Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End Thoughts on Getting Fit, Healthy and Organized

Well, it's been a heck of a year, hasn't it? I don't tend to make New Year's resolutions because I don't want to set myself up for failure. When I started this blog, my goal was pretty simple: Get Fit, Get Organized and Get Healthy. I've had some successes, some failures...lots of failures. I've learned a lot about myself too.

Queen Anne's Lace

This year, I made the choice to live healthier by going vegan. It was a lot easier than I expected. I thought I would crave all the foods that I "can't" eat. It's been more of a choice. I choose not to eat food made from animal products. The only thing that has really tripped me up has been chocolate. I'm going to have to make it a point to find some vegan chocolate in the near future, even if I have to buy it online and get it shipped to me.

So, I finally feel like I'm on the road to better health. Three months vegan and feeling pretty good about my choice. It's helped me to lose a little weight and get a little more comfortable in my skin too--or at least my jeans. Though my jeans have been falling down a bit lately and that is a nice feeling. So going vegan has helped me to get a bit fitter too. I know I need to add exercise too to get fitter.

Now for getting organized? Well, I've made some progress, but not as much as I would like. I'm going to keep getting rid of the clutter. I need to shed some of the stuff that has collected up around us. We have more stuff than we know what to do with, and yet there are so many people in the world who don't have the basics. It blows my mind somedays. I'm looking forward to getting the clutter out and letting it bless someone else.

What can I say? I am definitely a work in progress, but the process has been fun. I am learning so much about so many different things. Thank you for following me and hanging around to read the crazy stuff I write. I wish you all a happy new year full of health, love and happiness.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

3 Easy Ways to Change the World.

Sometimes when you look at the world and all that seems to be wrong with it, it can be overwhelming. There is so much to be done, that it seems impossible, so rather than do anything at all, we do nothing.

The truth is that small actions can have huge impact. You don't have to do a lot and you don't have to solve every problem to make a difference. Here are three easy ways to make a big impact.

Loyalty Points

Did you know you could use points that you earn for doing everyday things to make a donation to a charitable cause? For example, Air Miles has five causes you can support with a donation of 170-175 miles. Aeroplan also lets you donate miles to more than ten causes in a lump sum or by donating 2% of your earnings. Another easy way to donate your points? Redeem for certificates that can be used by charities--a grocery store certificate for a food bank, a clothing store certificate for a teen during a Christmas gift drive--the options are truly endless.

Reuse, Freecycle

An easy way to reduce the amount of items going to the landfill is to donate them for reuse. Many charities like the Salvation Army, Good Will and the Canadian Diabetes Association are happy to have your cast-offs so they can resell them to fund their activities.

Another way to deal with unwanted or unneeded items is to Freecycle them. This is a great grassroots idea. You post your unwanted item online to your local Freecycle group. Someone who would like the item will e-mail you. You choose who to give it to and arrange a mutually convenient pick up time. Alternatively, if you need an item, you can post and see if anyone has one to offer. The main rule is that the item has to be free. It's a great way to reduce your clutter and have a positive social impact. Not only are you giving new life to old items, but you can also help someone out who really needs what you have but may not have the resources to purchase the item new.

Care 2

Care 2's tagline is "Care 2 Make a Difference". This Web site is great because it houses so many different things that you can do to make a difference. There are petitions you can sign, stories you can read so that you stay informed about causes that matter to you, lots of articles and information, and some really cool features. You can earn "butterfly" credits for doing different actions on the Web site. You get 20 credits for taking a daily action--this usually amounts to less than 5 minutes to read an article or sign a petition. Your butterfly credits add up and you can redeem them for different things like carbon offset, school supplies, whatever matters to you. Another neat feature is click to donate. It is so easy. You click on a cause, and the advertisers donate to it. There is a tally so that you can see your positive impact over time. It's so easy to do and takes very little time.

These are just three little ways that you can take small, easy actions that have big impacts. Small actions, taken by many people, add up. You can be a part of positive change in the world around you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Music, Videos and oh yeah, JC Chasez, *NSYNC and even a little NKOTB too.

This is something that a lot of people don't know about me in real life. I love Christmas music! Now I must admit that I hated hated hated it when I worked in retail and I had to listen to 3 hours of Christmas music on a continuous loop (do you know how many versions of Jingle Bell Rock there are??).

Consider this my off-topic post for the month as well as a gratuitous JC Chasez post. I find it very odd that most searches that come to this blog are looking for info about Mr. Chasez. For those of you who want to know if he's married. I don't think so, but if he is, good for him. All I can say is that there had better be a new season of America's Best Dance Crew in the New Year! And I would love it if his movies actually got released. I'm still waiting to see 21 and a wake up!

Sorry, back on topic. There are lots of reasons I love Christmas music, but probably at the heart of it is that they are usually about love. They kind of boost your spirits, no?

I love this video, but what were they thinking with those goggles? And all that orange?

And just for fun, here's an oldie from New Kids. I remember staying up to watch this and I taped it! Is it bad that I know exactly when Jordan takes his jacket off still?

OK, I could probably tell you most of Arsenio's monologue too. I watched it quite a few times.

One more video. I love this song for a couple of reasons:

First reason: It's acapella! And they do it so well.
Second reason: It's a hymn. What a great song. I was at church this weekend to see my kids in a play (they were fabulous) and it was such a treat to sing real Christmas songs. Not songs about Santa or Rudolph, but songs that really celebrate what Christmas is supposed to be. It's amazing to hear Christmas carols as worship.

I love the old standard Christmas carols for another reason too. They remind me of my grandmother. She loved the songs and she roped me into singing with her in a choir for Christmas Eve service once (at a church that neither of us went to!). My grandmother had Alzheimer's, but right up until near the end, if she heard the piano play one of her favourite songs, she would try to sing along. That's how much she loved to sing. I always miss her more at this time of year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Getting Healthy...Check! Getting Fit....Working On It!

If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that I have struggled to get myself fit, organized and healthy and I have varying amounts of success with each one, but not at the same time. Well, now I'm trying it a different way.

Going vegan has helped me to get healthier. I've been making better food choices and I'm not ravenously hungry at any point of the day (unless supper is late, but I'm working on that!). I don't have the wicked chocolate or Coke (as in Coca Cola!) cravings that I once had. I suspect that this means that my depression is in better control as well because craving chocolate was a sure fire sign that my depression was not in check.

Now on to the next phase. It's time to work on getting fit now. The weight has been coming off slowly, since I started following a vegan diet. This makes me happy because I don't want to lose weight too fast and have it all bounce back. Now it's time to get serious about losing the weight. I fired up the Wii Fit again finally.

Wii Fit
It was over 200 days since I last used it. OK, so that's not good. Then the machine weighed me and bloop, bloop, bloop, my Mii gets all fat and obese again. The cool thing is that the weight was down :) And I got 15 minutes of workout time done. So, now I have to keep it up...again. But hey, what have I got to lose, right?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Prepared Vegan Foods & Meatless Meats

As much as I enjoy cooking, I also enjoy having a night off. I was very excited to hear from a vegan co-worker that one of the grocery stores in town offers vegan prepared foods. She was eating meatless nuggets the other day for lunch.

Well, we made the trek to the other side of town, and I found a nice selection of vegan foods. My husband joked that for someone who doesn't eat meat, I'm going out of my way to have food that looks and tastes like meat. He likes to call the meatless sandwich meats "phoney baloney". Of course, I told him that it wasn't balogna, it was salami!

Tonight I had a veggie patty and it was really good. It didn't taste anything like a hamburger, and that was just fine with me. I'll probably try the nuggets later in the week. I put the patty in a bun with some lettuce and had some baby carrots on the side. Finished up with some salsa and some whole wheat tortilla chips. Yummy!

