I implore you

I am a bit of a fitness/overall health nut…most days.

I too, like everyone else, am human and have days where the rules or guidelines I happily adhere to normally, go out the window. Whether it is work, my social circle, my fur babies, my man, my real(ish) babies or my super busy family, I am a pretty on the go person. Sometimes this means slipping up due to lack of carved out time to prepare what’s required.

I really do have a hard time sitting still though, so as a coping mechanism, it is my own damn fault that I am so busy. I try to have something planned for my day the night before – even if that is a ‘me day’ where I barely do anything with anyone else and soak up my own time with a hike or some other adventure.

Everyone knows deep down that staying active and eating nutrition-filled foods, in well balanced portions, is one of the hardest yet most rewarding ways of staying healthy. And when you start doing it consistently it becomes second nature and your body actually rejects the crappy, processed stuff and sitting still for too long and you suffer side effects like headaches and tummy troubles when you do indulge.

If you’ve ever been turned-on about something, I hope you understand that I speak from a place of passion and genuine love for this lifestyle I’ve pursued. I just want others to realize what I have come to understand about the body’s natural capabilities – no matter how limited that still may be for me in comparison to what is truly possible. Like I said, I suffer off days and harder days and days where the fastest thing is the first thing I eat because I am stressed, or have gone too long without eating, or have an insatiable craving that I just need to itch…the point is I am human too and far, far, far from perfect. So, so far.

I have a few favourite motivators for why I work out and am conscious about what I ingest – maybe they’ll kick your butt into gear, or maybe they’ll remind you why you get up and do what you do every day to stay healthy and motivated to workout/stay active. Either way, the intent is to inspire just one person to make a small change for the better and I will be the happiest girl in the entire world if that is accomplished.

1. It kinda kicks butt to be able to kick butt: I really do get a giddy high when I accomplish something regarding my health. It could be getting a handle on wheel, crow or a headstand in yoga, or running the side hills of McLennan Park in Kitchener at a faster pace each time.

Had writers block while writing this blog...so this happened for a change in perspective

Had writers block while writing this blog…so this happened for a change in perspective

Running a half-marathon or hiking steeper hills without struggle. Or, it could be the realization that I can mentally control certain parts of my brain when pushing myself through a challenging kilometer or workout set – this ability filters into everyday situations too. I feel more confident in my body’s physical abilities now more than I ever have in my life – and I can’t even imagine how that will feel when I’m 40, 50 and beyond. I love the look on Michael’s face when I clamp my legs around him on the couch a-la-monkey cling and he winces because I’m strong. Or when he trusts me to load our canoe with him because he knows I won’t drop it awkwardly resulting in injury of person or the vehicle. It really kicks butt to be a fit-chick.

2. Having a shit-ton of energy also kicks butt: Really – being up for anything because I have the energy is a huge plus for me. Needing to explore and create and exert energy physically is part of keeping me sane. Normally this might be hard on top of working 50-60 hours per week while balancing every other responsibility. Lucky for me, the circle of exertion and creation of energy is an amazing natural phenomena. PLUS, energy keeps you HAPPY and that’s good for every one, especially Michael – just ask Elle Woods.

Seriously though, if I am free and not ill and you ask me to go for a run, workout, grab a yoga class, hit up a concert after a long day of work, meet you for a beer, catch sunrise on a Saturday morning, play cards, grab dinner/lunch/breakfast/any food, any time, I am usually down.

That leads me to my next point:

3. FOOD: The majority of people really don’t know how FOOD is supposed to taste. I mean veggies – both raw and cooked, fruit, nuts, legumes, lean meat and seafood (if it’s your flavour – there is a huge movement that part of me wants to explore of vegan-ism…but I’ll save that post for another day), real fresh, filtered spring-fed water. Real, from the earth food. We live in a society that desires convenience over effort and with that comes the easy out – the microwave this, the packaged/prepared that, the greasy processed burger…you get the point. Yum, right? No. Not even close to what your food could and is supposed to taste like. On top of the DELICIOUSNESS of the whole foods, add in the perks of moving your buns and you get my most favourite reason for working out EVER – eating. I love food. Like a lot. Like there are only a handful of things that I enjoy more than eating – none of which are SFW enough to mention here. I eat to nourish my body so I enjoy the simplicity that it’s become, however this also means that I get hungry a lot and get to eat A LOT to fuel me and that’s pretty kick-ass.

4. Gettin’ down: I won’t elaborate as I know some of our readers blush easy (not to mention my mom is an avid reader…hi mom), but the increase in stamina, interest and desire when it comes to intimate things – working out and eating right do incredible things for your sex life! The added confidence when you feel good about your body and have the energy…need I say more? Seriously, try it out and thank me later.

reasons-i-work-out-healthy-living_407537

For me it’s all three, but this is funny

5. Life in your years, years in your life: The two go hand-in-hand perfectly when you are in control of your nutrition and exercise regime. If you add in an all around lifestyle geared to being health-conscious, the chances you’ll have a better life and longer one, increase tremendously. I truly believe with the right lifestyle, nutrition, meditation/prayer life and diet, an insane amount of the diseases that we are plagued with can be cured. Our lifestyles and diets are killing us – it’s a fact, not just my opinion. Google ‘Lifestyle Disease’ and see the numerous medical publications regarding the study. The more educated you become, the easier the choices become too.

I would not say I am afraid of not being healthy, but I definitely do not take my abilities or my health for granted – I know first hand those things can change at the blink of an eye, and if you don’t take advantage while you can I feel like you might be wasting a bit of your life. It is a definite motivating factor for me and probably an all around driver for the lifestyle changes I am slowly making.

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What are your main motivators for keeping active and eating right? I’m always looking for motivation and my inspiration comes from you too.

I’d like to leave you with this: if you’re considering working on you, stumbling through or are well on your way, I implore you – keep working on you. I promise you won’t regret it.

~ Toni

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English rage

I am a snob. I am a highbrow, high standards, high expectations kind of girl…when it comes to the English language.

I was trained that way – it’s not an excuse, it is simply the reason. I have always been in love with language, and good at spelling and grammar (was that grammatically correct???). And I went to university for professional writing…in English. Writing has always come naturally for me and reading has always been my constant companion (I carry a book everywhere I go…and totally did it waaaaay before Rory Gilmore made it hot).

