Spicy Blueberry Mango Salsa In 3 Delicious Ways #BCBlueberries

A summertime family tradition of blueberry picking is a favourite among many B.C. residents – and it’s no wonder since our province is practically bursting with blueberries right now! Foodies all over social media are talking about these sweet balls of antioxidants and asking each other: What’s your favourite way to eat BC blueberries? Today I’m sharing a quick and easy Blueberry Mango Salsa (with a kick!) that is perfect for that summer BBQ. You don’t have to worry about calorie content the way you might with other party foods; BC blueberries are low in calories and high in Vitamins A, C and E. Add a cup of these berries to your diet every day and stave off or treat diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease!

 

BC blueberries, spicy blueberry mango salsa, blueberries, mangoes, fresh summer salsa, healthy eating, wellness

Father’s Day 20 Years Later by Danisha Bhaloo

Father’s Day is a special day for many who are honouring their dads and the father figures in their lives. It can also be a day of complicated feelings and grief.

Today’s guest post is written by my cousin, Danisha Bhaloo, whose father passed away 20 years ago. My mom’s younger brother was funny and generous, and loved to tease his nieces. He also loved his daughters immensely; in fact, the majority of my memories of him include watching him interact with his girls. In one, we are at the wave pool in Calgary and he’s holding onto his oldest who is thrilled to be in her daddy’s arms. In another, he’s watching me rock his younger daughter, a newborn, to sleep, making sure I was holding her right. “Don’t fall asleep in there. She’s supposed to sleep – you stay awake!” It’s heartbreaking that our memories of him are so few.

Danisha’s post will touch you as a parent and a child. It will make you reach for the camera – and for those moments – more often. It will make you think of your loved ones who have passed and search for their faces, their voices, their quirky habits. It will give you an idea of how important time with those we care about truly is.

*****

20 years ago, my dad passed away. My fear every single day is that the few memories I have of him will fade away as time goes on. Before 1997, there weren’t any smartphones that could capture memories of my childhood. I don’t have many hard copy pictures to hold on to of my dad and me. The one thing that has kept his memory alive for me is linked to…wait for it….the Backstreet Boys. Yes, the 90s boy band that reunited over and over throughout the years and are now celebrating their 24th year together.

I know, I know. This probably sounds irrational at first glance. Let me explain. 20 years ago, on April 1, 1997, my dad took me to my first Backstreet Boys concert….actually, my first concert ever. There are no pictures of this night. But there are the sounds, the music, and the lyrics that evoke that memory every time I attend their concert. And since that time, I’ve attended 5 of their concerts…some might argue, to recapture those memories.

A few days ago, on June 15th, 2017, I flew from Edmonton to Las Vegas to see the Backstreet Boys…for the fifth time (just to be clear, I didn’t fly around the world to see them every single time. I’m not crazy.) Being a 30 something female, I’m sure you can imagine the pure authentic joy it is to see your favorite teenage boy band perform live. But for me, attending their concerts means so much more than that. The concert I attended just a few days ago brought up those important memories of my time with my dad. And so it seems fitting, that on Father’s Day and the 20th anniversary of my dad’s passing, I share those memories.

At the age of 8 years old, I was OBSESSED when the Backstreet Boys released their first song. I became one of the millions of girls around the world to fall in love with them. I bought their posters to put on my bedroom wall, their videos presenting the making of each music video (which I faithfully watched every single day for almost a year), and I joined their official fan club.

By the time I was 12 years old, their second album “Backstreet’s Back” hit stores. I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me buy the album. She refused, probably rightly so as she saw my growing obsession with boys. And so I did what any tween girl would do: I kicked and screamed and locked myself in my room in tears.

But I came up with a plan. A very elaborate plan to get my hands on their album, in a way that my mom couldn’t refuse. I went to my dad. I asked him to buy the cassette tape and mail it to me, under the guise of the BSB fan club (which, as mentioned above, I was a member of). It took some convincing, but he eventually agreed. And the morning of my 12th birthday, on March 16th, 1997, I opened the mailbox to find a large envelope from the ‘BSB fan club’ with a copy of their new album to commemorate my birthday. I kept this secret, between my dad and me, for almost 10 years before finally confessing to my mom the truth.

