Category Archives: Rejuvenation

Recipe: Healing Fresh Ginger Tea

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOMHealing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Happy New Year everyone! It’s been one of those weeks full of craziness over here as the kids have been home from school and a few girls and I were preparing to throw a baby shower for our favorite person in the world.

Yesterday we gathered 20 girls together to wish our beloved best friend well in her motherhood journey. There really is something very special about spending time with a close group of inspirational women, and it is something that as I get older I have wanted to do more. It’s okay to be real, and to get real in those situations, and yesterday we were (roller coaster of wild emotions and all). Thanks ladies, my heart is full today and I can’t wait to see what’s next! πŸ™‚

Given the time of year, today’s recipe is all about warmth, digestion, and healing. This age-old remedy for good health has been around for ages, and for good reason. When we were kids, this was what we were given when sick, livened up with fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper & honey. Ginger is spicy & warming and does wonders for settling a tired tummy that could use a little rest from perhaps (just a little) holiday over eating.

I’ve been nursing a pot of this on the stove for a few days now and have to thank a friend for reminding me just how amazing this drink is…so thankful. Between this and the high from being around so many cool ladies yesterday – I think I’m set for a great week to come!

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOMHealing Ginger Tea | IPOM

The Less:

Less burden on the tummy means it can feel nourished with little food. Fewer bagged teas means less cost, waste, and more freshness. Less caffeinated & sugary drinks means health is just a cup away, so warming up & wellness come together at less cost.

The More:

More spicy, healing ginger means more warmth & aid to your guts. More aid to your guts means happy tummies all the time. More fresh ways to warm up means less reason to seek them outside, so keeping a pot on the stove makes sense all year round.

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOMHealing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Healing Fresh Ginger Tea:

  • (2) large pieces of fresh ginger, peeled, and cut into thumb sized pieces
  • (6-8) cups fresh water for boiling
  • Optional additions: fresh mint in summer, a cinnamon stick in winter, honey, fresh lemon juice, cayenne powder

Clean up your ginger and slice it into small thumb sized pieces. Combine the ginger in a medium sauce pan and fill with 6-8 cups of fresh water. Bring the water to a boil, and turn the heat down to medium and simmer the mixture at a gentle rolling boil for 20-30 minutes.

For cinnamon ginger tea, add a half or a whole cinnamon stick to the pot in the beginning. For mint ginger tea, add fresh mint to the pot for 5 minutes at the end.

Once ready, ladle into warm tea cups and add fresh lemon juice or honey, or both. To help ward off a cold, add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to each cup. Enjoy by the fire with your favorite book or magazine (not required but highly recommended).

You can keep this going by adding more water to the ginger as you run low and re-boiling again. Simply leave the pot on the stove and add water and re-heat as desired. It really is the never ending ginger tea!

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Healing Ginger Tea | IPOM

Wishing you all a wonderful, healthy, and feel good week – I am so excited for this year I can’t even tell you. Well, maybe I could πŸ˜‰

  • Are you taking any measures to restore well-being after holiday over indulgences? If so, what are they?

I’d love to know..for now I am off to make a green smoothie…

Yours in less,

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Filed under Food, Gluten Free, Health, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian, Victory

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

Recipe: Apple, Kale & Hemp Seed Green Smoothie

Easy, clean eating to fuel your body.

Don’t major in minor things.

~ Author Unknown

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I am a mess.

And no, I don’t mean in the kitchen (but I am that too and I LOVE it).

I mean, I worry. I try to worry (just a little) less at times, but catch me at a bad time late at night and it’s game over.

I worry about my schedule, or I worry that the kids won’t have the strength they need to stand up to a mean kid at school. I worry about the tall tree in the neighbor’s yard that might fall on the house in a windstorm, and I worry that I could get sick with some scary awful disease and leave my kids and my husband all alone (completely unwillingly of course).

Now please don’t get scared, I am not going somewhere dark or deep here.

I’m just saying, I think it’s in us all to worry, right? And we should be responsible, and do our diligence by living healthily and reducing our reasons to worry needlessly.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen. Don’t be afraid.

