Are You Afraid of…the Silence?

One of the most powerful healing things you can do for yourself is to surround yourself, if even for just a few minutes a day, with silence. In a world consumed with quick, costly “fixes,” there’s something we can all so easily find and benefit from (physically, emotionally, psychologically), it’s free, and yet many of us are…afraid of it!

I used to be one of those people who feared silence. I woke up in the morning, and immediately turned on my television. When I got home from work, the first thing I did was turn on my television. It’s not that I actually watched anything a lot of the time, it was just comforting to have some form of noise in the background. Writing this, I can’t believe that there was a point in time (and a long point in time) in which I actually wanted noise.

I can’t attribute my silence appreciation to one particular thing. I did get rid of my cable, but before that, I began meditating, and learning about the Tao. Silence (or attempting to achieve it) can be, at first, a bit overwhelming. And by silence, I don’t just mean a silent room or space, although that’s a wonderful start. I’m talking silencing your mind, controlling your thoughts so that they focus on just one thing at a time. As you might imagine, that can be extremely difficult. I must say though, the more you meditate and enjoy periods of silence, the easier it will become.


I didn’t just jump right into silence, but instead used guided meditations which very quickly helped me to see the benefits of calming my mind, floating into the silence, not worrying or thinking about the past or the future…living and breathing in the now.  It’s a mental renewal every day, and the benefits are evident on a daily basis…patience, less stress, less fear, confidence in tackling everyday problems, better sleep, more energy, positive outlook, and the list goes on. So often, we let everything accumulate in our minds…problems from months ago that may have already been fixed, but for whatever reason, still rent space in our brains. Enjoying silence through meditation helps you to let go, to leave the past in the past, and live in the present, to slow down, to treat yourself to relaxation and rejuvenation.

Silence and meditation allow you to be alone with your thoughts, but in a good way, a productive way. So often our days are spent worrying about our problems, wondering how on earth we’re going to get everything done that “needs” to be done, stressing about the past, present and future, mentally preparing our every move, always trying to be one step ahead, but rarely enjoying where we’re currently standing. Before we know it, yet another day, week, month and year have “flown” by. But why have they flown by? Because we didn’t take the time for ourselves, to be alone with our thoughts, not the superficial “To Do List” thoughts, but deep thoughts, the kind that cause our spirit to reawaken and find its purpose. We didn’t take the time to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Silence truly is golden. It can slow down the hands of time. It can benefit your well-being in ways you never would have thought. It can heal you. Silence can be your own personal therapist…if you’ll let it.

~Carolyn

A Simple “Thank You”

It’s no secret, at least in my world, that I haven’t been terribly happy in my job for a while.  It’s not really the job itself or the people who I work closely with, but more the company I work for.  I’m not much of a ranter anymore and aside from my cell phone post, I don’t do a lot of ranting on here.  But, this is a rant with a happy ending so here it goes.

Like most companies, a few years ago when the recession hit, it hit hard and the company I work at starting laying people off.  I was one of the lucky ones who remained.  Although I was grateful to still have a job, that job now demanded more out of me and everyone else left.  When I was first hired at the company six years ago, there were six people in our division; then, there were two.  You do the math.  The final person in our division to be laid off was the accounting girl – those duties were then placed (read: thrown) in my lap.  Let me stop here to let you know that I have ab-so-lute-ly no accounting background.  So on top of the other jobs I was doing, I also then had to learn an entirely new job, one I wasn’t entirely excited about.  That was almost three years ago, and I am happy to say that I have since made that job my own.  We finally hired a third person after a year of the two of us struggling to get the work of six people done.  Thank goodness.

Now, the problem with the company, is that they have absolutely no idea how to treat their staff or motivate them.  Every single month my division is told that we are not making money, that in fact, we’re losing money.  Now, we’re not stupid, we know full well that if we were losing money month after month after month like they say we are, we would have been closed down a long time ago.  We know this isn’t true, that it’s management’s way of “motivating” us to do better, work harder, make more money.  What they don’t seem to realize, obviously, is that every time they tell us this, we want to pack up our stuff and go home.  I mean, we’ve been working our behinds off and what is our thanks?  Being told we’re not doing a good enough job – every month.  To say the morale in our office is low is an understatement.

