Saturday, October 30, 2010

Goal #1 Create My Vision

Are you good at setting goals?  Are you good at achieving the goals you have set for yourself?  I have read so many times on blogs and in various books about the importance of setting goals for motivation and for creating a vision for your future.  The process of setting goals is meant to help you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts.

So far, in my life goal setting is something I have not been good at.  That is not to say I haven't made some pretty significant achievements in my life.  But I have never been good at laying out a life plan or strategy.  I have big, lofty goals like getting married and having a family but when it comes to setting quantifiable goals and sticking to a plan to achieve them I flop.  Big time. 

I understand the theory behind goal setting but I guess my real problem lies in the fact that I don't really know what I want.  Sure, I could say I want to train for a 10km race (which I have done successfully in the past) but, I have to be honest, running 10km doesn't really seem like much of an achievement to me.  Sure it is hard, but not really goal-worthy in my mind.  I could commit to writing this blog (which I have) but how to I quantify my success?


So, here is what I am going to do.  I need to kick-start my life with a vision.  I need to plan and visualize what I want to be doing and how I am going to be living in the future.  I never really thought much about my future.  Once I was out of school and working I figured this was my future.  But it seems I got stuck. 

I have seen a lot of info about vision boards and  inspiration boards.  I am a creative and visual person so maybe this will be a good place for me to start.  My goal for this week is to create a vision board - a vision of my life in 5 years.  Who do I want to be?  Where to I want to go?  What do I want to do?

How to you set goals and stay motivated?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Wonderland

It was a beautiful, although chilly, fall day in southwestern Ontario today. 




The leaves are almost gone off most of the trees. Some trees, like the one in my front yard, are holding on thigh to their fall foliage.  It seems that our front tree is always the last on the street to give up its leaves.  It is so beautiful.






I did not have the best week and needed some extra outside time.  Most of this week has been windy and raining.  But today was lovely.  So, when I got home I quickly changed into my mucking around clothes and headed out back to play with the dogs and get some photos of this lovely day.  The dogs ran around like crazy (as usual).  They are so fast I can barely get a picture of them.



Zoom!  Zoom!
Even though the leaves are falling off the trees and are mostly covering the ground these days...






...there is still some life and colour in my garden.  Some flowers and some greenery can still be found if you know where to look.






I can't believe I still have flowers in my garden and it is almost November.  Beautiful.


What are you up to this weekend?  Anything special?  My family is having a little gathering to celebrate a couple of birthdays.  One of which is MINE!  OK, technically, my birthday isn't until Tuesday but since my step-dad's birthday was on Wednesday we decided that a dual celebration this Saturday was in order.  Rest assured there will be cake and gifts all around.  And probably even a few drinks.  The family is good for that kind of thing.

I am also hoping the weather stays nice so I can spend some time outside getting some fresh air before our Canadian winter hits.  It could really happen at any minute.  Well, I am off to do some reading then going to be early.  I know, how lame is it to go to bed early on a Friday night?  I am OK with it.   Have a good night.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

PBG Recipe: Clam Chowder

I love soup.  I make a big pot of soup at least once a week.  Even in the summer.  Soup is such an easy way to get lots of flavour and lots of veggies into your diet.  I have to admit, I do love cream soups and good clam chowder is one of my favourites.  |I had never made clam chowder before so I did some google-ing, made some additions to beef up the veggie content and attempted my first clam chowder.  Not too bad if I do say so myself. 


3 tsp butter
1 cup onion, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 can clams (6-1/2 ounces)
1 cup bottled clam juice
2 cups 35% cream
2 cups chicken stock
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, saute onion, garlic in 1 tsp butter over low heat. Do not allow to brown.  Add carrots and celery and saute for another 3-4 minutes. 

Add clam juice and chicken stock and bring to a simmer and add potatoes.  Let simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

In a separate saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Slowly stir in the flour to make a roux.  Continue to stir the roux for 1-2 minutes.  Add cream and simmer until thickened.  

Add clams and thickened cream mixture to soup pot and heat to serving temperature. Do not allow to boil, as this toughens the clams.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PBG Reveal

I am almost 33 (my birthday is next week in case you want to buy me something) and my mom still calls me by the same nickname she did when I was a baby.  And no, I am not telling you what it is.


I am a Scorpio (did I mention it is my birthday next Tuesday?)

My favourite number is 2.  Why?  My birthday is November 2.  November is the 2nd last month of the year.  It is also the 11th month of the year and 1+1=2. 

I haven't had a birthday party since I was a child.  Family functions don't count.  So sad :(


PBG Recipe: Apricot Oat Squares

I first saw this recipe over at Oh She Glows - good job Angela.  As soon as I saw the ingredient list I knew I was going to make these.  I had all the ingredients on hand and have been looking for a good mid-morning snack option for work.  This seemed to fit the bill perfectly. 




