Category Archives: Happiness

A Letter to Readers & An Upcoming Move

Never Stop Dreaming | In Pursuit Of More

Dearest IPOM readers! I mentioned a few posts back that I am a big fan of the New Year, and with it all the promise each new opportunity/moment offers us in life. There should always be time to dream, and to plan the life we want, like we (maybe) used to do when we were kids.

The amazing part about being a grown up is we actually get to pursue those things we want, which is maybe a big part of why I always wanted to grow up so fast when I was young. But honestly, how awesome is that?Β  We are really only as limited as we think we are (IMO). My favorite quote of all time is by Goethe, “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.”

I was thrilled to read your comments affirming that many of you have a similar reverence for embracing the opportunity for positive change, whether it be at the beginning of a New Year or anytime, and as usual my heart balloons when I read your wonderful comments and well wishes.

Never Stop Dreaming | In Pursuit Of More

As part of the evolution of this process, I will be moving this blog to a new host in the coming week or so, and want to invite you all to (hopefully – with both fingers crossed!) continue to follow me there. Not much will be changing, but you might see a slightly more streamlined site, as I prepare to further my mission of embracing less to find more.

More substance, and a whole lot more of what matters, including continuing to share with all of you, the readers of this blog. I am super excited to move forward and want to thank you all in advance as IPOM ventures forward, and grows up maybe (just a little).

Re-subscribing to the blog will be incredibly simple, and a follow by email option will be easy and accessible. The major change for many of you is that my posts will no longer appear in WordPress reader for those of you who follow me there. Those of you who already subscribe by email will not be affected at all.

Never Stop Dreaming | In Pursuit Of More

Every young girl has dreams – and hopefully they stay with her even when she gets big. Thank you for all of the inspiration & encouragement this past year! I am so looking forward to the coming months of wonderful food and hope we can continue to share stories & inspire each other in the months (and years) to come.

  • What changes are you implementing this year, if any?
  • Got any dreams you’d like to share?

Thank you to all who have played a part in the coming together of this project, and again to all of you for sharing your hearts and your stories with us πŸ™‚ Next up, we’ve got a sweet new recipe or two, so get ready for something delicious!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle

A New Years Post, Less is More Style.

Paris Lover's Bridge Pont Des Arts | IPOM

So I love the end of the year, and subsequently the beginning of a new one. (It wasn’t always this way).

Is there anyone else out there who feels the way I do?

I know it is maybe a little cliche, and I am fully aware of the many out there who might point out that this time of year should be no different from any other time of year. A time to maybe set some goals, a time to reflect on the year that past, a time to plan your triumph, and all too familiar for many, a time to fall short on some of those well-meaning goals we set for ourselves.

To them I say, they are all 100% right.

French United Nations Paris | IPOM

I was recently reminded of how each new second is a completely clean & brand new one, one that has never happened before. A simple thought for sure. There really is no time like right now to look around, count our blessings, and think critically about what is working for us and what is not. Why wait for a certain time of year?

As I get older, I realize that the start of each new year does represent certain things to me, and that the power that a clean slate brings is quite wonderful to embrace. I often choose a word or two that will represent what I’d like to focus on (I already have mine for the year).

Versailles Shop Bathroon Paris, France | IPOM

Never a bad time to reflect. Each moment presents itself new.

3 years ago I was struggling with a deep dissatisfaction that I couldn’t put a finger on, I had a compulsion that was out of control and desires that could never be filled (I wrote about it here and here). It was insane and unreasonable, but all too true. Things needed to change.

Two years ago I knew changes were coming, and I was excited. The search had begun, and I had no idea how or when I would find my next project. I owe huge gratitude to those who helped bring it on!

One year ago I had started on the journey. It was exhilarating and completely terrifying all at the same time.

This year, more than ever before, I feel so thankful and hopeful for both this past year AND the coming year.

