Monday, 26 November 2012

That Moment

That moment when you realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be and are turning into what you always were.  That moment of deja vu you have been preparing for.   That moment where you feel like you finally take up the right amount of space in your body.

When you can manage a 100 hour work week feeling and be at peace.  When waking up isn't a fight with an alarm clock to stay in a different story.
That moment where you end up surprising yourself.
I have had a serious debate with myself for the last 6 months about whether or not I am a leader.    My thoughts were around the fact that maybe I am just not good enough, perceptive enough, perfect enough, strong enough to lead.  Maybe I would be better as an independent contributor; less responsible for people, less burdened by the weight of decisions and high stakes gambles.  Contributing was easy and a default position, but still stung of a second place position in life.   My mentor would point out that my words betrayed that me as a follower.  Perhaps it was the limit of my experience, or maybe it was who I was at my core and had to accept it. I was still ill at ease with the idea of being an independent contributor.    The idea of being consigned to a 'just not quite good enough' role equated to failure.   I struggled for months even answering a question as simple as 'What are your strengths?'  I would sit, dumb-founded, at the other end of the conversation and picture nothing.  My mind would settle into the sort of silence you feel driving through fog at night that makes you feel so small in the unknown expanses around you.  If I couldn't engage with myself on that basic level, then I mustn't be a leader.   And just when I had nearly negotiated myself into a safe and comfortable harbour, something happened (as something generally does in a story) and I surprised myself.

The sudden strength is something that you always had, but just never used.  The uncompromising perfection you insisted upon is no longer important, but instead replaced with unwavering commitment to do what's right.   It's like hearing each individual instrument in a piece of music; you understand it in present and future tense and better yet, you are excited to show people what you can do next.  It's not about having all the answers all of the time, but instead showing up and being consistent with your actions. Oddly, the best comparison I can draw is like a duck on water.  Though you might be moving a furious pace beneath the water, your mind is the calm above the surface.  Adaptable, unwavering and confident in the steps pushing you ahead.

That moment will eventually fade.  Stress will creep in at the edges.   You will once again burden yourself with self doubt and feel you are not enough.  I listed my strengths as they revealed themselves and I showed myself that second best is sometimes a choice.  For now, my goal is to remember that I was unrelenting in my drive and only found it when I made a bet on myself.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Roasted Corn, Tomato, and Red Pepper Soup!

It’s getting cold outside and soup is one of my favourite things to eat when I need something to warm me up. I was thinking I would make some squash or pumpkin soup but then realized I was getting a little tired of the quintessential Fall flavours. I wanted something with a little heat to warm and comfort me…something sweet and slightly spicy…but something with Chipotle or Smoked Paprika instead of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, or Clove. I started my search for a recipe and found one for Roasted Corn, Tomato, and Red Pepper Soup. Yum and sold!
This is a very easy soup to make but it is time-consuming because it requires one to roast the corn, tomatoes, and red peppers separately. In my opinion, the time is well worth it. This soup is delicious! I served it with warm garlic baguette and guacamole.

Roasted Corn, Tomato, and Red Pepper Soup (Serves 4)


2 tomatoes (ripe but firm)
6 heads of corn
2 red peppers
1 red onion (not a massively huge one; if your onion happens to be huge, use half)
1 yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of cream
About 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (just enough to cover the ingredients in the pot)
1 tsp of chipotle powder
1 tsp of salt
Smoked paprika for garnish


1)      Set your oven to Broil – High
2)      Place the peppers on a pan and broil until their skins are black and blistered on all sides, about 15 minutes. Turn as needed. Remove them from the oven.
3)      Set the oven to 375 degrees F
4)      Place the charred peppers in a paper bag or in a glass container with tight-fitting lid and let them steam
5)      In the meantime, place the tomatoes in a dish or in a pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes. I used the time it took for the tomatoes to roast to wash and cut the onions, garlic, and corn, and to place the corn kernels on a baking sheet in a single layer. After I prepared these ingredients, I peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped the peppers. The skins of the peppers should have loosened by this time and you should be able to just slip them off. If this is difficult, you can use a peeler to get the skins off.
6)      Remove the tomatoes from the oven but leave the oven on.
7)      Place the corn in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reserve a few handfuls of corn for garnishing.
8)      Core and peel the tomatoes and chop coarsely.
9)      In a soup pot, combine the onions, garlic, roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers, corn, broth, and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
10)   Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
11)   Stir in the chipotle powder and salt.
12)   Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. While blending, slowly pour in the cream. Pour into blows and garnish with reserved corn and smoked paprika. You can also garnish with avocado or guacamole!