Of course this means that I have a list of things that irk me. Things that make my eye twitch and my skin crawl and my heart weep for the future of the English language. Things I think are unacceptable and inexcusable.

Mispronunciation

It's SO meem. Just so you know.

It’s SO meem. Just so you know. And *it’s…SERIOUSLY. 

In high school, I totally thought melancholy was pronounced melon-sholly. EW. And I, of course, pronounced this word in front of my arch enemy at the time (we were both vying for the affections of our shared very best friend). She took great pleasure in making fun of me…because I was the English guru, for goodness’ sake! DAMMIT. I still burn with shame and embarrassment. It’s melon-kolly. SERIOUSLY. When I hear people pronounce these words incorrectly, I can’t help but feel like they should be burning in shame…but mostly they’re oblivious or, WORSE, they think they’re being cute. Bleh. For me, these words are the worst:

Supposedly – Did you know that there is is no ‘b’ in this word??? And yet people still say supp-oh-ze-Blee. REALLY??? Supposebly. It doesn’t exist. And if you’re over the age of 7, you’re not cute. You sound uneducated. It’s a ‘D’, people.

Specifically – It frustrates me to no end when people pronounce this word without the ‘s’ on the beginning…like pa-sif-fik-lee. Like the ocean. Pacifically. As opposed to Atlantically??? Is it a geographic adverb that you need in your sentence? Or did you just ignore the first letter, like the first step, and now you’re falling UP, which takes an incredible level of clumsiness and anti-skill. It’s spe-sif-fik-lee. And it has nothing inherently to do with oceans. I promise.

Especially – What’s with words with ‘ally’ in them? This one gets an ‘x’ thrown in where the ‘s’ hangs out. Instead of ‘ess’, we get ‘exs’. It’s weird. And wrong. That is all.

Library – This one is just ridiculous. Do not pronounce the place that holds the books, the things that contain the words, improperly. It’s a slap in the face to English. And there’s no reason for it. It’s lye-br-ary. NOT lye-berry. There’s an extra ‘r’ that demands and deserves respect. Please.

Pumpkin – I don’t know what it is about this one, but it is by far my most enraging mispronunciation on the list. I HATE the word ‘punk-in’. There is no ‘n’ there. There is an ‘mp’. And I feel like anyone who says it this way is a twit. There. I said it. You’re a TWIT. I even correct my 6-year old. There’s just no getting over this one. If you say ‘punk-in’ near me, know that although I am polite and will continue our social interactions like I’m supposed to, in my head I’m throwing a tantrum and smacking the ‘punk’ out of you. You’ve been warned.

Not a 'punk' in sight...

Not a ‘punk’ in sight…

Incorrect spelling

I get it. Spell-check is everywhere, no one needs to know how to spell things, and texting and messaging and Facebook-ing makes spelling things out redundant and time-consuming. I KNOW. I still text in full sentences, but I don’t think everyone should. That is NOT what this is about. This is about people not spelling things the right way when they spell them out. You can LOL and BRB all you want, but PLEASE, for the love of all things holy and contained in the OED, avoid these WTF moments:

Congradulations – In a world with everyone’s every milestone being posted on Facebook, this one gets used. And abused. A LOT. Did you know there is no ‘d’ in congratulations? That it’s a ‘t’?? And that when you use the short-form, ‘congrats’, it’s STILL a ‘t’? NOT A ‘D’. Please, please, please stop ‘congradulating’ people and get back to ‘congratulating’ people…because although their daily workout may not be entirely congratulatory, it’s definitely NOT congraDulatory. And, speaking of which…

Such a dumb-ass.

Such a dumb-ass.

Definately – There is no ‘a’ in ‘definitely’. There just isn’t. Do not ‘definately talk to your doctor’ about your kid’s rash, do not ‘definately get together’ with the high school friend you found on FB, do not ‘definately’ confront your neighbour about the crappy way they park their car in front of your driveway. DEFINITELY do any or all of those things. But NEVER ‘definately’.

Your versus You’re – Look. I get it. They sound the same. They practically look the same. But DUDES, they are SO not the same! Your is all about ownership – that’s yours. Your hair. Your new car. Your drama. YOU OWN IT. But you’re??? It’s a contraction, a smashing together, of two words: you + are. And it is used EVERY time someone says ‘thank you’ to you. You’re welcome. As in, YOU ARE welcome. Not, here is YOUR welcome. You own this welcome. But, I’ve done something awesome, you’re (THERE IT IS AGAIN – you are) grateful, and now, I say, you’re welcome! Like, YOU ARE WELCOME to my awesomeness. Bah. Please? Please. Let’s work on this one. It’s almost as cringe-worthy as ‘punk-in’. Almost.

So...which one are you? Feeling up your nuts, or feeling a little crazy?

So…which one are you? Feeling up your nuts, or feeling a little crazy?

And last, but NOT least:

Words that don’t FREAKING exist

There is only one word on this list and it is enough of a blight on the English-speaking world to make up for any other made-up word you can think of.

Irregardless. There. That’s it. There is no such word as ‘irregardless’. There is regardless, which means ‘without regard’, and then that’s it. THERE IS NO ‘irregardless’. There is no word that means ‘without without regard’. The ‘ir’ is redundant and nonsensical. It makes the word a double negative, but it doesn’t make a word that means ‘full of regard,’ it just makes you sound dumb and me lose all respect for you. You are stripped of your credibility. I can’t be friends with you anymore. Go stand over there with the ‘punkin’ users.

And if you're not, man you sure SOUND stupid.

And if you’re not, man you sure SOUND stupid.

***

Okay. English rage rant over. Now, tell me yours. What makes your skin crawl, your hatred level rise uncontrollably and irrationally (that IS a word), and your need to punch people in the face to surface? Tell me – what are the language ticks that make you wanna go BOOM?

~ Julia

Guest Post – Stay-at-home moms, I salute you!

Because she loves us SO much, Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us AGAIN as a guest blogger. WE LOVE YOU TOO! 

