Friday, December 21, 2012

What makes me tough!

I'm excited to be part of such an awesome and inspiring team of women for 2013. Next year I'll be donning my Team Tough Chik running tees for some of my races. Read what makes me a Tough Chik here...
And I'm especially pumped that today I signed up and coughed up the money for my first 2013 race (it's not likely to be the first race I do in the year, just the first one I've monetarily committed to - the money bit is relevant - I normally have an incredible habit of mentally committing but procrastinating like crazy when it come to actually registering and paying!!) The first step to my 13 in 13....

So on May 26th I will be running the Abbotsford, BC 'Run for Water' 1/2 Marathon. Woo-hoo!

Linking up for Fitness Friday, and gearing up for the Christmas festivities. My fitness has already taken a major backseat for the holidays since our flight back to England on Monday - I'm just about keeping up with the holiday Squat-a-thon Challenge I'm playing along with this month (so dedicated I even did 90 squats in an airplane toilet on Sunday evening somewhere above the Atlantic ocean!) but apart from that.....I forgot how wild, windy and wet the UK was so haven't ventured out for a hike, let alone a run....maybe tomorrow ;-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Washi Tape Christmas Decoration

This makes me happy. This corner of our great room felt a little bare to me at this time of year - this is where we'd normally have a gorgeous 8ft Noble fir tree. But alas, this yeat it ain't happening. But what WAS happening was a little washi wonder!
Washi is so perfect for temporary decorations - it sticks well to paint but peels off easily and doesn't leave any marks!

First up I cut 3 red cardinals with my silhouette machine, along with 2 sprigs of holly and berries
I used a brown tape to roughly design a few tree branches coming out from the corner of the room. I didn't follow a plan; just kept sticking away till it looked right - and I was just tearing off strips of tape as I went - no scissors or ruler required! I wanted to make sure to have a couple of flat-ish gaps where I would position a few little red cardinals so I did keep that in mind as I went.

Then I just stuck on the birds and holly with blue-tack.

And there you have it! It fills the space perfectly and stops me feeling like there's a hole where a tree should be!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homemade Christmas

It's been tough for me not having a Christmas tree this year, but really I know it's a waste since we're not going to be around. And I know I'll be grateful that when we get back we don't have a tree to clear up and pack away!

I have still decked up the house though. And when I was putting all our stuff out I realised how much handmade decorations we have now, all since moving to Canada - love that!

This banner I made a couple of years back but this year is the first time hanging it upstairs on the mantle - I think it looks great here. I cut all the banner pieces and the letters with my Silhouette machine and threaded them all onto some red & white bakers twine.

The clip stand on the far left is the project I made in Teresa Collin's class back at Inspired Journey (you can see the original project when I blogged about it here) when I attended in May down in California. Again the designs were all cut with my Silhouette - though I don't recommend ever cutting that title out again - it was way too fine to suit being cut! You can see a better photo of it below.
The tree I made with lots of strips of Christmas papers pinned onto a polystyrene cone - it was time consuming but I do love it - my only small regret is that I didn't pick traditional greens and reds for the papers - I do like my traditional colours really - but when you're shopping for scrapbooking papers it's easy to get caught up in the 'fashion' of the latest collections and that year was blues, greens and pinks - ho hum!

My hanging 'mobile' of Christmas 'balls' I used 8 pre-cut circles (cut with the Silhouette machine of course!) and folded them in half and stuck the halves back to back then stick the final one to the first - then you can fan them out into a complete ball. I then threaded them onto embroidery threaded and topped and tailed each ball with some silver beads. 

And finally I whipped out the Silhouette (again!) for my Reindeer on the window - cut from white vinyl - it's a bit of regular decorating spot for me, in the past I've had snowflakes but this year it's a little herd of reindeer!! And look outside the window - sunny blue sky days in Canada and not an igloo in sight!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Thai Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup

We had so many pumpkins left over from our fall decorations and my slightly obsessive need to buy fresh squash from the farmers stalls before they closed for the year that it was time I did something with them.

