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They Say It’s Your Birthday

I know. Cheesy title for a post about my birthday. But this Beatles fan just can’t help it.

The great thing about having a Sunday birthday this year is that I was able to turn it into a weekend affair. I’ll admit, I was a little worried about how the celebrations would go. I usually like to go home and spend the day with my mom. I mean, she’s the one who did all the work 25 years ago. I just showed up and ate a lot. But these past two days have turned out to be the next best thing. 

Another great thing about the timing of this year’s birthday is that I still have a ton of gift certificates leftover from Christmas. So while I got some cash for my actual birthday, I was able to redeem those gift certificates for something a little more tangible.

image Such as the above book. It’s chock full of exercises that I can’t wait to try myself and try with my clients! I’m always on the lookout for new forms of torture ;)

I also redeemed a gift certificate at my running store. Thanks to some stellar sales and my sweet staff discount, I was able to buy two long-sleeve technical shirts, a pair of Nike capris, a running bra and running socks for only 80 bucks. That’s ridiculous. I scored one of the shirts and capris for six dollars each.

Finally, a gorillapod!

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My mom actually bought me one for Christmas to go with my new 50mm lens, but we ended up returning it. She gave me the money to buy another one here in Toronto and I’m so excited to play around with it! It’s only about a foot tall with bendable legs. So I can put it on the table or wrap it around things to capture a clear shot. 

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Such as a picture of this week’s Simply Switch. That would be switching out my usual cheap, processed, store-bought bread with homemade Irish brown soda bread. I polished off a whole loaf in less than a week! SO good with a little PB&J. No yeast required. If I can do it, trust me, you can too.

I decided there was no better day than my birthday to try out this nifty contraption me and 99 other people won from Janetha’s blog.

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It’s a box of XPress Smart Cups. For people (like me!) who need to French press on the go. I’ve got an hour-long commute to work, so I often end up drinking my coffee on the subway. Or today, to keep me warm while walking in –28 C (-18 F) weather.

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All you do is mix your near-boiling water with coarse coffee grinds (I use 3-4 tablespoons as I like it strong).

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The lid has a disposable filter built in. Put it on and let the coffee set for four minutes, then take the small plunger and push the filter down.

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Voila! As a person who is chronically late, this saves me from being an extra 5 minutes late while I wait for my coffee to brew. Such a cute idea!

However, today was a much more relaxed affair. I booked the day off both jobs. Birthdays are an automatic “personal day” ;) I sipped my coffee on the way to a birthday brunch!

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Continuing with the Leslieville Brunch Tour, my friends and I decided Edward Levesque’s Kitchen should be next on the list. I don’t know why we didn’t come here sooner. Their brunch menu is one of the most unique I’ve seen so far!

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Crazy, right? In any other circumstances, I probably would have gone for the challah french toast. But my hangover was starting to set in and it was asking for a greasy savoury meal.

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So I went for the latkes, smoked salmon, sour cream, chives, green salad.

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Loved. I mean, it’s hard to screw up fried potato pancakes. But the smoked salmon and sour cream on top made them a million times better. I also appreciated the mass of greens on the side that for once were lightly dressed and not sopping in oil.

Roommie Megan went for the cumbrae grilled jerk skirt steak, grilled pita, avocado, two over easy, roasted tomato, chives, olive oil.

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This looked SO good. Love the idea of meat and eggs piled on top of a pita. How can you go wrong with that?

Colin, the pancake connoisseur, got the banana pancakes.

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But thankfully, did not sing Jack Johnson while eating them. Excuse the blurry photos. Apparently the hangover shakes were also setting in. Totally acceptable thing to happen on your birthday ;)

Also acceptable, a self-induced sugar coma on your birthday.

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Thank you Callie for the chocolate cupcakes with bacon and a maple buttercream frosting! These were my second cupcakes by Callie (first being these green tea cupcakes with a sweet red bean paste). I’ve decided that she is the cupcake queen. Uh-mazing. Not too fluffy, not too sweet, a subtle maple flavour and just the right amount of frosting. And of course, bacon makes everything better.

There may have also been mass quantities of Fluffernutter Birthday Pie.

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Who needs cake? The best part about a weekend birthday is eating peanut butter marshmallow pie on Saturday and Sunday. Including as a post-bar snack at 3am.

