Finding Balance

Lately I have been feeling out of whack, my body has been telling me something is off. I'm not sick, I don’t have the flu but something has been playing with my moods and my emotions and my mind. Silly things happen like I get irritated easier, I forget things that I normally wouldn’t forget, I crave more sugar, I lose things like my keys or phone and then a general feeling of panic sets in and takes over. Anxiety creeps in and starts talking to me in the form of negativity. Everything begins to suck, I hate my hair, I hate my stomach, I hate my job, I hate my house, I will never have kids, I hate my life. Everyone else has it so much better then me. Now the old me would have allowed this to continue on and on for weeks at a time, but the new me can now recognize when this is starting to kick in and decide to do something about it. I am out of balance. Everything is weighing me down and taking over my mind, because I am allowing it. My best defense is to be proactive and nip it in the butt right away. 
SO to start...I can begin each morning with a grateful heart. I posted on instagram about this but basically the second I wake up I am usually wishing my alarm didn't go off, sometimes in disbelief that 7 hours have already gone by, then dreading the idea of getting ready and heading into work. This is the absolute WORST way to begin your day. I mean absolute worst!! This is setting your day up to be down right crappy. Believe me things don’t magically get better as the day goes on. So now instead I may still be wishing the alarm didn't go off yet when I wake up but then the second thought I have will be “STOP IT CANDACE, I am grateful, I am grateful for another day on this beautiful earth, I am grateful I have a job to wake up and go to, I am grateful I have the ability to make money so I can live and enjoy all the things I enjoy, I am grateful for my staff as they mainly aim to please me, I am grateful for my boss because he continually believes in me and puts his trust in me to run his business, I am grateful for the love I have in my life and that I am able to share the moments with someone who truly cares, I am grateful for my family and my friends because they constantly put smiles on my face, I am grateful for God and the fact that he never gives up on me even when I close my eyes and my ears to him, I am grateful for the many talents that I have, I am grateful for all the wonderful food I will eat....the list can go on and on and on but usually by that point I have some coffee in me already and my mood is already much better.
The new me also knows that when my moods start to shift and my thoughts become negative that it is time to align myself with the outdoors, it can be something as simple as standing outside in the backyard and taking a few deep breaths or a walk through the park or the neighbourhood, breathing in the outdoor air puts us at one with nature and has amazing effects on our moods and our bodies. 


The new me also knows that when my mood is negative it the worst time to eat white or refined sugars. The old me would have binged on chocolate bars, ice cream, brownies or anything else my sweet tooth craved, but the NEW me now knows there is nothing wrong with treating myself to these things when my mind is the right place but when its not I need to stay away from these things because they are then toxic. When I feel negative I need to focus on putting only wholesome things into my body. Now I know I have talked about comfort food and filling my belly with pasta etc, and that is something else entirely, comfort food is when you have a long day or even a particularly bad day, or a great day, or a normal day, its a meal that feeds your soul, but what I am talking about now is when you are off balance. At those times its so important to stick to a healthy meal plan, so what does that look like, well for me it's lean meats like white chicken, fish such as salmon, quinoa, brown rice, lots and lots of vegetables like spinach, kale, peppers, cucumbers, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts; fruits like apples, strawberries, mangos, oranges, melons, blueberries and avocados....and lots and lots and lots of water and green tea. 
Sleep is also key when my mood is off balance. 7 hours leaves me feeling normal but the new me knows if my mood is off its important to aim for at least 8 hours. Writing in my happiness journal also helps, its puts things in perspective and makes it so much more permanent when its on paper.
Suddenly all the things I thought I hated start to take on a new light, I love my job and the freedom it leaves me and the fact that its what I am really good at, and I love my house and everything in it and all the memories I have created while living there and I know its not my forever home and I know one day I will be in my forever home but until then these walls do me just fine and my hair and my stomach and every other outward thing on me is beautiful and just as I was created and so its my job to love it, and if I have kids one day great, I hope to ACE motherhood, but in the meantime look at all the freedom I have, I can go where I want, when I want with only minimal planning involved, I can eat out, sleep-in and take advantage of being an adult with the world at my fingertips. My life is actually great and you know what....so is yours, whatever it looks like. The new me is a work in progress but I am starting to really like her, and I hope to keep improving as I go. 
What kind of things work for you when you are off balance? 
Let your adventure begin.....xoxo


Is it fall or summer?

