Inspired Creations

Clearly I have not been very diligent with writing blog posts, recipes tests, or anything on here! So much has happened since the last time we “met” …

First off, it’s March … so we’ve by-passed February completely! In missing February, I can’t recall anything of great importance that happened.

Except my birthday :o) my 35th birthday, to be exact! I love my birthday and this year was great! I had multiple lunch dates (obvi not on the same day!) and was able to celebrate during the evening of the specific date with a group of friends & coworkers!

At the very beginning of February, I was accepted into the Diploma Program in Applied Holistic Nutrition at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition! I chose the part-time evening program, as I cannot afford to quit my job to attend school, so I will be attending class Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm for a 2 year period! I am beyond exciting to get this started … which isn’t until September!

Luckily, that time is going to be well spent re-doing, arranging, and organizing a new office/work space at home, as well as doing as much bookkeeping as possible to help pay for this program!

One thing I didn’t have much of in February was inspiration or the desire to cook. It’s kind of weird how it ebbs and flows! March has been a bit different because I’ve been following more people on Instagram, through my GonaGetHealthy account, and found some great Instagram Stories and links for recipes!

The first one that caught my eye was the Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce as shown on the Instagram account and the website of Pinch of Yum!

It looked easy to make, with simple ingredients, and turned out really flipping delicious!

Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce

I was previously displaying my kitchen & cooking skills on Snapchat, but since it’s more of a personal account, I decided to move my health, food, and cooking trials to Instagram, and this recipe was the first that I did using Instagram Stories.

I had many people watch the story, and even a few friends & co-workers comment or ask questions in person! I think I’ve convinced a few people to go out and buy a spiralizer … they are affordable and can make “noodles” out of so many vegetables!! I have many in mind that I plan on trying out in the coming days/weeks/months as spring arrives and local produce becomes more readily available!

This morning while I was procrastinating the start of bookkeeping (which I’m still procrastinating on), I saw an Instagram Story via the Vital Proteins account, on which Kelsey of Little Bits Of was making her Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls!

Again, this recipe looked SO SIMPLE with easy ingredients! I did have to hit up the health store for a couple of items, but that was on my list of chores for the day anyways!

While I was shopping, I did a bit of research (thank you awesome cell phone data plan!!) regarding buying almond flour vs. buying almonds and making flour …

The ~400 gram bag of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour retailed at this store for $18.99, and from what I could tell, was not derived from organic almonds.

Whereas I bought 300 grams of organic raw almonds and simply put them in my Vitamix dry container to make flour! This amount of almonds retailed for just less than $15.00 and they were ORGANIC! So not really any question of which to use or if I made the right choice!

Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls

These bites came together very nicely and taste fabulous! Definitely a recipe to go into my collection to be made again and again!

If you know of anyone on Instagram or who has a great website, whom you feel I should check out and/or follow, or if you come across any amazing recipes that you think I should test, please comment below, or send me an email with the details!

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Cookie Craving Conundrum

craving

noun crav·ing \ˈkrā-viŋ\

Definition of craving

  • an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing

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I woke up this morning with a craving for oatmeal raisin cookies! But I also knew I needed to get some work done to pad my bank account to pay for college … to which I have my Admissions Interview on Tuesday! Fingers crossed!!!

So in between work, I brought up the websites of some of my favorite health/nutrition mentors:

After reading oatmeal cookie recipes on their sites, I settled on the Gluten-Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Meghan’s website. I quickly jotted down the ingredients and figured I needed to hit up my local health food store for the necessary flours and coconut sugar.

I did stop by Safeway on my way to the health food store to see if they carried the ingredients and if so, what was the price point. (Un)luckily, Safeway did not carry the flours or sugar … so one more block to walk!

At the health food store, I was able to easily locate the buckwheat and brown rice flours … and it made me think I might have some at home … but I wasn’t willing to walk home to check! So I grabbed one of each, plus a bag of coconut sugar – something I hadn’t cooked/baked with before. (As it turns out, I did have both buckwheat and brown rice flour at home, but they’d been open and unused for so long, that I felt it was better to toss them and start fresh!)

I had included eggs on my grocery list, but thought I should try to follow the base of the recipe as best possible, which means using “chia paste” instead of egg (also – to keep it vegan!) … so no eggs made it into my basket.

