Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lent 2017: Time to get off the interwebs

I first participated in Lent in 2014. It is not a tradition I was raised with but I think the exercise can be incredibly beneficial when applied correctly. That first year I gave up cheese. It’s no secret that cheese is hands down my favourite food and I like nothing more than some good quality unique cheeses. I did have a caveat and it was that if I was offered free pizza, then I could consume cheese during the 40 days of Lent. That happened twice. I also accidently had it on some salad and once some friends brought a selection of cheese specifically for me to try and I didn’t feel right refusing. I think it’s telling that three years later I can still detail the few times I made exceptions to my goal in that first year. That summer I was in France, the land of 360 cheeses, and I told my boss about my Lenten observations. His response? “Wow! C’est un vrai puisement!” And then we proceeded to may up for my six weeks of cheese-less-ness with two months of amazing cheese.

In 2015 I swore off candy. This included all wrapped candy and chocolate bars and even more significantly, I stopped playing Candy Crush. I don’t really think of myself as a big candy eater but I was amazed at how prevalent it was. I remember that just after Lent started it was Chinese New Year. I worked in the International office at the time and I couldn’t sample all the interesting Chinese candies because of my pledge.

In 2016 I quietly stopped eating potato chips. I say quietly because I never bothered to blog about it and I really didn’t talk about it. Plus people don’t know just how many chips I eat. They’re my go-to stress food, comfort food, reward food. Really everything. I did get through the six weeks without having any though so that was a pretty big deal.

Onto 2017.

I’ve debated for awhile about trying to reduce the time I spend online. It’s hard because Facebook and Instagram are the primary way I stay in touch with friends and family all around the world. Still I know I spend way too much time idly scrolling through a feed that I’ve already been through. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or serendipity that I’m moving into a new home the day Lent starts. In any case it’s a time for new beginnings and for building new habit patterns. Having a place of my own means increased expenses as well and I’ve decided that one expense I don’t need is internet. It’s not to say I won’t be online. I still have data on my phone but I have a pretty small package so I won’t be able to idly scroll through my feeds or check for updates every five seconds. It also means that my newly refound candy crush obsession has to go on hold again. I’m hoping all this new found time will result in a new focus and clarity. Instead of reaching for my phone every time I get the urge to go online, I’ll reach for a book, or better yet my bible. Or I’ll go for a walk. Wish me luck! Detox starts tomorrow!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trucs a Faire

So I realize I haven't posted in this blog for almost a year and I haven't updated my "Trucs a Faire" in two years but I think it's time. I still refer to it and with the new year coming now is a good time to take stock of how far I have come.

So to recap, on February 13, 2006 I posted my list of "Things To Do Before I Die". After watching the movie "Up" multiple times in the summer of 2014 I renamed my list "Trucs a Faire" which is just French for Things to Do. It seems redundant to say "before I die". Obviously I can't do them once I'm dead :P anyway, The bolded items have been accomplished. The orange ones since the last time I published the complete list which was in January 2014.

97 (and counting) Trucs a Faire 

1. Fly first class 
2. Live on my own in my own place 
3. Eat at Sonic 
4. Live in another country...or at least another province 
5. Host dinner party for at least 8

6. Visit an art gallery 
7. Go to Texas 
8. Ride in a hot air balloon
9. Fly in a small aircraft
10. Visit a planetarium

11. Take a winery tour
12. Do high tea somewhere
13. Attend Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
14. See a drive in movie 
15. Get room service and have breakfast in bed at a nice hotel (I've done room service, but not for breakfast)

16. Play blackjack at a casino (I’ve played slots but not blackjack yet)
17. Make homemade ice cream
18. Try ten new foods
19. Go sailing
20. Ride in a limo

21. Be debt free
22. Go horse back riding on the wide open plains
23. Sleep under the stars (without a tent)
24. Fly in a 747
25. Collect all 50 US state quarters (only 3 to go!)

26. Attend my ten year high school reunion 
27. Visit Australia
28. Visit Great Britain 
29. Get a cat
30. Take a cruise 

31. Work an election 
32. Watch all moves on AFI top 100 list
33. Be in Ottawa for Canada Day 
34. Draft a will
35. Spend one weekend totally unplugged. No TV, No Computer, No Phone 

36. Visit the Maritimes 
37. Tour the US Eastern seaboard 
38. Pour water from the Atlantic ocean into the Pacific (still carrying around the water I collected at Peggy's Cove)
39. Fast for 24 hours
40. Be in audience of a game show or talk show and/or try out for a game show or reality show

41. Learn to cook 
42. Cook a turkey
43. Play with a hand bell choir
44. Complete 25 different crossword puzzles
45. Take a Self Defence Class

46. Fire a gun 
47. Host a fondue
48. Take real swimming lessons (learn proper back stoke, kick turn) 
49. Leave to drive a stick shift
50. Try yoga

