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On Procrastination – part 1

Hi Society!

I’d like to share that I’m a huge procrastinator. When I was in school I would admire those who could keep up tidy notes and split their workload other the entire sessions. I sooo wasn’t that person. I was definitely the less-than-24-hours-before-a-deadline all-night puller type. I felt bad. To me, it seemed I couldn’t manage my time properly.

Turns out there was a lot of positive to learn from that season of life: I work well under tight deadlines, I can prioritize when I really have to, and, best of all, I can quickly produce something I’m proud of because of the quantity of time I spent avoiding the task. My subconscious was stewing over what to do or write from the beginning and at the last moment I’d simply make magic.

I try not to spend too much time analyzing my self-defined shortcomings. However, I recently started reading Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy and I’m deep into questioning and analyzing at the moment. I had that book for a while and never got to reading it. That’s right, I was procrastinating on reading a book about procrastination. Except I didn’t know it talked about procrastination.

I talked about my desire of slowing down the pace of my life in my previous post. My house and my mind are filled with a gazillion projects that I started in a slightly more distant past. Since realizing that I want to slow down, I’ve been trying not to start many more projects. This book about delays is extremely fitting. Thank you, Universe, for continuing to time everything I do and think perfectly. It makes me smile!

Anyways, back to the book and my projects. Partnoy wrote ”where there may be some small amount of work that we have to do right away such as get a small repair job done on our car […] we’re likely in many cases to procrastinate and in the end we are paying three or four times as much for a bigger repair job on the car”. We want to avoid unpleasant tasks at all cost. I’m super guilty of this! I’m facing my pile of projects and I understand how I made it hard on myself. But realizing that there’s a problem is the first step, right?

I now know some projects I’ve been meaning to finish are simply not going to get done because they don’t bring me joy. Reparing that beautiful 4 year-old gown I’ve never worn because the seamstress didn’t quite get my vision is not going to happen because thinking about or seeing it makes me sad. I’m donating it! That kitchen table that has been sitting in my basement for 2 years which I’ve been meaning to restore? Nope! In the end, the time I have to invest is not worth what I would bring me. I already have another table. I should just make peace with it and let it go. And the list goes on….

However, there are some tasks that I’ve been avoiding which actually need to get done like renewing my passport or writing and sending my wedding thank you cards. Procrastination occurs when we’re not working on something. It doesn’t mean we aren’t doing anything, just not what we should/could be working on.

I’m actually a productive procrastinator. Instead of printing and filling out my passport application, I clean the dishes, fold laundry, etc. Those tasks are less ”important”, therefore I choose to do them over more important ones. Partnoy writes about John Perry, philosophy professor known in the procrastination field, who suggests that when making to-do lists, we should start with a few important tasks, and then add some not as important tasks that still need to get done. It’s the most efficient procrastination! I love it 🙂

If you personally struggle with procrastination, like me, try to see the positive in it. Procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ll get back to this in a later post. But again, since I’m a procrastinator and because I’m working on not adding too much on my plate, let’s all have very low expectations about the when.

Have a fabulous weekend! Enjoy being a procrastinator at some point over the next few days.

Sharing My Fortune With You

Hi Society!

Here’s the message I got after reading my fortune cookie last week:

Do not rush through life,

pause and enjoy it.

I thought it was very appropriate as I’d been consciously slowing down in different aspects of my life. The most obvious sign is that I’ve literally slowed down my pace. I used to powerwalk everywhere, trying to squeeze a few minutes out of everything in my life. Looking back, I’m not really sure if that practice brought anything other than blisters and sweat. For the last several weeks, I’ve been leisurely walking to work while listening to podcasts, carefully embracing nature and my thoughts. It’s been refreshing and soothing. I think I might be adding only a handful of minutes to my regular walking commute and it really doesn’t matter to me. I prep for work mentally, while getting there. No need to spend extra time at work.

