Welcome to an Awesome Life

If you love coffee and food, and appreciate dry humour and childish antics then we're off to a good start. If you are interested traveling, DIY, home remedies, and random nonsense to you I say: Welcome :-) And I suggest you start by reading About Me to see if you'll want to punch me or not before continuing. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Kitchen: Here I Come!

I want to eat like a rock star every single day. Problem? I'm neither a rock star, nor a gourmet chef in a 5-star restaurant. Solution? Put our 10,000 kitchen gadgets and cookbooks to good use. It's incredible how many appliances and gadgets and books two people who love food can accumulate and yet seldom use. No more, I say! So friends and family alike: be prepared to be bombarded by my random creations - and you know it will probably usually be desserts. Deal with it. Love it. Enjoy it. Or I will find people who will. So there.

Feast your eyes on some of my past edible things (apologies - they aren't great photos):

Tie Dye Cupcakes (for Easter)
First attempt at cakepops

Cupcakes: Cookies & Cream, Candy Cane Tie-Dye
Cupcakes: Cookies & Cream, Marshmallow Birthday Cake

Mini Guinness Cupcakes

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
Banana Crumb Muffins

A bit of Canadian pride on Canada Day (1st attempt at working with fondant!)

PacMan Chocolate Covered Pretzels - made by myself and Rachel.

BUT!! the new photos will get better and better every time because it's also a reason to use the devil-camera. I feel like a lot of fun, food oriented photos could come out of this. 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Some DIY and Local Awesome

A bit of local awesome:

I was somewhat traumatized a handful of years ago, when I experienced my first spa-manicure. I won't bore you with the details, but it ended with a (probably) life long painful ugly mess of a non-growing cuticle. I swore I'd never do a mani (or pedi, not that I'd ever had one) at a spa, ever again... until today. 

For my most recent birthday, I was given a voucher for a mini-spa adventure which included a mani, pedi, facial and arm/hand massage. A girl can't say "no" to some pampering, especially not a girl who's on a mission to explore her hometown while creating herself. I'm glad that I was given the opportunity to get over my dis-taste for spas because this experience was a world away from my last. The owner, Emily, was a gem. She made me feel totally relaxed and at home. I will be back! She doesn't have a website, so I snapped a quick picture of her brochure:
Beautiful, relaxing view

A few fun cleaning tips, inspired by Pinterest:

1) Drain cleaner made from baking soda, white vinegar and boiling water. So simple and it worked like a charm! I used it in the bathtub drain which was definitely getting clogged up with a lot of hair, especially after giving a couple of felines a bath or two recently. It really couldn't have been much easier!

2) Jewelry cleaner made using dish soap, salt, baking soda, hot water and a piece of tin foil. Again, so simple and incredibly effective. I was shocked at how sparkly an old family ring came out - I've never seen the diamonds so sparkly! Be sure to read through the comments on the post as well, there are more helpful tips there.
So easy!

3) Microfiber couch cleaner using rubbing alcohol in a spray-bottle, a sponge and a bristly-brush. Our light-tan microfiber couch gets a lot of abuse (I really need a bib when I eat/drink anything) and has consequently seen much better days. We were honestly starting to consider tossing this one in the basement apartment and replacing it with something of another material. Well, I don't think that any of that will need to happen because the two small test-spots that I have used appear to be turning out gorgeously and I can't wait to get started on the rest! I will try to remember to post before and after photos when I do.

And that's about all that I have to report for the day. I plan to spend the next two days devouring my camera guides and hopefully starting on a photography project to get me practicing. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

3 Days of Fun & Thoughts

Some thoughts, encounters and fun from the past three days:

1) PacMan pretzels, made by myself and BFF:
Inspired by this post that I found via Pinterest. Not horrible for a first try!

2) Cucumber Baseball:
I have no idea what the cucumbers did to deserve that, but it was funny! If you were there, anyway...

3) While visiting Nanny over the weekend, she lent me The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book she had been raving about. It's written in a style that I've never read before but I really thought that it was fantastic. The story tells the happenings of a man and his young son who are walking across post-apocalyptic - and extremely freezing - America. It really make you think about what people would do if ever faced with such dire circumstances. I feel that it's, sadly, not far off from the events of this book. I've learned that there is a movie based on the story and I may just have to check it out to see how it compares to the book.
I always seem to enjoy any book recommended by Oprah's Book Club

4) Boyfriend and I visited the newly opened restaurant The Works which everyone has been raving about, but neither of us were overly impressed by. The service was fairly attentive but you could really tell that they were recently opened as it got a bit awkward at moments. The decor was a sort-of construction site/pub feel and the way they served the food and drinks was very unique (see photos). However, we both found that our fries were very hard to chew and tasted of old grease, and the burger patties were charcoal on the outside and dry as a bone inside. We had already waited for half an hour on a not-too-busy Monday night, and weren't overly interested in waiting any longer for new food if we complained, so we did our best to eat what we could. It has potential, but I think we'll be waiting for them to iron out the new restaurant kinks before returning.
Drinks served in measuring cups!
Lightbulb S&P shakers
Wilty-looking fries and a charred burger.

