Monday, December 26, 2011

It's All In The Quiche

Another Christmas has come and gone. The build-up is over, the garbage bins are packed full of tossed wrapping paper, Santa gets to head south for a well deserved holiday and we're all exhausted. I had a quiet, yet lovely Christmas here and am happy to announce that it's snowing again! I didn't think that the snow would keep up the way it has and I am so very glad that it did. Plus someone made an amazing little snow Santa in the backyard here but it's been covered in fresh snow so taking a picture to show the world wouldn't truly express the greatness of this miniature Santa snowman.

Like I said, Christmas was pretty low key but enjoyable. Chris and I went over to his parents to open presents with the entire family and we later had a delicious supper there as well. Later on I got to Skype with my entire family which was exactly what I needed to end the day. They were all gathered at Pam's house for supper so we scheduled a Skype date while they were all together there. It definitely made me homesick - especially seeing my adorable niece dressed in the outfit I sent to her for Christmas, plus the dogs jingle jangling in their jingle bell collars and my other sister threatening me to never miss another Christmas again. But it made me super happy to see them all and be able to chat with them all at once.

But something was missing.

While I was sitting there at Chris's parents house yesterday afternoon, I was thinking that something wan't right about Christmas this year. Yes, I wasn't at home and was missing my family tremendously...but there was something else that I yearned for that I was being deprived of which was making the whole Christmas experience incomplete. Then Chris mentioned the words "finger food" and it came to me.

Quiche! I was missing my Christmas quiche! In our family traditions, Christmas Eve is the main event when all of both sides of the family gather to my parent's house to eat, drink and be merry. There is always a ridiculous amount of food in which there is also always a ridiculous amount of leftovers. My favourite leftovers is always my mom's homemade mini quiches. Oh man...waking up on Christmas morning and popping a bunch of those in the oven to snack on is just the best. Yesterday, I was missing my quiche. Today, I made some in hopes that eating them would make my Christmas complete. Flaky handmade crust filled with bacon, onion, cheese, eggs, cream and spices, baked til hot and golden brown. What is not to love?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Snow Therapy

Today is the first day that I have felt that specific warmth in my heart that happens during the Christmas season. I have had a lot of trouble finding it because every Christmas that I have ever experienced has had moments or memories that I relate to Christmas and all of these moments always occur back home in BC. Not being in BC means that I am not able to see, feel, hear, smell or experience any of these moments that ignite Christmas in my heart.

Today, it was the snow. I woke up to a light blanket of snow and seeing the white covering everything made me smile and instantly feel a sense of relief. For me, snow = Christmas and the world here has been so green which makes it that much harder to get into the spirit. The feeling of connection between snow and Christmas was, as I said, a relief because something inside of me clicked and I felt a major spark ignite within me which reminded me of what the holidays are about. Beauty and peace.

There is nothing more beautiful or peaceful than the snow. It falls so gently and perfectly and makes everything around us sparkle and glow with beauty. It's calming and seems to make the world quieter. One of my all-time favourite things to do is take the dogs out for a walk late at night when the streets are empty and the snow is softly crunching under my feet. No cars or fellow walkers to share the world with - just me and the dogs enjoying the way the snow lights up the dark night.

Me, Riz and Splash enjoying a difficult hike up Thunder Road

Jess and I took advantage of the perfect winter day and went for a nice long walk in the woods. Even though we had no dog to appreciate our surroundings with, it was exactly what I needed on a day like today. I have been working a lot lately and haven't taken any time for myself to enjoy where I am and absorb the natural beauty around me. The snow brought out that sense of need of getting out there and looking at the perfection of the trees all blanketed with snow and encompassing myself with the splendor that winter brings. How people can hate this season is beyond me. I say to Winter: "Bring it on!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Tree or Not To Tree?

