An eco-friendly dog birthday party

Yes, you read the title right. An Eco-friendly doggie b-day party happened a few days ago for the Nickster’s 8th birthday.

What made it eco-friendly and why am I having a birthday party for my dog? Good questions.

I’ll start with the why question. I never had kids and totally missed out on the fun of having little rugs rats running around, excited and on over-drive from a chocolate cake sugar buzz. Now that I’m a dog mom, I get to invite my friends over for wine and cake and get to see a bunch of excited pups run around barking and chasing each other. Close enough.

And how did I make my fete eco-friendly? In so many ways that I’m excited to tell you about.

Here are the top ten:

  1. The (super elegant) crystal stemware I used is from craigslist
  2. The beautiful turquoise bowls were from Salvation Army
  3. The chocolate cake was vegan
  4. I asked for the plastic to be removed and re-used when I bought the flowers
  5. I picked some of the flowers from an abandoned lot
  6. The (people) menu was vegan
  7. The only gifts allowed were edible, ie. treats
  8. I asked that guests didn’t use packaging for the gifts
  9. The wine and sparkling wine were local, from the Okanagan
  10. The napkins were from the Salvation Army

And, with all of this eco-friendliness, the party was still very chic, and very easy on the budget. Simple is elegant, easy on the earth and cost effective too. xo

BC Day

Beautiful Pacific Spirit forest.

Our province is on fire with gorgeous forests like this one going up in flames and there’s no end in site. Forest fires are getting bigger and stronger the past few years because of global warming and this tragic situation is making me incredibly sad and anxious.
Humans are heading to the edge of a cliff and we need to decide now if we’re going to save ourselves or topple into the abyss.
What if we all shifted our priorities? Ego and greed could be the first to go. They don’t make anyone happy anyway. What if we made caring for our beautiful earth job one?

Here are a few ways we can do it:

1. Drive as little as possible. Walk (it’s amazing and good for you) or take transit (it’s not that bad. Really. I promise.) instead.

2. Stop eating meat (or eat as little as possible. The greenhouse gasses produced by animals raised for food are astronomical. A side bonus of this is that less animals will be treated cruelly and you’ll look and feel better too).

3. Stop buying a whole bunch of crap oops, I mean stuff, you don’t need. Products made for retail are the 2nd biggest polluters in the world (oil and gas, you’re # 1). Forget retail therapy and get some nature therapy instead. Trust me, it’s way better for the soul.

Do these things and collectively we can all help our beautiful, little green planet re-balance itself and come back to health. As David Suzuki says “You may think that you’re only one drop in the bucket but if there are a million drops, things are going to change radically.” Remember your power in being able to make a positive change and we’ll have this gorgeous province to call home for many more moons.

Relax ~ Reboot 

Last week was a crazy one. You know the kind of week that leaves you with bags under your eyes and knots in your shoulders.

So I decided to treat my tired self to a rejuvenating, relaxing and nature-filled weekend. I dedicated myself to pampering, relaxing and re-balancing for two whole days.

This was on the agenda:

  • A soothing Epsom salt bath
  • Daily walks in a beautiful forest called Pacific Spirit near my home to do a little forest bathing and tree hugging.

  • Leaving my smartphone in a drawer for most of the day
  • Chilling out on the couch reading a really good book
  • Playing with my dog
  • Last, but not least, nourishing myself with yummy food like this:

Watermelon Smoothie

  • 1/2 fresh watermelon, cubed
  • two sprigs fresh mint

Put ingredients in blender, blend until mint is pulverized. Serves two.

Banana Mango Smoothie Bowl

  • 4 bananas
  • 4 mangos
  • splash unsweetened coconut milk
  • shredded coconut

Blend all ingredients together. Top with shredded coconut. Serves two.

The other item on the table is a nut and seed vegan pate served with Mary’s organic, gluten free crackers.

Reboot complete.

Keeping Your Peace

As I read through A Course in Miracles, I notice that a recurring theme is not allowing people or situations to steal your peace. Peace of mind is one of the many goals of the workbook and thinking about internal peace has revolutionized the way I walk through the world and how I show up in my relationships.

In my last romantic relationship peace of mind certainly wasn’t my goal or even a consideration really. I wasn’t happy with how the person I was dating was showing up for me or how I was showing up for him so, instead of realizing that this just might not be a good fit, I put all of my energy into changing him/myself/the relationship with very little success. Trust me when I tell you that this is not a happy or peaceful place to be in. Finally, after two years, I decided to stop focusing on how great the relationship would be in the future when it got better and decided to start focusing on how I was feeling in the present, right now, when I was in his company. And I realized that a low level of anxiety seemed to live in the pit of my stomach when we were together. I felt lonely often as he often created a fair amount of emotional distance between us and my ability to be triggered very easily undoubtedly added to the distance between us.

