Monthly Archives: October 2012

Peru from the perspective of my iPhone


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2-year anniversary and marriage management practices


J and I recently marked our 2 year wedding anniversary.  Actually, it was in May, but we ended up celebrating in September.  If year one of marriage could be described by the word “adjustment”, I would say that year 2 would be described with the word “comfort”.  It was during year two where I felt that J and I were actually a family unit as opposed to two people playing house and it was during year two that our year 1 newly formed routines started to feel like old habits and just our regular way of life.

It was also in year two that I learned the joys of managing my marriage the way I would manage a business.  Although it sounds a bit silly, when you consider the fact that we live in a society in which over 50% of marriages end in divorce, taking pro-active and intentional measures towards managing one’s marriage doesn’t seem so silly after all.  Think about it: we spend so much time in our work lives managing, projects, clients, and resources, and yet, we often expect our marriages to work naturally without a hitch.

So, with that in mind, here are some practices that J and I have instituted over the past couple of years:

1) Family meetings

When I got married, I quickly learned that as un-romantic as it sounds,  a family is in many ways an entity that requires a lot of administration.  Events need to be organized, gifts need to be bought, meals need to be planned, rsvps need to go out, finances need to be tracked, etc, etc.  It all seems like so much more when there are two people involved than when it was just me.  I can only imagine how much more this must be when kids are involved! In any case, after a while of feeling like I was chasing J with papers and questions, I decided to create what we now know as “Debs’ family meetings”.  The initial idea was to have these once a week or once a month, but realistically, they only happen when one of us calls one.  I take these meetings very seriously, creating a list of agenda items to be discussed (which is sent to all family members).  I also take notes at the meetings, and then, I send out the meeting minutes afterwards.  I realise this is a bit extreme, and that you may be laughing at me, but say what you will, these tactics keep us organized!  These little meetings allow us to  plan our vacations ahead of time, buy all of our gifts months before the holidays and generally keep life stresses at a minimum!

2) Year in Reviews

Another thing we (well, me, but J plays along) like to do is to do a “year in review” at the end of the year.  This little review allows us to reflect on our year – our achievements (both personal and as a couple), highlights from the year (this could be anything from favorite dinners to trips to funny moments), as well as areas in our marriage where we feel we are doing well, and areas in which we feel that we could improve.  It is also an opportunity for us to have open and honest communication, and allow for any conversations that should have been had, but for whatever reason, have not.

Although I do not do so as formally, I also view my close friendships as needing to be managed.  I have learned over the years that investing in good friendships is so worth it, and that in order for friendships to grow, they need to be managed and maintained. I often encourage my close friends to communicate their expectations of our friendship and to allow me to communicate mine, to ensure that we are both on the same page, and that one of us isn’t disappointing the other.
How about you? Do you “manage” your relationships (if so, how?)? Or does this seem completely control freakish to you?

Teachable moment


The other day, I had a teachable moment. J and I were preparing for a dinner party that we were hosting. I was making stuffed butternut squash (more on that in another post) and J was helping me by grating the carrots. When he got close to the end of the carrot, he accidentally slipped and sort of grated his finger. His finger bled and he was in pain. When he came back from cleaning it up, I told him not to worry about the rest, and that besides, it was just the stump of the carrot that was left anyway. J insisted on continuing and finishing what he started. He said something like “if you don’t finish what you’ve started when it’s not important, you won’t finish what you’ve started when it is important”.

He was totally right, and it’s so true. If it were me, I would have totally felt sorry for myself for my bleeding finger and I would have been content to eat the stump of the carrot and move on with my life. And maybe that would have been ok. But nonetheless, J got me thinking about my habits and my patterns, and about how the small and unimportant events are really what help shape our character for the more important events. I know that he is right, because I have seen J in some pretty difficult situations, and he invariably stays strong and does the right thing even if it is much harder to do. Though I think his strong character comes from much more than being able to grate a carrot after hurting himself, I do think there is so much value in that lesson.

I leave you with this quote on habits and character that comes from an American text on the use of character evidence in court cases:

“Character may be thought of as the sum of one’s habits though doubtless it is more than this. But unquestionably the uniformity of one’s response to habit is far greater than the consistency with which one’s conduct conforms to character or disposition. Even though character comes in only exceptionally as evidence of an act, surely any sensible man in investigating whether X did a particular act would be greatly helped in his inquiry by evidence as to whether he was in the habit of doing it.” (McCormick, 1954).

Thanksgiving & Pumpkin Pie


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! How was your week-end? J and I had a lovely couple of days relaxing here in Halifax. This was probably the first time ever that we spent a long week-end and home, so it was definitely different for us, but really nice. It felt like all of a sudden, time was nicely wrapped up and handed to me as a gift – it made me realise how much of our long week-ends we normally spend on the plane or in the car. So, with our nicely wrapped time, we did a hot yoga class together on Friday (J’s first! He survived and loved it!), and we also went shopping and out for dinner here on Saturday. On Sunday, we combined our efforts to make our first ever pumpkin pie and it turned out delicious!

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I was going to just share the pictures with you, but then I thought it wouldn’t be very nice to do that without sharing the recipe, so here you go!

Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Pie

The original recipe said that this recipe would yield one 9-inch pie, but we were able to make 2.
Ingredients:

1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups fresh Pumpkin Puree Pumpkin Puree, or canned
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
Pie Dough (we used this recipe)
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and combine. Set aside.

Between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll the pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit pastry into a 9-inch glass pie plate; trim dough evenly along edge, leaving about a 1/2-inch overhang. Pinch to form a decorative edge. If the dough begins to soften, chill for 15 minutes.

Make the glaze: Beat the remaining egg, and combine with heavy cream. Brush glaze very lightly on edges of pie shell. Fill pie shell with pumpkin mixture. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2000