when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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I work from home now

Work (the kind that generates an income) has not been something I have been able to fit into my life the last two-and-half years. Having two babies 16 months apart has kept things busy to say the very least. But, opportunity has presented itself and I feel ready to dive into a new endeavour – one that is very, very foreign to me.

About a year ago, I heard about a company called Arbonne which commits itself to providing and toxin-free and eco-friendly comestics and more. I bought shampoo and conditioner, the ingredients of which were enticing in themselves (fresh kiwi and carrot cells). Fast forward to today, I am now an Independent Consultant and eager to launch my new business!

moisturizers, cleansers, sunscreens, oils, non-toxic, eco friendly, healthy choice

I deliberated over making this decision for a while because I have always felt repelled by the consumer driven society we live in that’s sole purpose to sell you whatever they can with no care as to how it promotes waste, greed and leaves our earth bearing the aftermath as landfills grow and pollutants devastate our atmosphere.

So here’s the thing with Arbonne. I buy shampoo; I sunscreen; I buy moisturizer and a dozen different products, some of which do not have the integrity of considering how the environment is impacted not to mention our bodies. All of Arbonne’s products are made without the use of parabens, formaldehyde, animal by products, synthetic dyes, BPA, benzene, phosphates, etc..

Cosmetics are supposed to enhance our bodies, not deposit toxic chemicals into our bodies that will later show themselves in health issues.

As a mother, I am ever more aware and in search of safe products to use for my children which is why I didn’t hesitate to purchase Arbonne’s baby care sunscreen.

baby sun scree, sensitive, toxin free, eco friendly, best choice

baby, sun screen, Arbonne, best choice

I’d like to feature my favourite product at present. These warm spring days are bringing out those oh so lovely pheromones, well lovely to my husband anyway and not so much to everyone else! I rather prefer the smell of mint don’t you?

eco-friendly, non toxic, smells lovely, healthy choice

The other thing I respect about Arbonne is that they are happy to share their products to be sampled before purchasing! How often do you buy something because the sells rep at your local pharmacy said it was wonderful, only to get home and realize after a few days that you skin doesn’t think it’s wonderful? This is why Independent Consultants sell as opposed to big stores that won’t remember you and only want to see a receipt and an unopened bottle upon return.

So wish me well, friends, in my endeavour – I hope to share what I know and promote healthier options for items that we all buy anyways!

Check out Arbonne’s website!

If you are interested in any products and would like to order online, please use my referral Arbonne Consultant ID #: 116501659. You can also place a direct order with me via email: virginiaannebowen@gmail.com.

 

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Oliver Wesley’s birth story

Oliver, you were born  into the brightness of morning. Looking out the window as I arrived at St. Mary’s hospital that May 29th, 2013 morning, I reflected on how different this delivery was already gearing up to be than my labour with your brother. In a sentence, it was smooth sailing.

It was just your dad and I – my labour with you progressed quite calmly (as calmly as labour can be anyway!). I had Braxton Hicks contractions the whole day before and was quite certain you were going to arrive very soon. I texted my good friend Amanda, who was my doula for Shae, and asked her what she thought. She was confident that “real” labour would commence probably in the early morning. And just after 2 a.m., I had a strong contraction that woke me up.  I lay there trying to fall back to sleep for half an hour but it wasn’t going to happen. I got out of bed and eased myself onto the couch and Googled labour and when it’s a good idea to get oneself to the hospital! I remember reading a bit about if you can still talk through your contractions, you can probably stay at home still. So I sat there and talked to myself through a few contractions.

“I can still talk through this, yeah, it’s pretty strong but I can still talk…oooo….that was a bit stronger than before.” I giggled a little at how silly I must have looked.

