What Would Life Be Without Music?

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No matter the state of my life or emotions music is the one constant.  Whether I’m in a dark and depressed state or I’m on top of the world, I can always find a song to match.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately so I’ve been taking a lot of long walks in the evenings.  Listening to music and letting the emotions, the music, and the fresh air sooth my neurotic mind.  Amazing how much faster sleep comes after listening to calming music and breathing in cool winter air.

During the day, determined to keep boredom and depression at bay the music is loud and happy.  Dance parties crazy enough to embarrass my 4 year old are happening daily.  What point is there in having children if you can’t embarrass them?

Sometimes music will be there to lift my spirits, keep me from giving into my impatience with my children.  Sometimes it will be there to comfort me in my lowest of moods.  Sometimes I will listen to sad melodies and soft words, wallow in my pain and cry all my tears.  And sometimes all I want to do is listen to happy music and dance barefoot in my kitchen belting out tunes in a wooden spoon microphone.

There’s nothing like the rush of emotions that comes back to me when I hear a song that was playing during an important time in my life.  Listening to a song can bring back some of the greatest memories, and also the most painful.  From my wedding song, the album my best friend and I used to listen to in high school while cruising around town, and also the song that I cried my eyes out to when I found out my friend had died in a car accident.  There’s just so much emotion attached to music.  It’s no wonder the most powerful part of any church service for me is the worship.  Nothing can elicit tears from this girl faster than a powerful worship song.

I love that it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, through music I can always find someone who’s been through the same struggles and the same joys.  Whose poetic words match the state of my heart. I love the feeling of connection that comes from a beautiful melody and lyrics that speak to my soul.

What would life be without music? I hope I’ll never have to find out.

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Vegan Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

When it comes to baking I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.  Well actually, I think all or nothing probably describes more areas of my life than baking.  Regardless, I love to bake.  And when I bake I can never just make one batch of cookies.  Oh no, it will be two different batches of cookies and some muffins.  Then the next day I’ll probably bake some banana bread and another batch of muffins.  The day after that I will most likely bake at least another batch of cookies.  Until finally my freezer is full and I’m well stocked for lunches and snacks for quite some time.  At which point I will cease to bake altogether until my supply is completely exhausted.

Well, I started another marathon baking spree this week.  I was inspired by the delicious muffins posted by my friend, Amira, in her Facebook group Healthify Veganize.  I love a good healthy muffin recipe so I couldn’t resist.  These muffins did not disappoint! Both my kids gobbled them down (as did I) and couldn’t wait for me to make another batch (I ended up making two more).

And of course being the type that loves to share the wealth I decided I needed to share the recipe with all of you! Enjoy!

Vegan Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

(posted with permission)

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  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used Spelt Flour)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3cup – 1 cup frozen blueberries ( I used 2/3 for one batch and 1 cup for the second batch
  • optional: coconut oil for greasing pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin tins by greasing with coconut oil.  Alternatively you can use silicon pans which are my preference. Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl.  Add wet ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into muffin tins 2/3 full.  Place in preheated oven for 23 min.  Let cool in muffin tins once removed from oven.

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Izak’s first bite…

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…It gets the thumbs up!

Do you like a freezer full of baked goods or do you prefer to make a batch at a time of fresh goodies?

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For Every Dark Night There’s a Brighter Day

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Do you ever have one of those moments where you stop and look at your life, like really look at everything in front of you, and realize how lucky you are? That was me this morning.

I’ve been having a bit of a rough patch lately. Perhaps it’s the weather, the over abundance of sugar and unhealthy foods, or just lonely housewife syndrome, but it hasn’t been good. I’ve been in a fog. Short tempered, and unable to deal with day to day life with my children. Snapping at my ever patient husband and taking for granted everything he does for me.

I let distractions get in my way once again. Distractions blocking all the amazingness that’s right in front of me. I was focused, life was going my way and then just like that I lost sight of what was important. It’s so easy for me to let boredom and selfishness get in my way instead of remembering to be grateful for what I have.

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I’ve talked about gratefulness and contentment before but I think being grateful is something that requires a conscious effort and constant reminder. At least this is very true in my life.

Everything will be going so well for me and I start to get too comfortable. And when I start to get too comfortable that’s when it sneaks up on me. All of a sudden what I have isn’t good enough anymore. I start to think the grass is greener. It’s like there’s a giant spotlight on everything just out of reach and I’m blinded to what is right in front of me.

But this morning, after being woken up to whining and screaming from my fighting children and two tired parents not dealing with it as well as they should have, I decided to stop and take a breather. Time to rethink what I’ve been doing because obviously it’s not working for anyone. Time to adjust my attitude and get rid of some of the distractions. Time to once again remind myself that if you can’t change the situation then you have to change your attitude.

