Tag Archives: life

A Letter to Readers & An Upcoming Move

Never Stop Dreaming | In Pursuit Of More

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

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

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

Never Stop Dreaming | In Pursuit Of More

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

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

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

Never Stop Dreaming | In Pursuit Of More

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

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

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

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle

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

True Storytelling: A Not So Fast Going Without Story

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

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

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

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

But enough about me.

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

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

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

I’d love to hear from you!

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

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

Yours in (just a little) Less,

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

True Stories: My Shopping Addiction & The Healing Process

A quick break for some storytelling.

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

~ Confucius

True story: I love food.

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

But I love other things too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction. It’s not pretty.

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

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

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

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

A purpose far greater than just myself.

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

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

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

All in moderation of course πŸ™‚

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in Less,

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

On Gratitude, Gratefulness & Always Giving Thanks

Gratitude. What does it mean to you?

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

~ Thornton Wilder

It’s that time of year again!

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

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

Happy October everyone!

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

~ William James

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

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

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

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

~ Leo Buscaglia

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

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

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

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

~ Epictetus

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

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

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

That is, unless you can’t afford it.

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

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

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

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

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

~ Thomas Goodwin

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

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

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

Rest and be thankful.

~ William Wadsworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in Less (as always),

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

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

Taking Cues from Country Folk & Removing My Shoes

Start by removing all pretense, then your shoes.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

I went, I saw, I ate, I reveled. I went home.

Freshly back from a visit to the country, my senses are still reeling from the sights and sounds of water, birds, soft grass, good clean food, laughter and plenty of pure unadulterated stillness.

A typical weekend visit to the family home means (weather permitting) farmer’s market visits, long runs in the quiet breezy air, and plenty of ocean-side time to the sounds of lapping water and the odd speed boat off in the far salty distance.

There, my phone doesn’t work, and neither do I.

This time of year, there is bounty in the gardens. Meals come from the yard and ingredients are picked not days, and not hours, but just minutes before preparing (and eating of course!).

Back home during the growing season, planning meals is as much about what is ready as it is about what your appetite tells you (actually quite a bit more).

Peas come and go for three weeks only, the strawberries show their bright faces only long enough to remember their soft red cheeks, and (thankfully) the kale grows for many prosperous and green months on end.

It’s a different (and refreshing) way to look at food.

I hope you’ll humor me as we walk through the garden and take (just a few) extra moments of island time.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.

~ Chinese Proverb

I always start by removing my shoes. The grass feels better that way, and somehow, everything seems just that much more beautiful. And real. Something about dirt in my toes.

Sometimes there isn’t an entire pints worth of strawberries left to pick and you have to enjoy what there is (these were the last ones saved for my daughter to pick).

This simple example (to me) embodies the ‘less is more’ lifestyle with crystal clarity – enjoying what there is when it is and making it last.

I won’t try to deny these strawberries were most thoroughly enjoyed. Yes, all 5 of them.

Whenever you are sincerely pleased, you are nourished.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A quick (slightly disappointing) visit to the local grocery store offers a stark contrast to the bounty that is seen on display at the Farmer’s Market.

There at the market you can meet the guys who make your white chocolate scones and work through the night to make your loaf of daily bread.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

~ Michael Pollan

It brings a new appreciation for where your food comes from – to see the hands that create the food for your nourishment and to lay eyes on the mouths that smile from a life of honest work.

For those of us who are blessed to live where produce grows in abundance, it seems an easy choice to buy (and eat) local.

Here in the city if I miss the Farmer’s Market, I’ve got a great grocery store in just about every neighborhood I can hit up as I need.

In many smaller communities this often isn’t the case. So more and more communities are relying on themselves, and on each other.

There are many communities across the globe who don’t have this…..yet.

After a visit like this, I return feeling more resolved than ever to work towards ways to bring food security to everyday people. Like me, (maybe) you, and (maybe) our neighbors.

There is just too much capability for abundance not to.

It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.

~ Aristotle

It seems so easy.

1. Grow food.

You need soil. You need seeds. Add a little sunshine and diligent watering and watch it grow.

I didn’t get my veggie garden in this year, as I mentioned there is just so much abundance all around me, there is no urgent reason not to support those who are working hard to produce amazing food for the region right now. It’s on the list, but for now I am happy to support those who are already in the game.

2. Cook it.

Prepare your meals with love. Plan around what there is. Use what you have, and what you can reasonably afford.

Maybe even tuck (just a little) away for someone else. Who knows? It’s all up to you, and to us as a whole, if we decide.

3. Eat it.

Eat with mindfulness if you can. Chew with gratitude. Swallow with awareness, and look your meal-mates in the eye. Talk with one another. Fully be. Wherever it is you may be.

4. Be nourished.

Being nourished is about so much more than just good food. Start with a helping of healthy, homemade vegetables & proteins, add a generous sprinkle of gratitude & and a moderate side of humility, and enjoy the fruits of your (or someone else’s) labor. After all, it is surely delicious. Isn’t it?

These are the simple things we can do.

From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.

~ Arthur Ashe

I want to take a moment to thank all of the supporters of this blog. Having such a supportive group of readers has made this whole project take on a completely new life. This isn’t just my project anymore – I really feel that it’s ours.

I have been touched to receive notes from a few of you looking to connect about health topics ranging from the importance of fitness to a holistic lifestyle (so true – link to Susan’s site here) – to the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle for those living with terminal illnesses such as cancer (link to Jillian’s blog here).

All of you have such amazing stories to tell and I am happy to do what I can to bring awareness to wellness initiatives everywhere.

But for now, let’s eat, and take off our shoes.

We all have things we do to escape and break what can seem like difficult patterns or routines we are stuck in – or simply just to get away. I’d love to hear what you do to step away.

  • Are you a garden lover?
  • Where do you take your shoes off and really relax?

For now, let’s eat well, and enjoy!

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.

~ Muhammad Ali

Next up I’ve got a super delicious chickpea salad in the wings – you’ll want to catch this one it is that delicious! Wishing you all a super fabulous week!

Yours in Less,

68 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Family, Food, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Rejuvenation, Salads, Travel, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

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