The Daily EO: May 23rd, 2012

We get alot of free newspapers and magazines in Huntsville.  And the latest one is something called “What’s Up Muskoka!”  It is not a hard-hitting newspaper, but it does have editorials and serious stories but mostly is a human interest and event communication medium.  It is delivered through the mail and I picked up our copy today.  This was the picture on the front page (which almost took up the entire sheet):

 The story inside the was concerning as it dealt with the problem of poverty amongst seniors in Muskoka.  It is challenging to meet all of your expenses if you are wholly dependent upon your government pension.   I don’t disagree at all.  Both of my grandparents are secure in their retirement and have pensions from their former employers to see them through.  Our parents also are planning for retirement – saving, and counting on other income beyond Canada Pension.

Not all are as lucky.  And as the article told me, it is estimated that over 1000 senior women live below the poverty line in Muskoka.  A serious issue, considering expenses facing seniors and lack of income options.  Affordable housing is a major problem across Canada – compounded for seniors.   It certainly made me aware of the situation – but this is not what really struck me about this article.

And this has inspired me to write an open letter to my mother and my mother-in-law:

Dear Mom and Toni,

You are loved very much.  And Emile and I will make sure both of you are secure and safe in your old age.  (no, not now, in your OLD age, keep it together for now).  However, if either of you have a full-sized picture published of yourself holding your head in your hands with a quote “I do not depend on my children . . . so as not to strain their resources”, I will leave my brother Todd in charge of your retirement planning.  And you know what that means – you’ll be sharing a single room, eating saltines with past date canned oysters every day while collecting his daily returnable can quota.  So, please let me know there is a problem with your budget before you contact the local media.  We’ll figure out something out no matter what and maybe do the story as a family to highlight the issues.

Yours Sincerely,

Your Favorite Daughter and Favorite Daughter-in-Law, Susan

May 23, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:   Can you imagine opening the newspaper and seeing your despairing mother splashed across the front?  (If you want to see the article, click here.)

Maintenance May Day 23:
Sent a note to What’s Up Muskoka asking how I could help this lady.  (connection)


The Daily EO: May 22nd, 2012

There are some days that I amaze myself!  But this can have unintended consequences.

I made a Barbeque Chicken Caesar Salad for dinner tonight.  It was one of the best caesars I have ever made.  The dressing was creamy, rich, garlicy and lemony, the croutons crunchy and delicious and the chicken tender and sweet..   The whole plate – and that was 2-3 cups of greens and a chicken breast each – was under 400 calories – with only 12 grams of fat, 9 grams of fibre and 40 grams of protein.  And how did I accomplish this miraculous feat?  The romaine was bumped by spinach (more iron my starving red blood cells), the croutons replaced by roasted chickpeas and the dressing base was soft silken tofu.   Yes!  Can you believe it?  I replaced the egg and the usual 1/2 cup or so of olive oil with TOFU!  That is crazy, crazy stuff, people!

And because I don’t want my inbox flooded with requests for the recipe, here you go:

Delicious and Healthy Caesar Dressing (unless you are allergic to soy, then delicious but not healthy)
1 cup soft silken tofu
2 cloves of garlic (or more because garlic is good!)
2 tbsp of Dijon or other spicy mustard
1 tsp olive oil (just a touch for consistency’s sake)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (vegetarian if you swing that way)
2 oz of grated/shredded parmesan cheese, I used the Kraft stuff, but you could use the good stuff or not (you could replace this with nutritional yeast flakes I suppose if you were a vegan, but it will lose that sharp and sour parmesan taste, but if you’re a vegan, you already gave that up ages ago)
1.5 tsp of wine vinegar (I used red because that is what I had)
salt and pepper
2-4 tbsp of lemon juice (I used the lemon juice to adjust the thickness to my liking)

Blend all the ingredients except lemon juice in food processor until smooth.  Then add enough lemon juice to taste.  You can also add more olive oil if gets lemony enough without thinning to your liking.  I found I only used 1/3 of this batch to coat about 5 cups of spinach and the chickpeas, so toss to your liking and the rest can be saved for another day.

Here is a link to the chickpea roasting method.  I took the time to remove all the chickpea skins (warning – only undertake if you need some quiet contemplation time, and you like chickpea-y fingers) .  I’ve done it both ways (skin and skinless), and I don’t think it really makes that big of a difference.  But I had some time today. Please note, you want to roast them until they are crisp, so they stay crisp in the salad.  As I was making a caesar, I used garlic, olive oil and italian seasoning as my spices of choice.  I still want to try a salt and vinegar version one day.

So, cook your chicken in some barbeque sauce and pour over your tossed salad while still warm, that is the best!  It wilts the top spinach pieces a bit (which incidentally helps our body digest iron from spinach more readily).

I know!  I know!  It is amazing that I am not cooking for a living!  Thank you for noticing.

