Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

I hope you are all having a happy and safe Halloween! Hubby and I are spending the night at home with Truffle and Lulu. Our furbabies used to dress up, but we don't really make or buy them costumes anymore because... well... they absolutely hate it. Here are some photos from the archives, when we used to make more of an effort. First up is Truffle as Sidney Crosby. I made him this jersey. Hubby has a matching one (that's not homemade).

Truffle as Sidney Crosby again. The hat belongs to hubby. Truffle as the Year 2011. He hated this costume so much that he bit up the "2" before I could even put it on him.

Here is Truffle as a superhero. I made him a cape. I also put together a matching costume for myself.

Here is Lulu in a lion costume that I made her. It's a little furry vest that looks exactly like her own fur. The photo on the right is just her regular winter jacket. But it's kind of Halloween-y because it's got skulls all over it. Very scary, Lulu!

Now we've come to the real reason we don't dress Truffle or Lulu up for Halloween anymore. We suck at costumes. We actually did buy Lulu a few in a past (she's been a dinosaur, a reindeer, a Christmas tree, and Pikachu), but she's vicious when we try to put her in an outfit now so we dare not poke the bear. I'm not sure where those photos are so maybe I'll dig them up one day and share them in a future post. Trick or Treat!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sawya and Gotcha

Eight years ago to the day, my friend and I popped into PJ's Pets at Yonge and Eglinton, and I fell in love. I saw a little grey bunny with a little pink nose and I couldn't leave the store. My friend wandered around, while I stared at the bunny for an hour. Hubby and I had looked into adding a bunny to our family, but after doing a lot of research, we decided a dog would be more suitable for our lifestyle. Yet I couldn't leave the store. Against my better judgement, and even though I knew the perils of purchasing an animal from a pet store, I put a $20 deposit down for the "Blue Netherland Dwarf." The pet store told me that she (yes, she) was too young to come home with me that day and asked if I could come back the next day (yes, the very next day). I reluctantly agreed, knowing I would worry all night but also thinking it would give me some time to explain myself to hubby. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I couldn't imagine not having Truffle in our lives. He fills my heart with so much joy, and even though he's quite a mature rabbit now, he will always be my baby bunny. Also, I wish I had taken better photos that day.

The below photo on the left was taken in the pet store on Truffle's Sawya Day, and the below photo on the right was taken at home the next day on Truffle's Gotcha Day. Truffle came home with us on Halloween in the year 2010, around 6 months before we got Lulu. Over the years, Truffle has learned that we are his hoomans. He comes to us for pets, nudges our ankles with his nose when he wants attention, runs circles around us when he's excited, begs for food, and lies right next to us in the most vulnerable positions. It's truly something special to have a little creature, who is in every respect a prey animal, grow to trust you.

I recorded a video all about Truffle a few years ago, and I've embedded it below. In the description box of that video, I promised one "very soon" for Lulu--it's been a while (5 years!!!), so it's probably about time I record that. Happy Sawya Day, Truffle!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Café Tea Time

A close friend of mine was telling me recently about a little spot she just discovered, called Rustle & Still Café. We met there for tea this afternoon, and it was absolutely lovely! The café is beautiful and serene--the space is filled with natural light, wood accents, and greenery. I had the matcha pandan latté (seems I can't get enough of either flavour lately), and my friend had the sweet purple potato latté. My friend is going to be doing the eat-at-home challenge with me in November (yippee!), and we both wanted to squeeze in a little café tea time before the end of the month... happy sigh... it was such a nice way to spend the afternoon!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

How I Developed a Healthy Relationship with Food

As I was getting ready to do the eat-at-home challenge this November, I was reflecting on how far I’ve come in terms of my relationship with food, so I wanted to post a video talking about how I developed a healthy relationship with food.

