Monday, January 23, 2012

A Lifestyle Change, For The Better!

There is something I'd like to share with you.  It's something I haven't mentioned on here before.  I want to tell you about the changes I have made to my diet within the last couple of months.  I have drastically cut my consumption of carbohydrates.  I guess you can say I'm on a "low-carb diet", although I don't think of it as a diet at all.  I consider it more of a lifestyle change and one that I can live with.  I am not an extremist.  I do consume some carbs, for example, in fruits and vegetables and occasional treats.  Before I go on, I have to thank my dear friend, Sandy Gillanders, for this new insight into low carb eating.  She has been on a low carb diet for months now and her knowledge, insight, and experiences have truly inspired me! Thank you, Sandy! 

If you asked me what carbohydrates were, less than a year ago, I would tell you that there were very high levels in bread, pasta, potatoes and rice, but I couldn't tell you how they affected me and my health.  I didn't know they could be all that bad.  So what are carbohydrates?  I've taken the following excerpt from the website:

"Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients in food, and you need them for energy and fuel. The others are protein (for muscle, hair, skin, organ, and tissue repair, as well as immunity) and fat (for organ cushioning, vitamin absorption, and growth).

What happens when you eat a carb?When you eat carbohydrates, they get broken down into sugars (glucose, fructose and galactose) and are either quickly used for energy or are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles for use later.

How fast they get broken down depends on the type of carb you eat. Simple carbohydrates quickly get broken down into your bloodstream and give you a supercharge of energy, but leave you at a low later on. Classic examples: Fruit juice, white bread, white rice, cereals with little fiber, bagels and candy.

Complex carbohydrates contain less sugar and also have fiber, so they're broken down at a slower rate. These carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These are the ones that also help keep your cholesterol levels and weight under control. "

There is so much to learn about carbohydrates.  I cannot explain it all here.  What I have learned is that carbohydrates are consumed as sugar by your body.  You have to do your own investigating.  Due to my own poking around, reading, and research, I have chosen to reduce my intake of carbohydrates.  I've mostly elimintated bread, white rice, potatoes, and pasta from my day-to-day eating habits.  Every morning, I used to eat bread in some form (either toast, english muffin or bagel).  At lunch, many times I would have a sandwich, equaling more bread and tons more carbs.  And my dinner would include at least one side of rice, pasta, or potatoes (if not two).  Can you see how many carbs I was consuming?  And these carbs were turning into sugar in my body!

I am not saying I will never eat bread, potatoes, rice, pasta or sweets again.  That would be totally untrue and I wouldn't want to deprive myself of a treat once in a while.  I've just replaced those high carb foods with healthier options including more vegetables (which I love anyhow) more chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and fish.  I feel so much healthier and I am very proud of choosing this healthier lifestyle for myself and my family!

There are many advantages to this new change in diet.  For one, dinners are so much simpler and less time-consuming.  But there is one distinct disadvantage to this new low-carb lifestyle - the fact that I won't be baking as much.  If you know me, you know I love to bake...the sight and smell of baked goods just makes me happy.  So although, baking and high carb dinners are on the backburner these days, I promise to still treat myself, once in a while! 

Let me share some of what's been cooking around here these days...

Shrimp Stir-Fry

Chicken Tika Masala

Chinese Fried Rice - not rice at all ; it's really made with grated cauliflower & scrambled egg!
Thank you to Sandy for sharing this trick with me.  And it's delicious!

My yummy lunch - roasted asparagus with chopped garlic

Roast turkey breast, with roast beets and snowpeas

Italian Sausage Stir Fry

This one is NOT low carb.  I made this hot milk cake on Saturday, because after all, if I don't bake, I am not ME.  You can find the recipe on Susan Branch's blog.  The link is on the right hand side of my page. 

Thank you for stopping by!  I always love to hear from you and I appreciate all of your comments.  Happy Monday!  I hope you have a wonderful week! xo

Friday, January 13, 2012

Easy, Cheesy Broccoli Soup!

Early this morning, on my walk to school, the cold wind whipped my face.  My nose began to freeze and I secretly wished I had brought my scarf.  The girls and I looked as if we were walking on eggshells, trying to avoid the slippery ice, beneath our feet.  It was SO cold.  After dropping off Anita, Annabel and I walked home as fast as our legs could take us (without slipping). 

