Life Lately No. 2

Hi guys!

Another life lately… because it has been a crazy few weeks.

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Our sweet Whiskey went in for surgery on the 27th of July to have fat lipomas removed from all over her body. While there was some concern that biopsies may be necessary and that we wouldn’t like the results, our girl is cancer free and recovering from her 18 incision sites and 50ish stitches super well. In her cone and jammies. How does she look so dang cute all partially shaved and with no eyelashes (they had to be cut down to work on some spots near her eyes)!?

The garden is providing literally everything you could ever want right now. I’ve been using it to make burrito bowls, salads, stews, curries and stir fries. Let me know if you’d like to see any posts about the pictures below!

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I’m officially obsessed with panzanella! It’s the perfect way to use up garlic-rubbed baguette rounds left over from bruschetta, and adding grilled artichokes makes it extra delicious. Try adding grilled fennel and mini bocconcini, too!

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Speaking of food,  our relationships with it and our own feelings of self confidence and worth… check out Becca Bristow’s awesome video about why she doesn’t want perfect abs… This majorly resonated with me because while there’s always room for improvement in my land of butter and carbs, to see a dietician and marathon runner publicly say like, hi- some fat is necessary on our bodies for proper function and a lack of abs doesn’t automatically equal a lack of health was refreshing. We’re bombarded with this vision of lithe, long bodies with chiseled midsections and thin limbs and the idea that this is the picture of health constantly. Doing the right things like getting exercise and eating foods that fuel a healthy body while indulging from time to time is what is important. I retweeted a tweet about a fitness girl “treating” herself with whole eggs rather than egg whites the other day and that’s the exact “perfection” trap I want to stay so, so far away from. So thank you to Becca for the reminder that my short limbs that like to pack on muscle can be just as healthy as a 5 foot 8 girl who has more space to put that muscle on her frame, and that the most important thing is feeling great and living a healthy life. You can watch her video below but I really recommend cruising over to her YouTube page and subscribing.

I’m really excited that next month my sister is getting started on landscaping the yard at her new house! It took forever to get her rough grade and now she’s waiting on approval, but I will be chronicling it as it’s a full front-and-back landscaping, with fence, deck, concrete, curbing, grass, shrubs and trees! And she’s doing it all on a budget! It will be a super fun family affair (wishful thinking?) getting it ready but since she’s doing 90% of the work herself, I can’t wait for the opportunity to get my hands dirty and pitch in. I think the end result is going to be amazing! I think she’s hoping that the approvals will be all-in and the pre-work for concrete will be done to start in a few weeks. Fingers crossed!

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Also new is… My espresso machine!!! It also froths and heats milk… I’m in heaven. A cappuccino or latte is one of my most favorite indulgences that I have seriously cut back on in the past couple of years in my quest to keep my spending as low as possible, but when I had a housewarming gift card and this baby was 40% off… I really, really wanted it.

Lastly… I can say now that I have a fully-functioning BBQ! I’ve had it at my house for a few weeks (it was a gift from my parents), but it needed a natural gas fitting and put together, but this past long weekend my dad finished it all up and my friends Bridgette and Nick came over and the first meal was made on it! I have to confess that Nick did the grilling, but I started the BBQ all by myself (I’ve only done that a handful of times and it makes me super nervous, so I’m proud). Be ready for loads of grilled meals in the coming weeks to be gracing my Instagram.

Coming soon will be:

  • June/July Favorites video
  • A recap of products I’ve used and if I’d buy them again
  • How I make my lentils and rice for the freezer
  • Back-to-School easy and quick breakfast ideas on a budget (should I do lunches too, or 15 minute dinners?)
  • Fall outfits (casual and business casual)
  • Freezer friendly chorizo beans and rice
  • Recent drugstore beauty finds
  • An affordable dessert

I hope you guys are having an awesome August! Mine is packed so far with a few website launches I’m working on (woo!), getting ready for the upcoming semester at work, teaching Social Media for Business  and fun with my family! I’d love to hear what you’re up to in the comments below!

Real Girl Review- Essie Gel Couture

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Hey guys!

 

Back with another real girl review, this one being the next in my series about gel manicure alternatives! If you haven’t seen my review of Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel, you might want to check it out!

Using the costing from my last post, a once-monthly salon gel manicure would cost you around $420/yr. This product costs $11.96 for the color and $11.96 for the topcoat, so assuming a new shade every month and 2 bottles of top coat, you’re looking at approximately $170 before tax.

 

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This product is great. My sister has even tested the top coat with non-matched (not the Essie Gel Couture) colors and it still keeps your nails looking flawless for at least a week, if not longer. The above pictures are one week into wear. I kept this on for the full 14 days, and despite doing some weeding in the garden and carrying on as I normally would, there was only minimal chipping and a bit of cracking (below).