The store also had different things like meatless ground beef and chicken and meatless Canadian bacon. Interesting.... I missed the vegan cheese. It turns out I should have looked in the cheese section, not the vegan deli meat section. Who knew? I'm just glad that I've found a store that stocks the type of foods I want to eat.

I had one of those moments that reinforced my decision to go vegan while we were shopping. My youngest daughter loves to look at the fish tanks in the store. She pointed out the lobsters to me and said, "Look Mama, crabs!" I said, "No, those are lobsters," and then it hit me that those poor creatures were going to be someone's dinner. It made me sad.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Veggie Stew and Vegan Dumplings Comfort Food!

This afternoon, hubby was more than willing to make pasta for dinner again. Don't get me wrong, I love pasta. I'm half Italian, so I think there is some sort of rule about the fact that I have to love pasta. But even pasta lovers get tired of pasta. And since I feel like I have a cold coming on, I wanted some good old comfort food. Or maybe that is good new comfort food since I'm trying to find vegan comfort foods.

If you've read any of my other mofo posts, you'll already know that for a lot of basic stuff, I just wing it. Tonight's soup is another winged recipe. I like to check the fridge and pull out any veggies that haven't been eaten before they go bad and chop them up for soup.

Tonight I started with a clove of garlic and a little oil. Once it was cooked, I added some vegetable soup stock and water. The the veggies: potatoes, sweet potato, some turnip, some frozen corn, a bit of cabbage, some broccoli and a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) Added some whole wheat flour to thicken it up to be more like a stew. To do this, I put some flour in a bowl and whisked it with some water so that it didn't get lumpy. Spices I used were parsley and oregano.

Then I used the recipe I found here for vegan dumplings. (Heavens! I actually used a recipe!). This is one I've tried before with excellent results. The only substitution I made was to use whole wheat flour. These turn out really well and everyone loves them.

My youngest child is a picky eater and she tried her stew and said, "It's so good!"

This is not my stew, but I like the picture!
Country Captain Stew

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan Mofo--Crock Pot Minestrone Soup

I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and that is one reason my crock pot does not get a lot of use. I'm usually packing my lunch and eating/drinking my breakfast on my way out the door. So today, when my daughter's kindergarten class let the children in early because it was raining, I found myself at home with a few minutes to spare. My husband was working at a physical job today, and I knew he'd come home and say, "Let's get pizza" and since the pizza place we frequent does not make "special order" pizzas (read--vegan), it's a pain to order from there.

Long story short, I thought I'd make something in my crock pot. I had a library book on vegan crock pot cooking, so I took a quick look, found something that I had most of the ingredients for and took a shot.

The recipe was pretty easy and I'll include a link to the book I used so you can take a look if you want to. I've never made minestrone soup, so I was really looking forward to it. It smelled delicious as soon as I opened the door tonight. I had asked my husband to put the pasta in the soup when he came home since he gets home about a half hour before me. I even left the cook book out so he could see the recipe. You know where I'm going with this, don't you?

I went into the kitchen and lifted the lid on my pot of soup to find that there was in fact no liquid left in the pot. I asked him how much pasta he put in. His answer, "The whole thing." That's right, he put a whole bag of pasta in the crockpot and then walked away. It's one of those things that you just have to laugh at because it turned out well as a pasta dish, even if that is not what I intended to make. I said earlier that part of being a vegan is experimentation, and I think this proves it. Best of all, the kids loved the pasta, even my daughter who hates sauce on her pasta. Hubby is not in the dog house this time. Next time? Well, we'll see.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Stir Fry and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Hello! Welcome to my life! I have gained a few followers over the last weeks and I wanted to say "Hi! I'm glad to meet you!"

I think the challenge I have with vegan eating is that it's not as easy to just grab something and eat it without thinking. I guess that is the point. I have become more mindful of what I am eating. This means spending more time reading labels, trying to figure out if something is actually vegan. Imagine my surprise last week when I discovered that the veggie cheese I was considering purchasing contained milk! How disappointing!

The fun part is trying new things. As a vegan, you can't be afraid of new foods. You have to be open to new foods and new ways of cooking foods. I really enjoy the freedom of gathering up some veggies, chopping them up and throwing them all together in a stir fry. I don't always have the best results, but most days, they are pretty good.

Today, I made a stir fry with bean sprouts, mushrooms, bok choy, cabbage and carrots (for the colour!). I started with a bit of vegetable broth, then added some soya sauce to cook the vegetable with. I made some brown rice (I think I have finally figured out how to make it well!) and then threw it together. OK, well not literally. I have been tempted to throw stuff around the kitchen, but tonight was not one of those nights. I knew I had done well when hubby had seconds (and he claims to dislike brown rice!). I've got two servings put away in the fridge for lunch this week too, so that's a little less stress for me in the morning. Now I don't have to try to figure out a vegan lunch at the last minute.

I'm attempting to make some oatmeal raisin cookies. The recipe I used seemed pretty good. I had everything on hand, so that was a bonus. They are not turning out very well though! The cookies are very sweet and have fallen apart when I take them off the tray. We'll see how the second tray turns out, because you never know.
I think that I'll try another recipe next time, one with less sugar for sure!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan MoFo: The Dreaded Potluck

I had a potluck meeting at work today. I've never liked potlucks, because I never know what to bring. This was my first potluck that I had to go to since I went vegan. Not a problem, right? It took me awhile to figure out what I was going to make--who am I kidding. It took me a long time. And then I remembered that I bought some mixes this week at the grocery store. I had a hummus mix--just add water and stir. Easy. I had pita breads which I thawed out last night (I end up freezing them because otherwise they go stale before I can finish them. So, this morning, I mixed up the hummus this morning and cut up the pitas and then got the kids out the door to school. hummus-plate (my hummus did not look this good)

You won't believe what happened next, because I can hardly believe it happened! I locked myself out of my house. I had my keys, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't get in my house when I came home. My purse almost always hangs on the back of my door knob when I come home or I cannot find it the next morning when I leave for work. Well, this morning, for some reason, my purse held the door locked. So there I was with my keys in one hand and my phone in the other, calling my husband in a panic. Of course, he was on site with a client and couldn't help me and by the end of it, I was almost in tears (hey, I was stressed!). I was supposed to be picking up my friend too, and she left me a message while I was ranting at hubby and I couldn't return her call because her phone number was in my house phone and not in my cellular phone. My husband assured me that my day couldn't get any worse, and for the most part, he was right.

When I finally did get to work, (since I had my keys after all, even if I didn't have my purse or license or anything else), my vegan co-worker asked me what I ended up bringing. I told her my whole woeful story and ended up with, "Oh, and to answer your question, I made a lovely hummus dip with pita bread that is currently sitting on my stove at home." So the moral of the story. Please, don't ask me to make something for a potluck because things just aren't going to end well. Not that this has a bad ending--after all, I have some hummus and pita and I'll have some veggies and there's my dinner. Yay!

In other news, the book I've had on request since before I went vegan finally came in to the library! Now if I can find time to read it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Smoothies!

Sorry you haven't heard from me for a few days. November has been a crazy month so far and I have found that I don't seem to have enough hours in my days. That being said, I am putting my novel on the back burner because I realized I was stressing myself out about something that was supposed to be fun. I'll still write it, just not right at this moment in time.

berry smoothie

Instead, I'll keep writing about vegan food. Because it's fun and tasty! Last week, I found myself having a smoothie every morning for breakfast. Usually a smoothie is my once or twice a week breakfast on days when I don't have time to eat at home or when I need something that will fill me up longer than cereal.

