Autumn Bliss

September.  One of my favourite months of the year.  (No, it’s not just because my birthday’s on the 20th.)

I love the fall.  It is, without a doubt, my favourite season.

The fall colours at Northern Edge are the best Canada has to offer…  Beautiful and bold reds, yellows, and oranges as far as the eye can see…  Happens right around September 26th.

September is also the time for back to school…  Something I always enjoyed and looked forward to.  This year, I begin my official studies in the field of Archaeology.  It’s taken some time to do the official turnaround, but this is now a bigger dream than the one I originally pursued…  This year is going to be especially special for a number of reasons:

1.  One of my best friends from highschool has moved in to our beautiful condo…  Not only that – she’s in one of my classes!

2.  I get to learn both Latin and Ancient Greek.  I imagine my studies will go a lot better when I’m actually really interested to learn them.

3.  It’s a secret! Shhh!  But it involves my Twin Sisters.  Hint:  They are **** ********!!

4.  I’m taking classes at St George campus for the first time!

5.  I get a free 30 point car checkup at Volkswagen :)

6.  I’ve already scheduled my training sessions at the gym, first one being Monday.  So excited to get back into it!

7.  This fall…  iOS 7 comes out!  (rumours suggest… right on my birthday!)

8.  This fall… a super secret episode of a certain web series that I was in will be aired!

9.  I’m not sure what else… but it’s going to be good.

One of the best parts of fall is the outfits.  I love the colours people tend to wear and the light jackets and the scarves!  If there is ever a reason to go out in the fall.. it’s because you can dress it up.

I haven’t actually posted all summer…  I’m sorry about that.  I did have some excellent adventures.  Some of my favourites included:

- River and Sky music festival
- Hiking the Tower Trail (again)
- Gentlemen of the Road
- Paddleboard Stargazing
- The Perseids
- Friends visiting!

And honestly, Tim, you could have written a great blog post about each one.
I swear I’m being active.  I just keep forgetting to write about it…  Some of my awesome paddleboard photography below:

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Puerto Plata, Dominican

On my recent S-Trip! trip to Puerto Plata, I had the opportunity to take some pictures and write a guest blog post for them!

Check out the blog post here!

Links to pics from the post.


How to make a gourmet vegetarian (or vegan) sandwich:

I find a lot of new vegetarians and vegans don’t realise they can still eat delicious sandwiches.  I’m here to tell you, you really don’t need lunch meats or sliced cheese to make an amazing sandwich.  In fact, if you have the fixings to make a salad..  you can make a good sandwich out of all the same things!  (Anybody got another word for sandwich?  My built-in thesaurus is only suggesting “light lunch.”)  I’m serious though.  Right down to the salad dressing, all that food is delicious wedged between two slices of bread.  Here’s are some great sandwich ideas:

The “at-home” Lunch:

Step one:  Buy the good bread at the grocery store.  I’m talking a nice dark rye (pre-sliced..  I suppose you could get it fresh but then I’m just tempted to dip it in spinach dip.)

I got myself some pumpernickel.

Step two:  sauce.  I put a very thin layer of mayo on my bread.  If you are vegan, I definitely recommend hummus instead.  I would have done both mayo and hummus, but there is no hummus in the house right now.  As I said earlier, a good salad dressing is great too!

Step three: veg.  Put a nice layer of baby spinach (if you don’t have a container of pre-washed and selected baby spinach in your house right now.. go get one!  You can toss these in sandwiches, stir frys, pasta, etc… Amazing and simple!), chop up a tomato and layer it in, slice some cucumber and put a layer of it, same with peppers, avocado if you like it (great protein and all good fats,) and I even had some artichoke hearts leftover from a pizza party to throw on.

Optional step four: close the sandwich and toast it up in the toaster oven.  (Or in the panini press, if you’re awesome like that.)

Sandwich

“The Subway”:

Man, I would love to share my favourite sub.  I usually order a veggie delight on Italian, and ask them to cut it the “old way.”  The old way is how Subway cut their subs in the 90′s, and I’m assuming before that as well.  I always say it tastes better, but I suppose to be accurate I will say it is more satisfying. Old Subway employees will usually know what you want when you ask for this – I had one woman tell me she wishes she could suggest the cut to customers ordering meatball subs (much less mess,) but she isn’t allowed to mention it unless asked for it specifically.  Unfortunately, Subway no longer trains their newer employees on how to make the cut.  I don’t feel confident in my abilities to teach this to you through text and pictures, but ask me some time in person and I will.  I love teaching a new Subway employee the cut, because I know they will know how to do it for future orders and I am doing my deed for the small community of folks who still prefer the old cut.