~ Frederick Buechner

So cue the checklist to healthy living.

Eat well (check). Live well (check). Exercise (check). Laugh (check). Give thanks (major check) Give yourself regular breast exams.

Silence.

Am I the only one that is (so far) dangerously lax in this department?

This week I decided to take action on that front & was quite terrified when I actually found something. It was indeed a painful lump in my armpit (SO tender!).

It was late at night at the time of this discovery, time for bed. After my discovery and the inevitable irrationality of thoughts that followed, a little visit to the Mr. Internet SelfΒ  Diagnosis department, and more irrationality (there may have been tears & attempts to hide them from the husband), I finally fell asleep.

Like I said, I am a mess sometimes. But aren’t we all? (And it WAS late).

The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.

~ Chinese Proverb

Waking up that morning I vowed to be better. To check more often, and to visit the doctor more often. After all, I am in the prime age for this kind of stuff, and statistics show 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer during our lifetime.

Shira you owe it to your family to do a better job (check).

After several hours of worry that morning, trying to work but only really thinking of my sore armpit (it was really really sore), and (maybe) a call to work announcing that I’d found a scary evil worrisome lump (in my pit), I managed to see the doctor in the clinic.

Even waiting there in that room (evidently the very same room almost 10 years ago that I learned I was pregnant the second time), I was a mess. Biting back tears, I explained my case.

I told the lovely doctor about the discovery, and about how I’d rubbed that lump extra hard to see just what kind of lump it was. I told her it really hurt (it really did).

When she didn’t seem to look worried, I started to (maybe) feel like it wasn’t going to be so bad.

Then when she asked me to take my shirt off and started poking around under my arm, I pretty much realized it was going to be okay.

The Less:

Less worry and more action means you can spend energy on real matters. Less avoidance of important issues means more facing things head on. Fewer reasons to fret needlessly means more calm in your center, so making room for thoughts that are fruitful comes easy.

The More:

More action on health issues means fewer reasons to lose sleep. More calm, confident feelings means more rational sound thinking. More healthy food and healthy thoughts means more wholeness and good, wholesome living. So the need to worry can go out with the compost.

Apple, Kale & Hemp Seed Green Smoothie:

  • (1) organic apple, seeded and chopped
  • (1/2 – 1) avocado
  • (1-1.5) cups mango juice, (or apple juice if you don’t have access to mango)
  • (1) tbsp hemp hearts
  • (3-4) leaves green kale
  • (3-4) ice cubes, if desired

Blend all to a creamy consistency and enjoy immediately for full health benefits. Don’t worry though if you do need to blend it and enjoy it later..it will still be good for you (but maybe not if you worry too much about it) πŸ˜‰

This makes a generous amount that can easily feed 2-3 hungry people, but if you are at all like me, this could be just for one worry-free wonder woman (or man) as well. I often use this as my main daily sustenance until late afternoon, which means I have no problem enjoying the full recipe over the course of the morning.

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

~ Dr. Seuss

Turns out, I managed to strain a muscle in my armpit. I learned from the very nice doctor lady that there aren’t any nodes in there, but there are a lot of tendons (apparently ones that don’t like being pressured frenetically late at night).

I’d rubbed the heck out of that node the night I discovered it and caused myself a whole lot of pain for no other reason but to give myself a little wake up call.

I’m glad it was all okay.

And I don’t wish for the day when it isn’t. For anyone out there that has had a scare, or (heaven forbid) has been through cancer, I was reminded this week of how lucky we all are to have our health.

Only a few things are really important.Β 

~ Marie Dressler

How can something bother you if you won’t let it?

~ Terri Guillemets

I don’t know how I strained my armpit, and it doesn’t really matter, the point is, I am going to be okay (it’s all healed now too so that’s good). For now, at least, and that is worth celebrating, and protecting, every day.

And I hope you are too.

So don’t delay on giving yourself some well-intentioned attention. Check yourself regularly, and eat well. Go to the doctor for check ups, and try not to worry (I think it comes with the Motherhood territory and having a majorly over-active imagination).

