Saturday, March 30, 2013

Roncy wins by a Length!

A couple of quick things before I head out into this stellar spring day folks.  For starters, the Easter weekend always requires at least one of two things.  Hot cross buns or Ukranian egg bread...or BOTH!  Popped over to Roncy village on Thursday for the egg bread and just had a couple of toasted slices with lots of butter.  It will now take at least 2 hours of power walking to compensate for it, but soooo worth it.  

I did discover that the Easter treats in Roncy village (Roncesvalles between Queen and Bloor) are more authentic and less expensive than in Bloor West Village where they are also abundant.  I  went to both and decided both have their charms but Roncey was definitely easier on the wallet.  There is also a really awesome chocolate shop called Chocolateria where all the chocolates are made my hand by the owners as well as homemade ice cream.  The varieties are endless including some fair trade selections and the ice cream was sublime...I only sampled it, but my shopping buddy went for the double scoop and reported it was superb!

I would also be remiss to not mention that the food at Bloom in Bloor West Village was really excellent on Thursday.  I have walked by that joint so  many times and never bothered to check it out, but now that I have, I can tell you it is really worth a visit.  One of those lovely little surprises that offers quality AND value - something that does not happen often enough in this town of a gazillion food choices.  I may do a separate review of it another day.

On another completely different note, a walk along the Humber River last Sunday resulted in some salmon spotting.  I was a bit confused to see them at this time of year, as I thought they only headed up river to spawn in the fall, but there they were, so maybe they do it twice a year - I will have to research that.  I wrote a blog about their journey on October 8, 2010 - please feel free to dig into  my archives and take a look at that one - my thoughts and feelings about it have not changed.  I just re-read it myself.

OK folks, must run - the sun is beckoning and that butter is settling on my arse!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Can Hardly "Contain" myself!

The next time you are wedged between a couple of transport trucks on the QEW, pause and think about me.  Whatever could this have to do with me you may be wondering.  Well, let me enlighten you.  Those large metal boxes they are hauling, better known as containers are being re-purposed in the coolest way these days.  Container houses.  Yup, those big ugly metal rectangles are being welded together, stacked in a myriad of configurations and turned into really awesome modern homes.

Don't believe me?  Google "container houses" and take a look for yourself. Some are being used for guest houses while others as the owner's main residences, you name it, you can create whatever space you need from them.  Some are simple, some far more elaborate and the sky is the limit really in terms of how you "build" your castle.  Think giant lego pieces. Cut out some windows and doors, vary the levels, play with the angles and finish the interiors to the extent you prefer.  You can go with a very basic industrial interior, or finish the walls and floors as you would any framed home.

The idea is really appealing to me the more research I do.  There are costs involved, but in the end it is far less expensive than a typical new build home and the aesthetic is unique and current. Talk about a dramatic shift in style for me.  I have always had an appreciation for modern design but it has only been in recent years that I have sensed myself moving toward this way of living and the more I see the many possibilities, the more exciting it gets.  In many ways it would be the ultimate art project.  The chance to really turn seemingly useless scraps of metal and wood into functional, possibly even beautiful elements in my home.  One home I looked at started their entire build around a smooth bark free tree, incorporating wiring and lighting into the branches that spread across the span of the house - a central pillar creating the home's organic identity.  It was functional art at it's best. 

This design (pictured above) is fairly simplistic.  I love the linear feel and the open and airy space created with the addition of glass.  The orange exterior walls are likely the original container colours but that can be customized in any case.  The single container guest house at the top of this page would be a really simple project and could also be used as a pool-side cabana.

There is a really great container home designed by Debbie Glassberg.  Google her place and check it out.  It is one of the best I have seen in terms of how she really stuck to the long narrow spaces for the various rooms - obviously a galley kitchen is necessary and I love the way she floated the bed in the middle of the master bedroom.  See below.

The exterior and landscaping pull it all together.  Who knew shipping containers could look like this?

This drawing below of the original vision illustrates that anything is possible with a bit of imagination and thinking outside the box.  Or I guess that should read thinking outside AND inside the box.  Even Starbucks has got in on the trend opening a container location in Tukwila, Washington in December 2011. 

I really do encourage  you to surf around and take a peak at the amazing ideas out there.  It kinda puts a whole new spin on "special delivery".

Starbucks Container cafe, Tukwila, Wa.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Go ahead and JUMP!

Weathering the place in between.  Seems that is where I am right now in almost every aspect of my life.  Dr. Wayne Dyer would suggest I am on the precipice of entering the afternoon of my life. I would tend to agree with him.  There is however some resistance, some of it conscious, some not so much.