I made a few very minor tweaks to make it my own and went to town.  They turned out pretty good. I think next time I am going to incorporate some nut butter into the base mixture.  Yum!


1.5 cups regular oats
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 chia egg (1 tbsp chia seeds+ 4 tbsp warm water)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp chocolate almond milk
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 cup fruit jam of your choice (I used apricot)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a square pan with parchment paper or use a non-stick pan like my funky silicone one.

In a small bowl, mix the chia seeds with the water and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. 

In a small bowl, mix the melted butter, maple syrup, almond milk, and chia egg. Stir well.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well.

Pour the oat mixture onto a square pan and press down firmly into the pan.  

Spread fruit jam on top of the oat base and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.  Press the seeds into the jam.

Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes. Allow to fully cool for at least 30-40 minutes before gently removing from pan. Slice and then store in a container or wrap in individual squares and freeze.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Considering Vegetarianism

I never intended to become a vegetarian.  And, as of right now, I am not.  I don't want to be a vegetarian.  I am worried it will be difficult to remain healthy and get the protein I need for my workouts and muscle development.  I don't want to be an inconvenience at family (food related) gatherings.  I don't want to be preachy when I discuss the topic. But, my perspective on food and my understanding of animal welfare has changed recently and once you learn about something you can't unlearn it. 

I never had a problem with killing animals for food.  In theory, it is part of nature.  Animals kill other animals all the time for food.  As humans, we are just really good at it.  Unfortunately, what I have come to realize is that the majority of the killing that happens to the animals that we eat is cruel and unusual punishment. 


Having recently read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer I can not help but be compelled to change the way I think about animal protein in my diet.  The book is an eye opener.   Current factory farming and slaughterhouse practices are appalling to say the least.  Some of the passages I read could have come from a horror movie.  I will not go into detail about the  inhumane treatment of the animals we eat but I will tell you that this cruel treatment is the norm, not the exception.  Even our attempts to make ethical choices in the meat that we eat may not really be making that much of a difference in the lives of these poor animals.

I have tried to talk to a few people about my new view on meat and most respond in one of two ways.  Either they think it is our right as humans to kill for food or they just "don't want to know".  I used to be in the second category.  I didn't know the gory details and I didn't want to know.  But, by nature I am a curious person and after several discussions with a good friend about slaughterhouses (we have such appropriate lunchtime conversations) I had to know the truth.  I had to know more.  And now I do know more and it is overwhelming.  I can not even begin to imagine the terrible existence most factory farm animals have.  I was almost brought to tears several times while reading the book.

Today, at the farmers market, I saw some cows in the field next door.  I walked over to take a look.  Thankfully these cows were in a field, eating grass and playing.  Not locked in a factory farm feed lot.  But, they were beautiful, and playful, and alive.  And standing there with my mother, watching them I could not imagine what terrible end they may encounter. 

I don't want to be a vegetarian but I might have to be.  Can I really justify this cruelty towards animals just because I like the taste of a bacon cheeseburger?  Is that fair?  I know the vegetarianism is not for everyone and I have no intention of converting anyone.  But I do beg you to read this book.  I don't think anyone can read this book and not be affected to make some change in their approach to the eating of meat. 

Do you practice ethical eating?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Sum of Your Parts

Today is National Love Your Body Day!  Now, I will admit I did not even know such a wonderful day existed until today.  When I read about it this morning I thought, "I can embrace this, it is such an amazing concept." 

How audacious...to love your body not in spite of it's imperfections but because of them.  Brilliant!  Like most women, I struggle with my image of myself all the time.  But, in this moment, for this one day I vowed to love my body.  Totally.  Completely. 

So, I sat down and made a list.  A list that I think all women should write and post on their fridge.  A list of all the things I love about my body.  Here is my list (in no particular order):
  1. I am tall.  5'9 and I love very inch of it.  I love to wear 4" heels - even if that means I have to look at the tops of everyone's head.
  2. My booty.  I've got some junk in the trunk and I am ok with that.
  3. My legs.  Because they took me on a 10km run when I thought I could never be a runner. 
  4. My brain.  I am one smart cookie (did someone say cookie?  I could go for a snack right about now.)
  5. My heart.  It keeps me alive and it keeps me going no matter how many times it has been broken.
  6. My smile.  It is often goofy and always genuine. (proof of goofy smile is below)
  7. My arms.  I give a mean hug.  If you ever need a hug let me know.  These arms were made for hugging.
It can be hard for many women to make a list like this but it is important that we all begin to understand that our worth as human beings does not lie in how we are viewed by others but in how we view ourselves.  Love all of your parts - big and small, soft and hard, awkward and graceful.  Love it all.  Because you are the full sum of all your beautiful parts. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Starting Over

Today I am starting over.  Fresh.  A clean slate.  Today I am back at square one.  There is no more tomorrow, only today. 