This year brought this blog, sharing good food with those who have less & a re-ignited connection to the food that fuels us. It also brought a super warm and satisfying connection with ALL OF YOU. Truly, it has been so much fun, so thank you to each and every one of you for making this year truly special! πŸ™‚

Cassis, France | IPOM

Whether you have commented, emailed, called, texted, spoken to me, (perhaps the best) passed me a sly comment at the dinner table about a recipe you’ve tried, or made a generous donation or volunteered your time, you’ve all made it a year to remember!

  • What are your thoughts on creating goals for a New Year? Do you do it?
  • Is there anything you accomplished in the past year that you are especially proud of?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, and best wishes to all for a safe & happy start to 2013! I owe you guys a cookie recipe I promised, but I am thinking that might have to wait until next Christmas….what do you think? Something more to look forward to is always a good thing!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Aspirations, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Success, Sweet Treats

In Pursuit of (Daily) Happiness. What’s on Your List?

Cassis, France | IPOM

There are things that bring us all happiness in our lives.

It could be a quiet moment, or a few hours with a really good book. For some it could be a run in the woods, or a call from a good friend. For me, I can always use a good laugh, and luckily there is no lack of that in my life.

I was at the gym this week, doing my thing on the stair master & catching up on some (mindless but wonderful) magazine reading (this is one of my happy places). In this month’s issue of Canadian FASHION, there is a page dedicated to New Year’s Resolutions (after all, ’tis the season). On this page, a few celebrity clothing designers wax about their goals for the coming year.

There was one I read that particularly struck a chord with me (I love those moments).

“I want to create a ‘happy list’ and encourage my daughters to make their own. A happy list is a list of what quickly and easily puts a smile on my face, like a bubble bath. I will make sure to do at least one of those things every day.”

~ Rachel Roy

Tofino - Photo by Niko Pavlo

Photo by Niko Pavlo

An amazing and simple concept, and one that can shockingly fall by the wayside all too easily sometimes. So in my own pursuit of more (happiness, purpose, substance), it strikes me that this all too simple idea simply must factor not just into the bigger picture of life, but into each and every day of my existence (I’ve personally been working on this for a long while).

So, if you’ll oblige, here are 12 things I would add to my daily ‘happy list’ – it amazes to think that these are actually at times hard to do. I’d LOVE to hear what would be on all of yours!

Here goes my 12 daily bits of happiness…

  1. A long run in the cold air
  2. An entire day or evening with my family ~ with all of my technology turned off & tucked away out of sight & out of mind
  3. A long walk with a loved one (or two)
  4. Giving something away
  5. A good meal on a truly hungry stomach
  6. Cooking in the kitchen with a favorite record on
  7. A glass of wine on the couch with my husband (love that guy) with a good record on
  8. An afternoon in the garden with my bare hands in the soil
  9. A hot cup of tea, and a moment to just sit still in the quiet
  10. A hot aromatherapy bubble bath (thanks Rachel)
  11. A few deep breaths
  12. A ride though the city on my old creaky bike (usually with the hubby ~ he makes me wear a helmet when I ride alone)

Tofino - Image by Niko Pavlo

It seems so simple, but really the best things in life really always are. So that’s my list off the top of my head ~ what’s on the top of yours? πŸ™‚

As we move into the final push of the Christmas season, I am struggling to feel as though I really need anything (I really don’t). Everything I really need is already right in front of me, or within me, and I just need to make them happen, every day. To me that is an empowering thought.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic ~ and thanks for reading, as always!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Rejuvenation, Success

Cooking Classes & Kids: Why We Love Them Both

Holla folks!

I just wanted to write a quick note to let you all know what’s been happening around here of late, as it has been (just a little) busy juggling work & family & blogging & Not So Fast all at once, and it is all so worth it.

NSF-CookingClass_013

As we gear up for another holiday season, there are so many things that can take up our time & precious mental space.

Of course, there are the basic things: family needs, school matters, home meals, laundry. There is vacuuming to do (thankfully my wonderful husband does that), and Christmas decorations to hang. I am loving Instagram these days as people share photos of their Christmas trees and (my fave) their favorite childhood decorations.

