March 30, 2012

Day 30 - Toy

It's Slinky, it's Slinky...for fun it's a wonderful toy! It's Slinky, it's's fun for a girl and a boy!

Another month, another challenge!

I have really been enjoying Fat Mum Slim's photo-a-day challenges, but after two months I am ready to mix it up a little. Yesterday, a new challenge list literally fell out of the sky (via Twitter) and I knew that it would be a perfect fit for me. Besides the mascot, what do I talk about the most?


Yup, April's photo challenge is going to be a whole month of food! I am so excited about this one and I would love all my friends to play along. Join me if you dare! Here's the list... the fun starts in 2 days!

March 29, 2012

Day 29 - Feet

These little piggies saw me through seven Group Power classes between Saturday and today, so I gave them the week off from running.

They are resting up tonight in preparation for a big meeting tomorrow morning. I have had them wearing nothing but runners and rubber boots lately; I think they are a little nervous about putting on proper lady shoes.

Or, maybe I'm the nervous one. Either way, they are going to carry me in there tomorrow with grace and confidence, and should things go as planned, I will treat them to a pedicure. They've earned it.

March 28, 2012

Day 28 - Trash

Well, sorta. These days, "garbage" can be broken down into so many categories and subsections that one trashcan just isn't enough.

This Starbucks, for example, has three waste containers by the door - one for cups, this fancy sorting model* (above), and one for, well, trash. You don't have to sit and watch for very long before you see someone stop, look at the cans, look at what's in their hand, look back at the get the picture. It used to be so easy, but, then again, people used to throw their cups out of the windows of moving vehicles, and look where that got us.

*Also for cups, but I guess that makes sense seeing as the bulk of their garbage is primarily cups...

Up for the Challenge!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about The Real Canadian Hair Challenge, sponsored by Dove. They were looking for Canadian women with hair "challenges" to promote their new Nourishing Oil line of products and, well, some days I am just about as challenged as they come. Or, rather, my *hair* is. :wink:

Anyway, I am so, so excited to announce that they have chosen me as a grand prize winner.

In other words... I WON! I WON! I WON! I WON!

On April 18, I'll be on Breakfast Television with celebrity stylist Mark Townsend. If there's anyone who can rise to the challenge, it's Mark. He has worked on the tresses of Resse Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and, really, if he can make *them* look good, imagine what he'll do for me!

The best part of all of this (ok, it's ALL the best part) is that I really, really love the Dove Nourishing Oil Care line of products. To see my pic on the winners wall (and to receive a $1 off coupon for Dove products), visit the contest Facebook page.

By the way, don't worry about forgetting to watch me on Breakfast Television. You'll be getting plenty of reminders from me before then! (And for my non-Winnipeg friends, I'll be posting links to the show so that you can watch, too!)

March 27, 2012

My Happy Camper (and your chance to win!)

Yesterday was a happy day for the Mascot  - I finally got around to registering him for summer camp!

For the third year in a row, he'll be packing up his fishing rod (and a couple weeks' worth of carefully labelled underpants) and heading out to Manitoba Pioneer Camp, located on the camp's two islands on Shoal Lake, Ontario. Just like last year, he'll be taking part in both fishing camp on Cash Island and "regular camp" aka "Boys I" aka "canoe camp" on McKinnon. No matter what you call it, though, it's a blast...even the canoe trip, which the Mascot loves and loves to complain about.

Whining about the two days of rainy weather and what he calls the "questionable perogy casserole" aside, the kid can't wait to go back. And, to be honest, I can't wait for him to go either. Don't get me wrong, I like having him around, but seeing that taller, tanner, grinning boy get off the bus with dozens of camp stories to share is definitely worth the time that I have spend without him (and his help around the house).

Last year, we even got to see the Mascot's fishing tales come to life in this video, taken during the fishing camp session and posted on the camp's website within hours of his return. I know that it wasn't meant as a marketing ploy, but seeing the Mascot out there having all that fun pretty much guaranteed his return to Cash Island. (Full disclosure: I have yet to watch that video without tears...and maybe just a pang or two of jealousy.)

