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Baking With Spoons

A friend of mine shared this story the other day, and it’s something I’ve thought of every day since.

If you’ve got a few minutes, I encourage you to go read it. If not, I will fill you in!

It’s something called “The Spoon Theory,” used to describe what’s it’s like living day-to-day with an illness. What it’s really like. I mean, we all know that sick people are tired and weak all the time, but it’s still hard for a healthy person to wrap their brains around that. Trust me, I know, I used to be a healthy person too.

The author of the story explains it as such: each day we wake up with a certain number of spoons. Each activity we do over the course of the day costs us a spoon. So a healthy person can hop out of bed and easily not use up a spoon until they arrive at work. Whereas it requires one spoon for a sick person to get out of bed, one spoon to shower, one spoon to find a pair of pants to wear, etc, etc. Basically, small things that we all do over the course of the day aren’t as easy for some people as they are on the rest.

What really interested me about this story is not how it influences the perception of healthy people, but it gave me something to refer to as I used up my spoons over the course of the day. It put into words something that I hadn’t yet been able to explain.

Each day, I wake up with a certain number of spoons. That number depends on how long ago my last chemotherapy was, how well I slept the night before, or how many spoons I have left over from the day before. I never really know how many spoons I’m waking up to, so how many I have to use up for the day is always a surprise.

On days where I have a lot of spoons, I’ll go for walks, visit with friends and family, go to a restaurant. Some days activities require more spoons than others though. I may wake up with 8 spoons, but walking the dog could take up 5. So I’m left being stingy with my spoons for the rest of the day.

One of my favourite ways to use my spare spoons? Creating in the kitchen.

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My family are always at me for using up my spoons in the kitchen, but it’s how I choose to use them! Maybe they are just annoyed I don’t use my spoons doing dishes…

I’ve been baking exclusively with apples since apple picking last weekend. Here are some recipes to share:

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Apple Crumble Bars using this recipe. Shortbread cookie base and crumble with a just-tart-enough apple filling. My Nana loved these and they are great with a cup of tea!

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Apple Butter, naturally. I based it off this recipe using a dozen apples and half a cup of pure maple syrup. It took about 7 hours of simmering to get it really thick. I ended up with four jars, three of which I gave away. One of which I kept so I could have apple butter on pork.

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Finally, Apple Oatmeal Muffins! Made in a mini muffin pan because I still don’t have a regular sized one. I based my version off of this recipe and subbed the flour for whole wheat, the oil for almond butter, and the buttermilk for almond milk curdled with one tablespoon of lemon juice. If I were to make these again I’d add more cinnamon, more almond butter, and more apple! Otherwise, they’re great slathered in some homemade apple butter.

All enjoyed next to a purring cat…

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My mom and I have traded dogs for a few days. We finally diagnosed why Buster wasn’t feeling well and I can’t care for him until he’s better. Cashew the cat strongly dislikes Buster, but for some reason loves Archie the poodle. Cashew has come out of hiding to rub up against Archie and purr loudly in his presence.

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Archie in turn is scared of other dogs, but seems to be okay with the cat. I think the two of them could actually be great friends.

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It’s all very entertaining to watch go down as I stand in the kitchen using up my spoons in an apron stained in applesauce.

If I were to add my own twist to the spoon theory, it would be to mention that I don’t think it’s exclusive to sick people. Everyone has a certain number of spoons to use up over the course of the day, just not everyone has so many or uses them up so easily. So while I’m recklessly using mine by chopping up a gazillion apples, might I suggest you use some spoons doing something you love today too. Perhaps eating funsize candy bars? After a week of mostly rest, I’ve got a few spoons to spare, so I’m changing out of my peejays and into my spy costume. Happy Halloween!

How Do You Like Them Apples?

Listen. I’ve had enough.

I know y’all love your pumpkin. But my head is going to explode if I see one more pumpkin recipe.

I’m just being real yo!

Truth of the matter is, the mushy orange stuff makes me a little squeamish. I love me some cinnamon and nutmeg, but tasteless baby food from a can makes me gag a little. Just a little.

When it comes to fall flavours, I am all about the apples.

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I’ve been dreaming about homemade apple sauce ever since I made a batch around this time last year. When walking past a fruit stand on Saturday, I saw Ontario empire apples on sale for 99 cents a pound. I knew the time had come.

