My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Roasting your own red peppers

I love peppers but I’m always a little disappointed by those jars of roasted red peppers. They taste oily and flat. I had never bothered to roast my own peppers, despite the fact that it’s ridiculously easy. Then I ran into a situation where my crisper was full of red peppers.

2015-09-23 12.23.29

Did everyone buy peppers this week? Are my cats sneaking peppers into the house?

I hate waste so I decided to roast these peppers and use them up that way. All you need to roast your own peppers are some sweet peppers, a roasting pan lined with tinfoil and a few tablespoons of olive oil if you plan to store your peppers after they’re roasted.

2015-09-23 12.28.44

I began by cutting my peppers in half and removing the stems, seeds and ribs.

2015-09-23 12.30.57

Then I placed them on a foil lined baking tray and baked them at 450 F for 25 minutes.

2015-09-23 13.02.20

Here they are fresh out of the oven.

2015-09-23 13.04.15

I placed them in a heat proof bowl and covered them with foil.

2015-09-23 13.05.01

I let them sit for 30 minutes to cool.

2015-09-23 13.51.50

Once they had cooled, I peeled off the skins with my fingers and was left with lovely roasted red peppers. The flavour of them was so much richer than jarred peppers.

You can use these right away or store them in an airtight container with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil for up to a week. You can put these peppers in sandwiches or salads, blend them into soup, or as I’ll show you in an upcoming recipe, make them into pasta sauce. Enjoy!

Art Assignment 35 Lost Childhood Object

I have always loved the story my mother in law tells about my husband’s Nintendo64. So as kids my hubby Nick and his brother Rory wanted an N64. Their parents said no, citing concerns about unfinished homework and violent games. So Rory and Nick saved their money and secretly bought the system themselves. They hid it in their bedroom closet and only played it when their parents were out.

I wanted to make something for Nick for this assignment but you have to understand that I married an introvert. He loves video games and other geeky stuff but he doesn’t like trumpeting his nerd affiliations. He is the quietest gamer I know. I finally settled on making him an N64 controller cookie.

I used chocolate chip cookie dough, M&Ms, sprinkles, and some rectangles of milk chocolate to make his geek treat.

I began by tracing the outline of the controller on my parchment paper in pencil.


Then I shaped the dough within it.


I wasn’t going to include this photo but it looked so funny when it came out I had to share it with you. I forgot how much this cookie dough spreads. It kind of looks like a sad dog butt with candies stuck to it.


That’s the way the cookie crumbles!


I tried again, this time giving room for cookie spread. I also froze the cookie dough for five minutes after I shaped it.




I pressed the candies into the warm cookie after it finished baking because I wasn’t happy with how the colours seeped into the cookie in attempt one.


I cooled it and presented it to Nick. His response was, “Is that an N64 controller?” Then he devoured it in four bites and told me it was delicious. Well, with that level of success I may make these again sometime. At least if Nick’s mom catches him with these controllers, he can eat the evidence. #theartassignment

Trigger Warnings

Recently, I became aware of a discussion happening online about trigger warnings. Basically, this is a disclaimer given (especially online) that something you are watching or reading may contain upsetting or offensive materials. You can see an online definition here.

The most familiar examples are movie and video game warnings.

However, more and more videos, books and articles now contain trigger warnings. Some professors are even using them in class. See Idea Channel’s video below for a discussion of trigger warnings in schools:

As someone who suffers from anxiety, I wanted to add my opinion here. Please keep in mind that I am only basing this post on my own experiences. I am no expert on media consumption or trigger warnings.

Some people have suggested that trigger warnings are a form of censorship; that they limit freedom of speech and open discussion. I don’t view it this way. My anxiety waxes and wains at different times. Trigger warnings allow me to protect myself. For example, if I am having a high anxiety day, I may head over to YouTube to watch some videos from my feed. My purpose is to watch some engaging content and maybe have a laugh, (note: most of my YouTube subscriptions fall under the comedy or education headings.)

