“Try to pause each day and take a walk to view nature.”
I declared one of my day’s off a Mental Health Day this week. No social media, no mundane house chores, no worrying about my to-do list. This is what I did instead.
9:30 am – Woke up and took my time to stretch out in bed, have a snuggle with my kitties and see what the weather was doing… ahh yes, rain, again.
9:45 am – My daily ritual: 1/2 the juice of a fresh lemon into a full glass of water. I take this with me and sip it while I started the shower.
10:00 am – Long leisurely shower and meditation. I love being in water and having this moment of uninterrupted quiet is the perfect place, I find, to empty the mind and focus on deep breathing.
10:30 am – Playing with makeup time. It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m going to see anyone or not; doing my makeup is my time to be creative. Like a painter, I choose the colour scheme and theme. I did my skincare and makeup for the next hour and felt zero guilt.
After dressing I made myself my daily smoothy: 1 cup of Almond Milk, 1 frozen banana, 2 scoops of steel cut oats, a pinch on cinnamon, a scoop of hemp protein powder, a dash of raw cocoa powder and a Tablespoon of almond butter. Packed in my to-go mug, I ventured out for a walk in the nearby woods.
I always have this silly smile on my face when I get to the trees. I don’t know what it is but I almost can’t control it. The entire time I’m in the forest, I smile.
I almost couldn’t contain my excitement when I came across a huge lilac tree in full bloom. I picked about 5 flowers for a bouquet. I love the scent of Lilacs. When I was a child we had a lilac tree in my backyard and the pungent sweet fragrance against the ozone in the air in the forest from the rain, brought me right back to being 7 years old.
2:00 pm – Back at home I placed the lilacs in a vase and displayed them in the centre of the dinning room table then put my apron on and started prepping either a very late lunch or early dinner. After sleeping in and having a late breakfast, I’d only need one more meal for the day.
I pulled out my White Water Cooks cookbook, a gift my husband bought me in the BC Ferries Passages Gift shop.
With Whisky on the Rocks by The Flax playing in the kitchen, I donned my apron and made
BROWN BUTTER SCALLOP RISOTTO – With Garlicky Kale and Crispy Sage Leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup Parmesan salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 cups kale or spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
4 tbsp butter
12 sage leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Lemon sliced
1 lb large scallops salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Place the chicken stock in a saucepan and heat until just barely simmering.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large non-stick pan or wok.
Add the garlic and shallot and sauté for a minute or two until soft.
Add rice and stir until coated with the butter.
Add the white wine and let it sizzle for a bit. Stir until absorbed into the rice.
Ladle in the warm chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, and cook over a lively simmer, stirring after each addition until absorbed into the rice.
Continue until the rice is soft and creamy, but al dente.
Add more stock if you like your risotto creamier.
Turn off the heat.
Add the Parmesan and mix until combined.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and cover.
Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute until a bit crispy.
Add the kale or spinach and cook until wilted. Squeeze fresh lemon juice overtop before serving.
Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until golden and foamy. about 5 minutes.
Turn off heat.
Sauté whole sage leaves in olive oil until just crisp, about 30 seconds.
Drain on paper towels.
Pat the scallops dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high until hot.
Add scallops and cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and opaque in the centre.
Transfer to a plate and cover gently until needed.
Divide risotto among four bowls or plates.
Place a slice of lemon topped with Scallops and Kale on the side and drizzle with the brown butter.
Garnish with crispy sage leaves. I used some flower tops from my garden chives to give the dish colour too.
I realize for many, cooking will NOT be on the list during a day off but I find it so relaxing and cozy to cook (I also like eating really good food lol). The table set with candles and my finest Tuscan Dish-ware we sat and enjoyed our meal. My husband left for his baseball game which meant the house to myself for the rest of the evening.
After my husband left I did something I rarely do: I lay on the couch surrounded by pillows and soft blankets and flipped through my coffee table books. The sun came out late afternoon for a bit and the home filled with soft sun beams. I had the TV on to Youtube and was playing a soundtrack with images of the town of Hobbiton (from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies). I got totally sucked into the video, strolling amongst the Hobbit homes, gardens, scenes of the beautiful New Zealand countryside, what a dream to live in a land like the Shire don’t you think?
We did have a family birthday the next day so I set up all my tools and gave myself a manicure using Essie’s Clam Bake (click link to purchase). I like a classic short red nail.
After the sun set I ran a bath and added a few drops of Rosewood and Frankincense essential oils. I did a guided meditation while submerged in warm water. A meditation to meet a Shaman in the Amazon Jungle…lost in my imagination I walked amongst towering mahogany trees and was met by an old Shaman at the edge of the river who took me to a hut for a healing ceremony.
I could not have made a better choice then to take this day for myself – My mood was calm and contented as I fell into a deep sleep. I had been experiencing frozen shoulder pain throughout the week; I didn’t feel any pain during this entire day, all my muscle tension melted away from being in nature, moving slowly and enjoying activities that bring me joy.
I highly recommend you do the same even if for a couple of hours. Turn your phone off, disconnect from the world (no social media, no news) and just be. This is how life is meant to be lived, I truly believe this. We weren’t made to live in fast moving, competitive societies. I feel this is what has created depression and anxiety in people (like myself) who are sensitive to noise and thrive in a slower paced lifestyle.
Be kind and gift yourself a Mental Health Day.
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