Category Archives: Personal

On Fear

Heather Baldy Pass

You know those ubiquitous Lululemon bags? I’m sure you’ve seen them – they’re full of motivational sayings and tidbits on what you should do to stay in good shape both physically and mentally. The phrase “do one thing every day that scares you” has always stood out to me from that sea of uplifting messages. I think it’s because at first it’s easy to dismiss this idea as a crazy one. Why would I want to do something that makes me feel afraid and uncomfortable? That certainly doesn’t sound like it would be good for my well-being.

And yet, when I ponder it again, I realize that some of the most amazing things I’ve done in my life have scared the crap out of me. I remember crying on the phone to Zevi as I waited in the Toronto airport for my flight to Iceland eight years ago, terrified that I would spend six weeks feeling incredibly homesick. I wiped my tears away and got on that plane, and had a completely life-changing and heart-expanding experience. I could barely breathe as I got on the phone with Craig Norris to guest host on CBC Radio 3, and came away feeling an even stronger connection to an amazing community. A very tiny part of my subconscious hoped that something would happen to derail our trip to South America so that I wouldn’t have to face the terrifying decision to quit my job and come back to uncertainty, but those three months enriched my life and my relationship with Zevi in a way that makes them impossible to regret.

Fear doesn’t just rear it’s head when it comes time to take a huge leap. It’s there every day – that little voice that says that maybe I shouldn’t put myself out there or try something new. It’s that little voice that tells me that it would be easier to just stay home, to stay within the confines of my comfort zone. I find myself pushing past that voice all the time, and I know I’m so much better for it.

When I feel that clutching in my heart that whispers at me to hold back, I give it a nod and a smile, because I know that it means that I’m doing something right. I’m doing something that will expand my horizons and ultimately leaving me feeling alive. Fear is a tough adversary, and it’s beaten me on more than one occasion, but if history is any indication it’s is also a good friend.

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On Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping

There aren’t many chores I’m wild about, but grocery shopping is one that I actually look forward to every week. For the past few years I’ve done the vast majority of the grocery shopping for Zevi and me, and it’s one of those errands I never feel like passing off.

I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising, based on my love for anything and everything food related, that grocery shopping isn’t something I dread, but it occurred to me today that most people don’t get much joy from walking up and down the aisles of their neighbourhood supermarket. I don’t mind driving from one store to another to find what I want, or going to specialty stores to get the obscure ingredients I need. I love browsing for the week’s essentials at off peak times when it’s quiet and I have lots of room to explore. I like to go by myself, so that I can walk slowly and haphazardly around as I try to find what I need. I try to stick to a list, but one or two random finds usually end up sneaking in to my cart.

I honestly don’t get all that much pleasure out of browsing for clothes or accessories, but I could walk around The Cookbook Co. Cooks, or Silk Road Spices, or any Asian grocery store for a long time, just and seeing what kind of interesting things are available. I love to window shop at farmers markets and check out the unique stuff that each vendor has on offer. Being in those places inspires me to try new things when I’m cooking, and to think outside the flavour box. Screw designer jeans, I’m all about high end olive oils and fancy finishing salt.

When I travel, I love to walk around grocery stores and see the things that are available that would be hard to find at home. In South America, I would linger in the aisles, looking over the strange products that I’d never seen before. I love to learn about a culture through food, and supermarkets are my version of a museum.

Do you like shopping for food, or do you dread it? Does anyone want to hire me to be their personal grocery shopper ;)?

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Currently

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Reading: Since I don’t have a job right now and I’m trying to limit my spending, I recently got a library card for the first time in many years. The Calgary Public Library removed the fee to get a library card a short time ago, which makes borrowing even cheaper! I recently read Delicious and Silver Linings Playbook, both of which I really enjoyed, and I’m now reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. Unfortunately, I’m not as interested in it as I wish I was, but it’s starting to grow on me. I recently joined a book club with some friends and I’m excited to go to the first meeting this week, but the book we’re reading just became available to me at the library so I’m going to have to do some speed-reading!