So if I pop over to Laci Green’s Sex+ channel I can view this video:

However, at the beginning there is an annotation that reads, “This episode contains discussion of abuse and suicide.” I appreciate that warning because on days where I am feeling more anxious, I may not want to expose myself to these topics. After all, my viewing purpose that day is to feel less anxious and a full on discussion of these sensitive topics is not going to help. Instead, I may head over to Good Mythical Morning for some lighter fare:

Now, this is not to say that I won’t return to the Sex+ video later. I subscribe to Sex+ because I think Laci’s content is educational and I appreciate her message. I’ll just view her video on a day when I am feeling less anxious and more grounded. Incidentally, those are also the days when I am more open to learning new things and exposing myself to a variety of opinions.

So, do trigger warnings censor discussion? In my opinion, no. I like trigger warnings because they allow creators to show compassion for an audience that may be upset or unbalanced by some topics. Personally, I don’t use these warnings to avoid topics. I use them to gauge my viewing habits according to my anxiety level on a given day.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.


If you have women in your life who you care about, you need to learn a new word – dietainment. Check out the videos from General Mills below:

Girls and women of all ages can get caught up in the entertainment the media has injected into dieting. Increasingly, younger girls are viewing and being affected by these ad campaigns. Think your seven-year-old daughter is too young to be thinking of starting a diet? Think again. There are billboards, articles and videos everywhere urging her to just lose a little more weight, look a little more glamorous, and buy into unhealthy eating habits in the name of beauty. The worst part is that magazines, websites and television shows target the insecurities of women and tell them that if they aren’t actively dieting, they are less than other women. It’s even more demeaning when these marketing schemes claim that women need to diet for their health.

If you want to help, talk to the women in your life about healthy eating versus dieting. Make sure they aren’t falling prey to dietainment. Get rid of the media that promotes dietainment in your home and limit young girls’ exposure to this unhealthy trend in media. Finally, you can visit and sign the General Mills petition to create a world without dieting. I’ve signed and shared this petition and I hope you will too!


Superhero Stance

Having trouble feeling confident or proud? Try adopting the superhero stance. If you stand hands on hips, chest forward and head up, (see the illustration below,) psychologists say it will increase your confidence level.

Recently, I blogged about how I’ve been feeling more confident and proud of myself since stopping my antidepressants. While writing that post, I kept thinking about how awful it felt when my anxiety wouldn’t allow me to be confident about my thoughts or choices.

Then I read an article in Psychology Today about the superhero stance. The article states that this stance projects power and that holding the pose for as little as two minutes to increased confidence in participants. In fact, the research shows that two minutes spent in this pose increases production of hormones such as testosterone, which led to participants experiencing a feeling of power and control.

I think it’s worth a shot. Next time I have to tackle a big project or go into a stressful meeting, I’m going to stand like a superhero for two minutes and see if it boosts my positive thoughts. Feel free to join me, Supermen and Wonder Women.

Chocolate chip meringue cookies

What would you say if I told you these delicious cookies are gluten-free and only 40 calories?

That's what I figured...but I'm not lying. Read on!

That’s what I figured…but I’m not lying. Read on!

I felt pretty much the same way when I read this recipe on Gimmie Some Oven. I generally find that when chefs and bakers try to make desserts healthier or gluten-free, the dishes end up being dry or bland. This is not the case with these cookies, probably because they still have a fair bit of sugar and chocolate in them. The taste is a little hard to describe. Imagine a chocolate chip cookie and a marshmallow had a baby; that’s pretty close.



  • 4 egg whites, room temperature (make sure you do this or your whites won’t whip!)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (do not use regular size chips or they’ll sink to the bottom of your meringues.)



Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer, beat egg whites, salt, cream of tartar and vanilla on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.


Gently fold in chocolate chips by hand until combined. Be gentle as you don’t want to lose the air in your batter.


Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets. I used an ice cream scoop to speed up this part.


Once I had scooped them, I found I needed to sprinkle on more mini chocolate chips to give the cookies a finished look.


Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the cookies are cooked and slightly golden. Turn the oven off, and let the cookies cool in the oven for an additional 30 minutes or more until completely cool. Wait until the pan feels cool to the touch and you can take it out without oven mitts. If you take them out any sooner, they will crack and deflate a bit. You can still eat them that way; they just don’t look as nice. Remove and devour, or do what I did and take them to work.


Who could say no to that?



