A Good Night’s Sleep? Not This Week … or maybe?

On Sunday I woke up uncomfortable with a pinched nerve in my shoulder blade. Let me tell you; the body can turn on you quickly. Something as simple as a knot in my shoulder blade was completely disabling! It made simple tasks, like trying to check my blind spot while driving, painful.

Like the workaholic I am, I took an Advil and pushed through the pain. Update: this was a big mistake. This morning, I woke up and literally could not move! It was no longer a pinched nerve. Instead, it was three pinched nerves in my shoulder blade and neck! Do you know that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda is laying on her bathroom floor unable to move? Her character resonated with my soul this morning! The pain was unbearable!

So what do I do? I try an Advil again and it is not touching the pain. So like a big grown-up adult woman, I texted my mom to complain. She recommended trying some essential oils – gotta love that hippy. This reminded me that I had a “Deep Muscle Relief” blend. Skeptical, I tried it. Not too shabby. Still in pain but some relief. I threw it in my bag and headed to work. By the time lunch break rolled around, I could not move. Desperate, I pulled up a 10-minute yoga video on the new Deliciously Ella App for iOS and combined the routine with my essential oils. After lots of cracking, groaning and deep breathing, I am feeling much better! I also invested in a new side-sleeper pillow and I am hoping it will ensure that this pain does not last longer than needed. Bonus, it smells like lavender!

The truth is that sometimes you need to do the work and be temporarily uncomfortable before you can relax.

In a less painful version of this lesson, I have gotten into the practice of meal prepping on Sundays so that my work week goes smoothly. This is a game changer for the working gal! I am not one to make a bunch of preportioned packs (I have tried but I find it too much work). Rather, I like to focus on making ingredients using a sheet pan. You would be surprised what you can do with a sheet pan in terms of batch cooking. I have made eggs for breakfast sandwiches for a week using one of these bad boys.

When it comes to tofu, I like it to be crunchy and flavourful for lunches. This way it can be put in a rice bowl, tossed with a salad or eaten as a snack. This recipe for sheet-pan tofu is versatile, low maintenance and will last 5 days in a Tupperware in your fridge!

Are you a batch cooker? Do you have any other flavour combinations? Share below in the comments section!

Crispy Baked Tofu

This recipe for sheet-pan tofu is versatile, low maintenance and will last five days in a Tupperware in your fridge!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings: 5 Servings

Ingredients

Crispy Tofu

  • 2 Blocks Firm Tofu
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Flavour Options*

  • 2 tbsp jerk seasoning Jerk Tofu
  • 2 tsp of each soy sauce, chilli flakes and tahini Asian Flavour
  • 2 tsp of each nutritional yeast, paprika, chilli powder and cumin TexMex
  • 2 tsp of each garlic powder, onion powder, lemon pepper Lemon Garlic
  • 2 tsp of each cumin, paprika and turmeric Savoury

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Press the two blocks of tofu for 15 minutes**.
  • Standing your tofu up on its edge, slice the tofu in half. Lay it flat then cut the rectangle in half and split each half into 9 squares (2 cuts in each direction). With two block of tofu, you will end up with 72 cubes of tofu.
  • Place all cubes of tofu into a mixing bowl and add oil, cornstarch and one flavour option of choice**.
  • Using a lid or plate, cover the mixing bowl and shake the tofu.
  • Pour the tofu mix onto a sheet pan and make sure that each tofu cube is separated.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and shake/ flip, then bake for 15 more minutes.
  • Allow tofu to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Notes

* Each line of ingredients is one flavour choice. I do not recommend putting all those ingredients into the bowl, LOL! It is wise to mix the flavour spices together before adding it to the tofu.
** I press tofu by wrapping 1 block of firm tofu in a paper towel or two and stacking my cast iron fry pan on top of it with a bunch of cookbooks. It works. You can also buy a tofu press.  

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Well, here we are! We are in the last days of 2017 and I am sitting in my living room reflecting while listening to Christmas music with a bunch of candles lit.

So I am just going to come out and say it. For the most part, 2017 was a challenging year for me. I have choice words! Now, some people who know me are going to think to themselves “but Steph … this year was a life changer!” and my response to that is: YES! Finally, I caught a break … ON DECEMBER 3RD!! There were 11 heinous months prior to that! So let’s begin story time, shall we?

Remember when I went rogue in August? I was initially hesitant to share about this but I am ready now. At this time, I spent three weeks in Europe and learned three very important lessons.

Lesson #1: Self-Care

To begin, I needed to figure out how to take time to look after myself. This manifested itself to me as I sat in my future mother-in-law’s living room the first afternoon after flying to Dublin … catch that? … not yet? okay, don’t worry, it’s coming. Anyway, I was in her home and she was at work. Maciej’s mom lives very humbly in the countryside. Her internet access is extremely limited and being abroad, I do not have cellular access. The walk to the nearest town is 2 hours by foot. I did have some tasks to do – which I worked slowly on – but I was horribly jetlagged. Instead of engaging in virtual overstimulation, I opened the door where I could see the lush Irish fields, and I read a book. Despite not having the internet to contact people, it was the first time in months I did not experience the physical symptoms of anxiety. I was so calm. The air was fresh and my MIL – did I do that again? – has exquisite taste in coffee … and in hard liquor but that, my friends is a selective tale I will not share on here because what happens during girls night, stays with girls night! I digress. Sitting there reading while not even anticipating a phone call, text, e-mail, push notification … whatever … was the best peace I had experienced in months. It was time to take it easy.

