Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Show Love

Long before I started blogging myself I read blogs so I know that this time of year it's pretty common for bloggers to choose a word for the upcoming year. Focus on that word and make it a theme for the 12 months ahead. I knew it was something I wanted to do in 2014 and I've been thinking about which word to choose for over a month now. I narrowed it down to five and carefully considered each one before making a decision. 

Humility 
Grace
Joy
Love
Peace

Humility. For awhile this was the word I was stuck on, but then I also wanted to be more confident. That led me down a very confusing train of thought about balancing being confident and being humble. For a few days I thought that I'd made a decision and in 2014 I would spend time discerning how to improve my humility and also improve my confidence. Then I thought about it some more and decided that challenge may be a little advanced so I moved on to the next option.

Grace. It's part of my blog name, it's one of my favourite words, I would totally use it as a name for if it wasn't for every third kid being named Grace/Gracie. It seemed like a good choice, until it seemed too easy. Not challenging enough. Still one of my favourite words and concepts but I wasn't sure how to really make it into a theme for the whole year.

Joy. Focus on finding joy in the little things, being joyful in all situations and circumstances. It's pretty straight forward. I wasn't feeling it though, it seemed like a word I had to consider because it "make sense" but when I really thought about it I couldn't get myself excited about making it my word.

Love. There aren't many things in this world that are better than love. God's love, romantic love, love between friends, family, loving the little things. Lots of options for love. But again, it just didn't feel right. Somehow declaring that my word of the year would be Love felt flat and boring. 

Peace. I'm a worrier by nature. Anxiety is something I am extremely familiar with. I could use some more peace in my life. I couldn't sell myself on it though, like love, it felt like a word I was only considering because it I should be, so I moved on.

Which left me with all the words on my list crossed off for one reason or another. So I looked at all the words I had originally written down and tried to find a commonality between everything. After a few minutes something jumped out at me and I knew almost instantly without having to spend days mulling it over that my 'word' for 2014 would be a (short) phrase.

What I like about this phrase is that it's short enough to be easily remembered, vague enough that it can apply to all situations and yet specific enough that there's no questions about the focus. Show Love. I think it does a good job of encompassing a lot of the aspects I was trying to focus on with each of the words I was originally considering. I can show love by bringing joy to others, by being gracious, by being peaceful, praising God, by being humble, there are so many ways to show love. To myself, God, friends, strangers, the planet. I'm really looking forward to challenging myself to showing love over the next twelve months. 

How will you 'Show Love' in 2014? I'd love to know what word you chose for this year!




Monday, 30 December 2013

Monday Musings

I was originally planning on posting my "Word of the Year" post today but then I realized that today is one of those days where I just need to share my random thoughts about life and its happenings opposed to anything even remotely thought out with lots of pictures and (mostly) grammatically correct sentences. So bare with me and tune in tomorrow for my word of the year reveal. 

I have my word all ready to go but then I started thinking I should have a verse too? Does anybody else choose a verse for the year? I'm obviously familiar with choosing a word. And I know of people who choose life verses for their children or a verse for their marriage but I've never been exposed to a verse for the year. I like the idea, but it's also overwhelming to try and choose a verse for the entire year in a day or two. 

Last night I was totally on top of things and portioned out a bunch of fruit and spinach to make a smoothie this morning to sip on while I read through blogs. This morning I got up and was magnetically drawn to the Keurig where I brewed myself a cup of French Vanilla coffee and have yet to make myself truly regret said decision. Points for trying right?


I was supposed to hang out with one of my best and oldest friends last night while he's home from university. Then his parents decided to head to the city a day early because of the impending snow storm so he wouldn't miss his flight back to school.

Speaking of snow. There are 160 cm of snow down. That's over 5 feet for those of you on the imperial measurement system. There's another snow storm in the forecast for tomorrow. We are 30 cm away from beating the previous snowfall record in December that was set back in the 60s. I know Canadians are supposed to be snow-loving people of the north riding around on our polar bears, but I'm done. Summer please come soon. (And for those who are curious summer means June, because it still snows in May.)

On the flip side all this snow makes everything absolutely beautiful. Which is great because I've been taking lots of pictures. Come May I will be an expert at taking photos in the snow. Saturday I was at my grandparents and took some great ones of my Papa's boat and the warf all covered with snow. (My Papa is a lobster fisherman and my grandparents live in a tiny little fishing village.) 

The internet at my house has really sucked the past few days. It makes it difficult to do all my important Tweeting, Snapchatting and Instagramming. #firstworldproblems

I just read through this post and feel a little embarrassed to push publish because it's just ridiculous. But I'm doing it anyway. I promise my posts for the rest of the week will be much more interesting. Or at least less all over the place. 

I'm sharing all this randomness with the lovely ladies participating in Mingle Monday at the Life of Meg.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Things To Do

I already blogged about my Blog Goals for 2014 back here and shared my tips for how to set goals on Hayley's blog over here, which means it's now time to share some more general goals for the upcoming year. I'm not much for "New Years Resolutions". I work better with short term goals but I do have a few projects that I want to work on all year long.

The first one is The Empty Shelf Challenge since my bookshelf is already pretty full and I do occasionally read ebooks I decided to make an empty shelf on Goodreads to keep track of my 2014 reading. I'm hoping to read at least one book a month. It doesn't sound like a lot, and it's not but I want to be realistic and lately my reading has been lacking. I either race through a book in under a day or it takes me six months to get through two chapters, there's no happy medium. I definitely want to read more than 12 books this year but making it so I read at least one a month should motivate me to read at a steadier pace. If you're curious about what I'm reading you can check out my empty shelf here.

