Curl up in front of the TV, winter is coming

The weather outside is definitely starting to turn and there are even rumors of snow in the next few days. Gosh I hope those are wrong; but the inevitable is bound to come, this is Canada after all. Colder weather means a couple things those ski bunnies will be hitting the mountains most weekend but for those not skilled in downhill skiing it means more nights in cuddled up in front of the TV. I’ve recently been exposed a few new shows and thought I’d share my nights in TV list with you all. Knowing my Netflix library of these shows won’t last all winter, I am open to some suggestions, so share your favorite series below.

  • house of cardsHouse of Cards – How the heck have I never heard of this politico drama until now still amazes me. If you are looking for a pretty intense political drama full of twists, turns and suspense this is the show for you.
  • mindy projectMindy Project – The ladies will love this one. It follows a 30 something doctor around on her quests for the perfect husband. It is hilarious! Some vino and this show, equals the perfect girls night in.
  • SuitsSuits – Two words: Harvey Specter.
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Salmon Lettuce Wraps

Hello!

I love summer, but I love getting back into the routine that Fall brings.  Everything starts up again and it’s fun to start switching things up.  A big thing for me is getting back to cooking healthy.  Summer tends to throw me off track and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

Here’s a recipe I made up for tonights dinner!

Salmon Lettuce Wraps

1 Salmon fillet

Olive Oil

Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning

Head of Iceberg Lettuce

Cucumber

Yellow Sunburst Tomatos

Red Onion

Avocado

Greek Yogurt Dip Tzatziki / Dill ( Got mine from Superstore)

Brown Rice

Optional: Feta

1) Preheat oven to 400F.

2) Start the brown rice – I suck at cooking rice, so I can’t give advice other than google cooking times depending on what you have

3) Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil on the salmon and rub in the seasoning. Bake in oven for 16 mins at 400F.

4) Dice up the cucumber, onion, tomato, and avocado

5) Tear off a few peices of the iceberg for your wraps

6) Assemble any way you wish!

Salmon Lettuce Wraps

 

Lemme know what you think if you try it out!

XO

 

Healthy Pumpkin & Honey Bran Muffins

muffins

Autumn is my most favorite season, the colors (especially back home), the crisp fresh air, comfort food etc. Every year around this time I start my pumpkin craze, and this year is no exception and last night I made Pumpkin Bran Muffins. They make a great option for a healthy breakfast on the go, they freeze great, just wrap each in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag in the freezer. These delightful pumpkin treats are moist and pack a nice little punch. Since they are made with bran it means full of fiber. The recipe calls for dried cranberries or raisins, I didn’t have either of these ingredients and I think they turned out just fine.

Each muffin, 218 calories, 5 grams of fat

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1½ cups honey
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 egg whites 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups wheat bran
  • ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins  

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper liners for easy clean up.

2. In an electric mixer or in a large bowl mixing by hand, add pumpkin, honey, applesauce and oil.

3. Stir in egg whites, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

4. Add wheat bran, oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, salt and mix until combined. Stir in cranberries or raisins and mix until blended

5. Fill each muffin cup just about to the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Makes about 16 muffins (each serving, 1 muffin)

AmysSignature

Source: Skinny Kitchen

Banff Subaru Triathlon – Race Recap

post race banff

Post Race at the finish line

Last week I conquered a fear and checked another item off my 101 bucket list. I’ve spent the past few months chronicling my training for my first Tri, specifically my struggles with the swim, but I am so proud to report that I did it! It wasn’t easy, and I won’t sugar coat my recount but I did it!

The day before race day:
I was a barrel of nerves, and definitely had an anxiety attack in fear I was going to be late to check in, and to drop off my bike off at T1, subsequently being disqualified before even having the opportunity to start. It’s hard for me to admit but there may have been tears in said anxiety attack. I got my emotions under control and we made Banff with time to spare. Of course we did though; the control freak side of me had left an ample buffer. I got checked in, picked up my green swim cap indicating to race officials I was a nervous swimmer (which I really had to check my ego for), and got my bike to T1 making it back in time for the mandatory race meeting.

