newly acquired possessions (i.e. more shopping)

forever 21 skirts and jewellery

images from canada.forever21.com

I hate shopping. In a mall.

But online shopping? The comforts of picking out my clothes and accessories while in my pj’s while sipping coffee BEFORE the malls open is my guilty pleasure. Not having to deal with parking and crowds is a huge bonus.

I recently had discovered Forever 21 the last time I did go shopping at a mall. It was the first time I went into this store and was just in heaven after discovering their line of fashion jewellery – all at a reasonable price especially as they had a sale that day.

I’ve really been attracted to the asymmetrical look as well as delicate flowers to accent one’s outfit. The above is a sample of what is setting the softer look for my spring/summer wardrobe.

Mind you, the hem of the inner layer part of the skirts are a couple of inches lower on me. The models for each article of clothing is described as far as their height and measurements (and what size they are wearing) to give the shopper a better understanding of what they are about to buy. Most models are around the 6′ mark. So while the skirts look short, on an average woman like me, they are quite the right length and fit for office wear.

I suppose that’s why I never gave Forever 21 a chance – all their skirts look really short and most clothes are meant for younger people (hence ’21′ in the name). I’ve discovered though that there are collections one can find even for my age (41 and counting) if worn with some thing else and accessorized appropriately.

Thus far, I’ve worn all the jewellery and the one cream-coloured skirt. All have received positive comments. Looking forward to wearing the red one with my peek-toe, black booties!

Easter weekend 2014 (and checking in)

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my space here. And I miss it. I miss it very much.

Time is difficult to find these days – or I should say, making time is difficult these days. I’m up at 5:15am to workout, off to work long and sometimes very intensely busy days (more days than not), back home for the after work/after school daily grind and then, hoping, to be in bed by 10pm. Though most nights, I could easily fall asleep at 9pm.

But how am I, one might wonder?

I’m doing fine. I wouldn’t say I’m filled with constant happiness. But I do check in with myself once in awhile. I’m actually not use to be going on for this long without suicidal thoughts and sometimes wonder if all those dark days of are of the past.

Are they? Or are they just lying dormant? It’s difficult to say. I suppose, I’m being cautiously optimistic. I’m partly being hopeful that the worst is all behind me. But realistic that I’m not cured, by any sense – just that I’m able to, perhaps, manage all this.

A part of me wishes that I could steer onwards with a heart full of hope and charity. Another part of me realizes this is not completely realistic. Not to say that I am without hope or faith – I do continue to strive for a full heart. But sometimes, a certain level of being guarded is part of survival of this world we live in.

It’s knowing who to trust and who needs more time to be trusted (rather than jumping to the conclusion of who not to trust). The latter usually requires much more space and distance – at least at the beginning of whatever relationship I may or may not have with that person.

Anyway, we had a beautiful but busy long Easter weekend, full of egg colouring, food prepping and dinner hosting, seeing Captain America – The Winter Soldier, an egg hunt, a bike ride and walk under the sun, pub wings and some organizing/cleaning in between everything.

leg of lamb with prosciutto

image courtesy of taste.com.au

Our traditional Easter dinner menu for my family:

  1. Spinach, Egg and Bacon Salad
  2. Smoked Trout
  3. Roasted Lamb with Sage and Prosciutto
  4. Spaghetti Squash Casserole
  5. Roasted Asparagus
  6. Applesauce Cake*
    • Modified ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup coconut flour
        1 teaspoon baking powder
        1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        3 teaspoons cinnamon
        1/2 teaspoon ginger
        1/2 cup reduced-calorie margarine
        2 whole eggs
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        1/3 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
        1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

* The dessert was modified (and I’m still working on perfecting the modifications) to make it diabetic friendly. The original recipe asked for 1/4 molasses (pure sugar) and 1 cup Splenda. I normally reduce the sugar by 1/2 or 2/3rds anyway. As I’m not big on the artifical sweet taste, I’m working on reducing the Splenda but will also look into natural agave to substitute the sweetness. The unsweetened applesauce already has enough natural sweetness to it, though. And coconut flour, which has a higher absorbancy over regular flour, is much lower on the carb count and glycemic index. It’s nutritional value is higher as well.The above recipe is gluten-free – just make sure the baking powder and soda have no additives that would be problematic for those who have certain food intolerance.

