Mystery Box Riddle #63

Creative Ways to Embed Movement Breaks into Your Work From Home Schedule

Before reading on, I want to make it clear that I am very thankful for all of the essential workers who are risking their lives on the front lines, working crazy hours and graciously sacrificing precious time with their loved ones to keep the rest of us safe. I sincerely feel blessed to be able to work safely from my home.

We are now several weeks into school closures and our new system of working from home. As a kindergarten teacher, you can well imagine that I’m always on the move. There’s never a dull moment…just ask anyone who has ever visited a Kindergarten classroom! It seems that on a “slow” day at work, I have no trouble hitting 7500 steps on my Fitbit. 10,000 steps is quite attainable, if I happen to stop at the store, go for a walk at lunch or get a workout in before work….really anything extra outside my regular day generally gets me there. I am shocked at how my Fitbit steps have seemingly fallen right off the map! So, aside from working within the confines of my little home office, let’s not forget that even shopping steps are at a bare minimum with limited trips to the stores these days.

I’m not going to lie…I have been know to say how much I despise working out. Although I’ve done my fair share of programs in the past…P90X, Jillian Michaels, etc., all have been done begrudgingly. I’m just not that person. I love sports and have always tried to get my exercise playing games and doing the things I love. Isn’t that how it is supposed to be. No one ever went to the gym in the olden days!! You just worked, played and stayed active.

However, in this day and age, work for me right now looks a lot like sitting in front of a computer screen for 6 to 10 (sometimes 12) hours a day. There was a steep learning curve…so much to learn, do and juggle. Even as a seasoned teacher with years of experience, I still didn’t feel prepared for this new way of teaching. Despite all of the hard work and long hours, I am finally finding my groove and learning to embrace it.

So, with time to finally take a breath and reflect on this new way of doing life….I’ve made some observations. When I finally crawl in to bed at night after working hard all day, my Fitbit has the audacity to log a whopping 2000-3000 steps! How frustrating! So with my head finally above the surface, I needed a plan. How might I survive this pandemic without breaking the scales and losing every speck of muscle tone I’ve ever had?

Creative Strategies to Get Up, Get Moving & Burn Some Calories

  1. WORKOUT: The first thing I had to do was change my attitude about working out. (This will be a process, but I am working on it. ~ It is my body and I should honour and respect it by taking good care of it.) My negative attitude basically has me fighting against myself. So, that means I had to make some decisions: I will eat well and take action to get mobile. On a good day, I do a 30 minute Jillian Michaels workout (3/2/1) which I must admit I hate and takes every bit of will power I have to complete. I hate cardio…it leaves me winded and sprawled on the mat in desperate need of a nap. (I think that means I need more cardio…ugh.). If I plan to do this workout, I aim for first thing in the morning, because I am incredibly skilled at talking myself out of it. I basically can’t leave any time to think about it or I will opt out. I only manage to do this a few times a week ( I aim for 3 and celebrate if I make it). I know all of you workout junkies are rolling your eyes at my incompetence, but hey…just keepin’ it real!
  2. On the days when I don’t do Jillian, I have committed to doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. I do enjoy doing yoga with Adriene (especially the short classes). So basically, I am doing either Jillian or Adriene everyday. I think I might have had two rockstar days in which I was unstoppable and did both (but if memory serves me correct….I was in bed super early both nights!)
  3. Even with one of the above workouts, I was barely hitting 3000 steps. I found that walking my dog, Hershey, really helped to bump them up. Although, we generally take turns walking Hershey, it makes sense for me to take on this responsibility and kill two birds with one stone. I’ve found a route that is about 3 km long, as well as a few shorter routes that I can do just to stretch my legs and take a little break. Even if I don’t have time to do the longer walk, it’s easy to fit in one of the shorter walks to help increase my steps.
  4. Last week, I had to pop into the school, so I asked if I could borrow a skipping rope and a hula hoop. I tried the hula hoop (in the privacy of my own home, of course) and that was a bit of a disaster. The only workout I was really getting was bending over to pick up the hoop that kept falling! Not. A. Pretty. Sight. I am determined to make a least 5 twirls without it falling, before this work from home thing is over. In the mean time, it is great for practising squats.
  5. Jump Rope ~ Unlike the hoop, I was able to pick-up the skipping pretty quickly (despite being many years since I’ve done it). My jump rope plan was simple…..every single time that Hershey (my dog) wants to go outside during the day….I do 100 jumps with the rope. (Okay…mostly 50, pause, 50, but I am getting better!) I have done 100 a few times, but usually by the time I get 75 I can barely clear the rope and it gets caught on my feet. Either way, without or without mistakes/breaks, I do 100 jumps every time. This doesn’t give me much more than a few hundred steps, but the panting and sweat tell me it is still good for me, so I’ll keep at it. I leave the rope on the back door handle, as a vivid reminder of my promise to get active.
  6. Stop Yelling (it’s not very polite anyway). Our teenagers sleep on the second story of our home and I’m notorious for yelling at them from the bottom of the stairs…whether it be to wake them up, come down or call them for dinner. I decided to try my very best to stop doing that and make the climb each and every time I need them for something. This actually makes quite a difference. Stairs really do help and I find that with our main floor laundry, I sure don’t get the same steps I used to.
  7. We have an elliptical in the basement that I use periodically (that means not so much). One of my strategies is to do “one song” on my playlist a few times a day. It gets me down to the basement (that’s stairs!) and the movement break helps to energize me for another couple of hours. I’m finding that the little short spurts of exercise are quite enjoyable and fun! (Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but they are certainly more tolerable for a person who’s still learning to embrace workouts with a positive attitude.)
  8. Just Dance: Some times I stand at my computer screen…blast some music and bust a move. I usually only last one song because it is not the easiest way to get work done, but it is fun and gives my family yet another reason to laugh at me (or roll their eyes, depending).
  9. House Cleaning: Again, ask me to paint, do a DYI project, refinish a piece of furniture…I’m in. House cleaning I do because it has got to get done. Whenever possible I try to make it a family affair to spread the “joy of cleaning”. However, in these crazy times, I have found a certain amount of peace and thankfulness in the mundane activities that help to keep a house in order. I will often put on my headphone or blast the music and find that it feeds my spirit as I go about the business of caring for our home. The bonus that I never really took the time to notice before is that it’s a great way to stay active. Vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, mopping and even cleaning out a cupboard can slowly but steadily add to your daily step count.