I used to be really obsessed with food. I LOVE eating, but I would often overindulge, and then I would feel terrible afterwards. On the one hand, I had such passion for food, but on the other hand, I felt a lot of guilt for going out to eat all the time, stocking our cupboards with processed food, and generally feeling like food controlled me. In recent years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve developed a few strategies to avoid overindulging, which has resulted in me having a much more healthy relationship with food. I still love food, but I no longer obsess about it and I make better choices. I still eat a bit of junk, but I practice moderation, and I try to cook most of our meals at home. I'm still learning, but I'm proud to have gotten to this point.

Here are the key items that helped me to improve my relationship with food:

1) I got to know myself better and became honest with myself about my relationship with food.

This is something I'm still working on, but I've learned so much about myself over the years. If you follow my YouTube channel, you'll know I'm a big fan of setting annual goals and experimenting with monthly challenges. Over the past few years in particular, I've become much better at setting goals and challenges that nudge me towards my "best" life. I wanted to talk about this point first because knowing yourself, your triggers around food, and how you react both physically and psychologically to food are key to setting yourself up for success. Knowing yourself allows you to set up habits that work. You can look externally at people who seem to have their s%$# together, but ultimately, what works for you can only be determined internally.

I already know a lot about how I react to food psychologically, but I'm still learning about the physical aspect. I don't have any severe reactions or allergies to food, so I've never really thought too much about this, but I do often feel bloated or sluggish after eating. To that end, I've been keeping a food journal to hone in on how food makes my body feel. I've really enjoyed the process and I think I'll keep up with it throughout the November eat-at-home challenge.

The next 4 items are habits that work for me, and I was able to discover them through trial and error as I got to know myself better. All these tips work in conjunction with one another, and I didn't quite figure it out until I implemented all of these in my life. While I practice all of these habits the majority of the time, I also make exceptions when appropriate. I don't believe in being dogmatic and super strict (although I used to be very hard on myself when I didn't follow my own rules). If you set habits that enhance your life, they should feel happy and easy.

2) I started weighing out my more indulgent snacks and eating only one serving.

Before I developed this habit, I would eat SO MANY servings of my favourite snacks (peanut M&Ms FTW). I started weighing my snacks a number of years ago, but I would often go back for seconds, thirds, or even fourths, while diligently weighing out one serving each time. It was only after a few years, when I combined this habit with #3 below that I got the hang of moderation. Now, I only eat one serving of my more indulgent snacks around 95% of the time. There are still a couple of occasions when I still go back for seconds: for a day or two at that "time of the month" when I am absolutely ravenous or when I'm sick and literally unsatiable.

3) I started eating with no distractions.

This habit was a game changer for me. I'm the type of person who likes to see her food, so you won't see me snacking in movie theatres; however, I was still prone to consuming huge volumes of food mindlessly. I used to do this all the time because I would eat while watching TV, editing YouTube videos on my laptop, or looking at my phone. As a result, I really didn't know how much I was eating and I'd be done my food before I knew it. Once I started eating in my "little corner" with no distractions (not even listening to a podcast or an audio book), everything changed. I have so much more respect for food now, and I view eating as an important ritual. When I'm eating by myself, I view it as "me time." When I'm eating with friends or family, I view it as a time to catch up and bond. There are rare occasions when hubby and I will eat in front of the TV, for example, during the Super Bowl. I don't eat-on-the-go anymore; I prefer to sit down at a table with the intention to eat a meal.

The other reason this habit works to prevent me from overindulging is my desire to be productive. I love being productive and efficient. My mind is always racing and there is always something I want to do. Since I view eating as its own activity now, which is not eligible for multitasking, I have to take a break from being productive while I enjoy my meal. It's incredible what an impact this has. Now, I often finish my food, realize that I'm reasonably full, and decide to move on to something else rather than eating more. Mealtime used to be my carrot, but now I've discovered a second carrot: my productive time after mealtime.

4) I started doing the 30-day eat-at-home challenge.

My first 30-day eat-at-home challenge happened in November of 2016 and I did a blog post about the impact on my pocketbook. Besides the financial impact, the challenge allowed me to rediscover my love for cooking and eating at home. It was fun to discover my favourite recipes and rewarding to eat the fruits of my labour. The eat-at-home challenge interrupted my pattern of going out to eat and buying takeout (or ordering delivery) pretty much on a daily basis. I no longer need to do the eat-at-home challenge to break bad habits. Instead, I want to do the eat-at-home challenge because I love it so much.