Another thing that really doesn’t help matters is the fact there was a wage/salary freeze a few years ago.  I still remember opening that email.  I get that there was a recession, I understand that things were going to change and that raises were going to be out of the question, for a while.  I’m not completely ignorant of the facts.  What does irk me is seeing managers and VP’s and the President rolling into the parking lot in their Audies, Porsches and Bentley – yes, our President thought it would be a good idea to show up to the office in his Bentley.

Oh, we did eventually get a raise.  It was last year.  I remember going into the VP’s office to get some things signed and he had me shut the door.  He then handed me an envelope and told me to fill “it” out, and get it back to him the next week.  It was a review.  I had to fill in a three page questionnaire about my work to date.  Actually, it was about my work since my last review which was funny considering I had never had a formal review up to that point.  Well, I took it home, filled it out as best as I could (I think they Googled “Performance Reviews” and printed out the first one they found – most of the questions pertained to managers, which I am not) and on the day of my review, handed it in to the VP, who did my review.  I found out during said review that we would be getting a raise of three percent.  Now I’m not one to spit in the face of this sort of thing, however, it had been three years since my last raise and the only thing that didn’t go up during those three years was my salary.  I hate to sound incredibly ungrateful, but when I got my next pay stub I had to pull out my previous one to see if I had actually gotten a raise.  That’s not good.  Again, I hate to sound like a spoiled brat but… did I mention our President and his Bentley?  Yeah.

Okay, on to the nice part!

Fast forward a year.  Last week, Monday to be exact, there was a staff meeting – attendance not mandatory (weird, yes).  Well, I was off sick that day so I clearly didn’t go.  When I got into work the next day, I opened an email outlining what the meeting had been about – it had been to recognize people who had been with the company for milestone years i.e. five, ten, fifteen etc., you get the idea.  I’ve been there for six years so there was my name.  I thought “Oh, that’s nice I guess,” I mean, I got my name on a list, in an email.  Maybe I missed a pizza and wing lunch – our VP’s go-to for potluck lunches.  I went on with my day.

The next day, while I was counting petty cash in my boss’s office, there was a knock on the door and on the other side was the VP, holding an orange gift bag, with my name on it.  He came in, shook my hand and thanked me for all of my work over the years.  I don’t like attention and was a bit embarrassed, but smiled like a goof anyway.  I said, You’re Welcome, and thanked him for whatever was in the bag.  Turns out it was a plaque, a $50.00 gift card and a handwritten card thanking me for my hard work.  I’m not sure who signed it – I think it’s the President since I know the VP’s signature and it’s not his – but it doesn’t matter.  That little token of appreciation lifted my spirits, it made me smile and it put me in a very good mood.  It wasn’t a huge raise, it wasn’t an enormous and expensive gift; it was a Thank You, letting me know I was appreciated.  To any managers/owners etc. out there reading this – your staff deserves to be shown respect and to be told that they are doing a good job – I mean, if they’re still working for you, they’re obviously doing a good job.  They need to hear you say Thank You every once in a while.  Trust me, it will make them smile.

~Trisha~

Chicken, Spinach & Artichoke Casserole

With Fall in the air, it is definitely home food time and nothing says that better than a casserole.  Now, I will preface this recipe with a quick note: although I try my best to make all the food I cook healthy, sometimes there is just no getting around certain ingredients.  In the case of this meal, it’s the Alfredo sauce.  I’m sure there’s a way to make this from scratch so that it’s healthy but frankly, I just don’t want to.  I came up with the idea for this from seeing the title Spinach & Artichoke Casserole while searching recipes online, but I didn’t have the time to actually read the recipe.  But the title was good enough – I had artichokes and spinach sitting around waiting to be used so this was perfect!  It was obviously a vegetarian recipe and given the fact that I’ve eaten more red meat in the past two weeks than I have in the past year, I probably should have gone ahead with something vegetarian but, hey, again, I didn’t want to!