So apparently it's fall season....??? Really because the last I checked it was 32 feels like 40 outside with the humidity. While I am summer girl by nature, more out of convienence then anything, I mean throw on some pants a tank top and some flip flops, put your hair in a pony tail and your out the door? What's not to love about that? I enjoy the beach more then anything. Hours in the sand on a towel, the lake right in front of me if I get too hot, sunglasses, a good book, maybe some snacks, to me that's a great summer day. As a kid my Dad used to take me to the beach regularly and those are some of my fondest memories of him. Swimming in the lake, making sand castles, sometimes dirt pies which he would playfully pretend to eat. Summer was great. Summer means bbq's, salads, fresh fruit and veggies, cold white wine, refreshing rose, a smooth red or a cold beer. Lemonade, sparkling water or a simple flat water bottle.




Now though, now it's supposed to be fall. Fall is my second favourite season. To me fall means the leaves changing colours, Halloween, pumpkin seeds, homemade soups and stews, sweaters, warm socks, lots of reading, football, long evening walks, stylish boots(as opposed to super warm winter boots) thanksgiving...my absolute favorite holiday! Pumpkin flavoured everything! Cinnamon and spices, Apple picking, Apple pie, apple crumble.....my list goes on and on. I'm sitting here on a Sunday when its 40 degrees outside and wondering if we will get a fall this year. I would love to make a homemade soup today but I might die of heat exhaustion if I do. My favorite way to make a soup is to boil some chicken. Whatever I have on hand wether it be chicken breast, leg, thigh etc. I let it boil through in some very lightly salted water and then I take it out of the water and chop it up into small pieces....while its boiling I chop up carrots, peas, green and yellow beans, celery(those are my must adds) sometimes I also add....mushrooms, red or yellow peppers, onions, spinach or kale, Brussel sprouts, and literally any other veggies I have on hand. I add the veggies to the broth, throw the chicken back in and spice it up with some pepper, garlic, salt, franks red hot sauce, basil and my secret ingredient a splash of bbq sauce. Add some potatoes or small noodles and voila a beautie of a fall soup. Mmmm my mouth is watering. The other thing I am famous for in the fall is my oven roasted veggies. I take a baking tray and line it with foil, lightly oil the foil and then add veggies that roast well....think zucchini, beans, carrots, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus(if it doesn't cost my right arm to buy at the store) and peppers. Sprinkle some oil on it, I usually stick to extra virgin olive oils but whatever you like will work, season it with pepper, basil, garlic, chili peppers and bake at 400 for 20 mins flipping half way through. Voila, my favorite way to eat veggies!!! So tonight I may be having a beef/shrimp stir fry to combat the 40 degree weather, but mark my word within the next couple weeks the fall menu will be hitting the dinner table in my house...what's your favortie food season? 

Breakfast

Breakfast, the first meal of the day.The meal they say is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast and I have always had a shady relationship. As a child in grade school I loved breakfast. Breakfast meant it wasn't time to head out to the school bus yet. Breakfast was my siblings and I watching scooby doo and power rangers and spending time together before school, while my dear mother was in the kitchen preparing endless batches of toast for us and getting our school lunches ready. Breakfast was a very happy time. Then high school started and all of a sudden I was wayyyyy more tired in the mornings, slightly more grumpy( I say slightly but my family may or may not have compared me to many different evil monsters) and waking up with just enough time to get ready and head out the door to make it to school. Now breakfast meant a cup of coffee and a banana or an apple on the way out the door. Not my finest years. Now as an adult breakfast is a whole new thing to me. First of all I couldn't dream of skipping it, I would be completely intolerable if I did. It's much more of a necessity now. Don't get me wrong I still start with my morning coffee to rid myself of the monster in me. Generally through the work week I will have chopped up fruit, either apples or strawberries and some yogurt. I prefer vanilla or blueberry but if I am being honest I am not overly picky.






