanted to read and be quiet and not talk to anyone, not be on my computer and just chill.  It's been a crazy few months of work and getting this new business ready and off the ground.  There haven't been many days or nights where I haven't worked and admittedly, I'll likely do a bit of filing and my weekly deposits after I finish up this post.  But taking a few hours to just be by myself felt good.  


However while driving mindlessly through the county, what better than to stop at the local farms and buy fresh veggies to take home for dinner.  Over the past few weeks having the time to cook and post has also been few and far between so I am happy to be back in the swing of things cooking and baking and writing.  Tonight I enjoyed some organic chicken & gouda sausages from my last trip to Whole Foods accompanied by a fresh summer salad of  sweet onion, cucumbers, green beans and tomatoes from both the farm and my very own garden!! To dress the salad was a very simple mixture of grapeseed oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  



There have been a few nights this summer where I've convinced Soph to come down and bbq for me! We grilled corn in the husks and then coated in butter and cayenne pepper and ate off the cob! Another fresh tomato (from my garden) salad with chickpeas and feta cheese and then some delicious grilled shrimp.  For the shrimp I marinated them in lemon juice, garlic, hot peppers and cilantro and then we tossed them in the bbq stir fry pan.  There is something so great about things cooked on the open flame - I just wish I wasn't petrified of doing it myself!! It's one of the best parts of being away at the cottage and although this summer those days are fewer than other years, I have to resolve to find a few days over the next few weeks to get away being either by myself or with friends to take in the moments and the deliciousness of summer.  To take more rides without a destination and just see where the road takes you.



17 July 2012

words to live by....

At the moment life seems a bit crazy.  People keep saying things to me like "you're an inspiration" to which I follow up with the fact that there is a fine line between inspiring and insane.  I don't think what I do is inspiring - I think it's pretty f*&#ing crazy actually.  Sometimes I break for a moment and think "why am I doing this?" Why didn't I just move back to the city and get a regular job with a salary and benefits and steadiness.  Why am I going out on this limb? Jumping in with both feet? Taking this risk? But I guess it goes back to not wanting a life un-lived.  I don't want to look back and think "wow, I should have...." about anything.  You don't know how many days lie ahead and you certainly don't know what they will bring you so your best bet is to try to follow your heart and your dreams and take risks.  Some days are scary and some days are beyond exhilarating and each day, these are the words I am trying to live by:
"Go now, and live. Experience. Dream. Risk. Close your eyes and jump. Enjoy the free fall. Choose exhilaration over comfort. Choose magic over predictability. Choose potential over safety. Wake up to the magic of everyday life. Make friends with your intuition. Trust your gut. Discover the beauty of uncertainty. Know yourself fully before you make promises to another. Make millions of mistake so that you will know how to choose what your really need. Know when to hold on and when to let go. Love hard and often and without reservation. Seek knowledge. Open yourself to possibility. Keep your heart open, your head high and your spirit free. Embrace your darkness along with your light. Be wrong every once in a while, and don't be afraid to admit it. Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Tell the truth about yourself no matter what the cost. Own your reality without apology. See goodness in the world. Be Bold. Be Fierce. Be Grateful. Be Wild, Crazy and Gloriously Free. Be YOU. Go now, and live."

- Jeanette Leblanc

09 July 2012

the thing about girlfriends...

The thing about girlfriends is that, unlike family, they don't love you because they have to but they love you because they choose to. I am, undoubtedly, blessed with girlfriends of many sorts and from many moments in my life.  There are however, two ladies with whom I have grown from a 13yr old little girl to now an almost mid-thirty year old woman.  These ladies are special.  They love me for being a little bit crazy, for being just like them in so many ways while at the same time being just so different.  They love me despite the fact that I am sometimes inappropriate and certainly have an irreverent sense of humour.  They love are the kind of friends who love you because you are crazy enough to take leaps of faith and then are sweet enough to call you brave.  They tell you that they are proud of you and that you can do anything.  They remind you that good things are always ahead of you - like first kisses and falling in love again. They recant stories of their kids which are a direct example of the amazing mothers that they are.  They are humble and sweet and kind.  They are also fierce and protective.  And they are mine.  All mine.  No matter where I live or the adventures I set out on, they love me.  When I return, it's always to open arms.  When I fall they know when to reach out their hand to help me and know when I need to find that way on my own.  They are women who I grew up next to, who know my secrets and those stories we promised to never tell anyone, ever.  They are the best audience to all my crazy stories.  They are the reason behind my belt-it-out-in-the-middle-of-the-restaurant laughter.  They are my heart and as much as I try I cannot find enough words to tell the world how much they mean to me.   