Get used to being proud of yourself

Since coming off my antidepressants, I’ve being doing really well and feeling much healthier. I’ve caught myself smiling more. When I’ve checked in with my emotions, I’ve been noticing more times when I feel proud of myself. I haven’t done anything mind-blowing lately, but I feel proud of the good days I’m having and how I’m handling stress better than I used to. My transition back to work after summer break was smooth and I’m really enjoying my job these days.

I used to feel guilty about being proud of my accomplishments. I always felt like I should be doing more or that somehow being proud of myself was selfish. As soon as I felt any pride, I would also feel a wash of doubt. Was it really OK to be feeling pride about my small accomplishments? Wasn’t everyone else doing way more than me? How could I be proud of having a good day at work when other people were trying to cure cancer or feed the homeless? Sound familiar.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of yourself. However, everyone, myself included, needs to balance it with some humility. When I say pride, I’m not talking about endlessly talking up your goings-on to everyone you know, or filling your social media with self-important updates. I’m talking about being privately happy with where you are in life and who you are. The only reason I’m sharing my feelings of pride here are because I’ve been surprised by them. This feels like a whole new way of thinking to me.

I guess I’m hoping that by sharing this, you’ll remember to be proud of yourself too. Tackled a project at work? High five! Cleaned your house? Thumbs up! Helped someone solve a problem? You rock! Remember to take a little more pride in all the amazing things you do, be they big or small. I know it’s improved my outlook.

Art Assignment 34 Herethere

So before you look totally confused, this is an unfinished basement ceiling. I used a dolly to move my camera slowly along the floor. I made sure the ceiling joists were not perfectly perpendicular to the camera angle because it created a more interesting piece. #theartassignment


So generally at some point in the summer I take a break from the blog of about a week or so. It gives me time to refresh and think up lots of new ideas to write about. However, I had so much going on this summer that I never really took a break from writing. I just had so much I wanted to share with all of you.

Now I’m beginning to get a bit of writer’s block. Back to school is such a busy time for me and most of the writing I’m doing consists of lesson planning and making assignments. So, in an effort to maintain balance in my life and be kind to my brain, I’m going to be taking the first week of school off from the blog. That means the next blog will publish on September 15th. Thanks for being understanding. You folks are such lovely readers!

Back to School

The summer is winding down so it’s time to get ready to go back to school. I’ve planned my lessons and organized my classroom. I’ve updated my wardrobe and bought a new school bag. I’ve stocked the pantry with healthy school snacks and the freezer with homemade soups and casseroles to ease hectic days.

Think the kids are the only ones who get nervous about back to school? Think again. No matter how well-prepared I am, I never feel fully ready for the first day of school. I still get stress dreams and I’m gnawed away by the feeling that I’m forgetting something. However, I’m not as anxious about it as I used to be. Now I feel more like I’m a performed about to go on stage. I get butterflies but they’re not debilitating.

If you have an anxious child, the return to school can be daunting. I wanted to share some of my best tips for the first day of school:

  1. Make sure your child has the school supplies they need. Contact your child’s teacher or school if you aren’t sure what to get. Get your child excited about picking out their new lunchbox or some pencil crayons just for them.
  2. Do not focus on worse case scenarios. These tend to start small, (what if no one sits with me at lunch?) and build to catastrophic, (what everyone hates me and I never make friends?) Instead, talk about the positive parts of school. Remind your child that it’s normal to feel nervous but that school can be a lot of fun if they’re open to the experience.
  3. Remind your child to say please and thank you and be kind to everyone in their class, even the teacher. Teachers are people too and we tend to smile more and speak more kindly when students are polite. You would expect no less of your children at home so make sure those good habit make it to the classroom.
  4. Start the day right with a healthy breakfast. Skip the sugar cereal and go for something with protein in it. Continue the day with a healthy lunch, high in protein and low in processed foods. Sugar and preservatives can heighten anxiety, (I speak from experience,) and can set your child up for a mid-afternoon sugar crash.
  5. Plan something fun for the end of the first day. A special meal, an after school snack or just some quality time together is something your child can look forward to all day. Plus then you know you’ll have a chance to discuss how your child’s day went.
  6. Don’t make the last part of summer all about school. Make sure you are balancing school prep time with fun summer time. That’s what I’ll be doing!

Happy end of summer!

Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 193 other followers