Father's Day, backstreet boys, danisha bhaloo

On April 1, 1997, my dad stood in line for HOURS with my cousin and me to go see the Backstreet Boys perform live at what was the Edmonton Convention Centre (now the Shaw Conference Centre). Still 12 years old, I wasn’t allowed to go by myself, and so he offered to take us. It was my very first concert.  I will never forget holding my dad’s hand as he bought me my very first BSB T-shirt and carrying me on his shoulders so that I could see past the crowd of much taller screaming girls.

6 months and 6 days after that concert, my dad unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack.

3 days ago, I attended the Backstreet Boys concert in Las Vegas. During that whole 2 hour show, all I could think about was the memories of my very first concert with my dad and that cassette tape that he secretly bought me, which I still have today.

Father's Day, Danisha Bhaloo, backstreet boys

It seemed fitting to spend the 20th anniversary of his death attending the concert again, evoking those memories, and sharing them to commemorate my time with my dad.

Happy Father’s Day, dad.

*****

You can meet and tweet Danisha @danishabhaloo – she’s one of the most inspirational women I know!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Prostate Cancer Took A Special Man But It Can Be Detected Early

Once upon a time, there lived a quiet, gentle man. He was kind, loving, hardworking – and a huge Wayne Gretzky fan. He was my mom’s father and her best friend. And he loved his grandchildren with his whole, big heart. I have many fond memories of my grandfather. Lifting my baby cousin in the air and blowing on her belly, making her smile. Buying me my first lipstick. Glued to the TV during an Oilers game. This clicking sound he did with his tongue that meant, ‘no’. His gruff voice. Stubbly chin. His eyes that crinkled when he smiled. I wish I had had many more years with him, but I didn’t, because prostate cancer took his life when he was 77 years old.

prostate cancer, Raymond James Father's Day Walk for Prostate Cancer, cancer, grandfather

What I’ve Learned About Prostate Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men (behind lung cancer).
  • Prostate Cancer afflicts men 45 years of age and older, with the incidence increasing with age. Men with a family history of Prostate Cancer are at increased risk so these examinations and tests should begin at age 40.
  • Prostate Cancer has no known causes or prevention.
  • Detection and treatment in its earliest stages (while it is still small and confined to the prostate) provides the best chance for a complete cure.

I was 12 when he died and, to be honest, I thought he was old. So, although it was really sad and a shock (the cancer was not detected until it was in the late stages), I assumed he had lived a long life. Now I know that 77 is young. I think of what I want to be doing at that age and there’s still a fair bit of life I’d like to live after that. Everyone else he left behind was young, too. Cancer doesn’t just take away the one life, but forever changes the ones left behind. What if my grandpa’s was detected sooner? What if my youngest cousin, who giggled as an infant at his antics, could have collected some actual memories of him? What if his children could have enjoyed their father for many more years? And my grandma could have had his companionship that much longer?

What if there was something men could do to keep on top of their prostate health? And something the rest of us can do to support them? There is! A check-up for the guys once a year starting from the age of 45 should be part of their normal healthcare regime, unless there is also a history of prostate cancer in the family. Then it’s recommended that check-ups start at age 40. From talking to some men in my life, I know that this is not a comfortable topic and there is some fear and discomfort around the actual procedure. But it’s quick and potentially life-saving! So, ladies, if your men are hesitating, remind them why you need them to get checked. This really does affect the whole family.

As another show of support, on Father’s Day, June 18th, the Raymond James Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer is taking place at Burnaby Lake with a start time of 10 am (9:30 for tots!). It promises to be a full, festive day with a free barbeque lunch, prizes, onstage entertainment and more. It really sounds like a great, family-friendly day to celebrate your dad or your husband or your brother. This event is also taking place across B.C. in Victoria, Chilliwack, Kelowna and Kamloops. You can register for the one closest to you!

Prostate cancer, let me out creative, raymond james father's day walk for prostate cancer, cancer, grandpa

Sometimes the ‘what ifs’ are hard to swallow, and sometimes we have to accept that things are meant to happen. But I’m spreading the word just in case this helps another family enjoy decades more love from a very special man in their lives.

