Sunday 29 November 2015

Morning Ritual

I don't get people who do not have breakfast in the morning. I know I would get a headache or feel sick if I didn't start with something in my stomach. Lately I have been trying to eat "clean". That just means that I try to eat whole foods, less processed, more proteins with complex carbohydrates at every meal. So, I have been choosing this smoothie as my breakfast a lot. It is a combination of something I saw on Dr. Oz last year, and my own taste preferences and need for protein in the morning. I have this smoothie on week days when I am going to work, as well as on weekends when I can slow down and not have to rush through my morning routine.
The ingredients (in the order that I put them in my blender) are: a generous handful of baby spinach, a couple of hefty spoonfuls of plain yogurt (which I forgot to include in the picture), a banana which has been peeled and broken apart into a few chunks, then frozen in its own ziplock bag (which I reuse over and over for more frozen bananas), frozen blueberries (maybe half a cup??), a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, and some almond milk so it will blend well. I used to just use water to top it up and blend it, but discovered almond milk. The taste is much better than soy milk, it has a lot of B12 in it, which is good for me right now, and it lasts a long time in the fridge. I wouldn't sit down to a big glass of it, but I like how it makes the smoothie taste.
This is the pretty colour that it ends up being after you pulse / blend it in a blender. I like to keep mine more on the thick side so it feels like I am having a milk shake for breakfast!!

I always start my day with one cup of coffee. But after coffee comes breakfast in the form of my protein smoothie. The rest of the ritual is that I sit at the computer and sip away at it through a bendy straw (yes, a bendy straw) and read blogs. This protein smoothie is delicious. You do not taste the spinach at all, if that is a concern. Best of all, it feels like a decadent treat.

What does your morning routine entail?

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Holy Snow Batman!!

This past weekend was quite busy. Our daughter in university texted us saying that she was feeling a bit homesick and could she come home. She does not have a car at university, so we would need to pick her up and take her back. So my husband left right after work on Friday and drove to the city in which her university is located, which thankfully is only a little more than an hour and a half away. The weather reports were calling for some substantial snow, but that sort of thing doesn't really bother my husband.

So, our daughter was home with us Friday evening which was fairly uneventful with everyone being tired by the end of the week, and son playing basketball. He is now learning the hard way how braces and an arm to the face don't go well together. He spent the weekend nursing the inside of his mouth which got a bit torn up by his braces.

When I got up on Saturday morning, I was greeted by this:
looking to the north

looking to the south
That was A LOT of snow that fell in a relatively short amount of time. We went to a nearby town to do some shopping and the snow continued later in the afternoon, and like every year before this one, the first significant snow was not removed by snowplows until the next day. We had a tricky drive home!

When I was grocery shopping Saturday morning with my daughter, I saw what I can only describe as my own personal Christmas nightmare.
Yes, it is a huge display of fruit cake. I know, I know... there are lots of people out there who like, maybe love, fruitcake. I am not one of them. I think of fruitcake as a gift that you give to someone you hate. I remember as a child seeing slices of fruit cake and thinking all those colourful pieces of fruit and that lovely thick white icing on the top must be something sweet and wonderful. Then I would take a bite and it was everything I could do to keep it in my mouth and swallow it. I guess I am just not equipped with the right "fruitcake tastebuds". I really think the world can be easily divided into two categories of people. Those who love fruitcake and those who hate it. I don't even think there is an inbetween.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend was spent with close friends, eating my first ever whole chicken I made in a crockpot (pretty good, very moist!), and driving my daughter back to her university town , thankfully on cleared roads with not much snow in the air.

In which category are you? Love or hate fruitcake?

Sunday 15 November 2015

Snow... not yet, please

Yesterday morning I awoke to a light dusting of snow. It melted by about noon.

How did that make me feel? Well, I actually felt grateful that we hadn't really had much of anything in terms of snow before now. In previous years we have certainly had snow by mid November and much colder weather.

I realized that an adult's perspective on the first snow is so different than a child's. I remember the excitement of looking out the window in the morning, as a little girl, and having that thrill of being able to bundle up and go outside in the snow. The first snow meant you were getting closer to Christmas which was an excitement that was palpable, an excitement that vibrated within you.