Breakfast is mainly meant now just to get me by until lunch, its meant to prevent me from fainting and from telling people what I really think and instead saying the polite thing. Weekend breakfast is something else entirely though. Weekend breakfast means taking my time, making it with love, lounging, enjoying each bite and filling myself up so much I dont even need a lunch. Weekend breakfast can be so many different things to different people. It can be a morning out with girlfriends, an early morning date, family together each pitching in. It can mean eggs..sunnyside up, overeasy, hard boiled, poached, soft boiled, scrambled, baked(which I recently tried and let me tell you, delish!!!) It can mean bacon, sausage, homefries, pancakes, waffles, french toast,yogurt, fruit, cereal, toast, english muffins, bagels, rye bread, white bread, peanut butter, jelly.....the list goes on but its actually making me hungry thinking of things. Weekend breakfast to me should be a social thing. That is how I best like it. We recently spent some time at the cottage with family and one of the days there we did a big family breakfast. There were eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce, baked bacon...mmhmmm try it, you will never look at bacon the same way again, toast, fruit, sauteed spinach,english muffins, yogurt, orange juice, chocolate milk, coffee and tea. (Not going to tell you the boys had a beer after breakfast, but I kind of just did) It was a feast! There was so much food and everyone loved it, but the best part of it was that it brought us all closer. Everyone was in the kitchen and most of us were doing something or other, people tend to hone in on their skills, some of us will cook eggs, some will cook bacon, some will clean dishes, set the table, offer a sense of humour, tell stories, whatever it is, we are doing it together and I love that about food and cooking. It was one of the highlights of the vacation for sure. If you arent doing it now, try it out this weekend. Make either Saturday or Sunday a social breakfast. Cook with someone you love or someone you like, go out to eat together, if budget is an issue go to Tim Hortons together and have tea or coffee and a muffin, you get the picture, just do it with someone. If timing is an issue because mornings don't work then have breakfast for dinner. When Ryan and I first started dating those were some of our favorite dinners to have together. Keep it as simple as you want or make it as complex as you want. Remember its the weekend throw in a mimosa if you so desire. Make it healthy, make it greasy, make it light, make it heavy but just try to do it with someone else. If you dont have someone to share it with make yourself something you can pack and head to the park with a book and sit at a picnic table and eat it, just being outdoors will change it up for you. The idea is to appreciate weekend breakfast as more then just having to eat to stay civil to others. Try it just once if you hate it, at least you tried but I don't see how you could when the possibilities are endless. Do you have any favorite breakfast stories or memories??

Soul Food

Okay so these last few weeks have been crazy insane for me. I have had like zero free time and any few moments I have had to catch my breath, were spent feeling basically zombified It's funny when one area of your life becomes stressful, piece by piece things start to feel overwhelming.The majority of my pressures were coming from work but it's funny how stress can trickle into other areas of your life if you let it. Yadayadayada.....insert sad face here. Seriously though I was stressed. Which got me thinking how do people shake their stress? People de-stress in many different ways, some meditate, some do yoga, some run or jog or walk, others use music, or funny movies/shows. Some use sports, some shop, some drink, some of the real brave just work their way through it. I eat. I use food. I don't binge or over eat but I focus on my food. Also I should note during these trying times I rely heavily on home cooked food, not any old food will do. I decide what I want and then I think about it all day. I really focus on every aspect of the meal. It distracts my mind and fuels my soul. Generally I think about meals that take time to make, things that I can smell cooking for hours, but I don't discriminate any home cooked meal suits me just fine in these trying times. If you know me, then you know my weakness is P-A-S-T-A. Always has been and always will be. Even as a child. For our birthdays my mom would always ask me and siblings what we wanted for dinner as our special birthday dinner...(did your family do this too?) 9/10 times I would say spaghetti and it had to be with her homemade meat sauce. When my siblings birthdays would come around I would always try and coax them into answering the same, although they never did. As I got older I learned to make my own sauce and I learned to make it how I liked it, after many failed attempts I will add. Ryan was forced to eat many plates of pasta where the sauce was basically just water all over the plate, sauces where it tasted like a fresh tomato which sounds like it would be good but truuuuuuuuustttt me it isn't and then sauces that in fact I think left us with heartburn. Coming from an Italian family this must have been so hard for him, he was a trooper! Time and patience though paid off because after time I have mastered what is a great sauce to us. Ryan has mastered a sauce all of his own as well and nothing beats it. I guess our inspiration came from his Nonna and her homemade sauce. Very simple, smooth, homemade pasta sauce. Then when we want we can spice it up, add meats to it, add veggies to it, keep it simple, do as we please with it. My love doesn't stop there though, oh no, it grows. I don't have to have a tomato based sauce for me to shove my face full of pasta. Any simple olive oil pasta will do for me. Boil some of your favorite pasta, my favorite is penne but rigatoni is good as well. A trick I often use is I add a splash of olive oil to the water once it starts to boil instead of salt. Heat some olive oil in the frying pan or skillet, add whatever veggies you have on hand, some of my favorites are red onions, mushrooms, red and yellow peppers, asparagus, broccoli and whatever else I have on hand. Usually I will season them with some pepper, basil and light garlic. Once the pasta is ready(I like mine al dente) drain it and add to the pan with the oil and veggies, mix well. Sometimes at this point I will add some spinach and green olives if I have them. Another thing to note is sometimes I will add some Italian sausage, homemade is best made, or any other meat I have like chicken etc or just have salmon on the side and sometimes I just keep it vegan. Viola, a simple homemade pasta that fuels the soul!!!