Growing up, our family did not sit down to too many casseroles – my father was not and is not a fan so few were served.  In fact, I was tempted to try and come up with another name for this other than a casserole (some psychological issues at play here perhaps?) but figured, who would I be kidding?  Once I moved out on my own, I realized casseroles are good and they can be economical.  This is both – leave out the chicken and cream cheese and it’s downright cheap.

As with all things I make, as I mentioned, I try to use lower fat ingredients when I can get away with it.  Here, I use light cream cheese since no one will ever be able to tell the difference.  I was also going to use mozzarella cheese in it but by the time I mixed everything together I thought that it would be overkill – this is pretty darn rich without it.  Also, I always try to use as many vegetables as I think will work with a dish so that they, if not cancel out the fatty stuff, at least help balance it a wee bit.  You’ll notice there are no onions in this – for some reason I don’t like onions in anything creamy, but feel free to add them if you’re not as fussy.  I will try and keep this one short and sweet!

Ingredients:

Canned artichokes, drained, rinsed and chopped

1 package of frozen spinach – thawed and squeezed dry

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (I poached mine)

Approximately 2 cups of mushrooms, sliced and cooked

1 large red pepper, diced and cooked

1 jar of Alfredo sauce

½ 8oz. package of light cream cheese, softened (or… 4oz. of cream cheese!)

1 cup of light sour cream – don’t use fat free sour cream, ever – you might as well use Elmer’s Glue

Pasta – rotini, bow tie, penne – something that will hold up well in a casserole and will hold the sauce – cook per the box directions minus a minute or three – I used approximately 3 cups of bow ties

A few dashes of Tabasco

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: (heat oven to 375)

This is easy: mix all the vegetables, the chicken and the pasta in either a large bowl or pot.  Next, put the Alfredo sauce and cream cheese in a pot to heat up – this melts the cream cheese into the sauce.  Take the sauce off the heat and add the sour cream and Tabasco.  Lastly, pour the sauce over the veggie/chicken/pasta, stir and pour into a greased casserole dish.  Cover with tin foil and put into the oven for about 40 minutes.  Take the foil off and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes.

Serve up and enjoy!!!

~Trisha~

Not pretty but super delish!

Working for the Weekend?

Dr. Dyer, in his book, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, states that whatever your passion is, “you can make a living doing it.” I have my fingers crossed that this is true. I am one of those people who is always working for the weekend, eyeing that prize starting on about…Monday. We often plan something to do on Fridays just to give us something to look forward to in order to “get through” the week. My passion no longer lies in my current job, and it’s getting harder and harder to do it by the day. Unfortunately, in my place of employment, there is some discrepancy between my morals and ideals and those of my employers which does not help the situation. What has helped is distancing myself. For so long, I was very emotionally involved in my job – I wanted to fix everything, to be a miracle worker, and it was a very stressful way of working. My whole world revolved around this job, not just my time at work, but my own time at home as well.

As sad as this might be, I now look at my job as just that, a  job, a means to an end, that end being my own business centred around my passion. Sure, I could try to find another job, but that is easier said than done, and in my profession, jobs are few and far between with fierce competition. Not to mention the fact, that my dreams and passion now lie elsewhere.  Because of this, I’m in the process of following my passion, and trusting it will turn out the way it’s supposed to. It already feels better. To know that, very soon, I’m going to be doing what I want, how I want, and it’s going to benefit not only myself but others as well, is very empowering. I am Woman, Hear Me Roar is exactly how I feel!

This week was a bit rougher than usual, and a lot of that may have to do with my heart just not being in it anymore, but I figured I’d write this post (even though it’s not all that cheery) because I’m sure I’m not the only person experiencing these kinds of feelings regarding a job. In the past, I would have complained, and made no effort to do anything about it simply because “doing something,” seemed too hard and the fear of the unknown was frightening. Regardless of how bad it was, it was “easier” to just stay there and suck it up. Well, those days are over. It may be easier, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I can no longer let someone else dictate what my song is. Life is too short to do something that does not make you feel good inside, to go through the motions day after day like a robot, no feelings, no joy, no passion.

In the meantime, to get through my workdays until my business takes off, I do a few things to help me cope and keep the positive vibes flowing:

  1. Bring my business journal to work. Just bringing it to work (many times I don’t even have the time to jot ideas in it), makes me feel connected to my passion and my goal.
  2. Listen to a Zen relaxation CD as soon as I get to work, and during my lunch. The sounds of birds chirping, waterfalls, chimes, gentle music slows down my mind, and really does help me to relax. It’s like an little escape from the hustle and bustle of my workday.
  3. Read a particularly inspiring chapter from one of my favourite books (which is always in my purse). This chapter is the one that jump started everything regarding following my passion.
  4. I haven’t implemented this one yet, but I’m hoping to soon, especially with the fresh fall air just around the corner – going for a walk during my lunch hour. A little dose of Mother Nature is medicine for the soul.
  5. Remind myself why I’m still there using the mantra, “a means to an end.” My sister has actually texted me this phrase after a particularly difficult day. Believe it or not, it helps me to refocus.
  6. This one may same weird, but it works for me. I sometimes peruse baking/cooking websites while on my lunch. There’s something comforting and homey about looking at recipes, and these kinds of websites tend to be very visually appealing.

On a sidenote, on one particularly stressful day, I got an instant stress headache after a very taxing episode. When I got home, I immediately put a hot beanbag type thing on my eyes, laid down with one of my meditations, and within maybe half an hour, my headache began to ease up which for me, was a mini miracle. I am the type of person who gets headaches that last, on average, at least two days, and when I get one, I’m unable to function. So let this be a testimonial to the benefits of meditation!

Back on track, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who love their jobs, but for those of us with a less than amicable relationship with it, what do you do to help you get through your day?

~Carolyn

A Mini Makeover

This weekend I did something that I should have done a while ago – I moved the furniture in my living room around.  I did it on a whim after thinking (again) about how sick I was of looking at my living room the way it was.  It was 6pm, last night, and I figured I could get it done fairly quickly, and I was right.  By 7:15 I was standing and looking at the changes (it’s obviously not a very big living room).  What a difference moving a few things, or actually in my case everything, into a new location makes.  It feels bigger, yet cozier, somehow.  I know very little about Feng Shui, but I think I made some good moves.  I opened it up, and it now seems like a more grown up living room.  I also made this discovery: I’m pretty sure my cat, Puddin’, has more toys than most children!  Every time I moved something, I would find more of her toys – it was a bit crazy.  My floor is now covered in cat toys – I definitely have to do something about that.

My inspiration definitely came from reading one of my new favourite blogs Apartment Envy – I love this blog; she has great tips and great photos on there.  My apartment is much tinier and more generic compared to what she showcases, but I’m never looking to copy anything, I’m only ever looking to be inspired.  I live in an old (probably from the 70’s) high-rise where all of the apartments are cookie cutter copies of the next, with odd angles and wall placements, and even worse floors.  But I do what I can to make it my own; I have been for the six years that I’ve lived here.  Of course, it’s difficult given what I have to work with, both the space itself and the finances, but it’s definitely my space.  I would love to have a more cohesive look, with not necessarily matching anything, actually definitely NOT matching anything, but right now it’s still a mish mash of furniture and styles.

I used to be obsessed with white – everything in my apartment was white.  That is until the day my Mom walked through it and said it was nice, but “sterile” looking.  I don’t think she meant it as an insult, just as a guiding piece of advice.  Well, I took it, and have since added pops of colour throughout.  I traded my white living room curtains for red, my white area rug for a red shag carpet (yup, I have a shag carpet and I love it).  My bathroom no longer blinds people with the white walls, white shower curtain, white towels and white mat – I’ve gone orange in there (my favorite colour).  One thing I won’t do in this apartment, however, is paint.  In my last apartment, which was a 100-year-old fourth floor walk up, I painted every room almost as soon as I moved in.  Why?  Well because each room was a different Neon colour.  Yes, you read right – each room was either blue, yellow or green; make that super bright blue, yellow or green.  It was beyond hideous.  I painted the living room a very dark burgundy which might not sound very nice, but the room had crown molding which was white – it looked sharp.  The rest of the rooms were painted either a creamy white or sage green.  I even went so far as to paint the kitchen cupboards white.  They were all wood (and I know some people think it’s a sin to paint wood), but they were just too much so they got painted and I changed the pulls to brushed nickel.  That apartment was nice – although the storage was a nightmare, as in there was none!  For some reason though, and I’m really not sure why exactly, I just can’t bring myself to paint this apartment.  I’m sure it would look better and warmer if I did but no, I just won’t do it.  So white walls they will remain.

I was going to post a picture of what my living room looks like but when I uploaded it, it just didn’t look very good – turns out my living room is not very photogenic!  Either that or I’m not a very good photographer.  So instead, I’ll treat you to a pic of Puddin’!

Puddin’ on my red shag carpet!

Happy Monday!

~Trisha~

Lists, lists, lists, oh and more lists!

Hello, my name is Trisha, and I am a compulsive list maker.  I have been making lists for as long as I can remember.  I have notebooks filled with lists all over my apartment, on my coffee table, under my coffee table, on my desk, in my desk, in my handbag (I have 3 little memo books in there for lists).  My BlackBerry Memo section is filled with running lists: Blog Post Ideas, Books to Get, Gift Ideas, Good Restaurants, LCBO list, Movies to See, Shopping List, Songs to Download, Things to Check (i.e. Google) and Things to Look Up (not too sure why I have this last one since it’s clearly the same as the previous list!).  I’ve even been known to make a list of the lists that I need to make.  Out of control you say?  I agree, sort of.

It’s kind of become a bit of a joke, all of my list making. It’s like I have an innate need to make these lists and when I don’t, I just seem to flounder; my head is all over the place, and I really don’t get anything done.

Take this morning, for instance. I was sitting on my sofa thinking of all the things I need to get done and was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  There was really no reason to feel that way since it is Saturday, I have all day to do everything, and none of it is really that pressing.  But, I got the usual panicky, flustered feeling and went to my bag, grabbed my pen, pulled my big notebook out from under the coffee table, and started writing.  It was while I was in the middle of writing my Saturday To Do List “cleaning” entry that the idea for this post came to me.  You see, I didn’t just write “clean apt.” No, I wrote “clean apt.” and then continued to make a sub-list breaking down exactly what I need to do in order to clean my apartment because my apartment is so huge, and I clearly need direction on what needs to get done (heavy sarcasm here).

Although I’ve been making lists for a long time, it became really out of control back when I was in therapy (yes, I was in therapy, there I said it – but really, who hasn’t been?).  My therapist not only supported my list making, she encouraged me to take it to a new level by making a list of everything that I needed to do each and every day.  My lists changed from regular goal oriented and weekly lists to lists containing things like showering and eating breakfast.  It was slightly (or not so slightly) ridiculous, but I did it.  And, I still do, to an extent.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been, as I’ve mentioned before, reading a lot about the Tao, in particular Dr. Wayne Dyer books.  He encourages people to be less structured, to basically allow life to happen by not planning so much – to go with the flow so to speak.  To say that is not me is a huge understatement.  I’m most certainly not a fly by the seat of my pants type person; I like structure, I like plans, so just going with the flow is quite difficult for me.  Having a free day ahead of me without having a plan of some sort of how I’m going to use it, throws me.

I have tried, though, to curb my list making, I really have.  Oh, I still make lists, just not on a daily basis.  I have to say, I love having a long list of things to do and being able to cross them off as I go; it feels like I’ve accomplished something.  Now, however, I don’t go into a tailspin if I don’t finish everything on the list; I know that there will be another day to finish whatever is left, that the world won’t come to an end just because my storage room didn’t get cleared out that day.

