Lovely Things

{a single red rose from my beau for Valentine’s}

These past few weeks have been a hullabaloo of ups and downs. Writing exams, getting chocolates. Stuffy noses and ferris wheel rides. Cold winds and warm ones. Trips to Ottawa, long nights studying in my room. Fireworks and disappointing grades. Reading captivating novels and wordy textbooks. Being given gorgeous tiny diamond earrings. Coming home. Roasting marshmallows by the pier in Old Montreal. Eating delicious Italian food to the tune of live jazz music. Shopping sprees on warm Spring-like days. Coming back to my family home to delicious home made scones and favourite newspapers.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo thanks to Neal

Today, love.

Appreciate, pamper, coddle, cuddle, hug, smile, reach out, embrace, accept.

Be kind, patient, happy, honest, caring.

Write that letter. Pick up that phone. Send that text. Reconnect.

Don’t expect, wish, or hope. Just appreciate.

This Valentine’s Day, don’t buy into the hype. No disappointment if you don’t get a candy-gram or a bunch of flowers. No shame that you don’t have a Valentine. No anger that your boyfriend ‘didn’t do enough’.  Let today serve as a reminder of how lucky you are to be surrounded by such magnificent human beings who love every inch of you! Be grateful for the people you love, and be happy just to spend time with them.

And make sure to take some time today to love yourself! Treat yourself to a day full of little luxuries, smiles, and unconditional love.

There are so many cynics out there about Valentine’s, but what a wonderful holiday – a day created to remind you to love the ones you love.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

xoxo,

Ignore Your But(t)

This time of year makes it incredibly easy to be negative.

Think about it, we’re totally in limbo. Past the good parts of Winter – namely Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/awesome time with food, family & friends – and waiting for the beginnings of Spring. We stay inside most of the time, it’s difficult to find motivation to go to class, let alone to see friends. We’re marooned on a snowy island, waiting for a rescue boat! No, this isn’t exactly the time of year we tend to be optimistic and cheery.

Which is why it’s the perfect time for this message I’ve been ruminating on for a couple weeks. (Keep in mind, these ‘advice’ articles are just as much [if not more] written to remind myself of things as they are to ‘advise’ you). And the message is:

Focus on the wells, forget about the buts.

I will give you a few examples:

  • Well, I love most of my body, but my butt is too big”
  • Well, it’s bright and sunny outside, but it’s -20 degrees”
  • Well, my boots keep the slush out, but they’re kind of ugly”
  • Well, I love my boyfriend, but he works too hard”

I’m not saying that ignoring the buts is easy, because it’s not. The buts are the things that stubbornly invade our “otherwise happy” days. They shout out for our attention, distract us from the positive, and seem to constantly take up more of our thoughts than the wells. But I would venture to say that happiness is in the wells. Think of it this way: most of the time, the buts are things we can’t control. They’re constant. You can’t change them. So what’s the point of fixating on them? They’re not going away. You can’t alter the weather, no matter how much you try, and your body will always have the same basic shape, no matter how much you work out. So why waste so much time and energy focusing on the buts and ignoring the wells?

Another way of putting it: practice gratitude. It may sound all hippie and new-agey, but I honestly think one of the very best ways to find happiness is to learn to be grateful for what you have right now. Sure, you may strive to achieve a better life for yourself, more cash money, more clothes, etc, and that’s all well and fine – it’s great to have goals. But the real happiness comes with acknowledging every day how great your life already is. Focusing on the sweet spots of your day, reminding yourself to be positive, diverting your attention from buts to wells.

For a ton of perspective, please read this amazing article from Danielle Laporte on why you’re privileged. Two of my favourite quotes from it:

Really, what’s the worst of your problems?

We have so many rights, must we exercise the right to complain?

As much as possible, we should try to pull ourselves out from under the rubble of negative thoughts that crowd our minds. The way I see it, if the negative things are there to stay, and so are the positive ones, I’d much rather expend my energy stubbornly reminding myself to stay positive, stay grateful, stay happy. And no, I’m not being happy-go-lucky about this, it’s not always going to work, and there’s no such thing as being happy all the time. You can’t have light without dark after all! But in those everyday situations where we have a choice between acting/thinking/speaking negatively or positively, I think we should always try to choose positive.

  • “Well, I love most of my body!”
  • “Well, it’s bright and sunny today!”
  • “Well, my boots keep the slush out!”
  • “Well, I love my boyfriend!”

Some of you are sitting there thinking: “Wow, how naive! She is being so unrealistic. The world is a tough place, after all.” I know it is. We all do. But I don’t think that being realistic (read: pessimistic) about the state of the world is going to help us achieve any happiness. I’m well aware of the dangers, horrors, and terrors of our world. Yet I’m also aware of the wonders, loves, and beauty of it. And when given the choice of what to focus on, I think it will bring me a great deal more happiness to stay positive.

I’d love to know what you think! How often do you find yourself “but-ing” the heck out of your day, getting pulled into a spiral of negative thinking? Or do you try and make a conscious effort to be grateful every day? Any tips or tricks for us newbs about how to stay positive?

xoxo,

Favourite Food Standbys

Okay, it’s time for me to fess up. You know how I always post photos of the delicious food I make, and make it seem like it’s no big thang.

In fact, it is kinda a big thang, and I can assure you that I do not make elaborate food every night of the week. I’m lucky enough to have great friends and a few great (and relatively cheap) restaurants near where I live, so I’ve found I only end up cooking about three nights of the week, and eat leftovers most of the other nights. I love love LOVE leftovers! I love big one-pot meals that last me countless lunches and dinners to come!

Today I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite go-to meals for whenever I don’t really feel like cooking for a couple days.

One Pot Meals

Since I’m a vegetarian, these are my standbys. Simple and nutritious, tons of protein, comforting and delicious. Perfect!

My Mum’s Vegetarian Chili


Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew: adapted from here. I make it without the green beans (only because I never have any!), and top with some goat’s cheese – YUM!

Hot and Sour Soup. I use a recipe similar to this one, but without the water chestnuts or bamboo shoots. It’s so wonderful for when you have a cold, or just the winter blues.

Pad Thai. It’s so full of yummy goodness: tofu, egg, peanuts, lime, cilantro…yummerdoodle! I find it easier to use a package or jarred sauce than to wrestle with tamarind. It’s not as authentic, and it has a bit more sodium, but it’s worth the convenience, I think! Just cook the tofu and egg and set to the side; then stirfry together boiled rice noodles and green onions, add some sauce, add tofu and egg, add cilantro and bean sprouts and more sauce. Serve with lime wedges and peanuts! Delicioso.

Quinoa salad. Quinoa is so amazing for you (read why here), and so easy to make. I like to add chopped carrots, green onions, nuts (walnuts or cashews), dried apricots, and beets and cauliflower if I have them around. I usually eat mine with some balsamic vinegar, and it’s so delicious! You can add any veggies you want to it, and it always tastes lovely.

Dishes I Pretend Are Dinner

Warning! I am not advocating these foods as necessarily good, vegetarian healthy options. These are just the dishes I tend to throw together when I’m too tired to cook anything!

Sweet potato fry poutine. Make a mushroom gravy, cook some sweet potato fry wedges tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper and a dash of cinnamon in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, top with cheese curds and gravy, and stuff your face.

Bruschetta. I couldn’t care less that it’s winter, this dish will never be out of season to me. I chop some tomatoes, sweet onion and yellow pepper and marinate them in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper. Then slice some baguette, top with the mixture, add some goat’s cheese and drizzle with some more balsamic vinegar. Then stick it under the broiler for a couple minutes until the bread starts to toast and the cheese starts to sizzle. Eat.

My favourite spinach salad. Spinach, sauteed red onions and mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, green onions, goat’s cheese and raspberry vinaigrette (not pictured, because I’m a silly goose).

Zucchini fritters. Oh man, this is my newest addiction. These things are delicious! And so easy. I roughly use this recipe, but mostly I just shred a zucchini, add an egg and enough flour to make it stick together, sprinkle the mixture with salt and pepper. Then form it into patties with your hands and fry like a pancake in some oil. Top with some sour cream!

Other Things I Tend to Eat

  • Various types of grilled cheese sandwiches: mozzarella and apricot jam, old cheddar and caramelized onions and mushrooms…etc, etc!
  • Perogies served with caramelized onions and sour cream
  • Tostadas with refried beans, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and shredded cheddar
  • Lasagna with zucchini and mushrooms
  • Stir fries with red cabbage, snow peas, tofu, and bean sprouts
  • Frozen pizza, my favourite is this one from President’s Choice – go Blue Menu! :)

I’d Love To Know..

What sorts of things do you eat for dinners? Are you a vegetarian or a meat-eater? What are your favourite go-to meals?  Let me know and give me some inspiration!! I always love to hear from you.

xoxo,