So, when I finally started checking in with myself and realizing how unhappy I was in the present in this relationship (and the present is really all we have) I couldn’t let the situation steal my peace any longer. The breakup happened naturally and it was drama free. It just didn’t make sense to be together anymore. When you realize that a healthy relationship involves two people coming together in love, with the intention of creating a safe space to help each other heal their wounds and then grow as people, it becomes very difficult to stay in a connection that doesn’t provide those things.

Sometimes we stay with people who are less than optimal for our health, happiness and self esteem because we’re afraid of being alone. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s not to sacrifice your peace of mind for anyone. Being single has its challenges at times but also a wonderful sense of freedom. Being single also gives you all of the space you need to do a little soul searching.

Ultimately I believe that we all have someone out there waiting to meet a partner with our quirks, strengths, sense of humor and our weak points too. And I believe that we meet them when the time is right. I think we all have love waiting for us when we are ready. Our only job is to make sure we are in the right place to be able to recognize this love and in a place to be able to receive it too. And then, we we find it, another adventure begins.

A Return to Love

My cousin was the first one to tell me about A Return to Love about a year ago. At the time, I was beginning to be interested in spirituality but didn’t want to read anything too heavy and certainly nothing that would require me to change in any significant way.

After my cousin’s glowing recommendation, I decided to buy the book and slowly made my way through it. There were things I liked and could relate to and things that I thought “No WAY!” Too idealistic I said. We’re living in the real world. This isn’t doable at all. Also, the ego isn’t a bad thing, I argued with her. Hasn’t the author heard the term “healthy ego”?

The book quickly found a place in the corner of the bottom shelf of my bookcase and life went on.

Flash forward a year and 12 energy healings later. The healings were with an amazing woman named Karen Heywood. Find out more about her here. All of a sudden I found myself craving the words and wisdom of ‘A Return to Love’. I dusted off my copy and opened a page. And, wow, what a different experience. Now Marianne Williamson’s words made total sense. There was no healthy ego I realized as I read the words all over again. Finally I felt ready to learn what this book had to teach me and I couldn’t wait to dive in. When the student is ready, they say, the teacher will appear. In my case, I guess, the teacher will appear again.

I’ll be writing more about this amazing book in upcoming posts but, in the meantime, here are a few of my favourite thoughts and quotes I’d like to share with you. I hope you like (read: love) them as much as I do:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It takes courage…to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.

You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.

Do what you love.
Do what makes your heart sing.
And NEVER do it for the money,
Go to work to spread joy.

May my heart be your shelter, and my arms be your home.

Love in your mind produces love in your life. This is the meaning of heaven.
Fear in your mind produces fear in your life. This is the meaning of hell.

Lake Life in Whistler

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’ and the….

I find myself humming this song every time I visit this picturesque little town surrounded by unbelievable natural beauty.

A day trip to Lost Lake instantly turns me into a carefree soul, happy to laze the day away beside the water while my little dog swims and fetches until he curls up, exhausted, on the beach blanket beside me.

“Dogs got personality. Personality goes a long way.” – Quentin Tarantino

A day spent here also takes me back to the best memories of my teenage years, growing up in lake country in Ontario. A sunny summer day meant putting your bikini on, getting on a rickety old bike, throwing the beach towel and PB and J sandwich in the basket and pedaling down a gravel road to the lake to meet up with friends. Our beach back in the day was a grassy patch beside a dirt road but it was sublime. Days were spent swimming, sun bathing, sometimes canoeing through the thick, beautiful lily pads and always relaxing. No smart phone or internet required.

It was simple and easy and fun and Lost Lake takes me right to that place.

After an afternoon of lazing in the grass and dips in the lake, it’s cocktail hour.

This one is courtesy of Milestones Restaurant:

Ruby Red Mimosa

  • Half glass sparkling wine
  • Ruby red grapefruit juice
  • splash elderberry liqueur

A sweet ending to a summer day.

*To make this drink sugar-free, just skip the elderberry liqueur.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. – Socrates

Cypress Mountain & Nice Cream 

A few photos and quotes from last week’s hike on Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver:

Birds are not meant to be caged. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. – Stephen King

In quietness are all things answered. – A Course in Miracles

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive. – Gilda Radner

Spending time in the forest has always been my yin to the yang of the corporate world. Nothing for me is more soothing and rejuvenating than spending an afternoon surrounded by sweet scented, mossy green trees.

And after working up an appetite on a hike I like to head home to whip up a tasty, sugar-free treat. This recipe is a post hike favourite. It’s vegan, naturally sweetened and uber-healthy with nut butter, dairy free milk and lots of anti-oxidant fruit.

Peanut Butter Banana Nice Cream

  • 5 bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 3 T. peanut butter (or almond butter if you prefer)

Blend together and store in freezer until frozen. Top with your favourite fruit. This one has banana, mango, strawberries and unsweetened coconut. The recipe tastes a lot like ice cream but is so very good for you.

Hope you enjoy it.