Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Winter Wonderland

 A dear friend of mine recently moved from North Carolina to Iowa. Being a southern girl her whole life, she was understandably worried about the impending snow and ice winter she was told to expect. So I created the Notherner's Winter Survival Guide and sent it to her. And, since this is supposed to be another record-breaking winter for my friends in the south, I decided to post it here as well. Feel free to add in your winter tips in the comments section!

1. Fashion, Smashion - Warm clothes are not attractive. They are warm. And they make treading through snow and ice much more enjoyable. I have ugly winter boots and a large wool coat that hides all my curves, but I am warm so I don't really care. There are certainly a lot of cute winter clothes out there, but what materials are they made of? Chances are they won't keep the wind from cutting through to your skin. I would also invest in a pair of warm slippers. I find even socks aren't enough to keep my feet warm and I hate wearing them anyway.

2. Adjust Your Schedule - Plan to add 10-15 minutes to your commute. People drive slow in the winter, as they should, and it just takes longer. Or they drive like idiots and you have to contend with traffic jams. If you have the option of public transportation, TAKE IT. I hate driving in the winter and unfortunately I have to. I'd rather let someone else worry about braking on ice and avoiding ditches. Here, no one worries about being on time because you simply can't predict the roads, drivers, or weather.

3. Stock Your Pantry - Nothing is better in colder climates than soups and hot chocolate. D likes tea, so we have a lot of that too. It really does warm your soul after coming in out of the cold. If you're interested, here's my recipe for yummy, lo-cal hot chocolate: Boil water. Mix a tsp of stevia/splenda/artificial sweetener and a 1 1/2 tsp of cocoa powder. Add water and mix well.

4. Be Aware of Your Vitamin D Levels - I'm not sure about where you are, but a lot of people here suffer from seasonal depression. This is not because we’re sad; it's because we’re not getting the Vitamin D our bodies are used to getting as the sun shines differently in the winter. You may consider taking Vitamin D supplements (I can recommend a good one if you'd like). Or, if you're not concerned with cancer, go to a tanning bed. I do both (the tanning bed is a once/2 weeks thing to make me feel better). Another alternative is to begin eating more foods that have Vitamin D in them, such as fish and milk. However, I find I still need more in the winter months so I take supplements and tan occasionally.

5. Beware the Mid 30s - When the temperatures hover in the mid 30s, the roads are the most dangerous. This is because the snow is melting and refreezing as the temperatures fluctuate around 0 (36). Just be careful, drive slow, and leave lots of room between you and the person in front of you.

6. Take Time to Enjoy Outdoor Winter Activities - D and I sled, ice skate and ice fish. In fact, we're taking our engagement pictures on a frozen pond sometime in January. I also would like to begin snow shoeing or cross country skiing. These activities can be fun and a way to get out and enjoy the winter weather. And the more time you spend outside, the more you adjust to the cold temps. I find that if I am outside more, I am less cold in general. My body naturally adjusts to the temperatures.

7. Other Random Thoughts:

a. My nose always runs. Especially right now as the temps are diving and the air is getting more dry. It just does and I don't have a cold. It will lessen as I adjust to the cold temps, but just stock up on tissues with lotion.

b. Dry air = static hair. I use much more conditioner as well as a volume booster in the winter because my hair lays so flat in the dry air. In fact, I don't see my hair straightener between Nov and April.

c. Lotion up. Your skin will get dry and flaky; it helps to lather on the lotion in the colder months.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Long Update

Yes, you can yell at me. I fail to blog as much as I would like and not nearly as much as you would like. Ooops. It’s a casualty of enjoying life too much J The summer has been really busy but fun. The snow melting has brought lots of mosquitoes, and they are HUGE! I forgot how bad they were here...I hope I don’t get West Nile or something along those lines. But I will take some bug bites with the sunshine over winter any day of the week.

So what’s been keeping me busy? Well, work. I know, I know, in my last post I mentioned how free I was feeling, and how much I was looking forward to a summer of relaxation. Well, that certainly hasn’t happened. I had a huge publication project for most of May/June, and then in July I traveled to DC for a conference. I feel as if I’m still working FT, which has its own pluses and minuses. I don’t want to speculate right now as to what will happen in the fall...we’ll have to see where this consulting thing goes. I like writing and editing, and I really like working from home. So maybe a permanent consulting gig is in order? We shall see.

Family has been the other big thing. At the beginning of June I went to visit my parents in Texas for a week and a half. It was a much needed trip to reconnect with them and a much needed shopping trip to buy new summer clothes as my summer wardrobe was way too big. In winter it doesn’t matter as much, you dress in layers anyway, but summer is different. I need clothes that fit! I have to say, it is way cheaper to purchase clothes in the U.S. then here. Thank goodness I have a connection down there.

In July, my future father-in-law turned 60. And my future mother-in-law recruited me to help her plan a surprise birthday party. It was a really fun time, but just time consuming. And then D’s brother and his family came for the party, and the following week so I spent a lot of time with them. And after they left I went to DC for this conference. And since returning, my sister-cousin Rena is currently in town. Fortunately, mom and dad changed their trip to September so I get a couple of weeks off before leaving to Charlotte, NC, for a friend’s wedding. THEN my parents come for a while. Phew!

I really am not complaining; I love having family around. And being summer, everyone makes plans to be out and about. I’m grateful my life is the way it is. I didn’t expect to feel so settled and integrated, but I am glad I do. In previous moves it’s taken me a while to get to this place and I’m so glad it happened quickly. 

And one more piece of important news...I have a date for the wedding! August 11, 2012. SAVE THE DATE. This fall I’ll develop a website, etc., so you can keep track. I have my venues, and now I get to do all the fun stuff. I can’t wait to marry D, he’s just the best. And I hope all you U.S. friends can come, we’d love to show off Alberta to you!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Summer Time is Super Fine

Hello blogosphere! It's certainly been a while, and that's ok because that means I have been busy. Since I last checked in, the snow has melted and the sun is shining from 6 am to 930 pm. With so much day, and such nice weather, being outside has been my favorite past time. I need the sun after that terrible, long winter. Do I have to do that every year? We seeded the yard, so I have spent a lot of time watering grass so the seed will take. Once it does I'll post before/after photos. We don't have a large garden area, so in the little corner plot we've planted irises, tulips, strawberry plants and some herb plants. I also convinced Darren to open up a small area in the yard for some legacy raspberry plants - my mom got them from Devon, gave them to my aunt, and she's now giving them to me to replant in Devon. It feels SO good to have roots!

Right now I'm also training for my first triathlon. Should be a good time, if I can get myself ready for it. I hate running and after the swimming and biking, it's going to be hard. But I guess as long as I finish I can say I accomplished something!

After I moved here I decided to take a little time off to just adjust and relax. Well, after a really terrible interview (on both sides) and a little soul searching, I decided to give myself the summer off as well so I'll have a full year away from the office, so to speak. I'm still consulting and creating a little business with USANA (, let me know if you want to learn more), but nothing that requires me to be any certain place at a certain time. And I love it! I really would just like to be a housewife all the time but with a wedding next year we need the money. After the summer I'll revisit the whole work situation and see where we are. I am so stoked for the summer!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Food Fun Day

For those of you who know me, it comes as no surprise that I love to cook. I love food, I love trying new things, and I love making them too! Now that I have my kitchen back, the archives of fun food experiments I've been mulling around in my mind can finally be attempted. So, Friday night I made Lobster Spaghetti. I was looking for a way to enjoy pasta without a pasta sauce. And I have to say, it was delicious! Here's the recipe and some pics:

1 package SeaQuest Lobster Pollock (you can substitute any meat here, or add pine nuts or sliced almonds instead)
1 can diced tomatoes (if you cut fresh tomatoes, make sure you save the juices)
1/2 pkg of fresh spinach
Misc vegetables - I had asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers, chives and onions on hand. Use whatever you'd like to for your tastes, just make sure it's fresh and not frozen.
3 cloves garlic, minced
Spices to taste
1/2 pkg whole wheat pasta

In a large skillet, cook spinach in about 1/2 tbsp olive oil until it looks just wilted (it's not, but fully cooked). Set aside. In the same skillet, add 1.5 tbsp of olive oil, vegetables and minced garlic cloves. Cook at medium heat for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add in pre-cooked meat (the lobster was pre-cooked. If using raw foods, cook those first before adding the vegetables. You can still use the same pan). Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add in can of tomatoes with juices and leftover olive oil. Cover and lower heat. You'll want to let the water of the juice reduce, this can take about 15 minutes.

While it's simmering, bring a pot of water to boil, adding in a little sea salt. Cook pasta noodles for about 6 minutes, or until al dente (read the package, each noodle is different). Drain and set aside.

You'll know the sauce is ready when it begins to thicken and seems less liquidy. Put some noodles on a plate, a layer of spinach, and then the sauce. Top it off with a layer of cheese. I like to mix it all together before adding cheese, but that's really a preference.

For a health garlic bread, we spread margarine on top of sprouted-grain bread and sprinkled garlic salt on top. Under the broil setting, I set it in the oven for about 2 minutes, took it out to add cheese and stuck it back for another 3. Our bread lives in the freezer because we don't eat it often, but if it's not frozen I would add the cheese before cooking and just watch for it to be crispy.

Let me know if you try it, and what you thought! D loved it, and I think it will be a staple for us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More and More Like Me

I'm feeling more and more like me every day. It's true. The more I'm here, the more I see how easy it is to go back to your roots, the more I feel grounded and at ease. I have always said moving away was really hard, possibly the hardest thing I've done to date, and even 14 years later I never really felt like I got my mojo back, that part of me that made me feel confident and inspired. But that no longer seems to be the case. Being back somewhere where you belong, where your home is, makes you feel, well, like you. I feel like I'm meeting an old friend and frequently say to myself, "oh yeah, that's who I want to be! I'm glad I'm me again."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Long December

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been. And while I've been away from the blog world, I've been spending some quality time with the people I love the most. My beautiful, talented, loving sister came to visit and I had a blast! True, she was escaping a pretty tough break-up but I think sister time is really what she needed. We got a week away in the mountains courtesy of my future in-laws, spent some time fighting (what sisters don't?) and a great weekend with our sister-cousins capped it off. We cried at the airport as I dropped her off, even though I saw her two days later in Houston.

Courtesy of CA's photographic genius.

Next came the Christmases. First was D's family, and we had a great time. It was the first time I  met his brother and his brother's family, and really it seemed like we already knew each other. No awkwardness, just fun family time. I feel really lucky to be marrying into his family. They really do respect and love each other. I then flew to Texas and spent Christmas day with my family in Houston. And it was really nice. Just the four of us, and it will probably be the last time that happens. My mom, sister and I went wedding dress shopping and yes, I did buy a dress! I'm so excited about it despite swearing I wouldn't fall in love with the first dress I tried on. Ok, this was the 3rd but really, at the price and the way I look in it I couldn't let it go. Now if August 2012 would only come sooner!

After Christmas, it was tv heaven. As part of Christmas and a delayed engagement gift, we ended up getting the home theater items D's been eyeing for a year. The 54-inch plasma mounted on the wall with the blu-ray, receiever, and satellite all hidden in the closet. After 3 days of construction (no, really, he was in the attic and everything cutting holes), we got everything to work. Mostly. We're still working out some kinks ;)

So, after my December, I welcome January with open arms. I am resetting again, and looking forward to resuming the weight-loss journey I began a year ago (thankfully I haven't gained the weight back, just plateaued). I am also looking forward to finally finding a job here, and resuming the relatively normal lifestyle I've tried to instill for myself. But knowing the unpredictable nature of my life lately, I won't be surprised if I end up throwing all these plans and caution to the wind and just letting God take me where He wants.