Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Bottom Line

As mentioned in my last post, I am currently reading How to get out of your own way by Tyrese Gibson. While i admit he is not necessarily a born writer, he makes some very valid points. The challenges of the famous life don't always relate to that of a stay at home mom. However his struggles growing up in the hood to being where he is now, not only famous and wealthy, but a good, respectable person, is inspiring.

One concept that has stayed with me so far (I am only about 1/3 into the book at this point) is the idea of the Bottom Line. The bottom line is the point where you say this is the lowest point and it is no longer acceptable, the goal is to be above the 'bottom line' and for the line to follow you to the top as you raise the bar. For example, my weight right now is 112 kg and that IS my bottom line. I have  not gone above this weight in along time and when I see it it seems to be where I say enough is enough and do something about it. This concept can be applied to a lot of different things, state of the home, relationships and how you are treated or treat others, time spent on media or anything undesirable. It is sort of a standard of self control and what is acceptable. When you get close to what you have determined to be that bottom line, you check yourself and say NO, this is not ok. It gives you a chance to turn it around right then and there.

My bottom line:

  • 112 kg (247 lbs) 
  • Exercising at least 3 times a week, including work
  • No Binge eating - or eating mindlessly without controlling the portion or amount
  • I will not let others use me under the guise of 'friendship' or even family or guilt me into doing things
  • Don't be LAZY ~ play with the kids, keep the house clean, cook good meals, don't play dead
  • No more then 2 hours of watching TV a day
  • Keep house tidy enough to be able to invite someone in off the street
  • No yelling at the people that I love, ignoring them or being angry when I am really mad at myself or frustrated
These may read a lot like goals, and they are, but they also signify that I will no longer settle for anything less.
I actually like this concept so much i may just re-name this blog after it. The bottom is a heavy place. Something to consider in the future.

In previous posts i mentioned that I feel like I function at a 'low hum' and that each and everyone of us has a different frequency of 'life energy', at least that's how I can describe it. I tend to attract people with high frequencies but click better with those who are more on my wave length. I really do like being a 'low hummer' in a lot of ways. I love being the introvert that I am, I like quiet, I like having only a few close friends and I like being 'grounded' or rather 'low to the ground' (hovering slightly above has it's benefits and downfalls, but that is a different matter). The problem is that sometimes I my hum is so low it nearly stops and so do I. Sometimes I will lay in bed, feeling so energized, ready to do it all, everything that I have set before me for the day, I hatch a plan and by the time I get dressed, sometimes even before that, I am so mentally blocked that it is paralyzing.Then all I feel I can do is sit there and watch the day slip through my fingers like I'm not even really here, sort of like an out of body experience. When I do get out the door to go to the gym or to work, I feel so much better. Often however the next day I feel like I need to recoup after all that activity and so I feel 'alive' 50% of the time at best. I think I need to 'raise my frequency' and learn how to sustain it at a faster pace, while finding reasonable ways to get that time-out moments of stillness. Like I wrote in my new years post, my resolution for this year is to feel more alive and to do things that I want to do. If I actually manage to do this, perhaps I will be able to function as a normal human being.

    My dear friend Ashley recently posted a blog about this very topic which was so on point:

