Tag Archives: blogging

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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39 Comments

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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46 Comments

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

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,

32 Comments

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

Recipe: Wild Rice & Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Veggies, nuts, grains, & dressing makes me a happy eater.

You’ll have to forgive me, or rather, let me re-phrase that, I hope you’ll all forgive me. I am having a salad moment (or three or seven).

Ask my kids at any given moment what mom eats, the answer is always the same. Salad. But don’t you worry, because that is where the sameness ends, because when it comes to salads, the chances for finding new and satisfying combos are as limited as your (or my) imagination.

Green Salad. Greek Salad. Bean Salad. Wheat Salad. There are endless grain, bean, nut, veggie, and dressing combos out there and honestly, I do live on salads pretty much 365 days of the year. Today’s salad can (like my last post) be served warm, cold or room temperature, and tastes great days after preparation.

Here, wild rice is cooked and tossed with roasted cubes of butternut squash & more of those wonderful white cannellini beans to make a nutritious and filling meal. Toss it all up with a few herbs & flavoring and you are set.

The Less:

Less every day grains means a new food to discover. Fewer bread-based lunch ideas means more heart for less heft. Less boring, basic salad dishes means less boredom in your tupperware, so packing a flavor-filled lunch or meal-on-the-go is a joy.

The More:

More tasty alternative grains means more variety and spice in your diet (and life). More plant-based hearty proteins means more easy & affordable flavor. More clean simple cooking means more energy to focus elsewhere, so your fuel is ready to fill you as needed.

Wild Rice & Roasted Butternut Squash Salad:

  • (1/2) cup dry wild rice
  • (1.5) cups water for cooking
  • (1) cup cooked cannellini beans (white kidneys)
  • (4) cups peeled & chopped butternut squash
  • (2) tbsp olive oil for roasting squash
  • (1/2) tsp salt for roasting squash
  • (3) tbsp mixed chopped herbs: fresh parsley, chives & thyme
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (2) tbsp olive oil
  • (2) tbsp balsamic vinegar

Start by combining the rice and water in a small- medium saucepan. Put the rice up to boil with the lid on and once boiling, turn the heat down and cook, covered for 45-50 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. If you are using a large butternut squash, you might get the right amount of squash simply from the top part (I call it the snout). Simply chop the top piece off the squash and peel it with a veggie peeler. Cube the squash with a sharp knife into 1-1.5 inch cubes.

Toss the squash in a bowl with the salt and oil for roasting, and lay it flat on a rimmed cookie sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, scraping and turning with a flipper at about the 20 minute mark.

While the rice and squash do their magic thing, prepare the beans and chopped herbs and set aside. Once the rice is cooked, drain it in a colander and let sit for a minute or two to cool and drain (it’s okay if the water isn’t all absorbed, the rice should be chewy but cooked). Once the squash is nicely browned and soft-ish remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Combine the rice with the herbs and beans. Add the squash once it cools for 10 minutes or so and toss with the oil, salt & vinegar. Adjust seasonings to taste and enjoy!

This salad will keep well in the fridge for well up to a week and also heats up beautifully. I enjoyed it served over chopped romaine hearts with an avocado lovingly piled on top.

It was all my co-workers could do to not attack my lunch bowl, but I did promise I would post the recipe soon.

Just in case anyone ever doubts my word πŸ™‚

I know folks all over the US are celebrating Thanksgiving today, and judging by the posts I have seen from those whose blogs I follow, it feels good to read the words of gratitude, love & thanks from all of you who are part of this lovely community of bloggers.

Wishing all of my south of the border friends & readers a wonderful holiday weekend!

  • Are you a fan of wild rice?
  • What are your thoughts on Thanksgiving this year?

With love & thanks & many continued blessings.

Yours in Less,

52 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

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,

55 Comments

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),

44 Comments

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, Provence, Planning, and the Importance of Being Here Now.

Leaving on a jet plane..

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.

~ Seneca

Okay, so it’s true. All true!

We leave for our family trip to France in just over a month! After spending the entire year looking ahead, the time has now come to get serious.

This means list making, packing, planning, renting obscene numbers of subtitled french films, and generally totally freaking out. We have precisely 21 sleeps to prepare for, and our stay will begin and end in Paris, which is so far my favorite place in the entire world.

My first visit was just two years ago, a quick 4 days there alone with my husband on a whirlwind first jaunt across the pond for me (my hubby visits Europe on business often and lived 3 years in France in his early 20’s).

