Free Spirit.

The Artist and I have frequent hear to heart talks, discussing life.  These talks are really heart felt and intense, but in a good way.  During one of our more recent talks, he told me about how he saw me as such a free spirit when we first met.  He said that I was very “real”.  That I was unafraid to be myself 100%.  And that he admired this, and my free spirited-ness inspired him to be more relaxed and stress free.

I was a little surprised by this, I had never really thought of myself as a free spirit, so I asked him why he thought this.  (Note: The Artist and I were roommates, with another roommate and two people living in the basement of the house during college, read more here: https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/3-years-of-the-best-marriage-ever/ ) He said that he was very uptight and felt stressed all the time with regards to things like doing paperwork, house chores, etc.  He admired how I left my dishes in the sink for a few days before washing them, and how it didn’t bother me.  How I slept in on weekends and walked around the house in my pyjamas in the middle of the afternoon.  How I stayed up late watching a movie I had been craving to see while eating a big bag of chips, even though I knew I had to get up early.  How I threw my dirty laundry on the floor of my bedroom.  How I wanted to carve pumpkins at Halloween and put up a tree and a million knick-knacks during Christmas.  He said that I would get ready to go out with friends in just a few minutes, and look amazing.  How I gave honest opinions, and was direct with people on what I wanted.  How I would wear flip flops in the middle of winter to take the garbage to the curb……among so many other things.  Initially, I was thinking that this just proved that I was a slob, and kind of lazy.  But as we talked, he explained how it inspired him to live life in a more mellow, relaxing way.  To go with the flow, and stop to smell the roses along the way.  And that the way I seemed unafraid to be myself, even in front of a stranger, he said I was very “real” and wasn’t acting in a way that was unnatural to me or that I was trying to impress someone.  He said that I have changed his life, for the better.  That he is now more mellow, and doesn’t let things bother him.  And that this has carried over into his art practice, he stays up until the wee hours of the morning if he is on a roll with a good idea- instead of doing the so-called “sensible” thing and going to bed at a reasonable hour.  He doesn’t feel as much pressure to produce paintings quickly, but rather, lets the creative process take him over.  And that the result is works that are launching his career.

This really touched me.  I really never thought of myself as a free spirit type of person, and I still don’t know if I am.  But the way he expressed these feelings to me was very moving, and my heart almost exploded <3  I had no idea I had touched his life on such a deep level.  Of course we love each other and have an amazing, fulfilling life together, but this story touched my soul in a way that I simply cannot describe.  I don’t think I have ever heard someone articulate how they saw their loved one, and how they fell in love.

Then I thought, am I still the free spirit he fell in love with?  And I sort of panicked, as I wasn’t sure if I was a free spirit then, let alone now.  As I was saying this, we were getting ready to go shopping before the store closed, which was soon.  I was starving so I microwaved some left overs on a plate, grabbed my purse and got into the passenger seat of the car- like it was no big deal. He looked at me, smiled, pointed at the plate of leftovers and said, “free spirit”.  And he continues to do this now, as I was having a hard time seeing in myself what he saw.  One time, I didn’t want to wait in line in the fitting room at a store, so I tried the shirt on over top of the shirt I was wearing.  One time I couldn’t find the lid for my Magic Bullet smoothie cup, so I screwed the blade back on, put it in my purse, and headed to my office.  Another time, I spilled a giant gob of salsa on my shirt, and proceeded to lick it off and continue eating.  On a rainy Saturday, I sat on the couch for several (and I mean several!) consecutive hours watching TV in a nest of blankets.  I am convinced it is more laziness, but my Artist continues to tell me how I inspire him, as I do what I want and indulge in a lot fun things.  And when we indulge in watching TV until our eyes burn, cuddled together, late at night, and having these heart to heart talks, the Artist points out what a fun night it was spending this time together giggling and being silly.  That it isn’t laziness per se, that yes- we could have cleaned the apartment or done something more “productive”, but instead had a wonderful night together.  And in my books, taking the time to live and love is way more productive in the grand scheme of life <3

Raspberry Kiwi Sorbet Recipe

The Artist got me an ice cream maker for Christmas.  I always make homemade popsicles, and had been talking about trying homemade ice cream.  Well, without an actual ice cream maker to churn it, it was not working for me.  He got me one that does not require all that ice and salt to surround the bucket, the bucket is lined with a gel and you keep it in the freezer.  Pop it out to make your ice cream, wash it, and pop it back in to re-refreeze.  SO easy and convenient.

