Tuesday, 28 February 2012

body beautiful

Change the way you look at your body. I dare you. Just stop for a minute and take the time to really focus on the amazing things your body does for you. What makes you unique? What do you love about your body? Yourself?

Here are some of the reasons why I LOVE my body.

Because my body is trusting. Even after everything I put it through. And it is forgiving, especially when I have a bad day and fall back into old habits.

Because it enabled me to be a highly competitive basketball player. Without any serious injuries.

Because I can run. Run after my girls, run with my dad, run races. Without knee pain.

Because I am tall.

Because this body nourished, grew, carried and delivered my two amazing daughters.

Because of my body type, I have a small waist.

Because I have really great teeth.

Because a number on a scale doesn't determine it's worth.

Because my eyes light up when I am talking about the things that I love.

Because my body is wise. It tells me when to slow down. When to be cautious. When to act and when to react.

If I wrote this list 10 years ago, it would have been very different. I now look at my body in a whole new way. Embracing imperfections.  Embracing what makes me unique. 
 My body is beautiful.  And so is yours. 
So let's start focusing on the wonderful things that our bodies do, not just how they look.
image: 123rf

Please share - what is it about your body that you love?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

the colours of curry

Curry. There are so many reasons why I love curry. The flavours, the colours, the smells, the taste!  And now thanks to my wonderful neighbour and friend, I love the process of creating it.

Friday morning, while the fluffy white snow fell, Wendy and I started our first creative exchange.  As I have mentioned before, I love to make things. Experiment. Step out of my comfort zone and try new things. To grow and learn.  So when Wendy asked me if I'd be interested in doing an exchange
(read about Wendy's experience here)  - my styling expertise for her cooking expertise - I was all over it!

Indian food is a staple in our house.  Most families have pizza night, well, we have curry night.  Most of the time we order it. Simple, quick and delicious, and our restaurant of choice is Darbar. However, on the rare occasion that I decide to make it, it usually comes out of a jar.  I have tried making my own from scratch too, but it never seemed to turn out the way I expected it to, or liked.  Plus, I am terrible at following recipes!  I prefer to just "wing" it and add whatever I like and whatever I have on hand (one reason why I love to make soups).

Enter Wendy.  We first got a taste of Wendy's cooking prowess after our daughter Ryan was born.  She made us quinoa, curried beets along with a vegetable curry. Needless to say, it was delicious! Lucky for us, since she lives two doors up, we get to sample some of her cooking on a fairly regular basis.

 Cooking with Wendy was a fun and relaxing experience.  There was no pressure for perfection.  Just guidance. And laughs. Lots of laughs.  Wendy is a joyful person. She loves to cook. Loves to be around people. And she is one beautiful singer - check it out for yourself. 

The three dishes that we made were: 
Butternut squash curry with coconut milk
Cabbage curry
Lentil curry with carrots
& Peach chutney

The ingredients were fresh. The recipes were easy. And the final products were amazing.  

our spice selection

adding canned tomatoes to each dish

butternut squash curry with coconut milk

cabbage curry

adding grated beets to the cabbage curry

lentil & carrot curry

our creations

what I got to take home!!

I had such a great time cooking with Wendy. I feel more empowered and I am still amazed at how easy it all was.  My husband was thrilled when I came home with jars full of this yumminess. And I am now looking forward to our next curry night when I attempt it all by myself. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What's in your closet?

I have seen many a closet, and although the items inside may be vastly different from one to the next, there is an underlying similarity - emotional attachment.  Every client has a story behind their most loved - or not so loved - piece.  They can remember when and where it was purchased or given to them. Where they wore it.  Why they bought it.  And how it made them feel.  I get it. I have items like that too.

One piece that fits that description is my pink leather jacket.  I bought it 15 years ago at a clothing sale at Place Bonaventure in Montreal.  It was love at first sight.  I knew I had to have it. I loved the fact that it was a bold, attention grabbing piece. It was unique - at least at the time it was.  It last saw the light of day just under 10 years ago.  I wore it for a photo shoot I had done while I lived in England.  It's because of those images that I no longer wear it!  Bubble gum pink leather jacket with rolled-up jeans. Long blond hair, reminiscent of Britney Spears. Yikes!  But I can't let it go. Why? For one, I really do want to wear it again. And secondly, it reminds me of my time in England.  A time when I really discovered myself. What I wanted. Who I wanted to be. That was a pivotal time in my life. And my bold, pink leather jacket was part of that process.

Maybe this spring I will bring it out of retirement.  All I know, is I better get wear out it sooner rather than later. I have a feeling if I wear it when my girls are older, I may just give them an extra reason to be embarrassed by me.

Alright, so I shared mine.  Now let's hear what item you are still holding on to and why!

Side note: If I can find a picture from the photo shoot, I will post it. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

art of music

My husband and I are big time music fans. For our wedding, we made sure we chose EVERY song on the playlist.  Yes, we are that hardcore. However, neither of us can sing (doesn't seem to stop me though), and neither if us can play an instrument.  Our love for music is one of the things that brought us together and we hope that it will also play a major role in our girls lives. 