51. Take a cake decorating class
52. Visit Nashville 
53. Go parachuting
54. Take a refresher First Aid course
55. Sell something on Ebay

56. Try snowboarding
57. Try Golf 
58. Watch the Yankees/Mariners play ball 
59. Drink tequila in Tijuana
60. Go to Disney Land/World

61. Get a bikini wax
62. Buy a new condo (or house) (or town house)
63. Go white water rafting 
64. Climb Mt. Cheam
65. Have a baby (or two, or three)

66. Read through the entire bible 
67. Stay at a bed and breakfast 
68. Go to Las Vegas 
69. Go to Paris in the spring time
70. Learn enough about classical music to be able to identify popular pieces by ear

71. Shop at the Mall of America
72. Visit all five great lakes 
73. Stay overnight in NYC 
74. Go to Boston in the fall 
75. Stay overnight at a Casino

76. Visit the San Diego Zoo
77. Visit Sea World
78. Take a full two weeks off at a time 
79. Go on a blind date
80. See a live horse race and place a bet

81. Visit the Grand Canyon 
82. Take a trip by train (aka travel somewhere on Amtrak) 
83. Do the Vancouver Sun Run 
84. Go to midnight mass 
85. Attend Sunrise Easter Service 

86. Go skinny dipping
87. Visit all 10 Provincial Legislature Buildings. (9 down 1 to go)
88. Buy cowboy boots
89. Go to the Olympics 
90. Fly in a helicopter

91. Go to a NASCAR race
92. Get married
93. Participate in a team sport for a season
94. Sing a solo at church
95. Really try to loose weight/get in better shape

96. Learn another language 
97. Visit Melville's grave in Ortona 

Last time I published this I had 69 Trucs a Faire left. As of this update I've accomplished 38 so I have 59 left. One by one they'll get done!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Confession

So I have a confession. After two months (ish) of “Vegan Mondays” I’ve had a revelation. I don’t care. I don’t care enough to be vegan. There. I’ve said it. I do think animals are made to be eaten. I do think meet is yummy. Heck I even think responsible hunting and fishing is an okay practice and would do it myself if given the chance. What I do care about is industrial farming and other non-sustainable food practices. I also care about the fact that meat is so expensive and that many animal products aren’t particularly healthy but I don’t care enough to stop eating them totally. I think being vegan, or at least vegetarian is great and if it’s for you, all the power to you. I think we can ALL benefit by eating LESS meat but I just don’t see myself not eating any animal products at all. I recently found a post talking about having a “plant based” diet. THAT is me. Plants, grains, legumes, those are the bulk of what I eat. I still like reading about veganism and trying vegan and vegetarian recipes but avoiding all animal products just isn’t for me. I’m still planning on observing Vegan Monday’s at least to some extent. I said at the beginning that I wouldn’t necessarily be militant about it. I have found that I’ve not been doing well with prioritizing blogging about my meals but for the most part I have stayed vegan on Mondays and I will continue that. But I’m also not going to stress if I decide to have something “not approved.” So there’s my confession. Plant based, but not vegan.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Vegan Monday: 1/52

I have a dozen other ideas for blog posts but somehow this is the only thing I'm staying on top of. Hopefully I'll get to the other ones soon.

Verdict for today: planning is everything, and this is getting easier.

Turkish Coffee - black
I almost slipped up and made regular coffee but I remembered before it was too late
Toast with peanut butter and jam

Homemade Butternut Squash soup
I actually made this last week but ended up not eating it so I froze it for today. It was literally roasted squash, a carrot, some onion, garlic, a dash of olive oil and water. Not as spectacular as when I make it with my homemade chicken stock but still warm and filling. One of these days I will make vegetable stock so I have it on hand.

Pom Tango tea from DavidsTea
Hard cinnamon candies
The snacking is definitely the hardest. Especially after Christmas. I have a ton of junk food left over but most of it has milk chocolate or other milk products so I can't eat it. Soon that will all be cleared out and I can really get on track.

Green Onion Cakes
My friend Amanda posted about these last week and I've been looking forward to them for days. They're pretty easy and just something fun to try. I halved the recipe and still have a bunch for breakfast tomorrow. This counts as my "one new thing" too since it was a new recipe!
Salad: greens, yellow pepper, tomatoes, green onions, black beans, navy beans and balsamic vinegar as a dressing.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Vegan Monday: Take two

Being prepared is key. Knowing this was coming made it much easier to plan for and get mentally prepared for. Because I am only doing this one day a week at this point it's just a matter of deciding what I eat today and what I eat tomorrow. Decisions I make all the time, but now with a bit more structure.

