A glimpse into the life and times of Julia. Loving, learning and growing my way through it all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You're so granola

I have found my breakfast love.
Granola, yogurt and some kind of fruit.
It's the best breakfast because it's delicious, keeps you full for most of the morning and is good for you.
Actually it's not only good for breakfast. I ate it for lunch today. Yum!
I used to buy my granola from the grocery store but I would always cringe because it's so stinking expensive for a half full box.
A few years ago my amazing friend Joanne Jones brought a huge jar of homemade granola when she came to stay with me for the One of A Kind show.
Side note: Joanne is an amazing artist who makes beautiful purses and bags out of recycled clothing, check out her company, Mined Recreations but she lives outside of the city so my house has become the unofficial B&B of Mined Recreations for the OOAK in Toronto!
I had know idea how easy and inexpensive it was to make your own. Joanne shared her recipe with me then and today I've adapted it a bit and make it for myself all of the time.

Check out the recipe and step by step instructions below for you to make it for your family to enjoy!

6 Cups-Oats
1/4 Cup-Unsweetened shaved or flaked coconut
1/4 Cup-Pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1/4 Cup-Pecans or walnuts, chopped
1/4 Cup-Almonds, chopped
1/4 Cup-Flax seeds, ground
2 Tbls-Sesame seeds
1 Tbls-Coca Powder (optional)
1 Tbls-Cinnamon
1/2 Tbls-Nutmeg
1/2 Tbls-Allspice
Pinch of salt
2 Tbls-Vanilla extract
1/2 Cup-Canola or Vegetable oil
1/4 Cup-Pure Maple syrup
1/4 Cup-honey
1/4 Cup-Molasses (Optional)

1 Cup-Dried Cranberries
1 Cup-Apricots, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl mix the first 12 ingredients.

In another bowl whisk together the wet ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix very well until everything is well coated.

Pour mixture onto two cookie sheets and bake for 30 minutes or until granola is golden brown stiring very often, at least 3 times during the cooking. Stay close to monitor progress as you may need to lower the temperature of your oven if the granola begins to burn.

Once cooked remove from oven and leave to cool on cookie sheets for about 10 minutes. When the granola has cooled slightly transfer to a large clean bowl and add the dried fruit and leave to cool fully.

Once cooled transfer to an airtight container. Granola keeps for over two weeks, if it lasts that long!

How delicious does that look? 

Let me know how your granola turns out.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What does that even mean?

So yesterday I went to see the gastroenterologist to get this pancreatitis thing figured out.
I'm so thankful that she was able to fit me in so quickly. She has a 6 month waiting list.
We chatted about how I was feeling, my medical history and all that good stuff. Seemed to go pretty well...until she told me that I need to go on a no-fat diet until it gets cleared up.
"You basically can't eat anything you didn't make yourself," is how she broke it down.
No fat?
What does that even mean?
Doesn't everything have fat in it?
I've been processing this for the past 24 hours and I am sad and excited by the challenge all at the same time.
Food is such a huge part of my life.
I cook when I'm happy and when I'm sad. The idea of not being able to cook the food I love makes me really sad.
But the new ideas are a brewing in this head of mine. Maybe some great will come out!
The other part is that most of the social things I do revolve around food. Not so much anymore.
I don't want to miss out on the fun because I can't eat out right now.
Guess its time to start thinking outside of the box friends!
All this to say I'm super glad to be on the path to recovery so I will do my best to stick to it and put a smile on my face.
And I guess if I lose a few pounds in the process that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh the horror!

I'm sitting in the waiting area at Women's College Hospital waiting to see the gastroenterologist.
It's not pretty in here.
Sort of looks like the beginning of a bad horror movie.
Big empty hall ways.
No one around.
A rattling sound in the distance.
If the fluorescent lights start flickering in so out of here.
Man I wish I knew how to kill zombies.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fare il brodo

In Italian the words fare il brodo mean make broth. And boy do the Italians like their broth. They make it often for things like tortellini in brodo, pastina, soups and many other things.