For instance, my physical body is in a constant tug of war with the concept.  For one, I think I may be in the running for the Guinness Book of Records for the oldest fertile broad in the world.  Yup, old menopause has not snatched me up yet.  Most women my age have been in that territory for years already, but my bloody body just keeps pumping the estrogen like a broken water main, month after month.  Every month I think, maybe this will be it.  The final hurrah, but every month, Aunt Flo shows up uninvited and frankly, she has really overstayed her welcome.

I know I should be grateful for the benefits this affords me as it is apparently keeping  me young in many ways.  My radiologist was kind enough to comment on it when I had a mammogram recently and informed me that the reason it was taking them so long to get a good image of my left boob was due to the density of my breast.  He said most women my age don't have this problem.  Somehow I did not appreciate this "benefit" as the torture of the mammary press was adjusted half a dozen times, each time flattening and tugging my poor girl into an unrecognizable pancake while the hard arm of the apparatus dug into my armpit.  "Take the bloody shot already!", I wanted to scream as he and his two female technicians hemmed and hawed over the angle each time. I could barely breathe.  

That journey is not over yet either.  Seems the biopsy that they had to do TWICE, warrants further investigation and so now I have to have a lumpectomy.  This is not worrying me as the early detection squad at Princess Margaret cannot see any cancer cells but feel the calcifications they can see could be something.  They reckon only a 15% chance of anything and since this would be very early detection, that would be a good thing as well.  I of course am tempted to keep the larger chunk of me they want to excise and take my chances, but then the ever-looming "what-if" would be haunting me day and night, so I will let them have a piece of me.  I have even signed over that piece for the sake of research.  It won't be any good to me once it is gone - they may as well poke it and prod it in the name of education.  Better than being tossed into the waste bin.

So, where was I?  Got a little off track there.  Oh, yes, the afternoon of my life.  So, as I was saying, the place in between applies spiritually as well.  I know I am about to take the next step there too, but it is a little foggier.  I know now that what ever I decide to devote the rest of my working years to will NOT be motivated by money or ego.  I will not work in sales ever again.  I am not even interested in making a living in the design world anymore.  Nope, next time around there will have to be a strong sense of "soul-feeding" attached to any work I do.  I put my hand on that burner for the very last time.  I am not motivated by money anymore.  This may be naive I know, but I am listening to my inner voice from now on and unless what I am doing is something I love, it ain't happening.  

So that is why this "gap year" I am embarking on is so vitally important.  I need this time to figure it out.  There is a great story about "taking the leap".  We take these leaps in our lives from time to time and the story goes that the time in between the cliff's edge and landing on the other side is perhaps where we learn the  most.  Like letting go of the trapeze bar to grab the next one.  That scary place in between.  I am getting used to these places in between the last couple years.  It does become less frightening each time.  It is about not closing doors and remaining open to ideas, course corrections and living in the moment.  Since January, I have explored several new directions and nothing has quite gelled yet other than the current plan to travel and explore my options.  

Just trusting I will land on both feet.  

Or one anyway. Wobbly landings are not the end of the world either.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Distraction or Inspiration?

There is only one cure for this snowy bleak second day of spring.  A nice glass of red wine, Van Morrison's Hymns to the Silence and a pot of boeuf bourguignon on the burner. A roaring fire would complete the picture but my current humble abode will not co-operate in that department so I will light a candle and imagine.

I have been reading quite a lot of Buddhist wisdom lately and I gotta say I am not entirely sold on all of it, particularly the bits referring to no alcohol as part of the path to enlightenment. I also read a lot on health and nutrition and there seems to be a contradiction there regarding the consumption of red wine. Thumbs down from the Buddhists and thumbs up from the nutritionists. Let me be clear here. I am all for clear-headedness and certainly understand the dangers of over-abuse and alcoholism, but complete abstinence is a stretch for me. 

I enjoy a couple glasses of vino - not daily, but when the mood strikes and there is nothing like a frosty cold brewski after the 18th hole or a hot day in the garden or after a well-played tennis match on a hot summer day. I see it as almost medicinal the older I get. The Bhuddists see it as an addiction to distractions. 

Does this mean I cannot find true enlightenment? As I question my motivation to pour a glass of wine on a cold snowy evening, my internal instincts still signalling hibernation is not over yet,  I allow this elixir to flow through my bloodstream, sending warm, calming vibes over my body and brain. Is this wrong? It feels so right. It actually feels like what it should feel like all the time. Relaxed, no anxiety, peaceful. And is that not exactly what enlightenment is supposed to feel like?

