September 29, 2012

Pin of the Week: Leopard Print Flats






























Note: I am posting my Pin of the Week post a day early this week, as tomorrow is the last day of the month and therefore I will be posting the results of my September Photo a Day Challenge tomorrow. It's not that I don't want to post twice in on day, but tomorrow's post will likely be long and I don't want to bombard you with a ton to read all at once - and myself with a lot to write. So enjoy this week's pin a day early!

Leopard print flats are my latest obsession. I love them; the pattern and the warm colours and the comfort. I also love the fact that they add some punch to an otherwise boring outfit - you can see several examples of what I mean if you check out my "simple style" board on Pintrest.

After spending weeks ogling all of the various styles and brands of these gorgeous shoes on Pintrest, I finally decided that I would have to find a pair, but a cheap pair, of course. Every time I went to the mall to run an errand I would give a quick glance into the shoe and accessory stores, hoping that I might be able to find not only a gorgeous pair of leopard print flats, but one that is ridiculously cheap. I was clearly searching for something that didn't exist.

Long story short, I ended up finding a very cheap ($10!) pair of cute flats at Ardene. I had never thought about looking there as frankly, the store seems kind of cheap - and not in a good way - but someone suggested that I see what they had to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised. I wore my flats to work on Thursday, and I can honestly say that they fit comfortably and didn't pinch my feet. Loving the leopard right now!

Photo Credit: We <3 It on Tumblr

September 27, 2012

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends


I saw this collage on Polyvore when searching for images for my Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe post. I absolutely love it, it's such a great collection of images and items!

The quote featured in the collage struck a chord with me: When I was in university I was separated from many of my close friends, as we all moved to different cities to attend different universities. Though we kept in close contact via email and Facebook, I still always looked forward to the times we could meet and catch up face-to-face. As we all have a mildly obsessive love for anything Starbucks, we would always manage to squeeze in a "Starbucks date" whenever we were all home for a weekend or a holiday.

A few years ago after we had all completed university, a close family member of mine became terminally ill, and the importance of these coffee dates with my closest friends became salient. When I was unable to leave my house or the hospital as I was caring for this family member, the girls brought Starbucks to me, both literally and figuratively: Not only did I have a delicious drink to cheer me up, but I had their amazing company to take my mind off of what was a very stressful and sad time.

I am not sure that I accurately conveyed how important "Starbucks dates" were to me at the time, and how dear they are to me now. But I hope that my girls now know - and that we keep this tradition going strong!

Photo Credit: Polyvore

September 26, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe


























I am obsessed with Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte. Obsessed. This latte is the perfect combination of smooth coffee taste with the exact right amount of fall spice and pumpkin flavour. Autumn is my favourite season, and this drink is like the best elements of autumn in a mug. Delicious!

The only problem is that I can't keep going to Starbucks and buying these wonderful drinks - neither my wallet nor my waistline can afford it. So I decided to search the Internet to see if I could find a recipe for pumpkin spice lattes that are low in calories and dollars. After searching a few sites and various recipes I settled on the recipe below, from The Kitchn. This recipe appeared to the simple to make, and relatively healthy; as you can substitute canned pumpkin for pumpkin syrup the drink will contain a lot less sugar than the Starbucks original. Additionally, as I have many of the required ingredients on hand at home already (milk, sugar, coffee, etc.) this recipe doesn't break the bank.


Pumpkin Spice Latte

2 cups milk

2 tbsp canned pumpkin {can substitute with 1 tsp Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup}
2 tbsp sugar {half this if too sweet}
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso {can substitute with 1/2 strong brewed coffee if you don't have an espresso machine}

1. In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin, and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is steaming.


2. Remove the mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin spice.


3. Transfer the whole mixture to a blender and blend for approximately 15 seconds, until the mixture is foamy. If you don't have a blender, then use a wire whisk to whisk the mixture well until foamy.


4. Pour the mixture in a large mug or two medium-sized ones. Add the espresso {or coffee} on top of the mixture and stir. Be careful not to stir too much to decrease the foam created by blending/whisking the pumpkin and milk mixture.


6. {Optional} Top with whipped cream and garnish with additional pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg.



