Christmas 2016- Surviving the Holidays! \\\ Survivre aux fêtes!

(Version française plus bas!)

With less then a week to Christmas, it’s easy to get high anxiety and to feel overwhelmed between gifts, cards, food and planning. All this extra work is also happening at the wrong time: I’m usually super tired from the cold setting in and a general lack of sleep. So, this year, I really thought about how I would deal with the holidays without using the last bits of energy I have. I also realized that being a ball of stress was probably not fun for the people surrounding me. Here are some questions that helped me destress and prioritize for a stress-free holiday season.

surviving-the-holidays

  1. What are my priorities? This is probably the most important question to ask yourself: what is it that you want out of this holiday season? Personally, I want to feel refreshed, energized and happy. I want to spend as much time as possible with my family, in my pj’s, reading, watching movies and having a good time. I want to see friends, but also to reconnect with myself a little bit and to take care of myself. Do I need to spend a gazillion hours in front of the stove for that? No. That’s settled then! I really feel like sitting down and writing down some priorities helped me get rid of unattainable standards that got into my mind at some point. There’s nothing wrong with a little downsizing!
  2. How much time do I have? Christmas this year is on a Sunday, which means that most of us will be working until Friday and start celebrating on Saturday. That doesn’t leave a lot of extra days to do last minute shopping or cooking. It’s important to recognize that and to realistically count how many hours will be available and to work with that number.
  3. How much money do I have? Gifts really are the perfect thing to make you feel cheap and poor (always a great combo!). This year, I set myself a very clear gift money budget and really stuck to it. I also wanted to make Christmas more personal by making most of my gifts myself (see DIY gifts), which meant that I didn’t have to spend as much money to have really cute and fun gifts. Having a clear limit really helped reduce my anxiety levels because I tend to let myself go overboard when it comes to Christmas gifts, which usually means that I start the year completely broke and stressed out. Not good!
  4. What can I prepare ahead? Finally, once everything is planned and clear in your head, try to give yourself a break by making things ahead. For example, I’ll be serving some curried cauliflower soup . Well, it’s already made and sitting in my freezer, ready to be warmed up on Christmas day. That’s one thing I will not need to worry about. I also grated a lot of carrots and beets for a colourful salad, and made some sauerkraut as a side dish. During this week, I’ll also be making some bean dips, salad dressings and cut out the veggies ahead. That way, it will be a simple matter of roasting and assembling. Stress? What stress?
  5. What can my guests bring? I really think that assuming everything is the worst idea one can have for Christmas. Don’t be shy and ask your friends and familly to bring some things to0. It’s the season for sharing, isn’t it?

I really hope these few tips will help make your holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable. Do you have any other tips?


Je suis tellement excitée que Noël soit dans moins d’une semaine! Ça pourrait également être stressant: les cadeaux, les cartes, la nourriture, l’organisation… il y a de quoi paniquer! Surtout que les fêtes de fin d’année arrivent alors que je suis fatiguée par l’hiver qui commence et beaucoup de travail. Cette année, j’ai vraiment fait un effort pour ne pas utiliser mes dernières pépites d’énergie en vue de passer des fêtes heureuses et reposantes. Il n’est également pas très agréable d’infliger la version stressée de moi-même à ma famille et à mes proches. Voici quelques questions qui m’ont aidées à rendre cette saison des fêtes la moins stressante possible.