I always skip the cheese on this sub.  Usually, I will ask if I can have some of the breakfast egg- delicious and great for protein on a veggie sub.  In smaller towns, they don’t have a problem doing this, but in the city there are rules about serving egg after 11am.  ? ? ?  I know.  It’s because it’s a “breakfast sandwich” item.  Anyway, if you can score some egg after 11 – enjoy and be greatful!  (I’m not talking egg salad here.  I’m talking the baked egg circles.)  If you also managed to get it cut the old way, tell them they will need to cut the eggs in half for them to work with the old cut, because they won’t be folding over the same way.

Veggies:  Lettuce, Onion, Tomato, Cucumber . . . I’m sure everyone has their own veggie preferences so I won’t go into too much detail here.  Do what you want.  One time they even had some sliced carrot for me but I haven’t seen it again.

Sauce: I always do mayo and sub sauce.  I haven’t swayed from that in years…  it goes great with the egg.  Again, if vegan, skip the mayo.  I have heard the chipotle is also really good.

I usually do not toast my subway sandwiches.

Man, treat yourself to some white macadamia nut cookies.

The “Buffet Style”:

Staying at a resort or something with a regular buffet?  They have a panini press but only sliced meats and cheeses as options?  Let me help you out.  First, grab some of the bread they are using.  If it’s behind the counter, ask for it.  If they are being stingy, grab some bread from the other bread area… A roll or something maybe?

Go to the salad bar.  Choose a salad dressing and spread it out over one of the bread pieces.  Optional: A second dressing on the other piece.  Now, go around the salad bar and choose some delicious toppings to add in.  If things aren’t quite cut right for a sandwich- you can always grab a knife and pare it down.

Try going around and seeing what else there is to add.  There might be some guacamole or salsa in the taco area, or tofu in the stir fry section that would be perfect.

Be wary of the panini press!  I once made a delicious sandwich in this situation, only to have the panini machine press a piece of sliced meat into the top of my bread.  I was not impressed, and made a new one to eat fresh.  Fresh is always good.

I hope you feel you have some options now, especially if you didn’t before.  Sandwiches are amazing and I would hate for you to be missing out on them!


Gratuities or Gratitude

Today I’m going to talk about something that lots of people have some mixed views over.  Don’t hate me.

Is the tipping culture one of gratitude? Or is it one of obligation?  Which should it really be?

I’m seeing a lot of posts lately about tipping your servers at a restaurant.  Lots of servers are using social media to express the fact they don’t get paid much and rely on their tips.  For me, this raises a huge question about the restaurant industry and how sustainable it is.

First, let me take a look at the tip.  What is a gratuity, really?  It’s right in the name.  A gratuity is a way for someone to express their gratitude over exceptional service.  If I am paying a contractor to renovate my kitchen and he or she goes above and beyond my expectations, I’m going to consider adding a little extra in the form of a tip, to thank them for their exemplary service.  If I am staying at an all-inclusive resort and I eat a delicious crepe made fresh by the same man three times a day, I am for sure going to tip him.

If I go on a tour and the guide does his or her job, but doesn’t ever make me feel special or go out of their way to make sure I’m going to have a good time, I’m not going to tip them.

Tipping isn’t a requirement in any other situation in the world, but when it comes to the servers in restaurants, it suddenly becomes a touchy subject.

Whenever I go to a restaurant with a friend who has been a waiter or waitress, they usually try to remind me to tip.  This is because they know how little the servers are being payed.  Why is that?  Does the restaurant industry assume they will be able to live off their tips and not pay them enough because of it?  Does the restaurant simply not make enough money to pay their employees properly?  If this is the case, there is a serious problem in the way that restaurant is run.

My friend Nadia has been living in Australia for a number of years.  Last summer, she came back to visit and my sister and I went out to eat with her.  At this restaurant, we did not have good service.  This lead to a conversation about tips.  In Australia, apparently, servers are payed what they deserve from the restaurant.  Yes, the food is sometimes a little more expensive to cover it, but it all works out fairly.  If you give someone a tip over there for taking your order and bringing you food, they will be surprised.  In some cases, they might even think you were coming on to them, and at the very least they would be extremely thankful.  They don’t feel they deserve a tip.

My personal philosophy is that I only tip when I do recieve amazing service.  Luckily for those who wait on me, I’m the sort of person who always looks on the bright side and sees the best in everyone.  Therefore, more often than not, I do end up tipping.  There are certainly times, however, when I do not tip.  If you don’t receive a tip from me, it’s not a bad thing.  It just means you didn’t make me feel special or amazing- which really isn’t in your job description so that’s all right.  Your paycheck comes from your boss, not your customers.  If you have a problem with not being payed enough, please bring it to your boss and not to the person who didn’t tip you.

For those servers reading this, please understand that you have an option here!  Let’s take back the way these restaurants are run.  I care for you, and I want you to demand what you deserve– better hourly wages.  Your tips should be extra- they shouldn’t be something you are living off of.  It is so sad that is the case.  Let’s change it.

Fellow customers, what can you do?  As sad as it is to say, I think tipping less will help the situation in the long run.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the servers right now, so I am not telling you to stop tipping.  Find reasons to tip- show your gratitude to the people who give you great service, and if you don’t feel you got great service, don’t feel obligated to tip.  If you do tip, tell your server why, thank them personally while tipping them.

Share this message in your own words.  Comment your thoughts below!  What are your views on the subject?  Are there times you tip or don’t tip?

Let’s start a culture of gratitude, rather than one of obligation.


How grocery shopping can make you feel great!

I’ve finally got my exercise in gear.  Finally, I’m at the point where I really feel it if I miss my daily workout, and I’m almost addicted to the gym.  Perfect.  What’s not perfect?  My eating happens have been degenerating.  In the Dominican, I ate some really good avocado sandwiches, and when I came home I realised that the standard pasta dinner wasn’t doing it for me at all anymore.  I realised I feel unfulfilled when I eat something like that… so I eat more to try and fill whatever in me is searching.  I end up just overeating and feeling sick.

Yesterday morning, Mackenzie approached me about shopping in the afternoon.

“You better be ready to go at 5:30 sharp because I have stuff to do tonight!” she said.  Through the day, I took the time to do some reading and thinking about different recipes and foods I want to try.  Someone recently suggested to me the idea of using coconut water in smoothies in place of milk, and I LOVE that idea.  So, I made a list:

Kale, Celery, Tomatoes, Oranges, Apples, Cinnamon sticks, Almonds, Cucumber, Spinach, Yoghurt, Coconut Water, Fresh Ginger, Bok Choi, Avocado, Carrots, Banana, Firm (pre-marinated) Tofu, Red, Orange, and Yellow Peppers, Dried Cranberries, Melon, Dried pineapple, Grapes, nice Rye bread (oh yeah, we splurged,) Asian stir fry noodles & sauce, etc . . .

Mackenzie complained that a healthy grocery shop would be more expensive, and that’s why people buy unhealthy things, but she was okay with it because she gave up treats for lent.

We did not buy: Kraft dinner, Pasta, Perogies, Cookies, etc…  in fact, we were constantly comparing health values for everything we got.  Fortino’s also stepped it up for us– they had handy little health charts all over the place so you could compare different veggies and such, and figure out what the healthiest options were.

When we got home, I chopped up the kale and put it in a tupperware.  I chopped the celery and carrots and put them in a big container with water.  I made everything as easy as possible to use.  I cleaned the grapes and put half in the fridge, half in the freezer.  Then, we made a delicious stir fry.  We’re addicted- this is probably the fifth one we’ve made, but this time I put in Bok Choi and Tofu and Celery, all new additions.

Today, I made a delicious smoothie using a banana, some kale (really easy since it was pre-prepared the night before!) coconut water, my protein powder which is a healthy one, and some frozen strawberries and peaches.  It was probably one of the most delicious smoothies I’ve ever made, and also one of the healthiest.  And here I make smoothies regularly.

I’ll share a little recipe I picked up a while ago- I’ve committed now to using my juice jug for this instead of juice, and hopefully that will take away some of my daily calorie intake!

Chop up two apples and put them in a jug with two cinnamon sticks.  Sprinkle some lemon juice to help them last longer, then, fill the jug with water.  Let it soak, and then pour yourself some of the water.  Optional: add some cucumber slices.  You can refill the water jug a couple times over before replacing the apples/cinnamon!

This drink tastes great, has all the benefits of drinking water, is a cleanser, is zero calories, and boosts your metabolism!  Try it!

In other news, Mackenzie just showed me this awesome website where you can take University courses online for free, and print off your transcript of what you’ve taken and stuff.  There are some really cool courses and I think I might take some of them!  www.coursera.org

My post about the Punta Cana is on the way.  It was an amazing experience and I’m trying to streamline my writing about it!


Daring to Dream

This time of year is a great time for dreaming.  Making plans, changing your life.  This is, I think, where New Years Resolutions are derived from.  This year especially, we have entered into a new era with the end of 2012 and all that came with it– everything we dream for ourselves now is more powerful than at any other time.

I would like to recommend an activity- this is something that is personal, but can be done in the company of your loved ones…  Invite them to do the same and you can all live this year the way you truly dream you can.

This is a little tradition my mom and I do every year around this time.  If you’ve ever heard of The Secret or The Power of Positive Thinking, it rests on the same principals:  gratitude, dreams, and putting it all out there.  We choose this time of year because it is best for dreaming and manifesting your dreams, but you can of course do it any time.

So, get out your journal, (or if you are me, your word document because you tend to not be as thorough in your writing if you have to do it all by hand.)  Next year, around this time again, pull out that journal or word document and read everything you dreamed for yourself.  I guarantee much of it will have come true!  Keep doing this every year.  Some dreams take a little longer to manifest, but three years down the road you might realize that something you wrote here did come true after all.


Dare To Dream 2013

Gratitude for 2012
Each New Year we have an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, take inventory, and dream of what it is we wish for ourselves and the earth. A good place to begin is to acknowledge with Gratitude all the gifts we received during the year.
1. What gifts have you received in 2012?

Dream List 2013
The universe supports us as we take the time to be clear on our intentions. I invite you to take some time to dig within and discover your dreams.

1. What would I like to have happen in my life this year?
2. What would I like to do – things I want to accomplish?
3. What areas of growth would I like to focus on?
4. What beliefs or attitudes would I like to change?
5. What problems would I like to see resolved?
6. What decisions would I like to make?
7. Where/how can I be of service to others? The planet?
8. What would I like to do in a new way?
9. What didn’t work well in my life this year that I would like to change?
10. What did work well in my life that I would like to continue?

My Action Plan
From the Dream List choose 3 or more goals/dreams that are the most important to you right now. Write them as though they are happening NOW!

For each of those goals, answer the question:
1. What is the first step I am taking to move myself closer to this goal?

Cleaning the Closet
Before starting new projects in our lives, it is important to make room for them. Consider these questions:

1. Is there anything that is depleting me that no longer serves me?
2. Is there anything I need to let go of?
3. Do I need to forgive someone in my life or myself?

You may wish to do a small ceremony to help you let go of what you have listed here.

May this upcoming year be all that you dream it to be!


My Favourite LOST Characters… and why I love them.

In no particular order:  (ps..  possible spoilers as I talk about the whys.)

Charlotte Lewis.  Why?  She’s a badass ginger archeologist who grew up in the Dharma Initiative.  Love her.

 

Ben.  Why?  I don’t actually know…  he’s really likeable in the flash sideways episodes, and even though he’s an asshole he loves his daughter.

 

Alex Rousseau – Why?  She fights for her boyfriend and is always really nice and helps people.

 

Claire Littleton – Why?  She’s fun, cute, and fierce when you cross her.  Also her accent.

 

Juliet Burke.  Why?  I don’t know exactly, but I just want her to be happy and bake muffins without burning them and live with Sawyer and find the cure for having babies.

 

Daniel Faraday – Why?  He’s a genius, he’s just trying to save the world with his genius, and his mother shoots him before he is born.

 

Shannon Rutherford – Why?  She starts out a selfish bitch and finishes as a worthy, likeable, caring soul.  Her transformation is amazing.

 

Desmond Hume – Why?  Him and Penny are just a beautiful story and he’s so passionate about her.  But also, he gave up getting back to her so he could continually save the world over and over again.  Awwww.

 

Ana Lucia – Why?  Because she makes an amazing leader, she killed the bastards who killed her unborn baby, and her death is really sad.  I wonder what future seasons would have been like if she had lived.

 

Libby.  Why?  She falls in love with Hugo, regardless of his mass.

 

Richard Alpert.  Why?  He’s immortal and his origin story explains one of the bigger mysteries.

 

Sun and Jin.  There are so many great couples in this show, but these two are the only ones who both make it into my list!  At first you think Jin is an a-hole but once you get to know them, they become a star couple.

 

And finally..  My least favourite character of the entire series:  John Locke.

I wanted him to die in season one.  He finally gets shot in season 3, but unfortunately lives through it.  Then, when he FINALLY dies in season 4, (or was it 5?) he COMES BACK TO LIFE.  Such a bastard.  Not even going to dignify him with a picture.

So why did I write this post?  I’m not really sure…  I just love LOST and am rewatching randomized episodes right now and remembering how much I love these people.


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