Oh for the love of balls

Not those balls. Different balls.

I’m talking chocolate, coconut, nutty, fat balls. Paleo and Vegan balls. Balls you will love. Balls for days. Balls you can whip up really fast.

Some days I am focussed in the kitchen and other days I bounce off the walls and cabinets like Ricochet Rabbit. Remember him? Bing bing bing Ricochet Rabbit. There’s an age drop. I may have really only watched it a couple of times. I can’t recall the specifics of any episodes like I can with Bugs Bunny, other than him literally bouncing off everything in the room. Upon reflection, maybe he was a character with either a sugar addiction, food sensitivities/allergies or possibly ADHD. Maybe too much caffeine? Who knows.

Today was one of those excited electron days. Inside I was buzzing with the energy to “DO STUFF” but I also wanted something treat-like without the associated guilt of inhaling half a bag of chocolate chips (I may have done that once or twice before). I have an upcoming trip to San Diego and I wanted something I can take on the flight that won’t get confiscated as contraband goods. So these easy balls were born.

(Yikes! It looks like I could do with a manicure and some cuticle work.)

I chucked some stuff into the food processor and crossed my fingers. This turned out way better than I could have ever hoped. I’m glad I was paying attention to what and how much went in. Sometimes the creative process really is a blur.

Really.

I may need to make more as I don’t think the inaugural batch will last until I fly. That’s ok because that means they were that good. I eat all the stuff I make, even if it isn’t stupendous because I hate wasting food. When the people I love and live with enjoy my creations, I do the Snoopy happy dance inside.

I give you: ccnf (chocolate coconut nutty fat) balls:

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 10 Medjool dates cut into quarters
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Pinch of sea salt

Pulse the nuts for a few seconds in the bowl of the food processor using the S-blade. Add the quartered dates and coconut shreds and pulse until the mix almost holds together when you squeeze a small amount in your fingers. Obviously don’t put your fingers in the processor while it is running. They aren’t kidding when they say that blade is sharp.

Add the coconut butter, coconut oil, salt and cocoa powder and process until everything is well mixed.

Pack the firmly mix into a small cookie scoop. smallcookiescoopMy favourite one is a 1 tablespoon measure scoop. Pop them into the fridge to set. Makes about 15-18 small balls (depending on how much you “quality check” the mixture as you roll your balls).

Don’t have a small scoop? Don’t fret marmoset. Just get your hands dirty and roll your balls the old-fashioned way.

Winner winner chicken dinner 

Don’t you just love a big fancy dinner?

Picture the room. Tasteful decor, perhaps candles and ambient music in the background. There doesn’t appear to be any other patrons in the restaurant. No menus.  The server begins your meal. A salad and maybe a soup course or some other appetizer with an aperitif. Fish, then game followed by beef all with perfect wine pairings. Oooh, dessert and perhaps a cheese plate with a glass of port. Coffee and cognac anyone?

Wait a second. What’s that noise? It isn’t stopping. It’s getting louder and louder. Oh right. You’re sleeping. Or you were sleeping. Your brain alerts you to the sound of your alarm going off and you haul your carcass from under the covers. Feet hit the cold floor and reality lands on your shoulders with a thud. It was just a dream.

You get through your work day relatively unscathed. All day in the back of your mind, however, lurks the age old question of what to make for dinner. When you get home, you open the fridge hoping for inspiration. Meh. The pantry holds no magic either.

You know you don’t want to cave in and order pizza or some other takeaway food that will leave your wallet empty and your gut and heart full of pain and regret. You remember the portioned flattened chicken thighs in the freezer.  Into the sink with water they go. They will thaw out fairly quickly because you froze them flat. (Aren’t you glad you did that?)

While the chicken is thawing, you get busy hauling the veg from the crisper. This becomes a total Hail Mary play. Carrots, parsnips, brussel spouts and maybe the last of the broccoli. Oh hey, grab the half onion too while you’re in the fridge.

You grab a shallow roasting pan and place it on the counter beside the cutting board. Turn the oven on to get it to temperature while you prep everything. Carrots peeled and chopped into chunks. Parsnips get the same treatment. Brussel sprouts get halved (keep the outer leaves to make chips or sauté them for breakfast tomorrow) and the broccoli is split into small florets. Quarter the onion and dump all the veg into a big bowl. Meanwhile you have melted some ghee in the microwave and have added a shake or two of your favourite spice blend. You pour the seasoned ghee all over the veg.