The contractions continued at around five minutes apart and about a minute long and were growing in intensity although they were still quite manageable. I decided to have a shower. I was not going to the hospital with greasy hair this time, that was for sure. That was the first shower I’ve ever taken at 3 a.m., Oliver.:-)

After my shower, I crawled back into bed with your Dad who awoke. We lay there for the next two hours deliberating over when we should call my doula, Brit, and our friends, Julie and Bryon, who would be looking after your older brother. We agreed around 5 a.m. based on the progress on my labour.

By the time Julie arrived, I was not talking so well through those contractions anymore if at all. Julie was excited as was I and while your dad took our dog to a friends house to be looked after, Julie prayed for me and you and the delivery. I felt peaceful and confident as Jesse and I drove 25 minutes to the hospital in Sechelt.

Arriving there, we walked ourselves straight up to the maternity ward and the night nurse greeted us warmly and led us into the spacious room where you would be born. Through the huge windows that overlooked the Extra Foods grocery store and other shopping venues, I could also see the ocean and lush coast line. This was so different than Richmond. What’s more is I was the only woman in labour of the two other women in the maternity ward so I had both nurses to myself.:-)

Dr. Bryson arrived shortly after us, around 6 a.m., and together, we awaited your arrival. That was it. No drama, no fuss, no worry, just a mama doing what her body was designed to do and lovely nurses telling her she could yell as loud as she liked because there was really no one around anyway. Funny though, I didn’t holler nearly as bad as I did the first time. But as with my labour with your brother, I got to thinking that epidural sounded mighty nice and like last time, it was just too late to get it because guess what, I was already fully dilated by the time we got to the hospital! I whimpered between contractions because I knew that even though they were hurting bad now, they were about to get a whole lot worse! In a comedic moment that I wasn’t actually able to laugh at because of the contraction I was experiencing, I looked over at your dad who was steadily gazing into my eyes with a gaping mouth and a bobbing head. I realized that he was trying to remind me to keep loose hands and a open mouth (something Amanda had told us was important during labour). I wish I could have snapped a shot of your funny dad, Oliver.

And then, I felt your head crowning and in about 20 minutes, I felt that head swoosh out of me as I hung off the back of the upright bed on my knees. I heard your cry and breathed in sweet relief. It was 8:09 am. It was done and I was no longer pregnant! And there you were, blonde fuzzy hair and what’s down there? …..Balls! We had another boy and within a couple hours, we decided that you were Oliver Wesley Bowen – 6 lbs, 6 oz. and 21 inches of beautiful baby with enormous nostrils and a sweet, heart shaped face. We love you so much!

birth day, 6 b 6 oz big nostrils


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Carrot and Walnut cake {Recipe}

Cake is an indulgence typically – one must be careful as to how much they consume or else induce the cake coma –  you know, that sluggish feeling you get after eating too much of a good thing.

Or not so good thing…

I have a solution for you that will appease your craving for after dinner tea and cake and will not leave your stomach and outer extremities feeling the aftermath.

Carrot and Walnut Cake ~ brought to you by theherbdiaries.com

vegan cake, yummy, healthy

Ingredients:

  • 2 grated carrots
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp of almond butter
  • 1 flax egg (1tbsp ground flax seeds soaked in roughly 3 tbsp of water)
  • Maple syrup to taste (I used 3 tbsp, and then maybe a dash more)
  • 2 medjool dates
  • 1 tsp round Ginger
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of buckwheat flour (I used only 1 cup which I ground myself from buckwheat groats I just happened to have in my cupboard)
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil

Icing:

  • 2 tbsp of almond butter
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oïl
  • Walnuts halves to decorate

For those of you lucky enough to own a food processor, I’d just throw the works in there. If not, you can do what I did and mash them bananas and dates by hand with this potato masher thing IMG_5241

The batter should be sticky and thick and needing to be scooped into your cake pan. Bake at approximately 350 degrees – you know your oven best, for 30-40 minutes. Again, your oven might not be as hot as mine because I took out a finished cake at the 25 minute mark!

Allow to cool and then drizzle on the icing and garnish with walnuts because they make it look that much more tasty!