Pasta will cheer me up anytime I am down, it will make me excited and giddy when I am happy, its my perfect go to on a rainy day. I simply could never live without it. Naturally during times of stress this is my main meal but even as much as I love it I cant eat it everyday. Well maybe I could but being an adult and all I have never tried. So some other home cooked meals that bring me peace are cabbage rolls, cabbage rolls are actually new to me. My moms family is European and cabbage rolls were a part of every holiday we had, I however, hated them! I couldn't stand cooked cabbage, I did like it raw but not cooked, then the idea of meat inside this cooked cabbage made me want to VOM. When I met Ryan he had casually mentioned to me once that one of his favorite things to eat was cabbage rolls. I played it off all cool like, but on the inside I was shaking. Oh no, what am I going to do, what if he wants me to make them, what if he wants me to eat them, what if his family makes them for me, oh I don't want to be rude. You know all the typical things that run through my neurotic mind. Not too long after I told him I really didn't like cabbage rolls because I didn't like the taste of cooked cabbage. So his mom had made them for his birthday and she so sweetly made me some of the mix and left it on the side....I still wasn't sold! Then one day when I was working an extremely long shift at work I called Ryan to see what he was up too, "making cabbage rolls" he so casually said, like this is totally natural and someone who has never made them before just all of a sudden decides to make them everyday. I told myself I would try them because I knew it was no easy task to make them. Guys, I am not kidding, best cabbage rolls in the world. He took pieces of his grandmas recipe and pieces of his moms and made his own super creation and I ate so many that night. It was a whole new world to me. The secret to his was how he boiled that cabbage, it was the perfect length of time to take away that cooked cabbage taste. My life has never been the same, we have since developed our own secret system to making them but its a combined team effort between the two of us and this just makes them all the more tasty to me. Few things bring me more comfort then a lazy Sunday and making cabbage rolls together. 


So all in all I would say food got me through these last few weeks. Not take out, not junk, not fast food, but homemade, soul food! Trying times will come and go in our lives and we can let it get the best of us or we can plow through it like the brave little soldiers we are, either way the sun will always shine again, and things will always get better. But when it feels like it wont, we can EAT! I love food and food loves me....what food fuels your soul??

Son of a peach!

http://www.heypeachy.com/restaurant/
Burlington is full of great little restaurants. My favorite area is a little village on Lakeshore near Brant St. with tons of different places to try. Let me start by saying this... Son of a peach is one my absolute favorite places in the whole world! We discovered it just over a year ago and I am so in love with it. It was totally at random that we went there. Fridays are long days for me at work, I usually work 10 hours with only a small break and generally I work Saturdays as well, so Friday nights are nothing special to me. In fact I am rarely excited that its Friday. One particular Friday, sometime last year Ryan picked me up from work and we headed to Burlington to get some dinner. We had planned on going somewhere else and were going to circle around so we could get parking when the words PIZZERIA jumped out at me from a glass window. My heart did a little flutter and I looked at Ryan and said "hmmm whats that?" We both instantly knew that any sign that said Pizzeria was a winner but we did the old "I don't know do you want to try it?" "hmmm, I don't know do you?" Upon entering you wait in the mini foyer to be seated, the place has 2 sides to it. On one side you have tables for 2, tables for 4 and a bar area, behind the bar area is where all the magic is made! You actually see the guys flipping the dough in the air and making the pizza right there! On the other side of the wall (there are 2 large entry points) are more tables and more space and slightly different decor.


We were seated on the side with the bar area and at a cute little table by the window for 2. The tables are octagon shaped and wooden with cute little rhino decorations and votive candles. Neither Ryan nor myself are big beer drinkers but that particular night we felt like having one so we asked our waiter what he recommended as a light beer. It was suggested we try the Amsterdam 3 Speed. Best beer I have ever had in my life! So light and easy to drink! 

Almost every time we go we have one now! Next thing is the menu! Simple and easy just the way I love it! Their menu changes depending on what is in season, although now that I am a "regular" I know that some menu items will always be on there.  They have appetizers and salads and wings and a burger but their main menu item is PIZZA. Our first time there we tried the wings and each got our own pizza. They have 2 sizes of pizzas a small and a large, get a large if you want to share and a small if you want it all to yourself, although with the small I always have some to take home as well. The first thing I noticed when they brought the wings out which came on small wooden cutting board and were accompanied by gourmet carrots drizzled in honey was how much love went into the food. It wasn't just thrown together and dropped in a basket, they were neatly arranged and even the side carrots were prepared with love. Its the details like that that win my heart and remind me of my love of food! The wings were cooked perfectly and each bite was heaven in my mouth! They were crispy but not burnt, didnt feel greasy, and there was a generous amount. We sipped our light beer and enjoyed every single bite! The pictures cant do it justice.