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Unlike the Sally Hansen product I tried, this came off easily with acetone and didn’t dye my nails blue at all. I also liked the brush- it wasn’t so big that I had a ton of mistakes. I will say, for more normal wear (ie. not testing out a product), I’d touch up the tips as the color wears away if you’re a heavy typer like I am.

This test was a total win. Unless my next trial goes AMAZINGLY, I think I will be using the Essie Gel Couture for my long-wear and durable nail polish!  The next review is on a much more expensive option (if you can believe it, with this costing over $20 for a starter set), so I hope you’re ready for a really in-depth review. The more expensive it is, the more I expect it to perform!

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Have you tried any of the products I’ve posted about in my Real Girl Review nail polish series? Let me know!

Vegan White Bean Stew with Saffron Rice

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Hey guys!

With my love of bacon, we all know I’m no vegan. With that being said, I’m a total “pantry” cook, eating a lot of canned/tinned tomato products, frozen veggies, and beans to keep costs down and food healthy. Sometimes that results in vegan meals. One day in early June, my friend Kirsten was coming over and I realized the meal I made was completely vegan, so she could eat with me!

This Spanish inspired white bean stew used literally no fresh vegetables except garlic and onions- that was it! Everything else came from a tin or the freezer and it was amazing. If you wanted to add meat, I’d recommend poaching chicken thighs in the stew or slices of cured chorizo sausage.

White Bean Stew with Saffron Rice

Serves 6 for $10.87 or $1.81 per serving

For the stew:

One white onion – $1.61

2 tins cannellini bean – $1.76

1 jar fire roasted tomato sauce – $2.50

2 tins whole stewed tomatoes – $2

2 cups frozen spaghetti mix vegetables – ~$0.50

2 frozen spinach pellets (or any frozen green you have kicking around) – $0.50

Pantry staples – garlic, smoked paprika, paprika, crushed red chili flakes, thyme, olive oil

For the rice:

2 Cups Basmati – ~$2

Olive oil

Optional- 2 Saffron threads (use turmeric for color of saffron if you don’t want to buy saffron)

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This is a bit of a “dump and go” recipe honestly. The only items I pre-cooked were softening down the onions and garlic- then I put them in my Lagostina Tuscan Collection Casserole Dish from Canadian Tire with the beans (don’t rinse), tomato sauce, tomatoes, frozen veggies (not greens!) and a half tablespoon of smoked paprika, a teaspoon regular paprika, 2-3 shakes of red chili flakes and some dried thyme.

I then popped my casserole dish in the oven at 375 for an hour to get everything toasty and let the aquafaba from the beans do its job and thicken the stew. I checked it at one hour and tasted it and was happy with the flavors, but the one hour mark is when you’d add more heat or spice if you’d like. I also added the greens at this point because I was popping it back in the oven for 30 minutes or so while I set the table and made rice.

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You make the rice however you normally would in a pot, and just toss your saffron or turmeric in with the cooking liquid if you’re wanting the look of saffron rice. I wouldn’t recommend doing it with a rice cooker though… mostly because I have no idea how those things work. If you would like a step-by-step on always perfect rice on the stove, let me know!20170614_191757

Shop the post:

Staub Cast Iron Essential French Oven • Staub • 
Food NetworkTM Copper-Plated Serving Spoon • 
Villeroy & Boch Serveware For Me Collection Porcelain Shallow Round Serving Bowl • Villeroy & Boch • 
TRAMONTINA Tramontina Gourmet 5-qt. Enameled Cast Iron Covered Oval Dutch Oven • Tramontina • 
JCP HOME JCPenney HomeTM Amberly Serving Bowl • 
Nambe ‘Curvo’ Serving Spoon • Nambe • 
Anthropologie Ore-Edged Serving Bowl • Anthropologie • 
Calphalon Classic Ceramic Nonstick 5-qt. Covered Dutch Oven • Calphalon • 
Middle Kingdom Small Hermit Bowl • 
Nouvel Studios Orion Bowl • 
Yamazaki Hospitality Stainless Steel Slotted Serving Spoon • Yamazaki • 
Rachael Ray 3-qt. Rectangle Casserole Baking Dish • Rachael Ray •
Do you have an easy recipe that just happens to be vegan? Or an easy recipe that just happens t have bacon? I’d love to hear about both!

Lemon Shrimp with Risotto Milanese

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Hey Guys!

This is a fun and fresh recipe for a summer gathering that is something a little different than grilling. The bright acidity of lemon and freshness of parsley make the shrimp extra delicious, and the fresh veggies in the risotto keeps it from being too rich. Even better, this recipe uses just a little butter and no cheese, so the creaminess is from the starch cooking out of the rice, not added fats. This is a meal my mum whipped up for our family, and I thought I’d share it with you! At around $3.75 per serving, it’s not a crazy affordable meal, but it was delicious and can be made more affordable if you use your veggie scraps to make your own stock in advance (brings the total cost down to $11.54 or $2.89 a serving).

