Saturday, June 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals: June

Once again this month I took part in the Foodie Pen Pals exchange. I received this most amazing package of goodies from Meghan at Mostly Noodles. She's quite the foodie it seems and sure knows how to select a wonderfully thoughtful and interesting package of goodies. As soon as we were paired up she sent me a great questionnaire full of lots of questions so she could get to know me better. Then a couple of weeks later this arrived;

Meghan you picked well - thank you!

Here's a run-down on the goodies I received;
  • Franks Red Hot Sauce - I love this stuff when we're out, but we never seem to have it in our own pantry...until now!!
  • Camino Chocolate - where the heck did that go?!
  • Pumpkin & Flax Granola - as I explained to Meghan in my little questionnaire my 'go-to' lazy snack is often a bowl of cereal - it'll be great to try out a slightly different granola
  • Kind Bar - Love these!
  • Curry Salt - OMG - this sounds so good. And I may just try it exactly as Meghan suggests - on hard boiled eggs
  • Masala Curry Paste - The recipe on the back suggests making burgers with a little of this paste - I've done the same with a thai curry paste, but not an Indian curry paste. Next stop - the BBQ!
  • Dukkah Spice - I've never heard of this before, and other than a little note from Meghan to say it was her new favourite spice I was intrigued but in the dark as to what to do with it. A little investigation via google and I discovered this; dukkah is an Egyptian side dish consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, probably hazelnut, and spices. It is typically used as a dip with bread or fresh vegetables, and eaten as an hors d'Ĺ“uvre - mmmm! Can't wait to try this.
  • Cacao Chips - cookies anyone?!
  • Plus a great magazine 'Edible Vancouver' - which is just full of eye candy. Who doesn't love great food photography!?

My 'other partner' was Terri - if you'd like to see what was in the package I sent her then head on over to her blog 'will run for peas'.

Here’s a quick recap of what the Foodie PenPals program is:
  • At the beginning of each month, bloggers and blog readers receive their penpal pairing.
  • You have until the 15th of the month to send your package, and on the last day of the month you reveal the goodies you were sent :)
  • Packages are to be filled with foodie related items with a spending limit of $15. The box must also include something written.
  • As a penpal you are responsible for contacting your penpal regarding any dietary issues/concerns. (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, peanut free).
  • Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian, and UK residents. US residents are paired with US residents. Canadian residents are paired with Canadians. And UK residents are paired with UK residents. That way there’s no delay dealing with customs and everybody (hopefully) gets their package on time.
Want to join? Head on over to Lindsay’s blog and you’ll find more details and a sign up form for the Foodie Penpals program.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Project Life (weeks 21 & 22)

Week 21 covers the 20 - 26 May. Lots of movie watching for us this week. I rented a couple from iTunes for my journey back from LA (to watch on the new iPad of course!!), and then we had a early season trip to the drive-in theatre too - and watched Men in Black 3. It was better late than never with the plants tthis week - I finally got all the peppers, tomators and herbs planted - would've liked to have done it sooner, but time has been slipping away this spring!

and Week 22 covers 27 May to 2 June. We Started the week in Oliver for our 1/2 corked marathon. Chris sprained his ankle mid-week and then the culmination of a years work for me and the professional conference I'd been planning went off hitch-free! Busy, busy times!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Project Life catch-up (weeks 19 & 20)

So it might seem like I'm behind on project life here on the blog, but after a weekend at home to myself last weekend I am completely up to date! It's just getting around to photographing them all and uploading to the interwebs! Playing catchup last weekend reminded me just how much I enjoy whiling away hours of time on being creative!! I still love this project, although I know it takes me quite a bit of time, so I don't know if it's sustainable year after year (I'd like it to be, but the way I play right now it's too involved!) Just need to try and figure that one out....!
Week 19

Week 20 covers the week 13 - 19 May. At the start of the week took the plunge and paid our deposit for our new puppy - 7 long weeks to wait until she can come home to us! Within hours of posting the news on facebook for name suggestions we settled on Meli - Greek for honey - so perfect as we married in Cyprus so a sweet Greek word is kinda significant - and of course she's going to be our honey! I jetted off to the scrapbook event 'Inspired Journey' in Los Angeles for the Canadian Long weekend - it was also perfect to stop and see my Uncle and Aunt in Orange County, and of course get some serious shopping in (got a new iPad!) and lots of great food which had to be recorded! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crockpot Applesauce

With the warmer weather, the Crockpot hasn't been out quite as often, but I did pull it out this week to whip up some applesauce. The main purpose was to use up a bunch of slightly less than perfect apples I'd been collecting in the bottom of the fridge - I think there were Gala, Granny Smith & Red Delicious - really it was a pretty random collection and I used them all up.

