My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

Spring Cleaning Week 2

Alright, changing my eating times went well so now it’s time to change what I’m eating. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have a voracious sweet tooth.

This week’s habit was to stop eating sweets…delicious, delicious sweets.

So I was not successful with my second week goal. I ate sweets four times this week. By the rules I set for myself I could have had sweets on my exception days but I definitely ate more than that.My old habit would be to play the blame game at this point. I could point out I had a stressful week, (I did,) or that people kept offering me treats, (fours times this week,) but why should I justify my bad behaviour? The fact is that I didn’t achieve my goal because I didn’t want to. Let’s just leave it at that.

Now, I could easily think, “F*** it,  I’m done,” but a failure is no reason for me to quit. Instead, I will be revisiting this habit for next week. I won’t be adding another habit yet because I don’t want to feel overwhelmed. If I keep working at it I will be successful here, even if it takes me longer than one week to get there.

Week 1 – No eating after 7PM – Accomplished.

Stay tuned for the results of next week’s healthy habit.


Art Assignment 21: Movement Telephone

I decided to take a risk with this assignment and use this video for my movement clip:

I love watching people communicate using ALS. We have a deaf interpreter at my school and my favourite thing to see is when she and a student are signing rapidly back and forth and laughing at some shared joke. ALS is a beautiful language because it reminds me of dance. It seamlessly integrates gestures, body language and facial expressions into communication.

Let me be clear; I do not know ASL. My video is not meant to be offensive to speakers of ASL. Instead I was trying to show how difficult it can be to learn a new language. This was my attempt to learn the ASL alphabet in just a few tries.

I know, I made a lot of mistakes and some of my signs are backwards. Not bad for a first try though. I’ll have to keep practicing, just like when I first learned the alphabet by singing it.


Spring Cleaning Week 1

So I don’t mean my cabinets and closets, (although they usually get a once over this time of year as well.) Instead, I am going to clean up my eating habits. In the dark months of Winter we all tend to relax our eating habits a bit and Spring is my time to return to my healthier habits. By no means is this a simple task.

To ensure my success I’m going to borrow a technique I learned from some friends who are on a clean eating plan. Once a week I will introduce (or reintroduce) a healthy eating habit. I will take that week to focus on that habit and make it part of my daily routine until I don’t even think about it. Then the next week I will introduce another healthy habit and so on until I am eating much better. I figure I will take until my birthday at the end of May to get my eating habits where I want them. By adding one habit a week, I won’t feel overwhelmed each week but these small changes will add up to a healthier me.

I will also get exception days. These are vacation days where I am allowed to ignore my habits and have some fun. No one can eat perfectly all of the time so this is essential to sticking to my plan. I will start with two exception days a week and then scale it back to one day a week.

So on to Spring Cleaning Week 1. My habit this week was to stop eating and drinking anything but water at 7PM each night. According to this article on, eating after dinner can lead to weight gain, sleep disturbances, diabetes, and acid reflux. I am not interested in any of these. 7PM is late enough that I can ensure I get my dinner but far enough from bedtime that I’m not going to bed on a full stomach.

I chose a habit I would find easy for week 1 so that I would feel successful early. This encourages me to keep going. Most nights this week I actually stopped eating around 6:30PM. My one exception was Tuesday when I saw a movie with friends at 6:50. I did indulge in a few movie snacks but I stopped around 7:30 and made sure to eat slowly so I wouldn’t break my first rule too extremely.

Stay tuned next week when I add another healthy habit to my new eating plan.

What Art is in Your Home?

Nick and I have decorated our home with art that we love. Creating a calm, comfortable home environment can help ease mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. For me, when I feel anxious our home is my sanctuary. It’s where I go to regroup and build up my strength.

I wanted to share some of the art in my home with you. Whenever possible, I’ve listed the artist information. Maybe you’ll see an artist you enjoy and you can check out their work. Maybe it will inspire you to add some art to your home or workspace. Maybe you’ll just enjoy this mini-gallery. I hope it brightens your day!



Mindful Eating

I first tried mindful eating at a yoga retreat I attended a few years ago. Once a day the retreat held silent meals where everyone would serve and eat in silence. The goal was to really focus on the food and the enjoyment of eating. It was surprisingly relaxing. It’s also a great way to literally watch what you eat. Since the body takes approximately twenty minutes to register it is full, ( this is the perfect way for us to slow down and listen to our bodies.

If you are trying to lose weight or just Eat By Design, I encourage you to try this experiment. I’ve included some steps below to help you get started.