I knew it would change my life, but I didn’t yet know just how much.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

Β  ~ Henry Miller

After a week in Paris, we’ll hit Beaune (in Burgundy wine country where the husband lived in the late 80’s) for a few days, and then cap off the holiday with a week in Provence (pinch me).

We are taking our two daughters, and at 14 and 8, they are not only excited, but also adding to the general feeling around here about, let’s say it again, generally totally freaking out. It’s a once in a lifetime trip for us as a family.

So how do we plan for a ‘less is more’ trip of this scale?

With all the thrill & excitement that comes from planning a huge trip like this, preparing for the sensory overload is key, and being realistic about how to handle it all is also just as key.

Here are a few things we’ll be doing to try to stay, and enjoy, each and every quality moment. I’d love to hear how you’d add to my list!

1. Pack light

Packing is a post in itself, and I may share more as we progress.

For now, we’ll begin the list making. As a family with at least one pro traveler (the husband), our philosophy on packing for air travel is simple. Light. Carry on if you can. For a trip of this length, we’ll be checking bags, but the goal is to bring only what we really need.

I’ll pack the usual leggings, a couple sweaters, a light rain jacket, one pair of jeans. A light summer dress or two, a bathing suit. Tank tops, shorts, lots of easy thin layers. Runners.

Plus, I need to leave room for (just a few) things I might acquire, right?

2. Eat in.

We’ve got apartments rented for both Paris and Provence, each for a week. This means market shopping!

This could be the thing I am most looking forward to, preparing salads and meals from simple market freshness, instead of relying on restaurants for all of our meals.

Dinner is always our highlight while on the road, and we plan to pick up breakfast and lunch snacks here and there as we crave them (honestly I could picnic on baguette and fresh fruit in the Luxembourg gardens everyday if I had my choice).

Simple, beautiful things excite me, and I cannot wait to live like a local in one of the most beautiful food countries in the world.

I just hope the purveyors at the market don’t mind my charming English.

A market shot in the Marais.

3. Take cash.

It’s no secret that I adore nice things, I am sure there are more than a few of you who are with me on that!

On my last trip to Paris, I didn’t shop all that much. Part of it was being overwhelmed. Another part of it was being with my husband (mine has about a 5 minute life span inside a women’s boutique). Another part of it was I waited until Sunday (for anyone who has been you know what I am talking about).

I left with a second-hand top and a trove of gorgeous memories. I’ve got zero complaints.

But this time, I am planning to treat myself to a few special things while I am there (insert justification here). To avoid over spending, I’ve been saving. I’m taking my spending money in cash. No secret credit cards. No regrets. Just fun.

4. The ‘one per day’ rule.

While not a big rule person, it is important when planning to not overwhelm the travelers. When planning, we’ve got a rule that we will focus each day on one major sight see, particularly in Paris. There is nothing worse than over planning and running out of time to see and do all the things you wanted ‘to check off’.

Want to feel like a failure? Over plan. I’m not competing with the clock am I?

After all, I don’t recall seeing the French rushing around trying to catch everything all at once. On my last trip, I noticed quite a few local folk with plenty of time to chill on a terrace, enjoy the company of friends, and enjoy a moment (or two) to relax.

So if we miss a line up at a museum and instead opt for a stroll through the Marais with an ice cream in hand, you won’t hear me complaining. I don’t think the kids will mind too much either πŸ™‚

5. Be here now.

Perhaps the single most important rule of all.

Planning such a big trip means spending a lot of money, and it is tempting to try to cram in too much. After all, you’ve got to get your money’s worth right?

As with anything in life, I try to see the beauty of the moment that is in front of me, and I want to teach my children to do the same. I know that the rooftop view from our apartment in Provence is likely to be one of the most beautiful things I could ever enjoy. I know there is a clean river to swim in nearby. I know there are markets and a whole town to explore.

My first ever meal in Paris. The Salad Nicoise. Veggie of course. And the waiter could not have been nicer!

This is where I’ll be instead of jumping in a hot car to drive to some other (equally spectacular) place. I don’t want to miss out on the moments and what is right in front of me, because I am seeking the ‘next big thing’.

So no matter where we are, that is where we will be.

Whether we are on the road to our next destination, or in the kitchen preparing a feast from our trip to the markets that day, that is where I will be.

With all my heart, my soul, and my mind.

Be Here Now.

~ Ram Dass, Be Here Now

With that, I’ve officially begun the countdown. It’s the start of summer, and the beginning of a truly special one.

