August 31, 2012

September Photo a Day Challenge

I love reading blogs, and one of the blogs that I am currently addicted to is Fat Mum Slim. Fat Mum Slim is written by blogger Chantelle, who resides in Australia. She blogs about issues relate to her house and home, motherhood, and general things that inspire her. I absolutely love her blog and I have signed up so that I receive her posts directly in my inbox. It's that good. I would definitely recommend that all my readers check out this blog!

Each month, Fat Mum Slim publishes a "Photo a Day" list for that month. All summer long I have been looking at the lists and thinking about taking part in the challenge, but there is always some lame reason that keeps me from participating. One month I chose not too because there was a picture that I couldn't think of a way to possibly photograph the subject, so I wrote off the whole month, telling myself that I would participate once the next month's list had been posted. Super lame, right?

My other major excuse is that I don't own an iPhone. Sadly, I have a BlackBerry and the quality of the pictures that it produces are no where near what the iPhone can do. Also, it means that I don't have instagram. Well, I guess I technically do - I have an iPod touch and I was able to download instagram onto it, but as it does not have a camera the process for editing photos is a real pain. I have to plug my iPod into my computer, and manually drag and drop photos from my computer onto the device. I can edit them using instagram, but then I have to manually drag and drop them back onto my computer. There honestly has to be a better way, but I am not yet tech-savvy enough to have figured it out.

I'm sure it goes without saying, but this was another excuse I had been using. In order to participate in the photo a day challenge I would have to lug my 35mm camera around with me everywhere I went, in addition to my two BlackBerries (I also have one for work) and all of the other miscellaneous goods in my shoulder bag. But in all honesty, my camera is not that big and it's certainly not heavy. So this excuse it also pretty lame...

So no more excuses. I have have been looking forward to fall for a long time because I love the clothing and the little snap of cold, and it seems fitting that September be the month that I stop making excuses and get out there and challenge myself each day to take a picture each day. So here I go! I don't intend on posting my pictures everyday; as I described above it is quite a process for me to edit my pictures. But I will post a few really good/interesting ones occasionally, and at the end of the month I will post them all in one big collage.

Wish me luck (and don't forget to check out Fat Mum Slim)!

August 28, 2012

Update: New Blue Jeans

Last week I posted about how I had worn new blue jeans to work and the ink has rubbed off all over me, effectively turning me into a smurf from the waist down and making my hands look like I was in a boxing match.When I got home that night I searched online and I was able to find a few suggestions on how to prevent dye from rubbing off of new pants, and how to deal with the messy pair I currently had to deal with. Some of the suggestions were pretty good, while others are ones that I would never try as I would be concerned about ruining my pants.

Once of the suggestions that I considered recommended that I turn the pants inside out and soak them overnight  in a bathtub of cold salt water. I thought about trying this, except that I didn't want to run the risk of dying my bathtub blue in the process. I don't know whether it is possible to dye a white porcelain tub blue with indigo denim dye, but I don't want to find out the hard way.

So instead I called my mom; I figured she would have the answer and I was right. She told me to take the dye-soaked jeans and turn them inside out. She told me to take a similar-coloured pair of blue jeans and turn them inside out as well, and wash both pairs in the washing machine with cold water.

On my mom's advice I tried this trick last night when I got home from work last night.I have the same style of jeans but in a lighter wash, and I chose this as the pair to wash the messy ones with. When the washing machine completed the wash cycle, I took them out. Being that they were inside out, it was difficult to tell what, if anything, had happened to the colour of either pair. Though I was curious and wanted to have them dry and ready for inspection as soon as possible, I didn't want to put the jeans into the dryer and risk shrinking them. So I hung them on my drying rack and let them stay there overnight and for the full day while I was at work.

I didn't have a chance to check them when I got home as I was rushing out to a family dinner, so I checked them just now. They are still a little damp, but dry enough to tell see that neither pair has any strange dye blotches. It actually looks like nothing happened to either pair, as both appear to be the same shade of blue that they were previous to the washing. Overall, I am pretty pleased with how this turned out, and I would recommend this method to anyone looking to remove excess indigo dye from their denim.

Photo Credit: American Eagle

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

I am obsessed with smoothies. I have one every single day for breakfast, unless I sleep in and don't have time to blend one up. I was having a lot of fruit-based smoothies but I found that they weren't really holding me over until lunch time, so I started adding protein powder into my smoothies. I have a big jar of protein power and that usually does the trick, but I have lately found that I have become accustomed to the taste and it is somewhat bland.

