Oh,yes…it’s fall…

Butternut & buttercup squash soup

This recipe yields 2 1 litre jars. So perhaps 1 squash = 1 jar…

It is fall and the squash are all over the place- harvest time!!

So today’s adventures:


Yeah, this is classic and simple so not a lot of photos! And I did not weigh the squash so you can just judge the amounts for your own liking.

1-Chop half a white onion and 2 scallions into small chunks. Toss into a large pot.

2-Sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil, along with 1 teaspoon each( more if you like) of ginger and coriander powder.

3- While that’s cooking, stir occasionally and peel and chop 2 squash ( smallish); add the chunks as you go.

4- Sauté the squash as you continue peeling and chopping- you can multitask right?

5- Let sauté for a few minutes after you get the last chunks in.

6- Add water to just cover the veggies; bring to a boil and turn down heat to simmer until tender.

7-Purée by your method of choice- I transferred the soup into a large stainless steel bowl and used an immersion blender.

8- Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.



Soon – apple adventures! Yummy Macintosh Apples from my “Maternal Back Home”, and by fluke or how small Ottawa is, my hubby’s “Paternal back home”!

Thanks Ottawa for the greenspaces – they are important…

This morning, my weekly newsletter was a bit later than I had intended as I apparently needed an extra long walkabout in my nearby parks.

IMG_8854My life is such that during the spring and summer, I do not get as much time outside as other folk might, and the fall brings me renewed freedom to get out and enjoy the parks and pathways near my home.

I live in the heart of the city, maybe the right ventricle for folks who consider centre town to be the “heart – I’ll give them the left ventricle.  The Byward Market/ Lowertown area is full of character and a mix of old and new housing, families that have lived here for generations, gardens that are overrun with weeds and gardens that  are tended with love and artistic beauty.  And parks. and the Rideau River, as well as the connection to the Ottawa River, where water cascades over a small waterfall.

I grew up in a small town and I find this area of Ottawa to replicate that experience. There is a comfort in living here. I know many of our long-time neighbours, and we see many transitory folks as they come through for the school year, and if they are “trouble”, they don’t stay for long. “Trouble” is defined as requiring phone calls to 911 – otherwise, they might party  bit here and there, but in general, keep to themselves.

IMG_8389Back to the greenspaces – What blessings they are. We have our own park less than 2 blocks away, and it connects to 3 other parks with either fairly clear pathways or a little bit of “city walking” over a coupe of bridges.  The sound of leaves rustling, while the sunlight is glistening on the water, that kind of thing just refreshes the soul.

And I know there are many other areas in Ottawa that have similar blessings, so thank you, City of Ottawa/ NCC – keep our greenspaces alive for us, as they are a much needed balm for the stress and wackiness of life.

And It’s September – time to get dancing again!

Yes, thanks, I have a wonderful holiday!  And now it’s time tog et back to work with both my sewing and dancing!

Have you signed up yet for your class of choice?  If not, please head over to my Schedule page and find one that works for you! I’m mainly offering belly dance through the City of Ottawa and Bellywood is being offered privately through me!

And register – details are with each class!!

Pushy, eh?

Well, I know I want to get creating some new fun stuff and I need lovely dancers to play with, so I hope to see you in a couple of weeks!

Some of my recent students in action!

Some of my recent students in action!


Vacation time for Halyma!

See ya in September…

The nose of the canoe

The nose of the canoe on Whitefish lake in Algonquin Park

So what happens now?

I’m going to be offline for most of August – only occasionally popping on the make sure the universe has not exploded – but really, I’ll be relaxing and not too concerned.

For you:
Check out the Dancers’ News – there are only a few events listed at the moment, but – it’s got info about other teachers, restaurants with performers and more.

My classes start September 15th: I’ll be teaching evenings this September through the City of Ottawa at the Routhier CC and Sandy Hill CC, as well as running my Private Playtime Adventures for more experienced students.  Registration starts for the Ottawa.ca classes August 12 at 9 p.m. online, and for my private classes – you can contact me and let me know you are interested – we’ll connect in September.

In the meantime – have a lovely August!


And - just showing off: my new Logo for Halyma's Belly Dancing For Fun

Sprocket therapy

Vacation approaches, last summer performance for me – but September is coming soon.

Just looked at this week’s forecast – it’s gonna be a bit warm.
I’ll be working steadily on a variety of client pieces, both in my home studio as well as at my part time job. And the A/C will be running < sorry environment>…

Later today I’ll be out at Kites4Cancer with dancers from my two fave dance groups – Bollywood For Fun and Bellydancing For Fun/ BellywoodRaks


And I just realized that although my lovely dance colleagues at Bollywood For Fun will be participating in the Festival of India on August 8, teaching a workshop, as well as performing in the South Asian Festival on August 15th as part of  the cultural presentations, I will be off on holidays, taking some time to relax and recharge before September.

And September is coming – barring any Armageddon activities – and I’ll be back to teaching classes, still sewing up a bridal storm and performing again with the great ladies I dance and play with.

So, if you happen to be in Orleans today – come on out at around 3 p.m. and help stave off any rain by thinking dry thoughts!

Analogies from a counsellor…#personaltime


Many people I know, myself included, are engaged in a journey of trying to improve our mental health.  Anxiety has become a more prominent adventure in my world over the past 3 years or so, with side benefits of panic attacks, moments of lethargy and awareness of aging and hormonal changes and realizations that I write run-on sentences.

Thankfully, after the 3rd annual physical where I asked my doctor about how to deal with these feelings of anxiety that were manifesting into physical reactions < heart pounding, every molecule in my body tingling, and other experiences> she finally stopped telling me to “Go for a run.” and let me know that the clinic I belong to offers a limited number of free counselling sessions.

“Would talking about it help?”

Uh, yes… that’s why I keep talking about it with you when I come in here..

“Did you know we offer free counselling?”

NO, you never told me that.

” Would you like me to set that up?’

YEESSS … <*FFS!*, my brain emits loudly into the silence  >

So.  The poor counsellor.

She’s a very quiet woman, who is trying to figure out how to get me to understand what I am doing to myself and why I have to stop.

I’m going to the sessions because I want help, so I am trying to help her figure this shit out so that she can give me some guidance.

And this week she tried 3 analogies, of which the first one was totally blown out of the water by my programming.

“If you had an employee, would you make them work straight through without taking a break?”

Well..  that depends.  If we are on a deadline for a client and have to get the work done, yes. I might get them pizza, but I’ve been there and worked 24 hours x multiple days a few times over the years. You do what you have to to meet the deadline and get things done. 

She looks at me.


“Okay, then maybe you need to look at this like a marathon… You cannot keep running at full pace the whole time and expect to finish. Maybe the reward is to finish…”

A light went on, I added, in my head,  ah, ok – without collapsing and vomiting…  

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 7.57.54 AMPlease note: I’ve never run more than a block or two, so I do not actually know from personal experience how hard a marathon is, but I can live vicariously through others and have seen the good and bad results of folks running marathons. Those who finish after pacing themselves, pushing when they need to, but keeping Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.00.46 AMthemselves hydrated and taking care as they go, those folks may still collapse at the end, but the results seem much more positive than the ones lying in pain on the side of the course having pushed too hard.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.01.59 AM” And maybe, think about stoplights. when things are green, you can good to keep going. When things turn yellow, you need to consider slowing down. and if you don’t slow down enough, if you run through those red lights, there’s a chance you’ll get hurt.” < I’m paraphrasing, but this is pretty much what I got from her.>

Okay – I can work with that too. Slowing down before I run a red light and crash, that kind of makes sense…

And reading…and researching… and keeping it together when I have to, and stepping back and retreating before I crash – that’s in the works.

Anxiety and Phobia workbook One of the books she suggested I get, has a section that talks about how much downtime we all should be taking:

1 hour per day

1 day per week

1 week every 3 months

and there might be more, but my brain stopped at 1 week every 3 months – who can afford to do that? With bills to pay and client deadlines to meet, how can anyone take that much time off??

And yes, my hubby and I take 3 weeks in August every year, so I guess that’s almost the same, but we schedule for it for months, making sure our clients know and our work is up to date and done as needed. And yet, the thought of scheduling in a week off every 3 months through the rest of the year, that’s a hard one.


So, I picked the 1 day off a week as my goal.  I call it my “Zero-People Day”.  For me, that means: no clients, no social engagements, internet only if I “feel” like it, but no business replies, fun/ creative/silly stuff only.  And I try to take time with the family that day, but big commitments are off the table.

And I felt guilty.

and I felt like it was wrong.  Wait…what?

Why do I not deserve a day off? What’s that about?  Ah, well, this is why I’m getting help.  So I started to look forward to my zeropeopleday with growing personal permission to do what I needed to do that day, for me.  Yes, work was still there and waiting, but it will always be there, so I just needed to manage my time when I was in work mode to allow myself that break and reduce those negative feelings.

And then the universe chose to test me – as it always does…

For 3 weeks I had to give up my Zero People Day to work. Crisis deadlines and this being my busy season, all call into play extenuating circumstances and there it went. I still had a day off here and there, but those days off were filled with social commitments and other pre-booked events that were fun, but I still had to be “on”.

I reclaimed it on Thursday July 2nd and was amazed at how I had returned to feeling guilty and awkward and undeserving again – after only 3 weeks of being in crisis mode!


So… obviously, I have some issues.

We all do, I’m not the only one, and on a scale, if I was comparing my problems to others I know, my problems are pretty low. I am relatively healthy physically, and have many good people around me that are very supportive – and I try to avoid burdening folks with this stuff, but I thought it was time to talk about it a little bit – maybe the stuff I’ve been told will help others.

Other things my counsellor has suggested:

http://selfcompassion.org – treating ourselves as we would treat a friend < uh, that one did not resonate as well for me as it could have>

http://www.mindfulselfcompassion.org/meditations_downloads.php – this one I am still working through the downloads…

So, there it is. I’m still having days where I need to step back and take time to cocoon < yesterday after work was one of those>.  And I know there are more changes ahead as I approach/ enter into a new age of my physical development as a woman.  But I’ve been angry for years so I’m not sure how different some aspects of it will be… we’ll see.

Anyway – back to your regularly scheduled programming now:

Sprocket therapy

Vegan meringues

Father’s Day 2015.

A brief moment in conversation has the Sis-in-law erupting into a raving review of chickpea whipped cream.

Seriously raving. lunatic even…sorry JKL, I think your eyes were glowing slightly…

But today, I am making a slow cooker casserole and using a can of mixed beans – see photos – and decided to give it a try.

The first place I checked out was via Pinterest and Chocolatecoveredkatie.com as a starting point.

Again a bit of raving there too… but ya know…foodies… :-)

She had made a reference to people baking the mixture into meringues, so I thought, “Hey, that sounds good.”…hmm…talking to myself…yeah…

I had to check on baking time and temperature, so I checked out Alittleinsanity.com  as it seemed like a good way of maintaining continuity.  

And yes, lovely vegan meringues pictured there are super inspiring.  I don’t have silpat mats for my cookie sheets and I cannot be bothered to set up the piping bag and decorative tubes I do have, so spooning it onto paper bag cookies sheet liners works for me.

So… the concept:

Drain the liquid from your can of beans into your mixing bowl and start mixing on high and whip/ beat until you get stiff peaks like you would with egg whites.

This stiffness comes after about 10 minutes.

Add sweetener to taste. I started with about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and added another tablespoon of honey for the white ones. 

I then added 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 1/2 tsp vanilla for the brown ones.  They are still baking, I am afraid to look – but I will and will add that photo later.

At this point, you can stop and just use this whipped frothy wackiness as a topping for whatever you want.  Strawberries, cake, your spoon, your fave person – whatever…

Or you can dollop them out and bake them to make crunchy little bits of yum.

Yeah… the insanity is pervasive.

Freakin’ canned chick pea juice has a use! 

UPDATE: don’t try baking the mixture once you add cocoa. It totally lost it’s shape and was not salvageable. So just use it as whipped topping if you add flavourings. No pics – too horrible for you to witness…