Thursday, March 26, 2020

Lifestyle: Grocery Shopping during a Pandemic

Grocery Shopping Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic


It's March 2020. Normally around this time of year, I'd be looking forward to doing my grocery shopping at a farmer's market. But things are very different this year.

In the midst of the Corona Virus Pandemic, businesses have been shut down, schools and restaurants are closed.


Everything in our daily lives has been put on pause or has changed drastically. We have to find a new normal and that is going to take some getting used to.

Grocery shopping is one of those essential tasks that we are going to have to keep up with regardless of the closures and changes.




In order to adjust to our new normal, I've found comfort in a few adjustments to my regular grocery shopping habits.

Perhaps these tips will help you too, as you navigate this new reality - at least for the time being.



Go to the store only when you absolutely must.

We are so fortunate to live in a country that has grocery delivery. If you're able to, use it to reduce the amount of people in stores and the amount of exposure you have to potential germs. I use Instacart and I'd recommend a subscription right now. It's $10 per month and that includes delivery for all purchases over $35. You can request porch delivery which will also help at this time.


If you must go to the store, take precautions.

Choose a local grocer if you can. Not only will you be supporting a small business but they are smaller and usually don't have  a lot of traffic at any given time. It's easier to practice social distancing in these stores. I've seen people wearing disposable gloves, masks and the like when grocery shopping. If you don't have access to those items  you can use a plastic bag to act as a glove. Decide which item you want to buy before you touch it. This is not the time to be touching multiple fruits before you select one.

Other precautions like wiping down your cart and having hand sanitizer with you are always recommended.

When we come home, we shower and change our clothes. The clothes we wore to the store go right in the wash.

Trips to the store must be based on necessary purchases so be quick if you go. We also only have one family member go out for essentials. I'd recommend asking any neighbours or elderly family if they need anything before you go. These small actions will help reduce the chances of community spread.


Buy enough for two weeks

While I don't believe in stockpiling, I do think it is important to make sure you buy enough to reduce the amount of grocery trips you normally make. For example, if I normally shop once or twice a week, my goal will be to go twice as long before I need to buy something.

That means you can't always satisfy every craving, but if you plan ahead, you will have access to what you need to prepare healthy meals at home.


Buy Produce that lasts


For the fresh ingredients on your list, I'd suggest buying a variety of items, especially fruits and veggies that don't spoil quickly.

Turnips, parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, squash, potatoes, rutabaga, broccoli and cauliflower are all vegetables that will last for two weeks or more. Fruits that will keep for awhile include citrus, apples and pears.

I'm not saying don't buy the vegetables/fruits you are used to - what I am saying is buy those but also add some veggies that don't spoil as quickly. When you prepare meals, use up the vegetables/fruits with shorter shelf life in the first week, and make the second week about using the vegetables that are more resilient.


Stock your pantry and freezer

Make sure your pantry is stocked with items that are non-perishable and that will be used in multiple ways. Canned beans, chickpeas, rice, oats, pasta sauce, broth, canned tomatoes, lentils and flour go a long way. When you buy meat or fish, buy a little extra and freeze it. This will help you get more meals out of  your one trip to the store. Frozen fruits and veggies are also great to have on hand for quick, healthy meals.


Buy immunity boosters

Make sure you add some immunity boosters to your list: onions, garlic, ginger, lemons and other citrus are great to add to your cart.


Wipe/Wash what you bring home

Current research shows that COVID-19 can live on plastic for a few days and on cardboard for 24 hours. That means if someone with COVID-19 touched the box of crackers you brought home earlier that day, the virus would still be alive when you bring it home.

If your groceries will be fine in the car over night, you can leave it there. Or you can wipe everything down with disinfectant before you bring it inside your home. This Youtube Video by a Family Physician will give you some great tips on how to disinfect your groceries safely.


Budget

Right now be conscious of needs vs. wants and set a reasonable budget for your groceries. That being said it is also important to have a few snack or 'nice to have items' at home that will help you stay sane during quarantine.

Chocolate, wine and chips seem to be pretty high on many shopping lists.
Taking stock of your fridge, freezer and pantry before you shop and it will help you save money and only buy what you need more of during this time. I write a list of what I have to help me plan meals before I head out.


Hope these tips help you make sense of the new reality we are living these days. Wishing you peace, health and wellness. 

xo Angelie



Saturday, March 14, 2020

Lifestyle: The Importance of Mental Hygiene During COVID 19


With all that's going on in the world right now, I've been feeling like everyone else- shocked, sad, uncomfortable, worried about the global impact of COVID-19.




