Living Large in My Tiny Space

I do live in a tiny space and I love it.  I found this apartment 9 years ago when I moved to Toronto after 2 years of living in Haifa.  I didn’t think I would be here almost a decade later but I knew the minute I crossed the threshold that it was home.  It is just 500 square feet including the 100 square feet  of balcony.  I use that balcony in the warmer months and it was one of the non-negotiable items on my must have list – clean building, public transit, balcony, wooden floors and bathtub.

When I left Canada in 2004, I sold the house and most of what was in it.  My daughters took what they wanted for their first homes and I kept 3 antique pieces that I had inherited from my Grandmother, a coffee table my father had commissioned and 5 boxes of books and other treasures.  I safely stored them away in my brother’s home and travelled with 2 very large suitcases of clothing and shoes.

I purchased a few new pieces when I moved in – a Beddinge sofa bed from Ikea, a bookcase and a chair from Pier One and an Ikea cabinet I found on Craigslist.  The rest, I have to admit, I have found or inherited.  Yup, found, fabulous pieces set on the curb in my neighbourhood.

table find
This is a table I had many pictures of in my vision book and there it was on the street looking for me.

In my space I have created nooks – a reading nook, an office nook, a dining nook, sitting nook.  My space has a separate kitchen, a huge walk-in closet, linen closet and entrance.

My living room converts to my bedroom with a quick flip of the sofa bed.

bed

…………and my kitchen space

I added  a baker’s rack to my kitchen and it holds extra bowls, baking pans, cast iron frying pans. I  have catered from this little space, held dinner parties for up to 10 and cooked daily for myself.

This year as I prepare to train as a Kohenet (a Jewish Priestess), I have added my altar.

altar

I love to nest wherever I land.  Do you?  How do you live in a tiny space?

 

 

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Embracing February

February is never an easy month for me.  I am ready for spring………. well quite honestly, ready for summer.  I am a summer woman.  I love the heat, love the sun and really don’t mind humidity.  Winter takes more work to stay balanced and positive.  I intend to do it, though.  Every year I stop wearing socks in February, bring sandals to the office, ignore my sweaters, and wear my spring clothes with my big red coat over them. Big shawls and furry winter boots help because the older I get, the more I feel the cold.

Red Coat
An outing with my awesome daughters

Yesterday was one of those challenging February days – the morning started out well – waking up without an alarm clock, writing in my gratitude journal, yoga stretches for my lower back, and a walk to work that includes a challenging incline that leaves me exhilarated.  My office is now only 500 metres from home eliminating public transit but also my 40 minute walk.  I decided that I need that walk so I am taking advantage of my awesome neighbourhood.

Lee Street
Feels like walking a mountain

A little pampering goes a long way.  If you have a health insurance plan that allows for massage therapy, acupuncture or any other healing therapy, I strongly urge you to take advantage.  For those who don’t, I recommend schools for Registered Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Estheticians, Hair Stylists and more.   The prices are extremely low in comparison and the treatments usually take longer therefore giving you a little extra pampering time. I have been taking advantage of our beauty schools for almost a decade.  Colour, cut and blow dry for around $30.  A simple wash and blow dry is only $10. Pampering on a budget for sure.

This week I visited my favourite manicurist for the best pedicure EVER.  I have been going to Mary for Manicures and Pedicures for about 9 years.  She changed locations in the Beaches3 times and I along with many others have followed her.  A pedicure with Mary compares favourably to any high end treatment.  She puts her all into her work and has a thriving clientele.  She knows I am having trouble with my knee and really spends extra time on the massage.  You can ask for extra massage and pay only $1 per minute at many salons in Toronto.  I really recommend finding someone you like and becoming a regular customer rather than just dropping in.   A mani/pedi at the many salons in Toronto are usually on $35.  It is just one of the luxuries that I give myself every 4-6 weeks when possible – for me, it is definitely living life abundantly.  You can find Mary at Professional Nail and Spa, 2221 Queen Street East, Toronto, Ontario, 416-694-4111.  Tell her Sandra sent you. (this is not a paid commercial just friends sharing great ideas)

Admittedly I am not a person who loves exercise and I really cannot motivate myself to join a class or go to a gym.  I really do enjoy getting out to a pool and I am fortunate to have one only a few kilometres away.  We are so blessed in Toronto to have community pools in every neighbourhood.  Lane swims are very reasonably priced and leisure swims are free across the city. Spending 30 – 60 minutes moving about in the pool really is a great attitude adjustment.

Stiff joints always feel worse in the winter (at least for me) and I have been faithfully doing yoga stretches for the past 2 weeks every morning.  What a difference it makes! I am concentrating on the lower back, sciatic area, hips as well as neck and shoulders.  I really appreciate the videos by Psyche Truth on YouTube.  I am really blown away by the difference I am feeling this week after being consistent.

Here are a few youtube videos that I really like but I find I need to try a variety to keep it interesting.

