It’s Never Too Late to Become a Hockey Fan!

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If you’ve grown up in Canada like I have you’ve been exposed to hockey in some way, to say hockey is a religion in Canada is not an understatement. From as far back as I can remember I’ve always watched playoff games. I’ve witnessed the excitement and passion Canadians have for these high-octane, adrenaline filled finals, especially if a Canadian team has made the playoffs.

Most people that know me would be surprised that I have a new-found love for hockey. In the last year and a half I have become incredibly fascinated with the sport. I’ll admit watching the first two seasons of Hockey Wives helped! I became interested in their lives and what goes into becoming a star player, including their grueling schedule. I witnessed the ups and downs of the lifestyle and how psychology plays a huge role in their game. I’ve enjoyed learning about the players off-ice discipline and was surprised to learn about all of their pre-game rituals and superstitions.

Watching the wives on the show led me to looking up many of the players online and studying their bio’s. When my husband realized this interest was developing he would say “the game we’re watching tonight has one of the wive’s husbands on it.” Then of course, I could relate! Sometime last year in the spring he realized how into it I had gotten when he started my car and my radio had been stopped on AM 590 (yes AM!). This was as “un-Julie,” as I could get! In saying that, I’ll explain, I’ve always had a wide range of interests, I wouldn’t ever want anyone to stereotype me, but this new interest went beyond. As far as he knew organized sports weren’t my thing, unless of course it was through a more patriotic ‘Canadian,’ lense when the playoffs were on. I had never spent any time learning all of the intricacies, politics and history of the game. My response to my radio choice was “I had a long drive home, my free Sirius radio subscription ended and I got drawn in…but why don’t they talk more about hockey…they are so focused on Bautista!” I’m a person when I latch onto something I’m interested in I want to know as much as possible about it, and because this was so out of my wheelhouse, it was a huge learning curve that I found really fulfilling.

I’ve progressed even more, and a lot has changed since then. Now I’m told by my husband I’m a real fan. I’ve read the odd story of a favorite player on Sportsnet and have since asked millions of questions. We PVR the games so if we are out one night, I don’t miss an important game and of course this helps so I can hit ‘pause,’ to ask questions. It was funny one night when I was freaking out that Carey Price (my favorite) was (what I thought) randomly leaving the net in the middle of the game. I was thinking…is he hurt? Why is he leaving? No one blew a whistle…whats going on? That was the night I learned all about delayed penalties. I’ve learned all about the pre and post lockout rule changes, icing, and offside plays. I have started having opinions on great hockey debates such as to change the ‘size of the net,’ vs. ‘goalie pads,’ the player “size vs. skill,” debate and whether NHL players should go to the Olympics. My husband thought it was funny when in January I wanted to start a pool, knowing its something you do before the season. I decided I had never been a part of one and it would be fun so I designed one. The winner makes the other dinner! He’s happy to go along with how serious I take it because he feeds off of my rookie-fan enthusiasm and thinks it’s hilarious! I have my 12 forwards, 6 defense players, and 2 goalies all picked out. After tallying recently, I’m winning by 30 points!

I love hockey for so many reasons. I love watching the underdog of any game shine in unforeseen moments of greatness. I love watching the facial expressions of the coaches and players when the camera cuts to them in precarious situations, I love the excitement of any game and competitive nature. I love to watch teammates treat each other like family, look out for rookies and protect their goalies. I love that there is a line of respect, carved out over decades that cuts through even the toughest of games. There are unspoken and unwritten rules that veteran and seasoned players have come to know. When a line is crossed a quick check into the boards or a verbal reminder ensures those rules and ‘knowns,’ are protected and immortalized. Traditions are valued and upheld while new notions of play are welcomed. When you watch hockey it’s a great metaphor for what I believe in. I love having traditions to look forward to all while being open to new ideas and the changes that will allow me to grow.

I can’t ever fast forward the anthem-that’s the best part. The looks on the players faces, imagining how loud a Canadian arena gets when the crowd sings along (pretty sure it’s the loudest in Montreal). I just enjoy the patriotic start as a reminder of what the game means to teams, fans, cities and countries.

I’ve only been to 3 games in my life, all in Toronto. Now it helps to actually know who the players are and a bit more about the game. It makes the experience all the more valuable.

Hockey Night in Canada


Going early is a must to see the players up close! Auston Matthews!!!


Tons of entertainment between periods, the whole experience is so much fun from start to finish!

I’m still a fan in training but am surprised by my own obsession over the game.  It’s so rewarding and empowering when you open your mind and push yourself to develop new interests.

Hope this inspires you to explore something new!

Lv, Julie ♥

P.S. There were two articles that I looked up when I started this journey and they really enforced my new found love of the game. One that you can read here was “Breaking barriers all in a day’s work for Maple Leafs’ Soshnikov.” Its all about rookie player Nikita Soshnikov, who came from Russia to join one of Canada’s beloved teams. The other article which can be read here is “Seven more years of Jagr? He thinks he can do it.” It details how Florida Panthers Jaromir Jagr, a legend of a hockey player, wants to play to the age of 50. Both articles look past the locker room and into the lives of players, hooking you into the story of their struggles, work ethic and determination to succeed.

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Cauliflower Topped Shepherd’s Pie

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I’ve been experimenting with unique ways to use vegetables for the past year. Just searching on Pinterest, I’ve found so many ways to use cauliflower! It can be used as a main ingredient in homemade taco shells or a pizza crust as well as treating it as a substitute for rice recipes! Using vegetables differently is a great way to replace routine meals with gluten-free or carbohydrate reduced options. I’ve tried using julienned zucchini or baked spaghetti squash to replace pasta in many dishes. Vegetables can be so versatile and mimic other foods in a healthier way when you add the right spices.

Last night I experimented and made a really awesome shepherd’s pie using puréed cauliflower to replace the traditional whipped potato topping. It turned out amazing! The potato wasn’t missed at all and I was surprised how smooth the cauliflower got in the food processor! Not only did it look like whipped potatoes, it had lots of flavor and you didn’t miss the potato at all. I also put a spin on the dish by adding a few new spices to my standard recipe to see how it would turn out. It was so fantastic I decided the recipe must go up on the blog!


Cauliflower Topped Shepherd’s Pie



Puréed Cauliflower Topping:

1 head of cauliflower

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

2 tablespoons of milk

pinch of cinnamon

salt & pepper to taste

Pie Filling:

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

1 medium chopped red onion

2 cups thinly chopped carrots

2 cups sliced celery

1 teaspoon salt, divided (I use pink himalayan salt)

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 pound lean ground beef or lean ground turkey

1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

3/4 cup chicken stock (I use 1 Knorr 25% less salt packet)

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

¼ cup tomato paste

1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)

1 teaspoon thyme



Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Puréed Cauliflower Topping:

Place cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very soft, 15 minutes.

Put cauliflower and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the milk, coconut oil, cinnamon & salt and pepper. Pulse a few more times and then blend until cauliflower mixture is smooth (like the consistency of whipped potatoes!) Transfer to a mixing bowl, give a good mix and set aside.

*note: adjust milk & coconut oil amounts accordingly, heads of cauliflower vary in size depending on the season, you want the same consistency of whipped potatoes!

Pie Filling:

Add oil to a large sauté pan over low-medium high heat.  First add carrots and cook for 4 minutes. Then add celery and onion and cook for 3 more minutes. Add half the salt & pepper and cook until carrots are slightly softened (they will cook more in the oven) Add garlic and cook for another minute.

Put the vegetable mixture into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Using the same pan add ground meat and sauté on medium heat until cooked, breaking it into small pieces as you go. Add the fennel seeds and the remainder of the salt & pepper and cook for 1 minute longer or until the fennel becomes fragrant.

Add the vegetable mixture back to the meat mixture in the sauté pan.

Add in the peas, chicken broth, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and thyme. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring every now and again for a few minutes until mixture thickens.

Transfer the pie filling to a large casserole dish. Spoon the pureed cauliflower evenly in dollops over the top of the dish. Take a spatula to smooth the puree evenly and smoothly over the top. Sprinkle with a bit of freshly grated pepper and salt.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the edges of the pureed cauliflower are golden. Set the pie out to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Add a bit of water instead of more coconut oil if the vegetables start to stick!


Try using different vegetables, if you have leftovers in the fridge!


This cauliflower looks like whipped potatoes to me!


Serve with a little side salad!


Dinner is served!

I hope you enjoy this dish! It’s a great winter staple and I’m going to make one with ground turkey next week!

Lv, Julie ♥

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Juice Cleanse

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I’ve always liked January. It’s a month where anything seems possible for the year ahead and you can focus on the steps to making your dreams a reality. It’s a month dedicated to renewal, goals and hitting the reset button. I always think of a few things I would like to accomplish in the year. I think of places I would like to see, changes I would like to make to my house or things I would like to do. This year I started with a focus on meditation, you can see the post here. While I was researching all things meditation I listened to a podcast about meditation by the founder of a juice bar, Raw Republic in New Orleans. This inspired me to do a juice cleanse. I just completed a 5-day cleanse and feel awesome, it really does what everyone says it will and my skin is looking so much better than it did before!