Reviewing 2013, I thought: This was the year in which I wrote a book and visited Italy. But this was also the year in which I didn't get my blood pressure checked, take up square-dancing or visit my cousins.
I am the passive type. Like many people with low self-esteem, I don't do much. I look and look but almost never leap. I give up automatically. I quit before I start.
Outside observers might see us as easygoing, acquiescent, serene, mild. To what extent are they correct, and to what extent are we merely too depressed, traumatized and/or terrified to take initiative and act?
How did we get this way? Some of us hid from harm in violent or chaotic childhoods by staying silent and still. Mocked, loathed or punished for things we did, we stopped doing things. Like other species, we learned to play dead. Passivity was our survival strategy. The self-loathing motto maintains: The less I do, the less I can do wrong.
So now we are the ones who watch and wait as others walk off laughing, humming, making plans. We are the ones who, asked what we want to do, say: "Whatever you decide."
Self-loathing disconnects us from our own desires. Whatever we might want, and thus whatever we might want to do, is automatically—because we want it—tainted, toxic and suspect. How much simpler it is, in the short-term, to tell ourselves that we want nothing or that we don't know what we want or that we don't care.
Thus we do as little as possible. We fulfill our basic responsibilities. We function, more or less. No living creature is 100 percent frozen. But so many things we could or should do—for ourselves, for others, for the greater good, for fun—we don't.
Here's where appearances become deceptive. Spiritual traditions hail a certain quality that some call stillness. We whom low self-esteem renders passive are certainly still. So how, observing our do-nothingness alongside that of Siddhartha in meditation, say, or Lao Tzu going with the flow, to discern between patience, peace, acceptance, equanimity, obedience, dread, resignation, self-denial and paralysis?
You might say: The sages chose stillness. Ah, but so do we. In being passive, we choose not to choose. The difference between us and them is that we make this choice for the wrong reasons. And while they were still in both body and mind, our minds race ruthlessly. In fact, our grueling mental marathons—self-doubt, self-criticism, fear, regret—drain and distract us into being even more inert.
Ten million billboards scream at us "Just Do It." Pundits say they don't regret things they have done but things they haven't done. But doing nothing seems so easy, so risk-free to us, and habits born of terror are notoriously hard to break.
Start small. Imagine yourself as a cartoon rabbit that has been punched, kicked, then steamrolled flat. Imagine this cute creature comically peeling itself off the asphalt with a sucking sound, then shaking itself off and re-inflating—with, of course, a popping sound—then standing still: not in a fearful frozen way but like the ancient sages, scanning the horizon, assessing what hurts and thinking quietly: OK, I'm on my feet. Where to?
You already do some things. Think of these as twiglets. How, and in which directions, can you help them grow?
We who are passive need not worry quite yet about "just doing it." First, we must learn to "just want it."
- See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/anneli-rufus/are-you-playing-dead#sthash.DblDmCdo.dpuf

Are You Playing Dead?

By:
Reviewing 2013, I thought: This was the year in which I wrote a book and visited Italy. But this was also the year in which I didn't get my blood pressure checked, take up square-dancing or visit my cousins.
I am the passive type. Like many people with low self-esteem, I don't do much. I look and look but almost never leap. I give up automatically. I quit before I start.
Outside observers might see us as easygoing, acquiescent, serene, mild. To what extent are they correct, and to what extent are we merely too depressed, traumatized and/or terrified to take initiative and act?
How did we get this way? Some of us hid from harm in violent or chaotic childhoods by staying silent and still. Mocked, loathed or punished for things we did, we stopped doing things. Like other species, we learned to play dead. Passivity was our survival strategy. The self-loathing motto maintains: The less I do, the less I can do wrong.
So now we are the ones who watch and wait as others walk off laughing, humming, making plans. We are the ones who, asked what we want to do, say: "Whatever you decide."
Self-loathing disconnects us from our own desires. Whatever we might want, and thus whatever we might want to do, is automatically—because we want it—tainted, toxic and suspect. How much simpler it is, in the short-term, to tell ourselves that we want nothing or that we don't know what we want or that we don't care.
Thus we do as little as possible. We fulfill our basic responsibilities. We function, more or less. No living creature is 100 percent frozen. But so many things we could or should do—for ourselves, for others, for the greater good, for fun—we don't.
Here's where appearances become deceptive. Spiritual traditions hail a certain quality that some call stillness. We whom low self-esteem renders passive are certainly still. So how, observing our do-nothingness alongside that of Siddhartha in meditation, say, or Lao Tzu going with the flow, to discern between patience, peace, acceptance, equanimity, obedience, dread, resignation, self-denial and paralysis?
You might say: The sages chose stillness. Ah, but so do we. In being passive, we choose not to choose. The difference between us and them is that we make this choice for the wrong reasons. And while they were still in both body and mind, our minds race ruthlessly. In fact, our grueling mental marathons—self-doubt, self-criticism, fear, regret—drain and distract us into being even more inert.
Ten million billboards scream at us "Just Do It." Pundits say they don't regret things they have done but things they haven't done. But doing nothing seems so easy, so risk-free to us, and habits born of terror are notoriously hard to break.
Start small. Imagine yourself as a cartoon rabbit that has been punched, kicked, then steamrolled flat. Imagine this cute creature comically peeling itself off the asphalt with a sucking sound, then shaking itself off and re-inflating—with, of course, a popping sound—then standing still: not in a fearful frozen way but like the ancient sages, scanning the horizon, assessing what hurts and thinking quietly: OK, I'm on my feet. Where to?
You already do some things. Think of these as twiglets. How, and in which directions
We who are passive need not worry quite yet about "just doing it." First, we must learn to "just want it."
- See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/anneli-rufus/are-you-playing-dead#sthash.DblDmCdo.dpuf