There is probably something you should know about me. I don't follow recipes often (unless it is baking!). I tend to take what I have on hand, throw it together and make something hopefully tasty. I'm not sure if this is because I am part Italian (no one in my dad's family uses recipes!) or because I am lazy.

With my smoothies, I generally use what fruit I have on hand. I find it is a helpful way to use up the bananas that the kids haven't eaten before they go completely off. So, I put my bulky blender together (I'm hoping for a Magic Bullet or some other fancy contraption for Christmas!), toss in a banana, cut up an apple (peel on), a few frozen strawberries and then pour in which ever non-dairy milk I have on hand. I've been trying a few different types and brands. So far, I think I like almond milk the best.

I also get creative, so I have made a pina colada type of smoothie: pineapple, banana, coconut and milk. I also made it once using coconut milk, but I suspect this is what gave me an allergic reaction.

Chocolate flavoured milks are also fun and I have been known to throw some carob chips in too. My youngest daughter can't get her head around the fact that Mama has to chew her drink, but I like my smoothies nice and chunky (and yes, I know that is basically an oxymoron).

I know I could and probably should make my smoothies more healthy by adding all sorts of green stuff to them, but this works for me right now. I've cut back on my smoothies this week, but talking about it makes me want one now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vegan MoFo Sweet Potatoes and Apples--Yum!

I've discovered a new love for sweet potatoes with a lot of help from Sassy at If you have this food and you just don't know what to do with it, you need to check out her Web site. There are sections where you can choose a food such as sweet potato and find different ways of cooking it and foods to match with it. It's so handy! I discovered that I really like sauteed sweet potatoes with apples and brown sugar. I throw a few raisins in my part of the dish as well (no one else here likes raisins). If I can get the picture off of my phone, I'll show you how yummy it looks, but it won't do it justice!

That was a big part of my dinner tonight and I paired it with a romaine lettuce salad, just a basic one. I'm still figuring out what makes a complete vegan meal and what will fill me up for the night.

I have a little celebration to share as well. I know I'm losing some weight because my pants are becoming so loose, but it's always nice to hear from someone else. My husband put his hand on my hip yesterday and looked at me and said, "That's your bone!" I gave him a look that clearly said, "Duh! What else would it be?" He said, "I didn't use to feel your bone here, you're losing weight!" Very nice to hear. I need all the encouragement I can get.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vegan MoFo -- Leftovers

Pasta al pomodoro photo by 10 rosso via

As someone who is organizationally challenged, being able to spend time cooking is a rare treat--and so is having everything I need for a recipe on hand! I'm still adding to the ingredients I have on hand slowly.

One thing that has been helpful is that the vegan recipes I have used to make new meals are generally family sized recipes. I'm the only vegan in the house. Hubby will eat vegan food if it is made, but the kids generally won't try it once they hear the word vegan. This means that I usually have lots of left overs. Such was the case today.

Lunch was leftover vegetable stew from last night's dinner and supper was pasta with left over sauce. The great thing about leftovers is that they usually taste even better the second day!

Pasta sauce is something I generally make from scratch. We were gifted a whole box of jarred tomato sauce this fall, so we are making the most of it. I start with a bit of garlic heated in vegetable oil (I use an oil that is part Canola, part olive), then add the tomatoes. I add vegetables that I have on hand. This batch had eggplant and mushrooms. Spices usually include oregano, pepper, and parsley. And a trick I learned from my aunt--put a carrot in the sauce while it is cooking to take out the acidic taste. Do not eat this carrot as it absorbs the acid flavour. By doing this, you avoid having to put sugar in your tomato sauce. I let it all simmer together for awhile, then make the pasta.

What I especially like about left overs is that there is the opportunity to freeze portions individually for use later. This becomes my "fast food" option. On those nights when I don't have the time or desire to cook, I can thaw out a meal, add a salad and I'm good to go without having to try to find something quick and easy. This way I'm not stuck having something unhealthy just because I'm hungry and it's quick.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan MoFo--Vegan Month of Food!

After tossing some ideas around for the last couple of days, I signed up for nanowrimo--National Novel Writing Month today. It starts tomorrow. 50,000 words in 30 days. I actually have a story plot in my head and I think I could go somewhere with this one, so we shall see. Hopefully it will get me better trained to be writing everyday.

Well, today I saw some posts on Twitter for VeganMoFo and had to look it up. It's Vegan Month of Food and it was started by some vegans who were also doing Nano from what I can see. Anyway, I figured, you know, since I'm already going to be writing 50,000 words, what is a blog post or 20 about vegan food? Yeah, I know. I'm really just crazy. I signed up for VeganMoFo too.

So, what can you expect from me this month? Hopefully a daily post about vegan food. It will probably just be about what I've made each day. I'm still fairly new to vegan eating, so I'll share my recipe sources with you and hopefully you'll enjoy what I've found.

We'll start with this weekend. Friday, I made a great vegan banana bread. I used a recipe called Mel's Vegan Banana Bread from It turned out really well. I usually find that banana breads come out pretty dry, but this one was nice and moist and my kids loved it. They had no idea it was vegan.

Today I made a vegetable stew. I used some mixed canned beans, a can of mushrooms and a can of sliced water chestnuts (the whole ones are too big), some vegetable stock, lots of water, half an eggplant, some potatoes, a sweet potato, a couple of carrots, and I think that was about it. Basically, I used all the veggies I had on hand and threw in some spices--garlic salt, some pepper, some parsley. Pretty standard stuff. Then I made some vegan dumplings. I found a recipe on a blog and it worked out really well! The recipe is Vegan Dumplings for Stew. My youngest wouldn't eat them (she is leery of new foods), but my oldest did and asked me what was in them. If you could have seen her face when she heard I used soy milk! "I can't believe I ate soy and liked it!"

Then this evening, I made some carob chip cookies using a recipe from again. Happy Vegan Cookies were pretty easy to make. I liked that the recipe said to use as much carob or chocolate chips as you wanted too. The cookies did not spread out like traditional chocolate chip cookies and they taste a little strongly of the brown sugar (I didn't have any raw sugar, so I used what was on hand). And, let's face it, carob is not chocolate, but they are still pretty tasty. I might even make them again.

So, that was my weekend in vegan food. I've got two big pumpkins I'm looking forward to cooking up and making into pumpkin bread this week!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting Healthy--Gone Vegan

Veggie Pride Parade NYC

In September, I started following a vegan diet with PCRM's 21 Day Vegan Kickstart. We've now come to the end of October, and I'm still hanging on. I'm meeting more and more people who have chosen to be vegans and I'm finding out about a whole lot of new food options too!

One disappointment I had recently was an allergic reaction I had this week. A trip to the doctor confirmed that this allergic reaction was not topical, it wasn't from a new soap or anything like that. No, this reaction was to something I ate. So now comes the fun part of trying to figure out what exactly set off this allergic reaction. First by removing all the foods I ate within the 8 hours or so before the reaction and then re-introducing them slowly. I have it narrowed down to about three different foods. The good news is that since I'm vegan, I know it's not a milk or egg allergy.

A major win though? I'm losing weight--or at least fat. I don't trust my scale here at home, because even though I know I'm losing, it doesn't show that. The fact is that I am now able to wear two pairs of pants that I couldn't get on in September. And my darling husband told me I no longer look pregnant....sweetheart, isn't he?

So now that I finally feel like I'm getting healthy, I have to work on the fit and organized parts. Fit is going to be a matter of getting my butt back up and moving by using my Wii Fit again. We were without a television for a bit and it was easy to stop doing it. I will have to work that back into my daily routines. Organized is another matter all together. I'm trying to do a little bit everyday and pick up things when I see them in the wrong spots. We seem to get buried here in paper clutter especially. There is so much stuff that is really just garbage, or in this case recycling, but it gets piled up around the house instead of going out to the curb. I'll keep whittling down the piles bit by bit.