As you may know, I am Nana to 7 amazing grandchildren. They range in age from 6 to 2, or almost 2. I gave birth to and raised 4 wonderful children. During that time, I was a working woman.

This kind of working woman…

African American Woman

…not this kind…

Grandma hooker

I recently had the privilege of spending a day in the life of Julia. With Julia comes her accessories, Sophie, Lillian and Isaac. These are numbers 1, 2 and 6 in the line-up of grandbabies, and they are aged 6, 4 and 2 (okay, almost 2).

Unlike Julia, my day started at a leisurely 6:45. We had planned to spend the day together, but hadn’t worked out the finer details. A text from Julia and I was on my way to their house to bring Nana-Jam, have breakfast and coffee, and swap vehicles with Ben. I arrived at 7:30. By this time things are hopping at the Mills’ household. Everyone but Lillian is up having breakfast, Ben is dressed and ready for work while getting toast for Isaac; Julia is trying to manage 13 things at once, including launching that day’s blog post; and Sophie is being the sauciest six-year-old granddaughter anyone could have –  I wouldn’t have her any other way. Lillian emerges from deep sleep before Ben sprints out the house.

I tell Julia “Sit still, have a coffee and just relax.” HA! DOUBLE HA!

We chat about the things we want to accomplish that day: go to St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to get fresh strawberries to make more Nana-Jam, a visit to the dollar store, make Nana-Jam, a drop-in kindergarten boot camp for Lillian at the library, a quick run to Costco, lunch at some time, nap for Isaac and down-time for both Sophie and Lillian, supper together and bed time before Ben arrives home after footie practice. That is a fully-packed day for adults, never mind dragging along 3 children.

I am so naïve; I think I can handle this day. I forget what it’s like to be kept in line by the terrorists. They have needs and demands. Lunch is not something that can happen whenever, snacking is a necessity and a nap for Isaac is a must. There are the required bathroom breaks; no, Lillian cannot hold it any longer – either stop and pee in the bushes behind the van at market, or you risk having an accident. And that accident, that one is your fault for not recognizing that children have a bladder the size of a walnut.

Undaunted, we start our day. Because not everyone moves at the same pace, we don’t get onto the road until almost 10.  It’s a Thursday – going to market at 10 am should not pose a problem. But, it’s the Thursday after Canada Day, which means it’s a virtual long weekend. Every man and his dog is at market. We had to park in an area I didn’t even know existed!

FlagThere are so many good things about market. Does it get any better than shopping in the sunshine, smelling the produce, sampling local food? Fortunately, the snacks are plentiful. Bananas and mangoes are the snack of choice. Disaster averted.

It was busier when we were there!

It was busier when we were there!

After the market, we should be thinking about the drop-in kindergarten boot camp. Nope, it was off the list before we got to market.

Okay, let’s visit Aunt Toni. Her office is 2 minutes away from the market. Easy. We don’t get lost, we find Aunt Toni. I am grateful that our visit is in the parking lot; my feet are sore, my knees ache and I really need Tylenol. We get to help make Aunt Toni’s day. The visit has elevated everyone’s spirits.

Next stop, let’s visit Grammie at her work and go for lunch!  Before we arrive to pick up Grammie, Isaac has succumbed to sleep.  No worries – some fuel and he will be good to go until we reach my house for a proper nap.

While Isaac is napping, Julia curls up on the couch. The cool of the rec room, the lull of the TV playing in the background, the calm of the afternoon and she is out too! It’s at this point that I realize she has worked for this nap, and she really deserves it. Me, my feet are sore, my ankle hurts and I’m tired, but I can do this! Besides, it’s hard to nap when grandbabies are talking to you and expect an intelligent response.

It is now just after 4 pm. Isaac is scheduled to wake up. We haven’t started supper yet, there has been no afternoon snack, strawberries are not cleaned let alone made into Nana-Jam. There are so many casualties to the list we so industriously made this morning. I suggest to Julia that we get some grapes for snack while I make supper. Nope, there is that Costco run yet. So, snack then Costco. Easy! HA! TRIPLE HA! I AM SO NAÏVE!

Costco without children is a challenge; Costco with 3 children is insane. But, I can do this. In case you missed it, I didn’t mention that we haven’t unloaded any of Julia’s purchases from market yet. We have only been to my house to unload my purchases.  But, let’s go to Costco to buy more! More necessities, more toilet paper in giant packages, more family-sized boxes of cereal, more over-sized bags of chips, more gallons of yogurt, more cases of diapers and all things family-sized.  And, just to add to the mayhem, let’s pick up these things for other members of the family too!

The hunger is starting to overtake the children. Sophie sees sample tables and begs for a taste, Lillian and Isaac are not far behind. By the time we are done at Costco it is close to 6 pm. We have managed to stuff the van with everyone’s purchases in such a manner that we can actually distinguish my groceries. This will be handy since we are off to my place for dinner. I like this idea as I won’t have to unload groceries by myself later that night.

Julia, an expert at squeezing everything she can into a day suggests that we venture to the dollar store. I implore her, we can’t fit another thing into the van. Off to Nana’s house for a quick supper, thank goodness.

If you refuel children, they get their second wind. Dinner is over at 7:15, Sophie and Lillian are looking to sneak downstairs where all the “good” toys are. No can do, bed time is in 15 minutes and we won’t make it home before then. Did I mention that my feet are killing me, my ankle has started to balloon, my knee aches like a son-of-a-gun and there isn’t enough Tylenol to satisfy me? But, I can do this! I have to do this, Ben still has my car.

After dinner is cleared, it’s time to pack up and head for Ben and Julia’s. Julia drives and I am so grateful. I am yawning like crazy. We make it all the way to bed time for the children. I love them so much and I love them even more when they are tucked in.

We unload the van of the day’s purchases. By ‘we’ I mean Julia unloads the van and walks everything to the door of the house, I just need to place things in the kitchen or in an area for pick up by others. I am so tired.

Oh, did I mention that Julia was going to do some freelance writing that evening, after our monotonous day? Just sneak in an hour or two, that’s all. Nothing to it if you haven’t spent every ounce of your energy running after children. I get set up to watch some TV while waiting for Ben, Julia is busy writing. Mercifully, Ben is not late – he arrives shortly before 9 pm.

