Trust…

So I have this friend, Heather, who wrote the book Following Daisies who literally followed her heart across Canada, and continues to do so every day. And when I say follows her heart… I mean that pretty seriously. It’s like she has the gift of a sixth sense – trust – combined with insane (compliment!) courage. Plus she has magical socks… which also comes in handy.

After reading her book, my perspectives have definitely been changed.

It’s so easy to get caught up in your PLANS.

“Oh, but I was supposed to accomplish this by this, and I haven’t which means I’m going to have to delay this, and I haven’t even begun to think about this, which now makes that impossible and if that is impossible, then I’M A GOSH DARNED FAILURE!!!”

Look, it’s not like I’ve moved to Northern Ontario and suddenly don’t live in the real world. I get that some plans are good. I get that.

Like planning to have somewhere to live = GOOD PLAN!
Planning on what you’re going to eat = GOOD PLAN!

But sometimes planning too many things with inflexibility combined with heavy expectation will ultimately lead to unnecessary stress, frustration and disappointment = BOOOO! 😦

What’s happened to me recently is that I’ve discovered that just doing my part – my part being listening to my instincts, and setting some key things* in motion and then trusting that things will work out – the plans are kind of taking care of themselves. It’s really weird.

Like, I can seriously sit here and tell you that I have no idea what’s going to happen 3 weeks from now… it could go one of several ways, and the really great part is that none of them will be bad. Because – and I swear I’m not heavily medicated (all the time, haha!) – I trust the process of ‘letting go’

So thank you, Heather!

ps. This is a little list that I came up with that has helped me prepare for the ‘letting go’…

1. Be honest about who you are.
2. Be aware of what you need.
3. Be open to whatever comes next.
4. Be ready.

And to address the pink elephant that’s cartwheeling across the room: Yes, I haven’t been around here much lately. There have been very good reasons for it. None of them you fine folk : )

Maybe I’ll talk about it in a blog post, maybe I won’t. I’m just going with the creative flow lately, letting it take me to where I need to be. I’m totally turning into a hippie. And actually, that’s just fine with me

“Geeves! Fetch me my hemp pants, please! I am late for my appointment with the trees.”

*Key things being applications. Unfortunately reading Following Daisies didn’t make me magical – which, quite frankly I am a little disappointed in as I often wish I could magic away the dishes – so yes, the appropriate paperwork exchange for some opportunities does still have to take place.

~

Mmm… HOLY FUDGE! squares

Yesterday was spent learning about nucleic acid and phospholipids – which, let me tell you, IS FACINATING (in a really tilt-your-head-and-squint-at-it abstract kind of way) – so by the end of the day I was drained and needed some brainless crap for the mind and crap for the stomach.

Crap for the mind was found in the way of Something Borrowed which is a blatant chick-flick based on a very lovely book series by Emily Griffin. Although I LOVED the books, I didn’t have high hopes for the film version since it received a WHOPPING 14% from Rotten Tomatoes and the critics were scathing, at best.

“An intoxicated condition might be the best one in which to watch this terrible movie.” ~ Frank Swietek

Anyways, it was just what I needed… brainless and not challenging in the slightest. (I saved The Tree of Life for a day when I am feeling less intellectually fragile.)

CRAP FOR THE MIND… CHECK!

Crap for the stomach came next. What could I eat that would promise to hold little in the way of nutritional benefit, and lots in the way of you get a contact high from just being in the vicinity while it’s baking???

THIS! Served warm out of the oven, topped with vanilla ice cream… It. Was. Perfect.

Mmm… HOLY FUDGE! squares

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE

HOLY FUDGE! SQUARE

HOLY FUDGE!

HOLY FUDGE! SQUARE

This bag of bits is from the edges… it’s going in the freezer and will likely top ice cream, or be made into an ice cream sandwich in the future : )

CRAP FOR THE STOMACH… CHECK!

Mmm… Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Mmm... Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

These are ridiculous!

And while they technically fall under the category of a ‘healthy choice’ (pure cocoa contain antioxidant compounds called flavanols!!!) if left to my own devices they would surely send me into a coma of chocolate bliss. No, you’re not supposed to eat all the cookies, but it’s difficult because these are possibly my favorite cookie of all time. They’re like a 2-bite BROWNIE… and I am not even kidding.