I figured that peanut butter may be a good way to add some protein to my smoothies, and I am now obsessed with peanut butter banana smoothies. There are many different recipes available online but I have concocted one of my own that it simply delicious (in my humble opinion):

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

1 cup vanilla yogurt

3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 banana {chopped}
1 scoop protein powder {optional}
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups almond milk

1. Place the vanilla yogurt and peanut butter into the bottom of the blender.

2. Chop the banana. Depending on the strength of your blender, you may need to chop the banana into fine slices, or you may need to mash the banana. My blender is fairly high-powered and I typically shop the banana into chunks that are approximately 1cm in width. Once chopped, add the banana to the blender.

3. Add the vanilla extract to the blender. If you wish to add protein power to the smoothie now would be the time as well. I typically add some protein powder into the mix on days when I am overly tired or when I know it will be a little longer before I will be able to eat lunch. It tends to hold me over longer.

4. The almond milk goes into the blender last. The amount of almond milk depends on how thick or how think I want the smoothie to be. Also, it depends on the size of the banana; larger bananas mean that there is less room in the blender, and I tend to put less almond milk into the blender so I don't run the risk of overflowing it and making a mess.

5. Blend until all ingredients are blended smooth and there are no more chunks of banana present.

Photo credit: Taste of Home

August 26, 2012

Considering a Crop

I absolutely love my hair, but every once in a while I feel like a change is in order. For the majority of my life I have had long curly hair that I have obsessively straightened. Thanks to a whole host of hair care products, I can happily say that despite over 10+ years of flat ironing, I do not have damaged hair. It's a pretty big miracle considering how much I force my hair to be something it's not.

Despite my continued success at making my curly hair straight, I have always found myself getting bored with my hairstyle fairly frequently. As a result, when I was in high school I chopped it all off and rocked a stylish version of the pixie cut for a few years. My hair grows very quickly and during my four years in high school I actually did this twice; in my defence only the first instance of chopping all my hair off was for boredom. I learned that if I had more than 8 inches of hair availble to cut off, I could donate it through the salon to a charity that donates the hair to be made into wigs for cancer patients. As soon as I heard that, I decided that I would grow my boredom cut out and chop it off again as soon as I could.

But I got bored with my short hair (even though the low-maintenance was amazing!) and I grew it out. I wore it long for most of my university career, but about three years ago, a few months after graduation, I chopped off all my hair again, this time choosing to keep it a little longer. I ended up with a razored bob, much like the iconic Victoria Becham style. I loved this haircut, but within a year or so I found myself becoming bored, and longing for long hair.

Long hair allows you the ability to vary your day-to-day hairstyle, and thus it takes longer for me to become bored with a longer style. I have been wearing my hair long since approximately 2010, when my last lobbing off of my hair grew out. Starting to get restless with my style, I chose to mix it up a bit by having bangs cut. I last rocked this style in the early 90s when I was a child, and I was very apprehensive about trying it again as I was concerned that bangs would make me look childish. But I decided to go for it, rationalizing to myself that if I hated it, it would grow back. And I have an arsenal of bobby pins that I could use to get myself through the awkward growing-out phase. So I went for it and I loved it!

But here I am another year year, once again finding myself becoming bored with my hair. It's not such a big deal now as fall is coming, but all summer long I have been increasing frustrated with my hair going frizzy (curly-haired girls are sadly prone to this) or with my hair being heavy and hot, and occasionally sticking to the back of my neck. Gross. So I am contemplating a new hairstyle, and I have been giving a lot of through to the Victoria Beckham-esq style I had a few years ago.

This hairstyle was great in so many ways: It was so much quicker to style than my current hair, as I only needed about 10 mins to blow-dry and straighten, opposed to the 40+ mins I require now. It was also lighter and much easier to manage. However, being that it was so short, I couldn't pull it up into a ponytail, nor could I pull off the beloved top-knot. When I wanted to get my hair out of my face it really didn't happen, unless I used the nylon headband that I use when washing/moisturizing my face. Which, trust me, is not appropriate for public use.

So I have lots to think about before I go under the scissors, so to speak. Currently I am considering the above-shown hairstyle, but it would be quite a large difference to my current style and I am not 100% sure that this is what I want. I am really pleased with the fact that my hair is once again long enough for me to donate it, especially since I can make the donation without requiring a pixie cut. But there is also the other part of me who is already longing for long hair, even though it is still there. And also, as winter is coming soon I know that the back of my neck will be cold (as opposed to sweaty in the summer); but I do have a large collection of scarves that could easily fix this problem...

I honestly have no idea what I will do right now, if I choose to do anything at all. But I promise to keep you updated in my decision process along the way!

