Good Work Takes Hard Work.

4/21/2014

(2 comments)

I hope you all had a lovely Easter long weekend!

Because I worked on Saturday, I actually have today off...before heading into a brutal 4-day work week. Seriously. This week I'm in a 4-day training/development workshop for my company and the schedule is intense. Seriously. One day starts at 8am and finishes, with the after workshop team bonding activity, at 9pm. Another day starts at 5:30am. AM. It's going to be a long week and I'm sure my brain will just be stuffed full with information that I'll be on serious information overload. But there will be no rest because....

This Is Verity launches next Monday! 

Yes, the site will go live on Monday, April 28th so between now and then, every "non-working" moment I have will be spent working on TIV. Not gonna lie, I'm a mixture of excited and nervous to finally share what I've been working on with all of you. Between myself and Brenna, we've amassed some seriously inspiring, accessible, honest, diverse content that I can't wait to share with you all. So I hope you'll check out the site when it goes live next Monday! And maybe help spread the word before then by liking us on Facebook or following and tweeting us on Twitter?

Until then, I've got some fun links I've bookmarked to share with all of you:

- Every Monday throughout April I'm being featured, along with several other lovely ladies, over on The Feisty House blog sharing what we're looking forward to this spring. Everything from what makeup and hair looks we're excited to try out to what fashion trends we'll give a go. You can check out the first two posts here and here.

- I came across this article of the 17 phrases that you're probably saying wrong and the word geek in me  loves it! How many are you saying wrong???

- I also found this blog post, How To Have A Great Life Without Spending A Lot Of Money...so many great tips. Seriously worth the read people.

- Yes, this is slightly morbid but when Molly shared the link I too found it pretty interesting. A photographer, for a photo project, recreated the last meal of death row prisoners.

Have a great week!

Man, I did a crap job of updating you all weekly on my 30 day Pescatarian Challenge, eh? I was conscious of how I was feeling and made mental notes of what I wanted to update you all on...but actually sitting down to type up a proper post...didn't happen.

So a bit of a late update about weeks 2-4, yes?

Totally need to add some non-meat cook books to my collection
+ In week two I continued to feel low energy...often having a period where I'd crash in the afternoon. However, that was also the week the time changed one hour forward so it could have had something to do with that. Moving into weeks 3 and 4 my energy level returned to about the same as before.

+ For the entire duration of my challenge I had that overwhelming feeling that I had accidentally ate meat at a meal. The feeling would hit me at some random point during the day and I'd literally have a mini panic...recalling everything I'd ate only to realize/confirm that I hadn't ate meat. It was a terrible feeling thinking that the days I'd put in had gone down the drain because I had been careless and when I realized/confirmed that that wasn't actually so I was relieved. I felt this way during week one and thought it would go away during the rest of the challenge but it didn't. I'm wondering at what point that feeling goes away? Like, if you're a vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian after being a meat-eater...do you always have that feeling...is it engraved in you? I dunno. I even had a dream (on Day 19...I remember!) that I ate a chicken burger thinking it was a vegetarian burger and I was so bummed. I woke up feeling totally defeated and it was a few minutes later, while brushing my teeth, that I realized it was just a dream and I felt so relieved.

+ Actually avoiding meat wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be. Wherever I ate out there was always a suitable vegetarian option. I'd make and bring my own lunch to work on some days when I was unsure of what their options would be. I went out with friends for dinner to a sushi place and had an amazing all-you-can-eat dinner of sushi and sashimi...it was filling and delicious.

+ I did attend a baby shower and birthday party and in both cases the meat options looked far more yummy than the vegetarian options. It was in these moments that I had to practice extreme restraint. In both cases I think it was the smell that was tempting me...but I held strong. Thank goodness for cheese platters.