  • 6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces (optional)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3" stick cinnamon
  • Lemon Peel - 3" strip 
  • Orange Peel - 3" strip
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
Throw everything in the crockpot and cook on Low for 4-5 hours, or until your apples are nice and soft. I stirred periodically along the way to gradually break up the apples as they became softer.  When done remove the cinnamon stick and citrus peels. At this point you could use an immersion blender to smooth it out, but I love the chunkiness so I left as is and called it good.

I'm looking forward to eating this on some hot oatmeal, but I'm not sure it will last that long - I've been eating it straight out the bowl as a dessert!

Makes around 4 cups.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chevron Wall art with Washi

I had a stack of empty frames and several empty walls in our spare bedrooms, and for the longest time I've been meaning to put the two together and DO something! Preferably without spending much money.

So in came the washi tape art deco project, and with the latest trend, what else could it be but chevrons?!

First I pulled a bunch of tapes that co-ordinated well together and cut them into 4" strips. Then I pencilled the outline just a little bigger than the aperture of frame mount I was using onto a piece of card stock. I also pencilled a diagonal line to use as a guide to get things going, and then just started taping, leaving just a couple of mm gap between each strip of tape. By having the outline already on the card stock  I know how much of the card I needed to cover with washi, and not to waste too much by taping way outside of the outline. This took around 45 minutes to complete and was an easy, fun and free project. It would also look great for a card don't you think?!

This is #3 out of 10 washi tape projects that I challenged myself to make this year as part of my 2012 manifesto. See my tealights projects here and my quick shelf makeover here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Shift

I'm attempting to shift priorities in my life right now. I've always taken pride in being super organized, and when I'm at work my time management is awesome. I'm effective and efficient. But when I get home it's a different story. I could blame it on my dear husband, but when we're together we are marvelous at spending an awful lot of time doing nothing. I do love doing nothing, but I don't like not getting things done. Work life has been crazy busy for me this last month, and I've been juggling 3 jobs/projects. It's been a buzz and I've enjoyed it but when I get home I've been too frazzled to keep me head straight. I try and keep lists of 'to do' items for home - I do like the 'ticking off' part to motivate me to get stuff done but my exercise has ended up being one of those items I feel like I need to be 'ticking off'. And that seems ridiculous.

All winter long I yearned to be out running. I admit it was probably easy to be vocal about wishing I could run, when at the time I couldn't do anything about it. And unfortunately the injury lingered on into April. But it's been around 6 weeks now since I've put on my big girl pants and got on with it. And as far as the ankle goes, exercise certainly isn't causing it any additional grief or pain - just stiffness (but after an Ortho' consult yesterday (finally!) it was pointed out that I ain't getting any younger!) I'm fine with that. And I am enjoying being back and running again. A marathon in less than 4 months is motivating the heck out of me. It's nerve-wracking having committed to such a race with no winter base of training. I started again from scratch come late April/May - and from scratch I mean a 3 mile run was a challenge. I'm anxiously upping my mileage each week and this past weekend I did make it back to my first 10 miler without dying. (no seriously it was fine, slow, but fine!) Added to which, I am once again carrying around what I've dubbed my 'winter weight-belt'. The last 2 years now I start the spring with an extra 8lbs compared to what I ended the summer/fall season with. It might not seem like a huge amount but on a reasonably slim build 5'3" person that 1/2 stone is quite a bit. Last year my times and pace in running didn't improve till as late as September when the weight finally shifted right off. So I've got that to keep in mind too...

So, what am I doing about it?

Traditionally I'd always been a morning exercise person, but in the spring when it's cold and grey and I was only doing little distances it was easier to go running after work. Only when it gets too hot do I start running in the mornings to beat the heat. And so far it hasn't been too hot. But my run is screwing with my evenings and hanging over my head as a 'chore', and that's a crap way to think about running.

Finally, after a light-bulb moment last night I realized I needed to start setting that morning alarm clock again regardless. (I think then my brain was in such overdrive about it all that I then had a lousy nights sleep and kept waking up thinking I'd missed the alarm clock.) So despite the grey, chilly, rainy* (and I don't 'do' rain - so this was true commitment!) morning I got up and went. And it felt good (and faster!). It was refreshing and sweet and invigorating. And now at 10.30am, I'm sat at work, feeling smug and rather pleased with myself, and I can look forward to my evening so much more, and all those other things on my 'to do' list seem so much more doable. That little shift was just what I needed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Project Life (weeks 17 & 18)

I've slipped behind a little with my project life. Thing is with this fabulous project is that LIFE gets in the way!! I'm not stressing it, because I've been so busy but I've been missing my creative outlet.

