Monday, 31 March 2014

Dinner for One? Never!

I feel a certain joy when I sit down at a table and see a good meal in front of me. I often wonder if I eat to live or live to eat. Coming from a big European family, meals have always been elaborate feasts that included everything from a simple appetizer to a wonderful dessert. I grew up sitting around the dining room table.
Our table
Photo by Audrey Bresar
Food in its most basic definition is any substance you eat that provides your body with the nutrients in order to survive. A boring definition in my opinion because it is so much more. The smell, taste and appearance of a well plated entree does more than just satisfy your body's need to survive. All these senses mix and dance together to create a sensory experience that triggers happiness and joy. Of course, there are days we are each reduced to stuffing our faces quickly over the sink.  But do these quick meals leave us satiated and content? I find that when I do this I am left feeling nauseous and horrible. Sit me down at a wonderfully set table, and the experience is completely different.

Egg White Omelet with Fresh Fruit
Photo by Audrey Bresar
Raspberry Crepe
Photo by Audrey Bresar
My memories of family get togethers and holidays always involve food. They involve walking into my grandmother's house and smelling that waft of garlic she always used that permeated the air. I can see vivid images of my mom and my uncle hovering above the stove and arguing about who was preparing the meal incorrectly. I see a long table that spanned both the dining room and living room, surrounded by family and friends. The chaotic and craziness of all those meals still echo in my ears. 
Carpaccio with Arugula and Shaved Parmesan in Truffle Oil
French Bean Salad
Photos by Audrey Bresar
In my younger days, the table was filled with laughter and heated discussions. Now, with some loved ones no longer with us, the table still laughs but there is more time spent reminiscing about these lost souls, who still remain alive in our hearts as we cherish their memories.
Seafood Salad
Photo by Audrey Bresar
Food is more than just something that does the body good. It feeds the soul and opens the heart. Those preparing the food pour their love into every stir, every dash and every chop they make. Food is about bringing people together, sharing stories, laughing, crying, creating memories, whether at home or out for an evening. Food is comfort, safety and love.
Homemade Broth
Photo by Audrey Bresar
When I prepare a meal, I look to combine flavours that will make the taste buds dance. I want the meal to encourage discussion around the table. I want my family to feel the love I poured into its creation. 
Gluten Free Cookies
Photo by Audrey Bresar
The kitchen is the heart of the home, for it is here you that you feel the beats and pulses, you feel the blood of our lives course through. The meals prepared here are what feed the soul and keep us thriving.
 
Caught by the Kids and Ready to Cook
Photo by Audrey Bresar
Dining with family and eating with friends reconnects us with what is important. It is the moment where we can forget about the day's insanity and engage in meaningful discourse that rekindles our spirits. Whether it is re-acquainting yourself with your stove or discovering a new bistro down the street, take the time to leave all troubles behind and indulge in a savoury, mouthwatering meal with those that mean the world to you.

Hot Chocolate and Coconut Pineapple Cake
Photo by Audrey Bresar

TALK TO ME!  What are your memories of meals? How do you feel when you are preparing a meal for loved ones?

Monday, 24 March 2014

I Got Mail

The art of letter writing has died off with the age of the computer. 

The part of letter writing I adore, in particular in love letters, is the feeling it helps evoke in the writer.  As the words flow from the mind to the hand, the heart overflows with emotion. One cannot help but feel the acuteness of feeling as this transition from mind to written word happens.

Love letters represent an era of romanticism where to woo and court was the norm.

During times of war the love letter was often the tie that bonded a man stationed overseas with his love at home. These letters, given the distance and circumstances, were often filled with heartfelt emotion. Emotions that were intensified with each letter that was sent or received. The words immortalized on these sheets of paper kept love alive in a time of bleakness and despair.

My love affair with the written word began when letter writing was the way we communicated to loved ones far away. I loved reading the letters my grandmother would receive from Europe, beautifully hand written on onion paper, sealed in an envelop with an exotic stamp and marked "air mail". She would sit at the table in her room and take her time replying back, carefully choosing her words and smiling to herself as she got lost in her thoughts. A image that is forever etched in my memory.

This is perhaps why I love writing so much and still find myself searching for beautiful stationery to pen my letters. It takes what is in my mind and heart and travels through my soul, on to the paper. It is my sincere hope that I convey the ardor of my feelings to my readers. I am completely connected to the words that escape my mind, begging to be scribed in ink for all to see.

Letter writing has not completely disappeared in the 21st century. Other mediums, such as email and texting, still offer the writer an avenue to convey their true feelings. Love is often found online but lacks true sentiment. To write a letter to a loved one takes commitment and time. A text does not involve that same profoundness, although if the few words are thoughtfully chosen, it could be as impactful and leave that same indelible mark on your heart.

