I love living in a big city. There are always new exhibitions to see, restaurants to try, and quaint neighborhoods to discover. In fact, I often feel there are so many options to choose from, and that I miss out on some fantastic opportunities because I just can’t be in two places at the same time!
One of the things that I’d like to share more with you, the readers of my blog, is how to live slow and intentionally. I didn’t realize there was a term for how I like to live. I’m an emotional person, love connecting with people, and tend to overthink things. But I also appreciate all the things life has to offer, the big and the small, the material and the immaterial. I like being alone as much as I like being with others. And, I like walking outside as much as I can, enjoying nature and just feeling a part of the world. Yes, even in a big city, you can experience much of mother nature. Continue reading →
There’s one salad that my husband and kids can all agree on, and that’s my Avocado Greek Salad! It’s also a hit with guests at our summer barbecues, family holiday dinners, and basically all year-round. It’s very easy to make, and with the avocados, feta cheese, and olives, it’s a filling and delicious salad. Most people ask for the recipe as soon as they’ve had their first bite.
Greek Salad, like most foods these days, means different things to different people. There are so many variations at restaurants and in homes. Some Greek Salad is made with iceberg lettuce, others with romaine lettuce. The type of feta cheese used (sheep or cow) can make a difference in taste, as can the type of tomato (plum versus hot house versus beef steak or even cherry tomatoes).
And, the original Greek Salad is not likely what you’re having when you go to a Greek restaurant in North America. The traditional Greek Salad, called Horiatiki, is made with tomatoes, green peppers, red onions, and cucumbers – without any lettuce. It’s dressed with sliced feta, kalamata olives, salt, oregano, and the best olive oil and (sometimes) vinegar — this is what you’ll find served in most restaurants in Greece.
Although the traditional Greek Salad is delicious, my family likes it with the addition of romaine lettuce and a whole avocado. Yes, I said avocado! We all know the health benefits of avocados: they’re low in saturated fat, contain zero cholesterol, and are high in potassium. There’s also something about the avocado that lends a creaminess and dimension to the salad. Continue reading →
In the last month, I’ve visited with family in two very different parts of the world, and I wanted to share with you why I loved these two family visits. In early March, I went to Lebanon to visit my parents, brothers, and extended family, and, in late March, we went to the US to visit my husband’s family. Although these trips were in places far apart from each other, the reasons I enjoyed the visits are very similar.
As part of being mindful of how I spend my time, I really paid attention to the visits I had and why they were so important and meaningful. Visiting family seems like something you do because it’s associated with a certain holiday or milestone. Sometimes you feel like you need to make these visits out of obligation or expectations. Sometimes you love making the trips and taking the effort. And, sometimes, you’re just so darn grateful for the opportunities and savor each moment. The latter is how I felt in the last month.
Here are the 7 reasons I loved visiting with family recently. I hope they inspire you to plan more visits!
Reason 1: My family is a part of my history
This sounds so obvious, but it’s really deeper than having people who are related to you. I’m talking about the family resemblance, the common cultural background, a country’s understood traditions, and the feeling of connectedness. When you’re around your immediate and extended family, you see where some of your mannerisms and points of reference come from. For example, in Lebanon, we’re a bit of loud family. We yell from room to room or outside to someone in the garden. The neighbors pretty much know what we’re up to! In my family in particular, we are bitterly honest with each other and we tell it like it is. For spouses and in-laws, this may seem harsh at times, but it’s what we’re used to and how we grew up. It’s done lovingly, really. Engaging in this banter made me understand that growing up like this was normal for me, but that it might not seem so normal to my nuclear family of my husband and two teens, or for my in-laws. Continue reading →
This Banana Oat Muffins recipe is one of my new favorite recipes and I wanted to share it with you in time for the weekend.
I’ve been obsessed with oatmeal these days: steel cut oats for breakfast, dark chocolate oatmeal cookies, breakfast oatmeal cookies (recipe blogged here), and oatmeal waffles (recipe here)! There’s something filling about oats and the fiber content is a plus. So, I’m always on the lookout for all kinds of ways to enjoy oatmeal.
The other day I googled banana oat muffins and a few recipes came up. I spent time going through the recipe comments because I think that’s one of the best ways to know if the recipe works and how much people like it. Well, the Banana Oat Muffins recipe from Genius Kitchen had so many amazing reviews and comments, I just had to try it!
The best thing about these muffins is that they use about 5 bananas, or 2 cups. I always seem to have ripe bananas in the fruit bowl and this recipe put them to great use. Continue reading →
I’ve been meaning to post this Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Waffle recipe for some time now and, given that it’s National Waffle Day, why not?
Oatmeal is a food and fiber that I’ve always loved, be it in cookies, for breakfast, or in granola bars. Now I’m loving oatmeal in waffles. It also seems like waffles are all the rage these days, so I’ve probably been craving them subliminally. Have you seen the chicken and waffle recipes on Instagram and social media? What about waffle sandwiches at brunch? I admit to partaking in the latter.
When I was looking around for an oatmeal waffle recipe, I came across lots of them: gluten free, vegan, sugar-free. I tried many versions and tweaked the sugar levels. Interestingly, many used maple syrup, but I just stuck to regular sugar, to keep the batter thick. I played around with the fruit ingredients, sometimes using applesauce from a jar and sometimes increasing the fresh fruit content to where I didn’t include any applesauce.
The thing about this strawberry banana oatmeal waffle recipe is that it’s pretty forgiving. As long as it’s not too runny or too thick, a waffle iron can handle it! I also make it in a big glass measuring cup, which makes pouring it onto the waffle iron very easy. Continue reading →
If you like crumbles, or anything with oatmeal, sugar, and butter in it, then you’re going to love these Apple Crumble Cups that are easy and oh-so-presentable!
I’ve written two posts on crumbles (peach/strawberry and peach) in the past. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a crisp, a crumble, and a cobbler, it’s that crumbles contain oatmeal. This recipe is from allrecipes.com and is originally called a crisp, but it’s technically a crumble!
The reason I wanted to share this recipe is because I’ve been searching for one that makes mini crumbles. I was served something like this at a friend’s house, and I loved how cute and compact it is. Yesterday I was talking to my mom about a recipe she had seen on TV, and it reminded me of all the uneaten apples sitting in our fruit basket. I had to make some type of crumble!
Here’s the recipe, as taken from Allrecipes, attributed to Debbie Eckstein. I’ve changed the name to call it ‘Apple Crumble Cups’ instead of ‘Apple Crisp Cups’. At the end, I’ve given tips on how I made my cups. Continue reading →
When you enjoy the little things in life, you feel happier. It sounds simple, and it is. You know what I’m talking about: the little things like appreciating a blue sky after a few days of rain, walking around comfortably in above zero temperatures after weeks of freezing weather, and engaging in a pleasant 15 minute conversation with your teen.
In today’s busy world, I feel like I’m always on the go and that I don’t have a second to myself. Well, in the last few days, I’ve enjoyed a lot of little things that have made me happy, despite running around and overscheduling my time. Perhaps inspired by the little notebook I picked up from the dollar store recently or perhaps inspired by mindfully appreciating every moment I have with friends and family, I thought I would share the simple things that brought me joy over a 24 hour period.
Here are the little things that made me happy over the course of a day: Continue reading →
Every once in a while, you come across the easiest wow-factor cake and you wonder why you’ve never tried to make it before! That’s how I felt about the chocolate candy box cake that I’d been seeing on Instagram for a while now.
I’ve heard this cake called: ‘chocolate candy box cake’, ‘candy box cake’, or ‘Kit Kat cake’ – the latter because of the border around it. It’s basically a chocolate cake that has a bunch of candy on top. It has a border made of Kit Kat or other chocolate finger treats or pirouline wafers. You can make it in the shape of a circle or a rectangle and you can put only chocolate on it or a mix of candy and chocolate. Once you’re done, wrap a ribbon around the cake, and you’re done.
I did some online searches and watched a few YouTube videos for tips on how to make the cake. There’s lots of inspiration out there, so have a look.
My oldest daughter turns 18 in February and we decided to throw her a surprise 18th birthday party. She’s got a lot going on during her last year in high school including balancing school, social life, and university applications. We knew she wouldn’t have time to plan something that we could work on together, so I thought it best to throw her a surprise. I’m glad we did, because, a few days after her party, she said that she would not have had time to plan a party on her own.
I’d never thrown a surprise party at home before, so this was new to me. The hardest part was hiding some of the decorations and the cake, as well as orchestrating her being out of the house. Also, having 3 hours to decorate and get the food and activities ready was quite a challenge. But, I had lots of people helping me and it all worked out. I think the main thing to keep in mind is that kids like to be together, no matter what the occasion.
Here are my 5 tips for throwing a successful 18th surprise birthday party: Continue reading →
It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day today in Canada and, although I’ve struggled with anxiety for over 25 years, I’m finally feeling like it’s okay to talk about my journey. Bringing attention to mental illness is not something that comes easily for me because I’ve often worried about being judged by my anxiety. It’s probably a function of my age (I went to school in the 1900s, as my daughter likes to say) and a function of how others around me have told me to behave and (not) talk about my anxiety. I can’t blame my parents for telling me to keep quiet about my feelings when I was a young adult, when the real effects of having anxiety began to surface for me. It just wasn’t talked about if you wanted people to think you were normal.
So, I talked about my anxiety to my close friends, who were there for me as I dealt with a specific problem. Outside of the situation, we didn’t talk about what was happening in my mind, for two reasons. One, I didn’t really know there was a term for it because I tended to have mainly trigger-based anxiety and, when I wasn’t anxious, I was generally fine. Two, I was too busy to sit down and think a lot about anxiety as a topic and as a treatable illness – I had to finish school, get a job, move on with my life. My friends and I didn’t talk about mental illness as a subject or what I was going to do about my anxiety. We dealt with the current crisis and symptoms, and moved on. As long as I was busy, I could keep my anxiety at bay.