Parenting/Life

Maybe I’m Languishing?

Languish (verb): to exist in an unpleasant or unwanted situation, often for a long time:
After languishing in obscurity for many years, her early novels have recently been rediscovered.
He has been languishing in jail for the past 20 years.
The ruling party is languishing in third place in the opinion polls.
 
I think we all had high hopes for 2021.  But here we are 5 months in and it’s definitely not close to meeting it’s expectations.  We’re in our 3rd lockdown, our children are in virtual school indefinitely and the Covid numbers don’t seem to be getting any better.  We knew all the garbage of 2020 wasn’t going to magically disappear but this far in, I didn’t think we’d be in this bad of shape.
 
Personally, I came into 2021 feeling optimistic.  I felt like things would slowly but surely get better in the world.  Rebranding the blog made me hopeful that perhaps it would be a little more successful and lucrative for me.  I even bought a fancy planner for 2021.  But as a metaphor of how things are going with that, it sits barely used.
 
For the past few months, I was worried that perhaps my anxiety/depression medication wasn’t doing it’s job and maybe I needed to speak to my doctor about changing the dosage. I wasn’t sad but just felt blah.  My creativity level had reached an all time low.  The thought of watching yet another series on Netflix seemed like torture. Everything and anything seemed like an effort.
 
Then I read an article in the NY Times about languishing.  Reading the article by Adam Grant, was almost one of those light bulb moments.  It was like he had stepped into my life and knew exactly how I was feeling.  He wrote:
“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness.  It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.  And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.”
 
Afterwards, I spoke to a few different people about it and it was always the same answer.  They were clearly languishing too.  I know this sounds terrible, but it made me feel a little bit better.  It wasn’t just me. It wasn’t all in my head.  People are generally in the state of influx…they aren’t happy and they aren’t sad, just existing.  And this can be exhausting.
 
Since reading this article and kind of figuring out this feeling was probably going to be sticking around for a while, I have been trying to make a serious, conscientious effort to do things that will help boost my mental health and lessen this languish I am feeling. It’s the typical things most people do, like getting more exercise, eating better, reducing my screen time, etc but I am really trying to make the effort.  And some days are definitely easier than others.  
 
I guess what I want to say is, if you’ve been feeling this way, just know you aren’t alone.  A lot of us are clearly languishing these days.   
Recipes

Chia Seed Pudding

When it comes to breakfast, I am the worst.  I used to make a coffee or 2 in the morning sustain me until lunch time but then I discovered Chia Seed Pudding.

Because I make it the night before, it is easy to grab out the refrigerator first thing in the morning, add my toppings and I am good to go. Chia Seed Pudding is such a versatile recipe for anyone with any sort of food allergies or sensitivities as you can use any type of milk that suits your needs and you can choose the toppings.

If you use a milk that has any sort of vanilla flavoring to it for example,  Vanilla Almond Milk, I would suggest omitting the vanilla already included in the recipe.

As for toppings for the Chia seed pudding, the options are limitless.

Some of the ones I have tried and enjoyed are:

  • Fresh berries
  • Sliced Bananas and a dollop of peanut butter
  • A dollop of hazelnut spread
  • Even a tablespoon of your favorite jam is good if you don’t have fresh berries

And this doesn’t just have to be for breakfast, it makes a nice snack or dessert as well. It can usually sit for a day or 2 in your refrigerator but I wouldn’t leave it any longer than that.  Also, if you can, give the pudding a stir a few hours after you’ve first made it.  I can get a bit clumpy in spots, so it’s good to mix it up.

RECIPE:

  • Small mason jar
  • 2 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 cup milk (Choose your favorite type)
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Fruit or toppings of your choice
  1. Add all ingredients, except for toppings to mason jar or container with lid
  2. Be sure to combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Let sit overnight (or minimum 6 hours) in refrigerator.
  4. Add toppings of choice right before you eat.

Uncategorized

A Boy and His Mom is Now Cathy Unfiltered

So its official, A Boy and His Mom is now Cathy Unfiltered.