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I bought four pounds for four bucks. Last year, I went McIntosh, and the empires reminded me of a slightly crispier and less grainy version of them.

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Cored and chopped the apples until my pot was overflowing. No bother peeling them. The peels are the best part!

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I tossed in a cup of water and let the pot simmer for around half an hour. Until I noticed the apples getting mushy. That’s when I added one tablespoon cinnamon and got to mashing.

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I like my applesauce chunky, so I didn’t bother blending. No sugar either, these puppies are sweet enough as is!

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Learn from my mistakes and do not taste the sauce immediately. You will burn your tongue.

Instead, I incorporated some of the warm sauce into supper!

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Yup. Waffles for supper :) The usual protein waffle batter:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • pinch cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • 2 stevia packets
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Along with the apple sauce, I added molasses and maple syrup.

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My oh my. That is fall flavours at their best ;)

 

Okay. Confession time. I’m not 100% against all things pumpkin.

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I’ll make exceptions when chocolate is involved ;) Like my roommie’s pumpkin brownies!

 

Q&As

How do you find the time to write such creative posts and still live life (and work/volunteer so much)?  How do you balance everything in your life without ‘burnout’?

 

This is a great question, because sometimes my biggest “balancing act” is finding time to write The Great Balancing Act!

First things first, I started my blog during my last year of an undergraduate degree. I was doing school full-time, working two part-time jobs and one unpaid internship. Apparently, I didn’t think I had enough on my plate ;)

Since then, I’ve continued my blog through working wonky hours as a broadcast journalist and the mind-numbing hours of an 8-5 desk drone. These days my hours are all over the place. I’m at the gym by 6:30am every day to train clients. I have anywhere from 4-6 clients a day, but don’t usually wrap up until 7pm. Because I live so far away from the gym, popping home in between isn’t really an option. So I’m away from my house at least 12 hours a day. I also have a retail job in a running store that will sometimes keep me working until 10pm, and of course every Saturday and Sunday. 7 days a week, 12+ hours a day. And yup, I do volunteering on top of that!

My number one trick recently has been bringing my laptop with me to work so when I get an hour or two of spare time, I can scoot to the nearest Starbucks to work on my blog. Blogging time (usually takes an hour) often gets pencilled into my day so it never gets put to the back burner. I often pre-write posts, which is the biggest benefit to not doing a “daily diary” type blog. For example, my Fitness Friday posts are rarely actually written on Friday, which gives me Friday off from writing!

Right now, I think what is keeping me from burning out is knowing that this is what I came to Toronto to do. In my old life back in Fredericton, my desk job was my only commitment over the course of the day. It was kind of soul crushing. Now I thrive off the zillion projects I have on the go and actually find energy in participating in so much!

With that said, I do carve out downtime as well. I make sure there is one day a week where I can stay in my pajamas until 3pm doing absolutely nothing. It’s what works for me to “recharge.”

Finally, blogging is how I prefer to spend my time! Writing is second nature to me and has never felt like work. On days I don’t feel like blogging, I don’t. But that doesn’t happen often because I always want to blog. Even after all this time! Some people watch TV or or play video games with whatever spare time they have. I blog :)

 

Question of the Day: What are your feelings on pumpkin? It’s like buying canned mashed potatoes.

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The longest week ever is slowly coming to an end… yayyy!! I’m taking this Friday off work to drive to Halifax, Nova Scotia to visit my best friend from high school. Her birthday was yesterday, so we thought a b-day celebration and some girly time was in order. I haven’t seen her in over a year!!

Also fun is that one of my friends from work is coming with me for the 5-hour drive. Otherwise it would be mega boring!

Anyways, as I teased yesterday, I had a stellar breakfast on Tuesday that I simply must share.

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Sigh. It’s photos like these that make me love my Canon Rebel. Worth every penny I didn’t pay ;) In the tupperware dish went:

  • 1 cup 1% low-sodium cottage cheese
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut chia granola

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I’ve been struggling to find satisfying cold breakfasts for when I get to work after the gym in the mornings. But this was verrry tasty and made me happy till snack time at approximately 10:30am.

Oh! Speaking of workouts! I had a good one on Tuesday too that I want to share in case you feel like stealing. It was treadmill + full-body weights.