  • Choose By Design foods, (proteins, lots of veggies and root vegetables). You need to eat something that will leave you feeling satisfied and full.
  • Remove all distractions. All of them. I mean it. Phone, TV, radio, computer, all of them. You can only be mindful by living in the moment and focusing on what you’re doing. All of these electronic doodads take us out of the present moment. They also distract us so we can’t tell if we’re full. Most overeating happens when we are distracted and forget to check in with our bellies to see if we need more food.

  • Use a smaller plate. You can fool yourself into thinking you’re getting more food by putting the same amount of food on a smaller plate. I suggest a salad or side plate.

  • Take smaller bites. Smaller bites mean you eat more slowly and you have more time to actually enjoy your food.

  • Put down your fork in between bites. This will also slow down your eating and let your body alert you when you’re full.

  • Eat until you’re 80% full. Since it can take up to twenty minutes to feel full, stopping after you eat 80% of your food gives your stomach time to catch up. If you’re still hungry after that, then you can eat a bit more.

  • Enjoy! Smell your food before you start eating. Savor all the different flavors and textures of your food. Pay attention to sensations. Spend the time to nourish yourself. Bon appetit.






Avocado Brownies?

I have to admit, I was a bit suspicious of this recipe for Avocado Brownies, but I decided to give it a shot. Apparently all I need is a box of brownie mix, ripe avocados and water.


I combined the brownie mix with 2/3 cup of mashed avocado and 1/3 cup water. It looked like regular brownie batter in the bowl. To hedge my bets on the level of chocolate, I decided to add two generous handfuls of these bad boys.


I poured the batter into a greased pan and baked it according to the directions on the box.I had to bake them a few minutes extra to make sure the brownies were done.


While these brownies were chocolatey, they were a bit more cake-like than I enjoy. I like my brownies more fudgey so that was a bit disappointing. I used avocados that were just ripe so maybe next time I would use ones that are almost overripe. That might improve the texture. Dusted with a little powdered sugar, they were pretty good. Not as good as real brownies, but a nice treat.

Wedded Bliss


Today is my one year wedding anniversary. One year ago Nick and I stood in front of our family and promised to love and take care of each other. We were so happy on that day and we have had countless happy times since.

When people find out you are newly weds, they often ask how married life is or how it’s different from dating each other. I talked to Nick and we agreed that our married life is not that different from our dating life. Before we were married, Nick and I lived together and we had already had many of the ‘big conversations’ (e.g. kids, money, lifestyle, etc.) We also bought and renovated a house together before we got engaged. All those things drew us together and getting married just solidified our commitment to each other.

Another thing people like to tell newly weds is that the first year of marriage the most difficult. We didn’t find this was true for us either. We had so much fun together in our first year of marriage. We laughed a lot and worked through the tough times together. It wasn’t a challenging year for us but maybe that’s because we had done a lot of the relationship work before we got to the altar. But we still work on our marriage every day. I would never claim Nick and I are doing everything right, but we feel supported by our relationship and that’s important.

Happy anniversary. I love you, Mister.

Snow Day Cooking!

When you see this…

Bus Cancellations - Click here to find out if your bus is running.

…it’s time to make something warm and yummy! I suggest this African Chicken Peanut Stew from Simply Recipes. I made a few small changes to this recipe. I used jarred ginger and garlic because it’s easier. I used purple sweet potatoes and red potatoes instead of regular sweet potatoes. I also used chunky peanut butter. This only changes the texture slightly since the recipe also calls for whole peanuts. This recipe makes a huge pot of stew so share it with your family or be ready for leftovers. Luckily, this stew freezes really well so have a big container ready. Enjoy and keep warm out there!

African Chicken Peanut Stew

A hearty West African-inspired stew of chicken thighs and legs, sweet potatoes and peanuts that is perfect for a chilly day.

Use chicken legs, thighs or wings for this recipe. They have more flavor and will hold up better with the flavors of the stew than breast meat.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


  • 2-3 pounds chicken legs, thighs and/or wings
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, sliced
  • A 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 2-3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro


1 Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Salt the chicken pieces well, pat them dry and brown them in the oil. Don’t crowd the pot, so do this in batches. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown.

2 Sauté the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.

3 Add the chicken, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding more if needed. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 90 minutes (check after an hour), or until the chicken meat easily falls off the bone and the sweet potatoes are tender.

4 Remove the chicken pieces and set them in a bowl to cool, until cool enough to touch. Remove and discard the skin if you want, or chop it and put it back into the pot. Shred the meat off the bones and put the meat back in the pot.

5 Adjust the seasonings for salt and cayenne, then add as much black pepper as you think you can stand—the stew should be peppery. Stir in the cilantro and serve by itself, or with simple steamed rice.


Still More Positive Tweets

Here comes a whole new crop of beautiful #DailyJoy tweets!

If you want to join in, use #DailyJoy. I’ll retweet you and follow you too!

Post Navigation