Wednesday, December 30, 2015

YiR: Thank you 2015

I was once told that successful people review their progress regularly to gauge where they are, relative to their goals. I did a mid-year review in June and reviewed the goals I set at the start of the year. I make annual resolutions and goals but those goals move and adjust as the year progresses and I incorporate new ones as time passes, so I don't forget things and continuously improve. Well, that's the intent anyway.

If you've got some time this holiday season, join me in reviewing your year and seeing how things went (or didn't go)...


A lot of things have shifted for me, personally. There are things I set out for myself that didn't come into fruition simply because I was pre-occupied. But that all said, the major decision of quitting my corporate job and trying to find myself and figure out what I wanted to do was a life-changing event that still leaves me wondering some days, if I'm going down the right path or if I'm being selfish (or stupid) for even seeking out such a far reaching dream. At the crux of the matter though, I feel like I have to make choices for me and nobody else and be okay with the various potential outcomes, including those which might not be as I envisioned them in my head.

Acceptance of whatever I'm dealt


These boys are a big part of my life and if you know me in person, you know how important my boys are, to me. Nobody spends as much time as I do, training and caring for two household cats as I do. My main focus is desensitization and clicker training. I do lots and expose them to plenty so that they can be prepared for anything that comes our way. Our neighbours already think that these two are a total hoot running and chasing one another in the backyard and climbing trees but they probably think I'm even stranger! But no matter, I am doing this for their benefit, not mine.

I haven't gotten around to posting any holiday sweater photos of these two


This side of my life has been progressing well considering I ride 1-2 times a week and generally spend a lot of time sitting at a table/desk. I've started riding a fancy-pants sport horse and I'm jumping courses. I didn't think would be progressing so successfully in this realm. If I could now refocus all this success and energy onto other areas...


Okay. Let's not beat around the bush here. I totally flopped this year with reading. And I don't really have any proper or legitimate excuse. I will be reviewing my listing and my availabilities in the new year to see what's actually feasible and set up appropriate attainable goals.

I was over-confident

As usual, I continue to struggle with the goals I set out for myself while having some limited success. It's totally a learning experience all the time and while I wasn't nearly as successful the first time I reviewed my goals, I feel that despite the challenges of 2015, I have come out rather well and am looking forward to improving my stats for 2016!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Recipe: Fruit Crumble by Crock-pot

We've had a lot of dinners and potlucks to go to this year. It's no surprise that for the latest potluck (a very happy birthday to our awesome coach, Sheri!!!), we found a really simple recipe that asks for very accessible ingredients and is really straight forward to make--well, almost.

  • 6-8 apples or pears (6 cups or so)
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 cup dried fruit like raisins or cranberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
(here's where I start mixing things up Deb-style)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon*
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 pinches ground ginger
  • dash of allspice
  • Handful of chopped walnuts (or another nut like pecan)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
(again, I start mixing things up a bit here)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (quick cooking), plus an extra sprinkle more of oats for good measure
  • 1/8 cup rolled rye
  • 1/8 cup rolled spelt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon*
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 pinches ground ginger
  • dash of allspice
*if you only have cinnamon, that's fine. It's the bare minimum spice the original recipe calls for

  1. Slow-cooker/crockpot
  2. Large mixing bowl (crumble)
  3. Paring knife
  4. Peeler
  5. Cutting board
  6. 2 butter knives or pastry cutter

I took the base recipe from here, and revised it since it's more cooking than baking so I don't have to be as accurate! We made the dish twice; once with pears and the most recent, with apples. I have little experience cooking/baking with fruit, so for the pears, I picked two types: a brown (not Bosc) and a green anjou (I think). With apples, I did a quick search and saw that the more tart/sour apples are best for cooking/desserts; I selected granny smith and macintosh.

Red and green for the season

We peeled the fruit in advance; I did a rough peel because I am a big advocate for eating as much of the food as possible to ensure you get all the micronutrients--which are often found just under the skin. I sprinkled lemon juice over the cut fruit and lightly tossed and put away in the fridge until I was ready to start. The original recipe asks for 6 cups of fruit but does it really matter? As long as I covered the bottom of the crock pot by half, I figured I was good. Then, I added the raisins and spices.

Delicious fruit bottom

Next, mix the fruit until the spices evenly coat the apples and add a sprinkle of raisins on top along with the walnuts; otherwise the small nuts and fruits end up only on the bottom of the mix.

Fruit 'n nuts

Plug your crock pot in and turn it on to a high setting for 30 minutes. Go on to make the crumbly top, by combining all the dry ingredients throughly by ensuring the brown sugar clumps are broken and then cutting the butter into the dry mix.

Cut in that cold butter!

Disclaimer: we had no idea how to "cut in butter" and did it totally wrong and should have checked before attempting it based on our own understanding of what it meant. All I knew was that the butter should be small (how small? I dunno!) pieces in the mix but what exact that looked like... I hadn't the foggiest. And of course +ADW has limited experience with baking so knew less than I did. But both of us were too stubborn to look it up. Combined, we created a melty-greasy-doughy mass. Don't let this happen to you and ensure the butter stays nice and cold and rest it in the freezer/fridge if needed. That said though, our mess didn't ruin things.

Not too bad considering we got it wrong...

When the mix is "crumbly", evenly spread over the fruit in the crock pot and spread a tea towel under the lid to catch the moisture. Slow cook on "low" for 3 hours more, or until the fruit is tender. If you are in a rush and only get in 2 hours, fret not! Bring it with you and continue cooking at your destination and leave it on "warm" when it's done. If you're serving right when it's done, wait 10 minutes and let everything "stand".

Delicious and ready!

The best part? Service warm with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, December 4, 2015

To Boldly Go...

The last few months saw a couple of big changes in my life that have really challenged my personal sense of security. The biggest one was when I decided to quit my corporate-y job in June. I used to really enjoy what I was doing, who I was working with/for and what sorts of change I was making. But somewhere, that stopped and I started resenting my job and who it was making me become and I forgot why I was doing the things I was and where I was going. I couldn't see myself continue on the path I was on yet feared to make the most drastic change. I thought things might just get better if I stuck it out long enough but that isn't always the case and I needed to know when to cut my losses.

Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things--Edgar Degas
I have become the painter

The decision to leave my job was not taken lightly because I was really concerned about what my family would think and react. I have spent my life living in my younger brother's overachieving shadow and always trying to catch up with what everyone else wanted me to do (often unsuccessfully) so I often have not been too sure of myself. To my surprise, everyone was really supportive and this gave me the chance to explore what sorts of things actually bring a smile to my face and get me excited to get up for work in the dark and cold winters. I concluded a few things ranging from my penchant for efficient processes, desire to continue learning and love of animals and nature.

You are the captain of your own ship; don't let anyone else take the wheel--Michael Josephson
Make it so!

I have since landed myself in a small animal veterinary practice doing many things ranging from animal care/handling, to client consultation and clinic maintenance. I wasn't sure how things would go since I haven't done any of this work for many years and the business component was something I learned mostly by experience running a community dragon boat club and from my tenure in the corporate world; but none of it was due to schooling or formal training. It could have been an absolute failure but it's been the some of the most fulfilling experiences to date and I am actually excited about going and dealing with the less shining moments and individuals.

As +ADW points out to me, a career is a journey of phases that aim to get you closer to your goal. The goal might not be a specific position (or it could be), and the journey might have some dark and unappealing sections but one just need to keep that goal in mind and take each day as another step forward. The job is just the first step in my phase to moving forward and I am really excited about the upcoming phases that will bring me back to my academic life and seeing where things will take me in the next few years!