For more information, please visit prostatecancerbc.ca.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Lonely Whale Foundation Believes Our Children Will Lead Us Out Of This Mess

Do you consider yourself to be an environmentalist? I did when I was in high school. As vice president of the school environment club, I took my duties seriously, of which collecting syrupy pop cans out of bins to recycle was probably the least glamourous. But I’m not part of an organization now that proactively cares for the earth and educates others about environmental issues. Or am I? After speaking with Dune Ives from Lonely Whale Foundation, I do feel like an empowered individual. I know that I can use my purchasing power to make better choices for my family and for the planet. I know that our children are counting on that. I can also use my voice to shed light on some of these issues. The research I did for this post has me believing that I have a much greater impact on my planet’s well-being than I once thought. And so do you.

Lonely Whale Foundation was co-founded by actor Adrian Grenier and producer Lucy Sumner in 2015 to inspire ocean advocacy and empathy for marine life. Basically, they want you and me to understand the importance of the oceans for life on land, and they want to provide us with the resources to create a positive impact on our environment. I loved this op-ed piece by Adrian that points out exactly what the issues are, why we need to pay attention to them, and how we can get involved. In addition to these individual actions, there are many ways to ‘join the pod’ – from financial donations to easily downloading and sharing social-media memes.

#CatchTheWave School Program

adrian grenier, lonely whale foundation, catch the wave

Something else to consider, though, when we’re looking at long-term solutions to a massive problem: the role of our children. My kids right now are 10, 7 and 3. They appreciate and enjoy nature – they love jumping in the lake and  trampling through the forest. They are also creative and compassionate. They sound like your kids, right? Lonely Whale Foundation knows that it’s my kids and yours who are going to pull us out of this environmental mess through their innate connection with nature, their empathy and their innovation. And right now, in some Canadian schools, a program is being piloted that taps into the greatest resource we have: our children.

The pilot project is called #CatchTheWave and engages elementary and secondary school students to tackle the plastic problem. The single-use plastics that have made their way into our daily lives is a travesty for the oceans; 8 million tonnes of plastic, every year, enter our waterways! This program is suitable for student bodies where there is already an interest in decreasing single-use plastics in communities, and it is essentially a program developed by youth in partnership with Lonely Whale. As Dune pointed out in our conversation, “There is a lot of power in kids developing their own programs and then coaching other kids to do the same.” The end result of this program is that students will educate the communities in which they live about the problems and solutions. The pilot will end with this school year and, after a period of review this summer, will be offered at some schools throughout Canada with a hope to expand to the United States.

Lonely Whale Foundation, Adrian Grenier, oceans, ocean health, world environment day

Before speaking with Dune, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as Global Goals for Sustainable Development. These are actual, tangible goals and strategies that were set in 2015 by 193 world leaders – if these goals are met, we could potentially end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. #CatchTheWave directly impacts Goal #14 Life Below Water. In 2030, my children will be 23, 20 and 16. And yes, absolutely, they will be the ones we’ll be passing down the leadership roles to. Let’s give them fewer problems to deal with and more tools.

So, what can we do?

One of the things we’ve started doing as a family is requesting, ‘No straws, please’ when we order drinks at a restaurant or cafe. These single-use plastics are unnecessary, yet they are the cause of death for so much marine life. And they don’t break down, just like all the other plastic that now outnumbers the plankton in a part of the Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Today happens to be World Environment Day and co-founder Adrian Grenier is recognized as the newest Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. It’s also the perfect day to make a commitment to the planet. Something small that has lasting effects. Here’s an article with 5 simple steps that make a huge difference for the environment. Which one will your family start with today?

If any of this piques your interest, or you know your child is passionate about the ocean and would love to learn more or be involved, please head over to Lonely Whale’s site. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Ramadan Preparation: Tips For Fasting Plus Thinking Beyond ‘The Fast’

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time when many Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. In addition to the fast, it is a month where spiritual growth, charity and community are at the forefront. As an advocate for interfaith dialogue and multicultural connections, I must say this month is also an opportunity for building bridges! If you know a Muslim who observes the fast, don’t hesitate to start a respectful conversation about it. You may even find yourself invited to an Iftar meal. But be prepared for a late dinner; this year, Ramadan falls mostly in June which means a 16-18 hour/day fast for Canadian Muslims! To support observers of the fast, Real Canadian Superstore® and No Frills® are offering some hydration and energy-conservation solutions. With their low prices, they are truly your one-stop shops for all your Ramadan grocery needs!

Salima Jivraj, Halal Foodie expert and observer of Ramadan, has these suggestions:

Stay hydrated. During the Suhoor and Iftar meals, it’s important to drink as much water as possible to keep your body hydrated. During the Suhoor meal, you can also eat salads that have a high water content, like a cucumber or tomato salad that will keep you feeling refreshed throughout the day.

Protein and fibre in the morning. During the Suhoor meal, it’s important to consume foods that are high in fibre, since this keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time. This includes whole grains, oats, beans and lentils. One of our family favourites is a chicken curry made using mixed lentils, Arz fava beans and chickpeas that you can find at the Real Canadian Superstore® with the rest of your groceries at super prices. Don’t forget the eggs during this meal to give you extra protein.

Don’t over-exert yourself. If you exercise, Jivraj recommends shortening the time to save energy and making up for it after your evening meal. She also says to consider exercising indoors on particularly hot and sunny days to avoid feeling dehydrated.

Include more fruits during Iftar. Although this meal happens after the workday is done, Jivraj stresses the importance of balancing your meals to avoid feeling bloated. Since it’s customary to break your fast with dates, she suggests consuming a fruit salad during this time as well. Try waiting a while before having the final heavier evening meal so as not to have an upset stomach.

Real Canadian Superstore® products like Sufra’s Zabeeha by Hand chicken can come in handy when you’re preparing Suhoor in a recipe like my mom’s chicken bhiryani (pictured below) or Salma’s chickpea and chicken daar.

chicken biryani, ramadan, superstore, zabeeha by hand, recipes, taslim jaffer

Giveaway – Win $5o gift cards for you and a friend!

I’m partnering with Real Canadian Superstore® and No Frills® to give you and a friend $50 each to spend in their stores! Head over to my Facebook page to enter. Contest runs Wednesday May 24 – Friday June 2, 2017.

Some thoughts from Dr. Saira Sabzaali about the spiritual journey of fasting

I am really interested in the spiritual aspect of Ramadan so I had a conversation with my friend, Dr. Saira Sabzaali (transpersonal psychotherapist and scholar of Islam) about the esoteric journey of the holy month. She told me that she looks at the fast as a reminder of a spiritual opportunity, where the effort is in letting the soul be more present than the ego. In other words, it’s a time when she uses her ‘hangry-ness’ as kind of a test of character. As she moves through each day during the fast, she asks herself, “Despite feeling irritable, can I still be kind? Can I still be patient with others? Is it possible to not let my hunger dictate my behaviour? Can I remember that I am more than just my body?” I wanted to share this with you because I think it’s important to consider the big picture of this practice. This also helps bridge the gap between people; whether someone observes the fast or not, most of us can relate to a spiritual test or a trying situation in which we have to dig deep to thrive on the other side.

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This post was sponsored by Real Canadian Superstore® and No Frills®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

5 Reasons Why I Loved Being Part of Tea India’s Moms Run On Chai Video

When Mother’s Day comes around, I am guaranteed several things: handmade gifts from the kids, some kind of stationery, a homemade breakfast, messages from loved ones…and a little yearning in my heart for my own mom. As each year goes by, Mother’s Day feels different. It has shifted to being about me. I don’t know exactly when it happened but I am now at that point where I truly feel like the mother figure in my family, and I hope my mom continues to guide me to be everything that role entails. As I wrote about recently, my family suffered another loss last month, my mom’s eldest sister. I learned that losing a mother figure can completely rip open that wound, and I learned that ‘mother’ lives in many people. In the midst of this emotional time comes the release of a project I was lucky to be a part of – a tribute to moms called Moms Run On Chai. It’s a production by Pink Chai Media for Tea India, and it’s special to me for many reasons. Have a quick look at the video – see if you can spot me, my oldest daughter and my son!

Here are 5 reasons why I’m thrilled to be part of Moms Run On Chai:

    1. When I was getting into role for this video (I know, I’m a mom…I should already be in ‘role’) I had to conjure up a really motherly feeling. While I packed the lunch kit, checked in on my daughter sleeping, poured the tea, reflected on my day in the scenes of this video, I had to get into character of the mommiest mom I ever knew. And it was MY mom. One hundred percent. She was that mom who did everything to make our mornings easy, our days go well, and our nights comfortable. Whether it was bringing us snacks as we studied, praying for us through anything, researching extracurricular activities, and much, much more, she did it with what I obviously have subconsciously absorbed as the essence of motherhood. Caregiving. That’s what it was. So, as I was going through each scene, I truly felt like my mom was with me. And watching the video I can even see her reflected. She would have shared the heck out of this video, too. I know she would have been proud.
    2. I got to do this with two of my kids! I love that this day was a memory for the 3 of us, and this video like a keepsake of that experience. I’m usually the one taking the pictures or the videos. My selfie skills and short arms create some odd captures when I’m trying to incorporate myself in photos with them. To have a professional team shoot us was awesome. Photo Credit: AzizDhamani.commoms run on chai, pink chai media, tea india, let me out creative, taslim jaffer
    3. I had declared 2017 as Taslim’s Year of Fun and started it off with trips to the theatre to watch live productions. That got me thinking about different art forms, and what I’ve tried and what I haven’t. I kid you not when I tell you, I actually thought to myself, “I haven’t tried acting.” In fact, I thought about it several times before this opportunity came up; when it did, I tossed my name in the hat for selections to be made by Tea India. And I didn’t hesitate, either. This was something I truly wanted to try and the whole experience with how I got the gig just reaffirmed my belief in manifesting parts of our journey.
    4. Making chai is symbolic of so much for me. It is a long time tradition in my family to serve and drink tea several times a day, and while I’m not a 3-cups a day type of person, I do enjoy more than just the taste of a good cup of chai. It’s knowing that I am taking part in something that my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents also did. It’s like sharing something from their lifetime when so much else has changed, including geography. And I love that I am the chai-maker in my family at our gatherings. One of my favourite parts of having people over is asking them, “Who wants chai?” and seeing all the hands go up. Then I retreat to the kitchen and get just the right number of tea bags. When I get positive feedback on the chai, my heart literally swells. Making a good cup of chai is taking care of somebody, offering them comfort and relaxation. So, working with a brand who truly values this was perfect. Photo Credit: AzizDhamani.commoms run on chai, tea india, pink chai media, taslim jaffer, let me out creative
    5. Last but not least, this project allowed me to work with my friend Raj from Pink Chai Media who I met years ago online. She asked me on Twitter to meet her for tea and our friendship has grown since that first chai date. Neither of us dreamed that we’d get to collaborate on something like this, though! Through Raj, I got to meet Aziz who is a whiz behind that lens! Working with him and videographer Gabriel Gonzales was so much fun. They made that full day go by quickly and I even got to practice a little aperture-talk I had just learned from a recent photography class, plus try out a few Spanish phrases on Gabriel. And you might recognize my friend Salma showing her strength with the kettlebell in the video? Life brings amazing people to me year after year. I’m blessed to be surrounded by people with such creative talent and a love of art.

Are you a tea-drinker? A chai-lover? Then you should head over to Tea India’s Facebook contest and enter to win a year’s supply of tea! Contest ends 11:59 pm May 15, 2017. Good luck!

Tell me about your favourite cup of tea or tea memory in the comments! I’d truly love to hear!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

 

 

Awaken Your Inner Champion With This 6-Week Webinar

Have you ever heard the term ‘inner critic’? I talk about it in my writing classes. It’s that voice of self-doubt, even ridicule, that keeps you from writing (or living) with the freedom you should. Over the years of being mindful of this voice, I’ve gotten to know all the sneaky tricks it tries to pull. But there are still times when that voice is loud and I need something else to counter it. Ranbir Puar from Spirituality for Reality Inc has the perfect antidote for me: my inner champion.

I consider my inner champion as that place from which to draw strength. It’s the truth about who I am, how deserving I am of love and respect, and how strong I can be in adversity. Last fall, I participated in a 4-week webinar put on by Ranbir all about awakening that inner champion and I loved it! It was a supportive group environment where we tried exercises and shared experiences. There was always time for asking questions and we were even given tools, including email access to Ranbir, to help us get through the week till the next session. It’s pretty exciting that she now has a 6-week webinar offering the same and more, and it’s starting on May 9!

inner champion, awaken your inner champion, ranbir puar, spirituality for reality, spirituality

If you’re still not sure what the signs of a loud inner critic are, here’s what Ranbir has to say:

You know that voice inside your head…the one that nags, disrupts and holds you back? It’s the voice of your inner critic. Many people don’t realize how pervasive that inner critic is in their lives. Here are some tell-tale signs that your inner critic is holding the reins and should be given the boot!
  1. You don’t sleep well.  You either have a hard time falling asleep, or you wake up through the night and can’t go back to be. OR you wake up tired, even though you have slept!
  2. Failure cripples you.  When things go right or wrong, your inner critic shows up and takes charge of your inner dialogue. Undercutting your successes and deepening your failures by insisting you will never measure up.
  3. You don’t nourish your body, mind and spirit well. When your self-image is high, you tend to pay close attention to what you feed your body, mind and your spirit. Not because you are afraid, but because you are worth it!
  4. Your language/communication with others tends to have a negative slant/focus. Audit your conversations, including your inner voice.  How you speak to yourself when you are alone with your thoughts is a true test of the strength of your inner champion/inner critic.   
  5. Your close relationships are tense. Many people treat strangers better than they treat the people they love. How you give AND receive love is key for a strong self-image, a strong inner champion. Do an audit, objectively assess the love in your life.  Remember love is life’s true currency.  It is the size of your heart, not the size of your wallet, that matters.

As a mom, I think it’s important for me to have an awakened inner champion because that’s the same pool from which my motherhood is drawn. I want to offer my kids the best of me and it’s easiest for me to do that when I feel at peace with myself. In fact, I’m considering my participation in her next webinar as my Mother’s Day gift to myself. It’s a great time of year to think about me and who I am as a woman and a mom. Maybe there’s a mom you know who’d like this gift, too?

I’m happy to offer you coupon code taslim10 for this webinar. You can share the code with anyone you think would benefit.

I hope to see you there!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

 

 

Grieving A Loss: The Tools I Have Come To Rely On

I share a lot online; it’s part of my work. I’m willing to do it because I know the benefits of sharing one’s stories. But when something personal happens, and it’s still raw, grieving in public spaces is extremely difficult. I’m still realizing that time didn’t stop for the rest of the world since my aunt passed away two weeks ago. Instead my work piled up, laundry followed suit – and somehow with less energy than I have had in awhile, I have to climb this mountain while keeping life as normal as possible for the kids. That means keeping up with field trips and notices and sports.

The quiet hush we lived in with close family and friends is now lifting and I’m stepping out into the sun, blinking, looking around at this new life. I’ve been here before, and I have no doubt that my family and I will move forward. Our get-togethers will once again be joyful, we will laugh. We will watch the kids grow and ask each other for advice. We will sound like our mothers. And the ache of that recognition will be more gentle and tender as the years go by. I know we will get there, but today we are facing our collective and individual traumas.

Grieving is a different process for each of us. Much of my solace comes from writing and telling stories. Sometimes the stories rip open the tiny seams I have stitched across the hole that grief made. But then the next seams that are stitched are stronger, tighter. I also turn to another source of ‘mother’ for me, and that is Mother Nature herself. Last week, I visited the river and trees at Surrey’s Serpentine Fen. I listened to the birds and took in lungfuls of air heavy with a syrupy scent. I forced myself to notice, to be present, to get out of my own head. With each step on the trails, it got easier to surrender to the fact that life will go on. That there will be new forms of life.

grieving, grief, serpentine fen, taslim jaffer, let me out creative, surrey bc

So, I’ll keep walking along this trail and I’ll use the tools I have come to rely on during the difficult times: writing uninhibited in my journal; sharing what might help you, too, on my blog and other places; a good old-fashioned cry; the love of my family and close friends; and of course, my faith that everything happens for the best.

I’m also looking ahead to teaching more writing classes in the fall, as well as writing about travel and the arts, and enjoying motherhood with a new perspective that a loss often brings. I find the best way to move forward is to look in that direction. We always carry our loved ones with us, and while I enjoy the comfort of their memories when I need their company the most, a life cannot be lived backwards.

I hope that if you are experiencing a loss of some kind – whether it be a relationship, an ability, or the life of someone close to you – this helps you in some way. And if you have tools you’d like to share with us in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

 

Recipe: Easy And Delicious Pad Thai

My husband cooks the way he does pretty much everything in life: with enthusiasm, attention to detail, and a drive for awesomeness. Watching him put a dish together, like this pad Thai, is really fun because I get to witness this interesting dance between his perfectionistic chopping of the garnish and his spontaneity with measurements and ingredients.

He’s the kind of guy who will walk through the grocery store with a crazed look in his eyes as he formulates his next creation in his head and gets inspired by the produce in front of him. It’s rather unfortunate that he’s also the guy who works very full days at the office and slides into home base when dinner is served. But weekends are a different story; this is a quick dish for him to throw together on a Friday or Saturday night.

This recipe is adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook. If you have ever been to Victoria, B.C. you have either eaten at or heard of the vegetarian restaurant, Rebar, which gives us this cookbook. (Add it to your list of places to eat. And if you’re still hungry, check out 5 other delicious things to eat in Victoria).

Here’s what you need:

1- 454 g package of rice noodles

1- 454 g block of extra-firm tofu

2-3 large carrots, cut into 2-inch sticks

2 tbsp coconut oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

juice of 1 lime

cilantro and green onion, chopped for garnish (use however much you want – we like a lot)

1 heaping tsp ground cumin

for the sauce:

just under 1/2 cup of soy sauce (we use Braggs soy aminos – you might be able to use coconut aminos…haven’t tried that yet!)

just under 1/2 cup water

1/3 cup honey

just over 1/4 cup ketchup

1 tbsp sambal oelek (optional – we leave it out of the cooking, but keep it at the table for those who want some heat)

other vegetables that go well – use a combo and mix it up every time for a different meal:

snow peas, bean sprouts, red pepper, baby corn

Some of the ingredients, but not all. Because, unlike my husband, details are not my forte.

Here’s what you do:

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat off, add the noodles and cover for about 5 minutes.

2. While Step 1 is going on, cube the block of tofu and throw in a wok with coconut oil. Sprinkle with cumin and fry on med-high until crispy and golden. Set aside.

This is the lid from the noodles pot. Saves a dish!

3. Drain noodles in a colander. Set aside.

4. Add some more coconut oil to the wok if needed. Add garlic. When the garlic starts browning, add carrots. Cook on med-high until carrots soften.

5. While Step 4 is going on, make the sauce by whisking together soy sauce, water, ketchup, honey and sambal oelek in a small bowl.

6.  Once the carrots are cooked, add noodles and 3/4 of the sauce and stir until well mixed. Add tofu.

7. Whisk the remainder of the sauce again. That way, if there is any honey left at the bottom of the bowl it gets incorporated into the sauce. (This is an example of a ‘Nadir nugget’ – my name for the pearls of wisdom he likes to offer…haha!)

It's better to have too much sauce than too little, in my opinion.

8. Add remainder of the sauce and lime juice. Stir until everything is coated.

9. Add garnish and serve.

We normally enjoy pad Thai on its own as a main dish, but have also served it beside a Thai-flavoured chicken. You can also make this non-vegetarian by adding cubed chicken breast, shrimp or ground beef.

 

Easter Weekend In Whatcom County: The Highlight Reel

This past Easter long weekend we spent 4 relaxing days in Whatcom County – and even enjoyed some sun! Here are some highlights in photos.

I loved the ample time I spent outdoors where I practiced my photography using my Canon SX50 HS and my iPhone 6S. The sun was warm on my back, the air was fresh and my subjects were stunning.

My youngest would not turn around for this shot but I snapped it anyway. She loves the independence and freedom she finds in her little car and tricycle! {Canon}

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My son is happy amongst the trees, like his mom. He spent a great chunk of time building a fort in the woods, complete with a cardboard T.V. By the end of the day, he was filthy – and excited about getting back to it the next morning. {Canon}

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After a bike ride, these two sisters decided to have a picnic by the lake. Fresh strawberries, Ambrosia apples, Colby Jack cheese and whole wheat crackers made the perfect snack before jumping on their bikes again. {iPhone}

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One big kid and one little kid, pictured here enjoying some playground equipment. This was the first weekend in a couple months that we were actually completely and totally at ease. The only thing on our agenda was to enjoy each other’s company and play. It was the perfect break from work and commitments. {Canon}

Whatcom County, Easter long weekend, long weekend, long weekend vibes, travel, family travel, taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Ok, there actually was something on the agenda: an Easter egg hunt! Here’s a cluster of chocolate yummies ready to be found. (The sugar crash for the youngest was a bit of a downer for all of us! But this is the highlights reel, so I’ll just post the pretty pictures!) {iPhone}

Whatcom County, Easter long weekend, long weekend vibes, family travel, travel, easter egg hunt, chocolates, taslim jaffer, let me out creative

And the marina. In just another month or so, these boat slips will be occupied and summer will really be upon us. I captured this quiet moment before the excitement. {iPhone}

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I hope your long weekend was filled with the things and people you love most.

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