5) Weeds only has one more episode! After 8 seasons and 101 episodes of Botwin family shenanigans, they have come full circle back to Agrestic/Regrestic where they are wrapping things up and the cast is moving on. I'm alright with it, they really had a good run while it lasted but it couldn't possibly drag on any longer. I wonder how it will all end?! So exciting!

Not to worry fellow Weeds fans - Justin Kirk's (Uncle Andy) new comedy Animal Practice starts on September 26th. If you didn't catch the pilot episode that aired just after the Olympic closing ceremonies in August, be sure to watch the premiere. Unless you don't like monkeys in lab coats... 

5) Sons of Anarchy season 5 premieres tonight!! I know, I know -I'm talking about a lot of TV but, at least it's super-epic TV. I am stoked to have the entire incredibly talented cast of SOA blow my mind for another season. If you've never watched it, you are seriously depriving yourself and I'm sad for you. 

6) I was able to read about 3 pages of my Magic Lantern guide to our DSLR last night, and I feel that I've already learned a lot. I'm pretty stoked to see what else I'll learn, and have even started an inspiration board on Pinterest. Check it out!

Until tomorrow....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hello, Friday!

I failed at posting yesterday. I had every intention of writing and even almost got back out of bed at 1am to do so, but I decided that sleep was a better option - I figure you'll forgive me. I did start my day off being productive, but by mid-afternoon I had the worst random headache I think I've ever had (I very rarely get headaches outside of the typical sinus headaches during allergy season). It knocked me right out of commission. I feel for people who get them on the regular. Honest. I would smash my head open with a hammer to relieve the pressure if it were me. At any rate, staring at a computer screen was not an option for the rest of the day/evening. 

But I was still a bit productive before that:

1) I found a wonderful website on cat nutrition that is very informative, and I know it will be a great tool for when I make the transition from commercially produced cat food to a raw diet prepared by myself. Her FAQ section is incredibly extensive, and she even provides a letter both from you to your veterinarian and vice-versa.

2) I have officially convinced my taste buds that coffee is still delicious without my beloved flavoured non-dairy creamers. They really are a guilty pleasure of mine, but there's nothing healthy about them. We only buy flavoured coffee anyway so really, do I need the extra flavour? As I have learned, that's a negative. Which is awesome, because I typically consume the contents of a full 4-cup french press every morning. One win for being healthier! 

3) Mike purchased a couple of kettlebells a few weeks ago, one for himself and one for me. Neither of us have the first clue how to properly use them, but we knew they were highly beneficial judging by their recent rise to fame amongst our fitness guru friends. Yesterday, I spent some time searching through YouTube videos for some reliable instructions so that we could finally put them to use. After finding a few great videos, I tried out the kettlebell swing which seems to be a great starting point for beginners. I heard that they were great for cardio, but wow - they really get your heart pumping! I think I'm officially addicted. Another win for being healthier! 
Can you guess which one is mine? Teehee!

4) I supported the local economy and spent quality time with my mom all at the same time by enjoying a delicious lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, The Favourite Greek. I'm sure that I've written about them already but I don't care. They are that good.
*Bonus points: I decided to make the 15-minute walk to the restaurant instead of have my mom pick me up as was the original plan. More wins for health! 
Greek salad and Meze: spanakopita & various dips with pita. YUM.

5) When my headache finally started to subside late last night, we decided to watch the movie Hick. We'd never heard of it, but it caught our attention because Blake Lively is one of the stars, and we do love us some Blake Lively. And honestly, anything to help me with my Gossip Girl withdrawals is good by me.
The movie itself was definitely a bit strange and I'm not convinced that it was a perfect fit for Blake, but the girl who played main character Luli was truly amazing. Everyone: keep your eyes open for Chloe Grace Moretz, a 15-year old actress who already had a pretty credible resume that is only going to grow. Watch for her starring role as the title character in the remake of the Stephen King's Carrie, currently filming and due to be released in 2013. I know I'll be making a solid effort to watch her work!  
I guess that's about it for my Thursday. Today will definitely be a bit more productive, especially now that I've received my guides for our DSLR:
I wonder which one I'll enjoy more?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day #2 of "School"

It's day #2 of the School of Awesome. How am I doing so far? Well, let's take a look at my last two days....