I’m very thankful that all of Meghan’s recipes that I’ve attempted thus far have been very clear and easy to follow. In order to make the chia paste, I needed to grind some chia seeds … and I thought of 3 different “appliances” to make this happen:

  1. Electric spice grinder
  2. Mortar & pestle
  3. Vitamix dry container

Starting with the quickest and easiest … the electric spice grinder (a coffee grinder … but I don’t drink coffee, so it’s never had coffee beans in it). This tool was perfect! It took literally seconds and voila! the chia seeds were now a chia powder!

Mixing the powder with warm water quickly created the chia paste and again – it pasted up in mere seconds!

When making this recipe, I followed the base recipe (wet & dry ingredients) but was VERY skeptical as the recipe called for 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened! HALF A CUP!!! Holy Hannah!

The changes I made were:

  • Raisins instead of chocolate chips
  • Walnuts instead of pecans
  • Cornstarch instead of arrowroot starch
  • Baked 11 minutes in stead of 15 minutes

After the wet ingredients were added to the dry and thoroughly combined, I was still skeptical as the “batter” was very oily …

I scooped out 5 cookies and spaced them well apart on the parchment-lined baking tray … in case they decided to become 1 cookie! I was very pleased to see the cookies completely held their shape and didn’t spread AT ALL!

I was able to fit the rest of the batter, shaped into cookie balls, on the second tray, so not to take too long with multiple batches.

These cookies have great sweetness, but not overly sweet. The coconut sugar definitely has a different smell/taste/texture than regular granular sugar, but it’s so enjoyable!

I’ve changed the color below to show my changes:

Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 serving chia paste*
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

*Chia Paste – 1 tbsp chia seeds, ground … mixed with ¼ cup warm water (now, 1 tbsp of chia seeds yields more than 1 tbsp when ground … I only used 1 tbsp of the ground chia seeds … not sure if that was right, or if I should have used the whole amount of ground seeds!)

Make It Like So

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix together coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and chia paste
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flours, oats, baking soda, salt, raisins & walnuts
  4. Add wet into dry and stir until combined
  5. Using 1-2 tbsp of mixture, form into balls and flattery slightly and place in parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake for about 10 – 11 minutes, until golden
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The rest of the day was pretty lazy … for the whole household …

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Ayurveda … Doshas … Kapha …

I’ve heard much chatter about Ayurveda, but have read little. Today I decided to dabble …

Having listened to one of my favorite podcasts, The Ultimate Health Podcast hosted by Dr. Jesse Chappus and Marni Wasserman, and their interview with Julie Daniluk, I was drawn to do a bit more research. Based on their brief touch on the topic of doshas, I felt my dosha was Kapha.

I searched “Ayurveda” and picked The Chopra Centre website as a good place to start.

This site so far has some great information. Here, in PURPLE, is some of what I found regarding the dosha of Kapha … my comments are in GREEN.

Qualities of Kapha:

  • Heavy
  • Slow
  • Steady
  • Solid
  • Cold
  • Soft
  • Oily

Physical Characteristics

Kapha types have a strong build and excellent stamina. Large, soft eyes; smooth, radiant skin; and thick hair are also important Kapha characteristics. (I couldn’t agree more about the large soft eyes, smooth radiant skin, and thick hair – these all match my characterists!) Those who are predominantly Kapha sleep soundly and have regular digestion. (I’m more of a light sleeper, and didn’t have regular digestion until becoming vegan (briefly) in 2013 … then I was regular (TMI!!)) But when Kapha builds to excess, weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies manifest in the body. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression. (Overweight – check. Sleep excessively – not quite. Asthma – trouble catching my breath sometimes. Diabetes – possibly … in follow-up stages right now to determine if this is the case. Depression – in my past, yes absolutely … some low days at present, yes sometimes)

Emotional Characteristics

Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. (I think I thrive with routine!) When in balance, Kaphas are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. People with an excess of Kapha tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is, “I don’t want to deal with it.”

How to Balance Kapha

Seek stimulation. Since Kapha is inherently cold, heavy, and dense, the key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. Kaphas tend to cling to the status quo and routine (yes, very), so they need the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences. (one reason I love the choice I made to move to Vancouver … new sights, sounds, and experiences!)

Follow a regular daily routine, ideally awakening before 6 a.m. each morning. (meh … not before 6 a.m. … but almost always by 6:30 a.m. … “sleeping in” means possibly 7 a.m.) Avoid taking naps during the day.