When I lived in Italy I made my fare share of brodo for The Nonna. She sure did like her pasta in brodo. I always felt strange making such a simple dish for the woman who used to make the most amazing food for our family and restaurant back in the day.
Remember when I told you about Nonna's amazing talent here?
But pasta in brodo was what she wanted, so I made it.
My Dad taught me how to make broth when I first arrived and my Italian wasn't perfect yet.
I'll never forget the first time I went to the macellaio or butcher by our house to buy the stuff to make it. I asked the butcher, he knew me at this point because I had been in a lot with my dad, for a piece of chicken to make broth. "Chicken?" he said, "your Dad always buys gallina or hen". I was super confused because I thought a hen was a chicken but I guess in the world of the butcher it is different, I told him that I'd take whatever my Dad usually gets and I was on my way. The broth turned out great then, the many times after that when I made it in Italy and now I make it here at home.

Sure it's easier to buy some OXO cubes and throw it into your recipe but there is nothing like the taste of homemade broth.

This morning I went to the St Lawrence Market and was inspired by all of the beautiful root vegetables in the north market to make stew. Well stew needs lots of delicious brodo so I decided to make some this afternoon. I had a few beef bones in the freezer from another stew I made a few weeks earlier so all I needed was some chicken or hen, oh who knows. I went to Upper Cut Meats and almost asked for gallina hoping that the the lovely young man who helped me would know what I was talking about. I asked for asked for chicken to make broth instead and he totally hooked me up with a bag of 3 chicken carcasses for only $1, score. I learned later that he did speak Italian so he totally would have know what I was talking about. We spoke a little Italian, I got nervous, said something dumb, blushed and said ci vediamo dopo, but that's another story for another time!!!.  :) Lost of butchers keep bones and such for that very reason so be sure to ask.

I wanted to share the recipe with you with step by step instructions so you can make it too.
I really hope you like it and use it in lots of different ways over our long cold winter.
If it ever actually gets cold!

A large piece of chicken  (or hen) with bones
A large piece of beef on a bone
A few large carrots
A few pieces of celery & tops
A large cooking onion
A few cloves of garlic
Bay leaves


Put bones into a large pot.

Wash and cut up vegetables into large pieces.

Make sure you use the tops of the celery with the leaves, they have lots of flavour!
These vegetables are going to be discarded after cooking so you don't have to get too picky about sizes etc.

Put the veggies into the pot with the meat.

Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and salt.

Fill the pot with cold water and turn the heat on to high.

Bring the liquid to a boil and then turn it down to low and let it simmer for about 2 hours.

You may need to skim the sludge (there may be a more technical word for it but I don't know what it is) off the top while it is cooking because it will make your broth cloudy and kind of  yucky (another technical term!).

After a few hours your broth should look like this!

You will know that it is done when it smells delicious and all of the meat and bones are falling apart.

Let it cool for about 15-20 minutes.

Take the big pieces out and put them in a large colander over a bowl to drain.
Once they have dripped off all of the delicious broth discard the vegetables and bones.
You can pick apart the meat and reserve it to put into whatever you are making later but it will be very dry and flavourless.

Pass all of the liquid through a fine colander or even cheese cloth if you have it.

The fewer particles the clearer your broth will be.

Put  your broth in a container for refrigeration or freezing.

The broth will last for about a week in the fridge and about 6 months in the freezer.

That's it! You made broth. You are so good!

A few tips:
-When you take it out of the fridge or freezer to use it there may be a layer of fat on top. You can easily remove it while the broth is still cold by skimming it off with a spoon.
-You can freeze broth in an ice cube tray and then transfer the froze broth cubes into a freezer bag. The broth cubes will add tons of flavour to pasta sauces and other dishes and will melt super quickly.

Let me know how your broth turns out. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apparently I drink too much.

