Monthly Archives: July 2011

Café a la Groff

Have you ever had a somewhat silly goal.  A little something you have wanted to do that is not really ambitious or adventure worthy, but still remains something that you would enjoy?  My little ‘something’ has been that I have always wanted to work at a café.  Yes, I am sure many people dream of spending their days lounging in comfy chairs, drinking espresso while reading or watching people walk by.  I want to be the one behind the counter, mixing up yummy contraptions, serving muffins, interacting with people, and just enjoying the process…

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I used to frequent two privately owned coffee shops in Korea in 2006.  They were near a school I worked at, and I loved that they spoke no English, served delicious mochacinnos, and always served me a lovely pastry with every mug (a beautiful long, slender glass mug).  The other café was nearby and was run by a single Korean woman, who was so friendly and warm!  She always welcomed my by name (which she remembered after my first visit), she used Nestle Quik with her mochas and always had the cutest little cups and saucers for dining in!  They were mix-matched, dainty, modern and just fun to drink out of.  It was a place I took my students for our weekly conversation classes.  She appreciated the extra business, so I always got extra perks (and some Korean lessons) from her!

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I later fell in love with a Starbucks near the next school I worked at (an hour away, and in a very rich city).  While trying to escape some not so nice co-workers, two of my most favorite gals and I would go to Starbucks every lunch hour…and sometimes for a quick ‘to go’ in between a class or two.  We would brave the extreme winter cold, downpours from monsoon season, and sweltering heat in the summer to walk that one block so we could go see Yumi (our favorite barista) and enjoy our beloved beverages! 

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The lovely Miss.Margie would always laugh at how excited Janice and I got about these daily visits…I even had a Korean man once tell me how impressive my ‘ha ha’s’ were…come to find out, he meant my laugh!  We would talk, relax, kick up our feet, eat cinnamon snails (cinnamon rolls) and sip the hour away!  I associate very happy memories with Starbucks because of these two ladies and I don’t think a visit will ever be quite the same! 

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In Japan, I found another Starbucks.  I would go there while James was in his morning pre-school class and write a curriculum I was working on for a ‘dream school’ I hope to open one day.  I would read, write letters to my Nanny, talk to a Japanese friend, or enjoy the company of my amazing friend, Kara!  Throughout the 3 years we lived in Japan, Kara and my visits took quite the transformations!  They went from being with my James and her two girls, to being with her two girls and son, and my two boys.  They could be some pretty loud and chaotic coffee dates…those poor baristas!  Those visits were always special because it was with a dear friend who was literally with me the whole time we were in Japan!!!

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Now in Germany, I have found my place (for right now, I may find another to have on the side).  It is run by Italians and only the family works there!  LOVE the small family run cafes!  They already know me and the boys and when I went there yesterday I told them about James and they, of course, showed their concern and gave well wishes.  This was my first day out in a week, and that was the place I wanted to go!  My neighbor, Eva (pronounced Ay-Fa) joined me!  I never seem to lack a coffee date! 

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We chatted for 3 hours, I practiced my German (even ordered in German), and watched the mother and son bicker back and forth in Italian…so funny!  It always feels relaxing to me to enjoy a cup of coffee in a new place, a new culture, and just learn new things.  I have practiced Korean, Japanese and now German in cafes all over the globe!  That, to me, is super special!!

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Now, if only I could open my own little family run café where I could serve people the care, kindness and comfort that I have received at Cafes for the last decade!  I even told James about it and he said he would want to serve the drinks and wipe the counters!

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He’s hired!

What little dreams have you had?  What silly goals have you thought about?  What do you like about going to a café?

Canada vs. America

 

So I am trying to get my education transferred over for work purposes within the USA.  That means I have to get my Canadian degree evaluated and then take extra courses so I can have my education ‘count’ in America (whatever).  This has been taking over a year and a half.  What started out with me beginning my Master’s in Education is now me taking classes just so I can have an ‘American” Bachelor’s in English.  Very frustrating!  I have been questioning this whole process…

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It really comes down to where we plan on settling down when Eric is finished his 20 years in the military…that is about 5 1/2 years from now.  This should be our last duty station, so where we go from here will be where we stick for a while.  Of course there are two main options: Canada or America.  The thing is that we have done so much paper work and so on in order for me to get my green card so that we can settle in America, but a teeny part of us keep thinking about Canada.  Eric’s retirement is from the American Military, so we don’t know if it would even benefit us in Canada. All of our credit is being built in America, not in Canada.  Our medical and all other insurances are for America, not Canada.  Technically it would be easier for us to go to America.

Then we think about Canada.  If we can use our benefits that would be great, his retirement pay would end up paying out more, and I could start building my Canadian credit back up now.  My degree is Canadian, which means I could go through a Canadian University to get my Master’s and then I would not need to ‘re-do’ my Bachelor’s for America.  Besides, I love Canada…period.