So this morning I came down with a new resolve. I came down and looked at my family, really looked at them, and my heart swelled with love and well, a lot of guilt. I haven’t been there for them lately. But today is a new day. I’m going to do my best to get rid of the distractions and just be there. It’s never easy and I’m far from perfect but I’m hitting reset and trying once more. Today I’m grateful for my family, for love and hugs, the forgiveness of a child, and the knowledge that for every dark night there’s a brighter day.

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Time For a Fresh Start

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Another new year, another opportunity for a fresh start. I’m not really one for big resolutions and I don’t really want to jump on that train this year either. But I think making unrealistic resolutions for the year is much different then setting goals.

I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t been running and I only started back at the gym in December. So goals are what I really need right now. As well as some serious accountability. Which brings me back to this blog. That’s what I created it for in the first place right?

I won’t give myself a weight goal. I realized during my time on the DAMY program that big changes do not necessarily mean a big drop on the scale I don’t even want to say I’m going to run x number of times a week. But I do want to make a goal of getting back to that happy and healthy place I was a year ago.

I want to be able to run and enjoy it. I was reading some old blogs about my love for running and I missed that feeling. I started craving that feeling you get after a good run. I think half the problem is that I did actually forget what it felt like to get outside and run for the pure enjoyment.

What’s horrifying to me is that I realized I haven’t been outside for a run since the summer and I’ve only done a couple walk/runs at the track since then. How did I go from loving to run, training for and completing a half marathon, to barely logging 10k a month at a track?

So today I took the first step and went outside for a run. It was cold and the sidewalks were covered in snow/ice which added another level of difficulty. I wasn’t going for speed, and I wasn’t going for distance. I was simply getting outside to make today my first day back at it. And you know what? It felt great. I was able to get that little taste of why I started to love running in the first place.

Tomorrow I will restart my early mornings at the gym. One thing I have learned is that if you want to see big changes you need to hit the weight room! And of course you can train as hard as you want but you can’t out train a bad diet. So I need to make sure I’m fueling my body the right way. And no, this does not mean a crazy low cal diet. It means eating (and eating quite a lot!) of good clean nutritious food.

As for a specific goal, I want to run at least one 5k and one 10k by the summer. Eventually I will do another half, but for now I’m keeping it simple. I want to enjoy running, so I don’t want to pressure myself too much. I will look into specific races and register for them by the end of this month.

We’ve also booked a trip to Mexico in April for our 10th anniversary, so of course my other goal is to feel comfortable and look fantastic in my bikini.

So there you have it, nothing crazy, nothing unreachable and right now it’s not even anything too specific. I simply want to start taking more steps in the right direction. And really, I think we all just need to focus on taking one step at a time.

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What are your goals for the new year? What’s your first step to achieving your goal?

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Freshette vs Shewee: Some Urination Considerations

As some of you may remember, last year I wrote about my love for the female urinary device after using the Freshette on my hike up Fisher Peak. If you don’t know what a female urinary device is then you are missing out. It’s a funnel/hose contraption that allows a woman to stand up to pee. Greatest invention ever!

After writing that blog post (Free To Be Me But Pee Like A He), the founder of Shewee, Sam Fountain, decided to send me a Shewee to try out and compare with the Freshette. Unfortunately, I had not been out hiking in the past year and didn’t have a chance to use it. Can you believe it?!

You can imagine how excited I was when my husband and I went away for a week of camping and hiking without the kids. My first thought of course…I finally get to try out my Shewee!! I’ll try to write more about my trip later, but right now we have serious matters to discuss. That is, the great Freshette vs Shewee debate. I’ve had a few people hounding me about my review and I can finally give one.

I was looking forward to using the Shewee daily while hiking but unfortunately most of the hikes had outhouses at the top. Way to ruin my fun! I guess I could have used it while in the outhouse but,well, that just seems pointless to me.

Anyway, the day finally came for me to try out the Shewee. It was our last day of hiking. We were in Waterton National Park hiking Crypt Lake. I was staying nice and hydrated and making good time on the hike when I realized it was time to take care of business. At last! It was time to break out the Shewee. We were about half way to the top of the hike standing on a hill with two people right above us and two people coming up below us. I break out the Shewee. I’m giggling once again at the thought of peeing in the trees like a man. All is good and then….ummm pretty sure I’m not supposed to feel it going down my legs!!!! No, no this is all wrong. I was mortified. What am I supposed to do now? This did NOT happen with the Freshette.

I’m starting to panic. What do I do? Throw some water on my legs and just pretend I’m clumsy or an extreme sweater? Turn around and go home? Strip naked and air dry? Ok that was never actually an option.

Thankfully there were a few things working in my favor:
1) My pants were black, with loose legs and a quick dry material. Peter said you couldn’t actually tell by looking. (But what about smelling? Hmmm)
2) We were hiking fast enough that we were pretty much on our own on the trail.
3) It was our last day of hiking so I wouldn’t have to wear those pants again.
4) We both have a good sense of humour and were able to laugh about it for the rest of the hike.