After checking out a few things online about making my own puree and set to work. All I did was cut them open, scoop out the innards and slice into wedges and bake skin side up in a 350 degree oven for around 50 minutes. Once cooled I peeled off the skins and threw them in the food processor and pressed the on button. And let it do it's stuff. It changed pitch when it was done - like there were no more lumps to work through and it spun easy in the liquefying puree. And then I just measured out cup sized portions into freezer bags and popped into the freezer. (some directions I read up on suggested straining the puree, but I'm all for leaving out messy steps like that for an easier life - and I really don't think it needs it)

So now I have wonderful fresh puree. And I gotta say - don't buy canned puree ever again - I know it's pure, has nothing added etc etc but this tastes so.much.better and really is ridiculously easy!

It didn't quite all fit in the freezer (What with my freezey canned tomatoes and half a moose that hubby brought back from his hunting trip in the plains of northern Alberta last month - nothing like fresh, organic meat!!) so I decided to make some soup.

  • 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1.25 cups of stock (I used chicken, but veggie would be great too!)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 green chili (finely chopped)
  • 1 inch cube fresh ginger chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup brown rice (uncooked)
  • 1 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
  1. Saute the onion and garlic until lightly brown
  2. Add pumpkin, stock, garlic, onion, chili and ginger to a blender and blend until smooth
  3. Add to a saucepan along with the rice, coconut milk and curry paste and heat slowly for around 1/2 hour or until rice is cooked (I actually turned mine off after 20 mins and came back a couple of hours later - the residual heat, and being sat in liquid was enough to cook the rice)
  4. Bring to temperate ready for serving
  5. Garnish with some fresh cilantro and black pepper

This is my final week at home before heading away for the holidays. As far as my menu planning goes, its simply a case of using up what's in the fridge and pantry! We've got a couple of leftovers meals in the freezer from a few weeks back (Taco Casserole and Veggie Lasagna) and I could really use the space and my Tupperwares back so they'll be on the menu. We also have a date night meal out planned, and the rest will probably be soups and salads (with potatoes - we have lots of potatoes to use up for some reason!!)

I'm linking up (for the last time this year!) to Jill and Laura's Menu Planning Challenge.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fitness goals for 2013

I have lots of ideas sloshing around in my head about what I want to do running-wise this coming year. I'm not really one to make radical resolutions (apart from daft things like wanting to run a marathon in 2012!).
But I think that was always due to a little lack of confidence in my fitness ability. My first 1/2 marathon was originally a 10km, and it was only weeks beforehand that I switched my entry once I know my training was going well. But running that marathon taught me a fair bit about myself, not least that 'finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible'
Currently this is what I think I want to aim for in 2013;
  • Become a Half Fanatic (and I think I'm likely to try and achieve this by running 2 Half Marathons in 16 days - although actually my potential races are actually back to back weekends so I will hopefully achieve this in 8 days - my goal races being the Run for Water in Abbotsford, BC on May 26th and the Whistler Half Marathon on June 1st)
  • Run 13 in 2013 - A few people on my blogroll had done 12 in 2012, and they were all running half marathons.  For me that seemed a little ambitious (and too expensive with all those race entries totting up). But for 2013 they've opened it up to be able to run a combination of distances throughout the year totalling 13 races. Plus virtual races count. Many virtual races are free so that eases the money concern and often have some flexibility over when and where you do the run. The organizers are even hosting 4 virtual runs to help you on your way to 13! I'm in!
  • 5 by the 5th - Laura over at is hosting a series of virtual races from January through June - pick your distance - 5km or 5m and log your run. This is totally do-able for me and I'll have the fun of participating and virtually interacting with my fellow runners (plus they'll be counting towards the 13 in 2013.
  • Do a Triathlon - this is probably my sketchiest of goals. Honestly I don't normally 'lay it out there on the table' unless I'm fairly confident it's achievable. But this....I hate cycling, I'm not keen on swimming.....but it IS something I would love to have accomplished (yes past tense - I want to HAVE done it, not DO it!!) But there's only one way to get to the past tense eh?!