Surround yourself with friends that care about you.

And treat yourself to a green smoothie. Just be careful not to strain any muscles while tearing up your kale πŸ™‚

That’s for you, JY and MN πŸ˜‰ Love.

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

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

Paris: 5 Ways We Did More with (just a little) Less

Slowing down to enjoy the view.

The Seinne in the sun is pure magic.

Make hay while the sun shines, isn’t that what they say?

Hey bloggers!!

Well it’s true what they say, the time does go fast.

It’s hard to believe it is now September, with August behind us and all that it brought. Just a month ago we were putting the finishing touches on our packed luggage…

But with September comes so many good things: back to school, back to work, and back to working on this little blog and all it encompasses πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll all stick around to see what we’ve got up our sleeves!

While we get back to normal life, it’s my pleasure to share in my next three posts a few tidbits from our time in France – starting with a few things that made a big trip not only more affordable, but really, that much better.

Travel is a real luxury, and as you all know it can sure get costly. I hope you’ll enjoy this little round-up of 5 ways we traveled well with (just a little) less.

The mere sense of living is joy enough.

Β  ~ Emily Dickinson

Our favorite statue in the city just up the street from ‘home’.

1. Shack Up

And no, I don’t mean run away with a french man on a motorcycle!

As tempting as that might be πŸ™‚ …but really, I am referring to accommodation, as anyone knows that after flights, the place where you lay your head is likely to be your biggest expense, particularly on a longer trip.

And really, fancy hotels aside (which are sweet if you’ve got the budget) – just how much time will you be spending in said place of sleep?

I referenced the quaint french apartment we took in Paris, and it was just that: small, old, perfectly lovely, and right in the heart of where we wanted to be (for those of you interested we stayed in the Marais district).

After all, this is how the vast majority of people live in big cities like this, so it was fun, and not to mention for the four of us, (just a little) less hit on the budgetΒ  & a whole lot more authentic.

Unlocking the door to the courtyard after another big day.

Everything you can imagine is real.

~ Pablo Picasso

We did just fine cozied up in our tiny kitchen, enjoying simple foods made with basics (my next post).

This was the start of the food journey that has not only affirmed my approach to food more than ever before, but forever reminded me just how simple foods made with quality ingredients are best, and how important it is to enjoy each and every bite.

After all, that is precisely what the people do in France. And it certainly shows!

Our go-to salad for three whole weeks it seems!

2. Eat In

Really!

Part of the fun of having a real place to shack up in is the chance to live like any other person might in that part of the world (at least for me it was and I suspect this would be the case for many of you too!). Cooking in a strange (tiny) kitchen is an adventure, one I was up for, and one we had a blast with.

It was a beautiful thing – heck – I was cooking dinner in Paris! What a sheer delight it was, and one I took with gratitude and pleasure.

I mentioned the produce market that set up literally at the steps to our door twice in the time we were there. I bought melons, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, nectarines, apples & berries. They were all pretty amazing, yes.

The block we stayed on had a store that stocked every fine oil, wine, preserve & jelly you could want, and the boulangerie on our block made just the right baguettes and chocolate croissants for the girls, who enjoyed them daily.

It was good living, as we say.

Not like the one in Provence, but hey – pretty darned good!

Eating in saved us tons of money, and it also meant that the three of us vegetarian girls weren’t struggling with menus (and our French) every night. It also meant we ate like royalty & had plenty of time & money left to hit the streets for some quality sight-seeing, and maybe an ice cream and a night cap (or two).

Of course, we ate dinners out too, and we enjoyed it (just a little) more when we did.

Less really was more here, and it went this way through our entire trip.

The best part? Reserving the majority of our sitting time for chilling at our favorite cafes.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

~ Dr. Seuss

Cafe life in France, and in Paris especially, is just about the funnest thing you’ll ever experience, as no one is ever in a rush.

The people watching is just about the best in the world, not to mention the goodies you are likely to enjoy. A few days in I gave up my afternoon coffee and switched it to white wine or beer.