You check the thawing chicken and see it’s almost ready. You put more ghee in the microwave to melt. Grab the kitchen shears and cut the bones from the thighs. Trim the excess skin while you are at it. You put the bones aside to make stock later. You’re so smart it makes you smile. Your grandma would be proud.

You dump all the coated veg into the roasting pan. You stir a healthy splash of bourbon hot sauce (oh yeah, this is the stuff dreams are made of) into the ghee and slather the chicken all over with this deliciousness and plop it on top of the vegetables.

By this point, the oven is ready and in goes dinner. A quick clean up of a cutting board, a knife, one bowl and a glass measuring cup and you can sit down until food is ready. Or shower or feed the cats (or dogs), open mail or any other home type tasks.

In about 40 minutes, you are tucking into a super all in one meal. Plus, lookit all the veg you are stuffing into yourself and your people. You should be proud of yourself. Dinner crisis averted.

Winning weeknight chicken dinner:

  • 8 skin-on, boneless (or debone them yourself and make some stock) chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup melted ghee, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon Virginia Gentleman’s Bourbon Chipotle Hot Sauce (this stuff is golden! but by all means use another favourite brand)
  • veg of choice to fill your roasting pan  NOTE: I used 3 large carrots, 2 medium parsnips several handfuls of brussel sprouts, half a medium onion and about 2 cups broccoli florets, but use what you have handy
  • 2 teaspoons of your favourite spice blend
  • salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to 375.

Scrub, peel and chop your veg so they are all around the same size. Things will cook at the same time. Mix the spice blend with 1/4 cup of the meted ghee and toss the chopped veg to coat. Put the veggies in the bottom of your roasting pan, spreading everything out evenly.

Mix the hot sauce with the other 1/4 cup of meted ghee and coat the chicken thighs, placing them right on top of the veggies, skin side up.

Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until internal temperature of the chicken reads 165.

Like a Scout, it’s good to be prepared

Every good heist has to be carefully planned. Nothing is ever left to chance. If you want to get away with things and be on Easy Street, you need to plan and prepare for any possible outcome.

Food really isn’t any different. You need to plan and prepare. When you don’t have a well-thought out plan, that’s when things start sliding sideways and you find yourself calling for take-out, ordering pizza or whipping through the closest drive-thru. This is then followed by a lot of regret and self-flagellation. These feelings are neither productive nor conducive to getting back on track. Time to get over yourself and get back to the business of feeding yourself good food.

Flip though your stack of recipe books and jot down meal ideas for the upcoming week. Think of all those food videos you share and like on Facebook and Pinterest. (They all have thousands of shares and views but I wonder how many folks have ever made any of them.) Dinner doesn’t have to be a rut. If a recipe calls for bison and well, you are not willing to shell out the dollars for this particular protein, you have permission to use a different red meat. The flavours may not be 100% as the recipe creator intended, but you have a new dish in your repertoire. Same goes for fish. Use cod instead of halibut. Trout for salmon. Just buy the best you can afford. Wild canned salmon on sale? Load up. You can add that to your salads, mix it with some mayo, make salmon cakes and so on.

Like most folks, you probably shop once a week for groceries. If you hit places like Costco, you might wind up with large packs of meats that look a little intimidating. The solution to the party-pak of protein is portioning (ooh, how I love me some alliteration).

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The five pound pack of ground beef has been weighed into half-pound measures and patted flat. By patting it flat like this, it freezes faster, is easier to store in the freezer and best of all, it thaws faster.

Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are often cheaper than their boneless, skinless counterpart. Be sure to flatten the chicken when you portion it to freeze. Like the ground meat, it will thaw much faster. When dinner decisions are pressing, you want to know things will thaw quickly. If you are paying premium dollar for pastured chicken, you want all the parts. You can debone the thighs yourself as long as you have a good pair of kitchen shears. It really is easy to do. Plus, now you have some bones for stock. Your grandma would be proud. Win-win.

Speaking of stock, or bone broth as it’s called in the trendy circles, portion and freeze that too for quick and easy use down the road.

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I have silicone muffin pans that make baking stupidly easy. They never need greasing. Everything just pops right out as slick as can be. I make my stock and ladle it into my muffin pan in 1/4 cup measures and freeze those bad boys. When a recipe calls for a small amount of stock in a recipe, I pull out as many pucks as I need and melt them in the microwave if I’m short on time.

Bottom line, don’t be afraid to buy in bulk. Spend the time in the kitchen portioning and freezing. This meal prep step will save you from feelings of self-loathing as you hide the pizza box in the bottom of the compost collection bucket.

