“Cooking is love made visible”

Cooking

As defined by dictionary.com, is the art of preparing food. The art, not the act, not the practice… The art of preparing food.

I love that. It’s rather poetic, I think.

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Risotto, beef and goat cheese spread, bruschetta and grilled mushrooms.

A few weeks ago I shared that I went to see a therapist; I initially went to see her because I was struggling to adjust and cope with Lucas living far away. I was very afraid that being in different cities would cause us to become distant. In my very first appointment I talked a lot about how I was constantly reminding him how much I cared, loved and missed him. And while he always said it back, I didn’t feel as though he put as much effort into doing the same for me. My therapist, Angelika, immediately introduced me to the 5 love languages.

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Surf & Turf with garlic butter and a green salad.

The 5 Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman. He says that there is no right way to express love and that each and every person expresses and experiences love differently. Chapman has broken down these ways of loving into 5 categories or love languages. Any given person may use one or all of the love languages at any given time but it’s very common to value 1 of the 5 languages above and beyond the others.

  1. Giving words of affirmation
  2. Spending quality time
  3. Giving/receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical Touch

As I described above, I highly value the love language of giving words of affirmation. I feel that it is important to tell someone how you feel. Perhaps this comes from my literature background or my theatre background, who knows. All I know is that words have a lot of power and meaning for me, so when I tell someone that I love and care for them, I really mean it.

Lucas, on the other hand, values the love language of acts of service above the others. He feels that it is more important to do something for someone as a means of showing love than it is to simply say it. He is an actions speak louder than words kind of guy.

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Pork tenderloin, asparagus and mango salad.

In his book Chapman explains that it is pretty common for couples to use love different love languages to express how they feel. The issue arises when one or both parties don’t realize that they are speaking different languages. Since learning about the 5 love languages I am have had a much easier time experiencing and expressing love. And not just in a romantic way, towards my family and friends as well. I’m more in tune now to what they need. For example, cleaning the kitchen for my mum means so much more to her than just saying to her that she’s great, although she also appreciates a the words when they are said.

As for me and Lucas; I was feeling down because he wasn’t reciprocating my words of affirmation, ie. He wasn’t expressing love in the language I understand best. Instead he would provide acts of service, for example, cooking me a romantic meal. Being a chef, cooking is Lucas’ favourite way of expressing his love. When I visit him at school Lucas spends most of the day deciding what he’s going to make for dinner. In the afternoon we go shopping and in the evening he cooks! We listen to music, we drink wine, we chat about life and he cooks. I offer to help but he enjoys cooking for me because that is the best way he knows how to express love. And man oh man, do I love him for that.

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Charcuterie board.

“Cooking is love made visible”

Anonymous

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So here’s to my mum and dad!

I just have to take a moment and tell the whole wide world just how wonderfully amazing my parents are. Seriously! There are not enough descriptive words out there to describe how just how incredible they are.