We're also finally painting our bedroom. We bought the paint last year! Two walls are completely done and the other two are partly done. Yay! It's so nice to finally see something getting done here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Little Bit of Silliness Via Monty Python

Looking at my last post title reminded me of the "Bring Out Your Dead" sketch from Monty Python's Holy Grail. The poor old fella who isn't dead yet says, "I feel happy! I feel happy!!" What can I say, I've got a wacky sense of humour.

This is one of the many movie quotes my brother and I will bring out to use on various occasions--some appropriate, some not. Hey, we come by this sense of humour honestly. Three of our four great-grandparents on mom's were from England, so we get the very dry British humour from her. Then dad is from Italy and I don't think Italians are really known for their humour, but they do have a fun side. Having a mixed cultural background lets you see the funny side of both cultures and gives you an appreciation for different types and forms of humour. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Just for fun, here is some Italian humour via Australia with Joe Avati:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stop the Presses! I *FEEL*....Happy!


I had a great day, and this evening, I was sitting watching television with my husband and had this realization that I felt happy. Big deal, right, people are happy all the time. Yes, I'm sure they are. But for me, living with depression and taking anti-depressants, I don't *feel* a lot of anything. The medication helps to level out your emotions so that you don't live in the darkest pits of despair. The downside is that they also numb the feelings of elation and happiness as well. I don't know if I can explain it very well, because I hardly understand it myself. It's just that I'm not used to feeling this way, but I really like it.

I wonder if this is the effect of eating healthier and following a vegan diet? It is hard to know. I guess I'll just keep eating this way and see how it goes. I could definitely stand feeling happy a lot more often. I know that following a vegan diet helps to reduce the need for medications for some illnesses. Trust me that the thought of being able to reduce the anti-depressants I take was an additional spur toward vegan eating. I am interested to find out if taking animal products out of my diet will help to balance the chemicals in my brain. I am tired of feeling numbed by this drug and by the shadow it casts on my life as this drug in particular was one which doctors were told was not habit forming only to find out later that it is and it is very hard for people to get off it. The last time I tried to reduce my medication, the side effects of reducing the drug were very hard on me.

I'll have to do some more research on veganism and depression and I'll share my findings here. In the meantime, I'm going to smile and enjoy this strange feeling of happiness while it lasts :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

How to Freak Out Your Mother-In-Law at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Feast

Yes, I did it. I totally freaked out my mother-in-law and I feel bad about it. See, we were trying to decide if we needed to make the ham as well as the turkey. Mum was counting how many wouldn't eat one or the other and I said, "Don't worry, I won't be eating either." Mum was digesting that when my husband and daughter both told her that I was "eating vegan" now. Oh yeah, thanks guys. Let's not ease her into it or anything.

Mum started to question me and my sister (in-law, but we call each other sisters) told her not to worry about me because I was not doing this without having researched it and following a program (kickstart). Mum dropped it then, but I saw her a few days later, and that's when the questions started.

I know Mum is just worried about me, but its hard to describe why I want to be vegan to her because she's an English baby-boomer. She's used to meat being something that you didn't get very often, so it was special and yes, an important part of a healthy diet. And to be honest, it's hard to explain it anyway. I want to be vegan because I feel it's healthier and it's better for the environment and animals. I feel healthier not eating animal products. I'm losing fat. My weight hasn't decreased a whole lot, but I am wearing pants that I couldn't even do up before I started eating vegan (and they are comfortable!).

My plan right now is to stick with what I am doing and not worry about what other people think. I'll give Mum more info in small pieces and see how it goes.

By the way, there is a new vegan social network I found out about this week. If you are interested in vegan or vegetarian eating or animal rights, you should check it out! This Dish is Veg Social. If you sign up, add me. My user name there is Jess. (and I just joined a group there called "Living with Omnivores"--might help me out!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

21 Day Vegan Kickstart, Done!

21st Birthday Badge

I can't beleive it, but the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart is done! I actually did it! In honour of reaching my goal, I'm going to share 21 things that I learned over the last 22 days.

1. "Going" vegan was not as hard as I expected.
2. I don't miss meat.
3. I'm learning how to cook more things like quinoa.
4. You can get a salad at Wendy's without chicken and save $2.00 on your meal (note to self, remember to ask for it without cheese too).
5. It's possible to find vegan chocolate.
6. I don't hate dark chocolate as much as I thought I did.
7. Reading labels is my newest habit. Good thing I love to read!
8. I like to cook from scratch. I forgot how much!
9. It's not as much of a hassle to follow a vegan diet as I thought it might be.
10. A lot of junk food is vegan, but that doesn't mean it's a healthy food option!
11. I don't crave sugar like I used to.
12. I'm surprised by how much I like following a vegan diet.
13. The thought of eating an animal now makes me sad.
14. I'm learning more about nutrition in general.
15. I still need to find a store which sells some of the more specialized food products.
16. The bulk food store is my new favourite store.
17. I still don't like green onions or white onions, or well, onions.
18. It's easier to say "no" to foods that people try to foist off on you when you know you can't/don't eat it any more.
19. I feel good about eating this way.
20. I feel like I'm finally making headway on being healthier.
21. I'm going to stick with this way of eating. I found the Kickstart was a great way to move into a vegan eating style. It was helpful to have the recipes and motivational messages every day. I may not have read them all, but I know where to find the information if I need it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

21 Day Vegan Kickstart, Week 2

India - Haridwar - 010 - vegetables for sale in Bara Bazaar

So, I'm over the half way mark in the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart and I'm still following a vegan diet. I've had a couple challenges, but it's getting easier to do.

I have not been following the menu plan this week. I've been loading up on veggies and adding pasta or rice and beans as well as adding lots of fruit. What I need to find is a quick go-to meal for those nights when I really just don't feel like cooking and would normally go out and buy a pizza.

I keep finding myself wanting to add cheese to things, but I have caught myself in time so far. It becomes tempting when the food is something the kids aren't going to eat and normally I would just finish it off for them. Now I'm having to consciously make an effort to leave it.

Benefits? You bet! My pants are starting to fit better. Last week when I put on my jeans, they were very tight and I had more overhang than was comfortable. It's been great to see the overhang (aka "muffin top") shrink over the last couple of weeks. My skin feels better too. I don't know that it looks better yet, but it feels less oily and blemished to me. I've also noticed that I am not craving caffeine, cola or chocolate. This is huge for me because caffeine (usually in the form of diet cola) was what fuelled a lot of my days before. I'm not having my typical mid-afternoon slump where I can barely keep my eyes open and I'm sleeping at night. I'm falling asleep easier and even though I may get up in the middle of the night, I go right back to sleep! I'm still tired, but no where near what it was like before. I'm even having less headaches! Before I would have to have a bottle of acetaminophen in my purse at all times. Now I've had maybe 4 tablets over the last two weeks. So, I'm feeling pretty good, thanks for asking!

I made some Chocolate Raspberry Mousse tonight from the Day 6 menu. It was incredibly easy to make. It's chilling now and I am looking forward to trying it soon! Yummy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vegan 21 Day Kickstart Update (days 2-4)

Tower of Fruit in Belgrano

Please don't think that because I haven't posted that I'm no longer doing the Kicstart. I am, but life has been hectic with the girls going to school (Angel started kindergarten today!) and my work shift changing from nights to days. I'm very happy with the shift change and I did ask for it, but I am so tired now that after the girls are asleep, I'm pretty much down for the count. I even fell asleep on the couch after work one day while hubby was making supper!