Are You Playing Dead?

By:
Reviewing 2013, I thought: This was the year in which I wrote a book and visited Italy. But this was also the year in which I didn't get my blood pressure checked, take up square-dancing or visit my cousins.
I am the passive type. Like many people with low self-esteem, I don't do much. I look and look but almost never leap. I give up automatically. I quit before I start.
Outside observers might see us as easygoing, acquiescent, serene, mild. To what extent are they correct, and to what extent are we merely too depressed, traumatized and/or terrified to take initiative and act?
How did we get this way? Some of us hid from harm in violent or chaotic childhoods by staying silent and still. Mocked, loathed or punished for things we did, we stopped doing things. Like other species, we learned to play dead. Passivity was our survival strategy. The self-loathing motto maintains: The less I do, the less I can do wrong.
So now we are the ones who watch and wait as others walk off laughing, humming, making plans. We are the ones who, asked what we want to do, say: "Whatever you decide."
Self-loathing disconnects us from our own desires. Whatever we might want, and thus whatever we might want to do, is automatically—because we want it—tainted, toxic and suspect. How much simpler it is, in the short-term, to tell ourselves that we want nothing or that we don't know what we want or that we don't care.
Thus we do as little as possible. We fulfill our basic responsibilities. We function, more or less. No living creature is 100 percent frozen. But so many things we could or should do—for ourselves, for others, for the greater good, for fun—we don't.
Here's where appearances become deceptive. Spiritual traditions hail a certain quality that some call stillness. We whom low self-esteem renders passive are certainly still. So how, observing our do-nothingness alongside that of Siddhartha in meditation, say, or Lao Tzu going with the flow, to discern between patience, peace, acceptance, equanimity, obedience, dread, resignation, self-denial and paralysis?
You might say: The sages chose stillness. Ah, but so do we. In being passive, we choose not to choose. The difference between us and them is that we make this choice for the wrong reasons. And while they were still in both body and mind, our minds race ruthlessly. In fact, our grueling mental marathons—self-doubt, self-criticism, fear, regret—drain and distract us into being even more inert.
Ten million billboards scream at us "Just Do It." Pundits say they don't regret things they have done but things they haven't done. But doing nothing seems so easy, so risk-free to us, and habits born of terror are notoriously hard to break.
Start small. Imagine yourself as a cartoon rabbit that has been punched, kicked, then steamrolled flat. Imagine this cute creature comically peeling itself off the asphalt with a sucking sound, then shaking itself off and re-inflating—with, of course, a popping sound—then standing still: not in a fearful frozen way but like the ancient sages, scanning the horizon, assessing what hurts and thinking quietly: OK, I'm on my feet. Where to?
You already do some things. Think of these as twiglets. How, and in which directions, can you help them grow?
We who are passive need not worry quite yet about "just doing it." First, we must learn to "just want it."
- See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/anneli-rufus/are-you-playing-dead#sthash.DblDmCdo.dpuf
Are you playing Dead? ~ Annelli Rufus
Reviewing 2013, I thought: This was the year in which I wrote a book and visited Italy. But this was also the year in which I didn't get my blood pressure checked, take up square-dancing or visit my cousins.

I am the passive type. Like many people with low self-esteem, I don't do much. I look and look but almost never leap. I give up automatically. I quit before I start.

Outside observers might see us as easygoing, acquiescent, serene, mild. To what extent are they correct, and to what extent are we merely too depressed, traumatized and/or terrified to take initiative and act?