5) I started experimented with intermittent fasting.

After I got Invisalign, I found it really tedious to eat at work. I didn't like how long it took to eat my lunch, floss, brush my teeth, and clean my aligners. It felt like a huge disruption. By that time, I was eating salad for lunch anyway, so it seemed like a lot of effort for a relatively light lunch. I started experimenting to see if I could go the entire day at my nine-to-five without eating. I would eat a larger-than-usual breakfast, and nothing again until my big dinner. It worked. I found it really easy to skip lunch, and thus I began "intermittent fasting." I'd experimented with this concept years ago, as I used to skip breakfast and eat at my desk at work at around 10:30am, so the concept was nothing new to me. However, I realize I sometimes eat out of boredom or frustration, so I was concerned about not having the mealtime "carrot" when I was spending all day at work. The Invisalign definitely helped with that. I don't think I could have skipped lunch had I not been wearing my aligners.

Fast forward to today, and I am pretty much done my Invisalign treatment. I only wear my aligners in the evening (after dinner) and overnight (before breakfast), but I've kept up with intermittent fasting. In fact, I like it better now, because I've reverted back to what feels natural for me, which is skipping breakfast (rather than lunch). I typically eat two large meals a day with no snacks, but I'm not super strict with timing. I have my first meal between 10am and 12pm and my second meal between 5pm and 8pm. Going back to key item #1 of knowing myself, I like to eat until I feel full, and then I'm really good at delaying gratification and not eating again until I'm hungry, so intermittent fasting works well for me and my body and the way I like to eat.

That's basically it for this blog post! The key takeaway is to know yourself and use this knowledge to develop strategies that work for you. It's ok if you don't want to weigh your snacks, or if you like to have popcorn at the movies, or if you like to go out at least once a month for a nice dinner, or if you like to eat 6 small meals a day. I'm here to share my experience, and I totally get that not everyone is the same. How boring would the world be if we were all copies of each other?! No one can tell you how to live life and what works for you, but the key is to be honest with yourself and create a life that is authentically you.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Japanese Problem

Ever since I received the Soulpepper Brochure summarizing the 2018-19 productions, I knew I wanted to watch Japanese Problem. The only issue was that it was completely sold out, so I decided I would try to obtain rush tickets at some point. I had planned to rush last Thursday's matinee (thinking it would be less busy), but when I was double checking the performance times online, I noticed there were a few tickets released for one of the shows today. Hubby saw me looking at the website and asked me about it. Japan is one of his favourite places to visit, and the name of the production caught his eye. I told him a bit about it and asked if he wanted to go, fully expecting him to answer with a resounding no... but he said yes! I quickly bought the tickets for today's 2pm show before he could change his mind.

Japanese Problem is an account of the internment (incarceration) of Japanese-Canadians in 1942 in Hastings Park, Vancouver, British Columbia. It is a concise production at 45 minutes with no intermission, but it is incredibly intense. The performance is powerfully immersive, creative, and intimate. It is easy to be moved to tears as the performers draw you into their thought-provoking and poignant stories. There is a short dialogue following each performance, during which the audience can delve into conversation with the performers, the director, and each other. Unfortunately, there are only two more shows in Toronto (tomorrow at 1pm and 2:30pm) before the production returns to British Columbia. A limited number of rush tickets (8-10) are available to purchase in-person on a pay-what-you-can basis at the Soulpepper Box Office--these tickets go on sale one hour before each show and are limited to 2 per person.

