Thursday, December 12, 2013

Deck the Halls!

Is it getting chilly where you are yet? We just came off of a week of -30 and colder weather, and let me tell you, there's only a few ways to warm things up when you're facing that kind of weather! One of my favourites? Cozy-ing up with a mug of tea in front of the Christmas Tree. (want to try something better than tea? how about this spicy hot chocolate recipe?)  I recently put mine up, and it really brightens the whole room.

However, apart from my tree, the rest of my apartment really doesn't look all that Christmas-y. So I've been looking around for ideas to add some extra jingle to my place.

Maybe a wreath on the door?

This beautiful number would look great all winter long. (buy it here)

Or something to stuff full of gifts come Christmas Morning.

If only I had a mantel to line with stockings! (pick up this lovely number here).

Even just a splash of colour, like a pair of throw cushions or a cherry red blanket can make any room seem all the more festive. 

I'd love to snuggle up with that gorgeous cabled throw. (Who couldn't use a little cashmere?)

At the end of the day there are so many perfect ways to decorate your home for the holidays, and you can scour the pinterest and the internet looking for beautiful, unique and trendy ideas. (Home and Garden TV has shared some of their favourite tips, I particularly like the snow flake curtain at the end, right up my DIY alley). And I just know that one day (in the hopefully not too distant future) I'll have my own house, just stuffed full of bins of Christmas decorations ready to come out on November 1st, just like my mother! Until then, and living in the sometimes cramped corners of a one bedroom apartment, I'll have to be more selective, thinking long and hard over each purchase. I'll look for items that will warm up my apartment all winter long, not only until December 25th. And more importantly, choose decorations that I will be excited to unpack each and every year, like my pretty white tree, and my glitter covered deer!

Is your home decorated for the holidays yet? What do you take into consideration when buying new Christmas decorations? Do you have any favourite pieces that you pull out year after year? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What are you Grateful for? #Blogember 24th

Today's prompt for Blogember is to share 20 things you're grateful for. I thought I'd skip on the words and share 20 photos of some of those things. Once again, you can join in on the fun over at a Happy Girl.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reverse Bucket List #Blogember 23

Lets be honest, I had to look this one up, I mean I'm aware of what a bucket list is (an epic movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. But I've never done a reverse bucket list before.

So I googled around some blogs and read some pretty amazing reverse bucket lists. All you have to do is make a list of things you've already acomplished and are proud of. The idea is that we spend too much time looking at things we haven't done yet, and not enough time celebrating the milestones we've already achieved.

So here's my reverse bucket list.

1. Potty train (good thing I checked that one off early in life!)

2. Win best oral in my school in Grade 3, leading to me reciting it before the mayor of the city! (pretty impressive for a kid who broke out into tears during her oral 2 years prior!)

3. Win Female athletic award at Grade 8 Graduation, awesome Grade 7 teacher feels the need to point out that I'm also one smart cookie who placed 3rd in a city wide math test, and that if our school had had math and science awards I would have got them too! Thank you Mr. Huckson!

4. Boldly go were non of my besties have gone before, and played highschool basketball, captained the team and won NOSSA championship in Grade 10. Thank you North Bay Dairy Queen for the ice cream cake with a picture of a rocket on it, reading NASA Champs!

5. Defy mother, dye hair blondish before Christmas. This would be the first in a long line of unfavourable (to her) hair dying projects. Years later I'd dip dye teal and never hear the end of it. (love you mom!!)

7. Travelled to Europe for the first time at the tender age of 16 with high school art class. Got first kind of Boy Friend on trip.... dumped him shortly thereafter. Fell in love with travelling instead. Have crossed the 'pond' 3 more times since then.

6. Travel across Canada on 24 hours notice with a group of kids I'd never met before because a seat on a YMCA trip to PEI opened up....incidentally, died hair red in a dorm bathroom on that trip.

7. High school graduation,  award for Women in Science, date to prom, host after prom party in my back yard. Best friend pukes on side of garage. Other best friend pukes of deck. Overall, a success.

8. Move across Ontario all by my self to go to McMaster University. Set record for most stuff packed into a dorm room. Survive first year classes of 500+ students, write and present award winning biology project on Hamilton public transit system.

9. Despite going to Uni not knowing a soul, over next four years make some of the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. Have uncountable adventures, make memories to cherish for a lifetime.

10. Work for Sea Lamprey Control, learn to operate a hydrolic arm, launch a boat, reverse a trailer, electrofish, wade in rapids, which a truck out of a collapsed ditch and survive a high speed rollover off the highway. Unconventional life skills. Develop strong sense of bravery and self reliance.

11. Accepted into BioPharm program, as 1 or 20 successful candidates. Embark on a path that will eventually lead to my current position. Work co-op placement at Environment Canada, spend first summer away from home. Parents buy me pretty blue Honda.

12. Interview for year long co-op position at University of Calgary. Move half away across the country in January. Have an amazing year falling in love with science. Commit to PhD.

13. Defend a 4.0 thesis project, present at a national science meeting, graduate with Honours and on the Deans list, celebrate by going back to Europe with one best friend to visit another. Enjoy last summer before adulthood, spending as much time with family as possible.

14. Move back to Calgary, into first all mine apartment, get first scratch on car, first dental bill I have to pay myself, freezer breaks and kills hours worth of amazing Italian cooking. Learn to cope with audulthood, succeed mostly.

15. Enjoy some of the most incredible experiences of my life, celebrate my 20s with publications, travel for work and for play, running, hiking, knitting, blogging....... give and receive more love than ever.

So that may have strayed away from a conventional reverse bucket list, and more into a reminiss over the last 25 years. Obviously there are too many things to include, but the moral of the story is when I stop to think about it, I have had an amazing, big, exciting life so far. Have there been hitches along the way, of course, am I accomplishing every little goal I set out to, maybe not, but I am having an amazing time along the way.

Thanks for letting me share it all with you all! And Happy Thanksgiving to all my American Readers!


This has been a Blogember post, you can join in over at A Happy Girl.

Friday, November 22, 2013

All Around the World #Blogember 22

This month I'm writing posts for Blogember, you can join in on the fun over at A Happy Girl.

Today's Prompt is travel, 10 places you've been to or want to go to. Or if you're feeling fun, half and half.

5 Places I've been:

1. New York, New York in Feb 2009 for my 21st birthday.

2. Budapest, Hungary in May 2011 (You touch the gold part on the statue for good luck!)

3. Aspen, Colorado, June 2012 for a FASEB Smooth Muscle meeting.

4.Maui, Hawaii, July 2012 for a Sara and Sarah trip!

5. Havana, Cuba, March 2013 with the boy, and a much needed break from winter.

So those are just a handful of the places I've been in the last few years, here's 5 that I'm going to try to hit up in the next few.

1. San Diego, California, April 2014 for Experimental Biology, and hopefully a road trip along the coast.

2. Kyoto, Japan, September 2015 for a Microcirculation Meeting, and hopefully a trip to nearby (relatively speaking)

3. Australia....really any and all of it. Basically, if I'm going to be on the other side of the world, I better go to more than  one place.

4. Mexico....sometime soon... to celebrate a wedding, date has yet to be set.

5. Alaska, Road Trip from Calgary...this one's been on my western Canada bucket list since I moved out here.

Where do you want to travel to next?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A day in my life #blogember

Oops! retroactive posting...but lets be fair my Thursday was busy!

Posting everyday in November (or at least a post for every day in November) with Blogember hosted over at a Happy Girl! Check it out!

A day in my life in and out of my lab coat!

7:00: alarm goes off, snooze and cuddle for an extra hour
8:00: Wake up, drag self out of warm blanket cocoon and into ice cold room to get ready for the day. Occasion dart back into blankets.
9:00:Annual check up, all in good health.
10:00: Wait for 30min to refill inhaler script at campus pharmacy. That's right kids, apparently I have asthma when I run.
11:00: Jugo Juice for breakfast lunch, acai protein smoothie, and the chicken Caesar snacking wrap. Walk on over to Foothills Campus in the lab.
12:00: Experiments on the pressure myograph, vessels 1 fails
1:00: Vessel 2 fails
2:00: Vessel 3 fails
3:00: Vessel 4 fails...clean up. So frustrating to do the kind of science that every so often you have a day when nothing works, for no apparent reason!
4:00: Prep samples for a weekend worth of western blots, requires both shakers and the cold room down the hall.
5:00: Head home from the lab, eat some oatmeal quick fast, drive across SW to tutoring apt.
6:00: Tutoring chemistry for an hour, student 1.
7:00: Drive across the SW to second tutoring apt, stopping at another Jugo Juice for a mighty kale smoothie and classic chicken snacking wrap.
8:00: Tutoring chemistry for an hour student 2.
9:00: Drive home, call mother and boyfriend, snuggle into couch just in time for Grey's.
10:00: Grey's Anatomy is on, do not disturb.
11:00: Get into bed with a book, exhausted, fall asleep before finishing even one chapter.

You can see why I didn't manage to get this post up on Thursday, my days often get a little bit crazy like that!

What's a typical day in your life look like? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My 5 favourite apps on my new BlackBerry Q10 #blogember

If you follow me on Twitter (@Turner_SR) you might know two things about me (well hopefully more than just 2) but 1) I'm a BlackBerry girl and 2) I traded up my Torch for the Q10 last month.

And I couldn't be happier with the choice. For 1, I am a buttons girl, I when I am answering emails all day long on my phone while I run around the lab, I don't want to have to mess with a touch screen (which isn't particularly glove friendly). For 2, I had my Torch for the full 3 years of my contract, never had a case on it, dropped it about a million times and never had any issue with it, no cracked screens, no broken charging jack, nothing. BlackBerry's are indestructible, no need for a 60 dollar otter box here. And for 3, after my mail in $50 rebate, I paid only $29 dollars for my brand new phone. I just can't wrap my mind around the idea of signing up for a contract to get your phone, and still having to spend nearly $300 (iphones I'm looking at you). Plus even my iphone toting boyfriend admits, the Q10 is one slick phone.

Today's post for Blogember is to tell your 5 favourite apps, and for everyone who thinks Blackberry isn't app friendly, well here goes:

1. Twitter for BlackBerry10: Does everything twitter does online, plus pushes notifications through to my Hub. I don't know what else to say, it's Twitter, I check it about a dozen times a day, and it works smooth and fast and leaves nothing to be desired.

2. Toshl Finance: A great spending and budget tracking app. I wrote a post on this one not too long ago Here. With the ability to tag your spending so you can track where your money is going, I'd highly recommend it as we go into the holiday (read spend all your money and max out your credit cards) season. Available on all operating systems and online.

3.Instagram: But wait...this doesn't exist for BlackBerry...or does it, I've got an older side loaded version that works mostly great! Still love it tho!

4. RBC for BlackBerry10: It can't be all fun and games, and this app lets me do pretty much all of my banking without ever having to get out of bed. To take a line from TD, banking really can be that comfortable.

5. Keep Calm...and Chive on, the Chive is a great way to waste time looking at hilarious pictures (or girls making questionable life choices, I just avoid those threads).

Anyways those are probably the 5 apps I use the most on my phone right now. What are you favourite apps?

This has been a post for Blogember, hosted by A Happy Girl, to see the rest of the month, click on the image below and join in!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Share your favourite recipe #blogember

Today's Blogember Prompt is to share your favourite recipes. Now, that is pretty difficult for me, since I love to cook and bake, and I wouldn't want to share a recipe I've already done on my blog. So let's go with something recent and delicious.

Cinnamon Buns...or as my late grandmother called them "Sticky Wicky's". (at least that's a memory I seem to have about them!)

Not wanting to trust dough to rise in dry old Calgary, I of course do the dough in my bread machine.


1 cup milk
3 tbsp water
1 egg
1/4 butter
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups flour
2 tsp dry active yeast

Put all that into the bread machine in the order above, and run the dough setting...which takes about an hour and a half.

 Turn the dough out, and let it rest covered with a big bowl for 10-15 minutes.


Then knead and fold the crap out of it, enjoy the process, punch it as hard as you can, it's a particularly shock absorbing dough!

Roll it out flat (I had to separate min into halves for this due to small working area) and spread with filling.

Filling Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
shake a liberal amount of cinnamon into it (to taste).

Then roll it on up, cut it into pieces (scissors work best!) and nest into a well buttered baking dish. I had enough left over for 4 bonus giant rolls.

Bake at 350' for 25 minutes. It's OK to under bake a little...that's the secret to the best cinnamon rolls!

For my icing I mixed 1 stick of light cream cheese with about a cup of icing sugar, a bit of milk and some vanilla....I was just winging it here and suggest you do too!

And of course I was way to excited to eat them to take a picture of the finished product!

What have you been baking up lately?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Freedom #Blogember 4

Last night I was taking time before bed to read through some of the blogs which I follow. I used to do this nearly every day. Lately it seems that I barely find the time to write for my own blog, let alone to read others.

One of those blogs, Running with Ollie, had up a post for a blog everyday in November commitment (ie #Blogember) and I thought this seems great. Especially since I had clearly missed the more commonly partaken Blogtober.

Blogember is being hosted by A Happy Girl, someone who's blog I only came across for the first time yesterday, but in taking the time to read some of her posts and story's I can only imagine is the kind of incredible woman I aspire to be more like. I highly recommend you check out not only Blogember on her blog, but also her story as well!

And clearly I've already missed the first 3 days.... I promise to go back to them later! But for now here's #Blogember 4th.

Write for Five Minutes on the Prompt: Freedom

I am blessed with freedoms. Born in raised in Canada, to a family who gave me every love and privilege I could ever have wanted, with good health, good genes, smart enough to pursue any career I could imagine. Countless young women, both local and abroad, struggle for these kinds of freedoms every day. I am blessed with freedoms.

However, sometimes, we take our freedoms for granted, and we limit ourselves unnecessarily. I must admit, I don't always live up to my freedom.

I often allow self doubt to restrict me.

I often allow free of failing to restrict me.

I often allow other people's expectations to restrict me.

I often allow societal norms to restrict me.

I often allow my compulsive need to never put myself first to restrict me.

In doing so, I limit my freedom, I restrict myself.

Its a very scary thing to be completely free to pursue what ever life you might want to have. When faced with endless possibility, we often freeze like a deer in the headlights, wishing for the comforts of having other people make our choices for us.

It takes courage to be free. Whether you are fighting to gain basic freedoms. Or whether you are blessed with them already and just need to let yourself take advantage of them.

I need to strive to be more courageous, to allow myself to be completely free.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Are you a beer drinker? I only became one in the last few years, and although I seriously enjoy a good microbrew, my go to order (much to my supervisor's constant displeasure) is a Coors Light. I'm not a dark beer drinker, and a pint of Guinness is just about the last thing you'll see in my hand. But when in Ireland, you really just don't have a choice. So here's a couple pictures from my recent tour of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.

If you're staying in down town Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse is a brief walk away at St. Jame's Gate, the building itself, over 110 years old, is held via a 9000 year lease to Sir Aurthur Guinness. Who apparently had quite a bit of faith in the longevity of his brand and beer.

The self guided tour gives you plenty of visuals, and lots to read about the history of Guinness, the making of beer (and the wooden casks it used to ship in) and the history of the many iconic Guinness adverts. Admission was about 15 euros, and included a pint, which you could learn to pour yourself in the Guinness Academy or you could head up to the 360' view Gravity Bar on the top floor.

I opted for learning how to get that perfect pint of black beer and creamy head! And then brought it upstairs to enjoy the view as well!

And you have to believe me when I say, it's true, there's something extra special about the way Guinness tastes when you're right there in Dublin!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blog every day in November - #blogember

I'm setting myself the challenge of participating this month in Blogember, a post a day challenge set up over at A Happy Girl blog. Lately I've been meaning to get back into posting more freaquently, and it just hasn't been happening, so hopefully by participating in something like this, I'll get back into the habit.

You can check out the full list of posts by clicking the picture above, or check in to see who else is linking up. In the mean time, I'll be using this post to check off and link up each of my posts for this month.

November 1: One of the best lessons life has shown you
November 2: Favourite inspiring quote
November 3: 5 favourite blogs
November 4: Write for 5 minutes on the prompt: Freedom
November 5: Share a favourite recipe (can be yours or someone else's just make sure to give credit)
November 6: 5 favourite apps
November 7: A day in your life
November 8: 5 minutes on the prompt: Time
November 9: 5 favourite places to shop online
November 10: A time when you felt unstoppable
November 11: 3 albums you would take in a deserted island
November 12: Your first pet
November 13: An epiphany you had this summer
November 14: 10 photos on 10 past the hour
November 15: Favourite Halloween costume of yours
November 16: 6 word memoir
November 17: Favourite year in elementary school and why
November 18: Happiest moment of your life
November 19: First job
November 20: Your first concert
November 21: 5 unique facts about you
November 22: 10 places you would love to visit (or have visited)
November 23: Reverse bucket list
November 24: 20 things you are grateful for
November 25: A love letter to yourself
November 26: Favourite teacher in your life
November 27: A book that honestly changed your life
November 28: Your life's soundtrack
November 29: Your take on the prompt Be Ridiculous
November 30: If you wrote your memoir, what would the title be and why?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Harry and Lloyd for Halloween

This weekend, many of us will be costuming up, downing some drinks and celebrating one of my all time favourite holidays, Halloween.

