Best of October.

Hello November!

October was a challenging month for me. It was the two-year anniversary of a trauma that re injured my brain AND it was the first whole month in which I was not in Tanzania. Waaa! I had some readjusting to do, under stressful circumstances. BUT it wasn’t horrible. I’m here, alive and kicking in November. I learned some things and made it through. My goal for next October is to thrive rather than survive. But you know that’s my goal every month!

ANYway, I got thinking about it all and the good things that happened and really wanted to showcase that. Do a roundup exercise of all the awesome. Because our brains are wired for the negative, no problem there, ha ha but the positive…that’s a thing that needs cultivating. And that’s a thing that’s really, truly worthy of my attention 🙂

The Best Savoury Thing I Ate In October:

Tanzanian Pepper Beef Stew. I invented it based on my memory of a meal I ate whilst in Tanzania. I’m fine tuning it for my recipe book and will share it eventually, but if you want to make something similar, it’s basically beef and peppers with lots of black pepper and onion. At first bite, I was proud. So proud!

The Best Sweet Thing I Ate In October:

A banana crepe with Nutella at Cora, with two dear friends on a sunny Autumn morning.

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I’m not usually a sweets person but there was something about this warm, chocolate fruity glop of deliciousness that really hit the spot. A rare but welcome thing.

The Best Hot Drink I Drank In October: My last attempt at recreating spiced tea. It was almost perfect. Perfect spice, perfect sweet… I just need to tweak the milk – I’m going to try shelf stable milk – and see if that does the trick – but drinking it whilst reading a book in the warm sunlight, knowing I was so close was dreamy. At this point if the milk doesn’t make it so, it’ll be alright because it’s a damn fine cup of tea anyway.

The Best Outing I Had In October: This is a toss-up between two. The first one was a walk in the river valley with two friends. The sun was shining, there was a chill in the air, the leaves were crunchy and we were surrounded by birds and squirrels doing important animal things. I found the BEST sticks to add to my collection and there were lost of laughs and insightful realizations and just good fun.

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The second one was a surprise motorcycle ride with my man. He came home early on a sunny afternoon and asked me out. We didn’t go anywhere special, just out and back through an area close to the city but it was fun to be zooming along in the sunny air. There was a slight chill as we sped through traffic, turning into curves with total acceptance of whatever was to be. You can’t resist the turns on a bike, even as a passenger so I really had to surrender to them. Would we crash or remain upright and keep going? Only one way to find out. That was fucking scary and liberating at the same time.

Best Social Interactions In October: My fun and chatty conversation with a lady at the transit station who gave me doughnuts. I’ll detail it fully in another post but here I can tell you that it was really nice to have an honest, kind conversation with another human being, especially as we seemed to just click in seconds. People think it’s all weirdos on transit but that’s not true. I’ve met a lot of lovely humans as well.

Going to a new book club at my local library. Everyone was open and friendly, welcoming and engaging. Their words and their actions matched and it was just a really nice night.

Smartest Thing I Did In October: Get our wills made up! The sense of relief I feel is … well, relieving. I feel just a titch more grown up 🙂 One less thing to feel anxious about.

Coolest Thing I Bought: A Namaste Skeleton!

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The dead and dying in me see the dead and dying in you. Its perfect! I buy a lot of my regular home décor during Halloween sales. Ha Ha.

Best Shows I Watched: So yes I’m totally late to this but OH EM GEE …

OUTLANDER. 

I’d tried to watch it once before with the Hubs but just couldn’t get into it. I think watching it was my man was the problem because I had no issues revisiting it on my laptop with my headphones in! I’d read the books years ago and really enjoyed them. I’m happy the series is holding my attention the same way.

Salt Fat Acid Heat 

Is another one I’m liking. It’s on Netflix and its a fancy little cooking show -kind of, sorta – about how if one masters these four elements, Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat, one can transform their meals. I really like the host Samin Nosrat and the whole thing is just really interesting. If you’re passionate about food and people and places, this is a show for you.

What were some of your highlights in October? I’d love to hear all about them!