I also want to journal everyday. I'm going to take a Smash Book sort of approach to this and rather than worry about filling pages with daily ramblings I want to focus on recording prayers, quick thoughts and little momentos from each day. I've kept a prayer journal before and I've kept a classic journal/diary before I want to some how combine the two and make a point to write or doodle or glue in something every day this year.

Complete a Photo A Day Challenge. I've decided to follow through with the Delight and Be 365 Challenge. I've only recently gotten involved with the Delight group but I am so excited about it and I plan on blogging more about it in the new year!

I try and set some sort of goal that falls under each category of physical, mental, spiritual, social and emotional but this year there seems to be a lot of overlap about which category my goals would fall under. So I will just say that I'm going to make a conscious effort to read books from all different genres  and journal about Jesus, Vanilla Coke and finding a job in a somewhat equal balance.


I'm linking up again this month  this year with Erica to share my goals and blog about my successes (and failures). 

I know that as the year goes on I'll have smaller goals and already I know that some of them will be to try new recipes, complete a Bible study and save money. They don't feel like "New Years Resolutions" to me though so I will save them for when they're more relevant.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Blogging Goals 2014


Continue posting 20-25 times a month. Everyone has a different "schedule" blogging MWF, M-F, ect. I've discovered the best method for me is not to commit to blogging specific days but just to posting 20- 25 times during each month. The exception is going to be May-August. If I'm at camp this summer I know I won't be able to post multiple times a week. So during those months my goal will be to post 2-3 times a week.

Sponsor 6-8 Blogs over the year. I sponsored my very first blog this month and had such a great experience working with Hayley that I want to do it again! That being said I definitely do not have any sort of budget for blogging, so spending even $10 a month on advertising is out of the question right now. I figure I can budget to buy some advertising every second month.

New Blog Button. My sad little blog button is just that, sad. I used my very limited photo editing skills to whip it up on PicMonkey but when I compare it to others, well...I need a new one. 

Participate in a Giveaway. I'll be honest, I don't like the idea of "buying" followers and I would much rather have two readers that read my posts, comment regularly and who I have connections with than 10000 followers who just pressed follow because they wanted to win something. But I also want to experience everything in the bloggy world and I know it can be a great way to make connections with other bloggers so I figure there isn't any harm in trying it once! 

Write A Sponsored Review Post. I've signed up for quite a few of the blogging review program sites (I am positive that is not the correct term, but I have no idea what it is) like Influenser and BzzAgent but I haven't been offered any freebies or product reviews yet. I have no plans on turning this into a review blog but again, experience everything, try things at least once!

Reach 50 Followers on GFC & Bloglovin'. This is pretty self explanatory. I'm going to keep writing whether I have 5 or 50 followers but it's nice to have readers and the more the merrier! 

Plan. I invested in a 2014 planner specifically for blogging, now I just need to use it. I want to sit down at the beginning of each week and have a rough idea of what I'm going to blog about each day, which link ups I want to participate in ect. I'm not going to force myself to stick to a really tight schedule as far as posts go but I do want to take some of the "last minute-ness" out of blogging. 

*New Layout. This is a lower priority goal because even though I don't LOVE my current layout like I did in the beginning I don't dislike it, I just would like to have something new. Again though, blogging budget is pretty much non-existent so we'll see.

What are your blogging goals this year? Anything I missed?!

If you're curious about how I went about setting these goals head on over to Hayley's blog A Beautiful Exchange where I'm guest posting today!

Two Thousand and Thirteen

I'm linking up with Shane & Whitney to share my 2013 Year in Review!

 I didn't start blogging until February of 2013, and I didn't really "get serious" about it until the fall.  I don't have any links to past posts in my look back on 2013, because for the most part they aren't things I blogged about! Hopefully this time next year my 2014 review will be full of photos and posts, but for for this year I chose a photo for each month and a sentence or two about life way back then. 


January// I celebrated my 23rd birthday by going to the city for a camp reunion with some of my favourite people. We drank lots of wine, laughed until our sides hurt and began the process of creeping the potential new staff on various social media accounts. 

February// I finally got a passport! I still haven't actually used my passport to go anywhere but I think 2014 will be the year I venture out of the country. 

March// I officially signed my contract to return to camp. There was never any real doubt it was just made official in March. I spent lots of time working on Staff Training, coming up with ways to recruit new counsellors and pinning up a storm of arts & crafts projects and games to try. 

April// I spent a lot of April watching the Big Brother Canada live feeds. I'm almost too embarrassed to even admit to my addiction, but it was ridiculous. At one point my best friend suggested I need an intervention and I don't think they were joking. Emmett & Jillian have more or less replaced Boston Rob & Amber as my favourite Realty TV Love Story. 


May// I bought my first car! I also went camping with a bunch of Girl Guides and spent a lot of time packing for camp, preparing materials for staff training and then heading to camp for the summer!

June// I celebrated the end of the first two weeks of camp (both training weeks) by going to a concert with H. & R. and discussing all the new recruits over some fancy drinks. June seems like a blur of teaching, learning and figuring out how all the personalities of the counsellors would work together.

July// Camp was in full swing which means that in the office I drank a lot of caffeine while dealing with the craziness of the job and outside the office I tie-dyed a lot of things and enjoyed being at camp!


