Haha…I saw this picture this morning on my Facebook timeline. Mercury is no longer retrograde. Let the computer Gods rejoice.
The Mercury retrograde phenomenon – for me at least – is an actual thing. The day Mercury went retrograde (August 30th) my internet went on the fritz and my phone pretty much bit the biscuit. Throughout this retrograde, a tech project I’ve been working on has caused me many bangs of my head against the desk.
In Astrology, Mercury surrounds communication, travel, thought and logic. When it goes retrograde (the illusion of it moving backwards, even though it just slows down a ton), it has been known to snarl otherwise harmonious plans and communications.
And of course, it’s handy to have a planet to yell at when the internet goes down.
Mercury goes retrograde again on December 19th, 2016.
What shifts do you notice in a Mercury retrograde period?
Howdy, my hot, hot friends. Has it been hot enough for you? Where I am, yes, thank you. I believe I’m fully sauna detoxed at this point. This summer where I am (Ontario) it’s been hot, hot and freakin’ hot. I’ve been religiously throwing cold damp facecloths in the fridge to have handy and it’s proven to be a valuable little hack if I do say so myself.
I always have in stock about 30 facecloths – mostly those baby facecloths as I use them to remove make up, etc. and they are pretty gentle and soft. I also get plain white ones from Dollarama and have given up on using my nice ones unless company is staying over…I’m tired of having to chuck the expensive ones in the trash due to my mascara issues.
Every evening before bed, I take a couple of clean cloths, dampen them with cool water, wring them out well (don’t let them sit in a pile of water), and stack them on a side plate in the fridge for a few hours to get cool. The plate conducts the cold better than a ziplock or Tupperware container. Cold showers are always useful, but sometimes you just need a quick, portable cool down.
Ways I use my cold cloths in the summer:
Seriously, just to cool the eff down…forehead, back of neck, boobs….whatever…it’s hot.
On my eyeballs for 10 minutes in the morning.
On my face after my shower and before primer/make up…to close pores and un-swell.
On areas where I’ve got too much sun.
Great for cooling/wiping off when coming in from yard work/gardening/running/other sweaty activity.
On the back of my neck when I’m blowdrying my hair – this activity has the potential to actually spontaneously ignite my body…cold cloths help.
For kids when they have had a bit too much heat/sun/excitement or to bring fevers down.
I make sure to have a few to start with so I can toss one’s that I’ve used directly in the laundry (which is why I always have a lot). Only put clean cloths in the fridge. I also wouldn’t let them sit for days…although they are in cooler temps so undesirable bacterial growth would be slow but you just don’t even want to play with that…they will also slowly dry up. Throw a few in the fridge before bed or in the morning when you are fixing your coffee/tea/bong hit.
Weekends over here are usually for cleaning, laundry, working in the garden and organizing household stuff (haha, I lie about that last one – mostly). As I whip up my usual batch of cheap and natural cleaners to tackle this place, I thought I would share my favourite DIY cleaner recipe with you.
I’ve been using essential oils and creating my own cleaners since 2001 when I was pregnant with my daughter and wanted to start making my own soap. (I was obviously pregnant and insane…soap is super time consuming and slightly technical to make..somehow at the time it was a fabulous idea). I kept making cleaners over the years though because of how easy and natural they are.
This is an abrasive-like cleaner (I hate that word…it reminds me of … ahem….a few people…), but it’s totally safe and gentle…both in toxicity and on your fixtures. Why I love it:
Fabulous on baked-on stove and microwave disasters
Smells lovely – baking soda, citrus + tea tree oils fight and neutralize odours
Non-toxic, environment approves!
The tea tree oil in this recipe is a must due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Citrus not only smells lovely but also offers its own effective cleaning power.
I’m in LOOOOVE with citrus-mint essential oil blends right now. They smell amazingly clean and fresh and yummy. I’ve added a touch of spearmint to this recipe which is a sweeter, milder smelling mint and it’s heavenly.