Here are some fun, music inspired kids books that we have picked up along the way - in our quest to mould our girls into musicians.  

Yellow Bird Project - colouring book
Montreal-based, nonprofit Yellow Bird Project, have created this really cool indie rock colouring book that is hand illustrated by artist Andy J. Miller.  Each page pays artistic tribute to a different Indie Rock band, from Bon Iver to Iron and Wine.  The book also includes other activity-book fun, like a maze and connect the dots and 100% of the royalties go to charity, now that's rockin'!

Sunday in Kyoto - book and music CD
Contains a collection of 14 Gilles Vigneault songs performed by Canadian singers including Patrick Watson, Thomas Hellman, Coral Egan and Vigneault's daughter, Jessica.  Sunday In Kyoto contains fun music for kids with an artistic twist.
Gilles Vigneault is a member of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and hailed as one of Canada's most important music figures of the 20th century.

Lisa Loeb - book and music CD
Pop star Lisa Loeb definitely brings the silly with her fun filled songbook.  The CD contains 4 original wacky songs that are very catchy.  I have found myself singing a few of them - thankfully, only around the house.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

wear it like you mean it

Confidence. That has to be the greatest thing one can possess.  Too often we put way too much stock in how others view us.  Do you really want to live the rest of your life worrying about what other people think?  I know I don't.  It's not something that you can magically change overnight, but you can start by taking small steps.  Take your wardrobe for example.  We all have items in our closets that help to boost our confidence.  That make us feel great about ourselves, and our bodies. Why wouldn't you want to feel that way about your whole wardrobe?  Investing time and energy in creating a style that makes you feel happy, confident and entirely you, can only be a positive thing.

One way to feel confident is to wear clothes that FIT.  Don't wait until you have reached an "ideal" weight to start dressing your best.  I don't believe that clothes really make the person, however, it's hard to be confident inside when what you are wearing outside sends the opposite message.

Another tip is to look for clothes that highlight your best feature.  If you have a tiny waist, accentuate it with a belt. If you have gorgeous arms, opt for a sleeveless dress.  Clothing often works best when it draws attention to the areas that you love.  And that, in turn, builds confidence.

Creating a personal style can be such a rewarding and exciting process.  Building your ideal wardrobe with items that fit and flatter is a step towards making you feel strong, beautiful and ultimately, confident.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Heart to Heart

Valentine's day. Honestly, I could take it or leave it.  Well, I will take the candy and chocolate.  It's one of those days that really isn't a big a deal for my husband and I. Heck, we sometimes don't even celebrate our wedding anniversary! (we are both terrible at remembering, retaining dates - and we're OK with that)

However, for my girls, it's a whole other story.  Since the stores are covered with hearts and balloons and heart shaped candies and heart shaped balloons, it's bound to be noticed by them. Ryan even thinks that there is a Valentine's bunny that leaves us chocolate - I wish!  So to "celebrate" this day, I decided to make a heart wreath with the girls.

I told them that on Valentine's day we celebrate how much we love each other.  That we take the time to hug more, to kiss more, to laugh more and to say "I Love You" more.  And while they colour and add stickers to the hearts, it's time for mommy to eat more chocolate.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

taste the rainbow

Yesterday we celebrated my youngest daughter Andy's 2nd birthday.  Of course, we threw her a party.  It still boggles my mind how much effort and time goes into planning and prepping our children's birthday parties.  She's only 2 for goodness sake. Does she really need an elaborate spread to celebrate that fact?  If you think about it, until the age of 6, when they start to remember their birthday's, the day they were born should really be a celebration for the mother. After all, we are the ones that did all the work! Plus it really is a momentous day for us - and our bodies.  Besides, I always love days that revolve around me - and cake!

Now, onto the party.  Thanks to a friend of mine who sent me this link about how to make a rainbow cake, Andy's party "theme" was born.  Before you get too excited, you aren't going to get any knock-your-socks-off party tips here.  I am no Martha Stewart.  Far from it.  There are some ridiculously talented moms out there that throw these incredibly detailed theme parties that would put any professional party planner to shame.  I am NOT one of those moms. Yes, I like to craft - as long as it's simple and doesn't take longer than an hour to accomplish, and yes, I like to be creative - maximum impact for minimal effort is how I roll.

The cake:  As long as it tastes good, it really doesn't matter what it looks like.  I have tasted cakes that looked absolutely beautiful and were dry or flavourless.  My cake wasn't pretty on the outside.  I hate icing cakes.  It requires a skill that I apparently don't possess.  But who cares when the inside of the cake looks like this!
uneven & poorly iced
rainbow bright

 The decor: I kept it simple....white balloons as clouds, umbrella centrepiece, rainbow inspired fruit plate, coloured ice cubes... ridiculously simple.


The activity: Quick. Easy. Mess Free!  
Rainbow wands.

so easy a 2 year old could do it!

