Chai Coconut Latte and Diana Krall

Being extremely spoiled by my best friend Ada during my mid-20’s, I’ve never been able to have the store-bought, pre-made Chai tea bags. Nor the cafes that make the latte’s from boxed, sugary (too sugary), processed liquid mix which they add to black tea. Nope. Sorry – that’s just not real Chai tea.

Ada, see, would invite us over after we went out for dinner somewhere in walking distance from her 1-bedroom apartment on Queen St (downtown TO). She would, from scratch, create the most luxuriously, smooth and creamy Chai latte for us. The process would take at least 30 minutes but the wait was so worth it.

She often commented the tea was so rich and velvety that it was enough to pass as a dessert (even though it had a fraction of the calories from any typical dessert order one would make from a restaurant menu).

20 years later, I still have fond memories of her Chai tea latte she made for us. When I found the following Bobby Flay recipe for Chai Coconut Tea Latte, I knew I had to give it a try. I used all unsweetened coconut milk and passed on the brown sugar. The coconut milk does not froth as much as regular milk but not being one to drink dairy milk, this was my personal option.

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Homemade Coconut Chai Tea Latte

It was heavenly – crushing the spices fresh for this process is worth the time and really, very little effort! I have made this twice for my husband and I on the weekends. I add a touch of 10% cream and a little sweetener but my husband enjoys it as is.

We had this, in fact, for dessert last night. Sitting in our living room, we sipped our hot mugs of the Chai concoction with Diana Krall in the background.

It was the perfect way to end our day. And I really enjoy these introverted weekend days I have with my family. It’s a chance for me to slow down and recharge my batteries.

The Art of Staycationing

stay·ca·tion
ˌstāˈkāSHn/
noun; informal
noun: staycation; plural noun: staycations; noun: stay-cation; plural noun: stay-cations
  1. a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

We had gone over and over again how we wanted to spend our family week off during Chaeli’s March Break. Ideas included a Mexican cruise, Disneyland, Portugal, renting a cottage and of course, what we’ve been doing these past two years – skiing in Quebec.

Turned out, what we really need was a staycation. We needed to have no plans. We needed to chill out and have a loose schedule. We needed, also, to do some sorting and chucking. But mainly, we just needed to do a lot of nothing.

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I could start everyday with this avocado toast and scrambled eggs!

Of course, doing a lot of nothing usually amounts to doing something. But without the pressure of ‘having to see this’ and ‘having to do that.’

This past weekend was a bit more work – I spent a lot of my time sorting and chucking a very neglected walk-in closet. It’s nearly done – and I can’t wait. The last time my walk-in closet was this clean and organized, I would find myself sitting on the floor in the middle of it with a glass of wine, marveling at my results.

And you bet I’m going to do it again! Only this time it might be with a cold flute of Prosecco or Sparking Cava. My level of sophistication has elevated throughout the years after all.

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The final beautiful view of a frozen pond mid-point of our hike before we made our way back.

The real staycation day started today. My day played out wonderfully, starting with a 1 hour cardio at the gym while the lazier family members (i.e. everyone but me) slept in. When I came home mid-morning, I made a healthy breakfast for all then we went for an hour winter hike.

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Our reluctant teen who rather have stayed home to spend all day on the PS3

Whenever people hear how often we like to go adventuring outdoors – whether it be hiking, snowshoeing or camping – they share the same sentiment with one another, You guys are setting such an example for your daughter! She is so lucky to live such a rich life!

Not so sure she would agree. I remember in St. Maarten, one of the cruise ports, we explored by feet, sometimes going off the beaten path. She watched in horror as we went further and further away from the port until the vision of the ship became a disappearing small dot in the horizon. The thing is, she is young. But it’s evident Doug and I are more athletic and have more stamina.

I’m sure one day she will look back and really be thankful of what we ‘make’ her do. And even though she’s not as enthusiastic when we’re getting ready for our hike, once she gets going, she does get into her own meditative state. And I can see it relaxing her. Of course, that state seems to disappear as she runs into the door when we arrive back home and before I know it, she’s jibber-jabbing away with one of her friends on Facetime.

