Remember how I was vaguely writing about times of change ahead of me, and the times of turmoil I was currently experiencing? Well, I can happily (and nervously) tell you that I’ve quit my full-time job as manager of Vancouver’s best cheese shop and am now dedicating my time to freelance writing. There are definitely aspects of the job I’ll miss a lot, it was hard saying goodbye to my favourite customers and especially hard to say goodbye to my wonderful team of workmates. Luckily, most of my former coworkers are friends of mine so I’ll still get to see them regularly. In fact we all went out for dinner last Saturday night to celebrate “Ashley’s Foray into Freelancing as Celebrated Through the Enjoyment of Korean BBQ” (my friend Lela thinks of the best names for events).
I’m three days into the freelancing life at this point and I’m finding the amount of solo, unstructured time daunting. I’ve been reading lots about the importance of routine and it totally makes sense, routine is what keeps me thriving and my moods have always oscillated back and forth when I have little to no structure in place. Previously, getting up for work was the perfect time reminder to make myself breakfast, especially since I often walked to work (about 45 minutes of walking). Now, even more than before, I find I need something extra fast to make so that I can dive right into the work that needs to get done that morning (writing, cleaning, going for a walk, job searching, etc.). I had abandoned smoothies a couple of months ago in favour of whole pieces of fruit and some sort of protein that I could take with me on my commute. When I make a smoothie my goal is to make it taste bright and delicious, but also be crammed full of as many nutritious ingredients as possible. Avocado is an ideal foil, it’s buttery texture adds creaminess without compromising the flavour of the smoothie. Baby kale is an excellent alternative to spinach, but you could use any green that you prefer. I sometimes add protein powder to make the smoothie more filling, but it’s not necessary and to be honest I find most protein powders have an unpleasant bitter aftertaste.
mixed berry smoothie with avocado and baby kale:
1 cup of frozen mixed berries
1 ripe banana
2 cups of baby kale
1 cup of coconut water
2 heaping Tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 scoop protein powder (optional)
Add all ingredients to a blender and blitz until completely emulsified.
What can I say? It’s been wet and gloomy in the mornings and Spiritualized seems as good a band as any to get my day off to a productive start.
Spiritualized – Stay With Me
I woke up this morning to the smell of fresh spring air; wet and heavy with the omnipresent perfume of the cherry trees and damp earth. I wanted something for breakfast that would reflect the abundance of colour outside of my apartment right now, the ground is just bursting with Technicolour blooms right now. All of the plants look neon in contrast with the charcoal soil and I’m left wondering how I could ever forgot the sheer enthusiastic intoxication that is springtime in Vancouver. So I opened my balcony doors wide open and made these fuchsia hued smoothies out of frozen blueberries and leftover pineapple from the night before. I find that if I add chia seeds to my smoothies, or anything really, they make me feel fuller, longer compared to a smoothie made without. They also thicken the texture, giving the smoothie more bulk and heft, which is particularly useful if you’re taking it to work and need it to get you through until lunchtime. I had my regular morning cup of tea with my smoothie, as well as a toasted pistolette roll with salted butter. This was such a nice way to start my day, which included such impressive feats as a short nap and a long walk along Kits beach with my mom and her tiny dog (and a lovely surprise bouquet of sunflowers from my husband).
pineapple and blueberry smoothie:
(makes 2 generous smoothies)
1 1/2 cups of diced pineapple, frozen or freshly cut
1 1/2 cups wild blueberries, frozen
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup of coconut water
2 tsp. chia seeds
Place everything in a blender and blitz until completely emulsified. Pour into 2 large glasses and enjoy.
I’ve been listening to Wild Beasts almost nonstop for the last couple of days. When I’m struggling with depression, which is how I would describe myself right now, I often will play only one album or one musician over and over again until it begins to feel like armour. Everything is so overwhelming right now, I can’t think past the moment I’m in or I feel full of panic. Wild Beasts is good music and good armour. They’re parts slithery Jeff Buckley, Future Islands, Of Montreal; sexy, moody, sombre, and dark.
Wild Beasts – Deeper
This immensely refreshing smoothie encompasses an entire gradient of pinks and reds, from lush azalea hued watermelon to deep crimson pomegranate. I always feel healthier when sipping this smoothie; I can’t be certain whether this is from the actual bounty of antioxidants found in the ingredient list or is simply a placebo effect enhanced by the knowledge that I’m consuming something chock full of vitamins. The heady combination of sweet and tart is permeated with a slight heat from the fresh ginger; I often add 3 times as much as I have specified here, begin with a modest amount and work your way upwards if you’re inclined. I usually have a pitcher of rotating fruit teas in the fridge and I have discovered that raspberry and blueberry teas are also excellent choices for this drink (a mild green tea is also lovely and pairs very well with the ginger.) I will often have at least 1 of the fruits listed below frozen, just add a handful or 2 of ice if your ingredients are coming straight from the counter or crisper.
pink and red smoothie:
1 heaping cup of watermelon, cut into chunks
1/2 cup of strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1/2 cup of raspberries
1 cup of cold cranberry herbal tea
1/4 cup of pomegranate juice
About a 1 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
1 cup of ice (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses (0r 1 and save some for later) and enjoy!
More often than not I make this smoothie for myself first thing in the morning before work and such a happy beverage deserves some equally bright retro pop to accompany it. This is my favourite song by The Zombies, I love them all very much but this is my best play-it-all-the-time track (which is good, because if I listen to it in the morning I have the apartment to myself and can put it on 6 times in a row without fear of annoying other people.) The lyrics are inarguably melancholy but, as always, The Zombies have managed to set them to definitely sunny music.
The Zombies – Brief Candles