I woke up bright and early gathered my stuff and met Adrienne for breakfast. Together we headed to set up our stuff at T2, hoped the shuttle bus and headed to the start at Two Jack Lake. Throughout the morning I was surprisingly calm, chatting up other racers as we all waited for the announcement it was time to head to the water.

two jack

Two Jack Lake

The Swim:
We waited around T1 for a couple hours before the call came for us to get ready to head down to the water. The lake was beautiful, honestly picturesque and my photo doesn’t really do it justice. The announcer indicated the water was only 13 degrees and the Olympic distance would be shortened, I was disappointed our distance (the sprint) wasn’t. The buoys looked so much further than 500m, I was sure they misjudged the distance.

Excitement was building as the male sprint heat got in the water to start. Holy crap our heat was next, there was no turning back now. There I was at the edge of the water, wet suit and green cap on ready to go. Next thing you know we are all “swimming”, I put the quotations because where I started in the pack it wasn’t really swimming; it was frantic gasping for survival at best. I couldn’t catch my breath at all, and felt like my wet suit was choking me. I was terrified. The swim was the most chaotic thing I’ve ever participated in. I actually didn’t do one proper stroke the entire time. People were hitting me, and splashing water on me, I just couldn’t calm down. I even yelled at someone to beat it. I feel bad now looking back and know they were probably in just as bad, if not worse spot then I was but her panic and struggle really wasn’t helping my situation. I did my best to get away from her. When I looked around people were swimming in every which direction, it was quite the experience. Throughout the swim I thought of quitting several times… SEVERAL. Somehow though through a lot of self talk I kept with it and what felt like hours turned out to be 16 minutes of my life.

The Bike:tri banff2
When I got to shore, I was so freaking happy! The announcer kept advising the swimmers coming in to swim as far in as they could before standing up, but as soon as  able to stand I did. I was just so darn happy to be able to stand and not to be struggling that I didn’t listen to his advice. When I got out of the water I’m sure I was beaming. Unfortunately, by the time I got to my bike and out of my wet suit I had forgotten all the transition advice I’d been given.

I hit the bike with a fury, because this is where I really wanted to make up some time.  With each person I passed the more excited and energy I seemed to get. I just kept setting a goal to pass the next person in front of me. It was awesome. Then at about the 10 km mark my chain fell off – ugh. I don’t know how to fix a fallen chain, so I just got off my bike and started pushing it. As I was pushing  my bike everyone I’d passed started to pass me back – damn it. I yelled to a spectator biking in the opposite direction if he knew how to put my chain back on, luckily he did and he pulled over to help. Gosh, am I ever grateful to him. He helped me and I was back in the race. I had to work my tail feather off to catch and repass the people I had originally passed.  The bike route was gorgeous, with just enough hills to keep things interesting. As we got closer to Banff town center I knew the bike portion was just about over and I worked to finish the bike strong.

The Run:
When I finally reached T2, I racked my bike and was surprised to see my support group right across my transition area. I was thrilled, but rather disorientated. I could hear them cheering and sending words of encouragement but it was kind of a blur due to exhausting and excitement.  I got out of my bike shoes, into my runners and was away. As I exited T2 and started my run I saw my Adrienne coming to the end of her run. She totally killed it. The run was nice and my legs didn’t feel nearly as bad as I expected. I finished my run in 26 min.

run banffComing into the finish was such a wicked feeling that is really hard to put into words. I crossed the finish line at 1:35:12. All and all, this was one of the coolest things I’ve done. It was a lot of hard work, but I had some pretty great people in my corner supporting me throughout. I am so thankful for that email with the title “sign up now” and for my spontaneous nature because who knows if I would have completed this race otherwise. I raised money for a very deserving cause, found a new hobby, and made some great friends.