Having a variety of proteins frozen into meal sized amounts will provide you with a good rotation during the week. You won’t be condemned to a week of chicken thighs because you bought the warehouse pack and they need to be eaten – stat!

Soup is good food

Now, if you were into punk music back in the early 80’s you may have heard that line in a Dead Kennedys song by the same name, from their album Frankenchrist. The album cover depicted Shriners driving around in tiny cars in what looks like a parade. Totally aging myself there. Those lyrics and that band aren’t for everyone, so we won’t continue the recitation any further.

The other night I was throwing food together for dinner. I had all kinds of veg that were going to sit ‘neath some lovely chicken thighs. That is another post altogether as that dinner turned out really well. However, I have a non-meat eater in my flock, so, chicken thighs were a no-go. (flock, chicken, see what I did there?)  Nor were the veg under the chicken going to be consumed.

As I was rooting around in the crisper, my eye came to rest on some asparagus that were nearly forgotten at the bottom of the drawer. I really hate wasting food. That upsets me on many levels so I grabbed the bag and thought what the heck can I do with these heavenly spears before they get all slimy and icky? We had had steamed asparagus several times during the week and we were getting kinda tired of them. My brain began to percolate and smoke, then, in a “EUREKA I found it” kinda moment, I had the answer.

The best parts were:

  1. I had everything on hand
  2. It took about 30 minutes from start to finish
  3. All real ingredients, nothing sketchy or unpronounceable
  4. Food waste averted

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Curried asparagus soup:

  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends snapped and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 an onion, minced
  • 4 cups stock (chicken, or vegetable if you want to make this vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil (coconut oil if you are vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder (or more if you are game)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the ghee or coconut oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook until fragrant. Add the stock, rosemary, sage and paprika and just bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until asparagus is very tender.

Using a hand-held immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. You could use a regular blender, but you have to do that in small batches with a vented lid otherwise you are going to get burned and be cleaning soup from the ceiling. Just saying.

Once the soup is smooth, stir in the coconut milk and the curry powder. Salt and pepper to taste and bask in the compliments.

 

Best time to go to the dentist? 2:30

Two thirty. Tooth hurty? Get it?

I know it’s an old one but it always makes me smile. Except when it’s true.

Regular dental check-ups aren’t a money grab. You may think your dentist is giving your chompers a cursory glance to justify his/her fee. Nope. Your dentist is checking your fillings (if you have them) for damage. They are on the lookout for recession (that is a whole ‘nother post). They are also looking at the tissues in your mouth and your tongue. They are looking for changes in these tissues that you may not see or you may think are normal looking bumps and splotches.

Having said that, if something twinges in your mouth, and by that I mean, if you have a tooth that suddenly starts talking to you when you eat or drink something hot or cold, make the call. You may not be due for your hygiene appointment for another 3 months, but a lot can happen in that time. You wouldn’t wait 3 months to get your car in to the mechanic if something was clunking under the hood would you? Probably not, because the bill to repair whatever was wrong will be soooo much bigger if you wait. Same goes for your teeth.

I digress.4271967801516

First: no comments necessary about the size of the filling or the fact it is an amalgam (silver) filling or that you can see another filling on the other molar.

Second: no comments necessary on the quality, clarity or framing of the photos either. My dentist didn’t know I wanted them until after they were taken. They were for insurance pre-authorization purposes.

Back to my tooth. One day, I noticed the tooth was being a little fussy. This poor molar  was occasionally feeling a little sensitive. I’m not talking about eating ice cream and needing to be peeled from the ceiling kinda sensitive. It was much milder than that. But it was enough to make me sit up and take notice.

I booked in for a spec exam within 2 days. The discomfort felt like it might have been from sinus pressure. I haven’t had a cold or any kind of sinus issue for a long time. In the past, my colds went directly to sinus infection-land and these used to happen frequently. Once I changed my eating habits, (quit gluten among other things) I haven’t had a cold or flu (or anything that everyone around me gets hit with) in years. I’m not exaggerating. My nick-name is Robot-Princess (that, is again, another story). I just don’t get sick. So sinus pain, though I used to experience it frequently when I was younger, was now unfamiliar. Then I thought, maybe, I’ve cracked my tooth. At the time, I wasn’t sure which would have been a preferential outcome. Sinus infections suck because of the antibiotics, how lousy they make you feel and the havoc they wreak on your gut flora. A cracked tooth also sucks, because, well, cracked tooth. The picture and x-ray showed I had a fracture. Ugh!