I am overjoyed to share this experience with my family, and as I said earlier, a very special treat for all of us, as kids grow up. It’s not for forever these years, and they are both the perfect age.

My first visit to the Luxembourg inspired the digging up of my front lawn upon my return. Yes, I had gravel installed. The only thing missing is the guards.

I’d love to hear your tips on travel from a less is more perspective, and your special place in this world.

Spend the afternoon.Β  You can’t take it with you.

~Annie Dillard

Mine is here, right now. But when I’m there, that’s where it will be. The memories of those moments will be with me and my loved ones forever. Wherever we may go in this life.

And that my friends, is the most special gift I can imagine. Right now. At this moment.

What’s yours?

Yours in Less,

68 Comments

Filed under Children, Family, Food, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Shopping, Travel

NSF Update: On Cookies, Craft Beer & Giving Back

You are about to meet a very special couple.

Carla & Chris. Chris & Carla. I love these guys, and soon, you will too (I hope).

Both are bound by love and their mutual interests. Chris and Carla are both (beautiful) healthy folks who live the good life in pretty much every sense of the word. They work hard, they play hard, they eat well, and give back when they can.

While these two beautiful souls are surely extraordinary, they are also just really good, regular folk who are blessed to have their health, their happiness, and each other.

Like me or (maybe) like you.

Carla has been a huge supporter of Not So Fast since the early days, and so a few months ago both Chris and Carla decided to put themselves to the test for the benefit of others.

For those of you who are new to this blog, you may wonder what this has to do with food and delicious recipes. If you like, you can find more info here and here (I’d be honoured).

IPOM exists to share healthy, accessible recipes and inspire new (delicious) ways to live with (just a little) less.

This is a story outlining how small changes can be turned into real food for real people who have less.

How does it work?

Go without: Chris and Carla decided to fast for 40 days, by going without one specific luxury for 40 days.

The money they didn’t spend on what they would have consumed would be donated to feed those who have less.

Make It Real: Keep a journal (we are making something very special for this). Write in in your calendar. Tweet it.

By giving record, you make it real. After all, shouldn’t you take credit for your awareness and good deeds?

Feed People. We’ll do that, and soon we’ll tell you how. Or, get involved in your local community.

Here are Chris and Carla’s Stories…

Carla’s Challenge: Carla chose to go without any refined sugar for 40 days.

For those of us who are lucky to work with this lady like me, we know she works hard. She takes great care of herself. And she likes treats (but not too many).

We knew this would be tough..

Chris chose to go without all alcohol for 40 days.

This was in the midst of a few upcoming weddings. And weekends (those darned weekends)!

Chris, like Carla, is somewhat the picture of good health. They are both moderate people. But they, like all of us, have vices*, or things in their life they do not wish to be controlled by.

*(unless you don’t)

Here are a few thoughts direct from Chris and Carla themselves.Β 

This is proof that no matter how small, little changes add up, and can result in positive benefits for you and for someone else!

Chris speaks on going without:

Why did you want to do this challenge? I am faced with various challenges everyday, but at the time I felt that I do not challenge myself enough. I think I was feeling a little complacent. I think I avoid challenge to avoid additional stress in my life.

Why did you choose beer to give up? I chose all forms of alcohol, not only beer. In the past I have given up only beer but just replaced it with other forms of alcohol, like wine, so the challenge was absent. Recently I became aware of how much alcohol I consume. I am not abusive but I have a drink a day. I truly enjoy the taste of beer and wine and look forward to that after work or with friends. I could not remember the last time I went a long period without consuming any alcohol (more then a couple days anyway). So it seemed like a good idea. Another big part is health. As I get older I become more aware of health choices. I felt it could do my body good to stop drinking for a while.

What did this exercise teach you about yourself/each other? That I was more dependent than I thought on alcohol. After a long day at work or at a social gathering, I found I would be a bit grumpy knowing that I was not going to have a drink. There was a very noticeable absence in my life for the first couple weeks. I think though the social aspect was the most interesting. In my life alcohol is often consumed in the company of friends and with that comes good conversation and discussion. I missed that and found that I was less social during this time. I even think friends called me less knowing that they might be drinking alone if we went out. Giving up alcohol felt like a bit of a sacrifice, if only in the superficial sense.

What were you able to contribute as a result of this or who did this positively affect? I think the most positive effect was on me, both health and financially.