When you receive that letter in the mail that was painstakingly written just for you, your heart swells with emotion. You rush to find a spot to sit and drink in the words, slowly.  You smile from ear to ear and your eyes sparkle knowing that someone out there gives a damn.  

And today, when I opened my mail box, I received the most wonderful letter, post marked to me, that made my heart soar.

Talk to me!  I want to know about the last letter you received that made your heart soar.  Do you still write letters to loved ones?

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Reality Bites

This past week was fun filled and action packed. It was a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. A break from the running around and rushing about that seems to occupy every moment of my days.

The kids and I enjoyed a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge with two other families. It was entertaining, despite the craziness of this whole adventure. Watching Thing 1 and Thing 2 run around all day with smiles on their faces was enough to warm my heart. There were no tears, no fighting, no arguments. They had fun. 

I HAD FUN.  

For someone who is terrified of putting her head under water, I let myself be coerced to go down two of the water slides. What a blast! I never laughed so hard in my life, as the rubber raft was catapulted off the launch pad and down the tube. However, as much fun as the slides were, the best part of this water filled weekend was sitting in the hot tub outside, enjoying the view and catching up with two good friends, while their wonderful husbands sat inside and ensured the all kids were ok and no one snagged our tables.

At the end of our weekend, we also had the chance to saunter down to the Falls. I had never seen the Falls in winter and I was blown away. What the cold weather created along the Niagara escarpment was fantastic. And even though the wind and the frigid air beat against our faces, we spent 30 minutes just marvelling at the magnificent, partially frozen view.
Niagara Falls Winter 2014
Photo by Audrey Bresar
The second half of our break was a road trip to Montreal in La Belle Province!  We took the train and I am glad I did. The weather wasn't cooperative, like most of this winter. Driving would have be challenging at best. Looking out the window of our train car, I could barely see a few feet ahead. From inside the train, a blanket of white draped the train and created a cocoon like quality for the travellers inside.  This train ride was fun for the kids and a welcome reprieve for me. I didn't have to drive! Yay!  Instead, I sat back and read my book, CLAIRE AND SERAFIM, getting lost in the words of a wonderful author, Mark Lavorato.

My reason for visiting Montreal was to visit with a dear, old friend of mine who is a new mother. She and I reconnected via social media almost a decade ago and have become bosom buddies. She is my reason and logic when mine disappears. She is also my sounding board. Our visit was nice, slow and fun. We decided to visit the Musee des Beaux Arts. The kids are wonderfully in tune to the world of art and delight in visiting galleries and museums around the world. My son, in particular, is fond of fine art. I love watching his reaction as he discovers the masters and new contemporary artists.  

High tea at the Birk's cafe was next on our to-do list. I love the idea of high tea - a time where friends can meet and converse over canap├ęs and tea. This was completely lost on my son. He just couldn't grasp why people wanted to have HIGH TEA. Even after our explanation of what it meant in years gone by and also offering up that there was LOW TEA too, he just didn't want any part of it. Why did the tea have to steep? Why are there little sandwiches? Can I have a macaron? The questions went on for a while. And even though he complained, I truly believe he will remember this day and appreciate it later in life.

High Tea at Birk's Cafe
Photo by Audrey Bresar
YUMMY!
Photo by Audrey Bresar
BUT the most entertaining part of the week for my kids was the train ride home and the possibility of being kicked off the train.  In my mind, my return tickets were for SUNDAY.  I boarded the train, suitcase in hand, kids in tow and book ready to be completed on SATURDAY. As the train pulled away from the station, we made our way to our seats, only to find they were occupied. The customer service manager came over and indicated that this was "noooooo problem".  The kids looked worried. I wasn't too worried, we were headed west and that was the direction we needed to go. Long story short, this error cost me three additional one way tickets.  Apparently, the rail system doesn't do credits...so I am out another $250 BUT, as my kids put it, they have a story to tell.

This is what happens when momma is overwhelmed.  I could have sworn I said "Return for Saturday please" when booking.

All the fun things we did and THIS is what they are sharing with their friends. "Mom made a mistake and we got on the right train on the wrong day and had to buy new tickets. We almost got kicked off".

Yup. I spent hundreds of dollars this week trying to entertain them and escape when all I had to do is buy a train ticket and get on the wrong train to make this memorable.

And so I am back and the craziness begins with a vengeance. I can't squeeze everything into 24 hours so I will have to re-prioritize.  So what comes off the list first so I don't end up on the wrong train again? I am not going to sweat the small stuff anymore. But the truth is reality bites, and I want to be on that train going anywhere again, ticket or no ticket.