I can’t say that I am reaching the steps I used to when I was in the classroom, but I am definitely more aware of how much I am sitting and the need to consciously incorporate movement breaks into my day. I hope that you might be inspired to think outside of the box and find your own creative ways to stay healthy and active.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you are keeping mobile during this time when so many are bound to home. Leave your comments below!

Peanut Butter/Butterscotch Chow Mein Cookies

I have been making quite a few salads during the pandemic and for something different, I decided to make that Oriental Cabbage Salad that was a “thing” several years ago. You know the one with Mr. Noodles, cabbage, chow mein noodles, etc. Anyway, the only chow mein noodles I could find came in this huge bag which I bought. However, I was wondering how I might use the left over noodles before the expiration date on the bag. Chow mein noodles is not something I regularly use so I really couldn’t think of what to do with them, but suddenly I remembered this recipe I got from a classmate when I was in elementary school….thanks Kathryn! I think I have only ever made them one other time many years ago, but every once in a while I come across the recipe. I actually have no idea what they are called…my recipe says “Kathryn’s Cookies”. (Funny thing is I actually have another completely different recipes titled “Kathryn’s Cookies” as well, but from a different Kathryn – that’s weird I think?!)

So, if you’re like me, one of my absolute favourite treats is the Peanut Butter Marshmallow Square that is often found on a platter of dainties. I love that! This recipe is basically the cookie version with chow mein noodles added for a bit of extra crunch. These are super easy to make, but unlike some treats, you probably won’t have the ingredients on hand.

Kathryn’s Peanut Butter/Butterscotch Chow Mein Cookies

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 package butterscotch chips
  • 1 can of chow mein noodles (These are dry noodles and I could only find them in a bag. In the “olden days”, they came in a can. No idea the exact size but I googled it and apparently there is a 5 oz size can. I put in 2 cups and ended up adding approximately another 1/2 cup) You probably can’t really mess this up, you just want them to be coated.
  • 2 cups of miniature marshmallows

Melt the peanut butter and butterscotch chips. I have a setting on my microwave, but you could also use a double-boiler. Stir often. Once melted, fold in the marshmallows and noodles. Drop by spoonfuls onto a wax paper lined tray and place in fridge to set. Nutritional value – zero! But so easy and yummy!

Modern Day Miracles: My Testimony

Some Back Story:

Although I grew up in a Christian home and always believed in God, it wasn’t until the last few years that my spiritual journey really began. I remember Oprah saying that turning 50 was a real game changer in her life. I think you reach a stage when you don’t have the energy or interest in doing things just to keep up appearances…you just become more authentic, accept who you are ….the good, the bad and the ugly. You simply become more unapologetically yourself. I have always been a super reflective person and spend most of my time inside my own head. However, for me this spiritual awakening was not so much about my age as my circumstances.

My Belief:

First and foremost, my underlying belief is this: God is a GOOD God all the time. He does not bring sickness, misfortune, bad luck or death. We live in a world in which bad things happen as a result of Adam & Eve’s decision in the garden. What I do believe is that when bad things happen and we are forced to walk through the storms in life, God can and will use these situations to draw us closer to him. He never brings on misfortune, but he is faithful to bring beauty from the pile of ashes we find ourselves in.

A Place of FEAR:

Our daughter went through a very tough time in grade 7 and 8. Without going into much detail, the circumstances got pretty bad and she was eventually diagnosed with severe depression and an anxiety disorder. She went from Principal’s Honor Roll for over 90% averages to scraping by with 51% in math and science courses. I share this only because when you see your child spiral, distance herself from you and the world in general, you begin to parent from a totally different place ~ FEAR! Fear of losing her, fear of failure, fear of doing/saying the wrong thing, fear of doing too much, fear of not doing enough, fear of being a bad parent, fear of the future, fear that she’ll never get better, fear of bad friend choices, fear of bad life choices, literally fear of everything. This is where I found myself.