Vegan eating is feeling pretty good. It certainly cleans out the pipes so to speak and yes, I will spare you the details on that! I'm still figuring out how to add in the four food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables and beans), but it has been pretty good so far. I haven't been following the recipes given in the Kickstart too much lately because I've been eating leftovers and reworking them.

My oldest daughter is curious about the whole vegan thing, so I've been answering her questions about what vegans do and don't eat. I am unsure of honey though. I've seen some vegan sites list it as vegan and others not.

I noticed that I need to pay more attention to getting things out of the fridge. This morning I got my cereal and berries already and without thinking about it, grabbed the regular milk and poured it on. By the time I had realized it, it was already done. Then I used margarine on my vegan bread (which my wonderful hubby made in the breadmachine for me!). After I had spread the margarine, I noticed that in my Soy margarine, one of the ingredients listed is milk solids. Add margarine to the shopping list!

So it's going OK right now. I'm enjoying trying new foods and even cooking more. I just hope that I start to feel that increase of energy that I've read about, because I sure could use it!

Monday, September 6, 2010

21 Day Vegan Kickstart Day 1

Colorful veggies for sale in Daley Plaza

Some things I've learned today:

1.  Label foods you purchase at the bulk food store, because no matter how long you soak quinoa it will not absorb water like couscous does. 

2.  Recipe prep will take some time and use a lot of dishes, but you'll get lots of leftovers!  The recipes I used today from the 21 Day Kickstart were very tasty and generous portions.  Even if all four of us had eaten the food I made, I would have had leftovers. 

3. Shopping for vegan cooking supplies will require some research and probably involve more than one store.  I went to a bulk food store for most of the dry goods, a higher scale fresh food store for most of the veggies and a couple other ingredients and the discount grocery store for red cabbage and kale (which surprisingly wasn't at the fresh food store).  I asked friends for some tips on where to find the ingredients as I really had no idea.  I'm making stuff I've never heard of or seen before!

Today's Meals

Breakfast:  Easy
                 All Bran Cereal, sliced strawberries and organic vanilla soy milk.

Lunch:  Not hard, but lots of steps involved!
            Couscous Confetti Salad This one was so colourful!
            Carrot and Red Pepper Soup

Dinner:  Pretty easy.
           Kwik Kale
          and left over Couscous Confetti Salad (because I didn't pre-soak the black eyed peas for the other recipe I was going to make).

Snack:  I munched on some dried apricots and some roasted edamame.
Later I made some vegan cookies.  Peanut butter, banana, oatmeal vegan cookies.  They uh, taste, banana and peanut butter, I guess.  Hubby said they weren't sweet enough (probably because I used a sugarless recipe, but we won't tell him that!).  I made them for my youngest who has been asking for peanut butter cookies.  I don't think she's going to like them at all, but we shall see!

Overall, the first day was pretty good.  My kitchen is now cleaner because I need room to cook everything and I have limited coutner space as it is.  My husband and I spent some time together cooking and trying to figure out what substitutions we could make for things I did't have on hand.  It's just a good thing it was a statuatory holiday today, so I didn't have to go to work.  I'm not sure how tomorrow's meals will go, but I know I'm having leftovers for lunch, so that part will be easy. 

I'm going to plan out tomorrow's meals before I go to bed so that I can do any advance prep tonight and not have to worry about what will be for dinner as soon as I walk in the door.  Lay out my clothes and set my alarm again, and I'm good to go.  Big Kid starts school tomorrow, so it will be a busy morning here.

The celebrity vegan today was Alicia Silverstone. I'm still waiting on her book to be available at the library!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It All Starts With the First Step: 21 Day Vegan Kickstart

Journey - First Step

Tomorrow, I am taking the first step in my journey to healthier eating. I'm starting the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart. I found information on it from Christina Pirello's site and it looked like a good way to get a start on a vegan diet.

For some reason, I don't feel afraid about making these huge changes in my eating habits. Considering I eat a lot of cheese and dairy products, especially chocolate? I expected to feel terrified. But guess what? There are a lot of vegan alternatives to the foods that I love and trying to find them and make them is kind of a challenge that I'm looking forward to.

I expect the hardest part to be planning meals in advance so that I don't have to worry about figuring out what I'm going to eat at the last minute. Well, that and finding vegan foods in my city. My regular grocery store does not stock a lot of what I am going to need, so I'm going to have to make some trips to some other stores to get me started. Hopefully since I live in a very multicultural area, I'll be able to find foods without having to trek across town 6 times or head to the big bad City to find them.

What I like about the program is that they give you recipes and shopping lists right from the start. They have inspirational videos every day as well as a celebrity leader for the day who gives you tips and even phone calls (?) to help you on your way. And hey, it's only 21 days. Surely I can handle that? I've heard that people who start on a vegan diet planning on doing it temporarily often stick with it because of how much better they feel! I'm hoping that is the case with me. I will surely let you know. In the meantime, I'm off to the bulk food store and then the grocery store with my shopping list in hand. Here goes nothing!

Friday, August 20, 2010

iPhone Diet: Making Technology Work for Weight Loss

Well, it turns out that last week's numbers on Lose It! were a little off. That happens when you take your weight measurments at different times of the day--which I should have known. I'm going to have to incorporate my weigh ins into my morning routine so that I have a set time to do it. That way my numbers will be more accurate. On the plus side, I did lose some weight, it just wasn't as much as I had originally thought.

That being said, I'm trying to do a better job of logging my food and exercise this week--OK, well I really started back on it today, but the point is that I did start. Now I just need to keep it up. It seems crazy, but seeing how many calories are in what I eat helps me to stop and think about wheter I really want to eat it. A hamburger could just about use up my daily caloric limits, and that isn't even a full meal.

There are some other iPhone apps I've been using to help me. One is Lose the Belly. It has several videos on how to eat for weight loss. I also use Target Weight because it lets me set up small goals for weight loss. The pounds to lose to reach goal show up as if they are messages. Hubby was playing with my phone and told me I had 8 messages waiting in Target Weight. It took me a minute to realize what he was talking about ;) The last one I've tried is Ultimate Weight Loss Hypnosis. It's very good as a relaxation tool, but I haven't tried it many times yet, so I don't know if it is helping with weight loss. I guess we will find out!

I'm still reading This Crazy Vegan Life: A Prescription for an Endangered Species. It is taking me some time to read it because there is a lot of information to get through. It really makes you look at food differently! I'm hoping that with what I learn reading this book, I can start to take some steps toward living a vegan lifestyle. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weight Loss with Technology: iPhone

You know the iPhone commercial, "There's an app for that"? I am slowly becoming that commercial. I go to my parents' house and I pull out my iPhone. I have to show my mom all the apps I've been using. Because for weight loss? Yeah, there's an app or two for that!

I am becoming more of a Nerd the longer I have this phone. All I wanted to be able to do was to make and answer phone calls. I certainly didn't expect to be using my phone for weight loss, photography, geocaching, relaxation, music playing and games too.

The commerical above actually features one of the apps I've found for weight loss. It's the Lose it! app. I use the free version. What I like about this app is that you log the food you eat for every meal. You set a goal based on your current weight and the amount of weight you would like to lose per week. It's similar to the on-line tracking of Weight Watchers, except that you are monitoring calories instead of points. You can also have the app send you a reminder to log your meals. And if you choose, you can add friends to the app so you can encourage each other in your weight loss journey. You also have the option to email a weekly report to yourself or another person as well. I don't share my information with any one (yet).

