Saturday, November 26, 2011

All Decked Out - Guest Post

Hi Everybody!
My friend Cheryl has wanted to do a Christmas guest post since last year when I started this blog.
Since today she was looking for a way to procrasinate, it seemed the perfect day for her to channel her inner blogger and write a Christmas  guest post. Also, now that Remembrance Day and American Thanksgiving are over, it is time to start embracing the Christmas spirit.

Cheryl is very trendy, very cheap frugal, (she can spot a deal a mile away)
 and can write me under the table (is that a saying?).
So here she is! Let the Christmas season begin!!


I recently attended an awesome event in Moose Jaw called “All Decked Out”.  It was the first time they have put it on and I totally recommend going next year if you get the chance.  I got so many great ideas and was inspired to try a few new things this holiday. 
Before I start, I’ll confess this:  I’m cheap and proud of it!  I absolutely love the finer things of life, but I’m so cheap that I wait for all the beautiful things to go on a big end-of -season sale.  I am a teacher and my husband works for a non-profit organization.  We do not have the kind of money to keep up with the show homes I saw on the “All Decked Out” tour, so we do our best and are content with it!
Christmas décor expenses should be kept at a minimum.  Considering how expensive travel, gifts, and food is during the holidays, the budget shouldn’t be blown before the big day.
Here are a few ideas to help you get into the Christmas Spirit:
Step One:  Michael Bublé’s new Christmas album is perfect for inspiring a classy Christmas look.  Check out his rendition of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”.  Fabulous!
Step Two:  Don’t buy too many new things right now. Wait until it’s on clearance; I have nice things because I bought them at 60-80% off.  Most of the ornaments on my tree cost less than $1.00 because I have no problem packing them away for a year right after purchasing them.

Step Three:  Look for things around your house that can be converted into decorations.  I use our martini glasses as décor rather than purchasing new vases to fill with Christmas bulbs.  Instead of buying expensive ‘fillers’, I use ribbon that is left over from gifts from previous years. 

Step Four:  Don’t underestimate the big box stores like Superstore, Walmart, and Canadian Tire.  You can find some beautiful things there for dirt cheap!  To ‘class them up’ a bit, buy a few small items like these diamonds from “Jillian’s” or other local decor shops.

Step Five:  If you have a husband like mine (which is doubtful), he will care about the decorations in your house too.  I had no idea a husband and wife could fight over a color scheme of a Christmas tree.  Last year, we purchased a $30.00 tree so that he could have a Toronto Maple Leaf Christmas Tree in the basement. 

Step Six:  Treat your presents like art.  Consider them to be decorations as this will help jazz up your house very cheaply.  I didn’t have to spend much time at all making a few re-usable boxes and the best part is I bought all the materials besides the paper at various dollar stores. 

Step Seven:  Use candy to decorate.  Christmas candy is beautifully wrapped, so use it to your advantage.  Fill glass vases with it and put it on your kitchen counter or end table.  I’m sure you’ve seen Candy Bars at weddings – it’s the same idea.
Step Eight:  Use the colors in your house to bring out your Christmas color choices.  I do the basement in whites, silvers, and blacks and the upstairs in golds and reds because it matches the walls and furniture.  It really makes things pop and appear as if you have decorated more than you really have. 
Step Nine:  I’m sure you have a few Christmas parties to attend this year, meaning you’ve bought new outfits and accessories.  Use scarves, facsinators, or jewelry as decorations rather than having them sit in a jewelry box in your closet.  I bought a beautiful fascinator from “Cranberry Rose”.  I love it, but it cost more than my dress did (it was only $30, but my dress was $20… Boxing Day… refer to Step Two J).  So, I pinned it to my lamp to make it a bit more festive. 
Step Ten:  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty you have created knowing there is nothing to feel guilty about because you didn’t break the bank this year! 

Thanks to  Adelle for letting me write this week!!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Challenge Remorse

Today is Day 15 of my yoga challenge and I just have one question:

What was I THINKING?!

Trying to do a 40 day yoga challenge at the end of my school semester and the start of the Christmas season was not the brightest decision I have ever made.

At any rate, it's Day 15 and I haven't missed a day of yoga yet. This has meant a few late nights when the BF comes into the room after midnight and wonders what I'm doing with the yoga mat out. He may think I'm starting to go a little bit crazy. Did I say starting? I meant continuing in a regular fashion.

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to attend a class at one of the local yoga studios, Body in Mind Yoga Studio. The studio is beautiful and lends perfectly to a relaxing, zen-filled yoga experience. From the attention to detail in the decor, to the yoga lounge, to the wonderful classes, and of course the fabulous instructors, Body in Mind Yoga Studio is a great place to practice yoga.

Body in Mind offers a plethora of classes at various times of the day to best suit your schedule. They also have yoga props, prayer malas, and more for sale right in the studio. If you don't know what a prayer mala is, click here.

I always leave a session at Body in Mind feeling like my most fabulous self. I bought a pass so hopefully I can get there again soon!!

As hard as it has been to incorporate yoga into my every day life, I feel great after I finish my yoga practice, and I am crediting this challenge to the very small amount of sanity that I am keeping as the last two weeks of my semester commence.

25 days of yoga challenge left!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Yoga Challenge

I love goals.

Not only that....I am a very goal-oriented, list-reliant, obsessed planner.

This is how I trained for 2 half-marathons, this is how I went vegan for 10 days, and this is how I'm getting through grad school. With lists and plans.

My newest goal stems from the idea of a local yoga studio. The Yoga Loft started a 40 days of yoga challenge which I have decided to start on my own. I am in the middle of papers and exams....I have one month left of this semester and in order to get through I need to do something to encourage balance in my life. I'm not entirely sure that doing yoga every day for 40 days is the answer to getting balance, but I'm going to give it a try and I am blogging about it to keep me accountable.

We are lucky enough to have 2 yoga studios in town. The Yoga Loft, and Body in Mind Yoga Studio where I practiced regularly prior to grad school. I am hoping to attend a few classes at each of these studios, and go to Regina to find a hot yoga class.

I plan on doing yoga for a minimum of 20 minutes each day, mostly with the help of my ever-growing collection of yoga dvds.

Today is Day One, and I did this fabulous Yoga Workout:

Mandy Ingber is the creator of Yogalosophy, and as Jennifer Aniston's long-time friend she is credited with sculpting Jen's yoga body.

I love Mandy's two workouts on this dvd because they incorporate yoga and strength training. Love.

39 days to go!



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wintry Surprise

Today I woke up to a nasty surprise.

My goal today was to go for a run outside to "enjoy this wonderful fall weather we continue to keep having".

Alas, Mother Nature had other plans for me.

And so I didn't leave the house until 4:00pm, albeit very begrudingly and only for an hour. And the reason I left the house was in fact to go for a run, although it was of the Starbucks kind:)

Winter is upon us friends. And today I am feeling a tiny flutter in my heart that is saying "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas". Not because of the snow dump, but because the tell-tale Red holiday cup has returned.

Hello friend. Welcome back. I've missed you.

When it gets cold out, I have a tendency to hibernate. And not just because of all the school work I have. I enjoy trying new recipes or just sticking to comfort food.

In light of the recent snowfall I felt a need for comfort food so I made a nice meal for the BF and I. Unfortunately the BF massacred it to look like this:

Some new recipes I have tried:

The Pioneer Woman's Twice Baked Potatoes

Jolene's Burnt Grapes. A delicious and very easy dessert.

Here it is in a nutshell:

Wash 5 cups of seedless red grapes.

Mix 2 cups of sour cream with 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla.

Mix with grapes gently and pour into a 9x13 pan.

Bring 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter to  boil and pour over the grape mixture in the pan.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

A sweet treat on a snowy day.

Food always makes me feel better when the weather is crappy. I may be eating a lot this winter.....


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Quick 'N Dirty Book Review

I LOVE to read.

I am a true book worm through and through. And although readers sometimes have a 'nerdy' rep, I think readers are fabulous.

I find virtually any excuse to pick up a good book or magazine.

Today I picked this up at the grocery store:

I'm clearly not a "Country Woman", but Ree Drummond (who is on the cover) is one of my FAV bloggers so I couldn't resist this $4.99 purchase.

Most of the time, I spend my reading time trying to engage my brain in grad school text books; however, I try to read for fun as much as possible too.

Every once in a while, a reader comes across a book that effects you to your core.

Typically, one of these kinds of books comes around once every few years. I have been lucky enough to find a few this past year:

I finished a book last week that I read in one day that has been officially added to this list. I am usually a slow reader; however. I could. not. put. it. down. A colleague recommended it to me and although I resisted at first because of the serious nature of the subject matter, I gave in and literally devoured it.

Here is it:

Last Sunday is when I read 13 Reasons Why, and I still can't stop thinking about it. It is not a true story, but it is full of real-life scenarios that could happen to anyone. It is a serious read, but it takes a topic that has been ripped from the headlines (for years and years and years) and tells the story in a deeply moving and unexpected way.

Have I piqued your curiousity?

This book is a great book club book, great independent read, great discussion piece.

Read this now!!!

And let me know what you think.

PS....rumour has it a movie is in the works....

Happy Reading!


Monday, October 31, 2011


Today is a very special day for me.

Today is my very first Blog-aversary!

Ok, Ok it's HALLOWEEN too.... but it's also the day that one year ago I decided to procrastinate on a paper and write my first blog post.I LOVE blogging and though I wish I had time to blog more, it's always cathartic and fun to sit down and write a post. So thanks to those of you who have been reading my blog for the past means the world to me!

Ok, now on to HALLOWEEN.

Due to being in grad school and having a midterm tonight, I missed the trick'or'treaters. However, I tried taking in Halloween as much as I could beforehand.

One of my friends had a Halloween party last weekend which I happily dressed up and attended to make up for my lack of Halloween participation today.

Inspired by SkinnyTaste, I made festive low fat chocolate cupcakes to take with me.