Stay warm and avoid dampness. Kaphas are particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions and benefit from heat. (take me to Jamaica!!) Use dry heat if you are congested—a common Kapha complaint. Using a heating pad under your back or a sunlamp at your chest is often helpful. Avoid exposing your nose, throat, and lungs to cold winter air if you aren’t feeling well.

Perform a daily Garshana (dry massage) on your body to stimulate circulation. (have also been hearing much about dry brushing and I do have the brush required … just need to build that into my daily routine!)

Use an Ayurvedic neti pot to help prevent congestion. The neti pot is powerful tool for nasal cleansing. (I could see this being very beneficial. I have a deviated septum and often experience “nasal dripping” (gross, right!?) and congestion.)

Clear your space. To avoid clutter from accumulating in your home, office, car, and other physical spaces, regularly clean out and give away things that you know you’ll never use. (this is something I do often! If I don’t use it on a regular basis – I toss/donate it!)

Get regular exercise. This is the best way to avoid stagnation and the accumulation of toxins in the body. Focus on building endurance. Favor running (um, no. nope. not with this body yet), bicycling (yes!), swimming (yes!), aerobics, and competitive sports (does watching count!? LOL). You can also dance to energizing rhythmic music.

Use warm, stimulating aromas including cloves, camphor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, juniper, and marjoram.

Favor colors that are warm and bright, including yellow, orange, and red. (seriously!? I have always been drawn towards the cooler colours of blues, greens, etc.)

Nutritional Guidelines for Kapha

According to Ayurveda, it’s important to eat foods that have a balancing effect on the dominant dosha or that will pacify (stabilize) a dosha that has become excessive or aggravated. Because Kapha is heavy, oily, and cold, favor foods that are light, dry, or warm. Foods with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are most beneficial for pacifying Kapha. Reduce foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes.

Recommendations:

Try a liquid fast one day per week, ingesting only fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and pureed vegetable soup. (this would be awesome … will have to see about working this in! I juiced 2 meals a day for about 6 weeks at the beginning of 2013 and found I experienced great health benefits!)

Reduce the intake of dairy, which tends to increase Kapha. You can use small amounts of ghee, low-fat milk, and low-fat yogurt.

Avoid most sweeteners. Honey is one sweetener that can best pacify Kapha. Other sweeteners, however, should be avoided because they increase the Kapha dosha, contributing to problems such as blocked sinuses, allergies, colds, and lethargy. Take a tablespoon or two (but no more) of raw honey every day can help release excess Kapha. Do not cook with honey though.

Drink hot ginger tea with meals to help stimulate slow digestion and sharpen dull taste buds. Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. (something to try!)

Eat beans. All beans are good for Kapha types except for soybeans and soybean-based foods such as tofu, which should be eaten in moderation. (this is interesting as I find beans (canned, at the moment) really cause me to experience much flatulence. I want to try soaking and cooking dry beans to see if they better digest for me)

Favor lighter fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and apricots. Reduce heavier fruits like bananas, avocados, pineapples, oranges, peaches, coconuts, melons, dates, and figs. (omg … how to avoid some of my favourite fruits like bananas (in my smoothies), pineapples, peaches, coconuts, dates!!! Of course I have no problem eating more pomegranates … but they are so damned expensive!)

Eat lots of vegetables. In general, all vegetables are recommended but you should reduce consumption of sweet and juicy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. (vegetables – blech! LOL … and again – how to avoid a favourite like sweet potatoes!?)

All spices except salt are pacifying to Kapha. Use pungent spices like pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger freely in your diet.

Reduce intake of all nuts and seeds. Favor pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Limit consumption of red meat. For non-vegetarians, fresh, organic white meat chicken, turkey, eggs, and seafood are acceptable.

Use small amounts of fats and oils. Try extra virgin olive oil, ghee, almond oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, mustard oil, or safflower oil. (what about coconut oil?)

For grains, favor barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, rye. Reduce intake of oats, rice, and wheat. (yes – this makes sense … well, the wheat part makes sense. I thought oats were good … and they’re so easy!!)

In general, a Kapha diet should be lively and full of energy to help spark the digestive and metabolic systems. Eat your largest meal at lunchtime and a smaller meal at dinnertime. Allow at least three hours for digestion before bedtime.

What do you think? Have you read, heard or done any research on Ayurveda?

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Cashew No-Cheese Sauce

I have a co-worker who, many times, said how she isn’t a good cook. She doesn’t feel confident in the kitchen and most recipes intimidate her.