Friday, October 26, 2018

In-Store First Impression of the iPhone XR

I met up with hubby after work today to check out the iPhone XR. I've been eagerly awaiting this phone's release and the reviews have been overwhelmingly favourable. It seems to be selling like hotcakes at the Toronto Eaton Centre! I mainly wanted to test out the photo and video functions, and this camera--erg phone--does not disappoint. Of course, the image quality is not going to compare to a DSLR (or even my Canon G7X--RIP), but I was quite impressed by the XR's photo and video performance compared to the earlier versions of the iPhone, including hubby's 7 Plus, as well as the 8 Plus and X that we tested out when we were at the Apple store in NYC. I took a bunch of photos, and the resulting images are below. I like my photos pretty bright so I normally bump up the exposure and do some other minor adjustments for this blog; however, for the purposes of this post, I've uploaded the images SOOC (straight out of the "camera"). I also took one short video clip, which will be included in my next vlog.

The XR's colour options (coral, blue, yellow, and red) are definitely fun, but I think my favourite is still black.

I had fun playing with the portrait mode. I thought the smoothing of the skin was nice, but I'm a little older, so a too-sharp selfie is not a good look. The below images were taken using 4 of the 5 available portrait modes. From left to right: natural light, studio light, contour light, and stage light (I didn't take a photo with the stage light mono, which is a black and white option).

The quality is very nice for Instagram or other online sharing, but close up, you can definitely see some haloing and some areas that look like a rush Photoshop job (the below image was taken in the natural light portrait mode).

Here is the image close up so you can see the edges in question a bit better. You can also see some of these weird edges around my hubby's ears in the first photo of this blog post. These anomalies seem to be a result of the bokeh effect in combination with the back lighting, but more testing is clearly required. I played around with the bokeh feature, which is really neat, but again, the quality is not going to be remotely comparable to a DSLR.

There's some funky stuff going on in the stage light mode, but this is more of a fun feature, and I doubt I would use it too often. The photo is quite noisy, and part of someone's face is showing behind hubby's right shoulder.

Despite these minor (and admittedly picky) issues, my overall in-store first impression of this phone is a big thumbs up. It is very fast (especially compared to my water damaged 6S Plus), the gestures are smooth, and the screen is beautiful. I have no issues with not having the dual cameras on the phone--in fact, I like that the phone does not "zoom in" in portrait mode. I also think the XR is the perfect size. It is comfortable to hold and easy to use. Hubby and I were discussing phones a little while ago, specifically about him buying a new phone and me taking his hand-me-down (this is a common occurrence in our relationship); however, now that I've seen the XR in person...


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Double Desserts

It's been a bit of an indulgent week, so I'm excited to be doing the eat-at-home challenge again very soon. Hubby and I have still been eating the majority of our meals at home; however, we've been supplementing with outside treats almost daily.

I made miso salmon, steamed rice, and pickled onions.
We supplemented with Singapore slaw from Kid Lee (50% off due to Ritual Eats Week).

I made sous vide steak with steamed vegetables.
We supplemented with fries from McDonald's (free due to the Raptors making 12 three-pointers on Monday night).

I made sous vide steak again with kimchi fried rice.
We supplemented with maple roasted butternut squash soup from Soup It Up (free due to App-e-Hour event at First Canadian Place).

I made lasagna (yum!).
We supplemented with unintentional double desserts--hubby brought home Portuguese custard tarts (from work), and I bought cookies from Le Gourmand (to take advantage of a $5 AMEX credit offer).

As you can see, I've been really good at taking advantage of food deals while incorporating the goodies into our meals at home. While delicious, the daily treats are becoming a bit too indulgent, so I'm eager to see if I can forgo the deals in November and cook everything myself. This eat-at-home challenge is going to be slightly different, and I'll go into more detail in a future vlog, but I will be posting a lot of my food adventures on this blog. In the meantime, here is a photo of our double desserts.