One thing is for sure, I will never give up my list making and that is not a bad thing, it’s not.  In a perfect world, living on the fly and just letting life happen would be great.  I don’t happen to live in that world.  My world, my life, is busy, and at times, quite hectic; there’s nothing like a well laid out list to ground things, to put things into perspective for me, to show me what needs to be done now and what can wait for a little while –  even if it is on my list.

~Trisha~

Happy New Year?

Labour Day Weekend, the last long weekend of the summer. Ahhh I remember this holiday from my youth so well. It was such a bittersweet long weekend. So many mixed emotions I had for this holiday as a child.

Part of me loved it because it was a girly weekend tradition for so many years. My Dad and my uncle would take off out of town to a car show, and it’d be just me, my sister, and Mom, bonding over good food and good times. Then, of course, the staple of that weekend was the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Even as a kid, I felt so much emotion seeing those firefighters waltz onto that stage with their oversized cheques, the big dramatic number change on the tote board. The down side of the holiday was the hot/cold feeling I got about going back to school. Excited to see my friends, but sad to have to go to school to do it (we lived in a pretty rural area and our friends were not a hop, skip, and a jump away). It was so hard to give up sleeping in, the freedom to do whatever I wanted when I wanted, the two months of carefree living in the lazy hazy days of summer. There was some excitement in getting all of my stationary ready and organized to a T. Same with getting my first day of school outfit ready. I remember some years, it was still pretty hot on that first day of school (even in Canada), but I was bound and determined to wear that new Fall outfit – nevermind the fact that it was better suited to 5 degrees Celsius temperatures.

As an adult, I still tend to get those feelings around this time of year. For some reason, the last long weekend of summer is a bit sad, perhaps because, for many people, it signals the end of summer; not technically, but practically. For many of us, it also signifies back-to-the-ole-routine time. It’s so nice to live a little slower during the summer months, to feel like, for just a couple of months, everything’s not so rushed.

But, onto Fall we must go, and I’m not complaining. Fall’s a beautiful season, and living in a climate in which I get to enjoy all four seasons, each season feels like a fresh start. Au revoir, Summer 2012! I’m ready for a new beginning. On that note, Happy Mini New Year everyone!

~Carolyn

Seven Things About Me Award

Wow, this is such a nice surprise.  A very big Thank You to Chelsea at The Writer Without a Pen for the nomination!  We are more than happy to tell you 7 things about ourselves, and to pass on the nominations (the fun part!).

1. I LOVE to read, I have way more books than I have shelf space for – Trisha

2. I don’t drive – Trisha

3. I’m not very tech-savvy – Trisha

4. I’ve started writing too many novels to count and have completed none – Trisha

5) I’m a neat freak. Everything has its own place, and I’ll notice if it’s been moved even a 1/2 an inch. (Carolyn)

6) I’m a gravy-aholic. (Carolyn)

7) Children’s choir voices (the humming ones) scare me. (Carolyn)

Now, on to our nominations:

Book Peeps

HeatherBlog

Emma’s Life Unravel

A French Frye in Paris

Childhood Relived

Apartment Envy

Lastly, here are the rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Tell everyone seven things about yourself.

3. Choose other blogs that you think deserve the award, and post on their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated.

Thanks again, Chelsea, for the nomination. Make sure you check out Chelsea’s positive and inspiring blog at The Writer Without a Pen. Happy Labour Day!!

Trisha & Carolyn

Why I Meditate in the Kitchen

No, you read that right.  I meditate in the kitchen.  Not all the time, and not every day, but I do.  Sure, I do my “real” meditation in my living room, on the sofa, stereo off, lights off, sometimes guided, sometimes not.  But, I definitely consider my kitchen time as my favorite meditation time.  So what exactly do I do when I meditate in my kitchen?  I cook (and occasionally bake).

