Sunday, March 28, 2010

We all can be a little Martha!

I've written about my Sister-in-law before as someone I wish I could be a bit more like. A great hostess, AMAZING cook & a fashionista she continues to amaze me!

Not only does she work a full-time job, have a house that never has things out of place (or fluff balls of animal hair rolling along the floors), makes healthy meals, spends time with her daughter, finds time to go to the gym & does the extra little touches like Martha! When I went to visit the week before Easter (for a FABULOUS fish dinner) I saw she had this sesaonal floral piece on her table!! In awe she passed it off as such a small thing, but I couldn't figure out how she does it - her place always looks like it came out of a magazine.

Perhaps I should see if she can write a post telling us how she does it because she truly is like all of us trying to make it work.... just a woman!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Empathy & Understanding

My daughter is a teacher!!! So young but already affecting a change.

When commenting to a friend of mine about how I think kids need to be able to give back and learn responsibility she told me about the Roots of Empathy Program. Basically in a nutshell the program brings Erin into a classroom (of kids at risk for aggression, bullying & other social problems) and the children get to watch her grow and they can relate their feelings and thoughts to their observations of her. Studies have shown that the children's experience have a lasting effect in increased pro-social behaviour and decreased aggression.
So we're almost at the end of our school year & I have to say that as much as the children have learned we learned too. Not just because these kids taught her to clap her hands or that she rolled over for the first time in the class, but I've been lucky to see how something so small (1 hour every few weeks) has changed lives of others. I smile when I think of 2 kids in particular who at the beginning of the classes sat at the back of the class, never spoke and were generally withdrawn. The last class we had the coordinator (Sarah!!) had trouble keeping the kids away from her & stop talking - they were so excited to share!
I know having a small child (and a big boy) is a lot of work - especially when I'm trying to get out of the house in the morning & make it to the class on time. I hope I always remember how important it is to give back, and how easy it is. Doing a small thing for someone else not only makes you feel better & helps someone else, but having good karma in your life will help you for sure!
If you are pregnant, check out the site to see if there is a class near you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Can Vegan be Tasty?

I am SOO lucky my kids have no allergies (not yet anyway) and my heart goes out there to the parents of kids who have allergies. No only do you have to worry about them in school, but if you like to cook you have to be able to find tasty recipes they will eat.

Thanks to a kid in my baby girls Empathy & Understanding class - put on by the Roots of Empathy program - I brought in cookies one day to find out a few vegan kids couldn't eat them. Not to shy away from a challenge I decided to find a good vegan recipe. A good friend sent me a vegan brownie recipe so I made vegan & non-vegan brownies. I have to say.... although I only had apple-pomegranate sauce, the vegan ones were not my favorite & I didn't blame a few of the kids who came up & asked to change theirs for the other brownie (they weren't vegan but had taken a vegan one to try). I know some adults said they vegan ones were good, but I think they were only being polite!

I am planning on trying another vegan recipe soon!!

Here is the brownie recipe:

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter (make sure you get the butter with no milk!!)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unrefined sugar (suggested to half the sugar)
1 small ripe banana mashed
1 1/3 cup spelt flower
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, coconut, carob chips or walnut pieces (I used carob chips - quite good)

Preheat oven to 350F, lightly grease 8 inch square pan.

In a large bowl, beat all ingredients with fork until smooth and pour into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Something a Little Different

Many of you out there are probably like me, raised on meat & potatoes -with a few carrots, turnip & frozen peas/carrots for a change. Where I grew up there weren't a lot of options for different vegetables, or perhaps it was just my house... either way I had never ate eggplant until recently and had no idea what moussakka was; only that the girl in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' had to eat 'moose kaka'.
In an attempt to force myself to try new things I usually buy whatever veggies are onsale at my local grocery & then look for a recipe to cook them. For this one I went to my fave chef Ricardo and found this recipe (see below for full recipe). As with all his episodes he provides you with an entire meal, so I also made the Red Lentil Soup & the Firm Yogurt with Honey - we were out of honey so I used strawberries (it woulda been better with honey).
I have to say I LOVED IT!! Not only is the funky yogurt bechemel sauce good for covering food for picky eaters, the soup & leftover moussaka was great pureed for my baby girl!

If your going to try something new I suggest this!