So what if the Bhuddists have it all wrong and all it takes to reach enlightenment is 8 ounces of the beloved fermented grape? Not only does it produce these feelings. Suddenly truths you might otherwise deny or keep hidden from others tend to reveal themselves.  This can go either way. You can feel more at ease speaking them sometimes or you can say more than you should. Either way, it's honest.

And from my perspective, authentic living requires honesty and truth. 

So, as with everything in life-moderation shall prevail.  A little nod to Bhuddist wisdom with a Shiraz chaser I say.

My definition of living authentically.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Three, two, one...blast off!

I had the good fortune to enjoy a Reiki session today. In keeping with my current mission to d-tox both physically and spiritually it was the perfect follow up to my herbal cleanse that ended last Saturday. If you have never had any experience with Reiki, it is defined as a spiritually guided life force energy. You can google it if you are really interested in understanding it but I will tell you it is a worthwhile investment of your time especially if you are trying to find or renew balance in your life.

My Reiki practitioner is in training and currently is an accredited energy medicine healer so adding Reiki to her practice is a natural evolution. I found myself distracted at the beginning of our session today and during our post-session evaluation of our time together I learned she felt my energy pushing her away initially. After I settled into a more relaxed state it allowed the energy to flow more evenly between us and I sensed a calm healing warmth emanating from her hands and penetrating my chakra points that was gratefully accepted.

As she worked her way along my body from head to toe as I lay on my back, her final stop at the bottom of my feet produced the most significant moment. My whole body felt almost weightless and a sensation of being lifted or launched straight up from standing overcame me even though I was laying down. It was a profound feeling that I can only describe as being given permission to fly, much like a mother bird would nudge her baby out of the nest. I was unafraid, unlike a small bird might be. Rather, I felt exhilarated and ready, all traces of fear, trepidation and fatigue vanished.

It seems it is truly time now for me to move in a new direction in my life and this was the perfect way to initiate the coming changes.

Houston, We have liftoff!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Loosening the Noose

The shift toward minimalism and detachment from things is a slow process.  I speak from a knowing place as I have been moving in this direction for a few years now.  A recent browse in a very interesting gift shop brought home the message loud and clear as I saw several things that caught my eye.  Perhaps they were unique or creative or artsy items that attracted my eye and caused a momentary flutter of longing but not enough to make me open my wallet.

It helps that I am seriously considering getting rid of almost all of my possessions over the next few months.  I have moved twice in the last 2 years and the weight of what I own feels more and more like a noose around my neck daily.  I have stayed in some beautifully sparse accommodations in the past year and there is an awesome feeling of calm that comes with space and lack of clutter.  The interesting result of such experiences is the realization of how very little we actually need to function in our lives.  

You don't need most of the "stuff" that surrounds you.  The thousands of items in your drawers, closets, basements, cabinets and cupboards are superfluous.  There is actually a dude who has narrowed his life down to 100 things and if a new thing arrives, one goes out. Now there is a challenge!  What 100 things would you choose?  Shit, I bet there are at least that many kitchen tools in my implement drawer right now!  Which ones would I keep? Which ones could I live without? 

I am pretty sure I could not narrow my wardrobe down to 100 things, let alone my entire home. Or does wardrobe count as one thing?  What about jewelry?  Does that count as one?  Not likely.  This may be easier for a man.  But even if a woman were allowed to double the number or even triple it, would it still be possible for the average gal?  Just count your shoes.  Unlike men, who have an average of 4-5 pairs, we all know that the fashion world dictates otherwise for us.  But the truth is we allow it.  We let the pressure get to us.  We buy in.  What's worse is we buy into labels and trends that require the constant updating or upgrading of wardrobes.  

For many, this constant barrage of "buy, buy buy" causes anxiety and stress and ultimately debt. All in the name of fashion and keeping up with trends to what end?  To impress our friends? To be like everyone else?  To fit in?  To define ourselves?  

I have been guilty of all of these motivations.  In addition to these, I have used fashion to express myself.  I got angry last night watching this little documentary on Meryl Streep.  All of these so-called "fashionistas"  took turns picking apart her wardrobe faux pas over the years.  They followed their criticisms with kinder remarks describing her abilities as an actress, but it struck me how shallow it all was.  Here we have a woman who is considered one of the greatest actors of our time and instead of focusing on her exceptional talent, these "critics" chose to find something they could say to diminish her.  

I have been just as guilty of this myself.  But the shift that is taking place in me now is just this type of change of "mind-set".  The good news is that I am sure Ms. Streep could care less what these "fashion police" have to say about her.  I am quite certain her headstone will not mention the fashion crimes she  made, but rather that she graciously shared her gift as an actor with the world and her love of her family.