I live in a small town so I found a company that happens to ship fresh cold-pressed juices all across Canada! Total Cleanse is based out of Toronto and has an amazing user-friendly website. Their juices are sooooo fresh and come in cute containers with numbered lids which makes it super easy to follow!



In addition to selling juices in their 2 Toronto locations, they are also sold in select Shoppers Drug Mart stores and Vince’s grocery stores so if ever I wanted to pick up a few when I am out and about, I could! The system I chose was a ‘purify,’ cleanse for 5 days which is one of the more intense programs. I really felt if I was going to try it, I might as well really try it!


With this program there were 2 shipments just to ensure the freshness of the juice as they have a shelf life of 4 days.


I’m feeling great right now and am glad to have tried something I’ve heard so many people talk about for so long. What an amazing kick-start to a new year!

Happy 2017!

Lv, Julie ♥

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I’m Giving Meditation Another Try!

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A very old photo of ‘my happy place,’ a lake I spent a lot of time at in my childhood!

It’s the new year and I love January! It’s a chance to start over and try new things. I love my holiday decorations but feel so refreshed when they are all away. The house looks clean and simple and is a reminder of new beginnings. This January I decided to give meditation another chance. I have tried it a few times but never made it a routine. I haven’t taken the time to properly research why I always felt I wasn’t doing it ‘the right way.’ I’ll explain what brought me to this decision as it’s important to understand the ‘why.’ I’ve always enjoyed anything that could improve a persons mental health. I most likely gave up on meditation because I wasn’t ready to let it into my life. I always feel a person needs to do new things when they are ready, forcing something never works and leaves you feeling disappointed in yourself. Any time I have worked on my mind and pushed myself on the inside, the benefits have helped me gain confidence, self-esteem and feel truly empowered.

I was listening to a guest on a podcast this week who was discussing meditation. It was Sheena Mannina, the founder of a juice bar in New Orleans, Raw Republic. Something struck a chord, in particular hearing her discuss how one really needs to give meditation a chance, a solid one week try to fully feel the results. Everything Sheena said made sense. I probably gave up in the past because as with most new things, I didn’t see an immediate result. Clearing your mind and truly focusing cannot be achieved in one 20 minute session. I was also intrigued by a 10 day meditation retreat she went on where you are not to speak (at all) for the entire time! I researched this and found out it was called ‘Vipassana Mediation.’ Continuing to read up on this intense form of meditation further solidified that I really wanted to try it out on a smaller scale.

To start I got out my iPhone and downloaded a few meditation apps to try out. Having a good app I am used to opens up the ability to meditate anywhere I am. I could do it on vacation, anywhere in the house and outside. I had read all about creating a quiet space so I felt the best way to achieve true calm was to use the headphones my phone came with (I had never used them and now love them for so many things). This really created a perfectly quiet atmosphere to begin.

A lot of apps use a guided meditation method which is great for beginners. One app I didn’t like was using a bit too much ‘guiding,’ for me. In this particular app you could choose specific meditation sessions such as ‘ family stress,’ or ‘holiday stress.’ The person talking on the app would say pointed comments to guide you that just opened up a whole memory bank of issues that I wasn’t into digging up. I prefer the guiding to be more open ended so I can insert any problems I may be having at the moment to work through.

I found an app I love called ‘Take a Break.’ It is free, simple, and just really spoke to me. There are controls to change the volume of both the person talking and the background music so you can adjust it to your preference. After a few sessions I didn’t want to hear the person as strongly as the calming music since I had gotten the hang of it. You can also set the music to loop so that after the person is through their guiding session you can do your own unguided mediation or just spend a few moments relaxing.

Downloading ‘Take a Break,’ in the app store. Its so simple to use!


Screenshot of the app in use

I’ve really enjoyed it so far and have done it all this week. I’m starting to see the benefits and am going to keep it up just to explore all the positive results it can have. As with anything new, I’ve found you have to make it your own, so that it works for you. One day I mediated three times for just a few minutes each because it was so relaxing and I had a few interruptions. I don’t worry about how much time I devote to it, some days I did only ten minutes, right now I’m just focused on doing it every day.

Thanks for reading and hope something in here inspired you!

Lv, Julie ♥

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