AsΒ  you all know we only get one chance at childhood, and I personally will never forget that (rather sad) day when I realized it was all over (my childhood, and yes it happened just like that), and that all that time I spent in my youth wishing I was ‘grown up’ could have been better spent being the age that I was. Young.

This is partly why I am so passionate about working with youth.

NSF-CookingClass_035

As I prepare to bring out my own childhood decorations (we just got the tree last night), I am reminded that each of us gets a chance everyday to create our own special memories, or if you are a parent or a mentor or teacher to children in any way, we get the chance to create memories for our children, either good or bad.

Kids do what we do, and kids learn directly from what we (as a collective) teach them.

Not So Fast Cooking Classes

Tonight me and our faithful group of NSF volunteers prepare to meet out third group of kids at a community center in Vancouver’s poorest neighborhood.

We cook with them and send them home with warm healthy food. We share some laughs and pass on some basic skills, and hopefully, we create some of those good memories we all hope to carry with us through life.

It’s really the least we can do and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.

Not So Fast Cooking Classes

Thank you to all of you who have so generously contributed to our cause, as your support has been wonderful and we can’t thank you enough!

If you’d like to follow Not So Fast on Instagram, you can find us under @wearenotsofast (also our Twitter handle). And for those of you also interested in following me on Instagram, you can find me at @shiramcd.

I’m off to make memories, hang some decorations, and share a few laughs with some pretty inspirational peeps. I’ll be back with another delicious recipe very shortly, I promise! Thanks to all of you for following along πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Children, Feeding, Food, Food Insecurity, Happiness, Inspiration, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Success

True Storytelling: A Not So Fast Going Without Story

Time for some more storytelling. This is our story, after all.

The day was April 16, 2011. That was the day I started fasting once a week and giving the value of what I didn’t consume to those who have less.

Not So Fast began just a few days after the idea came to me, and I knew it would be a long process of putting this whole beautiful thing together, but I wanted to start right away.

Since that very first day, a few (awesome) things have gone down. A blog or two, some great discussions, a few meetings, some great food, and all of you (wonderful readers and friends -xxx)!

But enough about me.

I am honored today (back to a new recipe tomorrow!) to send you over to Somer’s blog to read her story and to see how easily a simple concept can bring beautiful people together from all over this big, beautiful world.

So head on over to see Somer, she is one amazing woman with one amazing story. Storytelling like this is just too good to miss.

If you’d like to get involved, feel free to drop me a line at shira@wearenotsofast.org.

I’d love to hear from you!

A HUGE thank you to all who so generously donated to our cause this past two weeks, we are honored by your actions and look forward to sharing even more (in less). Our second cooking class kicks off this week, so stay tuned!

Tomorrow I’ll be back with a sweet new recipe! πŸ™‚

Yours in (just a little) Less,

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Filed under discipline, Fasting, Food, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Success, Victory

True Stories: My Shopping Addiction & The Healing Process

A quick break for some storytelling.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.

~ Confucius

True story: I love food.

I love creating food, serving food, eating food, and in general sharing the great wealth of variety & goodness we have at our fingertips.

But I love other things too.

For instance, I love shoes. And clothes. And jackets and handbags and designer lipstick.

For those of you who know (just a little) about IPOM, you may have read (at some point) my story here on my About page. The real reason I am here today, writing this blog, having started a charity from no more than a passing idea, is because just over 2 years ago I overcame a pretty big issue: a compulsive and destructive addiction to shopping.

And no, I don’t mean to cocoa nibs and kale πŸ™‚

You see, after reaching a certain level of accomplishment in my life (kids, marriage, work, home, renovated kitchen, two cars), I was at a point where I didn’t know what mountain was left still to climb.

I had it good, and it was time to show it, no? After all, isn’t that what you do after spending your life attaining all the things in life we are supposed to want?

I haven’t led a typical life, that’s for sure.

My story is long and varied for a woman of 35 and has many stories (not all of them good). I didn’t set out to have these things, but I consider myself beyond blessed to have been given them. I don’t plan to share too much here on this blog, but I do promise that one day I will, somewhere soon. When the time and place are right.