The drape of her pants or the shoulders of her dress will be meaningless.

As they should.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Tourist in my own Town

There is something invigorating about being a tourist in your own city.  I am truly guilty of taking Toronto for granted and this week has alerted me to this fact.  Staycation Day 3 sort of made me realize I could likely be a pretty good tour guide in a pinch which is exactly what I was.  

For starters, we left the car behind and decided to use the TTC.  For any readers who are not familiar with that term, it refers to the Toronto Transit Commission.  It is very reliable and easy to use and a great way to avoid costly parking and traffic congestion when navigating the downtown.  It helped that I had to drop my car off at the shop for a little repair and so it made sense to take the "better way".  Starting at Royal York, we headed east to the University line and went south to Queen's Park.  We disembarked there and took a quick glance at our province's illustrious and looming historical bit of architecture before making a "not as brief as I would have liked" stop at Princess Margaret Hospital.  

My appointment there took longer that I had anticipated, but clearly a doctor's time is more valuable than mine, so I waited it out.  Once that obligatory bit of tedium was finished, we ventured   a little west and took a walk along Queen West and I was once again surprised to see that some of the old haunts were still open and some seemed to even be thriving.  I pointed out such famous landmarks to my "new to Canada" friend such as The Rivoli, Fashion Crimes, Peter Pan and The Horseshoe Tavern.  Talk about staying power!  These joints were around when I was working for Metropolis in the late 80's.  Most of the kids we saw on the street down there probably were not even born when they first opened.  It made me feel old, but young in a way, so it was one of those trips down memory lane that you don't mind. I think I saw the ghost of The Bamboo as we walked by what is now Cube. To this day, I have never had Thai noodles as good as the ones they used to serve there!

We stopped for a most welcome rich and foamy latte and cappuccino as I decided to cheat a bit on my "cleanse" for the day.  Amazing how good a simple pleasure like warm frothed milk and espresso can taste when you have been deprived for 10 days.  Heaven!  We crossed over and made our way up Spadina Ave. from there and headed into Chinatown.  Same old, same old - the hanging roasted ducks in the shop windows, good smells, ghastly smells, crazy looking produce and racks of t-shirts for $5.99.  It was time to head west and check out Kensington Market. It was colourful and bohemian as always and teeming with art students and oddballs.  By now we were ready for lunch and a decision had to be made.

Hmmm, Thai? Mexican? Vegan? Italian? Then it appeared - YES!  Wanda's Pie in the Sky!  The place was jammed with students and a few folks our age and I swear, not one thing in the food cases looked any less than amazing.  No wonder the place was so busy.  With our upcoming venture to Spain top of mind, I thought maybe we would try to emulate a sort of tapas like grazing experience, so I suggested one piece of their incredible home-made vegetarian pizza, one slice of their cheesy spinach quiche, a shared bottle of aqua and if dessert HAD to be consumed, he could choose and I would just have a "bite".  The 4 inch high slice of Wanda's famous warmed (in an oven) apple pie was chosen and my "bite" turned into half the slice.  So sorry Wild Rose Cleanse, but I gave you 10 full days of my life - time's up!  I justified it by the fact that I had still not eaten anything "processed".  So there!

We sat at the counter in the window eating and were entertained with the most unusual cast of characters.  A few hi-lights included a truly geeky looking guy in an aviator hat, a man in fuchsia pink plaid pants, a woman in leopard skin jacket with black tights and high heeled boots riding a bicycle and an unfortunate soul that was clearly afraid to step on cracks and continually swatted at invisible insects that apparently were flying about his head.  That's Kensington.

North to College and across to Yonge on a streetcar, hop on a northbound subway train and then a slide west to the Annex to check out that hood where once again I noted many of the old haunts remained.  Lee's Palace, The Brunswick House, Pauper's Pub and the infamous Madison Ave Pub where a quick beer to quench our thirst was in order.  Not much has changed there either since my old days in the beer biz.  Heading out after a glass of Mill St Organic Lager (SEE - still being "sort  of cleanse conscious") we walked this hood all the way through little Korea to Christie before calling it a day and heading west on the subway to Royal York and our now seemingly "beige" neighbourhood.  

I will end this little travelogue with a sign post I saw on a hydro pole in Kensington.

"Be a pencil, not an eraser."

Now go forth and create!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Staycation...Day 2

Hmmm, what to write about first? Day two of the Staycation (yesterday) or the fact that I am more than half way through the 12 day Wild Rose Herbal D-tox/cleanse.  Day 2 of the Staycation was more fun for sure.  Being lucky enough to enjoy the second of a 2 day blast of spring was more than welcome.