August// I spent a lot of time under the moon and stars with someone who will always have a special place in my heart. And that's all I'll say about that. 

September// I moved home from camp and recovered from the post-camp hangover while trying to navigate all the paper work to make my job into something full time. Was ridiculously optimistic that things would happen pretty quickly and I would find myself moving to the City before the end of October.

October// I went on an autumn adventure to visit R. where we went for long strolls with seasonally flavoured lattes and spent the afternoon at an apple orchard. I also spent a week apartment & cat sitting in the City which involved hanging out with some of my favourite people. 

November// I bought my first DSLR camera and really discovered how much I love blogging and being part of this community! Over the past few weeks I've participated in my first swap, sponsored my first blog and tomorrow I will be doing my first guest post! 


Looking back I have mixed feelings about 2013. I was incredibly blessed to meet some amazing people who I hope will be in my life for a long time to come. There were also some things I didn't accomplish that I am disappointed about. December still has a few more days left but and 2014 is still a few days away but I have a feeling that things are starting to happen. I mentioned a little bit about Texas back here and I don't want to go into details yet but things are kind of starting to happen there (much faster than I ever would have anticipated!) so if you wouldn't mind praying for that opportunity. I have no idea if it's the right thing yet, or even if things will align to really make it happen. I just know that I feel like I'm being led there for some reason or another.

Also linking up here

Thursday, 26 December 2013

'Twas The Day After Christmas

I had such a great Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. God is good. 


Christmas Eve we had supper at my aunt & uncle's before church then we went to church where my cousin's baby was baptized. Afterwards we all went back to my aunt & uncle's and just enjoyed each other's company. Watching the excitement of my three year old cousin A. was the absolute best. We had given baby M. a present for her baptism and didn't want A. to feel left out so we brought a little something for her too. (And by little something I mean a single Christmas ornament that we found at Wal-Mart for under $5.) When she found out she was allowed to open it then she carefully but enthusiastically tore off the pink paper and squealed with delight and yelled "A decoration!" then she ran around the room to show everyone her new "decornation" and simultaneously offering up a "sank you". I also loved watching her in church as she proudly stood up on the pew, hymn book in hand and sang her heart out. I am so thankful for her and pray with every fibre of my being someday it's my little girl keeping everyone entertained Christmas.

Christmas Day we opened presents and I was seriously blessed. My biggest surprise present was a Magic Bullet Deluxe set with a bunch of different blades and attachments for the cups! I haven't gotten a change to try it out yet but I see A LOT of smoothies in my future. And homemade salsa. And iced coffee. I may even attempt to recreate Second Cup's Frozen Hot Chocolate! 

Image

I also got an amazing gift from my friend who I met through church back when I was in university. We send each other a Christmas package and I was so excited when I opened this on Christmas morning. At this point you all know how much I love words of affirmation and I love how much thought went into this gift. I'm using a lot of willpower not to read all those little notes right away but I really do want to save them and read one each day in 2014. I've also been thinking about how I need to get back into journalling with a real pen & paper. The next time I'm in town I'm going to pick up a notebook and for each day of 2014 I will glue in the quote I pick from the jar each day and scribble down a few words about the day, draw a few doodles, and by the end of the year I'll have an amazing scrapbook. I think I even have a blank Smash* Book that might be perfect for this project. That's a post for another time though...back to Christmas!



I got some great new clothes including this hoodie that has been on my wish list for months! 

Image

I also got some new make up, a supply of body washes & lotions to last well into the new year and a few gift cards to spend once things quiet down a little. 


And of course the kitties got some new toys too. 



We enjoyed Christmas dinner with my Dad's side of the family and then spent the evening with my mom's side. I can't put into words how thankful I am to have so many aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. And that family really is a priority. I can't imagine growing up without cousins and aunts and grandparents, but I know that for so many it's hard to imagine growing up with that kind of extended family. Mine certainly isn't perfect and there was the usual arguments about how many chairs we need and the uncles probably had one too many glasses of homemade wine but that's life. 

I'm off to spend the rest of the day enjoying the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives marathon on the Food Network making homemade pizzas for supper and visiting with a family friend this evening. I hope everyone is enjoying time with family & friends! 

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

It's 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Day night and I am currently snuggled in bed with a cup of hot chocolate, watching a Christmas episode of Dawson's Creek before falling asleep after a long, but wonderful day. I've spent the last 24 hours surrounded by family and through the magic of technology a few minutes with friends.  I have a very full belly and thankful heart. 

I'll be back at some point tomorrow to share my excitement over gifts and magical Christmas moments but I wanted to share this thought courtesy of Veggie Tales. 


Merry Christmas!!

Monday, 23 December 2013

'Twas The Weekend Before Christmas

I spent most of Friday & Saturday finishing up Christmas shopping, wrapping and checking things off my to do list.  When I came home Friday night I realized I ran out of the brown paper I had been using to wrap gifts so I had to switch to more generic wrapping paper. I was disappointed for all of three minutes then gave myself a reality check and accepted it was not the end of the world.


I made gift tags with my Cricut for the ones I used generic paper for so there was still a little touch of homemade. 

Saturday morning I got outside and played with my camera. I had a lot of fun experimenting with the settings and trying to capture the perfect snowy image. I didn't realize until after I got home that I'd taken over 500 photos in just a few hours. I also didn't realize I no longer have iPhoto on my computer...based on what Google tells me I'm just going to have to suck it up and pay $15 to download it from the App Store. Which is really freaking annoying and if anyone has any alternative suggestions I would love to hear them! I also need to invest in an external hard drive to store these giant photo files. So much to learn!