Lemon Shrimp with Risotto Milanese

$15.48 for four, or $3.75 per serving

For the risotto:

1 cup of Arborio rice- $1

1 small shallot, diced- $0.50

2 carrots, small dice- $0.72

3 sprigs thyme- $0.25

2 containers vegetable stock- $3.94

2 pinches saffron threads- ~0.80 or 1/2 tsp saffron powder ($0.04) if you can’t stomach the cost of buying saffron threads

Pantry: a small dollop of olive oil to start sautéing, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper

Optional: Butter to finish, white wine to deglaze

For the shrimp:

~20 shrimp, peeled and deveined- $7

Zest of a lemon (one lemon is used for this recipe)- $0.77

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Garnish: the other half of the lemon, cut into four slices for squeezing

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The first step of this recipe is the same as any other where we’ve been making risotto- mise en place, or as I like to call it…. getting your shit together.

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You can see from these photos that 2 separate plates were used- one for the shrimp prep and one for the risotto prep. It just makes things easier in the long run. It’s not shown in this picture, but after this, the lemon was halved and set on the parsley plate.

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You’ll need to tackle your risotto first since it’ll take about thirty minutes to make. Start by popping your veggies (and thyme if you like) into a pot with either butter or oil in the bottom and soften about 1/2 to 3/4. You want some nice color on those onions. While you do that, take your stock and put your saffron in it, then warm it either in a pot or in the microwave. This stops you from bringing the temperature of your risotto down every time you add stock to it (which means it takes longer to cook), and it helps infuse the saffron.

Once your veggies are appropriately cooked, add your rice and toast it. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of extra oil if the pot seems too dry. I talked about toasting risotto rice here, if you need a bit more information. Once your rice is appropriately toasted, you will either deglaze with a ladle full of your stock, or a 1/2 cup of dry white wine, whichever you feel like. Stir until the first deglazing liquid evaporates and then add stock by the ladle and stir occasionally until that liquid evaporates, too. Repeat. Keep repeating until you’ve gone through about a box of stock or 3.5-4cups. Add a pinch of salt and pepper each time you add stock. Taste it at that point- is it soft, or do the rice grains stick to your teeth? If it’s soft and ready, turn off the heat and remove it from the burner. If not, continue the stock-stir-evaporate-taste process until the rice is cooked.

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Once your risotto is ready and off the heat, using a skillet on medium heat with olive oil and chili flakes, throw in your shrimp. Once they are 1/2 way cooked, flip them and add your parsley, lemon zest and squeeze half of your lemon over the shrimp while they finish cooking. This only takes a few minutes.

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To serve, give yourself a generous scoop of the risotto and about 5 shrimp. Squeeze additional lemon over your shrimp if you’d like! I’d recommend serving in a bowl rather than a plate like in these pictures- if your risotto spreads out, it cools faster.

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Do you have a favorite recipe that tastes fresh like spring or summer, but doesn’t require a barbeque? I’d love to hear about it!

Shop the post:

Black & Decker 12-in. Electric Skillet • Black & Decker • 
Bialetti Copper 5.5-qt. Titanium Ceramic Nonstick Electric Skillet • Bialetti • 
OXO Good Grips Fine-Mesh Strainer • OXO • 
Zyliss® 3-Inch Small Strainer • Zyliss • 
OXO Good Grips Fine Zester • OXO • 
Microplane Citrus Zester • Microplane • 
J A Henckels J.A. Henckels Chefs Knife • Zwilling J.A. Henckels • 
Michael Symon by Ergo Chef 6″ Chef’s Knife • 
Ergo Chef Pro Series 6″ Chef’s Knife • 
Belgique Copper Translucent 3-Qt. Soup Pot with Lid, Only at Macy’s • 
CHANTAL Chantal Induction 21 Steel 2-qt. Soup Pot With Glass Lid • Chantal • 
Calphalon Simply Nonstick 5 Qt. Soup Pot with Lid • Calphalon •

Real Girl Review: L’Oreal Lash Paradise Mascara

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Hey guys!

Today is something super cool for me, as I was involved in a campaign through my digital influencer agency and got the chance to provide an unbiased review about the L’Oreal Lash Paradise Mascara that recently launched! I was tasked to create a video on DubCandy (a social sharing app that allows you to watch videos and directly shop for the products mentioned, rather than looking for links) with my thoughts, which you can see below (depending on your browser, you may have to click a link):

https://embed.dubdub.com/594d8b3562902e1200877501

I was really impressed with this mascara! I’ve been using it for a while now (the video was a first impression of the mascara), and I love that it doesn’t flake or smudge but still removes easily with my Garnier micellar water. I also like that the curved bristle brush kind of hugs the contour of my eye to grab all of my eyelashes for volume and length. I feel like it gives a high-end result without a huge pricetag, which I really appreciate. The only downside to this mascara is, if you like your outer lashes to “flare”, you’ll need to muck around a bit to achieve that, but it’s still totally doable. Which is pretty cool, because with my straight eyelashes that fall no matter what, I can struggle to find a mascara that does that reliably.