Upon removal of the old filling, we got a look at how bad it really was. What we thought was a small hairline crack from the filling to the edge was far more than I had bargained for. 4276152886016

I had cracked my tooth from stem to stern under that silver filling. I’m a clencher. I wear a night guard every night to protect my teeth from me. I must do some of the damage during the day. I’m damn lucky my entire tooth didn’t break in half. (And yes I know, the photo is 180 degrees rotated in comparison the the other picture.) Heroic efforts were made to protect the integrity of this poor molar. Thankfully, I did not need root canal therapy. The tooth was and still is vital.

My dentist and his team are amazing. They provide support and just the right amount of teasing when necessary. I now have a pretty crown on the tooth and the cold sensitivity has been kicked to the curb. Had I waited to have my tooth looked at, it could have been a whole lot worse.

The lesson to be learned from this? If something feels different in your mouth, be it hot or cold sensitivity, or your bite feels outta whack, don’t wait. Get to the dentist. Invest the money and time in yourself. You need your teeth to help you chew and talk and you need them to last a lifetime.

Oh, and floss.

Did someone say hamburger helper?

You are just about to fall asleep when, wham! Your brain finds the most random memory from waaaay back and clocks you upside your consciousness.

Hamburger Helper. image28

Cheeseburger Helper to be more precise.

Approximately one minute away from sweet slumber and that giggling, prancing white catoony glove pops into my mind’s eye. Really? Ugh! Now I can’t un-hear the jingle.

Brain is now in full action mode and I know that sleep has been pushed back on the horizon. My thoughts ranged from fudgesicles to coffee and finally settled back on that boxed Hamburger Helper. How could one make something comparable? Something I will eat?

I tweaked my mac n cheese recipe ever so slightly.img_2649

  • 2 smalls yams (the orange fleshed ones)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken or beef stock (homemade is best)
  • 1 cup Bragg’s nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/3 cup red palm oil
  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk (more depending on sauce thickness preferences)
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce (or other clean hot sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp chill powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Peel and chop the yams into approximately 1″ cubes. Add minced garlic and boil until fork tender. Using either a hand-stick blender (immersion), regular blender or food processor, blend the drained potatoes, stock, nutritional yeast, onion powder, Frank’s Red Hot sauce and palm oil. Slowly add the coconut milk and continue blending.  You want the sauce to be smooth, no tell-tale yam lumps in case you are trying to sneak the sauce past someone who may not be on board with eating a potato-based “cheese” sauce. Add chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

My plan was to brown some ground beef and cook some gluten free pasta and stir this all together to recreate the one-pan meal from the ’80’s. I got as far as the ground beef and had to stop and “sample” the flavour. Needless to say I didn’t get around to making any noodles. Adding some gluten-free pasta would definitely make this go further. Chuck some roasted carrots or parsnips in too for bonus veg factor.  Elbow, penne or shells would lend themselves the best to cradle the sauce.

This is now in heavy rotation in my breakfastimg_2657 world. I’ll add a big dollop on top of my sautéed veg alongside my eggs (yolk running into this is heavenly). I’ve topped roasted brussel sprouts with it. Heating it magnifies the hot sauce (don’t kid yourself – this provides some good sinus clearing action). I’ve eaten it cold as a nacho/notyourcheese dip for chips (both organic tortilla and potato) and raw veg as a snack.

Who am I trying to kid? I’m dubbing this a condiment and it will find itself a staple in the fridge. I have mentioned I like things to be easy in my life. By finding something that will act as a base for many dishes, my life is less complicated and thus allows me more time to binge-watch Netflix.

If you or your loved ones are vegan, skip the beef or chicken broth and add veg stock. Nice easy swap without really changing the overall taste. I just like chicken and beef broth for the nutrient factor from slowly simmering quality bones.

I suspect this would make a comforting soup with a little more stock and perhaps a 1/4 cup of white wine in it to thin it slightly. Top it with some crumbled bacon? Um, yes please. (distracted brain going in yet another direction)

Sing the jingle with me,

“Hamburger Helper (Tuna Helper too) when you need a helping hand”

At what cost, beauty?

We begin our chemical christening at a very early age.

Babies are bathed in what is touted as a gentle, all-in-one wash. Powder and moisturizer to finish the cleaning regime. No one wants a stinky kid.