Other tentative race plans include the Vancouver Sun Run 10km, either the Seattle Rock n' Roll Half or the Vancouver Tough Mudder (have to decide as they're on the same weekend) and I expect some Fall Half to finish off my season. Sounds busy doesn't it?! Maybe I won't have too much trouble with the 13 in 2013 after all!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Etsy Shop

I've had my little Etsy shop for a while. It stemmed from me creating gifts for friends and family - I would digitally design a card and then print it and add to a frame - voila! a perfect and unique gift! But playing around in Photoshop becomes addicting and so I just carried on creating! My latest shop update includes a selection of new quote cards.

For the simple Inspiration quote cards (as shown) they come in at least 2 colour-ways and at least 2 background images - and all can be mixed and matched at checkout - so you can go some way to personalizing it! If that's not enough then I can also do a custom order - you pick the colours, background image and quote and I will custom create it for you!

I have been using these as teacher gifts and at work for our secret Santa exchange - I've printed them out and added them to a frame (you can get cheap ones at the Dollar store or with a coupon from Michaels so it doesn't need to be expensive) They've been an absolute hit - and for around $6 total including the printing of the photo!! All my cards are designed using Photoshop. I send out a high resolution .jpg file so it can be printed at home or uploaded to a photolab. It can be printed as many times as you like!

Please come and visit my store at

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crockpot Italian Turkey Meatballs

Instant success with these - they were just so tasty! Do try out this recipe - you'll be glad you did!
Ingredients (serves 3)
For the meatballs;
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 Tbsp Flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Ground Black pepper
  • 2 Shallots finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
For the Sauce;
  • 1 small can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 Tbsp Flat leaf parsley or basil finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix the meatball ingredients together in a bowl and form balls (around 1"). Place all sauce ingredients into bottom of crockpot and stiry well. Place meatballs on top of sauce and cook on low for 4 hours. After the first 2-3 hours of cooking gently spoon sauce over meatballs (being careful not to break up the balls)
This is my last of 10 new Crockpot recipes I tested and mastered* (got to be done twice to make sure the first time wasn't a flook before it's considered 'mastered'!!) - ticking off that particular item in my 2012 manifesto. Seems kind of surprising that I only managed 10, but anything that had been done before couldn't count! We now have 10 great recipes to add to our little repetoire!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's on the menu..

This is my new favourite breakfast...or snack! We decided that after having smoothies for breakfast for the longest time it was time to look at the nutritional value, and decided that we may not be getting enough protein to start off our oatmeal was back on the menu.
I've been loving these overnight oats recipes and have tried out a few that I'd seen on Pinterest, but in the end I just went with what I know and love and concocted something myself (besides we still have about 40lbs of apples in our garage!)
It's totally delicious either warm or cold.
Ingredients (makes around 6-8 servings)
  • 1.5 cups steel cut oats
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2.5 cups Almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Almond butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2.5 cups unsweetened Applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
Soak the oats and chia seeds overnight in the milk in the fridge. Next morning add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Store ready to eat in an airtight container in the fridge.
We are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to breakfast, so after having smoothies to start our day for the last 4 years this was pretty ground-breaking stuff to be switching to something new!!
Had a couple of little upsets to my menu planning this week - Costco snacks do that!! (and then you get home having wrecked your appetite so just snack in the evening coz a full meal is a waste) Anyway. Anything we don't eat this week we'll be rolling forward to the next week's plan.
Really trying to make sure we're getting in plenty of veggies in during this holiday season - in a meagre attempt to balance all the indulgences!! something hubby.
I'm linking up once again to Jill and Laura's Menu Planning challenge
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