It is amazing the ways it can be so difficult to figure out where you want to go because you have just been moving around so much.  We have no real place that we can call ‘home’ together.  For some reason, that is Vegas to us.  That is where we really started our life together, and it is the only place we lived together in America, so to me that was my home in the States.  I don’t think we would want to settle there due to crime, school system, etc., but I did love many things about living there!

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We have never lived in Canada together (Eric has only visited), but I do know that we would probably not end up in my home province (Nova Scotia).  I lived (temporarily) in Edmonton two times, and I loved it there.  I have very amazing friends there, I loved the feel of the place, and I loved that you could be far enough away to live in a suburb, but also be super close to the city!  It has a lot of culture and diversity there, plus I think it is a great place to raise kids.  Plus, they have West Edmonton Mall…Hello, there is a Pirate ship (among MANY other things) in the mall!!

Right now we are really just thinking about what we want for our kids and how we want to raise them.  We want a place that we will be able to feel settled without getting that itch to move around again.  We know that we will have to do some travelling (vacations) since we are both antsy people and have a hard time staying put for too long.  We just really want to be able to find a place we can comfortably call home, a place where our families will love to visit (often) and a place where our boys will have a happy upbringing!  Whether it is Canada or America, I know we will end up in a great place and besides, as long as we are together, any place we go will be ‘home’!

Where do you call ‘home’ and what do you love about it?

Rear Window…

So the joke has been going that we need to get James some good binoculars so he can sit at the window and watch the neighbors all summer long (hello, Jimmy Stewart)!  Instead he has been parked on the sofa watching TV, movies, Magic School Bus, doing his summer lessons, building Legos and just trying to get stronger! 

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I have been trying to keep him as confortable as possible, while keeping Gavin entertained and away from James’ leg!  The hub is still gone 14 hours a day, so it is up to me to keep everyone managed and in working order.  Of course, I still pile my plate with baking, cleaning, working out and so on.  I figure if I can keep as much of a normal routine as possible, we will all feel less stressed in the situation!  So far so good!  I have been eating clean and staying pretty stress free!  This clean eating may be helping me (goodbye sugar; hence, goodbye sugar crashes)!  I feel much better, still sleepy due to the rough nights, but far less stressed or anxiety ridden!  It might help that Gavin is trying to be as helpful as possible around the house, especially when it is time to cook!

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I have been having shin issues, so this week was spent with heart H.I.I.T hill intervals on my treadmill, workouts from Oxygen, Kick-Boxing, Yoga and Pilates.  These are fit in whenever I get a spare second (when Gavin is napping and James is resting comfortably).  I have some PMS issues going on, but even with this I am down 3.2 pounds in 9 days of Eating Clean!!!  I finally got past my plateau weight, hooray!  So I proved to myself that even when I am tested beyond what I think I can handle, I am more than ABLE to make it through without going on a junk food binge!  It was a great lesson to learn about myself this past week! 

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Now the hard part is making sure I stick with it and don’t get cocky.  The PMS is a first in a while, so I am not used to these insane cravings!  Mix that with being trapped in my house (on day 5 of NOT leaving the house…not stepping foot outside…I am dead serious and starting to show signs of being a hermit) and I am on a constant ‘no crap eating because I am bored and stuck in the house’ torture ride!  Ah well, challenges teach us things….giving in shows we see weakness in ourselves, not giving in shows that we refuse to submit to said weakness.  I know how I can make out and I will be very proud because of it!

What new things have you learned about yourself?  What challenges have you been facing lately?

Weekly Goals update and Mommy’s Worst Fear…

So I have my treadmill…and I also have shin splints.  Thanks to myself for running 5 days out of 7 right off the bat after not running for 6 weeks.  I am guessing that would be enough to cause that horrific pain in the legs!  This week I decided to take it easy with the running and do some hill intervals along with some workouts from my Oxygen Magazine.

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My goals for this week were to: (I forgot to post these)

1.  Eat Clean each day with one small indulgence the first two days in order to avoid completely shocking my system. 

2.  To work out 5 days with some cardio, resistance, and to try at least 2 new workouts! 

3.  To talk to someone about my anxiety and see if I cannot set up bi-weekly appointments to help me deal with stress. 

4.  To keep it together while Gavin gets tubes and to also plan a fun day for us on Saturday.

The Results

Eat Clean- I did very well with this.  I had 3 hershey kisses on Monday, which I allowed into my meal planning.  Then on Tuesday I had a surprise visit from a neighbor with a cheesecake.  Rather than eating a large piece and throwing in the towel for the rest of the day, I had a small little slice and then continued with my clean eating the rest of the day!  Normally I would have tail-spinned into an over-eating frenzy!  I have kept it clean every day, not treats, no extra snacking, no junk, no NOTHING!!  I have felt a lot better this week in terms of my belly!!  I finally got my chia seeds and flax seeds, so I added those in.  The first two days after flax I was a bit bloated from the change, but still feeling really good!

