A Few Things I am Learning

The life of a writer is an interesting one. It is a lot of work to write a book, but it’s the kind of work that we love. Spinning words together to create a great story. That is fun work and solitude work. Some non-writers question the amount of time writers spend alone. We need this time to be with the words that may or may not be read. We write because we have a story we would like to share.

Now that I have finished my book, I’m now on the self-publishing journey. I honestly have no-idea what I am doing except for following steps from good friends who are self-publishing. Then just when they share they may have cracked the Algorithm code on how to successful make it to top ten list on Amazon, the rules change within a blink of an eye. I’m looking forward to being part of this adventurous journey.

A few things I’ve been doing as I venture into the self-publishing world:
  • The last few weeks I have been working with my editor. It has been a good experience. I had to sit my butt down and really work. The book is not going to write it self and for that matter of fact, it is not going to edit itself either.
  • I have been stingy with my time lately. Any free time I have after I am done working eight or sometimes longer at the hotel life, I am in my writing room. I knew my editor had questions for me and I’m paying her to help me shape my book. She has a time-line and so do I. Why would I not be stingy with my time? If you want something to work, you have to work for it.
  • Self-care. I’ve spent hours in my writing room and sitting for most of the time. The body needs to stretch and move. I have to make sure I’m getting up from the chair every hour, or at least shift my body in my chair (which is one of the oldest office chairs that has a cracked seat and squeaks when I roll around – and I love it!) I go for walks and I spend about an hour in the gym six days a week. I sit on the sofa and talk with my husband while drinking beer. These things may seem small, but they help me relax and help me with not getting to antsy in my writing chair.
Things I am learning:
  • Last week I made a change to my book cover and I wanted to make sure I was very focused and clear on the changes. It cost money to have a book cover created. I paid for the final design, then I shared the cover with a group of people and the feedback I got was heartbreaking. Okay it wasn’t that bad, the comments were truthful and made sense to me. I asked my book designer if she could make the changes and what the cost would be. She didn’t charge me full price which I am very grateful for. I learned I need to lean on my writing support groups before I submit the payment. Check out my cover here ~ Thank you.

  • Self-care, part 2, sleep: I am passionate about my writing life and when you do something you love, you’ll never “work” another day in your life. I love the little things that need to be done when you’re getting ready to self-publish, it can be stressful, especially for anyone new to the process. I know I shared my self-care tips for me, but I have to remember that if I am feeling stressed that I need to take more time for myself and that usually means the body, mind and spirit needs more rest. If I get eight hours of sleep I feel well rested and ready for the next eight hours in my writing room.
  • Trust my self. I have to trust that I am on the right path.

What tips and tricks have your learned during your writing practice or self-publishing journeys?

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

True to Tofu

Toe-what? I thought the first time I heard about tofu. Coming from a meat and potatoes family, my knowledge of vegetables was a side dish for our traditional turkey dinners. When I met my first vegetarian friends this was when I first heard about a tofurkey. Excuse me? Was exactly what I said when one of her other friends were making fun of my friend’s meatless lifestyle choice. I learned it was a meat(less)loaf form made with tofu. Years later I can say I’ve had tofurkey and made correctly it does taste like turkey. Amazing what you can do with food.

Tofu is also known as bean curd,  it is a food cultivated by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is a component in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Tofu can be soft, firm, or extra firm. Tofu has a subtle flavor and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish. ~ Thank you, Wikipedia.

There is always a package of smoked tofu in our refrigerator. It is one of our favorite proteins we use in many of our plant-based recipes. We currently can’t get enough of this amazing Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles

We substitute the soba noodles with Wun-Tun noodles and add grilled smoked tofu for a little extra kick. I make the full recipe and there is always enough for leftovers. I hope you enjoy!

Until Tomorrow, Keep On Typing…

Swimming up Stream

Growing up in Nova Scotia, you would think I would be a custom to seafood. Ironically, my mother didn’t like fish, so we were limited to the seafood that came across our plates. When I moved out West over twenty years ago I was pleased to be able to buy salmon and cook it for myself. When my mothers ask what I am making for dinner and I share a BBQ Salmon I can see her nose curl up. The funny thing is I do the same thing about eggs. I guess we all have our hang-ups with certain foods.

There are so many varieties of Salmon: Sockeye, Chum, Chinook, Coho, Pink, and my personal favorite, being from the East Coast, the Atlantic Salmon. Now that I live in BC, I am surrounded by over five types of salmon and salmon fishing is a big business on the West Coast. Our dining room in the hotel I work for offers a pink salmon entrée and every time someone orders the dish, a dollar is donated to the Pacific Salmon Foundation. This non-profit foundation is dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon and their natural habitats in British Columbia and the Yukon.