Unintended side effect of healthy dinner:  The next day Emile weighted in at 160.2 lbs.  Although I still weigh less than him, the possibility of his number beginning with a “1-5” is disconcerting to me.  I am going to start sneaking in calories into every meal I make for him.  “Here’s your turkey sandwich, dear, enjoy that low-fat mayo I put on it.  It looks weird because it is low-fat, not because it is coconut oil.”  I want him healthy, but I don’t want him lighter than me.  Damn men and their metabolisms.

May 22, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:   Soft Silken Tofu, Hello!

Maintenance May Day 22:
Feeling no guilt at all for missing my friend Lisa’s birthday on May 21st.  It’s our “thing” afterall.  I might wish her a good day come June.  (soul, friendship)
Baking two batches of vegan brownies and not eating a single brownie.  (body)  Let’s not talk about the chocolate chip sampling.
Not killing the cat when he stepped in white paint I left out and walked all around the house (carpeted stairs and all).  (Kindness to animals)
Phone interview with company.  (career)

The Daily EO: May 20th, 2012

I had one of those bad dreams this morning that jolt you out of sleep, taking you a couple of minutes to determine whether it actually happened.  I have weird dreams sometimes, but I occasionally have bad dreams in the early morning hours.  These bad dreams – while somewhat bizarre – seem to be based on real life with a twist.  And that is why they linger with me after I am up – and I usually cannot get back to sleep afterwards.

In today’s dream, I was married to Emile and for some reason travelling with only my in-laws.  I lived in Toronto, and had “re-joined” the ranks of the business people.  I had my wedding rings on (the ones I have in real life) and I entered my alumni gathering place with my father-in-law.  Now for some reason, this alumni gathering place was a restaurant, conference center and water park all in one.  Bizarre –  but doesn’t break the laws of physics or anything.  I ran into an ex-boyfriend at this meeting place who was upset to find out I had married.  I guess I should have pined away for him or something.   You broke up with me, buddy!  Although, as I recall, he got pretty upset when I started dating someone else later.

Anyways, he began a tirade that hit every fear, worry, concern, insecurity and embarrassment that I have ever had.  And remember, this was a dream I was making up, so my ex-boyfriend really DID know all that stuff.  In real life, I don’t think he ever was that astute.

It awoke me abruptly at 7:00 am with no chance of going back to sleep leaving a melancholy ponderance that lasted all morning.

May 20th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:   My brain turning against me in the wee hours of the morning, and then trying to blame it on my ex-boyfriend.

Maintenance May Day 20:
Cooked Vegan Rice Crispie Squares and Vegan Fresh Spring Rolls with a friend to determine catering viability. (career?/friendship)
Heart-to-heart with my mother who refused to tell me what I should do – telling me only to do what my heart said.  (career/family)

The Daily EO: May 19th, 2012

This is my 100th post – I can’t believe it!

What has happened to the farmer’s markets in Muskoka?  Farmer’s Market.  This implies that either a farmer owns the market, or it is a market for farmers’ items.  And a market that one would go to get items that FARMERS sell.  I made the mistake of getting caught up in the romance of a farmer’s market again this year and attended Bracebridge’s Farmer’s Market this long weekend.

Do I want gluten-free baked goods (3 booths!)?  How about buckwheat heating pads?  Or perhaps to have my face painted?  No.  What about wooden crafts?  Aprons and other items made with colourful fabrics?  No, No, NO!  I was Ontario Fresh Asparagus.  I want organic spinach.  I wanted rhubarb!  (well, no, I didn’t, but I wanted to see it being sold).  And maybe even some early cherries or strawberries?  Okay – I’ll buy a pie or cookies from a farmer, but please people!  This is not a craft show.  It is a FARMER’S market.  Things that grow – or things that eat things that grow.  Please leave your “I’ve-already-seen-it-1000-times” stuff at home.  Or haul it to the craft shows.  Or rename this Farmer’s Market to Craft Market.

There were two vendors selling vegetables at the farmers market (out of 30+ booths).  One was a real farm that was selling seedlings and rhubarb.  Good work, guys!  I can’t garden (really – I can’t – I kill plants with my aura) and I don’t like rhubarb much.  No matter, I was proud to see this local farm selling obviously farm grown items.  The other is an outfit that has duped tourists for years.  What was the first hint today?  It was the 15″ long celery for sale.  Celery is available in Ontario in July and home-grown celery does not look like what you buy in the grocery store.  It is May!  Ontario Farm grown celery is normally shorter and with more leafy greens than the standard from the supermarket.  Anderson Produce – you know I’m talking to you!  Please stop selling vegetables at the farmer’s market – at premium prices I must add – that you know and I know you purchased from the food terminal in Toronto.  Yes, the tourists from Toronto don’t know any better, but the locals know your game.

There were a couple of places selling meat and fish.  I wasn’t particularly looking for either, but glad to see a couple of places selling such items.  One was trout from Milford Bay.  Considering my aversion to anything fishy, I didn’t even linger, but good and local!