I’m exhausted. Julia looks relaxed as she easily jokes with Ben. He has a small gift for her. A while ago, Julia ran a half-marathon with three of her best buds. Ben presents her with a commemorative mug – it has a picture of the victorious ladies. Just another day in the life of.

This day has been long and it has shown me that being a stay-at-home mom is not a life filled with bon-bon eating and watching TV. My ordinary day consists of sitting behind a desk to crunch numbers; I’m a whiz with a calculator and a computer. Saturday and Sunday I’m a regular weekend warrior – I cut the grass, clean the floors and do laundry. I don’t try to manage a plethora of duties including child care, household management, first aid, sanitation for the nation, logistics and supplies procurement. I take my hat off to all the stay-at-home-moms. Their job is the hardest anyone will ever do, but it is the most rewarding. It is the job that will determine the direction our nation will take. These domestic engineers mold our future doctors, teachers, politicians, ditch-diggers, farmers and car mechanics. We should never take them for granted.

~ Dianne (a.k.a. Nana)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

The friends in your head

In my head and in everyone’s head, there is this fantasy at work where famous people you would only dream about meeting are actually your best friends. In my head, I have these people and they are the best imaginary best friends a girl could have.

I used to have a SEVERE crush on Daniel Radcliffe. I know, me? Like the guy who played Harry Potter? What?! But no seriously, he was my dream boy all through high school. I had a picture of him in my locker and a girl actually bit me because I tried to stop her from stealing my poster of D.R. Now he has grown up and is awkward and adorable in interviews, still taken aback by questions, and is still so funny and awesome. He would be my old high school crush best friend. You know, the one you realize should just be a best friend for a reason.

Oh Daniel.

Oh, Daniel

Next would be the pensive and incredibly bright friend. You know, the one that you could see drinking tea with at 2 o’clock in the morning just because you got on to a random topic and you know time will get away from you because “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly…time-y wimey…stuff.” That’s right. David Tennant is my best friend in my head. I know. I would actually love to meet him, because of just how awesome he is…in my head.

Everybody needs that one friend who spurs you forward and gets you into random adventures and things you would have never thought you would have gotten yourself into. Then they would be so into the adventures they often just walk off and leave you behind. If you have never seen the show Sherlock then you basically just got the rundown of what Sherlock Holmes is like in the show. But, much like Dr. Watson, I would still follow no matter what. This best friend is none other than Benedict Cumberbatch himself. He seems like he would be so smart, but weirdly endearing, and you would just have to forgive him or hate him completely.

Strangely weird, and weirdly strange Mr. Cumberbatch

Strangely weird, and weirdly strange Mr. Cumberbatch

And along with those random adventures, you need the friend that makes you laugh until you pee your pants, and possibly even pass out due to the hilarity. This lady is bizarre and awesome, and strange, and I would love to spent just and hour with her going grocery shopping or something, because I honestly believe that Rebel Wilson would be just that wonderful to hang out with…at least in my brain.

Seriously, Rebel Wilson is my spirit animal.

Seriously, Rebel Wilson is my spirit animal.

Then there is the snarky bestie who you hang out with and be surly and sarcastic with, but is still awkward and weird. Who you hang out with because life can suck and it’s nice to know that some people feel the same way. Also EVERYONE must have a certain level of sarcasm and sass in your life. Anna Kendrick would be the friend I would most likely want to go to the mall and quietly (or loudly) mock people with. At least, my imaginary Anna is like that.

I love her in these Movies!

I love her in the Pitch Perfect movies!

I would also need that elegant, but quirky friend, who makes me feel more adult, because even at 24 I often find myself looking around and wondering how to adult (and, yes, “adult” is now a verb). I would have Anne Hathaway as that friend. Imaginary Anne is completely lovely and quite often I find myself with her in an old book shop reading copies of Jane Austen books in the secluded quiet of a back corner.

She's just so PRETTY.

She’s just so PRETTY.

Those are my people; the people I will daydream about and imagine different scenarios with in everyday life.

Please, tell me – do you have imaginary people running around in your head? Tell me I am not alone!

~ Andreah

“Leaving in 15…”

I am almost always late for work. I don’t know if you remember from previous posts, but I literally work next door to my house. Seriously…

Seriously....

Seriously….

My manager loves it when I call in, so much so that she has memorized my number from her call display. I have told her many times, that I can either wear pants or be on time…she has to choose. Have fun explaining it to HR when I come in wearing no pants! ” BUT SHE WAS ON TIME!” she will yell as she is being escorted out of the office.

To my defense, it is because I am so close to office that I am always late. I look at the clock and think, “I can make it to work in 2 minutes; I will just run.” HA! Run – I don’t run. I can barely walk properly. So therefore me being late is a safety precaution, as in it’s for my own safety I am late. This too HR can not argue over.

19 Socially Awkward Situations For People Who Are Always Late

While I am always late for work, for which I could be dismissed for being late, I try my hardest to not be late for events with family or friends. There are many reasons as to why I don’t like being late, but mainly it’s because I hate when people are late to things I have planned.

I, like, two of my other sisters, do not have children. One of the many perks of having children is having a built-in excuse for tardiness. No one will be upset with you as you walk into a birthday party or family Christmas late, toting a screaming child on your hip. No one would dare…they simply take the screaming child away from you and then quickly offer you a stiff beverage of the caffeinated or alcoholic variety.

Any tardiness can just be blammed on little Timmy who went down for a nap right before you were supposed to leave, and you wouldn’t dare suggest that the mother of three terrorists wake one up only to upgrade their terrorist status to tyrant! And then request that they shove said tyrant into their car seat and drag him to the party. You would be crazy! You would be exiled, removed from the family.

I like to keep my life, therefore I do not bother asking the status or whereabouts of Julia and her family. I just know that they will show up at some point. I say this with love! As someone who has taken care of all three of her children, and has been around children my whole life, I like them a lot better when they are happy, and if being late assists in their level of happiness…then late away!

