Do good, feel good

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Over the last few years, I have found myself very driven to spend a great deal of my spare time volunteering.  I have always liked helping people so this step was a natural progression in my desire to offer my time to help those in need.  With a background in hospitality and a passion for cooking, it came as no surprise to me that I have combined all of those things about myself and I have become very active with our local Food Bank.

When you weave your way into the world of volunteering, you see just how many people are right along side of you, driven by the same aspiration to lend a hand where they can.  The faces you see in your daily life suddenly become the hands behind the volunteer work that you didn’t know they were a part of.  They don’t do it for the recognition, they simply do it because they want to help.

I have been very fortunate to become a part of a group of people with a vision that continues to grow to serve our small community.  Sure, there are a few people who need more recognition than others and an occasional public pat on the back, but there are always a few of those people in every crowd.  Thankfully our intentions come from the same place and we put forth the same effort to achieve the desired results.

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If you have ever entertained the idea of volunteering, I highly recommend it.  Just knowing that your efforts make such a difference in people’s lives, regardless of where you volunteer your time, is a truly heart-warming feeling.   And there is no shortage of places that could use an extra pair of hands or two.  The amount of time you commit to volunteering is always up to you but every second you spend helping those who struggle is well worth the time you take to show other people that you care.

 

 

Soup for the soul

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There is something comforting about being safely tucked inside on a snowy winter’s day.  What makes it even better is having homemade soups simmering on the stove and having the house smell like home.  It is a nesting feeling for me being in my kitchen and having the aromas of what I chose to create permeate my house.

I love to cook and I absolutely love to make soup.  My dream would be to have a restaurant that focuses on soup and fresh-baked biscuits and goodies, allowing me to get back into baking and making wedding cakes again.  I also love to play Scrabble and I thought if I ever was able to own a restaurant, each table would have a Scrabble board and I would call my restaurant “Alphabet Soup”.

This weekend, I have been creating big pots of soup to portion out for meals and keep in my freezer, as well as give some to my brother and sister-in-law for their lunches.  Some soups are staples and the recipe is followed to the letter.  Others are made on a whim whenever I feel the need to pair flavors and see if it works.  These were the flavors this past weekend:

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  • Cream of Mushroom Soup with Sherry
  • Cauliflower, Pear and Blue Cheese
  • Broccoli, Peach and Brie

I keep holding the dream of having my own restaurant close to my heart.  Every dream needs a time and a place to come to fruition.  Perhaps now is not the time and maybe this is not the place, but I continue to hold onto my dream in the hope that it may become a reality.  Soup maker by day, writer by night.  What could be better?

 

Becoming a student of the law

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I have not decided to go back to school.  Instead, I have vowed to become a student of life and pursue the merits of the Law of Attraction.

I recently overheard friends discussing their desire to create a vision board.  Although I knew vaguely what a vision board was, I had never been entertained by the idea of creating one for myself.  I love to lose time dreaming about my perfect kitchen.  I have seen my future home in my brain so many times, and the idyllic life that goes along with it, but I have never felt the need to purchase a white board and post pictures of my idealized Arcadian existence until now.

my new kitchen

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I have envisioned myself cooking in this kitchen.  I have seen the faces of the guests in those chairs enjoying wine and appetizers while I artfully prepare the next course, amusing their bouche with each morsel.  My fully stocked pantry is organized so well, with labels facing forward, that it is only protected by a Muskoka-style screen door.  The wine cellar is filled with robust red and crisp white wines and the food is freshly cooked every day.  This is my bliss.

To add to my paradise there is a writing nook off in the corner, away from everything else, where my dreams are free to escape the confines of my brain and spontaneously arrange themselves on a blank page.  All facets of my creativity thrive in this space and my happiness is shared with those around me.

Vision boards appeal to both the conscious and subconscious levels of our instinct.  As I wrote this post, my vision board was staring back at me, daring me to make it a reality.  Those spaces invite me to live within them.  Those dreams want me to follow them into my new future.  And those images will pursue me in my sleep and be there in the morning to remind me that my desires are real and I should never lose hope.

Tofu or not tofu……that is the question

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I always had a preconceived notion of what it would be like.  I avoided it like the plague and since I have been enjoying my plant-based/Vegan eating, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would cave and try it for the sake of trying it.  And although my foray into Tofu may have done it a great injustice, it was just as horrible as I thought it would be.

On my day off this past Monday, I stopped into our local health food store to pick up some things to bring home for dinner.  The Polenta Bake was delicious and the Falafel, while tasty, was a bit dry.  I stepped outside of my comfort zone and bought a few pieces of marinated Tofu.  The woman behind the counter assured me that, when it was heated up, it would taste like a chicken nugget.  That should have been my first hint that it would be something that was meant to taste like food, but wasn’t real food.

