35 Days of Favorites Winner!

Today is a good day.

I’m wearing a new pair of shorts. I accomplished the impossible yesterday, and found a pair that actually fit just the way I want them to. (Actually, I should probably give the credit to my friend Sarah, who will be my personal shopper from now on.)

I’m eating chips for breakfast. (That’s for all of you who think I’m too healthy.) My green smoothie just wasn’t filling me up enough!

I’m packing up for the cabin, and we’re celebrating my birthday there this weekend.

canoe

A friend I haven’t seen in years is visiting Manitoba, and is coming over this afternoon.

And…we’re finished 35 Days of Favorites! I get to announce a winner, and then we can return to normal blogging, which I’m looking forward to.

So. I’m pretty excited about today’s winner, because she really, really deserves to be the winner! She has entered every contest I’ve ever had on this blog, and has written the most comments for Days of Favorites, both this year and last year.

She is also a continual source of encouragement to me, both with blogging, and many other things in my life, so it’s fun to be able to give her a prize! 🙂 (Although I would have fun giving any of you a prize!)

The random number generator has decided that Chantelle Falk is this year’s winner!

Thanks so much for all of your comments, Chantelle! I’ll be getting your prize to you soon!

And thanks to everybody else for all of your kind words, lovely comments, and birthday wishes.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll see you on Monday. Time for me to go party.

35 Days of Favorites: Some Things Never Change

I was trying to figure out what favorite to write about today, on the last day of Favorites, the day of my birthday. I had a different post written up, but when it came down to it, I realized that I couldn’t skip over these favorites in my life:

girlsBen and meOh, I love my family. I am so very thankful for them, and for all the love and laughter and every other good thing they bring into my life. They are always the best part of each and every year, no matter what new things I might find or experience.

And I’m also very thankful for all of you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little list of favorites.

As I wrap up this year’s edition of Days of Favorites, I want to say this:

Be intentional about being joyful. If you are unhappy, figure out why. And then do something about it. Don’t sit around waiting for other people to make you happy.

Think about what you truly love. Look for joy in the small things. And then make those small things happen regularly.

I came across this quote the other day:

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Dr. Wayne Dyer)

And when you go looking for joy and beauty, you will find so much more than if you sit around waiting for it to come to you.

Maybe some of my favorite things were silly. Maybe I made a big deal about something really small. But my life has gotten so much better since I started noticing.

But as much as I find joy in the small things, I need to also say that finding joy in the things that last is even more important. Make a big deal about the little things, but keep them little.

That’s what I’ve learned this year. (Some of it, at least!)

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment, and share your own favorites with me. That is always the best part of this.

*You have all day today to make comments on any 35 Days of Favorites post, and I will announce the winner tomorrow.

35 Days of Favorites: Restaurants

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

Our friends introduced us to Taco Del Mar this spring, and my life will never be the same.

I LOVE Mexican food.

I also love having someone else make my food for me, but there are very, very few cheap, fast restaurants that serve anything I can eat, because of diet restrictions.

But Taco Del Mar has saved me!

Taco Del Mar

AND…kids eat free on Sundays! Even better! Our girls will be completely sick of Mexican food long before they’re adults.

For those of you who haven’t tried eating at Taco Del Mar, you most definitely should. It’s like Subway, but with tacos.

Taco Del Mar

So delicious.

tacos

If we’re going for something slightly classier than Taco Del Mar, my other favorite would have to be Mongo’s. Make your own stir-fry.

That’s just wonderful with me, because I love stir-fry, and I also love not having to order in a restaurant. With all my silly food restrictions, ordering at a restaurant is a huge pain. Everyone always wants to try to understand what exactly my food issues are. Since that’s fairly complicated, and I barely understand it myself, I really, really don’t like trying to explain it to some random stranger I will never see again.

Mongo’s is simple. You grab your little bowl, wander through the display of chopped veggies that are so colorful and beautiful, it just makes you want to eat super healthy, pick out anything and everything that appeals to you, and then get in line to have your food cooked.

The only time you have to talk to anyone is to tell them if you want your meat and veggies on top of rice or pasta. That’s it! The perfect dining experience, in my opinion. The only way it could be improved on would be if I could go into a restaurant, they could read my mind, and what I most wanted to eat would magically appear at the table, without me needing to talk to anyone, OR having to get it ready myself.

There’s a date idea for Ben – order for me as a surprise.

What’s your favorite restaurant to eat at?

35 Days of Favorites: Finishing Projects.

This post is part of a series called “35 Days of Favorites”, in honor of my 35th birthday. You can read more about the details here

I am much, much better at starting projects than finishing them.

