Sunday, July 27, 2014

Low Cal High Fiber Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Squares

I'm taking a cake decorating class at Micheals, and for this week's lesson we were asked to bring in rice crispy treats. However, I wanted rice crispy treats that I felt good about eating, so here's a recipe for

Low Cal High Fibre Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Squares

In a bowl, mix:

2 Cups brown rice crispies (240cals)
60 grams (or two single serving packets) of Quakers Quick Oats (240cals)
1 Cup of All Bran Buds (70cals)
1/4 Cup of mini chocolate chips (100cals)

In a sauce pan, on low heat, mix:

6 tbsp Kraft Light Peanut Butter (480cals)
4 tbsp Honey (240cals)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (12cals)

Stirring as it melts, when smooth remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Make sure to get it all out of the pan using a spatula. Then mix thoroughly. Line medium sized baking dish with tin foil, pour in mix and press flat. Refrigerate for 30min to an hour before cutting into squares.

Makes 12 squares, each at 115 calories, and they taste great, fill you up and pack a tonne of fiber!

Cake Decorating at Michaels Lesson 3

 Tonight I had my third lesson at Michaels in decorating cakes, we mainly focused on making flowers and boarders.

 Zig-zag and ribbon boarders.

 Green leaves and grass.

 Scrapping off the used icing and mixing it together for some large flowers.

 Large flowers with the extra large flower tip!

And complex flowers, daisies and sunflowers.

So putting some of my skills together I decorated these Healthy Rice Crispy Squares with some pretty flowers.

You can find the recipe by clicking here for these 115 calorie (no icing of course), high fiber, chocolate peanut butter squares. squares.

Week 1- cupcakes
Week 2- layer cake
Week 3 - decorate with flowers
Week 4 - ???

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday...thanks for the smile mom!

My mom saw this picture from yesterday.

And thought I look just like I did as a baby.

And sent me these pictures.

Apparently I wasn't very happy as a baby or something?

Anyways, it cracked me right up.

Happy Thursday!

Book Review: Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed

Let's be honest, we've all read Eat, Pray, Love; or at least seen the movie. Elizabeth Gilbert's hugely successful tale of her year spent abroad, post crushing divorce and consuming rebound. Her story certainly inspires me to want to take a year off from life and just live in Italy, India and Bali. Especially if it would end with finding the hot Brazilian man of my dreams, just like her year did (ok maybe not that part....I loves you Kevin! lol)

But what happens next for her? I mean she can't very well spend the rest of her life in Bali? And Elizabeth and Felipe (also divorced) have no interest or belief in getting married again.

Committed picks up where Eat, Pray, Love leaves off, and importantly the events in this book take place before Julia Roberts is cast to play Elizabeth in the movie (I can't help but think things might have been different had her book already been famous before the events of this next chapter).

Elizabeth and Felipe, after spending a year traveling the world together and flying back and forth between the US and Bali, decide to settle permanently in the USA. The problem, Felipe isn't American... and so the two are forced to have a quickie engagement at US Customs, before Felipe is 'technically not deported'.

They spend the next year living abroad, waiting for paperwork for his visa to be processed, and Elizabeth embarks on  a quest to discover everything she can about Marriage before giving it a second round.

So here are 7 things that I learned about marriage by reading Committed:

1) We Westerners are raised to believe that we are special, and that we all believe that the pursuit of happiness is our natural birthright, and have come to believe that our husband's (yes I should just use the word spouse here, but for me it would be husband and this is my list)... our husband's job is to make us abundantly happy. EG points out two things "Plant expectation, reap a disappointment." and as an old Italian woman once told her "Who's happy?"

2) Always, under all circumstances, listen to what old Italian women have to say, and consider it. My nana may keep telling me to just be a Pharmacist and to hurry up and get married 5 years ago... although I probably won't do either of those things, I think I understand why she wants that for me. As for "who's happy?" it's true, any person or importantly any relationship you could point to and say that is happiness, that's what I want... well from a different perspective it might not be all that great.

3) Not that we shouldn't expect our husband's to bring a great deal of happiness to our lives. We should, I mean who would want to be married to someone who makes you sad? But we shouldn't expect that to be their job, or worse, if you are unhappy as a single person, you are welcoming trouble to go into marriage believing that your new husband will suddenly give you happiness. You should never rely on someone outside of your self to provide you with happiness. It comes from within first. If you are depending on another person to provide you with happiness, you really are setting yourself up for disappointments, and you are likely going to just end up dragging that person down with you.