I've still got a long way to come before any of my photos are "Pinterest Worthy" or I get specifically get asked to take pictures for friends but I'm happy with quite a few of them and I was able to pick out a few favourites.


I really like trees in general and I recently discovered I love trying to capture details. I just like the way you can see all of the needles on the tree and you can kind of tell how weighed down it is by snow.


Squirrels are my absolute favourite animal! I could hear this little guy long before I finally spotted him hanging out in the tree. I wish I could have gotten closer to him but every time I moved my feet would crunch in the snow and he'd run away. 

Yesterday my cousin was supposed to get baptized but we had an ice storm (our fourth storm in seven days) so church and the baptism was cancelled. Instead I spent the day at home doing a whole lot of nothing, which after a busy few days before and what is sure to be a busy Christmas week wasn't such a bad thing!

I've got a few posts planned between Christmas and New Years including a my Year in Review, Blogging goals for 2014 and I will be guest posting over at A Beautiful Exchange  to share some advice on how to set goals for the new year! 

I'm linking up my weekend recap with Showered With Design and Dateless in Dallas.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Pretty Little Beauty Swap Reveal!


I am so excited to write this post! Since I started blogging a few months back I've been seeing awesome reveal posts from bloggers who have participated in swaps and knew it was something I wanted to do 'eventually'. Back in November I came across the Pretty Little Beauty Swap hosted by Justine & Chelsee decided to make it my first swap! And I am so glad I did!! I was paired with Nikki from Blushed on a Budget and could not have asked for a better partner or first swap experience!

Friday I checked the mail and sure enough my package from Nikki was waiting for me! I opened it up right away and immediately loved everything inside! I also got to play with my new camera to try and capture the perfect shot to share on my blog!


Nikki sent me a cute plaid make up bag full of products that I can't wait to use!


Inside the bag was lip gloss, lip stick, mascara, eye shadow and scent samples.


With lots of family dinners and brunches and friend visits during the next few weeks I was definitely in need of some new lip stuff and an updated eye shadow. I can't thank Nikki enough for her package and I am so thankful my first swap experience was so amazing! If you're into trying new make up products and want to meet some wonderful new bloggers I highly recommend joining in the next round of Pretty Little Beauty Swap!

Stormy Sunday Social


My original plans for the day included going to church for my youngest cousin's baptism and then celebrating with a family lunch after church. However, we're currently getting hit with our FOURTH winter storm of the week, so church was cancelled. (To those of you reading this from warmer climates, unless you're currently buried under 30-40 cm of snow and are about to be pummelled by 40 mm of freezing rain I do not want to hear about your "Snow Days" resulting from an inch of snow.)
Since my plans for the day have now become jogging pants and episodes of The Pioneer Woman I thought I'd join in this week's Sunday Social

This Weeks Questions:
1. What is your favorite holiday season tradition? 
I love the emphasis on family we have during the Christmas season. As I get older I realize that not everyone has this and I just can't imagine not celebrating Christmas with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins!
2. Do you have a certain holiday movie you watch more than others? If so what is it? 
My immediate family (Mom, Dad & Brother) don't watch many movies but the one we do sit down and watch year after year is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I'm also a big fan of Home Alone!
3. Show us your favorite decoration or pinterest decoration you wish you could have. 
I happened to come across this one on Pinterest and I want it so bad! 
4. What is your favorite holiday song?
I'm not someone who starts listening to Christmas music on November 1st, but Christmas in Kilarney is my absolute favourite Christmas song. It perfectly captures what Christmas is like aroun
5. What is your favorite holiday dessert? 
It's not technically a dessert but Candy Cane Hot Chocolate from Tim Horton's is my favourite sweet treat around this time of year! I also love gingerbread cookies though! 
6. What is on your wish list this year? 
I wrote about my dream Christmas list back here! Since then I ended up buying a camera, so I'm hoping for a case for it! 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Faith, Fun & Food on Friday

{one}


I blogged back here about how much I love words of affirmation, usually I get all my word lovin' during the summer months at camp where writing "warm fuzzies" is a widely accepted & enjoyed activity. During the fall/winter/spring I rely on reading through old warm fuzzies, random messages from friends and of course your sweet blog comments! This week however I got the best surprise in my mailbox. A letter from a girl who was in the youth group I helped lead during university. We hadn't really kept in touch over the past year and although I think of her fondly I wouldn't say we were overly close during my time with the group. I never would have guessed I made any sort of impact on her life. I won't share the contents of the letter but it made me tear up and reminded me that even when we don't know we're making a difference it someone's life, we are. 


{two}
Speaking of youth and making a difference, yesterday I did something brave. I e-mailed a Christian camp in Texas to inquire about employment opportunities they have from September-April. It may not sound like a big leap of faith, but I've always said I'd love to experience living in the south and that I'd love to travel and work at larger Christian camp while I'm young. I've never taken any steps to make this happen though, because it's scary. Yesterday though I was browsing camps, (which is a pretty common activity for me) and I came across this particular camp and I just got this feeling. I can't explain it really, but it was just a huge push to send an e-mail. Even if nothing comes from the e-mail it's a step.

