March 19, 2014

Overdue update aka. Dude, do you even blog?

I think about writing blog posts all the time. I make something in the kitchen and thing “ahh I should totally share this recipe”. Or I share something and someone asks for the recipe and I think “I should put that on my blog”. Only it never happens. I start drafting what I want to write in my head, and sometimes I even make notes, but that is as far as it goes. Why? No reason really, other than life getting in the way which is my reality, but a terrible excuse.

So what’s new? Well, we moved! We had said we’d be in the old house for 5 years and then move on, but we were there 7 years since we liked the place. We left a nice little semi-detached house on teeny lot on a quiet cul-de-sac in a nice suburban neighbourhood and moved into the dream home, a three-dormer Cape Cod on a little over an acre in a very quiet rural subdivision in a small town on the outskirts of our municipality. Some people have been critical that we are two people (and dog and cat) moving into a larger home, and what could we possibly want all that room for. Well, we love this home and every day we love it a little bit more. The naysayers and negative people are not welcome… we are responsible adults who made a grown-up choice, and we are happy with it.

Home Sweet Home!

We moved in just before the beginning of winter (such a long, cold winter this year!) so we’ve enjoyed the tractor with snowblower for moving the snow and the animals have enjoyed exploring the yard as well as the visiting wildlife. So far we’ve seen lots of songbirds, a pheasant and as of last weekend a family of deer!

We live closer to some great friends and have taken advantage of this and we get together regularly for dinner at each other’s houses. One of the couples hunt and this winter I have had venison shanks and rabbit confit. Both were delicious, and it’s nice trying new things… especially with a bottle of wine (or three!).

Venison shanks!

He-of-the-good-ideas joined our local volunteer fire department and absolutely loves being a part of it. He responds to every call that comes through his pager when we are home and has helped out around the fire hall when something needs to be done. I am very proud of him! He came home from the weekly meeting at the hall last night with a department uniform (my hubby in a uniform? Mee-ow!). It needs to be laundered and he said something about ironing… I hope the laundry fairy is going to do it for him!

My volunteer firefighter <3 

Back in January I had sort of a personal awakening regarding my health and have been making some lifestyle changes. Basically I am trying eat as “clean” as possible (but I’m not perfect by any means) and increased my activity level tenfold. I take a Zumba class (love!) an Aqua Zumba class (love!), and I am taking in some yoga classes both at a gym in my new town plus some classes in my favourite studio in my old town. I started P90X3 but since I am involved in other stuff I am not doing it every single day. I also signed myself up for a 5km women’s road race in June. The last time I tried to be a runner it was a miserable experience that always resulted in very sore knees and I always felt more exhausted than exhilarated. Turns out trying to keep up with seasoned runners and not starting at a pace for a beginner is bad. And discouraging. This time I am actually training for something specific and while I know I can’t run the whole time, I will be out there with my sneakers on, giving it my best shot! Bonus points for having an awesome runner friend who is encouraging and helpful and a huge inspiration.

I am planning on putting in a vegetable garden this spring, so keep watch for sprouting plants and hopefully a bountiful harvest!

Tomorrow is the first day of spring, and even though sub-zero temps and snow are in the forecast, I am hopeful to be outside in just my shirtsleeves before too long!

Winter`s been fun, but how about some spring weather

April 11, 2013

A Must Read: "A Letter To My Son About Consent"

In my hometown this week, it was reported that a girl who went to the high school I graduated from took her own life. She was bullied and tormented with hateful taunts from classmates after a horiffic incident where she was raped by four boys and somehow one of them thought to take pictures as if somehow, somewhere that is even remotely acceptable behaviour. And instead of being helped by the authorites she reported the incident to, the case wasn't taken seriously enough and nothing happened to punish the boys due to an allegend lack of evidence. So life goes on, the classmates who tormented her over an incident she had no control over will weep on television and claim they didn't talk poorly of her.

Our evening news is full of stories of this seemingly sweet girl and what good she was doing in the community and what a lovely person she was. Too little, too late. This girl was failed. By classmates, teachers, school officials, law enforcement, our legal system, and... possibly most importantly of all, the parents of the boys who raped her. The parents who could have taken the time to reinforce how to treat a member of the opposite sex. I am not a parent, so I implore the parents of boys to read this article. All parents actually, it's a sound message.

The article is A Letter To My Son About Consent written by Finn Wightman

Rehteah Parsons was so traumatized by the miserable way her 17 year old world fell apart, she felt her only escape was to end her young life. She has been failed so many times over, and I hope the reports all over the news about justice for her are followed through and that the next time someone comes forward to report a situation it recieves an appropriate response.

April 8, 2013

Anticipation of Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a big day for me.

Tomorrow marks a day I have been looking forward to for a long time.

Tomorrow... my braces get removed!!

It's been 2 years, 7 months and 7 days. Or 135 weeks, 5 days. Or 950 days. But who's keeping track? Heh.

In September 2010 I had a full set of upper and lower braces put on. I had an underbite, and a jaw that didn't fit in my mouth because it was too wide and positioned too far forward. So, after consultation with my dentist, orthodontist and an oral surgeon, it was decided that I would have jaw surgery to correct my bite and I'd need the braces to move all the teeth into position for surgery, then to adjust them after.

The surgery, in February 2012 was... interesting. I ended up with pnuemonia which made my recovery that much harder. Coughing with your jaw wired shut is miserable. And consuming all my food (read: thin liquids) through a large syringe stuck in the corner of my cartoonishly swollen mouth was brutal.

I can eat most foods now, though my jaw gets tired fairly quickly. I've done everything my surgeon & orthodontist have told me to in an effort to make sure I get these braces of in the shortest possible time frame. I've never popped off a bracket because of eating something I shouldn't have, and I have (by all accounts) taken meticulous care of my teeth and it hasn't been easy. I actually miss flossing (yes dad, you read that right) and I look forward to not brutalizing toothbrush bristles on a regular basis!

So yeah, tomorrow. Eight AM. I feel like a kid waiting for Santa!

Here are my before and after surgery x-rays... before on the RIGHT and after on the LEFT

I'll be sure to share what I eat first... and how my mouth feels!


March 30, 2013

Homemade Larabars

As far as packaged snack foods go, Larabars rank pretty high on the scale of good-for-you snacks. The ingredient list is short and the flavours are yummy. But, they can be pricey. So I figured "Hey! I can MAKE these!"

So I did. And you can too!

This is not an original thought, and there are lots of blogs out there with creative kitchen-gurus who remember to take more pictures than I did. But this is my blog, and so here's what I made!

The cast of characters (I picked things I like):
- plain unsalted cashews
- plain walnuts
- medjool dates (pitted)
- dried cherries
- mini chocolate chips

If your dates still have the pits in them (mine did), just pry them out with your fingers.

Place your dates and cherries in a food processor and turn them into (for lack of a better term) a lumpy paste.

pre-lumpy paste

Add in your nuts and blend until mixture becomes "mealy". Once it has the texture of crusher dust (I know, I paint an appetizing picture) add in some mini chocolate chips. These would be healthier without the chocolate chips, but come on... chocolate makes everything better! I

Turn out of bowl of food processor and press into a square cake pan (mine is 8.5 x 8.5). Cut into bars. Now... I don't like the idea of using metal in my good cake pans, so I used my hard plastic stone-pan-scraper to cut the bars since it has a nice edge.

To store, I cut some parchment paper and wrapped each bar individually.

Then just pop the wrapped bars into a storage container with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the fridge until you feel as though you need a snack! But if you think you'll be a while till you get to them all, put some wrapped bars in a freezer bag and toss them in your freezer!

Mmmm nutritious, good-for-you, and ohhhh so yummy!

My recipe (feel free to adjust as you see fit):

13 medjool dates (pitted)
1/3 cup dries cherries (try dried cranberries or blueberries!)
1 1/2 cups unsalted cashews
3/4 cup plain walnuts
1/3 - 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

In a food processor, blend up the dates & cherries. Add in the nuts until you get a pea-meal consistency. Add in mini chocolate chips. Press into square pan. Cut into bars. Wrap each bar individually. Store until ready to eat!


