Safety Razor for Women’s Shaving

For ages, I considered trading my Gillette Venus or Schick Quattro (I have switched back-and-forth between these two women’s razors for a long time) for a safety razor. The prospect was a little scary, and I was too comfortable with my old routine, but I finally did it, and I’m so glad!

It’s not that I ever had any problems with the two types of shaving products I used, but the amount of plastic that accumulated in the bathroom trash can while each day I listened to the calamitous environmental consequences of waste and waste pollution on news podcasts became too much to bear.

A couple of months ago, I bit the bullet, as they say, and bought literally the first inexpensive safety razor that came up on Amazon. You’d hope someone purporting to inform an audience about this would delve into some research first, and I did, but I found the price premiums on the double-edged safety razors marketed to women had more to do with the pink handles than with an innovative shaving mechanism or functional design difference.

It just seemed as though the experience would be more or less the same, and I didn’t want to splurge in case safety razors were a definite no-no for me. But good news–they aren’t!

The razor I bought came with twenty blades, and I am on the third one now, shaving about once every five days, at the same rate as previously. Each blade lasts for 3-4 shaves of my full legs and produces so much less waste in the end than my made-for-women razor cartridges (the only thing that ends in the trash is a single thin blade, no plastic).

There was definitely a bit of a learning curve, and on that, I wish I’d done a little more reading before starting. For example, I’ve found that with a double-edged razor, I simply don’t have the luxury of applying pressure liberally or dragging the blade along my skin for long strokes to save time. Instead, short strokes with very, very gentle pressure are the only way to keep from nicking the sensitive skin on my legs.

I also have to lather up and trace my skin twice with the blade each time to get the same closeness as my Gillette provided once through. So ultimately, it takes a little more time and focus, with a razor handle that is not nearly as ergonomic (it starts to slip out of my hand when I get the slightest bit of shaving soap on my hand).

Following my first time shaving with the new razor, I remember actually feeling a surge of gratitude for the product designers at Gillette. My user experience with the Venus razor had been so absolutely seamless that shaving had never really been a noticeable part of my routine, but this time I couldn’t not notice as I stood with blood prickling out of at least three dozen spots all over my legs.

I’m sharing the struggle bits because I don’t want to contribute to the idea, which is generally a lie, that “green” products perform just as well as any other. An other which has usually has had countless R&D resources poured into it and that doesn’t face the same need to conform to some environmental standard. This one certainly doesn’t do as well from a performance standpoint alone! But I have chosen to keep at it because it seems almost like a bit of a moral imperative to do so. It doesn’t escape me that it’s a laughably small contribution on the grand scale of the worldwide trash “problem” but if it’s one of the only things I can personally do, why not? In the end, my legs are still hairless, and I’m completely accustomed to my new routine.

It truly was mostly just a matter of adjusting the pressure and dedicating an extra minute or two to the task. If you go this route, you’ll feel so, so much better knowing you’re not needlessly spending so much money on being hair-free and not polluting the world/oceans/landfills with so much of your trash.

I’ve replaced a few other conventionally wasteful personal hygiene and self-care products that I use regularly and will be sharing about them soon. Thoughts?

Recipe: Creamy Vegan Coffee Ice Pops (Low Calorie)

creamyicepops

Summer is right around the corner! Even though today was windy and chilly, the weather has been trending towards the sunny and warm here in Toronto. So in honor of the slowly descending mid-spring, and soon-to-be-summer, I made these coffee ice pops.

love a good popsicle, and I love coffee. So combining the two came naturally! Usually, I’m partial to mango or strawberry-flavored smoothie pops, but these were so different—in a good way. They have a rich coffee flavour that, combined with the sweetness of the banana and dates, makes for a great low-calorie Netflix dessert option  (do you know what I mean?).

Continue reading “Recipe: Creamy Vegan Coffee Ice Pops (Low Calorie)”

Side Salads for Weight Loss (My Story)

SideSalads_SBB

It wasn’t too many years ago that I found myself at a weight that made me really unhappy. I had tens of pounds to lose to get back to where I was before and where I am back to now, and I knew I didn’t want to follow any specific diet. I recently watched an interview about why despite the majority of Americans now finding themselves overweight, fewer of them than ever before are dieting.

One subject very aptly put it this way: “dieting is a four-letter word for failure.”

Continue reading “Side Salads for Weight Loss (My Story)”

Recipe: Vegan Cowboy Caviar Quesadillas With Pepper Jack Daiya and Guacamole

20190413_174351

I have been on a Mexican food kick lately, as you’ll know if you read my attempt at recreating Sugar Taco’s vegan beef tacos. Well, I was looking at one of my favourite food blogs (Budget Bytes) and I was inspired to make a quesadilla version of the Cowboy Caviar, the classic southwestern bean “dip.”

Well, I made them, and they turned out beautifully, which is why I’m sharing here. They are super easy to make and great with a little bit of guacamole! Scroll for the recipe and some process photos (these really help me when I’m cooking).

Continue reading “Recipe: Vegan Cowboy Caviar Quesadillas With Pepper Jack Daiya and Guacamole”

Easy 5 Km Jog and Trying Orgain Plant-Based Organic Protein Powder

20190413_083046

This morning, I woke up an hour before my alarm, at about 7:45 a.m. That’s still about an hour later than I usually get up, but after a day filled with two exams, I wanted to set myself up for a good day today and get a ton of rest.

I knew I’d be going for a jog this morning, even though I hadn’t decided on the specifics. I’ve just gotten back into running with the warming April weather, and so far, I’ve played it by ear each time I’ve gone, setting a goal for myself based on how my body feels within the first minute or so of the jog.

I had a few procrastinate-y thoughts as I got up and sat in bed, thinking about the chilly 5-degree weather (41 degrees Fahrenheit, for reference) waiting for me outside. And things got even (a little) more challenging when I started getting dressed and realized, after digging deep into my closet, that I’d have to wear knee-length pants/shorts because all of my workout pants (I don’t own many) were in the laundry basket.

Continue reading “Easy 5 Km Jog and Trying Orgain Plant-Based Organic Protein Powder”

Running and Tacos — How Everything Gets Better

20190409_212044

A few days ago, I was feeling a little bit down. I had been going through a job recruitment process that tested me in a way that well clarified my intentions and desires in terms of the kind of employment relationships I want to create in my life. That is, I desire an employer that values my time just as much as they expect me to value theirs in the recruitment and interview stage.

During the interview stage, if I took a day to think about something, I would let these people know. If I had to create a sample of work for them, I had a deadline to follow. In return, however, I was given no timeline or expectation for when I would hear back regarding their decision. In the days following, I received many Linkedin notifications of the same two people from the company looking at my (empty!) profile multiple times without any contact to give me any type of feedback. I decided it was enough and withdrew from the process.

Part of the experience is due to the fact that I cared so much about this job. I was really excited. Before choosing to submit my candidacy for the role, I took time to research the firm and really think about whether I could see myself doing the work. I could—really well!

Continue reading “Running and Tacos — How Everything Gets Better”

Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies (Take One)

Is this what these are supposed to look like?

Every so often, I engage in the aspirational hobby of perusing recipe books and websites. I dream of what could be. Bean cassoulet with biscuits? Pumpkin chipotle chili? Seitan simmered in mole sauce? I look, I read, and I savor—with my mind’s tongue, that is.

A few days ago, I thought to myself, isn’t it a shame I haven’t ever cooked my way through a recipe book. It wasn’t a question; it was a predicament I found myself in. And so I picked up the only physical cookbook I own, from which everything I have ever made has been fantastic: Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

20190323_205905

Now, a little backstory. I’ve had the book for going on a decade, and I started with high hopes that I would cook my way through it. I even placed a dainty dot beside each recipe I tried, convinced that my zest for domesticity would find me opening the crisp pages of the hardback to a dot beside every recipe title in The Contents. Mind you, there are about 250 recipes in the book, and no amount of zest can carry you through that much cooking from one place… It takes discipline, but that wasn’t what I thought.

Continue reading “Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies (Take One)”

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.

20190101_115630

— 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?

 

The Only Way I Can Eat Chia Pudding

Chia seeds are nutritious and a source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and protein. But for me, they’re not easy to eat. You could put them in a glass of water or juice and then quickly down the whole thing before the seeds soak and form their gelatinous shell. But a much better way is to make a chia seed pudding bowl.

20181216_145907
This is a great breakfast option, especially if you’ve done a workout beforehand—since it can be just a tad high in calories. It’s crunchy, thanks to the granola, and the fruit is sweet and nutritious.

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 cup plant milk (I used soy)
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract (I doubled this because I love vanilla!)

Note that 1/4 cup of chia seeds contains 280 calories. So if you want to (or need to based on your dietary habits) save on some of those pesky little things, consider halving the pudding recipe, or even cutting a quarter (3 tbsp of chia seeds blended with 3/4 cup milk).

Once you have your ingredients, go ahead and blend them for a minute or two. You’ll want to blend on the highest setting possible. And that’s it—that’s your chia seed pudding! But that’s not where the magic starts (or ends) for me… I personally don’t love the texture of chia seed pudding. So the toppings make all of the difference for me, and the most important, non-negotiable one is about a 1/4 cup of granola. Getting a bit of the granola crunch with every spoonful makes all the difference.

[If you do not have a blender, you do not need one! Put the ingredients in a container and shake, then place in the fridge for a couple of hours; the seeds will expand and absorb the milk. Just make sure to mix everything really well before leaving it to set in order to avoid clumps.]

20181216_145752

Today, in addition to the granola, I added cup banana and thawed wild blueberries. But you could add any combination of complementary fruits that you would like. And then to finish, you can top the whole thing with just a little bit of sweetener. I used one tablespoon of maple syrup.

20181216_145709

This bowl was seriously such a treat! Even though chia seed pudding is one of those uber healthy, health-nut type snacks/meals/foods, incorporating the proper textures and flavours can make a world of difference.

There are so many ways of making the pudding and this is by far my favourite. I’ve seen lots of recipes that recommend simply blending everything together, including the fruits. But having the fruits as a topping just makes this less of a boring meal and provides some variation with each spoonful.

In whatever way you can, consider adding chia seeds to your diet. They are considered a “functional” food, thanks in large part to their fibre content, which can help lower cholesterol and improve digestion. You deserve to protect yourself against cardiovascular diseases while warding off gastrointestinal problems (and remember that simple irregularity can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancers!).

It would make me so happy if you tried this recipe and then let me know what you think! Do this for you.

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!

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 9.19.07 PM

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.