A Boy and His Mom will always be near and dear to my heart but I felt it was time for a change.  As the years have passed, not only have the boy and I evolved, what I want for this blog has evolved as well.

When I started the blog, the boy was young and just a couple of years into school and was often eager to participate with my blog.  Now, he’ll be a teenager in just a few months and we all know what teenagers can be like.  This is not to say, I won’t be talking about him or including him, the focus won’t be on “the boy”.

My focus will be more on my challenges and joys of dealing with a teenager.  I will also be focusing on my physical and mental health and wellness.  And included in all of that, any Mom hacks I have and recipes to make meal times easier.

If you followed me up to this point, these topics will probably not seem too far off from what I was blogging about before.  But truth be told, a lot of times I felt I needed to write more of what I thought people wanted to hear and less of what I actually wanted to say.

I worried about what people would think or say.  Not that I can’t take criticism or negative feedback, but I didn’t want it to reflect negatively on me as a Mom or a parent.   At the beginning of 2020, I had been struggling with depression and anxiety and that played a huge part on this negative thinking.  Luckily right before COVID changed the world, I took steps to change this.

And Cathy Unfiltered is changing now as well.  It will be a more honest and open conversation.  What I really think about things and what is really going on behind the screen….unfiltered, authentic.

Sometimes when people hear the word unfiltered, they think rude, crude, and obnoxious.  That is not what Cathy Unfiltered is going to be.  It is going to just be me….real, honest and vulnerable.

I am so glad you have been a part of my journey thus far and hope you continue to follow and watch me grow.

Uncategorized

5 Things I Have Learned About Blogging

It’s hard to believe that I have been blogging now for 5 years.  Some days I feel like I know what’s going on but a lot of the days I still feel like such a newbie. But here are 5 things that I definitely learned along the way.

1. Blogging Is A LOT of Work.

 Blogging is definitely a lot more work than it seems.  I don’t know how many times I heard people saying they want to get into blogging so they can get all the free stuff.  If only it were that easy.   There is a lot of planning, writing, editing, emailing, negotiating and pitching that goes into any sponsored post.  And then for the non-sponsored posts, it’s still a lot of planning, writing and editing. And after all that is done, it’s all about engagement.  You need to respond to comments left on your posts but also, like, comment and engage with others. 

I’ve often heard people say they can’t understand how people make it their full time job. There is no doubt in my mind it could be a full time job.  Even with my little blog, I sometimes struggle trying to juggle it and my full time job.

2. You’ll Make Some Great Friends.

This is my favorite thing about blogging, the friendships I have made.  The best part is some are local so we were able to meet in person and form even stronger friendships. I know this will sound cliche but I feel like I have a community of friends now that understand the ups and downs of the industry. They can relate to things that I am going through and bounce things off each other.  

3. Social Media vs Reality

Don’t get me wrong, I love engaging with others and getting to know people on social media.   But you’ve seen those posts about Social Media vs Reality? Well …. not everyone is who they appear to be on those tiny little squares.  They aren’t always the ray of sunshine or the #babesupportingbabes that they preach on their feed.  Let’s be honest, in the blogging world, it can be a bit of a numbers game and some will do whatever it takes to get said numbers. I’ve seen friendships fall apart and social media wars raged because of this.

4. Blogging Can Play Tricks On Your Mind

When you are working your butt off to increase your following and not seeing the results you want, it can play with your confidence.  You see others that started out the same time as you did now having a following of 2,3 or 4 times more than you, can make you wonder if you’re good enough for this job.  Self doubt can really play a number on you.  But if you remember that regardless of your numbers, there are people that really enjoy your content, it reminds of why you started it in the first place.  

5. Change Is Ok

Sometimes when you first start blogging, you think you know exactly what you want to do and how you want it to look.  But over the years, you blog/social media will evolve and you may want to push it in an entirely new direction, change your logo, change your name to make it more cohesive to the person you are now.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Your followers are probably evolving in their own lives and a lot of them will probably be going through similar changes too.  So go for it!  If you stick with something that you can no longer relate to or have lost a passion for, it’s going to be really hard to convince others you still do.