We heated the Portuguese custard tarts in the toaster oven, and they were perfectly flaky, crispy, sweet, and delicious. Then we had the cookies! Le Gourmand makes the best cookies. My favourite flavour is peanut butter, but it was sold out, so I picked up the white chocolate macadamia nut for myself (I also like the chocolate walnut). Hubby loves oatmeal raisin, so that's the one I picked up for him. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Shopping My Closet

When I recorded the mod clips for my Designer Handbag Collection video yesterday, I had an AHA moment. What would happen if I used my Alexander McQueen bag with my Balenciaga Pompon strap? I was recently looking at an inexpensive guitar-style strap on eBay, but I was sure I would be over the colourful pattern before it even shipped, so I quickly closed the browser. The Balenciaga Pompon strap isn't quite as wide as a guitar strap, but it gives a similar vibe, and it's also in one of my favourite non-colours (black). As soon as I tried it with the Alexander McQueen bag, I thought to myself, "YESSSSSSSSSS!" It was exactly what I wanted. I hadn't reached for this bag or strap in months, but I wore the combination today and felt like I had a brand new bag. Playing with combinations is one way I like to shop my closet instead of buying something new. I'm excited to wear this bag again tomorrow. And likely the next day. And the next day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Eats Week

Ritual is holding Eats Week until October 26th. It's been going on since the 15th, but I only took advantage of it yesterday, so I felt a bit late to the game. If you order through the Ritual app and pay using Apple Pay, you can receive up to 50% off a selection of items from a variety of eateries. Yesterday, I picked up an order of Singapore Slaw from Kid Lee for 50% off. This makes a rather large and filling salad, which hubby and I shared as part of our dinner. I also made miso salmon, steamed rice, and pickled onions. We "sandwiched" all the deliciousness in nori sheets, which we cut up into little strips and rolled into bite-size morsels. It was SO good. If you're new to Ritual, you can use this referral link to receive a $10 credit. Bon appetit!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Let It Linger

One thing I'd like to work on during my gap year is the art of lingering. This was part of The Busy Boycott Challenge, and I'm slowly getting better at it, but I used to be terrible. Being a hardcore planner, I would rush from one thing to the next, failing to enjoy the moment, because I was overly preoccupied with what happens next. I was very future focussed, and that prevented me from being fully present.

In the past month or so, I've really learned to slow down. I don't sweat the small stuff as much. I take my time, I look around, I talk to people. I am much more present now. Of course, this is a function of having more time, but I think it would have been possible for me to linger even when I was working nine-to-five. Perhaps if I worked at a job that fulfilled me. Perhaps if I wasn't stressed all the time. Perhaps if I hadn't scheduled myself so stringently. Perhaps if I didn't have so many things on my list. I rushed to experience everything, and may have glossed over some key moments as a result.

I've always wanted to linger. I often tell hubby that I wish we had time in Puerto Vallarta to relax on that secluded beach we found during our hike, or I wish we had time in London to sit and watch the parkour performance, or I wish we had time in New York to stuff our bellies with food at the Chelsea Market. The list goes on. I've never thought much about lingering in our home town, but I should, and I will.

Today was a day with almost nothing on the agenda. I took a walk in the afternoon with the intention of picking up a few things, and I lingered. I stumbled upon the World Press Photo Exhibition 2018 at Brookfield Place, and rather than passing by and heading straight for my destination, I stopped. Or rather, I passed by, paused, contemplated, and doubled back--some habits are hard to break. I ended up spending around 20 minutes looking at the photographs, reading the descriptions, and thinking about the world outside my little bubble.

In a crowd of business people, tourists, and students, I felt myself become completely absorbed into the exhibit. Some of the stories and photographs presented were disconcerting, even more so when I took the time to ruminate on them. I've seen many powerful and moving photo exhibits in the past, but my mind was usually at least partly somewhere else. This is one of the first times I've felt so present at an exhibit, and it was a humbling experience.

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2018 at Brookfield Place will be on until 6pm tomorrow (Tue Oct 23).

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Filipino Supermarket Adventures

Hubby and I ventured out to the west end yesterday to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. After a belly-bursting lunch at Congee Queen (YUM!), we took a look at the Filipino supermarket that opened last year. Seafood City Supermarket is jam-packed with delightful Asian goodies. Feast your eyes on these beautifully colourful Filipino desserts!

We went in for a specific item: nori sheets for our sushi burritos (and temaki). Success!!

I haven't had pandesal in years, so I had to pick up a package. I ended up eating two pieces last night after dinner. This lightly sweet bread, edges slightly crispy from the toaster oven, can be extraordinarily addictive to the carb-obsessed. NOM NOM. I quickly froze the rest to avoid stuffing my face even more.

