April 30, 2013

Photo A Day Challenge on Instagram

So a quick update amid the insane, never-ending packing of my house: I recently upgraded to an iPhone! What a huge difference this is to my previous phone, I have apps now! It's awesome! Anyways, all excitement aside, this now means that I can participate in "photo a day" activities on Instagram, which I something I attempted to do last fall but couldn't due to my horrible old phone, it's grainy excuse of a camera, and a lack of the Instagram app.

I will be participating in the  photo a day challenge posted by Fat Mum Slim - one of my favourite bloggers. I will my beat to take a picture each day {a nice relief from packing!} and I will post the pictures to my Instagram account, just because I can. If you don't have an Instagram account but are still interested in my photos, not to worry, I will post he month's pictures in a large post at the end of the month.

Wish me luck!

Photo Credit: Far A-Field Notes

April 28, 2013

Going Green

For a long time I have been telling myself that I am going to try a green smoothie. I have been putting it off for a while because something about a green smoothie has made me take a pause. I think perhaps the colour of the smoothie is part of the problem, as green is not really a super appetizing colour. No matter how delicious, I can't seem to get the idea of swamp water out of my head. Also, I think that the fact that vegetables make this smoothie green is part of the problem. I realize how silly this sounds, as I have been wanting to try a green smoothie because of the fact that it contains veggies - and therefore a host of nutritional benefits not found in most traditional smoothies - but I think this is part of my hang up.

But I finally set my excuses to the side and made one this past weekend. I chose a recipe that is fairly similar to the smoothies that I make on a regular basis, with the hopes that I would be able to stomach the idea of vegetables before I've had coffee. This recipe is from the Healthy's Girls Kitchen Blog, and there are many green smoothie recipes listed there. I would really like to try one that includes avocado in its ingredients, but for now this recipe was a good starting point.

Good Greens Smoothie

1 cup almond milk
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup blueberries
1 banana
1 tsp flax seeds

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

The smoothie itself turned out really well, however, you should know that I left the flax seeds out because, I'll be honest, I couldn't find them in the grocery store {anyone know what aisle they're in?} but I would like to add them in the future. I was pretty happy that the spinach taste was hidden by the other ingredients; the blueberries and the banana really sweetened the entire flavour. However, the consistency and colour weren't quite what I had hoped. The shade of green was not as light and pretty as the smoothie pictured above - sadly my smoothie was pretty dark in colour and actually did resemble swamp water. But it tasted so good  that I got over the colour and enjoyed it!

Photo Credit: Inspired Taste

April 27, 2013

My Accumulation of Stuff

When I was a  kid I was very, very, very messy and unorganized. As an adult, in many aspects of my life I have {thankfully} become the absolute opposite. If asked, several of my co-workers would tell you that I am an organizational freak - I am generally organized and on top of everything at all times. At home though, it's a bit of a different story. I would love to tell you that I live by that old saying "a place for everything, and everything in it's place" but that would be a lie. The truth is, my husband and I just have too much stuff in order to be truly organized.

This is a fact that is becoming more and more painfully obvious to us the more we pack up our house. With one week left until moving day, I am pretty concerned. We have made several attempts to downsize our possessions - including selling furniture and donating clothing - but nothing really seems to make a noticeable different in the amount of stuff we have. It always seem like too much. And the thing I am really trying not to think about is if it looks like we have too much stuff in our current house, what will it look like when we get down to the condo, which is less than half the size of our current place? I am horrified.

I would love to be able to tell you that I am one of those people who hoards things - this way my gluttonous possession of stuff would be a little more excusable. But frankly I'm not. I would also love to provide you with some logical explanation as to why there is so much stuff in my house to begin with - but I can't. Honestly, I know that my husband or I would have walked all this stuff in through the front door at one point or another, but I don't recall such things ever happening to the scale it apparently is. I plead ignorance - how did we accumulate so much stuff?!

The worst part is, that we have only lived here for a little over two years. Imagine if I had lived here for 10 years? Heaven forbid this place was my "forever home" and I had lived here for 40+ years. I can't even imagine all the stuff we would have lying around!

Photo Credit: SaveMax Storage

April 22, 2013

Pastel Polish

Though the weather has been kind of schizophrenic lately, I think it may be safe to say that spring is finally here! I am so pleased that the weather is finally nice enough to once again wear flats, but what I am most excited about is pastel nail polish. I used to hate pastel polish as I always thought it looked a little fake - not that black or other nail polishes looked any more 'real' - but darker colours tends to be a little more forgiving to mistakes. But this year I have jumped right on the pastel polish bandwagon, and I can't get enough of it. I want to paint my nails soft blue and mint green and baby pink and lavender!

I indulged my opaque obsession by purchasing a very soft pink pastel polish. Though I love it and quite simply can't get enough of it right now, those same old problems that made me so against this polish in the past still remain. For instance, I find pastel polish a lot harder to apply nicely than darker colours. I'm not quite sure why this is, but I am sure if you have ever swiped on a pastel polish you know what I mean. Also, you have to have perfect cuticles {and heaven forbid hang nails!} if you want to pull this look off without having it look scraggly and unkempt. The light tones of the pastel polish stand in stark contrast to little cuts and tend to make cracked cuticles stand right out.

The moral of this story is that if you want to pull off pastel polish, the best way to do so is to have a professional make the look happen for you. But for all us fugal girls out here - practice makes perfect! Thank goodness I have lots of spring weather ahead to practice painting my nails pretty pastel pink...

Photo Credit: Rachel's Fashion Patch

April 17, 2013

There are Never Enough Hours in the Day

I know I previously promised more blog posts when my back got better, and I have failed to deliver. And I am tremendously sorry about that, I am usually good on my word. But I am seriously running on steam right now. And sadly it looks like this may be the case for the foreseeable future.

My wonderful  job that I told you all about {without actually telling you what I do} last winter has become absolutely insane. I still love it more than ever, but it has taken over my life as of late. I was supposed to be moving into a different unit at work, and this transition was to start taking place at the beginning of April. The idea was that I would start handing my assignments and cases over to a co-worker who was coming back from vacation and would be taking my current position. However, due to unforeseen circumstances this co-worker has not yet been able to come back to work, which means that this transition of handing work over has not yet begun. But the part of the transition that required me to take on the work related to my new position most certainly has! So I am currently doing two jobs - though I love them both very much it's very overwhelming due to the sheer volume of work I have right now. Last week I worked 10 hours a day in the office {50 hours} drove my hour-each-way commute every day {another 10 hours} and then worked from home approximately 2 hours each night {another 8 hours}, with the exception of Thursday because I was just too spent. In total I dedicated almost 70 hours to work last week. It was insane!

Life at home is just as crazy, if not more so. You may remember a little while ago I mentioned that my husband and I were selling our house and moving into the city - well all this is going down two weeks from today. Two weeks! While this is very very very exciting, it is also a huge source of stress. Not only do we have to pack everything, but given that we are downsizing from our house into a condo we have a lot of pieces of furniture and other misc things that we need to sell. We also have to figure out where to put the things that we want to keep but can't fit into the condo - do we store them elsewhere or do we try and make everything fit into our tiny storage locker in our building? What stuff can we put at the back of the storage locker {i.e. what stuff can we bury} and what needs to be placed at the front so it can be easily accessed? There is a lot of logistical thinking that apparently needs to go into this move. And then there is the issue of having our address changed with every person/organization who ever sends us mail, and having our Internet/cable/phone services changed, cancelling our house insurance, getting condo insurance, getting the keys, lawyers fees.. It just never seems to end!

And I still have to file my income taxes too.

So once again, I ask you dear readers, to please bear with me. I promise you more blog posts again in the near future, once everything settles down and I actually have time to write. Thanks for your patience!

Photo Credit: Flickr

April 6, 2013

Little Quinoa Patties Recipe

If you remember back a few months, I was {and still am} obsessed with a quinoa salad recipe that my mother-in-law gave me at Christmas time. I have been trying to increase my quinoa recipe stash since I have mastered this salad, but I have had little success in finding recipes that would suit my tastes and those of my somewhat picky husband {he won't eat the aforementioned salad}. I was starting to think that maybe I wouldn't find anything that would suit both of our tastes, until I found this little gem of a recipe.

A friend of mine made these little quinoa patties for me recently when we were having lunch at her place and I freakin love them! Loved them to the point that even if my husband didn't want to try them I was going to make them on a regular basis. Here is the recipe so you can try them for yourself:

Little Quinoa Patties

Yield: 12 little patties / 6 large patties

  • 2 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan or greyere cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole grain bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

1. Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Once well mixed, stir in the chives, onion, cheese, and garlic.

2. Stir in the bread crumbs and let sit for a few minutes in order to let the crumbs soak up some of the moisture. At this point, the mixture should be easily be formed into 2 cm thick patties. If the mixture won't easily form into patties, then add either more eggs or water in order to make it more moist, or more bread crumbs in order to soak up excess moisture.

3. Add oil to the bottom of a large pan and add patties so that they have space between them. Cover and cook the patties for 7-10 minutes, until the bottoms are brown. Once browned, carefully flip the patties over and cook the other side for 7-10 minutes, until they are as brown as the other side.

4. Remove the patties from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Continue to cook patties until the mixture is used up. However, if you only wish to make a few patties at a time, the mixture will keep in the fridge for a few days.

I will completely honest with you, my first try to make this recipe was a complete disaster. Complete. Disaster. I couldn't make the patties form into actual patties no hard how I tried. The closest thing I could get them to be was semi-circular lumps of the mixture in the pan. I think that perhaps they would cook and so I set the timer and kept a close eye on them. Well, a close eye until the smoke detector started shrieking {as apparently they were burning} and my puppy freaked out.

It basically became a lost cause at this point. Once I stopped the smoke alarm and comforted my dog, I figured I should try and flip them to see just how black the bottoms had become. Except that they didn't flip well at all; I was able to get them onto the spatula without issue, but the actual flipping action caused each little 'patties' {if I can even call them that} to explode into a hundred little pieces when they hit the pan. I tried to be super gentle after I flipped the first one without success, but it didn't make a difference as they broke apart no matter that.

So starving by now, I resolved to make the best of it. I threw away the really burned pieces and I tried to salvage the rest. I put it in a bowl and mixed in a little bit of the tsatziki sauce that I had bought to dip the little patties into. It actually tasted pretty good, but was a very far cry from the intended patties. But my husband and I were so hungry that I decided to fry up the rest of the mixture, mush like I would if I was making scrambled eggs. It was kind of strange, but mixed with the tsatziki it was pretty tasty. So tasty in fact that my husband {the quinoa-hater} loved it! I'm sure that he would love it even more had the recipe actually turned out...

Anyways, I will be trying this again in the future. I loved the recipe so much when I previously had it with my friend that I won't let a disaster like this put me off the recipe forever. I am still trying to figure out where I went wrong {maybe too much bread?} but I will keep you updated.

Photo Credit: The Kitchen is Calling

April 1, 2013

Cranberry Feta Pinwheels

Yesterday we celebrated Easter with a dinner hosted by some of my husband's extended family. While they took care of the main dinner accouterments, we were requested to bring either an appetizer, a side dish, or a dessert. Having seen this recipe for Cranberry Feta Pinwheels via Pintrest a little while ago, I opted to bring an appetizer, as a means of trying out the recipe. I am always a little skeptical when trying out a new recipe and taking it immediately to somewhere where others will be eating it {just in case it doesn't turn out}, but this recipe seemed very easy and somewhat foolproof - and it turned out perfectly!

Cranberry Feta Pinwheels

Yield: 48 Pinwheels

3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup (250 g) container spreadable cream cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onion
4 large whole wheat flour tortilla

1. Combine all of the ingredients - except the tortillas - and mix well.

2. Divide the mixture evenly onto each of the tortillas and spread.

3. Roll each of the tortillas very tightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

4. To serve, cut each tortilla into twelve slices.

I found that in order to get the size of pinwheels I wanted {approximately 2 cm thick} I didn't get the predicted twelve pinwheels per tortilla. I actually got about 6-7 pinwheels per tortilla. Also, the ends of each tortilla are not usable {though delicious} so they can't be counted towards the pinwheel yield.

Making the recipe as is, I got a dinner-sized plate full of pinwheels. I was hoping to take a full serving platter full based on the estimated yield on the recipe; I feel that had I doubled the recipe I would have been able to achieve this amount. Considering how quickly they disappeared, I would suggest doubling the recipe. They are a delicious combination of sweet and salty and perfect for any event or dinner!

Photo Credit: Food.com
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