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Cutting the cake at their 25th Wedding Anniversary Party
Firstly, let me point out that there are 4 of us. Yup 4 kids! By today’s standards that just a pretty big family. And the age difference is decently spaced as well. I’m 24, my first younger sister is 22, my second younger sister is 17 and my brother is 14. So they had toddlers with teenagers and now they have teenagers with emerging adults (which is basically the same thing as a toddler). That alone sounds like a challenge, right?! Well on top of just raising us to have good manners and be normalish human beings they managed to come to every dance recital, hockey game, choir concert, baseball game, play performance, and got us to every rehearsal and practice in between. If that isn’t superhuman powers then I don’t know what is.
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Our big ol’ family.
Once when I was in third year, my university friends and I decided to book a vacation to Cuba. We had everything figured out except for how to get from London, Ont. (where we went to school) to the Toronto airport. It’s about a 2 hour drive. We looked into shuttle buses and taxi’s but it was all so expensive and so complicated. So I was venting to my mum one afternoon about how much money I was going to have to shell out for an overnight shuttle bus and she said “oh don’t do that, your dad will come get you” and next thing I knew my dad was picking up me and 4 of my friends (and all our luggage) from London. He drove us back to Toronto where my mum fed us a fantastic home cooked meal, she then set us all up with beds in the living room and then at 3 am my dad woke us up to drive us all to the airport for our 6 am flight. Then a week later he picked us all up and drove us all back to London again.
My parents have also helped me to move in and out of 4 houses in 3 different cities over the course of 6 years. And somehow every moving day is excruciatingly hot. One time we opened my storage unit to find that a fine layer of mould was covering everything. So I’m addition to moving everything from point A to point B, they helped me to wipe everything down with bleach and water before carrying it into my new place. And they took all the un-salvageable stuff to the dump for me.
They let my friends use the cottage for free, my dad lets Lucas drive the boat, and at the age of 24 my mum will still pick me up from the train and drive me home to Lucas’ house if it is cold and I’m getting home too late. All that and so much more. They do so much all the time and they never ask for anything in return. Give. Give. Give. And just when I thought I had seen the  most of their kindness hey went above and beyond again. This time not only for me but also for Lucas.
We needed to get his furniture to his new apartment in London but after a series of unfortunate events Lucas couldn’t do any heavy lifting and we also couldn’t get a moving truck. We thought we were stuck. for real, I thought Lucas would be sleeping on an air mattress in an empty apartment for the first two weeks of school. But my parents stepped up and came through for us again. Since they were making a day trip out to London anyway they took a load of Lucas’ heavy furniture all the way to his new apartment. That is a two hour drive and up a flight of stairs and everything. (Naturally today is very hot). The kicker, Lucas and I weren’t even there to help they did it all on their own. And again asking for nothing in return and without a single complaint.
I’ve always known that I was loved. I’ve always known that I was lucky to have parents who are willing to give me so much but it’s just now as I’m entering adulthood that I understand why they do what they do. I think it’s more than just love. I think it’s the fact that they truly want nothing more than to see their children happy. And so they don’t buy us fancy toys or spoil us with money, instead to do everything in their power to help us succeed, to help us be the best versions of ourselves. Now I’m not saying they are perfect parents, my family is just as dysfunctional as the next family and I really do feel that nothing and noone is ever perfect, but there is no denying that my parents are pretty darn fantastic.  So thank you, thank you, a million times thank you for all that you do for us. I know that if I can give to my children and loved ones as much as you have given to me then I will have succeeded in life.
So here’s to my mum and dad. Thank you, again. You are both incredible. I love you.
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♫♩ A Musical Review & A Love Story ♥

Everyone has a favourite band. A favourite song. A favourite quote.  For me all of those things come from the same source. Mumford & Sons. The band, in my opinion, can do no wrong. They are flawless, in every sense of the word. There are a number of reasons why I love Mumford. First and foremost, they are spectacular musicians, song writers and performers. You can see, hear and feel the passion that goes into making their music. Secondly, Mumford is the reason I met Lucas.

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You see Lucas and I actually went to the same high school, two years apart (for the record, I am older). We had mutual acquaintances, I had heard his name a few times in passing but we never crossed really paths. In August of 2013  I went with a group of friends to see Mumford play at the Gentlemen of the Road  traveling concert festival. The festival was essentially two days jam packed with live musical acts with Mumford as the closing act on the Saturday night.

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The venue was about 2 and a half hours west of Toronto. I was traveling and camping with a group of 4 girls. Myself, Karin, Sam and Alicia. When we arrived on the Friday afternoon we went straight to setting up camp. That was easier said than done. Do you know how many poles come with a camping tent? So many! Since it was going to take us a while to set up Sam decided to call in reinforcements. Two of her friends from high school who were also at the show for the weekend, Lucas and his buddy Taylor.

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No joke, as they wandered over to our tent disaster I looked at Lucas and thought “who is he? He is very cute. I must know him.” Luckily the feeling was mutual. The rest of the weekend kind of went by in a whirlwind of music, beer, sunshine, dancing and laughing.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

When I think back on that weekend I feel like Lucas and I were inseparable. I think he was by my side from the moment I met him to the end of the weekend when we had to drive home again. But somehow we managed to avoid having a picture taken together. The whole weekend was almost too perfect. If someone had told me that the whole thing was a dream I would have believed them.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

I think there is something magical about music, especially live music, that brings people together. In a lot of ways Lucas and I are major opposites. He is a free-spirited, spur of the moment kind of person. I am meticulous planner and goody-two-shoes. I like to think that we have influenced each other for the better. He has helped me to relax and enjoy the moment and I think I have helped him to find a stronger sense of direction in terms of his goals and such. But I honestly don’t know if we would have had that connection, that spark, if we had met anywhere other than at a concert.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

So you see, I feel as though Mumford & Sons brought Lucas and I together. Naturally I was devastated when they announced their hiatus in September of  2013. They had just given me an amazing weekend, an connected me with an amazing person and all I wanted to do from that moment on was go see Mumford play live music, with Lucas at my side.

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Photo by Samantha Gatez

After a very long year and a half they have finally made their way back onto the music scene with their brand new album, Wilder Mind, released on May 4th.