Has it affected you in any other ways? My fast came during the season of Lent so there was a spiritual element to it. Although that was not as prominent during this time, I did make a point of thinking about why I was giving something up whenever I longed for it. This would lead in many different directions, from self-satisfaction/dissatisfaction to thinking of those who have no choice in what they do not have, to health and pride.

Would you do it again/build something like this into your daily routines? I will consider doing this again in a year and currently I conscientiously practice giving things up on a week to week basis.

Carla speaks on going without:

Why did you want to do this challenge? To encourage more reflection in my life – to help remind myself of how blessed I am for what I have, and that there are many who have to go without –being able to choose to go without is a luxury. I also wanted to support NSF by giving to those who have less.

Why did you choose sugar? I chose sugar for health reasons… and because I crave a little sweetness at least once a day. I knew it would be a little difficult.

What did this exercise teach you about yourself/each other? It taught me self discipline and encouraged generosity and reflection. It was encouraging to see how well Chris did in his fast and it helped me stay on track. Seeing that Chris and I could complete this challenge (not without our moments of weakness…), who knows what else we could take on.

What were you able to contribute as a result of this or who did this positively affect? Food issues are important to me – where our food comes from, how it is produced, what we put in our bodies and food waste. We are donating $$$ to NSF for a local food project they are involved in.

Has it affected you in any other ways (either positive or negative)? This fast has taught me that I don’t need sugar (and probably a lot of other things in life) – and should try and treat it as something special – that I’m lucky/blessed to be able to have, while others have to go without.

Would you do it again/build something like this into your daily routines? Yes.

Making it real…

Carla used this little notebook to record what she was giving up, and the value of it too.

In it I found little gems of her writing.

Putting words to something somehow makes it real, like thoughts once they become spoken words.

Do you keep a journal?

Everyday is a new challenge..what’s yours?

Chris and Carla donated enough money to sponsor a very special NSF event coming up.

I can’t wait to share this with you as the planning is in the works as we speak. Seeing the results of their challenge has inspired many great things and I can’t thank them enough for their courage and willingness to take part.

Not only will their funds provide much needed food, but we will also be sharing cooking skills that will (hopefully) enable folks to keep feeding themselves. Stay tuned as we roll out more πŸ™‚

I’ll be keeping the recipes flowing too, starting with these delicious cookies in my next post…

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.

~ Oscar Wilde

  • Have you ever considered giving up a vice or a habit?
  • If you did what would it be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and thank you my friends for reading about this amazing effort by amazing people. I told you you’d like them. Was I wrong? πŸ˜‰

There is lots more to come, and I’d love to hear from you all!

Here’s to a super week everyone!

Yours in Less,

66 Comments

Filed under Discipline, Fasting, Feeding, Food, Going Without, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Uncategorized

The Less and More of Closet Cleaning & Letting Go (just a little)

Anyone due for a closet cleaning?

The things you own end up owning you.

~ Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Holla dear friends and readers!

I alluded a few months back to some closet cleaning I did in an attempt to free up some space.

I wouldn’t consider myself a minimalist, but living with (just a little) less has given me the opportunity to look at more than one area of my life. I often get bogged down by ‘stuff’ and feel the need to purge.

Sound familiar?

Part of this could have to do with my tiny 1940’s closet (one girlfriend cried when she saw it, citing ‘cruelty to women’), part of it is just trying to stay up to date with what the weather is doing, and a huge part of it is just wanting to be (just a little) more free.

A fit, healthy body – that is the best fashion statement.

~ Jess C. Scott

This past year has brought some big changes in my life as I started to approach things differently, with more awareness, and a huge desire to grow. It’s been challenging, exhilarating, and, quite literally, the best time I’ve ever had.

So, if you’ll oblige me, I’d love to talk (just a little) about our closets!

Many wealthy people are little more than the janitors of their possessions.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

I’ve often found myself captured in a fantasy of me as a lone traveler wandering with a single backpack and nothing else.

In this fantasy I imagine the freedom to move with just the bare minimums at hand, and the thrill of having the world at my fingertips. The wide open spaces. The sheer open possibility without the burden of choice (what to wear?) and the weight of grounding possessions.

But reality is quite different. Real life requires certain things.

We work. We play. We run. We hike. We go out. We garden. We have outfits for each.

Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.

~ Democritus

Clothes are fun. I like clothes. Jeans, shirts, shoes. Bags, scarves, and more scarves (I have a few scarves).

