Saturday, March 31, 2012

Delicious Wheat-Free Buckwheat Pancakes

I have been challenged to live wheat-free for a while by a book entitled Wheat Belly, which claims that many people develop diabetes and gain excessive weight because wheat consumption has increased dramatically over the past 30 years.

More specifically, the book blames hybridized and genetically altered wheat that has been developing in the past half century for the increase in digestive problems (such as Celiac Disease). The subtitle of the book is: "Lose the wheat, lose the weight and find your path back to health"... so I'm giving it a try.

I have, however, decided to simply stop consuming wheat... and not to modify my eating habits in any other way. (The book encourages the use of non-sugar sweeteners and ground flax seed, but - as neither agree with me - the only diet modification I am planning is to simply eliminate wheat.)

One of the hardest meals (for me) to be wheat-free is breakfast, as I usually have a piece of toast and jam. But I discovered that buckwheat is not really a wheat, so I looked online for a simple buckwheat pancake recipe that uses only buckwheat... And I found a delicious one! (It is apparently from the back of a package of Hodgson Mill Buckwheat Flour.)

(I bought my buckwheat flour at a local organic grocer.)

Here is the recipe for Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes. It's really easy!

1. Blend dry ingredients:
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
2. Blend together liquid ingredients:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk (I used half sour and half regular, as I wanted . to use up some sour milk I had on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (I used olive oil)

3. Mix the dry ingredients and liquid ingredients together by hand.

4. Fry in a lightly greased frying pan. Note: Make sure the frying pan / griddle is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on it. Lightly grease with olive oil. Use approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Do not try to flip the pancakes too early. (Wait until they start to smell done!)

5. I ate mine with a little apricot jam. Delicious!!

A few days later... After a week of wheat-free living, with no noticeable changes in my weight or my blood sugar (though my carb craving diminished) I decided to abandon the attempt! But I think it is a good idea to eat a variety of grains and grain-substitutes - like buckwheat.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Enjoying Sketching

My art course has been a lot of fun.

It has encouraged me to try sketching on my own again as well...

... as I did one Saturday recently...

I was trying to replicate the texture of two half coconut shells...

...and a necklace my mother made by stringing together apple seeds!

That necklace itself is a work of patience...

... and delicate beauty! (Yes, each "bead" is an apple seed!)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Saying Good-bye To An Important Part of My Life

This week I am saying good-bye to an important part of my life: The Curves location I have faithfully attended three times a week - for the past 6 years. It is closing, and I'll miss it!

I credit this 30-minute workout with helping me develop muscle strength... It's always nice when one of your kids hugs you, then comments - Mom!!... I can feel your muscles!

But in practical terms, I appreciate not putting my back out every time I try to lift something heavy (like grocery bags) or do something strenuous that my body isn't accustomed to (like raking).

On the positive side, I have found a new Curves location, a few miles farther from home - but close to where my mother lives. So I won't have to give up my exercise routine! It's too important for that.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My (Failed?) Hellebore Experiment

I wanted to add several hellebore plants to my garden, as they bloom in early spring - just when I appreciate flowers the most!

Last year I bought three and planted each in a different part of the yard, to see which location was best. I was told they needed a sheltered location, not in direct sunlight and away from potential winds.

The only one that has bloomed this year is the one in the front garden bed...

... though it doesn't look all that strong! (Have the squirrels been nibbling?!)

I planted another under these pine trees in a very sheltered location. It has no flower buds.

I planted the third in the sunniest part of the yard, a place where there are strong winds in winter (when the plant is covered with snow)...

It also hasn't bloomed!

I was recently told by a flower expert that hellebores do not grow in our climate zone. They do better in Toronto, which is a zone warmer... (So, if these don't make it, I won't bother trying again.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My "New Favorite" Ottawa Burger

A week ago, Terry and I wandered past a recently-opened Ottawa burger place, in Hintonburg, an old Ottawa neighborhood...

The Hintonburger is a success story, of sorts...

Originally a burger "shack," they did so well selling organic beef hamburgers that they moved into a "real" restaurant...

... a 35 year old building that was originally a KFC establishment.

It's not very big, but business was steady. (I had to watch for strategic moments to take pictures without photographing patrons.)

Their milkshakes taste "real" ... the way I remember milkshakes tasting when I was a child! Another example of a small business succeeding because they focus on being GOOD!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Canada's Oldest Logo?

Among my mother's possessions is an old wool blanket that I remember from my childhood. I'd guess it's 50 or 60 years old.

Made in Canada by the Mohawk Company...

... it is beginning to show signs of wear.

The distinctive stripes on the blanket are the symbol of The Hudson's Bay Company - Canada's oldest business, still in existence - though it's now called the Bay.....

Originally a British fur-trading company established in 1670, long before Canada was a country, the Bay still thrives as a department store.

(The crest on the gift card package above dates back to the company's fur-trading days.)

The stripes on the blanket are a kind of "logo - that is still in use today. I'm not sure when (or why) a fourth stripe was later added. The striped blankets began to be traded and sold around the year 1800.

The HBC website gives a brief history of the blankets, and this article in Wikipedia has an photograph of a pile of blankets with three stripes.)

The online photograph in the Wikipedia article also shows blankets in red and green. My mother has a green one too.

