Monday, March 26, 2012

glory days (a chapter of the story)

morning light 001
after my third alarm went off

This post is in response to one my sister wrote on Ursa Minor.

When I was a little girl of nine years old I begged my mother to put me into Karate classes. She responded with something along the lines of "Yes dear, well we'll think about that" I asked her again repeated times, pleading my case of my greatest wish to take Karate. You can't blame her for being skeptical, what with my quitting gymnastics, and swimming, and soccer, and showing next to no interest in anything sport related other than shooting hoops in the backyard until the sun went down (speaking of, what ever happened to my amazing career in basketball?).

I don't know why I decided I needed to be the next Bruce Lee at such a young age, (I think a friend I admired started doing Taekwondo?) but finally at 10 years old, my mom said OK. My first class of Karate I was one of about 2 dozen new white belts. I was short and skinny and had biceps that were about as big around as my wrists. I remember my Dad took me and I think he stuck around the whole class. It was hard and I was more nervous than I ever remembered being before then. It was more push-ups and crunches than I could have imagined Navy seals to be capable of. The Senseis (can sensei be plural?) were strict. They told you to do something and you had to do it. The older kids (and higher belts) were intimidating to say the least. It felt like kindergarten all over again. I didn't cry and I didn't die. The next class half the new kids didn't come back.

morning light 002

I stayed at it, against all odds, a skinny white gal, who mostly even to this day tends to keep this part of my life private (it's like my own secret identity). I got better and I got stronger and I advanced through a rainbow of colourful belts. Many in my classes were afraid to fight me and I was a model student when it came to everything from kata, to kumite (sparring), to kihon (technique). After 8 years I was helping to instruct kids and leading the adult workouts. I was maybe a semester away from achieving my black belt, and then.... I quit.

My reasons for leaving are lame to say the least. I was entering University and outside of my studies my former boyfriend took up most of my time. I think I felt that my life revolved around Karate too much (just 7.5 hours a week at its peak, plus additional exercise) and at the time I wasn't sure I wanted it to define me. Truly? I was scared. I was in too deep and I didn't want to fail right when I had come so far and invested so much. It's a regret that I carry with me, but I do know that I can go back anytime... when I'm ready.

morning light 003

I was lucky though because I got to skip the teenage years of looking repulsed at myself in the mirror. I was watching my muscles build and my confidence soar. I didn't worry that I wasn't the sexpot destined to give 12 year old boys endless dream material — I was the one kicking their ass and making them question what their fathers and society had taught them about women.

Anyway, the point of this post was not to say how I'm a fucking badass (which I am) — I've been exercising at least a couple times a week for the last 15 years but let me be the first to say that it is never enough. Skinny girls don't get to complain about their bodies because nobody wants to hear it. But the truth is that no matter how strong of fit or agile I may be, I never feel I'm the best I can be. I can always work harder, I can always be stronger, more flexible, more confident. Every day is a case of self doubt and yes, even self loathing. If there is one thing I miss the most about my years in Martial Arts, it's the discipline. These days I can't even make myself get out of bed on the first (or third) alarm, let alone do 40 push ups in a row (frankly these days I'm lucky if I can do 10). It's so hard when the laziness sets in and you are watching parts of your former self or the person you thought you were, or are, slip away, but you don't have the discipline to steer your life back on track.

These feelings stretch far beyond physical fitness too. For me taking a couple hours a week to exercise isn't so hard, for you maybe you spend that much time reading, or writing, or painting, or gardening, to which I am envious. There is never enough time in the day to do everything we want and frankly life isn't long enough to do it all. It's true that with the amount of time we spend wallowing and obsessing we could probably cross a few things off our life list, or at least instead of thinking, and planning and searching for our path, maybe we would just be walking along it. Or walking on a different path, fuck, maybe we'd be swimming, but who cares? It's time to stop reminiscing, stop beating ourselves up and worrying about being better than we are, or more than is humanly possible. Summer is on its way and I think it's time to just step outside and clear our minds. These sorts of worries are better spent in the bathtub in the wintertime, so let's put the worries aside for now, shall we?

You know who didn't let a few worries get in the way of being pretty darn great? This guy: (just sayin')

Friday, March 23, 2012

the big unwind

salty taffy pistachio ice cream

Spring came today, three days late, but just in time. The sun shone all day. It was hot on my back and I had to take off my sweater while I weeded the front garden patch. It wasn't just the shot of 'real' vitamin D — I got plenty of that walking around the other day — something was different today. Perhaps it was me? I was excited and calm all at once. I couldn't wait to get out into the sun and the garden, but I was happy to stay in bed a few extra minutes to give the cats some cuddle time. (cat people, hey?)

Today I ate guacamole. I put lemons in my water. I sunbathed on the bed in the afternoon with the kitties. I listened to gospel over and over. I planted more sweet peas, and poppies and checked on my arugula and radishes (nothing yet, but it's only been a week!). I sneaked spoonfuls of the above ice cream every chance I got. (tiramisu, pistachio, salty toffee)

aloe vera baby

Tomorrow is supposed to be gorgeous too. I hope to wake up early and plant my lettuces before I head to work. I can't wait for fresh salad greens! Just a few herbs, tomatoes, and strawberries to add and I get to sit back and drink spiked lemonade every night and look on proudly at the greenery I have nurtured and the food I am providing with my own hands and very dirty finger nails. Or everything will get hit by aphids like usual — what a fun summer guessing game it will be! (now taking bets).

white siamese blue eyes cat
This is the face that he makes at me 90% of the time. Little asshole. 

grey tabby sunbathe cat 1

I hope you had a great Friday — the cats and I did. 

grey green jade plant 1

grey green jade plant 2

grey tabby sunbathe cat 2

Saturday, March 17, 2012

a real, true, honest carrot cake

 carrot coconut cake 001
While chatting with my sister last week the issue of this blog, or more specifically the lack of posting by me on this blog came up. I tried to explain and justify my aversion to posting right now with excuses about inspiration, time, and resources. But the truth is I am just tired of reading the same old crap, so I didn't want to put the same old crap out there. 

Lately I've noticed a lot of blogs are spewing out non-stop positive thinking, sunny skies, perfect situation bullshit and I was no different. So I stopped posting. My monthly posts went from 23 one year ago to less and less until I hit a record low of 1 post last December. I am a posititve thinker and it takes a lot to get me down, but the fact is that sometimes my life is really really boring, or sad, or pathetic, or whatever, and I don't need to pretend otherwise.

So, back to the point: I made a carrot cake this week, totally worthy of being shared and admired. I made it as a belated treat for my bf's birthday and it was beautiful and delicious. But here is what you don't always see:

carrot coconut cake 002
This is my kitchen while baking. On the left and in the sink are the dishes I was too lazy to clean and put away before deciding to bake a cake, which I did in that tiny little spot in front of the knives there.

carrot coconut cake 003

carrot coconut cake 004
And here is my very lumpy frosting that I am mixing with a fork while drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee at 5:30pm. And hidden behind the can of coconut milk is a bottle of bourbon which I had a swig of once I was all done.

And here is what you are meant to see:

carrot coconut cake 005

And here is what you aren't meant to see:
carrot coconut cake 006

Carrot cake, when done right is this amazing balance between super satisfying and decadent treat and hearty, nutty, and lasting breakfast.

You should follow this recipe for carrot cake here, but add up to a 1/4 cup of molasses and a little freshly grated ginger.

For frosting you should mix two parts cream cheese (room temperature) to one part confectioners' sugar, to one part coconut cream (aka let your can of coconut milk separate and scoop the good stuff off the top). Top with lots of big flakes of coconut.

carrot coconut cake 007

carrot coconut cake 008

I guess sometimes you don't need to pretend everything is perfect, because it just is anyway. I won't turn the carrot cake itself into a metaphor (although I could!) but truly I will make an honest to god effort to use this medium the way it was intended and that's to record and share the important, or occasionally mundane events in my life. And I sincerely do hope you'll enjoy reading it, but I'm not making any guarantees. 

carrot coconut cake 009

Thursday, March 08, 2012

candy and streamers window display

march colourful candy window display 001

Hello! I wanted to share some photos of February's window display with you because it was just so cheerful and fun.Most of our windows follow the same formula of toys looking cute and having fun with a few crafty elements thrown in created by me, with the help of my coworkers to capture your eye. We always have lots of tiny finger prints on our window from kids getting their parents to hold them up and have a closer look. I love catching people's reactions when they walk by — it's rare that we don't put a smile on a passing face.

For this window we used two ideas from the talented, crafty lady Jordan Ferney, who runs the blog Oh Happy Day! And it's true that everything she does seems to bring a little happy to the day.

march colourful candy window display 002

First up was her idea for fringey streamers. Cutting fringe into streamers to make them that much more exciting? Genius!

The second craft we employed were her giant colourful candy lights, which are a little hard to see in these daytime photos, but they added such a gem-like night time effect.

march colourful candy window display 003

march colourful candy window display 004

We have our Easter window up now, which I'll share with you soon, but visit the Dilly Dally Kids website if you want a sneak peek.

march colourful candy window display 005