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.

 

 

 

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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.

Uncategorized · Zero Waste

DIY All Natural Vegan All Purpose Cleaning Spray

I’ve known about using vinegar as a cleaner for a long time. But have you smelled vinegar before? Thats’s why I stuck to using conventional cleaning wipes for most of my regular “dirty jobs,” like wiping my desk every couple days.

But those smell too, and it’s a more sinister chemical-laden smell, as opposed to a clearly harmless but astringent odour like vinegar’s. Anyway, I turned to the internet and found this recipe for a homemade cleaning spray that smells good and works wonders.

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You probably already have everything you need for this in your pantry and fridge. You will need one cup of white vinegar, one cup of water, the zest of a whole lemon (I used a potato peeler to make the job easy), and 10–15 tea tree oil drops.

Put everything in a glass or plastic spray bottle and you’re done.

I was really surprised by how much fragrance the lemon zest adds to this. I’ve been cleaning my desk with this and getting great results. This is also a low-waste option.

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.

 

Skin Deep · Uncategorized

Beauty Review: Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser

Recently, I received a selection of sample products to try, as a “gift with purchase” from Shoppers Drug Mart. It was very exciting, and I always love receiving gifts with my purchases, especially if the thing I purchased was something I was going to buy anyway. I feel so loved when they have a promotion like this one.

Anyway, one of the gifts I received was the Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser. It came in a very generous sample size of 0.68fl oz (or 20 ml). It doesn’t seem like much, but a little bit of this product is going a very long way, and so I have used this more than 10 times in the last several days (or weeks?) and there seems to be much more  left in the bottle still.

Photo of the the sample size of the Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser inside my open palm. It's a white, palm-sized squeeze container with a light pink rectangle where the text appears. :)
The large sample size I received in my gift with purchase.

I wanted to share my thoughts on this product with you.

Before I began using this, I gave the Proactiv system a try. It left my skin a bit unhappy, so I needed something gentle, and that’s what this is: It’s a very gentle, light cleanser—but it still makes me feel like I’m pampering myself, because it smells and feels luxurious.

The bottle says that it’s for all skin types, and I would agree, but I want to stipulate that it’s very gentle. If you’re hoping it will perform miracles on your skin, by erasing dullness or acne, then it may not be the right cleanser for you.

It has a beautiful but subtle floral scent that I love, and a 1/2 pea sized amount will perform that gentle foaming action (which can be intensified if you use more than just a small little bit). My skin always feels soft, beautiful and fresh after I use this.

Sometimes I oil cleanse to remove makeup, and my experience has been that this cleanser doesn’t fully strip all of the coconut oil fats from my face because it is so gentle. But for me that is not a negative. Coconut oil has so many benefits, and I like that when I wash with this after oil cleansing, I can keep some of the protective barrier from the coconut oil without leaving my skin totally oily (if I didn’t wash at all).

Now a little about the brand.

Korres Natural Products is a Greek brand, and for some reason I love that. I am not Greek, but for a beauty brand, this is not one of the “usual” countries, and supporting Greece seems like a privilege in itself. So I love that… I would love to visit Greece one day.

A picture of the back of the Korres cleanser sample-size bottle. The English text on the back of the bottle reads: "A rich indulgent foaming cream that removes effectively impurities, make-up and mascara without irritating. Formulated with soothing Greek Yoghurt and natural cleansing agents for excellent tolerance by the eyes and skin. Soap free. Use: Rub gently into wet skin and rinse off with plenty of water. Caution: Avoid direct contact with eyes."
The back of the Korres cleanser sample-size bottle

There are a lot of good things about Korres. They are against animal testing, and they do not hire anybody to test their products for them. I really appreciate that, and I am grateful for it. Not testing on animals is important to me because I don’t see why any living being should suffer for me to put something on my face or feel good about myself. Internal beauty is not worth a trade for external beauty. I love that Korres doesn’t force women to make that choice.

I wish all of their products were plant-based however. They are not. The product I am reviewing contains yogurt, and some of their other products also contain animal products. I have watched documentaries on dairy farming, and that is one of the reasons I rarely consume dairy. Cows are innocent and loving animals that do not deserve to be mistreated, tortured, and killed by the farming industry.

They do also carry vegan products, and if I were to purchase a product from Korres, I would have to choose from their list of vegan products.

Vicky at Ethical Elephant is on top of all these things, and she works very hard to compile product lists and share vegan and cruelty-free product information. We’re very lucky (you and I) that she has already created one for Korres. You can find it here.

Uncategorized

Grateful for the Little Moments

The last couple days brought a health scare for our family dog. He is a beautiful little (or not so little) Maltese poodle mix. He is twelve years old, and he joined the family just a few weeks after he was born.

C. is the first dog that anyone in the family has had as a pet companion. And getting him was only half-planned, though I’ve been grateful for my parents’ inexperience and sensitivity more than once since. They had planned to visit a breeder to see some puppies just to learn more about the process of buying a dog. It turned out that C. was the last puppy left from his litter, and they fell in love instantly!

C., relaxing, taken a few weeks ago (2018)

His health scare started with a cough during the day, and when he visited the vet, he was given antibiotics for a bacterial infection. He stayed up nearly all of that night coughing, and he continued to have sporadic fits of coughing yesterday, too. (So far, he seems all better today!)