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At first I was really nervous about this new album. In their time off Mumford ditched the banjo, which they were essentially famous for, in favour of a more classic rock inspired sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some classic rock, but to me Mumford is synonymous with indie, and rock isn’t indie. The first single dropped from the album was titled Believe. I’ll be honest, on first listen it felt like Coldplay and I was confused. It was a great song but it didn’t sound like the band I knew and loved. So when the new album finally came out I was expecting to be “meh” about it.

Oh! How happy I am to say that I was wrong! I’m not sure exactly how to explain this but I’ll try my best. There are a number of good songs on the album, there are a number of great songs, and there are a few just okay songs. But as a whole, as one piece, from beginning to end, listened to in the order they intended it is perfect. The album tells a story, the songs compliment each other, the music ebbs and flows through the entire work. While the banjo is noticeably not present the music still feels like Mumford in the vocals, the orchestral background music and in the lyrics. I beg of you, please do not listen to this album on shuffle. Hear it how Mumford intended it to be heard.

I think Mumford and Sons successfully accomplished what Taylor Swift also accomplished with the release of her most recent album 1989. Both Mumford and Swift managed to change their sound without compromising their music or betraying their loyal fan base. I feel that they were able to do so because they made a strong, confident 180. Instead of writing songs, they curated entire albums. And that, I feel, is what makes all the difference. It is a magic that we are lacking today. Because of iTunes we have the “luxury” of picking and choosing songs, rather than listening to entire albums. So a lot of artists make a few great singles and really poor albums. Although with the renewed popularity of vinyl records this is hopefully going to change.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out Wilder Mind, do it now! And if you have, what did you think?! Share in the comments!

Tourists Guide to The World: Niagara Falls, ON – The Winter Edition

I know I’m a few days behind the times but today, I want to talk about Valentines day! I’ll give it to you straight: As a general rule I feel that valentines day is a materialistic holiday that puts all people (single, committed, in-between, ect.) in an awkward position.

Usually I actively avoid this fake holiday by holing up in my room with a good movie but not this year. For Valentines day 2015 I decided to embrace the love… of my best girl friends. I love Lucas more than anything and the way things are currently going I see a long and happy relationship for us but the reality is if things ever go south, I will always have my girl friends. So this year we decided to celebrate Gal-entines day (get it, girl + valentines…) together by going on a road trip to Niagara Falls!!

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Niagara Falls was the perfect destination for a girls weekend for a few reasons:

  • The Falls are only a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto
  • Between 4 people a hotel room is super affordable
  • Both nightlife activities and day-time activities are available
  • It is a Canadian location that is considered to be the “8th world wonder”

After writing Lucas an adorable card I jumped in the car with my friends & we were off! We checked into our hotel around 5:00 pm and unpacked our bags before going to dinner. We decided to drive to dinner which wasn’t the best call. The roads were incredibly snowy this weekend. I think the mist freezing as it came off the falls must have been a factor. It took us about half an hour but we eventually found a parking spot near an Italian-American Eatery called Vinny’s. The place as mostly filled with couples holding hands but that was fine with us. I got a pretty decent cream sauce pasta because you can never go wrong with cream sauce pasta.

10991453_10152818071363558_7508410349410884676_nAfter dinner we returned to the hotel to get dressed up for our night on the town. Unsurprisingly we all ended up in mostly black outfits. I think its a winter thing. It almost feels wrong to wear bright colours when there is snow on the ground. Then our first stop for the evening was Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville! You guessed it! This place makes super fancy Margaritas! We all ended up getting a blue one with a really long name that I can’t remember. Think blue slushy made with tequila and you are on the right track in terms of taste.

The next stop on the girls night adventure train was the casino! We went to Fallsview because it was the closest one within walking distance. That was important because it was way, way, way below freezing and it was super snowy. Personally, I was really excited about going to the casino. It’s not that I am super into gambling or anything, I’ve just never had the experience before. I suppose I think of visiting a Casino as a grown up right of passage.