{three}


I've been re-watching Dawson's Creek lately, hands down one of my all time favourite shows since I first started watching in jr.high. I think it speaks volumes about how much I've changed/grown as a person that once upon a time I was a die-hard Dawson & Joey fan. There was just no other option. And now at the ripe old age of 23 (almost 24), I get it. Team Pacey & Joey all the way. I am embarrassed that I was ever 'attracted' to the whiney, dramatic and all together annoying Dawson Leery. 

{four}
Psalm 25 has been on my mind & heart a lot lately. I'm not exactly sure why but it started with a thought about footprints, steps and paths which lead to me read the entire Psalm and as I read with my Bible on my lap, highlighter in hand I couldn't decide what part to highlight, it all just feels so relevant right now. 

Especially verse 5 as it's written in The Message:  
Take me by the hand;Lead me down the path of truth.You are my Savior, aren’t you?Psalm 25:5 (The Message)
I am little to no idea what my plans are for 2014. It's incredibly scary, stressful and worrisome but it's also kind of exhilarating. Even if I don't know what my plans are, God does.

{five}

Ending things on a lighter note, it's officially Candy Cane Hot Chocolate here in Canada. And during last weekend's road trip to the City I discovered the amazingness that is the Gingerbread Donut. As depressing as it is not to have unlimited access to Vanilla Coke, cheap clothes and Trader Joe's Tim Horton's kind of makes up for what's lacking. If I could figure out a way to stock up on gingerbread donuts and keep them all year round I would be a happy person. And on a related note, putting egg nog in coffee is also one of the tastiest treats of the season! If you haven't tried it yet, make it happen. I usually just drink coffee with sugar and no milk/cream but once egg nog goes on the shelf I'm all over it. 


Linking up here

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Winter Bucket List 2013-2014

Today I'm linking up with Erin & Brittany to share my Winter Bucket List!


2013 had a lot of great moments and experiences but I am ready to start the new year! My birthday is in January which although I hate because it's cold and gross I also love it because my age changes shortly after the calendar does which makes me feel like it really is a new start! I still need to get my Christmas cards out but I also want to sent Valentines this year. I've been thinking a lot about choosing a word or phrase for 2014 and I keep coming back to "Show Love"(more on that later) and I think everyone could use a little pick me up mid-Februray and a reminder that they are loved.

I also really want to bake cookies and make homemade hot chocolate to go along with them. Cookies I have made a thousand times but I've never made true hot chocolate, so that should be an adventure.

Now that I have my fancy camera I've been taking a lot of pictures of the tree lights (I totally have a new appreciation for all you expert level photographers, camera settings are HARD!). Next on my list is to take advantage of the 60+ cm of snow that has fallen over the last week and take some snowy, wintery photos. Of course if I don't get to it this week there's really no rush, we'll have snow until early May. #canadaprobs

I held off getting involved with any sort of volunteering in the fall because I was so sure the grant would come through and I'd be moving to the city. I even gave up my Brownie unit which was a huge disappointment, especially since there's still no word about whether or not our application has been approved or denied. I'm not going to put life on hold any more though and plan on finding an organization to volunteer with starting in the new year. I'd love to do something with the SPCA, but I know that is totally out of the question because I would just bring every animal home.

On that note I am off to address a stack of Christmas cards so they can get put in the mail tomorrow and maybe make it to their various destinations before January!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Go To Meals

Once again I'm joining Hayley & Lauren for the Girl Between the Lines Link Up! Today's theme is a favourite "Go To Meal". I had a hard time deciding what to share but finally settled on two recipes. My Go To Guacamole that is super quick for when you really just need to eat something asap and have no time to wait around for something to cook. And for when you're feeling a little more patient but still want something fairly quick, easy and yummy!



First up guacamole! I know everyone has their own method for making guacamole but since it is so easy and when paired with a bag of tortilla chips or some pita bread it makes for a really quick, filling and sort of healthy meal. 

Ingredients:

1 Ripe Avocado
3 tbsp Fresh Tomato
1 tbsp Chopped Red Onion (or about 1 tsp of onion powder)
1 tsp Garlic (I use fresh or freeze dried usually, but if not garlic powder does the trick too!)
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin 
pinch of salt

Method

Mash avocado and spices together. Add tomato and onion and mix well. Taste test and adjust seasonings to your taste! Serve with pita bread or tortilla chips.

Next up, one of my all time favourite foods...


Last Christmas I got a pizza stone for Christmas and since then making pizza has become a bit of a hobby. I usually make pizza for the whole family once a week and it isn't uncommon for me to make a small one for myself for lunch during the week. Toppings are pretty opened ended. The left photo is Garlic Fingers which is just the pizza dough topped with garlic butter, cheese and bacon. (I've been told Garlic Fingers don't exist outside of Atlantic Canada. This is just too depressing to think about.) The photo on the right is a BBQ Chicken Pizza. I top the dough with BBQ/Hot Sauce, cooked chicken breast, red onion, bacon and a mix of cheddar & mozzarella cheese.

Ingredients 

1 package yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups flour 
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Method

Let yeast proof in separate bowl and then mix with flour, oil and salt. Slowly add in the water, mixing the dough as you go along. You made need more/less water depending on your yeast and flour if you use something other than all-purpose. Once everything is combined and it feels like dough let sit for 45 minutes to an hour. If using a pizza stone roll out dough on parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal, top with your favourite toppings and slide into a 425 degree oven to bake for 15-20 minutes. If using a pizza pan simply spread dough into greased pan, top and bake for 20-25 minutes. Watch the pizza carefully while it's in the oven since some toppings are more likely to burn and others may take longer to cook through.