I love chocolate. Always have. Always will. So when given the option of having my chocolate duplicated or – in this case – triplicated, I am of the opinion that this is a FANTASTIC IDEA. In this case, the third form of chocolate meant that I got to meet a new member of the cocoa family, aka the nib (see photo). When I first saw them I thought, these have got to go in my mouth right this instant.

Cocoa Nib

This was a bad idea.

Cocoa nibs, by themselves, taste like pure evil. Strong. Bitter. Crunchy. & Very VERY unsweet. They are not meant to be eaten alone unless you are made of strong stuff. (I am not.)

However, when added into these marvelous cookies, they add crunch & intensity that bring the chocolate levels to the moon & beyond. Sigh.

Mmm… Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line large baking pan with parchment paper
  2. Beat together the brown sugar, oil, honey, egg & vanilla in a medium bowl using electric beaters until the batter is creamy, about 3 minutes
  3. Beat in the cocoa gently until incorporated and then for a minute longer
  4. Stir together flour, cocoa nibs, chocolate chips, wheat germ & baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the cocoa mixture & blend until well mixed. Batter will be sticky.
  5. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoons onto the parchment-lined baking sheet spreading the cookies at least 1-inch apart. Bake for 8 minutes if you want them chewy, up to 10 if you want them crunchier.

Mmm... SO FREAKIN GOOD!

ps. YES, this is ANOTHER recipe from my Aunt Mairlyn’s cookbook.

Mmm… Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Scone

Mmm... Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Scone

Brief break from my fan-girling of my Aunt Mairlyn, I am instead going to fan-girl about someone named Heidi Swanson.

If you are not in the know – first of all, don’t feel bad… I wasn’t in the know until just very recently – you need to be in the know. And so, I am bringing you into the know and officially introducing you to 101 Cookbooks and the fabulous food blogger/author Heidi Swanson. She is a vegetarian food blogger who makes the most amazing looking & tasting food. She cooks with whole natural foods and shows you with beautiful pictures & descriptive posts that this kind of cooking is anything but boring.

Healthy can be tasty. It can.

Anyways, in case I need to prove this point, I give you Mmm… Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Scone. So good & good for you. Amazing. It’s made with 100% whole wheat flour AND oatmeal, so you are getting the benefits of both. Yes, it contains sugar. Yes, it contains butter. BUT the point is this… it is fibrelicious which is good for you and so let’s just focus on that, shall we.

So I’m not going to type out the recipe. Instead, I am going to direct you to the recipe on her site and let you know that the only thing I changed was dried cranberries instead of currants.

So, in advance… you’re welcome for being introduced to Heidi & her magical website.

Mmm... Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Scone

Mmm… Double-Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

Double Chocolate Pumpking Muffins

Continuing my love affair with my new favorite cookbook Healthy Starts Here, I made these muffins the other day for breakfast. Not only are they incredibly yummy, but they’re so good for you too!!!

I know, right? When has anything ‘double-chocolate’ ever been good for you?

Pssst… it’s the pumpkin!

Anyways, you absolutely need these muffins in your life. SO I am sharing the recipe with you, but just keep in mind. For every one recipe that I share with you, there are like 20 others in the cookbook that you are missing out on. Better go get your copy ASAP.

Skedaddle!

RECIPE: Mmm… Double-Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

Adapted from recipe in Mairlyn Smith’s Healthy Starts Here.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1 omega-3 egg
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the brown sugar, buttermilk, pumpkin, oat bran, & egg in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, flaxseed, cocoa, chocolate chips, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking powder & baking soda in a large bowl.
  4. Add the sugar/pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture & mix until just combined.
  5. Divide evenly into muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, around 20-25 minutes.
  6. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove and then allow to cool completely on wire rack.

Double Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

Mmm… Asian Barley Salad

Amazing Asian Barley Salad

Have you ever read a cook book cover to cover?

Sure, you’ve probably flipped through several, pausing occasionally to fantasize while salivating. But read???

C’mon!

Healthy Starts Here

Well I’ve found the cook book for just that. You remember a couple weeks ago when I previewed Healthy Starts Here, well lemme skip to the point… it’s damn good.