I initially tried out this recipe last week. It was delicious and a pretty good substitute to the Starbucks original, but I felt like something was a little off. It wasn't off in a bad way, but I found it to be a little more bitter than the original, which I assume is based on the fact that I used real pumpkin rather than a sugary flavoured syrup.

This evening I had some free time and decided to see if I could alter the recipe a little to make it turn out a little more like the original. However, it is really important to me that I don't add extra sugar, which would be an obvious fix given that I wanted to make the drink taste a little sweeter. Instead I decided to reduce the amount of pumpkin pie spice in the recipe to 1/4 tsp, as this spice tends to be strong and often bitter if used in excess. This made a bit of a difference, but it wasn't much sweeter.

So I gave in a little bit and I added some left over whipped cream, from when I made Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes earlier this week. This helped a lot, as it made the drink a lot more sweet. But I am still going to work on perfecting the taste of the drink without adding whipped cream, as I would like to make it as delicious as possible without consuming a ridiculous amount of calories. I'll keep you updated!

Photo Credit: Mashable

September 24, 2012

Metric Conversions


Here in Canada we use the metric system for our measurements; however, as we are influenced very heavily by American culture, many of our products still come in non-metric measurements. For instance, many recipes indicate the number of cups of an ingredient that one will need, or the dimensions of a room/furniture will be provided in feet and inches.

As a result, most Canadian children are taught both the American standard measures and the Canadian metric system while they are in elementary school. I certainly was, and it is thus common knowledge for me that 1 cup equals 250 mL, and 1 foot equals 30 cm. I typically have no problem converting common measurements into their equivalent if needed.

However, there are always some measurements that trick me up, as they are not as common, or not as easy to quickly calculate in one's head. For instance, when I was making Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes earlier this week, I was instructed to add 15 oz of pumpkin to my mixture. I have no clue how many cups 15 oz is, and as I was working with a set of cup measures, I needed to figure this out. So I Googled "1 oz equals how many cups?" hoping that I might find a website with a conversion chart.

Imagine my surprise and delight when Google presented me with not only several websites, but a little gadget at the top of the page that would convert for me, without having to do anything except punch in the values I was looking for. This handy little tool even set the measurements I was looking for, and determined that I was looking to convert volume, as opposed to the other options, which are: temperature, length, mass, speed, area, time, fuel consumption, and digital storage. What a useful and handy tool!

Photo Credit: Todd's Take

September 23, 2012

Pin of the Week: Fall Attire


































Fall is my absolute favourite season. Not only does my frizzy hair remain flat and straight, but the clothing of the season is amazing. The textures, shapes, and colours are just the best; everything is so cozy and luxurious!

I chose to showcase the above pin this week as we officially entered the autumn season yesterday, and that officially means that I no longer feel a little silly wearing my leather fall jacket or one of my several cozy scarves out and about. My leather jacket is one of my absolute favourite articles of clothing, as it always looks good no matter what I'm wearing, and the cut of the jacket makes me look so trim, even with a bulky sweater underneath. I look forward to a dip in temperature just to wear this coat haha!

And scarves. There is nothing more cozy and comfortable than burrowing your chin into a well-layers scarf when you are chilly. I have many scarves in varying materials, textures, and thicknessess, and I love them all for this fact. I have some scarves that are very light and almost transparent in thickness, but I feel a little weird wearing a scarf when it's summer and 80 degrees outside. Even if it goes with my outfit. But in fall I don't have to worry about looking silly, scarves are appropriate and often encouraged!

I am so pumped for fall!

Photo Credit: Simple Style, Where the Sidewalk Begins

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes


























I had a few friends over for dessert recently. The plan for the evening was BYOB and BOYD - bring your own booze and dessert - to share. I had initially decided to make an amazing lemon and raspberry cupcake recipe that I found online a while back, and that I had been wanting to try for a while. However, when I recalled the recipe so I could go shopping, the pictures and the ingredients struck me as being too spring-like for a cozy fall evening. So instead I chose to make pumpkin pie cupcakes, which are a little more seasonally appropriate. Here is the recipe I chose, from the site Baking Bites:


Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
15 oz pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 half & half cream
1 can whipped cream

1. Prep: Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners and set aside.


2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice, making sure there are no lumps and all ingredients are evenly mixed in. Set aside.


3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cream until well combined.


4. Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix together until no streaks of flour remain and the batter is smooth {I used a stand mixer for this part and it was very easy}.


5. Fill each muffin cup with batter until it is approximately 1/3 full {I filled them a little more, and as they don't rise well - see below - I would recommend 2/3 full}.


6. Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool in the pan; they will sink as they cool.


7. Chill cupcakes before serving. Serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Optional: Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.



I took a huge shortcut by using whipped cream for the icing, but it worked with the 'cupcakes' because one would normally eat whipped cream on pumpkin pie. However, I think this recipe would also be delicious with a cream cheese based icing, but it would have to be light in texture in order to balance out the dense pumpkin cupcake. If you ever try this recipe with cream cheese icing, please let me know how it turns out!

The cupcakes sadly didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. They didn't rise, and as mentioned in the original recipe, they sunk in as they cooled. Frankly, I feel the term cupcake to be a bit of a stretch in this instance, and it think it would be more appropriate to call these mini pumpkin pies. In fact, I had been looking for a dessert to make for an upcoming Thanksgiving family dinner, and I think that I might make this same recipe, but rather than placing the batter into cupcake papers, I will bake it in butter tart shells. This way they will really be like little individual-sized pumpkin pies!

Also, a quick word of caution: I 'iced' my cupcakes about 15 mins before my guests were to arrive, and then went upstairs to put the finishing touches on my hair. When I came back into the kitchen about 20 mins later, the whipped cream had melted, as I forgot that it needed to be refrigerated in order to stay stiff. So lesson learned: Either put the whipped cream on the cupcakes right before serving, or keep them in the fridge until they are ready to be enjoyed!

Photo Credit: Picky Cook

September 22, 2012

Renovations


You may have noticed that the look and layout of This & That is changing. And when I say "may have", I mean that I certainly hope you did, because big things are happening here!

I love the old layout of This & That - don't get me wrong - but I found it to be too much really. Between the mix of colours in the header and the crazy use of stylized fonts, I found the old layout to be a little too busy for my liking. And the heavy use of black contrasted against the white background didn't really help things either. So I am making some improvements, which will hopefully make the look of the blog a little more aesthetically pleasing, and a little easier on the eye.

So I therefore ask that you bear with me. I intend to try and maintain the regular content that I feature, but I will be making little changes here and there when I get the chance. I also intend to retro-fit my older posts, as I am making changes to the date header and the way that images are presented, so please be patient while I make these changes.

As always, comments are welcomed. What do you think of the new look that's emerging?

Photo Credit: Granite Transformations

September 21, 2012

Old Coffee Renewed


Don't you hate those old odds and ends of various type of coffee that always seem to collect in your cabinets? I find that I start a bag of grinds and then find that another type is on sale and I want to try it too... which results in my currently having three different types of coffee in my cupboard, all with little amounts left in the bottom of the bag/container.

There little bits no longer have that fresh and delicious bold coffee taste. Sadly, they have started to taste a little stale. But I am stubborn, and the child of mindful, scrupulous parents - therefore I am unable to simply throw out the coffee at the bottom of the bags. So I decided to try and salvage the coffee ends by flavouring them. I am a HUGE fan of Starbucks' flavoured coffees, especially hazelnut lattes. So I thought that perhaps I could improve the flavour of these ends of the various coffee bags by adding some flavour extracts, like the vanilla extract commonly used when baking.

Honestly, I am not sure that I would recommend this to others, but it might be worth a shot to try if you have some leftover, dull coffee to finish off. I was disappointed that I could not find hazelnut extract, but I did try vanilla and almond. I initially tried a tbsp of each (in separate cups of coffee); I found the vanilla to still be very bland and lacking in vanilla flavour, while the almond flavour was almost too much in the other cup. I reduced the almond flavouring by half and found it to be much more pleasant. For the vanilla flavouring I added an additional 1/2 tbsp, but I honestly didn't find this to make a big enough improvement on the flavour for me to have considered this to be successful. It was disappointing, as vanilla is such a wonderful flavour to add just a little punch to an otherwise bland taste. But at least the almond flavouring worked - more or less - and it will hopefully get me through the ends of the stale coffee!

