Afer a long cold grey winter, it’s so tempting to get carried away with all the pretty spring flowers. Trouble is, tulips and daffodils don’t last very long. I adore the look of blue hydrangeas, but temperature fluctuations at this time of year mean they often die. I’m a gal who needs bang for her buck. So, if I’m going to spend anything, I want to enjoy my plant containers for months instead of weeks. That’s how I justify splurging on winter and summer pots like the ones I’ve shared with you on this blog. So, the only time I ever go to the effort of making spring planters is if they can be cheap and/or easy (prefereably both). If you want more fab photos and info on the elements I used, click ‘continue reading’ (below). Or, if you just want to see the video demo of how simple these babies are to make, here’s the link to michelleswalnutkitchen easy spring planter demo. Continue Reading
Along the route of my first half marathon May 2016
CAN EXERCISE BE MORE THAN JUST A CHORE YOU DO BECAUSE IT’S GOOD FOR YOU?
As I see it, life’s activities fall into 3 categories:
1) Things you love to do
2) Things you do because you have to
3) Things you do because they’re good for you
Things you love to do
For me, that would be the combo of binging on something salty, red wine, and Netflix (in my PJs).
Things you do because you have to
Anything involving food on the table and a roof over your head. That would be: working, paying the bills and cleaning the perpetual trail of dishes, towels, and socks that is my teenager’s trademark. You should see his biohazard site bedroom!
Things you do because they’re good for you
Now here’s where it gets a little more complicated for me. Sometimes I find it hard to discern between the stuff I force myself to do for the right reasons – because it’s good for me – and things I legitimately shouldn’t do because I simply don’t like doing them! I practically break out in hives before doing new, unfamiliar and seemingly unpleasant things.
We can’t JUST do the things we are good at
So, when do I give myself permission to say no? Not that often. Why? Am I a masochist? -Maybe. My honeymoon in India and my yearly canoe trips with the girls are prime examples of things I did/do because I’m ‘supposed’ to enjoy them like most normal people do.
Camping camel trip in Rajasthan- not your average honeymoon!
Canoeing with ‘the girls’
…a yearly camping tradition
In retrospect, what I dread doing often turns out to be fun, enlightening and gratifying. Upon reflection, what I imagine in my head, isn’t usually as scary or uncomfortable as I think it will be. Let’s face it, growing and evolving is better than remaining stagnant…(for a whole lot more on that topic, check out my ‘Reinvent Yourself’ series) And that, my friends, explains why I often torment myself.
So, knowing all that about myself, I especially try not to listen to the inner dialogue when it comes to exercise because I know I just have to get it done. Yah, it’s good for you. But I still don’t like it, so the faster I can get it over with, the better. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things that get me off my butt and out the door…maybe they can help you too:
Food & Vanity
For as long as I can remember, my motivation to exercise was to be able to eat. I hate depriving myself in the food department but I still want to be able to zip up my jeans! This is where vanity comes in. Never underestimate the importance of a good form fitting workout outfit. 🙂 Sound shallow? It is. But, if I am virtuous enough to get out there and exercise, then I figure I owe it to myself to witness any progress and celebrate hard work by looking in the mirror and liking what I see. (I also happen to like shopping)
Exercise teacher extraordinaire -Barb Rosenberg featured in MORE magazine
Strength In Numbers
Whenever possible, I made an effort to go to the gym in a posse from the office at lunchtime. I knew I needed the ‘group guilt’ to get me out there. Plus, misery loves company. My first exercise ‘community’ was weekend aerobics at the Dunfield club a million years ago. I didn’t dread going to classes as much because there was something really special about seeing the same familiar faces every week. These were my exercise peeps! Not to mention that the combination of great choreography, fab music and a killer sense of humour made Barb Rosenberg’s classes a fixture in my schedule. She runs her own personal training business and you can still find her teaching at Track Fitness and Ultimate Athletics Club! (check out her Instagram here)
Nothing beats running with my beautiful friend Judy Venis
About a year and a half ago, I decided to take up running. Partly because of Rich Roll, my hero ultra-marathoner and favourite podcast host, but, mostlybecause of my pal Judy Venis. She was already a yogi and untouchable as a cyclist. So, when she decided to take up running, I took note. She is fit, fast and disciplined. I was never any good on a bike, but maybe her new found passion and enthusiasm for running could rub off on me? The added bonus (and my favourite part to this day) is that we would hang out more. So, what the heck, I decided to take it up as well. I knew I was committed when I went shopping for running gear (tip: when you spend some cash, that helps make you accountable!)