How did we get this way? Some of us hid from harm in violent or chaotic childhoods by staying silent and still. Mocked, loathed or punished for things we did, we stopped doing things. Like other species, we learned to play dead. Passivity was our survival strategy. The self-loathing motto maintains: The less I do, the less I can do wrong.

So now we are the ones who watch and wait as others walk off laughing, humming, making plans. We are the ones who, asked what we want to do, say: "Whatever you decide."

Self-loathing disconnects us from our own desires. Whatever we might want, and thus whatever we might want to do, is automatically—because we want it—tainted, toxic and suspect. How much simpler it is, in the short-term, to tell ourselves that we want nothing or that we don't know what we want or that we don't care.

Thus we do as little as possible. We fulfill our basic responsibilities. We function, more or less. No living creature is 100 percent frozen. But so many things we could or should do—for ourselves, for others, for the greater good, for fun—we don't.

Here's where appearances become deceptive. Spiritual traditions hail a certain quality that some call stillness. We whom low self-esteem renders passive are certainly still. So how, observing our do-nothingness alongside that of Siddhartha in meditation, say, or Lao Tzu going with the flow, to discern between patience, peace, acceptance, equanimity, obedience, dread, resignation, self-denial and paralysis?

You might say: The sages chose stillness. Ah, but so do we. In being passive, we choose not to choose. The difference between us and them is that we make this choice for the wrong reasons. And while they were still in both body and mind, our minds race ruthlessly. In fact, our grueling mental marathons—self-doubt, self-criticism, fear, regret—drain and distract us into being even more inert.

Ten million billboards scream at us "Just Do It." Pundits say they don't regret things they have done but things they haven't done. But doing nothing seems so easy, so risk-free to us, and habits born of terror are notoriously hard to break.

Start small. Imagine yourself as a cartoon rabbit that has been punched, kicked, then steamrolled flat. Imagine this cute creature comically peeling itself off the asphalt with a sucking sound, then shaking itself off and re-inflating—with, of course, a popping sound—then standing still: not in a fearful frozen way but like the ancient sages, scanning the horizon, assessing what hurts and thinking quietly: OK, I'm on my feet. Where to?

You already do some things. Think of these as twiglets. How, and in which directions, can you help them grow?

We who are passive need not worry quite yet about "just doing it." First, we must learn to "just want it."  - Anneli Rufus - See more at: http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/anneli-rufus/are-you-playing-dead#sthash.DblDmCdo.dpuf

Often in trying to improve ourselves we forget to consider all the variables, including the past and any issues we may have because of it. I know for myself personally, it is significantly easier to play dead and eat my feelings then to deal with the issues and challenges I am carrying due to past struggles and experiences.

Living is the new bottom line! Playing dead is no longer an option. "You should always expect the things that you accept." ~ Tyrese Gibson









Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014

Happy 2014!On the first morning of the new year I was feeling pretty down about the whole 'time' thing and how fast it goes and realizing that 2014 is a major milestone year for me, it really put into perspective how ... the last 10 years were (not sure what right word is, but you can pick any of the following to insert into that blank: ridiculous, busy, depressed, amazing, eventful,  wasted, life-changing etc.). Pretty much everything that can happen in a person's life that one would consider a major life change happened. Went to school, did not finish school, had some real hard challenges relationship wise, loved ones passed, we moved about a million times, we got married and had two wonderful kids (who also happen to be the biggest and most challenging  thing is my life to date), worked hard and challenging jobs, gained weight, lost weight and gained it again. Dealt with a lot of judgement and guilt both from myself and others. 

All in all, that morning I felt like I had wasted my 20s. Not as far as family and friends, I fixed a lot of family relationships and made wonderful friends, my marriage is amazing and my kids although a challenge are such a blessing. I feel like I wasted 10 years of personal growth, like I never learned from my mistakes (and I made plenty). I felt the greater part of my 20s like I was out of control with my body, my eating, my temper, my emotions. I also feel like I did very little of what I actually want to do. And while 'time' always did play a part in it, it is mostly laziness and my own inhibitions holding me back from doing things that I imagine myself doing when I think of what a perfect day would be. This 'perfect day' has changed over time, and I am still working on that. I realize it's probably never going to happen unless they add at least 12 hours to a day, but one can dream. These are the things that I want to change. I never have wanted to watch shows on my computer for hours just to procrastinate things that ought to get done or things I want to do for myself, but sitting on the couch is always easier, living vicariously through the exciting lives of the show's characters.

