So…didja miss me?

Truthfully, I started this blog purely as a hobby/way to keep myself entertained during my year off from school, and the last little while, I just haven’t been itching to write about anything.  But I’ve been thinking a little more about it lately, because in two weeks I will be beginning a month-long venture in Europe with one of my best friends and know that I will want to document some of our adventures here.

In the meantime, I needed some post inspiration…and what better place to look than my fridge?

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I love breakfast.  It is by far my favourite meal of the day (well, other than brunch), partly because there are just so many options–sweet, savory, last night’s leftovers.  I’ve never been one to skip breakfast if I can help it, because a) I am usually ravenous when I wake up and b) I am also usually very unpleasant.  Apologies to family, ex-housemates, and anyone else who has encountered me before I break the fast.

Lately, I’ve gotten a little more creative with my pre-work breakfasts, and I thought I would share the recipes I currently have on rotation in case anyone is needing a little inspo–or incentive to eat breakfast at all (please do it, your body and brain will thank you).

I am the worst and slowest at getting ready in the mornings (also confirmable by family and friends), so I can guarantee that these are all super fast and easy to make.  But more importantly, they are delicious.

#1: Fruit & Nut Overnight Oats

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Possibly my favourite of the bunch (though admittedly, it doesn’t photograph too well).  Requires less than a minute of effort in the morning (or none if you’re not a banana fan) and is seriously SO yummy.  I’ve been playing around with overnight oat recipes for a few months and I think I’ve hit the nail on the head with this one:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons nuts and/or dried fruit (I use a mix of almonds, coconut chips, dried blueberries and dried cranberries)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Add all ingredients to a mason jar, screw on the lid and shake up.  Place in the refrigerator overnight – the oats, nuts and berries will absorb the almond milk and all the flavours will meld together.  You shouldn’t even need any more sweetener in the morning.  I just add 1/2 of a sliced banana, then take the whole jar in the car for my drive to work!

Bonus: not only is this recipe healthy, it’s also super filling.  And remember, morning Caj = ravenous Caj, so you can take my word for that.

#2: Smoothie Improv

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I call this “smoothie improv” because I don’t have a go-to recipe.  I’m sure even saying this is redundant, but the beauty of smoothies is that you can use pretty much any fruit (or veggies) you have on hand.  That said, my two current favourites are:

PB&J Smoothie

  • 1 frozen, sliced banana
  • 1 cup berries (whichever you have on hand)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • splash of almond milk (or up to 1/4 cup if you like your smoothies more liquidy)
  • optional: 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Sneaky Green Smoothie:

  • 1/2 frozen, sliced banana
  • 1 cup spinach (you don’t taste it, I promise!)
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1/2 cup berries (of any kind)
  • 3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • optional: 2 tablespoons of rolled oats (blended into smoothie) or granola (sprinkled on top for texture)

These are just approximations – I change it up all the time, and sometimes get lazy and throw things in without measuring (I know, CRAZY).  In general, I just try to strike the best balance I can between healthy and filling ingredients–peanut butter, greek yogurt, chia seeds and oats will all help keep you full.  If you have protein powder that doesn’t taste like chalk, that would also be a good call.

Tip: If you know you’ll be rushing out the door in the morning, cut, wash and/or freeze your fruit the night before.

#3: Starbucks-Style Spinach & Feta Wrap

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I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory.  Like the Starbucks spinach & feta wrap, but homemade and wholesome.

  • 1 whole-grain wrap (I like spinach or sundried tomato wraps for extra flavour/prettiness)
  • 1 small handful sliced mushrooms, cut in half
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 eggs, whisked (or just the egg whites if you are healthy like that)
  • 2 sundried tomatoes, chopped (squeeze in paper towel first to drain excess oil)
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled feta

What to do:

  • Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and sauté mushrooms on medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add spinach and continue sautéing until mostly wilted.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add eggs; push everything around the pan like you would with ordinary scrambled eggs, until eggs are cooked and spinach is completely wilted. Season with salt and/or pepper.
  • Optional: warm up the wrap in the microwave for 30 seconds, or on an additional frying pan (no oil) for 30 seconds on each side.
  • Pile eggs, spinach and mushrooms on wrap and top with sundried tomatoes and feta.  Roll up and enjoy immediately or wrap in foil to take on the go.