Tonight, over a dinner which was way overdue as they typically get in hectic life schedules, we did what we do best - talked and laughed and ate.  I think I may have accidentally received the caffeinated cappuccino post-dinner as I am so wide awake in the middle of the night.  But I guess it does give me the moment to just take in the loveliness that is girlfriend love.  My girls are amazing mothers as I can only hope to one day be.  They are patient and kind and much more graceful than I.  People looking at us may wonder because we are all so unique from each other but I suppose that is what connects us.  They give me so much and I can only hope that in some way I can do the same for them.  So do me a favour, whoever is out there reading this, call a girl friend and tell her you love her.  Send her an email or a hand-written note and let her know that she is in your heart and why.  Take this moment to let her know that you think she is wonderful and lovely and then list all the reasons that you can think of.  If you are lucky enough to be blessed with people who choose to love you, be thankful and count your blessings.  Men can most certainly have friendships but there is nothing - NOTHING - in this world that is comparable to the love of girlfriends.  That's the thing about girlfriends...... 

27 June 2012

with each new day....

It seems as though days are melting in to each other as the month of June passes by in a blink.  Not sure if it's true or not but months seem to be going by faster and faster! It seems like just yesterday it was the beginning of the new year! For me, endeavoring on this new business venture of mine has of course left me working many long days, usually concluding around midnight.  There have been a few sleepless nights, a few moments of questioning my own sanity for doing this and of course a little excitement as I see it all start to come together.  Yesterday was a long day which included a few hour-long calls to help desks and even a call to the fire department. And then I received a simple text from a friend which read "take a breath. you can do this." Short and sweet and to the point - just at the moment that I needed to hear it. Today is a brand new day.  As I wake this morning, I relish in the fact that I do have a brand new day to do with as I please.  I can only hope that I will be productive and maintain a positive attitude and trudge ahead.   

Some days are harder than others to keep moving forward and I think perhaps it's those days that we need to almost succumb to the challenges and let ourselves feel overwhelmed and worried so that we may find our way out of it.  No one is happy all the time but we can strive to be so for the majority.  We can hope to be happy most of the time and thankfully have those moments of not which make us appreciate it that much more. Hopefully at the end of the trying day, we can find a few things to remain thankful for and let go of those things or people who challenge our strength. 

27 May 2012

peaceful Sundays...


Thoughts from an amazing woman on this beautiful Sunday morning.  Finally had a good run without any IT band pain this morning and finished up by watching the Prostate Cancer Ride for Dad pass along Riverside Drive.  It was sunny & breezy and all around a wonderful morning.  It's one of those days that you can take in all that is around you and be grateful. It's a crazy time right now and yet I knew that I needed today to ground myself.  I needed a run to clear my head.  I needed time in the sunshine planting my garden and being in the yard.  Later friends will join me to bbq and hang out and just enjoy the peacefulness that summer days have to offer.  Wherever today may find you, I hope that you are peaceful.  Singing & dancing & loving.  Happy Sunday.

24 May 2012

Taking the leap....

When change is necessary, trust yourself to have the strength and courage to do what you need to do to grow. Sometimes it just comes down to a leap of faith. Sometimes that which we define as fear is really just a mixture of anticipation and excitement.  That "I may cry or vomit at any moment" feeling means that we are on the brink of greatness.  Nothing that is worth much in life comes easily.  It takes work and dedication and faith.  It truly does mean taking that leap. 

 
There has been this dream of mine since I lived in Ottawa and fell in love with a store called The Paperie on Bank Street.  I found myself in there at least once a week, strolling through the aisles to find the perfect card or gift.  As many of you know I start each month with a list of people's birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events and properly write & send a card.  I send thank you notes in gratitude.  My holiday card list is usually longer than my arm.  And yes, I even have a few pen pals that I write letters & photographs to rather than emails & jpegs.  I have always dreamed of having a shop of my own where I can help encourage this lost art of correspondence and support others out there who still see the joy in knowing someone will receive a bit of happiness when they check their mailbox.  

I won't sugar-coat it.  Opening a brand new business is pretty frickin' scary - it's a whole new set of bills, anxiety and juggling.  Doing it solo amps that fear up a little but I am very lucky - I have the most amazing parents, sister, family & friends who constantly support me.  People whom I love dearly and who I know will be there come success or failure.  When the worry creeps in, they remind me that I can do it.  Sometimes it's just a few simple words like "you're going to do great" that still the fear.  Sometimes it's having someone to bounce ideas off of or someone who will challenge you and help you think things through.  