I think I can attribute my physical slowing down to my cerebral trigger: The Slow Home podcast. I just love these Australians! The interviews that take place on that podcast are intertwined with my journey in many ways. I usually find that talking helps me figure things out more easily and I find that with this podcast, I get the same liberating effect simply by listening to others’ journey. I highly recommand it.

To get back to my fortune, I no longer physically rush through life. I’m also actively working on removing the rest of the rush people usually add to their life. I try to steer clear from multitasking unless it couples a physical activity (walking, cleaning, eating breakfast) to a knowledge increasing activity (listening to a podcast or a periscope). If I’m waiting somewhere for something (a line at the grocery store), I just pause and enjoy that wait. I think of all the things I’m grateful for, what I no longer take for granted, I see what’s there to see.

I touched on simplifying life in another post of mine, and I’m still working on that. I’m known for saying yes to too many opportunities and I now have to revisit the ones I have (over)committed to and only keep the ones that matter to me now and likely still will in the future. It’s hard because I have the fear of disappointing others. I hate that feeling. But I have to remember that I have to live for ME. In 5 years from now, I doubt my current problems will still affect me. For example, I haven’t been blogging as much as in the beginning, a mere two months ago or so. I’m fairly confident it’s not going to upset too many people. We all have lives. I simply forget about bloggers from whom I don’t receive regular updates; I don’t (usually) miss them. Thank you for understanding 😉

On that note, it’s time for me to get back to reality: my house needs a bit of TLC before I slowly walk to work as I purposely set house chores aside this weekend to enjoy that life I’m writing about.

Have an enjoyable day!

Making Hand Pies

Hi Society!

Last week I mentioned briefly that I was making chicken pot pies using the vegetables from my garden. I said I was going to make them without shells or pans because it was going to save some green. Here’s a bit more about hand pies.

I feel a little silly because I actually didn’t know making pies without something to bake them in was a thing. The thought just never occurred to me. My mom always used aluminium pie shells. It’s only when I ran out of small shells and was preparing to make a huge amount of pies that I realized that maybe something could be done differently. Here’s the thing about freestyle hand pies: they’re awesome! You can make them the exact size you want, the shape you want, you don’t have to get pay for resources that you’ll need to store somewhere or trash, and the best of all: not as many dishes (that is, if you were going to reuse or recycle that shell or pan).

The keys to success are:

  • keep the dough thick enough so that your creation doesn’t fall apart;
  • seal your pie properly using a fork, liquid, etc.; and
  • bake at a lower temperature for longer.

I made my chicken pot pies in half-moon shape (calzone style) and it turned out really well. I’m looking forward to try this again soon with some peach pies, using my home-canned peach pie filling that looks so delicious in the basement!

Happy baking!

Nature Mesmerizes Me!

Hi Society!

I just wanted to let you in on a little something I was thinking about: fascination! I went to Greece earlier this year and contemplated quite a few temples. I like history and knew a bit about what I was seeing. Despite my greatest efforts I couldn’t help but think of the historical ruins as… piles of rocks. I know. I’m terrible. At least, that’s what my husband says. He was very interested in them and not impressed with me. Oops.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be outside at the right time to witness the Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. I’m 100% sure I once again offended someone by not remembering the proper name of what I saw (remember, I’m a French Canadian). It was cool to look at the moon, but again to me it wasn’t a huge deal, even  though we won’t see something similar for another decade and a half.

I’m I incapable of fascination? I didn’t have to dwell on that for long. This morning I remembered I was able to be mesmerized when I came across this guy:

funny carrotHow cool is that? This I find impressive! I can spend hours looking at plants when I go for walks in the woods or when I garden. I’m especially impressed at how nature adapts to what is thrown at her.

Anyways, I should get back to cooking my millions of chicken pot pies which are using parts of my potato, celery and carrot harvests 🙂 I’m making freestyle hand pies because I don’t want to use pie shells to reduce waste. Once again, saving some green!

Have a fascinating day!

Just Put Baking Soda on It

Hi Society!