survivre-aux-fetes

  1. Quelles sont mes priorités? Cette question est sans doute la plus importante de toutes: qu’est-ce que j’attend de cette saison des fêtes? Personnellement, j’ai envie d’être énergisée, reposée et détendue à la fin des vacances. J’ai également très hâte de passer du temps avec ma famille, en pyjamas, à lire et à regarder des films. J’ai envie de voir quelques amis, mais aussi de me reconnecter et de prendre soins de moi. Est-il donc nécéssaire que je passe milles heures devant mon four? Non. Voilà une chose de réglée! Je pense vraiment que de prioriser ses objectifs est primordial pour éviter de se mettre des standards incroyablement élevés en tête. Après tout, c’est aussi le temps de se gâter un peu!
  2. Combien de temps m’est disponible? Comme Noël tombe un dimanche cette année, ça veut dire que la plupart des gens vont travailler jusqu’à vendredi et commencer à célébrer samedi. Cela ne donne vraiment pas beaucoup de temps pour faire le magasinage de dernière minute et la bouffe. Il est donc important de compter le nombre d’heures qui pourra réalistiquement être allouées à la préparation de Noël et de s’y tenir.
  3. Combien d’argent m’est disponible? Les cadeaux de Noël, c’est parfait pour se sentir pauvre et radin. Cette année, pour éviter de me sentir mal, je me suis fixée un budget de Noël, et je m’y suis tenue. De plus, j’ai eu envie de rendre mes cadeaux plus personels en en fabriquant une bonne partie. Avoir un budget clair m’a vraiment aidée à faire mes choix et à reduire mon niveau de stress en m’empêchant d’exagérer et de commencer l’année complètement fauchée.
  4. Qu’est-ce que je peux préparer à l’avance? Cette année, j’essaye de me laisser une chance de profiter de la journée du 24 en préparant autant de choses que possible à l’avance. Par exemple, j’ai déjà préparé mon entrée: une soupe au curry et au chou-fleur. Elle est déjà au congélateur, prête à être rechauffée et savourée! Une chose en moins sur ma liste. J’ai également préparé des carottes et des betteraves pour faire une jolies salade colorée, et j’ai mis de la choucroutte à fermenter pour un petit à côté. Cette semaine, je vais également préparer des tartinades de légumineuses, mes saucess à salades et découper les légumes pour que le 24 ne soit plus qu’une question d’assemblage et d’enfournage. Parfait!
  5. Qu’est-ce que mes invités peuvent apporter? Si vous recevez des gens pour les fêtes, il est probablement déraisonnable de tout assumer. N’hésitez pas à faire participer vos amis et votre famille! Après tout, c’est la saison du partage, non?

Voilà! J’espère que ces quelques questions vous aideront à passer de belles fêtes avec le moins de stress possible. Et vous, quels sont vos trucs?

 

Christmas Gift Guide 2016!

Christmas is coming! After such a grueling month of November, I am overly excited for Christmas. I’m really looking forward to doing nothing over the holidays. Yeah, that’s right, just lounging in my pj’s with my family and my cat. Glorious days are coming!

holidaysarecoming

Christmas is a great opportunity to give people you love things that they need or enjoy. So, I thought I would give you some recommendations. These gifts are made by passionate people and in ethical ways. I’m also including ideas for your minimalist friends because that’s pretty cool too. My advice when Christmas shopping: don’t go overboard. Keep things simple. I will also be posting a handmade Christmas gift guide pretty soon, so stay posted for that!

Books

You can’t go wrong by giving a good book for Christmas. After all, there is nothing better than staying in bed with some good reading. Here is my selection of great books to give this year!

  1. The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: I love her recipes! Every single one that I tried (and that’s a lot) turned out delicious and crowd pleasers. They are often very simple to prepare, yet extremely satisfying and amazing. I have to say this book is very exciting: beautiful pictures, fun recipes and more down-to-earth advice from the vegan queen Isa Chandra Moskowitz. If you have a cook in the family, this is the book to gift them.
  2. Deliciously Ella Every Day, by Ella Woodward: This is a staple in my kitchen. I love Ella’s plant-based (she uses honey, which I replace by maple syrup) and gluten-free recipes because they are made with whole foods that are easily found. Her recipes are very simple to prepare but always look incredibly sophisticated. I’m really excited to see her next book, Deliciously Ella with Friends, but as it is only coming out in 2017, this one is a great one to cook from as we are waiting.
  3. Wanderlust, by Jeff Krasno: For all yoga or wellness lovers on your list, this book is filled with exercises, mindfulness tips, yoga sequences and very interesting articles written by a variety of passionate individuals. It’s perfect if you are just getting into yoga or want to take your life in a different direction because it offers advice and guidance to find your true self. Sounds like an ambitious project, right? Well, this book is also greatly put together and features wonderful inspiring quotes and photograph. For that reason alone, it makes me feel happy everytime I look at time.
  4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the illustrated edition, by J.K. Rowling: For all the Potterheads out there, this is a must! The beloved story is beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay and is just so wonderful to read. This would also make a great gift for parents of story-telling-aged children. But really, I bought one for myself and love to look at it. They have released the second book, The Chamber of Secrets, this year and the others are coming. You could make this a gift for the years to come!