+ I had this idea that I'd cut out meat and lose a ton of weight. I think most people think that? Well, that didn't happen. That was the only real drastic change I made to my diet, everything else pretty much stayed the same...so I haven't suddenly lost 5 or 10 pounds. Back in February I was watching what I ate in general (not snacking as much, watching portion sizes, going easy on the sugar etc.) and I did lose a few pounds then...perhaps if I had been that conscious during March I would have shed a few additional pounds? But, a friend at work did say that I looked thinner, as if I'd shed some weight...so...I dunno.

+ I did find myself cooking more for myself during this challenge but I didn't experiment with different vegetables or incorporate them into my meals as much as I wanted to. I blame that on not really knowing what to do with them more than making, you know, a salad or something. There are a few cookbooks I wanted to add to my collection that would have helped but I didn't get around to picking them up. I did, however, just order this one yesterday and I can't wait for it to get here.

+ My cravings are normally for something salty but this month I definitely leaned more to sweets. I'm wondering if there is a co-relation between salty craving and meat? Definitely gonna google that.

+ Overall, giving up meat and eating like a pescatrian for one month was easier than I thought it would be.

So, today is day 31 and assuming I can make it through the next 7 hours I'll have successfully completed my 30 Day Pescatarian Challenge! Wow. As a life-long meat-eater I never thought I could actually do it. So what happens next?

Well, I talked about some of my hopes/plans for how I hope to incorporate meat back into my diet here and I pretty much still feel the same; I'd like to become an ethical meat eater. Will I be rushing out to eat the first meat thing I can find tomorrow? No. No I will not. That's surprising, eh? But after 31 days with no meat...and wanting to become an ethical meat eater...I feel like I want my first meat dish to be...special. I don't want to waste it on, like, a burger from McDonalds or something. Going forward, my hope is that each time I do eat meat it's like...an indulgence/treat. Something that I look forward to and savour. I know, I know. This might sound all kinda...maybe like I'm making too much of a big deal out of eating meat but it's just how I feel. I have some more thoughts regarding this whole meat eating thing and how I hope to approach it...when/if I can get my act together I'll write a post to share.

So, that's that. It's been an enlightening month and one that I hope will be the start of...a new lifestyle change for me.

Oh, and thank you all for sharing your thoughts and comments and own stories on my initial post.

(full disclosure: I did twice have my favourite spicy beef/chicken Mr. Noodles but I figure that's not real chicken or beef flavouring...is it? Oh well).



My 30 day pescatarian challenge: Week 1

3/10/2014

(10 comments)
For the month of March I'm embarking on a bit of a self-imposed challenge: I've eliminated meat from my diet and instead am trying a pescatarian diet. What's a pescatarian diet? Basically it's a diet without meat (think land animals) but allows seafood, dairy, and eggs. (Here's more info) I wanted to get a few days under my belt before mentioning anything here and now that I've got 7 days under my belt, I thought I'd do a post talking about the "why" and give a weekly update about how I've been feeling, any changes I've noticed, and that sort of thing.

So first, the why. Something you should probably know about me first: I'm a huge meat eater. Huge. I enjoy eating meat. Most of my favourite dishes centre around meat. I like the taste of it - aint no shame in that. But challenging myself to not eat meat for one month is something I've wanted to try for a long time now. I think it was even on my list of things I wanted to attempt while living in India. So why would someone who likes meat willingly want to give it up for a month? Well, it has nothing to do with lent - just to get that out of the way. I actually didn't make that connection until I told someone at work what I was doing and they asked if it was for lent. Nope, it's not. I just happened to coincidentally pick March as the month for my challenge. I think most people who decide to go pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, or any other type of diet like that do it for one, or a combination of, the following three reasons: health, ethical, or environmental. For me, it's primarily an ethical reason. Books like Eating Animals, documentaries like The Cove, and Howard, yes my Howard, have changed the way I feel about eating animals. The books and documentaries opened my eyes to the treatment of animals. The often cruel and inhumane way many animals live, are bred, are captured, and are slaughtered, to become a part of my meal. That on its own was enough to put a little voice in my head that was no longer entirely okay with eating meat. The more you know, right? Ignorance truly is bliss, folks. Couple that with being a pet owner and a little light bulb went off: animals have feelings. And personalities. Likes and dislikes. I never truly understood this until I got Howard. So, knowing what I know now, and understanding what I know now, I've long wanted to challenge myself to go a month without meat. It's something I've always thought I could never do because I enjoy chicken...but so far, I've got 7 days under my belt.