Trash the Comet or Vim and use this stuff instead. (Breathing in Comet dust, ummm, no thanks…it’s FULL of toxic chemicals).
The recipe below covers a double sink in the kitchen and 1 full bathroom (tub +tile, toilet bowl and sink + surround). Double or triple the recipe as needed. I also get my baking soda in bulk which makes this even more cost effective. The mixture will separate slightly when it sits, just give it a quick stir.
Natural Household Scrubby Cleaner Recipe
In a jar or container, mix up:
1/4 cup of baking soda
1 tbsp natural dishwashing liquid
5 drops of tea tree oil
10 drops of citrus essential oil (I use a blend but straight lemon, orange or grapefruit would work as well)
2 drops of spearmint essential oil (I’m in LOVE with the citrus/mint blend)
1 tbsp of water
Mix with a spoon.
Splatter the mixture on the area to clean
With a clean, damp cloth, clean/scrub areas as usual
This summer I’ve signed up for a CSA-type of program with a local farmer. Every Wednesday, I’ve been receiving a box of goodies on my doorstep with fresh, local, organic veggies and a selection of local organic meats. I live in a smaller town where local and organic at the supermarket (believe it or not) are hard to come by.
The fun thing that I am enjoying the most is that although I know what veggies I’m getting in advance, is the meat delivery is always a surprise. He packs in all sorts of cuts that I wouldn’t ever think to purchase myself, which gets my new recipe testing skills out from the cobwebs and gets us trying new things. Last week I made Schnitzel which I don’t even think I’ve ever eaten before. It was fantastic! (Made a gluten free option with gluten free breadcrumbs and flour, and the Schnitzel recipe I used is here).
It’s a surprise – like Christmas on my doorstep every freakin’ Wednesday! It even gets dropped off in a cute tote.
We received lots of beautiful greens and radishes and potatoes and such as well as a variety of beef and pork in this round.
This weekend, my own veggie garden is going to get planted as well, so abundance of lots of gorgeous, organic food this summer! This stuff makes my heart happy, folks.
What have you had success with in your veggie garden? Do you sign up for a CSA in the warmer months?
At the time I am writing this, it’s a glorious “May Two-Four” long weekend here in Ontario (after a particularly dreary, long winter). I’m in a motorhome drinking a decaf and Kahlua (long weekend, hello), and getting ready to head out in the sunshine and breathe in some campfire smoke and exhaust fumes (I’m at a speedway).
It’s really glorious though.
Yesterday, I spend the day in the garden and overhauled two of my front beds.
This time away is particularly lovely because I live and breathe my business 24/7. I’m always thinking, strategizing and tweaking, even if I’m not “working. Right now I’m in the midst of creating new products, services and a website overhaul. I work weekends a lot. Sometimes my brain gets tired. To say I’m mildly obsessed probably hits it on the head. But I think this actually creates a problem: I believe you can be obsessed to the point of not making any forward movement. Like divots. Divots in your brain. Like when you’re looking for the same thing over and over again…only to find it an hour later immediately when you’ve come back from a break.
It’s not ‘forward moving’ when your brain cells are frizzled on the same thing over and over. As much as we would like to think it’s best strategy, I believe it has the opposite effect.
Taking two days away (still one to go, yo) and I’m already feeling energized. Yesterday my whole focus was landscape fabric and moving rocks. Today, I’ve got myself an “O” magazine for some mindless entertainment and feel good shit between the excitement of road racing. Then I might drink a beer and have a nap.
It’s already created space in my brain and made space for those divots to fill themselves in.
Morning routines of different successful people and creatives is been something I’ve always been curious about. I like to seek out articles about routines and study them. Look for comparisons. Try something new. Imitate a routine – try it on for size. Keep what fits, toss what doesn’t.
A few years ago, I wrote about my morning routine as it was at a time when I was consciously carving out a specific “power hour” time in the morning (I really hate that term, but it fits). Time for me. Prep my day. Create the plan. Connect with the Universe…yadda yadda. Over the last few years as I have grown to know myself more and more, it couldn’t help but evolve.
Right now my routine is more flexible. I’m someone who enjoys routine AND spontaneity (impossible?). Also being someone who isn’t the most…shall we say, quick to get moving in the morning…I need something that is flexible but also reaps many benefits. I have several things that my current morning routine consists of – only a few that are set in stone – and I take or leave the rest. No guilt. No pressure.
The common thread to my mornings is that: 1. They are spiritual. 2. They are easy. 3. They are setting myself up to have the most successful day possible. 4. Email/social media isn’t part of the plan (this drains my morning mojo almost instantaneously). It’s time to focus on my goals, my body and my spirit. To get into alignment about what’s important to me that day.
One Simple Morning Game Changer
One thing that has taken my mornings to a new level of greatness, is that I wake up a lot earlier. I am not
a morning person by nature, but a few months ago as an experiment, I invested in this wake-up light alarm clock. My iPhone does not come into my bedroom anymore as it’s such a huge distraction! Checking email and Instagram first thing in the morning is a recipe for a shit day.
So this wake up light, wakes you up gradually with a simulated, lighted sunrise. Then pops on music, or birds chirping or whatever froo-froo happy sound you choose, at the time you actually want to get up. I am a heavy morning sleeper and I have to say this gentle light has worked to wake me up every morning since I purchased it. It’s an easy wake up. It’s not jarring or annoying, and as I used it more, I experimented with earlier and earlier times, all with success. So then the earlier I get up the more time I have to linger on the things below.
My Current Morning Routine (roughly…with room and permission to flex)
5:15am – Wake-up light comes on and slowly gets brighter
5:45am – Music comes on, by this time I’m usually awake. I lay in bed and meditate and release anything that is concerning me.
6am – Wash face, brush teeth, get gym clothes on that have been picked the night before*. Make a lemon water and grab a banana for the ride to the gym.
6:20 – Most mornings now since my daughter is older, I head to the gym. I feel and work so much better after a work out. This is a static part of my routine unless there is a super valid reason why I can’t go (sick, dead).
7:30 – Home. Make tea and breakfast (I tend to at least figure out breakfast in my head the night before, prep it if I’m being a super adult). This is where my options come in. I then do one, two or several of the following (depending on what I really need, and how much time I have before I need to be in the shower):
8:10 – Shower + Podcast. I use my shower time to listen to whatever Podcast I fancy that day (money, Tim Ferriss, leadership, online marketing, astrology).
9am – Out the door or at my desk. Some days I drive my daughter and her posse to high school. Most days I’m a working nomad and work in cute cafe’s or other creative entrepreneurial gathering places.
*Life hack to get your ass to the gym.
Occasionally things don’t go as planned, but that’s life and I let that shit go. I get back on track the next day. Another thing that has been helpful is keeping things really simple in the mornings. I pick from a few simple breakfasts to make – enough that there is variety but nothing that requires a lot of effort or decision making. I try and pick out clothes the night before. I also create lists of what I may need to bring with me the next day.
Hi Loves. Just back from a whirlwind few days in Las Vegas. I haven’t been to Vegas since I may or may not have tied the knot there many, many moons ago (oops). I wasn’t going for a do-over. Just a last minute “hey wanna go to Vegas?” style of trip. I expected nothing. I got fabulous.
It’s changed in the last 13 years – more hotels, it seemed classier and it’s helluva lot of fun. I didn’t gamble at all. I was too busy eating and drinking to think about it. You definitely don’t have to be a gambler to enjoy this city.
Highlights of Vegas I enjoyed muchly:
Nobu in Caesars Palace. Sushi/Japanese, fresh, impeccable service and awesome food. Do the Chef’s Menu if possible. So yum. You’ll enjoy flavours and things you probably wouldn’t think to try. *mouth waters*
Harley over (or car) to the Hoover Dam and Red Rock. Wish we had more time to hike and explore Red Rock. We did the Hoover Dam tour…this is an timeless engineering wonder, and take in some of the art-deco (love) style buildings! Recommended to do once in your life.
