Monthly Archives: April 2016

March’s book pile

Today’s blog post is a straightforward title because I am simply too tired to think up a more creative synopsis. It appears my child doesn’t need the 8 hours of uninterrupted REM sleep that I do!  I feel the need to set my thoughts on something other than a baby’s schedule, so although I may not be at my mental best today, I have decided to write a post about the books I read in March.

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“Living on the Ragged Edge” by Charles R. Swindoll

This is a Christian devotion book that I have been reading off-and-on for the past few months. This book looks into the themes and lessons presented in the book of Ecclesiastes. What I really appreciated about this book was how it didn’t sugarcoat the world or tell you that everything will be okay. I know that seems depressing, but there is something freeing in letting yourself off the hook of giving every situation a positive spin or making your life into this fantasy of happy. We should still seek enjoyment in this life but we are more likely to find it by not making enjoyment our life’s sole purpose. And ultimately, our hope and our purpose is found in a relationship with God. However, these kernels of truth were only in a few chapters. In the other chapters, I found many of his statements outdated or irrelevant. This book was written almost 30 years ago, and you can tell these are the thoughts of a middle-aged conservative Christian man in the 1980s. I’m still glad I read the book but not sure if I’ll pick it up again.

3/5 bacon strips

“Thrive:The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder” by Arianna Huffington

I know this isn’t next in the stack of books but it seems like a good follow-up book review to the Swindoll book. I loved Huffington’s book and found it a great inspiration. I am not normally a self-help book but I found a lot of wisdom in this book along with helpful statistics presented in an easy-to-read manner. In line with what I was reading from Swindoll, this book is not about making yourself happy or avoiding suffering. But it is about finding practices and attitudes to help you thrive in your life. Her Thrive pillars are Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving. It was just what I needed to read this past month. It encouraged me to make the healthy habits in my life a priority such as meditation/prayer time instead of getting sucked into the YouTube video-watching vortex, unplugging from my electronics earlier in the evening to encourage my body to go to sleep when I climb into bed, and turning off the TV to go for a walk or do some yoga. As a busy new mom, there were some pieces of her advice I can’t implement (a good night sleep, daily yoga or exercise) but they are definitely things I will strive to implement once I’m out of the baby phase. I have adopted the practice of thinking of 10 things to be grateful for each day and found it can transform the way I see my whole day.

4/5 bacon strips

“Baby-Led Weaning” by Gill Rapley, Tracey Murkett

So another book in the parenting genre! My baby girl is 6 months old and starting on real food, so I picked up this book after attending a seminar at the Early Years Centre on Introducing Solids. This book had some great tips but I found (as with all parenting books) that you need to read this with a filter. I questioned some of their “facts” as there were no series of scientific studies to show that this is the best way to introduce solids, and I felt that they were a little too insistent that baby-led weaning was the superior method (but clearly that’s why they wrote the book to advocate this as the best method). Many babies have been spoon-fed and end up eating just fine as kids and adults, so I don’t think parents should be guilted if they decide to do spoon feeding especially at the beginning. What I appreciated most about this book was some of the common sense reminders such as including your child in your mealtimes, making the goal to feed them what you’re eating so you’re not making a separate meal for them for the rest of their lives, and trusting your baby. The book recognizes that babies are people and not some robots on a feeding schedule so it’s okay that a food your baby eats one week, he may push away the next week. It was also a good warning to know that baby feeding is messy (as you can see from below)!

3/5 bacon strips

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“Brooklyn” by Colm Toibin

I saw the trailer for the movie, which made me want to read the book since I usually try to read the book before watching the film version. I actually found the movie better than the book, which rarely happens. Due to the lack of jobs in post-WWII Ireland, Eilis accepts the sponsorship of an Irish priest in New York. Just as Eilis has settled into her new life, she has to return to Ireland for a couple of weeks. It is this visit that brings up anew the struggle between her heart in Ireland and the new life she has come to love in America. The Eilis in the movie was more alive and real to me than the Eilis described in the Toibin’s book. Toibin’s Ellis didn’t jump off the page or connect with me. The wishy-washy way she dealt with this struggle between America and Ireland in the book increased my dislike of her. However, the Eilis in the movie was one I could relate to and respected a lot more. Her decision in America vs. Ireland was portrayed in the movie so that it felt like the decision was really hers. In the book, it felt like she was reluctantly forced into her decision. Even with a character I didn’t attach to, I still read this book quickly and wanted to know the ending so it was still a decent read. I would even read a sequel to this book if there was one because I want to see how Eilis’s life turned out. Maybe read the book. Definitely watch the movie.

3/5 bacon strips

A Page of Love to My Granola

I love cereal. My morning doesn’t feel quite right without some cereal for breakfast. When I was pregnant, I often had a bowl of cereal for a midnight snack. The crunch, the fiber, the touch of sweetness, the cold milk in one spoonful. Yum! But I have had to take a break from cereal. In a renewed effort to lose the baby weight, I have introduced healthier alternatives to my favourite foods.

I am a big believer in moderation not starvation of the foods I love.I only have one life and food is a huge part of my life enjoyment. I pulled out this recipe for granola which I used to make a couple of years, and this has become my new go-to recipe to satisfy my cereal craving. It has more fiber and less processed sugar than any of my cereals, and it is so versatile! I can add any nuts or dried fruit that I have in my cupboard (my favourites so far: almonds and dried cranberries, peanuts and dried apricots). Or leave out the dried fruit and add fresh fruit!

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Homemade Granola Recipe

3 cups of oats (quick oats, steel-cut oats…whatever you have works)

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

3 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Options: nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds…); dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, chopped mango, apples, blueberries…); spices (cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground decaf coffee….)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a bowl, stir together oats, salt, brown sugar and any options.

In a microwavable container, combine and heat honey and coconut oil for 40 seconds. (I use a glass measuring cup because I can measure the ingredients in the container and it has an easy pour spout. If you want clumpier granola, then make more of this honey and coconut oil mixture.) Stir the contents to ensure the coconut oil is dissolved. Add vanilla extract.

Add wet ingredients to the oat mixture and stir well. Place mixture on a large cookie sheet covered in parchment paper (easy clean-up!). Spread evenly.

Place in oven and stir every 5 minutes to prevent burning. It should only take 10-15 minutes depending on how hot your oven is and how crispy you want your granola. If you’re choosing to leave it in longer than 10 minutes, watch the granola carefully. It can go from roasted to burnt very quickly (I’m speaking from experience here!).

Allow to cool before placing in a container. And enjoy!

Let me know your favourite granola flavour combination.