6k on Good Friday

Yesterday dawned bright and clear, if not a bit cold. Mother Nature sure is making Nova Scotia wait for spring this year! With all shops and whatnot closed for the day (holiday observance) HOTGI and I had no real plans. I put the bug in his ear as soon as he was up for the day that I'd like to take the dog for a walk somewhere, preferably a place where we could let him off-leash to run his little heart out.

Just after lunch, we got a call from friends who were taking their dog for a walk thru a place we used to run years ago as an off-roading trail, so we decided to join them. The spring thaw has left much of the ground a soggy mess, so waterproof boots were the name of the game!

It was a gorgeous day for a walk in nature, and the dogs had a great time! I am still recovering from a cold, so my energy/lung capacity was kinda crappy but I was glad to get out and DO something. I hope the physical exertion helps my body get rid of any lingering sickness!

Only a few pictures were taken, and no I am not in any of them, but here is our little group on the walk. The crest of the hill in the far distance... that's where we walked to. By the time we got there, I waved the white flag. I knew that we had to walk back, and there was no way I'd make it much farther beyond! I am really grateful for the fresh air and the walk with friends though!


March 10, 2013

Simply Sweet Cinnamon Roll Waffles

It's time change weekend... spring ahead and such. My friends with children really find this time change hard, but not having offspring or any schedule to keep this Sunday morning, it really doesn't phase me. I wake up whenever my dog or my bladder decides it is time!

This morning I was laying in bed and thinking about breakfast, when I decided to make a sweet special treat for HOTGI and I to share... cinnamon roll waffles!!

This is hardly a new idea, it's been all over the internet for ages, but it was my first time trying it. All you need is a waffle iron and a tube of pre-made cinnamon rolls. I mean, you're more than welcome to make your own cinnamon rolls, make them up and toss them in your waffle iron but I don't have that kind of motivation on a Sunday morning.

Just unwrap the package (I hate the anticipation waiting for the *pop* opening those things!) and place the little rolls on your pre-heated waffle iron that you sprayed with non-stick spray (I use Pam for baking).

Now, just close the lid and give it a gentle squeeze shut!

Now all you have to do it stand there and inhale the sweet, sweet cinnamon aroma and wait for them to be done! My waffle iron has a sensor/timer dealie that gives a beep when the waffle is done, but I checked these ones with a fork as well...

Perfect! Crispy on the outside and soft and yummy on the inside!! Now, just put them, on a plate and drizzle with the icing that comes in the package (I microwave it for about 15 seconds to make it pourable).

Enoy while warm with your favourite breakfast beverage of choice. This morning I ground some Starbucks French Roast beans for coffee for HOTGI and made a cup of Tetley tea for me!

It's such a simple, sweet and yummy breakfast treat... go try it!

And since it's time change weekend, make sure you change your clocks AND the batteries in your smoke detectors!


December 25, 2012

Christmas Day Amuse-Bouche: Caprese Bites

Christmas Day 2012 has been a wonderful, roaring success in this household! My mom came over late yesterday afternoon and we had (traditional in my family) pan fried haddock for supper. Later, we sat in our jammies and watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation while eating some bacon wrapped water chestnuts. Mmmmm!

This morning my mom, HOTGI and I had a blast opening gifts and spending time together. It's been a pretty relaxing day here, the turkey is in the oven and we are all still in our jammies. I made my frittata for breakfast for mom and I (added chopped green, red and orange peppers leftover from Saturday's party) and then we all had pancakes for a second breakfast!

Since we're still kinda full this afternoon, nobody wanted lunch but our turkey dinner isn't for another couple hours, I decided to make a nice light snack, Caprese bites! They're pretty simple to make and are the perfect nibbley between meals.

All you need are:
- fresh basil leaves
- some small (cherry or grape) tomatoes
- fresh mozzarella, cut into small bites
- toothpicks
- olive oil & balsamic vinegar, for dipping (optional)

Assemble together with toothpicks, and ta-dah!

Now, in the middle of this plate is a small bowl with olive oil and traditional baslamic vinegar from one of the greatest small shops around, Liquid Gold! If you're ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia check them out, you'll be glad you did! I had it there for dipping the Caprese bites since I think olive oil and balsamic are the perfect complement.

And as I type this, the turkey will be ready to come out of the oven in just about an hour...

Merry Christmas everyone!