I decided to give sorbet a try, and the results were AMAZING!  The texture was so incredibly smooth!  Here is my recipe :)  I looked at some recipes online, and checked out Alton Brown’s recipes and tips….his recipes are my favourite.  I am sure there is sort of a science behind the ratio of fruit to sugar etc. but in the end after reading all the recipes, I winged it.

1 pint fresh raspberries

2 fresh kiwis, skins removed

3-4 tbsp sugar (more or less to taste, my berries were very ripe and sweet, but sometimes they are much more tart)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Step 1: Puree fruit.  I used a Magic Bullet and it worked well.

Step 2: Add sugar and lemon juice.  Blend a few more seconds.

Step 3: Push through a fine sieve.  I had to use a spoon to stir it vigorously, and at towards the end press the pulp/seeds with the back of my spoon to squeeze out all the remaining juices.  Th result is not a juice texture or consistency however, it is quite thick.  Discard seeds and excess pulp.

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Step 4: Pour into ice cream maker and turn it on.  Churn until it is thick!  Mine took about 25 minutes, but times will vary.

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Step 5: Enjoy as soft serve, and freeze any leftovers.

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I tried a little as soft serve and it was delicious, but wanted to freeze it. This is the container ready to go in the freezer!

 

Or place mixture in freezer to harden for a more scoopable sorbet.

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My scooping marks after freezing it overnight….aren’t they beautiful?!

 

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   Frozen overnight!

 

Enjoy :)

Surprises and My First Tattoo.

I get home from work on December 22nd, 2014 in the early evening, carrying my bags, binders, and change of shoes (I don’t like wearing heels driving) in my arms and fumbling through the door.  Steve hands me the phone and tells me to call my mom on her cell phone ASAP, not letting me empty my hands or take of my coat and boots. His sense of urgency concerned me a little, thinking that maybe something is wrong, or something urgent is going on.  I call her cell phone.  She answers and says hello, and after a few seconds on small talk her and my dad emerge from our bedroom.  SURPRISE!  All the way from Ontario, Canada, they surprised both the Artist and myself that night.  We talk often enough, that they new the Artist was home during the days and I was at work.  They knew we had one car, that I used it to get to work during weekdays.  Minutes before I arrived home, they had called the Artist to have him come down and let them in the front door of our apartment building, as you need a key.  He thought it was a joke- he and my mother have a very sarcastic dialogue.  But there they were, standing in the rain, waiting to be let inside.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I have never been surprised like that before- they came from SO far!  It’s not like  they stopped by on their way home……they drove down from another country.  We were unable to make it home for the holidays for both time and financial constraints, so they came to us!  They skipped all other holiday gatherings to spend the holidays with us <3

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And they brought a million presents!!!

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I come from a small town, and everyone knew about the surprise.  Lots of folks sent gifts for us down with them, and holidays cards as well.  I know this is going to sound SO cliche, but it was a Christmas miracle <3  My family doesn’t have much, but they are willing to spend what they do have one us <3  I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family- there are no words.

We enjoyed some local museums, shopping, and lots of cooking.  And of course, lots of cooking meant lots of eating.  They even brought down a bunch of my favourite snacks from home that are unavailable here.  It was very hard when they left the following weekend.  There were many tears.  I think I am still recovering from the post-holiday blues……

To get ours spirits up, the Artist gave me my first tattoo on New Years Day.  Actually, he gave me two!

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The one on my finger is the crown motif in Basquiat’s paintings, and the Artist has a larger version of this one his ankle.  This was his first time doing a tattoo on someone else other then himself.  The one on my heel is the deathly hallows symbol from Harry Potter.  These are both very intimately meaningful to me in so many ways, but I am not going to divulge them on here.  Instead, ask me sometime.

As they heal, they are becoming more of a grey tone then black, and I have no idea why.  My skin is crazy, the Artist said I am like a member of X-Men.  I never get sun burns, I have very little body hair, and my skin is very oily and soft.  Like, so oily.  These tattoos have healed very well, and have caused me little inconvenience.  So we will see how they finish up!

Happy holidays <3

Candy Cane Fudge!

I love fudge.  So, this Christmas I decided to attempt some candy cane fudge.  I must say, it was extremely successful!  My go-to basic fudge recipe is 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 3 cups of chocolate chips, and a pinch of salt.  So I decided to adapt this to something festive.

Candy Cane Fudge

– 1 can sweetened condense milk

– 2 cups dark chocolate chips

– 1 cup white chocolate chips

– approx. 5 mint candy canes, crushed

– pinch of salt

Over low heat, melt together 2/3 of the can of condensed milk (reserving the remaining 1/3 can) with the dark chocolate, add pinch of salt, and spread into a waxed paper lined baking dish.  Over low heat, combine remaining 1/3 can of condensed milk with white chocolate chips and spread over dark chocolate.  Sprinkle with crushed candy cane.  Let it stand in the fridge over night, until firm.  Cut into squares and serve.

