Monthly Archives: June 2013

Summer Baby

“You know, this time next year you’re going to have to fence all this off.”  Or so my Mom said to my grandfather around the 4th of July, 1980 from her lawn chair at my family’s camp in the middle of Maine.  This is the story I’ve heard so many times as I’ve grown up anyway.  My Mom said she felt ‘off’ at a summer BBQ and had to go home just before she went into labour with me. I was born on July 6, a few weeks early. A summer baby I began and always have been.

Pe (My grandfather. I couldn’t say Grampy – ‘Pe’ was all that came out and it stuck!) was a swim instructor at Boy Scout camp and had me in the water from the get go. Before we had a YMCA or local pool, swim lessons were held at the local public beach. Mom and I would pile into our little aluminum boat (I grew up calling it the tin boat) and the 9.9 horsepower motor would carry us up the lake in the wee hours of the morning. Mom would beach the boat and I’d run off to swim lessons, diving for plastic roses and rings while she read on the sand. Rinse and repeat for most of the summer.

I distinctly remember Pe teaching me how to do the side stroke, tread water and how to jellyfish float. I still don’t really understand what the purpose of the jellyfish float was, but it was fun to learn. I don’t remember a fear of water and every picture I have from when I was little, was me in a swimsuit at the lake. Pe was always in the water with me, raking the rocks out of the shore so I wouldn’t hurt my little feet and he would have to drag me out of the water just to have lunch. I always hated getting out. I even remember my Mom talking about how I’d ‘brown up like a berry’ because I was in the sun so much, all the time.

Nana’s lunches (and breakfasts) were always the best. A quarter of a cantaloupe with yogurt, honey and sunflower seeds. Cold cuts & condiments for a sandwich spread. Seltzer water with a bit of sugar and lemon. Yogurt and honey smoothies. Blueberry bran muffins with honey butter. Bagels with cream cheese and guava jelly. Sometimes, they’d pull out the portable picnic table and we’d eat on the front lawn rather than the screened in porch. I loved those times. Pe always had to find the right spot on the lawn where the table wouldn’t shift and would sit evenly in the grass he had just cut with his push mower.

Pe took such amazingly great care with the grounds. He didn’t use a gas mower because apparently it didn’t cut as nicely as the good old push mowers did. He’d pick up flat rocks from an island in the lake, bring them back and create terraces for my Nan to sit and doing her crossword puzzles on. He always had a trowel and a cardboard box in the trunk with a pair of garden gloves in case he saw a wildflower he liked on the side of the road and just had to have it for the lake. He took great care weeding and planting, setting stones and tidying his lawn. Looking back, it was such a beautiful, lush green space that I can hardly believe it.

I recently found out that the pansies that I grew up picking at our camp, were planted just for me so that I’d have something to pick. They were always on the right hand side of the walkway to the point, where the hammock always was. Purple johnny jump ups with flashes of yellow. Yellow pansies with swatches of orange and purple. There’s a glass pansy bowl in my family, with a glass grate over the top to hold the buds that I really love and hope I’ll keep for generations.

Summer with my grandparents meant digging in the clay and covering myself with it like I was some crazy lake monster until they made me wash it off. Sleeping on the fold out bed between theirs and bouncing back and forth until I got tired, sleeping in Pe’s old v-neck undershirts. It was waking up and washing my hair in the lake with Nana and swimming in the rain because the water was warmer then. It was truly getting to just be a kid and be loevd.

As I got older, my grandparents were kind enough to let me have end of the school year parties at the lake, birthday parties and end of summer parties. We’d BBQ, swim, knee board and tube behind the boat, lay around and drink sparkly drinks from plastic cups and just enjoy the sunshine and freedom.

It seemed I always had friends out at the lake. I was even lucky enough to bring my charges here when I babysat. I’d get them all packed up, drive them out to camp and we’d just…play. Splash. Eat. I took the kids kayaking once and they both learned to call my grandparents “Nan & Pe” just like I did. I don’t think they quite picked up on the fact my grandparents called me ‘Baby Sa-Sa’ though, which is probably a good thing.


(omg guys, that HAIR!?)

I wish I could outline more memories for you, but I think you get the picture here. From Memorial Day to Labor Day. Camp was my home. While we don’t own the camp anymore, I feel so blessed to have the summers I did. I just cannot even begin to think about what summer means to me without the memories of my Nana and Pe.

(This post is for Week 2 of Bring Back the Words thanks to Ginger! I’m really loving these prompts and I hope you are too! Why not join in?)

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My First “Official” Weight Watchers Mealplan

I finally signed up for Weight Watchers Online this past weekend. I am cautiously optimistic about the program, while mildly frustrated already, but I’ll give it a shot.  While I get used to the points and what is what, I went hunting for recipes that were already calculated for me. Anything to get past the barrier of keeping track!

I mentioned on Twitter that I had planned out 5 meals* and people wanted me to share, and as promised. Here we are. I am also keeping a Pinterest board here if you’d like to follow what I’ve got my eye on.

Source

Last night I made this Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Lasagna. At 8 points per serving I was SO pleasantly surprised by it.  I read all the reviews first, as I tend to do, and substituted some Worcestershire sauce for the diet cola because…yuck. No thank you. I also made sure to season each step of the way with salt and pepper as some reviewers thought it was bland. I used whole wheat lasagna noodles which brought the points to 7 and found it made 9 easy servings instead of 8 which brought it down to a further 6 points per serving. 

Tonight is this Cauliflower & Cashew Curry from Laaloosh with brown rice and steamed broccoli. I generally make my coconut milk curries with Thai curry pastes so I’m excited to give this a shot.  Even with brown rice it’ll keep the meal under 10 points which I think is pretty good. Leaves me room for chocolate!

Source

I have these Chickpea Burgers & Tomato Salad lined up for sometime this week with a side of Parmesan Green Bean Fries.  I’ll admit I’m far more excited about the green beans than I am about the burgers but I’m going to give them a try until I calculate my normal go-to burger recipes. The burger and salad is only 4 points while the green beans are 2 points per serving. I like things that let me get an extra helping if I’m still hungry.

I just got a burger press recently – Exciting, I know – so I figured this week would be a good chance to try it out with these Quinoa Veggie Burgers in addition to the others. I’m serving this with Skinny Scalloped Potatoes and a green salad. The burgers are 3 points, the potatoes are 4 points per serving, add in the salad and it should be under 10 again. Not too shabby and hopefully satisfying!

Finally, I’ve got an actual Weight Watchers recipe for Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce from my Versatile Vegetarian cookbook that I love. I have edited the recipe to use quinoa noodles. If you haven’t tried GoGo Quinoa pasta – do it. SO delicious! It has a similar bite to wheat pasta which is unlike most gluten free options and a bonus of a little extra protein.   Since I edited the recipe and can’t even find a decent substitution online, you’re in luck! A disclaimer however, I have not tried this recipe yet. I’ve edited it in my head and have it on the mealplan for sometime this week. It looks pretty standard though.  I’ll also add some steamed broccoli and baked soy-marinated tofu for protein.

Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce (7 points per serving)

6oz Quinoa spaghetti (I think Whole Wheat spaghetti might be less points, unsure)
2T white vinegar
2T smooth peanut butter
2tsp grated ginger
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Cook the pasta as directed, drain and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, oils, garlic, soy sauce and pepper flakes with 1 Tablespoon of water. Add the pasta and toss to coat. 

3. Add cucumber and red pepper, toss and sprinkle with scallions.  

Voila! There is my meal plan for the week!  Do you have any great Weight Watchers recipes or healthy recipes you love? What are YOU eating this week?

*This seems to be the appropriate number for me to plan, considering unplanned nights out and leftovers that won’t take over my apartment-sized fridge.

Begin at the Beginning

Apparently I started blogging back in 2003, when I was a very different person. I was in graduate school. I was in a relationship with a man who never said he loved me. I was binge eating and exercising to an unhealthy degree. I wasn’t happy.  I’m guessing I started blogging like most do, to just get their thoughts out there. Seems that’s what I did.

I started reading the old blog and while it was neat to see the ‘old Sarah’, a part of me felt…triggered? A lot of my past I really don’t want to see again. I just don’t want to. I’m not proud of some of the things, but mostly? It just feels like a really old, sad, confused me. It hurts me to see her struggle and to remember it. My brain has shut out some of those memories for a reason and while a walk down memory lane would be nice, I don’t think I’m ready just yet.  I’m just now coming into my own at almost 33, and I think it’s important for me to stay here in the present for a little while. To get comfortable, settle in; make a butt print on my seat before I delve into the 10 years before now. I think I need to honour that feeling in me for now. For now.

Fast forward a few years. I’m overweight and reading healthy living blogs like it’s my J.O.B. I dislike my job. It’s wearing me down and I’m looking for light.  I really did find the light, the hope, the potential in these HLBs.  I got the idea that I could succeed. That maybe, I could write too and share my information, my success and my passions with the world!  It took me a while after that to really get settled. It took Jennie asking me to write for Food Lush. It took me feeling confident before I started Fear No Food.

But I struggled to blog there. I wasn’t good at stopping the cooking process to take pictures. My pictures weren’t very good. I realized I was horrid at keeping track of what I dumped in the pot for dinner. Furthermore? I just…didn’t WANT to keep track.  Around this time I started feeling jaded about healthy living blogs and suddenly, my own words while genuine, felt crappy.  I wanted to share my life and loves with people. I wanted to help them succeed and be very honest and real. But this blog wasn’t it.

So I abandoned that one and hopped on over here! It’s new and I’m still getting settled here. I’m getting a few people to read what I say. I’m more open. Less composed. Less structured. I share more. I feel more comfortable immediately here which I think is a good sign.  That said – I hope you guys stick around to see what I do with the place!

(Thanks to Ginger for starting this Bring Back the Words prompts! I’m excited to participate and hope you’ll think of joining in. Writer’s block and anxiety be gone!! This is a post for Week 1.)

It Ain’t Easy

You know how the song goes.

It ain’t easy being green,
having to spend each day the colour of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow, or gold
Or something much more colourful like that 

Well. I often feel like this. While I appreciate the fact that I am highly sensitive and even empathic, sometimes it’s just freaking hard.  When I stop and think of the process I have to go through to communicate, to go out, to stay sane, I wish I were like everyone else. You know – normal.  I’m not saying that everyone doesn’t have it rough sometimes, or that it isn’t a really special thing for me sometimes, but in general? It’s a whole lot of crap that I have to deal with on a regular basis just to try and thrive. I don’t often talk about it or really even admit it because hell, it’s just what I do, but man I’m here to tell you it’s really tough sometimes.

Lately I’ve had a really hard time with my emotions.  I am quite emotional on a good day but recently I’m finding it harder and harder to be immune to other people’s emotions. So many friends, both local and internet friends, are struggling. Ill family. Sick pets. Struggling. In pain. Worried. Stressed. Hurting. Normally, I feel for people very deeply and want to do anything I can, but lately? Lately I’ve FELT those things. I know it seems crazy, but it’s really true. I’ve been having a hard time staying afloat myself with all the ups and downs.  I was in tears over a friend that was struggling this week. I paced and worried for a friend’s dog that was sick. While I want to reach out and hug everyone that is hurting – sometimes I just could use a hug myself. It’s just not always easy to admit just how hard I’m having it right now because it isn’t like this is a unique moment. This is just…me.

I’m dealing with some pretty serious personal stress these days which is often tough enough, but adding in the pain of the world? I’m just no contest to it. I’m crushed under the weight of the world lately, or that’s how it feels. I know it sounds dramatic but it is truly how it feels sometimes.  I wouldn’t want people to stop sharing, or stop leaning on me – quite the opposite, but sometimes I wonder how I’m going to keep going.  I don’t feel depressed really, just overwhelmed and exhausted.  Toss in there that apparently allergies have made an appearance in my body after years of being absent too. It is also hard for me to admit all this because well, children in Africa are starving. Friends have family members that are dying. Some people can’t get out of bed in the morning. CLEARLY, everyone else has it worse than I do so somehow that has bearing on whether or not it’s okay for me to suck too. I’m telling you, my head is awesome sometimes.

I keep referring to the “Spoon Theory” and depending on how stressed or emotional I am to start the day, I start with even fewer spoons. I’ve started calling it a Spoon Tax. The more weight that is on me, the more worry – the higher the spoon tax, which then leaves me with even fewer spoons to get through my day. Sometimes, I can borrow from the next day, but you see the problem with this I’m sure. How do I get through the next day?

It is making it difficult for me to get out and enjoy life.  I can’t run as many errands in a day as I used to or I get overwhelmed to the point of tears. I can’t shop a whole mall at once or by the end, I’m listless, exhausted and my head is throbbing. I try and plan a day out and a few hours in, I’m just done. I am struggling to deal with emotional and personal things, because I just can’t do it ALL in one day and I can’t stand to sink so low for so long.  It is making it even tougher than normal, to ignore the loud music from my upstairs neighbour (which had me so frustrated I was in tears two nights ago, at 11pm, in bed.) Making it harder to block out the smell of grilled meat from the side neighbour and even harder not to burst into tears when I hear a different upstairs neighbour screaming at his girlfriend at the top of his lungs at 3am, while I’m lying awake listening to it with a racing heart in fear. Everything affects me lately, so deeply, like a cut that you can’t see the true depth. It seems crazy, but it really is the truth, friends.

It’s really frustrating to have to split your needs up, because of how few spoons you have.  I can accept that I am highly sensitive, that I am processing more information all the time in general. I can even see it as a special and good thing a lot of the time, but I can’t say that it isn’t exhausting and frustrating. I can’t say that I don’t get foot-stomping mad about it some days. That some days, I just don’t feel special but I feel fragile, delicate and weak.  I feel incapable. I feel agitated and restless. I feel…stupid. It’s like watching your friends playing outside, and you just want to run and join them but surprise! You can’t. So, you sit inside and hurt, cry, and wish you could be like all the rest of the kids.

Now I know I’m not stupid, but sometimes I just feel it. Like – get a grip Sarah. Stop feeling emotions. Stop feeling so much all the time. The truth is, I just can’t stop it. If I could, I really would. I would give just about anything to be like everyone else some days. I really would. But…this is how I’m made and lately it just ain’t easy.