When you do not have any children though, it gets hard to take your “Leaving in 15” or “On my way” text messages seriously when everyone knows you mean “Still finding pants to match the shirt I wanted to wear to this event, but I am not totally sold on the shirt either. So pretty much I am not dressed, and yes I woke up on time and this event was at 4 pm, but I wanted to not do anything for the first 7 hours of the day…so I’ll be there soon…ish…again when I find the earrings to match the pants…and oh yeah, I took off the shirt I mentioned in the first sentence because these pants go with these earrings, so now I have to find a shirt.”

Image result for memes about being late

It gets to a point when people start to tell you to be somewhere earlier than you need to be. Then you are at an impasse. When you show up on time for wherever it is you need to be, and realize that the party or event has only just started, then you know that they know that you are always late…

Life is rough when you choose to always be late, because it is a choice. You chose to sleep in/go to breakfast with other people/drive that person around/pick up groceries before you came. Make your choices wisely people. Now excuse me while I go find pants.

~ Jacqui

Hiking Ontario

If you know me personally, you know that it is quite hard for me to stay still. And by this I do not mean that I fidget and fuss, but that I crave adventure and movement on a scale that most people just don’t understand.

While up to and including this point in my life, travel on a grandeur scale has not been possible – whether monetary tightness or family obligations or school requirements, or, or, or, there has always been something trumping my wild heart’s need to run.

That being said, I have not let that stop me from getting my fix when I can and instead, has made me quite the well-rounded guide for trails and destinations within our beautiful province that just have to be tackled. On a weekend or day off I am often up before the sun and off – solo or with company – hitting the open road with a destination in mind, ready to feed my soul the nourishment she craves of nature, adventure and exploration.

Wanting to get your feet wet with some of the best treasures I’ve found so far? Here are a few to get you started:

1. Spencer Gorge Conservation Area: This location contains some of the best hiking within a 30 minute drive of Cambridge, Ontario and boasts gorgeous views of the escarpment.

upper tews

Overlooking the gorge toward Tews Falls side

There are well traveled paths already available for the less crazy than me type (which lead up to the peak, featured in the above photo), or if you are willing to be a little more daring, (and slightly…illegal), then you should prepare for a 6 hour hike down the basin into the gorge itself where you can meander your way to the bottom of both sets of falls. This area can be reached through a gated off access point on the Webster’s Falls side of the trail, or near the rail way tracks at the bottom of the hill heading into Dundas. Come prepared with proper, sturdy footwear, some water, snacks and enjoy a day playing at the base of waterfall giants. Michael and I did this hike last in the winter and while incredibly challenging in full snow gear, totally worth it to stand in awe of this:

Feeling so small at Tews base January 2015

Feeling so small at Tews base January 2015

2. Beamer Memorial Conservation Area: This beauty of a spot was first visited on a fall day where I was feeling particularly restless and needed a new perspective. Not knowing where I wanted to head, I Googled ‘best Escarpment vantage points’ and this beauty popped up in the search results. It really is something to take in.

Lake Ontario for days

Lake Ontario for days

Roughly an hour’s drive from Cambridge, this trail is located in Grimsby Ontario and is part of the Bruce Trail system that runs along the Niagara Escarpment. There are multiple access points (I have found 3 so far) boasting views of the escarpment cliffs, terraces, Lake Ontario as well as the upper and lower falls. If you’re a bird fanatic, try to visit during the spring Hawk migration (roughly March 1 – May 15) where you can catch these stunning birds of prey on warm sunny days between 10:00am and 3:00pm.
New to hiking? From the main gate the trail is fairly flat, roughly 1.9km and easy to navigate for even the most novice hikers. With multiple lookout points and even more challenging trails leading into the basin, this area needs a whole day’s dedication if you can manage. If you’re able and wanting a little more challenge, climb your way down from the back entrance or end of the top trail from the front; here you will find the upper and lower falls just waiting for you to explore them.

Linda and I reaching the top of the lower fall deck

Linda and I reaching the top of the lower fall deck

3. The Bruce Peninsula National Park: While the furthest of my favourites, clocking in the drive at just over 3 hours from Cambridge, this breathtaking wonder located in Georgian Bay is well worth the drive. A part of the 885km of Bruce Trail, this section offers hikers the unique Northern landscape, incredible turquoise waters and four trails within the park to choose from.

That really is the colour of the water

That really is the colour of the water

As it’s located in the heart of a biosphere reserve, you’re sure to see your fair share of wildlife and interesting vegetation, massive rugged cliffs and limestone barrens. Make sure you make your way down to the Grotto – a natural cave on the shoreline that was formed from the waves from the Bay washing in over thousands of years.

Dancers pose over the Grotto #yogaeverydamnday

Dancers pose over the Grotto #yogaeverydamnday

If you’re feeling extra adventurous and the park just isn’t enough for you (ha, yeah right), head over to Flowerpot island via boat and spend the day on an additional 6.5 km of trail, admiring the natural sea stacks, navigating massive caves and touring the historic light station.

Kelso: Located in Milton, just a 40 minute drive from Cambridge and easily accessable from the 401, Kelso is a location I would consider when I am looking for a slower pace, less challenging climb.

From the mid-point, overlooking the top

From the mid-point, overlooking the top

Still providing great heights for views, it also houses 22 km of hiking terrain which is also suitable for mountain bikers looking for a challenge, 396 hectares of camping, and a network of incredible caves to explore. With the perfect Western views, Kelso is a great place to head with a picnic, your favourite person and find a spot to perch while the sky gives you an incredible show at sunset.

Sunset at Kelso

Sunset at Kelso

If you’re wanting the same proximity to home as Kelso but a little more adventure, on the alternate side of the escarpment you’ll find Rattlesnake Point, accessible from Kelso or a short drive, which hosts three rock-climbing areas and an additional 12.7 km of looping trails.

These are just a few of my favourite spots in our gorgeous province of Ontario – I’ll have to write a few posts to fit them all in as there are still plenty of places in Muskoka, Niagara, through Huron and Bruce Counties, Sarnia, etc. to be shared. What are some of yours? Any different ones you might recommend for me?

~ Toni

 

Freshly baked yum

I have a weakness. It’s something that makes going to grocery stores first thing in the morning tricky. It makes running through neighbourhoods with bakeries or stores tough. It has made me tell Ben that he never has to get me another bouquet of flowers, as long as he brings home this.

