birthday reflections: still figuring things out

{image from here}

today i turn 30. it's always been a huge milestone in my mind, but now that i've got a little 6-month-old on my hands, my big birthday seems to have taken a bit of a backseat. but i'm sitting here enjoying a relaxing magazine read while phoenix naps, and NOT tidying the house, and that seems like celebration enough to me.

not just because of my birthday, but also because of where i'm at with parenting, with my career, and with my own self, i've been pondering my position in life lately. parenting (especially these last few days, when phoenix decided he'd rather scream than go back to sleep eleven times a night) has given me many unforeseen challenges to deal with. i've had to adjust my expectations numerous times to keep from jumping out a window. i'm learning that even though i may want things to go a certain way, there are other people involved (who don't communicate with language, and who don't do so well with compromise) who may want things a different way. so i am slowly learning to negotiate new boundaries and strategies, and we are finding our way together in the world.

my career and my personal life have taken a backseat to this all-encompassing job (as much as i loathe to call parenting a job), and i am looking forward to getting those things back on track now in the second half of my year of being a stay-at-home mama. but i know it's going to look different. i can no longer just head out for a run, teach a yoga class, or redesign my website whenever i'd like.

i admitted to myself recently that after moving to toronto i stopped blogging mostly because i lost that pining feeling that propelled me in the years i blogged after i graduated and got married and i was looking for a career and a life purpose and a feeling of being settled. suddenly, three years ago, with our move to toronto, i found all those things. i was in a city i adored. i began to teach yoga and manage an incredible yoga studio and it was as though all the pieces of my life fell into place. i felt like i had things figured out. and so i had nothing left to write about, except all the fun adventures that we were having in our amazing city (and to be honest, i got intimated by the idea that i had to take a ton of beautiful pictures, upload & perfectly edit said pictures, and add them artfully to my blog before i was able to write a post about a fun neighbourhood we explored, or a cute new cafe i'd discovered. it wasn't fun or therapeutic anymore, and so i stopped doing it).

but now everything is on its head again! i'm in a new city, making new friends, and - in a sense - starting over in my career as a yoga instructor. and i'm doing all of this with my new identity as a mama at the forefront of my mind. i'm so excited to carve out a new life for myself in nanaimo, to find places and situations that i fit into and feel excited and delighted to be in. but right now i can't imagine ever being comfortable leaving my sweet little sidekick with anyone besides close family (who aren't available at my beck & call) while i go out and pursue my dreams. i can't imagine having the energy to work towards developing my own brand, let alone opening my own studio. i can't imagine finding the motivation to get up in the morning and run in the cold winter air, when i could be soaking up the last precious minutes of sleep before our day officially begins. 

all of a sudden, i no longer have all the answers, and i'm remembering how exhilarating and scary that is all at once. i have big plans and dreams for myself, my career, my passion, my life, and i kind of have no idea at this point how i'm going to get there. but today, as i venture into a new decade in my life, i am starting to feel ready to embark on this adventure... or at least to take the first step.


vegan banana breakfast bread

image from here

i think today is the first day of autumn (although my calendar says tomorrow, but that seems too late to me!) and in my opinion, there is almost nothing better than a cup of tea and a warm slice of banana loaf slathered with (vegan) butter on a rainy fall day. unfortunately, with a little man around, wanting 150% of my attention during his waking hours, and with naps that last only 45 minutes (on a good day), there isn't much time for meal prep or baking. but a mama's gotta eat, and i'm always looking for a quick & easy snack that is just as nourishing as it is delicious, so i was pretty pleased when i discovered that i could make this yummy banana loaf in about 20 minutes, and i was even more pleased when i realized that the recipe is practically foolproof (i've made it half a dozen times, each with slightly varied ingredients, and each time it turned out great). i took this recipe originally from post punk kitchen, but have modified it to make it as healthy as i could (because i need a pretty good reason to justify eating chocolate chips for breakfast). i also have a lot of optional substitutions in the recipe, if you don't have quite the right ingredients on hand... foolproof!

