I, like many others out there, have spent years inspecting and criticizing every inch of my body. My forehead is too big. My skin is too bumpy. My calves are too chunky. I even criticize my body when it is in pain (talk about kicking her when she’s down). I’d have a headache or a cold or sore knees and all I could think about was how defective and weak my body is. How wimpy and pathetic a body I have! I will admit, I have been incredibly cruel to my body. I have been destructive and nasty. I have said things to her I would never say to anyone else in a million years. And throughout it all my body would only say in reply, “I still love you.” You see, you can hate your body all you want, but your body will always love you. No matter how mean you are to her she will still try to clot your cuts, nourish you, and even try to keep you cool on hot days. She will try to get rid of the toxic stuff you don’t need, and she will try her damndest to heal you. Your body wants you to survive. She’s an optimist. Even when you are calling her trash, or treating her terribly, she will try, try, try. My body is my biggest fan. If she was a soccer mom she’d be the one at the game with face painted and a huge poster saying, “You can do it!” If I fail a test or do something I’m not proud of, she’s still there plugging away for me. Our bodies may be the only true source of unconditional love out there. So, maybe, let’s show our bodies some love now and then. Treat her to a nice meal. Take your vitamins. Get a good night’s rest. Or at least stop berating her for a day. Remember: Your body loves you, even when you don’t love her.
Mike and I have wanted to make our own ramen for some time now. We finally tried our hand at it this weekend, and it was so good and surprisingly easy. We used a combination of this recipe from BBC Good Food, this recipe from Japanese Cooking 101, and little bit of our own ingenuity. I’m not sure how authentic it is, but it was so awesome we didn’t really care. Here’s what we did:
For the broth:
3 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed ginger
4 garlic cloves, halved
Dash of chilli powder
Few spoons green onions, chopped
Few spoons of sugar (to taste – depending on the saltiness of the broth)
Toss all ingredients in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. While thats simmering, cook up two portions of ramen noodles. Now the fun part! Add whatever veggies and protein you’d like. For ours, we blanched some swiss chard and bean sprouts, and fried up some shrimp and mushrooms. We then topped the whole thing off with a boiled egg and some green onions. When your broth is done, ladle it into two bowls and divide the noodles. Then add in the veggies and protein, and you’re done!
Move over pumpkin spice, I’ve got a new obsession this fall.
Hello, long-ignored followers! We’re sorry for being absent (well, mostly I am – it’s all my fault) but we do have an update for you. After an extended period of painting, sawing, staining, gluing, wiring, and bargain-hunting, I finally have a fully functional office space (and spare bedroom). Here are some shots of the final product. Highlights include: a stylish and functional bike rack, a custom-built desk with height and angle adjustment, an assortment of lights for any task, an industrial rolling storage rack, a wall for our degree collection, and sturdy, second-hand seating. I’m still working on an overall picture – it’s hard to get everything in there!
One of our favourite parts of a St. John’s summer is Eastern Edge’s Art Marathon Festival, so named for a 24-hour marathon of art-making that’s been taking place for more than 15 years. Since its inception, the marathon has expanded into nearly a week of activities: workshops, performances, talks, and installations. This year, the organizers accepted submissions for a festival zine entitled Sweet Tooth, centered around themes of indulgence, sweetness, and excess. I didn’t have anything to submit at the time, but thanks to Katie’s collection of vintage magazines and a stroke of inspiration, I managed to put a few arrangements together. When I finally picked up a copy I was surprised to see both my submissions on a great two-page spread! While I get the feeling there were few (if any) rejections, it does feel good to see your work in print.
This is my little temporary workspace. It’s in our cozy kitchen, close to the coffee pot and the snack cupboard. Mike and I moved our small kitchen table out, and he’s letting me use his drafting table. On it are my paints, pens, pencils, paper, drawing tablet, computer, and a DIY lightbox Mike made for me (isn’t he the best?). I’ve made a pretty nice space for myself, I’ve got all the supplies I need, and I even have a few clever ideas, but there’s one big problem – I’m terrible at art.
Let me rephrase, I feel like I’m terrible at art, or anything even remotely creative. I love making things, creating, but whenever I do I’m incredibly judgemental of what I’ve made. I look at so many amazing artists and think, “My stuff is total crap compared to that!” I haven’t been drawing/painting for long, but I already expect myself to be as good as my favourite artists.
