Be More With Less

Have you ever wondered about having more with less?

I have for a long while now.  I wondered what it would be like to minimize stress, possessions, work, household responsibilities, financial obligations and in-turn having more time, energy, sleep, happiness.

I’ve slowly been making some small and some big small changes to live my life on purpose … creating my own little manifesto for happiness.  Life is after all ours to create and live!  Life is pretty simple actually; it’s we as humans that have a way of complicating it.

My journey began when I decided to move from Toronto to rural Manitoba, 15 months ago.  That was step one in eliminating the +++ stress and road rage 0f sitting in traffic for countless/needless hours, releasing some financial burden of a $$$ mortgage and surrounding myself with more things that I wanted to enjoy.

I have always been one who is well organized with my time, priorities and my house.  I can take on a lot, but I can always manage to get it done, on time and on budget.  I’m also a bit of a nut about having a clean and well organized, uncluttered house … everything has a home and belongs in its place!

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things debuted on Netflix a few weeks ago (check out the trailer at https://minimalismfilm.com/), and of course I had to watch it.  The documentary “examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life-families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker-all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less”(movie info gracias a Rotten Tomatoes)

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Like many of the folks who have taken up the minimalist, simple life approach, I am on a search for balance and freedom by:

  • Reducing material possessions – they drain bank accounts; take up space and our attention.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give your your favourite brands, a book collection – but it does mean buying with a purpose.
  • Time – reducing commitments and activities that are not in line with my values.
  • Thoughts – reducing negative thoughts and emotions (which also may mean eliminating certain relationships) – negative thoughts, like negative people, are completely useless and do not improve us.  When I have a repetitive thought, I try to decipher whether it is constructive anguish or useless rumination.  If it’s a useless rumination, I get rid of it.
  • Debt – this is a big one for most of us. Free yourself from credit card and LOC debt, car payments as soon as possible.  I have been paying cash for things up front for a while now.  And, if I am required to purchase on credit, I pay it back the same day.
  • Dress with less –  consider Project 333 – dressing with only 33 items for 3 months (clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories) sounds extreme, but thousands of people know that it actually makes life easier instead of more challenging (see all of the reviews and praise online). And, let’s be honest here – I am apt to wear the same few items regardless of the large walk-in closet full of clothing.  Check out their website:  http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/

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A bigger step toward this freedom is tiny house living.  I am in love with this movement on so many levels.  More and more people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular reasons include environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom -> that’s me, count me in.  My plan is not to have to work to 65, heck I’m seriously aiming for Freedom 55!

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Photo: Mint Tiny House Company – Loft Edition

Retirement isn’t just a form of magical thinking ,  I don’t envision myself working a moment longer than I have to.  My how times have changed.  Where I once used to envision us in our huge home,  I now picture us, living in our tiny home, on Vancouver Island,  with our important possessions (my brother may lose it when he reads this – in a good way – but I’m coming to realize that happiness has nothing to do with all your stuff) , living simple, spending our mornings sipping coffee on the veranda, and spending our days hiking, lazing, reading a book, traveling the world, watching the stars – whatever it is that we want and love to do.  Live Simple.  Live happy.

A simple Life:  It means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value ~ Zen Habits


🎶It’s Not Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas🎶

It’s a week before Christmas, I’m not overly excited.  It doesn’t feel much like Christmas this year.  For the first time in 23 years, I won’t be with my chids  … chids is a Tinaism – my brain has this tendency of mixing like words and creating it’s own new word.  Chids is a mixture of children and kids.

20 years ago, I couldn’t wait for 42.  I had calculated 42 as the age that my babies would be all grown up and have ventured out on their own to conquer the world.  And now that I’m 42, I wanna do-over, I want a few more years back.

I wasn’t going to even put up a tree this year.  However, I went home a few weeks ago on business.  It’s probably a good thing that I did … seeing the CN Tower lit up in her green and red, being at work for the Christmas Trinket & Treat days, receiving a few little gifts for the season from my mom and mémère and having dinner with my friend Laurie and her husband, Richard – listening to her infectious love of the holidays as she described her pain staking work on reviving her Christmas amaryllis and talk about each of the unique ornaments on her adorable little Christmas tree gave me just enough oomph to not be Mrs. Scrooge over the holidays. So, I managed a tree and a few decorations.

Right now, I’m feeling a tad envious of those of you who are wrapping presents from Santa to set under the tree.  To those of you whose children still wants physical gifts and not money.  To those of you whose little ones want to be read T’was the Night Before Christmas as bedtime. My nugget of wisdom —  enjoy, it’s so cliché but true – time passes way to darned fast.

Although Christmas will look different this year, we are creating new traditions … Midnight mass on Christmas Eve, volunteering with Meals on Wheels, breakfast in bed on Christmas morn, a hike through the mountains in the afternoon (weather permitting of course).  Plus, the chids and I are looking at planning some quality time next month to somewhere nice and warm 🔆 … LA? Miami? Dominican?

Joyeux  Noël!

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T xo


 

Keep Calm While The Renovations Continue …

I love home decor. I’ve owned 6 homes and with each one I’ve always wanted to make them “mine”.  Fortunately … or unfortunately I’ve never been one to be ok with the status quo.  I enjoy expressing myself through decor.

We moved into our current home last November.  A 3200 sq ft century home with 4 fully finished levels (complete with walk up attic and finished basement). The previous owners had updated the space, so everything was new.  However, what one owner finds suits their taste, another doesn’t.

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I liked the house, but I didn’t love the house (in all fairness, unless I custom built I’d always wanna put my own touch on it).  However, it was updated and had good bones as they say. Most importantly it had updated plumbing, electrical, windows and roof. And, coming from Toronto, I REALLY  loved the price!  So I set out to once again, make our home, ours.

I like homes that feel inviting and cozy.  Homes that say, “friend, come on in for tea” or “let’s catch up over a glass of wine”.  Each of my homes have had a different look and feel depending on their history and style.  I’ve owned both brand new builds and older century homes.  I love older homes, I always have. They have so much more character … wide baseboards, stained glass windows, solid wood doors, crown moulding and railings.

As we have finished a large part of the renovations, I thought I’d share the progress to date with you.

Kitchen

The kitchen was newly installed by the previous owners.  They were Santa Fe with a cherry finish.  The countertops are granite, stainless steel appliances, the floor was vinyl with a tiled pattern and while it matched the kitchen well, it wasn’t for me.  There’s an addition in the back of the kitchen, which contains the laundry room (separate area), bar area and mini seating area, we also have our TV hanging on that back wall.  The kitchen was nice, but, I don’t prefer cherry wood (that’s just my opinion), I’m not fond of the red tinge it has.  Also, I prefer a shaker cabinet to Santa Fe.  I like clean lines as oppose to ornateness.  There are other ornate finishings like the columns under the eat in kitchen, dental moulding at the top of the cabinets.  Combined with the floor and choice of wall colours, it really darkened the space.  I was debating staining it a dark rich chocolate to modernize it a bit or painting it white.  I love white, especially white on white on white.  It was decided …I wanted white cabinets.

The cabinets were brand new and replacing them or refacing them would just be an utter waste of money.  Painting cabinets can be tricky, they require a lot of work and patience.  I’ve painted cabinets before, but, this kitchen was massive and we couldn’t afford to replace them if I goofed this up.  I did a lot of research on the best methods and paints to use.

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No excessive elbow grease and days and days of coat after coat led us to Plaster Paint. Plaster Paint eliminates the need to sand, prime, or strip most surfaces.  Now remember people, you are painting cabinets, you are not going to have a factory finished look, so do not expect that.  It took two coats of paint and two coats of liquid gold matte wax to complete our kitchen.  I’m giving this product two thumbs up.  The paint is usually used to create a “shabby” look or age/distressed look to your project.  If you’re interested in more info on plaster paint visit: http://plasterpaintcanada.ca

There was no backsplash in the kitchen, I like backsplash.  It’s a way to further define, add colour and character to your kitchen.  It was just painted in a mustardy yellow.  I decided to go with long, wide white subway tiles.  Note: the folks at Home Depot where we bought the tile, suggested we use a two sided, self-adhesive tape to adhere the tile because we intended on doing  it ourselves, so we went with it.  Don’t do it!  We paid someone to put up the tile and all they did was slide down and fall off.  We had to have my brother take down all of the tile and put it up with mastic (insert angry emoji).

We updated lights with cool new off-white RANARP pendant lights from IKEA.

The previous owners painted the main areas of the house that mustardy yellow.  I like the colour, I had it in one of my townhouses years ago.  But, it didn’t suit this house.  So we painted the kitchen a brighter off white colour (we customized our very own colour using Benjamin Moore paint).

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After #1
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After #2

Notice how the new cabinets are two toned?  I love the two tone cabinet look.  I opted for a more subtle look rather than a stark contrast. I painted the island and the liquor cabinet a lighter grey. (Plaster Paint colours used: ivory lace and mist).

I also changed the handles to a more sleek, contemporary look (just a few more to add).

The floors were installed by my brother, with some help from my fiance and soon-to-be-father-in-law (thank you shout outs xo).  We chose an earthy toned laminate for the entire house for cleaner lines and better flow.  I really wanted to use a dark, rich hand- scraped walnut similar to the floors I had installed in my Toronto home, but, I had to be realistic.  I wouldn’t get the return on my investment putting those floors into a house in rural Manitoba.  But, I still wanted a similar look. Found a great deal at McMunn & Yates for a 12 mm laminate and went for it.

Dining Room and Living Room

The previous owners continued with the vinyl tile into the dinning area and then switched to a dark chocolate brown plush carpet for the adjoining living room.  Totally not my thing!  I’m not a big fan of carpet.  I can handle it in separate rooms like bedrooms or basements, but, not in the same room.  It cuts off the flow of the room and makes it appear smaller and broken up.

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Living and Dining Area – Before

We continued to dark floors throughout and got rid of the mustard yellow walls.  I decided on adding accent walls.  This is the first time I’ve done this, I’m usually not a fan but I saw this colour scheme in one of my fave local shops and it looked good, so I tried it … I mean, after all, it’s just paint – it can always be changed.

I replaced the pendant chandelier with a rectangular linear chandelier with Edison bulbs.

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Living and Dining Room – After

Decor includes: a print of back home  (I heart Toronto), a free floating electric fireplace (purchased from Costco) and home made mantle (not seen in photo).  The dining set we brought with us from Toronto and was purchased at Structube.  The sideboard was purchased from one of my fave local shops in town, Style Mercantile (see previous blog “Let’s All Get Cozy With Our Local Shop Owners”).  Couch was also transported from Toronto and was purchased from Bowring & Co (I’m thinking we may need to purchase a lighter coloured couch now -I’m on the search).  Also to be added – cow hide rug.

What’s Next You Ask?

We are still working on our home.  We still have so many things that we are in the process of doing.

Right now we are working on finishing the upper bath.  We just need to install the white marble penny tile.

The laminate floor continued into the laundry room.  We are now in the process of stacking the washer and dryer and are looking to install built-in cabinetry.

I’d like to replace the cabinet and sink in the main floor bath.  Something a little more sleek and clean.  I have my eye on a few cabinets.  The wood floor also continued into that room as well.  It too will be painted from the mustard yellow, colour TBD.

We also have plans for the basement.  We’ve selected a colour for the walls.  We’re in the process of looking at new fibre floor (best flooring for older basements because if they ever get wet, you can remove it hang it out to dry and re-lay it) and am also looking into barn doors and built-in book shelves.

Stay tuned for more blog updates …

Namaste

T xo

~  Some people look for a beautiful place.  Others make a place beautiful – Hazrat Khan

 


 

Recipe: Banana Oat Bran Protein Muffins [0 sugar, 0 flour]

 I LOVE bananas, they’re probably one of my favourite fruits taste wise (banana bread, banana pecan muffins, banana pancakes, banana strawberry smoothies, oh and of course banana mamas!).   While on this weight loss journey, I didn’t want to have to give up all of my favourite things and I wanted to make sure I had healthy snacks on hand in case I get a sweet tooth!    This muffin recipe I especially love because it contains NO flour, NO Sugar, is packed with protein!

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INGREDIENT INFORMATION

  • Oat bran:  Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, but it doesn’t have to taste like cardboard. Oat bran is a type of insoluble fiber – the kind that can help lower your cholesterol. Aside from the cardiovascular bonus, oat bran can help regulate your bowel movements and keep your colon healthy. Just 1/2 cup of oat bran provides about 2.2 g of insoluble fiber — a good start toward your daily needs.
  • Protein powder: I use protein powder in these muffins – 1 scoop.  I find it gives the muffins a hint more of flavour and additional protein. I used vanilla protein powder, but chocolate or any other of your fave flavours would taste great too!
  • Bananas: I tend to use unthawed frozen bananas.  We all have those straggler bananas that start going brown.  Instead of tossing them, throw them in the freezer – when you’re ready to make your muffins, just unthaw them and you’re good to go – they are already soft and super easy to blend in.
  • Applesauce:  I use unsweetened applesauce instead of oil
  • Greek Yogurt: MORE protein! I use non-fat plain greek yogurt for additional protein and to keep the muffins moist. Use your favourite, but, mine are Liberte and Oikos.

 

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Photo: Fresh out of the oven

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 2/3 cup oat bran
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 small or medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 2 large egg whites (or 1 egg)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or grease well with coconut oil (I use extra virgin coconut oil)
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together oat bran, protein powder, baking powder and cinnamon; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix mashed banana, applesauce, greek yogurt, egg, and vanilla together until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Let batter sit two-three minutes to thicken.
  7. Divide batter evenly into 12 muffin cups and bake 15 minutes or until toothpick/fork inserted into center comes out clean.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tin and place on wire rack to cool completely.
  • Prep time:  10mins
  • Cook time:  15 mins
  • Total time:  25 mins

Once cooled, I typically wrap them individually and freeze them and enjoy when I want a healthy snack.

Namaste

T xo

~ Happiness is Freshly Baked Muffins – moi


 

Misophonia: Why Does Hearing You Chew Make My Skin Crawl?

It’s a basic necessity of life, we all need to do it, but, why does hearing you chew make me wanna jump out my skin?   Each bite you take, each time you chew your food, or swallow bothers me.  I’m crazy, right?

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It CANNOT be quiet when we eat.  If we eat in front of the TV to catch up on the events of the day after work, the volume goes up from 12 to 22 instantaneously, even if we are both eating.  If we have guests over for dinner, the record player is playing one of our favourite vinyls (and I’ve strategically positioned myself closest to the music).  Eating out is actually great – not just because I don’t have to cook but also because they always have on background music or other people’s conversations throughout the restaurant fill the air enough so I can’t hear you chew, but the loud music is also a distraction.

The worse is hearing people “sap” while they eat.  I don’t know if there’s a formal word for this, but, in my family (we’re French) we call it “sapping” — it’s the noise one makes when they smack while they eat. I remember when I was young my memere would say “arrête de sapper!!” (stop smacking!!).

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Heaven forbid someone is eating and I’m not!  Say, for example, you’re having a snack and we’re talking … oh goodness!  I’ll never say anything to you, because I recognize it’s just frigging weird of me to do so, but, inside it’s grating on my nerves. I’m staring down your snack trying to determine how much longer I have to listen to this.  The worst foods for this, of course, are the crunchy ones – like an apple, chips, celery etc.  If I don’t know you well or you’re basically not my family – I’ll never say anything rude whether you’re eating normally or you’re “sapping” I have said “are you almost done?” or “aren’t you gonna save some of that for later?”  That’s me trying to be slick in saying  “please hurry the f*ck up, I’m about to lose my sh@t here ” 😝. My family on the other hand, hears it ALL THE TIME! I feel crazy sometimes, I have to tell them “I can’t stand hearing you chew” and I have to get up and leave the room – and I’m irked, like my head is gonna blow off irked.

I have no ability to tune things out, and apparently, it’s a “thing” — but really, what isn’t a “thing” these days?  My weird affliction has a name – misophonia (aka selective sound sensitivity syndrome).  WebMD describes it as a “strong dislike or hatred of specific sounds”.  Ain’t that the truth – like nails on the chalkboard truth.  I always thought I was just easily annoyed, but now I know it is a particular brain thing.

Ok, so I can now put a name to my insane feelings of hearing people chew, but guess what?  The list goes on … I read through the list of common triggers, it makes total sense, it’s not just chewing – I have soooo many of these!

I’ve broken some of them into categories based on things I’ve seen online.

Mouth/Eating: chewing, crunching, gulping, gum chewing, kissing sounds, nail biting, silverware scraping teeth/plate, slurping, sipping, licking, smacking, spitting, sucking (ice, etc), swallowing, talking with food in mouth, lip smacking, grinding teeth, throat clearing and jaw clicking.

Breathing/Nasal/Vocal: breathing, sniffling, snorting, snoring, nose whistling, humming, muffled talking, nasally voices, overused words such as um or ah, soft whisper-like voices and whistling.

Environmental: clicking from texting, keyboard/mouse, pen clicking, papers rustling/ripping, ticking clocks

Utensils/metals: dishes clattering, fork scraping teeth, silverware hitting plates or other silverware and rattling change in pockets.

Body Movement related: Foot shuffling or tapping, finger snapping, foot dragging, flip flops, knuckle/joint cracking, nail biting and clipping, eating, chewing, fidgeting, jaw chewing/movement.

Now that I’ve gone and self-diagnosed myself off the internet, a lot of the triggers above ring true for me for sure.  And trust me when I say that people with misophonia are aware that the sounds that trigger them don’t bother most other people.

Depending on the severity your reaction may range from mild to severe.  You might feel: Anxious, Uncomfortable, The urge to flee, Disgust.

Or maybe if it’s a bit worse you feel: Rage, Anger, Hatred, Fear, Emotional distress, A desire to stop whatever is making the noise, Skin crawling.

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Personally, as someone who doesn’t have much impairment beyond the occasional spikeof extreme irritation – mine isn’t so bad compared to others.  Some aren’t able to carry on  a normal conversation, can’t socialize, work or have normal relationships.  I try to chalk it up to “holy crap, this sound is annoying the beejezus out of me” and in all honesty I’ve gotten into disagreements about it. For the most part however, I’m able to tolerate it for as long as I have to, if not I remove myself from the annoyance and I move on.  And, for that whole time your snacking on your yummy, I’m just waiting for the moment you take your last bite 🤯

~ When you hear someone breathing and you just can’t ask them to stop 😉 – Moi