Happy Eating! :) 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Weekend Update: Extended Edition


Thursday night as I was packing I got the above messages from H. She has a hot tub at her house which we planned on putting to good use during the weekend hence the bathing suit. And with a major snow storm in the forecast we thought we might have some outdoor winter fun, so I packed my snowsuit too. I was ready for anything. 

Friday I headed to the City as planned and for the most part the roads were in pretty good shape! I got to the city by early afternoon which was perfect timing since H. & I had a chance to put some finishing touches on R.'s birthday present! I thought I got a picture of it but apparently I didn't. It was a Pinterest project made from a bulletin board with a photo of the 3 of us in the middle and then we cut out 24 circles from pretty paper and on each of them wrote a reason why we love R. (she turned 24 this weekend). 

We went out to supper with a few more friends to celebrate R.'s birthday at a cozy little restaurant downtown. I'd never been before but I ordered the Santa Fe Chicken Burger and it was super yummy! After dinner H., R. & I headed back to H.'s for wine & birthday cake! H. made the amazing tie-dye cake! The cake itself was a layer of chocolate cake, a layer of graham cracker cake and a layer or marshmallow fluff icing, I'm not sure where she found the recipe but it was extremely impressive! After cake & wine we spent the rest of the evening catching up and planning the rest of our weekend.

Saturday we headed to the mall, along with everyone else in the province based on the traffic that we encountered on our way there. We kept trying to take a picture but we couldn't get a good angle to truly capture the ridiculousness. Once we got to the mall we continued with the ridiculousness when we headed to the grand opening of Forever 21. So much crazy. We bought a few things there but after the experience we'd had enough of the mall so we headed back to H.'s for our fun evening plans!

Two other girls that worked at camp this summer came over Saturday night and the five of us spent too much time in the hot tub and drank too much wine in the process. We were still in the hot tub when the snow storm started which was a pretty neat experience!

Sunday the snow storm was in full force so we spend the whole day bundled up indoors and recovering from Saturday night's wine & hot tubbing. 

Monday the roads were still pretty sketchy to make the 5 hour drive home so the three of us spent an extra day together and tackled the mall once again! This time we powered up before hand with pizza & garlic fingers and then headed out. Our second trip was much more successful and enjoyable and we all managed to get a bunch of Christmas shopping done. Yesterday evening we played with H.'s new puppy. She is the sweetest and even though I'm not much of a small dog lover, it's hard not to love that little ball of fluff!

I was up early this morning and set out for the drive home. The roads were still pretty sketchy in some places but I made it home safe & sound! I am now going to spend the rest of the night reading the 166 unread posts on my Bloglovin' feed and replying to a bunch of e-mails that have been neglected over the past 4.5 days! 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Inhale, Exhale, Unplug

I'd be lying if I said it was all sunshine & rainbows  snowflakes & tinsel around here lately, the past two weeks seem to have had more than their fair share of bumps. Which is probably why I've spent the last 2 hours alternating between ugly crying and silently sobbing in to the sleeve of my hoodie.

There was more bad news on the job/grant front this week and there's a major storm in the forecast which mean I might not get to go away this weekend. Overall I feel increasingly frustrated with circumstances and I'm not sure what do to next. Of course it doesn't help that because I have no friends within a 500 km radius I spend a lot of time online, a good chuck of said time spent creeping acquaintances and random people I went to high school/university with who have open social media profiles. All this leads to a whole lot of comparison. And I think we can all agree comparison should be considered a dirty word. 

It's hard to be happy and satisfied with my current life phase when I'm constantly being reminded that the girl who spent her high school days high as a kite and skipping class is now married with a baby. Or the guy who lived down the hall from you in res and obnoxiously paraded his weekend hook ups through the halls every weekend has proposed to his girlfriend. And of course that one person who you just don't like because there's just something about them that drives you nuts is now living the dream, working for a production company getting paid to act and write and be creative. Scrolling through the Newsfeeds as you sit at home (home being your parents house) for the 10th Saturday night in a row is not good for the self esteem. 

I am praying with everything I've got that the weather clears up and I can get away this weekend. I need some quality girl time away from it all to just be in the moment with friends and not have to rely on technology for social interaction. Just to breathe deep, not worry about missing texts or messages because everyone I need to be with is in the same room. And then when the weekend is over to take a step back in and be able to focus on the positive and trust that God isn't doing this to torture me, He has a plan. The universe knows what's up, everything will work out exactly the way it's supposed to (and not a moment too soon/late). 

Until then I need to sit in a hot tub with my bestries, drink a lot of wine and rant about how much being a single 20-something with no idea what to do next when nothing seems to work out sucks. 

See you Monday Bloggy Friends. 

Meet Big Kitty




I was thrilled when I found out earlier this week that Jackie & Karly would be hosting another "Pets Are People Too" Link up! Last month I introduced you to my favourite furry trouble maker, Peyton. This time I thought I'd introduce you to the other cat who lives at my house, Big Kitty.



Big Kitty & I have a complicated relationship. And by that I mean, she doesn't really like me. It's nothing I did, she just doesn't really like anybody except for my Dad & Brother. 