Lesson #2: Work Better, Not Harder

The second lesson was that I needed a professional kick in the ass. I am guilty of overworking and feeling like I am getting nowhere in the process. After spending some time this weekend reviewing my portfolio in preparation for upcoming applications, I realized that for someone who has a few years before reaching the grand “30” mark, I am accomplishing more than average. Furthermore, I learned I really need to not rush through these processes! While having an end-goal in mind is important, I need to stop being so bloody anxious about the process and find a way to enjoy it because when I finally accomplish that end goal, then what? Retirement? That means I have spent the bulk of my working life in a panic when really, I do enjoy the work I do. The World Happiness Report (2016) expresses that,

Most Americans sampled daily in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Survey feel happier on weekends, to an extent that depends on the social context on and off the job. The weekend effect disappears for those employed in a high trust workplace, who regard their superior more as a partner than a boss and maintain their social life during weekdays.

(Helliwell, Layard & Saches, 2016 p. 30)

While working hard is great … commendable even … balance is paramount.

I am currently tying up some loose ends; however, come the new year, I intend to make it a focus to be more deliberate and organized with my time and tackle my endeavors in smaller chunks rather than adrenal binges followed by exhausting crashes post-completion. This will allow for more time to do things that I enjoy including this creative writing project and spending time with good people.

Some recommendations:

  1. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way of Living Well by Miek Wiking
  2. Rushing Women’s Syndrome by Dr. Libby Weaver
  3. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things (Available on Netflix)
  4. The Minimalists Podcast

These are a few of my favorites, I’m sure more will come to mind.

Lesson #3: Don’t Forget Your Love for Others

The last lesson that really took me and shook me was while I was lost in selfish “Me-Land” – which I needed for a while; however, overstayed my tenancy – is that while Maciej can be stubborn (so am I), I needed to transition from being my own frantic mess and his girlfriend to loving him as my evil sidekick … too personal? Yea, I’m uncomfortable but I have lingered with the “appropriate language” long enough. It’s not that we ever stopped loving each other, it’s just that when chaos reigns, it pours! I have to remind myself a lot that when he is trying to take me away from my work, it is usually because he wants to just be with me and that is not bad.

So, while 2017 started with me wondering who pissed in it’s Cheerios ( … sorry), it was a closing chapter in the middle of my life’s story.

That can’t be it? Can it?

No, I save the best for last.

On November 18th, 2017 I stood in Costco comparing coffee choices while Maciej was going bat-crazy wanting the latest, greatest iPhone X. His phone was binging as he frantically tried to place holds for pick up crying out in a panic “WHAT TIME CAN WE GET THIS!?” and I was like “WHAT COFFEE ARE WE CHOOSING!?”. This ended up with me in a large shopping plaza on a Saturday. Like the masochist I am, I simply love driving in shopping center parking lots on a Saturday afternoon. It’s my favorite. I kicked this man out of my car and told him to get out and head to Apple while I park as far away from civilization as possible. When I successfully found my spot, I walked in. He get’s his phone and I decide at that moment, he is not winning after that show! No, no, no. On our walk back to the car, I saw Michael Hill. I grabbed this man by the arm out of nowhere and proudly stated that this man was going to buy me a $10,000 engagement ring.  Tell me how he goes along with it and the poor customer service representative is like shouting “GET THIS WOMAN A BIGGER DIAMOND”. We, of course, were not going to buy, I just wanted to make him uncomfortable. Well let me tell you, Maciej was a little too comfortable. So in the car, I told him that I did not want a ring out of our budget and especially since I work in a job where my hands are exposed to the elements …. you know … finger paint … markers … boogers … the works. He calmly responded that the next week being Black Friday, perhaps we could get something nice in our budget. I worked that week and come Friday, I was getting hasty so I asked him as soon as I walked in the door, “Honey? Can we go shopping?” he said “sure”. We found a small jeweler who had the whole store on 50% off (*Bonus!*) and I sat while he put a couple on my finger and held my hand close to his face until he found the one. It needed to be resized and I have the car so that Wednesday I received my call that it was ready and I was there. Now, in the store for resizing, they have to check to make sure it fits properly. So I let them. I also told them that they should just leave it on there because I wanted to make sure it did not fall off as I drove home. And on my drive home, there was a bridal shop. So obviously I tried on a few dresses. Leave me be!!

When I arrived home, I put it back in the box and left it on his desk. This man played hard to get! But that Sunday, he was pretty insistent on a hike so I took the bait. We stopped for lunch and the outlook was beautiful. He stood up and reached into his pocket. I thought to myself, “This is it!” … and he pulled out a tissue to blow his nose … lovely. We continued hiking and finally, after having to climb uphill, Maciej asked me to marry him. I personally told him …

Yes! Actually, I will be honest I was nodding my head because like, I don’t even know, apparently I lost my words? Which seems unlikely, he had to ask me … “are you going to say yes?” LOL, I did! And I am thrilled. I get that some people hear the story and respond that “Oh so it was not really a surprise??” to which I am totally fine with because they aren’t invited anyway … sooooo. This proposal is who we are – two people who exchanged CVs on our first date. And I am thrilled for 2018 to be a very special year! And I know that 2017 was the year I learned that we are well matched.

So that being said, why does 2017 invoke such choice words from me? Because it was uncomfortable even though it finished off perfectly. What can I say, I’m a wimp! And no offense, but the cosmos totally owed me after that Saturn Retrograde crap! Would I redo this year again? Nope. But I am so happy with the outcome!

To you and your families, I wish you the best Holiday Season and may 2018 bring many great experiences, memories and as the Danish say, Hygge.

Steph xoxo