It's baaaaath time! :)

Ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, sesame seeds, oats…just hanging out in the bath…chillin’…like seed villains

Hullo, sneaky lover. I love your yeastiness. (TMI? Probably.)

Hullo, sneaky lover. I love your yeastiness. (TMI? Probably.)

It’s freshly baked bread.

Good morning!

Good morning!

Well, aren't we pretty in the morning?

Well, aren’t we pretty in the morning?

Oh my gosh. The smell of the yeast and flour warming in the oven. The delicious aroma of the crust being formed. The incredible feel of warm-out-of-the-oven bread. Watching butter (salted…because, you KNOW) melt into the bubbles of newly baked dough and then eating said melted-butter-covered bread? Oh. My. Gosh.

It's getting serious - we're dumping in the flour!

It’s getting serious – we’re dumping in the whole wheat flour!

Yeast. Salt. Flour. The beginnings of something awesome.

Yeast. Salt. Flour. The beginnings of something awesome.

Seriously.

Magic trick step 1 - measure out oil

Magic trick step 1 – measure out oil

Magic trick step 2 - measure honey in same spoon and watch it run right out of the spoon

Magic trick step 2 – measure honey in same spoon and watch it run right out of the spoon

At the Mills house we’re pro-real food. Pro food that we have made from whole foods ourselves. Pro knowing what the heck is in what we are eating. Making our own bread just makes sense. Because if you have ever read the ingredients in your favourite loaf of bread, you may not know what half the stuff in it is. Or what it’s for. But this bread? This bread you’ll know. And that has to be the best part…beside the whole warm bread melted butter thing.

Dear dough hook, We love you. Love, Julia's hands

Dear dough hook, We love you. Love, Julia’s hands

Adding the flavour, baby. Oh, yeah.

Adding the flavourful Biga, baby. Oh, yeah.

When we were searching for a recipe, we wanted it to be whole grain and have lots of grains – the seedier the better. In fact, I’m now on the hunt for a loaf made up entirely of seeds…like a soft cracker. When I track down one, I will totally share it here. Promise.

All mixed up and ready for some rest.

All mixed up and ready for some rest.

You got big!

You got big!

For now, we’ll take a peek at this loaf of bread that starts with oodles of seeds and ends in melted butter. Hallelujah.

Let's do some folding on some flour. Totally normal day.

Let’s do some folding on some flour. Totally normal day.

The biggest issue with freshly baked bread at home is it takes planning. And time. You can’t rush it. You can’t zip past steps. You can’t force it to rise or fall or bake faster than it’s wont to do. You just can’t. It’s one of those things where time is required. And if you don’t make time or plan time, you’re going to be disappointed.

Smooth, elastic, perfect.

Smooth, elastic, perfect.

Now, there are breads out there that require very little babysitting. Like the No-Knead Bread, which we have made a bunch of times. It’s delicious. And perfect if you’re short on time but you want bread the next day. Even the ‘fast’ bread takes time.

Whoa.

Whoa.

This bread starts the night before and is worth every hour. Sometimes I ‘rush’ it, and set it up in the morning to bake it off later in the afternoon or evening. But that’s still not a ‘rush,’ is it?

Two pieces...or a bum. You pick.

Two pieces…or a bum. You pick.

In this world, you soak the seeds and oats, so that they are the most flavourful. I would guess dry-roasting them would also do something similar, but then you wouldn’t have little pockets of moisture, which every bread needs – who wants to eat dry bread?

A square-ish! ;)

A square-ish! 😉

Like a letter, ready to mailed!

Like a letter, ready to mailed!

Tuck up those ends - we don't want everything coming apart, do we?

Tuck up those ends – we don’t want everything coming apart, do we?

You also recreate what professional bakeries do to ensure the most flavour possible – they take a bit of the dough from today’s batches to put in tomorrow’s batches, so that deep, yeasty flavour exists without having to let the dough sit and rise and get happy with itself for days, instead of hours. Since I (and probably you) don’t make bread every day (we’re crazy, but not that crazy, amirite?), you put together a bit of ‘fake’ dough to sit around for hours so that you’re incorporating that flavour in without the time and dough volume required. Sneaky, sneaky.

Well, don't you look familiar! And bread-like!

Well, don’t you look familiar! And bread-like!

A little bit of rest does wonders!

A little bit of rest does wonders!

On top of having way more flavour than a loaf of mass-produced store bread, this bread contains no refined sugar. There are two tablespoons of honey in this recipe. That’s it. That’s the sweet. The rest of the flavour comes from the other ingredients, as it should be. No flavour-boosters or preservatives or additives to make it taste like bread. It tastes like bread because it is bread.

A little bit of heat is a miracle worker!

A little bit of heat is a miracle worker!

This recipe is also perfect for me because I have crappy carpal tunnel (thanks, pregnancies and babies! Your gifts just keep on giving.), so kneading a bunch of bread is not really ideal for me. My fingers go numb typing. Or driving. Or sitting the wrong way (I’m SUCH a gong show!!!). Kneading thick, tricky bread dough?? So not up my alley. This recipe lets me haul out my sexy KitchenAid Mixer and let the dough hook do all the work. Genius, non? I thought so.

Because this is what we came for...this is what we were waiting for.

Because this is what we came for…this is what we were waiting for.

And finally, this makes two good-size loaves. Which means we have bread for around a week…which is perfect. We find we eat less of this bread than we do of store-bough loaves. I think it has a lot to do with the density of the loaf – it’s LOADED with seeds and goodness, and fills you up so much faster and for longer. Unlike store-bread which is light and fluffy and you can eat a few pieces of it and not even feel sated. This bread eliminates that. Which saves money. And time. And the world. You’re welcome.

Because wasting an opportunity for warm bread with melted butter is just nonsense.

Because wasting an opportunity for warm bread with melted butter is just nonsense.

If you’re scared about attempting bread, just know this: every rise of the bread makes it more awesome…and all mistakes can be overcome in these steps. It’s a three-rise bread, so you have opportunity to let the yeast and the water and the honey and the salt and the seeds and the flour do their thing and get you back on track.

Seriously. Try this bread. It’s worth every hour of waiting. I promise.