Now on to the next challenge…

XoXo

AmysSignature

 

banff subaru

Picking my bike up post race… nothing but smiles

 

September Snow Day?

Yup…it happened…September 8th: a summer snowstorm.

I think everyone was a little unsure how to dress for this weather because it was still above the freezing mark. Do we bundle up in our parkas and risk the inevitable back sweat… or opt for the spring jacket with an umbrella praying that the wind doesn’t pick up and cause the embarrassing flip effect?

I chose the umbrella route and ended up using it as a shield to avoid the flippage…looks a little something like this:

Person-with-Umbrella-Fighting-Wind-and-Snow

All I want to do in this kind of weather is snuggle up, have a bath, and indulge in some delicious comfort food. But is there such thing as a healthy comfort food dish you ask? Why yes, yes there is….

Turkey chili!

This is one of my most favorite meals ever…such a satisfying warm dish that fills you right up and tastes sinfully good 🙂

You can definitely switch up the ingredients in the below recipe. Perhaps add some different veggies or sub out the garbanzo beans for kidney beans…but to be completely honest I don’t mess around with it too much because it’s just so darn good!

Snuggle up with a bowl of this deliciousness and I swear you will forget about the horrendous weather we are currently experiencing and make it until Wednesday…. which is when it is supposed to be sunny again! (Oh Calgary weather…).

Xox

BrennaSignature

Zucchini Turkey Chili

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided20140810_182124
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (7 ounce) can salsa
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or coarsely chopped tomatoes packed in puree
  • 1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble turkey into the pot, stirring with a wooden spoon to break apart as much as possible. Season with taco seasoning mix, coriander, oregano, chili flakes, and tomato paste, and mix until meat is evenly coated with seasonings. Continue cooking, reducing heat if necessary, until turkey is well browned.
  2. Pour in beef broth, and simmer to reduce liquid slightly, about 5 minutes. Add salsa, tomatoes, and green chilies, and continue cooking at a moderate simmer for ten minutes. Adjust the thickness at any time you feel necessary by adding water.
  3. While chili is still cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion and green bell pepper, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and bell pepper is lightly browned. Add onion and bell pepper to the chili, and continue cooking at a very low simmer.
  4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, and cook stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the zucchini and garbanzo beans to the chili, reduce heat, and continue cooking 15 minutes more. Again, adjust the consistency with water as needed.
  5. Ladle chili into serving bowls. Top with sour cream, green onion, and cheddar cheese, and serve.

Recipe originally from allrecipes.com.

First Triathlon fast approaching

Where has time gone!? Summer is over and my first triathlon is only 3 sleeps away. Nerves and excitement are starting to take over.

A few weeks ago I incurred an injury on a training run which I thought was going to completely derail my end of season races and most importantly the triathlon. What the doctor initially thought was torn tendons turned out to be an irritated bursa, which I seem to have got control over with physio and Core shorts (think compression shorts but stronger). Luckily I was still able to race Seawheeze which was such an awsome race with a beautiful course, I definitely want to race it again next year. While I didn’t achieve the race goal I had set out (missed it by 3 min), I am still happy with my result especially since I wasn’t allowed to train for 2 weeks. I was not an easy person to get along with during this time, as anxiety and frustration really got the better of me.

We got back from BC Friday, after taking a much needed break in the Okanagan post race to relax and drink some pinot. Probably not the most strategic thing to do since my most important race was a week out.  As Monday was a holiday  I met my friends Adrienne  and Aimee who will also be racing Subaru this coming weekend to “test the waters” – pun intended. And, I’m not gonna lie, it was cold, really cold. My test swim was, well Ok I guess. I was scared and cold. Luckily I could see the bottom in some areas which surprisingly made me feel more comfortable. Lake swimming is NOTHING like pool swimming. I was actually starting to feel semi confident in the pool coming on the end of the swim program but that lake swim really brought me back to reality, I am not a swimmer.