For real. For serious. Go buy it now.

Okay, yes she’s my aunt. Yes, I think she’s fabulous because of that, BUT you should also know that it goes beyond that. The book is both hilarious & healthy. PLUS there are 4 fool proof dinner party menus & action plans. YAY! Dinner parties are so fun!!

Anyways, I’ve made 2 things out of it so far and both are rockstar recipes.

#1. Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies………..
The experience with these was so intense that I forgot to take pictures, but I will next time. Promise.

#2. Mmm…. Asian Barley Salad
adapted from recipe in Mairlyn Smith’s Healthy Starts Here

INGREDIENTS

ASIAN BARLEY SALAD

  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 cup frozen edamame beans, thawed
  • 2 large green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red-skinned peanuts
  • 1 avocado, diced for garnish

PEANUT DRESSING

  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp WASABI
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse barley & cook in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork to separate the grains. Let sit, covered for 10 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Toss together barley, edamame & green onions in a salad bowl.
  3. For the peanut dressing, put all ingredients into a mason jar & shake the shiz out of it.
  4. Pour the dressing over the barley and mix well

WARNING!
The WASABI in this salad will blow the top off your head & clear your sinuses, if you want to reduce the amount to 1 tsp, I’ll understand. Although, I personally found the experience quite exhilarating.

WASABI WILL BLOW YOUR HEAD OFF

Peanut Dressing

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

I’m not exactly a Lady Gaga connaisseur. I like her music, yes, but I haven’t exactly followed her except to join the masses in going, “WTF???” everytime she steps out in one of her ridiculous outfits.

From sunglasses made of hair, dresses made of meat and even entrances made inside eggs, I think it’s safe to say that the unexpected has now become the expected. At this point, weird would be if she showed up dressed in something from Lulu Lemon.

Either way, when my mom asked me if I wanted to go to Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour, there was only one acceptable answer.

“Yes, please.”

And so my dad bought us tickets for our birthdays. YAY B-Mac! Great present!

So how was it?

Well, it was an experience – that is for sure.

Personally, I loved it. I got exactly what I wanted from a Lady Gaga concert. Shock and awe. She pushes the envelope right to the edge and then takes a gattling gun and blows it into smithereens. Her personalities range from petulant child to full-on dominatrix. She yells. She curses. She shoots pyrotechnics out her lady-parts and grabs her crotch when she dances. And yet, she was extremely vulnerable at times and very personal with the audience.

The night started off on a bit of a rough note with her microphone breaking, in addition to three of her costumes. Speaking in halting tones, she declared.

“At least. You know. I’m. Not. Fucking. Lip-syncing.”

Whether or not you agree with her delivery, Lady Gaga’s message of equality for all is something that is sadly still needed in this day and age. Whether or not it was intended, she’s found herself in somewhat of an activist role speaking out for the LGBT community and supporting/fighting for equal rights. With the number recent bullying cases and instances of teenage homelessness related to sexual orientation, I find her message to be refreshing and open-minded – which might be why she’s so darned intent on pushing the envelope, right?

Not entirely original at all, however, her overt sexuality and religious rebellion is VERY reminiscent of Madonna. Even her music is extremely similar to Madonna’s. Dance in the Dark = Vogue. Born This Way = Express Yourself. Even Alejandro = La Isla Bonita (kinda sorta).

BUT Madonna’s not doing it anymore? Nope. She’s off botoxing the shiz out of her face and trying to find the magical cure for aging, and so… enter Lady Gaga.

Today’s Queen of Controversy

Lady Gaga with her Disco Stick

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

lady-gaga-3

Birthday Girls @ Lady Gaga

Intro to the Monster Ball Tour

Video that played during a set changes

Adele Amazingness

adele-21-album-cover

Can I just say that it’s been SO LONG since I’ve loved an album like this one. Like, wake up and crave hearing it. Love that so much.

Sigh.

That is what I’m feeling at the moment about Adele’s new album, 21. Admittedly I’m more than a little behind. The album’s been out since November and she’s been critically acclaimed ever since her first album, 19. BUT the point is I’m here now and oh-so happy to be.

Fave songs: Rolling in the Deep, One and Only, Set Fire to the Rain

Oh what I’d give to be able to belt out a tune like her.