~ Julia

Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Difficulty: easy with a dash of patience
  • Print

Ingredients

Soaker (You can come up with your own combination of seeds. The more seeds, the more water you’ll need).

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup sesame seeds, raw
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw, hulled
1/4 cup whole chia seeds
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/2 cup large flake oats
1 1/2 cups water

Biga 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tsp salt
pinch of active dry yeast

Dough

Soaker (see above)
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (NOT hot)
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
Biga (see above)
olive oil (around 3 tbsp)

Directions

The night beforein a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Soaker. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours. In another medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the Biga. Cover bowl and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.

The next day, add the Soaker, flours, warm water, salt, yeast into the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook attachment (if you don’t have one, you can totally do this by hand). Set aside.

Measure a tablespoon of olive oil in your tablespoon measure and pour into a large bowl. Grease the bowl with the oil. Set aside.

Take the oily tablespoon and measure your honey into the mixing bowl – it will just slide out (magic!). Using the dough hook attachment, mix until combined and the dough is pulling away from the sides. Add the Biga and mix again with the dough hook until the seedy dough and the Biga are combined. Dump the dough from the mixer bowl into your greased bowl, turning the dough until it is coated in oil. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it in half several times, until the dough is smooth and elasticky (not sticky). Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour (or until it has doubled in size).

Lightly oil 2- 9×5-inch loaf pans with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Separate the dough into 2 equal pieces. Taking the first piece, shape the dough into a 9×9-inch square. Fold the dough like a letter (into thirds), and tuck the ends under the dough. Place the dough, seam-side down, in the prepared loaf pan. Repeat with the second piece. Cover and let sit for at least an hour (or until the loaves have doubled in size), while preheating your oven to 425˚F. Uncover loaves and put in oven, side-by-side, baking for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them on top. Let sit for 5 minutes in the loaf pans after pulling them out of the oven, then tip them onto baking racks to finish cooling. Feel free to ignore this last piece of advice and cut a loaf while still warm. Serve with butter or jam or eat a hunk naked. Bread will last for up to a week (cover to prevent drying out). ENJOY.

Adapted from Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread recipe on Spiced Blog

A working mom with a twist

In keeping with last week’s theme of friends named Krista, Julia’s friend from high school and university, Krista Pelton, joins us a guest blogger. It’s her first time with the Sisterhood and we’re so glad she’s here! 

I am a working mom.

I went back to work when my son was 14-months old, part-time, and it slowly progressed to full-time. I worked when my husband was not working, mostly, and friends and family watched my son.

Then, it became hard when my son turned 3 and no longer napped. I could no longer work from home in the afternoons. My little bubble burst.

So, our solution? It was not full-time daycare. It was Daddy-took-a-leave-of-absence-from-work. One that extended until junior kindergarten starts this fall.

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

Aleksandr Ryzhov/Shutterstock

When junior kindergarten starts this fall, my husband will have been away from his job for 22 months. So I could pursue my career without any barriers. He had a job and I had a career. There is a huge difference. The pursuit of my career path far outweighed the job.

After almost 22 months it is still the best decision we have made. Besides getting married and having our son. I wake up and go. I worry about myself and no one else every morning. I don’t feel guilty or stressed out. I get to be 100% present working and when I come home I can be 100% present.

I leave the rest to my husband who has picked up the duty of stay-at-home dad like a pro. He is the one that potty-trained him in two days. Even through the night. True story.

Sure, eventually he is going back to work but until our son settles into school it won’t happen. These last 22 months have been extremely rewarding to see my son and husband become so close. Their routine and bond is something only a father/son can understand and I am thankful I had my 22 months and my husband had his 22 months fair and square.

I can’t speak much to being a working mother because I have the fortunate backing of a stay-at-home dad. I don’t have crazy daycare challenges, rushing around and worrying about who’s getting our son every night, or worrying about how much time I get to see him in a day. He wakes up when he is ready, has a great day with his dad and dog and then I come home to a smiling, happy boy.

It was an unconventional decision, although it’s becoming more common in today’s society.

We simply don’t like chaos. We didn’t even like the thought of being stressed out. We did it because it made sense to us at the time and it still rings true today. It’s only money after all, but being 3 and 4? Money can’t buy that.

~ Krista Pelton

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

For the love of my apps!

My phone sent me the cruellest of messages this morning as I awoke from my beauty sleep….

And suddenly I was left with a feeling of pure anxiety. I have to delete things…all the things I hold dearly on my phone. Pictures? No I could never – there are too many to go through! How tedious! How will I choose? It’s just too much!

Then, an idea! (You should know that I do my best thinking in the morning). My apps! My iPhone is full of them, and I know for certain I don’t use them all. So as I scrolled through the many, I came across a few I thought I would share with you before I deleted them.

Etsy was the first app I came across. I am not sure if you are familiar with this app, or website, but it’s pretty amazing! People from all over the world (including Snooki – that’s right, the one and only Snooki) have online shops where they can sell their own merchandise. From handmade necklaces to flasks, a custom made t-shirt to a print of anything your heart desires, Etsy is the app for you! It’s a little addicting, which is probably why I should delete it. I mean a girl can only purchase for herself so many personalized pen holders, or a coffee mug that I could probably make myself – but why would I when I have Etsy?! On second thought, this app isn’t going anywhere!

I wasn’t joking – Snooki…or Nicole as she is going by these days…is on Etsy! Full disclosure – I have already purchased something from her!

Flipp was an app that a friend told me about. She is a savvy shopper and loves a good deal. It’s an app that shows you all the flyers in your area. How does this differ from the paper Julia brags about? Well, you simply type in the search for say “sliced cheese” and it shows you which stores have it on sale and compares them! To be honest, with all our readers I have never used this app before other than after I downloaded it…BUT! I like to see it on my homescreen so that way I feel like I am not the lazy person who uses the new and convenient Foodland in town when I could be using my handy Flipp app to compare and contrast different flyers and negotiate like my step-father in law does. So, again, I guess this app stays, because one day I will use it, and it will save me money!

Realtor.ca app was downloaded not that long ago because I was being a nosy neighbour and wanted to know the price of a house for sale in our neighbourhood. Turns out that Cody and I are horrible at appraising houses (scratch realtor off my possible career moves) and we are super cheap! I kept it because I like looking at the possibilities that are out there, as our little two-bedroom house one day will be too small for our family. So, because I am hopeful for the future, this app is staying.

Live Nation was downloaded as I was looking for a country concert to surprise Cody with. Maybe a little Jason Aldean? Or Zac Brown Band? I mean summer isnt summer without a good concert! I thought it would be nice, but with Cody I had to smoothly ask him which weekend he was a available. And thus my surprise was ruined as I am a horrible secret keeper, and he is a really good surprise guesser and the “we don’t need to go to a concert, we need to redo the bathroom” conversation began.

And so, it is with much pleasure that I announce that I deleted that the Live Nation app! Because we don’t need a concert, we need to redo the bathroom (#buzzkill).

I now have enough room on my phone to take 3½ more pictures! Yay me!

~ Jacqui

The commute life

I’ve been working in my new role long enough now to have settled on a commute path that suits me. It may not be the quickest or most direct or even make sense to anyone else, but it is mine and I actually like it.

It took a few tries, different routes researched before attempted, then attempted and disliked, and attempted again, and again and then finally – I found the one that worked for me.

While taking the most straightforward route down the 401, eventually linking up to Hwy 85 into St. Jacobs can once in a blue moon shave 10-15 min off of my drive, this route means almost always being stuck traffic, surrounded by people I have noticed that do not pay nearly enough attention to the driving of the car and much more attention to the phone in the car, which means higher frustration levels.

textingdriving

It also means being in the car anywhere between 35 and 75 minutes depending on which lane is blocked by which obstruction and which areas are inexplicably jammed up. I took this route on my way in on my first day. This was also the last. I attempted the return route along the same roads, but didn’t make it past two exits before I bailed and began cutting across roads I assumed led me home.

They did.

I made it my mission to find a route that I could live with until our office relocates at some point this year – of the locations being reviewed by my boss and myself both put me well within 20 min from home, which would be a welcomed change.

When I finally did find my route, it meant taking just over 45 min to get to and from work. With the exception of getting into town to get to my neighbourhood which is so (not) conveniently placed in the middle of town, the meat of my time is spent on country roads. Leaving the city and accompanying traffic that seems to be outgrowing said city behind has translated into a peaceful, wonderfully paced drive that is keeping me sane… well for the most part.

I’ve taken note of a few common occurrences along my drive and I just want to be sure I am not alone in:

Conversing with other drivers – not to their knowledge of course: By this I mean sometimes thanking them. Usually for using their signal, finding the speed limit and maybe even taking a bit of a risk by pushing it, or finally being able to pass that tractor/horse and buggy that may be causing a small slowdown. Sometimes if I am super happy for them, I will applaud their achievement by literally applauding them. I hope they know it’s meant sincerely and from the heart. These drivers understand the point of taking the back roads and don’t mess around – I really appreciate you.

turnsignal

Conversing with other drivers – to their knowledge: My route is usually very peaceful and provides me with more patience then I normally posses when too many not so bright people gather in one spot in their vehicles on the highway. That is not to say though that I still don’t have my moments where I encounter the odd jack ass. Sometimes that jack ass is the person who does exactly the speed limit in the 70 and 80 km zones, REFUSING to give 10 or 15 over, but then flies through the 50 and 40 km zones pushing 80 through the handful of little towns I pass through, as if that is the only speed their vehicle is capable of. These people usually are conversed with through the use of my horn and maybe even a good lipping off to…from the safety of my own vehicle of course. The other type of jackass that I have encountered is the one that cannot for the life of them keep their speed and meander in a +/- 20 km range around the speed limit causing the worlds most frustrating conga line of cars that cannot pass because in 5 minutes, he’ll be riding up your butt because he a) has no control or understanding of the mechanics of his vehicle or b) is not paying fucking attention.

asshole

Celebrating the wins: When I hit all the green lights heading out of town, or two slower trucks split at a light turning left and right leaving the through way free for me to zip down, or when my chosen 8tracks playlist of the day KILLS it and gets me right in the feels for my mood of the day – I celebrate. A celebration can be any of the following: clapping, “whoo”ing or “yay”ing, raising the roof, or break out into a little dance. Which leads me to…

Car dancing: As you well know, Jacqui and I are professional car dancers and take this role very seriously. To aid in my car dancing career and deep love for music, my 4Runner is equipped with a competition quality sound system including sub and amp (yes, I am one of those people – and no, I do not care what you think when you see me rollin’ as you be hatin’). When Michael first told me his intent for the equipment was to be in my daily driver, I really wasn’t pumped about it…but now that I have it, I don’t know if I could live without it. I am no gangster by any means though. My choice of music ranges from good hip-hop like Jurassic5, A Tribe Called Quest or Shad, to contemporary piano, country, indie, electronic/chill wave and everything in between as I don’t discriminate – but I digress. The point being that I not only get in more car dancing because the length of my journey being increased, but also because with less traffic and wider, more open roads, one can feel that much more comfortable busting out their best moves. My abs thank me, I can tell.

Making Friends: Travelling the same route everyday has its little perks of familiarity and while I normally find routine monotonous and deadly, these ones seem to bring me a little bit of happy. I now know based on a few key vehicles that I see every day if I, or they, are running late or are on time. In addition I have made friends with a Great Blue Heron that flies over my truck’s sunroof on the daily at the same time, in the same spot by the river – his name is Henry and he is an incredibly majestic creature. There is also a very sweet construction crew that has been working on the road in one of the small towns I pass through for quite a few weeks – we’ve become such good friends that when they see me coming they will extend the slow sign for the reduced lane a few moments more to make sure I can sneak through before making my lane come to a stop, which always makes me smile.

On top of all of these wonderful things that may happen at some point on my drive, the bit of extra time at a reasonable pace has given me a lot of time alone to think – which my inner-introvert loves – or not think and take in my surroundings. Enjoying my commute has made the transition back into the working world even easier and I’m so thankful for this simple luxury. And to all of the hardcore commuters who have to deal with Toronto/401 traffic, and public transportation, my gratitude for my commute is present and the magnitude of this blessing is not lost on me – I promise.

~ Toni