Let’s face it. The first week of work in September is always a slog. Summers over and you never did get to that cottage. Fall is in the air and you start thinking…maybe I should go back to school (probably you shouldn’t). Regardless, there’s no way any of you are going to be productive after 3pm today. So here are some links to keep you occupied…
These drawings by Aiden Koch.
Karly’s defense of Tinder and hookup culture.
This scathing inditement of positive affirmations.
This sweet reflection on the benefits of traveling solo.
When I’m lucky enough to be gifted a bunch of flowers, I secretly look forward to them dying. Okay wait…that sounds bad. I look forward to them drying. Ever since I was a little girl I loved dried flowers almost more than the real deal. Their muted colours, their antique qualities – they seemed like the kind of thing that should be hanging in the house of an eccentric aunt (which it’s my lifegoal to become).
The problem is that in my apartment now there’s never anywhere good to hang them. I end up awkwardly taping flowers to the wall where they inevitably fall down or hanging them from my bedposts (which houseguests have informed me makes me look definitively crazy). So last weekend I designed this minimalist flower drying rack so I could always keep beautifully preserved dry flowers in my home without coming off like a Sanderson sister.
What you’ll need:
- 1 coil of flexible copper wire
- 8-10 copper fitting reducers
- 3 nails
- a hammer
- several bunches of dried herbs or flowers (I used lavender and rosemary)
What to do:
- Begin by measuring out the size of wire you’ll need. Mine was about 6 ft since I was using a large wall.
- Using a tape measure and a level, hammer your two nails into the wall equidistant from each other.
- String a taught line of copper wire between the two nails. I just wrapped the copper wire in tight circles around the nail to secure it. Hammer your third nail in the middle of the wire for stability.
- Now, cut a length of copper wire about the size of your forearm. Begin by wrapping some copper wire around the end of the flower stem to secure it, then string flowers through your copper reducers. The stem should come out of smaller end of the pipe. Thread the remaining copper wire through the pipe and wrap it around to hold it in place.
- Hang flowers in their pipe “vases” from your copper string using additional wire or small mental hooks.
I am chronically indecisive. Otherwise known as a libra.
I had my first panic attack at a Japanese restaurant when I was 12, deciding between the spicy tuna and the unagi. At 21, after hearing the news that I’d been accepted to a prestigious Masters program overseas, I was so paralyzed by the decision I contracted a stress-related viral infection usually reserved for octogenarians. Decisions – big and small – have the ability to bring even confident, self-assured people to their knees. There are many reasons for this but here are a few of the ones I tend to get stuck on:
- Decisions require us to commit to a path while it is still uncertain. We have to take a chance. Take the classic airplane conundrum: “Chicken or beef?” You can watch as each passenger on the plane goes through a mini-existential crisis over the question. But it’s because we’re forced to make the decision before we really know which is the better option. And, in that case, there is always a better option.
- Decisions mean choosing one thing over another (potentially) better thing. If you’re the anxious type, the ambitious type or the curious type, this is simply unacceptable. When you give something up you might never have the opportunity to get it again. What if this is the best unagi in the world and I missed my chance to eat it? Like FOMO, but for commitment.
- Decisions require us to take responsibility for ourselves. When you make a decision, the result – good or bad – falls on you. Suggest a dinner spot to a group of friends? If they love it, great. But if they think it’s too expensive or loud or there aren’t enough gluten-free menu options, all eyes side-glance to Mr. Know-it-all. When you avoid committing to a decision you can say “it wasn’t really up to me” or “I never wanted to do this in the first place.” Those are much easier to say than, “I was wrong.”
With all of that said, the benefits of committing to a decision are limitless. Your Saturday night is more fun when don’t you troll facebook obsessing over which event will be the most fun, you just pick something and go for it. Your career flourishes when you put your all into it and don’t criticize yourself for “selling out” or doing the wrong thing. Your relationship will be more rewarding when you’re all-in and not constantly considering who else might be out there. The best way to counteract decision paralysis is to do the hard work of finding out what you honestly want. Once you know that, it’s so much easier to go after.
So…how do you figure out what you want? There’s no easy way to do this. Self-awareness is a process that takes time. But there are a few questions I have started to ask myself when I feel deep-level indecision that have helped me figure out what my real desires are.
The first question is HOW DOES THIS MAKE ME FEEL? Think short-term and long-term here. Does it feel good today? Will it keep feeling good in a week? A month? Which brings up the next question CAN I ENVISION THIS IN MY FUTURE? If you can’t seem to picture it, you probably don’t want it. Even if you want to want it. The last question, and the one that has helped most is DOES THIS MAKE ME PROUD? In my experience, if you don’t want to shout it from the rooftops or brag about it to the people you care about you probably don’t really want it.
Figuring out what you want takes time, patience and practice. But saving yourself the struggle of indecision or (worse) decisions made for the wrong reasons makes it a worthy effort.
There is a lot more to life than salad and spin class.