Big Kitty's claim to fame is her name, or lack there of... You see, Big Kitty was adopted by the family while I was away at university and I was not very happy when I found out they got a kitten when I wasn't home to play with the kitten! So I made an agreement with Brother that we would come up with a name together, even though I was 500 miles away and wouldn't meet the new kitten until Christmas (this was in October). Brother really wanted to name her "Tweety" because she looks like Sylvester and he thought that would be funny? I like people names for cats and I was pushing for Riley. There were lots of  phone conversations and texts and e-mails sent over the course of two weeks. Finally my mom demanded we pick a name for the cat because she was going to the vet the next day. We randomly agreed on "Boots". 

Fast forward a few months to when I come home for Christmas and meet the newest member of the family. "Boots" doesn't really know her name and I quickly agree that after meeting her and knowing her personality it doesn't fit either. There's a brief discussion about picking a different name but it never happened. She was our only cat, so she just became known as "Cat". When people asked about her name I would either tell them it was "Cat, short for Catherine" or "Cat, because she looks just like Cat from Little Bear!". 



This went on for three years, then we adopted Peyton. "Cat" wasn't the only cat in town anymore, she was going to need some sort of name to distinguish her from the kitten. And so, she became "Big Kitty" (Peyton is referred to as "Little Kitty" 90% of the time by the rest of my family). 



Her personality is totally different than Petyton's. She doesn't like to cuddle and will tolerate a few pats on the head or scratches under the chin before she tries to claw your hand off. She spends most of her day sleeping in normal cat places (beds, couches, blankets) and is a very respectable and rule abiding member of our household. The only trouble she gets into is when her food dish is empty and she scratches the door frame demanding someone fill her food dish. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Holiday Favourites: Family Tradition


I had so much fun linking up with Hayley & Lauren last week for The Girl Between the Lines I can't wait to do it again! This week everyone is sharing their favourite things about the holiday season.

I'll let the blogging world in on a little secret; I don't LOVE Christmas. Now before you close the window, unfriend/unfollow/delete me from your life just hold on a second while I explain. It's not that I don't enjoy Christmas and all the family traditions and festive spirit, but there are things that I enjoy more. And right now there aren't a whole lot of children in my life who are really into the whole Christmas thing so as sad as it may sound, a little bit of the magic is gone. I can't wait to someday have my own family and babies to celebrate the season with, but that's just not where I am in life right now.


I am thankful that my family has really great Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve we all go to church and then to my aunt & uncle's house for finger foods. When all of us cousins were younger we would run around the house playing and being SO excited Santa was coming. These days we're all grown up (the oldest four have babies of their own) so there's a lot less chaos and a lot more wine. When we were little after we left there and went home brother & I would be allowed to open one gift under the tree. There was always a lot of painstaking present shaking and examination trying to decide which one to open. One of my favourite memories was the year Brother opened a package of batteries. He was not amused. 

Christmas morning we wake up and open our stockings first! Then it's kind of a free for all opening presents, we have calmed down since we've gotten older though. After presents we have breakfast and then get ready for Christmas dinner. We do Christmas dinner with my Dad's side of the family and then after dinner we head out to my Mom's parents house for Christmas dinner leftovers from Mom's side of the family Christmas dinner. They have dinner a little later so we usually arrive just in time for dessert! Santa is also nice enough to leave all the grandchildren presents for us there too. 



 I know how lucky I am to have so many aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents and I'm so thankful that I get to spend time with them during Christmas. Even if it's not my most favourite time of year and I am already dreading answering the "Do you have a boyfriend?", "Have you met anyone yet?" questions. I hope and pray that someday soon I will have someone to take to all these family events with me and in the not so distant future my own babies will be running around the house on Christmas Eve. Because family really is my favourite part of Christmas!

Runners up to my favourite thing about Christmas include; Christmas Movies (National Lampoon, Charlie Brown, Elf & Rudolph) and Christmas Treats (gingerbread, candy canes, Coffee with egg nog). But in the end family comes first! 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Three Step Croutons

I've mentioned my love of cooking before on the blog but I haven't really shared any recipes, which is something I definitley want to start doing! Lately I've been experimenting with making ingrediants from  scratch, saying goodbye to jars of sauces and packages of seasonings. I usually start by researching a whole bunch of different recipes for the same thing,  finding the similarities, reading the comments if there are any and then diving in headfirst! 

Last week I made homemade croutons and after using them in salads all week and crushing them into bread crumbs to use over mac & cheese I don't think I'll be going back to packaged croutons any time soon! They were so easy to make and a big batch should last 2-3 months. 



Ingredients 

  • 6 Cups Stale Bread Cubes (I used 10 dinner rolls)
  • 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Oregano 
  • 2 Tablespoons Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Pepper
*Seasonings are something you can really play around with! I knew I would mainly be eating these in salads so I wanted them to have a traditional Garlic & Herb taste. The next time I make them I think I will play around with cayenne, paprika and garlic to create a spicy crouton. 

Directions

Pre-Heat oven to 375. 
Step One: Spread cubed bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. 
Step Two: Sprinkle with olive oil and spices. Use your hands to toss the bread with the oil and spices. Step Three: Bake for 30 minutes, turning the croutons halfway through cooking. 

Keep your eye on the croutons! Depending on the temperature of your oven and the thickness of your cookie sheet they may not take as long to cook, or cook more quickly. If your croutons aren't fully dried out they will either go stale when you try to store them or will get mouldy. 