Love and squishy hugs!

Blueberry Muffins w/ Soph and Grammy.

We had our girl over the other weekend. This kid is getting huge! Yet she is but a wee four year old. How can that all be ? 🙂

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Growth mystery aside, we had fun with her. We went and saw a movie- Smallfoot.- where that kid ate her weight in popcorn, I swear. We hung around the house and played with some toys – Grammy and Grumpus ate A LOT of plasticine food on tiny Ikea plates.- We even made real food! Blueberry muffins, using my mother in law’s recipe.

 

We had some silly fun and ended up with a delicious treat. (I may or may not have added in some white chocolate chips )

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Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

  1.  2.5 cups flour
  2. 2.5 tsp baking powder
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup buttermilk
  5. 2 large eggs, well beaten
  6. 1/2 cup butter, melted
  7. 1.5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen. Whatevs.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well and add buttermilk,eggs and melted butter. Mix well, and fold in blueberries. Will well greased tins with batter and bake at 400 F for 20-25 min. Enjoy.

Sophia said the muffins tasted like ” rotten garbage” Ha Ha Ha! Little shit. They did not, I assure you. I think maybe they just weren’t cupcakes which is what she really wanted to make.

I learned a thing or two from this experience and as I am a child care professional – no really!- here are my tips for cooking with your grandbabies

  1. Make the things they want to make. Soph wanted cupcakes, I didn’t have the ingredients for those so we made muffins. She was happy to do something with me, but cupcakes would have been a bigger hit. Give the kids the power of choice here.
  2. Make sure your grandchild is old enough to help you in the kitchen and make sure the thing you’re making and the tasks you give them are age appropriate. It saves on frustration all around AND ensures their safety. Are they stable enough to stand on a stool? Is the stool stable? How are their listening skills? Can they follow direction? What about their fine motor skills?
  3. Speaking of safety, don’t freak out too, too much about this. I let Soph lick the butter knife, she ate some batter (like I could stop her, ha) I’ve let her cut things up. With attentive supervision all things are possible. Use your judgement, talk them through it and take a few reasonable risks.
  4. Tidy up the place a bit. Have all your ducks -ingredients- in a row. My kitchen was a train wreck and it made things a bit more challenging. But I’d already invited her in to help and she was eager to do so and didn’t want to wait for Grammy. Next time, I’ll make sure I keep my mouth shut til its clean and I’m organized.
  5. Have fun! You can still teach good hygiene and proper measuring techniques as you go but the real goal here is to spend time with your love, engaged and connected. Don’t worry too much about the mechanics of the thing. Enjoy your time together!

 

We’re having the younger one this weekend.

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OV is eight months old now and army crawling all over the place! Time to baby proof Grammy’s place. He’s going to be a helluva lot of work for the next little bit but boy is he ever cute. I suspect I’ll survive 😉

 

Winter Weather Survival Guide

I went from this:

 

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to this:

 

to this:

cleared road near trees and light post during nighttime

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

I’m having a hard time adjusting.

BUT in my 16 years of long, hard winter hating living, I’ve learned a few things a person can do make the cold seasons, a little less shitty. Sadly, I don’t have a magic wand to make it ALL go away – you could move South?- but if you do a few of these things a day, you too can survive until Spring. (Spring, Spring. Not the date on the calendar. We all know Spring doesn’t really come to Edmonton until June. Ugh)

ANYWAY. Here we go!