So why a pescatarian diet? Well, I figured cutting meat out would be challenging enough for me and I still wanted to enjoy some form of meat-y protein; I'm okay with eating basic seafood (fish and shrimps) and eggs are one of my favourite things to eat on the planet so a pescatarian diet seemed to align with what I wanted and was willing to do for the month. Now, I know that many people reading will say/argue/point out that "seafood is still flesh" and that sustainable fish farming is a growing concern...and to that I say, everything is debatable - you have to do your own research and do what feels right to you. I'm totally not here to knock anyone's choices or to act like I know it all - because I don't. But this is what feels right for me.

So what happens after the month? Well, I'm not 100% sure. Will I become a pescatarian? I'm not sure. Will I take it another step and become a vegetarian? No. I couldn't, at least at this point, cut out both meat and seafood from my diet. I think though, what is more realistic and what I would like to do, is to reintroduce meat back into my diet but in a way that I feel better about - I would like to become an ethical meat eater. Again, some people will turn their noses up at this phrase, "ethical meat eater" and that's okay. You have to do what's right and okay for you.

Alright, so now that you know a bit of where I'm coming from and the why and some of my general thoughts, here's how my first week has been.

+ After being a meat eater my entire life, and basically eating it nearly every day, I find myself wanting something meat-y as a part of my meals. Being able to still eat fish and seafood has made this first week not as hard as I thought it would be. I still get the feeling of eating meat but I'm not. So perhaps it's finding other types of substitutes like that that will help me to not feel deprived for the rest of the month.

+ Sometimes when I'm eating, or usually it happens after I eat or at random times of the day when I'm not eating, I get this overwhelming out of the blue feeling that "oh my goodness, I'm eating meat," or "oh my goodness, I think I ate meat at that last meal." It's a feeling that will come out of nowhere and for a split second I'll feel disappointed that I didn't last for the entire month. Then I'll take a step back, mentally go through what I ate, and relax because I didn't eat meat. The entire process maybe takes 5-10 seconds. I guess that feeling comes because I'm so used to eating meat with most meals.

+ Instead of meat, beans has proven to be a suitable substitute in that I still get the feeling that I'm eating something substantial. At work this week, on burrito day, I filled my burrito with rice, beans, sour cream, some guacamole, shredded cheese, and it was delicious - I didn't miss not having chicken or beef at all! Who woulda thunk it?

+ I've been craving sweets a lot this week. Specifically Blizzard's. I don't know if that has anything to do with cutting meat out of my diet but I don't usually crave sweets; I'm more of a salty person. So that's interesting.

+ I haven't had as much meat cravings as I thought I would. There was one situation in the lunchroom at work when they were putting out chicken souvlaki and I thought, "that smells soooo good, I need to get out of here before I cave." And that's exactly what I did. I went back to my desk and went for lunch later in the day when the enticing smell had faded.

+ I've been super tired this week but then again I've been working extra long days so I don't think it has anything to do with not eating meat. But it's still something I thought I'd note. I'll see how I feel next week when my work hours should be more regular.

*shrimp and avocado salad with miso dressing

Living Big in a Small (Rental) Space.

3/04/2014

(3 comments)

Alright, so I mentioned here that I wanted to start a new series with some tips on living in a small-ish space. Well, I'm officially calling the series Living Big in a Small (Rental) Space - fun, right? And like I said, it's not necessarily going to be earth shattering, life changing tips...but perhaps there'll occasionally be something new to you - something that makes a little lightbulb go off..like "why didn't I think of that???" or that makes you look at something differently? And, of course, some of these tips could also be useful to those of you in large spaces...who own your own home. Living Big in a Small (Rental) Space is really just a catchy title - so don't take it too literally, okay? Okay.