Watching: Even though I know that there are so many great shows I should be catching up on, I spent the last two months watching all ten seasons of Friends. Friends is probably my favourite show of all time, and even though I’d seen almost all of the episodes before, I was pretty sad when I reached the end of the series! It’s just such a classic show with so many hilarious moments, and I love all of the characters for different reasons. I haven’t just been watching reruns, though. I caught up on the first two seasons of House of Cards so that Zevi and I could watch season three (we’re a few episodes in so no spoilers!), and Zevi and I finished the third and final season of Newsroom. I loved seasons one and two of the show but with season three being only six episodes long it almost felt like they tried to do too much in too little time. I still think the series is well worth watching though.

Listening: Julia played a newer song by Timber Timbre called Hot Dreams for me as we drove out to the cabin, and I was instantly obsessed! I can’t get enough of that sultry sax, and I’ll probably be listening to this track over and over again until I’m completely sick of it.

Wishing: That Zevi could have come to the cabin with us this weekend. As great as it’s been to be out here, it’s just not the same without him! I know that there will be lots of moments that I won’t be able to share with him because of the nature of his work schedule, and it’s just something I’ll have to get used to. On the plus side, it makes me extra thankful for the days we do have together.

Eating: We made a ham for Easter dinner last night and it turned out so well! I think I’ve eaten it for every meal since. If being addicted to cured meat is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Loving: I’ve really been enjoying running lately! I’ve gone for three runs while I’ve been out here and they’ve all felt great. I did a hill workout yesterday for the first time in forever, and it felt awesome to make it through something really challenging. I’m kind of intimidated by the pace I need to run to meet my goal of sub-two hours for the Calgary Half Marathon, but I think that if I work hard I can put myself in a position to achieve it.

This post was inspired by Danielle of Sometimes Sweet.

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A Good Friday at the Lake

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Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a good Friday (har har) and enjoying a well deserved day off work. Long weekends really are the best.

I’m up at my family’s cabin in the Shuswap for Easter and feeling pretty lucky to be in this little slice of paradise.  Summer is my favourite time to be out at the lake, of course, but I really love coming here in the shoulder seasons as well. The pace is a little slower, and there’s lots of time for reading and running and playing the piano and all of those other relaxing activities that tend to get squeezed out when I’m at home. There’s no rush to get dinner on the table, so we can take our time in the kitchen and make lots of amazing meals. I’m pretty sad that Zevi’s stuck at work and not able to be here, but the fact that we get to have a ham for Easter dinner makes his absence the tiniest bit easier to take ;).

No matter what time of year it is, I always feel my shoulders drop and my chest loosen when I get to our lake house. I’m looking forward to more relaxing family time this weekend, with a little bit of cabin maintenance thrown in to help us earn our afternoon beers. I hope that whatever you’re up to this long weekend helps you feel renewed and ready to dive headfirst in to the spring and summer days to come!

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Spring Sunshine

spring sunshine

As the days turn warmer, you can almost hear the city breathing a collective sigh of relief. Even though our winter this year wasn’t all that harsh, there were still enough days where we had to bundle up in huge puffy coats and mitts and hats and scarves to make us long for the season to change. In winter we hurry from one place to another, clutching our hoods tightly around our faces to block out the cold winds and barely slowing down for a glance at the person passing us on the sidewalk. We forgo nights out with friends in favour of staying warm and cozy on the couch in the comfort of our homes. The long hours of cold and darkness bring out the hermit in most of us.

As much as I love to get out to the mountains to ski and snowshoe, I’m never sad when I see winter coming to an end. Spring brings the promise of so many good things. As the sun gets stronger, I start to feel that the days of music festivals, boat rides, camping trips, and backyard barbecues with friends are not so far off. I can almost taste that cold Corona with a little hint of lime and feel the warm grass on the soles of my bare feet. I can imagine that feeling of complete freedom as I plunge into the chilly lake water for my first swim of the season and then let the sun coax every drop of water off of my browning back. I can feel my shoulders relax as my body begins to realize that it no longer needs to steel itself against the biting chill.