Art and clothing

Art and clothing, or art for clothing!

  1. Vegan weaving by FarFromtheSeaQc: This Montreal-based visual artist is exploring textures and colours in her very original and fun woven wall hangings. These beautiful and unique pieces are also vegan! They would make a great addition to any decor.
  2. LiveNLetLive T-Shirts: Based in Laval, Quebec, this team makes wonderfully cute t-shirts with the powerful “Live and let live” quote. I bought one last year and love it! I received so many compliments when wearing it. The images are printed on soft coton shirts that are easily washed and so comfortable to wear. Great piece to give to your vegan activist friend!
  3. T-shirt, hoodies or accessories by Anabel Roy: Another Montreal-based artist! Anabel makes wonderfully witty and funny pieces from her drawings. I bought one of her sweaters last year (can you guess which one?), and I love it. It’s my go-to piece for when I’m feeling cold or in need for comfortable and easy to wear clothes. The quality is also very high, but really, will you look at these designs?

For your minimalist friend

Minimalism and Christmas might seem like an oxymoron. However, there are plenty of things you can gift your minimalist (or any, really) friend.

  1. Food: Think fancy chocolates, or a basket of their favorite nuts and spreads. Extra points if you can make it zero waste! If they are into healthy foods, you can also buy them items they go through a lot like a rich raw cacao powder or an extra-virgin coconut oil. They will love these as they won’t be cluttering their homes, and they’ll think of you every time they eat!
  2. Gift cards: Get to know what items they do still consume and get them gift cards to relevant stores. For example, if your friend is an artist and goes through a lot of paper or pens, give them a gift card to an art supply store.
  3. Events: Instead of gifting them something, why not pamper them to the luxury of an afternoon in your company? I have to say, I have a soft spot for this kind of gift because it means that I’ll get to spend time with someone I like doing something fun! Why not channel your inner Dowager Countess of Grantham and try out the afternoon tea at The Parloir? Their vegan option is apparently divine!

For your pampering-obsessed friend

  1. Soins Materia: I raved about these products a few posts ago, and I’m still completely obsessed with them. Very luxurious and incredibly rich, these products are made locally and are completely vegan! Cheers to that!
  2. Outer Happiness: These products are so much fun and completely vegan! I raved about them too, but since then, new amazing products have been created! The bath salts are incredible!
  3. Northern Delights herbal teas: Because there really isn’t anything better than lounging in a hot bath with a good book and a cup of herbal tea. Especially when the tea is made locally and fairly by Inuit communities. These are incredibly delicious and come in beautiful wooden boxes that are perfect for gifting.
  4. Oneka products: If your friend is a shower-lover, why not try out Oneka products? Again these are locally made and completely vegan. They are also made by the cutest couple in a beautiful village. Make a day out of it! I really love their shampoos, but they have just came up with new soap bars, so that’s something new to try out!

I hope this list gives you some gift ideas. If you are looking for greeting cards, I’ll be selling some at the Concordia Greenhouse this Wednesday, but also on Etsy starting next week.

cards

Fun holiday times! Remember that time and attention are the greatest gifts there are and don’t go overboard!

 

 

 

Minimalist Skin Care: Floral waters \\ Soins pour la peau minimalistes: Eaux Florales

(Version française plus bas!)

If you read my last post on Materia body care products, you know that I have struggled with and still am working on my skin. After trying every anti-acne product I could get my hands on, I went cold turkey and got rid of all of them. I turned to the kitchen as a source of gentle toners and moisturizers to help my skin heal instead of spending all my money on synthetic and harmful products. Two things that I stole from my mom’s pantry then and still use now are floral waters and oils. Today, I want to tell you about my two favourite floral waters: neroli or orange blossom water and rose water.

floralwaters

Now, before I start raving about these beautiful waters, I think it’s interesting to know how floral waters are made. When making essential oils, large quantities of plants, flowers or leaves most of the time, are distilled. This means that water steam is forced to go through the plants. As the steam goes through the plants, it collects their essential oils. When this steam is cooled, it condenses back to form liquid water and the essential oils will float on the surface while the floral waters or hydrolats are at the bottom. These waters still contain some of the essential oils but in a diluted form. Okay, on to the rave.

rosewater

Because floral waters still contain some essential oils, they have amazing smells and also share some of the properties of the oils without being too strong to use directly on the skin. I really like using them as toners because they help clear out my skin by being soothing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and purifying. Sounds good, right? Well, forget all of this. The real reason you have to try out floral waters is because they smell great. It is so luxurious to spritz these on my face in the morning and before bed.