Our hotel, The Cosmopolitan. Lovely, trendy and awesome. It was hard to go home to my dinky cottage. Uh….and they had colouring pencils IN MY ROOM for my colouring book issues. It’s like they fucking knew me.
The Secret Pizza resto in the Cosmo. Yes, a secret restaurant! This makes me feel like a special agent of something. To keep it’s secret integrity – and my imagined agent status, I’m only going to say it’s on the third floor. (Although you can really find it’s location all over the interweb). A slice from this place is just what the doctor ordered the day after the night before.
My liver and stomach needed a few full days to recover from this trip, i’m not going to lie. But it was all worth it. One thing that really stood out was the standard of service in this town. Impeccable. They have it nailed. I am making a point to go back very soon. This trip was very much about the food and drink…I’d like to explore the entertainment scene and catch a show the next time.
What are your favourite spots in Vegas? What do you recommend?
And it not only serves as a way to use up bones that would normally be discarded, but also provides our guts, systems, bodies with some fabulous nutrition.
I was discussing bone broth (naturally) with my Naturopath recently who said the broth has been prescribed by Chinese Medicine practitioners for centuries due to the healing and blood building properties. It’s also said to boost your Qi (which is “vital energy”). Here, Margarita Alcantara does an excellent job at explaining this.
I always have a supply of bone broth on hand both in the freezer and in the fridge. Like stock, I use my broth to create the base for soups (hello, cold winters night, French Onion and a full-bodied red). Or on its own as a warm, comforting elixir in a mug. I get my bones cheaply and easily from the local butcher. I buy a bag for broth and a bag for the dog. (Please only raw beef bones for the pups). I buy usually beef for bone broth, sometimes chicken and they are anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00/bag depending on what’s in them. I also like to utilize the chicken carcass when I roast a whole chicken for dinner. If I’m not up to making a broth the next day, I’ll freeze the carcass and add in some chicken necks and feet from the butcher.
Amino Acids (such as proline, glycine, glutamine) – Essential in breaking down food, repairing body tissue and supporting metabolism. These are building blocks of a healthy body.
Bone Broth – Make it Easy and Helpful Tips
Since I subscribe to the KISS principle as much as possible, I don’t want you doing much unnecessary work or digging. I’ve put my best tried and true methods for making a bone broth here:
Use a crockpot for bone broth due to the long cooking time. You can leave the house and not worry about it being on the stove. The bigger the better, baby.
Roast the bones and veggies before putting them in the crockpot. (About an hour for a big beef bone, adjust cooking times for smaller bones.
You need to use an acid to leech the minerals out of the bones. The best thing for this is raw, organic apple cider vinegar, like Braggs.
My secret trick with the vinegar is to de-glaze the roasting pan after I’ve roasted the bones and veggies. As the acid helps pull up some of the flavourful fats and sugars up from the pan that have been baked on.
Your house will smell weird while the broth is “brewing”. Warning if you plan on having company. It’s not foul but it’s not like chocolate chip cookies either.
For times when you are not “brewing”, keep a Pyrex container in the freezer to throw in clean veggie scraps that can go into your broth as you are creating other meals. The more the merrier.
I may add a teensy bit of salt but I leave it out mostly, and salt per individual use afterwards.
I sometimes add a red pepper towards the end which adds a bit of rich sweetness.
Make your bone broth however you want to. Play and experiment. I would suggest avoiding cruciferous veggies like cabbage and broccoli as they can make the broth bitter.
Good Vegetables/Herbs for Bone Broth
Fresh Thyme Sprigs
Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
Garlic (added almost at done)
Red Pepper (roasted, added at almost done)
Bones from beef, chicken, lamb.
Low N’ Slow 72 Hour Bone Broth
Large beef marrow bone
4 to 5 large carrots, washed, ends trimmed, cut in half
4 to 5 celery stalks, washed ends trimmed, cut in half
Large white onion, quartered
Fresh thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
Red pepper, quartered
Preheat the oven to 375. In a large baking dish, arrange cut vegetables and bone (I sometimes place the bone on top of the vegetables.
Throw in the oven for 1 hour.
Once roasted, transfer the bone and veggies into the crockpot.
Add apple cider vinegar to the baking dish and let sit for a few minutes. With a spatula scrape any of the leftovers from the baking dish (fat, caramelized carrots/onions, etc.)
Pour the vinegar into the crockpot.
Add fresh time sprigs.
Pour water to just cover the bones, turn on low for 24 to 72 hours.
At hour 71 or so, add quarter roasted red pepper.
Once done, cool to room temp and using a ladle and sieve, pour into tempered glass containers for freezing.
In my 7qt crockpot, I’m able to yield about 15 cups of bone broth.
You’re Super Bowl food prepping. I have an idea for you.
Who doesn’t love fresh, hot sourdough out of the oven? Then add chili, cheese, some sour cream and you have a hearty, tummy-filling meal that combines beautiful fresh bread with a football staple – chili. AND you can prep ahead which suits me fine. Oh, and it goes perfectly with cold beer.
Full disclosure that this is the cheaters version of sourdough. If you are lucky enough to have a sourdough starter hanging around…then please, for crying out loud, mail me some and use it for this recipe. If not, I promise you this still tastes like perfect sourdough and your Super Bowl guests will think you’re fucking amazing. Plus it’s ridiculously easy.
This recipe uses my 2 most used kitchen gadgets: my $10 VarageSale bread maker and my 7-Quart Slow Cooker (which takes the prize for most used around here). If you don’t have either, my love, feel free to improvise with a shorter cooking time version of chili on the stove and a stand mixer, should you have one. By the way, I never use my bread maker for actually baking the bread. But it does a perfect job of mixing, kneading and rising.
Also, I’m including my go-to chili recipe below, but feel free to substitute for your own…or use mine on it’s own or go bananas with creativity.
Brooke’s Vegetarian Chili Recipe
1 can of whole tomatoes
1 can of black beans – rinsed and drained
1 can of kidney beans – rinsed and drained
1 can of baked beans in tomato sauce
1/4 cup of chopped white onion (I use pre-chopped)
1 green pepper – chopped
1 red pepper – chopped
4 cups of mushrooms, quartered
2 3/4 cups of tomato sauce
1/4 cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
4 cloves of garlic – crushed
1 tbsp of chili powder
1/2 tbsp of cumin
2 tsp of sea salt (or more or less to taste)
1/4 smokey hickory BBQ sauce
1 tbsp hot pepper sauce (I use Bajan hot pepper sauce)
1 tsp cilantro paste
Shredded cheese, optional for garnish
Sour cream, optional for garnish
Fresh cilantro leaves, optional for garnish
In a large crockpot add in the can of whole tomatoes and crush with a potato masher to desired consistency.
Add in all the beans, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Stir until combined.
Turn the crockpot on low before adding the remaining ingredients.
Cook low and slow for 6 to 8 hours.
Easy Mini Sourdough Bowls
(Makes 4 Bowls)
1 1/2 cups of water
4 cups of Breadmachine Sourdough Mix – I purchased mine at Bulk Barn, plus a handful for working with
2 tsp of yeast
Put all of the ingredients in the bread machine and start the dough/pasta setting.
Once the dough is complete through the dough cycle of the bread machine, lightly flour a clean surface with the remaining mix.
Preheat oven to 375.
Divide and cut the dough into 4 even sections and gently round the tops and sides.
Transfer onto lightly floured cookie sheet or stone baking sheet (I use my pizza stone but a regular ol’ cookie sheet works just as well).
With a sharp knife, cut in a tic-tac-toe design on the top of each loaf.
Since every oven is different, I toss mine in and set the timer for 18 minutes. Check on them in 5 minute intervals after that. They are done just when the crust turns a golden colour.
Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
Now, create the masterpiece:
Once the bowls are touchy-cool, take a bread knife and chop the “tops” off. You will want to ensure that you have enough room in the bowl for chili (read: don’t cut the top too low). Set aside those tops…they’re good for cheesy dippin’. You’re also going to want to scoop out the middle of the bowls too. Give someone the special job of eating this goodness with butter. YUM.
Put the scooped out bowls back on the baking sheet and hit BROIL on the oven. High broil if your oven has that feature. Scoop the chili into each of the bowls, top with shredded cheese and top the “tops” with shredded cheese. Throw into the oven for about 3-4 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly.
Once they come out, transfer to a plate and garnish with sour cream and fresh cilantro if you’d like.
I split up my leftover chili and freeze for different, quick weeknight meals like chili nachos, or chili sausages…or just plain chili. You could throw the remainder on some nacho chips with cheese for a second Super Bowl munchie.
Is anyone else secretly happy the holidays are over?
We all have our baggage over the “warm and cozy” times. I suspect I’m not alone. Family, excessive consumption and no schedule. Sounds like fun…but I felt like a bag of shit when it was all over.
I realized this year more than ever, that without a routine I kind of flail around without direction. I think I secretly like having a routine and although the goal was to blob around for 10 days…I actually didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I thought I would.
Maybe that’s the point though. Maybe the point is to go back and appreciate your routine…as mundane as you think it is sometimes. Or maybe I’m becoming a sheep. I’ll have to let you know.
I thought I’d pop in and post since we’re all reflecting on the closing out of 2015. I’ve been hasty with my reflection because I’m headed out on a 2016 solo planning retreat in the upcoming weeks and wanted to save ALL the reflection for my journal by the fire. But it is a good time to take stock of the previous year, and I was thinking this morning about the memorable moments of 2015.
If I had to give 2015 a label it would be “Lessons”. It was neither good nor bad. I learned many things about myself, my business and the people around me that will help me propel a little bit (or a lot) deeper in 2016.
Some of the really cool things that happened in 2016 were: first time visits to British Columbia and Saskatchewan (I could probably reasonably not go back to Saskatchewan ever again…in the winter) and my first 2 flights in a DHC-2 Beaver!!! It was fucking awesome.
I also had the opportunity to hang with Canadian music icons The Tragically Hip after watching an awesome concert just a few feet away from Gord Downey…if you are Canadian you know what impact they have had on our culture in Canada. I watched more car races and inhaled more fumes than I ever thought I would….and I actually enjoyed most of it. I had my bathroom overhauled in my cottage…goodbye turn of the century claw-foot tub! (It’s for sale if anyone wants it).
I developed some new kick-ass friendships and got into serious partnerships and collaborative journey’s with a few clients.
Also had a bit of turnover in my business, which at the time was super stressful but in hind sight for the better. Course correct and move forward. I learned to really listen to my gut and my intuition when it comes to the integrity of other people, which is many times painful, but it always works itself out at the end of the day.
Give people what they deserve…either a lot or a little.
I’ve drifted away from a few people…kind of like the surf…not because of anything bad or wrong, but just because now is not our time. Perhaps it will be again soon.
I cut off shitty friendships…because nobody has time for that.
I learned that love gets packaged in different ways. And that it’s better to be open to different packaging than only focusing on how you think it should look.
I learned that money will respect you if you respect it. I learned that I get what I ask for. I learned that I need to improve in a few areas such as my expectations of people and my time management. I learned that I feel better when I get enough sleep and my body STILL doesn’t like caffeine. Or sugar.
I learned that it feels really, really good to give.
And so moving into 2016 and my planning retreat in a few weeks, I feel so open for things to come. Almost without exceptions but with an excited anticipation that really, without it being New Years, it’s a clean slate for me to design whatever my heart desires.
And that’s fucking cool.
And here…I bring you my second annual More/Less list (because resolutions are silly):