I'm sure we all know by now the preventative measures that we can take to avoid spreading this virus that is harmful, especially to the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.


  • wash your hands
  • avoid handshakes/hugs as greetings
  • take some social distance and stay home
  • avoid large gatherings and non-essential events
  • cancel international travel or self-isolate for 14 days upon your return if you do travel
Physically, I think we are covered for awhile. But what about mentally? Emotionally?

There's no denying that during this time of uncertainty, emotional well-being is just as important as hygiene. 

Let's Talk About Our Mental Hygiene


I decided to check in with my friend, Dr. Bhante Saranapala, also known as the Urban Buddhist Monk, to hear his thoughts on how to stay grounded and zen during this global health crisis.

Bhante is a spiritual guide as well as a public speaker. We met when I attended his Meditation Retreat at the West End Buddhist Temple back in 2016. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend if you are looking to learn a little more about meditation. You can find out more about my experience here: Meditation Retreat


Here I'm sharing Five Takeaways from our Conversation 



Shift Your Focus

The situation is beyond our control but our actions are in our control. Don't focus on fear. Focus instead on Prevention (follow the advice of doctors),  Elimination (of negative thoughts and unkind actions), Cultivation (of positive thoughts and emotions) and Preservation (keep your immunity up by having faith and channeling your energy to do positive things).



Everything in the World is Impermanent

Understand that this is not permanent. We have seen similar situations in the past and we will likely see them again in the future. This situation is only here for the time being. Everything in life comes, goes and flows. Life itself is all about impermanence. This too will pass.



Mindfulness Changes Everything
Mindfulness is key. Being cautious and aware of what's happening in the moment will help prevent further issues down the line. It's mindfulness that is allowing countries to take preventative measures, mindfulness on the media's part to share positive stories and mindfulness on society's part to do what we can to reduce the impact of this disease. Be mindful of the information you read and how much you take in- if it's affecting your state of mind, or making you feel stressed, limit your consumption.



Meditate

When you are anxious, your breathing becomes shallow. Something simple like concentrating and taking 5 deep, slow breaths can help you feel more present and allows you to stop worrying because you are concentrating on the breathing. It also sends more oxygen to your body, boosting your immunity. 

If you don't know where to start with meditation, you can do what Bhante calls "loving-kindness" meditation. Send positive energy out into the universe and say something peaceful to yourself.

His suggestion: 
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be free from sickness
May I be free from pain
May I be free from danger
May I be free from sadness
May I be free from fear

Once you've meditated on your own wellbeing, Bhante suggests repeating the affirmations for someone you love. Then a friend, a neighbour -then the world. Imagine if every person did this one simple thing - the entire universe would be vibrating at a different level. A feeling of peacefulness would replace the feeling of stress. 


Cultivate Compassion

We are in this together as humankind. As much as the situation is horrible, it also unites us globally. It's so important during times like this to show compassion to one another. Buy only what you need from the stores, check in with elderly friends and neighbours, put the safety of society as a whole before what is "convenient". We are here together and will need to lean on each other to get through this difficult time as well. 

Hope these thoughts resonate with you as you try to navigate your way through all the worries, challenges and negative images we are surrounded with right now. 

Just say it with me: This too shall pass. 

Namaste.



Thanks so much to Dr. Bhante Saranapala for taking the time to share his thoughts.


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Lifestyle: How to be productive (with a baby)

Productivity is no joke when you're a) working from home and b) taking care of a baby while you
do it.



When I post recipes, I sometimes get messages on my Instagram from other women: "How do you do this?" "How do you do everything?"

We all know Instagram is a highlight reel - it's for this very reason I try to make an effort to post some of the good, the bad and the ugly in the interest of keeping it real.

The truth is I really don't do everything and I highly doubt that anyone out there does either. Like everyone else, I pick what's important to me and focus on that.

When I get those few key tasks done, I feel better about myself and about what I've been able to achieve that day.



Aside from taking care of Liyana and playing with her or taking her to activities, my priorities on a daily basis are:

  •  self care (shower, go outside, exercise, try to do something relaxing or fun)
  •  work (blogging, photography, media or other freelance work, professional development - when my mat leave is over I'll also be going back to work part time as a Montessori educator)
  •  make some healthy meals 
  • check in with loved ones and spend time with my hubby



Other things that I often don't get to but would love to have time to do:

  • laundry
  • dishes
  • general house upkeep
  • organizing
  • read for fun
  • shop for myself or do little extra things like get my nails done 
Some days, it does of course bother me that I can't do it all, but I've learned to take pride in my ability to get even a few things checked off my priority list. 