Tonight, I set out some of my race gear, read the rules and all the other need to know information. I feel overwhelmed to say the least. Will I remember all the important stuff? The thought of making a trivial mistake in transition is beyond stressing me out. Other triathletes say you are supposed to visualize the transition, how the heck can you visualize something you’ve never experienced before? I am just praying that I keep my composure and make it to the finish line. That is my goal for this race… finish.

pic

While laying out some of the gear I decided to practice getting out of my wetsuit which is trickier than it sounds. Wetsuits are not flattering nor are they easy to get on or off. They are also apparently delicate little things and you need to wear gloves or something over your nails so you don’t puncture a hole in it. What if I get stuck in my wetsuit!? How
embarrassing. Weather network is calling for a balmy low of 3 degrees celsius Saturday morning so I maybe just a frozen wet popsicle in my wetsuit by the end of the swim never making it out of the first transition point. Regardless of the result, I can’t wait to check this off my bucket list and can focus on something I’ve been neglecting… sleep.

Tomorrow I have to pick up some last minute things, finish packing and go over my check list twice, then it’s off to Banff Friday afternoon.

Wish me luck!!!

AmysSignature

 

Post-Summer Thoughts

September 1st happened today. It is bittersweet. I love summer. I enjoy the heat, the adventures, long weekends, bbq’s with friends, and tanned boys. Summer makes me feel like I’m somewhat care-free and have no schedule to adhere to. While I sometimes enjoy that, I tend to crave routine.

I have so many goals or things that I want to accomplish this fall/winter. Probably because September seems more like the beginning of a new year than January does. And who sticks to their NYE resolutions anyway?

I would love to take a few classes to learn how to cook better, or maybe learn how to sew and knit fun things. I want to join a sports league, go to the gym everyday and make healthy meals. I would love to be more invovled in my church, read meaningful books, and volunteer.

Are you tired thinking about all those things? I am.

I have so many ideas floating around in my head! Did I mention I also want to discover YouTube fame and wear purple lipstick everyday?

Amy is moving in with me this month and we have been so excited discussing all the new things we want to get after. I hope we can laugh along the way when things don’t really go the way we’ve envisioned in our heads. Life is too unpredictable to take every little detail so seriously.

I want encourage you to find something that makes you smile and get after it this season. It could turn out to be the worst idea or you’ll find something that inspires you for a long time.

image image

 

 

 

 

 

Just some of my thoughts this Labour Day.

xo

Artistic Talent

Artistic Talent:
Some people have it…some people don’t.

I am unfortunately one of the latter…however I am lucky to know some incredibly talented artists and I wanted to highlight some work of a friend of mine who amazes me with her concept ideas and raw artistic talent.

Her name is Sarah Gasparetto and she is the owner of TreMura Photography, which is a client based business focused on photographing individuals for headshots, boudoir shoots and also capturing special events such as weddings. You may have seen our new pics on our “About Us” page, and those are all thanks to Sarah!

Although she was incredibly successful with this type of photography, she is now transitioning to more fine art, and I wanted to share her new project concept as well as some of her past art pieces.

Here are a couple of her latest exhibits: (I was lucky enough to actually be the model for her “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” show piece :))

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Title: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Showcased: “Paper Cinematheque” October 2014 UAS Satellite Gallery

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Title: “My Intermission” Showcased: “f100 Exposure Photography Festival” January 2013 Lougheed House Calgary Showcased: “Pin Up” February 2012 UAS Satellite Gallery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new concept!

Sarah’s new concept is so interesting to me. To have the ability to come up with something so unique and powerful truly amazes me.
Her new project will be a collection of portraits (head shots) of artists from around Calgary who make visual fine art and relate their photos to their artwork and concepts. i.e. the below photo is an image of Ashley Huff (a local Calgary painter) of her own art depicted on herself.