For example. Remember this?

entrance after

I started that project last summer, and I only needed to do a few small things to finish it up – buy picture frames, have photos printed, sew some cushion covers, find a plant pot, but…it took me an entire year to get around to it!

Oops.

That kind of thing happens often around here. There’s probably some deep, mind-blowing, psychological reason for why I avoid following through on the projects I start, but I have no clue what it is.

In the meantime, whenever I do finish something, IT FEELS AMAZING!!

I love it. And then I get super-motivated to…start a whole bunch more projects. Which I don’t finish. Oh, dear.

Anyway, I finally finished last summer’s project, and it makes me really, really happy. It feels good to be done.

entrance

Do you have any projects you need to finish? What shall we accomplish today?!:)

*You have until Thursday to enter the 35 Days of Favorites draw for a prize! Comment on any 35 Days post as many times as you want to have your name entered.

35 Days of Favorites: Movement Therapy

About a year and a half ago, I was sitting in the waiting room at my massage therapist’s office, reading one of the many yoga magazines available there.

I came across an article about a strange-sounding therapy – “Feldenkrais”.

What??! The article described what a typical session would look like – lying down on a table while the therapist moves arms, legs, etc, in a smooth motion, “teaching” the brain to move without the old, inefficient habits producing pain and tension.

It sounded very strange, but extremely appealing to me. My massage therapist has often said that it’s people’s habits of movement that bring pain. I’ve had a crooked back since I was a teenager, and had noticed that I walked in a very stiff, jerky, imbalanced kind of way, as a result.

It made sense to me that these constant movements were producing the pain and tension in my body, and I remember closing the magazine sadly, thinking, “That may be just the weird kind of therapy I need, but will never be able to find here in Winnipeg.”

Fast-forward a few months, and I was at a physiotherapy appointment, talking with my therapist about movement and walking patterns.

She said, “There’s a woman here in Winnipeg who gives posture lessons. She watches  you walk around the room, and then she corrects any harmful habits you might have.”

Again, this sounded strange, yet appealing. It took a few months for me to act on this new information, but I finally tracked down this posture teacher, and booked an appointment.

appointment

There are no words to describe what actually happens during my appointments with Gisele. This Feldenkrais therapy is so much stranger than posture lessons. And I eventually connected the fact that without realizing it, I was seeing the exact kind of therapist I’d read about in that magazine article. What are the chances?

Gisele herself says it’s really hard to describe just exactly what the Feldenkrais method is.

Wikipedia defines it like this:

Feldenkrais aims to reduce pain or limitations in movement, to improve physical function, and to promote general wellbeing by increasing students’ awareness of themselves and by expanding students’ movement repertoire.(source)

Basically, a typical appointment will go like this:

1) Tell Gisele all my problems.

She listens to what’s been hurting, and bothering me the most. We talk about what’s changed since my last appointment. She gets as excited as I do about even the smallest changes and improvements, which is one of my favorite things about her. She always says, “Yeah, yeah!”, really quick and excited, and she’s always so encouraging.

2) Walk across the room a few times (sometimes backwards!) so she can see how my body is moving.

3) Lie down on her table, or occasionally I’ll sit or kneel, so she can start making adjustments.

She will pick up my arm, and move it for me, until it gets “stuck”, and then I have to concentrate on relaxing as much as possible, until the movement comes freely.

She’ll wiggle each of my toes, or poke me feet a little bit here, and a little bit there.

She’ll lift my leg and move it around, or she’ll have me lie on my stomach, and teach me to lift my head using a different part of my back than I usually use for support.

I never know what to expect, except that by the end of that hour, my pain is gone, and my body has shifted. Sometimes, I’m walking so much smoother or straighter, that I actually feel as though I can’t quite get my balance – everything is completely different in this newly shifted body.

It is strange and wonderful, and I completely love it. I’ve been seeing her for a year now, and while progress can feel a bit slow, I still know that I’m moving completely differently than I was when I first started seeing her.

Sometimes I’ll catch myself while I’m walking down the hall, and just feel this surge of joy go through me because it feels so good to move easily and smoothly. Maybe someday I’ll even be…graceful. Hmm…

Are there any weird and wonderful therapists you’ve come across recently? Have you tried anything new that makes you feel great?

35 Days of Favorites: Longer Summers

I once read a book called More Hours in My Day. I don’t really remember anything I learned from it, but I can tell you this:

I have learned the secret to adding more hours to your day.

Summer, specifically….

Here it is: Move to a summer camp, live there for a few years, and then move away.

That will do it. The entire time we lived at Red Rock Bible Camp, I felt as though life was on fast forward. I loved it in winter, but summer whizzed past far, far too quickly.