I can’t actually explain the strain this put on me and my family. I read books on mental health and parenting. I listened to pod casts and took courses. I spent endless hours and dollars trying to figure it all out. As a mom, that’s what we do. We fix things. I was on a mission and when I’m on a mission, I really lock on. Some how in my mind, I was her only chance. I had to fight for her because she didn’t have the will or energy to fight for herself. It is the most horrible place to be as a parent.

What could possibly be worse than this? Doing anything and everything you can and literally getting no where. The harder I tried, the worse the situation got. She hated life and me even more. Everything I was doing was out of my deep unwavering love for her, but there came a point when my efforts seemed futile, our relationship was a disaster and the tension in our home was almost unbearable. In all honesty, there were times I felt like I didn’t have an ounce of stamina left, I had given everything I had to help this child I loved so much and my payoff was being hated and resented. I just wanted out. Walk. Away. I was completely at the end of myself.

Now, being a person of strong faith, I did my fair share of praying and begging during this time, but it really wasn’t until I was in a place of utter hopelessness that I truly surrendered the situation to God. I was desperate to find answers. I was just so weary and it was in this place of vulnerability that I was finally ready to hand it over to God. Our pastors had been teaching on what a true spiritual fast was all about. The ins and outs, the hows and whys…I knew in my spirit that I needed to fast for Eden and do nothing else but seek God through my fast and that is exactly what I did. I did a 3 day food fast, but more importantly than giving up the food, I committed my fasting time to seeking God. This was really something quite foreign to me and I honestly didn’t really know what I was doing so I surrendered that to him as well.

My Experience with a Spiritual Fast:

Friday, I went to work as usual. Listen to a teaching (past sermon) from my church’s app (The Source Church). On the way home, I listened to another message and watched the Jets game with my husband. My search was set to begin on the Saturday. That morning I got up and said a short prayer asking God to show me how to help Eden, to open my eyes of understanding and guide me into truth. I then proceeded to read from my little devotional book that I used every day. However, what made this day different was that as I read my 5 minute devotional something in the words jumped out at me like never before. I really felt that the Holy Spirit was leading me. I decided to look up the scripture the devotion was referencing and what followed was the most amazing treasure hunt I’d ever been on. Through the words in the bible, God spoke to my spirit leading me from one place to another. Reminding me of things I’d previously read or watched and as I followed, I began to find answers and revelation. This process lasted throughout the weekend and well into the following week when I was finished my fast and back to work. I would turn on the radio (Sirius XM: The Message) or my Spotify playlist and the words in the song would confirm the overwhelming message that he had given me throughout the process, but each new “clue” strengthened the message and my understanding of what he was trying to tell me.

Let me tell you…I was in for a rude awakening! The message was so loud and clear. One of the first places he took me was to the love chapter 1 Corinthians 13. I knew this chapter well, but when I read it on this day I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Here is how it translated for me in that moment:

Without LOVE you are nothing. All your striving and good intentions are driving your daughter away. What YOU perceive as help, she receives as not measuring up. GOD’S MESSAGE WAS CLEAR. Her status and accomplishments do not and will never impact my love for her. Just like God loves us unconditionally, I knew I would LOVE her no matter what… if she passed or failed, became a doctor or worked at Walmart. It simply didn’t matter. All that mattered was that SHE KNEW she was LOVED and VALUED just as she was.

I had perceived all of my efforts to be acts of love and support, but they were really giving her the message that nothing she did was ever good enough. I didn’t trust her. Every time I “checked-in” or offered suggestions, it cut away at her spirit. OUCH! Needless to say I was brought to my knees, literally crippled by my new revelation and understanding. Everything I did, I did out of love and with the best intentions, but the way it was being received was giving the opposite message to my daughter. I don’t think I have ever wept as much as I did that week. I repented to God, my daughter, my family…I was just so off base. It sickened me to the core just knowing how deceived I’d been. My best intentions totally backfiring. How could I have missed the mark so badly? I remember one of the final messages I received from God during that week came through a random song I was listening to on the way to work. This is what God said to me:

I do not mess up. EVER. I have created her in my likeness and image. Who do you even think you are to try to fix MY MASTERPIECE?

I apologized to my daughter and asked for her forgiveness. Then I LOVED on her like never before. Right where she was at. The answer I so desperately sought through books, courses, videos, etc. was that simple: JUST LOVE HER. For the first time in over 3 years, I finally got it….She does not need to be fixed, she’s already perfect. NOT. BROKEN.