My husband and I are dedicated to a plant-based menu but we do eat seafood from time to time. Both of us being from the East Coast enjoy Salmon and we have married a vegetarian fried rice dish with baked salmon. We put the salmon in a tin-foil pocket with butter, dill, and lemon. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-15 minutes depending on the size)

Thug Kitchen Five-spice Fried Rice:

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into dice-sized cubes
2 tsp grapeseed, sesame or avocado oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Sriracha or chili paste
4 cups cooked short grain rice
1 cup bitter greens, chopped ( we use spinach )
1/2 cup sliced green onions (optional)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
  2. Add the sweet potato and two tbsp of water and stir-fry, stirring often, for about 5-8 minutes until the potato is tender and starting to brown.  Add more water if the potato starts to stick.
  3.  Add yellow onion and carrot and continue to stir-fry for another 3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  4.  Add the 5-spice powder and garlic and stir-fry for 1-2 more minutes.  Remove all vegetables from the pan, cover and set aside.
  5.  Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Sriracha in a small bowl. (Sometimes we double the amount – it’s really good!)
  6. Heat the remaining oil in the wok over medium heat.
  7.  Add the cooked rice and stir-fry until warm, approximately 5 minutes.
  8.  Add the sauce mix and the vegetables, plus the peas to the rice and mix well.
  9.  Stir-fry for another 1-3 minutes.
  10.  Fold in bitter greens and green onions
  11. Top with baked salmon.

Serve and enjoy!

Until Next Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

Nuts On The Brain

Did you know that nuts are a great source of healthy fats in any diet? Nuts provide protein and minerals even brain power. Why do you think the walnut looks like a mini brain? The omega-3 in a walnut is great for memory and focus, they also help boost moods and aid to digestion. They also make a great pie crust when mixed with dates and other raw ingredients.

I am allergic to peanuts which are part of the legume family and not part of the tree nut family. You can be allergic to peanuts but not tree nuts and vise versa and/or both. When I developed my peanut allergy I missed the peanut butter cup the most, but now I can make my own with almond butter – yum!

As my husband and I venture into the plant-based meals, we have a variety of cookbooks that have helped us with some great tasting vegan recipes. One recipe book that was given to me before we started our journey of plant-based meals, was Oh She Glows and Angela has made vegan/raw food that much easier to prepare and enjoy. I hope you enjoy these Raw Almost Butter Cups as much as we do!

Until tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

 

 

When You’ve Got Lemons ~ Bake a Pie!

I am grateful for how many wonderful ways this little yellow citrus fruit has so many benefits. I start every morning with a cup of hot water and lemon as I write my morning pages. The hot water and lemon help with many different ailments:

  1. Aids to digestion
  2. Flushes out toxins
  3. Boots immune system
  4. Clears skin
  5. Hydrates Your Lymph System
  6. And so many more benefits!

Though the lemon is great for our health there is one other great use of a lemon. Making pies! I would have to say that lemon pie is my top three favorite pies (Blueberry and strawberry/rhubarb right up there as well).

My mother would make lemon pie and I just wanted the lemon filling and pie crust. I would take the meringue off (beaten eggs on top, no thank-you!) I am sure this pie recipe was a staple in most households in North American: Shirriff’s Lemon Pie, the blue box with the slice of lemon on front. I have a box of it in my cupboard now just in case we need to contribute to a potluck. If you haven’t had this pie before, I highly recommend you treat yourself. Enjoy!

What is your favorite lemon recipe? How do you use lemons during your day-to-day routines?

Until tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

A Recipe to Share – Thai Spaghetti Squash Noodles

I love to write and I love to cook. My social media pages tend to be filled with either writing quotes or pictures of what we are cooking. I thought I would share a few of our favourite recipes (Caution: plant-based recipes because veggies are good for you).

We recently made our first recipe from the Eat Better, Live Better, Feel Better, alkaline recipe book by Julie Cove. Thai Spaghetti Squash Noodles with Sweet Chili sauce.