Now that we’re living in Niverville, time has stopped going by at the speed of light, and I am loving the longer summers.

flowers

I noticed on Facebook the other day that the first batch of campers had arrived at Red Rock, and I was actually completely shocked. It felt as though summer should almost be over already, when I think about how quickly time past at camp.

Every time I look at the calendar and realize we still have the whole summer before us, I feel surprised, and then really, really excited.

I loved living at camp, and the energy there in summer was incredible, but I am ready for slow summer days.

summerKayliasummer

I am ready for hot days at the lake, and camping (for the first time since Kaylia joined our family!), and every other good thing we can possibly squeeze out of these next two months.

campingboatbreakfastleaveslake

Sweet goodness, you can take your time. I’ll pay for it with another slow winter, but it will all be worth it.

daisyfernsunsetWhat are your plans for this summer? Anything you want to be sure to do in the next two months?

35 Days of Favorites: Best Part of the Day

While we were living at camp, we shared most of our meals with other staff at the lodge.

It was great for staying connected with the other families living there at camp, but not quite as great for sharing a meal as a family. Between talking with the people around us, and trying to teach a few table manners to our kids on the side, mealtimes were pretty full and busy.

When we would eat in our own home, however, we had a little tradition which started so long ago, I don’t even remember how it came to be. Everyday at supper, we would share the best part of the day.

It was a sporadic tradition, though, because of how few meals we ate at home, so this last year has been fun, as we’ve been able to do it on a very regular basis, and also as we’ve been able to share it with any company that has come to our home for a meal.

This has also been the year when Kaylia started joining in. At first, she refused to say anything. Then, she started sharing the very same favorite, every single day: “Climbing trees.”

It was the middle of winter, no large trees in sight, but Kaylia’s favorite was forever climbing trees.

Finally, one day, she shared a legitimate favorite, and now the whole family is participating in this little tradition of ours.

Some days are so crazy around here, I dread the question I know Ben will ask: “What was your favorite part of the day?” I have to search hard to come up with something.

But you know what? There’s always something. Even on the hardest days. I know the searching is good for me.

We love this tradition, and I hope it sticks forever!

What do you talk about at the supper table? Any family traditions you love?

35 Days of Favorites: Movies and Meat

Ben and I have decided we must be getting old, because we are no longer willing to stay up late for the sake of finishing a movie. We much prefer watching a 45 minute TV episode instead of a two hour movie.

As a result, I have never watched as few movies as I did in this last year. I had a really difficult time even remembering what I had watched, but when I thought really hard about it, I realized there was one movie in particular which impacted me enough to remember it a year later.

It’s called Food, Inc., and it’s a documentary about how food is produced. It’s described as “…An unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.” (source)

Food, Inc.I would not describe it as pleasurable viewing, but if you want something to change your life, then you’ve got the right movie.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to feel the same way about grocery shopping again. Especially about buying meat.

It came at the perfect time, really, because I’d known for awhile that we should start buying different meat, but nothing had motivated me enough to take the plunge.

My body does not deal well with antibiotics, and so it makes sense that I should also be avoiding meat which has been pumped full of antibiotics. Knowing this, and actually doing something about it were two different things.

But then Ben and I watched this documentary, and saw a lot of things we had never wished to see. It was so eye-opening, we never ate regular meat again. I cooked meatless meals for a few days, until we could figure out where to get our hands on some organic meat, and we’ve never gone back.

If you are like me, and you would like to be eating healthier meat, but don’t know where to buy it, I can tell you what I know:

Chicken: Make connections with a Hutterite colony and buy a bunch of whole chickens. Apparently that’s the cheapest option. It’s the only one we’ve tried so far.

Beef: We love getting beef from Bouw Farm. We’re about to get another big box of delicious beef, and I can’t wait to start barbequing!

Other: While we’ve been waiting for our cow to get butchered, we picked up some beef, as well as a few chicken breasts for barbequing this summer, from Marcello’s Meats. It’s more expensive than the other two options I mentioned, but it’s convenient, and you don’t have to buy large amounts.

Vita Health also sells organic meat, but I’ve never tried any.

Along with encouraging us to change our meat-buying habits, this documentary also motivated me to think more about gardening and farmer’s markets – knowing where my food comes from, and buying stuff close to home. I took Anika and Kaylia to the St. Norbert Farmer’s Market for the first time a few weeks ago, and everybody had such a good time. There wasn’t a lot of fresh produce at that point yet, but I was able to pick up some lettuce, spinach, rhubarb, and honey. We all want to go back again sometime soon!

That’s a lot of change from one documentary. Watch it at your own risk!;)]

Any good movies you’ve seen recently? Something good enough to stay up past my bedtime to watch?!

