I’ve seen it all

Every time I travel, I see or learn something new. Lately I’ve been connecting through Chicago. Long the bastion of velvet track pants and McDonald’s takeout, my expectations for O’Hare are not very high. But this week’s “something new” was a low point, ever for Chicago. Two ladies boarding my plane walked on with a medium pizza in a cardboard takeout box. The thing hardly fit down the isle. She had to hold it up, because it wouldn’t fit between the seats. This made the guy next to me munching on a quarter-pounder from McDonalds look refined.

 

29 Days of Giving?

At first this didn’t sound like much, but then I started asking myself what would I do every day for a month, or from now until Christmas. My quick mental tally didn’t hit 29.

Where is this coming from? Well I was reading Body&Soul magazine last week (I had the flu… my reading selections deteriorate) and there was an article about this woman who started a with a challenge to herself to do give 29 gifts in 29 days. Christmas with a large extended family did not count. From that one month of giving, she started doing it again, and again and then started sharing the idea with others. Now there’s a whole web site dedicated to the whole idea of 29 days of giving. The idea behind why she started this campaign resonated with me. The focus was to stop being so internally focused. I’ve been finding myself saying “when I get through this patch, I’ll start doing XYZ again”. Well that was the plan in August, and September. I don’t even know what happened in October, and here we are in November. Clearly that “patch” is longer than anticipated and I need to find another way out. Perhaps 29 days (or 38 until Christmas) would be one way.

I couldn’t find the article from this month’s Body&Soul, but here’s one about the benefits of giving. Apparently it’s good for you (the old better to give than receive notion come true).

Needless to say, this article got me thinking: thinking about the toys I’m supposed to give to my nephew, about the friend I was supposed to call, about what to get my dad for Christmas. These people, and so many more give me a lot every day – chores, advise, shoulder to cry on, and lately I’ve been focused on me and my little family, just trying to get through work.

I’m not ready to commit to publishing my daily gift, as you likely don’t want to know that I gave the guy outside my office $5, and I’m not sure my ego could take letting the world know that my big gift for the day was returned a phone call after 2 months. I will however try to have regular updates, in the vein of: “things are going great, I love this giving thing”, to “what giving project? I’m not doing that any more.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A twist on buying local

There’s a chain mail going around the internet (excerpt posted below) encouraging all of us to spend a few more minutes thinking not just about buying local produce, but about buying local goods.  This to me makes a modicum of sense.  I’m not thrilled with the idea of buying toothpaste made in China or Mexico.  And, if there’s a way to keep a factory going in some small town in Ontario, Quebec or wherever, I’d rather be doing that, than sending my money oversees.  I’ve started looking at labels for toothpaste, clothing, duct tape, etc.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much of this stuff is made in Canada.

My city councilor must travel in the same e-mail circles as me, as her last newsletter mentioned buying Canadian toothpaste and lightbulb.  Here’s the version of the e-mail that made it to my inbox:

Check this out. I can verify this because I was in Lowe’s the other day and just for the heck of it I was looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day I was in Home Hardware and, just for the heck of it, I checked the hose attachments there. They were made in Canada.  Start looking.

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else – even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this woman is on the right track. Let’s get behind her!

My grandson likes Hershey’s candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now.  I do not buy it any more. My favourite toothpaste – Colgate – is made in Mexico now.  I have switched to Crest.  You have to read the labels on everything.

This past weekend I was at Wal-mart.  I needed 60W light bulbs.  I was in the light bulb aisle and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labelled, “Everyday Value.”  I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats – they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand, but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in – get ready for this – in Canada in a company in Ontario.

So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.

My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in Canada; the job you save may be your own or your neighbour’s!

We canceled our CSA service

I was sad to do this.  I was more sad as I was picking through moldy beets at the grocery store, trying to find something edible.  The produce we’ve been getting from Bryson Farms has been outstanding.  It tastes fantastic, it’s colourful, it looks fantastic, it lasts a long time, etc.

Canceling the service is part of our ‘simplification plan’.  The challenge with a basket of produce that gets delivered, is that it arrives mid-week and then I have to plan my meals around what’s in the box.   This is more time consuming that going through my recipe binder and picking out the first  6 meals that look interesting to me.

Always an evolution here at the house.  It will only take a couple of weeks of moldy, wilted produce for me to go back to the CSA.

An update on chocolate pudding

A friend sent me this recipe the other week.  There is no reason why this shouldn’t be fantastic.  We’re having it as soon as the avocados on my counter soften.  Whether you’re looking for an alternative that’s healthier, or a dairy free pudding, or a vegan pudding, this recipe fits the bill.

Chocolate pudding:

1 avocado, smashed
1 banana, smashed
4-6 pitted dated, chop and boil with just enough water to soften
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup water

Blend ’til super smooth – refrigerate 1 hour.  Enjoy

Menu Plan | October 25

I’ve been back menu planning the past couple of weeks.  It’s still a pain to be cooking the night before, so that things are easy when I get home from work. But it beets trying to get dinner on the table with two hungry boys clinging to me in the kitchen.  Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Sunday:  Roast chicken marinated in indian spices, creamed peas and onions, beet salad
Monday: Broiled salmon on kale, smashed potatoes and sliced cucumber
Tuesday: Croque Monsieur and green salad
Wednesday: Corn Chowder and green salad
Thursday:  edamame spread, miso soup, and still looking for a third element
Friday: Homemade pizza

We’ve been trying to simplify our meals, to make things easier and faster.  We tried two weeks of plain food, i.e. baked chicken with steamed vegetables – no sauce/spices, etc.  Ich. It was terrible.  No one wanted to eat the stuff, no one wanted the left overs.  Now we’re trying either no recipes, but still spices (even if it’s only garlic) or very simple recipes.

Good Ideas |Weekend without the kids

Most of our friends seem to fall into one of two categories:  “OMG I would never leave my baby alone over night”… or “Three is the perfect age to start leaving kids at home while I go on a real vacation”.  We’re falling somewhere in the middle.  I wouldn’t want to leave my kids for a whole week, I do enough of that traveling for work.  But a weekend?  That’s a different story.  We just came back (I say just, becuase it’s Thursday and I haven’t had a chance to do laundry since we got home on Sunday) from a weekend in NYC.

New York is fun with kids, but it’s great without them.  We went to see a play (together).  Last time we staggered our shows ~ one of us went out and the other stayed at the hotel with sleeping baby.  We shopped in real stores, and even managed to get out of FAO Schwartz without too much damage. The other great benefit of being away for 4 days, was being called by my first name.  Strange how even those little things make a difference.  Big things help too, my early birthday present was a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.  They are beautiful and are currently sitting on our dresser so I can look at them.

It will likely be another year or two before we head out on our own like that, but I’ll be looking forward to it.

This time I think it is only me

Whether you’re a parent or a soon to be parent, one of the lessons you learn is that no matter how bizarre the situation may seem to you, you are not the only one out there going through that experience.  There are likely whole face book communities devoted to what ever your issue/challenge/concern might happen to be. 

 

Usually I find this a comforting thought.  But now, I think I’m out on my own limb.  I find myself saying the following at the dinner table:  you must eat something besides vegetables;  vegetables are good for you, but you need to have something else; no you cannot have dessert, you need to eat something besides vegetables for supper.

 

I am not a mom who makes two meals.  I am a mom who’s one year old picked out his beets and swiss chard out of supper and the yelled because there was no more.  I am a mom who’s three year old eats eat broccoli, peppers and tomatoes like hand fruit.  I am also a mom who is not complaining about the situation.  I just think we’re all a little weird.

Key to health: Just Eat Food

I follow a couple of health blogs and regularly devour the health page in the Globe&Mail.  I am forever reading about some ‘new’ vegetable, bean or berry that will be good for my health.  For years this has simply been interesting information thatI’ve filled away in my little brain.

This summer you’ve no doubt seen the campaign warning us about salt.  It turns out that packaged foods (i.e. the stuff made in a factory by companies trying to make money) have a high sodium content in order to preserve shelf life and camouflage lack of flavour. Duh!  Of course that’s what salt is for.  That’s why Europeans were so excited to start trading for salt and pepper – to improve the flavour of bad or bland food.

As far as I can tell, your best bet is to simply eat food.  Real food, not from a package, not from a factory, just food. It doesn’t have to be complicated food as suggested in the latest ‘enzyme diet’, just regular old fruits, vegetable, whole grains, lean protein.