I found that I lost about 8 pounds the first week. I had set it for a 1 lb/week loss, but I made a point to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables including a salad everyday for lunch. I didn't use all of my calories every day. The second week, I was sick one day and didn't log my food and then I skipped logging for the rest of the week. For this week, I decided to go for a 2 lb/week goal. We'll see how it goes.

I also added a couple of other apps that I use with Lose it! just because I can never leave well enough alone and need to make things more complicated than they are. I'll talk about those apps next time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Readers Love JC Chasez! Gratuitous JC Posting

I know it's a rather general statement to make and it may not be completely true, but the fact is that 80% of the searches on this blog this month have been about JC Chasez. I didn't think I talked about him that much, but perhaps I do.

He hasn't been in the news lately, so I don't have much else to talk about. I am looking forward to the next season of America's Best Dance Crew though! I find it funny that the audience boos JC when he gives the crews constructive criticism. He always gives those crews something to work on to get them to that next level. He's not mean-spirited about it either.

JC has some movies coming out sometime. If you want to see what he's up to, one great website is There are lots of great pictures, interviews and videos there. Of course, you could just come back and visit me here, because I'm sure to talk about him again sometime soon :)

Now, just for some fun, here's another JC video. Basement Jaxx featuring JC Chasez, "Plug it In". It's a quirky video--you've been warned.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Still Researching Going Vegan

I finally made it to the library this week and was able to borrow a few books on Vegan eating. The ones that I really wanted were not in stock, but I found one that I liked: This Crazy Vegan Life: A Prescription for an Endangered Species. I haven't gotten very far into the book yet, but what I have read so far has made so much sense. It's helping me to change the way I think about food in general.

I've also been looking for health food stores where I live. Surprisingly, for a city of this size, I'm not having a lot of luck. I'll keep looking though. Hopefully I'll find somewhere nearby so I can start buying more healthy foods. I'm not without hope that eating better foods will also help my daughter who has special needs, but we shall see.

Made my first foray into vegan baking tonight. I found a recipe online for vegan banana muffins, but I'm not sure how vegan they are as they have sugar in them and regular flour--although I substituted for whole wheat flour and instead of the optional nuts I added chocolate chips (definitely NOT vegan), because the little one really wanted chocolate muffins, and since they are for her snacks at day camp, I figured I'd let her have her way this time. They turned out pretty well. It did feel odd making muffins without milk or eggs! In my husband's words, they "didn't taste too bad". In other words, he's not ready to dive into eating the vegan way just yet. Anyway, that's what's been going on here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

More Ways to Use Technology to Reduce Stress

Way back in March, I wrote this post about how I use technology to reduce my stress.  Since then, I've found some more ways to make technology work for me, so I thought It was time for another posting.  For my anniversary this year, my husband upgraded my phone from a clunky old Blackberry that had no data plan to an iPhone.  At first, I wasn't too sure about this because really, all I need a phone to do is make phone calls, and then, only when it's important.  Otherwise, I really don't use  a cellular phone.  Or, I should say, I didn't use a cellular phone before he bought me this one. 

Iphone sunset in the Andes

One of the things I am having fun with is the applications (aka apps).  I played around a bit with the free apps and found this great one called SleepMachine.  It is a program that plays different ambient noises and you can add up to three different sounds together and adjust the volume on each one until you find the perfect blend for you.  I used it when we were spending time at my parents' house because our air conditioner was broken during the heat wave.  I set the timer on the program for 30 minutes, closed my eyes and I was out.  I didn't hear it turn off any night while I was there.  For someone like me who tends to be a chronically poor sleeper, this has been a huge help.  I went from having trouble falling asleep every night to falling asleep within a few minutes of getting into bed.  What a treat.  I liked the app so much I bought the full version of it.  The extra sounds and music have been a big help.  There have only been a couple nights that I've had to extend the play time on the ambient sounds when I've been overly stressed and needed some extra time to fall asleep.  It's amazing how much a good night's sleep helps keeping stress levels in check.  {edit: I forgot to mention that we've used this to help the kids fall asleep when they are having trouble sleeping and it totally worked!}

My other favourite app?  (besides getting my Twitter updates whenever I want them).  Geocaching!  I was familiar with this application already because I had signed up to before, but I didn't have a GPS that I could use.  Now I can geocache from my phone.  Geocaching is basically a real world treasure hunt with clues that you find online.  You get the co-ordinates from the site and plug them into your GPS, then go out and find where it is hidden. Usually a cache is a camoflauged container with a log book and some small items in it for trading. We've tried geocaching a couple of times as a familiy now. One time we found the cache, one time we didn't. Both times we had a lot of fun. We got outside and got some exercise as a family. It was a lot of fun and getting out together brings us closer together and helps to reduce stress in all of us.

Healthy Eating: Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free??

Lately, it seems that everywhere I look, different diets are being touted as making huge changes in overall health.  Some of the special needs parenting sites I follow have talked about changing their children's diets and seeing positive results (usually these are gluten free).  Just this week, one of the characters in a book I was reading was a vegan chef.

It's hard to know if these are "fads" like the carbohydrate thing that was going on a few years ago or not.  I don't want to be the kid who jumps in with both feet and then finds that I'm in water over my head.  I've started to look at information on vegan diets.  I'm not lying, it would be a huge change.  The benefits in terms of reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes alone would be a good reason to try it.

Is there any one out there who is currently following a vegetarian, vegan or gluten free diet?  I would really love to talk to someone real who has made this kind of change.  Any suggestions, tips or reference sites would be much appreciated!

Don't worry, this isn't something I'm going to jump into all at once.  I'm strictly gathering information right now.  I imagine that this kind of change is one that would have to happen gradually, but I need to find out more.  I found some interesting books on  If you know a book that would be helpful for starting a vegan diet, please let me know!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A 15 Minute Epiphany

I've talked about Flylady a lot because what she says about taking baby steps and using a timer make so much sense.  I'm the kind of person that has to prove the rule wrong though.  It's not always intentional, but when I try things, they don't always work.  And I've tried using a timer on more than one occasion.  I even had to buy a second timer because the first one got lost somewhere in my house (and yes, I know how bad that sounds!).

I've been using a timer more lately and even started using it for my oldest daughter.  She doesn't mind picking up her room or reading a book if she knows that she only has to do it until the timer goes off.  Tonight I made some muffins so that we would have some fresh (somewhat) healthy snacks for our road trip tomorrow.  Once I put them in the oven, my first thought was to get on my computer.  Instead, I put away all the stuff I used, then I decided to wash the dishes since I wanted to stay close to the oven because I haven't made this recipe before.  Now washing the dishes may not seem like a big thing, but it gets to be crazy here.  I am not home most nights for dinner and hubby cooks dinner and feeds the kids, he just doesn't do the dishes afterward.  Instead, the pots get piled around the kitchen and stress me out.

Seriously, I get so angry about these pots and pans sitting there, but I let the stress build instead of doing anything about it.  What a waste of emotional energy!  I got those pots and pans washed and looked at the timer on the muffins.  Guess how much time I spent cleaning the kitchen.  That's right! Fifteen measly minutes.  If I had just done them and gotten it over with, they would have been done, the kitchen would not be a minefield and I wouldn't have been stressed out about it.

Who knew that 15 minutes could make such a difference?  I even did some of my writing in 15 minute blocks this week, alternating with chores I had been putting off.  I will get this clutter tamed, 15 minutes at a time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review: Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go by Lucille O'Neal

Walk Like You Have Somewhere to Go is a candid account of Lucille O'Neal's life; being raised by strict grandparents, being an unwed mother, later being a military wife and trotting her family across the globe, being the mother of a star NBA player, getting out of an unhappy marriage, getting sober and staying that way, getting the education that she so desired for her children. 