taking it easy – with help from jon

jon bon jovi

it’s sunday.

i woke up from a very pleasant dream with the above man gracing his presence during my nocturnal drift. in my dream, i dreamt about work. there was a lot of stress in my dream. new management (i.e. new bosses) wanted me to figure out things that were not under my area of expertise. i was still tied to my old boss, somehow, in regards to networking… we had an argument. i was pissed at him. co-workers, past and present, were not being cooperative.

and then, a moments break within all this dream madness, had me in a coffee shop. i just walked away from it all just to take a break. as i waited for the barista to hand over my coffee, jon bon jovi was standing there next to me. he was so open. so friendly. we started talking right away.

the bar where people were waiting for their order was really crowded. he was sitting on a stool and let me lean on him. but the leaning was not just physical. it was supporting me emotionally as well. everything his body language communicated to me was, you need to take a breather.

so, no, it wasn’t that type of dream. nothing naughty, i’m afraid. while i find this celebrity sexier now in his 50′s (what is it about men looking even better in their 50′s?) for whatever reason, my subconscious mind chose him to be my voice of reason. how fun is that! it’s like a bit of humour my subconsciousness was trying to add in… a message of, lighten up! here… let me give you jon bon jovi for the night…

sure, there were some innocent flirting. why not give my ego some stroking while it’s at it, right? i didn’t mind – i thoroughly enjoyed having jon’s gentleman-like, yet sexy, attention.

so, last night, i went to bed with plans to do a lot today. doug is on shift, chaeli is at her grandparents’ place… it was originally a day of getting a head start for the up coming week.

then i woke up. and asked myself, why?

i planned to wake up, have cereal and go to the gym for an hour cardio session. i then planned to fold laundry, load the dish washer, unload the dishwasher, make my breakfast, egg-white, veggie omelettes for the week… another workout at home, this time the chest and back p90x strength routine… and somehow, during all that, work on some projects for work.

on a sunday where we’re going to see spring-like conditions – sunny and double-digit temperature – why would i do that to myself?

would jon have agreed on this? of course not. my nocturnal angel of reason would have shaken his head, laughed and tell me to knock it off.

and so, i slept an hour more, got up to walk hobbes while enjoying the fresh, morning air, then came in for a leisurely breakfast. i’m now sipping my lovely, aromatic coffee while blogging. and googling images of jon while i’m at it.

there are things i still have to do today and that is the reality. my family needs clean underwear, of course. and the dishwasher IS full.

but what i will do – i will go out and take advantage of the sunny afternoon. i will take hobbes for a longer walk and just enjoy the smell of spring. and for sure, i’ll enjoy another cup of coffee this afternoon.

i’m learning to be more gentle to myself. sometimes, it starts with just the small stuff. with a little help of an 80′s rock icon.

3 day weekend with one theme – love

this past weekend was filled with contrasting days. if i had to define it by a book, perhaps ‘eat, pray, love’ would have best mirrored the thoughts and emotions i went through. if, ‘eat, pray, love’ happened to be just one country per day, that is.

friday – the day of me, my ego, of which i ate up (following by eating a lot of peking duck)

the mood of this day was surrounded by my therapy session and what came out of it. it was a good therapy session and much was summed up by my journey these past couple of months. without going into full detail, i will say that the theme immediately started to center around getting to that point of actually loving myself.

it’s a strange concept. no, really. think about it. i know we hear it all the time. that analogy of air pressure dropping in a plane and air masks falling form above. the illustration of a parent putting on the mask first before putting it on their child. the basic message – how can you take care of anyone else if you can’t take care of yourself first? which easily can be translated to also loving ourselves… not just so that we can love and take care of others, but with a bigger and purer heart.

and yet, i say it’s still a strange concept to practice because everything in our society makes our hearts cynical, jaded and non-trusting. we’re raised to believe that loving ourselves means we are conceited with an overly-sized ego. and everything we do just isn’t right – our body image could be better, we could have a better hairstyle and we definitely need to replace our wardrobe and use gobs of make-up to cover our imperfections. our car could be better – so can our house. the list goes on.

