Thursday, April 05, 2012

Thursday Love List: Spread the love

This week, a departure from the type of Thursday Love List where I tell you about things I'm into that I want you to check out. This week, it's about making your own in-the-moment lists and sharing them out loud.

I'm gonna share a little personal secret to start us off. When I was a kid, I was not the most awesome at making friends at school. I blame it on the then-undiagnosed ADD. I was impulsive, and inclined to speak my mind with very little foresight in the how-it-might-be-received-by-others department. Ever the sensitive and experimental parent, my mum, for about a month in my seventh grade year, had a deal going with me. Everyday I was to work on offering others compliments and encouragement. Each night, my mum would pay me 10 cents per nice thing said I'd said that day, up to $1. Ten nicer things out of my mouth offered to my peers each day, in exchange for a buck, which in 1992 was something I could get into. Of course the compliment had to be sincere in order to be received well from my fellow students, so the exercise helped me focus on listening more and being cheerful, and maybe even nourished my friendships with others. Who couldn't do with more of that in their lives?

In the past few weeks, I have been noticing that complaints are bursting forth from my mouth at an increased rate than usual. I think it comes from feeling tired and overworked these days, but when you're feeling down you need friends more than ever, so it serves to reason that I should pull up my socks and feed the relationships around me. (It may also be linked to some liver cleansing I'm doing, and the fact that anger is the emotion associated with that body organ, according to good old Chinese medicine.) I am deliberately trying to offer up niceness - be it with my housemates, friends, yoga mates, or the clerk at the health food store. It might be asking a friend how they are, and then truly tuning in to listen and responding with your observations of their related strengths. Or walking into the change-room and complimenting a fellow yogini on her headstand instead of moaning about what a challenge the class was today. In short, I'm talking about ways I imagine we can share love with others and offer some to ourselves.

If you're looking to share a little love, shake a funk of your own, or be a bit more mindful, perhaps you'd like to take a shot at it, too. After all, studies have shown that the more you practice being happy, the easier it'll come to you. How quick can you earn your daily dollar?

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Monday starts a month of more deliberate health-seeking

Someone sent me an email a while ago, asking me to blog about health everyday for the month of April. I honestly cannot remember who it was (although a quick search of my inbox might tell me), and I didn't write them back for fear of not being able to come through, but it got me thinking that maybe it'd be good to push myself into a writing routine. I have most of this month off from school, after all, so maybe now is a good time to take a shot at it. I'm not making any promises, but perhaps I might just pleasantly surprise myself and get something up for each weekday of April. If I did so, would you read it? Would you respond?

My health task for today was to avoid my laptop, which I have used as a mega distraction from getting anything non-computery done in my life, for as many of my waking hours as possible. It feels a little goofy saying that, as I've cozied in now to write this post, but I was pretty successful. I worked on a log cabin lap quilt that has been in the early stages for far too long (I've hyperlinked there to the blog for the book that inspired the project in the first place). I also made some bunting for friends who I'll be visiting within the week with new babies or soon-to-be babies (as in, ones that aren't out yet). I tried an infrared sauna for the first time (more on that later in the week, I promise). Without the distraction of the facebook homepage, for example, my mind was more my own instead of getting caught up in other people's status updates. There were moments where my knee-jerk reaction was to check my email when I was feeling a twinge of boredom, but in the end I felt better for not following the impulse.

So, looking inwards more, and outwards less, is a goal for this month of deliberate health-seeking. Another is to take liver cleansing herbs for 30 days, and to help them in their efforts by introducing less junk to my system (much more on that later, too). And the third is to do yoga daily - whether it's just an asana or two in my bedroom, or a 90 minute Bikram class, my body (and mind) could really use the stretching.

How about you - do you have any health goals for April? Let me know, and perhaps I can incorporate them into some of my blog postings over the next four weeks.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pretty "down there"

Before you head blindly into reading this post, please bear in mind that it involves subject matter for the more mature reader (compared to most of my other posts). If you're squeamish or easily offended, you might want to sit this one out.

You wanna know who knows more about pubic hair management than anyone else in your life? It's the person who does your pap.
I did a month-long placement at a sexual health clinic in December and I'll tell you, I saw trends in lady-part styling. Of course in the interest of professionalism, I was completely non-judgmental about the whole thing (... no really, I was - to each her own), but I couldn't help but notice. Approaches included:
* moderate overall trimming
* overall buzz-cut
* completely bare
* hair on the mound, not on the lips
* hair only on the outer lips
* the porn-popularized runway strip
* a postage stamp amount of hair above the clit hood, and
* the let-it-be natural approach (which was surprisingly less common than one might guess)...

