Going KALE Crazy

I’m sitting here in my kitchen nibbling on kale chips and reading over  Journey Beyond Breast Cancer’s latest round up of posts  . . . and I’m thinking isn’t this just perfection? Okay, add in  a cup of tea and all the world becomes a pinch more lovely, but I won’t brew a pot right now since friends are coming round later, and I don’t want to get a premptive caffeine buzz.

But you should know about these chips. Firstly, kale is awesome healthy for you. It’s a tough leaf, no doubt, and normally it takes considerable baking or slow-cooking to break it down . . . but with this chip trick, it’s just so darn easy (and so darn delicious) I can’t think of any reason we’re shouldn’ all be snacking on kale right this moment.

So here’s what you do:

Buy kale

Go home and turn your oven onto about 375 degrees.

Slice the leafy bits off of the stem (don’t cut yourself!) and stick the stems in your compost (or whatever, save them for later if you’d prefer – and let me know what you’re doing with them, please. I’m totally curious).

Clean the leafy bits.

Put leaves into a dish and drizzle with oil, and add some salt.   Mix.

Stick the kale onto a tray with that silicone sheet thing, or some parchment paper. (Or maybe directly onto the tray, but I haven’t tried that method.)

Stick into oven for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, take out and check . . . then stick them back in for about 4-6 minutes depending on your oven. I generally cook for at least 6 more minutes, totallying about 11 minutes.

Take out and make sure it’s all crispy, if not then stick it back in for another minute.

Take out.

EAT.

And bask in the glory of  kale chips. :) Healthy and delish!

 

Taxing trials and after-quakes

This week has been a head-spinner. It’s been a week where I’ve had to remind myself the golden lesson that cancer has the instant ability to teach: just lay off the stress, girl.  Relax, sister. Of course it took me a while to remember this valuable lesson, since I was head-deep in my ‘what the frack’ mode .  . . but practise makes perfect, and eventually I gave up my load. You know what that’s like? Sometimes stepping away from a problem feels like an impossible option . . .  so then how do you make the impossible possible?

Chantal and me at the LGFB shoot.

In the meanwhile, great things have been happening. Over the past couple weeks I’ve had a photo shooting adventure, finished my eighth out of nine stories for my lovely creative project, blogged for this great start-up company (and wrote the posts well, if I can say so myself), and largely became used to being alone. In fact, I started relishing my walks to the cafe. Alone Catherine is a productive Catherine. (Though I still miss my man!)

But!

Then I tried to do my taxes, again, and my head spun off into the atmosphere. You see, last year I earned a modest amount of freelancing income. Yay! But at the same time . . . how the heck do I prepare my taxes as a ‘small business –other’?  Apart from the wonderful discovery that expenses equal deductions (cue me combing my past visa bill and sourcing receipts online. Oh my goodness, did I really spend that much on my writing . . .yes, apparently I did), this tax season has my brain sizzling with anxiety.

Zsolt and I were in disagreement over getting an accountant. He wanted to save the money, I wanted to save the headache – but when push came to shove, and my meltdown alarms were ringing with the complications of my situation, we found ourselves a compromise (with the guidance of my parents, and considering the money saved from all those expenses I dug up). I guess we all move beyond times when we cannot find solutions, it’s just that limbo between problem and answer that gets me all stressed and stupid.

Whew.

But you know what? Even after agreeing on a compromise, the stress was still resonating through me! Like after-effects of an earthquake – my mental health was having after quakes: nerves and emotions totally unstable.

Which is when I remembered the blog post I’d written not so long ago, and thought, “yes, what a good idea,” and decided to do something to counteract that stress. Basically, I returned not to my writing (though this is lovely) and not to my conversations, but opened my Bonusprint program and began picking through pictures of our Greece vacation, making a photo book for the company to print.

Ah, the loveliness of creativity coupled with happy memories. And as I indulged in something that made me feel good – a creative project that had nothing to do with taxes, work, or obligation (and yet wasn’t television, cause while that’s entertaining it doesn’t change my mood) I began to feel more and more like myself.

I have a two-for-one deal with the Bonusprint people, so today I’m going to make a second photo book: the summer of 2011. It was a pretty freaking glorious summer, even if the winter involved a lot of catching up . . . and so why not? Right?

Sometimes when you’ve dipped your head in the pool of stress, and even after you’ve  pulled back out and found a solution  to the problem . . . sometimes you still need to recover yourself. Heck, we all know about that! Anyone facing any kind of challenge has had to nurse the after-effects.

So there you go, photo-booking and it feels soooo good.

P.S. The above beautiful photo was shared by Jason Kang on Totem Brand Stories‘ facebook wall, and was snapped by the talented Donna Griffith at last week’s Lives Affected by Cancer shoot. This was before the return of winter, where Chantal and I look optomistic in our spring dresses!

Picture day in Toronto

Okay, I’m here at my cafe and ready to write. The weather outside is bizarrely fine considering it’s still March, and I’m dressed in an outfit that my husband would 100% hate (I look like a neon pink hippie). So, the time has come to relive yesterday in the written form, and it involves owl eyes, bright yellow dresses, and throwing flowers in the air.