The secret to getting things done

So how do I make sure that I'm being productive with the little free time I do have? I live nap to nap!
Nap time is the key time when I can get personal and household things done.

When Liyana is awake, I like to make sure I'm engaging with her, playing and taking care of her needs and not fixated on screens. So nap time is the ideal time for me to answer emails, finish some work, get meals prepped or to do any of the other important things that need to get done around the house.

I have one key tool that really helps me utilize every nap minute- it's my trusted baby monitor.


My Baby Monitor

The monitor I have is the Panasonic Long Range Baby Monitor. There's lots of reasons why I love it, but here are the key features:

  • virtually unhackable technology
  • extra long range (up to 1500 ft of interference free coverage which is the length of 4 football fields!) 
  • large, clear screen
  • clear night vision 
  • two way talk feature 
  • built in lullabies and white noise (I love this one because I don't need a separate white noise machine)
  • long battery life
  • pan/tilt and zoom option
  • sensors and alerts for movement and sound
The monitor has so many amazing features and it is definitely at the top of my list for must have baby products.

These days, Liyana's naps change from day to day and so I have to make use of that small window of me time that I get.



Like it is for any mom, my child's safety is paramount, especially if I have to step away to another room. The Panasonic Long Range monitor is virtually unhackable because it does not use wifi technology. 


With the recent stories on the news about monitors being hacked, this was something I didn't have to worry about because I knew that my monitor was much more secure than a model using wifi. As a parent, this extra confidence is everything when there's so much on our minds already.

I also love the Long- Range capabilities because it means I can make the most of nap time when it comes. I take advantage and do whatever I can manage during that time. Sometimes I'm able to get a meal prepared, do a short yoga session or some laundry in the basement.

Having the long range feature means that when the weather is nice, Kunal and I can enjoy some drinks on the porch or hang out with friends in the backyard while we still keep a watchful eye on our sleeping babe. We will take as many small doses of adult time as we can get, thank you very much!

If you are in the market for  a secure and reliable baby monitor, this one gets my vote. The good news is, it's also on sale at Best Buy and Amazon until March 5th!




 This post is in partnership with Panasonic Canada, as always all views are my own. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Motherhood: One year of Life and a Lifetime of lessons

Sharing Lessons from My First Year of Motherhood



To say that Motherhood changes you would be an understatement. From the moment you 
know you are carrying a baby, you have a new heightened awareness. 

You become cautious and you think deeply about everything. You research what you
should eat, you think twice about where you stand, you notice who's around you, where you walk, what you think…. everything. 
 by Katie Fife Photography

From the outside, you look like the same person (more or less), but inside you are forever 
changed. Now there is someone who's well-being you consider first and foremost, always and probably
forever.


It's a special bond and it's a big change. For a woman, there are so many moments during the
first year, when you feel yourself shifting. At times there's a struggle of trying to hold on to how 
things were, other times it's easy to embrace and to go with the flow. 


 by Katie Fife Photography


As I approach one year of life with my babe, I'm celebrating a milestone for her and a milestone 
for me too. 


There are countless BIG lessons I've learned in this one incredible, transformative year. 
So I thought I'd pick some and share them here.



Be present

This was the first most noticeable lesson. Being present and aware is helpful to ensure your
child is safe and that you're following their cues for sleep/hunger of course but it also helps 
you slow down and enjoy your baby. 


Baby wants to sleep on you all day? Embrace it. They are only this little once. Everything 
else can and should wait during this magical time when your little one needs you more than ever. 


 by Katie Fife Photography

Takeaway: This entire year has felt like our sense of time shifted, just following her lead-
but slowing down means I'll always remember the little faces she made when she was a 
newborn or how she taught herself to crawl and that is truly priceless.


Let go 


This year has taught me to let go. Let go of the dishes piling in the sink. Let go of the desire 
to "do everything". 

You can't actually do everything, by the way - at least not at the same time. And that has to be ok.
As moms and women, I think we need to make that ok for each other. And if you're a man 
reading this, please make it ok for the women in your life. 

Learning to accept that I can't take care of my baby's needs, look after myself, 
cook every meal or maintain a certain level of tidiness all at once, was a shift in perspective. 

Takeaway: I learned to prioritize - 1) baby 2) me 3) healthy meals for my family and 
everything else I decided I'd get to when I got to it, or I had to let go.


 by Katie Fife Photography

You are your own (and your child's) biggest advocate



You have to look out for yourself and your family. That might mean making difficult choices. 
It might mean you can't be everywhere and it might mean you have to have some difficult 
conversations. 