This weekend was the culmination of more than a year's work for me; organizing a conference for 185 child care professionals. It happened. And I was incredibly happy with how it all turned out. I've organized a couple of other events - a music event for around 2000 and a smaller professional event for around 50 in the past. But this was something different again. It was a new challenge and it's been an exciting time for me. The last couple of weeks have been full of those little butterflies of 'what if's' and 'what have I forgotten?' but it really did go off without a hitch and flicking through my delegate evaluation and feedback forms people seem to have been happy. I had a moment come Saturday evening when the last of our stuff was packed up and I was making my way to my car to drive home, where my eyes may have welled up a little - this was my baby....and it had flown the nest! Back in the office on Monday morning and there's still plenty of wrap-up work to be done. But in 2 weeks time the 'project' will be shutting down and I'll be reducing my hours at the agency. It's the end of an era!!

Not content with 2 days of working around 12 hours a piece on my feet and in brain overdrive, I then decided to skip the Sunday morning much deserved lie-in and do a 10km trail run race. My first 10km trail race!! Another amazing event by the Dirty Feet people. We took part in the 5km last year but I was ready for more of a challenge. A fabulous venue through Myra Bellevue Provincial Park with view of the city and lake (not that you can spend a lot of time looking when trying to skip your way across the boulders and streams!) Chris has sprained his ankle last Wednesday. Bad. Like me back in December. It swelled up much worse than mine, but we're experts in dealing with ankle sprains in this house and we were straight on the treatments and luckily he's been walking without crutches. But my fellow trail running companion was most certainly out of action!! It was a tough course - the first half at least - I think from km 3-5km it was just straight uphill walking - it was all I could do not to stop - but I didn't. I like my downhills and was flying come the half way point. In the end I finished in 1:16. Perfectly happy with that. I was surprised just how much it took it out of me. I was utterly gimped for the rest of the afternoon and evening!

Anyway. That's life. And before all the busy busy-ness kicked in, I did do some project life pages. These are weeks 17 and 18, covering the period  April 22 to May 5th - I can't believe it - it seems so long ago - this covers Chris's birthday and a visit from his Mum!

Week 17

and Week 18
As you can see I was incredibly short of photos!! Still I did LOVE this shot of the beautiful Lake Okanagan on my run so it was also a great one of blow up nice and big. I also added in some food packaging due to the complete lack of photos!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Half Corked in the Okanagan wine region

3 Hours, 18.5km and 12 wineries - not your typical race statistics but this was not your typical race!

The weekend before last was the Oliver 'Half Corked' marathon. This event is organized by the Oliver Wine Tourism office and celebrates and promotes some of the 23 wineries it has in it's tiny region of the Southern Okanagan. It's a small race - just 650 participants, and when registration opened back in February it sold out in 3 minutes. Popular? Uh, YES!! I didn't really realise our good fortune in snagging entries into the run until we'd done it - and my goodness I will be there with speedy fingers next year because this needs to be on my calendar every year!! I LOVED it.

This was not a race to take very seriously. You got that impression when you shared the school bus shuttle ride to the start line with cowboys, bananas, Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, giant bunches of grapes and various superheros - yes this was fancy dress central!! I can't believe the effort people put into their costumes. I'm a bit of a fancy dress bah-humbug, but for this even I made a little effort! (I actually loved what I wore - a decent amount of effort, but completely practical for running for 3 hours - and our socks got heaps of compliments!)

We set off in 3 waves - we snuck into the 2nd wave leaving at 8:50am and started on our very picturesque journey through the rolling hills of the Southern Okanagan Wine region - along farmyard tracks, dusty roads, riverside trails and between the grapes in sweeping fields of vines. En route we stopped at 12 different wineries wine tasting. Our first swig was probably around 9am - not bad for a Sunday morning!! This could sound really bad - and it's tempting to let you think it's this crazy, drunken 18km fest. But that would be pretty irresponsible right? And it was hot too - even worse! Actually I don't think I've ever been so well hydrated in any race I've done - and no, not just from the boozy grape juice! We did sample at every stop - but of course it was just a taster. But we always chased that down with a refreshing cup of cold water - that's 12 cups of water!. High performance gels and GUs were switched out for nibbles along the way too - cheese and crackers (of course!), breakfast smokies, fig rolls and then later on fruity ice pops, fresh strawberries and pastries and some delicious cucumber and mint consomme.

At the finish line, instead of medals we received a commemorative etched wine glass and a bottle of wine, made from a blend from all 23 wineries. Then we sat out on the grass of the sports field and enjoyed a  yummy brown bag lunch, a candy bar, a lemonade stand and oh, more wine samples ;-)! whilst we basked in the glorious sunshine and patted ourselves on the back for getting to be part of such a fabulous event!

By the way, in case you weren't sure...I really, really loved this event! We had such incredible fun! There are so many reasons why I fell in love with this region, and made the move to emigrate when I had no intention of emigrating, and why, when we did decide to move to Canada, it wasn't just Canada it was here - the Okanagan - and so many of those reasons were wrapped up and bundled into this event and reminded me of how thankful I am of my wonderful life here.

But don't tell anyone about it, because it's already oversubscribed and I want to take part again next year!
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