Photo credit: Haircut Hairstyles

August 25, 2012

Dinner on a Dime

My husband and I are trying very hard to watch our spending right now, and as a result we have gotten a little creative with what we are eating. I will be honest, this has resulted in a few gross meals - not gross as in unappetizing, but gross as in very unhealthy. I am ashamed to admit that we have taken a trip to McDonald's one at least one occasion. However, we have recently decided that this is no longer acceptable, as we are going to get super fat super quickly if we keep this up.

So we are now trying to eat as healthy as we can while spending as little money as possible. It means making changes to the way we shop, as well as the places we shop. It means planning ahead and often thinking outside of what we are normally accustomed to doing.

One of the biggest changes we have made is in the way that we grocery shop. We used to do a once per week trip to the grocery store, where we would get all of the groceries we thought we needed for the week. Unfortunately, this more often that not resulted in a lot of the fresh fruit and vegetables we bought going bad before the week was up, as we were just unable to eat it in time. So we changed the way we shop: Rather than buying everything once a week, we now go to the grocery store at least once every other day. This ensure that the fresh produce we buy doesn't sit around and rot. It also ensures that we have good food available and that we use it right away.

Another more recent trick is shopping at the local Farmer's Market. Our town hosts a Farmer's Market every Saturday morning and we have made it a habit to attend every week and support the local vendors. I have even have a friend who runs her own catering business who attends the Market to sell her fresh backing. If you reside in the GTA and may be requiring a caterer anytime soon, be sure to check out Nutmeg Catering! Anyways, enough of shameless friend-promotion...

The point is that at the Farmer's Market we are able to get a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat right there, while supporting local vendors. So being that it is Saturday, we attended the Farmer's Market this morning and bought some fresh peaches and cream corn. The other amazing thing about the Farmer's Market is that everything is so cheap, since the "middle man" has been cut out. We were able to get 6 cobs of corn for $3.50. It doesn't get better than that!

So we knew we needed to have something other than just corn for dinner, but we weren't sure what to pair it with. So we went to the grocery store to have a look around. I suggested that steak would be a great accompaniment, but given that we are trying to save our money this was a bit of an unrealistic suggestion. However, we didn't immediately rule it out, and I'm glad we didn't: As we were passing by the meat display, we noticed that the top sirloins were of a fairly large size. After considering the size and the price, my husband and I decided that we could easily purchase just one and cut it in half, and that as they were so big, that would be enough for the both of us.

When we got home we cooked up four pieces of corn and grilled the steak on the BBQ. Not only was the dinner delicious, but it was the perfect size for both of us. And it was cheap! The steak was $12.40 tax included, and as I mentioned about, the corn was only $3.50 (plus we still have two cobs left over for tomorrow). That means that a steak dinner for the both of us came to just over $15.00! Amazing!

Are there any tricks that you have making a nutritious and tasty dinner while on a budget? If so I would love to hear about it!

Photo Credit: CBC: In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita

August 22, 2012

New Blue Jeans

I am still working out the style of this blog and so I spent the majority of my evening working it out. But before I go to bed I wanted to share part of my day.

Yesterday I bought a new pair of dark-wash blue jeans from American Eagle. I wore them to work today, and around lunch time I noticed that a couple of the knuckles on my left hand looked bruised. Thinking nothing of it (as I am pretty clumsy and having a random bruise is nothing out of the ordinary), I continued to work. Later on in the afternoon, I noticed that the knuckles on my other hand appeared slightly bruised as well. It was strange, but like I said, nothing overly alarming so I simply carried on with my day.

As I am sure you have probably already figured out, my dark-wash blue jeans were rubbing off on my hands. But this wasn't the worst part: When I got home I changed out of my work clothes and into some comfy yoga pants. During the change of my clothes I realized that not only had the blue jean dye leaked onto my hands, but it had leaked all over both of my legs! And it wasn't just a little bit of dye; I guess it had occurred over the course of the entire day and I looked like a Smurf from the waist down.

I am on my way to bed right now, but tomorrow I will be searching the internet to find an easy way to remove the excess dye to prevent this from happening again. In the mean time, if any of you happen to know of an easy way to get rid of the excess dye I would appreciate a quick comment to let me know!

Photo Credit: American Eagle

August 21, 2012

Hello World!

This is just a quick test post before I head off to bed for a busy day at work tomorrow. Just wanted to see how my adjustments to the layout look, to make sure everything is up and running alright.

The good stuff starts tomorrow. Promise.

Photo Credit: Flickr
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