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I had high hopes of going to yoga today, but after brunch I collapsed and watched Breaking Bad all day. Relaxed and low-key, just the way I like it. Well, you know, apart from the huge blogger meet-up on Saturday followed by a bottle of whiskey with my Maritime friends. Right. I’ll get to some of that later. For now, I’ve got to soak up the last few hours of my special day and look into investing in some wrinkle cream. Gah! I’m a quarter century!

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite way to celebrate your birthday? And more importantly – what do you like to eat!?

A Peek Into The Camera of A Food Blogger

Hellohello friends! Before we even get into today’s topic, I first want to thank you for the kind and supportive comments on my last post. If having a balanced life was easy, then everyone would be living a perfect life! I just do what I can :)

I woke up not a happy camper today. I think it’s a combination of being run-down, fighting off some flu-like symptoms, and the fullness of the moon lately (yes, I believe in the effect of lunar cycles).

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Thank goodness it’s Waffle Wednesday or I may have just resigned to my bed for the rest of the day. Now this is something worth getting out of bed for!!

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Whipped up a batch of protein waffles (recipe found here) and topped with a mixture of plums, raisins, sugar-free syrup, cinnamon and sunflower seed butter.

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Adding the topping just a bit at a time. I do not like soggy waffles!!

Now usually, I would stop here with the enticing waffle photos, but today I’m doing something a little different.

I want to show you the food photos that didn’t make the cut. Here are the ones you would have otherwise missed out on (all taken on my Canon EOS Rebel XS):

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I usually take anywhere from 5-15 photos per dish. I aim to get a view from the top, from the side, and close-up. Most of the time photos are not used because they’re not as crisp as the others. Crispness is key. If it’s the least bit fuzzy, I don’t use it.

Lunch!

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Chicken slices and laughing cow blue cheese on a pita with onions, tomatoes and spinach. I’m back to eating pitas and carrot sticks every day. One meal that I never tire of!

If this were a regular post, I would keep it to that one photo. But here are the other ones I captured…

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I’m not a huge fan of the composition in the top photos. The bottom part of the pita that is closest to the camera is not what’s in focus. For some reason I get really bothered when the foreground is blurry and the background is focused. It’s my “thing” I guess. Also, the loser photos are either too shaded or too blanched out from the light. It’s tricky getting sunlight to hit textures juuuuuust right.

Lunch was polished off with an Adora disk. I got a bag of these for free at the Healthy Living Summit. I reallyreally like them. 30 calories a pop for a little piece of calcium infused chocolate.

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The shots that didn’t make the cut:

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One of my pet peeves is when people review a packaged good and don’t reveal what’s inside of the package. Instead of taking a shot of the chocolate in the wrapper, I decided to capture what the chocolate actually looks like along with the packaging. You get the best of both worlds in one frame :)

Also, I went for the angled shot here so you can see both the width and height of the chocolate. That way you get a better feel for its size. The last loser picture is very similar to the shot I chose. The only difference is that the chosen one has more of the chocolate in focus when enlarged. The area of focus on the loser one was too small.

Finally, there was dinner.

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Stir-fried tofu, grated carrot, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, onions and garlic with pesto and laughing cow cheese.

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This bowl also got a lot of camera lovin’…

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I really like doing long shots with plates and bowls because you get a feel for just how overflowing they can be. Plus, I kinda liked the packaged Ikea bed slats as the diagonal background ;) The close-up shots in this series unfortunately all turned out blurry, so they were ditched. The bottom two turned out okay, but were too similar in composition to the first photo I chose. If I’m going for more than one photo of a dish, I want them all to come from noticeably different angles.

 

And that my friends is a little peek into my camera!! I always joke that if someone were to steal it on me, they’d think they stole the camera of a crazy person. Which I guess may partially be true ;)

I’m taking the day off from blogging on Thursday, but if there are any requests for what you’d like featured on Fitness Friday this week, let me know!

 

Question of the Day: Food bloggers – do you photograph all your food? How many shots do you take per dish? I obviously don’t photograph everything. But I do admit to sometimes featuring boring food on here just because I think the picture turned out pretty :)

Hometown Runner

Mmmm… can you smell the bacon??

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Damn, no wonder I wake up starving every morning. My belly is already awake in anticipation for the goodness that’s about to enter it.

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Breakfast was ready in 5 minutes flat. Egg + bacon + laughing cow + ezekiel.