Both rose water and neroli water are strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial waters, which is great for toning down my acne. They also are mildly astringent, meaning that they help control excess sebum without drying out my skin. Finally, they are also very hydrating and help make my skin feel soft. Adding to all of this, their smell is so relaxing. I usually use rose water in the morning to start my day on a bright note, and neroli at night because it helps me fall asleep and sleep deeply.

neroliwater

A final note on floral waters: make sure you buy 100% pure hydrolats or floral waters. Some brands use fillers and artificial scents, which kind of defies the purpose of using minimalistic and simple products. You can find both rose and neroli waters in middle-eastern groceries for very cheap, but you can also buy higher quality waters where you find your essential oils. Happy hunting and let me know what you think of floral waters!


Si vous avez lu mon billet sur les produits corporels Materia, vous savez que ma peau est difficile et que nous avons eu un parcours chaotique ensemble. Après avoir essayé tous le produits anti-acné sur lesquels je pouvais tomber, je me suis complètement retournée et je me suis débarrassée de tous ces produits artificiels. À la place d’aller en pharmacie, c’est dans les placards de la cuisine de ma maman que j’ai trouvé mes nouveaux produits de beauté: des eaux florales et des huiles. J’aimerais partager avec vous ma routine de soins en commençant aujourd’hui par mes deux eaux florales préférées: l’eau de rose et l’eau de fleurs d’oranger.

floralwaters

Avant de commencer, je pense qu’il est intéressant de savoir d’où proviennent ces eaux florales. Lors de la distillation de plantes, généralement les fleurs ou les feuilles, pour la fabrication d’huiles essentielles, une grande quantité de vapeur d’eau passe au travers des plantes. Ce faisant, elle collecte les huiles essentielles contenues dans les plantes. Par la suite, cette vapeur d’eau est refroidie ce qui la force à se condenser. Cela veut dire que la vapeur d’eau redevient liquide. On observe alors deux phases : les huiles essentielles sur le dessus, et les hydrolats, ou eaux florales, en dessous. Ces eaux contiennent également des huiles essentielles mais de façon beaucoup plus diluée ce qui les rend non seulement comestibles mais également douces pour la peau.

Cela veut également dire que certaines propriétés des huiles essentielles sont aussi partagées par les eaux florales. J’adore utiliser les eaux florales parce qu’elles sentent vraiment très bon, et elles sont également anti-inflammatoires, antibactériennes, purifiantes et apaisante. Pas mal, non? Mais vraiment, elles sentent super bon! C’est vraiment un rituel bien-être que de vaporiser ces eaux sur mon visage matin et soir.

rosewater

Comme je le disais plus haut, les eaux de rose et de fleurs d’oranger sont mes préférées. Cela s’explique par le fait qu’elles sont anti-inflammatoire et antibactériennes, ce qui est parfait pour mon acné. Elles sont également astringentes ce qui veut dire qu’elles aident à contrôler la quantité de sébum produite par ma peau, tout en douceur, sans l’assécher ni l’irriter. Elles sont également hydratantes et rendent ma peau si douce! Finalement, en plus de tout ça, leurs odeurs sont incroyablement relaxantes. J’adore utiliser l’eau de rose le matin pour commencer la journée sur une note positive, et l’eau de fleurs d’oranger le soir car elle m’aide à m’endormir et à dormir profondément.

neroliwater

Une dernière note sur les eaux florales : faites attention à ce qu’elles soient pures à 100%. Certaines marques ajoutent des arômes artificiels et autres produits synthétiques, ce qui est un peu contradictoire avec l’idée d’utiliser des produits simples et sains. Il est facile de trouver des eaux de rose et de fleurs d’oranger dans les épiceries magrébines à petits prix. Il est également possible de se procurer des eaux florales de plus hautes qualités auprès de votre producteur d’huiles essentielles ou en épicerie bio. Bonnes recherches et dites-moi quelles eaux florales vous préférez!