No one really knows how much you have on your plate when they ask something of you, 
so it's really up to you to decide whether you can or cannot oblige. Learning to say yes 
only when I really can has been crucial.

Takeaway: When you have less time, sleep and energy to work with, you just have to 

make a conscious decision to only take on what you can manage. 



Protect yourself and your headspace



This was a huge year of growth. I had to learn to stand up for myself in big and small ways. 
When you are dedicating yourself to be a caretaker and constantly pouring from your cup, 
you have to be sure that those around you are there to help recharge you. 

This year, I had to learn to be fiercely protective of my heart, my mind and my time. We all 
only have so much energy so it's important to have positivity around you - especially during
this first critical year when you're getting your bearings.

Takeaway: If the interactions aren't peaceful, don't give you positive vibes or press your 
recharge button, stepping away is probably in your best interest.






 by Katie Fife Photography

Embrace your village 


As someone who has always been self-sufficient, it took a change in mindset to take the help 
I was offered and to use the services that are available. They exist 
because there is a need for them! 

Things like grocery delivery, drive through coffee, housekeeping and meal prep services can
really save you a lot of time and energy when your baby is going through a growth spurt, 
teething or whatever else. 

Takeaway: If you can outsource some of your to do list, do it.



Everything is always in Flux


In the first year of a baby's life (and probably beyond but I'm not there yet), everything is 
always changing.

There's changes in their sleep patterns, feeding patterns, developmental changes and 
behavioural changes. Knowing that these changes were coming and learning to accept them when they hit was a big lesson.

It helped me stay calm and mindful when we had to re-strategize and change our approach. 

Takeaway: In the first year, don't get married to any of the baby's tendencies or habits (good or bad). They are likely going to shift soon enough as they continue to grow and develop.




 by Katie Fife Photography
No doubt this entire year has been full of growth, learning and change. It's been challenging, beautiful and full of emotion. My heart has never been so full of love and I've truly never felt stronger in my life.

To my sweet daughter, (maybe you will read this one day)
Thank you for these and many more priceless lessons that you have taught me in such a short time. My favourite lesson of all, is how to love unconditionally. You made that one so easy.

Love,
Mama












Sunday, February 2, 2020

Lifestyle: Handling Meal Prep

Meal Prep is Best

Weekly (or rather, bi-weekly) Meal Prep is one of the rituals I have that makes my life better, easier and makes me a little more zen on the regular.



If I can't or don't start my week with some healthy meals ready to go, I literally feel off balance, stressed and slightly unnerved.

Why? Because Meal Prepping is so deeply aligned with some of my core values: to eat clean and healthy foods, to save time, to save money, to be organized, to prepare...


I could probably list a few more reasons why Meal Prep is one of my most important rituals but more importantly I'd love to share some of my weekly Meal Prep stars as well as the dishes I make with them.

These are the items that make it on to my grocery list week by week, ensuring I get off to a great start. If you are hoping to get on the Meal Prep train in 2020 or just looking for some new ideas that might make meal planning a little easier, I hope you find some inspiration in my grocery/menu favourites below.



Ground Chicken or Turkey

  • tacos
  • wraps
  • pasta sauce
  • burgers or meatballs

Whole Roast Chicken

  • soup
  • pasta
  • wraps or sandwiches
  • salads



Zuchini, Red Peppers, Cucumber. Broccoli, Spinach or Lettuce, Carrots and Celery

  • soups
  • curries
  • pasta
  • side dishes

Sweet Potato, Turnips or Squash
  • soups
  • curries
  • pasta
  • side dishes


Quinoa or Brown Rice

  •  side dish
  • healthy addition to bowls or soups


Healthy Tortilla Wraps

  • breakfast burritos
  • tacos
  • thin pizzas
  • wraps

Salmon, Shrimp, Chicken Breast

  • Garlic Shrimp or Baked Salmon cook very quickly (about 15 minutes- great for those busy days)
  • Chicken is great for curries, stirfrys or in a noodle or pasta dish
Lentils, Beans

  • soups
  • curries
  • add to salads or wraps
  • bean dip/spread

Eggs

  • curries
  • sandwiches
  • mini frittatas
Berries, Half Melon, apples, pears, lemons, limes
  • oatmeal
  • as a snack/dessert
  • to enhance the flavour of food or water
Hope these ideas help you get a leg up on your meal prep this month! If there are any "meal prep stars" in your household, I'd love to hear about them. Leave me a comment below or on Instagram @angeliesood