Treadmill – 1% incline

Minutes Speed – MPH
0-5 3.5
5-6 5.5
6-7 6.0
7-8 5.5
8-9 6.0
9-10 5.5
1-11 6.0
11-12 6.5
12-13 6.0
13-14 6.5
14-15 6.0
15-16 6.5
16-17 7.0
17-18 6.5
18-19 7.0
19-20 6.5
20-21 7.0
21-22 7.5
22-23 7.0
23-24 7.5
24-25 7.0

Holy smokes. My heart rate reached 183 bpm during this which is ultra high for me. A good kinda high though. I’m one of those people who quits when it gets too hard, so I like it when I can push through and live to tell the tale :)

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
One arm dumbbell snatch  20 lbs 8-12 3

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Step-up  55 lbs 8-12 3
One-point dumbbell row 55 lbs 8-12 3

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Lunge with twist 11 lbs 16 3
Wide-grip lat pulldown  50 lbs 8-12 3

 

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
Medicine ball squat  11 lbs 15 3
Russian twist  11 lbs 30 3
Lying medicine ball throw  11 lbs 15 3
Pullover to ball crunch 11 lbs 15 3

 

Another workout I made up as I went along! I try not to do too many isolation moves in my full-body workouts, but rather compound moves that work multiple muscles, as well as working my stabilizing muscles.

Now we must go from the crisp Canon shots, to cell phone photos!! Boooo. For a mediocre photographer, I’m a complete picture snob. I’m embarrassed to be posting these! But I guess good food sometimes trumps picture quality.

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This is the stir fry I made for my mom and I last night. It was a mix of packaged teriyaki tofu, leftover roast chicken, frozen Asian veggie mix, basmati rice, Bragg’s and Diana’s teriyaki sauce. It was really, really good. Add stir-fry to the list of delicious things to make with roast chicken leftovers.

I can’t help myself, I also have to show you this embarrassing photo of breakfast this morning. I skipped Waffle Wednesday in lieu of an Oatmeal Wednesday. Sometimes you just gotta go with your cravings!

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This wasn’t any bowl of oats though. It was a bowl of Ellie’s apple and cheddar oatmeal. I made my usual custard oats (with a whole egg whisked in), and cooked half an apple in it, then topped with old cheddar. (we call it “old” in Canada, much harsher sounding than “sharp” or “mature” cheese) It was really good! But I think I put too much cheese on top, it was more like a bowl of melted cheese with oats and apples thrown in ;)

Okay, back to the good pictures!

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I’ve decided I’m going to be one of those people who drinks tea at the office. You know the type (heck, you probably are the type). I dug into the Yogi Tea Adrien sent me for my Bloggie Secret Valentine gift.

First up was the Chai Rooibos. Chosen first because I love both chai and rooibos. It did not disappoint!

Then in the afternoon, I tore into the Green Tea Kombucha.

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I had low expectations as I’m not a huge green tea fan, and I’ve heard gross things about kombucha. Which by the way, is fermented tea.

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This stuff however was actually yummy! The spearmint in it helped take the edge off the usual bitterness of green tea.

It wasn’t till the second bag that I noticed there’s messages on the tag.

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My mind is totally in the gutter with this one.

Today is my rest day from the gym, which means it’s my hungriest day of the week. I rushed home to get started on dinner asap.

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A Gardein Sante Fe Chick’n Good Stuffs on top of spinach, mushrooms, onions and green pepper sautéed in olive oil. (the real stuff! Gotta my fat in for Fatty February)

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I really like the flavour of these Gardein things. Even though I find the idea of them to be kinda strange.

My evening snack was colourful.

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A small dish of April’s protein cookie dough. Which is 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder mixed into a goo by adding water. I of course added chocolate chips and sprinkles because I can’t help myself. Can’t forget the glob of PB too!

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All swirled up and eaten slooowly. This was real thick tonight and almost like eating fudge off my spoon. I can see how April is so obsessed with it! It’s tasty and fun to eat!

 

Well that wraps it up for tonight. It’s 9:20 and I’m heading straight to bed. Gotta start getting my beauty sleep in preparation for the weekend ;) Don’t forget! If you want to join in on the blogger fun for lunch in Halifax on Sunday, pop me an e-mail at thegreatbalancingact@gmail.com. Can’t wait to meet all you fab ladies!!!

 

Question of the Day: What “childish” food do you still eat? Sprinkles and mashmallow fluff top that list for me. Although cheestrings and mini cartons of raisins are staple around here. I’ve been experimenting with a lot of baby food lately too!

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