The urge to be near water prevailed so we headed to my old hood in Port Credit and did a good hoof on the waterfront trails.  There was hardly any wind and the sun was brilliant and I even managed to come across something new down there that I do believe has been there all along but I just noticed yesterday for the first time.  There is a lovely point along the waterfront trail heading west from the harbour where artist Jim Menken has created three striking chainsaw carvings from old tree stumps.  What a great way to add some beauty to the area and also a unique and interesting way to make use of what would otherwise just be and ordinary tree stump. The one I liked best is pictured below - something you might see at the prow of an old ship looking out to sea.  She looks out instead to Lake Ontario, but the effect is the same. 

We sat next to her on a bench and snacked on organic apples slices and almonds in keeping with my cleanse and I googled Jim Menken on my phone as we sat enjoying the art and the view.  Turns out he is an Orangeville resident who has been commissioned to create several chainsaw sculptures throughout Mississauga and I particularly enjoyed his motto where he says his mission is to "bring new life to old wood".  Geez, I think most of my married gal pals know all about that!  Sorry, could not resist!

So, ahem, moving on, heading back into the village, I fancied lunch at my favourite raw food eatery - Raw Aura, but alas, it was closed on a Sunday, so we ventured down the way to Planet Organic and got some take-away and sat down at the foot of Hurontario at the park on a bench near the water and ate our healthy choices basking in the late winter sun. Lunch was followed by hot drinks and a stroll along Lakeshore Road, slipping into the odd shop - one in particular that is newish - Casual Life.  The owner has done a fabulous job of merchandising and her focus is outdoor furniture and accessories, some of which could easily translate to indoor pieces.  Some of it quite unique and you can customize your cushions in a myriad of colourful outdoor fabrics.  Worth a look for sure.  She has some great reclaimed wood pieces and twiggy tables with very reasonable prices - check it out. 

Just to backtrack a bit on the cleanse - now that I am over the half way mark - I can report that there were a couple of uncomfortable days where I did suffer from the flu symptoms that are apparently normal.  It was just joint ache but it was pretty intense, especially at night and I had to resort to some Advil to quiet the pain a bit in the night, but it has disappeared the last couple of days, so I guess I am out of the woods now with negative reactions. I would still recommend this despite the side effects. 

The scale has not moved since the first 3 dropped off, but I am hopeful a couple more will disappear before the end of Saturday.  The timing of the end works out well as my mother has invited us for a St. Patricks Day lunch where she will serve the tradtional corned beef and cabbage and of course beer.  I gotta say, after 12 days without any wine or beer, I will be ready for a drink! 

Green or otherwise. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March Break Staycation...Day One

Yesterday was the perfect day to have a "staycation"!  It was a sunny mild day in March and it called for getting outdoors and soaking in some harmful ultraviolet rays and a change of scenery.  What better excuse than to head east from my west-end nest and wander around the Beach neighbourhood.  Of course, I still call it the "Beaches", but only because that is what we called it when I lived there 30 years ago.  And sometimes you just can't teach an old dog new tricks. Hmmmfff!

We started at the corner of Woodbine and Queen and made our way across to Neville Park and past the Harris Filtration buildings and took a look at the apartment building I once lived in.  Not much had changed with the exception of new management as indicated by the signage and they had maintained it pretty well with some new pavers and landscaping going from building to building of the small compound of 3 story walk-ups.  I tried peering into the windows of  my basement beauty but did not want to be too obvious and besides, it was a pretty ordinary apartment to begin with so not sure what I expected to see anyway.  I did remember the exact unit of course and being a basement suite, it was ground level windows all around and I recalled one time late at night being frightened by someone trying to open my bedroom window.  The police were alerted right away and whoever it was ran off, so no harm, no foul, but it did put me off basement suites from that day forward.

After a cursory look around we headed back to hook up to the boardwalk along the lakefront and as we passed the houses on the street leading to the beach, we came across a house that had been doing some spring cleaning.  There was an assortment of junk piled up near the curb and I noticed one item that brought back a memory of my time there.  The woman of the house had placed one of those round rattan papason chairs, sans the base out with her collection of cast-offs.  My bff who was my roommate at the time had one of those chairs and it sat in the corner of the living room of that apartment.  It was the chair of choice if you wanted to curl up and read a book or whatever other form of relaxation struck your fancy.  Once you were in it, it was hard to get out of it.  I think you can still buy them at places like Pier One and they were almost a rite of passage for first time apartment dwellers back in the day.  It was odd that we would see that old beat up shell so close to the old homestead - a real memory jogger.