Doesn’t that sounds quite idyllic. Actually it was a photo shoot in Toronto (not exactly idyllic, but still good fun) for the Look Good Feel Better 20th anniversary magazine, Lives Affected by Cancer. As mentioned, I’ve written an article for the issue that dips into the impact of cancer and treatment on a couple’s love life, which is huge, freaking huge, and ripples out into everything, then ripples back in upon itself . . . like some freaking never ending cycle of crabbiness and – !!!! A man in the cafe just unleashed a hurricane from his mouth – Where was I? Oh, it’s a difficult situation that hardly ever gets discussed. So we’re discussing it.

And it’s a tricky concept to photograph as well. But wisely the art director choose to work with the idea of flowers and lightness – and hey, how brilliant? While sex is SEX (Wohoo!), it’s also sweetness, gentleness and romance. Flowers are very appropriate.

So yesterday morning I go up way too early and joined the art director (I so want to say his name, but lately I’m not really sure if I’m able. Am I able?) as we took a cab across Toronto and arrived at the studio. We initially arrived at the wrong studio, a few buildings down and only realized this upon knocking on the wrong apartment door, which sheds some light on how tired we felt.

But eventually we made it.

Unlike the first photo shoot for Glow, this place had a completely different vibe. Firstly, it was empty except for the photographer and her assistant. Secondly, it was a huge space. Big windows and 30 foot ceilings, white painted everything and pillars so large I couldn’t wrap my arms around them. Why, why, why don’t they make these buildings anymore? It was magnificent.

People began to trickle in. And in. And in. Seems to me these photo shoots are highly complex – not to mention the editing and planning of a magazine. The magazine designer was explaining how much work went into the project, and it sounds nearly endless. No wonder every little job needs to be considered, and it’s incredible to watch them integrate their roles like clockwork.

So we stared with makeup and a lovely man helped me look natural, fresh and beautiful. He took the curlers to my lashes and gave them a good pinching (during which I was frozen – mannequin like), then added mascara and a tiny bit of shadow at the edges of my eyes. Sexy! Yet sweet. Way more make emphasis than I’d ever dare to use, but the result was striking.

And then came the dress. Think of something from the 1960s that a woman would wear to lunch out with the girls . . . think lemon drops and traces of white flowers . . . think about Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn. That was my dress.  (It was too large so they clipped it at the back, and I wore my hiking socks since they weren’t photographing my full body. Ridiculous yet comfortable.) The makeup artist (and he was certainly an artist) touched up my lips with a bit of pink that popped against the yellow.

And then the shooting began. Goodness me. I am NOT a model – it makes me wonder, why is it easy to look interesting and friendly in front of the mirror at home, but when people are watching and the camera pops, and someone says “Happy! Be happy” . . . why is it suddenly so darn awkward?

But I did my best. The previous Glow shoot photographer had me saying, “Ha ha ha!” so I tried it here : “Ha ha ha!” And then other people started saying “Ha ha ha!” along with me . . . we were all standing there saying, “Ha ha ha!” and it was quite surreal.

Ha-ha-ha.

Surreal, but fun. The makeup artist came over and fixed my hair constantly, thank goodness for that because often times he’d give me little tips on how to move or what to do with my legs which was really helpful.

Along the theme of flowers, I threw petals into the air, picked at a bouquet, and smelled the chrysanthemums. It was all very light and fun. Really fun, despite my nerves.

And then there was the video. Talk about uncomfortable! You see, during the shoot not everyone came round to watch – just the photographer, the prop stylist, the clothing stylist, the assistant, the makeup artist and the designer. There were a ton of other people hanging around too. But with the video EVERYONE had to watch.

Basically this video is going to be shown around the web and at events. It’s about Look Good Feel Better and Facing Cancer Together – my particular bit was mostly about blogging and the online community. (Hello community!)

Therefore, the light switches were flipped off and spot lights were turned onto my face (“Good lighting” assured the makeup artist, which somehow made me feel comforted – not that lighting worries had ever entered my mind . . . but nevertheless, I felt better.) and everyone had to be quiet. No mobiles. No moving. No talking. No light (except for the spotlight.)

So basically it was impossible to not watch the filming. However, while the idea intimidated me, the actual execution was alright. When bright lights get shot into your eyes, the watching crowd disappears.  Hopefully I was coherent – sometimes I’d use the wrong word and catch myself about ten seconds later, way after the sentence had passed by and couldn’t be corrected. But whatever. It was the real, second-guessing, me, and I reckon that translates okay onto film. (Or at least, I hope!)

The truly remarkable thing about this photo shoot was how smoothly it ran. With so many people criss-crossing one another, and so many aspects of the production collected in one room – it’s a miracle of good planning and professionalism that the project ran so smoothly. I’m truly impressed with each person in that room and the role they played.

Despite being nervous – totally nervous – about getting my photo taken . . . it was great to be in such a capable crowd, and supported 100% by their kindness and vision for this magazine. The upcoming issue of Lives Affected by Cancer will be hitting stands (as an insert in fashion magazines – how exciting) come next August. Judging by the way things went yesterday, it’s going to be an outstanding issue.

Sometimes you get lucky, eh, and get to be part of something great. Yesterday was something great, and I know Look Good Feel Better and Facing Cancer Together are programs that certainly deserve greatness.

So keep an eye on those newsstands. But don’t let this weather trick you, it’s not August yet.

P.S. I met Michael Carrera – blogger at Facing Cancer Together and personal trainer extraordinaire. But you know what, I’ll write more about that later, because I feel quite strongly about the usefulness of getting a physical trainer post chemotherapy, and it deserves a separate post.