Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Thoughts: On Self-Reflection & Recovery.


As part of recovery, I've been working a lot on self-reflection; really listening and being attentive to what my body is feeling and what stimulus or sources cause those sensations. Like myself, you might have assumed that concussion is a strictly physical injury. Well, I'm here to tell you that if you should ever be diagnosed with a concussion there is a high likelihood of emotional symptoms as well. In my case, and typical of many others, I experienced mood swings, anxiety, irritability and dealt with depression.

At the beginning of my injury I couldn't do much more than lay in bed without getting intense headaches, light-headedness, dizziness, and nausea. I had light and sound sensitivity, couldn't read or focus on detail and had a hard time generally moving and focusing on any one thing. Multi-tasking has always been an integral part of my functioning and suddenly I could only draw my attention to one single thought or idea at a time. Driving created a terrible cocktail of symptoms and was to be avoided. Most of the time these feelings would lead to panic (will I ever be able to function typically again?), usually accompanied by anger (this is such a simple task that I've done a thousand times, why is it so hard?!), and finally the general apathy, sadness and defeat as I'd retire to the couch with an eye-mask for a few more hours sans stimulus.

The best way I've found to describe the experience of recovery is kind of like restarting and recreating your daily routine. This meant, "reprogramming" my brain in a way so that it was no longer in a protective state and therefore creating symptoms. I've been working with medical doctors, a chiropractor, a physiotherapist, a massage therapist, and an optometrist over the last 3 months in order to get my variety of symptoms in check.

I'm happy to say that each day is getting better. This is all I can ask for, and something I'll gladly accept and show gratitude for. There was one point about a month in where I had made a lot of progress and then suddenly lost it. I was back two weeks in recovery, and was unable to do tasks that I had once reintegrated and done with ease. This was the hardest part. This part of the journey brought along a new companion: fear. The only thing my doctors and I could find as a cause was that I had just tried to move too fast literally and figuratively. Although I was following my prescribed activity levels and exercises, I had over exerted myself and my brain had something to say about that.

There are thousands of studies that exist about support systems and how they can effect someone's resiliency, recovery, and overall well-being. To imagine doing this without my family, husband, friends, and colleagues is unfathomable. I'm sure it wasn't easy for you either, and if I haven't already I'd like to take a second to apologize if you've had the joy of seeing some of my less than appealing emotions, but also thank you for being there despite them. Throughout this whole process I've had friends and family recommend doctors and therapies to me that have really helped get me to where I am.

I continue to see a physio and RMT weekly and have lists of vision, balance, and strengthening exercises that I go through daily. I've rekindled and grown my love for yoga, which has admittedly become a huge part of my days and my recovery. I've also been told  to go for walks and finally jogs (head permitting) as much as I want so if I'm not home, you'll probably find me and koda up on the creek banks. I'm beginning to reintroduce activities through my creative work, and it feels good. Every day is a new adventure and some days I make it further down the path than others, but at least I'm moving forward. I tell myself to "do good things" in the broadest sense because deadlines and timeframes are still a struggle if I truly listen to my body and stop when it tells me to.

On that note, I can feel my shoulders coming up to my ears, my neck getting stiff and my eyelids involuntarily wanting to shut; this means it's time to quit, take a break, breathe, exercise and try again later. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'll be sure to do it in my own time. Although, I do pray that my timing coincides with the academic calendar so I can be back in the classroom this September.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Recipes & Ramblings: Vegan ravioli and taking care of me.



One thing that I've learned recently is that if I want to feel good I need to take care of myself. Over the course of recovery I've started to notice how certain foods effect my body, my anxiety levels and my overall functioning. I tried not to listen, but worst of all my body has rejected two of my favourite beverages: alcohol and coffee. But, it's worth it to feel like my head is screwed on straight. One day I'll be back on the margaritas and Starbucks.

As part of my intention to honour my body by filling it with good things I've decided to accept my lactose intolerance. This is really an easy choice seeing as both Jeff and myself don't digest dairy so well. Tonight's lactose-less dish was Thug Kitchen's creamy ravioli with house marinara. Although, admittedly, it wasn't exactly like it's real cream counterpart, this ravioli was a great substitute! Next time, I'd like to get some interesting local mushrooms to add to the filling. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the full recipe to share online but if you're looking for vegan recipes I highly recommend Thug Kitchen!

Another small victory today came in the way of completing my first 5k walk/run. I've been walking almost everyday and each time the itch to move a little faster got worse. Today, I scratched the itch and I feel good.