Without counting The Genesis, this should have been my first post. If you’ve read my introductory post, you know that this blog was a friendly suggestion. Baking Soda was supposed to be a big part of it, where I would share all the things you can do with baking soda. I feel there are already so many great lists out there on the Internet; I don’t think this is the way I should approach this fantastic ingredient.

To me, baking soda is an epiphany. It’s actually about rethinking what, how, and why we do things. For example, for a lot of people, if your stove is dirty, you’ll use your commercially bought stove cleaner and clean the stove. Why? Because that’s what your parents did or that’s what advertisements and society lead you to believe you need. You don’t really think about it and just use the product, because ”everyone” does it. But you could also make a paste from baking soda and a bit of water and it would create a great scrub. A frugal, non-destructive, and environmentally-friendly solution I might add!

If this was not something you grew up with, it’s something you’d have had to learn. Something you could have taken the time to think about: there are always other possibilities. If you can use it to clean your stove, what else can you do with baking soda? Do I really need all those cleaning products? This big house? The stress? Two cars? Warming up the car for 15 min? All my gadgets? Buying everything from the store? Bragging about my lack of sleep? Using strong antiperspirants? Buying new and tossing old? Being okay with having debts? Following trends?Lighting the porch when no-one is expected? Why have I always followed blindly what others did without questioning or even thinking about it? You get the idea. Baking soda is an alternative. Instead of ”going with the flow”, I want to reflect on what I’ve been doing and thinking while on autopilot. I want to know why and fully comprehend what I’m doing from now on.

And when in doubt, just put baking soda on it!

This is Strawesome!

Hi Society!

Have you ever heard about this glassbulous company? My pun might not be as great as theirs but hopefully you were still able to put 2 and 2 together. Strawesome is an American company that makes glass straws. They are lifetime guaranteed, toxic free, dishwasher safe, designed and handmade in the States and kid friendly. Super cool! I had a $15 off coupon so I ordered two straws for extremely cheap. I got a tall skinny one for my water cup and a smoothie one (shorter and larger) and received them last week; they’re amazing! You can also order cleaning brushes and cases to carry your straw with you. Worried that you might mix up your straw with someone else as cool as you because they also have a glass straw? Strawesome got you covered. They have artsy straws and personalized straws too. They even have bubble-tea straws! Short, long, skinny, regular, large, straight, bent… They thought about everything!!

At roughly $8 a piece (for generic ones), lifetime guaranteed glass straws are definately a good purchase if you usually prefer drinking from straws at home and/or when you’re out and about. They are safer and could help reducing waste, that is, if you currently use plastic or paper straws. Otherwise, it’d just be another ”thing” you now own that required resources to be created. Think about it 🙂

Substitutions in the Kitchen

Hi Society!

This is not a list of acceptable substitutions in the kitchen. This is my cooking style.

I grew up cooking with my mom who would never follow recipes. She just made stuff up. Most of the creations were palatable, but some weren’t exactly. Having the exact same thing twice (whether you liked it or not) wasn’t an option. It could have been frustrating, but it wasn’t. I only have good memories from cooking with my mom. She taught me to trust myself and not be afraid to experiment. Challenge accepted mama!

Of course, this type of cooking doesn’t work for everyone. My husband for example will follow recipes to the letter. If the recipe says to heat the pan on high, it will be on high; regardless of the fact that the content might be burning. I still encourage him to cook. It’s usually very tasty. But it makes me laugh (and occasionally cough or cry). Substitution or cooking with your gut feeling (not cooking actual guts) also doesn’t work if you don’t understand what basic ingredients do in recipes, especially in baking. I once lived with a friend who was very passionate about baking but…. it just wouldn’t agree with her. Burnt rocks were a staple at our house. It’s important to be able to listen to your recipe and be willing to learn from experience.