Note: I found that my candy cane bits melted a little over the fudge as it was a little warm still.

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Enjoy!

Buffalo Wing Sauce

I LOVE a good buffalo chicken wing.  My favourite is breaded and fried, loaded with tons of thick buffalo sauce that sticks to my fingers.  Although, buying frozen, uncooked chicken wings in bulk at the grocery store is usually a good deal, and a cheap meal.  And having them “naked” versus breaded and baked instead of fried keeps this high-fat dish at least a little healthier.  We didn’t use quite exact measurements for our homemade sauce, but here is an idea of what we used.  This sauce was incredible!  I love vinegary, thick, sloppy sauce smothering my wings, and this was just that.  In the past, making homemade sauce has been less then satisfying, rather, they have been boring and dry.  The addition of white vinegar really gives it that buffalo smell and taste, and I really enjoyed the delicious difference it made compared to our other, less tasty attempts at homemade buffalo sauce.

Note: ingredients can be adjusted to taste :)

1/2 cup butter (we used salted)

2/3-1 cup hot sauce (we used Frank’s Red Hot sauce which has given us the best results in terms of both a thicker texture and flavour)

2 tbsp (approx.) of white vinegar

splash of Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

dash of garlic powder, or to taste

pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

Bake “naked” chicken wings at 350 F (or a medium temperate since ovens vary) until golden and the skins are crisp, turning once.  While wings are cooking, prepare the sauce above by putting all of the ingredients in a pot over the stove, melting the butter, and stirring until all ingredients are combined.  Be mindful not to overcook the wings, or the meat will be tough.  There is a window between the skins being crisp and the meat falling off the bone, and the meat getting dry.  This window is pretty small, or keep a close eyes on the wings.  As soon as they are golden and crisp, remove them right away and toss in the sauce.  Serve after tossing and eat right away while the skins are crisp.

We like each wing to be thoroughly coated, so double the recipe if making large amounts of wings.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

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Why Not Having a Cell Phone Makes Me More Organized, Reliable, and Resourceful.

When the Artist and I moved here from Ontario, Canada, we cancelled our Canadian cell phones.  Our intent was to get new ones when we got settled in St. Louis.  However, it seemed like the best financial and most practical option for keeping in touch with family back home, and considering our current needs, that cell phones were not needed, rather, a home phone would work.  Our home phone is exactly $19.99 every month and it includes unlimited nationwide calling, including Canada.  Our bill never changes.  At this point, cell phones would be only for talking with each other, as international minutes and texting is not something included in basic cell plans.  It was very weird at first, not having a cell phone.  And it was really inconvenient, and even now, 2 years later, it is still inconvenient.  But all in all, I have come to enjoy not having a cell.  I use Facebook and this blog when it comes to social media, but that’s it- no instagram, twitter, etc.  I don’t download music or movies or anything, I prefer to listen to the radio or my record player.

I do not like listening to music while walking outside as I feel like I am not aware of my surroundings and it makes me feel sort of unsafe at times.  And instead of doing whatever it is people do on their phones while at the movies waiting for the movie to start, I talk with whomever I am with, I read that free magazine about the up and coming movies, or really enjoying my concession snacks…..out for dinner, instead, I talk with the company I have, I consciously think about the food I am eating and how I am enjoying it, and maybe even have a conversation with the server….while driving I listen to the radio or talk with my passenger (rather then endanger us and other drivers because I am on my phone!)….while walking outside I take in the scenery, or talk with whom I am walking with….while on a plane/bus/transit of sorts, I read a good book, talk with whom is next to me, meet someone new and hear their story and where they are from, or catch up on some sleep….the list goes on.  And for each of these examples, sometimes just being alone to my thoughts.  When I had a cell phone, this never happened, in fact, I didn’t really have “thoughts” as I was on my phone all the time.  Also, notice how I said “talk with whomever I am with” for each one?  What if I was on my phone the whole time and missed out on all of those great conversations?!  Since I have not have a cell phone, I read more, talk more, notice scenery, nature, and architecture more, I enjoy food more, and I just enjoy the simple things more.  I notice the weather more, the sky more, I notice smells and sights, colours of things, and people.  And I like it.  I like not being able to be reached 24/7.  What did people do before cell phones?  They had a home phone and if you were gone when someone called they left a message and you returned it when you were available.