Next up was our pizza. We were a little concerned that we seemed like over eaters ordering 2 and we were worried they weren't going to fit on the table. The waiter assured us that they would fit and that lots of people order their own. The whole atmosphere there is so laid back and low key and casual that you always feel comfortable every time you go. The pizza is what won us over though. We love pizza, more then anything we love pizza. I developed this love thanks to Ryan and his homemade pizza(son of a peach is the best, but it doesn't beat his homemade) We like all pizza, but its hard for us to say we loved a pizza because of how high our standards are. Well Son of a Peach, you did it! It's the perfect mix of fluffy yet thin, the toppings are always fresh and always put on with love, its always topped with some fresh basil and it's baked to perfection. I can honestly say that night was the BEST date night, and the best Friday night in years. We have been back so many times since and every time we are there, we love it. Their salads are amazing as well, and their crispy cauliflower is delish!! Everything is done with love, and when food is prepared with love, it can never be wrong. All the details are what make it so special. The decor is so trendy and yet so comforting. The artwork is selected by the owners and they take pride in what goes on their walls. The servers and cooks are all so nice and easy going and all know what they are doing. It was featured on "you gotta eat here" and chef Roger Mooking has been there and is featured on their Instagram @sonofapeachpizzeria page. Its an amazing place with an amazing feel and I will never grow tired of it! I try not to talk about price too much because one persons idea of expensive can be very different from another persons, but Son of a Peach isn't cheap in price that I can say but they aren't overly expensive either. I feel they charge for what you get and I don't mind paying for fresh, quality food. Typically Ryan and I can get an appetizer or 2 and 2 drinks and 2 pizzas and usually come in around or just under $100. Well worth it for the experience we have when we are there! I love this place, I love the decor, I love the food, I love the city it is in and I love PIZZA! 






    


Hambrgr!

 Ottawa street in Hamilton is widely known for many different reasons. Maybe it's all the little shops, maybe it's the farmers market that is open every weekend or perhaps it's the wall art that is beautifully painted on buildings. For me it's the fact that over the past couple years there have been some new restaurants hitting the scene. Literally right around the corner from me and for years I took that for granted. This past #sundayfunday Ryan and I went to a new hamburger place called Hambrgr! (This place was featured on "you gotta eat here")To start, while I love food and almost like everything when it comes to hamburgers I am...lets just say fussy. We had finally found a burger we both liked in a place called FIVE GUYS(burgers and fries) while there Ryan was chatting with the guy that worked there and he had mentioned that an awesome burger was at a new place called Hambrgr on Ottawa St! That sealed the deal for me, I had been curious about IT for a while and once given a recommendation I knew I had to try it. Saturday night we thought it would be fun to go, well apparently so did all of Hamilton because people were lined up out the door and down the street. Well I love food and food loves me and I basically have zero patience when it comes to waiting for a table! Knowing that my mean side would soon show its face we decided to skip the hamburgers and settle for something else. Sunday when I woke up I knew it was going down!!So early Sunday we scanned the menu before leaving the house(that's totally normal right?) and off we went. Out front there were a few people sitting on the outside patio and no line up which was great. I was surprised to see the inside, it isn't large by any means but it's more roomy then I thought for sure. It's darkly lit and the radio is loud giving it that pub feeling. The walls are brick and most tables are pub height although a lot of people were sitting around the bar as well. I was surprised when taking a closer look at the menu at the amount of choices they have. Our super friendly waitress started us off with a beer, we both went for a blonde lager(and actually it was disgusting) but we drank it anyways...Ryan spotted some tower of onion rings thing someone else was eating and decided to go with that as his appie, while I went with the crispy cauliflower. 

The onions rings were delish, but the cauliflower was out of this world amazing. Finally for our burgers(they have some great choices) Ryan went for the good old classic burger with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, ketchup and mustard. I went with the Italian Stallion with panko crusted mozzerlla, dry cured pepperoni, tomato jam and pesto aioli. 