And I want to say that if the hair management thrills you, I'm cheering you on.
But with that being said - now here's the lesson - please, PLEASE (!) don't hurt yourself.
If you are open to advice, I offer the following:
* If you're going to remove hair, please do it for fun or sensation, but not because of outside pressure. Forget about porn imagery and go for real-life sexy! There's nothing hotter than a woman who's happy and self-assured.
* If you're using a razor, the sharper it is, the less likely you are to cut yourself. Use a good shaving cream (I like Kiss my Face, especially now that it's paraben-free), or hair conditioner if that's all you've got.
* If you're sensitive, be sure to have a good soak in the tub before you shave - this will soften the hair, warm up your skin and open up your pores to make the area more receptive to hair removal.
* If you're thinking of using any other hair-removing agents, consider the advice I give for all body care products: aside from some natural soap, if it's a product you wouldn't put in your mouth, don't put it on your skin!
* Speaking of soap, keep it simple. Nothing specialized, nothing fragranced, and no vigorous scrubbing - anything but mild soap and a good rinse with water will challenge the natural bacteria that keeps everything balanced, and create a less desirable environment between your legs, not a more desirable one.
* Now this is the most important: If you have any suspicious (read: unusual for you) bumps, sores or itchiness, put down the razor, and get thee to a sexual health clinic (or knowledgeable family doc) -- STAT! If it happens that you have herpes, for example (and yes, even if you've never had an outbreak before), and by shaving you nick off the top of a herpes lesion (sore), you can spread the virus virtually any and everywhere your razor touches next. I feel strongly about warning you because it is unfortunately not an uncommon thing and the insanity (read: undeserved pain experienced by the shaver) must be stopped!
* And finally, resist shaving day after day - the constant irritation of running a razor over your skin won't allow for non-stop smoothness anyhow. If you get ingrown hairs, give the area a break, and exfoliate very, very gently with a warm damp exfoliating glove or face cloth.

Okay, now go out there (or invite someone into your bed), with pride for your lady parts! (And if you want more info of this intimate nature, please let me know in the comments and I'd be happy to oblige with further posts.)

(Disclaimer: I came across the pic above on some random blog and it cracked me up! There was no photo credit, so I can't offer one.)

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Foodie Fridays makes a comeback with the best granola bars

Lesley's Nutty-Seedy Granola Bars

These are a staple at our house, introduced to me by my housemate Lesley, and tweaked of course, as is my tendency.

1 1/2 cups sweetener(s) of choice*
3/4 cup nut butter (p.b., usually)
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated coconut oil or margarine
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flaxseeds (golden preferred, but only for aesthetic reasons)
1/2-3/4 cup raisins or chcolate chips (optional - I never use 'em)

* I used 1/2 cup each raw honey, brown rice syrup and maple syrup. If you don't care about your sugar intake you can use up to 1 cup granulated sugar (like brown sugar), and 1/2 cup of something liquid.

Preheat your oven to 325oC. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of unbleached parchment paper.
Cream the sweetener(s), nut butter, oil and salt together in a large bowl. This will be like a nut butter frosting and you will want to eat the whole bowl, but resist.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a silicone spatula until everything is well-combined. Plop the dough onto the lined parchment and smooth it out in an even layer (it will fit the tray perfectly) - I start this process with the silicone spatula, and finish it off with an offset spatula (a tool which I recommend having in your kitchen if you don't already). Bake for 20-30 minutes, just until the edges begin to brown, and no longer - even if the top doesn't look dry!
Allow to cool for about 30 minutes (they don't have to be completely room temp, but mostly) before cutting. Makes 48 squares (6 x 8) - or however many you want. Stores in a cookie tin for a week or 2.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Lucky Sunday, week 1 in review

You may remember Ryan from past posts - my ex, my current best friend, my dog co-parent. He called me from Australia the other day, where he's travelling for 2.5 months, via skype. He cautioned me that I wouldn't like it if he set it to "video call" but I didn't believe him. When he turned it on, there was a sandy white beach, waves, and folks in their bathers in the background. He told me there were surfers, too, though I didn't catch them in view. The strike of jealousy was immediate. I got off the phone, bundled up, and took Ella for our third walk or the day in the snow.

Still, if 2012 is about feeling lucky, perhaps I should take stock, weekly, of the moments big and small that have made my heart sing. Here they are:

Luckiest feeling moments of the week: Spending an evening laughing with my latest crush. My mum taking Ella out for an hour when I just didn't have the energy to do so. Getting a new/free "sinus irrigation system" just as I was coming down with a cold. Accidentally parking on the street overnight without a permit, and finding in the morning that I didn't get a ticket. Finding out my midwifery tutor for our online course this semester is a midwife I super like. Making it to work on time via subway when I surely woulda been late if I'd opted for the streetcar. Finding a new episode of Grey's Anatomy online when I thought I'd have to wait till next week. Making the perfect last minute Saturday night plan with a new friend.

Moments when I was challenged to feel lucky this week: Coming home Wednesday morning to find that Ella had peed on our white living room carpet in 3 places (something she hasn't done since the first week we got her, two years ago). Getting three different kinds of sick and my period a week early in the span of 8 hours. Spilling water or tea in various parts of the house on four different occasions. Ella attempting to poop in the hair salon as I was getting a bang trim, then succumbing to diarrhea a short while later in front of a cute boy outside a hipster bar on Ossington (poor her for her condition - what a week!, poor me for having to make sense of a poopy mess on concrete). Sewing my index finger (hard and fast - ouch!) while intensely focused on quilting.