4) I was raised Catholic... and you know, I'm probably supposed to get married in the Church one day, before God and a Priest who will hopefully say my name correctly during the vows (At my cousin's wedding the priest called her Christina throughout the entire ceremony, despite multiple corrections to Krista... kind of takes away some of the sacredness from the sacrament no?) But I was surprised to learn that for the early days of Christianity (by early days, I mean the first 1000 years), the Church went about  trying to stamp out marriage in favor of global celibacy. As EG points out St. Jerome wrote "one should not even rightly compare virginity to marriage-because you cannot 'make a comparison between two things is one is good and the other is evil'." Or St. Paul to the Corinthians "It is not good for a man to touch a woman.", instructing all good Christians to be celibate like himself. At the end of the day, the holy sacrament of matrimony came about because it turns out you have happier Christians if you don't keep telling them their natural desires to be wed to one person are sinful, and the Church doesn't just adopt practices, it wraps them up in regulations and rules and rigidity.

5) The Church aren't the only ones to try to deny marriage over the years, not just to specific groups, or between specific groups, but even to populations as a whole. EG touches on the Soviet Union's early attempts to eliminate marriage, before scoring, changing suit, and declaring the family (married husband-wife with kids) to be the basic/foundational unit of a good communist society. But points out that regardless of who is trying to regulate marriage, it always prevails in the end. EG takes a whole chapter to elaborate on (and draw courage/belief from) the idea that marriage is fundamentally subversive.

6) Legal marriage is a social necessity. Sure you can have your own private promising ceremony, and happily live your lives together. But the fact of the matter is, that marriage can also be viewed as the biggest financial decision most of us will ever make. By choosing to live manogomously with one person, whether legally married or not, you will eventually merge financially into one unit. Unfortunately, the simple fact, married or not, not all couples will stay together for life. Legal marriage can therefor be kind of seen as registering your merger with your society, so if your two companies try to split, there is some paperwork up front to make the process easier (for society... not your hearts). If everyone were to give up on legal marriages, with our current 50% divorce rate, when half of all these couples eventually split, society might halt while we try to reach consensuses on who got together when and with what assets and whatever. And like vaccines, the 95% of people sticking to the regimens protect the 5% who don't. I don't know if I'm getting to the point here, but seriously, it turns out that things run more easily when unions are formalized and recognized.

7) Turns out mairrage is super good for men but not so much for women. EG draws the reader's attention to studies which show married men live longer, earn more money, are healthier and happier than single men. The same studies show that the opposite is true for women. Yet of the people my age, it's the ladies who are dying to get married and then men who don't even want to hear the word. Though things have been steadily improving for married women, so hopefully our generation will turn out more equality between the genders.

That's all I've got for now, at it's really just a long winded ramble about what I, an unmarried 26 year old took away from the book. However I will say it is a must read for anyone heading down the path towards marriage. You really should know what you're getting in to, and really should take the time to consider why you're making the choices you are.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Wednesdays we wear pink.

So I was at the mall tonight to buy my cousin and I matching 105 Singlets for the Sea Wheeze next month. We went with purple. And I thought I'd do the full walk around... and found a new store.

And subsequently had to buy a new shirt...because it was hanging front center, and brought me back to my highschool days in an instant.

Only once I got it home I released that if I wear this shirt into the lab, probably noone will know what it's from... since they're all either too old, too young or too male to appreciate Mean Girls.

I also picked up a black oversized tee, and a couple of cheap tanks from stores like old navy and bluenotes (you know, the kind of stores I feel too old going into).

In other news... I'm working on a new project (and not just the #100happydays that I've been doing on Instagram @Turner_SR )... So I've been busy as heck lately... Can't wait to share it here tho... in 19 more days!

Happy Humpday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cake Decorating at Michaels Lesson 2

So I think it's time to quit grad school and open up a bakery. I mean last week's cupcakes turned out pretty awesome, and this week was even better I think.

Week two of Michaels level 1 cake decorating class (using all Wilton products of course) required that we bake, fill, ice and decorate a layer cake. I'm still calorie counting this month (which means I wouldn't be eating my cake) so I went with a box cake mix, chocolate fudge. For the filling I simply mixed a can of chocolate icing with half a jar of strawberry jam. And I used the Wiltons icing that you can buy in the big jug at Micheals.

We gel transferred an image onto our cakes, and then went to town with the decorating.

My cousin's baby, Penelope, is turning one next month, and so I decided to make her a pre-birthday cake with a cute little owl (since she has a thing for owls).

I was seriously impressed with how the cake turned out, and Kevin informed me that despite being made from a box, it was quite delicious.