But back to that status thing. I had two healthy kids in school, a good job, and a kitchen worthy of magazine covers (I stole my ideas all from those covers and it turned out pretty good).

So I set about decorating my physical frame with beautiful things. In some cases (well, most cases), I did it with money I didn’t yet have, and with an openness that didn’t exist.

There was a period there where you could have asked me ‘What’s in the wings?’ – and I would have had at least one (or two or three) expensive items either on layaway in store or hiding in a closet deep in my basement somewhere, hidden from my husband, but secretly known to me, the shopkeepers, and that Visa no one else in my house knew about.

Acquiring nice things became a game between me and my scheming mind, and once I acquired one and successfully integrated it into the mix (‘What, this old thing?’), I soon would lose the rush and set my sights on what I could focus all of my powers on to get next.

Addiction. It’s not pretty.

Knowing myself as the addictive person that I am meant I knew I had a problem.

But like most of us, when we know we want to change something, is it easy to change?

So that brings us here. To be truthful, I am here because I needed to get better (it has worked). I needed to re-focus, and look outside of myself, and not to what is hanging on my flesh, but to who and what is going on around me. So I’ve dedicated this time in my life to nurturing the part of me that wants to connect with others, those in need, and those also in need of connection.

I needed to change my ways for my girls, and for my marriage, and I needed to connect with what it was I was really after.

A purpose far greater than just myself.

It’s still a long way away, but I am on the path, and just by being here, you are with me too, and that (IMO) is pretty darned awesome (it’s not just awesome, it’s better than awesome).

I love food, and I’ll continue to share all that brings me joy in this life, in hopes that I might continue to bring some small nugget of value to you as readers of this blog.

But I’d be lying if I told you just food was enough. There’s just so much more to celebrate and talk about.

All in moderation of course πŸ™‚

Less really can be more, in all aspects of our lives, whether it is with food, television, swearing, shopping for pretty rags & (really) over consumption of all kinds.

I know many of you blog (or read blogs) for reasons of health, happiness, inspiration, and making conscious choices that can make the world a better place for all of us.

So whether that choice is veganism, food activism, human rights, or otherwise, I’d love to know how you came to that choice. And I’d also love to hear, and perhaps even share, your story.

If there was one thing you could see going without for a better and more fulfilling life, what would it be? Do you have any destructive habits you’d like to kick for good? Have you already started this journey and want to share it?

You don’t have to share it here if you aren’t comfortable, and honestly, if you’ve made it this far into this post, I’m just happy you are still here..but I’d love to hear from you, and perhaps even share your story here.

If you like, feel free to drop me a line at shira@wearenotsofast.org. I’d like to mix things up a bit here and get real. Want to share your story of healing? I’m all ears.

I’ll get back to cocoa nibs and kale in my next post, I promise, just as soon as I pull on this old jacket and these shoes from last season πŸ™‚

I’m no saint here, but I’m trying. Trying to do better, to be better, and to help others do the same. Thanks for being here with me, and for doing what you all do to make this world a better place.

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Aspirations, Discipline, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Success, Victory

On Gratitude, Gratefulness & Always Giving Thanks

Gratitude. What does it mean to you?

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

~ Thornton Wilder

It’s that time of year again!

The time here in the cooling (and beautiful) Northwest when we start thinking about cozy sweaters, warm scarves, pulling on our favorite boots, and about Thanksgiving.

This is the time of year when every corner grocery store stocks tiny mini pumpkins and you can’t take a step without hearing a leaf (or seven) crumble under your well-meaning fuzzy-socked feet.

Happy October everyone!

The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.

~ William James

This week I am particularly thankful for big progress here at what I like to lovingly call world IPOM headquarters (tee hee).

Not So Fast is making progress at a healthy and (mostly) manageable pace. I owe big gratitude to all who are taking part in this creative and amazing labor of love. Your energy and support are the only reason NSF is anything more than just a random passing idea.