Hubby is obsessed with condensed milk and went all googly-eyed when he saw these. We nearly bought them all until we read the list of ingredients. We ended up purchasing two to try (buko pandan and ube).

We wanted to try Jolibee SO BAD, but we were so full and the lines were so long. We still considered it but ultimately decided to part ways with the ever-enticing fried chicken and spaghetti--for now. We settled for a photo with the mascot to remind ourselves that we must go back one day.

We ended up buying around $23 worth of groceries and snacks, including a box of assorted mini kakanin, which we shared with our family. DELICIOUS.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


It's been almost 2 years since we made sushi burritos, so we thought we would give it another go today. They're more difficult to roll than I remember! I ended up switching to temaki after our first sushi burrito fell apart. Hand rolls are my favourite anyway, and the bonus is that they are SO easy to roll. Hubby continued making sushi burritos, since you can squeeze in a whole lot more salmon, and seemed to develop a knack for it. He preferred not to cut it in half though, so we'll never know if his would have fallen apart too.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Little Box of Happiness

During my walk today, I stumbled upon a Pablo Mini kiosk right smack in the middle of the concourse in Scotia Plaza. I stopped dead in my tracks, and contemplated. I knew I'd be making shrimp risotto for dinner--would we have enough stomach capacity to eat a cheese tart? Maybe I should stick to buying just a mini or two? Who are we kidding here. A full-size original cheese tart came home with me. Our bellies are very very full but oh so happy.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Monthly Food Expenditure

I re-balanced my portfolio today, so I'm in a bit of a finance mood. I decided I would chart my monthly food expenditure over the years to see if I could spot any trends. I started tracking my finances in 2001 or thereabouts, but I can't seem to find the first few years of data, so the below chart shows my average monthly food expenditure from 2005 to 2017, and also for the Jan/18 to Jul/18 period. A couple of key dates:

Q4 2006: We took occupancy of our condo, so we practiced a lot of "fiscal restraint" as we wanted to pay off the condo as quickly as we could.
Q4 2011: We paid off the condo in 5 years and became debt-free. My monthly food expenditures started tracking upward steadily after that.

Note: the below charts represents my monthly expenditure only, i.e., my half of the grocery bill, my half of meals at restaurants with hubby, and my personal expenses when I go out for food with friends. It doesn't take a statistician to see that the trendline was going up.

At the height of my extravagance, in February 2016, I spent nearly $2,000 on food in one month. By this time, I was pretty much going out to eat multiple days each week and buying takeout (or ordering in) the rest of the time. I knew I needed a pattern interrupt, so I tried the eat-at-home challenge. Here's what happened when I did the eat-at-home challenge in November 2016.

The amazing thing about the eat-at-home challenge was that the effect lingered. The reduced spending continued in subsequent months. Not so much in December, because there were celebrations to be had, but January and February 2017 were relatively low. I did the eat-at-home challenge twice in 2017: in March and in November. The November results weren't as impressive, because I started getting really into wine, partly due to work stress. We ate at home a lot more throughout 2017, but we also drank more frequently--pretty much every day towards the end of the year--and that significantly impacted our "food" cost, since I track alcohol in the same category.

The good news is, despite having spent money rather excessively in recent years, I'm actually really really good at not spending money. In fact, I've lived the majority of my life being rather frugal and conservative with money. Now that I've made the ultimate pattern interrupt of quitting my job, I can get back to being myself. It's not a new normal, it's just my plain-old normal. I'll update the below chart once my Q4 2018 results are in, but I'm pretty impressed by the drastic reduction in my average monthly food expenditure in August and September!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dinner for One

Today I realized that meals have become really important rituals for me. I like to take care in making my food, sitting down with intention, and eating slowly with no distractions--even when it's frozen pizza! Gone are the days when I would eat while staring at a screen or eat on the run. I started eating with no distractions long before I left my nine-to-five, so it is possible to eat mindfully even when you're busy. I'm even slower and more intentional now that I have more time. We only had enough leftovers for hubby's dinner tonight, so I took the opportunity to make myself some Sundubu Jjigae (soft tofu stew, aka soon tofu at a lot of Korean restaurants in Toronto). The little bowls surrounding the soon tofu contain pickled onions, pickled carrots, store-bought kimchi, and store-bought umeboshi. I also made some steamed rice. Hubby doesn't like tofu, so his meal roughly mirrored mine, except he gobbled up the rest of the pork dish I made yesterday.