The Noodles:

• 1 large spaghetti squash
• 1 Tbsp. coconut oil (I used light tasting olive oil)
• ¼ cup sliced yellow onion (I used a sweet onion)
• 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh lemongrass (we used lemon zest because I forgot to but the lemongrass)
• 1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
• 1 Tbsp. finely chopped ginger
• ½ cup julienned scrubbed carrot
• ½ cup julienned, scrubbed daikon radish
• ½ cup julienned red bell pepper (we used about a cup because we love red peppers.
• ½ cup julienned, scrubbed zucchini
• 1 Tbsp. Bragg liquid aminos (I used soy sauce = 2 tbsp to the 1 tbsp)
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 5 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
• 3 Tbsp. sliced fresh mint (we didn’t use this, my partner is not a fan of mind, fair enough)
• 3 Tbsp. of sliced basil
• 3 Tbsp. of finely chopped green onions (didn’t use, we don’t care for green onions, purely a taste thing for us)
• Juice from ½ lime
• Hemp heart for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (I used our glass Pyrex dish, no parchment needed)


• Halve the squash lengthwise and place it, cut side down, on the baking sheet, (Do not add water or the squash will be too soft.) Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until fork-tender and the “spaghetti” strings pull freely from the skin. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
• Heat the oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onion, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in the carrot, daikon, bell pepper and zucchini for 1 -2 minutes. Season with Bragg (soy sauce) and salt. Remove from the heat, then add the cilantro, mint, basil, green onion, and lime juice and toss well to combine.
• Using a fork, loosen the strands of spaghetti squash from the skin by dragging it lengthwise with the stands. Divide the squash among 6 plates into nice heaps. Discard the skins. Pike the Thai-spiced veggie noodles over the squash and serve with sweet chili sauce on the side. Garnish with hemp hearts.

Sweet Chili Sauce: (It does take time to make I recommend getting a glass of wine)

• ¾ cup filtered alkaline water (we have a Brita, I took that as okay to use)
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 4 drops of stevia (Sorry can’t do Stevia – we used white sugar about a teaspoon for 2 to 4 drops)
• 1 Tbsp. tapioca starch (flour if you don’t have any)
• 1 tsp coconut oil (we used light tasting olive oil)
• ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
• 2 garlic cloves finely minced
• ½ cup finely minced red bell pepper
• ½ Thai bird’s-eye chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped (couldn’t find this, but you can use cayenne pepper, about ½ tsp)
• 2 tsp maple syrup (optional) or more stevia – you better believe we used maple syrup

In a glass measuring cup. Whisk together the water, lemon juice, stevia, and tapioca starch until well combined. Set aside. (I used a mason jar and shook it together, great arm work out!)

• Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in garlic, bell pepper, and chilli pepper and sauté for 1 more minute. Whisk the tapioca mixture again and pour it into the pan. Cook, stirring to combine, for 3 – 5 minutes, until the mixture turns from cloudy to clear. Add the salt and maple syrup (if using). Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and pour into a sauceboat. (The sauce will set up as it chills. To thin it, whisk in a drizzle of warm water.)

Enjoy! Please let me know how you made out – did you substitute anything, add something? Please share.

Please sign up for my upcoming Newsletter where you can get Free chapters of my upcoming Memoir; Behind the Kitchen Doors – A Hotel Memoir Series, plus fun recipes like this!

Until Next Time, Keep On Typing. . . .

 

Recipes for writing ~ another type of writing prompt

cookbook

It’s fun and exciting finding random topics to write about these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be back with my adventures of diving in deeper into creativity. These days I’m witnessing how much time I’m spending away from the page and thinking about how I can get back to this place as fast as I can. Sitting down and putting my fingers on the keyborad is the first step. Then I keep on tapping words onto the page, something is bound to happen.

prompt

 

For now I’m drawn to this writing prompt page, there is a reason, it’s only a matter of writing to find out. As I scrolled through the list of writing prompts, I stumbled across another passion of mine. Cooking.

Recipe: Write about a favorite recipe, or create a poem that is a recipe for something abstract, such as a feeling.

Are you ready? Do you want to set the timer? Maybe a sprint writing session is in order to get the creative juices flowing. I’m feeling a bit edgy and need to let go. Why I chose this writing prompt? I love to cook, I love to prepare food for people, I put my love into the food, I am just being right there in the moment. Cooking is another form of creativity and much like writing, once I pick up the knife to smash garlic before I mince it, I am an artists to reckon with.

plant

Lately, my partner and I have been eating planet based meals, mostly for dinners and I usually make a planet based meal for the one night of the week I work a later shift at the hotel. Doing research on vegan/vegetarian meals is pretty easy these days. I found a great website that started us off on the right path, along with Oh She Glow’s cook book I was given three years ago at a secret Santa gift exchange at work. Everything happens for a reason.

chop

We are really enjoying the Farro Salad from Planet Based Cooking.com  I have not cooked with Farro before so I stick with the instructions of two cups of water to one cup of Farro, but I did need to add a little more water to help give the Farro a less al-dante texture.

pot

As the Farro is cooking, I chop the red peppers (I also use yellow pepper for flavour and color). I rinse off the kidney beans and let them stand while I prepare the other veggies we like to use. The recipe calls for Swiss Char, sometimes we use spinach, whatever is in season and available. We like to use avocado instead of yellow or green beans, and adding saute mushrooms is always fun. Instead of raw red onion I sprinkle onion powder on the mushrooms as they cook, I also like to use turmeric for a little extra flavour.

