Happy 4th of July!

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Wishing all our American neighbours a wonderful Independence Day! Loved this tribute to the flag.

Doh!! Sorry to all, that’s what I get for trying to post from my phone. Here is a picture of the flag that I thought was great!

Heading to the farm!

I’m so excited that you’re going to get a two-part post because I can’t wait until tonight. I’m off to Devon Acres farm to purchase a share in their CSA. Lovely farm fresh, organically grown veggies for the rest of the summer! Hoping the kids will grow to love them more when the see how vegetables are supposed to taste!

I’ll be back to update with more details and maybe even pictures before long!

The Secret of Success found with Serenity, Courage and Wisdom.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”

~John C. Maxwell

I love this quote. It really resonates with me and the situations I have found myself in, in my life, especially as of late. I also think this is a true statement in regards to the negativity you can bring into your life. We have so many routines that are a part of our daily life, have you ever stopped to think how those routines impact you? Are they positive or negative? Are they habits that are performed consciously or unconsciously?

My running has fallen by the wayside. I am working at it again, but without the momentum that I had embraced since January. I always knew that if I missed one day I would get derailed, and that day came. It was the day before my husband was to go into the hospital for an angiogram, the day before our world turned upside down and would be forever altered. The day before our family would find out that one of us was now going to have to find a way to live with “heart disease” so essentially, the day before we found out we would all be living with it. The day before a Cardiac Surgeon stood by the hospital bed and said “I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a better prognosis”. Funny – a time in my life when I needed the release that came with running, and routine and I let it slip away. It’s also the same time that I stopped posting here daily. But this post isn’t about the fallout from health issues that have impacted our family over the last month or so…one day I’ll post about that, but not today.

Today I want to re-focus on how daily activities can impact our lives. First, you need to be aware of them though. I love the Orange Rhino – a mom working her way through no longer being a “yeller”. I’m a yeller, so this rings true for me. I hate being a yeller, but sometimes it feels I cannot stop myself. You can find a lot of tips on her website here :http://theorangerhino.com/ along with her story. For me this is a negative behaviour that I want desperately to change. It affects my mood, it obviously affects my children, and my husband. It’s always a quick stress reliever, that never actually relieves my stress, just temporarily dulls it while the feelings of guilt and embarrassment come to the forefront. One of the biggest things I’m coming to grasps with is that I can’t control other people’s behaviours (gasp!! who knew!!) I can only control my own, and my reaction to those behaviours.

Another wonderful group are those working towards “A Complaint Free World”. You can read more about their mission on their website at http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org/.

Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.
~ Benjamin Disraeli

So be aware of the triggers that cause the negative behaviours, and look towards what daily activities you can do to promote health, happiness and success in your life. Don’t forget to look at all aspects of your life. You need to feed your body, mind and spirit to have a truly balanced and happy life. Here are a few ideas for daily behaviours to help you get started:

Find a calming start of day routine – making coffee and cuddling the cat, a tea and some bible study time, hot water with lemon and a few minutes with an uplifting blog. Notice – no internet news sites!! No mind-sucking negative-focused t.v. or media sites. Find something calming and relaxing to get you started, perhaps it will be an exercise routine. A Yoga practice or a quick run. You can increase your heart rate while calming your mind!

Crunched for time? Set a timer! Spend 10 mins playing with your kids. Go for a quick walk – look around, take in the surroundings and breathe deep. Play a game that you can walk away and come back to, like chess or a jigsaw puzzle. Write a to-do list. Sometimes having a plan, like a list, can take a lot of pressure off the many stressors of our day-to-day lives.

Have a little more time? Make a phone call to a friend, write a letter or send a card – just because! Write in a journal, or a blog (you can keep them private).

Looking for a few more ideas? You can find some great ones on Gretchen Rubin’s website.

Practicing something every day is not a new concept. AA uses it to encourage and support sobriety, many business leaders speak of perseverance in the name of success. Life coaches and personal coaches know the importance of healthy and productive repetitive behaviours.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Maple Syrup On A Stick

In honour of family day and the fact that maple syrup season is just around the corner I thought for today’s “recipe” I would post about making maple syrup taffy. If you have ever been to a sugar bush you may have tried this tasty treat. If you live in a region where you have access to a sugar bush, yet have never been, what are you waiting for??? Our family usually hits at least two every season. It’s probably one of our most consistent traditions. Our kids could probably do the tour at the one sugar bush we hit every season.

You can find lots of recipes on the internet. Our family’s only requires, maple syrup, fresh snow, and a few mistakes for good tasting.

So onto the fun!

What you’ll need:

  • Pure Maple Syrup – no ifs ands or buts, it needs to be the real thing
  • Freshly fallen snow. You are going to be consuming this, you want the fresh stuff!!
  • A candy thermometer can be very useful, but is optional
  • A pot, Pyrex measuring cup, plates or cookie sheet
  • A spoon, and popsicle sticks if you have them, we’ve even used chopsticks.