Now to focus on the title of this post, not having a cell phone does make me more organized, reliable, and resourceful.  I am sure that being able to look something up on your phone on-the-fly is a great tool, and sometimes that option would benefit me no doubt.  But lets take a new perspective….when you don’t have your phone as your resource, then what?

1. I look up directions ahead of time, and print them off the computer or write them down.

2. I looks at maps, usually using Google, to get a visual idea of an area I am unfamiliar with.

3. If I get lost, I do this crazy thing.  I pull over, and ask someone for directions ;) haha.

4. If I am getting picked up, which is a common occurrence with a 1-car household, I am in the spot I say I will be at the agreed upon time.  I arrive at that spot early to ensure I am there before my ride.  Last minute coffee or errand, and then just text my ride that I am running late?  Nope.  I plan errands ahead of time.  This keeps me accountable.

5. Where to eat?  Research options ahead of time, or just pull into a new place and try it out.  We have found some great local eateries this way.

By not having a cell phone, I can’t do last minute emails, last minute work stuff, texting while driving, letting someone know I am running late, etc. I forces me to plan ahead and organize.  Because most of the time, those last minute emails or work things can usually wait.  However, sometimes something urgent may come up, and that is when I get resourceful.  If I am home, I call the necessary parties.  Which sounds simple enough, but I think actual phone calls are getting lost to the world of texting and emailing.  If I am out, I find a pay phone or other public phone.  If I have my laptop with me, I find a coffee shop or diner with free wifi and communicate that way.  But I am talking urgent matters here.  When it comes to notifying someone that I am running late, normally I would text them.  But now, I leave early to leave time in case there is traffic.  If I am working late and know for sure I will be late, I let them know ahead of time to expect me later.  And even if I have planned ahead, and this and that, sometimes things happen like an accident on the highway has backed up traffic for example.  Well, at this point, everyone knows I do no have a cell phone, so traffic is often the first assumption if I am late.  I will get there when I get there, and having a cell phone won’t change my arrival time.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I know where several local libraries are, as they are a great community resource for computer use, internet use, faxing, copying, free of charge.  They often have a pay phone as well.  I am great with travelling and getting around because I read maps and talk to folks for directions, or suggestions of where to eat or what to do in the area.  As I mentioned, it can definitely be inconvenient not having a cell phone, but all in all, I find I notice the small things in life more, and I enjoy that.  I am a bit of an old soul, and have found that I prefer to do things the way I have mentioned here versus using a cell phone.  It just brings me more pleasure.  If you do have a cell phone, great!  If you don’t, great!

I may get one in the future, who knows.  But right now, I feel like I have found a new way of doing things, and I am not done exploring them yet.

Life and Homemade Kettlecorn.

As adults, we have so much going on that days slip away in an instant, which turns into weeks and months.  How easy is it to walk in the door after a long day and be so tired, you microwave something for dinner and watch TV until you fall asleep?  How easy is it to waste precious time mindlessly browsing the internet?  How easy is it to give your full self to your work, and be so busy with that you forget about other aspects of life?  It is hard to find the energy to go to the gym, spend time in the kitchen doing home cooking, and and be “present” as a wife, mother, daughter, whatever your roles may be.

This is something I have been finding hard lately.  The evenings are spent trying not to fall asleep before 8pm.  So The Artist and I devised a plan.  We decided to think about what we wanted, and what was important to us, and how we would incorporate that into our lives.  It is like a vicious circle….you’re too tired to go to the gym or cook a meal, but if you exercise and eat well you will have more energy.  One day, it was like “enough is enough”!  This cycle of no exercise, bad eating, and crashing in front of the TV every night HAS to stop!  Here is what we decided we want; more time together, a clean apartment, more home cooking and healthier eating, more sleep, more exercise.  These are our goals to achieve them.

1. Go to the gym 2-3 times a week to lift weights together.  Yoga etc. at home on the “off” days for me.  Lots of exercise during weekdays, so weekends are reserved for “fun exercise” like a day walking around the zoo.

2. Home cooked meals every week night.  Even if it is leftovers, it is healthy, balanced left overs.  We like to make meals in bulk solely to have leftovers :)  Weekends are for extra special homemade meals that are more time consuming (we put on some music, pour some rum, and make a night of it!).  Or the opposite: we have “cheat” meals like chicken strips or poutine.

3. We limit mindless internet browsing.  We catch up on how each other’s days went, and then sometimes returning Facebook messages or reading the latest on blogs I follow is a good way to wind down.  In the evening hours, we try to limit this to 15 minutes. The Artist uses the internet during the day when he has some free time, and I like to “browse” in the mornings when I first get up.  So only 15 minutes in the evenings isn’t so bad because we have used our “non-together” time to complete emails and check out our favourites sites already.