This cake is actually GOOD for you so eat and enjoy a couple pieces without worry!

Note: I will be honest with you, this will not taste anything like your typical flour, sugar, milk and eggs cake so do not be let down when your taste buds aren’t greeted with sugary sweetness.

 


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The mommy guilt

There is a strong theme of illogical behaviour on the part of us moms throughout our mothering days. We worry even though we all know worrying doesn’t change anything; we repeat phrases that we know they will be ignored, [some of us] tidy up the toys mid-day just because it bugs the heck out of us to see them scattered all over the floor!

And on top of that, many of us are plagued with mommy guilt.

Mommy guilt: the state in which a mother feels bad for her child’s suffering be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Often occurs even when the circumstances are not within the mother’s control.

I have got to come to terms with the fact that I am and never will be a perfect parent. No duh, I know. But from the way I let myself be riddled with guilty emotions, it would seem that nothing short of perfect is good enough for me as a parent. I can’t help but feel it’s partly my fault that my toddler is acting out because he isn’t getting enough sleep (though I diligently get a nap in for him each day, even though that means putting him in the stroller or going for a walk). My husband and I have been implementing a new bedtime strategy and response to his protests and early (5 am) wake-ups.  I avoid making dinner plans with friends because that means he won’t get to bed til later, resulting in an overtired kid and and immensely cantankerous one the following day if not two! I try my best to have our dinner on the table by 5:30 p.m. so that we can start bedtime immediately after since he protests for a minimum of 30-45 minutes. And still, life happens. Friends visit and stay the night, weekends with family away from home are enjoyed with the days following spent trying to get “back on track” with the toddler with fights authority on every level and most of all with sleep.

I don’t know if the shadowed rings under my son’s eyes are hereditary or caused by lack of sleep. I feel responsible though, even though I try my best every day and night to help him get enough sleep and to eat his vegetables.

I am sure I will look back on this time in years to come and realize that ultimately, he was happy and healthy and he lived through it. But honestly, I could cry from frustration, feeling that I just can’t seem to do right by him in this area. I hear past comments of friends and family repeat like a broken record in my brain. “Car naps just aren’t the same,” “Children shouldn’t have dark circles under their eyes” “He’s fine (this when insisting we need to leave from whatever engagement we are at to get him home to bed a good time).”

I know I can’t stop living, although honestly, if it were just me, I probably would become somewhat of a hermit, imprisoned by my children’s needs. Ridiculous, I know. But oftentimes, I would rather just stay home than go out to a friend’s place for dinner because I don’t want to deal with the screaming, irrational and tired toddler the next day when the entertainment is gone and his fatigue catches up with him.

I have mommy guilt.

I don’t need to be told “it’s fine; he won’t remember any of this.” I need to know that I am doing a good job even when the day is one screaming fit to another.

I need to know I’m not alone and there are other moms who feel this way.

Most of all, I need to somehow accept life as it happens even when it hinders my stubborn toddler from getting the rest he needs.

sleeping toddler, car naps


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The mess is worth it {Recipe}

Dinner last night was DELICIOUS if I do say so myself and must be shared here. A tasty combination of coconut and Indian spices came together to make a satisfying and vegan meal loaded with essential nutrients and protein.

Cauliflower and Lentil Coconut Curry                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Courtesy of Angela @ Vegangela.com

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ⅓ cup dry red lentils
  • 250 ml vegetable broth, hot
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 400 ml can coconut milk
  • ¾ cup frozen green beans or peas, thawed and drained
  • large handful of spinach (optional)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Begin by sauteing the onions in oil for a few minutes until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and turmeric and cook for a couple more minutes. Stir in vegetable broth and lentils and cover to simmer for 10 minutes. In the mean time, brown cauliflower florets in a tablespoon or so of oil and then add to lentil mixture along with the coconut milk and carrots.

yumminess cooking

Add beans, peas and spinach if using (I actually didn’t even add these last few ingredients because I was in a rush to get my kids fed!) and cook for another 10 minutes or until desired tenderness of veggies. Add cilantro and lemon juice and salt and pepper just before serving over rice.

vegan meal, delicious, protein in every bite

Oh, and this is what my kitchen looks like at the end of it. My kids like to help. 😉

oatmeal on floor, dirty dishes, foods bits, cooking with kids


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Vegans: Odd or Enlightened? {Taking a step outside the meat box}

vegan eating, meat and dairy free

Okay, so there are some things happening around here.