Red River Cereal with maple syrup straight off a farm in Waterloo
a naval orange
Turkish coffee - black
I mentioned before that not having milk in my coffee is likely going to be one of the hardest parts of this challenge. However, I received some Turkish coffee from a friend who visits Turkey often so I just planned to drink this instead since it is intended to be drunk black. I'm still working on learning how to make it properly but it definitely gave me the kick I needed!

Two Barley, Wild Rice & Cranberry in a White Tea & Honey Dressing
Leftovers from a last minute purchase for a potluck I attended yesterday. I realize most Vegans don't approve of eating honey but I I figured that was one concession I was willing to make.
1/2 an avacado
a handful of Triscuits
a pickle

Popcorn made with grape seed oil
Brazillionaire black tea from DavidsTea as well as Organic White Tea
In-shell Sunflower seeds

Roasted Veggies using this recipe
Except I used butternut squash, carrots, mushrooms, onions and a few grape tomatoes. Gotta use what's in the fridge!
Vegan Potato Pancakes

So today the vegan thing went really well! I already have some recipes lined up for next week and I also found a restaurant within walking distance of my house. Maybe I'll check it out one of these weeks. Tomorrow though? It's all about the cheese ;)

ETA: I'm aware that aside from the salad at lunch there was a pretty distinct lack of protein in my diet today. That's largely because I wasn't home and able to prepare the dried beans I like to use. I'll definitely focus on remedying that next week.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Vegan Mondays?

I go back and forth on the idea of vegetarianism. I think there are some good reasons to embrace that kind of lifestyle but I like meat. I don't eat a LOT of meat, I am a student after all and meat is expensive. I was reading the (now defunct) blog God, I Love Paris because I read her book this summer and really enjoyed it. She has dabbled in Vegan Mondays and I'm wondering if this might not be something good to try. Vegetarian or Meatless Monday's really isn't an issue. I used to joke that I was more likely to have a "Meaty Monday" because it seemed like it was the one day I'd actually eat meat. But vegan? Once a week? It's worth a try. If only to be more mindful of what I'm actually eating. What I like about Amy's approach is she doesn't beat herself up if she does slip up. She just notes it and moves on. So, if I was to try and implement this for the new year, that gives me two Monday's to practice. Today and next week. Neither are really ideal since I'm going away over Christmas so I'm frantically trying to eat up the leftovers in my fridge, many of which contain meat or meat products, but in the spirit of Amy, I'll just list things and move on. So here's what I've had to eat so far today with the "non-conforming" items bolded:

Pumpkin Breakfast Quinoa (actually vegan since I didn't eat it with yogurt)
Coffee with 2% milk (this will be hands down the hardest switch.)

Brown Rice California Rolls from Trader Joe's (this was kind of a snack while I was shopping in the US and then I had actual lunch when I got home an hour later)
Quinoa Bean Salad (quinoa, black beans, navy beans, yellow peppers, tomatoes and avocado)
Buffalo Chicken Roll-ups (leftovers: chicken, cream cheese and hot sauce in Pillsbury crescent rolls because I saw something similar on Pinterest and the crescents were on sale)
Christmas Cookies (butter and eggs)

Chocolate Chai tea (I'm thinking chocolate disqualifies it?)

Roast chicken (leftovers)
Roasted potatoes
Steamed Carrots
Steamed Brussel Sprouts
Dill Pickles
Cranberry Jelly

So essentially none of my meals were meat/dairy free but I could definitely do it. We'll see how next week goes.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Easter!

Lent seems like it's the longest period of time ever and then suddenly, it's over! This was only my second time participating and it went way better than last year. Let's review what I committed to:
So this year I'm doing candy. All small wrapped hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars, you name it, I'm not eating it. Just cutting out very identifiable sugary sweets. 

And I did! Did I give up sugar entirley? Not by a long shot. I still had dessert every night on the cruise and I still baked at home but I didn't eat ANY hard or soft candy, chocolates, chocolate bars etc. Candy is EVERYWHERE and it was good to be aware of it. It was actually a lot easier to pass up than I thought it would be and a lot easier to avoid than cheese was last year.

I think my biggest accomplishment was giving up Candy Crush. I deleted it off my phone and never looked back. The withdrawl from that was HARD. I ended up surfing Pinterest a lot more than usual initially but after awhile even that went back to normal. I will allow myself to eat candy again but I won't be re-downloading Candy Crush so that's a big accomplishment.

I did start using Instagram a lot more www.instagram.com/agent_713 but it's because I was participating in the rethinkchurch.org's 2015 Lent photo-a-day-words challenge which I have found to be deeply rewarding.

Lent is supposed to be a period of reflection on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and on Easter we celebrate the sweetness of his resurrection. As I re-introduce (limited amounts of) candy, I will savour that sweetness and be reminded of the joy that only he brings.

Happy Easter everyone.