And then we simply sat. And watched. And drank. And talked.

Until it was time to be on our way.

3. Set out on Foot

A big city like Paris is (obviously) more than well set up for tourists, and they are pros at handling all those visitors.

There are tour buses, stacked double-deckers, boats, bike tours, and of course, the metro is superb. But nothing is like seeing the city on foot both for your waistline and your wallet.

We walked for hours & hours each day, which many of you know is a wonderful way to get fresh air, exercise, and views that you just don’t get from a tourist bus, or underground on the metro.

Plus, how will you see that top in the window or find that off-the-beaten-track patisserie with the best pastry you ate the whole trip? That gorgeous old cathedral you stumbled on that time you got lost?

Nothing says adventure like traipsing around a city with just your bag, a camera, good company and a good stylish pair of comfortablish shoes.

More on shoes in an upcoming post πŸ˜‰

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

4. Pack Coffee/Carry Water

Depending on your preference for coffee, this might not apply, but I was glad to have brought along a few bags of ground coffee from home to make French Presses while I greeted the day and acclimatized.

The kids were often tired (especially at the start of the trip), and given my (fairly unreasonable) requirement for caffeine early in the day, I got amped at home before leaving the house.

I’d done quite a bit of research on some coffee places I wanted to hit – places that are doing quality coffee like we are lucky to enjoy at home. My first try yielded a closed sign (Telescope seemed to be closed for the month) and the others were just too out-of-the-way and not convenient to drag the whole brood to.

For a full list of great spots to hit, check out this post on Alice Gao’s beautiful blog here. Alas, maybe next time.

Besides, I see plenty of snazzy coffee shops here (it’s my job), and I realized that day that I didn’t need to travel to Paris to see them there too.

So the home coffee was a major lifesaver, not to mention an easy way to avoid the Oranginas and other goodies you buy every time you sit your kids at a table (cause you know they can’t sit there with nothing).

But believe me, they got plenty of Oranginas. In fact, I am pretty sure we spent more on those drinks then most anything the whole trip. But more on that in another post too πŸ™‚

And bring water wherever you go! All that walking will make you tired, and many places might leave you high and dry (read: thirsty) and succumbing to overpriced drinks you otherwise wouldn’t need.

5. Buy a Museum Pass

Okay. So really. This one made me very, very, happy.

Mu husband deserves the credit here, and this action turned out to be genius.

And not strictly for financial reasons. In fact, all in, we figured that by the end of our week in Paris, we broke even on the cost of this. The real savings, however, turned out to be of the more precious kind.

This thing saved us precious and irreplaceable time. No line ups!

Visiting Paris in August means the height of tourist season there – in fact – there were (what felt like) more tourists than locals, and given the high rate of shop closures for ‘Vacances’, I’d say this was correct.

We bought a one week pass that got us into any museum, sans line-up. A sweet deal considering we packed a good ‘sight a day’ into the itinerary. And did I mention the time savings? Brilliant.

But this is my husband we are talking about. I married him for a reason, or two πŸ˜‰

On our ‘must-see’ cultural list was: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Les Invalides, Versailles, The Pompidou Centre, and of course, the Eiffel Tower (which we did not go up as one of the lifts was broken) – there are quite a few more amazing sights to see, but traveling with a young one allows only so much, and these kids were stimulated to the max.

Truthfully, they were amazing. As was my husband for buying this pass. Brilliance.

Β  Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Commitment is a line you must cross….it is the difference between dreaming and doing.

~ Bernie Fuchs

Looking back, it seems crazy that all that is behind us now. Time really flies.

True to one of my fave Dr. Seuss quotes, I’ve got to tell you that I’m pretty darned glad we did that, and my smiles feel pretty darned wide.

I’ve since returned home to enjoy the blessings we enjoy here, such as good great regional food, clean tasty water, and truly great friends.

Yes, this is where I give a shout out to all of you – whether you wrote me a text to read when I landed, a thoughtful & genuine blog comment, an email, FB message, or straight up picked up the phone and called (you know who you are), you all made coming home that much sweeter, and I have big love for each and every one of you!