How To Yoga Stretches for Low Back Pain & Sciatica Relief by Jen Hilman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f1Y4OV3QlA&list=PLdMcHk9t7WxMgmmIFj-0Won6m8uSjrExk&index=3

Neck Stretch Exercises For Pain, Tension & Stress Relief, Jen Hilman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaPRFm3EZWY&index=5&list=PLdMcHk9t7WxMgmmIFj-0Won6m8uSjrExk

Stretches for Back Pain Relief, How to Stretch Routine, Beginners Home Yoga

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaPRFm3EZWY&index=5&list=PLdMcHk9t7WxMgmmIFj-0Won6m8uSjrExk

Yoga Workout | Low Back Pain Stretches Routine, How To for Beginners, Total Wellness Austin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue_vHLkMgzg

For years I went to tanning salons in the winter for the tan and for the warmth and the light.  It really worked for me but I don’t recommend this.  The dangers’ of tanning beds outweighs the benefits, in my opinion.  I have never tried sun lamps to help with the lack of sunshine but it might be a great idea.  I take my Vitamin D every day, get outside for a walk and dream of summer sun.

Tulips on the table

Spring tulips on a table, visits to a garden conservatory, green house, butterfly conservatory, art gallery, museum or even a night in a local hotel ( look for great deals online).  Take a drive on a bright sunny day to a neighbouring town – visit a Farmer’s Market, Antique Shops and more.  Don’t have a car?  Rent one for the day, hop on the Go Train but get a change of scene this month.   I once spent an adventurous day at Ikea during a blizzard.  Travelled there by subway (had to change trains 3 times) and we were among the very, very, very few shoppers.  We ate in their restaurant and the staff were offering us samples of different foods since there were only 2 other customers.  It was a full day outing and I think all I bought were some bright yellow candles to go with my February tulips.

What are your secrets for a great February?

The Staycation continues and Some recipes

After an outstanding shopping experience at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, it is time to make the best use of all that fresh and delicious food.

Market day with Tovah
Heading out to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto

Shopping in the market is really part of my staycation mentality.  I love shopping in markets around the world and cooking my own food at home.  The St. Lawrence is the best of what Toronto has to offer and it is really well priced.  I bought all my groceries there this week.  The lemons and avocados are huge – 2 avocados for $3 compares to a whole bag of those little one at a discount market.  The same goes for lemons – 4 times the size of the ones in the grocery store.

It was all about the lunch yesterday.  I treated myself to 15 fresh oysters – they were $1 each and an extra 25 cents to have them shucked.  I was literally in heaven………….savouring every delicious bite.   This is living life large.  I don’t need an expensive restaurant – just amazing fresh food.  Eating it right there in the market transported me to a picnic table at the wharf in Pt. du Chene, N.B.

I used my Uber account for the first time to get home with all my loot.  My grocery cart filled to capacity.  The trip was $13 – from downtown to the beaches – usually pay $10 with tip to get home from my local supermarket so this really isn’t a big difference.  Kudos to Uber.  They are really doing it right.  The drivers are interesting, vehicles are clean and this really feels like the sharing economy.   This has been a tough decision for me.  I drove a taxi part time for 5 years in the early 90’s to supplement my income as a single parent.

For me the secret to healthy eating is being prepared.  A kitchen filled with healthy options.  Each week I make my own hummus.  Today’s batch turned out better than ever and I thought it might be the perfect time to share the recipe.

Hummus Recipe

hummus

I soak 1 cup of dried chickpeas over night.  Usually I do 2 cups at a time so I have chick peas to cook with during the week or to whip up another hummus batch mid-week.  In the morning I cover the chick peas with water and boil for at least an hour.  Rinse and cool the chick peas.

Now put the chick peas in your food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can use your blender but usually need more liquid.

Add 1 tsp salt, 1 heaping tbsp cumin, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice), ½ cup water, 1 clove garlic (or 1 tsp. Garlic powder), 2 tbsp tahini.  I often add fresh or dried parsley and sometimes a sprinkle of red chili flakes.

Blend until smooth. Delicious!

This week I made a batch of Spinach and Basil pesto. I pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze so that I can use only a few cubes as needed over the next several weeks.  It is great with soba noodles, or any wheat pasta, over fava beans or chick peas, and my favourite is mixed with spaghetti squash!  I got this recipe over 20 years ago from my sister and she got it from the Moosewood cookbook.  I lost the recipe years and this is how I make it.

Spinach Basil Pesto Recipe

1 large bunch of fresh spinach

1 bunch of fresh basil

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup parmesan cheese  (optional).  I am not eating dairy these days so I sprinkle nutritional yeast when I am eating it.  I haven’t tried putting it in and then freezing.

¼ cup sunflower seeds (substitute pine nuts or walnuts).  I always use sunflower seeds.

1 tsp salt

1 clove garlic

Everything goes into the food processor until it is liquid.  Then I pour into  an ice-cube tray, slip into a plastic bag and into the freezer.

Spinach Basil Pesto

When it is frozen, I break it into individual cubes and put into the plastic bag.    This is so yummy and so easy.

Frozen pesto

Black Bean Dip

I also make this is in my food processor.  I like to make everything the same day to cut down on clean up.0

1 cup dried black beans.  Soak the bean overnight and cover with water and simmer for an hour.

Add the beans to food processor

1 tsp salt

1 lemon (juice only)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic

Few sprigs of cilantro

I like this thick so I don’t blend for too long.  This is good as a dip or made into patties and baked or fried.