1450891_10152818071658558_1682212219668897139_nSome Most people probably find this type of atmosphere overwhelming but I really enjoyed all the lights and colours. It added to the spectacle of the whole night. We decided it was probably best if we stuck to the slot machines since none of us know how to play card games and we didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. 10488109_10152818073568558_5290224871700860488_n 10991304_10152818073168558_9062101763379784123_n

Here is Karin and I playing on the slot machines! Apparently you aren’t allowed to take pictures in the casino but we didn’t get caught… hehehe. I played 15 dollars and sadly didn’t win anything. Stacey played 5 dollars and won $4.50. Mel played 5 dollars and made $6. And Karin was the big winner of the night, she played 10 dollars and won $25! As fun as it was I don’t think any of us will be returning to the casino anytime soon. There were some people there with cards loaded with money and they just sat there, plugged into the machine, pressing the button over and over and over again. To be honest it was quite sad and depressing if you really thought about it. But for one night out with the girls it was a lot of fun! 10013322_10152818073963558_5813145035181367157_n

After that we attempted to go to a nightclub for some dancing but it was last call by the time we got there. Time really does fly inside the casino. So we ended up back at the hotel around 3 am and then we ordered some cheese pizza. All in all it was a great way to end the night.

The next morning we had an all american meal at IHOP. Let me tell you something about IHOP. This is not something we have in Canada… I mean we do, beside the Falls but it is a very Americanized piece of Canada. Nowhere else will you find an IHOP. I was really excited for some Pancakes from the international house of pancakes but sadly I was sorely disappointed. Everything tasted extremely processed and unnatural. Next time I’m in Niagara I think I’ll stick with some all Canadian Tim Horton’s for breakfast instead.

After breakfast we went to the Falls! Despite the extremely cold temperatures I had a great time! The last time I visited the Falls I was only 5 and I have virtually no recollection of this trip. So it essentially felt like the first time for me. I think seeing the Falls in their frozen state was an interesting treat. The water was still flowing but there was a thick layer of ice covering the boulders at the bottom. Add the white mist and it looked like a magic potion that had bubbled up. The American side of the Falls had a lot more frozen chunks, whereas the the Canadian side seemed to be flowing more freely. You can’t really see anything that well in the pictures, but trust me. It was cool. 
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I definitely plan on returning in the summer months to see the Falls flowing in all their glory. Finally, our last stop was Clifton Hill!! This is where all of the entertainment attractions are. You know, restaurants, mini-putt, laser tag, wax museums, chocolate shops, ect. We didn’t have the money to do it all so we decided to do the thing that we can’t do at home. A wax museum! We went to MovieLand. So named because it was filled with wax recreations of movie stars. Not all the statues looked like their celebrity counterpart, but most of them still looked eerily real. Check out some of my Favourites below!

Well that just about sums up my valentines day weekend! How did you celebrate the day of love? With a S.O. or with friends? Share in the comments!

The Bravery of My Sister

This is my “little” sister, Natasha. Also known as Tasha, Tash and Na-cha-cha. I put the little in brackets because while she is younger than me, she is also taller and looks more mature (I think).

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My sister is a flight attendant. This job is something she has been working towards for just over a year and in December it became official. She underwent 6 weeks of grueling and intensive training to get a position and I couldn’t be more proud of her. The thing is… I’ve never actually told her that. I’ve said good job and that’s awesome but I’ve never said Tasha, I am so proud of you. I guess it’s easier to express emotions onto paper (or a computer screen) than it is to say them out loud. Also, we are just getting out of a period where we didn’t get along to well. We just didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things so it was easier to fight about it, we are very close in age so bickering and button pushing comes pretty naturally. Now that I’m thinking about it we haven’t had a nice, endearing moment with one another in a while. And I wish I could say that this post is my way of telling her that I care but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know that I write a blog at all…

So why then am I writing about my sister? Well, same reason I write about anything else. Because I have these thoughts sitting in my brain and I need to get them out. #thisiswhyblogsexist

Anywhoo, back to the point of this post. I am no novice flyer. I’ve flown back and forth to Europe twice, back and forth to Cuba three times, across Canada and to various places in the states. I have no hesitation getting on a plane but when I think about my sister flying here, there and everywhere on a daily basis… It just makes me nervous. Infrequent flying seems totally natural to me but flying everyday seems to be testing the fates. I imagine there are way more flights everyday then crashes, no one ever reports good news after all, but still. BUT STILL!

But still… she loves it. She is having the time of her life up there! Shes personable and smart and exceptionally pretty so customer service comes naturally to her. She has this thrill for adventure and this need to travel so being able to have lunch in Jamaica but still have breakfast and dinner at home is a luxury.  And she is so brave because she is a flight attendant and I am so proud of her!

I would log off and call her right now to tell her all of this but she is actually in Mexico on a layover. Can’t complain about that! So instead I am going to share with you some of our most adorable moments.

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My 21st Birthday
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Our Annual Family Photo Shoot. Circa 2011
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The time she got stitches & I lost a tooth all in the same day.

Holiday Truths & Traditions

Well it sure has been a while since I sat down to write something. Christmas break was wildly busy and when it wasn’t… I was sleeping. Because there is nothing better than a well deserved break.