So after these 5 years, I have grown a lot as a blogger but am looking forward to the next 5 years to see how things will grow and change.  I hope you will follow along too.

Uncategorized

Smashed Brussels Sprouts with Lime Yogurt Sauce

Who would have thought I would ever be excited about Brussels sprouts?  Who knew that they were actually called “Brussels” and not just “Brussel”?  I was today years old when I learned that.

I love trying new recipes, especially one serving recipes.  I have a much more adventurous palate than the boy, so I like trying new recipes when he is at his Dads.  However, I find most recipes feed 4 or more, and I either end up eating leftovers for days, or wasting a lot if I don’t end up enjoying it.

I happened across this recipe on a TikTok by Halle Burns and decided to give it a try.   Brussels sprouts are one my favorite veggies, so her recipe looked so good.  One thing I liked about it,  it was enough for one meal or two side dishes.

After a few tries and tweaks, I had a recipe that loved and will be making quite often. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

Smashed Brussels Sprouts with Lime Yogurt Sauce

  • 3 cups Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp sriracha sauce or hot sauce of choice
  • 2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  1. Preheat oven to 450°
  2. Steam or boil Brussel sprouts until tender
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine oil, maple syrup, soy sauce and garlic
  4. Once Brussels Sprouts have cooked, strain them and pat dry with paper towel.
  5. Toss sprouts in sauce mixture until well covered
  6. Place sprouts on baking sheet and then “smash” them with the bottom of a glass.
  7. Pour any remaining sauce over the smashed sprouts.
  8. Cook at 450° for 25 minutes or until crispy
  9. While the Brussels Sprouts are cooking, mix together the yogurt and lime juice together in a small bowl.
  10. Once the sprouts are cooked and plated, pour yogurt sauce over the sprouts.
  11. Enjoy!

Parenting/Life

2020 – See You Later!

It was New Years Eve 2019 , I was at a house party (remember those?) waiting to ring in 2020.  I was surrounded by friends and we had the radio going as well as the TV on, waiting for the ball to drop.  We started the countdown with the radio and when we got to “Happy New Year”, the TV timing didn’t match the radio.  So we did a second countdown.   At that moment, my friend Sabrina made a comment about how that wasn’t a good way to start the year.

If only we knew.

Not only was it the start of a new year, it was the start of a new decade.  Everyone seemed to have so many hopes and dreams for 2020 (including myself). Who would have known, the whole world would be unrecognizable a mere 365 days later.

At the beginning of 2020, after years of knowing something wasn’t quite right, I went to my doctor’s to discuss my depression and anxiety symptoms.  I had been struggling for years and although I have always been one to promote people taking control and care of their mental health, I never did it for myself.   When you’re less than a year post-partum and the words “you’re crazy” and “you will lose custody” are thrown at you from across the table, you tend to put up and shut up.  Again, another case of hindsight being 20-20.   I started medication in early January and with a few tweaks a few months later, I am finally feeling that I am in a much better headspace. I can’t even imagine how I would have done when lockdown hit without taking those steps.

Lockdown was hard for me.  I’m a social person and not one to be home all the time.  And I miss hugging people.  I miss not being able to just jump in the car and see my family whenever I choose.  (That’s been the hardest part.) But a good part that did come out of it, was reconnecting with old high school friends via Skype calls.  Some of them, I hadn’t seen or spoken to in almost 30 years.  With lockdown #2 upon us again, I am hoping for some more of these Zoom calls.

I had already been working from home for the past 3 years, so luckily in the grand scheme of things, my work was not affected.  For that I am very thankful. One less thing to worry about.