We are becoming “that” family. You know, the ones who are actually crazy enough to plan on building and living in a mud hut (better known as cob house and seriously, way cool), the type who opt for natural remedies and medicines before filling a prescription at the pharmacy; the kind who are willing to give the vegan diet a go…

That last one kind of just happened. I’ll admit, I’ve been of the thought that vegans were “an odd bunch” to say the least.

It started with a documentary – gotta love another person’s compilation of regurgitated information. We all know that the meat industry practices are highly controversial and downright cruel but what do you do? Most of us aren’t in the position to farm our own cattle or poultry for consumption or even have a small farmer down the road to support. I feel like too much of my life has already been spent defending why I can’t change things and simply resigning myself to the age old expression “that’s just how it is.” I am increasingly willing and ready to see how myself and my family can try different ways of sustaining ourselves outside of the standard model (buy big houses, multiple vehicles, work lots, fill time and keep busy, shop for cheap and quick, fall asleep by the light of our smart phones, repeat). Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means saying any of this is bad or that I am giving up my smartphone. I honestly don’t know what conscious living means for me but it is something I am passionate about pursuing it. To me, it simply means seeking to reduce my carbon footprint and make more mindful choices regarding my food consumption. Which brings me back to the vegan thing. Our plan is to eat a vegan diet for one month with the exception of eggs since we buy them from a neighbour’s coop down the road.

Why are we going vegan this month?

  1. Why not? There’s a possibility mine and my boys’ skin issues might clear up (We have sensitivities to cow’s milk, mild but still annoying).
  2. So many meal plans (my own included) are centered around meat despite the fact that a diet high in meat leads to high cholesterol. Why not explore a world of getting all the protein we need without consuming meat? Might just add some new standby dishes to the old reliables (spaghetti, tacos, chicken stir fry…).
  3. I’m not okay with being indifferent to the factory farming practices anymore. It’s not a simple choice and I don’t judge anyone (ourselves included) for being meat eaters. I just want to step back and evaluate how much meat I want/need in my life.
  4. Meat production and distribution accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than all mechanical transportation around the globe combined.

Some interesting facts…

  • Canadians consumed approximately 238.32 lbs. of meat (per capita) in 2002 – think about eating approximately 953 4 oz. burgers a year.  Only 40 years earlier, that number was 177.47 lbs ( roughly 710 burgers).
  • In 2011, 42,043 people died of coronary heart disease in Canada accounting for 21.84 per cent of all deaths. The same year in South Korea, only 6,587 people died by the same disease according to The World Health Organization. Might this have something to do with the fact that South Koreans eat 56 per cent less meat than Canadians? I’m betting it has something to do with it.
  • Livestock farming results in the creation of 90 million tonnes of methane. According to a journal article that appear in Elsevier (2009) regarding food and climate research, global meat production accounts for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
  • Meat and dairy consumption is predicted to double by 2050 despite GHG needing to drop by at least 50 per cent each year in lieu of potentially dangerous consequences.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, I like eating meat. I love cheese. I don’t actually want to cut these things out forever. But, I am pretty excited to discover new ways of cooking and baking and I will be sure to post my favourites here in this space. Who doesn’t get tired of the same old, same old?

chipotle veganaise, vegan cheese, lots of veggies

Disclaimer: Research shown is not a product of cutting and pasting but rather hours of scouring documents and articles in search for legitimate sources.

Sources: