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How Do You Like Them Apples?

Listen. I’ve had enough.

I know y’all love your pumpkin. But my head is going to explode if I see one more pumpkin recipe.

I’m just being real yo!

Truth of the matter is, the mushy orange stuff makes me a little squeamish. I love me some cinnamon and nutmeg, but tasteless baby food from a can makes me gag a little. Just a little.

When it comes to fall flavours, I am all about the apples.

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I’ve been dreaming about homemade apple sauce ever since I made a batch around this time last year. When walking past a fruit stand on Saturday, I saw Ontario empire apples on sale for 99 cents a pound. I knew the time had come.

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I bought four pounds for four bucks. Last year, I went McIntosh, and the empires reminded me of a slightly crispier and less grainy version of them.

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Cored and chopped the apples until my pot was overflowing. No bother peeling them. The peels are the best part!

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I tossed in a cup of water and let the pot simmer for around half an hour. Until I noticed the apples getting mushy. That’s when I added one tablespoon cinnamon and got to mashing.

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I like my applesauce chunky, so I didn’t bother blending. No sugar either, these puppies are sweet enough as is!

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Learn from my mistakes and do not taste the sauce immediately. You will burn your tongue.

Instead, I incorporated some of the warm sauce into supper!

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Yup. Waffles for supper :) The usual protein waffle batter:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • pinch cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • 2 stevia packets
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

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Along with the apple sauce, I added molasses and maple syrup.

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My oh my. That is fall flavours at their best ;)

 

Okay. Confession time. I’m not 100% against all things pumpkin.

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I’ll make exceptions when chocolate is involved ;) Like my roommie’s pumpkin brownies!

 

Q&As

How do you find the time to write such creative posts and still live life (and work/volunteer so much)?  How do you balance everything in your life without ‘burnout’?

 

This is a great question, because sometimes my biggest “balancing act” is finding time to write The Great Balancing Act!

First things first, I started my blog during my last year of an undergraduate degree. I was doing school full-time, working two part-time jobs and one unpaid internship. Apparently, I didn’t think I had enough on my plate ;)

Since then, I’ve continued my blog through working wonky hours as a broadcast journalist and the mind-numbing hours of an 8-5 desk drone. These days my hours are all over the place. I’m at the gym by 6:30am every day to train clients. I have anywhere from 4-6 clients a day, but don’t usually wrap up until 7pm. Because I live so far away from the gym, popping home in between isn’t really an option. So I’m away from my house at least 12 hours a day. I also have a retail job in a running store that will sometimes keep me working until 10pm, and of course every Saturday and Sunday. 7 days a week, 12+ hours a day. And yup, I do volunteering on top of that!

My number one trick recently has been bringing my laptop with me to work so when I get an hour or two of spare time, I can scoot to the nearest Starbucks to work on my blog. Blogging time (usually takes an hour) often gets pencilled into my day so it never gets put to the back burner. I often pre-write posts, which is the biggest benefit to not doing a “daily diary” type blog. For example, my Fitness Friday posts are rarely actually written on Friday, which gives me Friday off from writing!

Right now, I think what is keeping me from burning out is knowing that this is what I came to Toronto to do. In my old life back in Fredericton, my desk job was my only commitment over the course of the day. It was kind of soul crushing. Now I thrive off the zillion projects I have on the go and actually find energy in participating in so much!

With that said, I do carve out downtime as well. I make sure there is one day a week where I can stay in my pajamas until 3pm doing absolutely nothing. It’s what works for me to “recharge.”

Finally, blogging is how I prefer to spend my time! Writing is second nature to me and has never felt like work. On days I don’t feel like blogging, I don’t. But that doesn’t happen often because I always want to blog. Even after all this time! Some people watch TV or or play video games with whatever spare time they have. I blog :)

 

Question of the Day: What are your feelings on pumpkin? It’s like buying canned mashed potatoes.

Writing Tips for Bloggers

Hello friends! Welcome to the work week. I’ve got a serious case of the Mondays over here. Thankfully, Tuesday is just around the bend, so I’ve got nowhere to go but up ;)

Today’s post is a little off the beaten path from my usual content. Yes, no food or workouts to torture you with ;)

As many of you know, I was a reporter in a former life. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Communications and worked full-time as a radio reporter before moving to Toronto.

Photo courtesy Charles Leblanc

During my 5+ years in the world of journalism, I did a lot of writing. A typical day had me writing two versions of five different stories. I wrote for newspapers, magazines, radio and even television. When people ask me how I find the time and motivation to blog, I just tell them that writing is a second nature to me. Even though writing no longer pays my bills, it’s something that I continue to live, breathe, and obsess over on a daily basis.

So today my bloggie friends, I am sharing my top tips to good writing.

Enjoy!!

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Find your hook and lead with it.

Don’t just ramble for days and days, broaching several topics at once. Pick one thing that really stands out and address it in the beginning. Shape the main focus of what you’re writing about and let your readers know what it is!

 

Write about the things that affect people.

There’s no doubt bloggers love to yammer about themselves, but try to talk about things that affect other people too. Reviewing a brand of sneaker, sharing a recipe, providing motivation tips, these all help people in some way. Find topics that people will relate to. Write about something that will resonate with those other than yourself.

 

Read anything and everything.

The best way to learn about manipulating language is to soak in as much as you can by reading it. Don’t just read other blogs, take in some newspapers, novels, fiction, non-fiction. Find writers that inspire you, figure out what it is you like, and create a style that’s all your own.

xmas

 

Keep your paragraphs short.

Long blocks of text make my eyes glaze over. Write your 3-5 sentences, then move on.

 

Don’t give it up all at once.

Contradicts my first point, about giving up your hook at the beginning. But always keep a little back to keep your reader enticed. This can be as small as revealing a secret ingredient at the end of a post, giving a piece of surprise news, or breaking your information up into separate posts.

 

Be direct.

Using passive voice makes your writing sound long-winded and boring. Active voice is a lot more exciting. Active voice is when your subject is the doer of an action. Passive voice is when the subject undergoes the action. The best example of this is one I used a lot in journalism:

Active: “The government announced a new spending program today.”
Passive: “A new spending program was announced by the government today.”

 

Split it in two.

Sometimes we drag out sentences by using commas and the word “and.” Most of the time, they can be divided into two, cleaner, easier to read sentences.

 

Use brackets sparingly.

Brackets are confusing, why would you want to break up the flow of a sentence with extra thoughts? Most of the time what you want to say in a set of brackets can be worked into the normal paragraph structure. Re-think what you’re trying to say and say it without the use of brackets.

 

Keep it literary.

Blogging is very colloquial by nature. That’s part of the reason why people love to read blogs. But reading something that’s written in the manner of direct speech is torturous. Anyone who’s ever had to transcribe something will know this. It’s okay to keep your writing casual, but remember that writing and speaking are two different languages.

 

Include a picture.

Like I said, too much text is boring. Break it up with something that’s nice (or delicious) to look at! :)

CHOP CHOP.

If you’re going to take any of these tips to heart, pleasepleaseplease use this one. I want you to delete at least one word from every paragraph from now on.  Do you really need to say “that” in every other sentence? What about the words “pretty,” “some,” “about,” “also?”  When I re-read my blog posts before publishing, I go through and delete at least 10 erroneous words, as well as 5 erroneous exclamation marks and smiley faces. When it doubt, chop it out.

Question of the Day: What are your favourite writing tips?

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