Thank you all for being here with me!

Looking forward to all that is to come – and next I’ll get to those top foods – I promise πŸ™‚

  • Got any tips to add to this from your travels?
  • If you could travel anywhere tomorrow where would it be?

I’d love to add any wisdom from all you fine readers out there – and let us know your thoughts and whatever might be on your travel wish list!

Looking forward to a fab fall with all of you!

Yours in Less,

56 Comments

Filed under Family, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Rejuvenation, Shopping, Success, Travel, Vegetables, Vegetarian

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,

65 Comments

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

Recipe: Fennel Apple Juice with Greens & Fresh Lemon – and a Guest Post & Giveaway!

A little rest for the tummy is sometimes nice.

Fresh air impoverishes the doctor.

~ Danish Proverb

Happy Saturday readers!

Today I am excited to share with you a number of things. Firstly, this Saturday, one of my most favorite blogging buds Somer over at Good Clean Food is hosting a super awesome giveaway.

She is also kindly hosting a guest post from yours truly for this very recipe shared here today: a gorgeous, sweet, and truly healthy green juice! Read on to get the goods here, or head straight over there and enter to win a sweet running skirt from Lululemon on Somer’s blog!

Somer and I both share a mutual love of running – and I encourage you to read her story here – her ‘becoming a runner’ story is truly as inspirational as her personality. I’m thrilled to team up with her to share this recipe and celebrate all things healthy – whether it is a healthy diet, or health through physical activity, or just a straight up healthy attitude & mind (the most important thing of all, IMO).

Today’s juice recipe is (true to IPOM form) super simple. Of course, you need to own a juicer for it, but other than that, the ingredients are easy and accessible, and won’t break the bank either.

Sweet fennel and apples team up to offer balance against healthy cancer fighting vegetables like cabbage and kale, and are rounded out with the zing and pop of fresh lemon.

I’ve posted one green juice recipe here on this blog before, but I think I may have just found my new favorite. Now that is a seriously big claim, but if you get a chance to try it, I’ve a feeling it could become yours too!

The Less:

Less chewing and digesting means less work on the system. Less store-bought, packaged juice means less sugar and cooked compounds. Less refined sugar beverages means more low-calorie energy, and less cooking means hopefully more ways to expend it.

The More:

More easily assimilated raw juices means more dynamic raw nutrition. More sweetness and balance means more satisfaction to ward off cravings. More creative ways to juice with more easily found ingredients, means more likelihood you’ll do it over (and over) again.

Fennel Apple Juice with Greens & Fresh Lemon:

  • (2) small fennel bulbs, or (1) medium, with stalks removed
    (if the only fennel available is extra-large start with half and adjust to taste)
  • (2) medium organic apples
  • (1) organic lemon, whole
  • (8) leaves kale
  • (1/4) medium-sized green cabbage

Clean and process all ingredients into juicer friendly pieces. Make sure to leave the skin on the lemon as this adds to the taste of the final product significantly.

Juice all ingredients and strain if desired (my preferred way to enjoy it), and serve immediately for best nutritional value and taste!

Utilizing kale and cabbage as the veggie base of this juice adds such amazing nutritional benefit, and both are easy to find and easy (and cheap) to grow just about anywhere. Cabbage is one of my most favorite vegetables and keeps all through the winter given proper storage.

Adding sweet fennel offsets any bitterness, and makes this green cocktail absolutely sing!

So whether you are a runner, a walker, a cyclist, or just about any other fantastic version of yourself, this juice is almost guaranteed to make you feel like a million bucks.

It might make you feel almost as good as you’ll look in Somer’s sexy running skirt if you head over there to enter;)

The greatest wealth is health.

~Virgil

Sometimes the body just needs a rest. Just like a good nap on the couch on a lazy Saturday, this juice could provide just the break you need to feel (just a little) more rested and whole. Doesn’t that sound spectacular (I’m thinking of the nap really!)?

  • What is your go to physical activity?
  • Got a favorite juice to share with us?