My pals at “MBP Run Faster” including coach Lucia Mahoney in the blue on the far left (coach Megan Brown was taking the picture)
I also joined my first half marathon group at the Running Room and then another one called “MBP Run Faster”. That opened up a whole new world of friendship and accountability (shout out to coaches Lucia Mahoney and Megan Brown check out the MB Performance Facebook page here). If you want to be sure you are going to consistently get out there, especially in the winter, join a group. And, when you commit to a race, you have a goal to work towards. So far, I’ve done a couple of half marathons and 10k races and I’m doing the Ragnar Cobourg to Niagara Falls 24 hour relay race at the end of May with my new friends. Races are actually fun!
The ‘original’ Running Room group now led by Julie Snyder and Diane Mirabella (both wearing black hats)
The best part about running is that even though it’s still exercise and a struggle each and every time, I do notice that my body is leaner (not easy at this age!) and I feel really healthy and good.The euphoria, relief, gratitude, pride and a sense of accomplishment when it’s over is amazing and nothing beats the sense of connection you make with people, nature and to yourself.
THE best Mother’s Day on record when my son Alex ran the 10k Sporting Life race with me!
Woody is a wonder dog when it comes to ALL things including being my running buddy
But, even though we’re getting teased with a day here and there, don’t kid yourself… it’s still going to be chilly for the foreseeable future. I don’t know about you, but I’m still wearing my woollies and craving wintery comfort food. So, what could be better to take the edge off a damp, cold, rainy day? A bowl of delicious leek and potato soup. Mmmm…YUM!
Over the last few months, I’ve been producing video demos so you can see for yourself how easy it is to whip up some of the recipes I’ve written about on the Walnut Kitchen blog. I first posted the recipe for this hearty soup in the early days of my blog. (Here’s the link to the full leek and potato soup recipe) Now, if you click below, you can watch the video demo to see how to make it. Let me know if you try it. Or if you have any other soup recipes you love that are perfect for the winter to spring transition, I’d love to hear from you. Happy Cooking!
If you like what you see and you want to be notified when the next video is posted, please subscribe to my YouTube channel called Michelleswalnutkitchen.
Years ago, when I was still working at HGTV, we had to come up with a title for a new craft show. This show was going to blow all others out of the water. It would be unlike any craft show because it had edge. (I know, that sounds a little ridiculous). We all wanted to call it “Craft Addict” but alas, the ‘higher ups’ said no because it was too close, they thought, to crack addict. At least now I can put the term “craft addict” to good use! 🙂 But, seriously, I never considered myself to be a ‘crafty’ type of gal. Far from it! But, as you can see, I got a little carried away with these DIY mason jar gifts. I’m thinking they are going to make great treats for Valentine’s Day!
A while back, when I shared my granola recipe, I included a picture of my go-to breakfast cereal in a mason jar. It was all ‘dolled up’ with some fancy paper and bows. To my surprise, some lovely people actually reached out to say they would pay me to make some pretty mason jars to give away as gifts. How unexpected! How strange… because I think it brought out this dormant crafting bug I think I caught! Oh! Oh! Does this mean I will be scrapbooking soon? Help!
So, off I went to Michael’s to stock up on supplies. I entered another world. I went to town on labels, craft paper, jute twine and ribbon. Made a couple batches of cereal, put them all together and was pretty pleased with the end result. What fun! I thought, “Hey, if I can do this, anyone can”.
So, in case you want to see how easy it is to jazz up a jar to make anything more enticing, check out my DIY mason jar demo (below)! Here’s what you’ll need for each mason jar: craft paper cut into an 8”x 8” square, 30” of ribbon and 1 label.
NOW YOU CAN WATCH HOW SIMPLE THIS BREAKFAST GRANOLA RECIPE IS TO WHIP UP
If you read my homemade granola post a little while back, you know that this recipe is one of my favourites. It’s delicious and healthy -a perfect combo since we are all trying to get off to a good fresh start this month. Watch the video demo (below) and see for yourself that this breakfast granola recipe is also quick and easy. Now, there’s nothing stopping you from making it!
Let me guess. Lose a few pounds….abstain from drinking (for a while)…exercise more….yadda yadda yadda. This is a time for all of us to take our New Year’s resolutions to the next level.
If, like me, (by choice or not) you find your job situation has left you asking yourself, now what? This is a golden opportunity to dig deep and look inside.