I stopped blogging for the greater part of 2013, because of some sharp criticism that really stung, but this process helped me a lot in dealing with the challenges life presented to me, so I want to get back to writing. I have tried writing a journal, but in hindsight my entries always seem so silly, and then I feel like just tossing the whole book, it's perfect pages soiled with my non-sense. I really like this virtual medium of writing, I can't count how often I looked back at previous entries to remember a detail of my life. As the kids get older it's less about parenting, or perhaps just different parenting challenges. The most important part of my life and most important mission is still to be a parent and this is not going to change for a long time. But there's more to me then 'Mommy', and it's time to be me again, too. I feel like I haven't lived for the last 10 years. My 30s will be different.

I am reading a really interesting book right now. Interesting not only for the contents of the book, but the author as well. Tyrese Gibson is a singer and actor who starred in the Fast and Furious franchise and grew up in the getto. His life story is inspiring, and how he overcame the challenges he overcame. The book is called How to get out of your own way. A lot of books focus on changes to make and the how to...lose weight, get organized etc., but few focus on changing your outlook in life.

On that note, I am not afraid of turning 30, or loathe it. I am looking forward to it. I know these next 10 years will be great! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Daughters and body image


Juliana has picked up on the fact that I am a bit larger then a lot of other Mommies and sometimes we will talk about exercise and eating healthy food and avoiding junk food and she asks me why. I tell her Mommy needs to do those things to be healthier so I can live a long happy life with her and our family, because I didn't always make such good choices. The other day she told me her legs were fat 
so we talked about body composition and how everyone needs some fat on their body some people have more then others and feel good this way or that. I told her that her body is great the way it is and that it's a strong body that she can do so many things with, biking, roller blading, catching bugs etc etc. These are tough conversations because you don't want to say anything you'll regret or will be taken the wrong way. I maybe an interesting specimen, because even though I am overweight, I don't have any feelings of hate towards my body at all. I'm not 100% happy about all of it, but I do not hate my 'shell', because I know it is of my own doing. While I don't want my daughter to think of her body in a negative way, I do want her to understand that taking care of it is important. This post was inspired by the following artice, which has some great advice.

 Happy Summer everyone :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Made the Jump






As you may or may not know, I made the Jump 8 weeks ago. I am following a program with reasonable expectations, putting in hard work, many hours and eating well for the most part. I have waited this long to blog about this because I did not want this to be another choke of my engine. My engine is already running and smoothly so. I am already 2  months into a very long road trip that is likely going to take the rest of my life, and I'm not stopping any time soon. I am following Jamie Eason's Livefit trainer on Bodybuilding.com.

You might think 'bodybuilding.com, isn't that a bit over the top? You just need to lose weight.' True and False. I do need to lose weight, but the truth about losing weight is that it is a very delicate balance, a scientific equation, a marathon. In order to actually get healthy you not only need to lose weight, because unless you work to maintain (or build) muscle, you are ultimately losing it along with the fat and turn into a skinny fat person. When I was in my late teens and when I met Mike I was in the best shape of my life and I was working to build muscle. I wasn't as aware about nutrition, but I worked hard and it was a passion. I still have that bug and I really enjoy working out. I also think that I am one of those people who needs it physically and mentally - the sweating, the endurance training, the satisfaction of doing something good for yourself and beating your own personal best. I do have something to prove, but it is not to any of you. It is to myself.