The “technique”:

  • Bring about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of maple syrup to a boil. I prefer a slower boil as I can keep a better eye on it and it doesn’t reduce too quickly.
  • If you are using a candy thermometer, you are aiming for the “soft ball” stage, 235 degrees F
  • If you aren’t using a thermometer, you will be reducing the maple syrup by approximately 1/3. You are looking for when it starts to thicken and the syrup sticks to the back of the spoon.

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Now onto the real fun.

  • As the syrup is nearing this stage, you can have everyone fill their plates with snow. We always give the kids their own, saves on any arguments! If there aren’t any of those concerns in your house (well that just means you’ve never done this before!) you can use a cookie sheet and pack that with snow.
  • Being VERY, VERY careful, this is boiling sugar, pour the syrup into the Pyrex measuring cup. Pour the maple syrup in lines on the snow. Without transferring to a cup, you can also use a spoon to drizzle the syrup over the snow. I tend to use the spoon method because I don’t use a thermometer. So sometimes I find i have to return the syrup and boil it down a little more. Honestly I think the kids enjoy these “mistakes” and they get to enjoy a little more of the maple syrup.
  • Wait about 30 seconds. Using the popsicle sticks, roll the toffee onto the sticks, or you can also use a spoon to roll it into a ball.

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This wasn’t quite ready, as the “balls” were still soft. Too bad, but not really, it was still delicious!

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imageEven if it’s not quite perfect, the memories will be! I hope you get to enjoy this fun, tasty winter tradition with your family!

Sesame Street Treats

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Found this picture on line and thought it would be great to share. Sometimes getting kids to try new fruits and veggies can be made easier with a fun new approach. I know my kids eat more veggies if they’ve got a tray to choose from vs me putting pieces on their plates. It also seems many kids prefer their veggies raw. Keep trying different approaches and fingers crossed you will find something they like. Tomorrow is Family Day in Ontario, for those of you in the province who get to enjoy I hope you all have a special, fun filled, memorable day.

Healthy-er Valentine Treats

Thursday is Valentine’s day. Along with Christmas and birthdays it has to be one of the highest on the list of indulgence days. However, who says you can’t have chocolate as part of a treat? I chose to drizzle some melted dark chocolate over nuts, for a healthier option to the traditional Valentine’s day chocolates. The great thing, you don’t need much chocolate. I melted down 7 pieces (not even a full chocolate bar) in a double boiler. There was so much left over that I threw a few walnut halves in the bowl after the fact and made “chocolate covered walnuts” and there was still lots of chocolate left over.

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Choose some of your favourite nuts, I encourage almonds, cashews and walnuts. Macadamias are also a good choice.

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Place the nuts on parchment or wax paper. When the chocolate is ready, drizzle it over the nuts. Allow to set and place on a plate or wrap up in a fancy box.

Even better then this healthy-er treat, is to pair it with a walk or activity with your loved one. Why not make a commitment this year to spend one night a month participating in an activity that raises your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. Maybe even make the date once a week!

One Simple Thing for February

Have you started thinking about the one change you will be making in February to add to what you have been doing in January? Did you forget about your one simple change from January? February is around the corner, so why don’t you take some time to sit down and think about one change that you can implement to increase your happiness and mindfulness. The goal can be fitness, nutrition or personal growth based. Pick something to add or remove that will be a bit of a challenge, the best part about starting a month with a goal and reaching the end of that month is the accomplishment, and then of course, there is the added health benefit! Here’s the link that started the plan this year. I’ll be continuing with my stretching and I have to admit I have let a few days lapse with my food journalling so I think that is what I am going to focus on this coming month.

So here we go:

  • 2013: Run 1 km per day and stretch
  • January: Pay attention to my sleeping needs. On nights, go to bed during the day (I feel guilty missing the kids, even though I can be a grump – go figure), and on days off and day shifts, get to bed earlier. **I have been doing okay with this, but it definitely needs more work. For me this is an ongoing challenge, so I’ll keep working on it.
  • February: Time Management! Journal what I eat, and create a workout schedule for the month.

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few ideas, from simple to challenging…and don’t forget what might be simple to you may be challenging to someone else and vice versa. Think about what you will benefit from the most.

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day
  • Walk the kids to school every day (this can focus on a lot of different areas, time management, family time, fitness)
  • Commit to 30 mins of continuous exercise every day
  • Take a special interest class (think painting, writing workshop, Zumba, tai chi)
  • Meditate
  • Start a yoga practice
  • Borrow a new exercise video from the library every week – and do it!
  • Plan a family game night, every week
  • Add a new healthy recipe to your meal plan, every week
  • Eat veggies with every meal (even breakfast!!)

I’d love to hear what your plan is…