(my home-cooked dinner…..without tofu)

In my quest to eat better and feel better, I have drastically changed the way I eat.  I have not, in over seven weeks, craved any of the processed food or meats that I used to eat before I embarked on this journey.  I have been truly surprised that I have not had any moments where I deviated from eating food that is essentially good for me and is in its purest form.

I get my protein from beans, nuts and oats, among several other foods, and I feel better than I have in a long time.  My quality of sleep is better, my energy is better and I have no physical symptoms of the stomach upsets that I had before I cut out all of the processed crap that I once forced my body to ingest.

I am not going to preach about plant-based eating but I will say it is a dietary change that made a world of difference for me.  And in that brave new world that includes foods that I could not have imagined enjoying the way I do, Tofu will never be one of those foods.

 

 

They had me at bacon

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I have two words for you – carrot bacon.  Coming from a professed meat lover, I know these two words will shock and amaze you but I have just made my first batch today and will continue to do so.  It was delicious!

My foray into more of a vegetable and plant-based world has been encouraged by a friend who has recently decided to eat a Vegan diet.  I am supportive of his decision and I am hoping that his food choices will help him alleviate some of his medical anomalies.

In his quest to research his new eating style, he has sent me several videos on the topic and they have been very interesting, to say the least.  For a woman somewhat shy of fifty, I have noticed my body does not react well to the foods that were once digested without a second thought.  Bloating is a common complaint so I decided to investigate a plant-based diet and give it a try.  I am not confessing to becoming a Vegan but I am going to give this new lifestyle a fair shot and see how I feel after a couple of weeks.

Food plays a huge role in our lives.  In our twenties, we could eat whatever we wanted.  In our thirties, we became a little more conscientious and made better choices.  In our forties and fifties, we become sadly aware that we are no longer in our twenties and thirties and our lifestyles have to evolve.  I am excited to venture into this new chapter of healthy eating and thankful that the internet is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to recipe ideas.

The carrot bacon is done.  The pistachios, walnuts and almonds are toasted.  The breakfasts and lunches are prepared for the next few days and I am eager to find out how this journey evolves and how my body adapts to the changes.  My first two plant-based dinners were a huge success and I felt full without feeling sluggish.  That to me is a huge step in the right direction.

I am not committing 100% to the Vegan diet.   I may have the odd meal that may not be entirely plant-based but  I am willing to commit to taking this new journey one day at a time.  If it improves my health and well-being, I’m willing to give it a try.

 

 

Time is running out

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I have been blessed over the last six months.  Not only have I been able to work full-time at a job I enjoy, I have been able to focus the substantial increase of my spare time into the things that I am truly passionate about.

I have always been a creative person.  As a child, arts and crafts were my go-to hobby and when I reached the age of eleven I was introduced to the art of writing.  My grade six teacher urged us to express ourselves in ways that I had never thought about and from that moment, I was hooked.  I began to write poetry and short stories.  I was so addicted to words that I got my library card and became a voracious reader.

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I was also introduced to cooking at an early age and, under the tutelage of my dad, learned to create meals that did not come from a recipe.  I learned to experiment with flavors and was able to create some impressive dinners with simple items found in any pantry.  And I made a point to commit his cooking faux pas to memory – NEVER make scrambled eggs with Egg Nog!

I have been able to take all of my spare moments over the last few months and really focus on the things I love – cooking and writing.  This past weekend, I added three thousand more words to my novel-in-progress and spent some time in my own kitchen creating some fantastic and creative soups for myself and my family.  The time is slowly running out for me to have the time to focus on the wants instead of the needs.  Soon the resort will be back in full swing and my spare time will be a dim memory of my past.

My email address is a glaring reminder of how I will spend my remaining days and nights before my world changes – “carpe diem – seize the day”.

It was never just a muffin

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I am addicted to Pinterest.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  But Pinterest has opened up new avenues of cooking for me as well as opened a few doors to my past.  Today is a glowing example of that.

I wasn’t looking for anything specific so when I came across a simple picture of a blueberry muffin, I was immediately transported back to our house on Foreman Road.  I was 10 or 11 and I was in our kitchen, as I always was on Sunday mornings, making Betty Crocker Blueberry muffins for breakfast.

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I loved Sundays.  I loved the fact that my parents trusted my ability at such a young age to prepare a breakfast that we would all eat in their bedroom, they tucked under the covers and me (and sometimes my brother) sitting at the end of the bed.  Thinking back to those wonderful times, I can almost smell the freshly baked morsels just out of the oven.  I can see the pat of butter melting into the white cake, making the blueberries glisten in morning light from their bedroom window.

If I close my eyes, I am back in that kitchen mixing the ingredients ever so carefully, taking the lid off the tin of real blueberries in syrup and making sure I am careful not to spill the syrup and stain anything in its path.

Just when I feel like my parents have slipped a little further into my memory cache, one simple picture of a blueberry muffin was all it took to bring them stampeding back into my thoughts.  And now that I look back at all those breakfasts in bed, it was never really about making muffins.  It was about making memories…..moments that will help my parents be with me forever.