I’ve got a giant heart here and it’s all full because of all of you. Yes, you (that is pointed squarely at you too IPOM readers).

Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

~ Leo Buscaglia

Not So Fast is hard at work planning a full school year of cooking classes for kids and families living in our fair city’s poorest neighborhood.

We want to not only share simple food with those who are keen to join us, but we hope to (maybe) offer (just a little) hope, confidence & much needed access to eating well into lives that are (likely) much more limited than our own.

A quick visit to our local farmers market drives our mission home for me with motivating intensity each and every time I go.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

~ Epictetus

This time of year showcases producers of all types offering up the very height of glory in the fruits of their (hard) labor.

I get goosebumps just thinking of perusing & buying fresh corn, squash, kale, sweet cherry tomatoes, heirloom variety apples, and the last of the summer fruits and berries of all kinds.

It is nothing short of pure vegetable heaven this time of year, and every bit a true food lover’s paradise, no matter what your dietary preferences. You’d have to be inhuman not to get inspired this time of year after a visit to the market.

That is, unless you can’t afford it.

I wrote a few posts back about my visit to the market where I (oh heavens me) happened to find myself with only a meager sum of cash to get me through my visit. That visit where I had to control my desires and my will.

Imagine (just for a second) that you had to do that every day?

Not because (like me) you just weren’t organized, but because you simply didn’t have the dough. I ask this question not to instill guilt, or a sense of anything other than awareness.

Awareness that no matter what your means, there is always someone who has less than you, and always someone who has more.

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.

~ Thomas Goodwin

As we prepare here in Canada to celebrate our national celebration of Thanksgiving (we are 3 weeks ahead of our American friends), many of us might be busy planning menus, inviting guests, or maybe just looking forward to our next three-day weekend.

My wish for this coming weekend, and for all the weekends to follow is simple:

My wish is that each day that comes next might be just as good as the day before, and that no matter what life throws at me, I always remember the important things. Like having a healthy loving family, a cozy roof over my head, and two strong legs to walk my sorry a** to the store when I’ve run out of milk (again).

Rest and be thankful.

~ William Wadsworth

I’d love to know what you might be thankful for not just this season, but all year long. I’ve a feeling our needs are not that different from one another, really.

Food, shelter, love.Good people. Good food. A good laugh here and there.

Not too much for ask for I reckon, especially when there is just so much to go around.

I am so happy to have you all here at IPOM to continue to celebrate simple healthy food and the idea of living with (just a little) less.

Many blessings to you, your loved ones, and the communities you live in.

Because the truth is as we move forward in our collective lives is just this: we are all in this together.

I’d love to hear what you might be pondering in preparation for this coming holiday weekend (and for those of you who are looking that far ahead in the US). No matter where you are, thanks for joining us!

I’ve got some recipes coming up that I hope you’ll love πŸ™‚

  • What are you planning for Thanksgiving?
  • How do you give thanks?

Yours in Less (as always),

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Filed under Children, Cooking, Fasting, Feeding, Food, Food Insecurity, Going Without, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Photography, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Success, Uncategorized, Victory

Market Day in Provence: A Picture Journey

If only the world could stand still a moment.

β€œLet us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”

~ Susan Polis Schutz

Alas it does seem a while since I posted, bonjour everyone!

Truth be told, it’s been somewhat challenging to blog from the road here, as time inside is limited and my mind is flooded with new sensations, views, ideas, and inspiration, none of which have solidified enough to properly put to words.

It is also (put more simply) that I am (and for the first time in a long time and maybe actually ever) in pure honest vacation mode, and my mind has turned off (mostly) everything.

All to make room for the new.

Here, in Provence (where we arrived Friday after a few glorious days in Burgundy), I was treated Sunday to my very first Provencal market experience, and what a treat that was!

The adorable and ancient village where we are based, called L’isle Sur La Sorgue, is somewhat popular for its markets, most notably antiques.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Provence itself as a much larger area, (I just read in my French history book) has been celebrated since the Roman times for its particularly good fresh produce.