Here's what to do:

Buy festive cupcake liners and line your cupcake pan.

Pour a can of pumpkin into a big mixing bowl.

Add a packet of sugar-free chocolate pudding.

And a package of chocolate cake mix. Blend away.

Pour the batter into your festive cupcake liners until they are approximately 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Decorate accordingly. I made mine into cute Mummys with M & M eyes.

They turned out really good!

My friend went all out with decorations, games, and food for us.

Another friend of mine introduced me to a new trend going around some of the family-laden neighbourhoods in our city.

She received a bucket on her front step saying she had been "BOO-ed".

The pics suck because they were taking on my phone. But you get the idea.

The bucket was filled with Halloween treats.

The bucket also had a Mason jar filled with the dry ingredients for Monster Cookies and the recipe attached.

The idea is that my friend has to post the We've Been Boo-ed sign on her door, and make two baskets of her own to anonymously leave on two neighbour's doorsteps.
 I absolutely LOVE this idea and may do it in my own neighbourhood. You could easily do this for other holidays. A bucket of Christmas goodies could have a sign with "We've Been Snow-ed", or a Valentine's Bucket could be "We've Been Kissed". Use your imagination!

I hope you all had a safe and wonderful HALLOWEEN and thanks for reading my blog!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simple Suppers for a Busy Weekend

This weekend was a blur.

A blur of textbooks, my laptop screen, and copious amounts of coffee.

 I like eating healthy most days, but I find that when I am in the middle of a school project my meals typically consist of crackers, cereal and the occasional poptart. My body always regrets it after and I end up feeling guilty for eating so terribly.

This weekend I promised myself I would not let my school work get in the way of eating healthy.

During one of my study breaks, I stumbled upon this wonderful blog. The author's name is Kelly and I love the way she writes, and her healthy recipes that include nutritional information are fabulous.

For suppers this weekend I chose two of Kelly's recipes to experiment with.

The first recipe is Lemon-Rosemary Chicken.

This recipe was so easy to make.

To start, gather your ingredients:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 Tbsp leaves
1 clove garlic, smashed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed halves reserved)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. salt
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees (my oven is super hot so I set it at 400 and cooked it slightly longer). Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Salt the water.

Boil the potatoes over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 tsp. salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife. 

Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, cover and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. 

Turn the chicken; add potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon. Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halves to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

This was such a yummy supper. The BF liked it too which was a miracle in itself. So consider this meal boyfriend friendly!

You can find the original link for this meal here.

After the chicken recipe, I needed to use up the Rosemary I bought, so I made Kelly's Walnut and Rosemary Oven Fried Chicked (substituted with Turkey because I ran out of chicken:)

This recipe proved to be equally as easy and soooo delicious.

Here's what your need:

4 (6 oz) chicken cutlets
1/4 cup fat-free milk
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Cooking spray
Rosemary leaves (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Combine milk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to mixture, turning to coat. 
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko to pan; cook 3 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Do not get distracted and burn the first batch of bread crumbs. It does not smell good.
Combine panko, nuts, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from milk mixture and dredge in panko mixture.

Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees F for 13 minutes or until chicken is done.

I served the turkey with Lemon and Spinach cous cous and a spinach salad.
So delicious, and much more tasty and healthy than a poptart!
If you have time go check out Kelly's blog to scope out some easy, healthy, and yummy recipes!
I hope you had a great weekend!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Great Pumpkin Patch

Thanksgiving long weekend is one of my favourite times of year. Fall is in full swing, and the holiday season is about to commence. I feel that Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the holidays. Thanksgiving-Halloween-Christmas. Once Thanksgiving comes, it's go-time.

This Thanksgiving, I had two family gatherings on Saturday, then headed to the lake with my folks for some rest and relaxation.

With some free time on our hands, we decided to adventure out to Lincoln Gardens, which is a greenhouse outside of Lumsden.

Each year, they harvest an astronomical amount of pumpkins and people from far and wide come to buy up the pumpkins and use the pumpkin patch as a family photo opportunity.

I have never seen anything like it. Pumpkins for as far as the eye could see. It was a very cool sight.

They have areas set up as photo opportunities, or you can just plunk down amidst the pumpkins and pose away.

Mom and I couldn't resist the photo op.

The inside of the greenhouse was decked out in harvest and Halloween decorations.

Also indoors was a Haunted House which I didn't go in. I'm a giant chicken.

The Lincoln Gardens greenhouse sells fresh fruits and veggies well into the fall season and today they were flying off the shelves along with the pumpkins. We bought some cool looking carrots and pickled beets. My favourite.

They were also selling these little beauties.

Fresh caramel apples with sprinkles and white chocolate chips.

I had never tried a caramel apple before and neither had mom so we had to split one.

Oh my gosh. Where have these been my whole my life?! I'm a convert and I can't wait until I can find another excuse to chow down on one of these again.

Next time I'm not sharing.

And so, if you find yourself with free time and you are close to Lumsden, pick up a coffee and then take a road trip to Lincoln Gardens. Bring your camera!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving long weekend!