Soon tofu is one of my favourite things to eat, and this recipe is quick, easy, nourishing, and filling. I made a few modifications, but the result was still so tasty. I only had half a cup of dashi left (I made a batch a while back and froze it) so I added half a cup of chicken stock. I omitted the beef/pork and black pepper. I omitted the red chili pepper flakes but added a heaping teaspoon of gochujang. I omitted the scallion but added a bundle of watercress. The photo pictured above was the first serving of my meal. I went back for seconds and polished off the soon tofu. The recipe is supposed to serve two, but tonight it served one hungry pear.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Food Journal

My friend and I went to a talk this evening on gut health with Laura De Sanctis (in collaboration with Consonant Skincare), and I was inspired to start a food journal. Laura recommends tracking your mood before eating, what you eat, and how you feel after eating - for around a week or so. I thought this would be perfect leading up to my November eat-at-home challenge, so I dug up a little Moleskine notebook and will be starting tomorrow. I'm feeling rather excited about this. Do any of you keep a food journal?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Currently Reading #2

Now that I've finished the three books in my Currently Reading #1 list, I borrowed a few more from the library. While waiting for these books to arrive at my home branch, I read two other books (electronic versions) that are not pictured below. I'll update this post as I finish the hard copy books. I'm really thankful to have the time and motivation to read again.

A Tribe Called Bliss by Lori Harder
Recently, I remembered that I had started this book before I quit my job, but I didn't have enough time to finish it. I'm glad I picked it up again! There is so much in this book about self-love and finding your bliss. It's a book I needed to read, and I plan to revisit it in the future to think through or journal on the soul assignments. I'm not sure I'll be meeting with a group (tribe) to go through the tribe discussions, but perhaps one day.

The Little Book of Fika by Lynda Balslev
This was a fun little book that I read in a day (yesterday to be exact). It's full of insights, quotes, and recipes. In my search for simplicity, I've unknowingly adopted some of the Swedish ways of living described in the book, and fika is one of them. I derive so much enjoyment from my mug of hot tea each morning and evening. I also learned about the concept of lagom, which refers to moderation, simplicity, and contentment. The book defines it as "not too much, not too little--just enough" and notes that it "applies to everything, such as one's general state of being, work-life balance, and personal consumption. It manifests in many ways, including frugality, recycling, clean design, simple food, and, of course, fika." Lagom is definitely a concept I am trying to adopt into my life more and more each day.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez
This book is highly recommended by a lot of different sources. I've heard it come up so many times that I've very eager to read it.

Update (Nov 15/18): I love this book! I almost wish I had read it years earlier, but the book echoes a lot of what I already believe and practice, so perhaps the end result would have been the same, regardless of whether I read it years ago or now. The book talks about the importance of tracking your finances, reducing expenses, paying down debt, and investing your money. It's basically a bible for the financially independent, and the advice is sound. There are so many parts that resonated with me, but this excerpt about "Crossover Point Jitters" really stood out, because the highlighted sections are exactly how I'm feeling right now:


At first you may be jumpy. Or bored. Or you may be like a hyperactive kid in a candy store, wanting to gobble experiences. You'll get over it. You'll settle into a routine run not by a clock but by what makes you tick inside.

Whatever carrots you dangled in front of yourself to keep going--you'll start eating them. Travel. Sleep. A week at the beach. Political activism.

Many find that personal or physical issues they'd put on the back burner flare up. These problems have waited in line a long time for your attention. They don't mean you made a mistake; they mean you are getting in shape--body and soul. Whether you're thirty, forty, fifty, or older, your body will likely need attention, and that can be an adventure all its own.