So what do you think? Should I decorate cakes for a living?

Week 1- cupcakes
Week 2- layer cake
Week 3 - decorate with flowers
Week 4 - ???

Easy Crochet Baby Blanket with Pattern

Everyone I know is having babies, or getting married...or having babies and getting married... or their babies are getting married. Anyways, as I usually like to hand make gifts for such important things in peoples lives I've been surrounded in yarn lately. I just finished up this pretty and simple crocheted baby blanket, it's adapted from a pattern from the 1960s or something from my grandmother. So I've included the simplified pattern below.

The finished blanket is actually pretty large (that's it taking up about a third of my double bed).

I really enjoy the fact that it looks almost like it was worked in squares and then assembled, but the easy 95% double crochet pattern means no seams and really quick work up.

The pattern is very straight forward. You can use any yarn you like (and the recommended hook size on the label), my blanket took just under 4 balls of Bernat Giggles in Giggling Green (although in these pictures it does look more blue) and the white yarn was just left over Red Heart Soft Touch, which is a bit smaller than the Bernat, but I thought it still looked fine.

Anyways, feel free to use this pattern, just link me back, and drop me a comment so I can come see how your project turned out.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Calgary Stampede 2014

This year I only made it out to stampede once, but had a great time there watching the rodeo with a friend, then meeting up with Kevin for beers, carnival games, baby animals and delicious food stuffs.

We watched the rodeo on Friday, with a full crowd. It was pretty close to sold out, Gabby and I bought tickets in separate sections, so we showed up a bit late, found some empty seats (corporate tickets holders often don't show up) and enjoyed the show.

The we wandered the fair grounds for a bit, and saw some dancing hiphop robot was weird.

We were hungry so I grabbed a sausage... turns out it was a 'Giant Western Sausage" and longer than my arm. The guy at the bbq snickered when I ordered it (go figure).

Then I met up with Kev, here's a picture of him with a cow (because his class are the you know, appropriate).

Next up was baby animals....Kevin wants a pot bellied pig one day, I want sheep... so I think we might have to live on a farm or something.

One thing everyone was talking about this year was the scorpion pizza, we found it, but there was no way I'd be eating it. Did anyone try it? one of the guys at school did, he said it didn't taste like anything but that the bugs were crunchy.

We went with pizza on a stick and deep fried cheesecake instead. Needless to say, I went way over my allotted calories that day, and had to make up for it all weekend.

Stampede was a gorgeous week of hot summer weather, but between my wanting to eat healthily this month and Kevin being on call all the time, we didn't Stampede nearly as hard as in previous years. In fact this year I did a little bit of volunteering for Stampede. The old folks home that I knit at every Monday needed volunteers to dress like cowboys, serve dinner and stick around to dance.

It turned out to be a completely great time, even tho I stepped all over one gentleman's feet while we danced to some super old love song. I'll have to be sure to do it again next year.

Monday, July 14, 2014

An unexpected dip in the Elbow River

Saturday afternoon was a scorcher here in Calgary, and the best way to beat the heat is definitely to get yourself out onto one of the rivers for a float. I've floated the Elbow River before, and it is such a relaxing ride, truly one of my favourite summer things in Calgary (although it doesn't quite make up for how much I miss cottage country back in Ontario). This time however we took an unexpected dip in the river.

I was floating with my friend Sarah (@setulk) and we were both on one of those large circular rafts. Like the highly educated young women we are, we forgot our paddles at home. Despite the lazy nature of the Elbow River, paddles are still a necessity to keep you off the shores and out of trees. So we improvised, I spotted a solid long branch, and we poled our raft along, Venetian style. Much to the ammusement of our fellow rafters, I might add, we got lots of comments about our 'paddle'. So many so that we began to boast and brag about the superior nature of the wooden branch for raft navigation.

Maybe we shouldn't have bragged.

Just after passing under the 4th St SW bridge, there is a small section of what likely can't actually be called rapids, but I'll call them rapids for the sake of excitement. A propper raft ahead of us (with propper paddles) went through no problem. As we entered the stretch however, we were quickly swept towards some low hanging branches. In an effort to use our stick to push off the shore and avoid the brush we capsized our raft and were dumped into the river.

My first thought? The Elbow River is pretty shallow, just stand up.

Nope, the current in some spots is pretty strong, standing up just wasn't an option. So instead I assumed the position we were taught when I did white water rafting in Colorado a few years ago. Sit your but down, bring your knees up in front of you and steer with your hands, face downstream and ride it out. (If you're a bylaw abiding Calgarian, the life jacket you're wearing makes this a lot easier...if you're like me, just rely on your core strength or something). So ride it out I did, getting swept maybe 150meters downstream and eventually catching up with the raft. Sarah trailed behind me through the water.

The whole dip in was actually quite a lot of fun, once you figured out how best not to smash your legs/knees on the rocky bottom of the river. And I was laughing as I climbed back onto the raft. Until Sarah shouted, "the Keys!"

You see the thing about rafting is you park one car down stream, then drive a second one upstream. Then ride the river down to the first car and drive back to the second.

Which means that while (if you're smart) you can leave your wallet and phone in the car, and not risk loosing them in the water, you do need to have car keys with you. Ours were in a little zip lock bag, sitting in the middle of our raft, underneath my tank top.

That is where they were sitting until our raft flipped over.

Somehow tho, the gods of the Elbow River were feeling generous that day, and just as we began to panic about having lost the keys I spotted my shirt floating towards us. And then Sarah spotted the keys in the little plastic bag floating ahead of it. Somehow the river was returning all it had taken from us. We even got our paddle/branch back...much good that it did us in preventing such mishaps.

Over all it was a great day of sunshine and water and mishaps. But if you're going to go rafting any time in the near future, make sure your keys are connected to you somehow. While the river may have been generous to us, she is a fickly beast and will likely not be so kind the next time.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cake Decorating at Micheals Lesson 1

This afternoon, my friend Melissa and I attended our first cake decorating class at Michaels (an arts an crafts store). The class cost $20 to register, then about $40-$50 spent in buying Wilton's cake decorating equipment. And it runs for 2 hours a week for 4 weeks.

Tonight we brought in 6 cupcakes a piece and learned the basics.

First up we learned how to mix colours and fill icing bags, I went with a neon pink and a blue green swirl.

We then used a star tip to, well, make stars, do a star fill and make little swirls.

 We practised piping the icing with even pressure over long lines, then made some cute little loops.

Next up we pulled out the big tip to make roses and swirl cupcake toppers.

Finally we went to town and iced our 6 cupcakes each (mine are on the left). Too bad I am watching what I eat, so I can't enjoy any of these bad boys. I'm guessing my lab will be happy about that, since that is where they are going to end up! Next weeks lesson we ice and decorate a full cake!

So maybe the class is really just a great way to push Wilton products and sales. And maybe apart from us everyone else in the room was under the age of 18. But it was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to improve my skills.

Week 1- cupcakes
Week 2- layer cake
Week 3 - decorate with flowers
Week 4 - ??? 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

DIY Ombre with Feria Wild Ombre 060

Sorry Mom.

I did a little experimenting with hair dye this afternoon. And I know how much you detest it when I dye my hair.

But I was feeling extra summery, and thought I'd give ombre a try and lighten the ends of my hair.

I picked up a box of Feria Wild Ombre, in the 060 shade, which is for medium to dark brown hair. Make sure you pick the colour that matches your starting point! It was on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart for $9.99, making this just about the cheapest hair colouring experiment I've ever done.

The box comes with  a little brush for easier application, and also I picture of a model who received an unfortunately severe dip dye.

I threw on an old t-shirt (Thank you Thor Labs for always giving away free t-shirts at Experimental Biology!) and took a before picture...all brown (with a couple hidden highlights).

How I did it? Watched youtube, there are dozens of people who have tutorials up, I worked it into may hair one section at a time, and was more generous on the lower sections than the top ones.

There's nothing like the smell of bleach in the morning! The box recommended leaving the colour in for 25-45min, I went with 20, since I didn't want to have it too light. Then rince and shampo and dry and straighten and voila:

Fun summer hair that looks sun kissed! Not a huge change, but I like it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: Yoga Bitch by Suzanna Morrison

I picked up Yoga Bitch in an airport on my way to Europe a couple summers ago. Between the title and the cover, how could I resist?

OK, so I have had this on and off again relationship with Yoga for a few years now. Recently I've gone back to 'on again' and hopefully this time for good. So in the spirit of getting and staying excited about yoga, I thought I'd read one of my favourite Yoga books.

Yoga Bitch chronicles Suzanne Morrison's months spent in Bali studying Yoga at the feet of her personal guru Indra, before moving cross the country to New York to move in with her boyfriend and start life in the big city. The trip to Bali was intended to help her overcome a crippling fear of death while becoming the 'higher bird' and attaining enlightenment. Upon arriving in Bali however, she is confronted by a group of literal 'piss-drinkers' in the form of her fellow Yogis who partake in urine therapy each morning. More important, however, is during all those hours of meditation and breathing deeply she is also confronted with herself.