You don't need me to tell you that there's nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm someone up on a cold weather day.  So, for lunch, I decided to make a broccoli soup with some ingredients I had on hand in the refrigerator.  And since I can't have you all over for soup (for obvious reasons) I would like to share my recipe with you.  Maybe, you're in need a hot bowl of soup, yourself!

Easy, Cheesy Broccoli Soup


6 cups chicken broth
4 cups broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
1 carrot, grated
1 cup half & half cream
1 cup 2% milk
4 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp course salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated


  1. In a large pot, bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add broccoli  and carrot, boil over medium heat until tender, approximately 8 minutes. 
  2. In a large bowl, pour in half & half and milk.  Whisk in 4 tablespoons of cornstarch until blended.  Pour into the soup pot. Add salt and pepper.  Continue to boil over medium heat for several minutes until broth is thickened.  Reduce heat to low.
  3. Stir in grated cheddar cheese until melted.  Remove soup from heat.  Serve hot.

Nuno came home just in time for lunch, and we all enjoyed a nice, hot bowl of soup.  I'm so happy it's Friday.  Anita's almost home from school and we get to enjoy the rest of the weekend together!  I hope you are all having a great day so far. Happy Friday, have a wonderful weekend everybody!  Stay warm! xoxo

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Thank You Note For You

 Prince of Wales hotel - Feb. 2011

Did you know that January is National Thank You Month?  I didn't know, until just this morning, when Nuno posted this as his facebook status:

"Today is national "thank you" day, be thankful for what you have and don't have."

He heard it on the radio while driving this morning.  I went online and discovered that January is national thank you month!  I could not let this day go by without saying thank you to my blog readers and followers. 

Thank you for reading my posts.  Thank you for all of your comments.  Thank you for taking the time to tell me you enjoy reading my blog and thank you to those who enjoy reading it, quietly, and have never told me. 

I couldn't possibly continue writing my posts without your input, comments, and inspiration.  You make me feel that you care about what I have to say; that you enjoy reading and seeing what I have to share.  I am blessed to have such good friends and family who support me on here and share in my most happy moments.  Because, that is what life is about, sharing happy moments, good times, fun adventures... LIVING, LAUGHING, LOVING! 

Thank you for coming along on my journey.  It makes me happy to share my life with you.  I will continue to document the things that make me S-M-I-L-E and hope that they, in turn, put a smile on your face. 

So, as Nuno said, so thankful for what you have and don't have.  I am!  I send out a huge thank you to the Universe...there's no place I'd rather be, than here with you! 

"Gratitude is the best attitude. There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind than gratitude. It is accompanied with such an inward satisfaction that the duty is sufficiently rewarded by the performance."

Friday, January 6, 2012

And The Winner Is???

Let me first start off by thanking each and every person who commented on my giveaway post...

Thank you to Susan, Sherry, Denise, Nancy S, Joann, Sandy, Melissa, Rosa, Rachel, Serafina, Bela, Janie, Nancy M, Silvia, Katherine, and Morwenna!

I was so pleased with the turnout.  There were sixteen names entered into the draw.  It was such a pleasure reading the comments from my usual readers, as well as those from welcome new faces.  Thank you all!  Your sweet comments and birthday wishes made me SMILE.

Well, let's get on with the giveaway!

These are all the names entered in the draw

Names were folded twice and put in a hat

 Watch the little video...

I was pretty shocked to see my Mom's name pulled out of the hat!  She commented on my post and it was only fair to enter her name in the contest. So in all fairness, Rosa (my mom) is the winner.  CONGRATULATIONS MOM! 

I thought the winner was really close to home, so I had to give someone outside my close circle a chance.  I decided to draw another name for a runner up prize.  It gave me an excuse to do a little extra shopping today.  Here is the second prize:

 A set of six microfiber cloths, a chocolate mousse hazlenut Lindt bar,
a box of Scottish Shortbread cookies and a champagne bottle candle!

I will be in contact with you soon.