I haven't been feeling well for the past few weeks.
Nothing huge.
Just a constant nauseous feeling.
Not fun.
No, I'm not pregnant.
Or hungover.
Thanks though.
Anyway, few weeks ago I visited my family doc to get it checked out.
She took blood and said to take some antacids. No big deal.
But then her office called me three days later to come in right away.
<insert freak-out here>
I couldn't get in until Monday so I spent the weekend with the fear of something huge in the back of my mind.
I'm sure that the "C" word is something that everyone worries about but when you experience it first hand with your Mother it feels like it could happen to you at any time.
As luck would have it (I doubt it was luck, I'm pretty sure it was a God thing) my Mom had an appointment with our doctor at the same time that day so we sat together as I waited to hear what I was sure what a death sentence.
I never said I wasn't dramatic.
When I finally got to see the doctor she explained that my blood test came back with some abnormalities. My pancreas enzyme was elevated which made her think that I had gall stones and she wanted me to have an ultrasound to check it out.
The next day at the ultrasound I studied that technician's face to see if she had any reaction.
She didn't.
She should play poker.
When I left the ultrasound place I was really sad. I wanted to be there for a happy reason like a pregnancy not a potential illness.
Fast forward a few days and I get a phone call from the dr's office asking me to come in right away.
Like that same day.
<insert freak-out here>
I go. Expecting the worst, praying for the best and know that whatever it is God will get us through it.
But it wasn't the worst.
I have pancreatitis from a viral infection.
She couldn't really tell me how I got it but it felt good to know what was going on.
What is pancreatitis you ask?
Good question because I really didn't know either.
Basically it is an inflammation of the pancreas.
You can read more about it on WebMD here.
Most people get it from excessive drinking.
Hilarious right?
Of all of the people in the world to get a condition that is linked to excessive drinking!
So basically I just have to take it easy for a few weeks and watch what I eat and it should run it's course.

If you want to come over to eat bland soup and watch movies in our sweat-pants just let me know!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Have you met...Giancarlo

This is my brother Giancarlo.
Well this was him about 28 year ago.
Wasn't he cute?
I guess he's still pretty cute.
His name is pronounced John-Car-Lo.
Sometimes I call him Brasha.
He calls me Shishta.
We're just silly like that.
Ginacarlo lives in Italy.

He moved there in 2006.
We lived there together for almost a year.
We shared a room at Nonna's house.
That was exciting.
He is one of my favourite people in the world.
He's kind and generous.
Sometimes to a fault but that may be in his genes.
He loves people and Jesus with a passion that is enviable.
He's an amazing teacher and loves working with kids and youth.
I think it's probably because he's just a big kid himself!
He has seen me at my worst and best but still loves me just the same.
This summer he told me I was the best big sister ever.
That meant a lot to me.
I miss him so much everyday.
I know that he has a life in Italy and I have my life here but I wish we could do everyday life together.
I know you're thinking "yeah, so they can fight everyday".
But that's just how we roll.
Through thick and thin we stick together.
Just wanted you to meet my Brasha so you'd know how great he is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Yoda, my cat she is.

Have you met Roxy?
She's my new friend.
She's been living with me for a few months now.
I adopted her from Brian & Ali Raney, you can read about their search for a new home for her here.
Adjusting to having a pet has not been easy.
Can you guess what the hardest thing for me is?
Not being in total control.
If you know me you know that I keep my apartment super clean.
Like really clean.
We are talking OCD here people.
I just like it that way.
I am a control freak, I admit it.
Is it possible that God sent me Roxy to help me get over that?
To show me that there is so much more to life than having a super clean apartment?
That when I give up the control I gain so much more?
Snuggles from this furball are pretty great.
As I type this she is doing the "oh I'm upside down and all cute and you love me" pose.
Having another living thing in my life makes me smile.
So what if I step on kitty litter in the hallway or go to work with cat hair all over my pants.
Oh yeah, I'm that girl now.
I try to control so much of my life that I leave very little room for God to do his work.
Maybe Yoda kitty is here to teach me to let go.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cheer Leader

If you live in Toronto chances are your life was disrupted today by the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, get over it already would you?

I had the privilege of working at YSM's cheer station at Eastern and Carlaw with my co-worker, Starbucks Partners and a whole pile of teenagers from North York all day. Despite the chilly weather and looming rain it was a really great day.