Spring sunshine doesn’t pack the same punch as its summer counterpart. Instead, it gently whispers of things to come. As the first buds start to appear on our leafless trees and the first flowers poke their heads out, I feel so much excitement for the upcoming season. I’ve always been a lake-swimming, sandal-sporting summer girl, and this late March sunshine on my shoulders lets me know that my favourite season isn’t too far away.

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Saying Yes

Buenos Aires

I’ve always been a cautious person who doesn’t really like to take unnecessary risks. Sure, I’ll try weird foods and go travelling to foreign countries, but in general, my default setting is to stay within my comfort zone. I like routine, and change always takes me a while to adjust to. I like to plan ahead, and I’m not very good at being spontaneous. Because of these things, I sometimes avoid exploring new opportunities because I’m not very comfortable with improvising my way through the unknown.

One thing I realized on our South America trip is that I don’t always want to be the “no person”. I don’t want to be the person that shoots an idea down just because it seems crazy or unrealistic, or because it’s something I’m not necessarily comfortable with. Being a realist and thinking carefully through your options is great a lot of the time, but sometimes you just need to jump in with your eyes closed and see what happens. There may be repercussions, but most of the time you come away with an experience worth talking about. You might be a little tired the next day, or get a little dirty, or get your truck horribly stuck in a muddy salt flat, but every time you push yourself beyond your comfort zone you grow in a way that you wouldn’t have if you just stayed home.

I’ve been trying to say yes more often, and get involved in things I might have otherwise passed by. While I still want to make sure I’m respecting my limits and taking care of myself, I know that my life will be richer if I continue to take risks and put myself out there in big and small ways. After all, the worst outcomes still make for great stories.

Celebrating My Grandma

Grandma's 91st birthday

This week we’ve been celebrating my Grandma’s birthday. This picture is actually from last year, but she’s now officially 92 years young. She’s a St. Patrick’s day baby, so on Tuesday I made homemade macaroni and cheese and salad at my parents’ house and my sister made a delicious cake and we celebrated. I’d take hanging out with my Grandma over drinking green beer any day! Today we had another celebration with even more members of my Dad’s large extended family. When you’ve lived more than nine decades, every birthday deserves some extra fanfare.

My Grandma didn’t go to high school, but she’s taught me so much about life. When my Grandpa had a stroke, losing the ability to speak and walk, my Grandma showed incredible dedication to him, visiting him many times a week for the eight years that he lived in a nursing home. She doesn’t drive, so she had to take the bus there or rely on rides from her family members, but I never heard her complain. She showers her family with love, and her children have passed down that love to their children, and, in some cases, even their children’s children. Through good times and bad, she remains that calming, positive, and supportive voice, always wanting to know what’s going on in our lives. Even if she may not have chosen our path for herself, she’s always excited to hear about what we’re up to, as long as we promise her to be careful, of course.

It really moved me to see my Grandma stand among some of her family and tell us all how proud she is of us. Without her, none of us would have been standing in that kitchen in a circle holding hands. She brought us all together, and I wouldn’t exist were it not for one of the children she brought into the world. She may not have travelled the world or pursued any kind of higher education, but on her 92nd birthday, I don’t know that anything meant more to her than being surrounded by her family. I’m grateful to her for showing me the power of unconditional love, and helping me to remember that sometimes it’s the little things in life that are most important. I’d like to think that I inherited just a little bit of her soft spoken kindness, and I hope that small part of her lives on in me forever.

2014 in Review

Gray GlacierChile camping  Easter Island cemetary Zevi road trip Machu Picchu Cartagena after the rain 2014 is in the rear view mirror. What a year. I think it’s pretty obvious that this will be remembered as the year I quit my job and left on a three month trip to South America. You don’t do that every year, as much as I’d love to, and it’s not something we’ll be doing again any time soon. I feel so grateful that we were able to make it work. Although it’s something that I’d thought about and wanted to do for a long time, I always had my doubts that it would actually happen. There were a lot of factors that had to come together for us to be able to leave for that long, and it still seems amazing to me that we pulled it off. Mexico Cherniawsky's at Sea Cider Erin and Nai in Drumheller Calgary skyline

