Over the years I've been asked by readers to share more personal posts, but I've actually shied away from that a little and have become more project-focused. Recently I've been asked to write posts about living in Northwestern Ontario, life on the lake, why I don't want kids, what I'm doing with my PhD, etc., but I just find it's so much more comfortable to write about projects and crafting. If I'm being honest, though, my favorite posts on the blogs I read are ones where I get to know someone better and can catch a sneak peek into someone's life. I don't know how some bloggers can bare all on the internet because even sharing something so trivial as our morning routine felt outside of my comfort zone, but this has been the nudge I needed to start incorporating more personal posts, here and there.
An Ideal Morning on the Lake
So what does our ideal morning look like? That question really ties into some big life changes we've made in the last couple of years, since moving from a city with a population of nearly a million, to a rural municipality of only a couple thousand country-lovin' folk.
Hubby and I have made it our mission to stop glorifying busy-ness, and have instead learned to live life on "lake time": when the weather is good, you enjoy it, because when you have free time it might be so foggy that the lake disappears! The weather can turn in an instant and we've been known to drop our rakes and lawn mower in the summer and hop in the lake, mid-task, for a swim - something we've learned to do after finishing our chores in time for a sudden thunderstorm! You learn to enjoy the good weather here, even if it runs contrary to your plans for the day!
We're pretty suited to "lake time" because neither Hubby nor I work a traditional 9-5 job, so our days vary wildly. Sometimes we eat breakfast together, sometimes we're apart for every meal of the day. Some mornings see us up at 3am or the crack of dawn - but don't cry for us, because sometimes we don't roll out of bed until 9. I've lamented that I wish I could be one of those people who wakes up early naturally, instead of being jolted awake by the sound of my shrieking alarm clock. But I'm the kind of person who will get a second wind at night and end up rearranging my closet at midnight, which makes sticking to a routine tricky; it's just not in my nature. I've been craving more routine, though, so I've been working on committing to some kind of schedule because I have to admit that even though my body fights my desire to be an early riser (I have turned off my alarm in my sleep!), my brain loves being up early. It's especially peaceful on the lake in the early morning and I love being awake before the sunrise - it's so invigorating!
Hubby's unusual work schedule means that we're apart more than the average couple but then there are major perks and we see each other for huge chunks of time. Because of this irregular schedule, when everyone else is fighting traffic or terrible weather, sometimes we're parked at our dining room table, watching the lake and eating a leisurely breakfast. Because we don't get to eat together every day, I savor the moments when we can be together. In the winter and spring we curl up inside, with a fire roaring, but soon we'll be having breakfast on the deck and I can't wait! In the summer we often grab our plates and head out there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
So these days, that 's my ideal morning: slow, leisurely, relaxed.
I've stopped feeling guilty about reading a magazine when the house is messy, or enjoying some quiet time when I should be busy. The lake has a calming effect that lulls us into laziness and I don't mind one bit - which is a major change for a type-A person like me!
The other day I took this video, which is pretty much the view from the dining table:
Even Szuka sweetie appreciates, and is captivated by, the lake view! She spends a lot of her day staring adorably out the window. Sometimes she's on guard, but other times I swear she's just blissed out, taking it all in.
Refined Sugar-free, Grain-Free Zucchini Brownie Recipe
Our new approach to slow(er) living has manifested itself in what we eat, too. I definitely still indulge, every now and then (mmmm, matcha shortbread!), but both Hubs and I have taken Sarah Wilson's lessons to heart and upped our daily veggies, seriously reduced our fructose intake, swapped sugar for brown rice syrup, and I've even experimented baking with coconut and almond flours. I've also started adding whey protein to baked treats (to make them more diabetic-friendly for my Dad).
There has been a lot of trial and error and my poor family has bravely eaten batch after batch of gritty, squishy, baking bombs. My experimentation has been worth it, though, because I have an arsenal of delicious, healthier treats to show for it now! Among the winners is this zucchini cake, made with wholesome ingredients like coconut flour, zucchini, shredded coconut and cocoa powder. The only hint of sweetness is from the brown rice syrup and chopped dates.
There's also some whey protein powder hidden in there and, with healthy ingredients like those listed below, I feel completely justified in eating this for breakfast once in awhile! These brownies are really filling and so moist. I'm drooling just thinking about them.
- 1/2 cup softened butter*
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 coconut flour
- 1/2 cup chopped dates (pits removed)**
- 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup shredded zucchini
- 1/4 cup whey protein (unsweetened, unflavored)
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
*This recipe would definitely work with only 1/4 cup butter or with a healthier substitute, like coconut oil.
**In her breakdown of sweeteners, Sarah Wilson highlights which "natural" and "healthier" sugar substitutes - like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar - actually have almost, if not as much, fructose as plain old white table sugar. She singles out dates as well, because they contain nearly 30% fructose. BUT, dates are high in fiber (which promotes digestion and heart health), magnesium (a natural anti-inflammatory), selenium, and potassium so I feel slightly less concerned about tossing them into this brownie recipe. There's only a 1/2 cup in this entire recipe but if you're really concerned about the sugar intake, you could cut back on the dates and this would still be a tasty treat.
Kitchen Accoutrements (I wasn't asked to provide Wayfair links but I couldn't resist because there are some cute kitchen gadgets available):
- Flour sifter (this is the one I have)
- 8" square baking pan or even a larger loaf pan (teal!), or just double the recipe for an excuse to buy this 9 by 13 aqua Kobenstyle I've been lusting after. I use a mint green jadeite one, but this clear glass Anchor Hocking pan is really similar - I really like baking in glass.
- Grater (this green grater is SO pretty!)
- Oven mitts (I need these in my life)
- Mixing bowls (these vintage Pyrex-inspired ones are perfection - so many Pyrex collectors I know through Instagram have bought them)
- Sift the protein powder, cocoa powder, coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt, and set aside - don't skip this step because it keeps the protein powder and coconut flour from globbing together into lumps
- Beat the butter and brown rice syrup with a hand mixer until creamy
- Whisk in the eggs and vanilla
- Gently stir in the sifted dry ingredients, combining thoroughly
- Mix in the shredded coconut, dates and zucchini until well combined
- Spread batter into a greased, 8" x 8" pan
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes
- Let cool 5-10 minutes
So that's a little sneak peek into our life on the lake. It's not terribly riveting, but that's exactly how we like it!
Thanks to Wayfair for sponsoring this post. I was not required to link to any products or try to sell you anything at all (although I did decide to link to a few cute products to help bake the recipe I've included). I'm so thrilled to partner with such a great brand that has a special place in my heart now that they ship to Canadians, too!