Stay hungry!

Caj

 

 

Happy Easter/Passover/long weekend, everyone!  I hope you’re all enjoying your final day off.  I don’t have one, but I figured maybe you could use yours to make a delicious brunch featuring this winning recipe I tried out yesterday.  Let’s just say it’s earned itself a pretty solid spot on the weekend brunch rotation.

Adapted from this month’s issue of Chatelaine, we have egg & toast tartlets:

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^ How cute are these guys?!

Here’s what I used:

  • 12 slices white bread (I used Dempster’s)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion (white or yellow), diced
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (if yours come in a can, I recommend soaking up the oil with a paper towel first)
  • 12 eggs (small are recommended, but I could only find large at the grocery store)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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Here’s what I did:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 ºF.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking oil.
  2. Cut the crusts off of each slice of white bread.  Flatten each slice with a rolling pin before tucking it into a muffin cup, pressing along the bottom and sides (the slice will fold on itself slightly).  Place the pan in the oven for 5-7 minutes until bread is lightly toasted.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and allow butter to melt.  Add onion and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and brown.
  4. Add maple syrup and spinach to pan and stir.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, until spinach is wilted. Image
  5. Distribute onion-spinach mixture evenly into each toast cup.  Sprinkle with sundried tomatoes and crack an egg on top of each.  Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until egg whites are solid but yolks are still runny.

Enjoy with fruit and, ideally, some bacon.  Preferably arranged artfully in a cup.

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Stay hungry!

Caj

 

I can feel it in the air: spring is nigh.  I’ve felt it ever since I arrived back from my 5-day stint in Jamaica (or maybe it’s just a vacation carry-over effect?).  Whatever it is, I’ve been feeling significantly more cheery.  As you have probably read at least three times now, spring is my all-time favourite.  After the holiday excitement is over, winter just gets me down – and sometimes I don’t even realize it until the birds start to chirp and the sun comes out and I think “oh, this is how I’m supposed to feel”.

Anyway, I’d really like my newfound cheeriness to stick around, so I decided to take the 100 Days of Happiness challenge.  Turns out, my problem is not so much finding things to be happy about, but remembering to take photos of them (or at least good ones).

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Day 1: Returned to my beloved Barreworks after months off due to various injuries (real and perceived).  I LOVE Barreworks classes and will definitely be making them a regular thing again.  Looking forward to gaining my muscle back so I actually have something to flex…

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Day 2: Received a BC starter kit care package from Kyle, complete with Moleskine notebooks and a new raincoat.  I’m ready to learn to embrace the rain!

 

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Day 3: Childish Gambino with Sep.  Amazing concert, terrible picture.

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Day 4: True to my usual post-concert obsessions, I watched Donald Glover stand-up on Youtube.  Yes, this is from Google images.  That counts, right?

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Day 5: Jaclyn came over for dinner.  We made fajitas and amused ourselves with our high school yearbooks.

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Day 6: This beautiful photograph is evidence of the rain, which I am now embracing, melting all the snow away.  I’m definitely okay with that.

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Day 7: My favourite meal of the day with my favourite girls.  We went to Barque Smokehouse, where I enjoyed devoured the pancakes with smoked duck, blueberry compote and chèvre.  Followed by a lemon meringue doughnut from Glory Hole.  To die.

On to weeks 2-15.

Stay smilin’!

Caj

You might be wondering why I tried a juice cleanse in the first place.  Three reasons:

1. Usually I’m pretty good at recognizing when I haven’t been eating well and making healthier choices, but lately I’ve been struggling with that and generally turning to food (and not the fruit and veggie kind) for comfort.  I hoped that a cleanse would help kickstart me on a healthier path both physically and psychologically.  Plus, why not see if there is any truth to all the health and beauty claims?