What surprised me about bodybuilding.com is the community. Like so many weight loss pages it has a facebook-style community with pictures, you can make posts and compile photos and inspirations and you can befriend people. I expected to be snubbed at the very least for starting out over 240 lbs, 35%+ bodyfat and completely unfit. But what happened after I signed up really amazed me - people started to 'friend me' fit people, very fit, strong, beautiful people. They were cheering for me, following my progress. I did not expect this on this page. Yes they all started somewhere, but most probably did not start out obese. It didn't seem to matter where they started, they applauded me for being there and being at the gym and eating right. It's a beautiful thing. I realized that the kind of people that judge are not the ones who are doing it and doing it well, it's the ones that are 'trying' to do it and see you doing it. I have encountered the same thing at the gym. The ones that are there working hard, doing their workout to better themselves, they are those who encourage the other type are those who feel the need to look good doing it and spend half their time chatting it up, those are the ones who will give you dirty looks. I don't care. Just saying, because actually I find it amusing. I just go and do my thing, knowing I am doing right by me and that I am making progress little by little, day by day. How long it takes doesn't matter anymore. I'm doing it.

Here's some photos: Starting out 111kg, 244 lbs



Week 4 - 108 kg, 138 lbs

 Week 6 - 106 kg, 233 lbs

My current weight is 105 kg or 231 lbs. I have gained a lot of muscle as well, my body fat percentage went from over 35% to 33%. Weight isn't the holy grail, but it is a measure.



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Parenting

I have just about had it with people vilifying my daughter and judging me because she has a few tantrums and is headstrong. She's not a pushover, deal with it. She is a little kid and she doesn't just blindly accept something she's told if it doesn't make logical sense to her. For any adult this would be an admirable character trait, but for some reason people expect me to 'parent' this out of her. She learns by doing as so many of us do, she is curious and inquisitive. She makes mistakes. She is a child. Most children are like this. They all have tantrums, they all defy authority at times - it is part of the learning process. It's how they let us know that they need more independence, even if they aren't always ready for it. They push our and their own boundaries, like doing something stupid and getting hurt, to learn how far they can go and what is acceptable. She needs unconditional love and support so that she can learn and grow up confident in herself. She needs boundaries and consequences, but I don't want the sum of her mistakes to define who she is as a person. She has her entire adult life to experience that once she is beyond our influence.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

On the Road again...

Tomorrow we are off to Whistler, BC for 10 days or so. Looking forward to family, not having to do EVERYTHING, cross country skiing, reading and the atmosphere of the resort town. Don't have a dime to spend, but there's plenty of fun to be had. hoping they have free ice skating in the village, that was so much fun with Juliana last year. I'm looking forward to some alone time be it skiing, walking or just relaxing. The kids are sure to be entertained by Grandma and Grandpa a lot of the time and Juliana will spend some time in ski school. Maybe I even get some time with my husband? To be honest until today I was not at all in the mood to travel. As wonderful as it is, sometimes it's nice to just revel in your regular routine. I am happy with how things are running for the most part. There's little I want for.. maybe a dishwasher, or a chiropractor visit, but not much else. Life is good. Today is going to be super busy, washing, packing etc. Trying to think of everything I need to bring. The usual.

Eating wise, my Birthday and the days following as well as yesterday have left it's toll. I'm up a couple of pounds again, but nothing too crazy. I had friends over and made a tempura/sushi dinner last night and it was delicious. So nice to have friends around to spend time with. I'm hoping that on this trip I will find a good balance of eating healthy, exercising and enjoying some much needed peace and quiet.


Monday, January 21, 2013

A Wonderful Birthday

First off, I want to Thank everyone for making my Birthday as special as it was - one of the best Birthdays I have every had, because of the people in my life, true friends and family. It was a three day extravaganza of celebration... ok, that sounds a bit more grand then it was, but it was a pretty damn sweet weekend!


Friday the 18th, my Birthday - I spent the day with my kids. Juliana had PD day, so there was no school and we did fun stuff. The kids made me gifts, a lovely necklace from Juliana and a bracelet from Jacob. I'd been saving those beads for a day like this to give them something meaningful to do and it payed off. :) They are actually very nice.


My dear husband also surprised me with April tickets to Leonard Cohen and so fulfilling a wish I have had for many years. AND I received delivery of these beautiful flowers! I don't get flowers more then once or twice a year, so this was special :).


 Later on in the day I baked a little cake for my kids to decorate for me and they did a great job.