I was so convicted in my spirit. Talk about knocking me down a few pegs. It still brings tears to my eyes even though it was a year ago (last January) when we were still in the midst of this fiery battle with depression and anxiety. Let me tell you it almost tore our house down, but God’s grace is always enough. He was there the whole time, he just needed me to seek Him, His answers and His way. When I totally surrendered the situation to him and sought Him first….it was like the mountain moved. I could sense something change instantly in my daughter that day when I sobbed uncontrollably and apologized for all my mistakes in dealing with the situation.

We began to see positive changes almost instantly and by May she declared that she no longer had depression. By September she was off her medication and today is completely happy and fully healed. The healing and freedom was there the whole time. I truly believe that I was in the way. There was a time not much more than a year ago, that I really couldn’t see through the mess. I wanted to believe she would be well, but everything was hard. I share this today because GOD is in the business of making miracles happen. The trouble is that it is often based on our capacity to believe. We limit him with our own unbelief.

A Time to Give Thanks and Celebrate!

Yesterday, we celebrated Eden’s 18th birthday! She is a beautiful young woman both inside and out. She is compassionate, kind, generous and is going to accomplish great things in life. She was robbed of her adolescence and her life was sidetracked for almost 4 years, but we believe God has brought complete restoration for her. She has an awesome group of friends and is in a great school. She is engaged in all life has to offer and together we rejoice in this miracle. His promises are always Yes and Amen!

Seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be added unto you. My mantra….Trust the signature! For what he says is true.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)

Reflect and Re-Set for 2020

In all honesty, by the time Christmas arrived this year, I’d hit a wall. These past few months have been super busy as I pushed through my first Christmas season with my new youtube channel and did all the normal preparations for Christmas. My house was a disaster and I wasn’t as ready for our big Ukrainian Christmas Eve meal, as I usually am. In fact, Tim and I were still pinching perogies on Christmas Eve! When the dust settled, I knew that what I really needed during this holiday season was some time to relax, reflect and recuperate from the crazy hours I’d been pulling since mid November. When I finally slowed down and began to take stock of 2019, I was blown away by all the blessings!

When life is busy, it is so easy to lose sight of all that we have to be thankful for. It seems that the obstacles in life are what garner the most attention. When we zoom in on the challenges and storms we are going through, there is no room in the lens for all of the blessings.

I’m all for New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting, but I encourage you to stop and reflect on 2019 before forging ahead into 2020. Like me, you might be surprised at all the great things that happened in 2019.

So Thankful!

I know for sure that there are so many more blessings, but here is the list I came up with this morning! You’ll notice that some are big and some are little or at least seemingly less significant things, but I can assure you together they make me feel super thankful!

  • December 2019/January 2020 ~ We renovated our upstairs landing so the kids would have a place to hang out with their friends. Our prayers were answered and our house became the place to be! On any given night we might have up to 10 teenagers over. Love having them here! So blessed that the kids have such awesome friends and that they choose to be here. So nice to know they’re safe!
  • January 2019 ~ I had a huge personal/spiritual revelation that I believe eventually led to my daughter’s healing
  • Shelmerdine’s Shopping Spree ~ First time clothes shopping there. Went with $50 gift card and spent $52 of my own ~ walked away with over $500 in clothes! I love great deals.
  • March 2019 ~ Discovered Pastor Gary Keesee and his Faith Life Church app which has totally transformed the way I think.
  • April 2019 ~ trip to Mexico with free upgrade to massive 2 bedroom suite with a panoramic balcony with a private jacuzzi (rents for $750/night) Wowza! It was incredible!
  • May 2019 ~ After approximately 30 years on night shift, Tim got a permanent day position. He now works three 12 hours shifts per week and no lost time for sleep recovery! It’s awesome!
  • May 2019 ~ Eden proclaimed that she was depression free for the first time in 3 1/2 years
  • June 2019 ~ Got last minute Carrie Underwood tickets – 2 tickets for under $100 – 6th row centre stage ~ Amazing show!
  • Summer 2019 ~ 3 girlfriends and I decided to set-up a weekly pickleball game throughout the summer. We have been friends for many years, but would often only see each other once or twice a year. Our games are full of flubs and lots of laughter. I’m so thankful for my pickleball gals and all the fun!
  • Home Outfitters ~ dropped in to see if there were any great deals on housewares as they were going out of business. Shocked to find clothes and shoes as well. Got over $700 of shoes, boots and clothes for $87….score!
  • September 2019 ~ Having an amazing year at school. One of the nicest groups of students and parents in my career and an incredible student teacher as well!
  • September 2019 ~ Eden is medication free and completely symptom free! Yay!!
  • Eden changed schools for grade 12. Scary decision, but for the first time since grade 6….she loves school and has made so many great friends there!
  • My dad is over 80 and has hardly been sick a day in his life. In December he became quite ill with a UTI. It was so hard to see him sick. I am so thankful that his spark is back and he feeling so much better.
  • December 2020 ~ Shay and I upgraded our phones and were forced to give up our total internet plan ~ to our amazement….we are going to save over $50/month! There was a pretty incredible deal if I were to change #’s. I wasn’t keen, but it was about $500 worth of savings so I went for it. I had asked for a number that would have the same last 4 digits as my current #, but it wasn’t available. I was disappointed and picked another. Got home and was having issues with the new number. Evidently it was some how still in circulation (a problem the phone company could not even explain). They said they’d have to give me another number. This wasn’t a big deal because I had only given it to one friend and my immediate family. The one and only number they offered….had the last four digits that I originally requested but was denied. Yay! May seem insignificant but not to me!!
  • Feeling so blessed with awesome kids, a great husband and incredible friends old and new.
  • The Source Church Ministry, Pastors and of course our church family.