My first memory of being in the kitchen is when I was about six years old and baking a cake in order to earn my Baking Badge for Brownies (ah, remember Brownies?!).  My Mom still tells the story every once in a while.  I have a short attention span and I’m very easily distracted – I was standing on a chair at the counter sifting flour through one of those metal cups with a handle that you squeeze to sift the flour through it.  Well, my Mom called my name to tell me something, I turned to look at her, and continued sifting the flour right onto the floor.   (By the way, this is one of the reasons I don’t drive – I can’t seem to just turn my head, I put my whole body into it which is a little tiny bit unsafe when driving!)  Well, didn’t matter, I earned my badge and was a happy little camper.

Anyways, back to the cooking.  Anyone with a full-time job can attest to the fact that finding the time to cook dinner every night is difficult.  My job keeps me away from my home for almost 12 hours a day – I leave at 7:30 in the morning and get back home at roughly 7 at night.  Cooking dinner after work each day just doesn’t work for me and my schedule.

So what’s a girl to do?  I’ll tell you what this girl does – each Sunday, I gather all of the ingredients for the meals that I’m going to be eating for the week, both lunches and dinners, and I cook.  I cook like a demon.  Sometimes there’s music involved, and sometimes I just want peace and quiet.  Either way, it has turned into a relaxing, meditative, yet very productive, part of my weekend.

I own a lot of cookbooks – I have an entire book shelf dedicated to my growing collection.  Every Christmas I receive a new one and it’s something I look forward to.  I read these cookbooks like novels, from cover to cover, drooling over the recipes and photos; but here’s the thing – I can probably count on my two hands the number of times I’ve actually used/followed a recipe in one of those books.  I’m more of a do-my-own-thing kind of cook.  Granted, I have a tendency to cook the same things over and over but that’s okay, I like the routine.

One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is chopping fruit and vegetables which sounds boring, I know, but this exercise isn’t about excitement so it’s okay.  My breakfast consists of the same thing every day – chopped fresh fruit.  There is something so relaxing about cutting up produce – the repetition, the monotony, the rhythm.  It’s like, well, meditation.  I’ve cut up so much fruit over the years, I can chop up a pineapple, a couple of kiwis, mangos and a melon in roughly 10 minutes!  Onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes – well, once I get into the rhythm of slicing and dicing and chopping those, I could handle the entire produce section!

Baking is a completely different story altogether.  While I like baking, I know that if all the conditions aren’t perfect, or as close to perfect as I can make them, whatever I bake probably won’t turn out very well.  I read somewhere that your baking turns out the way you’re feeling – in other words if you’re stressed when you’re baking, whatever you’ve made will likely not come out very good, but if you’re relaxed and happy, you’ll have a good day in the kitchen.  That is so true.  I definitely noticed that at Christmas, in particular, over the years.  I used to wait until the last minute to do my Christmas baking and was always rushed and stressed; things just didn’t turn out very good.  Well, I shouldn’t say that, they turned out okay, but they were never as good as they could have been (I feel like I’m sounding like Martha Stewart here, but what can I say, I’m a bit of a perfectionist).  Now, I meditate before going into the kitchen; after that, I’m relaxed, centered, balanced, and ready to get my hands (and my kitchen) dirty.  I also don’t wait until the last minute at Christmas anymore!

I’m sure the main thing with baking is that unlike cooking it’s a science – and I was never any good at science.  Now, I only bake when I’m completely relaxed and in the mood to bake.  One of my favorite things to bake is bread.  Yep, bread.  Not in a bread machine but the old school, put your back into it, knead for 10 minutes, way.  Honestly, it’s beyond meditative and therapeutic.  I love it and I love giving away the bread, it makes me feel good.  Really, making something delicious and comforting out of a few inedible raw ingredients (flour, yeast) never ceases to amaze me!

My First Batch of Bread!!! (Sorry for the photo quality, I wasn’t expecting to ever post this!)

I’ve been told that I should do something with my cooking and baking, something professional.  But I always say the same thing, if I turned what I love as a relaxing hobby into something I did for a living, I don’t know if I would love it as much.  So, a hobby it will remain.  I will continue my Sunday ritual of cooking and relaxing and creating.

~Trisha~

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