I truly wish everyone could have won, but unfortunately, only one can win (or two)!  I will definitely be doing another giveaway in the near future.  Thank you to all who participated.  I really appreciate the time you take to leave comments and let me me know, "Hey, I'm here, and I'm reading this!".  It means so much. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

My birthday and New Year Giveaway!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my friends and followers a very happy New Year, filled with all that is good - love, health, and happiness.  This year, I spent New Year's Eve with my in-laws at their home, together with family, cousins and friends.  We ate dinner, nibbled on desserts, drank and celebrated the first minutes of 2012 together with a champagne toast.  On New Year's day, we had lunch at my parents' home and spent the afternoon together with them. I am thankful to be here, alongside my family and friends, with a clean slate and a fresh start to another year.  I am already making plans for this year and thinking about all that I want to do and make happen. 

A few days before New Year's Eve, Nuno, the girls and I went on a little getaway to Niagara-on-the-Lake to celebrate my 35th birthday!  We left our snowy city of Barrie and drove approximately two hours southwest, to the town of Niagara-on-the-lake (20 minutes from Niagara Falls).

I've celebrated many of my past birthdays in Niagara Falls because it's one of our favourite getaways.  It's far enough away from home, but still close by, and the girls and Nuno are always on holidays this time of year, so it works out splendidly!

Before arriving in N-O-T-L, we stopped off at Niagara Falls to visit one of our favourite shops - the Hershey store!  No visit to Niagara is complete without a stop in here. 

In my bag is a little something for the giveaway. You will see it at the end of this post!

Our beautiful room in the historic
Prince of Wales Hotel

This painting was hanging in our room.  It reminded me of
the girls and I.

Shortly after checking in, Nuno and Annabel enjoyed some relaxing time in the room.  Anita and I, similar, the way we are, couldn't wait to get out there and browse the shops.  Here are a couple photos I took along our walk. 

Exiting our hotel

The Cenotaph town clock is located in the centre
of the main road.  It is a memorial built to honor
those who died during World War 1

On our little walk, we went into one of my favourite hat shops
and I bought myself an adorable knit hat with a rose on it.
And in two other shops, I found a couple of other things for my giveaway! 

Once we arrived back at the room, Annabel was already waiting for us, with her swimsuit on

I took this shot of our hotel late at night, after we arrived from
our dinner.  Isn't it beautiful?  This was our first time staying here.  Some of you may remember
 we had a "proper" tea in this hotel last year, in the tea room.  It is incredibly beautiful, inside & out!

On the day of my birthday, we drove across the border into the State of New York.
We had lunch at The Olive Garden in Amherst and browsed one of the huge outlet malls in the area.
We didn't find any better deals on the US side, so we headed back over to our side.

A slice of Tiramisu!  YUM!!

In the evening, hotel staff delivered this beautiful rose to the room.
They did not know it was my birthday, but how fitting!

It was time for dinner, we hadn't made any reservations, so we went out for a walk.  And started snowing...just for me (one of my wishes, by the way)!

We ended up having dinner at Bistro Six One.
I was pleasantly surprised with their food and ended up eating
THE best grilled salmon I've ever had!  I will defintely be stopping
in here again.

On our way back from dinner, we saw this horse and carriage outside
the front doors of our hotel

Breakfast at the hotel restaurant on the morning after

Nativity scene outside of the Trisha Romance Gallery

The Trisha Romance Gallery in N-O-T-L
houses her beautiful paintings and prints!  She's a favourite of mine!

Greaves Jam, where I found one of the giveaway items! last stop in Niagara Falls before heading home again.

And Now...

My New Year Giveaway...

Everything you see here, I purchased in Niagara Falls & Niagara-On-The-Lake (except for the candle).  You will receive one Hershey's Black Cherry & Almonds milk chocolate bar, one package of 3 assorted dish towels, a 64 ml jar of Greaves pure strawberry jam, and a champagne bucket candle to officially commemorate the start of the New Year! 

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment on this post and become a follower, if you are not one already.  I will enter all of your names in a hat, and my girls will help pull out the winning name on Friday, January 6th!  I will anounce the winner later that day!
Good luck, everyone!

Happy New Year to you all!  Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful first week of the year!
I will be in touch again soon. xo