You may be asking how I remember all this stuff. Well, I must confess, I literally count my blessings! I keep track because when times are tough and I’m up against something difficult, I can always reflect on all that God has done for me and know that he is and always will be there. Some may call it coincidence and that’s fine, but I know he’s behind the scenes working on my behalf. You can’t make this stuff up!

What I know is this, the bible says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and all good things will be added unto you”. (Matthew 6:33) .  

Sometimes life throws you curve balls. It’s what you do in those situations that makes the difference. Over the past 3 1/2 years, we have seen our share of difficult times, especially as we navigated the stress of Eden’s depression. However, it was during this battle that I finally came to the end of myself, my abilities and my endless striving to figure it all out. It is in this place of desperation that I sought help. When I looked for help beyond myself, I not only found answers, but peace and great favour. I’m truly a work in progress and constantly have to realign and re-set, as it is so easy to fall back into my old habits, but when I truly seek first to know God, his kingdom, his heart and how he operates….life is better! So. Much. Better.

Re-Set for 2020!

Keep it Simple: Daily Routines are Key

As we head into 2020, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. I believe that 2020 is going to be the best year yet. As I set my own goals for the coming year, I can’t help but think about how so much in life is about the little things. It is the little daily habits that make all the difference. Some days I don’t have more than 5 or 10 minutes for devotions/meditation, but that simple daily habit has the potential to totally change my focus, expectations, motivation and energy for the day. On the days when I’m not as pressed for time, I can sometimes spend the first few hours just re-charging my spirit. There is no better way to start your day. I’m not always faithful, but daily Yoga is another game changer for me. Even if I can only squeeze in 15 minutes…I feel so much better. If I have to make dinner, I can choose to make salad or pasta. It really comes down to a simple choice. I still have to put in the effort either way. I have so many different salad recipes, I can honestly say that nothing beats a great salad in my books. Remember, it’s the little decisions we make and our ability to discipline ourselves to stick to our daily routines. Just take one day at a time.

Goals:

Lofty goals can be overwhelming and end in aborted missions. Your goals have to stretch you, but make them achievable too. When I started my Youtube channel BOWhemian WRAPsody, it was super overwhelming. I absolutely hate having my picture taken, let alone be on video. In fact, this is so far out of my comfort zone, I truly believe it was a God inspired idea. Not only was it a stretch for me to be on video, but also difficult because I had absolutely no idea how to tape, edit, publish or market my channel. I knew my fear could stop me in my tracks, so I had to set very specific, measurable goals that were achievable. Starting something new is often the hardest part. Everyone has good ideas and concepts, it’s the follow through that is hard. My initial goal was to publish 60 videos in my first year. I figured that was a little more than one per week. It was still a scary commitment, but I knew it was achievable too. I launched my first video in June and published 55 before the end of 2019, obviously far exceeding my initial goal. The key is to not give up before you truly get started. Don’t make your goals too hard to achieve.

Multi-Tasking:

For me, multi-tasking is key. I have a 35+ minute drive to work. Instead of listening to the radio, I capitalize on the time by listening to apps and podcasts that feed my spirit and attitude. Look at your list of goals and aspirations and try to figure out how to get the best results for your efforts! In 2020, I’m determined to end my struggle with digestive issues and sleepless nights. In addition, I would like to drop a few pounds. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that daily exercise would have a positive impact on all three. If I listen to something uplifting while exercising, I would actually be working on 4 goals at once! Here is the key….I don’t make the goal so crazy that I give up before I ever start. Make it achievable. I know I can 100% totally commit to 15 minutes per day. On days I have the time and energy, I will obviously do more, but I function better on a successful track record. If I were to say I’ll do 45 minutes/day and miss a day or 2, I’ll feel defeated and am apt to throw in the towel. I look at it this way. 15 minutes is nothing really. In fact, probably not enough to make much difference, but if I am not doing anything right now that is 15 times as much as my current activity level…that seems pretty fantastic! Don’t compare yourself to others. 15 minutes might seem comical to someone who sets working out as a priority and dedicates significant time to their exercise program. That is not me. I hate working out. Period. I’m not going to lie. I love activity ~ volleyball, pickleball, tennis, bike riding, etc. but I do not like exercising for the sake of exercising. Yoga might be the exception. I really do enjoy Yoga.

Summary

Your goals are your goals. No one else’s. If you want to succeed, make goals that stretch you, but don’t break your spirit when you fail to live up to standards that are beyond your capacity. Make them achievable. Invest time in devising a daily routine that you can stick to. It is the simple daily habits that make all the difference when it comes to making lasting changes. Figure out ways to multi-task to capitalize on your time, energy and efforts. Many of the little things we do, can serve more than one goal.

Positive results aren’t about luck. It’s about forward thinking, planning and of course, execution. You’ve got this! Make the right choice right now, in this moment. Keep it simple and go for it! Happy 2020!

It’s a Red Plate Kinda Day!

I want to dedicate this post to our daughter Eden! She has really had to fight through a lot of crap during the past 5 years, but her perseverance and stamina to push through and never give up are truly admirable. She has been completely depression free since May! Her spark and confidence have returned and she is ready to take on the world.

The Red Plate

The Red Plate is the perfect way to acknowledge a family member’s special triumphs…celebrate a birthday…praise a job well done…reward a goal achieved…or simply say “You Are Special Today.” When the Red Plate is used, any meal becomes a celebration honoring that special person, event or deed. We encourage those who purchase a plate or celebrate this tradition to share YOUR story.

Red Plate Store

We received our red plate as a gift from a friend several years ago. The cool thing about the plate is that it comes with a special permanent marker that you use to record the “event” on the back of the plate. It is so fun to look back and remember all of the occasions in which the red plate was used. I had actually forgot about ours for a while, but came across it when going through my china cabinet this summer. I think it is a super cool idea and makes a wonderful gift! The plates are available through the Red Plate Store and Amazon.

What Made Today a Red Plate Day?

I got up this morning to take Eden for a bit of last minute practise before attempting her 5th road test. The first time she went she was super nervous and made it through the parallel parking and most of the test. She was basically on her way back and made a “critical error” which resulted in an immediate fail. Of course, she was disappointed and this seemed to compound her anxiety for future tests. On her second attempt, she had an almost immediate fail for a critical error before she even made it to the parking test! That was the end of the critical errors, but the third time she didn’t pass the parrallel parking and the fourth she had too many points deducted. Each time she left feeling disappointed, but we tried to encourage her and tell her how important it was to be ready for the road.

To me road tests are like swimming lessons …..please whatever you do, DO NOT pass my child if they are not ready. I was always amazed at parents who would complain when their child had to repeat a swimming level, especially when they were small and in the beginner levels. For me swimming was not an activity, it was a LIFE SKILL! My kids were forced to take lessons whether they wanted to or not. I didn’t want them to ever be in a situation where they couldn’t save themselves or help someone else because they didn’t have this basic life skill. It struck me as so odd, when one particular instructor took the time to explain every detail of the swimming report and why one of the kids hadn’t passed. I politely stopped him and thanked him for holding them back. It was comical because he couldn’t let it go, he kept trying to justify his decision. I told him I completely supported his judgement and that I would never want them to move on if they weren’t ready. He told me he’d never encountered that before as most parents argue, trying to get their child the “badge” they haven’t yet earned. I was literally dumbfounded.

The same is of course true with driving. I’m not sure about you, but I wouldn’t want my daughter on the road behind the wheel of a car, if she were not qualified or ready. Why would any parent? I always prayed with her for a pass, but was so thankful for each failed attempt, knowing that it gave her more time to grow, mature and gain confidence. I strongly believe checks and balances are a blessing! I knew that she’d pass when she was ready and was quite confident today would be the day. She has healed so much in the past few months and she went in knowing in her own heart that she was ready.

Getting your driver’s licence is one of those milestones that mark a turning point in one’s adolescence, but I didn’t bring out the red plate because she finally passed! Today was a Red Plate Kinda Day because the true measure of success is when a person is willing to put themselves out there over and over again, failing as many times as it takes to finally reach their goal! For me, today represented so much more that finally getting her driver’s licence. Today we celebrated her resilience, her willingness to never give up, her perseverance and understanding that all things work out for good, for those who believe and never give up. One can only truly fail, if they stop trying or never take the risk to try in the first place.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Way to go Eden, so proud of you!

*This post was written on Saturday, September 7th, but I just got my kiddo’s stamp of approval to post it publicly.

Skip It! #4

skipping rope for ribbon

This is the final video in my Skip It! series. In this video tutorial, I use a classic skipping rope in lieu of both the ribbon and the bow! The handles are left on the rope and add extra interest to the finished gift. This particular idea would work best on a children’s gift, as the skipping rope becomes part of the present itself. This look is definitely fun! The bright colours, thread of sparkle in the rope and extra interest of the wired garland certainly would catch the eye of any little girl!

Check out my latest video tutorial on how to create this look!

Paleo Morning Glory Muffins

Paleo Morning Glory Muffins
Grain free, sugar free, moist and delicious!

Over the past couple of years, I’ve found that I feel the best when I avoid grains. Period. I do not have an official diagnoses of any kind, but avoiding grains has really helped me reduce unexplainable aches and pains, as well as brain fog and water retention. In addition, I found that it was also key to shedding those last few pounds that seem impossible to penetrate on the scale. Sticking to a grain free diet isn’t easy, I’m not going to lie, but when you are battling health issues, is seems like a no brainer. Although I try not to let old habits sneak back in, I believe that a little cheat now and then is totally acceptable. The key to my success is often directly related to discovering a few go-to foods that work specifically for me. I’ve collected a few recipes that are both tasty and quick to crab when the cravings come knocking. One of my absolute favourites is this muffin recipe. I almost always have them frozen in my fridge freezer for easy access and a quick snack to grab and go. I generally pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds and smother it in butter…yum!! Although I try my best to avoid grains, I am big on fats and never shy away from butter and high fat cream in my coffee! These are hands-down my favourite muffins, but I should preface that by saying that I try not to eat too much sugar either, so some may find they lack sweetness. My palate has adjusted to minimal sugar in my diet, so I don’t find them bland at all. I have tried many recipes for “healthy muffins”, but I always return to this go-to recipe that was passed on to me by a friend at work. They are 100% guilt free, filling and super yummy!

Paleo Morning Glory Muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 large apple (peeled, cored and grated)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 T. melted honey
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 cup chopped dates/prunes (or raisins, if you prefer)
  • *Orange zest (optional)
  1. Grease the muffin tins. (I always cut small squares of parchment paper that are about 1 ¼” to fit right in the bottom of my pan. My mom always did this and the muffins come out beautifully. I peel the little papers off before serving or freezing.)
  2. Combine dry ingredients and mix.
  3. Add carrot, apple, coconut and dates/prunes. Combine well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, honey, oil and vanilla together.
  5. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix well. It will be very thick and appear almost too dry.
  6. Spoon into muffin pan and gently pat each muffin down (it’s thick enough to do this). Bake 25 to 35 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean.)
  7. Cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a rack.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

*2 T. of honey is not much sweetener as compared to a regular recipe, but I will often lessen the amount. Once you eliminate sugar from your diet, it is surprising how quickly your palette adjusts to needing/wanting less sweetness.

*The original recipe calls for raisins, but I much prefer dates/prunes.

*I will often use a date based sweetener in lieu of the honey. See below:

Place 6 dates and 3 T. of the water in a microwave safe dish and heat for 30 seconds. Remove and use a fork to mash the dates. Add a 4th T. of water and heat another 30 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth.

Be sure to let me know if you decide to try these out. I’d love to hear how you like them. You may be like me and they become a new staple in your freezer!

    

Puppy LOVE!

HersheyThe holidays are flying by, but luckily we still have one month to go! Summer is generally the time that I plough through my giant list of things to do, but not this year…..July has been spent training and caring for our new puppy!

After approximately 4 years of debating the pros and cons of getting a dog…we finally did it and couldn’t be happier! Tim and I always wanted a dog and of course the kids have been begging us for years, but the truth is we were terrified of the commitment. Although our kids insisted they would take care of a dog, their track record with past pets (fish, toad, crayfish- yuck!!) would state otherwise. I believed they’d help out, but the reality was… it would be Tim and I taking on the responsibility. We knew that we didn’t want to be dog owners that don’t walk their dog or leave him/her kennelled for hours on end. I finally decided I was ready and it was time…we needed some positive energy in our home and what better way to bring that in, than with the joy and excitement of a new puppy! Tim was still hesitant, but left the final decision up to me. The kids and I went to meet the one remaining puppy from the litter and absolutely fell in love. I must say, I NEVER in a million years could have anticipated falling in love with a dog. I am now officially a dog person! I could never understand when someone said they had to get home to the dog or spent oodles of cash on vet bills and yet, here we are obsessed with the health and well being of our precious Morkie-Poo ~ “Hershey”! Although there are times, when I feel tied down by the commitment (especially now when we are still training him), 95% of the time, I am thrilled to take him for a walk, play with him or just cuddle. My shortfall is easily consumed with the abounding  love and affection of Tim and the kids!

I honestly can’t believe what he has brought to our family. He is calming, funny, affectionate, playful and a smile maker! There is plenty of research supporting the positive impact of owning a dog on both physical and mental health. Owning a dog can reduce stress, cholesterol, high blood pressure, risk of cardiovascular disease and help relieve depression and anxiety. There is also evidence stating that infants that are exposed to dogs develop stronger immune systems and are less prone to allergies. If you’ve been tossing around the idea of getting a dog, check out these two articles to learn more about what a dog can bring to your home…. extending far beyond the love and companionship you’d expect.