We also wanted to try their fries so we decided to share an order of their bbq fries. If I'm being honest I was slightly full already after our appetizers but I still found room to eat half my burger. A few bites into that stallion I knew that burger was the perfect burger for somebody but that somebody wasn't me. First off there was nothing wrong with it at all, the toppings were unique and very generous and it was actually almost like a pizza burger. The crusted mozzarella reminded me of a hash brown but then I remembered it was cheese. It was messy and greasy but everything a real burger lover would love.  I looked over at Ryan's Classic with big eyes and a smirk and like a gentleman he asked if I wanted to switch, so we did. A few bites into his Classic and I realized it wasn't as well done as I like my burgers so I gave him that look and we switched again. This time he suggested I take some of the pepperoni off my burger and perhaps I would like it more. Indeed that helped! The fries were delish and I fit as many in as I could before reaching the point of turning into one. We got through most of our burgers and finished our beers. Burger lovers will love it! We will take all the people we know that like burgers there to try it. More often then not we don't eat greasy foods but when we do we have to love it to crave it again. Next time we go together  we will go for just the appetizers because they were winners, as for our burgers, five guys still has our hearts!http://hambrgr.ca/menu-ottawa

Body Image

 



Do you remember the very first time you felt insecure about your appearance? Was it a comment that was made? A comparison to someone else? An image that you saw? Maybe a sibling or a classmate? Whatever it was, I betcha you remember it! Society makes it near impossible to feel 100% confident in our own skin all of the time, and if you do, I want to know your secret(s) please?? We compare ourselves and we say this persons pretty or that guy is a hot dude, but how often do we compliment ourselves? If we are tall we wish we were shorter, if we are short we want to be taller, if we are skinny we get called "string bean" if we are bigger we get called "fat" or chunky" or "big boned"...."oh she isn't fat shes just big boned" If we have brown eyes we want green, if we have green we want blue...Its a never ending cycle, the list goes on and on. Where does this come from? Did people 100 years ago have the same worries, or was life easier then in that aspect? I have often wondered this. I am an 80's baby and grew up in the 90's. We had teen magazines then and shows like Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210. Yes, typically the stars of those shows were considered "beautiful" at least according to societies standards but somehow looking back things seemed easier then on us teens and preteens. Perhaps its because everything was slightly more PG then it is now. We didn't have cell phones or ipads or laptops. We played outside and went for bike rides and had to be inside the house when the streetlights came on in the evening. Yes there were bad people in the world but for the most part, kids were safe in the neighbourhood. Kids were allowed to just be kids. Now tweens are bombarded with so many different things. Social media images, magazines, electronic devices, all with just the swipe of a finger and all I can do is shake my head. Everywhere I look there are images that in my days would have been considered XXX-rated. It makes me sad.

I love food, and food loves me. I love smelling food, thinking about food, seeing food, imagining creative presentations for plates, cooking food, trying different foods, asking other people what they like. Naturally this also means I love to eat. As a kid I loved to eat. My passion for food wasn't as strong as it is now, but somewhere in there it existed and looking back it was more evident then anyone realized. In my mom's kitchen I used to dress up and perform my own cooking shows. There was a show on tv called Wok with Yan, the host was Stephan Yan. He was my absolute FAV!!! I watched every episode I could. I would pretend I was Stephen Yan in my kitchen and talk to the "audience" as I made some concoction on the stove (that was turned off of course) with a pot of water and salt and pepper! I know cheeser right! Just slightly shameful. I loved sweets and I loved fruit and veggies. Homemade was best made to me! Not much has changed although I no longer talk to an audience when cooking(at least not when Ryan is home) and my concoctions are a little more elaborate then water and salt and pepper, and on a good day I am allowed to have the heat on the stove....In all seriousness though I have always loved food. I have NEVER been a diet girl. Friends would say they were going on a diet and my initial silent thought would always be "but whyyyyyyyyyyyy" With this being said I was also never considered overweight. My body changed throughout the years, I carried some "babyfat" with me until I was about 14 and then I slimmed down and basically weighed the same amount until I hit about 33. People would always make comments they thought were innocent to me like "oh your so tiny" "skinny minnie" "nothing to ya" and I would giggle and smile it off. This is should be a compliment right? Well the second you put on a few more pounds, like say 5; people stop saying that, your jeans feel slightly snug and shirts that were once baggy now become to embarrassingly tight to wear. All of a sudden an insecurity sets in..."Am I fat, should I go on a diet?" Well that question last all of 15 minutes and then it gets thrown out the window and stomped on. I would never ever last on a diet. Rules about eating, who am I kidding. I am no quitter that's for sure, so why start something I know with upmost confidence I would never finish?? This is not to say that I shove my face full of food every second of everyday, but I eat when I am hungry and I eat what my body wants. I nourish with healthy fruits and veggies every single day, and I eat lean meats most days, although yes I do love steak here and there. I will admit to overeating my carbs but that's a whole other blog, but overall I have a fairly balanced diet. I also treat myself to snacks. Sometimes these are healthy snacks, like nuts or seeds in proper portions but sometimes I have a chocolate bar, or a piece of cake and I never say "just a small slice please" If I feel like it, I eat it! So diet is out the window for me and people don't call me tiny anymore? Big deal. I am healthy, I am a healthy weight for my height, yes I could benefit from a few sit ups but who has the time with all the eating there is to do? This is not to say I don't have insecurities I do, believe me and just ask Ryan, I do! I have my days where nothing fits right, nothing looks good and I would rather just stay home, but overall I am in a good place.