If you are anything like me, you end up with a few jam-packed drawers, and clothes hung so tightly you can’t see what’s in there. Items hung and not worn for months.

Sure, that blue number you got last year is a cool piece, and you got a killer deal on it, but do you wear it?

So a few months ago, after too long of looking at the same stale picture of my closet, I took action. Before I shared, I wanted to see what happened. Here is what I did.

This is my all time favorite. Classic white. Wear it till it’s dead, and get a new one.

The Less:

Less clothes in your closet means more easy ways to find favorites. Less maybes means more yes’s so you can deliberate with ease. Less guilt around what doesn’t work means less weight on your shoulders, so you can dress those shoulders smartly everyday.

The More:

More loving what you do have means more loving what you wear. More knowing what you love means more knowing who you are. More letting go means more control over your life, so you can get on with what matters in your heart.

I always have one favorite. What’s yours?

The What. The How. The Wear (pardon the pun).

Jeans & Pants: I cut my jeans selection into 3rds: those I wear often (every week), those I rarely wear (but still love and have a purpose), and those I never wear (the wide leg thing didn’t work for me). The never wears were axed, and the rarely wear got cut in half. I went from a diluted 17 casual pants to a slick streamlined 9.

Shirts & Blouses: Anything not worn in the last 2 months got axed. I took out 2/3 of what was hanging in my closet! Vintage thrifted items, lace tops, colorful fussy things I never wore. My lifestyle doesn’t change too much, and I know if I am getting dressed (down or up) a little black anything is all I need, and feel best in guaranteed. All those dresses I bought and never wore? Gone. All those tops that get put on and taken off before I leave the house? Gone.

Jackets: Jackets take up lots of space, and I had a few blazers I’d collected through the years just hanging out. I work in a pretty casual industry and trust me, the need for a blazer is rare (business attire behind the espresso machine anyone?). The wool coats, down soccer-mom gear and fleece went to the basement for the winter (to keep), along with all the rain gear I never wore… ‘but it’s new!’. I never wore it. Gone.

Shoes: Anything uncomfortable was gone. Those black booties I got on sale and hid from the hubby during my dark days of obsessive shopping? Gone. They might have been (super) cute, but they hurt my feet. Loose shoes? Gone. Old shoes? Gone! I refined my shoe selection down to less than half.

T-shirts & Running Gear: After too many times of muttering ‘where is my sports bra?’…’where is my favorite t-shirt for sleeping?’ or passing over lesser items for the ones I really wanted to wear I said enough was enough. The ones I really wanted to wear were all I needed. 2 pairs of good running shorts, 2 good athletic tanks, 2 good sports bras, 3 favorite t-shirts.

Less laundry, more finding, and more living were mine. I just had to let go. And so I did. 80% gone, and 100% better!

Classic. Comfy. Goes with everything. What’s your classic?

The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.

~ Coco Chanel

The funny thing is, I cheated when I did this.

I totally went the easy route. And now I’m here to tell you I think you could too (only if you want to of course).

I didn’t actually get rid of any of the good stuff yet. I packed it in boxes, and put it downstairs. I told myself as I felt the scared ‘are you crazy?’….’this is beautiful!’…if I missed it, I could have it back.

Guess what?

Getting dressed has never been easier.

I am done in (seriously) one try. Everything (well, almost everything) in the closet now gets worn. I don’t feel guilt towards items that don’t work. I don’t feel remorse everyday looking at things that I should be wearing.

I realized the other day as I popped on a fave pair of pants, threw on my latest favorite t-shirt, and slipped into my oxfords, that I am free.

Freer than I have ever been as a matter of fact! I don’t miss a single thing, and couldn’t even tell you what is down there.

I like just a little. And it goes with everything!

Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.

~ Coco Chanel

I don’t even know what’s downstairs, and I really don’t need to. It’s out of my mind, and out of my space.

Just like a fast clears the body of food debris, and lightens the mind – this letting go in a material sense has been of tremendous value. I’ll keep those things downstairs and maybe ‘shop’ the boxes here and there, after all, a little absence may make the old seem new again.

But more likely I’ll be giving it all away.

I am no minimalist (yet), but I like letting go, and I think I’ll be doing it a lot more.

  • Are you in need of a good closet clean or purge?
  • What are your favorite basics you can’t live without?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. After all, we (hopefully) don’t eat more than we should, or stock more food than we need (unless you do). We only eat what we like, not what doesn’t agree with us.

Why shouldn’t we take the same approach to our closets?