Here is the recipe:


1 large eggplant, cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch slices)
2/3 cup olive oil
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground ginger
1/2 cup white wine
1 can diced tomatoes (14oz)
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Yogurt Béchamel
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup plain yogurt (4% MF or lighter)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg yolk
1 pinch ground nutmeg

1.In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the eggplant, several slices at a time, using 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside on a plate.
2.In the same skillet in the remaining oil, brown the meat and onion with the garlic and spices, breaking the meat up with a fork or wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine. Bring to a boil and reduce until nearly all the wine has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of breadcrumbs, stirring well to combine. Adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
Yogurt Béchamel
1.In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Dust with the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the yogurt and bring to a boil while stirring. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, egg and nutmeg. Adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
2.With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
1.With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
2.Butter a baking dish about 18 x 28-cm (7 x 11-inch) in size or able to hold about 2 litres (8 cups). Sprinkle 30 ml (2 tablespoons) breadcrumbs on the bottom. Lay half of the eggplant slices on the bottom. Top with the meat mixture. Cover with the remaining eggplant slices. Spread the béchamel over the eggplant. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs. Bake until the béchamel turns gold-coloured, about 30 minutes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Breaking up is hard to do

Even months after a break-up you can't help but feel nausea when you come face-to-face with your ex. You can't help but daydream about what could have been & what no longer will be. This is also true for ex-work!

It's been 4 months since I've been laid off (to many people's shock - YES, they can lay you off while on maternity in Canada) and I still find myself saying 'my company' - I must say it's always in a positive fashion & that's not just because I signed a waiver saying I would only talk positively about the company. However, it's time I suck it up & realize it is no longer MY company... in fact I no longer have a company, only sticky hands & gummy kisses - longer hours, but a much better benefits!
Although I was laid off with almost my whole department I can't help but feeling like the jilted a.k.a. 'dumped' girlfriend. Some say I should find solace that I have my work-buddies in the same situation, but I think it just makes it sadder. We all gave so much of ourselves. We helped the company grow making that company a big piece of our lifestyle pie & made other parts smaller and in the end we're all kicked to the curb. I can only hope I remember to be positive & take the advice I give friends - there are always more fish in the sea... you have to kiss more frogs till you find your prince... and my favorite - everything can be fixed with time & wine!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can it be SPRING already??

I can't believe that it's spring already. One day we're sliding in the snow & the next I'm looking at the grass on my front lawn! More importantly I'm looking at flowers starting up out of the ground!!

I have to admit I'm not super great with flowers and prefer to work with fruits & veggies in my garden. But after having great success with garlic last year (also a bulb you plant in the fall & it comes to fruitation in the spring with no work required) I decided to try bulb flowers last fall. When I saw this beautiful greenery starting to grow I couldn't help but think it was like giving birth - with a lot less pain! You do something small that takes a few minutes in the fall when the weather is nice, wait 7-9 months & boom you get this great reward!

Now I just need to make sure my toddler doesn't haul them all up before we get to see the flowers!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Who ever said "it's like riding a bike"?

I'm not sure who said that but I can tell you getting back into exercising after having stopped for a LONG time is NOT like riding a bike (as in you never forget & it's easy). If it is like riding a bike then it certainly is not like my glorious memories - which would be the equivalent to riding a tandem bike where somewhere else does all the work. Truthfully it would be more like my 2&1/2 year old son riding a bike, you can either pedal, steer or watch things as you go by, but it's entirely impossible to do all three at the same time!

I just try to keep in my mind what I tell others in similar situations... at least I'm out there. Even if I'm turning red, panting, sweating & people are staring (probably wondering if I'll pass out), at least I got off my couch & tried. There are lots of others who haven't gotten off their couches - so no matter how good I do (or how bad) I can at least be proud I tried!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I don't feel like it

Like everyone I have little time any day to read blogs... so I have to make sure the ones I read are suited to my needs... and here is one that is: Seth Godin's Blog. Heralded as writing the most popular marketing blog in the world, his bestselling marketing books have been translated into over 20 languages worldwide!

Quite simply: Seth is a writer, a speaker and an agent of change.

Here is one entry from him that I thought was great:

I don't feel like it
What's it?

Why do you need to feel like something in order to do the work? They call it work because it's difficult, not because it's something you need to feel like.

Very few people wake up in the morning and feel like taking big risks or feel like digging deep for something that has eluded them. People don't usually feel like pushing themselves harder than they've pushed before or having conversations that might be uncomfortable.

Of course, your feelings are irrelevant to whether or not the market expects great work. Do the work. Ignore the feelings part and the work will follow.

If you work in marketing or want to read more just for fun check out Seth Godin's Blog.