Life · Uncategorized

Things That Make Me Happy

A few weeks ago, I stopped my job hunt and decided to settle into a routine with my remote work and to take on a larger course load with school. Having spent so many months in limbo, often overexcited or worried about one interview or the next, and feeling as though my entire life routine and even place/city of residence could suddenly change, I didn’t take a lot of time to just enjoy life. Now that I know that for the next year or so, this will be my life, and I will not need to look for another job, I can just settle into this and focus on everything good.

I can’t describe what a relief this realization has been; I feel like I can stop waiting to live and just live now. And this post is a list/celebration of the simple, accessible things that bring me joy.

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— A good hike with friends. I stipulate “with friends” because I recently had an awkward experience with a member from a Meetup hiking group—generally things were fine with them, though, so this is not meant to reflect badly on the website. I love hiking and getting out in nature. Depending on the season, the same trails can look completely different, and the Bruce Trail in Ontario has over 880 Km, so exploring new sections is a favourite hobby. Winter hiking is an especially satisfying experience. I feel twice as adventurous going out when it’s snowing outside (though if you plan to do the same, please read about safety and don’t go alone).

— Writing dates with myself! I’m genuinely surprised I like this one so much, but it’s true. I feel so, so good going to a coffee shop and working on my creative writing project. I am working on a story outline, but it’s been getting pushed back because it seems like there’s always something else to do. Home is just not a place where I can leverage my focus when it comes to things I don’t have to do, unlike studying or work. Well, it turns out that going to a coffee shop does the trick; it’s just so official, and once I’m there, I can focus on my project with abandon, without feeling like there’s something else I should look up or do. It feels like I’m taking time for myself, even though it’s productive time, and finishing this project would be a win professionally and personally.

—Meditating after a Tone it Up workout (and the Tone it Up workout). Hear me out! I don’t have a gym membership, and no fancy exercise equipment (I own a Weslo bike I bought two years ago for $120 CAD and some dumbbells and a yoga mat). The Tone it Up app subscription runs at about $12 CAD per month, and it offers so much. There are daily workouts that are 20–30 minutes long, and daily and weekly schedules. In addition to that, there are guided meditations available. Sometimes I’ll go a few days without working out with my TIU trainers, and I forget how amazing I feel after one of their workouts. The combination of the vocal encouragement and the exercise moves leaves me feeling like I’ve taken a plunge into a pool of endorphins and drank it all. To turn on one of their 10-minute guided meditations after that and enhance that feeling is amazing. It’s definitely the type of thing that can turn the day around for me; the hardest part is convincing myself to actually go for the workout on those days (they’re not always easy!).

—Salads and protein smoothies because they represent the purest, truest form of self-care to me. It’s true that positive/constructive self-talk and a good attitude are realistically even more important to me, but I feel a nagging sense of pride eating a salad. And as someone who eats a lot of salads and drinks a lot of smoothies, it’s weird that I STILL get this feeling every single time. But it’s been years, and the magic is still alive. That probably has something to do with why I keep going back to my super green, super “earthy” tasting smoothies. I feel like I’ve won a competition when I eat well, and that’s a positive feeling of joy that nothing else other than winning an actual competition can give me.

—Mindful Youtube or Netflix watching. That little adjective at the beginning of this is SO important. Here’s a little tid-bit on me: left to my own devices, I fluctuate between over-control and eventually, after a crash and exhaustion, under-control. So it’s important that I intentionally create balance between work and “life,” times when I put in concentrated, hard work and times where I can take it easier and live more slowly. One way I genuinely enjoy taking it slowly is watching TV shows or my favourite videos. But that can easily turn into a binge if I’m not careful, and not only is that potential lost time that should have been dedicated to other things, but it also makes me feel really guilty. So instead, I like to plan exactly what I’m going to watch before I do: is it two episodes of Lucifer? Five Youtube videos I can chuck into a playlist? Whatever it is, I make a plan for when to stop and what to do after. And then after that,  I grab a blanket and a mug of tea and rid myself of every distraction and just relax. This can be so therapeutic if done with intention and mindfulness!

I’d love to know what everyday parts of your life you find joy in. I think sometimes it takes looking over our day and finding out where we can make space to do the things we already do a little more intentionally that can make the difference between a meaningless routine and a space/time of joy. Would you agree?