Every day I seem to feel a little more awake, a little more like myself and a little more able to function. I'm so grateful for progress, beautiful weather and for good food.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Bird's Nest Orange Carrot Cupcakes for Easter

I think I might be getting a little too into cupcakes.... oh well! For easter with the family this year I offered to make carrot cupcakes. Why carrot? because that's what the easter bunny eats, duh. Now, I got myself into a little pickle and got two different recipes then couldn't decide which one to use, so obviously I made both! Here's the first recipe. 

A huge thanks to my (future) mother-in-law Renee for sharing this amazing recipe with me! 


Orange Carrot Cake  

INGREDIENTS

Makes 24 cupcakes

Cake 
3 cups All Purpose Flour 
2 cups sugar 
1 cup coconut 
2 1/2 tsp baking soda 
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp salt 
2 cups (4 medium) shredded carrots 
1 1/4 cups oil 
2 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp grated orange peel 
11 oz can (1 cup) mandarin oranges, undrained
3 eggs 

Frosting 
8 oz package cream cheese, softened 
2 tbsp margarine or butter melted 
1 tsp vanilla 
3 cups powdered sugar 
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional) 

Toppings 
2 to 3 cups sweetened coconut 
72 mini eggs 

INSTRUCTIONS  

Cake
Heat oven to 350 degrees farenheit 
Grease (not oil) 13x9 inch pan OR prepare two cupcake tins with liners 
In a large bowl, blend all cake ingredients; beat two minutes at high speed 
Pour into greased pan 
Bake at 350 for 45 to 55 minutes OR 15 to 20 minutes for cupcakes; until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean
Cool. 

Frostings
In medium bowl, blend all the frosting ingredients except the nuts; beat until smooth. 
Spread over cake OR use a piping bag to ice cupcakes
Sprinkle with nuts if desired 

Toppings 
Spread coconut evenly over a baking tray 
Bake at 300 for 5 to 10 minutes; keep a close eye on it as it will burn quickly 

The Assembly: Ice the cupcakes making sure there's a little extra on the outside edges to help make your nests. Sprinkle the cupcakes with toasted coconut. Place  3 eggs in the centre of each cupcake and voila! 

Tips & Tricks: I left out the grated orange peel, still delicious. Also, use a food processor to shred your carrots! So quick and painless. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Yummy Rolo Cupcakes

In my last placement every Thursday was pot luck, aka my favourite way to eat. I was nominated to make dessert and I remembered I had this super awesome giant cupcake holder, so obviously my first choice was to make cupcakes! But what kind? After scouring my cupcakes board on Pinterest and remember my favourite chocolate bar I decided on Rolo Cupcakes. 




Makes about 24 cupcakes
Ingredients

Cupcakes

2 cups flour
¾ cup cocoa 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup full fat mayonnaise
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups freshly brewed coffee
3 packs (about) Rolo chocolates - chopped 
40 (about) caramel candies (like chewy caramels)
Mini Rolos for decorating

Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Icing

I barely had enough to ice all of them, I'd recommend a double batch if you plan on using lots like I did.
1 cup softened butter

3 1/2 cups icing sugar

dash of vanilla extract
dash of cream
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup melted dark chocolate - cooled but still runny


Instructions 

Cupcakes 
Preheat oven to 180' C / 350' F .
Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl except for the freshly brewed coffee and mix on high speed until combined
Add the coffee bit by bit until it is all mixed in
Add the chopped up rolo chunks and mix
Fill some prepared cupcakes liners so the bottom is covered
Drop a single caramel candy the cupcake liner so it sits on top of the cake mixture
Cover the caramel with the remaining cake mixture but be careful not to over-fill (¾ way is perfect!)
Bake for about 20min. (I usually check after 15 min and take them out at about 18min)
Let them cool completely before frosting them

Frosting
Caramel Drizzle 
Make sure it isn't too hot or it'll melt the icing! 
And that's it!! Enjoy some delicious, chocolatey, chewy, caramely cupcakes. They we're a huge hit in the staff room, I had NONE to bring home and a few requests to bring in the recipe to share!
The original recipe I adapted this from can be found here at Bits of Sunshine. 

In an electric mixture, mix butter and icing sugar until smooth and fluffy, adding the cream bit by bit until a nice smooth piping consistency is reached.
Add the vanilla essence and mix a bit more
While the mixer is running, slowly add the chocolate and beat.
Ice your cooled cupcakes as you wish!

Melt the rest of the caramel candies using a double boiler and add 1-2 tbsp of cream, when the consistency is runny enough drizzle over frosted cupcakes.




Saturday, 2 November 2013


You snuck up on me there. 
I love a new month, it's like a little restart. The best part about this month? One more month until the most wonderful time of the year, December.

I think it's beneficial to set goals for yourself, so with a new month comes some new goals:

Take more pictures
Stay on top of school work
Start "shredding for the wedding" 

Monday, 30 September 2013

Goodbye my love!


Welp, one of my best friends has just left for a new adventure in Alberta! I'm incredibly happy for her, but also sad (obviously!). 

We've gone to elementary, high school and university together, so here's some gems I've found from those times! 

In honour of her departure a few of us got together for some apple juice and delicious lasagna. Nothing makes me happier than getting together with some good friends. Too bad it was a rather depressing occasion, for the record I only cried once. 

I'm sure she'll do great in Alberta, and I'm so happy to call her one of my best friends and now bridesmaids... but's that's another post.

Friday, 30 August 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

BACK TO SCHOOL. 

Call me crazy, but I absolutely love back to school time! This really validates my choice to become a teacher. Although, when I'm the one doing the teach I have a feeling I might not enjoy it that much.... But until then I'll enjoy the crap out of new binders and making lunches. 

This year I'm going to be commuting to school and living and my parents house, nothing like saving a few (hundred) bucks a month. This being said, back to school this year is a little more... intense. I'll be leaving my house early every morning, driving an hour, and coming back later that night. That means I can't forget things, I can't be last minute, I better pack enough food and make sure I have breakfast... you get the idea. I'll be heading into the faculty of education so my time will be split between university classes, and high school placements..

So, here's some of my student/teacher must haves and tips for the academic year! 


You might have to pee every hour, but if you're allowed to leave class this often do your best to drink tons of water and tea. I always bring a giant reusable water bottle that I can refill, and my favourite tea mug for a morning green tea pick me up. This year I'm using a 32 oz. pull top bottle from Victoria's Secret PINK. I've also still got my favourite Teavana Contour Tumbler, I shit you not it will keep your tea hot for hours! Seriously, I need to leave the top off to let it cool down so I can actually drink the contents.  


Get a planner and stay organized! I chose one small enough to fit in my purse, but size doesn't matter. It's what's on the inside that counts. I prefer to have a monthly calendar and a section for everyday. This allows me to see the whole month at a glance, as well as plan my days out. Colour code everything! I have so many highlighters and tabs it's ridiculous, but I love it. I actually went out and bought new markers just so all my classes could have their own colour for coding (I'm a little obsessed). I also use iCal on my computer to write down all my classes, under the "notes" section I write what I have to complete for each class. I use "all-day events" to mark any big projects, tests, essays, or quizzes I might have due so they stand out. Do I even need to mention that it's obviously colour coded to match my markers? I bought my planner at Target, other good options are Chapters/Indigo and Staples.



Feed your brain, and your belly! Make good food choices. This can be one of the hardest parts of being on campus for long periods. I mean, Pizza Pizza is just two steps away and they have a buy one get one free deal this week.... and all semester. Don't give in! Pack lots of healthy snacks and meals that you enjoy eating and will look forward to. In the long run your body and more importantly your brain will thank you for giving it the nourishment it needs to make you look and feel good. I'm hoping to keep you posted on some of the lunch ideas I come up with during the year. But until then, here are some of the sites that I go to for inspiration. 100 days of real food is a mom trying to feed her family good, clean food. She posts tons of her girls lunches! Another site that has tons of recipes is undressed skeleton, she has hundreds of meal and snack ideas. More recently she's moved on to offering clean recipes, which is great! When in doubt I think leftovers make the best lunches though. I just ordered these EasyLunches Bento Boxes from Amazon and am beyond excited to try them! Another staple of my lunches are Annie's Cheddar Bunnies and Gummy snacks. They're a great little treat, are easy to grab on the go and don't have buckets of chemicals in them.
Oh ya, one more thing, maybe the most important food tip, EAT BREAKFAST. Please, just do it. I'll come at you later with what I've been doing for quick on the go breakfasts. 

Most of all, enjoy it! I always hear people saying high school/college was the best time of their lives... I've also heard the opposite. Don't fixate yourself on the though that you should be having like, the best time ever... enjoy what's in front of you and make yourself happy! 

PS - I'm just going to pretend I never left the blogesphere, even though it's been months... okay, all summer, since I've posted. Now that I'm starting a new routine I'm hoping to include blogging into the mix again! I've missed it.