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My Christmas tree on Christmas Morning!

Let me start by sharing a basic fact of life: Health and fitness is nearly impossible to upkeep during the holiday trifecta. (Definition: the holiday trifecta is the three days of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). That is a proven fact. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a liar or they don’t know how to enjoy life. Either way, don’t trust em.

I had pretty much accepted and embraced the fact that I wasn’t going to be visiting the gym during the holiday trifecta. But for some deluded reason I thought that I was going to stick to a relatively healthy diet. Oh how wrong I was!

Firstly, my 30 day green smoothie challenge didn’t happen. I just couldn’t find the time to chop and blend and clean. I was too busy wrapping and unwrapping and cleaning. Since I skipped a day in week one, and 3 days in week two and I’ll be away in Cuba for all of week three… I’m going to be starting the challenge fresh from day 1 when I come home from my trip. In the meantime, I’ll still be drinking daily green smoothies but they wont count towards my 30 day challenge. giphy

Secondly, between multiple turkey dinners and countless shrimp ring trays health conscious eating didn’t stand a chance. No joke, on Christmas Eve my breakfast was a garlic and cheese flavored pretzel, my lunch was movie theater popcorn and my dinner was  mashed potatoes. Haters gonna hate…

Now, the quick witted among you should be wondering why one of my poor meal choices was movie theater popcorn. I have one word for you, TRADITION! My family, like many others, has a very strict series of holiday traditions. Some of them are tried and true, some of them we invented ourselves. Here is the all inclusive list of Folkes Family Holiday Traditions:

Christmas Eve Afternoon Movie

  • What: Exactly what it sounds like, all 6 of us see an afternoon movie together. Usually the movie is animated and it is always made for kids and families.
  • How it started: When my mother had a 10 year old, an 8 year old, a 3 year old and a 1 year old she decided taking us to a movie was the best way to keep us all quiet for over an hour… at the same time.
  • How long as it been a tradition: This was year number 13. An inclusive list of the movies we’ve seen might find it’s way up here in a few days (stay tuned).
  • This year: We saw Night at the Museum 3. I give it two thumbs up!

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Christmas Eve Family & Friends Potluck Dinner

  • What: Once again, it is exactly like it sounds. A potluck dinner with family friends. Most of the people who come to this thing have been in my life for literally my entire life. We go way, way back.
  • How it started: My mum invited the neighbours over for dinner one Christmas Eve and they have been coming over ever since. As the years went by more and more people were invited. There is now a solid group of 4 families who make an appearance every year.
  • How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
  • This year: Since most of the “kids” are now legal adults we decided to spice things up and play some drinking games! It was a blast. My siblings and I formed a flip cup team and we cleaned house. To be fair my brother wasn’t drinking because he is still a tween, but we still kicked ass. 10891667_10152689839603558_7674013841727582393_n

Christmas Eve Pajamas

  • What: Every year we get new PJs on Christmas Eve. It is mandatory for all kids who attend the potluck to get Pajamas. After we open them we put them on and take pictures.
  • How it started: The idea was that we would be nice and clean for Santa.
  • How long has it been a tradition: As long as I can remember.
  • This year: I got a onesie and it is the most comfortable article of clothing known to man. Also, it has polka dots. Check out how great we look in our nice, new PJs. 10408145_10152682773483558_1365065641968790037_n

Christmas Morning Stockings

  • What: In my house Santa leaves the stocking at the foot of your bed. In the morning (around 8 am or so) we all get up and pile into my parents bed to open them together.
  • How it started: As children, my sister and I liked to show our parents what Santa brought us, and we are still doing that.
  • How long has it been a tradition: Since I was about 5, probably.
  • This year: We discovered that we are too big to all fit in the bed, so we moved the party downstairs to our tv room. With the yuletide fire place station on the tv it was one of the most festive stocking opening sessions we’ve ever had.

Christmas Morning Pictures

  • What: After stockings we set up the self-timer and take a group shot in front of the tree.
  • How it started: Someone said “lets take a picture” and we did.
  • How long has it been a tradition: Four years at least.
  • This year: Grandma took the picture because she has figured out how to touch a touch screen. It was a technological miracle.

After the pictures we eat breakfast and open presents when my grandparents arrive. Then its a leisurely day of fiddling with our new things and playing games. This year we really enjoyed the Ellen App, Heads Up.  The day ends with a delicious Turkey dinner prepared by my mum. And the 26th is dedicated to sleeping and eating leftovers.

Share in the comments: What Holiday traditions does your family have?