So, standing here on the edge of heart pounding excitement & a nauseating kind of fear,  I'm more than pleased to announce the opening of Poppy Paperie & Gifts opening in Walkerville, June 2012.

Give me the strength to yet again spread my wings and jump - trusting in myself that I will fly. 

13 May 2012

Mother's Day Wishes

I am strong because you raised me to see the best in others. 
I am courageous because you taught me that I could do anything. 
I am loving because you showered me with hugs and kisses. 
I am the woman I am because of the love of my mother. 
I am blessed. 
I am thankful. 
I love you more than I have words.

10 May 2012

Cleanse Week Recipes

It's Cleanse Week around these parts - better known as the City-Wide Cleanse put on by one of our local Naturopathic doctors. It's a week of no sugar, no gluten, no alcohol, no dairy, no meat, no coffee and no corn.  So though I do eat pretty cleanly, my body is currently screaming for a cup of coffee and a hunk of cheese! Normally there are a group of us who do it together and alternate cooking dinner and/or snacks so that you aren't eating the same thing for five days straight.   Tonight was my turn and I made the Roasted Sweet Potato Felafel which were delicious!

 Roasted Sweet Potato Felafel

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1.5lbs) 
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped 
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped 
Juice of 1/2 a lemon 
1/2 cup chickpea flour 
1 tsp olive oil 
sesame seeds 

Preheat oven to 425F (220C) and roast the potatoes whole until tender - 45 min to 1 hour.  Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool and then peel.  Put the potatoes, cumin, corriander, cilantro, lemon juice and chickpea flour in large bowl.  Season well and mash until smooth.  Stick in fridge to firm up for an hour or in freezer 20-30min.  When you take it out, mix should be sticky rather than really wet.  Reheat the oven to 400F/200C.  Use a scoop or spoons and make round, put on oiled cookie sheet and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake in oven for 15min until bases are golden brown.  Makes approx. 18 falafels, serves 4-6.  

I served these with just a giant lettuce/spinach salad but you could make the accompanying chickpea flour pancakes to go with them.  They were great with a little siracha hot sauce... 

Now to go attempt an oat/coconut/banana cookie to have with my herbal tea......

07 May 2012

Forever in our hearts....


Just a few weeks ago, our family lost a great woman.  After a few false starts and not being able to see the paper through my tears, here are the words I shared to pay tribute and say farewell...... 
Dear Gram
It was once written “You can shed tears that she is gone or smile because she has lived”.  You started to slip away from us years ago and now, as much as it pains us to lose you, it comforts us to know that you are finally at peace. 
There are certain intangible gifts a grandmother bestows – held in your heart , not your hand.  There was never a moment that we, your granddaughters ever doubted your love for us.  You had your three boys but we knew we were your world.
Memories of tea parties set in bone china and fine crystal.  Letting each of us choose the setting we loved the most to enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches.  Adventures on the city bus down to the Captial Theatre for movies.  Allowing us free reign with the golden syrup on our Yorkshire puddings at Sunday dinner.  Always indulging my request for an entire sheet of the world’s best apple squares as my birthday gift.  Every year.
We gather today to pay tribute to you.  To honour the most important gift you have given all of us – your love.  You showed us the love of two grandparents.  As a role model to us, your granddaughters, you were an example of a woman with strength, independence and fortitude.  We are who we are today because of you. 
You are not a gift taken away from us, but a gift given to us.  Our memories fill our hearts and comfort us. 
So as we say farewell,
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again, may Gold hold you in the palm of his Hand.
Know we loved you Gram.  We always will.  Until we meet me again….

06 May 2012

Re-writes....


It's been over two months since my last post.  In my drafts folder there are about 15 started posts that I never finished.  Messages that I started but that I couldn't wrap up.  Thoughts in my head that I couldn't put into words.  Feelings in my heart that I wasn't sure how to express.  Usually it's writing that helps me sort everything out and put questions into perspective but there has just been something blocking me.  I've been running here and there but haven't put myself fully into that either.  But it's spring and it's time for re-birth and starting again and I'm just going to leave all the half-written musings in the drafts folder and begin again. 


This weekend was the Kalamazoo Marathon, at which I ran the 1/2.  I didn't train nearly enough.  My IT band was still acting up.  But I couldn't not run.  It wasn't pretty.  It's the first time I wanted to walk off a course because I was hurting but I knew it was the kind of pain that I could stretch out and run through so I kept going.  By the time I got to mile 6 I was laying in the grass doing Pigeon attempting to stretch out my hip.  I laid there and remembered that this is JUST 13.1 miles.  My little fighter Emma didn't want to get spinal taps and 'picks' but she did it.  She kept fighting.  Steve was in turmoil his last few weeks and in total pain and yet he kept smiling.  When it got tough, I asked Steve to run with me.  And we did it.  There were tears at the end (as always!) and I got a new personal best of 2hrs 14 min. 

 
I ran this race with my girl Danah, who constantly reminds me that people come in to your life for a reason.  We have supported each other through our divorces and into new birth as single women.  The race is most certainly not only to the swift, but to those who keep on running.  Life may not always be easy.  The finish line may feel a million miles away.  There may be challenges that seem to test your faith, your tenacity and your strength but keep going.  Keep writing, even if you don't finish the story.  Keep running, even when you want to give up.  And keep smiling, even if you are super sweaty!! 
So, time to keep moving on.  As much as these past two months have been crazy and busy and challenging, I know I have to just keep moving and I'll get where I need to go. 

28 February 2012

give and take - a 40 day journey

It's most likely the time of year that people around me dislike the most....when I give something up for Lent in preparation for Easter.  I'm very steadfast to what I choose as it's the time of year when I'm a really good Catholic. The thing is, I don't usually choose things to cut out that are simple.  I do ten to pick items that seem like a sacrifice because it's small to give it up for only 40 days in comparison to the actual sacrifice of Jesus' life that is.  So as with (my own) tradition, Lent starts out with a Fat Tuesday dinner of Carrot Cake Pancakes (add 4c grated carrots, 1/2c chopped roasted walnuts and 2 tsp cinnamon to your fave pancake recipe) which this year I created a sort of "icing" made out of 1 pkg cream cheese, 2 tbsp greek yogurt and 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup (I think - use your judgement on how mapley you like it!) Basically just blend all together until it's a whipped topping type of product... put on top of pancakes and garnish with fruit and perhaps more maple syrup.  

Now in years past I have given up such things as prime time television, shopping (for non-essential items), coffee & tea, the elevator (while working on the 5th floor) and of course junk food (ie: desserts, candy & chips) which I have chosen to give up yet again! With the help of fresh fruit and a few other healthy treats like nuts & dates I figure out a way to maintain this small sacrifice.  I do my best to remain true to my faith and to strengthen it every day but it's true that Lent usually does act as a reminder for me to focus more on not only what I believe but what I can do to be more faithful, more giving and a better example.  This year I've decided to focus on not only what is going in to my mouth but also what comes out of it.  In addition to giving up the sweets & junk food (with the exception of air popped popcorn, cuz come on a girl has to snack on something!) I've decide to take this as an opportunity to put goodness out into the world as well.  As many people know I love to send mail - probably because I like to receive mail - and so as part of Lent for me, I also chose to send 3 letters or small packages per week in the mail to unsuspecting friends and family.  In fact I've also included a few suppliers from work and people from not only North America but European friends as well! I am taking it as another opportunity to be thankful for the good in my life - for the people who are in it and for the chance to brighten someone else's day.  So if you are giving something up for Lent (or if you are not) ask yourself what you can do to be a better person? How can you strengthen your faith? How can you put goodness out into the world?

14 February 2012

my cup runneth over....

Truth be told, last week I struggled with the whole idea of Valentines day.  I'm not sure if it was the grey weather or hormones but I had this overwhelming feeling like I was missing out on something by not having that "special someone" in my life this year.  For a moment there I just got sucked in to thinking about what I was missing from my life, rather than focusing on the amazing and lovely people I carry in my heart.   

For a while I was hesitant of Valentines because I do think that it is a day, like Christmas, where you can get swept up in the commercialism of it.  It's not a day about flowers or gifts or chocolates (though, truth be told I'll happily accept any of the aforementioned!!) but rather it's a day to do something extra nice for someone in your life.  To tell someone that they are in your heart and that you care for them - that could be a parent, a sibling, a cousin.  It could be a niece or nephew, a new friend or someone who's been in your life forever.  Or in my case also the chef and server at the restaurant where I get my morning coffee who I lovingly dropped cupcakes off to this morning!  My family and friends fill my heart with love and with gratitude everyday but it is nice to have Valentines as an extra-special day to remember to share that love back with them.  The way I look at it is like this - I love my mom & my dad every day but that doesn't mean that I don't also take an extra special moment to celebrate them on Mother's Day or Father's Day.  So though we should all try to carry love in our hearts everyday, perhaps we can use Valentines to just go a bit above and beyond and remember to share that love. 