 

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food · Life · Uncategorized

Friday Favourites

ONE: The Price of Free Youtube has acquired the award-winning documentary called “The Price of Free.” Incidentally, the documentary is FREE, and I really recommend you take an evening to watch it. It’s about child slavery and labour, particularly in India. I was appalled to see HomeSense wares are made through child slave labour. HomeSense of course carries products of individual companies, but they should have a much better vetting system in place than one that allows malnourished, imprisoned and abused children to work for free for 16 hours a day to make discount goods. One of the main messages of the documentary is that the price of cheap and discounted goods is paid by someone even if it’s not the consumer.

TWO: Uber Eats I have only used Uber Eats twice before, but it’s not until today that I realized what a total life saver it can be. Even though I’m pretty good about making frozen entrees and meal prepping for those just-in-case days where I don’t feel like cooking (or I’m too busy) even defrosting and plating a ready frozen meal can take 15 minutes or more. So today, I had a few things that needed taking care of urgently, and I decided to use Uber Eats, and it just took away that little bit of stress because it was just one less thing to take care of.

THREE: Uber Simple Meals See what I did there? No, not the company uber, just the word. I’ve learned how to make a microwave Thai rice curry soup, and it’s amazing. Instead of steaming or sautéing the veggies (one cup shredded kale and 1/2 cup shopped red bell pepper), I put them in a bowl with one tablespoon of water, covered, and microwaved until they were soft. Then I added 1/2 cup of black beans, one cup of rice, and 1/3 cup of coconut cream and water to make it into a soup. For seasoning, I used 1/2 tbsp of thai curry powder and salt (my curry powder is unsalted). So good!

 

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FOUR: Spinning With Netflix It’s a little over a year ago that I bought the tiniest Weslo stationery bike (see it here). It’s amazing what it’s done for me in that time, and how much I’ve used it. Recently though, I’ve been wheeling it out to the TV and watching Netflix while cycling. Right now, I’m watching a mix of shows. My last watched is Cable Girls, but I’ve also been trying to get through a boring spot in Wanderlust (which started with a fun premise, but has sort of come to a halt now). With Netflix, you could easily go on for 20+ miles within two episodes, so it’s a great way to make an indoor cycling workout a lot more fun.

FIVE: The Global News Podcast by the BBC I have been listening to this podcast nearly daily for over a year now. It’s amazing because I really feel that they curate some of the most important breaking news from around the world into two 25-minute (or so) episodes on weekdays, and usually just one on each weekend day. It’s extremely informative, and it makes me feel connected to the issues that matter most. While much of the news can be negative, I try to detach myself from negative emotions to keep my day (or morning) from spiralling. Self care is still important! I use the Pocket Casts app to listen.

 

 

 

Life · Uncategorized

Confessions: Things I Want to Do More Of

A little bit of a casual writing post today! (But not a New Year’s resolution post, if that’s what the title made you guess.) These are just a list of things that I basically think about doing more of anyway, but I’d like to set it in stone (or blog) and make a  “from now on” list.

Lately, I’ve noticed how much of my mental space and how many of my thoughts are spent on things I’d like to own, buy, services or activities to purchase, etc. I’m ashamed to say that based on my thoughts, I have to admit that I self-identify as a consumer more than anything else. Rather than investing in making the best of what I have, my mind is constantly attuned to getting or doing the next thing. So of course, I’m here to atone for that a little by making a list whose that I 100% intend on integrating.

Some of these things seem super small, but they would be genuine game-changers.

  1. Set up my work space every day:// I clean and organize my work space maybe once a week. That means that for about six days out of every week, my desk doesn’t look nice and inviting (yes, I only manage, like, three hours of clutter-free per week). And the truth is that that’s just a little sad considering how much I actually enjoy having a well-organized and nicely set up desk to greet me in the morning—or even after my lunch break. So it might take a few minutes each day, but I just want to set up and beautify this part of my life where I spend so much time.
  2. Tone it Up three days a week with three hours of cardio (per week):// This seems like such an overreach even to me, but honestly, I pretty much already do a similar amount of exercise. I absolutely love how exercising makes me feel, and I cannot overstate how much of a change-maker Tone it Up has been for me the last three months. That’s definitely another blog post. But I’ve gotten more fit and doing a TIU work out is like taking an endorphin shower. So the reason I’m putting it here is that while I already exercise, I want to do it in a more predictable and organized way.
  3. Write more:// Writing is something I legitimately enjoy. I am ashamed to admit about the prejudices about this activity that sometimes literally stop me from logging on and writing a post, whether here, in a journal, or even on a creative writing project (and yes, I do mean logging on to my computer). But writing is something that I enjoy doing, and something I even take for granted. I think I could be very proud of myself if I kept this blog consistently updated, and I’d like to do that, though for this particular intention, it doesn’t matter to me where I write or if it’s every day.
  4. Have completely free time every day:// I have often spent my time either studying, working, thinking about my next job, etc. most of the time. That’s all fine, but I want to create the space for something new. And I know that with better planning and making a commitment, I can treat myself to guilt-free free time each day.
  5. Go somewhere new once a week:// This seems so intuitive and easy, but there are so many weeks where I’m in such a routine that I basically go nowhere new. I’ve decided to go somewhere new and do/try something new every week. I don’t want to give into some totally contrived touristy-type activities/experiences either, but to actually go places and do things that feel both authentic and interesting to me. Actually, ideally, these places would be free to go since my goal is to get out of the whole “what to spend money on next” thought-stream.

Is there anything else you recommend I put on my list? I want to know. How do you turn the focus on the good and keep yourself from becoming consumed with all of the “opportunities” to spend money that surround you? After it dawned on me how much time spend “window shopping” mostly thanks to Instagram clothing ads, I realized that this is a serious problem. Too many of my thoughts are focused on buying and too few on just being doing where I am, with what I have and have access to.

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Also, here is the photo of a vegan black bean burger patty that I made. I am working on perfecting the recipe, so how I made this particular batch (it’s just okay) won’t make it on here.

food · Life · Uncategorized

Vega Double-Chocolate Baked Donuts (Not Vegan, Contain Egg)

Donuts pair perfectly with coffee, but at nearly 500 calories and deep-fried, it’s hard to justify these classic coffee house treats on any old day. But with a few recipe adjustments, it’s possible (and easy) to make healthier donuts at home!

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These donuts are made with chocolate-flavoured Vega One protein, and a handful of other ingredients. To make them, you will need:

  • A donut baking tray (mine is a Wilbur tray I bought at a sale for $5)
  • 3/4 cup whole grain all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Vega One chocolate protein powder
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut oil + 2 tsp
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6–8 packets of stevia
  • 1 cup plant milk
  • 1 medium-size egg
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

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  1. Heat oven to 380 degrees and mix all dry ingredients evenly with a whisk
  2. Add all wet ingredients to dry and mix evenly with a whisk for 1–2 minutes until mixture is smooth
  3. Brush 1 tsp of coconut oil to grease donut pan or spray to grease
  4. Fill each donut compartment to 3/4 full
  5. Once the oven is heated, set timer to 30 minutes and bake
  6. Once ready to take out of the oven, leave to cool for 15 minutes and very carefully take out of pan. I find using a very thin, sharp-edged knife helps with this
  7. Heat 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips in a small bowl (that can fit each donut for dipping) with remaining 1 tsp of coconut oil and 1 tbsp water for 45 seconds or until everything is melted
  8. Dip each donut face down (so that you’re dipping the rounded side) and place on a tray to set at room temperature

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This is a really simple recipe. I wanted to make it lower fat, but things get a little too dry with less coconut oil, so maintaining the specified amount of fat is pretty important. As well, because of the protein powder, it takes a little longer to bake than flour-only donuts would.

As well, because of the protein powder, it’s not as easy to use an egg substitute while maintaining the dough’s adherence.

What are your thoughts? This was a nice experiment, and I personally like the taste of stevia. The resulting donuts contain some protein and are lower in sugar and fat than regular donuts.

But, I have to admit that I prefer full-flour donuts much more. I will post these on the blog one day. If you’d like to make those straightaway instead, use one cup of flour and two tablespoons of chocolate powder and leave out the protein.