Friday, January 30, 2015

The Blessing of the Mundane

Its been a quiet week for me  with my counselling practice.  Adam has had many evenings of work engagements or working late, and finished off the week with a trip to Winnipeg, so that's meant less available work time for me.  Most clients want to see me after 5pm, after work, but the girls' after school daycare closes at 6pm, so if Adam isn't available to pick them up, its usually a no go for me.   I also had a daycare board meeting Wednesday night so my evenings were pretty much not open for appointments this week at all.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law stepped in to pick up the girls today so I was able to book a few sessions, and tomorrow I've got a bunch more clients lined up.  Saturday afternoon, the logistics of the girls' activities (gymnastics, swimming, playdate and birthday party) are so complicated, we actually have to borrow one of my in-law's cars so I can shuttle Big A in one direction while Adam shuttles Little A in the other.

The silver lining has been I had time this week to try to get my taxes organized...not an easy thing when you are self-employed and receive income from a whole lot of different sources.  Depressing how little I make too...and I have finally started my dreaded application for the new Ontario College of  Registered Psychotherapists.

Sunday I teach spin, the girls have Hebrew School, and Little A has swim, and then Adam has his book club meeting.  It doesn't look like I'll even be able to fit in too many errands this weekend.  But that's okay, yesterday I packed in as many as possible before the snow started.  While I've been here dealing with a big dump of snow, Adam has been in Winnipeg which has been having a boil water alert and power outages.  Oh good times!

So essentially, nothing but ordinary life stuff happening around here, which makes me feel blessed.  Oh yes, blessed. When counselling I hear about the most unbelievable trauma, tragedy and loss many of my clients have experienced.  Whether its infertility, or abuse, or illness, or an accident, so many people in this world face adversity on a daily basis. 

We may not be rich, I may not be famous, but none of that is really what matters.  Its all about love, friendship, and good health.  Having nothing much to worry about except juggling work commitments, getting the kids to swimming on time or shoveling snow is a privilege.  Its easy to get caught up in this stuff, so its important to step back once in a while and look at the big picture. Life is good.

I guess I should mention that its Superbowl Sunday since most of you - unlike myself - might care.  Have a wonderful, healthy, love-filled weekend.  Make my savoury roasted chickpeas to eat while you watch the game ;)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Savoury Roasted Chickpeas

Clearly photographing food in a glass bowl is not the best pun intended!

This was another recipe I made for the first time for our New Year's Day party.  They are yummy as a snack, or you can throw them in a salad.  Super delish!

Savoury Roasted Chickpeas

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked)
1 tbls olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Herbamere seasoned sea salt (or regular sea salt), or to taste
2 tbls nutritional yeast

Toss chickpeas with oil and spices and roast at 400F for about 45 minutes, or until crispy.  Keep in an air tight container in cool dry place or fridge for up to 1 month.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WIAW: Recent Yummy Things

Here are some of the tasty things I've been eating lately...

My Smokey Tomato Soup, along with a Vanilla Spice Plantain loaf cake.

My absolute favorite Mutsu (sometimes called Crispin) apples and Chocolate Chunk Quest bars.

Warm kale salad with strawberry, red onion dressing (which I forgot to photograph) with this soft sheep's milk black peppercorn cheese diced into it...oh yeah!


Roasted kabocha squash...because delicata squash has disappeared from the entire city of Toronto!

But it was actually pretty awesome, especially with cinnamon.

How about you, what yummy things have you been consuming???

This post is linked with What I Ate Wednesday's host, Peas and Crayons.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Smokey Chickpea Tomato Soup

Oy its a cold one today!  At least we aren't having the snow storm like our friends east and south of us...

Recently a client who I am counselling about improving her health told me she and her fiancĂ© made soup together for the first time, rather than buying it, and they couldn't believe how easy it is.  It is...really!

In fact, here are 3 reasons you should make soup instead of buying it:

1. Healthier - Not only is the soup you buy usually full of salt, but it often also has added sugars and starches, not to mention weird preservatives.  The canned kind also contains BPA...blech!

2. Cheaper - The good quality soups can be $10/litre!  Making your own is much, much more economical!!

3. Efficient - Its hard to make a small quantity of soup.  Make tons and then eat all week, or freeze for future meals.

This soup is very warming from the smoked paprika, cumin and the kick of cayenne, if you can stand the heat!  You can replace the chickpeas with black beans if you wish, and swap out the zucchini for another veggie like spinach, kale, okra, carrots, etc.

Smokey Chickpea Tomato Soup

1/2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
4 zucchini, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups passata (strained tomatoes)
1 litre salt-free vegetable stock
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Optional: Toss zucchini with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast on foil-lined baking sheet at 400F for 30 minutes.  If you want to skip this step, just add zucchini to soup pot with onion.

Pour oil into large soup pot over medium heat and saute onion, garlic and spices.  Add chickpeas, roasted zucchini, vinegar, diced tomatoes, passata and stock.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Add lemon and cilantro just before serving.  Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze.

This recipe has been shared with Urban Naturale's Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop and Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene is something that is not always so personal.  If you emit bad odour, chances are others are going to notice!

The hygiene habits of others comes to my attention on a daily basis simply from using public transportation.  Already vulnerable to motion sickness, I instantly become nauseous if I end up near someone with bad body odour.  Blech!  Sometimes I may not be near enough to someone to smell them, but I am often amazed by how unclean people look.  Hair greasy, full of debris, and clearly unwashed for a lengthy period of time.  Clothes that smell worn and musty.  Ugh!

Of course, when I feel disgust, I then wonder if I am not just being elitist.  After all, for many people, regular bathing and clothes washing is a luxury.  Often poor hygiene can be an early sign of mental illness.

But sometimes there just seems to be no excuse.  I am only at the gym once a week to teach my spinning class, but lately every time I am there so are two older gentlemen who have unpleasant BO.  I can't even be in the vicinity of these individuals and it simply ruins the whole experience.  I certainly don't want to use equipment they have used!  Makes me appreciate working out at home even more!!  These guys are definitely not homeless and likely not living in poverty or they wouldn't be able to afford the gym membership fee.  Cognitive abilities starting to decline?  Perhaps...

Yesterday my friend who takes my spinning class was also grossed out because she witnessed another woman filing a snowstorm of dead skin off her feet onto the floor of the changeroom.  We gagged together.

I have always been a shower and wash my hair every single day kind of gal.  I suppose that's partly because I work out every day so its kind of essential.  But even at times when I have not been working out (like the 6 weeks after each C-section, or when traveling, etc.) I still shower every day.  Besides the hygienic reasons, it also wakes me up and refreshes me.

Now perhaps I am a bit OCD about hygiene as is Adam...we bathe the girls every day, at least when possible, and most of my friends do not seem to bathe their children as often. But having children certainly does get you more comfortable with grime and bodily fluids.  Little A is still our little pig pen.  She's gotten better, but the kid still can't eat without making a mess, and she has a penchant for touching absolutely everything she sees, which makes me crazy.

Admittedly, things got pretty out of hand with me while dealing with PPD after Little A was born.  I was consumed with worry about contamination and was going through bottles of Purel like crazy.  I am not like that anymore, but still probably worry about it more than most people.  The first thing I do when I come in the house is always wash my hands and I never wear any of my clothes more than once before throwing them in the laundry.

Just a friendly reminder that personal hygiene & clean clothing go a long way towards your coworkers not having to stand upwind of you. Thanks! -Human Resources.

I also admit that a toothbrush and toothpaste accompany me almost everywhere.  Okay, so maybe I'm a bit OCD...although like everyone else in this house I practice the 5 Second Rule and happily eat food off the floor.  Ha, I guess we all have our inconsistencies!  Funny how we rationalize certain things.  Have a happy, clean Monday!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Social Evolution

TGIF!  Happy Friday everyone!

Despite the chilly temps, its actually been beautiful and sunny here all week.  Its amazing what a positive impact the sunshine can have on your mood.

Nonetheless, even when the sun is out, I've noticed that for the past few years, I have had a cloudy feeling.  I've been very introspective and tried hard to determine the source of my angst.  I've explored every aspect of my life: health, relationships, parenting, career, spirituality, and while my life is not perfect, its pretty what's going on? I kept wondering and not finding the answer. Until recently.

It suddenly dawned on me where this existential angst and sense of foreboding is coming from...not from anything in my life, specifically, but more to do with how our society is evolving.  I feel sad, frustrated, and concerned about where our world is going...and I am referring to the usage of technology and portable devices.

I know I now probably sound like an old crank...and perhaps I am.  After all, if you were born later than the 90s, you probably don't even remember a time when everyone didn't carry around tiny devices that function as phones, computers and cameras.  Well I certainly do!  In fact, it wasn't until my last year as a university undergrad that I even started using email.  Adam and I got our first cell phone, which we shared, as a wedding gift in 2002, and it wasn't until a few years ago I ever got a smart phone.

Don't get me wrong, I know all this new technology has its benefits...its just that I think it is being overused and I don't like what it is doing to human interaction.

Too many people are too dependant on their phones.  This incessant need to be 'connected' is making us disconnected.  I have no patience for people who text and check their phones when I am having a conversation with them.  Its rude and obnoxious, and frankly, to me speaks to a certain growing narcissism people seem to have.  Are you really anticipating something truly important?  Unless you are a doctor on-call or the President of the United States, then my guess is, you can wait a bit to return that text or email. Seeing couples and friends ignoring each other completely in favour of their devices depresses me. In my work as a counsellor I hear how gaming addictions destroy relationships and couples resort to texting one another while in the same home!  Come on folks, this is absurd!  Even riding public transport gets me in a lather.  My favorite thing to do is people watch, but apparently I am the only one because everyone else is glued to their device.  Even on the subway, where there is no Internet service, people are listening to music, watching TV or playing Candy Crush.  Nobody looks up, nobody notices anyone else.

I am the first to admit that social media can have a positive effect.  For example, I have made incredible relationships with women across North America through the infertility channels.  These women are people I have never met and many I never will meet, however, they mean the world to me.  Things like Facebook are also a great way to keep up-to-date with friends and family who are far away.  But the online world also creates a forum for people to spew hatred, to bully and to intimidate.  So many of the things people say to others online they would never say in person.  Its cowardly.  It concerns me.  This is the reality we have created for future generations. I worry for my girls.

All this online 'socializing' is not an adequate replacement for face-to-face interactions.  We are social animals, we need true, intimate, physical connections with one another.  Sometimes I want to go back in time, I really hate the current state of the world with all this shit.  I think what makes me feel so frustrated and frightened is that this is completely beyond my control, and there does not seem to be an end to it.  Adam thinks there may eventually be a backlash against all of this, but I do not feel so optimistic. 

So while the rest of the world gets consumed by all this technology, I'll continue to stay behind and watch.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing

I brought this dressing for the dinner we had at my brother's house last weekend.  My husband and children may hate avocados, but the rest of my family loves them and they adored this dressing and demanded the recipe.

This delicious, healthy dressing kicks your everyday salad up a few notches.  It is absolutely amazing!  I have nothing more to say.

Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 ripe avocado, pit and skin removed
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Juice of 2 limes
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Handful fresh cilantro

Throw everything in blender or food processor and go!  Dressing is very thick, feel free to thin out with water if you wish.  Keep refrigerated for up to a week.