Photo Credit: Photography Blogger

September 17, 2012

Puppies & Children


They say that getting a puppy is like a practice-run for having children. If this is the true, then I have the equivalent of a 13-month old toddler running around my house shedding and slobbering on everything. I think that there is some truth to this notion, as there are a lot of similarities between raising a puppy and raising a child: You lose your independence, you lose sleep, you lose 'me' time, and you can never have nice things. And the nice things that you do have are ruined very fast.


Puppies and children also teach you things that you may never have otherwise known. For instance, you learn that there is no where that is inappropriate to sing nursery rhymes when the crying/whining won't stop. You learn how to function after a maximum of four non-consecutive hours of sleep, night after night. You also learn the many different consistencies and colours of poop, and what a poop face/walk looks like. You learn to tolerate teething.

Today I learned something else. I already knew that I am not good with gross things, like puke. It's not that I am scared of it or squeamish, but rather that I have an over-active propensity for gagging. And once you gag once, that's game over, and I am useless to aid the situation. So imagine today, when my big puppy dragged a dead animal into my house and proceeded to bury it in the folds of my leather couch, how proud of myself I was that I didn't gag and become useless!

I approached the couch apprehensively, paper towel in hand, ready to clean up the disgusting dead thing stuffed into the corner of my couch. I gingerly pushed the couch cushion out of the way, trying to figure out 1) what kind of dead animal was stuffed in there, and 2) how to remove it with making more of a mess and/or touching it. The animal wasn't easily identifiable as it had clumps of mud stuck to it, and it appeared to be mangled, which made sense as my dog had probably played with it to death. But based on the colour and the slimy-looking consistency of what appeared to be skin, I decided it was a dead frog.

This is the point that I refrained from gagging, but I bailed. Hard. I basically begged my husband to come have a look at this disgusting carcass and remove it from the couch while I stood and watched from afar, perched on the tippy-toes of one foot, just in case the frog somehow came back to life and made a run at me. I realize how ridiculous this was, but it seemed like the situation called for this extreme of a reaction. Until my husband dug into the couch, removed the offending object, and declared it to be not a frog, not a dead animal, but rather a crumpled piece of swiss cheese, which we often reward our puppy with when she's been a good dog.

Kind of embarrassing! But I certainly learned something from the experience, in that I can add bailing and begging to my list of reactions to disgusting things. At least I learned this now, before I embarrass myself in front of my future children, when they drag gross things in front the garden. I guess there is truth to the thought that having a puppy is a good trial run for kids after all...

Photo Credit: Flickriver

September 16, 2012

Pin of the Week: Tulips






























Tulips are such a wonderful flower; it is such a shame that they only bloom in the early spring. As we are just heading into autumn it is a little bit of a strange time for me to be talking about tulips, but there are a couple of reasons that I chose them as my pin of the week now, opposed to waiting six months.

I just learned recently (thanks to my mom) that tulips are planted in the fall and they remain dormant in the ground throughout the winter months. I was a little surprised to learn this, but I guess it makes sense; you often see the little green buds poking through the ground when the snow is just starting to melt, so they would have had to be in the ground before then. Knowing that this is the perfect time to plant these beauties, I purchased a bag of bulbs from the store and borrowed  a bulb planter from my mom. I will be planting them tomorrow after work, weather permitting.

Fingers crossed that the squirrels don't dig them up before spring!

I set aside a few bulbs that I don't intend to in my garden, and I will be attempting to re-create the growing technique pictured in another tulip pin. I have a beautiful vase that I bought a little while ago that would be perfect for this project, and tomorrow after the planing is done I will be setting up the vase; wouldn't it be awesome to have tulips year-round?

I have very little to go on for this project, as the link associated with the pin doesn't provide any direction. The original pinner (or at least the person I re-pinned from) was kind enough to provide some directions. They are as follows:

1. Fill a glass container about 1/3 full with glass marbles or decorative rocks.

2. Set the tulip bulb on top of the marble/stones, with the pointed end facing up. Add a few more marbles/stones so that the bulb is supported in place, but not covered.

3. Pour fresh water into the container, but do not let the water touch the bulb. The water should come very close to the bulb, so that the roots are able to grow into it.

And that's it. I am a little concerned about a few things, and the limited directions don't seem to discuss any of my concerns. First, how often do I change the water? And given that I don't want the water to touch the bulb, how do I do this? Secondly, I am not a huge gardener, but I was under the assumption that plants need earth to grow in, as they obtain nutrients and oxygen from the earth; there is no earth involved in this, so how does the tulip actually grow? And lastly, I feel like there is a very strong potential for mold to grow in the bottom of the container, given that stagnant water tends to breed this...

Regardless of my concerns I am still going to try this out. All I have to lose is a couple tulip bulbs and a little bit of my time. I'll keep you updated as the process goes on (and hopefully grows into something)!

Photo Credit: Trees and Flowers

September 15, 2012

Avocado Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich













































I am cheating. Last week I created a weekly feature for this blog, called the Pin of the Week, that I intend to publish every Sunday morning. I am cheating because this post is very close to a pin of the week post, and it really should have been one. But I already have a pin picked out for tomorrow, and when I saw this recipe on Pintrest recently I couldn't resist making it right away and sharing it with you.

As I have mentioned many times before, my husband and I are currently living on a strict budget. As a result, my husband eats a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, and I eat them too from time to time. This recipe jumped out at me because my husband loves bacon (really, who doesn't?) and I love avocados. It seemed like the perfect blend of flavours and tastes, and avocado will make the sandwich a little more healthy - though this is probably cancelled out by the bacon...

I must admit, I changed the original recipe slightly by changing the cheese and omitting the apple, to suit it more to our tastes. If you would like to view the original recipe, please view the Jana Laurene Blog. I might try this recipe with the apple sometime in the future, but for now I figured that two new additions to an old favourite were enough. Here's what I did:


Avocado & Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices bread {sourdough or whole wheat}

2 slices of pre-sliced swiss cheese
3 slices of cooked bacon
1/2 of a mashed avocado
1 tsp margarine/butter

1. Cook the bacon according to the package directions. Once cooked, place on a plate covered with paper towel in order to absorb excess grease.


2. Using the margarine/butter, butter the outside of both slices of bread. Place one of the buttered pieces of bread into a non-stick pan, buttered side facing down into the pan. {Note: For a full-flavoured version, you can cook the sandwich in the same pan as the bacon, using the grease to increase the bacon flavour. But this adds a ton of calories!}


3. Place a slice of the pre-sliced swiss cheese on top of the slice of bread in the pan. Follow this up by spreading the mashed avocado on top of the cheese so that it covered the slice of cheese and the entire face of the slice of bread.


4. Place the strips of bacon into the avocado, and push them in so that they rest among the mashed avocado, rather than sitting on top. This will help to make the sandwich melt together when it's cooking. Finish the sandwich off by placing the final slice of swiss cheese on top of the bacon, and the final slice of bread on top of that, buttered side facing up towards you.


5. Cook the sandwich on medium heat. Cook two minutes per side, making sure to flip before burning. Once cooking is complete, cut once down the middle and serve.



Photo Credit: Lunch & Dinner, Jana Laurene Blog

September 14, 2012

September Photo A Day Challenge: Day 14







































At the beginning of the month I wrote a post indicating that I would be participating in the September Photo A Day Challenge created by Fat Mum Slim. In my post I stated that I would not be posting pictures every day, as I don't have an iPhone and running all the pictures though instagram would be a huge hassle and thus not possible on a daily basis. However, I did promise to post a couple pictures here and there, and I have gotten some flack from a few readers because the month is half over and I have yet to post anything. So here is a daily picture for your enjoyment - and as promised, I will post them all at the end of the month.

Today's topic is "Favourite". The best thing about this topic is that it is pretty vague - I can take a picture of my favourite anything. As I mentioned previously I have been pretty sick this week, and as a matter of fact I have been feeling so under the weather that I didn't even go into the office and I worked from home. So I wanted to take a picture of something inside my home that I consider to be my favourite, as there was no way that I was going to be venturing outside.

My puppy was the perfect subject; not only is she my favourite dog and favourite thing to photograph, but she is in my home and easily accessible from the confines of my couch. I didn't have to go far to take this super cute picture, and since I am looking for reasons to stay on the couch (and avoid chores), I didn't mind taking the time to edit the picture and add the watermark.

As previously promised, I will try to get a few more of my daily pictures posted before the end of the month. But regardless, I will post them all on or around the last day of the month so you can see my month in photos!

Photo Credit: This & That Blog

The Importance of Backing Up Digital Photos






















I am so sorry for the lack of posts this week, but I have been sick with a nasty cold. As a result, I have been dragging my sick self into work and then home and straight into bed each day, which means that I haven't had much time for writing posts. I am still recovering and I don't have a lot of energy, but I wanted to make sure to post something. This post is actually a transplant from my photography blog, Amanda Hilary Photography. The topic remains relevant so I chose to re-post it here, as it is something that everyone should know - not only those into photography. This post was initially published on August 3rd, 2012

I had a huge scare today: I came home from work and turned on my laptop, with the intent of quickly checking my email and then heading out to shoot some pics. Except my laptop refused to turn on. I had left it in hibernation mode for the majority of the day, and I noticed it was taking a long to to "wake up". After waiting a solid tens minutes, I attempted a hard shut down and a restart. Nothing.

Using my husband's iPad, I quickly posted my dilemma on facebook, with an appeal for help/advice. Thankfully a technology-savvy friend responded within minutes, and explained to me a way that I could quickly determine which part of my computer was preventing it from booting up.

After following the advice of my friend, I learned that my computer would not longer work due to a problem with the central processing unit. Having no idea what this meant or how much it would cost to fix/replace this, I placed a phone call to my local Best Buy. Turns out that the CPU costs more than the cost of a new laptop to replace, and the person I spoke to suggested that I give up on my old laptop without attempting a fix and just simply choose a new one.

I tried to remain calm, but it was pretty difficult. I have no technical understanding, and aside from my guess at the fact that a central processing unit is important - which it is - I have no idea what this meant with regards to all my millions of pictures, videos, documents, etc. stored on my now-defunct computer. I was very anxious that I had lost everything. But I was lucky. The technical support person that I was speaking with explained to me that even though the CPU is integral to the proper function of the computer itself, it didn't have anything to do with memory or data storage. Phew!

The reason I am sharing this with you is simple: Back up your images regularly. I am guilty of breaking this rule, as I am pretty sure that the last time I backed anything up or burned images to a CD was likely in 2009.  But this is so important, and should be done regularly. Especially for those like myself who love to take pictures: With the popularization of digital cameras, we no longer have physical negatives that we can rely on when our technological systems fail. Our digital images (edited or not) act as our negatives, and if technology fails, our recorded memories run the risk of being lost for good.

This situation could have ended up much worse for me, and I am relieved to report that for a sum of approximately $100 I can have the contents of my old hard drive returned to me safely. But this was a good reminder, that backing up data, though a mundane and boring task, is super important!

Photo Credit: Digital Trends

September 9, 2012

Pin of the Week: Sunday Mornings











































Sunday mornings I always take my time getting up; it's the one day of the week where I allow myself to lounge around in my pjs until noon. My husband and I usually watch some HGTV (he likes the home reno and real estate shows, I love it all..) and catch up on emails, paying bills, and other necessary things.

Necessary things like Pintrest. I usually give Pintrest a quick browse every few days, but Sundays are the days when I allow myself to spend a significant amount of browsing Pintrest. There are so many wonderful images on Pinterest; I could waste hours (and I have) browsing through all of the pictures, ideas, and images available. Some of the images are awesome, and I have actually used a recipe, tried my hand at a DIY idea, and learned how to better my photography thanks to things that others have pinned and I have re-pinned. I follow other bloggers, follow celebrities, and follow my friends, and I get inspiration from it all.

But then there is another side to Pintrest: The side that is completely unrealistic, or it has the potential to be realistic but not until several years from now. For instance, I have boards for my dream home and my ideal fantasy cottage. I don`t have the money to purchase my dream home or cottage (as I apparently have very big, expensive dreams), but I can pin furniture and paint colours for future use... though whether I will actually use these pins in the future will remain to be seen haha.

But in the mean time it's fun to dream. I liken it to "playing house" when I was a kid, where I could have eight kids and a dog and a perfect husband and a house to fit them all. But now I have hardwood floors, berber carpet, and under-cabinet lighting. I have expansive kitchen shelving, stylish furniture, and upgraded finishes. The "playing" part occurs when I delude myself to believe that one day I will be able to afford all of this...

Anyways, as a means of starting to create regularity within my posts, I have decided that I will be adding a new exercise to my Sunday morning pj routine: I will be posting my favourite post for the week, with an explanation as to why I favoured it. Hopefully you will like the pins as much as I do; if you do then I invite you to follow me on Pinterest!

Photo Credit: Love and Other Crazy ThingsTumblr Page (not in English)

September 8, 2012

Eight Cups a Day



























I have been hearing forever and ever that in order to be of optimal health, people need to drink a minimum of eight cups of water per day. I have never been a big fan of water, unless it is a really hot day and I need to quench my thirst, or if I have been to the gym and sweated out all of my reserves. I am aware of the benefits of drinking water, but I am so not motivated to do it.

But I for whatever reason this past week I chose to make sure that I got a minimum of eight cups of water per day. And I didn't cheat and count my morning coffee and evening tea into the eight cups; I made sure to drink eight cups of straight-up water.

Let me tell you that my old dislike of water is gone. I am sure that I am probably a little more healthier on the inside from adopting this habit, but there were a number of benefits to this practice that I felt almost immediately. First of all, I was more awake and alert. I am known for yawning non-stop throughout the day, to the point that people tease me frequently by asking if they are "keeping me awake". But not this week! I was a lot more awake and I felt it, which was pretty awesome.

I also noticed that I just generally felt healthier. I am honestly not sure whether this was an actual physical response, or whether this type of change can even be brought about in such a short period of time, but I just felt healthy. Perhaps it was only a placebo-type of occurrence, whereby I was aware that I was doing something  good for myself and so I felt like what I thought I should be feeling; but I don't care, it was awesome and this feeling alone will make me continue to drink eight cups every day.

The only downside to drinking a ton of water every day was also immediately obvious: You have to use the washroom on a nearly constant basis! This was a little awkward on the days when I needed be in a meeting or I was interviewing a client and couldn't run off to the washroom every 20 mins... But I am hopeful that in time my body (and my bladder) will get used to this trend and learn to deal with the increased liquids.

The moral of the story: I am not certain that eight cups a day will keep the doctor away, but it certainly gave me some near-immediate benefits that I was hoping it would, and I will keep up the practice!

Photo Credit: Red Orbit

September 6, 2012

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This...























Today was an absolute write-off. Honestly, not a single thing went right today, to the point that it was almost comical. Almost, but not quite...

Having gone to bed last night with a brutal migraine headache, I was pleased to wake up this morning feeling much better and without the pounding pain. This was short-lived however, as while taking my shower I started to feel the all-too-familiar pounding behind my eyes. Much more dull than the previous day, but still present nonetheless.

Despite my growing headache, I was able to eat breakfast and get ready to go. I left my house on time, at 7:30am, expecting to get to work around 8:30. I had a meeting at 10:00 at another associated office, which would require that I leave the office at 9:00 to drive there. So arriving at my office at 8:30 would allow me a little time to check my emails and voice mails before heading out onto the road again.

This, however, was apparently not to be. The main highway that I use to get to work had some kind of traffic issue (which sadly happens more often than not), and as a result traffic was at a standstill. Despite having left home with lots of time to get to the office, I ended up being late. Super late. I didn't arrive at the office until ten after nine. So much for checking my emails; I was now going to have to park, check in, grab my laptop and the directions to the meeting, and then jump right back into the car. And to make matters worse, I was supposed to be carpooling with a co-worker. Which meant that not only was I going to be late for a meeting (for which I was responsible for taking the minutes) but now my co-worker was going to be late as well.

So I got to the office, gathered my things, and was informing our reception staff that I would be attending this meeting and out of the office for the majority of the day. I was picking up my purse when I noticed that the yogurt I had placed in there for later had exploded. And not just a little leak, it was a full-out explosion and everything in my purse was now coated in blueberry yogurt. So I had to stop and clean up this mess before I could leave, making us even later.

So my co-worker finally got on the road, and she drove as I was going to navigate. It was a great plan, until I discovered that I had left the maps as the office, as I had put them down to deal with my yogurt fiasco. So we made it up, and with the help of the GPS on our phones, and if we hurried, we were on track to get to the meeting right as it began.