Today also marks the last of the "firsts" which I'm sure was inadvertently part of my blues leading up to this day but also makes me finally feel at peace.  Truly, from the depth of me, I am happy and I am content.  I feel like I am living the life I'm meant to and though I'm not sure still of where I would like to end up or whom I may end up loving, I know that I'm walking the right path. I'll get there eventually.  I am ready to open my heart again - it may have been bruised but it has mended.  I am certainly stronger for every trial this last year has brought me and perhaps even more loving and appreciative of the best yet come. One year ago today, I took myself to the airport in Helsinki and boarded a plane to return to Canada. I ended one adventure in my life and took those first few scary steps in to this new chapter.  It's almost hard to believe that it's been a year already.  It's been a heck of year but it's now finally complete. First anniversaries over, first single birthday, first Christmas & New Years, first steps as a single woman yet again.  Heart a little crumpled but stronger and more confident. It's not always easy - there are weeks like last week when the skies were grey and the world felt lonely.  I may not have a romantic love to celebrate this year, but I will again.  I know I will and that makes me look forward to the future.  


I realize that Valentines Day has been special to me in the past - my parents used to not only celebrate their love for each other but for R & I as well.  In fact, I remember a certain Tom Cruise, Top Gun poster that graced my walls after one Valentines long ago.  (Before I had a height requirements for crushes that is!!) Celebration of Valentines has kind of fallen to the wayside for the past decade or so but I've decided that rather than becoming that "single-girl Valentines day scrooge", that I would embrace it once again.  I have so much love in my life and though I am grateful for it each and every day, I will take today to be extra nice! Through all of this, I've come to realize that I'm a big, old, romantic sap and I'm ok with it.  I embrace it! What is life without the love that we share? In yoga on Sunday, after the final pose, we opened our eyes to a little chocolate heart on our mat and the reminder from our teacher to send love out in to the universe and to do something special for those who we carry in our hearts.  And yes because I am my mother's daughter, I chose to bake that love in to something special for those who I'll be seeing today.  I am, most certainly, a lover.  I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I'm ok with it.  Better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all.  Once you are in my life I tend to keep hold of you in my heart.  If you are hurt or scared, I will be holding you close in my heart and sending you healing thoughts.  If you are happy or excited I will cheer along side you.  I will be carrying your heart in my heart. And today, I've come to realize that I'm happy. My heart is full. 

My cup runneth over. 

06 February 2012

The race is not only to the swift....

"....but to those who keep on running." This quote has long been a favourite of mine because as much as I adore running I'm not a front of the pack runner.  I'm one along the route trying my best, giving my all and I know that because of that the race is mine.  I am a pretty determined person, especially when it comes to trying something new. I don't give up easily and I will put all my effort out in the attempt.  Life is short - too short most of the time - and busy and we are all guilty of getting caught up in the day-to-day things.  It's not easy to try something new or to take a first step but it's that feeling of uncomfortable deep in our gut that lets us know that what we are about to do is something great.  It's like that feeling of falling in love - it's scary and it could turn out messy but that pit of your stomach anticipation is what makes it worthwhile.  

This weekend I attempted to snowboard - it's been about 10 years since my last attempt which pretty much consisted of T making me stand up on the board and sending me down the hill!! I was a guest with my friend Soph and her boyfriend Hart at his father's chalet a few hours northeast of here and Hart (a certified instructor) was kind enough to spend some time with me teaching me the basics of snowboarding.  I spent the afternoon by myself on the beginner hill practicing and I have to admit how humbling it was to sit there by myself at the top of the hill, out of breath, sweating my butt off and surrounded by 6year old children who were all zooming down the hill with reckless abandon.  There I was finding it beyond difficult to just basically stand up on my board and make it a few feet downhill and wondering why I thought I could do this.  There was a moment where the thought crossed my mind that I could easily head into the lodge, grab a spot in front of the fireplace and wait for the others to finish the day.  But I don't give up that easily.  So I sat there for a few minutes - my tush slightly numb from sitting in the snow and decided to just be grateful for this chance.  To be grateful that I have a strong body to even attempt this and that I have a courageous streak within me to have the guts to try.  I fell - alot.  My butt and my knees were a bit worse for wear and my ego slightly bruised but that went away after a few moments relaxing in the hot tub, appreciating both the people and the beautiful scenery around me.  The next day, we went over a few things from the day before and then I sent them on their way to enjoy the runs while I practiced.  It took a few attempts but I got up and replayed what Hart taught me over and over in my head.  I made it 1/2 way down the hill.  The next time I made it just a bit further.  And then, after a few more goes I made it all the way down.  I stood up, I made turns, I sped up and slowed down when I needed.  I remembered to look up, to shift my weight to stay low and bent in my knees and I made it all the way down.  There I was at the bottom of the hill, unstrapping my board and walking over to magic carpet to make my way back to the top to try again and I cried a little (big surprise lol!).  I was so damn proud of myself for taking the leap - for trying again and again.  For pulling myself up after each fall and getting back on that board and for getting to the bottom of the hill.  