It's the 21st of December and most people who are planning on having a Christmas tree have had theirs up now for weeks. I had no desire or intention on getting a tree this year, mostly due to the lack of spirit in my heart, the fact that I have been working so much and haven't had the time or energy to get and decorate a tree, plus that I own only one Christmas tree decoration (which my mom surprisingly sent me in the mail!) But Chris wants a tree. Even though I told him that I didn't really want to have anything to do with it and it's too late to get one, he took it upon himself to go out and get a tree. I was in the worst of worst moods yesterday so Chris reassured me that this tree would be his undertaking and that I didn't have to do anything. So. This poor tree that sacrificed its life for a few days of enjoyment has now been sitting in the living room for 2 days without an ornament or light to call its own and Chris has been too busy himself to have a minute to decorate it.

I have 2 choices.

1) I can be the stubborn jerk that I tend to be in situations like this and just sit back and stare at the tree while holding anger in my heart knowing that this poor thing is going to die through no fault of my own. I said I wouldn't be a part of it and stick to my guns and be an asshole and just not do anything.

2) Get over myself, suck it up and start decorating the tree. I am angry that he got such a big tree because we just flat out don't have any ornaments to even begin to cover this thing. But I should honour the life of the tree and give it a few days of Christmas love, even if it's sparsely decorated and laughable to look at. I know that I will get up in a few minutes and start decorating it.

I hate being so stubborn and I wish I could turn off my stubbornness a lot more often than I seem to be able to. I know that I am blowing this way out of proportion and the whole thing is just stupid stupid stupid and I feel shame for admitting to my pettiness. Chris is just excited about the holiday and wants to do festive things and it's not his fault that I can't fully shake my Christmas funk. I just feel like a parent who's kid wants a dog and promised they'd look after the dog and take it for walks 3 times a day, only to be the one stuck walking the dog in the pouring rain and cleaning up the poop. I'd muchly prefer a dog though.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Aspenglow Warms the Heart

It's been a week since my Christmas funk blog post and I will admit that I am a bit better than I was last Saturday. I think the Christmas lights in the windows have brightened my evenings quite a bit and I even managed to wrap all of my presents the other night so that I wouldn't be scrambling to get it done only days before the 25th. While wrapping I listened to John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas (a Kotyk classic), plus lots of Burt Ives and Bing Crosby - all of which made me both homesick and comforted at the same time. Either way, my spirit has risen a bit and will hopefully improve more as the holiday draws closer.

So I survived the detox and began eating normal foods again on Monday. I'll admit that on Sunday I was sneaking a few bites of sweets at work and even had a glass of Crown Royal that evening while sitting in a restaurant. But overall I was quite true to the cause and am proud of myself for the restraint that I had for those 2 weeks. I had a few people ask me questions such as "would you do it again?" and "would you recommend this kind of thing to a client or friend?" Being a Nutrition major and knowing the importance of a quality diet, I was and still am, a bit torn by my answer.

Would I do it again? Yeah, I don't see why not. Even though my diet was restricted to a lot of kinds of food and I lost more weight than I ever expected to, I ate quite well during the 2 weeks and was able to have enough variety in my meals that I wasn't going crazy. If I were to do it again I would definitely plan a bit better, especially if it were to be longer than just 2 weeks. I definitely would have bought a good protein powder or something of the sort, to ensure that I was getting enough protein in my diet since I was omitting meats and soy products. Would I recommend this detox to a client or friend? Depends on the person for sure and if they had any ailments, but I mean, it was only 2 weeks. As long as the person did lots of homework on how to eat properly, planned their meals/snacks and made sure that their diet was complete and gave them enough nourishment, I'd say go for it. You might learn a lot about yourself in the process and even figure out what's been causing all that gastric discomfort. I'll admit that my guts were much happier during those 2 weeks that they have been in a long time and I never would have imagined that I could have survived all that time without chocolate. On the flip side of that, I felt a lot of fatigue and my muscles were much more sore than normal, especially after a workout. I would strongly advise against running any marathons while doing this kind of thing.

I would like to end this post with a bit of an "I told you so!" I have had a theory for many years now that the computer game World of Warcraft is a fantastic game to play if you want to no longer have a girlfriend and/or boyfriend.  I know of many relationships that have ended because of this game or have nearly ended and the player gave up playing in sake of their significant other. No joke! I think it's brainwashing and addictive and I cringe when I think of it. Then I saw this commercial the other day and laughed at it's perfectness. I told you so!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Funk

It is already the 10th of December and even though all of the shoppers are out buying presents and the city is decorated to the max and stores are crammed packed full of Christmas decorations and blaring festive music - I'm just not feeling Christmas this year. Every so often I get this burst, this surge, this moment of excitement that the holidays are here. For an hour or so I am pumped and decide to go out shopping and look for gift ideas and look through recipe books for festive foods to make. Then the sensation dissipates and I'm left feeling with a sense of emptiness that I have never had before during the holidays.

People keep telling me they understand the feeling and it's because we have no snow and the weather has been so incredibly warm. But I know the main reason for this is the obvious fact that I am not going home for Christmas and it pains me every time I think about it. It's the little things that make Christmas special to me, like the way the house glows when I wake up in the morning and the only brightness in the house is from the lights on the Christmas tree. Or the comforting warmth that envelopes the house when everyone is gathered together to celebrate the holidays. I feel like all of the Christmas traditions that I have spent my lifetime celebrating are on the other side of the country without me and I have none of my own to have here. I know this is sounding all very "poor pitiful me, my life is so terrible", but I think I'm allowed to be homesick right now. I also know that there are so many amazing people here that I am lucky enough to be able to spend the holidays with, but they can't replace the warmth of a hug from my dad or the content of walking the dogs early Christmas morning before the gifts are unwrapped, or the happiness I will feel while watching my niece tear apart the wrapping paper and become overwhelmed with excitement for whatever treasure is underneath. I am sad to miss these things and I know that my family is also sad that I cannot be there either.

So, today I decided to try to get out of this funk that I have been in by being more festive and start to do some things that I normally do in BC during Christmas. Things I am doing to try to solve this:

1) Uploaded Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" song onto my phone and put it as my ringtone
2) Today got a copy of "The Santa Clause" and "White Christmas" which are 2 of my favourite Christmas movies, and plan to watch them in the next few days
3) Bought all of the ingredients to do some Christmas baking. I have not done the baking yet due to the detox which will be over in less than 2 days.
4) Paint my nails red and maintain them throughout the holidays.
5) Go out and buy some Christmas lights and put them in the windows in the living room. The one thing that is holding me back a lot with getting in the spirit is that I own no Christmas decorations and am not hugely wanting to go out and spend a huge amount of money on decorations to pimp the place out. I think that lights will make a huge effect on me because they are so bright and cheerful.

That is what I have so far. If anyone has any ideas of how I can de-funk then I encourage you to post a message and leave me some suggestions. Thanks!

Monday, December 5, 2011

No Thanks. I'll Have Water.

Detoxing while beginning a new restaurant job plus it be the first 2 weeks of December is proving to be difficult and is testing me to the max on a minute-to-minute basis.

Being a new person at a restaurant is always challenging, especially if you're not familiar with the menu and haven't tasted anything on it yet. Customers ask for suggestions and ask me the one question I hate the most, "What's good here?" and all I can reply is, "Um, I'm new and haven't tasted everything yet, but I can tell you what seems to be popular!" And the food looks truly delicious but I just can't have anything! A place called Outriders Cookhouse isn't known for their delectable vegetarian gluten free entrees - but for their bacon double cheeseburgers and strip loin steaks. I feel like a jerk for not eating anything off the menu but I know that in a week I will be able to start tasting some things and finally be able to make personal recommendations to the patrons.

Also, last night when we closed down the place, a bunch of the staff were sitting around having a few drinks and having a good ol' time just chattering away. There's a comradery that is built within a group of people when the beers start flowing and the stories start pouring out. It's especially important to be able to join in that group and be able to fit within the close knit group, especially when you're the new kid in the block. But no. I could not join in the beer drinking and had to sadly sip my water while eyeing their cold glasses of Keiths... poured from the tap... with condensation building on the outside of the glass... so cold and delicious and just begging for me take a sip... just one sip....

Another reason it sucks to be me right now is the boxes of chocolates being passed around in every room of every business. People are getting excited about the upcoming holiday when they see the boxes of Christmas chocolates being stacked a mile high in every grocery store, they feel the need buy some for people at work where it get passed around from person to person, everyone eyeing up their favourite one. Then it gets to me. I look at the box longingly, sigh deeply and pass it to the next person. Then I get the question, "You don't want any chocolate?" OF COURSE I DO YOU JERKFACE! Wow, that a bit more hostile then I expected. Just posting that picture of the box of chocolates there made my mouth water.

The last reason it sucks to be me at the moment is because I've also been working a lot of Christmas parties at the Culinary Institute which means lots of booze, rich dinners and luscious desserts. And where do all of the leftovers go? To the staff of course! (apart from the booze obviously) Not being able to dig into a giant plate of roast turkey and bacon onion stuffing is torturous. You'd might as well just tie up my legs and feet and pull me in opposite directions by 2 cars.

The reactions I am getting from people when I have to explain this whole cleanse idea is always one of two:
1) Wow, that's amazing that you can have that kind of willpower! Good for you!
2) Are you crazy? Why would you do that? Especially during this time of year?

The first one makes me feel good about myself while the other reminds me that I am crazy and makes me wonder why I am doing this to myself. As the scent of Chris's coffee lingers in the apartment I am wondering myself that exact question.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Month/Job/Apartment

After 4 days of complete chaos, I finally have the time to sit for a minute and type out a quick post. We have moved into the new apartment and nearly all of the boxes have been unpacked and its contents placed lovingly in their new place. Apart from the living room which is still in minor disarray, the place looks habitable. We would have the last room complete if it not were the minor setback of the entire contents of the spare closet coming crashing down when the shelving unit detached from the wall (pulling down some drywall along with it). So now we're just waiting to get that put back together so that all of the extra (junk??) can be shoved and hung back up inside. So close to completion. So close.

After only one day off from leaving the restaurant on Sunday, I was offered a job at Outrider's Cookhouse which I was trilled to accept. I have previously worked with a couple people who work there and I was happy to be able to work with them again. By Tuesday morning I was starting my first shift and being thrown into the thick of it. They must like me because after 3 shifts I'm still employed and going back for more. Unfortunately I began my job there on a week in which I was moving and already have 4 shifts at the Culinary, so I'm working til 2:30 at Outriders then rushing home to get to work at 3 at the second job. Then get home at 10:30, go to bed, up at 6am for hot yoga then back to work at Outriders to start it all over again. Now that we're unpacked I am starting to feel more sane and the stress load has come down a bit.

Oh yeah, plus there's the factor that I've been doing this detox/cleanse for the past 5 days as well. Only 11 more days to go! The first 2 days were complete hell because I was moving and doing lots of lifting and driving and walking with little time to sit and have a proper meal. Not having the caffeine to help me along the way was torture enough but add not having any sugar as well and my brain wanted to explode. It took 2 1/2 days for the headaches to subside but now that they are gone I am starting to feel more normal. I'm not feeling any better or any worse so I'm not sure what the really means as this point. I am enjoying the hot yoga even though class is so early in the morning! Today I actually have the morning off from work and even though I wanted with all of my being to be able to sleep in, I still had to get up to head to Dynamic Fitness to sweat my arse off.

I am contemplating a nap right about now. I really don't enjoy napping but it might just be the ticket to get me through the day. Dare I do it? I just might try.