1) My idea to break my days into hour-long segments is sort-of working, even if I don't remember set the timer every hour. I am definitely more aware of passing time and am using it to focus myself back in on whatever it is that I am supposed doing. I've also been successful in deflecting several attempts at distracting me from my mission. I can't blame people for trying though - I'm honestly so easily distracted and haven't yet proven to them how serious I am about this. My suspicions are that it won't be that way much longer because with all of the thinking and reflecting I have been doing recently, I have finally decided on which direction I'm headed for - at least for the time being.
2)While I'm not willing to disclose all of my decisions quite yet, photography is definitely along my chosen path. Upon making this decision, I started searching for a guide specific to our particular DSLR so that I could actually start figuring out what everything does and why I would want it to do that. I spent several hours over the course of a couple of days reading through articles, customer reviews, photography blogs, and books and eventually decided on two different guides. Both come with very high recommendations, however the people who seemed to like one didn't like the other. What better way to decide which one is best for me than to order both? Hopefully they'll arrive before the weekend so I can get started soon!

 3)Although in my last post I said that I'm not going to go to a physical educational institution, I have decided to enroll myself in a six-week online course. I'm definitely not ready to share with you what it's for quite yet but in time, and especially if I find that it's worth my time and money, I will spill the beans. I can definitely promise you that if I learn what I hope to learn, it will be super beneficial in all aspects of my life!

4) I am very interested in both pet nutrition and doing things the natural, holistic way. We currently feed our cats Orijen as a free-feed dry food (measured daily - no overfeeding here!), and Merrick's wet food twice a day. I know that feeding cats dry food isn't exactly 'natural', but Orijen is about as awesome as dry food could ever be, plus they have great values as a company. And they're Canadian.
As with Orijen, Merrick's locally sources, prepares and packages their food, only they are American... which is pretty much local too. Anyway, they reason I am blabbing about this is because I have decided that I'd like to try to make my own cat food. Yup, that's right - I've gone off my rocker. Right off the deep end. Pretty soon I'll take up knitting and starting bridge clubs. 
Orrrrr not. Honestly, I just really think that people need to be more educated on what we put into our animals and how it affects them. So there.

...Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

School of Awesome

 Well, summer holidays are officially over and everyone in my town has gone back to school. This year I have decided to take some time to do a bit of "schooling" myself. I am using quotations because I'm not actually going to an educational institution. While I did go to college for one semester a couple of years after I graduated high school, it honestly wasn't for me. The thing is, I love to learn but I despise school. I always have. It's not that I'm not good at it, it's that I feel very boxed in and suffocated, maybe even a bit like a part of a herd of cattle. Everyone pays thousands and thousands of dollars to be force-fed the same information by the same person in a giant class where the teachers and professors don't even know your name and nothing is tailored to how you learn. Absolutely none of that sounds appealing to me in any way, shape, or form.

I know far too many people who owe ridiculous amounts of money for post-secondary education and yet very few of them are putting that education to good use. For many, there just aren't any jobs in their field of choice while many others realized that what they once thought they wanted, is no longer the case. This is not the path that I wish to take, so I am making my own. I am debt free, I still have more than half of the money in the bank that I started my summer with, and my credit cards still have a $0 balance so I am now going to spend a bit of money on customizing my own form of education.

I have a few things that I'll definitely be learning and working on and a few more things that I'm seriously considering, but I'm not going to share all of my ideas just yet. For the next 4 or so months, I will be using my weekdays to work on some serious personal development. I will be breaking my day into 6-8 one-hour-long segments in an attempt to focus myself and be more productive. During each of those segments, I will choose one topic to really focus in on and do as much as I can during that hour. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can do something incredibly awesome, I just need to focus myself. Really, really focus myself. 

I've had the whole summer to reflect on my life and this is honestly my best move. If I put myself a few thousand dollars in debt for this, I really don't see how that's any different than all of my friends who owe tens of thousands of dollars for diplomas and degrees that most of them don't even use. In fact, I think it's much better. I'll be able to learn what I want, when I want and I won't be spending anywhere near the amount of money that they have and will. The real challenge here is to stay focused on my goals, as I am very easily distracted and lose confidence in my ability to do great things. I think a lot of that is due to who I choose to surround myself with. Don't get me wrong - I love my friends and family, but unless they are truly supportive of what I am doing and are going to be encouraging, not skeptical, then I honestly need to not worry about them so much. Life is far too precious to listen to doubters and nay-sayers. 

"Remember: Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway."  - Eleanor Roosevelt

I will be updating this space at least 5 days a week, so if you'd like to follow my journey and maybe learn some new things or share your knowledge and experience with me, I welcome you with open arms. Perhaps you will even be inspired to do something similar! To anyone who wants to keep asking when I'm going back to work and rolling your eyes when I tell you my hopes and dreams: piss off.