From when I was just a kid, I would often have my costuming planned out months in advance, spend many an October Evening fighting with my sewing machine and rock an epic costume come Trick-or-Treating time. Last year I shared the past 5 or so Halloween costumes I've put together, some of which required hours of sewing and ordering bits on ebay months in advance.

Despite the hours I put into it, I only have one solo pic of this costume...taken in the kitchen!

This year was different. A mere 3 days before our Halloween Party, and I still had no idea what I'd be dressing as. Why? Couple Costumes!

I've never done a couple costume before, and this year Kev and I decided we would do one....months ago.

We tossed ideas back and forth, I put together photo collages of great couple costumes from the internet. We just couldn't seem to fall in love with any one idea.

One of 4 photo collages I sent Kev to help us decide... to no avail.

So, Wednesday evening I put my foot down, and insisted we were going out and were not coming home until we had costumes. We headed to a costume shop, and although normally I despair of the idea of buy over priced premade polyester costumes, we saw the pair of these and couldn't walk away from them!

Which just goes to show you.... I sure can rock a top hat!

And just in case you're still not sure who we were dressed as (don't feel bad, you might be born after 1994 as some of the people out at the bar last night were) here's a clip to help you out:

What are you for Halloween this year? Have you had success with couple costumes in the past?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Keeping a Budget with TOSHL

Something which I and (if watching any of Gail Vas-Oxlade's shows on SLICE has anything to say about it) most of my generation have a problem with, it's managing our personal finances, staying within a budget and saving for our future. While I may not be struggling under thousands of dollars of credit card debt and student loans, managing my finances for me mostly amounts to running my account perilously close to zero in between paychecks and occasionally calling up the bank of mom and dad. That being said, I'm probably doing better than many of my Grad Student Peers, however considering I'm officially closer to 30 than I am to 20, it's probably a good time to grow up a little as far as finances are concered.

So,what does any 20-something perpetually attached to their laptop and/or smart phone think when they want to start spending and saving smarter? "There's an App for that!" (which I see is an Apple Trademark... yeesh).

The App I went with... available on my Blackberry Q10 (as well as iOS, Android, Windows etc.)...

With Toshl (and I upgraded to Pro, for $19.99....but you can get a 20% discount if you share on twitter and facebook) you can track you expences and incomes, set yourself monthly bugets, tag your spending to see where your money is going, and track it all from your phone or your web browser. And a whole lot more, check out their website.

In my first month of using the free app, the daily ritual of inputing every dollar spent (from hydro bills, to that $2 tea every other morning) brings to light just how much money you can frivolously spend away without realizing it. Much like with counting callories in the kitchen, holding myself accountable to track my spending, naturally reduced it.

As I move forward, I plan to begin to fully utilize the budgeting features, with an aim to have money's going into my savings at the end of each month, and keeping that credit card balance at zero.

Now in an unrelated note about TOSHL, here's some information I stumbled upon on their blog that I found very interesting.

TOSHL put together an infographic separating it's biggest earners and it's biggest spenders by country and by operating system. Australia and iPhones came out on top, logging the biggest incomes and the EU and iphones were the highest spenders.

Although the TOSHL app balances your budget to let you know if you are in the plus or minus at the end of the month, the infographic neglected to show this, much more important piece of information and how it varies between demographics. So, after a few minutes in Excel, here we have it:

While Canada may not be earning the most money, we aren't spending nearly as much of it... coming out on average close to 600 dollars in the black each month. Compared to our neighbours to the south, doing nearly as much in the red.

And split up based on what kind of phone you have... well Windows phone users appear to be the only ones not accumulating debt. iOS lovers run close to $550 in the negative each month! And I'd like to think if they were showing data for blackberry lovers, we'd be making money (maybe more than the company even!)

Now of course this data is only reflective of finances being tracked on the app, and some users may only be tracking their spending, but it still gives you something to think about next time you go buy a cell phone!

What methods or apps do you employ to track your spending and manage your personal finances? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear your tricks!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Things to do in Calgary - Nose Hill

The other day, Kev and I enjoyed some beautiful fall weather, and went for a walk around Nose Hill. If you haven't been up there before, whether to pick nick in the summer, bike in the spring or trail run through the fall, you're missing out. Here's a few picks of the beautiful view.