 

35 Days of Favorites: Coconut Oil and Oregano Oil

Hello, everybody! I’m back from a little adventure away over the long weekend, and now I’ve got to catch up on a missed day of favorites!

I thought it would work well to combine the oils. Silly, to have favorite oils, but these two things have actually significantly impacted my health and my wallet, so I think they deserve to be on my list of favorites!

Coconut Oil

I love coconut oil. It can be used for many different things, plus it’s super healthy for you.

Here’s what we use it for in our home:

1) coconut oilCooking – There are actually only two oils which are truly healthy to use when cooking at high temperatures, and coconut oil is one of them. (Grapeseed oil is the other.) I know this makes people feel sad, because we’ve all been told olive oil is awesome, which it is, but only when it’s used without heating it up too much. Olive oil is great for salad dressing, or for tossing cooked vegetables in right before serving, or anything else not involving heat, but as soon as you start using olive oil for cooking, high heat damages the oil, and makes it unhealthy to eat. Sad, but true.

The good news is that coconut oil is great to use for cooking, even with high heat. It does make things taste a little bit like coconut, which I find very delicious, but there are some food combos that don’t go great with coconut, so you might want to have grapeseed oil on hand.

I also substitute coconut oil in any recipe calling for butter, shortening, or any kind of oil.

2) Lotion – Buying lotion made with only natural, healthy ingredients is expensive, but coconut oil works great instead! It’s pretty greasy at first, but it absorbs very quickly.

3) Facial Moisturizer – It feels quite heavy on my face, so using a very small amount is important.

4) Conditioner for Hair – Coconut oil makes hair feel amazing! Very soft and shiny. I haven’t done this often, as it requires washing hair at least twice to get the oil out, but when I have tried it, I loved it. Once again, only use a small amount, and only on the ends of your hair.

*And Costco sells it now! Even Ben was excited about this, because it’s much cheaper there. Good thing, because we go through it pretty quick at our house!

Oregano Oil

Oregano Oil

This stuff is very strong and has a nasty taste, but it WORKS!

We use it whenever we feel a cold coming on. I only got one full-fledged cold this winter, and it was because we had run out of oregano oil, and I’d forgotten to buy more.

Five drops mixed with water, a couple times a day, until you’re feeling good again.

That stuff is amazing. (Amazingly gross, too!) Because it’s so very potent, it’s probably a good idea to check into it before jumping on my oregano oil bandwagon. If you want to give it a try, oregano oil can be found at most health food stores.

There you have it! The two oils you will always find in my house.

Are there any healthy products you would never want to go without?

*My friend just sent me a link to an article about the concerns in buying cheap coconut oil at Costco, so I definitely wanted to pass on the info, as I will be looking into the accuracy of this myself.

Another cheap place to buy coconut oil is Bulk Barn, but I have not researched the quality of it.

We’re thinking of ordering a 5 gallon pail from this site, as it’s much cheaper to buy in bulk, and this one’s been well-researched, and is top quality.

35 Days of Favorites: Flossing My Teeth

Oh, my poor dad. He’s asking when I’ll be writing an inspirational post again, but here I am, writing a post about flossing my teeth.

But don’t worry! The end is in sight! Only 10 more days of favorites, and then we’ll see how inspirational I am….

However, I am thinking that a post about flossing teeth could possibly be inspirational.

I read a post last summer about why it’s so important to floss teeth, and it was just the right inspiration at just the right time, and it led to the start of a new favorite habit.

dental floss

Obviously, I knew I was supposed to be flossing my teeth. I’ve heard it all a hundred times before.

The problem was that I’ve always hated flossing my teeth. It hurts, my gums bleed, I don’t have time, etc, etc.

But that blog post reminded me that there are super important health benefits to flossing teeth, and seriously, if there’s any healthy habit that’s quick, easy, and cheap to start doing, it would have to be flossing.

So I decided that in my 34th year of life, I would finally start listening to my dentist and my sister-in-law, who is really passionate about flossing her teeth, and kept encouraging me to do it regularly.

I started flossing, and it did hurt, and my gums did bled.

But I stuck with it, not even sure why, and after awhile, I began to notice that it didn’t hurt so much, and my gums weren’t bleeding anymore. I kept at it, and then I became aware of the fact that I was craving a good flossing each night.

Soon, I was at the point where I could not go without flossing, each and every night. How did that happen??!

Now I’m all obsessed with flossing my teeth, and I can finally understand why my sister-in-law kept talking about it.

Do you have any healthy habits you’ve decided to work on recently? Are you a fan of flossing?:) Any easy, healthy habit suggestions for me to try in my 35th year of life?!