To think this all started because people used to call me tiny....no insults or derogatory terms about my weight they just called me tiny and then they stopped. SO I have made it my mission to try not to talk to anyone about their appearance. Especially not young ones. Instead of telling them they are beautiful lets tell them they are smart, or funny or wise or witty. Lets focus on things that have nothing to do with our outsides and build people up on the inside so they can shine on the outside. We are all made different, its what makes humans so beautiful. Its our flaws that set us apart, makes us different. Lets embrace them and try to love the skin we are in and love others for the skin they are in. Lets teach the young that appearance is such a small part of who we are. Lets learn and teach to love ourselves so we can fully love others the way we were always intended to do. Enjoy your passions and take part in others, who knows you might even learn something about yourself doing it. I challenge you to compliment yourself once a day for 60 days straight and to compliment someone else everyday for 60 days straight and see how you feel at the end of it. Start today....xoxoxo

Common Ground

 

I love food and food loves me...I mean really we are in love! Its so much more for me then just filling my belly(although that's pretty awesome too!) There are 3 basic meals throughout the day and then lots of fillers in between. Most busy adults don't actually have a full 3 meals on schedule day in and day out, time just doesn't always allow for it, often we just eat when we are hungry. With that being said we do typically follow some guidelines. As an example on most occasions we wouldn't eat, I don't know say mashed potatoes in the morning(although, I am sure I have probably done this at least once) and its not too common that we would have a salad as a bedtime snack, again maybe you have? The point is, toast and cereal are generally considered a breakfast item with salads and sandwiches being common for lunch and those mashed potatoes most commonly find their way to your dinner table. Its universal among humankind. What we pick as fillers or in between is where we would see the most variations but the common ground being most of us(even the healthiest among us) usually have something. This is true for all genders, all races, all religions, all people and probably even some pets. So why am I pointing this out? Well in a time when we are working so hard for equality across the board its nice to realize that we do all have some common ground and for me I always see that as FOOD. As you get to know me better you will know there are many reasons I love food and this is just one of such a long list! One of my most favorite movies in the world is Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts. Truth be told, this movie did not receive the highest reviews. At least not according to IMDB...pffft. This movie meant so much to me for so many many reasons. Please watch it, if only to appreciate all the beautiful meals Julia Roberts (who plays Liz Gilbert) indulges in. I mean the scene where she is alone eating the spaghetti outside on a perfect little terrace! This made my stomach rumble watching, but the message was so much more. She was alone with her thoughts, treating herself, enjoying some light reading material and at one with herself savouring each and every single bite(or in her case, slurp) I wish every meal could mean as much to me as that one meal meant to her. She points this out again when she makes herself breakfast(I want you to see this for yourself) She meets a beautiful young woman from Sweden in a cafe ordering a cappuccino and the two immediately strike a friendship. They take a day trip to Naples to try some pizza at L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele(mouth watering right now) that is supposed to be the worlds best. While there her girlfriend Sofi played by Tuva Novotny, raises some concerns about some recently acquired "muffin top" that she has.  Julia aka Liz responds in such a way that will stick with me for life. The basic point she was making was that while she had no desire to become obese, she would continue her new found relationship with food and in fact go buy some bigger jeans if need be and they actually do just that! I think this may be when I realized this could possibly be one of my most favorite movies. It focuses on 3 major places, Rome, Delhi and Bali.  This film is about self discovery, self love, happiness, spirituality, religion, friendship, family, love. Its everything each and every one of us desires, strives and lives for. Guess where it all starts? You got it, with FOOD!! What is your favorite food movie?