She is Celiac, and also has allergies to soy and almonds (?) … plus her husband is a “meat and potatoes” kind of dinner eater! LOL

I often think of her when I find easy DELICIOUS recipes … and I’ve started to pass them on to her. The first was the Takeaway Taco Salad recipe from The Un-Diet Cookbook by Meghan Telpner.

I wasn’t surprised when she came to work and told me that she made it, how easy it was, how DELICIOUS it was, and that her husband liked it (it has no meat)! He has even stopped by my desk (yes, also a co-worker) to thank me for passing along recipes to them.

However, when she made the Takeaway Taco Salad, they didn’t make the Cashew Cream Cheese sub-recipe … but since, she has made a recipe she found on her nutritional yeast package.

And she asked me to make it so that I could let her know how it compares to Meghan Telpner’s Cashew Cream Cheese. So today that was my weekly test recipe …

The recipe is found on the package of Bob’s Red Mill‘s Nutritional Yeast (I bought my bag from Safeway for around $11.50 CAD).

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

04-cashew-no-cheese-sauce

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, process into a fine powder
  2. Add nutritional yeast, salt & garlic powder – blend until combined
  3. Add water and lemon juice – blend until smooth

Makes 2 cups

This Cashew No-Cheese Sauce recipe is absolutely like cheese sauce – it’s creamy and cheesy! It would be divine over some steamed veggies or even as a nacho dip!

It differs greatly from the Cashew Cream Cheese by Meghan Telpner as that recipe is much more like cream cheese … it’s smooth and thick.

I like the fact that these are vastly different as they can have their own time and place!

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Coconut Curry

I came across a post about a Gluten Free Expo that was taking place in Vancouver, and I instantly went to the site and purchased a ticket. I went to a VegExpo a few months ago, and while it was good, the list of vendors for this Gluten Free Expo was a LOT bigger and quite a few more names I actually knew.

Luckily, Saturday was a dry day so I was able to walk to and from the expo and get some glorious natural Vitamin D absorbed through my skin!

I had decided to not let the potentially large crowd at the expo get to me so that I could view each and every vendor/booth. I arrived around 10:40 am (it opened at 10:00 am) and I finished seeing, tasting and buying around 12:50 pm! I absolutely took my time, asked questions, ate or drank samples, accepted freebies, and spent readily!

The 3rd booth I visited was the Spice Works booth and they were sampling their Butter Chicken and Coconut Curry “All In One” spice blends – prepared without meat, but as directed on the package.

I ended up buying one of each, plus a Satay blend and a Jamaican Jerk blend. And when I got home, I checked my cupboard for additional ingredients …

I needed chickpeas and coconut milk … both of which I had!! So I decided my “recipe of the week” wouldn’t be from a book, but rather from this product.

I’m very happy to say Spice Works is sold locally in some British Columbia locations (Vancouver being my main concern), but you can also order online!!! BC orders over $60 receive free shipping; whereas under $60 gets shipping for only $10.

On to the recipe … makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Drain & rinse chickpeas. Pour insert package from Mix over chickpeas and toss with 2 TBSP each olive oil and water – allow to sit, stirring to coat as often as you’d like (I think my chickpea mixture sat on the counter for 2 hours and I stirred to coat perhaps every 30 minutes)
  2. Cook Rice/Quinoa in 2 cups of water (I use a rice cooker … takes about 20 minutes)
  3. In saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Turn to low and whisk in remaining Mix – let simmer for about 1 minute
  4. Add in coconut milk and whisk to combine – let simmer for another 4 minutes or so
  5. Add in chickpea mix and stir to combine – let simmer until you’re ready to eat
  6. Serve chickpea coconut curry mix over rice/quinoa in individual bowls

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You could easily use cubed, skinless, boneless chicken instead of, or even in addition to, chickpeas. I found this blend of foods to be very filling!

Here is the nutritional breakdown (hope this link works!):

03-coconut-curry_nutrition

This is absolutely a spice mix that I will track down and make again and again! So easy – so delicious!!!

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Roasted Garlic Quinoa & Chia Bean Patties

I had originally planned on making a raw Pad Thai dish for Week 2, but after looking at the recipe in detail, it had upwards of 35 ingredients. That did not sound appealing!

Now, today is still technically in Week 1, but I am going to be out of the house for the majority of the day tomorrow, so I took the day today to make my Week 2 recipe.

I had a quick look through the Whole Foods to Thrive book and came upon 2 recipes that I thought might compliment each other. I made a list of the ingredients I didn’t already have and headed out to pick them up. I am happy to say that with just the few ingredients shown below, I am able to make both recipes!

02-roasted-garlic-quinoa-chia-bean-patties-1

Now, I’m sure you can imagine that I won’t need ALL the contents of some items (i.e. massive tub of coconut oil!) but how exciting that I can make 2 recipes with such few ingredients!

I made a couple of small changes to the recipes … such as using a sprouted rice & quinoa blend instead of just quinoa. I also substituted the brown rice in the patties for this blend.

So I roasted the head of garlic, which made my apartment smell SO GOOD!!! I wonder if there is a roasted garlic or fried onion candle … LOL

I also made the rice/quinoa in my rice maker. I needed 5 1/2 cups cooked, in total, so I needed to make 2 batches as my rice maker is a nice small appliance.

When I usually make the rice/quinoa, I melt in some butter/margarine after it’s cooked, and then toss in salt, pepper and garlic powder. It’s my absolute favorite flavor for this blend.

The Roasted Garlic Quinoa recipe has such great flavor because of the roasted garlic and holy smokes – this may just be my new favorite flavor for this blend! Something so satisfying about the taste of roasted garlic *nom nom nom!

For the patties, as noted above, I subbed in rice/quinoa instead of brown rice. I also didn’t have quinoa flakes, so I used quick oats. And I omitted the miso as I didn’t have any. The recipe calls for “minced” celery, carrot, and onion … but I was too impatient, so I threw them in my Vitamix and blended them up! I think this actually turned out better because it created much smaller pieces that I could have chopped by using a knife. It also allowed much of the moisture/water come out of the vegetables, which was perfect given the omission of miso.

While these patties are good, they could use something more. Perhaps some more potent herbs and spices. They have sufficient salt, so I know that’s not missing. I will likely HAVE to make them again so that I can experiment with seasonings.

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Takeaway Taco Salad

During the last bit of 2016, I was wondering what I would do to challenge myself in 2017. And since I’ve recently (re)found my love for cooking, I thought that a great challenge would be to test a new recipe at least once per week!

I’ve looked through and flagged many pages in 6 of my top choice cookbooks (in no particular order):

  1. The UnDiet Cookbook, by Meghan Telpner
  2. Whole Foods to Thrive, by Brendan Brazier
  3. Oh She Glows Everyday, by Angela Liddon
  4. Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook, by Del Sroufe
  5. Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking, by Dana Shultz
  6. Thrive Energy Cookbook, by Brendan Brazier

For Week 1, I decided to try a simple-looking recipe … Takeaway Taco Salad from The UnDiet Cookbook.

The base recipe has only 8 ingredients, with 2 sub-recipes with 6 ingredients each.

The first sub-recipe is Cashew Cream Cheese and is noted to be “the perfect dairy-free, creamy, cheese-y alternative” and can be made thinner to resemble sour cream. I’m always skeptical on cheese alternatives …

Well yet again, (author) Meghan has proven herself and her recipe to be great! This recipe makes about 1 cup of “cream cheese” and is noted to only last refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days … so I’ll be finding ways to use this!

The second sub-recipe is Tahini Dressing and I’ve made this a couple of times before with the Dressed to the Nines Sweet Potato recipe, so I know it’s awesome!

On to the base recipe! The theory of this recipe is to pack it into a mason jar and have it ready to go … on the go! But I’m trying it at home, so I’ve simply placed the ingredients in a bowl in a pretty fashion so that I could take a picture:

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Then I poured them all into a larger bowl, added the called-for amount of Cashew Cream Cheese (1 TBSP), mixed it up … then checked the recipe for how much Tahini Dressing to use. But it wasn’t specified.

So I opted for approximately 2 TBSP of Tahini Dressing and mixed it up. Once all combined, I poured it back into a more reasonably-sized bowl and dug right in!

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The recipe makes 1 serving … something I absolutely ADORE since I’m only one person and live with no others!

You’re only required to use 1/4 avocado … so I know I’ll have this at least 3 more times to use up the whole avocado. But I think this recipe could very easily come into regular rotation!

I made the dressings this morning so they could marry and thicken in the fridge during the day. But honestly – this recipe was so very easy!

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It is with a Heavy Heart …

It’s only heavy because it’s working so hard to pump blood to my unhealthy, overweight body!

Today, January 1, 2017 … I weigh in at 241.8 pounds (109.6 kg).

Today, January 1, 2017 … is the heaviest I will be in 2017 … and beyond!

Today, January 1, 2017 … I bundled up (it’s a balmy 2 degrees in Vancouver today) and walked to the Robert Lee YMCA and signed up for a membership.

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Today, January 1, 2017 … today is a new day, a new year, a new chance!

 

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Happy New Years Eve!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Years Eve!

The past week has been great for me. I went “home” for Christmas to my parent’s house.

I call it “home” because I think our parent’s home will always be home, but my apartment with my furries is my home.

DECEMBER 24

I flew in on Christmas Eve morning and Mom picked me up from the airport. The flight was great – none of the normal Penticton turbulence! We had a nice mellow day, made homemade pizza for dinner and Wayne made (cooked) saganaki for our appetizer.

Mom and I had a lovely hot tub before dinner … so nice because it was cold outside!

And since I was up at 5:00 am to catch my flight, I was actually falling asleep on the couch at 8:00 pm. So I retreated to my room and watched some CraveTV before going to sleep.

DECEMBER 25

On Christmas morning, I was up around 4:15 am … yes, what the f**k!? It wasn’t because I was Christmas-excited … I was just done sleeping. I stayed in bed watching YouTube until maybe 6:00 am.

Then we popped the champagne top and had some mimosas! Wayne was up around 7:00 am and we got settled for our stockings. Now … we agreed to do only stockings and a budget of $50 each.

So I was beyond surprised to have presents AND to have the $50 budget totally blown! I got the one item I asked for … a corksicle! And of course the usual socks! I also got my can of black olives and Christmas orange.

I also received gift cards from the Cactus Club, Sephora, BC Liquor Store, Walmart, and Costco! Plus Mom gave me a card with $100 cash! All in (cards and cash) I was up to $250 … and that doesn’t include the side gifts!

DECEMBER 26

Boxing Day I took Mom’s car and went to meet my bestie and her fam for lunch at Salty’s Beach House. Her man absolutely LOVES the Angry Chicken dish, so we know we can make it happen every year! It was so great to see her, her man (whom I introduced each other to!), her brother, her mom, and of course her 3 beautiful chicklets!

After lunch I popped across town and hit up Bulk Barn (because the closest to me in Vancouver is not close) for some nuts & seeds, and also Sally Beauty Supply (again, closest to me in Van is not close) for a glass nail file and more pure acetone.

Then I headed back to Mom’s where we were hosting an Open House for friends and family to come visit. We ended up having 15 – 20 people attend and it was a great afternoon. My grandma (Mom’s mom) and her new guy even attended!

By 5:00 pm everyone, except our close friend Jimmy and his girlfriend, had headed out, so I was able to turn on the TV for the IIHF World Junior Championship hockey tournament and the Team Canada game!

I finished watching the game in my room and then started to get a headache. So I had a hot shower and headed to bed … around 8:30 pm.

DECEMBER 27

On the 27th my flight was set to take off at 6:55 pm, so I needed to be at the airport around 5:45 pm. However, I opted to have my folks take me there around 3:45 pm as they were bickering and I don’t tolerate it well at all. I felt, for my own sanity and to avoid further anxiety, that I should leave their house and spend more than necessary alone at the (small) airport.

Luckily the time went by quickly, I was able to watch the Team Canada hockey game live through the TSN GO app, and right around 6:55 pm the plane was in the air.

By 8:45 pm I was home, unpacked and loving my fur babies!

DECEMBER 28

On the 28th I didn’t do much. I went to Costco to pick up some cauliflower, frozen fruit (pineapple & mango), chicken “nuggets” (I dislike the work nugget as I feel it suggests formed meat … but the pieces I got are from chicken breast), and romaine lettuce.

Next I headed to Safeway and got some garlic, tart shells (going to make more mini quiches), tahini, rosemary, chicken broth … and maybe more!

I made a quick batch of roasted cauliflower & garlic soup. It was so simply … literally roasted cauliflower and garlic, and chicken broth!

DECEMBER 29

On the 29th I met up with a friend from my Saskatchewan days – we hadn’t seen each other since the summer of 2010! We went for lunch and I had planned on walking around to show her some of Vancouver … but it was raining … a lot!