By the summer, things still weren’t even close to normal (will they ever be again?).  I usually take time to do things with the boy over the summer but the only thing we did was go on our very first camping trip together.  Just the 2 of us, for one night.  Was it perfect, no.  Was it fun, yes,  All I will say, as I am so thankful I bit the bullet and took the boy to Florida/Disney back in 2018.  Not sure if I will ever be comfortable enough again to do such a trip with huge crowds.

I don’t know if it was my body getting used to medication or the pandemic, but through it all, I definitely lost all sorts of motivation.  This is the first blog post since March.  I sat down many times trying to put something together and had a total lack of inspiration or want to post.  I had a vision for the blog for 2020, but now instead of dwelling on what I didn’t do, I will be focusing on the new year ahead and how I can make things better in this new world.

The only thing I feel like I did accomplish this year is finishing a bunch of Netflix series…..A LOT of Netflix series.  I know I am not alone on that one.  I feel like I am at the point now, that thee isn’t much left for me to even watch on there anymore.

I know everyone seems to talk like as soon as the clock strikes 12:00:01, January 1, 2021, life as we know will go back to “normal”, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.  But I think we are all hoping that instead of things going from good, to bad to worse like 2020 did, things will eventually get better.  Or I sure as heck hope they do.

We’re going into 2021 with a new way of life.  Masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing are the norm.  Multiple vaccines have been created and hopefully, the light at the end of this crazy tunnel isn’t too far away.  But as for 2020, I’ve had enough.  See ya later, peace out!

 

DIY · For Kids

Pokeball DIY for your Pokemon fans

Have Pokémon crazy kids like me? Looking for a craft to keep them busy these days with supplies you probably already have available? These pokeballs are the perfect craft.  (If you don’t have these supplies,  you can find them all at your local dollar store).

I can’t take any credit for the idea, a Mom in one of my local Facebook groups came up with the idea and allowed me to share it with you.

Pokeball Supplies:

  • Bag of balloons
  • Styrofoam balls (can also use tennis balls or those colored balls for ball pits)
  • Black electrical tape
  • White duct tape

pokeball supplies

Pokeball Instructions:

1. Cut the neck off the white balloon and stretch it over a ball.

pokeball white part

pokeball on ball
2. Cut your chosen ball top colour balloon and cut it about halfway down the balloon horizontally. Stretch that starting from the place where the white balloon starts.

pokeball bottom
3. Cut a black strip from the black tape . Wrap it around the middle.

pokeball middle
4. Cut half circles from the black tape and place over the area where the black strip meets

pokeball circle

 

5. Cut a white circle from the white tape and place in the middle of the black circle.

pokeball white circle

 

And done! Got to catch them all!

pokeball diy pokemon

Uncategorized

Maple Syrup Time In York Durham Headwaters Region

It’s everything maple starting this weekend! Bring your family out for a day at the sugar shack and see an authentic maple syrup operation. There are wagon rides, demonstrations, maple trails, pancakes, bonfires and fun for all ages.

For more information on upcoming events in York Durham Headwaters please visit – https://yorkdurhamheadwaters.ca/events/

Some recommend Maple Syrup destinations in York Durham Headwaters include:

Willowtree Farm

Weekends in March
Farm opens at 9 am
Tours to the sugar bush: 10-3 pm
First tour to the bush leaves at 10am
Last tour to the bush leave at 2:30pm
Includes:
• Wagon Ride to the Sugar Bush
• Sugar Bush Tours
• Evaporator Demos and Sap/Syrup Sampling

Bonfire and Roasted Marshmallows
Branded Tree Cookie
Pancake Breakfast!
Farm animals
Lots of Maple Products available in store and lots of sampling of delicious products!!

Willowtree Farm
975 Regional Road 21
Durham, Port Perry, Scugog (Port Perry)

 

Brooks Farms Maple Syrup Festival

Open Weekends and March Break beginning March 7, 2020 Includes:
• Train or Wagon Ride
• Self Guided & Guided Educational Tours
• Camp Fire in Sugar Bush • Colouring Station
• Maple Sugar Products
• Indoor Pancake House
• Barnyard Playland

Brooks Farms
122 Ashworth Road
Durham, Mount Albert, Uxbridge

 

Horton Tree Farm maple Syrup Festival

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 at 9 AM Ends Sunday, March 15th, 2020 at 4 PM Includes:
• sugar shack
• pancakes

Horton’s Home Farm
5924 Slaters Road
York, Stouffville, Whitchurch-Stouffville

 

Bruce’s Mill Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 at 9 AM Ends Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 at 5 PM Includes:
• Demonstrations
• wagon rides & activites
• pancakes
• Treewalk Village

Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area
3291 Stouffville Rd
York, Stouffville, Whitchurch-Stouffville

 

PC Farms Maple Syrup Festival

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 at 9 AM Ends Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 at 5 PM Includes:
• wagon rides
• taffy, pancakes and locally sourced sausages

• activities for young and old
• tours of the maple operation
• Tapping tours

• nature hikes
• Horse drawn wagon rides
• Self guided hike
• scavenger hunt
• Nature crafts and face painting

Pefferlaw Creek Farms
12300 Concession 6
Durham, Uxbridge

 

Kortright Center for Conservation/ Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 at 9:30 AM Ends Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 at 5 PM includes:
• maple taffy on the snow!
• pancakes

• wagon rides
• Demonstrations
• live entertainment
• guided twilight tour of Kortright’s maple sugar bush.

Kortright Center for Conservation
9550 Pine Valley Dr
York

 

Sunderland Maple Syrup Festival

April 4 to April 5, 2020

Includes:

  • maple syrup production
  • local farming operations
  • art shows
  • bathtub races
  • lawn tractor pulling
  • delicious food
12925 Side Rd 18, Sunderland, ON

 

CVC Terra Cotta

Saturday, March 14, 2020 – Sunday, March 22, 2020

includes:

  • syrup-making demonstrations
  • live entertainment
  • family-friendly activities
  • taffy tasting
  • pancakes
14452 Winston Churchill Blvd., Terra Cotta

 

Purple Woods Conservation Area, Maple Syrup Festival

March 13, 2020 to April 9, 2020

Includes:

  • fireside maple syrup production demonstrations
  • horse drawn wagon rides
  • games
  • crafts
  • pancakes
  • Children’s Activities
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Self-guided hikes through the sugarbush
  • Warming Station – Cedar Tea
  • Aunt Penny’s Cabin (Pioneer History)
38 Coates Rd E, Oshawa, ON L1H 7K4
Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Saying Goodbye to the February Blahs

There is the old saying that March will either come in like a lion and out like a lamb or the reverse. At this point, I really don’t care, I just want March come in so I can kick the February blahs to the curb. And of course, being a leap year, I’ve got an extra day of this stupid month.

Why was February so bad, you ask?  Let me first say it wasn’t anything dramatic or life altering, it was just a whole bunch of little annoyances that added up for me.  And historically February has always been the worst month for me.

Why? Here are just a few of the  reasons for the February blahs:

  1.  Groundhogs Day – if that rodent doesn’t predict an early spring, it’s the threat of 6 more weeks of winter
  2.  Valentines Day – a single person does not need to be constantly reminded they’re still single
  3.  Lack of Vitamin D – it’s usually still dark when I wake up and getting dark when I’m done work
  4.  Weather – it’s usually one of the coldest and grayest months of the year.
  5.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – although I have not been formally diagnosed, I suffer from many of the symptoms

I found this year particularly bad for some reason for the February blahs.  I’ve had no ambition and only made it to gym 2 times the entire month.  This has put a real damper on my training for the half marathon I am planning to run in May.  There was a total lack of creativity, hence I’ve haven’t had any blog posts this month.   I’ve been overly cranky and had very little desire to do anything I normally enjoy.  My symptoms of depression have been at an all time high.  It was to the point that I didn’t ignore it any longer that I sought help from my family doctor. (That will be a whole other blog post coming soon.) And of course, we are ending off the month with a nasty bug invading our home.  The boy had it really bad and I’m (fingers crossed) just fighting more of a cold.