2. Ever since Greenhouse Juice Co. opened, I’ve become a juice convert.  I absolutely love their products and their brand.  It’s hard for me to pick my favourites, but I really love Gold Rush (pineapple, cucumber, lemon, and ginger) and Deep Roots (beet, carrot, apple, celery, and lemon).  East of Eden (romaine, kale, celery, apple, and lemon) is also a good choice – I just go for whatever I’m feeling that day.  Also: for every ten bottles you return, you get a free juice AND a free yoga class.  Also: their smoothies are SO good.  Drinking “The Rio Deal” is like sipping a ginger cookie through a straw.

3. I’ll try just about anything once.  Not crack though.  You’re on your own there, Mr. Ford.

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^From left to right: Clean-Zing, East of Eden, E3 Live Booster, The Good, Almond Milk, Reishi Booster, Deep Roots, Chia Seed Hydrator. Each with its own health-enhancing properties.

So, without further ado, here is a peek into my day-to-day experience…

Day 1

8:30am: Pick up my juices at Greenhouse, feeling excited to begin my new adventure.  The first juice of the day, “Clean-Zing”–water with lemon, maple syrup and liquid cayenne, à la Master Cleanse–is not my favourite but I have had it before and am more or less used to the flavour.  Either way, nothing can sway my motivation at this point.

9:30am: Take obligatory Instagram photo of juice lineup (see above).

10:00am: Crack open the first actual juice of the day, East of Eden.  I am happy to start my day off with a juice that I know I enjoy – it fuels my motivation, and I’m already counting down to my next juice.  Let’s be real, though: that’s mostly because I’m hungry.

12:00pm: Apprehensively contemplate the E3 Live booster, a blue-green algae shot that resembles swampwater and is supposed to improve mood, brain function, and hair/skin/nail health.  I am pleased to discover that it has next to no taste.

Craving: All the Easter chocolate I see while walking through Shoppers.

1:00pm: Time for The Good: romaine, spinach, cucumber, celery, lemon, and Himalayan salt.  I’m a little nervous about this one too–it’s the only juice I haven’t tried before due to its being made entirely of vegetables–but it’s surprisingly good.  I really like the hint of salt.

Craving: Sushi.

3:15pm: Almond Milk o’clock.  This isn’t just any almond milk – it’s made with coconut oil, vanilla bean, and dates for extra sweetness (or are they all? I wouldn’t know).  The first time I had it it was a little watered down, but this batch is AMAZING, almost like a milkshake.  The vanilla bean is a seriously welcome addition and I feel like I’m having a well-deserved treat.

3:45pm: Feeling horrible and sweaty post-downing 500mL of almond milk in under half an hour.  Pace around before putting my head on the desk in an attempt to rest before my 5:00 physio appointment.

4:20pm: In the car driving to physio and yawn-yawn-yawning all the way there.  Doubting that I will make it through my hour-long appointment.

6:30pm: Made it home!  Time for my Reishi immunity booster, which I became scared of when I learned that it’s a mushroom extract.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE mushrooms–they are my favourite vegetable and yes, to me they are a vegetable and not a fungus–but I want to eat them, not drink them.  Luckily, just like the E3 booster, it goes down like water.

Craving: A bagel and cream cheese.  Can’t remember the last time I’ve craved this.

7:15-8:15pm: Sipping Deep Roots while watching a couple episodes of Scandal.  Feel a pang of jealousy as I smell my dad heating up some of our friend Martha’s homemade chicken noodle soup.

9:00pm: Decide that I can’t put off drinking the Chia Seed Hydrator (alkaline water, chia seeds, lemon, and maple syrup) any longer.  Shake up the bottle and brace myself for my first sip.  Want to gag at having to swallow mouthfuls of slimy chia seeds whole.  Feel more jealousy as dad takes an oatmeal raisin cookie out of the freezer.  Force myself to drink 3/4 of the bottle before dumping the rest down the drain and calling it a day.

Craving: A salad topped with canned tuna.  If you know me well, you will now understand just how much I hate this chia seed thing.  Canned tuna is the one edible thing on this earth that I despise.

Bedtime: Apart from the hour post-almond milk-guzzling, I felt completely normal today.  It is 11:00pm and I still have a lot of energy, actually, even though I didn’t sleep well last night.

Day 2

8:00am: Wake up as I always do, hungry and excited for breakfast.  Alas…

Craving: Breakfast cereal.  Any kind will do.

Then: This apple cinnamon bun from Piroshky Piroshky (sigh):

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12:15pm: This algae shot tastes a little worse today.  Ugh.

12:40pm: Losing faith in my willpower.  I really want solid food.

1:15pm: Everything tastes really intense today – The Good is really salty.  I’m thinking I could really appreciate the flavours and textures of that bagel and cream cheese right now.

Craving: Any food ever that appears on my Instagram feed.

3:00pm: Mmm.  Almond milk (consumed more slowly this time).  Looked forward to this one because not only is it the tastiest of the bunch, it’s also the most filling.

5:30pm: My thumbs are purple.  That’s pretty standard for me though.

7:00pm: Take Epsom salt bath as suggested by Greenhouse + the internet.  Prop my laptop on the counter so I can multitask by watching Homeland.

Craving: Teriyaki salmon and broccolini?  I don’t know, solid food.

8:25pm: Tonight was supposed to be bad, but I still feel completely normal.  Just really, really thirsty.  Does that even make sense?

Craving: Anything and everything that my dad is eating right now.

10:00pm: Starting to feel like I might have the beginnings of a sore throat – you know that annoying scratchy feeling?

Bedtime: Honestly, other than the throat thing I still feel fine.  Maybe that just means I didn’t have a ton of toxins to begin with?  I find that hard to believe, but who knows.  I’m not complaining.  I’m probably jinxing myself for tomorrow though.

Day 3

7:30am: Wake up with a worse sore throat than before.  Jinx confirmed, or this cleanse is finally working its magic.

8:00am: Search the house frantically for my phone before finding it in the pocket of the vest I am wearing.  Feel generally weak and kind of like I have cold sweats.

Craving: No food – just a nice hot cup of tea.

8:30am: Pick up my juices from Greenhouse, substituting the Clean-Zing for the Long John (a hot version of the same thing).  The flavour is even more powerful in hot form, but it energizes me and soothes my throat.

12:00pm: I’m sweeeeepy.  Someone bring a fuzzy/furry blanket to my office please.

12:10pm: Look in the bathroom mirror and notice that my lips are tinged green from juice.  That’s a good look.

2:30pm: The salt in this drink makes me so.  Thirsty.

Craving: Everyone’s Instagram food.

4:00pm: Feelin’ pretty spritely as I leave the office.  Oh, almond milk, I will miss you.

5:45pm: Rudely awoken from my nap on the couch by the phone ringing.

6:15pm: This is definitely my shitty day.  The sore throat is back in full force and I feel phlegmy (sorry), weak and tired.  Ugh.  I had really been hoping to end off on a good note.  This calls for more Scandal.

6:30pm: Spitting into Kleenexes between each sip of Deep Roots.  Again, sorry, but if you came into this post thinking it would be all sunshine and roses, you were mistaken.

7:45pm: Soothing myself with some herbal tea.  It occurs to me that I haven’t craved caffeine once in the past three days – guess I’m not as dependent on it as I thought.

8:30pm: I just want to get into bed.  But that chia seed thing is beckoning…ugh.

9:30pm: Wow, I actually finished the bottle.  I also popped an Advil for my sore throat – I wanted to avoid it but I also want to sleep.