The beach does not change much other than new shops taking over old shops and it was heart-warming to see that some places are still standing with the same old signage, refusing to move forward as though time has stood still.  The two that stand out the  most are The Beacher Cafe and The "Goof".  The Goof of course being the old Garden Gate Chinese Restaurant with the neon sign that reads Good Food.  The way the letters are positioned and the colour of the background creates an illusion of the word GooF - hence the name that most people know it by. It was often a dinner stop on my way home from school during my Ryerson days.  They had a list of about 10 Chinese combos and if I recall, you could get just about any of them for about 5 bucks.  Not a bad price for an impoverished student and no mess to clean up.

Although there were a lot of likely better choices for lunch, it seemed apropos that we stick to tradition and experience the Beacher Cafe.  The original signage still in place, the food reliable and adequate and I could even get a lunch that stuck to my cleanse rules.  I had to leave a few bits out, but at least there was something on the menu that I could eat.  Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, some fresh fruit and a cup of green tea.  It was painful watching my lunch partner scarf down Eggs Benedict but I survived my food envy and enjoyed the passing parade of Beach residents, most of whom have dogs. I swear this hood had more dogs than people. Warning:  Watch where you are walking! Most people do scoop but there are always those who don't as was evident on several occasions.

The great thing about spending an afternoon in a hood other than your own, it the feeling of being somewhere new.  Somewhere fresh.  At days end, we headed west past a few of my other old living quarters, then to the St Lawrence market to see if we could scoop up any late day fish bargains, which we did.  At about 4 pm on a Saturday, the fish mongers there start a sell off of the fresh fish and the savings can be really great.  

It was a typical day in the city of Toronto, but it felt like I was on a little mini holiday.  Just sitting here trying to figure out where to go today. Day 2 of the "Staycation". 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

You are NEVER too old!

"I could dance all fuckin day!" 

These are the words of 88 year old Dancing Nana - the latest YouTube video to go viral this week. If you have not seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it. You MUST watch right to the end with the volume at full to get the full effect. I missed her parting words the first time I watched and even then I loved her. When I watched a second time on my computer rather than my phone, I was totally in love with her!

It is a simple video made by her granddaughter who is in a car waiting for her nana to come out of the house. The scene is captured in innocence which makes it all that more endearing. Nana is so authentic and by 88 she bloody well should be. We all should be. There must be something so freeing by that age. It starts a few years before that as I can attest but I would have to say I am not quite there yet. I have tried on occasion to just let er rip in public, like sometimes if I am in a department store and a song comes on that I really like and I find myself starting to groove a little between the racks of marked down dresses but my daughter, if she notices, will stop me, horror on her face before I get too carried away.

So without further ado, I present you with "Dancing Nana"

May we all dance till we drop!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pass the Butter Please!

OK - so Day 3 of the cleanse.  Here's the update.  Stepped on the scale and was pleasantly surprised to be down 3 lbs.  Let's face it, getting rid of toxins is not the only reason to embark on a cleanse!  It's been weeks since I felt a sense of lightness upon rising, so it was welcome for sure.

The food is more than enough in terms of quantity and as I said before, the feeling of filling the temple with nothing but goodness is a combination of loving yourself and fueling your body as it was meant to be fueled.  Nothing artificial or harmful going in and plenty coming out!  Seriously though, the laxative component of the herbal supplements is not too bad - fairly mild in fact, but noticeable for certain.

It was time to restock the veggie bins in the fridge, so after a wonderful one hour session with my massage therapist (helpful in detoxing as well) this morning, I headed to the grocery store for fresh supplies.  I noticed myself being drawn to a few things on the "no" list, especially the tropical fruits.  I usually include these in my regular diet so having to veer around them is not easy.  I love melon and mango and they are not allowed as they are too sweet and part of the idea is to wean off sugar, even naturally occurring sugars, so those will have to wait.

And forget the entire dairy aisle - the only thing that entered the cart from that row was butter - the one dairy product on the "yes" list!  Funny how I hardly used any butter before this, but now that the D-tox gods have said I can, WHY NOT?  Of course this is in moderation but it sure helps cooked veggies taste decadent!  

Curbing snack cravings is a no-brainer.   I never leave the house without a bag of organic apple slices and almonds.  The perfect fat/protein/carb snack.  It works for me.  Coffee has been pretty much replaced with green tea.  I do still have one cuppa joe in the morning but without cream it really does not hold the same appeal for me.  Maybe by Day 12 I will be used to it but it is doubtful.

Some of my favourite ways to prepare salmon are off the list, so I came up with a new one which I will share here for you.  It was delicious and if you are not a fan of cilantro, you could replace it with fresh basil.  Either would work.  

I am not suffering from any of the side effects other than a mild head ache that was very short-lived and a bit of achiness in my lower back - the mild flu-like symptoms he said could possibly occur.

As I am not working right now, I have time to devote to food prep and planning that when I was working full time might have been more difficult, but still doable if you are organized.  You can keep it very simple or make it more complex depending on how demanding your taste-buds are.  

The butter is a godsend in this department as it really does make any cooked vegetable taste sublime!  Add a squirt of fresh lemon or lime to any buttered green, some sea salt and pepper and suddenly a serving of Swiss Chard is the main event in my mind.  I find as I enjoy more and varied veggies, my desire for poultry or meat decreases as well.  I just had a big salad of mixed greens, a scoop of the aforementioned Quinoa Salad, sliced avocado and was going to add some leftover chicken, but decided the chicken would actually compete with the freshness of the salad and since there were already walnuts and avocado giving it some substance, it was just right the way it was.  Filling too.

So, without further ado ... my version of "allowable" Salmon.

Salmon with Cilantro Pesto and Toasted Pine Nuts 

2 Salmon Fillets (Atlantic or Organic are best)
Half a bunch of fresh cilantro
1 tbs butter softened
2 cloves garlic
2 green onions
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts

Using a food chopper or food processor, chop garlic fine, add onions, chop fine, add cilantro, chop fine.  Add butter and oil and process until a coarse paste.  Lay salmon out on a baking sheet on parchment paper.  Spread paste over top of fish.  Press pine nuts into top until covered.  Bake at 415 F for 20 minutes.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  Pinenuts should be golden brown.  Serves 2.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Toxicity BEGONE!

It has been 12 days since I left my dead-end job and as I said to someone the other day, it is taking some time shaking off the toxicity of that place, so it is only natural that I am now embarking on a physical cleanse as well.

It seems like the right thing to do as our body, mind and spirit are so closely intertwined.  I believe we carry negative energy in our bodily cells and just leaving my job may not be quite enough to rid my body and spirit of that draining energy.  An old friend from Vancouver just happened to mention the Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox program to me about a week ago - no coincidence I am convinced.  The universe always seems to present what is needed when it is needed.

I googled some info about it and decided to give it a whirl.  I started yesterday.  I have done cleanses before and this one is not unlike some others I have tried. The herbal supplements will aid in the d-tox aspect and the diet guidelines are quite simple.  I was actually following this sort recommended eating style for the last three years although lately had started to slip into some old bad habits that needed to be nipped in the bud.  The plan is essentially protein, lots of veggies, some fruits (not tropical), no sugar, no dairy and no alcohol. The cessation of my daily glass of plonk seemed likely to be the most difficult aspect, but knowing it is only for 12 days, I think I can survive!

The amazing thing about starting any new eating program is the blatant revelation that comes on the first day when you realize how many things you had been letting slip.  Suddenly every morsel that slips past your lips must be considered carefully and labels must be scrutinized and corkscrews must be safely tucked away for another day. 

I actually embraced Day 1.  It was good to feel in control again.  I felt creative in my approach to mealtimes.  There is something almost 'holy" about knowing that every bite of food that enters my body is like a "healing".  Fresh, organic, additive free.  That whole "my body is a temple" attitude reigns. If we could only hold on to that thought everyday it would result in increased energy and a vibrancy that may have been lacking the day before as we were scarfing down that Ham and Cheese croissant from Ma Maison with a foamy latte, nary a concern about the wheat and butter, salty pork and high fat dairy and caffeine we were ingesting, leaving a thick layer of gooey fat all over the temple floor.  It's a slippery slope.  Time to clean up.

So, I will keep you posted as to my 12 day journey with Dr. Terry Willard's program.  He is a Ph.D and Clinical Herbalist who lives in nature in our very own province of Alberta.  He owns an organic herb farm on the Eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains outside of Calgary. He has written several books on the topic and so I trust his advice and recommendations.  You can pick up the D-Tox kit at Healthy Planet - $31.99 for a 12 day supply.  I have also heard  you can get it at other health stores and Whole Foods.

I will also share some recipes that I have created.  There is a book available for those of you who need more guidance, but I have been down this road before and can usually pull a rabbit out of my hat with 'allowable" ingredients like I did twice yesterday with delicious results.

Here is a recipe for a Quinoa "Waldorf" (that's my name for it, anyway).