I found the book was very hard to put down in the beginning.  It was so interesting to see life from a different culture and what obstacles O'Neal had to overcome, especially being an unwed mother at the time that Shaquille was born.  As the story progressed, I was really interested to find out how O'Neal conquered her alcohol addiction and I was surprised that her recovery process was so simple:  "During my mother's illness, I'd stopped drinking after some twenty years of doing so regularly...I didn't have to join AA, although I know it's a wonderful program that helps many people; I just relied on my faith in God to get me through those nights I wanted a drink so bad I could taste the white zinfandel on my lips." (p. 165-166).  I put the book down for quite awhile because O'Neal's recovery just seemed too easy.  I would really like to know more about how she made it through those nights.  Did she read scripture?  Did she pray?  How did it happen?  Was it hard to make it through?

Overall, I enjoyed the book, even though I am not a basketball fan.  It was good to see O'Neal become a strong woman and to use what she learned through her trials to help others.  Walking this journey with her showed me that God can and does use the hard times to make us stronger.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Weight Watchers or Bust!

How to Overcome Depression

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again.  Depression Sucks!  I keep getting caught in this cycle of wanting and trying to make changes in my life and then the depression pops in and I go back to being apathetic, positive that no change is going to make any difference in my life-ever.  And then there are the times when I try to make positive changes and the entire world conspires against me.

My latest foray into getting healthy is to re-join Weight Watchers.  I used the online program two years ago.  It was a birthday present I gave myself that year and I lost 14 pounds just tracking my food and points.  Then my job changed for a couple months and my schedule changed and that was it.  I lost all the ground I had gained and then I felt demoralized and ultimately gave up.

Recently, my mother was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.  That means in my immediate family, I am the only one without diabetes.  My mom and dad are Type II and my brother is Type I.  I am a ticking time bomb.  I get my blood sugars tested regularly, but given my family history and the fact that I carry all my weight around my belly, I need to make some changes to keep myself healthy.
scale at buttes chaumont
Mom joined Weight Watchers after her diagnosis.  She started going to meetings and found it really helpful.  The group she was going to was on Thursday nights (my day off), so I was going to join up.  I talked to hubby and he agreed that it would be a great opportunity for me, especially since some of the fees could be claimed back from my work's wellness benefit.  I was going to join up the next Thursday.  On Monday, we went to talk to a tutoring center for some French lessons for our oldest daughter.  Know when her classes are?  That's right, Thursdays.  Hubby signed her up without blinking, so I sighed quietly and decided I'd go to a different class that was on Saturday mornings.

Mom came back from her class on Thursday and told me the pricing options were changing and were going to be much better.  I was even more ready for Saturday, and then hubby told me he was working Saturday morning.  Not only would I have to drive him to his client, I was going to have the two girls with me.  I reminded him that I was going to WW and he was sweet enough to arrange for Grandma to watch the girls so we could both do what we needed to do.  I found the location, waited in the car until it was time to start, then headed in to the clinic.

As a first timer, I had no idea where to go or what to do.  I found the table that was for newcomers, filled out the form and waited in line for my turn at the desk.  Only to be told that I was going to have to pay a start up fee plus a meeting fee.  When I mentioned that I had seen the new pricing, (no start up fee and monthly rates) I was informed that it started on Monday, and did I want to come back then?  Seriously?  Why not.  I wasn't going to pay $47 that was going to be useless two days from now.  I left and did grocery shopping alone instead (a rare treat for me!).

(137/365) Busy mindNow should be the part where I say that I did go back and signed up that I've been going for a few weeks now.  But that wouldn't be my life, would it?  Nope, I've got the form in my car, but I haven't gone back.  What's stopping me?  Mostly just my life.  I know, I should make my health a priority, but since I'm the only insured driver in the house, everyone else's life is coming before mine right now.  Between speech therapy, French tutoring, doctors appointments, hubby's work and just trying to keep the kids busy this summer, I've used up pretty much all of my energy (and that's before I go to work in the evenings).  I've got my work/life balance pretty set, it's my life/life balance I can't seem to figure out.  I haven't even been out walking with the gals because my Wednesdays are usually shot.  I know that I've been self-defeating and just given up.  I've let the weight creep up on me to the extent that my "fat" clothes are now getting too tight. 

I'm not giving up on joining Weight Watchers, but I'm starting to realize that this might not happen until the kids go back to school in September. In the meantime, I'm choosing healthier options for eating. I'm incorporating more vegetables and salads into my diet and I'm increasing my water intake. I'm also trying to get more sleep and to be more active in the day. I know that depression is trying to keep me stagnant, so I really have to make a conscious effort to get beyond that and try to fight it. It may also be time to chat with my doctor about my treatments and see if there is anything else I can do to minimize the impact that depression has on my life.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We are a World Cup Family

World Cup matchball history

I started to notice a trend over the last few weeks. A lot of things in my life have happened around World Cup time. Really. We got married 12 years ago on a very hot June day. During the picture taking at the park, my cousins were listening to the Italy game. I don't know who they were playing, but we did pose for a picture with all of my cousins and the Italian flag (and we all had to say "Forza Azzurri!" instead of "Cheese!"). Italy won that day.

We spent our honeymoon in Montreal, one street away from the famous Ste Catharine's Street. Every night during that week, cars drove up and down Ste Catharine blaring their horns. The only difference was the colour of the flag flying.

Flash ahead a few years now. In 2006, Italy was in the finals of World Cup. Hubby and I were planning to go over to my parents' house to watch the game with my brother (our parents were away) on Sunday. I was very pregnant at the time, but not due for a few more weeks. All day Saturday, I was complaining of Braxton-Hicks contractions. Hubby looked at me as I again winced from the uncomfortable feeling and looked at his watch. "You're getting those every five minutes, you know." Yep, I was in the beginning stages of labour. The game was on Sunday, and I was in the hospital for most of that day. Hubby called my brother to let him know we'd be missing the game. Italy won and the next morning, we had a beautiful second daughter.


Now that I think of it, our first daughter was born in a World Cup year as well. She was born before World Cup started that year and I was honestly too busy and too tired to care, much like any other first time mom.

This World Cup has been a little boring for me mostly because I really haven't had time to follow the games. Of course, it doesn't help that Italy was knocked out in the first round. The very first time I knew anything about World Cup, we were visiting our grandparents in a little city called Guelph. Italy had won, and Dad bought my brother and I Italian flags. We were thrilled to be walking up and down the sidewalk waving our flags. I still remember that this lady came up to my brother who was just a little guy at the time and asked him why he was waving an Italian flag when he was Canadian. My brother looked at her like she had two heads. Of course he was Canadian, but he was Italian too!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Me" Time Was Amazing!

I didn't want to post right after my concert because I've been reliving it for a few days now.  I had such an amazing time.  It felt weird to not be working and not be home with the kids and to basically have a night off by myself, but it was sooooo good!

The drive up to the casino took about 2 hours.  It would have taken a little less time if I had followed my GPS instead of the street signs that said Casino straight ahead.  Yeah, I missed the one that said turn left and ended up pulling off on a side road to set my GPS to the actual address of the casino.  I was driving down dirt roads thinking, "If this GPS gets me lost, I am going to be so mad!"  Turns out, the GPS had the directions bang on and I got there in plenty of time for the concert.  I had time to park, call home to check on the little ones and say good night to them and contact a twitter friend to let her know I had made it.

You know what is cool about casinos?  They check your ID.  It has been forever since I had my ID checked!  No one believes me when I tell them my age or that I have two kids, but no one ever cards me, so I think they must be BSing me.  Anyway, I saw one of my friend's daughters there with her cousin.  They didn't see me thankfully, because how weird would it be to say, "Hey, how's your Mom?"   Granted, I am one of the younger ones in the group of ladies I walk with, but still.