Jacksons Landing

So, I have been trying a lot of boards  lately…meat boards, cheese boards even a steak board(watch for that blog in the future) but something about this board takes the cake. It was the kind of day where the weather was just right and I got that wave of summer come over me, the kind that instantly brightens your mood and leaves you craving adventure…well for me adventure almost always involves  food! Jacksons Landing in Burlington http://thelandinggroup.ca/jacksons-landing/ has had my attention for some time now, and finally I was able to see what it was all about. They consider themselves a “Bar Grill and Hub” From the outside you are greeted with a brick building, and 2 glass doors surrounded with wood, on your left hand side you see 3 large glass garage doors. In the winter and poor weather these doors are closed and act as windows in the summer they are wide open. Upon entering the first thought that came to my mind was rustic/industrial. Brick, stone, and wood. A beautiful wine display and very modern hanging industrial light fixtures. Our greeter was pleasant and asked us if we preferred indoor or patio upstairs. We chose indoors and actually requested a table by the garage doors. Turns out we got the best of both worlds! Seated indoors with a gigantic window with no screen directly beside us, hair blowing in the wind I took a second to let it all in. Yup this place was worth the visit! We were there for lunch so it was not overly crowded and was a mixture of all ages, some couples, some buddies and even a grandma with her 2 adult grandsons.  Our server, who was also working as the bartender approached us quickly and asked if he could get us started with some drinks. Their drink menu was actually very extensive and we needed some time with it, so we asked to start with some sparkling water. To our amazement, they make their own sparkling water there which comes in a large Jacksons Landing water bottle, how fun! To go with our meal I decided on a Sangria (seeing as how it was such a fun summery afternoon) and Ryan went with the 30oz Stein of Amsterdam Blonde(who knew it would be sooooooo big?) They have different menus for lunch and dinner, we were only given the lunch menu. With this new fascination with boards we decided to try their Artisanal Platter, and then share a Chicken Club Sandwich and a Landing Salad. Our server started us off with the platter. Well the chief brought it to our table and gave us a complete rundown of what was included…Grapes, Fiji Apples, Niagara Prosciutto, House Pork Tenderloin, Apricot Mostardo, Three different cheeses, Pickled vegetables, Focaccia bread, and Pate(chicken liver pate) The presentation was so beautiful! As much as I love food, I am not a big Pate girl and especially not a chicken liver pate. Ryan being in a spontaneous mood, decided to try it…I watched in amazement as he ate it. When I met him he was a Meat and Potato kind of guy and here he was trying chicken liver pate. 2 bites in he decided it wasn’t for him, but it didn’t matter he was already the hero of the day! This board was, to date, the best board I have ever had. Most boards mainly focus on one thing(meat, cheeses etc) but this one was a wonderful mix of everything and it all paired so well together! We took our time enjoying each bite and letting the sun warm our cheeks. It was an experience to remember. Next came our chicken club and salad. The salad was a beautiful spring mix with apples, cheese, sunflower seeds and a nice light dressing. Perfect refresher for summer! The club sandwich was on Focaccia bread as well and the chicken was a roasted citrus blend. By the end of the meal I could not fit in another bite if I tried. They were quick to clear our table and allow us to finish our drinks. Ryan didn’t stand a chance finishing that beer, although I must say he did well! My sangria went down nicely though! I was on cloud nine when we left as the entire experience was so fun! I plan to go back once more, for dinner this time, before the summer is over and try out the upstairs patio!

Smoked Meats

A little while back Ryan’s Stepdad bought a meat smoker, he had smoked some ribs and gave us some to try. We instantly realized this was a taste we had never experienced before. When trying smoked meat for the first time it turns out its actually not something you can really put into words or describe. It left me with that deer in headlights kind of look. Naturally I vowed then and there that I must try it again. This weekend was a hectic weekend with Saturday being completely tied up with a to do list….boring. Sunday Ryan was out golfing all day and by early evening I was feeling blah..Lucky me, when he got home he said “get dressed I am taking you out” Knowing this meant FOOD I bolted off the couch and threw on my best Sunday night casual dinner clothes(Jeans a black long sleeve shirt, and black flip flops) Sometimes we drive around for half an hour before thinking of where to eat(its not always pre planned, in fact, rarely it is) This particular day we were so caught up in conversation about his day golfing that we just drove and drove until eventually we were in the country (to us city folk anyway) and passing by Memphis Fire BBQ.http://www.memphisfirebbq.com/#home) I knew right away this is exactly what was perfect for this kind of day. Normally during the day I prefer to sit indoors but this particular evening was perfect for the patio. Their patio is a mixture of standard size and 2 person picnic benches. We were seated at the 2 person bench.  Their menu was extensive and posed a few options that I was interested in, and as usual after a couple minutes Ryan and I look at each other and say “know what you want?” I was tossed between the wings or the ribs so we decided to get both and share! The server was pleasant and knowledgeable about the menu. The food came fairly quick and the presentation was amazing. I got that happygiddyyahme kind of feeling right away. While eating I discovered a few things: 1. I’m still up in the air about smoked meats, its a taste that I cant quite decide on 2. Sunday’s are made better by sharing food and conversation with good company 3. Its always a wise idea to carry wetnaps  with you….

SO how would I rate the restaurant..well it lives up to its hype! It truly is an amazing smoked meats place, they also have salads and fun sides like Mac N Cheese and Poutines, its casual, laid back and left us with no complaints even if the jury is still out on the smoked meat front!