Snowshoeing with Kyle and NaiThe other nine months of the year may have been overshadowed by the main event, but they were certainly no slouch. We travelled to Mexico, Sasquatch music festival, Panorama, the Shuswap, and Victoria twice. We saw a couple of our best friends get married and celebrated the elopement of two more of our closest pals. We went on our annual Drumheller camping trip, and enjoyed great music and good vibes at Calgary Folk Fest. Family selfieFolk fest selfieBachelorette selfieSasquatch selfie I ran my fifth half marathon, but didn’t get the result I wanted so I’ll be back for redemption this year. I got to spend a ton of time with my sister over the summer, which was so much fun. I ate at countless new restaurants, revisited old favourites, and went to some iteration of my very favourite, Anju, four times in three weeks. I learned that choosing compassion is never wrong, even in moments of confusion and hurt. Many selfies were taken along the way. We won’t be doing much jetsetting in 2015, but I’m excited to see what adventures we find closer to home this year. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of selfies.

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A family dinner

The spread

One of the things that brings me the most joy in life is sharing a meal with others. Food is one of my greatest passions, and, to me, there is nothing like sitting down at a table with family or some good friends and revelling in the shared glory of a delicious bite. I love going out and trying new restaurants and discovering hidden gems in the Calgary food scene and beyond, but I get the most satisfaction out of having people around our table in our little house and serving food that we have made. It’s a lot of work to make a meal for a big group, but the effort is worth it when it comes time to enjoy it.

Appies are always necessary

Appies are always necessary

This past Sunday we had my family over for an easter/passover/togetherness celebration. My sister has just arrived back in town for the summer after finishing her semester in Victoria and my brother is also back at home after having worked at Revelstoke for the summer. It was a lot of fun to have all five of us (plus Zevi) laughing and chatting and enjoying each other’s company. There was even a singalong to Tiny Dancer with me on piano thrown in there for good measure.

The fam jam

The fam jam

Back to the food. I feel very lucky to be married to someone who enjoys cooking and eating. I won’t say that he loves it as much as I do, because my love for food borders on obsession (most of my reading material consists of food blogs, cookbooks and Bon Appetit magazine), but it is a passion that we can share, and for that I am very grateful. We worked together to prepare the meal we served on Sunday, and being able to share the work with him not only lightens the load immeasurably, but it also strengthens our bond. I think we make a pretty darn good team!

We started the meal with a traditional matzo ball soup. This is something that I first had made for me by Zevi’s grandmother, so it was really special to make it ourselves for the first time. There was a lot of time spent waiting while the broth bubbled and simmered, but that patience was well worth it, as we were rewarded with a subtly flavoured soup that was so much better than anything you can find in a can or a carton. Our matzo balls were fluffy and tender, and I would call it a pretty great showing for rookie chicken soup makers. I think Baba would be proud.

The soup

The soup in process. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of the finished product.

The main course was brisket with crispy smashed potatoes and a simple salad. We made a home made bbq sauce for the brisket that really stole the show. If you haven’t made these smashed potatoes, I’m telling you, you need to drop everything and do it NOW! Crunchy on the outside and silky smooth on the inside, they’re everything you could ever want in a potato. I’ll be hard pressed to make them any other way now! Zevi made a spicy mayo with Franks hot sauce, chili powder, and garlic powder that was the perfect counterpoint to the salty starch nuggets.

Smashed potatoes ready for the oven

Smashed potatoes ready for the oven

Every time I have people over for a meal I am reminded of how rewarding it is to spend time preparing something for someone and then watching them enjoy the fruits of your labour (and enjoying it with them, of course). There are always lots groceries to buy and veggies to chop and dishes to do, but, in my mind, knowing that you did that work and seeing it all come to life makes it all the more worth it.

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Adios, 2013

Some of my favourite photos of 2013 – one for each month of the year.

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2013 treated me pretty well, but I think 2014 will be even better!

Here’s to a great year, a year that will (hopefully) include a lot more blogging.

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