My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the month “December, 2015”

Holiday Break

Hello all. As per tradition, I’ll be taking a Christmas break from the blog. I’ll resume posting in the New Year. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.


The Darkest Night of Winter

Well, I made it. Tonight is the darkest night of the year. The Winter Solstice falls on December 21 at 11:49PM EST in my neck of the woods. That means that today is the day of the year that my part of the world receives the smallest amount of sunlight.

Although sunlight isn’t the be all and end all of depression, many people with anxiety or depression (like me,) are affected by changes in the environment. In the winter I am less energetic. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping or waking up in the morning. For me, there is something comforting about knowing that tomorrow will have a little more light than today, and that each day will get a little longer after that.

Even though this is a small thing, it feels like an accomplishment. I made it past another yearly milestone that I find particularly difficult. This year was not easy. Maybe next year will be better. At least tomorrow will be a little brighter.



Need a Pick Me Up? Here’s More Positive Tweets

So I’m still keeping the positive tweets rolling in my Twitter feed. Here are some more #DailyJoy tweets:

If you want to continue the positive vibes on Twitter, use #DailyJoy.

Petit Pois à la Francais


Tired of the same old veggie side dishes? Petit pois  à la Francais is a classic and I love pairing it with chicken, pork or beef.



2 cups frozen peas

3 green onions

1-2 heads of lettuce (any variety will do; I used Romain)

1 TBSP butter

1 TBSP olive oil

1 cup chicken stock


  1. Heat a large pot on medium. Add the olive oil and butter. IMG_2074
  2. Chop green onions and lettuce in thin strips. IMG_2072
  3. Add the onions to the pot and saute for one minute. IMG_2077
  4. Add the lettuce and wait patiently for it to wilt. IMG_2078 IMG_2082
  5. At the peas and the stock and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.                              IMG_2083
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!                 IMG_2086

Chicken and Sausage Bake

This chilly weather begs for comfort food. One of my favourites is my chicken and sausage bake. I like to make it on weekends when I can enjoy the smell of it warming my house.


Chicken and Sausage Bake

Prep time – 20 minutes.

Marinade time – At least 2 house.

Cooking time – 1 hour 15 minutes.

Serves 6.



6 pieces bone in, skin on chicken (I used thighs)

4 sausages of any type

2 TBSP Olive oil

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

2 TBSP Spicy mustard

2 tsp Dried sage

1 TBSP Chopped garlic



Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Mix the quartered onion, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sage, garlic, and salt and pepper in a Ziplock bag.
  3. Quarter the lemon. Squeeze the juice into the bag and then add the lemon pieces as well.                                                            IMG_2067
  4. Give it a good squish around.                                                        IMG_2068
  5. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Pop it in the fridge to marinate.                                                                                           IMG_2069
  6. Pour the mixture into a roasting pan and add the sausages.             IMG_2070
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the sausages halfway through.


This dish is a wonderful combination of sour lemon and tangy mustard. The rich flavours of the sausage permeate the onions and allow the chicken to crisp perfectly. Enjoy!

PS: I served this with petit pois a la Francais, (peas with butter lettuce.) I’ll share that recipe with you next time.


The Black Dog of Winter

With the increasing darkness and cold of winter, comes the return of the black dog. I can feel my brain trying to revert to past negative thought patterns, (I’m not good enough, nothing makes me happy, etc.) This is my first plunge into winter without medication in a number of years and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Work and life stress seem to build so much more quickly at this time of year.



I am doing my best to sooth my anxious brain. A lot of it involves being less strict and more forgiving with myself. I do more yoga and less weight lifting because I need to focus on my brain-body connection and strenuous activities leave me too sore. I am trying to eat healthy but increasing my carb intake (slightly) because carbs increase the release of serotonin. I’m not sleeping as well so I take more naps. I need to put away my to-do list and spend more time just hanging out and relaxing. Sometimes after a long day at work I go to an early movie by myself because immersing myself in a story gives me a break from my own head. As always, I am seeing my doctors and talking out my issues.

Even with all this planning and support, it’s easy to feel hopeless. I have to make it to December 22nd (the longest night of the year,) before I see an increase in natural light. I have to carefully manage our holiday plans so Nick and I aren’t overwhelmed by people or dragged into family dramas. Then I have to go back to work after the holiday break and convince myself that I will make it to spring. On an intellectual level I know this too shall pass; I just have to convince my heart of it too. Wish me luck.


Art Assignment 39 Make It, Break It

Step one: make a delicious cake for my niece and nephew’s birthdays.

Step two: devour cake with family.

Success! #theartassignment

Art Assignment 38 Fake Flyer

My flyer reads:





I hung a box of sharpened pencil crayons just below it.


I took a chance and hung it on the community event board outside my library branch. Hopefully no one takes it down. I’m going to check back in a few days to see if anyone was brave enough to participate in some community art. #theartassignment


I went back to the library and they moved my flyer, but they didn’t take it down!


Thank you to the library staff, who know a fun bit of art when they see it and allow it to stay in their space.


And thank you to the people who drew something on my flyer. Hopefully more of you will join in. #theartassignment


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