  1. Ignore it. Seriously. Don’t look outside. Don’t watch weather reports.  Don’t complain about it. Don’t engage in conversation about it. Don’t even acknowledge the outside world. Pretend like it doesn’t exist. The weather is like a bad ex you see on the street. Avert your eyes and walk on by. You’re better than that! They don’t deserve your attention!
  2. We may be ignoring the -20c but we’re not stupid. Buy yourself some warm gear. Spend the money, if you can, on a good jacket. Buy those cute (warm) boots, buy a colourful scarf with hats and mitts to match. Hell, buy several! The dollar store is your friend here. The trick is to put as many warm things as you can between your skin and the asshole weather. I hear layering is a good thing. Do that!
  3. Remember the transition period is the hardest part. Once you acclimatize from Summer to Fall, you’ll feel better. Let yourself be grumpy. Take extra care of you during this time. Trust me, 5c is going to start feeling warm soon and then you’ll know you’ve made it! I’m only miserable for ten minutes until I warm up! Time how long it takes you to warm out and celebrate your success as week by week you acclimatize too!
  4. Drink warm liquids. Make an event out of it. Soups, teas, coffee, whatever. Add these into your day as a time just for you. Embrace the warmth of the cup, the flavours, the coziness of the break in your day. This is how we get by, sip by sip.
  5. Movies! Movies are your friend. Preferably in your own house so you don’t have to go outside. Movies are a great way to kill a few hours of yucky weather AND if you choose a documentary you’ll learn something too! You’re going to be a genius by the time this is over!
  6. Exercise. Yeah. Lame. I know. BUT exercise improves your mental health and in order to survive something challenging, we need good mental health. There are lots of things we can do indoors. Hell, sometimes on really cold days I just walk in circles in my home, like the caged animal I am. You could go to a mall or find a gym,or go online, or lift weights or do yoga or get yourself a treadmill…move that body. Your Spring self will thank you.
  7. Take advantage of the sun. No, no. I’m not asking you to go outside. All I’m saying is that IF the sun is shining, go get yourself some rays. Sit in the window. Let your body get some Vit. D. You may very well find yourself inspired to go outside. And that’s ok too! Just don’t become one of those smug assholes who does nothing but talk about how much they loooove winter while the rest of us sit there miserable. Gah.
  8. Don’t force yourself to go outside. Don’t force yourself to love Winter. You feel what you feel and that’s OK. You might even find once you stop shoulding on yourself you WANT to go out and do things. It could happen. Yesterday I chose to walk to the mall after choosing to hole up inside the day before. Balance people! Oh. And choice. You have free will. You don’t like the cold. That’s just fine. It doesn’t make you bad or negative. It’s just a preference and its yours. ignore those smug Winter lovers, I betcha they’re lying anyway.
  9. Have you heard of Hygge? It’s a whole thing about coziness and comfort and WARMTH and LIGHT and fun with an emphasis on well-being. It’s perfectly suited for the cold season. Go find out for yourself. And then hygge it up!
  10. Stay connected with the humans. It’s very tempting to isolate oneself ( I’m looking at you Lael) Resist the urge. It just makes these dark days all the darker. Get out there and be social. However that comfortably looks to you. Doing stuff with friends, even just coffee, makes the time go by faster. My friends are sometimes the ONLY reason I make it in a day and I love them for it. And hey! YOU could be the reason someone else makes it. You never know…Just get out there, at least twice a week and be social. You can be a hermit the other 5 days. Trust me, Winter will go by faster.
  11. Hang in there. Dec 21 is the Solstice AND the start of Winter. This used to depress me until I realized that on the Solstice, THE LIGHT COMES BACK! Sure, it’s still freezing ass cold but its on its way out. The light comes back and with the light comes more hours of sun. And with more hours of sun comes the heating. And with the heating comes the Spring. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “Winter? Did we even have a Winter?” Back in glorious denial but hopefully a little wiser than the year before and ready to face the cold weather once more. YOU CAN DO THIS.

Autumn To Do List

OK. NO fair!

I was all excited thinking Future Lael would be celebrating the Spring Equinox in Zanzibar today, as a Time Traveller! BUT dammit, according to my stupid and highly disappointing research, Spring in Zanzibar starts on September 23. What will Future Lael be doing on September 23?  Flying home to Autumn! I’ll be in the air 45 mins before the whole thing starts!

Boooooo!

Well, that’s if everything goes well. Life is uncertain, maybe Future Lael is trampled by an elephant or eaten by a lion. Who knows! I do know, I am very mad about not being able to brag about being in Spring one day and Autumn the next!