The smart farmers have given up these wastes of time markets and instead started selling CSA shares.  That’s when you purchase a part of the farm’s bounty at the beginning of the season and you share in what is produced.  I’d suggest you’d better get a share because the farmer’s markets doesn’t seem much of source of any local food!

May 19th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Beginning of this season’s boycott of the Muskoka farmer’s markets.  Thank goodness I have another source for farm fresh asparagus – even if I have to import it from Tilsonberg!

Maintenance May Day 19:
Found away to discuss our future options with Emile in way that we could both hear each other. (career, connection, soul)

The Daily EO: May 18th, 2012

Somewhere along the line, man discovered that if your feet are warm, you feel warm.  You feel cozy, positive, happy and know that all is right with the world.  I’ve been known to put dry towels in the dryer and then wrap my feet in them.  And putting on a thick pair of socks on late summer day after a day of swimming and flip-flops (I’ve changed my vernacular – I say flip-flops now instead of thongs like we always called them in British Columbia.  Sad really that everyone now things I am speaking of underwear) is pure bliss.

In the modern era, some genius contractor invented radiant heated floors.  If you have not experienced heated floors, then you must.  You Must.  Bare foot or in socks, its like a hug from the floor to your feet.  Like a little kiss on each toe (if you go in for that sort of thing).

Today I was at my friend’s birthday party where great amounts of calories and alcohol was available for consumption.  I had heathy choices – yes, and I even prepared by bring diet mix to have with vodka instead of drinking wine or other items.  Yes, certainly I was going to partake in cake – I made it after all – and the steak, but I had gone for a run, I had some calories.  Plus, what’s the point of living until you’re 110 if you don’t binge on things along the way.

Later in the evening, my kidneys had done an admirable job of converting the consumed beverages into waste and I needed to use the bathroom.  I wandered in and was quickly reminded by my feet that my friend’s have a heated floor in their bathroom.   While I peed, I considered the following thought: If my feet felt so good on this floor, imagine what it would feel like on my back.  Now, consider the bathroom was right off the dining room.  I simply open the door, lay on the floor, and be warmed by the radiant heat while still participating in the conversation.  This is a flawless plan!

And so I did just that.  Social graces inhibited and therefore I could enjoy it in all its splendor.  I’m telling you, good conversation with warmth through your back, very good.  Glorious.

May 18th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  The best idea I have ever had – execution equalled anticipation.

Maintenance May Day 18:
Baked a Gluten-Free Black Forest Cake for my friend’s birthday.  (connection)

The Daily EO: May 17th, 2012

I was asked today to help a friend create vegan cocktail snacks for her catering job next weekend.  Just 10 people.  She has the harder part – to make regular food for 90 people.  So, sure no problem.  Last weekend I had to make a Vegan cake for my meat-eating vegan nephew who is allergic to dairy and eggs.  We have to consider his allergies for all meals there. For a month in January, I made vegan meals all the time for us.  I try to continuely incorporate other proteins than meat into our diet.  But does that make me a Vegan Expert?  No, but I suppose around here, it’s pretty good darn.  And I work for cheap.

May 17th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Recognition for my “expertise” in veganism.

Maintenance May Day 17:
Purchased 3 lottery tickets from the Lions Club at The Independent.  (soul)
Tried a rock climbing wall for the first time – despite my general nervousness of heights and looking like a fool.  (body)

The Daily EO: May 16th, 2012

I loved the show “The West Wing”, but somewhere around the 3rd or 4th season stopped watching for some reason.  After I read “Stories I only tell my friends” by Rob Lowe (enjoyable book by the way), it reminded me about The West Wing and never did see the end of it. So, I decided, it was time start again add watch CJ, Josh, Sam, Toby, Leo, Charlie and POTUS do their fast-talking-while-fast-walking routines.  I have to start at the beginning so I remember what happened.  After all, the show started, well, it must have been at least 5 years ago.

According to IMBD, it was 1999. Wait, is that right?  1999?  How could that be?  It was only a couple of years ago – not 13.

What is happening to me?  If I find a book that published in 2003, for example, I still think it is quite recent – god help me if it is about the internet or cell phones or something.  I still think I graduated from high school relatively recently – forgetting that I missed my 20th high school reunion a while ago.  And somehow it is already May 16th – my brain didn’t notice my fingers typing one digit higher each day in this blog.

It’s a strange thing, time.  Our brains seem incapable to of keeping accurate track of it – it’s always speeding up or slowing down.  Things that happened 10 years ago seem at recent as things that happened 5 years ago.  And if I go home to my childhood house, the past seems even closer yet.

May 16th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  Enjoying the reruns of The West Wing because it was a good show (who doesn’t want Jed Bartlet running the country?) even if I can’t remember when it was on TV.

Maintenance May Day 16:
Volunteered for Saturday registration at Spin The Lakes Bike Race. (soul, thankfully not body)