Recently walking through the Bay in Ottawa, I noticed the Bay stripes on umbrellas and other products as well. It made me wonder: Who created this old - but still very modern - logo?! I wonder if anyone knows...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Leading in Weakness

I have again stumbled upon a concept I'm trying to understand...

I found it in Joan Chittister's book, The Rule of Benedict, a book I am slowly trying to "digest". ("Reading" doesn't aptly describe my slow progress and my reflection of its words!)

The author is writing about leadership, commenting on the Rule of Benedict (written 1500 years ago), where Benedict writes that monastic leaders... "must always remember what they are and what they are called, aware that more will be expected of one to whom more has been entrusted. They must know what a difficult and demanding burden they have undertaken: directing..., serving..., coaxing, reproving, and encouraging... as appropriate... They must... accommodate and adapt themselves to each one's character and intelligence..."

She is focusing on the thought that leaders must "remember what they are..."

She writes that parents and teachers - and leaders (in any context) - are to "keep clearly in mind their own weak souls and dark minds... when they touch the souls and minds and hearts of others."

Leading in humility. Trying to be wise... constantly remembering that we, too, are imperfect - remembering also that each person we are leading is imperfect - and different - as we try to accommodate and adapt ourselves and our expectations.

Thinking of my role as a parent (the only "leadership" role I currently have) ... Does this mean that there are no hard or fast rules, but simply principles that need to be adapted to each person's character and intelligence because we are all different? Making and following rules inflexibly is so much easier!

(But isn't God exactly a "parent" like that?! No two of us have lives that are exactly the same! We don't serve a "cookie-cutter" God!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ducks In Our Neighborhood... Again!

We have lived in this neighborhood for over 30 years... but until last year, I have never seen ducks wandering here. Two rivers intersect in Ottawa (the Ottawa River and the Rideau River), but both are several kilometers away.

So it was with some surprise that I saw ducks in our neighborhood last year, not once... but twice! But when the water in the ditches had evaporated, they disappeared, too!

Well, it may only be March... But they're back!

Terry and I saw them enjoying water in the ditches again.

I wonder if they are the same pair... Perhaps members of their extended family?! Have they come back north early? Or do they live here all winter long?!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Finding Inspiration

I once read that a student's study space should be inspirational. There should be a "good feeling" about it - one that bolsters confidence. The book suggested surrounding the desk with inspirational quotes, pictures of favorite things and people, as well as awards and other reminders of past success.

At the time, I was teaching.

The desk in my study (where I could close the door and not hear the TV) was my haven where I spent evenings preparing lessons and grading papers. It definitely needed to become a "feel good" place... After a full day's work, who wants to spend evenings at a desk?

My metal filing cabinet became my magnetic "bulletin board" for pictures and inspirational quotes.

Here is a paper I've had up for so many years that the writing is faded. One of the quotes on it was by Emerson: Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.

I don't remember what fear led me to that quote! But I read it time and time again. Another helped me step back and gain perspective on my busy life:

Go forth into the world in peace.
Be of good courage.
Render no man evil for evil.
Strengthen the faint-hearted.
Support the weak.
Help the afflicted.
Honor all men.
Love and serve the Lord your God,
Rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

When you're busy, perspective is what you really need!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Suddenly Summer... in March!

Several days ago, our weather took an abrupt turn towards summer. (Temperatures jumped to mid-20s Celsius, mid-70s Fahrenheit.) Suddenly I found myself hunting for summer clothes to wear... and leaving my coat, gloves and boots at home.

It has been a real treat!

Suddenly outdoor cafes are doing a booming business.

Terry laughed when he saw this sign outside one pub patio:

Husband Day Care Centre
  • Need time to relax?
  • Need time to yourself?
  • Want to go shopping?

Leave your husband with us. We look after him for you. You only pay for his food and drinks.

There is no way of knowing how long this summery weather will last. (I mean, it's only March!)

Don't put away your boots yet! People tell each other in cautious Canadian style: We could get another snow storm yet!

Personally, I prefer to think - and hope - that summer is here to stay!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Season of AWESOME!

One of the blogs I read regularly is called 1000 AWESOME things. (The blog author - from Toronto - has almost finished his countdown. I wonder what his next challenge will be!)

The word AWESOME! has been on my mind a lot these warm March days - with a hint of spring in the air. Spring truly is my SEASON OF AWESOME!

AWESOME! because ...

  • I can walk outdoors without wearing a coat and hat!

  • the snow and ice (on the river) are steadily disappearing!

  • green growth is pushing out of the ground!

  • we can sleep - and drive - with windows open again!
  • I hear birds chirping outdoors!

  • Canada geese are returning (a sign that spring is here)!

  • evenings sometimes bring rain storms (with lightning) - not snow storms!

After months of winter weather, spring is truly AWESOME!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Tourist" in My Town

Craving variety, I have recently begun perusing the weekly Our Town page in the newspaper - a list of events currently taking place...

I noticed a free choral performance of Gregorian Chant at a Dominican College I had never visited...

So of course I had to go! (I didn't take any pictures during the performance.)

Afterwards Terry and I wandered around the neighborhood - near where I used to work - and discovered streets (and passageways) I didn't know existed!

...Like these stairs that lead downtown!

I felt as if I were in a new place... Wandering around this old neighborhood I didn't know existed, I felt like a tourist in my own town!