I do love Autumn. I think its my favourite season. There is just something about the warm days and cool nights, the way the sun sits in the sky and shines softer. The brilliant colours cannot be beat and the smells! Oh the smells of wood smoke and dying vegetation, warm tea and spicy everything. Big sweaters and boots. Cozy blankets and lazy days. Frost on the window and misty air…I am SO looking forward to honouring this new season upon us.

Remember when I was freaking out about Summer fading away? I really found that whole list making process so helpful in reminding me to savour every little thing. I don’t feel like I wasted my last days of Summer and was way more accepting of its end. (Like I had a choice!)

So I think I’ll do that again, this time for Autumn!

Autumn To-Do List

  1. Walk to 7-11 for Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Seriously this is a thing. I hate PSLs anywhere else but 7-11 makes something so good, I break my own rules and have to enjoy at least one.
  2. Spend time outdoors, admiring the changing leaves, listening to them crunch underfoot and watching them swirl around in the wind.
  3. Spend a day under a blankey drinking tea and reading books.
  4. Make an apple pie.
  5. Decorate with rich warm tones. The dollar store is good for cheap finds you can set out year after year. Try to go no plastic.
  6. Pull out all the cold weather stuff and put away the warm.
  7. Buy a new sweater.
  8. Have a bonfire at a park that allows such things. Roast some weenies and drink mugs of apple cider too.
  9. Make a crumble out of any summer fruit you’ve frozen.
  10. Sunrises and Sunsets.
  11. Make and freeze batches of soup for those coming cold days.
  12. Make biscuits and eat them with butter and jam. Just because.
  13. Visit a pumpkin patch.
  14. Visit a Farmer’s Market.
  15. Try to maneuver out of a corn maze.
  16. Go for a drive in the country.
  17. Plant some bulbs.
  18. Set out bird feeders.
  19. Make candy apples.
  20. Make some chili.
  21. Celebrate Oktoberfest.
  22. Watch the birds fly south.
  23. Do a gratitude exercise.
  24. Knit a new hat,scarf and mitts.
  25. Honour your ancestors on Samhain
  26. Bring more light into your house by setting up fairy lights.
  27. Write letters to your friends…and send them!
  28. Get outside while the weather is still comfortable.
  29. Make homemade noodles.
  30. Read this bookThe Little Book of Hyggeand then Hygge it up!

What would you add to this? Please share!

 

Lush Review, Shampoo/Conditioner Bars: Godiva & Jungle

Have you ever seen those photos from Asia of the beaches and oceans completely inundated with plastic bits and other garbage? Shocking and hard to look at, am I right? That was the big smack upside the head for me.

I’d already heard about the Great Pacific Garbage patch and been suitably disgusted but it wasn’t until I saw the photos from Bali that I really thought long and hard about my own plastic use and made an intention to do something about it.

Its challenging because plastic is cheap and it.is.EVERYWHERE! It feels overwhelming and hopeless at times. It feels like it’d be easier to throw up my hands and say “Oh well”, leaving it at the that.

But I cant do that in good conscious. And while it IS overwhelming it is NOT hopeless. If each of us does one small thing every day, collectively we can affect change. It might come slowly but it WILL come. Just watch and see.

In preparing for my upcoming trip, I remembered that Lush makes solid shampoo and conditioner bars. The last time I tried them, frankly, they sucked. I think it was a combination of lack of knowledge on my part and unsuitability on the product’s end.

Simply put, I didn’t know how to use them and I bought the wrong kind for my hair.

I decided to give them another try but this time I did some research and gained some tips-which I will share with you-and made sure I got products that met my hair’s needs.

My hair, much like my personality, is ALL OVER the place. It’s straight in the front, wavy in the back and drier than the desert. I’m about 50% grey-which tends to run dry anyway-plus, I bleach it and bleaching is very hard on hair. (I dream of the day when I go all natural!)

ANYway, the very nice girl at Lush, in Kingsway Garden Mall recommended I try a Godiva Shampoo bar. It was the most moisturizing one out of the bunch. I wasn’t all that keen on the dominant scent-Jasmine- but bought it knowing it suited my needs.