Clean smelling laundry seems to be a hallmark of good parenting. Our detergents and fabric softeners are scented. Dryer sheets are scented. Look at all the smell choices available to us in the laundry aisle of the grocery store. Go walking outside (especially in the evening) and you can smell/tell who is doing laundry. Those chemical blankets are being wrapped all over your person and your little people.

Now, we’re grown up and we are in control of our own hygiene rituals. We use scented soaps and body washes. There are scented shampoos and conditioners. There are the ever-popular deep-conditioning products to help replenish moisture to our dry, over-processed hair. Like most, we apply a liberal amount of various styling products. Mousse, gel, pomade, hairspray, hair colour and perm solutions (yes some folks still go that route) Slather on some body lotion or moisturizer, scented of course, because your skin feels dry after cleaning it in the shower. Anti-perspirant or deodorant, again, scented, because who wants to smell like a monkey?

isolated-red-lipstick_wprw9pNow comes the make-up. Moisturizer, concealer, foundation, powder, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow pencil (?), eyeshadow, blush, lip pencil, lipstick or gloss and a spritz of perfume or body spray. Maybe you need to apply your deodorant a second time at some point during the day for the “sure” factor. Perhaps an extra touch of perfume? Before we go out for the night, we definitely redo our makeup and hair.

What little girl doesn’t like to play in mummy’s makeup and perfume? (we won’t even think about pageant or performing kids)

 

Let’s not forget about hand-sanitizer. Scented and unscented, we find it everywhere. Shopping malls, gas stations, public bathrooms, kids play areas, grocery stores, lunch kits, purses, high school backpacks and lockers. We all know an addict for this stuff. This is now frequently replacing hand-washing protocol. People squirt a good blobby dose of this into their hands, rub away and then chow down on the fast-food burger and fries. Mmmm tasty stuff.

We need to wash all that off before we collapse into bed at night. So out comes the makeup remover designed to melt and strip off everything we painstakingly painted on earlier. Finally, grease up with some night cream to combat what we did to our faces during the day. We drift off to try to sleep for the next 6-8 hours in our “outdoor fresh” scented bed sheets. Wonder why you are tossing and turning all night and often wake up with a headache and stuffed nose or sore throat?

This problem isn’t exclusive to the females. They too are pressured to have nice smelling hair, aftershave, cologne and clothes. Men are exposed to the same chemical onslaught, except most aren’t sporting the same makeup as the ladies.

Remember the revolving door analogy for our skin? All the harsh chemicals in each of those products are transported into our bodies. This chemical storm goes on day in day out. For years. One can’t help but imagine of the cumulative effect of these ingredients in our cells. How can our bodies even begin to battle the chemical warfare we willingly wage? Layer upon layer of toxins are applied to the largest organ of our body. (this doesn’t take into consideration our food choices and what we shovel inside our bodies either) And we wonder why we are getting sicker and staying sicker, longer. Feeling crappy is common. Headaches and stuffy noses are just part of being human these days.

Parabens and phthalates are known endocrine disruptors. Hormones are delicate enough, they don’t need to be assaulted by these things. Sodium laurel/laureth sulfates are common allergen triggers and irritants. These are found in our shampoos, body washes and cosmetics. The best part? They are allowed in our products. Wow.

Be aware of what you put ON your body, the bodies of your loved ones. Read your labels. Make conscious, mindful decisions of the personal care products you choose to use on yourself and your loved ones.

Oh, and if you are that bent on the smell of outdoor fresh laundry? Hang it outside to dry.

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Saying farewell to sweet Fudge

Caring for another creature can and should humble you.

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Sweet Fudge arrived on our street one day. No collar or tags. No readable tattoo in her ear or microchip under her skin. Her ears bore battle scars as did her nose. Her fluffy coat was full of tangles and matted knots that any dreadlocked Rastafarian would envy. (Yes, I know that was profiling, but you get the picture right?)

We asked around the neighbourhood if anyone know who she belonged to. No one knew anything about her. We took her to our vet and learned her tattoo was unreadable. We learned her approximate age and weight. And that she was deaf. Totally deaf as post. We brought her home and had to make a few plans. We informed the neighbours she was deaf and that she wouldn’t hear cars approaching on the street, so could they all please be more aware of her on the road.

We built wooden houses, insulated them and filled them with soft bedding for her to sleep on. Her house was decorated at Christmas and Hallowe’en to match our house. You could hear Fudge snoring when she was asleep inside her cozy abode. My weekly Spud delivery guy was always happy to see her.

She became fiercely protective of our property. Dogs were tolerated as they walked on the road, but if one dared step a toe onto our grass or driveway. . . well, Fudge went into Guard-cat mode. The Chocolate Lab went home with a sliced nose. The Golden Retriever went home with a matching slice. One small white fluffy dog, perhaps a Bichon Frise, decided to come to the front door one Saturday morning and sample Fudge’s breakfast. That little dog made noises no animal could make voluntarily. This fluffy white pup went home pink and red. Fudge let him know whose food he dared eat and it was a lesson not ever forgotten.

We spent hours brushing her coat daily. It was common to find twigs and dead bugs caught up in the fluffiest of her underpinnings. She tolerated the daily removal of assorted bricabrac from her fur. Her personal best, was a branch of a rosebush, complete with a spiderweb and a dead worm all firmly woven into her back leg fuzzy bits.

Her favourite place to sleep was with her head under the Azalea bushes.img_1092

One summer, a young man came to our door selling book subscriptions to pay for his Theology and Religious studies. He was distracted by Fudge with her head hidden under the bush. He kept looking at me and looking back at Fudge. Finally he said “Mum, I think there is something wrong with your cat. She didn’t look at me when I spoke to her.” I assured him she was fine. “No, mum, you don’t understand, she isn’t moving when I talk to her.” I explained she was deaf and then touched her side. She brought her head up so quickly, she knocked flowers to the dusty flowerbed. I told him how Fudge came to live with us and how it isn’t my place to turn my back on a creature in need. She may have been a Queen in a former life and it was my job to care for her now. He stopped his speech about religion and shook my hand and thanked me. His eyes were wet and he bent down to nuzzle Fudge before going on his way.

Over the years, we noticed her fluffy coat was getting more and more tangled. She seemed unable to keep herself well groomed. There often were bathroom cling-ons stuck in her fur. We had to help clean these from her coat. From time to time, we needed to wash these southern parts with warm water to remove the dried matter. She was less tolerant of our brushing sessions. We opted to get her a haircut. A Lion-trim to be more precise. Well, that was revealing to say the least.

Upon her haircut, we noticed she was thin. Really thin. We asked for a check up. Her blood work came back revealing she had kidney disease. The vet gave us many scenarios we could explore. She said Fudge could last anywhere from weeks to maybe a few months with a diet change etc. There were also some far more involved options too, if we wanted to investigate those. We chose a food change. We told all the neighbours she was on a new diet and to please not feed her anything. Fudge was known for seeing what was for dinner at the other houses on the street.

She didn’t care for the food switch. We tried every brand, every formulation of food that was designed for kidney issues in cats. She turned her scarred nose up at every single offering. So, now what? Quality or quantity? Give in and let her eat what she wanted or feed her what she didn’t want, and therefore left untouched?

We moved her bed into the garage, installed a space heater for her and fed her what she wanted. She ate happily. Then, one day, she had the look in her eyes.

I’m done.

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We brought her and her litterbox upstairs and made her a spot to sleep on the bed. Fudge no longer had the sweet smell of happy kitty. She was instantly sour and acrid. Her fur, once soft and luxurious to brush, was cold and greasy feeling. We called the vet in the morning.

They accommodated us first thing. The vet explained they would try to find a vein, but in the state she was in, it may be difficult. She wrapped Fudge in a blanket and took her to the back. They emerged a few minutes later, the vet smiling with relief as they were able to find one. (the alternative is to apparently go directly into the heart and not pleasant for family to watch) We held her fuzzy hand as she slipped away. She seemed to smile as she left us.

We miss sweet Fudge more than she can ever know.

Let’s talk about love

Love.

I’m not talking about the Hallmark stuff. I will not be running out to buy a card which would sit on the table or mantle for a week and then get environmentally put in the recycling bin. My family knows I’m not the card type.

Love is in the small things you do everyday. Love is not February 14th. Love is getting out of bed early on your day off and making coffee and breakfast without hesitation. Love is putting the lid down on the toilet. (this also ends the seat up/seat down debate once and for all)  Love is rubbing someone’s feet or shoulders after a long day at work. Love is filling up the gas tank. Love is making someone’s favourite meal and doing the clean up. Love is a walk. Love is silence. Love is giving away the last cookie. Love is understanding and supporting those around us daily. Love is a journey. Love changes along the way. Love can be for a pet. Love can be for a sibling. Love can be for a significant other. Love can be for a child. Love can be for a parent. Love is vital for yourself. Love overlooks the little things. Love understands we are all different. Love supports the honest endeavours of those around us, even if those trials don’t align with our own views. Love doesn’t mock or belittle. Love embraces and nourishes. Love teaches. Love crosses time and space. Love is global. Love isn’t a card.

Love yourself. Love your family. Love your home. Love your environment, your planet.

Love yourself. Feed yourself well. Good, healthy food. Real food, things you can pronounce. If it has more than four syllables and isn’t cauliflower or romanesco, you probably should skip it. If it was created in a factory, again, you probably should give it a wide berth. The best stuff to nourish and love your precious body with should be recognizable in it’s natural form. Don’t eat “food-like” products. Love yourself better than that. Don’t smoke. Really, don’t do it. Feed your brain. Read. Read for fun. Read to learn. Learn something new everyday. This helps you grow. Laugh. Smile, it’s good for your heart and soul. Rest. Protect your quiet time. Practice deep breathing. Sleep in a dark room. Take time to your own thoughts. Move daily, be it a walk, 8 kilometres on your treadmill, kickboxing, dance lessons or tai chi. Don’t lose sight of your own importance.

Love your family. Put down your phone. Turn off the screens. Put a timer on the router to turn the internet off while you sleep. (no more kids up all night glued to devices.) Read together. Be together. Go out together. Create memories. Too quickly, we get older and our lives take us places other than where we want to be. Talk. More importantly, listen. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from others. Eat at the table. Be the one to offer to pick them up late at night. You’ll sleep better knowing they are safe. Bake with little ones. Give children and teenagers basic cooking lessons so they aren’t condemned to a life of eating Ichiban-style noodles and macaroni and cheese when they move out of the house. Embrace the mistakes and revel in the successes. Plan meals. Everyone makes one meal suggestion. Have dinner for breakfast. That age old question of “what’s for dinner?” will become a thing of the past. Plan, prep and portion your meals on your day(s) off. If you do this, when you get home from work during the week, you just pull out your prepped meals and heat them up. That extra time can be spent doing something important, like reading with a child, walking the dog or meditating. Planning your meals also cuts down on wasted food. You plan your meals, you shop for what you need, (fewer impulse purchases of the warehouse sized jar of pickled banana peppers ’cause you were hungry), and you use what you buy. Get the whole family involved in the planning and prep stages. Shopping online also makes it easy for everyone to help shop without having a meltdown in the cookie and sugar-coated cereal aisles.e5fa0-honest_labels_600

Love your home. Open the doors. Get fresh air inside your home. Declutter. Do you really need that nic-nac? Probably not. Make your purchases count. Invest in real furniture and basic pieces. It will last longer, look better and likely won’t end up in the landfill in two years when the leg breaks or the “wood-like” paper finish peels. Stick with simplicity and your furnishings won’t be out of style. Take pride in your home. Have pictures that make you smile. This is your castle, your sanctuary, be it a 4,000 square foot mansion or a mobile home on a rented trailer pad. Pick up any garbage that blows on your yard. Have pride in your home. Once you close the front door, this is your safe place. Your haven. Keep it clean and keep it safe.

Love your environment. Love your planet. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Take your shopping bags with you to the store. Take your reusable mug to Starbuck’s, David’s Tea or Timmy’s or wherever you get your caffeine fix. Think twice about fast food. Think about the garbage generated from that convenient meal. (remember when McDonald’s had styrofoam containers for their burgers? We’ve come a long way, but the road stretches out far ahead of us.) Pack a lunch in reusable containers. Buy local. A local farmer or artisan feels the impact of your dollar more than the big chain stores. Your purchase can be a difference in his or her livelihood. Your dollars stay closer to home in your community. Buying local allows the farmers and artisans you support, to employ other workers, which in turn reinvests those dollars back into the community. Staying local also can reduce the global shipping of consumer goods. We all know this is better for the environment. Know where your purchases originate from. If you can, choose Canadian made goods. Let’s cut down on as many imports as we can. Turn out the lights when you leave the room. Turn the heat down when you go out or go to bed. Put a timer on the furnace. This helps keep the dollars in your pocket. If you need to use the dryer, use dryer balls instead of liquid fabric softener. They are less expensive, and there are fewer chemicals going down the drain. Sunny day? Put the clothes on the line to dry. Let Mother Nature help with the laundry. Plant flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Don’t use pesticides. Embrace the odd weed in your yard. Grow some vegetables, fruit or herbs if you can. Chilly? Put on a sweater or cuddle up under a blanket. Blankets are far cozier when shared with someone.  Mend your socks. Use your buying power to state that you want local and sustainable goods. Catch and release spiders and flies who accidentally find their way in your home. They too have important jobs outside in this big world. It’s all about love. Love is, indeed, a many splendored thing.

Love.

Maybe The Beatles were right.

All you need is love.



Do you swear to tell the tooth?

 

What’s the big deal with baby teeth?

Baby teeth come with many names. Milk, deciduous, primary  all mean the same set of teeth. The teething guidelines below, vary with every child. Some kids will be later than these posted ages and some with be way ahead and have a full mouth of chompers by their first birthday. I’ve seen 9 year old children with all of their permanent dentition with the exception of wisdom teeth. (I can’t help but think the trickle down effect of the foods we eat plays a major role in the eruption of kids teeth today. All those hormone infused foods have an end point don’t they?)teething chart.png

You may be thinking, kids lose these first teeth so what’s the big deal about taking care of them?

  • S/he doesn’t like it when I brush her/his teeth. So? Get in there and do it. You can make brushing fun. If they start screaming and crying, well, you have better visibility now don’t you?
  • Who cares if they get a cavity? Pull it out. That’s an easy and cheaper fix than having a filling done. No, be responsible and get the tooth repaired. Cavities hurt, can make eating painful and also give nasty breath. Do you really want those things for your precious little one? (Please don’t threaten your child with a trip to the dentist if they don’t behave. This does not serve any purpose other than vilify the people who are there to help. Dental environments can be scary enough on their own, with the weird smells and sounds, without a parent filling a little mind with terrifying images.) Decay in a baby tooth can also affect the permanent tooth waiting to erupt.
  • What if a tooth gets knocked out? Another tooth will grow in to replace it right? Well, yes and no.

Yes. In the right circumstances, an adult or permanent tooth will take the place of the shed baby tooth. If you are lucky, it erupts into the correct position in the mouth. Hooray!

No. Sometimes Mother Nature throws a curveball your way and simply does not form an adult tooth under a baby tooth. Seek the opinion of an Orthodontist. Not a general dentist who also does braces. You want a specialist for this job. This may involve having the baby tooth removed and spaces closed or keeping the primary tooth as long as possible and preparing for a dental implant once growth is complete.

Yes. The permanent tooth will erupt either in front of or behind the baby tooth providing you with a shark-look (rows of teeth). This could possibly lead to some crowding out of the adult teeth. You may need the baby teeth removed to help with this scenario.

 

No. There may very well be an adult tooth lurking under the gums, but for some reason, it has decided to grow in a different location. (picture Bugs Bunny tunnelling underground and arriving inthe middle of a bullfight, expecting to find himself at Pismo Beach, “I knew I shoulda taken a left turn at Albuquerque”)

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Teeth can be impacted in the roof of the mouth, causing damage to the roots of the surrounding teeth. Sometimes, teeth can fuse themselves to the jawbone and will not move up and into occlusion. This is called an ankylosed tooth. These cases are best handled by an Orthodontist as well.

 

Mother Nature designed our baby teeth to act as guides for the permanent teeth. In an ideal world, the adult tooth erupts directly below the baby tooth causing the root to resorb. As the permanent tooth moves toward the gum line, the baby tooth becomes loose and is shed. The adult tooth shouldn’t be far behind the baby tooth falling out. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, (many a trampoline can boast of claiming a tooth or two) it is important to preserve that space to prevent a loss of arch length and the subsequent crowding. You may be thinking the holding appliance the dentist recommends is just a money grab. No, it’s not. Holding appliances serve a great purpose and not just to pad a wallet. They maintain the space to allow the permanent tooth the best chance to erupt where it is supposed to. (think of saving a place in line at the movies for your friend)

Both the Canadian and American Orthodontic Associations recommend an early assessment by a certified Orthodontist around age 7.

  • Why see them so young? Some bite issues and habits can be corrected and modified during a child’s growth.
  • Why an Orthodontist and not my regular dentist? These women and men have had several years of education and training, specific to orthodontics, in addition to their regular dental degree.

Initial consultations may involve a Panorex x-ray. Regular bite-wing x-rays (the ones taken at the check-up and cleaning appointment) do not provide all the necessary information about what is happening in your child’s mouth. This image is a fantastic diagnostic tool to alert you of missing teeth, extra teeth (yes, that can happen) ankylosed and impacted teeth.

We’ll chat more about teeth and how they fit together another time.