Now when I see the first snow, I feel a slow building of dread. I think of driving through storms and of cleaning off the vehicle before you can leave work to come home. I think of cold fingers, cold feet, lack of sunlight, icy roads. I think of this:

Or perhaps this:

 Today, however, is a whole different story. Today is warm, sunny, envigorating. I went for a walk to the post office, and then a little farther. I tossed the slowly sagging jack-o-lantern from the front porch and put the wooden bistro set in the shed. I grabbed some more landscape fabric to cover the bed close to the house that I cleared a couple of weeks ago and anchored it with rocks from the back of our property. Now I won't have to fight with weeds in the spring when I want to start planting in there. I put a couple of planks of wood down over the landscape fabric so the oil delivery guy will walk on the wood to get to where he fills our oil tank, rather than ripping away the fabric and defeating my work. (Well, until it gets completely covered in snow, than it won't matter, he will be walking through a narrow path that we carve out of a snow bank for him).

But let's hope that the snow bank waits for a few more weeks, at least.

Lest you think that I am unaware of what is going on in the world, I am thinking about what happened in Paris, and of the many people who intended to go out for a bit of fun on a Friday night and ended up never coming home. There are no words.

Friday 6 November 2015

Living Past 100 and Blue Zones

Last night on tv I was watching a programme about  being able to live well past 100 years of age. In this programme, they discussed how as long as the brain is working, we should be able to use "bionics" or robotics to do the tasks that our muscles and limbs would normally do. They showed a man in his 80's who competes in track and field events, as well as a woman who did NOT look 82 years old. Also, the programme spoke about Sardinia, Italy and an area of Japan which are described as Blue Zones. These, and other areas, are parts of the world in which people live much longer. Not only do they live longer, but they are healthier and able to continue to do things in their advanced years.

Some of the common denominators of  Blue Zone areas (I've read the book, it's excellent) are that people have a sense of community, they get together with other people, they don't live out their final years in isolation. Also, their diet is not one filled with processed food. They also use their bodies in purposeful ways everyday. For example, they may walk everywhere, or sit down on the floor and stand up again multiple times a day, or they may machete the undergrowth that encroaches their yard all the time. These elders do not lie in a bed and watch tv day after day. They get up early, boil water, perhaps cut some firewood, walk somewhere, meet with other family members, eat fish or vegetables, or drink red wine, or tea. These people have a reason to get up in the morning.

The tv show really had me thinking (as did the book when I read it a few years ago) about aging. I am currently 49 years old and dealing with all the usual 49 year old female stuff where I swear I am forgetting everything and I feel like an "old woman" when I get out of bed in the morning. My job is mentally exhausting and I have no energy by the end of the work week. I get scared that I won't have enough energy to enjoy life to its fullest upon retirement. I worry about how I feel physically right now. If I am "creaky" and achy now, what will I be like when I am in my 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond.

Do people really want to live past 100 years? What would your life be like? I suppose if all of your friends and family members also continued to live longer, it would be better because then you would have them to share experiences with. I would not want to live to be incredibly old if my health was failing. I've seen far too many people in nursing homes whose failing brains did not allow them to recognize their own children. They could no longer walk on their own legs or feed themselves. To be curled up on a bed unable to communicate and depend on someone else for every function would not be the way I would want to exist for many years beyond the normal life expectancy of humans.

I don't know if I am odd in this, but I always read the obituaries in my little small town newspaper. I always want to see how old people were. I am fascinated by the people who live a long time, but are still vibrant, contributing, mobile, interested people. I want to know what makes them tick. I want to know why they were able to carry on a long, healthy life, but others have not. Is it just good genes? Is it about never really "retiring", but instead being busy and involved in many things?

Sometimes I think that when I retire and get rid of job stress and mental exhaustion, that it will be a chance to really "live" and spend time the way I want and go places, do things, or maybe do nothing at all for a while and experience quiet and blissful laziness (although I don't think I could do that for very long).

Do you know someone who lived to a ripe old age and had all of their faculties about them, continued to drive, do things, go places...? What was their secret?