Life isn't without falls and not without challenges - because without them, you would never know that feeling of pride when you do pick yourself up and make it through.  To be honest (and those of you who really know me won't be surprised) I cry every time I cross the finish line of a race because I did it - because I pushed myself to my limit, dug a bit deeper and I pulled it out.  I most likely will not be a champion snowboarder anytime soon but I'm my own champion and I'm pretty darn pleased with myself.  My bruised knees and sore upper body may currently disagree but we'll be back out on the slopes as soon as we can!

29 January 2012

Last night was a late one - very late - and I'm not usually one to stay up or out past say 12am... So last night as we sat chatting in B & R's living room and noticed the clock said 3:38 I nearly stopped breathing.   10am yoga class was going to be there before you knew it lol! The other reason that I don't stay up late is that I honestly can't make myself sleep in.  This morning I tried hard to just keep laying in bed even if I wasn't sleeping but alas, by 8:15am I had to get up!! But it was all worth the lack of sleep - we (the 12 of us!) had a lovely dinner at Take Five - I wish I had more of an appetite though because there was kangaroo on the menu and I would have loved to try it.  Next time I guess... The scallops were still very delightful and I'd recommend for those hankering for a good chunk of meat who don't feel like going down to The Keg.  

Needless to say today I'm slightly sluggish however we got a beautiful blustery snow storm so I just hunkered down and cooked & cleaned - I know my domestic abilities are beyond awesome!! Today's menu was a curried lentil & chickpea soup, chicken breasts encrusted with almonds & quinoa salad.  Here is what I did (I think ;))

Curried Lentil & Chickpea Soup 
1 onion diced 
5 celery stalks diced 
2 c diced carrot 
1 sml zucchini diced 
1/8 tsp cinnamon 
2 tsp curry powder 
salt & pepper
1/2" piece of fresh ginger chopped tiny
3/4 c green lentils (rinsed) 
1/4 c red lentils (rinsed) 
2 c cooked chickpeas (or 1 can if you don't cook your own) 
1 c strained tomato
4 c broth (chicken or vegetable) 

Saute onion in grapeseed oil over med high heat, add in fresh ginger, celery, zucchini & carrots and saute until veggies softened.  Add lentils & tomato and saute for 1 min.  Add in curry & cinnamon and then broth.  Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for 1/2 hour - stirring occasionally.  After 25min add in the chickpeas until finished cooking.  

For the chicken I used my new favourite product (Greek Yogurt Artichoke & Asiago Dip) and topped the chicken breast with a layer of the dip and then covered in slivered almonds.  Bake at 350 for about 20min.  

Qunioa salad - cook the quinoa as directed on package.  I added in sliced kalamata olives, tomatoes, green onions, sunflower seeds, shelled hemp seeds and feta cheese.  I made a little olive oil, balsamic and cilantro dressing.  Once quinoa is cooled - all all in a bowl and mix! I cut up the chicken breast & served over the quinoa.  Will be even better for lunch tomorrow!! 

What could be better than a weekend full of good friends (new and old) and great eats? My heart and my stomach are both full! 

25 January 2012

Take the show on the road.....