I did my usual things.
Take pictures.
Drink Starbucks.
Boss people around ;)

But I have to say the part I loved the most was cheering on the marathon runners. It was so easy to get into the spirit and encourage everyone one.

Now I'm not a runner by any stretch of the imagination but I have done a 5km race in my life and I know how much work went into that so I can't imagine the commitment it took to get to today. But you could see it on their faces.

I watched in awe as each runner passed me. I even got a little emotional at times, sniff.

I even tried to read names on their bibs to give them each a personal shout out.

For hours things like "Good job Joe, you are doing amazing", "You've got this Bill, you rock" and "Nice work Sarah, you go girl" came bellowing out of my mouth. Ok so I got a few dirty looks but I was there to cheer baby!

It totally made my day when people would look at me and give me a thumbs up or say "thank you", as if I was doing a good job.
Hello, you're the ones running a marathon I'm just yelling like a fool over here.

I was most excited when I saw my friend Bruce, hence the jumping up and down screaming "Go Bruce. I love Bruce. Bruce is awesome." It was quite the spectacle all for the man who once sang me a song about corn in my salsa. That's true friendship people.

By the end of the day phrases like "You're running a freakin' marathon people, what's up with that?" were coming from no where. That's when I knew it was time to call it a day.

So to everyone who ran today or runs any day for that matter, good on you.
Your dedication and drive are things I strive for in my life.
Just not as a runner.

Not going to happen.
No way.

Not sure that I'll have a voice for work tomorrow.
That was all part of your plan wasn't it?


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Honest to blog

Did you get that movie reference?
What kind of Canadian are you?
Come over to my house and we'll have a Juno viewing party.

I'll greet you at the door with "Yo yo yiggity yo".
That's how I answer the phone sometimes.
Because I'm cool like that.
Although today I was called a nerd, geek and granola.
Who says those things aren't cool?
Not me.
Moving on.

I'm so excited to be back on the blog wagon that I wanted to introduce you to some of the blogs that I read and am inspired by.
Read on my friend, read on.

Not Hip Enough to Blog By Ali Raney
Ali's blog is a beautiful mix of fantastic stories about her growing music career as a brilliant fiddler (I know she plays other instruments but I don't know what they are), life as a Christian woman, wife, daughter and friend living in Toronto and totally random stuff that I don't know how to categorize. You will be thoroughly entertained and moved by what you read. Trust me!

Curvy Canadian By Karen Ward
I'm not sure how I came across this blog a few months ago but I'm sure glad that I did. Karen writes for every plus-sized Canadian girl. Her blog is full of great tips on where to shop, products she's tried, contests and daily outfits modeled by Karen herself! It is such an empowering read for any woman who has felt outside of the norm of what our society considers beautiful. Karen's recent post Six Take: No H8 really hit home for me as someone who was teased as a teenager because of my weight. Thanks Jenny Craig for having such a catchy jingle that even 12 year old boys could remember it and sing it to me. Sorry. Deep breaths.

Eco-Parenting By Kathy Mo
Kathy's blog is pretty much exactly what the title says. A great resource for parents who want to take care of the planet while they take care of their kids. It is full of great tips on products and services to help make it easier to do. She even has a great store called My Lil Sweet Pea where she sells lots of great products. The cloth diapers were so cute I wanted to buy them. But my cat wouldn't like it if I put diapers on her. She's a free spirit.

Front Porch Revolution By Maryellen Boyes

Remember how I said someone called me "granola" today? Ahem. I blame this beauty and the inspiring ideas she puts out into cyber space for my new found passion for thinking outside of my plastic bag. Mare offers up great ideas and solutions to the challenges that those who want to leave the earth a better place than when we found it face every day. She is a supermom who bakes bread for her Boyes and encourages you to think about how you live everyday. I am changed for the better.

On Her Toes By Nadine Bells
Nadine's blog is beyond brilliant! It is a fun read for anyone who loves pop culture, fashion, Jesus, beauty and honest accounts of what it means to be a women/daughter/sister/cousin/Sunday school teacher/fiancee/writer following a different path in this culture of "more is more". She will make you feel like you're listening to your bestie tell you about her day!

Your homework has been assigned.
Let me know what you think.

And if you have a blog I should be reading let me know about it!


Why did the chicken cross the road?

A few weeks ago I bought a chicken. A whole chicken. I had big plans for that chicken and boy did he deliver. Oh I guess "she" delivered. This was my attempt to cook one thing on the weekend that I could make into a bunch of meals throughout the week.

I'm a creative and frugal single girl oh yes I am!

Now this wasn't your run of the mill grocery store chicken. No, my girl was an organic grain fed beauty. Cost me more than I've spent on all my groceries in total some weeks. But it is true what "they" say, you get what you pay for.

You see I've been inspired lately to think more about what I'm spending my money on and what I'm putting into my body. Some may say that this lovely may have something {most everything} to do with it but who can really say where a desire to change comes from.

I roasted said chicken on Sunday night. A little olive oil, some garlic {by some I mean a lot}, dried rosemary, salt and pepper and she was cooked and ready to fulfill her destiny, to feed the Jules.

Feed me she did.

Let's break this chicken down:
-4 chicken sandwiches for lunch
-4 chicken Cesar salads for dinner
-1 chicken & pesto pasta for carbfest with Jess
-1 large pot of chicken stew {number of meals yet to be determined because I made it tonight}
Amazing right?

Gotta go do the dishes now because as you can see I got the bay leaf in my bowl. House rules - if you get the bay leaf you do the dishes.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Radio silence.

I haven't blogged in a while.
I think about it all of the time.
But the task has felt really daunting lately.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about everything and putting it down here feels scary.
But I think I'm ready to share again.
I've missed this outlet.
Thanks for waiting for me.


This picture was taken in my Mom's garden this summer. I was sad because I had to take Giancarlo {my brother who lives in Italy} to the airport that afternoon. A piece of my heart lives at Via Spallanzani No. 2.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blogger fail.

I just noticed that I haven't written anything since May 17th.
I want to write. Really I do.
I want to delight you all with the stories of my life often.
But my life seems to get in the way.
So know that I love you. I haven't forgotten about you. And I think about you often.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Simply Put-Part 2

Earlier this week I talked about how I've been working on living simply.
If you missed it you can read all about it here.
As promised here's how I've started to live it out practically in my life.

Please note; I realize that none of these ideas are revolutionary by any stretch. If my Nonna knew I was telling people about how excited I am to be cleaning with white vinegar she'd swatt my bum and call me shamo!

Cloth Napkins-
Instead of continually spending money on paper napkins (which is not very enviro friendly) I got my hands on some FREE cloth napkins.
Actually they're fabric samples that Flowie gave me that are the perfect size and surged around the edges ready to go. There were so many I gave Maryellen her own set! Of course I ironed them after I washed them. The Nonna would be proud.

That's the Nonna. Just in case you haven't met her yet.
Instead of spending money on purse sized tissue I bought some hankies and rock them daily, Nonno styles.
Bonus: hankies don't crumble into little pieces that stick to your face for your entire commute to work when you wipe sweat from your brow on those hot summer days on the TTC.
That's the Nono's leg. He was a gigantic man as you can see from his large foot.
That's me in Italy circa 1980. Cute, no?

Cleaning with baking soda and vinegar-
So cheap and so effective. The Nonna had it right all along.

Second-hand Furniture and Recycled Linens-
This amazing arm chair came from Sarah's parents cottage.
It is the most beautiful and comfortable chair in my home and is frequently fought over by guests!
My couch came from Yonge Street Mission's Double Take Store. It was a steal at $65. It is so beautiful and comfortable. Just ask all my house guests!
The throw pillow was purchased from Pre-Loved a company that makes clothing and linens out of recycled clothing. I bought it on sale, like big time sale.

The rest of these pictures are some of the people that I love.
To share with.
I am thankful for.
Content to just be myself around.


Mom and Flowie.

Leanne and Lisa.



Arlyne and Noah.

P.S. If there isn't a picture of your here please don't be offended. Chances are I love you but don't have a recent picture or want to use your lovely face for something else!