Will Andy remember this birthday? No, but I will. Proud to watch her grow and develop. Cherishing every moment and milestone. Enjoying her strut around knowing the day was all for her.  Everyone had fun, and the cake was a hit.  I guess, in the end, the party really was about me, and my cake!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

my slight obsession

I don't know exactly when it all started.  What was once merely a simple attraction, has turned into a full blown obsession.  My house is now lovingly decorated with various owl & peacock accents.  That's one reason why I named my blog The Owl and the Peacock. The other reason, my girls.  After doing a bit of research, I came across the following info.  So far, it describes my girls fairly accurately.         

The Owl Personality: 
A quiet thinker with analytical traits: wants to know things, wants accuracy, likes lists, numbers & statistics. Loves detail, research, data and information. Dislikes change, taking risks, people who are sloppy in their work. Owls also dislike people who are showy and loud. When change is happening, they want to know HOW to do what they are being asked to do. Can get quite stressed during change processes, particularly if a lot of change happens over a sustained period. Under pressure Owls will avoid conflict. 

The Peacock Personality: 
Peacocks are the very loud, life-and-soul of the party types that Owls dislike so much. They are intuitive, impulsive, swift moving (often hard to find because they move about so much and so often). Love being the front person, love social situations. Need appreciation, recognition and regular pats on the back. Like to inspire others – can be very charismatic. Not good with deadlines, detail or time-frames. Dislike meetings. Great at coming up with off-the-wall ideas, but don’t ask them to implement the ideas, they are not great implementors. Want to know WHY. 

Two unique birds, two unique personalities.  Looks like I'm destined to be surrounded by owls & peacocks.  I couldn't be happier.

Information from Ann Andrews personality types

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Power of Words

Words. Written or spoken have unbelievable power. They can encourage and enlighten. They can prick and they can pierce.  

These words struck a chord with me.     

Friday, 3 February 2012

Declaring my love

I love soup.  It's warm and nourishing.  Delicious and comforting.  Easy to make, and a great way to use up any leftover fruits or veggies.  Best of all, you can always put your own spin on any recipe.  What's not to love?

My affinity for soup is one of the things that helps me get through the cold winter months - that and my collection of chunky knit sweaters.  Once the temperature drops, I grab my trusty soup pot and start whipping up a batch of heart-warming, belly-filling deliciousness.

Of course this love affair has not gone unnoticed.  For Christmas, I received a thoughtful gift from my brother. A cooking course at Liaison College, here in Kingston, for soups and breads.  Needless to say, I was thrilled.  More soup recipes to add to my repertoire.  YUM!

The menu for the evening was:

Pear & Parsnip soup
French Onion soup
Black Bean soup
Chicken & Coconut soup
Seafood Chowder
Smoked Paprika & Cheddar Scones
Thyme Scented Apple Foccaccia
Cinnamon Buns

Our soup buffet
The menu excited me. The process aroused me. The Black Bean Soup, knocked me off my feet!  The texture, the seasoning, the garnish. Divine, hearty, comforting.  I am all about sharing what I love (with a few exceptions), so here is the recipe.

Black Bean Soup
(courtesy of Liaison College)

3 cups cooked black beans
8 cups of ham stock (or chicken)
3 stalks of celery
2 onions, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 carrot, minced
1 can (48oz) diced tomatoes
1 lime, juice & rind
2 bay leaves
2tsp thyme
4tsp ground cumin
salt & pepper

cilantro, sour cream, avocado, tomato - for garnish

1. Sweat celery, onion, garlic, carrots, pepper in oil
2. Add tomatoes, beans, herbs & spices, lime juice & rind
3. Add stock and simmer until vegetables are el dente
4. Adjust seasoning.
5. Devour
6. Share with someone you love
7. Store leftovers (if any)
8. Repeat steps 5 to 7!

"Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite." Auguste Escoffier
I would love to hear about your favourite soup, and please feel free to share your recipes!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Being connected

We do lots of travelling. Not necessarily to far away destinations, but we like to be on the move. Short trips to Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto. Or longer trips states side or exploring the county (PEC that is). We do this partly because I'm a stay at home mom, and, well, I get fed up of being home, and partly to spend quality time as a family.  (At least that's how I sell it to my husband).

Of course most of these trips are wonderful.  Showing the girls where we grew up.  Discovering new places together.  But naturally, some of these trips are terrible. The kind that you know the second you leave the house it was a mistake.  BIG mistake.  But you keep driving anyway. Screaming all the way - you and the kids. Threatening to pull over. To throw the dvd player out the window. To leave them at the next rest stop. And to vow NEVER to travel again - and yet we will. Because amidst the chaos, there are memories and traditions being made.

The beauty of family vacations is that you learn about one another, good or bad. As a parent, you have more time to spend really being there with your kids.  No distractions. No household chores looming.  Nothing to divert our attention.  Ah, the joys of being connected.

A glimpse into our future.
Tweeting: family vacation = epic fail!
Another online shopping purchase completed!

Now if we could just get our girls to do the same.