the loaf comes together in about 20 minutes - quick enough that even the skimpiest of baby naps allows me to pop it into the oven before i am summoned from the phoenix's room (ps - a tour of phoenix's room is coming! i'm just putting the last touches on it and i'm oh so excited to show you), and then i've got two loaves baking to perfection and ready to enjoy over the next 24 hours (i usually freeze one for another day, and the other one rarely lasts longer than a day before being devoured). you could probably make this into muffins as well (maybe baking for 20 minutes instead of an hour), although i haven't tried (but again - it seems to be pretty foolproof so let me know how it goes!)

vegan banana breakfast bread
(adapted from post punk kitchen's zucchini-banana bread)
*vegan *dairy-free *can be made gluten free
prep time: 20 minutes // bake time: 1 hour
makes 2 flat loaves (5"x9" pans)

1/4 cup coconut oil, very soft or melted
1/4 cup applesauce, at room temperature (if you don't have applesauce, use another 1/4 cup coconut oil instead)
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (reduce to 1 cup for less sweetness; if you don't have coconut sugar, use brown sugar)
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed in a bowl (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (room temperature if possible)

3 cups whole wheat flour (i use a half whole wheat spelt flour & half buckwheat flour. if you wanted to make this recipe gluten free, use all buckwheat flour. it adds a great taste to the loaf!)
2 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp (heaping) allspice
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
* you can be flexible with your additions - use all nuts if you want, or any combo of nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, currants...

preheat oven to 350F. grease two 5"x9" loaf pans lightly with coconut oil (you can also use 4"x8" pans, and the loaves should be higher). in a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil & sugar until well mixed. add the mashed banana, vanilla, and grated zucchini (having the banana and zucchini at room temperature will help keep the coconut oil from solidifying, but if it's very well creamed with the sugar it should be okay), and mix well. 

add all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips to the bowl, in a mound on top of the wet ingredients. stir the dry ingredients gently to mix before mixing into the wet ingredients. fold or mix in the chocolate chips (or chocolate chips & walnuts).

bake for 1 hour (may need up to 1hr 20 min), testing for doneness (middle will not feel jiggly or squishy, and the edges will come away from the sides of the pan). if you're not sure whether your loaf is done, stick a knife in to see if it comes out clean. if you're still not sure, just bake it more. i prefer a slightly overbaked loaf to a mushy one any day :) allow loaves to cool slightly in their pans, then turn them out onto plates or platters to serve. enjoy with a hot cup of tea and a rainy autumn afternoon. 


our big move.

My little space has been so quiet lately, because there were big things on the horizon... a cross country move, back to the island I grew up on! the past two months have been a blur or packing boxes while entertaining a baby, organizing the purchase of a car and the rental of a townhouse from several thousand kilometers away (thank you paul for getting 'er done), and trying to keep our two kitties from having conniptions every time we had to corral them into their kennels and take yet another leg of our journey from Toronto to Vancouver Island. But now we've arrived at our cute Nanaimo townhouse with sunny yellow walls, and it feels wonderful to be back on the west coast! family is close by, the beautiful wilderness beckons, and I am adjusting to the slower pace of island life. as we speak, I am slow-cooking tomatoes from my brother-in-law's garden to make a tomato-basil pasta sauce (with basil from the farmer's market that happens downtown every friday, naturally). 

I'm looking forward to documenting many of our new adventures and sharing them here, and I imagine with such a different life than I had just five months ago, the look of this space will change a little too, so I am looking forward to a bit of a remodel now that I have the time (just so were clear, "the time" refers to the handful of half hour chunks that I have free each day while Phoenix naps).

It's hard to comprehend how much life really has changed in the five months since I stopped working full time as a yoga instructor and studio manager... instead of my huge belly welcoming mamas and mamas-to-be into classes at a beautiful yoga studio in the busiest city in our country, I'm now a mama myself, looking for babies yoga classes to attend here in our tiny city of 80,000 people. I left amazing friends behind in Toronto, and I miss them dearly. But I'm looking forward to honing my letter-writing skills, and to making new friends in my new town. I'm excited to spend all the smaller holidays with family, instead of only seeing everyone once or twice a year, and I'm hoping everyone will agree to come to our house for a few dinners too so I can finally show off my holiday cooking skills to more people than just Paul (although he's never complained when I made a full dinner for 10 to feed just us!)

I'm excited to be starting this new chapter of our life, and I can't wait to see where it takes us. Hooray for the west coast!