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Additionally, I used a bunch of L’Oreal products in this video and a few tried-and-true products from other brands, but I realized how many L’Oreal products I use daily and love! If you like the natural, glowy look I did to go golfing on this day, I linked most of the products below so you can check them out! I left out a couple products that either weren’t my favorite, or that I think you can find something of similar quality for a better price.

Shop the Look:

Eucerin® Aquaphor® 3.5 oz. Healing Ointment • Eucerin • 
Josie Maran Argan Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow Duo Sand & Rose • 
L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel Mascara • L’Oreal • 
Nars Orgasm Blush – Orgasm • NARS • 
Bronzing Powder – Laguna • NARS • 
L’Oreal Infallible Silkissime Eyeliner • L’Oreal • 
L’Oreal True Match Lumi Liquid Glow Illuminator • L’Oreal • 
L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation • L’Oreal • 
L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara • L’Oreal •

Have you tried a new makeup product recently that you’re loving? I’d love to hear about it, I love checking out new makeup!

 

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or in collaboration with any parties. The video embedded was part of a brand engagement for which I was compensated, however I’m sharing it because I liked the product, not as part of our terms.

Life Lately No. 1

Hey guys!

 

I wanted to start something new where I can kind of “round up” all of the little things from the past little while that maybe didn’t make it to the blog as a full post, but are fun none-the-less.

Last week I had Monday off (as part of an extended Canada Day break from work), and then I went back to work FULL TIME! I’ve been working part time and love my job, and as of last Tuesday, I’m a full time member of the team.

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It’s been swelteringly hot in Edmonton the past week or so, so I’ve been hiding in my parent’s basement and neglecting my own house. It needs cleaned and aired out! But, I’m taking care of a friend’s dog this week so we’ll see how much gets done! But the past week has been hiding out at mom and dad’s and enjoying the gazebo with the puppies.

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This weekend, my dad went full beast and between the four of us (but mostly him!) the garden was weeded. It looks SO good. I’ll be doing a “what’s in season” post soon with some ideas of items you can still grow in a container and enjoy this summer.

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I tried out another gel-like polish, a Real Girl Review will be coming soon… I have to say, this one was MUCH better!

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We tried roasting radishes this weekend, and they’re SO good! My mom put them in a foil packet on the BBQ with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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Also on the list of things being tried out, I’ve been trying to concoct a good jalapeno lime margarita. This version may look pretty, but it wasn’t the best. I’ll post the recipe when it’s perfected (such a hardship, doing these things… lol).

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For the first time ever… I wore shorts to work. On casual Friday I wore knee length bright khaki shorts with my favorite sandals. I can’t believe this is real life haha. I’m a long way from suit-jacket-or-bust these days!

What was last week like for you? I’d love to hear about your Monday!

New Homeowner Gift Guide

Hey guys! It’s that time of year… everyone is buying a new house or getting into their first home! I find my friends that are renting prefer to make moves in the summer too, since winter can be a much messier time to move here in Edmonton. That really just results in a load of housewarmings and “new place barbeques” where bringing a small gift is often somewhat expected.

I’ll be honest. My go-to gift for a new home or new marriage is usually a bottle of wine and a kitchen fire extinguisher. Two things every house needs, right? But sometimes it’s fun to think outside the box and grab a friend something practical or beautiful to make their new space a little easier, or homier. Life is always so expensive right after you’ve moved or bought a new home, and a thoughtful gift that is totally frivolous is always nice when you can’t afford to make frivolous purchases.

 

Under $25

A nice assortment of throw pillows, ice buckets, and adorable coasters that are cute and thoughtful without breaking the bank!

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[Live Your Dream Napkins] [Blue Coasters] [White Knit Pillow] [Marble and Gold Coasters] [Rose Gold Ice Bucket] [White Ruffle Pillow] [Glass Champagne Bucket] [Chillin with my Beaches Napkins] [more]

 

Under $50

Pretty highball glasses, a nice bowl for snack mix, cheeky (or cute!) doorway mats and cake stands are all great items to look for in this price point!

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 [Creme De La Creme Porcelain Trinket Tray] [Gold Faceted Highball Glasses] [Blossom Crystal Bowl][Throw Blanket][Monogram Doormat] [Marble & Wood Cake Stand] [More]

 

 

Do you have a go-to gift that you love to give a friend?