456625_349599378434095_1152682711_oAshley Huff is a local Calgary artist that focuses her art on internal reflection and the escape from one’s self from the outside in. It is a hauntingly beautiful image that reflects the paintings that she has created and ties it directly to herself. Ashley made paintings of a woman who ate herself from the outside in. Therefore she was photographed with the image of a place setting and a large scar/cut on her cheek to mimic the cuts that she painted.

“My goal for this project is to create awareness that art is directly tied to artists and their concepts and experiences. I find this connection can often be lost” says Sarah.

I am so honored to know Sarah and be able to watch her career as an artist bloom. She is a fantastic lady, and I invite you to keep an eye out for her new exhibit coming to a gallery in Calgary soon. For those interested in participating in this project, or who would like to be notified (via mailing list) of its formal release and exhibition they may contact Sarah directly at www.sarahgasparetto.com or phone at 403-807-5079.

Xox

BrennaSignature

 

DIY Crayon Lipstick

This is a very cool DIY that I got from Pinterest and YouTube! I was skeptical at first, as I am not one to take on crafty projects and find much success. However, I have been using my little pot of crayon lipstick every day since!

Here’s what you need:

–> Coconut Oil

–> Crayola Crayons (This brand is non-toxic)

–> Glass jar (not in pic)

–>Small containers (try the dollar store)

image

Here are the colours I tried! My absolute favourite is the pink/red one.  The purple I made a little too thick and did not quite turn out the way I anticipated…

image
Steps:

1.  Heat up a couple inches of water in a pot and place the small jar in the middle

2. Cut up the crayon into peices and take the wrapping off

3. Measure out 1 tsp of coconut oil into the jar and let it melt

image

4. Add 1 crayon and stir until they are melted

5. Pour into little containers and put in the fridge

6. Voila!!

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Notes:

If you use the 1 crayon to 1 tsp of coconut oil ratio, you get a nice sheer gloss.  I found this to be the best combo in all the different ways I tried!

Let me know if you try this and what you think!!

xo

 

 

 

WTF (Welcome to France)

Salut mes amies! Greetings from France!

As some of you may remember from an earlier blog post, in a few short weeks I am moving to Paris! Yes, as of September 15 I will officially be Parisienne. Oh la la!

But before I call the city of lights my home, I am spending some time in a charming town called Vichy brushing up on my French. I must admit, before I left for this two week stint in Vichy I had what some might call a bit of a meltdown. Panic attack, tears in the airport…the whole thing. I was wondering why I made this decision to leave my wonderful home, with my amazing family and friends, to live in a foreign country? Things are weird in France. Now,  having arrived, I realize that France really isn’t so scary.

Not to say that things aren’t different. My colleagues have coined a term: WTF aka Welcome to France. Basically, it is a term you use while you live here to express all of the things that are crazy, confusing, amazing, and so not North American. I wanted to share with you a few of my WTF experiences in my first week here (I promise to keep adding to this list during my time here..)

People are ACTUALLY nice: Les Français get a bad rep. Always thought to be rude, I feel like some people are apprehensive towards them. Everyone I have met thus far have been oh so charming and very kind in a very French, reserved way. And that’s ok too.

Heathy food DOES exist: Craving baguettes and macaroons? This is your place, no doubt about it. But you can also find amazing fresh produce and produits bio (aka organic). Organic products are very popular and people are becoming more and more health conscious. Guys, I even found a Vitamix type blender for smoothies at the grocery store, along with protein powder. It was a thing of beauty.

People DO care about Fitness: Well, kinda. I have been very troubled by the fact that I might not be able to find my spin or yoga classes in France. I DID find a gym here (granted, it is closed for the month of August) and I did see a few fellow joggers when I went on a run (although people did still look at me like I was crazy). I will keep you posted on this one…

This country IS magical: The history, the joie de vivre, the food, the wine….FRANCE. I must say, I feel more at home in this place than I initially thought I would. I am so excited for what the next few years will bring…

That’s all for now. Can’t wait to keep you updated on this little adventure of mine.

Bisous,

ErinSignature