My life will be different now.  I know, for the first while it will not seem better.  In fact, I am sure it will seem dark and lonely.  And while it seems impossible now, I know I will make it through this transition.  This is all part of the journey. 



I will try not to stumble as I take my first few steps.  I hope you will stick around to see where I end up.  It promises to be a bumpy ride but I am looking forward to the destination - even if I have no idea where I am going to end up.  I hope we can have some fun along the way.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

PBG Recipe: Chocolate Summer Squash Loaf

I was looking for a way to use up the rest of these very cute summer squash that I bought earlier.  There were way to cute to go to waste.


And, as usual, I was craving something sweet.  Ideally, something with chocolate.  So, a chocolate zucchini loaf was the obvious answer.  I googled a few basic recipes and came up with the following sinful list of ingredients.  The final product was moist and chocolaty.  I made 2 loaves and thankfully have some family members that are more than willing to help me eat my creations.  




Chocolate ZucchiniLoaf

Makes 2 loaves.

1/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1 heaping tbsp Greek yogurt
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsps cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

In large bowl, cream together oil, butter, yogurt, apple sauce and sugars.  Stir in eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and stir until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into two greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.

Bake in preheated 350F oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.


Eat a slice, or two, or three with your family, friends or even by yourself.  I promise I won't tell anyone.

Friday, October 15, 2010

PBG Pups: Mrs. Bella

Guest Post by Bella.

Hi there!  My name is Bella.  My mom calls me lots of names.  Bella.  Bells.  Hells Bells.  Miss B.  Nice to meet you.


I am a Catahoula Boxer cross and I live with my mom in London, Ontario.  I don't mean to toot my own horn but have you ever seen a paint job as gorgeous as mine.  And my blue eye always catches everyone's attention. 


Whenever I am out with my mom on a walk or at PetSmart friendly people are always giving me compliments and telling me I am a pretty girl.  I can't really argue with them...I am pretty cute. 


The life of a Catahoula Boxer is pretty easy.  I spend a lot of time cuddling on the couch with mom.  My favourite spot is right between mom's legs when she is trying to watch TV.  So warm a snuggly.  I have to admit, mom is a pretty good snuggler too.  I am sure she loves it as much as I do.  Who doesn't love a good cuddle?  And besides, how could she resist this face?


My job is to guard the back yard and I take it very seriously.  It is my job to make sure we have no one trespassing in the back yard.  The worst offenders are squirrels.  Man, how I hate those darn squirrels.  Grrrr!


Well, I gotta run.  I have places to go and things to do.  Very busy.  Very busy.  Thanks for stopping by my mom's blog.  You might see me around here once and a while.  Have a good night!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Winds of Change

There are some things going down in the PBG household.  Big things.  Scary things.  I am doing my best to deal with it, but I don't think I am doing a very good job so far.  But, I keep telling myself that change is good.  Change means progress.  And while I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel right now I know it is there. I just have to go a little further into the tunnel..a little further...I can do it.  Maybe a flashlight would help?


So, what does a foodie do when she is given lemons?  She makes lemonade.  Well, I really wanted a lemon drop martini but I settled for a fruit plate instead...but it has a lemon yogurt dressing so it's kind of the same thing.  Ok, not really.  But it was still good.


This beautiful salad has a mix of plums, peaches, kiwi fruit and raspberries.  The dressing is a 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice and agave nectar.  I sprinkled some chia seeds on top for good measure and dug in.  Very refreshing!

How do you deal with big change?  Do you embrace it?  Or does change scare you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

PBG Recipe: Artichoke Dip

This is a slightly healthier version of the Artichoke Dip everyone loves to have at a party. The beans provide some protein and add creaminess usually created with lots of cheese.  You could easily add your own twist.  I think the addition of capers would be good or some roasted eggplant.   Enjoy!


PBG Artichoke Dip
 1 can artichokes, drained and rinsed
1/2 can white kidney beans
1/2 package light cream cheese, softened
zest and juice of half a lemon
olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic (I used roasted garlic since that is what I had)
3 tbsp chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste



Directions
Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Fold in chives until thoroughly mixed.  Spoon into a serving dish and drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.  Serve with chips, veggies or crackers for dipping.  I imagine this would also make a very yummy sandwich spread.




Tuesday, October 12, 2010

PBG Book Club: These Books Changed My Life

About a year ago a friend of mine suggested I read a few books he had recently read.  He told me that he had read them recently and they had changed his perspective on food and exercise in a big way.  I have always tried to be healthy and active, and generally speaking I think I have been mostly sucessful.  I am the kind of person that read everything, love to learn and I am always looking for a new perspective, so I borrowed the books and started to read.

I can honestly say the following two books changed my life.  I know that is a big statement.  And, for the most part I am not a dramatic person.  But, the following books really did have a huge impace on my life and the choices I choose to make going forward.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall




 


If you haven't read these books, you should. They will open your eyes to some issues and ideas that you may not have thought of on your own.  Now, don't worry, this is not a book report.  I don't want to bore you to death with too many specifics or details but what I will do is highlight the points that hit home for me.

In Defence of Food
Eat food.  Mostly plants.  Not too much.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  Pollan keeps coming back to this point over and over again throughout the book.  But, if it was so simple why aren't we all doing it?  I am not a vegatarian, and I don't plan to be. But, thanks to Pollan I am now a Flexitarian.  If you are like me and had no clue what a Flexitarian is then let me explain.  A Flexitarian is a vegetarian, most of the time but occasionally eats meat and other animal products.  I can do that, I thought.  And I did.  I still eat meat, but not every day.  I rarely buy processed foods and I try to buy local when I can.  Pollan offers a lot of information and statistics about food production, nutrition and the business of food.  There are so many scary statistics it is mind boggling...even a little overwhelming but it does make you think.  A lot.  I could not stop talking about this book after I read it. 

Born to Run
Born to run documents the epic adventure of the author, Christopher McDougall, that all begins when he questions why he can't run without pain.  This question leads him to discover the Taramahura tribe in Mexico who seem to have a superhuman ability to run very long distances with frightening ease just for fun. We meet an inspiring cast of characters including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.  Each character offers his or her perspective on running and offer some amazing inspiration along the way.  As I have discussed before, I do not consider myself a real runner.  But this book is so inspiring it makes me WANT to love running.  It makes me WANT to get out there and just pound the pavement.  Even if you are not a runner you should read this book.  I promise, you will be inspired.  I could not put this book down, it was that good. 

When read together these books had the power to change my entire mindset regarding food and exercise.  Food should be real and exercise should feel good.  While these might seem like pretty straight forward concepts I think sometimes we lose sight of the obvious.  Trying to strike a balance between what is good for me and what is good for the planet can be tough.  Right now, I am making small changes everyday to the best of my ability.  Big changes are scary...small changes are easy.  So, what does that mean for me?  That means, that right now my food choices are based 50% on nutrition and 50% on ethics.  It means that I eat less meat and I am making more of an effort to know where my food comes from and how it is treated.  It also means that I have to exercise consistantly to maintain my health but I do not have to run a marathon or even run any races to be happy with my level of fitness. 

I hope you take the time to read these books.  They changed my life, maybe they can change yours.  The next book on my radar is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I saw an interview with him this morning on television and I am interested to read his perspective on eating animals.

Have you read any books that changed your life?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanksgiving....PBG Style

Yesterday I gave you a little taste of our Thanksgiving Day feast.  It looked good, didn't it?  Everything was so good.  We started the afternoon with a little bit of wackiness.



Then it was time to get down to business.  We started with cheese and crackers.


Homemade (by me!) Artichoke dip.  This was a fan favourite.   I will be posting the recipe soon.


A  close up of the Artichoke dip.


Tipsy olives stuffed with blue cheese.


Even after all those snacks we still had room for dinner.  The highlight of the evening was the turkey.  My brother was in charge of the turkey and he took it very seriously. 



Here is the beautiful bird before.  Stephen actually took the time to brine the turkey in salt, sugar water a spices for 12 hours prior to cooking it.  The brining process makes the turkey so flavourful and juicy without adding much additional spices during the cooking process.


There was a slight malfunction with the meat thermometer so we cooked the bird for an extra 20 minutes just to be sure we didn't all end up with food poisoning.  Needless to say, the bird was cooked perfectly and we all survived.  And here it is in all it's golden and juicy glory.  It was so tasty. 


Our side dishes included garlic mashed potatos...



carrot and turnip mash...


peas...


When dinner was finally over it was my time to shine.  Dessert!  We decided to make fudgey brownies to have with ice cream and whipped topping.  These were not healthy.  These were not whole foods.  But, they were yummy.






My brother and I had a good time getting everything ready.  And my mom was so happy to have someone else doing most of the work this year. 


I often get told how much I look like my mom (and NOTHING like my brother).  Can't really argue with that too much after looking at pictures like this.  But, just to clarify I pay a lot of money for that hair colour, my mom comes by her's naturally. 


My mom is Dutch.  As part of her genetic makeup is the cleaning gene.  So, even though we told her to relax and take a break she insisted on following behind us trying to keep up with the mess.




In the end it was a fun day.  We had a good time cooking, a better time eating and a great time just being together.  My (almost) sister-in-law is a budding photographer and actually took most of the pictures throughout the day.  She did such a great job, didn't she?  Thanks Melanie!

How was your weekend?  The BF should be back this afternoon and I have an Ultimate Frisbee game at 6:30.  We are short on players again so it could be another rough game of wheezing and running.