Monday, 26 January 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Guide (Feel free to pass this along to your significant other)

Tarte Kiss & Belle Lipsurgence Lip Set (similar

Stella & Dot Rory Necklace (similar)
Stella & Dot Tribute Bracelet (similar)

I'm home sick today, so I thought it would be fun to put together a list of gift ideas for Valentine's Day. Feel free to forward this along to to your partner for a few not-so-subtle hints!


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Local Love: Toronto Cooks

My husband is a pretty awesome gift giver. Mostly I tell him a few things I want, but he always comes up with a surprise. This year's surprise was the cookbook Toronto Cooks. When I opened it he said, "You don't actually have to make the recipes. We can just pick the ones that look good and go try them at the restaurants." Which does sound fun for date night, but I'm determined to try and make some of the recipes in here :)

Toronto Cooks is a collection of 100 recipes from 50 different Toronto chefs. I've lived in Toronto about 10 years now, and have fully fallen in love with this city. Especially the amazing restaurants we have here.

Globe and Mail describes Toronto Cooks like this:

"If the past 12 months of Toronto’s culinary scene were to be encapsulated in a school yearbook, Amy Rosen’s new cookbook Toronto Cooks, a collection of 103 recipes from 48 restaurants across the city, would fit the bill. The freshmen class would be Drake One Fifty and Geraldine, which opened last year; New York-based Café Boulud and Momofuku Milk Bar would be the exchange students; and the decades-old restaurants, such as Allen’s and 360 at the CN Tower, would be the faculty."

Read their full review here.

So far I've tried 3 recipes from Toronto Cooks. The first one I tried was the Muscovy Duck Breast with Whiskey Blackcurrant Sauce from Allen's. Then I tried the Arcadian Court Chicken Pot Pie from Bannock.

Most recently, I made the Confetti Cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar for my book club last weekend.

Warning - these are not quick, after work recipes. They've each taken me quite awhile to prepare. And I've had to go buy ingredients I've never even heard of. But it has been fun trying new things from Toronto's top restaurants. Although, I'm sad Globe Bistro wasn't included. Rob and I think Globe is one of the best restaurants in the city.

Anyways, if you need a gift idea for a die-hard Torontonian, this would be a great idea. My cousin has been talking about the idea of using her favourite cookbooks as coffee table books, and after receiving this one, I'd have to agree!


Monday, 19 January 2015

The One New Year's Resolution I Won't Quit ...nomatterwhat

Just over a week ago, my friend Kelly sent me and some other ladies an email. How would we like to participate in Mudderella? She told us she thought it would be a lot of fun.

Truth time - I am not in shape. I don't work out regularly, and I love eating gummy bears. When I think of things that sound like fun, that list usually includes: wine, Netflix, reading, and ordering in Thai food. Mudderella is a 5-7 mile long, muddy obstacle course. It would not traditionally fit into the list of fun things I like to do. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my immediate reaction was to delete the email and tell Kelly to her face how insane I thought she was the next time I saw her.

But before I did that, a small part of me kept saying, "Maybe....." I've seen photos of colour runs and pictures of Tough Mudder and always thought they did actually look a bit fun. Fun in the ohmygodican'tbelieveijustdidthat kind of way. There has been that twinge of "I wish I could do something like that."

The most fit I've ever been was probably about 7 or 8 years ago. I was working out more regularly, had a favourite gym, and even did a handful of 5k runs. Enter baby....

So, after the initial shock of thinking of course there is no way I'm prepared to run 10k, ascend a cargo net or climb over a freaking wall, I thought, maybe....maybe I could actually do this.

What if it did work out? 

Mudderella is not a race and is based on 3 truths:
1. You're stronger than you think you are.
2. There's more to life than going to the gym.
3. You deserve an awesome experience. 

The event is 6 months away, so I have lots of time to train. The 10k isn't a solid run because there are obstacles every half mile or so. And Mudderella provides a training program online to help you prepare for the event. Apart from the runs, I can do a good chunk of the training in my basement. And, most importantly, I won't be alone.

I'm determined and committed to completing Mudderella in 2015 with a team of amazing and brave women.
The Dirty Divas.

I am still very afraid. Mostly, I'm afraid of the run. 10k is further than I've ever run before. And the wall. I'm afraid of climbing over a wall. Or really, not being able to climb over the wall. I'm afraid of dumb things like I'll get my period on game day or it will rain (It's a mud run; I really shouldn't worry about the rain.) I'm afraid my toddler will go into complete meltdown mode, and Rob will have to handle it alone (Which Rob can totally do. I'm clearly grasping at fears here).  I'm also afraid of big things. I'm afraid that despite trying to train as best I can, I still may not be ready. I'm afraid I may get injured. I'm afraid of feeling weak. I'm afraid of giving up.

So, I vow to make this experience ridiculously amazing. That may be the only thing that keep my fears at bay.

I'm excited to make new friends.
I'm excited to deepen the friendships I already have.
I'm excited to have an amazing reason to trek downtown to my favourite gym.
I'm excited to do a few training runs in Quebec City and San Diego when I'm traveling over the next couple of months.
I'm excited to get matching shirts for event day.
I'm excited that in coordinating with my husband when I can do my workouts, we're planning when he can add workouts to his schedule as well.
I'm excited to have this ridiculously amazing experience.
I'm excited to celebrate afterwards.
I'm excited to feel strong.

On July 11, 2015 it's very likely I will be more fit than I have ever been in my whole life. I'm looking forward to feeling what that feels like.

Yesterday I did my first training run. Game on.

Wish me luck!

Images via Mudderella on Facebook and Pinterest.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

My Favourite Skin Care Products

It's cleansing season. Here are my favourite skin care products for feeling refreshed whatever the weather.

Caudalie Make-up Remover Cleansing Water and Caudalie Foaming Cleanser
This cleansing water was the recommended one by the good ladies at Sephora for removing eye make-up. Foaming cleansers are my favourite, and this one is very soft. Can a foaming cleanser feel soft? Anyways, this one does.

Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Moisturizing Cream and Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Restorative Treatment Serum
My favourite moisturizer and serum!

Juice Beauty Green Apple Organic Peel 
This peel was in my FabFitFun box, and I've been using it once a week since then.

Cleansing and Softening Shower Oil with Almond Oil
I usually get gifted lots of different kinds of body wash, which I love. I don't really have one single type I use on the regular. I recently received this shower oil as a sample with a Sephora order and it is amazing. I'd definitely buy a larger bottle of this.

Sabon Pachouli and Lavender Body Scrub
My mom and I stumbled upon a Sabon store in NYC a few years ago, and we both walked away with this body scrub. I wish I could attach smells to this blog. Their pachouli/lavender is one of my favourites.

NutriMinC RE9 REfinish Hydrating Lotion
This is another item I am often gifted, so I don't have a specific brand I buy regularly. This is the latest one I've started using. I'd also recommend this spray lotion for a less expensive option.

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream
A friend introduced this deodorant to me recently. I was skeptical because I've tried a number of "natural" deodorants, and I've never found one that lasts much longer than an hour or two. In addition to the amazing lavender smell, I've started talking about this deodorant to everyone! It's a bit strange to use a cream deodorant, but I swear it works. Like all day.

Alternatively, last month I was sent Secret Outlast Clear Gel to test out for free. The Soapwalla brand is a bit pricey, so this is a more affordable option. I can't ever remember using a gel deodorant, but I found this one to be really effective. It dried super quickly and also worked really well all day long when I was running around doing errands.

L'Occitane Lavender Hand Cream
I seem to have different types of hand creams all over the place, but this is my fav!

Froosh High Five Manicure Scrub
I bought this at the One of a Kind Show a few years ago. This sugar scrub has avocado oil in it and has a very fresh smell. After using this scrub, my hands felt so clean and also moisturized. And one container lasts a long time. So lovely!


Friday, 2 January 2015

Read Harder

I've always wanted to participate in a reading challenge, but I'm never going to read 50 books in a year which seems to be one of the more popular reading challenges. Even pre-bébé I don't think I could manage that, and I consider myself to be an avid reader.

Last week I came across Book Riot's 2015 Read Harder Challenge. It's only 24 books long which I see as much more manageable. Plus it's going to encourage me to read some books I would have never otherwise picked up.

To help myself complete this challenge, I'm permitting a few liberties:

a)  I started Boy, Snow, Bird last week, but I'm only a few chapters in, so I'm counting it.

b) Toronto Cooks is published by an indie Canadian publisher, and I will absolutely be reading through and making recipes from this big, beautiful book, so I'm counting it.

c) All the Light We Cannot See didn't actually win the National Book Award, but it was a finalist so I'm calling that close enough.

Here's the list and my initial thoughts on what I may read for some of the topics. These may change, and I'd love to hear your recommendations for any of the suggestions below (that's even one of the 24 tasks!). Plus, I'll add my favourites over on the Books page of this blog.  

1. A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 - Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

2. A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

3. A collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people) - The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

4. A book published by an indie press - Toronto Cooks by Amy Rosen

5. A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

6. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own - Where I Belong by Alan Doyle

7. A book that takes place in Asia

8. A book by an author from Africa

9. A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.) - Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

10. A microhistory - Making Makers by AnnMarie Thomas

11. A YA novel

12. A sci-fi novel

13. A romance novel - Not sure yet but lots of suggestions on Goodreads are for books by Sarah MacLean, so I may try one of those.

14. A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

15. A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.)  - Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

16. An audiobook - The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

17. A collection of poetry - Love Poems by Pablo Neurda

18. A book that someone else has recommended to you

19. A book that was originally published in another language

20. A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind - Maus by Art Spiegleman

21. A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) - #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

22. A book published before 1850

23. A book published this year - Why Not Me? by Mindy Kayling

24. A self-improvement book - The Awe-manac: A Daily Dose of Wonder by Jill Badonsky

Book Riot also has a Goodreads group setup if you'd like to get or give recommendations for the different topics specific to this challenge.

Wish me luck! Even if I only get 70% finished, I'm calling it a win. The Globe and Mail recently published that only giving 70% is better for your health anyways.