10:00pm: Just as I am getting ready for bed, I have a renewed sense of energy/general health.  Of course.  Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel after all!

Day 4 and Final Verdict

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^ I woke up like dis.

My sore throat has abated and I’m feeling good, just hungry.  Though I had some rough patches, overall I felt pretty normal during the cleanse.  My main complaint is that I had a hard time sleeping, probably because I just had so much energy every night.  And/or maybe I’m not yet used to the time change.

As for the other health benefits: My skin is definitely the clearest and softest it’s been in a long time.  I feel more positive and cheerful.  And maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I also think my hair is shinier, teeth are whiter, and vision is clearer.  More than anything, I’m proud of myself – I never would have guessed I’d have the willpower to follow through with this so completely.  I feel accomplished and like I’ve truly done a good thing for my body.  And I do feel motivated to continue down a healthier path.

Let’s see how that goes…breakfast, anyone?!

Stay glowing,

Caj

P.S. Because you’re probably curious, this healthy splurge cost me $65 per day (before tax).  I think it’s a great investment, but definitely one I’ll be making less-than-frequently.

I’ll admit, I had this whole Culinary Creations post planned where I would display my masterful efforts at making red velvet whoopie pies, using this recipe.  Unfortunately they were not masterful at all – the dough was super sticky, the cakes were dry (and a little salty) and try as I might, I couldn’t get the cream cheese icing not to drip all over the place.  I probably didn’t do a good job of converting the weight measurements to volume measurements (because I whole-heartedly trust The Londoner’s baking expertise), but whatever the reason, I thought I’d save you the pointlessness of that post and just let you feast your eyes on this little burger-thing:

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^ That icing…ugh. Luckily, my sweet tooth was salvaged this morning:

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^ An acceptable pre-breakfast snack.

I’m feeling all cheery today. I’ve got my red pants on and pink glitter on my nails.  I love this “holiday” because it gives me a perfectly valid excuse to send out warm fuzzies, whether in a text or a homemade greeting card:

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Stay loving!

Caj

…minus the ‘Yo.

Actually, minus everything except Nutella and banana.  FYI, yesterday was World Nutella Day, and I’m not one to let a holiday slip by without finding some small way to celebrate.

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This could not possibly be simpler:

  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup Nutella

Note: you can taste the banana a bit more than you can taste the Nutella, so if you’re like me and would prefer the Nutella to shine, I’d try a 1/2 cup.  Because chocolate and hazelnut.

You’ll make your life even easier if you slice the banana before freezing.  I popped the whole banana in the freezer like a noob, but it was actually pretty easy to peel and slice after running it under hot water for ~30 seconds.

Mix up in your magic bullet, top with some hazelnuts if desired (toasted and crushed would be heaven), and stick in your spoon!

Stay hungry,

Caj

In the aftermath of an admittedly less-than-stellar month, I am welcoming February with open arms.  While I usually hop right on the New Year’s Resolution train, this January I made one excuse after another for myself in a dangerous cycle of self-pity.

But I’m choosing to forgive myself for that, wipe my slate clean and treat February as my true start to 2014.  Look out for a more mindful, kind, punctual, carefree and non-symptom-googling Caj.

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^ The key to a fresh start? A delicious breakfast. :)

A few things I have to look forward to this month:

  • A more varied fitness regimen.  After months of the same boring gym routine, my body is finally getting back to normal, and I can’t even describe how exciting it has been to ski, snowshoe, swim and DANCE again.  I’ve even been sneaking in a few mini, mini runs at the gym.  I’m still pacing myself, but I plan to keep changing it up so that exercise can once again be something I look forward to.
  • Enjoying 3-course meals for cheap at Winterlicious (on til February 13).
  • Valentine’s Day.  Yep.  Even when I’ve been single, I’ve always loved V-Day and used it as an excuse to wear pink and red, gorge myself on baked goods and perform little acts of kindness.  This year, you’ll find me baking some of my own festive treats (and sharing the recipe(s))!
  • A clearer view of my future.  The pieces are starting to come together–slowly but surely–and I’ll be excited to share more once I know everything for sure.
  • Just the general fact that we’re one month closer to spring.

Stay fresh,

Caj

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a recipe on here, which is a shame – the food posts are some of my favourites!

I recently realized it had been a while since I’d actually put substantive effort into making a meal, so I resolved to make myself a nice dinner entirely from scratch.  No shortcuts allowed (well, maybe one or two).

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One of my go-to recipes while at school was a chicken stir-fry: a chicken breast, some frozen veggies and a dollop of my housemate’s honey garlic sauce sneaked from the fridge.  I decided to rework the recipe with fresh veggies and quinoa instead of the rice I had used at school.

Here’s what I used (approximately…I tend not to measure things much when I’m cooking):

  • 1 cup mixed red and white quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Olive oil
  • 1 raw chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • About 1/3 package sliced mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, rinsed and sliced
  • Handful broccoli florets, rinsed
  • Handful snow peas, rinsed
  • 2-3 tablespoons Asian sesame dressing (I used Renee’s store-bought version–there’s my shortcut–but you could make your own using this recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

This makes 2-3 servings, depending on how hungry you are.  I’m eating my second portion for today’s lunch!

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^ Note: You’ll probably want a skillet or wok that is bigger than this, so you can cook everything more evenly.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Combine quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiled, reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
  2. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil on a large skillet (or wok if you have one) and warm over high to medium-high heat.  Add chicken breast, mushrooms and onions and stir around, making sure to flip the chicken pieces so they are cooked on all sides.  Add a drizzle more oil if chicken or veggies start to stick to the skillet.
  3. When chicken is nearly cooked through, reduce heat to medium and add pepper and broccoli.  Again, add a drizzle more oil if needed.  Continue to stir.
  4. Once peppers have softened and broccoli has turned a darker green, reduce heat to low and add in snow peas, Asian sesame dressing and sesame seeds (I leave the snow peas til the end because I like them crunchy).  Stir to thoroughly coat chicken and veggies with dressing and seeds.  If quinoa is still cooking, leave on low heat to keep warm.

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^ That shadow…

Once it’s all done, scoop some quinoa onto your plate, top with stir-fry mixture and toss, adding a little more dressing and another sprinkle of sesame seeds if desired.

Stay hungry!

Caj

I’m going to come out and admit it: I’m having a rough month.  I guess the anticipation of a new year is sometimes better than the new year itself, especially when you’re only 3 weeks into it.

I’ve been feeling bored and blah and sorry for myself, even though one of my new year’s resolutions was explicitly NOT to feel sorry for myself.  In fact, I’ve been having a hard time sticking to my resolutions in general and letting myself feel defeated.  I’ve found that even the most simple-sounding goals can be surprisingly difficult to put into action.

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The short days, monotony of the work week, and polar vortex are all obviously contributing, but the main reason I find myself in this funk might make you laugh.  When it comes to my self, I’m a bit of a serious perfectionist, which causes me to become overly dramatic when something goes wrong.  Right now, I’m feeling like a 62-year-old stuck in a 22-year-old’s body.  I’ve been working for months to rehabilitate my knees, only to start feeling more pain as well as clicks, cracks and pops in literally every single other joint.  I try to keep my mind off of it, but it’s hard when I feel/hear it with every move I make.  To cap it off, exactly three of my fingers and three of my toes are swollen, with X-rays and three rounds of blood work so far yielding no explanation.

“What is going on?!?!?! Do I have arthritis? Is it a lost cause? Am I never going to be able to do all the things I love, like run or dance, again?” - My brain.  Give me a break, brain.

I’m waiting for my beloved springtime, with its sunshine, flowers, birdsong and boundless hope, to come and rescue me.

In the meantime, I’m starting a gratitude journal.

Stay POSITIVE!!!,

Caj

You’ve already read about my adventures in Québec with my family, but that only sums up half of my holiday travels.  The week after going to BSP, I flew out to Calgary to spend a week with Kyle.  Of course, no good travel plans go at least partially unfoiled – Kyle’s flight from Campbell River was delayed and he had to drive to Nanaimo, take the ferry to Vancouver and then race to the airport in order to barely make it onto a later flight to Calgary.  It was 4am Toronto time by the time we went to bed!

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Each morning was spent just the way I like it: leisurely, with a hearty breakfast.  We ate a lot of eggs, turkey bacon, and grapefruit. In fact, we made a lot of great meals that week–fish tacos, kale-sausage spaghetti and my personal favourite, bison chili.  We more or less followed this recipe from my August visit to CR but with a special ingredient that kicked it up an extra notch: Granville Island Lions Winter Ale.  The notes of vanilla, chocolate and caramel perfectly complement the bison meat and healthy dose of cinnamon.  Consumed while Kyle re-introduced me to the Star Wars saga (I haven’t seen the movies since I was really little, at which point I paid no attention to them anyways).

Other culinary highlights included taco take-out from Los Chilitos and my personal favourite, dinner at Home Tasting Room.  Kyle hates when I take photos of food when I am out with other people, but I obsessed so much over the bison tartare that I needed to document it for later reference.  Sorry, Kyle…

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Actually, of the two tasting plates we shared–this + a chive-ricotta gnocchi, pictured in the background–I much preferred the tartare and Kyle much preferred the gnocchi, so I was lucky enough to get most of the tartare to myself. :) For our mains we both wanted to order the seared pork loin, but I changed my mind at the last minute and ordered duck l’orange and was SO glad I did.  I definitely recommend this restaurant if you are in the Calgary area.

Over the week, we did a bunch of walking around the city, exploring downtown and feeling super grateful that the buildings in the downtown core are all connected with overpasses so you don’t have to freeze your tush off.

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We took a little walk along Bow River, where families and friends were skating on the ice:

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And because I applied to the University of Calgary, we did a walkabout of the campus.

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After our homecooked pasta dinner on New Year’s Eve, we headed to National on 17th to ring in the New Year.  Included in our entry tickets were mussels, oysters, sliders, a craft beer tasting, and of course a champagne toast.  Oh and, can’t forget all the crucial NYE headgear and paraphernalia:

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^ Looks pretty empty in this picture, but it filled up quickly, and we amused ourselves with a lot of people-watching.  Another thing I should note about National 17th is that they have an amazing beer selection.

The most perplexing/amusing part of our week was when we drove to Lake Louise for a day of snowshoeing.  First we arrived at the hotel, where we couldn’t rent snowshoes but could take some pretty great photos…

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Then we made our way over to the ski resort, where we rented snowshoes before being told that it is “too dangerous” to go snowshoeing on your own.  We had to join a guided snowshoe tour, which we were totally fine with, but little did we know that this “tour” is actually “designed for beginners and includes a brief introduction to snowshoeing where your instructor will show you how to use this easy and fun equipment,” as described on the website.  In other words, do not do this tour unless you have never seen a snowshoe before.  We walked within viewing distance of the chairlift, stopping every 60 seconds to hear fun facts about the surrounding nature and wildlife.  So I guess, do this tour if you are more interested in nature and wildlife facts than you are about getting some exercise.

We just laughed it off, and I happily sipped some Bailey’s hot chocolate on the drive back home (I hope this is implied, but I was not driving).

We wrapped up the week with a leisurely coffee date at Caffe Beano, a super-hip coffee shop a few blocks down the street.  It was cozy, my hazelnut latte was perfection and the fresh-baked bread smelled amazing.  If I lived in Calgary I think it would become a regular haunt.

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Keep exploring!

Caj

P.S. I’ve seen a lot of great Oscar-buzz movies in the last little while: Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, but I can’t stop raving about Her.  Have you seen it?  What’s your pick for best movie?

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