I added some to a salad with baby spinach, red onion, feta cheese, mushrooms and bacon topped with balsamic vinaigrette. And it was so good! I know croutons aren't the most healthy of salad toppings but I love having a little extra crunch in there and making them at home is definitely better than the bags from the grocery store! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Weekend Shenanigans


I didn't have a super fascinating weekend but I stayed busy and since this is the last Weekend Shenanigan's link up I decided to join in. 

The biggest part of my weekend was playing with my camera. I was hoping to get outside with it at some point but first we had high winds and rain and then it was snowing and bitterly cold, so I opted to stay indoors. I took a lot of pictures of the cats. And my bedroom. It's still very much a work in progress. 

Friday I'm going to the city for the weekend to celebrate R.'s birthday and Christmas with the girls. All three of us are big list makers, so we spend a solid chunk of time making a list of everything we want to do next weekend and when we want it to happen. I am super excited about it! I just hope the weather is good on Friday for the 5 hour drive to the city. 

Last night while watching the finale of The Amazing Race I found a chip that had a cat/Simba in the middle! This is probably of no interest to anyone except myself but I thought it was cool. 

I re-downloaded Evernote this weekend and am trying to use it to organize my blogging life. I tried to use it before just to organize life but I didn't like it and deleted it after a few months. I'm going to give it another try though and hopefully this time I'll figure it out better and put it to good use!

QuizUp. If you have an iPhone and haven't downloaded this app yet you're doing it wrong. A friend told me to download it on Saturday and I literally spent the entire day playing. There are trivia questions in so many different categories; my favourites of course are Friends, Taylor Swift, Disney and The Bible. 

Friday I had a blah day, I was frustrated and cranky and just feeling so overwhelmed and lost. So to paraphrase my favourite sitcom character, Liz Lemon, I "talked to some food about it" and ate french fries, chicken nuggets and Vanilla Coke for lunch/supper.

I have a long list of things I need to get done this week before I go to the city. 75% of it is fun things (Finishing gifts, packing, making a playlist for the drive...) the other 25% is typical boring errands. It will make the week go by fast though which is okay by me! 

Speaking of talking to food and having a long to do list over at Mingle Monday people are discussing their favourite coffee. I'm going to draw some inspiration from those comments, power up the Keurig and get to work!  

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sunday Social


I planned to spend the day happily sipping on Vanilla Coke crafting up a storm for Christmas. But we were without power from 12 noon to just a few minutes ago (7 p.m.), which put a huge damper on all my crafting. So instead of patiently waiting for clay to dry and scrubbing paint of my hands I'm going to join in on this week's Sunday Social! And I'll be back tomorrow with tales of my adventures learning how to use my new camera. (i.e. lots of cat pictures.)


1. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone?
It's a picture from camp this summer of tie-dye t-shirts drying on the clothes line! 

2. What do you keep beside your bed?
Water Bottle (used to be a glass of water but Peyton kept knocking it over so I wised up), whichever book I'm currently reading, lip chap, spare hair elastic/bobby pins. My prayer journal and felt tip markers often hang out there too. 

3. What is your least favorite chore? 
I avoid vacuuming at all costs. 

4. If you could eliminate one thing from your daily routine, what would it be?
I love showering, but I hate having wet hair for so long afterwards. I also hate blow drying my hair. So if that situation could be fixed it'd be great! 

5. What do you do to vent anger?
Ideally a hot shower and a change of clothes, that always helps! If that's not an option ranting to H. & R.. 

6. What is your favorite holiday of the year and why?
The First Day of Camp!!!! It may not be a holiday on most calendars but it is on mine! 

Friday, 6 December 2013

One Hundred & Five



{one} {ONE HUNDRED!}
This is officially my 100th blog post!! Hurray!! I know it's a pretty small milestone, but I'm celebrating all the same. Everyone has to start somewhere and I'm pretty happy with the progress I've made over the last 100 posts.

{two}
Canon

I took the plunge (and got a great deal thanks to reward points and a sale) and bought a "fancy camera" the best deal was on a Canon Rebel T3 and it has really good reviews on Amazon so I went for it. I'm on a huge learning curve but I'm hoping to play around with it some more this weekend and I've been pinning tips & tricks like mad. 

{three}
I'm not sure if it's that I've been getting more comments lately (which I love by the way!!) or if there's been some sort of setting change but it seems like everybody is a no-reply blogger. Which makes me super sad because one of the best parts about getting a comment is commenting back and making new friends! There are lots of easy peasy tutorials (including this one & this one)  on how to fix this issue so if you've been commenting up a storm and getting no replies this might be your problem. Now go fix it, and then come back and comment because I want to be friends! :) 

{four}
My director messaged me this morning with a message saying "23 weeks until we move to camp!". Crazy that summer (well, spring) is that close. I have a long list of projects I want to get done for this summer; revamping the Jeopardy game, new binders for each of the activities, a pile of easy sample crafts for rainy days...thinking about it kind of stresses me out. It also makes me super excited though! I can't wait for camper registrations to start coming in and staff applications! So exciting!

{five}
I need to get dressed and venture into town in hopes of snagging some of the winter tires that are on sale this week at Canadian Tire. I would rather stay spend the day in my sweat pants but I'm motivated by the thought that getting snow tires means that next week end I will be able to go to the city! We're celebrating R.'s birthday next Friday and then Saturday a few of the staff from this summer are getting together to drink wine and catch up! I am super excited! I've seen H. & R. separately since camp camp ended and the three of us group chat and Skype all the time but we haven't actually been together in the same room since August!