There is art that alters your perspective on the world. Travel that alters your perspective on yourself. Music that makes you feel things (drake). Work that if you’re lucky fulfills you. Friends who enrich your life. Loves who make you feel timeless. Families who support you and give life meaning. I am of the opinion that a “healthy lifestyle” can and should include all these elements. But not to the detriment of self-care.
Eating well and moving your body deserve to be prioritized as well. Different but equal. The older you get the more you’re forced to accept that. So if you’re the type of person who tends to prioritize work, friends and relationships over self-care (me! me! me!) here are a few tips that have helped me over the years to strike that tenuous balance.
- Drink a little less
I’m SUCH a deb, I know. Drinking = friends = fun, right? I don’t entirely disagree. I think drinking is a great thing to do sometimes, but moderation is key. Drinking multiple times a week means you’re home less which leads to a messy apartment and no groceries. It means you blow money on overpriced drinks at the bar instead of saving that money or spending it on other more meaningful aspects of your life. It means you spend less time hanging out with close pals, more time with acquaintence-type psuedo-pals (boo!). Cutting back on drinking (even just 1-2 nights less than usual) is one easy way to free up time, money and energy so you can foster other interests.
- Wake up a little earlier
Now that you find yourself drinking less, you may notice that you’re waking up earlier (even on weekends!). And what are you going to do with this extra time? Productive stuff that’s what! No one cool is up early in the morning so there’s no one to hang out with. Mornings are the time to do things like catch up on your credit card payments, skype your mom, do your laundry, cook a batch of healthy food to eat all week long, tidy your apartment, make something, go for a walk, etc. Who knows? You might actually start to meet other “morning” people who have cool morning-person interests that you might be into as well.
- Eat a lil something for breakfast
I know I’m not breaking ground by suggesting that a healthy breakfast is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but I do think it’s important and it definitely changed my own approach to eating. A little something in the morning boosts your energy and keeps your hunger in check for the rest of the day. I always notice I’m a lot more “snacky” in the evenings on days when I postpone breakfast. Some simple favourites of mine include overnight oats, oatmeal, green smoothies, poached eggs on whole grain toast or my healthy banana oat pancakes.
- Eat a few more vegetables
I’ve said this before, but I am of the opinion that it’s better to focus on adding things to your diet rather than eliminating them. And the easiest and most obvious addition to your diet should always be to just EAT MORE FREAKIN VEGETABLES. Like double what you’re eating now. For me this looks like serving my lunch on a big bed of arugula, adding vegetables to my snacks or doubling up on side dishes at dinner time (salad AND green beans). Your body will thank you for all the extra nutrients and the fibre.
- Move a little more
Doesn’t matter what you do. Aim for 30 minutes a day. Walking, biking, yoga, weights, skipping, crossfit, whatever. I’m not going to tell you why because you know why. It feels good. Short-term bad, long-term good. Make the time.
It took me a long time to realize that I was a control freak. Because I have always been really good at it.
Even as a kid I could make situations go my way without those around me really knowing it. I like to think of this as tilting the pinball machine but in the business world I think it’s called “framing.” I don’t think this makes me a sociopath because I didn’t derive any pleasure from manipulation. I derived my self-worth not from manifesting my ideal scenarios, but having them go seamlessly. I was obsessed with being right. And I thought that everyone – myself, my friends, my family – would the better for it if I got my way.
As it turns out, I was definitely not better for it. I was a powder keg of stress and anxiety. I felt enormous self-imposed pressure for everything to go well all of the time. I had no resiliency or ability to handle things when they went wrong. It was only after my quarter-life-nervous-breakdown that I understood the negative impact micro-managing had on my life. How it bred resentment in my relationships. Made me feel isolated. Sucked the fun and surprise out of everything.
Nowadays, I find liberation in relinquishing control. I do this by asking for help. By admitting when I’m wrong. By facing my fear and anxiety head-on. When I go into a situation that is scary or unknown my inclination is to plan ahead for every possible outcome. However, I have “reframed” this for myself in recent years. I see planning as something that prepares me for the unknown but does not stave it off.
Organization and preparation are just tools that trick your mind into feeling confident. It’s that confidence that has enabled me to embrace flexibility…most of the time.
I’m the girl who brings salad to a party. I accepted this fate long ago.
The trick is to bring a salad that’s so delicious no one really cares. The other trick is to BE COOL ABOUT IT. Don’t make a big deal about your new veg-positive lifestyle. Don’t pester people who prefer more typical BBQ fare. Trust me. By being LOW KEY about your healthy contribution, you can ensure that a) your salad gets eaten and b) no one leaves said party talking how new-agey you’ve become or how you “used to be fun.”
Here’s a recipe that might help you out in these efforts…
SUMMER DINNER PARTY KALE SALAD
Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side
- 2 large bunches of kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 block sheep feta
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup balsamic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp tamari
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Coat chickpeas in coconut oil, cumin paprika and sea salt.
- Bake on a lined baking sheet for 40 minutes. Remove from heat for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Cook for an additional 10 minutes (this is a trick I learned here and it really helps to crisp them up).
- Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup and tamari.
- Add dressing to kale and masssage gently with your hands until wilted.
- Top kale with roasted chickpeas, feta, pumpkin seeds and blueberries and serve.
…Because some days it’s just too beautiful to set foot in a gym.
For a good time try completing 2-3 sets of this. Thank me when you’re happy, sweaty and tanned.
New York City gives me the same feeling I get when I’m standing in front of an ocean.
I feel insignificant, in a powerful way. My life feels small. My struggle feels relative. That feeling is a comfort.
There’s no shortage of New York City Guides out there written by honest to goodness New Yorkers. I’m not that. I pack 2 flannel shirts, a muttonhead toque & a pair of blundstones everywhere I go “just in case.” I could not be more Canadian. But I also know how it feels to travel to a big city without a plan. Without pals to show you around. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite places and moments from my latest trip to New York, in case anything strikes your fancy.
Morning in Bushwick:
Wake up early, grab a quick snack of sliced mangoes and fresh coconut at Fine Fare Supermarket in Bushwick, a grocery store that looks like a bargain basement from the outside and a whole-foods-of-your-dreams inside. With the edge taken off, wander over to Little Skips for a coffee and some pretty people watching. Grab one of their Norwegian open-faced avocado, goat cheese and salmon sandwiches before heading out for the day.
Afternoon in Fort Greene:
Get your fill of overpriced yuppie antique goods and (to console yourself when you can’t afford anything) Dough Brooklyn’s Hibiscus doughnuts at the Brooklyn Flea.
Happy Hour in Manhattan
I’ll admit I typically spend the majority of my New York visits in Brooklyn. Would you expect any less from a self-professed hipster? But there are obviously loads of places I like to go in New York City proper. Babe-watching in Washington Square Park. Vintage shops in like Edith Machinist in the Lower East Side. Eating my weight in smoked fish at Russ and Daughters. And my recent favourite find was Happy Hour Oysters at Fish (6 blue point oysters plus a glass of Chardonnay, Merlot or PBR for $8). For an more upscale oyster experience you may also want to try Maison Premier in Williamsburg. Heaven.
Nightlife in Brooklyn
Happyfun Hideaway has cheap drinks and nice people with a queer-friendly backyard party feel. The Narrows for a David-Lynchy vibe with especially flattering lighting. Late-night tacos are non-optional. These tasty ones from Santa Ana Deli made life worth living.
Let me know if you’ve been to any of these spots or if you have any suggestions for me. And if you feel the need to mock me for how bushwick-centric this post is…I’ll take the hit. 😉
Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re going to a music festival this summer. And I don’t blame you. There’s something undeniably appealing about 3 straight days of pure, unadulterated summer fun. The perfect blend of escapism and nostalgia.
But if you’re anything like me you also value things like healthy food, quiet time, running water, self-respect, etc. Classic adulthood conundrum.
In an effort to address one of those concerns I thought I would share my shopping list for Wayhome this weekend. I still anticipate buying a few overpriced tacos on-site, but my goal was to cover snacks, breakfasts and lunches. My shopping list includes a mix of whole grains and fruit to keep you energized (for dancing), healthy fats to keep you satisfied (for long treks between your campsite and each show), and some protein to keep your blood sugar in balance (so your friends don’t hate you by the end of the weekend). I’ve included a couple of quick recipes as well. Hope you enjoy!
My shopping list
– Trail mix*
– Vegan Banana Granola Bars*
– Coconut water
– Rice cakes
– Nut butter
– Canned tuna
Easy Meal ideas:
– Avocado “toast” on rice cakes
– Chickpea and tuna salad
– Apple and almond butter sandwich
FAVOURITE TRAIL MIX
– 2 cups pumpkin seeds
– 1 cup coconut flakes
– 1.5 cups chopped figs
VEGAN BANANA GRANOLA BARS
– 2 bananas, mashed thoroughly
– 1/4 cup applesauce
– 2 cups oats
– 1/2 cup chopped dates
– 1/3 cup chocolate chips
– 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
Stir to combine. Press down in a lined 8 x 8 baking sheet. Bake at 350 for approx 30 mins.
Before I knew rosemary from thyme in the kitchen, I knew how to bake. I love baking. The ritual of it calms me down and and distracts my mind which helps me a lot when I’m feeling anxious, nervous or stressed. Rarely is it ever about the product, it’s a process thing.
That said, there is nothing worse than having a baking experiment bomb so over time I’ve noticed I return to a few tried and true recipes time and time again. This is one of those. Simple, adaptable and I always have the key ingredients on hand.
I’ve called these Ugly Cookies because that’s what they are. Gnarly little piles of chocolate chips, walnuts and figs. Sometimes a little ugly is a good thing.
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup applesauce (or yogurt)
1 cup chopped figs
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.
3. In a separate bowl combine oil, egg & applesauce.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until a dough has formed.
5. Add in figs, chocolate and walnuts.
6. Bake at 350 on a lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes.