Reverb 12: Day 11

Kat at Tenaciously Yours has posted information about “a prompt-a-day series for the month of December that is meant to give us all the chance to reflect on 2012 and the opportunity to write down our hopes and dreams for the coming year.” Her post and the details are here.

Small Pleasures: What small pleasures did you discover this year?

There are small pleasures that I have enjoyed for half a lifetime, or maybe even longer: a long, hot bath; reading in the tub; cozying up in the corner of a couch with a novel; sitting by the fire; lying on the grass in the sun; milk chocolate; drinking hot chocolate after coming in from the cold; the feel of sand between my toes; a cold Diet Pepsi; driving down the highway while singing to a favourite song.

I have enjoyed each of those things in 2012, and added the following to my repertoire:

What’s your simple pleasure?

Project MIMAB (Make It Merry and Bright): Update

It’s almost the end of November. That means that not only will I be older (turning 37 on Friday), but also that Christmas is coming. Preparations have been going well for the big day. Internet shopping is the best. thing. ever. I have almost all of my gifts purchased.  For the kids, we decided that we would venture into the world of video games this year and are getting them an Xbox Kinect. I spoke with several moms who I know limit their kids’ gaming and they spoke highly of the Kinect system, stating that after a session of video games, their kids were sweaty and happy. The moms also said that they personally enjoyed the games and often spent time playing as a family. After hearing that, I took the plunge.

As for the rest of the holiday preparations, we have the tree up (but not decorated – that’ll be part of our Christmas countdown activities) and I’ve decorated the mantel.  Here’s the end result (ignore the bad lighting – I’m no photographer):

I’m so happy with how these decorations turned out. The framed print and the garland were downloaded here from eighteen25.  I had the print done at London Drugs and put in into a frame that I got on sale at Michaels, and I printed the garland portion off at home and pasted the print-outs to some green cardstock I had kicking around. The rest of the ornaments I already had, so it was relatively inexpensive in the end.

I just received our Christmas cards (sorry, no pics of these) from Snapfish the other day, and while I think I should have gone with glossy rather than matte, I’m happy with how they turned out. It’s just a matter of addressing and sending out now.

I haven’t started any Christmas baking yet, but that’s probably a good thing. On the baking list this year:

  1. gingersnaps (the best recipe ever is here. So good that my grandma asked ME for the recipe.)
  2. Christmas-y Rice Krispy treats from here
  3. red velvet cupcakes using Bakerella’s very excellent red velvet cake recipe

I’m not sure what else to bake. It’s been so long (6 years) since I’ve done any hard-core holiday baking that I have very recipes that I’m tied to and I wouldn’t mind trying out some new ones. Links and suggestions welcome!

Here’s how you know that I’m a total holiday junkie: I’ve ordered matching pj’s for my family from Hanna Andersson. Candy cane stripe is a good look for Christmas morning, right?

True confession time: I have not been working out and my eating has been not very good, either. I get home at the end of the day and am totally lacking motivation to do anything active, but I’m also tired, so I end up carb-ing up in search of energy. It makes no sense that I am absolutely certain that I would feel better if I just did something, but can not motivate myself to get my (gradually enlarging) butt off the couch. It’s a mystery to me that my mind can process all of this information and yet here I sit, kicking myself for not working out and still NOT WORKING OUT.

From here until Christmas, I’m committing to 15 minutes per day of something. It may be cardio, it may be yoga, it may be abs, it may be stretching. At this point, I just need to get doing anything, because that’s 100% better than nothing. at. all.

My veggie intake has also been crap, so I’m going to promise to have a low-sodium V8 per day, even if I have nothing else veg-wise, because you can not get any easier than that.

What’s your favourite holiday treat?Does your family do anything out of the ordinary/silly for the holidays? What’s your favourite holiday tradition?

My answers to the 3 questions above:

1) my mom’s jam jam cookies

2) I apparently like to get my family (me, husband, kiddos) matching clothing items

3) for my favourite tradition, when I was a kid, we used to celebrate Christmas on my mom’s side with a French Canadian tradition called reveillon, where we’d go to midnight mass (actually held at midnight) and then go to my grandparent’s house and have a meal (including tourtiere) and open gifts




Meal Planning Monday


Lunch: ham and cheese wraps, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots

Snack: fresh pineapple, vanilla yogurt

Supper: Italian sausage, potatoes, baby carrots, all done on the grill (yay for barbecuing baskets!)


Lunch: spaghetti and meat sauce, cucumbers, carrots

Snack: microwave popcorn, chocolate milk

Supper: Maple Salmon (recipe from, Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli (a Barefoot Contessa recipe), whole wheat rotini


Lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches, spinach salad with berries and feta

Snack: strawberry-banana smoothies

Supper: honey garlic chicken thighs on the grill, Zucchini and Carrot “Fries” (recipe from Voracious Vander), quinoa


Lunch: hot dogs, cucumbers, steamed broccoli

Snack: apple slices, cherry yogurt

Supper: grilled pizza (recipe from Sunset, probably one margherita and one with leftover honey garlic chicken), spinach salad

Note: we tried the pizza crust from the Sunset recipe last week and it was SO GOOD.  Put half in the freezer for this week.  However, in the future, I will divide the full recipe into thirds and freeze two portions, as each third portion of the recipe will make two decent-sized pizzas.


Lunch: cheese and grilled chicken quesadillas, celery, baby carrots

Snack: mini bagels with cream cheese and fruit (green grapes, pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries – note the Olympic colours in honour of the opening ceremonies Friday).  Idea from

Supper: leftovers

I really tried to keep my meals simple this week, and I’ve been doing a lot on the grill.  That’s what summer’s all about, right?

A Week in Review: Regular Workouts, Summer Activities, and Chocolate Cake

  • I have actually started working out regularly again: lifting weights, walking, and doing yoga.  My physio did some acupuncture on Tuesday so I didn’t do my planned workout as he advised (weights), and then I had the mega migraine last night so I didn’t get my workout yesterday either (he advised something light, like walking).  So, I walked tonight.  Overall, I have lifted weights twice, practiced yoga three times, and walked twice in the last week.  It’s a start.
  • I’ve got my kids for the next several weeks, before I start work/take over my future dental practice.  Last week was rainy, so there was more TV than I wanted, plus some indoors crafts and games.
  • Over the weekend, though, it started to heat up around here, so we’ve been outside a lot more.  The kids stayed overnight with friends of ours on Friday night (another of my husband’s cousins and her husband) so that my husband and I could have some alone time (which basically boiled down to dinner out and a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad Season 1).
  • Saturday, my husband and I tackled our mudroom.  Wish I had taken before and after pictures, because you couldn’t really see the floor for all the shoes, backpacks, and random gear strewn about, and now we’ve got shoes on shelves, summer gear in a bin, and even empty shelves for expansion.  I may get around to posting a picture of the end result…
  • Sunday I did some grocery shopping and we went over to visit friends and their pool.  It was a beautiful day and I didn’t have to make lunch, so what more is there to say, right?  We then had another set of friends and their son (the friends who watched our kids Friday night) over for a barbecue and to watch the Rider game.
  • Monday I babysat my nieces and the kids spent a lot of time in the sprinkler.  We also did some tie-dying and the kids loved it.
  • Yesterday, I had my kids – no nieces – and we did some science projects, which you can find here and here, and again they ran through the sprinkler a lot.  I also baked and iced a cake for my husband’s birthday, which was yesterday.  It was totally delicious – probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made – and you can find the recipes I used here (Devil’s Food Cake) and here (Chocolate Buttercream Frosting).  Later, the kids and I  did some hopscotch on the front driveway, visited with our neighbours, and then went inside where I was hit by the migraine just before my husband came over and took over.
  • Today, I had my nieces again.  We ran errand in the morning and then there was more sprinkler and swing time before I tried out some face-painting using these tutorials here and here as inspiration.  I didn’t want to post pictures of my nieces, but here are my kids:

  • As for the exciting travel news I mentioned earlier, my husband and I are heading to London to watch his cousin compete in the Olympics!  We’re pretty pumped and have booked our hotel, flights, and some event tickets.  Neither of us has been to London (unless you count Heathrow), so feel free to send must-see and -do recommendations my way!

What were your favourite summer activities as a kid?  I loved jumping on our trampoline, running through the sprinkler, going swimming at the lake, and playing hide-and-seek with all the kids in the community.

Meal Planning Monday

Time to get back to meal planning!  Strange how even though you’d think it would be easier to prepare meals in the summer months, what with a more flexible schedule, more produce, and the ability to grill without freezing my butt off, but I actually sometimes find it more difficult to plan ahead because our schedule is so much less rigid.  I also don’t really have a good collection of grilling recipes, so that’s something I’m going to have to work on.

I have added a few new cookbooks to my library recently and have bought a few magazines with recipes I want to try, so I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to make this week.  You’ll also note that, since my kids are home with me, I’m planning lunches for the week, except for Wednesday and Thursday, when I’m planning a roadtrip with the kids to Calgary to watch my husband’s cousin qualify for the Canadian olympic team.  Without further ado, here’s this week’s lineup:

Monday lunch: Not Your Average Grilled Cheese (Parents Magazine July 2012), steamed broccoli and carrots

Monday supper: Farmhouse Chicken and Corn Chowder (pg 10 America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution), whole wheat baguette, spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and sunflower seeds

Tuesday lunch: Salmon with Hoisin Glaze (, Garlicky-Spicy Snow Peas, quinoa, spinach salad with feta crumbles, sliced apples and celery

Tuesday supper: on the road

Wednesday: on the road/Calgary

Thursday: Calgary/on the road

Friday lunch: Shredded Barbecued Chicken (pg 154 America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution), corn on the cob, mixed green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, and Greek dressing

Any favourite grilling or salad recipes you can share?

Merry and Bright

Yesterday’s plan didn’t really happen.  To refresh, I’m talking about 8 cups of water, 7 minutes core, 6 flights of stairs, 5 minutes running, 4 sets of pushups, 3 sets of lunges, 2 sets of squats, and yoga workout on my TV.  I did get a 40 minute walk in with my kids (the slowest 2 miles ever! but they had fun), 8 cups of water, 6 flights of stairs, 1 set of lunges, and 1 set of squats.  But then I fell asleep early when I put the kids to bed, and the rest of the workout didn’t happen.  I ran the day before, though, so my hip was feeling pretty tight yesterday.  All-in-all, probably better that the running didn’t happen.

Today, I got a ton of stuff done:

  • slept in – aaahhh
  • had my TB skin test checked (it took 2 seconds to have it assessed, but it ended up being a 25 minute endeavour, what with the driving and hauling the kids with me)
  • took the kids to see Santa and got a picture
  • did a little Christmas shopping while at the mall
  • took the kids for lunch and let them have a special dessert (because they won’t be getting enough sugar the next few days – haha!)
  • picked up some groceries
  • had a mom meltdown in the store
  • enjoyed a little TV while the kids “enjoyed” some post-bad-behaviour-in-the-grocery-store time in their rooms
  • met with our financial planner for a yearly review (which we didn’t want to do, but basically had to)
  • took my daughter to the bookstore, where I picked up some Starbucks gift cards for my son’s hockey coaches and we each enjoyed a hot drink
  • bought some more Christmas presents at the bookstore
  • ran 3 flights of stairs
  • baked some Double Chocolate Chip Cookies and packaged them up for my son’s coaches/team managers
  • made Honey Garlic Chicken using this recipe, but made it in the oven, not the slow cooker (served with quinoa and steamed broccoli) – it was really tasty, and I plan to try it in the slow cooker soon
  • my husband took the kids out, so I did 6 sets of pushups (I just finished week 1 of One Hundred Pushups), went for a walk/run for 35 minutes, adding in some walking lunges and squats at the end
  • did some yoga and core
  • took a relaxing bath
  • baked some Double Chocolate Cookies with a Peppermint Patty Surprise from Rachael Ray, as recommended by Deana over at Soles of a Mom.  Haven’t quite finished them yet – they still need white chocolate drizzles and crushed candy canes – but had to taste-test one straight out of the oven and it was delicious
  • ran another 3 flights of stairs

It was a fun day and I hit my goals (9 minutes walking, 8 cups of water, 7 minutes core, 6 flights of stairs, 5 minutes running, 4 sets of pushups, 3 sets of lunges, 2 sets of squats, and a yoga workout on my TV), so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.

I’m also really happy that I’m running again.  It’s slow going and my left hip still feels tight, but I’m getting better, definitely.  Saw my physio the other day and he said to keep doing my strengthening exercises and start foam rolling a lot.  He’s noticed improvement in my range of motion and in my ability to stabilize laterally, so that’s good.  He gave me the okay to run and said to continue on with yoga (which I’ve been doing for a few weeks now).

And can I just say that finishing up a run with a nice, easy walk while listening to Diana Krall’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and enjoying the lights in the neighbourhood is so, so good?  Highly recommend.

If you’re a runner, have you been getting your miles in outside or on the treadmill? 

Do you enjoy the holiday light displays in your neighbourhood?

Running, Baking, and Frivolity: My Sunday in Review

I cranked out 11k today.  But, instead of “cranked out,” really it was “ran really slowly and occasionally walked.”  Nothing wrong with that, though.  Apparently, with the long run, you want to get in the miles without trashing your legs so that you can recover and have other good quality workouts during the week.

Unsure of how my IT band and knee were going to respond (I had to cut my last 6k short), I ran on the path near our house.  Out and back, out and back, out plus a little extra and back.  Sure, the scenery was a little repetitive, but I wanted to stick close to home, just in case my knee wasn’t going to make it.  And since I basically can’t make it through a long run without having to hit the bathroom, there’s that to factor in, too.

Around the 3k mark, it felt like my knee was going to give me some problems, so I took a walk break.  I continued to run after a 2 min break, but at a slightly faster pace, which my IT band seemed happier with. I have a feeling that’s a sign of some sort of inefficiency in my gait at a slower pace, but since I’m no running expert, I’m not sure how to interpret that.  I don’t have the lungs to carry on at a faster pace the whole time, so I went with walk breaks at 3k, 6k, and 8k to give my legs and lungs a bit of a rest.

I wouldn’t say I had knee pain, exactly, but definitely knee ache.  I’m seeing my physiotherapist tomorrow, so I guess I’ll wait and see what he says about it.

On a happy note, my GI tract was fairly settled throughout the whole run, which is, like, practically magical for me.  I tried out Clif Shot Bloks, ’cause that’s what they’ll have at the half marathon I’ll be running, and while I really like the flavour and texture, I am apparently completely incapable of running, breathing, and chewing at the same time.  I find Gu easier to take in on the run.  About 1k after I had the Bloks, I had some, er, intestinal urgency, but, miracle of miracles, I made it home without too much distress.  I think that’s the first time I made it past 8k without having to stop to use the facilities.

After the run, though, my stomach was rather unhappy, and then I added to it when I scarfed down some leftover BBQ Chicken Quesadillas.  Note to self: smoothie instead next time.

Later in the afternoon, I got down to some baking, with a little help from my kids.  I decided to go with Ding-a-ling Cake, which I mentioned here, but I think I might try out making some cake balls next weekend.

My daughter talked me into adding some sprinkles, so here’s what our cake ended up looking like:

So moist, but very, VERY sugary.  You definitely need a glass of milk with a slice of this!

In case your sweet tooth is feeling extra demanding this week, here’s the recipe:

Ding-a-ling Cake

For the batter:

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (I like kosher)
  • 1 c margarine (or butter)
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
For the icing:
  • 1/2 c margarine (or butter)
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 c icing sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Combine margarine, cocoa, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Pour over the flour mixture and stir until it looks like a paste.  Add the 1/2 c of milk, 1 tsp of vanilla, and baking soda and stir.  Batter will be thin.  Pour into a greased jelly roll pan and bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 c of margarine, 1/3 c milk, and 4 tbsp of cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Remove from heat, add vanilla, and thicken with 3 c of icing sugar (I would recommend whisking the icing sugar in as you add it slowly to avoid lumps).
Ice the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Last, but not least, I unleashed my inner 14 year old tonight and transformed my chipped manicure from this:
To this:

Normally I don’t get to wear nail polish at all during the school year, so I may have gotten a little carried away with the outrageousness of the colour and sparkly-ness…

I’ve got a fantastic week ahead of me!  Last-minute preparations before I start work in a week (eek!), kids’ soccer, 3 runs, 2 bike rides, 2 strength sessions, some physical therapy, and more cooking.

Any big plans this week?  What’s your favourite nail polish colour?