So after lunch we simply went on our way. I got her to the skytrain and on her way, then headed to Indigo and picked up the FitBook to keep me on track and focused in the new year.

Then I decided to check Bath & Body Works for the Winter Cedar candle that I received for Christmas from a manager, and they had them … ON SALE!!! So I got 2 of them, and 3 new body lotions (also on sale)!

Finally I stopped into Sephora and used my GC to get some new liquid eyeliner and mascara.

At home I watched the next Team Canada game.

DECEMBER 30

On the 30th I picked up some more cat food as the prices are going up effective January 1st. I also treated myself to a movie (La La Land), of course with a water and popcorn!

After the movie, which was a matinee, I remembered I had a $15 gift card from Joey Restaurant, so I headed down the block and had some yam fries and a couple of Happy Hour beers!

On the way to the movie I stopped into the Robert Lee YMCA and got some details on pricing and what’s included. At work, we get a $500 annual taxable fitness benefit (reimbursement) and I’ve been contemplating what to use it on. The YMCA is $60 per month (plus tax, of course) … so a full year would only cost me about $300 out of pocket. And in the $60 monthly fee you get access to EVERYTHING … pool … gym … gymnasium … aquafit classes … fitness classes …

And an added bonus is that they are waiving the $50 sign-up fee until the end of January. So I am highly considering signing up on the 1st. I would like to give it a try … test out the classes … definitely do some swimming!

DECEMBER 31

Today is now New Years Eve! My plans for tonight are the same as they are almost every year … probably get woken up by the fireworks! LOL

I was considering making a nice meal and renting a movie (Shaw on Demand … likely the movie “Sully“) … but I woke up wanting pizza. And not just any pizza but my favorite pizza from Famoso! It takes me about 45 minutes by skytrain and bus to get to the restaurant, but I’m willing to take that time out of my day for this pizza – especially tonight! I’ll have to call them when they open to find out what time they are open until.

Team Canada plays Team USA at 12:30 pm, so I’m booked watching the game until at least 3:30 pm.

I did some great YMCA planning and made Sriracha Chicken Caesar Salad for dinner.

I’m pretty well caught up on The Affair … so perhaps I’ll move on to renting a movie!

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers! I look forward to a stunning 2017!!!

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Blogmas Day 23

BLOGMAS DAY 23

There were 3 of us at the office in our group. So I plugged away at some tasks, did some Merry Christmas saying, and headed out the door around 1:30 pm.

On the way home I stopped by Pomme Natural Market and picked up a few more flavors of kombucha. I had planned on taking a couple bottles with me to my folk’s place … but then thought twice about packing them in my checked bag …

The bottles say “do not shake” so I thought it may not be best to pack them in a bag that will get tossed around. So I could forgo having any for 4 days, or I could stop and pick up a couple of bottles when I get into town.

I did one load of laundry, opting to wait until I’m back before washing my duvet cover. I’ve packed … and decided to keep to sweat pants/lululemon/pj bottoms and leave my jeans (that are feeling too tight) at home.

I ordered Pizza Hut for dinner and now I have not only a food baby, but I feel like going into a food coma pretty quick! The crust at Pizza Hut has to be a favorite of mine for take-out pizza.

I’m watching Suicide Squad and about to sip my daily tea!

Advent Calendar Day 24: Santa’s Secret

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“Ever wonder how Santa manages to deliver all those presents in just one night? Well here’s the hush-hush formula. He uses a special combination of Chinese black tea, peppermint leaves and spices – all sprinkled with real little candy canes. It’s both energizing and remarkably soothing. All Santa needs is one cup and his motto changes from “ho ho ho” to “go go go”.”

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I decided to have Day 24 on Blogmas Day 23 as the option for Day 23 is a chai blend and I’m not a fan of chai. So that actually means that I’ve left Day 21 and Day 23 untouched (Day 21 because I couldn’t open the tin).

This tea almost tastes like cotton candy with a hint of peppermint! It’s really cute with itsy little candy canes, too! If this one is around after Christmas (next week maybe) I will get some more.

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Tomorrow I won’t be posting for Blogmas as I’m leaving the house for the airport at 6:30 am and won’t be taking my computer with me.

I want to thank all that have joined me on my very first Blogmas journey and I hope it hasn’t been too mundane! This is simply my life and while it’s pretty simple, it’s very enjoyable!

If there is anything you’d like to suggest for content, please be sure to check out my Contact page!

Merry Christmas!!!

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