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Citrus on the side as always. Why have orange juice, when you can just have a juicy orange ;)

Breakfast needed to be quick, so I could digest sooner. It was shaping up to be a hot day and I wanted to get a long run in before it got too unbearable. I’m a bit of a goldilocks when it comes to running outdoors – the climate has got to be juuuuust right ;)

I decided to test out my new and improved mummified foot by re-introducing the long run. I’m working on building up my mileage over the summer months, and this week’s was a 6-miler.

One of the challenges of moving back to my mom’s place has been finding decent running routes. There are a couple lakes that I can loop around, but both loops are short, thus better suited for shorter runs.

My mom and Mark told me the city improved on their waterfront trail. Waterfront trails are my favourite running routes ever. The surface is agreeable for my body, the view is fantastic, and the people are always friendly. My favourite trail in Fredericton ran along the St. John River. I took that trail for every single outdoor run, and loved it more with each outing.

So not surprisingly, I got quite excited by the idea of finding my very own riverfront trail here in Moncton. Now, those of you who know the area are probably beginning to clue in to what I’m getting at here, because there is a glaring difference between the two rivers. Fredericton’s St. John River is beautiful. Moncton’s Petitcodiac most definitely is not.

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It’s a pile of mud. With flocks of seagulls. When the tide is out, it smells like sewer and boiled eggs. Oh yes, and see that little hill on the left? That’s where much of the trail is. Looks like a nice mound of grass, doesn’t it? It’s a landfill.

So no, my run wasn’t as beautiful as Fredericton, nor was it as pleasant to the olfactory. BUT, it is still the best trail I’ve found in Moncton so far. And I guess the landfill provides some fun challenging hills. Actually, it was a pretty darn good run :)

I made it back home just as the sun was starting to beat down on me. I immediately refuelled with half a bunch of grapes.

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Other half was consumed for my pre-run sugar ;)

Gave my muscles an extra good stretch and iced all my hot spots (ie trouble areas).

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Then sat back with an article on Bieber Fever.

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It was actually a really good article on how his management team used a new internet marketing model. I didn’t know he sold “mini albums” online. Neat-o.

Eventually, The Hunger kicked in and I had to get up to make a meal.

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A pita stuffed with sautéed tofu, red pepper, onion, mushrooms and kale.

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Carrots + salsa!

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Hit. The. Spot. So good. So filling.

I used a new-to-me pita bread for the sandwich. I was quite excited to discover it at the Superstore!

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It’s made in Halifax, but what really got me is that it’s only 80 calories!

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Mind you, it is a very thin pita, but I much prefer it that way.

I also tried out a new dip on the pita.

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It’s no hummus, but I love red pepper anything.

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Despite being thin, the pita bread held up perfectly. Sticking it in the microwave for a few seconds keeps it from tearing when you assemble it.

I played chauffeur to my mom and Mark all afternoon. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Snacked on a couple Maple Nut Oaties.

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I also stopped by a new cafe in town called Cafe Codiac. I was very excited to check it out as the building used to be a liquor store, and I wanted to see what they did with the place!

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Got a soy sugar-free vanilla iced latte. Verrrry tasty. I will have to go back with my camera, they had a vegepate sandwich I was was eying. If I was staying in Moncton, I would 100% apply for a job there. I was at one point a career barista afterall ;)

I also got roped into going over to my mom’s friend’s place on a whim. She told me there would be free chicken burgers. Who am I to turn that down?

Just finished off my evening with my new favourite protein snack.

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Hmm. Doesn’t look very appetizing, does it? I thought the image looked a little yellow-ish. Then I remembered I can change the white balance on my camera.

I watched this video, and figured out how to do it.

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Et voila!! C’est magique!

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Neat, eh? I think I will keep manually adjusting the white balance, I’m almost embarrassed that I wasn’t already!

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Ohyes, and the snack! It’s 5 tbsp unflavoured soy protein powder, 2 tbsp hot chocolate mix, 1 tbsp flaked coconut and enough almond milk to dissolve everything. The soy protein powder has a completely different texture than that of whey powder. It’s very fine like flour and puffs up instead of getting gooey. Instead of being like a protein pudding, it was like a protein mousse cake!

 

Now I am off to finish up this fine Saturday by catching up on Gossip Girl. My step-sister says the season finale was shocking, and I have to know what happened! See ya tomorrow for a final goal check-in!!

 

Question of the Day: What is your favourite thing about your hometown? Your least favourite? I actually grew up in a smaller town across that muddy river. My favourite part is that everyone knows everyone. My least favourite part is that everyone knows everyone!! :P

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