Suzanne has a pretty funny book trailer on YouTube in which she tries to answer some common questions about yoga, in her own personal way.

What makes this book so important for any young aspiring yogi to read, however, is the realness of her journey. Suzanne bares it all on her path to yogic enlightenment, and approaches yoga with a healthy dose of both skepticism and respect. She balances her earnestness for her practice with designer handbag coveting and chocolate coconut milkshake devouring. Reading this book, I can very easily envision myself in Suzanne's shoes, and both times I've read it, I've been inspired to one day make my own similar yoga retreat.

In fact, lately I've been inspired enough to do some more in depth yoga reading. I picked up a copy of The Textbook of Yoga by Yogeswar. (grabbed it second hand from Fair's Fair) The book details the practice and purpose of 36 Asanas  (positions), 4 Mudras (gestures, usually with the hands), 3 Bandhas (or energy locks, like mulabandha), 3 Kriyas (maybe has to do with breathing, clearly I need to read this book) and Pranayama (definitely has to do with breathing).

The aim of reading through this text, as I continue to practice Ashtanga is to develop a real deep appreciation and understanding for each movement and pose of my practice. Hopefully I'll be sharing some of this with the readers of my blog as I move along.

Do you practice Yoga? Have you read any good books about yoga lately?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sunday Morning Free Yoga at Lululemon Market Mall: Barre Body

Yesterday I attended my first Free Yoga class at a lululemon store. I guess I decided that I spend enough money there, I should start taking advantage of some of their perks. So I rolled up my mat and headed to Market Mall before it opened. Only I didn't quite realize that it wasn't going to be a Yoga class this week. Instead, Marlo from Barre Body Calgary lead us through a tough/amazing class aimed at toning our arms and glutes... Needless to say she had my muscles shaking before the hour was out.

I might just have to give Barre Body a try sometime in the near future. It was a great mix-up for someone with past ballet experience like me. The plies, especially in 2nd position really brought me home and made me work. The arm series tho, it was a challenge to say the least, I think I had my arms collapsing to my side about as much as I could keep them up. But then maybe that's an indication that I should start working them harder on my own?

Has anyone tried a Barre class, or Barre Body  in Calgary? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fuel Belt Revenge R2O Review post 15km run

The Lululemon Sea Wheeze Half Marathon is less than 7 weeks away. So it's time to seriously step up the training. Yesterday I hit the Bow River Path for a 15km long run, and took my new fuel belt along for the ride.

I picked up this belt, the Revenge R2O in Hybiscus Pink at the race expo for the Calgary Marathon last month, and yesterday was my first time trying it out. My route, 15km along the Bow River, up a trail to Spruce Cliff, down through Edworthy Park and back along the North side of the Bow.

My GPS watch needed charging so I mapped the route on Map My Run. The 122M elevation gain both sucks and is empowering (especially when you manage to pass a couple people on bikes).

As for the Fuel Belt? This was a new experiance for me. I am usually the type of runner who can't stand to bring anything along with me. I've only just gotten used to running with my ipod. Usually I just take my house key in my bra. But for long runs, you need water, and fountains seem to be few and far between in Calgary (I did find one in Edworthy Park to refill midway through my run). So a fuel belt like this one seemed like a good idea.

I carried the two full water bottles with me, and put my blackberry, credit card and keys into the side pouch.

To be honest, the first 3km running with the belt were a bit of an adjustment. The woman at the Running Room booth advised me that while men can wear it around their waists women should strap it round their hips. So I strapped it in place, and adjusted the belt a couple of times, but it still wanted to slip up and jump around.

So I thought I wonder if I can kind of roll the top of the waistband of my shorts down over the top of the belt. And poof, it stayed snug and didn't move for the rest of the run. The belt was lightweight, even with the water's full and I was certainly glad to have it with me. I highly recommend trying one out, and will be using it for my future long runs!

As for the run itself... it was a bit slow and tough... I walked the full last kilometer, not so much because I needed a cool down, but more because my body was just done. I made it home round 8:30, and crashed pretty hard (was asleep by 10pm! pretty good for a Saturday night). The 15km distance puts me a couple weeks ahead of the Sea Wheeze Tacklebox, so I think I'll repeat this run next week (hopefully improving the time).

Until then, I'm off to try a free yoga class at one of the Lulu stores in town, and then head in to the lab for a bit....maybe hit up stampede later tonight. How's you're weekend treating you?