So let's get on with it.


Tip #1

As I was washing my dishes a few nights ago this first tip actually struck me out of the blue and I thought it would be a good one to start the series with. As I was washing my dishes, thinking about the errands I wanted to run later in the day, it struck me, yet again, how much I enjoy the location of where I live. Of how convenient it is. Which got me to thinking about all of the other things I love about my little apartment that actually don't really have anything to do with the apartment itself.

Let me give you some examples. Within a 5-10ish minute radius is: a Walmart, Winners, Home Depot, bookstore, a handful of major grocery stores, HomeSense, movie theatre, pet food stores (important for Howard), a major shopping mall, fast food places, restaurants, small floral shops...within 10 minutes I can be on one of two of the cities major highways. Although I have a car, public transportation is literally steps away from my doorstep. My building is in an established neighbourhood that is pretty quiet and my favourite dog park in the entire city is less than 5 minutes away. Some things I love about my building: I have my own parking spot, there's laundry on-site, there's a large tree (was before the ice storm) outside my window that I adore...

None of these things above have anything to do with the apartment itself, but they really truly make the experience of living in my little apartment much more pleasurable...and convenient. So it makes me think, if you live in a small space and on top of that don't enjoy the area you live in and find it inconvenient...it's really not going to help in how you feel about your home. But, if you live in a neighbourhood you enjoy, or that has amenities that makes life that much simpler for you, then living in a small space really feels like a small price to pay. So I'd say, before moving to your next home, make a list of the things you're looking for. My list was comprised of two categories: Must Have (lots of natural light, small building, dog friendly, parking space, laundry on-site, convenient location, on budget...) and Nice To Have (a second bedroom, a white bathroom, hardwood floors, top floor...). When I found my little apartment and it met nearly every requirement on my must have and nice to have lists - I knew sacrificing a bit of space would be an easy compromise.

So I guess my tip is to really think about your neighbourhood and the amenities of where you choose to live and not just the apartment size itself. Because sometimes size is not as important as you'd think it is.

Sometimes.

(I know size is relative so I'm going to take some measurements, I always misplace them when I take them, but I think my little apartment is about 750 square feet? I personally don't think it's "small" - it's more than enough space for Howard and I - but I realize to many 750 is small. I used to live in a space that was smaller and have seen condos that are smaller and house tours of apartments that are much smaller...but I know it's not huge.)

top image / bottom image

Going vertical.

3/03/2014

(1 comments)

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Maybe I should just rename this blog My Obsession with Plants because clearly, I have a problem. Three of my past five posts have been about plants and I spend a ridiculous amount of time, time which I don't have to spare, looking up pics of plants on Pinterest and Instagram. Like I said, I blame it on this brutal winter we're having here in Toronto this year. Just this week on the radio I heard them say it's been the coldest winter in the past 20 years. TWENTY years. And my very dry cracked lips are proof of that. I'm trying to keep them moisturized but then I lose my lip balm...or I dunno. It's just not a pretty situation over here folks.

Anyways, back to plants. Bringing them into my little apartment is like my way of rebelling at what's going on outside. It's like me saying, "Oh? You're gonna be -32c outside tomorrow? Really? Well...I'm gonna buy a fu&#ing plant! Yes, a plant! And I'm gonna start looking at outdoor furniture and planning my balcony too! I don't care if it's -32c. How you like me now?!?!"

And it's with that I don't care attitude I've decided that I am going to create a vertical garden/living wall on my little balcony. Those examples above? Gorgeous. In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die. (For the record, I never watched that show she had). I've found a few products specifically made for these looks, like Woolly Pockets or this wall blanket by Jamie Durie (and I'm sure there are many others) but those are a little out of my budget. So I've also found a few diy tutorials, like this take or this one on the felt pocket planters, and this one made from a shipping pallet, that looks pretty neat too.

Stay tuned. Because as soon as the weather doesn't dip below freezing overnight, I'm all over this.

+It looks like around this time last year I was also talking about plants - forgot about that post!

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