Quinoa Waldorf Salad

1 cup dried organic Quinoa cooked and cooled.
1 large stalk celery diced small
5 green onions chopped including tops
1 large carrot diced small
1 organic gala apple diced small
1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/3 cup walnut pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up in a bowl and serve chilled.  Will keep refrigerated for 3-4 days.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

In Like a Lamb

Glancing sideways from my seat,
a glimpse
jagged ridge of snow bank
out my window
still standing rigid from days ago
enhanced by moonlight
or street lights
it matters not

snow cleared for me
making my way easier
this gesture from my lover
preserved by the cold
a kiss
a caress
meanings entwined

a moment in time
a vignette to hold
for another day
another time
revived on a summer day

Friday, March 1, 2013

Then and Now

The planning and plotting of the 2013 European adventure is well underway here at Chez Decomama.  I have been reminiscing about the last one in 1977.  I even pulled out my old journal from that trip to try and find the  name of a few landmarks, names and restaurants that I experienced the first time to arm me with some clues as to where I might find a few things that I want to revisit.

This exercise got me to comparing and contrasting the two adventures and how vastly different it is this time.  I also came across something that I had totally forgotten about.  When I flipped to the back pages of the partially filled notebook that followed me everywhere in 1977, I found the autographs in the photo above.  Cher and Gregg Allman were taking a trip up to the top of the Eiffel Tower the same day we were and as we started chatting to a fellow in the parking lot, we discovered in conversation that he was their manager and he said to hang around if we wanted to meet them.  At 19, this was like some sort of thrill I had only dreamed of, so there we stood, the three of us waiting as though it was just an ordinary thing that was about to occur.

Sure enough, we stood and watched as they started to make their way through the parking lot toward us, no one else noticing their celebrity.  The manager (forget his name of course), introduced us to them, we actually stood around and had a bit of small talk and then we asked if we could take a photo and I had forgotten we also had asked for an autograph.  It was not our only celebrity siting on that trip - a few days later in Zermatt, we watched Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland on a set of a movie being filmed there.  We could not believe our luck - a couple of kids from small town Ontario bumping into stars like this!  My photos are still on slides so I don't have anything to publish here, but one day I just have to get those slides turned into photos...been saying that for over 30 years!

Anyway, back to my "compare and contrast".  


Guide Book - Europe on $10 a Day (our bible)


Guide Book - Forget the Book - Just Google it and hope for Europe on $200 a Day!


Luggage - Canadian Flag embossed Back Pack with adjustable straps


Luggage - Extra large Suitcase on Wheels - "WTF will we do on cobblestones?"


Flight - Economy seats with full service free bar and meals served on fine china - Return Airfare - about $325


Economy seats - bring your own grub and buy your own booze - Return Airfare - about $1200


Itinerary - Figure it out when we get there.


Itinerary - Every hotel and pension and apartment booked 2 months ahead - deposits taken. Drive time between stops calculated and estimated to avoid arriving in foreign town/village in the dark - God forbid!


Packing List - Clothes, Europe on $10 A Day, Folding Map of Europe, No make-up, Swiss Army Knife


Packing List - Clothes, I Pad, GPS, Lots of Make-up, Same Swiss Army Knife - but not in carry-on!  


Camera - Fully Manual Rollei 35 mm, Several rolls of Kodachrome film


Camera - Will bring a digital, but will likely end up taking most shots with IPhone.


Travelling Companion - Best Girlfriend


Travelling Companion - Man I met on 1977 Trip in Spain 


Hairstyle - Long Brown Hair - Centre Part a la Peggy Lipton


Hairstyle - Chin Length Dirty Blonde - Note to Self - Book Root Touch-up day before we leave.


Travel Insurance - What's that?


Travel Insurance - Gazillion dollars - medical,  flight cancellation, car, life - travel is risky you know!


First Aid Kit - Band-aids, aspirin, Coppertone Coconut Oil SPF - 0


First Aid Kit - Advil, Tylenol, Imodium, for cuts, one for eye infections, emergency antibiotics, Aloe for sunburns, Vitamins, Band aids,  Sunscreen - SPF 60 - extra piece of luggage to carry it all!


Shoes - Hiking Boots, flip flops


Shoes - Tennis Shoes, Running Shoes, Walking shoes, Sandals, Flip Flops, One pair of heels...just in case.


Typical Meal on the Road - Hard Cheese, Crusty Bread, Red Wine


Typical Meal on the Road - Hard Cheese, Crusty Bread, Red Wine (fuck the diet!)


Connecting to folks back home - Postcards and Letters 


Connecting to folks back home - texting and email


Number of Countries Visited - 12 over 3 months


Number of Countries Visiting - 2 over 3 weeks (all we can afford!)
Ola! Bonjour! (fewer language phrases to learn as well)


Excitement Level prior to departure - 10/10


Excitement Level prior to departure - 10/10

Some things never change!