Talk to me!  Have you ever been so tired that you overlooked the simplest thing?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

It's 7a.m. I'm Done.

BEEP…BEEP…BEEP….
I really hate the sound of my alarm clock. It pulls me out of my blissful slumber and catapults me into, what has become, a god-awful stressful morning.

You would think working from home would allow me the luxury of time but in fact it is the absence of time constraints that make me rush around like a mad woman.

Here are the top five things that make my morning stressful:

1. The Snooze Button – I used to think that this was the best part of the alarm. Not so much anymore. This 10 minute reprieve given by clock engineers around the world has made my life hell. I have discovered that in 10 minutes I can fall back into a full slumber. I have also discovered that while searching for things in the dark is virtually impossible, I am able to locate the snooze button, with back turned in a dark room, with one hand – bulls eye EVERY SINGLE TIME! And by every time, I mean 4 times after my original alarm. Which means, I AM ALWAYS IN A RUSH.

2. Thing 1 and Thing 2 – How long do I have to call them for them to wake up? Apparently, until I lose my shit and scream like a mad woman. Of course this wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t overslept to begin with, right? All I know is that they move slower than molasses in a polar vortex, oozing themselves out of bed one cell at a time. And speaking of polar vortexes…

3. The Polar Vortex – Okay, this winter has been one for the books. The weather has been incredibly cold everywhere. Ensuring that both Thing #1 and Thing #2 are properly protected is an ongoing battle. Hats go missing, gloves are lost, extra sweaters are left behind and winter boots forgotten at school. I have come to the point where I tell them it is their problem After all, I don’t have to go outside.

4. One bathroom – Oh the joys of condo dwelling! Yes. One bathroom, three people. Any way you do this math, it will come up with an impossible answer. Especially when you add in what time we need to be out of the house! Mornings are spent refereeing – “I got here first!”, “Hurry up, I gotta pee!”, “Unlock the door, NOW!” That last is ALWAYS me.

5. My dog – I love her dearly, truly I do. I have a place in the laundry room where I have lovingly placed a pad for her to use when the “need” hits. Every morning without fail, she gets up when my feet hit the floor and goes to the laundry room. And every morning without fail, she pees BESIDE the pad. Of course, I don’ t notice this until I am done with lunches and breakfast and the million other things I have to do and it has spread all over the floor. I should have invested in antibacterial wipes when I brought the dog home. My kids think it is hilarious at how many times I wash the floor because, as luck would have it, she tends to walk through it and leave footprints all over my hardwood floor.

I am looking forward to my upcoming vacation, when the dog stays with grandma and the kids can wake at their own leisure. Where alarm clocks don’t exist and I can sleep until the sun wakes me. Where the cold won’t bother me because I won’t have to go outside.

Talk to me! I would love to know what the "craziness" in your morning routine is and how you cope...share please!  Am I the only mad woman out there??

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Goddess

For years he had carried around the feeling within his heart, his very soul, of the goddess of his inspiration. She kept him awake at night, trembling with excitement, drove him to dig deep and search his feelings. Athena.

And yet she had no face. Not yet. No physical outline to encapsulate all her potential. His Athena waiting to emerge in flesh and blood. And now, surrounded by bright light, she ascended from the confines of his mind.


The mystical muse, created solely in his mind, was born. Rubbing his eyes, he tried to make sense of what was before him. Dusk had fallen and the change in light played tricks with his eyes. But this was no trick.There she stood, donned in a sheath like fabric that appeared to float around her. She was strength. She was courage. She was light. Today, at this moment, she now had a face and he knew it was she.

Athena, as he had named her, carried him through the good and the bad in his life. Darkness seemed less frightening with her in his mind. Pain diminished. The cacophonous sound of laughter abounded. Her very existence in his mind allowed for creativity to flourish and he felt invincible.

He had to get closer. He had to see her eyes, to see if her soul held all that he had imagined. Taking a step forward, he stopped and hesitated. His heart pounded vehemently in his ears, his hands shook. Would the reality be as wonderful as the dream he had shrouded himself in for years?

As he stood there and watched from afar, he was beholden to her, but which her? The fantasy that existed for years within the dark recesses of his mind that fed his creativity or the woman that stood before him, smiling out at nothing, as though she held a secret no one else knew? 

These were all questions that jumped from his psyche and the answers eluded him. Her physical proximity excised her from his subconscious and he was confronted with a decision without her guidance from within.

Athena. His Athena. His inspiration and muse.

Released from his paralyzing fear, he took a few steps forward, looked straight into her eyes and said, “Hello”.

Talk to me! Are you someone's muse? Have you found your muse?