This is the first time he has been sick, and while his age might not be the main factor (I mean, we’ve all had throat infections, right?) I can’t help but feel he has slowed down. And that’s been a reminder for me to enjoy every single moment I have with him, because I don’t know how many more I’ll get.

We have all been spoiled by his always energetic personality and this infection along with some behavioural changes in the last few months have been a total surprise. I can’t tell you how much I regret all the times I put off taking him to the dog park! I didn’t appreciate just how lucky I was to have a dog on my hands that wanted to go. One of his behaviour changes is that he is not as enthusiastic about his walks–he goes twice a day. Whereas in the past, any mention of the word “walk” would have him wagging his tail and waiting by the front door, there are now days when even a treat won’t do the trick to make him want to go.

Observing these changes in C. has been so humbling and such a great, difficult–and slightly painful–reminder that as wonderful and beautiful as life is, it is also ever-changing. We are all only here temporarily, and even who and what we are changes.

C., winter 2018

I remember hearing a cheesy quote about chasing your dreams because tomorrow you might be here but your dreams might not be, and it rings true. We should chase the dreams in our hearts as they call us.

As for C., I feel beyond blessed and lucky to have him in my life even with his changing moods and aches and pains. We’re off for a walk now.

fashion · Uncategorized

Four Things I Wish I Had Known Before Thrift Shopping

I love going to Banana Republic or Aritzia or J. Crew as much as any other girl. I love finding that perfect shirt or dress, and buying something brand new; there’s just something about the shopping experience I love. But with the awareness of the impact of fast fashion on the environment and the people it affects along the supply chain, it’s become clear that I need to make better decisions.

Consider that an article from the Ellen McArthur Foundation, an organization dedicated to studying how we can create a sustainable circular economy, estimates that the garment industry produces the equivalent of more CO2 than the emissions from international flights and maritime shipping. But while the awareness of pollution from air transport has become so accepted that some airlines, such as British Airways, allow fliers to contribute to a carbon fund by buying offset credits when they purchase tickets, most fast-fashion giants are doing little and sharing even less with the consumer.

Two of the main environmental problems with most conventional (price-focused) fast fashion garments are that their production consumes an excessive amount of natural resources (namely, water) and it releases toxic chemicals into the environment at many stages of production, putting people and entire ecosystems at risk.

One way to mitigate these and other problems in the short term is to buy thrifted items. At this time, more environmentally made garments tend to be significantly more expensive than their conventionally made equivalents. So to stretch your budget, and make responsible decisions when you buy new, it’s a good idea to buy used clothes whenever you can. Here are some things I wish I’d known before starting to thrift.

[Consider watching the documentary The True Cost to learn more of the detailsof the environmental and human impact of the fast fashion garment industry. Rent it on Youtube or find on Netflix]

KNOW what you like: // This is my most important tip. When you enter a Club Monaco or the Gap or any other store, you’re presented with items that fit into a semi-coherent style. The company carefully curates their seasonal offerings and their garments wouldn’t look out of place side-by-side in your closet. But thrifting doesn’t offer that luxury! When you’re thrifting, you’re exposed to all sorts of styles; so it’s really important to know—before going to the shop—what you will be looking for.

Thrifting shouldn’t be about sacrificing your personal style; it just requires a little more effort. So, know your colours, which cuts suit you best, whether you prefer skirts or dresses, and be completely at peace with not finding anything sometimes—because that will happen!

If you have trouble envisioning what style might suit you, consider finding a fashion blogger that inspires you or look at the cut and colours of the garments at your favourite shops. I recently wrote a blog post about Carly, a style blogger I like.

Ditch last minute shopping: // If you know you’re going to be invited for a baby shower in two months, or you have to go to a friend’s birthday next month, start planning for an outfit now. It’s a good idea to have seasonal, occasion-appropriate outfits at the ready, but if your wardrobe is incomplete, act on it as soon as possible. Thrift shopping takes a lot more time and effort than conventional mall shopping. You might need to visit more shops and flip through more hangers than you’d like to. That’s why you need to give yourself time.

But if you do find yourself in a pinch, why not consider a rental service like Rent Frock Repeat? They are a Canadian designer dress rental service. You will pay a fraction of the cost of the dress, and you will look absolutely fabulous, without having to make an often unnecessary addition to your closet. This service is great for weddings and other big occasions.

Find a seamstress: // This tip can take you a really long way. Sometimes you’ll find a dress or skirt, or shirt, that is almost perfect, but not quite. Maybe it’s a little loose in the chest area, or maybe the shoulders sit a little funny. Ask the thrift store about their return policy, and take the garment to a seamster/tress you trust. See if they can fix it!

If you can find a place that offers well-priced alterations, then you will still save money on your shopping while ending up with an outfit that is tailored to your body, something no ready-to-wear item offers.

Follow the care instructions: // Yes, you may have only paid $8 for your newest thrifted item, and it may make little sense to now dish $10 to dry clean it. But if the wash instructions ask you to only wash cold with light items or dry clean, then you need to do that. My personal experience has been that thrifted items are much more prone to disintegrating than new buys. Treat them as well as you possibly can, and part of that will include following the care instructions to a T.