I have a wonderful aunt and uncle that give me a well loaded Starbucks card every Christmas. For the first few years I was always too lazy to go through the process of registering them online and would just throw them out once they were used up. But last Christmas I decided to take the time to register my card and see what would happen. I am so glad I did! Just by registering your card you get:
1. A coupon sent to you for a free drink on your birthday.
2. Free additives to your drink. Which means you don’t have to pay anything extra to add things like specialty milk or sugar free/extra syrups. Trust me, having them give you a total and then having it drop by 50 cents when they swipe your card never gets old.
3. Free coffee and tea refills while you’re in the shop. Which means you can order a coffee, sit down with a good book and get yourself a free refill when your cup runs dry. Such a treat!
Having a card is also great because you can really keep track of how much you’re spending on beverages. For instance, I put 25$ on my card every month and try not to put more money on it until the month is up. That way I don’t lose track and end up spending my grocery money on my third latte of the day. So having a registered card keeps you on track financially in more ways than one! Enjoy the benefits!
The first time I stepped off a plane in England I came across this sign in Heathrow airport and it brought me a surprisingly large amount of joy:
Because lets face it people – we are not looking to “powder”, we likely aren’t there for the soul purpose of “wash”ing and I really hope a “bath” isn’t what is deeply necessary. So why in North America do we ask for the powder room, washroom or bathroom when we are clearly looking for the toilets!!?? Thank you Brits for telling it how it is.
Since moving into my new apartment my necklaces and bracelets have sat in a tangled clump on my desk. I finally decided that pile of clutter needed to go but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money so I came up with this:
The base is just an old cork board with a wooden frame that I had lying around from my childhood (but I’m sure you could achieve the same effect with any wooden board). I painted the frame with an old brush and then added the gold dots using a Q-tip. Then I decorated the middle by dabbing white, gold and silver paint with a sponge. I put small nails in each of the gold dots on the bottom of the frame and in every third or fourth dot along the side and on the top. To give it a more finished look I painted all the nails gold and was done. It was incredibly inexpensive, fast and easy. And now it’s unbelievably easy to pick out my jewelry for the day – and that makes me happy!
I have recently rediscovered the wonder of baths. Up until about a week ago I associated baths with my mother’s childhood chant: “Time for a bath and then it’s bedtime.” I’d have to march upstairs, sit in 3 inches of lukewarm water for 10 minutes and then get carted off to bed (and bed always seemed like the worst punishment in the world as a child). In later years I merely associated the bathing and showering processes with being cold – because in Canada chances are the air in your house is freezing so even if you were warm while you were getting clean, you are more than likely going to freeze as soon as you get out. So me and the bathtub have not got along on all fronts.
But recently a coworker told me how much she enjoys having a nice bubble bath at night. And that got me thinking. Because even though I hated baths as a kid, on the rare occasions that my mom had some bubbles on hand, the experience did feel a little special. So that night I went to Shoppers, got a massive bottle of generic foaming bath gel and decided to try it out. I lit a few candles, got some bubbles going and settled in with a new book. I have to tell you – it was the greatest thing I’ve done for myself in months. Any stresses I had just seemed to melt away. And after a half hour I was so warm and relaxed that I was actually ready to get out. There was no frantic rush to get dried off and out of the cold air because I was so hot that it actually felt nice to get out. And putting on my pyjamas and crawling into bed was just the cherry on top.
Over the years I have collected so many bath products as gifts but I haven’t used any of them because I didn’t think I was a bath person. Essential oils, bubble bath, bath salts, candles, bath bombs – they’ve all just been sitting under my sink for years. Well boy am I going to make use of them now!
Before this point my “me time” always involved watching TV or surfing the internet – but neither of those left me feeling relaxed. They just made me feel like I had wasted a large chunk of time and fried my brain. But with a bath you really feel like you’ve done something good for yourself – and you deserve it! So please, do something just for you and have a nice, relaxing bubble bath!
It has to be said…I absolutely LOVE board games. You can’t help but smile and laugh every time you play a board game. And there is a game for every occasion! If you’re having an event with a lot of people that don’t know each other there are games to get people talking and if you’re spending time with old friends there are games that help celebrate that. Here are my top three:
1. Cranium: It’s a game played in teams so it’s great for big groups. There are 4 categories you draw from to help you move around the board. Some categories are creative, some are challenging and some lead to absolute hilarity. Giggles are guaranteed with this one.
2. Taboo: Another team game where you have to make your teammates guess a certain word (ex: teacher) without saying the “taboo” words that are listed below it (i.e. school, students, elementary, class). It’s the perfect game to play with really good friends or family because you can use your shared histories to make them guess the right word (ex: “Mr. Smith was this for you in the 3rd grade).
3. Trivial Pursuit: It is one of the more challenging games as it requires answering some very hard questions on many different topics. It’s meant to be played individually but I usually like to play in teams so you can pool your knowledge and work together to find the right answer.
Even just writing this post is making me crave a board games night!
I am a big fan of trying to make as many things by hand as possible. It’s just so nice to eat something where you know exactly what is in it instead of food that has a list of ingredients where you can’t even pronounce half the words. Since my last granola bar making experience worked out so well – I decided to try my hand at bread. It was harder to find a good bread recipe because a lot of them require a bread mixer which I don’t have. Which is why I was so excited to come across this breakfast loaf.
Here’s how I made this delicious morning treat:
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 450 and grease a rectangular pan.
2. Grind up oats in food processor and then combine with flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In separate bowl combine honey, oil and milk.
4. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients together thoroughly and then pour into greased pan.
5. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, remove and let cool.
Super healthy, super easy and definitely super delicious. Because everyone needs a reason to smile in the morning!
About three years ago I started to get into triathlon races. It started small (my first one was a 750 meter swim, 20km bike and 5km run) and last year I worked my way up to one double that distance. I had hoped to do a half Ironman this year which is a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run but due to an injury I had to take a lot of time off. The silver lining to that disappointment is that sometimes you need to take time away from something to remind yourself just how much you love it. And boy do I love races! Sure, the training process for a race is painful and exhausting – but the end product is completely worth it. I can’t count the amount of days I just don’t feel like getting up early to squeeze my run in or take that plunge into the icy pool. But having a goal to work to means you can remind yourself how good it will feel at the end and get yourself going.
If you’re new to the idea of races – don’t get intimidated or turned off too soon! Try it out! Sign up for a 5km run or even a walk. I promise that rush you feel when you cross the finish line and all that hard work has paid off will be totally worth it. You can even make the goal with a friend so you have someone to work out with.
Races are also excellent because everything gets to be about you – and I mean that in a very positive way. For one, you don’t need anyone else to get yourself out for your morning run. It isn’t like at work where you have a ton of rules to follow and are immediately blamed for not getting something done. It’s just you. If you really aren’t feeling well one day, it’s okay to take a break. You get to decide when you train and how you train and you don’t have to answer to anyone about it. And secondly, it’s something totally independent from everything else in your life. So even if you feel like you’re doing terribly at work and your family is driving you crazy – there is still something you can do. And it’s not about being the best at at. It’s about the fact that when everything else is going wrong, you can still go out for a run and think “I ran a 1oo meters further than I did last time.” You can congratulate your body for accomplishing even the smallest goals. So it might be hard but it’s absolutely worth it. And if you need help getting started I’m always here. Need a training plan or some quick tips on how to begin? I’m more than happy to help!
Who is Marian Keyes? She is the writer of the best easy reads when you’re looking for a funny book to take on vacation or just turn your brain off for a while. Her characters are typically set in Ireland or England so there’s a ton of hilarious British wit. And she still manages to address more serious topics at the same time so you get a little bit of wisdom at the same time. This Charming Man is a heavier read while The Other Side of the Story is an ideal beach read. And some of her books like Last Chance Saloon and Sushi for Beginners sit perfectly in the middle. I have yet to come across a novel of hers I don’t like. Each one alternates between the stories of about three characters from chapter to chapter so even if one storyline doesn’t grab your attention right away the next one will. And when one character’s life starts to slow down, the next one picks up. So you never want to put it down! And you can usually find most of her novels at the library so you can try one out without having to risk purchasing it on my word alone. But I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Where can you find it? www.davidstea.com
What is it? A store selling every possible kind of tea you could possibly imagine.
How much will you love it? A whole heck of a lot!
Black tea, white tea, green tea, oolong tea – they have it all. It’s like a library of teas. They have little booklets of their whole collection so you can browse and figure out which one appeals to you the most. Plus the staff are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. The store has walls of tins filled with loose leaf tea. You choose the one you want, they put it in a bag or small container and you’re good to go! You can find any combination of ingredients in each tea. Some have dried fruits like pineapple and coconut, while others have delicious combinations of herbs and spices. My personal favourites are “Buttered Rum” and “Toasted Walnut Green Tea”. The Buttered Rum is an excellent substitute for coffee in the morning and the Toasted Walnut is the perfect way to unwind after work. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to browse the first time you go in because the possibilities are endless!
Extra note: If you don’t live near a David’s Tea don’t worry! There are plenty of other tea places with lots of unique selections to choose from. I’m sure if you google it you’ll find the perfect place for you!
I often need to eat on the run and I like my quick meals to be as healthy as possible. Which is why these oat bars are an absolute godsend. They are so healthy and incredibly delicious. It almost makes me want to be in a rush because I know I can eat one on the way to wherever I’m going. Here’s how I made them:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir up two separate bowls of ingredients:
In the dry ingredients bowl put the following:
- 1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup any kind of chopped nuts (I did half peanuts and half almonds because that’s what I had on hand but any kind of chopped nut will do)
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup dried fruit (I did half shredded coconut and half black currents – I think the coconut gives it a really nice texture and the currants are small so they aren’t too juicy like an apricot or cranberry would be – but you can really use any dried fruit you have on hand)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (I actually did a little less than 1/4 cup brown sugar and then added in a little bit of Splenda to sweeten it up)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Then in the wet ingredients bowl mix:
- 1 egg
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
3. Mix wet and dry ingredients together thoroughly and then quickly pour into a baking pan. (I used one that brought them to be about half an inch in thickness but you could do a wider pan if you want them really thin or a smaller one if you want them taller.) Put pan in oven.
4. Check them after 30 minutes and if they look like the edges have gone a little golden brown you can take them out. Mine took a little closer to 35 minutes to be ready.
Extra tip: They taste super delicious when they have just come out of the oven so definitely sample them then. Once they’ve cooled a little you can cut them into squares or rectangles and store in the pantry or fridge for snacks.
You can find the original recipe that I based mine off here. Hope you enjoy!