Constants I felt especially lucky for this week: The warmth of my winter coat. The treat of emotionally and intellectually connecting with people. The fact that I have a sewing machine and can quilt from the comfort of my own home, at any time. The cuteness of my Ella.

Now, will you share what made your first week of the year lucky for you?


Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Special, part 2: Here we go, 2012!

Did you ring in the New Year just as you wanted last night?
I hope so. I hit two parties and had fun at both. Didn't drink ('cept for a bit of bubbly at midnight) and got to bed at a reasonable hour. Very nice, and sane.

Just like thousands, if not millions of people all over the world, I can dig the idea of starting the new year resolving to make things a bit better. No major punishment if I don't get to them all, but a treat if I do.

The major theme is that I want to be able to bring to mind as often as I can just how lucky I am. To this end, I got myself a little boxing week sale treat to remind me when I look in the mirror. It's this.

But how about more tangible goals? Here they are:

Good human goals:
* Bring glass storage jars to the food co-op every time I run out of bulk foods (instead of taking plastic bags home and then refilling the jars). I watched No Impact Man today, which was my inspiration for this.
* Buy something for the food bank box every time I'm in a grocery store that has a collection box. If you're in Toronto and want to know where your local drop-off points are, check here.
* Eat from my pantry - having a good sense of what I already have and can use before going food shopping.
* Budget enough time so I can stop being late for meeting people.
* Work to default to compassion/patience/understanding/flexibility for all.
* Get curious before judging.

Health goals:
* Stay off refined sugar and alcohol for as long as I can stand it. Do this at the start of each new season, too.
* Take an iron supplement (or nettle tea with lemon) everyday for the 2 weeks before my period's due.
* Don't watch teevee that inherently doesn't jive with my values.
* Resist bringing the laptop into bed at night.
* Wipe off eye makeup before bed, no matter how tired I am.
* See my toes above my head in dhanurasana (bow pose). (I'm already better than the drawing here is, by the way.)
* Laugh lots.

Fun goals:
* Finish this current king-size blue quilt.
* Become better friends with a serger (get comfortable with loading it, troubleshooting, make some things).
* Make a sundress.
* Take a road trip to Ottawa to visit Crystal's new babe, and Heather while she's pregnant.
* Get outta town on a plane at some point when school's out.

Do you think it sounds doable? I sure hope so.
Now, would you be willing to share some of your resolutions with me?

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Special, part 1: Thanks for 2011

Anyone close to me knows I'm a big sharer (for better or worse) when it comes to personal info, so why not post my reflections on 2011 for anyone willing to read?

I also have a sense that putting my New Year's Resolutions out there might keep me honest, so I'm going to do that too, though I hear it's bad luck to share them in advance, so I'll do it tomorrow.

Do you like lists? Me too, so here goes:
Biggest growing experiences of 2011: Midwifery placement in the Ottawa Valley at the start of the Year - including 29 births and the catching of 17 babies!; taking Ella (my & Ryan's dog) on full time (if only for a few months); a month-long placement at Hassle Free Sexual Health Clinic.

Favourite recipes made in 2011: Lemony Lentil Soup (recipe to be posted one of these days); Slow Baked Beans (from RfaH); Raw Pad Thai (from RfaH); Roasted Apple Cider Vinegar Beets (another recipe to be posted one of these days)

Favourite public food event of 2011: The nutrition panel at the TVA's Food Fair. What a fun time that was! Thanks Lisa!

Favourite movies seen in 2011: Temple Grandin, Beginners, HappyThankYouMorePlease, the latest Harry Potter movie.

Favourite books read/acquired in 2011: The Virgin Cure, Inside of a Dog, Prodigal Summer, Committed.

Favourite music discovered in 2011: The Ruby Suns, Yeasayer.

Favourite podcast discovered in 2011: The Moth.

Some of the more annoying struggles of 2011: Getting Single Ladies out of my head; a difficult break-up.

Home improvement projects of 2011: Painted bathroom (fushia), front door (teal), stairs (grey-blue); living room rug of an appropriate size.

Favourite gifts I gave in 2011: Men's tie, infinity scarf - I sewed them both myself.

Favourite gifts I received in 2011: trip to France, new laptop, slow cooker, kind notes from lovely people.

Things that took up way more of my time than you might guess in 2011: Dating (more than a dozen people - truly!); facebook (thank goodness for that Fall hiatus); playing solitaire on my iPhone; watching Heartland; worrying.

Things I wish I'd put more time into in 2011: Quilting, sewing, organizing, meditating, reading, car interior cleaning (it's true - my Jeep is kinda gross).

Things I'm glad I did more of in 2011 than in 2010: Mediation, flossing, Bikram yoga, biking, Ella-walking.

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"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.


about the blog:

about the cookbooks:

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

live in person!

come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!



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    New Year's Special, part 2: Here we go, 2012!
    New Year's Special, part 1: Thanks for 2011
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