Seriously, I’ve thought about this… a lot.

I’ve been given the creative gifts of visual art. I have senses about what will work and won’t work. Basically, I can make shiz pretty. It’s wonderful and, trust me, I am grateful! And while it’s SO RUDE when you receive something wonderful to turn around to ask, “Ummm… can I please switch it up.” I do feel like if it was possible, that’s what I would do with my creative talent.

“Ummm… can I just sing like Adele instead, please.” is exactly what I’d like to say to thems who hath created me.

How great would it be to get over a bad break-up by writing amazing songs? Never mind to the fact that the music industry is in the toilet… I’d just love to know what it feels like to make a musical sound that doesn’t come out sounding like a squawking crow or shrieking shrew.

Ah well! C’est la vie. You always want what you can’t have, right?

“Pssst. Straight hair, too, please.”

Also, while I’m at it, I might as well ask to be friends with Adele. Check out this video of her on with Chelsea Lately. Isn’t she hilarious?!? SO wanna hang out with her!

2 New Favorite Things

1. O How I Heart My Therm-O!

Aquaovo Therm-O

A Therm-O is this steezy travel mug made by AquaOvo that both double-insulates your beverage AND filters out any loose shiz that may be present in your beverage (ie. loose leaf tea, ice cubes, other shiz…)

Maybe you’re thinking, “GACK! It’s glass! I’ll break it.”

It’s true. It is glass, but it’s very sturdy. I am not a very careful person, by nature not by desire, and I’ve brought it almost everywhere since getting it for Christmas, and – knock on WOOD! – I haven’t broken it yet.

FINGERS CROSSED THAT IT CONTINUES THAT WAY!

AquaOvo designed a sleek glass travel mug to keep your tea hot or cold when you’re on the go. It even comes with a removable, stainless steel strainer for your leaves, and holds up to 500 ml of tea. Since it’s made of double-paned glass, it’s always comfortable to hold, even if you pour boiling water right into it. The cap is BPA-free plastic, with a silicone seal to prevent leakage.
~ DavidsTea

Aquaovo Therm-O with Genmaicha Tea

Aquaovo Therm-O with Genmaicha Tea

Aquaovo Therm-O

2. Mmm… Popcorn Tea

Also known as Genmaicha Green Tea, this is my new beverage of choice. I first tasted it at MHK Sushi and loved it right away. It’s a mild tasting green tea, with a hint of popcorn taste to it that comes from toasted rice.

So how pleased was I when Bridgehead decided to carry it in bulk? VERY!

Pleased because I can now get it as my weekly comp of 100g of tea. Pleased because if it’s sold at Bridgehead it’s obviously fairly traded. And PLEASED at all the health benefits that come from drinking it regularly.

Fairtrade Genmaicha Tea

Aquaovo Therm-O with Genmaicha Tea

Genmaicha Teatails

LUDOVICO EINAUDI :: Divenire

einaudi-divinire-cd

I am musically all over the place. Known for my LOVE of all things Bon Jovi until he went country, it is possible that my music taste is suspect. I’m okay with this. I don’t love music to impress people… because everyone knows that if that was the case I would have to be into the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young & Jimi Hendrix. And quite simply… I am so not (except maybe for Neil Young’s Heart of Gold). The rest of them can be classified under whiny noise – FOR ME! Now maybe for you, they are classified under musical magical royalty.

This is where I find music so interesting. One same song can affect people in totally different ways. It is possibly the best and worst part of being a musician, perhaps.

Anyways, I wanted to preface this post with the caution of it’s possible that I know not of what I speak. I know what I like, but I get it… the Bon Jovi stain might make you flee for cover before taking musical advice from the likes of me and my ilk (new fave word, btw).

HOWEVER

This is quite possibly THE most beautiful CD I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. It was given to my mother by my mother-in-sin. It came with the story of my sweetie as a youngin’ having piano competitions with his little sister to this very pianist. If you are not impressed, you should be. If you are not going “awww…” at the thought of my sweetie as a youngin’, you should be. I have the pictures to prove it.

I’m not going to ruin it with words… just LISTEN TO IT

ps. Does this help explain the Bon Jovi thing?

bon-jovi

Happy sighs!