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Workout- Monday: I did a 45 minute hill interval workout on my treadmill, followed by a shoulder and squat workout.  Tuesday:  I was feeling a little sick but I did a Turbo Jam workout, plus tons of stretching from Yoga poses.  Wednesday: I did a 45 minute hill interval workout, plus a new workout from Oxygen using the band for a full body blast!  Thursday- I did Plyo from the Oxygen Magazine (fast workout but man it is a killer).  Friday –REST.  Saturday- I will do a 30 minute walk outdoors with Gavin, followed by soccer drills (running the field dribbling the ball, squat jumps, jumping jacks, lunge twists and then abs.  Sunday- I am going to do a Yoga workout.

 

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Anxiety- I spoke to someone yesterday (Friday) about my anxiety and how I am having a lot of anxiety attacks these days.  No matter how much exercise I am doing, writing in my journal, getting outside, or following a routine- this anxiety is NOT giving me a break.  I am constantly in a state of mild panic and impatience.  I know that it is not healthy and it is making everyday life for my family equally difficult.  I will be going to see a counselor every two weeks while doing some exercises to help me in between appointments.  I also started taking some anti-anxiety medication at an extremely low dose for a set short term basis.  Not going to feel bad about it, I know something has got to give.

Keep it together for Gavin- Everyday was great except Thursday!  Thursday was a TOUGH day!  Gavin was not feeling nap time, he was (I am guessing) testing his new and improved hearing abilities by screaming all day…literally, all day!  Not out of anger or frustration, just because he could hear it (again, I am guessing this is the reason).  By mid-afternoon I was in tears with a screaming (pun) headache and James was saying he didn’t want ‘this baby’ anymore.  We went for a drive, went for a walk, played with his little friend next door, played outside…all the while he was just screaming and screeching his little heart out.  I was exhausted, emotional and wanted to just go to bed.  My husband didn’t get home until 9pm and by that time I was way passed wanting to sit and recap the day, a little bickering took place because of my ‘downer mood’ and then I cut the conversation to go to bed!  (I think Gavin was still drugged while eating this pudding…what do you say?)

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Plan a fun day for Saturday….well, that took a painful nose dive!  James and Eric went to look at a second car last night (Friday night) with our neighbor.  The car was an hour from our home, so about 1.5 hours from the nearest base.  They left at 8pm and I went to bed thinking I would see them around 10pm.  Nope.  Instead there was a knock on the door (followed by my psycho Shih Tzu barking like mad) and an Airman standing on my doorstep at midnight to tell me I needed to call the Control Center in order to get a message from my husband.  Something about our kid being in the hospital…SAY WHAT??!!???? 

Yes!  Long story short, James was playing with the guy’s (who owns the car) dogs and while he was playing catch his body twisted, he legs stayed planted and he was knocked down by the dog…you see where I am going with this?  My 6 year old is laid up in a German hospital with a spiral fracture to his lower left leg…bone is broke clear in half.  He has a cast straight up to his thigh and is in a German hospital and is being kept there until Sunday or Monday (at least)…he cannot even move and is in extreme pain.

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I have been keeping as calm as possible, trying to breathe deep and know that a calm mommy is more helpful than a weepy mommy right now!  Besides I have pictures like the one below to make me (and James)smile.  This was him Friday morning when he woke up.  He told me that he kept his “Marty McFly” vest on all night and brushed his hair to the side so he could look just like Marty….gotta respect Back to the Future!! 

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Here is to hopes of my son’s pain diminishing (A LOT) and him having a speedy recovery without surgery!  Here is to hopes of me being a strong and comforting mom, and maintaining my efforts to beat anxiety despite all things stressful.  I am not going to binge, overeat and make myself sick like I normally would in a stressful situation.  I am going to prove to myself and my boys (all three of them) that I can keep it together and be the support system THEY need, just like they are for me when I need it!

Anything crazy happen to you this week?  Ever broke a bone (or have a child with a broken bone)?  How do you best handle yourself when someone you love is in extreme pain?

The right to snacks

I have met so many people who have varying ideas about food, snacks, meals, etc.  I have always been a person who needs a morning and afternoon snack (and nap if it is possible).  I have been trying to read a lot about nutrition, food as fuel, and finding ways to eat well without the discomforts that plague my stomach.  While trying to cut out a majority of the gluten in my diet, I am also trying to stick to as clean of a daily diet as possible!  I really do believe in the principles behind this way of eating, and I have to say it really does make me feel better!

One reason I love the ‘Eat Clean Diet’ is because it promotes having 5-6 small meals a day, rather than 3 huge ones…which is exactly how I roll!  I have always eaten breakfast, always!  I could never skip it because it is my favorite meal of the day!  Pancakes, oatmeal, Raisin Bran, Kashi cereals, English muffins, toast with PB and banana…the list goes on!  It is well known in my house that I would prefer to eat breakfast items for every meal of the day, but I know I would lack certain nutrients if I did that!  I think a good breakfast is the best way to start your day…the weird thing is, no matter what I eat for breakfast, I am always hungry within 2 hours. 

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That is why I am always on board for a morning snack!  I have some favorites like: apples with natural peanut butter, date balls and a piece of fruit, a tortilla wrap with PB and banana, etc.  (I am weird and have certain things I eat for morning snacks and then other things that I eat for afternoon snacks…you will never see me snacking on a yogurt bowl in the morning!)

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For lunches, I like to be sure I have some protein, carbs, veggies and then a piece of fruit or something else on the side..I love salads, sandwiches or wraps loaded with healthy fats, veggies and chicken, pita pizzas…oh, the list goes on!!

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Afternoon snacks usually consist of: a yogurt bowl, tofu pudding with banana, perhaps another protein shake, no bake choco-krispie bites

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In the evening, I like to have more protein, perhaps some form of a carbohydrate, veggies, and hopefully lots of flavor!!  One of my favorite meals is a tomato pasta with homemade sauce, fish with homemade salsas, chicken parmesan (the healthy way), quinoa tacos…and more!

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Getting into my clean eating a lot more, I have noticed that by eating more natural items, less packaged stuff, more protein, and a better blend of foods, that I have been feeling better and fuller longer!  I feel better during my workouts and slowly am starting to feel the stresses ease away!  That is the thing with getting settled and slowly easing into big changes…eventually it will happen and you will just suddenly feel better!  Slow and steady wins the race!  If I can stay on track with my clean eats, my workouts and my daily routines, I think it will all be A-OK!!!  Now, to go get some more new recipes to try out and post on here!!

 

What are your favorite snacks or meals?

You are the sunshine of my life….

Sometimes we need to just get out in the sun in order to perk ourselves up on a sluggish day!  That is just what the boys and I did in order to change up our regular daily routine, and boost our energy (correction: MY energy)! 

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We went to the store to grab some essentials: sunscreen, water, salad (for me), and Euro!!  We headed to a lovely pool/recreation area that is 10 minutes from our home!  I was not sure what they had available and was pleasantly surprised because it was way better than I would have expected!  It was almost like being at a lake rather than an outdoor pool, which I loved!

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We started off with some simple play: Gavin chose playing with pebbles and James chose splashing around in the water!  I chose to have my salad that I bought (I even brought my own chicken to add to it for some extra protein)!

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Then it was time to explore around the area, there was a playground, sandpit, kiddie pool and a snack bar!  Gavin was loving the exploration, but seemed to find it difficult maneuvering around in his floatie swim suit (safety over comfort while in the water). He was also a little turned off by the special little waterfall that was set up.

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The sandy playground was a winner!

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James was all over the wade pool, balancing area, rope climbing and was actually happy when it was time to leave because he tuckered himself out!

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I was excited to come home so I could make an amazing dinner courtesy of Oh She Glows’ :Tomato Basil Cream Pasta

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Served up Gluten Free style with GF pasta, some mixed greens, homemade GF Caesar dressing and homemade croutons made from my GF bread and spices!

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So delicious and filling after our day in the sun!  It was a nice night to enjoy my carbs, relax with my new Oxygen magazine, and plan for next weeks meals!

How do you like to add a little sunshine to your life?

Quinoa Tacos

I had posted a while back about a quinoa taco salad that I made up to eat while all of my friends were eating taco rice.  I wanted to hit up the quinoa again this week, and I also wanted tacos…so I made Quinoa Tacos with a side of homemade avocado hummus!

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Quinoa Tacos

0.5lb 95% Lean ground beef

1.5c cooked quinoa

1 packet of taco seasoning (or your own blend: cumin, chili powder, roasted red pepper flakes)

3/4 c water

Toppings of your choice (I chose: mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, cilantro and taco sauce)

 

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Directions:

Brown up the beef and drain any grease that is in the pan, cook the quinoa at the same time (bring to a boil and let simmer until water is gone- about 10 minutes).  Add the taco seasoning and water to the beef.

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Add 1.5c of quinoa to the beef and season mixture.  Stir it up and let it simmer for about 4 minutes

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I chose to have my tortilla on the side and I used this brand (it is the only wheat tortillas they have available here).

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I added all of my preferred toppings, about 1.5 Tbsp of my homemade avocado hummus, and the torn up tortilla!  I like to use a lot of toppings to increase the volume and to get as many flavors going as possible!

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There you have it, easy quinoa tacos!  Lots of flavor, very filling, very tasty and quick to prepare!  I like the last detail since I am usually cooking up three separate dinners every night…but, more on that later!