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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!?

Things I Learned: November Edition

A simple cone filter really does make the best coffee. Better than a French press!

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I need not be afraid of butter. It makes everything taste uh-mazing.

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Well, almost amazing. I also need to double and triple-check recipes. Adding twice the amount of butter to a bread recipe will leave you with a flat, dense, and crusty loaf.

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But there are always ways to redeem myself and turn a #bakingfail into a #bakingwin :)

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Ham & cheese can make anything taste good!

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Fish tacos, where have you been all my life??

Jack Russell Terriers may be small, but I think they can out-run me.

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Blog friends are the bestest.

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I agree with Janetha, we all need to move to an island together.

Do not drink a giant mug of coffee before a yoga class. And if you do, make sure you have access to a washroom close to the studio.

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Working at a running store has become a great way to unload unwanted sweets from my kitchen. Give a group of hungry runners 20 chocolate chip cookie dough balls, and they will have them demolished in less than two hours.

You can never have too many running shoes.

Especially when a pair of Saucony Progrid Ride 2 & Brooks Ghost 2 shoes only cost you $25 each. Did I mention I love my job?

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Turkey + cranberry + stuffing makes for an awesome sandwich filling…

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…but only when using real leftovers. Sliced turkey, mayonnaise and stuffing that isn’t my mom’s just doesn’t have the same flavour.

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Working 7 hours on your feet and walking a mile to work still doesn’t equal 10,000 steps.

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But little things, like walking to the grocery store and getting off the bus a stop early surprisingly add up!!

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Yoga, in my humble opinion, is one of the best ways to experience a new city. Better than a tour bus, and more relaxing too.

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Chinese food really is better on the West Coast.

Six months is too long to go without travelling home. I miss my hometown, no matter how small, ugly or boring it may be.

Toronto really does stink. I still haven’t adjusted to the air quality here and find running in the pollution much harder than expected. I miss the fresh air!

And I miss the snow. I wake up every morning hoping to see a white winterland outside. I had no idea I was so attached to the stuff!

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Finally, I learned that while I may not have left my heart in San Francisco, I definitely left it on the West Coast. This East Coast gal still has some exploring to do.

Question of the Day: What did you learn in November?

Don’t forget!!
**I’m accepting your favourite cookie recipes until Thursday for a special holiday cookie post. Leave yours here!
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**Deb is still taking orders for our Blogger Babe calendar. 15 bucks and all of it goes to help cancer patients. Click here to get one!

The Food I Brought Home

Happy Monday! Or, I hope it was a happy one for you :) I didn’t mention this on the blog last week, but after returning from California, I was bed ridden for two days with a fever. I had to cancel all my clients on Thursday and call in sick to the running store. The last thing I wanted to do was sit in a nutrition course aaaallll weekend as I felt like junk. But today I woke up feeling mysteriously better! And I worked out for the first time in five days. Good times. Depending on your perspective.

In all of my San Francisco recaps, I spoke a lot about the food I ate in San Francisco. But I have yet to talk about the food I brought back from San Fran!

Remember this photo of me elated inside of a Trader Joe’s?

Well here are the goods:

 

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Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds (crunchy & salted) + Sunflower Seed Butter (aka sunflower seed crack)

I’ve been eating these by using one of my favourite ways to eat nut butter… on oatmeal!

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Cathy was gracious enough to send me to California with samples of Simply Bars. Including their new protein oatmeal. Instant oatmeal with a light strawberry flavouring, bulked up with their signature protein-packed puffed soy.

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First I ate it hot. With yogurt stirred in and topped with TJ’s almond butter and maple syrup.

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I must say, I do not like this almond butter as much as Naturally More. It can do better.

Next up is the sunflower seed butter.

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I ate this with the Simply Bar raw oatmeal, stirred in with cold yogurt, cinnamon and grapes.

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My heart will always belong to TJs sunflower seed butter. So smooth and creamy, with the perfect amount of salt and sweet to cut off the bitter edge of sunflower seeds. Yumm-o.

Next up, I got some 21 Seasoning Salute per the recommendations of Janetha and Danica.

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I roasted a chicken last week, seasoned with this stuff, as well as sprinkling it on the roast veggies.

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A picture of how I utilized some of the leftovers – in a pita of course!

For fun, I added another TJs goody to the sandwich.

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I love this salsa! Because of my pineapple allergy, I can’t eat a lot of fruit salsas. But this stuff is pineapple-free. I’ve been eating it with carrots too, and the sweet undertones of the salsa pair perfectly with the sweet raw carrots.

I of course had to pick up a couple of my favourite bars ever.

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Yup, Clif Mojo in Peanut Butter Pretzel is my favourite tasting bar ever!

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I used to be addicted to those “Sweet n’ Salty” bars. Well this is like those, but a million times better. Real hunks of pretzel, peanut butter chips and peanut chunks to make the flavour pop. The texture is the perfect mix of crispy and chewy. I’m glad I only bought two of these, as I’m pretty sure I could find an excuse to eat one with every meal :P

Speaking of which…

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Don’t buy these.

Peanut butter filled pretzels are no good.

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And by “no good” I mean “so delicious” that you won’t be able to stop eating them until the bag is gone. Ohmy. You’ve been warned.

I didn’t leave San Francisco with just Trader Joe’s goodies! My bloggie friends hooked me up too!

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At Friday night’s welcoming reception, we all participated in a foodie gift exchange. I totally copped out by giving away a jar of maple butter. I immediately felt bad once I was paired up with a local San Franciscan who hooked me up.

Peet’s Coffee holiday blend because Peet’s started in San Fran.

Then a cone and filters to make my coffee with!

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Easiest process of making coffee yet. All you gotta do is heat water until just boiling. Add your coffee to the paper filter, and pour the water over top to let it drain through.

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Voila. Delicious coffee almost instantly. Apparently this is the best way to have it. I can’t judge yet because the Peet’s coffee is so much better than the cheap stuff I usually buy!

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My roommies in San Fran were also quite generous. Janetha brought us all homemade trail mix including her mom’s homemade dried apples. Also included almonds, cranberries, rolled dates and dark chocolate chips.

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I gobbled this up. Such a good mix and flavour combo! Props to Momma B for her dehydrating skillz ;)

We also got some reeeeally good dried fruit in our swag bags.

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I didn’t quite get why everyone was raving about the Frog Hollow pears that were available all weekend. But these dried peaches are top notch. A million times better than any ole’ dried apricot.

Of course, I returned back to Canada with pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate.

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I’m a pretty faithful Lindt or Ritter Sport girl, but this Luxe Milk Almond may convert me.

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I have half a square left. I think I have to eat it after looking at this picture.

Danica hooked me up with a plethora of Annie’s goodies. I haven’t come close to eating my way through them yet, but I am really enjoying them! We don’t get a lot of Annie’s products here.

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I’m a candy fiend, so these Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks are perfectly portioned to nip that sweet tooth, without all the crummy ingredients of the other stuff.

Was most excited to try the Annie’s Shells.

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Their take on Kraft Dinner. Which Kraft just calls “Macaroni & Cheese” in the States. Weird. Anyways, while I’m not a huge pasta fan, I grew up eating Kraft Dinner and will always have a soft spot for this comfort food!

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I cooked it using almond milk. Plumped it up with a couple cans of tuna and frozen veggies. As well as a small handful of shredded mozzarella for added cheesiness.

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LOVED. Plain and simple. The end.

 

I do believe that is enough food for one evening. If you don’t mind, there’s a half square of Ghirardelli in the fridge calling my name ;)

 

Question of the Day: What is your most favourite recent food buy? Pretty sure all of mine are displayed here :)

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