Once I moved out (from my mom’s, not my baker friend), Chef Michael Smith helped me broaden my cooking horizon following the same relaxed mindset. In one of his cooking shows, he always starts by saying that a recipe is a mere collection of words, a canvas, and that it’s basically just a suggestion. I like that. He doesn’t impose but proposes possibilities. He’s also really good at teaching techniques and explaining how to achieve a certain result. And he’s Canadian. Just saying, eh! 🙂

With this background, I continue inventing and substituting a lot and it’s been a real confidence booster and a life saver! Sometimes, you just have to make do with what you have. In those moments, I pretend I’m on Chopped, the cooking show what forces you to come up with great food from weird ingredients that you wouldn’t think to combine. I also know that if I don’t have a specific ingredient, let’s say evaporated milk, I can simply make it from scratch. Same with vegetable broth: I can make it from vegetable scraps that I stash in my freezer until I have enough. Or miso paste in water. If someone doesn’t like cilantro, parsley can be used. If I don’t have a pie crust for a quiche, left over cooked rice will do. Enough seasoning and good techniques will go a long way!

What are your favorite substitutions?

Origanum Vulgare

Hi Society!

Today we’re talking about the joy of the mountains, also known as oregano. It’s a popular herb in my house, but not for the mediterranean culinary reason you might be thinking of. Of course I love pizza! But I love staying healthy even more 🙂

Oregano ”has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, it aids digestion, and helps prevent gas. Oregano stimulates blood flow in the uterus and so helps treat menstrual pain and irregularities. It supports healthy liver function and perspiration. Supplements of oregano essential oil are a popular treatment for colds, fevers, fungal infections, indigestion, parasites, and menstrual problems. Use topically as an antiseptic or as a liniment for its warming qualities. It is a well-known kitchen remedy for toothache. The oil is strongly sedative, so use moderately.”, wrote Rebecca Wood in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.

My mom used to give me a few drops of oregano oil to put under my tongue for a few seconds when a cold was approaching. It would always scare it away (it’s very potent, have a glass of water ready!). I just harvested all the oregano I could find in the garden because fall and its frost is upon us. Making essential oil is a little too daunting for me at the moment but simple oregano oil isn’t. Google it if you are curious! Basically, you steep the fresh oregano in equal amount of oil in the sunlight for two weeks, and then you strain the liquid and put it away in a dark cool place. It’s obviously not going to be as strong as an essential oil but I bet it’s going to give your immune system the extra kick it needs! I’ll let you know over the winter if it helped me.

P.S.: Did you know that drying oregano actually intensifies its flavor? You’re welcome, society!

Radish Seeds

Hi Society!

This spring, I planted my second garden ever. I made it big thinking I would have much more time than I actually had. Oops. I also planted my radish seeds the beginner way: scattering them (in the wind) on a cramped spot, ALL AT ONCE. I’m not sure what I was thinking. What I’m thinking now? Never again!

Next year, I’ll definately sow seeds in neat rows, giving them proper space to grow, and only sow 1 or 2 rows at a time so I can stretch the radish season and, most importantly, not be overwhelmed at the quantity of cherry bells! I’m really happy about my learning experience though. Because I had so many radishes, some plants started bolting and flowering. I let them be because I was curious. Seed pods then started to grow and then it occured to me “that’s how radish seeds are created!”. I guess I never took the time to think about those things. I feel a little dumb, but I’m so glad to be gaining all this knowledge right now.

Credits to gardenbetty.com
Credits to gardenbetty.com

Discovering seed pods made me realize that I could start saving seeds. One more step towards self-sufficiency and one more life skill being learned! I just read that you simply pick the pods at the end of the growing season (pretty much now for Alberta) and you let them dry. Then, you split the pods open and transfer them to a cool and dry location. I’m thinking in an envelope inserted in a glass jar. I read some people advise to freeze, some advise against… I still have some learning (and blind experimenting) to do before I can pick my own method. I’ll use some of the seeds during the next gardening season but I’ll also save some (in case something goes wrong), and sprout the rest! Radish sprouts are really refreshing and make a great addition to salads and sandwiches. They also make interesting stir-fry garnishes. Apparently, you can even pickle or stir-fry the entire fresh pod. Food for thought 😉

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