Needless to say, I am super-excited about sending the boy back to Pioneer Camp and I am just as excited to share this awesome contest with you. Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship is giving away free weeks at Pioneer Camp, a trip for two to Punta Cana, and prize packs from Mabel's Labels* and Crossroads. Plus, they are offering 20% off camp for new campers! Click the picture below for more details and to enter:

*remember the part about "carefully labelled underpants"? Yeah. You'll need these.

I am proud to be an ambassador and alumni of Manitoba Pioneer Camp!
This post has been compensated; however, all opinions are sincere and all my own. 

Day 27 - My Name

Yup. The first class of the day at the Rady JCC was mine.

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be a) teaching Group Power and b) teaching it at 6:10am, I would have punched you in the neck*. 

*Ok, I probably would've laughed. Unless it was before 9am, in which case I would have just glared at you over my coffee.

March 26, 2012

Day 26 - Key

Tucked safely inside this magnetic "Key Holder" is the spare key for my Grandpa Harold's truck. I found it, and the "holder", in my Nana's sewing box, which I inherited a couple of years ago, and they've lived on my fridge since then.

I actually don't remember that much about my grandfather, but many of the memories that I do have seem to involve his truck. There was nothing special about the truck - it was just a plain old brown pick-up - but there was something about sitting in the middle of that bench seat between my grandparents that was so novel to me. It was a whole other world from that vantage point.

Plus, riding in my grandpa's truck usually meant that there would be a trip to A&W or Domo "We jump to the pump!" Gas in my immediate future. That was pretty exciting stuff back then.

March 25, 2012

Day 25 - Breakfast

I don't think I could ever get tired of eating oatmeal for breakfast. It has been my "go to" for so long that I've had to stop counting in months. (We're talking a couple of years. At least.)

To keep the love alive, I am always mixing it up. Today's bowl of awesome included diced pear, currents, and flaked almonds. Tomorrow, who knows...?

March 24, 2012

Day 24 - Animal

This is *exactly* how I feel today:

Day 23 - Moon

I'm not sure who they are trying to appeal to here, but if my fella came home with a bar of "PMS" chocolate and told me to "cool it", I would probably go straight for his nuts*.

*Almonds, preferably, but cashews or hazelnuts would be fine, too.

March 23, 2012

Over the Top 2012

For the past three years, I have attended the MAWA "Over the Top" cupcake party and art auction, both as a contributor and as a purchaser. This year, due to a little belt-tightening, I held off on bidding; however, I was more than happy to offer a piece of art and 4 dozen homemade cupcakes - cherry-almond and banana.

The piece that I donated to this year's auction is called "Elegance" and is part of my series of collages featuring vintage ladies and ephemera. The elegantly attired gal is set against a background of printed papers, a Tiffany and Co box and a page from an old book called, not surprisingly, "Elegance".

When you donate work to one of these things, there is always the chance that your piece won't sell and you'll have to take it home. Not that I would have minded having the original in my living room, I was happy to see it go to a good home for $50. (And I still get to have a copy of it...shh.)

My cupcakes, as well, were a hit, and not just with the mascot and my fella, who were obligated to try one of each kind. Other party-goers seemed to enjoy them, too! You can find the recipes for both kinds of cupcakes AND a tutorial for the wickedly good Swiss Meringue Buttercream on my food blog, Relish.

March 22, 2012

Day 22 - Kitchen Sink

It's pretty obvious that I didn't read very far ahead in the challenge list; not only did I take a kitchen sink picture for my "before/after", I also pointed my camera at the sink earlier in the month for my "something I hate to do".

By now you've seen both my dirty and my clean dishes, plus an empty sink, so, what's left?

If only I had a baby* or a puppy** to wash in the sink... (Not literally, of course; that would be fun for only about 6* or 7** minutes.)

Anyway, back to the photo. I bought this mug at a Starbucks on the day that I packed up the U-Haul and left BC. It stopped me in my tracks (albeit briefly) on my way to the bathroom and I knew that I just had to have it. It always reminds me of that day and the courage that it took to make the move back to Manitoba. I use it whenever I need a shot of bravery along with my caffeine.

March 21, 2012

Day 21 - Delicious

Everything tastes better on a picnic blanket. It's a fact!

Today we're celebrating a few things. One is top secret (for now), one is the first bike ride of the year, and the last is, as always, our love*.

*SO hard to type that with a straight face! :-p

March 20, 2012

Day 20 - Before & After

My fella has always been amazed by the number of dishes that we generate over the course of a day...or even just with one good meal. Just tonight, I used 3 pans, a pot, a mixing bowl, 3 wooden spoons and 2 knives just to get dinner on the our plates, bowls and cutlery. One of these days I will get the dishwasher fixed, but until then it all gets washed by hand.

Some days it's lot to deal with, so, in order to not get completely overwhelmed by the clean-up, I try to rinse, wash and stack as much as I can while the food prep is still underway. Then, after we've eaten, it just takes me a few minutes to finish up what's left in the sink and wipe down the counters and the stove. Everything drip-dries overnight and gets dealt with at some point the next day, depending on how busy we are. 

It doesn't bother me to have *clean* dishes waiting to be put away, but I can't sleep unless that sink is empty when I go to bed.

March 19, 2012

Day 19 - Funny

Few people can make me giggle like my friend KK can. We've both been known to spew coffee onto our respective Blackberries during conversations via BBM. 

This one happened while I was heading to Starbucks to meet her for a pre-meeting Americano. It's further proof that happens in the privacy of your office, stays in your office. 

Unless you tell your bestie, of course.

Note: It's entirely possible that the above exchange isn't even half as funny to the rest of the world as it is to me, but it was either that or a photo of a warning sticker on a parking lot entry arm.


March 18, 2012

Day 18 - A Corner of My Home

This isn't just a corner, this is the teeny-tiny dining area (for god's sake, don't call it a nook) where we eat our meals, decorate cupcakes, unload groceries, and about a million other random, domestic activities. For such a small space, it sees a huge amount of traffic.

It is also home to the "Wall(s) of Awesome", pictured below. We have art all over our home, but the stuff displayed on these two walls is some of our most-favourite (read: strangest) pieces in our collection. From original collage and pen & ink drawings, to framed vintage cookbook pages and matchbooks, to a very odd mounted twig animal head, it all adds to the colorful experience that is mealtime at our house.

Sweet Sunday

We're off to MAWA this afternoon to take part in the "Over the Top" art auction and cupcake party.

I am excited to visit with friends (and see what my piece sells for), but the mascot is all about the raffle and the cupcakes.

For our contribution to the treat tables, we made 2 kinds of cupcakes (4 dozen in total). It was a big job, but at least I had some help from the quality control department...

March 17, 2012

March 16, 2012

Day 16 - Sunglasses

I heart my Derek Cardigan cat eye sunglasses. They are tortoiseshell with a surprise hit of candy pink on the inside, but the best part is the math symbols on the temples. 

If Barbie didn't hate long-division so much, she would LOVE these.

March 15, 2012

Day 15 - Car

They say that in Winnipeg, spring is the great equalizer. No matter who you are of what you drive, at some point during the "big melt", your vehicle is going to look like this for a few days.

Make, model, and even colour become irrelevant; as far as any of us can tell, we're all just driving around in the same dirt-coloured car.

March 14, 2012

Day 14 - Clouds

One of the risks that you take going into a photo-a-day challenge like this one is that although you may have the best intentions to, say, take a photo of clouds on day 14, the occasions to do so just might not present themselves on that particular day*.

That's why I grabbed the opportunity to snap a picture of this wee band of clouds this morning at sunrise. If I had waited any longer, I would've lost my chance for good. The rest of the day was made up of completely grey skies and then totally clear skies. That's just how Winnipeg weather rolls.

 *Remember the sunset and rainbow debacles from last year's challenge? I still have nightmares.

March 13, 2012

Day 13 - A Sign

"Think left and think right and think low and think high. 
Oh, the thinks you can think if only you try!"
~ Dr Seuss

March 12, 2012

Day 12 - Fork

Cauliflower, Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Fritatta
1 cup cauliflower florets
10 thin spears asparagus, chopped
1/4 cup egg beaters (or 1 egg and 1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp water)
3 thin slices smoked salmon, julienned
In a small, non stick pan, steam-braise cauliflower in lightly salted water until just tender. Add asparagus and continue to cook until tender-crisp. Drain. Spray pan with non-stick spray. Return vegetables to pan and toss over med-high heat until any excess water is removed. Evenly add 1/4 cup egg beaters (or lightly beaten egg). Allow to cook until bottom is set, about 1 minute. Scatter smoked salmon over the top, then place under the broiler until top is set and salmon is heated through. 
Serve with cucumber-yogurt sauce*, or tzatziki. Serves 1