With the area being somewhat continually drenched in hot sun (it has been between 35 and 40 degrees steady since we arrived), one would think it obvious that this food would be good, and I had heard that indeed, it was.

But I was not prepared for this.

There are simply no words that could adequately describe the taste of the food that grows here, for this is (for any fruit and vegetable lover) a total mecca.

So in the absence of new recipes, I do hope you’ll enjoy a little tour of the town and the market with me here – as I’ve tried to do it justice, but I’ll let you be the judge πŸ™‚

Life isn’t as serious as the mind makes it out to be.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.

~ Eckhart Tolle

I am quite sure I read there were over 300 stalls at this market on Sunday, and judging by the fact that we couldn’t even see it all, I believe it.

This little village, with its narrow ancient streets, transformed into a bustling shopping zone with sellers & producers offering everything from soap, to clothing, records, antiques, jewellery, shoes, bags, scarves, spices, and of course food.

Oh, the glorious food.

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.

~ Unknown

Forget every stereotype you’ve ever heard about the French being anything less than polite. Here, they are warm, and excited to see visitors delight in their hard work. In fact, here in the south, the people are downright wonderful.

There are so many characters in a small village like this. And their food, their food.

It is truly sublime, not to mention very cheap (I’ll share more in my next post on just how inexpensive it really is).

Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

~ William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

In my next post I’ll tell you the top foods we’ve been enjoying here, especially since arriving here in Provence where we’ve got a full functioning kitchen, a barbeque, and an outdoor eating area to enjoy the food and the company under the open skies.

After Paris, and then a few days in hotel in Beaune, we are happy to be enjoying a lovely amount of space here, and are taking advantage of the fresh food & views available right around the corner.

L’espoir fait vivre.

~ French Proverb, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

We’ve got just a few more days here, so the likelihood that I’ll get another post out before the end of this trip is quite small, but you never know – I’ll have months of inspiration to share and enjoy from the perspective of life at home.

But not just yet!

From here, we head south for a night to enjoy the ocean before returning to Paris for the last two nights – we head home Monday. I hope you all are enjoying the final weeks of summer, and I’ll look forward to catching up soon!

  • If you traveled to Provence, what would be on your list to eat?

Let us know, and thanks for joining me!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Aspirations, Children, Cooking, Family, Food, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Rejuvenation, Salads, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Feeding the Heart & the Soul in Paris

Here we are. On this day, in this moment.

Take rest. A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.

~ Ovid

Here we are! A long way from home, here in Paris, enjoying what we knew would be a fabulous time away together as a family.

I mentioned in my last post about our quaint French apartment (read: tiny), and it has been the perfect place to lay our heads each night after the massive days we’ve had soaking it all in (it will be absorbing for months to come too).

We’re having a ball, and as you can well imagine, the photos are piling up faster than I can ask (politely in English) for another glass of white wine.

With that, dear IPOM readers, I figure pictures can do the noble work of talking here, as we’ve got another 2 incredible days in the city before we head south to the country.

And it all starts with a good cup of coffee (from home).

Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.

~ Margaret Fuller

I am thrilled to report that after the jet lag, and most importantly the perspective shift, life here is actually becoming beautifully relaxed.

Instead of afternoon coffee, I have a glass of wine, and in place of my daily run, we walk all day long until dark. Dinners are simple (both out and in), breakfast is had in before we head out, and the family feels closer than ever before.

This part of town is amazing, and we’ve got a produce market twice weekly just outside our door. The produce is almost as incredible as the bread & cheese, and cooking here in this kitchen has been a blast.

A place for everything, everything in its place.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.

~ John De Paola

From the lover’s bridge (Pont Des Arts) to Notre Dame to the classical beauty that is the Luxembourg Gardens, we’ve covered pretty much everything we set out to do so far.

True to the plan, we hit one (or in some cases two) major sight see a day, which is plenty considering we are traveling with an eight year old. Notre Dame, Pompidou Center, Luxembourg Gardens, Versailles, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower were tops on our list.

We’ve shopped (just a little, especially on account of many shop owners closing shop completely for the entire month of August), walked (a whole lot), and have truly lucked out with the weather (which has has been beyond spectacular).

I hope you’ll enjoy (just a little) of where we’ve been so far.

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.

~ Spanish Proverb

Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.

~ Andre Gide

As is inevitable, I arrived on this holiday knowing nothing but my current perspective at the time. Loaded with responsibility, and driven by projects, it is immensely difficult at the time to truly imagine letting go.

But it happens, because it has to. And it feels so good, and is completely necessary in every way. I am so very fortunate and blessed to have this time to enjoy with my loved ones in quite possibly my favorite place in the whole world.

On another note, you will now see at the bottom that I am testing out the WordAds program with WordPress. I’m fairly particular about the esthetics on this blog, but if there is a way to generate revenue for Not So Fast, I thought it was worth a try, so please note that all proceeds from any advertising done (now or in the future) will go directly towards charity and we’ll see how it goes!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and on anything you see in this post that you fancy. Also, with so many photos, I’d love to hear what you want to see as we wind up the first leg of this trip in the next day or so! As you can also imagine, I’ll be somewhat absent in my blog reading and commenting this month – rest assured I’ll be back.

As for us, it’s Sunday, and the shops are closed. We plan to hit the Arc De Triomphe before hitting the banks of the river for ice cream and a stroll. I love that they close the shops here for a day, I think these people might just be on to something good πŸ™‚

Thanks for joining us!

Yours in Less from Paris,

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Filed under Family, Happiness, Inspiration, Photography, Rejuvenation, Travel

Recipe: Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk

It doesn’t get any simpler than this.

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

~ Confucius

Surely something so simple cannot be this easy, can it?

I assure you, with a little effort, it absolutely is, and with that effort, you will be so richly rewarded.

With all the wonderful alternatives to dairy milk out there, it is no surprise that coconut, with all of the amazing health benefits that come with it, is leading the charge in many ways as a delicious way to get good fats and loads of high quality energy into our bodies.

While it surely isn’t a local food (unless you are lucky to live where they grow of course), coconuts are widely available in markets & supermarkets all across the world, and with (just a little) know how, can be purchased for just a few dollars and used in any number of amazing ways.

Here is my favorite way to enjoy it (other than found as-is on a beach in Mexico), and I am sure I am not the only coconut milk lover out there!

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.

Β  ~ Jimi Hendrix

Picking coconuts can be a little tough, and often can yield something less than fresh.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is finding a coconut that hasn’t gone bad. I assure you, once you crack it and drain the water inside, you’ll know if you’ve got a rancid one on your hands. Such is life, and I often purchase 2 at a time just to be sure. And at such a low cost of $2-$3 each, it’s not such a bad way to go.

If you’ve never worked with fresh coconut before, you are in for a treat!

Just talking about cracking these guys open brings back some of the fondest memories of my childhood – when finding the soft spot on the coconut with my dad (and the nail and hammer) was just about as awesome as it got.

And that’s pretty awesome.

This method of making (and enjoying) coconut might not be for everyone, but if you’ve got the will and a good blender, you might just be in heaven with this.

The taste and texture of fresh coconut milk is about the creamiest, dreamiest thing I can think of, and here it can be done right at home!

So be prepared for (just a little) work, and maybe (just a little) mess, but I promise the results will be worth it. And so will the recipe coming up for the pulp in my next post πŸ˜‰

The Less:

Less canned, processed items in the home means more hands on, homemade goodness. Less packaging and labels used means less waste, resources, and energy. Less shelf stable anything means more fresh live energy, so you can infuse yourself and your loved ones with love, straight from the earth right to you.

The More:

More rich, satisfying health food means more all round satisfaction in your belly. More whole, natural fats means more easy assimilation and clean fuel. More delicious fresh dairy alternatives means lots of healthy & tasty options, so living with less is easy, while still being tempting and delicious.

Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk:

  • (1) fresh hard-shell coconut
  • (3-4) cups water
  • Sweetener if desired
  • Lots of Love & Elbow Grease

Start by grabbing a safe sharp object – a good pair scissors with a sharp tip, or my dad’s favorite (and thus, mine), a nail and hammer.

Find the three spots on the tip of the coconut and with the tip of the sharp object, gently and carefully try to poke each hole. One of the three holes is the ‘key’ to the coconut and will cave under the pressure much easier than the other two. This is how you know which one to go for! Once identified, poke the soft hole all the way through and twist the scissors or nail to make as big a hole as you can (it will be about as big as a small pencil eraser).

Drain the water inside the coconut and set aside for drinking (right away or later).

Now the fun part.

(and you might find a better way to do this).

You’ve got to break the coconut into pieces. I do this by throwing it against the concrete in my backyard as hard as I can. It’s pretty satisfying and kids do love this (just make sure they are well out of the way of flying pieces!!). Otherwise, you can set the coconut on a hard surface and hit it with a hammer until it breaks. Keep breaking up the pieces until you get pieces smaller than the size of your hand.

Then, using a firm object (like a strong metal spoon that you don’t mind bending), separate the hard shell from the coconut meat. The meat itself will have a soft brown ‘skin’ – this can stay on, just carefully (and with elbow grease) get all the furry hard shell pieces off until you have a bowl of clean pieces of white coconut. Yum!

Growing up, this was a special dessert for us.

Once you’ve got all of your coconut pieces, give them a quick rinse under cold water to get any mess from the skin off. Break the pieces into smaller pieces if desired and add all the coconut to your blender (you should have roughly 4-5 cups of coconut pieces).

Next, add 3-4 cups of clean cold water to the blender. Blend the coconut and water on high for up to 3 minutes, ensuring all the pieces are well blended (the pulp will remain quite coarse depending on the strength of your blender).

If you start with less water, make sure to add enough water to facilitate good blending.

Once you have blended the mixture for up to 3 minutes, strain the milk through a fine strainer or cheese cloth. Notice the cream that rises to the top during this process – this is so good for you and so incredibly delicious too!

From here, transfer the milk to a large mason jar or container for storage in the fridge for up to 5 days. The milk will separate a little in the fridge, but just give it a good shake before using!

One recipe will make enough milk to fill just under a one liter jar (depending on how watery you like it). Feel free to sweeten with vanilla or maple syrup as desired, and enjoy this with anything and everything you like πŸ™‚

And there you have it, fresh, homemade coconut milk. How awesome is that?

Make sure to save the pulp, as I’ve got a most yummy dessert to share with you next, when I will be posting fresh upon our arrival in France!

You’ll be ready to dive into making coconut milk just to make the dessert I am sure, but once you’ve done both, you might not be able to stop (or maybe you will).

The more I see, the less I know for sure.

~ John Lennon

I’ve said before that coconut is almost literally a vegan’s dream, and whether you are vegan or not, I have yet to meet a soul (aside from my youngest daughter but never mind her) that doesn’t love the flavor and richness of coconut.

Here it is in all of it’s pure, unadulterated glory. The best kind of glory there is, if you ask me.

There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.

~ Edgar Allan Poe

Beauty is not caused. It is.

~ Emily Dickinson

So if you are an adventurer in the kitchen (I know quite a strong few of you out there) – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ve been relishing in the freshness of this drink all week and I’ve got to tell you, my friends and co-workers have not minded one bit, as they’ve also enjoyed the outcome of the delicious pulp too.

  • Have you ever made coconut milk at home?
  • What is your favorite way to use coconut milk?

Do tell friends! This will be the last of me from Vancouver for a while, we are literally in the last few hours here, and we leave very early Sunday morning. I’ve said my good-byes (some were very hard this time), but I am so looking forward to not only going, but to returning too.

Renewed. Inspired. Fresh.

I can’t wait to have you all join me. I hope you will!

This recipe has also been featured in Healthy Vegan Fridays #5 – check it out here!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Desserts, Food, Gluten Free, Happiness, Health, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian