Another year, another theme for my blog. I’ve made one major change – at least major for me…the title is still “The Whiz-ard that is Dr. Oz” but the tag is “And Other Stories”. I can’t just follow Dr. Oz’s advice, I mean I’ll still try some of his suggestions, but I have other stories that I would like to tell, and let’s face it, I was cheating a lot. I’d like to do a post and not relate it back to the good Dr. You’ll still get a healthy dose of health, but I also think growing and changing is healthy too so you’ll be getting some non-health related information from me. More Gwyneth blogs, movie recommendations, recipes my way and some inspiring interviews.
Once I decided that it was time to make some small changes, I also had to think of a theme (not a resolution) for my beloved little blog for 2016. I sat on my “What Will Become of Me Couch” and pondered. I lay on my sucky pillow (I’ve had it since I was 2 – I know gross) and had some deep thoughts, then fell asleep. I sat on the subway and felt the earth move, but realized it was just a bump on the tracks. I went to my thoughtful spot and thunk, I mean thinked…oh you know what I mean…
So drumroll (in your head) please…this year will be about CHALLENGES!!! Give me a Kermit the Frog YAY!. Tough audience. Last year was so challenging, that I thought I should put myself through even more! In the words of my muse – I know wrong sex, geniuses – Dr. Oz, I want to eliminate stress by trying new things and challenging myself with things that I already love to do. Some months, I’ll do one challenge, others more. I’ll have several that last throughout the year, and I’d love for you to try them with me and comment on how you are doing.
The first challenge is going to be something that I love to do, big hint it has to do with the picture at the top of my blog. No, I’m not going to befriend a spider – it’s a reading challenge. Reading is a big stress relief for me and I love it so I thought why not start with a reading challenge. I belong to a modified book club at work. Ok, it’s just me and my pal MJack at work talking about books and swapping stories (pun intended) about what we think about them. She has great taste in books and was the first person that I thought of when I was putting Challenge #1 together. I always love her picks and you’ll see them peppered throughout the year so MJack – this challenge is dedicated to you.
The Book Challenge (from several lists but mostly goodreads.com):
I’m going to read the following in 2016 and keep you posted on my progress:
A book about an animal
A book based on a fairytale, myth or folklore
A book based on people from a religious text
A book based on true events
A book considered a ‘classic’
A book considered a ‘modern classic’
A book from a series
A book from one of the “Must Read” lists
A book from Oprah’s book club
A book involving religion
A book involving royalty – a king, queen, prince, princess etc.
A book picked for you by someone else
A book published this year
A book someone gave you
A book that a relative or friend loves
A book that everyone is talking about
A book that you can read in a day – Complete – If I Stay
A book that’s less than 300 pages long – Complete – Where She Went
A book with a cover that drew you in
A book with a creative title
A book with a short title
A book with a title that describes your life
A book with a title that has more than five words
A book written by a politician
A book you borrowed
A book you could use as a doorstop (ie. 700+ pages)
A book you own but haven’t read
A book you would normally read on holiday
A book you’re embarrassed to read in public
A book you’re excited about
A book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
A book you’ve been putting off reading
A classic children’s book
A humorous book
A play by Shakespeare
Yup, that’s right – 35 books in total for the year. I’m an avid reader, but GEE WHIZ that’s a lot. I’ve finished two – but I picked easy reads, because I spent 2015 reading very difficult books including Nightingale recommended by MJack and brutal, End of You Life Book Club which you’ll hear more about, a little bit of Deepak Chopra and other assorted Debbie Downer style books. I’ll give you lists of some of my favourite books, and tell you which you should put down because they suck and never get better. Your welcome! So join me – you don’t have to read 35 books to play along, you can even just send me your recos based on the list above.
Until next time, I remain,
Image courtesy of starbucks.com
I know, I know, I’m late to the party, but I just wanted to add my thoughts to the recent craziness around Starbucks latest holiday design. Umm…can we say, get a real problem? There are people being starving all around the world, there’s homelessness, there are terrorist attacks, there are children being trafficked and abused (at least Jared the Subway guy is safely sandwiched away in prison) and animals being tortured or abandoned and there is Donald Trump! The best that people can do is come together to protest that Starbucks didn’t put a snow flake – a sign of precipitation not Christianity – on it’s cups this year? I would understand the upset if year after year they put the Nativity Scene on their cups – which to me, a Jewish person, is the true meaning of Christmas – but they don’t. I looked back at designs of yesteryear and they included, but were not limited to snowflakes, reindeer, skating scenes, snowmen (or since we are politically correct snow people, snow women or snow people that may be transgendered) and a Christmas ornament.
I wish people a Merry Christmas or best wishes on whatever holiday they are celebrating (I’ve written about this before – remember my rant last year about calling a Christmas Tree just that?). If I don’t know what religion they follow, it’s a generic happy holidays. I believe that people should be able to celebrate whatever they want or not celebrate at all. A coffee cup to me doesn’t signify anything other than a vessel for holding my tall, no foam, skinny vanilla latte (sometimes I ask for it extra hot, because I can). If you followed the true meaning of the holidays then the people so up in arms over Starbucks would spend their $4 on a charity and put their money to better use. If a red and green snowman less cup is your biggest problem, I’d gladly trade you – it’s been a rough year.
Now back to more Oz related pursuits AKA decluttering. I’ve continued the KonMari method outlined in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. I can see why she says it takes up to 6 months – it’s been a huge job. In the last few weeks, I’ve had to go slightly outside of her order – I’m supposed to be working on papers – and moved to CDs, tapes, VHS tapes, DVDs, etc. Worry not, I did still manage to get rid of a big bag of paper (shredded) and a small recycling bin of notebooks and other paper-like sundries, but I still have a bit of ways to go on that project. I did manage to get rid of the following:
- 84 cassette tapes – who needs them?
- 16 CDs – just the ones I never listen to – I haven’t digitized my other CDs yet – that may not happen for awhile
- 3 old VHS movies – I’m going to try posted my Disney movies on Kijiji
- Assorted knick knacks
- More dishes
This week, I’m posted more stuff on Kijiji to see where I net out with the collectibles and I’m going to finish off my papers. Next week, it’s skin cream (easy), make up and accessories. I know – fun times – right? I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but see below for the load from two weeks ago:
Value Village is now the proud owner of 5 more boxes from Casa Schneiderman. In case you are getting sick of my decluttering posts, I know I am, tune in for an exclusive 3 part series with a Dietician. You learn…actually, you’ll have to come back to read more…
Decluttering means saying good-bye to old friends. I’ll miss Melvin, Pookie and Pink Poodle, but every once you have to let go of something that you love to make room for more peace in your life. Ok, that was me trying to be deep. The truth is, Melvin’s sunglasses were falling off, Pookie doesn’t exist and Pink Poodle may be unimaginative, but I’m also the girl that gave her stuffed animals classic names like Teddy, Pink Bunny and Blue Bunny when I was growing up. Nothing wrong with being literal. The stuffed animals didn’t seem to mind. Pink Poodle was given to me by one of my dearest friends to remind me of the time that I gave myself a really bad bang trim. She also bought me a giggling, burping beanie baby that sounds vaguely like me.
It was more than time for me to give away my soft toys to a loving home. It was also time to get rid of dishes that weren’t being used, glasses that were collecting dust and knick knacks that were more nicked than knacked. Where did the 5 cases and one garbage bag of home clutter go? Value Village. I have to say – dropping my old dishes and toys off was an amazing experience – they treat you like royalty. Just stop at the donation drop off entrance and out come a couple of big strong men to take a load off your hands. All I did was point and I got to have everything carried away. All of the proceeds from Value Village go to charity and they help keep your worn items out of landfills. They even take orphan socks – who knew? Check out https://www.valuevillage.com/donate/what-we-take to see what you can donate. Best experience at a charity ever.
In addition to the 2 sets of dishes, dozen glasses, 16 stuffed animals, etc. that left my abode, I also noticed that my building was doing a hazardous waste drop off. I scurried down with 5 cans of old paint. Remember, as freeing as it is to declutter, you also should be environmentally responsible dear readers. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get this little project finished. Next on the list is sorting papers and even I can’t make that task fun and interesting. I may have to combine it with something a little more entertaining…maybe Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest health advice? Stay tuned to find out more.
After reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and learning more about the KonMari method, I have dedicated the next few months to decluttering like I’ve never decluttered before. Dr. Oz and Marie Kondo are both right – you feel less stress when you have fewer items clogging up your life (and surroundings).
As you can see from the above tower of clothing – this weekend, in between outings, I continued to work on my clothes. I’m no longer a smugly mcsmuglord like I was last year. I’ve had to stop saying look how much I’ve gotten rid of you peons and take a really hard took at what I was hanging onto – which Kondo forces you to do. I had t-shirts from university – granted that was only a couple of years ago, because I’m so young, ok maybe more than a couple of years, but I never wanted to get did of them because they represented some of the best times of my life. As I read the book, I became aware that even if the sweatshirt and t-shirts go, I’ll still remember everything. That was also true for some t-shirts that I got on trips when I first started travelling. I never wore the shirts, even when I was younger I knew that they were Glamour Fashion Don’ts, but I held onto them like a dutiful pack rat. I’m happy to say they are all gone, along with a whole bunch of other clothes that fit into 4 garbage bags for donation and 1 for actual trash. For those of you that are curious, and no judgment if you are, here is a tally of my dearly departed clothes:
- 5 coats
- 1 scarf
- 2 pairs of gloves
- 4 purses
- 2 pairs of jeans
- 1 pair of boots
- 1 blouse
- 1 dress
- 1 shawl
- 2 bodysuits
- 1 bathing suit
- 13 camis and tank tops
- 9 pairs of socks
- 26 sweaters
- 22 tops
- 21 t-shirts
- 6 sweat shirts
- 1 belly dancing belt
I didn’t talk to my clothes like Kondo suggests in her book, thanking them for their service. I also played music which she doesn’t recommend. I did enjoy the process and it’s nice being able to see my colour coded clothes (something that I’ve always done) – don’t laugh, it makes life easier. I feel like my clothes can breathe, and that because they aren’t jammed together so tightly, maybe I won’t have pilling on my favourite sweaters. A girl can dream right? I probably didn’t get rid of enough to pare my wardrobe down to KonMari standards, but I’m very happy with what I kept and don’t miss a single item that I threw out or donated.
The next item on Kondo’s list, and I am going in order, is books. I got rid of 29 books in total. Konfession – I still had books from my PR days, a few other text books and a number of books that there was no hope that I’d ever read. All text books are now disposed of – I realized that I thought, perhaps, that I may refer to them, and guess what? They’ve never been opened – they sat on my shelf like sad orphans wishing that I’d sold them to another student.
BIG KONFESSION (spelling intended-it’s a play on KonMari)! I finally realized that I wasn’t going to ever read “The English Patient”. Bigger KONFESSION – I hated the movie. I can admit it now, but way back when it came out, it was frowned upon to not rave about the snore-fest, I mean film. So as a dutiful snob, I went out and bought the book thinking of how sophisticated I’d look reading the book as the weirdo next to me on the subway clips his nails (yes, it happens). More books than I can write about are being donated to my condo’s library and Value Village. I thank them for taking space up on my shelf, but now it’s time to set them free. I feel very KonMari saying that. See below for what is affectionately known as “the pile”.
Until next time, happy decluttering!
Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!
This weekend was a very busy one with Frousin time, Family Thanksgiving on Sunday and Thanksgiving with friends that are like family today. In between, I also had my fifth and sixth driving lessons and have started to take the advice of Marie Kondo – author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
Conquering fears, trying to de-stress and decluttering is really what my Dr. Oz journey has been about this year. Driving is another fear that I am conquering – especially driving in a big city. It’s an adjustment driving again, but every time I get behind the wheel, I feel a little less Miss Daisy, and a little more like I can do this – I can drive faster than 60 kilometres an hour! I can do a 3-point turn! I can drive without running anyone over! I still have a ways to go and need a little more confidence – don’t we all – but I believe I’ll be ready for my road test in December. Wish me luck – or wish yourselves luck if you happen to be a Toronto driver.
In addition to driving, I also have spent a good deal of time starting my next round of decluttering. I know that I wrote many a post about this last year. Like a Smugly McSmug Lady, I bragged about all of the things that I was getting rid of…then I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and realized that my work has just begun. The book divides your home into different categories (part of the KonMari method) and suggests that you tackle one category before you move on to another. You don’t purge rooms – you purge categories. I’ve started with tops, as Marie Kondo suggests starting with clothing and even tells you down to the item, what order you should do this in. Some of her suggestions are hooey – I’m not going to say hi to my home or thank my clothes for serving me, but I do see her point about getting rid of things that you no longer love or have no use for. I also understand her advice about getting rid of things that you may have an emotional attachment to – the memory will still be there, but the item of clothing or knick knack no longer needs to take up space. So far, I have a mouton of clothes, literally, that I’m either going to donate or toss. It’s a lot more than I expected after last year…but it’s been cleansing in more ways than one. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, with photos. Dr. Oz will be very proud of me, and in a weird way, it is relaxing.
As it’s Thanksgiving, I should express some sort of gratitude…but I have to say, it’s been a bit of a challenge this year. I’m always grateful for family and friends, but I think that right now, I’m the most thankful for the life lessons that I’ve learned this year. Right now, the lesson that I’m learning is that it’s ok to get rid of possessions but it’s also ok to keep what you really love. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you are in the process of it yourself.
Did I ever mention that I love to travel? Europe – all of it, is my particular favourite. Sure I’ve been to a lot of other places, but there is something about this little continent that keeps bringing me back for more. Travel for me is pretty stress free (except flying) and lengthy airport stays – a very good thing according to Dr. Oz. Jet lag, on the other hand, can be really unbearable. Part of the issue was that they 6 of us took a 5:30PM flight, not a true overnight flight, and we got into this beautiful city at 6am Dutch time – a recipe for my worst jet lag nightmare otherwise known as #firstworldproblems. There wasn’t much that I could do other than stumble through the day, but me and my 5 other travel companions still managed to squeeze in a lot!
Before I get into all of the great things there are to do, I have to confess, I’ve been to Amsterdam before, in my 20’s. I saw a lot then and that meant I could skip the Red Light District (I didn’t find staring a poor prostitutes fun, even then), the “Cafe’s”, the Rijks Museum and a few other highlights and concentrate on what I wanted to do. Here is a list of what I did if you only have a full day and a half like I did:
- Take a Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour to orient yourself, and to be able to take a nap if you’ve just gotten off of a plane. I totally fell asleep every 3 minutes, but still managed to see quite a bit and get a better idea of where I wanted to go back to
- Take a nap in a well located hotel (we stayed at the Marriot Stadhouderskade – try saying that 5 times 5) and then go for crepes!
- Enjoy a canal cruise – it was a great way to see the City since it has over 100 kilometres of the watery little bodies and it’s a good way of killing 90 minutes
- Go to Vondelpark – very quaint, but don’t spend too much time there – especially when you only have a day!
- Head Museum Quarter – come on, you know you want to take a cheesy picture with the Amsterdam sign! It’s really beautiful – take your time and walk around, we found these weird, yet cute “Hello Bunny” type of statues. It’s a really nice part of the city and great for people watching.
- Check out the Van Gogh Museum, but just don’t be disappointed, a lot of his more famous works are in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris and MOMA in NYC. We went at night and there was a huge line up, but it was still better than going during the day and it takes about 45 minutes to do the whole thing if you aren’t loitering. Not the most exciting thing that I did, but I always wanted to see it….and I did.
- Last, but not least, it’s important to visit Anne Frank House. If you don’t book a tour, you’ll find yourself waiting in at least a two hour line and that’s at 9:30. You don’t want to waste time in line ups, so if you are planning on visiting, PRE-BOOK THIS!!! Different people have different opinions about the museum. Be prepared for two things – there is absolutely no furniture – this was at the request of Anne Frank’s father Otto and you have to be able to go up some very steep staircases that get even steeper the farther up you walk. If you aren’t able to climb, don’t do this tour. The steepest staircase is basically almost a ladder. I still found it moving even though this was my second time. The rooms are big, but they could never open the blinds, so it was always dark – they still have the blackout blinds up. Seeing the diary is also pretty special. Several people though, found the lack of furniture a little jarring, although it didn’t bother me and this was my second time.
I hope you like my day and a half guide to Amsterdam – and I’m not boring, really – I did all of the fun stuff before…in my twenties when it was appropriate! Check out some photos below for your viewing pleasure.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, I made chicken soup. My mother sat in the kitchen and told me what to do, because like most women of a certain generation, they just know instinctively how to cook. They aren’t like me who goes into a tail spin if I lose the recipe. Chicken soup isn’t just a Dr. Oz approved cure for all colds and flus, although he, like many doctors extolls the virtues of Jewish penicillin, it is my all time favourite food. My Bubbie made the best chicken soup, followed by my mother. My grandmother’s special ingredient? Love of course.
I’m here to help my readers, so I’m going to share the secret recipe to the world’s best soup, but unlike most sites, this is for people exactly like me that have never made it before and who need more guidance than professional cooks require. Just a warning, I only tried one spoon of the soup that I made, so I can’t tell you if it’s great or not, but I’ll keep trying until it’s the third best chicken soup around. Nothing can top the chicken soup professionals (Bubbie and my mother).
-2 packages of chicken bones (yes, that means that you may have to head to the butchers or try the kosher meat section of the grocery store – that’s where we picked them up)
-i cube of chicken bouillon cube or half of a small package of it (just enough so that the broth turns a little yellow)
-2 sprigs of dill
-Mirepoix – just a fancy way of saying one onion, 3 stalks of celery and either 3 cooking carrots or 1/3 of a package of baby carrots but doesn’t it sound nice?
-Your biggest pot – I don’t understand quarts – I’m Canadian, but it should be big
Step 1 – Get ready to toss your cookies, because you have to take those UGLY looking bones out of the package and plop them into the pot. Don’t worry – there is plenty of meat on them to make a great broth. I recommend using a knife to cut the packages open so that your fingers don’t have to come anywhere near those bad boys. Plop the two packages of bones in as quickly as possible. Trust me – it’s gross so you’ll want to get it over with quickly. I looked and I shouldn’t have.
Step 2 – Go to the sink, turn on the water and fill the pot up enough to cover the gross bones up really well. Put the pot on the stove on high until it comes to a boil.
Step 3 – Get your mirepoix ready. Wash the celery (I bet some of you think that putting it in the boiling water is enough – it’s not). Cut the stalks in half. Cut the top and bottom of the onion off and peel off the skin. That’s all you have to do – no need to chop it up. If you use baby carrots, just take out a third of the package. If you like manual labour, feel free to peel 2-3 big carrots.
Step 4 – THIS IS A DOOZY – THE GROSSEST PART BY FAR!!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Once your bones have boiled, get yourself a bowl and a big spoon because the most vile, disgusting scum comes to the top of the pot. It looks like foamy brains. You’ll need to skim off as much of it as possible BUT, reduce the heat to low first. I know – I know, it stinks and I almost tossed my cookies, and what’s even worse is that I believe that some people leave it in there. I asked my mother what was in the scum – she told me to stop asking questions that I didn’t want to hear the answer to and to just keep skimming. I did as I was told and got almost a bowlful of that putrid mess out of the pot. I sang “Just Keep Skimming” to Finding Nemo’s “Just Keep Swimming” to distract myself – in my inside voice of course.
Step 5 – Once you’ve finished skimming – pour in the bouillon (or plop it in if it’s a cube). Gently place in the mirepoix that you lovingly prepped (that’s your vegetables if you weren’t paying attention). Lay in the dill (I know it sounds a little pervy, but that’s your dirty mind). Last but not least, put in the salt and pepper. How much? Do a shake, shake, shake (your booty). That’s three shakes of each (make sure it has the top on so that you aren’t pouring either in – you want dashes. Remember novices, you can always season to taste after, but you you’ll have to throw a potato in to absorb the salt if you over do it (I’m not sure if I’m even right about that, but correct me if I’m wrong).
Step 6 – Cover and let it cook for 2.5 hours. Yes that’s right, you have 2.5 hours of free time to do anything that you want as long as you don’t leave the house. I made a honey cake from scratch – that’s a whole other story. It just confirmed what I already knew – baking sucks.
Step 7 – After the cooking time is over, there is still more grossness, but this is manageable. Get a plastic bag and use the big spoon to get the bones out of the soup. Toss them immediately so they don’t stink up the kitchen. Take the vegetables out and puree them (using a hand blender or food processor), and put them back in your soup. Wait until the soup is cool enough, then put into containers to freeze or to have later.
Step 8 – If you are going to eat the chicken soup, let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The fat congeals on the top (it looks like a solid white sheet) and you can skim that off. Also very gross, and also makes me want to toss my cookies, but it you want soup that isn’t greasy, that’s the way to do it. If you freeze it, when it defrosts, the fat will rise to the top and again, skim it off.
There you have it. A step by step recipe – something that I thought that I would never do – ever. The next few will be devoted to my trip, but I wanted to do this while I still remembered.
My love of travel and need to try something I’ve never done before often leads me into situations where I look a little less than coiffed. In fact, I may not even be wearing make up in some cases because it just wasn’t worth it. As some of you who read my blog on a regular basis may be aware, this year, I’ve semi-devoted to facing my fears. No one likes looking like they have a case of the uglies in a photo, but, if you are going to go on a RIB boat at 50-60 miles per hour, let’s face facts, it may not end up being your best hair day (see above for me with dark circles trying not to gag in this musty little number that you have to wear). I have to prove that I did it – so see me getting ready above.
Over the next few blogs, I’m going to regale you with tales of my most recent trip, where I conquered some more fears (the RIB boat included). Even though this is supposed to be all about Oz, I’m sure travel is very healthy for your piece of mind, so I’ll also be sharing some of my other favourite places with you and maybe give you a couple of tips of where to go in some of my favourite new and old cities. And yes, I’ll share even more FUGLY photos like the one below at sea on the RIB. I was terrified, but it ended up being so much fun – I can’t wait to do it again.
I wrote last year that I love travel because every day is different. That hasn’t changed. This time I realized, that outside of getting to the airport and packing, there really isn’t very much stress with travelling – very healthy and Oz approved, don’t you think? Tune in this week to find out more…
I was coming home today on the subway, not always my happy place, when I found myself trapped next to an unusually tall man eating an unusually large meal RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I shall call him Slurpy McSlurplord. On the long journey home, I got to enjoy a meal – his – mostly because I felt that I was eating right along with him. All I heard was SLUUUURRPPPP, SWIIIISHHHHH, PHHHHHTTTTTT, YUMMMM, UM, UGH, OOOGA CHAKA, OOGA Chaka…so I’ve created a little song for the disgust that I felt to “Hooked on a Feeling”:
Deep inside of me
Boy, you just don’t realize
What your slurping noises do to me…
When you hold your dinner
In your arms so tight
You let me know
That your food is all right
I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
That you’re disgusting to me
Chicken and Ribs and Fries as sweet as candy (POETIC LICENSE)
Its stench is on my mind
Boy, you got me thirsty
For another cup o’ wine or Coke or whatever it is you are drinking in my EARRRRR…
Got a bug from you boy
And I’d like a cure
I’ll just stay a victim
Of your germs I’m sure
All the good stuff
In your carry out tray
I feel like I’m in there with you
The stench from your fingers makes me go boo hoo
I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
That good subway manners are a possibility
All the good food
In your take out tray
With your greasy fingers
As shiny as a sunny day
I said I’m hooked on a feeling
And I’m high on believing
That you’ll act politely
I’m hooked on a feeling