So I really have to thank Debt Princess for encouraging me to go to the concert alone. Not only did she give me the guts to go for it, she also put me in touch with one of her friends who was also going to be there. I was able to meet her which was cool enough, but when she told me she had an extra ticket in the second row? Wow! I loved the concert and yes, I acted like a total teenager and loved it!! It felt so good to be out there and just be myself without worrying about the kids. Without worrying about the news we had gotten a few days before that our youngest does not qualify for special needs funding through the school board. (Long story, check out my other blog Special Kid, Special Parent for details).

And after the concert? I found myself wandering over to the casino (OK, I was really looking for the bathrooms, but we already know my sense of direction is pretty much useless!). I saw these slot machines and thought, why not? I had my quarter all ready to drop in only to find out the machines may be twenty-five cents, but you actually have to put in a paper credit token or a paper bill. There goes that whole image. Anyway, I played and I lost. I didn't play much, but it was something I thought I might as well do since I was there and all. I didn't go anywhere near the card tables because I have no patience to learn the rules and I'd probably just keep saying "hit me!" at the wrong times.

Thankfully, I made it home without any mis-directions occurring. Now would I do it all again? You betcha! It was so freeing to go by myself (even if it was a tad bit terrifying too!). I was glad to make some friends too.  If I hadn't gone, I would have been kicking myself for not going.  I'm glad that I took the opportunity to have a little adventure and some me time.  I'm glad that I didn't worry about being there alone, and instead had the opportunity to make two new friends.  I'm glad I had the chance to watch an amazing concert and just let loose for an evening.  Of course, reality set in when I had to get up the next morning and get the kids to the bus stop, but my reality is actually pretty cool on its own.  It's nice to get a break from it for a bit so I can appreciate it that much more. 

Now just because you've indulged me this long, I am going to include a video of the performance from the night after I saw it. I think I mentioned once before that I used to be in love with Jordan Knight, so this should come as no surprise...this was always my favourite song (sigh!):

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just Finished Shining My Sink. Thanks, Flylady!

Clean Sink
Originally uploaded by taberandrew

Now my sink isn't quite as shiny as the one in the picture, but I suspect my sink is much older than that one. Anyway, I had a bit of a depressed meltdown this weekend. One of those ones where I felt like a fat failure. My house is in chaos, I can't lose weight, I am stressed beyond get the idea. I was ready to throw in the towel and just let the chaos drown me. I didn't of course.

A good sleep helped a lot. Then I did something I haven't done for awhile. I read my daily Flylady update. If you haven't met the Flylady, I've talked about her a few times in the past. You know what I love about her? She tells it to you like it is, but she gives you encouragement too. The message I read talked about not giving up. Do something something small, work for just two minutes. The point is that you are doing something. She even said that if you shine your sink you'll be amazed how good you feel when you're done.

Well, I did it today. I shined my sink. It's not perfect, but it's empty, dry and a little shiny. It's one bright spot in my otherwise cluttered house. And it's a start. It didn't take very long, but it makes a huge impact on my kitchen and it makes me wonder what another couple of minutes in another spot will do. A few minutes putting away laundry, a few minutes picking up paper for recycling...the possibilities are endless, but my clutter is not! I'm going to tame this clutter, one piece at a time and get it out out out of my house. I do not need all of this stuff dragging me down and making me feel bad about myself. So clutter, you are on notice! Be prepared because I am coming for you!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's time to be selfish--time for a little "me" time


Things have been a little stressful around here lately. I won't bore you with the details here. If you want to know, you can find the majority of my stress here. The good thing is that I have had something to look forward to during all this craziness...tomorrow night, I'm doing something just for me. And I have a blogging friend to thank for it--Debt Princess. We were talking about our mutual interest in a musical group and I lamented that I had no one to go with me. She asked me why I didn't go by myself. It was one of those, "Duh!" moments. Why didn't I go by myself? I don't need someone to go with me. I can go alone and have a good time. And you know something, when you buy a single ticket? You get good seats. Everyone else wants pairs of seats, so the singles are in the good spots ;) see, you learn something every day. Needless to say, I went online, found tickets on my day off and it seemed like it was meant to be. I've got my ticket and the show is tomorrow (squeeee!)


So tonight, I'm going to give myself a pedicure and maybe a manicure, hopefully catch an episode or two of Glee (I am still catching up!) with my hubby and pamper myself a little bit. Tomorrow is my time and I plan on making the most of it. It's about time that I do something special for myself, so I'm going to be a little bit selfish and enjoy myself. And hey, maybe I'll drop a quarter or two in the slots while I'm there, just because you never know!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Allergies! Itchy, blotchy, scratchy!

Shandra Stephenson
Originally uploaded by Sydigill

If I was doing what the girl in the picture is doing, I'd be broken out in hives and probably sneezing too. Of course, first I'd have to lie down in the grass and since I'm already experiencing an allergic reaction, there's no way you'd get me to do that! After being doped up on Benadryl all weekend, I made it to the walk in clinic and my doctor's office today. You know it's bad when you get mini hives on your face and arms and torso...well, you get the drift. Thankfully I'm not sneezing. Because when I have that kind of reaction, it's pretty crazy. You feel like your brains are going to come out of your nose at any given moment. And yes, you're welcome for that lovely picture.

Anyway, the doctor gave me a steroid pill (only 1 dose) to supress my immune system, then some prescription allergy pills and some topical cream. Hopefully this helps!

I've been keeping busy with some writing off line over the last week or so. And I'm trying to tackle some of the baby steps around the house. Which seems to involve a lot of trips to Rona. I should have purchased shares in Rona...I wonder if I still can? First it was fertilizer and grass seed, then the airconditioner blew the fuses again, so hubby installed a breaker and he installed another outlet and goodness only knows what else. He's been great about getting the stuff done that he wants, but my bedroom is still not painted, even though we bought the paint and everything we needed back in October! One day, it will be done.

We've been purging a lot of stuff from the hosue as well. I had a couple boxes of clothes that the youngest grew out of that went on freecycle and we went through all the shoes in the front closet (it was so bad we couldn't close the door) and I've got a box of those and another box of clothes just about ready to be picked up or dropped off depending on what happens first. Lots of paper going out in the recycling every week. It seems to just multiply when I'm not looking.

That's all for now. I'm going to go and take my allergy pill and hope that I can sleep tonight!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Baby Steps...Big Results!

Originally uploaded by m a r i s a

You would think that I would learn by now that baby steps aren't big, but they have big results. The dust in my bathroom was bugging me. Cobwebs and dust had settled along the door frame and looked just gross. It bugged me, but I didn't actually do anything about it until today. I got out my Flylady dusters (they've got purple ostrich feathers, so pretty!) and dusted the whole bathroom. It took me under two minutes. Seriously. I let it sit there and bug me and it took almost no time to change it--and that includes "blessing the world" by shaking my duster outside to clean it out.

It's funny how in my mind these jobs can seem so huge, but if I just do something about it, instead of letting it fester, it would be done and I could be on to something else.

So, now that I've had my a-ha moment, what am I going to do about it? Well, first I'm going to try to tackle things rather then let them build up and bug me. And I'm going to try to take an extra baby step every day to address some of the small things around my house whether it is picking up some paper and putting it in the recycling or dusting a room or what have you. If it's this easy to make a big difference, imagine what it will be like when I start to get serious about making each baby step!

I wonder, is this a depression thing? Am I simply overwhelmed and can only see the big picture? Hmmm....rather than sit and muse about it, I'm going to go take a couple more baby steps. Wish me luck!