I spent most of the day shopping for supplies and working in the kitchen in preparation for a Tupperware party I had the evening of my Birthday and I did some pre-cooking for my birthday party on Saturday starting with making chicken stock from scratch which conveniently doubled as supper for my kids. I was sooo excited for my party and I was not disappointed by myself or my wonderful friends. Only one couldn't make it due to being ill, but we had a great crowd none-the-less. 

Saturday: I started right after dropping Juliana off at German school, cooking and chopping :). When I picked her up at noon I crossed my fingers that I would find a good dress to wear for my 1900s themed party at goodwill. I found one I adore :) 


It has a little fringe just under the chest and it's very cute. I enjoyed my evening in this dress, which is what counts. Here's the table decor I set up for the evening. I wanted it to be elegant, just perfectly beautiful. A fine occasion such as only few of us ever get to prepare for ~ A fancy ladies' dinner party. 


It was a "Death by Chocolate" murder mystery party, which not only was great fun, but got everyone talking to each other, because quite a few of my lovely guests didn't know each other. I spent all day cooking and preparing and it totally paid off. The food was great, for the most part, although I have to admit chocolate 'everything' is a matter of taste, but everyone was wonderful about it. :) True Ladies in deed. 
The Menu was this:

Starter 
A Savoury Chocolate Hazelnut Soup with Goat cheese and Arugula
Wine ~ Open Riesling - Gewurztraminer

Main
Thyme Chicken Meatballs with Savoury Chocolate Mole Sauce
Braised Coffee Chocolate Short Ribs
Wine ~ Union Pinot Noir - Cabernet - Merlot

Sides
Piped Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Squash
Romain Salad in a Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette

Dessert 
Red Wine Poached Pear with White Chocolate Sauce
Matcha Opera Cake
Mini Baked Alaska on Black Bean Brownie with Hazelnut Gelato
Wine ~ Henkell Rose Sect (Sparkling Wine)

For recipes visit my Birthday Menu Pinterest Board. I pinned a lot of ideas, so you'll have to find the ones I actually implemented. I had even bigger plans, but I had to scratch a few items from the menu due to labour and time constraints.

Thank you dear friends for coming and making this evening so special. It is wonderful to have friends with whom I can be 100% myself and who know me so well. To attest to this, each and every gift I received I absolutely LOVED. I admire each and every one of you, you all have qualities that I either aspire to or respect as your own unique expression.

Sunday: Thanks to a generous gift from my Mother and Father in law, my friend Ashley and I got up bright and early and drove to Toronto, enjoyed a wonderful, healthy brunch at a mall next to the AGO (Kensington Market?) and then visited the Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera exhibition at the AGO on it's last day. It was super crowded, but the art we saw was wonderful. I have always felt a connection to Khalo, even if her art is sometimes a bit strange. However, that is what made her a pioneer in the art world - she painted from her heart, no according to a style or inspired by another's work. She painted what she felt and her interpretations are deep, meaningful and not always pretty to look at. Symbolism is everywhere, however it is difficult to assign meaning and to begin to understand each piece at an exhibition this large and this crowded, as well when you have a limited time to see it. I am however very glad I went to see it. Not only was art work displayed, but the exhibition had many photographs and information about Frida and Diego's life together. What intrigues me most about Frida Khalo is her personality, her strength and vigor. This can not be separated from her art, she is her art and her art is her. It is a part of her. She is an inspiration for me as far as doing what she feels compelled to do within herself while being a very devoted, loving wife. Few people ever achieve a love so deep in a marriage, although theirs was far from perfect. Another artist who is a force all her own like Khalo is Emily Carr, whom I also admire as an artist - perhaps I will be her for next Halloween :). For now I am inspired, looking through my Frida Khalo book and very soon I will watch the movie of her life again, Frida, because it is a truly grand and honest portrayal. 

Wow, I miss art. 

I can't wait for my next soiree with my friends, which will be dinner and painting. Many of my friends have found solace in paint at one point or another in their life and like me, long to revisit the mollifying effect of applying smooth, gloppy paint onto flawless, fresh canvas like a clear spring morning after a night of rain. Ready for you to make it your own and own it!

Enough of this, I'm getting far to poetic and philosophical. LOL

Thank you all again. 

Love ya!