4. We do one thing together every day.  Whether it is cook a meal together, watch a movie together, play cards, etc. we do at least one thing together per day.  This comes naturally, and isn’t really something we have to think about.

5. We do one fun outing or event together each weekend.  Sort of like a date night.  We might go to Forest Park, the zoo, thrifting, we might marathon a TV show until 3am all snuggled up on the couch, or even decorate for an upcoming holiday.  Recently, we went to a fundraiser for an organization I used to volunteer at and caught up with friends, and went to the zoo!  The sea lion loved The Artist.

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6. The Artist does day to day household chores like dishes and making the bed.  We don’t have a dish washer, so they pile up on the counter quickly!  I do the more weekly jobs during weekends like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or dusting.  That way, our place stays clean and neat and we share the chores.  For both of us, a clean and tidy place makes relaxing easy.  It is hard to relax your body and mind you are surrounded by a mess.

7. We do things for ourselves, at least once a week.  For example, I am taking a pottery class right now.  It is something I am doing just for me, and that I have been wanting to do for awhile.  Or writing a blog post on here ;)  And as of lately, the Artist likes to browse magazines with a coffee when I am out and about.

8. Minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.  Minimum.  No less.  Sleep is something we value and that is important to us.  Every night, we think of what time we are getting up the next day, and count 8 hours (minimum!) backwards to get and idea of when we will go to bed.  We also leave lots of time for teeth brushing, and actually falling asleep.  So if we are getting up at 8am, by 10pm the night before we will settle down and do quieter activities, usually watching TV.  By 11pm we are getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth.  And sometime between 11pm-12am, we are asleep.  So that is 8-9hrs of glorious slumber.

Now, these things sound sort of obvious, and I get that.  But as we get older and our careers and families begin to blossom, these things are easily forgettable.  I know lots of couples who spend very little quality time together, and lots of people who forget about their hobbies and interests because watching TV after a long is much easier and more desirable- let alone remember to eat well and exercise.  And I can especially think of many busy folks who don’t get enough sleep and are tired on a daily basis.  I understand there are lots of reasons as to why, and that is fine.  But at this time in our lives, we don’t have many reasons as to why we can’t get more sleep, so we are taking advantage.  I am sure this will change should be we lucky enough to have children one day.

And honestly, having this conversation and making this list helped 100%.  We felt like the days were slipping by and we weren’t stopping to smell the roses in life- and we were not ok with that.  It brought these wants and needs to our attention, and we decided on realistic goals.  From thereon out, there was a difference.  We no longer feel like like life is flying past us.  We have healthier bodies, more energy then before, active hobbies and interests, and we are not being lost in the dust <3

During one of our stay-at-home nights together, we watched a movie late at night, when the rest of the world was quiet and peaceful.  We made a “nest” of blankets and pillow on the couch and I made some homemade kettle corn.  It was a fabulous night.  Here is my recipe :)

1/3 canola oil

1/3 white sugar

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

salt to taste

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat the oil.  I like to throw in a kernel and when it pops, the oil is hot enough.  Turn of the heat and add the sugar and stir.  Add the popcorn kernels and return to medium-high heat.  Hold the lid on the pot with oven hits on your hands on each side.  Alternate shaking the pot up and down, side to side, and in circles for a few seconds.  Place on heat for a few seconds.  Repeat back and forth, shaking, and having it sit on the burner, for a few seconds each.  Do this until it is all popped, there will be several seconds in between kernels popping.  Remove from pot immediately into a serving bowl and add salt.  Stir gently.

Notes:

– leaving the popcorn solely on the burned will burn it (badly)

– solely shaking it and not alternating having it sit on the burner will take forever for everything to pop, it just doesn’t get hot enough

– I have a gas stove, all stoves will be different and temperature will vary

– the first time or two I made this, I scorched it (like the sugar went black and it was a disaster to clean lol!) so it might take practice

– it is worth it because it is delicious ;)

– when you pour the popcorn into the serving bowl, it will be sticky- don’t worry, it will cool almost instantly and be very crunchy

– it may seem like there is barely any sugar or anything on the popcorn at first, but there isn’t much colour in this, when it cools, it is the texture that you will notice, and each piece should be coated (the picture below looks like plain popcorn, but it is all shiny from the sugar!)

– when I add the salt, I gently toss/stir to avoid the popcorn sticking into a bowl-shaped chunk as it cools

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