when i read shugar‘s post called i heart me, all the above dawned on me of how we really are reminded on a daily basis that we’re just not good enough for our own love.

so as i sat in front of my therapist, nodding in agreement of how being kinder to myself and loving myself, is an important, daily ritual, there was a part of me that felt uncomfortable with this process.

saturday – the day i prayed, but more for my ass

we went up to collingwood for a day of boarding/skiing. thanks to a friend of doug’s, we got cheap lift tickets at a private club. which meant we didn’t have to face the crowd of blue mountain or horseshoe – the two popular public ski resorts up there.

i was doing great! i felt great! we spent our morning on the blue runs. they weren’t long but tricky with some of the steep parts. but the conditions were a bit slick. the light was flat and the snow was packed and not at all soft. icy patches were also noted in certain areas.

a lot of people will question what it is about me and snowboarding. most of my friends have given it up, sticking to skiing. even claiming that snowboarding is out.

well, for one, i love it. i love the feel of it and that alone drives me to continue. secondly, and finally, i committed myself to it. once i commit to doing something, especially if it’s something physical, it’s not often i give up. i may take a hiatus but i’ll go back to it at some point to conquer it.

then in the afternoon, we headed back out to tackle a longer run. i was psyched because this was the first time i had a chance to go on a bigger hill for a longer trail. and i was doing great about 1/3rd of the way.

then all of the sudden, i lost control extremely fast. i don’t know how it happened, but i think i went air born before landing hard on the left side of my arse. followed with the rest of my body going back before bonking my head.

the pain seared and radiated in a most excruciating way. the ski patrol wanted to sled me down but i was too angry to let anyone help me. i graciously declined, saying that i’m okay with proof as i showed them i could still walk over to the side and move freely. i could walk… a bit stiffly, mind you, but i could. and i’ll be darned if i wasn’t going to finish that run on my board.

it wasn’t pride. it wasn’t embarrassment of being taken down by sled. it was my drive and my focus. i committed to doing something and i wanted to finish it.

my friend, hoa, who was my dragon boat captain at one point over a decade ago, said that sometimes i’m so geared up for my goal that i’ll kill myself doing it. he pointed this out again when we were at a place doing indoor rock climbing. he was spotting me as i climbed upwards and found myself in a tricky spot. without looking anywhere but up, i leaped off and tried to grab the next available piece, only to miss and fall. after he lowered me down to safety, he said that i tend to only go vertical, never horizontal. he pointed up to the areas i could have maneuvered left and right in order to make my way up.

i didn’t realize it back then. no – back then, i just analyzed what he was saying as mistakes i was making while rock climbing. but the developing message was – i’m so overly-focused that i don’t take a step back to analyze the situation. i’m in such a hurry for the win that i forget to ease up when i need to. and therefore, i miss a better solution.

so back to being stuck 2/3rd up that hill with my snowboard. i did manage to get down on my own, but most of it was just side to side on my heels. any turning to the other edge of my board proved to be too painful. i made my way back to the lodge and was forced to call it quits.

on the way home, i spent a good 15-20 minutes crying with anger and frustration. i questioned over and over again what i did wrong and how i could have avoided it. only until i calmed down a bit, i thought about those moments with hoa from my past and my therapy session the day before. that’s when i eased up on myself. i was so worried that this was a set back for me – a negative way to end the season and therefore, bringing much fear before the start of the next – that i forgot to take a look at how far i’ve come. and that the day’s condition was horrible which was not something i could control.

sunday – a day of love

i woke up feeling quite sore and stiff, but the searing pain i felt the day before, had subsided enough for me to walk around more easily. the first thing i said to doug when i woke up was, “i think i will go to the yoga show after all. will you guys come with me?”

we had a big, family brunch with excellent coffee. then quickly showered, changed and drove to the subway station.

i made it just in time to see a great yogi instruct a class in the yoga garden. his name is paul galloro. while i wasn’t able to make it for this class of his (and a bit too beat up to do it), i enjoyed showing my husband and daughter what a great yoga instructor he is.

we made our way through the floor and sampled lots of treats. some purchases were made and then 2 hours later, we headed back home.

as i said to a friend and fellow yogi, “it was just a great feeling to be there, surrounded by people who not only understood yoga, but love and are passionate about the practice of yoga and all the spiritual teachings it comes with.” and of course, i got to share the day with two people who are the utmost important to me.

it dawned on me that perhaps paul has a blog so i went home to look it up. as if it was meant to be, a sign that rounded up my entire weekend, i found this post he wrote a little while ago called “Nourish Your Soul with Love.”

i will dive on this more later but just wanted to add that this is a must read. it also made me realize that i HAVE been loving myself through the practice of yoga. and i’ll get into this deeper as well as i explain my journey  – from when it was just a tool to my fitness regime to the point where the practice has become so much more.

work and play weekend

i rather not work on my weekends but sometimes, it’s inevitable. especially now that i’m starting to do some small, side-contract jobs. as i explain myself to any new client, i have a full time job so whatever time i have in the evenings and on weekends (though i try to finish up during the week), is what i can offer them. my fair price does reflect this but should they require some one who’s able to give them their hours during business time, i’m unfortunately not their fit.

this weekend was one of those weekends i had to set some time to work. but i felt it was well balanced. i would say 20% of it was work and the rest of the 80% was play.

well, that’s not entirely true. more like 20% work, 50% house choirs and 30% play.

basque chicken recipe

Photography by Jodi Pudge

friday night, a night i really try not to work since it’s my first break into the weekend, we made our go-to, oven roasted, basque chicken recipe. from canadian living, this recipe never fails us and other guests we’ve made it for have asked for the recipe to be passed on to them. doug and i usually make two batches – one with spicy sausage and some mixture of chili, cayenne and/or spicy paprika. the other dish is on the mild side for chaeli and other people who are not as adventurous with spicy food.

this time, we made it for my parents – it was, again, a success. and as usual, we made enough for leftovers. i’m having it for lunch today, actually.

saturday, i spent as much time as i could working on my contract job (logo design for a client in the real estate industry) but made sure to stop working about an hour after lunch.

why? because it was possibly, our final chance for some skiing/boarding of the season. we only went for two hours of night-skiing but it was sweet. the hill was not very busy so many times, i found myself carving down the hill pretty much alone. i worked on my technique, coupled with speed, and felt great! there’s nothing like getting into a rhythm of going back and forth from heel to toe and toe to heel when snowboarding. it almost felt, at some points, effortless as i let my feet just carry me through those two motions.

we were baked not too long before bedtime. chaeli wanted to watch a bit of our bbc blue planet dvd. i assure you i fell asleep only within the first 15 minutes. if that.

sunday, i woke up feeling sore across my back, shoulders and chest. i have no idea why. i have not felt sore much after boarding this whole season so i am inclined to think it had something to do with my yoga class earlier that morning of our ski/board trip (it was a tough class).

i decided to tip-toe down to the basement to do a gentle vinyasa flow yoga session. just enough to limber up my body and stretch it out.

we eventually found our way to milestones for brunch and then shopping at the mall across from it. remember how i said i was in the mood for jewellery shopping? well, that’s basically what i did. doug took chaeli to do some of their own shopping which gave me just over an hour to take advantage of the jewellery sales at both forever 21 and bittersweets.

we didn’t forget hobbes, though. after resting for about 30 minutes at home, we went back up north, just 30 minutes or so, for a nice 2.8km hike through the woods. it was a beautiful, sunny type of winter day. the fresh air was good and hobbes certainly got his exercise. we all did.

one thing i must admit about a weekend like this – it can be tiring. i’m feeling it today, especially after my 5:45am workout in my basement this morning. we packed a lot in – i didn’t even mention all the time we spent making lunch, dinner and prepping my healthy, high-fiber, high-protein, low-glycemic, low-carb breakfast salad (which will be for most of my mornings at work this week). nor the laundry or dishes or whatever else needed our attention.

at the same time, i felt like we really accomplished a lot this weekend. it’s what makes monday morning feel just a wee tad better. and while we had no real ‘lazy time’ we had moments of down time between all the running around. just enough down time to recharge but not so long and drawn out to make us feel really lazy.