I'll be honest - I love to make people laugh.  Like I LOVE IT, love it! Sometimes I try really hard to be witty and bring on the laughter and yet there other times when it just oozes right out of me unintentionally.  Usually the later includes me falling down or running into something because I"m naturally very clumsy as well. But no matter how it happens, I LOVE IT! Sometimes the audience may not be one you would think you should crack jokes in front of, however I'm pretty sure my fertility doctor used to be thoroughly amused by me. I used to save up jokes for our appointments! (Side note, I did see him and his lovely wife out for sushi the other day when I was picking up take out but I wasn't sure they would remember me after all these years.  Plus it would be kinda awkward if they didn't and I was all like 'hey remember me? you used to be all up in my lady parts? oh and btw that marriage didn't work out so I guess it's a good thing neither did the fertility!") Anyhoooooo.....
Last night was ballet class night and as usual there was a lot less dance moves than laughter happening in the studio.  It started for me as I was getting dressed for class (I like to make it all about the outfit and channel my inner "Fame" starlet) when I couldn't decide between purple or silver glittery leg warmers.  And then I really wanted to wear my tutu but I was walking to class and I couldn't figure out a way to close my long winter jacket over my tutu-butt.  For those of you who know me, I already have quite a bit of 'junk in the trunk' so adding in a layer of fluff pretty much made that impossible.  Besides wanting to of course dance in my tutu, (b/c just like ice skating, I'm better in the correct outfit) I wanted to also wear it to make my teacher laugh - seeing as I was walking over to her house to then walk to the studio together.  How hilarious would it be for a 5' 9" grown-up ballerina to show up at your door at 8:30 at night?? 

I honestly think if someone were to put up a secret camera while our class was happening, the ridiculous shit comes out of our mouths (in addition to our dance moves) may make you pee your pants a little.  Last night I did threaten to "live tweet" from class because some of the statements were just too funny.  And to be honest most of them weren't meant to be amusing which in turn just really makes it funnier! To sum it up - the class started off with our instructor offering us sour patch kids "with juicy crap in the middle" to get hopped up on crazy sugar and dance. Trying to perfect a move, there was the question "is this move supposed to make my back fat scrunch up when I do it?" There was some running into the wall after doing turns across the room (I was quite dizzy lol!!) and doing our leaps across the studio JC busts out with "we don't even SOUND graceful!".  Maybe you just have to be there - maybe we are just crazy but I tell you what, that one hour of supposed dance class is more about the laughter and friendships that have been cultivated than the moves.  Cuz let's face it - the only one with the moves is our teacher and we are most likely the least obedient and graceful students she has ever had but also likely the most amusing! 


One of the lovely ladies I follow on Twitter has recently taken up speed skating as just one of the many things she hasn't been afraid to try. She's pretty hilarious and very insightful and I recommend you take a read at www.speedskatingmom.com.   Not to toot my own proverbial horn, but I've realized that I'm not really afraid of much.  I guess I sometimes take that for granted when others express their trepidation over something I try to convince them to go for it.  I really will try most anything and I'm not afraid to make a fool out of myself (luckily so, since I am pretty much the clumsiest, most embarrassing person ever!) The above quote is so totally true and refers back to me whole post on not being afraid to say I Love You.  I've never really put too much thought into it but after the craziness of the past year or so, people have often expressed how well I seem to have handled things. Now I've certainly had my dark moments but I do choose to see my divorce more as starting a new chapter in my life rather than starting over.  Starting over would imply that what came before was trying to be replaced by new and I truly don't want that.  It's the 'everything else' that brought me to 'here and now'.  Life isn't about forgetting the chapter before, those lines build all the characters in the story.  A new chapter is a new beginning - a new chance to make a change, to try something new, to develop the character, to push yourself in an uncharted direction.  Ask yourself - what is something that you've always wanted to do? What's on your bucket list?  What's stopping you? Push your own boundaries.  You don't have to be good at it - you just have to give it a go.  Maybe you'll rock it! Maybe you won't like it after all.  You may suck at it.  You may even talk about 'being so ill that you poop the bed' in ballet class... You just never know!! Whatever your dreams may be - chase them.  Don't let them pass you by because the worst thing ever would be to see you were nearing the end of the book and realize that you forgot to read all the chapters. You get one life.  LIVE IT!

24 January 2012

Celebrating my girl Sophia with maple & walnuts...

As I've said many times before, I am forever grateful for my time with T and one of the reasons why is for the amazing people he brought in to my life.  One of those people is my friend Soph.  She is beautiful, loving and creative.  She truly has been there for me anytime that I've needed anything during this whole ordeal.  And not just because she happens to live upstairs from me!! Well last week was her birthday and since we've both been going a million miles an hour lately, we found time to have a little get together last night which of course was an excuse for me to bake! I have of course adapted the following recipe using a new gluten-free flour blend....

For Maple Filling:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

For Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup greek yogurt 

Top with Cinnamon Glaze (see below)
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Butter and flour a 9 or 10-cup bundt, tube or coffee cake pan. Tap out excess flour.

For Filling:
Using fork, mix flour, butter and cinnamon in small bowl until crumbly. Stir in walnuts and maple syrup. (This will be a liquid streusel).

For Cake:
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric stand mixer and paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter in large until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in two additions, alternating with sour cream, just until blended.