First, the peppers...

Peeling roasted peppers is easily one of my least favourite kitchen tasks...yuck! I recommend you char the heck out of these things...makes the skin slip off easier...

Second, the tomatoes...

Smells soooo good.....
Third, the corn...


Now, putting it all together... 

Yum! After all the prep work, this soup comes together really quickly. You may want to roast the veggies the day before if you are time constrained...this would be a treat for Monday dinner!

Enjoy! (Please ignore hideous bowl :) )

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Natural Skin Care: For Oily Skin

Time is valuable, and this blog is all about getting the most out of every day, and finding the beauty in each and every experience.  Something I have been having trouble seeing the beauty in lately has been my skin.  One of the joys of having a change in one’s hormones can be a distinct change in skin texture and needs.  I have a hard time keeping track of what I am not supposed to use on my skin; I know I shouldn’t be using anything scented or anything with chemicals or hard-to-pronounce ingredients.  So, in an effort to find something that is safe and effective, I took to internet research.  There are millions of different suggestions out there – Google it yourself if you don’t believe me.  I am NOT about to try a million different things, so I tried to narrow my focus by finding suggestions for remedies which included ingredients I already had in my cupboards.  I’d like to say that this narrowing of focus was for you, the reader, but I must admit that it really appealed to my need for efficiency.  Truth be told, I was looking for something easy, cheap, effective, and fast.  Any spare time I have these days is for sleeping, not for trying to concoct a skin care recipe that is so complicated no one will want to try it.  

So, I found a “recipe” for treating oily skin.  Now, for any readers who know me personally, you will be wondering why in the name of goodness I was looking for an oily skin treatment.   Even though I traditionally have very dry skin, my little bean (surprise – there’s a bun in the oven!) has decided that oily skin will be the surprise of the month for me.

At this point I should note that this “recipe” has been tried by at least one other mama in my online forum.  She had great success, and even added her own twist.  (See below)
The “recipe” did not really come with measurements (hence the quotation marks) so thanks to a process of trial and error, I am offering you suggestions for measurements given what worked for me.

You will need:
3 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. milk
½ tsp. cinnamon

* If you find that the mixture is too stiff to work with, I suggest adding milk VERY sparingly.  There’s a fine line between exactly enough milk and way too much!

The original “recipe” did not call for cinnamon, but the aforementioned mama decided that since cinnamon has anti-oxidant properties (and smells delicious) it would be an appropriate add-on to the ingredient list.  I agree completely.  Smell the paste before and after adding the cinnamon if you want to see for yourself.

I am slightly camera shy at the best of times, so I had serious trepidation at the thought of including a picture of my face with this crazy stuff on there!  And really – we’re not all that close just yet.  :)
The final product looks pretty harsh, but don’t judge until you try it.  Don’t bother trying to cake it on so that it looks like a mask (you won’t be able to), just use it as you would any other exfoliating product. 

I love the feeling of something tingling on my face – it makes me believe something’s really happening.  Even with the amazing power of technology, you are unable to feel the difference this scrub made to my skin, so I have to ask you to trust me here.  It actually worked!! 
So with the success of this easy and cheap home remedy, I started wondering what I could use for the dry skin on my hands and legs.  I know, I know, unscented hand cream.  But honestly – where’s the fun in that? 
I’m off on another skin care mission and will post if I find anything worth sharing for those of you who, like me, battle dry skin during the harsh winter months.  

~ Shannon