It’s hard to be “bad” at something you love (“bad” being completely subjective). Sure, you know you’ll get the hang of it over time, but the practicing phase sucks. Sometimes I feel like practicing is just an exercise in failure. And after so many failures, I don’t even want to try anymore.
When art started to become a chore to me, something to avoid, I was pretty bummed out. What happened? What changed? I realized I had made the end results more important than the process. I cared more about what I produced rather than my experience producing it. You know that quote about the journey being more important than the destination? I think that applies here.
My new motto? It’s okay to be bad. Being bad is better than avoiding something you love for fear of failure. Eventually you’ll get there. Enjoy it for what it is. Be kind to yourself.
Mike and I used to go out to breakfast/brunch at least once a week. It was one of our favourite traditions. At one particular diner in Halifax (The Armview) we became regulars, coming by each week to order a benny and drink cup after cup of hot coffee. When we left for St. John’s we had to say goodbye to The Armview. We thought about trying to find a similar spot here, but ultimately decided we would turn our kitchen into our new favourite diner. This fit well with our journey to a simpler life, and we were both excited to try out some new recipes. So far we’ve made our own bagels, granola, and yogurt. We’ve also learned how to properly poach an egg and make a killer hollandaise. It’s a limited menu I admit, but our kitchen is the only spot in town that knows just how I like my bagels toasted, or just how much maple syrup Mike likes in his granola (hint: it’s a lot).
I think change comes easiest when it’s incremental – little modifications here and there that build up over time. Mike and I are pretty realistic when it comes to our journey to a simpler life. Sure, we’d love to go out and buy a smoker and start making our own bacon, but we’ll probably have more success with our lifestyle change if we start small.
The first thing I did was buy some local produce. I didn’t venture out to any farmer’s markets (although that is on the list), just my usual grocery store. They had a very limited selection of local veggies, but when I found these beautiful turnips I couldn’t resist. I decided to make a turnip puree, using this simple recipe that only uses a few ingredients (turnips, milk, water, a little olive oil, S+P). It was so good. Like, I may never need mashed potatoes again, good. A big thank you to Peachytown Farms – your turnips are the tops!
Another small change Mike and I made was to quit our Starbucks habit. Only homemade lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, canadianas, and iced coffees from now on! We may have to dust off this old recipe from the bar and bean archives.
Lastly, we tried our hand at bread baking. Mike has made bread before, but I never have. In the spirit of starting small, we used a no-knead recipe. I’ll admit, it was kind of annoying having to wait 12+ hours for it to rise (I wanted bread NOW), but well worth it. Just the smell of fresh bread baking in the house made up for the wait.
It’s only week 1, but so far so good. We’re both happy with the progress. Small steps can lead to great, big things.
Mike and I decided to take this summer off. No work, no school, just rest, relaxation, and reflection. I’m a big proponent of self-care, and I honestly think this is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for ourselves. After graduation, we were both burnt out. We knew we needed to take some time off to get healthy – mind, body, and soul.
With the freedom I have allowed myself this summer, I have had a lot of time to think. Quiet contemplation and introspection has led me to examine my life and the ways in which I interact with the world. I’ve taken time to identify the values important to me, and my relationships with others, nature, and material goods. I’ve developed a sort of personal mission statement or manifesto. One that helps me remember what is important to me, and the impact I’d like to have on this world.
One of the (many) things I took away from this exercise was that I wasn’t happy with the relationship I had to material things. There was too much mindless consumption, too much spending/use without connection, too much baseless desire (which often fed into jealousy and unhappiness). I shared my thoughts with Mike, and he felt a lot of the same things I did. We had long conversations about sustainability, community, and living a more mindful life. What is this all leading up to, you ask? Good question.
You’ll see some changes on the bar and bean as we move towards realigning our life with our values. Expect more of a focus on homemade, handmade, and local (we already do this to some extent, but we’d like to do so even more). We promise things won’t get preachy. This isn’t a platform for us to tell anyone how to live their life. You do you. All we’d like to do is share our journey.
We’ve got lots of ideas and plans, like transitioning to from-scratch bread, roll, and pastry baking, urban foraging, meat and fish curing, beer brewing, furniture building, wool sock knitting, etc, etc, etc.
Ambitious? You betcha. Worth a shot? We certainly think so.