Thanks for reading dear friends, I’d love to hear from you! I am off on a work trip this week and may be here and there with my comments again – this is the last one (I think) until the big one (France!)..have a wonderful week all!

Next up…a fabulously delicious dairy free white bean dip!

Yours in Less,

86 Comments

Filed under Fashion, Going Without, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Shopping

On Road Tripping and (just a little) Time to Breathe.

Anyone fancy a road trip?

Life is a journey, not a destination.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Holla friends and bloggers! It’s so great to be baaaack!

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful few days over the weekend! As for us, we took a few extra days to enjoy the Canadian holiday that just passed and celebrated with the first road trip of the summer season.

We love to road trip!

Ah, open space, open roads, and open minds.

Road trips are not for everyone, and I know a few people who simply don’t enjoy time cooped up in a car for hours on end. With that, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ‘more’ ways to make road travel (just a little) ‘less’ stressful, and maybe (just a little) more enjoyable.

Of course, if you are a lover of the open road like we are, I’d love to hear your tips!

Here are a few of our faves…

Eat breakfast. Eat it before you go, or pack it and take it with you.

Just as you wouldn’t set off for the highway without a full tank of gas, its important to start the trip with a good full tummy!

So whether it’s a bowl of oatmeal, a piece of toast, or a yummy green smoothie (my next post), enjoy it before you head off.

Or, simply throw your smoothie into a clean mason jar and you are good to go for whenever you do get hungry!

The only journey is the one within.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Pack plenty of food. The key to a good time is always good food, and the car is no exception!

Easy to eat and clean up healthy snacks are best – and are always appreciated as well!

Our faves are lots of raw veggies, PB&J sandwiches, bagels, jujubes, and easy fruits like apples and oranges.

Nothing feels as good as being prepared, and I love pulling the good stuff out of the bag and smiling while they chow down πŸ™‚

Take lots of fresh water. Staying well hydrated anytime is key, and especially on the road (even if it does mean more annoying pee breaks).

Keeping hydrated ensures you arrive at your destination fresh and ready, instead of dry and wilted.

Water helps with alertness too (for the driver). So pack lots of the cold stuff just to be safe, and pee breaks are always a nice excuse to hit another view-point!

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Cover your bases. Before leaving for the road, make sure you’ve got enough supplies to keep everyone happy….toilet paper, paper towel, tea towels for extra spills, plastic bags, hand sanitizer, gravol, and pillows & blankets for those who might sleep in the back…..or the front….always me on the way home!

Remember to love the driver. I made a rule years ago to honor the driver that got me somewhere. It’s super corny, but I know my driving hubby likes a little of that love, and I like to give it.

The open road can be harsh, and driving is stressful. I try to remember the driver, to thank them, and to take care of them. So whether it’s a little neck massage, an arm scratch, a well-timed Altoid, or even just a genuine ‘thank you’ – a little goes a long way, even if it is just a little gesture.

I wonder if she is practicing mindful breathing?

Take the opportunity to breathe (or not). Anyone tried mindful breathing on the road? It’s a great time to focus on breath and calm the self for the long road ahead. Just a few deep breaths to start the trip and you might relax (just a little) more.

Now wouldn’t that be swell?

Smile, breathe and go slowly.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Get ready to be inspired. My favorite part of the open road is the possibility ahead, especially at the start of a trip!

With all the promise of a few days away, comes an unknown that brings us joy and maybe (just a little) hope. Hope that we’ll see and do things that will bring us joy.

Hope in the memories we’ll make and the sights that we’ll see. Notebooks, cameras, books and music. Anything to inspire and delight!

The world is ours to see.

Strong and content I travel the open road.

~ Walt Whitman

With this view, I am sure you can imagine we didn’t leave much, and arriving there was pretty sweet indeed.

We had a great time with old friends, and it was surely worth the drive.

The meals weren’t half bad either, as you can see from these shots of the wonderfully bustling farmer’s market πŸ™‚

  • An inspired vacation salad..

    Are you a fan of travel or road trips?

  • What are your favorite travel snacks?

In my next post I’ll be sharing with you my latest green smoothie (pictured here today), and I am so thrilled to have heard from those of you who had success with some of the recent IPOM recipes!

Thank you for your wonderful comments, support, and feedback – I always love to hear from you πŸ™‚

Wishing you all a super wonderful week!

Yours in Less,

54 Comments

Filed under Children, Family, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Rejuvenation, Travel, Vegetables