Last year at this time, there were many questions I asked myself to help me find new direction. Questions like: What is the ‘one thing’ that everyone says I’m good at? What makes my heart sing? What do I read about most often? What are my passions and interests? Will I still be interested in this particular area six months or a year from now?
When you are asking yourself, “what is my purpose”, go easy on yourself. One of the most inspiring pieces of advice I found is from New York Times best-selling author, wellness advocate and cancer survivor, Kris Carr. She says:
“When our purpose is external, we may never find it. If we tie our purpose or meaning to our vocation, goal or an activity, we’re likely setting ourselves up for discomfort and even failure down the line…Your purpose is actually quite simple, it’s to awaken. To discover and nurture who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level…Your self-worth has nothing to do with your craft or calling and everything to do with how you treat yourself and others.”
Well friends, I think I’ve said all I can say about “reinventing yourself” for a while! I’ll check back in when I’ve made some more progress and my new career path is a little more complete. For now, I will get back to posting recipes and other fun things on Walnut Kitchen. But, I would also love to feature people who have successfully reinvented themselves. So, I need your help. If you have anyone to suggest please e mail me at email@example.com or contact me through any of my social media platforms on my contact page.
Until then, my final words and two best pieces of advice on what I’ve learned on my journey so far, is: First, start somewhere –anywhere. Second, no matter what, always remember to be kind and to love yourself. When you can do that, everything is bound to fall into place.
Happy New Year! Wishing you all health, growth, peace and most of all – to love yourself.
“EVERY FAILURE OR EVERY ATTEMPT AT ANYTHING IS A STEP CLOSER TO YOUR TRUE ESSENCE” -Artist, Julie Piatt
Shooting videos for my YouTube channel- ‘Michelles Walnut Kitchen’
I come from decades of working in a visual medium. So, while I enjoy blogging and how it has helped me become fluent digitally, I don’t just want to write, I want to SHOW and tell. I think that’s part of my ‘ESSENCE’. Another BIG part of my true essence is that I’ve always loved WATCHING people cook. So, why not add a video component to my blog to make the recipes I share come to life? Plus, today the reality is that people are WATCHING more than they are READING. (If you are still reading this, THANK YOU). Continue Reading
THIS is the year to go to the effort. WHY? Because the first night of Hanukkah AND Christmas Eve fall on the SAME night which hasn’t happened in almost 40 years! AND, potato latkes don’t JUST make a decadent side dish, they are PERFECT as the base of a showstopping hors d’oeuvre that I can’t wait to share!
Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. Besides lighting candles for 8 nights, it’s traditional to eat food that has been cooked in oil. Some people eat donuts, and others, like me, go for a more savoury indulgence like potato latkes! Whether you’re an ‘MOT’ (member of the tribe) or not, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t LOVE these babies. They are typically eaten with apple sauce. But I just like them with a sprinkling of salt.Continue Reading
Definition of insanity according to Albert Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Einstein was right. A year ago, when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my career, I decided to stop the insanity in my life. If I was going to move forward and reinvent myself, I had to say goodbye to my old ways and shake EVERYTHING up, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Move your Body, Feed Your Soul & PLAY
I decided to try something I had physically never attempted before. I set a goal to run a half marathon and joined a running group (read more on the merits of that here). I signed up for mindfulness workshops and started meditating regularly (see my post “Meditating on a Smartphone”). For kicks, I started playing Mah Jongg. I rekindled an old interest in knitting and ignited a new one in blogging. I discovered that trying new things is the oxygen that makes me feel ALIVE and excited about the next chapter. Continue Reading
Oprah ended her daily show by saying, “Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t necessarily figured out what my calling is and I STILL sometimes ask myself, “what do I want to be when I grow up”. I don’t think it all boils down to ONE thing or ONE calling. My ‘reinvention’ feels complicated and is DEFINITELY a work in progress.
Hit the Re-Set Button
What I do believe is that we should all be TRYING to figure it out even when the bumps along the road aren’t so big, because we’re always GROWING and CHANGING along with our circumstances.
YouTuber and vlogger Casey Neistat hit the nail on the head when he said, “In life you should only be doing one of two things; the first is figuring out what it is you love, what your passion is and two, is realizing it. And the truth is – very very few people ever do the first thing. Cuz figuring it out is actually much harder than actually doing it.” If you follow Neistat’s advice, we should all be checking in with ourselves every so often – hitting the re-set button. It’s important to ask ourselves if we are happy and love what we are doing so we are being true to ourselves. Continue Reading