Next up- conditioner!-Jungle was what I bought, to “soften and tame wild hair” HA! That’s exactly what I need.

I also bought a couple more metal containers to store them in and this is what the whole lot looks like:

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Smoothed over from one use.

So what’s the verdict?

I like! My hair, while still not completely smooth is SO soft! I annoyed the heck out of my husband ALL day with “Honey! Feel my hair! Soft, isn’t it?” Ha Ha Ha, poor guy.

The shampoo bar makes a very nice, rich lather and my hair felt clean. I even managed to get over the smell, finding that I liked the scent on my drying hair.

The conditioner bar was odd at first. I was able to get it to soften up and release conditioner onto my hands but ended up running the bar over my head to ensure I got something more out of it. It seemed like I wasn’t getting enough. After I combed it all through my hair though, I could see that it was indeed doing its job and felt better about the whole thing. And then after I rinsed it all off, the glorious silky feeling confirmed it for me.

So two thumbs up for both products from me. I’m happy with the results and my hair DOES feel well moisturized. The bars were super easy to use and are completely packable for travel. Leaving me with more room to haul over sunscreen, essential oils and bug spray. The best part about all of this though is that I’ve stopped contributing my shampoo and conditioner bottles to the plastic problem we all share in. Yay!

OK, now for some tips:

  1. Some people rub the shampoo bar over their heads, from forehead to nape, in one straight motion, but its better for beginners to work up a lather in their hand and then apply that to the hair.
  2. The exception to this of course is that if you are unable to work up a lather or release any cream from the conditioner bar, it might be best if you do run it over your head. Play around and see what works best for your noggin.
  3. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Paying special attention to the nape of you neck. Rinse for at least one minute.
  4. Set your bars on a small towel to dry before putting in their container or line your containers with parchment or fabric. (Cut up an old washcloth) The bars will be wet and squishy after use and will become stuck like glue. You will have one hell of a time getting them out otherwise!
  5. Identify your hair needs and buy accordingly.

Have you ever used a shampoo/conditioner bar on your hair? What was your experience? What do you do to reduce your plastic use? Do you have any tips you think are clever and helpful? Please share!

52 Days Left

Happy August!

I find myself in a bit of a panic today. We have 52 days of Summer left! August being our last full month. Eeek!!

I feel like I haven’t exactly been lazy…but I have sure been acting like Summer is never going to end! How about you?

I just know, come Winter I shall be kicking myself for all the time I’ve spent indoors instead of making the most out of these glorious months. With that in mind and as an excuse to write another list, I bring you:

How to honour Summer. Lael style.

  1. Eat meals outdoors.
  2. Bike rides.
  3. Go to the beach.
  4. Feed the chickadees.
  5. Collect rocks.
  6. Paint rocks and hide them for people to find in unexpected places.
  7. Read books lazily outside.
  8. Take photos of all the things!
  9. Weenie roasts.
  10. S’mores roasts.
  11. Watch the sunrise and sunset.
  12. Go for hikes.
  13. Grab a cool drink, sit where people gather and just watch the world go by.
  14. Enjoy a daily walk in new neighbourhoods.
  15. Have a few road trip adventures.
  16. Meals out with friends.
  17. Slurpees!!
  18. Ice cream!
  19. Lay out and watch the clouds float by.
  20. Lay out and watch the stars-The Perseid Meteor shower starts soon!
  21. Visit parks in other cities.
  22. Have picnics.
  23.  Preserve,freeze and create with the bounty of Summer fruits and vegetables.
  24. Wander up and down the “cool” areas of town.
  25. Take photos of EVERYTHING!
  26.  Visit gardens
  27. Blow bubbles
  28. Make lemonade
  29. Spend time barefoot.
  30. Play in the rain
  31. Go into the woods, sit really still and just watch.
  32. Make friends with all the neighbourhood animals.

Special thanks to my friends, Chantel and Carolyn for the inspiration!

How do you honour and enjoy Summer?