The dressing is also pretty simple:

  • 3 Tbl red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbl fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Once everything is in the bowl, pour the dressing over the salad, mix well and serve. Much like writing there is a process of events to get to the end result. There is something about taking the time to put your loving energy into something that will nourish your body, mind and spirit.

mind

How did your favourite recipe exercise turn out? What is your favourite recipe lately, is there something that triggers your memory or a new story? Cooking brings people together, they talk about food much like they talk about a book, movie or TV series. Creativity is amazing in all forms and mediums.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you thinkwritten for these great writing prompts!

Post Thanksgiving

thanks1

Happy post-thanksgiving my Canadian friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Did you have turkey or ham or both? Did you cook or did you go to a pot luck and someone else made the turkey? Did you have to work and celebrated Thanksgiving dinner on another day? We all have different lives and have to balance our lives to ensure we take time and enjoy the holiday.

The one question that is asked during Thanksgiving is what are you thankful for? The main characters that make the top of the list:

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

 

All these are true for me, I am especially grateful this year because I was fortunate to flying back to Nova Scotia to spend the Thanksgiving weekend and week with my family. There is nothing like coming home during the holidays, there is a real sense of comfort and joy. I am very grateful to have this amazing opportunity to be able to be right here and now.

journal1

I would also like to add, I am grateful for creativity. I am grateful for having this wonderful relationship with my imagination and creativity. There are times where I might wander, but never that far, and when I do take a step away, I know that I can return in a blink of an eye. Grateful.

heart

Optimism is critical to our spiritual health. Is our creative glass half full or half empty? If we are to ‘take heart’ and go on with our work, then we must take our heart seriously. We must listen to its pains and we must bring to it its joys. A heart does not need to be told ‘oh toughen up.’ It needs you  to plan a tiny cheering ceremony and execute it. That done, you will find ‘the heart’ – the courage – to work again and well. ~ Julia Cameron

megaphone

My cheerleader is taking her vitamins and ready to keep on cheering my heart, my passion and creativity knows this. Creativity is right next to my cheerleader chanting, ‘keep writing, you can do it!’ with much intention. For that I am thankful.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

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CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

 

Voice

morning

As you have guessed, I’m a big fan and believer in morning pages. I can’t seem to say enough about how morning pages have changed my life, saved my life, moved me forward and keep me on my toes. There is no hiding in morning pages, I let it all out on the three pages that start my day. The first thing I do when I wake up (after I get my mug of hot water and lemon) is sit in my writing room and put a pen to a blank page and just write.  Lately, my pages are filled with frustrations of something I’ve been working on for my self-care and I seem to be struggling. It frustrates me to no end that I can’t move forward with one commitment and I know I am the only person who can make the changes. I write my truth in my morning pages and writing is so much more than putting words on a page.

land

Writing is a friend whose shoulder we can cry on. Writing is a confidant who listens and lets us sort things out. Writing is a comrade, marching with us through the steep days of sorrow and despair. Writing is our weather and also how we change our weather. Writing is our landscape and how we view the landscape that we have. ~ Julia Cameron

call

What more can we say what writing is? What does writing mean to you? Don’t you just love that image of writing being your friend, having someone sitting with you, cheering you on, like a rowing coach calling out ‘stroke’, writing calls out ‘write,write, write’. Writing is my voice.

music

There is no better way to open a writing voice than to write regularly, repetitively, and from the gut. I write Morning Pages every day. They are like doing scales. They take me up and down my emotions, up and down my life circumstances, up and down my cations and reactions – and they take about twenty minutes. ~ Julia Cameron

journal-writing-2

This is so very true, I am up and down on the page. I can be right to the point, or I will dance around the subject for two pages and finally I give in knowing I can’t hide and knowing I will feel relief if I name the frustration, put it down on the page and let it go, so simple, but so scary all at the same time. I tend to the same here, I write around the very thing I want to share and if I only say what I mean then it would be a lot easier to get to the point. There is no need to skip around the subject, sure we might be afraid of what the reaction maybe, but in the long run it will feel a lot better than hiding in the corner you feel so ever comfortable sitting in, but what to get out of at the same time. Life can be a bit of a double edge sword and writing helps with each side, be it smooth and slick or a jagged edge ripping away at your very soul. Writing will get you past the frustrations and fears. Writing will fill you joy once you get going.

joy

Writing from the body – dropping down into the well of your experience and sounding how you feel – ultimately yields a body of work. We say that a voice is full-bodied without realizing that this is a literal phrase: when we write from our gut rather than from our head we acquire the same resonance that a singer does when the breath comes from the diaphragm rather than the high up in the chest…Writing ca be done the same way. It can be done by listening to how we feel rather than thinking about how we feel.  ~ Julia Cameron

As I write morning pages, I have learned how to listening to how I feel, some days are better than others with this practice and that’s exactly what writing is, practice. The more we write and read we are fine tuning are craft and our whole being. Writing is my true friend.

Until next time, keep on typing….

little-girl-typewriter

 

Clarity

meditation

Lately, I’ve been in the zone with writing, the creativity pumps through my veins and I am aware of the creativity whispering to me more often, and maybe it’s always been nudging me with ideas and possibilities, and now I’m actively listening, I must listen to fulfill my end of he bargain. I must continue to write. I must listen to what I need to do to continue to write clearly. I am taking the steps to live a more clean and clear lifestyle. In the past few days I’ve been drawn back to a book that was shared with me years ago. I started to read it then, but I wasn’t really ready to dive deep into the text. I’ve picked up these book from time to time thinking, feeling it was time to take a closer look at what Dan Wakefield was sharing. Creating from Spirit – A path to creative power in art and life, is another great writing reference book I have on my book shelves, it actually is next to my bed most nights and on my desk when I need a quick jolt of inspiration.

books

 

I would like to share some quotes/pages from Mr. Wakefield’s book and see if any of the notions resonate with you. I love to hear from you all, a sharing in you is a sharing in me.

I’ll start with Chapter 6: Evoking the spirit: The power of clarity.                                      A barrage of distracting and deadening forces from both outside and inside constantly assaults us, in a way that disturbs and even destroys our clarity of mind, body, and soul: the abuse of alcohol or drugs; food….sex, and television. We use these things to numb our senses – and our sense itself.                                                        Don’t worry; I’m not advocating that you give up all these things and become a saint. I wouldn’t know how to tel you to do it, or want to do it myself, even I could! What I want is to provide some clues for taping into your creativity by first clearing yourself of the accumulated debris of substances and practices that clutter and deaden the mind and the senses. 

numb

I find myself noticing that if I do drink alcohol it now instantly numbs my senses. When I was younger I didn’t feel this sensation as easily. Hanging out with friends and having a few drinks was part of the whole social experiment. Now, I get distracted with the way the alcohol makes my body feel, just like when I would eat too much chocolate, I felt my body become lazy which makes my senses laxadaisy and all of a sudden I’ve lost all motivation to do any writing or very much of anything. I witness my thoughts go into guilt mode ‘look at you wasting time drinking and watching TV, you could be writing….” This is more my inner child/cheerleader who is fighting for clarity, and it’s the ego that is leaning towards wasting time because it’s afraid to do anything different. The ego is fearful of success, the success of finishing a book, a script and poem to be shared. The ego thinks too much about the future and unhealthy habits feed that fear and shut down the true self. I’m speaking about myself, we are all different, but for me this is true.

compass

Dan continues: To me, the most powerful key to accessing creativity is clarity. Clarity is the compass that orients you, the lens that focuses, the “sword in the stone.”

rocks

How do we get clarity? What are the steps? That’s up to us. Everyone is different, but I know when I am clear, when my body, mind and spirit is clear of the clutter of toxins I’m much more productive. When I put toxins such as junk food or alcohol into my body my spirit becomes dull, Dan shares spirits kills spirit. And like Dan said, I’m not suggesting to give up anything, and I enjoy a glass of really great wine with dinner or a cold beer on a hot day; but for me I know I’m at my best when I’m living clear and clean. Again the question is how do we gain this clarity?

man-sitting-on-ocean-beach-solitude

Meditation is a great tool, finding your own sacred place, be it a park bench or the park itself, or does sitting by the ocean bring you a sense of clarity? What works for you might not work for me and that’s okay. I meditate and some people can’t even think how to sit still for five minutes at one sitting. I relish in the moments of stillness tat I take for myself, my soul, my spirit. So, how do you gain clarity? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on typing….

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