We’re on the countdown here to take off (8 sleeps!) and are hard at work packing and tying up details before our big upcoming holiday. I’ll be sipping and slurping this juice this weekend and enjoying (just a little) fresh air.

Wishing you all a wonderful summer weekend!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Running, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Picking Fruit Seaside and a Chilled Cherry Almond Smoothie

This is one of the best parts of summer.

That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.

~ Emily Dickinson

Oceans are beautiful, aren’t they?

I am lucky to have grown up on the ocean, spending my youth just a few minutes from the peaceful rocky beaches of British Columbia. I still live near the ocean here in Vancouver, and admit I might find it tough to ever live away from it.

I am also lucky enough to live in one of the top cherry producing regions in the world. You know, those dark red fruits that grow up to the size of small plums and stain your hands and clothes as well as your palate, rendering it useless to enjoy any other fruit as much (at this time of the year).

Oceans and cherries. Two wonderful things.

Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright.

~ Bob Marley

You have to be someone.

~ Bob Marley

Well you can imagine the sheer glee on our recent island weekend at the discovery (by me, my daughter, and my visiting younger sister) of cherry trees laden with ripe fruit growing seaside not far from our parents home.

There isn’t a much better way to cap off a leisurely afternoon of sunshine and swimming at the beach than taking a spontaneous detour down a country lane to find bushels of your favorite fruits – just hanging there amongst the shipwrecks and sun-laden stillness.

It was a perfect day if there ever was one.

You can only lose what you cling to.

~ Buddha

My sister and I felt like kids again without a care in the world, except maybe being late to dinner at home as a result of our spontaneous excursion to the seaside orchard. Not far from when we were kids really, now that I think about it. And it felt good.

Today I’m excited to share those photos with you all as well as this simple and truly delicious recipe for a memorable summer drink. Another simple recipe requiring no more than 2 ingredients, this summer chiller really, truly, hits the spot.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~ Ghandi

The Less:

Fewer ingredients to play with means each one stands to play its part. Less time to prep once you are ready means having it in hand in minutes. Less packaged, store-bought fruit drinks means less waste and cooked sugars, and more reasons to use what’s seasonally on hand.

The More:

More fresh fruit and whole ingredients means more easy simple nutrition. More fresh fiber and whole fats from soaked nuts means more natural fuel, protein, and roughage. More easy simple recipes means more ways to enjoy your favorites, and these two are a match made in seaside cherry heaven.

*photos of the recipe were not made with the cherries picked that day : – )

Chilled Cherry Almond Smoothie:

To pit cherries, use the ripest fruit you can. If you have a cherry pitter, go ahead and use it, but I never have and (like usual) prefer to use my own tools (my hands). If the fruit is ripe, simply tear the cherry open and remove the pits with your hands. If they are more on the firm side, you can open them with knife (like an apple) and remove the pit then.

If you have the almond milk handy, simple combine the milk and cherries in a blender and add the ice cubes. Blend on high until frothy. Serve as desired and enjoy! A simple, easy way to cool down and enjoy two healthful and delicious foods.

Nothing fancy. But somehow it still seems fancy to me – how about you?

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it

~ Henry David Thoreau.

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Summer is here and it’s a beautiful thing, my weekend at home was such a fabulous one, and much love to my folks and to my sister for the time together!

On another note, we are in the 10 day countdown until we leave for our trip to France for 3 whole weeks! I’ll be blogging from there as there will be just too much to keep up with, especially as we try to work our way through it all in true ‘less is more’ fashion.

As well, we are adding a link to the sidebar, but for those who wish to follow me on Instagram, you can do so by following @shiramcd.

I’ve really been enjoying this new way to keep up with friends, as pictures really can be worth a thousand words. There, you can bet I’ll be adding shots daily while we are away.

  • Are you an Instagrammer?
  • What is your favorite way to eat cherries?
  • Ever picked them from the trees?

Do let us know. Until next time, IPOM readers, and I wish you all a truly wonderful day wherever you may be πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

67 Comments

Filed under Children, Cooking, Desserts, Food, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian