Saturday, December 20, 2014

Namasaturday 03: #JustBePresent

In these last crazy days before Christmas, it's easy to loose track of the present in our focus on preparing for the big day. Last minute gifts to buy, gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, houses to clean, people to visit all leave us rushing around from place to place without stopping to focus on the path and the moment.

That's why the hastag #JustBePresent has been all over the yogis of instagram this month. And yoga is certainly great for putting you mind in the moment when your in a class or on your matt.

But what about the rest of the time. I mean I certainly won't fold myself over into downward dog in the middle of my work Christmas party. But you can take some lessons from the matt anywhere you go over the holidays.

How to Just Be Present this Christmas.

1) Root firmly through all of your toes. Take a minute to practice Samasthiti or Equal Standing Posture by standing tall, weight balanced evenly between both legs. Root down into the floor by thinking about the way each of your toes, the ball and heels of your feet are in contact with the ground. This even works in those painful red heels that looked so perfect with your party dress. Doing this reminds us to stay grounded, and gives a momentary break from the rush and the moving to appreciate the moment.

2) Focus on your breath. Practice Pranayama or Yoga breathing. Maybe you won't make the darth vadar sounds in the back of your throat, but when your running around your house like a chicken before guests arrive, taking a step back to focus on your breathing can really slow things down and put them into perspective. Maybe it's ok that you didn't dust behind the down stairs sink, and that your bedroom is a mess (close the door). Take a second to breath and remember that the holidays are about spending time with the people you love, and who will love you back regardless of whether the table settings are perfectly aligned.

3) Look at things from a different perspective. We all love yoga inversions. So while you could do a head stand in front of your tree and enjoy it from the bottom up. You can also try to change the way you look at the holidays. Put yourself in your child's point of view and remember the things that made Christmas so special to you when you were growing up. Maybe it was stringing popcorn and cranberry garlands with your cousins? Bring back an old tradition. Surrounded by all the opulence of the holidays, try to look at Christmas through the eyes of the less fortunate, and donate some of the toys your kids have grown out of, or volunteer your time serving dinner at a shelter. There are so many ways to look at the holidays, take a moment to invert your perspective.

If you celebrate Christmas, then have a very Merry One. If you don't then best of wishes over the holiday season, and I'll see you all in the new year.


Inverting my own perspective at Lake Louise on December 14th.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Saw this quiz/survey thingy on Bex's blog, and had to fill it out myself. Also it reminded me of the Barenaked Ladies song Four Seconds, so here's the youtube video for that.

1. Four names that people call me, other than my real name:
  • Turner
  • Turnz
  • SARS (yes like the disease -shakes head)
  • Squirrel (Kevin only)
2. Four jobs I have had:
  • Shoppers Drugmart  employee
  • Sea Lamprey Control
  • Environment Canada Freshwater Mussel Immunotoxicologist
  • Grad Student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cardiovascular Research
3. Four movies I have watched more than once:
Clearly there are way more than four here, so I went with the Christmas Movies I watch every year.
  • Elf
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • A Christmas Story
  • Love Actually
4. Four Books I recommend:
  • Yes Please (Amy Poehler)
  • Bossy Pants (Tina Fey)
  • Let's Pretend this Never Happened (Jenny Lawson)
  • Grace's Guide (Grace Helbig)
5. Four places I have lived:
  • Orangeville, Ontario (Birth through first year of life)
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (age 1-18)
  • Hamilton, Ontario (18-23)
  • Calgary, Alberta (All of 2010, Sept 2011-present)
6. Four Places I have been:
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Hawaii
  • London (UK)
7. Four places I would rather be right now:
  • On a beach
  • Hiking somewhere lush
  • Curled up in front of a fireplace
  • Curled up in my own bed
8. Four things I don’t eat:
  • Spicy food
  • Moderately Spicy food
  • Foods other people consider mild but have a tiny kick
  • Large pieces on mushrooms in things
9. Four of my favourite foods:
  • Garlic
  • Cheese
  • Perogies
  • Deep Fried Ravioli's
10. Four TV Shows I watch:
OK, it's an embarrassing list, but these are the only four show's I'm keeping current on this year, everything else I binge watch on Netflix later.
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Biggest Loser
  • America's Next Top Model
11. Four things I am looking forward to next year:
  • Mud Hero blog meet up (I stole this one off Bex's list, but I can't wait too!)
  • Wanderlust in Hawaii
  • Kevin finishing Med School and finding out what city we'll live in next
  • World Microcirculation Congress in Japan in the fall.

12. Four things I am always saying:
  • In answer to the question how are things 'Busy'
  • In answer to the question how is grad school 'Busy'
  • In answer to the question how if life 'Busy'
  • BLORFT (see Tina Fey quote below)
But seriously, despite the busyness, and the stress, and the blorft, things are great, and I can't wait for the holidays. I'm not a fan of tagging specific people, so whoever wants to borrow this post idea go right ahead.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Black Friday Shopping Spectacular

Well really it wasn't that spectacular, but I did get a couple good deals (and paid full price for something too).

First off, can we take a second to reflect on how ridiculous Black Friday has become here in Canada. I mean we all know its bat sh!t crazy in the States, and pretty much has been since the dawn of time right? I mean isn't the tradition that the Native Americans brought corn to the hungry pilgrims and then everyone camped out in front of Walmart with their pepper spray, and little Billy got trampled in the rush for a play station the next day. And that boys and girls is the history of thanksgiving.

But in Canada we celebrated our turkey day ages and ages ago! We don't have a last Thursday in November holiday. But we do apparently have Black Friday now.

And it didn't always used to be this way.

I grew up in a boarder town (shout out to the Soo), and ever since I was a little kid, Canadians by the bus load (literally, they arrange buses for these shopping trips) would cross the boarder on Black Friday morning, and go shop the sales at the outlets in Birch Run and West Branch (oooh Michigan). My mom and her friends go down every year, although often a week before or after, when there are still good sales to be had, but significantly less risk of bodily harm.

But in the last 3 years I watched Black Friday in Canada go from "Yeah some stores are going to have sales, especially places the sell electronics." to "malls are all opening early, even the teashop has a sale going on, and hold on to Billy's hand because things are about to get crazy."

Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I mean this year we had a pretty gross bit of snow storm and rough road conditions and the mall was at least twice as packed as it was last year.

But there you have it, I was definitely at the mall (despite my should have known better instincts) and made some purchases and observations.

Shopping list this year included:

-New Laptop
-New winter boots
-New winter coat
-Lululemon .....well just because

The new laptop.

My hunking 3 year old Toshiba, originally purchased regular price $300, so you know it was a quality computer, crapped out this summer. We tried to revive it, and got it working again, but it's been running in a 'I might just die completely at any second' way since. So I decided I'd go out on the Monday before Black Friday to shop around, so if there seemed like there was going to be an awesome deal, I'd be ready.

And that's how I found out about VIP at Future Shop. The sales rep in the computer department took down a list of the computer's I was interested in, along with my price range and phone number. He told me that if any of them went on sale for Friday, he'd call me when he saw the flyer on Wednesday, and we could make a VIP appointment on Thursday so I could buy it without the crush of the crowds or waits in line.

Long story short, I got the Lenovo Yoga I'd been coveting for the last year, for a $180 off, and I love it already. (It's still on sale through December 4th online).

Isn't it fun? it runs Windows 8.1, has a touch screen, and hinges all the way around. Plus it fits in my bag, and doesn't weigh a tonne.

New Winter Boots and Coat

My old boots and coat combo were a Christmas gift from my mom in 2009, right before moving to Calgary for the first time in January 2010. The Sorrel boots and Roots jacket have gotten me through some pretty cold winter days since then, but it was finally time for replacements.