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At least our other ‘kid’ is crazy about outdoor adventuring – plus his fur matches the backdrop of the woods

I’m pooped now. The hike took over an hour and after a rest upon returning home (and a nap on the coach), I did some strength training, P90X3 style. My body is feeling it which is why I’m indeed having some Sparking Cave, listening to Sarah McLachlan and was just reading A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding. I’m halfway through and enjoying it very much.

This. This is my ideal way of enjoying a staycation. To work on my body, mind and spirit.

Plus – it will prove for a restful sleep tonight!

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Hobbes the dog will be one pooped dog for sure!

Reading Has Become My Sanctuary

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My temporary mini-library

I haven’t been without a novel since our cruise in November. In fact, I’m now on my 4th read with at least two more books on my list of next reads. Both are on my new Kindle waiting for me. Currently, however, I’m trying to get through some traditional paperbacks I’ve received as gifts or bought for myself in order to decide if they should be kept in our permanent collection or if I should just give them away (we’re doing some sorting and chucking).

I know a lot of people who have read far more than I have in 3 months but for me this is pretty good. I have had to learn to make time for reading, though. Which means giving up more TV time and more screen-time. Neither of which I miss now.  In fact, I feel healthier having cut down those two pleasures altogether.

So long as no one takes away my red wine – or my latest indulgence, dry sparkling wine with strawberries.

Yesterday, I slid out just to get a wonderful pedicure. I was finishing The Girl on the Train while my feet were getting pampered. I was at the final five pages when my toes were receiving some cuticle oil massaged in – the final stage. I was so desperate not to go home yet – to just finish the novel so I could head off feeling content and accomplished!

Yes, I said accomplished. And I won’t take that back – this is, after all, a quest to get myself back on track, to reduce my stress, to allow myself a healthy outlet while rediscovering a joy I use to love doing 20 years ago.

So I walked down to the cafe a few stores away from the spa, ordered a dark roast coffee and slowly went over the words of those last five pages. I drew it out – letting each word travel from my soul to my lips. As if each of those words were delicate and needed to be handled with care. Each word was nourishment for my soul.

I came home and was greeted by my wonderful husband whom I sat to talk with before convincing him to do a 50 minute at-home yoga practice with me. Afterwards,  we finished the sparkling cava that had been chilling in the fridge, paired with organic strawberries, fluffy cream cheese and crackers.

I’m not sure how I could have made my Saturday afternoon better..

Famous encounters

Blonde and beautiful. I don’t mean the manicured type of beauty, either. I’m sure you were wearing make-up but it was pretty light. Either way, it was obvious you didn’t need a lot of make-up to show off your natural gorgeousness. With a kind smile, you passed me the blow-dryer, saying something about how we’ll share. You were with your daughters and I was with my best friend (we were having her bridal shower at one of those ceramic painting places).

You looked familiar. It wasn’t until after you left the people who worked at the ceramic painting place mentioned your name.

What made me remember you most that day wasn’t your beauty, as the magazine and films depict you to be. It was how kind and sweet you were. How down-to-earth you were.

I’m glad I was clueless to how famous you are when I met you that day. I think, seeing how you were spending some quality time with your daughters, you probably preferred being anonymous. And I’m glad we were able to give you that peace and solitude.

~ Back in 2000 when I didn’t realize I was exchanging words with Rebecca De Mornay.

Prosecco, Sparkling Cava, whatever you want to call it…

I sit here with my glass of chilled prosecco, a bowl of chopped organic strawberries (3 pieces which reside in my champagne glass soaking up the lovely bubblies) and wish this moment of time would stretch up for much longer than it will. I also did some gentle, vinyasa yoga. This is what I call living large.

I am reading a friend’s recommendation, Station Eleven.

The writing style is my weakness – and it transcends well with the plot. So I am pleased. I’m such a slow reader. Yet I have suddenly discovered this can be a strength, not a weakness. For when I am entrenched in such a wonderful book capable of taking me on a journey into another world, I’m able to stretch this content feeling for much longer before the inevitable ending.

In two hours, our house will be full of people.

I have learned it’s important for me to find some time of peace and quiet before this living room is filled with chitter-chatter.

Wish me luck.