Spoon half of batter into prepared pan. Spoon about two-thirds of maple filling over batter. Spread remaining batter over filling and smooth top. Dot with remaining filling. Bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer pan to rack and cool 15 minutes. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Invert cake onto rack, then invert cake, streusel side up, onto platter. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar when cool or drizzle with Cinnamon Glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions:
In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, milk and ground cinnamon. Drizzle over the cooled cake, letting it drip down the sides! 


Served with a nice mug of peppermint tea, Tiina, Sophia and I got to enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted girl time - catching up from before the holidays and toasting Soph's birthday.  Two lovely women whom I would never have had in my heart, had it not been for my time with T.  It's a good time to also note that on another blog The Hungry Runner Girl, she today mentions a study done by Laura Klein, PhD that states that women who have close ties with other women have lower blood pressure, heart rates and cholesterol levels.  As well, woman who maintain close and consistent relationships with girlfriends over a 9-year period cut their health risk by 60 percent! By contrast, women who do not maintain close female relationships have health risks similar to those caused by smoking or carrying extra weight. So, since I actually met these ladies over 9 years ago, they have not only enhanced my life but they have also made me healthier.  See there is always a silver lining. 

19 January 2012

a tribute

It's been five years since she took her last breath as I held her hand and cried.  She was most certainly one of the most cherished people in my life and I am forever grateful for the time I got to spend with her.  I am blessed to have so many memories and to have had such a special relationship.   There are so many things I wish I could have said to her - so many words that I hope she heard as I whispered them in her ear those last few days.  Just how much I loved her.  How she inspired me.  How strong she made me.   

As with everything in my life when I don't know what to do I run or I write.  The night before she died, when I couldn't sleep, it was too late to run and so I put pen to paper and wrote my goodbye to her.  I didn't know that they would be some of the hardest words I've ever had to say.  I'm not usually at a loss for words - nor shy in front of crowds - but the day I had to say goodbye to her was likely the most difficult time I've ever had speaking.  I'm pretty sure I started three times because I started to cry every time I opened my mouth. I take a moment to read through that eulogy every year on this date and I still only make it a few sentences in before the tears roll.  


As a mother, and a grandmother, she was most certainly the center of our family.  There was at least one of us at her house every day.  It was our place to gather as a family - whether it be on the front porch, around the kitchen table or in the sunroom.  There was always something cooking, coffee brewing and laughter.  When we knew the time was getting close, I started to secretly video tape her when we visited to catch some of her stories on tape.  I wish I could have videotaped her cooking more than anything else.  I wish I had more of her voice.  More of her laughter. Today I sat and watched her last birthday when my sis, T and I went over for cake in the evening.  The total randomness of the conversation made me laugh and cry.  Hearing her voice, her words... When she blew out her candles and said she was wishing to go see Nannu and we begged her to just hold on through the holidays. We gave her our gift of a bag of Sunchips (which she said she was going to hide in the cupboard) she told us that being able to celebrate her birthday with us was like someone gave her a thousand dollars.

She taught me how to cook and when I would ask her how much of an ingredient and she would tell me "you know, enough" or "until it feels right".  It used to drive me bat-wing crazy that there wasn't an actual measurement - she gauged things with a handful or a water glass. And yet, now as I cook or bake it's exactly how I do it.  She is with me always.  Her "i love you's" were in the form of food and as a family we were always well fed. The unique thing is that you can ask everyone in our family and they will have all their own crazy memories of this wonderful woman. 

I will always carry her with me in my heart.  There are so things I miss but the memories I have are more precious than anything.  I miss hearing her tell me about what she had watched on tv the night before - anything from a nice story on puppy dogs (the Lion King), soap operas (in Spanish) and the infamous late night Puppetry of the Penis (eh, maybe it was a piece a wood!).  I miss opening the door to the kitchen and smelling peppers & potatoes frying.  I miss her little white head peering out the window at the back door when you left her house at night. I remember my the day I left for University - I called her just before we left for Ottawa to say one last good-bye.  My grandmother, usually made of steel, cried and asked me why I had to go so far away from her.  She used to freeze everything - even milk - which would baffle me.  She would re-use the bread bag about 100 times before she would use it for trash.  She would also hide Sunchips or Cool Ranch Doritos and sneak bowls at night.  It is those memories and stories that comfort us when we miss you, that bond us closer as a family as we remember.  I do hope that you and Nanna watch over us all and that you are proud of the legacy that you leave behind. Nothing will ever be the same without you.  Ti amo bella. Ci manchi di tutti i giorni.