We were on the highway thinking that things would work out after all, until we saw signs indicating that the exit we needed to take was closed. Super. So we drove a little faster and resolved to get off at the next exit. Except that it was closed too. And the next one. And the next one after that. So much for being on time; by the time we were able to get off the highway we knew there was no way we could make it; we were going to be late.

And so we ended up being 15 minutes late for the meeting, which all in all wasn't too bad, considering what we had gone through in order to get there. My day basically remained at the status quo, and despite taking several doeses of extra-strength Advil all day long, my headache remained stuck behind my eyes, pounding away like a drum. So needless to say, I am happy to be on the other side of this day, and I am looking forward to going to bed and closing my eyes to this disaster of a day!

Photo Credit: DeviantArt: Anowia

September 2, 2012

What's My Age Again?





































Today, while at the grocery store, I was approached by a friendly members of the sales team who was running a promotion related to back-to-school. "Are you looking for back to school lunch ideas?" she asked me as I shook my head no. I will admit that as I walked away I was a little insulted: It's been two years since I have followed the annual back-to-school ritual, and my most recent return to school was for graduate studies. As a mature student. So I was surprised and a little taken a back when this sales person mistook me for someone requiring school lunches. However, this isn't the first time someone has made that mistake, so I ignored it and kept shopping.

But then a much worse though crossed my mind: Perhaps she thought that I would need back-to-school lunches for my kids! Perhaps she recognized that I myself am too old for school, but lumped me into the mommy category. Given my age it is not totally unreasonable to assume that I would have children, but to assume that they are of school age? I wouldn't mind getting mistaken for a mom when I have my niece or nephew with me in public, but alone and without children in tow? No one wants to be a soccer mom until they are a soccer mom.

I honestly have no idea what prompted that sales associate to place me into either category. Perhaps it was her job to ask everyone who walked by if they needed ideas for back-to-school lunches, and I could be making a much bigger deal out of this than it really is. But you can imagine my relief when my trip to the beer store later today resulted in my being carded as I checked out.

Photo Credit: Daisy Green Magazine

September 1, 2012

Brick Works Farmer's Market



























I have been planning for so long to go to the Brick Works Farmer's Market in the north end of Toronto. My husband and I attend out local farmer's market every Saturday morning in the summer, but I was interested in checking out another/bigger one. I follow BlogTO on Twitter and I saw a tweet about the market, which prompted me to look into it and determine that I needed to go immediately.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control I wasn't able to go immediately. I wasn't even able to go within a few weeks of finding out about the market. So I waited patiently...

And this morning I went! I slept in a little bit and got to the market just after 10am. If you ever plan on going (which I recommend!) please please please go early. We did not go early enough, and we probably spent the next 20 or so minutes trying to park. It almost got ugly a couple times, but we eventually sneaked into a spot just as someone was pulling out. Also, be aware that you need to pay for parking, at a rate of $1.50 per half hour, up to a maximum of $8.00.

The market itself was fantastic! There were so many choices for fresh fruit and vegetables, and there were tons of other types of food vendors there as well. We chose to refrain from eating breakfast before we went (though I made a coffee before we left, obviously haha) and we bought our breakfast there. My husband and I are on a budget, so we chose to share our food as a way to sample a few different items and save a couple dollars. We started off with some savoury homemade organic fries from a booth called JK Fries. The fries were served with your choice of regular mayo or cajun mayo... we chose cajun and were so pleased with our selection. The fries were amazing, and a great way to start off breakfast!

We walked around a bit and my husband mentioned that he wanted to find the crepe vendor, as he had heard about a good one. We found the vendor, but apparently everyone else had the same idea: The line was at least 10 people deep and didn't look like it was moving quickly. So we kept walking, and we chose instead to split a breakfast waffle. We stopped at a booth called The Waffle Bar and had a waffle topped with fresh peaches and whipping cream that was whipped right on the spot. We also got some kind of apple doughnut on the side, but it had a very French name and I can't remember exactly what it was called. But the waffle and the doughnut thing were amazing! I would drive back there just for the waffle.

We have plans next weekend so we will likely just be back at our local farmer's market. But we do have plans to visit the St. Lawrence Market in the near future, and we will likely hit up the Brick Works Farmer's Market again soon - perhaps when the fall, once the autumn vegetables are out!

Photo Credit: Flickr: Michael A. J. Rumig
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