So what went wrong? Perhaps there was a bit of user error? Maybe I needed more control? When comparing the two devices the Freshette has a much larger funnel area. I’m guessing the problem comes simply from releasing too much liquid at once. The Shewee simply can’t handle all I have to offer. Either way I have used the Freshette numerous times and have never had any issues.
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So after this experience I can say without hesitation that my vote is with the Freshette. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty disappointed. I really wanted to love you, Shewee. You have the better name, the better case, but unfortunately I just can’t stand up for you anymore.

Related links:
www.shewee.ca
www.freshette.com

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Clean Eating Protein Pancake

I love lazy Saturday mornings. The one day where we let the kids wake up and turn on the tv while my husband and I dream away happily.  Eventually waking up (ok, that means about 8am) to the smell of coffee brewing.  A treat I only give myself on the weekends. Mmmmmm.  Then heading downstairs to make a fabulous breakfast of pancakes and lots of delicious fruit.

The problem with this picture is that pancakes of course are full of gluten and low on protein. Being as I like to eat wheat free and make sure I get in my protein serving at every meal/snack, I’ve been forced to miss out on this delightful breakfast with the fam for far too long.

The good news, my friends?  I have found a solution!! I’ve come up with a delicious, nutritious, wheat free, high protein pancake recipe! Woot woot! So no more do I have to sit back and drool while the fam eats their meal.  I can now partake in the awesomeness of pancakes once more. Want more great news? This recipe is super easy and doesn’t require any crazy ingredients. I know, I know, just thank me later.

*Disclaimer: I am not a photographer so please do not judge me or this recipe by the quality of these photos.  You’re just lucky I took the time to take a picture or two before gobbling up all this goodness.

So without further ado, here is my protein pancake recipe.

 Clean Eating Wheat Free Protein Pancake 

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  •  1/2 cup oat flour (*to make your own, grind regular oats in Vitamix or blender.  Be sure to use gluten free oats if required)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder (*use gluten free brand if required)
  • pinch of sea salt (I use Redmond’s Real Salt)
  • 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Add in wet ingredients and whisk together.  Let batter sit for a few minutes.  In the meantime heat your griddle or frying pan.  You can either make one giant pancake, like I do, or make 3-4 smaller pancakes.  Cook as you would a regular pancake, watching for bubbles to form on top before flipping and cooking 1-2 minutes on the other side. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

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This recipe even passed the test with my son, who is ULTRA picky in the wheat free department. Mmmmm mmmm good.

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What’s your Saturday morning routine? Are you a Saturday morning early riser or do you enjoy a more laid back kind of day?

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The Rains Came Down

Calgary flood. June 22, 2013

Life seems a bit surreal right now.  I’m sitting here in my cozy house with my family.  Outside the sun is shining, the streets are dry.  I hear lawnmowers mowing.  And yet, half of my city is under water as I type.

My son was supposed to have his end of the year preschool picnic on Thursday at Bowness Park.  They said we’d have the picnic rain or shine. Well, rain or shine did not include flooding so they cancelled that morning. It never even crossed my mind that this rain which kept us inside for the day would turn into the worst flood Calgary has ever seen.  The park where we were supposed to meet to celebrate the end of the year is no more.  Covered in the muddy flood waters of the Bow River.

Although our area was saved from flooding, my daughter’s school was cancelled Friday and now Monday.  Many schools are now closed for the year.  Diploma exams are optional for students in Calgary.  The Downtown Core is closed.  A ghost town. My husband is not allowed to go to work. They are saying until mid week but possibly longer.

I’ve never been a fan of Twitter, I don’t really get it. But in the last two days I have learned quickly how helpful Twitter can be in a crisis.  The most up to date information at your fingertips. I have been glued to my Twitter feed.  I can’t stop following the flood coverage.

I keep thinking of all the people evacuated from their homes.  Many people are now able to go back.  What will they find when they do? So many damages.  So much loss. My heart breaks for them.

Right now I feel so helpless. I’m watching this city, this province, being washed away. So close to the damage but it feels like a world away.  I’m hoping to hear soon in what ways we can volunteer.

But I also feel encouraged.  Watching the ways this city is coming together, united, so many people ready and willing to step up where they can.  It just goes to show the strength of this city, the true heart of Calgarians.

Most of all I feel extremely grateful.  So grateful that my family and friends were saved from the floods.  Grateful that we are all safe and healthy. Grateful for all the blessings that God has given me.  If there is one thing that everyone can take from any disaster is a reminder to be grateful for what you do have.

Pray for those affected by the floods.  Lend a helping hand where needed. Give what you can.

If you are able to give to the Alberta Relief Fund please visit the Red Cross website or call 1-866-696-6484

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