You may learn to play a musical instrument, paint, sing in a choir, tap-dance, or fish; join an ultimate Frisbee team; get hooked on community theater; go conference hopping; get lost in multiplayer online fantasy games; get in better shape than you've ever been; meditate; or serve meals on wheels.

You might even tinker in your shop or your computer and come up with some amazing solution to a gnarly problem--and spread it, giving you more influence than you ever imagined possible.

Nonprofit organizations will offer you seats on their boards. You'll have the change to ask, "How many boards or committees are enough?"

FIers have done all of these and more.

And if you're like such FIers, you will find you have no idea how you had time for a job. Breaking the link between work and money in actual fact will exponentially expand the possibility of discovering your true work, of reintegrating disparate pieces of your life, and of being truly whole. Your days will be brimming, even those days you just putter, tidy, cook, or wander. One activity folds into another without pressure (unless you like pressure!). Nothing is trivial because you put your full attention on it, from meditating to folding laundry to making an important speech to a packed auditorium. It's what economist Juliet Schor calls "plentitude."

You will be free to work for fun, for giving back, for inspiration or aspiration or self-transformation or... whatever you choose.

Choice is at the true heart of Financial Independence. It's not about the money. It's about the choice of where to direct your most precious resources: your time, you attention and your life.

There is no formula for how you live after the Crossover Point. And that's the point. You are free to invent your life. You are free to explore what Buckminster Fuller meant when he said, "We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."


You Are A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Another book that I've heard recommended over and over again. I'm hoping to "manifest money" during my time off. There's currently no part of me that wants to go back to a nine-to-five, despite my minor freak out a few days ago. I'm hoping a new path will reveal itself to me during my gap year and perhaps this book can provide some insight.

Update (Nov 13/18): I enjoyed parts of this book, but overall, it didn't really resonate with me. The book did get good reviews though, and it was also an easy read, so if you're struggling with money and need some inspiration, perhaps this book can provide some clarity.

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski
This book was mentioned several times in Victory Lap Retirement. My definition of "retirement" has been evolving, so I'm sure I'll find this book really interesting!

Update (Jan 25/19): I finished this book quite some time ago, but I forgot to update this blog post. This book contained interesting ideas, but I didn't feel it was groundbreaking. It was also written in a style that didn't resonate with me.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Julienne Peeler

Hubby and I bought this 50mm Julienne Red Peeler from the Toronto Fall Home Show a few weeks ago and used it for the first time tonight. Look at our beautiful zucchini shreds! I'm in love.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Serpentine Pavilion

It's turning out to be a very artsy weekend for hubby and me! We went to #unzippedtoronto today to check out the Serpentine Pavilion. This is a travelling structure that was conceived for a client in London, and will eventually find its permanent home on the Vancouver waterfront. We've seen "unzipped" being built for months, but we hadn't heard much about it, so we weren't sure what to expect. Upon entering the pavilion, I was confused. Was this an exhibition space? Or a condominium project?

Turns out it's a bit of both. The exhibits within the pavilion focus on projects by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), an architectural firm that designs a wide variety of spaces around the world. It just so happens that BIG designed an interesting condominium project for Westbank (a real estate developer), which will eventually be built on the current "unzipped" site, and may prove to be an exciting addition to the neighbourhood.

Overall, #unzippedtoronto was an interesting combination of commerce and art that can often have a polarizing effect on people. The exhibit focuses on a narrow sliver of architectural design, but structure is pretty neat. The Serpentine Pavilion is open daily from 10am to 6pm and will be around for another month or so. There is no entrance fee, but sign up at the Unzipped Toronto website is required for entry.

Friday, October 12, 2018


Hubby's feeling much better (yay!), so we ventured out after dinner this evening to check out a new exhibit. WATERLICHT is an immersive light installation that simulates a flood to draw attention to rising water levels. Designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, WATERLICHT can be viewed at The Bentway this weekend only, from 7:00pm to 11pm. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area -- the exhibit was fascinating and much more stunning in real life.

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