I think it’s the weather in general that gets to me the most.  It’s tends to be the coldest month of the year, and the weather is often unpredictable and makes planning any sort of travel (even just across town) dodgy at best.  I’ve always gotten very anxious at the thought of driving in bad weather.  And I hate having to constantly adding 50 layers of clothes and boots and parkas just to go anywhere.  And we won’t even talk about my absolute hate for shoveling snow.

Don’t get me wrong, everything wasn’t bad this February.  Fran from The Hungry Homemaker and I launched our podcast The Sticky Table Chronicles.  We were super excited to launch this and I can’t wait to see how our vision for this project grows.  I spent good quality time with friends and had some much need full belly laughs but those February blahs just got to me.

Sure it still snows in March, and it even snows into April.  I know this because my birthday is in April and it always snows at least once after it.  But it’s just so much closer to spring, the warmer weather and we can finally shed all the bulky winter wear.

So peace out February and the February blahs, it’s been real.  I’m welcoming March with open arms.

Getting Fit

Half Marathon – Crossing It Off The Bucket List

Yes, you read it correctly, I am planning to cross running a half marathon off my bucket list this year.  Let’s be honest, it will probably be a lot of walking but you get the idea.

This isn’t a New Years resolution, it’s something I signed myself up for back at the beginning of November.  I’m just saying it out loud here and making it really “real”.

Running a half marathon is something that has been on my bucket list for years and years, but I’ve always had one excuse or another as to why I couldn’t do it.  But then last fall when it seemed like it was prime marathon season, I saw quite a few people that I know through social media taking the leap and running their first marathon and it really got me thinking about it.

I had a really good friend that passed away many years ago and the last time I ever saw him, I passed him as he was running on the side of the road training for the Toronto marathon.  At that time I remember thinking how admirable and amazing it was that after beating non-Hodgkins lymphoma early in high school, and here he was training to run another (not his first) marathon.  I think that was probably one of the moments that led me to this point.  After being so sick at one point in his life, he was given mere days to live, and here now he was running marathons.

Truth be told, a full marathon has never interested me, I’ve always only ever thought about a half.  And my hat goes off to those that run marathons time and time again.  And a half marathon at 13.1 miles (21.1 km) is no small feat in my eyes but yet a distance that I have always felt as attainable to reach with enough training and commitment.

And I know, because I’ve already gotten the reaction, that some people will take a look at me and my current size and think that I am crazy and will never be able to do it.

Am I at an ideal weight to do this? No.  Would it be a lot easier if I lost a bunch of weight?  Yes.  Do I give a sh$t about what others think?  No.  Do I want to prove them wrong? Absolutely!

I watched other runners that didn’t fit the stereotypical runner type this past year conquer half marathons and marathons better than those with you’d think could easily run a long distance race and it this pushed me even more to sign up and finally cross it off the list.

I think the tipping point for me was watching Katie Crenshaw run the New York City Marathon, who had started her training later than most people, has always been a supporter of body positivity, cross that finish line and proving all her doubters wrong.  The very next day I signed up for the half marathon.

I know I have a lot of things working against me.  I’m going to be 48 years old at the time of the race, I’m no where near the weight I would like to be and carrying all the extra weight makes it much harder on my body but I am done listening to what others think about me and doing this for myself and proving to myself that I am worthy of this adventure.

Another thing that had stopped me in the past and been the excuse I could use to justify not running was the race would fall on a weekend that I had my son.  I’d always thought it would be easier to run when I didn’t have to figure out how to have him there at the finish line.   I had a conversation with him about registering at some point for a half marathon and he abruptly told me that if I ran one and he couldn’t be at the finish line cheering me on, he’d be mad.  Cue the tears.  So luckily with the help of friends and family, when I cross that finish line with the tears streaming down my face, I will be greeted by my favorite supporter.

So there you have it.  It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and commitment, but  I hope you’ll follow along with me as I finally get to cross this item off my bucket list.