Sober October Recap, Pumkin Spice and Other News
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Autumn. A time of self-reflexion and changes. Uh. I am not sure what I am talking about. Anyhow - the blog is undergoing some renovation. Change is good. You see, I am currently studying association management. It’s like traditional management studies, but with a focus on not-for-profit organizations. This week’s reading focuses on strategic thinking, and how innovation should be encouraged and nurtured within an organization. An organization cannot grow without innovation. An organization averse to change will never seek to improve, and thus, will never reach its mission.
It would be such a waste if I were not to apply what I learn. Thus why The Curious Métisse is evolving. The blog grows alongside me. It adapts, refines its message and becomes more… well, me.
Firstly, for those following me on Instragram, you will already know that I am in the process of developing a French version of The Curious Métisse. It was about time. French is an integral part of me. French is my mother tongue and still to this day the language I am most comfortable in. Also, despite the fact that many people now understand and read English, it is a pity that I do not promote the French language and its use on the web. The content will be the same both in English and French, at least for now. We will see if that changes over time.
I have over 35 posts to translate as of today, so bear with me while I work on those. I am hoping to go live in a couple of weeks. To read my blog posts in French, hover your mouse over “Blog” and follow “Le Coin Francophone”.
In addition, I have shuffled the blog categories.
Race, People & Society is still here, and this is the category that has the most articles to date. Posts focus mainly on racism, discrimination and other societal issues. This section also contains more personal items. It's also where you'll find books and musical recommendations - but mostly books. A new category is appearing and replaces Culture Club: Life Hacks. See you there for everything related to healthy living, recipes, workouts and personal care. I will fill it more over time. Finally, we have Travel, the other new baby. Travel is a collection of city guides of places I have visited so far. It reminds me of good times as I try to save money to, hopefully, buy a house someday. LOL.
Sober October Recap
I know October is technically not over, but I still reached my goals: four full weeks without alcohol or weed. I am not a heavy smoker, so the non-smoking part was not that big of a deal. Alcohol though was another story entirely. I can’t remember the last time I spent four weeks without a drink. It was probably before I turned 16. Before you start judging me, please be aware I am European. What can I say? We like to drink!
I used to smoke semi-regularly, but always in small amounts. Between drinking and smoking, smoking is clearly healthier. Yes, I said it! You know it’s true. Marijuana has some medical benefits, but I would mostly say it helps alleviate anxiety and reduce stress. Too much smoking though can still have an impact on your overall health. In my case, I always struggled with food. The munchies were uncontrollable. It would be one of two extremes: either I would eat gigantic amounts of food during very short periods of time, or I would not eat at all. Sometimes just the thought of food would make me nauseous.
On top of that, I would drink almost everyday. I am not proud to say it, but that’s the truth. It was usually one glass of red wine or a can of IPA beer. It wouldn’t make me drunk, or even tipsy, but it had become a habit. Including going to bars every once in a while, I was constantly going over my monthly drinking budget of $100. Albeit more expensive than in Europe, this remains a significant amount of money.
How do I feel now that it’s over, and what have I learned from the experience?
Going sober had the impact I expected, but I didn’t think it would be that sudden. Firstly, it only took me a few days to get back into a healthy sleeping routine. My dreams came back almost instantly - marijuana usually suppresses REM sleep cycles, which is the period during which you dream - and were incredibly vivid for the first week or so. I am prone to nightmares, and always have been. It was quite a problem for me growing up. Those came back too. I found out what is most important to ensure a good night sleep is exercise.
That brings me to the second change I noticed fairly quickly. For the last three months or so, I have started paying more attention to my workout routine and incorporated weights lifting. I knew I was developing muscles as I grew increasingly stronger, but my body did not change much during the first couple of months. Well, as soon as I quit smoking and drinking, my overall caloric intake dropped drastically. Within a couple of weeks, I shed a considerable amount of body fat. Abs magically appeared. My cellulite receded. You get the picture. I was getting fit and it was finally showing.
This benefit of going sober has made me the happiest. Seeing results has encouraged me to hit the gym more often and to lift heavier weights. I feel confident and strong. I finally found a way to overcome my laziness and to push myself.
In addition, I have saved a significant amount of money, and I notice it now that the end of the month is just around the corner. Alcohol and weed are all fun, but after a while, it does seem like a waste of money. I guess as a teenager, and then as a student, spendings matter less. Now I care a whole bunch about where I spend my money.
Overall, I have been feeling great. I have more energy. I am more proactive and procrastinate a lot less. I tick things off my to-do list and it makes me feel accomplished - yes, even if that’s something as simple as deep cleaning my apartment.
Going sober was challenging, but not impossible. I would crave a drink from time to time, particularly when boredom hits. I was also deeply aware of how much other people drink. My social media feeds are filled with people drinking. Overall though, time just went by.
Now what? Well, time will tell, but at the moment, I am not in a hurry to go back to drinking and smoking. I have had a few drinks already, and a joint, but it hasn’t been the greatest experience. The hangover, binge eating, and money wasted kinda ruined the experience. I think my goal is going to be moderation. To enjoy drinking and smoking on special occasions instead of on a regular basis. If I could cut my drinking budget to $50 a month, that’d make me the happiest gal.
A couple of weeks ago, I made my first EVER pumpkin pie. It felt like the perfect time as the whole country enjoyed the day off for Canadian Thanksgiving. As my household is only composed of two people, there was no point for me to start baking a turkey. But pie, oh pie, that I could do! It was the perfect dessert to enjoy all week long.
I adapted the recipe from Simply Recipes. I do not own a robot, or even a roll for that matter, so my methods are easy to follow with minimum kitchen tools!
For the crust
1 ¼ cups all-purpose whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
½ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ cm cubes
2 tbsp ice water
For the filling
2 large eggs + the yolk of a third egg
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 450 mL can of pumpkin purée
1 ½ cup heavy cream
Crust - Pâte brisée
In a big bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar.
Add the chilled butter cubes and start crushing them with your hands. The goal is to have pea-size bits of butter mixed in with your dry ingredients.
Add one tbsp of ice water (without the ice please!) at a time while slowly working the dough with your hands. It will become less crumbly. You should still see bits of butter.
Form dough in a disk. Do not over-knead or your crust will end up tough. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Take out of the fridge and let it sit for 10 - 15 minutes.
On a clean surface with a little flour to prevent sticking, roll the dough to a 30 cm circle with a thickness of about ⅓ cm. I used a bottle of wine and it worked just fine.
Carefully line a tart pan with the dough. Press down to line the pie dish with the dough.
Put in the freezer until ready to bake.
Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and spices, including lemon zest.
Mix in the pumpkin purée. Stir in the cream. Beat together until everything is well mixed.
Pour the filling into the frozen pâte brisée. You do not need to cook the dough beforehand.
Bake at a high temperature of 425°F for 15 minutes.
Then after 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 45 minutes. The pie is cooked when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool for at least an hour before serving.