For the boots of course I went back with Sorrels, the beautiful Joan of the Artic's in slate grey.
For the coat, well this was a tough one, you see I have a theory about winter coats. I think that because people have gone nuts and started spending 600-700 bucks on Canada Goose Jackets on mass last winter, this year all good winter coats are suddenly crazy expensive. I picked up four or five that I liked that were at least $400. Yeesh.
Finally I settled on this one by Columbia, which was marked down $100 bucks off to a comfortable $200 price range.
I even tested it this weekend (with the boots) when I walked to Tim's for breakfast in the feel's like -30 weather. Nice and toasty warm without sweating under your layers.
Lululemon.....Just Because
Lulu does a respectable amount of marking down on Black Friday (in store only I think?) It's like the hoard a months worth of regular mark downs and then put them all out on one day. This year however, it was pretty clear they produced merchandise specifically to be marked down on Black Friday. And most of it looked a little sad, like it was not quite up to Lulu standards. This included a pair of all black (waste band included) astro pants marked down to $49. Half of what they usually cost. So even tho I didn't need them I tried on a pair. But I'm going to be honest, the fabric didn't feel quite right. It was heavier than usual, and felt stiff. Maybe this is just status quo since all those issues with see through black pants, but I suspect this was just an example of lower quality merch produced to be put on sale. There were also some ugly sweater jacket things, and these flimsy wrap shirts that I had no desire to try on.
But do not doubt the might of the Lululemon marketing machine, because the night before Black Friday, this went up on their instagram

And I was all like, Lululemon and sparkles!!!!! Yep, I want that. And so I bought something at full price, on Black Friday, and that's what I have to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Still alive and kicking

Tis the season of the pre-Christmas rush. When deadlines pile up, tho not nearly as fast as assorted gift swaps and secret santas. When days keep getting shorter and to-do lists keep getting longer. When you have a dozen or so holiday parties to attend in the 20 days before you fly back to Ontario. When you might strangle yourself in the pile of yarn waiting to be knit up into gifts.

Any ways, my day planner has filled up, and so my blog has been collecting some dust. Throw into all of that binge watching my way through Gilmore Girls on Netflix in every one of my spare minutes, while developing early arthritis in my hands from the frantic knitting, and you have a justifiable reason for my lack of posts over the last couple weeks.

Never fear tho, this weekend I am taking some real down time, just for me, and promise to have some exciting posts just for you too!

Happy American Turkey Day, and don't forget to take some down time for yourself on this rush towards Christmas.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Super Easy Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

I whipped up these cookies the other day for three reasons.

1. I picked up a new silicon baking sheet and wanted to try it.
2. Kevin gave me a jar of chunky peanut butter (I always buy smooth) and he insisted it was better.
3. I was having a kind of blue day, and well coookies make everything better.

So here they are:

Super Easy Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep Time 5-10 min
Baking Time 13 min
Makes 35 small cookies.

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter.

Add in 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, mix.

Add in one large egg and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix.

Add 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. At this point you can continue to mix with you mixer, or as I inevitably need to do with cookie dough, flour up your clean hands and get right in there.

The dough should be able to come together in a ball, then you're ready to portion it out. I shaped my cookies into about toonie sized circles, and spaced them evenly on my baking tray. They will spread a little when they bake, but not too much.

And into the oven (preheated to 350') they go, for 13 minutes. When you take them out you can just slide the silicone sheet with the cookies off the baking tray and onto the table to cool.

Throw the cooled cookies into a tin, and deliver them to your boyfriend who is stressing over CaRMS applications, and enjoy!

Verdict on the silicone baking sheet, nice alternative to parchment paper, prevented burning of the bottoms of the cookies, pain in the arse to clean in the sink. (Nothing sticks but the buttery cookies left little oily circles behind).

Verdict on the chunky peanut butter? If it's all you have, go ahead and use it. The effect is similar to adding chopped peanuts to a regular recipe. I'm not a fan tho, and will stick to smooth in the future!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Spontaneously Registered for Mud Hero 2015, Red Deer!

I was just reading through some blogs by fellow Albertans and noticed there were a stream of posts the other day about Mud Hero 2015, in Red Deer. Looks like Becky over at the Bex Factor had the great idea to get a bunch of us bloggers out for a run come August. Since I ran with her once here in Calgary ages ago, and had a great time! I thought of course I'll sign up for this.

Colour me Rad, Calgary, 2013...they rescheduled it due to the flood, and my whole team 
dropped out, lucky Becky was happy to invite me out with hers!

So you can check out the details over at The Bex Factor, we're running Saturday August 8th at 10AM, and if you don't register soon (before the 14th, the price will go up). 

Can't wait to see you all there (August is soooo far away tho!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3rd annual pumpkin carve off

Every year we gather friends, pumpkins, beers and shots and partake in a carve off, complete with shot gunning beers, and half time mystery shots.

The first year in, I went simple, with an elongated pumpkin.

That first year there were only six of us, we carved on the back deck at Kevin's and the weather was even kind of nice.

In 2013, we stepped up the game, and went from 6 to 12 carvers. We all planned in advance, scouring the internet for inspiration pumpkins. I even experimented with shaping and two toned carving.

Producing this masterpiece! The rest of the feild looked pretty awesome too. I've opted to sensor some of the pumpkins, alcohol and boys in their 20s often leads to NSFW pumpkins.

This year we faced a potential set back, as Kevin and I drove from store to store on Halloween looking for pumpkins that were nowhere to be found in the all of Calgary. Lucky for us a friend new of a farm that was getting rid of pumpkins cheep on November 1st, and they picked up 15 for the carve off.

I decided to go art pumpkin, and freehand carved a pumpkin version of Vincent van Gogh`s The Starry Night.

Which looks O.K. unlit, but with three candles inside and in the dark, it really shines!

And the rest of the pumpkin feild looked great too! Complete with a couple minions, tinker bell and grumpy cat!

After all that pumpkin carving, we thru our Halloween costumes on and celebrated. You can find some of my past costumes here and here. This year, on short notice, I decided to celebrate the Turtle BackPack that Kevin got me for Christmas last year, and went as Raphael!

You can find an amazing how-to video on making your own Ninja Turtle costume on the Thread Banger youtube channel... not that I followed it, but it did inspire me!

And what did Kevin go as? A Taco! Not really a couple costume, but oddly enough the colours matched!

Hope you all had happy halloweens! What did you dress up as?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekend Project: Fruit Crate Shelf

Friday afternoon I wandered into Zoe's Store on 14th, a great little thrift store, always full on inspiration, and picked up a simple wooden fruit or veggie crate for $12. (They had a sturdier 25 dollar option, but I thought this ricketier one had more charm).

Since shabby chic is all the rage right now, you can find thousands of ideas for what to do with these crates on Pinterest. I thought to make a shelf  out of mine.

Coming to me as is though, meant it needed some work.

I pulled out some old nails, and added some new ones.

Gave it a serious scrubbing (the clear water in the pail was practically mud by the time I was through.

I resisted the temptation to paint it, wanting to salvage the original labeling on top.

And instead gave the inside a coat of a deep mahogany stain (two in one stain and polyurethane sealant).

Added some brackets for easy hanging and threw it up on the wall.

Furnished it with an ikea lantern, and a pair of milk bottles, not to mention some fresh fruit, and there you have it, a quick and easy weekend project in the bag!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Namasaturday 02: Late night mental yoga.

My favourite part my yoga practice is taking savasana at the end. After an hour and 15 of focussing on my breath as I move through each posture, savasana is the clearest my mind ever is. So peaceful.

Thursday night I was woken up by my cell phone ringing with some unfortunate news, and afterwards I thought there'd be no way to hush the noise in my head and fall back asleep afterwards. I thought to myself that I needed the peace of savasana, but wasn't about to hop out of bed to run through some sun salutations. So instead I tried some mental yoga instead.

First I chanted (with my thoughts) the opening chant to the Ashtanga Practice. And then I began to do sun salutations. Counting my breath, and visualizing the movements.

Inhale, hands go up.
Exhale, fold forward.
Inhale, chest and eyes look up.
Exhale, jump back, chaturanga.
Inhale, up dog.
Exhale down dog.
Take five long breaths.
At the end of your exhale, bend your knees and look forward.
Inhale, jump forward look up.
Exhale, bend forward.
Inhale, hands go up.
Exhale, samasthiti.

Going through these mental sun salutations calmed both my body and my mind. Eventually I was able to get some sleep.

Today is a reminder that yoga is available to you both on and off the mat. Even if you have not physically practiced in a few days.

And with that I'll leave you with the translation of the ashtange closing chant, the words of which seem particularly appropirate with everything going on in the world these days.

May all be well with mankind.
May the leaders of the earth protect it in every way by keeping to the right path.

May there be goodness for those who know the earth is sacred.
May all the worlds be happy.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Thank God for Cats on the Internet!

Sometimes you just need something to make you smile.

Or to help you get through Friday and make it to the weekend.

Or to do both.

Good Mythical Morning (on YouTube) drew my attention over to just now. And I can't click away, or do I want to.

It's basically a website that loads a random GIF of a cat, set to music. And it's different every time you reload. And they are all purrfection (see what I did there?).
 So click on over to the webiste and enjoy. Then go and hug someone you love today. Have a happy Friday!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'm about to go over to the dark side.

I am on my way out the door to get my very own Costco membership. And it makes me want to die a little inside.On the other hand, I can't wait to come home with a lifetime supply of pickles, and devour them in less than a month.

Hopefully by waiting until after dinner it won't be a zoo?

Who am I kidding, it's going to be rediculous, at least Kevin is coming for emotional support.

Some other things that happened today.

1)For the 3rd time this week I spooned jam onto my toast, then washed the spoon before spreading the jam.

2) I started reading Grace's Guide Book (the art of pretending to be a grown up) and love!

3) I bought this for a couple of bucks.... I can feel a weekend project coming on!

That's all for now, Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Crochet Corner: Floor Cushion

When I have to start new things (and I'm procrastinating on them) I sometimes find a related task I like better, to do first. For instance to work on writing project for school, I certainly didn't decide I needed a new work area and then spend a day wandering ikea and assembling a desk and lamp. I mean that doesn't sound like me.

So as part of my goal of leading a more yogic life style, I decided I should give meditation a try. Which of course means I need a cozy floor cushion to sit on while I do it. So naturally that means a whole new crochet project (and not actual time spend meditating yet).

So here's the finished product.

And here's the pattern.

Solid round bottom side (12 rounds):
Round 1: Using a super bulky weight yarn in main colour, and a 6.5mm (K) hook, chain 4 and then make 11 DC into fourth chain from hook (12 DCs)
Round 2: 2 DC into each DC (24 DCs)
Round 3: *1 DC into first DC, 2DC into next DC* repeat around 12 times (36 DCs)
Round 4: *1DC into each of first 2 DC, 2DC into next DC* repeat around 12 times (48 DCs)

Continue in this manner, increasing by 12DCs evenly around, until you have completed 12 rounds (144 DCs)

Sides of cushion (3 rounds):
On next round, 1DC into each DC all of the way around, working only into back loop of the previous round (round 12 of the flat bottom circle). This will create a square edge between bottom circle and sides.
Next round, 1DC into each DC all of the way around, working now into both loops (normally).
Repeat previous row.

Top of cushion (12 rounds):
Round 1: *1 DC into each of next 10 DCs, then DC2tog* Repeat around 12 times (132DCs) working into back loops only of previous row (to create a square edge between top circle and sides.)
Round 2: *1DC into each of next 9 DCs, then DC2tog* Repeat around 12 times (120DCs) working into both loops of previous round as normal.
Round 3 *1DC into each of next 8 DCs, the DC2tog* Repeat around 12 times (108DCs).

Continue in this manner decreasing 12DCs evenly around, until round 11.

Stuff your cushion full of fiberfill... I used nearly an entire large bag.

Round 11: DC2tog 12 times around.
Round 12: 12 DCs.
Bind off yarn and sew the hole in the center, pulling 8 DCs of previous round tight.

Colour pattern: I did rounds 1,2,11 and 12 in the main colour, rounds 3,4&5 in blue, 6,7&8 in green and 9&10 in purple colours.

 The two rows that were worked only in the back loop can now be worked  in the front rows to add a decorative trim, which also helps define the shap of the cushion.
With second colour (worsted weight yarn) and 5mm (H) hook, 1SC into front loops only of each DC in these rows. (Row 12 bottom and row 3 sides).

Overall this cushion was super easy to make, help me to use up yarn from my stash and is super comfy to sit on.

One great tip, if you don't have any Super Bulky (size 6) yarn around, you can mix and match yarns together, for the blue and the green stripes I held a size 4 and size 2 yarn together. For the purple stripe I held a 3, 2 and 1 together. Doing this for the whole cushion would really burn through your yarn stash, and creates a great tweed look!

Reverse side (in the magazine you can see the blanket I'm also working on right now)

What yarn projects are you working on lately?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Namas-Saturday....get it? It's a yoga pun.

Since July I've been practicing Ashtanga Yoga as close to every day as possible. And I've made some huge strides. In addition it's becoming an essential part of my daily life and mental health. Because let's be honest, Grad School is notoriously horrible for your mental health. You can read a shocking article on the subject by Science Careers, reporting that nearly 60% of all graduate students self report mental health issues. And I am most certainly one of the 60%, especially this time of year when daylight hours in Calgary inevitably overlap with lab hours.

So as a preventative measure before winter sets in, here's to yoga!

This morning I attended Dana Blonde's Ashtagna Level 1-2 class at 10am at the Yoga Shala here in Calgary. And here are some things about that:

  1. I hate morning yoga, those first forward bends during sun salutations, oh the toes seem so far away, I really need a couple hours of moving around to loosen my legs up.
  2. Especially because yesterday I did not practice asanas, instead I attended a Yoga Philosophy class at the Yoga Studio North, by Anne Douglas, and sat on the world's second most uncomfortable chair for two hours and took notes. (I had previously sat on the world's  first most uncomfortable chair the last time I attended a workshop at the Yoga Studio North, and arrived early this time to avoid that situation)
  3. So at yoga this morning I chanted this mantra in my brain during my sun salutations "Don't Notice Me, Don't Notice Me, Don't Notice Me" hoping to avoid Dana's attention for an adjustment. Hoping to have a easy class of it.
  4. I figured I could get away with it, sure my mat was located right at the front of the room, but come on, it was a full house, so maybe I'd get lucky.
  5. NOOOPPPE the mantra did not pay off. She decided to 'assist' me in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana or the balancing posture where you hold you leg up by your big toe.
  6. And let me tell you, the assist just makes you work your but off, my quads were screaming by the time we got to part C.
  7. On the other hand, I felt hugely empowered and impressed to have had my leg held way higher in the air than normally, and smiled (while gritting my teeth) through the whole thing.
  8. During the seated postures I made a literal huge jump forward today, I managed to jump directly through from downward dog to seating, in one motion, keeping my hands planted, about half the time. A feat which I have previously only managed once or twice, and has been a mini goal lately. I guess after being forced (forced is a strong word, but yeah) to work harder than my lazy brain wanted to during those balancing postures I committed to working extra hard throughout, and it totally paid off. Thank you Dana.
  9. We then took some time to explore some postures from the begining of the seond series, which was great, especially because we skipped Navasana while we were at it.
  10. Then poof! I guess it was karmic payback for my earlier ill intentioned mantra, but I got spotted for an assist again, this time working through the shoulder stand sequence. But it was a great assist, because even tho I thought for sure I would fall the second my elbows came off the ground to get into Urdhva Padmasana, or flying lotus pose, I was well supported and it was great.
So that was my yoga today, an unexpectedly great way to end a very full week, and I walked out of the studio feeling so full of goodness.

In other news, the September issue (I think) of Yoga Journal recommended the book Going Om, which is a collection of short stories by yogis who are also writers; and I picked it up last night. I can't wait to curl up with it tonight, it features some authors I've previously enjoyed (Cheryl Strayed and Suzanne Morrison).

Any how, since yoga is such an important thing for me lately, I'm going to be writing about it here every Saturday in a post series titled Namas-Saturday. (Namaste.... get it?) so now you have that to look forward to!


Memebox Superbox #45 korea's Most Wanted

Yeah free things from the internet!

Every so often (really and truly infrequently) I get free things in the mail from the internet. And it legitimizes me as a blogger. And sometimes they arrive when I'm way to busy to blog about them (which immediately takes away the sense that I am actually a blogger...whatever that is).

This time, the box arrived, and I opened it up and took pictures....and well I haven't tried anything yet, but we'll get to that.

So thank you to 20something Bloggers and Memebox for sending this perk my way!

So I've never had a subscription box before, but I know they are pretty much a thing now. Unfortunately usually when I think I want one, they don't ship to Canada. So apart from knowing that memebox was a beauty subscription box, I didn't have any other expectations.

It arrived in a sweet pink box, which, since I hoard things like boxes I will probably keep... and will maybe upcycle it or something. So for the box alone, excited!

Inside it was packed full of beauty products, and I do mean full, only a single piece of tissue paper for padding. All of the products are from Korea, so that's fun too, except for this:

Some of the products claim to be "Dermatological test completion" which I know is probably just an unfortunate google translation thing, but since I have admittedly sensitive skin, means I'll be doing text patches with all of them. The above product is some sort of skin bio-cellulos soothing patch, recommended for sun burns... so I'll be taking these to Mexico with me next month (box came with 5).

 The box also came with a Shara Shara Tinted Style lip gloss (suuuper pink!), a Pure Skin overnight mask (suuuuper lemony), some Hope Girl Nail Polish (all clear coats with gold sparkles) and a Blithe Patting Water Pack (whatever that is).

And finally a Makeup Helper compact, which is a little bit light, and pretty heavily scented for a powder, but it has a sweet mirror, and so I'll get a lot of use out of that at least.

So there you have it. I'll update this post as I try these products, and although you can tell why I'm not a beauty blogger (I mean most days I don't wear any makeup at all, much to my mother's dismay), it was fun to get some new beauty products to try out!

What subscription boxes have you tried out? Any favourites that come up North?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blog Purge: to unfollow or not to unfollow

Tonight I went to add another blog to my reading list in Blogger, only to recieve a notification that I could not follow any more blogs, and to please delete some.

So it was time for a Blog Purge

I've been blogging for years now. So some of the blogs on the old follow list have been there for years. And as I clicked through them, I found that some of them hadn't posted anything in 3 or more years. Clearly they could be let go.

It's not that I had been holding on to them all this time, it's just that they have been out of site out of mind, if they don't post, they don't show up in the reading pane, and you eventually forget they exist.

Unfortunately when I clicked the little gear wheel to manage my reading subscriptions, it just wouldn't load (probably a result of following too many blogs). So I thought about other ways I could go about following the blogs I want, and purging the ones that were not longer active (or interesting to me).

In the past I had tried following blogs through RSS feeds, or though bloglovin or google+. There are some I follow through twitter more or less, and others that I follow through 20sb, but I have always loved having the reading list right in blogger.

With that reading list failing me now, I thought I'd go unessesarily old school with things, and just create a word document full of links, and organize the blogs into categories like: Bloggers, Canadian Bloggers, Knitting and Crochet, Inspiration, Health and Fitness, Food, Fashion... etc. And just give that a try for now.

In the mean time, how do you follow peoples blogs? Leave me a comment to let me know how, and I'll add you to my word document!

Thanksgiving Dinner in 4 Hours

It's Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada, and Kevin and I celebrated with a break in our very busy schedules by roasting up a chicken along with all the good side dishes you could want. Like I said tho, very busy (I was in the lab all day today, and all morning yesterday and Saturday, but such is grad school), so I blocked off one afternoon to do an entire Thanks giving dinner for the two of us.

Here's how:

Shopping list:

-1 whole (fresh not frozen) chicken
-1 acorn squash
-2 large potatoes
-2 sweet potatoes
-1 bunch of celery
-1 onion
-1 pack fresh cranberries
-5 mushrooms
-2 boxes of stove top stuffing
-1 packet of instant turkey gravy
-1 can cranberry sauce
-2 heads of garlic
-1 bunch of asparagus
-pack of fresh baked dinner rolls
-1 bottle of red wine
-1 pecan pie
-1 tub of hagen das


2:00 Preheat oven to 350', cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds/pulp

2:20 Bake squash face down, mean while cut the tops of one head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and put in oven
 2:50 Take Squash out, flip over, put 1tbsp brown sugar and 1tbsp butter into each half, put back into oven

3:00 Remove garlic from oven, spoon cloves out into bowl and mash with fork, add 1/2 softened butter, and chicken seasoning herbs, mash together (this is your chicken rub).

 3:10 Spoon the rub into space between chicken skin and breast, and rub liberally over outside of chicken. Place half an onion and some cloves of garlic into the chicken body cavity. Put four celery stalks on the bottom of your roasting pan, and some more garlic cloves. Add 1 cup of water and sit chicken on top of the celery.
 3:20 Remove squash from oven, and turn oven up to 375'. Once squash has cooled, scoop out from shell into bowl (along with buttery goodness from center of squash) and mash together with a fork.

 3:30 Put your chicken into the oven, cover with a tin foil tent.
 3:50 Peel your potatoes
 At this point things got busy, and I forgot to take any more picture of the process.

4:10 Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Chop your potatoes into medium sized chunks.
4:20 Add potatoes to boiling water.
4:30 check on your chicken, add more liquid if needed.
4:35 Chop one half onion, remainder of celery and mushrooms
4:50 Drain potatoes, add 1/3 cup of butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2tbsp minced garlic and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, mash together, transfer into serving pan, and garnish top with Parmesan cheese
5:10 remove chicken from oven, pour juices into a sauce pan for gravy
5:20 Spread asparagus onto to baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, garlic and parmesan, put asparagus and potatoes in the oven
5:30 Saute celery, onions and mushrooms in a large pot until soft, on second burner, heat chicken juices and adding enough water to bring volume up to 1 cup, stir in gravy packet when boiling
5:40 add cranberries and 2 cups water, cover (they will splatter when they burst), remove asparagus and potatoes from oven
5:50 stir in stove top stuffing, remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes, fluff with fork and serve
6:00 Serve everything to the table, sit down and enjoy

So there you have it, an entire thanksgiving dinner in 4 hours, in one tiny apartment kitchen. You could adapt the timeline to accommodate a turkey (if it's a smaller one), but the chicken done this way was great (especially for just the two of us). After dinner we packed up lunches for the next three days each, because really the best part about a turkey dinner is the leftovers.

What did you cook up this weekend? Happy Thanksgiving Canada!