We chose to go with a smaller breed and one that was non-shedding, as I knew the dog hair would drive me crazy. We definitely consider “Hershey” when planning any outing, but know that this will be less restricting once he is trained and can be left alone for longer periods of time. We chose to kennel train him and that has been wonderful. His kennel is his safe place and it helps us to keep track of him throughout the day/night when he’s sleeping. This also helps to make bathroom training easier as he always “needs to go” after a nap. The “cons” list seems to have dwindled in our eyes, but those things that remain would really be limited to the occasional inconvenience when you need to be out or are trying to tackle a big project and would prefer not to be interrupted with “puppy business”, as well as the financial expenses associated with owing a dog (food, toys, kennel, bed, blankets, treats, leash, collar, vet bills, etc.). The bottom line is that “it is all worth it!”  Tim and I took a long time to make our decision and most of our concerns were “logically based”, but you can’t possibly calculate in the positive emotional impact that a puppy has on your family life. It is so much more than a point on your “pros” list ~ a puppy literally has the power to change the dynamics and relationships within a family. Hershey brings joy to our home everyday! This positive energy is created by observing and interacting with him, as well as sharing in the stories told by other family members experiences. You have new topics for conversation, share many “ooh’s”, “aww’s” and laughs and have far less time to focus on the issues of life.  For us, it feels like it has allowed us to take our eyes off that which can sometimes drag you down, and instead direct your focus on the fun and playful nature of a new puppy.

Getting a puppy was truly life changing for our family and the best decision we ever made! If you are sitting on the fence and like us are having trouble making the commitment ~ take the plunge and just do it! I promise any compromises will be worth it!

Yummy Chia Seed Breakfast Porridge

Chia Seed Breakfast PorridgeI’ve struggled with digestive issues for most of my adult life.  As I’ve gotten older, it seems like a constant battle just to maintain some sort of regularity. I am always assessing what works and what doesn’t and analyzing the variables that may have contributed to my frequent states of constipation. It is very frustrating (and uncomfortable) to say the least! I do take supplements when desperate, but prefer to try and manage through diet and exercise. Sometimes I feel like my whole life revolves around choosing foods that “work” and I’m embarrassed to say that “poop talks” now seem like normal conversation.

Over the years, I have tried many different foods, supplements and diets to help me stay regular and although I have found success at various times in my life, it always seems to evolve into a routine that only works temporarily. In the past, Fibre 1 cereal was always my “go to” breakfast because my digestive system seemed to really like it. I would double-up on the recommended serving size and consume my entire daily fibre goal in one shot. Although I still enjoy it, I found that over time, it became less effective.

I recently tried a simple recipe recommended to me by a friend. I have never been much of a porridge lover, mostly because I’m fussy when it comes to certain textures.  For me, porridge had to be prepared just right in order for it not to trigger my gag reflex. So, when my friend suggested I try eating chia seeds for breakfast in a porridge-like recipe, I was skeptical. In fact, it took me at least a year before I actually gave it a try. Feeling desperate to get my digestive system back on track, I decided to test her recipe out and was surprised that I enjoyed it! The texture hasn’t bothered me and I really do think it has been instrumental in helping me to become more regular once again. It is the perfect way to start your day as it is not only high in fibre, but also a great source or protein.

Chia is the new nutrition powerhouse on the block! It’s 100% gluten free, and high in omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants, too.It’s a great addition to any diet for the health benefits, but particularly helpful in gluten free and vegan baking as a both binder and as an egg substitute. (Harris Whole Health)

Chia Seed Breakfast Porridge

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • cinnamon to taste (a generous amount ~ but I don’t measure)
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • fresh or frozen blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
  • 2 to 4 T. of Cracknola (optional, but necessary if you ask me ~ AMAZING homemade grain-free granola recipe)

Place chia seeds in a cereal bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir to coat. Pour the boiling water over the seeds and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir well, as it will be lumpy. (The chia seeds will break open and gel in the hot water.) Add the blueberries and Cracknola for extra flavour. Enjoy!

What is really great about this recipe is that the main ingredient is chia seeds which are not only gluten free, but also considered a superfood because of their high nutritional value. They are not only high in fibre, but also packed with many other nutrients and offer significant health benefits. Dr. Axe has written a comprehensive article on the health advantages linked to chia seeds including anti-aging properties, digestive support, heart health, energy and metabolism booster, diabetes support, weight loss, cancer and dental health. Check out the nutrition profile from Dr. Axe’s article ~ 9 Chia Seeds Benefits + Side Effects:

Chia Seed Nutrition Profile

The reason chia seeds are so beneficial is due to them being rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.

For example, one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain about: (1)

  • 137 calories
  • 12.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 4.4 grams protein
  • 8.6 grams fat
  • 10.6 grams fiber
  • 0.6 milligram manganese (30 percent DV)
  • 265 milligrams phosphorus (27 percent DV)
  • 177 milligrams calcium (18 percent DV)
  • 1 milligram zinc (7 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram copper (3 percent DV)
  • 44.8 milligrams potassium (1 percent DV)

Chia seeds also contain essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid; mucin; strontium’ vitamins A, B, E and D; and minerals, including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin and thiamine; and they’re a rich source of antioxidants.

The benefits are so numerous it seems almost criminal not to be incorporating them in your diet. They’ve been a staple in my pantry for a few years now, but up until recently I only sprinkled them on salads or added them to my smoothies. This is the first time I used chia seeds as a main ingredient in a recipe and I’m so pleased with the results. Check out this short video of Dr. Axe’s to learn more about chia seeds:

For more great information and recipe ideas, check out Dr. Mercola’s site as well.

Let me know if you decide to give this recipe a try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!