*Cucumber yogurt sauce - stir together 1/8 cup plain yogurt, 1/8 cup finely chopped cucumber, pinch of dried dill, squeeze of fresh lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

Feeling the Dove Love

A few weeks ago, I came across the "Real Canadian Hair Challenge" contest on Dove's Facebook page. I just happened to have a recent photo of my oft-challenged hair on my iPod, so I whipped up a quick mini-essay and entered on a whim.

I had almost put it out of my head, until I received a call from Dove informing me that they loved my entry and I had been selected as a finalist for the grand prize! All I would have to do to make it through "the finals" was an interview via Skype, after which they would make their big decision.

Well, that interview was this morning and, despite some last-minute jitters, I am happy to report that I have emerged unscathed. Actually, better than that, I came out of it quite pleased. I think I answered the questions well, and I know that I was having a helluva good hair day, but above it all, the whole thing was  rather FUN. We talked about hair, the weather...and how the weather determines whether or not my hair will behave. (It is, after all, called the Real Canadian Hair Challenge.)

Even if I don't win the grand prize, it was kinda neat to get to this stage in the contest and see the process from the entrant's perspective. And, what is the prize? A session with stylist Mark Townsend that will air live on Breakfast Television, plus a stay at the Fort Garry for me and 3 friends on the night before. (The hair session will take place at 10 Spa starting at 5am, so they want to make sure that we're there bright and early.)

The grand prize is worth $3000, but I think the value is more intrinsic. If I can have fun, get my hair done by a "celebrity stylist", and be the poster child for curly-girls for a little while, then I will definitely feel like a winner. In fact, after this morning, I already do.

(And, if you are wondering how I got my curls to look like this today... I used Dove Nutritive Therapy shampoo and conditioner and let it dry naturally. Love!)

March 11, 2012

Day 11 - Someone I Talked To Today

I talk to my fella every day, but today we had a date to sit down and talk. Not matters of the heart, however; it was strictly business.  

I know it's hard to believe, but he's more than a pretty face. Behind those blue eyes, he has all sorts of mad smarts and was more than happy to share some of his knowledge and help me with some strategizing today. Details are still on the DL, but suffice to say, things are at a bit of a crossroads for me right now and I needed a little "directional assistance".

Going in to our little meeting, I'll admit that I was a teeny bit daunted, but in the time it took to drink a venti skinny mocha, my guy gave me some great advice. Between the two of us, we managed to break it all down into tangible, logical parts and I feel much more confident about reaching my goal. Yay us!

I know that I am all about being an independent girl, it's good to know that I have someone so savvy to call on for stuff like this. And, it doesn't hurt that he's darn cute, to boot.

Day 10 - Loud

It took me a couple of years to talk myself into getting it, but my Sirius satellite radio is one purchase that I have never regretted making.

For the past 15 months, the Sirius in our kitchen has been responsible for the background noise in our house and, thanks to First Wave (channel 33), has made an 80s music aficionado of the mascot. I can't even tell you how happy it made me when he asked me to buy him a Ramones CD.

Yup. Jacob is a punk.

March 9, 2012

Day 9 - Red

If questioned, I will not admit to ever saying this, but with the recent purchase of my big, fluffy red heart, I may have reached the limit of how many pillows will fit on my bed. 

I'll admit it, the heart is just this side of twee, but it is so, so soft and the perfect shade of red and I found it for only $4 on a post-Valentine's Day clearance table. The 15 year old girl inside me had to, had to, HAD TO have it and, as anyone who has ever dealt with a 15 year old girl knows, there was just no saying "no".

The other pillows on the bed are a very *ahem* sensible mix of pillows-for-sleeping, pillows-for-propping, pillows-for-tossing and one long body pillow (in a sturdy Ralph Lauren vintage-inspired floral print) that keeps me from falling through the bars of my iron headboard. 

And exactly how many pillows are there on my bed? 15. Don't judge.

March 8, 2012

Day 8 - Window

I love the slightly creepy feel that this photo has. I was simply going to push aside the curtains to take a quick snap of this morning's sudden snowstorm, but then I saw this guy across the street and my photo took on a decidedly "neighbourhood peeper" tone. I wonder what he is up to...?

Truth be told, I would make the worst neighbourhood busy-body. With my schedule, I am either leaving the house before the rest of the people on my street are up, or I am making a mad dash from car to house or from house to car, usually laden-down with grocery bags or my gym bag. If I see my neighbours at all, there is only enough time for a wave or an over-the-shoulder greeting.

Who knows... there could be all sorts of intrigue and scandal going on right under my nose.

March 7, 2012

Day 7 - Something I Wore

If I didn't love you, I wouldn't show you a picture of my sweaty tank top from today's yoga class. Really. This is how my people express affection.

I have been doing Moksha (hot yoga) for only a couple of months, but I feel like I have been doing it forever. As soon as my body hits my mat to soak up a few precious minutes of pre-class savasana, I feel calm and grounded. Once I'm on my feet, however, I take on a level of focus that surprises even me. It's amazing how quickly an hour passes when my mind is cleared of all thoughts... other than guiding my body through the movements and being mindful of the day's "intention". 

The intentions are set at the beginning of the class by the instructor and then it is up to the rest of us to apply them to our practice. Last Saturday, the intention was to simply "smile" during the class. At first I thought that it was a bit of a non-intention, but once we were well into our flows, I realized that I had been missing some of the joy that is supposed to come hand-in-hand with all of the hard work. Busting out a smile at the peak of a posture let me take it even further. My tree grew higher and my dancer danced like never before. Could it be that I have been taking myself too seriously in there?


March 6, 2012

Day 6 - 5:00 p.m.

5:00 pm arrived without warning and found me folding laundry. Exciting, right? 

Had I actually remembered that I would need to take a picture at 5 o'clock, I would have staged some fantastic event, or had the mascot do something exciting. As it was, I was on load 2/2 of workout clothes - aka the "brights" (as opposed to load #1, which was, not surprisingly, all black). 

March 5, 2012

Day 5 - Smile

The only way that I could get the mascot to be in this photo was to tell him that his face wouldn't be in it. I had to tell that tiny fib because there is no other smile in the world like that one right there; it was practically made for today's challenge topic.

When the mascot was a baby, his pediatrician told me that he was  "profoundly happy" and now that he is 14, and should be a surly teenager, really, little has changed. He's still quick with a smile or a laugh, and no matter what is going on out in the big, bad world, I know that I can always count on coming home to one of those contagious smiles. 

March 4, 2012

Day 4 - Bedside

My bedside table currently holds a lamp, two magazines, a pair of glasses, four hair elastics, a necklace, a fork, a stuffed reindeer, and a coffee cup. Or, to be more accurate, a stuffed reindeer *in* a coffee cup.

This is "the other" side of the bed; the side that would, in theory, belong to someone else, should I have a sleeping partner.

Seeing as I get both sides, though, it holds even more of my stuff: another lamp, a favourite picture of me and my fella (taken on the beach at Matlock), an enormous stack of books (all read), a Jesus candle from my collection, my dad's watch, vanilla body butter, and my princess wand (a gift from the mascot).

Day 3 - My Neighbourhood

After months of having almost no snow to speak of, we received several centimeters of lovely, fluffy white stuff in the first two days of March.

No one really seems to mind, though; It's crazy-pretty, it's only going to be around for a short time, and temps are so mild right now that shoveling is almost, gasp, fun*.

This is our neighborhood, under its pristine blanket of fresh snow. It won't be long before the trees form a shady canopy, the yards are carpeted in green, and the sidewalks are covered in chalky hopscotch games and doodles.

*and by "fun" I mean almost-tolerable. Especially when someone is clearing your walk for you.

March 2, 2012

Day 2 - Fruit

Swear to god, there's fruit in there. At least, that is what the sign would have us believe.

For the record, I don't play into the whole muffin thing. For the same number of calories, I would rather have 2 bowls of oatmeal and a basket of blueberries. Or a piece of cake.

March 1, 2012

Day 1 - Up

Cheer up, Buttercup. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.